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XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS
"ILLUSIONS"
by Eddie A. Palmer

Disclaimers:

If you have any comments, ideas or suggestions concerning my scripts, I would be pleased to hear from you. You can reach me at palmer555@Juno.com

© copyright 1998, Eddie A. Palmer. The characters Xena,Gabrielle, Argo, Hercules, Eolaus, Autolycus, Cyrene, and Joxer, as well as the title XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS are the copyright property of the syndicated TV series of the same name, MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in writing these scripts. All other characters, story ideas and the stories themselves are the sole property of the author. These scripts cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of thess scripts may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.

NOTE: All works remain the © copyright of the original author, and may not be republished without the authorís consent.

VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL CONTENT: The violence depicted here is relatively mild and not graphicly described. There is almost no sexual content in this script. Now, in my personal fantasies... well, I guess that doesnít really matter.

Finally, let me say, I wrote these scripts out of love for the characters and the stars of XWP. I am posting them here as a tribute to those wonderful and talented people who mean more to me than I can fully express here.



TEASER

FADE IN:

EXT. A MEDIUM-SIZE VILLAGE - DAY

Only a few inhabitants can be seen milling about in various locations. Leading Argo, XENA slowly comes down a gentle slope and heads toward the center of the village. As she calmly strolls along, she is looking around, as if expecting something to happen, yet she doesn't appear apprehensive.

Xena reacts and stops walking when she sees GABRIELLE come walking around a corner, perhaps a hundred yards away. Her friend doesn't look up, as she hurries toward a line of buildings.

XENA (projecting) Gabrielle!

The girl merely continues on her way, obviously heading for the larger central building. She clearly has a definite purpose in getting to her destination quickly.

XENA (louder) Gabrielle!

Xena watches her friend disappear into the building. She shakes her head and smiles, then moves toward the building. As she approaches the entrance, GUSHING TONGUES OF FIRE erupt from all the doors and windows. A LOUD SWOOSHING SOUND and a forceful BLAST OF AIR violently jolts The Warrior Princess. Xena recoils from the intense flames, but she quickly recovers to rush back toward the main entrance.

XENA (terrified
and frantic)
Gabrielle!

The building is now totally engulfed in a violent, roaring fire. Several villagers rush up and try to drag Xena to safety. Her arms lash out to either side and sends the men flying in all directions. With emotional pain and terror distorting her face, Xena stares into the inferno to see Gabrielle WALKING IN THE FIRE. Her friend's blond hair waves in the heat currents and bursts into flames, and her clothing burns and drops from her body. Finally, the victim falls to the floor and doesn't move, as the fire sweeps over her like a torrential flood.

XENA (charging into
the flames)
No!

A stronger blast of flames throws Xena back into the street. When she hits the ground, a group of villagers are immediately all over her, attempting to help her.

Xena springs to her feet in an insane, tearful rage. She savagely backhands half a dozen men and kicks a couple more before they can get away from her. A crowd has gathered around her, silently staring, and they start to move in on her.

XENA (screams) Get out of my way!

Xena breaks into a run, and the people scurry aside to give her plenty of room. She hurriedly mounts Argo and rides fast out of the village. As the building continues to burn and collapse behind them, the confused villagers watch Xena slowly diminish with a cloud of dust toward the distant horizon.

CUT TO:

EXT. OPEN TERRAIN - DAY

Xena continues to ride her horse hard and fast. She rapidly approaches, coming into clear view, then she streaks on her way. She grows smaller and smaller until she vanishes in the distance.

CUT TO:

EXT. THICKLY-WOODED VALLEY - DAY

Xena rides along the rather vague trail, still at breakneck speed. In her distraught state of mind she miscalculates and rides directly into a tree branch. The limb jerks her from the horse and flings her violently to the ground. She is painfully stunned and almost loses consciousness. She slowly rolls over, gets to her feet, and unsteadily walks over to a nearby spring. Weak and trembling, she kneels and splashes water on her face, then she silently watches as the water grows calm again. At last her tortured reflection is staring back at her.

XENA (quietly,
emotionless)
Warrior Princess.

She stares and waits, as if expecting a reply from her equally distraught reflection. The lengthy silence seems to infuriate her, and she snarls like a savage animal.

XENA (contempt) Warrior Princess.

She begins to cry, and then she repeatedly smashes her fist into the water. As she speaks, her words are a hateful accusation, bitter self-condemnation.

XENA (screams) Warrior Princess! Warrior Princess!

Still flailing wildly and screaming, she pitches forward into the spring. As the water splashes tumultuously, we:

FADE OUT:

END OF TEASER







ACT ONE

FADE IN:

INT. A DIMLY-LIT BARN - NIGHT

Silver light from a bright full moon filters into the place through open doors, windows, and many cracks between wall boards.

Xena shuts a stable gate, locking Argo inside. She gently caresses the horse's nose and face.

XENA (very quietly) You deserve a good night's rest,
don't you girl?

Argo blinks her eyes, and seems concerned.

XENA I'm sorry I took my pain and
anger out on you. None of this
is your fault, it's all my fault.
(a beat) I guess I really lost it
there for a while, but I'm all
right now. Everything will be OK.

Her words say one thing, but her expression tells another story. She clearly is not all right. She chokes back her emotions, gives the patient horse a final pat, then walks out the wide barn door.

EXT. A HOUSE AT THE EDGE OF A VILLAGE - SAME

Xena crosses a wide open area, drenched in moonlight, then slowly walks into the shadows at the rear of a house. She moves along the wall, passing a couple of shuttered windows, then she stops at the last window and pushes on the shutter. It is securely locked. She draws her sword and slips it smoothly into a crack at the edge of the window. With a SLIGHT CLICK the lock releases and the shutter swings open.

Xena almost smiles at her success, but not quite. She quickly looks around, spots nothing, then she climbs inside.

INT. A DARK BEDROOM - SAME

Xena closes the window shutter, walks quietly across the dark room and crawls into the bed. She pulls covers over her and stares up at the dark ceiling. Her haunted expression intensifies and suddenly bright roiling flames sweep across the ceiling.

She closes her eyes and sighs with anguish. When she opens her eyes, the darkness has returned. She quickly pulls the covers over her head.

CUT TO:

INT. A KITCHEN - DAY

A woman crosses the kitchen with a stack of pans. The large objects slip from her hands and fall to the floor with a LOUD CRASH, as we:

CUT TO:

INT. XENA'S BEDROOM - SAME

The loud crash from the kitchen jolts Xena awake. She jumps and sits up with a start and frantically looks around. Memory returning, she falls back on the bed. Her expression shows that she would have been happier if she had never woke up again.

CUT TO:

INT. THE KITCHEN - SAME

Xena emerges into the kitchen dressed in a rather simple blue dress. She appears to be uncertain about revealing herself.

XENA Hello, Mother.

Xena's mother whirls to face her daughter, looking shocked.

SERENE Xena! You startled me! XENA Sorry. SERENE What are you doing here? When
did you get here?
XENA Last night. I didn't want to
wake you.
SERENE (smiling
knowingly)
And how did you get in?
XENA (softly, with a
child-like guilt)
The window.
SERENE Yes, you were always quite
good at that, as I recall.
XENA I'm not a little girl anymore,
mother.

With that, Xena steps forward and quickly embraces her mother. The act is so sudden and forceful that Serene is startled again, and very puzzled, especially when Xena starts crying.

XENA (with tears,
brokenly)
I'm not a little girl anymore.
SERENE (fearful) Xena? (beat) Xena, what's wrong?

Xena tightly clings to her mother, crying harder, unable to speak. Serene caresses Xena's hair, staring off at nothing, and deeply dreading to hear the answer to her question.

CUT TO:

INT. SERENE'S LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

Mother and daughter sit quietly across from each other. Serene stares at her daughter with deep concern, as Xena stares at the BRIGHT FLAMES IN THE FIREPLACE. The women continue to sit unmoving in the deeply shadowed room, and the silence grows long. At last, with her eyes still locked on the fire, Xena finds her voice.

XENA (thoughtfully) Fire, beautiful and fascinating.
Fire, so ugly and so deadly. Fire
has been sort of a theme in my
life for the past several months.
SERENE What do you mean? XENA Oh, Mother, it's such a long and
pointless story. There doesn't
seem to be any meaning to it all.
Nothing seems to matter now.
SERENE Please, I would like to hear it.

As she softly speaks, Xena never takes her eyes from the flames. The intensity of her emotions is played out in her facial expressions, a tortured mask etched in light and shadows.

XENA Sometime back, I heard that a
maniac named Artemis had put
together a large army of thieves
and murderers, and that they
were terrorizing several of the
northern provinces. The thing is,
I had had a run in with Artemis
before. I had the opportunity to
kill him once, and I should have,
but I didn't do it. And because
I didn't do it a lot of people
have suffered, and many have died.
SERENE Xena, you can't blame yourself. XENA (glances at her
mother and snaps)
Yes, I can! (beat) And I did.
(she looks back
at the flames)
When I heard the news, I decided
that I would correct my mistake
and stop Artemis once and for all,
so Gabrielle and I rode north. (a beat, as Xena slowly
shakes her head)
We weren't prepared for what we
found.

Inter-cut appropriate scenes to illustrate Xena's narrative: burned villages, burning villages, bodies scattered about.

XENA (V. o.) Town after town burned. Crops
burned. Farms and houses burned.
Sometimes the fires were still
burning when we got there. Dead
bodies lay thick in the roads
and the fields. The few survivors
would wail and beg for mercy, or
they would just sit and stare, as
dead inside as their families and
friends scattered around them. It
was a terrible wasteland of vast
destruction and death. The ditches
and streams ran red with blood.
SERENE (V. o.) (the horror is clear
in her hesitant voice)
Xena, what did you do?
XENA (V. o.) (bitterly) What do you think? (beat) The
Warrior Princess took charge of
the situation. I scoured every
corner of that desolate land to
find volunteers and I built an
army with one mission, to seek
and destroy an inhuman monster.
At last, we caught up with them,
and we cut them to pieces! No
prisoners allowed.

As Xena has talked, we have seen her gathering her army, the determined band riding furiously across large open fields, then through the burned villages. Finally, the mighty armies clash in an overwhelming decisive battle.

Then, as Xena's mostly-ragtag army looks on, Xena meanders among the many dead bodies. With sword in hand, she occasionally stoops to turn over one of the dead, sometimes she merely kicks them over to reveal their lifeless faces. When the last body is examined, Gabrielle looks on in horror as Xena becomes enraged and begins violently kicking several of the dead bodies. Gabrielle raises her hands toward her friend, saying something, obviously pleading for Xena to stop what she is doing. Xena ignores her young friend and walks passed her without comment. Still angry, Xena lifts her sword as high as she can and waves to her waiting, confused army, as:

SERENE (V. o.) (uncertain) Then, when it was over, you came
home.
XENA (V. o.) It wasn't over. Artemis and maybe
a dozen of his men escaped and
fled to the south, but the Warrior
Princess wasn't about to lose her
man, so I convinced all but a few
of my followers to go on. We rode
south, following easy tracks left
my frightened and desperate men.
SERENE (V. o.) What about Gabrielle? XENA (V. o.) I dragged her right along with
me, of course. No problem. I
could protect her and wage war,
too. We did it all the time.
SERENE (V. o.) I knew Gabrielle, too, Xena. You
didn't drag her anywhere. She was
where she wanted to be.
XENA (V. o.) Exactly. With me. And now she's
dead. (a beat) Anyway, we reached
the eastern plains, and that's
where the tracks just vanished.
They just vanished like magic! I
lost more than half my army when
they turned back for home. I could
have stopped then, too, but that
wasn't even an option. The rest of
us pushed on south. For days we
didn't find anything, then we came
across this caravan traveling east.
The leader was some kind of Sheik
or something, named Zindar. He and
his motley group looked harmless,
but his covered wagons could have
concealed a small army. I flatly
told him I was going to search his
wagons. He just smiled politely
and was very cooperative. He said
to search all we liked. The funny
thing is, he just kept on watching
Gabrielle. He hardly took his eyes
off her. Finally, he came right
out and asked me what I wanted fo
r her. Cute little blondes, it seems,
are rare in his part of the world.
He wanted to add her to his harem.
I told him she was my friend, not
my property, but the real joke is
on me. With me she found death. If
I had let Zindar have her, at least
she would be alive.
SERENE (V. o.) (incredulous) You don't mean that, Xena. You
can't look at things that way.
That's just crazy talk.
XENA (V. o.) Of course, it is. So, with little
Gabrielle in tow, we rode farther
south. We searched those plains
all the way to the mountains, but
Artemis and his men had vanished
without a trace. We back tracked
until we came across Zindar's
unmistakable trail. That's when
the rest of the men gave up and
headed for home, but not the
Warrior Princess and her loyal
sidekick. Not knowing what else
to do, we followed Zindar. A few
days later, we came to a village.
I left Gabrielle in a grove of
trees, and told her to stay there
until I checked out the village.
In the village, there wasn't a
sign of Zindar or Artemis, or
anything suspicious. A couple of
the locals said the Zindar party
had passed through days before,
and had continued toward the east.
I rode out and looked for tracks,
but I couldn't find anything, so
I went back to get Gabrielle. She
was gone. She must have got tried
of waiting for me and went into
the village to find me. I went
looking for her, and I found her.
I called to her, but she didn't
hear me. She went into a building
and it just went up in flames. I
watched her die in the fire, then
I don't remember much after that.
Eventually, I found my way here,
more from instinct than will.
SERENE (V. o.) This is your home, Xena, and home
is a place to heal. You will heal.

INT. SERENE'S LIVING ROOM - SAME

Back on Xena, as the bright firelight flickers on her troubled face. All seems lost and hopeless.

XENA (quietly) Some wounds never heal, Mother.
(beat) But I've been thinking a
lot about the future. I want to
try to get back to a more normal
kind of life. I was wondering if
maybe I could help you out with
things around here, just until I
make some decisions about things.
SERENE (forces herself
to smile)
I would like that. You know you
can stay for as long as you like.

Xena looks back at the flames and slowly nods.

XENA (whispers) Thank you. Thank you, Mother.

FADE OUT:

END OF ACT ONE







ACT TWO

FADE IN:

INT. SERENE'S ESTABLISMENT - DAY

It is a bright and beautiful day and business is brisk. A large noon crowd has packed the place to capacity. Serene is busy in the kitchen area, rushing to keep up with the demand. Xena is out front, greeting customers and taking orders.

Serene places a large filled tray on a counter, and Xena is immediately there to take it. She walks to the center of the crowded room and looks around, as if she has forgotten where the order goes.

She looks in one direction and sees Gabrielle sitting there. She turns and sees Gabrielle sitting at another table. She spins around, only to see another Gabrielle. The large room is suddenly filled with Gabrielle's. Xena's wild spinning continues until the loaded tray crashes to the floor and jolts her back to reality. She glances around at the silent, staring crowd, then hurries off toward the kitchen, as:

XENA Excuse me.

Serene is suddenly there to block her daughter's path. She takes Xena by the arm, concerned.

SERENE Xena, what's the matter? XENA I just got dizzy for a moment.
I just need a few minutes.

Serene releases her, and Xena disappears through a rear door. An elderly woman steps up to Serene and laughs slightly.

OLD WOMAN It's easy to see what's wrong
with her.
SERENE What do you mean? OLD WOMAN (lifting her index finger) Why she's pregnant, you just
mark my word. Serene, you're
going to be a grandmother!
SERENE (fake smile) Wouldn't that be wonderful?

INT. THE BARN - SAME

Xena enters, an apple in hand, and crosses to Argo's stable. She caresses the horse's face, then feeds her the apple.

XENA How are you doing, girl? I guess
you're wondering what's going on
here, huh? You haven't been left
so much alone in a long time. If
I wasn't there, Gabrielle would
be there for you, wouldn't she?
Oh, I know you two pretended not
to get along, but you can't fool
me. You miss her, too, don't you?

The CREAKING SOUND of a door hinge, draws Xena's attention. She turns to see Serene entering the barn.

SERENE I thought I might find you here.
Is there anything I can do?
XENA I'm all right, really. Everything
just started closing in on me
there for a minute, and I had
to get some fresh air, that's
all.
SERENE Ah, yes. A good place to get
some fresh air, a stable. I
certainly can smell it now.
XENA You know what I mean. SERENE (more serious) Time, Xena. You have to give it
some time.
XENA I know. (nods) I know. SERENE I know this isn't the time to be
discussing this, but when is the
time ever right, right?
XENA (puzzled) Are you trying to ask me something? SERENE You're not pregnant, are you? XENA (shocked, with
outstretched arms)
What!?

Argo neighs objectionably, and stares at them. Xena glances at the animal.

XENA (to the horse) You can say that again!

Xena looks back at her mother, who suddenly looks embarrassed. Serene smiles lamely and shrugs, gesturing aimlessly.

SERENE (quietly) I really didn't think so.

Off Xena's deeply puzzled expression, we:

CUT TO:

INT. SERENE'S KITCHEN - MORNING

Xena enters from the bedroom looking bright and well rested. She even hums a bit as she crosses to the tea pot. She pours half a cup of tea, then lifts it to smell the aroma. Smiling, she turns to encounter her mother, just standing there quietly regarding her.

XENA Mother, I didn't hear you come in. SERENE (smiling) Now you know how I feel. XENA Which did you like the least? When
I would sneak up on you, or when I
would sneak away from you?
SERENE I didn't like either, and you know
it! I couldn't keep up with you. I
didn't know where you were half of
the time. Unfortunately, that has
gotten much worse in recent years.
Of course, as you said, you're not
a little girl anymore.
XENA (hopeful) You know where I am now, and maybe
I can make up for some of those past
times if I ask your permission now.
SERENE My permission? XENA To go for a walk in the village. SERENE (smiles) Oh, Xena, that's wonderful! I'm so
glad that you're finally feeling
better. It will do you good to get
out and see things and do things.
To be with people and to see how
all the ordinary folks live for a
change. Yes, by all means, you go
and have a wonderful time!

Xena sits the cup on a table.

XENA With all my travels, you still
make the best tea, Mother.

Serene smiles again, as Xena turns away and walks back through the house, heading for the front door.

EXT. A NARROW LANE IN AMPHIPOLIS - SAME

Xena strolls around a corner, occasionally exchanging a nod and a smile with passersby. She turns into an even narrower walkway that runs along the edge of an open-air market. Buyers and sellers are scattered throughout the place, but not really nearby, so Xena is pretty much alone in this spot.

After a few carefree paces, Xena suddenly freezes in her tracks. Her happy face is again clouded with pain and uncertainty. She sees Gabrielle walking down the narrow walkway toward her. Xena just stares as the girl comes closer and closer.

Xena looks away, shakes her head, then looks back at the girl again. Gabrielle is still coming toward her. The girl walks right up to Xena and stops directly in front of her.

GABRIELLE Excuse me. What are you doing? Xena quickly and tightly grabs her by the shoulders. XENA You're real! BLONDE GIRL (puzzled) Well, I should think so!

Xena suddenly realizes it isn't Gabrielle, and she quickly releases her and steps aside.

XENA I'm sorry. I thought you were
someone I knew.
BLONDE GIRL (easing carefully
by Xena)
Excuse me.
XENA (recovering) Yes, of course. No problem.

Xena can't take her eyes off the blonde girl as she walks away. Near the end of the lane, a brut of a man rushes from an alley to confront the girl. Even from her distant position, Xena can tell the girl is frightened.

THE BRUT (roars angrily) Where do you think you're going? BLONDE GIRL (about to cry) I just can't take it anymore! I'm
leaving you!

The brut grabs the girl and shoves her against a table loaded with a variety of fruits and vegetables.

THE BRUT (grabbing her) You're my wife, and you'll do as
I say!
(he backhands her)
Is that clear, or do you want me
to give you some more of this?
(he raises his fist)
XENA Oh, please, sir, I want some!

The brut turns to see Xena standing at his side. He is thoroughly confused by her presence and her words. He clearly doesn't have time for this meddlesome woman.

THE BRUT Go away.

Xena picks up a squishy piece of fruit and smashes it on his chest, then she smears it all down the front of his shirt.

XENA (insistent) I said, I want some!

The brut becomes more sullen and puffs up, turning red with rage, but he struggles to hold it in. The young blonde girl quickly looks back and forth between Xena and her husband.

Xena smiles mischievously and lightly pokes the brut in his heavy gut. The angry man snarls at Xena like a threatened animal.

XENA Oh, come on, now! Give me some!

The brut lunges for Xena. She steps aside, trips the man, then bends down to guide his trajectory right through a stack of wooden crates. He comes to rest on the ground, under the end of a table.

XENA Oh, my goodness! Here, let me help
you up.

Xena reaches down and grabs the brut by his shoulders, then she quickly jerks him upward. His head smashes through the heavy table, splintering half the boards. As the flying debris subsides, Xena holds the brut by his neck, and stares into the dazed man's distorted face.

XENA Are you all right?

He doesn't reply, so Xena punches him hard in the nose.

XENA I said, are you all right? THE BRUT (very weakly) Yeah.

There was already a bloody cut on his forehead, and now blood streams from his nose.

XENA Oh, my! Mercy me! Let me help
you wash that off.

Xena drags the brut forward, trips him again, and guides him headfirst into a water trough. He madly splashes around, then gets to his feet.

XENA Now you're all wet! Please let
me help you out.
THE BRUT (terrified) No! Please don't help me anymore!

The blonde girl comes running up behind Xena, rushing to comfort her husband.

BLONDE GIRL Oh, honey!

Xena whirls around, grabs the girl by the arm, and she's right in her face.

XENA (firmly) Don't you dare! Maybe I should
soak your head in that trough
for awhile! You were leaving,
now leave, and don't go back!
BLONDE GIRL You're right. Thank you. Thank you!

Xena watches the girl run down the narrow lane and disappear around the distant corner. Xena turns away and walks off. The drenched brut has gotten out of the water, but he is so anxious to get out of Xena's way, he falls back into the trough. Xena shrugs at the gaping witnesses, and walks on.

FADE OUT:

THE END OF ACT TWO







ACT THREE

FADE IN:

EXT. A STREET IN AMPHIPOLIS - SAME

Xena slowly walks through a somewhat cleaner part of town. A small street lined with various shops and houses. Very few other people can be seen, as Xena unhurriedly walks along, looking all around. She stops now and then, contemplating one of the small shops, then she moves on. Finally, she decides to enter one of the places.

INT. CURIO SHOP - SAME

Xena e nters and hesitates just inside the door to look around. It is somewhat difficult to tell if the place is a souvenir shop or a jewelry store, but there are clearly some expensive items displayed around the room.

The elderly proprietor is standing behind his counter, but no one else is in the shop.

PROPRIETOR May I help you, young lady? XENA I'm just looking, I guess. PROPRIETOR Please, go right ahead. Stay as
long as you like. I have many
shiny and beautiful things, but
it is amazing how you brighten
up the place.
XENA (smiles) I bet you do a good business with
the ladies.
PROPRIETOR (laughs lightly) I do, but none as beautiful as you.
You're Xena, aren't you? Serene's
daughter, so you came by your
beauty honestly. You were always a
wonderful and beautiful child.
XENA Thank you, but I'm sorry- PROPRIETOR Oh, there's no reason you should
remember me, but it's nice to see
you again. I hope you are enjoying
your visit home.
XENA I am. Thank you.

Xena spots an object on a nearby shelf, and she walks over to examine it more closely. It looks like a sculpture or perhaps some kind of instrument. It has three concentric rings, and vaguely resembles a gyroscope. Xena carries it to the counter and sits it before the proprietor.

XENA What is it? PROPRIETOR Beats me. Some guy in Athens
makes them. He's into art and
mathematics, can you believe it?
XENA Don't ask me why, but I like it.

Xena turns, as two men rush into the shop. A big man and a bigger man, obviously real scumbags. The big man has a big sword, and the bigger man has a bigger sword.

BIGGER MAN (laughs) I told you noboby'd be in here. An
old man and a woman. We can clean
out this place and be gone before
anybody knows! (a beat) Now, Don't
anybody move!

Xena slowly reaches out to delicately touch the bigger man's sword with the tip of one finger. The two men watch her with intense interest.

XENA (smiles) Oh, my! You have a really big one,
don't you!?

The two men eye her more quizzically. Xena suddenly grabs both men by their sword hands.

XENA (giggles) Hey, let's compare his to yours!

Xena violently smashes their fists together. They cry out in pain, as the swords crash to the floor. Xena grimaces and looks terribly sorry for what she has done.

XENA (remorseful) Oh, let me make it all better!

She springs forward, tightly hugs their necks, and smashes their heads together. They crumple to a heap on the floor, unconscious. Xena turns back to the proprietor.

XENA (re: her sculpture) How much for this? PROPRIETOR Are you kidding? It's on the
house, and I insist!

Xena smiles, picks up the object and heads for the door.

XENA Thank you. I'm sorry I made such
a mess.
PROPRIETOR I'll just throw them out with the
rest of the garbage.
XENA They already smell like week-old
fish. I suggest you wear gloves.

Xena disappears through the door, with her unusual sculpture.

EXT. STREET RUNNING THROUGH THE MARKET - SAME

Xena is walking along the street, making faces at the object in her hands, as if wondering why she wanted the thing. Suddenly a woman screams shrilly in the distance, and Xena looks up to see the woman running as fast as she can down the street.

WOMAN (loud, desperate
cry)
My baby! Please, my baby!

Xena looks beyond the running woman to see a small child running away from the frightened mother. Then, Xena spots something else even more frightening, a runaway wagon is rapidly bearing down on the child.

Xena immediately reacts and her right hand goes to her hip. She regretfully remembers that her chakrum isn't there. She looks at the object in her hands, then smashes it against a stone wall, breaking it into pieces. She quickly grabs the larger ring and springs up to the top of a building.

Xena dashes to the distant corner of the roof and forcefully flings the metal ring. The make-shift chakrum flies over market stalls and villagers' heads, ricochets off the wall of a distant building, then cuts and ricochets its way through the large pieces of netting used for shading in the market.

The netting and some support poles collapse, turning the wagon away from the wayward child. As the wagon maneuvers in her direction, Xena runs and somersaults into the wagon. As she climbs into the seat, the driver turns to her.

DRUNKEN DRIVER (with a slur) Lady, I don't pick up hitchhikers!

Xena shoves the drunken driver away, takes the reins, and stops the wagon. She jumps to the ground and, as several men come running up, she tosses them the reins and walks away. With very perplexed expressions, the men watch her go.

INT. SERENE'S HOUSE - SAME

As Xena enters, Serene looks up and smiles.

SERENE Now, admit it, wasn't it good to
get out and just have a normal
day for a change?
XENA You're right about one thing,
Mother, this has been about the
most normal day I've had since
I got here.
SERENE What's this? You came back empty
handed. No shopping?
XENA (fakes a smile) Oh, I just looked around. Don't
want to have too much fun all in
one day, now do we?
SERENE (laughs lightly) Yes, I suppose you have a good
point there.
XENA (walking out) Actually, I think all this fun has
exhausted me. Mind if I turn in
early?
SERENE Not at all.

CUT TO:

INT. SERENE'S PLACE - DAY

Half a dozen rough-looking soldiers are seated around a table eating and talking, as they all keep a lustful eye on Xena. She passes the soldiers' table on the way back to the kitchen, and they playfully nudge one another and laugh.

An elderly couple enters and takes a table at the far end of the room. Xena returns from the kitchen area and heads for the new arrivals, but she is interrupted by the groping hand of one of the soldiers. Like the snap of a whip, Xena grabs the soldier's hand and bends it back toward him. He grimaces with pain and cries out, and we hear the BONES CRACKING.

XENA (a firm
warning)
You can look, but don't touch.

Xena releases the soldier and walks away. The other soldiers laugh loudly at their rebuked friend. The rejected soldier's physical pain gives way to hurt pride, and then anger.

Xena goes directly across to the elderly couple.

XENA (smiling) May I help you? ELDERLY MAN Do you have lamb roast? XENA It's a specialty of the house.

The angry soldier comes up behind Xena. Xena, as if she has eyes in the back of her head, reaches back and painfully grabs the soldier's nose. She then smiles again at the elderly couple.

XENA Please, excuse me for a moment. ELDERLY MAN Certainly.

Xena whirls around and furiously backhands the soldier across his face. She then gives him a quick kick in the gut. The soldier flies across the room and lands in the center of the soldiers' table, which collapses into pieces.

All six soldiers jump up and rush toward her. She slaps a couple to the left, kicks a couple to the right.

Serene comes from the kitchen and stands at the edge of the room watching, more uncertain than frightened. A woman comes up beside Serene, obviously a busybody.

BUSYBODY That's your daughter, isn't she? SERENE (sarcastically) That's my daughter. (a beat) It's
just so hard to get good help these
days, know what I mean?

The busybody gives Serene a strange look and slowly moves off.

Xena quickly moves to finish off the last two soldiers still standing. She kicks one through a wooden room divider and, with a mighty kick, hangs the last one over a high rafter. Then, she immediately turns back to the still-waiting elderly couple. She looks at them and blows a strand of hair from her face.

XENA Would you like fries with that?

She takes a deep breath and exhales, waiting for a reply. The elderly couple just looks at one another.

CUT TO:

INT. SERENE'S HOME - NIGHT

Xena is again sitting in front of the fireplace, silently staring at the flames. A persistent knocking at the front door finally gets her attention. She gets up and walks across the room to open the door.

She is surprised to see who the visitors are, but she can't quite bring herself to smile. She steps back and AUTOLYCUS and JOXER enter.

XENA (dreading what she must tell them) Please, come in. I'm surprised to
see you two together, but I'm glad
you're here. (beat) I'm afraid I
have some bad news.

Xena closes the door and leads the way back to the fireplace.

JOXER (quickly) Well, I think we should go first. AUTOLYCUS (scowling at Joxer) Yeah, wait, Xena, let me tell you
my news first.
XENA (irritated, and very sad) What's so important that you two
can't wait to spit it out? Why
did you come all the way here?
JOXER (smiling, eagerly) Because we need your help to go
and rescue Gabrielle!
AUTOLYCUS (to Joxer, with disapproval) Didn't we discuss this? Break it
to her easy, I said. Yes, of
course, you said. Remember!?
XENA (stunned) What kind of a sick joke is this? AUTOLYCUS It's true, Xena. XENA I saw her die right before my own
eyes. She perished in a fire!
AUTOLYCUS Zindar is a master illusionist. You
saw precisely what he wanted you to
see.
JOXER Get it? It was all a trick! AUTOLYCUS She gets it, now shut up! XENA (realization) A trick? Gabrielle is alive? AUTOLYCUS (quietly) Yes, Xena. XENA (demands, grabbing
his shirt)
You're sure?
AUTOLYCUS Yes, Xena, I'm sure. (beat) They
took her to Zindar's palace, along
with Artemis and his men.
XENA How do you know all this? AUTOLYCUS I was there. Artemis and his bunch
likes to get drunk and brag about
how they outsmarted the Warrior
Princess. (a beat) They met up out
there on the eastern plains and
struck up this great friendship or
partnership or something. Artemis
and his men were right there in
those wagons when you searched them
, but you couldn't see them.
JOXER Magic! AUTOLYCUS Even their horses were right there
in plain sight, or they would have
been in plain sight if you could
have seen them. (laughs) Understand?
XENA (with contempt) Oh, I understand a lot of things
now. (a beat) We're going after
Gabrielle, all right, but let me
make one thing clear, Artemis and
Zindar are going to die!

Joxer, reacting to Xena's rage, looks uncertainly from Xena to Autolycus. Autolycus frowns and shakes his head.

AUTOLYCUS (re: Joxer) I ran into him on the way here. I
wish I hadn't. (beat) Look, Xena,
it isn't going to be easy getting
in and getting out with Gabrielle,
but I have some ideas.
XENA (somberly) I have some ideas, too, but we can
talk on the way. Just give me a
moment.

With that, Xena walks out of the room. Joxer opens his mouth wide, but no sound comes out. Autolycus quickly raises his index finger.

AUTOLYCUS (stern warning) Not another word.

Joxer closes his mouth and sheepishly looks around.

INT. SERENE'S HOME - SAME

Wearing her leather outfit and armed with her weapons, Xena comes out of her bedroom. She suddenly stops and stands staring across the room.

Xena's mother is standing nearby, silently looking away. Spotting her, Xena looks regretful and just stands there for a moment, then:

XENA (uneasily) I don't quite know what to say. SERENE As your mother, I'm tempted to
beg you not to go, but I know
you have to go. So, I'm tempted
to say something mundane and
foolish like be careful, but I
know my daughter. I'm going to
say the only thing that makes
any since.
(she turns to
face Xena)
Give them hell, Xena!
XENA (giving Serene
a quick hug)
You can count on it, Mother!

FADE OUT:

END OF ACT THREE

ACT FOUR

FADE IN:

EXT. COURTYARD OF ZINDAR'S PALACE - NIGHT

Musicians stop playing and a group of dancers end their dance, and all file out of the performance area.

The spacious area is elegantly landscaped, partially paved, and rimmed with fancy architecture and statues. Strategically placed large torches effectively light the whole area.

A large crowd fills the place, sitting on piles of colorful cushions and puffy pillows. Most of the quests are males wearing traditional Arab robes and head garments, mostly bright white. Many are wearing dark-colored head bands.

Sitting on a level slightly higher and to the rear of the main crowd, Zindar looks on. Artemis and his men are seated nearby.

A wave of surprised whispers sweeps through the audience, and some are pointing. Gabrielle, Zindar and Artemis look to the left end of the garden. Something vaguely resembling a curtain shimmers faintly into view now and then. Everyone is totally dumbfounded by the strange sight.

The CLOAK OF INVISIBILITY drops to the ground, revealing Autolycus and Joxer. The enthusiastic crowd laughs and applauds. Autolycus and Joxer bow, smile and wave.

AUTOLYCUS Wow, have you ever seen so many
sheiks in one place?
JOXER Yeah, and pillows, too! It kinda
makes me sleepy.
AUTOLYCUS (vexed) Sheiks not sheets, you idiot! JOXER Oh, yeah, that, too. AUTOLYCUS (firmly) This is no time for a nap. We're
party crashers, remember?
JOXER Yeah, yeah!

Gabrielle can't believe her eyes, at first she just stares at them with astonishment, then a smile blooms.

Artemis looks at Zindar, who simply shrugs, then the puzzled sheik also applauds and smiles.

LOUD POPPING SOUNDS draw all eyes to the other end of the plaza, in time to see large CLOUDS OF COLORFUL SMOKE billowing up to obscure a large area, then the smoke quickly fades away to reveal HERCULES and EOLAUS standing there. The pleased crowd applauds even louder.

Gabrielle is now totally amazed. She smiles with joy and quickly brings her hand to her mouth.

EOLAUS (coughing and
waving his arms)
All this smoking can't be good
for your health!
HERCULES I agree, but look on the bright
side, these guys will probably
kill us first.
EOLAUS (laughs) Always the optimist!

Back on Artemis and Zindar, as the crowd roars with joy.

ARTEMIS Is this part of the show, are not? ZINDAR (puzzled, but still smiling) Perhaps it is a surprise! ARTEMIS Yeah, that's what I'm afraid of!

By this point, Gabrielle is almost beside herself. She looks expectantly all around, knowing in her heart what is coming next. One hopeful word escapes her lips:

GABRIELLE (quietly, yet
desperately)
Xena.
XENA (O.s.) (loudly) Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!

Gabrielle looks up with everyone else, to see a flying carpet streaking high overhead, leaving a sparkling spray of "star dust" behind it. Taking the ride of her life, the Warrior Princess smiles and waves.

Tears fill Gabrielle's eyes and she starts to cry, but her emotions abruptly give way to laughter, then she looks at Artemis and Zindar and forces herself to be very calm.

GABRIELLE Gentlemen, you can kiss your butts
goodbye!

Artemis is already on his feet, running back inside the palace, as his men hurry to catch up with him.

Finally realizing they are under attack, everyone is either fighting or running to escape the danger. Autolycus and Joxer are being swarmed, but they are holding their own.

Hercules and Eolaus seem to be drawing a larger crowd, but they are rising to the occasion, punching surprised faces, kicking out teeth and violently flipping opponents.

As the flying carpet swoops lower, Xena GIVES HER BATTLECRY and tumbles down to the surface near Gabrielle. Zindar comes running and smiling, as if to greet her.

ZINDER (overly exuberant) You must teach me all these truly
wonderful tricks!
XENA (approaching) Oh, I'll be glad to, if you ever
wake up!

With that, Xena knocks Zindar for a loop, then she turns and gently takes hold of Gabrielle's shoulders and gazes into her friend's face.

XENA (hesitantly) I thought- GABRIELLE (with a nod, softly) I know. XENA Artemis? GABRIELLE (with a glance) He ran inside.

Xena briskly walks away, toward the palace entrance. Gabrielle starts to follow.

XENA Stay here. GABRIELLE He isn't alone. XENA (still walking) Stay! And stay out of trouble. Gabrielle looks around at the mayhem raging everywhere. GABRIELLE (incredulous) Stay out of trouble?

Hercules, Eolaus, Autolycus and Joxer are still furiously at it, but they have just about cut the mob down to size. The battle is already winding down.

INT. A ROOM IN A PALACE TOWER - SAME

Xena cautiously enters and stops, sensing something.

Instantly, attackers rush at her from either side. She springs upward and flips in the air, then lands a safe distance away. The charging horde violently crashes together, rendering most unconscious.

Xena then kicks the remaining few against the wall, and they slump to the floor and don't move. Xena smugly looks around at her work, then approaches the open balcony doors.

EXT. PALACE TOWER BALCONY - SAME

Xena, holding her sword in front of her, walks onto the balcony. She quickly glances left, then chooses to go right. She moves slowly, because there are corners everywhere.

Artemis suddenly bolts from one of the nooks and savagely swings his sword downward at Xena, knocking her sword from her hand. She jumps back as he swings his sword back and forth, moving toward her.

ARTEMIS (laughs loudly) What now, Warrior Princess? I'll
tell you what, you're mine!

Xena keeps easing away, until her back encounters the low balcony wall. She is at the end, with no escape route open to her. She stands unmoving, staring at Artemis with contempt.

ARTEMIS (shouts) I've waited a long time for this moment, Xena!
(Roars)
I've dreamed of this moment!
XENA (with disgust,
firmly)
So have I.

Artemis screams and charges toward his prey, ready to thrust his sword for the kill. Xena spins around and VANISHES! Artemis plunges over the low balcony wall, and again screams, as he falls to his death.

In another spot, only a few feet away, Xena lowers the cloak of invisibility and reappears. She looks at the shimmering fabric in her hands.

XENA Neat.

She drops the cloak, snaps up her sword, and departs.

EXT. THE PALACE COURTYARD - SAME

The fighting has ended, with the losers lying down and the winners standing up. Xena returns and glances around to see that her friends have things well in hand, then she turns to Zindar, who is kneeling near Gabrielle.

XENA (to Zindar,
with loathing)
Now it's your turn!

Xena quickly pulls her sword and swings it down fast toward Zindar.

GABRIELLE (loud and
desperate cry)
Xena!

Xena stops the point of her sword at Zindar's heart. Firmly holding the weapon with both hands, she looks gravely around at her friend. Gabrielle comes over and places her hand on Xena's.

GABRIELLE I agree with you that Artemis had
to die but, as hard as you sometimes
try to be ruthless, this would be
murder, Xena. And that's not you. I
don't want you to kill him. Anyway,
he's really like a child, Xena.

Xena looks at her friend's face, and she sees flashes of the memory of Gabrielle dying in the fire.

Xena struggles with the hard choice for an uncertain moment, then she abruptly jerks the sword away from Zindar.

XENA (demands) Let's go! Let's go, now! ZINDER (whimpering) It was only a trick.

Xena walks away, taking the lead, and the six mighty heroes victoriously march out of the palace.

CUT TO:

EXT. ON THE ROAD HOME - DAY

The triumphant group of friends are strolling close together, talking as they go. We hear some indistinguishable words being exchanged, followed by laughter, then:

GABRIELLE You're really going to have to
tell me how you did those tricks.
The cloak of invisibility and all
that smoke! Well, maybe the smoke
I can understand, sort of.
(she glances at Hercules
and Eolaus)
But I still don't know where you
guys came from. I don't know where
any of you came from!
(she laughs, then looks
at Xena)
And, my the gods, how did you do
that flying carpet thing? That was
so amazing!
XENA We owe that one to Autolycus and
his invisible fibers.
AUTOLYCUS (with pride) You know, that one wasn't easy to
set up, but the look on Zindar's
face made it all worthwhile. Not
to mention the look on your face,
Gabrielle. (beat) And, by the way,
I'm glad you're all right.
GABRIELLE (happy) Thanks to you. Thanks to all of
you! It's really great to have
such wonderful and nice, not to
mention absolutely insane, friends.

There is another round of laughter. They all stop walking, as Xena gives Gabrielle a hug. Watching, Autolycus and Joxer absently interlock arms, then catch themselves and jerk apart. Seeing this, Hercules and Eolaus look at each other and laugh. They continue on their way, more purposefully.

CUT TO:

EXT. A HILL CREST AGAINST A SUNSET - LATE EVENING

The homeward-bound group, led by Xena and Gabrielle, emerge from blackness as they ascend the low hill. Walking away from us, they are mostly silhouettes against the beautiful and colorful sunset. As they continue walking away, we hear:

GABRIELLE (thoughtfully) Do you believe in real magic, Xena? XENA Sometimes. GABRIELLE Sometimes? XENA (deeply serious) Every time I see your face. GABRIELLE (surprised and touched, quietly) Oh, wow, that's such a nice thing
for you to say.
XENA I can be nice. GABRIELLE (soft and sincere) Yeah.

FADE OUT:

THE END


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