Disclaimer: All characters from the show Xena: Warrior Princess belong to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended.
Summery: Book 3 of the Argo Tails Series. The events of "In Sickness and In Hell" as told from Argo's point of view.
The meadow was beautiful. The grass was lush and green. I knew that where I was had to be the most perfect place on the face of this earth. I had everything I could ever want. The lakes were so clear I could see right to the bottom of them and the water--the water was the sweetest water I had ever tasted. The grass was great too. Tall and juicy--I hadn't had grass that tasted that good in a long, long time. It was bliss. But there was just one problem: I missed Xena--terribly.
I hadn't seen her for a long time, I think for many months. I don't know where she was or what she was doing. She had left me a long while back, telling me that where she had to go was too dangerous for me. I didn't want her to leave then, but she did anyway and it was sad to see her ride away from me on another horse. I had no idea when I would see her again, but I knew she loved me enough to come back and get me. I hope.
Like I said, that was many, many moons ago. The days would go by and I still never saw her. I tried to forget about my loneness while I waited, but it was really hard. I missed her a lot. So I spent my time in that meadow, near to where she had left me. Getting food and water wasn't a problem; I had enough of everything I needed, except companionship. I spent days just wandering around into a forest nearby and around the perimeter of the meadow. I didn't want to go too far because I knew if Xena came back, she'd be looking for me there and when that happened, I wanted to be there to greet her.
But even though Xena wasn't around, I have to admit it was nice just to be free in a place that reminded me of where I grew up with my mother. And every day, the hope that Xena would return, was enough to keep me happy. I knew Xena couldn't abandon me.
Then one day, while I was munching on some of that yummy grass, I looked up and sensed something. I wasn't exactly sure what it was, but I knew something was going to happen. I looked around and started to run through the meadow and then along some trees. I stopped and looked around. I was so sure of what I sensed, at that point. I knew Xena was nearby and my heart was so excited. But when I went to the place where I thought she'd be, she wasn't there.
I looked around some more and then walked off. I was so sure she was there, but it turned out that I had been wrong.
I wandered around for a long time after that. I paced back in forth through the meadow. I wondered if I'd ever see Xena again. The sun started to go around and I galloped into a part of the meadow that was open where I could see everything around me.
In the distance, I could see a small camp or what looked to be a camp. There were people walking around, people dressed in what looked to be some sort of armor. They didn't look very nice at all. I reared up and neighed. Maybe standing on two legs, I could get a better view of the camp. I looked and returned to four feet. I just stood there, looking on at the camp. After a short while, I saw a couple of men walking toward me. I didn't know what they wanted. It looked like they were carrying ropes with them.
I knew that something wasn't right. I reared and started to head off in the other direction, but I wasn't fast enough. The men ran up to me and lassoed the ropes around my neck before I had time to get away. I didn't know what was going on. I was scared. I struggled and kicked, trying to get away.
"Hold her! Hold her!"
"What are you doing to me? Why do you want to catch me?"
I struggled for as long as I could, but I finally gave up when I realized that there was no escaping their ropes. I stood there for a moment as they looked at me and then they started to lead me down to the camp. I didn't know why they'd want me, but I knew if they got me, then I'd probably never see Xena again. She'd never be able to find me if they had me.
I still continued to struggle against them as they led me toward the camp. I was definitely giving them a workout. I was strong, and it showed as they tried to hold onto me, sometimes nearly letting the rope that bound me slip out of their hands.
When we got to the camp, they led me over to a clear area where a whole bunch of men stood around, watching. They looked both intrigued and frightened by me. Then, a man, who looked to probably be the leader by his clothing, walked up to me. He held a dagger in his hand and he had a somewhat evil grin on his scarred face.
"What a beautiful animal you are."
"Yeah, well what a scary man you are."
I looked at him cautiously as he walked around me, seeming to examine me. When he returned to my front and looked at my face, I saw him raise the dagger. I knew that the worse was to come. I thought he wanted to kill me. But then, from his other had, which he'd had behind his back, he brought it to my face and in it was an apple. My eyes grew wide when I saw it. I loved apples and I that moment, I nearly forgot where I was or what was happening to me. All my attention was focused on the apple.
He started to take the dagger and carve the apple into little slices. I watched him intently, still not remembering where I was. I think the apple had put a spell on me because that's the only thing I cared about at that moment.
He started to feed the pieces of apple to me and I was very grateful. I knew I shouldn't take them from him--he was a bad man I could tell--but I couldn't resist the lovely apple he was giving me. I hadn't had anything that tasted that good in a long time. Sweet and juicy; it was great. When the apple was all gone, I continued to look at the man. And then suddenly, I noticed that the ropes were gone from around my neck and I felt that there was something on my back. I turned my head and found a saddle strapped to my back.
I couldn't believe they had tricked me--giving me something that I loved so that they could get a saddle on me. But once they'd done it, there was nothing I could do. I had to obey them no matter what. If I didn't, I was sure that they'd put me down.
The leader walked around me and over to another man who held a bridle. He walked back and put it on my head. I wanted to resist, but I knew it would have done no good. After he put the bridle on my head, I grabbed a strange contraption from another man. It was some sort of mask with a horn on it. It looked scary and when he started to put it on my head, I tried to protest. I finally, though, had to let him do it. It covered my entire face except for my eyes and nose. I could see, but it felt very strange to have something on my face. I'd never had something like that happen to me before.
When I was all ready, the leader climbed on my back. He shouted something to the other people around us and then he kicked me, harder than Xena ever did. It hurt for a second, but then I started of in a gallop. Where I was going, I had no idea. I could hear the sounds of other horse hooves pounding behind me.
I road for a long while until a small village came into view. I galloped into the village and then suddenly, I saw the other men and their horses riding around me and attacking the villagers. I galloped around, the man on my back leading me through the village. The sounds of screaming and fighting could be heard and I wished Xena was around. Then, as I zoomed through the village, I caught the sight of someone familiar. It was Joxer, trying to fight and failing horribly.
It was at that instant that I knew if Joxer was around, someone I knew, then I hoped that other's I knew would be around as well, like Xena. I looked franticly, and then saw Gabrielle fighting. I looked some more and finally, my eyes landed on Xena fighting a whole bunch of thugs at once. I was so excited I nearly reared, but the man on my back prevented me from doing so. I neighed and Xena turned. Our eyes met and I knew she knew who I was. She seemed so happy, like she'd been looking for me too. She whistled. I tried to run over to her, but the man on my back wouldn't let me do so.
"What's wrong with you?! What's wrong with you?!" he shouted.
"I'll tell you what's wrong. Let me go! I want to be with Xena, not you!"
"That's it, girl! Come on, it's me!" Xena said.
I tried to go to her, but it wasn't working. The man, instead, guided me out of the village and I was forced to ride away from Xena.
"No! No! Xena!"
I had to ride away. I tried to look back, but it didn't work. There was nothing that I could do. I was trapped with some bad guy. But I knew that since Xena saw me, she would come after me. She wouldn't leave me with some bad man. So I knew I'd see her again eventually.
I was forced to ride back into the bad guys camp. He dismounted from my back and led me to a large tent. I walked inside, he took off all of the gear I was wearing and then left the tent. It was a large tent. I couldn't believe he'd give me such a nice place to stay. It was better than a stable with wooden bars trapping me, that's for sure. I looked around and found a bag of oats. It was good to see some food. I was really hungry. I walked over to it and started munching and before I knew it, every last oat was gone.
When I finished, I heard the faint sound of some people shouting outside the tent. I didn't know what was going on. All of a sudden, the front flap of the tent opened and Xena burst in. She looked scraggily and worn out, but it was definitely her.
"Hey, girl. It's me. I know I smell funny, but--I had kind of a tough week."
She walked up to me and rubbed my nose briefly.
"Look--I know you've been mad. I know that you've been avoiding me."
"No I haven't been mad. Well, I guess a little. You did leave me for an awfully long time."
"But I've come back, and I'm never gonna let you go, again. So, let's get out of here, huh?"
I neighed as she grabbed my reigns.
"Xena, those guys out there are scary. I don't want to go out there. Wait till nightfall when they're all asleep, okay?"
I dug my hooves into the ground.
"Hey. Now, you keep that up, and everybody's gonna know that we're here."
"Please, can we just wait until it's dark?"
I continued to dig my hooves into the ground and neigh. I could tell that Xena was getting frustrated. I knew she'd protect me, but I still didn't want to go out there. If they saw me getting away and if they caught me somehow, they might have killed me for trying to escape. I was afraid of them.
"I am not--leaving--without you."
"I'm sorry, Xena, but I can't go right now."
I stepped back and it sent her flying backwards, after pulling on my reigns so hard. I really didn't want to not go with her, but I knew I had to wait; for my sake and for hers.
I stood in that tent for a long time and then the scary leader from before came in and put the saddle on my back and that strange mask thing on my head again. He mounted and road me out of the tent.
"Why am I never told where we're going?"
I galloped quickly into a forest clearing and turned a corner to see Xena, standing in the grass in front of me. The man on my back urged me on and I was forced to gallop straight at Xena. I saw her look at me and she dropped her sword and opened up her arms. The man on my back intended for me to run her over, but I, as well as Xena, knew I wouldn't be able to do that.
I galloped toward Xena and when I got only a few inches in front of her, I dug my hooves into the ground, stopping abruptly. The man went flying from my back. I was so glad to get him off me.
Xena smiled and walked up to me.
"Argo--here--let's get this off 'a you, huh?"
She slowly undid that horrible mask from my head and soon I was free from it.
"Oh, thank you, Xena. I hated that thing!"
She rubbed my nose and I was so happy to be back with her again. I hadn't seen her in so long, it was just great to have her back.
"There. There. I knew you couldn't do it to me, girl. We've been through too much, together, huh? You came pretty close, though."
"Hey, you know I could never kill you even if you leave me alone for a long, long time."
While we stood there having our little moment, I saw that bad man stand up and mount another horse. He started to charge at me. Xena saw this and she quickly mounted on my back and charged him again.
"Oh, it's so good to have you with me again, Xena. You're the only one I really like riding me."
I ran toward him and I heard the sound of swords crashing together. The fight was soon over, I suspected, because I saw the man fall from his horse and I walked over to him, looking down at him. He seemed so pathetic.
Xena dismounted, and turned to look at me. Gabrielle walked up from behind some bushes. Both she and Xena were smiling and Xena was petting me again. It's good when she does that.
Later that day, I stood near some trees with apples on them and Xena stood in front of me. I neighed softly at her and she rubbed my nose.
"Look--I missed ya. I missed ya so much. Look--I promise I will never leave you alone for that long, again."
"I sure hope not. I was so lonely! And I missed you too. A lot."
"I thought I was never gonna getcha back."
"You're not the only one who thought that."
"Just one thing. How did Acestus win you over? What did it?"
I neighed slightly and looked over at the apple tree next to me. I was ashamed that it was an apple that did the trick, but they were so good.
"Apples? Ya left me for apples?! Well, thanks, pal."
"Hey! I love apples! It's not my fault he had one. It's like, they put a spell on me and I can't resist them. You should give me apples more often."
Xena just shook her head, and led me forward by my reigns. I knew she really wasn't mad and hey, I'm a horse, that's what I do.
Well, it wasn't all that bad between us after that. I was just happy to have Xena back and I knew she felt the same. We would always be together. We were a team and I didn't ever want to leave her again.