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The Moon Stone Ring

by Sherrie Johnson (a.k.a. TrueBlue)

Fade in.

Daylight. Raiders are attacking a village as the villagers feebly attempt to defend themselves. Xena, on Argo, and Gabrielle enter the battle scene, Xena swinging her sword and Gabrielle her staff. Xena takes out several raiders. As she approaches another raider one of the villagers cries, "Xena!" and attacks her. Xena fends him off but soon has a couple more villagers on her. Gabrielle comes to her aid and the two drive the men off.

Gabrielle: "Can't they see we are trying to help?" (fends off a blow)

Xena: "I attacked this village years ago with my army. Apparently they still remember me".

Xena spots a young boy about to be cut down by a raider as his mother screams from some distance away.

Fade to commercial.

Fade in.

Xena breaks away from the villagers and blocks the sword strike that would have killed the boy. She takes the raider out and the boy runs to his mother. The villagers who are after Xena and Gabrielle notice Xena save the boy.

Gabrielle: "We are here to help! We need to fight together against the raiders!"

The villagers, confused, stop attacking Xena and instead go after the raiders. The leader of the raiders calls a retreat and the raiders run from the village.

The villagers cheer and then one of the men suspiciously walks up to Xena. He extends a hand.

Villager: "Xena. You have returned but this time you helped to defend the village. (pause) Thank you".

Xena accepts his hand and shakes it. The villagers, wary of Xena, quietly disperse.

Xena turns and adjusts Argo's saddle.

Gabrielle: "Are we leaving?"

Xena: "I'm not really welcome here Gabrielle".

The mother of the boy who Xena saved approaches.

Mother: "You are welcome by me. You saved my son. How can I thank you?"

Xena: "You don't need to thank me. I'm just glad I could help" (Xena and Gabrielle turn and start to walk away).

Mother: "Please, at least let me serve you dinner at my home. Leg of lamb...fresh figs...homemade nut bread...".

Gabrielle stops. She turns to look over her shoulder at the woman.

Gabrielle: "Nut bread? With dates?"

Mother: "Of course".

Xena turns to urge her companion along the road out of town but Gabrielle is already skipping over to their host, commenting that it would be impolite to turn down a such a gracious offer. Xena sighs and follows behind.

Fade out.

Fade in.

The scene is the interior of the woman's small home lit by a fire in the fireplace. The dishes from a fine dinner still sit on the table and the woman, her young son and two young daughters sit enthralled beside the hearth as Gabrielle tells another story. Xena lounges in a corner enjoying the scene. Gabrielle winds up her story and her audience applauds. The mother orders the girls upstairs to the loft to bed. The girls groan and complain that they want to hear more of Gabrielle's stories. Gabrielle promises to tuck them into bed and the girls, who are completely charmed by the bard, agree and climb the ladder to the loft with Gabrielle behind The mother then sends the boy off to the barn to sleep for the night so Xena and Gabrielle can have his bed. Xena protests but the mother insists and the boy promptly scampers out of the house. Xena concedes the fight and helps the woman clear the dishes from the table.

Xena: "Thank you for dinner".

Mother: "Thank you for saving my son".

Xena puts away some items in the cupboard and notices that it is empty. They have eaten everything in the house. Something like sadness crosses Xena's face.

Xena: "Where is your husband?"

Mother: "He died some years ago when my boy was barely two years old and the girls were just infants".

Xena: "You haven't remarried?"

Mother: "He was my one true love. A wonderful man and a marvelous father. No, I haven't remarried".

Xena: "I'm sorry he died".

Mother: "You are?"

Xena: (surprised) "Yes".

Mother: (a beat) "You killed him".

Close up of a stunned Xena.

Fade out to commercial.

Fade in.

Xena quickly moves to an open window and leans her head out to breath the fresh night air.

Xena: "In the raid..."

Mother: "My husband was trying to protect the family food stores. The harvest had been poor that year and what little we did get had to last all winter. He raised a pitchfork to one of your men. You intervened and raised the sword that took his life. I watched it happen. (a beat) It was over in seconds".

Xena looks sick as she turns to quickly walk past the woman.

Xena: "We'll leave right away". (she calls up to the loft...somewhat desperately) "Gabrielle!"

Mother: " Please stay. I have heard that you changed. That you have turned to good. You now help people who are the victim of raiders." (Gabrielle quickly descends the ladder and steps beside her obviously stricken friend) "Valen has been raiding our village periodically for months. He has taken most of our grain and all of our cattle. We will surely starve this winter if he continues. You must help us".

Close up of Xena. Indeed. She must help.

Fade out.

Fade in.

The scene is the interior of Valen's tent. He is angerly throwing things around and growling viciously. One of his raiders approaches.

Raider #1: (timidly) "It was but one defeat General. We will conquer the village next time".

Valen: "That was Xena defending the village!" (growing more angry) "Xena! We can't attack while she is there!" (becoming suddenly sullen) "And before she leaves she will train the villagers to defend themselves against us. She knows how to defend a village, she used to raid them herself. And the villagers will pass on their new skills to the surrounding towns. Before you know it there won't be a village within a hundred leagues that we can successfully attack. I've seen it happen before. We've got to stop her".

Raider #1: (puffing up his chest) "I shall kill the warrior princess".

Valen: "You?" (he walks up to the raider smiling nastily) "You are going to kill her?" (Valen laughs and then angerly shoves the raider away) "Idiot! No, I have a plan to get rid of Xena" (off stage a commotion is heard coming from outside Valen's tent. Valen smiles.) "And it's unfolding already" (he quickly exits the tent with the raider following behind).

Cut to outside the tent. It is nighttime and very dark. A campfire lights the clearing and a bright moon shines in the sky. In the foreground two raiders punch and knee a man keeling on the ground between them. In the background Valen exits his tent and walks up to the prisoner who is doubled over on the ground. Valen grabs him by the hair and yanks the prisoner's head back, leans into his face and looks him in the eye.

Valen: "Where is the ring!"

Raider #2: "He just swallowed it a minute ago before we could get it from him".

Valen: (Releases the prisoner and moves into Raider #2's face) "So? Get it back".

A beat while the raider and Valen look at each other. Then the raider smiles evilly and draws his dagger.

Prisoner: "Nooo....!!!" (the prisoner is dragged screaming into the forest).

Valen: (to Raider #1) "Xena is too difficult to kill in a fight. And it is impossible for an assassin to get close enough to kill her when her guard is down" (Raider #2 returns. He is wiping off a small object with a dirty cloth and hands the object to Valen. Valen holds the object up and reveals it to be a gold ring with a shimmering gem) "Unless, of course, the assassin is someone she is already very...VERY close to".

Valen laughs. Close up of the ring which glows strangely in the moonlight.

Cut to Xena and Gabrielle crowded uncomfortably (and closely) together on a small bed. Gabrielle is snoring in Xena's face. Xena rolls over and puts the pillow over her face to block out the noise.

Fade out.

Fade in.

The scene is the next morning in the village square. Xena yawns and begins to drill the villagers; a motley crew holding pitchforks, sickles and even a few swords. Gabrielle directs other villagers in erecting barricades of sharpened logs around the village. Even the children help. A traveler limping on a crutch enters the town. Gabrielle goes over to him to help him down to the ground. He has a sword wound in his side. Xena steps up to examine the injury.

Gabrielle: "What happened to you?"

Traveler: "I was on my way to Creopolis when I was attacked by some robbers just down the road from here".

Xena: "Valen!"

Traveler: "They stole all my money and my horse. But they didn't get this" (the traveler smiles and pulls the ring we saw earlier out of his pocket).

Gabrielle: (looking at the ring and it's now dull gem) "It's a nice ring".

Traveler: "It's an engagement ring. I was going to Creopolis to give it to the woman I love".

Xena: (finishes bandaging the wound) "It's just a superficial cut. You should rest for a while though, you've lost some blood" (Xena steps away).

Gabrielle: "I guess your sweetheart will have to wait for your proposal".

Traveler: "No. No! I have a rival for her affections. He travels to Creopolis as well and plans to meet with her in a week to propose to her too. If I don't get to her first she may accept his invitation and I will lose her forever".

Gabrielle: "Xena and I will be in Creopolis in a week. But you should be well enough to travel by then".

Traveler: "No. I must return to the village of my father now. My family expects me to return in five days. They will surely send a party to look for me and I do not want my family traveling into that dangerous forest; not with those criminals stalking the woods. Without my horse I will have to leave tonight to return in time. Please...please take the ring and deliver it to my love in Creopolis for me. Please!" Gabrielle protests but the traveler slips it on her finger and looks at her pleadingly. Gabrielle: (smiles) "Oh, okay".

Gabrielle examines the ring on her finger and the traveler smiles evilly.

Fade out to commercial.

Fade in.

The scene is late in the day at Valen's campsite. Traveler is sitting under a tree holding his side and smiling at Valen who stands over him. Valen gives Traveler a congratulatory slap on the shoulder which causes the traveler to wince. Valen turns to assesses a map with some of his raiders and an old woman enters the clearing. Surprised that she has gotten this far into their camp without detection, the men turn and look at her.

Old woman: "Where is my ring!"

Valen: (turning back to his map) "Go away old woman. Be thankful I don't run you through".

Old woman: "The man who stole my ring lies dead outside your tent. Where is my moon stone ring!"

Valen: (still looking at his map) "He stole it from you and I stole it from him. It's mine now" (gesturing to Raider #1) "Escort the hag to the road and report to me the name of the guard who let her get by".

The raider strides over to the woman and grabs her by the arm and hauls her into the forest.

Old woman: (eyeing the raider) "You know where the ring is. Tell me".

Raider #1: "Yeah, right" (looking at the rags she wears) "And what are YOU going to give me if do?"

Old woman: "Oh something very valuable. Something very valuable indeed!"

Raider #1: (looks at her suspiciously, but with interest) "What".

Old woman: "A cure for the Curse of the Green Nettle".

Raider #1: "The Curse of the...? Ha! What's that? And why would I want a cure for it?"

Old woman: "Oh, there is green nettle all over this forest" (Raider #1 looks around briefly) "And if you get it on yourself..." (the old woman catches and holds the raider's gaze) "you get the most terrible, itching rash you've ever had". (the raider begins to scratch. The old woman holds his gaze more intently) "An itching, oozing, spreading rash" (the raider scratches more). "Men who get the Curse of the Green Nettle have been known to scratch their hides off".

The raider falls on the ground, scratching himself like crazy.

Raider #1: (desperately) "The cure?! What's the cure!!"

Old woman: "Tell me where the ring is!"

Raider #1: (resists divulging the information for a minute, but then cannot stop himself as he scratches himself madly) "A girl has it. She is traveling with a warrior named Xena and they are staying at a village just over those hills. Now tell me the cure woman!"

The old woman smiles.

Cut back to Valen's campsite.

Valen: (to Raider #2) "Good! She wears the ring. Now, when the moon rises tonight it's light will awaken the charm of the ring. The ring will take control of the girl's emotions and alter them according to its whim. But...tomorrow at midnight, when the moon is full, the charm becomes evil and the one who wears it becomes a murderous, blood-thirsty mad man...mad woman. The girl will be compelled to kill her companion and we will all celebrate the death of Xena!"

Raiders: "Hurray!"

Raider #1 bursts forth from the forest and madly races into the scene desperately scratching himself. Valen and the other raiders turn to watch Raider #1 as he whips off his helmet, armor and shirt and dives into a pile of manure next to the horses. Valen and the raiders look at each other in surprise and Raider #1, in great relief, begins to spread the manure all over his body. Cut back to Valen and the raiders who look on in disgust.

Gabrielle: "Yumm!"

Cut to Xena and Gabrielle's campsite that night. They are camped just outside of the village in a forest clearing. Xena is seated before the fire roasting a rabbit on a spit.

Gabrielle: "That smells good Xena. Is it almost done?"

Xena: "A little while yet".

Gabrielle steps into the middle of the forest clearing and looks up into the very dark night sky. It is cloudy and as we look up at the sky, which is framed by the circle of tree tops from the clearing, the clouds part and an almost full moon shines brightly among the stars. The moonlight shines down into the clearing and the ring on Gabrielle's hand begins to glow an eerie blue.

Cut to Xena turning their dinner on the spit. We hear Gabrielle start to cry. Xena looks up at the sound.

Xena: "What is it? What's wrong?"

Gabrielle: "The bunny".

Xena: "The bunny? I thought you liked roast rabbit".

Gabrielle: "No, the bunny! There it is just hopping along in the forest. Happy as can be. It's little bunny family at home waiting for it to return and then...wham! A chakrum comes flying from out of the blue and takes its little bunny head off!" (Gabrielle whimpers).

Xena: (licks her lips and greedily rubs her hands together) "Yep! And now it's happy little bunny chops for us".

Gabrielle wails. Xena is taken aback, not quite knowing what to do. She goes over and puts her hands on Gabrielle's shoulders.

Xena: "Hey, pull yourself together! This is foolishness".

Gabrielle turns, throws her arms around Xena and buries her head in Xena's shoulder as she wails even harder. Xena is completely stiff, not knowing how to respond. (Shot of the moon as it disappears behind some more clouds). Gabrielle snaps out of the spell.

Gabrielle: (walking over to the fire) "I'm starved! When will it be ready?"

Xena: "But what about..? What...? What...?"

Xena shrugs in confusion and walks over to the saddlebags that rest on a rock near Argo.

Xena: (pulling out two items that look like hotdogs from the saddlebags) "Here, I bought these sausages in the village. Why don't you snack on one until dinner is ready".

Gabrielle steps across the clearing as the moon comes out from behind the clouds. The light shines down on her and we see the ring glow pink. Gabrielle takes the sausage from Xena. The camera is on Xena as she turns to put the other sausage back in the saddlebag. We hear Gabrielle start to giggle. Xena looks back over her shoulder as Gabrielle starts to laugh harder.

Gabrielle: (holding up the hotdog-like sausage to show Xena) "Do you know what this looks like?"

Gabrielle begins to laugh hysterically and collapses on the ground in a fit of laughter. Close up of Xena who raises an eyebrow.

Fade out.

Fade in.

The scene is the next morning in the village square as Gabrielle fends off an attacker with her staff. It is a villager who is drilling his fighting skills. Xena stands beside Gabrielle and fends off another villager as well.

Xena: "So how did you sleep last night?"

Gabrielle: (fighting off another villager) "Pretty good. But by Zeus I did have some strange dreams".

Xena: (knocking back someone else) "You sure were acting strange".

Gabrielle is about to respond to Xena but she isn't concentrating on her fight and gets knocked to the ground. Gabrielle looks up to see a handsome young man on top of her. He smiles at her charmingly.

Young Man: "Hi".

Gabrielle: (smiling shyly back) "Hi".

Young Man: "Oof!"

Xena enters the shot as she unceremoniously pulls the man off of Gabrielle and dumps him to the side. She extends her hand to Gabrielle who accepts the lift up.

Xena: (gives Gabrielle a look to chastise her for her sloppiness...then to the villagers) "We'll take a short break".

Xena steps away and Gabrielle brushes the dirt from her clothes. The young man steps up to her.

Young Man: "Sorry about knocking you to the ground".

Gabrielle: "No, no. Don't be sorry. You did well".

Young Man: "There is going to be a celebration in the village tonight in honor of our newfound defense against our attackers. I sure would appreciate it if you would come with me".

Gabrielle smiles at the young man and he smiles back.

Fade out.

Fade in.

The scene is night time at the village square. The villagers are singing, dancing and eating. A folk band plays joyful music in the background and a bonfire lights the area. The camera pans up to the full moon that shines brightly in the night sky and then the camera pans down to Gabrielle and the young man, hiding behind a cart at the edge of town, as they make out on the ground with wild abandon. The ring on Gabrielle's glints a bright red. Cut to a shot of Xena who stands in the shadows and jealously watches Gabrielle and the young man. Gabrielle begins to tear at the man's clothes who happily helps to undo his dress. Xena steps out of the shadows to stand in front of them. Gabrielle and the young man snap apart. Xena grabs the man by the collar of his unfastened shirt and pulls him to her face.

Xena: (growling) "Get out of here!" (he scampers away).

Xena looks at Gabrielle and starts to walk away.

Xena: "Come on. It's late. Almost midnight. We have to be up early".

Gabrielle: (angerly) "Hey!" (Xena keeps walking. Gabrielle furiously follows her) "By the god Hades what do you think you're doing. I'm not going anywhere!"

Xena: (turning around to face Gabrielle. Giving her THE LOOK) "You're coming with me. You're not acting like yourself so I'm gonna' take care off you till you come to your senses".

Gabrielle: (incredulously) "Take CARE of me?" (too angry to be intimidated by THE LOOK Gabrielle shakes her fist at Xena). "This again? Well I'm an adult, remember?! I'll do what I want! When I want! And with whom I want!"

Gabrielle turns around, grabs her staff that leans against the cart and starts to walk away. Xena angerly grabs her shoulder and spins her back around. Gabrielle holds up her staff defensively. We see a quick shot of the full moon and then back to Gabrielle. The ring glints black on her hand.

Gabrielle: "I could kill you!"

Fade to commercial.

Fade in.

Gabrielle swings her staff hard towards Xena's skull. A startled Xena breaks most of the blow with her gauntlet but still receives a strong strike to the head. Gabrielle strikes a couple more times hitting Xena on her sword arm. Xena manages to draw her sword and fends off a couple more blows. Gabrielle knocks the sword from her hand and then Xena grabs Gabrielle's staff, yanks it from her grip, and throws it across the road. Gabrielle picks up Xena's sword, holds it ready to swing at Xena while Xena stands poised to dodge the blade...then Gabrielle lowers the sword.

Gabrielle: "What am I doing?"

Gabrielle looks down, shakes her head and steps back. Xena steps forward. The movement catches Gabrielle's eye and Gabrielle, in a hellish rage, raises the sword and lunges at Xena. Xena dodges the blade, disarms Gabrielle and knocks her to the ground. Xena jumps on top of her and the two struggle in the dirt although Xena appears to have the upper hand.

Off stage: "The ring!"

Xena looks up to see the old woman.

Old Woman: "The ring! It has possessed her! Get the ring off her hand!" Xena, still on top of Gabrielle, pins her arm down, rips the ring off her finger, and flings it into the road. Gabrielle stops struggling. She looks up at Xena. Tears well up in her eyes.

Gabrielle: "Xena, I'm sorry!"

Xena gives Gabrielle a hug and rolls off of her to collapse on the ground beside her. The old woman steps up to the ring and carefully picks it up with a stick. Xena helps Gabrielle off of the ground and they walk over to the old woman.

Old Woman: "The ring is magical. It controls the emotions" (she looks at Gabrielle) "It turned you into a killer".

Gabrielle: (shaking her head) "I couldn't stop myself".

Old Woman: (peering intently at Gabrielle) "But you did! You did stop yourself. I saw it! You held the blade up to the warrior and then you let it drop. No one can resist the power of the ring but YOU DID".

Gabrielle: "It's dangerous. It should be destroyed".

Old Woman: "You want the charm gone from the ring girl?"

Gabrielle: "Yes".

Old Woman: (holding the ring out on the stick toward Gabrielle) "Here, hold it".

Xena stiffens. Gabrielle steps back.

Old Woman: "Here, here! Take it!"

Gabrielle carefully takes the ring. The old woman quickly closes Gabrielle's hand around it and holds Gabrielle's fist firmly shut. Gabrielle shudders as rage starts to cross her face.

Old Woman: (intensely) "Push the rage down girl! Hold the power of the ring in your hand. Repeat after me..."

The old woman chants in a long dead language to Gabrielle which Gabrielle repeats.

Old Woman: "The words mean..."

Gabrielle: "I know what the words mean. I know that language".

Old Woman: (surprised, then intently again) "Then think about the words, and say them again".

Gabrielle repeats the chant and smoke begins to pour from between the fingers of her fist as she holds the ring.

Gabrielle: (wincing) "It's burning me!" (Xena steps closer in concern).

Old Woman: "Ignore the pain! Say the chant again!"

Gabrielle repeats the chant. The moon shines brightly. A burst of light explodes from Gabrielle's hand and the ring jumps from her grasp. The ring bounces onto the ground and rolls to a stop. Xena walks over and kneels down to the smoking ring, the gem now looking like a chunk of cement. She picks it up and hot-potatoes it to the old woman who catches the ring in one of the rags of her clothing. Xena goes over to inspect Gabrielle's hand but finds no injury.

Old Woman: "The magic is gone".

Xena: "You took the spell off?"

Old Woman: "Oh no. I am much too old and too feeble to dispel such a powerful curse" (she points at Gabrielle) "She did it".

The old woman steps up to Gabrielle and peers at her closely.

Old Woman: "This little one. She has a pure heart, a strong spirit, and a sharp mind. She could perform powerful magic someday if she ever decided to study it" (to Xena) "Send her to me if you ever need the help of some white magic".

The old woman gives the ring, which has cooled, to Gabrielle and starts to walk away.

Xena: "How will I find you?"

Old Woman: (pointing at Gabrielle) "She will find me".

The old woman departs. Gabrielle and Xena look at each other and then at the ring.

Close up of the ring.

Fade out.

Fade in.

The scene is daylight in the village square. Gabrielle stands beside Xena as Xena shakes hands with the village elders. Xena walks over to Mother and Gabrielle follows. She hands Mother the ring.

Xena: "Here. The stone is worthless but the band is well carved and made of fine gold. It will fetch a good price".

The mother nods her head in thanks. Xena, holding Argo's reigns, and Gabrielle turn to leave the village.

Gabrielle: "Sorry about the trying to kill you thing".

Xena: "That's alright. You weren't yourself. I'll tell you one thing though..." (Xena smiles at Gabrielle and rubs her bruised arm) "I sure am glad your on my side!"

Xena and Gabrielle smile at one another and walk off into the sunset.

Fade out.

The end.

Author's Note:

I saw Gabrielle and Xena fighting on a clip for the new season and thought I had better get this story idea down on paper quick before that episode came out and made my battle between Xena and Gabrielle obsolete. I cranked out this puppy in one late night session so I apologize for any inconsistences.

My original thought for this story was that at the end the old woman would meet an untimely demise curtesy of one of Valen's assassins. In her death scene the old woman would give Gabrielle her spell book leaving Gabrielle to figure out the spells on her own. I imagined a wealth of future material, especially of the comic variety, as Gabrielle experimented with the spells, like accidently turning Argo into a toad or inadvertently cursing Xena with a tiny sprite that constantly sang an annoying little jingle. But, I couldn't stray too far from XWP the show so until MCA starts asking me for my opinion (which they haven't done yet) I'll just have bend my ideas to fit their series the best I can.

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