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“Death Mask”  Episode 23/123


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

X:  “Stop trying.”

G:  “Huh?”

X:  “Stop trying to.  It’s not something you can think your way
through.  It’s your body that has to listen.”

G:  “What if my body doesn’t hear the arrows?”

X:  “Then they’ve got you.”

G:  “I did it!”

X:  “Yes, you did.  Now, get back!”

G:  “Now, how did I do that?”


X:  “I guess you don’t need my help.”

G:  “Not this time, but stay close.”

X:  “Where’d you get this mask?  Who sent you?  That pinch to
the neck cuts off the blood to your brain.  If I don’t relieve
you, you’ll be dead in 30 seconds.  Now, who gave you the mask?
His name-- say it.”

Assassin [Ass]:  “Cortese.”

G:  “Who’s Cortese?”

X:  “Where is he?  Where?”

Ass:  “He’s attacking the village-- across that ridge.”

X:  “Cortese.”

G:  “Who is he, Xena?”

X:  “The men who attacked and razed my village to the ground
wore the mask of Cortese-- this mask.  I have never stopped
looking for him.”

G:  “So, he’s the one who made you so-- you know-- aggressive?”

X:  “It was fighting him that twisted me into what I became.
But now-- I have him.”



Warriors:  “Take no prisoners!  Kill the men!  Kill them all!
Goodbye, woman!  This village is ours!  You won’t get away from
me, witch!  Hah-hah!”

Sera [S]:  “Leia!  Where are you?!”

Leia:  “My dollie!”

G:  “No!”

S:  “Leia!  Leia!”

G:  “Are you OK?”

S:  “Thank you!  Thank you!”

War:  “Easy, girlie!”

Malik [M]:  “Retreat!  Everybody out!”

War:  “Let’s go and retreat!”

Soldiers:  “We’re too late, again!”  “They’re into the border
woods!”  We’ll never catch them!”

G:  “What are you doing?!  Go after them!”

Aescalus [Aes]:  “I’d love too, believe me.  But those woods
mark the border I can’t cross.  Nor do I even have enough men to
keep our boundaries secure.  You fought well.”


War:  “Let’s go-- hurry!”

Toris  [T]:  “Whoa.”

War:  “This way!  Over here!”


Aes:  “It’s Cortese, all right.  He’s always one step ahead of


T:  “Xena.”


T:  “Malik!  Malik!  Malik!  Malik!  I know that woman.  Take me
to Cortese.  I can tell him everything he needs to know about

M:  “You?  Newcomers don’t meet Cortese, until they’ve earned
the privilege.  You speak to me.  I speak to Cortese.”

T:  “Her name is Xena.  She’s a-- a warrior from Amphipolis.”

M:  “I’m sure Cortese will be grateful for the information.”


M:  “My lord, Cortese.”

Cortese [C]:  “Malik, my friend-- there’s no need for my right
arm to kneel before me.”

M:  “My lord-- we had no time to gather the loot before the
king’s soldiers arrived.”

C:  “Why not?”

M:  “A woman-- I’ve never seen anyone like her-- with the
fighting skill and strength of--” 

C:  “Xena-- the Warrrior Princess, Xena-- my two assassins must
have failed.  Get up!”

M:  “You already know of her?”

C:  “I created her.”


G:  [Reproduces sounds arrow made when she blocked it with her
staff]  “And I hit it!  Did you see that?”

X:  “Mm-hmm.”

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

X:  “Do you think you could do it again?”

G:  “Yeah.  I think so.  I mean-- most of the time.  Well, if
you shot ten arrows at me, how many do you think I’d miss?”

X:  “Only one.”

G:  “Uh, that could be a problem, huh?  What’s he doing?”

X:  “I don’t know.”

G:  “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

X:  “He’s one of Cortese’s raiders-- alone.  Still, I don’t like
it.  Keep back.  All right, I’m close enough.”

T:  “Then stop-- unless, of course-- you wanna kill your



G:  “I thought you said your brother was killed by Cortese.”

X:  “No, that was my younger brother.  Gabrielle, this is my
older brother, Toris.”

G:  “Huh, you’re full of surprises.”

X:  “Toris has some surprises of his own.  That’s the mask of

T:  “That’s right.  It’s the only way I can get close enough
_to_ Cortese-- to kill him.”


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

X:  “So, you’re an assassin, now, huh?

G:  “It’s a start.”

T:  “It’s taken me years to find Cortese.  Now that his raiders
are starting to trust me, I’m almost close enough to kill him,
which is why I want _you_ to stay out of this.”

X:  “I can help you bring him to justice.”

T:  “He’ll find justice at the end of my sword.”

G:  “Wing, thigh, breast?  Who wants what?”

X:  “He likes drumsticks.  Gabrielle, go and see if Argo needs
to be fed, would you?”

G:  “Argo?  He can-- right-- checking on Argo.”

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

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

X:  “And what did you see?  Someone had to step forward.
Cortese would have slaughtered us all if we hadn’t fought.”

T:  “If our people had followed me to the hills--”

X:  “Cortese would’ve hunted us down like dogs!  I had to make a
stand, and I wasn’t the only one who believed that!”

T:  “That’s right.  Our brother believed it.  Lyceus stood by
you to the end.  And it was his end-- remember?”

X:  “I said ‘fight’ because it was _our_ village.  Lyceus
believed in that, and I would say it again.”

G:  “Argo is-- fed?”

X:  “Gabrielle, that mother whose baby you saved the other

G:  “Yeah.”

X:  “Ask her to put you up for a few days.  You know, guard the

G:  “Huh-- oh no.  No, no-- that’s your way of saying, ‘It’s too
dangerous to be around me right now, Gabrielle.’  Well, have you
ever considered that there _isn’t_ a safe time to be around you?
Now, that village doesn’t need my help, but you might-- and I’m
going with you.  Now, if that’s all, I’ll just be practicing
with my staff-- end of discussion.  Sorry you had to witness
that, Toris.”

X:  “How close are you to Cortese?”

T:  “I’m new.  I have to earn their trust.  My leader is his
lieutenant-- a butcher named Malik.”

X:  “Then we’ll start there.  I need to look around Malik’s

T:  “No, no, no, no, no, no, no-- too dangerous.  You don’t know
what these monsters do to women.”

X:  “No-- I’m counting on it.”


[Warriors sparring and conversing in the background]

M:  “Well-- look what I’ve captured, boys!  Cortese will be very
pleased to see my gift to him.”

T:  “This time, you have to take me to Cortese.  I brought him
the warrior.”

M:  “’Have to’?!  I don’t have to do anything.  This prize is
mine.  And I will take the time that I need.”

T:  “I’m the one who has to take her to Cortese.”

M:  “There seems to be some confusion about who I am, and who
you aren’t.  There are two types of men who question me-- the
dead!  and the dying!  Which one do you wanna be, boy?”

T:  “I’m not questioning anything.  I just think Cortese should
hear how I managed--”

M:  “He’ll _hear_-- he’ll hear whatever I tell him.  Now, go
away.  The woman and I have to, uh-- talk-- before she meets our

T:  “Very well-- you’re in control-- [Aside] for now.”

M:  “You keep walking, boy!  And if I ever see your face again,
I’ll hang it over the cooking fire!”


M:  “Now, my dear-- let’s not waste time with, uh-- senseless
pleas of mercy or, silly games.  Right to it, shall we?”

X:  “Have it your way.  Right to it-- I like that.”


T:  “It shouldn’t take this long.  Where is she?”

G:  “She’ll be here.”

T:  “It’s a stupid idea-- she’s outnumbered and alone.”

G:  “How many warriors in that camp?

T:  “15, maybe 20.”

G:  “She’ll be here.”

T:  “What are you doing?”

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

T:  “She’s doing to you what she did to our village.”

G:  “Excuse me?”

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

G:  “If you hate here so much, then why are you worried about
her now?”

T:  “What do you mean, worried?”

G:  “Xena!  Are you all right?!  You took so long?  You see, now
that’s worry.  Hey!  Hey-- how’d it go?”

X:  “It went fine.”

T:  “By the luck of the gods, you could’ve destroyed everything
I’ve worked on.”

X:  “I still might.  Did you know that Malik uses messenger

T:  “Sure, he uses them to communicate with the other raiding

X:  “Then, why do they carry the Royal crest?”

T:  “Malik must have a spy inside the king’s household.”

X:  “Well, if he does, he’s reporting everything straight to

G:  “No wonder they can’t catch him.  You know, the king should
be told.”

T:  “He doesn’t just see anybody.  And the castle’s pretty well

X:  “I have my ways of getting in.  Hey.”

G:  “Oh, I know.  It’s-- easier to get two in than three.  I’ll
just go-- guard some villagers or something-- even if they’re
not in danger.”


Aes:  “What’s the problem?  How did you get this far?  I had
guards posted.”

X:  “Oh, they’re lying around somewhere.  I need to talk to the
king, and I don’t like formalities.”

Aes:  “You were in that village earlier.  Tell me what you have
to say to the king, and I’ll see what I can do.”

X:  “I’m not that trusting.”

Aes:  “Neither am I.”

T:  “The bandit Cortese has a spy inside the castle!”

Aes:  “Come.”


Aes:  “Your weapons.  Wait here.”

X:  “It was dangerous speaking out like that, Toris.”

T:  “It got us in here.”

X:  “And what if Aescalus had been the spy?”

C:  “But, Aescalus, isn’t the spy.  The king is the spy.
Recognize me, Xena?  It’s been a while.”

X:  “Cortese.”



C:  “Oh, come now.  You must have something to say-- after all
this time and effort-- just to see me.”

T:  “Yes, Cortese-- You’re dead!”

X:  “No!”

C:  “That’s just one of the surprises in this room.  Don’t try
it again!  So-- what do you think of my little operation?”

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

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

X:  “I said it was cunning; I didn’t say I liked it.”

T:  “You murdering harpie!”

C:  “Careful!  You’re talking to the legal regent of this land.
Cortese-- now-- he’s a murdering harpie.”

X:  “So, what’s next?  You haven’t killed us, and you’re not
talking just to hear the sound of your own voice.”

C:  “The people are getting tired of my army losing.  My army is
getting tired of losing.”

X:  “Your army doesn’t know who you are.”

C:  “They’re loyal to the king.  But, they need a victory.  And,
they can’t have Cortese, of course.  So, I’m gonna give ‘em the
next best thing-- his second-- in-command-- the evil Warrior
Princess, Xena.  Guards!”

Guards:  “Open the doors!”  “Knock it down!”

T:  “I can’t hold them!”

X:  “Then let them in.”

T:  “What?!”

X:  “Open the door.  Let’s go!”


Sold:  “Halt!”

T:  “I think we can take ‘em out.”

X:  “No, we can’t kill them.  They’re the good guys, remember?
That window behind them.”

T:  “How do we get to it?”

X:  “Remember this, Toris?  Come and get it!  Let’s go.”

C-as-King [C/K]:  “I want them for execution by morning!”

Aes:  “What time?”


M:  “He wants them for execution by the morning.  Avoid the
soldiers-- they’ll be looking, too.  Move!”

Warriors:  “All right!”  “Come on.”  “Come on.”  “Let’s go.”


G:  “OK-- let’s try it again.  OK.  Xena!  I’m glad you’re all
right.  Hey, Sera-- this is my friend Xena who I told you
about-- and her-- her brother-- Toris.  This is my little friend
and warlord, Leia.”

X:  “Sera, I need to speak to your village elders.  Can you
bring them back here?  It’s very important.”

S:  “I’ll try.”

G:  “What’s going on, Xena?”

X:  “The good king and Cortese are one and the same.”

G:  “Not happy news.  What are you gonna do?”

T:  “We could’ve murdered him-- but we didn’t.”

G:  “Murder-- you can’t just murder someone.”

Toris:  “As if you know the difference between murder and


X:  “Toris.”

T:  “How do you put up with that girl?”

X:  “Why?  She knows more about wisdom and justice than you’ll
ever know.”

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

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

T:  “No, no, no, no-- you don’t get it!  You stayed because you
cared for us all!  I left because-- because I was--”

X:  “-- because you were afraid.”

T:  “I was afraid I would die!  That was all I could think of!
I mean, I cared about you, and Lyceus, and Mother, but-- I was a

X:  “Murdering Cortese will not ease that guilt.”

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

X:  “You listen to me-- I already lost one brother to that
madman, and I’m not gonna lose another.”

S:  “Xena?  The elders are gathered.  You better come quick.”


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

Elder:  “The two of you did.”

G:  “Two of us-- yeah, well-- right-- but, mostly Xena--her.”

Elder:  “And we are truly grateful.  But still, she may not stay

X:  “The king and the raider, Cortese, are one and the same.”

Elder:  “But, that’s impossible.  The king is at war with

Woman’s Voice:  “This can’t be true.”

Elder:  “Now we hear that the army is searching for you, as well
as the raiders.  You’ll get this village destroyed!”

G:  “We’ll stay, and we’ll help you fight-- whatever it takes,
we’re with you.”

X:  “No, Gabrielle-- he’s right.  Cortese will only come here if
he knows I’m here.  We only stand and fight when we have to.”

Elder:  “And we appreciate it.”

G:  “Where’s Toris?”

S:  “He’s gone.  He said he had a debt to pay and that you’ll


T:  [Moaning]

X:  “Toris.”

T:  “It’s a trap.”

X:  “I know.  The wood is soaked with oil.”

M:  “There she is!  One arrow, and your brother dies in a ball
of fire.  Oh, yes-- I know he’s your brother.  You’d be
surprised what a man will say when he’s been tortured.  You’re
going to Cortese-- but first, there’s something that I owe you.
Wait!  This is Cortese’s pleasure-- and when he’s done with
you-- I’ll spit on your burning carcass.”



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

T:  “Why’d you have to follow me?  This is my time-- I told you

X:  “Your time?  What’s that supposed to mean?”

T:  “It means you should’a stayed out of this!  Do you know how
long I planned the moment when Cortese and I face off?!”

X:  “Things don’t always work out the way you want.”

T:  “What did it feel like-- after you had beaten Cortese?”

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

T:  “I’ve seen you kill, Xena.  What’s the difference?”

X:  “Maybe it’s just a difference in my head, but the pure evil
of murder is that ist’s premeditated.  It’s not in the heat of
battle.  And it’s not for self-defense.  You have been planning
this for years.  When the guards come back, we’ve gotta move.
Is something funny?”

T:  I’m sorry I got you into this mess, Xena-- but I’m glad
you’re with me.”

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

X:  “Very well-- go to the throne room.  You’ll find him seated
on the big, comfy chair.  Your king is Cortese.”


Aes:  “You’ll never get out of the castle alive!”

X:  “Oh, no?  Oh, we don’t have any intention of leaving.
First, you’re going to show me where the messenger pigeons are


S:  “Gabrielle!  Gabrielle!  Gabrielle!”

G:  “What is it?”

S:  “Gabrielle!  Your friends!  The king has them!’


T:  “Why don’t we just find Cortese?!”

X:  “’Cause I wanna stir the pot a little.  Now, where is the

Aes:  “I’d rather die.”

X:  “That can be arranged.  Now, where is he?”

Aes:  My king practices at the archery range outside the west
wall-- but you’ll never get there.”

X:  “We’d better split up.  Can you handle this?”

T:  “I’ll take care of him.”

X:  “Now we both know-- that you are protecting the king.  So
tell me where he really is.”


M:  “On your feet!  We’re to attack the castle immediately in
full strengh!  Go!”

Warriors:  “Yes, sir.”  “Come on.”

M:  “At last.”


T:  “Cortese!  Where are you?!”

Sold:  “Huh?”

T:  “The captain lied, and Xena knew it!”


M:  “You are dead!”


G:  “Where’s Xena?!”

T:  “Xena!”

G:  “Xena!”

X:  “Go get your men.  Go!”

T:  “You deceived me!”

X:  “Fight now-- talk later.  Cortese, order the raiders to drop
their weapons.”

C:  “Someone, kill her!  Take a good look at my chakram,
Cortese.  It’ll be the last thing you ever see, if you don’t
tell them now.

C:  “Wait!  Give your weapons to the soldiers.  Surrender!”

War:  “Surrender?”

C:  “I’m ordering you!”

M:  “No!:

X:  “There’s only one man with the power to make them do that!”

Aes:  “Cortese.”

M:  “No!  You betrayed us!”

T:  “You knew he was lying, didn’t you?  You wanted him to

X:  “You’re so hungry for that blood you’ll never wash off--
here he is.  Everything I hated about me, you’re determined to
make of yourself.  Go on-- do it.  And then tell me how much
better you feel about yourself.  Lyceus would have been proud.”


T:  “I feel, ah-- so free-- after so long.  In all the rush, I
forgot to tell you something.  I missed you.”

X:  “I guess you had other things on your mind.”

T:  “The wrong things.  Thanks for setting me straight.”

X:  “Oh.  What now?”

T:  “It’s time I came full circle.  I’m going back home-- to see

X:  “That’ll make her very happy.  Tell her I said-- just tell
her you saw me.”

T:  “Maybe you could come with me.”

X:  “No, not yet-- besides, Gabrielle and I are headed the other

T:  “I understand.  After so long, I should bring Mother some
kind of gift.”

X:  “You already are.”

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