The Die is Caste (Part 6)
David J. Duncan
For notes & such, please see Part 1
Chapter 11 (continued)
The queen nodded in agreement. Then, she turned to the crowd. "With your indulgence, we have two blessings to receive. First, our friends in Althanor wish to say a word. Deirdre will represent them. Come forth."
The priestess stood up and strode forth onto the dais. "Varia, Xena, Eve, and Gabrielle, you have been friends to the natural order and to Althanor. May our realms look after each other in times of peace and war. On behalf of my sisters in the hidden realm, I bless all of you and the Amazon sisterhood. May the skies always shine on you and may prosperity always favor you," she wished.
Xena and Eve exchanged warm glances. How they wished that David and Angela could have been there to see their daughter standing proud and tall, conducting matters of state. Still, they knew Gabrielle would record the event in her scrolls for posterity.
In the crowd, Cybelle smiled proudly as her niece performed her first task with distinction. "The Mother was right. She is going to make a fine priestess," she noted to herself.
"Thank you, Deirdre. Now, Paulus, would you like to come up?" the queen asked.
"I would. Thank you," he accepted and walked up to the throne area. Facing the group, he stated, "Deirdre's prayer was a fine one. Let me add a humble one of my own. Gabrielle, you and Xena have fought for Eli's teachings and even stood beside my prophet years ago. May your stewardship lead to peaceful accord between all Earthly peoples. Eve, you were the best guide anyone could want in the service of Eli. Living up to your example is a tall order, but I will do my best. May you have a long and successful term as an Amazon princess insuring the peace and preserving order. If you need the help of your fellow Elisians, you just have to ask, my Sister. You are always one of us."
"I know. Thank you. And I would like to do my best to insure peace between us as well," Eve agreed, embracing her successor. "You will be a fine Messenger for Eli. Remember to be humble in all things and remain strong in your faith. I hope you will visit when you are near here."
"The Amazons will always welcome Eli's followers," Gabrielle concurred. "Please be sure to let the others know, Paulus."
"I will," he agreed. "And you have my most sincere thanks."
Xena glanced to the back of the crowd once again. There, she saw Eli smiling warmly at the peaceful accord between his followers. The seeds of peace were being sown between them for all peoples. Yes, he had done his work well.
"Thank you, Paulus," Gabrielle grinned. "That concludes the official ceremonies. We have some dancing and celebrating. Tonight, Xena and Eve will join us for the ritual moon dance. Other than that, enjoy the festivities everyone!"
Stepping away from the throne, the queen walked up to the three newest inductees and embraced each one in turn. "Congratulations, all of you."
"Thank you, Gabrielle, for this second chance," Varia expressed.
"It was nothing that you didn't earn," Xena assured her. "All three of us have needed to redeem ourselves for one reason or another in the eyes of the Amazon nation. It is fitting that we should be together today."
"Absolutely, Mother," Eve agreed, rubbing the warrior's arm. "And I can't think of any other way to gain this honor than at your side."
"Having both of you as my sisters is something I've waited a lifetime for," Gabrielle told them. "Now, as Queen, I have my complete council. And a very good one it is. Now, let's celebrate, shall we?"
"In a minute," Xena indicated, looking around. "First, there's someone here. Come out...Ares."
In a flash, the war god appeared. "At least, the bird stuff didn't dull your instincts," he deadpanned.
The four women tensed at the sight of the deity who had manipulated them at one time or another. "What do you want, Ares?" Gabrielle demanded, summoning up every bit of regal posture that she could maintain.
He nodded and smiled, "Being a queen looks good on you, Gabrielle. Relax, I'm not here to screw up the day's festivities. Hell, I love a party as much as anyone."
"Then, what do you want?" Varia hissed, eyes blazing.
He chuckled and continued, "You still have that fire, Varia. I knew there was a reason I liked you. As for why I'm here, believe it or not, I want to wish you all well too. While things can't be the same, we may need each other's help in the future. Particularly, if those visions come to pass."
"That's true," Xena admitted. "Gabrielle? What do ya think?"
"He is a potential ally. Provided he behaves himself," the queen jabbed wryly.
He shook his head and folded his arms across his chest. "I can see she picked up your mannerisms, Xena. Seriously, take care of yourselves, okay? Aphrodite sends her best too. Gotta split." With that, he disappeared in a burst of light.
"Now that he's gone, shall we get somethin' to eat?" Xena requested. "And talk about this ritual tonight."
"Yes, please fill us in, Gabrielle and Varia," Eve added.
"Very well. Let's go back to my hut and talk over dinner," Gabrielle agreed, leading her friends down the path. It had been a great day for everyone and it was only beginning. By the end of the day, the future would have a great foundation and they would be at the heart of it. The co-creators of nations, instead of the destroyers....It had a catchy ring to it. A very catchy one indeed.
For two days and nights, the Amazon queens and warriors had danced nonstop. Then, at some unspoken cue, the activity ceased and everyone went back to their huts for rest. For Xena and Eve, as much as they enjoyed the experience, they were ready to get some sleep.
Cybelle stepped out of the mists and surveyed the sleeping village. She regreted the angry words she had exchanged with Xena. While the debate over her brother would indeed continue, she had learned that her words would not be received well by Gabrielle, Eve, or the Warrior Princess. However, given the visions, it would be important for Dave to make up with their father. For everyone's sake.
"Aunt Cybelle?" Deirdre probed. "Is that you?"
The elder priestess turned to see her niece approach. "Deirdre, it is great to see you. You did a great job in the ceremony."
"Thank you. I wasn't sure. But, at least, I got through it. Genaria was a great help," the younger woman stated.
"I'm sure she was," Cybelle agreed. "I'm sorry that I argued with Xena in front of you."
The younger woman sighed, "I'm sure you felt you had to do so. I wish that you all would leave Papa alone. He doesn't need the aggrevation and your peacekeeping efforts would only make matters worse. I don't mean you any disrespect, Aunt Cybelle. It's just that for some reason, I know what he is capable of. I've felt his rage...don't ask me how, but I have."
"You don't understand," Cybelle pointed out. "The family needs to be together."
"Yes, a family needs to be together. Mama, Papa, my sisters and me. We're a family. But, if there's one thing I've learned so far, it's that you don't force things to happen. Everything occurs when the Mother wishes for it to occur. Don't bring them together. Please," Deirdre noted. "Think of the balance both here and in Althanor. Please consider my request." She gazed into her aunt's eyes and then said, "I'm heading back into the village. Please give my regards to the Mother Priestess when you see her. I'll be back by sunset in Althanor. Farewell." With that, the young woman walked down the path in the direction from which she had come.
The elder priestess shook her head. Already, Deirdre was showing that stubborn streak so prevalent in her father. If she wasn't careful, an antagonism could easily rise up between them. "This will take some meditation to sort out," she told herself, willing up a cloud portal and disappearing into it.
Eve rose from a brief nap and put on her robes. Walking outside into the bright, clear morning, she took a deep breath and grinned. "I've definitely made the right choice. Thank you, Eli," she noted.
"I think we both made the right choice," Paulus stated, walking up to her. "How did your initiation go?"
"It was a bit unusual. Forgive me, that's all I'm allowed to say about it. How are you this morning?" she replied.
"I'm fine. In fact, I'm going to depart. The road is calling and I feel the need to spread Eli's teachings," he revealed. "I hope you understand."
She concurred, "I do. You see? Already, you are listening to the call of your duty. That is the most important part of our purpose, Paulus. I'm glad you stopped by to say goodbye."
"Of course," he commented. "I wanted to ask if you would pray with me one last time before I do go."
"Absolutely," she agreed and kneeled in the dirt. After he did the same, she started, "Eli, as your servant, I ask that you protect Paulus, watch over him, and guide him as he seeks to spread your teachings."
"And that you watch over Eve as she seeks to promote peace along with Xena and Gabrielle here in the Amazon village. Thank you, Eli, for everything. Amen," he continued.
After both worshippers rose to their feet, he shrugged, "It's time. Eve, be safe and well."
"And you do the same," she returned the blessing with a tight embrace.
He beamed warmly at his teacher for a moment. Then, picking up his staff, the new Messenger started off down the forest path, heading south.
For a while, she watched his progress. It felt funny watching him walk away with the mantile she had borne for so long. Yet, it also felt right for him to be doing so. She had a bigger task ahead of her. A ways down the path, she saw him stop and talk to Deirdre. For a few minutes, the two spiritual leaders seemed to have an enjoyable conversation. Then, they embraced, and he continued on his way.
A few minutes later, Deirdre had reached her friend's side and assessed, "He's quite a man. I think he'll do very well as Eli's Messenger."
"I agree," Eve concurred. "And I think you'll do well as an Althanorian priestess. It's hard to believe that you were just a small girl only a few days ago and now, here you are as a full grown woman."
"And you're an Amazon princess rather than Eli's Messenger," Deirdre pointed out. "We all have transitions to make, and we can't fight what the Light plans for us."
The princess chuckled at her words, thinking what her mother would say in response. "And how is your aunt? I noticed her at the ceremony, but she's stayed away from us all since the argument."
"I saw her just a little while ago in the forest. Eve, I wish she would stop being so willful. She is still determined to bring Papa and Grandpa together no matter the consequences. Even I know not to defy the wishes of the Mother," the young priestess advised.
"Your aunt is a proud woman," Eve noted. "And pride can be a dangerous thing. Your father can also be headstrong at times. However, at least, he's recognizing the implications of his actions now."
"I hope you're right. I hope Auntie doesn't start something unnecessary just because she has a point to prove," Deirdre shuddered.
"We'll be there to be sure that doesn't happen," Eve reassured her. "Now, let's join Gabrielle, Genaria, and my mother for a meal. Okay?"
"Sounds great. Thank you," the priestess agreed and followed the princess toward the royal hut.
Xena rose from her slumber and stretched her arms to the ceiling. Although the blue pigment had been washed from her skin, she still felt it sticking to her. "I thought Gabrielle looked ridiculous when she did it. Now, I'm the one who's feeling that way. Still, if it makes me an Amazon, then great...provided I never have to go through that again," she muttered. Walking outside, she looked around. "Another fine day," she smiled. She sighed to herself. Ares' offer had been more tempting to her than she would have liked to admit. But, in backing away from him, she set herself on another course in a positive direction. And now that she was officially an Amazon, the future looked brighter than ever.
"Mother!" Eve called.
Xena turned to her left and saw her daughter and Deirdre walking up the path toward her. Overhead, the mysterious dove flew along their path. She waved back happily and walked out to join them. For now, the problems of the outside world could wait. Everyone in the village was enjoying the additions to the sisterhood. And isn't happiness and fellowship what life is all about?
THE END (for now)
(Note: If you liked this piece, read the other works in my Amazon Scrolls and Dubois Chronicles series at my Story Emporium page (http://Dante_6.tripod.com/stories/emporium.html). To see when new stories are added, you can join my "Dubois Chronicles Updates" at Yahoo Groups. Thanks for the interest and please feel free to send comments!)