|Episode Guide||Teaser||Act 1||Act 2||Act 3||Act 4|
EXT. ACADEMY - MORNING
Xena and Gabrielle make their way unnoticed from Twickenham’s villa and begin to make their way in toward the city center. In the distance, they can see and hear a stage being set up near the main fountain.
Gabrielle spots Homer standing tall among a group of his cronies, many of whom she recognizes from her own Academy days, including Twickenham, and one other. Her face lights up in a smile.
That’s Euripides! By the gods, I
haven’t thought about him in years!
He told the most awful stories!
They’re not much better now.
‘Gabrielle’ turns wide eyes to her partner.
Wait. You know him?
Let’s just say we had some words.
And if his voice is higher
than you remember....
Stopping, ‘Gabrielle’ lays a hand on ‘Xena’s’ wrist, halting her as well.
Oh, I most certainly did.
When? Where?? Why???
Last night. At the reception. Because
he had some less than complimentary
things to say about you.
Gabrielle looks quite confused.
Are you sure we’re talking
about the same Euripides?
If we’re talking about the man
over there practically draped all
over Homer, then yes, we’re
talking about the same Euripides.
But that’s.... Why was he at the
party? It doesn’t make any sense.
Maybe he couldn’t cut it as a bard.
Decided to ingratiate himself
with the rich merchants instead.
No, Xena. He’s not that way. He’s....
It’s been thirty years, Gabrielle.
That kind of time changes people.
Even people you thought you knew.
Shaking her head, ‘Gabrielle’ looks over at the man in question who appears to be having a grand time with Homer and his compatriots.
No. Not Euripides. I can’t believe that.
There must have been some other
reason he was at that party last night.
A slight smile breaks over her face.
I’ll bet he was there for the same reason
we were. To find out what was going on
and how to stop it, if he could. He
probably ingratiated himself with those
men so he could spy on them for Homer.
The face itself might be Gabrielle’s, but the look of doubt is all Xena. Seeing it, Gabrielle’s smile fades.
At least admit that it’s a possibility.
Xena sighs, then nods. Gabrielle’s smile returns.
We’ve got the next few hours to confirm
or deny it, so I suggest we get going.
All right. Let’s.... Uh oh.
Xena looks up in time to see Homer’s entire group turn toward them, grinning and waving their arms in identical beckoning gestures.
Gabrielle! We’re headed Stallonus’
villa to prepare for this evening!
Come with us!
Xena eyes the expectant men. It’s obvious they’re not going to take ‘go to Tartarus’ for an answer.
Go on as we planned. Head for the
Academy and do some snooping.
I’ll keep an eye on the rest of them
and see what I can find out.
Ok. I’ll meet you behind
the stage later, alright?
And Xena? It’s not that I mind my
reputation being tarnished, but....
I really don’t think Athens is ready for
“There once was a man from Arenis....”
Giving her partner the most withering of looks, Xena lengthens her stride and is soon within the grasp of Gabrielle’s old friends. As she watches her partner adroitly avoid the Roman hands and Russian fingers of the admiring men, Gabrielle sends up a quiet prayer that those same men will live to see the ceremony with most of their limbs intact.
INT. ACADEMY - AFTERNOON
Gabrielle is walking toward the administration offices. She is watching the crowd already gathering for the ceremony and she knows by the time it actually begins; there will be very little room to maneuver through the crowd.
Slipping into the main section of the academy that holds all the administration offices, as well as the library, she is relieved to find it mostly deserted. There are a few students milling around, but they don’t look like they’re interested in much of anything, including her.
She takes a moment to read a sign on the wall, which directs her to the second floor and the Chancellor’s office.
Like taking candy from a baby.
Looking around to make sure no one is around, Gabrielle heads up the steps. At the very top she finds the hallway is locked off by a large gate.
A cranky baby.
Looking at the gate, which reaches from ceiling to floor, she contemplates her next move. She leans down and examines the lock, scratching her chin; a smile slowly breaks across her face. Taking the dagger from her bodice, she places it between the lock and the gate. Efforts to pry the lock open are proving less than successful.
I should have listened to Autolycus
when he wanted to give me lessons.
Of course the lessons he was offering... well....
She tries again to pry the lock and is getting more frustrated when it doesn’t show any sign of budging.
Son of a....
Pulling the knife away, she beats the side of her fist against the gate in frustration, then almost jumps out of her skin as the gate opens pretty as you please.
... centaur’s uncle. Heh. Watch
out, Xena, I just might decide
to keep this package.
Carefully, so she doesn’t cut anything precious, she puts the dagger back and walks through the gate, making sure to close it behind her.
INT. STALLONUS’ VILLA - AFTERNOON
A large group of men are gathered in a tight crowd, red-faced, shouting, and pointing accusatory fingers at one another. Outside of this circle, Xena stands, arms crossed over her chest, eyes narrowed to dangerous slits, one boot tapping on the ground.
What do you think, Gabrielle?
‘Gabrielle’ gives them all one long, sweeping look.
What I think is that if you don’t start
acting like men instead of a bunch
of overgrown boys, I’m gonna start
busting heads and be done with it.
A loud murmuring, punctuated by a gasp or two, fills the overcrowded room as the men react to her comment.
I thought she was supposed
to be the nice one.
I AM the nice one.
INT. ACADEMY - AFTERNOON
Moving carefully down the long hall, Gabrielle is quick to look about just to make sure her presence still hasn’t been detected. Treading lightly she continues down the hall, finding herself rather impressed with how easily it is to move so quietly in Xena’s body.
All her years with Xena and under the tutelage of the amazons, she has learned how to move without being seen or heard, but she had a feeling that everything Xena did was natural to the body she currently occupies.
She stops quite suddenly, almost as though the body has stopped on its own. She hears movement at the end of the hall. Pressing herself against the wall, she carefully peers around the corner to find two guards standing at the other end.
Perfect. Just perfect.
Taking a deep breath and closing her eyes, she contemplates her next move.
What are the odds they’re guarding
a door I *don’t* want to go through?
Looking around, she doesn’t find anything that she thinks she can use to take their attention away from their post.
Moving to the window, she looks out and finds that there is a thin ledge along the side of the building that could get her closer to the room in question.
Nothing is ever easy.
Climbing out onto the ledge, she is very careful to make sure she has her footing before even attempting to take her first step. Sliding her feet, she moves across the ledge, inching closer to what she hopes is the window leading to the office. As she places her foot for the next precarious step, the ledge crumbles and she falls.
Having reflexes that are lightening fast pays off for her and she grabs at the ledge, stopping her fall, she hangs on the side of the building by her fingertips. Looking down briefly, she decides that falling to the ground below is not high on her list of objectives for the day.
With a groan and tremendous concentration, she pulls herself back up and finds her footing once again.
Now I know why she likes a good
massage at night. Controlling
this thing is a chore.
Now trying to make her way without slipping again, she can feel the muscles in her body tensing and un-tensing as she moves. Finally reaching the last window on the side of the building, she pushes the wooden shutters in, hoping that the cracking of wood doesn’t arouse the attention of the guards on the other side of the door.
INT. STALLONUS’ VILLA - AFTERNOON
The men have finally settled into smaller groups, each vying for the honor of being the first to tell his tale to what promised to be a massive audience. Homer, already having decided that for himself, beckons ‘Gabrielle’ to his side, along with Twickenham.
When Merikus begins to speak, we’ll
make our entrance. Twickenham and
I will lead a column on from the left,
and I would like you to lead the
column from the right.
Homer lays a hand on ‘Gabrielle’s’ arm.
I would also like you to tell
the first tale, Gabrielle.
Xena turns wide eyes toward Homer, her mind scrambling to come up with something suitably Gabrielle-like to say in response.
That... I.... Thank you, Homer.
For that honor, but....
I insist, Gabrielle. You’re the best
of us all, and it’s only right that you
be given the honor of presenting our
case based on the strength of your skill.
Xena stares at Homer, truly between a rock and a hard place. She well knows that Gabrielle deserves the honor being bestowed upon her. But she also knows that she is not Gabrielle, and by her acceptance runs the risk of turning the honor into a farce. Still, her pride in her partner’s skill and accomplishments leads her to answer in the only way she can.
I accept. Thank you.
Homer and Twickenham beam.
INT. CHANCELLORS ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON
The sound of footsteps comes through the door, nearing the chancellor’s room.
Dropping inside, Gabrielle immediately goes into a crouch, eyes and ears alert to any possible danger or threat. Her eyes fall on shadows just outside the door.
Just stay out there, guys. You
don’t want me to have to test
this thing out, do you?
The shadows stay beside the door as Gabrielle waits, then slowly they move away.
Standing, she moves around the room. A swinging candle holder comes dangerously close to smacking her in the head but at the last minute, Xena’s reflexes keep her from hitting it.
She ducks under the lamp and heads for the large, ornate desk in the center of the room.
Looking at the surface of it, she finds it covered with papers and rifles through them.
Well, well. What do
we have here?
Gabrielle holds the parchment up to the light.
A thousand dinars, huh?
Gabrielle holds up another parchment, almost identical.
Two thousand. Didn’t know
storytelling was that lucractive.
Maybe I should.... Nah.
Shaking her head in disgust she takes a seat in the large chair and continues to examine the desk. In the back, she finds a small panel. Pressing it, the small door pops open and she retrieves several scrolls. Unrolling them one at a time, she reads through each carefully until she finds what she thinks she is looking for. As her eyes scan the third scroll, she shakes her head, not believing what she’s seeing as the lines of text form themselves into words that shock her to the core.
No. Euripides. Why?
Putting away the other scrolls, she takes the last one she read and tucks it away in her bracer.
Standing, she looks at the window reluctantly. She walks over and peers out, then with a decisive grunt backs away and heads for the door.
Let’s try the other route.
Gabrielle pauses and looks at the desk. She shakes her head sadly.
I guess you were right after all,
damn it. All right, Euripides. You
and I are gonna have a little talk
right after I check in with Xena.
Going to the door she stops long enough to listen to the men talking on the other side. A strange expression comes over her face, and she lifts her hands, clenching and unclenching them.
Her right hand curls into a loose fist, as though her fingers are closing around the hilt of a sword.
Gabrielle touches the pulse at her wrist, then slowly lets her hand fall. She looks at the door, and her eyes narrow, a slight smile appearing on her face.
Pulling the door open she is met by two VERY shocked guards.
Hiya fellas. Nice day
for a nap, isn’t it?
Before either of them can react, she grabs them both by the neck and knocks their heads together. They go limp as they are dragged back the room. She drops their bodies and steps back, looking at them intently.
Wow. That was different.
Gabrielle flexes her hands again, then she rubs them together and gets to work tying the men up.
Closing the door she starts back down the hall, she leaves the building as quickly and quietly as she made it in.
INT. STALLONIUS’ VILLA - LATE AFTERNOON
Standing in one shadowed corner, Xena watches as Euripides, who has been rather quiet and evasive all day, begins to inch his way toward the door. After a last furtive look around, Euripides slips out of the villa through a side door.
Taking in a deep breath, Xena pushes herself away from the wall and moves after him.
Gabrielle! There you are! Please,
you must help me with my delivery!
Xena looks up at the large, triple-chinned man in the garish red robes and, praising her newly diminished physical stature, easily ducks beneath the massive arm set to swing itself about her shoulders.
Sorry Ceras, but I need to
see a man about a donkey.
Catch up with you later.
Turning, she nearly collides with several more bards who all but surround her, begging for her help with one thing or another.
The stature she just blessed she now curses as the men block her view to the outside, allowing Euripides to slip further and further from her grasp. Resisting the urge to crack skulls and be done with it, she decides upon a tried and true Gabrielle method, one that has always worked on her.
She smiles and adds a nose-crinkle for effect.
The men smile back.
One or two even blush.
Sorry, guys, but I have to take care
of something. I’ll be right back with
you as soon as I can, all right?
The men nod eagerly and, as if by magic, the way to the door is opened for her.
Hm. That was different.
Darting through the seam, she almost makes it to the outside when a hand on her shoulder stops her. She whirls, then halts as Homer takes a step back at the look on her face. Carefully schooling her features, she looks at him expectantly.
The sun has almost set.
It’s time to go.
Xena looks at him for a moment, undecided.
I’ve been thinking about
this, Homer and....
Gabrielle, you promised.
Please. We need your help.
Sighing, Xena finally gives him a nod.
Fine, then. Let’s go.
EXT. ACADEMY GROUNDS - ALMOST SUNSET
Gabrielle exits the main building and sees the crowd gathering for the induction ceremony not very far away. Men and women of all classes and ages swarm toward the stage like lemmings toward a cliff. The air is tense with excitement and expectation.
Wow. Last time I saw a crowd
this large, they were filing into
the Roman Coliseum.
She moves with the crowd, intent on getting to the stage, and Xena, with her findings.
Just then, she spies a vaguely familiar figure as it pushes its way through the crowd like a salmon swimming against the current. Her eyes narrow as the man looks up and she recognizes his face.
She tracks him as he bulls his way to a stand of trees just to the left of the large stage, where he disappears from sight. After a longing look at the stage, she takes the bit in her teeth and begins to move against the crowd, angling for the stand of trees and Euripides.
The crowd, however, has other ideas and isn’t about to let one woman, even a fully armed and fierce looking woman warrior, keep them from trying to get the best seats in the house. As hard as she pushes against them, they push back harder, forcing her to give two steps of ground for every one she gains.
Time is running out, and finally she can think of no other option but to use one of Xena’s techniques. Reaching behind her, she unsheathes her sword and holds it before her.
The first wave stops, wide-eyed.
The way parts clear to the trees and Gabrielle smirks, impressed.
Sheathing the sword, she strides through the now open path as if she owns it.
I could get used to this.
EXT. STAGE – SUNSET
Xena stands off to one side of the stage, quite concerned. Gabrielle is nowhere to be found, and Euripides is still absent as well.
Mistaking her concern for anxiety, Homer approaches and smiles down at her.
You’ll do fine, Gabrielle. I have faith
that all will go as planned this evening.
Xena gives him a distracted smile and nod.
Oh yeah. I’m sure.
Twickenham steps behind Homer and smiles at them both.
Merikus is taking the stage.
EXT. TREES - SUNSET
Peeking through the foliage, Euripides raises his small crossbow as the students and alumni of the Academy led by Homer and ‘Gabrielle’ enter the stage and form several rows behind Merikus, who is still speaking in loud, grating monotone.
A hand touches his neck, along with a sharp blade.
Drop it, Euripides. I’m not kidding.
Slowly, so as to not get cut, he turns his head, staring up into the fierce blue eyes of the Warrior Princess.
I’m not interested in your excuses,
Euripides. Drop it. Now.
EXT. STAGE - SUNDOWN
Receiving her cue from Homer, Xena takes a deep breath and steps forward so that she is directly next to the droning Merikus. She scans the crowd for Gabrielle, but after a moment, she raises her hand and rubs her eyes, shaking her head a little.
Maybe that’s her secret. She
just doesn’t see all the damn
people watching her.
Merikus looks at her from the corner of his eye, scowling deeply but continuing his speech.
And of course, all know of the
great, wondrous bard of Potadeia,
who honors us with her presence!
Xena looks out over the crowd. She looks down at her hands and realizes they are shaking. She licks her lips, realizing she has gotten in deeper than she thought. A thousand eyes are on her.
Xena takes a breath. Her eyes widen as she realizes Merikus is almost finished introducing her. She has no idea what she is going to say when he is done.
EXT. TREES - SUNDOWN
Gabrielle spots Xena, seeing the look on her face as she realizes the predicament they are in.
It’s almost time. You
have to listen to me.
Blinking, Gabrielle turns her attention back to the traitor. Her eyes narrow.
Listen to you? Why you would
want to silence her voice, and
voices like hers, is beyond me.
Silence...? Xena, I don’t want to
silence them. I want to give them
the same opportunity that I had.
By assassinating Homer?
Homer?? I’m afraid you’re mistaken,
Xena. I’m not trying to kill Homer.
I’m trying to save him.
Gabrielle looks from his face, to the crossbow he still holds in his hands, back to his face again.
You’ll forgive me if I have a
hard time believing that.
This isn’t for Homer.
He gestures toward the stage.
Gabrielle jerks and turns around just in time to meet a masked, cloaked figure leaping at her with sword extended, aiming for Euripides.
Gabrielle shoves the attacker back and faces off against him. He turns from Euripides and goes after her, using his sword with skill and aggression.
The man slugs Euripides and he goes down without a sound. Gabrielle tries to just let instinct take over. She steps forward and swings her sword, but it doesn’t quite hit in the right place and the man deflects it easily, driving her back a step.
Why isn’t this as easy
as she makes it look?
EXT. STAGE - SUNDOWN
Xena sees some confusion at the back of the crowd, but she cannot see over it to figure out what it is.
And now, I give you the
The crowd cheers and claps. Xena stares at them. After a second, the clapping fades, and it grows silent.
Xena takes a breath to speak, then as the last clap fades she hears the sound of crossing swords and suddenly claps her hand over her stomach.
The crowd murmurs, shrugging.
Gabrielle? We await
your words of wonder.
Xena is searching the crowd again, but cannot find Gabrielle anywhere.
Ah... I’ve got... something
to tell you all.
Xena falls silent, and closes her eyes.
EXT. TREES - SUNDOWN
Gabrielle stumbles, unable to gain control of Xena’s body using her own instincts.
Ha! The great Xena is
not so great after all!
Damn it. I can’t use this thing.
The man comes after her. Gabrielle stumbles backward, ducking under the man’s sword but almost banging her head against the tree limb they are fighting under.
Euripides gets unsteadily to his feet and makes a grab for the man. The man turns and hits him, then as he falls, raises his sword to finish him off.
Gabrielle lunges forward and grabs Euripides in mid fall, throwing herself and him out of the man’s reach. They hit the ground and Gabrielle rolls over to get up, but finds her sword trapped under Euripides body and looks up to find the attacker’s blade coming right at her.
She closes her eyes.
Xena, I need you.
EXT. STAGE - SUNDOWN
Xena stands with her eyes closed, the crowd forgotten.
INT. XENA’S MIND’S EYE VIEW
A thunder is heard. Two sets of pounding.
Xena is hunting, following the sound. A blast of light appears and she runs towards it. The pounding gets louder, almost overwhelming. As Xena runs, the thunder slowly changes, becoming a singular pounding as the sound becomes recognizable as a heartbeat.
Of two heartbeats becoming one.
EXT. TREES - SUNDOWN
The attacker yells in triumph and raises his sword, swinging it down towards Xena’s kneeling form.
I’ve got you!
As the sword comes within a whisper of her neck, the still figure stirs and evades it in a flickering motion.
The man swings around, but by the time he catches his balance Xena is up and facing him, her sword in her hand and a fierce grin on her face.
Oh yeah. You got me.
Xena twirls her sword. She goes after the man with glee, slicing his cape to ribbons.
The man stumbles back. Xena pounces on him, ripping off his hood in triumph. It is no one we’ve seen before.
Oddly, the man just smiles at her.
EXT. STAGE - SUNDOWN
Merikus strides towards Gabrielle. Homer rushes after him.
As I have long suspected! You
are an impostor! A fake! Guards!
Gabrielle opens her eyes and looks at him. She spreads her arms and takes a deep breath.
I sing of an Amazon Queen, who in
the midst of her grief, fought bravely
against treachery and reached out
to a place beyond death to rescue
a fallen warrior from the grave.
Gabrielle’s voice lifts up over the crowd, which quiets down to listen.
I sing today of grief, and of passion,
and of a love so great it has the
power to make two lives...
Merikus stops in surprise. Homer gives him a shove.
I told you!
Merikus turns and glares at Homer. Twickenham slips up to stand behind both of them, motioning to Gabrielle for her to continue.
N-n... now b-b-b-boys. W... we’re i...
in... interrupting... our g-g-g-g-g-guest.
Merikus and Homer subside, bowing towards Gabrielle. Twickenham and Merikus exchange looks.
Gabrielle turns and faces the crowd, then suddenly dives for the ground as Xena leaps onto the stage, hurling herself right over Gabrielle’s head and into the three men.
The figures roll several times before stopping. A knife slides along the stage until it hits Gabrielle’s boot. She bends over and picks it up, then continues to where Xena is just pulling away from the would-be assassin.
Here’s your traitor, Homer.
Homer and his compatriots gasp as the assassin’s flushed face is revealed.
Merikus gets to his feet his florid face flushed with anger. Several bewildered looking guards cluster around them.
Now see here....
Guards! Arrest this man for
conspiracy to assassinate the
rightful Chancellor of the Academy.
Now wait just a moment! I....
How much did he pay
Xena pulls the terrified man up by his robes and shakes him.
I’d suggest you answer her.
T-t-ten th-th-thousand d-d-d-dinars.
And the a-a-a-a-assistant
Lies! All lies!! They’re setting me up!
Can’t you see that?? They’re all in
league with one another. They all
want to discredit me. They’re
all lying!! All of them!!!
Euripides jumps onto the stage and strides over to the group, pulling a scroll from his robes.
They’re not lying. Look.
A guard takes the scroll and unrolls it to reveal a contract between Twickenham and Merikus; a contract written in the same hand that wrote the documents condemning Euripides that Gabrielle had found earlier.
This is your writing, Merikus.
I recognize it from a contract
you drew up for my wife
and me last harvest.
Lies! You’re all lying!!
All of you! All of you!!!
Take him to the prison.
That one too.
Xena hands Twickenham over to the guards. He looks at his assembled friends, tears sparkling in his haunted eyes.
No one answers him as he is led away.
As the men disappear from view, Homer turns to Xena.
Thank you, Xena. You saved my life.
(looking at Gabrielle)
I had a lot of help.
Gabrielle grins and rubs her nose.
Of course. You are quite a team.
We have many, many skills.
Homer laughs softly, looking at each of them in turn.
That I can well believe. Thank you
both. You’ve done the Academy
and Athens a great service.
Xena and Gabrielle nod in unison.
Any time. Right Xena?
Gabrielle indicates the crowd, which is pushing forward to goggle at the going’s on.
I think you better distract them.
Know any good stories?
Homer grins, and starts towards the crowd followed by his friends.
Just leave ‘em to me.
Xena and Gabrielle move off to one side into the shadows where they stand to watch, hands clasped. After a moment, they exchange looks.
How about you? That was....
Xena’s voice trails off. Gabrielle nods.
Yeah, it sure was.
Could have been worse.
Gabrielle thinks about it for a moment.
I think I need time to... think about
all of it. But I’m glad to be home.
Xena grins and squeezes Gabrielle’s hand warmly.
Me too. I was getting a crick in
my neck from being so short.
Gabrielle puts her hand on her hip and gives Xena a look.
Don’t get me started.
I thought you liked my body.
Mm... Let’s just say we need to
discuss some of your urges.
Xena’s eyebrows go right up and sticks there. It is Gabrielle’s turn to grin.
END OF ACT FOUR
EXT. HOMER’S VILLA - DAY
Their belongings packed, Xena and Gabrielle, happily in their own bodies, are readying themselves for the road. Homer and Euripides join them as they make ready to leave.
Are you sure you won’t stay?
Yes, we’re planning a
huge celebration tonight.
Thanks, guys, but we
need to be moving on.
Well, if you’re sure.
I’d like to thank you both again. If it
wasn’t for you, I might well have been
dead, and the Academy would once
again have been in the hands of the
merchants. If there’s ever anything
I can do to repay you, please ask.
No payment necessary. It’s what we do.
Just give everyone an equal chance to
study and learn there. That’s all we ask.
You have my word.
I still can’t believe it.
Twickenham, of all people.
I didn’t want to believe it either.
Even when the proof was there.
He was my best friend.
I wish I understood why he did it.
It was his stutter. It kept him from
being the bard he wanted to be.
I think after a while he just... gave
up. It was easier to side with the
rich who were willing to offer him
anything, than to continue to struggle
along doing something he felt he
would never be very good at. He
always wanted respect, and felt
he’d never get it with his stutter.
Why involve us? That’s what I don’t get.
He figured your being here
would be a distraction?
He probably figured he’d have
someone to blame the death on.
(beat, to Gabrielle)
Merikus always had an idea
that you weren’t.... Um....
Telling the whole truth in my scrolls?
Something like that.
And I suppose Twickenham
just wanted to be somebody
else for awhile.
Xena and Gabrielle exchange a significant glance.
That might be a good fantasy,
but in reality, it’s not all it’s
cracked up to be, believe me.
Homer and Euripides look at her strangely.
Just... take my word for it.
Xena nods to them both.
Good journeys, Xena. Please bring Gabrielle
back to visit us again soon. I’d love to
hear the end of that story she was telling.
So would I.
Xena and Gabrielle leave, two puzzled men staring after them.
Xena and Gabrielle's sense of self wasn't harmed during the making of this
motion picture. Argo, however, is requesting several weeks of intense therapy.