|Episode Guide||Teaser||Act 1||Act 2||Act 3||Act 4|
EXT. SWAMP - SAME TIME
Gabrielle is pacing, and muttering under her breath.
There are just some days it doesn’t
pay to get out of bed in the morning.
She runs her hands through her hair, distraught.
C’mon, Gabrielle. Think. There
has to be an explanation for
all this, and a way to fix it.
EXT. UNDISCLOSED LOCATION - DAY
Xena sits up and looks around, disconcerted. Everything has a familiarity, but at the same time, it feels completely foreign.
She has been here before, but when? If she could place the time, she might be able to place the location. She wonders why she is suddenly aching.
The ring has fallen from her grasp and is lying neatly beside her on the ground. She looks at it disdainfully.
Why do I get the feeling *you*
are probably responsible for
whatever is going on here?
Pulling the dagger from between her breasts, she retrieves the ring from the ground and drops it in her pouch. Then she straightens and takes another good look around.
She is in some sort of meadow. There are trees in the distance and the sounds of birds and wildlife, but the place seems relatively uninhabited otherwise. It looks nothing like the swamp she clearly remembers being in before.
Well, let’s go see if we can
find Gabrielle. Or at least
figure out where we are.
Xena looks again, and notices a break in the tree line. She chooses that as a direction and begins a slow jog towards what appears to be a heavily trafficked road.
EXT. SWAMP - LATE AFTERNOON
Gabrielle is making her way slowly out of the swamp. It is growing increasingly darker, and it is slowing her down. It helps that she is following the path they made coming in, but it is still treacherous.
Damn, Xena! Couldn’t it
be easy for a change?
She steps from the swamp with a sigh of relief, and shakes the mud from her boots, turning towards the temple.
Let’s see of we can
find some answers.
EXT. CITY - DAY
Xena recognizes the city. It is the same as she remembers it, and yet different too.
It is walled and the parts that are visible are scrupulously neat. A smell wafts downwind causing Xena’s nose to crinkle in distaste. Apparently the not-so-well-to-do areas exist out of sight.
The banners flying look all too familiar, and she shudders with the chill that runs up her spine. This is not the Greece she knows.
She hears travelers approaching, and instinctively ducks out of sight.
It is a royal caravan. It flies the same banners that flutter above the city walls. There are six guards dressed in royal livery riding fore and aft of a finely crafted carriage. It stops and a personage emerges. Xena stares.
It is herself, yet not. The beautiful blue robes are silk from Chin, and the golden phoenix headpiece identifies her as a ruler of some sort. A page announces her as she approaches the dais.
All hail the Conqueror!
Hail, Xena! Conqueror of Nations!
INT. ARGOS TEMPLE - EARLY EVENING
It is quite dark inside the temple, and Gabrielle has had to light several torches left in the few remaining walls. She carries one with her as well.
Gabrielle is standing at the altar looking for a second tablet. The men are gone, though one did leave a bit of skin and blood behind when he loosened himself from the vice. She crinkles her nose up slightly in disgust.
There has to be something else...
something I missed the first time.
She slowly walks around the altar area, occasionally running her fingers over the walls. She is looking for a second hidden trigger.
You’d think they’d have gotten
tired of the games eventually.
She pushes against the wall, hoping something will give. A step on a corner tile causes it to drop slightly and she just shakes her head.
No, I guess not.
She watches as a panel in what remains of the wall groans and shifts. Picking the rod from the floor where she dropped it earlier, she carefully prods the area. Nothing snaps or hisses or crawls out, but a small parchment falls to the floor. Gabrielle looks at it speculatively.
EXT. CORINTH - DAY
The population of Corinth is turned out for judgment day. The smell of fear is choking, and it is deathly silent except when the conqueror speaks.
Xena has “borrowed” a cloak to hide her identity and watches as her doppelganger doles out judgments. Xena’s jaw tightens with each passing sentence. The cold deadness of the Conqueror’s blue eyes astounds her. The fact that the people around her accept the severity without question is simply unnerving.
This is what it is to have everything?
Cold... calculating... heartless??
This is wrong. This is not how
things are supposed to be.
She has slowly been making her way around the edges of the crowd, and is now standing very close to the temple.
The edifice is quite imposing. Clean lines and very well kept. Apparently the gods here have not suffered the Twilight.
Time to see if we can
get some answers.
INT. CORINTH TEMPLE - DAY
A majority of this temple is reserved for Ares, but there is a small space partitioned off for the other gods. Xena makes her way into that alcove. She looks around with interest.
The sole priest for this area looks up in surprise at the hooded figure.
She walks over to stand next to the man, keeping her hood firmly in place.
What can you tell me
about the Ring of Zeus?
The priest grabs her by the arm and hisses at her in a harsh whisper.
How do you know about that?
Such things are not spoken
of in the Conqueror’s city!!
She jerks her arm from his grasp, resisting the urge to backhand him into next week.
NO!! She is powerful enough.
The Conqueror does not need
the key to ultimate power.
She doesn’t have it?
The priest is vehement in his protestations
NO! Life would be unbearable then.
It is hard enough to live with what
she does as Ares Chosen. She
gave up her heart to be where she is.
The ring would take her soul.
What if mortal hands obtain it?
The man shakes his head.
It would be best for the
world if it were destroyed.
Why am I sensing a ‘but’ here
that I’m just not gonna like?
Because there is no way to destroy it.
The best we can hope for is to keep it
hidden and away from human hands.
He pushes her from the alcove.
You must go now, and
NEVER speak of it again.
The priest leads her to the door and watches her exit. Then he goes back to the alcove and kneels in prayer.
Xena steps from the darkness of the temple into the sudden brightness of day. She blinks against the harsh light, then again as she witnesses the scene playing out before her.
INT. ARGOS TEMPLE - EARLY EVENING
Gabrielle is sitting on the dais steps, holding her head in her hands.
The parchment rests in her lap while she rereads it yet again, trying to make sense of what she is seeing.
The Cronos stone?
She slaps her hands on her thighs and stands, catching the scroll as it falls. She walks to the front of the altar.
Well, let’s see what we
can do to fix this.
EXT. CORINTH - AFTERNOON
Judgment is continuing, and Xena cringes as she sees a familiar form step up to the dais defiantly.
NO! No, Gabrielle!!
She watches as her partner’s doppelganger makes a stand against the Conqueror. She is torn between the need to intervene and the knowledge that the only way to make things right is to get back home.
The Conqueror didn’t just give up
her heart... she... *I* would have given
up my soul had I followed this path.
And how many more lives would that
have destroyed... my own included?
She watches Rebel Gabrielle being placed on the cross to be crucified. Then she sees the Conqueror call for her legs to be broken and flinches.
No one should have this much power.
Especially someone as evil as I am here.
I need to make things right. But first....
Xena reaches for her chakram, but is not quick enough to rescue Rebel Gabrielle before her legs are broken. Rebel Gabrielle screams in agony, and the tears flow silently down Xena’s face.
I will fix this, my bard. I’ll make things
right for you here before I go home.
Xena turns and moves back toward the temple, knowing she can accomplish nothing til the sun sets. She needs to speak to the priest again.
INT. ARGOS TEMPLE – EARLY EVENING
Gabrielle has searched the temple quite thoroughly and has started a small fire. She moves back into a hidden alcove, and we hear the sound of running water.
She closes her eyes for a moment.
Then they pop back open abruptly, and she shudders, fear etched into the lines of her face. She grabs herself in a tight hug and whispers....
Xena, be careful, please?
END OF ACT FOUR
To be continued….