XENA - ANOTHER SEASON 5 - Episode 8

SOULMATES

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

 

INT. Amphipolis, Cyrene's Tavern - Day

The tavern is empty and quiet. The remains of last night’s business are already taken care of. CYRENE seems busy preparing everything for tonight, putting candles on the tables right now.

She wears a simple blue and white dress and her hair bound back. She seems concentrated, serious in her work with a general melancholic tone in her aged face.

Xena (Off)

Mother?

Cyrene freezes in her movement, tears forming in her eyes.

Cyrene

Not again. Why are you doing this … please, Mnemosyne, spare me more painful memories.

XENA has in the meantime entered the tavern. She still wears the roman armor she received in the Roman war camp, carrying a sword and her Chakram in the belt. She seems tired, travel weary - but her face shows great joy, even so tears fill her eyes, too.

Xena

I’m not a ghost … I’m not a dream … I’m really here, mother.

Cyrene slowly turns around and when she sees Xena she stumbles back a step, her look turning into disbelieve … and again sadness. She lifts her hands to hide her face.

Cyrene

It can’t be true. Joxer came to tell me of … your crucifixion. I visited the Amazons … they showed me were you and Gabrielle were cremated … and your ashes handed over to the four winds.

Xena

Mother, I can understand your confusion … I’m not sure what happened myself.

Xena walks to the next table and drops down onto the bench next to it.

Xena

What they told you … was true. Gabrielle and I were crucified … we entered the underworld … the afterlife.

Cyrene

But …

Xena

We were separated … I was send to the Elysian Fields. I met Solin … Marcus … Lyceus.

Cyrene now also sits down on the nearest bench and listens – fascinated, scared, hopeful.

Xena

I heard that we were gone for almost two years … it seemed much less to me. Suddenly … the gods intervened. Ares offered me a second chance … but I declined. I can only guess that Gabrielle received a similar offer and accepted … because only 4 days ago … we lived again.

Cyrene seems almost ready to believe it.

Xena

Mother, I don’t have much time. We came back right into the middle of two clashing Roman armies … and Gabrielle and I got separated again … actually … I wasn’t even able to talk to her. But I think I know were she is going.

Cyrene stands up and slowly walks towards the sitting Xena. Their eyes lock – both filled with tears, Xena’s showing hope and joy while Cyrene still seems doubtful.

She stops in front of her daughter and slowly, testing, touches her face. She looks deeply into the eyes of Xena and finally acceptance and joy take over Cyrene’s look.

Cyrene

I lost you once … and I got you back. I didn’t thought it would happen again.

Xena silently buries her face in Cyrene’s chest, hugging her. Cyrene gently strokes her daughter’s hair.

Xena

(muffled)

I love you, mother.

Cyrene

I love you, too, little one. I love you, too.

Xena breaks the hug and leans backwards, looking up into Cyrene’s face - questioningly.

Cyrene

I know … you have to look for Gabrielle. Her place in my heart is right next to yours. Go … now that I know your … back … we will see each other again.

Xena

Thanks, mother.

Xena jumps up, hugs Cyrene, kisses her and than turns towards the door.

Cyren

Wait … I almost forgot. There is something you want to see.

CUT TO:

INT. Stables - Day

It’s the small stable next to the tavern, mainly used by the guests to provide shelter for their animals.

XENA and CYRENE enter through the door that leads directly into the tavern. Xena looks around, searching – a little suspicious. Cyrene’s face shows pure joy.

Cyrene

I’m so happy that I have something to give to you.

Xena

(surprised)

Argo!

And really – Xena’s trusty horse is the one animal in the stable right now, occupying the last box.

Xena rushes forward, towards the box, while Argo is immediately excited, seemingly recognizing the warrior princess instantly. Xena hugs and strokes the animal while it rubs the head against Xena’s body.

Cyrene

When I visited the Amazons they showed her to me. She had refused most food and care. She seemed ready to die. But somehow … for some reason … she accepted me … and as it seemed that I was the only one she allowed to be taken care of … I brought her here.

Xena, truly happy, steps back, letting her eyes wander over the horse.

Xena

She’s in good condition, now.

Cyrene

Ready to take her for a ride.

CUT TO:

EXT. PoteiDaia - Day

The people of Poteidaia, at least all the adults, have assembled in the middle of the village. Loud, mostly uncontrolled discussions are running up and down thru the crowd. Amongst the villagers there are LILA, HECUBA and HERODOTUS, Gabrielle’s family.

Herodotus is actually the one that is desperately trying to get a little order into this meeting.

Herodotus

Please people, order. We have to make a decision here.

First Villager

Melanthios only wants some supplies … I say give it to him.

Lila

Melanthios is a greedy warlord, that’s all. We cannot support him.

Second Villager

We cannot resist him, either.

Third Villager

He isn’t that strong, yet.

Lila

That’s true … he has only a few men and a small, hidden camp. He wouldn’t ask for supplies if he were strong enough to take them.

First Villager

We shouldn’t listen to a little girl … this talk of fighting, of resistance got her sister killed. She should know better.

Hecuba

Don’t you talk about Gabrielle. If she and Xena were still alive than everybody here would want them to fight.

Second Villager

We’re only farmers … no matter how weak Melanthios is, he is still too strong for us.

Lila

If we give him supplies, his army will grow and then he will attack our village to get the rest.

Third Villager

We have enough strong man and women to arm three or four times as many fighters as he has …

Second Villager

Only that we are no warriors.

LILA

We have to defend ourselves … we cannot let them take our village. And by taking up a sword, an axe … or even a pitchfork … and defending his own land … everybody becomes a warrior.

Herodotus

Let’s vote.

CUT TO:

TITLE SEQUENCE

 

In a time of ancient gods ... warlords ... and kings ...

... a land in turmoil cried out for a hero!

 

She was XENA ...

... a mighty princess, forged in the heat of battle.

 

The power ...

The passion ...

The danger ...

Her courage will change the world!

 

CUT TO:

INT. GABRIELLE’S PARENTS HOUSE - DAY

The interior of the house is simple, functional, with only a few decorations. HERODOTUS is sitting alone on the large table that stands in the middle. He has his elbows on the table and his face hidden in his hands. It’s silent.

Than, slowly, the door to the outside swings open – and GABRIELLE enters.

She wears Roman armor, dirty and damaged on a few spots. The sandals are covered in mud and seem roughly repaired. Gabrielle’s face is dirty under a leather headband and looks tired. Patches of dried blood and dirt cover her short hair. She holds a pair of chobos – yard long fighting sticks – in her right hand and a bag in her left.

She stops in the entrance and looks around – smiling, with tears in her eyes, when she sees her father.

Gabrielle

Father?

Herodotus

Go away … I don’t have a family.

Herodotus voice sounds sad, angry.

Gabrielle

Father … it’s me, Gabrielle.

Gabrielle drops chobos and bag and steps towards her sitting father. She looks confused.

Herodotus

Gabrielle is dead … and so is Lila. I don’t have a daughter anymore.

Now Gabrielle’s face shows shock, disbelief. She stops in front of her father, grabs his shoulders and turns him around, so that he has to look at her.

Gabrielle

Father, what are you talking about … what happened to Lila?

Herodotus – his face looks as if he has cried quiet a while – stares at Gabrielle, surprised and shocked himself.

Herodotus

Gabrielle … you’re Gabrielle. But … the Romans … they …

Gabrielle

It’s a long and complicated story … and I don’t believe half of it myself. But what were you talking about Lila? Tell me!

Herodotus stares into Gabrielle’s face and starts to cry. He pulls her towards him and hugs her, burying his face into her body.

Gabrielle seems touched, but a little insecure. She carefully removes the arms holding her and makes a step backwards. Than she goes down on one knee, bringing her father’s and her own face level.

Gabrielle

What happened to Lila?

Herodotus

They … they took her … and your mother.

Gabrielle

Mother, too? Who … who did that?

Herodotus

A warlord named Melanthios. He has a secret camp near the village … he threatened us, wanted us to support his army. Lila … she was so strong. She became more like you every day. She organized the defense … rallied the people.

Gabrielle

Was there a fight?

Herodotus

No. No, they came in the night. Melanthios must have found out who has taken the lead. They broke into the house … surprised us while we were sleeping. They dragged Lila … and her mother … away.

Herodotus drops his head.

Gabrielle now has tears in here eyes, too – but her look is serious, determined.

Gabrielle

Were did they take them?

Herodotus

We don’t know … we don’t know their camp. But Melanthios is unscrupulous … his men told me, they are going to kill them for all to see. I couldn’t do anything …

Gabrielle quietly looks at her broken father for a moment. Then she stands up and lays her hand on his shoulder.

Gabrielle

Father … I’ll try to find her. You go and assemble everybody who is willing to fight. We will not just give up … we get them back.

Not waiting for a response, Gabrielle turns, picks up her chobos and walks thru the still open door. Her father has raised his head and watched all this. When she is gone he stands up, whipping the tears away with the back of his hand.

CUT TO:

EXT. Forest, near PoteiDaia - Day

XENA, still in the roman armor, is riding Argo thru the wood. The loose standing trees allow them a fast trot and Xena as well as Argo seem to enjoy the ride.

Reaching the top of a small hill Xena suddenly stops Argo and looks around, searchingly. After a few moments she slowly guides Argo towards the right side, down the hill again.

At the foot of the hill she stops again, looking around. She seems to remember something – and really, this looks like the place where Xena first saw Gabrielle, dragged along by , Draco’s men.

Xena smiles – and seems to think back.

CUT TO:

EXT. Forest, near Mantineia - Day

In the middle of a dense wood a clearing, only occupied by a few scattered trees, opens up and allows the sun to reach the ground.

On one side a dozen armed men, lead by PELASGUS – a strong, athletic men in leather armor and a large axe, long, black hair and a full beard - and PERILAUS – a smaller, older men, bold, wearing black leather clothing and carrying a sword – have surrounded a larger group of peasants, men and women.

Perilaus seems to handle the talking.

Perilaus

Listen, I’m a reasonable guy … I give you a choice. You choose to give us what we want … supplies, a few slaves … and we simply walk away. You choose to resist … well, some of my men don’t have a problem with killing you all. Actually, I don’t think anyone of us has a problem with that. So …

One of the women, actually a young girl, not older then 17 or 18, wearing a simple green dress, storms forward, towards Perilaus, only to be stopped by Pelasgus. She wears her long, black hair open and her eyes show courage. He grabs her with one hand, holding her neck like he could break it with a simple snap of his fingers.

Leona

Take me … let the others go!

Perilaus looks at her, intrigued.

Perilaus

Interesting. But you see that’s not what we came for. Supplies and a few slaves that can handle hard work … I don’t think you qualify for either.

Perilaus nods towards Pelasgus. Pelasgus starts grinning and lifts the girl up into the air, choking her.

Leona grabs his arm with both hands, but is unable to free herself. There is unrest amongst the villagers, shouting – but the soldiers surrounding them don’t allow any action.

Voice (Off)

Stop it!

Everybody with the exception of Perilaus seems to turn towards the voice coming from the other end of the clearing.

A woman, riding a large, black horse, slowly approaches the two groups. She wears a black leather outfit acting as armor in parts, but mostly giving free room to move – a sword seems her main weapon.

It’s CALLISTO, wearing her blond hair long and free, looking serious, a little angry maybe.

Callisto

I told you … stop it. Let her go.

Pelasgus looks over to Perilaus. Perilaus in turn stares to the ground and after a few moments he nods. Pelasgus opens his hand, letting the girl simply drop to the ground.

Leona falls hard, but doesn’t seem to care. She just stares at the incoming Callisto.

Callisto finally stops her horse right behind Perilaus, letting her look go over the frightened villagers.

Perilaus

So … what now?

Callisto finally looks at Leona, who in turn still lies on the ground, staring at her. The girl’s look shows fascination, admiration, confusion. For a moment Callisto seems to show some emotion too, curiosity, maybe a little appreciation. But her face quickly turns back to arrogance and disinterest.

Callisto

My plans have changed … we leave them alone.

Perilaus

But we need the supplies.

Perilaus has finally turned to face Callisto, which now leans forward towards him.

Callisto

You don’t want to challenge me, do you? That could lead to some very unpleasant ideas.

Perilaus seems angry, defiant – but he doesn’t resist.

Perilaus

I would never challenge your command. If you think it’s better to leave … than that’s what we do.

Callisto sits back up straight and turns her horse around. Throwing a last look at Leona she rides away, leaving the clearing the way she came.

Perilaus looks over to Pelasgus.

Pelasgus

What now?

Perilaus

We do as she says. Haven’t you forgotten what happened with the last one that defied her?

Pelasgus

No.

Perilaus

So … we retreat.

Pelasgus

Her constant mood swings will bring us all into Tartarus.

Perilaus

Rumor has it she was there, once.

Pelasgus

The men expected great thinks from her … her reputation was legendary. Now they are not so sure anymore.

Perilaus

They?

Pelasgus

Me too.

Perilaus

Well, than maybe … we … should think about a solution … for them. But for now, let’s go.

Perilaus gestures the soldiers to follow him and walks away into the direction Callisto disappeared.

The soldiers fall into a loose marching order and after a few moments the clearing is empty with the exception of some very happy peasants – and a very thoughtful Leona, still lying on the ground.

CUT TO:

INT. GABRIELLE’S PARENTS HOUSE - DAY

The house is empty and silent. The door to the outside is open as is the door to the back – the sleeping rooms.

On the table, next to remainders of food, Gabrielle’s roman armor lies around, looking like carelessly thrown onto it. Her chobos are also there.

Suddenly HERODOTUS comes running into the house, visibly excited.

Herodotus

Gabrielle! Gabrielle!

He stops in the middle of the room and waits. Moments later GABRIELLE enters from the other door.

She now wears boots, a brown, knee-length skirt with a front and back part that is going down almost to the ground, a short rust-red top and brown leather straps around both lower arms. She looks refreshed, determined.

Gabrielle

Father! Any news?

Herodotus

They want a meeting … they say, they are ready to give them back.

Gabrielle

We cannot find their camp and we are locking for two days now … why would they suddenly give up?

Herodotus

I don’t know. The messenger just said … we could find them on top of two-oaks hill.

Gabrielle stares at her father, thoughtful, suspicious. Than she grabs her chobos and runs past him, out of the door.

Herodotus

We should feel lucky … that it all ended this well.

CUT TO:

EXT. Two-oak hill, near PoteiDaia - Day

The green sides of that hill rise high above the surrounding fields. High, green grass covers the whole top, with only two trees interrupting. The sky above is blue, with the occasional cloud scattered around. A light wind sweeps over the hill and bends the grass a little bit.

The two trees on top stand about 20 or 30 yards apart, both old and large oaks. Someone has put wooden stakes into the ground next to each of them, small fields of sharpened, upwards pointing sticks, covering the ground below the branches.

Above the sticks, hanging on a rope, on each tree a person is swinging in the wind. With their arms tied to their back and a loop of rope tied around their chest and leading upwards into the tree each person swings about 5 or 6 yards over one of the fields of stakes – a drop would mean certain death.

Unable to free themselves, LILA and HECUBA are the two victims that were prepared that way. Both are gagged.

But that’s not all. Both ropes holding them above the ground - are burning. It can only be a matter of minutes before both are plunging to their death.

Both Lila and her mother avoid most movement, but still try to stay turned towards each other. Their eyes, tear filled and showing fear, maybe more for the other one than themselves, are locked.

CUT TO:

COMMERCIAL BREAK

CUT TO:

EXT. Field, near PoteiDaia - Day

GABRIELLE is running across the field. She looks exhausted – her face shows fear, a shadow of dark premonitions covers it.

Suddenly she stops, staring in surprise and horror at something in the distance. It’s two-oaks hill – and the two bodies, hanging from the trees with the rope burning. Looking hard even the stakes in the ground can be made out.

Gabrielle

By the gods …

Gabrielle immediately starts running again, now driven by panic, fear for the lives of her loved ones.

Gabrielle

Lila! Mother! Lila!

After a few steps Gabrielle throws away the chobos she still held in her right hand and tries to run even faster.

CUT TO:

EXT. Forest, near PoteiDaia - Day

XENA, still riding Argo, has reached the edge of the forest. She stops Argo to take a look at the fields and hills before her. At the same time she pulls a leather water skin out of one of the backs behind her, opening it and leading it towards her mouth.

Before she can drink her whole body freezes. She stares straight at a hill in the distance – yes, two-oaks hill. Even from this distance the two bodies and their peril can be seen.

Xena throws away the water skin and drives Argo forward, galloping towards the hill.

She approaches the hill from the side opposite to Gabrielle.

CUT TO:

INT. Prison, Mantineia - Night

The small, stone build cell is dark, getting light only from a candle on the other side of the metal bars forming on wall while the small holes in the stone walls on the other sides only show the dark sky.

A wooden bunk and a bucket are the only furniture available. CALLISTO sits on the bunk, with her back towards the wall and her legs crossed. She still wears her black leather outfit, but she looks beaten – cuts and bruises cover face and arms.

Her eyes are closed and she seems thoughtful.

Callisto

Maybe I cut out their treacherous tongues … or I nail their mouth shut. I could split open their …

A sound, coming from the other side of the iron bars interrupts her. Someone is slowly opening the door that leads to the room in front of the cell.

Callisto opens her eyes and tries to see who is coming.

It’s LEONA. The girl, Callisto spared before, still wears the green dress. She acts very carefully, avoiding any noise.

Callisto is actually surprised, moving forward to the edge of the bunk and putting her feet to the ground.

Leona closes the door behind her and than steps to the cell door, also build of vertical iron bars, closed by a single lock.

Callisto

What, in Tartarus name, are you doing here?

Leona

I can get you out of here. You … you saved me. I want to help you.

Callisto

I can take care of myself. Do you really think a few men of your peasant’s militia can hold me back?

Leona

No … of course not.

Leona now looks frightened, but she stays in front of the cell, staring at Callisto like at a dangerous but fascinating attacking animal.

Callisto

So?

Leona

My father is in the militia … I have the things they took away from you. And I have the key.

Leona holds up a metal key – her eyes seem to beg now. Callisto stands up and steps to the bars, opposite of Leona.

Callisto

You know, I’m a dangerous woman … I might kill you, just for the fun of it.

Leona

They say you are.

Callisto

Every story you heard about me … every atrocity … it’s true … and most of the time the story doesn’t tell half of it.

Leona doesn’t seem to know what to say – she just stares into Callisto’s eyes, frightened and fascinated.

Callisto waits a moment, than she grabs the key through the iron bars and quickly opens the lock.

When Callisto pushes open the door, Leona moves back, stopping when her back touches the wall on the other side.

Callisto walks to the door, Leona came through, carefully opens it a little bit and looks outside.

Callisto

Nobody here.

Leona

I told them, a farm to the south of the village was under attack.

Callisto

Your father won’t be happy about this.

Leona

I …

Callisto

So, where is my stuff?

Callisto turns towards Leona.

Leona

I’ve hidden it outside the village … I can lead you there.

Callisto

You don’t really think I would let you follow me along for even a second.

Leona

You won’t find it.

Leona looks straight back at Callisto and her fear has given way to defiance.

Callisto thinks for a moment.

Callisto

(angry)

Okay, I don’t have the time to argue. You lead me to my weapons and equipment and than … you go home.

Leona pushes herself away from the wall and, happily smiling, walks past Callisto through the door.

Callisto just shakes her head, part angry and part curious, and than follows her.

CUT TO:

EXT. Forest, near Mantineia - Night

It’s a small clearing in a dense part of the forest. CALLISTO is looking through a pile of equipment – bag, bed rolls, weapons, water skin, and so on.

LEONA stands at the edge of the clearing, a few steps away, watching her.

Callisto

It seems … everything’s here.

Leona

I told you so.

Callisto

Okay, you better leave now.

Callisto leaves the pile of her belongings and starts collecting wood, obviously to make a fire.

Leona stands there for a moment, than she starts picking up wood herself.

Leona

Why did your band betray you?

Callisto stops for a moment, looking over to Leona – than she continues collecting wood.

Callisto

It was my own fault … I should have known better. You can trust nobody.

Leona

Have these things happened to you before?

Callisto

A few tried … in the past. They didn’t live long enough to brag about it. If I hadn’t been out of business for a while … I think they would have thought twice about this.

Leona

So you’re good at … what you do?

Callisto by now has an arm full of loose wood and now piles it up in the middle of the clearing. Than she gets some tinder, her sword and a flint stone to make fire.

Callisto

As a woman you always have to be twice as good in anything … but I was always … motivated.

Callisto knees down next to the pile of wood, puts the tinder under it, sticks the sword into the ground next to it and hits it with the flint stone. The resulting sparks light up the tinder and the fire is started.

Leona stops collecting wood, watches Callisto starting the fire and than drops the pile she has collected so far next to the campfire.

Callisto throws flint stone and sword back onto the pile of her belongings and looks up at Leona.

Callisto

You have to leave.

Leona looks back at her with begging eyes.

Leona

Let me go with you.

Callisto seems surprised. She doesn’t answer immediately. Instead she stands up, walks to her equipment and picks up a bedroll.

Callisto

You can’t be serious. You cannot believe that I would burden myself with a little girl.

Leona

We could be friends.

Callisto

I don’t need friends … I don’t want friends. Friends make you weak. And how would I benefit from a friendship with you?

Leona

I can help you. I helped you escape!

Callisto opens the bedroll and spreads it out. Than she sits down on it, warming herself at the fire.

Leona herself stands next to the fire, warming herself, too.

Callisto

I would have escaped on my own. Friendship is a distraction … it keeps your focus away from the important things.

Leona

I can work for you. I’m very good with the needle. And I can fight.

Callisto looks up for a moment, than she kicks out with her right leg, sweeping Leona from her feet. When Leona hits the ground next to the campfire, Callisto rolls over and leans over the girl, holding her face right above hers.

Callisto

You can fight? Have you ever used a sword … a knife … your bare hands? Have you ever actually fought someone … fought someone for your life. Have you ever killed someone? Have you looked into his eyes and seen the moment of truth, the moment were he realizes that he is going to die? The moment of his last breath, the moment were the light in his eyes goes out … like a candle.

Leona stares upwards into Callisto’s eyes, scared, unable to move or talk.

Callisto

I was like you, once. Innocent … until my world was destroyed and I had to fight back.

Callisto pushes herself back up into a sitting position, turning towards the fire again.

Callisto

No. No, I was never like you. I was never innocent … I was prepared to do what I had to do. You’re just curious … fascinated by something you have never seen before. Go … go home.

Leona slowly stands up and, with hanging head she walks towards the edge of the clearing.

Leona

I’m not the little girl you want me to be … everybody wants me to be.

Leona stops and turns around, looking at Callisto.

Leona

I know who you are … I know what you’ve done. They told stories about you when I was younger … horrible stories. They used you to scare us … to do as we’ve been told.

Callisto looks up from the fire, straight into Leona’s face.

Leona

I was never scared. The stories always told about how you never had a friend … even in your army nobody liked you.

Leona makes an unsure step back towards the campfire.

Leona

The stories made me sad … nobody deserves to be alone. I always thought that life … should be shared.

Callisto

I have nothing to share but pain … you don’t want that, believe me.

Leona stares at Callisto for a few more silent moments, then she turns away again, ready to leave.

Leona

Maybe my father is right … I see too much in people.

Before Leona leaves the clearing, Callisto leans back and grabs a second bedroll out of the pile of her equipment and throws it towards Leona. It lands right next to her and the girls freezes.

CALLISTO

You can sleep over there.

Leona slowly turns around. When she looks at Callisto the warrior woman just nods towards a point on the other side of the campfire. Than she lies back on the bedroll, covers herself up and turns to the side.

Leona picks up the bedroll and slowly walks towards the spot Callisto showed her. She spreads out the roll and sits down on it.

Than she turns her head towards Callisto and opens her mouth, seemingly wanting to say something.

Callisto

And don’t talk any more … I’m tired. And you don’t want to make me angry, now want you?

Leona closes her mouth shut and lies back on the bedroll, quiet. With a happy smile she looks upwards towards the star filled sky.

CUT TO:

EXT. Two-oaks hill, near PoteiDaia - Day

XENA is still galloping towards the two trees were LILA and HECUBA are hanging from the burning ropes. She has already reached the foot of the hill and now drives Argo forward to gallop upwards.

Her face shows anger, concentration. She seems to think about a solution for the given problem.

When she has reached the top of the hill, maybe 40 or 50 yards away from the two trees she now can see GABRIELLE, too. The bard is running up the hill on the other side, but by foot she is much to slow and won’t reach the top for another minute.

Xena rides towards the middle between the two trees and her look switches between the two tied up women, forth and back.

The ropes holding them up, above the spikes in the ground, are almost burned through – it could only be a matter of seconds before both are going to drop down.

Xena’s look now has changed into unusual desperation – she seems to have no solution for the problem.

GABRIELLE

Xena!

Gabrielle now sees Xena riding towards her mother and sister and her voice has a tone of happy optimism – it seems she is confident that all will end well, now.

Xena, looking nothing like optimistic, closes her eyes and tears appear in the their corners. She gives Argo a small signal and the horse turns to the side, now heading straight for one of the trees.

Gabrielle sees that and looks surprised, but doesn’t slow down in running up the hillside.

Xena now has almost reached the tree she was heading for – she pulls up her feet, preparing to jump from the horse, most likely when it passes the tied up hostage.

Than it happens – both ropes rip at the same time. Lila and Hecuba drop down, towards the stakes in the ground. They desperately struggle with their tied up arms and their free legs to stabilize the fall – but both drop forwards, flat towards the ground.

Xena, at the same time, jumps forward from Argo’s back towards the falling body.

She is able to grab her – Lila – in midair and the momentum of Xena’s jump carries them sideways, beyond the stakes.

Xena and Lila drop hard to the ground and roll a few yards further. Xena immediately jumps up and looks for the other tree.

But Hecuba has fallen down simultaneously – and nothing could have saved her. Her body is slumped over the ground and at least half a dozen stakes have penetrated her body.

Xena turns away, horrified. Her eyes are filled with tears, sad and angry.

Lila lies next to her, still tied and gagged – she stares at her mother, tears running down her face. She shakes uncontrollable and muffled sounds can be heard under her gag.

Gabrielle in the meantime has stopped, freezing the moment the bodies dropped. Now her look moves from Lila and Xena to her mother and back. She cries, too. Finally she drops down to her knees, hiding her face in her hands.

Finally Xena stands up and slowly walks over to Hecuba’s dead body. She carefully steps between the stakes and lifts her up. There she stands for a few moments, just looking into the dead face - the horrified look under the gag.

CUT TO:

COMMERCIAL BREAK

CUT TO:

EXT. Forest, near Mantineia - Dawn

The campfire on the small clearing has died down. Only LEONA is still there, Callisto as well as her equipment is gone.

A sound from the forest finally awakes Leona and she slowly, tiredly, opens her eyes. She turns to the place Callisto had slept and when she cannot see anyone she throws away the cover and sits up on the bedroll.

She quickly looks around, turning her head forth and back, but everything is empty … silent.

Leona

Callisto!

Leona’s look turns from surprise to frustration and sadness. She falls back on the bedroll and again stares upwards into the sky.

CUT TO:

EXT. PoteiDaia - Day

It’s the main path leading towards Poteidaia – as small, dirty road. XENA and GABRIELLE walk side by side, Xena leading Argo. LILA is sitting on the horse and all three look very serious, mourning silently.

Argo also carries a sledge, on top of which Hecuba is lying under a cover.

Villagers, on seeing this small procession, stop in their work and watch them, silently.

When they are near Gabrielle’s home, HERODOTUS storms out of the house and towards them. He looks happy.

Herodotus

Lila! You’re back. Thank the gods, you’re alive.

When he sees the serious faces of his daughters he stops, a few steps before reaching them, looking worried. Finally his look falls onto the sledge – recognizing his wife.

His face turns to stone and he drops to his knees. He starts to cry uncontrollable, falling forward to the ground.

Gabrielle runs forward to comfort him, while Xena stops Argo and helps Lila, still weak from her ordeal, down.

Gabrielle

Oh, father. I … I was to late.

Herodotus

Why her? Why it had to be her? She never harmed anybody. She was such a peaceful soul.

Lila now also was on the side of her father and hugs him.

Lila

It was all my fault … all my fault. I never should have stood up against Melanthios.

Gabrielle

No … there is no blame here. Melanthios killed her. No matter what happened … he is the murderer.

Xena

I should have saved her.

Gabrielle looks up to her friend, standing next to Herodotus and his two daughters, all three still kneeing on the ground, hugging and comforting each other.

Gabrielle

You saved Lila. That’s more then I could have done.

Xena

I can never forget her look.

Herodotus now slowly gets up, his daughter following his example. He looks into Xena’s sad eyes.

Herodotus

You saved Lila?

Xena just nods.

Herodotus

You took Gabrielle away from us … and I thought I could never forgive you that. But she came back and … she has become so much more than we could have ever offered her. And now you have given me back Lila … I wouldn’t have survived the loss of both Lila … and Hecuba. I want you to know … you’re part of family now.

Herodotus drops his head and slowly marches past Xena to the sledge, kneeing down next to Hecuba’s body. He carefully strokes her face, smiling silently, with tears in his eyes.

While Lila continues to cry, kneeing on the ground, Gabrielle stands up and steps next to Xena. She leans her head towards the big warriors shoulder, silently crying. Xena puts her arm around Gabrielle’s shoulder and closes her eyes.

CUT TO:

EXT. PoteiDaia - Dusk

The villagers have assembled outside of Poteidaia, forming a loose circle around an open grave. Hecuba’s body was covered in white sheets and placed into a square hole in the ground. Different things have been placed around her – pots, tools, clothes and jewelry.

HERODOTUS, LILA, GABRIELLE and XENA stand next to the open grave, silently mourning. They all look down onto the body while some women of the village sing a sad, dark song in their local language.

When they are finished the circle of people slowly dissolves, everybody leaving thoughtful and serious. A few man stay behind with shovels, ready to close the grave.

Herodotus, Lila, Gabrielle and Xena also stay behind, continuing their silent guard.

Herodotus lays his arm around Lila and closes his eyes, not able to hold back his tears anymore. Lila is already crying.

Gabrielle holds back her tears and finally turns away from the grave, walking away a few steps. Xena turns and follows her, stopping next to her.

Gabrielle

I couldn’t have made the decision.

XENA

I had to make a choice ... I could only save one of them.

Gabrielle

I know … if I would have been there, probably both would have died … I would have frozen.

Xena

No … you’re stronger than that. You would have done what’s best.

Gabrielle

I know, I should be only sad … and I am.

Gabrielle turns her head towards Xena.

gabrielle

But I’m also happy to see you again.

XENA

I knew I would find you here.

GABRIELLE

It's were we first met.

Xena

But it will never be the same.

Gabrielle

No. Our death … the afterlife … mothers death … so much has happened.

Xena

Do you think we could go back to how it was before?

Gabrielle

No. Do you want to?

Xena

I don’t know. When … when I was alone, in the Elysian Fields … I just wished everything back to … normal.

Gabrielle

I know what you mean.

Xena

But … you’ve changed. I have, too. Can we just … continue where we left off?

Gabrielle

I don’t know. But I know …

Gabrielle and Xena now look deep into each other’s eyes.

Gabrielle

… our friendship is the one constant that I have. Everything can change, our life, our way, past and future … but it doesn’t matter as long as you are here.

Xena

(smiling)

You were always better with words.

Xena strikes through Gabrielle’s hair.

Xena

You’re right … nothing can take that away from us.

Gabrielle turns back towards the open grave, leaning against Xena. Now, finally, tears come down her face and Xena tries to comfort her friend.

Herodotus, still holding Lila, nods to the man with the tools and they start closing the grave.

Herodotus, Lila, Gabrielle and Xena are the only one’s left to watch.

CUT TO:

EXT. Forest clearing, near Mantineia - Day

It’s the camp of Callisto’s former band. Half a dozen warriors can bee seen sitting around. A loose collection of sleeping places, two campfires, a few tied up horses, food and other supplies carelessly spread out, make up the camp.

PERILAUS and PELASGUS sit at one of the campfires and seem to seriously talk about something.

Suddenly a warrior stumbles onto the clearing, holding his bleeding throat. He falls forward, flat to the ground. His body struggles for a moment, than he lies still.

Perilaus and Pelasgus jump up, grabbing their weapons – so do the other men.

A second warrior flies head first onto the clearing, from the same area the first one entered. This one flies head first into one of the campfires, rolls to the side and jumps up again, shouting for help as his upper body has caught fire. Blindly he runs towards the other end of the clearing and stumbles into the forest, disappearing from the view.

It’s silent again and everybody on the clearing stares at the area where the two unlucky guards have appeared.

Leisurely, CALLISTO enters the clearing from that very spot. She wears her black outfit and a sword in the belt. She holds a bloody dagger in the right hand and wears a broad, sadistic smile on her face.

Pelasgus

Callisto!

Callisto stops after a few steps, next to the corps of the first guard.

Callisto

Very good, Pelasgus. Maybe you can also guess, what I’m here for.

Pelasgus looks over to Perilaus, who has a grim, determined look on his face.

Perilaus

We don’t want anything to do with you, anymore.

Callisto

So that’s why you betrayed me?

Perilaus

Come on … we knew these peasants could not keep you in their prison for a day. We just wanted to send you a message. You should be thankful.

CALLISTO

I am thankful ... that's why I will kill you all quick and painless.

Pelasgus

We are six men … and you are alone.

Callisto

I admit … it’s a little unfair. But maybe I can fight using only one hand?

Pelasgus again looks over to Perilaus.

Perilaus

I’m sure we can handle this otherwise.

Callisto

Of course. You throw away your weapons and I slaughter you … it’s much quicker.

Perilaus actually smiles for a moment, than he gestures his man to attack. Pelasgus and the four others look at each other for a moment, but than they storm forward, weapons raised.

While Pelasgus leads the charge against Callisto, Perilaus stays a few steps behind, switching his sword from the right to the left hand.

Callisto manages to avoid Pelasgus’ axe and easily blocks the attacks from the other fighters. With one fluent motion she cuts the throat of one of them and rams the dagger through the chest of the second.

Than, finally, she draws her sword, blocking the next few attacks. A kick finds one of the fighters reeling backwards and a head butt downs the other one.

She whirls around and barely blocks Pelasgus attack with his heavy axe, falling down onto one knee because of the sheer power.

Perilaus in the meantime has pulled out a throwing knife with his right hand and now, with Callisto down and busy, he uses it.

The knife buries itself in Callisto’s right shoulder. She grabs her shoulder in pain and pulls out the knife while she gets up and stumbles back a few steps, followed by Pelasgus with raised axe.

Callisto now switches the sword into her left hand and is able to redirect the next blow to the side. But her face has lost its smiling confidence.

Suddenly LEONA enters the clearing, stopping at the edge and looking around, observing the situation.

Callisto is barely able to defend herself against Pelasgus, while Perilaus has again switched the sword hand and advance towards the injured warrior. Nobody has yet noticed the girl.

Leona looks around, desperately searching – and finally she picks up one of the swords the other fighters have dropped, dying.

She raises the weapon, obviously a little to heavy for her, and storms forward towards Perilaus.

Callisto has lost her standing after the last attack by Pelasgus and has dropped to the ground, holding her left arm with the sword up to defend herself – but it doesn’t look good.

Pelasgus stand over her, the axe raised, while Perilaus stands next to them both and actually just lowers his weapon, obviously sure that this axe blow is the last attack needed to stop Callisto.

At that moment Leona reaches him and carries out an awkward, but deadly blow against his head. The sword only glances along Perilaus’ ear, but cuts deep into his neck, killing him instantaneously. He falls forward while Leona stares at him, horrified over her own action.

Pelasgus turns his head to his fallen friend and this moment of distraction is all Callisto needs – she pushes her sword upwards, through his chest. When he slowly falls backwards she lets go of the weapon which is sticking out of his body.

Now Callisto slowly stands up and looks at Leona – surprised, angry, uncertain.

She walks up in front of her and looks straight into her eyes. Leona is crying and Callisto takes the sword out of her shacking hand. Leona drops down to her knees and covers her face.

Callisto looks down at her and slowly points the sword she has taken at Leona’s throat. For a moment, Callisto seems determined to kill the girl.

But then she throws the sword to the side. She continues to look at the girl for a few moments and finally she goes down on one knee, feeling for the wound in her shoulder. She winces in pain for a short moment when her left hand probes the cut.

Leona

I … I killed him.

Callisto looks at Leona in a strange mixture of anger, care and sadness. She lays her left hand on the girls shoulder and kind of comforts her. When Leona looks up into her face she matches the look.

CUT TO:

EXT. The void - Darkness

There is total darkness … and total silence … except for two voices.

Hephaestus

Aphrodite … my wife … what brings you into my humble workshop. Are you in need of another tool to deceive me?

Aphrodite

But Hephaestus … you are my beloved husband … how can you think such evil about me.

Hephaestus

Isn’t it ironic … that I’m married to the goddess of love and … she doesn’t love me?

Aphrodite

If you want to see it that way … isn’t it ironic that I’m the most beautiful being in existence and Zeus would make me marry … you?

Hephaestus

I may not be as beautiful as your … many mortal companions … but I truly love you. You should know that.

Aphrodite

But I do.

Hephaestus

So, how’s your latest conquest … Adonis, I think?

Aphrodite

Oh, but it’s strictly business … he makes a terrific champion for the upcoming battle.

Hephaestus

If you say so.

Aphrodite

What about you … you have so many friends that you actually had to build your champion.

Hephaestus

At least Talos is strong and honest … he will make a fine champion.

Aphrodite

Tinman will make a fine trophy on the wall.

Hephaestus

Well … as long as we still quarrel I don’t give up hope that you actually might love me … one day.

CUT TO:

COMMERCIAL BREAK

CUT TO:

EXT. Forest, near PoteiDaia - Dusk

XENA and GABRIELLE sit next to each other at a campfire in the middle of a small clearing. They seem tired, but relaxed.

Gabrielle

You only needed two hours to find Melanthios’ camp. You have to teach me that.

Xena

I will. You really can handle those chobos … it’s good to have you at my side in battle again. I missed that.

Gabrielle

I did, too.

Xena

And you really sure, that’s how you want it to be?

Gabrielle

I know now where I was wrong the whole time. I tried to find my way by copying others. You … Eli … others I rather want to forget. There is no easy choice. I have to make my own way. If that means fighting, I will. But it also means looking for peace, friendship … I cannot see a contradiction there.

Xena

It’s good that you were there … that you kept you head. I was very close at killing this bastard in cold blood.

Gabrielle

No, you wouldn’t have done it. He’s in prison … he will never harm anyone again.

Xena

It was like in the old times.

Gabrielle

We might have changed … but the world hasn’t. She still needs you.

Xena

And you.

Xena and Gabrielle look at each other, lovingly.

Gabrielle

Sometimes I think our decisions don’t matter. Everything seems to be fate … fixed long before we encounter it.

Xena

No. If so, we wouldn’t be here. Our fate ended on theses crosses … everything from now on is … choice.

CUT TO:

EXT. Forest clearing, near Mantineia - Dusk

LEONA and CALLISTO are still on the clearing with the killed traitors. Leona sits at one of the fires, staring into it.

Callisto in the meantime prepares one of the horses, putting all her equipment and weapons onto it. A bandage covers her right shoulder and the work seems difficult for her. When she is finished she leads the horse with her and stops a few steps away from the sitting Leona.

Callisto

You’re okay?

Leona

Sure.

Callisto

You can take the other horses … that will probably keep your father from becoming too angry.

Leona

Yeah.

Callisto moves again, leading the horse towards the clearings edge. She stops again after a few steps.

Callisto

How did you find the camp, by the way?

Leona

My father had allowed them to stay here after they betrayed you. I thought … after you left me … you probably would come here for revenge.

Callisto

And I did.

Callisto is silent for a few moments, than she continues to lead her horse away from the clearing. Before she crosses the edge to the forest, Leona jumps up.

Leona

I want to go with you.

Callisto, obviously not surprised by this, stops again.

Callisto

You killed a man because of me. Weeks of nightmares, fear, real physical sickness … it’s always the same. And many people get killed around me.

Leona

That doesn’t matter … I want to be your friend.

Callisto

Friend? I don’t need a friend.

Leona

You’re injured. At least let me come with you until the wound is healed. I can be useful.

Callisto turns towards Leona, looking at her, thoughtful.

Callisto

You can ride?

Leona

No.

Callisto shakes her head.

Callisto

Than you will have to sit on the back.

 


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