Just in time for Halloween...

Flopsy 3 - er, I mean 4 : The Easter Bacchae

by
Chris M.
<thoth_anubis@yahoo.com>

*****

Disclaimers & Author's Notes :

Hello?

Is there anybody... out there?

Good. Now that I've got the gratuitous musical reference out of the way, I can begin.

Hi, my name's Chris and I'm the author.

I thought, since this is a holiday piece (although by the time this is posted, it's considerably past the holiday, so you might want to wait to read it until Easter comes 'round again - it's up to you), that I'd make the disclaimers something special. Well, really the holiday had nothing to do with it; I had a wild hare, so to speak, and you're reading the results : the author speaks directly to reveal the disclaimers. Pretty wild, huh?

First, let me tell you that this piece is set in Katrina's Blood & Roses altaverse, which is archived on her "Realms of the Xenaverse." The premise of these stories is that Gabrielle is the daughter of Bacchus and Xena is the daughter of Ares... and they're involved romantically. {And there was much rejoicing.}

But not in this piece. {Pause for the collective sigh of disappointment.}

This is the third {actually fourth, now, but who (besides me) is counting?} in a sort-of spin off series derived from a tale I created last Halloween after seeing the rabbit attack scene in "In Sickness And In Hell." (The prior stories can also be found on Katrina's site - here and here and here ... shameless plug.)

Spoiler ALERT!

We have spoilersign for the first Flopsy story, and a bit from "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

Best put out a Thumper to distract it...

Oops, wrong rabbit for this story. And no, my name is not Chris Mua'dib - that's another story.

Anyway, to give you some basic background info, a cute little rabbit named Flopsy, having eaten a plant covered with Bacchus' blood (and later tasted his daughter Gabrielle's as well) was turned into an immortal bacchae, as in the vampiric creatures from the Xena episode "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

Flopsy has proven to be surprisingly popular - hence the existence of this third {4th} story.

I wanted to post this before Easter, but sadly the muses were yanking me in other directions, and... by the time I was finished, it was late. But don't worry, the rabbit's still alive!

Sorry... bad (and nowadays probably obscure) joke. This piece is sprinkled with them since I was in a very snarky mood and was short on sleep when I wrote this... just so you know.

To continue the disclaimers, be aware that this is an alternative piece. Nonexplicit, but still, an alt fic. Before you protest that your children like Flopsy too, I am aware of that, and have made some allowances. All of the stuff that might be construed as suggestive - or even unnecessary for the basic, Easter-based story will be contained in blue "curly brackets," ie, {}. Like so...

{"Oh, Xena..." Gabrielle cooed, licking her lips. "Do that again... Harder!"}

You see? You can safely cut out that stuff... {and most of this forward, I must admit,} and only read the nice, Easter-based General fic that remains. I was going to simply write two versions, but that proved to be a trifle unwieldy. Instead, simply cut out or ignore such comments if you don't want to read them, or before allowing those who should not hear of such things to read them.

Not that I'm advocating censorship - I don't think it's The Way to do things. Just...

Read Responsibly.

This has been a public service announcement from Fanfic-aholics Anonymous.

{There's a comment here!}

See? It's easy to handle. However, be warned that I was in a rather odd humor when I wrote this {as if you couldn't tell that already}, hard on the heels of "The Morning After 'A Day in the Life,'" and "The Night After 'The Quest,'" (More shameless plugs), so some of that style of innuendo and snide commentary creeps in, though I attempted to keep it to a minimum.

Unlike my other Blood & Roses stories, there is no bodycount to be found. No on-camera sex, (although the odd innuendo can be found in {}), and no alcohol or henbane.

Think of this story as having the author's commentary on the second audio track - much like they do with DVD's. The alt stuff is on the second track.

{Any comments asking about multiple angles in my next PWP will be ignored.}

Whichever you choose to read - the general or the alt version - enjoy yourself, and let me know what you think! I'm hard at work on Deus Ex Gabrielle and Flopsy 4 : The Fox and the Bunny (an X-Files crossover), and would love to hear any comments. {By the time you read this, that story will have long since been posted. It's my own fault for having a dozen or more works in progress, I suppose.}

Oh, before I forget, the Xenite disclaimer : The Easter holiday {and the Halloween holiday} was not harmed during the production of this fanfic, though some eggs were severely shaken and had to be sedated.

One final note : please send any comments to me at thoth_anubis@yahoo.com. It Bugs me when I don't get comments, since I'm a rabbit Xena fan - and I'm up to my old Trix.

{P.S. (added 10/30/99) - I wrote this a long time ago... even before Easter '99, but since I was kinda torn about the format and debated whether or not to post it, didn't finish before the holiday was over - which is why it's sprinkled with references that are now outdated. This was originally Flopsy 3, but is now Flopsy 4 - hence the name - and makes some jokes and references that "Animal Attraction" has played havoc with. Rather than scrapping it or revising it entirely to take out those references, I decided to simply leave it as is. Well... aside from 1 or 2 minor side comments, anyway. <sigh> Between this and my Buffy XO (which is now set 2 seasons ago in Buffy continuity)... I really need to finish some of these stories. Regardless, enjoy, and have a happy (and safe) Hallowe'en!

Well, with no further ado... Here is... the rest... of the story. And you... are there. {Remember those Walter Cronkite narratives?}

*****


*****

Easter...

Even before the coming of the Christian era, the time was special, and it continues to be so to this day. It is a time of rebirth, and the dawning of spring - with all the hope and joy of renewal that comes with it. It is a special time, and one that resonates in the hearts of people everywhere.

This is a story of a time long ago, a time of myth and legend...

{No, its not what you think. This is set in Germany sometime around the year 1448 - not Greece during the age of heroes. So stop whistling that theme song. Anyway...}

Many people have wondered at the rich panoply of symbols and practices that have come down to us through the ages, and scholars and historians have found some of the answers.

Eggs and Easter - or whichever holiday was celebrated with the season at the time - have long been associated with one another. What could be more appropriate, after all... An egg is a hard, featureless outer shell that is broken apart as the new life growing within bursts forth. The symbolism with the arrival of spring is obvious.

{The casting of rabbits as symbols of fertility is even more obvious. If you truly need an explanation of this, read many more alt fics and you'll eventually begin to get the idea.}

Yet people still wonder, even as they gorge on chocolate and search for the surprises left by the Easter bunny.

{A joke about raisins was cut from here in the interests of, er... good taste.}

Where, they ask, did such things as the tradition of decorating eggs for Easter come from?

Although the answer to that question has long been thought lost in the mists of time, a recent discovery in an obscure library in northern Africa by the noted scholarly and archaeological team of Janis Covington and Mel Pappas may change that idea.

The find - one that is hoped will shed new light on the subject - had been preserved in the dusty shelves of their archives, donated to their collection by a learned Muslim historian during the Dark Ages and later forgotten, only to be rediscovered there by the two Americans.

So what was this remarkable find? It was no less than the fragment of a scroll, the parchment amazingly well preserved despite its antiquity. Discovered inside a medieval reliquary along with a surprisingly thick piece of ancient eggshell, it is as cryptic as it is illuminating.

Conservatively dated to several centuries BCE, the piece of eggshell may well force scholars to revise their theories on the origins of certain Easter traditions. The eggshell is colored an amazing shade of green, the hue still rich and vibrant centuries later.

{And you subtexters thought nothing good (except the story about soulmates) came out of "Prometheus," the Herc-Xena crossover episode...}

Sadly, the exact meaning of the few words written upon the scroll fragment is open to several interpretations, and scholars vehemently disagree. Upon the fragment, in a bold, slashing script, the inscription "I have many skills," is written.

{Below, rather shakily but unmistakably in the handwriting of Gabrielle, the famed and storied author of the so-called "Xena Scrolls," is appended, "I'll say!"}

Undeniably fascinating, but the tale of that discovery is well documented in the forthcoming book by Dr. Covington, "Warriors and Bards and their Eggs." Consult that tome if you wish to learn more details about that find, or watch for a possible TV special to air later this fall on the Science Channel.

{That's a story for another time... You did wonder how Xena and Gabrielle could have descendants, right? Given that Solan and Hope are dead... Eggs factor rather heavily into reproduction, don'cha know - and this comment made rather more sense before "Animal Attraction" aired... but who coulda predicted?}

For this... is a story of the origin of other traditions.

Specifically, this is a story of Easter, the hunt for eggs, and a bunny...

{Cue Forest music - Handel's "Pastoral"}

Near a small village, nestled on the edges of an outgrowth of the Black Forest, a master craftsman and artisan lived. His name was Dieter, and he was a true artist.

Under his skilled hands, wood sang and revealed the treasures locked within. His works were valued not only for their utility and durability, but also for their beauty. He loved his work, and that love shone from every piece he produced.

Of all the times of the year, Dieter most loved Easter. The forest around his secluded home came to life as nature rejoiced in the arrival of spring, and he celebrated the season in the traditional way : by creating magnificent eggs.

{His girlfriend did too... which is why Dieter was engaged to be married while her father stands behind him with a loaded crossbow... but that's really another story.}

For Dieter, decorating eggs was a more complicated process than simply dyeing them or painting them. First, he emptied the shells by drilling tiny holes, and then used the holes to gradually blow the contents out. Next with delicate blades, he would carve beautiful patterns and designs into the hollow shell. It was a painstaking process, and he sometimes had to discard a ruined piece. Not very often, though. He was a master craftsman, after all. Once the carving was complete, with dye and paint and a deft hand he would complete his work, and a perfect egg was created.

{Wait a moment, you say. Here it is, almost the second page and there's been no skin. How is this an alt piece? Well, I couldn't exactly talk about how "his eager mouth and skilled tongue teased the opening, inducing it to give up the rich juice from its depths" in the general part of the story, now could I? Suffice it to say, he too has many skills - which is another reason for the crossbow wedding.}

That fine Easter morning found Dieter with a basket full of such eggs, ready to present to the village children. With a smile on his face, and joy in his heart, he set out with basket in hand, heading for the village.

The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the world resounded with life and promise. Everything was so perfect... Why, as he walked along the forest trail, he even saw a cute little bunny nibbling on tender grass shoots.

{Uh oh, you say? Yes... I see you've heard this story before.}

But that was no ordinary bunny... it was Flopsy : the Bacchae Bunny!

{Enough with the melodramatic music, ok? If I'd wanted a soundtrack, I'd have simply told you to go put on "Xena Kicks Bacchae Butt" from the second... hey come back! OK... are you in the right mood to read now? Good.

Now as I was saying... It was Flopsy, the Bacchae bunny.}

Flopsy was enjoying the morning just as much as Dieter, but she had one small problem : she was hungry. Grass and leaves simply weren't enough; she needed something else... something richer... something... named Dieter. She looked up at the craftsman out of eyes that had abruptly turned bright yellow, and drew back her lips, revealing a mouthful of sharp fangs.

Dieter was no coward; living alone in the dark woods, he'd learned to fend for himself, fighting off both wild animals and the nameless creatures that occasionally slunk from the unknown and shadowed places to hunt men for food and sport... and this bunny appeared to be both.

Unfortunately for Dieter, since it was Easter morning, he had neglected to bring a weapon with him. He could only watch as the bunny snarled and crouched, clearly preparing to attack.

He waited for the rabbit to strike, muscles poised in readiness, and then...

Flopsy pounced!

The bacchae bunny leaped into the air, and soared across the clearing. She flew towards the brave craftsman, hungry for the rich lifeblood that pulsed in his veins...

Who had ever heard of a flying rabbit? he marvelled. Despite his amazement, Dieter was ready... even for such a surprising attack. With hands trained to exacting precision by long hours of delicate carving, he interposed the basket of eggs between himself and the rabbit, looping the handle around its neck!

The heavy basket was too much for the startled Flopsy to carry, and she dropped to the ground, landing with a soft thump on the grass.

Dieter gladly took advantage of the momentary reprieve. He ran for the village as fast as he could, legs flashing in the morning light, without his eggs, but with his life. {Dieter shouldn't have put all his eggs in one basket.}

Naturally, Flopsy was angry, and her yellow eyes began to glint with blood-red highlights. Now she was hungry and angry! Uncaring that she was still entangled in the basket, she took to the air once more, the basket dangling below her.

Now as you might recall, Dieter was a great artist. People, and in particular young people, loved his work. Eagerly anticipating his visit, the village children had gathered together in a clearing in the forest verge to await his arrival, ready to meet him in hopes of getting an especially fine egg.

Fortunately for them, Dieter ran straight to the village, unheeding of the path he ordinarily followed. He ran right by the clearing, wholly unaware that the children were lurking in the forest.

Unfortunately for them, Flopsy was in hot pursuit.

Even weighted down by Dieter's basket, the magic of the Bacchae enabled her to fly faster than the craftsman could run. The rabbit angled to intercept the fleeing man, and passed directly over the child-filled clearing!

The children looked at the vision looming over them with wonder, eyes wide as they stared at the flying rabbit, unaware of the danger they were in. Joy bubbled up in their innocent hearts and they laughed aloud in delight, calling out to the cute bunny to come down so they could pet her. {Which, oddly enough, was exactly what Dieter had once said... hence the forthcoming crossbow wedding.}

Hearing their cries, Dieter turned and ran to succor them, praying that he would be in time.

Flopsy squirmed as she flew, trying to unburden herself of the basket. To the wide-eyed children, the movements of her paws as she flexed while trying to escape from the handle made her appear to be running on thin air. It was enthralling, and the children clustered together beneath the magical being.

The bacchae bunny performed a loop, rear legs kicking out...

...and the basket tipped. Dieter's eggs spilled out of their cradle!

{He should have worn briefs.}

The eggs fell to the ground, some coming to rest in the grass among the children, some falling into the bushes, and some falling deeper in the woods. Some of the fragile eggs broke on impact of course, but not very many. Dieter was a master artisan, after all, and had prepared them well for their new owners.

Even with the breakage, the children didn't mind. Calling out "Thanks Easter bunny," {"Brachs brachs!"} they scrambled through the woods, searching for the scattered eggs the magical flying bunny had distributed all around them.

Flopsy ignored them as she continued to struggle with the now empty basket.

Dieter watched in horror as the flying bunny slipped out of the cage of his basket. To his shocked amazement, the freed basket arched through the air and landed in the palm of his outstretched hand with a dull thump. He quickly shook off the distraction and dropped the basket as he realized two things : the creature was free, and it was surrounded by helpless children.

He was about to cry out, willing to give his life in the hope of distracting the bunny away from the joyous children, when a miracle happened.

Flopsy looked down with a glint in her eye, fangs bared in hunger, and was about to dive upon the scattered, helpless children when a faint smell reached her. Her delicate pink nose wrinkled cutely as she struggled to detect where it was coming from.

There!

Banking, she dived through the trees and found... another rabbit! She alighted on the soft grass close by the newly arrived rabbit with a muted thump and batted her eyelashes coquettishly at the handsome male.

{I know, I know... But remember : it's in the general portion of this fanfic that Flopsy finds a special someone - not the alt portion. So there.}

Not only didn't the rabbit run, he actually moved closer, his pink nose wrinkling nearly as cutely as hers as he sniffed the air.

Flopsy was ecstatic. After all these years she'd found a rabbit who wasn't afraid of her, who didn't run away when she approached! Her hunger fading as the joy of meeting a new friend overwhelmed the siren call of blood, Flopsy frolicked in the grass with her newfound friend. After dancing in the sunlit meadow together, they darted away, heading deep into the forest - leaving Dieter and the happy children far, far behind.

{Easter wasn't the only thing coming into season. We'll leave Flopsy and friend alone while they... make each other's acquaintance. While I have been known to explore some extreme possibilities in the pairings to be found in my writings, I think it's best not to describe how these two, er... made like bunnies.}

The craftsman sighed in relief, and watched the children gather his eggs. Everything was all right... he realized with gratitude.

Neither Dieter nor the children ever forgot that wondrous morning, though Flopsy was never seen by them again.

The childrens' tale of the magical bunny swiftly spread throughout the countryside, and even to other lands, as such magical tales often do. Soon children everywhere were looking forward to the next Easter morning, and a visit from the flying Easter bunny - who would hide gifts and eggs for them to find the next morning. {Since greed, afterall, predates even Easter.}

Wisely, the parents of the village children - having also heard Dieter's version of the story - and not wanting their children to venture near the hunting grounds of the bloodthirsty fanged rabbit, made sure to awaken early the next Easter and scatter surprises for the children to find. True, the children were disappointed about not seeing Flopsy again, but the wonderful eggs and treats the rabbit had apparently left for them quickly soothed their upset and made them joyous once more.

This tale - of the treats left in the night - spread as well, and before very many years had passed, the Easter bunny, and the hunts for the decorated eggs and treats he left for children on Easter morning were firmly rooted in tradition all over Europe.

But the story doesn't end there...

Dieter the craftsman never forgot the rabbit that saved him and the children, and every Easter following that strange morning, the master artisan would carve a replica of the bunny that had distracted Flopsy from the finest wood in the forest to show his gratitude for the rescuing of the village children - and his children and his grandchildren in turn continued the tradition.

That tradition continued unbroken until the legacy was passed to his great-great-granddaughter, Brunhilde. She was a wonderful person, but was completely unskilled in the art of woodworking.

At first she sorrowed, fearing the tradition would be broken with her, but inspiration struck and she soon rejoiced. As unskilled as she was with chisel and gouge, skilled was she with rolling pin and flour - for she was a master baker.

{See? I told you this was an alt story.}

Unleashing her skill in the kitchen, she created her own replica of that long-honored rabbit... only from pastry and sweets instead of wood. All the children agreed {with full mouths} that her creation was wonderful, and her children and her children's children continued to create their culinary centerpieces. Thus was also born the tradition of candy (and later chocolate) rabbits.

Easter has long been celebrated as a joyous time, but now you know some of the truths that had been buried in myths.

The modern traditions of Easter - egg hunts, chocolate rabbits, and even the lore of the Easter bunny - is all thanks to...

Flopsy, the Easter Bacchae Bunny.

But what of Flopsy and her new friend you ask?

Well, since Flopsy is an immortal, she outlived her new friend, and later resumed her wandering.

But rumors persist : about a certain tract of land hidden deep in the heart of the forest, in an area where not even the stoutest and most fearless of hunters will go, of a breed of rabbit larger and stronger than can be found anywhere else in the world.

And sometimes, when the bacchae moon is shining in the night sky...

...and the forest is still and dark...

The blood sings in the rabbits' veins...

...and the hunted becomes the hunter.

But that's a story for another time.

THE END

Happy (Very Belated) Easter!

and...

Happy Halloween!


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