The following is a story by my own nykel, Tai called "Tais Return". This takes place shortly before "Cyrenźs Tale" . Same disclaimers apply. I was reading this at the same time I was writing "Cyrenes Tale", so you will probably see the influence of my sisters tale as you read. Anyone wishing to to send feedback may send it to my e-mail address, QueenLaese@aol.com and I will forward. Thank-you.
The midnight stallion pawed nervously at the ground while the golden blonde of his mistress' hair blew in the wind. Dressed in royal blue, her tribe's leader's colors, the young woman watched the sea's colors change with the onslaught of the coming storm.
She was sure this was the place to meet Lukos. Her visions told her this was to be the day, the hour, yes even the moment he would be returned to her, if only for a little while.
She had waited so long; it seemed, forever
Queen Taiytelata of Lycastia, Daughter of Astraea, was unlike any other stereotypical Amazon. She preferred the company of men. Although Queen Melysė of the Aemetzainź was her oath sister and Tai found her extremely intelligent, she found most women to be tedious in their pettiness and mundane in their conversation. Because of this and her sadness at losing Lukos, Taiytelata left her tribe in the hands of her sister Amelea and had lived in relative solitude raising her twins, Kaiyte and Telaros. Her only woman visitor, besides her blood sister and her companion Mikala, was Melysė her chosen and faithful sister.
Melysė had come by that morning, personally, entreating her dearest friend to return to her duties and lead her tribe against an ancient warlord, Grabthar. Tai had no heart for warfare. She, like Melysė, preferred the quiet study of healing and magic. However, she couldn't deny the pleadings of her oath sister. But before she could fulfill her pledge to her sister, she had one undertaking left to fulfill before she could join the Queen of the Aemetzainź. That was one of the heart.
Lukos was her mate, her soul, her heart, her everything. They had met during the time of Atlantis when she had traveled back in time to retrieve an antidote to cure Lysė of a terrible disease that had spread throughout the tribe. When she arrived in Atlantis it was to find she, too, had contracted the disease. Lukos had cured her of the disease and during her recovery they had fallen in love. She chose to marry him instead of pledging herself to a consort. Tai needed to return to her time to give the antidote to her sister, Melysė. Lukos stayed behind and she had intended to return to him but found it was too late - because unbeknownst to both of them this was the time just before the fall of Atlantis and it had sunk into the Aegean Sea. Tai prayed to Hekate, the Goddess of all, that Lukos be spared. In order to ease her mind, Hekate told Tai, in visions, of how she would see her true heart and soul mate again, if only briefly.
Up until this time while she waited on the beach, Tai lost herself in her sadness at losing Lukos. Even the happiness of giving birth to Lukos and her twins did not quiet the tumult she felt at the loss. She hadn't wanted to listen to Hekate or Melysė for seven years as they tried to reason with her, to understand this pain she felt deep inside. She had given him up as Atlantis sank and though Tai would never have forsaken Lysė she still harbored thoughts of dissatisfaction at what had occurred.
She loved Lukos as no other and Tai had prayed to the Goddess to strengthen her resolve to stay with Melysė and train in the temple rather than run and hide in sorrow. Tai did finish her training and returned to her tribe to lead as Queen; only to find that after the birth of her babies that she had no will to lead a tribe of Amazons. Tai felt she needed to leave for a time escape from her duties and to meditate which led to her honing her skills as a healer and wielder of magic. Tai always had the gift and had been trained early on by the tribe's healer, but since she had been alone her skills had become so perfected that she had no trouble reading, or feeling for that matter, anyone's emotions or well being. Tai was truly an empath. She could now draw from others their pain and agony, release them from it, strengthen them and return them all the better for it.
Now as she sat upon her stallion watching the sea as it changed color, all of it seemed unimportant except the thought of seeing her Lukos for one last time. As a shadow of shimmer hit the water Tai dismounted and Hekate stepped forward to embrace her child. "Daughter, it is good to see you. You have more color to your cheeks since last we spoke. Do you fare well?"
"Yes, Mother. I am happy this day has finally come. I'm only sorry it is a time of storms," replied Tai.
"Yes, storms. Taiytelata there is one last thing before you see him. You will only have until tomorrow at the hour of night to day. Be careful that you do not upset the time line. You may not warn him of the coming storm. You may not tell Lukos what you know. I will also tell you this; someone of great importance seeks you. Take the time to speak with him. It will be hard to take the time from Lukos but it is vital to your wellbeing and understanding of the changes that are about to take place within you. I go now to open the door."
"Mother, wait. What do you mean I cannot let Lukos know. Know what?"
"My daughter, be at peace. Time is fluid. I am bringing him forward as a gift to you. For now he will be alive, but in our time he is no more. I have chosen a time that was before his death. He knows nothing of the fall of Atlantis." Hekate placed her arms around her daughter and held her for a moment. "Be strong, Taiytelata. All will be well."
Hekate turned and walked into the shimmer. Tai turned to her stallion Mirth whispering in his ear to stay. He nuzzled her ear as if to say, "be at peace my friend." Tai followed the Goddess to the edge of the sea. In the distance she saw her friend Dolphinium jumping out of the water as if giving her strength for what was ahead. She waved and sent her thoughts back to him in the old tongue. He swam off into the horizon sending her thoughts of love and peace and strength.
Hekate did not return, but out of the shimmer stood Lukos. Her Lukos, hardly changed and infinitely more wonderful than she remembered.
"Tai? Tai!" Lukos grabbed her and swung her around kissing her as her feet hit the sand. "What happened? Where did you go? Where are we?"
Laughing and crying at the same time Tai hugged him back kissing him with an abandonment that left him breathless. "Lukos you knew that I had to return to Lysė to give her the antidote. I tried to return but . . . I found I couldn't. The time rift closed behind me and I couldn't reopen it." She invented quickly. "I'm so happy to see you, it's been so long."
"Tai, my heart, it's only been a day since you left." Lukos said with a smile.
"A day?" wondered Tai then remembered when she left him. "Of course, a day. It just seems like an eternity when I am not with you. As to the where, the Goddess allowed you to visit my time until tomorrow at the eve of the new day. Come, my stallion is just there and we can go to my cottage. I have some friends I'd like you to meet."
"Friends at a time like this? I have a better idea for now." Said Lukos. "It's been a whole day and night since we loved. There is no one around, do you not think that . . ."
Tai thought for a brief moment. "Why not? You are right there is no one else around and Goddess I have missed you so! Let's go out into the grotto. It reminds me of the place where we made love the first time."
Tai and Lukos divested themselves of their clothing and entered the water swimming a little ways towards the grotto that edged the shore. Tai had hungered for this moment for so long that she could hardly contain her passion for her husband. The time they had was so precious she felt they needed to make the most of every moment.
Afterwards, the two of them returned to the beach out of breath and happily drying each other off. "You get better with age, my love," teased Lukos.
"It's been a while, dear heart," replied Tai "but you, you are by far the best."
"Best?" replied Lukos cocking an eyebrow. "I'd better be the only one so far."
"Ah, my love, you are the one and only of my heart and soul," Tai answered him caressing his face with her fingertips. "Come, let us go home." They both mounted Mirth and started towards the cottage.
As they rode along, the rain started to fall. Tai didn't mind the rain; in fact she reveled in it. Water to her was healing, hoping, and trust. Water was all. They were almost to her small stone cottage when a rather tall man with a snow-white beard came out of nowhere. Mirth stopped abruptly jolting Tai and Lukos in the saddle.
"Mirth, whatever is the matter?" asked Tai.
"I am the matter mistress," answered the stranger. "I seek shelter from the storm. Do you know where I might find some?"
"Just below this hill is a tavern with rooms to let. A friend of mine, named Meg, runs it. You will find her most congenial. Tell her Tai sent you."
"Tai? That will be fine. I thank you for your courtesy, mistress," said the stranger gratefully.
Tai looked behind her to Lukos, but he was patting Mirth and not seeming to pay attention. "You are welcome, sir." Tai hesitated a moment then asked, "Are you the one I am to expect?"
"I would like to get out of this rain," said the stranger avoiding her question. "I bid you farewell, fair lady and sir."
"Of course. I am sorry for detaining you in this weather. Just continue on down this path," said Tai watching as he walked on. There was something familiar about him. It was as if she had seen him . . . she had seem him in a dream. As soon as she thought it, the thought left her and Tai continued on to the cottage. When they arrived, they dismounted and Tadius, her houseman, took her stallion to the barn. Tai and Lukos entered the cottage to find the two children running around a woman who was laughing gleefully watching them.
"Mikala, I'm back. How were the children for you?" Tai deliberately did not look at Lukos for fear of what she might see. She felt his awe and confusion, but not enlightenment.
"Kaiyte and Telaros were wonderfully well behaved as usual, Tai. We just finished our studies and have energy to spare, methinks," answered Mikala. "I will go now to tend to your dinner if you like. Anything you especially wish for?"
"Anything will be fine, Mikala, thank you." Tai looked at Lukos who was still staring at the children in awe. "Lukos, do you remember when you said it was a day to you?"
Lukos nodded his head. "Well, my heart, it has been seven years for me." Tai said quietly. "Lukos, these are your children, Kaiyte Mariyte and Lukos Telaros. I found when I came back that I was with children." Smiling Tai asked the children to come and meet Lukos.
Lukos was astounded - seven years and he had children . . . him? How was it possible? Why? When? He turned to Taiytelata and asked, "When, how, why didn't you tell me?"
"Lukos, my heart, I could no longer see you because the door was closed." Hekate, as a favor to me, brought you back for one last time. After this brief time I cannot see you again. The time band only allows so much travel I'm told." Said Tai sadly.
Lukos looked at her stunned. No, this was not possible. And the children . . . Lukos looked at the children then turned to Tai. "They are such lovely children. Kaiyte looks like a miniature version of you and Telaros looks like I did as a child. They are beautiful Tai and I thank you for them." He put his arms around Tai hugging her closely to him.
"Children, this is your father. Remember how I told you that some day you'd meet him? This is Lukos." Tai said smiling separating herself a little from Lukos. "Can you say hello to him?"
"Hello, Father," said Telaros with a stiff little bow and a tiny smile. "How do you fare?"
"I fare well, Telaros, thank you. How do you fare?" answered Lukos with equal formality and with a tiny smile of his own.
"I fare well, too, Father. Thank you," Telaros said. "I am awfully glad to meet you. Meia told us you live somewhere else." Telaros suddenly hugged his father then ran to Tai hugging her his face in her cloak.
"My name is Kaiyte Mariyte. I have blue eyes like yours. Meia says you are the nicest man she has ever met. Are you going to stay forever?"
"I wish I could Kaiyte. But I'm told I can only stay until mid of night," answered Lukos. Kaiyte went up to him, looked him in the eyes, put her hands one on each side of his face and closed her eyes for a moment.
"He's sad, Meia. I can make you feel better, Father." Before Tai could stop her young daughter, Kaiyte hugged him gently and as she did so a soft warm glow encircled both her and Lukos. When she let him go she looked at him again and announced, "You are not so sad anymore are you?"
"No . . . no I'm not, Kaiyte. What did you just do?" asked Lukos with a bewildered expression.
"Children, it is time for you to wash for supper. Please go with Tadius while I talk with your father," ordered Tai. The children turned obediently to go when Kaiyte looked over her shoulder at her mother.
"Meia, I just wanted him to be better. Did I do something wrong?"
"No, my love, just unexpected. Go on with your brother, sweeting," smiled Tai.
"What did she just do, Tai?" asked Lukos.
"It seems that Kaiyte has inherited my gift of empathic healing," she answered. "I am going to have to start training her and see how much of my gift she has inherited.
"You have been through this all alone without me to support you. And when I leave this night, you will be alone again," Lukos said softly shaking his head. "I am so sorry for that."
"I've never been alone, truly. My oath sister Melysė is always there in my thoughts. We are able to speak to one another with our thoughts from great distances. My blood sister Amelea visits with me and I have Mikala who helps with the children and my training. I chose to be alone to practice my arts to be a stronger person for the people of this village. I am their healer."
"Healer? Have you chosen to be a physician, Tai, like I am?" asked Lukos. "If you came back with me to Atlantis with the children, we could be so happy. We could heal the sick together and have more children."
"More children? Well, that can be arranged if we keep up what we did the first time we saw each other this afternoon," laughed Tai. "As far as returning with you to Atlantis, I'm afraid I cannot. That door is closed to me now. But we will speak of it later. Come, I think Mikala has supper for us. Come, children." Kaiyte and Telaros followed their parents into the dining area.
At Meg's tavern, the stranger entered and was greeted by the owner. "Well, howdy stranger. What can we do for you?"
"If you are Meg, Tai sent me," replied the Stranger.
"Tai, huh? Well, come on in before you soak my curtain here. Come on. What did she send you here for? A room, a bottle of my best, a girl?"
"A room, thank you, Meg. If you have a hot meal that would be appreciated as well," answered the stranger.
"We have one that just became available and a hot meal is a yes, too. Where'd ya meet Tai? She ain't one for talkin' much. Great healer, though. I had a monstrous headache one-day and she put some of those herbs together and whoosh no more headache. She's got a touch that is golden"
"On the road to the village."
"You asked me where I met Tai and I said on the road to the village," answered the stranger shaking the rain off of his hat. "It's pretty wet for a ride."
"Tai is always one who enjoys a good rain. Melysė, her "oath" sister she calls her, use to not be able to get her out of it when they were small. Did ya know that Tai can talk to fish? Yep, she made friends with one of them there dolphins and lived on the water for a while. She's special, she is."
"Yes." The stranger looked very long into Meg's eyes, then smiled. "My room, please, Meg. I am very wet and very tired."
"Surely. What name should I put down."
"Myrlion. I am called Myrlion," answered the stranger.
"Myr . . . uh lion? Myrlion. Hmmm. What kind of name is that exactly?" asked Meg curiously as she showed him the way to the rooms above. "Not from around here I bet."
"No, much farther to the north, dear lady. And your rain is a bit warmer than Britannia," said Myrlion as he followed her. "It is not so cold to these old bones."
"Britannia? Oh ho! That's a far bit of traveling."
"Not really. I have a way of getting where I'm going quickly, Meg. Much thanks for letting me stay," said Myrlion gratefully as they reached his room. "I really could use the rest."
"You let me know what else you need when I bring up your supper. It isn't much tonight due to the storm always blowin' out my fire. But it should be edible. I'm known for my wild boar stew and a bit of the grape," said Meg proudly.
"Thank you, Meg both would be appreciated," said Myrlion. He shut the door as Meg turned to leave. He looked around the room of the tavern and used a binding spell to keep the elements out further. He used a repel spell to keep the wind from blowing out Meg's fire then lie down on the bed and closed his eyes. Myrlion concentrated on Taiytelata. He could feel her essence even from here. He wanted to contact her earlier, when she had reached the age of ascendancy, but time prevented him. If he was going to keep the ancient evil from causing great grief, they were going to need Tai's skills. Already her oath sister had brought her back for one of those battles. Would Tai listen to him? Would she recognize him? He had put a memory charm on her and her mother to stop the pain of loss. He became lost in his thoughts and did not here the quiet knock at first.
"Sir? Mister Myrlion, sir?" inquired a small, shy voice.
"Yes, please enter," answered Myrlion getting up from his bed.
"Mistress Meg sent me to give you your supper. She was able to heat it up. Strange thing that. The wind isn't coming through the roof opening. The fire is so cheerful now."
"Thank you miss. What is your name?" asked Myrlion.
"Clandia, sir," she said curtseying. "Is there anything else in which I might serve you?"
"No, but my thanks for asking," replied Marylyn.
"Well, then I must go because I need to finish washing the dishes, sir. If you leave your plate outside the door, I will come and get it later and not have to disturb you. Have a good night, sir."
"Thank you again, Clandia. Good night." The door closed behind her and Myrlion started to eat. Meg was right, this was very tasty. After he finished his supper he washed up and lay back down on the bed. Soon he was in a state of deep meditation. His spirit flew across the village to Tai's cottage.
Tai awoke with a start. She looked over at the sleeping form of her beloved husband then realized someone else was in the room. She also realized that it did not have flesh. At first she was frightened, then after calming her spirit she knew whom it was without reservation.
"Taiytelata, we must speak together. I have much to tell you."
Tai put her finger to her lips and motioned him out of the bedchamber into the living area. "I cannot be seen by anyone other than you, Tai," said Myrlion.
"Yes, that may be true, but I do not want Lukos thinking I am mad talking to myself," smiled Tai. "Now suppose you tell me what it is you want of me."
"There is a storm brewing over the earth."
"Storms are always coming and going, sir. But all over the earth at one time?" asked Tai skeptically.
"Let me start at the beginning. I am a wizard. I am the oldest of all the wizards. We are immortal beings who fight the ancient evil. You were to be told of your immortality when you reached the age of ascendancy, but I wanted to keep you safe until the need was imperative. I made you sleep and put a memory spell on you to make you think it was a dream. Tai have you not wondered how you came into your powers at such a young age? Has it not seemed strange to you that you have the ability to cross time lines and not upset the time continuum? Have you not wondered why you can speak the language of creation? You talk to dolphins. You talk to your friend in thought. This is not something that happens to just anyone. You are one of a small number of beings who were designated by the Creator to be fighters of evil," explained Myrlion.
"Immortal? How is that possible? I was ill and Lukos cured me."
"You can be ill. But you would not have died. If you had not traveled back to Atlantis, your beloved friend and oath sister would have died and the darkness would have won. She has a great destiny as you have. You did it out of love. Tai, I will be here for a while. After Lukos returns to his time, we will talk again."
Tai pondered this for a moment then said, "Lukos had to die, didn't he? He needed to die."
Myrlion looked at her. "We will speak more of this later. Get some rest. You do not have much time with him. Make the most of it. Goodnight, my child. Sleep well."
"Good-night, Myrlion." Myrlion's spirit vanished in front of her.
Tai returned to the bedchamber waking up Lukos. Lukos looked into her eyes and took Tai into his arms sighing with pleasure at the thought of sharing their love one more time this evening.
The next morning found Tai gazing out over the ocean from the back of her cottage. In the distance Dolphinium was standing out of the water dancing backwards singing to her. Tai laughed sending her thanks to her sea friend. Dolphinium spoke to her, "Tai, you knew all along did you not? Did you not tell me of the dream you had where a man with a white beard came to tell you about your immortality? Why are you so pensive? Rejoice and be glad thereof for today begins a journey unlike any other."
Tai sighed, "Dolphie, I am pensive because it takes me from the peace and quiet of my village life. I cannot fully protect my children if I am always going into battle. It is the reason I chose to stay hidden from view."
"You were never destined to have a life of quiet solitude, Taiytelata. I tried to tell you that when you came to live with us on the sea all those years ago. You chose not to listen when we talked of your dream three years hence from your journey with us," admonished Dolphinium.
"I was hoping that it would not be necessary for me to fight in wars of any kind. Mikala has trained me to be a healer and healer I intend to be," Tai said with a note of defiance in her thoughts. "I need to go in to break fast with my family. Try to understand, Dolphie, I want what I have now."
"I will go back to the pod and let them know how you fare, Tai," sighed Dolphinium. "May I send greetings back with me from you?"
"As always Dolphie, give them my love," Tai replied.
"You may not believe this now, my old friend, but you will make a different decision and it will be sooner than you think. My love goes with you," said Dolphinium as he turned and swam away from her.
Tai felt tears in her eyes as she watched her friend swimming quickly towards the horizon. She knew he was right. But what right had anyone to upset the joy of this moment in time with Lukos and the children. Tai turned and went into the cottage. As she entered the doorway she heard the sound of laughter from the dining chamber. Lukos was teaching the children how to break an egg with one hand. The sweet moment brought more tears to Tai's eyes and they threatened to spill over down her cheeks. She rubbed her hands over her eyes, took a deep breath, and walked into the cottage.
Lukos looked up as she entered the room. "You were up early, my love. Do you fare as well this morn as I?"
Tai smiled at him dropping a kiss gently on his forehead, "Yes, my heart, I fare very well. Now, with what have those little ones decided they want to break fast?"
"We want what father is making for us," announced Telaros.
"Yes," agreed Kaiyte.
"Alright, proceed, Lukos. I am going in to speak with Mikala. It will let you spend more time alone with the children," said Tai leaving a happy Lukos and cheerful twins.
Tai went into Mikala's sleep chamber to speak about the night before. "Mikala, I am troubled."
"Troubled? You find Myrlion's visit troubling do you? Why?"
Tai smiled at her mentor's questions not surprised she knew about last night. "I do not wish to leave the life I have here for one of battles against the dark side. The children are to be protected from this evil world."
"Taiytelata! Have I taught you nothing? Have you forgotten your gift? You have been handed an opportunity to help others to see the light. The children need to be protected yes, but they also need to learn how to protect themselves against evil. If they stay here it will only keep them naļve and helpless against those who would oppose the light and goodness. I cannot allow you to do that anymore. It isn't safe for you, the children, Lukos, your tribe, or this village for that matter," said Mikala forcefully. "You are being selfish!"
"Selfish?" Tai asked astounded. "I thought I was been selfless giving up the tribe for one of quiet healing."
"You are only fooling yourself if you believe that Tai. You know you wanted out when you thought you lost Lukos for good. You are an immortal, Taiytelata. You can cross lines of time and space if you choose to - to any given moment in time. Do you think that you cannot cross those lines anytime or call him to you? Do you not realize that . . ." Mikala was interrupted by Myrlion who said:
"Halt and cease, Mikala. She is not to know all at this point. It will serve no purpose to our fight."
"I am sorry, Myrlion. Forgive me. I only thought it might help her to understand her capabilities."
"Her sacrifice cannot be made with too much knowledge," answered Myrlion.
"You realize of course how rude it is to talk of me as if I am not here," said Tai archly. "Fine don't tell me anything more. I do not think I could handle it anyway. What exactly do you want from me, Myrlion? I thought we weren't going to talk until Lukos left tonight."
"Things have changed. Come with me to the Aemetzainė village now."
"No," answered Tai
"No?" Myrlion repeated. "No?"
"No. Lukos is here. When he goes I will come with you, but not before."
"Taiytelata, if you do not come now, all will be lost," said Mikala.
Tai closed her eyes and concentrated for a moment. She looked as if she was listening then opened her eyes. "No, all will not be lost, Mikala. Lysė says that I have time. Grabthar has not made a move towards her village. She and Xena feel that there is nothing to be gained by rushing in at this time. I will wait."
"Mikala, I would like a word with Tai alone if I may," asked Myrlion.
Mikala nodded slowly then moved into the outer chamber following the sound of the children and Lukos' laughter. She turned her head and said:
"Tai, you have a duty."
"Yes, I do, to my family. Can you not understand that my family comes first above all else?" asked Tai. Silently Mikala left the room.
Myrlion looked at Tai for a moment and said quietly, "Can you feel Grabthar's heart? Can you tell if Melysė and Xena are right in their summation of what is occurring?"
Tai stood quietly with her hands at her side. In her mind she flew across space and time to where the heart of Grabthar was. She saw him clearly. Red beard, red hair, filthy dirty from traveling - a big beast of a man. Tai saw into his heart and soul. "He is thinking of me. They are not pleasant thoughts. How he knows of me, I do not understand but he is in no rush. He thinks no he seems to know he will win, and will wait." Tai opened her eyes to look at Myrlion. "You taught me how to do that, didn't you? I know you I have known you before this time. I know who you are. You left us to fight . . . you left us."
"Tai, we need to plan. We do not have the time for this."
"If Mikala is right. I have all the time in the world. Who are you? Are you my father?" asked Tai.
"Tai? The children are waiting for you to eat with us," said Lukos entering Mikala's chamber. Noticing Myrlion he continued, "Hello again. It is nice to see you. Have you broken fast yet? Can we offer you some food? There is plenty."
"No, thank you. Tai, you and I will speak again, later."
"Are you? Answer me," said Tai as if the conversation hadn't been interrupted.
"Yes," answered Myrlion and with that he vanished from sight.
A thick mist shrouded the enemy camp outside the Aemetzainź village. Every so often a great roar of displeasure emanated from the largest of the tents. Melysė and Xena looked over the field from the hill beyond.
"That mist should keep them in confusion for a while," observed Xena.
"I think that is what Tai had in mind when she wielded it," said Lysė.
"Tai did this? How? She's leagues away from here."
"Tai is a master magic wielder - although even I am impressed at the magnitude of power this entails. My sister is stronger than even I imagined," Melysė said softly. "Wait - I hear her."
Melysė closed her green eyes concentrating hard. Xena looked over at her a slight frown upon her forehead. Even though she respected Tai she was a bit in awe of her power. But she wouldn't let anyone know this - not even Melysė. To admit a weakness, even to her heart mate, would allow someone to take advantage and cause great harm.
"She apologizes for not advising us about the mist. Lukos leaves tonight and she needs a diversion to keep Grabthar here and not advancing on us until she and Myrlion can get here to help fight," explained Melysė.
"Myrlion? Are we talking about that old wizard from Britannia that we met a while ago?" asked Xena. "What on earth could he do to help."
"Apparently, a lot from what Tai has told me. It seems he is an immortal. This is what he does for humanity," said Melysė her eyes fixed on the field ahead of them. "It looks like they will be here for tonight. I don't feel we need to worry until tomorrow morning. Let's let Gabrielle and Arynė know what is going on."
They both nudged their horses towards the village lodge. In the distance they heard another great roar emanate from the mist.
Back in Meg's Tavern Myrlion was pacing back and forth. "How can she be so stubborn at a time like this? Did you not teach her responsibility along with her powers, Hera?"
Mikala stood in front of him patiently listening to his tirade. "Myrlion, I have given her all of the training you requested of me. Even Zeus had no idea that I was training her for this battle. She has a great sense of responsibility, but she also has a great love of her family. Tai would never willingly sacrifice others for her own benefit. Besides you were to train her. She is after all, your daughter."
"I was called away to another battle," replied Myrlion. "But that is unimportant now. What is important is for us to convince her to fight Grabthar once again."
"When did she fight him before?"
"Tai has always fought him," Myrlion said thoughtfully. She fights him now, though she does not realize it. It is what keeps her from Melysė's village. It has suddenly occurred to me that the battle has already begun and I do not think she is really aware of it. Quickly, Hera, we must go to Tai's cottage, I fear what is happening. If she doesn't understand we might lose this battle and all will be lost."
Tai was quietly meditating in her sleep chamber when both Mikala and Myrlion appeared. "Must you always enter my home this way, Father. I do have a front door."
"Tai, where are Lukos and the children?" asked Mikala.
"I sent them away for awhile. Actually, I sent them to Atlantis for safety. Do not worry, Father. They are at the time long before the fall. I told Lukos all and he understands what I did to send him back. He will make sure the children are safe. I was thinking about Grabthar and the battle I am fighting. I have always fought him, haven't I?"
"Yes, Daughter. The last time you battled was when you ran from your duties as a child and lived on the ocean with Dolphinium. You eventually returned all the more strong. We must go and meet your sister at her home. They will be waiting."
"Time is fluid and can be folded. Waiting will never be a real problem for me," said Tai suddenly aware of her real power. "Come 'Lysė needs us. Grabthar has decided that the mist I surrounded his camp with is nothing more than an illusion."
The three apparated and appeared outside of Melysė's cottage. Melysė ran out to hug her nykel, "Sister! How I have missed you!" Xena followed holding out her arm to grasp Tai's.
"It is good of you to come, Tai. Thanks."
"I had to come, Xena. This is my fight," Tai said quickly. "Grabthar is nothing more than a test from the gods to see if I am willing to sacrifice all for the sake of the earth. They have been training me since they found that Merlin is my father and one of his kind. Lukos and the children were all part of their show, weren't they Hera?"
"Hera?" cried Xena.
Hera quickly assumed her normal faēade. "I have been with Tai since the beginning as a favor to Tai's mother. I was nykel with Astraea and could not let her daughter fall into any harm. Merlin assumes it was because of his place as an immortal that I took care and nurtured Tai through all. But Tai is quite correct, this is her fight and hers alone. I know, Xena, that you, Melysė, Gabrielle, and your tribe want to help, however, Taiytelata must stand on her own to take her rightful place among the immortals of Earth."
"You did not answer me, Hera. Did you put Lukos into my life through that disease that almost killed Melysė? Does he truly love me or is this a trick of Aphrodite?"
"No, Tai. Lukos truly loves you. I would never have gone that far. You were Astraea's daughter. I do have some integrity," Hera answered.
"I just wanted to be clear on this. That is all. Father, you had to know that this was one more battle for me to fight to show my true heart. I ask you now - did I pass?" Tai asked holding her breath.
"Not yet, Daughter. The gods are happy with you, but you still need to put Grabthar in his place. No one but you can do that," answered Myrlion.
Tai slowly let out her breath looked at them turned and disappeared.
Tai appeared on a hill just outside the enemy's encampment. With a wave of her hand the mist that shrouded the camp disappeared. Her gray-green eyes narrowed and her brow furrowed as she looked on Grabthar's treatment of his men. The whole of the camp was filthy, raw sewage was running parallel with the tents. The stench of the place was almost overwhelming. She saw, in her mind's eye, Grabthar torturing an Amazon that he had captured. Stunned she saw that it was Arynė. What was she doing here? How was she taken? Was this a trick? Immediately, she put up mind blocks to keep Melysė out of her thoughts. Tai needed all of her concentration to release her without Grabthar's knowledge. She sent a message to him that there was a problem at the farthest most part of his camp. A deserter had been captured.
After she made sure he was gone, Tai disappeared from the hill and reappeared beside Arynė. Her lovely face was matted with blood, her hair lank, her head bowed. Tai's eyes filled with tears. "Arynė," whispered Tai. "It is your tanti Tai. Can you hear me, sweeting?"
Arynė tried to lift her head, her lips were swollen and she could barely speak. "Tanti Tai? How . . . why?" Silently tears fell down upon Arynė's bruised cheeks.
"Ryn, listen to me very carefully. I am going to assess the damage. It will hurt. Do not cry out for any reason. I know that seems silly of me to say, but even Amazon's can cry out in anguish. Will you concentrate on something in the room to focus your attention while I assess the harm that creature has evoked on you?"
"Ye . . . s, tanti," whispered Arynė. She tried to look around the room, but her strength left her. So she focused on the garnet crystal hanging from her aunt's neck.
Tai placed her hands on Ryn trying to get a feel for the damage. She nearly wept with the pain she felt emanating from her niece. The injuries were too great for her to heal all at once. All of a sudden she heard a roar coming from the tent where she sent the demon. "Ryn, I am going to give you the strength you need to travel with your meia. I do not have the time to heal you all at once. Grabthar is coming back. I am going to send to your mother and have her come and take you away from here." Tai quickly put her hands back on Ryn, a glow emanating from them surrounding her fallen niece. Ryn's breathing became less a struggle and more strong as Tai worked. When Tai realized that Ryn was calmer she sent a message to Melysė. "Tell no one. Ryn is here with me. Come, now"
Melysė suddenly appeared in the tent. She saw her daughter and caught her breath, swaying as if to faint. Tai looked at 'Lyse. "She'll be all right. You must get her back to the village, now. Grabthar is coming. I've given her the strength to apparate with you." Tai walked over to Melysė and said more softly, "I'm sorry to be short, Lysė, she will recover. Please go now. Do not let Xena come for revenge. If I need her I'll send for her. Please, sister go now before it is too late."
"I cannot leave you to face this creature alone, Tai. Let us face him together. That is what sisters do."
"I wish I could, Lysė, but . . . he is all that is evil in me."
"What?" cried out Melysė.
"When I left the tribe to be a recluse, I left all of my warrior instincts behind. Grabthar is a collector of those aspects of human souls."
"You would never have hurt Ryn. This cannot be, sister."
"No, I wouldn't have. But Grabthar would. He knew just where to strike to wound me. I kept Lukos and the children safe by sending them back in time where I was still a true Amazon with warrior instincts. Grabthar didn't have a hold over me there. I didn't think that he would strike those you love. I am sorry. It is my fault Ryn is so hurt. I will of course attend to her when I return from this battle. Now I ask you to go. I cannot ask you to forgive my shortsightedness," said Tai.
Melysė sighed, started to reach for her nykel, then went over to her daughter, and disappeared.
Tai looked back at where they were, tears streaming down her cheeks. "I am so sorry 'Lysė. Please forgive me." Tai left the tent only to find that Grabthar was standing right outside.
"So, you have decided to be a warrior after all Taiytelata. How did you know I had your warrior's soul?" crowed Grabthar.
"I knew it as soon as I saw who you chose to torture. Ryn is my oath sister's first daughter and a true warrior. In a way, I suppose, you felt that it would be a slap in my face to choose a warrior to harm. You knew that I would trade my own life for another's. I am here now to take back that which you stole." Tai said her shoulders squared, standing proudly.
"I didn't steal anything, Queen Taiyte . . la . . .ta," sneered Grabthar. "You gave it to me on a silver platter. I just happen to recognize quality when I see it. As to giving it back. I'm afraid you will have to fight me. Or do you not have the will?"
"I have the will, Grabthar. I had it when I was ten years of age, and I have it now," Tai retorted. Saying that she lifted up her hands and shot off a bolt of energy that sent Grabthar flying into the next tent. As his warriors were closing in on her, she summoned her powers, lifted her right arm and sent them away as if she was swatting an insect.
"Your powers have grown, majesty. But I am stronger."
"No, I don't think so." Tai said. She turned her back on him and called on Xena, Gabrielle, Melysė, Merlin, and Hera. They appeared next to her. "Yes, it is my fight. It is also my right to have warriors at my side to help me if I deem it necessary. Are you ready to fight me now, Grabthar?"
Grabthar stopped, suddenly smiled and shot what looked like a bolt of energy into Taiytelata. It pushed her back into Merlin.
"It's about time you discovered that, Tai. I was wondering what it would take to get you to realize that you cannot do everything by yourself nor desert your duties" The voice was Dolphinium's. "Welcome back to the fold." With that Grabthar changed into Lukos.
"Lukos? Lukos what is going on?" cried Tai in total bewilderment.
"Tai, I am sorry for the deception. But you see, Hekate, Hera, your father, and your sister were worried that you were sinking into the abyss of depression and self-doubt. They needed you to fulfill your destiny as a healer and an immortal." Explained Lukos.
"But . . . have you always been this way?" asked Tai
"Yes, I am an immortal as well, Tai. It is unusual for two such people to connect in a human lifetime. But when I saw you there on the beach when you were small, I knew that you and I were meant to be. I was young then myself. Myrlion was my teacher and I was experimenting with shape shifting. Luckily for me you happened on me to treat my wounds. Myrlion was fighting a battle and could not be there to help me."
"But what about the morning after you arrived. I was speaking with Dolphinium then." Asked Tai confused still.
"That was Jasmine. She is one of the pod. I sent her a message to pretend to be me in dolphin form. I can send messages like you telepathically." Explained Lukos.
"What about Arynė? You hurt her to make a point. I cannot forgive that." Said Tai angrily.
"She was never hurt, Tai. It was an illusion to further our goal. We would have never hurt her."
Tai turned to look at the others. They were all smiling. Melysė came forward to hug her sister. "Tai welcome home. You have been missed."
"You were a part of this Lysė? How come I never felt or heard your plottings?"
"I, too, can block thoughts, Tai. I knew you could never be whole unless both your soft heart and your warrior spirit were one once again." Said Melysė.
"All of this time . . . you didn't come to see me Lukos and you could have." Said Tai with a hurt expression.
"My love, I was with you every time you swam with Dolphinium. I've never been away from you, truly. I had to sacrifice my time with you to fight those same battles as your father. They will be your battles, too."
"Do you want to be a part of this, Daughter?" asked her father.
"Yes," said Tai quietly. "I know now that I cannot hide what I am. When I saw Ryn' there in pain and agony, my warrior's spirit rose up naturally. For the good of all and their safety I see that I want to be there again. My children will be taught how to fight evil not hide from it as I did. But I do not want to give up my healing, and I think Amelea makes an excellent leader of our tribe. I do not want to lead however, when called upon, I will serve."
Hekate appeared. "My Daughter that is all we ask of you. I am happy you are one." Kissing Tai's forehead the Goddess turned her head to the others. "Thank you all for your help. I leave you now to continue your fight." With that she disappeared.
Tai looked at Lukos really for the first time. "Lukos, does that mean we have eternity together?"
"Yes, my heart, yes. Can you live with me that long?" asked Lukos with a little concern in his face.
"Well, I should be extremely vexed with you. Why couldn't you just tell me all of this?" asked Tai. "I'm pretty good at listening."
"Oh Tai," laughed Melysė. "You wouldn't have listened. You have to be hit over the head with a stunt like this to listen."
"Don't be too hard on her," said Gabrielle. I know someone who that had to happen to and look at the results." She said looking at Xena.
"What are you looking at?" growled Xena with a smile. "Looks like we are more alike than I thought, Tai. Good thing, too."
"Thanks, sister." Said Tai smiling back at Xena. "I think a party is in order, don't you? Lukos, I'm assuming the children are with a reputable nanny?"
"Of course. They are with Meg."
"Meg? Oh no!" laughed Tai "We'll be listening to drinking songs for the next moon.
That night Tai and Lukos were standing in the back area of her cottage looking out over the sea watching Dolphinium's pod dancing across the water. Lukos put his arms around Tai and whispered, "An eternity to love, Tai, just think of it."
Tai leaned back into the shelter of his arms, "There is no need to think, my heart, just to be."
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