Eve is asleep in the Amazon hut. She twitches and moans slightly in her sleep. We move in slowly toward her face as we:
Inside Eve's dream.
Eve stands amidst a barren landscape. Broken pillars of a temple are lying on the ground, the fragments of a large stone statue of a woman with a bow and arrow are scattered amongst the ruins. A tablet broken in half, with Greek lettering on it, lies on the ground. Subtitles appear on the screen to translate the inscription: "All hail, Great Goddess Artemis." Eve looks around in the eerie silence.
Suddenly, she hears the sound of people talking. She turns her head to see a small group of Amazons walk past her. They stop in front of the ruined temple and continue talking in low voices, though Eve cannot make out the words.
There is a flash of green light and Artemis appears in front of the group but they do not appear to see her, or at least don't show any recognition of her presence. Eve watches as the goddess reaches out to touch one of the Amazons; her hand passes right through the body of the woman, who doesn't react at all.
Artemis flinches and pulls her hand back. She examines her hands balefully, then looks up, directly meeting Eve's gaze. They stare at each other for a long moment.
The world is changing around us--but we're not ready. (pause) Are you, Eve? Are you ready to face your destiny?
Artemis vanishes--with no flash of light or sparks, just dissolving as if she hadn't even been there. When Eve turns, the Amazons are gone too.
EVE (to herself):
Change--the Amazons must change. I know that. (She whispers as she walks through the ruins) I know that.
Eve turns her head to see Eli approaching her. He is wearing a white robe.
It's not just the Amazons who must change.
What you just saw is what's to come.
I know. The gods will fade.
They all will, in time. They will no longer be able to affect the world around them, or even to be seen or heard by mortals. As people begin to forget the gods and turn their faith and hope toward the One God--the God of Love--the many gods will cease to exist to everyone but themselves. This is their destiny.
Eve nods slowly.
But they can change it.
They can? (confused) You mean--by holding on to worshipers?
Eli shakes his head, then points ahead and Eve looks where he is pointing.
The temple ruins are gone; in their place, a swirling portal forms. Inside the portal, we see an image of Ares giving up his godhood to heal Eve and Gabrielle in "Motherhood" appears. Eve watches as Ares stands up gingerly and removes the chains from his body.
ARES (inside the portal):
I gave up my immortality to save them.
The image in the portal begins to fade and the portal disappears from sight, leaving a blank, desolate land ahead of Eve. Eve looks at Eli.
They have a choice, Eve.
To become mortal?
Everyone in this world has a choice, including the gods. The God of Love never wanted them destroyed. They will fade because their existence now depends on people believing in them--worshipping them. But if they so choose, they can forfeit their godhood and live out a mortal lifespan. (pause) If they do not--
EVE (finishes for him):
--then they will fade and live for eternity as ghosts.
So it must be.
Eli gently kisses Eve's forehead. She closes her eyes. When she opens them, he is gone.
The hut. Eve opens her eyes and sits up. A close-up on her pensive face.
Inside a large hut, an old woman sits in a rocking chair. She has long gray hair and is wearing a tribal purple outfit. The hut is filled with Amazon decorations.
A group of about a dozen girls of varying ages sit on a rug on the floor, listening to the woman.
The Tretomlec people were attacked by a group of barbarians from the north.
The camera zooms in on her before the screen fades to:
A village is being attacked by a tribe of barbarians. A quick succession of images of men being slaughtered killed houses on fire, women wailing over their fallen husbands.
OLDER WOMAN (voice-over):
The men of the tribe were slaughtered, the village razed to the ground. The women had to flee for their lives.
Night. The Tretomlec women are gathered around a fire. Their leader is speaking to them.
Tretomlec women--I propose a new mission for us. In honor of our lost fathers, sons, brothers, and husbands--we take no more men into our tribe--but dedicate our lives to helping others! I say--we lay to rest with our beloved men the name Tretomlec--and embrace the name given to us by the Atmah. (raises her voice) From this moment on--we are the Amazons!
[END OF FLASHBACK]
We fade into the old woman.
And so, from bloodshed and tragedy, the Amazon Nation was born.
The camera pulls back to show Eve standing by the wall, listening very thoughtfully.
OLD WOMAN (smiles):
That's enough for today. Time for your exercises.
The children start getting up, starting to chatter.
I hope you listened well--there's going to be a quiz, later on!
GIRLS (in a disjointed chorus):
Thank you, Kleita.
They start filing out of the hut, each stopping to bow her head slightly before Eve with a murmured, "My queen." A couple of girls give her wary looks; they're the ones who were listening to Phania the day before.
As the children leave, Eve turns to the old woman.
I really appreciate your doing this, Kleita. (pause) It's good for the children to know their history.
The older woman smiles as she gets up from her rocking chair.
Thank you, my Queen. I'm so glad to see you place such importance on the schooling of the children. In our tradition, history was one of the first things taught to Amazon girls. But now-- (she sighs) it seems there has been so much war and so much bloodshed, we forget what message we're sending the next generation.
I know. (after a pause) Tell me, Kleita--in our history, have there ever been exceptions to the rule that a woman who had an illicit relationship with a man, and gave birth to a male child, must be exiled from the tribe?
You're asking because of Scyleia.
Yes. (uncertain) I don't want to banish her and her baby. But the Amazon Council... (trails off) They are so sure that what they are doing is right, because the Amazons have lived this way for hundreds of years--
Even if the council were to change its mind about Scyleia's exile, her child would have to be sent away as soon as it's weaned. You realize that, don't you? (Off Eve's quiet nod) Where is the child's father now?
KLEITA (digests this for a moment, then nods):
It's a bad situation. I don't know what advice I can give you, Eve.
I've heard that the Amazons' relations with men have grown much more peaceful over the generations.
Oh, yes. There was a time--long, long ago--when the only way an Amazon was permitted to lie with a man was if she had defeated him in battle, or captured him in a raid on a village. Anything else was deemed shameful.
Then, some Amazon leaders began to realize it was a custom that did the nation more harm than good. It kept us in a state of perpetual warfare. Too many women seeking to take mates and continue the race of Amazons were instead killed or maimed in battle, in the prime of their life, to fulfill the demands of law and custom. And so--
Close-up on Eve, who listens, rapt.
KLEITA (continues, off-camera):
things changed. The requirement became merely a ritual one, so that, once an Amazon chose a man, they would cross swords and he would let himself be disarmed before they could be together...
The camera pulls back to show Kleita talking to Eve, in medium close-up.
...or so that our elders would make an agreement with a nearby village to abduct some of their men in a pretend raid. (She smiles somewhat mischievously at Eve) I think the Amazons also found that their--dealings with the men were much more pleasant that way. (She puts her hand on Eve's shoulder) So, you see, my Queen...even Amazon tradition can change.
Eve looks at her thoughtfully.
Klymene, a staff in her hand, charging forward with a cry.
The camera pulls back that she is fighting another teenage Amazon. Then the camera zooms out further to show about two dozen Amazon girls doing combat exercises in the training grounds. Some are practicing with staffs, others doing kicks and jumps or swinging from bars.
Eve and Cyane are standing on the sidelines watching.
So, Nari says you have a male visitor. (smiles a little at Eve)
Yes. It's Virgil.
You know the rules--
EVE (a little exasperated):
Yes, I know. He can't stay here more than three days unless the council grants special permission. I doubt he'll be staying much longer than that. (obviously anxious to change the subject) Did you talk about Scyleia?
Yes. Nari and Othila are willing to compromise.
Eve turns abruptly, giving Cyane a surprised look.
Scyleia will be exiled for one year--
And, she must give up her child before she returns.
EVE (shakes her head):
Her child has no other family.
There are orphanages--
She'll never agree to that.
Then you're asking that she be allowed to keep her son here. (after a pause) That would mean--changing our entire way of life.
Eve and Cyane stare at each other for a long moment. The camera pans to Klymene, who knocks the staff out of her opponent's hands and raises her own staff with a cry of triumph.
Darion pumps his fist in the air in a victory cry. The camera pulls back to show Darion and the children from the Lanis settlement--boys and girls together--playing ball in a large field.
Pan to Gabrielle and Virgil standing together at the edge of the field. The huts of the Amazon village are seen in the background.
VIRGIL (smiles warmly):
GABRIELLE (pats her stomach and sighs):
As loosely as I lace them, these leathers are getting too tight for me. I'll have to change into something more comfortable soon.
I'm sure you're going to be a wonderful mother. (pauses) Just like you've been to Darion.
GABRIELLE (with an uncertain smile):
Thanks. (after a pause) So, you came here all the way from Athens to see Eve.
Yeah. (pauses) I love her, Gabrielle. I want to try to make this work.
I hope you can. I know that it was very hard for Eve when--you left.
Last time we parted, in Moesia, she asked if I could imagine telling our children that their mother killed their grandfather.
Gabrielle sighs and looks away. The sounds of the children at play are heard off-camera, with Caleb shouting, "Throw me the ball!"
Well, I've thought of an answer. What I can tell our children--is that their grandfather was killed by Livia, a vicious, cruel Roman commander--who is no longer alive. And I can tell them that it was their mother--Eve--who killed Livia. (after a pause) Do you think that sounds crazy?
No, I think it sounds wonderful. (smiles) But you need to tell it to Eve--not to me.
I will. (sighs) Even if we manage to get past that, she's still the Queen of the Amazons. Which means-- (trails off)
GABRIELLE (looks out wistfully at the children playing):
No men allowed.
The camera follows Darion as he throws the ball to Alyssa.
There you are.
The camera pulls back to show Xena approaching, brisk and businesslike.
You know that idea I had last night about how to deal with Scyleia's problem?
It's just crazy enough to work. (looks inquiringly at Gabrielle) Are you up for some sensitive chats?
GABRIELLE (only half-joking):
I hope I haven't lost my touch.
VIRGIL (grinning, to Xena):
Well, she definitely has my vote of confidence.
GABRIELLE (smiles to him warmly):
Xena stands still for a moment, looking at the children playing. Caleb stops and waves to her; Xena waves back, then turns to Gabrielle.
If this works, we could make sure the survivors from Lanis are allowed to stay here too. Well, come on--we haven't got much time!
The camera zooms out for an overhead shot of the children playing and Xena and Gabrielle heading back to the village as we:
END OF ACT THREE