The Big Disclaimer:The characters appearing in 'Hi no Tori' are mostly the property of Renaissance Pictures and the USA Network. This was written solely for the fans, not for profit, and is not intended to infringe on the rights of the copyright holders.
Specific Story Disclaimers:
Location: This story, like
the finale, is set mostly in Japan. I'll say from the outset that I don't like
that palette for Xena, preferring the locales and themes of Greece. TV Guide
wrote a jeer about the finale where they compared it being set in Japan with
having the last episode of Gunsmoke on a pirate ship. I couldn't agree
There were two separate timelines that dictated my decision. One was the timeframe I wanted for my story. I wanted it set just a few weeks at most after the finale, where as a trek to Egypt would take much longer than that. Also, I only found out about this contest three weeks before the deadline, not leaving much time for research-much less coming up with the entire story and writing it.
I already had a working knowledge of both Japanese language and customs, so-you guessed it-I got Gabrielle back to Japan ASAP. In the end, it worked out quite well. I discovered that Japan held the key to solving this mystery.
Subtext or maintext: I struggled
long and hard about how to portray their relationship. I didn't want to write
something that would be considered 'alt-fic', but the story I wanted to write
centered around Gabrielle trying to deal with losing the love of her life.
I looked at several episodes this season: When fates Collide and Many Happy Returns clearly portrayed a romantic rather than platonic relationship. In Soul Possessions Xena made a reference to Gabrielle as the person she meant to spend the rest of her life when Ares asked for her hand in marriage.
Thrown into the mix are the sentiments made in the finale itself-which prompted Lucy Lawless's own admission that her character had been 'outed' (despite allegations about any ulterior motives for doing so).
Based upon all of that, I made my decision. I treated the relationship as 'maintext', and proceeded from there.
My intent: While the contest
offered me the option to write an entirely new finale, I felt that 'Friend in
Need' just left too much in its wake to simply pretend it didn't happen. It
left too many scars, and I felt that it had to be addressed.
Also I wanted to align with that the producers claimed was one of the goals of the writers this season: to heal some of the old wounds in Xena and Gabrielle's relationship. I didn't see much of that this season, the one example that comes to mind being in 'The Abyss' when a delirious Gabrielle is confused with images of Hope. I thought Xena's reaction really showed that she felt the impact in her role in all of that, but was that ever addressed to relieve either character's guilt? Nah.
So...in a nutshell, my goal was to repair the damage done to the series plausibly, armed with the tools and confusing morality left to me by FIN, and heal some of the old wounds and doubts that may have lingered between them. As a bonus, I wanted to try and reconcile the two halves of Gabrielle's character: the bard and the warrior, and I agreed to give myself extra points if I could get rid of Gabrielle's dragon tattoo J. All within about three weeks time. Well, I didn't leave myself much to do, did I...?
Did I succeed...? That's the question. I hope you enjoy Hi no Tori.
EXT. YAMADA RESIDENCE - OUTSKIRTS OF HIGUCHI - NIGHT.
Thunder rumbles and lightning cycles through a thick blanket of storm clouds. Resting against this turbulent background is the residence of the YAMADA family-a large compound that resembles a castle.
A lone figure approaches the
INT. YAMADA RESIDENCE - RECEIVING AREA - NIGHT.
HARUKATA TAKESHI-a priest, and the son of the great GHOST KILLER HARUKATA-is greeted by the Lord and Lady of the manor: YAMADA TOCHIRO and his wife MIYUKI.
They are about the same age: their mid to late twenties-although Miyuki's porcelain features disguise her age by almost half a decade. The couple bow before the priest.
You honor us with your presence.
I would not expect old friends to use such
formality, and I would be saddened to hear that
we are no longer such.
That releases the tension, and Tochiro clasps his shoulder.
Its been too long, Takeshi.
My condolences on your grandmother's passing. I
was away in Edo.
She missed you, Takeshi. She said her fondest
memories were watching us play together as
She died in her sleep-and thanks to your father
she passed in peace-free of Yodoshi's grasp.
We also offer condolences. We know your father
died to destroy Yodoshi.
He wasn't alone.
Please, how can I serve you now?
It's our daughter...
INT. DAUGHTER'S ROOM - NIGHT.
Murals painted on the rice paper paneled walls are the only adornment to this otherwise sparse room.
A girl lies on a mat in the center of the room with several servants in attendance. A thick dark wool blanket covers her.
The girl's breathing is labored, coming in shallow rasps. She has black hair, and appears to be about ten years old. Her name is KYOKO.
Takeshi is led into the room, and he surveys the situation. His expression speaks volumes.
Tochiro's father thinks a demon torments her.
Takeshi absorbs this with a nod. Behind them, an AIDE approaches Tochiro, whispers something in his ear, and then withdraws.
Please...excuse me for a moment.
He exits. Takeshi removes his outer cloak.
Takeshi, please...can you save my daughter?
No pressure. He attempts a confident smile.
I'll do my best.
Then she will be fine.
Takeshi-kun...you would be such a wonderful father.
Why have you not--
There is only one person I'll ever love, Miyuki.
You know that.
She can't hold his gaze.
I'm sorry, Takeshi.
Again, he accepts this with
a simple nod, and moves past her.
INT. DAUGHTER'S BEDROOM - NIGHT.
TIME HAS PASSED. Takeshi is praying over the girl, mumbling softly. Tochiro and Miyuki are sitting in the corner, maintaining their own vigil.
Kyoko is feverish. The sweat beads on her skin, and mats strings of her hair to her forehead.
Takeshi goes dead silent in mid prayer. Tochiro has half a heartbeat to turn his gaze to his friend.
In a flurry of motion that startles the half-dozing Miyuki, Takeshi produces a small STRIP OF PAPER and throws it toward the opposite wall. It is covered in KANJI-Chinese symbols-and is a glyph incensed with the power to ward off spirits.
The paper stops in mid flight, and in a flash of light Takeshi's opponent is revealed-literally materializing out of thin air.
The malignant spirit crosses its arms in an 'X' to repel the glyph and hold it at bay. The magical conflict creates sparks that light the interior of the room.
The spirit has a white face with black and red stripes painted on it. It has angular features, and long white hair. It wears a traditional tunic with a blue and red design emblazoned upon it.
With a grin, the spirit leaps backward, passing through the wall as if it didn't exist. The glyph falls to the floor.
A moment of stunned apprehension.
They run into the adjoining
room. Miyuki moves over Kyoko protectively.
INT. MEDITATION ROOM - NIGHT.
This is a perfectly square room with rice paper paneled walls similar to Kyoko's room, and dark red carpeting.
Takeshi and Tochiro rush into the room. Takeshi scans the room.
Can you find it?
Yes-but I'm no hunter...
He looks, and sees a shrine against the one wall with a set of two curved swords resting in their holder.
Tochiro: your blade! Bring it to me!
Tochiro complies, drawing the longer one-the katana-from its scabbard and presenting it to Takeshi. Takeshi closes his eyes, and mumbles a prayer to bless it.
Strike when I say to.
Tochiro nods. Takeshi produces four more of the paper glyphs, and throws one of them at each of the four compass points aligned around the room. They hit the wall, and stick there.
Takeshi sits down in the center
of the floor, and puts his hands together. Tochiro looks around nervously.
INT. DAUGHTER'S ROOM - NIGHT.
She gets up from her daughter's
INT. MEDITATION ROOM - NIGHT.
A glimmer of a face is visible for just a moment, and then it is gone. It moves through the wall like a ghost-as if the wall itself were the surface of a lake.
Takeshi's eyes dart in that direction.
Takeshi-what manner of demon is this?
Do you remember when my father told us a tale...
a spirit who fed Yodoshi's appetite for souls-fueled
by hatred and pain, but created by love.
I thought that was just a story!
So did I...
INT. DAUGHTER'S ROOM - NIGHT.
Miyuki creeps closer to the wall, straining to hear.
Miyuki puts her ear to the
INT. MEDITATION ROOM - NIGHT.
One of the paper strips rustles as if a wind blew through it. Takeshi's senses come alert, and his eyes track along the wall. He sees a piece of the spirit's tunic break the plane of the rice paper.
He throws a glyph at the wall.
Tochiro lunges toward the spot. His blade pierces the glyph, driving the
katana deep into his target.
INT. DAUGHTER'S BEDROOM - NIGHT.
Miyuki's eyes widen as her
mouth forms a silent scream.
INT. MEDITATION ROOM - NIGHT.
Tochiro withdraws his sword. He looks at the crimson stained blade.
An all to human form slumps against the rice paper wall, and Tochiro instinctively takes a step backward.
Miyuki's lifeless form rips through the paper wall. Tochiro drops his blade, and catches her.
INT. DAUGHTER'S BEDROOM - NIGHT.
Kyoko breathes two shallow breaths. The third never comes. Her eyes reflect the subtle change as she moves from this world to the next.
In the background, Tochiro holds his wife's body, rocking her as he sobs helplessly.
Takeshi steps back, horrified.
EXT. CABIN - PORCH - DAY.
GABRIELLE sits on a chair on her porch, working diligently at one of her scrolls. She is dressed in comfortable attire, and has a slight, absent smile on her face. She closes her eyes as the warm breeze gently ruffles her hair.
A little girl fresh out of the toddler years, sporting big green eyes and long black hair approaches her, holding a distinctive WHITE FLOWER in her hand.
Gabrielle looks up, and smiles at her daughter.
Thank you, sweetheart.
Gabrielle takes the flower, and lifts its fragrant scent to her nose. She grins, and looks out across the courtyard.
A retired Warrior Princess is leaning against the wall of the stable with her arms folded. Xena gazes at the bard with a look of stark adoration.
EXT. CAMPFIRE IN CHIN - NIGHT.
Gabrielle awakens with a start, and runs a shaking hand through her hair. She puts a face in her hand, and silent tears stream down her cheeks.
Nights are the hardest. I used to love the
evenings: setting up camp, cooking dinner.
Most nights we'd spend talking, and on clear
nights we'd always spend at least a little
while finding shapes in the stars.
EXT. CAMPFIRE IN CHIN - NIGHT.
Gabrielle is sitting against a rock, writing in a journal. She is dressed in the Japanese style tunic and light armor that she wore in Japan.
Now the world changes at sunset. My ghost leaves
me every night to return at sunrise. It's amazing
how one night can seem like an eternity.
Sometimes the day approaches normality-and we'll
talk and laugh. But sometimes that's worse because
I forget...and when night comes its like she dies
all over again.
Sometimes I wonder if she's really there at all-
or am I just slowly going mad?
The dreams aren't helping. Before, I relived the
horror of finding her body night after night. Now
the gods see fit to torment me with visions of a
life we'll never have.
Regardless of what she thought, Xena deserved that
life. I always wanted to give that to her
someday. Now, I wonder what I was waiting for...?
Her head bobs as she fights off sleep, and continues writing again.
I was grateful to leave Japan, although I would have
been hard pressed to ever believe I'd have fonder
memories of Chin-which is where I am now-than any
other place in the known world.
What was it they called me as I left? Mibojin-that
was it. I forgot to ask them what that meant. I
wonder if it means warrior? It's strange to think of
myself as that sometimes, but I can't remember the
last time I composed a poem.
She chuckles wryly to herself.
I can't imagine trying, either. I guess I better keep
practicing with that chakram. There's not much call
for a bard whose lost her inspiration.
And she was that...and so much more...
EXT. CAMPFIRE IN CHIN - DAY.
The sun peaks over the horizon. A leather clad figure walks over to Gabrielle, who evidently fell asleep in the same uncomfortable position in which we last saw her.
She wipes the streaks from Gabrielle's tear stained face, and she stirs. Xena lifts her chin, and Gabrielle's eyes flutter open.
Gabrielle looks into the face of her soulmate, Xena's expression a mirror image of the one in Gabrielle's dream. Gabrielle looks away.
You've been crying.
I'm not used to sleeping alone...
Xena pulls Gabrielle back to the campfire, and lies down on their sleeping fur. Gabrielle lies in the crook of her shoulder, and Xena wraps her arms around her.
I've got you...
Why are you wearing your armor? It can't be
You're one to talk, Xena.
I just didn't feel right in my old outfit. I
just felt too...exposed.
Xena accepts this pensively.
Sleep now, Gabrielle. I'll keep you safe.
Gabrielle closes her eyes.
Xena's remain open, her troubled expression staring at the heavens.
EXT. CAMPFIRE IN CHIN - DAY.
Gabrielle's eyes open, dark circles painting haunted shadows under them. She gets up, and smiles to her soulmate.
You still look tired.
I am. But I don't want to waste any time with
Gabrielle, I'll always be here. We have the rest
of our lives--
Gabrielle pins her with a look.
That's a poor choice of words, Xena.
Xena is at a loss for any others.
I'm going to clean up camp.
Gabrielle gets her stuff together until she comes to the URN holding XENA'S ASHES. Gabrielle sits down, and just looks at it. Xena comes up behind her, and puts her hands on her shoulders.
Do you still dream about--?
Gabrielle just nods, emotions simmering just beneath the veil of her composure.
Finding you like that...
I always thought that coming around the corner
of that hut...and seeing you holding Solon's body
would always be the worst moment of my life.
I was wrong...
Xena wraps her arms around
her, trying to offer some comfort.
EXT. JAPAN - YAMADA FAMILY GRAVE - DAY.
An overcast sky reflects Takeshi's somber heart as he performs a ritual over Miyuki's grave. He struggles with his emotions.
Miyuki...even in death I will always be true to
He looks up.
Father...there is one ghost left for the Harukata
to kill. May your spirit guide my sword. On my
life, I will not fail.
He gets up, and starts to walks away. He turns back to Miyuki's grave.
Maybe...in the next life, you will choose me...
He nods to himself, and continues
on his quest.
EXT. CHINA - DAY.
Gabrielle and Xena are walking along quietly. Gabrielle takes Xena's hand, and smiles up at her. Xena smiles back, relieved at the release in the tension between them.
THUNDER RUMBLES, and Xena looks over her shoulder.
That will slow things down.
That's all right. I'm not in a hurry.
The first drops of rain paint
dark circles on a nearby rock.
INT. SHRINE/SHELTER - DAY.
Gabrielle is making a small fire to warm the interior of the shrine she found for shelter. RAIN pours outside, and just the sound of it is enough to give her chills.
With the storm, it's hard to tell what time of
the day it is. You were always so good at that.
Xena is looking out the window.
It will be sunset soon.
Gabrielle pokes at the fire.
Gabrielle doesn't meet Xena's gaze, but instead focuses on the fire.
When you disappear at night...do you go to her?
Xena pauses, and puts her head down.
No. I...I don't go anywhere. It feels like a
Xena walks over, and cups her cheek.
I don't love her, Gabrielle.
Jealousy is not my best attribute.
You weren't saying that when it almost got you
Gabrielle stares into the fire.
I was jealous of Lao Ma...I was angry with you,
Xena. That's why I went to Chin-that's why I
betrayed you. It wasn't for the greater good.
How did you ever forgive me that?
It was easier than you think, Gabrielle.
Xena looks up at the ceiling, and her expression brightens. She tugs on Gabrielle's arm.
Gabrielle, lie down.
No, Xena, we only have a little time left. I
don't want to--
Gabrielle follows the trail of Xena's finger to the ceiling. The firelight is reflecting off of certain chips in the stone, creating a sparkling star field indoors.
Xena lies on the sleeping fur, and Gabrielle-smiling in wonder-lays her head on Xena's shoulder. They look up at the ceiling as Xena strokes the bard's fair hair.
Do you think that one looks like a rooster?
Gabrielle wipes her eyes.
I think it looks more like a bird.
A rooster is a bird, Gabrielle.
I mean a flying bird. And something with claws.
Something mean: like a hawk.
You don't think roosters can be mean?
Gabrielle laughs. Xena kisses the top of her head, also enjoying the playful banter.
I never told you about my mom's old rooster?
Gods, Gabrielle, from the day this thing hatched...
Gabrielle reaches over for the wineskin, and pulls the stopper.
I think I had finally coaxed that story out of
your mom when you came--
She turns back toward the fur, but Xena is gone.
Her smile fades.
She puts a hand down on the fur, to see if she feels any trace of warmth.
She lays her head down where Xena was.
Good night, Xena...
EXT. SHELTER - NIGHT.
The rain pours. The
fire lights the interior of the building.
INT. SHRINE/SHELTER - NIGHT.
Gabrielle stirs restlessly on the sleeping fur. The muscles in her arms twitch as she relives an unpleasant episode from her recent past. There are so many to choose from.
You're my whole life, Xena...
Slowly, as she dreams, the SOUNDS of the world around her have gotten softer and softer.
It is the SILENCE that awakens her this time, not the dream.
Gabrielle gets up silently,
and fingers the chakram.
EXT. SHELTER - NIGHT.
Gabrielle exits the shelter, and moves quietly through the forest. She looks around.
Okay, Gabrielle, if they have archers you just
made yourself a target. And you can't catch
them like your soulmate can.
Gabrielle spins around, and faces several CHINESE WARRIORS, dressed in heavy armor.
The lead, a CAPTAIN, comes forward.
You are a woman!
You're very observant.
Are you an evil spirit?
That's an odd question. And if I was, I don't
think I would tell you the truth, anyway.
But, no, I'm very real.
Why...why are you dressed like a warrior?
She ponders that for a few moments.
Because I am one.
The Captain looks between one of his other men.
Then it is good that we are many. You will
come with us to our lord's castle.
The men close in on her, and several more appear from the surrounding trees. Gabrielle looks around, clearly outnumbered.
Does your Lord wish to do me harm?
He only wants his daughter back.
Gabrielle is intrigued.
EXT. CHINA - LORD ZHONGHE'S CASTLE - NIGHT.
A team of horses rides toward
LORD XIAO ZHONGHE'S castle. Gabrielle is on one of the horses.
INT. CASTLE - DUNGEON - CELL.
Gabrielle is locked in a cell.
You don't understand. I'm never going to hear
the end of this.
The guards seem less than sympathetic.
Gabrielle lies down on the hard bench that doubles as a cot. No sooner does she close her eyes...
How did you end up here?
She opens one eye to see her soulmate peering at her critically.
I'm gone for one night and you end up in a
dungeon? What'd you do now?
I didn't do anything. They just found me and
brought me here.
You know, Gabrielle, I think this settles it once
and for all. You're the one that attracts trouble.
Gabrielle is about to respond when she hears the key rattling in the cell door. The guard enters the cell.
Lord Zhonghe wishes to see you.
INT. CASTLE - CORRIDOR - DAY.
Gabrielle and Xena walk down the castle's main corridor, escorted by several SOLDIERS-including the Captain from last night.
I wonder what he wants?
I was wondering the same thing myself.
Who are you talking to?
No one. I was just thinking out loud.
Hey! I'm not 'no one'.
Gabrielle just smiles.
INT. CASTLE - MAIN HALL - DAY.
The large double doors are pushed open, and Gabrielle is admitted into the main audience chamber. Xena follows behind her.
XIAO ZHONGHE, the Chinese Lord of the region, is sitting on a raised platform on the opposite end of the hall. Zhonghe is an older man, and despite his imposing armor has a gentle quality to his visage. He seems one inclined to think instead of act.
Gabrielle is brought before him, and bows slightly to show respect.
My apologies, young lady, for your imprisonment.
I'm willing to forgive-if that was the extent of
Zhonghe smiles, and nods.
My Lord, your men asked me if I was spirit. May
I ask what is going on?
My daughter was kidnapped by Japanese soldiers.
We found one of them-he claimed that they were
following a ghost's orders. A ghost with white
They found you, saw your armor, and the hair...
Tell me about your daughter.
She came to us years ago--
She was orphaned when her ship wrecked on our
shore. She was from Japan, but I raised her as
if she were my own.
I do not think she was of noble blood. I know
of no reason why anyone would take her.
Has there been a ransom?
Zhonghe shakes his head 'no'.
She has been taken back to Japan.
What does a ghost want with your daughter?
I don't know...and I am not inclined to believe
in such tales. Although my daughter did...
Please, young lady, can you help me?
Gabrielle looks at Xena, and Xena shrugs.
Sounds good to me.
I'll help you.
Zhonghe nods, and Gabrielle
is escorted from the chamber.
INT. CASTLE - CORRIDOR - DAY.
So what do you think?
There's something he's not telling us.
He knows more about this 'ghost' than he's
So...we get ourselves into this, figure out
what's really going on, and then rely on our
wits to dig ourselves out, huh?
Gabrielle looks out the window.
Just like old times...
EXT. OCEAN - BOAT - DAY.
A ship heads away from China, and toward Japan. It is of relatively the same shape and size as the boat that took Gabrielle to Japan the first time.
Several days have passed,
and they will arrive in Japan by nightfall.
EXT. BOAT - DECK - EARLY EVENING.
Gabrielle is standing on the deck, watching the sea.
Xena comes up behind her.
You're awfully quiet today. What are you
The Captain says we'll reach Japan by nightfall.
I guess...I guess I'm not looking forward to
going back there.
Xena looks around the deck. It's pretty isolated.
Speaking of the Captain...
Doesn't this ship have a crew?
I think I scare them. After all, in their eyes I
sit on deck and talk to myself all day. They
probably think I'm possessed.
I hadn't really thought about that. We'll have to
be careful depending on where we are.
Some places are pretty touchy about that kind of
What's the worse they're going to do to me, Xena,
It's the off-handed way the remark is delivered that alarms Xena.
Are you all right?
Gabrielle looks out at the sea. It is calm, but her eyes are stormy.
Am I all right...? You keep asking me that.
You're still not sleeping, are you?
I don't need to be lectured to.
Gabrielle, it will get easier.
I'm sorry, Xena. Am I making you uncomfortable?
Am I ruining your peaceful new existence?
Maybe we should just take some time away. We
didn't have to get involved in this, Gabrielle.
We still don't.
The Land of the Pharaohs is waiting.
Any surprises waiting for me there...?
Xena may be dead, but her senses still warn her of an impending attack.
What do you mean?
It seems everywhere we go there's some perfect
love from your past-some porcelain beauty that
I can't possibly compete with.
What's it going to be this time: some cutelittle Persian slave girl?
You're still upset about Akemi...? Gabrielle, I
told you: I don't--
How can you stand there and say that to me!?
You gave up everything we had for her!
You died for her!
Gabrielle, I died for the forty thousand souls
What about my soul, Xena!?
You said I was your greater good...
Gabrielle looks down, and Xena cups her cheek.
You're such a hypocrite.
Why didn't you just let me die in that damn
Gabrielle moves away from her, and walks to the rail. The problem with being connected at the soul is that when you're angry there's really no where to go.
Because you're stronger than I am, Gabrielle.
You've always been.
She walks toward her.
When you fell into the lava pit, I almost jumped
right after you.
But you didn't. You're a survivor.
No. Ares stopped me. He...he told me that we
weren't going to the same place.
Gabrielle's expression softens.
If I jumped, I knew I'd never-ever-see you again.
Those three weeks until I got you back...taught me
that while I could live without you-I certainly
didn't want to.
And I certainly didn't want to spend eternity
without you. So I realized then and there that I
had to find some way to redeem my soul.
Gabrielle puts her arms around her.
This wasn't just about Akemi, was it?
Gabrielle looks away.
I don't want there to be anything between us,
You asked me a question once-that I never
Gabrielle swallows visibly.
You asked me what I owed Lao Ma that I would
give up what we had...
I know the answer, Xena. You...you loved her
more than you love me.
Xena's eyes show the pain she feels over the hurt she caused.
It wasn't love, Gabrielle-it was guilt.
Gabrielle looks up.
It was my own stupid guilt.
Gabrielle, I never expected to have something
good in my life-someone like you in my life. I
didn't think I deserved it.
You made me so happy. It felt like a dream, and
I always wondered when the dream would end. That's
what I expected to happen. That's what I deserved
to have happen.
The Destroyer of Nations didn't deserve peace, and
she certainly didn't deserve love.
When the message came, that's what I thought it
was. The dream was over, and I had to return to
the destiny I had created for myself when I went
And I guess I felt that-in some ways-you'd be
better off without me. Because I was trapped in
that destiny, and I didn't want to hurt you any
more than I'd already had.
I should have been at that temple...
Look at me, Gabrielle.
She takes Gabrielle's face in her hands.
No one-not Lao Ma, not Akemi-no one ever meant
as much to me as you do. No one changed my
life-saved my life-like you did.
I love you, Gabrielle. I'll love you for the rest
of your life, and when you pass from this world
I'll be there to love you through eternity.
Their eyes capture one another, and they draw closer. Their lips meet for just a moment, and then Xena vanishes in a vapor.
Mists of vapor trail from Gabrielle's mouth as she looks up at the sky.
An unwelcome VOICE attracts her attention. It is the war god.
That was touching.
Gabrielle turns to him humorously. She wipes the tears from her eyes.
What do you want?
You really laid into her. Good for you. She
deserves it. I mean, you and I never got along
all that great, but I wouldn't wish this on myworst enemy.
Of course, usually I'm somebody's worst enemy...
Still don't like me, eh? Ease up, Xena Junior,
I'm on your side.
Ares approaches the Urn that contains Xena's ashes.
I can't believe she's reduced to this-and that
you did the reducing. That musta sucked.
He studies the URN.
Ah, shoulda known she'd do something stupid like
that. Her and her never ending guilt.
Hey, Xena-can you hear me in there?
So help me, Ares!
He grins, finding himself humorous.
Relax. I'm here to help.
I noticed you haven't told Xena about your dreams:
the two of you, peace, family, et cetera.
No sense tormenting her with what might have been.
The little girl has your eyes, don'tcha think?
You're spying on my dreams now, Ares? Hoping to
see a little action with the Warrior Princess?
Since you couldn't get some while she was alive...
Gabrielle's smug comment hits its mark. His mouth curls into the smallest sneer for just a moment.
Keep that up, and I'll rescind my offer.
You haven't made an 'offer', although I should have
The life in your dreams, Gabrielle. I can give
that to you. I can give it to both of you.
Her eyes narrow.
And you would do that why? Out of the goodness
of you heart?
No. It wouldn't be free. Nothing worthwhile
There's a little...situation brewing in Rome.
After Xena tricked Caligula into committing
Saving your sister's life...
Claudius became Emperor of Rome, and he's
looking to establish himself. He's planninga campaign to conquer Britannia.
I want Xena as my general. She leads the
armies, and then she's free to go back to the
sticks and live out whatever pathetic existence
A year of her life-tops-and then she's all yours.
Providing, of course, that's what she still wants.
And that's what you're betting on, isn't it?
That a year back in the thick of it-as a warrior,
a general, a conqueror of nations-would bring
back the old Xena you knew and loved.
What's your real plan, Ares? She leads the army
back to Rome and proclaims herself Empress?
Been there, done that...
I said 'no deal', Ares. Xena's finally found
peace...and I'm not going to let anyone-or
anything-take that away from her.
Well then you can kiss that little girl good-bye.
It hurts like a knife. Gabrielle puts a hand over the tattered remains of her heart. She contains her emotions, and opens her eyes to the heavens.
So be it, Ares...
Now get the Hades out of my life.She turns to face him.
I know you're the one feeding those dreams to me.
Pray I never get the power to kill gods.
He narrows his eyes, but says nothing. He disappears in a flash.
Gabrielle collapses to the deck, letting loose emotions that come in great heaving sobs.
Another flash of light heralds the arrival of the goddess of love, APHRODITE.
Aphrodite comes over, and puts her arms around her.
Ugh! My brother is such a jerk, sometimes.
She does her best to comfort Gabrielle, and in a few moments she regains her composure. Gabrielle pulls away from her.
I'm all right.
How are you holding up? I'm sorry I haven't
visited before now.
I'll make it. Its not like she's gone totally.
I know. I don't know how she managed that.
Because she promised me.
The two of you did wonders for my following.
Gabrielle smiles. Aphrodite's expression changes into a grimace.
What is it?
Gab, I have something to confess. I'm sorry...
My brother isn't the one who's been giving you
those dreams. It was me.
She winces as if she is going to be smacked-despite the fact that she's a goddess.
I thought it would make you happy since she can't
be with you at night. Ares thought so too. He--
Oh, what a jerk he is!
That actually produces a half chuckle from Gabrielle.
I swear, Gabrielle, I'm sorry. I didn't mean...
I know. It's all right.
I promise you'll never have that dream again.
The goddess looks up.
It might be nice to have it every once in a
Aphrodite smiles, and then her mouth quivers.
You're gonna make me cry.
I guess it's my turn to apologize, huh?
Aphrodite gets up off the deck, and gives Gabrielle a hand up. Aphrodite pauses awkwardly for a second, and then points to the sky.
Do you think that looks like a castle?
Gabrielle doesn't reply, but smiles gently at the goddess of love. Aphrodite makes a face.
Strictly Warrior Princess territory, huh?
But thank you for trying.
Aphrodite nods, and gives Gabrielle a hug. She disappears in a shower of little hearts and gold dust.
Gabrielle turns her gaze toward
the distant horizon.
EXT. COAST OF JAPAN - NIGHT.
The sun is just setting as
the boat anchors near the coast. A small rowboat sets off toward the shore.
EXT. JAPAN - SHORELINE - NIGHT.
Gabrielle rows the boat onto
the shore, and pulls it onto the beach.
EXT. JAPAN - FOREST - NIGHT.
TIME HAS PASSED. Gabrielle walks through the thick foliage.
She hears the SOUND of FLIES buzzing, and her nose picks up a distasteful scent.
She moves in that direction.
EXT. JAPAN - CLEARING - NIGHT.
Gabrielle moves a large leaf aside, and it reveals a clearing littered with the bodies of a dozen Japanese soldiers.
She walks into the clearing, forcing down a touch of nausea with a hard swallow.
She surveys the carnage. The men have been butchered, some in pieces. The damage is so bad that very few of them actually resemble human corpses.
Gabrielle produces a piece of fabric she has been given. It is the torn sigil from a Japanese uniform-a single Kanji symbol in a circle.
She looks up at a fluttering half flag held upright in the grasp of one of the dead. The symbol matches the one on the sigil.
Gabrielle looks around suspiciously, her eyes surveying the forest.
She looks down, and takes
a sword from one of the dead. She secures it to her waist.
EXT. JAPAN - FOREST - NIGHT.
Gabrielle moves slowly through the forest, her eyes scanning all around her.
They shift up as she spots something dart through the trees. It's a dark shape, and it appears to be flying off into the forest ahead of her.
She stares for a moment in
disbelief, and then runs after it.
EXT. JAPAN - FOREST - NIGHT.
The leaves slap her skin as Gabrielle rushes through the forest. Her right hand is on the hilt of her sword, and her fingers flex around it as she runs.
She comes through a grouping of trees, and stops.
Kneeling on the ground, hands clasped either in prayer or meditation, is a girl in a perfectly white silk gown.
She has her back to Gabrielle, and makes no motion that she even noticed her arrival.
Gabrielle pauses for a moment, a bit transfixed by this totem of serenity in the middle of a forest at night.
And then her eye catches the shape she saw before. It has the torso of a man, but its legs blend into one shape that tapers into a tail before it fades away. It is formless, and somewhat transparent, its body seemingly comprised of smoke.
Whatever it is, it is heading right toward the girl. As it approaches, it accelerates-an action that Gabrielle interprets as an attack.
She runs toward the girl, her footfalls making very little noise.
She puts her hand on her hilt again, but waits to draw the sword. When she is almost upon the girl, she unleashes the blade. The moonlight glistens over the expertly crafted surface as she combines her draw and her stroke in a single flurry of motion.
Her blade severs the apparition in two, and with a slight SHRIEK it dissolves.
Gabrielle holds the sword in front of her in a defensive position as she scans the area.
The girl, strikingly beautiful at seventeen, cranes her neck slowly to regard Gabrielle. This is YAGAMI, Lord Zhonghe's adopted daughter.
You saved me.
You may come to regret that...
Gabrielle lowers her sword, her expression still absorbing the girl's cryptic answer.
Are you Yagami?
The girl just looks up, the answer in her eyes.
Your father sent me to find you.
I miss him.
Yagami, what happened to those soldiers?
What happened to the men who kidnapped you?
I-I don't know...
I may have killed them.
A SOUND from the trees alerts Gabrielle, distracting her from her questioning.
C'mon. Lets put some distance between us and
EXT. JAPAN - FOREST - NIGHT.
Gabrielle is walking along with the silent Yagami. Occasionally she looks around, trying to place the source of a sound.
Her expression shows that she is a bit perplexed by her young charge.
Yagami, what was that thing that attacked you?
A spirit. I did not know its name. It knows
what I am and it fears me.
What do you mean?
I am not what I appear to be. I am, but I am
also so much more.
But so are you if you have the power to fight
We have to get you back to your father.
If he has promised you a reward, I can--
No. There's no reward, Yagami. He's worried
Why would you seek me out if there is no reward?
Because it's what we--
Because it's the right thing to do. I just want
to get you back home.
No. We cannot.
I have finally accepted what I am. In two days
time, I will be reborn.
Reborn...? Reborn as what?
The eater of light...the devourer of all things.
You see, before the sun rises the day after
tomorrow...I must die.
EXT. JAPAN - FOREST - PRE-DAWN.
They are resting for a moment.
Yagami, what you told me--
Gabrielle, do you think some people are born
I-I don't know. I haven't really thought
about it. I have seen people who have done
terrible things-so much so that I have a hard
time reconciling the fact that they are even
human. But whether they are born that way,
or some terrible event triggers--
I don't know. Yagami, what makes you think you
were born evil?
I have known for many years what I was. On
more than one occasion the power that lies within
me has saved my life: when the ship I stowed away
upon wrecked, for instance.
I used to think I was immortal. I am not,
although I have the power to bestow that gift
upon another. Would that be sufficient reward
for you, Gabrielle?
You think immortality's a gift?
You make it sound like a curse.
More than you could possibly imagine.
Yagami accepts this. She looks up at the sky.
It's almost sunrise.
Gabrielle looks at the glowing horizon.
That's the first I've seen you smile.
Yagami, why don't you rest here for a bit? I
hear a stream. I'll go refill the waterskins.
The girl nods, and sits on a nearby log. Gabrielle moves off into the forest.
EXT. JAPAN - FOREST / CLEARING - PRE-DAWN.
Gabrielle stands in the clearing to await the sunrise.
She closes her eyes as the sunlight paints a warm glow on her face. A pair of arms wraps themselves around her, and she smiles. Gabrielle smiles.
Gabrielle, what would you do for me if I asked?
Anything. You know that.
Then how can I not do the same? The other half
of my soul is in pieces.
Tell Ares you'll accept his offer.
Gabrielle, if you're worried that I'll fall into
That's not it. Xena you're free. You've finally
found peace, and I love you too much to let him-or
...even me-take that away from you.
I thought about what you said about Hope, and Chin.
Gabrielle looks away.
I think Akemi was wrong. Maybe I haven't
redeemed myself at all. Maybe I've been looking
in the wrong place.
Gabrielle, I realized that the time you
needed me the most during our life together,
I wasn't there for you. I owe you this--
Xena, how can you say that? The countless time
you saved me-my life...my soul.
Gabrielle, all that's happened. I think the
person whose forgiveness I needed the most was
Gabrielle cups her cheek.
Xena, you've always had that. Just like you've
The person whose forgiveness you needed the most
Gabrielle, tell me that if you had the chance to
go back and undo--
I can tell you that, Xena.
When Caesar altered our fates, Alti's visions
triggered my memories just like they did yours.
When I stood before the Fate's loom, I remembered
everything about this world: Meridian, Hope, China,
And I chose this life, Xena. I chose to be with
you-knowing what I'd done, knowing what we'd done
to each other-than live life without you. And I'd
do it again...
Even now. I found my best friend. I found the love
of my life, and we got to spend four wonderful years
That's more than most people ever get, despite
Aphrodite's best intentions. I guess I have to
And I still have you. I hope.
Gabrielle, of course you do.
I think what scares me the most is that I don't
know if you're really here-that I may have gone
mad when I lost you and my mind is creating this
mirage to keep me together.
The worst part is: I don't really want to know
if it's true or not, because I kinda like my
She's pretty easy on the eyes...
Gabrielle, of course I'm here. I told you I'd
never leave you.
Which is exactly what my mirage would say.
Gabrielle smiles and holds out her hand, which Xena accepts.
C'mon. I found the daughter.
Good work. Looks like this one wasn't so
complicated after all.
You're getting ahead of yourself there, Warrior
EXT. JAPAN - FOREST - DAWN.
Gabrielle and Xena walk back toward where she left Yagami. The girl is sleeping across the log.
She looks normal enough.
Gabrielle just shakes her head.
You have no idea...
I guess this is as good a place to camp for a
bit as any. C'mon-I'll fill you in.
Gabrielle leads Xena O.S.
EXT. JAPAN - FOREST - DAY.
Yagami awakens, and sits up. She sees Xena and Gabrielle sitting together on the ground. Xena is behind Gabrielle, who is leaning against the warrior.
This is my soulmate.
But she's a spirit.
Yeah. No one said love was simple.
You can see me...?
Gabrielle, she can see me.
Gabrielle looks at her and smiles-realizing a question's just been answered. She takes the hand entwined with hers and kisses it.
She gets up, as does Xena.
Gabrielle said that you were more than what you
appeared to be.
Yagami, your father said the soldiers who
kidnapped you were in the service of a ghost.
A demon, I think.
What makes you say that?
Only a demon would seek to bring me here now-
a demon craving oblivion himself.
You told Gabrielle that you have to die before
sunrise tomorrow. Why?
Tomorrow at sunrise will be eighteen years to
the moment since I entered this world. I was
born with the knowledge that the true soul
inhabiting this body is the greatest of evils.This other part of myself-my true self-has lain
dormant all these years. It will awaken withthe sun.
What do you mean: the true soul?
I-Yagami-am just a caretaker. I tend the garden,
trying to be a good, loving person to my friends
and my adopted father. But I know my path, mydestiny.
I am the rebirth of Yamata-no-Orochi.
What is that?
It's from their earliest history. Yamata-no-
Orochi was an eight-headed dragon that almost
killed the first gods of their creation.
Yagami, I thought that was just a legend.
She shakes her head.
No. It's very real.
When I become what I fear I am, all of Japan
will be devoured: the people, the souls in the
underworld, even the god themselves.
Yagami, you're not chained to this destiny. No
one is born into something like that.
Why? Because it's not fair? Life is rarely
Xena and Gabrielle exchange knowing glances, accepting the truth in her words.
Besides, why else would that demon want me?
Because others may believe, and if he has you
he can use that.
You'll stay with us. We'll figure out what to
do. The question is: where do we go?
EXT. FOREST - LATE AFTERNOON.
TIME HAS PASSED. Xena and Gabrielle are walking a bit ahead of Yagami.
Boy, you sure know how to pick 'em.
So what do you think? Think she's...?
Xena make a swirling motion beside her head with her finger, and crosses her eyes.
Well, I'd hate to comment on anyone being crazy
since I only recently confirmed that I'm not.
Xena smiles, but her expression changes as she watches Gabrielle adjust something on her armor, and the clasp on her sword.
You know, sometimes I look at you, and it's hard
to reconcile the person you've become with the
girl that left Potadeia to follow after me.
Gabrielle's walk slows a little, and she looks at herself.
I hardly recognize myself some times.
I hope...I hope I didn't keep you from becoming
the person you wanted to be.
It was funny. When you introduced me to Akemi,
you told her that I was a poet. I remember
thinking to myself: That's right, I was. Whathappened to that person? I liked that person.
Xena looks at the ground.
Don't be. I realized that I'm still that person
deep down. I may have to reach a little harder
to find her, but she's still inside me.
How can you be so sure?
Because for all the trappings I have of a
warrior: the weapons, the skills that even now
still amaze me sometimes, I will never understand
fighting for the sake of fighting, or conquest
for the sake of conquest.
Ares' plan was for you to lead the Roman legions
on the Emperor's campaign to Britannia. He'she can-or to increase the size of the Empire,
going to conquer it just because he thinks
Xena smiles at that.
You know what else convinces me that the girl
from Potadeia is still in here? Because-as naïve
as it sounds-I do still expect life to be fair.
And I'm still head over heels about a certain
ex-warlord that-from the moment I laid eyes on
her-became my world.
I told you, Xena, any path is okay as long as
you're with me.
I hope that never--
Gabrielle and Xena stop moving at exactly the same time-their eyes locked on the same position.
Yagami pauses behind them, reading their reactions correctly.
What is it?
Someone's in trouble.
EXT. FOREST - LATE AFTERNOON.
Takeshi steps through the forest looking at a map.
Suddenly he stops, and looks around. There is stark SILENCE from the forest.
He slowly puts his map away.
He reaches into his robe, and produces one of his magical strips of paper. He throws it into the air...
And an arrow intercepts it-pinning it to a tree.
He looks up, in shock, and then all around him. There are twelve JAPANESE GHOST WARRIORS surrounding him. These are the same soldiers that kidnapped Yagami-the same corpses that Gabrielle found in the forest.
One of the Ghost Warriors is upon him suddenly, raising his sword. Takeshi dodges the blow, rolling off to the side.
The Ghost Warrior narrowly misses with a stab that drives the sword deep into the soil just beside Takeshi's head.
Takeshi draws the Ghost Warrior's own short sword, and stabs him with it. The Ghost Warrior DISSOLVES into a cloud of smoke, exiting this world with a roar.
Takeshi gets up, and another Ghost Warrior is there to meet him. He engages in a melee with the swords, but his statement about not being a warrior was not humility. On the second attack, his sword flies out of his hand.
Takeshi dodges the next strike, and gets in close to the Ghost Warrior. He pulls another strip from his robe, and hits it against the Ghost Warrior's forehead. The Ghost Warrior DISSOLVES.
But as the smoke clears, Takeshi is staring down another Ghost Warrior-his bow drawn and his aim focused. The Ghost Warrior releases, and Takeshi has only a breath as the arrow speeds toward him.
Only to have it snatched out of mid-flight, grasped in a strong female hand.
All right: spirit world fight! Finally something
I can participate in!
Gabrielle is at the perimeter. The chakram is in her hand.
What say we even out these odds?
She releases the chakram. It pierces the abdomen of her nearest opponent, throws off sparks as it reflects off of a (conveniently placed) rock outcropping, and vaporizes two more of the Ghost Warriors before imbedding itself into a tree.
Gabrielle shrugs apologetically.
Okay, the chakram still needs some work.
A Ghost Warrior closes with her, and she engages.
Xena is in combat with two of the Ghost Warriors at once.
Gabrielle's sword slices through the torso of her opponent, and as it vaporizes she is revealed.
The next Ghost Warrior has a scabbard, but no sword. Gabrielle holds hers up.
Looking for this?
Xena is still in combat with more opponents.
She looks as he throws her the short sword he appropriated. She catches it, and makes good use of it.
In a few moments it is over. Gabrielle has the sword held steady in a forward thrust position as a Ghost Warrior evaporates around it.
Xena looks around, and then at her hand as the short sword turns into a column of black smoke.
Gabrielle pulls the chakram from the tree, and walks over.
Those were the soldiers who kidnapped Yagami-
the ones I found dead.
They were after you. How did you know my name?
I am Harukata Takeshi.
He was my father. He described you in his final
letter to me.
I won't ask for his exact phrasing.
Why were those ghosts after you?
Their master is my enemy. And yours as well,
although I thought you long ago safely out of
Who is this enemy?
Yagami steps forward.
The demon with white hair.
Gabrielle and Xena look between
the two of them. Takeshi nods.
EXT. CAMP FIRE - FOREST - EARLY EVENING.
Yagami watches with fierce interest at a cocoon on the side of a tree. A tremor cycles through the shell of the cocoon, and a crack appears down the center. A pair of colorful wings burst from the shell, flexing twice to test this new appendage. Yagami observes the sight with haunted eyes.
The sun hangs low in the sky, and Gabrielle takes notice of that over her shoulder. When she returns her attention to the camp fire, a small frown is visible. Xena notices this as well.
Takeshi, what is this thing? Why is it my
It is called Ankoku-gaijin. It means 'man of
Is it a ghost?
It is a ghost, but it did not die. It surrendered
its mortality, and in doing so has become a shadow-
a creature that walks between the land of the living
and the dead.
They are drawn into his story.
Ankoku-gaijin loved a beautiful girl named Haruka.
She lived in Higuchi...
Xena's eyes narrow slightly.
Haruka kept her love a secret from her father
because she was betrothed to another. But she
finally decided to defy her father and marry
Ankoku-gaijin, for in this person she had
found the other half of her soul.
Before they could run away, a fire swept through
Gabrielle takes Xena's hand.
Haruka was one of them.
So it wants revenge for her death...
No. Ankoku-gaijin gave up its life and became a
servant of Lord Yodoshi. In exchange for feeding
Yodoshi's appetite for souls, it was allowed to
see its beloved Haruka every year on the
anniversary of her death.
When Yodoshi was destroyed, Haruka was released...
Ankoku-gaijin went mad-realizing that because
of the path it chose, it would not walk with the
gentle Haruka in the afterlife.
Gabrielle steals a quick glance at Xena.
Now it wants to exact revenge upon those who
stole away it beloved. It will be after you,
If Harukata was your father, it may try to
take revenge on you, too.
He is quiet for a moment, and then looks up at her.
It already has...
His gaze shifts away. Xena doesn't push it.
It seeks to do much more than that, priest. The
demon's goals, I'm afraid, are much more ambitious:
It seeks the end of all things...
Takeshi listens, fascinated.
And I am the key. It means to release the evil
I have accepted my fate. Gabrielle, you have
been so kind to me, but I have one more favor to
ask of you. When this is over, could you please
return to China and tell my Father--
Yagami, We're not going to kill you. If what
you say is true, then there's got to be some
way out of this.
Give us some time. We'll figure it out.
Yagami looks toward the sun.
Time we do not have, Xena.
Gabrielle glances toward the sun.
I'm going to go check the perimeter. Takeshi,
stay with Yagami.
Takeshi nods. Gabrielle
walks though the trees, and Xena follows her.
EXT. FOREST - EARLY EVENING.
Gabrielle and Xena walk off alone.
Xena, what do I do if she's right? What if I
have to kill her? I don't know if I can do that.
I-I don't know, Gabrielle.
She's an innocent girl. She doesn't deserve this.
I wish I had an answer for you.
I know you'll do the right thing when the time
That's a huge help.
I'm going to miss you.
Even if you are no help.
Xena looks at the setting sun half hidden behind the mountain.
We're going to go live somewhere flat. I'd get
an extra half-candlemark with you everyday.
The sun is almost gone.
Just a little longer...
Gabrielle takes Xena's face in her hands, and looks into her eyes.
I'll love you forever.
There was a time when I thought we'd have that.
Xena gazes at her intensely.
She disappears. Gabrielle's
EXT. CAMP FIRE - FOREST - NIGHT.
Gabrielle approaches the campfire, and overhears Yagami and Takeshi.
I think that looks like a tiger.
Yes, very possibly a tiger.
Gabrielle realizes they are gazing at the stars, and her hand stiffens around a tree.
She looks up at the stars.
What do you think that one is?
EXT. CAMP FIRE - OUTSIDE OF THEBES - NIGHT.
FLASHBACK. Xena and Gabrielle are lying together near the fire, gazing up at the stars.
A llama. Its--
I know what it is, Xena, I just can't fathom how
you could possibly get a llama out of that.
Whaddayou think it is?
I think it looks like a wing-like on the Helmet
Speaking of: I wanted to tell you...you looked
beautiful at King Thois's coronation.
Gabrielle's face lights up.
Yeah, when you walked in wearing that green
dress I was the envy of everyone in the room-
including the King.
Aren't you in a good mood tonight?
Yeah...I am. Something wrong with that?
Not a thing...
Xena reaches for a basket of food, and shares it.
What happened to that blue dress with the
gold trim? I thought you were going to wear
I changed my mind.
No, I bought it. I'm saving it for a special
Yeah? Like what?
I'm going to be married in that dress.
Xena nearly chokes on her food, and forces it down the right pipe.
When are you getting married again!?
Gabrielle smiles, still looking at the stars. She knows she would never have the courage to say this if they were face to face.
When you ask me...
The Warrior Princess is stunned speechless. Gabrielle doesn't need to see the expression to know that it's priceless.
Gabrielle laughs, letting Xena off the hook.
Relax, Xena. Here, drink somethi--
She reaches over for the wineskin when a hand on her shoulder stops her.
Xena pulls Gabrielle back onto the sleeping fur, and perches herself on top of her.
You surprised me, that's all...
Gabrielle is still chuckling.
You're laughing. What if I call your bluff?
Gabrielle's demeanor becomes serious.
What if I'm not bluffing...?
That's all right too.
Xena leans down, and kisses
EXT. CAMP FIRE - FOREST - NIGHT.
Gabrielle looks up, her eyes glistening with the light of the fire. She looks up at the stars.
What were we waiting for...?
Gabrielle regains her composure, and walks into the camp.
Where is your friend?
Xena? She disappears at sunset.
She is a spirit...
I saw you fighting the spirits before. Was
your father a ghost killer?
No. My father was a sheep herder. Along
with the rest of my village.
You have the Sight-the same gift my father had.
I'm sure it runs in your bloodline. You will
need it to defeat Ankoku-gaijin.
For now, I have to keep Yagami out of its grasp
while I figure out what to do.
Gabrielle glances in the girl's direction. She is sitting on a rock, peacefully writing on a scroll with quick fluid strokes.
Gabrielle walks over to her, and Yagami looks up.
Here...I wrote you a poem.
She hands Gabrielle a small scroll.
Thank you, Yagami.
Don't be troubled, Gabrielle. I won't burden
you with my death. When the time comes, I'll
do what has to be done.
Why don't you believe me?
I don't want to believe you.
I don't believe in dilemmas that have no
But aren't you living one?
That finds it mark.
I can see in your heart: how much it hurts you-
this half-lie you call a life.
Neither of us deserves our fates...
On the other side of the campfire, Takeshi lies beside the fire, and closes his eyes.
Gabrielle stares deeply into the girl's beautiful, haunted eyes.
Yagami, I'm not going to let anything happen to
Yagami smiles-but her expression is hard to read. That smile wears many masks. She stands, and walks around, spotting Xena's URN.
Your ghost: you love her very much, don't
Gabrielle nods. Yagami looks shyly over one shoulder.
Do you think...?
Do you think you could ever love another?
Gabrielle smiles gently to soften her words.
Yagami face remains impassive, but she nods to herself ever so slightly. She goes to pick up the URN, and then stops.
Gabrielle nods again. Yagami picks up the URN gingerly, and looks down at it.
A moment of respectful silence passes, and then she hears the slight rustling of leaves.
Yagami looks down, and sees that the hem of her robe is shattering into hundreds and hundreds of FLOWER PETALS. The petals, a slight luminescence to them, are blowing away in the wind.
She is blowing away in the wind.
Gabrielle looks over at her, and then at the ground. Her eyes go wide as she sees Yagami literally dissolving before her.
Yagami looks down at herself, and realization dawns on her.
To think...all this time I was an illusion...!
Yagami, give me the urn!
I cannot. The demon has it now. I'm sorry...
Gabrielle grabs her arms, and they break apart into flower petals under her grip. She jerks her hands away reflexively.
I see the beauty of it...! What better way to
hide me from you than for you to believe you'd
already found me?
And what better way to keep me captive than
for me to believe I was free...?
The petals are carried along a breeze deep into the forest. Yagami is just a torso now, her form disintegrating into flower petals
The URN breaks into black petals, and Gabrielle clutches at them. They slip through her fingers.
Gabrielle, use what I gave you! It will save
It will give you the power to kill me,
Gabrielle-the power to kill an immortal...the power to kill the dragon.
The power to kill gods...
Yagami, I'm going to save you! I'm going to
find a way!
Yagami smiles, but a tear cascades down her cheek.
I envy you, Gabrielle. I wish I could have
Yagami's eyes close, and her head tilts back as the last of her disintegrates.
Gabrielle looks after the trail of flower petals flowing like a current on the wind. They are going deeper into the forest.
We can follow them!
Takeshi looks in that direction, and his eyes narrow.
I think I know where he's taken her!
He swallows visibly, fear in his eyes.
Gabrielle goes to the camp, and picks up the scroll Yagami gave her. She opens it, and looks at the string of Kanji characters.
Takeshi, I can't read--
The scroll glows, and she closes her eyes as streams of golden light penetrate from her very pores.
She opens her eyes-the warm hue of the transformation still visible on her skin as it slowly fades.
The SOUND of hooves shakes the ground like thunder. They look in the direction the flower petals went, and just under a dozen GHOST WARRIORS on horseback come over the ridge.
Gabrielle pushes Takeshi down as a series of arrows imbed themselves into a tree behind them.
Don't rely on me to catch those-that's strictly
Takeshi nods. Gabrielle gets up, and sees a rider charging her, brandishing a pole-arm with a long bladed end.
In a single motion she draws her sais, sidesteps the pole-arm and catches the it wooden pole in the hooks of her weapons. She shoves down, pushing the pole-arm into the ground-a maneuver she'd seen Xena do many times.
The Ghost Warrior, the pole arm tucked against his mid section, is thrown back by its sudden cessation of forward motion.
Gabrielle retrieves the weapon from the ground. She blocks a sword stroke, letting the blade decapitate the barbed metal end of her tool. She is left with a fully functioning staff.
She swings her new staff around in a savage arc, dismounting one of the Ghost Warriors.
She runs, planting the staff into the ground and vaulting up to meet another Ghost Warrior with both feet. Gabrielle supplants him in the saddle.
She offers an arm to Takeshi, and he grabs it. She pulls him up, using her muscular legs to keep hold of the saddle, and they speed away.
They race through the forest,
arrows rushing past them or slamming into trees with a dull thud as they escape
EXT. FOREST - NIGHT.
They speed through the forest.
You said you know where she is!
We're approaching the mountain range. The
locals call the mountains Ryu-no-Haka-ishi:
'The Dragon's Tombstone.'
Legend has that when Susano killed Yamata-
no-Orochi the first time, the mountains formed
from its remains. What better place for its
EXT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - TOWER - NIGHT.
A spire of rock rises from the jagged mountains to form a rather smooth tower. Light shines from a window near the top.
Gabrielle and Takeshi crest the ridge before the mountains begin. Ahead of them, across a long expanse of exposed grasslands, is another ridge that overlooks the tower's cavernous entrance.
Rimmed along the opposite ridge are ONE HUNDRED GHOST WARRIORS awaiting their arrival.
Takeshi's eyes go wide. Gabrielle doesn't stop.
EXT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - VALLEY - NIGHT.
Gabrielle speeds the horse across the flatland.
The Archers take aim.
There's too many of them!
I won't lose her again...!
The Archers release their arrows at the command to fire. The arrows streak into the sky.
Gabrielle spurs the horse faster, ready to meet them. Takeshi stares at the sky as the arrows form a black rain that comes toward them.
The arrows arc, and begin their downward descent toward their target.
Gabrielle looks her death in the eye, and does not blink.
Takeshi looks down, distracted by a golden light shining on his face. Through the silk and armor covering Gabrielle's back, tiny pinpoints of light are pilfering through. Takeshi is stunned as the phenomenon spreads.
Gabrielle is enveloped in a GOLDEN GLOW that captures the horse as well.
Gabrielle slaps the reins of the horse. The ground, rocks, and grass streak into a blur.
The arrows, their aim true when released by their masters, pummel the earth in rapid succession as they fall behind a target now moving faster than possible.
Gabrielle throws the Chakram at a Ghost Warrior almost directly in front of her. It flies right through him, and he dissolves into a dark cloud. The Chakram hits a rock directly behind him and reflects back right at her. She plucks it from the air perilously close to her neck, but she appears unfazed.
She engages the next Ghost Warrior. He thrusts at her with his sword. She uses the Chakram to catch the blade inside if its circumference and divert it away from her. With a motion of her wrist, the blade is broken in half. She slashes at him with the Chakram, and he vaporizes.
She draws her sword, and meets
the next one.
EXT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - CAVERN ENTRANCE - NIGHT.
The large cavern entrance is lit from within. The interior brightens for a moment, and then a long shadow appears in the cave. A dark clad figure, silhouetted against the light of the cavern, emerges from the entrance.
The God of War has arrived. He surveys the battle with a bored indifference. His real emotions-if any-remain a mystery.
He watches Gabrielle dispatch another Ghost Warrior.
One of the Ghost Warriors notices him, and several of them move toward him menacingly. Ares looks over his shoulder-more annoyed than anything else.
He flexes a muscle in his arm, and a shock wave is released with him as the epicenter. The Ghost Warriors are ripped apart before they dissipate into smoke.
Gabrielle, if those ashes are spilled...you'll
never see Xena again.
Gabrielle sends another Ghost Warrior back to the Underworld. She steals a glance in Ares direction, but that's all.
She eyes up another Ghost Warrior, judges the angles, and lets the Chakram fly.
My offer still stands, Gabrielle...but the
price will go up when you're desperate.
Behind him, the Chakram throws sparks as it reflects off of the cavern wall. He doesn't even notice it. Why should he? He's a god.
He flinches as the Chakram grazes the side of his head. He puts his hand to his forehead, and looks at the blood on his fingers. He glares at Gabrielle.
She catches the Chakram with a slip of a grin.
I said no deal!!
She maneuvers the horse toward
the entrance. Ares disappears just as her horse gallops through the space
he occupied only moments ago.
INT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - CORRIDORS - NIGHT.
Gabrielle and Takeshi are running through corridors dug out of the mountain, reflecting the urgency of the moment.
Gabrielle comes to an intersection. She ponders for just a second, and then chooses left.
How do you know where you're going?
I just do!
She offers no other explanation.
He follows her up the sloping cavern floor.
INT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - TOWER -NIGHT.
Gabrielle and Takeshi enter a large round chamber.
They stop, looking down. A SPIRAL STAIRCASE is carved out of the stone, circling the inside of the chamber. The chamber continues down the length of the tower, the ambient light of the chamber swallowed by its depths.
Gabrielle looks up. Takeshi moves to start up the steps.
No. I want you to find Yagami.
We have to find her! I'll handle this.
She starts up the stairs. Takeshi heads off in the other direction.
Gabrielle goes up the stairs as quickly as caution allows, watching the ceiling that she cannot see.
Her eyes widen as a sword blade penetrates the wall right in front of her. A transparent Ghost Warrior bursts out of the solid wall, swinging at her.
She sidesteps the strike, and reaches for her blade. She gets it half-drawn when the second strike comes, and manages to parry. The Ghost Warrior kicks her, sending her tumbling backward down the narrow staircase.
The Ghost Warrior thrusts the sword down to stab at her. Gabrielle brings her right hand across, and slaps the side of the blade off course. It digs into the stone just to the left of her face.
She puts a boot against the Ghost Warrior's chest, and with the other foot pushes on the sai strapped there. It impales the Warrior.
Gabrielle braces against the steps with her arms, and she uses her legs to lift the Warrior up and throw his body off the staircase.
She gets to her feet, sheathing her half-exposed blade with a SHINK!
She continues up the stairs.
INT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - TOWER SUMMIT - NIGHT.
Gabrielle steps cautiously up the last few steps into a large circular chamber.
The room is large, with an intricate pattern on the floor. The chamber is dark, with pools of light coming from a source unknown on the ceiling.
Gabrielle looks across the room, and sees Xena's URN sitting on a SHRINE.
She instinctively starts in that direction, and then stops. She scans the room for opposition, and then heads toward the Urn, fingers wrapped around the hilt of her blade-ready to draw it on a backhand stroke.
From the ceiling behind her, Ankoku-gaijin materializes. The wind is flapping through its garments, and its pale white arms are raised in attack as it drops toward Gabrielle.
Gabrielle's eyes slide sideways. Her muscles flex, and her fingers tighten around the hilt as she draws her sword.
Ankoku-gaijin begins the forward motion of its strike. In a blur of steel, Gabrielle flips the blade around her hand, changes her grip, and bends her arm to add support to the dull edge of her sword as she lays it across her back.
Ankoku-gaijin's blade is stopped against hers. With a scraping of metal, Gabrielle brings the sword around as she rolls out of striking range. She comes up with the blade ready, poised to face the demon.
Ankoku-gaijin's head twitches as it readies itself. Its face is impassive.
They stand off for just a moment, a heartbeat, and then attack. They pass, blades swinging graceful arcs through the air. They regroup-ready to face each other again when Gabrielle's sleeve tears open. A crimson line burns across her pale skin. Ankoku-gaijin has drawn first blood.
The demon goes on the offensive, launching a series of savage strikes in quick succession. Gabrielle parries, but is unable to find an opening to counterattack.
The demon brings the sword around in a strike aimed to decapitate her. Gabrielle puts her left forearm up to absorb the strike.
The sword stops, striking metal. Ankoku-gaijin is stunned. Gabrielle takes advantage of the opening and punches the demon in the face with her right hand. As it staggers back, she brings the sword around and slashes across its midsection.
Gabrielle flips her arm into view: her sai is tucked into her sleeve by its hooks. With a grin, she flips it up into her palm, and places it back into her boot. Ankoku-gaijin has a gash across the front of its tunic.
The features on the demon's face are pulled into an image of simmering anger. It raises the sword in both hands in an attack pose, and strikes. Again Gabrielle proves a match for the creature, matching blow for blow.
Ankoku-gaijin blocks one of Gabrielle's forward counterstrikes, holding the blade horizontally to absorb the downward motion.
The demon leaps into the air, its sword raised behind its head. Its entire torso is unguarded, and Gabrielle positions her sword in a thrust position to take advantage of the opening.
She pushes the blade up, and its motion is stopped. The blade is deflected off to the side with a sound like it impacted GLASS. Her eyes go wide.
She senses motion behind her, and looks over her shoulder. Somehow, Ankoku-gaijin is behind her, sword raised in the exact same position. Somehow, the very tangible creature she just exchanged sword strikes with is a reflection.
Reflexes honed from years of fighting save her life. She ducks, hearing the blade as it rushes past her ear. Ankoku-gaijin's sword penetrates the barrier Gabrielle's sword had struck, and it shatters like glass. The sound is deafening.
Gabrielle is off balance, trying to get to her feet. The demon lands a powerful side-kick in her midsection, sending her sprawling across the floor.
It comes at her again, striking at the ground. Gabrielle rolls away from him, but is at a disadvantage. She can't roll forever, and she's strictly on the defensive.
She takes a chance, and when the demon is at the apex of his next swing, she stops. It brings the sword down, and Gabrielle catches it in the hooks of a sai. She slashes out with the other hand, the sword just inches from the floor, aiming for the demon's legs.
It jumps back, its sword arm stretching it out of balance. Gabrielle braces her arm against the ground, and launches a kick at the demon.
It buys her enough time to get to her feet. They face off again, swords raised.
Ankoku-gaijin...I know why you're doing this,
but you're wrong!
The demon stops, the words registering more visibly in the slight pause of its movements than from any motion of its impassive face.
You think Xena took Haruka away from you, but
she didn't. All of the dead of Higuchi have
Haruka is free!
Ankoku-gaijin's face slowly contorts into an angry mask, and its arm shakes with its fury.
With a ROAR that is not emitted from its mouth, Ankoku-gaijin attacks Gabrielle. The demon swings wildly, savagely.
Gabrielle parries, wrapping her strikes in graceful arcs around her person. But she is driven back by the ferocity of the relentless barrage.
Tired of defending, she plants her back foot, and thrusts the sword to stab straight at Ankoku-gaijin.
The demon leaps backward, performing a somersault in midair. Gabrielle closes the distance to intercept where it will land, and begins her strike accordingly.
Ankoku-gaijin lands in a crouch, sword raised to meet Gabrielle's. The blades clash.
The demon's eyes narrow, and strands of its hair snake forward and wrap themselves around Gabrielle's neck. She struggles to breathe, and maintain the hold on her sword as it holds against the demons.
Gabrielle's air is running short. She uses all of her reserves to force her own blade against Ankoku-gaijin's. She arcs her slowly around, until it pulls taut against the hairs snaking between them. Just a little more...
The hairs are severed, but the demon uses her strength against her. It shifts its course, forcing Gabrielle's blade to continue along in its arc. The demon's blade escorts it along its path, and in a fluid motion of its wrist Ankoku-gaijin's sword circles Gabrielle's and sends it flying.
Her sword spins in the air, and the blade sticks into the floor when it lands.
Gabrielle withdraws as she pulls the demon's hair from around her neck. It strikes at her, but Gabrielle sidesteps the blow, and gets inside the range of its sword. She throws a punch from down below her hip-accentuated with the hilt-end of the sai held in her hand.
Ankoku-gaijin's head snaps back and it takes a blind strike at her with its sword. Gabrielle flips the sai around in her palm, and catches the sword. She forces it down toward the ground.
Ankoku-gaijin steps its one leg over the sword, and brings the other around to connect brutally with Gabrielle's jaw. It kicks her on the other side of her face with the same leg.
Its head turns backwards so that Gabrielle faces the odd illusion of looking at its back and its face at the same time.
Strapped to its back, however, is the shorter of the two swords of the set. The demon readies to come across again.
Gabrielle abandons her hold on the sai, and leaps forward. She jumps around the demon, unsheathing its short sword as she does.
Its head spins right ways as Gabrielle tumbles in front of it. Ankoku-gaijin arcs its sword down toward her.
Gabrielle leaps backward, her sword slashing upward as she flips over the demon's strike. She lands in a crouch to absorb the impact.
The demon staggers back, a thin line bisecting its face and body. The line becomes a seam that splits apart.
Ankoku-gaijin's very form opens and separates, falling away in folds like heavy cloth...
To reveal a Japanese Woman beneath. She has strong cheek bones, and is very pretty. Her hair is shoulder length, and eyes have a haunted look that hints of the beauty they once possessed...and beheld.
Her name is KEIKO. Gabrielle looks in wonder at this person suddenly revealed.
Who are you...?
I am Keiko.
You were Haruka's beloved!
She was my soulmate.
Ankoku-gaijin...was a mask. I put on that
mask so that my soul would not have to see the
terrible things I was doing to be with her.
You can't hide from that.
I had no choice. I-I cannot live without her.
You're not living now...
Keiko looks away, her face a mixture of emotions.
Mibojin was the one mask I could not bear.
Gabrielle recognizes the term.
What does that mean?
Keiko looks up at her with sorrow in her eyes.
Gabrielle swallows visibly, holding back her emotions.
Keiko, I too am mibojin. Xena was my soulmate.
Keiko's eyes flash angrily.
She took Haruka away from me!
No! It was an accident! She was attacked.
She was hurting the same as you were.
I will feed her soul to Yamata-no-Orochi
Keiko, you and I are the same! How can you go
through what you have-suffered as you have-and
wish that upon anyone?
Not anyone. Her!
You would take away my love from me-the way
it's been taken from you?
Gabrielle pauses, and states matter-of-factly:
Then I'll destroy you...
So be it!
Keiko gathers up the folds of her façade at her feet, and throws her hands upward. The fabric of Ankoku-gaijin forms around her, and the contours of its shape solidifies. The demon is whole again.
Ankoku-gaijin comes at Gabrielle, and engages in hand to hand combat. Gabrielle sidesteps a punch, and gets inside.
She grabs the side of the demon's face, and pulls. It tears away like a mask, leaving KEIKO dressed in the demon's red and blue tunic.
I won't let you hide anymore from what you're
If you're going to destroy her soul-and mine in
process-you're going to face me while you do it!
Keiko steps back, looking at her hands, her clothes. She looks deep into the well of her own soul, and is shattered by what she finds there.
Keiko drops to her knees, looking at the floor.
What have I done?
Haruka...can you ever forgive me...?
Keiko begins to sob. Gabrielle is moved by Keiko's despair, but she has no words to offer the woman.
Gabrielle's eyes go to Xena's URN-which appears unharmed. She turns, and spies a glance out the window. The mountains on the horizon are glowing with the first hint of the coming dawn.
Gabrielle runs over to her sword, and pulls it from the floor.
A brilliant GOLDEN LIGHT shines,
and she raises her arm to shield her eyes.
INT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - TOWER SUMMIT - AURA OF THE GODS.
She looks around her, suddenly encircled by a pantheon of JAPANESE GODS. Four are of name: AMATERASU, the sun goddess, SENGEN-SAMA, the goddess of Mount Fuji, SUSA-NO-WO, god of storms, and TSUKI-YOMI, god of the moon.
The gods literally glow with their power, surrounding Gabrielle with their golden aura.
Gabrielle, you must hurry...
Use your sword. Destroy Yamata-no-Orochi!
Gabrielle sheathes her sword.
You're gods. Why don't you do it yourselves?
Sengen-sama looks around at the others before speaking.
We are afraid...
We are afraid of the power within her. Itprotects her-protects what she will become.
So it's true...?
Yes! The dragon must be destroyed!
But she's not a dragon-she's a person! You're
passing a sentence on what your legends say she
She-Yagami-is innocent. She has done nothing!
You have a good heart, Gabrielle. But Yagami
How can you--
Gabrielle, how many innocents will die if
Yamata-no-Orochi is reborn? How many other
girls just like Yagami? Ask yourselfthat?
Is it fair that Yagami should be sacrificed
so that others may live? Perhaps not.
But sometimes, Gabrielle, life is not fair...
Gabrielle narrows an eye at her.
So tell me, is it the gods who make it that
way? Or is their some greater power that
controls even your destinies?
They treat it as a rhetorical statement. Gabrielle surveys the faces of the others, and then nods.
All right, I'll do it...
Their faces register their satisfaction.
...on one condition.
Yes. Free Xena.
Absolve her soul for the forty thousand dead
You're gods. You can do whatever you want!
And you're running out of time.
Gabrielle, those deaths must be avenged--
Then no deal!
You would let the dragon loose? What about--
I don't care! I owe you nothing. Xena paid
her debt, and it still wasn't enough.
You want something from me, then I'm calling
in the favor. Free my soulmate, or I grabXena's urn and ride for the coast as fast as
You leave us little choice...
True, but it's better than the one you've left
me: to kill Yagami for the greater good.
You talk of the 'greater good', and yet you would
put Xena's soul above so many others?
You said it yourself: sometimes life isn't fair.
It's a standoff. Amaterasu looks at Gabrielle, and sees in her face a formidable opponent.
The goddess blinks, and nods to Gabrielle.
I am not satisfied! Who will avenge the dead?
They turn to see Keiko walking into the circle of gods. Her hands are clasped together in side of her sleeves. Ankoku-gaijin's large robes fall gracefully around her, leaving a train behind her.
I have done such evil deeds. Xena's actions
were ripples-reactions to the deeds of others.I see that now. I chose my path...
I chose to become a demon.
She addresses the gods.
By serving in her place, maybe-someday-I will
walk alongside my beloved Haruka again...
She looks at Gabrielle, who nods.
A RUMBLE shakes the tower, and Gabrielle adjusts her balance.
The gods look up, fear on their faces.
It's too late!
No! You keep your promise-I'll keep mine!
INT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - TOWER SUMMIT - PRE-DAWN.
The floor shakes violently, and the gods disappear. Ankoku-gaijin's robes lie crumpled on the floor, but there is no trace of Keiko.
Gabrielle acknowledges this in silence, and then looks to the other side of the room.
A ROAR echoes through the room, and though the floor erupts EIGHT DRAGON HEADS on the end of long serpentine necks that go through the floor. The heads glow like the gods themselves did: every contour of their features, every line of their scales a glowing ribbon of energy.
Gabrielle looks up at the newly risen YAMATA-NO-OROCHI, and she is truly in awe.
Xena-did we ever see anything like this?
The gods have freed your soul, Xena, but I don't
know if I--
She draws her sword slowly, and throws her scabbard across the room. It spins along the stone floor.
That's all right. Either way, we'll be together.
She faces Yamata-no-Orochi, raising her sword in an attack stance.
One of the dragon heads rears back, and spews fire from its mouth. It arcs across the room, creating a wall of flame.
Gabrielle looks around, and spots Ankoku-gaijin's robes. She grabs them, placing them around her. The flames cover her.
A fireball bursts through the wall of flames as it arcs into the air. A sword cuts through from the inside, and the pieces of the flaming garment fall away from Gabrielle. She tucks into a roll as she lands, and comes up on her feet.
Gabrielle charges the dragon head. A second head lunges at her with its mouth open. She jumps at the last moment, and it misses her. She lands on its snout, and uses that to propel her higher into the air.
The first dragon head breathes a thin stream of fire at her, but a moment too late. She feels the heat beneath her feet as she leaps.
Gabrielle lands on the creature's snout, and drives her sword into the beast's mouth, clamping its jaw shut.
Its eyes grow big as smoke pours out of its nostrils. Gabrielle withdraws her sword, and leaps backwards as the creature's head EXPLODES. The long neck fades, the individual strands of light growing thin and separating.
She lands on the floor in a heap, the explosion knocking her for a loop. She looks up, and her eyes widen as she scrambles out of the way. Another dragon head, DRAGON #2, slams into the space she just occupied. It turns toward her, and advances. She struggles to get to her feet.
A paper strip sails through the air, and lands on the dragon's forehead. It rears back, its eyes crossed to look at the magical glyph.
The priest has joined the battle.
I found Yagami, but I could not get to her!
Try again, Takeshi! Talk to her!
The dragon sneezes, and the magical paper shreds into pieces. It looks angrily at its new foe.
She's the key, Takeshi. Go!
Takeshi nods, and runs down the stairs. Dragon #2 watches him go, and then dives its head under the surface of the floor to follow him.
She runs over to the exposed part of the dragon's neck, coiling like a snake as it dives through the floor, and drives her sword into it.
Dragon #2 arches above the floor again and roars at her. It seems she succeeded in getting its attention.
DRAGON #3 lunges at her with its jaws open. She jumps away at the last possible second, and its jaws clamp down on the exposed neck of its brother.
Dragon #2 roars, and lunges down on the neck of Dragon #3. Gabrielle takes advantage of the moment. She jumps up and slashes-severing the head of Dragon #3.
The muscles in its jaw clamp down reflexively, and Dragon #2 roars in pain. Its neck thrashes, throwing Gabrielle across the room.
She lands sprawled across the floor, a bit dazed. She reaches for her sword in front of her...
And never sees DRAGON #4 lunging straight down at her. It clamps its jaws into her, and she screams.
It lifts her into the air, and her body spasms with pain.
She reaches for one of her sais, and attempts a feeble strike at the creature. She hits the weapon against a tooth as another spasm rocks her. The sai drops to the floor with a clank.
Gabrielle fights to remain conscious. She knows that if she does, death is waiting for her behind the beckoning comfort of sleep.
She hears voices: her memories come to remind her of oaths made a lifetime ago...
Xena...promise me that you'll never die on me
Sleep now...it will hurt less in the morning...
So tempting, that...
I love you, Xena...how am I supposed to go on
Even in death, Gabrielle, I will never leave you...
Gabrielle looks out across the room, but it seems her eyes are seeing something else.
THE SHRINE. The lid
of Xena's Urn trembles.
Her eyes flutter closed.
THE SHRINE. Xena's Urn
Even in death, Gabrielle, I will never leave you!
Gabrielle's eyes open.
The dragon bites down again, and Gabrielle's body arches in pain. She screams.
On her back, the dragon tattoo glows brightly. It erupts from her back in a flash.
Dragon #4's head explodes
with golden energy as XENA bursts through it, sword pointed upward as she spins
free of it. She is carrying Gabrielle's slumped form.
Xena lands, holding Gabrielle in her arms. Like the dragon, she is glowing, and bright golden flames are evaporating from her skin.
Gabrielle looks at her, and then at herself. She seems in relatively good health, despite what she just endured. The back of her tunic is torn again, revealing skin beneath it that is conspicuously absent of a dragon tattoo.
Gabrielle-get to Yagami! I'll hold them off!
Gabrielle spies a quick glance out the window. The sun has not risen.
Xena puts a hand to her cheek.
You needed me...
Gabrielle nods, picks up her sword, and heads toward the stairs. She steals one last look at Xena.
Her soulmate is preparing to face off against a five-headed dragon. As she stands there, three more dragon heads emerge from the floor.
Xena lets loose a battle cry,
and charges them. Gabrielle reluctantly heads down the stairs.
INT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - STAIRWELL.
Gabrielle descends the last
few stairs before the entrance.
INT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - STAIRWAY ENTRANCE / CORRIDOR.
Gabrielle exits the stairwell, and comes around the corner into the corridor.
A RUMBLE shakes the entire
tower. She looks down the corridor, and heads in that direction.
INT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - CORRIDOR
Gabrielle turns another corner, and looks down a long hallway intersected by several others.
At the end of the hallway is a 'T' INTERSECTION. From the passage that goes off to the right of the 'T', a golden light pulsates, filling that corridor.
She starts down the passage quickly.
A DISTANT ROAR causes her to slow down, her senses prickling. Her eye catches motion on the floor, and sees that very small pebbles are dancing on the stone surface. Her eyes widen.
She jumps back as a DRAGON'S form erupts from the floor, its jaws snapping shut just before it hits the ceiling.
It turns toward her and roars, almost filling the corridor. Gabrielle looks around, not having a lot of room to maneuver.
I don't know if you noticed, but I already
killed two of you...
She raises an eyebrow at it challengingly.
It accepts, lunging at her. She leaps, dodging its gaping maw, and lands on its neck just behind its head.
She raises her sword, but the creature reacts quickly, thrusting itself upward, and slamming her against the ceiling.
She winces, and the sword slips out of her hand. The dragon hits her against the stone ceiling again.
She reaches in her boot for her other sai, and reaches over the back of its neck and stabs the creature in the eye.
It shrieks, thrashing about, and throwing her clear.
Gabrielle pushes herself up from the hard stone floor. The dragon rears up menacingly, and comes down at her again.
She reaches across her waist, and rolls out of the way. As she does, she sweeps the razor sharp edge of the chakram in an arc across the bottom of the dragon's neck.
She grabs the hilt of her sword as she rolls over it, and springs to her feet. She severs the dragon's head at the neck, and the two halves of the creature fade away.
She looks down the corridor
toward her destination.
INT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - T INTERSECTION.
Gabrielle comes around the corner of the intersection and faces the source of the light.
There is a cell door just a few feet in front of her. Through the small barred window on the door is a pulsating energy that rivals the sun. Gabrielle squints as she peers at it.
She turns, and sees Takeshi pinned against the opposite wall several feet off the ground. She runs over.
She looks for a way to get him down, but he isn't being held by any visible means.
Gabrielle, it must be destroyed...
Were you able to talk to her?
She's gone. Only the dragon exists now.
It's in there...
Just hold on, Takeshi!
I'll just wait here for you...
She gives a wry smile in reply, and turns toward Yagami's cell.
Gabrielle approaches the door apprehensively, the SOUND coming from behind it like a hurricane.
She grabs the door handle,
and pulls on it.
INT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - YAGAMI'S CELL.
Gabrielle steps inside the room, and stares in rapt fascination.
Yagami is floating in the center of the room, her arms out. Originating from her body are thousands of glowing golden tendrils that fill the room as they pierce the confines of the cell, stretching out in all directions.
Yagami's eyes slowly open, but her mouth doesn't move when she speaks.
I should have known you'd come.
Gabrielle runs over to her.
It grows stronger, Gabrielle. You must strike
now! Kill this body, and you will kill the
Yagami, I can't. Its you...
Gabrielle, you know what has to be done. Please,
if I sacrifice my life now, then my soul will
pass in grace. I fear my judgement if I am the
vessel of the dragon.
Gabrielle's face shows her struggle, but she can't think of another way out.
She closes in on the girl, and wraps an arm around her back. She raises her sword.
Take me quickly...
Gabrielle closes her eyes, at war with herself.
She drops the sword.
It's too late, Gabrielle.
No, it's not! You're still in there, Yagami!
Yagami, if you gave me the power to kill the
dragon, then how can you not have that power
Gabrielle grabs her shoulders, and shakes her. There is desperation in her voice.
Yagami, are you listening to me!?
I hear you...
Good. Yagami, did I tell you about my other
power? I'm a seer. Did I tell you that,
I had a vision of you. Y-you're at home-not
your father's home-but yours. You're writing
a poem, and a little girl comes up to you.
She has a flower in her hand...
Gabrielle blinks, and two tears stream down her cheeks.
She calls you mama, Yagami. And you look across
the courtyard and see the love of your life
You have found love, Yagami! The love of someone
who shares your soul and brings you beautiful white
flowers. Someone who will be with you forever.
That was my vision.
She pauses. More tears.
See, Yagami? I told you that you would find
But you have to want it, Yagami! You have to
want to live!
She says the word as if she's tasting it.
No one is chained to a destiny, Yagami! You
can live, you can have love, but you have to
choose it. You have that power!
Do you want to live?
Yagami's lips answer this time.
Yagami, do you want to live!?
The room explodes in a burst of energy. Gabrielle is thrown back.
The glowing golden tendrils
attached to Yagami stiffen, and expand.
INT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - TOWER SUMMIT.
The Dragon heads thrash.
The light is blinding, and the ROAR of the dragon deafening.
EXT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - TOWER - PRE-DAWN.
The top of the tower EXPLODES.
The last ROAR of Yamata-no-Orochi
echoes across the jagged peaks, slowly fading away.
INT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - T INTERSECTION / YAGAMI'S CELL.
Gabrielle regains consciousness a few moments later in the corridor. She shakes her head to clear the cobwebs, and does a quick scan of her surroundings.
Yagami is lying on the floor, unconscious. Takeshi is slumped on the floor, holding a hand to his head.
Are you all right?
Gabrielle gets up, and goes into the cell. She turns Yagami over, and is pleased to see the girl is unconscious, but alive. She smiles.
Look after her.
He nods, and she gets up.
INT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - STAIRWELL.
Gabrielle enters the stairwell, and looks up. There is more ambient light than before, although the cause is not known.
She treads carefully, as some
of the stone stairs have cracks and faults running through them. Little
pebbles fall from some of the steps when she places her weight upon them.
EXT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - TOWER SUMMIT - MORNING.
Gabrielle climbs the last few steps slowly, having difficulty processing what she is seeing.
It's all gone.
Of the room where she did battle with Ankoku-gaijin, only the floor is intact. The walls and ceiling are completely blown away, and the illusion is that she is standing at the top of the sky.
The mountains and visible, along with the early morning sun.
The early morning sun. Gabrielle looks at it, and the first vestiges of panic appear.
She looks frantically around for her soulmate.
She stops cold, her eyes locked on some object. She looks stricken, seemingly unable to catch her breath.
The lid of Xena's URN rolls on edge back and forth on the floor as the morning breeze tousles it. There is a crack in it.
Gabrielle just looks.
She just stares at the lid for a moment. The wind changes direction, and the lid falls on its side.
Her eyes vacant, she walks slowly, ashes blowing past her ankles. She doesn't notice them, doesn't occur to her what they could be...
She walks to the edge of the tower, and looks out over the landscape below. She pauses for a moment, perhaps weighing the pros and cons. Perhaps thinking about life without her soulmate.
She puts a foot out over the edge, and--
It's enough to make her stop. She turns, and sees the last of the Olympians standing there.
So, if you'll excuse me, I'm about to reunite
with my soulmate.
Aphrodite, I thought you of all people--
I get it! I totally do. Like, the whole tragic
romantic ending. Normally, I'm totally into it...
But not for you. You deserve to be happy.
Gabrielle looks at her, not daring to hope.
What are you saying...?
Aphrodite steals a glance at her brother.
We can bring her back...
I owe you my godhood, and my life. We both do.
What's the catch?
The goddess of Love shoots her brother a cross look.
You're gods. You're incapable of a selfless
Granted, I don't have a lot of practice...
But when it mattered, Gabrielle. When I was
a nobody, you were still my friend.
I've never had a friend before. You've never
been, like, into the whole 'god' thing. You're
just Gabrielle. My friend, Gabrielle. You
taught me what that word meant.
I can't bear to see my only real friend hurting-
not when I can do something about it.
And besides, his life is, like, totally boring
without her. He's been moping around Olympus
ever since she died.
I have not been 'moping'...
Aphrodite raises an eyebrow at him. He frowns.
But her ashes--
Ashes. We're gods, sweet pea.
Besides, you did the hard part.
She looks to her brother.
C'mon, Ares, we'll do it together. She's equal
parts of both of us.They hold out their hands, and particles of energy begin to coalesce around their fingers.
Among the debris on the ground,
certain ashes rise up amongst the others.
EXT. FOREST OUTSIDE HIGUCHI - DAY.
The wind picks up, and leaves whip around in a circle over a certain spot of earth.
Xena's armor rises from the
EXT. RYU-NO-HAKA-ISHI - TOWER SUMMIT - DAY.
Aphrodite and Ares are in deep concentration as they use a considerable amount of their power.
The ashes converge, taking on a roughly human outline. Xena's armor appears, forming around them.
Gabrielle watches, almost afraid to believe it could be true.
A point of light appears, traveling up the swirling ashes. As it moves, flesh and bone are left in its wake.
Xena is reformed. Gently, her body lowers to the ground. Gabrielle puts her hands to her face, waiting with baited breath.
Xena stirs slightly, and begins breathing. Gabrielle's face lights up. She rushes over, kneels down, and touches Xena's face gently with a trembling hand.
She puts her head down, and breathes in her scent. Her eyes close, tears streaming from them.
Xena's eyes flutter open.
A choked sob is the only reply she is capable of. She wraps her arms around Xena, and cradles her head.
Gabrielle looks at her in disbelief, and Xena smiles. She reaches up, and wipes the tears from Gabrielle's cheek.
You still have that blue dress...?
Gabrielle laughs through fresh tears, and nods. She pulls her close.
Aphrodite beams, and looks
at her brother. Reluctantly, he nods in acquiescence, and disappears.
INT. CASTLE - MAIN HALL - DAY.
Lord Zhonghe hugs his adopted daughter, and Yagami returns the embrace.
Daughter, I've missed you so. I had almost
given up hope!
I had. But you sent the best guardian. She
brought me back, Father. In every way...
They turn to regard Gabrielle, who maintained a respectful silence for their reunion.
I owe you a debt I can never repay. Please,
stay with us, and I will see that you never
want for anything.
Thank you...but I have to be off. I'm
You never told me...where that is?
Zhonghe looks, and Gabrielle smiles as Xena comes out of the shadows.
Little town called Amphipolis.
She stands beside Gabrielle, and puts an arm around her.
Zhonghe nods, and they take
EXT. JAPAN - YAMADA FAMILY GRAVE - DAY.
The wind blows the grass like ocean surf as Takeshi walks toward one particular grave.
He sits down in front of it, and lights a small bundled pack of reeds. He says a small prayer.
After a few moments, he stands.
You will always be my first love.
He turns, and walks away.
EXT. CASTLE - COURTYARD - DAY.
Gabrielle stops, and hands Xena the chakram. Xena accepts it tentatively.
You don't want it? I mean, technically
Xena, I don't care about the chakram. I don't
care about the power to kill gods. I never
wanted any of that.
I only wanted one thing, and I got that.
You saved me, Gabrielle.
No. You saved me. You saved me the day you
left Potadeia-gave up the life you could have
had-to follow after me. And you saved me now.
Wasn't much of a life, Xena...
And whether you'll believe it or not, you saved
me in Chin...more than you'll ever realize.
Xena-how can you say that...?
Gabrielle it's true. You never understood, did
you? I could never hate you for that.
That was the only time in my life when someone
cared enough to come after me.
For the wrong reasons--
That doesn't matter. You're the only person in
my life who didn't just give up on me...
I never will.
I know. You proved that to me then. You broke
the cycle, and made me really believe that a
different destiny was possible for me.
You're the best thing in my life, Gabrielle.
You freed me from my past.
Gabrielle puts her head down, absorbing what Xena told her.
I've been thinking a lot about the years
together-everything we've been through...
everything you've been through.
Xena, I told you...
I know. And I'll always wonder what I did to
deserve that-or you, for that matter.
Gabrielle, I can't ever make up for the things
that happened to you...but I swear I'll spend
the rest of my life trying...
If you'll have me.
You know, Xena, I realized a long time ago that
it was the brain behind those blue eyes that made
you so dangerous-not your sword.
You speak...what: a dozen languages? You've
traveled to more lands than I've even heard of.
You can identify almost every species of animal
that walks the earth, and chart the stars in the
heavens as well as any navigator on the sea.
Gabrielle, what does that--?
It just amazes me. Because sometimes...you say
the dumbest things.
Gabrielle kisses her. Xena, pleased with her answer, wraps her arms around the bard.
For that moment, in a corridor
in a castle thousands of miles from the land of their birth, they find peace
and forgiveness-redemption-right where it's always been all along...
EXT. CAMP FIRE - NIGHT.
EPILOGUE. A scroll lies beside a quill and ink set. The words on the parchment are punctuated with Gabrielle's unique signature-a mark that tells its own story of the woman who began timidly telling stories about heroes and came full circle to become the protagonist of those same tales.
The author herself, dressed in her russet amazon inspired outfit, lies on her sleeping fur, staring up at the sky.
There is another sleeping fur adjoined to hers, and the Warrior Princess lies beside her soulmate. They are looking up at the sky and laughing. Xena says something, and Gabrielle rolls her eyes and shakes her head.
They stop for a moment, and look at each other spontaneously. Xena puts her arms around Gabrielle, and the Battling Bard of Potadeia tucks her head into the crook of Xena's shoulder. They look at each other for a second, and then turn their attention back to the sky.
There seems to be something in that celestial canopy that inspires a great discussion. Xena's fingers absently stroke Gabrielle's fair hair.
We're making the long trip home, but we're
in no hurry. We've got...well, as long as
we've got together in this life, and then
an eternity after that.
And while things may seem the same, the
difference is that now we know to cherishthe time we spend together. I will never
Last night I dreamed of that little girl
again-a little girl with Xena's hair and
long features and my green eyes. Is such athing even possible? I don't know.
I hope I have that dream again. You see, I
no longer fear the nights. I am free from
the ghosts of the past. We both are. We're
free to choose our own destiny now.
And I believe in dreams again...
Gabrielle smiles, rests her head against the warrior, and closes her eyes.
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