The Thracian Hillbillies

By PhantomBard


Disclaimer: This is a fan fiction parody of a TV adventure/action series, and a TV situation comedy. It's not really Beverly Hills, and it's not exactly the Xenaverse either. There are several production companies that own these characters, concepts, music, and settings, in their original forms, which have been significantly abused in the production of this travesty. Any disavowal of copyright infringement is an empty and self-serving falsehood. Luckily no one actually reads this stuff, right? Right? In my own defense I can only offer that this was written in response to the Academy of Bards' Bard Challenge #9, Must Xe-TV, in June/July 2003.

Warnings: Animal deaths, narcotic consumption, dysfunctional relationships, bad food.

Special thanks: To my beta reader, who refused to have her name associated with this project. Your corrections, heckling, ridicule, and taunts are under appreciated. (Wish you wouldn't drink and smoke so much, and I hope you're more coherent in the future).

*Readers can vent their spleens after the contest at : ?????

Cast List (an attribution of caricatures)

(Jed Clampett) Xena of Amphipolis (as played by Lucy Lawless)

(Jethro Bodine) A mortal Ares, former God of War (as played by Kevin Smith)

(Elly May Clampett) Gabrielle of Potidaea (as played by Renee O'Connor)

("Grannie" Daisy Moses) Cyrene the Innkeeper (as played by Darien Takle)

(Milburn Drysdale) Lao Ma (as played by Jacqueline Kim)

(Margaret Drysdale) Lao Tzu (played dead)

(Jane Hathaway) Borias (as played by Marton Csokas)

(John Brewster-Oil Co. Pres.) Salmoneus (as played by Robert Trebor)

Weekly Special Guests: Ming Tsu and Ming Tien

Opening Weekly Intro

Fade in: Intro Montage with star credits superimposed on picture, flashback footage sequences with accompanying music track. Cue music track, theme song:

Come 'an listen to my story 'bout a fam'ly on the run,

Fleein' Caesar's Rome, headin' towards the risin' sun,

The deadly Warrior Princess had a price put on her head,

'Cause Julius the Emperor would pay to see her dead.

That's a 6 million dinars in gold kinda' dead!

Well, next thing ya know Xena got her warlord loot,

Packed up her mom, her soulmate, 'an a money grubbin' coot,

She even took along the mortal God of War,

Just to reminisce 'bout the slaughter an' the gore.

Warriors! They love a good kill! (Kill 'em all, that is!)

'Ol Xena bought a palace but her livestock really stank,

Their next door neighbors were a philos'pher and a skank,

Lotsa' folks objected, but the philos'pher had to try,

The golden lady's burden was to reform the Thracian's sty.

Civilize 'em! Socialize 'em. Sic 'em on her rivals the Mings, that is!

So enjoy the consternashun of the country they live in,

A warlord 'an her fam'ly ruinin' the land 'o Chin,

Adventures kinda' happened as their destiny unfurled,

Their, uhh, "courage", (Tee Hee), is gonna change the world.

The Ancient World, that is! Take yer boots off. Sharpen yer sword a spell.

Verse 1 Montage Elements

Episode, Ides of March, Xena puts the pinch on a bounty hunter who tells her that Caesar has put a bounty on her head and everyone is hoping to cash in. Cut to: Caesar sitting at a table, looking into a bag with a fake Xena's head inside. Cut to:

Verse 2 Montage Elements

Episode, Armageddon Now, hand holding a Xena the Conqueror coin. Cut to:

Episode, Old Ares Had A Farm, Xena on Argo II proceeding Gabrielle, at the reins of the farm wagon filled with caged livestock. Cut to:

Episode, Lyre, Lyre, Hearts on Fire, Cyrene playing matchmaker. Cut to: Gabrielle at a table getting a migraine during the insufferable band auditions. Cut to:

Episode, The Greater Good, Salmoneus dressed as Lord Seltzer. Cut to:

Episode, You Are There, Ares with a huge mug of ale, bare chested, in the Norse brothel. Cut to:

Verse 3 Montage Elements

Episode, Back in the Bottle, Xena in the deserted palace. Cut to:

Episode, The Debt, Lao Ma leaning over the bedridden Lao Tsu, then moving to write a verse in the Book of Wisdom. Cut to:

Episode, The Debt, Ming Tsu grinning as the child Ming Tien looks bewildered. Cut to:

Verse 4 Montage Elements

Episode, Back in the Bottle, lines of refugees fleeing down a country road. Cut to:

Episode, Purity, a rocket attack on the Village Square. Cut to: Pao Su's camp going up in flames. Cut to:

Episode, A Good Day, feral Xena with a sword in each hand slashing at Roman solders in a manic rage.

Show title appears over the action, type holds 10 seconds.

Fade out: Picture and music track.


Act 1

Fade in: Ext., somewhere in Chin, afternoon.

>A wide panning shot of a dry landscape where coarse grass covers empty rolling hills. The camera reveals a fortress surrounded by a moat. We've seen it before, at night, in The Debt. It is the fortress of the Mings.

Cut to: a stationary shot. In the foreground are several very old, very desiccated heads, impaled on spikes, overlooking the fortress. Softly focused in the distance, a rider and an ox-drawn wagon come into view over the crest of the hill. The camera racks focus from the severed heads to sharply reveal the travelers. It's Xena and her "family". The wagon bed is piled high with livestock cages; chickens, piglets, and rabbits. A pair of cattle is tethered behind the wagon. They are followed by a flock of sheep being herded by a small, hyperactive dog with mismatched eye colors.

Cut to: a medium dolly shot following the action. Gabrielle is driving the wagon, with Salmoneus blabbering excitedly beside her. In the back, in chairs perched precariously among the cages, are Ares and Cyrene, visibly bickering. Xena is riding slightly ahead of the wagon on Argo. She drops back beside Gabrielle as they pass near the spikes.


(To Gabrielle, with a contented smile, while surveying their surroundings)

Ahhh, Chin. Jus' like I remember it.


(To Xena, while gesturing at the heads on spikes with a wide-eyed look)

Are…are those the same heads from your warlord days?


(Glancing dismissively at them)

Prob'ly. The Chin-folk love their history.

(Grimacing as she whispers to herself)

I'd wager they remember my history too.

Wonder if they'll be chuckin' rocks in welcome?


(Glancing at the Ming's fortress, then looking approvingly at the heads)

Xena, I'm liking this place already. Oh yeah!

It has possibilities that miserable hovel never had.


(Indignant, complaining to Xena)

I'm sure you had the best intentions, Xena, but I still can't believe you

let him stay on our farm. That was my parents' homestead, back in the

good 'ol days. I have so many blissful memories of growing up there…

the healthy air, the simple life, the honest people. Miserable hovel, indeed!


(Sarcastically to Cyrene)

Not to mention the tapeworms, the ringworms, the lice, the boredom,

the leaky roof, the ignorant peasants, the outhouse, and the proximity

of the livestock. The only good thing about staying there was….


(Brightly over her shoulder to Ares with helpful sincerity)

You found your only remaining worshipper…Horace.

Cut to: Shot of Cyrene and Ares seated atop the wagon. Cyrene chuckles. Ares glares at her and kicks the leg of her chair so that she has to grab the rabbit cages to keep from falling out of the wagon.



Just wait till we get settled. Ha! We'll form an army, celebrate our

arrival with some bloodshed and pillage, gild the palace, gather tribute,

take a few hundred slaves…and abduct some flute-playing girls.

It'll be just like the good old days, Xena!


(Hopeful, despite being nervous about Ares' talk of violence)

Uhhh, okay, war can be profitable…I've got it!

We'll sell statues of Xena as the Conqueror. Maybe two versions…

a bronze deluxe edition and a gold plated special collector's edition.

Ares is right, this land has possibilities. I'll have to find out about the local labor, transportation, trade tariffs, business taxes and bribe schedules, amoralization

and deprecation of resources, assassination of copyrights….


(Looking askance at Salmoneus sitting next to her)

Guess you can take the peddler out of Greece,

but you can't take the grease out of the peddler.


(Enthusiastically to Gabrielle)

Gabrielle, we'll market your biography of Xena, the Liberator of Chin.

I can see it now, in the exclusive leather bound "Conqueror Edition".


(Leering agreeably)

Xena…leather bound Conqueror, yeah! I like it already!

Cut to: Int., the throne room in the Ming's fortress, same time.

>A medium shot with Ming Tsu with his back to camera. He turns from the window he's been looking out of to face us; his expression is one of disgust. He beckons to an attendant and then turns back to look out the window.

Ming Tsu

(Haughtily, pointing out the window)

What is that disgusting procession out there?

Those foreigners degrade the landscape.

Cut to: Ming Tsu's POV, looking out of the throne room window with the travelers from Thrace visible in the distance, just passing the heads on spikes.

Cut back to: a wider shot of the throne room from a second angle. A generic fawning toady of a court advisor, (perhaps another role for the Chou En-lai resembling actor who played the prisoner in The Debt and the master smith in A Friend In Need), approaches to a respectful distance behind Ming Tsu. Ming Tsu's son, the 6-year old heir, Ming Tien, is sitting on the floor between two guards, halfheartedly forcing bronze needles through a puppy's belly.

Court Advisor

(Nauseatingly solicitous)

Why, it is foreigners degrading the landscape, as you said, my Lord Ming.

Ming Tsu

(Rolling his eyes, but pleased by the advisor's obeisance)

Yes, I suspected as much! But just who are they?

Court Advisor

They are the new owners of the Lao's old palace, most Glorious One.

They are said to have come from Thrace, your Excellence.

Ming Tsu

(Cupping his chin in his hand, meaning he's contemplating the news)

Thrace is the backwoods ghetto of Greece. It's almost part of Persia.

They're undoubtedly refugee squatters. We'll send some troops to

drive them off. New owners indeed. Bahhh! Even an airhead like

that Lao woman wouldn't accept a miserable pack of foreigners

living in her old palace. This is ridiculous!

Court Advisor


But, your Effluence, the foreign woman proffered gold coins

bearing her own likeness with which she paid Lao Ma in full.

The foreigners are wealthy, your Excremescence.

Ming Tsu

(Angrily working up to a rant)

Wealthy Thracians? Impossible! They're peasants! This is unacceptable!

Barbarians…living next door? With all their filthy animals?

It's a scandal! The Laos have sold us out! This is all Lao Ma's fault.

I shall have to do something about this. I'll start by paying those

peasants a visit tomorrow. Make sure our horses are ready. Ming Tien!

>Ming Tien's head snaps up at his father's command. As usual he says nothing, but regards Ming Tsu with his ever-baleful expression. The puppy is pinned to the carpet in several places.

Ming Tsu

(Haughtily to Ming Tien, while casting a quick glance at the puppy)

Tomorrow I will take you to view the foreign barbarians, my son.

It will be…instructional. Now, are you finished playing with your dinner?

>Ming Tien gulps and begins pulling the needles out of the puppy. Ming Tsu grins with approval. The Court Advisor scoops up the puppy and bows his way out of the room, going off to deliver the heir's dinner to the wok mongers in the kitchen, and then make his master's arrangements for the next day.

Cut to: Ext., the "Tranquility Garden" in the new Palace of Lao, same time.

>Establishing wide shot of Lao Ma seated tranquilly on a bench. Her husband, Lao Tzu, is pacing in front of her, furiously puffing on an opium pipe.

>Cut to a medium shot framing the couple.

Lao Tzu

(Manic and irritable despite the narcotics. He stomps on a persimmon sapling)

Silly woman! How could you sell the old palace to those foreign devils?

"There's no place like home", I always say.

Lao Ma

(With an indulgent grin)

My husband, aside from being very rich, you shall also find them

degenerate, barbaric, violent, and worldly. I'm sure you have many

things in common…philosophically. Besides, they are living much

closer to the Mings than to us.

Lao Tzu

(Placated but grudging, he kicks over potted quince)

You make them sound like aristocrats. Hurrrmph! At least

the price was right…enough to buy a ton of opium. Well,

"Waste not want less", I always say. Can we afford black

powder for the army? I feel compelled to slaughter the Mings,

murder their livestock, and "liberate" their flute-playing girls.

Lao Ma

(Eyeing her plantings with a hint of exasperation)

My husband, I intend to civilize the foreigners, at least enough to create

an alliance with them. I will be doing a service to heaven, and at the

same time, make them more effective against the Mings. Ming Tsu will

be distracted and we shall finally have peace in the Kingdom of Chin.

Lao Tzu

(Clumsily swatting the blossoms off a small magnolia)

Silly woman! If heaven had wanted them civilized, they would have been

given etiquette. You are guilty of hubris, thinking you can civilize them.

"Pride comes before a fall", and "You can't make a sow's belly into a silk purse",

I always say. You should leave the barbarians barbaric.

That will distract the Mings more…filthy meat-eaters, all of them.

And as for peace in Chin…impossible! Peace here is a pipe dream.

I'm still smoking, but I've never seen it…hehe…

just more visions of flute-playing girls.

Lao Ma

(Approaching as she watches Lao Tzu tearing branches off a flowering cherry tree)

Barbaric as they are now, the foreigners are too much like the Mings.

They could ally against us. And as for your wet pipe dreams….

(Snapping her fingers against a nerve in the back of Lao Tzu's neck. He collapses)

…you've been smoking dried tofu and chicken droppings. Borias!

>A shot of Borias the Hun as he approaches from the garden gate. He nods to Lao Ma and looks at Lao Tzu with amusement.

Lao Ma

(Gesturing dismissively at Lao Tzu)

Please deposit my dear husband in the Chamber of the Fragrant Sandals.


(Easily hefting Lao Tzu over his shoulder)

But of course, Chief.


I have hurd zee rumor zat Zeena has returned to Chin.

Lao Ma

Yes, Borias, she's back…with her family this time.

They're living in the old palace, and I will civilize them.


Zeena and her family? Zivilized? Hahahahaha! You tried zat before.

More likely zay will bring Chin into zee dark ages.

Lao Ma

Not this time, Borias. This time we will have the common ground

of family values. She doesn't know it yet, but she will become our

best ally against the Mings. Tomorrow, we will pay them a visit,

and you will help me teach Xena to be civilized.


Hahahahaha! Eet would be easier to teach a horse to bark.

Fade out:

End of Act 1

Fade in: Commercial Break…Lungfish Dragon Brand Virgin Chopsticks.

>A prosperous fatherly type is sitting in an open air dining establishment with his family. A six-inch long bean sprout is dangling from his mouth, firmly lodged between his premolars. He tries to work it free with his tongue, but it stubbornly remains stuck.

Announcer V.O.

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are here, with Lungfish Dragon Brand Virgin Chopsticks with Toothpick.

>The man's dutiful son reaches for his shoulder bag and extracts a pair of chopsticks wrapped in a paper sleeve.

Dutiful Son

Ahhhh, my new invention! Try these, Father Chang!

Not only are they wrapped and joined for sanitary reasons,

but at the top there's a large splinter to be used as a toothpick!

Just snap them apart and dispose of them when you're done.

Mr. Chang

(Sliding the chopsticks out and breaking them apart. He picks his teeth clean)

How marvelous! The Thousand Blessings of Oral Hygiene will grow,

like toenails under the waxing moon, from your humble invention,

my son! Prosperity and long life will be your rewards.

Announcer V.O.

May the Ten Dozens Ancestors feast at your altar, and

the Blessed Personage of the Emperor himself decree your

longevity! With Lungfish Dragon Brand Virgin Chopsticks

with Toothpick, all things will be well in heavenly dining.

>Mr. Chang grins at the camera, proudly displaying all six of his clean teeth. There is a large blob of sauce on his chin and Mrs. Chang reaches in to wipe it off. The Lungfish Dragon Brand Company logo is superimposed at the bottom of the screen.

Fade Out: Commercial Break



Act 1I

Fade in: Ext., the old palace, establishing shot, the next morning.

>Dolly shot of the run down palace, showing the front wall and the gate, which has fallen off its hinges. The camera tracks forward through the gate towards the palace entrance, revealing that the front wall is propped up with timbers and the sidewalls are completely breached. Stray cats slink through the foliage at the periphery of the scene. The sheep, oxen, and horse are wandering the courtyard. The pigs are digging through the soil in what had been an herb garden. They are uprooting the ginseng. Horace is lying on the doorstep licking his…nevermind. The wagon is parked in a corner of the yard with the chicken and rabbit cages stashed underneath. From somewhere off camera we can hear the baying of a pack of feral dogs.

Cut to: Int., the old palace same time.

>A shot showing the entrance hall, or "atrium", with a staircase against the back wall. Beside the staircase, Xena is dozing on a laughably short couch. Her legs are draped over the arm, with her muddy booted feet braced against a tapestry on the wall. Her sword is standing upright next to the couch with the tip embedded in the floorboards. Gabrielle is coming down the stairs, still half asleep.


(Yawning and rubbing her eyes with her fists. She whines)

Xeeena, is this place haunted?

I heard noises all night and I didn't sleep too good.


(Shaking herself awake)

You're tellin' me. You were mutterin' 'n droolin' 'n flailin' about.

Drove me down here just to get some shut-eye.

I didn't hear anythin' strange. Just that annoyin' chatter of birds in the rafters.


(Looking at Xena in shock as she enters the foyer)

But you're a warrior, Xena. You're always alert. You always know what's

happening around our campsites. How could you not notice all that noise?



I'm only alert when we camp out 'cause my side of the bedroll's

full of holes. It's crawlin' with fleas 'n lice, 'n there's always a rock

under my back. Whatever ya heard it was prob'ly just mice anyway.


Well, it sounded like someone being tortured. Chains were clanking.

There was a lot of groaning and moaning, like someone in pain.

And there was thrashing and bumping, and then footsteps in the hall.

I pretty sure it wasn't mice.


(Yawning around a smirk)

That'd be Ma 'n Ares. He comes to her inna warrior disguise

while she's asleep, 'n he chains her up 'n ravishes…nevermind.

It's a role-playin' thing they been doin' since 'fore I was born.

She calls him Atrius…whoever that is. 'An he always leaves before mornin'.


(Incredulous and blushing scarlet)

But…but, they're always bickering,

and they can't even stand to be around each other.



Jus' like an ol' married couple. Frost inna mornin', fever at night.


(Even more uncomfortable)

But then…Xeeena, back when you were evil, Ares was your…

you were with…I mean, the two of you did…. Oh yuck!


Yeah, yeah, like mother, like daughter, so what's the big deal?

War's in my blood…I reckon I was just bein' a daddy's girl

when I was bad, 'n anyways, I didn't know any better back then.

Ain't like he or ma ever told me anythin'. Past history. Forget it.


(Muttering as she conjectures to herself)

OMGs! So that explains why Solon's feet looked like hooves

and why he fit in so well at the Centaur Village.

(To Xena)

I think I'm gonna be ill.

>Right then Salmoneus bursts through the front door and into the "atrium". He is wild-eyed, excited, and breathing as though he's run a mile. He's also waving two scrolls.


Hey everybody, we're going to have company…royal company!

The heads of the houses of Ming and Lao are coming

to pay their respects to their new neighbors, this afternoon!

What a great opportunity to develop our contacts here in Chin.


New neighbors? But that's us! We gotta clean this place up!

Show the local folks some proper hospitality. Salmoneus,

go wake up Ares 'n have him kill a chicken. I'll get my mother.

She'll have to cook up one of her special potluck dinners.

Gabrielle, don'cha dare blow oats on the carpet. I need ya

to make up a batch of those lil' past'ries with the red stuff inside.


(Eyes bugging out)

But, Xena, how can I do that? I haven't had time to catch

any mice yet, and anyway, you said the people here don't eat meat.


The Laos don't eat meat, but the Mings do. And what's mice got

to do with that anyway, Gabrielle? Ya need mouseberries.

My ma used to make those past'ries….


Well, I got my own recipe, from Joxer. To make the filling

I need a lot of mice so I can ferment the goulash out of their bellies.

That's the "red stuff", you know, and…Xena?

>Xena has leapt up and is making a dash for the door.


(One hand clamped over her mouth, already gagging)

I think I'm gonna be sick.

Cut to: Ext., outside the palace front door, continuous time.

>Xena lurches out and tries to catch her breath. Her shoulders heave as she doubles over, but she somehow manages to restrain her stomach. Finally she recovers.


(Groaning as she shakes her head)

Mouseberries, not mouse bellies. Joxer's recipe, huh?

I'm gonna have to have a talk with that boy.

Cut to: Int., the "atrium" of the Lao's old palace, half a candle mark later.

>Xena, Gabrielle, Cyrene, Ares, and Salmoneus are all present. It's a domestic planning session.


So everyone knows what they gotta do, right?

Ma, Gabrielle, ya gotta get the kitchen workin'.

Salmoneus, make a couple rooms in this place look presentable.

Ares, try 'n get the livestock out of the courtyard…maybe settle

'em inna back room, 'n then find some firewood for the kitchen.


I have to collect the livestock and firewood? That's demeaning.

I didn't travel across half the known world to end up back on a farm.

We need slaves. How about we slaughter the neighbors instead of just

one chicken? Then we can do some looting instead of throwing a banquet.


(Rolling her eyes, but humoring him)

That's really temptin', Ares, but let's try 'n make a good impression first.

That'll keep the neighbors happy 'n leave our options open.

Gabrielle and Salmoneus can pump 'em for information durin' dinner.

We might even find some allies.

Once we know what we're up against, then we can plan.


I'm sure that all makes good sense, Xena, but I'm going to go crazy here.

What I really need is the glory of battle and the satisfaction of a good kill.


Ya wanna kill somethin'? Then get rid of those damn bird nests

up in the rafters…that racket's drivin' me nuts. 'N if ya have any

time after that, see if ya can slaughter those stray dogs out back.

All that bayin' brings back some bad memories of my last visit.

And then there's all them stray cats in the garden….


Now your talking! And what are you going to be doing, Xena?


I'm goin' huntin', 'n when I get back,

Ma, you'll be able to start cookin' the main courses.

Gabrielle can help ya with the vegetables.

(Aside, whispering to Cyrene)

'N Ma, make sure ya keep an eye on her when she makes those past'ries.

(Louder, to everyone)

Any questions?


Well, you know we haven't been to market.

What am I supposed to use for the vegetables to feed the Laos?

Anyway, all of my recipes are from my inn's kitchen and use meat.


(To Cyrene)

The Laos planted the gardens here years ago.

There must be Chin style vegetables still growin' out there.

You 'n Gabrielle just pull up everythin' that looks hopeful,

'n as for the recipes…just be inventive!

(To Ares, after a contemplative pause)

Save those bird nests ya pull down.

People 'round these parts eat 'em.

Come ta think of it…they cook up the dogs 'an cats too.


(Muttering to herself)

They cook up bird nests, dogs, and cats here? Oh yuck!

Gods, Xena…you know I'd follow you anywhere,

but why couldn't we have moved to a civilized country

like Liceland or Direland, or the Land of the Pharies?

Cut to: Int., the Chamber of the Fragrant Sandals in the Lao's palace, same time.

>Lao Tzu has finally regained consciousness.

Lao Tzu

(Looking around in confusion)

Uugggghhhhh! What a stench! Where am I?

The last thing I remember, I was in the "Tranquility Garden", having

a pleasant discussion with my wife. By the Hell of Eternal Flatulence,

how did I get here? This is the Chamber of the Fragrant Sandals.

(Lao Tzu sits among the reeking sandals, trying to remember)

Ahhhh, yes. My demented wife is going to civilize the foreigners,

trying to enlist them in her hopeless dream of peace in Chin.

I'd settle for leaving them barbarous if they'd ally with us against the Mings.

Still, "All's well that bends hell", I always say, and I have a better plan.

I shall pay them a visit and keep Lao Ma from ruining them.

Cut to: Int., Lao Tzu's hoard chamber, shortly later.

>Lao Tzu is just withdrawing a large, gummy, ball of resin from an apothecary chest of many drawers. He is gloating.

Lao Tzu

Excellent! The opium! Heehee. Now I can introduce Xena

and her barbarian clan to the "Miraculous Poppy World".

After that, they'll be much more cooperative…and when I'm done,

Ming Tsu will be gone and the dogs will be at each other's throats.

Cut to: Ext., behind the Lao's old palace, a candlemark later.

>The camera shows a view of an overgrown yard with an algae choked fishpond in the foreground. A group of lungfish is relaxing, gasping on the banks. There seems to be a disturbance in the bushes across the fishpond.

>Ares has managed to catch a dozen stray cats in snares, and has tied them onto a long trap line that encircles his position in the bushes. They are yowling, flailing, and biting at the ropes around their necks in a frenzy. Ares is waiting in the underbrush with a handful of spears.


(Mockingly to the nearest cat)

That's right, kitty, scream and thrash. Good kitty.

Bring the dogs over to me. Hehehe.

(Wistfully to himself)

Yeah, I know it's a step down from directing armies,

but spearing those mongrels has got to be more fun than

gathering firewood, rousting birds, or hiding the livestock.

(The baying of hounds can be heard getting closer)

Ahhh, here they come now…idiot dogs.

Cut to: Ext., the forest several miles away, same time.

>Dolly shot following Xena. The Warrior Princess moves silently through the trees carrying a bow and a quiver of arrows. She is stalking something she has seen up ahead in a bamboo grove.


(Muttering softly to herself as her eyes track her prey)

Wonder what they call that? Almost looks like a fat guy

inna costume from a bad play. Looks stupid 'n slow, 'n

it has the same colors as a skunk…a really big skunk.

Barely has a tail though. Huh. Ugly critter, but it's big

enough to feed us 'n all our guests. Oh well, here goes….

>Xena draws and fires. Her aim is flawless. The animal crashes over dead, shot right between the eyes. It is a giant panda.


Gotcha, ya ugly…whatever ya are.

Ya just better taste good or I'll…oh, nevermind.

Cut to: Int., the kitchen of the Lao's old palace, same time.

>Gabrielle has just delivered a wheelbarrow full of unidentified plant matter to the kitchen. Cyrene is stirring several woks on a pot-bellied stove. Each wok is precariously propped up on its conical base with rocks. Salmoneus is carrying dishes out of the kitchen to set places at the table in the dining hall.


Cyrene, I grew up on a farm, but I have no idea what most of these

vegetables are. At least there's an assortment of greens and roots.


Well, Xena said they're the Lao's old food crops, so it should be okay.

Could you spend some time washing and chopping for me?


Sure, but I've still got some ingredients I need to find,

and I thought I'd catch a few fish I saw in that pond out back.


Cyrene, I've got the dining room almost ready! I prepared a

room right next door with the chamber pots and a couple basins.

I figured we should set things up like a high-class Roman banquet…

complete with the vomitorium for between courses.


Good thinking Salmoneus, since we still haven't found a proper outhouse.

They'll realize we're cosmopoliticians, not some backwoods yokels.

We'll impress them with our urbanity and sophistry.

(After a pause, commenting to herself)

I just don't see how this whole country doesn't starve,

cooking in these pots. They nearly tip over every time I stir them.

I'll have to have Ares beat the bottoms flat like proper pots and pans.

He should be good at it after the way he beat that chicken into a paste.

I used it instead of yogurt in the Tzatziki.


(Breathlessly as he bustles in for another load of dishes)

Cyrene, this smells delicious. Our guests should be impressed.

I know I always make my best deals on a full stomach.


Thanks, Salmoneus, and we're really in luck.

The pigs dug up some ginger roots so I can make my tonic.

It does wonders for the digestion. Just ask Xena.

The ginger here in Chin looks a little different though….

>Salmoneus and Gabrielle bustle off, leaving Cyrene alone in the kitchen.

>While Cyrene is washing the ginseng roots in a large basin, the shadowy figure of Lao Tzu tiptoes through the kitchen. It's not that he's so stealthy, (in fact, he's noticeably staggering), but rather that he enjoys a really lucky sense of timing. He slips over to the woks just as Cyrene looks away to grab another handful of roots.

Lao Tzu

(Peering into the woks)

So, Xena's cook is preparing the "Banquet of a Thousand

Dishes". Such subtlety is wasted on the Mings. They'd be happy

with only dog tail lo mien. Still, this opportunity is perfect…and

"Opportunity only knocks once", I always say.

>Lao Tzu doses the contents of all the woks with lumps of opium, pinch by pinch, until the entire ball of resin is gone. It's probably enough to inebriate the emperor's army.

There, that should add to the festivities. I hope the barbarians

don't just slaughter the Mings when they realize they're impaired.

It would ruin my plan.

Cut to: Int., the rafters high above the old palace's dining hall, half a candlemark later.

>It's a C.U. shot of Ares tearing handfuls of bird nests out from between the rafters and throwing everything into a sack. This includes eggs, hatchlings, and even adult birds.


Miserable squabs…get in the bag! Dealing with this filthy mess will only

be worth it if I can get Cyrene to make those "Larks' Tongues in Aspic".

Cut to: Int., Cyrene's kitchen, shortly later.

>Xena has returned with a field-dressed carcass over her shoulders. She has also saved the pelt, mostly as a novelty.


(Heaving the carcass off her back and onto the kitchen table)

Hey Ma, look what I got for ya!


(Regarding the carcass with curiosity)

What is that, Xena? It looks like you skinned a fat guy…

maybe Vidalis? And is that really the pelt?


Sure is, Ma. I figured we could use it for a tablecloth

so I salted it for now. I'll tan it later.

Anyhow, I really don't know what this critter is,

but I hope it tastes good 'cause we got company comin'.

Maybe ya oughta double the spices?


Good thinking Xena. I'll use two pounds of garlic

and the rest of the hot peppers.

That's what I always used to do at the inn.


(Muttering to herself)

Maybe that's what drove your last husband away.

(To Cyrene)

By the way, have ya seen Gabrielle?


Not for a while, Xena. Not since she took a bag of breadcrumbs

and a mallet and said she was going hunting.

Oh, but guess what. I'm making my ginger tonic.


(Swallowing hard after the news about her soulmate)

Good. I think I may be needin' it.

>Xena leaves the kitchen to go outside and clean up after her hunting trip. No sooner is she out the door than Gabrielle enters from the hallway with several dozen mice tied to a thong (not that kind of thong…geeeez) by their tails. She sets a mallet and a half-empty sack on the table.


(Happily excited)

Look, Cyrene, I caught enough mice to make plenty of the

little pastries with the "red stuff" inside that Xena wanted for the banquet

…if I use Joxer's recipe. And then I found these mouseberries.

At least, they look like mouseberries…

so now I can make the pastries using your recipe too.

That should satisfy the vegetarians and the meat eaters!

>Cyrene has been butchering the panda, but stops to inspect the berries, and also gives the mice a queasy look. Gabrielle purees the berries and sets them aside. As she starts to render the goulash from the mouse bellies, Cyrene looks progressively more ill. Finally, she turns her back on the blonde and concentrates on preparing the panda to marinate for souvlaki.


Well, I think that should do it. Now these mouse bellies have to sit and

ferment for a couple candlemarks. I'll be back to finish them later, Cyrene.

>Gabrielle exits the kitchen, going back into the hallway.


(To herself with an indulgent grin)

Gabrielle's such a sweetie. She tries so hard

to make my Little One happy, and she means well …


…but sometimes she just needs a bit of supervision.

>As soon as Gabrielle has left the kitchen, Cyrene discretely tosses the bowl of crushed mouseberries into the courtyard, thinking they're the fermenting mouse bellies. Horace has been waiting by the kitchen door, hoping for handouts. He immediately snatches them up and starts bolting down the "red stuff".



Well, so much for those fermented mouse bellies. Yuck!

>Overhearing Cyrene, Horace sniffs the last of the contents of the bowl. He whimpers and gives Cyrene a pitiful look, but Cyrene is already going back to work in the kitchen.

Cut to: Int., the library of the old palace, same time.

>Ares is herding the sheep into the library…mostly by threatening them with his sword. The pigs, chickens, rabbits, and oxen are already inside other adjacent rooms. A meditation room has become a stall for Argo. This is not Ares' idea of "Gods' Work".


(To the sheep, having completely lost what little patience he had)

Get in there, now! (Ah-chooo!) Don't look at me…just get moving

before I turn you inside out and then shear you. (Ahhh-Chooo)

You should have been burnt on an altar somewhere long ago anyway.

And where is Horace? This is his job. He's a sheep dog.

(Ah-chooo!) Gods how I (Ahh-chooo!) despise being mortal.

And of course…(Ahhh-chooo!)…I'm allergic to sheep!

Fade out:

End of Act 2


Fade in: Commercial Break…The Night Soil Vendor's Association.

>Knee deep in a rice paddy, a harried farmer looks sadly at his stunted crops. He shakes his head in frustration, anticipating starvation. His family members look on, despondent.

Announcer V.O.

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>A wagon is parked next to the failing rice paddy. The back is filled with large clay jars. A salesman, red-faced, cross-eyed, and wearing a large split bamboo pincer to close off his nostrils, is showing a jar to the sad farmer. He opens the mouth of the jar and both men recoil from the stench of the contents. The farmer smiles and gestures to his paddy. The salesman pours a noxious, dark brown liquid into the water.

Announcer V.O.

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available in the Seven Provinces! Quality and uniformity guaranteed!

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for this unequaled local product. Top dollar paid for contents of

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>Several weeks later, the farmer is standing in front of lush, towering rice stalks. His happy family surrounds him, eyeing the bounty. He thanks the salesman profusely.

>C.U. of the salesman's smiling face. He is still wearing the absurd bamboo nostril pincers, and he is holding a jar of night soil. Superimposed over the picture is the company logo of grain growing out of a chamber pot, and the words, "Happy, Happy!"

Fade out: Commercial Break

Act 3

Fade in: Ext., the road leading to the Lao's old palace, late afternoon.

>Timing being what it is, Lao Ma's sedan chair, with Borias and her attendants, have arrived at the same time as Ming Tsu and Ming Tien, who are on horseback. Lao Ma and Ming Tsu trade greetings.

Lao Ma

Ming Tsu, what an honor it is to meet you here. I see you

have come to extend your welcome to our esteemed new neighbors.

I'm sure all of Chin will benefit from their….

Ming Tsu

(Angrily cutting her off)

Nonsense! Their presence is a scandal. I'm sure you've made a tidy sum

by selling out to them, crazy woman. They'll ruin the neighborhood,

maybe all of Chin, if I don't have them removed.

Lao Ma

As always, you show the decisiveness of an enlightened leader, Ming Tsu.

Surely you will be the savior of the land.

>Ming Tsu dismissively turns his horse away from the Lao party, gestures for Ming Tien to follow him, and rides towards the gates of the old palace.


(Muttering under his breath)

Or zee stubborness of a dead mule, hahahahaha.

(Whispering to Lao Ma)

How do you alvays respond to his maddening stupidity so vilosophically?

Lao Ma

(Whispering back to Borias)

Like Lao Tzu, Ming Tsu is best handled with forbearance.

The hawk bears its mites as the price of its freedom of flight.

It is simply heaven's way of ensuring my humility.


(Muttering to himself)

More like your humiliation, Chief.

Zee hawk bears eets mites because eet fouls its nest.

>The Lao party resumes its way to the gates of the old palace, following the Ming party into the courtyard.

Cut to: Int., the "atrium" of the old palace, moments later.

>Xena and company are greeting the Ming and the Lao parties.


Hey folks, glad y'all could drop by. Now I know there are some…

historic animosities between ya, but I'm still hopin'

y'all behave yourselves…so no bloodlettin' 'fore dinner.

Ming Tsu

Ha! Do you take us for barbarians?

In Chin we have cultivated patience as a virtue.

The Mings and the Laos have disagreed for centuries.

I'm sure we can restrain ourselves until after dessert.

Lao Ma

Ming Tsu speaks the truth, Xena. For example,

we are civilized enough to make sure that when we poison the food,

our enemies don't drop dead until they're on their way home.


(Beginning his flirtation with Lao Ma)

No blame, no shame. I like that.

You have great wisdom, Lao Ma.

Perhaps we could spend some time after dinner

discussing the best poisons and dosages?

Ming Tsu

Yes, Lao Ma. Perhaps you could enlighten our host

as to how you keep your husband, Lao Tzu, in a stupor

year after year so you can rule in his place?

Lao Ma

(Demure and gracious)

Ares, I should be delighted to discuss the "elixirs" and "tonics"

of Chin with you. I can even enlighten you as to the one that

Ming Tsu used to rid himself of his wife, the late Madam Ming.

As for my esteemed husband, Lao Tzu…

he is simply afflicted with poor circulation of the qi.


(Gulping nervously and whispering to Xena)

Maybe you could check the wines before dinner

and then lock them up until after they all leave?

>Xena rolls her eyes at this and moves away to speak with Borias.


So, Borias, I see ya decided to stick around here in Chin.


Yes, Zeena. Zee Kingdom of Lao had much to offer.

Zee standard of living here ees quite….upscale. No more sleeping

een a flea bitten yurt, no more leading a band of stupid cut throats.

I am zee Lao's general…a good position to list on my resume, yes?

And vat about you? Vhy have you returned to Chin.


Well, the warlord thing was gettin' old 'n mayhem just wasn't as much

fun anymore. I'd already made a fortune lootin' 'n pillagin', 'n I knew

I wanted somethin' less…stressful. So I reformed 'n became a hero.

Then I hired Gabrielle as a biographer, 'n now she's my "conscience"…

(Under her breath)

…among other things….

(To Borias)

Caesar went 'n put a price on my head, so I decided to

move back to Chin 'stead of goin' to Rome 'n killin' him.


So, Zeena, you have given up on conquering zee vorld,

and you have acquired a "conscience" now. Hahahaha!

>Cyrene interrupts them by entering from the kitchen bearing a tray of goblets, happily offering everyone her ginger tonic. Being a mother, and seeing that Ming Tsu has a child with him, she has no hesitation about reminiscing.


Now folks, I've made a special ginger tonic that does wonders

for the digestive processes. Why, when Xena was little,

I'd just give her this before meals instead of an enema.

It was so much easier than getting her to quaff down her enkaustikos.

Worked every time!

>At the word, "tonic", the guests from Chin gulp nervously. Before Cyrene finishes, Xena is blushing three shades of scarlet, while Salmoneus and the guests are allowing her to "save face" by not looking at her. Ming Tien is eyeing his father, looking worried. Ares, of course, chuckles. Gabrielle is aghast.


(Aside to Xena, sympathetically)

Oh, Xena…that's just not right. Enemas before meals?

I wish I could have helped spare you from such a dark childhood.


(Whispering to Gabrielle in confessional mode)

Thanks, Gabrielle. Actually, the enemas were after meals,

but you're right, I did have a dark childhood…I think I was 17

'fore they cut a hole in the outhouse door so we could see what we

were doin' in there. That was only 'cause Lyceus fell in 'n drowned.

When I brought his body out…well, ya know the rest. Ma was livid.

It's no wonder Toris ran away durin' the confusion 'fore the feud with

Cortese. I had to make a name for myself 'fore Ma wanted me back.

>Cyrene passes out the goblets. Ming Tsu doses his and his son's with a general-purpose antidote. Lao Ma stares at hers until her eyes cross and the liquid glows briefly. Borias discreetly pours some of his onto a potted plant and watches it for wilting. Instead, the plant seems to perk up. Xena, Gabrielle, Salmoneus, and Ares eye their goblets with distaste. Cyrene happily drains hers. After seeing this, everyone else finally drinks the tonic; their eyes bug out at the flavor.

Lao Ma

(Whispering to Borias)

That's not ginger. In fact, I'm reasonably sure it was pure

ginseng extract…more than a wise person would ingest in a month.


(Whispering to Lao Ma)

Vhy does this not surprise me? Zeena claiming to have given

up conquest and become a hero vas not zee Zeena I know.

She vill have us all climbing up zee valls, Chief.

I vill keep a careful vatch on her and zee Mings.


Wow, this batch sure has a kick!

Now I'm sure everyone is ready for a wonderful meal.

Why don't we all head into the dining room?

Cut to: Int., the dining room, shortly later.

>A quick C.U. shot shows Lao Tzu entering an alcove in the dining room, and pulling a tapestry in front of himself so that he is completely hidden from view.

>The guests are entering the dining room, with Xena, Cyrene, Gabrielle, Ares, and Salmoneus. Platters and serving dishes are set on the table, which is partially covered with the panda skin. Cyrene's tonic is already at work, making the party…excitable.

Lao Ma

By the Galloping Ghost of General Gu'an, it's a Pixiu!

Xena, where did that skin come from?


Oh, ya mean that giant skunk pelt?

It's just somethin' I shot for dinner.

Hope ya like it.

Ming Tsu

You have killed a Zouya just for food?

Barbarian! You have slain Chin's symbol of peace.

This will certainly force the country to war!


Good going, Xena. I couldn't have done better myself!


(To Lao Ma)

What's a Peeshoo anyway?

Lao Ma

The Pixiu is regarded as heaven's living representation of

peace and gentleness. Powerful as they are, they harm no one.

On the battlefield, raising a flag bearing the emblem of the

Pixiu always signals a truce. They're also very rare animals.

A skin like this would be an appropriate gift for the emperor.



Oh this is just so sad. The poor thing. But Xena loves peace.

I'm sure she didn't know how important the critter was.

Will there really have to be a war now because it's dead?

Lao Ma

When this becomes known, it will be regarded as an ill omen.

Many generals will see it as proof that they should strike immediately.



Maybe we could avoid starting a war if we made

a flag out of the pelt and flew it over the palace?


(Hoping he can learn more about Xena's plans from her "biographer")

Zat vould be unvise, letting others know za Pixiu met its end here.

Of course, I vould be happy to discuss alternative strategies vis you.

Perhaps alone togezer, somevere more private, Gabrielle?

>Meanwhile, Gabrielle's peace-loving Xena is engaged in a conversation with Ming Tsu.


So ya mean you folks are really gonna go to war over a dead skunk?

Ming Tsu

Skunk? It is not a skunk! Crazy woman. In Chin, the Zouya has

been regarded by many since ancient times as enchanted; a mystical

creature that bestows the blessings of heavenly tranquility on our country.

You have butchered the living symbol of harmony and peace!

It is a blasphemy, almost like killing your gods!


Ha! Like killin' our gods? Well then,

I got nothin' to worry about…been there, done that.


That's for sure. So, Xena…no sense in doing things halfway.

Maybe you should find out how many of these Zouya

critters are running around so you can kill 'em all.

Ming Tsu

You are insane! Xena is simply an ignorant savage, but you

are a blood thirsty barbarian! You revel in the possibility of bringing

armed conflict to Chin. That is like the mindless battle lust of a war god!


Damn, Xena, this guy's good! Glad we see eye to eye, Ming Tsu!

>Salmoneus is upset, seeing the possibilities of commerce going down the drain, while to Cyrene, the argument is all too much like what would proceed a brawl in her tavern.


Why don't we all take our seats and enjoy the food?

Nothing helps overcome a misunderstanding better

than sharing a meal and a few drinks.


That's a great idea, Cyrene. I know I'm already starving.

Good food, good company…and I'm sure if we talk about it,

everything will seem less serious after a few good drinks.


I know! Maybe we can solve the problem by dying sheepskins

black and white so everyone can have a Pixiu pelt of their own.

How about, "Buy a little piece of heaven to bless your home".

>Both Lao Ma and Ming Tsu turn to glare at Salmoneus, actually agreeing for once.


…or maybe not.

Ming Tsu

(Aside to Ming Tien, ticking off the points on his fingers)

You see, it's as I said, they are all barbarians. Xena is the

ignorant barbarian, Ares is the bloodthirsty barbarian,

Salmoneus is the greedy barbarian, Gabrielle is the gluttonous

barbarian, and Cyrene will clumsily try to poison us.

She's the only one that's truly dangerous.

>Mint Tien is fidgeting, being the most affected by the ginseng tonic because of his small size. He is squirming, constantly shifting on his feet, and staring wildly around the room.


Well, let's take our seats, shall we…except maybe Ming Tien.

(Aside to Ming Tsu)

Your boy there looks like he's fit to burst.

I'm sure he won't be comfortable for a moment sitting still.

(To Gabrielle)

Would you be a dear and take little Ming Tien to the vomitorium

and find him a chamber pot just his size?

>Gabrielle jumps up and leads a protesting Ming Tien to the vomitorium to fetch a small chamber pot. Unfortunately, they all seem too large to her. In a moment of inspiration, she snatches one of the empty tonic goblets off the tray in the foyer. She returns and hands it over to the embarrassed young heir. Then she leaves him to do his business while she returns to the dining room.

>The rest of the party have seated themselves in the meantime and are starting the feast. Xena, Ares, and Borias have hung their sword scabbards off the backs of their chairs. >Gabrielle sits between Xena and Lao Ma. Borias is on Lao Ma's other side. Across from them are Salmoneus, Ares, Ming Tsu, and an empty seat for Ming Tien. Cyrene presides over the gathering from one end of the table. The other end is set against a wall.


(Looking at the contents of a dish with curiosity)

Vat iz zis? It looks like zee "Chrysanthemum

Shaped Shark Lips in Ghag-me Sauce".


Zat's…That's the "Fish Spleens and

Squab Pineal Glands in Long Life Sauce".


(Spooning a large helping onto his plate)

Hahahahaha…how revolting!


I see you still know how to make me happy, Cyrene.

You made my favorite, the "Larks Tongues in Aspic".


Really? Ya made the "Larks Tongues in Aspic", Ma?

Oh, gimme, gimme, ya know it's my favorite too!


Actually it's mixed bird's tongues this time.

I doubt if there was a single lark among them,

but they had so much mucus and albumin that the aspic

gelled easier than ever. I sampled some and it's delicious.

>Lao Ma is already looking ill, as she helps herself to some bread and clear soup.

>Ming Tien has returned and takes his seat next to his father, bringing his "goblet" with him and setting it on the table.

Ming Tsu

(Gesturing at a platter in front of him)

And just what do you call this dish, Cyrene?


I call it, "Finding Peace Between the Three Enemies".

It's something I wanted to try, since I had all the ingredients.


Very inventive, hahahaha! It is braised dog, cat, and mouse heads.

I am right, Cyrene, yes?

>Cyrene nods in agreement. Predictably, Ming Tien serves himself several of the dog heads, ignoring the cats and mice. His father takes a more balanced portion, recognizing the symbolism of the dish.

Ming Tsu

I am impressed that a foreigner would understand that the cuisine

of Chin is eaten for philosophical as well as nutritional reasons.


(To Ming Tien, concerned for his youthful palate)

Oh, do be careful dear, that dish is rather spicy.

>In the meantime, Ming Tsu has dug into his helping with a vengeance. Suddenly his eyes widen in shock as the prodigious quantities of spices Cyrene has used take effect.

Ming Tsu

Aggggghhhhhh! By the Hell of the Thousand Nagging Ancestors,

are you trying to poison us you crazy woman? Did you use every

hot pepper and garlic clove in Mongolia?

>As Cyrene sputters an attempt at an explanation, Ming Tsu snatches up the wine goblet next to him and downs the contents. Ming Tien is too busy gasping and fanning his own throat to warn his father that the goblet is actually his "chamber pot". For the second time in as many moments, Ming Tsu chokes in horror.

Ming Tsu

Gaaaaahhhhhhh! That wine tasted like the morning water from

General T'so's chicken! Now I know you are trying to poison me!

This is inexcusable! Is there anything here fit for human consumption?

Lao Ma

It would seem that "Finding Peace Between Three Enemies"

requires a sacrifice after all, Ming Tsu.

(Gesturing to her own bowl)

Perhaps this innocuous clear soup would be a better match

for the gastric fortitude and capabilities of "Ming the Merciless"?


(Examining Lao Ma's soup with growing discomfort)

Oh dear, that's the water I was fermenting the mouse bellies in.

I wonder how that bowl got out of the kitchen…Salmoneus?

>Seated directly across the table from Gabrielle, Salmoneus has overheard her and replies with only a wince. Seated next to her, Lao Ma has also overheard Gabrielle's words. She turns green and genteelly stifles a gag behind a sleeve of her robe.


Looks like peace ain't all it's cracked up to be, philosophically

speakin', 'n ya can't have it without a 'lil pain 'n anguish.

That Peeshooter thing is pretty good, Ma. Y'all oughta try it.


Vould you have anything vis scuttlefish or flea cucumber?


There's some "Lungfish Gills in Three Delicacies Night Soil Sauce".


Heh. Now that's revoltin'.


Actually, I highly recommend the "Auspicious Hatchlings

Stuffed with Bird Nests and Seven Flavor Dog Pancreas",

or maybe the "Vegetarian Sweetbread Dumplings with

Loquat Shaped Tripes"…for the more sensitive palate.

(For those who are interested, I'll have a souvenir recipe book

with all your favorites, available after dinner for a small fee).

>Everyone looks at Salmoneus as if he's crazy.


(Looking hopefully at Lao Ma)

Okay, maybe you'd prefer the vegetarian dishes?

…how about the "Eight Treasures Mildew"?

…or maybe the "Gluten Algae Threads"?


(Who typically has already eaten way more than anyone else)

Geeez, the food must be good, because I'm starting to feel drowsy.

>We see Gabrielle beginning to sway and nod in her chair. Ming Tien is already dozing with his face in his plate next to a dog head. Ming Tsu has stopped complaining and is looking around with an increasingly vacant stare. Everyone is affected by the opium Lao Tzu added to the woks and begins nodding off. Everyone, that is except Ares, (who has stuck with the "Larks' Tongues in Aspic"), and Xena, (who has only eaten the Pixiu), both of which were brought to the kitchen after Lao Tzu's visit.


(Whispering across the table to Xena)

What a boring bunch of lightweights.

We haven't even started drinking yet.

And these people wanted to go to war?


(Whispering back to Ares)

Somethin' smells fishy here. Ares, play possum

like everyone else. Just follow my lead.

>Xena yawns and shakes her head, then slowly nods forward, putting her head down on the table. Ares does the same. Soon everyone at the table is in "Poppy Land", immobile and dreaming.

Fade out:

End of act 3


Fade in: Commercial Break…Cho's Combustible Funeral Money.

>A grieving family kneels before a home altar on which we see bowls of fruit, rice, and bottles of wine. On top of a casket there is a portrait of a distinguished elderly man, who is the deceased.

Announcer V.O.

At sad times like these the traditional duties of a family can often

lead to increased financial hardship in the future.

>A sobbing younger man prepares to burn bundles of paper money on a brazier so that the wealth will be available to his father's spirit in the afterlife.

Younger Man

What will we do now? It is my duty to honor my father's

spirit, but our family will be destitute! We'll have to eat

the offerings off of the altar. How will we survive?

Announcer V.O.

Now you can do your duty to honor the deceased without making the

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of a lifetime go up in smoke, burn Cho's Combustible Funeral Money!

>The ghost of the dead father rises from his casket and appears to his family, offering them stacks and bundles of Cho's Combustible Funeral Money, which looks suspiciously like play money.

Dead Father's Ghost

You're a good son. Take this funeral money and burn it instead

of the family's resources. In the afterlife, real money is no better than

Cho's Combustible Funeral Money.

Younger Man

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all the blessings of heaven in the afterlife!

>As the smiling young man places the bundles of Cho's Combustible Funeral Money onto the brazier, his dead father's ghost cavorts in front of his coffin.

Dead Father's Ghost

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Now to hire some flute-playing girls!

Announcer V.O.

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(Cho's Combustible Funeral Money is guaranteed to be legal tender in the afterlife. Approved by the Emperor's Council of Soothsayers.)

Fade out: Commercial Break

Act 4

Fade in: Int., the dining room in the old palace, same time.

>A sweeping shot shows the banquet party passed out at the table. Ming Tien has his head down in his plate and is face to face with a dog head, blowing bubbles in the sauce. Ming Tsu is leaning back in his chair, drooling and twitching. Borias' head is bent forward with his chin on his chest, and he's muttering unintelligibly in his native tongue. Salmoneus is unconscious but is still gathering the items on his plate into a pile, with feeble movements of both hands. Lao Ma is sitting straight up in her chair, her eyes closed, as if meditating. Gabrielle is smiling and whispering in her sleep, and has somehow managed to reach out and clutch at Xena. Cyrene is leaning back in her chair with her head lolling to one side, muttering, "Oh, Atrius! Harder, harder…", and weakly thrusting with her hips. Xena and Ares are face down on the table, scarlet with embarrassment. They're trying to stifle giggles and remain still.

Cut to: Int., the dining room alcove, same time.

>The tapestry slowly moves aside, revealing Lao Tzu. He is grinning as he surveys the effects of the opium he has dosed the food with, carefully watching to make sure that everyone is affected. After a few moments, he begins to approach the table.

Lao Tzu

Ahhhh, here they all are, doped up and ready to participate in my

plan to rule Chin. "Birds of a feather flock together", as I always say.

(Lao Tzu chuckles before continuing on proudly)

Now all I have to do is kill Ming Tsu with Xena's sword.

When they wake up, they'll see she's murdered the leader of the

Mings…and after killing the Pixiu, all of Chin's generals will

attack the barbarians and wipe them out.

(Predictably, Lao Tzu gloats)

After the armies kill each other off, I will unite the land.

And finally, we'll have peace in Chin.

As I always say, "He who laughs last, laughs best".

>Lao Tzu circles the table until he is standing next to Xena. He reaches to take the sword out of the scabbard that's hanging from the back of her chair. Suddenly we hear a growl and Lao Tzu shrieks and leaps in the air.

Lao Tzu

(Crashing back down, he jerks around to look behind himself)

What!?! The mongrel running dog of the western barbarians?

>It is Horace, who has snuck into the dining room, hoping to beg a handout, and has ended up biting Lao Tzu on the butt. Now he is standing right behind Lao Tzu, hackles raised, and growling like a wolf.

Lao Tzu

Why, I'll skewer you with Xena's sword before I kill

Ming Tsu. "Die like a dog, you dog", I always say.

>Lao Tzu turns and reaches for Xena's sword again, but meets her fist, face first. He wobbles a couple steps and then promptly sits down on the floor, stunned.

>Xena tries to get to her feet, but is hampered by Gabrielle, who has managed to wrap both arms around her waist and is half in her lap. It is Ares who comes around the table to praise his dog and tie up Lao Tzu.

Cut to: Int., the dining room, shortly later.

>Lao Tzu is tied to a chair. He appears terrified. Everyone else is still dreaming.


(To Ares, while looking at Lao Tzu with an evil grin)

So, whadda ya think we oughta do with 'em?

We've got some time to decide 'fore everyone wakes up.


(Standing behind Lao Tzu and dragging his sword blade across his neck)

You know, Xena, this is the perfect opportunity.

We could keep him, Lao Ma, and the Mings doped up with opium

and still have them around in case anyone gets suspicious.


(Circling Lao Tzu while fondling a dagger)

Right! We can use 'em all as figureheads, 'an we'll

actually rule the country ourselves from behind the scenes.

Between 'em, they're sure to have plenty 'a slaves 'an loot.


And flute-playing girls…yeah!

>Ares revels in the prospect for a moment, then grins at Lao Tzu. Lao Tzu squirms.


Or we can jus' slaughter the Mings 'n the Laos right now, then

we'll take over this part of Chin 'n bleed it dry! Eventually, we might

even defeat the emperor! Either way, Lao Tzu's done us a favor.

Lao Tzu

I knew it! You came here to take over the country!

You always wanted to kill us all. You're murdering barbarians.


(To Lao Tzu)

Quit yer whinin'. Ya tried ta have us all killed off

so ya could rule Chin yourself. Well, ya lost, now shut up.

(Wiggling her eyebrows at Ares)

'An he thinks we're barbarians.


(Sounding hopeful)

So does that mean we can get "creative" with the executions?


(Turning to face Ares and winking)

Naaawww! I was thinkin' of havin' my Ma cook 'em all…for

when we invite the rest of the clans 'round here to the next banquet.

>Finally, Lao Tzu cracks, begging for mercy.

Lao Tzu

Oh please no! You are barbarians and cannibals?

By the Ten Thousand Demons of the Septic World and

the Seventy-One Digested Heroes…kill us, but don't eat us!

By desecrating our bodies like that, you'll be dooming our spirits

to eternally haunt the world, piecemeal. Please, anything but that.



Okay. We'll kill ya and feed ya to our dogs.


Or grind you up and use you for glue.

>Lao Tzu finally passes out cold from the stress and slumps over in his chair. Xena and Ares look at him, look at each other, and then burst out laughing.

Cut to: Int., the dining hall of the old palace, several candlemarks later.

>The guests and their hosts are woozy and still recovering from the effects of the opium, but they've regained coherence. Xena and Ares have forced Lao Tzu to confess his "evil plan" to the rest of the group so they'll understand what happened to them and not blame Cyrene's cooking.

Ming Tsu

What a pathetic plan, Lao Tzu. Your wife is correct

to keep you indisposed so she can rule in your stead.

Lao Ma

For once I agree with the honorable Ming Tsu.

That plan was ridiculous, my esteemed husband.

And now we all have the "barbarians" to thank

for the continued balance of power in Chin.


(To Lao Ma)

So, Chief, eet iz back to zee intrigues and zee infighting, yes?

Lao Ma

I'm afraid so, Borias. We'll still have the appearance of peace

on the surface, and the turmoil of conflict underneath.

Heaven endures and nothing has really changed in Chin.


Sounds like the rest of the world to me.


So at least that means there won't be a war

because of the Peeshoo being killed, right?


(To Gabrielle)

Zat ees correct, cutie. Vee are not like barbarians here.

Probably only zee Mings vould really go to var over a skunk.

In zee meantime, perhaps you vould like to audition

as a flute-playing girl, Gabrielle?


(To Borias after overhearing)

Hey! You leave my "conscience" alone.

Flute-playin' girl…Ha! She's already learnin' t'play mouth organ.


So, like I always say, all's well that ends well, I guess.

>As the evening draws to a close, Gabrielle brings out dessert…the little pastries with the "red stuff" inside.


Now, the ones on this side of the platter are the vegetarian version,

and the ones on that side aren't. They're both delicious…I tried them earlier.

>Everyone helps themselves, Xena and Lao Ma being careful to choose theirs from the vegetarian side. Everyone is chewing and appears to be savoring their pastries. Horace stands by, begging.

Lao Ma

(Discreetly plucking something out of her mouth)

Well, now what could this be?

(She holds up the item she's found in her pastry's filling)

Gabrielle, what is this?


(Recognizing what can only be a mouse's tail)

Geeeez, now how did that get left in there.

(Muttering to herself)

So I guess that means the vegetarian filling isn't

quite so strictly vegetarian. Well, oooops.

>Gabrielle takes the item from Lao Ma and casually feeds it to Horace.


(To Lao Ma, with a guilty grin)

Nothing to worry about, Lao Ma, hehe.

Probably just a stem from the berries.

>Keeping only a couple for herself, Gabrielle manages to abandon the tray on a low chair, where Horace is soon helping himself to all the remaining pastries. Horace now loves her almost as much as Ares. He follows Gabrielle doggedly. She goes to find Cyrene and discovers her whispering with Xena. She approaches unnoticed from behind.


So don't worry, Xena. I made sure to toss out the mouse bellies when

Gabrielle wasn't looking. Now all the pastries have mouseberry filling.


(With a sigh of relief as she eats a pastry)

Thanks, Ma. They're delicious this time too.


(Irritated and muttering to herself)

Why those schemers! After all the trouble I went to,

catching all those mice. Xena never complained

until she learned what was in the filling.

(Continuing with a smirk as she walks away)

But this time, the pastries are all filled with mouse bellies.

>Horace the dog easily overhears Gabrielle and starts to look sick. Soon he's retching and gagging and drawing attention. Borias approaches Gabrielle as she's looking at Horace.


Vell, my lovely…zat vas quite a banquet you hosted.

Zee pastries are exquisite, Gabrielle, and I should like zee recipe.

Perhaps vee could go somevere private and you can share

your secrets, yes? Now vat ees wrong vis zat dog?


(Handing Borias the last two mouse belly pastries)

Actually, both recipes are in Salmoneus' cookbook.

In the meantime though, here, have a couple more.

(Glancing at Horace)

Huh…must have been something he ate.

>Gabrielle excuses herself and walks away. Borias is watching Horace retching as he absently chews a pastry. Suddenly he stops and pulls a mouse tail out of his mouth.


So, a mouse tail left in zee fermented goulash from zeir bellies.

Hahahaha…how revolting!

Cut to: Int., Cyrene's kitchen, late that night.

>The guests have left and a semblance of order has been restored. Cyrene is relaxing, and has convinced herself to adapt what she knows best to her new land of Chin.


I going to do it. I'm going to open a tavern here in Chin.

The banquet was a smashing success…the people loved my cooking.

Now all I need is a catchy name.


(Chewing her lips as she recalls Borias' attentions)

How about the "Hungry Hun"?


The people here love tradition and history.

Why don't you call it "Cyrene's East"?

Give your new place the cachet of continuity

with your old place in Amphipolis.


Ma, I think ya oughta let your experiences

here in Chin suggest a name for your new place.

Just look 'round our new home for inspiration.

>Cyrene looks out across the courtyard and sees Horace gagging and coughing up the last of the fermented mouse bellies. She smiles.


Oh, Xena, you're right again.

I'll call it "The Puking Dog Inn".



Oh, I'm sure that will go over well, Cyrene…it's so…dramatic.


Hopefully, people will think it's "The Peking Duck Inn".


And they think we're barbarians! Ha!

Fade out:

End of Act 4


Weekly program ending

Fade in: Ext., front door of the old palace, daytime. Cue music track, closing verse of the theme song.

>Shot of Xena, Gabrielle, Cyrene, Ares, and Salmoneus standing in front of the entrance. They are waving "goodbye". Horace is sitting at their feet. He raises a paw and then barks. Through a window to their left, we can see sheep milling around in the library. Argo's head protrudes through a window on their right.

So thank y'all for visitin' with our family of Greeks,

Now they've got the Chin folk thinkin' that they're just a bunch of freaks.

'An all because of Caesar, Chin will never be the same,

So though we never see him, someone has to take the blame.

The blame for the Thracian Hillbillies that is!

Y'all come back next week, y'hear.

('An don'cha try those recipes at home.)

The End


The comprehensive menu for a Chinese banquet can be viewed at:

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