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XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS
"ROYAL RENDEZVOUS"
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. WILDERNESS ROAD - DAY

XENA is riding Argo at an unhurried pace just ahead of a coach. A soldier is driving the coach, and another soldier is seated beside the driver. Four more soldiers on horseback are close behind the coach.

INT. THE COACH - DAY

GABRIELLE is seated across from PRINCESS TARA, a beautiful young woman befitting her title.

GABRIELLE I really do want to thank you
for letting me ride with you.
TARA Gabrielle, how many times does
that make that you've thanked me?
GABRIELLE (slightly embarrassed) You're right. I've lost count.
I'm sorry.
TARA (smiles) Are you intimidated by me? GABRIELLE A little, I guess. I mean, you
are a princess.
TARA I'm a princess simply because
my father happened to be a king.
I didn't earn the title. But,
here I am, with duties and
responsibilities, and sometimes
I don't want any part of it.
GABRIELLE I would have thought your life
would be wonderful and even
magical.
TARA When you get beyond all that
glitter, I'm just a woman like
you. I hope we can be friends.
GABRIELLE (smiles) We are friends. (beat) Well,
you must really be excited
about your wedding!
TARA (gloomy) Would you be happy to travel
to a strange place, to marry a
stranger? There's duty for you!
But what about love and romance?

Gabrielle looks at her sadly, at a loss for words.

EXT. THE ROAD - DAY

The entourage comes around a curve to find a fallen tree blocking the way. As the coach comes to a stop, Xena is already reacting, looking around for danger. She lets out her BATTLE CRY, as she flies off her horse and takes a position beside the coach.

A motley horde of men are dropping down from the trees, and rushing from nearby bushes. The soldiers are dragged off their horses and quickly killed. The attackers swarm around the coach, and several drop to the top of the coach. The two soldiers on the coach try to fight back, but they are cut down.

Her staff in hand, Gabrielle jumps from the coach and runs to Xena's side. Both women desperately fight the savage attackers, but they just keep coming.

Even with the sounds of battle raging around them, the SOUND OF RUNNING HORSES, draws their attention. A young man and woman come riding in fast. As their horses slide to a stop, the couple leaps in high arcs over the heads of the surprised attackers. The duo comes tumbling down to land squarely on their feet, swords in hand, and they waste no time in engaging the enemy.

INT. THE COACH - DAY

An attacker jerks the coach door open and jumps inside. Tara kicks him hard in the face, and he pitches back out the door.

EXT. THE ROAD/BATTLE - DAY

As the attackers begin losing ground, the fighting begins to spread out. Gabrielle finds herself at the new girl's back, while Xena and the young man are similarly paired.

The attackers remove the tree from across the road. Then, with three men on top, they drive the coach away.

XENA (to the
young man)
Stop that coach!

Xena tears into the attackers more furiously, as the young man jumps on his horse and determinedly rides off after the coach.

EXT. THE COACH - DAY

The young man, ADAM, stands on his saddle at a full run, then he leaps to the top of the coach and methodically kicks the three attackers to the ground. Adam jumps down to the seat, grabs the reins and turns the coach around.

EXT. THE ROAD/BATTLE - DAY

What's left of the attackers quickly retreat and vanish into the forest. Gabrielle looks at the young woman, DARCY.

GABRIELLE (intrigued) You were just magnificent. DARCY (smiles) You're quite the scrapper,
yourself. You can cover my
back anytime.
GABRIELLE Thank you. I'm Gabrielle, by
the way.
DARCY I'm Darcy.

Adam stops the coach, and Xena opens the door and enters.

INT. THE COACH - DAY

Xena looks at the princess, who is frightened, but handling it well.

XENA Are you all right? TARA Still alive, I guess that's
something.
XENA I promised your father that
I would get you to this
wedding, but if you want to
turn back.....
TARA No, we can't turn back. This
isn't about me, it's about
treaties, old promises, and
economic agreements. The
lives of many people hang in
the balance. (tears well up
in her eyes, and
her voice breaks)
This is bigger than me, you see.
We were attacked by people who
see this as a merger. Well, it
is a merger, and it will help
many good and honest people. No,
there is no turning back. I wish
with all my heart that I had
a choice.
XENA All right, we go on, but it
won't be easy. The soldiers
are all dead. A couple of
whizzbang kids showed up
and saved us this time, but
they may leave.
TARA (puzzled) Whizzbang?

Xena just stares at her thoughtfully.

FADE OUT:

END OF TEASER

ACT ONE

FADE IN:

EXT. THE ROAD - DAY

Xena and Tara exit the coach, and walk over to Gabrielle, Adam and Darcy.

XENA Well, just who are you two,
and where did you come from?
ADAM I'm Adam and this is my sister,
Darcy. We were passing by, and
figured you could use some help.
XENA You figured right. I'm Xena, (turning to Tara) and this is Princess Tara.

Adam steps forward and bows.

ADAM Your Highness. TARA Oh, please, just call me Tara.

Tara extends her hand, and Adam gently grasps it.

ADAM It's a pleasure to meet you, Tara.

Darcy steps up and clears her throat, so Adam finally releases Tara's hand. Smiling, Darcy shakes Tara's hand.

DARCY Nice to meet you, Tara. XENA (urgently) We don't have time for all
this, we have to get moving. (to Adam and Darcy) Tara is on her way to her
wedding. As you've seen, some
people don't want that wedding
to take place. We can use your
help, if you're up for it.
ADAM We don't have anything more
important to do. So, what do
you think, Darcy?
DARCY Of course, we're going with
them! There was never any
question about it.
XENA All right, let's move. And,
Tara, you'll be safer inside
the coach, at least for now.
TARA Thank all of you so much.

Tara turns away and heads for the coach. Adam quickly follows close beside her.

ADAM Please allow me to help you
with the door.
Xena, Gabrielle, and Darcy are standing in a close huddle, watching Tara and Adam walk to

the coach. Darcy looks at Xena and Gabrielle, and speaks very seriously.

DARCY We really need to be on alert,
because I think there's a real
danger that he just may trip
over his tongue.

Xena and Gabrielle laugh, as Darcy critically shakes her head.

EXT. THE ROAD - DAY

Adam has tied his horse to the back of the coach, and he has taken on the job of driver. Darcy is riding in the rear position, while Xena is back in the lead. They are moving along at a good steady clip.

A man is standing at a makeshift barricade that is blocking the road, and he is waving a black flag. Xena stops and raises her hand to stop the coach. Everyone is suspicious and immediately on alert.

Looking around, Xena rides up to the man. Before Xena can speak, Darcy rides up.

DARCY What's the problem? VILLAGER There's a bad sickness in the
village. Two dead already, and
more than a dozen got the fever.
You gotta turn back or else go
around.
DARCY I'm a healer, maybe I can help. VILLAGER That's up to you, young lady.
I ain't forbidden nobody from
going to the village, I'm just
warning you of the danger.
XENA I agree with you, Darcy, but
I have Tara and Gabrielle to
worry about, too.
DARCY Then let's ask them. XENA (uncertain) OK.

They ride back to the coach. Tara and Gabrielle are looking out the windows, Adam is still on top.

GABRIELLE What is it, Xena? XENA There's a bad sickness in the
village ahead. Two people have
died and many others are bad
sick. We probably should stay
clear of the village and go
on our way, but Darcy wants to
try to help them.
TARA Of course, we should help them, if we can. XENA That's just it, we don't
know if we can help them.
We could be putting all of
us in danger for nothing.
DARCY Well, we won't know if we
can help them until we
get a look at them. So,
I'm going to the village.
XENA All right, I'll go with you,
and the rest of you can wait
here until we know what's
really going on.
TARA No, Xena. I know you're just
trying to protect me, but I
can't wait here and be safe
when people are dying. Maybe
I can help, too.
GABRIELLE That goes for me, too. ADAM Darcy's my sister, Xena, and
I know she's crazy, but don't
you think we should try to help
these people?
XENA (smiling) Yeah, I do. So, let's go.

They enthusiastically move out.

EXT. THE VILLAGE - DAY

The village isn't much more than a huddle of thatched-roof houses, with small farms around the perimeter. The place is fairly well kept, but piles and stacks of junk have managed to accumulate on porches and at the ends of buildings. No villagers can be seen. Xena and the others congregate beside the coach.

XENA (to Gabrielle
and Adam)
Darcy and I will check on
these people. You two watch
the princess, and keep an eye
out for trouble.
TARA I'm not just going to sit here.
I came here to help, Xena. I'm
coming with you.
XENA There's no reason for you to
take unnecessary chances, Tara.
TARA Then why do you? Why do all of
you? I'm coming with you.
XENA (sarcastically) Yes, Your Highness. TARA And that's enough of that, too.
I know you're all trying to
protect me, but right now there
are more important problems.
XENA There's a pack of wild animals
out there that wants you dead,
and we don't know what we're
walking into here.
TARA The point is, no matter what
we're facing, we're all in
this together. Now, let's get
on with it, shall we?
DARCY She's right, we're wasting time.

Darcy hurries away toward the nearest house, followed by Tara and Adam. Xena looks at Gabrielle.

XENA (following the others) And I thought you were a
stubborn big mouth!
GABRIELLE (perplexed) What did I do? Gabrielle runs to catch up with Xena. GABRIELLE You know, Xena, Tara is right,
you can be a little pushy.
XENA I'm trying to keep her alive. GABRIELLE I think she wants to have a
life, not just stay alive.

Xena puts her arm around Gabrielle and looks at her.

XENA (softly) Yeah.

They enter the house.

INT. THE BLACKSMITH'S HOUSE - DAY

There are two beds in the large room, one against the left wall and one against the back wall. The blacksmith is lying in the bed against the back wall, his wife in the other one. As Darcy examines the woman, JENNA, the woman's eighteen year old daughter looks on.

JENNA They've been like this for two
days now. Can you help them?
DARCY Well, we're sure going to try.

Darcy probes the woman's neck with her fingertips, then she gently grasps her jaw.

DARCY Can you open your mouth for me?
There. Good. Please let me see
your tongue.

The woman struggles to stick out her tongue.

DARCY OK, that's good. Just rest for
now, and I'll be back later.
Darcy gets up and turns to Xena. DARCY Let's talk outside.

Darcy walks outside, followed by Xena, Gabrielle, and Adam. Tara remains inside.

DARCY With the high fever, swelling
in the neck, and those purple
blisters on the tongue, I've
seen this before. If left
untreated it is almost always
fatal. Fortunately, it is
easy to treat, but there is
a problem.
XENA What? DARCY I have to get up to the higher
elevations to get what I need.
That'll take me a day, maybe
longer, but it's the only way.
XENA You can't go out there alone. DARCY I'll be fine. And let's not kid
ourselves, Tara is still in very
serious danger. You need all the
help you can get here.
ADAM Darcy, are you sure about this? DARCY What do you think, brother dear? ADAM I know you're right. Hurry back.

Darcy walks to the end of the porch, where she finds an old sack and a small digging pick.

DARCY Just what I need.

She mounts her horse and rides away. Xena, Gabrielle, and Adam watch her for a prolonged solemn moment.

INT. THE BLACKSMITH'S HOUSE - DAY

Tara walks up to Jenna and reaches out to touch the sleeve of her dress.

TARA Jenna, do you have another
dress like this one?
JENNA Yes, of course, why?

Tara slightly lifts the skirt of her own dress.

TARA Would you trade one of your
dresses for this one?
JENNA But it's such a beautiful
gown. (beat) You're princess
Tara, aren't you? You must be!
TARA Yes, but for now I'm just Tara.
So, what about the dress?
JENNA Where would I wear such a
wonderful gown?
TARA (smiling) You can wear it to my wedding. JENNA You're inviting me to a royal
wedding? Your wedding?
TARA (impatient) Yes. Now, the dress. I need
something more practical.
JENNA (beaming) OK, you got a deal. C'mon!

Tara and Jenna rush off to an adjacent room.

EXT. THE BLACKSMITH'S HOUSE - DAY

Xena and Gabrielle are sitting on the porch, and Adam is nearby leaning against a post.

GABRIELLE Xena, you're a healer, too. You
know about cures and all, so
why haven't you said anything?
XENA Darcy is doing just fine. She's
smart, and she knows what she's
doing. For her age, it's scary.
GABRIELLE So, Adam, how did Darcy get to
be so smart?
ADAM Isn't it obvious? It runs in the
family.

Xena and Gabrielle laugh.

GABRIELLE Yeah, well, actually I did
notice that.
ADAM Darcy has always been special,
even as a kid. She sometimes
knows when something is going
to happen before it happens.
GABRIELLE I've heard of people like that. XENA What about the healing? ADAM She use to find all these hurt
birds and small animals and
take cure of them until they
got well. The thing is, it was
sometimes like magic the way
they recovered. Our father
started calling her his little
sorceress. As she got older,
she would seek out people who
could teach her in the healing
arts. Now she has her own herb
garden, and a room to use as
her apothecary.
XENA What about you? What are you
interested in?
ADAM Besides having a good time? GABRIELLE (laughs) That's about how I had you
figured.
ADAM I always figured I would just
take over the family business
someday. I think that would
please my father and mother.

Tara walks out onto the porch in her peasant dress.

TARA Well, everybody, I'm ready to go
to work. So, where do we start?

They are staring at her, saying nothing.

TARA (uncertainly) Don't I look all right? ADAM You look incredibly beautiful.

FADE OUT:

END OF ACT ONE

ACT TWO

FADE IN:

EXT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - DAY

Xena, Gabrielle, and Tara are walking up to the front door, as Adam comes running from the opposite direction.

ADAM The horses are in the barn, and
the coach is out of sight in
the trees behind the barn.
XENA Good, and we need to stay out of
sight as much as possible, too. (to Tara) Especially you.
ADAM Do you think those men would
come here with this sickness
running rampant?
XENA They're desperate, and we can't
take any chances. I'm telling
all of you again, don't let
your guard down for a minute.

Xena points to several water buckets on the front porch.

XENA Adam, I have the feeling we're
going to need lots of water. The
spring is at the bottom of the hill.
ADAM (grabbing two buckets) Right. I'm on it. TARA (grabbing two buckets) I can help carry water. XENA (disapproval) Tara.... TARA (defiant) Yes? XENA (shrugs) Nothing. Enjoy yourself. Adam and Tara hurry off to fetch water. XENA Have you ever seen anybody
that happy to go to work?
GABRIELLE Do you think she'll fall down
and break her crown? Gee, I
oughta write that down.

Gabrielle follows Xena into the house.

INT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - DAY

Xena and Gabrielle find five-year-old RACHEL standing beside her mother's sickbed. The little girl is wearing a simple, dirty dress, and she is clutching a small rag doll.

XENA Hi. RACHEL Hi. My daddy's dead. XENA I'm sorry. Is this your mommy?

Xena leans over the sick woman and feels of her head.

RACHEL Yes, that's my mommy. She's
sick. They buried him. Is my
mommy going to die, too?
GABRIELLE (kneeling) We're going to help your mommy.
What about you, how do you feel?
Are you hungry?
XENA Gabrielle, until Darcy gets back
here, all we can do for these
people is keep them warm and
give them food and water. Food,
whether they want it or not, and
plenty of water.
GABRIELLE Right. I'll get started on
some soup, that'll be best.
XENA (to Rachel) What's your name? RACHEL Rachel. XENA That's a very pretty name. I'm
Xena and this is Gabrielle.
Gabrielle will stay here with
you for a while. Gabrielle, I'm
going to make a tour of the
village, just to see what we're
up against, then I'll be back.
GABRIELLE OK. We'll be fine, right Rachel? RACHEL (to Xena) We'll be just fine.

EXT. THE SPRING - DAY

Adam kneels down by the water and starts filling the buckets. Tara stands beside him, looking around.

TARA It's so beautiful here. It's
hard to believe all those
people are so sick, and that
there's people out there who
want to kill me.
ADAM Don't worry, Tara. We're not
going to let anything happen
to you. You'll make it to
your wedding.
TARA That's an even more dismal
prospect. This is an arranged
marriage being forced on me.
I can't refuse, because the
consequences would be just
too severe. I could run away,
but my happiness isn't worth
so many lives.
ADAM You have many grand and noble
ideals, for which you are to
be commended, but you deserve
to be happy, too, Tara.
TARA But you can't always have it
both ways, and you must choose.
ADAM If I may say so, I think you're
a very special lady. When it
comes right down to it, I know
you'll make the right choices.
TARA (smiling) Thank you. That means a lot.

Finally, she recovers and shakes herself back to reality. She grabs a couple of the full buckets, and starts up the path.

TARA They need this water, so we
better get a move on.

Adam picks up his two buckets, and follows Tara.

ADAM Right behind you!

INT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Xena is sitting in front of the fireplace. The flames are casting a flickering red glow all around the small room.

Gabrielle enters and sits near Xena.

GABRIELLE Rachel is finally asleep. I told
her a story, and I think it got
her mind off her mother. (beat)
Xena, how bad is it, really?
XENA There were no deaths today,
that's a good sign, but there
are several who may not make
it through tomorrow. It's
very bad, Gabrielle.
GABRIELLE Do you think Darcy really knows
what she's doing?
XENA Yes, I do. I have confidence in
her knowledge and abilities, and
as a person. She won't let us down.
GABRIELLE Can she make it back in time? XENA Well, I know she'll give it
her best. She had to go to
the mountains to the east of
here, so I expect her to be
back sometime tomorrow.
GABRIELLE It was wonderful how Adam and
Darcy came to our rescue this
morning, wasn't it?
XENA It certainly was. GABRIELLE I mean, they laid their lives
on the line for us, and they
still are.
XENA Yeah, and instead of seeking
gratitude, it's almost like
they are thanking us for the
opportunity.
GABRIELLE I know. They're amazing! And
what about Tara? Carrying all
that water, and helping to
feed all those people. She has
worked circles around me all day.
XENA (smiles) Yeah, I noticed. GABRIELLE I mean, we're talking about a
princess here. Aren't they
supposed to be spoiled brats?
XENA Diana isn't. GABRIELLE (smiles) No, Diana isn't. A little
flaky, maybe.
XENA (frowns) Gabrielle. GABRIELLE You do know Tara isn't happy
about this marriage, don't you?
XENA Yes, I know, but I also know
that she has a very high
degree of honor and integrity.
She views this marriage as her
moral and civic duty.
GABRIELLE I'm not sure matters of state
can compete with matters of
the heart. Have you watched
her and Adam together?
XENA Gabrielle, how did you manage
to get all this work done, and
snoop into other people's
business at the same time?
GABRIELLE I'm not snooping. It's just
so obvious they're attracted
to one another.
XENA (solemn) All right, yes, I know that,
but I also know that Tara is
going to be at that wedding.
Not even love will stop her.

EXT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Adam and Tara are sitting on the end of the low porch, their feet on the ground. It is a clear, brightly moonlit night.

TARA It's a beautiful night. ADAM (looking at Tara) Extremely beautiful. TARA (looking up) The stars look like jewels. ADAM Even a sky full of priceless
jewels pales before your
beauty, Tara.
TARA Why, Adam, I don't quite
know what to say.
ADAM There's no need to say
anything. I was just making
an observation. Anyway, your
future is already planned
out for you, isn't it?
TARA Yes, it is. I wish things
were different, but wishing
doesn't change anything.
ADAM But you deserve to have all
your wishes and dreams come
true, Tara. I've never known
anyone as wonderful as you.
TARA Some things just can't be. ADAM You don't like the idea of
being married?
TARA Oh, I want to be married. I
want to be a wife and a
mother.... someday. But I
would like to choose the man
that I will spend my life
with. I want the magic and
the romance. (she stops and
looks at him)
You probably think I'm just
a silly girl.
ADAM Oh, no, not at all! I want the
same thing, too.
TARA (feigning
sympathy)
Oh, you want to be a wife and
mother, too?

It takes a moment for her remark to sink in. He quickly reaches for her, but she jumps away. She laughs as he chases her. He grabs her hand and she pivots right into his arms. The world seems to stand still. They gaze into one another's eyes for a prolonged moment, then they kiss.

INT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Xena and Gabrielle are still sitting before the fireplace.

GABRIELLE Come to think of it, where is Tara? XENA Outside with Adam. GABRIELLE Xena, do you think that's wise? XENA Now, what trouble could they
get into out there?
GABRIELLE (astounded) Are you kidding me, or what? XENA Gabrielle, she isn't a child. GABRIELLE (sudden realization) Wait a minute here, you want
something to happen between
those two, don't you? You're
against this arranged marriage
stuff. That's it, isn't it?
XENA Gabrielle your imagination is
running wild again. I told
you that Tara will be at that
wedding.
GABRIELLE (shaking her head, and smiling) No, no, no, no! Even so, you're
still hoping Adam will change
her mind. Xena, you're a real
sweetheart.

Xena throws a piece of wood on the fire.

EXT. THE FARMER'S HOUSE - DAY

Adam and Tara are working in the garden, using hoes to chop the weeds along the rows of plants.

ADAM If they survive this sickness,
they'll need this food.
TARA I feel really optimistic about
everything today. I just know
everything is going to work out
for the best.
ADAM When you say it like that, I
can believe it.
TARA But you probably worry about
Darcy being out there all
alone. I know I worry about
my brother when he's gone.
ADAM Sure, I worry about Darcy, but for
right now I know she's all right.
TARA You know it? ADAM Don't ask me to explain this,
but she's all right, she has
plenty of the roots she went after,
and she's on her way back. She'll
be here before midday.
TARA You tell me something like that,
and you don't want to explain it?
ADAM (smiles at her
serious tone)
It's just something that we
have done since we were kids.
I think it has something to
do with the fact that Darcy
and I are twins.
TARA Oh, your twins, that's really
great. My brother is a couple
of years older, and he thinks
he can boss me around. Still,
I miss him when he's gone.
ADAM Where has he gone? TARA I don't really know. He just
travels a lot lately. We sent
word about my wedding, but he
probably won't come.
ADAM Will your family be there? TARA Mother isn't up to traveling,
and Father is too busy because
of all this civil unrest.
ADAM I'm sorry. TARA Can we talk about something
besides my wedding? I don't
even want to think about it
right now.
ADAM Maybe this prince you're
going to marry isn't such
a bad guy.
TARA (bitterly) Yeah, right!

Tara takes her anger and frustration out on the weeds, chopping intensely with the hoe. Adam silently watches her, with deep concern.

FADE OUT:

END OF ACT TWO

ACT THREE

FADE IN:

INT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - DAY

Gabrielle enters the kitchen carrying a cauldron, which she sits on a table. Xena comes in behind her.

GABRIELLE (tired) I'm glad that's over with, at
least for a while. You know,
these people seem to be hanging
on pretty good.
XENA I'm afraid it's the calm before
the storm. You need to prepare
yourself, it's going to get worse
before it gets any better.
GABRIELLE Maybe Darcy will get back in
time to save them.
XENA Yes, maybe she will.

Adam and Tara enter.

TARA Oh, Darcy will be back all
right. Just any time now.
And she has the roots, too!

Xena and Gabrielle turn and silently stare at her.

TARA (defensive) Adam told me. ADAM Darcy wants us to start
boiling lots of water now.
GABRIELLE (looking at Xena) What should we do? XENA Start boiling water.

Gabrielle looks from Xena to Adam and Tara, then she nods.

JENNA (O.s.) (shrill cry) Xena! Gabrielle!

Xena and Gabrielle run out, closely followed by Adam and Tara.

EXT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - DAY

In the front yard they encounter a highly distraught Jenna. Xena grabs the girl by the shoulders.

XENA What's the matter? JENNA (tears and
hysterics)
Come quick! It's my father!

With Xena in the lead, they run to the blacksmith's house.

INT. THE BLACKSMITH'S HOUSE - DAY

Xena rushes in to the blacksmith's bed. She is saddened to see the man's wide, dead stare.

Xena reaches out and shuts the dead man's eyes. Jenna, at the door with the others, cries out again. Gabrielle puts her arm around Jenna and leads her back outside. Xena checks the blacksmith's wife, then leaves.

EXT. THE BLACKSMITH'S HOUSE - DAY

Xena looks up to see Gabrielle and Jenna going back to the widow's house. Adam and Tara are standing nearby.

XENA Jenna's father has died. I'm
afraid there will be others.
ADAM I'll dig his grave. XENA OK. The cemetery is on the
hill behind those houses.

Adam walks off, and Tara follows him.

TARA I can help. XENA (disapproval) Tara.... TARA (defiant) Yes? XENA Nothing. Enjoy yourself.

Tara smiles broadly and hurries on her way.

XENA (incredulous,
to herself)
She's happy to dig a grave!

The SOUND of a running horse draws Xena's attention. Darcy comes riding up fast, and dismounts. She hands the sack of small roots to Xena.

DARCY Wash these and use them to make
tea. All the sick need at least
a full cup everyday.
XENA Gabrielle is working on the
water. I'm glad you made it back,
and I'm glad you're all right.

They walk toward the widow's house.

DARCY This is nothing new for me. I
often spend days at a time in
the mountains or the forests
searching for plants.
XENA (probing) Adam knew you'd be back today. DARCY Yes, I'm sure he did.

Xena looks curiously at Darcy, but she doesn't push it.

INT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - DAY

Xena comes in with the roots, walks passed Rachel, and goes on to the kitchen. Darcy smiles when she sees Rachel and sits down next to her.

DARCY Hello. I'm Darcy. RACHEL I'm Rachel. You're pretty. DARCY Thank you. So are you.

Rachel smiles and hugs her rag doll.

DARCY What's your baby's name? RACHEL She don't have a name. DARCY Well, you have to give her one, so you'll know what to call her.
RACHEL I know, I'll name her Darcy.
Is that all right?
DARCY (touched) Yes, and I would be honored.

Darcy hugs the little girl, then she feels of Rachel's forehead and cheeks.

DARCY How are you feeling? RACHEL OK.

Xena is back at the door.

XENA She hasn't shown any signs. DARCY This sickness is discriminatory.
It hits some and doesn't touch
others. Fortunately, children
are much less susceptible to it.
XENA Darcy, you are an amazing young
woman. I hope we can talk sometime.
DARCY You are calling me amazing?
Xena, Warrior Princess? I've
heard those stories about you.
I doubt if people will be
talking much about any of my
accomplishments any time soon.
XENA (smiles) Maybe we can trade anecdotes. DARCY I look forward to it. RACHEL I look forward to it, too.

Xena and Darcy laugh, then Rachel laughs.

EXT. THE CEMETERY - DAY

Xena, Gabrielle, Adam, Tara, Darcy and Jenna are standing around an open grave. Two other fresh graves are nearby.

Xena and Gabrielle are standing on either side of Jenna, trying to console the weeping girl. The gathering breaks up and most start walking back to the village. Adam and Tara remain behind to fill the grave.

TARA Poor, Jenna. I've never lost
a parent.
ADAM Nor I, but I know it is a
terrible thing.
TARA (near tears,
her voice breaks)
And, what if her mother.... ?
ADAM They have Darcy's tea now,
maybe it can save them all.
TARA I hope so with all my heart.

As Adam shovels, Tara is raking dirt into the grave.

ADAM Why would a princess work so
hard to bury a peasant?
TARA (outraged) Don't call them that! And do
you think that because I'm a
princess, I must be immoral
and uncaring?
ADAM (sorry) I didn't mean to suggest that. TARA You think that just because I
was born with position and
wealth, I must be self-centered
and cold hearted?
ADAM Of course, not. I told you how
I feel about you last night. You
are the most beautiful and most
wonderful woman I've ever known.
TARA (uncomfortable) Adam, should we be having this
kind of conversation at a time
like this?
ADAM (looking into
the grave)
Well, he might overhear you,
but I sure don't think he'll
be repeating it to anybody.
TARA (grossed out) Don't make jokes about this!
You're terrible!
ADAM (smiling) OK, no more bad jokes. TARA (quietly) Adam, if I was self-centered
and uncaring, I wouldn't
have to go through with this
marriage. I would be free to
live my own life, and find my
own happiness.
ADAM No one can make these decisions
for you, Tara. You have to do
what you think is right, but it
should be right for you, too.
TARA But in this case, I just can't
have it both ways.

INT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - DAY

Darcy is alone, looking out the back door. Gabrielle comes into the kitchen.

GABRIELLE Darcy, why don't you lay down
for a little while? You must
be exhausted.
DARCY And you're not? GABRIELLE (laughs) Well, anyway, Jenna is finally
resting, and even Rachel is
taking a nap. I almost feel
like a mother.
DARCY (deeply serious) I want to talk to you and Xena
about something. Rachel's mom
isn't going to make it, and I
want to take Rachel with me.

Gabrielle is surprised, and doesn't know what to say.

DARCY I can take care of her, and
I can give her a good home.
GABRIELLE Well, I don't know. I mean,
she may have family.
DARCY She doesn't have any relatives. GABRIELLE How can you possibly know that? DARCY I asked her mother. GABRIELLE (feeling foolish) Oh. Darcy looks out the door again. Gabrielle comes up beside her. GABRIELLE You're not married, right? DARCY What's that got to do with it? GABRIELLE Being a mother, raising a
child, is a big responsibility.
You're still very young. Are
you sure you're ready?
DARCY Oh, Gabrielle, all I have to do
is look at that little girl to
know I'm ready.

Gabrielle smiles, but terror sweeps over Darcy's face. She quickly steps closer to the door, looking out. Gabrielle follows her gaze. Across the way, at the farmer's house, Tara and Adam are returning their tools to the shed, and four men with drawn swords are sneaking up behind them.

Darcy quickly speaks, barely above a whisper:

DARCY Adam, behind you!

Adam immediately reacts, twisting around, bending down and kicking the first man under the chin. All four attackers are sent falling backward.

GABRIELLE (amazed) He heard you! I know he did. DARCY Yes, now let's get out there.

Darcy bolts through the door. Gabrielle grabs her staff and rushes out the door and around the house.

EXT. THE BLACKSMITH'S HOUSE - DAY

As Darcy streaks across the field to help Adam and Tara, Gabrielle is looking around for more trouble, and trying to find Xena.

GABRIELLE (frantically) Xena! Xena, we're under attack!

A dozen more of the armed attackers come from behind the house and move toward Gabrielle.

GABRIELLE Boy, are we under attack!

EXT. THE FARMER'S HOUSE - DAY

As Adam engages two of the attackers in swordplay, Tara is doing an impressive job with the other two, and her only weapon is a garden rake. One man finally makes a fast desperate lunge toward her, and she plunges the rake into his stomach, then snaps back to catch him under the chin. He flips into a stack of baskets.

With a flying leap, Darcy flips over a fence and the stacks of boxes and baskets, to land in the middle of the foray. Darcy crosses swords with one of the men who was fighting Adam. Finally, Adam has to kill the man he is fighting, and the others make a run for it.

DARCY Let's get back to the others!

Darcy bounds back over the fence and runs across the field. Adam and Tara run along the fence, to an open gap.

EXT. THE BLACKSMIH'S HOUSE - DAY

The mob of riffraff is moving closer to Gabrielle. They seem uncertain about whether or not to rush her, looking around as if expecting a trap.

MOB LEADER Where is the princess? GABRIELLE I don't know what you're
talking about.
MOB LEADER You give us Princess Tara, and
we'll let you live. Now, where
is the princess?
GABRIELLE Does this look like a palace to
you, moron?

A shrill cry makes everyone jump, and draws their attention upward. Xena dives from the peak of the roof, flips a couple of times, then lands in the middle of the mob. Spinning like a cyclone, she slugs half the group. The ones stupid enough to get up and come back, are kicked a little farther away.

Gabrielle rushes forward and quickly takes out three of the men with her staff. Xena pulls her sword and fends off half a dozen aggressive swordsmen. Darcy, Adam, and Tara arrive and take some of the heat.

MOB LEADER (spotting Tara) There she is!

Xena immediately slugs the man in the jaw, spinning his head around, and he drops solidly to the ground. The attackers have enough and start moving back, finally they turn and run away.

XENA They know we're here now.
They'll come back in force
next time.

Xena watches Tara pick up one of the attacker's sword.

XENA What do you think you're doing? TARA (defiant) What? XENA Nothing. Enjoy yourself.

There are six apples sitting on top of a barrel at the end of the porch. Tara whirls around and lashes out with the sword, and all six apples are evenly sliced.

TARA I've been fencing since I was
a child. I think it's time I
do it for real.

Xena lifts her arms and lets them fall to her side.

XENA (disgusted) I give up!

Tara lifts the sword and points it at Xena.

TARA Well, I guess that makes you
my first prisoner.

Everyone laughs, even Xena.

INT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Gabrielle is sitting in front of the fireplace. Xena enters and crosses to the kitchen.

XENA Adam and Tara are taking the
first watch. I'll take over
at midnight. (beat) But I
think it will take that scum
a couple of days to rally.

Xena uses a dipper to get a drink of water from a bucket.

Darcy comes in with towels draped over her arm.

DARCY Xena can you hand me that pan of
water. I'm giving Rachel a bath.
XENA Sure.

Xena picks up the pan with both hands and holds it out for Darcy. When Darcy reaches for the pan, her hands touch Xena's. Darcy suddenly grasps Xena's hands very tightly, closes her eyes, and shakes hard enough to slosh water out of the pan. Xena is shocked, and doesn't know what to do. Then, just as suddenly, the episode is over. Darcy takes the pan and turns away, but she stops, and looks back at Xena.

DARCY I'm sorry. XENA What was that all about? DARCY It was nothing. XENA No. You saw something, and I
want to know what it was.

Darcy starts to leave again, but stops again.

DARCY Xena... XENA Yeah? DARCY Drink the tea, Xena. A good
cupful everyday.
XENA (quietly and
uncertain)
All right.

Darcy goes on her way, leaving Xena confused and fearful. Gabrielle is in the doorway, also confused and fearful.

GABRIELLE What was that all about? XENA I don't know, for sure, but I
trust Darcy. I believe what
that girl says.
GABRIELLE But what did she mean? XENA Listen, Gabrielle, I think the
most important thing it means
is that I may not be able to
help you and the others with
whatever is going to happen.
GABRIELLE We'll deal with that, but I
want to know about you.
XENA We'll deal with that, too, if
we have to.
GABRIELLE Well, why don't you get some
sleep before you have to
relieve Adam and Tara?
XENA (standing) Right. Good idea.

Xena steps toward the door, then stops and returns to the table to pour a cup of the tea. She takes a sip, then looks around at Gabrielle.

XENA (making a face) This stuff is terrible! GABRIELLE (firmly) Yeah? Well, drink it!

Xena slowly brings the cup to her lips, hesitates, then downs the contents.

EXT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Adam and Tara are sitting on the back of an old wagon that is at the edge of the yard, not too far from the house. After a long moment of silence, Adam turns to Tara.

ADAM It's a little cold tonight,
Tara. I can handle the watch,
if you'd like to go in.
TARA Already tired of my company? ADAM Oh, no! I could never be tired
of your company, Tara.
TARA If you wouldn't mind putting
your arm around me, I'm sure
I wouldn't me as cold.
ADAM I wouldn't mind at all.

He puts his arm around her, and she snuggles up against him, smiling. He seems pleased, yet uncertain. Suddenly, she stops smiling and quickly pulls away.

TARA (painfully serious) This isn't fair to you, is
it? I mean, my future is set
in stone. I have to go
through with this marriage,
I don't have a choice.
ADAM I understand that, really I
do, but may I hold you for
just a moment longer?
TARA (happy again) Of course! Of course, you may.

He puts his arm back around her, and she again snuggles up against him, smiling.

EXT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Xena has taken over the watch. A movement draws her attention, and she quickly steps back into the shadows. She watches for a moment, then runs around the house. At the far corner she stops for a moment, then she hurries over to the deep shadows under a tree. There she stops again, and pulls her sword.

A dark form is creeping along under the trees, moving closer to the house. The dark form finally takes on the shape of a man, walking crouched, a sword extended in front him.

As he reaches Xena's position, she steps out toward him. He swings his sword and jumps back at the same time. Xena blocks the blow with her own sword, then stands looking at him.

XENA (smiling) Where do you think you're going? MARK (recovering) Xena, it's you! You're OK?
Where's Tara?
XENA Your sister is fine. We're all
fine for the time being.
MARK It took me two days to find
you. What are you doing here
in this village?
XENA All the people here are sick,
and we're trying to help them.
But we're facing an even bigger
problem. We're about to be hit by
a heavy attack from dissenters.
MARK Yeah, there's even been some
rioting at the palace, but
nothing major.
XENA I'm talking about a violent
bunch, and they're targeting
Tara. With your sister dead,
the wedding would be off.
MARK (firmly) That's not going to happen.
Now, can I see her?
XENA C'mon.

Xena leads the way toward the widow's house.

FADE OUT:

END OF ACT THREE

ACT FOUR

FADE IN:

INT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Xena and Mark enter to find Gabrielle and Tara sitting before the fireplace. Tara jumps up excitedly and runs to Mark, and gives him a hug.

TARA Mark! You did come. MARK Now, you don't think that I
would miss my little sister's
wedding, do you?
TARA I'm surprised the messenger
could find you, the way you
travel about.
XENA I've got to get back outside.
You two fill Mark in on our
situation.
MARK Xena, whatever the situation,
we can handle it.
XENA (nods) Got to.

INT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Xena is in bed, tossing and turning in a fitful sleep. Her tortured expressions suggest that she is having a terrible nightmare. She suddenly awakens and sits up, looking around disoriented. She shakes her head and struggles to focus her eyes.

In the other nearby bed, Gabrielle, Adam and Darcy are wrapping a body in white cloth, from head to feet. The dead woman is Rachel's mother. Xena seems to comprehend what is happening, and she reacts with fear and sorrow.

Mark comes into the room and helps Adam carry the body out. Darcy goes along with them when they leave.

XENA (tearful, reaching out) No. No. No!

Gabrielle turns to look at Xena, then hurries to her bedside. She sits on the edge of the bed, takes a cup from the night stand and helps Xena drink the tea. Xena drinks at first, but she soon pushes the cup away, and sits staring fearfully at the empty bed. Gabrielle also looks at the empty bed, then back at Xena, and she wipes Xena's face with her hand.

GABRIELLE (softly) I'm sorry you had to see that,
but that isn't going to happen
to you, Xena. We have Darcy's
tea now, and I'm going to take
good care of you, I promise.

Gabrielle returns the cup to the night stand, and then attempts to get Xena to lie back down. Xena resists, determined to stay up, at least for the time being.

GABRIELLE (hands on Xena's shoulders) C'mon, Xena, you need to rest.

The dim light from a single candle transforms the room into a dark chamber of flickering ghosts and shadows. As the light plays across Xena's face, she seems to rally for a moment, her mind much less cloudy.

XENA (uneasily) Gabrielle, remember your promise. GABRIELLE (bowing her head) I remember. I will remember. XENA If anything happens to me, you
will take me home to Amphipolis
to be buried beside my brother.
GABRIELLE (tears) Yes, Xena, but that's not going
to happen. You're going to be
just fine, you'll see. Now, get
some sleep, and I'll stay right
here beside you.

Xena's head sinks into the pillow, and she closes her eyes. Gabrielle holds her friend's hand, looks up at the dark ceiling, and she closes her eyes.

EXT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - EARLY MORNING

Adam, Tara, and Mark are standing in the front yard. Darcy comes out of the house and stands on the porch.

MARK Good morning! It looks like it's
going to be a beautiful day.
DARCY (smiles) Yes, it does look like a very
promising day.
ADAM Darcy, I can feel your intense
apprehension. Do you want to let
let us in on it?
TARA So, what you're really saying is
it's a good day for a fight?
DARCY Yes, today's the day. They will
attack before dusk.
MARK Ordinarily, I would never run
from a confrontation, but maybe
we should leave to spare this
village further trouble.
GABRIELLE (walking out) What are you saying? DARCY Xena is too sick to travel,
for one thing, but it wouldn't
help. They are determined to
burn this village to the
ground. We are the only thing
standing between this village
and total destruction.
MARK How can you possibly know that
for certain?
TARA If Darcy tells you something,
no matter how weird, you had
better believe it. Mark, I
trust Darcy and Adam, too,
implicitly. Just the way I
trust Xena and Gabrielle.
MARK I wasn't doubting you, Darcy,
I just find this power of
yours to be rather amazing.
DARCY I tend to think of it as a
gift, something that can be
taken away, instead of a
power that I possess.
MARK Well, I'm sorry I questioned you.

Mark walks up the steps to Gabrielle.

MARK And, Gabrielle, surely you know
I wasn't suggesting we leave Xena.
GABRIELLE I know. I'm just worried about
her, that's all.

Mark puts his arm around Gabrielle.

MARK How is she? GABRIELLE The same. Fever and restless
sleep. Delusional at times.
MARK Xena is the strongest fighter
I've ever known. I'm sure she
won't let this defeat her.

Gabrielle looks up at Mark and smiles, then she pats his hand resting on her shoulder.

GABRIELLE Yeah, you're right, but I
better get back to her.
JENNA (O. s.) Gabrielle!

Gabrielle and the others look toward the blacksmith's house. Jenna is at the back door, helping her mother to come outside. They all hurry over to the mother and daughter.

JENNA My mother is feeling much
better now, does that mean
she's going to be OK?
DARCY She's going to be fine! GABRIELLE This is just wonderful. I'm
so happy for you, Jenna.
JENNA'S MOTHER Jenna has been telling me about
all of you and what you've done
for us. I want to thank you,
but nothing I could say would
ever be enough.
GABRIELLE You getting well is all the
thanks we need. It really
gives us hope for the others.

Like a bear coming out of hibernation, THE TAVERN KEEPER emerges from his house and plods toward the group.

TAVERN KEEPER (angrily) What are you thanking them for?
Who are all you people? We don't
like strangers messin' around!
GABRIELLE We came here to help you and
all your neighbors. If it
hadn't been for Darcy here,
you would now be dead, instead
of grumbling.
JENNA She's telling you the truth. My
father is dead. Both of little
Rachel's parents are gone, too.

The tavern keeper looks around at all their faces, then he turns away. He looks up to see more and more people emerging from their homes. He walks back to his house.

TARA Adam, will you help me with a
trunk on the coach?
ADAM Be happy to. MARK What are you up to, little sis? TARA I'm in the mood to dress for
this party we're going to have.

Tara and Adam walk through the growing crowd of villagers on their way to the coach. The people stare at Tara as if she is some strange enigma, they obviously know she is Princess Tara.

Gabrielle turns to Jenna and her mother.

GABRIELLE It's very nice to meet you.
I'm so happy for you, Jenna.
But I must get back to Xena.

Jenna helps steady her mother, as they go back home. Gabrielle walks passed Darcy and Mark on her way to the widow's house.

MARK Darcy, I've been thinking. We
have thick forest to the east
and south, so they won't come
that way. The high ground is
just too rough.
DARCY So, you think they'll come
right down the valley. (she points) From that direction.
MARK Exactly. We can use all this
junk around here to make a
barrier between these two
houses, and on over to that
one, too. It won't stop them,
but it would slow them down.
DARCY Good idea. Think we can get
our siblings' minds on
something besides each other?
MARK I noticed that. It does look
like something of a lost
cause, doesn't it?
DARCY (laughs) Well, maybe they'll listen to
reason. Maybe even some of the
villagers will help. Let's get
on it, we don't have much time.

Darcy and Mark hurry off in the direction Tara and Adam went, the gathering villagers clearing a path for them.

EXT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - DAY

The makeshift barrier made of boxes, barrels and various other items is in place. It is six to eight feet high, and obviously won't be easy for an average person to cross.

Gabrielle, Tara, Darcy, Adam and Mark come out onto the porch, as the entire population of the village swarms into the front yard. Tara is now wearing a solid black dress with a short loose skirt and black knee-high boots. She looks every bit a princess, perhaps as she would look attending some major sports event. She has a sword in her hand.

The crowd is angry and unorganized. The people are shaking their fists in the air and shouting hateful remarks: "Get out!", "Leave us alone!", "This isn't our fight!", "Leave!". But, then a man steps forward, obviously the chosen spokesman, and the crowd quietens down.

MAN#1 We want you people to leave
here now! This isn't our
fight, it's yours! We didn't
ask you to come here! (pointing at Tara) It's her they want! Not us!
DARCY (steps forward) If we leave here, they will
burn your village to the
ground and kill all of you.
Then, they would catch us
out in the open where we
couldn't defend ourselves.
TARA (disgusted) In short, we're staying! We
came here to help you, but
now I wonder why. You are a
nasty, ungrateful lot! My
father is your king, and he
will learn what happens in
this village today!
GABRIELLE And my friend is in there sick,
and maybe dying, because she
bathed your bodies and spoon
fed you to save your miserable
lives.

The crowd is very quiet and still. Slowly, they begin to break up and walk away.

INT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - DAY

Gabrielle checks on Xena, then turns around to find Darcy standing behind her.

DARCY Gabrielle, you need to stay
here and watch Xena. So, will
you keep an eye on Rachel?
GABRIELLE You don't want me out there
with you?
DARCY You're the only one I can
depend on to watch Rachel.

Gabrielle embraces Darcy.

GABRIELLE You be careful, Darcy.

EXT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - DAY

Adam, Tara, Darcy and Mark stand on the porch and look off in the distance. The large mob comes into view and quickly approaches the village. In no time, they are only a few feet from the barrier.

TARA (evenly) Well, here they come. MARK (firmly) What do you say we give them
a proper greeting?

They look at one another and nod.

The four young warriors jump from the porch and dash to the barrier, where they leap high into the air, fly over the barrier and land in front of the attackers. The violent clash immediately begins, with flashing swords and kicking feet.

The mob spreads out, seeking ways into the village. They go around the houses and climb over the barrier. Several attackers carry torches, which they throw onto the roofs of the blacksmith's house and the widow's house.

INT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - DAY

The fire is breaking through the roof. Practically dragging Rachel, Gabrielle rushes to Xena's bed.

GABRIELLE Rachel, stand right there!
Don't move.

Gabrielle jumps on the bed and tries to pull Xena up.

GABRIELLE C'mon, Xena! Wake up! Xena!

The flames are spreading throughout the house. Gabrielle pulls Xena to her feet and helps her walk toward the front door.

GABRIELLE C'mon, Rachel! Hurry!

EXT. THE WIDOW'S HOUSE - DUSK

With Rachel following close behind, Gabrielle struggles with Xena. They make their way over to the tavern keeper's house next door. Without knocking, Gabrielle opens the door and takes Xena inside. Rachel stops at the door and looks back at her house, the raging flames, and the violence going nearby.

INT. TAVERN KEEPER'S HOUSE - DUSK

The tavern keeper is standing there gawking at Gabrielle and Xena, then he spots Rachel in the doorway.

GABRIELLE (insists) We need to borrow your house. TAVERN KEEPER (unhappily) Oh, all right.

Gabrielle drags Xena passed the man.

GABRIELLE We need to borrow your bed. TAVERN KEEPER Certainly, go right ahead.

Gabrielle drops Xena into the bed, then looks back to discover Rachel is gone. Gabrielle jumps up in a near panic and runs out the door.

GABRIELLE Rachel! Rachel!

EXT. TAVERN KEEPER'S HOUSE - DUSK

Gabrielle rushes out the door and franticly looks around.

GABRIELLE Rachel! Rachel!

Gabrielle sees Rachel running back to her house. Rachel enters the front door, just as flames sweep across the entire front of the house. Horrified, Gabrielle screams, and runs to the barrier. She climbs to the top, where she can see Darcy.

GABRIELLE Darcy! Darcy, Rachel went
back inside her house!

Darcy kicks one of the attackers away from her, then looks up to see the house in flames. Darcy runs to the top of the barrier, jumps to the old wagon at the edge of the yard, then bounds high into the air. She flips several times, then straightens out to crash feet first through the burning roof.

Gabrielle jumps down from the barrier and runs toward the house. The flaming front door blasts outward and a formless mass rolls across the ground. Gabrielle beats out the flames with her bare hands and tears at the fabric. When the blankets are finally parted, Darcy and Rachel are unharmed.

GABRIELLE You two scared me to death! TAVERN KEEPER (to Darcy) You're a remarkable young lady.

A small swarm of the attackers cross the barrier and charge toward Gabrielle, Darcy, and Rachel. Darcy jumps to her feet and shoves Rachel into Gabrielle's arms.

DARCY Get her out of here now!

Gabrielle lifts the child and runs toward the Tavern Keeper's house. At the door they meet Xena coming out.

GABRIELLE Xena, you can't-- XENA Get inside! Now!

Xena is still weak and disoriented, her face covered with sweat. She looks up at the roaring fire, bright flames against the darkening sky, and the flickering light glistens on her wet face and in her intense eyes. She rushes to Darcy's side, and together they finish off that group, then they both jump over the barrier to join the main battle. Darkness closes in around the scene.

TAVERN KEEPER (to the villagers) These kids saved our lives! I
think it's time we helped them.

Armed with clubs and garden tools, the people move forward. When the determined and angry villagers tangle with the outsiders, the fight doesn't last long. The defeated attackers hurry back up the valley, and the villagers cheer. Darcy, Markus, Adam, and Tara gather around Xena. Xena looks around at them and smiles.

EXT. THE TAVERN KEEPER'S HOUSE - DAY

Darcy is on the porch with Rachel. Mark stands on the porch, leaning against the corner post. Xena and Gabrielle are standing in the yard with Tara and Adam.

TARA (sadly) I guess it's time to continue
our journey. Destiny can't be
denied. Duty can't be denied.
ADAM Tara, I have something to tell
you. I think this prince you
are going to marry is the
luckiest man in the world. And
I know you are going to make
him very happy.
TARA Goodbye, Adam. I will never
forget you.
ADAM Tara, I'm trying to tell you
something. I know you will
make the prince happy because
I am the prince. Prince Adam. (points at Darcy) Princess Darcy. We wanted to
get to know you, and you get
to know us, without the
pressure of knowing who we
really were.

Tara is shocked and confused for a moment, but it finally sinks in. She smiles and throws her arms around Adam's neck.

TARA I'm going to kill you, but I'll
wait until our wedding night.
XENA (disapproval) Your Highness.... TARA (defiant) Yes? XENA Nothing. Enjoy yourself.

Everyone laughs.

EXT. ROAD IN THE VALLEY, NEAR THE VILLAGE - DAY

Leading Argo, Xena and Gabrielle walk along the narrow road.

GABRIELLE (concerned) Maybe we should have gone with them. XENA (reassuring) They don't need our help anymore. GABRIELLE (glancing up) Look!

Xena follows Gabrielle's gaze and she smiles. Four horses and their riders are mostly silouettes on the crest of a ridge. Little Rachel is barely visible, riding with Darcy. The four royal warriors wave, and Xena and Gabrielle return the wave.

GABRIELLE We are going to the wedding? XENA (smiling) Are you kidding? I wouldn't miss
it for anything.
GABRIELLE (laughs) Good. You had me worried there for
a minute. I really like them. They
are quite a team. Sort of, one for
all and all for one.
XENA (looking at
Gabrielle)
Did you just make that up?
GABRIELLE (nods) Yeah, I guess. XENA (exuberant) They kinda give you renewed hope
for this younger generation, don't
they?
GABRIELLE (quietly and
reflectively)
They're not all that young, Xena.
I mean, they're my age... almost.
XENA (smiles
mischievously)
Exactly my point. You are the
one I'm most worried about.

Gabrielle laughs and shakes her head. Xena glances at Gabrielle and they both laugh again.

FADE OUT:

THE END


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