THE AMAZON QUEEN
Part XIII: The Totem
by L.M. Townsend (e-mail: QueenLaese@aol.com)
DISCLAIMERS: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Cyrenê, Virgil, Eve, Alti, Callisto, Autolycus, Joxer, Iolaus, et al (meaning anyone else I didn't list and should have.) are the property of MCA, Universal, and Renaissance Pictures and anyone else who has a legal claim (thanks for letting the girls come out to play!) The character of Hercules, although a mythical/historical figure in his own right, for the purpose of this story, also belongs to them. Melysë and The Amazons belong to themselves, though, (and I dare any man to say different!)This story is mine, though, and written just for fun, not profit.
Subtext? Subtext? - YES, though nothing explicit.
Violence: YES, some.
Language: Pretty tame.
*Spoiler Alert - several references to various episodes throughout the history of the show, specifically MOTHERHOOD
This story follows part XII, a few weeks later.
Queen Melysë stretched and smiled. Xena had already arisen. How sweet! she thought. She let me sleep. Suddenly a wave of nausea hit her and Melysë ran for the privy. Oh, Goddess, I hate this part! she thought, throwing up. I forgot about this - I cannot be sick today! Ryns joining to Tecmessa - and I promised her Id lead the ceremony. Why today? And why am I the only one whos sick? The others arent. Not that I want them to be, Goddess knows, but why am I?
"Aw, poor little Sis!" Melysë looked up and saw Aphrodite smiling sympathetically at her.
"Dite, this really isnt the best time," she said, hanging her head and retching again. Suddenly, she felt her sisters hand on her shoulder and her stomach immediately settled. "On second thought...thanks."
"Sure, Lysë," said Aphrodite, smiling at her. "I just came to congratulate you - and see Ryn and Tecmessa joined - Goddess of Love stuff - you know."
"Yeah, I do," said Melysë, rising to her feet. Though her pregnancy was still not yet evident, she felt slow and clumsy, awkward. Her already fair skin was pale and dark circles smudged her eyes.
"You dont look so good," said Aphrodite, reaching out to steady the priestess.
"I know that, too," said Melysë , briefly closing her eyes as another wave if nausea passed over her. "Of all the times..."
"Whats wrong?" asked Aphrodite, concerned.
"I just...dont know," said Melysë, her throat tightening against the tears which now threatened. "This baby should be the easiest of all, but its been the hardest. I dont understand it."
"What does the Healer say?" asked her sister. Melysë looked down. "You havent said anything? Why not?"
"The others are so happy," said Melysë, choking back a sob. "I dont want to worry them. I just...need some time, I think. Away."
"Aw, Little Sister," said Aphrodite, hugging her. "I understand. I remember when Cupid was - "
"Dite, this isnt just about the baby," said Melysë. "Its...everything. My girls are growing up so fast, and now this...with Xena and Gabrielle - and this baby - everything all at once - Im...overwhelmed."
"Maybe you do, you know, just need to, like, get away for a while," said Aphrodite, kindly.
"Yeah, maybe," said Melysë, quietly. "Maybe after the joining."
"Okay," said Aphrodite, smiling. "Now thats settled - Ill see you at the ceremony. Toodles!"
Melysë went into the main room of the cottage and sat down, her aching head in her hands. Its not just the baby, she thought. Its everything. Everything has changed so fast. I should be happier than I have ever been - and Im not. In spite of the bonding, I still feel ... alone. Except when the other two are here, I am alone. I always have been. Maybe that is my destiny. Maybe....Oh, Mother! I just dont seem to know anything anymore. Goddess knows, I love them, but everything has changed so much and so fast. Except one thing - I still dont feel a part of them. I dont belong...anywhere....
Melysë rose and went to the sleeping chamber. She knelt down and opened a chest, reaching in and pulling out a small, pale pink pouch - a gift from her sister, so long ago. Or maybe this is my destiny. Maybe I should just accept who I am...the daughter of Zeus...goddess in my own right...
"Do you think Lysë is up yet?" asked Gabrielle, as she and Xena watched Arynë make the final preparations for her Joining ceremony.
"I dont know," said Xena. "Im a little worried about her. She seems quieter than usual."
"Yeah, I know what you mean," said Gabrielle, frowning. "Do you suppose that all this is too much for her?"
"I dont know," said Xena, sighing. "I have never known her to not simply accept the will of Hekate, but this ... I just dont know. Of course, it could just be the baby."
"Hm, yeah it could," said Gabrielle, musing. "She wont admit it, but I know shes been sick - and she looks so tired all the time. Maybe we should make her see Hypsyple..."
Xena grinned, raising one eyebrow. "Make? No one makes Lysë do anything. You ought to know that by now."
"You could still get her to do it, though, Xena," said Gabrielle. "Or maybe just check on her yourself - youre a very gifted healer in your own right."
"Now that might work," said Xena. "On the other hand, if its us shes hiding something from, I may be the very last person shed let check her out. Maybe we should talk to Hypsyple after the Joining. Im sure shes noticed Melysë doesnt look well."
"Thats a good idea," said Gabrielle.
Tucking the small pouch in her zona, Melysë arose, dressed in the garb of an Amazon priestess, she checked her appearance in the silver mirror Xena had got for her, and left the cottage to join the others in the Temple. Smiling, she made her way to the front of the Temple where Xena and Gabrielle waited with Arynë and Tecmessa. Melysë raised her hands in blessing. The assembled Amazons saw a slight glow surrounding the three queens as soon as Melysë took her place with them, a glow which also enveloped Arynë and Tecmessa as they knelt before the altar of the Great Goddess.
"My sisters, we are here today to celebrate the Joining of these, our sisters, Arynë and Tecmessa, whose hearts and souls are already as one. Now they seek the Blessing of the Goddess to share the rest of this life together," said Melysë, smiling, though Xena detected a touch of sadness in her soft voice. Must just be her "baby" is grown up, thought the Warrior Queen with concern. No, I know better - Ive seen her through this too many times - shes sick. She wont admit it, gods know, but I know - she looks like she feels like Tartarus on a bad day. By now, she should be "glowing". No, Gabrielles right - she needs to see the healer - and if I have to drag her there, thats just what were going to do - right after the ceremony.
"To share the joys and the sorrows," continued Melysë. "And all that comes between." Xena caught her as she swayed, a bit unsteady. She smiled her thanks at the smooth rescue, and Xena left an arm around her waist, Gabrielle holding her from the other side. Thus upheld by the other two, Melysë continued the ceremony by looking to Gabrielle.
"Know that the Great Goddess is the Lady of Love," she said. "And all that you do in and for love is Her will and Her way and a tribute to Her. Walk in the Way of Love, my sisters."
She looked to Xena who smiled at her heart daughter and her heart-daughters malatyr.
"Never again shall you walk alone," she said, feeling Melysë stiffen next to her. "Never again shall you face fear alone. You shall always have the love and the presence of another within you, from this day forward, sisters, you are truly as one - in heart, mind, body, soul, and spirit. Blessed Be."
"Hear now the words of the Goddess," said Melysë, her soft voice softer yet. "I am the Mother of all creation. I have formed and breathed life and instilled My love in all that lives. All acts which spring of love are pleasing to Me and I honour love above all things. Therefore, as you love one another, I bless you. Blessed be. You are joined together in this life by the blessing of the Great Goddess. Go now in Her love. Honour one another always as you honour Her. Live together now in the Light of Her Love and the Blessing of Her Peace. As I have said, so let it be."
Eyes shining, Arynë and Tecmessa shared a kiss, to the cheering of the Amazons, and walked, hand in hand, out of the Temple, leading their sisters to the Feasting Area. Once the Temple was cleared, Melysë slumped against Xena, visibly exhausted.
"Come on, Lysë," said Xena, helping her up. "Were taking you to Hypsyple."
"No, Xena, Im alright - just really tired," protested the priestess. Xena bodily lifted her and carried her to the Healers hut, Melysë protesting the whole way. Gabrielle knocked on the door, and it was answered by Selenë.
"Blessed Goddess!" cried the girl. "Mother! Whats wrong? Is she okay?"
"Im sure shes fine," said Hypsyple, emerging from the back room as Xena gently set Melysë down on a cot.
"Just stubborn," muttered Xena. "Sorry to barge in on you like this."
"Oh, no, my dear, thats why Im here. We came right back to the hut after the ceremony - just in case - though I was going to send Selenë off to the feast as soon as we finished up with a few things. By the way the ceremony was lovely," said Hypsyple, kindly. "Selenë, why dont you make some tea for Gabrielle and Xena while I talk to your mother? Come, Melysë."
Melysë rose and followed the healer into the back room, sitting quickly in a chair as a wave of dizziness overtook her. Hypsyple looked sharply at her.
"How long have you felt this bad?" she asked.
"Its really not that bad," sighed Melysë.
"Melysë, Ive known you since you were born - youre not a complainer, I know," said Hypsyple, kindly. "But I can see youre not well."
"Since a few days after the ceremony," Melysë said quietly. "Thats when the morning sickness started. Its just been getting worse."
"Have you been using your powers?" asked Hypsyple.
"Not really, no," said Melysë. "Sometimes I cant help it, the power has become so much a part of me, that its unconscious, but I havent done anything ... strenuous."
"You shouldnt even be having another child," sighed the healer, rising from her chair and fixing a cup of herbs. "But since the Goddess Herself is the One Who gave it to you, Ill not argue. She does know best, after all. Here. Drink this. Ill send the herbs with Selenë tonight. Drink a cup every morning as soon as you wake up. That should help the sickness. Im afraid I can do nothing for the sickness in your heart, though, my child."
"My..heart? Oh, no, Hypsyple," said Melysë. "My heart...my heart is fine. Im truly happy."
"As you wish, my dear," sighed the healer, taking the priestesss hand. "But you know I love you well - if you need to talk, Im here."
"Thank-you, tanti," said Melysë, smiling, and rising to her feet. "But really, Im fine - these herbs are already working. I really feel much better."
"Very well, Child," said Hypsyple, embracing her. "But please come to me if you need anything."
"I promise," said Melysë, going into the outer room where Xena and Gabrielle awaited her. "Well, are you two mother-hens ready to go? We do have a party to attend after all."
"Are you sure youre up to it?" asked Gabrielle, doubtfully.
"Of course - for the last time - Im fine," said Melysë. "I cant very well miss my own daughters Joining Feast, now can I?"
"You make an appearance - then Im taking you home to rest, alright?" said Xena. "Gabrielle can stay as our representative."
"Sure," said Gabrielle, smiling.
"Alright," agreed Melysë, with a smile, as Xena wrapped an arm around her waist and they walked back to the Feasting Area. As promised, Melysë arose at Xenas signal and gave her daughter her final blessing, then Xena walked her back to their cottage and helped her into bed.
"Just rest, Ill stay here with you if you like," said he Warrior Queen, smiling at her priestess.
"What Id really like is for you to just hold me for a while," said Melysë, tears threatening, as Xena quickly sat beside her, wrapping strong arms around her and speaking soothingly.
"Shh, dont cry, Lysë," said Xena, softly, gently stroking the priestesss long dark hair.
"Im sorry," said Melysë, softly, her throat tight with unshed tears.
"Aw, Tartarus - go ahead," said Xena, pulling her closer. "I forgot, you cant help it now. Go ahead and cry, Im here, and I love you - so much."
Her last words diffused the tears which had threatened, and Melysë instead smiled and snuggled closer, soon drifting off to sleep. Xena smiled back, still playing with her priestesss long hair, happily resigned to hold her until she woke. And then a nice back rub...I forgot how this affected her in the first few months; shes going to need lots of coddling, thought the warrior, looking fondly down on her sleeping priestess. She frowned with concern. Lysë is too pale - shes really sick this time, she thought. I wonder what Hekate is thinking, letting her do this again.
Melysë awoke hours later, still wrapped in her warriors arms. She snuggled closer, eyes still closed, savouring the closeness with a slight smile.
"Hey," said Xena, softly. "How are you?"
"Much better, thank-you," replied the priestess. "I cant believe you stayed here the whole time. Thank-you."
"No other place Id rather be," said Xena, truthfully. She sighed, reluctantly releasing her priestess. "You hungry yet?" she asked. Melysë shook her head, closing her eyes again.
"No, thanks," said Melysë. "Why dont you go on back to the feast? Ill be okay now."
"Sure?" asked Xena, sitting beside her priestess, raising her hand to her lips. "You should try to eat something."
"Maybe later," said Melysë, opening her eyes and smiling at her warrior. "Thank-you for today - and everyday."
"Ew, mush," said Xena, wrinkling her nose, but smiling, as she planted a quick kiss on her priestesss temple. "Ill bring something back for you. Maybe you can eat later."
"Okay," said Melysë, closing her eyes once again.
Xena left the cottage and returned to the Feast, now in full swing, the Amazon dancers moving with the drums. She found Gabrielle seated with Cyrenê, Neiromei perched in her favourite place - Gabrielles lap.
"Xena, hows Melysë?" asked her mother as Xena sat next to Gabrielle, Neiromei jumping from the Bards lap to hers.
"Shes better," said Xena, settling the child.
"Thats good," said Gabrielle. "I was worried about her."
"I still am," said Cyrenê. "I wonder why Hekate..."
"Ive stopped wondering why the gods do anything," said Xena, cuddling her daughter closer. "Though, if it werent for Hekate, I wouldnt have what I do - and thats very precious to me, so I guess, until She shows me otherwise, Ill just have to trust Her."
"Well, thats funny - coming from you, Xena," said Gabrielle, smiling.
"Yeah, isnt it? agreed Xena, grinning. "Guess Lysë had a hand in that. She does have that way about her."
Melysë waited until Xena had left the cottage, then slowly arose, fighting the wave of dizziness which struck her. Something was very wrong, and when Melysë looked down, she gasped. Her slender waist had thickened perceptibly in just a few hours.
"Oh, no, Blessed Goddess, no!" she cried, fearfully. Panicky, she looked around the empty cottage, and using her powers, she left with a bright flash of light.
Melysë shivered as snow fell softly around her. She looked around at the craggy peaks of the mountain, locating a cave. Climbing carefully, she reached the cave and crawled in. There, panting and in pain was a snow leopard, her totem spirit....
Shivering, Melysë approached the panting snow leopard. It raised its head and looked at her pleadingly. Melysë knelt beside the creature, laying her hands upon the long, coarse fur, stroking gently.
"Sh, my friend," said the priestess, softly. The great cat closed its green eyes - the same colour as Melysës own - and laid its head back down, its breathing quieter. The priestess saw that the great cat was in labour - and had been for some time, it appeared.
"Well," she said to the snow leopard, chuckling. "Ive never been a midwife to a cat before. But I can help you, I think, my friend."
Any help would be appreciated.
"Wh..what?" said the priestess, startled. "Did you just...is it you?"
Yes, I am the one who is always with you. Since your Amazon Initiation, Tiàmeialys, I have been always with you.
"No one has known my true name in many years, Nylita," said Melysë, smiling. "It is good to actually see you again. Usually everyone else sees you but me - and they all love you."
The leopard made a chuffing noise much like laughter.
"Let me help you now, as you have always helped me, my sister," said the priestess. Nylita closed her eyes in assent. Melysë, drawing on her power, began stroking the snow leopard, gently, She felt the cubs moving within her at the same time her own baby quickened.
Oh, this cant be good, the priestess thought.
Xena came back to the cottage, bearing a tray of Melysës favourites, finding it empty. With a curse, she left it again and went back to the Feast area.
"Gabrielle, has Melysë been here?"
"No, Xena, I havent seen her since she left with you earlier," replied the Bard, handing a sleeping Neiromei over to Cyrenê as she rose. "Why? Whats wrong?"
"Oh, gods," said Xena, closing her eyes. "We have to find her. She alone, pregnant, and sick."
"Xena, with her power, she could be anywhere - and we have no way to follow her," said Gabrielle.
"Maybe we do," said Xena, eyes narrowing in thought.
"Ares!" Xena called. She and Gabrielle had returned to the Queens cottage. Gabrielle knelt in front of the hearth, trying to start a fire with shaking hands. Suddenly, flame blazed up and she jumped back as Ares materialised chuckling.
"Sorry - shoulda warned you," he said.
"Thats okay," said Gabrielle, rising. "And thanks."
"Ares, we need to find Melysë," said Xena.
"Great - let me know when you do - Im a little worried about her myself," said Ares.
"Ares - we need your help," said Xena. "If you care anything about her..."
"Whoa - out of line, Xena," said Ares. "You know I do. I can, uh, zap a little god-power into you - just enough to get where you need to go - and just for a little while. Sorry I cant do more."
"Ares, thanks - its enough," said Xena, smiling gratefully.
"And Ill be out looking, too," said Ares. Suddenly, both Xena and Gabrielle felt a tingling warmth throughout their bodies, then it faded. "There you go. Now thats going to be gone in three days - best I could do - just make sure youre back here by then, or its going to be travelling by conventional means to get home."
"I hope we find her before then," said Xena.
"Thank-you again Ares," said Gabrielle.
"No problem, I love her, too," said Ares, smiling as he faded from sight.
Xena and Gabrielle arrived at a busy Mt. Olympus. Gods and demi-gods popped in and out, giving reports to a worried Aphrodite - and giving Xena a wide berth.
"Xena, Gabrielle," said the goddess of love, visibly relieved. "Im glad to see you both. Any word? Is she home?"
"No, we were hoping you might have heard something," said Gabrielle, receiving an exuberant hug from her divine friend. "Weve been all over and theres no sign of her anywhere."
"We cant find her either," said Aphrodite. "Its, like, shes not even in the world anymore, you know?"
"Yeah, I know," said Xena, worriedly. "Is that possible? That shes not in this world anymore?"
"Well, yeah," said Aphrodite. "Of course its possible. With her powers and her training, she could be anywhere - in this world or in another."
"Terrific," said Xena.
Melysë watched as the great cats delivery of her cubs went more quickly and easily. Three cubs born and now their mother licked them clean as they had their first meal. Melysë smiled.
"Time I was leaving," she said, reluctantly.
"Yes it is," said the Snow Leopard, looking up at her. "You have much to do, though I am grateful for your help. I will be with you always - as my children will be with yours."
"What do you mean?" asked Melysë.
"You and your Sister-Queens bear the hope of the Amazon Nation - as I have borne their totem spirits," said Nylita. "Just like the Amazons, my kind will dwindle until we become little more than a myth. But the Amazons hope is also ours. Both our people will survive - one way or another."
"I see," said Melysë, thoughtfully. "Nylita, I cant go home just yet. I have to...I dont know what to do."
"Tiàmeialys, you do know," said Nylita. "You just dont want to do it."
"Thats true," said Melysë, quietly. "I dont want to."
The Snow Leopard chuffed again, then reached up and licked Melysës neck. "Because of who you are, you may have no choice, my sister," she said.
Melysë opened her eyes, lifting her aching head. How did I get here? she thought, rising painfully to her feet. She looked down, uneasily, sighing with relief to see that the rapidly growing bulge was gone.
She made her way through dim corridors in an unfamiliar palace until she arrived at what must have been the Great Hall. It was dark, but when she stepped in, torches suddenly blazed alight and Melysë looked around at the empty hall. She stood at one end. At the other was a throne, empty now. Tapestries depicting a wide range of subjects hung on the walls. Melysë slowly approached the throne, as if drawn to it, then stopped herself, shaking her head.
"Olympus? What am I doing here?" she said, aloud. She stopped just before the Throne as suddenly she was struck with an image so vivid she seemed to be living it.
Athena summoning the Furies to the scepticism of her brother. "Furies!"
Ares laughed. "Yeah. Um-- I gave the furies a shot at Xena. It-- didn't work out."
"Hm-m," said Athena. "I know. My plan is a bit more-- subtle."
Aphrodite, leaning in asked quietly, "Can we leave the bard out of this?"
"Do you have a soft spot for Gabrielle?" demanded Athena.
"She's my friend," said Aphrodite.
"Oh-h-h-h-- well-- " said Athena, condescendingly, a smug smile tugging at her lips. "Then don't watch."
Then, Melysë saw a horrendous fight between Xena and the gods of Olympus, Gabrielle and Eve badly wounded.
Aphrodite popped in beside Gabrielle, and Xena pulled a knife at the perceived threat. "No! I just wanna help!" she cried, hands upraised. She took Gabrielle into the other room, out of the way. Then Xena sent Eve to Aphrodite, calling out, "Aphrodite?! Aphrodite?! Take care of her!" Aphrodite looked warily at Eve, but offered no threat.
Melysë saw that the fight was over as Xena pulled Gabrielle and Eve from the burning building, with Eve half walking and Xena yanking Gabrielle along behind her out into the rain.
"Neither of you is going to leave me. Gabrielle-- you're the most pure thing in my life-- and you're my great hope. So, I'm not gonna let either of you go!" Xena said, pulling Gabrielle to her and tells her no one is dying on her.
"So sad." said Aphrodite, appearing.
"Well, if you care so much, why don't you cure her?" said Xena, bitterly.
"Gods can only heal with Athena's blessing. That's not gonna happen," said Aphrodite.
"Then take us to Olympus," said Xena.
"I want to offer them a deal."
"And you'll-- kill them if they don't accept?"
"Please?" Xena pleaded, desperate. "Gabrielle doesn't have much time."
"All right! I'll take you to Olympus!" agreed Aphrodite.
Once there, Aphrodite gazed sadly at Gabrielle, wishing she could defy Athena.
"Where are they?" asked Xena.
"They're probably in the main hall, which is right through there," replied Aphrodite, indicating the way.
"Aphrodite, you might wanna take off. Things could get ugly," said Xena.
Aphrodite stroked Gabrielle's head. "Goodbye, little one."
"Why have I been given this vision?" Melysë whispered.
"You must see your entire legacy before you decide to deny it," said Melysë turned to face her totem, the snow leopard, Nylita, padding into the chamber.
"What legacy? As Zeuss daughter?" said Melysë. "Im not sure I want to pass that on to my daughters. Or to my son. They are the children of an Amazon. That is the legacy Im proud to claim."
"You cant deny a part of yourself, Melysë, no matter how much you dont like it," she said. "That would be like denying me."
"Oh, no!" cried Melysë. "I would never...I couldn't - and anyway, you're different. You are a part of me - one of the best parts."
The Snow Leopard seemed to sigh. "Tiàmeialys, you are the sum of many parts. Maybe you need to see more."
Melysë looked at one of the tapestries, whose pictures seemed to move of its own accord, and again had the sensation of being present at the scene.
Athena sat on the throne as Eve fell to her knees before her. Gabrielle, bloody and broken lay near her. "I have a deal for you, Athena. You heal Eve and Gabrielle--and I'll leave you alone," Xena said.
"Xena wants to make a deal-- I don't think that's going to be necessary," said Athena, smugly.
Artemis, appearing from around the corner, shot two arrows at Xena - who caught them and threw them back at Artemis, killing her. "You sure you don't wanna reconsider?" said Xena
"Never!" replied the goddess, tossing lightning bolts, then headed for Eve. Xena stopped her. They fought. Eves eyes closed, and Ares slowly, painfully, fighting the chains which bound him, moved toward her and Gabrielle.
"Goddess of wisdom, you got two choices-- either you heal my friends and I leave you in peace-- or you die now," said Xena.
"I will not be dictated to by a mortal!" Athena yelled, swinging furiously and landing a cut on Xena. Xena stabbed Athena.
"I don't feel a thing, Xena. You've lost the power to kill gods. It's a shame it had to come to this, Xena." Once again the goddess advanced on the warrior. Ares reached over and touched Eve and Gabrielle; a glow arose around the three, as Ares closed his eyes.
Once again, Xenas sword found its mark, running the goddess through. This time, however, there was blood - and pain, evident on Athenas face, as she turned to her brother.
"You healed them without my blessing. That's impossible," she said, incredulous.
"I gave up my immortality to save them." Ares said.
"Why?" gasped Athena, dying.
Ares shrugged. "I'm sorry-- but I got a thing for her."
Olympus shook as Athena fell to this very floor, dead. Xena hugged Eve and Gabrielle as Ares watched. He looked over at Athena's body, sadly. Watching him, wondering, Xena spoke, quietly, heartfelt. "Thank you."
Melysë turned back to the snow leopard. "I think I know what youre trying to show me, my friend," she said quietly. "My brother and sister - they, too, are part of this legacy - probably the best part. But that doesnt change Zeus or Athena - or any of the rest of them."
Nylita sighed. "That really wasnt the whole point," she said. "Tiàmeialys, you must see the whole picture - just as you are a whole person. Amazon and daughter of Zeus."
"I know that," said Melysë, quietly. "I just wish I could feel it, too. Why do I have no malatyr? Nylita, where is the other half of my soul?"
Xena and Gabrielle arrived back at the cottage, exhausted.
"God-powers or not, I still feel like I walked every step," said Gabrielle, weakly.
"Now I know how Melysë used to feel when she did this," agreed Xena, as both sat down.
"Xena, why do you suppose she left in the first place?" asked Gabrielle.
"I dont know," said Xena, helplessly. "If I did, maybe I could find her. I know shes been sad lately - I thought it was just the baby. But I now..."
"Its more than that, Xena," said Gabrielle. "At Arynë and Tecmessaa Joining ceremony, it was as if her heart were shattering. And the poem she wrote for our ceremony,
"Exiles in a hostile world, we wept
And the salt of our tears mingled with the salt of our Mother's seas
And she heard our pain, and sought us out
Each alone, in solitude
And yearning to be whole...."
"Yeah, this is something shes been living with for a long time," said Xena, sadly. "This feeling of being alone, incomplete. I thought I could....I dont know, fill some of that void for her. But it isnt enough."
"Xena, she loves you," said Gabrielle.
"Oh, I know, Gabrielle - I have no doubts there, I can feel that," said Xena. "But something inside of her is ... missing. She has to find that before she can heal."
Melysë approached the house as the sun was rising. She could see two men sitting inside at the table through the window. As she approached, doubt crept into her mind. Why am I bothering him? she thought. He doesnt even know me - why should he help me? Because he is who he is, and we have a lot in common, thats why.
Tentatively, she knocked on the door. It was opened by the smaller of the two men.
"Yes?" he said. "How can I help you?"
"I need to ..." began Melysë, as her eyes met those of the other man, who now stood behind his friend. An unspoken understanding arose between the two, as a grin broke out on the taller mans face.
"Come on in," he said, kindly, standing away from the door, pulling his friend out of the way so Melysë could enter.
"Hey, is there something I should know - and dont?" asked the smaller of the two.
"Im truly sorry to disturb you," said Melysë, taking the chair the taller of two offered her.
"Oh, hey, no problem - pregnant Amazons show up at our front door all the time," said the other one. "Right Herc?"
"Oh, yeah - right Iolaus," chuckled Hercules, also seating himself. "How can we help you?"
"Yeah - need any monsters killed? Wars fought?" said Iolaus, eagerly. "Things have been quiet around here for a long time."
"No," said Melysë, smiling. "Nothing like that. I am Melysë - "
"The Queen?" said Iolaus. "The one who defeated the Black Mage? And freed the dragons from their curse? Damn straight, you dont need us to fight for you," said Iolaus, with admiration.
"Iolaus, let her talk," said Hercules, smiling indulgently at his friend. "Melysë, its good to meet you."
"And you, Hercules," said the priestess. "Xena speaks of you often - both of you."
"Xena? I thought she and Gabrielle - "
"Iolaus," said Hercules, and Iolaus grinned, contritely.
"Thats a long story," said Melysë, apologetically. "And Im afraid I havent much time for now Though I am surprised to find you, Iolaus, looking so....young."
"Ah, that - another long story - which Ill be happy tell you about when - " Iolaus stopped at a look from Hercules.
Melysë smiled. "Suffice to say, she and Gabrielle are alive and well and with the Amazons."
"Thats good to hear," said Hercules. "When you get back, send them our regards, will you?"
"Of course," said Melysë.
"Now, what can we do to help you?" asked Hercules.
"Again Im sorry to bother you," said Melysë. "I just dont know where else to turn. I need your advice..."
Xena paced the cottage. "Xena, will you stop that, please," Gabrielle pleaded. "My stomach isnt so calm right now and youre making me dizzy."
"Sorry," said Xena, grinning sheepishly as she sat down. "Morning sickness, huh?"
"Yeah, I guess," said Gabrielle, desperately stabbing her wrist with her thumb.
"Here," said Xena, walking over to her and making one successful jab.
"Oh, yeah - thanks," said Gabrielle. "Thats a lot better. Did you ever show that one to Lysë?"
"Didnt have to - she learned pressure points from the shamenki, Hypsyple," said Xena. "Wait - Hypsyple was her first teacher - she may know something."
"Yeah, youre right," said Gabrielle, rising.
"No, you wait here - get some rest," said Xena, leaving, as Gabrielle sighed.
"Yeah, rest - now Im hungry," said the Bard, rising and going to the kitchen.
Melysë hugged her brother and Iolaus goodbye.
"Thank-you," she said. "I really needed you, both of you."
"Hey, thats what big brothers are for," said Hercules, smiling. "Come and see us again - anytime."
"Youve helped me more than you can know," said Melysë, kissing both men quickly on the cheek before shimmering from view.
"Hey, Herc?" said Iolaus.
"Are all your sisters so...affectionate?"
"I dont know," said Hercules, chuckling. "I didnt even know I had another sister before today, so who knows? I really like this one, though. She reminds of someone."
"Who?" asked Iolaus.
"Oh, just someone you never met," said Hercules, smiling.
Xena sat with Hypsyple, sharing tea. The healer had sent Selenë off on an errand so she could speak privately with the warrior - though no doubt Selenë knew exactly what was happening in her uncanny way.
"From her youngest days, Melysë has lived between worlds," said Hypsyple. "She has always been very powerful, but she feared being set apart from the rest of the Amazons, so she repressed it for many years. Then the trances started - Hekate would not be denied, it seemed."
"Shes missing something," said Xena.
"No, she isnt, Xena," said Hypsyple, smiling gently. "She thinks she is, but what she seeks has been with her since before she was born - and still is. Melysë was born a complete soul - she has no other half - she is her own malatyr. She doesnt realise it yet. The danger will be if she splits herself in half, seeking what is already there."
"How can I help her?" said Xena. "It tears me up to see her hurting."
"You already have, Child," said Hypsyple, kindly. "You have shared your heart with her and allowed her to share hers - the rest she must do on her own."
Melysë had returned to the mountains and the snow. Suddenly, Nylita was there, cubs in tow.
"Did you learn anything from your brother?" she asked as the cubs rolled around her huge paws, playing with one another.
"Yes, I did," said Melysë. "He grew up as I did - it was comforting - Im not alone in that at least."
"Youre not alone at all, Tiàmeialys," said the snow leopard. "I am with you - as is Hekate - all the time."
"Thats true," said Melysë, frowning thoughtfully. "Im not. I can feel you both within me. I guess I just never thought ... "
"You asked why you have no malatyr," said Nylita. "I shall tell you, now. I think youre ready - at last."
Melysë shimmered into view in her own cottage, startling the Bard and the Warrior - who rushed to gather her close.
"Oh, gods, Lysë," said Xena. "Do you have any idea how worried I was?"
"Im sorry Xena," said Melysë, tightening the embrace. "I had to do this - and I knew youd argue with me - because of the baby. But were both fine."
"Are you truly alright?" asked Xena, eyeing the priestess critically.
"Yes," Melysë laughed. "Probably for the first time in my life - Im really okay."
"So, you found what you were looking for?" asked Gabrielle.
"Yeah - well, actually, I found that I never lost it, so yeah," said Melysë, and Xena smiled at the renewed sparkle in her dark green eyes.
(To be Continued)