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EXT. COASTAL TOWN - AFTERNOON
As coastal towns go, this one is pretty representative of its breed. The commingled scents of saltwater and gently rotting fish permeate the place. The wooden buildings are worn and warped and dull from the continuous wind and salt spray, but they seem in good repair for all the stress.
Coming by way of the main costal road, Xena and Gabrielle pass through large groups of sailors loading their heavy catches onto the docks, and past the long line of merchant ships unloading bright wares onto those same docks. The mood is loud and roughly-good-natured, but because they are women, they get their fair share of cat-calls and whistles from sex-starved sailors. They roundly ignore all of them as they push past the teeming tide of unwashed humanity looking for an inn.
The first one they come to is a seedy little dive with the charming name of The Third Leg. As they approach, the levered doors swing open and an obviously drunken sailor is tossed out into the mud.
From his ground level view, he spies two pairs of boots directly ahead, and allows his gaze to travel up two pairs of shapely legs, one set quite a bit longer than the other, then over two fabulous bodies. Completely missing twin icy stares directed his way, he jumps to his feet and brushes his hands off on his filthy gray pants, trying his best smile out for size. The fact that the two remaining teeth in his mouth have been reduced to blackened stumps makes the effect a less than attractive one.
Hello, la <hic> la <hic> ladies!
You look like a coupla fun <hic>
gals! Howsabout a drink?
Xena and Gabrielle bend back at the waist, fanning the air in front of their faces free of the toxic fumes of his breath.
Thanks, but... We’ll pass on
that offer. Tempting as it sounds.
Awww, c’mon! Jes one?
Reaching out, the sailor clamps a hand around Xena’s bracer. Xena freezes. Looks down at his hand. Looks up at him.
The sailor’s grin widens.
Xena bares her teeth. She’s not smiling.
The sailor’s smile fades. He releases Xena’s arm and takes a careful, wobbly, step back.
Then he notices Gabrielle again, and his smile reappears.
How ‘bout you, ho <hic>
honey? We could have a
good <hic> time, you an’ me.
Not for all the dinars in Greece.
Oh, come on baby! Jes one.
Then you an’ me can get better
ac <hic> ac <hic> familiar.
Stepping away from the man’s reach, Gabrielle grabs him by the front of his dirty jersey and jerks him forward.
I am not your gal, I am not
your honey, and I am certainly
not your baby. Now buy a
clue from the merchant
train and go away.
He tries another grab, which Gabrielle adroitly slips, and he winds up off balance and face to chest with the Warrior Princess.
Xena plucks him away from her breastplate by the back of his shirt and stares down into his beady brown eyes.
She emphasizes her command with a slight push, and the sailor stumbles away.
Guess we can cross this
inn off our list, huh?
Gabrielle just gives her a look.
EXT. COASTAL TOWN - AFTERNOON
Xena and Gabrielle move further into the town. The pickings are pretty slim. The inns that aren’t seedy are full, and the ones that aren’t full are little better than rat-traps filled with drunken, sometimes violent sailors fresh from the sea.
Xena can tell by the slight slump to Gabrielle’s shoulders that she is becoming more and more dejected. Just as she is about to suggest giving up and trying another town further up the coast, they cross into a section of town that is clean and clearly affluent.
Xena looks. Before her is a large, clean, well-made inn bearing the name The Headman’s Inn. Looking like a temple to the Olympian gods, it is made almost entirely of marble. Large Corinthian columns stretch from ground to roof. Large balconies dot the façade on all sides.
To the right of the large, blue front door, a rather rotund man stands dressed in a costume strange to Xena’s eyes. Deep navy pants are topped by some sort of matching coat that sports thick gold threadwork and matching tassels than hang from his shoulders. On his head is perched a blue, billed cap of a type Xena has never seen.
He smiles at her and touches white-gloved fingers to the shining bill of his cap, then turns away to speak to a young, well-dressed couple who approaches him.
Shifting her attention away from the strangely dressed man, Xena looks to the right of the large structure where a patio made from crushed stones of every hue holds a dozen or so small tables, each covered with fine linen. Each table is occupied by elegantly attired men and women who eat and drink of food that, by its very scent, must be second only to ambrosia in taste and quality.
Off to one side of the patio, a young, blonde woman clad in a flowing white gown plays a harp softly and with expert skill.
As Xena looks on, she knows that even one night in this fine establishment is well beyond their means. Gabrielle hadn’t been joking with the bandit earlier, when she had told him that he had chosen the wrong camp to loot. Living a mostly vagabond existence gives them little in the way of funds for necessities, let alone the luxury this Inn represents.
With a soft sigh, she shifts her gaze to Argo’s saddlebag, where the very tip of an exquisite bone-handled knife protrudes. It has taken her several months to carve the intricate details of a mermaid into the hilt to her satisfaction, and she had hoped, at the very least, to trade the weapon for new tack for Argo, and perhaps new boots for them both. Such a move she knows would be eminently practical.
One look at Gabrielle’s shining face as she watches the diners, however, and practicality goes out the proverbial window. To see and keep that look on Gabrielle’s face, Xena would gladly sell everything she owned. Reaching into the saddle, she pulls out the knife and wraps it in a soft, black cloth. She then lays a gentle hand on Gabrielle’s shoulder, distracting her from her reverie.
Gabrielle turns, smiling.
You ready to go inside?
Get a place for the night?
The smile fades.
could ever afford to stay in
a place like this. It sure
is pretty to look at, though.
You never know.
Let’s give it a try, hmm?
After a moment, Gabrielle nods, and the two walk hand in hand toward the door. The strangely attired man gives them a smile, a short bow, and a tip of the cap before reaching for the door’s heavy brass knob and opening it for them.
My pleasure, my lady. Have
a wonderful stay with us.
INT. HEADMAN’S INN - AFTERNOON
The Inn’s interior décor is one of understated elegance. Subdued tapestries line the walls. The marble floors are covered here and there with exotic rugs from the East. Flowering plants and tall, leafy trees give a sense of the outdoors indoors.
From behind a long, dark-wood desk, a nattily dressed man looks up at their entrance and smiles.
Good afternoon, ladies.
How may I help you?
We’d like a room.
Well you’ve certainly come to the right
place then! We have several rooms
available. Each comes with a large,
down bed, a balcony, a Roman bath,
and all the amenities. Morning and
evening meals are, of course, included.
The man’s smile broadens.
Only thirty dinars.
It’s all right, Gabrielle.
Lifting the covered knife, Xena is only stopped by a voice that sounds behind her.
On the house, Milenteus.
These women are our guests.
Xena turns slowly, pinning the speaker with her eyes. He is a handsome, middle-aged man dressed with the same understated elegance that is present in the hotel. He smiles. It is a warm expression that reaches his eyes, chasing something darker, sadder, away. Standing, he bows to them both.
Welcome to The Headman’s
Inn, Xena and Gabrielle.
Xena’s eyes narrow.
We don’t take charity
The man spreads his hands wide.
No charity intended, Xena. This
world of ours has far too few
true heroes. Those there
are should be honored.
Xena continues to stare at him, her disbelief and suspicion plain.
Who are you and
what do you want?
His smile still firmly in place, the man approaches slowly. There is nothing but warmth emanating from him.
I am Andros, the Headman of
this town. And this is my Inn, aptly
if unimaginatively named. And
what I would like is for the two
of you to stay here, as my guests.
Please. Stay the night at least.
Xena still looks suspicious, but Gabrielle decides to take the man at his word. Smiling, she steps forward and clasps his hand.
Thank you, Andros. I
think we’ll take you up
on your generous offer.
Andros shakes her hand warmly, smiling broadly.
Thank you, Gabrielle, for
honoring us with your presence
here. If you’ll allow me, I
will show you to your rooms.
Gabrielle looks to Xena who finally, reluctantly nods.
Good! If you’ll follow me?
INT. INN ROOM - AFTERNOON
The door closes quietly behind Andros’ retreating form, leaving Xena and Gabrielle alone in the large, well-appointed room. Gabrielle turns in a slow circle, her face bright with wonder and contentment.
Would you look at this place,
Xena? It’s got everything!
Walking over to the bed, she runs a hand along the silken sheets, grinning like a madwoman.
Oh yeah. I’m gonna
We’re in a room most kings
would kill to have, and the best
you can say about it is ‘Mm’?
Xena gives her a look, which she returns. Doubled.
Fine. You can grump around
all you want. I’ve got a
Roman tub calling my name.
Walking to the tub, she goes to her knees and places the marble plug into the drain. Then, shifting the lever that covers the spout, she moves slightly away as steaming water enters into the deep, tiled bath. Several jars of bath salts sit along the rim, and she opens each one, taking an appreciative sniff, until she finds the one she likes, and adds it to the water. The steam becomes fragrant with the scent of jasmine, and she inhales deeply, then sighs in pleasure.
Now this is living.
Coming back to her feet, she quickly divests herself of her clothing, then steps slowly into the deep tub, groaning in appreciation as the warm water soothes her tired muscles. Lowering herself onto a bench on the far side of the bath, she looks across the water at her partner, who is looking out the balcony door, her spine stiff, shoulders tense. She sighs.
Xena, can you just leave
whatever’s worrying you at
the door for a few minutes
and enjoy the bath with me?
I don’t think we’re in any
immediate danger, do you?
Xena turns to look at her, then shrugs and walks to the bath. As Gabrielle looks on in appreciation, Xena strips off her armor and clothing, and steps down into the water.
As Xena approaches, Gabrielle puts her hands on her partner’s hips, turns her so she is facing away, then urges her to sit between her legs. Then reaching up, she begins to knead the tense muscles in Xena’s shoulders.
Now, do you want to tell me
why you’re one big knot?
Silent for a moment, and truly enjoying the massage, Xena finally speaks.
Andros? Xena, he’s one
of the nicest people
we’ve met in a long time.
That’s what’s bothering me.
Xena, that doesn’t make
sense... even for you.
Xena gives her a look over her shoulder, then turns back away.
I don’t trust him. There’s
something he’s not telling
us. I can see it in his eyes.
Well, that’s easy to fix. When
we go down for dinner, you just
use a little “Warrior Princess”
persuasion, and bam!
No more secrets.
That gets a reluctant chuckle from the Warrior Princess in question.
Now c’mon. Relax.
Grinning, Gabrielle moves her head until her lips are right next to Xena’s ear. Her hands disappear beneath the water.
Are you sure?
Gabrielle laughs softly.
That’s what I thought.
END OF ACT ONE