|Episode Guide||Teaser||Act 1||Act 2||Act 3||Act 4|
EXT. CORINTH HILLSIDE - CROSS - SUNSET
The priests from the temple walk along the rows of crosses, reverently releasing the dead, and placing them into the wagon that accompanies them. The soldiers stationed on duty here pay them little mind, and do not notice the new acolyte. Their job is simply to insure that the populace does not attempt to rescue anyone.
Row by row they go, until reaching the last where those who were just judged still hang. Moaning can be heard coming from several victims, and the soldiers laugh derisively.
I donít think theyíve been here
long enough to die, old man.
Nonetheless, it is my
sacred duty to check.
The soldier looks at him for a long moment and nods. It is the same conversation they have had countless times before. He waves a hand at the priest, even as he walks away.
Whatever makes you happy, old
man. It makes no difference to
me... or to the Conqueror.
The priest continues his work and when he reaches Rebel Gabrielle, he nods to Xena.
She is still alive. She has
a very strong spirit.
Xena moves a ladder into place and cuts the ropes that hold Gabrielle in place. Gabrielle moans at the movement even though she is unconscious. The soldier glances at them, and gets up, walking back over to them.
Let me check her. I know the
Conqueror was pretty angry with her.
Unseen, Xena jabs a pressure point that stops Gabrielleís breathing. The man holds his fingers under her nose, unwilling to touch the dead body.
He smiles grimly and shakes his head, then sits down to resume his evening meal. Xena immediately undoes the pinch.
Youíd better be right about this
or it will mean the death of all of us.
Iím right. I just have to convince
the two of them of that.
INT. CORINTH TEMPLE - BACK ROOM - EVENING
This is a small back room, evidently part of the priestís living quarters. It is sparse but clean. There is a pallet made up on the floor, a small table that is holding an empty pitcher and cup, and a single chair and cot.
Rebel Gabrielle lies on the tiny cot still unconscious. Her legs are splinted and she appears to be naked beneath the light covering that is draw up over her.
Xena sits on the floor beside a basin of dirty water. The cloak rests on the chair nearby. Her hand lightly covers Gabrielleís and she is talking in quiet tones.
I know youíre not my Gabrielle, but
you are still the Gabrielle that I love.
She shakes her head ruefully.
It doesnít make much sense, but
itís the truth. You remind me a lot
of my Gabrielle when she was
younger. You have the same fire...
sheís just learned to temper hers.
Xena looks into the very young face of Rebel Gabrielle. She gently combs her fingers through the wavy long hair.
Of course, I think sheís had a lot more
years and a lot more practice at it as well.
A knock on the door interrupts Xenaís conversation with the still unconscious woman. Without releasing her hold on Gabrielleís hand, she opens the door.
The priest stands frozen for a moment. Xena raises her eyebrow at him.
You gonna stand there staring at me,
or are you gonna let me have that
clean water to finish bathing her?
Oh, gods. Sorry.
He extends the bowl to her, then accepts the bowl with the dirty water. He hesitates in the doorway.
I just cannot get over
So you keep saying. I plan to
make it work in my favor.
The priest looks ready to question her, then decides discretion is the better part of valor. With a shake of his head he exits the small room. Xena turns her attention back to Gabrielle, and begins to gently bathe her.
I hope my Gabrielle understands
this may take a day or two.
She finishes Gabrielleís bath, then stands and covers her with the sheet and light blanket the priest left earlier. She checks Gabrielleís forehead, smiling slightly and nodding approval at the lack of fever.
Another knock on the door causes her to frown and she opens it just slightly. The priest stands there with a fresh pitcher of water, and several packets of herbs.
I wasnít sure what
you needed, so....
He trails off, and she nods her head and accepts the supplies.
These will be fine, thanks.
She sets the things down on the table and he closes the door softly.
She steps over to her small pallet, noticing that she and Rebel Gabrielle are almost within touching distance the room is so tiny. She pulls off her sword and chakram, laying them to one side of her bed. She removes her boots and armor, placing them at the table with the cloak.
Then she lies down on the pallet and stretches out, almost groaning in the relief she feels in being able to relax just the slightest bit. She closes her eyes and reaches out towards her Gabrielle through their bond, hoping that time and distance will not hinder their ability to find and connect with one another.
INT. ARGOS TEMPLE - EVENING
Mere minutes have passed for Gabrielle, and she is just entering the beginning stages of her meditative trance. Suddenly her eyes open, and she looks around.
She realizes that she felt and lost Xena in the same moment. She slaps the ground in frustration, then picks up the water skin and takes a long drink. She scrubs her face, and closes her eyes again, consciously slowing her breathing.
All right, Gabrielle. Focus. You
did it once. You can do it again.
She begins to relax back into the meditative state she had reached before. Her breathing slows even farther, and soon the only sound we can hear is the crackle of the fire.
INT. CORINTH TEMPLE - BACK ROOM - NIGHT
Xena smiles briefly in a light doze before a whimpering sound jerks her awake. Startled, she sits up and looks at Rebel Gabrielle, who is stirring and moaning in pain. She moves to the table and sorts through the packets, placing small pinches from several in the cup until she is satisfied with the mixture.
She adds water and swirls it, then steps to the cot. Xena lifts Gabrielleís shoulders, places the cup to her lips, and she starts to drink. Her green eyes flutter open, then widen in startlement. Unsure whether to bolt, choke or scream, Gabrielle opts to close her eyes and deal with the unreality of her situation in the morning.
Xena sighs in relief, and she lowers Gabrielle back to the cot. It only takes a moment, and Gabrielleís breathing becomes deep and rhythmic. Xena pats her shoulder and moves back to her pallet.
Well, tomorrow should
be interesting, at any rate.
INT. CORINTH TEMPLE - BACK ROOM - DAWN
Xena stirs. The unfamiliarity of her surroundings and missing her Gabrielle makes sleep a futile exercise at best.
Rebel Gabrielle begins to waken at the same time, the pain making it impossible to rest. Xena steps to her side, sitting on the edge of the cot and placing her hands on Gabrielleís shoulders to keep her from moving too much.
Gabrielleís eyes open, and widen.
She draws a deep breath to yell, but Xena places a hand over her mouth.
Yeah, me. But Iím not who you think
I am. So cut me some slack and Iíll
try to explain it to you, all right?
Gabrielle looks into Xenaís eyes and sees compassion and caring where before there had been only cold arrogance and disdain. She relaxes slightly and nods her head.
Besides, youíre supposed to be
dead. Only the priest and I
know youíre here alive.
She removes her hand from Gabrielleís mouth. Xena snags the cup from the table and hands it to her.
Here. Drink this. Then we
can trade stories, Gabrielle.
Gabrielle looks at Xena suspiciously now.
What is this stuff?? How do you
know my name?? Who are you??
Plain water... no drugs until
weíre done talking. You need
to be coherent for this. Thatís
part of the long story.
And my name is Xena.
Gabrielleís eyebrows shoot up her forehead at the last answer, and she swallows the water in a single gulp.
I canít wait to hear this.
INT. CORINTH TEMPLE - BACK ROOM - MORNING
Rebel Gabrielle looks at Xena with something akin to bewilderment in her eyes.
Wait just a damn minute here.
Youíre joking, right?
No. Iím not the storyteller
in our partnership.
Iím a bard?
Yeah, you are. One of the
best there is actually.
Wow. I always wanted
to be a bard.
Xena pauses, remembering the slave Gabrielle she had seen when the Fates offered her a different life. Remembering the playwright Gabrielle sheíd met as the Empress of Rome when Caesar bound the Fates to change his destiny.
All right. Now you tell your side,
Ďcause I know there is more
going on that Iím not clued
into yet. Ares said as much.
What would you like to know?
Everything. But start with
how you know the Conqueror.
You donít waste any time, do you?
So Iíve been told.
A knock on the door interrupts them. Xena motions for quiet and goes to the door. The priest is standing on the other side with a trencher of food. Xena takes the tray from him.
How is she?
See for yourself.
She opens the door a little wider and he peeks into the room. He nods at Gabrielle and then looks at Xena.
I will be back later. Do you
still want to sneak into
the palace tonight?
Yes. The sooner I can take
care of things here, the
sooner I can go home.
He nods again, and she shuts the door behind him.
She sets the trencher on the table.
What would you like?
Gabrielleís jaw is clenched in pain, and she shakes her head mutely, biting back a groan.
Xena quickly sifts through the packages and mixes a couple herbs together in the cup. She hands the mixture to Gabrielle, who hesitantly reaches for it.
Itís just something to take the
edge off the pain. Iím sorry the
pressure points arenít helping you
as much as I hoped they would.
Gabrielle swallows the concoction down without even a grimace at its taste.
They were fine until I
tried to move. Bad idea.
Xena puts a bit of bread, butter and cheese together, and hands it to Gabrielle. She accepts it, and begins taking tiny bites. Xena sees her start to relax, and watches her while eating her own breakfast.
You think youíre
okay to talk now?
Yeah. Iíll just lay here and
not move while I do it.
Gabrielle takes another bite of her breakfast while she considers her story. Xena waits patiently, having seen this process in her Gabrielle before. She knows when Gabrielle nods to herself, she will be ready to talk.
Several months ago, a call went out
through the city for scribes. I was
a scribe here in the temple, so I
had no choice in the matter.
I couldnít NOT go. So I went.
She shrugs her shoulders and Xena nods understanding.
I was assigned to do some personal
writing for Xe... I mean, the Conqueror.
It was sporadic, though, and I was allowed
to keep my position as a temple scribe.
She stops to clear her throat, and Xena hands her another cup of water.
Thanks. Uh, so I would go to the palace
whenever I was called, which was less
at first, but increasingly more often as
time wore on. Slowly, she began to open
up to me, just the slightest little bit... until
she seemed... almost... human. I thought
we were becoming... friends.
She snorts softly and hangs her head.
I guess I was wrong.
Xena turns back to the table sheís been leaning against and begins mixing another dose of medicine.
I donít think you were.
Huh? Look, Xe... um, Xena, I donít
know how friendship works where you
come from, but thatís not how friends
treat one another here. We stand
by each other. We donít crucify them.
Wait. Let me explain it another way.
Gabrielle waits, her arms folded across her chest.
All right. Iím listening.
Xena finishes stirring the medicine, and sets the preparation on the table. Then she begins to pace the two steps between the table and the door. She takes a deep breath and glances at Gabrielle, then turns her attention to the floor.
Do you know the story of
how soulmates were created?
Yes, of course.
Do you believe it?
Do you believe in the
possibility of soulmates?
I... I... I donít know. Iím not sure I
ever really considered the possibility.
What if I told you that they are
more than a possibility? Would you
believe me if I told you they were real?
Gabrielle stares hard into Xenaís eyes, finding a truth there she never expected to see.
You make me want to
believe it, but....
But itís hard isnít it? Even
for you, here in this place.
The truth is, I think you scared
the Conqueror, and she reacted.
Ares put an idea in her mind, and
her fear convinced her it was true.
And now you suffer because if it.
Gabrielle sits silently, wondering at the relativity of the two conversations and pondering Xenaís words.
Ares told her she would lose
everything if she let you stay around.
She dismissed you from
her service, didnít she?
She waits for Gabrielle to reluctantly nod her agreement.
So when you showed up yesterday
speaking out against her, she reacted
exactly the way sheís always done...
harshly and without apparent remorse.
Xena lifts the cup to her lips before the pungent medicinal scent reaches her nose. She sets it down and lifts the water skin instead, taking a long draught.
I saw her face when she left the square.
You got to her, and she has no idea how
to handle someone being that close.
No one has been that far inside since Ly...
Lyceus died. I can accept that, as far as
it goes, but how did I scare her? I never....
Because, you are soulmates. And that
possibility scares the life out of her.
Gabrielle smiles just a little at the tone in Xenaís voice.
You sound like you speak from experience.
I do. And it is at the same time the
most wonderfully fulfilling and
terrifying experience I have ever faced.
So you think Xe... the Conqueror
and I may be soulmates?
I think it is a real possibility. It explains
a lot... especially why Ares needs you gone.
Gabrielle looks her question at Xena.
Ares knows you are the balance to
the darkness she maintains. If you
are out of the picture, she is his.
But, if you are a part of her life....
I can see that I guess. But I donít have
to like it or pretend to understand it.
No, but I think I may know a way
to fix it... to give you a chance
to become friends at least.
She sighs silently, and makes intense eye contact with Gabrielle.
The question is... do
you want me to try?
EXT. CORINTH MARKETPLACE - AFTERNOON
The market place is very colorful and busy, but surprisingly quiet. Vendors do not hawk their wares, and business is transacted almost solemnly. The palace sits in stately grandeur at one end of the market, and a lone figure can be seen standing on a balcony overlooking the city.
Xena, wearing an acolyteís robe and hood, meanders slowly through the shopping area. She consults her lists and makes the occasional purchase, but this exercise is mostly to give her a layout of the grounds surrounding the palace. Sheís inordinately pleased with the well thought out security the conqueror has arranged, even as she makes her plans to get around it later.
EXT. CORINTH TEMPLE STEPS - LATE AFTERNOON
The priest is waiting on the steps as Xena approaches. She continues up the steps and into the building as he accompanies her through the smaller atrium area.
How is Gabrielle?
Resting. How did your
Very well. I....
She stops speaking and straightens. Aresí priest and four guards step from behind the divider wall.
So the Conqueror was right. We
do have a traitor here. Get them!!
END OF ACT ONE