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EXT. DESERT - DAY
ARTABAN's caravan passes over sand hills. ARTABAN sits high
up on the back of a camel, rocking steadily onward.
Lord Abgarus Greetings. Wherever
we are, I know it's not home.
On ORONTES, on camel behind ARTABAN, writing,
EXT. BETHLEHEM - NIGHT
CASPAR, MELCHIOR and BALTHAZAR continue to follow the star.
ORONTES (V.O., CONT.)
During the day the fierce heat
presses on us.
The THREE see the star has stopped over a crude barn.
Outside, SHEPHERDS kneel. Inside, a light glows. The THREE
ORONTES (V.O., CONT.)
At night, in the bitter cold, the
ravines echo with the roar of
As the THREE, gifts in hand, enter barn,
EXT. ROAD LEADING TO BETHLEHEM - DAY
Riding camels, ARTABAN and ORONTES approach town. Coming in
opposite direction is a humble looking MAN leading a donkey
on which rides a WOMAN carrying a bundled-up BABY.
ORONTES (V.O., CONT.)
As we ride through the rivers and
snake pits, I keep saying to myself
"Free. Just get him there, then
home and you'll be free."
As ARTABAN and ORONTES take no notice of them,
EXT. STREET IN BETHLEHEM - DAY
ARTABAN and ORONTES walk down deserted Street.
ORONTES (V.O., CONT.)
I am not enjoying myself at all.
VOICE of a YOUNG WOMAN SINGING a lullaby from an open
doorway. ORONTES goes to doorway, KNOCKS. VOICE stops. A
twenty-year-old woman, ANNE, holding a BABY, comes to
Yes? Can I help you?
ARTABAN indicates ORONTES should talk.
We're looking for three men,
dressed like me.
Shh, my love...
I know who you mean.
You saw them?
From a distance. But there was
lots of gossip. About the precious
gifts they gave to a child in a
manger. People around here thought
it quite peculiar.
Why would a King be in a manger?
I don't know... Could you show us
Certainly. Follow me.
They start walking. ARTABAN turns to ANNE, who carries her
Do you know the name of the baby in
I have no idea. It's parents were
strangers, here only to be counted
for the tax.
Where can I find this family?
Gone. Secretly. It's whispered
they went as far away as Egypt.
And my Master's friends?
Disappeared, as suddenly as they'd
They reach Barn, enter.
INT. BARN - DAY
ARTABAN looks around as ANNE and ORONTES stand at opening.
Ever since, an evil spell hangs
over the village.
An evil spell?
(places CHILD in empty
Some say King Herod is angry about
the birth of the child and will
drag our men into slavery. They've
all gone into the hills. My
husband, as well.
In distance, TRUMPETS. ARTABAN stares at Anne's BABY.
A beautiful child.
He's brought such joy into our
I had a son...
Outside, the CLASHING of swords.
I wonder what's causing all that
THEY exit into Street
EXT. STREET - DAY
As ARTABAN, ANNE and ORONTES come out of Barn, WOMAN runs
past, frantically, carrying a small CHILD. In b.g., sounds
of WOMEN WAILING.
Begging your pardon, m'am, but I
don't much like this place
Another WOMAN passes, covered with blood, confused and
Herod's SOLDIERS come in to view, with blood-covered swords.
WOMEN'S VOICES (CONT.)
The soldiers of King Herod are
killing our children!
ARTABAN, ANNE and ORONTES watch as SOLDIERS KNOCK on door of
a cottage. Inside, the sound of a BABY CRYING and a WOMAN
SCREAMING for help. ARTABAN steps forward.
Master, I know that look in your
eyes. If I may say so, this is
none of your concern.
BABY CRYING is cut short, suddenly. Silence, then WOMAN's
voice WAILS again. ANNE panics as her BABY starts to CRY.
Oh God, what will I do?
I won't let them kill your baby.
ARTABAN goes and stands in doorway of Barn, pushing ORONTES
and ANNE inside.
Hide behind the stall. Keep quiet.
ARTABAN closes door. Silence. MAXIMUS, the commander of
Herod's soldiers comes to him, followed by two of his MEN.
Out of my way.
He goes to push ARTABAN aside, but ARTABAN holds MAXIMUS'
I am all alone in this place.
I will see for myself.
ARTABAN takes out packet, displays ruby.
I am willing to give this jewel to
the prudent captain and his men who
will leave me in peace.
MAXIMUS stares at it, looks at SOLDIERS, then reaches out his
hand and takes ruby.
March on. There's no child here.
As they move on, ARTABAN relaxes. WHISPERS inside.
ORONTES comes out.
How'd you get them to leave?
I gave them something to aid them
on their way.
But what do you have that's of any
value, except --
The ruby or the pearl?
ARTABAN re-enters Barn. ORONTES follows.
INT. BARN - DAY
ARTABAN crossed to ANNE, still trembling, helps her to rise.
Don't be afraid. Your son will not
be injured. I will escort you to
your husband in the hills.
Oh, sir... I... don't know how
to... May the Lord bless you and
help you find what you're looking
for. Your cause is just and right
Shall I make preparations for our
return to Persia?
No, the King has voyaged to Egypt.
How can we find Him? We don't even
know His name.
ARTABAN kisses BABY's forehead, nods to ANNE, exits.
Untether the horses.
Master, please. Listen to reason.
For once in your life. Lord
(it's no use, turns to
ANNE smiles. As she and ORONTES follow his MASTER into
EXT. PYRAMIDS - DAY
Two familiar looking HORSEMAN riding by in haste.
EXT. VILLAGE SQUARE/EGYPT - DAY
ARTABAN, older now, buying fruit at stall. ORONTES comes
I've found Him. I've found the
baby you've been looking for.
Present me, at once.
They run at full speed through CROWD, until they reach a MAN,
a WOMAN and their four-year-old SON sitting under a palm
Lord Artaban, meet Joseph and Mary
and their son, Benjamin.
Sir, it is an honor.
JOSEPH nods approval. ARTABAN lifts BOY high in the air.
Yes. He's about the right age...
So, the child was born in
In a manger. And we were visited
by two Magi --
ORONTES gives JOSEPH a slight kick, holds up three fingers.
Did I say two? I mean three.
(sees what's going on)
What gifts did they give your son?
Well, let me see... there was gold,
frankincense and uh...
(scratches head, lost)
I think you mentioned myrrh.
Oh yes, myrrh. My wife likes
ARTABAN puts CHILD down, moves away. ORONTES follows.
Isn't that great? You found Him.
I guess now we can go home.
If you ever try anything like that
Don't you understand? I must find
Him. If not, my life will be...
ARTABAN walks away. On ORONTES, shaking his head and
INT. RAMSHACKLE SYNAGOGUE/EGYPT - DAY
CU of PEARL in ARTABAN's hand. PULL BACK to reveal ARTABAN
standing with an old RABBI.
Rabbi, for four years, I've sought
the King of Kings, spoken of by
your prophets, in order to give Him
this perfect pearl.
Why do you seek Him?
In my home land, I have achieved
power and property, but it has left
I need someone to give myself to.
Someone who'll guide me toward
life's real meaning.
(stands, goes to scrolls)
I've looked all over Egypt, in
every palace within a hundred
parasangs, but --
You've been looking in the wrong
You mean, He's gone back to
Jerusalem? Or did I misinterpret
It makes sense that the King of the
Jews would be in the land of the
Jews, but don't look for Him in the
mansions of the rich.
In the hovels of the oppressed.
(reads from scroll)
"The spirit of the Lord has been
given to me," Isaiah quotes the
Messiah, "He has sent me to bring
good news to the poor, to bind up
the broken-hearted, to proclaim
liberty to captives and to give the
blind new sight."
But why should a King especially
love the poor and oppressed? Why
would he live among them?
Who knows? It is a good mystery.
God's ways are not our ways.
ARTABAN is puzzled. On the RABBI, smiling enigmatically,
EXT. SINAI PENINSULA - DAY
ARTABAN and ORONTES ride hard.
EXT. JUDEAH WILDERNESS - NIGHT
CU on a sharp knife, playfully twisted by a hand. PULL BACK
to reveal FIRST THIEF holding knife. PULL BACK FURTHER to
show first thief, EKRON, and SECOND THIEF crouched among
boulders, both with masks on their faces, exposing only their
eyes. SOUND at one end of pass, the TWO suddenly disappear
into the darkness. A beat, then ORONTES and ARTABAN, both
older, pass, riding horses.
I know I'm very stupid, Excellency,
but I think, I can accept the fact
that this King of yours may not be
living in a palace. However, to
believe He's in the wilderness is,
well to be frank --
Suddenly, THIEVES jump out, on top of ORONTES and ARTABAN.
ORONTES rolls around on ground with SECOND THIEF. EKRON
pulls out knife, takes packet containing pearl from ARTABAN.
ARTABAN fights EKRON who wounds himself with knife. SECOND
THIEF pushes ORONTES away, goes to help EKRON and together
they run off. ORONTES and ARTABAN follow in hot pursuit.
EXT. STONEY PATH - NIGHT
LONG SHOT of ARTABAN and ORONTES running after EKRON and
SECOND THIEF into rocky area.
EXT. OUTCAST COLONY - NIGHT
A series of caves, where outcasts of society -- THIEVES,
WHORES, CRIPPLES, LEPERS, MUTES, DEAF and BLIND PEOPLE --
live. EKRON and SECOND THIEF run in, disappearing into a
cave. ARTABAN and ORONTES arrive, slowly realizing where
they are. OUTCASTS approach.
Oh, no. Get away.
You realize of course we're about
As the OUTCASTS surround them, reaching for them,
END OF ACT TWO