XENA - ANOTHER SEASON 5 - Episode 4

TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL

by Andreas Hloupy (andreas.hloupy@siemens.at)

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Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.

NOTE: All works remain the copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent

 

EXT. Tartarus, Chasm - Day

It’s the edge of a seemingly bottomless chasm, stretching from side to side as long as it can be seen - and it’s at least 100 yards to the other side.

On the other side the green hills of the Elysian Fields reach from one horizon to the other, white-capped mountains hinder the sight but a few valleys open towards the chasm and show healthy forests and thriving fields.

While the sky over Tartarus is gray, almost dark, the air above the opposite side is clear and blue. It’s strangely silent.

GABRIELLE sits at the edge of the cliff, deep in thought and contemplation, staring across the chasm towards the Elysian Fields. She is dressed in a ragged two-part outfit, locking dirty and tired herself.

TELCHIN, a small, haunted looking man wearing an old, dark robe, steps out of the woods behind her and moves towards her. He stops next to her and squats to the ground, staring down into the chasm.

Gabrielle doesn’t react to him.

Telchin

Gabrielle?

Gabrielle

What?

Telchin

We should go.

Gabrielle

In a moment …

Telchin

You say that every day, every day.

Gabrielle shrugs her shoulders, continuously staring to the opposite site of the chasm.

Gabrielle

What does it matter? We have all the time in the world.

Gabrielle turns towards Telchin.

Gabrielle

For how long do I sit here?

Telchin

Time’s a funny thing down here, really funny. But it got dark and light again many times … at least five or six handful.

Gabrielle

I’m not even hungry or thirsty … strange, isn’t it?

Telchin

No. No, most of us don’t need drink or food … some do it anyway. They think it makes them more … alive. Some just do it out of habit, silly habit. But as long as it is not part of your punishment …

Gabrielle turns away from Telchin and looks down into the chasm.

Gabrielle

Part of my punishment? Everything is part of it. Not a single moment goes by where I’m not reminded of Xena … and how I miss her.

Telchin

And nothing helps?

Gabrielle

No.

Both stay silent for a moment.

Telchin

You heard from the living?

Gabrielle

I don’t listen anymore. Every time someone thought about me, they also thought about Xena. No one seems to care about me … I’m just the silly sidekick.

Telchin

Don’t say that, don’t …

Gabrielle starts to cry uncontrollable.

Gabrielle

(sobbing)

I miss her so much. Nothing helps … I can’t forget her … I can’t hate her … and I can’t blame her. You said it would get better!

Telchin

No, it won’t, never will.

Telchin stands up and turns towards the forest, away from Gabrielle.

Telchin

I’ll take another look around … some weird, dangerous souls roam this forest and sooner or later they will start to haunt us. We’ll have to leave … someday.

Gabrielle just nods and continues to silently stare into the distance while Telchin disappears between the trees.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, Forest - Day

TELCHIN slowly walks between the loose collection of dead trees, carefully listening to the sounds coming from the distance, looking around in a mixture of fear and curiosity.

Linos (OFF)

You should be careful.

Telchin whirls around and stares at the place where this sudden sound came from. A ghostlike figure is standing there. LINOS resembles a young, fairly handsome man, dressed in a simple toga that was colourful – once. The trees behind Linos shimmer through his form.

Telchin

Who are you? I never saw you before … never saw you.

Linos

Oh, I’m just another tortured soul … just like you, I guess.

Telchin

You look so …

Linos

Strange? Weird? Creepy?

Telchin

Transparent!

Linos

Good choice of words. But I’m not the one with the problems, you see.

Suddenly three women jump forward, encircling Telchin.

ENYO, young, short black hair, scarred face, is dressed in simple leather armor and carries a crude sword – she looks threatening, determined. DEINO, wearing an old red robe and carrying a staff, hides her face behind the hood. PEMPHREDO, young, but with long, grey hair and an angry look, wears a scanty outfit made from fur, carrying a wooden club.

Strangely enough, all three of them seem to be blind, with empty eye sockets in their face – Enyo wears a leather stripe across it. All three seem to relay mostly on hearing, reacting to every sound.

Telchin stares around and finds himself entrapped. His look changes from surprise to worry.

Telchin

Who are you?

Deino

(smiling)

We will get acquainted soon enough.

Enyo

For now it’s best for you to just follow us.

Pemphredo

You wouldn’t make us ask twice, wouldn’t you?

Telchin looks at Linos.

Linos

Don’t look at me … I’m not with them.

Deino turns her empty face towards the ghostly figure.

Deino

Whoever you are, just keep out of it.

Telchin jumps forward and tries to brake through, but Enyo reacts immediately and somersaults forward, right into his path.

She lands in front of him - he freezes and stares at her frightfully.

Enyo

You shouldn’t be afraid … in fact we have an offer for you that you won’t refuse.

Pemphredo

We’ll get you out of here … out of Tartarus!

 

CUT TO:

TITEL SEQUENCE

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, Forest – Night

The forest lies empty, dead, a strange fog floating between the trees, supplying an eerie light to the scene.

Gabrielle (OFF)

(shouting)

Tel! Tel!

GABRIELLE appears out of the mist, walking towards a small clearing and stopping in the middle of it. She looks around, worried.

Gabrielle

Tel! Tel, where are you?

(silently to herself)

He should be back by now.

Linos (OFF)

You’re looking for someone?

Gabrielle’s expression shows surprise, but she doesn’t move. The voice seems to come from behind her, well inside the fog.

Gabrielle

I’ve lost a friend.

Linos (OFF)

We all have.

Gabrielle

I mean … I mean someone down here, a tortured soul.

Linos (OFF)

Like we are?

Gabrielle

Yes?

Linos (OFF)

A little fellow, always nervous … a little over the edge, maybe?

Gabrielle

Yes!

Linos (OFF)

Let’s say, he hadn’t much luck with the ladies.

Gabrielle slowly turns around and watches, as LINOS seems to float out of the fog, his transparent body more simulating a walk than actually marching.

Gabrielle is surprised, curious.

Gabrielle

Who … what are you?

Linos

A tortured soul, like you said.

Gabrielle

What’s with you … body?

Linos

You see, it’s simple … there is none. I’m condemned to roam these lands as a shadow of my former self … without physical body to feel, touch, taste. I have my voice, though, my vision … and that’s all I can … watch.

Gabrielle

Who did that to you?

Linos

You’re not long amongst the dead, right?

Gabrielle

No?

Linos

You still care. You’ll stop that after a while.

Gabrielle

Telchin did care!

Linos

He’s a crazy little fool … and he made the wrong enemies.

gabrielle

What have you seen?

Linos floats to Gabrielle and stops in front of her.

Linos

Well, if you have to know - a group of women took him away … they looked like serious trouble. They were even armed, something you can’t come by easily down here.

Gabrielle

Where did they take him?

Linos

Towards the southern border … at least that’s what we call it. The chasm that’s close by … maybe you know it … runs along a good part of the outer rim of Tartarus. It separates it from the Elysian Fields … and in part from the mortal world.

Gabrielle

What do they want from him?

Linos

How should I know? Go ask them.

Gabrielle looks around, thinking.

Gabrielle

Maybe I will.

Linos

Don’t be foolish … there are worse fates then death down here … and they looked like they might be able to introduce you to some of them.

Gabrielle looks straight into the face of Linos.

Gabrielle

Telchin is my friend … I don’t give up on friends.

Linos

What does a pure, selfless soul like you do in a place like this?

Gabrielle

Try to keep its way.

Gabrielle turns away and starts to jog into the night. She disappears into the fog and Linos is left behind, very thoughtful.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, Forest – Night

Neither the forest nor the night has changed, but it seems more silent in this part of the wood.

The noise of someone coming slowly closer appears, every step giving a clear, distinctive but unnatural sound. It’s GABRIELLE, staring to the ground and carefully making one step at a time.

Linos (OFF)

It doesn’t help. I can hear you from a mile away.

Gabrielle stops and looks around, frustrated and angry.

Gabrielle

I didn’t ask you to follow.

Linos (OFF)

Oh, I thought it might be fun. When you can’t touch anything, can’t create anything … watching is the only thing left.

Gabrielle

I’m not here for your entertainment.

It’s silent for a moment, than LINOS appears between the trees right in front of Gabrielle.

Linos

And what if I help you?

Gabrielle

What about not caring anymore?

Linos

I didn’t say I care … I’m just bored – and curious.

Gabrielle thinks for a moment and than nods.

Gabrielle

Okay. Do you know where they are?

Linos

I’m way ahead of you. They have a camp only a mile towards the border. A little hill in their back should allow even you to get there unseen.

Gabrielle ignores the insult.

Gabrielle

Than let’s go.

Gabrielle walks past Linos and quickly picks up pace, disappearing in the fog.

Linos

(thoughtful)

A very … energetic soul …

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, Hill – Night

GABRIELLE slowly crawls towards the top of the hill, a dirty pile of stones covered with dead vegetation – the fog still doesn’t allow seeing beyond a few dozen yards.

LINOS floats a few steps behind her, watching her.

When Gabrielle reaches the top, she carefully peaks over the edge to see what’s beyond.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, Camp – Night

A sharp cliff rises up at least twenty feet above the ground. A small encampment lies right on its edge. Seven people can be seen.

TELCHIN stands in the middle of the camp, right next to a dead campfire. ENYO and PEMPHREDO flank him, each with one hand on his shoulder and their weapons in the other.

A big, strong man leans at a tree a few yards behind them, watching them suspiciously. LYCURGUS wears simple leather clothes and a crude metal helmet – he plays with a small axe in his hands. He is bold and his whole face seems deranged somehow – his nose smashed many times, his lips split, one ear missing.

SINIS, the man lying next to him, sleeping peacefully, has one obvious shortcoming – he has no arms. He wears dirty leather trousers but no shirt, showing a naked chest and only two short stumps instead of limbs.

BROTEAS, a young man wearing only a small loincloth, nervously paces forth and back right next to them.

At last there is AITHON, a man in dark leather armor, standing right in front of Telchin. He has a dagger in his belt.

Telchin

You can trust me. I will help you … voluntarily.

Aithon

You see I really would like that. But you’re mad … insane. I can’t trust your word. You will come with us and our gray-haired amazons will guard you until your job is done.

Enyo

Stop calling us that.

Lycurgus

You can color your hair as much as you want but you can’t hide from your past.

Pemphredo

Shut up, handsome.

Broteas

Why can’t we tie him up outside the camp so we can have a fire again?

Lycurgus

When the fire was burning you complained about the heat … make up your mind.

Aithon

Stop it! We are in on this together … no quarrels.

(towards Broteas)

We keep him here because, frankly, I think you will whine either way.

Broteas

You shouldn’t make fun at the curse of my sensitivity … that’s why you need me.

Aithon

No, that’s why I haven’t tied you to that tree over there with your own intestines.

(towards Lycurgus)

And you shouldn’t turn your back on our slaughtering sisters … they don’t like to be reminded of their predatory past.

Lycurgus

I can separate each one of them from their precious hair before they even touch me.

Aithon

Yeah, but afterwards they might separate you from some precious parts themselves.

(towards Enyo)

I want you to look after our guest.

Pemphredo

That’s not what we’re here for.

Aithon

We all know what you’re here for.

Aithon walks past Telchin and his two guards. After a few yards he stops and thoughtfully looks into the woods around the camp.

Aithon

This is Tartarus … the last place anyone would choose for his retirement. And still, we’re locked in for eternity. Oh, of course, we’re guilty. Killing is amongst the lesser crimes any of us committed. But Hades made an error … he underestimated … me.

Aithon turns around and looks straight at the frightened Telchin.

Aithon

Death won’t hold me forever. We will leave this place. I have worked on this plan for decades, maybe centuries … who keeps track of time down here. Finally all peaces are in place now.

Aithon steps towards Telchin. He stops only a few feet in front of him.

Aithon

Tomorrow night we will cross the borders of Tartarus back into the mortal realm.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, Hill – Night

GABRIELLE still lies on the hilltop, looking down at the encampment below her, listening. LINOS keeps a few yards distance between him and the edge. She talks to him without turning away from her observations.

Gabrielle

(quietly)

They want to escape Tartarus … and Telchin seems to be part of the plan. We have to stop them.

Linos

I can’t blame them for trying to escape. Isn’t that what every prisoner does?

Gabrielle

They are psychopaths, killers and they openly admit it. We can’t let them go back to continue their crimes.

Linos

Frankly, I don’t give a damn. That’s the business of Hades … he is supposed to keep order down here.

Gabrielle

Isn’t there anyone back in the mortal world that you care about?

Linos

(thoughtful)

Maybe … but they are probably gone by now. Still … I see your point. What do you suggest?

Gabrielle

Telchin is part of their plan. I don’t know what they are trying to do but if we get Telchin out of there we might stop it.

Linos

Sounds reasonable. I won’t be of any help, though.

Gabrielle

You can see and you can talk … makes you a perfect lookout.

Linos

Why … why are you down here?

Gabrielle

I thought you don’t care?

Linos

Well, maybe I changed my mind.

Gabrielle

I betrayed a friend.

Linos

So you’re going for redemption here?

Gabrielle

Maybe. What brought you into this mess?

Linos

Pride. I was an artist back in Athens … a fairly good one, actually. After I finished a statue for the temple of Apollo I bragged about it … said that a god couldn’t do better.

Gabrielle

And for that …

Linos

And for that they took away everything. I never again will be able to … create. I fantasize about clay in my hands, paint on my fingers … only dreams.

Gabrielle, still looking down, shakes her head.

Gabrielle

Gods cannot be that cruel.

Deino (OFF)

Oh, but they can, my dear, they can.

Gabrielle rolls around and jumps up, only to find herself face to face with DEINO in her red robe, pointing the staff at the surprised bard. The hood still covers her face.

Linos slowly turns towards the warrior women that had appeared so suddenly next to him.

Linos

I’m sure we …

Deino

I know you … ghost. I can’t touch you, you can’t touch me … just leave.

(towards Gabrielle)

But you … have a little appointment with my friends.

 

CUT TO:

COMMERCIAL BREAK

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, Camp - NIGHT

Little time has passed in the small camp - TELCHIN sits outside the camp with the back to the rocky cliff, staring nervously into the dark. ENYO sits close by, polishing her sword vigorously and rarely looking up to her prisoner. PEMPHREDO sleeps on the ground, close to the still burned out campfire.

LYCURGUS still leans at a tree, working on a peace of wood with his axe. SINIS is sleeping as before while BROTEAS has finally stopped his wandering and stares quietly into the night - shivering.

AITHON sits with the back to a tree and has his eyes closed - but he seems awake, contemplating the earlier scene.

When DEINO pushes GABRIELLE onto the clearing everybody - with the exception of SINIS and PEMPHREDO who continue their sleep - raise their heads and look surprised at the newcomer. Enyo, blind and still wearing the leather stripe, doesn't look but listens intensely.

Aithon

What's with her?

Deino

I found her … sneaking around.

Gabrielle

I …

Aithon

Nobody talked to you!

Gabrielle presses her lips together. She looks like her thoughts are racing - determined, even angry.

Aithon slowly stands up and walks towards the bard. He stops only a few feet to the side of her, mustering her from top to bottom.

Aithon

What do you want?

Gabrielle

I … I want to help.

Lycurgus and Enyo seem very amused, Aithon seems a little more thoughtful while Broteas watches without interest.

Aithon

And what makes you think, we need your help?

Enyo

I can take her to the chasm … let's see how deep bottomless really is!

Gabrielle ignores the last statement - she answers Aithon with steady voice and determination.

Gabrielle

I'm useful to you. I traveled with Xena, the warrior princess … I've learned many skills.

Aithon

You traveled with Xena, yes? How did you end up here? Seems to me that it wasn't worth the effort.

Gabrielle

That doesn't matter anymore … what matters is that I want to escape Tartarus as much as you do.

Lycurgus makes a step forward, throwing away the peace of wood he has worked on.

Lycurgus

Everybody want's to leave … but it's not that easy. Aithon has a foolproof plan and everybody assembled here has a certain task. I haven't seen you on the list.

Lycurgus turns and raises his axe over his head and back. With a powerful, swift motion he throws the axe towards a few trees at the edge of the camp, maybe 20 yards away. The axe hits a tree right in the middle, approximately chest high, and stays stuck.

He turns back and give Gabrielle a triumphant look.

Gabrielle is quiet for a moment while everybody in the camp waits for her replay. Instead of saying something she turns quickly, grabs the staff from Deino, turns again and throws it like a spear towards the tree with the axe.

Deino is only surprised for a moment, than she jumps forward and grabs Gabrielle.

The others look fascinated as the staff hits the handle of the axe, pushing it towards the tree like a lever and by that loosening the axe. Both staff and axe drop to the ground.

Lycurgus, who has also watched, turns his ugly face back to Gabrielle.

Lycurgus

Lucky shot.

Than he slowly walks towards the trees to retrieve his axe.

Aithon

Lycurgus!

Lycurgus stops and waits while Aithon approaches him.

Aithon

Lycurgus, you can't talk to a guest like that.

Lycurgus

Since when is she a guest?

Aithon

I want you to know that I don't mean this personally.

Aithon has reached Lycurgus and suddenly pulls out his dagger and slashes the surprised axe thrower across his throat.

Aithon

She seems as able as you are … and she's easier on the eyes.

Lycurgus grabs his own throat with both hands, trying to stop the blood that gushes out. He manages a totally surprised look at Aithon.

Aithon

Come on, you know you can't die … sooner or later Hades returns you to your punishment.

Lycurgus tries to grab Aithon with one of his bloody hands, but he avoids it with easy. Aithon gestures Enyo to come to him.

Aithon

But I have to make sure that you're not standing in our way. Enyo, you wanted to test the depth of this chasm … I think I found you a test object.

While he just turns away and walks towards Gabrielle, Enyo jumps up and is next to Lycurgus with a few quick steps. She grabs the front of his vest and pulls him away, leaving the camp.

Aithon stops right in front of Gabrielle this time, nodding towards Deino. The warrior woman releases the bard from her grip and walks past Gabrielle towards the tree were her staff is lying.

Aithon

Impressive.

Gabrielle looks him straight into the eyes, her face showing defiance and determination.

Aithon

We just got room … interested?

Gabrielle

I …

Aithon

Forget it, he's out … and you're in. You will help us with our little plan and for that you will leave this … unpleasant island of death.

Gabrielle

Maybe I won't.

Aithon

Maybe you would regret such a decision. Of course I can't kill you. But if you think that you know torture ... think again. I studied pain ... made it into an art.

Aithon leans forward until his face is right in front of Gabrielle's.

Aithon

You will do as I say … tomorrow.

Deino in the mean time has come back with the axe and the staff in her hands. Aithon turns towards her.

Aithon

You'll watch over our two … special guests.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, Camp - Day

The eerie light of the night has been replaced by gray daylight. TELCHIN and GABRIELLE sit side by side a the edge of the camp, back to the hill.

The three sisters, ENYO, DEINO and PEMPHREDO lie only a few feet away, but all three seem to be sleeping.

SINIS, the man without arms, sits with the back to a tree on the other side of the camp. BROTEAS, the oversensitive guy, stands next to him and they talk to each other - quietly, so nothing can be heard.

AITHON lies right next to the pile of wood - the former fireplace - in the middle of the campsite, finally sleeping.

Gabrielle looks around and when she sees that nobody watches them she starts whispering towards Telchin.

GABRIELLE

(whispering)

We have to get out of here.

Telchin looks surprised and a little horrified at Gabrielle.

Telchin

(whispering)

They kill us … they do worse. Have you seen what happened to the ugly man, ugly.

Gabrielle

(whispering)

That whole think is madness … they will never escape Tartarus. And even if they have a chance … we cannot let them get away with it. It's like setting a city on fire … you understand that, don't you?

Telchin lets his look wander, thoughtfully.

Telchin

(whispering)

But what about the evil women, the evil amazons.

Gabrielle

(whispering)

They're no amazons. They're simple thugs, in for the price.

TELCHIN

(whispering)

Sometimes this is a strange place, very strange. When you want company you won't find any, but when you enjoy your seclusion suddenly all kind of people show up.

Gabrielle

(whispering)

Are you with me?

Telchin is silent for a moment, than he nods.

Gabrielle looks around, checking the others. The three blind sisters and Aithon still seem to sleep while Sinis and Broteas are occupied with each other, Sinis explaining something to the other man.

Gabrielle pokes Telchin in the side and motions with her hand towards the edge of the forest. She than very carefully stands up, watching the sisters for reactions. Telchin follows her example. Than, like on a silent signal, both start a wild run for the trees.

Before anybody in the camp reacts they reach the first dead trees and disappear between them.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, Forest - Day

TELCHIN and GABRIELLE run through the woods, jumping over obstacles or ducking low tree branches. They hurry, without looking back.

After passing a tense group of dead trees suddenly LINOS joins them, running next to them.

Linos

They are right behind you. Amazing, how these blind monsters maneuver only by their hearing.

Telchin

You! You didn't help me, didn't help.

Linos

Believe me, I would if I could.

Gabrielle

You know a shortcut? A hiding place maybe?

Linos

Actually, I do. Follow me.

Linos takes the lead - his transparent form allows him to float through any obstacles, which gives the other two following him a harder time.

Suddenly Telchin catches his foot in a root, stumbles and falls flat on his face. Gabrielle stops immediately and turns back to help while he grabs his left leg, wincing in pain.

Telchin

Go! You go! Follow the ghost.

Gabrielle

Come on!

Gabrielle checks his leg.

Gabrielle

It's broken. I thought souls are a little more robust.

Telchin

You have to go now, go now.

Gabrielle tries to drag Telchin up, but he isn't able to help or to overcome the pain.

Telchin

I'm not worth it, hear me, I'm not.

Gabrielle

You're my only friend.

Enyo (Off)

Touchy!

Gabrielle looks up, still holding Telchin. Enyo has appeared between some trees only a few yards away - she has her sword drawn and ready.

Before Gabrielle can react PEMPHREDO jogs into sight, carrying her club, and stops also only a few yards away - on the opposite site.

Pemphredo

Where do you two think you're going?

There is a sound from behind Gabrielle and she turns her head once more - DEINO leans casually on her staff, weighting her new axe in the other hand.

Deino

That wasn't a very clever move.

Aithon (Off)

No, indeed.

Now on the forth side Aithon comes forth behind some trees. His dagger is still in the belt and he has his arms crossed in front of his chest.

Aithon

Now why would you do that? Trying to escape … me?

Gabrielle

You're a mad killer, and I will never allow you back into the mortal world.

Aithon seems amused about the angry outburst of the bard.

Aithon

(laughing)

You're quite the hero … I see, you have learned Xena's lesson well.

(serious)

So you just wanted to get your useful friend? Don't worry, you can stay together … actually you can STAY … together. But of course you will first do me a favor … each of you. And if you're not cooperating … well, than the other one will get my full attention.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, Camp - Day

TELCHIN and GABRIELLE are back at their old place … this time PEMPHREDO is standing right next to them, watching them suspiciously. ENYO and DEINO are sitting close by, resting with their eyes closed.

AITHON stands at the other end of the camp, talking to SINIS while BROTEAS listens.

Telchin has his eyes closed - he is crying. His leg has a temporary cast made from a few wooden splinters.

Telchin

You shouldn't have waited for me … I'm not worth it, I'm not.

Gabrielle

Stop saying that. You're my only friend here … and friends help each other out.

Telchin

I don't deserve your friendship.

Gabrielle

Because of a few old barns you burned down? Come on, my best friend was once called the destroyer of nations … a well deserved title by the way. She turned her life around … so can you.

Telchin

You don't understand, you don't. I can't tell you, I can't!

Gabrielle

What is it that you can't tell me? Friends can tell each other everything!

Telchin

You will hate me. I've done terrible things ... terrible, terrible things.

Gabrielle

What are you talking about?

Telchin and Gabrielle stare into each others face for a few silent moments, than Telchin turns his head away, tears running down his cheek.

Gabrielle continues to look worried and a little surprised.

Telchin

It was such a beautiful night … the sun, the stars. I just couldn't sleep. I was camping outside a little village … I was a travelling artisan at the time. I walked around a bit and came upon that big barn, right on the edge of the village. I looked inside and it was full of straw for the winter. I … I couldn't resist. It seemed save, save enough.

Telchin stops for a moment. Gabrielle has laid her hand on Telchin's shoulder, listening with full attention to his words.

Telchin

I … I made a fire … a small one … right in the middle of the barn. Than I left. I watched from a little hill nearby. Everything was silent … so silent. Nothing happened … I thought, the fire has gone out.

Telchin shakes his head, closing his eyes. Gabrielle has slowly pulled back her hand now, her look still worried, but also confused.

Telchin

It exploded. One moment there was nothing … in the next there was a huge fireball all over the barn. That has never happened before … it all went so fast, to fast.

(swallowing)

The fire spread across the village. It jumped from house to house, from roof to roof. The whole village … the whole village on flames. It was so … beautiful.

(crying)

I couldn't move. I knew I had something to do or at least to run away … but I couldn't. I watched while the people awoke in their burning beds … while they cried for help … or for a quicker death. I watched as the fire slowly burned down. Than it was silent … so silent again.

Telchin is shaking, tears run from his face. Gabrielle isn't able to move either - she just stares at him with wide open eyes. Even Pemphredo seems to listen, quietly and interested.

Telchin

That's how they found me … standing on the hill and watching … long after it was over. They threw a rope over a tree right on that same hill … and they pulled me up. I suffocated … slowly. But all I could think was … how beautiful.

Telchin finally turns back to Gabrielle and looks into her eyes. Both faces show sorrow, mourning - both show tears.

GABRIELLE

I forgive you.

Gabrielle leans forward and hugs Telchin.

Gabrielle

May the gods forgive you, too.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, Camp - Night

The camp lies quiet in the dark - the eerie light that normally allows a fairly good few during the night in Tartarus is missing completely.

GABRIELLE and TELCHIN are sleeping, guarded by ENYO, sitting next to them. PEMPHREDO and DEINO seem to sleep a few yards away.

SINIS and BROTEAS are already awake and prepare themselves for leaving the camp. AITHON is walking towards the sleeping GABRIELLE, feeling his way more than actually seeing it. He carries the staff of DEINO.

He knees down next to her, grabs Gabrielle's shoulder and pulls her up. Gabrielle opens her eyes. She looks around, haunted.

Aithon

It's time for us to go.

Gabrielle slowly stands up and shakes the sleep out of her body. She rubs her shoulders as if she is freezing.

Gabrielle

And what exactly is the plan?

Aithon

The two of us will go first, taking a look at the bridge.

Gabrielle

The bridge?

Aithon

You will understand. And than my … plan goes into action.

Gabrielle

Do you really think your mad little plan will work?

Aithon

(angry)

Don't tell me I'm mad! Why is everybody saying that? I hate that!

Gabrielle shakes her head as Aithon turns away and slowly walks out of the camp, checking his path carefully. She looks up to the dark sky, than she follows him.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, CHASM - Night

On the Tartarus side of the chasm the dead trees of the forest almost reach the edge, some even leaning over the pit. A path, only a few feet wide leads away into the wood.

On the opposite site of the chasm, which is only about twenty yards wide at this point, a huge cliff raises into the sky. On the edge there is a small area of level ground, housing two buildings. One is a drawbridge, situated right at the chasm and seemingly big enough to cross it - but it's drawn up now. The second building stands right at the cliff - a huge gate, blocking a way into the mountain.

The area is lit by a collection of torches and braziers. A group of a dozen armed guards, in black armor and armed with swords, guard the gate and the bridge. They look confident, almost bored.

Right next to the gate a two-headed, oversized dog is lying on the ground. He isn't as big as the hellhound Cerberus, but looks dangerous nevertheless. Little flames spark from his nostrils while he breathes.

On the Tartarus side of the chasm AITHON and GABRIELLE carefully approach the edge. When they knee down behind one of the last knees, GABRIELLE has time to observe the situation on the other side of the chasm.

Aithon

(whispering)

What do you think now?

Gabrielle

(whispering)

That we all will end up at the bottom of this chasm.

 

CUT TO:

COMMERCIAL BREAK

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, Chasm - Night

AITHON and GABRIELLE are still kneeing behind a dead tree on the Tartarus side of the chasm, observing the guarded area on the other side.

Aithon

(whispering)

You don't trust me?

Gabrielle

(whispering)

No. And I don't trust your plan either.

Aithon

(whispering)

I had eternity to think about a solution for this problem. And I finally found a way.

Gabrielle

(whispering)

What's behind the gate?

Aithon

(whispering)

Freedom. You see, this gate leads into a cave that exits near Sparta … at Cap Tainaron. And we live once again.

Gabrielle

(whispering)

And how do we get past the bottomless pit, the guards, the monster and the massive, surely locked gate?

Aithon

(whispering)

Impressive collection. But in the end Hades forgot that for every measure there's a countermeasure. Take the drawbridge for example.

Aithon stands up and motions Gabrielle to do too. When she raises he hands her the staff of Deino he was carrying all the time.

Gabrielle takes it and her eyes wander between the staff and Aithon.

Aithon

Oh sure, you can attack me now … maybe send me down into this deep grave … but your friend will be next, don't forget that.

Gabrielle throws an angry look at Aithon, but she stays calm and controlled.

Aithon turns and slowly walks towards the path that leads into the forest - it's exactly opposite the drawbridge. Gabrielle follows her.

When they reach the open path, the guards on the other side spot them and ready their weapons. But they still don't seem to concerned.

Gabrielle

And now?

Aithon

You see that lever on top of the drawbridge mechanism?

Gabrielle's look follows Aithon's pointing arm and finds the wooden lever, sticking out of the maze of ropes and wheels that make up the lowering mechanism for the bridge - a good twenty yards away and twenty yards up.

Gabrielle

I see it, but …

Aithon

Hit it.

Gabrielle turns her head in surprise.

Gabrielle

What?

Aithon

Just hit it. It's a weakness … if you hit it, the drawbridge will lower itself. A very talented artisan needed years to analyze the lowering mechanism.

Gabrielle

And where is he now?

Aithon

We had to leave him behind. He lost his head.

Gabrielle stares at Aithon for a long, silent moment, contemplating the situation. Finally she reaches a decision.

She turns and lifts the staff into a spear-like throwing position. She weights the weapon in her hand and than reaches back.

The guards point at her, laughing, obviously expecting a futile attack on them.

Gabrielle throws the staff with all her strength. The weapon flies through the air, raising up in a steep angle. It reaches a high point well above the drawbridge and turns downward again.

Gabrielle has closed her eyes, not watching the path of the staff. Aithon, on the other hand, follows the flight with all his attention.

Finally the staff hits the lever - and the lever is pushed down. The whole drawbridge comes to life, the mechanism starts to move. Wheels turning, ropes sliding up and down - the drawbridge slowly begins to decent towards its horizontal position. The staff drops to the ground right next it.

The guards on the other side come to life now, running towards the bridge. While some are trying to stop her from lowering the others take position in front of her to block anyone from crossing.

Aithon on the other side is enthusiastic.

Aithon

Yes! You did it.

He turns to Gabrielle, which has finally opened her eyes and watches the drawbridge coming down.

Aithon

We might become friends after all.

Gabrielle

You still will need more than three blind fake amazons to battle the guards.

Aithon

Don't get your hope up … everything is taken care of. More helpers would have only brought up Hades attention.

Aithon turns around, towards the forest.

Aithon

(shouting)

Everything ready?

Deino (OFF)

Of course.

Aithon

Than bring in the artillery.

DEINO and ENYO appear between the trees, dragging TELCHIN, still with a cast on his leg, with them. PEMPHREDO follows right behind them.

The moment Telchin has a clear line of sight towards the area across the chasm all the torches and braziers die down - the whole place suddenly is thrown into total darkness. Even the little flames from the two-headed monster disappear.

Deino and Enyo drag Telchin to Aithon and hand him over. Aithon grabs the frightened soul and pushes him towards the edge of the chasm. There he keeps one hand on his shoulder and the other at his dagger.

Aithon

(towards Gabrielle)

You see, in the darkness everyone is fighting blindly. But our three gray sisters here are used to that … I don't think these poor guards are up to the challenge.

Gabrielle

(angry)

You …

Aithon

Careful, my dear. One wrong word, one wrong move … and your friend goes down.

The three sisters are now on the lowered bridge, hurrying across. Their steps echo over the chasm.

The guards on the other side shout commands, trying to prepare for the attack.

Moments later the shouts change into high-pitched calls for help. The three sisters seem to rip through the guards quickly and brutally.

SINIS and BROTEAS have in the mean time joined Aithon and his two hostages.

SINIS

Are they done yet?

Aithon

Shouldn't take them much longer.

Sinis

Works out smoothly so far.

Aithon

Of course.

Broteas

Why do we keep the little rat? I'm freezing and we could start a fire after the guards are gone.

Aithon

We don't have time for your convenience … and I haven't decided their fate yet. Maybe I give them a chance to come with us after all. I'm in a good mood right now.

ENYO (OFF)

We're finished!

Aithon

I hope they mean that in a positive way.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, GATE - Night

The area in front of the gate lies in total darkness. The dead bodies of the guards are spread between the gate and the bridge - the two-headed monster lies right next to the gate, one head split in half by an axe.

ENYO, now armed with a better sword - taken from one of the guards - is tying GABRIELLE and TELCHIN down which are sitting with their back towards the drawbridge.

PEMPHREDO and DEINO, also armed with swords, lead SINIS and BROTEAS - which don't see to well in the dark - towards the gate.

AITHON stands next to the tied Gabrielle.

Aithon

Can you feel it? The mortal world is close now. I smell the fresh air already.

Gabrielle

What about the gate? You have the key?

Aithon

Oh, yes. You see, Sinis, our armless companion, is one of the best locksmiths available.

Gabrielle

Why did the gods take away his arms … did he steal from them?

Aithon

Something to that effect. But that doesn't matter … Broteas will be his arms and senses. The poor soul is punished with tremendous sensitivity … something we will put to good use.

Gabrielle

And than?

Aithon

Than its over … the gate is the last obstacle.

DEINO (OFF)

Aithon, we're ready!

Aithon turns away and marches towards the gate, stumbling over on of the dead bodies.

Aithon

(angry)

The next time we'll hack you into smaller pieces.

(shouting)

Do it! Open the gate!

Enyo has finished tying Gabrielle and Telchin up and steps back.

Enyo

That will keep you in line until we have opened the gate. I hope Aithon doesn't give you a chance … I don't like you.

She turns and follows Aithon. Gabrielle and Telchin are left alone.

Telchin

That's all my fault.

Gabrielle

Stop it. That doesn't help right now. We have to find a way out of here.

Linos (OFF)

Maybe I can help?

Gabrielle raises and turns her head. LINOS floats right behind them, on the edge of the bridge.

Linos

I've watched everything. They really seem able to make it.

Gabrielle

We have to stop them.

Linos

It's a way out of here.

Gabrielle

The price is to high.

Telchin

I'll do everything … everything you say.

Linos

Well, who am I to oppose such a determined soul. But I have to point out that we are outnumbered, unarmed and tied up. And we don't have an eternity to come up with a plan.

Everyone is quiet for a moment.

At the gate Sinis is guiding Broteas who works on the lock of the gate with some crude, metal lockpicks. Aithon and the three sisters stand close by, waiting.

Gabrielle

It's to late to foil their plan … they are almost through.

Telchin

Then we have to fight them.

Linos

Outnumbered, unarmed, tied up … I just wanted to remind you.

Gabrielle

First things first. I think I can loosen my ropes enough to slip out. She didn't take the task of tying us up very seriously.

Telchin

She didn't takes us very seriously.

Gabrielle struggles to get her arms free and finally she succeeds. With a few quick movements she removes the rest of the ties and than helps Telchin to get out of his.

Nobody at the gates seems to notice or shows any interest in them at all.

Gabrielle feels around on the ground and finally finds the staff that has dropped next to the bridge.

Gabrielle

Tel, can you fight?

Telchin

Not really.

Gabrielle

Than I want you to go back into the forest. Maybe I can light one of the torches … that would equal the odds against the blind sisters a little bit.

Linos

You can't be serious … they will kill you no matter of the light situation. And don’t forget Aithon … or even the sensitive guy. Only the one without arms seems harmless enough.

Gabrielle

When you have an idea, I'm willing to listen. Until so … we will just stand and fight.

Telchin

I don't wont to go … leave you alone.

Gabrielle

Do it … please. That's the best way to help.

Telchin nods quietly, turns and walks across the bridge as fast as his broken leg allows.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, GATE - Night

SINIS and BROTEAS still work on the gate with the others watching.

GABRIELLE, still ignored, has found a torch and has buried it's handle into ground so that it stands straight up. While the staff lies next to her she holds one of the swords and a flintstone in her hands, obviously taken from a dead guard.

LINOS floats next to her, watching her uneasily.

Linos

You still have no plan?

Gabrielle

No. I have to admit, Aithon has put together quite a show. Lowering the drawbridge, putting out all the fires to take away the most important sense for the guards …

Gabrielle stops and thinks for a moment. Her face slowly lights up as she seems to have an idea.

Linos

Yeah, if only we could come up with something like that.

Gabrielle

But we can!

Linos

How?

Gabrielle

What is the most important sense to the sisters?

Linos

Their … hearing?

Gabrielle

Exactly. And what is one of the only things you can do?

Linos

Talk?

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, GATE - Night

SINIS and BROTEAS still work on the gate. ENYO, DEINO and PEMPHREDO stand together in a group while AITHON restlessly walks up and down in front of the gate, waiting. Although he can't see anything he seems to know the path very well already, stepping over every obstacle without hesitation.

Suddenly LINUS floats towards the three sisters. When he reaches them he moves his face very close to Enyo's ears.

Linos

(shouting)

Aaah!

Enyo whirls around and her hands fly to her ears, dropping the sword. She winces in pain.

Her two sisters turn around to face the threat, but Linos shouts into their ears, too. He quickly takes turns, keeping the sisters occupied.

They stumble around, flailing with their arms - unable to stop Linos from his task.

In the mean time Aithon has stopped.

Aithon

What the hell is going on?

There is no distinguishable answer from the sisters. But Sinis suddenly shouts in triumph.

Sinis

We did it! The gate is open!

Aithon turns towards the gate, ignoring the troubled sisters.

Aithon

Finally.

He slowly walks towards the gate - the sound of Sinis and Broteas pushing it open leading him.

Suddenly there is light.

GABRIELLE has lit a torch only a few yards away. She now drops flintstone and sword, grabbing the staff lying next to her. She jumps up and runs towards the gate.

Before Broteas can react she attacks him, hitting him on the head with a sweeping move which throws him back, away from the gate. Than Gabrielle pushes the armless Sinis away with the tip of the staff.

Both of them on the side, she now grabs the gate and closes it again.

Aithon

Don't do that.

Gabrielle turns - Aithon stands only a few feet away, carrying a sword and looking really angry now.

Aithon

I should have done that sooner.

Aithon raises his sword with both hands and attacks her with a full downward blow. Gabrielle can barely raise the staff to block it.

The sword hits the staff and goes right through it, splitting it into half. Gabrielle stumbles back, now with a yardlong wooden stick in each hand.

Aithon raises his sword once again.

 

CUT TO:

COMMERCIAL BREAK

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, GATE - Night

GABRIELLE stands with the back against the gate, AITHON stands in front of her, the sword raised high above his head.

Aithon

That will happen with anyone who gets in my way.

Aithon attacks again, but Gabrielle can avoid the sweeping blow by moving to the side. Although obviously not to comfortable with her new weapons, she counterattacks Aithon with her right stick, having the left one ready for the next blow.

Aithon pushes the stick to the side with his sword, but is hit on the head by the other one, stumbling back a few steps.

Aithon

(angry)

Aaah!

Aithon jumps forward, trying a thrusting attack, but Gabrielle moves to the side again and allows him to pass - hitting him with both sticks in the back.

Aithon flies forward, hits the gate and drops back, loosing he sword.

When he turns Gabrielle is already upon him, hitting him with a sweeping blow from both sticks, sending him into the air, dropping unconscious to the ground right next to the gate.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Tartarus, GATE - Dawn

GABRIELLE sits alone, with the back to the gate, the two sticks lying next to her. She seems thoughtful and exhausted.

Along the wall next to the gate their lie the tied bodies of the three sisters - DEINO now without hood, showing her old face and gray hair, lying quietly while ENYO and PEMPHREDO desperately try to loosen their binding - as well as SINIS and BROTEAS. AITHON is still unconscious, but also tied.

LINOS floats next to the gate, acting as some kind of guard.

The light of the starting day reveals the horror of the night - dead bodies lying around, blood everywhere.

Suddenly the gate is pulled open from the other side. Gabrielle grabs the sticks, jumps up and turns around.

It's AIAKOS, one of Hades judges, and a dozen guards. Aiakos wears his usual brown robe, his face old and pale but friendly looking.

He looks around while the guards immediately secure the area, picking up the tied escapees and dragging them to and across the bridge. Others take care of the dead bodies.

Gabrielle watches all this, stunned.

AIAKOS

You did a very noble thing.

Gabrielle

What are you doing here?

Aiakos

When Hades found out what happened, he wanted to send just guards … but I asked him to come here and thank you in his name.

Gabrielle

I …

Gabrielle seems unable to find the right words.

Aiakos

Why didn't you leave?

GABRIELLE

I will find a way ... but it will be my way.

Aiakos

You remember that I was against your sentence. I still think that your place is elsewhere.

Gabrielle

That doesn't matter anymore. The horror of Tartarus lies more in what the souls do to each other than the punishment that is imposed on us.

Aiakos

You stopped Aithon and the others although you probably wanted to leave even more than they did.

Gabrielle

I won't find the missing part of my soul in the mortal realm.

Aiakos quietly looks at Gabrielle, which looks back, sadly. Than she turns and slowly walks away, towards the bridge where Linos is waiting.

Aiakos

Wait.

Gabrielle stops but doesn't turn back.

Aiakos

I think you should know that … your ruling … someone bribed Minos and Radamanthys to send you here.

Gabrielle doesn't answer or move.

Aiakos

You deserve the truth. I don't now which god did it, but he asked them to separate you and Xena, to send you both to places where you would suffer most. I didn't knew during the judgement … I would have tried to prevent it.

Gabrielle still doesn't react.

Aiakos

If they would have send Xena to Tartarus and you to the Elysian Fields, she would have accepted it. But this way, both of you continue to fight it … both of you struggle … and suffer most.

Gabrielle starts walking, slowly, towards the bridge.

Aiakos

Gabrielle!

The bard, ignoring the judge standing in the open gate, calling for her, slowly walks across the bridge - towards Tartarus. Linos follows her silently.

After they reach the other side the bridge slowly starts to rise, while Gabrielle and Linos march into the dead forest.