The Legend Begins
Three weeks later.
Joxer entered the gates of the city of Kolon. The marketplace was filled with buyers and traders, and he waded through the large crowd.
"Finally here. Too bad I didn't think to ask for directions first." He looked around, feeling desperately lost in the maze-like qualities of the city. "Where could Xena be?"
Elsewhere, in the upper room of a tavern, Xena and Gabrielle were planning strategy with their new allies.
"Do you think Joxer will ever get here, Xena?" Gabrielle asked.
"Hopefully not," Xena replied. "But, anyway, if we're going to overthrow Queen Peloren's evil tyranny, we're going to have to train the people to fight."
"There's only one best way for me to fight this evil that threatens the people of Kolon," Joxer said as he walked up to the palace, "and that's to join Queen Peloren's army!" He spotted two guards in front of the palace gate. "Sir, I wish to join Queen Peloren's army."
One guard looked at him quizzically, then opened the gate. Joxer walked through. Of course, he thought to himself, one look at me and they couldn't help but see the power and strength that one such as I commands.
The two guards frowned.
"Imbecile... but he might make a decent courier."
Several days later, Joxer was called to receive orders. The Queen's aide brought him forth. "I have a letter for you to deliver, courier." Joxer winced at the mention of his title. "The Queen's brother, Prince Zoliath, has been away from the castle, but he is returning at this moment. This letter must be delivered to him at once. It is most urgent."
Joxer took the letter. "You can count on me." He left the city and headed down the road, hoping to intercept Prince Zoliath as soon as possible.
Xena would be so proud, Joxer thought to himself. Here I am, righting wrongs and singing songs, being mighty all day long... Hey, I like the sound of that!
Several hours later, Joxer felt exhausted from his traveling. Then he heard a familiar voice coming from the woods.
The warrior turned to see Xena, Gabrielle, and a rather large group of common people in the brush.
"Xena!" Joxer smiled. "Good to see you!"
"Joxer, what are you doing?" Gabrielle asked.
"I'm on important business. I'm looking for Prince Zoliath."
"What a coincidence," Xena replied. "So are we."
"Really?" Joxer said, "Well, he's headed this way, so I guess I might as well wait with the rest of you. In fact, I think I could use a nap."
"Joxer," Gabrielle said. "Where have you been all this time?"
Joxer sat down by an oak tree. "Oh, just being my usual heroic self. I'll tell you all about my mighty deeds later." Not long after, he drifted off to sleep.
Several hours later, Joxer awoke with a start. Looking around, he saw there was a huge battle going on. Xena, Gabrielle, and their friends were fighting a phalanx of soldiers and winning. The enemy was falling left and right.
Joxer drew his sword. "And now, the time for battle has come! I shall not fail! I shall not falter! For I am Joxer the Magnifice-"
"Joxer!" Xena said, walking up to him. "The battle's over."
"Oh," Joxer said innocently, lowering his sword, "Well, if I had been involved, the battle would've ended in half the time."
"And we would've lost," Gabrielle replied.
"Anyway," Joxer continued, "I'm off now to find Prince Zoliath."
"Prince Zoliath?" Xena asked. "He's over there."
Joxer walked around numerous corpses to find Prince Zoliath, bloody and barely clinging to life. Joxer took out his scroll. "My prince," he said, "I have a message for you." He opened up the scroll and looked at the message:
Dear Prince Zoliath,
A band of rebels are waiting to ambush you on your return home. You must take the secret, alternate route to the palace that no one else knows of. For only with your dark magical powers can we defeat the wretched masses that struggle to free themselves from our evil oppression. With you back at my side, we will soon conquer all of Greece.
And then, with one final gasp, Prince Zoliath died.
"Oops," Joxer winced.
Xena grabbed the note. Reading it, her eyes widened. She glared at Joxer for a moment. Then she turned to the soldiers who had gathered round.
"People of Kolon!" Xena shouted. "We owe our victory today to this man, Joxer, who by working on the inside was able to foil the attempt to warn Prince Zoliath of our attack! And now, her most dangerous ally is dead!"
The crowd cheered. "Joxer! Joxer! Joxer! He is a hero! He is our chosen one! Joxer! Joxer! Joxer!"
Xena frowned as she watched the soldiers all running to congratulate Joxer. He owes me big for this, she thought.
After the celebration was over, Joxer came to Xena. "So what should I do now?"
"Just go back to Queen Poleren and follow any orders she gives you."
"Got it. Mighty Joxer will not fail you." And he headed off, clanking all the way.
Gabrielle walked up to Xena. "Don't you think you should have told him to sabotage the army or something?"
"No," Xena replied. "No need to. Not when we can be fairly certain he'll screw up any orders they give him. Tomorrow, we're going to attack the city. Prepare all the men."
Upon returning to Kolon, Joxer was brought before the Queen's aide. "Was the message delivered?"
"Yes, it was..." Joxer answered, looking away. "To be safe, Prince Zoliath decided to lay low forever, er, for awhile."
"Perhaps it is for the best," he replied. "But we must crush these rebels as soon as possible."
The next day, a battle for the city began. The fighting was fierce, but Queen Peloren smiled as she watched the fray from the large window of her throne room. She had hoped her brother would have arrived by now, but no matter. She would take care of the accursed rebels herself.
"I've been prepared for this moment." She looked at her aide. "Order the reinforcements to outflank the rebels. We'll catch them completely by surprise. And then victory will be mine."
The flanking movement was initiated. The rebels were soon in trouble, and the tide of the battle turned. Gabrielle turned to Xena, who had her hands full fighting soldiers.
"Xena!" Gabrielle yelled. "We've been outflanked! We're losing!"
"We haven't lost yet, Gabrielle," Xena answered as she cut down several soldiers with a throw of her chakram. "Not as long as Joxer's on their side."
Joxer watched the carnage from afar, since he was still in the lowly position of courier. There wasn't much to do except examine the two message horns he had been given. Each one was for sending a different signal to the Queen's forces.
The commander yelled to Joxer from afar. "Our forces our routing the rebels, idiot! Blow the horn that tells the men to repeat!"
Joxer could barely hear him over the fray. "That tells the men to what?!"
"Oh," Joxer said to himself, "Blow the horn that tells the men to retreat." Joxer blew the retreat horn several times as loud as he could.
The Queen's forces suddenly stopped, bewildered. But they were trained to follow orders, so they started to withdraw.
"What is happening?!" Queen Peloren screamed. "We were winning! What idiot told the men to retreat?!"
"Xena, what's going on?" Gabrielle asked. "The Queen's forces are retreating. Why?"
"I don't think it's 'why'," Xena answered. "I think it's 'who'."
They both looked at each other. "Joxer," they said simultaneously.
"Quickly!" Xena shouted to all the men. "Press the attack! We can achieve victory!"
The rebels all charged forward and began to route Queen Peloren's disorganized forces. Joxer watched Xena and Gabrielle running towards him. He smiled at them and gave a little wave.
"Come on, idiot," Xena said as she ran by.
"The name's Joxer!" And he quickly trotted after them.
Xena and Gabrielle led the fight into the palace itself. Taking care of the few guards left, they headed for the throne room.
"All that's left now is Queen Peloren herself," said Xena.
The warrior princess smashed open the door to the throne room and she and Gabrielle entered, ready for battle. The throne room was lavishly decorated, adorned everywhere with gold, jewels, diamonds, and expensive tapestries. It was the kind of home that one would expect from a ruler who had been robbing her people blind. Queen Peloren was sitting on her throne.
"Welcome, Xena. I must admit I have gained a certain amount of respect for you. Preventing my brother from reaching me, tricking my forces into retreating... That could only have been accomplished by a true genius."
"Or a true idiot," Xena said under her breath.
Queen Peloren stood up. "My forces are routed. My kingdom is lost. My brother and I could have enslaved all of Greece had it not been for you."
"Well, I have to admit I had a little help..."
"No matter," she replied. "My reign may be over, but at least I will be able to have some satisfaction from your painful deaths."
She raised her hands. Magical rings suddenly appeared around Xena and Gabrielle, keeping them from moving.
"Xena, we're trapped!" Gabrielle said in anguish.
"Son of a Bacchae!" Xena seethed. "I really hate magic." She struggled to break free but could not.
"And now, Xena," Queen Peloren smiled, "before you die you shall witness the destruction of all of Kolon." She reached walked over towards the doorway and pushed up a lever on the wall. Then she walked back towards a large window overlooking the city and the countryside beyond.
"Observe," she said, "With the push of that lever, the door to that large building is raising itself. My fiery dragon, Lucy, is inside. In moments, she will emerge and burn Kolon to cinders. If I can't rule this city, then no one will!"
"Well, I'd say we've just about hit rock bottom," Xena sulked.
Then a powerful sounding voice came from the doorway.
"Halt, evil one!"
They all turned to see Joxer standing in a heroic pose.
Xena sighed. "Oh, no... a lower point."
Queen Peloren stared at the most pathetic looking warrior she had ever seen in her life. "Who are you?"
"I am Joxer the Mighty," he answered. "And I am here to save my friends. And to stop you."
Queen Peloren looked at Xena and Gabrielle. "He's your friend?"
Gabrielle shrugged, "Let's say... 'acquaintance'."
"Just what kind of idiot are you?" Queen Peloren asked.
"The kind of idiot that men fear. The kind that will put an end to your evil ways forever. The kind that-"
"The kind that bores his enemies into surrendering!" Xena finished. "Joxer, there's a dragon that's going to destroy the entire city, so if you're going to do something, DO IT NOW!" She could see the red dragon's head slowly beginning to emerge from the opened entrance, trails of fire spewing out of her snout.
Joxer unsheathed his sword. "Take your best shot, your highness."
"My pleasure," Queen Peloren answered. She raised her hand, and an invisible force sent Joxer flying backwards into the wall. His sword went flying off to the side.
Queen Peloren looked at the two women. "So much for your hero."
Xena and Gabrielle looked at each other. "Our hero?"
"Face it," the Queen taunted, "this fool is nothing without your help."
Joxer was struggling to get up. "Mighty Joxer will show you he is beyond help!" He managed to grasp the lever that the Queen had moved and used it to start pulling himself upright.
"No!" she shouted. "Don't touch that!"
As Joxer got to his feet, he accidentally pulled the lever all the way back down. The door of the dragon's chamber suddenly came crashing downwards, and the dragon had only gotten her head out. The door crushed her neck, and the dragon collapsed, roaring in agony as she breathed her last.
"No!" Queen Peloren cried, crumbling to her knees. "Lucy! My baby! Nooooooooooooo!"
The magical rings around Xena and Gabrielle suddenly vanished, and they charged at the queen, grabbing her and quickly tying her up. Xena was shaking her head.
"He did it. I can't believe he did it."
Joxer stood there, bewildered. "What did I do?"
Other rebel soldiers ran into the room. "What happened?" asked the lieutenant. Looking at Queen Poleren, he said, "Xena, you did it. You defeated the Queen and killed her dragon! You're a hero!"
"Well... actually..." Xena winced. "It wasn't me. It was Joxer who did everything."
He turned to Joxer. "Joxer, so you're the hero!"
The men gathered around Joxer and started to cheer.
"Joxer! Joxer! Joxer! He is our hero! He is the chosen one! We will sing his praises forever! We will spread word of his greatness until he is the most famous warrior in all of Greece! Joxer! Joxer! Joxer!"
The celebration in the newly liberated city of Kolon continued for three days, with Joxer receiving all the glory. On the third day, a lavishly-dressed man approached Joxer.
"Excuse me, can I have a moment of your time, Mr. Hero?"
Joxer shook his hand. "Joxer the Mighty at your service."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Joxer," the man answered. "I was just passing through Kolon and I heard of the incredibly heroic deeds that you did. Defeating the evil queen, rescuing Xena and Gabrielle, saving the entire kingdom from destruction. It's hard to believe. In fact, it's even harder now that I've gotten a look at you... but no matter. I want to offer you a possible six-figure contract. With your fame, the marketing possibilities are endless. I'm talking big dinars. Joxer action figures, Joxer armor, Joxer hats, Joxer beer, Joxer board games, Joxer the Musical! I'm thinking endorsements! Franchises! There's no limits here! I'm telling you with my help it won't be long before you're more famous than Hercules!"
"Sounds good to me," Joxer answered.
"By the way," the man smiled, "my name is Salmoneus."
Gabrielle found Xena off by herself during the final celebration. The warrior princess was sitting at the table on the outside patio of a bar, sharpening her sword.
"Xena," she said. "How are you?"
"Fine," Xena answered, not looking at her.
"What are you doing?"
"Oh, just planning a murder."
Gabrielle smiled. "And just whose murder might that be?"
"Everyone's favorite hero."
Gabrielle folded her arms. "Joxer did give us some credit, though."
Xena stopped sharpening the sword and turned to her. "Oh, yes. During his big speech when he thanked all the 'little people', I believe he did mention our names."
Gabrielle walked over to her and sat down. "You know, I get the impression that this isn't so much to do with Joxer as it is to do with you. You feel bad because you needed Joxer's help to win."
"Gabrielle," Xena sighed. "It just bothers me that, without Joxer there, we would've been killed. You would've been killed. I like being independent, not having to rely on anyone but myself. But to have had to rely on Joxer..."
"If Joxer hadn't been there, we would've found some other way to beat Queen Peloren. But Joxer was there, and he did save our lives. We owe him... unfortunately. And I think he deserves to enjoy the spotlight. He is a good person... deep down, anyway."
"You're right, Gabrielle," Xena replied. "Why are you always right, anyway?"
"Well, someone needs to keep you on the straight and narrow."
"Yeah," Xena answered. They hugged each other gently.
Xena and Gabrielle came apart from their embrace to see Joxer standing there holding his helmet. He had a modest look on his face, which was a first.
"Hi, Xena. You know, I never had a chance to tell you this, but... I wanted to thank you... for having faith in me... for having faith in me to screw things up for the enemy."
"I have to admit," Xena replied, "no one screws things up better than you, Joxer."
"That means a lot to me, Xena. Really... it does."
"Joxer, come here," Xena said. She and Gabrielle stood up. Joxer walked over to both of them. "Look, I know I had said that you didn't have what it takes to be a warrior, and, even though I still have my doubts, I can't deny that you saved our lives from Queen Peloren. And for that I want to thank you."
"Me, too," Gabrielle said, resting a hand on his shoulder. "Thank you, Joxer."
Xena smiled. "And, most of all, I want to say that Gabrielle and I are proud to have you as our friend."
She reached out her hand. Gabrielle placed her hand on it, and then Joxer placed his on top. Grasping them tightly together, no one could deny the bond that was forming between them.
Xena smirked. "Just don't tell too many people..."
"Xena," Joxer began, "if you ever again need a hero like me, I'll be there."
Xena raised her eyebrows. "If we ever again become that desperate, we'll let you know."
"Well," Joxer said, the usual cockiness returning to his voice. "The celebration is just about over. It's time to move on. Time to find new adventures, new challenges. I could use two handy sidekicks. What do you say?"
Xena and Gabrielle looked at each other.
Suddenly, a man appeared. "Joxer! I am from the town of Nadaron. My people have been threatened. We need your help!"
"Maybe we should all go..." Xena began.
"Don't worry, Xena," Joxer interrupted, throwing his helmet on. "This is a job for Joxer the Mighty! Nothing will stand in my way! Nothing will turn me from my quest! Off to Nadaron!"
Joxer began to run full speed down the street. Xena, Gabrielle, and the messenger stared after him.
"He's going the wrong way again," Xena frowned.
And so Joxer, the mightiest hero in all of Greece, headed off for another adventure, even though he was once again heading the wrong way. He eventually did find his way to Nadaron, but... that is a story for another time.
Go to Part 3
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