Death Mask


TEASER

Xena rides Argo, and Gabrielle walks at her side.

GABRIELLE
I don't get it. I've seen speeding arrows come
right at you, and you just you catch 'em before
they hit you. No--nobody can do that. I mean,
even when you don't see them coming, you do
it. Now, I can't figure this out.

XENA
Stop trying.

GABRIELLE
Huh?

A man wearing a silver mask gets ready with an arrow.

XENA
Stop trying to. It's not something you can think
your way through. It's your body that has to listen.

GABRIELLE
What if my body doesn't hear the arrows?

XENA
Then they've got you.

The arrow is shot at Xena and though she's ready to get it, Gabrielle stops it with her staff.

GABRIELLE
I did it!

XENA
Yes, you did. Now, get back!

GABRIELLE
Now, how did I do that?

Xena rides over to the attacker and they fight. Another man enters from behind Gabrielle and she fights him. Xena takes out the man she's fighting, and notices the mask he wears. She moves over to Gabrielle, who is still fighting.

XENA
I guess you don't need my help.

GABRIELLE
Not this time, but stay close.

Gabrielle finishes her battle. Xena moves to the Assassin.

XENA
Where'd you get this mask? Who sent you?

She puts The Pinch on him.

XENA
That pinch to the neck cuts off the blood to your
brain. If I don't relieve you, you'll be dead in thirty
seconds. Now, who gave you the mask? His
name, say it.

ASSASSIN
Cortese.

GABRIELLE
Who's Cortese?

XENA
Where is he? Where?

ASSASSIN
He's attacking the village across that ridge.

Xena sees the smoke. She releases the Pinch and then knocks out the Assassin.

XENA
Cortese.

GABRIELLE
Who is he, Xena?

XENA
The men who attacked and razed my village to
the ground wore the mask of Cortese. This
mask. I have never stopped looking for him.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena remembers the attack on Amphipolis and sees the mask on one of the attackers.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Present.

GABRIELLE
So, he's the one who made you so, you
know...aggressive?

XENA
It was fighting him that twisted me into what I
became. But now, I have him.

END OF TEASER



ACT ONE

Cortese's men attack a village.

EXTRA
Take no prisoners!

EXTRA
Kill the men!

EXTRA
Kill them all!

EXTRA
Good-bye, woman!

EXTRA
This village is ours!

EXTRA
You won't get away from me, witch!

EXTRA
Hah-hah!

Xena rides into the battle and begins to fight the warriors. Gabrielle runs in and sees a small girl in the middle of the chaos.

SERA
Leia! Where are you?!

LEIA
My dollie!

GABRIELLE
No!

Leia moves to get her doll, moving in the way of a charging horse man. Sera tries to run to her aid, but is held back. Gabrielle saves Leia and Sera fights off her captor.

SERA
Leia! Leia!

GABRIELLE
Are you okay?

SERA
Thank you! Thank you!

Gabrielle joins the fight.

EXTRA
Easy, girlie!

MALIK
Retreat! Everybody out!

EXTRA
Let's go and retreat!

The raiders clear out, as the soldiers enter.

EXTRA
We're too late, again!

EXTRA
They're into the border woods!

EXTRA
We'll never catch them!

GABRIELLE
What are you doing?! Go after them!

AESCALUS
I'd love too, believe me. But those woods mark
the border I can't cross. Nor do I even have enough
men to keep our boundaries secure. (to Xena)
You fought well.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The raiders ride along.

EXTRA
Let's go. Hurry!

TORIS
Whoa.

EXTRA
This way! Over here!

Toris looks over to the soldiers and Xena. Aescalus can be heard.

AESCALUS
It's Cortese, all right. He's always one step
ahead of us.

TORIS
Xena.

He rides off.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Toris rides up to Malik.

TORIS
Malik! Malik! Malik! Malik. I know that woman.
Take me to Cortese. I can tell him everything he
needs to know about her.

MALIK
You? Newcomers don't meet Cortese, until
they've earned the privilege. You speak to me. I
speak to Cortese.

TORIS
Her name is Xena. She's a--a warrior from Amphipolis.

MALIK
I'm sure Cortese will be grateful for the information.

Malik rides off.

EXTRA
Hey look at this lady.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cortese looks over some plans and Malik enters.

MALIK
My lord, Cortese.

CORTESE
Malik, my friend, there's no need for my right
arm to kneel before me.

MALIK
My lord, we had no time to gather the loot before
the king's soldiers arrived.

CORTESE
Why not?

MALIK
A woman. I've never seen anyone like her, with
the fighting skill and strength of-

CORTESE
Xena, the Warrior Princess, Xena. My two assassins
must have failed. Get up!

Malik stands.

MALIK
You already know of her?

CORTESE
I created her.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena and Gabrielle walk along. Gabrielle makes arrow zooming through the air sounds.

GABRIELLE
And it went zoom! And I hit it! Did you see that?

XENA
Mm-hmm.

GABRIELLE
Yeah, of course you did. Even while you were
explaining it, my whole body was listening for
that arrow. I can still feel that warrior fever just
coursing through my blood.

XENA
Do you think you could do it again?

GABRIELLE
Yeah. I think so. I mean most of the time. Well,
if you shot ten arrows at me, how many do you
think I'd miss?

XENA
Only one.

GABRIELLE
Uh, that could be a problem, huh?

They see Toris up ahead, who is masked.

GABRIELLE
What's he doing?

XENA
I don't know.

GABRIELLE
I've got a bad feeling about this.

XENA
He's one of Cortese's raiders. Alone. Still, I don't
like it. Keep back.

She walks over to him.

XENA
All right, I'm close enough.

TORIS
Then stop, unless, of course-

He takes off his mask.

TORIS
-you wanna kill your brother?

END OF ACT ONE



ACT TWO

Toris stands before them.

GABRIELLE
I thought you said your brother was killed by Cortese.

XENA
No, that was my younger brother. Gabrielle,
this is my older brother, Toris.

GABRIELLE
Huh, you're full of surprises.

XENA
Toris has some surprises of his own. That's
the mask of Cortese.

TORIS
That's right. It's the only way I can get close enough
to Cortese...to kill him.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle cooks.

GABRIELLE
It's just about ready. Of course, it's missing my
sister's seventeen secret herbs and spices.
You know? My sister and I used to argue. Yeah,
yeah, we would just go for hours without talking
to each other. Come on! This is supposed
to be touching. Uh, uh, uh, I mean, a brother
and sister who haven't seen each other for years
should have more to say to each other than just-

XENA
So, you're an assassin, now, huh?

GABRIELLE
It's a start.

TORIS
It's taken me years to find Cortese. Now that
his raiders are starting to trust me, I'm almost
close enough to kill him, which is why I want you
to stay out of this.

XENA
I can help you bring him to justice.

TORIS
He'll find justice at the end of my sword.

GABRIELLE
Wing, thigh, breast? Who wants what?

XENA
He likes drumsticks. Gabrielle, go and see if
Argo needs to be fed, would you?

GABRIELLE
Argo? He can...right, checking on Argo.

Gabrielle leaves.

XENA
I want Cortese just as much as you do. But
murder is not the answer. I learned the hard way
about justice since-

TORIS
Learned the hard way? Are you bragging? What
I saw of you when I left our village, Xena, was
not something to be proud of.

XENA
And what did you see? Someone had to step
forward. Cortese would have slaughtered us all
if we hadn't fought.

TORIS
If our people had followed me to the hills-

XENA
Cortese would've hunted us down like dogs! I had
to make a stand and I wasn't the only one who
believed that!

TORIS
That's right. Our brother believed it. Lyceus stood
by you to the end. And it was his end, remember?

XENA
I said "Fight" because it was our village. Lyceus
believed in that and I would say it again.

Gabrielle reenters.

GABRIELLE
Argo is...fed?

XENA
Gabrielle, that mother whose baby you saved
the other day...

GABRIELLE
Yeah.

XENA
Ask her to put you up for a few days. You know,
guard the village.

GABRIELLE
Huh, oh no. No, no, that's your way of saying, "It's
too dangerous to be around me right now, Gabrielle."
Well, have you ever considered that there isn't a
safe time to be around you? Now, that village
doesn't need my help, but you might and I'm
going with you. Now, if that's all, I'll just be practicing
with my staff. End of discussion. Sorry you had
to witness that, Toris.

Gabrielle leaves.

XENA
How close are you to Cortese?

TORIS
I'm new. I have to earn their trust. My leader is
his lieutenant, a butcher named Malik.

XENA
Then we'll start there. I need to look around
Malik's campsite.

TORIS
No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Too dangerous.
You don't know what these monsters do to women.

XENA
No, I'm counting on it.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
In the raiders camp, men fight.

EXTRA
Get down!

EXTRA
I'll take that bet.

Toris enters with Xena, tied with a rope around her neck and waist, hands tied behind her back.

EXTRA
Yeah! Good one!

EXTRA
Yeah.

EXTRA
Come on.

EXTRA
You guys are fighting like a couple of girls!

Malik takes the rope from Toris.

MALIK
Well, look what I've captured, boys! Cortese will
be very pleased to see my gift to him.

TORIS
This time, you have to take me to Cortese. I
brought him the warrior.

MALIK
"Have to"?! I don't have to do anything. This prize
is mine. And I will take the time that I need.

Malik throws Xena in his tent, where she lands on a bed.

TORIS
I'm the one who has to take her to Cortese.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena sits up, and performs the Breast-Dagger Launch shooting the breast dagger, unassisted, into the air. It lands in her hand. Malik can be heard from outside.

MALIK
There seems to be some confusion about who
I am and who you aren't. There are two types
of men who question me-

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Outside.

MALIK
-the dead and the dying!

EXTRA
Yeah.

MALIK
Which one do you wanna be, boy?

TORIS
I'm not questioning anything.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Inside. Xena cuts herself loose. Xena moves over to a cage with messenger pigeons. She picks up small messages on the table. Toris and Malik can be heard from outside.

TORIS
I just think Cortese should hear how I managed-

MALIK
He'll hear. He'll hear whatever I tell him. Now,
go away. The woman and I have to, uh...talk-

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Outside.

MALIK
-before she meets our master.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Inside. Xena crumples a message in her hand.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Outside.

TORIS
Very well. You're in control. (to himself) For now.

MALIK
You keep walking, boy! And if I ever see your
face again, I'll hang it over the cooking fire!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Malik enters the tent. Xena has made it look like she is tied up.

MALIK
Now, my dear, let's not waste time with, uh,
senseless pleas of mercy or, silly games. Right
to it, shall we?

XENA
Have it your way.

She knocks him out with one punch.

XENA
Right to it. I like that.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena cuts a hole in the tent and leaves.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle moves her staff, her eyes closed, listening.

TORIS
It shouldn't take this long. Where is she?

GABRIELLE
She'll be here.

TORIS
It's a stupid idea. She's outnumbered and alone.

GABRIELLE
How many warriors in that camp?

TORIS
Fifteen, maybe twenty.

GABRIELLE
She'll be here.

TORIS
What are you doing?

GABRIELLE
I'm listening with my body. See, Xena says that
you have to listen for the attack before you see
it. She's just...she's amazing. I mean, I've learned
so much about inner strength just from watching
her. When we first met, I was this little girl from
Poteidaia-

TORIS
She's doing to you what she did to our village.

GABRIELLE
Excuse me?

TORIS
She turned our simple villagers into warriors
and got them killed. She's doing the same thing
to you. She hasn't changed. I can't believe we
share blood.

GABRIELLE
If you hate here so much, then why are you
worried about her now?

TORIS
What do you mean, worried?

Xena enters.

GABRIELLE
Xena! Are you all right?! You took so long?
(to Toris) You see, now that's worry. (to Xena)
Hey! Hey, how'd it go?

XENA
It went fine.

TORIS
By the luck of the gods, you could've destroyed
everything I've worked on.

XENA
I still might. Did you know that Malik uses
messenger pigeons?

TORIS
Sure, he uses them to communicate with the
other raiding parties.

XENA
Then, why do they carry the Royal crest?

Xena pulls out a message.

TORIS
Malik must have a spy inside the king's household.

XENA
Well, if he does, he's reporting everything straight
to Cortese.

GABRIELLE
No wonder they can't catch him. You know, the
king should be told.

TORIS
He doesn't just see anybody. And the castle's
pretty well guarded.

XENA
I have my ways of getting in. (to Gabrielle) Hey.

GABRIELLE
Oh, I know. It's easier to get two in than three.
I'll just go...guard some villagers or something,
even if they're not in danger.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The castle. Aescalus enters to see Xena and Toris.

AESCALUS
What's the problem? How did you get this far?
I had guards posted.

XENA
Oh, they're lying around somewhere. I need to
talk to the king and I don't like formalities.

AESCALUS
You were in that village earlier. Tell me what
you have to say to the king and I'll see what I
can do.

XENA
I'm not that trusting.

AESCALUS
Neither am I.

TORIS
The bandit Cortese has a spy inside the castle!

AESCALUS
Come.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena and Toris are lead into another room.

AESCALUS
Your weapons.

Xena hands over her sword. Toris does the same.

AESCALUS
Wait here.

The swords are placed on a table. Aescalus leaves.

XENA
It was dangerous speaking out like that, Toris.

TORIS
It got us in here.

XENA
And what if Aescalus had been the spy?

Cortese enters and stands on a balcony, dressed in royal clothes.

CORTESE
But, Aescalus isn't the spy. The king is the spy.
Recognize me, Xena? It's been a while.

XENA
Cortese.

END OF ACT TWO



ACT THREE

Inside the castle.

CORTESE
Oh, come now. You must have something to
say after all this time and effort just to see me.

TORIS
Yes, Cortese. You're dead!

XENA
No!

Darts fire from the throne, but Xena shoves Toris to the ground.

CORTESE
That's just one of the surprises in this room.
Don't try it again! So, what do you think of my
little operation?

XENA
It's very cunning. You rule over a kingdom
threatened by raiders and your people tolerate
huge taxes, because they think it goes to the
war effort.

CORTESE
I become incredibly rich off the taxes, not to
mention, the pure fun of being able to put my
mask on, go out and slaughter a few dissident
farmers and come back to a warm bath. I'm
glad you like it.

XENA
I said it was cunning, I didn't say I liked it.

TORIS
You murdering harpie!

Toris moves forward, but Xena holds him back.

CORTESE
Careful! You're talking to the legal regent of this
land. Cortese, now he's a murdering harpie.

XENA
So, what's next? You haven't killed us, and you're
not talking just to hear the sound of your own voice.

CORTESE
The people are getting tired of my army losing.
My army is getting tired of losing.

XENA
Your army doesn't know who you are.

CORTESE
They're loyal to the king. But, they need a victory.
And, they can't have Cortese, of course. So, I'm
gonna give 'em the next best thing, his second-in-command,
the evil Warrior Princess, Xena.

He opens a trap door, but Xena and Toris grab the edges.

CORTESE
Guards!

Xena flips out of the hole, ululating and lands on the table and kicks Cortese.

EXTRA
Open the doors! Knock it down!

TORIS
I can't hold them!

XENA
Then let them in.

TORIS
What?!

XENA
Open the door.

Cortese escapes. Xena pulls the trap door closed and Toris opens the door. As the guards run up to her, she opens the trap door and they fall in. Xena gets the weapons.

XENA
Let's go!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena and Toris run out of the chamber to find more guards.

EXTRA
Halt!

TORIS
I think we can take 'em out.

XENA
No, we can't kill them. They're the good guys,
remember? That window behind them.

TORIS
How do we get to it?

Xena looks down to see to wet cloths.

XENA
Remember this, Toris?

Xena grabs the cloths, winds them up and starts to whip the guards with them, who back off and fall to the ground.

XENA
Come and get it! Let's go.

Xena and Toris leap out the window. Cortese and Aescalus enter.

CORTESE
I want them for execution by morning!

AESCALUS
What time?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Malik holds a messenger pigeon.

MALIK
He wants them for execution by the morning.
Avoid the soldiers, they'll be looking, too. Move!

EXTRAS
All right! Come on. Come on. You got my horse.
Let's go.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Village. Gabrielle turns and a kid's arrow which leaves a yellow circle hits her in the forehead. She is covered in them.

GABRIELLE
Huh.

Leia laughs.

GABRIELLE
Okay, let's try it again. Okay.

Xena and Toris ride in.

GABRIELLE
Xena! I'm glad you're all right. Hey, Sera, this is
my friend Xena who I told you about and her--her
brother, Toris. This is my little friend and warlord, Leia.

XENA
Sera, I need to speak to your village elders. Can
you bring them back here? It's very important.

SERA
I'll try.

Sera and Leia leave.

GABRIELLE
What's going on, Xena?

XENA
The good king and Cortese are one and
the same.

GABRIELLE
Not happy news. What are you gonna do?

TORIS
We could've murdered him, but we didn't.

GABRIELLE
Murder. You can't just murder someone.

TORIS
As if you know the difference between murder
and justice!

Toris leaves. Xena follows him.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Toris stands by himself and Xena joins him.

XENA
Toris.

TORIS
How do you put up with that girl?

XENA
Why? She knows more about wisdom and justice
than you'll ever know.

TORIS
At first, I thought she was just blindly following
your lead, and that you were gonna do the same
thing to her that you did to our village, use their
fear to manipulate them, but that's not it! She's
brave because that's the way she is! I was
so sure that I had you figured out, that I never
bothered to figure myself out. All these years,
I've been trying to convince myself that I knew what
was best for our village.

XENA
Toris, we all made decisions based on what
we thought was right. We did what we had to do,
because we cared about our friends.

TORIS
No, no, no, no, you don't get it! You stayed because
you cared for us all! I left because, because I was...

XENA
Because you were afraid.

TORIS
I was afraid I would die! That was all I could
think of! I mean, I cared about you and Lyceus
and Mother, but...I was a coward.

XENA
Murdering Cortese will not ease that guilt.

TORIS
You don't know that. When I found out that you
and the others had turned him back, when I
found out that Lyceus had died, my life meant
nothing anymore. There was only one thing left
to do. That was to take Cortese to the grave,
the grave that I should have had. The grave that
Lyceus has now. I have to find Malik and force
him to take me to Cortese.

Xena grabs Toris by the collar.

XENA
You listen to me. I already lost one brother to
that madman and I'm not gonna lose another.

Sera enters.

SERA
Xena? The elders are gathered. You better come quick.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle stands with the elders.

GABRIELLE
Now, now, think for a minute. When Cortese
and his bandits were about to obliterate this
village, who stopped them?

VILLAGE ELDER
The two of you did.

GABRIELLE
Two of us? Yeah, well, right, but, mostly Xena.

Xena enters.

GABRIELLE
Her.

VILLAGE ELDER
And we are truly grateful. But still, she may not
stay here.

XENA
The king and the raider, Cortese, are one and
the same.

VILLAGE ELDER
But, that's impossible. The king is at war
with Cortese.

EXTRA
This can't be true.

VILLAGE ELDER
Now we hear that the army is searching for you,
as well as the raiders. You'll get this village destroyed!

GABRIELLE
We'll stay and we'll help you fight. Whatever it
takes, we're with you.

XENA
No, Gabrielle, he's right. Cortese will only come
here if he knows I'm here. We only stand and
fight when we have to.

VILLAGE ELDER
And we appreciate it.

The villagers leave.

GABRIELLE
Where's Toris?

SERA
He's gone. He said he had a debt to pay and
that you'll understand.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena rides.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena sneaks up to the raider's camp, drawing her sword. She enters, and finds Toris tied to a tree, beaten and gagged.

XENA
Toris.

Xena frees him.

TORIS
It's a trap.

XENA
I know. The wood is soaked with oil.

MALIK
There she is!

The raiders enter with flaming arrows.

MALIK
One arrow and your brother dies in a ball of fire.
Oh, yes, I know he's your brother. You'd be surprised
what a man will say when he's been tortured.

Xena drops her sword and breast dagger.

MALIK
You're going to Cortese, but first, there's something
that I owe you.

He punches Xena and then she head butts him, which drops him to the ground. The arrows are raised.

MALIK
Wait! This is Cortese's pleasure and when he's
done with you, I'll spit on your burning carcass.

END OF ACT THREE



ACT FOUR

Xena and Toris are chained in the castle dungeon.

XENA
Well, it wasn't too difficult getting back into the
castle. But it sure is gonna be hard to figure
out our escape with you not talking to me.

TORIS
Why'd you have to follow me? This is my time,
I told you that.

XENA
Your time? What's that supposed to mean?

TORIS
It means you should'a stayed out of this! Do you
know how long I planned the moment when
Cortese and I face off?!

XENA
Things don't always work out the way you want.

TORIS
What did it feel like after you had beaten Cortese?

XENA
Feel? I didn't have time to feel anything. Maybe,
that was the problem. I knew that he'd come
back, so I decided to form an army for defense.
And then I figured to take the surrounding villages
for a buffer. And then somewhere, I don't know
where, I changed. I didn't have time to feel
anything. And I promise you, Toris, if you murder
Cortese, you'll become what I was.

TORIS
I've seen you kill, Xena. What's the difference?

XENA
Maybe it's just a difference in my head, but the
pure evil of murder is that it's premeditated. It's
not in the heat of battle. And it's not for self-defense.
You have been planning this for years. When the
guards come back, we've gotta move.

Toris starts to laugh.

XENA
Is something funny?

TORIS
I'm sorry I got you into this mess, Xena, but I'm
glad you're with me.

EXTRA
All quiet, sir.

Aescalus enters.

AESCALUS
The king has ordered your burning tomorrow. I
don't believe in such executions, so if you can
find me where I can find Cortese, I'll try to make
your death quick and painless.

XENA
Very well. Go to the throne room. You'll find him
seated on the big, comfy chair. Your king is
Cortese.

Toris grabs Aescalus with his legs. Xena gets the other guard. Xena knocks the sword from Aescalus' hands, and catches it with her feet. She then cuts herself free, and knocks Aescalus to the ground, planting a boot on him. She frees Toris.

AESCALUS
You'll never get out of the castle alive!

XENA
Oh, no? Oh, we don't have any intention of
leaving the castle. First, you're going to show me
where the messenger pigeons are kept.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sera runs.

SERA
Gabrielle! Gabrielle! Gabrielle!

Gabrielle comes out of the house.

GABRIELLE
What is it?

SERA
Gabrielle! Your friends! The king has them!

Gabrielle grabs her staff and leaves.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena releases a messenger pigeon. Toris keeps a sword on Aescalus.

TORIS
Why don't we just find Cortese?!

XENA
'Cause I wanna stir the pot a little. (to Aescalus)
Now, where is the king?

AESCALUS
I'd rather die.

Xena grabs Aescalus.

XENA
That can be arranged. Now, where is he?

AESCALUS
My king practices at the archery range outside
the west wall, but you'll never get there.

XENA
We'd better split up. Can you handle this?

TORIS
I'll take care of him.

Toris leaves.

XENA
Now we both know that you are protecting the
king. So tell me where he really is.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The raiders gamble. Malik enters.

MALIK
On your feet! We're to attack the castle immediately
in full strength! Go!

EXTRAS
Yes, sir.

EXTRA
Come on.

The men leave.

MALIK
At last.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Soldiers practice with their arrows. Toris enters.

TORIS
Cortese! Where are you?!

EXTRA
Huh?

Toris fights the two soldiers.

TORIS
The captain lied and Xena knew it!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cortese holds Xena's chakram, when she grabs it from behind and then grabs his collar. Aescalus is with her.

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The raiders attack the castle. Toris enters.

MALIK
You are dead!

The raiders attack. Gabrielle runs in and joins Toris and the soldiers in battle.

GABRIELLE
Where's Xena?!

TORIS
Xena!

Xena enters with Aescalus and Cortese tied up. She lets Aescalus go.

GABRIELLE
Xena!

XENA
Go get your men. Go!

Aescalus leaves. Xena puts Cortese on a hook, ululates and joins the battle.

TORIS
You deceived me!

XENA
Fight now, talk later.

Xena, Gabrielle and Toris fight the raiders. Xena and Toris fight back-to-back. Aescalus enters with his men.

XENA
Cortese, order the raiders to drop their weapons.

CORTESE
Someone, kill her!

Xena throws two swords which land on either side of his head. She holds out her chakram.

XENA
Take a good look at my chakram, Cortese. It'll
be the last thing you ever see, if you don't tell
them now.

Xena gets ready to release her chakram.

CORTESE
Wait! Give your weapons to the soldiers. Surrender!

EXTRA
Surrender?

CORTESE
I'm ordering you!

The raiders drop their weapons.

MALIK
No!

XENA
There's only one man with the power to make
them do that!

AESCALUS
Cortese.

MALIK
No! You betrayed us!

Malik moves to attack Cortese, but Aescalus kills him.

TORIS
You knew he was lying, didn't you? You wanted
him to yourself.

Xena takes Cortese off of the hook and throws him to his knees in front of Toris.

XENA
You're so hungry for that blood you'll never wash
off, here he is. Everything I hated about me, you're
determined to make of yourself. Go on, do it.
And then tell me how much better you feel
about yourself.

Toris gets a sword and holds it over Cortese, then lowers it.

XENA
Lyceus would have been proud.

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Later. Toris joins Xena and Gabrielle.

TORIS
I feel, ah, so free, after so long. In all the rush,
I forgot to tell you something. I missed you.

XENA
I guess you had other things on your mind.

TORIS
The wrong things. Thanks for setting me straight.

XENA
Oh. What now?

TORIS
It's time I came full circle. I'm going back home
to see Mother.

XENA
That'll make her very happy. Tell her I said...just
tell her you saw me.

Toris hugs Xena.

TORIS
Maybe you could come with me.

XENA
No, not yet. Besides, Gabrielle and I are headed
the other way.

TORIS
I understand. After so long, I should bring Mother
some kind of gift.

XENA
You already are.

Xena mounts Argo and rides off, Gabrielle at her side.

END OF ACT FOUR

STARRING
Lucy Lawless as Xena
Renee O'Connor as Gabrielle

GUEST CAST
Joseph Kell as Toris
Michael Lawrence as Cortese
William Davis as Malik
Doug McCaulay as Aescalus
Elizabeth Skeen as Sera
Peter Needham as Village Elder
???????????? as Leia [uncredited]
???????????? as Assassin [uncredited]

Written by: Peter Allan Fields
Directed by: Stewart Main

Disclaimer: No messenger doves were harmed during the production of this motion picture. However, several are reportedly missing in action and search-and-rescue efforts are under way.