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EXT. CAMPSITE - EARLY MORNING
It is a foggy, somewhat chilly morning.
Gabrielle kneels next to a still sleeping Xena. Gabrielle is already dressed, and she tucks a fold of the sleeping furs around Xena in a tender gesture. Her expression is worried.
Slowly, Gabrielle stands up and goes over to Argo.
Keep an eye on her, okay?
She just fell asleep before dawn.
Argo shoves Gabrielle in the stomach with her nose.
Hey! That's cold!
Argo knickers, in a tone that is definitely critical.
I'll be right back. I just want
to talk to Toris, that's all.
If a horse can be said to roll her eyes, Argo does. Gabrielle gives Argo a pat on the neck, then she starts off through the fog. It closes around her, obscuring her from view.
EXT. VILLAGE GATES - EARLY MORNING
Gabrielle steps out of the fog onto the road that leads into the village. She stops at the smell of acrid smoke that lingers, though she cannot yet really see the village.
Uh oh. Why don't I believe
that's a barbeque?
Gabrielle walks forward. As the fog recedes, she sees what is left of the gates, broken and charred with new additions lying shattered in the road. She steps over them carefully and enters, her eyes met with a scene of devastation.
As Gabrielle moves on, more of the village is revealed. Most of the buildings are burned... some to the ground, other partially. The well has been pulled down. On the ground, bodies lie of both humans and animals.
Gabrielle stops. She stands in the square and turns completely around, sickened.
Hello? Is anyone here?
A door swings open and Gabrielle turns, but it is only the wind, blowing the wood back and forth.
All is silent for a bit more, then Gabrielle hears scuffing footsteps approaching, and she shades her eyes into the fog.
Jaral appears, limping, his clothing bloodstained. He approaches Gabrielle with a haggard, shocked expression. Gabrielle rushes forward to meet him, supporting him with an arm around his shoulders.
Jaral sits down on the remainder of the well.
They came. We burned.
Jaral looks around.
Gabrielle is visibly upset.
I wish we'd....
I wish you'd, too.
But I don't think anyone could have
helped us. They came too fast,
and they just caught us by surprise.
Did they attack for a purpose?
Jaral scrubs his face with one hand, and shrugs his shoulders.
They took our supplies. I guess
that's what they wanted.
Gabrielle gets up and walks around, studying the destruction. Sadly, it is not a new sight to her eyes, and she sees things not obvious to Jaral.
They need a constant source
of supply, if they're living in
this area. Not many towns.
Jaral merely watches her, with uncomprehending eyes.
Why destroy the only
one they can raid?
Jaral has obviously not thought of this. He gets up and limps over to her.
We were reinforcing the gates.
Toris was afraid this would happen.
Gabrielle turns and looks at the gates, just visible in the fog.
Maybe they didn't want
anything slowing them down.
Where is Toris? Did he get hurt?
Jaral looks at Gabrielle and shakes his head.
We didn't find him, living or dead.
The last I saw him, he was fighting
one of them near the edge of the
fence, and then... I don't know.
Maybe they took him.
Maybe he ran.
Both Jaral and Gabrielle look up at the opening that once held the gates. The fog slowly swirls back and reveals Xena on Argo, moving out of the mist and into solid reality.
Jaral is indignant.
How can you say that? He
was the first one to fight!
Xena doesn't look impressed by this. She stops Argo next to them and gets down.
Because I know him. Let's just
say he's got a history of it.
Xena, that was a long
time ago. People change.
Xena half shrugs, as though conceding the point. She looks around at the destruction, and sighs heavily. Gabrielle waits for her to speak, but she doesn't.
What if they did take him?
Last thing he'd want is
me coming after him.
Jaral looks from one to the other as they speak, not entirely understanding what is going on.
All the more reason for us to go.
You could stay here and
help these people recover.
Pigs could fly, if they had
wings and the right attitude.
Xena nods, as though the entire conversation were just a formality, with a foregone conclusion.
We held the bastards long enough for
many to escape. At least we have that.
Keep thinking that way. Start rebuilding.
Some will say... they'll just come back.
Xena turns and starts walking towards the gates, leading Argo. Gabrielle puts her hand on Jaral's shoulder.
Not if we can do anything about it.
Gabrielle turns and follows Xena out. Jaral stands and watches them as the fog swallows them up.
EXT. DEEP FOREST TRAIL - DAY
Xena and Gabrielle move through the trees. Xena concentrates on finding and analyzing the trail of the raiders. Gabrielle watches Xena's back, and keeps an eye out for trouble. They have left Argo behind.
Xena pauses to examine some broken branches.
Looks like some of them
came through here, at least.
Xena kneels and touches almost hidden hoof prints in the leaf litter.
Didn't make much effort to hide.
They didn't expect anyone
to follow them?
Xena gets up and dusts her hands off.
Probably not. Let's go.
Gabrielle follows Xena up the path. It is starting to slope considerably upward. Gabrielle winces slightly, looks around, then starts to use tree branches to help herself move upward.
Did I mention how much I
hate waking up late, alone?
Sorry. I was hoping
I'd be back fast.
Xena climbs upward, picking a path through the trees.
Know what woke me up?
Gabrielle follows with a determined expression.
Gabrielle is surprised.
When you saw that
village, I felt it.
Xena nods. She stops and turns, offering Gabrielle a hand. Gabrielle takes it and gets pulled up onto a small flat space next to Xena. They face each other.
I did. Just like I'm feeling
you hurting now.
Gabrielle's eyes drop, then she looks directly at Xena.
You told me the only way for me
to get back my strength was
to use my body. I’m using it.
I'm not going back.
Xena clasps Gabrielle's hand, and starts off again.
Didn't think you would.
With Xena's help, Gabrielle finds it much easier and they proceed up the slope following the raider's trail.
EXT. VILLAGE SQUARE - DAY
The surviving villagers are removing debris. The bodies are gone, a smoldering pyre a testament to their disposal. Many villagers are injured; they are bandaged haphazardly. Jaral limps around, directing the work.
If we can just clear out the well....
Should we bother?
Several other villagers mutter in agreement.
Might as well just put the harvest
out on a wagon for ‘em. We'll starve.
Jaral looks around, and realizes he's in the middle of a growing crowd, most of whom seem to agree with the sentiment.
No. I think we'll be okay.
Jaral, you're nuts. What can two
women do against that whole army?
Toris didn't have much use for ‘em.
Two men come into the village through the gates, half carrying a third. The third man is a raider, and he's injured but alive.
What's that? One of them?
Why bring him? Leave him
in the forest to die!
One of the two militia men drop the injured man's arms and trot over to Jaral.
Jaral, we found him nearby. He told
us where the raider's camp is!
What? Where? That's great!
I'll go after Xena and tell her!
You better go after her. It's in
Hades’ Hollow. They walk in
there, they'll never come out.
Jaral grabs the man's arm.
Come with me. Hurry.
Jaral and the militia man leave at as fast as pace as Jaral can manage. The rest of the villagers gather around the injured raider, with ominous expressions.
EXT. DEEP FOREST TRAIL - LATE AFTERNOON
High above the village, Xena and Gabrielle peer over a rocky outcropping. They look down on a chasm, with a small path leading down into it, the only apparent way in or out.
Xena examines the terrain. Below, under cover, she can just barely see guards who have an easy shot at the path. Past that, the raider's camp is just visible, a curl of smoke coming up through the trees, and the tops of hide tents showing.
As they watch, two raiders emerge into a clear space, dragging a body between them. Even at this distance, both Xena and Gabrielle recognize him.
Xena! It's Toris.
They've got him.
Which means we've
gotta get in there.
Gabrielle stares down at the camp.
Xena leans over and looks at the sheer drop beneath them.
Damn good question.
END OF ACT THREE