|Episode Guide||Teaser||Act 1||Act 2||Act 3||Act 4|
INT. INN - NIGHT
The mild commotion inside the inn quiets immediately as the door opens and Xena walks through, followed closely by Vanus.
Breaking away from the small knot of humanity, Sally rushes to her son and engulfs him in a huge hug. She kisses his increasingly flushed cheeks as he tries ineffectually to wriggle away.
Oh, thank the gods! Thank the
gods you're back. Don't ever do that
again, do you hear me? Never!
Smirking, Xena makes her way over to Gabrielle's table, leaning casually against it as she folds her arms over her chest. Gabrielle smiles up at her.
That was quick.
He didn't get very far.
Ah. Learn anything?
Their conversation is interrupted by Sally, who approaches with her completely embarrassed son in tow.
The gods bless you for returning my
son to me, warrior. I don't know
what I would have done if....
Glad to help.
The woman appears ready to continue gushing and Gabrielle, sensing Xena’s impending discomfort, rises from her place at the table. She stretches and gives a patently fake yawn.
Would you look how late it's getting?
I don't know about the rest of you, but
I'm beat. I think we'll all be able to get
a better handle on this situation after
a good night's rest, don't you?
The group looks at one another, then at Gabrielle, appearing about to protest. Xena narrows her eyes meaningfully. Jaws snap closed as they all nod quickly.
Yup. Getting' real late, it is.
Gotta... um... gotta run.
Past closing time for me,
that's for sure. Don't know
what I was thinking.
Oh my, would you look at the
time? My Vanus should have
been in bed hours ago!
Quickly, the small crowd disperses until only Xena and Gabrielle are left standing in the middle of the room. Gabrielle grins up at Xena.
Xena leans down and steals a kiss.
Yeah, but you like
me that way.
Can't argue with that.
The 'keep peeks up over the bar, blushing as the two women make their way up the stairs and out of sight.
INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT
Having washed and changed into their night clothes, Xena and Gabrielle are curled up on the narrow bed. Xena's feet are hanging slightly off the end despite the fact that her legs are curled beneath Gabrielle's as they spoon together.
So, come to
Not yet. You?
Gabrielle scratches under her chin, then clasps Xena's hand and raises it to her lips. She nuzzles it for a moment before pressing it against her upper chest and holding it there.
Not really. The old guy is sticking to
the kidnapping story. Sally thinks the
mines are haunted. Malum says that
it's just loons mating or something, and
the rest of them are scared spitless.
Do you think Kregus
really kidnapped them?
Doubtful. From the little I've heard about
him, he's an idiot, but he's also lazy. I
don’t think he'd go out of his way to set
up such an elaborate operation, assuming
he even had the brains to do it, when
he's just gonna get the gems anyway
by marrying off his son.
But you think we should check it
out anyway? Just to be sure?
Couldn't hurt. It's only a quarter day's
ride from here, so we could be there
and back in enough time to check out
the mines if Kregus isn't involved.
What about Barakos? That
guy sounds like a real jerk.
Yeah, but since all his wealth
comes from those mines, I
don't think he's behind this.
You think it has something to do
with the mines themselves?
Yeah. Cave-ins, most likely. Vanus said
they'd pretty much mined out most of it
and were having to dig further and further
back to get to the gems. The shafts get
unstable when that happens, and
there's always a risk of poison.
Poison? In the rock?
No. In the air.... You can't
see it, or smell it, but
one breath of it, and....
Wow. That sounds
It can be.
Why do people do it, then?
Greed, maybe. For most
of them, though, it's the
only life they know.
EXT. TOWN - DAWN
Xena and Gabrielle are mounted on Argo. Malum, Sally and Vanus stand before them.
We'll be back
She turns to look directly at Vanus.
Don't go near those mines
until we get back, understand?
With a gentle nudge, Xena sets Argo off into a gallop, leaving the town and its people behind.
EXT. OUTSKIRTS KREGUS' KINGDOM - DAY
The castle grounds look much like the town of Janus Hepta; barren and windswept. The castle itself is in obvious disrepair with crumbling stonework scouring its edifice.
Wow. They weren't kidding
about him being dirt poor.
Doesn't look like it, no.
Why would Barakos want to marry
his daughter off to him? What could
he possibly gain from this?
Kregus has a standing army.
Rumor is they're not half bad.
Barakos could use that.
C'mon. Let's go see
what he's up to.
INT. CASTLE - DAY
It is surprisingly easy for Xena and Gabrielle to enter the castle. Aside from a couple of suspicious looks, they slip right inside and come to stand in the middle of a crumbling, dirty rotunda.
No more than a moment passes when a tall, thin, pasty-faced man scurries over to them, hands fluttering. He's dressed in robes that might have been fashionable in their day, but now they hang on him like yellowed rags. The gaudy rings on his fingers are obvious fakes.
Oh, there you are! Repair to the
kitchens at once and see if you can
redeem the absolute mess that last
cook made of my dinner. Go! Now!
Xena and Gabrielle exchange glances, then return their attention to the man, who is obviously the king.
Kregus pales and steps back, hands still fluttering.
You... you're not the
cooks I ordered!
What tipped ya off,
A young man, just as tall, thin, pasty-faced and badly dressed as his father, runs down the stairs, then stops abruptly as he sees the newcomers.
Father what...? Oh, my.
Kregor, quickly, fetch the guards!
These women are trying to kill me!!
If that was our aim, you'd be dead
already, so relax... your Highness.
We just want you to answer a few
questions. Then we'll be on our way.
Kregus sticks his pointy nose in the air.
I do not answer questions
Xena slips her sword from its scabbard and lays it just under his chin.
There's one policy I
can see changing.
Get them, you imbecile!
Stay right where you are,
son. This won't take long.
Xena looks at Kregus.
I have just one question for ya, King.
Were you or any of your men down
by the mines in Janus Hepta recently?
The King's eyes widen and his mouth forms an O of disbelief.
The mines? Why would I go
to such a foul, stinking pit?
Gems. Lots of em.
Why should I dirty my hands
when those gems will be mine
by right in three days?
Xena shoots a quick look to Gabrielle, who steps forward, smiling.
Are you sure you didn't just take a
quick look around down there? You
know, to see how things were going?
Kregus laughs again.
I could care less how things are run,
woman. As long as I get my jewels,
I am perfectly content to let others
dirty themselves for them. Besides,
even if I had wanted to look, which I
don't, that scamp Baragos keeps
those mines guarded more tightly
than his daughter's chastity belt.
Kregus shoots a look over his shoulder at his son, who flushes and stares down at his soft boots.
All right, then.
She sheaths her sword, taking him at his word.
Sorry to have bothered
you, your Highness.
They turn to go.
Xena stops, and turns back, eyebrow raised.
Baragos sent you here, didn't he?
That bastard is trying to come up with
an excuse to cancel the wedding!!
At this, Gabrielle also turns, and gives him a comforting smile.
Believe me, your Highness, King
Baragos is as excited about this
wedding as you are. There has
been no thought about calling
it off, I can promise you.
Kregus looks at her, suspicion plain in his face.
Gabrielle doesn't lie.
If possible, the king's face goes even whiter than it already is. He holds up his hands in a warding off gesture.
All right. All right.
I believe you.
Good. Now, if that's all,
we're outta here.
EXT. KREGUS' KINGDOM - DAY
Xena and Gabrielle ride away from the kingdom, ignoring the suspicious looks thrown their way.
Well, that was a dead end.
I guess it's just the
mines now, huh?
Yup. And the faster
we get there....
The faster we can
get gone, I know.
EXT. JANUS HEPTA - DAY
Opening her light carry sack, Xena stuffs several readied, unlit torches deep inside, then closes the buckles and straps. She hefts it over one shoulder as she straightens. She carries a shovel and pickaxe in one hand, and a small wicker cage housing a tiny songbird in the other.
Gabrielle looks curiously at this second item.
Music to mine by?
Animal to detect poison by. I'm
gonna set the cage down inside
the mines and then wait. If it's
still singing, we'll go in. If not....
Oh, the poor thing. Xena....
It's the only way to detect the
poison, Gabrielle. It's either this
bird or us, and I think you know
which choice I'm not willing to make.
After a moment, Gabrielle sighs grumpily.
All right, I understand,
... doesn't mean you have to like it.
I know. But like it or not, the only way
we're going down into those mines is
if our friend here says its safe.
Before Gabrielle can reply, the inn door bursts open and Vanus strides out, followed quickly by his wailing mother.
Vanus!! Please!! You can't....
I'm *going*, Mother, and
that's the end of it!
No buts. You're my mother, and I
love you, but I have to do this.
Look. These two women, strangers
to us, are willing to do what no one
in this town has the guts enough to
do. Try to save our lives. You might
not understand, Mother, but they
deserve more than to just be handed
off into danger without so much as a
thank you. I'm going, and if you don't
like it, well, I'm sorry, but you won't stop
me. Not this time, Mother. Not this time.
You have a very brave son,
Ma'am. You should be proud.
For a moment, Sally looks as if she's going to say something particularly unpleasant. Instead, she stiffly turns on her heel and stalks away, back into the inn.
Well, that went... pretty
well, don't you think?
Gabrielle chuckles as Xena rolls her eyes.
Let's get going.
END OF ACT THREE