|Episode Guide||Teaser||Act 1||Act 2||Act 3||Act 4|
EXT. TOWN OUTSKIRTS - DAY
Xena and Gabrielle stand just off the main pathway that leads into the town of Janus Hepta.
I think you and I need to have
a talk about how you define
"pretty nice", Xena.
Xena looks at Gabrielle, then back at what she can see of the town, frowning. Though Janus Hepta could, once upon a time, quite conceivably have been pretty nice, it has obviously gone to seed. Dust and bits of rubbish blow listlessly in the wind that scours across the barren land. Buildings that might once have been grand in their day are now little more than ramshackle huts standing against the ever-present wind by inertia alone. The building that looks to be the inn sags appreciably to one side, and its sign "The Pig in a Barrel" swings sluggishly from its one remaining hinge.
Who told you about
this place, anyway?
Autolycus, I think.
Gabrielle looks at Xena in surprise.
She returns her gaze to the town.
Doesn't look like there's anything
here that a beggar would want,
let alone the King of Thieves.
As if on cue, the wind picks up and a small wooden shack standing next to the inn gives up and crumbles pathetically to the ground. The few people walking by, all dressed in little better than rags, don't even seem to notice.
I guess something must
have happened between
then and now, huh?
Xena straightens and nods her head slightly.
Guess so. There's a clearing just
to the north of here. No hot-tubs,
or room service, but it's private....
Gabrielle thinks a moment.
You know? I think we should
give this place a try.
Xena looks at her as if her last toy has left the attic.
I'm serious, Xena. If nothing else,
there might be a story in it.
She waves her hands grandly.
"Riches to Rags:
Who Killed Janus Hepta?"
Too something. Are
you sure you want to....
Yes. I'm sure. Besides, what's
the worst that could happen?
Xena eyes her.
Okay, okay, forget I said that. Look, we'll
just go down there, see if the inn is open for
business. Maybe we can get something to
eat that you don't have to catch and I don't
have to cook, and sleep with a roof over
our heads for one night. You said it would
be good for what ails me, right?
Xena sighs, hoisted by her own logic.
All right, but if the food's poisoned,
or the bed breaks and you wind
up with splinters in your....
I know. I know. Don't come
crawling to you. Right?
Done. Now let's get going before
the rest of the town blows over.
With that, Gabrielle happily starts down the small slope toward the dilapidated town, leaving Xena and Argo to stare bemusedly after her.
(sotto voce, to Argo)
Sometimes I wonder about
her, my friend. I really do.
Argo whinnies in agreement.
INT. INN - DAY
The interior of the establishment is even worse than the exterior. Bits of broken tables and chairs are thrown in the corner of the dark, dank room. The floor is sticky with substances Gabrielle would really rather not identify, and the smells from the kitchen are causing her to seriously reconsider Xena's prior offer.
Still, she can help but notice that for all its meanness, the room at one time must have been quite a magnificent sight. The bar, though scratched, stained and pitted, is the work of a master craftsman, and the few remaining pieces of furniture are equally beautifully made. The huge fireplace that takes up the far wall bears the crumbling remains of what must, at one time, have been a truly spectacular mosaic done in colored tile.
The inn's few patrons look suspicious and frightened by the two new visitors, and especially by the weapons they wear so prominently. As the duo approaches the bar, the 'keep steps forward with a scowl on his face.
If you're from the King, you can turn right
around and get outta here. We've got
nothin' to offer him. Same as always.
A bit taken aback by his hostility, Gabrielle nevertheless smiles at the man.
I'm Gabrielle. A bard. Looking for
a room. Do you have any for rent?
Malum continues to glare at her in suspicion, until he's met with another type of glare. This one is from the tall warrior standing behind Gabrielle, which causes him to pale and nod.
T-two r-rooms, top of the
steps and t-to your l-left.
Thanks, but we'll only be
needing one. How much?
You're asking me?
No. I'm asking her.
Gabrielle turns to look at Xena, whose expression has smoothly shifted into one of complete innocence... or as innocent as Xena can get, anyway. Gabrielle, of course, isn't buying the act for a minute. She turns back to the 'keep.
Two dinars it is. Can you
throw in some dinner?
Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle leans over the bar.
She's not going to hurt you.
He looks extremely doubtful.
After a moment, Malus sighs and nods.
Okay. Here's your two dinars.
If you could give me the room key,
we'll go freshen up a bit and
be back down for dinner.
He pushes the rusted skeleton key across the bar, only releasing his breath when Gabrielle gives him a final smile and turns to leave, followed by Xena.
As the pair makes their way up the rickety stairs, one of the inn's few customers approaches the bar.
You sure you're doin' the
right thing, Malum?
Could be lyin', ya know.
You think that one would
bow down to any king?
The man follows Malum's gaze as Xena and Gabrielle disappear down the dark hallway at the top of the steps.
We'll keep an eye on 'em,
though. Just in case.
Sally, we got two
more for dinner!
INT. BEDROOM - DAY
The room is a pleasant surprise. Though small and a bit ragged, it is neat and clean. The bed, likewise, is small, but clean. A sooty marble fireplace dominates one wall, a window another. Between the bed and the fireplace is an old three-legged table with a cracked basin and a pitcher of water sitting atop it.
Gabrielle makes for the table, stopping when she sees something lying next to the basin. At first glance, it appears to be a piece of cloudy glass, vaguely pyramid shaped, and faceted like a prism. She lifts it and when the light strikes it, a thousand colors suddenly come to life.
By the gods.... Xena, look at this.
Have you ever seen anything like it?
Xena glances at the object in Gabrielle's hand, her eyes drawn to the swirling colors that seem to come from deep within.
I've seen something like it once
or twice. Don’t know what it's
called, though. Maybe some
kind of gemstone.
It's beautiful. Do you think
someone left it here by accident?
The last tenant, maybe?
I doubt it.
Well, if it belongs here, I can
see why Autolycus recommended
this place so highly.
Xena smiles briefly as she lays their packs down in the corner and returns to the table, lifting the pitcher and pouring some water into the basin to wash her hands.
Shall we brave dinner?
Gabrielle's stomach growls out its answer.
INT. INN DINING ROOM - EVENING
Sitting at a corner table, Xena and Gabrielle dig into food that tastes surprisingly better than it looks or smells. Gabrielle has almost finished hers and is looking longingly at what Xena has left on her plate. Xena is looking around the room. A faint frown crosses her features.
What? What is it?
Where are the men?
Her back to the room, Gabrielle looks over her shoulder. The room has filled appreciably since they sat down for dinner. At most of the tables are seated women and their children. Two very old men sit at the bar, talking between themselves. Aside from Malum, tending the bar, there are no other men to be seen.
Malum mentioned a king.
Maybe he conscripted
them into his army?
(off camera, from kitchen)
No! You won't go!
I forbid it!
The kitchen doors burst open and a teenaged boy strides through them. Dressed in rags, he carries a crude shovel and pick-axe in his hands. The boy's mother races out after him, grabbing one arm and pulling him to a stop.
Please don't go.
I have to, Mother.
I don't have any choice.
You do have a choice! You do!
You can stay here with me!
You'll be safe. I swear it!
I can't, Mother.
Please, I have to go.
No, please! You'll just
die like all the rest!
Then I'll die. I can't just sit here
and do nothing, Mother. I'm sorry.
Pulling away, he strides through the inn and out the door.
END OF ACT ONE