By Elaine Sutherland
This story pays tribute to Melosa, Queen of the Amazons, who knew when to fight and when to talk. And, in the admiring imagination of this author, when to love. Consequently, there is lesbian sex in this story. If this is not to your taste, I invite you to read elsewhere. There is also battlefield violence, but no more than on your average XWP episode.
The character of Melosa is the property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures and is being used without permission. No attempt is being made to profit from this use.
No servant accompanied her, and no loyal captain of her husband's army. All had been killed, or frightened off, or bought off by the new masters who in fact did not look much different from the old ones. On foot, with nothing but her bow and a quiver of arrows and the clothes on her back, she fled to the Amazons.
The Amazons accepted her, first as a refugee, then as a fine archer in their ranks, although she had, to her disgust, to shoot from the ground rather than from horseback which she felt more befitted a queen. They did not need to know that she hoped to win them one day to an alliance with the remaining loyal Imanni to overthrow the new warlords. But first things first. First, to win their respect and loyalty. This she did forthrightly, and without guile.
She admired their discipline, and appreciated their camaraderie. But they were after all just girls, and she doubted they could stand up long in battle against steady male assault. An army of women, she thought, bordered on the comical.
Lifelong competition with women made her wary of alliances with them. Anthropos had chosen her, he said, because she was the most beautiful woman in his city. Without his rules and standards, she was rather at a loss. Moreover, she missed the thrill of male attention, the frisson of danger in having armed men about, looking, lusting. That the Amazon women mostly loved each other she found harmless and puerile, a girlish titillation until the real thing came along. She missed the real thing.
She trained for weeks and weaned her youthful body away from softness. Soon she was as strong and agile as the others, if less convinced that they in fact constituted an army. She regretted only that she had no horse. These were scarce and of great value to the Amazons, and passed between sisters or lovers, or from mother to daughter. If Hippolyta would have a horse, she would have to seize it from an enemy in battle.
One afternoon she sparred with the quarterstaff among sweating cohorts.
"Hold!" the weaponmaster said, and all stepped back. Hippolyta turned to where the others were looking and saw a splendid white war horse cantering gracefully across the meadow towards them. Queen Melosa, her long hair whipping about her, rode out to the training ground herself. It had to be important. She pulled up in their midst and reined in while she looked them over. The white pony pranced nervously in the crowd, and she moved it back with a nudge of her knee.
It was the first time Hippolyta saw the Amazon Queen from such proximity and she stepped nearer to the horses flank. She studied the woman's well muscled leg in front of her. A dark deerskin boot, finished with brass and bone covered her foot and lower leg to the knee. A pink scar ran from the knee along the side of her well-tanned thigh, emphasizing the swell of the muscles when she flexed them, shifting her weight in the saddle.
She wears her scars handsomely, Hippolyta thought to herself.
At the top of the leg, a short skirt of the same leather parted at the front where she straddled the simple Amazon saddle. While the Queen spoke to the weaponmaster, Hippolyta's eyes rose assessing the rest of the woman's form. Ample breasts rested in a leather halter, ornamented and cross-buckled in front, leaving her arms free. She had well-muscled arms, like all the Amazons, and wore feathered bracers. A queen in leather. Hippolyta thought of her own royal wardrobe of silks and linen and shook her head.
"Amazons", Melosa said, in a rich alto voice. "Be prepared and keep your weapons by your side. A village in the southern valley has been sacked by marauders. They do not threaten us at present, but it is certain that they will soon exhaust their pillage and when they do they will come north. I have doubled the watch on the hillcrests and you should be ready for the alarm to be sounded when they move toward the pass."
Hippolyta studied the woman's handsome face. It was the serious strong-willed face of a woman used to commanding, but still unmistakably feminine. A mane of dark brown curls was tied back from her face with a leather headband, and hawk feathers were woven in her hair. The wind lifted them as she turned her horse and urged it into a gallop.
Hippolyta thought to herself, 'Magnificent. But Anthropos would have tamed her.' The sudden thought of Melosa writhing naked under Anthropos' rough body sent a shiver of pleasure through Hippolyta.
And gave her an idea.
At sunset, as the Amazon village was settling and the watch fires were lit, Hippolyta went to the Queen's house. She told the two guards standing before the door, "Hippolyta, Queen of the Imanni wishes to speak to Queen Melosa."
She was admitted, although with rather less ceremony, she thought, than was fitting for the meeting of two queens.
Melosa was poring over a map and greeted her cordially. An introduction was not necessary. Melosa knew all her Amazons, and she knew who the stranger was.
"Be welcome in my house, Hippolyta."
Hippolyta responded with similar courtesies. After they exchanged all the expected pleasantries, Hippolyta came to the point and the to reason for her visit.
"I offer an alliance between your army and mine."
"I was not aware you had an army."
"There are many of my husband's men who are still loyal, and they have influence. I am certain that the army of the Imanni would rebel at any time if I were to return in force and call them to arms."
"Aside from the truth of that which I will not question, what benefit would it be to the Amazon nation to do this?"
"My husband's men would follow me, and if I am joined with you, they would follow us both. Think of the striking power you would have. Amazons would no longer have to fear these roving bands of pillagers."
"And what would be the security of this alliance?" Melosa crossed her arms and Hippolyta marveled once again at the gentle curve of her muscles.
"I myself would be. Our union, the union of two queens would be the sealing of the alliance and its security."
"By 'union' I presume you mean of a....carnal nature."
"Isn't that the way among the Amazons? It is not MY nature. I was married until my husband fell in battle. But for the good of our two peoples, I would make this alliance with you on these..uuhh..terms. And I would stand by the contract,...as a matter of honor, you understand."
Melosa looked at her for a long moment and then spoke.
"I think you greatly misunderstand the nature of my interests. I thank you for your 'honor', but I must refuse your proposal and your...sacrifice."
"Then you do not care for women. I thought so. You are a man's woman. Well, then I would propose an alliance between our two armies on purely political grounds. If you would assist my army to regroup, we in turn would assist you in broadening your own territory."
" I am not "a man's woman" or anyone's woman at all. I am simply not interested. As for the political advantages, Amazons fight for the security of their own territory, which is not threatened by the new masters of the Imanni, however much they may have harmed you." Her voice softened, although it scarcely lessened the sting.
"I regret the fate of your husband's kingdom, but I see no benefit to Amazons in this alliance. Now if you will excuse me, I must prepare for a battle of my own." She lowered her eyes, signaling dismissal.
Hippolyta left chagrined. Not only had her dream of leading a great army against the warlords been dashed, she had been refused personally. And by a woman. She found it baffling. Why were women so much harder to handle than men?
She returned to training, and the preparations for the coming confrontation. With no household to maintain, and no occupation other than training, she applied herself. She soon became adept, and found she had a circle of admirers. They made gifts to her of headbands, earrings, and good feathers for her arrows. They offered her flirtation too, but always with restraint, and subtlety, and she found it easy to deflect . For her part she began to take them seriously as fighters, discarding her Imanni clothing, which was torn and soiled anyhow, for the brief leathers of an Amazon. She also learned their fletchwork and feathered her own arrows in their style. On the archer's field, she distinguished herself and received the acclaim of her teachers and of her cohorts.
But never of Melosa.
Ten days later the marauders attacked and lines of archers met them in the pass. Hippolyta was among them, in the forward line. At the signal they let fly a hail of arrows, and the men they aimed at fell or rode on wounded, while the rest fled. After the first volley, Hippolyta seized her opportunity.
Leaning her bow and quiver against a bush, Hippolyta broke ranks and ran into the pass to grab the reins of a beautiful riderless red pony. She was just about to mount it when she felt herself grabbed from behind by massive arms. Kicking and flailing, she was half dragged, half carried into a copse of trees and thrown to the ground. It was only one man, but he was huge, and confident of his prize. He flung himself on top of her, pulling her brief skirt aside and ripping the undergarment. He forced her legs apart and was about to thrust into her when he collapsed on her chest with a wet gurgle, the very tip of a knife blade jutting through his throat.
Hippolyta rolled out from under him, called out a thanks to the Amazon who saved her, a woman she did not even know, and scrambled back up the hill to retrieve her bow and quiver.
By then the remainder of the invading army had poured through the pass into the valley where the rest of the Amazons met them on the field.
Hippolyta tied her bow to her back and ran to join her comrades, mounted and on foot, in the tumult of battle. For two more hours she engaged the foreign horsemen with the short sword, pulling them from their mounts. All around her Amazons fought back to back with astonishing ferocity, killing any of the invaders they could reach. Any rider who was unhorsed was butchered. Neither side gave quarter nor asked for it. Riderless horses wandered among the dead and fallen but every time Hippolyta tried to reach for one, she saw another enemy blade and had to quickly counter.
The war cries and the cries of pain and the shrieking of the horses made it impossible to hear and follow orders or respond to cries for help but it seemed to Hippolyta that the sheer number of women still standing meant the tide was turning in their favor. But then she saw a knot of men on foot purposefully fighting their way toward the Queen, whom they must have recognized. Already both she and her white mount were splattered with blood, and her personal guard had been drawn away from her.
Hippolyta sheathed her sword and ran to a slight rise behind them. She reached the knoll and took precious life-threatening moments to untie and position the bow. In graceful movements she drew one arrow out of her quiver and in a slow downward movement aimed it at the first man reaching out to the Queens horse. She let fly and before the arrow hit home, she had drawn the next arrow and repeated the motion. In all she shot ten arrows, felling seven men and disabling three. The remaining five were killed by the Queen herself. Looking over her shoulder, Melosa nodded briefly at the archer and then nudged her pony forward after the fleeing invaders.
That night there were many wounded, and these were tended, while the Amazon dead were gathered together and laid on straw and kindling. The queen spoke over them with sorrow and dignity, not of heroism, but of dire necessity, of survival, and of the Amazon way. As she lit the huge pyre that would consume the young bodies, a keening rose up from the many mourners. Hippolyta was moved by the spectacle, and by the sight of the Queen, sovereign and savage in the flickering light. As the pyre burned low and the dreadful smell of the burning flesh of loved ones abated, the Amazons returned exhausted to their houses. Hippolyta was about to leave when the Queen came towards her in the semi-darkness. "Well fought, Hippolyta," she said in a voice deep and spent with sorrow, and then walked on. Hippolyta stood still, beset by pangs of what she had not known since childhood..... helpless longing.
Hippolyta brooded all the next day. And in the peaceful weeks that followed, she began to have thoughts that she had never had before.
Amazon life went on and her life went on with it, although she could not shake off the feeling of the foreigner. The peacetime labor of the archer is the hunt and she did this gladly. It took her mind off....what it was always on. Every day she went alone into the woods and never failed to bag some game. Birds and rabbits mostly, but one day Artemis sent a deer across her path. She felled it quickly, and carried the carcass back to the village where she handed it over to the village cooks, claiming only hunter's rights to the horns and hide.
Once the hide was cured, she held it in her hands and considered long what she should do with it. It was the first thing of value she had not been given as a gift from a victorious husband or a fawning retainer, but had gotten with the strength and skill of her own hands.
She had it sewn into a handsome riding kilt, falling just above the knees and split at the sides. She finished it herself along the seams with pieces of the horns of the same deer. It occupied her, and she needed that, and all the while she worked she turned over in her mind the thought of presenting it to Melosa. As compensation perhaps for the arrogant way she had approached her. Or just because she was the Queen. Hippolyta did not know Amazon customs and was not sure it was fitting. But finally she decided that a gift given openly, with genuine admiration, could not be bad.
Draping it over her arm one evening, just as the sun had set, she walked toward the house of the Queen. But just as she came in sight of the door, she saw Melosa in conversation with another woman who followed her with authority and familiarity into the house. It must be her lover, she thought, and all her hopes were dashed. She crept away to her own house.
After several nights of brooding and with a hunger that no hunt or battle could still, she went to the Shrine of Artemis.
It was little more than a simple hut and could hold no more than three or four worshippers at a time, which mattered little, since it was usually visited singly. On festival days when most of the village came to honor the Goddess with wreaths and offerings, celebrations were carried on outside.
Hippolyta had been in the shrine only once before, by the light of day, to assist the priestess in her duties. It looked different by candlelight.
The Goddess seemed much more present. The painted wooden statue, half the size of a woman and with her leaping stag beside her, stood over an oil lamp. Illuminated from below, it seemed to tower over the altar and the worshipper. Agate pebbles were pressed as eyes into the wood on both the Goddess and the stag, and they glowed in the lamplight as if life pulsed behind the faces of both, two forms of the same wild spirit.
On the steps below the altar were the recent offerings that had not yet cleared away and buried by the priestess: beaded leather bracelets, a lock of hair, fruit that had dried and flowers that had withered. Signs of all the longings of the supplicants. She added her own sacrifice, the exquisite riding kilt. Artemis had given her the deer; now she gave back the ornamented hide.
Kneeling before the Goddess, she failed at finding prayers or incantations, so hollow was her longing. "I had a kingdom" she whispered to the Goddess, "and now I have nothing. Oh, let me live again, and I will serve you".
The lampflame burned down and sputtered out, leaving the temple in the dim light of the door candles. Hippolyta covered her mouth in consternation and uncertainty. Was it a sign from Artemis? Or just negligence of the priestess. It was not fitting for the lamp to be estinguished even for a moment. She stood up and groped her way to the curtain covered alcove behind the altar where the priestess kept her tools. Bringing out the flint and amphora of oil she refilled the lamp and lit it, hoping that the Goddess was not offended. She could not endure divine disfavor along with her despair. But even the pious service of replenishing the lamp was interrupted. As she set the amphora back in its place, she heard another supplicant enter.
Kneeling in the alcove, she could see through the coarse weave of the curtain but could not herself be seen. She was embarrassed to be found there late at night and also to be witnessing the solitary worship of another, so she remained still, waiting for the intruder to make her sacrifice and leave.
Oh, Gods! It was Melosa.
Hippolyta held her breath, and looked through the curtain at the hazy figure lit by the light of the holy lamp.
Melosa did not pray, or if she did, she did it silently. She knelt on one knee for a moment and then removed her headband, the symbol of her authority.
She seeks the blessing of the goddess on her rule, Hippolyta thought to herself. But Melosa only stared into the flame, laid her forehead in her hand for a moment, and then got up to leave. She had been there less than three minutes.
Hippolyta crouched behind the curtain trembling. The dying of the flame and her relighting it. And then Melosa. Was it all a sign? She could go crazy puzzling it out. Well, she was already crazy, and Melosa was alone. It was time to act.
She went back out before the Goddess, cut out a lock of her hair and laid it on the altar in place of the kilt. "Thank you" she said to the glowing agate eyes and, holding the kilt to her heart, she went directly from the shrine to the house of the Queen.
She was admitted by the guards.
Melosa was standing by one of the cressets which warmed and lit the hut. She turned and smiled and said in a low voice, "Hippolyta. Have you come to renegotiate your alliance?"
"You mock me. Well, I deserve it, for my arrogance. But no, this time I've simply come to see you."
Melosa lit the second cresset on the left side of her royal seat with embers from the one on the right. The low light cast a sheen on the wolfskins covering the chair. Hippolyta shifted her weight from one leg to the other, nervous and unsure.
"Will you have some wine?"
Hippolyta nodded mutely and accepted the cup.
"What is it you want to see me about?"
"The last time I was here I was so...presumptuous. I wish I could erase that visit and that stupid proposal. I don't want anything like that any more."
"What DO you want, Hippolyta?"
"I want to be part of this nation. To be with you."
"You are already part of this nation, and my finest archer. And now you are with me."
Her smile could have meant anything.
Then she turned away, , as if losing interest in the conversation and set down the wine pitcher.
Taking a deep breath, Hippolyta persisted.
"I watched you on the battlefield that day as you laid about you with the sword. I thought, the Queen of the Amazons is very beautiful."
Melosa sipped her wine. "Are your thoughts in battle always so...amorous?"
"Uuhh, no. Well, I had never been in battle before and certainly not one led by a woman. It stirred something in me that I did not expect."
Melosa was silent again, but her gentle eyes said 'Go, on.'
Hippolyta went on and words came pouring out. She knew she would regret them.
"I watch you standing before your Amazons and I think of you in ways that I have never thought about any woman before. How you smell, what you must be like in passion. When I see you riding, I imagine your thighs touching the saddle and I can hardly breathe.
"Such ardor, from a 'man's woman'."
"It was stupid of me to have said it that way. But it's true, I don't know how to be with a woman. But I ... I want to be with you."
There was an agonizing silence. A coal popped in the cresset. Hippolyta heard her own breathing.
"I've brought you a gift from my own hand." She held out the kilt.
Taking the kilt, Melosa sat down and set her booted foot on the knot of firewood next to the chair She looked at the gift, her expression unreadable, and still she would not speak. Hippolyta felt humiliation washing over her. Oh, Gods. She had disgraced herself a second time. She set down the wine cup.
"It is lovely. It's from a deer you shot, isn't it?"
"Yes, Artemis gave the deer to me. And I give it's beauty to you."
"I will wear it .tomorrow."
Then she said very quietly, a touch of hoarseness in her voice, "Come here".
Hippolyta was momentarily paralyzed.
Then, with her own heartbeat pounding in her ears, she walked the two steps to where the queen sat and knelt before her. Melosa opened her knees the slightest bit, a subtle gesture of permission. Hippolyta felt warmth radiating up from the Queen's body. It was intoxicating.
She laid a trembling hand on the queen's left knee, slowly, as if fearing that it would be seized and thrust away. It was not. She felt the top of the supple riding boot below the knee and moved her hand a fraction higher on the woman's thigh. Still the Queen did not react, but her eyes were glowing coals. Time slowed, and the kneeling woman studied every muscle around the mouth of the Queen, every loose hair curling around her cheek. Hippolyta laid her other hand on the right knee, and leaned forward slightly.
Melosa said, "I saw you standing in the battlefield. Exposed and defenseless while you readied your bow. Indifferent to the danger. Sending one arrow after another, picking off each of those men as they touched me. I wanted to stop and just stare at you."
"I saw nothing but you, the white horse, your flashing sword. A white spot on the seething brown mass trying to capture you. I loved you then and would have stood there until every arrow -- or my life --was spent, saving you from those men. But you saved yourself, of course."
" I thought you might come to me again, that night, or the next. But you didn't."
"I couldn't. I had insulted you, And I saw another woman with you. I thought......"
"But you did come, finally."
I had to, finally. I couldn't bear it any longer."
The Queen leaned forward and took Hippolyta's face in her hands and covered her mouth with her own. It was the first kiss ever, out of her marriage bed. Remembering the mouth of her husband, Hippolyta waited for the slobbering invasion she was used to, and was astonished at the delicacy of the kiss. Melosa's lips were barely parted and the tip of her tongue darted like a question over the kneeling woman's lips. A question that could be answered yes or no. Hippolyta opened to her, answering the question and the Queen responded back, and wordlessly and with increasing ardor, they told each other of their want. Hippolyta slid her hands from the Queen's knees slowly up to the top of her thighs under her leather skirt.
Melosa stood up slowly, pulling the supplicant with her and they stood in a gentle embrace. Melosa murmured in her ear, "My splendid archer", and drew a line, from her ear to the corner of her mouth with the tip of her tongue. "Come lie down with me."
Hippolyta's heart raced at the invitation. To lie in Melosa's bed.
Melosa removed her own boots, halter and bracers, the bone ornaments clattering as they fell to the ground and then undid the laces of Hippolyta's shirt and let it drop. Hippolyta felt heat spread downward to a painful tightness as Melosa caressed her with her fingertips, running them over her lips and throat and breasts.
Then the Queen untied both their skirts and underthings and drew the younger woman with her onto the bed.
They lay down facing each other. Melosa's mouth and tongue which had commanded armies, was gentle now. It probed softly in Hippolyta's mouth; each thrust, distinct, sent jolts of pleasure. Hippolyta answered with her own tongue, and Melosa sucked it into her mouth. Hippolyta pressed herself against the Queen, craving contact, but Melosa would not hurry. The Queen's mouth moved down over her chin down her throat. She raked her teeth down Hippolyta's chest and became gentle again at the breast and sucked its tip into her mouth.
Hippolyta pulled Melosa on top of her, the slippery wetness of their arousal mingling with each touch and movement. Out of long habit, she opened her legs for the conquering penetration.
"Not so fast my lovely archer. Do not hurry this. You must make love each time as if it were the last."
She kissed Hippolyta down the length of her body with languid kisses, with lips and tongue and curling patterns, delaying consummation. It was the sweetest ceremony and she would not diminish it with urgency.
But if it was for Melosa a celebration, for Hippolyta it was overthrow and capture.
Melosa opened Hippolyta's legs with ardent hands, and pressed her mouth against the woman's seeping sex. Hippolyta gasped at the sensation. It was as if the Queen and all her Amazons were claiming her. Behind her feverish eyelids Hippolyta saw them pouring down the hills, splendid in their feathered savagery. Their war-whoops mingled with the thunder of their horses' hooves crashing across streams, kicking water into dazzling droplets. Each thrust and stroke of Melosa's tongue brought them closer and when their Queen closed her lips on the tiny center of her desire, they reached her and seized her up among them. Hippolyta was at once captive and rider and rode onward, breathless, over Melosa's mouth. Incandescent waves spread outward through her legs, undulations of the horse that climbed to airless heights. And climbed. And .climbed.
And reached the precipice and toppled weightless into honey'd air.
When the sweet euphoria had ebbed, she opened her eyes, not to a snoring husband, but to the smoldering eyes of Melosa. The captive now one of the conquerors, Hippolyta felt a rush of new authority, power,.
So this is lust, she thought, pressing the Queen down against the pillows. She savored the tastes and smells of their lovemaking, of hair and skin and wetness. She covered the other woman's mouth, tasting Melosa and herself. For a brief thrilling moment she held the Queens throat in her teeth, and tasted the salty sweat of her exertion. Shifting her weight, she moved her head down to suckle. How could she not have known what joy it was to have a woman's breast in her mouth, to feel it harden at the tip and know she was the cause. She slid her hand down Melosa's hard belly into the moist hair between her thighs. She became aroused again herself in the doing, by the sensation of her fingers entering another woman, by Melosa's muscular response, and by the thought that a proud Queen writhed in pleasure under her. Melosa whispered "More", and she thrust in again, long and slow and firm, and felt Melosa's raking nails, delicious on her back and buttocks. And as her ardor grew, Hippolyta conquered her, while Melosa's hands grasped and scratched her conqueror wherever she could reach. In the final throes of ecstasy, she dragged nailed fingers upward along her lover's thigh breaking the flesh in a long slash . Hippolyta felt only the thrill of sensation. It was not until the first light of morning, after they had loved again, that she saw the smear of dried blood and the gash.
"You wounded me!" she laughed.
"No, I have just marked you. A mark that will say, 'here two queens have loved'".
"Two women have loved. I was never a queen like you. I was just the wife of a king".
"You will learn. Do you miss your husband?"
"My husband? No, I do not miss him any more. All the years we were together he kept me tame. You have made me wild."
" Wild. Is that what you think we are?"
"Yes, I think you are. When I first came here I did not take you seriously. The Amazons I mean. But now I know, in war you are ferocious. In love you are wild."
"Ah, but the nation is on shifting sands." She took Hippolyta's hand and curled it against her. "Things change....".
Then she rose, alone, to wash and dress while Hippolyta watched from the bed. She put on the kilt that Hippolyta had made and came to stand before her.
"It's beautiful, Hippolyta. You can't know how precious this is to me today. Now, you've broken all my feathers. Will you plait new ones in my hair?"
Hippolyta rose, and quickly dressed and did her bidding, besotted with love.
"Gods! You look so lovely. I want all the Amazons to see you this way."
Before the Queen could answer, there was a knock, and one of the guards entered.
"Queen Melosa, are you ready?"
Melosa reached down and picked up something from the floor and turned around. In her hands she held a set of reins, fine oiled leather ornamented with brass and silver. She held it out to Hippolyta.
"Here. This is my gift to you, and the horse it belongs to as well. Aurelia" she nodded at the guard "will see to it". Then she kissed Hippolyta gently and to her expression of confusion said, "It is the Amazon way."
Queen Melosa turned again to follow her guard. "Yes, I'm ready now. Tell Velasca I am ready for the challenge."
And walked out of the house into the Amazon morning.
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