The Amazon Queen
Part XX-h : 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.
"No," said Lucina, sitting up, slowly. "Im going after her."
"Lucina, you just had a baby. Youre not going anywhere," said Xena.
"I know you think that Im just some weak little Elisian girl," said Lucina. "But I know something about fighting."
"How?" said Aryn.
"Mother - maybe she wouldnt let herself fight anymore, but she wouldnt let herself forget how, either," said Lucina. "When I was little, she would get up before the sun and go away from the compound to practice. She never held a weapon, but I could see her with a blade in her hand, the way she moved - it was like a dance."
"Of course," said Xena, quietly. "But Lucina, watching and doing are entirely different things. Come on, you know that."
"Yes, but ..." Lucina bit her lip. "I know I shouldnt have, but ... I ..."
"You copied her," said Aryn, nodding.
"Yes," said Lucina, looking down.
"Its okay - you were a little kid, looking up to your mother," said Aryn. "I used to do the same thing with Xena. But still, Lucina, its different than doing the real thing."
"I know, but I still have to go after Anaxilea," said Lucina.
"What about the baby?" asked Xena.
"He has Mother," said Lucina. "So I know that hes okay. Anaxilea has no one. I have to help her. I cant explain it. I just feel ... like I need to help her."
"Okay," said Xena. "You go with Ryn." Lucina started to protest.
"Thats the only way youre getting up out of that bed, Young Lady," said Cyrene.
"Very well," said Lucina with a sigh. She arose shakily and began to dress, but grew pale and clutched Cyrene as dizziness struck her.
"Lucina, youre not going anywhere," said Hypsyple.
"Yes, I am," said the young woman, determined. "Queen Melys told me that Xena fought off Zeuss elite guard minutes before my mother was born. I have Xenas blood in me. I can do this. I have to."
She straightened and finished dressing. "Im ready," she said.
"Ryn, watch her," said Xena, quietly. "Please."
Aryn nodded and the two young women left. "Xena what are you going to do?" asked Cyrene.
"Im going to go and have a sensitive chat with my best friend," said the warrior, leaving.
Eve ran with the baby deep into the woods. She stopped only to fashion a sling to carry the child on her chest, leaving both hands free in case she needed to fight. She wasnt sure where she was going, but she knew she had to get this baby to safety, away from the possessed Amazon Warrior. Suddenly, there was a flash of light and Eve found herself facing Michael. She raised the sword.
"Out of my way, Michael," she said.
"What are you doing, Messenger?" asked the archangel.
"If you were up on things, youd know that Im no longer Elis messenger," said Eve, bitterly.
"Ah, but I do know that," said Michael, grinning. "So what are you doing? Protecting this child?"
"Yes - you got a problem with that?" asked Eve, eyes narrowed.
"Nah," said Michael. "You see, I have an interest in protecting this child as well. He will mean a great deal to a great many people when he grows up."
"Are you offering to help, Michael?" asked Eve.
"No, I am insisting - get back!" The archangel whirled around, sword in hand and Eve saw Anaxilea, floating through the trees towards them. She saw Michael and snarled at the archangel, touching down on the ground and running to engage him in a sword battle. Eve turned and ran further into the woods.
The baby began to cry and Eve stopped. She looked around, scouting the area, then sat with him on a fallen log, rocking back and forth.
"I know, Little One, I know," she crooned. "Im so sorry. I know youre hungry and I promise Ill get you back to your mama as soon as I can, but for now, its just too dangerous there. Not much better here."
Eve could still hear the ring of swords from the battle between Anaxilea and Michael.
"No, it isnt." Startled, Eve looked up to see an old woman, bending over her and the baby.
"Who are you?" she asked, jumping to her feet and brandishing the sword.
"Oh, now come, Child - arent your arms weary from carrying both that heavy old thing <and> the baby?" said the old woman. Eve hadnt noticed the weariness in her arms until that moment. "Youve not had a sword in your hand for many years now."
"How would you know that?" asked Eve, eyes narrowed.
"I know all," said the old woman, nodding wisely. "I know that this little one should be back with his mother now."
"Yes, he probably should, but his mother is not in a safe place," said Eve, warily.
"Nonsense!" said the old woman. "She is safer than you are right now - do you really think that the Amazons would allow harm to come to one of their own? Even you, little Eve, they would have protected if your mother had chosen to remain with them as she had considered at the time."
"Amazons protect me? You have got to be kidding. They would have executed me if it hadnt been for ..." began Eve.
"For what, Child?" asked the old woman.
"Xena and Gabrielle," said Eve, quietly.
"Yes, well, were always harder on our own, arent we?" said the old woman, sitting next to Eve and the baby.
"What do you mean?" asked Eve, setting the sword down, but within easy reach.
"Oh, of course, you wouldnt remember - you were just a baby," said the woman. "Gabrielle gave you her Right of Caste."
"She ... she did?" said Eve, incredulous.
"Yes, she did," said the old woman, nodding. "So you see, Eve, you were once an Amazon."
"And I did ... all those things ..." said Eve. The old woman reached over and took the baby in her arms, crooning softly to him before responding.
"Yes, you did, but Ares was behind all that, wasnt he?" she said.
"Thats beside the point," said Eve. "I went along with him, no matter what he said for my own reasons."
"And it was Livia, not you, <Eve>, after all," said the old woman. "And the Amazons declared Livia legally dead."
"But that doesnt really change anything," said Eve.
"Well, of course it does," said the old woman. "As long as you yourself declare Livia dead as well."
"How can I do that?" asked Eve. "Thats who I <was> - who I still am, deep inside. My actions these past years prove that."
"Are you, Child?" the old woman asked in a soft voice.
"Yes, Livia is still a part of me," said Eve with a sigh.
"Which part, Eve?" asked the old woman.
"I dont know," said Eve.
"You know, its interesting, your mother began her road to redemption by saving a child much like this one," said the old woman, handing him back.
"I know," said Eve, quietly gazing at the child in her arms. "I read it in Gabrielles scrolls a long time ago."
"Well, you are very like your mother," said the old woman, rising and walking away.
Eve thought for a moment, then rose and made her way back to the Amazon village.
Aryn cursed under her breath. She didnt understand why Xena had allowed this weak girl to accompany her on the search for Anaxilea. Usually Ryn knew Xenas mind as well as anyone could and better than most, except maybe Gabrielle or her mother, Melyse. This, however, was beyond the confines of common sense. The young warrior had a feeling that Lucina was along to keep her from harming the traitor, Anaxilea - the Elisians were peace-mongers, Ryn knew and while she admired the concept, she lived in the real world. As an Amazon, she had been raised by a persecuted people and she knew that when you were pushed, you pushed right back, lest the enemy thought you weak and attacked. It was always better to avoid a battle than to fight, she knew, but where was the satisfaction in <that>? She sighed to herself, supposing that perhaps there was a bit of her uncle, Ares in her, much as she would hate to ever admit it.
<Still, have to admire her,> thought Aryne. <Just had a baby and already up and hunting for that bitch, Anaxilea.>
Lucina signalled to Aryne that she needed a rest, so the warrior found a suitable place for her to sit.
"Thank you," said Lucina.
"No problem," said Ryn, shortly as she continued to scan the area with squinted eyes. She absently handed Lucina a waterskin.
"Youre a warrior?" said Lucina, awkwardly.
"Yeah," said Aryne, drinking from her own skin.
"The Priestesss daughter?"
"Yes," said Ryn, with a sigh. Lucina nodded and remained silent. Shaking her head and smiling, Ryn asked, "Why do you ask?"
Lucina looked thoughtful before answering. "My mother was once a warrior. My grandmother still is," she said. "Im just wondering what I would be if I wasnt an Elisian."
"Youd be Lucina," said Ryn with a shrug. "Whats with all the deep thinking?"
Lucina chuckled, then shrugged slightly. "I guess I just figured out that I need to learn who <I> am before I can teach my son about who he is."
"Wow," said Aryne, softly. "I never thought about that. Tecmessa and I have been talking about having a baby. You know, all the changes that would create in our lives and how to prepare for that, but thats one thing we never considered. Thank you, Lucina."
"I never considered it before this moment, either - maybe thats just one of those things that comes with motherhood - not that Ive been at it all that long," Lucina said, rolling her eyes. "What does it feel like? To fight, I mean."
"It doesnt really feel like anything," said Aryne. "You just do what you have to do. When Im fighting, I just think of my family and what the enemy would do to them if they get past me."
"So ... you fight because you love your family," said Lucina.
"Yes, and my people - the Amazons," said Aryne.
"You fight for love," Lucina said again. "I had never thought of a relationship between love and fighting - I was raised to believe that the two could not co-exist. Since being among the Amazons, I have learned much. But I think there is more yet to learn out there in the world."
"I know what you mean," said Aryne, nodding. "Until I went to go and visit my father in Hattusas, I never knew much about the world outside of Aemetzaine. Even going to the great Amazon city of Themiscyreia - well, its still Amazonia. Except for my uncles and my little brother, Iksander, I had never before seen a man anywhere except in battle. In fact, the very first contact with men I ever had was when a warlord rode in and started attacking the village during my First Initiation. In my fathers country, I fought <beside> them. It just gives you a whole new perspective."
"Yes, like the Amazons," said Lucina. "All I ever heard was how evil the Amazons were and then it was an Amazon who rescued me from my own people."
"Anaxilea?" said Aryne, one eyebrow raised.
"Yes," said Lucina. "But the thing who came in and tried to hurt my baby is <not> Anaxilea."
"What do you mean? asked Aryne.
"I mean that it may be Anaxileas body, but its not her in it - at least not the one controlling it," said Lucina.
Aryne thought back to a time when her own beloved Tecmessa was so afflicted. "Okay," said the warrior, quietly. "I think I understand. But if thats the case, what do we do about it? And how do we find my mother?"
"Im not sure - I just felt a bond with Anaxilea - one I cant explain and dont really understand, but I think I can help her through that," said Lucina, rising. "In any event, we should get going - the sun wont last forever."
The two young woman started back toward the woods. Suddenly, Aryne thrust Lucina behind her and drew her sword.
"What is it?" cried Lucina. Then she heard the sound of clashing swords. She followed Ryn to where Michael battled Anaxilea.
"Wait here!" cried Aryne, joining the battle.
"Oh, but - " began Lucina, biting her lip. She had never seen a battle before and as she watched, she could feel both excitement and despair rising up within her.
"Lucina, stop them." She turned to see a woman standing beside her.
"Who are you?" asked the young woman.
"I am Hekate, the Mother of All," said the woman, glowing with an ethereal inner light.
"Youre a goddess?" said Lucina, breathless with awe. "But I thought - "
"Never mind all that, Child - stop them," said Hekate.
"But ... how?" asked Lucina, bewildered.
"You are the Messenger," said Hekate. "Speak the message to them."
Lucina frowned, then nodded. She stepped forward boldly, reminding herself that the blood of the greatest warrior ever, Xena, flowed through her.
<What would Xena do?> she asked herself silently, then shook her head. <Xena would kick all their asses and ask questions later. I have to do this <my> way -not Xenas way and not Elis Way.>
"Stop!" she cried, just outside the invisible boundary of the battle. Michael saw her first and stopped fighting, bowing low before her. Aryne noticed this action and jumped back, just evading being sliced in half by Anaxileas sword. She lowered her sword and stepped out of the battle, hoping that Anaxileas Amazon Honour was still intact despite the possession.
"Lucina, daughter of Eve," said Anaxilea with a growl. "What do you do here, Peace-Monger?"
"I am here to stop this fighting," said Lucina.
"Why?" asked Anaxilea.
"What do you mean, <why>?" said Lucina.
"Why should I stop fighting these two? You do realise that if I dont fight back, they will kill me? Do you want me dead ... <Sister>?" said Anaxilea.
"What are you talking about?" asked Lucina.
"Lucina, Daughter of Eve ... Daughter of Ares ...." A slow smile spread over Anaxileas face as Lucina looked at her in shock.
"No, my father was killed before I was born," said Lucina, hesitantly. "His name was Lucius, not Ares."
"Ah, ah - thats what your mother told because she was ashamed," said Anaxilea. "My mother just left me on a hillside to die when I was born. But thats a family trait - her mother put her in basket and floated her down a river."
"I - I dont understand," said Lucina.
"We are sisters - through our father, Ares, god of War," said Anaxilea. "We have to stick together, you and I - were all each other has."
"Thats not true," said Lucina. "I have my son - I have the Amazons."
"That Amazons," Anaxilea said with a derisive snort. "The Amazons are led by Xena and Gabrielle - both of whom treat the children of total strangers better than their own." She nodded towards Aryne.
"You lie!" said Ryn, jumping towards her.
Anaxilea whirled around at the defense. "You see?" said Anaxilea, triumphantly. "She would kill me in an instant if you werent here."
"Not before I found out what you did with my mother," said Aryne, twirling her sword.
"Your mother is unharmed," said Anaxilea with a growl. "Too bad, I wasnt able to kill her as I wished - she is too powerful. I have put her where she is out of my way, though. Maybe she will be able to find her way back. But as for you, Lucina, your mother has stolen your son."
"No, said Lucina shaking her head. "She was protecting him."
"Are you sure, Lucina? Given your family history - and mine - can you really be sure that is all she is doing? Her mother gave one child away and abandoned Eve for twenty-five years - gave her to Rome to be raised a murdering bitch, just like she was. Now she has abandoned yet another child to the whims of the gods. And Gabrielle! She threw my mother to the mercy of a basket in a river and then tried to kill her - not once, but twice. You would claim these people as your family?"
Lucina looked at Michael. "You are an archangel and cannot lie," she said. "Is this the truth?"
"One version of it," admitted Michael. "But there were circumstances surrounding these events which gave Xena and Gabrielle no choice."
"I see," said Lucina, nodding slowly. "Is Ares my father?"
"Yes," said Michael.
Anaxilea turned her arm. "And so am I," she said, showing Lucina the mark. Lucina looked at her own arm.
"Very well," said Lucina, putting the knowledge away for later. "That explains a lot. In the meantime, Anaxilea, since it seems we are truly sisters, I would help you."
"Excellent!" said Anaxilea, looking triumphantly at both Aryne and Michael. "Come, well leave this place and start fresh."
"No," said Lucina. "I will not go with you. I will only go with my sister."
"But ... I thought I explained all that," said Anaxilea. "I am your sister."
"No, you are something which is controlling my sisters body," said Lucina. "I want to talk with Anaxilea, see if this is what <she> wants."
"You are <so> like your mother! Shes always questioning me - " Anaxilea began then stopped abruptly.
"I want to talk with Anaxilea," said Lucina, firmly.
"No!" cried the entity, flying at Lucina, sword drawn. Aryne jumped between them and fought.
"Run, Lucina! Back to Aemetzaine - tell Xena we need her," she cried, as Michael joined her in fighting Anaxilea.
Lucina was torn. Somehow, it didnt seem right to abandon Aryne to fight. Then, too, she was supposed to stop this fighting. "What do I do?" she whispered.
"You stopped them long enough to hear what you needed to, albeit not in a very nice way," said Hekate appearing again. "Go for help, like Aryne asked you to."
Lucina nodded and ran back towards Aemetzaine. Halfway there, she saw Eve.
"Mother!" she cried.
"Lucina! What are you doing here?" asked Eve, coming to her and handing the baby to her.
"Oh, little one," said Lucina, smiling gently.
"Hes hungry - you better feed him," said Eve.
"I dont ... What do I do?" asked Lucina. Gently, eve loosened Lucinas tunic and guided the babys head. "Ow! Mother, that hurts."
"Yeah, I know," said Eve. "Youll get used to it. What are you doing out here? You shouldnt be up out of bed yet."
"And you shouldnt have a sword in your hand, either," said Lucina, one eyebrow raised. "Some demon bursts into my birthing chamber and you run off with my newborn son. Some day, we need to have long talk about a lot of things, but for now, Anaxilea is fighting Aryne and Michael about half a league that way. I was sent for help. Since you have a sword, maybe you could ..."
"Lucina, I am the Me- uh ... an Elisian -"
"Yeah, I know, but at one time you were one kick-ass warrior," said Lucina. "So do you think maybe you could go and step in? Aryne sent me for Xena, but since I found you first, maybe theres a reason."
"Alright, but go on back to Aemetzaine and get Xena - and Gabrielle, too," said Eve, nervously. "Its been a long time since Ive fought."
"I will, but youll be fine, Mother," said Lucina, moving the protesting baby and re-fastening her tunic. "Later, little one - we have to get you somewhere safe first."
"Aemetzaine," said Eve, quietly. "The Amazons will protect you both." Lucina smiled and planted a quick kiss on her mothers cheek, then ran off to the Amazon Village.
"Lucina! You have the baby," said Cyrene, gathering them both in her arms. "Where is Eve? And Aryne?"
"They are both in the woods, fighting the demon. I need Xena and Gabrielle," said Lucina.
"Theyre in the Lodge," said Cyrene, signalling a sentry to go for them.
"She was protecting him," said Lucina, gazing at her son. Then she chuckled. "From the Amazons, as well as Anaxilea."
"Eve ... has reason to not trust the Amazons," said Hypsyple. "We condemned her to death."
"But thats not true," said Gabrielle, approaching with Xena, her eyes swollen and red. "Varias Tribe condemned <Livia> to death so that Eve, the Messenger of Eli could continue her work. Marga banished Eve from Amazonia, declaring the death sentence if she should return earlier than that. None of us really remembered that until now."
"Whats going on, Lucina?" asked Xena, quietly.
"Aryne and Michael are fighting Anaxilea - by now my mother is there, too," said Lucina. "Aryne sent me to get you."
"Where?" asked Xena. Lucina told her and Xena nodded and turned to Gabrielle.
"Gabrielle you stay and- "
"No," Lucina interrupted. "Mother said Gabrielle should go, too."
"Very well, said Xena with a weary sigh. "Lets go."
Warrior and Bard ran into the woods until they came to the battle. With a fierce cry, Xena leapt into the fray. Michael was nowhere to be seen, but Eve and Aryne were barely holding their own against the demon-possessed Anaxilea. Ryn was wounded badly, blood flowing from deep gashes on both her shoulder and her thigh, but she fought on. Eve had blood flowing from a gash on her temple, probably inflicted by a blow from the hilt of Anaxileas sword.
"Ryn get out of there!" Xena yelled, jumping in. "Gabrielle, take care of her!"
Aryne limped over to Gabrielle and collapsed. Gabrielle bound up her wounds, stopping the bleeding, but Aryne was too pale; she had lost entirely too much blood, fighting on even after she was wounded.
"Oh, gods," Gabrielle whispered. "Come on, Ryn, wake up. Just like your mother. Come on, Ryn! Please?"
(To Be Continued)
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