The Amazon Queen
Part XX-e : Daughters of Ares
By L. M. Townsend
DISCLAIMERS: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, CyrenL, Joxer, et al (meaning anyone else I didn't list and should have.) are the property of their creators and anyone else who has a legal claim (thanks for letting the girls come out to play!) Melys and The Amazons belong to themselves (and I dare any man to say different!) This story is mine, though, and written just for fun, not profit.
Subtext: YES, though nothing explicit. Xena and Gabrielle, while still soul-mates and the very best of friends, are not a couple in the romantic sense of the word. They are joined to others as heart-mates.
Violence: Yes, but no more than youll see on the show.
Language: Pretty tame, so far.
Spoilers: (so far) The Deliverer,
Gabrielle's Hope, Maternal Instincts, Sacrifice I&II, A Family Affair, Livia,
Eve, The God You Know, Path of Vengeance
Other: If you havent read the previous instalments in this series, you may have difficulty following along with whos who.
"Dead?" said Melys, watching as the Bard approached her dead husband. The priestess looked up at the other figure approaching and saw a woman dressed in flowing robes, a sword in her hand.
"Where is Xena?" she said, looking around. Her piercing eyes caught Melys in their glare and she pointed at the priestess with the sword. "Where is she?"
"Who are you?" asked Melys, hands on her hips.
"I am Najara - and Xena and I have some very unfinished business," said the woman, smiling brightly. Melys frowned at the woman. She could feel a pang of some unfamiliar emotion tugging at her - what "business" had her warrior left unfinished with this woman? Melys recognised the emotion - jealousy; it was pouring off of this Najara like a foul scent, enveloping the priestess in a miasma of destructive power.
Resolutely, Melys shook it off and looked anew at the stranger. "I don't know where Xena is right now - what do you need with her?" she asked.
"As I said, we have some unfinished business," said Najara, again with the creepy smile.
Xena wandered through the barren, grey landscape. She kicked at an errant stone, then squatted down, her chin in her hands, growling in frustration.
There was a flash of light and Hekate stood before her. Xena leapt to her feet, brandishing her sword.
"Back off, Hekate - I have the power to kill gods again!" said the warrior with a snarl.
Hekate shook her head sadly. "I gave you that power again, Xena - do you really think I would have done if you could kill <me> with it?" she said. "Besides, even if you could - and did - you would be trapped here forever."
Xena was silent for a moment, then nodded once, grudgingly acknowledging the truth of the goddess's words. "What do you want, Hekate?"
"What I want is for you to stop being so damn stubborn and look at the bigger picture - you used to do that without even thinking about it," said the goddess.
The warrior dropped her head, her shoulders slumped in defeat. "I let this get too personal, didn't I?" she said, quietly. "I lost my focus - I have never done that before. What's happening to me?"
"Only you can answer that, Xena," said Hekate, gently. "I really need you back in AemetzainL."
"Why?" said Xena, sitting on large rock. "I don't seem to be of much use anymore."
"Xena, stop this right now!" said Hekate, sternly. "Don't let him get to you this way!"
'Who?" asked the warrior.
"Dahak," said Hekate. "Already he begun to send the Destroyers against the Amazons."
"What!?" said the warrior, leaping to her feet once again.
"Yes," said the goddess. "Look."
The goddess swept one arm before Xena and a scene began to unfold before the warrior.
"Perdicas?" said Xena, quietly, frowning. "And Najara!?"
"Yes - remember, the Destroyers are insidious creatures without souls. That is not really Perdicas - it is in his image, but it is a Destroyer. Guilt," said the goddess.
"Oh, gods," said Xena, softly. "I think I understand now - the Destroyer - it isn't some ... monster that we can battle with swords or staffs, is it?"
"No," said Hekate, gently.
"And Najara ... ?"
"Jealousy," said the Goddess.
Xena watched as Perdicas grabbed Gabrielle by the arms and spoke intently with her, the Bard weeping silently, tears streaming from her eyes.
"Gabrielle, if you had only done what you were supposed to - if you had just married me and never run off with Xena, I would still be alive," said Perdicas, shaking his head.
"That's not fair," said Gabrielle, quietly. "You said yourself that you weren't ready to marry me then, either."
"Then you should have never married me at all," said Perdicas, grabbing her arms roughly and squeezing so that the Bard knew there would be bruises there later. She suffered the pain, knowing that he was right; she deserved to let him hurt her this way - it was her fault he was dead, just as he said. If she had married him in the beginning as her parents wanted her to, if she had only stayed in Poteidaia and never followed Xena ... Gabrielle dropped her head and wept with remorse.
"Bastard!" said Xena, as she watched tears start to roll down Gabrielle's cheeks. "Why doesn't he take <me> on?"
"Xena, you have lived with guilt for so long - I will not say that you're numb to it, but you are more accustomed to handling it than Gabrielle," said Hekate.
"What the Hades is Najara saying to 'Lys?" said Xena, her deep blue eyes narrowing as she watched Melys fold her arms over her chest, her jaw tightening in a way that Xena knew so well.
"Melys seems immune to Najara's power," said Hekate, her voice tinged with pride over the strength of her chosen. "Perhaps she has discovered the power behind the destroyers and is thus armed against them - or perhaps it is because this power is not intended to be used against her. Either way, Najara cannot touch her - see?"
Xena watched as Najara tried to attack the priestess and came up against an invisible barrier. Melys stood watching, rolling her eyes as Najara shouted something Xena could not hear. Then she saw Najara turn and go towards Perdicas and Gabrielle.
"If Najara is supposed to be my opponent, can she hurt Gabrielle?" asked Xena, worriedly.
"I don't know," said Hekate, shaking her head.
"Well, would you mind sending me back now so we can find out and get this over with?" asked Xena, arms folded across her chest. Hekate nodded once and Xena found herself standing in the clearing with Melys.
"What's going on, 'Lys?" asked the warrior, quickly glancing around the clearing.
Melys did not answer right away, but grabbed the warrior and held her very close for a moment. "Xena, be very careful here," she said, releasing her. "The Destroyers - "
"Yeah, I know," said the warrior, nodding once toward the bard and her tormentors. "They are 'soulless', alright - Dahak has taken all of the destructive emotions and raised the dead to embody them."
"Exactly," said the priestess, relieved at the warrior's quick understanding. "And with that knowledge, you should be able to defeat them - meanwhile ... "
Melys's eyes travelled to where Anaxilea and Michael still battled.
"Stay out of that Melys," said Xena, running over to where Gabrielle battled a double assault of guilt. The priestess frowned, watching her warrior run over to the confrontation, but suddenly felt a familiar, comforting presence.
"Hekate," said the priestess, turning to face the goddess. "What are you doing here?"
"Melys, you must return to the Village - Lucina is in labour," said the goddess.
Melys turned quickly back to the sound of swords clashing and saw that Xena now battled the woman called Najara. Michael and Anaxilea still fought as well, neither showing any signs of tiring or defeat.
"But - " she began.
"Child, there is nothing you can do here," said Hekate.
Melys glanced back at the combatants, biting her lip worriedly, then nodded slowly.
"Of course, Mother," she said, running back to the Village.
The goddess watched her Chosen running back toward the village, then placed her attention grimly upon the battles taking place in the clearing.
(To Be Continued)
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