The Execution


TEASER

Xena and Gabrielle ride.

GABRIELLE (voice-over)
And hope was lost.

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Xena and Gabrielle enter a village.

GABRIELLE
And that's when Meleager appeared, and crushed
Damon's troops. Did I mention the part where Meleager-

XENA
Single-handedly hauls a war-wagon full of Spartan
javelins over twenty leagues of rocky road? Yeah!
The way you build him up, his head must be in
the clouds.

GABRIELLE
It's not as if I'm making it up. He is a hero in the
truest sense of the word. It doesn't bother you,
does it?

XENA
Oh, it doesn't bother me.

GABRIELLE
Well, you should hear me tell stories about you. Then
I really get going. You know, I wonder what he's
into here. All his message said was, 'Come quick.'

A group of villagers walk by.

GABRIELLE
Excuse me. Excuse me, sir.

HURRIED VILLAGER
Sorry, I can't talk. I gotta get to court.

They leave.

XENA
Let's try in there.

GABRIELLE
A tavern? Xena, that is the last place we would
find Meleager. I did mention his, you know, small
drinking problem.

XENA
Yes, but he conquered it just in time to save your village.

GABRIELLE
Yes, he did. And think about how much strength
that took.

XENA
It's a hard habit to break. I've seen men ruined
by liquor.

A group of men stumble out of the tavern.

GABRIELLE
Well, I don't like to mention that part. It's kind of
personal, even for Meleager the Mighty.

EXTRA
Meleager, huh?

XENA
Excuse me, we're looking for a friend.

SULLUS
Meleager's your friend?

GABRIELLE
He must be your friend, too. I'm sure you make
toasts to him all the time, right?

SULLUS
Toast this!

He draws his sword and attacks.

EXTRA
Come on!

GABRIELLE
Wait! Wait! I said we're friends of Meleager!

XENA
I think they've got that, Gabrielle!

Xena and Gabrielle fight the group of men.

XENA
(quietly) Don't move.

Xena throws a guy. The fight is over. Xena picks up Sullus.

XENA
Nice friendly little town.

SULLUS
If you're here because of Meleager, you're too late!

XENA
Late?

He passes out.

GABRIELLE
Late for what?

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Xena and Gabrielle enter the courtroom. Meleager stands in chains.

XENA
Why do I get the feeling that's Meleager?

MELEAGER
Gabrielle, I knew you'd come. Of course, I could've
used you before the verdict came in.

GABRIELLE
Wait a minute. This is a terrible misunderstanding,
sir? Your Honor?

ARBUS
The name is Arbus, Judge Arbus.

XENA
Arbus? I've heard of you. You're known as a just
and fair man.

ARBUS
Thank you. (to Gabrielle) And who are you to the
prisoner, young lady?

GABRIELLE
A friend. Whatever he did, I'm sure he didn't
do it.

MELEAGER
Mmmm.

GABRIELLE
Consider this! When we doubt that heroes exist
in this world, who do the optimists name? Hercules.
Meleager. This is a legend in his own time. The
man who slew one hundred warriors at the evil
Dalzcan, three hundred and seventeen at the
rogue Ligurius.

MELEAGER
Actually, it was, uh, Ligurius that had the one
hundred, all in the course of, uh, defending innocent
live naturally.

EXTRA
One hundred men?

GABRIELLE
The point being that this is a very good man and
a hero. And I, for one, would swear by him.

ARBUS
A very moving testament, young lady. But I cannot
allow justice to be swayed by the heart. The prisoner
has been found guilty of cold-blooded murder.
The sentence to be carried out in one turn of the
sand glass.

The sand glass in turned and the sand begins to run.

ARBUS
And the sentence...is death.

END OF TEASER



ACT ONE

Two guards walk by with the large sand glass. More men prepare the gallows.

EXTRA
Check the gates.

EXTRA
Thread the noose.

EXTRA
Secure the rope!

Meleager watches from inside the prison.

GABRIELLE
It couldn't have been a fair trial. If there had been
any real discussion-

MELEAGER
There's only one real discussion, whether to
hang me, behead me, or tear me limb from limb
in the public square.

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Inside the prison. Meleager is in a cell.

MELEAGER
They didn't have a blade big enough, the square
wasn't wide enough, so hanging wins. Lucky me.

GABRIELLE
Don't even think it. You're innocent, right?

MELEAGER
Of course I'm innocent, Gabrielle.

Xena stands in the shadows.

GABRIELLE
(to Xena) This trial was fixed. You heard him,
he's innocent.

MELEAGER
Apparently, your friend doesn't know me at all.

XENA
No, but I know Gabrielle. And even judges make
mistakes. So tell us what happened. Who got killed?

MELEAGER
Some guy I never even met before, name of Kalaman.
It was last winter. I had already left town when
it happened. I mean, I wasn't even here at the
time. I passed through again recently and Arbus
had me arrested. Suddenly, I'm center stage at
an inquisition!

GABRIELLE
This Arbus sounds like the 'hang him first, ask
questions later' type.

XENA
Not from what I've heard. Arbus tried Volkur the
Vicious. The people just wanted to tear him apart,
but Arbus insisted on a fair trial with lawful evidence.
From what I've hear, he's not someone who
rushes to judgment.

GABRIELLE
Maybe. You know how things get distorted, blown
out of proportion. What happened to Vulkur? Acquittal?

Xena turns to face Gabrielle. Gabrielle looks at Meleager who looks at her.

XENA
I'll go talk to Arbus.

Xena leaves.

MELEAGER
Yeah, you do that.

GABRIELLE
So, what have you been doing with yourself?

MELEAGER
Oh, this and that. Saving villages, defending the
helpless, getting convicted of murder.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena stands in front of the gallows.

HAWKER
Meleager's murder weapon, right here! An actual
reproduction of the possible murder weapon that
was never found!

Xena walks over to the Hawker.

HAWKER
Here you go, little lady, the perfect souvenir for
the occasion!

XENA
I'm not a little lady.

HAWKER
Oh, point taken, point taken. But these, um, these,
um, weapons and wooden toys. I've bought a
great keepsake!

Xena pushes the sword aside. An Elderly Woman enters.

ELDERLY WOMAN
Hey, move it down!

She shoves the men on the bench and sits before the gallows.

SLIM MAN
Hey!

ELDERLY WOMAN
I'm not missing this. A lovely day for an execution,
don't you think?

SLIM MAN
If you wanted a front-row seat, you should've
gotten here earlier!

ELDERLY WOMAN
Oh, yeah?

SLIM MAN
Yeah!

ELDERLY WOMAN
The execution of Meleager is for everyone, not
just you early-birds! I come when I want. Now
hush! I got knitting to do!

Arbus enters.

ARBUS
Quiet!

SLIM MAN
We've been waiting!

ARBUS
I said, 'Quiet!'

He stands on the gallows.

ARBUS
Now, listen to me, and listen good. This is an
execution, not a public spectacle! A man is
going to die here today! And I will not have that
cheapened by this kind of behavior! Any more of
it, the execution will take place behind locked doors!

The people are silent.

XENA
Some people have some pretty sick ideas
of entertainment.

ARBUS
Sadly, that can't be helped. It has nothing to do
with the reason I ordered this. If justice is to
mean anything, the people must see it in action.

XENA
I missed the trial, but I have heard of Meleager's
reputation. He's not known as a murderer. Mistakes
get made. I'm sure even someone as respected
as you can agree that.

ARBUS
You know my reputation as well, then. Just as
I know yours...Xena.

XENA
I guess formal introductions are out.

ARBUS
I'd heard you'd changed your ways, looking to
amend your past. All well and good, but I could
still call you to judgment for past crimes. But not
without proper evidence and witnesses, that's
the law.

XENA
Which brings us back to Meleager, a man with
no past crimes against his name.

ARBUS
One is all it takes. Believe me, the eye-witness
testimony was compelling.

XENA
Someone saw him do it?

ARBUS
Rena, come here. Tell her what you saw that night.

ELDERLY WOMAN
Well, it was late. Our mare was near giving birth, dear
thing. And I was hurrying towards the stable and-

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Kalaman stumbles out of the stable, clutching his side. He falls dead at the Elderly Woman's feet. Meleager stumbles out after Kalaman, a bloody sword in his hand (but the bloody sword is not his sword, which is in its sheath). Meleager leaves.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Square.

ELDERLY WOMAN
I saw it in his hand. It was covered in blood. I'm
sorry another man's gonna die, but that's what I
saw. I gotta get back to my seat, if that's okay?

ARBUS
You told the truth , Rena. You can be proud. Go now.

The Elderly Woman leaves.

ARBUS
Sometimes, the truth can be a heavy burden.

Arbus leaves.

XENA
Yes, it can.

Gabrielle enters.

GABRIELLE
Xena, I know what we have to do.

She pulls Xena aside.

GABRIELLE
Now, Meleager was camping with a guy when
the murder happened. He's some hermit. He
has one eye.

XENA
Meleager's eye-witness is a Cyclops?

GABRIELLE
He's not a Cyclops, he's just a one-eyed guy.
That can't-

XENA
Sounds like a wild goose chase.

GABRIELLE
What?

XENA
Maybe you should think about spending the time
between now and tomorrow with Meleager.

GABRIELLE
You think he's guilty?

XENA
I don't think he's being completely honest with you.

Gabrielle runs off.

XENA
Gabrielle. Gabrielle. Gab-

Xena stops calling after her.

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The prison. Gabrielle enters with a cart.

GABRIELLE
Hello, it's me again.

HEAD GUARD
What's in the cart? Your Warrior Princess friend?

They draw their swords. They pull off the blanket to see a mighty feast.

GABRIELLE
This is Meleager's last meal. Do you think it's enough?

The soldiers sheath their swords.

MELEAGER
Oh, Mmmm! Smells like I've died and gone to Elysia
already. Uh, bring it here!

HEAD GUARD
Wait! Boys, it's our job to sample everything.
Ha-ha-ha-ha.

He picks up wine bottles.

HEAD GUARD
What do you know? Something to wash it all down.

The soldiers eat the meal.

MELEAGER
You brought me wine?

GABRIELLE
I had a feeling it would never touch those lips.

HEAD GUARD
What goes with lamb? White or red?

He aughs.

EXTRA
Some for me.

EXTRA
Wash it down with this.

MELEAGER
It's bad enough that I'm gonna die, but my last
meal's disappearing before my eyes.

GABRIELLE
Just hang in there. Oh, sorry.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Later. The food is gone and the soldiers sleep. Gabrielle takes the keys.

GABRIELLE
A little calf chic kabob, chicken schwarma, in just
the right mix. You add a little wine...

Gabrielle lets out Meleager.

MELEAGER
Puts 'em out every time.

Meleager takes a sword.

GABRIELLE
Go! You find that one-eyed man and clear yourself.

MELEAGER
Gabrielle, you're gonna have to leave town. These
guys are not gonna be happy.

GABRIELLE
Don't worry about me. Go!

Meleager leaves. A soldier grabs Gabrielle.

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Xena visits Argo in the stables. Xena checks a saddle and finds blood. Gabrielle can be heard from outside.

GABRIELLE
Let me go!

Xena leaves the stable.

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Square. The villagers have surrounded Gabrielle and are furious.

GABRIELLE
Let me go! Get your hands off me!

Xena whistles. Xena stands on a bench and Argo exits the stable.

GABRIELLE
Let go. Quit pulling me!

Argo rears up and comes down on the bench. Xena flies up into the air with a yell. She lands in the middle of the circle and frees Gabrielle from the villagers' hands. She draws her sword.

XENA
Let her go! Get back! Get back!

Arbus enters.

ARBUS
Enough! Enough! There will be no lynching here!

GABRIELLE
Meleager is innocent! He's gone to find someone
who'll prove it!

ARBUS
He had every chance to prove it, young lady! Now,
I intend to hold you responsible for his escape!

XENA
I'll bring him back.

GABRIELLE
No, Xena!

XENA
But, she comes with me!

SULLUS
She let him go!

ARBUS
Very well! I'll trust you, Xena. But even I can't hold
this town back forever. I'll have to send men out
if you don't return!

Xena pushes Gabrielle forward.

XENA
Go! Go!

EXTRA
You better be right!

Xena and Gabrielle leave. Sullus stands next to Arbus.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena and Gabrielle ride.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
They stop at some woods. Xena dismounts.

XENA
He's headed north. That makes sense. The Gauls
won't care what his crimes are.

GABRIELLE
Xena, you've got to give him a chance. Please,
I'm begging you.

XENA
Don't make this more difficult than it already is.
I don't wanna bring him back, but I have to!

GABRIELLE
He is an innocent man.

XENA
You don't know that! I do have some questions
I wanna ask Arbus, but first things first, and
that means getting Meleager back. His running
won't help his case any.

GABRIELLE
Neither will his hanging.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Meleager rides. Xena and Gabrielle are right behind him.

GABRIELLE
Meleager, run! Into the woods! Hurry!

Meleager dismounts and runs into the woods.

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

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Meleager runs.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena stops and she and Gabrielle dismount. Gabrielle stands in front of Xena and holds up her staff.

GABRIELLE
No. You're gonna have to go through me to get
to him.

END OF ACT ONE



ACT TWO

XENA
Don't do this, Gabrielle.

GABRIELLE
Let's just walk away. We never even came to this
part of the country.

XENA
If Meleager is guilty, and I let him escape justice-

GABRIELLE
He is not guilty!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Meleager runs.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena turns to leave, but suddenly flips over Gabrielle with a yell.

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Meleager runs.

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Xena runs, but then starts to flip along the ground.

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Gabrielle turns and runs.

GABRIELLE
Meleager!

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Xena jumps over a low branch and runs.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Meleager runs.

XENA
Give it up, Meleager!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle runs.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena runs. Gabrielle can be heard yelling.

GABRIELLE
Xena! No!

Xena flips over a branch with a yip. She lands and draws her sword.

GABRIELLE
Run, Meleager!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Meleager runs. Gabrielle can be heard yelling.

GABRIELLE
Run!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle runs. Xena can be heard yelling.

XENA
I'm closing in on you, Meleager!

Gabrielle trips and falls.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena runs. She flips with a yell and lands in front of Meleager.

MELEAGER
I'll not use a sword on you, Xena.

He throws down his sword.

MELEAGER
But I can't let you stop me.

Meleager punches Xena in the face, but she doesn't move. She cracks her neck and drops her sword.

XENA
Well, I can't let you get away.

Xena punches him in the face and he stumbles back slightly. Gabrielle can be heard yelling.

GABRIELLE
Xena!

Meleager and Xena fight. Xena kicks him and sends him flying.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle walks about, trying to find them.

GABRIELLE
Xena!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Meleager looks up at Xena.

MELEAGER
You are so good! As good as I was once. But
you can't stack youth and ambition against age
and experience.

XENA
Oh, I have experience, too.

Xena flips into the air with her yell blaring. Meleager gets to his feet. They fight.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle looks for them.

GABRIELLE
Xena!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Meleager and Xena fight. Xena takes down Meleager.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle runs.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Meleager glares at Xena.

MELEAGER
I'm not going back.

XENA
Well, if not, it's Gabrielle who'll pay. Arbus will
hound her forever for freeing you. Is that what
you want?

Gabrielle runs in.

GABRIELLE
No!

Gabrielle stands between Xena and Meleager.

GABRIELLE
I won't let you do this.

MELEAGER
Gabrielle.

GABRIELLE
She's not taking you anywhere.

MELEAGER
Gabrielle, listen.

GABRIELLE
If I have to go in your place, I will.

MELEAGER
Gabrielle, stop! Stop it! There is no one-eyed
man. I ran because I'm guilty. I killed that man,
just as they said. Everything's a blur.I can't remember
details because I was...drunk at the time.

GABRIELLE
Drunk?

MELEAGER
He must have thought I was trying to rob him.

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Meleager is sleeping, bottle in his hand. He awakens. Kalaman rides in and stumbles off his horse.

MELEAGER (voice-over)
He came at me.

Kalaman attacks Meleager. The two struggle. Kalaman falls down and Meleager holds a bloody sword.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle and Xena listen.

MELEAGER
After I saw the lady, I ran. I held onto the sword.
I didn't even drop it. You can take me back. I won't
give you any more trouble.

XENA
It's late. We'll camp here and head back in the morning.

Xena leaves the two alone.

MELEAGER
I didn't want you to know I started drinking again.
I thought I could handle just one. Then it was another
and another. I thought I-

Gabrielle walks off.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Night.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Camp. Xena moves over to Meleager.

MELEAGER
Xena, will you tell Gabrielle I'm sorry?

XENA
You should tell her yourself.

MELEAGER
I tried, but she never wants to hear from me again.
I can't blame her. I really screwed up when I lied
to her.

XENA
Which lie? The one about the drinking, or the one
about the killing?

MELEAGER
I deserve that. But I betrayed her faith and turned
her against you, her best friend. Hanging's too
good for me.

XENA
Out of curiosity, how did those simple villagers
catch you anyway? Were you drunk then?

MELEAGER
No, I haven't touched a drop since that night. No,
to fight my way free, I would have hurt some
innocent people. They were only doing what they
thought was right.

Xena moves off.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle brushes Argo.

XENA
Argo's fed, watered, and so brushed she shines.

GABRIELLE
I'm keeping busy.

XENA
Keeping away from Meleager, you mean. He
needs a friend now more than ever.

GABRIELLE
Friends don't lie. You were right, he wasn't being
honest. I'm sorry for not believing you.

XENA
That's not an issue. You and I have plenty of time
to talk about it, but Meleager's not so lucky. Besides,
I can't help wandering if you're more angry at him
or yourself. You put people on a pedestal, sooner
or later, they're gonna fall, and your expectations
fall with them.

GABRIELLE
I put people on a pedestal?

XENA
Meleager's made his mistakes, drunk and sober.
Tomorrow he might have to pay for one. At least
talk to him. If you don't, you'll regret it. You don't
deserve that guilt.

Xena moves off. Gabrielle stops brushing Argo.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle steps beside Meleager at the fire.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The sun rises.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The three and Argo walk along. Gabrielle and Meleager laugh.

XENA
Meleager, when you saw Kalaman get off his
horse, did he look all right?

MELEAGER
Yeah, I guess so, I don't know. It's hard to remember.
But, I think he stumbled a bit. But if you're asking
me whether he fell on his sword, I wish I could say
yes. That witness wasn't wrong about what she saw.

GABRIELLE
But, she didn't actually see you kill Kalaman.

MELEAGER
The bloody sword was in my hand, so, I would
say that was the tip off.

XENA
Well, someone told me it was never found. What
happened to it?

MELEAGER
Next morning, I woke up in a cave with it beside
me. I don't know why I held onto it. It was a clumsy
skull-encrusted monstrosity.

Xena stops.

XENA
Kalaman was a big man, burly. Butt-ugly in a
good light?

MELEAGER
Yeah, you knew the guy?

Xena catches an arrow before it hits Meleager in the face.

MELEAGER
Whoa! Nice catch!

XENA
Gabrielle, get down!

Gabrielle does. Xena catches a second arrow before it hits Meleager in the face.

MELEAGER
Second round!

Meleager drops. Xena sees Sullus in the tree with a crossbow.

XENA
Meleager, don't move!

Xena leaps onto of him and catches the third arrow in her teeth before it hits Meleager in the face.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sullus is mad.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena gets up.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sullus gets another arrow ready.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena runs.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sullus gets another arrow ready.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena flips into the tree with a yell. She lands behind Sullus.

XENA
You dropped these!

Sullus starts to drop down out of the tree. Xena picks up a noose and laughs. She throws it down after Sullus who is falling out of the tree. Xena jumps out of the tree with her yell blaring. The rope catches Sullus around the chest and holds him as Xena lands. Xena chuckles as she moves over to him.

SULLUS
Let me go! I'm supposed to bring Meleager in!

GABRIELLE
Dead or alive?

MELEAGER
More dead than alive, apparently? Long arm of
the law, I take it?

SULLUS
An execution's an execution, whether it takes place
here or in town! I'm within my rights!

XENA
You tell Arbus that I said I would bring Meleager
in. (to others) Let's go.

Xena leaves. Meleager is about to hit Sullus, but he just spins him around instead.

SULLUS
Wha. Wha.

MELEAGER
Excuse me if I have mixed feelings at the moment,
but, you just saved me from an execution to take
me back for my execution?

SULLUS
Cut me down!

XENA
I'm not taking you back. Not yet.

GABRIELLE
Where are we going?

XENA
Meleager's cave.

GABRIELLE
Why?

XENA
I wanna see that sword.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Meleager, Xena and Gabrielle move into the cave.

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

MELEAGER
There it is, right where I left it.

Xena picks up the sword.

GABRIELLE
Xena, if you bring it back, it'll be more evidence
against Meleager.

XENA
No it won't. Because now I know you're innocent.
You didn't kill that man. I did.

END OF ACT TWO



ACT THREE

XENA
It was last winter when Gabrielle was at the Athens
Academy. On the road outside Corener, I saw-

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kalaman fights a man.

XENA (voice-over)
-I saw this Kalaman attacking an unarmed man.

Xena dismounts Argo and fights Kalaman.

XENA (voice-over)
We fought.

Xena stabs Kalaman with his own sword.

XENA (voice-over)
When it was all over, he'd taken his own sword
right through his chest.

Xena moves to help the man Kalaman was fighting.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cave.

XENA
His horse must have headed instinctively back
to the stable, where Meleager and the witness
lady crossed paths with him. I was at the stable
earlier, and I noticed some dried blood on a saddle,
but I didn't think anything about it until you told
your story. Nobody could have suspected that he
was already dying at my hand.

MELEAGER
Gabrielle, I wasn't lying, at least I didn't know I
wasn't lying. I am innocent.

GABRIELLE
How are we going to prove this to Judge Arbus?

XENA
The little guy that Kalaman was trying to kill could
prove it. He was scared witless and kept raving about
some more assassins coming after him.

MELEAGER
Why would he be a target?

XENA
Ah, he wouldn't say. I told him about a hiding place
my men used to use.

MELEAGER
You think he's still there?

XENA
There's one way to find out. You two stay here.
Once I have him, I'll bring him back to Arbus.

Xena leaves.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Town.

ARBUS
I thought Xena was a woman of her word. Now,
it looks as though she's siding with Meleager.

SULLUS
I tried! But she's just too...too...Xena!

The Executioner enters.

EXECUTIONER
I believe someone here sent for me.

ARBUS
Ah, the executioner. Welcome, welcome. There's
been ay, uh, a slight delay. So, there's no point
in getting ready just yet. Why don't you go change
into some comfortable clothes? I'll call for you
when we're ready.

EXECUTIONER
These are my comfortable clothes. I'll be at
the inn.

He leaves.

ARBUS
(to Sullus) Gather the men. This time, I'll lead them
myself. I will make sure that justice is carried out.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arbus rides with a group of men to where Xena and Sullus fought.

SULLUS
This is where they left me. This is the place. There's
the rope I told you about.

ARBUS
This way!

They ride off.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena rides. She stops and dismounts before a small camp. The fire is still burning. Xena looks about. Elysha tries to attack her but Xena grabs his club and holds him before her.

ELYSHA
Go away!

XENA
I'm not going to hurt you. Remember me? I saved
you from that assassin.

ELYSHA
How do I know you haven't taken the job for yourself?

XENA
'Cause if I had, you'd already be dead. I see you've
made yourself quite at home.

ELYSHA
No choice. I figure I'm safer here. That man must
think I'm dead, still. And that's why he didn't send
another assassin.

XENA
Who? Who thinks you're-

ELYSHA
Who?! The power-hungry hypocrite who pretends
he's a man of justice. But I know the truth.

XENA
Judge Arbus?

ELYSHA
Judge Arbus built his career on the Volkur case. But
here's the kicker. It wasn't Volkur. Arbus executed an
innocent man and he knew it. All for his reputation.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cave. Meleager enters with his saddlebag. Gabrielle is writing.

GABRIELLE
Don't go outside. When Xena says to stay put,
she means right where she left us.

MELEAGER
I don't think anyone saw me. As long as you're
scribing, I'd like to dictate my last will and testament.

GABRIELLE
Don't be silly.

MELEAGER
I'm not being silly. Do it. Write it. These are my
belongings. Everything in the world I own is in
here. Mostly just trinkets given to me by villagers
for saving their lives. Small things.

GABRIELLE
It doesn't matter how valuable they are, as long
as it's priceless to you. Besides, you wouldn't
have carried it all around with you.

MELEAGER
You're right. They are priceless to me. Okay. I, Meleager
the Mighty, bequeath all these, my worldy-

GABRIELLE
Slow down.

MELEAGER
Priceless possessions to my family. To you. You're
the closest thing to a daughter I've ever known,
Gabrielle. Anyway, just write it down.

She does.

MELEAGER
Good, that's done. Did you hear something? Nah,
that couldn't be Xena already.

Meleager is knocked out by Sullus. Arbus and his men enter.

END OF ACT THREE



ACT FOUR

Xena moves into the cave.

XENA
Meleager. Gabrielle?

ELYSHA
Whoa! Someone had a heck of a party in here!

XENA
Arbus. He's got them.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle and Meleager are in the cell. They watch two get ready for Meleager's hanging. The sand runs out.

EXTRA
How much longer?

EXTRA
Over here!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arbus sits and waits.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena rides. Elysha falls off of Argo.

XENA
Come on, we don't have time.

ELYSHA
No, no. No way! I'm not going back.

XENA
Well, if you don't, some innocent people are going
to die!

ELYSHA
I thought you were taking me to Athens, or someplace
to testify. But you're going back there! No way. Arbus
owns that town. Arbus is that town.

Elysha runs. Xena rides after him.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The cell.

GABRIELLE
Postpone the execution. Xena is on her way here
with proof that Meleager didn't do it!

ARBUS
I'm sorry. He was found guilty, and the people
demand justice.

GABRIELLE
This isn't about justice. If it were, you would wait.

ARBUS
Say your good-byes. You don't have much time.

Sullus enters as Arbus is leaving.

ARBUS
Post archers on every gate and parapet. If Xena
shows, kill her!

Arbus leaves.

SULLUS
You heard Judge Arbus, come on!

All but two guards leave.

GABRIELLE
Xena will get here, you'll see.

MELEAGER
Arbus will hang us both. It's best she doesn't get
here. Look, Gabrielle, when the time comes, don't
look outside.

GABRIELLE
I have to. I want you to look at me. I want the last
face that you to see in this world to be a friend.

He hugs her. Guards enter and unlock the cage.

HEAD GUARD
If you give us any more trouble, we'll settle this now.

MELEAGER
I wouldn't give you the satisfaction.

They take Meleager away.

EXTRA
Let's go!

GABRIELLE
No!

Gabrielle is left in the cell. Everyone leaves.

EXTRA
There he is!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle looks outside.

EXTRA
Make him pay!

EXTRA
You deserve it!

The sand runs out.

EXTRA
It's over now!

EXTRA
It's over.

Men stand watch.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Executioner rests.

EXTRA
Executioner! It's time!

The Executioner gets up a takes one of his black cloaks. He laves. Xena's hand comes in the window and she grabs the other cloak.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle watches. Meleager is lead to the gallows. Arbus sits on a throne-like chair. The Executioner stands ready.

ARBUS
Clear the gate.

The Executioner opens the gate. There's nothing underneath.

SULLUS
The gate is clear.

The gates is closed. Meleager stands on it. The Executioner puts the rope on his neck. Meleager looks to Gabrielle who smiles. Meleager nods. Arbus nods. The Executioner pulls the level and Meleager drops through the hole. He's dead. Gabrielle starts to cry. The Executioner pulls back his hood to show it's really him. Xena had not taken his place.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arbus and Sullus move into a room.

SULLUS
What about Xena and the girl?

ARBUS
Tell the archers to stay at their posts. We'll try the
girl for setting Meleager free in the morning.

Four soldiers bring in Meleager's body in a coffin and set it on a table.

ARBUS
Go now.

Everyone leave. Arbus picks up a scroll and writes as he speaks.

ARBUS
Cause of death...justice.

MELEAGER
Is that what you said about Volkur the Vicious?

ARBUS
Who's there? Who's there?

Meleager rises.

ARBUS
You're dead! You've crossed to the other side!

MELEAGER
The guilty can never escape the dead, Arbus. This
will never end for you, unless you confess you
killed an innocent man.

Villagers enter.

ARBUS
I don't care how many innocent people die. If I
pass judgment, that makes it right!

Xena stands behind Arbus, wearing the Executioner's robe.

ARBUS
You, do your job, kill him!

Xena takes off the cloak.

XENA
I never did the first time.

ARBUS
I don't understand. I saw him hanged. I saw the
executioner do it!

XENA
Don't believe everything you see.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena is under the gate, wearing the black robe.

ARBUS
Clear the gate.

The gate is opened. Xena can't be seen since she's in the black robe.

SULLUS
The gate is clear.

The gate is closed. Meleager drops but his feet land on Xena's shoulders. Meleager opens one eye and looks about. He closes it and pretends to be dead.

XENA (voice-over)
Fortunately, Meleager-

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The room.

XENA
-catches on quick.

MELEAGER
Not that quick. Rope burn.

XENA
Oh.

Arbus pushes past Xena.

ARBUS
I gave you all what you wanted, law and order!
Without me, you are sheep! All of you! Lawlessness
will rein! Anarchy!

Xena grabs him.

XENA
Come now, Judge Arbus. For your last official
act, you're gonna pardon a friend of ours.

Xena shoves him.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena enters the prison with Meleager. Arbus is in chains.

XENA
Gabrielle.

GABRIELLE
(doesn't face them) You're too late.

MELEAGER
For what, what did I miss?

Gabrielle turns and Meleager unlocks the cell. Gabrielle runs to him laugh and hugs him.

GABRIELLE
You're alive!

Xena kicks Arbus into the cell. Gabrielle hits Meleager's in the chest.

GABRIELLE
You made me think you were dead!

MELEAGER
Well, I practically was. Xena, that was close.

XENA
Yeah, well I'm sorry. We had no time to warn you, Gabrielle.

Gabrielle hugs them both.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Village.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Meleager cuts down the gallows.

MELEAGER
See you guys.

GABRIELLE
Bye, Meleager.

Gabrielle and Xena walk past the Elderly Woman who holds a little Meleager doll hanging on a rope.

GABRIELLE
When I'm that age, I hope I'm knitting socks.

XENA
Ah, don't worry about it. People in our line of work
never get to be that age.

GABRIELLE
That's a comforting thought.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle and Xena ride.

END OF ACT FOUR

STARRING
Lucy Lawless as Xena
Renee O'Connor as Gabrielle

GUEST CAST
Tim Thomerson as Meleager
Tony Blackett as Arbus
Douglas Kamo as Sullus
Ranald Hendriks as Elysha
Ann Baxter as Elderly Woman
Matthew Jeffs as Head Guard
Patrick Kuhtze as Other Guard
Dean Stewart as Executioner
Colin Francis as Hurried Villager
Alvin Fitisemanu as Hawker
Jonathon Acorn as Slim Man

Written by: Paul Robert Coyle
Directed by: Garth Maxwell

Disclaimer: By popular demand "The Executioner" will bring back his comfortable lightweight cotton-flax blend robe in a variety of spring colors.