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INT. PETRONIKUS TEMPLE - NIGHT - CONTINUOUS
Gabrielle slips off the rafter. She grabs on to a piece of wood, but it breaks off in her hands and she heads for the ground two stories below
Xena throws herself off the rafters.
Abruptly, Gabrielle's flight is arrested as she is caught by the leg and the scruff of her neck and held dangling in mid air.
Xena has her legs wrapped around a roof support, and is holding Gabrielle up over the heads of the men below.
The men finish clapping, and the room quiets.
All right men, let's get this place
ready for what I hope will be very
substantial additions to our stock.
Alstan turns to go. Xena tightens her grip on Gabrielle and looks up as a bit of the roof support cracks free and lands on her head.
Sir, will you be speaking the
watcher's words tomorrow night?
I will. I have received a new
scroll of messages. Tomorrow
you will hear them.
The men nod.
Another piece of wood falls and bounces off Xena's shoulder. Xena swiftly snatches it out of mid air with her teeth so it doesn't fall on Alstan's head.
Gabrielle remains absolutely still, trying not to swing. Her eyes are tightly shut.
I know we have our mission here,
but I love hearing the words, sir. I do.
Alstan claps the man on the shoulder.
Well, that's nice, my son.
Now get to work.
Alstan starts to leave, then he pauses, looking down at the ground. There are bits of wood there. He looks at the wood, then looks around.
Xena gives Gabrielle a tiny shake and Gabrielle opens her eyes. She sees Alstan directly below her, looking at the debris.
Just shy of looking up, Alstan shrugs and leaves instead, followed by the other men. They take their time, each one walking under where Gabrielle is hanging.
Finally, they are gone, and the door slams shut behind them. After a second, Xena spits the piece of wood out of her mouth and it goes bouncing off.
Son of a bacchae.
Couple of other words come to mind.
Listen, there's no....
Just drop me.
Xena looks down.
That's a hard looking floor.
Gabrielle looks around and sees few options.
Well, you could just drop
me on my head.
Hang on... just go with me.
Gabrielle grimaces. Xena heaves herself upward, then releases Gabrielle's leg. Gabrielle tumbles in the air, and extends her hands up to meet Xena's as she falls. They lock wrists, and now Gabrielle is dangling in a much better position.
Xena releases her grip, Gabrielle releases hers. Gabrielle lands hard, but keeps her balance and waits as Xena lets go of the roofing and somersaults in mid air to land next to her.
Footsteps approach again, and voices get louder outside the door. Xena and Gabrielle slip to either side of the door and flatten themselves against the wall. Xena draws her sword. Gabrielle draws a sai.
The door latch starts to work. The door starts to open.
They hear a shout from farther off, and the door slams shut and the footsteps recede.
Xena and Gabrielle relax. Gabrielle flexes her leg and winces, then sheathes her sai.
Xena puts her sword away and starts examining the room.
Guess there isn't much doubt
about these guys, huh?
Xena lifts a piece of parchment and holds it up towards the light. After a moment, she tosses it to Gabrielle.
Xena looks around, then puts her hands on her hips. Her expression is somewhere between disgusted and profoundly disturbed.
So, what do we do? Just chase
them off? There's a lot
of them, Xena, but....
But there's two of us, yeah.
Xena looks around again.
We chase them off, they'll just
be back. Besides, there's
something bigger behind this.
Gabrielle drops the parchment on the box.
So we have to go to the source.
Now we just have to make
them take us to it.
Xena goes to the wall and climbs up on some boxes. She extends a hand down to Gabrielle.
The door's just not good enough, huh?
Gabrielle climbs up on the boxes and takes Xena's hand as they climb up into the ceiling and disappear.
INT PETRONIKUS INN - MORNING
The innkeeper is busy baking bread. It is just after dawn, and the sun is shining in the window.
Gabrielle enters from the back, appearing freshly scrubbed and wide awake. She whistled softly as she crosses to the kitchen area.
The innkeeper seems surprised to see her.
Oh! Good morning! I didn't see
you and your friend come back
last night so I thought....
We came in the back door.
The innkeeper looks puzzled.
But we don't have a back door.
Sure you do. Now.
What's that you're
making, raisin bread?
The innkeeper looks around her table. It is covered in loaves, at least two dozen of them.
Yes, I have to start early. It takes time.
Must be a popular choice here.
Well, not really, but it holds very well.
It's for the glory of the one who watches.
The brothers take it for their works.
Gabrielle crosses her arms and studies the loaves.
But they pay you for them, right?
Oh, no, no, of course not.
It's my gift to them.
Gabrielle picks up a loaf and studies it.
But they sell it, don't they?
So.... They get paid for your work.
What do you get out of it?
The innkeeper seems quite disturbed. She goes back to baking her bread, turning her back on Gabrielle. Gabrielle filches a raisin from a loaf and nibbles it.
EXT. PETRONIKUS HOMESTEAD - MORNING
Xena rides Argo II along a dirt path. On either side of her are fields of grain and other growing things being harvested. On the side of the path is a big wagon, with a number of town men working around it.
Xena slows as she approaches them, and the men look up from their work.
One of the men approaches her.
That's a beautiful mare.
Fortunately for Gabrielle, the way to Xena's heart is not through praising her horse, but it never hurts.
Thanks. Looks like you've
got a nice crop there.
The men look at their work, then at the wagon.
Yes, it is. We've been grateful
that our prayers were answered.
Xena gets off Argo II and goes to the wagon. She lifts a bit of the harvested grain.
You prayed for this?
The men all gather round Xena, more than slightly intrigued by her appearance.
We've had hard times since the
old gods left us. This season, the
brothers came and told us the
message of the one who
watches. It gave us hope.
Xena flinches slightly at the word.
Since they've been here, the harvests
have increased. Life is better.
You don't think that
might be a coincidence?
The men all frown.
How could it be?
Weather's been good. I've seen great
harvests from the coast all the way here.
Where's all this going? You have a
big storehouse? Probably sell what
you don't need and make a profit.
The men murmur to each other.
Oh no. This is for the one who watches.
Our tribute for the good harvest.
Xena steps back, looks at the wagon, looks at the men, looks back at the wagon, and assumes a very skeptical expression.
Uh huh. Okay. Gotta go.
Xena leaps back on Argo II, and gives the wagon one more look, shaking her head. The men's attention is glued on her and she is aware of that. Xena waves, and rides off, still shaking her head. The men watch her go, then they gather around the wagon, voices rising in argument in very short order.
EXT. PETRONIKUS INN - LATE AFTERNOON
Gabrielle is sitting outside the inn on the grass, writing on a scroll. She is leaning against a tree, but is watching the square with her peripheral vision.
Heriet exits from her house, and starts heading for the path to the temple. She spots Gabrielle sitting in the grass and pauses, watching her.
And Xena killed the bad giant,
saving the village from destruction.
Heriet hears the words and wanders closer.
What are you doing?
Writing down a story about
something that happened to us.
Heriet comes over and sits down next to Gabrielle.
My father says storytelling is evil.
Gabrielle looks up.
It takes time from work, and it spreads
lies. He says the only stories we should
be hearing are from the one who watches.
Gabrielle puts her quill down and blows on her parchment to dry it.
Do you really believe that?
What makes the stories from
your watcher any truer than mine?
They are the word of god!
Gabrielle doesn't appear intimidated, naturally.
Well, I've learned the hard way that
the word of a god and the word of
one of us is about equally trustworthy.
Heriet gets up and backs away.
You speak nothing but worthless
lies. My father is right.
Heriet storms off, leaving Gabrielle sitting in the grass. Gabrielle rolls up her scroll, and taps it against the side of her neck as she ponders.
Just before disappearing down the path to the temple, Heriet stops, and looks back uncertainly.
Gabrielle smiles, and salutes her with the scroll. Heriet frowns, and hurries off.
INT. PETRONIKUS INN - BACK ROOM - EVENING
Xena is sprawled on the room's small, somewhat low bed. Gabrielle is packing the last of their belongings into a carry bag.
You think this is going to work?
Xena has an apple balanced on her stomach. She bounces it up and down a few times idly.
Hard to say. We planted some
seeds. Let's see what we harvest.
Gabrielle walks over and sits down next to her. She removes the apple and takes a bite of it, then hands it back.
Bags are ready. You want to take them
outside, and I'll meet you near the temple?
Xena takes a bite of the apple.
You ready for this?
As I'll ever be. C'mon.
Xena hoist the bags up, and turns to jump out the window. Gabrielle hops out after her, and they disappear into the darkness.
EXT. PETRONIKUS TEMPLE - NIGHT
The temple courtyard is full of townsfolk. A platform has been set up outside the doors, hastily decorated with ribbons and swatches of cloth. A piece of board with the crowned sun sigil is propped in front of the platform. Torches stand to either side, lighting the area.
The door to the temple opens and a dozen tunic wearing men emerge. They take up positions on either side of the platform and stand waiting.
EXT. PETRONIKUS INN SURROUNDING TREES - NIGHT - SAME TIME
Xena and Gabrielle stand behind a tree, watching the crowd. Xena straightens out Gabrielle's coat and flicks her bangs a little more evenly. Gabrielle gives her the kind of look often given mothers trying to clean off dirt with a thumb-full of spit.
Seeing this, Xena leans over and kisses Gabrielle on the lips.
Gabrielle is much happier with this approach, and apparently forgives Xena her fussing.
EXT. PETRONIKUS TEMPLE - NIGHT
Alstan walks out of the temple and goes to the platform. The crowd all bows respectfully, and he holds his hands up as his men all cheer.
The peace of the watcher be with you,
my friends. You have learned your
lessons well, and we have prospered.
Thanks be to the one who watches over us.
So it will be.
The message of the watcher tells us to
take care of each other, to obey those
who know the watcher's word, and to
give to the watcher all but what is
necessary for one's body.
Obey the watcher!
This has given us peace, and a good
harvest. What more can we ask?
We can ask nothing. But the watcher
has sent us a new message, and we
must listen and obey this new
message, so our bounty can continue.
The crowd murmurs.
All heed the message and the messenger!
We must do more to bring the message
to others! It is not enough to know it
ourselves, we must shout it from every
corner, so that our neighbors, and their
neighbors will hear it and listen to its wisdom!
That is the path to true enlightenment.
MAN IN CROWD
But.... We've done everything asked of us.
When can we attend to living our lives?
Alstan points at him.
It is those such as you who threaten
our message! See! Among us,
participating in our bounty, there is
doubt! This angers the watcher!
The crowd whispers uneasily. They move away from the man.
You will only know peace through
obeying the watcher's word!
Gabrielle steps out from behind the trees and moves to stand opposite Alstan.
Obeying someone else has
never brought anyone peace.
The crowd reacts in shock. Alstan is also shocked.
Who are you? How dare you
come in here in this place of
holiness and blaspheme!
My name is Gabrielle. I've traveled
the world, and I know more about
gods than you can ever imagine.
Blasphemy depends on
who's doing the talking.
Alstan's men stir angrily.
Stranger, you have no place here.
Leave, before you anger the
watcher. You cannot feel the love
of the watcher's message.
My place is wherever ordinary
people's fears are being used
to take advantage of them.
You do not hear the message!
The crowd starts to cluster around Gabrielle. Alstan's men close in around him.
The message is - give me everything
you've got so I can sell it and make
a profit. Why not show them
what's in your temple?
You are an enemy of the watcher!
Men! Brothers, sisters... Heed the
message and defend the
messenger! Take up your stones!
Gabrielle turns her back on them, and faces the crowd.
Am I an enemy? Think about what
you're being asked! To obey without
question? To give up your hard
earned profits? To make these men
rich with your efforts? Is that
the message you hear?
Defend the messenger! Stone her!
The crowd picks up stones from the ground, shifting angrily as Alstanís men rush to grab sticks from a nearby pile.
Gabrielle is caught between the two of them.
END OF ACT THREE