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EXT. PETRONIKUS - DAY
Petronikus is a medium-sized town, with a well kept road leading up to it lined with stones. There is a mud brick wall around the town, with a gate standing wide open.
Everything seems neat and tidy, and the town has a general air of being prosperous.
Xena and Gabrielle pause just before the town and look it over.
Xena and Gabrielle walk towards the gates. As they approach, a man standing just inside them turns and sees them coming.
Both Xena and Gabrielle stiffen, and in reflex, reach for weapons. But the man only holds a hoe, and he hesitantly waves at them.
Xena and Gabrielle relax.
Just passing through?
Not exactly. We were hoping
to stop and rest a while.
The man looks them over, but remains apparently friendly.
Well, this is the place to do it. Our inn's
the best around. Just go right down that
road there, and it's on the left hand side.
Xena and Gabrielle move past the man and continue on into the town.
The town spreads out on either side of them. It contains small, well kept houses and neatly tended paths. A few chickens dash past them as they walk by, and in a yard, a milk cow looks up as Argo snorts.
Xena examines one of the small houses. It is whitewashed, and has a small box of flowers planted outside. Everything does seem neat and perfect.
Last time I saw a place that
looked like this, it was....
Potadeia. When Hope was there.
Xena looks around and nods.
Gabrielle walks close to one of the walls, and touches a symbol painted there... a circle, with triangles surrounding it somewhat resembling a crown.
She looks over to the next house, which also has the symbol.
They reach the town center, and find a square filled with soft grass. On one side is a larger house, on a second, an inn. The third side has a set of three wells and the forth is a path lined with stones leading off between the trees.
A woman comes out of the large house and starts across the grass. She spots Xena and Gabrielle and changes direction, coming over to intercept them. She is young and pretty, and dressed in a bright yellow apron over a gray shift like dress.
Good day! Welcome to our town.
Xena looks at Gabrielle. Gabrielle looks pointedly back at Xena. Xena rolls her eyes.
Thanks. Nice place you have here.
Oh, thank you! We're very proud of it.
Everyone loves living here. Are
you just passing through?
Matter of fact....
We were thinking of settling down
around here. Would that be a problem?
Xena's eyes grow to the size of duck eggs before she realizes Gabrielle is not serious.
Ah.... Why no! Of course not.
We welcome everyone. What
did you say your name was?
Nice to meet you, Gabrielle. I'm Heriet,
and I live over there in my father's
house. He's in charge of the town. I'm
sure if you talked to him he'd let you stay.
Great. Let's talk to him.
Oh... well, maybe you can't right now.
He's busy. But he'll be free around
dinner time. Why don't you go over
to the inn and wait there?
Xena appears impatient. Gabrielle takes a step in front of her.
Great. That's over there, right?
I'm hungry. Aren't you, Xena?
Xena watches Heriet's face. Heriet does not react to Xena's name.
Heriet turns and leaves them, looking over her shoulder as she returns towards her house. Xena and Gabrielle wait for her to disappear, then they turn towards the inn.
INT. HERIET'S HOUSE - MOMENTS LATER
Heriet enters. A woman, her mother, sits near the window, sewing.
Who were you talking to, daughter?
They looked like very odd girls.
Newcomers. They were all right, I guess.
They say they want to stay and live here.
Heriet's mother looks up at her. They both smile grimly.
INT. PETRONIKUS INN - DAY - MOMENTS LATER
A woman, the inn keeper, stands near the open kitchen stirring a pot. The room is meticulously clean, and pieces of cloth are draped over the eight or ten trestle tables stretched across the big room.
The woman hums softly to herself. Over the fire pit, the wall has the crowned sun symbol painted on it in blue.
The door opens, and Xena and Gabrielle enter. The woman looks up in some surprise.
Oh! I wasn't expecting anyone today.
Xena and Gabrielle exchange looks.
Do you usually know when
people are coming through town?
Well, for the festivals, you know.
Otherwise we don't get many visitors....
Are you just passing through?
The woman seems a little apprehensive.
Could we get some lunch?
The inn keeper starts to get some bowls down.
Of course, of course. Please
sit down. I'll be right with you.
Xena and Gabrielle take a seat. Gabrielle notices the sigil over the firepit, and points at it. Xena frowns.
Ever seen that before?
I don't think so.
The innkeeper hustles over and puts down two bowls and two mugs.
Xena points to the sigil.
What is that?
The woman stares at the wall.
That is the sign of the one
who watches over us.
Yeah? And who's that?
The beneficent one. The rule maker
who guides our lives. But you
know nothing of this, I take it.
The outer door opens, and a man enters. He is tall and broad-shouldered. He gives Xena and Gabrielle an obvious once-over then dismisses them.
Helga, there be six
of us tonight, yeah?
The woman nods. The man leaves.
I have to go. Enjoy your meal. It
will be two dinars, plus one
dinar for the one who watches.
The innkeeper vanishes out the back door. Xena and Gabrielle are left alone.
Beneficent one? One who watches?
Xena, this is all new. Isn't it?
Yeah. The rule maker. Why do
I get the feeling we're not
gonna like the rules?
Gabrielle examines the piece of bread on her bowl.
When do we ever?
INT. HERIET'S HOUSE - EVENING
Heriet is setting the table. Her mother is putting dinner out. The door opens, and a man enters. It is Heriet's father. He is a tall, bearded man, heavyset, with very good quality clothing.
Good evening, father!
Heriet's mother hurries out.
Alstan.... You're early. I....
I keep the schedule of the one who
watches over us, woman. Not yours.
Have I not told you that many times?
Alstan hangs up his cloak, and comes to the table.
The brothers and I are meeting
after the sun sets. Get the soup on.
Heriet's mother goes to the pot and hurriedly puts soup in a bowl.
But I thought we....
Soup, woman! I don't have time for talk.
Those damned merchants ran out
without tendering us what was due,
and there's a shortfall to be made up!
What? Did you finish those baskets?
Not yet, father, but....
Not yet!!! What?
Alstan stands up and bellows, waving his arms.
Father! Wait... I will finish them
tonight, I promise, but there are....
You had better!
Father, there are some strangers
here! They want to see you.
They want to live here!
Alstan pauses, and looks at her, suddenly wary.
Strangers? What kind of strangers?
Heriet's mother brings the soup over and places it down before her husband. She seems very glad of the subject change.
Odd ones, to my eyes. Women!
Outlandisly dressed! Can you imagine?
You should have seen them!
Alstan grabs Heriet's arm.
Where did they go? You just let
them wander through the town?
Why didn't you come get me?
Father, I sent them to the inn to
wait for you! You were in the
temple! You told me never to....
So I did. So I did. To the inn,
you say? Good. Women? Hah.
Alstan starts to eat, ignoring his wife and daughter. After a moment, he chuckles.
INT PETRONIKUS INN - NIGHT
The inn is now full. Xena and Gabrielle are at a smaller table near the back wall. The biggest table near the front has been taken up by six men, including the man who had come in that afternoon. They are all dressed in dark over-tunics with the crowned sun emblem on the back.
The crowd seems to be giving the six men a wide berth... more so than they seem to be even giving the two strange women at the back table.
Something's really off here, Xena.
Xena leans forward and points at the six men.
I've seen those guys before.
Gabrielle appears surprised.
You have? Where?
I don't remember it.
You wouldn't. They could be six
of my men, back in the bad old
days. People treated us just like
the folks in here are treating them.
One of the men stands up.
In the one who watches name,
I say to you, listen.
The room quiets immediately.
Starting tomorrow, we will be collecting
every trade item from all at the temple.
It will be blessed, and sent from us for
the glory of the one who watches.
What is sent back to us for it will
be shared with us all. So be it!
The crowd looks at each other uneasily, but....
So be it.
The man sits down and continues to eat.
You really want to wait
here for that guy?
Nooo.... I think I've heard enough to make
me want to go and find him. C'mon.
Xena and Gabrielle get up. They leave out the side door just as the front door opens up again, and Alstan enters. The six men spot him, and hastily stand up. The rest of the crowd stands as well, and bow respectfully.
My children. Be at ease.
Everyone sits down. Alstan looks carefully around the tavern, but doesn't see what he's looking for. With a slight shrug, he turns and leaves again.
EXT. PETRONIKUS TOWN SQUARE - NIGHT
Xena and Gabrielle walk along in the darkness.
Okay, so he's not at home.
And he's not at the inn.
They both stop, and look at one of the rocks in the path, which has a crowned sun painted on it. As they look at the next rock, and the next, they all have the sigil. Xena peers off into the shadowy darkness, where the path goes.
They start off down the path.
EXT. PETRONIKUS TEMPLE - NIGHT
In the middle of a clearing, under a canopy of trees stands the temple. On either side of the door there are torches burning. The building is large, and made of stone, and the doors are shut. The sun sigil is painted on both the doors, and the lintel overhead.
Gabrielle walks over to the doors and gives them a tug. They are locked tight. She turns and looks at Xena in question.
Xena makes a dismissive gesture, and starts to circle the building looking for another entrance. After a moment, Gabrielle joins her.
We could just knock.
Nah. That'd be boring.
Xena spots a thick ivy growing up one side of the building. She heads for it, pausing to spit on both hands and rub them together before she commences climbing up it.
Gabrielle leans against the wall and watches Xena until she gets near the roof. Then she sighs and starts climbing after her.
Least I get a nice view first.
I heard that!
INT PETRONIKUS TEMPLE - NIGHT
Inside the temple several men are working, arranging boxes and bundles in an efficient and methodical way. They drag several bales across the large open space inside, which appears more a warehouse than a place of worship. There are benches around the perimeter of the room, apparently shoved out of the way for later use. Near the front of the room is a raised area, which has an altar-like platform behind it complete with a carved, wooden crowned sun symbol.
Above them in the rafters, Xena and Gabrielle creep into view, and peer downward.
More men continue to come in, all in their dark tunics. They work mostly in silence, sorting and arranging things with a businesslike air.
We're gonna need more
space in here for sure.
Several men laugh.
You can say that again. Hope
those wagons show up soon.
For what we should get for all this,
we can double the size of this place.
I'm getting tired of sleeping
with six of you guys in one room!
The men all laugh now.
Xena and Gabrielle both look grim.
Alstan enters, and walks through the crowd of men. They all stop and bow.
Well done, men.
Alstan goes to the raised platform and stands on it. The men all turn to face him and stand respectfully.
I have great news. We have been
so successful here, I have been
given permission by the one who
watches to spread out our
cause to the neighboring towns.
The men murmur to each other approvingly.
I will be choosing a few of you to
take and spread our message
of love and peace...
A few chuckles
And devotion to the one who watches
to others, so that they may benefit from
knowing the message, and the wisdom
of the messenger. And we will!
The men cheer.
Xena and Gabrielle exchange looks. Xena frowns.
Interesting way of putting that.
The key of course, is to maintain
our holy bond of brotherhood,
and our code of trust.
And not let anyone catch
on to their scam.
And we must remember our pledge
to keep that trust against any
threats from unbelievers, right?
The men cheer and stamp. They raise a thick cloud of dust, which wafts up to the rafters. Both Xena and Gabrielle have to let go with one hand and clamp their noses and mouths, trying frantically not to sneeze.
Death to unbelievers! All praise
the message, and the watchers!
Gabrielle starts to lose her grip on the rafters.
Xena makes a grab for her, and they both begin to slide towards the ground.
END OF ACT TWO