The Salmoneus Touch

By John Dorsey

Based on characters and situations created by Robert Tapert and Sam Raimi.

Copyright 2000. Xena: Warrior Princess is a trademark of Universal Studios. No infringement is intended through the writing of this fan fiction.


Gabrielle held the dinar up, looking at it closely, as she and Xena traveled down the grassy trail.

"Money," she mused. "It's amazing what it does to people. Most people will do almost anything for it."

"Even kill," Xena offered.

"Do you think it's true when they say money is the root of all evil."

"I don't think it's the root of all evil, but it sure causes a lot of it. The prospect of money was what convinced most men to join my army. I never cared about money, though. I was in it for the power."

By now, Gabrielle was used to hearing about Xena's dark past, but she still found it a little unsettling.

"Speaking of money," Xena continued, "Do we have enough for a meal?" She nodded towards the city of Thrace which lay a mile in the distance.

"I hope so," Gabrielle answered. "If not, maybe we can earn some money. Wanna do a flying chakram show?"

"Only if I can throw my chakram at you," Xena smiled back.

The duo eventually entered the city of Thrace and were surprised by the spectacular celebration taking place before them. People were cheering and dancing in the streets. Most of them were holding bricks of gold.

Xena approached an old man who had a barrel filled with gold rocks. "Excuse me. Can you tell me what's going on?"

"It's a miracle," the man shouted joyously, holding a large chunk of gold for Xena to see. "Look! Gold! Real gold! And there is plenty for everyone!"

Xena examined the rocks in the cart. They were definitely made of gold. "Where did this come from?"

"A stranger! A magnificent, benevolent stranger who surely must be a gift from the gods themselves! Everything he touches turns to gold!"

"Everything he touches?" Gabrielle asked.

"Yes! He has the power to turn any object into solid gold!"

Xena raised her eyebrows. "Tell me, does this stranger have a name?"

"Yes! The name of this most wonderful, glorious man is… Salmoneus!"

Xena and Gabrielle looked at each other. "Salmoneus," they said together.

"Praise Salmoneus!" yelled one woman.

"Hail Salmoneus!"

"He is the Holy One!"

"Come on," Xena said to Gabrielle. "Let's go find the Holy One."

They both quickly headed down Thrace's main street. Xena didn't know what was going on, but if Salmoneus was involved, it was bound to be trouble.

The Grand Thracean Estoria was the finest hotel in the entire city. Inside the hotel's best suite, Salmoneus was sitting on a fine Persian sofa with ten voluptuous women performing various duties such as feeding him grapes, holding a mirror, waving a fan, or twirling his hair.

"Keep this up, girls, and I'll make it worth your while," Salmoneus smiled widely. "Trust me, you've all got golden futures!"

One blonde leaned over him. "Salmoneus, you have got the most adorable cheeks!" She pinched his cheek.

"Oh, stop that!" Salmoneus laughed. "Yes, I know. My good looks, my charming demeanor, my amazing intellect… It's all very hard to resist."

A waiter of the hotel walked in. "Oh, Holy One, there are some people here to see you."

Salmoneus sighed. "Ah, how the public adores me. Send them in."

Xena and Gabrielle were quickly brought into the room. "Oh, Holy One," Xena said with feigned reverence. "Would you be so kind as to grant an audience to two humble worshippers such as ourselves?"

"Xena! Gabrielle!" Salmoneus exclaimed joyously. "Whaddaya know! It's a small world after all!"

His valets looked at Xena and Gabrielle suspiciously. "Who are these two, my big Sal-a-Man?"

"Don't you girls, worry," Salmoneus assured them. "You'll always be my Sal Girls! Now run along for now." The women all reluctantly left.

"Sal Girls?" Gabrielle asked.

"So," Salmoneus began, getting to his feet, "any chance you two might be interested in becoming Sal Girls? Positions are always open!"

"No thanks," Xena replied. "We heard about what's been going on. You want to explain?"

"Why, sure!" Salmoneus answered. "You're not going to believe it. It's absolutely amazing. Check this out." He picked up an ordinary wooden cup, and Xena and Gabrielle gasped as they saw the brown wood turn to bright gold. He handed it to Xena. "Look at that! It's real gold!"

"Amazing," Xena whispered, examining the cup.

"I'll say," Gabrielle agreed. "Salmoneus, where did you get this power?"

"Well, it's actually quite a tale. A few weeks ago, I was in Athens selling these really cute Hercules paperweights, very fine quality, when I was approached by this mysteriously hooded woman. I don't know who she was. I couldn't make out her face, but she said she wanted to bestow upon me a magnificent gift that would change the whole world for the better. She told me to concentrate on gold, and then suddenly the Hercules paperweight in my hand turned into solid gold! I tell ya, Hercules never looked so good!"

"So what was the catch?" Xena asked.

"That's the wonderful part. She said all I had to do was create lots and lots of gold and give it to people all over Greece. Of course, I could keep plenty of it for little old me. As long as I did that, I would retain the power."

Xena still looked skeptical. "Salmoneus, did you ever consider that this person might have an ulterior motive?"

He thought for a moment, then shrugged. "Not really." Xena shook her head.

"Hey, come on," Salmoneus insisted. "There's nothing to worry about here. Everything is great! Greece is about to enter a new age of peace and prosperity, and I'll be the one to get all the credit! And, best of all, I'm not like that poor sap King Midas. I can turn the power on and off at will, so I don't have to worry about accidentally turning people into gold or anything like that. I'm telling you, Xena, I'm thinking of promoting a new catch phrase. From now on, whenever a man is great at something, people will say he's got, not the Midas Touch, but that he's got the Salmoneus Touch! How does that sound?"

Xena and Gabrielle frowned at each other.

The bard folded her arms. "Well, what do you think, Xena? Can giving lots of gold to people all over Greece really be that bad?"

"It all sounds wonderful," Xena mused, walking to the window and gazing out at the ongoing celebration in the streets below. "But something doesn't feel right. Unfortunately, since nothing like this has ever happened before, there's no way to know for sure exactly how Thrace will be affected. All we can do is stick around for awhile and see what happens."

"Sounds like a good plan to me!" Salmoneus exclaimed. He eased himself back down on the couch, picked up a dozen grapes, and began eating. "Are you both sure you don't want to become Sal Girls? I've got positions open for a nail clipper and a hair comber. Believe me when I tell you… it's not just a job. It's an adventure!"


Because they were friends of the Holy One, the hotel gave Xena and Gabrielle a free room for the night with all the food they could eat.

"I can't remember the last time I ate so much," Xena said the next morning. "That was quite a feast last night."

"I'll say," Gabrielle smiled. "A couple more meals like that and you're going to need some new armor."

"A couple more comments like that and you're going to need some protection," Xena teased back.

Although neither was particularly hungry, they couldn't resist the allure of more hotel food, so they went to the hotel's restaurant. They were surprised to hear on patron complaining loudly.

"By the gods! These prices are insane! Twenty-five hundred dinars for a meal! I don't have that much equivalent gold on me!"

"I'm sorry, sir, but there's nothing we can do," explained the waiter. "Prices are going up."

Xena frowned. "I've got a bad feeling about this."

Gabrielle turned to her. "Xena, do you have any idea what's going on?"

"We better see if anything else like this is happening in the city."

The people in the streets of Thrace looked restless and very nervous. Gabrielle went to a number of merchants' tables and was shocked at the prices. 500 dinars for a simple rug. 700 dinars for a metal pot. Prices were rising drastically all over the city.

"How can this be happening?" asked Gabrielle.

"I'm not sure," Xena replied, "but we better find out and fast. The first thing we need to do is find Salmoneus."

At the Grand Thracean Estoria, Salmoneus was swarmed with people who had invaded his suite.

"We need more gold!"

"Prices are going up!"

"Please help us!"

Salmoneus transformed many of the people's belongings into gold, hoping to appease them. But the crowd wasn't getting any calmer.

"Fellow friends," Salmoneus smiled nervously, "I really could use a bathroom break right now. If you all could just come back a little later, I would deeply appreciate it."

"No!"

"We want gold!"

"Give us gold!"

"Oh, boy," Salmoneus whispered.

Then they all heard a shrieking battle cry. "A la la la la la la la la la la la!"

Xena came flying through the suite window, rolling as she hit the floor. When she stood up, she grabbed Salmoneus and pushed him towards the window. "Come on."

"To be perfectly honest, Xena," Salmoneus explained, "I'm not really a window person."

"Grab onto my back," she ordered.

"But..."

"Do it now!"

"Okay..." Salmoneus gritted, shutting his eyes as he grabbed hold of her.

"We're leaving!" Xena jumped out the window with Salmoneus clinging to her back.

"Aaaaaagh!" Salmoneus yelled at the top of his lungs.

The two landed in a large horse cart filled with hay that Gabrielle had pushed over. Slowly, they both climbed out of the cart.

"Xena, are you all right?" Gabrielle asked.

"Fine," she answered. "Salmoneus?"

Salmoneus was spitting hay out of his mouth. "Puuh! Puuh! Now I know how a mule feels."

"Come on," Gabrielle urged, taking his hand and helping him down. They had to get out of there fast since Salmoneus was being recognized by everyone in the street.

"This way," Xena ordered, and the three of them ran down a narrow alley. After a few twists and turns, they appeared to have lost any pursuers.

"All right," Xena began, catching her breath. "We need to think this through. Why is this happening?"

"Obviously, it's the gold," Gabrielle replied.

"Yes," Xena agreed. "Somehow, by putting all this gold out in the market, the value of gold is dropping."

"The more something is readily available, the less valuable it becomes. That must be why prices are rising," Gabrielle finished.

"I've got an idea," Salmoneus interjected. "I'll just create more gold. That'll fix everything, right?"

Xena shook her head. "If you create more gold, it's only going make prices rise even higher."

"So you're saying that the more money you add to the market, the less valuable it becomes, and it inflates," Salmoneus mused. "Inflates... I've got it! We should call this... inflation! Get it? Inflation? Because it inflates?"

Xena and Gabrielle stared at him.

"Nice," Xena finally answered. "But I'm more concerned with stopping this... inflation than trying to create new economic theory. Thank Zeus that Thrace is the only city Salmoneus gave gold to."

Salmoneus frowned.

Xena felt alarmed. "Thrace is the only city you gave gold to, right?"

"Uh... well... Not exactly."

At that moment, they heard a news scroll boy shouting, "Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Prices in Athens have risen even higher than ours!"

Gabrielle shook her head. "Salmoneus, exactly how many cities did you give gold to?"

"Oh, only... five," Salmoneus answered innocently. "Let's see... Thrace, Athens, Thebes, Sparta... Actually, only four! That's good, right?"

"I think all of Greece is in big trouble," Xena answered. "Now the only questions left are who is behind this and why."

"Xena," Gabrielle began, "if all the money and gold in the major cities of Greece become worthless, the chaos that would result would probably throw most of Greece into all-out war."

"Ares," Xena concluded. "It has to be him. He would love to see Greece erupt into war."

"So how do we stop this?" Gabrielle asked.

"I don't know. If only there was a way to change all the gold back."

Salmoneus sunk down on the ground, his face unable to hide his misery. "Boy, I really blew it. Thanks to my greed, all of Greece is going to be thrown into ruin." He picked up a rock and turned it into gold. "And I thought King Midas had it bad. I wish I could just change things back." Suddenly, the rock he held was transformed back to normal.

"The rock!" Salmoneus exclaimed. "I changed it back!"

Xena felt a glimmer of hope. "If you can do that, then maybe there is a way to change all of the gold back."

"But how?" Gabrielle asked. "Salmoneus would have to physically touch every piece of gold he created."

"There's no way I'll be able to do that," Salmoneus agreed.

"Unless there's a way to do it without a physical touch," Xena contemplated. "I've got an idea. Come on!"


Later that afternoon, Xena, Gabrielle, and Salmoneus entered the Temple of Zeus in the center of Thrace. The temple was empty as a result of all the chaos going on in the city.

"Things are getting worse," Xena said. "The people of Thrace are going to start rioting pretty soon if we don't put a stop to this."

"Let's do it," said Gabrielle, putting a reassuring hand on Xena's shoulder.

"Salmoneus, you ready?" Xena asked.

Salmoneus looked reluctant. "Well, I'm not ready, but let's get it over with."

The three walked over to a small well in the center of the temple. "This is it," Xena remarked. "The Well of Spirituality. Time to get in touch with your spiritual side, Salmoneus.

"Spiritual side!" he scoffed. "Just what I need. Are you sure this is going to work?"

"Now it's just like the priest said," Gabrielle explained. "The well will allow you to-"

At that moment, a hooded figure materialized before them.

"Who's that?" Salmoneus asked.

"Allow me to introduce myself. My name..." And then the robe was tossed away. "...is Discord!"

"Discord..." Xena was confused. "Are you the one behind all this?"

"That's right, Xena."

"But I thought that Ares-"

"Ares is my uncle," Discord smiled, shaking out her long, dark hair. "But this time his hands are clean."

"Why are you doing this?" Gabrielle asked.

"It's simple, really," Discord answered. "I'm the goddess of discord, and I can't imagine anything that would cause more discord that all-out war. Of course, Uncle Ares will be pleased as well."

"You used me!" Salmoneus shouted.

Discord sneered at him. "I used you, fat man, because you were greedy... and stupid. And now it's too late to save Greece, but I'll bet you're still going to try."

"You got that right," Xena snapped.

Discord signed. "Well, I guess that means I'll just have to stop you." She fired a ray blast at the trio.

"Look out!" Xena shouted as she dove to the side. Gabrielle and Salmoneus did the same.

"No, please!" Salmoneus whined. "I'm too old to die!"

"Just stay down!" Gabrielle told him.

"This is one battle you can't win, Xena," Discord taunted.

Xena quickly sprung into the air straight at her. "A la la la la la la la la la la!" A powerful kick sent Discord flying backwards 30 yards where she crashed into an altar filled with flowers.

"Time to wake up and smell the roses, Discord," Xena said with a sly smile. She glanced quickly at Gabrielle, who nodded at her. Then the warrior princess ran off to hold Discord at bay. But if the goddess figured out what they were up to...

"Quick, Salmoneus," Gabrielle urged. "Put your hands in the well."

"Okay," he said reluctantly, "but getting in touch with my spiritual side is not going to be easy." He put his hands in the water and began to concentrate. A priest had told them that the Well of Spirituality could allow him to transcend the physical and reach out with his powers of transformation throughout Greece. It was their only chance to change all the gold Salmoneus had created back to normal.

Discord slowly got up, wiping flowers out of her hair. "Okay, now I'm mad." She fired a ray blast at Xena who jumped behind one of the temple's massive pillars. Out of immediate striking range, Xena spoke. "Tell me, Discord. How would Ares feel if you were to murder his warrior princess?"

"He'd be really angry," Discord uttered as she slowly walked forward. "Which is why I'm not going to kill you, Xena. Still, I doubt Uncle Ares would mind too much if I simply beat you to a bloody pulp!"

"Take your best shot!" Xena challenged as she ran out into the open.

"Gladly." And she fired again.

"Hurry, Salmoneus," Gabrielle said impatiently. "We may not have much time."

"I'm hurrying! I'm hurrying!" Salmoneus complained. "Can I help it if I'm not the spiritual type?" Concentrating harder, he slowly felt the ability coming to reach out into the world. He focused to try to channel his power outward.

"You can't dodge my blasts forever," said Discord as she fired again.

Xena rolled and dodged. "Maybe not, but I can sure have a lot of fun trying!"

The warrior princess vanished behind one of the pillars. Discord carefully walked around, looking for her. "I must admit I've always been intrigued by you, Xena. You're the one warrior my uncle just can't seem to beat. Defeating you will be an honor."

As Discord turned around a pillar, Xena dove into the air and kicked her square in the jaw. "Uhhhh!" The goddess reeled backwards.

Xena looked at her. "The honor is all mine."

Salmoneus felt calm now. Using all the concentration he could muster, he reached out with his power to try to touch all the gold he had created.

Discord got up, holding her head. That was when she sensed something. "What's going on?" Looking in the direction of Salmoneus and Gabrielle, she hissed, "And just what are you two doing?"

Realizing what was about to happen, Xena charged forward.

Discord glared at her. "I think I've had enough of you for now." With a blast of energy, she sent Xena sprawling backwards.

The goddess turned to Gabrielle and Salmoneus. "Now, what to do with you two."

Gabrielle started swinging her staff at Discord, but each swing was easily blocked. "You've gotta be kidding," Discord said in disbelief. With one quick blow, Gabrielle fell to the ground. Discord looked at Salmoneus standing with his hands in the well. "Looks like the only one left is you, fat man."

Salmoneus's eyes were still closed. At that moment, he was finally making the connection he needed. All across Greece, the gold he had created was now being transformed back to whatever it had been before. He took his hands out of the water, opened his eyes and smiled. "I did it!" He took a glance at Discord and became very nervous. "Uh, what I mean is... I did it! I've washed my hands! They're clean now!"

But Discord realized what had happened. "No..." Angrily, she fired a ray blast at Salmoneus.

"Waaaaagh!" he yelled as he ducked, just barely dodging it in time.

"I can't believe it," Discord said disgustedly. "You actually managed to thwart my plan." Her eyes burned with anger. "But that doesn't mean I can't have the last laugh." She raised her hand, preparing to fire a killer bolt at Salmoneus.

"A la la la la la la la la la la!"

Xena came flying across the room and kicked Discord from behind, knocking her forward. "It's over, Discord. You've lost."

Discord turned to face her. "If there's going to be a true loser here today, it's going to be you." She thrust her arms outward, and both Xena and Gabrielle each found themselves surround by a magical ring, leaving them stuck in place.

"Blast," Xena whispered.

"I think we're in trouble," Gabrielle added.

Discord gracefully walked up to Xena, relishing the moment. "You didn't actually think you had a chance against a god, did you? Face it, Xena. If Ares had wanted you dead, you'd have been wormfood years ago." She thought for a moment. "Killing you would make Ares really angry. But you know what? I don't really care." Discord raised her arm, preparing to fire.

Salmoneus charged at her. "No!" he shouted. Discord turned to look, but he touched her before she could react. In almost an instant, the goddess was transformed into solid gold. The magical bonds holding Xena and Gabrielle disappeared.

"Salmoneus, you did it!" Xena exclaimed.

"You saved us," Gabrielle added.

Salmoneus let out a deep exhale. "Boy, that was close! I don't know how you and Hercules do this on a daily basis."

"But what about all the gold?" Gabrielle asked. "Is it...?"

"It's gone," Salmoneus answered. "And now Greece is saved. Thank Zeus for that. I wound up even losing my own gold, but that's okay. I'll just make more... but this time it'll be for myself only!" He smiled and took out a dinar, holding it up. Moments passed, and nothing happened. "Wait a minute! I can't change it! I've lost my power!"

"What a shame," Xena smiled.

Salmoneus frowned. "My big fortune... Gone. Can't I ever make any easy money?"

Gabrielle glanced at the golden statue. "I hope this means we've seen the last of Discord."

"Only until Ares or some other god decides to change her back," Xena replied.

"Darn."

"Darn is right," Salmoneus added. "That being the case, I suggest we get out of here as quickly as possible."

"Sounds good to me," Xena agreed. "I'm curious to see if prices in Thrace are back to normal."

The three walked through the city, and everything was reverting back to the way it had been. With all the excess gold gone, prices were dropping quickly.

"Wait a minute!" Salmoneus smiled as they made their way through the market. "I just realized something. I'm a celebrity now. That's got to be worth its weight in gold. I can see it now... Salmoneus action figures, Salmoneus sandals, Salmoneus formalwear, Salmoneus the auto-biography, Salmoneus the musical! It'll be the biggest thing ever!"

"I wouldn't be too sure of that if I were you," Xena said.

"What do you mean?"

"People are going to remember that you created the gold which caused all those problems. They're probably not going to think too fondly of you for that."

Nearby, a young man accidentally dropped a tray filled with vases, breaking them. A woman stared at him. "Boy, you've sure got the Salmoneus Touch!"

"Great!" Salmoneus frowned. "My name value is ruined. My endorsement and franchise deals are up in smoke. But… what about you two?"

"Us?" Gabrielle asked.

"Yeah, you two are practically celebrities yourselves. How about a Xena convention? I could sell tickets, and you two could sign autographs and answer questions from the fans. It would be huge! And perhaps we could get Hercules and Iolaus to attend, too!"

"No," Xena said as she and Gabrielle kept walking.

"Xena, what about licensing the manufacturing rights to your chakram? I'm sure there are many a Grecian who would pay top dinar for their very own authentic replica of Xena the Warrior Princess's chakram!"

"I don't think so," Xena said frankly.

"Gabrielle, how about selling the publishing rights to your scrolls? A book of your accounts of Xena's adventures would make you a best-selling author in no time!"

"Uh-uh," Gabrielle answered.

"Oh, come on! You two are sitting on top of a merchandising phenomenon! Look at it this way. If you were rich, you could buy the evil warlords off instead of having to fight them! It'd be a whole new way to combat evil! There would be less property damage. Less hospital costs. Less chance of getting hit with an extraneous lawsuit from a warlord who claims he lost mobility in his left thumb! Come on, guys! I'm only thinking of you here!"

"Good-bye, Salmoneus," Xena smiled as she and Gabrielle exited through the gates of Thrace.

Salmoneus stood there and sadly watched them go. Disgustedly, he looked at his hands.

"The Salmoneus Touch..."


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