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EXT. PETRONIKUS TEMPLE - NIGHT - CONTINUOUS
Gabrielle holds her hands up.
You can throw them.
But I'll throw them back.
Think! What would a
god need with grain?
Yes! Think! But think of the peace
the message of the watcher has
brought to us all. The message
of love, and of brotherhood....
Gabrielle turns again to face him.
And of thievery?
My brothers, stop her tongue. The
watcher commands me to ask it. Now!
EXT. PETRONIKUS INN SURROUNDING TREES
Xena gets ready to leap out.
Duck, baby. Duck.
EXT. PETRONIKUS TEMPLE - NIGHT
The men rush Gabrielle. Gabrielle dives out of the way, as rocks start to fly.
But the rocks are not aimed at Gabrielle. They strike the men in tunics instead. The crowd lets out a yell.
The men in tunics react, attacking the crowd. Gabrielle, caught between them, picks up a stick and whacks one of the brothers with it.
Feeling the love?
In the name of the watcher,
I order you to disperse!
Xena leaps over most of the crowd and lands next to Gabrielle. She grabs one of the men attacking and swings him around, smashing him into the platform. The crowned sun sigil goes flying off into the bushes.
The crowd is not much use, but they throw sticks and rocks, half afraid, half excited as the brothers start to fall back before Xena and Gabrielle's attack.
Hold them, my brothers!
The holy word is behind you!
The innkeeper is struggling in the grasp of two of the brothers. She screams in terror. Gabrielle ducks under one of the brother's arms and punches him in the guts. He keels over. Gabrielle whirls and takes the second man out with a roundhouse kick to the side of the head. The innkeeper stumbles away, half hysterical.
Take them! Take them!
Xena grabs the edge of the platform and heaves it over. Alstan goes tumbling off and falls to the ground.
Two of the brothers take hold of Alstan and bolt for the temple doors. The rest fall back, fending off the rocks from the now emboldened crowd.
Run! Run like the cowards you are.
Wherever you spread your false
words, we'll find you and stop you!
The men rush into the temple and slam the door shut. A heavy bolt is heard being thrown.
Xena draws her sword and lets it fly. It buries itself a foot deep in the wooden door and a faint scream is heard through it.
And don't you forget it.
It grows quiet in the courtyard. The crowd seems unsure of what to do now that the fight is over. They also seem a little doubtful of what they did.
Thanks for not stoning me.
The innkeeper edges closer. Her dress is ripped, and she is scratched from her close call with the two men.
What have we done?
What if he was right and the
watcher hates us now?
A nervous whisper starts up.
I'm not sure what kind of message
he was giving you, but I know a
bunch of con men when I see
them, and I just saw them.
It didn't start out that way! When they
came, they talked about how empty
our lives had been since the gods
left us, and how we should join
together and love each other....
It sounded good.
It did... but then after a while they
started asking for more and more and....
The crowd mutters, and nods.
If you said no, the brothers would
come to you and talk you into it.
Xena nods. She has seen it all too many times before.
They took advantage of you.
You must think us fools.
No. Wanting to believe in something
isn't foolish. We all want that.
The crowd looks uneasily at the temple.
Well, now what? They'll come out
of there soon enough, and then
we'll be in big trouble.
Xena walks over near the door and stands in the torchlight.
No you won't. We'll put a guard on this
door tonight, so no one gets out, right?
The crowd seems willing and interested in following this new leader among them.
Then tomorrow, me and Gabrielle will
go in there and clean the place out.
Why would you do that, for us?
We don't even know you.
Xena looks at Gabrielle, who smiles.
It's just what we do.
The crowd shifts. Three or four big men emerge, and head for the door. They all have somewhat sturdy looking sticks in their hands, and they plant themselves on either side of the doorway to watch.
That's it. You men stay there, and if
you hear anyone trying to open
that door, you start yelling.
The men nod. Xena claps Gabrielle on the back, and they start to head off back down the path towards the town center.
EXT. PETRONIKUS TOWN SQUARE - NIGHT
As the crowd moves through the square, Alstan's wife and his daughter Heriet hide behind a tree, looking upset and terrified.
Coming last, Gabrielle spots them as they try to escape towards the temple. Her eyes meet Herietís.
There is nothing but anger and hatred in the girl's eyes. Gabrielle turns and continues walking.
EXT. PETRONIKUS TEMPLE - REAR - NIGHT
It is dark. The moon is behind the trees. The town is mostly silent, except for the torches kept burning at the front of the temple, along with the sound of men talking nearby.
In the back wall of the temple, a panel very slowly starts to open.
After a few seconds, one of the brother's heads pokes out, and he looks around carefully. Seeing no one, he exits the back of the building, followed by a few of the others.
They stop and press themselves against the wall of the building and listen.
Nothing disturbs the silence. One man nods. A second makes a hand signal in the opening in the back of the temple. More men emerge, along with Alstan.
They all have backpacks on their backs, stuffed full. After a few more moments of listening, they start off through the trees after closing the panel in the back of the temple.
EXT. OVERLOOK OUTSIDE PETRONOKUS - NIGHT
Alstan and his men walk along the ridge. Behind them, several other figures stumble... it is Alstan's wife and daughter and two other women who followed them from the town.
Sir, it wasn't the people.
It was those... those women.
Did you hear what they said?
They're going to other places....
I heard. That is why we're going right to
the holy place. The guard of the watcher
will know what to do, and must be warned.
He pauses and glances back.
Then we will go back there
and re-teach them the message.
What about those women?
They will be taken care of. The word
of the messenger will not be denied.
The small group walks on down the path.
EXT. OVERLOOK OUTSIDE PETRONOKUS - NIGHT
Xena and Gabrielle crouch on a ridge over the path. They watch Alstan and his people walk past them.
There they go.
With any luck, right back to
wherever this thing started.
Xena and Gabrielle get up and follow the group, walking along the ridge over the path just out of sight.
EXT. HEDELON CITY - DAY - ONE WEEK LATER
Hedelon City stands at the end of a stone lined road. It is large, and has thick stone walls. The crowned sun sigil is painted in several prominent places, and many people walking in and out of the city also wear the sigil on their robes.
Alstan and his people enter the gates. They are greeted by the men standing nearby with waves and warm shouts.
Alstan! Brother! We didn't expect
you before another moon!
Ah, my friend. I need council! There
has been a challenge to the message,
and I've come for wisdom in defeating it.
Several men gather around him. Unnoticed, Xena and Gabrielle pause in the shadow of the walls to listen. They look around in disbelief at the size of the city, and the number of people.
Xena, this is a lot bigger than I imagined.
Me too. Hard to believe something like
this grew so fast.... Right under our noses.
The guard puts his arm around Alstan's shoulders.
Trouble? Hard to believe. The word has
gone out over the land, and many have
come here to celebrate it. Look around!
Alstan turns and looks. The city seems full of pilgrims.
A sight for sore eyes. But no matter,
it's only a minor setback. Come. Let's
go to the temple, so I can hear again
the message and restore myself.
The travel party heads off down a wide avenue. As they pass a statue, they turn and bow respectfully to it, then continue on. Xena and Gabrielle start after them.
We need to find out who's behind this,
Xena. We can't take on a whole city. And
these people really sound like they.... Hey!
Xena has stopped short in her tracks. Gabrielle plows into her and bounces off, grabbing hold of Xena's arm to steady herself.
We just found out.
Gabrielle turns and finds herself staring at the statue.
It is Eve.
To be continued....