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EXT. HEDELON CITY - ALLEYWAY - DAY
Xena and Gabrielle hide in a cul-de-sac. Xena is sitting on a box, her hands clasped in front of her. Gabrielle crouches at her side, one hand resting on Xena's shoulder.
Okay, that was a shock.
Gabrielle rubs Xena's arm.
Well, at least it makes things
a little easier. We can just
go in and talk to her.
Sure. I mean, if it really is her in the
middle of this, maybe it's all just a
huge misunderstanding. You
know how that can happen.
Xena is looking straight ahead.
What if it isn't?
If it isn't? I don't understand, Xena. You
don't seriously mean you think Eve's
behind those guys, do you? She's
your daughter... how could you?
Xena looks very somberly at Gabrielle.
Because she's my daughter.
Gabrielle falls silent. After a moment looking into Xena's eyes, she just puts her hand up and brushes the back of her knuckles against Xena's cheek.
I think she'd find what those guys
are doing as rotten as we do.
Xena exhales heavily.
Maybe. We'd better wait for it
to get dark before we try
getting inside just in case.
Gabrielle looks around.
Okay. Let's go find a place to
hole up until then. We're a little
conspicuous in this crowd.
Xena gets up and pulls her cloak around her, hiding her armor and weapons.
How about we get you a spiffy
new robe, and you can....
Even in the right clothes, you're a
little more inconspicuous than I am.
That wasn't a short joke, was it?
Xena manages a smile in return.
Xena and Gabrielle go to the edge of the wall and peer out cautiously. They see only a few strolling people, so they ease out into the alley and join the heaviest flow of traffic.
They do attract notice. Several men nod and point at them as they fade into the crowd.
EXT. HEDELON CITY - AFTERNOON
Gabrielle is walking the streets of the city. She is now dressed in an oatmeal colored robe without any adornment and sandals. She does blend in to the crowd, and attracts little notice.
She spots a huge building off one street, with steps leading up to the entrance. People in robes with the sun sigil sit on the steps, some speaking with passersby.
Looks like as good a
place as any to start.
Gabrielle wanders casually over and takes a seat on the steps near a group of men and women, close enough to listen to their conversation.
INT. HEDELON CITY INN - AFTERNOON
Xena is now dressed in a simple rough tunic much like the workers seen in the streets of the city. She has just entered the inn, and she takes a seat at a table near the back.
The inn is three-quarters full, mostly with people who labor for the city. There are merchants here, sailors, wagon masters, stable masters - the middle working class. Xena does not stand out in the crowd, but she does attract a few eyes as she takes a seat in the rear.
A serving woman finishes up pouring a drink and goes to Xena's table.
What can I get you?
The server stares at Xena in puzzlement.
Ale and some bread.
Okay, we've got that.
New in town?
Just got here.
Seems like a nice place.
Two of the merchants nearby have been listening. One turns now to face Xena. The server leaves to get Xena's order.
Sure it is.
Unless you work instead
of talk all day long. You
a worker or a talker?
Xena puts her boot under a huge sack of grain near the table and lifts it just by flexing her leg. She sets it back down.
What do you think?
The men chuckle. The server comes back with a mug for Xena, and a wooden platter of bread.
So why's this a bad
place for honest labor?
It's not. He just complains
Yeah? So you must like
giving the boys in the robes
your dinars then, eh?
The server leaves. Xena gets up and takes her mug and platter to the merchant's table. She sits down next to them.
Tell me about the
boys in the robes.
The merchants look around, then lean closer to her, lowering their voices.
Don't talk too loudly. They speak a lot
of love and tolerance, but I've seen
people who cross them get taken
to some very unpleasant places.
Yeah. This used to be a nothing little
backwater. Then the robes showed
up and started talking all their sharing
and love talk and people bought into it.
Sharing's not a bad thing.
No, if you're all doing it.
Thing is, that's how it started, but now
the sharing's more the robes taking
and giving back very little.
Uh huh. So they ask for donations?
If you sell anything or buy anything
in this town, you pay them a
percentage. Guess they feel it's
due em after they built the place up.
What if you don't pay?
The merchants look around carefully.
I could tell you, but I don't want
my tongue hung on the gate.
Xena's eyebrows go up.
But I'll show ya, if you dare
to come with me.
Xena looks thoughtfully at the merchant. Then she tosses a coin on the table and stands up, pausing to wait for him to join her.
EXT. HEDELON CITY TEMPLE STEPS - AFTERNOON
Gabrielle has now joined the group sitting on the steps. Two of the men with sun sigil robes are on either side of her, and two of the others sit across on the steps.
But San, you said
what you're teaching....
Not I, Gabrielle. I do not teach;
I simply pose questions.
Okay. The question you posed was,
‘Can you love your neighbor
without loving yourself first?’
My question to you is... If love is such
a gift, isn't it selfish to give yourself
that gift before you give it to others?
San ponders this. The other sun sigil robed man scribbles something down on parchment. The other two onlookers listen with interest.
That is, indeed, a question, Gabrielle.
I don't know if I can answer it,
but I know our leader could.
Both robed men look at her with slight discomfort. The two onlookers also seem shocked.
Ah.... Yes, though we call
her Enlightened One,
or the One who hears.
Well, maybe I could
ask her the question.
The two men look at each other.
Shouldn't really take long.
We can see if the Enlightened One is
willing. But there is no way to know.
You could be disappointed.
One way to find out.
They get up, and the two robed men start to walk up the steps, leading Gabrielle towards the entrance to the temple.
EXT. HEDELON CITY DOCKYARDS - LATE AFTERNOON
Xena and the merchant sneak along an alleyway near the dockyards. As they reach the corner, the merchant stops and presses against the wall. Xena does also.
Xena cautiously peers around the corner and looks. Near the end of the road is a large building with a wall around it. In the wall is a gate, and over the gate is the crowned sun sigil. There are guards at the gate, wearing tunics also bearing the sigil.
What is it?
That's where people who
disagree with the robes get taken.
Xena examines the structure.
How do you know?
The merchant looks momentarily discomfited. He shifts, and moves back a little from Xena, but doesn't leave.
I have a brother in there.
Xena watches as two men in robes approach the gate. They are greeted by the guards, who open the doors respectfully to them. They enter, and the gates are closed after them.
Why tell me all this?
The merchant chuckles softly.
Because I know who
you are, Xena.
Xena doesn't seem surprised. She watches the gates open again, and this time the two robed men emerge with a figure between them dressed in rags.
I know you're no
friend of the gods.
What makes you think
I'm a friend of yours?
The merchant takes another step back.
Let's just say I've heard stories.
In any case, you wanted to
see the truth. There it is.
The merchant turns and runs off down the alley, disappearing rapidly in a light cloud of dust.
Xena sighs and goes back to examining the building. After a moment she steps back and looks down at herself, spreading her arms out in question. She shakes her head, then moves around the corner and starts skulking towards the building, doing her best to be inconspicuous.
INT. HEDELON CITY MAIN TEMPLE - LATE AFTERNOON
Gabrielle walks with San and his friend through the temple. It is a stone building with plain, white walls and a meticulously clean floor.
On either side of the main corridor there are chambers. Gabrielle looks inside one as they pass and sees several robed bodies, male and female, sitting on woven mats on the ground studying parchments.
There are torches set in the walls, but the atmosphere is one of austerity and frugality. Gabrielle reaches out to touch one of the walls as she walks. She draws her hand back in and finds not even a smudge of dust on her fingers.
How long have you been here?
San turns, surprised at the question.
Myself? Three moons only.
What about everyone else?
Ah. Two harvests, I think.
Is that right, Temis?
Gabrielle looks up at the building.
I think so. This place used to be a
nobleman's palace. The Enlightened One
gave the nobleman the message, and
he turned it over to her to use in her works.
Ah. I see.
They walk on, passing room after room. Most are empty and silent. Some are occupied with meditating people. All appear clean and almost sterile.
They walk up a flight of steps. At the top of the steps are a pair of ornate doors, heavily carved and hammered with gold and silver. It is the only sign of wealth so far.
That is the place where we hear
the messages she gives to us.
Gabrielle follows them up the steps. At the top of the stairs, San opens the big door and they step through it.
EXT. HEDELON CITY DOCKYARD ROOFTOP - SAME TIME
A rooftop overlooks the temple building. A pair of hands suddenly wraps themselves around the edge of the roof, and immediately thereafter, Xena vaults up and over the edge and lands on the top of the roof with a thump. She dusts her hands off and goes to the far edge, kneeling down and peering over at the temple.
The building she is on is higher than the walls, and she can now see over them. She shades her eyes, and watches as a group of men in rags stand near the inside of the wall, all busy working on various tasks.
Standing watch over them are guards with sigil marked tunics. The working men are in ragged clothing, and appear thin. One turns to point at a well in one corner of the yard, but the guards gesture angrily at him, and he goes back to working.
Guess they get their dinars
one way or the other.
Xena climbs up onto the edge of the roof and pauses, then throws herself into space towards the next roof, this one much closer to the temple building.
She lands and crawls over to the other edge, peering over cautiously at the walls just on the other side.
A guard looks up, and she ducks, listening for an alarm.
It remains quiet. Slowly, she lifts her head back up and peeks over. The guards have gone back to watching the road heading in to the gates.
Xena waits a few more seconds. Then she climbs up onto the low wall around this roof, and balances there, readying herself to leap onto the wall.
The guards suddenly turn and start in her direction. Xena makes an instant decision and leaps over their heads as they run to the doorway of the building she'd been standing on. She lands on the wall as they reach the door and start banging on it.
Xena runs along the top of the wall, then jumps off it into the inner courtyard.
INT. HEDELON CITY MAIN TEMPLE - INNER CHAMBER
Gabrielle waits alone in a small chamber just inside the main temple area. Like the rest of the building, this chamber is plain and austere, though there is a woven mat on the stone floor and several wooden chairs.
Gabrielle looks up at a mosaic on the wall. It is made of earthly ceramic tiles, and it outlines the crowned sun sigil with a set of wavy lines under it.
The inner door opens and Gabrielle turns, but it is a young girl in a simple robe that enters. The girl seems as surprised to see Gabrielle as Gabrielle is to see her.
Oh! I'm sorry. I didn't realize
anyone was in here.
It's all right.
Are you waiting to see the Enlightened
One? I think she's meditating.
Yes, I am. Do you live here?
The girl approaches her, apparently reassured. She is in her early teens, thin, with hair almost the same color as Gabrielle's.
I do. I used to live in the streets
here, but the Enlightened One found
me, and taught me the words.
Do you like being a part of all this?
The girl looks at Gabrielle strangely.
Wouldn't you? That's why
you're here, isn't it?
Voices suddenly sound in the inner room. The girl turns, rushing back to the door as the voices approach.
Gabrielle stands quietly, folding her arms across her chest.
Several voices are now audible, though the words are not entirely clear. The young girl pulls the door open and now the voices become clearer.
Enlightened One, just one
more question, please....
Eldren, please, the
visitor is waiting.
You shouldn't be bringing
outsiders in here like that, San!
What were you thinking??
A crowd of people burst into the room, Eve in their center. Gabrielle stays still, watching intently. The people around Eve talk at the same time, surrounding her with a buzz of sound and chaos. Eve wears a set of plain robes without an insignia of any kind.
Anyone with a question is
welcome, you told me. I
thought the goal was to....
Yes, but we all have questions.
There is only so much time in a day!
Enlightened One, your schedule....
Did you get a new message,
Enlightened One? I thought
you said you....
In all the noise and activity, Eve suddenly looks up and past them across the room. Her eyes meet Gabrielle's.
The babbling fades to silence, and everyone looks at Eve, then, uncertainly, they turn to look at Gabrielle.
With that question,
I should have known.
END OF ACT ONE