The Amazon Queen
Part XX f : 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.
Melys ran back to the village and found Lucina in a birthing chamber within the House of Mothers. CyrenL and Hypsyple stood with her, crooning and coaxing. With a pang, Melys remembered the birth of her youngest, now torn from her.
"Melys, thank goodness," said CyrenL approaching. "She's incoherent and babbling something about Eli and her baby."
Melys frowned and approached the girl.
"Lucina?" she said, softly. Lucina looked up at her and smiled.
"I'm glad you're here - will you please protect him?" she said, softly.
"Of course," said the priestess, soothingly. Lucina grabbed both of Melys's shoulders tightly, lifting herself partway off of the bed and looked intently into her dark green eyes. With a sigh, the younger woman let go and lay back down.
"I'm sorry," said Lucina. "I know that you will - you can't help it - that is who you are."
"What ... what do you mean?" asked Melys, grabbing a damp cloth from the table beside the birthing chair and gently dabbing Lucina's brow.
"Just ... you are an Amazon," said Lucina. "Amazons protect those who can't protect themselves. That's what you do. That's what Xena and Gabrielle do - are doing, even now."
Melys nodded, slowly as Lucina's breathing quieted and the priestess knew that she was resting. "It won't be long now," said Melys, rising.
"Where is Xena?" asked CyrenL.
"Fighting," Melys replied with a shrug.
"She should be here," said CyrenL disapprovingly.
"Tanti," began Melys. "Both Xena and Gabrielle are fighting for this child's life - besides, Lucina has you - and me - "
"And me." Melys was startled by the voice. She turned and saw Eve entering the birthing chamber.
"What are you doing here?" asked the priestess, her dark green eyes narrowed, arms crossed over her chest as she stepped in front of Lucina defensively.
"I'm here for my daughter," said Eve. "I'm her mother - I have the right."
"Aside from the fact that you were exiled from Amazon Lands as punishment for your treachery," said Hypsyple, quietly.
Eve looked defiant. "I have done my penance for that," she said.
Melys looked at her suspiciously. "Maybe you have," said the priestess. "And you do have the right to be here with your daughter at this time. I would give you immunity until this child is born, if only ..."
"If only what?" asked Eve.
"How did you get here?" asked the priestess. "And how did you know when to come here?"
Melys looked intently into Eve's eyes and saw terror.
"I ... just ... did," said Eve.
"That's not a good enough explanation," said Melys. "Who brought you here and why?"
There was a flash of light. "I did, Sis'," said Ares.
Melys eyed the god of war, suspiciously. "Why?" she asked.
"Hey, what can I say?" said Ares with a shrug. "This is my grandchild - and hers. She should be here. You taught me the family thing, Sis' - remember?"
"Yeah, I guess I do remember," said Melys, softly. "Very well, but Ares you can't be here, you know."
Ares looked quickly at Lucina, then shuddered. "Ah, that's okay - I'm gone," he said, stepping away in preparation to leave, but he hesitated, watching as Eve approached their daughter.
"Mother," Lucina whispered.
"I'm here, Luce," said Eve, smiling. Her face was transformed. Melys smiled herself and stepped back a bit. Eve lowered her veils, tentatively. She closed her eyes briefly. Blessed silence, thought Eve.
"Don't worry," Melys whispered. "He can't get to you here."
Eve started. "I don't know what you're talking about," she said.
"That other voice is Dahak," said Melys. "He's busy elsewhere at the moment."
"That's insane," said Eve, angrily. "You think I wouldn't know an evil voice if it spoke to me?"
"No," said Melys, shortly, turning away from Eve to tend Lucina. "I don't think you would."
Ares restrained Eve, whose blue eyes narrowed as she started towards the priestess. "Now, now - can't have you losing sight of all those ... peaceful, loving ideals, can we?" he murmured so only Eve could hear him. "One false move, Eve, and I can pop you right back where I got you - understand?"
Eve glared at the god, but nodded once. She stepped forward once again, deliberately brushing past Melys. With a sigh, the priestess took Eve's arm and firmly pulled her aside, away from Lucina.
"Look Eve, this is my realm - here I am in charge," said Melys, reining in her animosity towards her warrior's daughter.
"I am Lucina's mother," said Eve again.
"Keep saying it - maybe it will help you get over what you did to her," said Melys.
"Look, I'm here, aren't I?" said Eve.
Melys looked carefully at the other woman and saw the fear in her eyes. Suddenly, the priestess's heart softened towards Eve. She had swallowed her pride to ask Ares a favour and had braved execution by coming among the Amazons after she had been exiled for terrible crimes against the Amazon Nation.
"Look, let's just call a truce, okay?" said the priestess, smiling at Eve. Eve nodded, still a little uncertain. Melys put one arm lightly around her shoulders and guided her back to her daughter.
"Gabrielle!" Xena yelled over her shoulder. Najara was as tough as ever. Never mind that the last time the warrior had seen the zealot, Najara had been unlikely to ever rise from that deepest of sleeps just at the threshold of death. Perdicas had grabbed Gabrielle again and was dragging her away. Xena looked quickly around. Michael and Anaxilea were gone.
"Son of a Bacchae!" the warrior said with a growl. Najara cocked her head and simpered at the warrior.
"What's the matter, Xena?" she asked. "Someone else have Gabrielle's attention?"
"Shut up, Najara," said Xena.
"Oooh, no, I don't think so," said Najara, her smile brightening further. "Remember, she's your weakness."
"One of many, Najara," said Xena, twirling her sword, waiting for Najara to strike. "And Gabrielle can take care of herself - it took me a long time to learn that, but now ..."
Xena moved in swiftly, attacking without hesitation.
Perdicas was attacking the Bard with his words even as Najara attacked the Warrior with a sword.
"Why, Gabrielle? Why couldnt you just do what you were supposed to do? None of this mess would have ever happened if you had just acted the way a normal girl did," said Perdicas.
"Normal?" said Gabrielle, looking up at him. "When was I ever normal? You wouldnt have liked me if I had been normal."
"I would be alive," said Perdicas, solemnly.
"Yeah? Would you still be a jerk, too?" said Gabrielle, growing angry.
"Gabrielle, what are you saying?" asked Perdicas, his eyes welling with tears.
"Oh, stop it - the Perdicas I knew would never ..." the Bards annoyed words trailed off. "The Perdicas I knew - youre not Perdicas!"
"Very good, Gabrielle," came a sinister purr as Perdicas metamorphosed into a beautiful blonde warrior. She threw back her head and screamed in laughter.
"Callisto!" said Gabrielle, eyes narrowing in hatred. Xena whipped around, suffering a blow from Najara in the process.
"So Gabrielle is no longer a distraction to you, hm, Xena?" said the zealot with a sweet smile.
"I dont have time for <you> ," said Xena, fighting Najara in earnest, beating her back
"Whats wrong Najara - the Djinn talking to you, distracting you?" The warrior chuckled coldly. "Or is Dahak your puppet-master now?"
Najara stopped fighting and her eyes narrowed in a glare. Suddenly, Xena found herself looking at an older enemy than the zealot.
"Ming-Tien," she said. He threw back his head and laughed, his body growing and transforming until he was a great green dragon, towering over the trees. Xena stared up at the monster who was breathing smoke. She heard Lao Ma, her mentor and mother to the monster before her, in her mind.
"Make him small again, Xena."
"I cant," said the warrior through clenched teeth. "I dont know how." She glanced quickly over to Gabrielle, who was staring down, of all people, Callisto. The warrior was worried. Perdicas, she knew, would probably never harm Gabrielle. Callisto was another matter. Could Gabrielle hold her own? Xena doubted it. Gabrielle had certainly grown into a competent warrior in her own right over the years, but it took more than competence to defeat Callisto. It took skill and ...
Xena looked up at the dragon, searing the treetops, again and was torn. She had been wanting to slay a dragon for years now, ever since the Mage War in Themiscyreia when Romy was a baby. Yet she knew that Gabrielle couldnt handle Callisto. The only thing she had to decide was who/what to kill first ...
"Now who needs to be made small?" Xena whirled around, momentarily turning her back on the dragon and Callisto.
"Ares," she said.
"Come on Xena, what are you going to do?" asked the god, arms folded over his chest. "Tough decision, I know - do you become Dragon-slayer or do you save your friend? Shouldnt be that difficult for a warrior of your stature to do both, though, right? In the meantime, though, I thought you should know that your great-grandson has been born."
"What?" said Xena.
"Yep - Eve is here, too," said Ares. "Well, she was, but the truth is she grabbed the baby and ran."
"What!?" Xena cried, advancing on the god. "Why didnt you stop her?"
"Well, I was a little busy at the time," said Ares, turning his arm to show a bloody bandage. "Anaxilea showed up."
(To Be Continued)
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