The Xena Scrolls
By: Gabrielle Bard of Podedia
Scroll# 28: A Solstice Carol
December 23, 48 B.C.
I sing of the king whose name was Silvus for he could not find the love in his heart to allow a celebration of winter solstice. An older poor couple was brought forth to him in the king’s the court for they had not one dinar to pay him though they owed for their taxes. Silvus had no mercy upon them and he sentenced them to ten winters in prison for their humble crimes against his kingdom. Yet he was not finished for their crimes were not all read. It was discovered that they had also been guilty of celebrating the time of the winter solstice. This enraged the king even more for he gave them two more winters for this crime which they had committed.
Thus on the very same night a warrior princess and her loyal sidekick Gabrielle entered into Silvace’s kingdom unaware of the laws which forbade the celebration of solstice. Gabrielle was excited for it was the eve of solstice and it was a time of giving and of sharing love and hope. Xena of course was not as excited, but the bard insisted that they each shop in the market and buy a gift of solstice for the other. They were not to spend more than five dinars for their gift, but Xena did not see the point when she could just as easily give Gabrielle the five dinars. Gabrielle argued with her friend reminding her that it was the surprise of the gift and the thought involved in choosing a gift that made this tradition a special one.
Upon arguing the solstice tradition the two were interrupted by a thief who had stealthfully passed between them stealing Xena’s prized chakram. As they watched the thief disappear into the crowd in the market they noticed that he was only a child. They decided to separate splitting up to trap the thief between them. The chase was on as Xena bolted closely behind the young thief watching his every move. She noticed that he only tried to steal one other item from another unsuspecting shop keeper. Xena decided to give him space and to follow him for he was not the typical thief.
And then as he passed through the back alley way Gabrielle again caught sight of him. She was about to confront him when Xena motioned quietly for the bard to follow. The two women watched as the boy entered into a large old building which looked to be an orphanage. This was definitely not a typical robbery. Xena and Gabrielle followed their thief through the doors of the orphanage and looked to see why he had stolen Xena’s chackram. There before them stood a large beautiful solstice tree with all of the beautiful trimmings and bright golden decorations. There were candles burning upon each branch illuminating the room and there upon the top of the tree was the most lovely star the bard had ever seen.
However, Xena was not so impressed by this beautiful star for it was indeed her stolen chakram which sat radiantly upon the top of the solstice tree. Xena was a bit offended that someone would even think of her chakram as less than a deadly weapon, but Gabrielle was tickled to see the many functions that the graceful chakram held. The young boy was scolded by the lady who ran the orphanage for indeed he had stolen Xena’s chakram yet the bard found it cute that he would go to any length to find a star in the spirit of solstice. Xena approached the wonderful tree and took the chackram from its resting place on top. It had been wrapped in little red, white, and gold bows which brought out so much color.
Suddenly the doors of the orphanage were busted open for there were the guards of Silvus and the bailiff who sat upon Silvus’s court. The bailiff held an order upon a scroll which read that the orphanage was to be vacated by midnight for they had been sentenced for celebrating solstice. Not only that, but if they did not leave they would have to pay a penalty of 10,000 dinars for their crimes. This was not fair, and seemed a cold-hearted deed. Xena took matters into her own hands. She took her chakram bows and all throwing it around about the soldiers wrapping them like solstice gifts together and bound.
As the warrior princess took the four guards of Silvus to a prison within the orphanage Gabrielle took the bailiff noticing that his heart was not as cold as the words upon his parchment. She asked of his name and he said that it was Senticles. Gabrielle had heard of this name Senticles as she searched within her memory to find out who he really was. And then it came to her. Gabrielle remembered that she had once been given a solstice gift that had been crafted by Senticles himself. It had been a little wooden toy lamb whose mouth would open if it’s tail was pulled. Gabrielle expressed her joy as she remembered how happy that toy had made her feel as a child.
Senticles was delighted for a moment to see the joy that his craft of toy making had brought to Gabrielle, but expressed his sadness for toys had been outlawed the day solstice had been banned. When Xena had returned she had wanted to take Senticles to the cell with the other solstice haters, but Gabrielle convinced her that Senticles was not one of them. Instead they would use Senticles to help them in releasing the ban upon this most wonderful holiday.
Gabrielle then asked of Senticles why solstice had been banned, and Senticles told of Silvus’s wife Analia whom had passed away upon a Solstice eve many winters before. His heart had been broken on a night that was meant for joy and so the bard could understand his loss, but now it was time for Silvus to stop mourning and to celebrate once again.
Gabrielle had her own plan though Xena was opposed. She wanted to fight this battle without weapons for the bard was confident that it could be done. Xena of course wasn’t certain, but Gabrielle pleaded with the warrior princess reminding her that it indeed was a peaceful time which should be resolved with peaceful measures. Gabrielle promised Xena that if her plan did not work that they would most certainly smash heads to release these saddened people of Silvace’s kingdom.
The first thing that had to be done was to gather the necessary supplies. Gabrielle was given 35 dinars for it was all that Xena had left herself. There was a very long list, but Gabrielle promised Xena that she would be able to haggle and get everything on the list. And as they parted Xena caught Senticles trying to escape his duty to the people of Silvus for he was a coward who could not bear to think of what Silvus would do to him if he found out about his deeds with the warrior princess.
The hour was growing late as Gabrielle entered the market place. It was now dark and some of the shops were beginning to close up. Yet as her eyes roamed about seeking a deal she was interrupted by the sounds of a man cursing and a donkey screaming. Gabrielle turned about to watch as she discovered that this stubborn donkey was not about to move anywhere, and the man shouted back. She interjected hoping that she could be of some assistance to this man his donkey and their struggle. The man declared angrily and with frustration that he was about to take this beautiful animal to the tannery. He was certain to get 50 dinars for the donkey.
Gabrielle was suddenly upset for how could someone take a loving animal to the slaughterhouse on the night of solstice eve. Without another thought she offered the scrawny middle-aged man 20 dinars for his animal. He refused for he did not want to give up his 50 dinars. In fact, the man said that he would not take less than 25. But then Gabrielle reminded him that his donkey was only worth 50 dinars if he could get it to the tannery. It was quite obvious to the bard that this donkey was not about to budge. She then offered him 30 realizing that he wouldn’t even get 50 despite what he had claimed. The man suddenly stopped trying to struggle with the donkey and he declared that he would take 35 dinars. Gabrielle smiled with delight and then suddenly realized that she had just spent all of their money to save this donkey from the slaughterhouse.
Yet then she realized that she had done something in the spirit of solstice and it did not matter that she had spent all of their money on this poor stubborn donkey. So she took the donkey upon exchanging her last 35 dinars and gave him a name. She called him Tobias. Upon reaching the orphanage Gabrielle had been told that she could not bring Tobias inside. As she tried to take him back out into the cold Tobias refused to budge once again. She was beginning to feel the same frustration that the former owner had experienced with this stubborn animal. Then suddenly someone whistled and Tobias responded. Gabrielle was delighted to see that this donkey had been trained just the way Argo had been trained by Xena. As Gabrielle took her new friend back out into the cold she tried to comfort Tobias and promised him that she would stay outside with him. She did not want her new friend to be lonely.
Upon Xena’s return Gabrielle realized that she had to explain why she had been unsuccessful at obtaining the list of things needed to complete their mission. As Xena came into the orphanage Gabrielle confessed persuasively that she had made a wonderful investment by saving the poor animal from the tannery. Xena could not argue or be upset with her friend for she knew how big the bard’s heart truly was. Gabrielle had only done what she thought had been right. That was what the warrior princess loved most about her misguided young friend.
Xena then explained what had happened while she was at the castle. She had found all of the things that they had needed to complete their mission, but King Silvus had not been so responsive upon her visit to his bedside. He had called upon his guards when he discovered that Xena had come not to rob him, but to convince him to restore the celebration of solstice and to ease up on his tax laws. It was clear that the next part of their mission was to be completed. Yet they needed just one more person to get involved so Xena turned yet again to Senticles. She found him in the court working very late as he always did. Xena entered quietly behind him watching as this old toy maker changed sentences and numbers allowing some mercy to enter into the lives of the poor and unfortunate. Xena found herself touched by this and was certain that he would get involved.
She approached him complementing him on his good deeds, but he was modest and almost nervous that anyone had even discovered his small deed. Xena then asked of him to join her and Gabrielle to carry out their plan yet he refused. He would not go further than changing the numbers upon his parchment, but Xena reminded him that she could easily give word to Silvus of Senticles’s deeds against Silvus. Senticles had no other choice, but to join the warrior princess and the bard in convincing Silvus otherwise.
And so the first part of Gabrielle’s plan had begun. Xena was dressed as the beautifully charming fate Clotho. Clotho had been the fate of Silvus’s past and she was there to remind Silvus. Silvus was afraid at first, but listened as he shook in his bed. Clotho insisted that he come with her to visit his past, but Silvus refused. Then Clotho reminded him of what would happen to his own future if he chose not to come with her. While Xena performed before Silvus, the toy maker performed behind the curtain making his magic believable.
Once Silvus was convinced of the power of Clotho he reluctantly put on his robe and joined Clotho and they went down to the basement of the castle. It was old and musty. There were cobwebs all about for no one had been there for years. Yet the warrior princess had been there earlier when she had discovered the picture on the wall. It had been of Analia and Silvus together and Analia’s eyes were very similar to Gabrielle’s. As Clotho guided Silvus through his past there before him was a shadow . It was the living breathing shadow of Annulya. She spoke lovingly to him yet within a ghostly voice. Clotho then turned to the king and began to speak to him as the suspended shadow fell suddenly to the ground. Gabrielle fought violently through the robes which she wore for she could not see what was going on. And then suddenly the shadow was hoisted back into the air.
Analia then told Silvus that it was now time for him to let go of the pain of his past. She encouraged him to leave her in peace though she apologized for leaving him in her death so many years ago. For a moment Silvus was convinced of this mysterious shadow until he realized and reminded this shadow that she had not died, but she had left him. Suddenly, Silvus became angry and almost distraught. Then he fainted and fell to the floor. Gabrielle was concerned that maybe they had gone too far, but Xena assured her that it had only been a drug that she had put into the king’s wine which would allow him to sleep, but for only a short time.
Then Xena took Silvus back to his bed chambers and Gabrielle whistled for Tobias to take her back out to the ground outside the castle. Once Gabrielle touched the ground she began to look for Senticles for he was supposed to have been watching Tobias. It was obvious to the bard that his cowardice had won out and Senticles had abandon the people of Silvus once again. Yet she saw Tobias and was delighted at how smart this animal truly was. It was as if despite the absence of Senticles this beautiful animal knew just what he had to do. For that he had saved the mission.
While Gabrielle took Tobias to search for Senticles Xena returned with Silvus to his bedchambers. There was little time before the drug from his wine would wear off and he’d be certain to figure out what was really going on. Xena changed costume as well for phase two of the plan required that she become the fate of the present. Lachesis rudely awakened the sleepy Silvus to take him on a journey of the present. At first Silvus was angered yet again at his suddenly being ripped out of sleep, but Lachesis convinced him otherwise. She began by asking him to change into common clothes so that he may walk about his subjects undetected. Lachesis desired to show the king his ugly ways from the perspective of those who know him best. Even Silvus seemed unaware of his arrogance being the king. This showed in his initial defiance of Lachesis’s request of him, but it did not last. With Xena behind the mask of the present convincing the king to so ask he had been asked was not a problem.
Meanwhile Gabrielle found herself amongst the local townspeople in search of Senticles’s home. The people knew just where to find Senticles and so Gabrielle followed his trail straight to his front door. She knocked and called out to him for she was certain that he would be cowering there. After a few moments of persistence and determination Senticles finally answered. Gabrielle was quite agitated that her new warrior friend was not so enthusiastic about helping in the greater good. She scolded him for leaving and asked him what had happened. Senticles was quick to defend his cowardice explaining that there were two guards that had come by while he was watching Tobias. Tobias had been tied to a rope which acted as the pulley in making Gabrielle rise above the floor as the shadowy spirit of Analia. When Senticles had run away it had almost blown the cover of Xena and Gabrielle. Gabrielle questioned Senticles harshly wondering why he ran away from his responsibility to herself and Xena. Senticles responded with a new defense. He explained that he had seen Xena fight earlier and that he was confident Xena was more than capable of rescuing herself and Gabrielle. Senticles’s faith in Xena’s interest in protecting him had been lacking. Before Gabrielle could continue interrogating Senticles for his irresponsibility and cowardice Senticles responded that even Tobias was safer than he within the wrath of Silvus for a donkey would not be punished for a crime against Silvus.
Gabrielle was disappointed in the toy maker whom had once brought the power of love and hope to children all over Greece. She could not grasp what had taken that from him. He seemed to be selfish as Silvus. Gabrielle could not convince him otherwise for his heart had seemingly been damaged beyond repair. With that Senticles had demanded that Gabrielle walk away and leave him alone for he wanted no part in goodness ever again. As Gabrielle’s heart sank for his loss of hope she turned away preparing to give up and move on with the plan without Silvus. But just as the bard turned away from Silvus she saw the most beautiful sight. It was the sight of thousands of toys which Silvus had made for children. There were dolls, and rocking horses, wagons, and more. All were shimmering with hope waiting for the heart of a child to be their new home.
The bard was taken aback and in awe of the spectacle of all of those toys. She felt like a child again as her eyes roamed about the beautiful toys. Suddenly it came to her like Zues’s lightening. She realized that the way to Silvus’s heart was still through the hearts of children. The innocence within began to speak as she inquired of Silvus about the toys. Of course he answered as she had expected, but then quickly scolded himself for leaving the toys about. Gabrielle realized there would be a little work involved in winning him over, but she was confident that she could do it. The bard then ran toward the toys and began to frolic about picking up a doll as she noticed that its eyes opened and closed. Silvus rushed to Gabrielle’s side taking hold of the doll that Gabrielle had taken and began to explain how it worked. But before he could get a second word out Gabrielle moved onto another toy.
She had spotted the very same toy that had been given to her as a little girl. Gabrielle pulled a little wooden lamb off of the shelf before here and began pulling the tail as it made the little sounds of a lamb. Her heart fluttered for in this moment she was a child again as Silvus followed watching how his work had touched the heart of someone he knew. Gabrielle could sense Silvus’s heart opening up with delight and so she decided to take a leap of her own faith. She planted the seed for Silvus suggesting that all of these wonderful toys could make more children happy again. They could begin at the local orphanage. For a moment Silvus was with Gabrielle again as Gabrielle began taking toys off of the shelf to be packed for delivery. Yet Silvus was again reminded of the law of Silvus which stated that toys were illegal. He was still hesitant despite the light in his heart. Gabrielle continued to push despite Senticles’s doubts. She moved ahead with new plan in mind taking the bag which Silvus held suggesting that it could be used for transport to the orphanage. The bard continued to stuff toys into the bag as Senticles tried to plant doubt. Gabrielle spoke against doubt explaining that when Xena was finished with Silvus that the king himself would hand out the toys to all of the children of his kingdom.
Then Gabrielle moved onto the issue of disguise. Senticles would need a disguise to get past the guards so that he could deliver the toys. Just then Senticles halted hope once again. He did not like to be pushed into a small corner, but Gabrielle refused to allow his excuses to prevail any longer. She reminded Senticles of his worst fears. He feared being locked away in a small space. Yet he was already locked up and had not even realized it. His heart was confined to the law of the land which had been created by Silvus’s hand. Gabrielle expressed that Senticles only had himself to fear for it was his own doubts that had held him back. It was not Silvace’s law. Gabrielle pointed out that Senticles was afraid to stand up for his heart’s desire and the heart’s desire of others. Then she sealed the deal reminding him that he was the one in control. It was Senticles who made the choice for life and the lives of others. And so Senticles had seemingly been convinced to stop running and hiding to stand up and fight. Even if it meant that fighting would entail making toys and delivering joys. As expected Gabrielle, Senticles, and Tobias ran into the guards on their way to the orphanage, but they dodged them easily with Senticles’s new disguise. Yet they would have to find a new way into the orphanage rather than using the front door in order to avoid the risk of their own arrest.
It seemed as if the plan was back on track once again as Lachesis had just arrived at the orphanage with Silvus. Upon entering the orphanage Silvus expected to have the door slammed in his face already aware of his impending deeds. Yet the young boy whom had answered did not recognize his king without his crown and royal robes. Instead the boy invited the stranger in for food and drink despite how little they had. Lachesis urged the boy to continue sharing their hardships at the orphanage in order to paint a better picture of the king’s terrible wrath. Silvus was angered as he listened to the boy speak of how terrible the king was. There was not one thing nice about Silvus to the boy or to any other child at the orphanage. Yet a stranger was welcome to share in their secret solstice celebration for the orphanage was to be shut down at midnight. When the stranger inquired he was reminded of the law. If taxes were not paid then the land went back into the hands of the king. The orphanage had been taxed beyond its means and could no longer stay open. All of the kids would be out in the street by the next morning. Without a home the children were not afraid to break the law of celebrating solstice.
After being described as the most tyrant king upon the Aegean the stranger listened as the children’s choir sang. Lachesis was hoping that the king was convinced of his crimes, but instead she was shocked to find otherwise. At the end of the celebration as the time struck the hour Silvus rose from his place with rage. He blamed Lachesis for his nasty deeds of the past several years for it was she and the other fates that had separated Analia from him in the first place. It was an unexpected turn of events that not even Xena could have predicted. And so the king stormed off toward the doors of the orphanage. He’d had enough of the fates’s silly games. As he opened the doors he was greeted by the forces of Silvus. The soldiers were not pleasant and they demanded his surrender, but Silvus resisted his own arrest. When Silvus defied his own law the guards laughed in his face certain that he was not their king. Instead the officer proclaimed himself to be the queen of the amazons and so the battle began.
Lachesis transformed into Xena as she kicked down the columns which held up the foyer. This gave her and Silvus the time to escape as she whisked him back through the doors inside of the orphanage. When they reentered Lionel the young boy whom had been so kind to the stranger warned that they should leave now. Yet just as he had spoken of the arrest that awaited them Silvus passed out from shock and Lachesis was no more. As soon as Lynal realized that it was Xena that had brought in the stranger he warned that the guards they had trapped inside the basement earlier had escaped. Xena was not so worried about those guards any longer. She was more concerned with a new plan. As Lynal directed her down into the basement she took Silvus to be watched by the keeper of the orphanage.
Lynal took the rest of the children to a safe hiding place as Xena looked about to design a last-minute change of plan. But just when it seemed that things were beyond repair Senticles and Gabrielle dropped in through the air. They had entered into the orphanage through a fire shaft which had been not so comfortable for the bard. Yet Senticles was happy as a boy as he jumped up from the ground with his toys and danced with joy. He picked up Gabrielle and began to dance with the bard as Xena watched with delight and Senticles chuckled within his disguise. He wore a red suit with a large white beard that Gabrielle had found back at the basement of Silvus’s castle. It was all too perfect for the warrior princess who now had a new plan with two new warriors at her side.
Using Senticles’s toys and the decorations of solstice Xena, Gabrielle, and Senticles defeated the guards of Silvus. It was beyond imagination that a battle could be won by the joy of toys alone, but it was all that had been needed to have Silvus’s laws defeated. As the battle raged on an army of children arrived as they picked up arms and loads of toys. The guards of Silvus were made fools for they were being defeated by women and children. Just as the battle came to a climactic roar Silvus appeared defying his own laws. He was the final blow to the demise of local law. As the battle ended he declared that the orphanage would not close and that no one would be evicted.
In the next moment things turned solemn as a dark figure emerged from the basement. Silvus’s fears rose as he begged the future not to take his life. The king had hoped that this act to redeem himself would save him from the fates, but instead it healed him. Just as Gabrielle was about to explain who was behind the dark robe the hood of disguise was lifted. Silvace’s lips spoke the name of his beloved who stood before him with regret. Analia had heard his desperate pleas as he had come out of his shock in the basements. She realized now that she too had made mistakes. Both of their selfish mistakes had caused the suffering of many innocent people. And so the two worked out their differences and let love back into their hearts.
As the morning sun rose Xena and Gabrielle took Argo and Tobias down the road onto their next journey. Xena praised Gabrielle for her choice in battle plans for this particular battle and the bard was pleased that she had impressed Xena. The giving did not stop at that for on the day of solstice the four of them ran into some weary travelers. Gabrielle offered them a solstice gift reluctantly giving away her new found friend Tobias so that the three could make the long journey west. Upon saying good-bye to Tobias Xena offered protection for the young couple and their newborn child, but it was refused. And so as Xena, Gabrielle, and Argo continued on down the path Xena surprised Gabrielle with another gift. It was one of Senticles’s toy lambs. Gabrielle felt guilt for not having the time to find a gift for Xena, but instead the warrior princess insisted that the bard’s friendship to her was a gift. The bard could not offer to the warrior princess any other gift worth more than her undying friendship.