Convert this page to Pilot DOC Format
by Sherrie Johnson (a.k.a. TrueBlue)
posted to the Forum on 12/27/96
posted to Tom's page on 1/12/96
TEASER FADE IN: EXT. VILLAGE - DAY A MAN surreptitiously peers around a wall to watch the door of a building across the street. People enter and exit the building casually and other villagers walk down the road on business. The dumpy little fellow, Cleavous, wears dirty, ragged clothes and his hair hangs around his face in greasy strands. He pauses in his surveillance of the building as another MAN, this one tall, thin, less dirty but wearing clothes just as ragged, strides quickly up to him. The two hide conspiratorially behind the wall. CLEAVOUS Did ya' get it, Dueter? The other man smiles and pulls a small, narrow necked urn from under his clothes. Cleavous smiles as he takes the object and examines the plain metal container. CLEAVOUS Excellent! It's an exact duplicate! DUETER (smiles) I got it from the same metal shop. And look, Cleavous... Dueter takes the urn back, removes the lid, and shakes a piece of parchment out of it. He holds a blank parchment up to show Cleavous. DUETER See? We'll fold it up and stick it inside in case someone checks for the parchment. CLEAVOUS Good! Lirron should be leaving that tavern soon... (gesturing to building) ...and then when we get a chance we'll switch this urn for Lirron's. Pertox's soldiers can track him all across Greece thinking he still has the real one. The two laugh devilishly as Dueter stuffs the parchment back in the urn. A soldier shouts and a woman screams in the distance and Dueter and Cleavous quickly stop laughing and grab each other in fright as they watch five mounted mercenaries race into the town. As the men approach the tavern one mercenary points to a black horse tied up nearby. The soldiers all stop their horses and quickly dismount. The men gather ranks and draw their swords. They rush the tavern door with the first soldier shoving a passerby out of his way as he enters. Dueter and Cleavous, still clinging to one another in fear, watch as the last soldier enters the building and the door swings shut behind him. The tavern is quiet for a moment and then suddenly the voices of men in battle rises from within the tavern. Dueter and Cleavous watch wide-eyed as a chair sails through a window. There are more shouts, a couple of men scream and then with a loud CRASH the tavern door shatters as a soldier flies backwards into it. The soldier lands in the street and painfully rolls to the side. Cleavous and Dueter look at one another in surprise and then look back to the building to see a second soldier fly backwards out of the door. A third soldier follows propelled head first out a window. A forth soldier then exits the building by sliding through the doorway on his face. And then a very slight young MAN holding an urn identical to Dueter's walks up to the doorway from the inside. The young man eyes the men on the ground. Dueter and Cleavous look at one another surprise. DUETER and CLEAVOUS (simultaneously) Lirron? CLEAVOUS Maybe he's tougher then we thought. The small man then glances over his soldier. He quickly steps to the side and XENA appears in the doorway with the fifth soldier in her hands. The back of the soldier's collar is in Xena's right hand and the seat of his pants is in her left. With a mighty heave the soldier joins his squad in the street. Xena steps out of the building and gives the men a threatening look as they hurry to mount their horses. GABRIELLE, staff raised, exits the building to stand a step behind and to the left of Xena as the soldiers ride away. Lirron, a head shorter then Xena, steps up to her side and Xena ushers Gabrielle and Lirron back into the tavern. Dueter and Cleavous step back behind the wall and look at one another. CLEAVOUS I think things just got more complicated. INT. TAVERN - DAY Gabrielle and Lirron walk toward a back table as Xena strides behind them. Xena's careful attention is on the men in bar as the men right the tables and pick up chairs. Gabrielle's attention is on Lirron and Lirron's attention is completely on his urn. Gabrielle begins to sit down at a table, choosing the seat with her back to the room, but Xena gently takes her arm and leads her to the chairs against the wall. Gabrielle takes one of those and Lirron sits down with his back to the bar. Xena sits down next to Gabrielle and Lirron puts the urn on the table. XENA They were after that? LIRRON Yes. They are soldiers for a man named Pertox. Just one of several mercenaries after what's inside. GABRIELLE You were telling us that it had to be delivered to the Oracle at Delphi. LIRRON I was a servant for the warrior Rabel whose mission was to deliver the urn. (a beat) He got killed. XENA (surprised) Rabel? GABRIELLE You knew him? XENA Yes. I knew him. (a pause) He was a good man. Gabrielle takes a moment to look at Xena in concern. XENA What's in the urn? Lirron looks at Xena with suspicion. GABRIELLE You'll never get it to Delphi on your own. We could help you. We were going right past Delphi, anyway. Xena looks at Gabrielle and Gabrielle returns the look sheepishly. GABRIELLE (looking at Xena) Well, not right past...a little out of our way... (looking to Lirron) ...a lot out of our way. But if it's really important we could make a detour... (glancing at Xena) ...maybe. LIRRON I don't know what's in the urn. I've been afraid to look. The last three men who knew what was inside got killed. (a pause) Rabel knew what was inside. That makes four. Gabrielle looks to Xena hopefully. Xena glances back at Gabrielle under heavily lidded eyes and then returns her gaze to Lirron. XENA If Rabel thought it was important enough to give his life for then that's good enough for me. (a pause) If you'd like we'll deliver the urn to the Oracle for you, Lirron. You're welcome to come along but we'll be able to travel faster without-- Lirron raises his hand to stop Xena in mid sentence. LIRRON I've heard of you, Xena. XENA (interrupting) I've changed. I'm not a warlord and treasure seeker anymore. LIRRON No, no, not that. I mean, I've heard that you used to be wicked but I've also heard that now you've done lots of good things. In fact, a lot of people around here consider you a her-- Xena quickly stands up, her swift movement stopping Lirron in mid word. Xena grabs the urn off the table as Gabrielle stands up beside the warrior. XENA (to Lirron) If you're not coming with us you had better leave this village quickly. Don't go the same way you came. Those soldiers will be returning with reinforcements soon. Lirron stands up, shakes Gabrielle's hand, nods to Xena, and leaves. Xena sets the urn on the table as she begins to adjust her weaponry. Gabrielle quickly grabs the urn and grits her teeth as she yanks on the tightly attached lid. Xena claps her hand over Gabrielle's forcing Gabrielle to cease trying to open the urn. XENA We know everything we need to know. We must deliver the urn to the Oracle at Delphi and there are men who will try to stop us. GABRIELLE But-- XENA The last four men who knew what was inside are now dead, remember? Xena gives Gabrielle a look of warning and then turns to head for the exit. Gabrielle "hurumphs" and then, holding the urn, begins to follow Xena out. EXT. TAVERN - SAME Xena steps out of the building with Gabrielle following. As Gabrielle walks out one of the mercenaries steps out from behind the tavern to watch them leave. As the women walk away Gabrielle puts the urn up to her ear and gives the urn a good shake. FADE OUT. END TEASER ACT ONE FADE IN: EXT. CAMPSITE - DAY The urn, strapped to Argo's saddle, jiggles as Xena drops the saddle onto a large fallen log beside her horse. Gabrielle tends to a small carcass roasting on a spit as she watches Xena with the saddle. XENA We should make Delphi by tomorrow evening. We'll miss the wedding celebrations in Linnopolis. GABRIELLE And I'm sure you're awfully disappointed about that. Xena shrugs and a smile tugs at her mouth. XENA Could you brush down Argo? It will be dark soon and I want to check out the area and make sure no one is camped nearby. GABRIELLE Sure. Gabrielle gets up and walks over to the saddle as Xena picks up her sheathed sword from the ground and straps it onto her back. Gabrielle reaches into the saddle bag to grab the brush and as she does so she takes a moment to look at the urn as it glints in the sunlight. Gabrielle glances up to Xena who is watching her carefully. Xena wags a finger at Gabrielle in warning and Gabrielle quickly turns to pull out the brush. XENA I'll be back soon. The warrior steps out of the campsite and disappears into the forest. Gabrielle begins to brush Argo down and talks to the horse soothingly. GABRIELLE There ya' go girl. We covered a lot of ground today, didn't we. Gabrielle is distracted in her duties by the urn and she stops to eye it intently. She quickly returns to vigorously brushing the horse but soon the girl again stops to look at the urn. Gabrielle looks over her shoulder in the direction Xena had left, peers through the trees, and then quickly steps over to the saddle. She sets the brush down and begins to free the urn of the leather straps that restrain it. Argo whinnies at her. GABRIELLE I'm not going to open it. I'm just going to look at it. Gabrielle looks at the urn. GABRIELLE And listen to it. Gabrielle shakes the urn briskly by her ear but it makes no sound. GABRIELLE I'm not going to open it, but if it should open by itself accidentally... whoops! Gabrielle "drops" the urn hard on the ground. It lands intact. Gabrielle picks up the urn and looks at it in consternation. She clasps the lid in her right hand and begins to yank on it hard. GABRIELLE (straining) Okay, I am going to open it. Argo whinnies again. GABRIELLE Oh, be quiet! And if you tell Xena about this you're in big trouble. The lid pops off and Gabrielle smiles. She looks inside but can't see anything. She starts to put her hand into the mouth of the jar but withdraws it when she finds the neck too tight. Gabrielle then turns the urn upside down and holds it over her head as she peers into it. GABRIELLE There's a parchment inside. Gabrielle lowers the urn and, still holding the object upside down, begins to shake it briskly. Nothing comes out. Gabrielle crams her hand into the mouth of the urn and fumbles for the paper. GABRIELLE I got it! Gabrielle starts to draw her hand out of the urn but stops as she encounters some resistance at the neck of the urn. She gets a better grip on the metal urn and again pulls at her hand. Again, she cannot get her hand out. Gabrielle's eyes widen as she begins to realize that she is stuck. She plants her feet and anchors the urn under her arm. She pulls back with all her strength but her hand stays trapped inside the urn. XENA Looks like we are alone for now. Startled, Gabrielle spins around to find Xena entering the campsite. Gabrielle quickly hides her hand and the urn behind her back. Xena walks over to the fire and begins to poke at their dinner. XENA I think this is done. Can you hand me that knife? Gabrielle slowly squats down to pick up the nearby knife. Careful not to reveal the urn to Xena she steps beside the warrior and hands her the blade. Xena takes it. XENA There are still a couple of people on the road. GABRIELLE (distractedly) Do you think they'll be a problem? XENA (dramatically) Nah, but you never know when the most harmless looking people will jump out of the bushes and try to kill you. With those words Xena begins to get Gabrielle's attention. Xena continues to speak as she slices the joints off the spit. XENA Yep. One minute you're sleeping like a baby or talking to your best friend and the next minute you're fending off an attack from a band of cut throats. Gabrielle looks nervously into the spooky forest. XENA Surprises, Gabrielle. Always watch out for surprises. It's when you let your guard down that you get hurt. Xena grins and laughs greedily as she cuts a particularly delicate morsel from the beast. Suddenly a bird makes a loud racket as it spooks from a nearby bush. Startled, Gabrielle spins around toward the noise. A loud DONG echoes through the campsite as Gabrielle accidentally but solidly strikes Xena on the back of the head with the urn. Xena jumps to her feet, the knife held toward Gabrielle in defense. Gabrielle looks at Xena appalled, glances at the urn on her hand and instinctively sticks it behind her back. Then, sheepishly, Gabrielle brings her hand forward to show Xena the urn attached to it. Xena growls. XENA Actually, this shouldn't even be a surprise. EXT. CAMPSITE - NIGHT Xena slits open a succulent plant leaf and scoops out the slimy green gel inside. Gabrielle grimaces as Xena slathers the substance around her already very greased wrist. XENA Okay, lets try it again. Xena picks up a nearby rag, wipes her hands clean and throws the rag onto the ground. She grabs hold of the urn and adjusts her grip. Gabrielle braces herself. XENA Ready? Gabrielle nods. Xena begins to pull and Gabrielle struggles to maintain her footing. Then, with a slow SUCKING sound, the urn releases its captive. Xena stumbles back a couple of steps and Gabrielle lands on her rear in the dirt. She quickly smiles at her free hand. GABRIELLE Thank the gods! I was beginning to think I would never be free of that thing. Gabrielle flips some green slime off her hand as Xena looks inside the urn. GABRIELLE Here, what's this? Xena looks up to see Gabrielle grab a piece of parchment off the ground. XENA Gabrielle! The warrior quickly steps over to the bard but the girl already has the folded parchment open. GABRIELLE I think it's a map. At first Xena is hesitant to look at the document but her attention becomes drawn to it. Xena eyes it closely and then reaches over to hold a corner of the parchment. XENA Can you read this language? GABRIELLE Um, kind of. It says, "Temple of the Serpent". Gabrielle points to some other markings on the map. GABRIELLE This word is "change" but I can't read the rest of this paragraph. XENA It's a diagram to navigate the maze in the Temple of the Great Python. GABRIELLE By Delphi? XENA Uh hum. This map goes from the entrance of the temple to the Python's lair inside. GABRIELLE I thought the god Apollo had killed the Python monster. XENA The Python survived and retreated into it's temple. It cursed the passageways to make it impossible to find the lair. Every hallway leads back to the temple entrance. Xena takes the map from Gabrielle to examine it more closely. XENA Even Apollo has not been able navigate the maze. GABRIELLE So Apollo's worshippers at Delphi want to give him the map to the Python's lair? XENA Yes. The people of Delphi hate the Python for she leaves the temple at night to feast upon their livestock. I imagine they would dearly love to give Apollo this map. GABRIELLE (pointing to the map) What are the hash marks at the intersections? XENA I don't know. Numbers maybe? GABRIELLE With this map we could kill the Python ourselves. Xena folds the map briskly and begins to stuff it back in the urn. XENA Oh, no! We'll leave the Great Python to Apollo. All we have to do is get this map to the Oracle. GABRIELLE (smiles) Then it's as good as done! In camaraderie Gabrielle claps her hand onto Xena's shoulder but the contact results in a squishy SPLAT sound. Xena's eyes narrow. Gabrielle sheepishly lifts her hand as sticky lines of green slime extend from her palm to Xena's shoulder. EXT. CAMPSITE - LATER Xena ties the urn to the saddle which still rests on the log near Argo. Gabrielle sets a few more sticks next to the fire. A twig SNAPS behind Gabrielle and she turns to look in that direction. Gabrielle quickly grabs her nearby staff and turns to check Xena's location but Xena has already disappeared. GABRIELLE (quietly) Pertox! Suddenly, two men scream in the forest and Gabrielle braces herself. FADE OUT. END OF ACT ONE ACT TWO FADE IN: EXT. CAMPSITE - SAME Gabrielle braces herself, holding her staff defensively, as two men scream in the forest. Suddenly, Dueter and Cleavous burst into the campsite with Xena between them holding each by the ear. The men grimace and whimper and Xena brings them to their knees before the fire where she releases them. Both men grab their painful ears. XENA What were you two doing sneaking around our campsite? CLEAVOUS (pleadingly) We weren't sneaking. We got lost in the dark. We are tired...and hungry...and cold. Dueter and Cleavous do their best to look pitiful. CLEAVOUS And scared. There are criminals in these woods. Xena eyes the men suspiciously. XENA There ARE criminals in these woods. CLEAVOUS We mean you no harm. We were just looking for a little kindness. A crust of bread you could spare? The bones from your dinner? The two men greedily eye the uneaten rabbit parts that hang on the spit next to the fire. Cleavous looks at Xena hopefully. Xena coldly looks the men over and after a moment, with a slight gesture of her head, indicates her consent and the men dive for the meat at the fire. Gabrielle slowly lowers her staff and hands over the remnants of a loaf of bread beside her. The men thankfully take the small offering. GABRIELLE I'm afraid we don't have much to give you. CLEAVOUS Then we are doubly thankful for what you have offered. The men continue to eat as Xena and Gabrielle watch. CLEAVOUS You know, if you ladies would like some protection on the way to Delphi my partner and I would be happy to offer you our services as escorts. XENA (suspiciously) How did you know we were going to Delphi? CLEAVOUS (nervously) Well, the road to Delphi is just over that hill. Xena's eyes narrow suspiciously. XENA Mmmm. Delphi is one town along that road. GABRIELLE I thought you said you were scared of the criminals in this forest. Cleavous looks at her sheepishly while Dueter anxiously waits to hear his reply. CLEAVOUS Well, maybe we were the ones looking for protection. Dueter smiles and nods his head enthusiastically. Xena looks them over yet again as Gabrielle waits for Xena's response. XENA You two don't look like you have much to steal. I doubt if any robbers would bother with you. Dueter and Cleavous turn their heads to look at each other and their ratty clothes. XENA Still...you're right. There are criminals in these woods. You can stay here for a little while but you'll leave when I tell you. Cleavous nods his head briskly and smiles in appreciation. Dueter follows suit. EXT. CAMPSITE - LATER The men sit close to one another as they warm their hands by the fire. Gabrielle stands nearby as she carefully watches them. She strolls over to Xena who leans against a tree, also watching the men. GABRIELLE (quietly) They look pretty harmless to me. XENA They probably are, but just to be safe I don't want them around tonight. Go get the blankets. Gabrielle nods and steps away. Xena walks over to the men. XENA Thanks for your company but it's time you were leaving. CLEAVOUS I wish you would reconsider. Dueter knows a couple of good stories. XENA Fortunately, I get to hear good stories all the time. Xena turns and pokes at the flames to invigorate the fire. Gabrielle spreads the blankets nearby and sits down on one. While the women aren't looking Cleavous quickly eyes the urn attached to the saddle and he digs his elbow into Dueter's side, pushing him toward Gabrielle. Dueter is hesitant at first but then slowly steps toward the bard. Then he quickly sits down beside Gabrielle much to her surprise. CLEAVOUS Dueter can be very entertaining. Gabrielle leans away as Dueter leans in to give her a big, rotten toothed grin. Xena fails to notice Dueter's' advance. XENA I'm sure you two are a barrel of fun but -- Just then Dueter lunges at Gabrielle and throws his arms around her as he gives her a great big kiss. The stunned Gabrielle immediately begins to resist. Xena looks up at the commotion wide-eyed. Then her gaze grows cold and she gets up to dangerously stride toward Gabrielle and her attacker. BY ARGO Cleavous quickly steps up to the saddle bag and pulls the duplicate urn out of his clothes. BY THE FIRE Gabrielle jumps over the fire and drags her forearm across her lips, spitting on the ground. Dueter screams nearby as the sound of PUNCHES echos through the campsite. OVER THE BLANKET Xena holds the trembling Dueter a foot off the ground by his throat. Dueter's face slowly starts to turn purple and then Xena drops him on the ground. Dueter grips his throat and gasps for air. Xena leans dangerously over him. XENA (darkly) Run! Dueter scampers to his feet and quickly flees into the forest. BY ARGO Cleavous is manipulating something under his clothes. XENA What are you doing by my horse?! Cleavous jumps and cries out in surprise at Xena's sudden appearance behind him. He spins around. CLEAVOUS Nothing! I...I... XENA Get out of here! CLEAVOUS But...but... Xena takes a couple of menacing steps toward him. Cleavous backs away fearfully. CLEAVOUS I just...if you'll let me... XENA OUT! Cleavous falls over in his attempt to turn around as quickly as possible. He jumps to his feet and runs away. Xena checks the urn which still rests tied to the saddle and turns her head to watch Cleavous and Dueter disappear into the forest. Xena looks over to Gabrielle. GABRIELLE (annoyed with herself) That should have never happened. He surprised me. XENA Are you okay? GABRIELLE I don't think Dueter has brushed his teeth since Zeus was in diapers. Xena smiles at Gabrielle, puts a hand on her shoulder, and leads her back toward the fire which burns warmly. INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT A low fire burns in the hearth of a finely decorated bedroom. Behind the curtains of a large four posted bed a BOY of about thirteen years sleeps peacefully. On the floor next to his bed the huge, scaled body of a SERPENT glides along. The head of a python, several feet across, rises beside the sleeping boy and it's forked tongue slips in and out of it's huge, grinning mouth. EXT. VILLAGE STREET - DAY Xena and Gabrielle walk down the bustling main street of Delphi. Xena holds the urn securely in one hand as she leads Argo with the other. Xena looks around in concern as several city soldiers run through the area and men can be heard shouting in the street. Villagers gather in small groups and speak anxiously. Bits of conversations such as, "Did you hear?" and "The prince of Linnopolis" sprinkle through the crowd. XENA These people are awfully jumpy, Gabrielle. Keep your eyes peeled for Pertox's men or anything else that doesn't look right. Gabrielle takes a moment to notice the reactions of the villagers. GABRIELLE Why is Pertox after the map, anyway? Does he want to tangle with the Great Python himself? Xena's eyes move suspiciously over the crowd and she lowers her voice as she responds to Gabrielle's question. XENA Pertox wants the treasure in the Python's lair. GABRIELLE (perking up) Treasure? XENA Yes. The Python used to have a great many followers in Delphi who gave her gifts of gold and jewels. She keeps the treasure in her lair and guards it carefully. GABRIELLE What happened to her followers? XENA One by one she ate them. After that she had a hard time finding new disciples. GABRIELLE No doubt. Xena and Gabrielle arrive at the Temple of the Oracle. Xena hands Argo's reins to an attentive boy nearby and passes him a piece of copper. Xena and Gabrielle walk up the temple steps as the boy leads Argo away. INT. ORACLE'S TEMPLE - SAME Xena and Gabrielle enter the ornate temple and are greeted by a PRIEST. PRIEST The Oracle is not receiving visitors-- XENA We have the map for the Temple of the Serpent. The priests eyes widen and he quickly glances at the urn Xena holds. PRIEST Wait right here, please. Xena nods and the priest quickly hurries to a large set of doors. He pushes the doors open to reveal the ORACLE involved in a fervent discussion with several men. The priest interrupts the Oracle who immediately tries to brush him away. The priest persists and whispers something in her ear. The Oracle quickly turn to glance at the visitors. She waves the men away and walks toward Xena and Gabrielle. ORACLE The map? XENA Yes. Xena holds up the urn and puts her hand on the lid but the Oracle quickly puts her hands over Xena's to stop the movement. ORACLE No. Wait. The Oracle then gestures to a couple of priests in the room and points to the windows. The priests begin to pull the heavy drapes shut on the windows and the Oracle herself goes to a window to block out the sun with the curtains. ORACLE The Great Python fears little but she fears the mighty Apollo. She wants to keep the map from him and has cursed its parchment. The map will burst into flames if touched by sunlight. Xena and Gabrielle look at each other and the last curtain is drawn. The priests light the torches in the very dark room and the Oracle steps toward Gabrielle and Xena. ORACLE You have delivered the parchment just in time. The son of a visiting ruler was abducted from Delphi by the Serpent last night. GABRIELLE Last night? ORACLE The King of Linnopolis was in Delphi to negotiate the shared borders of these two lands. He had brought his son along observe the process. Now he blames the leaders of Delphi for the loss of the boy. If the prince is not returned to his father soon there will be war. XENA You think the boy is still alive? ORACLE Yes, but not for long. When ever the Serpent leaves her lair to find a meal she spends the next day counting her treasure to make sure none was stolen while she was gone. When her treasure is all accounted for she will feast upon her victim. GABRIELLE (appalled) Feast?! Xena's gaze hardens. ORACLE For years the Python has contented herself with small horses and dogs for her dinner. Only occasionally did an unlucky villager who stumbled across her at night get eaten. XENA So why has she kidnapped the Prince? ORACLE She is angry about the appearance of the map. She wants to frighten the people of Delphi into turning it over should they come across it. But even if she has the map, the people of this city will know no peace until the Python is destroyed. GABRIELLE (nervously) And...Apollo is going to destroy her. Right? ORACLE Yes. As soon as I have the map I can give its instructions to him. Apollo still has time to enter the Serpent's temple, destroy the monster, and save her victim but when the sun sets Apollo will be gone. If we don't get the map to him by then the Python's victim will be doomed. GABRIELLE (to Xena) Give the lady the map. Xena opens the urn and reaches inside. She pulls out the parchment and hands it to the Oracle. As Xena and Gabrielle watch over the Oracle's shoulder she opens the folded parchment. The women look at the parchment for a moment and Xena and Gabrielle's eyes widen in surprise. Xena snatches the paper from the Oracle and holds the document close to the torchlight as she examines it. Then she looks up from the blank paper, her eyes icy cold and her jaw hard. Xena's fists tighten around the parchment and it crushes in her hand. She throws the parchment down in disgust. XENA When I find those two I'm gonna'... Rage flares in Xena's face as she strides toward the door and exits the building leaving Gabrielle and the Oracle behind. GABRIELLE Well, I'm not an Oracle, but I bet I can predict what's going to happen when she finds them. EXT. SERPENT'S TEMPLE - DAY Dueter and Cleavous look up at the temple entrance as Dueter holds the real urn under in his hand. The temple rests along an overgrown road in the dense forest. Its walls are impressive despite the shrubs and vines that cover it. A large, black bruise circles Dueter's left eye. CLEAVOUS There it is. The Temple of the Serpent. DUETER No guards or anything? CLEAVOUS What does the monster need guards for? No one can find their way inside. (smiles) Not without this map. Cleavous puts his hand on the lid and begins to open the urn. He stops, however, as Dueter begins to question him. DUETER What about that warrior woman? Do you think she's found out about the switch yet? CLEAVOUS We've got more dangerous things to worry about, like that python inside. But don't worry, my plan will work. DUETER Last time I followed one of your plans I got this. Dueter gestures to his shiner. CLEAVOUS Quit complaining. Ya' got to kiss a pretty girl, didn't ya'? Dueter smiles lecherously and giggles. CLEAVOUS This creature has to sleep sometime. When it does we'll just sneak into its lair and help ourselves to a couple of little trinkets. We'll fill our pockets and leave. Then we'll be able to get an even better price for the map because we'll have proof that it's legit. DUETER I don't know, Cleavous. Cleavous opens the urn and sticks his pudgy fingers inside. CLEAVOUS Oh, don't be such a coward, Dueter. XENA (OS) AyeYiYiYiYi Dueter and Cleavous shout and grab each other in fright as they look down the road at Xena who is approaching them at full gallop on her horse. CLEAVOUS Quick! Into the temple. She'll never be able to follow us! Dueter runs for the entrance and Cleavous takes a couple of stumbling steps as he tries to pull the parchment out of the urn. XENA Cleavous, stop! Xena rides up to the frightened and running Cleavous. She quickly dismounts Argo and lunges for the man but just as she does so he pulls the map from the urn and it immediately bursts into flames in his hand. Xena watches the flames in horror. FADE OUT. END OF ACT TWO ACT THREE FADE IN: CLEAVOUS Yiiii! Cleavous throws the flaming item into the air and almost instantaneously the document is consumed. Xena watches wide-eyed as it rains down to the ground as little, white ashes. Cleavous beats out the flames on his sleeve and curses as he shakes his burnt fingers in the air. Xena angrily turns and grabs him by the collar and drags the frightened man to her face. EXT. RURAL ROAD - DAY Dueter and Cleavous march along with their hands tied in front of them and a rope tethering them to Xena's horse. Cleavous now has a black eye to match Dueter's. Gabrielle, carrying her staff, comes running up the road to meet Xena who rides Argo. The warrior looks down at the bard in concern. XENA What is it? GABRIELLE (panting) Xena. I've come to warn you. Pertox is in the area. He's raised a whole army and he's looking for you. Some of his scouts are located on the road just up ahead. Gabrielle points down the road toward Delphi. XENA Great. GABRIELLE Did you get the map? XENA The map is gone, Gabrielle. It got exposed to the sun. GABRIELLE (shocked) The Prince... XENA We're not going to be able to save him now. We'll have to go back to Delphi and tell the Oracle what happened... (a pause) and get the residents ready for war. Gabrielle steps over to Dueter and Cleavous who fearfully back away from her. GABRIELLE (angrily) Thanks to you two a boy is going to die and two kingdoms are going to war! CLEAVOUS Not to mention the treasure-- GABRIELLE Who cares about the treasure! XENA Here. Xena throws Gabrielle the rope for the captives. XENA Watch these two for a little while. I'm going to go over that hill to see if I can find a clear route back to the city. Gabrielle takes the rope and Xena rides off. Dueter eyes Gabrielle carefully while the wheels begin to turn in his head. Gabrielle turns to look at the two behind her and then at the area. She notices a large tree off the road. GABRIELLE Come on. (pointing to the tree) We'll watch the road from over there until Xena returns. Gabrielle begins to lead the two along and Cleavous looks over to Dueter, get's Dueter's attention with a few quick movements, and then gestures to Dueter by clutching at his own chest. Dueter nods. As the three approach the tree Dueter dramatically grips his chest with his tied hands, teeters and collapses in apparent unconsciousness. Gabrielle hurries to stand over him. GABRIELLE What's wrong with Dueter? CLEAVOUS He had a terrible fever once and it's left him with a weak heart. We've been walking all day and he can't take the strain. GABRIELLE What can we do? CLEAVOUS If you loosen his clothes and raise his legs that usually brings him around. Gabrielle quickly drops her staff and kneels down. She begins to fumble with Dueter's clothes and Cleavous steathfully picks up her staff with his tied hands. Suddenly, Dueter lunges at Gabrielle. Her grabs her arm with his tied hands. Gabrielle briefly tries to yank her hand away but then responds with a solid punch to Dueter's face. Dueter falls back with his tied hands over his right eye but it is too late. Cleavous swings the staff up and clubs Gabrielle on the back of the head. Gabrielle falls unconscious. Cleavous drops the staff and Dueter jumps to his feet, nursing his face. Quickly, the men begin to untie each other. DUETER Hurry, Cleavous! We've got to get back to the Serpent's temple. CLEAVOUS What do we care about the temple now? The map is gone. DUETER (smiles) I have a copy of it. CLEAVOUS (excited) Where? Dueter taps his skull. DUETER Right here. I memorized it last night while you were sleeping. CLEAVOUS Memorized it? DUETER Yep. (closing his eyes) Left, one; right, one; right, three; straight... (opening his eyes) A contingency plan in case the warrior or Pertox got the map Cleavous smiles and claps his friend on the shoulders. CLEAVOUS (smiling) Ha! I knew you were cleaver. Anyone who can read the language on that map can't be that stupid. Dueter smiles at the backhanded compliment. DUETER Let's go! Dueter starts to take off for the temple but Cleavous stops him. Dueter looks at Cleavous in confusion as Cleavous studies a berry bush nearby. CLEAVOUS No, wait. I know how we can deal with that Python, or get someone else to deal with her for us. Cleavous smiles. EXT. RURAL ROAD - LATER Xena rides to the spot where she left Gabrielle. She looks around in concern and then spots Gabrielle struggling to get up nearby. Xena hurries to dismount her horse and she runs to Gabrielle's side. Gabrielle shakes the cobwebs from her head as Xena helps her to her feet. GABRIELLE I can't believe it! I let those two surprise me again! Xena looks around for Cleavous and Dueter but finds them gone. She growls lowly under her breath. Xena begins to walk with Gabrielle toward Argo when she spots a curious pile of mashed, red berries on the ground near where Gabrielle had been lying. Xena kneels down to examine the oddity. GABRIELLE (looking at the pile) What is it? XENA Blood berries. Their juice is used to make dye for cloth. Xena picks up a thin reed nearby. Gabrielle kneels down to peer at the pile. GABRIELLE It's fresh. XENA Very. GABRIELLE (sniffing) They smell sweet. XENA They are inedible and will stain your teeth red for weeks if you try to eat one. Xena stands up and looks around curiously. Gabrielle stands up beside her. Xena catches of whiff of something in Gabrielle's direction. Xena's gaze narrows and she leans in to smell Gabrielle's neck. GABRIELLE (surprised) What...what...? XENA You smell sweet. GABRIELLE I haven't touched the berries. Xena steps around Gabrielle still nosing at her neck. She stops at Gabrielle's back and to Gabrielle's surprise the warrior grabs Gabrielle's shirt and pulls it up. XENA The map. GABRIELLE (confused) What? Xena pulls the shirt down. XENA The map. They wrote it on your back under your shirt. Gabrielle turns around to face Xena and then looks over her shoulder in an effort to see her own back. GABRIELLE Why did they do that? Xena looks off in the direction of the temple and the setting sun. XENA They know now that I'm not interested in the treasure. They figured if they gave me the map I would try to rescue the Prince and kill the Python. We'd leave with the boy and they could go in and take all the treasure they wanted without fear of the serpent. GABRIELLE But why on my back?! XENA They couldn't find any parchment I suppose. And they don't want the map falling into Pertox's hands. He'd take all the treasure for himself and use the money to finance his raids. GABRIELLE Do we have time to get the map back to Apollo. Xena watches the top edge of the solar disk disappear over the horizon. XENA No. INT. SERPENT'S TEMPLE - NIGHT The frightened Prince scampers into the corner of an iron cage. Before him the cage door slams shut and the head of the huge python hovers before the bars. Wrapped in its tail is a large key and the Python inserts it into the cage lock and bolts the door. The Python deposits the key on a hook and slithers its way through neatly stacked piles of treasure and gold that glint in the light of torches that encircle the cavernous room. The monster stops before a particular stack of treasure and one by one begins to move gold coins off the pile with its tail as it counts. EXT. SERPENT'S TEMPLE - NIGHT Xena on Argo, and Gabrielle in the saddle behind, ride up to the temple. They quickly dismount and Gabrielle rushes for the temple entrance as Xena takes Argo's reins. XENA Gabrielle! Wait! Suddenly, men swarm from the thicket. Quickly, Gabrielle is captured and a knife is pressed to her throat. More men jump out to surround Xena, all with their weapons drawn. Xena eyes the men coldly. INT. TENT - NIGHT Gabrielle and Xena lie tied up on the floor of a torch lit military tent. Two guards stand nearby and PERTOX, a huge man bedecked in armor and weapons, enters the tent. He moves to stand menacingly over the women. PERTOX (demanding) Where is the map? XENA Your guards have already searched us, Pertox. You know we don't have it. PERTOX You don't have it. The Oracle doesn't have it. Well, somebody has the map and you were the last one with it. XENA It was stolen from us. PERTOX Then why did we catch you headed for the temple entrance? Xena is silenced by the question. PERTOX Uh huh. You do have the map. He draws a dagger and holds it close to Xena's face. Gabrielle eyes the dagger fearfully. PERTOX Tell me where it is...or I start cutting. Xena's lips narrow as she clamps her mouth shut. Pertox face twists in anger. His fist tightens around the hilt of his blade as he prepares to carry out his threat. GABRIELLE No, wait! Pertox's eyes dart toward Gabrielle and he lowers his knife. He steps over toward the bard. GABRIELLE There's no need to get nasty about this. We both have something the other needs. We have the map and you have the army to kill the Python. We could make a deal with you. You know, a percentage of the treasure. You won't get anything if you kill us. Pertox looks at Gabrielle thoughtfully. GABRIELLE Untie us and I bet we can resolve this to everyone's satisfaction. At Gabrielle's words the corners of Xena's mouth go up in a smile meant to be friendly but instead having the effect of raising a man's hackles. Gabrielle, however, smiles at Pertox charmingly as he suspiciously looks the women over. EXT. TENT - LATER The torch lit canvas of the tent glows amid the trees in the dark forest. PUNCHES can be heard from inside and the heavy THUDS of men hitting the ground. Xena promptly exits the tent, carefully looking around for guards. She doesn't see any and signals to Gabrielle who hurries to Xena's side. XENA Well, I don't know about Pertox but I found that satisfying. Come on. Xena and Gabrielle quickly leave the area. EXT. TEMPLE - NIGHT Four SOLDIERS mill about by the temple where two burning torches rest in sconces by the entrance. Gabrielle suddenly appears from the forest holding her staff casually in her right hand. The men jump to readiness and form a quick line. They draw their swords and point the glinting blades at Gabrielle. SOLDIER Stay where you are! GABRIELLE It's okay. You don't have to worry about me. Xena leaps behind the men and grabs the helmeted heads of the two middle guards which she promptly cracks together. GABRIELLE Her, however, you should worry about. The middle guards collapse in unconsciousness. The two other guards spin around and Xena promptly disarms one by kicking the sword from his hands. SOLDIER (shouting) The prisoners! They're escaping! Gabrielle runs up behind the fourth guard who is shouting the warning. Holding her staff horizontally she pulls it over his head and yanks the bar tight against his throat, pulling the back of his head to her chest. He drops his sword. SOLDIER Gaak..! Xena kicks the solder she has disarmed and he flies backward onto the ground. Several soldiers run into the area in response to the call. Pertox is right behind them. Gabrielle releases her captive and he drops to the ground gasping for air. Xena grabs one of the torches by the door and the two women run into the temple. The soldiers begin to follow but Pertox orders them back. PERTOX (nursing his jaw) No, wait. Don't bother going in there. We'll never find our way through. We'll wait here for them. If they battle the Python and survive they'll have to come out sooner or later...and we'll be ready for them! Pertox waves his soldiers back and the men back away into the forest. INT. TEMPLE - NIGHT Xena and Gabrielle run down the winding passageways, Xena carrying the torch before them. They come to an intersection in the hallways and stop. The women look down the halls. Xena hurries around to behind Gabrielle and yanks up her shirt. GABRIELLE (panting) What's it say? XENA There's an arrow pointing left and then a "one". I don't know what the number is for. GABRIELLE Left it is. Xena releases Gabrielle's shirt and the two women head left. LATER Xena races around a corner with Gabrielle behind. Xena quickly halts and puts a hand in front of Gabrielle to stop her. The women look down the hall and see the outside world through the temple entrance. A soldier casually walks past the entrance and the women duck behind the corner. GABRIELLE We must have taken a wrong turn. Xena gestures her head down the hall and the two turn to run back in the direction they had come. EXT. SERPENT'S TEMPLE - NIGHT Dueter and Cleavous hurry toward the temple along the dark road. Dueter now has two black eyes to Cleavous' one. CLEAVOUS Well, we've given her plenty of time. Either the warrior has killed the Python or she's snake chow. Dueter and Cleavous step up to the temple but shout in surprise as Pertox's men leap from the forest. A very brief scuffle ensues and Cleavous is solidly punched in the face which quickly ends the fight. The soldiers hold the pair tightly and Pertox strides up to Cleavous with a very self- satisfied smile. PERTOX Cleavous, you rat! Cleavous holds his hand over his injured eye and looks at Pertox nervously. CLEAVOUS Pertox, the mightiest warrior in all of Greece! Let me say-- PERTOX I know you were the one who threw me off Lirron's trail back in Danopoli. CLEAVOUS I don't think you... Pertox draws a dagger and presses it to Cleavous' throat. PERTOX (threateningly) Shut up! Cleavous quickly shuts up as he trembles under the blade. PERTOX Why were you headed for the temple? CLEAVOUS We...we were going to take shelter in its halls for the night. PERTOX Yeah, right. In the Python's temple. You have the map, don't you. DUETER The warrior Xena has the map...actually, her friend carries it. CLEAVOUS We were wondering if she had made it to the temple yet. If not, we were going to wait for her and take it from her when she arrived. Pertox lowers his blade and steps away. The soldiers release their grip on Dueter and Cleavous who begin to relax a little. PERTOX They are already in the temple. But they are mine when they make it back out... Pertox glances at the temple entrance. PERTOX If they make it out. They've been in there a long time. Their advantage was surprise. If they didn't rush in and kill the Python as soon as they found the lair they don't have a chance. Pertox and his men step away from Cleavous and Dueter who turn to each other. CLEAVOUS (whispering) Are you sure you copied the map right? DUETER I'm positive. CLEAVOUS Did you remember the instructions? DUETER I had to put those on the bottom. CLEAVOUS Where? DUETER On the bottom. INT. SERPENT'S TEMPLE - NIGHT Xena turns a corner and again stops as she looks down the hall. Gabrielle arrives behind her and they both look at the temple entrance ahead. Gabrielle ducks behind the corner. She leans heavily against her staff and then sinks against the wall. In frustration she slides down to a sitting position. Xena steps beside her. GABRIELLE They must've copied the map wrong. XENA Come on. Xena grabs Gabrielle by the elbow, hauls the girl to her feet and begins to drag her toward the first intersection. GABRIELLE (tiredly) Xena, it's so late. We've been running around this maze all night. XENA That's right. And the Prince was kidnapped close to dawn. That means the Python will be done counting its treasure in a little while so we have to find the lair soon. Xena stops at the intersection and looks down the halls. GABRIELLE But we can't find it. We keep ending up back at the temple entrance. XENA Let me look at that map again. Xena puts the torch into a nearby sconce. She steps behind Gabrielle, pulls her shirt up and examines the map. Gabrielle rolls her eyes. GABRIELLE What are you going to see this time that you haven't seen the last hundred time you looked at it. XENA The numbers mean something but I don't know what. We're missing that paragraph. Maybe they wrote it somewhere else. Xena begins to walk around Gabrielle pulling back at different parts of her shirt looking for more writing. Gabrielle squirms in annoyance. GABRIELLE (indignantly) Hey! Xena arrives again at Gabrielle's back and again looks at the map. XENA There's something odd about this last direction. The arrow is pointing down but it's not next to a number like the others. GABRIELLE Down? Xena looks down at the floor eyeing it carefully. XENA Maybe the instructions for the numbers are down. Gabrielle turns to face Xena and then her gaze follows Xena's to the floor. Xena looks up and her eyes suddenly narrow in realization and she turns to Gabrielle. Gabrielle looks up as well and holds Xena's gaze for a moment. She looks at Xena in confusion until she slowly picks up on Xena's train of thought. Her eyes widen. GABRIELLE (shaking her head) Oh, no! INT. HALLWAY - LATER Gabrielle storms down the hallway, red faced, brushing her hands down the back of her skirt to smooth it back into place. Xena follows, torch in hand. GABRIELLE (fuming) Aargh!! If I ever get my hands on those two I'm going to kill them! I swear I'll beat them senseless and then I'm gonna' ring their necks with my bare hands-- XENA Pay attention Gabrielle. According to those instructions the passageways change. GABIRELLE Change? XENA To trigger the change a corner of the intersection must be struck. One strike for each change. The numbers on the map indicate the number of times the intersections must change before the right one appears. Xena hands the torch to Gabrielle and draws her sword. She slowly looks up and around the intersection. XENA What was the number for the first intersection? GABRIELLE One. Xena eyes her target and then swings her blade. She solidly strikes a corner of the wall and sword makes contact with the stone in a flash of sparks. The hallways meld into another, slightly different set of hallways and the women turn to run left. INT. SERPENT'S LAIR - NIGHT The Serpent winds its way through the tidy stacks of gold and treasure toward the frightened boy in the iron barred cage. It raises its large head and eyes him closely. BY THE LAIR ENTRANCE Gabrielle, holding the torch, crouches beside Xena who carefully peers around the doorway into the lair beyond. Xena's eyes widen as she looks at the frightful creature but she quickly composes herself to stare at it coldly. Xena examines the room visually and the retreats back behind the wall. She turns to speak to Gabrielle quietly. XENA I'll distract the Serpent for as long as I can. You get the boy. What ever you do, don't touch any of the treasure. Don't even look at it. If they Python thinks you're interested in stealing her gold she'll gobble you up in an instant. Gabrielle nods resolutely. Xena leans around the corner and eyes her adversary. EXT. TEMPLE - NIGHT Dueter and Cleavous conspire as Pertox and his men stand near the temple entrance. Cleavous gestures to Dueter and the two slowly and quietly start to tiptoe away. Pertox spots them. PERTOX Hey! Where do you two think you're going? Dueter and Cleavous look at Pertox fearfully as Pertox strides over to them. CLEAVOUS We...we... Pertox grabs Cleavous by the collar and pulls him close, raising his blade to Cleavous' cheek. PERTOX You still owe me for making me lose the map. I'd say that was worth at least an ear. Pertox moves his knife toward the terrified Cleavous. Suddenly, Cleavous responds with a solid knee to Pertox's groin and Pertox falls to the ground. Dueter and Cleavous dash for the temple and shove a couple of surprised soldiers out of the way. Dueter grabs a torch and the two enter the temple as Pertox looks on from the ground and roars out in rage. INT. TEMPLE - NIGHT Xena roars out in rage and lunges at the Serpent from the rear. The Python spins around in surprise to face its attacker, the blows from Xena's sword bouncing off its impervious, scaled skin. Gabrielle rushes across the room and grabs the key which hangs on a far wall from the cage. She then runs toward the cage. IN THE CENTER OF THE ROOM Xena thrashes at the Python with her sword as the Python lunges at Xena. Xena dodges a couple of blows from the Serpent's skull by leaping out of the way. She darts through the neat piles of treasure which begin to crash to the floor as the monster races through them. BY THE CAGE Gabrielle arrives at the cage. The Prince hangs onto the bars in anticipation as Gabrielle slams the key into the lock. IN THE CENTER OF THE ROOM The Python strikes at Xena with open jaws and Xena crams a gold vase into its mouth. The Python backs up for a moment. Xena looks over to Gabrielle as Gabrielle swings open the cage door. The Serpent spits out the vase and suddenly, a section of the Python's huge body slams into Xena from behind. Xena is quickly lifted into the air, wrapped in the Serpent's coils. BY THE CAGE The Prince runs out of the cage and stands beside Gabrielle as both turn to see Xena helpless in the monster's grasp. Suddenly, the Python's head appears beside them. FADE OUT. END ACT THREE ACT FOUR FADE IN: The Serpent pins Gabrielle and the Prince up against the bars with its huge body. Xena disappears in its coils. INT. SERPENTS TEMPLE - NIGHT Dueter and Cleavous tiptoe through the hallways. Cleavous now has two black eyes to match Dueter's. They arrive at an intersection and Cleavous kicks at a corner. The hallways change and the men continue on their way. DUETER Maybe we should just turn back. CLEAVOUS No. I want to know if the Python is dead. We'll just peek into its lair and find out. Besides, do you want to go back out to that butcher, Pertox. Dueter slowly shakes his head and continues to follow Cleavous. CLEAVOUS There it is! The two stop as they spot the entrance to the lair and then quickly tiptoe up to it. Cleavous hands Dueter the torch and leans to peer around the corner. INT. LAIR - SAME Cleavous looks into the lair and sees Xena, Gabrielle and the Prince all inside the locked cage. The serpent busies itself nearby arranging its scattered treasure into neat stacks. BY LAIR ENTRANCE Cleavous ducks back behind the wall and swallows hard. DUETER Is it dead? CLEAVOUS No. Come on. Let's get out of here. DUETER How much treasure is in there? Cleavous looks at Dueter and then carefully peers back around the corner. His eyes widen as he takes in all of the gold and art work. His gaze is particularly drawn to a huge diamond that sits on a gold pedestal not far from the lair entrance. Cleavous ducks back behind the wall as Dueter waits impatiently for the report. CLEAVOUS We've got to get some of that stuff! Pertox won't hurt us if we offer him just a tiny bit of that treasure. Cleavous leans back out to eye the treasure. INT. CAGE - SAME Gabrielle stands in a corner of the cage with her arm around the frightened boy. Xena holds onto the bars of the cage and peers around the room to assess the situation. GABRIELLE What are we going to do now? XENA I don't know. But when an opportunity presents itself we'd better be ready. As Xena finishes speaking the words her eyes widen as she spots Dueter and Cleavous sneaking into the room. Gabrielle catches sight of the two as well and hurries to stand at Xena's side. GABRIELLE (whispering) Those idiots are going to get themselves killed! BY THE LAIR ENTRANCE Dueter and Cleavous creep into the room. Their faces are crossed with fear and greed as they carefully eye the occupied monster and the fabulous treasure piled around them. As they reach the gold they quickly begin to stuff their pockets. Cleavous steps toward the diamond on the pedestal. A coin quietly PINGS as it falls from a stack that Cleavous has accidentally brushed against. The Python raises its huge head at a sound. It begins to turn toward the noise but Xena whips out her chakrum. She slings it at a pile of treasure stacked next to Python and the gold rains down on the Python's head as the stack tumbles over. The chakrum returns to Xena and in anger the Python lunges at the cage. It skids across a loose pile of gold coins on the floor and it's huge head slams into the cage bars, bending them inward slightly. Dueter and Cleavous stop momentarily in fright to watch the scene. Dueter then runs to the diamond and Cleavous dives for a jeweled crown. GABRIELLE (watching the pair) No! No! The Python shakes its head groggily and then turns to spot the intruders. Cleavous wraps his hand around the diamond and he stops for a moment as he listens to a very quiet SHUSH. He looks up and his eyes widen in terrible fear. Dueter, holding onto the crown, looks up in fear as well. Above them towers the Python. INT. LAIR - LATER The Python snoozes among the piles of treasure. About a third of the way down her length are two large bulges in her anatomy, Dueter and Cleavous. In the cage the Prince sits in a corner as Gabrielle leans against her staff and a nearby wall. Xena leans into the cage bars as she watches the Python intensely. GABRIELLE That has got to be the most gruesome sight I've ever seen. To be devoured alive like that. I don't know how you could stand to watch the whole thing, Xena. XENA Did you see the way she unhinged her jaw to get her mouth around Cleavous? She couldn't strike or bite or anything with something like that in her throat. GABRIELLE Yeah, well, I want you to kill me first before I get eaten, Xena. XENA We're not going to get eaten. We're going to get out of here. GABRIELLE How? Xena walks over to the two cage bars that had been bent inward by the Serpent's head. She grabs a hold of one and examines the points on top and on the bottom of the bar were it is anchored. Xena grabs the bar solidly. She grits her teeth and strains as she attempts to turn the bar. Gabrielle steps beside her. The left bent bar slowly turns under Xena's persuasion. Xena turns it a quarter circle and then grabs the bent bar next to it. She turns that bar in the opposite direction, also a quarter circle, and soon the bars have formed a small opening, their curves pointed away from each other in a "( )" position. Xena hustles out of the small opening, eyeing the sleeping monster. Gabrielle quickly brings the captive to the bars and helps him to get out. The Python continues to snooze on the floor of the lair, content after its recent meal. Soon the three are out of the cage. They hurry to the lair entrance. Xena ushers Gabrielle and the Prince into the maze. XENA Every hallway leads to the entrance. You'll be out of the temple in no time. GABRIELLE Aren't you coming? XENA I'll be right behind you. Gabrielle and the Prince leave. Xena tiptoes over to the pedestal that holds the diamond and carefully lifts the jewel out of its seat. She walks silently over to the lair entrance. XENA (smiling) Hey, scale face! The Python quickly perks up, its forked tongue flipping in and out of its mouth. XENA (holding up diamond) Look what I got. The Serpent lunges toward Xena. Xena races out of the room and tears down the hall. INT. HALLWAYS - SAME With lighting speed the Python chases Xena down the twisting and turning hallways. Xena races at top speed clutching the diamond in her hand and tearing around the corners, barely ahead of the monster. EXT. TEMPLE - NIGHT Gabrielle stands outside the temple with several soldiers restraining her. The Prince is held by another soldier and the rest of Pertox's large army circles the entrance to the temple, weapons drawn. Pertox stands at the entrance. Suddenly, Xena bursts out of the temple. Right behind her is the Python which quickly stops at the sight of all the men. The men, in turn, look on with fright and surprise at the Python. The soldiers quickly release their captives and Gabrielle hurries the Prince away. Pertox stares at the monster in horror. PERTOX Kill it! Arrows and spears fly as the men attack the serpent. The weapons bounce of the Pythons armored hide and soon the men are attacking the monster with their swords. In a rage the Serpent swings its enormous body around, sending soldiers flying into the air by striking them with its flanks. Pertox lunges at the monster with his sword and begins to hack at it violently but to no effect. The soldiers begin to desert the fight in droves as Pertox continutes his attack. PERTOX The treasure is mine! The Serpent swoops down to grab Pertox in its huge mouth as the rest of the soldiers run away. Pertox screams and the monster unhinges its jaw to pull the large man further down its throat. Xena appears and leaps onto the Python which is disabled by the large object in its mouth. Xena runs up its back, leaps into the air, does an aerial somersault, and lands on the creatures head. She spots her target, the creatures right eye, and raises her sword. XENA AyeYiYiYiYiYi! Xena plunges her blade into the Serpents brain through its eye socket and the beast collapses onto the ground, dead. Gabrielle peers at the scene from a distance to watch the monster's demise. The sun blinks over the horizon. Bright beams of sunshine shoot through the pink and purple dawn sky. INT. BEDROOM - DAY Gabrielle sits in tall, metal tub of steaming water as Xena packs the saddlebags which rest on a large bed nearby. Gabrielle is busily scrubbing at her back with a long handled brush. GABRIELLE It sure was nice of the Oracle to put us up like this. XENA The people are grateful for the death of the Python. Means they won't be losing anymore milk cows or relatives as hor d'oerves, anymore and they won't be going to war. Xena walks past Gabrielle to get more things for the pack. GABRIELLE Is the map still there? Xena stops to peer into the tub at Gabrielle's back as Gabrielle holds the brush out of the way. XENA Yep. Still there. Xena steps away to pick up some fruit which rest in a bowl. XENA I told you: You're going to have to wait for it to wear off. GABRIELLE I just don't want the map to fall into the wrong hands...figuratively speaking, of course. Treasure like that tends to make people do stupid things, like Dueter and Cleavous. Xena returns to the pack. XENA Surprises, Gabrielle. Those two looked like a couple of bumbling idiots, like they couldn't read a road sign much less the obscure language on that map, but they were actually quite cleaver. They got as close to the treasure as they did because they were smart. In the end is was their greed that did them in, not their stupidity. GABRIELLE I guess all that treasure was just too tempting. XENA Are you almost done? We've got to get going. GABRIELLE I'll be done in a minute. Why don't you leave a tip on the table for the servant girl who has been waiting on us. She pressed my laundry and everything. I heard her husband is sick and can't work and they just had a new baby. Make it a nice, big tip. XENA You got it. Xena smiles, throws the saddlebags over her shoulder, and pulls out from her belt the diamond she had taken from the temple of the Serpent. Xena sets the jewel on the center of the table and walks away. The diamond glints in the sunlight. FADE OUT. END OF ACT FOUR The End.
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