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Sweet Revenge

by Sherrie Johnson (a.k.a. TrueBlue)
sherriejohnson@hotmail.com

posted to the Forum on 10/27/96
post to Tomís Xena page on 12/6/96


TEASER

FADE IN:

EXT. FOREST CLEARING - DAY

XENA, sword drawn, peers around a tree and looks carefully. GABRIELLE appears behind her, eyes wide, looking over Xena's shoulder.

Xena puts her hand out protectively in front of Gabrielle and leads Gabrielle into a clearing.

XENA: (quietly) Stay close behind me.

GABRIELLE: Hey, you'll think I was attached.

Suddenly, several soldiers, swords drawn, rush into the clearing and attack. Xena fends off a couple of men with her sword and Gabrielle takes on another man with her staff.

More soldiers enter the scene and the battle becomes chaotic. Xena is distracted by several men as Gabrielle is forced

DEEPER INTO THE WOODS.

Gabrielle bests her attacker with her staff and rushes back to the

CLEARING

but Xena is gone.

SOLDIER #1: There's one of them!

Gabrielle spins toward the sound and sees three soldiers rushing toward her through the forest.

SOLDIER #1: (pointing at Gabrielle) Get her!

Gabrielle darts into the forest and runs.

EXT. FOREST - DAY

Gabrielle rushes through the thick underbrush holding her staff defensively. Men CRASH through the forest behind her. Gabrielle anxiously darts glances over her shoulder.

GABRIELLE: Xena?!

Gabrielle comes up to a small cliff which blocks her progress. She runs along beside it becoming tangled in the underbrush and getting more desperate as the men get closer. She frantically looks for Xena.

GABRIELLE: Xena?! Where are you?

Xena's gauntletted arm darts in front of Gabrielle and pulls her to the ground.

Xena hauls Gabrielle down to cover under a fallen log.

The two women squeeze into their hiding spot and Xena holds Gabrielle protectively as several sets of booted legs leap over the log in pursuit.

SOLDIER #1: This way! Their trail goes through here!

The men tear off through some trees and disappear.

Xena looks out from under the log and glares in the direction the men were headed. She stands up and Gabrielle gets up behind her.

GABRIELLE: Don't ever lose me like that again!

XENA: I told you stay close.

GABRIELLE: Yes, well, when the bad guys are chasing us I want you to make sure I'm behind you. When I couldn't find you I got so scared I almost--

Just then a late arriving SOLDIER bursts into the clearing. Startled at finding Xena he stops dead in his tracks directly in front of her, his eyes wide with fear.

With one very solid punch to the face Xena knocks the soldier out before he even has a chance to cry for help. He crumples to the forest floor.

Gabrielle eyes the soldier on the ground.

GABRIELLE: Who are these guys and what did we ever do to them? (thinking for a moment) Okay, who are these guys and what DID you do to them?

Xena kicks the soldier over onto his back to get a good look at the markings on his armor.

XENA: He's a soldier for a mercenary named Boren. Boren's good. I collaborated with him on a couple of military campaigns. I don't know why he is after me.

GABRIELLE: Well, we definitely need to talk to this Boren guy. (quickly looking around) What's that noise?

Just then Gabrielle moves her staff in front of herself. She watches surprised as two heavy leather balls connected by a thong come spinning out of the trees to wrap around her staff.

XENA: Gabrielle! Watch out!

Xena whips her arm up to her face to ward off another bola but it wraps around her wrist and neck and pins her arm to her chest. A third bola flies out of the forest to spin around her legs. Xena falls. Gabrielle darts over to her.

GABRIELLE: Xena!

Gabrielle kneels down beside Xena who struggles with the leather twine.

A tree branch SNAPS above and together Xena and Gabrielle look up to see two soldiers appear over the ledge of earth above them. The soldiers are holding a net and are ready to toss it on their victims below.

XENA: Run, Gabrielle!

As the soldiers toss the net Gabrielle momentarily glances into the forest, then she leans over Xena to protect her from the weight of the net as it falls.

EXT. MERCENARY'S CAMPSITE - SAME

Xena and Gabrielle, both tightly bound and disarmed, are guarded at the campsite by a dozen soldiers. One soldier holds ARGO's reins.

XENA: (to Gabrielle) I told you to run.

GABRIELLE: I didn't want to be separated from you again.

XENA: I'd rather not be separated from you either but if you get an opportunity to escape, take it. Leave me behind if you have to.

The leader of the mercenaries, BOREN, a wiry, unshaven man dressed in leather, spins a bola and walks up to Xena and Gabrielle. A deep scar running from his temple to his chin contorts from his nasty smile as he approaches.

BOREN: Xena!

XENA: (coolly) What do you want from me Boren?

BOREN: From you? Nothing. From your old pal Claxion I'm expecting a nice reward.

GABRIELLE: Claxion? (to Xena) He would be the one you did something to.

XENA: Claxion the warlord. Four years ago I outmaneuvered him to take over a castle we both wanted.

GABRIELLE: (a pause) And that's all?

BOREN: Not quite.

GABRIELLE: What happened?

Xena is quiet.

BOREN: I'll tell you what happened. I saw it. The warlord Xena stood on top of the castle wall as Claxion and his men arrived. Claxion was angry for losing the castle and made several remarks about...what was it Xena...something about your mother and her romantic encounters with farm animals.

Xena steams.

BOREN: Xena descended the castle walls to challenge Claxion to a duel to the death.

GABRIELLE: (to Xena) You left a fortress to stand alone before an enemy army?

XENA: (coldly) He made me mad.

BOREN: (to Gabrielle) Xena defeated Claxion in combat, but she didn't give him a warrior's death by her sword. (turning to Xena) Instead she just beat him and taunted him until all he could do was beg her to stop. (a pause) Did you enjoy the man's humiliation?

XENA: It served a purpose.

BOREN: I guess it did. (to Gabrielle) After watching Claxion grovel at Xena's feet his army just turned around and deserted him. (to Xena) One less rival to worry about, eh Xena? Well, no longer. Claxion got his army back, and that castle, and now he wants his sweet revenge. When he heard you were in the area he put a nice little bounty on your head. Double if you could be brought in alive.

XENA: A bounty? After I saved your life at the Battle of Azure, Boren?

BOREN: (shrugs) That was your mistake.

Boren walks over to a glowing fire pit and begins to poke around in the red hot coals with metal tongs.

BOREN: Unfortunately, Claxion's fortress is a full day's ride from here. And I know you, Xena. You won't stay tied up with ropes for long and I've seen you pick open the lock on a chest of gold faster than most men could unlace their boots. Nope. I've got to make it difficult for you to run and fight...

Boren smiles nastily as he pulls a glowing orange metal slug from the fire with the tongs. He walks over to Xena and holds the dangerously hot object inches from Xena's face.

BOREN: Difficult, if not impossible.

Xena looks past the steaming slug to eye Boren coldly while Gabrielle's frightened gaze stays pinned to the red hot bit of metal.

FADE OUT

END OF TEASER

ACT ONE

FADE IN:

EXT. MERCENARY'S CAMPSITE - SAME

BOREN: (to the soldiers) Shackle them.

The soldiers rush Xena and Gabrielle and roughly pin them down on the ground beside each other. Five soldiers are on the struggling Xena, one holding her face in the dirt, and two are on Gabrielle. Xena's and Gabrielle's arms are untied.

Xena's left hand and Gabrielle's right are forced forward between them. Xena jerks against the soldiers and swears at them. The soldiers slap a shackle to Xena's left wrist and attach the other end of the shackle to Gabrielle's right wrist. The soldiers then lock the shackles.

Boren grabs a hammer and pounds the molten slug firmly into the lock on Xena's shackle. He then returns for another slug.

GABRIELLE: Hey, why don't you let me go. Claxion wants Xena, not me.

Boren walks over to Gabrielle with the red hot metal.

BOREN: If Claxion doesn't want you then we'll just chop you free when we get to the castle.

GABRIELLE: You're gonna' chop through these thick shackles?

BOREN: No...not the shackles.

Gabrielle cringes. Boren pounds the other slug into the metal cuff around Gabrielle's wrist.

BOREN: Throw them in the cage.

The soldiers struggle to get Xena and Gabrielle in a small, iron cage. In the process one soldier receives a solid kick to the groin from Xena and he falls to the ground.

As the soldiers continue to struggle Soldier #1, smiling evilly, punches Xena hard as several men restrain her. Xena and Gabrielle are then finally forced into their prison.

Boren throws a key to Xena. Xena grabs it.

BOREN: You can have the key for those shackles.

Boren laughs and Xena throws the key down onto the cage floor. Boren grabs Xena's weapons from another soldier and puts his finger in the face of Soldier #1.

BOREN: Don't take your eyes off them tonight! (to the other men) We leave at dawn!

Boren retires to his tent.

Soldier #1 turns to train his undivided attention on Xena.

EXT. MERCENARY'S CAMPSITE - NIGHT

Soldier #1 sleeps against a tree snoring softly. Xena stretches through the bars to try and reach him.

Gabrielle CLINKS the key around in the cage lock.

Xena curses quietly as she brings her arm back into the cage, unable to reach the guard.

GABRIELLE: (whispering) Xena. This key doesn't fit the cage lock...but it's darn close.

Xena's eyes dart to Gabrielle.

LATER

Xena, still in the cage, struggles quietly with the lock and misfit key. Then she pauses, smiles, and turns the key to open the latch.

She and Gabrielle, still shackled together, then exit the cage and tiptoe up to the sleeping guard. Xena kneels down beside him to whisper in his ear.

XENA: Do you like to hit women, big man?

Soldier #1 smiles and chuckles softly in his sleep.

XENA: You should be careful. Some of us hit back.

The guard's eyes flutter open just in time for Xena's fist to connect with his face knocking him out again. Xena grabs his sword and slides it in her sheath.

Xena and Gabrielle, still standing near the cage, nod at each other in apparent agreement as to their next move but are yanked back together as they both try to head off in different directions.

GABRIELLE: (whispering) Our escape is this way.

XENA: (also whispering) But my chakrum is over there.

GABRIELLE: Uh huh. And so are thirty soldiers. I don't have my staff and even you can't fend off that many men one handed.

MALE VOICE (OS) The prisoners are escaping!

Xena and Gabrielle turn at the sound. The soldiers fly from the tents to rally as the two women dash for the forest.

EXT. FOREST - NIGHT

Xena and Gabrielle race through the very dark thicket. Gabrielle swats at the branches that sting her face and the men can be heard behind them.

GABRIELLE: (between pants) It's so dark. I can't see my hand in front of my face.

XENA: Stay close behind me.

GABRIELLE: You'd think I was...

Gabrielle glances at the shackle on her wrist and rolls her eyes.

GABRIELLE: ...attached.

Xena and Gabrielle rush through the dark forest. The men CRASH through the vegetation behind them.

EXT. FOREST CLEARING - NIGHT

Xena and Gabrielle suddenly come upon five of Boren's soldiers. Xena draws her sword. A fight ensues.

Xena and Gabrielle fend off the men. At one point Xena spins away from one attacker to face another, only to pull Gabrielle in front of the first attacker. Gabrielle shouts in surprise as the soldier raises his sword. Gabrielle ducks as the soldier swings and manages to take him out with a solid kick to the gut.

With that group of soldiers disabled, but more heading towards them through the forest, Xena and Gabrielle exit the clearing and head into

THE FOREST.

XENA: (looking up) This is a good one.

GABRIELLE: A good what?

Suddenly Xena hauls Gabrielle onto her shoulder and makes a gravity defying run up a large tree.

She drops Gabrielle into the crook of the tree and perches herself on a large limb as several soldiers run through the dark thicket below.

SOLDIER #1: They are around here somewhere. They can't have gotten too far. Spread out.

Xena and Gabrielle quietly nestle together in the crook of the tree and settle down to wait.

EXT. TREE - DAY

In the soft dawn light Xena sleeps quietly in the tree with Gabrielle snoring softly in her arms.

A twig SNAPS below and Xena's eyes open brightly. She looks down and sees a doe foraging beneath the tree.

Xena's gaze then narrows as she peers through the forest and listens carefully. Satisfied that they are alone she shakes Gabrielle awake. The chain on the shackles CLINKS as she does so.

XENA: Wake up.

Gabrielle groggily comes to and starts to do a little stretch, but quickly wakes up and grabs at Xena as she starts to lose her balance in their precarious perch.

Upon regaining her balance Gabrielle looks down at the forest floor below. The startled doe jumps away.

GABRIELLE: Oh gods, I don't like heights!

XENA: Come on.

The women start to carefully climb down from the tree.

EXT. FOREST - DAY

Xena and Gabrielle kneel across from one another with the chain from their shackles spread across a low, flat bolder between them.

Xena raises the sword over her head and swings it with a mighty down stroke as Gabrielle ducks. The sword shatters against the rock and chain. Xena throws the broken blade down in disgust.

XENA: Useless!

GABRIELLE: No, wait... (examines the shackles) I think you might have scratched them that time.

XENA: I could break these chains with my chakrum. But that rat Boren has my weapons, and my horse.

GABRIELLE: And getting them back will mean fighting through a small army of soldiers, past a mercenary YOU praise as a good fighter, and all the while with the two of us shackled together at the wrist.

Xena looks completely unfazed.

GABRIELLE: So, I guess we'd better get moving.

EXT. OUTSIDE THE CASTLE - DAY

Xena and Gabrielle hide in a stand of trees and watch as Boren and his men enter the gates of Claxion's fortress. One of the soldiers leads Argo upon which is mounted Xena's weapons and Gabrielle's staff.

As the last of Boren's men pass the entrance the heavy gate is lowered from the inside.

Two of Claxion's soldiers stand guard outside.

EXT. OUTSIDE THE CASTLE - LATER

A merchant heads for the castle with a wagon load of cloaks and blankets.

Xena and Gabrielle sneak out of the bushes and up to the wagon where they surreptitiously take a number of items. They return to the bushes as the wagon approaches the guards where it is searched.

EXT. OUTSIDE THE CASTLE - LATER

The guards continue to stand their post outside the castle.

Xena and Gabrielle, disguised in the cloaks and concealing their shackles, walk up to the guards.

XENA: This woman is about to deliver a child.

Xena gestures to Gabrielle's stomach which is heavily padded under her cloak with blankets.

XENA: We need shelter.

Gabrielle groans with a feigned contraction.

SOLDIER #2: She can have the baby in the forest.

XENA: Out in the woods? To deliver her child like an animal? You must let us in!

Gabrielle groans even louder.

SOLDIER #2: (gesturing them away) Be gone!

GABRIELLE: I...I can't go anywhere. I'll have to deliver the baby right here.

Gabrielle drops to the ground at the soldiers' feet. The shackle CLINKS nosily as Xena is jerked down beside her. Gabrielle yells loudly to cover up the metalic sound and Xena quickly kneels at Gabrielle's side, pulling her cloak over the chain.

XENA: (to the soldiers) We'll need rags and hot water... (dramatically) and plenty of buckets for all the blood and afterbirth".

Gabrielle begins to spread her legs apart. The solders back away in fright.

SOLDIER #2: Okay, okay.

The soldier looks up to the man on the wall above.

SOLDIER #2: Raise the gate!

Xena helps Gabrielle off the ground and the soldier leads them through the entrance and over to an outbuilding.

INT. STABLE - DAY

Xena, Gabrielle and the soldier enter a long stable with many horses. Riding equipment and ropes hang from the walls.

SOLDIER #2: She can have the child here. But you are to leave as soon as the brat is born. And don't expect help from anyone.

Xena nods her head in appreciation and helps Gabrielle to the floor as Gabrielle overacts in her cries of pain. The soldier leaves.

Gabrielle continues to yell in the direction of the soldier as she quickly takes the padding out from under her cloak.

Xena begins to pull the hollering Gabrielle along as she searches the stalls for Argo.

XENA: Argo?

Gabrielle yells.

XENA: Argo?

Gabrielle inadvertently yells in Xena's ear. Xena angrily turns to Gabrielle and jerks her close using the shackle.

XENA: (annoyed) Would you quit that!

Argo WHINNIES.

Xena quickly takes off in the direction of the sound dragging Gabrielle along. Xena finds Argo in one of the stalls and the two nuzzle each other fondly.

Gabrielle begins to check Argo's saddlebags.

GABRIELLE: Our weapons aren't here.

XENA: Boren is probably trying to sell them to Claxion. We'll have to get into the palace.

Xena and Gabrielle look out of a window at the royal residence. Several members of the palace guard in brass helmets and long red capes stand at the entrance.

EXT. CASTLE WALL - DAY

Xena and Gabrielle slink along the castle wall behind some buildings. They are careful not to be seen.

Gabrielle follows Xena and waits as Xena peers around a wall to assess the situation. Gabrielle looks around and notices tall black stains all the way down the castle wall.

GABRIELLE: Xena, what are these marks?

Xena glances at Gabrielle and then looks at the wall. Her gaze grows cold as she looks down its length.

XENA: Scorch marks.

GABRIELLE: Must have been some fire.

Xena and Gabrielle hear a couple of soldiers pass and quickly duck down. The men walk by and Xena leans out to carefully eye the roof of a building across from the palace. Xena nods.

GABRIELLE: (watching Xena) Do you have an idea?

XENA: Um hum.

GABRIELLE: (a beat) A good idea?

EXT. ROOF - DAY

Xena and Gabrielle creep along a roof top. Xena carries a length of rope and Gabrielle nervously looks down at the drop from the very steep roof.

GABRIELLE: A bad idea! A very, very bad idea.

Xena and Gabrielle reach the end of the wooden building and crouch down, still a good distance from the castle.

Xena eyes the palace guards who stand below. She carefully stands and with her unchained right hand throws the rope up at the palace. She lassos a gargoyle which protrudes from the wall.

Gabrielle stands. She puts her left arm around Xena and grabs the rope with her chained right hand. Xena grabs hold of the rope as well.

XENA: (quietly) Ready?

Gabrielle tightly squeezes her eyes shut and nods her head briskly.

Xena leans back and the two women jump from the roof. They swing to the stone building and land hard against

THE PALACE WALL.

Gabrielle loses her grip from the impact and falls. Xena, holding onto the rope with her right hand, slides a couple of inches down the rope due to the jerk from Gabrielle against the shackle.

A couple little stones drop from the wall and land next to the guards. Unknowingly, they stand with their spears pointed at the women above.

Xena holds on to the rope with the powerful grip of her right hand.

Gabrielle dangles by the shackle, throwing fearful glances at the ground and soldiers below.

FADE OUT

END OF ACT ONE

ACT TWO

FADE IN:

EXT. PALACE WALL - SAME

Xena curls her left arm and brings Gabrielle back toward the rope.

Gabrielle grabs Xena desperately and holds on to the warrior with her free arm and legs. With her chained right hand Gabrielle holds Xena's armor.

Xena pauses for a minute to check on Gabrielle and the guards below. Gabrielle clings to Xena fearfully but the guards still have not noticed the action above.

Hanging onto the rope with her right hand Xena uses her chained left hand to pull Gabrielle's grip from her armor.

XENA: (whispering) Put your hand here.

She puts Gabrielle's chained right hand on the rope and Gabrielle grabs it. Xena then grabs the rope with her own chained hand just above Gabrielle's grip.

XENA: Now, follow my rhythm. We'll take it nice and slow.

Then, hand over hand, Xena begins to climb the rope. Gabrielle hangs on tightly with her left arm and legs wrapped around Xena. Her chained right hand she moves in rhythm up the rope with Xena's as she helps to pull herself up.

XENA: That's right. You're doing great.

Gabrielle whimpers.

XENA: Shhh.

Xena glances at the guards below who continue to stand stoically, oblivious to the scene above.

XENA: We don't want the boys to know what we're doing.

The women climb up to a window and scramble onto its ledge.

INT. CASTLE BEDROOM - DAY

Xena and Gabrielle jump from the window into the room. Gabrielle grabs her shackled wrist painfully. Xena picks up Gabrielle's hand to inspect it for injury.

A man and woman GIGGLE nearby.

Xena freezes and Gabrielle's eyes widen and she looks toward the sound.

On a curtain encircled bed nearby a man and woman romp under the blankets, oblivious to the intruders.

Xena and Gabrielle quickly, and quietly, exit.

INT. CASTLE HALLWAY - DAY

Xena quietly closes the bedroom door and then looks down the hallway.

GABRIELLE: (to herself) In the middle of the day?

Xena nods down the hall.

XENA: The throne room is that way. Hopefully that's where I'll...

Xena glances at her shackled wrist and then at Gabrielle.

XENA: ...where we'll find my chakrum.

INT. THRONE ROOM - DAY

Xena's chakrum is held forth by Boren. CLAXION, a powerfully built man decked out in gaudy royal clothes including a bejeweled crown, sits on the throne and looks at the chakrum greedily.

Beside Claxion stands a soldier, TOBIAS, who eyes the weapon carefully.

TOBIAS: It's her weapon, my lord.

CLAXION: You're sure?

TOBIAS: I'm sure.

CLAXION: Well, Tobias, you know Xena better than the rest of us. It must be hers.

BOREN: It's mine now. And it can be yours, King Claxion...for a price.

CLAXION: I want the Warrior Princess, Boren, not just her weapons.

BOREN: And so you shall have her...

BY A BACK DOOR

PUNCHES, GROANS, and a heavy THUD are heard in the hallway behind the closed door.

The door opens slowly to reveal two unconscious guards in a tidy pile on the floor. Xena and Gabrielle then appear around the door and carefully enter the room. Xena is carrying a sword.

Xena and Gabrielle creep behind a curtain. Gabrielle watches the guards carefully while Xena's gaze is pinned to her chakrum.

Boren, who is talking to Claxion and is surrounded by several of his men, reaches for a drink from an ornate goblet which rests on a table. Also on the table rest Xena's whip and sword.

Tobias and another palace guard stand beside Claxion. Two more guards stand by the main entrance to the room. Tobias has his back to Xena.

Xena and Gabrielle listen closely to the conversation.

BY THE THRONE

BOREN: I have men combing the countryside for her. She won't get far.

CLAXION: Good. Because I don't want her on the loose when I start invading the surrounding kingdoms. With my army resupplied it's time I did a little land grabbing and Xena has a history of getting in my way.

BOREN: Xena's not a threat to you. She travels with a girl instead of an army, and you are a lot stronger now then when you two first met.

CLAXION: At least I didn't have to incinerate a whole army to take this castle like Xena did four years ago.

Gabrielle looks at Xena. Xena coldly keeps watching Claxion.

BOREN: So are you going to buy the weapons?

Claxion thinks for a moment. Then he smiles and stands up. Boren steps beside him and Claxion slaps him on the back.

CLAXION: Let's go get your money.

Claxion sets Xena's chakrum down on a table next to her sword and whip and the two men and Tobias exit the room.

The three soldiers continue to stand guard and Boren's four men begin to help themselves to the wine.

BEHIND THE CURTAIN

Xena raises her blade and prepares to attack.

Xena and Gabrielle charge the surprised men who promptly draw their swords. Xena fights the men off as Gabrielle does her best to stay out of the way and cover Xena's back.

As Xena bests each man she throws them onto Claxion's throne, one on top of the other.

One of Claxion's soldiers grabs Xena's weapons and runs from the room. Xena attempts to follow him but is occupied with the other men.

INT. CASTLE HALLWAY - SAME

The man with Xena's weapons runs down the hallway and passes a cleaning woman who stands beside a bucket of water.

The woman pulls stubby candles out of a candleabra for replacement. The candleabra stands next to a window which is draped with rough curtains.

EXT. THRONE ROOM - SAME

Xena and Gabrielle continue to fight and finally disable the last man. Xena throws him on top of the pile of men on Claxion's throne.

The women run from the throne room after the man who took the weapons.

INT. CASTLE HALLWAY - DAY

Xena and Gabrielle run down the hallway and stop. They look around and discover they have lost the man with their weapons.

MALE VOICE (OS) They ran this way!

Xena and Gabrielle hear soldiers headed toward them and they duck down a passage.

Five palace guards appear as they turn down the hallway.

PALACE GUARD #1 (to other guards) We are looking for two women. A short blond and a tall brunette. You can't miss them. They are shackled together. Split up.

The guards separate and one heads down the passage Xena and Gabrielle had taken.

INT. PASSAGE - DAY

The guard spots Gabrielle. She is wrapped in a rough piece of cloth, standing by herself as she washes the ledge of the window next to the candleabra. He gives her a second look but, believing her to be a cleaning woman, walks past.

Gabrielle glances after the guard and watches him disappear around a turn.

She quickly pulls off the curtain wrapped around her shoulders and leans out the window.

OUTSIDE THE WINDOW

Xena hangs by the ledge. With Gabrielle's signal Xena quickly shimmies up though the window with a hand from her friend.

INSIDE THE CASTLE

again Xena looks down one hallway and then down another.

GABRIELLE: Which way?

From down the hallway comes the sound of more soldiers approaching. Xena quickly rattles the handles of several doors until she finds one that is unlocked.

Gabrielle turns at the sound of the soldiers. Xena pulls Gabrielle into the room and shuts the door.

The soldiers walk by.

INT. CASTLE ROOM - DAY

Xena and Gabrielle lean close to the door as they listen to the soldiers walk by. Xena takes a breath of relief and relaxes for a moment.

Gabrielle is quiet as she watches Xena.

GABRIELLE: Xena, what exactly happened here four years ago?

Xena studies Gabrielle closely and then slowly begins to speak.

XENA: Claxion and I both wanted this castle for a military outpost. I got here first. My army couldn't breach the castle gates so I used catapults to hurl flaming colanders of oil over the walls. It was a windy day and the wooden buildings inside went up in seconds. I expected the soldiers inside to be driven out by the firestorm but they stood their ground. A great many of them died.

GABRIELLE: Why didn't the soldiers retreat to the stone buildings within the castle walls?

XENA: Those were occupied.

MALE VOICE (OS) (through door) Search the rooms!

Gabrielle and Xena quickly move away from the door which promptly slams open. A palace guard, his red cape flowing behind him, enters the room. Behind him Xena quietly pushes the door shut.

INT. CASTLE HALLWAY - DAY

Two palace guards approach one another in the hallway.

PALACE GUARD: Where's Jonas?

The other guard shrugs. Together the two then turn sharply and head for the room where Xena and Gabrielle had fled.

INT. CASTLE ROOM - SAME

The two guards brust into the room and find the other guard with his back to the door. In his arms he embraces Gabrielle.

Gabrielle startles at the entry of the other guards and looks at them wide eyed over the shoulder of the one who holds her.

GABRIELLE: Do you mind?

Gabrielle strokes the guard's back over his long, red cape and pulls his helmeted head closer.

GABRIELLE: I won't keep him long. I promise.

The soldiers, wary, take a few steps toward the couple. The guard holding Gabrielle begins to nuzzle her neck. Gabrielle's eyes widen in surprise and she squirms uncomfortably before she smiles and giggles at the two guards.

The two guards look at each other and smirk. They turn to leave.

PALACE GUARD: Don't take too long, Jonas.

The guards leave and slam the door shut.

The person holding Gabrielle straightens and turns around to reveal herself to be Xena in the helmet and cape of the palace guard. The chain between Gabrielle and Xena CLINKS.

Xena takes off the helmet and cape and throws them on the floor next to the unconscious guard who lies hidden behind a bed.

The two women then move to the door. Xena carefully opens it and peers into the hallway. She nods to Gabrielle and the two exit the room.

INT. THRONE ROOM - DAY

The soldier who had run with Xena weapons stands guard next to the throne. Out of the corner of his eye he glances at a bowl of fruit which sits next to the throne. He quickly grabs a couple of grapes and stuffs them in his mouth.

Suddenly, one of the grapes pops from his mouth as Xena appears behind him and hits a pressure point on his throat. He drops to his knees.

XENA: If it feels like you're about to die that's because you are. Tell me what you did with my weapons and I might let you live.

The man gasps, his face contorted in pain.

GUARD: I took them to the king's counting room. They should still be there.

Xena releases the hold and the guard collapses to the ground.

INT. BEDROOM - DAY

Xena and Gabrielle carefully sneak into the room, checking to make sure it is vacant. It is a beautiful room with fine furniture and golden works of art.

GABRIELLE: This is the royal suite. Why are we here?

XENA: After I took control of this castle I claimed the king's quarters as my own. I discovered a secret passage from the royal bedchamber to the vaults.

GABRIELLE: Lucky for us.

Xena finds the spot on the wall she is looking for and puts her weight into it.

XENA: Gabrielle, a king may build a castle with absolutely no thought to how he would escape if under attack, but I have yet to meet a ruler who didn't have quick and easy access to the money.

A small section of wall turns away as Xena gives it another hard shove.

Xena grabs a torch and she and Gabrielle enter the dark passage.

INT. COUNTING ROOM - DAY

Xena and Gabrielle appear as they push a section of wall aside. They warily emerge from the secret passage and find a large room stacked with gold and treasure.

Gabrielle stands wide-eyed as Xena looks around carefully. Xena glances at Gabrielle and jerks the shackle.

XENA: Don't forget what we came for.

CLAXION: That would be this?

Xena and Gabrielle spin around to see Claxion standing in the room holding up Xena's chakrum. Armed men begin to swarm out of an adjacent room.

Xena and Gabrielle are quickly surrounded.

INT. DUNGEON - DAY

Xena and Gabrielle are shoved into a dark, dank dungeon by a team of soldiers, all with their weapons drawn. The soldiers lock the bar doors behind the women.

Xena glares at the guards who laugh and disappear up a stairway.

ALDAC: Xena!

Xena turns around at the sound and finds the prisoners forming a small mob. One prisoner, ALDAC, better dressed than the other prisoners and obviously their leader, approaches.

XENA: King Aldac.

ALDAC: The gods have answered my prayers and have delivered the Warrior Princess to me.

Gabrielle relaxes for a moment, thinking that the king is happy to see Xena.

ALDAC: (to the prisoners) Kill her!

The mob descends on Xena and Gabrielle.

FADE OUT

END OF ACT TWO

ACT THREE

FADE IN:

INT. DUNGEON - SAME

The prisoners lunge at Xena and Gabrielle but Xena quickly takes them out.

As the men are defeated they back away and warily eye the women. Xena approaches the king.

XENA: Don't fight me. I want to help you. Claxion --

ALDAC: Help me!? You sacked my castle and raided my lands. You destroyed my army, the hearts of these people ... and you killed my only son! It took me four long years to rebuild this kingdom after you left. I don't know what Claxion has in mind for you but it won't be half as terrible as what these people would to you if given a chance.

The prisoners eye Xena and Gabrielle ominously. The warrior and the bard back off and move to a corner of the dungeon occupied by one other prisoner who is chained to the wall.

CORNER OF DUNGEON

Gabrielle looks around at the the other prisoners and sees several miserable women and children she hadn't noticed before.

GABRIELLE: Xena...

XENA: I'm not well liked here Gabrielle. Maybe you should pretend you're not with me.

Gabrielle raises her shackled wrist to remind Xena.

XENA: Yeah. Right.

GABRIELLE: There are little kids in here. Mothers with their babies. These people aren't criminals. Why are they locked up in this dungeon?

CHAINED PRISONER: They are held here for failing to pay Claxion's tax collector.

GABRIELLE: But what about the children?

The prisoner lifts his head to reveal his terribly burn scarred face.

CHAINED PRISONER: By Claxion's order entire families are to be jailed when a man's taxes are not paid.

GABRIELLE: How are people suppose to make money to pay their taxes if they are locked up?

CHAINED PRISONER: They can't. Most of them will die down here...including the children.

GABRIELLE: (to Xena) Xena, we have to remove Claxion from the throne. He's an evil man.

CHAINED PRISONER: More evil than you, Xena? My family starved after you left. You took everything I had and left me only these scars in return. By the gods I would give my right arm to watch you die!

Xena watches the prisoner carefully. Momentarily she appears struck by his venom but she quickly conceals her emotions.

AT THE DUNGEON BARS

Claxion descends the steps to stand before the dungeon bars.

CLAXION: Xena!

Xena walks slowly over, the shackled Gabrielle following.

GABRIELLE: (whispering to Xena) Be nice to him. Be charming. Maybe we can talk our way out.

CLAXION: My old enemy! Well, this is a switch, isn't it? I have control of the castle and you are the one who is humiliated.

XENA: What do you want Claxion?

CLAXION: Why, I want you dead. But first, I want you to suffer terribly! Which would you rather? Drawn and quartered? Impaled on a rod and left to linger alive while the gulls peek out your eyes? Maybe a good, old fashioned chopping to bits with your own sword.

Claxion pulls out Xena's chakrum, sword and whip from his clothing. Xena eyes them angrily.

CLAXION: Oh, forget it. I don't care what you want. I'll have to think about this one for a while and come up with something clever.

XENA: You wouldn't know clever if it jumped up and bit you in the ass, Claxion.

GABRIELLE: (aside to Xena) I said 'charming'!

CLAXION: Uh huh. And that's why you're in there and I'm out here.

Claxion laughs and throws Xena's weapons on a table.

CLAXION: Revenge is mine, Xena! (turns to leave) Oh, and by the way. Say hello to an old friend, now my captain of the guard.

Claxion waves Tobias over.

CLAXION: I promised him a couple of your fingers after I killed you.

The soldier walks up to the bars and glares at Xena. Xena looks at him in disbelief.

TOBIAS: Remember me? Maybe this will remind you.

He pulls off his shirt and turns to reveal the scars of a whipping across his back.

XENA: (stunned) Tobias.

He turns back around to face Xena.

TOBIAS: Revenge is mine as well!

He turns and storms up the stairway after the king, grabbing Xena's weapons on his way out.

The men exit and Xena puts a hand to her temples. She drags herself over the bench where she turns to sit down.

DUNGEON CORNER

GABRIELLE: Xena? Xena are you okay?

XENA: I don't want to talk right now, Gabrielle. It's been a very bad day.

GABRIELLE: Who was that soldier? Did you personally kill the king's son or did he just die in the battle you started? Is anybody ELSE going to show up who wants you dead?

Xena sighs heavily and looks up plaintively to the gods.

XENA: Gabrielle --

GABRIELLE: Who whipped that soldier, Tobias?

XENA: (a beat) I did.

Gabrielle looks stunned.

INT. DUNGEON CORNER - LATER

Gabrielle watches Xena carefully as Xena pokes at the slug in her cuff with a sharp stone. She attempts to ignore Gabrielle's scrutiny and occasionally looks up menacingly at the other prisoners to warn them away.

Jaw tight, Xena flicks an irritated glance at Gabrielle and slams the stone down on the dungeon floor in impatience.

XENA: Just say it, Gabrielle.

GABRIELLE: I can't believe you whipped a man.

Xena pulls her dagger out from its concealed location in her cleavage and again begins to pick at the lock.

XENA: (tightly) Tobias was my soldier. He disobeyed a direct order. He knew the punishment. Another warlord would have killed him.

GABRIELLE: Did you order him whipped or did you...personally...?

XENA: True leaders never give orders they wouldn't carry out themselves.

Gabrielle shakes her head slowly in disbelief.

GABRIELLE: (quietly) I can't believe you did it.

Xena angrily peers at Gabrielle with intense blue eyes.

XENA: Well it happened Gabrielle! I torched this castle! I killed the king's son in battle! And I left these villagers to starve after I stole everything they had! (quietly, more intensely) And I lashed that soldier with the whip you've known me to carry since we met.

Gabrielle meets Xena's gaze unflinchingly.

XENA: It all happened Gabrielle. If I could I would give my own life to make it not true, but I can't!

In frustration Xena cracks her wrist hard against the stone wall in an attempt to break the lock and get away from Gabrielle but the shackle holds.

Gabrielle looks down and away, trying to give Xena what space she can, and the women sit quietly for a moment.

GABRIELLE: (quietly) Why did you whip him?

Xena rests her head against the cold comfort of the dungeon wall and tucks her dagger away.

XENA: Aldac's army was safe within the castle walls. With Claxion close behind I didn't have time for a long siege so I attacked the neighboring villages. The townsfolk fled into the fortress. As she speaks Xena looks around the dungeon at the miserable men, women and children hudled under blankets, a few of them crying, all of them scared.

XENA: Room was made for the people in the safer stone structures while the supplies were transfered to the wooden outbuildings. (a beat) Then I ordered the burning.

Xena watches as a prisoner holds a ladle of water to the mouth of the scarred prisoner chained to the wall.

XENA: When the fire was over all their supplies were gone. I ordered my men to let no food or water pass into the castle but Tobias, my best soldier, (glances at Gabrielle) my closest friend, (looks down) took pity on the starving women and children inside.

Xena looks up to see a young mother singing a lullaby to her baby, slowing rocking the infant back and forth.

XENA: He snuck them food and water until I discovered his treachery. In front of my army I whipped him till he passed out from the pain. Tobias' actions made little difference. King Aldac knew he couldn't hold out for long and surrendered.

GABRIELLE: It must have been hard for you to whip your friend, Tobias.

Xena looks deeply into Gabrielle's eyes.

XENA: Not so hard that I couldn't do it.

Gabrielle grips the warrior's forearm.

GABRIELLE: (reassuringly) It was a long time ago.

XENA: No Gabrielle. It wasn't.

INT. DUNGEON BARS - DAY

PRISON GUARD: In the dungeon with you, tax evader!

Xena and Gabrielle, still sitting on the bench, look over at the dungeon bars to see a prison guard shoving a peasant down the stairs. The peasant stumbles and falls and the guard is immediately on him poised to beat him with a heavy stick.

Tobias suddenly descends the stairway and pins the guard up against the wall before he can strike the man.

TOBIAS: (threateningly) I'll take charge of this prisoner.

Tobias helps the peasant to his feet as the guard exits the scene via the stairway. Tobias unlocks the door and the prisoner enters.

A child walks up to the bars and holds a hand out to Tobias as Tobias locks the door.

CHILD: Do you have food for me, sir?

Tobias shushs the child.

TOBIAS: (quietly) I'll bring you something later. (eyeing Xena) Pondering your fate, Warrior?

Xena gets up and walks over to him. Gabrielle follows as she has no choice.

XENA: Tobias, you were a good soldier. Now you are a captain.

TOBIAS: It was a lot of hard work.

XENA: Do you like working for Claxion?

TOBIAS: He always pays on time.

XENA: He's got the money. He's taken everything from the villagers.

TOBIAS: What do I care for villagers.

XENA: You cared once.

TOBIAS: And you beat that out of me.

XENA: (glancing at child) Thank the gods I don't think that's true. Look at these people, Tobias. Little children! How could you let this happen?

TOBIAS: I haven't done anything but follow orders.

XENA: And I know that you understand that some things are more important than orders. Help me, Tobias. Help me oust Claxion from power and restore the good king Aldac to his throne. For the sake of these villagers --

TOBIAS: This is a change in you. A trick maybe? What have you ever cared for villagers?

XENA: I've found my way, Tobias, and it's not the path of destruction I once lead...or the kind of life that would let me beat my best friend.

TOBIAS (angrily) And I was your friend. I would have given my life for you, Xena. You couldn't show me any mercy?

XENA: I am so sorry for what happened.

TOBIAS: I thought you were going to beat me to death. You almost did. Afterwards, when I was barely conscious, a goddess came to me and bathed my wounds. She even talked to me. I should have listened to her. She told me to...

XENA: ...to give up soldiering. To find a wife and raise crops and children. That this was no life for a man with a heart as big as yours.

Tobias looks at Xena in shock. He tears his eyes from her gaze and storms up the stairway without a word.

Gabrielle puts a hand on Xena's shoulder.

BY OTHER PRISONERS

PEASANT: King Aldac, your majesty.

The peasant whom Tobias had just jailed kneels and the king pulls him to his feet.

ALDAC: Subject Barcleous. I'm sorry they got you too.

PEASANT: Sir, your troops are rallied on the northern highlands. They plan to attack at dawn tomorrow and retake your castle.

ALDAC: They have no leader.

PEASANT: They hope to quickly free you so that you may lead them in battle.

Xena and Gabrielle, who had been listening to this interaction, step to the side to quietly discuss the developments.

XENA: Aldac is a fine king but he has no head for war. I took this castle with a fraction of Aldac's forces. Now Claxion has taken if from him again.

GABRIELLE: You'll have to lead the army for King Aldac.

Xena watches the king with his subjects.

EXT. CASTLE COURT YARD - DAY

Tobias enters the courtyard to see Claxion threatening a peasant who cowers on the ground.

CLAXION: You'll bow to your king faster than that the next time I approach!

Claxion grabs a whip off a nearby soldier as the soldier quickly ties the peasant to a post. The soldier tears the shirt off the peasant's back and Claxion, with a frightful grin, begins to whip the peasant.

Tobias turns away from the sight looking nauseous. He runs back in the direction he had come.

INT. DUNGEON - DAY

Xena and Gabrielle sit on the bench. They turn toward a noise at the dungeon door and see Claxion descending the steps with a squad of armed guards behind him.

Claxion leans on the bars and smiles maniacally at Xena.

CLAXION: I know how you're going to die!

INT. TORTURE CHAMBER - DAY

Xena and Gabrielle lay side by side on a large table. There is a tall post at the head of the table and another post at its foot.

The chain of Xena's and Gabrielle's shackles is looped around the post over their heads and their feet are tied to the second post. Xena right hand and Gabrielle's left are tied to the sides of the table.

Above them is a large, crescent shaped blade on the end of a pendulum.

Claxion stands nearby next to two guards. He steps away to look at the frightening devices of torture placed around the dark, evil room.

CLAXION: (to Xena) Beautiful, aren't they?

He gestures to a wrought iron appliance decked with glinting blades.

CLAXION: Slicing.

He gestures to a table above which is mounted a huge, flat stone.

CLAXION: Crushing.

Claxion steps up to the table. Xena eyes him coldly.

CLAXION: The first thing I did when I got this castle was build this chamber. (he raps on a wall) Sound proof...some people find the screaming disturbing, (he holds up a key) and I have the only key.

Claxion then draws his sword, holds it over Xena for a moment, then cuts a rope that holds the bladed pendulum back.

The device begins to slowly swing back and forth, dropping a fraction of an inch each time.

CLAXION: You've got an hour to live...roughly. (he smiles) Sometimes it takes a little while to die. Now, if you'll excuse me, all this fun has given me an appetite.

He strides toward the exit.

CLAXION: But don't worry, I'll be back before the show starts.

He exits the room and the two soldiers follow him out. The key JINGLES in the lock as the door is bolted.

Xena struggles hard against her bonds. Gabrielle watches in fear as the razor sharp pendulum descends.

FADE OUT

END OF ACT THREE

ACT FOUR

FADE IN:

INT. DUNGEON - DAY

Tobias leans down beside the bars and sneaks some food from under his cape to the child. He quickly stands to conceal his actions as another guard enters.

GUARD: King Claxion says that you should report to the lower chamber if you want to see the warrior killed.

Tobias hesitates for a moment, then his face darkens and he turns to follow the guard up the stairway.

INT. TORTURE CHAMBER - DAY

Xena and Gabrielle struggle against their bonds. The pendulum sways menacingly above them, inching closer.

GABRIELLE: Xena, I'm scared. I don't want to die.

XENA: We're not dead yet.

GABRIELLE: (annoyed) Well...no...not technically.

XENA: (gently) Don't be afraid, Gabrielle. When it does happen, and it won't be today, you'll go to the Elysian Fields. You'll be with Perdicus and your grandmother.

GABRIELLE: And you. You'll be there.

XENA: (a pause) I've done a lot of terrible things.

GABRIELLE: But you've changed. You've made up for all that.

XENA: If I had made up for everything I've done King Aldec wouldn't want me dead, Tobias wouldn't be twisted with revenge...and Claxion wouldn't have us on this table.

The blade continues its sickening descent.

INT. HALLWAY - DAY

Claxion meets Tobias walking the other way down the hall.

CLAXION: (smiling) Tobias! I put Xena and her friend under the pendulum. We've got just enough time for some dinner.

TOBIAS: Her friend?

CLAXION: Oh, I love that machine! I'm glad I bought it. We'll have to get more such devices, don't you agree? We might even be able to get some of those wretched peasants to pay their taxes.

TOBIAS: (weakly) We?

Claxion does not hear his captain and instead puts an arm around Tobias' shoulder and strides with him down the hall.

INT. TORTURE CHAMBER - DAY

The pendulum drops a little lower.

Xena pulls against the rope around her right hand. Her arm jumps a few inches as one of the knots gives way but the rest of the rope holds.

GABRIELLE: Are you free?

XENA: No, but I've got a little more slack.

Xena strains to reach her dagger but cannot quite get it. She rolls onto her side, her chest close to Gabrielle's face.

XENA: Get my dagger.

Gabrielle eyes the dagger concealed in Xena's cleavage and raises an eyebrow.

INT. HALLWAY - DAY

Claxion and Tobias, followed by two more guards, exit the dinning hall and walk down a hallway. Claxion finishes off a mutton chop he holds in his hand and throws the bone on the floor.

INT. TORTURE CHAMBER - SAME

Xena strains against her bonds as Gabrielle struggles to get the dagger with her teeth. Xena pauses for a moment to watch the blade swing closely past them with a WHOOSH.

XENA: (impatiently) Hurry up! What are you doing?

Annoyed, Gabrielle stops for a moment to look up at Xena.

GABRIELLE: Hey, I'm not exactly bobbing for apples here. You know, most warriors conceal their daggers in their belt or boot.

Suddenly wide-eyed, Gabrielle watches the pendulum swing toward her. She shrinks down to avoid its edge and returns to her efforts of retrieving the dagger.

XENA: If I had my dagger in my boot we'd never get out of here. Now hurry!

GABRIELLE: (muffled) I god id!

Gabrielle, holding the dagger in her teeth, pulls it out by the hilt and strains toward Xena. Xena takes the blade in her teeth.

INT. HALLWAY - SAME

Claxion, Tobias and the soldiers approach the guards who stand by the torture chamber door. Claxion removes the key from his clothes.

CLAXION: The entertainment should begin shortly.

INT. DUNGEON - SAME

The door is unlocked and Claxion, Tobias and the four soldiers enter. Claxion's smile quickly falls as he spots Xena with the knife in her teeth.

CLAXION: (to the guards) Stop her!

Tobias suddenly rushes up behind Claxion, draws his sword, and clubs Claxion on the back of the head with the hilt. Claxion falls unconscious.

The guards turn away from Xena and Gabrielle and attack Tobias who fends them off.

Xena uses her head to fling the blade across the table. It slides over the edge and drops into her right hand.

Tobias continues to fight.

Xena cuts through the rope and frees her hand. As the pendulum, now a mere hair's breadth away from cutting the women, swings away Xena sits half upright and throws the knife at her feet, cutting the rope that holds her and Gabrielle to the post.

With lighting speed Xena swings off the table and around its head, unlooping the shackle from around the other post. She grabs Gabrielle and yanks her off the table as Gabrielle rolls away from the blade.

Gabrielle quickly tries to untie the knot that holds her to the table as a guard attacks Xena. He knocks her onto the table and Xena looks up to see the blade of the pendulum swinging toward her.

Xena throws the guard off and dodges the blade at the last moment. Gabrielle gets the knot undone and moves behind Xena who kicks the guard soundly.

He lands on the table and looks up to see the blade swinging towards him. He jumps away just in time.

Xena grabs the guard as he gets off the table and pushes him into a pillory which she slams shut. Xena grabs the sword from the trapped guard.

Another guard attacks Xena and she engages him in a sword fight. Their blades lock and Xena pushes the soldier off.

He flies onto the crushing table and trips a lever. He watches in wild fear as the huge stone falls from above. He leaps off the table as the stone comes CRASHING down. He tries to get off the floor but his cape is trapped in the device, pinning him beside the table.

Tobias defeats the two guards he is fighting and Xena and Gabrielle run over to Claxion who struggles groggily to get off the floor. Xena kicks him down and grabs his keys.

She, Gabrielle and Tobias flee the room and just as Claxion charges for the exit Xena slams the door shut and locks it.

INT. DUNGEON - DAY

Xena and Gabrielle, still shackled together, charge down the stairs with Gabrielle desperately trying to keep up.

Xena takes out a guard standing by the dungeon bars and begins to unlock to door.

Aldac hurries to stand before Xena.

XENA: Come on, Aldac. Your soldiers need you.

ALDAC: (gesturing to prisoners) What about the others?

Xena swings the door open.

XENA: This dungeon will be the safest place for them when the fighting starts.

ALDAC: Why should I trust you.

XENA: Because you have no choice.

TOBIAS: Xena!

Xena and Aldac turn to see Tobias descend the stairway holding Xena's weapons. Upon reaching Xena he hands her her sword, chakrum and, with a meaningful glance, her whip. Then he hands Gabrielle her staff.

Xena smiles at the feel of the chakrum in her hand and signals Aldac and Tobias to back away.

XENA: (to Gabrielle) I enjoy your company more than any other, Gabrielle. (raising her shackled wrist) But I've had enough of this.

Xena slings her chakrum into the air. It caroms off the dungeon wall and in a flash of sparks severs the cuff on Xena's wrist and then Gabrielle's. Gabrielle flinches at the contact and the shackles fall to the floor with a heavy CLANK. Tobias opens the bar door.

XENA: Come on!

Xena, Gabrielle, the king and Tobias exit.

EXT. CASTLE COURT YARD BY FRONT GATE - DAY

Tobias pats Argo who, along with another horse, is harnessed to a wagon loaded with crates.

Tobias moves toward the wagon and climbs onto the driver's seat. He looks back at the crates to spot Xena peering out from one of the boxes. She softly shuts the lid. Tobias clicks to the horses who pull the wagon toward the entrance.

CASTLE GATES

Tobias rides up to the soldiers who operate the castle gates.

TOBIAS: I'm taking this equipment out for the training exercises tomorrow. Raise the gate.

The soldiers comply and Tobias leaves the castle with his smuggled cohorts.

EXT. MILITARY CAMPSITE - DAY

Xena, Gabrielle, Tobias and the king ride in the wagon as they approach a military campsite perched on a hilltop. There is a rise of cheers from the soldiers as the king alights the wagon.

Xena immediately spots the men planning the attack around some maps. She strides over to them and begins to discuss their plans.

Xena spots Tobias who watches her.

XENA: (calling) Tobias.

Instead of walking over to her Tobias turns around and starts to walk in the other direction. Xena follows him as he takes off his armor and drops it on the ground. Gabrielle begins to tag along quietly in curiosity.

XENA: (walking beside Tobias) Where are you going?

TOBIAS: Well, I'm not going back to Claxion.

Tobias takes off his uniform tunic and red cape revealing his scarred back and throws the garments down in disgust.

TOBIAS: I don't know where I'm going.

XENA: You know the weaknesses in Claxion's defense, and you were always good with battle strategy. Stay here and fight with us.

Tobias stops to glare at Xena.

TOBIAS: I will NEVER fight at your side again!

XENA: These people need you, Tobias. They are under the thumb of an evil warlord. With your help I can give them their rightful king back.

TOBIAS: (angrily) After you ripped me to ribbons with your whip? I still owe you for that, Xena! I got you out of the castle because I wanted to help these people not because I wanted to help you. The only thing I want from you is my revenge and some day I will get it!

Already a good distance from the rest of the men Tobias turns to start walking again.

XENA: Fine! You want revenge?

Tobias turns to look at Xena as she removes the whip from her belt and throws it to him. Tobias catches it in surprise and Xena begins to take off her armor.

XENA: Then take it!

Xena signals Gabrielle over who promptly arrives at her side. Xena hands Gabrielle her armor. She then starts to take off her leather bodice.

XENA: If that's what you need before youíll help me restore Aldac to power then take your revenge!

GABRIELLE: No, Xena! Please!

Xena hands Gabrielle her bodice and the pushes Gabrielle away.

XENA: Stand back, Gabrielle.

Xena turns to brace herself against a tree with her bare back to Tobias. Tobias cracks the whip open. Gabrielle jumps at the sound and turns away to bury her face in Xena's clothes, unable to watch.

Xena waits, her knuckles white against the tree as Tobias cracks the whip again and readies himself to take the first strike, the muscles tensing under the striped hide on his back.

Gabrielle starts to cry.

XENA: Come on. It's what you want, right? After four years to finally be free from your hunger for revenge.

Tobias pauses and then roars out in anger as he throws the whip on the ground and drops to his knees. Xena turns and straightens to face Tobias as Gabrielle rushes to hand Xena her clothes.

EXT. OUTSIDE THE CASTLE ENTRANCE - DAY

Xena, with the King's army behind her and Tobias at her right hand, rides up to the castle entrance to peer at Claxion's soldiers all poised on the castle wall. Claxion appears among them with Boren at his side.

XENA: Surrender Claxion!

CLAXION: No!

Xena glares up at him

XENA: Claxion you dirty, no good, minotaur faced, son of a scum sucking slave trader! When I'm through with you your army won't know which way to run to desert you 'cause you'll be scattered in little pieces across the countryside!

Claxion's face turns a beet red at the insults.

CLAXION: No one speaks to King Claxion that way!

Enraged, Claxion throws a rope over the castle wall and quickly descends it. Xena signals her men to stay back as she dismounts Argo and meets Claxion on the ground.

CLAXION: I'm not the same man you met four years ago. After that incident I had to build up my reputation by beating every man who I wanted to soldier for me. Four years of fighting has left me more than ready for an encounter with you.

Claxion attacks Xena and the two battle, each giving and receiving many hard blows and vicious strikes. The men on the walls and the king's soldiers cheer them on.

After both are bloodied Xena manages to disarm Claxion and pin him to the ground with her sword at his throat.

XENA: (lowers her blade) Get up, Claxion.

CLAXION (enraged) NO! You humiliated me once! I won't let you do that to me again! Either I kill you or you give me the death of a warrior you denied me four years ago!

With that Claxion lunges at Xena with a knife he has pulled from his clothes. In defense Xena plunges her sword into Claxion's gut. He falls to the ground, dead.

For a moment there is silence as the men stop cheering. Suddenly, they all yell in battle lust and arrows and spears fly as the war begins.

The king's men rush the castle wall with ladders.

Sword drawn, Xena is the first one up a ladder where she kills a couple of Claxion's soldiers and throws them over the wall. She fights off another couple of men as she makes determined progress toward the crank for the castle gate.

With the crank in view and more of Aldec's men breaching the wall, she fights off one last man. As she throws her attacker off she looks up to see Boren standing by the the crank swinging a bola.

Boren throws the bola at her feet and Xena lowers her sword. The blade slices the leather line and the balls sail past her.

Boren quickly has another bola in his hand which he slings at Xena's face.

Xena catches the bola and immediately starts to swing it. She throws the weapon at Boren. It wraps tightly around his neck.

BOREN: Gaak!

Choking from the line on the bola Boren backs away desperately trying to pull the device off of his throat. He backs into the edge of the castle wall and tumbles over.

Xena leaps to the crank for the castle gate and opens the gate to a flood of the king's men.

The war rages and the king's men and Tobias quickly gain control.

Claxion's men begin to surrender.

EXT. CASTLE COURTYARD - DAY

Xena, with Gabrielle beside her, shakes King Aldac's hand as the king stands beside Tobias.

ALDAC: Four years ago I would have sacraficed my own life to see you dead. Now, I want you to know if you ever need my help I will be there for you.

Xena nods in appreciation.

ALDAC: Thank you for giving me my kingdom back.

XENA: (smiling) Try to hang onto it this time.

ALDAC: I think with the help of my new captian-of-the-guard I might be able to do that.

Aldac slaps Tobias on the back who smiles at him.

Xena steps up to Tobias and looks at him deeply.

XENA: You never got your revenge.

TOBIAS: (smiling) Revenge already had me, I finally threw it off. Now I've got something better...an old friend back.

Xena smiles at him and they grasp forearms in a firm hand shake and hold tightly for a moment. Xena then releases Tobias arm to take Argo's reins from Gabrielle. Xena and Gabrielle turn and start to leave the fortress.

GABRIELLE: So, Aldac doesn't want you dead anymore; Tobias is no longer poisoned with revenge, and we got off Claxion's table. (a pause) Think you'll make it to the Ellysian Fields now?

Xena smiles and shrugs.

XENA: Well, I just might.

Xena and Gabrielle take a few more steps away from the castle.

GABRIELLE: You know, at least when we were shackled together I always had a captive audience for my stories.

Xena laughs.

XENA: You don't need shackles to captivate me Gabrielle.

FADE OUT

END OF ACT FOUR

The End


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