"Tell me again, *what* are we doing in this gods forsaken place?" asked Methos, turning to face the man mounted on the horse next to him.
"Relaxing, brother," grinned Kronos.
"Relaxing," Methos repeated. "Wonderful."
"Whatís wrong, Methos? Donít you think we deserve some time away from Caspian and Silas?"
"I never said that. I just have visions of us returning to a camp where the slaves are running riot and someoneís head is staked out on a pole."
Kronos laughed. "They wouldnít dare." He watched as Methos turned away and studied the village. Heíd been worried about his brother lately. Methos just didnít seem to be putting his heart into the raids theyíd been carrying out recently. And heíd actually left someone alive in the last village theyíd attacked. Luckily, he had seen the woman and run his sword through her, but it was enough to make him concerned. Heíd decided to bring Methos to the village to see if he could find out what was wrong with him. "Iíve arranged for a room at the inn," he said, kicking his horse into heading to the other end of the town.
Methos sighed and rode after Kronos.
Xena ignored the two men who had just walked into the inn. She was listening to what Hercules and Iolaus were telling her and Gabrielle about a band of four masked raiders that had been striking villages and leaving them decimated.
"Theyíre sweeping through outlying villages like they were nothing," said Iolaus.
"And no one is left alive," added Hercules. "They have to be stopped."
"Do you think this is Aresí doing?" Gabrielle asked. "Itís sounds like something he would do."
"I donít think so," answered Hercules. "Yes, my brother is a blood thirsty barbarian, but killing children has never been his style."
"True," Xena agreed. "Ares tends to leave people alone unless they challenge him or are involved in a war in some way. No, Hercules is right, this isnít his style at all."
"I donít particularly care *who* they worship, all I know is that they have to be stopped," commented Iolaus.
"Count us in," said Gabrielle.
"We were hoping youíd say that," said Hercules. "I thought if we set out tomorrow, we could probably find their camp within a few days."
Xena nodded her agreement, and called over to the inn-keeper for more drinks.
Methos grimaced as he looked around the small room. "Itís a fucking dump, Kronos."
"But itís away from Caspian and Silas," pointed out Kronos.
"True," the older Immortal conceded. "I swear, Caspian is getting more like a child each day. Did you see what he did to that slave. Heís going through slaves quicker than weíre able to train them."
"True, but at least the vultures are eating well," smirked Kronos. When Methos didnít smile, Kronos sighed. "Itís a phase, Methos. Heíll grow out of it soon enough."
"Thatís what you said about Silas and the camels," Methos muttered.
"And I was right about that, wasnít I?"
"Yes, but it took him 200 years! The rate Caspianís going, heíll have killed all the slaves way before then."
"Methos, forget it, weíre meant to be relaxing."
Methos threw his hands in the air. "Fine, but donít come running to me when there are no slaves left and you end up washing your own trousers, peeling your own fruit and washing down the horses. I think you forget, Kronos, that thereís more to running that camp then just raping and pillaging. *Someone* has to make sure the slaves are trained and we have enough horses, and-"
Kronos pulled Methos to him and kissed him. "Shut up," he commanded as he pulled the other Immortal to the bed.
"Where are you going?" Methos asked, his voice heavy with sleep.
"To check on the horses," replied Kronos. "Iíll be back soon."
"Fine," said Methos, falling asleep almost instantly.
Kronos watched Methosí sleeping figure for a few moments, before leaving the room.
Gabrielle stood up. "Iíll be back soon," she said, turning around and colliding with someone. "Sorry," she mumbled, looking up. Her gaze was instantly drawn to the scar across his right eye.
"So you should be. Be more careful, you stupid cow."
"Hey!" Gabrielle objected, but the stranger was already walking away.
"Silly bitch," Kronos muttered, smoothing out the leather where the blonde had knocked into him. Heading out into the village, he looked around until he found what he wanted. Seeing Aresí temple, Kronos smirked. He served no god but himself, but it was worth a shot. Stepping into the dark temple, he slowly walked to the altar and knelt down. Pulling out the dagger he had in his boot, Kronos drew it across his palm and let the blood drip onto the altar. "Ares, show yourself," he said loudly.
A flash of light signalled the War Godís arrival. "Who are to demand of me? *Nobody* summons the God of War."
Kronos looked Ares up and down. "Youíre here, arenít you," he pointed out.
Ares felt his fury rising. Lifting a hand, he prepared to strike the man dead.
"It wonít do you much use," Kronos told him, amusement colouring his tone.
Ares stopped the lightning bolt from leaving his hand. Reaching out with tendrils of energy, he stared at the stranger. "Youíre an Immortal."
"Yes, I am. I am Kronos."
Ares nodded appreciatively. "Iíve heard of you. You, and your brothers."
"I assumed you would have. Itís why Iím here."
Ares curiosity overrode his annoyance at Kronosí arrogance. "Go on," he prompted.
"One of my brothers, Methos, is beginning to question our way of life. Heís starting to think that maybe it would be better to have a peaceful life. To work and buy," Kronos shuddered at the word, "what we want instead of taking it."
"And what does this have to do with me?"
"Simple," answered Kronos. "Methos is one of the greatest warriors I have known. And trust me, Iíve known a lot of them. If he turns away from us, and embraces peace, then you, as the God of War, will lose all of his future battles. And, as an Immortal, thereís going to be rather a lot of them."
"You have a point," Ares conceded.
Kronos grinned. "I always do."
"Even so, what else is in it for me?"
Ares frowned. "A partnership? Iím a God, I have worshippers, not partners. People *serve* me, not work with me."
Kronosí voice hardened. "I serve *no one*."
"Then I have no need for you."
"But imagine it," murmured Kronos, closing the distance between himself and the god. "The Four Horsemen ready to *work* for you. Warriors with centuries of experience; who canít be killed."
Ares closed his eyes. "It could have its... advantages."
"You know it could." Kronosí hand dropped to the growing bulge in the godís leather trousers.
"And all I have to do is make sure this Methos remains with you and your brothers."
"Why me?" Ares asked.
"Iíve tried," admitted Kronos. "He doesnít listen to me. I thought that he may listen to you. You being a god, and all that. It might actually impress him."
Ares growled. Grabbing the hand that was massaging his leather-covered cock, he pushed Kronos to the floor. "Bring him here tonight," he said, before crushing his mouth to the Immortalís.
Kronos staggered slightly as he left the temple. It wasnít often that he got to indulge his submissive side, so when Ares had pounded into him, he had accepted it with little more than a murmur. After all, it wouldnít do for the camp slaves to see him being fucked like a bitch in heat, so he had to take it when he could get it. The only other person heíd ever allowed to dominate him was Methos, and the thought of losing his brother was tearing at him. Pausing for a few minutes to allow his body to heal from the vicious fucking, Kronos strode towards the inn to get Methos.
"Where were you?" Methos demanded as soon as Kronos walked into the room.
"I told you, I was checking on the horses."
"I doubt it, considering *I* went to check them and you werenít there," commented Methos.
"Ah, you caught me out," Kronos said. "I was arranging a surprise for you."
"A surprise?" Methos raised an eyebrow. "This wouldnít by any chance be the same kind of Ďsurpriseí you arranged for Caspian a few years back?"
Kronos threw his head back and laughed. "Have no fear, brother. I have no desire to see *you* in that position."
"Good, I canít tell you how glad that makes me feel."
Kronos smirked at the look on Methosí face. "Oh no, *this* surprise is far better."
"I can hardly wait."
Kronos grabbed Methosí hand and pulled him towards the door. "You donít have to," he said, dragging him out the room.
Methos looked around the temple. "Why are we here?" he asked.
"Youíll see," replied Kronos, as the other Horseman pulled a dagger out of his belt and drew it across his palm. Kronos allowed some drops of blood to hit the altar before smearing them across the stone with his hand.
Methos raised an eyebrow, watching his brotherís actions with confusion. "Kronos, what-" The Immortalís words were cut off by a blinding flash of light that encompassed the temple. When the flash had dissipated, a man stood in its place. Methos recognised him immediately. "Ares."
The God of War stalked forward, only stopping when he was close enough to feel Methosí breath on his face.
"I take it *this* is my... surprise," Methos said to Kronos, his eyes never leaving the godís face.
Ares raised a hand and gently trailed a finger down Methosí cheek. "Your brother wanted me to speak to you," he said softly. "He thinks youíre losing sight of who you are; of *what* you are." Ares pinned Methos with his dark gaze. "Are you?"
"Kronos doesnít know what heís saying," Methos replied.
"Oh, but I think he does," Ares contradicted. "*I* think youíre starting to question the validity of what you do. Youíre staring to lose your way, Methos."
"You have *no* idea what Iím thinking." Methos started to walk away when Aresí reached out and grabbed him, pulling him back against the god.
Lowering his head, Ares murmured softly in the Horsemanís ear, his voice low and seductive. "Itís still there, Methos. The screams of the dying. The fear in their eyes as they look upon you. Let it out, Methos. Come to me. Let Death ride once more."
Methos closed his eyes, the cries of those he had killed ringing in his ears. He could feel the hot blood as it ran over his hand when he plunged his sword into people. A hand gently trailed around his neck as the soft voice continued.
"You are *Immortal*, Methos. A killer, a hunter. Why deny that? Why deny what you were born be? You are the eternal, the unending."
Methos shivered as the cold air ran across his suddenly unclothed body.
Running his hands down the Immortalís arms, Ares linked their fingers together. Expanding his awareness, he drew Methos closer to him and enveloped him in his past.
Methos dropped his had back onto the godís shoulder as images assaulted him. The scent of burning flesh filled him and the screams of the dying drowned out everything but his own heartbeat.
"Feel it. Hear it."
"I can," whispered Methos. His face burned with the heat of the fire that razed the village to the ground. The calls of Caspian and Silas reached his ears as they fought over some trinket theyíd discovered. Groaning as Aresí hard cock pushed into him, Methos bit his lower lip. The flesh pulsed within him, a counterpoint to the death around them.
"Itís who you are, Methos. Itís who youíll *always* be."
"Yes," hissed the Immortal, as Ares began to move within him.
"Accept it. Embrace it." Dropping his hand, Ares started to pump Methosí cock in time with his thrusts. "You. Are. *Death*."
"YES!" With a scream, Methos came over Aresí hand.
Gritting his teeth as Methosí muscles grabbed his cock, Ares emptied himself into the Horseman.
Kronos watched with amusement as his brother slumped to the ground after having been thoroughly fucked by the God of War. Pushing himself off the altar where heíd been sitting, he walked over and crouched next to Methos. Placing his fingers under Methosí chin, he slowly raised the other Immortalís head. The grey-green eyes that met his flickered with a bloodlust, and Kronos couldnít hold back his grin. "Welcome back... brother."
Xena looked up as the door to the inn burst open and a young man staggered in.
"Please," he panted, "I need... need your help. Horsemen... they are going... going to attack my village."
Hercules quickly motioned for the barman to bring a drink over and guided the young man to the table. "Whatís your name?" he asked.
"Begias," the stranger replied.
"How do you know theyíre going to attack?" Iolaus asked.
"They have... decimated the villages near us. Ours is next in line."
Xenaís question was cut off by the blacksmith running into the inn.
"Hercules! Thank the gods youíre still here!"
The blacksmith placed two items on the table. "I was shoeing one of the horses in the stable when these fell out of the saddle bag."
Gabrielle frowned, knowing it was more likely that heíd been rifling through them looking for something of value, but the frown drained away when she saw the look on Xenaís face. "What is it?" she asked.
"The mask of Death," the warrior stated. "Which means only one thing. The Horsemen are here." She quickly turned to the blacksmith. "Which horse did you get these from?"
"The white stallion in the stable. A man came in this earlier and asked me to re-shoe the two horses he had there."
"Two? Not four?" Iolaus said.
The blacksmith nodded. "Just two. He said to come and get him when they were done and he would pay me."
"Where did he say he was staying?" Gabrielle questioned.
"Here," replied the blacksmith. "He said they were staying here."
Stepping out of the temple, Methos smiled at his brother. "I think we should step up the attacks. There are still villages who havenít heard of the Horsemen, and itís time that changed."
Kronos grinned. It felt good to have Methos back where he should be. "Methos, you know I agree with any plan-"
Kronosí words were cut off by a voice ringing through the village.
"Theyíre in the village? Then we can stop them."
Xena nodded. "Letís go," she said, getting to her feet. "Weíll split up and search until we find them."
They all turned as the call came from outside the tavern.
"Iíd say someone already has," murmured Iolaus
Methos glanced over at Kronos as the manís cry reached their ears.
A burst of light flashed behind them.
"It appears youíve been recognised." Aresí velvet tones slipped over them.
"Such is the drawback of fame," smirked Kronos, as four people came running out of the tavern he and Methos had been staying in.
"And the last players take to the game board," murmured Ares.
"Stay back!" Hercules called to the villagers who had gathered. "I donít want anyone getting hurt."
Slowly, the group advanced on the three men standing at the other side of the square.
"Ares!" Xena snarled. "I might have known *youíd* be involved."
The War God shrugged. "Actually, weíve just met," he commented lightly, his arm motioning towards the two Horsemen. "But it feels like weíve known each other for years."
Gabrielle stepped forward. "We know who you are, and youíre not going to get away with your crimes," she said, looking at the two men.
The darker Horseman barked a laugh. "Child, do you have *any* idea who we are?"
"We know youíre two of the Horsemen," the Bard replied.
"Oh, but we are so much more than that," the Horseman replied. "We are fear, power and death. We are the end of all you know, and all you hold dear." He smiled coldly as he drew his sword. "We are the end of time."
"You always did have a flair for the dramatic, brother," Methos commented quietly.
Kronosí smile widened. Reaching out, he curled his fingers in Methosí hair and pulled the other Immortal to him. "Itís good to have you back, Methos," he said, pressing a hard kiss to his brotherís lips.
"If you two are quite finished, I believe we have some more pressing business to attend to," muttered Ares, pointedly looking at the group staring at the Horsemen.
Pulling away from Kronos, Methos turned to the god. "Care to join us, Ares?"
Ares grinned, unsheathing the sword that hung from his belt. "Oh, I wouldnít miss this for the world."
The tension between the two groups rippled, until Xena finally broke the silence. Screaming, she unhooked her chakram and sent it flying towards the Horsemen.
Using centuries of training, Methos slashed the air, and the two halves of the chakram fell at his feet. His eyes hard, he looked up at Xena, who was staring at the broken chakram in shock. "Our turn now," he said.
Hercules took an involuntary step backwards as Ares and the Horsemen charged towards them. Expecting Ares to come straight for him, he was surprised when his brother bypassed him, and one of the others ran at him.
"I am Kronos," the man said calmly.
"I just thought you might like to know the name of the man about to kill you."
"Others have tried," the demi-god told him.
Kronos smirked. "*Others* arenít *me*."
Hercules quickly glanced around. If he could find Iolaus, he knew they could make quick work of Kronos. His eyes fell on the figure of his friend desperately trying to hold Ares at bay. Hercules watched in horror as Iolaus stumbled and Aresí sword ripped through the back of the Hunterís legs.
Iolaus dropped to the ground and Gabrielle ran to him.
"Guess itís just you and me, then," commented Kronos, steadily advancing on Hercules.
Xena heard Iolausí cry, but couldnít turn around and see what had happened without giving her opponent the opening he needed. The Horseman was steadily wearing her down, and she realised with horror that she didnít believe she could beat him. "NO!" she screamed, as he flicked her sword out of her hand and grabbed her wrist, pulling her to him and holding her tightly.
Ares looked over to where Methos held Xena. "Last chance, Xena," he said, walking up to them. "Join us."
Xena struggled against Methosí grip. "Never," she snarled.
"Very well." Ares nodded at Methos.
Bringing his dagger up quickly, Methos dragged it through Xenaís throat, dropping the body at his feet.
"NO!" screamed Gabrielle from where she was crouched next to Iolaus. "YOU BASTARD!" she yelled, charging at Methos.
Reaching out a hand, Ares enveloped the blonde bard in a golden haze, stopping her movements.
Gabrielle struggled against the invisible force holding her, but it was no use. She cursed at Ares as she felt herself being lifted off the ground.
Smiling coldly, Ares slowly began to close his outstretched hand.
Gabrielle gasped as she felt the air around her tightening, squeezing her body. She struggled to get air into her body as the grip around her continued to tighten.
Ares watched as the bardís face began to purple as the life was forced out of her.
The final gasp of Gabrielleís life rattled through her body, and then she went limp.
"You donít know how long Iíve wanted to do that," said Ares softly as he realised the air from around the blonde and watched as the corpse fell to the ground.
Hercules felt his heart harden as each of his friends fell. He had been holding off Kronos, but only barely, and it was just a matter of time before the Horseman broke through his defences. Anger at seeing Gabrielle drop to the ground broke through and he snarled as he ran at Kronos.
Kronos smiled. Never fight with anger was a rule he lived by. Anger made you weak; made you make mistakes. As Hercules was about to find out. Side-stepping the demi-godís charging form, Kronos smoothly swung his sword, the blade connecting with Herculesí neck.
Hercules didnít even have time to realise what was happening as Kronosí blade cleanly severed his head from his body.
Kronos watched in pleasure as Herculesí headless body fell, his blood staining the ground beneath him.
"Oh, that was good," Ares said, coming up behind Kronos and placing his hands on his shoulders. He stared at Hercules. "Come back from *that* if you can, brother dear," he whispered.
"This oneís still alive!"
Kronos and Ares looked over to see Methos standing over Iolaus.
"Do you want to kill him, or shall I do it?" Methos asked.
"Neither," Kronos replied, walking up to his brother. He looked down at Iolaus, who was vainly trying to stand. Placing his foot on Iolausí chest, Kronos pushed him back to the ground. "I wouldnít try to stand," he told the mortal. "Not until your legs heal, anyway."
"I will *kill* you!" Iolaus promised.
Kronos laughed. "Iíve no doubt about that, but youíll find me very hard to kill."
"What are you going to do with him?" Ares asked.
"Take him, break him, fuck him," Kronos replied. "Not necessary in that order."
"Iíll die first." The pained whisper came from Iolaus.
Kronos pinned the Hunter with his gaze. "When I am through with you, you will *beg* me to use you."
"Never!" Iolausí snarl was weak.
"I have broken stronger than you before," the Horseman warned. "I enjoy the challenge."
"And the rewards," smirked Methos.
"True," answered Kronos, lifting his sword and knocking Iolaus unconscious with it. Straightening up, he looked around at the horrified faces of the villagers who had watched the slaughter.
"Theyíre terrified," pointed out Methos, a cold smile on his lips.
"They should be, brother."
"Let them tremble," said Ares, his voice deceptively soft. "They are *nothing*." He turned to the two Horsemen standing before him. He slowly raised an arm, holding his hand out. "Join me, and together we will show the world the *true* meaning of War."
Methos looked at Kronos, an almost imperceptible nod the only indication of the unspoken words between them.
A feral grin sprang to Aresí face as, as one, Methos and Kronos both reached out and took Aresí hand.
"The Horsemen stand with you," said Kronos.
"Then let the world burn."
For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
-- Revelation 6:17