EXT. BARREN HILLTOP, OVERLOOKING A TOWN SET IN A WIDE FLAT PLAIN VERY LATE AFTERNOON
The sun is setting to the west of the town. Its chilly on the hilltop, but a colder wind rises from the plain below. Wavy ripples of smoke rise from each building in town, wafting towards the two observers on the hill. Xena and Gabrielle are wrapped in long leather coats as they sit atop their horses. Xenas is black leather and Gabrielles is a fluffy tan fur coat.
Xena shifts in her saddle and points toward the town.
Thats the end of the trail, Gabrielle. Odorem.
Strange name for a town.
Oh, I dont know.
It kinda fits the place.
Gabrielle looks quizzically at Xena, but gets no response.
Well, the sooner we get there, the sooner
well find out what the emergency is all about.
You know, Xe, its hard to believe that
Arman and Amarice actually got married.
Gab smiles at the thought of seeing the two of them once more. Xena just shakes her head in disbelief.
Whats harder to believe is that Arman is
the towns Marshall and Amarice
runs the local Inn.
Gabrielle reaches over and gives Xena a mild poke on her upper arm.
Now Xe be nice!
Im just wondering what the emergency is.
Hey, Im always nice! Right Argo?
Argo nods her head vigorously and turns to look at Gabrielle. As they leave the barren hilltop, the wind picks up.
Well, maybe to you and me Argo,
although Im not sure if Id agree with
the always part for most anyone else.
Argo knickers at the comment as if in agreement causing both women to laugh. The horse shakes her head from side to side, then huffs and snorts as she starts prancing backwards when a wisp of smoke floats up toward them.
Easy girl, easy.
Xena reaches down and strokes the golden mares main.
Eeeuuwww! What on earth is that smell?
Gab fans the air in front of her with one hand while she holds her nose with the other. She looks suspiciously at Xena then at Argos rump.
Better get used to it, my Bard.
We did promise to help
Arman and Amarice.
Gabrielle looks at the town then back at Xena in horror.
You mean that that smell
is coming from the town?
Xena gives Gab a lopsided grin and winks at her.
Now you know why the name fits.
Xena nudges Argo into a trot before Gabrielle can protest.
Great! Just great!
Gabrielle spurs her horse into a gallop, catching up with Xena at the towns gate.
EXT. DUSTY TOWN MAIN STREET VERY LATE AFTERNOON
Townsfolk scurry down the wind whipped street as Xena and Gabrielle ride down the middle of it.
Xena points to a building with a sheepskin, head and legs included, stretched across the top of the doorway. One of the sheeps legs is loose and holding an ale mug. The gusting wind is comically making it appear as if the sheep is drinking from the mug.
Gotta be Amarices place.
Gabrielle looks up and down the main street and nods in agreement.
Well, it looks like its
the only Inn in town.
They dismount and walk their horses over to the hitching post in front of the building. As they step toward the Inn, the swinging half doors burst open as a MAN is thrown through them. The ejected person hits the ground and rolls right into Xenas legs, face down. Xena kicks the semi-conscious man over and recognizes him. Gabrielle gasps and hurries over.
Just then, a big burly woman comes out of the Inn and stops, taking in the scene. She snarls at Gabrielle and moves forward with the intention of continuing her pounding of Autolocus.
Git yer hands off him!
That piece of meat is mine!
As the woman reaches down to grab Gabrielle, shes stopped cold as Xena grabs her shirt from behind and yanks her backward. Hissing in the womans ear, Xena snarls.
Not anymore hes not.
The woman turns and begins to swing a clenched right fist toward Xena, but is stopped as Xena catches the fist with her left hand and begins to bend it backward. The woman tries to push back but is outmatched and starts grimacing as the pain intensifies.
If youre smart,
youll know when to quit.
Arrgghh, hes more
trouble than hes worth!
She pulls back, shaking her hand out after Xena releases her grip. She looks Xena up and down, and then looks at Gabrielle who is cradling Autolocus head in her lap, then back up at Xena.
Let me know if you
want to dump the blonde.
As the woman stomps off, Xena and Gabrielle shake their heads in disgust. Xena takes the water skin off Argos saddle and hands it to Gabrielle. Gab gives Autolocus a small dousing of water to wake him up then offers him a drink. He blinks, focusing finally on the two women.
Well, at least she didnt
mess up his memory.
Autolocus, what on earth were
you doing with that woman?
Autolocus slowly sits up and assesses himself, groaning as he moves slowly to stand.
I wasnt doing anything
Xena and Gabrielle look at each other and roll their eyes.
No really! I was just sitting in
there and having a mug of ale.
He dusts himself off and grins wide.
Guess she took a liking to me.
XENA & GABRIELLE
Cmon, lets go inside and
find out the whole story.
INTERIOR OF INN EARLY EVENING
Its very crowded and loud with a lot of jostling and shoving going on. Xena, Gabrielle and Autolocus are sitting at a table in the back corner. Xena is surveying the rowdy behavior and the frantic actions of the petite bar keeper as she tries to keep the customers happy and realizes that many of the customers are not what one would expect in a sheep herding town.
I thought Amarice owned this place.
One of the young girls helping the bar keeper sets a round of mugs down at their table and responds to Gabrielles comment.
She does but, shes
The young girl looks up toward the sleeping rooms and Gabrielle becomes alarmed.
What? Is she all right?
Gab stands quickly ready to head up the flight of stairs. The young girl puts her arm out and touches Gabrielles arm.
Oh, shes fine shes just well having
a tough time right now. That little baby
shes carrying has been giving her a rough time!
Gabrielle, Xena and Autolocus look at the young girl in surprise, then at each other.
Baby? Shes going to have a baby?
Her note didnt say anything about a baby!
Gabrielle looks at Xena who just shrugs. Xena turns her attention to the young girl, reaching up and grabbing a bottle that comes whizzing through the air. With a nonchalant motion, Xena sets the bottle down on the table.
Crowds getting a little rough. I thought Arman
is the Marshall here. Where is he anyway?
Oh, he got called out to Cirrus place.
Someones been stealing the sheep herders chips.
Autolocus perks up at the sound of the theft. Hed heard rumors from lesser thieves that there was a shit load of chips to be had in this town but he was just beginning to realize the meaning of their words and that they werent referring to dinar chips. Cautiously he asks
Chips? What kind of chips?
Sheep chips. You know dried sheep dung?
Gabrielle and Autolocus both make faces of disgust while Xena raises an eyebrow and nods in affirmation as the young girl heads back to the bar.
Why would anyone want to steal sheep dung?
Its a very valuable commodity in these parts.
And winters coming. Theres very little in
the way of firewood around here, so the locals burn
Gabrielle begins to see the picture as she gets another whiff of the foul odor that permeates the town.
That smelly smoke thats
Xena smiles as she sees the light dawn in Gabrielles eyes.
END OF TEASER
INT. SLEEPING ROOM EARLY EVENING
Amarice is on the bed moaning. The other person in the room is by the fireplace setting a cauldron of water to boil.
A loud knock on the door makes Amarice growl.
Now, Amarice just relax
The OTHER PERSON turns away from the fire and walks to the door, opening it to see Xena and Gabrielle standing there.
Xena grabs the woman and gives her a hug. Gabrielle moves in and hugs her also.
Arman must really need
help if he called you in too.
Oh, no not me! Ive hung up my
sword and taken up my mothers work.
Talia ushers them into the room, closing the door behind her.
Youre a mid-wife now?
Yes! And believe me its much
more fun bringing life into the
world then sending it out!
Talia looks at Xena and winks.
Gabrielle moves to the bed and sits on it, taking one hand to move wet strands of Amarices hair out of her eyes.
Hey. Babys giving you a tough time I hear.
Amarice stiffens and forces a smile.
No Im fine! Im strong ya know.
Just then another wave of pain hits and Amarice goes white with it. Gabrielle steps aside to give Talia access. Talia rushes to her side and places her hand on Amarices stomach, feeling the fierce kick of the baby inside.
Ouch! Thats gotta hurt.
Whens she due?
Not for a while yet .but that little
guy in there really wants out.
Gritting her teeth, Amarice reaches up and grabs the collar of Talias tunic, twisting it tightly and choking her.
Xena smirks and looks at Talia with a mischievous grin.
How many times do I have to
tell you thats a girl in there!
Well, like I said bringing life in is
better but there are some drawbacks.
Talia gently reaches up and removes Amarices fingers from her clothing.
So, why the bed rest?
Amarice had a little accident.
Seems she tried to break up a fight downstairs
and got tossed over a table or two.
She started having early contractions,
but my mother taught me a little
trick with ale so we got them stopped.
At least for the time being.
Ah, that explains it and the pain.
Messed her back up, huh?
Yep, and I just cant get her to
relax enough to ease the spasms.
Xena moves Amarice onto her side and jabs at two pressure points along her spine providing instant relief.
Thatll help for a while, but once the
time comes, Ill have to take it off.
Now thats a nice trick Id like to learn.
Xena and Talia walk over to the fireplace with Xena showing Talia how to hold her fingers and points out where to touch. As they carry on their conversation, Gabrielle moves back to the bed.
So youre going to be a mom now.
Yeah, guess its too late to change my mind.
Gabrielle grins and strokes Amarices shoulder.
Well, Im sure youre going to be a fine mother.
Amarice looks up at Gab and nods.
Well, if this kid turns out anything like me,
Im going to need a lot of help!
Amarice becomes a bit more serious.
Gabrielle, Arman and I really need
Xena and you to give us a hand right now.
Thats why were here.
Just tell us what you need done.
INT. OF THE INN - EVENING
Focus is on a stern look on Gabrielles face at first then pans out to see her coming down the stairs wearing a fur covered leather outfit, trimmed in feathers. The rowdy crowd looks up as she descends to a series of cat calls and whistling. Xena is on the balcony watching Gabrielle descend, a watchful eye on the crowd.
Gabrielle pulls and tugs on the form fitting outfit that Amarice insisted she wear, mumbling under her breath as she descends.
At least its not made out of sheepskin.
As Gabrielle reaches the bottom of the stairs a DRUNKEN MAN approaches. Xena stiffens, but Gabrielle looks up and gives her a wait and see signal.
Now, thats a really fine outfit you got on there,
but whats with all them feathers?
He begins to reach for the feathers around the neckline, but is stopped as Gabrielle reaches up and slaps an iron grip on his wrist. She turns to the room eliciting more whistles and cat calls. Clearing her throat, she begins.
My name is Gabrielle and Im here
to help my friend Amarice who needs
some quiet and rest.
And, I intend to make sure she has it.
You look more like a kitty
that ate some poor bird!
The crowd laughs and Gabrielle turns up the pressure on the wrist she is still holding. He grimaces and falls to his knees.
Okay okay Miss Kitty anything you say.
He pauses, looking up at Gabrielle who frowns at the name given her. Xena can be heard chuckling on the balcony. Gab releases the drunk and steps up on a bench.
All right, listen up! Therell be no more
brawling or rowdy behavior in here.
A large MAN with one eye and a long scar down his right cheek enters and stops just inside the door. He did not see Gabrielle take care of the drunken man.
LARGE MAN AT DOOR
Xena comes down the stairs now wearing long leather pants, a purple tunic with a leather vest over it, with a Marshalls metal insignia displayed on the vest. Shes exchanged her long sword and scabbard for a shorter sword neatly slung on her hip opposite her chakram.
Or youll make me angry and
you dont want to see me angry.
Xena walks over to the MAN, hiking up an eyebrow she pins him with a stare and curls her lip in a lop sided snarl.
Got a problem with that?
Autolocus moves across the room to where Gabrielle is standing. His smiles wide as he assess Gabs outfit and leans in to whisper.
Hmm, I think Miss Kitty fits you
Gabrielle narrows her eyes and stares back at him, causing him to straighten back up.
Or, not. (beat) Umm, how about I give
you a hand here while Xena helps out Arman?
Gabrielle nods and motions for him to slip behind the bar to give the young girl a hand filling ale mugs. Gabrielle watches as the MAN at the door appraises Xena, finally focusing on the badge on her vest. The entire room has gone silent watching them also.
So, ya gonna behave while youre here?
Ill behave any way I want. It takes more
than a woman wearing a badge to scare me.
He reaches out to push Xena aside, but she stands firm, grabbing his hands as they push against her shoulders. While holding on, Xena pushes back and ejects the man from the Inn, releasing him as he stumbles through the door and falls backward onto the hard dirt of the street. She follows him out the door and stands on the boardwalk, looking down at him, hands on her hips. The rest of the Inn, follows her outside, or watches through the windows.
Then I guess you wont be coming in.
The man gets up slowly, grabbing handfuls of dirt as he rises. He flings the dirt at Xena who instinctively shuts her eyes so she doesnt see him rushing her. Her hearing though, picks up his movement and she reacts by doing a turning flip over him as he dives toward her. Landing behind him, she kicks him in the butt as he dives grabbing the air where she was. He lands hard on the boardwalk, sliding into the door frame. A loud crack is heard as his head hits the jamb. At first he looks as though hes going to get up, then falls face first onto the floor boards. Xena dusts off her hands and looks at the crowd.
Anyone else thinking of misbehaving?
A wave of heads shaking causes Xena to smile. She points to two of the men closest to the unconscious man.
You two take him to the
jail and lock him up.
The sound of a horse galloping up to the Inn has her turn quickly around ready for more action, but she relaxes as she sees Arman pull his horse up and dismount. Arman watches as the two men drag the man off toward the jail then joins Xena on the boardwalk. He has a serious look on his face.
Darius isnt going to like that
youre putting Marius in jail.
Marius, eh? So, thats his name.
His brother. Hes twice as big and twice as mean.
And my bet is theyre the ones behind the thefts.
Then hell fall twice as hard.
Arman looks at Xena and smiles. Glad to see her, he steps up and they embrace in a hug.
Well, then I guess you should fill me in.
INT. JAILHOUSE - EVENING
The front area is small with a table, two chairs, a rack of swords on the wall, and a roundish fireplace (similar to a modern day southwestern chimnea with the smoke stack extending through the roof) in the middle of the room. The fireplace separates the front of the jail from the cell in the back. Marius is lying on a cot in the one and only cell, still unconscious. Outside night is falling and the temperature is dropping.
Arman is tossing several dung chips into the small fireplace as Xena examines it, walking around it and appreciating the radiating heat it produces.
Nice. I cant say Ive ever seen
anything with this design before.
Thanks. I designed it myself.
It puts out a lot of heat with
just a little dung and the chimney
takes the fumes out along with the smoke.
Well, if you get tired of keeping the peace,
you could probably do well with this.
Arman shrugs and then pulls out a chair and sits down. Xena joins him sitting in the other chair.
So, whats the story Arman?
He sighs and looks into the cell in the back, noting that Marius is still out cold.
Its been a really good summer.
We had a bumper crop of lambs this year,
good wool sales, and plenty of dinars
made their way into the herders pockets.
Then, as the weather started to get colder,
the herders started to pile up the dung for the winter.
Just as soon as theyd get a decent pile together,
it would disappear before they could haul it back
to their homes. Xena, these people rely on
that dung to get through the cold winter in these parts.
And this year the Oracle said its going to be a very bad winter.
This is normally a very peaceful place.
But with all the thefts, people are blaming
each other and getting into fights.
Just the slightest thing sets them off.
Xena nods her head having seen the rowdiness first hand at the Inn and also knowing that it was already too cold for this time of year.
So, you think that these brothers, Marius and
Darius are the ones behind the dung rustling?
Arman nods in agreement.
I dont have anything solid to accuse them.
Its just a feeling I have.
Theyre the only herders who havent
complained about their dung being stolen.
Not too smart on their count.
They both turn their heads as they hear Marius begin to waken.
Lets see if we can get to the bottom of this.
Xena stands and picks up the key for the jail lock. Arman follows her as she opens the jail door and leans over the groggy man. As he blinks his eyes open, she jabs him in the throat.
Ive just cut off the flow of blood to your brain.
You have thirty seconds to tell me what
I want to know or youll die.
(pauses for effect)
Now, whos stealing all the sheep dung?
I I dont know.
Xena shakes her head.
Do you understand that unless you
tell me what I want to know,
youre gonna die in 20 seconds?
Marius nods, partially sits up and quietly gasps out.
I dont know.
Is it Darius?
Are you afraid of him?
Marius eyes widen then he shakes his head slowly. Xena jabs his throat to release the pinch, then shoves him back on the cot and stands. They exit the cell and relock the door.
Well, either he doesnt know,
or hes not afraid to die.
If Darius was my brother,
I wouldnt tell on him either.
Your pinch would be an easy death
compared to what hed do to him.
Well, it looks like well have to go out
there and check out this Darius.
Lets get some dinner over at the
Inn while we wait for it to get darker.
INT. OF THE INN - EVENING
The patrons are fairly quiet as Xena and Arman enter. Autolocus is behind the bar and Gabrielle is leaning against the bar fanning dungsmoke away from her face with an improvised fan of feather quills.
Xena approaches the bar and leans over to whisper in Gabrielles ear.
Why hello there, Miss Kitty
Gabrielle smacks the warrior with the handful of quills shes been using to fan the smoke.
Xena, this smell is really awful.
How can these people stand it?
Necessity, Gabrielle. They probably
dont even notice it anymore.
Thats right, Gabrielle.
You get used to it after a while.
Well, its about to turn my guts inside out.
Looking up at Xena she pleads with her eyes.
Isnt there something you can do
to block the smell? Some pinch or something?
Like the sea sick thing I do on my wrists?
Xena sighs and places her hands along the bridge of Gabrielles nose, sliding her thumbs down beneath her eyes and along the sinuses. She repeats the motion three times, each time just a little slower.
There. Is that better?
Gabrielle inhales deeply then smiles at Xena.
Wow that worked. Thanks.
Arman notices Talia coming down the stairs and he rushes over to her.
Hows Amarice? Has the baby come yet?
Not yet, Arman but soon, Im sure.
Hows the pain? Has it stopped?
Talia looks over at Xena and smiles.
Well, you can thank your deputy on that one.
She used one of her many skills to stop it.
Arman looks at Xena and nods.
Thanks, Xena. I owe you one.
Arman looks back at Talia, anxiously.
Is it okay to go see her?
I mean she was a bit
She just fell asleep, but you can go on up
without worrying about having your head ripped off!
Arman bounds up the stairs and the rest settle at the table near the stairs. Xena fills them in on their questioning of Marius which has left them without suspects in the thefts. They plan on checking out their barn later tonight to just to verify Marius story.
Well, in my experience, you have to look
at who would gain the most from the thefts.
And, since the items being stolen are not
necessarily something the thief wants
to keep for himself, you have to look at
who is willing to buy the stolen chips.
Gabrielle looks around the room and shakes her head.
Well, just about anyone in this room
would fit the bill on that.
Winter is just around the corner and
theyre all going to need the chips for heating.
Talia, youve been here longer than we have.
Who do you think would be the buyer?
Just about everyone in this room
or in this town for that matter, would be
willing to buy the chips to make sure they
have enough for the winter.
Okay, were looking at the obvious here.
Maybe we need to think outside of the coliseum.
What else can sheep dung be used for?
GABRIELLE, AUTOLOCUS, TALIA
Right! But, theres not much farming
going on in these parts. What else?
I remember when we were in Indus,
the people there used dung mixed with
other substances to paint their bodies
for religious ceremonies.
Ugh, bet that was an aromatic experience.
I remember that too, but if its used like that,
I dont think the amount of dung needed would
equal whats missing. What else?
Hey! Ive heard that some folks throw chips.
Maybe theyre some kind of weapon?
Oh yeah I can see it now.
Warriors slinging dung chips!
Puts a whole new meaning behind the people
from Chin who are always trying to save face
Or the saying: Holy sh..
Xena shakes her head while the others break out in laughter.
Cmon! Lets get serious here!
Gabrielle covers her face with her hands, peeking at Xena through the spaces of her extended fingers. When she recovers from the laughter she sits up and speaks seriously as she remembers something from the past.
Okay, I remember reading a scroll when
I was at the Academy about how the gods
made ambrosia from the foulest items on earth.
What could be fouler than animal excrement?
Maybe someone is trying to do that?
Now, that would be worth something!
Yeah, it would. But the bigger question is
who around here would have the skills to do it?
Arman, I think we can wait till tomorrow to
visit Darius. And, I want to check the last
place where the dung was stolen.
EXT. DAYTIME - OPEN FIELD
Lots of sheep can be heard off in the distance. Xena and Arman are investigating the area where the last pile of dung was reported stolen from.
Okay, this is the spot.
Are you sure? Everything
around here looks the same.
No, Im sure. See that scrub over there?
Thats where I tied off my horse.
Xena nods, satisfied that they are really searching the right area.
Okay, now when did Cirrus notice
his dung pile was missing?
Yesterday. I came right out here
when he told me about it.
I must have been out here just about the
time you and Gabrielle showed up in town.
Uh huh. And has anyone else
been out here since?
No, I dont think so.
I told Cirrus to keep the sheep away
from here until I had a chance to look
around better. It was late afternoon and the
light wasnt good enough to see much.
Xena walks carefully around the site, meticulously examining each blade of grass and barren spot. She looks intensely at a foot print in the dirt then over at Armans booted feet.
Pick up your foot for me.
Just pick up your foot.
Arman complies and Xena examines the boot print he left in the dirt and then continues searching. Arman remains standing with one foot in the air.
Without looking at him, Xena waves for him to put his foot back down.
Okay, Ive seen all I want.
Lets go back to town.
EXT. DUSTY ROAD - DAY
Xena and Arman are on horseback heading to town. On the road back to Odorem, theyre met by a VERY large man on horseback. He has the same facial features of Marius, but is larger and older. He stops his horse, blocking the roadway. Arman whispers to Xena as they approach.
He doesnt look too happy.
Well, thats just too bad then
because Im not too happy either.
Marshall Im holding you responsible
for the loss of my winters dung.
What do you mean?
I didnt take your dung.
No, but someone did and its your fault.
You locked up Marius and he was
supposed to be guarding our dung!
Xena watches Darius intently, slipping Argo between Arman and Darius when she sees him reach for his dagger.
Nah, that wasnt Arman.
That was me!
Xena slips her right foot out of the stirrup and kicks up at the hand holding the dagger causing it to pop out of the mans hand. As it tumbles back down in the air, Xena reaches up and grabs it, pointing it at Darius.
Not nice to point one of these at your Marshall.
Either you want to spend some time with
your brother in jail or youre pretty stupid!
Darius is enraged at the insult and leaps from his horse towards Xena. Argo dances backward and allows Darius to fall on his face in the dirt. Bobbing her head up and down, Argo snorts then turns her head back toward Xena who pets the horses neck.
Yeah, I thought so too Argo.
Hes not the brightest candle in the box.
Xena dismounts and reaches a hand down to help Darius up. Arman slips off his horse and helps.
Look Darius, your brother is
in jail because he caused a disturbance.
Do you want to join him or do you
want to find out who stole your dung?
Darius stands and dusts off his clothes, sneering at Xena.
I want my dung back!
Argo snorts and waggles her head again.
Yeah, maybe he is a little brighter, girl.
Okay, lets go check it out.
INT. EMPTY BARN DAY
Xena is searching the area while Arman and Darius stand at the door watching her.
Whats she doing?
Searching for clues, what else?
When did you notice the dung was gone?
This morning. I came out to check on Marius
but when he wasnt here and the
dung was gone, I rode into town.
Then you came out looking to blame me?
And no one else has been around
here that you know of?
No. No one.
Xena takes one more walk around the interior of the barn, then checks around the outside of the building. Arman and Darius follow her looking at each area she examined and see nothing. Xena rubs her chin and smiles.
Okay, Ive seen enough. Lets go.
I dont get it Xena. What do you see?
INT. INN - LATE AFTERNOON
Xena, Autolocus, Gabrielle and Arman are sitting at a table.
Okay, so thats the plan.
The three heads nod in affirmation. Autolocus and Arman get up and head out. Xena and Gabrielle are left at the table. Gabrielle notices Xena is lost in thought. She reaches across the table and takes Xenas hand.
Whered you go?
Youre off somewhere.
Hmm, just thinking theres more to
this than meets the eye.
Ive got a really bad feeling about this.
What do you mean?
I cant put my finger on it,
but something else is going on here.
Xena reaches up and gently strokes Gabrielles face.
Im going to go out and take a walk through town.
Make sure everything is okay.
Want me to go with you?
No. No, you stay here and keep an
eye on things. Ill be back in a little bit.
Xena gets up and gives Gabrielle a reassuring kiss, smiling as their lips part. As she walks out of the Inn, Gabrielle watches her, anxiety written on her face.
INT. INNS BARN - NIGHT
Its dark outside and the barns interior is illuminated by the light of one lone candle lantern.
Xena walks over to Argos stall, opens the gate and steps in closing the gate behind her. She reaches in the saddlebag and pulls out Argos brush. Xena begins brushing Argo. Argo flicks her head and whinnies softly.
Hey, girl. You feel it too, dont ya?
Argo whinnies again and nods her head up and down. Suddenly Xena stiffens and turns toward the open area of the barn.
A shimmering light forms into the god of war.
You know Xena, one of these days Im going to
sneak up on you and you wont know it!
In your dreams.
Ares walks over to the stall and rests his arms over the gate, grinning at Xena. Xena raises an eyebrow in question.
So, what are you up to this time, Ares?
What would the god of war need sheep dung for?
Xena! Im hurt!
You think Ive been stealing sheep dung? Me?
He laughs out loud as he enters the stall.
Well, there wasnt a single trace left
at any of the theft sites.
So you tell me who can come in,
take what they want, and leave no trace?
Now, maybe Id do that to steal
He reaches out and kisses Xena, only to have her bite his lip in response.
Okay, okay but why sheep dung?
What in the name of Zeus would I need sheep dung for?
Maybe you need a source of ambrosia
no one else knows about?
So you could build an alliance of
lesser gods to do your dirty work?
He reaches up and carefully caresses Xenas face with his hands. Xena allows the gesture long enough to pin him with a feral smile, he then pulls away sharply.
You dont really believe that story that you can
make ambrosia out of foul ingredients do you?
Xena just continues to stare at him, arms now folded across her chest.
Now, now, Xena.
Things arent always what they appear.
You just may be in for a little surprise
and you may even like it.
Not if its one of your surprises.
Ares winks and blows her a kiss, then shimmers out of sight. Xena inhales deeply, turns back to Argo and continues to groom her.
Well, girl it looks like my hunch was right.
Ares is mixed up in this and I dont
think Im going to like his little surprise.
Argo snorts and bounces her head in agreement.
INT. AMARICES ROOM - MID-MORNING.
Talia is pacing the floor. Finally, a knock on the door and it opens with Xena entering, Gabrielle following her in.
Yes, about a candlemark ago.
Xena walks over to the bed and smiles at Amarice and turns her on her side.
Im going to take off the pinch now.
Youre going to have to go through
this the old fashioned way.
She jabs the spots on her back that blocked the pain and as soon as she does, Amarice groans loudly.
Arrgggh. By the gods, Xena!
Why cant men go through this instead of women?
If they did, civilization would die out,
because no babies would ever be born.
He needs to be here for this!
Hes out with Autolocus, setting a trap
for tonight. Dont worry hell be back in time.
Talia reaches down and feels the baby moving.
Thats right Amarice.
Theres plenty of time before that
little fellow um, girl comes out.
But its just mid-morning
he wont be here until tonight?
Yeah, thats right.
Youve got a long ways to go yet.
Another contraction hits and Amarice grabs the blanket in her fists and stifles a moan. She looks up at Xena.
Thisll last all day?
Cant you keep the pinch on a little longer?
Xena smiles and nods at her in sympathy. Gabrielle pats Amarice on the arm and Talia places a hand on her stomach, keeping track of the contractions.
Talia needs to keep track of the contractions
and the baby has to do things on its own.
Youre a strong Amazon youll do fine.
Amarice smiles and grimaces another wave of pain rolls through her.
INT. INN - VERY LATE AFTERNOON.
Another scream reaches the patrons in the inn, sending the few remaining men out the door. Xena and Gabrielle are sitting at a table in the back of the room. Gabrielle is dressed in her normal clothes.
Did the rest of the herders agree to pool
whats left of their dung?
Yes, but it wasnt easy to convince them.
The last load should be coming in just about now.
Do you think it will be enough to get the
thief to try to steal it from the town barn?
Ares is arrogant enough.
Im sure hell come for it.
Youre sure its Ares?
It has to be. What other god
would want or need ambrosia?
Nah. She wouldnt stoop that low.
An ear piercing scream resonates through the building.
Think Ill go up and see if Talia needs help.
Sure you want to take a chance going up there?
Cmon Xena, how bad can it be?
Okay, just remember I warned ya.
INT. TOWN BARN LOFT - NIGHT
Gabrielle is rubbing her neck.
Oww, oww, oww.
I told you not to go up there.
Hey, I was only trying to give her some water
when all of a sudden wham!...Im in a neck lock!
Will you listen to me next time?
Sighing, Gabrielle agrees. Xena looks across the loft to where Autolocus and Arman are waiting.
Are you sure this netting will work?
Uh huh. Autolocus really earned his
title as the King of Thieves today.
Getting that netting out of Hephaestus
workshop without getting caught was a work of art.
Are you sure it will bind Ares power?
No, but its the best shot we have.
Xena quickly holds up a hand in warning and the foursome hold their respective breaths as they see a shimmering body begin to materialize on the floor below. One finger went up, followed by a second, and then on the third, followed by each of them releasing their portion of the netting. It drifts downward capturing the god below. Xena flips from the loft to be the first one facing the god.
Whats with the net?
She tries to get out of it, but Hephaestus net holds her powerless. Gabrielle is next to arrive and is shocked at the catch.
Aphrodite, what are you doing here?
Hi, cutie. You want to have your
warrior babe let me out of this?
Gabrielle puts her hands on her hips and steps up closer to the captive god.
Not so fast, Aphrodite.
You need to answer a few questions here first.
Okay, but you need to hurry.
I have to get this last load up to Olympus
or the whole batch will go bad.
The whole batch?
So, I was right and Ares is making ambrosia.
No, silly were making a totally new potion
its going to be divine!
What kind of potion and just whos making it?
Aphrodite frowns and pokes a finger out at Xena.
Ya know, Xena if this delay ruins it,
Im really going to be upset!
Xena rolls her eyes and folds her arms across her chest
Well, then I guess you better just tell
us what youre doing and with who.
Aphrodite shakes her head and sighs.
Well, me and Demeter and Peitho
are making a new potion to help women attract men.
And you need sheep dung for that?
Autolocus and Arman now join Gabrielle and Xena to hear this explanation.
Hey, all you have to do is endow them a little better
Gabrielle slaps Autolocus in the stomach and he groans.
Rather than explain, Ill show you. Here.
She reaches between her breasts and pulls out a small vial and sticks it out of the netting. Gabrielle takes the vial and carefully removes the stopper and puts it near her lips.
NO! You dont drink it babe you wear it!
Xena and Gabrielle lift one eyebrow at her and then cautiously both sniff the potion, quickly turning away to get a breath of fresh air.
XENA and GABRIELLE
Hey weve worked hard on this!
Let me smell.
He takes the vial from Gabrielle and takes a whiff.
Hmm, not bad.
You may be on to something here.
He hands it to Arman who smells it and bobs his head agreeing, and then hands it back to Aphrodite.
So, let me get this straight.
You need sheep dung for this potion?
Well, yeah weve tried other stuff, pig patties,
bat guano, even those little tiny rabbit droppings,
but the sheep dung had the best results.
You see you mix in a little
Aphrodite, theres just one little problem
with you using this towns sheep dung.
She pauses while she gets Aphrodites attention.
You see, these people rely on that sheep dung
to keep them warm in the coming winter.
They need it to heat their homes and cook their meals
and youve just about stolen all of it, except for this last pile.
Oh, ewww. They burn it? Doesnt it stink?
Well, yes, it does. But its all they have
to get them through the winter.
Aphrodite lowers her head and frowns then abruptly raises it and smiles.
I didnt realize they need the stuff but I can fix it for them!
INT. AMARICES ROOM - EVENING
A red glow is casting a warm hue on the entire room.
Theres a knock on the door.
AMARICE and ARMAN
Xena and Gabrielle enter the room.
Hey, howre you feeling?
Great. Did you see her?
Yeah, Talia just showed her to us.
Shes beautiful, Amarice.
What are you going to name her?
Well, we thought about naming her Xena,
but one in the world is enough.
They all laugh while Xena blushes.
And we thought about Gabrielle too,
but that wouldnt be fair to Xena.
So, we decided to name her Terris.
Gabrielle smiles and leans into Xena. Xena places her arm around Gabrielle and gives her a squeeze. Talia enters the room with Terris bundled in a blanket and hands her to Amarice.
Wow, it sure is toasty in here.
How did Aphrodite manage to get Hephaestus
to make these for the whole town?
She points to the fireplace where a large metal and glass bowl glows with a bubbling red substance.
Well, you know Aphrodite she has her ways.
What did you say she called these things?
They look at the bubbling metal and glass bowls once more, shrug their shoulders and exit the room.
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