DISCLAIMER: Please refer back to "Step 1" for specific disclaimers

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"All right then, in you go!" Lakme said with a soft smile as she lowered Xena down into the dark recesses of Gabrielle’s amazon goatskin bag. The warrior was dangling in the air, holding onto the waitress’s soft fingertips with tiny, strong hands and looking down, praying that there would be a soft place to land amongst the bard’s treasured belongings.

Xena aimed her legs towards a folded cotton shift and then let go. Her landing was perfect, but softer than she expected. Too soft perhaps. She landed with a mushy "puff" and was practically smothered by the material as it bunched up around her.

"You all right?" Lakme asked, peering down into the bag.

"Fine!" came Xena’s muffled reply. Tiny fists punched the fabric away as she attempted to extract herself out of the depression.

Lakme nodded, smiled and then closed the flap of the bag. She looked up at Mallika and Naderus.

"Ready to go!" The barmaid announced. She lifted the bag onto her shoulder and then grabbed Gabrielle’s staff to follow her companions out of the house.

The sudden motion cause the warrior to roll unexpectedly to the opposite end of the bag. She was thrown very unceremoniously against the side of the goatskin, landing a tender rump on something very hard, cold and pointy.

"Yow!" Xena yelled at the intrusion, lifting her butt away to glare at the offending article.

"What the Hades does that bard keep in here?"

She looked down to find the silver beak of Ephiny’s bird staff head pointing up at her.

Xena blinked.

"So this is where that ugly thing disappeared to!" The warrior mused, "I wonder what else that bard of mine keeps in here."

Xena began to mischievously dig amongst Gabrielle’s secret treasures before being tossed once again as the bag swayed on Lakme’s shoulder. The warrior flipped uncontrollably across a brightly patterned blue silk scarf until her head banged against the rich wood of a meticulously carved lamb.

She grabbed it’s tail to right herself, only to flop back as the tail released, adding an offending ‘bleep’ to the warrior’s humiliating position.

"I always knew that would come back to bite me one day," the warrior commented as she rubbed her forehead and let go of the tail. It snapped back into place and the lamb closed its mouth without comment.

The bag swayed again and Xena was tossed onto the shaft of a feathered quill. Flat on her back and barely able to lift her head, the warrior’s eyes widened at the black, ink stained tip pointing up from between her legs.

"Great Zeus!" Xena breathed, "One moment, I’m kitty nibble.....then next almost shish-kabob."

The warrior’s dark head flopped down in exasperation.

"Doesn’t she throw anything away!?"

Xena stayed where she was, spreading her arms out to grab onto anything that would keep her in place as the bag swayed to and fro.

After a moment, however, a heady scent began to tickle at her nostrils. Xena lifted her head up and took an experimental sniff.

She suddenly recognized the all too familiar odor.

"Something smells like warrior sweat in here....!"

Xena rolled towards the source and started rummaging around some more, hotly curious to find out just what it was the bard had pinched from her and was hiding in the bag.



Continued in Step 17


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