Another Season 5 - Episode 9 - MADNESS OF KING GEORG

XENA - ANOTHER SEASON 5 - Episode 9

MADNESS OF KING GEORG

by Andreas Hloupy (andreas.hloupy@siemens.at)

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Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.

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EXT. SMALL VILLAGE - DAY

A small village, only a few people can be seen – children playing, farmers talking. The biggest building is the local inn, partly stone and two stories high. The only road is a dirty path leading through the center of the village, past the inn.

XENA, leading Argo, and GABRIELLE, walking next to her, enter the village along the path. Xena still wears the Roman armor, although it looks a little modified now. She has cut away a little on the side and edge for better mobility while adding boots and lower arm guards. She carries a sword on her back and her Chakram at her side. Gabrielle hasn't changed either, wearing boots, a brown, knee-length skirt with parts in front and on the back that reach down to the ground, short rust-red top and brown leather straps around both lower arms. Her chobos, two wooden fighting sticks with leather gripping, are held together by a loop of rope and carried over the left shoulder.

They stop in front of the inn.

Gabrielle

Another village and everything is quiet. We haven't encountered anything unusual for at least a week now.

Xena taps Argo on the side. While talking she secures the horse on a post before the inn and takes down the bags.

Xena

Believe me, sooner or later you'll wish you'd never said that.

Gabrielle

I would give anything for a little distraction. Don't tell me you don't need that anymore.

Xena throws one bag to Gabrielle.

Xena

I'm just saying that trouble will find you, sooner or later. But if you are actually looking for it, the fates usually deal you more than you can handle.

Xena walks into the inn, followed by Gabrielle.

GABRIELLE

Hey, there is nothing the two of us can't handle.

CUT TO:

INT. THRONE ROOM - DAY

A great hall, richly decorated, lit by metal braziers. A big throne dominates one side and large pillars run along the walls.

King GEORG is sitting on the throne, talking to a group of merchants. He is a young man, wearing his long, blond hair loose under his simple crown. He has no beard and friendly looking, bright blue eyes. He wears a rich blue robe and is flanked by two of his private guards in black armor, armed with large, two-handed swords.

CALES enters, walking proudly towards the throne and stops in front of the king, bowing slightly. The king gestures the merchants to hold their conversation, which they do immediately, backing away a few steps.

Cales is older than the king, maybe 40. He has short, brown hair, blue-gray eyes and a small beard on his chin. He wears simple brown leather armor and a used-looking sword at his side.

Cales

How may I be of service to my king?

Georg

(smiling)

Someone I've been looking for a long time has been seen in a village across the border, a warrior, guilty of vicious crimes against the crown. I want you to take enough men and capture that warrior.

Cales

You mean … if he enters your lands?

Georg

(thoughtful)

No, she's much too clever for that … you will have to cross the border yourself. But it doesn't matter. Nobody will risk a war because of her.

Cales

The warrior is a woman?

Georg

Yes … and don't underestimate her. Her skills are legendary. She was rumored to be dead more than once … but obviously she's not that easy to dispose.

Cales

I never underestimate an enemy of the crown.

Georg

And make sure to bring her back alive, I want to see Xena with my own eyes when she …

Georg seems to look for the right words for a moment.

Cales

… stands trial?

Georg

Right.

Cales bows before the king, than he turns around and slowly walks away. King Georg leans back, smiling.

CUT TO:

INT. INN - DAY

Inside the inn the ground floor is one large room with stonewalls and a few wooden posts support the wooden ceiling. There are only a few windows, stairs lead upwards, a wooden counter separates the back of the room while the rest is filled with tables and benches.

XENA and GABRIELLE sit alone at a table, their weapons lying next to them. A few more guests are at other tables or at the counter. While Xena and Gabrielle are talking the INNKEEPER walks from guest to guest and whispers a few words to each of them. Everybody he had talked to leaves soon afterwards.

Xena

You should start writing again … it's part of you.

Gabrielle

I don't feel like it. Everything has changed.

Xena

Life is a constant adjustment … but that doesn't mean that you should give up what's inside of you … writing is you, Gabrielle.

Gabrielle

Maybe you're right.

They eat silently for a few moments. Xena looks around and sees guests leaving. Her eyes follow the innkeeper, suspiciously, but the bard interrupts Xena's concentration.

Gabrielle

I bought scrolls and ink … but nothing seems worth writing down.

Xena

I know you don't want to be reminded about what's happened during … since …

Gabrielle

We were dead. I was sent to Tartarus … and I saw more evil, more horror than in all my time with you. I don't want to write that down … I want to forget it. It still haunts me every night … the thought that I will end up there again, after … when it's my time.

Xena

Gabrielle, you told me yourself that our judgment wasn't right … in a fair ruling you won't go to Tartarus.

Gabrielle

And you … do you think it's easier for me to imagine you sent there?

The inn is now empty except for the innkeeper, who is leaving at that moment. Before the door can close completely, it is pushed open again and CALES, followed by two soldiers, enters. The soldiers position themselves to the left and right of Cales. He musters and than addresses the warrior princess.

Cales

You're Xena?

Xena takes a slow look around, then grabs her Chakram and turns her head to face Cales.

Xena

Who wants to know?

Cales

Cales, Lord Protector of Tharsia. You will stand trial for your crimes before the royal court.

Gabrielle stands up and takes a step towards Cales.

Gabrielle

She hasn't done anything. You can't come in here …

Xena stands up too.

Xena

(interrupting)

Save your breath, Gabrielle. Tharsia is one of the few cities where I think I have a clean record, past and present. And even if not … this isn't Tharsia. You have no right to arrest me here.

Cales

I do not know your crime, but King Georg accuses nobody without reason. You will come with us.

Cales waits for a few seconds, but neither Xena nor Gabrielle react.

Cales

Very well. Take them both.

Xena raises her Chakram and throws it. The weapon hits the wall and then the left warrior, knocking him down.

Before it can hit Cales next, he catches it. Xena eyes grow wide with surprise for a moment, but than she grabs her sword while Gabrielle makes herself ready for the possible fight, too. Cales looks at the Chakram briefly, and then he puts it away. The warrior to his right has in the meantime pulled his weapon.

Cales

The inn is surrounded … you will not escape.

Xena

Believe me, I've heard that before!

CALES

You are a great warrior and I respect that, but I have my share of experience. You might have many skills … but I'm prepared for every one of them.

Xena

There is always a way.

Gabrielle

You will need more than a fancy title and a few thugs to kidnap a warrior princess and an Amazon queen.

Cales

I just ask you to think about it before this leads to unnecessary bloodshed.

Xena

You should have thought about that, before threatening us.

Cales

If you two resist, there will be death. And depending on your abilities and luck, you will be among the dead or you will be among the injured, but one thing is certain, you will no longer be among the free.

Xena takes a quick look at Gabrielle. Cales watches her and than seems to have an idea.

Cales

I make you an offer, but only because I don't want anyone injured or killed. I will let your blonde companion go free, if you come with us.

Gabrielle

Well, if you don't want your men getting injured you should leave, because we're just getting warmed up.

Xena stares at Cales, at the same time listening to the sounds that could give away the setup Cales spoke of.

CUT TO:

EXT. SMALL VILLAGE - DAY

Soldiers are all around the inn. Some have bows while others prepare nets. Some villagers and the innkeeper are huddled together near the inn, guarded by soldiers with drawn swords.

CUT TO:

INT. INN - DAY

Xena takes a quick look at Gabrielle and then fixes Cales with her eyes.

Xena

How do I know that you will keep your word?

Cales

I swear by my honor and my sword she's safe as long as she stays away from Tharsia.

Gabrielle

I'll take care of the little one, so you can have big mouth all for yourself.

Xena thinks hard, still staring at Cales. Then she turns and looks straight into Gabrielle's eyes.

Xena

Listen, Gabrielle. He's right … this trap seems well planned. If this is really about my past, it's not worth risking your future for it. Sometimes it's better to avoid a fight and find better ground for it.

(wink)

I will go with them … and you will wait here.

(wink)

A little time in their prison won't do any harm … and I'm sure I'll be a free woman again, soon … after the trial. You stay here …

(wink)

… and we'll meet again, later. Take good care of yourself. I … I will miss you.

Xena gently strokes Gabrielle's right cheek with her left hand. A quick smile flashes across Gabrielle's face, then her look turns serious again.

Gabrielle

I understand.

Xena turns around and looks straight at Cales. She throws her sword to his feet and then just waits.

Cales

Take her away. We leave the village now!

Soldier

What about the girl?

Cales

She's free to go?

The Soldier nods, brings out some chains and advances towards Xena. Cales picks up Xena's sword, looking at it and avoiding Xena's gaze.

Xena is chained and led out of the inn. After she is through the door, Cales raises his head and throws a last look at Gabrielle. Then he turns and thoughtfully walks out.

After he is gone the innkeeper comes back in, looking scared.

Innkeeper

I'm so sorry … they didn't give us a choice.

Gabrielle walks towards the innkeeper, smiling.

Gabrielle

Just tell me the fastest way to Tharsia … avoiding the soldiers, of course. I have to rescue a princess.

CUT TO:

TITLE

In a time of ancient gods ... warlords ... and kings ...

... a land in turmoil cried out for a hero!

She was XENA ...

... a mighty princess, forged in the heat of battle.

The power ...

The passion ...

The danger ...

Her courage will change the world!

CUT TO:

EXT. THE VOID - DARKNESS

There is total darkness … and total silence … except for two voices.

Poseidon

Don't you think Ulysses is a little old for this … honor?

Athena

I know you hate him … he had to suffer ten years of your wrath.

Poseidon

He was one of the greatest heroes … but he doesn't have it anymore.

Athena

The strength of a man doesn't always lie in his muscles. Ulysses is clever, intelligent, experienced, inventive …

Poseidon

… insidious, false …

Athena

Used for the right purpose these could be good qualities.

Poseidon

Well … I knew you wouldn't listen to my advice.

Athena

Maybe you should listen to mine. Aon may be your son … but he is a mindless brute. He doesn't have it.

Poseidon

Don't try to manipulate me … you got your way much to often.

Athena

That only proves … mind wins over muscle anytime.

CUT TO:

EXT. CITY GATES - DAY

Tharsia is a big city, surrounded by a high stonewall. A well build, stone tiled road leads through a big city gate, flanked by two towers. There is a lot of traffic, traders with mules, soldiers in groups, women carrying baskets, children playing and farmers coming home after a day's work.

CALES leads his own horse with a chained XENA sitting proudly on it and soldiers march in two rows behind them.

Cales

How's your leg, warrior?

Xena

Do all prisoners get a special treatment like this?

Cales

Only those who try to slow me down by pretending to sprain an ankle.

Xena

If you knew, why did you play along?

Cales

Why do you always answer with a question?

Xena

Do you really expect me to give in just now?

Cales

No. I expect you to do everything possible to make my life miserable, crowned by your big escape. But believe me, it won't happen that way.

Cales stops right after they pass the gate when he sees four of King Georg's private guards, black armor and two-handed swords on their back, coming towards him. SENAT, a young soldier, wearing the uniform of Cales' men, is a few steps in front of them. He has short black hair and smiles.

Senat stops next to Cales and leans towards him.

Senat

(only to Cales)

You will not like this.

The four guards stop in front of them.

Guard

Greetings Lord Protector. Word has already reached the city that you captured the mighty Xena. The king orders her to be taken to his private dungeon immediately.

Cales doesn't answer and looks unhappy while the private guards take Xena off the horse and drag her away. They handle her very roughly. Senat and Cales stand side by side now and watch Xena's ordeal.

Senat

The king really seems to have a thing for this warrior princess. The private dungeons have been out of use for quite a while now.

Cales

Do you know why?

Senat

Our king still hasn't let anyone in on his secret.

Cales

Well, take the men and lead them back to the barracks, they handled themselves well, they deserve a few days off. Anything else?

Senat

Nothing serious happened during your absence. Let me handle the details … as always.

Cales mounts his horse and slowly follows the guards with Xena.

CUT TO:

INT. THRONE ROOM - DAY

King GEORG sits in his throne, flanked by two of his private guards. A third one, one of those who handled Xena, stands beside him and talks to him. CALES enters, stops in front of the king and bows slightly. He has Xena's weapons in his hands. The guard stops talking and steps into the background.

Georg

I've already heard … you've captured her. Your king is very pleased.

Cales

Xena resisted at first and one of my soldiers was injured … but after …

Georg shows no interest in Cales story, gesturing the guard to come forward again and continue his report.

Georg

(interrupting)

Of course, you handled the affair well. I will have to think about yet another way to honor your services to the throne.

Georg seems to forget Cales, again listening to the guard. Cales looks down at Xena's weapons, then towards the king again. Without another word he turns around and leaves, taking the weapons with him.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS - NIGHT

The quarters consist basically of one room. A small balcony extends it on one side. A table and two benches stand in the middle of the room. Food, drink and a few scrolls are spread out on the table. A big bed with massive wooden posts, up into the ceiling, stands next to the balcony. An entire wall is covered with a big weapon collection, from swords to bows and axes. Xena's sword and her Chakram have already found their place on the wall. The other side of the room has dozens of shelves, filled with everything imaginable.

CALES drops on his bed, without armor or weapons. It is quiet, only a distant whipping can be heard. No sound is heard from the victim, but we can hear every lash. Cales closes his eyes and quickly falls into a restless sleep.

CUT TO:

INT. INN - DAY (Dream - Flashback)

Xena

Sometimes it's better to avoid a fight and find better ground for it.

Gabrielle

She hasn't done anything. You can't come in here …

Xena

How do I know that you will keep your word?

Cales

Cales, Lord Protector of Tharsia. You will stand trial for your crimes before the royal court.

Xena

You have no right to arrest me here.

Cales

I will let your blonde companion go free, if you come with us.

Xena

How do I know that you will keep your word?

Xena

If this is really about my past, it's not worth risking your future for it.

Xena turns around and looks straight at Cales. She throws her sword to his feet and then just waits.

The soldier nods, brings forward some chains and advances towards Xena. Cales picks up Xena's sword, looking at it and avoiding Xena's gaze.

Xena is chained and led out of the inn. After she is through the door, Cales raises his head and throws a last look at Gabrielle before he turns and storms out.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS - NIGHT

CALES wakens, sweating. No sound can be heard. The whipping has stopped. He leaves his bed.

CUT TO:

INT. XENA'S CELL - NIGHT

The cell is a filthy rat hole and only a small opening lets in any light.

XENA sits on the ground, chained against the wall. Her back - turned halfway forward - looks badly beaten. Her eyes are closed. Someone approaches the cell.

Cales (off)

When did the king leave?

Guard (off)

Only a few minutes ago. He …

Cales (off)

(interrupting)

Open the cell.

Guard (off)

The king has ordered to let no one in without his knowledge and order.

Cales (off)

(determined)

Open the cell.

Keys are turned and the cell door opens, CALES enters with a bag, still without weapons or armor. The door is closed behind him. Cales approaches Xena, sets down the bag and takes out a bowl, empties a bottle in it and puts some bandages into the bowl. Xena opens her eyes and looks at Cales.

Xena

This won't help.

Cales

Trust me, I've seen injuries like this. The balm will keep the wounds clean and will keep the pain away. It will make things a lot easier.

Xena

I don't mean my back … this won't help with your guilt. You're just trying to make things easier for yourself.

Cales stops his task. He still does not look at Xena.

Cales

There is nothing I have to feel guilty about … I've only followed orders. You will have a fair trial.

Xena

Stop lying – here is no one who believes you. You're here to nurse your own pains but I have no interest in giving you any salvation.

Cales

I don't need your salvation, I've served the righteous kings of Tharsia for almost 30 years, I've seen Georg grow from a little boy to a great king and Tharsia become a much better place to live than many cities around. I don't need any salvation.

Xena

Then leave, because then you're here because of pity, and I don't want that either.

Xena closes her eyes and Cales finally looks at her.

Cales

As you wish.

Cales puts the bowl into one corner of the cell and knocks on the door.

Xena

Believe me, you can't betray your conscience all the time. Right now you're too good to be a villain and too evil to be a hero. Either way the guilt will become more painful every day. Eventually you have to choose sides. Believe me, I've been there.

Cales

You're nothing like me.

The cell door opens and Cales leaves. After the cell door is closed again Xena opens her eyes and stares into the darkness.

Gabrielle (OFF)

Xena!

CUT TO:

INT. THRONE ROOM - DAY

King GEORG sits in his Throne, anxiously waiting, again flanked by two of his private guards. CALES enters, stops in front of the king and bows slightly.

Cales

How may I be of service to my king?

Georg

I've made up my mind. Xena will be executed tomorrow.

Cales

I didn't know that the royal court was in session this morning.

Georg doesn't show any reaction.

Georg

The sentence will be carried out tomorrow morning, in front of the palace. She will be put to death by torture … for the entire city to watch.

Cales

(disturbed)

But, your majesty, your father forbade torture a long time ago.

Georg

Well, my father had a weak moment. I reinstate death by torture for crimes against the crown. You don't want to question my right to do so?

Cales

The gods have given you the same power over the laws as your father and who am I to question the gods. If Xena's crimes deserve such punishment, than everything will be ready by tomorrow morning.

Georg

Very well. I have ordered one of my personal guards to study this form of execution. He will tell you what is needed.

Cales

Very well, your majesty.

Cales walks away but turns back again.

Cales

Your majesty, just for the official documents … what was Xena's crime against the crown? I always thought she and her armies never entered Tharsia.

Georg

I'm sure you have plenty of things to prepare, so I don't want to steal any more of your precious time.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN FRONT OF THE PALACE - DAY

The place in front of the palace is the heart of the city, all kinds of people can be seen. The palace dominates one side of it, with its main entrance and a big balcony directly over it. Buildings surround the rest of the area. The one to the left of the palace has Cales' quarters on the second floor.

SENAT approaches CALES who has just left the palace. Cales still looks a little disturbed.

Senat

Well, what demon crossed your back?

Cales

Nothing. You're looking for me?

Senat

In fact I was. You remember the blonde you told me about yesterday … the one with the fighting sticks?

Cales

Xena's friend, yes, what about her?

Senat

She tried to break into the prison last night. A group of guards captured her … she searched the dungeon much too long to get away safely. She didn't know about Xena's … special treatment.

Cales

Who knows about this?

Senat

Well, right now only the guards that found her know about it. I ordered them to keep her away from anyone else … I had a feeling about it.

Cales

Let her be brought into my quarters. And take care of those men … maybe we need some in one of our border forts.

Senat

I will find something. Anything else?

Cales

Our king wants Xena executed tomorrow. Prepare the area in front of the palace and have enough guards ready to handle the crowd. One of King Georg's personal guards will carry out the sentence.

Senat

Why this exception?

Cales

He reinstated death by torture. We have to try to keep the children away from the area tomorrow. Can you take care of everything?

Senat

As always.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS - Dusk

CALES enters. Gabrielle is tied to a bedpost, sitting on the edge of the bed. He walks towards her and she moves away as far as possible. Without touching her he drops onto the bed and closes his eyes. There are a few moments of total silence. Then there are whipping noises again. Gabrielle looks out of the open balcony. The palace, where the noises are from, is just across from it.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS - NIGHT

Cales is rudely awakened.

Gabrielle

No!

GABRIELLE stares out of the balcony, it is dark now, tears rolling from her face. There is the sound of another hit by the whip, Gabrielle sobs and drops her head. CALES jumps out of the bed and grabs a bow and an arrow from among his weapons collection. He lights the front half of the arrow and steps to the window. He fires the arrow into the dark.

CUT TO:

EXT. CITY BARRACKS - NIGHT

The arrow hits a wooden building and fire spreads fast around the straw roof. Only seconds later alarm shouts are heard. Soldiers run around, people start to fight the fire and secure other buildings.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN FRONT OF THE PALACE - NIGHT

King GEORG, a bloody whip in his hands, and two of his personal guards appear at the entrance of the palace. He stops a passing soldier.

Georg

What is happening? Is it an attack?

Soldier

No, your majesty, someone has set fire to one of the barracks, a burning arrow was seen landing on the roof.

Georg

Bring me the head of whoever was responsible.

Georg turns around to go back into the palace. Angrily he throws away his whip.

Georg

I'll go to sleep now. Take care of this.

One guard follows the king and the other one follows the soldier.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUArTERS - NIGHT

CALES stares into the night, then turns, throws the bow into a corner and looks at Gabrielle. He steps towards her and unties her. He gestures her towards the table, where there is food and wine. She complies slowly, without saying anything. While she sits down, drinking and eating a little, Cales drops on his bed again. After a few quite moments he addresses Gabrielle.

Cales

How did you meet her?

Gabrielle

What?

Cales

Xena … how did you meet her? How long did you travel with her? Tell me about her.

Gabrielle stays quiet for a moment, but then she starts to talk.

Gabrielle

I met her when she saved our village from the attack of a warlord named Draco. We were all rounded up like sheep and one of Draco's men was about to hit me when she appeared out of nowhere.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS - Dawn

GABRIELLE, still sitting on the bench, sleeps with her head on the table. CALES drapes a blanket over her shoulders. He then takes a look out of the window.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN FRONT OF THE PALACE - Dawn

The area is prepared for Xena's execution. A wooden stage was build and a wooden cross gets erected on top of it right now.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS - Dawn

SENAT enters. Cales gestures him to keep his voice down.

Senat

(whispers)

A little fire seems to have disturbed our king last night. It's a shame that we couldn't find the person who was responsible.

Cales

(whispers)

King Georg will have forgotten it by now. Anyone injured?

Senat picks up Cales' bow and plays with it. Both voices get louder during the following conversation, forgetting about the sleeping Gabrielle.

Senat

No, the attacker carefully selected an empty barrack. The area where the arrow was fired from was carefully searched, but no one was found. Of course, if a good bowman with an even better bow fired the arrow we might have to search a little further away from the barracks.

Cales

I don't think we have to put that much effort in it if nobody was harmed. What about the execution, is everything prepared?

Senat

Everything is ready and as far as I have seen, King Georg's pet really wants to get tough on the warrior princess.

Suddenly, Gabrielle jumps up in the back and runs towards Cales. It seemed she was awake all the time.

Gabrielle

Execution? You have to stop this! Have you forgotten what I told you about her?

Cales grabs the advancing bard and holds her.

Cales

Have you? Somewhere in her past she must have done something to our King that she deserve to die for. I may not like everything that he is doing to her but I have a duty to uphold the law and the will of my king. She might have changed over the years, but it's not my decision to weigh her good deeds against her crimes. You have to accept it, in a few hours Xena will be dead.

Gabrielle

(angry)

No!

GABRIELLE tries to attack CALES, but he and Senat manage to overcome her and tie her again to the bedpost.

Cales

(towards Senat)

You take her away from the city tonight.

He looks back at Gabrielle.

Cales

Maybe I can recover Xena's body so you can give her the funeral she deserves. More than that, I cannot do.

Gabrielle starts to cry - angry. Senat and Cales leave the room and Gabrielle looks out of the window.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN FRONT OF THE PALACE - DAY

Guards have surrounded the stage in front of the palace. The wooden cross stands finished in the middle. One of Georg's private guards prepares instruments for Xena's torture on a small table next to it.

CUT TO:

INT. XENA'S CELL - DAY

XENA lies on the ground. Her back is badly bruised, covered by a dry cloth. Her arms and legs show welts too. She is still in chains. CALES enters and knees beside her. He takes a look beneath the cloth and takes on a worried look.

Xena

I won't die because of this, right?

Cales

No, the king has already decided your fate.

Cales stands up and goes into the corner where his bowl still stands. He picks up the bag next to it and takes out a little bottle.

Xena

Nobody but me decides my fate.

Cales again knees down next to Xena and offers her the little bottle.

Cales

Take this. You won't feel anything.

Xena

It's not over yet.

Cales

If you think your little friend will come to your rescue I have to disappoint you. She was caught yesterday, trying to find you.

Xena

You promised to let her go!

Cales

Only if she keeps away from the city. But I will let her go anyway, today, after your execution.

Xena stares silently at Cales.

Cales

Why does he hate you so much?

Xena

He didn't tell you?

Cales

He doesn't have to. He's the king.

Xena

You have to promise me to take care of Gabrielle.

Cales just nods.

Xena

It was during my time as a warlord and Georg's father, King Lores, was still ruling the city. I was a guest in the palace.

Cales

I was already lord protector of the city during your warlord times, you never set foot on this land. King Lores would have thrown you into the dungeon immediately.

Xena

King Lores mentioned you.

CUT TO:

INT. THRONE ROOM – DAY (FLASHBACK)

The Throne room looks a little different, LORES sits on the throne, flanked by two normal guards, the old warlord XENA sits in front of him, flanked by two warriors.

Lores

Right now my lord protector personally checks the border forts for their battle readiness, I'm well prepared against any attack of yours.

Xena

Other cities thought the same. You're no fool, king, you know you won't get a better deal. My armies will pass Tharsia without entering, but you have to break up the league of the five cities. As their current leader this should be pretty easy.

Lores

And what keeps you from attacking Tharsia anyway, after the other cities fell?

Xena

You know the ways of war, who can say what the future holds. Maybe, sometime, I will turn against Tharsia, or you might turn against me. Let's just say, right now it's a deal that's profitable for both sides. Take it or leave it, I don't have much time.

Lores

You will get your answer before sunset. Until then, consider yourself my guest.

CUT TO:

INT. XENA CELL - DAY

CALES stares at Xena in disbelief.

Cales

King Lores would have never made a deal with you.

Xena

Think about it. Didn't Lores eliminate the league of five cities? And didn't my armies pass Tharsia, while attacking all the other cities around?

Cales

You're making this up to turn me against my king.

Xena

The story isn't over yet.

CUT TO:

EXT. PALACE GARDEN – DAY (FLASHBACK)

The palace can be seen in the background. The garden itself is laid out like a small labyrinth, with many paths and high bushes between them.

XENA practices with the Chakram. One throw goes amiss and she has to retrieve the weapon. She finds herself right behind a little grove where a young GEORG and his FRIEND are talking without noticing Xena.

Georg

This has to stop. The people are starving, every day dozens are killed just for raising their voice and now he even makes a deal with that warrior beast, dooming thousands to a horrible death. What has become of my father?

Friend

You have to look at the truth … your father is nothing more than a tyrant, only interested in keeping himself and those close to him in power. The people deserve so much better in their king. They deserve you.

Georg

I am heir to the throne, but my father will not give up the crown anytime soon.

Friend

Maybe someone has to convince him?

Georg

Stop talking like that. He could have your head for that. We just have to wait and when it's our time we will show the world that a king does not have to rule by the sword.

CUT TO:

INT. XENA'S CELL - DAY

CALES walks up and down.

Cales

This makes no sense. I'd never believe King Lores to be an evil tyrant and Georg behind a conspiracy against him.

Xena

Oh, Georg didn't conspire, but I made sure in my story to King Lores that it looked that way. I didn't want an heir who would oppose my plans. And his brother, Prince Melat seemed like the better choice to me.

CUT TO:

INT. THRONE ROOM – DAY (FLASHBACK)

LORES sits in his throne, flanked by MELAT and XENA. GEORG enters.

Georg

Father, why do you want to see me?

Lores

So, you want the throne, and you don't want to wait until my natural death?

Georg

Father, how could you say such a thing? I would never…

Guards drag in Georg's friend. He looks severely beaten.

Lores

(interrupting)

Your little friend here has already told us everything. I always knew that you were different, that you were not happy with the way I handle things. Well, I've ruled for many years now and I've kept the city and our throne safe from any harm. Right now you seem to be the biggest threat of them all. I hereby declare Melat the new first heir to the throne.

Melat steps forward and takes a position right next to the king.

Lores

I know he will not disappoint me. He will act as my personal adviser from now on. You will have to enter the army or take over any minor royal office of your choice. Now leave and stay out of my sight until I decide otherwise.

CUT TO:

INT. XENA'S CELL - DAY

CALES stands next to the door.

Xena

I left Tharsia the same day and never came back. I would never have guessed that Georg took this so seriously. As far as I knew, Melat died only a year later, reinstating him as an heir. Well, it seems that after all the crimes I did, one of the most harmless of all brings me to an end.

Cales silently leaves the cell. Xena closes her eyes.

CUT TO:

INT. THRONE ROOM - DAY

King GEORG sits in his Throne, flanked by two of his private guards. CALES enters and stops in front of the king … but doesn't bow.

Cales

May I have a word with my king?

Georg

Ah, Cales, is everything ready?

Cales

Yes it is. But I checked with the prisoner, she doesn't seem to be in any shape for the execution planned.

Georg

Well, she's tough … she will give us what we want.

Cales

In her delirium she mentioned meeting you in the past. She mumbled something about being responsible for your brother Melat becoming first heir.

Georg seems to get caught in picture of the past, his look wander to the point where he was standing during the flashback.

Cales

If this were her crime, then maybe you would like to reconsider her judgment. I'm sure she was punished enough for your … temporary loss.

Georg goes from very quiet to raging anger during the following speech, also standing up in the middle.

Georg

I wouldn't allow anyone else to talk to me like this, but you were my teacher. I learned a lot from you. I learned to be like you, but when I lost the throne I learned what's really important. Xena will not be executed because she turned my father against me. It was a valuable lesson for me. She will die because she is responsible for the death of my brother, Prince Melat. Don't forget this. She's responsible for Melat's death!

Cales stares in disbelieve at Georg.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS - DAY

CALES studies Xena's weapons, thoughtful.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN FRONT OF THE PALACE – DAY (FLASHBACK)

A big crowd has gathered, it seems there is a market.

A body (MELAT) drops from the big palace balcony onto the area in front of the palace. CALES rushes through the crowd and knees down next to the prince. Melat is dead. While Cales holds him he finds something on his back. Turning him a big wound can be seen, maybe from a sword.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS – DAY

CALES seems to search for traces of blood on Xena's sword.

Gabrielle

You cannot let this happen. She has changed. She deserves redemption.

Cales continues to stare at the weapon.

Cales

I was there when King Lores was crowned. I remember sitting on my fathers shoulders, seeing him take the crown. And then he made his proclamation, changing a dozen laws with a simple waive of his hand. It was the most impressive sight of my life.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN FRONT OF THE PALACE – DAY (Flashback)

LORES stands on the balcony, flanked by guards, his wife and some guests. The area in front of the palace is filled with people, we see YOUNG CALES on the shoulders of his father - he is maybe 5. Lores picks up a scroll.

Lores

I hereby forbid torture in any form. We are a civilized country and this barbaric procedure has no place in our justice.

He signs the scroll and picks up the next.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS – DAY

Cales

I entered royal service at ten … cleaning outhouses, sometimes boots. I trained in secret with every weapon I could lay my hands on.

CUT TO:

EXT. CITY BARRACKS – NIGHT (Flashback)

Between a few wooden buildings there is an area for weapon training, with wooden and straw targets. It is raining heavily and the place is empty.

The only one there is a YOUNG CALES, around 12, practicing with a sword. He has problems even raising the weapon.

CUT TO:

EXT. CITY BARRACKS – DAY (Flashback)

The sun is shining, a few guards practice in the background.

We see another YOUNG CALES, around 16, again practicing with a sword. He seems quite good and comfortable with the weapon. He finishes with throwing the sword two-handed into a wooden block. Then a horseshoe hits his leg, thrown by one of the guards. He falls down and all the guards have a good laugh. Young Cales picks up the horseshoe and weights it in his hands.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS – DAY

Cales

When I was 18, a soldier hit a girl in front of the palace.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN FRONT OF THE PALACE – DAY (Flashback)

The area is filled with people, it's again market day.

A GIRL is stopped by a GUARD, grabbing her arm. He talks to her but nothing can be heard over the background noise. He hits her across the face and she drops to the ground. YOUNG CALES suddenly charges in and pushes the guard away. The guard pulls his sword and tries to hit him with the hilt. Cales avoids the hit, gets hold of the sword and with one fluid motion pries the sword out of the guard's hands and thrusts it into the man's chest. Cales stands shocked over the dead body and the girl is running away while more guards appear.

King LORES stands on the balcony and watches everything from above.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS – NIGHT

Cales

Because of King Lores' word I was spared. Only one year of labor camp for the life of a soldier. In the camp I saw the girl again. It turned out that she was a thief and a murderer.

CUT TO:

EXT. ENTRANCE TO THE LABOR CAMP – DAY (Flashback)

The entrance to the camp is a simple wooden gate, guarded by a few soldiers.

CALES and a group of prisoners walk towards the opening gate, chained together. In front of the gate, beside the path leading in, there is a tree with the GIRL hanging from it, dead.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS – NIGHT

Cales

But when I left the camp the king allowed me to join the army. When I was 22 I was given the title of Lord Protector, head of the army and the royal guard. King Lores even trusted me with the education of his son Georg.

CUT TO:

INT. THRONE ROOM - DAY (Flashback)

King LORES sits on his Throne, flanked by two guards and a young GEORG, around 12 years old. CALES enters, stops in front of the king and bows slightly.

Cales

How may I be of service to my king?

Lores

I have decided that Prince Georg, as heir to my throne, needs another teacher. He needs to learn the ways of war and he needs to learn how to lead people. I cannot think of anyone better suited than you. Will you accept this additional duty?

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS – NIGHT

Cales

I was very disappointed when Georg was left out of the royal line. When Melat died a year later I think I was happier for Georg to be heir again than I was sad about the death of the prince.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN FRONT OF THE PALACE – DAY (FLASHBACK)

A big crowd has gathered, it seems there is a market.

A body (MELAT) drops from the big palace balcony onto the area in front of the palace. CALES rushes through the crowd and knees down next to the prince. Melat is dead. While Cales holds him he finds something on his back. Turning him a big wound can be seen, maybe from a sword.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS – DAY

Cales

When King Lores called me to his deathbed two years ago, he made me promise to look after Georg and to protect him and the kingdom.

CUT TO:

INT. KINGS BED CHAMBER - DAY (Flashback)

LORES lies in the bed, he looks very ill. Guards, healers and priests stand around, GEORG stands next to the bed, on the left side. CALES approaches from the right side and knees before the bed. LORES moves his right hand towards Cales who takes it.

Lores

(weak)

You will continue to take care of the kingdom?

Cales

Of course, my king.

Lores

(weak)

And take care of Georg. He needs you. Be as loyal to him as you were to me.

Cales

Of course, my king.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS – DAY

Gabrielle

This isn't about you. Xena is going to die. You have to stop it. You can do it.

Cales

It's been taken out of my hands. There is nothing I can do.

Suddenly drum sounds come from outside.

CUT TO:

INT. XENA'S CELL – DAY

CALES checks Xena's chains while guards stand ready to take her out. He pulls out the little bottle again and offers it silently to Xena. She just looks straight into his eyes.

Xena

So, you're staying on the easy path.

Cales

This isn't about me. You're the one that is going to die very painfully.

Xena

You know Georg is wrong and you still play along. You want a nice smile from your king and you want one from me. Well, you won't get it. And if you don't decide, you just end with guilt that will torture you for the rest of your life. But maybe not … maybe I give you credit for too much of a conscience.

Cales

It's taken out of my hands. There is nothing I can do.

Xena

Maybe not … but stop whining. If you want to follow your king then do it. I prefer a treacherous warlord to you anytime.

Cales doesn't answer but silently leads Xena out of the cell.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN FRONT OF THE PALACE – DAY

When they leave the palace XENA stops because of the light and shields her eyes for a moment. CALES steps towards her. Xena sees GABRIELLE over his shoulder, behind the balcony of Cales quarters.

Xena

Just keep your promise. Take care of her.

Cales

You didn't tell me the truth down there, the reason why Georg wants you dead.

Xena

I told you everything I know.

Cales

How can you still lie? We are standing on the very ground where Prince Melat died … in my arms. Where you killed him!

Before she can answer Cales hands the chains to one of the guards and hurries away.

CUT TO:

EXT. PALACE BALCONY – DAY

GEORG sits, flanked by two of his personal guards, overlooking the area of Xena's execution. CALES steps towards the king. Georg doesn't even bother to turn while talking.

Cales

Everything is ready, my king.

Georg

Very good.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN FRONT OF THE PALACE – DAY

Xena is getting tied to the wooden cross. The place is full of people, between them soldiers and SENAT on a horse.

CUT TO:

EXT. PALACE BALCONY – DAY

Georg still doesn't turn, watching Xena on the stage.

Cales

May I ask something?

Georg

(angry)

What?

Cales

If Xena's involvement in the death of your brother was known, why was I never informed during my - unsuccessful - investigations?

Georg

My father knew who had done it and he decided to keep it a secret. You want to question my father?

Cales

It just doesn't seem like him at all. He did take Melat's death very seriously.

Georg talks more to himself now.

Georg

He's still not getting it, is he? When Xena eliminated me from the royal line, I didn't have another choice. I had to prove to my father that I was the rightful heir. I remember it like it was yesterday. Melat was standing on the balcony, he laughed at something down on the street … and he never saw it coming. My sword cut right through his spine. When my father came out he immediately understood what had happened … and he took me into his arms. I was home again. She is the only one to blame for the spilling of royal blood, so she will die.

Cales is stunned. He stumbles away.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS – DAY

CALES stumbles into the room and falls onto his bed. He is shaking. GABRIELLE, in the meantime, watches with growing horror at what is happening down on the stage. Gabrielle's and Xena's eyes seem locked onto each other. Tears roll down from both faces. Suddenly there is total silence.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN FRONT OF THE PALACE – DAY

The executioner takes up a two-handed hammer and steps towards Xena, raising it. She closes her eyes. With a terrible sound, her right arm is broken. Laughter comes from the royal balcony. The executioner raises the hammer again.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS – DAY

It is silent. GABRIELLE still stares out of the window - but not crying anymore.

Suddenly someone cuts the ropes binding her to the bedpost. It's CALES, using Xena's Chakram and holding his own sword in the left hand.

He steps past the surprised Gabrielle onto the balcony … and throws the Chakram.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN FRONT OF THE PALACE – DAY

Xena's Chakram cuts through the executioner's raised right arm, cuts through Xena's left arm ties and ends up stuck in the cross.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS – DAY

GABRIELLE jumps up and runs forward. CALES, in the meantime, takes another step, jumping onto the balcony's rail. Cales and Gabrielle jump from the balcony almost simultaneously … Cales straight down and Gabrielle forward, over the railing, diving towards the stage with Xena.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN FRONT OF THE PALACE – DAY

CALES lands next to the stage on his feet and turns towards the palace. GABRIELLE lands on the stage, rolling forward and then jumping up, right in front of the executioner.

The man is standing there in shock, staring at his missing arm – the hammer long dropped. Gabrielle pushes him to the side and he falls backwards off the stage.

Around the stage all hell already has broken loose. While SENAT tries to keep order, people are running in every direction, guards are wrestled down, fights break out.

XENA has taken the Chakram into her left hand and cuts loose her broken arm, obviously in pain. Then she frees her legs.

When a bowman targets Xena, Gabrielle grabs a sharp instrument from the table next to the cross and throws it – hitting the archer in the shoulder. The man drops his bow, grabbing his shoulder in pain.

Gabrielle and Xena now stand face to face … once more they look into each other's eyes. A short smile appears on their serious faces. Gabrielle gently strokes Xena's left cheek with her right hand.

Then, on some secret signal, they both turn towards the palace and jump forward, down from the stage.

In front of the palace CALES, in the meantime, has fought against some of Georg's personal guards. He fights quickly and efficiently, in contrast to Xena's more play-like fighting style. All members of the normal guard stand aside and show no sign of raising their weapons against him.

Xena and Gabrielle join the fight, one on either side of Cales, quickly turning the tide in their favor. Xena uses the Chakram and Gabrielle fights unarmed. The three press forward into the palace.

Senat has managed to gain control of most of the area with most of the soldiers following his orders. Senat leans down from his horse to one of them.

Senat

Make sure that the soldiers we cannot trust are disarmed and removed from their post. I don't know how this is going to end, but I want to be on the safe side.

Soldier

You think the Lord Protector will … kill the king?

Senat

Worst things have happened. Just make sure we are prepared.

CUT TO:

INT. THRONE ROOM – DAY

GEORG enters the room from behind the throne, escorted by his two personal guards. CALES, XENA and GABRIELLE enter from the other side.

The guards attack them immediately and Xena and Cales take them on – Gabrielle still has no weapon.

Georg quietly sits down on his throne, resting his right hand on a sword.

Georg

So, you finally betray your king. I was right, I never trusted you completely. My father always said that you lost your innocence when killing that soldier, but I knew there was still something left that would prevent you from serving me to the last. But you were too good an army leader to dismiss.

Cales and Xena overcome the guards easily, killing them. Xena is visibly weakened and Gabrielle jumps forward to support her when she stumbles forward. Cales stands next to them and raises his sword, pointing it at Georg.

Georg

You can still keep your oath, your loyalty. I could forgive you. Kill her for me. Quick and painless … that's what you want for her, don't you?

Cales

Don't remind me of my oath. I keep my loyalty … I keep my loyalty to this city. The people deserve so much better in their king. They don't deserve you.

Georg

(towards Cales)

You think they deserve you? Do you really think you could be a better king?

Cales

No, I don't. I served you and your father far too long. I was your willing executioner. I was hiding behind duty when actually I was suppressing the knowledge about all these atrocities. This is not about replacing a tyrant.

Georg

(towards Xena)

So it's because of Melat, because I killed him? How many lives have you taken? How many deaths have you ordered? How many were murdered while you looked the other way?

Xena

(weak)

I'm not here to judge you. You will have to face your guilt … like all of us.

Georg

(towards Gabrielle)

Then all this is because of a woman? Because of what I did to her?

Gabrielle

It's not what you did … it's what she did. She was the Destroyer of Nations, a warlord feared by enemies and friends alike. But she changed. She showed everyone who is willing to see it, that you can break the cycle. Many of us never make a decision in our life, we follow fate like a loyal dog. They didn't see all the evil that happened? Oh, they saw it. But they lied to themselves. People prefer to follow the easy path … and that makes them as guilty as you are.

Georg

So, you will kill me.

Xena

We're not your judges.

Georg

You're right … nobody has the right to judge but me.

Georg jumps up and attacks Xena, who barely blocks his attack – Xena and Gabrielle stumble backwards.

Cales moves forward, his sword still pointed at Cales. Now the weapon buries itself in Georg's chest. The king breaks down, his face still showing hate and anger. Slowly he slips to the ground – off the sword.

Cales stares down at the dead king and then at his bloody weapon. He slowly turns it around, pointing it at himself.

Behind him, Gabrielle can no longer support the now unconscious Xena and the warrior princess slips down to the ground, too.

Cales takes another look at his sword and the king, than he drops his weapon and helps Gabrielle pick up Xena.

CUT TO:

INT. CALES QUARTERS – DAY

CALES enters his quarters, XENA in his arms. She is still unconscious and he lays her carefully on his bed. GABRIELLE, following them, is ecstatic but also worried.

Gabrielle

Xena? She is alive, isn't she? Xena!

Cales steps away and gets some bandages and a bowl. He starts to carefully clean Xena's wounds. She awakes.

Gabrielle

Xena, you're alive. By the gods, I thought I would see you die. How do you feel?

Xena

(weak)

It's okay, Gabrielle. It's okay.

SENAT enters. He has a little wound on his forehead.

Senat

This was quite a show you pulled off out there. Next time give me a little hint.

Cales

If it was a surprise to you, why did all the soldiers around the stage seem to be handpicked for their loyalty towards us?

Senat

Well, you never know. I never gave up hope you might take a stand some day.

Gabrielle has sat down next to Xena on the bed and holds her left hand, at the same time carefully stroking her hair.

Senat

And what now? The people out there are afraid. They sit at home and think some new tyrant will take over the city. I bet some of them have already forgotten how it was with Georg on the throne, just wishing it to be over.

Gabrielle cannot hold back anymore – she hugs Xena, who winces in pain. Cales stands next to the bed and looks at them, while continuing to talk to Senat.

Cales

The city needs a new king.

Senat

Nobody would object if you would take the title.

Cales

I will leave the city. I served the old kings for too long, I have to look for my redemption elsewhere. But you would make a fine king.

Senat

Hey, I'm just a good second in command. I'm not a leader.

Cales

You handled yourself very well out there. Go, call together the city council and they will offer you the job anyway.

Senat

Tharsia will always be your home … and I hope you come back one day.

Cales

I hope that, too.

Cales turns his attention to Xena again.

Cales

Let me take care of the arm. Your friend can clean your back.

Gabrielle

Thank you! Thank you for both of us.

Xena avoids Cales look.

Cales

No. No, I didn't do anything. I can never ask for forgiveness for all the things that happened. I know … I owe her my soul.

Gabrielle

We all do … in some way.

Cales moves away to the shelves while Gabrielle takes over cleaning Xena's wounds.

Gabrielle

I thought I lost you for good.

Xena

We've survived worse.

Gabrielle

Next time … no compromise. We fight our way out … immediately.

Xena

I think I'm getting old. Normally my plans work.

Gabrielle

They do. You just didn't use your sword this time.

Xena

Talking yourself out of situations like that … isn't that supposed to be your way?

Xena finally manages a smile.

Gabrielle

Don't you know … we don't follow separate ways anymore.

Xena

You know what was the worst thing? When Georg came down to my cell. I'm not talking about the whip. I remembered how I first met him. He seemed like a gentle soul, so much like you. At that time I hated him for that, and I ruined his life. And he changed … down there I saw myself, my past, all preserved in his … tortured mind. I will never forget that.

Gabrielle gently strokes Xena's cheek.

Gabrielle

It'll heal … eventually it'll heal.