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The Amulet of Deception

by Sherrie Johnson (a.k.a. TrueBlue)

Fade in.

It is early morning at Xena and Gabrielle's campsite. Xena is washing her face in a bowl of water. We see a ruffian (Ruffian #1) stepping into the campsite. Xena spins around and from her point of view (p.o.v.) we see the ruffian as Gabrielle. The phony Gabrielle, who is wearing a gold amulet around her neck, freezes. Xena leans back over her bowl of water.

Xena: (laughs) "You startled me. You didn't sound like you. Could you hand me that towel".

We see the towel being handed to Xena.

Xena: (leaning over the bowl and drying her face) "What are you going to do with that club?"

WHACK! Xena is knocked unconscious. Cut to black.

Cut to a few minutes later. Gabrielle walks into the campsite carrying a bowl of berries. From Gabrielle's p.o.v. we see Xena and a strange man (Ruffian #2) tearing apart the campsite.

Gabrielle: "Xena. What's going on? Who's he?"

From Gabrielle's p.o.v. we see Xena, wearing a gold amulet, pick up a rope and walk up to Gabrielle.

Cut to a shot of the real Xena gagged and tied to a tree. She groggily opens her eyes and sees Attaminious (the villain in "Mortal Beloved") approaching Gabrielle. She yells through her gag.

Gabrielle looks toward the noise and sees the real Xena tied to the tree. Gabrielle is confused and frightened. She looks back to the phony Xena who is approaching her. That Xena melts into Thercitees (the assassin in "A Fistful of Dinars") but it is too late. The villain is upon Gabrielle and quickly overpowers her.

Ruffian #2: "Lets go. They don't have any money except for the few coins you found."

Ruffian #1 ties Gabrielle's hands in front of her and shoves her over to Ruffian #2.

Ruffian #1: "You can have this one. I got the last one. I'll meet you back at the village in an hour. You think you can handle her?".

Ruffian #2: (smiling) "I know just what I'm gonna' do with her" (Ruffian #1 departs).

Ruffian #2: (drawing a knife on Gabrielle) "You sure are a sweet, pretty, little thing".

Gabrielle: "Flattery will get you no where dog breath!"

Ruffian #2: "Well, pretty and little anyway". (Ruffian #2 knocks Gabrielle to the ground and jumps on top of her. As Xena watches he slices the collar open on Gabrielle's shirt exposing her shoulders.

Gabrielle: (pleadingly) "Xena?!"

Xena is going nuts trying to get free from the ropes that hold her. Ruffian #2 is kissing the struggling and crying Gabrielle, threatening her with the knife. He strikes her hard across the face with the hilt of the blade. Repeated camera shots of Xena show her watching helplessly and in horror, lurching against the ropes and struggling like mad.

Ruffian #2: "I'm gonna' enjoy this!"

He puts his knife down to reach into his pants. Like a snake strike Gabrielle, with her hands still bound in front of her, jabs her thumbs into her attacker's eyes. He howls and jumps back, hands over face. Gabrielle grabs the club that was used on Xena and bashes him over the head with it. Ruffian #2 falls unconscious. Gabrielle takes the knife and awkwardly slices off the bonds from her wrists. She then cuts the ropes that hold Xena. Eyeing the blood that drips from Gabrielle's lip and her tear stained face, Xena grabs the knife and yanks off her gag and ropes. Gabrielle runs to the edge of the campsite to peer into the forest in an attempt to spot Ruffian #1. Meanwhile, Xena grabs the wash bowl and throws the water on Ruffian #2's face. He groggily comes too. Xena, in a terrible rage, grabs him by the hair and hauls him to his feet. Standing behind him she growls:

Xena: "I'm gonna' enjoy this!"

Ruffian #2: "Please..." (His last words as Gabrielle turns to see Xena slice his throat open).

Gabrielle screams.

Fade out to commercial.

Fade in.

Ruffian #2 slips out of Xena's arms and collapses on the ground, dead. Gabrielle looks completely shocked. Xena turns away. Gabrielle turns away as well and buries her face in her hands. Xena throws the knife down and kneels to wipe the blood off of her hands on her victim's clothes. Gabrielle starts to cry. Xena hesitates, angry at first, and then walks over to Gabrielle and puts her hands on Gabrielle's shoulders. Gabrielle tears herself away from Xena.

Gabrielle: "NO!" (she takes a few steps away, pauses, and then turns to run into Xena's arms and bury her face in Xena's shoulder) "I...I...thought he was gonna' ...he..." (Gabrielle weeps).

Xena: (petting Gabrielle's head) "Shhh. It's all over now".

Gabrielle looks over at the body.

Gabrielle: (quietly, wiping her bloody lip) "What are you going to do now?"

Xena: (dabbing at Gabrielle's lip with the towel she picks up beside her) "I'm going to wait here until Attaminious, that murderer back from the dead...again, returns for this man".

Gabrielle: "Attaminious?" (turning to face Xena) "That was Thercitees, another murderer back from the dead....but first he was you".

Xena: "And why did you club me?"

Gabrielle: (confused) "I clubbed him" (pointing to the dead guy).

Xena: "Where's the amulet you were wearing?"

Gabrielle: "You mean the amulet you were wearing? And Thercitees was wearing...".

Xena: "And Attaminious was wearing" (Xena takes a beat) "They were all the same person".

Gabrielle: "Changing forms".

Xena: "More than that. I saw him as Attaminious at the same time you saw Thercitees" (Xena looks around the campsite). "Something's going on here and we're going to find out what".

Cut to several hours later. Ruffian #1 is walking down the road with the amulet around his neck. It is getting dark. He is mumbling things like, "an hour" and "its been much longer" and "better go get him". He passes a traveler who sits beside the road. From the travelers p.o.v. we see a beautiful young woman instead of the ruffian.

Traveler: (rushing up to Ruffian #1, smiling broadly) "Helena! You've come back to me!"

Ruffian #1: (from the traveler's p.o.v. the beautiful woman snarls at him and says in the ruffian's low, gravely voice) "And you're gonna' wish I stayed away".

Ruffian #1 slugs the traveler knocking him to the ground.

The traveler groggily shakes his head and looks up at the woman. From his p.o.v. we see the woman tuck the gold amulet that hangs around her neck into her shirt and she immediately dissolves into the Ruffian. The traveler passes out.

Fade out.

Fade in.

Ruffian #1 walks carefully into the campsite, now cleared except for the body of Ruffian #2 which lies under a blanket. Xena hides nearby, watching. Ruffian #1, with the amulet still tucked in his shirt, pulls the blanket back. He howls at the sight and Xena emerges into the clearing, sword drawn.

Ruffian #1: "Who killed my brother!"

Xena: "I did".

In a blind rage he attacks Xena but Xena defeats him.

Cut to Xena tying up Ruffian #1 and yanking the amulet out of his shirt.

Xena: "What is this"

Ruffian #1 won't talk.

Xena walks away with the amulet and toward Gabrielle. Xena and Gabrielle sit down on the forest floor and begin to examine the amulet.

Xena: "It must have some kind of charm. Whoever wears it takes on the appearance of someone familiar to the person looking at him" (she puts it on).

A beat while Gabrielle looks at Xena.

Gabrielle: "I still see you".

Xena: "Well, you expect to see me. Think of someone else. Think of that blond boy you saw in Verdi. The one you were afraid to talk to but have been taking about constantly ever since we left".

Gabrielle nods and closes her eyes. She opens them. From Gabrielle's p.o.v. we see Xena as a blond, smiling Adonis.

Gabrielle: (back to the shot of them both) "Wow! That's incredible! It's him! I's you! Here, let me try!"

Xena takes the amulet off and Gabrielle enthusiastically puts it on.

Gabrielle: (dreamily) "Now think of someone you'd like to make love to".

Xena closes her eyes for a beat. She opens them and from her p.o.v. we see Gabrielle smiling at her.

Xena: (cut back to the shot of them both) "Wait a minute, it didn't work. Let me try again" (Xena closes her eyes and opens them again, looking stunned).

Gabrielle: "Who do you see? Marcus?"

Xena: "Yeah, Marcus".

Xena takes the amulet back and walks over to Ruffian #1

Xena: "Where did you get this?"

Ruffian #1: (the secret is out. He decides to talk) "We took it from Brutis of Danopoli"

Xena: "The warlord?"

Ruffian #1: "The one and the same. And he's looking for it too."

Xena: "Where did Brutis get it".

Ruffian #1: "I don't know. The spoils from some conquest. My brother and I were soldiers for him. He assigned us to guard the amulet but he was behind in our pay so we decided to take the amulet and sell it. Then we found out what it could do." (Xena gets up and starts to walk away) "Brutis will kill you if he finds you with it".

Xena walks up to Gabrielle.

Xena: "We've got to find the rightful owner. We'll camp here again tonight and double back to Verdi in the morning. The oracle there may be able to help us".

Fade out.

Fade in.

Night at the campsite. A campfire dimly lights the clearing. Ruffian #2 is tied to a tree and Gabrielle is giving him water. Xena is sitting on a rock staring into the campfire. Gabrielle walks over and sits beside her.

Gabrielle: "Xena, I don't want to talk about what happened this morning. I just want to tell you that I still think that you are basically a good person. But there is some part of you...something inside that you need to control. And what ever it is, it really frightens me Xena. I don't ever want to see it again".

Off stage we hear the ruffian start to weep. Gabrielle goes over to him.

Ruffian #1: "I know he wasn't a good guy. But he was my brother. I loved him".

Gabrielle: "I know. I know you loved him" (she strokes his arm and attempts to comfort him).

Xena lays down on her bedroll with her back to Gabrielle and the ruffian. Close up of Xena as she listens to Ruffian #2 cry.

Fade out.

Fade in.

Daylight. Xena and Gabrielle walk along a forest road. Xena leads Argo who carries the dead Ruffian #2 across her back. Ruffian #1 is tied up and tethered to the horse and trails behind. Gabrielle "drops" her staff in front of Xena and Xena, wearing the amulet, bends over to pick it up. From Gab's p.o.v. we see the beautiful boy's butt as he bends over to pick up the staff. (Return to the shot of them both) Gabrielle eyes Xena's backside and Xena straightens to hand Gabrielle her staff.

Xena: (noticing Gabrielle's goofy smile) "I'm that boy again aren't I?"

Gabrielle giggles. Xena sighs and starts walking again.

Xena: "You know we're going back to that town and you might see him again".

Gabrielle: "Ya' think?"

Xena: "Um hum. And if we do you should talk to him this time".

Gabrielle: (blushing) "I couldn't. I wouldn't know what to say".

Xena: "Well, I look just like him right?"

Gabrielle: (eyeing Xena hungrily) "Yep".

Xena: "So, practice on me".

Gabrielle: (gamely) "Okay" (she steps in front of Xena and they stop)

Xena: "Just let your natural wit and charm shine through".

Gabrielle: "I couldn't help but notice that" (Xena rolls her eyes) "Maybe you and I could go to dinner sometime".

Xena: "See, that wasn't too bad. Try to be less shy".

Gabrielle: "Actually, we could skip dinner..." (she takes a step forward, Xena takes a step back) "Skip the small talk..." (Gabrielle steps forward, Xena steps back) "And get right down to..." (Gabrielle backs Xena into the horse) "some serious kissing" (Xena raises an eyebrow and leans back as Gabrielle leans in).

Xena: "Okay, maybe a little more shy than that".

Xena spots a spring along the road. She takes the opportunity to extricate herself from between Gabrielle and the horse and hands Gabrielle the reins.

Xena: "I need a drink".

She quickly strides to the lake and kneels down to the water for a drink. She dips her hand in. From Xena's p.o.v. we see a black speeding blur in the water where her reflection should be. Startled, Xena draws her sword and lunges at it with a splash. Gabrielle stops.

Gabrielle: "Xena, what is it?"

Xena: (confused) "I thought I was nothing. Keep going".

Gabrielle shrugs and keeps walking. Xena peers into the lake but sees nothing in the rippling water. She takes off the amulet, tucks it into a pouch that hangs at her side and warily turns to follow Gabrielle.

Cut to Xena, Gabrielle, Argo and Ruffian #1 walking into Verdi. They immediately meet up with some soldiers at the village entrance.

Soldier #1: "We've been looking for these two. They've both been charged by the King for acts of rape, murder and robbery." (He pulls the blanket back that wraps Ruffian #2) "What happened to him?"

Xena: "He attacked our campsite and I killed him in defense". (Gabrielle darts a look at Xena).

Soldier: "This doesn't look like the type of wound usually inflicted in a defensive act." (A beat while Xena and the soldier watch each other carefully) "Still, the King had a bounty on their heads, dead or alive. Although they were worth more alive".

The soldier waves some men over. A couple of men take the prisoner and the body and another soldier begins to count out the bounty for Xena. Gabrielle worriedly watches Xena take the money.

Cut to Xena and Gabrielle as they walk through a busy day lit street market on their way to the oracle's temple. Once inside the candle lit temple Xena steps forward before the oracle.

Oracle: "Who are you".

Xena: "I am Xena".

Oracle: "You have something to show me".

Xena pulls out the amulet from her pouch.

Oracle: (grinning widely) "The Amulet of Deception! A marvelous prize!" (turning suddenly angry) "Get it out of here! Out of the temple!"

Xena steps back and hands the amulet to Gabrielle and directs her to wait outside. Gabrielle leaves.

Xena: "Is it evil?"

Oracle: "No, not evil, but powerful".

Xena: "Who does it belong to?"

Oracle: "It belongs to you, Xena".

Xena: "I don't want it. Who should I give it to? Who can keep it safe?"

Oracle: "Give it to the priests of Marharan. They will know what to do with it".

Xena bows her head in thanks and drops the bounty she received from the soldiers before the oracle. She begins to turn to leave. The oracle looks at the gold as it spills out of the bag.

Oracle: "Xena. One word of warning". (Xena turns to face the oracle) "As you know when viewed by another the wearer of the amulet becomes a deception but...when the wearer views his own reflection (a beat while Xena's gaze narrows) just as the mirror reverses left and right and makes things opposite, so the Amulet of Deception becomes its opposite, the Amulet of Truth. The wearer can see himself for the person...or thing...he really is; that essence which is his very core," (a beat) "Men have died of shock upon viewing themselves this way." (another beat). "Good-bye Xena". (close up of Xena).

Cut to outside the temple. Daylight. Gabrielle is sitting on the temple steps, looking bored. She watches the people at the various stands and she suddenly notices the blond, beautiful, young man she had visualized earlier.

Gabrielle: (picking up her courage) "This time I'm gonna' talk to him!"

She takes a couple of steps toward him. She sees him smile charmingly at a vender. She slinks back, defeated. Then, remembering she has the amulet, she pulls it out of her pocket and pops it on. Grinning, she strides toward the young man. A very large woman selling vegetables looks in Gabrielle's direction. From the woman's p.o.v. we see Gabrielle as a young man. The woman throws her hands up in the air and screams. She runs toward Gabrielle with her arms outstretched and Gabrielle takes a startled, defensive posture. The woman pulls Gabrielle into her very generous bosom crying something about her baby boy coming home for a visit. The Adonis looks toward the commotion and at Gabrielle. Gabrielle shrinks in embarrassment, unable to free herself of the woman's meaty arms.

Cut to Xena exiting the temple. There is a general melee as people run around shouting for others. Gabrielle flags Xena over behind a rack of clothes where she is hiding.

Gabrielle: "This amulet is dangerous" (pulling it out of her shirt to show it to Xena and then dropping it back in).

Xena: (surprised and somewhat angry) "You put it on with all of these people around?"

Gabrielle shrugs apologetically and turns to look at some of the clothes on the racks. The she looks at her own shirt that is stitched where it had been sliced apart. She picks out a shirt, pulls it over the one she is wearing and finds a mirror. Xena is distracted by crowd.

Gabrielle: (to herself) "This shirt is pretty".

She pulls the amulet out to see how it looks with the shirt.

Gabrielle: "What do you think of this shirt Xena?"

Xena turns and notices Gabrielle wearing the amulet and looking in the mirror.

Xena: "No!" (she jumps to Gabrielle's side)

Gabrielle: "What? You don't like it?" (she looks in the mirror again).

Xena: (a beat) "What do you see?"

Gabrielle: (confused, looking in the mirror) "I see me".

Xena: "Nothing else?"

Gabrielle: (slowly) "No. Just me in a new shirt".

Xena: (smiling) "Gabrielle. Sweet Gabrielle. No pretenses about you. You are who you appear to be"

Gabrielle seems to think Xena is acting strangely.

Gabrielle: "Well, as long as we're clear about that".

She takes off the amulet and hands it to Xena. Xena studies the amulet and then the mirror. She warily slips it on but then cannot bring herself to look at her reflection.

Gabrielle: "Xena?" (pause) "Xena are you okay?"

Xena: (shaking herself back to reality) "Yeah, I'm okay" (she pulls the amulet off, tucks it in her pouch and takes a last look in the mirror. Xena then turns and follows Gabrielle out of the camera shot.

Cut to Brutis the warlord who is in a tent. Someone is whispering something in his ear.

Brutis: "In Verdi? They were captured by a female warrior? She must have the amulet. Saddle my horse!"

Cut to the road leaving town as Xena and Gabrielle pass the soldiers they had met earlier. Cut to Brutis as he races off on his horse with his men. Cut back to Xena and Gabrielle as they walk along a road winding though country fields.

Cut to a shot of Brutis and his men as they enter Verdi. Brutis talks to the soldiers and Soldier #1 points in the direction Xena and Gabrielle were headed. Brutis and his men gallop off in that direction.

Cut to a while later on the road as Xena, leading Argo, and Gabrielle walk along. They are at the edge of a clearing as the road enters a forest. Behind them the road runs through some pastures and up a hill. Xena stops...and listens. At first she feels...then sees Brutis' army charging over the hill toward them.

Xena: "Get on Argo!" (Xena hoists Gabrielle onto the horse).

Gabrielle: "I can help..."

Xena: "There are too many of them! GO!!"

Xena slaps Argo's rear sending her racing into the forest. Xena turns to face the approaching army and draws her sword.

Fade to commercial.

Fade in.

Brutis' men attack and Xena takes several off of their horses with her sword. More men dismount and suddenly Xena has a dozen soldiers on top of her. We lose sight of Xena among all the men and their raised swords. And then...there is confusion among the men...their swords are lowered. The crowd that surrounded Xena parts and Xena is not to be seen.

Brutis: (from on top his horse) "What's wrong?"

Soldier #2: "She's disappeared!"

Brutis: (angrily) "Find her!"

The men scatter, most head into the woods.

Brutis peers at the men and suddenly has a revelation:

Brutis: "She's wearing the amulet! Look for the man wearing the amulet!"

The rest of the men run into the woods leaving Brutis on the road atop his horse... alone.

Cut to a little while later. One of Brutis' soldiers appears from the woods to say that they cannot find Xena. Brutis, on his horse, scoffs and angrily turns to thrash at a bush with his sword. He signals the men to follow and the soldier calls to the men to regroup. As Brutis gallops away past the bush we see the real Brutis gagged and bound underneath the bush and we see the Brutis on the horse wearing the amulet. Xena/Brutis disappears over the hill as the men assemble.

Cut to Gabrielle, without Argo, as she carefully sneaks through the forest looking for Xena. From Gabrielle's p.o.v. we see one of Brutis' soldiers jump out in front of her with his sword drawn. Gabrielle screams. Cut to a shot of Xena, who has appeared as the soldier to Gabrielle, as she steps toward Gabrielle. Gabrielle swings her staff at Xena. The first blow catches Xena hard in the stomach but the next couple of strikes Xena deflects with her sword. Xena disarms Gabrielle and pins her up against a tree.

Xena: "Gabrielle, it's me! Xena!" (Gabrielle stops struggling but stays defensive) "See? I'm wearing the amulet".

From Gabrielle's p.o.v. we look at the amulet, then up to the soldier's face. Still looking from Gabrielle's p.o.v. we see Gabrielle put her hands on the soldier's shoulders. She warily runs her hands down over the front of his chest.

Gabrielle: "It's amazing! I see a soldier but I feel you Xena" (her hands stop to rest on his stomach).

Cut to a shot of Gabrielle against the tree with her hands on Xena's stomach. Xena takes off the amulet. Gabrielle blinks

Xena: "Come on. We've got to get the Marharan before Brutis' army catches us".

Cut to the temple at Marharan as Xena and Gabrielle race into it. Upon entering the temple the priests immediately recognize the amulet and agree to take it. Before Xena hands it over she notices a mirror and stops. She tucks the amulet into her pouch and walks over to the mirror. A priest follows. Xena stares into the mirror fondling the amulet through the pouch.

Priest: "What is in your heart? What is that quality at your very soul? Something good? Something dark?" (Xena looks at him) "Sometimes it's better not to know".

Xena steps away from the mirror and hands him the amulet

Fade out.

Fade in.

Inside the dark, candle lit temple. Xena and Gabrielle are standing on a stage looking at the amulet as it sits on a pedestal encased in a large crystal.

Xena: "The crystal is charmed and is unbreakable. The power of the amulet is contained. It is safe for now".

Gabrielle: "Good".

Xena: (steps off the stage and turns Gabrielle around to face her. Xena, head bowed, stands close to Gabrielle, level to her shoulders) "Gabrielle, I want you to know that I regret killing that man back at the campsite. Maybe he deserved to die but I was not suppose to be his executioner". (Xena looks up at Gabrielle. Candles on a wall behind Gabrielle ring her head like a halo) "I killed a defenseless man, Gabrielle. I...I need you to forgive me (a tear drops down Xena's check) for I cannot forgive myself".

Gabrielle lays her hands on Xena's head.

Gabrielle: "I forgive you Xena" (Gabrielle reaches out and pulls Xena's head to her bosom) "Xena, my Xena." (comfortingly) "Another sin to atone. Another act for which to make amends. Someday you will be able to forgive yourself all your past deeds", (a tear rolls down Gabrielle's face) "I just hope you don't get killed trying".

Gabrielle kisses Xena's head.

Fade out.

The End. 9-1-96

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