A Solstice Carol


TEASER

King Silvus' court.

KING SILVUS
On the charge of evading your taxes, I find you both
guilty! And I sentence you to ten years hard labour.
If you won't pay what you owe, then, by Hades,
you'll work it off! As to the charge of celebrating
the Winter Solstice, I find you guilty of singing
carols and decorating a tree. Twelve more months!
Take 'em away.

BEARDED GUARD
Yes, sire. You heard King Silvus. Remove the prisoners.

GUARD #1
Ahh, to the poor house with you, move it.

They are taken away.

EXTRA
But we're too old to live in a poorhouse.

GUARD #1
Then you'll die there.

KING SILVUS
Senticles.

SENTICLES
Yes, your Majesty.

KING SILVUS
Have you prepared the eviction lists for today?

SENTICLES
Today? But, sire, today is, Sol-

KING SILVUS
Yes?

SENTICLES
Today is so...late. So late. Looks nearly dark.

KING SILVUS
Then I suggest you hurry. Unless you want to add
your name to that parchment! Court adjourned!

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Village.

GABRIELLE
Now, no spying. And if one of us sees the other
shopping in a stall, then she turns and walks
the other way, agreed?

XENA
Yeah.

GABRIELLE
No peeking into other peoples' bags, too. I mean,
being surprised is half the fun, right?

XENA
Right.

GABRIELLE
Ah, nothing can cost more than five dinars.

XENA
Then why don't I just give you five dinars, and
you can buy something that you really like?

Gabrielle laughs as Xena holds up a crocodile head on a plaque.

GABRIELLE
Because, then it wouldn't be a gift.

Lynal grabs Xena's chakram and runs away with it.

GABRIELLE
Hey! What was that about?

XENA
He stole my chakram. I'll meet you out back.

Xena follows Lynal.

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Lynal runs.

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Xena follows.

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Lynal runs.

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Xena follows.

XENA
Pardon me.

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Lynal runs.

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Xena follows.

XENA
Coming through!

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Lynal turns a corner. Xena is not there. He smiles at the chakram and walks off. Xena comes out of the shadows and follows.

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Lynal walks by, hiding the chakram under his coat. Gabrielle comes out of the shadows behind him and starts to follow, but Xena puts a hand on her shoulder. They follow.

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Xena and Gabrielle enter the orphanage.

ORPHAN #1
Right now, all we need is a Solstice pudding.

ORPHAN #3
And a goose. Don't forget the goose.

ORPHAN #1
Lynal, can you get us a goose, too?

LYNAL
One goose?

Xena sees her chakram at the top of a Solstice tree, ribbons on it.

LYNAL
We'll need more than that.

ORPHAN #1
The round thing looks like the king's crest.

LYNAL
In honour of his cold heart.

XENA
Nice tree.

Everyone turns to see Xena and the children gasp.

MELANA
It's all right, it's all right. May I help you?

XENA
Yes. That's mine.

MELANA
Lynal.

LYNAL
I just borrowed it for the tree. I was gonna give
it back.

GABRIELLE
Funny how the ribbons bring out its shine.

XENA
It's not an ornament.

LYNAL
Flashy thing like that? What else could it be?

EXTRAS
Yeah, what else?

Senticles and soldiers enter.

SENTICLES
Hear ye! Hear ye!

The children scream.

MELANA
Children, children. Settle down.

SENTICLES
By order of King Silvus, be it known you have
until midnight tonight to pay taxes in the amount
of one thousand dinars or face eviction.

FIRST GUARD
No wait, look around. They're violating the prohibition.
I say, arrest them now!

Xena flips into the air ululating, and retrieves her chakram.

XENA
Gabrielle!

Gabrielle pulls Senticles out of the way. Xena throws the chakram and the ribbon ties up the soldiers. Xena pull them to the ground.

GABRIELLE
I didn't know you did gift-wrapping.

XENA
What did he mean, "violating the prohibition"?
The children were just enjoying Solstice.

MELANA
Yes, but here, celebrating the winter solstice is
a crime and anyone who gets caught can expect
to pay a price.

END OF TEASER



ACT ONE

Outside the orphanage. A couple walks by.

GABRIELLE (voice-over)
How could you work for a man who-

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Aside.

GABRIELLE
-would put orphans on the street on Solstice Eve?

SENTICLES
I like to eat. When King Silvus outlawed toy-making,
I had to take whatever job I could.

GABRIELLE
You were a toymaker?

XENA
Nice try. Let's throw him in the cell with the guards.

GABRIELLE
No, wait, wait. Senticles. Senticles. Of course!
When I was a little girl, I had a toy made. It was
this wooden lamb whose mouth would open
when you pulled its tail. Oh, I loved that toy.

SENTICLES
I remember that one. You know, it took me two
days to figure out that mouth joint, and weeks to
carve his fleece. Oh yes, he was a real challenge.

XENA
So, now you work for the man that put you out of
business. King Silvus sounds like quite a guy.

SENTICLES
Well, he's always been a hard man. But the
Queen used to temper him. And one Solstice
Eve, about thirty years ago, Queen Inalia suddenly
died. He hasn't been the same since.

XENA
I understand his loss, but that's no excuse for
banning Winter Solstice.

MELANA
That's true. But as hard as his laws are on others,
I imagine the loneliness it must cause the king
to be even worse.

GABRIELLE
That reminds me of a story I heard once.

EXTRAS
A story?! A story! Please tell us!

GABRIELLE
Okay, okay, okay. Okay, sit down.

The kids do, and Gabrielle sits before them.

GABRIELLE
Well, once in a land far away, there was this rich,
but miserly man named Cresus. And his heart
was so hard, that his servants begged the gods
to intervene. They sent the Fates to separate the
strands of his life, so that he might see himself
more clearly. Unfortunately, Cresus didn't mend
his ways.

EXTRAS
What? Why not?

GABRIELLE
So the gods turned him into a spirit, doomed to
walk the Earth forever, as invisible to others as
they were to him in life.

EXTRA
I don't like this story.

GABRIELLE
Actually, I didn't like the end to that story, anyway.
And I bet we could change it.

EXTRA
Maybe.

GABRIELLE
(to Xena) If we tried?

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Outside the orphanage.

GABRIELLE
Look, if we can change the king's mind without
changing his anatomy, think of the example it'll
be to the children.

XENA
Gabrielle, the eviction notice is set at midnight.
If we don't stop it, these kids are out on the street.

GABRIELLE
I know, but it will work.

XENA
And what if it doesn't?

GABRIELLE
We clobber him. Please, just try it my way, just
this once. In honour of the Solstice?

XENA
All right, if it means that much to you. But we're
going to need disguises and access to the castle.

Senticles is trying to sneak away. Xena and Gabrielle stop him.

XENA
Hi.

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Gabrielle counts dinars.

GABRIELLE
Thirty-three. Thirty-four. Thirty-five. That's it.

XENA
You'll have to stretch it as far as you can. We need
everything on the list to make it work.

GABRIELLE
Trust me, Xena. If there's one thing I know, it's
how to bargain. You just worry about getting to
King Silvus, without cracking heads.

XENA
Deal's a deal.

Senticles starts to leave, but Xena grabs him.

SENTICLES
Yo!

XENA
Right, Senticles?

SENTICLES
I'll take you to him all right. It's just that, well, how
do I know you're not an assassin?

XENA
Because if I was, he'd be dead already.

SENTICLES
Works for me.

XENA
Good. (to Gabrielle) You get everything we need,
and I'll meet you back at the orphanage.

Xena and Senticles go one way, Gabrielle another.

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Gabrielle tries on a hat. A Donkey Owner tries to move Tobias.

DONKEY OWNER
You stubborn ass! You've been nothing but trouble
the entire time we've been together. Now, move!

He can't move Tobias.

GABRIELLE
Excuse me, sir. That's quite an animal you've
got there.

DONKEY OWNER
You want him? He's yours. Fifty dinars.

GABRIELLE
Fifty?

DONKEY OWNER
That's what the tannery'll give me for his hide.

GABRIELLE
You're taking him to be skinned? Look, how
'bout I do you a favour? I'll take him off your hands
for say, ah, twenty-five dinars?

DONKEY OWNER
Twenty-five? That's half of what he's worth at
the tannery.

GABRIELLE
Yeah, well you have to get him there first, right?

DONKEY OWNER
Hmm, forty-five.

GABRIELLE
Thirty. Not a dinar more. Let's face it. I've seen
healthier hides on a used couch. Nothing personal.
What do you say?

DONKEY OWNER
Thirty-five, and you got yourself a deal.

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Castle.

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King Silvus sleeps. Xena enters, puts a large candlestick against the door and looks out the window.

XENA
You're a lucky man, Silvus. Now, surprise me,
and be smart, too. Wake up!

Xena hits his feet with a pillow. King Silvus awakens.

KING SILVUS
Ah-h! Who are you?! How did you get in here?!
What do you want?

XENA
My name's Xena. We need to talk.

KING SILVUS
Listen, anything you want. Take it. Jewels, money,
anything, take it, take it. Just have mercy on an
old man.

XENA
The same kind of mercy you showed that orphanage
you're closing?

KING SILVUS
Orphanage?

XENA
You signed the order yourself.

KING SILVUS
Maybe so. I issue so many, time's being what
they are.

XENA
And whose fault is that? Did you ever stop to
think that maybe if you eased up on your people
a little, let them celebrate Solstice perhaps, the
times might ease up, too?

KING SILVUS
Wait a minute. You're one of those Solstice lovers,
aren't ya? One of those rebels who thinks that
everything and everyone should stop once a year,
just to raise a glass, eat a goose, unwrap gifts!
Well, you know what I say to that?

XENA
Bet I can guess.

KING SILVUS
Guards! Guards! Quick!

EXTRA
Coming, Sire!

The guards can't get in.

XENA
You petty tyrants. So predictable.

EXTRA
It's locked!

EXTRA
It can't be.

XENA
But heed my warning, Silvus. Change your ways
or suffer the consequences.

KING SILVUS
No!

EXTRA
Come out.

KING SILVUS
Inalia's gone for good and so's the Solstice.

EXTRA
Break it down!

XENA
This isn't over, Silvus. The truth is it's just begun.

The guards enter.

EXTRA
Stop her!

Xena jumps out the window and swings on a rope. She gives her yell and breaks through a boarded up window to find a dusty room full of old things of Inalia.

END OF ACT ONE



ACT TWO

Xena looks about the room and sees a picture of Inalia.

XENA
Inalia.

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The orphanage.

GABRIELLE
I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do. I'm afraid you
have to leave.

Tobias brays.

GABRIELLE
Look, I know it's not fair, especially on Solstice
Eve, but what can I do? Look, I know, I know, but
Melana said you can't stay inside. And the place
is hers. Until midnight. Look, I guess, I guess it's
bunking under the stars for you, my friend. Now,
let's go.

Tobias won't move.

GABRIELLE
Come on, I'll stay with you, so you won't get lonely.
Come on.

Gabrielle pulls on the rope on Tobias.

GABRIELLE
Tobias, come on! You know, I'm beginning to
understand your former owner.

LYNAL
Come on, you rugrats, time to wash up.

Lynal whistles. Tobias moves forward and Gabrielle falls down.

GABRIELLE
Well, I'll be.

Gabrielle whistles and Tobias backs up. Gabrielle stands.

GABRIELLE
Just like Argo. I wonder what Xena will say to this.

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Elsewhere in the castle. Senticles works on a scroll.

XENA
Nice work. You just saved someone years in
prison changing the sentence like that.

SENTICLES
It's nothing. I change a letter here, a number there,
hoping to do a little good. But believe me, it's nothing.

XENA
So's your part in my plan. It's nothing. All you have
to do is-

SENTICLES
No! I won't risk being arrested. I can't. I'd die
locked up in a cell, closed in like that. I couldn't
face going to prison.

Xena grabs a scroll.

XENA
What do you think would happen if the king found
out about these changes you made to his orders?

SENTICLES
Found out? But, surely, you wouldn't. You couldn't.

XENA
Of course, not. But the point is, if he did find out,
you'd be thrown in prison anyway. You're braver
than you give yourself credit for. So don't deny
your courage...or the children.

GABRIELLE (voice-over)
And from that day on-

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Orphanage. Gabrielle tells the children a story.

GABRIELLE
-we've honoured and celebrated it, as a time of
rebirth for our wishes and our dreams. The time
of coming together in joy and peace. It's the shortest
day of the year and the longest night. But on
this special night, a new light, a new chance is
born to us all. So, it's a time for miracles and
goodwill towards all living creatures.

Tobias is still inside.

GABRIELLE
That's why the Winter Solstice means so much
and touches us all so deeply.

ORPHAN #1
I have a Solstice wish.

EXTRA
Me too!

EXTRA
So do I!

GABRIELLE
Let's hear it.

ORPHAN #1
I wish we could have a big Solstice dinner, with
all the trimmings.

EXTRA
Me too.

EXTRA
Yeah.

ORPHAN #2
I wish we could each have a Solstice present
of our very own.

ORPHAN #3
I wish everyone in the world could be as happy
as we are right now.

MELANA
I think those are all fine wishes. Now, why don't
we go and gather our stockings and put them
by the fireplace? Come on, let's go.

The children leave with Melana. Xena and Senticles enter.

XENA
You'd better hope this plan works. Otherwise,
I'll do whatever it takes to keep those kids from
getting hurt.

GABRIELLE
(to Senticles) She's a very physical person. (to Xena)
I completely agree with you. If the plan fails, we
punch faces. Until then, we do it peacefully, in the
spirit of Solstice.

Tobias brays.

XENA
Who's your friend?

GABRIELLE
Xena, meet Tobias. Now, isn't he sweet? And
he's trained just like Argo, you just whistle. He
cost me all of our money, but I couldn't let him go
to a tannery, not on Solstice eve.

XENA
It's all right. I got everything we need at the castle.
Now, all we have to do is figure out the details.
And then hope I can restrain myself long enough
to pull it off.

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King Silvus' camber. Xena pretends to be Clotho. She speaks with a higher pitched voice.

XENA
Silvus, wake up. Silvus, arise. Open you eyes.

Xena's voice becomes more like her own.

XENA
Silvus, wake up!

King Silvus wakes up. Xena stands before him. She is dressed in white, a veil covering her face and a small candle holder in her hand, six lit candles in it. She talks with the higher pitched voice again.

KING SILVUS
Oh, what is this, the town square?! Who are you?
What do you want?!

XENA
Mankind calls me Clotho, first of the Fates, whose
province is the past.

KING SILVUS
Nonsense! You're nothing but a dream, probably
brought on by indigestion. A fatty piece of beef, a
bit of gristle. Get out and let me sleep!

He pulls his covers over his head. Xena pulls off the sheet.

XENA
Your commands have no sway over me. Rather,
I command you to arise, and walk by my side.

KING SILVUS
How do I know you're really a Fate? For all I
can tell, you could be a thief, or another of those
Solstice cracks.

XENA
Hmm, perhaps this will convince you that time
is mine to rule as I will. I am the Fate of the past.

KING SILVUS
Long past?

Xena turns to an hourglass which rises.

XENA
Your past, which I will show you, then you will turn-

The hourglass begins to turn.

XENA
-to the present with my sister.

Behind the curtain, Senticles turns the hourglass with a small stick, attached to the back of it. He has a pea shooter in his mouth.

XENA
And as for your future...

Senticles blows and something shoots out and breaks the glass on the hourglass.

KING SILVUS
All right, I believe you. What now?

XENA
Come!

KING SILVUS
Where are we going?

XENA
To a place you have forgotten, though it haunts
your every thought.

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They enter the room Xena broke into earlier. Xena picks up a cup.

GABRIELLE
Silvus. Silvus.

King Silvus turns to see Gabrielle. She is dressed in Inalia's old clothes and wears a veil. She hangs in the air.

GABRIELLE
Dear husband.

KING SILVUS
Inalia?

He moves to her.

GABRIELLE
Stop! Come no closer. I am but a shadow from
your past, sent to beg you. Turn from your narrow,
greedy ways, before it's too late.

KING SILVUS
Too late? Great Zeus.

XENA
Here, drink this.

She hands him the cup and he drinks.

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Senticles is on the ground with Tobias, who is holding up Gabrielle on a pulley.

SENTICLES
Easy, big fella. Steady. Steady, big boy.

EXTRA
Hey, check this out.

The guard whistles as a girl walks by. It's the command for Tobias to back up, which he does, despite Senticles' best efforts to hold him in place.

EXTRA
Hey baby, how'd you like to spend a weekend in
Athens with us.

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Gabrielle falls.

END OF ACT TWO



ACT THREE

Gabrielle struggles in her clothes. Xena whistles, which hurts King Silvus' ears.

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Tobais moves forward.

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Gabrielle is raised and straightens herself up as Xena talks.

XENA
A warning, that our time is nearly up.

KING SILVUS
No, not yet.

He turns and Gabrielle freezes, looking as she did when they first entered.

KING SILVUS
Don't leave me, Inalia, please, not again.

GABRIELLE
I'm sorry, Silvus. You've grieved long enough. You
must forget my death on that Solstice Eve so long ago.

KING SILVUS
Death? What do you mean? You--you didn't die.
You--you--you walked out on me. I don't understand.

GABRIELLE
I was speaking metaphorically. We--we shadows
from the past tend to do that.

Xena nods.

XENA
Yeah.

KING SILVUS
Met--metaphor. Wait, what's--what's going on here?
What's happening? Who--who are-

He passes out.

GABRIELLE
Is he all right?

XENA
Fine, but that sleeping herb I put in his wine won't
last long. We'd better get moving.

GABRIELLE
I thought Senticles said his wife was dead.

XENA
He also said he'd handle Tobias. We start phase
two. You get changed and see what happened.
I'll meet you back at the orphanage.

GABRIELLE
Okay.

XENA
Come on, King.

Xena leaves. Gabrielle whistles and is lowered to the ground.

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The ground.

GABRIELLE
Senticles. Senticles. Where are you? Senticles.

Tobias steps out of the bushes.

GABRIELLE
Tobias. Good job, boy. Now where's Senticles?

Tobias brays.

GABRIELLE
What? Are you trying to tell me something?

Tobias brays.

GABRIELLE
Do you know where Senticles is?

Tobias brays.

GABRIELLE
Okay, let's find him. Smart donkey.

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King Silvus sleeps. Xena enters, now Lachesis. She is dressed in a green robe and wears a brown cloth over her head, hiding her face.

XENA
Silvus, wake up!

She throws clothes on him. King Silvus awakens.

KING SILVUS
Am I to understand that you are-

Xena speaks with a lower voice.

XENA
Lachesis, second of the Fates. Here to show
your present. Now, arise and dress.

KING SILVUS
Put on these? But I'm the king. Why would I
wear something common as this?

XENA
Tonight, we go among your subjects, as anonymous
to them as they are to you. The better to show you
how your cruel laws and harsh judgments affect them.

KING SILVUS
To what point? In hopes I'll change my life?

XENA
In the hopes that you might change theirs. Unless
you'd like me to find a more...forceful way of
persuading you.

He picks up his crown.

XENA
Uh-uh, you won't be needing that.

Xena laughs and leaves.

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Senticles' home. Senticles looks at his toys. Gabrielle knocks.

GABRIELLE
Hello. Senticles. Are you in there? Hello! It's me,
Gabrielle. Senticles?

Senticles opens the door.

GABRIELLE
What happened? You were supposed to stay with
Tobias. You know, Xena and I were nearly caught.

SENTICLES
So was I. Two guards came by. If I hadn't run, I
don't know what would have happened.

GABRIELLE
You ran away?

SENTICLES
Well, what else could I do? You didn't expect me
to stay there and get caught, did you?

GABRIELLE
No. No, but what about us? What about Tobias?

SENTICLES
You forget, I've seen your warrior friend in action.
I knew you'd be okay. As for the donkey, what are
they gonna do to a donkey? Whereas me, they could
lock in prison for the rest of my life. It's like I told
your friend, I can't do that. I can't. Shut up in a small
space. I'd die. Look, I'm sorry if I let you down but,
I warned you, I'm no hero. So, why don't you just
go, all right, just leave me alone! Go!

Gabrielle turns and sees all Senticles' toys.

GABRIELLE
What is all this?

SENTICLES
It's nothing. I shouldn't have left them out.

GABRIELLE
Are you crazy? It's amazing. Look at all
these toys.

Gabrielle picks up a doll.

GABRIELLE
Her eyes open and close.

SENTICLES
Yes, well, that's because I use this little-

GABRIELLE
Oh, look at this.

She picks up a wooden lamb.

GABRIELLE
This is exactly like the toy I had growing up.

She picks it up and pulls its tail. The lamb's mouth opens and it baas.

GABRIELLE
Remember? I told you how much it meant to me.
Oh, all these toys. They'd mean so much to the
orphans too, don't you think? Every child could
have a toy of his very own.

Gabrielle starts to collect the toys.

SENTICLES
That would be true, if they were legal, which they aren't.

Silvus holds a sack.

GABRIELLE
Oh, don't worry about that. By the time we're done
with King Silvus, he'll be handing them out himself.
We could use this.

She puts the toys in the sack.

GABRIELLE
We could take the toys to the orphanage and hide
them. And, uh-uh, I'll have to disguise you, just
in case we do run into guards. We don't want them
to recognize you.

SENTICLES
No, I won't risk going to prison.

GABRIELLE
Look, you say you're afraid of small spaces. Well,
that's exactly how you live your whole life. In a small
space, afraid to stand up for yourself or anyone
else. Don't you see? What you're most afraid will
happen, has happened? The question is what
are you going to do about it?

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Lynal opens the orphanage door to see King Silvus and Xena (though he does not know who they are).

KING SILVUS
I know, I know it's--it's late. So, ah, slam the door
if you want to. Wouldn't surprise me a bit.

LYNAL
Slam the door? On Solstice eve? That's a good
one. Come in. How can I help you?

KING SILVUS
Well, we are, we're--we're-

XENA
Strangers.

KING SILVUS
Strangers, right. We're strangers. We've been, uh,
traveling all day and we--we-

LYNAL
Need a bit of food and drink? Well, we don't have
much. But, you're welcome to share what we've got.

KING SILVUS
Oh.

XENA
The charity of your king and country is legendary.

LYNAL
Our king? Charitable? You really are strangers here.

KING SILVUS
What's that supposed to mean?

LYNAL
Just that, King Silvus is the meanest, most
tight-fisted ruler this side of the Aegean.

KING SILVUS
Is that so?

LYNAL
Absolutely. You've heard of Midas, right? Greediest
man in the world, until Hercules helped him. Well,
our king makes him look like Lady Bountiful.

XENA
Surely, you exaggerate.

LYNAL
I wish! This is an orphanage. And, 'cause we
can't pay our taxes, King Silvus is kicking us out
of here at midnight. What kind of king does that to
kids on Solstice eve?

XENA
Good question.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle, Senticles and Tobias look out. Senticles is dressed in a white beard.

GABRIELLE
Coast is clear.

SENTICLES
Let's go.

They step out.

GABRIELLE
Come on, Tobias.

BEARDED GUARD
Remember the king's command. Any resistance,
we storm in full force.

A group of soldiers walk by.

SENTICLES
Look, they're headed straight for the orphanage.

GABRIELLE
We have to warn Melana.

SENTICLES
How? They'll be guarding the doors.

GABRIELLE
Well, then, we'll find another way inside. Okay?
Come on.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
In the orphanage. Xena and King Silvus listen to the children sing.

EXTRAS
(singing) Stars tonight, oh sky's in sight,
On Solstice night, on Solstice night.
Chestnuts spark while hearth burns bright.
Solstice night is here.
Snow so white casts winter's light
On Solstice night, this quiet night.
Our song so light sends hope of light
This longest night of the year.
Time of wonder, time for cheer,
The greatest time of all.
Can't help it when the love we share
Shines bright in everyone.

The kids laugh.

KING SILVUS
Take me home. I've seen and heard enough.

XENA
Enough to stop their eviction? Enough to bring
back Winter Solstice?

KING SILVUS
Enough! I won't be lectured, especially when
it's all your fault.

XENA
My fault?

KING SILVUS
If you Fates hadn't separated Inalia and me I
might have been a different man, a better king.
But you did. You let her leave. She walked out on
me, just as I'm walking out on you, right now!
Happy Solstice!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
King Silvus and Xena step outside. The guards are there.

BEARDED GUARD
Halt! You're under arrest, by order of the king.

KING SILVUS
Don't be absurd. I am the king.

BEARDED GUARD
Right and I'm the Queen of the Amazons. Seize them!

The guards move up and Xena stands in front of King Silvus.

END OF ACT THREE



ACT FOUR

Xena faces the guards.

XENA
Hold it, boys. Where's your holiday...spirit?

BEARDED GUARD
What are you waiting for?! Arrest them!

The guards charge. Xena gives a yell and leaps up. She kicks down the pillars holding up the overhanging. She and King Silvus run inside as it comes down, blocking the guards from getting in.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Inside.

KING SILVUS
Did you see that? They attacked me! Me, their king!

The King passes out. Lynal runs in.

LYNAL
You and your friend better go.

Xena takes off the cloth on her head.

XENA
I'm not going anywhere.

LYNAL
Xena! Thank the gods it's you! The guards in
the basement have escaped!

XENA
Believe me, Lynal, that is the least of our worries.

The Bearded Guard can be heard from outside.

BEARDED GUARD
Attention, everyone in the building.

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

BEARDED GUARD
Either you come out voluntarily, or we're coming
in to get you. But, either way, you're gone!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena lays down King Silvus and removes the green robe.

MELANA
Are you sure he'll be all right?

XENA
His pulse is strong. Once the shock wears off,
he should be fine.

MELANA
Dear gods, I hope so.

Xena sees a necklace Melana wears. She hides it. Melana puts on the hood of her cloak.

XENA
On second thought, maybe you should stay with
him, just in case anything develops.

MELANA
But, I can't. I mean, what about the children?

XENA
Lynal will look after them. Right?

LYNAL
Well, sure, but, who's gonna help you?

Senticles comes down the chimney, dressed as Santa. Gabrielle follows, screaming as she comes.

XENA
Go and see to the kids. The reinforcements have arrived.

SENTICLES
I did it! May the gods be praised! I did it! That
chimney is dark and cold as a grave. But I just
grabbed my sack of toys and ho-ho-ho! Down I
came! And, you know what? I liked it! I did, it was
fun! By Zeus, I'm gonna do that every Solstice
Eve! Just see if I don't.

GABRIELLE
That's great, Senticles, but we've got a problem,
here. Xena, there are a troop of guards outside.

XENA
I know.

Xena sees the toys.

GABRIELLE
I guess my plan didn't work, after all. So I guess
we have to slash and crash. But thanks for trying.
Ah-h. Back to business as usual, right?

Xena smiles.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The guards pick up the covering.

BEARDED GUARD
All right, we gave 'em a chance. Now, in the name
of King Silvus, attack!

They run to the orphanage.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena, Gabrielle and Senticles stand inside with the toys. Xena empties a pack of marbles into her hands.

XENA
Let the games begin. Hah!

Xena throws them and when the guards enter, they trip. Xena, Gabrielle and Senticles fire play arrows which stick to the soldiers' heads.

EXTRA
Stop them!

Xena grabs stars off the tree and throws them at the soldiers.

EXTRA
Ow!

EXTRA
Whoa!

EXTRA
Grab them!

EXTRA
Look out!

EXTRA
Stop them!

EXTRA
Yeah!

Two soldiers come in on Xena.

EXTRA
This way!

Xena grabs two stocking and starts to fill them with nuts. The men keep coming. Gabrielle grabs the hula-hoop.

EXTRA
Come on!

GABRIELLE
Boys!

Gabrielle swings the hula-hoop around her.

GABRIELLE
Come and get your Solstice present.

The soldiers look at each other and smile. They move over to Gabrielle.

GABRIELLE
You wanna help me play with it?

They watch the hula-hoop and then Gabrielle throws it over their heads.

GABRIELLE
Senticles!

Senticles throws two golden apples which hit the guards in the heads and knock them out.

SENTICLES
Ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
King Silvus awakens and looks up a Melana, who's face is hidden. She stands in a blue light. The sounds of the battle can be heard.

KING SILVUS
Ah. The gods defend me. You're the third one, the
Fate of the future, am I right? Atropos, come to
show me--my, what is it? What is this place? Tell
me, why am I here? It's dark and cold as a...grave?
Is that it? Is this my tomb? And that--that noise
like souls crying out in pain. Is this my future?

Melana turns to leave.

KING SILVUS
No, no, don't leave me.

She turns back to him.

KING SILVUS
Just tell me, does it have to be? This place, my
death? Can it change if I change my life? Please.
(crying) I--I don't want to die alone. I've lived that
way for thirty years. I can change. I know I can.

Melana holds out her hand.

KING SILVUS
No! I won't go with you, not yet. You'll see, I'll show
you. I'll prove to you, I'm not the man I was. I'm not!

He leaves.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
King Silvus enters the main room where Xena is now swinging her stuffed stockings.

EXTRA
This way! Around the back!

Xena takes out two soldiers with the stockings.

XENA
Great stocking stuffers.

She runs back to the toys.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Senticles holds up a crossbow and a candy-cane. A soldier comes up to him.

SENTICLES
Go ahead, make my day.

Senticles knocks him out.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena picks up a marionette. It's Hercules. Xena takes out a soldier with it.

EXTRA
This way!

XENA
(to marionette) Thanks.

EXTRA
I got her.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle hits two guards with bells and plays 'Jingle Bells.'

GABRIELLE
Nah.

She throws away the bells.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
A soldier twirls two swords.

XENA
Gabrielle, get me a sword.

Gabrielle hands her one but it's plastic. Xena gives Gabrielle a look and Gabrielle shrugs. The soldier keeps twirling his swords.

GABRIELLE
This guy's driving me nuts!

Xena pulls a unicorn toy and it hits the soldier in the butt with it's horn. The children load pastries on little catapults.

EXTRA
Come on.

LYNAL
Load your weapons! Ready! Fire!

The pastries hit the guards.

LYNAL
Yeah!

The kids cheer. King Silvus sees a centaur pillow.

BEARDED GUARD
You call yourself soldiers? Getting beaten by
women and children?

EXTRA
Right, come on!

EXTRA
We'll make them pay.

Xena grabs a pillow.

BEARDED GUARD
You're pathetic!

Gabrielle grabs a pillow.

BEARDED GUARD
Now, tighten your ranks! Look sharp! Come on.

EXTRA
I'm going to enjoy this.

BEARDED GUARD
Charge!

Xena, Gabrielle, Senticles and King Silvus beat the soldiers with pillows. Feather fly everywhere. The soldiers retreat and the children cheer.

EXTRA
Yeah!

LYNAL
Yeah! Yeah!

KING SILVUS
Did you see them run?! Like rabbits?! Yes, sir!
Ha-ha! There'll be no evictions here! Not tonight!
Not ever!

Melana steps out.

GABRIELLE
Your Majesty, this is the woman who runs the orphanage.

Melana takes off her hood.

GABRIELLE
Her name's-

KING SILVUS
Inalia.

MELANA
Yes.

KING SILVUS
Oh, my dearest wife. Can you ever forgive me
for closing my heart to you and to our people?
For wasting thirty precious years in bitterness and
greed? I know I don't deserve it, but please, say
you'll try.

MELANA
I heard what you said and I forgive you with all my heart.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena and Gabrielle walk with Argo and Tobias the next day.

XENA
I guess you got that happy ending you wanted.

GABRIELLE
And then some.

MAN
Excuse me, please. Could you tell us which is
the road going west?

XENA
You're on it. There's a town on the way if you're
looking for food and shelter. We'd be happy to
help you get there.

MAN
Mmm, you're very kind, but we're in a hurry. Come
dear, the caravan won't wait.

The Woman holds a baby.

WOMAN
Yes, we're coming.

GABRIELLE
Wait a minute. If you're in a hurry, then, wouldn't
it be faster if your wife and child rode the distance?

MAN
Well, of course, but we don't have the means to-

Gabrielle offers Tobias.

GABRIELLE
You do now.

MAN
For us? But, it's too much. We can't accept it.

GABRIELLE
Sure you can, if you can whistle. Call it a, um,
call it a Solstice gift for the baby.

Gabrielle hands Tobias to the Man.

WOMAN
May God smile on you always for your kindness.

The baby's face glows.

GABRIELLE
Thank you. Tobias. Now take good care of these
people, okay? Don't be stubborn. I'll miss you, too.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena and Gabrielle move along.

XENA
That was a nice thing you did back there.

GABRIELLE
What would I do with a silly old donkey, anyway?

XENA
Uh-huh.

GABRIELLE
They needed him more than me. Besides, they
seem pretty nice.

XENA
Mm-hmm.

GABRIELLE
After all, it is Solstice.

XENA
Oh, that's right.

Xena hands Gabrielle a gift.

XENA
Happy Solstice.

GABRIELLE
Well...what?

Gabrielle opens it to see the wooden lamb.

GABRIELLE
Oh. I don't have a gift for you.

XENA
Gabrielle, you are a gift to me.

The couple heads towards the town and the North Star shines bright.

END OF ACT FOUR

STARRING
Lucy Lawless as Xena
Renee O'Connor as Gabrielle

GUEST CAST
Joe Berryman as Senticles
Peter Vere-Jones as King Silvus
Sher Booth as Melana
Daniel James as Lynal
Genevieve Lucre as Orphan #1
Jamie Kaire-Gataulu as Orphan #2
Nicko Vella as Orphan #3
Junior Chile as Orphan #4
Hemi Rudolph as First Guard
Mike Howell as Guard #1
Lucas Young as Bearded Guard
Tony Bishop as Donkey Owner
Johnny Glass as Man
Karen Morgan as Woman

Written by: Chris Manheim
Directed by: John T. Kretchmer

Disclaimer: Senticles was not harmed during the production of this motion picture. However, several chimneys are in dire need of repair.