The Heart Of The Matter
Written by: Caina Q. Fuller
Copywright: Caina Q. Fuller 2001.
Fade In-Rome, Day
Roman Arena. Two men fight in the arena. The better of the two warriors is LEDRICLES, the man who wants to be the next champion of Rome in Liviaís place. Augustus Caesar and a couple of his lapdogs watch the battle. Caesar doesnít seem to have much of an interest in the young warrior, and we will soon learn why.
My Lord. Ledricles is quite the warrior.
Do you think he will be Romeís
Ledricles sweeps his opponentís feet from beneath him then quickly runs him through. The crowd goes wild and Ledricles raises his blood stained blade toward Augustus, who gives only a small nod of acknowledgement. This seems to hurt Ledricles, but he bows with deep respect anyway.
Hail Caesar! Hail Caesar!
The crowd picks up his chant and goes wild with it.
Int. Caesarís Baths
Augustus enters his private baths and removes his robes, then sinks into the steaming water. Before him is a magnificent view of the city of Rome. He does all of this under the openly lustful stare of Ledricles.
A female attendant enters to wash Augustus, but Ledricles intercepts her and takes the tray she carries, which is laden with a sponge and exotic soaps and oils. Augustus leans forward for his back to be washed.
My back first.
Ledricles begins to wash his lord, but it isnít until his hand sinks inappropriately below the water and Augustus sees the obviously male hand bathing him that the emperor knows something is amiss. Augustus grabs Ledriclesí hand and twists it back painfully until the young man cries out in pain.
What the hell do you think youíre
Bathing you my Lord.
No, youíre overstepping your boundaries
and you know it.
Ledricles is on his knees behind Caesar, his hand twisted back painfully, almost to the breaking point.
I only want your favor my Lord.
If you didnít have my favor, you
wouldnít be commanding my legions,
would you? Make no mistake:
You will never have my favor the
way Livia had my favor. Got that?
I only want to please you.
Not like this you wonít.
Augustus les go of Ledricles, and the younger man rises to his feet. His body is lean and muscular, and his movements are sensual. He paces back and forth behind Augustus.
I helped you take Rome back
after Caligula died my Lord. I feel
Iíve more than earned the honor
of being named Liviaís official
successor as Champion of Rome.
Augustus stares out of the window before him. He has a wistful expression on his face as he remembers sharing this tub, as well as this city, with Livia.
Sheís out there somewhere. Right
now. I wonder what sheís doing.
Ledricles rolls his eyes, disgusted by Augustusí love for Livia.
Probably giving up her last bite of
food to a kitten or some such painfully
Livia became Romeís champion not
by my word alone.
What do you mean by that?
I mean she earned her position.
She won the people Ledricles. Even
though she has deserted Rome to
become the pacifist she is today, the
people loved Livia. Possibly more than
they love me. The only way they will
ever truly accept you as their championÖ
Ledricles is hanging onto every word now.
You have to show the people how
weak sheís become. Kill her in the
arena, and the people will love you.
You mean to tell me the that all
I have to do to win the people
is to kill some sniveling religious
zealot in the arena? Fine. I will find
her and bring her here. Iíll kill her in
(disgusted by his stupidity)
Fool. Itís not that simple and you
know it. You will have to kill the
warrior they knew her to be as
Livia, and thatís not going to be
as easy as youíre thinking it is.
What you propose is impossible. Eve
will never pick up the sword. Not to
defend a title she cares nothing about.
Augustus leans back and closes his eyes, relaxing.
Youíre right. Thatís why youíll have to
Take someone she cares deeply for
and put their life in danger.
(a little sarcastically)
And who would that be? You?
Augustus chooses to ignore this insult, for he needs this arrogant idiot to get the woman he loves back in his clutches.
How do you feel about poetry Ledricles?
The Heart Of The Matter-Act One
Ext. Wedding celebration-Night
Virgil stands beside a couple who is getting married. A priest blesses their union.
May the God of Eli watch over
this union and bless these young
people with a long and fulfilling
life of happiness and prosperity.
The priest turns the couple around.
I now give you Nestor and his
The young man turns to Virgil, a look of incredulity on his face as the crowd cheers. He canít believe heís married.
Youíre looking the wrong way buddy.
The crowd laughs, then cheers even more as Nestor and Iphegenia kiss. The crowd disperses as a lively tune kicks up and everyone leads Nestor and Marcus toward one of the houses.
Iím happy for you old friend.
When Iphegenia and I return from our
honeymoon, Iím going to teach you a
couple of things about shoeing a horse.
Uh, if Iím not mistaken, I can out shoe
Only in your dreams.
Speaking of dreams Nestor, itís
time you made a few of mine
Virgilís mouth drops open as his friendís new wife leads him into the house and closes the door.
In the darkness of the night, Ledricles and about twenty Roman soldiers ride full speed over a grassy plain. In the distance we see the lights of the small village where the wedding is taking place. Ledricles is on his way toward Virgil.
Ext. Town Square-Night
Virgil and the rest of the wedding party eat, drink and dance. One particularly pretty young woman with Spanish features eyes Virgil as he talks with a group of his friends.
Hey Virgil. Youíve got a babe with her eyes
all over you.
Virgil looks over at her and offers her a smile.
Go talk to her. Go on.
Virgil tosses back the rest of his drink, then follows his friendsí advice.
Ledricles and his men are still riding for the village, only this time they are very close.
Virgil and the young woman talk as they dance to a slower tune.
So youíre Maria from Spain, and
you work in your fatherís shop
Thatís right. And youíre Virgil, the
poet. Iíd love to hear some of your
How about now?
I only have one scroll with me,
and itís in my cabin.
Mariaís hand finds itís way to Virgilís rear and she squeezes.
No time like the present.
Virgil looks around, to see if theyíre being watched.
I donít usually move this fast.
Neither do I, but tonight is a
night for love. Wouldnít you agree?
He looks at his cabin, which sits in the distance. Heís had too much to drink so heís open to suggestions.
I do tonight.
Ledricles and his men are now on the road, practically on top of the village. He stops his men and motions for them to line up around the gate leading to the village. All of the men do so, taking out bows and arrows.
Iím riding in. If I give you the signal,
light the place up. Got it?
Ledricles kicks his horse into a run and continues on for the village.
Virgil and Maria are kissing passionately. He picks his new lover up and she wraps her long legs around his waist. Virgil lays Maria on the bed, then straightens, with her legs still wrapped around him, and pulls off his shirt, exposing his well-muscled body. He then leans back over her and runs a hand up her dress to do who-knows-what, kissing her passionately once again.
Ext. Town square
The villagers are dancing and partying when Ledricles rides in to town with two men, and the people slowly begin to stop dancing and the music dies down.
People! My name is Ledricles, the
future Champion of Rome. Iím looking
for one of your own.
Int. Virgilís cabin
Virgil and Maria have even fewer clothes on than before when suddenly Virgil pulls back. This confuses Maria and slightly irritates her.
Whatís the matter? Why are you
Do you hear that?
I donít hear anything.
Thatís right. Thereís nothing.
Now Maria picks up on what he is saying and they sit up.
What do you think is wrong?
I donít know.
From outside he hears Ledricles call for him.
Virgil pulls on a shirt and pants, then grabs his fathers sword.
What is it?
It looks like trouble. A Roman
soldier is almost always trouble.
Donít go out there. It could be
If he doesnít get what he wants
heíll start hurting people. They always
He leaves, not bothering to close his shirt, and runs into town.
Virgil of Torone? Friend of Eve,
the Messenger of Eli?
Thatís me. Who are you?
Ledricles. I want the title of Champion
and to get that, Iím going to need your
help to get Eve into the arena.
Well you can forget it.
Thatís too bad you feel that way.
Ledricles nods his head and his second in command lights an arrow. Instead of shooting it at Virgil, like Virgil is expecting, he fires it into the air.
Ledricles takes in the sight of Virgilís sword, and the body thatís wielding it, and a devilish grin spreads across his face.
Donít make me hurt a pretty face Virgil.
Instead of obeying, the people only stare in bewildered silence. However they get moving when flaming arrows begin to rain from the sky. Ledricles flips from his saddle and starts a sword battle with Virgil, who handles his own only for a little while. Ledricles is clearly a superior fighter over him. Maria comes running toward Virgil when an arrow hits her in the chest.
Oh, did I kill your ladylove? Thatís too
bad. She was quite prettyÖ for a girl
Ledricles knocks Virgil out, then motions for another arrow to be fired. The assault stops and Ledricles mount back up.
You know the plan. Iíll see you
in Rome in a couple of days.
Ledricles rides off into the night as his second, lets call him Cyprian, picks up Virgilís unconscious form and slings him over his horse.
The Heart Of The Matter-Act Two
It is early morning and Eve lies asleep I her rooms at a temple to Eli being rebuilt. It was destroyed by Ledricles and his men a couple of months before during his quest to take the title of Champion. Eve tosses and turns in her sleep as she sees visions of what will be her future, though she doesnít realize it yet.
Vision 1-Eve and Augustus are kissing while she is wearing Roman finery.
2-She watches Virgil fight for his life against a skilled Gladiator..
3-She sees herself wearing the uniform of the Champion of Rome.
4-She sees herself run a sword through a manís gut, though she is unable
to see the manís face.
Eve sits up from these visions, covered in sweat. She quickly pours some water and washes her face. Outside her window the sun is rising, promising to be a beautiful day.
Another image comes to mind as she watches the sun rise: Virgilís hatred for her in a temple to Eli as Xena stopped him from killing her at the end of the episode ďEve.Ē
As she tries to shake away these images, a knock sounds at her door. Eve opens it to find a sweet old woman outside. The woman has managed to retain some of her beauty, and her hair is thick, long and snow-white. Her name is ALTHAIA, and she sees that Eve is disturbed immediately.
Eve? Whatís the matter sweetheart?
Just a bad dream is all. Iím fine.
The same dream youíve been
having for the past couple of nights?
The strain of losing your mother is
really having an effect on you. Why
donít you stay in today and rest?
Eve is grateful for the womanís concern, but she doesnít wish to talk about it now, and resting is the last thing she needs.
Actually, I think some good old-fashioned
work is just what I need to take my mind off
things. Come on.
The two women walk amongst the Elijanís as they work to clean up the ashes of the ruined temple. Some of the carpenters fashion a new structure for the temple. Eveís eyes now wander to the only thing left undamaged: the church graveyard. Each grave has the Christian fish symbol over it, and sadly a lot of the graves are fresh.
Why donít you talk to me? Sometimes
it helps to share your pain with another.
Eve is reluctant at first but the woman insists. Finally they take a seat on a log, which is next to one of the graves and a young girl brings them some fruit for breakfast.
Every time I see a grave IÖI
You think of your days as Livia?
Yes. I canít begin to count the number
of graves that exist because of me. What
makes it worse is remembering how much
I used to enjoy it.
I canít begin to imagine what youíre going
through as far as the sin of murder, but I do
know a thing or two about guilt. I know what
itís like to do something so bad you can never
go back to what the way life was before you
You? I canít imagine you doing something
to hurt another person Althaia.
Althaia doesnít have a smile for Eve this time. Instead she looks off into the steadily brightening sky, and deeper still into her youth to tell her story.
When I was younger, I had a best friend. From the
day we met as children we were inseparable.
You never saw us apart, and strangers passing
through our village just assumed we were sisters.
As you know, itís customary for fathers to arrange
Their daughterís marriages. I hated the young man
my father chose for me but my friend was luckyÖ
Adara falls into silence and Eve gently touches her shoulder, urging her to continue.
She loved her betrothed, and I was so jealous.
Every day I would see the two of them walking
through town, or swimming in the pond
together. I began to feel things for Adaraís husband.
I know now that those feelings were born out
of spite for the love Adara had found, but I didnít
know that at the time. It took a long time, but I
finally seduced him.
I havenít talked about this with anyone
Eve. The first night I lay with him, she
came home and caught us. She wasÖ
Althaia dissolves into tears and Eve holds her, trying to be a comfort.
She was bringing me a gift. She had a
talent for drawing and had this beautiful
locket her grandmother had given her
that Iíd always wanted.
Althaia pulls out half of a locket. Inside is a tiny drawing, very clear, of a young woman.
Sheíd drawn these tiny pictures of us inside.
She was bringing it to me and sheÖcaught
me betraying her.
What happened after that?
She ran out and, later that evening
I found half of the locket, this half, on
my doorstep. Itís an image of her. I never
saw her again. Rumor has it that she
had moved to a neighboring
village but died when a fire swept through
the town. So you see Eve, I know
something about guilt. What do you
think youíre your sweet little Althaia now?
Eve wipes the womanís tears away with her own handkerchief, still holding an arm around her.
I think youíre a woman with a good heart
who made a mistake in her youth. Youíve
been paying for your sin against your friend for
too long Althaia. I think itís time you forgave yourself.
And what about you? Are you willing to
do the same?
Iím not so sure my crimes deserve
to be forgiven. By me or anyone else.
Joxerís sword suddenly plants itself into the ground dangerously close to Eveís feet.
Iíd tend to agree with that statement.
Eve and Althaia look up to find Ledricles grinning down at them. Althaia reacts with fear of him.
What is it?
Thatís him. Thatís Ledricles, the one
who destroyed this temple.
Eve yanks Joxerís sword out of the ground and looks it over, then eyes Ledricles suspiciously.
The man that carries this sword.
Dead? No, heís very much alive.
For now that is.
What do you want?
I want everything you walked away
from in Rome. I want to get you in the
arena and fight you to the death so
I will be hailed as Romeís Champion.
You want the title of Champion? You
can have it. And trust me when I say
the positions not all its cracked up to be.
Ledricles has had enough talking. He wants Eve back in Rome. The sooner he can kill her in battle, the sooner he will win the people. Or so he believes.
Enough talk. Come with me now.
Iím not returning to Rome and Iím
not fighting you to the death in
the arena. I wonít kill again, for any reason.
(draws a crossbow and aims at Althaia)
Yeah? Well Iíve always been taught
that to stand by and do nothing,
thereby allowing someone to murder
an innocent is the same as committing
the crime yourself.
Eli has written: ďGuilt cannot fall
upon those who refuse to shed blood,
or refuse to go to war in the name of
The people have stopped their work and have gathered around to watch what is happening. Althaia steps bravely forward.
Thatís right Eve. If this man kills me or anyone
else here, you are not responsible. He is.
Ledricles gives them a ďif-you-say-soĒ sigh and pulls the trigger. Eveís reflexes are still warrior sharp, and she catches the arrow just before it hits Althaia. She tosses it aside.
If Iím not mistaken, you just got involved
in my little dispute with your friend here Eve.
You just ďwent to warĒ with me. Is that not
hypocritical or what?
Like I said. Iím not fighting you
in the arena. You can have the title
as Champion. I gladly give it to you.
Ledricles angrily dismounts and draws his sword. Itís obvious itís taking all of Eveís willpower not to defend herself. He puts the sharp end of the sword to her throat.
Go on. Kill me.
Iím sorry sweetness, but itís not
that easy. If you donít come back
now, Iíll return to Rome without you,
and Iíll kill that gorgeous little poet
friend of yours. If you come with
me and sacrifice yourself in the
arena thereby giving me your title-
Youíll kill Virgil anyway.
Iím a man of my word. Come back
and he will live. I know your history
with Virgil, Eve. Youíve killed the
father. Will you kill the son as well?
This time his argument hits a tender spot with Eve and she agrees.
Fine. Iíll return.
Althaia reacts in panic.
If you go Eve, heíll kill you.
I donít have a choice Althaia. I canít let
you die, and I canít let Virgil die.
Althaia hands Eve her half of the locket.
Iíll be praying for you Eve.
Disgusted by all the emotion, Ledricles mounts up and literally pulls Eve into the saddle in front of him. He pulls the horse around and rides off with her.
God bless you Messenger.
Virgil is led past the Senate Hall in Rome, where Augustus is coming down the steps. He sees Virgil and stops, a look of mild shame coming over his face.
One of the guards cracks a whip across Virgilís back and it rips the material of his shirt.
Bow before the Emperor!
Virgil is pushed to his knees before Augustus.
My Lord. Thank Eli. You have to
help me. Iíve been kidnapped.
I know. I ordered your capture.
Virgilís face is a mask of shock and hurt by this revelation.
Because I felt like it.
My father knew you. He called friend.
How could you do something like this
to his son?
I am not the same man your father knew.
Take him away.
Virgil struggles uselessly in the guards grip and they drag him away. Augustus looks to the men walking with him, and their confused expressions.
Ledricles has given me Virgil. Eve isnít far behind.
Augustus continues on with his advisors in tow.
Cut to the sky over Rome. A storm is brewing and lightning flashes. Thunder rolls as rain begins to pour in torrents.
The Heart Of The Matter-Act Three
Virgil is led through the prison, soaking wet from the storm they were caught in. Some of the men hoot and holler at him, saying how pretty he is. One particularly ugly man grabs his bars and begins to rattle them.
Hey! Look at that. Put him in here with me.
The prisoner wipes drool from his mouth and Virgil looks away in disgust and fright. The soldiers transporting him stop and grin.
Wanna make a bet on who wins?
No! Donít put me in there with him!
The guards only laugh and shove him toward the doors. Virgil struggles and as he does, a key falls lose from one of the guards belts. Virgil grabs it and hides it in his palm, with the point end of the key sticking between his forefinger and middle finger.
The guards shove him through and slam the gate locked. The male prisoner wipes his lips again.
Come to daddy, pretty.
Keep your distance or I will hurt you.
The big man laughs and lunges at Virgil. He punches the guy as hard as he can and the key puts a nasty gash below his left eye, and blood pours. The prisoner screams in rage and comes at him again, and Virgil attempts to kick him. This time the prisoner is prepared and he grabs Virgilís foot, shoving him against the wall. Everyone cheers and laughs, except Guard 2, who has his money on Virgil.
(up in Virgilís face)
Youíre a regular spitfire ainít ya?
Thatís ok by me. I like Ďem spicy.
Get off me or I swear Iíll kill you.
I like spicy, I donít like rude. I think itís
time I showed you whose boss in her, bitch.
Iíve got your bitch right here.
Virgil head buts the man and he falls back, then Virgil kicks him across the jaw, stoops and swipes his foot under the man, knocking him to flat on his back and the prison goes wild. The big prisoner is embarrassed now.
Iíll kill you!
He comes at Virgil one last time and Virgil drives the key into the mans right eyeball, then punches the key back into his head as far as he can get it. The man falls to the floor dead. Because the prisoner fell with his head near the bars, one of the guards reaches in and pulls the key from the prisonerís head.
Iíll take that. We wouldnít want you
escaping, now would we? Nice job
by the way. Ok, pay up.
They leave as Guard 1 pays Guard 2. Virgil goes to the bars which affords him a view of the road. His cell is underground so the high window affords a view of the road at eye level.
Eve is led by Ledricles through the halls of the palace until she comes to her old quarters. He shoves her inside where an old woman is laying out clothes for Eve to wear with her first meeting with Augustus.
Get dressed. You look like the peasant
If Augustus wants to see me, he can see
me as I am.
Youíre being awfully familiar with our
Emperorís first name, donít you think?
Eve is tired and in no mood for his attitude. Itís time she gave some back to him.
Well I was his champion, wasnít I?
The dig hits home and stands before her, fuming helplessly. She had everything he wants now: the title and the emperor. He hates her for it.
Get dressed Eve.
Not until youíre out of the room.
Trust me sugar. I wonít get any
vicarious thrills from the sight of your
Eve pulls off her clothes, staring him in the eye the entire time. Finally he canít stand it anymore and he turns around, slightly embarrased. Eve winks at the old woman who gives her a nod of approval. Then the servant notices the half of the locket when Eve lays it on the bed.
Where did you get this, my lady?
A friend gave it to me for good luck. Why?
Oh, nothing. Just curious.
I donít recall seeing you here when I lived
in the palace. Whatís your name?
Adara. I was here.
Are you finished yet?
Ledricles turns to find Eve dressed in Roman finery but her hair is still down. Even still, she is stunning in the blue material. It sets off her eyes.
Int. Dining Hall
Augustus and two of his closest advisors dine on rich foods and wine while they talk.
I am considering hosting 100 days
of Gladiator games.
Excellent idea sire. The people could
use the distraction.
I think so too. They have beenÖ
Augustusí voice trails off when Eve enters the room with Ledricles gripping her arm painfully. They stop half way into the room and Ledricles bows.
My Lord. I bring you Eve. Traitor
of Rome as well as the gods.
Augustus ignores Ledriclesí petulant attitude and dismisses his guests. Ledricles however, remains, gripping Eveís arm.
Get out Ledricles. I wish a private
audience with my lover.
This obviously pisses Ledricles off but instead of arguing he bows and turns to leave the room. However, Ledricles looks down at Eve hatefully.
Donít get too comfortable in Caesarís
Bed Eve. You wonít lie in it long.
You wonít get to lie in it at all, will you?
For a moment we wonder if he will strike her, but he storms out, slamming the door behind him. Now itís just Eve and Augustus. When she looks from the door Ledricles had left, she turns and is surprised to see Augustus practically on top of her. She steps back surprised.
(runs a finger down her cheek)
Your beauty is astounding. It always
I am not your lover Augustus.
Eve goes to the window and looks at the sky. Itís pitch black and stormy. Rain falls angrily from the sky and lightning flashes. A breeze blows through the air as Augustus comes to stand beside her, and he watches her hair pull away from her face in the fresh breeze. Itís obvious how much in love with her he still is. Below the window, Ledricles gets soaked, hoping to eavesdrop on their conversation.
Was there a moment, even in itís
smallest measure, that you loved me?
Eve looks deeply into his eyes. Now is her chance to clear the air with him.
When I was a child I did. I could
have loved you like a father, which
would have made me an even
more loyal ally to you.
I mean as a woman loves a man.
Augustus flinches from the pain her words have caused.
Youíre words are like a dagger through
my heart Livia.
My name is Eve. Not Livia. It might
help you to remember that.
You were lying the entire time? Even when
we were making love and you would whisper those-
It was all a lie. You wanted me and I wanted
your empire. I gave you what you desired
and told you what you wanted to hear as a
means to an end. Thatís all you were to me.
Why are you being so cruel?
Iím being honest. Thatís why you used Ledricles
to bring me here isnít it? To get the truth? To force
me back into your palace?
Yes, and nothing hurts quite like the truth,
No, I suppose not.
They listen to the rain and below them, Ledricles strains to hear.
What about now? You no longer have your
former thirst for blood and power. You have a
good heart Eve. You could do for Rome what a
thousand Caesarís never could: You could make
her honorable and loving. You could teach her
how to conquer with love and mercy instead of
Eve shakes her head no, looking almost as if she is going to laugh out loud.
A loving Rome is not what you want Augustus.
Maybe at one time, but not anymore.
Why donít you tell me what I want then?
Me. You donít just want my flesh you want
my soul. Youíve always tried to possess me,
and twist me into-
An argument is coming and their voices are rising.
I saved you from the gods-
-Only to leave me in the care of a hateful
nanny who showed me nothing but contempt.
Then you dumped me in some academy to
be raised by strangers while you forged
I placed you in the Academy so you
could be taught to be a proper Roman woman-
-Where I was taught to hate and driven to kill!
Now Augustus and Eve are nose to nose in an argument, shouting at one another.
Driven to kill? I drove you to rise beyond your
station as a woman! I gave you the opportunity
to become as great as any man in history!
When you should have been my father!
not my general, and sure as hell not
They step back away from one another, panting from their argument. When they speak now, their voices are softer.
I wanted you to have it all Livia. Eve.
I meant Eve.
I had it all. I had the privilege of losing
everyone who ever showed me love
and kindness. I had the honor of being
pushed into Aresí arms. I had the good
fortune to become a bloodthirsty, murderous
monster for Rome. All with your loving
approval. And for what Augustus? What?
No. For you.
Augustus is ready to change the subject now. Heís tired of being shown his faults.
There is another who wants what you
walked away from.
Ledricles. Why did you have to drag
Virgil into this?
I canít believe you of all people
would ask that question. Tactical
advantage. Heís your incentive for
I would have come to Rome willingly. You know
Yes, and you would have died in
the arena just as easily. You religious types always
need an excuse to stand up and fight for
something, so Iím giving you one. Marry me and
I will see to it Virgil returns home safe and sound,
and Iíll make Ledricles disappear. Otherwise
Iíll turn you over to Ledricles and let him do
as he pleases with you.
Considering his type, thatís not much of
a threat for a woman Augustus.
You know what I meant.
Before Eve can protest Augustus wraps an hand behind Eveís neck and pulls her into a passionate kiss (just like in her prophetic dream), and for some unknown reason Eve allows it without struggling. Under the window, Ledricles storms off angrily into the night. He now knows Augustus is willing to betray him to get Eve back. Itís time for countermeasures.
(takes her by the shoulders)
Eve, it could be like old time again.
For you that would be a dream come
true. For me, thatís a nightmare.
You will stay in your old quarters.
right next to mine.
And if you had your way?
If I had my way, you would spend
this night in my bed.
Eve turns and walks away, leaving Augustus behind.
Int. Ledricles Quarters-morning
The next day eve is dragged into Ledricles quarters. She now has a beautiful white toga with rich red trim, and her hair is pulled up into a classic Roman hairstyle. Her face has also been beautifully painted. Eve is led through the quarters and into the gardens just outside his rooms. The guard shoves her into a seat next to Ledricles.
Sit. The day is unseasonably cool
since the rains yesterday, wouldnít
Yes, itís cool today. Why am I here?
A real get to the point kind of girl. I like
that in a woman.
Really? I never would have guessed
that about you.
Eat. I assure you, itís perfectly safe.
You keep barking commands at
me like Iím a dog.
You believe yourself to be a woman of
power. Letís test that theory, shall we?
A gladiator enters the garden before them and bows. Next, Virgil is pulled in and his chains broken.
Letís see if you have the power
to sit there and watch your little
Virgil looks up at Eve in her Roman finery, wondering if heís been betrayed.
Close up on Eve.
The Heart Of The Matter-Act Four
Virgil is tossed a sword and the Gladiator attacks. Virgil is a good fighter but heís no match for the seasoned gladiator. The fight doesnít last long before Virgilís sword is broken and the gladiator begins to beat him to a bloody pulp.
Call him off!
Ledricles only laughs as Virgil falls to the ground in a beaten, broken heap. The gladiator raises his sword and prepares to deliver the deathblow. Eve notices a warrior standing next to her with a spear. She yanks it from his hand, kicks him in the gut to shove him back so sheíll have room to throw, then throws it at the gladiator. The dull end hits his unprotected head and he falls to the ground, unconscious.
Put Virgil back in his cell.
You wonít always be able to save
the innocent by such non-violent
means Eve. One day you will either
pick up the sword, or you will die by it.
Eve pushes past the guards, heading to Augustus.
Cut to: Augustusí chambers.
Augustus sits behind his desk with his advisors standing around him when Eve bursts into the room.
You bastard! How could you!
Augustus and the others are shocked that she would speak to him in such a tone.
Everyone out. And you will do
well to remember who youíre talking to.
You liar! You never had any intentions
of letting Virgil live, did you?
With the room empty, Augustus comes around the desk, trying to calm her down.
What are you talking about?
Your boy toy almost killed Virgil. Iím
telling you right now. If anything happens
to my friend Iíll leave Rome and I will
never step foot in this city again!
Eve storms out and Augustus follows, though he heads in an opposite direction.
Int. Ledricles quarters
Augustus enters Ledricles quarters with guards just as Ledricles exits his baths. Without word, Augustus goes to the weapons wall and pulls down a set of chobos. He then proceeds to kick Ledricles around a little.
My Lord! What are you doing?
Augustus gets Ledricles down on the floor and puts one of the choboís under his chin. He hoists Ledricles up, almost choking him.
You almost ruined my chances with
Eve with your little stunt today. Give
me one good reason why I shouldnít break
Iíve dedicated my life to you and to Rome.
Iím the one man who can help you keep
Augustus stands and turns to the guards.
Detain him here until I say otherwise.
Int. Eveís quarters.
Eve is terribly distraught when she enters her quarters, and Adara watches her every move.
My lady? Is something wrong?
I used to keep a medical kit under
my bed. Itís gone now.
Iím sorry. I donít know what
happened to it.
Eve sees the locket on the bed, before her eyes. Only this time, itís whole. She opens it and looks at the picture of Althaia, then at the old woman, and puts 2 and 2 together.
YouÖyouíre Althaiaís friend?
Eve and Adara stand beside the window, Adara holding the locket.
How is she?
Sheís missing you. Sheís been hating
herself all these years.
I allowed everyone but my family
to think Iíd died in a fire. I hated
her for so many years untilÖI found
Eli and his message. Now I see you
in the same situation.
You have changed from the woman
I knew as Livia to the Messenger of Eli. Now
youíre faced with a decision to either kill,
or allow innocents to die.
I know. I donít know what to do.
You must look at the heart of
the matter to find your answers Eve.
What do you mean?
Iíve heard so many stories about your
mother Xena. She was evil once, but she
did so much good. She turned her life around
and made the world a better, more peaceful
place to live, and she did it with a sword.
Are you saying I should pick up the sword?
Iím not my mother Adara. Iím the Messenger
of peace. I canít preach a message of peace
and wield a sword at the same time.
And who told you Eliís Messenger canít
follow the way of the warrior? Iím
not saying you should make this decision
in haste, but Eve, donít deny your warrior
heart. You may find your path in life
is to be a defender of the innocent.
Ext. The Arena
Augustus walks to his box and looks down into the empty arena. He has several flashbacks of Eve fighting four gladiators in her past.
Iím never going to have her back.
As Augustus is lost in his reverie, he doesnít see Ledricles enter below him.
I gave you everything and it means
nothing to you!
Ledricles executes the perfect flip and lands before Augustus. He shakes with rage and hurt before his emperor.
When are you going to wake up and
realize Livia is dead? When are you
going to see that you will no sooner have her
love than I will have yours?
You want your fight to the death
with Eve, Ledricles? Youíve got it.
You see I have woken up, and I
do realize she will never be mine. And
if I canít have her, no one will.
Eveís quarters. Augustus enters with guards.
Marry me or die in the arena with
Virgil tomorrow. This is your last chance.
You want me to give up my future for
a life of misery with you? I refuse.
Guards, take her. Put her in chains and
put her in the cell with Virgil. Iíll give
you one last night with him. Make it count.
Eve looks back to Adara, who gives her a knowing nod.
Eve is tossed into a cell with Virgil, who lies on the floor, half unconscious. She rips pieces of her toga and wets the strips in the basin, then goes to him and cleans his wounds.
Virgil? Hey, can you hear me?
Whatís going on?
Augustus has given me a choice.
I can either marry him or watch you
die in the arena. Or I can fight
Ledricles for you.
The tension of the past couple of days is too much and Eve begins to cry.
If you do neither, I die, right? The choice is
simple. Donít marry him, and donít fight.
Your mission as the Messenger is more important
than me. It must be continued for the sake
of the greater good.
Youíre more important to me than you
give yourself credit for. Virgil, I killed
your father. I wonít kill you as well.
Eve, you canít allow guilt to cloud
your judgment. You have a mission
that you must continue. Donít let me
stand in the way of that.
Virgil is too weak to go on, and he collapses back. Eve struggles to get him into the bed and tucks him in.
Sleep now. Weíll discuss this later.
She climbs into the top bunk, and stares at the ceiling.
Int. Halls of the palace.
Adara makes her way through the halls of Caesars palace, avoiding the guards as she goes. She is just about to turn a corner when she hears Ledricles and Augustus coming toward her. She ducks into a corner and prays they donít see her.
Iíve finished the preparations for the
Youíre enjoying this, arenít you?
Continue on. I have only one order
for you. When you kill her in the
arena tomorrow, make it a quick death.
They continue on through the corridors and Adara moves on as well. She comes to a wall and pulls the torch. A door opens and she disappears inside. When she exits the tunnel, she is in the darkened arena.
Eve is sleeping restlessly. In her dream we se she is running through a bright and beautiful forest, but there is a sense of foreboding as she makes her way through the dense foliage. Finally she stops to rest, and through her gasps of air we hear laughter. Eve turns to find Livia leaning against a tree, laughing at her.
Running from your problems Eve?
Oh God. Not you.
You hate me, I know. I hate you too. I
especially hate this cage you have me
Yes. See, this is your soul since you
found Eli. However I am still here. Iím a part
of you. And the only way to save Virgil
and yourself if to use me. To accept that
I am a part of you.
Not a chance.
Are you afraid if you use me you
wonít be able to lock me back up in here?
I hope so.
Iím not afraid of anything because
youíre not real. You died in Eliís temple
when he reunited me with my mother.
ďReunited me with my motherĒ. Please.
Thatís a little trite, donít you think?
You of all people should know
(Livia puts her lips to Eveís ear)
I donít die easily.
Eve turns from Livia and walks from the trees to a clearing, which features a magnificent waterfall and a beautiful lake. She goes up to the water and kneels down to wash her face. Livia soon reappears in the surface of the water.
You canít escape me that easily Eve.
Eve stands and backs right into Livia. She jumps and Livia laughs at her fear.
Go away! I will not give in to you
at the firstÖ
First what? First bit of trouble without
mommy and Aunt Gabrielle to come bail
you out? You donít need Gabrielle, Eve.
You need me. Iím the only one that can
save you and Virgil and you know it.
If I use you now, Iíll owe you.
Damn straight you will. Thereís a lot of
evil in this world, and you just canít handle
it. Not without me that is. Give us a
chance Eve. We can do a lot of good
together. A fight is a fight and I donít
care which side Iím on, as long as Iím free.
Too bad you donít have Eli to pray
To. Heíd tell you what Iím telling you.
That the way of the warrior is the
only way for his Messenger.
Youíre trying to trick me.
(grabs her by the shoulders)
Iím trying to save your pathetic life!
If you die, I die, and Iím not ready
to go out yet. Release me Eve. Like
it or not, Iím our salvation.
Livia draws back her fist and punches Eve. When her fist connects, Eve sits up, panting for air.
She gets down from the top bunk and strokes Virgilís face gently. Daylight has come, though the sky is still threatening a storm, like the one in her soul.
Sheís right. I killed the father. I
wonít kill the son.
The guards come and begin pulling them from the cell. As Eve passes a mirror she looks at her reflection.
They yank her out of the cell and into the hall.
There is a low rumble as the crowd waits for the festivities to begin. Augustus watches them cheer when Virgil is led into the arena in chains. He is tied before a cage with a lion in it. The door of the cage has three ropes tied to it, and a soldier standing under the ropes with a torch. Each rope had a different thickness, from thin to thick to break at different times. Augustus nods and the soldier lights all three.
Next Eve is led into the arena. She is wearing her old Roman chapions uniform, and her hair has been pulled back into Liviaís style. Ledricles follows, wearing a masculine version of Eves outfit. They face Augustus.
Iíll never forgive you for this Augustus.
You will address him as Caesar!
He moves to hit her but Eve catches his arm. They look into one anotherís eyes as the people cheer. Eve then searches the crowd and sees Adara, who nods at her. She looks to Virgil and he shakes his head in a ďno, donít fightĒ look. Now Eve hears Liviaís voice.
Set me free Eve. Only I can save him.
Alright. I set you free.
A visible change comes over Eve. She looks him in the eye and gives him a wicked smile. For the first time, Ledricles is meeting Livia. Augustus sees it too and sits forward in excitement.
You want to fight me? Youíre gonna get it.
The crowd goes wild as Ledricles throws punch after punch at Eve, and she ducks every one.
Youíre better than I gave you credit for.
Oh, I can do more than dodge punches.
They fight visciously, hand to hand, but Ledricles canít best her. In fact, eve gets in several good blows until he falls back, panting for air and holding his side, Eve doesnít notice that the first rope has broken and the lion has a paw out, swiping at Virgilís feet.
Looks like Iím winning Ledricles.
Not for long.
He draws his sword and Eve follows suit. They fight again, fast and hard, but neither fighter can best the other. The second rope breaks and the cats whole arm is out. This time Eve sees the cage door raise.
Nice kitty. Youíre a good boy, right?
He gets a nasty, hungry roar in answer, and Ledricles laughs.
You canít defeat me and youíre still
gonna have to watch your precious
Oh, God. Eve!
Iíll be right with you Virgil.
Youíll be right with him in Tartarus.
We donít have to do this Ledricles. You
can have the title.
I wonít be champion until youíre dead
by my hand. Now shut up and fight!
Once again they fight, and Eve knows Ledricles is beyond words. She looks to the cage, to Virgilís fear, to Adara in the stand, to the blood-thirsty crowd, to Augustusí greed, and she knows what has to be done.
Forgive me God. Forgive me mother.
In slow motion we see Ledricles lunge. She drives her blade down, knocking his sword to the ground, kicks him in the gut to put some space between them, then runs him through, just like she saw herself doing in her dream. The look into each others eyes.
Iím sorry Ledricles. I wish it didnít have to
end this way.
The crowd roars Liviaís name, but Eve isnít finished yet. She sheathes her sword and runs for Virgil.
Eve, Iím so sorry.
The important thing is, youíre alive.
She breaks his chains then stands before him. When the final rope breaks and the cage door lifts, Eve does one of her motherís tricks. She stands before Virgil, wraps one of his arms around her neck, then flips into the crowd just before the lion can devour them. They land safely in the stands (see Vanishing Act, Season Three with Xena and Autolycus), and the lion finds Ledricles body to chew on. Augustus, seeing his girl getting away from him, yells for the guards.
Eve and Virgil follow Adara into the tunnel we had seen her in earlier.
The Heart Of The Matter-Epilogue
Adara, Virgil and Eve ride into the temple courtyard to find the Elijanís praying. Althaia recognizes Adara immediately, and notices the locket around Adaraís neck.
Go on Adara.
I canít. I can only imagine what she
thinks of me.
She thinks youíre a long lost sister.
Itís time to forgive each other.
Adara dismounts and slowly walks to Althaia.
Adara, youíre alive. Iíve been wanting
to tell you for years that Iím sorry.
And Iíve been waiting to tell you thatÖ
I forgive you.
The old women hug, to the cheers of the Elijanís. Virgil follows Eve over to the shade of a tree, next to the graveyard.
For what itís worth, thank you for saving me.
Even though it meant you had to kill again to
Itís worth a lot Virgil.
I heard you say something in your
sleep before they Came and took us
to the arena. You said, ĎI killed the father,
I wonít kill the son.í I never told you
before but, I forgive you for killing Dad.
I do. I see you as my friend andÖ like I said.
I forgive you.
Virgil walks away, and Livia holds up her blood-soaked sword.
If only I could forgive myself.
Close up on Eve.