"In the names of Thanatos... Ares... Eris... Oneiros..." the four large candles sputtered into flaming life as the names were intoned, casting the pale figure clad only in a large black cloak in ominous, flickering light. "Hear me, as I bring to your service a new acolyte, born in blood, born of the blood, now and forever."
Ares successfully fought down a snicker. The young Dacian had *no* idea one of the gods he had dedicated this ceremony to was in fact the acolyte in question, and Ares was having too much fun to tell him, though if the dramatics carried on much longer he might just to liven things up //or at least ask what Oneiros has to do with vampirism//.
Pantheus approached him, eyes glowing red-gold in the flickering light. "You understand, Theres, that once we complete this ceremony you will no longer be a child of the day, but instead will be as I, a predator whose lifeblood is the night, whose sustenance is the low earthly creatures who will abhor you if they discern your true nature."
With considerable effort Ares kept his tone the correct mix of awe and earnestness. "I understand." //Now get on with it already!// "And I accept that this is my sacrifice." //I just *had* to find a performance artist...//
Pantheus bowed his head portentously. "Then it begins. Do not fear the pain of death; in death is the beginning of your new life." He descended on his new 'child', licking his way up the bare torso to light on the big vein pulsing life in the throat, nuzzling it, delivering preparatory nips, awed at the power he felt in this man, the power that had prompted him to offer the dark gift.
Ares allowed his head to loll back, allowing better access to the Dacian. The boy wasn't his type - he had no chin and the mouse-brown hair looked like it had been styled with a dull dagger on a dark night - but as long as he didn't have to *look* he could admit the Dacian was talented with his mouth. He wondered idly if the vampiric contagion would even take with him. It had been such an intriguing idea he'd had to find out. His musing was cut off with a small, sharp gasp as the fangs sunk into his jugular, and he had to fight against the urge to throw this little immortal away from him, keep him from draining his life's blood (which wouldn't kill him, but was needlessly uncomfortable). The feeling soon turned from unsettling to...incredible. As the unattractive little Dacian drained him, he found himself unaccountably sporting one of the biggest hard-ons he'd had in his long life, along with an odd and not unpleasant dizziness.
Reluctantly, Pantheus pulled back, taking a moment to savor Theres' incredible physique. To his credit, the man was still conscious, though glossy-eyed with blood-loss and pleasure. "And now you come into the Life" (he thought of it that way; capitalized). Pantheus pulled a strong, sharp nail down his chest, opening a long cut, and pulled Theres' head to it. "Quickly, before it closes. You must drink of our mingled blood."
Ares complied, drinking in the thick, coppery blood, trying to concentrate on the heady taste/smell, the slight difference in consistency from human blood, and ignore the overwhelming evidence that Pantheus should have taken a few moments out of being a predator of the night to bathe. All too soon, Pantheus forced his head away from the wound, intoning, "Enough. Now you must sleep. And as the sun sets you will awaken to your new life."
Ares briefly considered knocking the little idiot across the room, but he was still curious enough to curb his natural inclinations and go with this ceremonial nonsense, allowing Pantheus to lead him across the room to a sleeping pallet. "No crypt," he raised an eyebrow at his "creator".
"Unnecessary. The only requirement is that the sun not touch you. You'll be fine here. Now sleep. You will awaken to a world of wonder."
Ares watched Pantheus depart in a clumsy flourish, wondering if the Dacian spouted cliches in his dreams, then rolled over and willed himself to the state that mortals called 'sleep'.
He opened his eyes and lay still, trying to discern whether the contagion had worked or not. It wasn't easy, since he already had the attributes of enhanced senses, strength, speed and the like that so impressed mortals. But there was something...
"Awake already!" The Dacian strode up, clothed in his usual get-up of badly-dyed black sandals that strapped up to his knees, black woven hose, billowy white shirt and the ubiquitous cape. "That's unusual. I knew I was right in selecting you."
//You fucking useless little...// "Glad you approve," Ares ground out, sitting up experimentally, trying to decide if he really felt different. "Is that it? I'm a vampire now?"
"Yes, you are a child of the night, with the gods' blessing. You will become stronger over time, but it is done."
//I cannot take one more minute of this pretentious...// "But I can still be killed, can't I?" He tried to project a tone of concern; it seemed like a question the mortal 'Theres' would ask.
Pantheus ran a possessive hand up Ares' torso. "Only two things can kill you now. Annihilation by fire or complete bodily dismemberment."
Ares kept still under the unwelcome hand, eyes glowing ferally as he grinned. He sat up straighter, the familiar urge towards violence overlaid with a new, invigoratingly literal bloodlust. "Bodily dismemberment, you say?" He pulled Pantheos toward him in an adamantine grip, newly strong and lengthened canines shining in the dim glow of the candlelight...
He emerged from the secluded cellar into the near-blinding light of a full moon, body thrumming with the new, wild energy the alien blood had imparted even to him, making him feel unaccountably cheerful in a bloodthirsty way. While it was likely temporary, he was determined to savor every moment of it. It occurred to him that he may have dispensed with his source of information a trifle too early, but he *was* a God. He'd be able to figure it out. //Maybe I should fly to... well, wherever I'm going...// Concentrating on that new feeling he had within him, he willed himself to become a bat. Nothing. He could do it as a god, but that wasn't the point. So bats were out. He tried a rat. Nothing. Wolf, mist? Nope. Nothing. It seemed reports of vampiric abilities were not going to live up to their publicity. But there still *was* something... he set off through the woods, only the vaguest of goals in mind...
Whistling, Iolaus strolled throught the city gates of Eraeszka. A little off their beaten track, but the reports coming out of this small city near Dacia had concerned Herc, so he was happy to confirm the stories while Herc finished cleaning up that mess near Athens.
//Friendly enough little place; I wonder what the problem is?// Seeing how calm things were, he saw no harm in retiring to the nearest public house. //What better place to pick up local gossip?//
He entered the pleasantly dim tavern, sparsely populated at this time of the morning, and ordered a beer from the skin-bald bartender, then settled himself next to a likely-looking middle-aged man a few seats down. He took a drink of his beer and raised his mug to the other man. "Good brew they serve here." The man nodded in acknowledgement and took a drink himself. With a friendly smile, Iolaus tried again. "I'm Iolaus. Nice town you have here."
The man turned and regarded him with a neutral look. "I am VonHelszig. And this *is* a nice town, as you say. But it would do you well to leave before the sun sets, friend."
"I can't. I'm waiting for a friend."
VonHelszig 'hmph'ed and finished his mug of ale. "Then stay here for the night. Vasily will let you a room. But don't go out after dark if you value your life."
Projecting confusion, Iolaus asked "Mind telling me why? I'm pretty capable of handling myself. If you're having a problem with bandits or something I might be able to help."
VonHelszig snorted into the depths of his tankard. "Just don't go out after dark." He muttered something that sounded uncomplimentary under his breath then gave Iolaus a glare. "If you do, it's your death."
"From *what*," Iolaus began, but the older man had already walked away. //Okay, so not everyone here is friendly. Yeesh.// He signalled to the bartender and got himself a room for the night along with another beer.
<<heatsense/lightsense/lifesense, all jacked up to new levels, bloodsmell in the air, heavy and hot with promise, hunting ground fresh, war such a diffuse concept in the face of this new overwhelming drive, he could smell the fear, the frantic beating of the beast's heart hot, beautiful rhythm in his ears, dodge *here*, turn *here*, the slap of branches against his nude flesh, the small pains just an encouragement in the heat of the hunt, the heat of the moment... heat signature of his prey so pulsatingly vibrant, fear and adrenaline, like nothing he'd felt before in its immediacy...he dives forward, through dense underbrush, all claws and teeth now, blood singing as the deer shies away too late, arms wrapping around the straining throat, finding purchase and the animal is lifted overhead then down hard, back snapping before the fear-flush is even over, his fangs driving deep into the still-twitching neck, finding the life-source, hot blood pouring into his throat, down his body, as he holds his victim close, cradling soft fur and muscle, thanking the creature for its sacrifice as he wonders/wants/*needs* something more... something human...>>
Iolaus waited until it became obvious that Herc wouldn't be making it to town till tomorrow, pacing the small room he'd rented at the inn till he had every bit of it memorized. He couldn't understand the fear the locals showed once the sun started to set. It was a beautiful night. Clear, full moon, warm... //I have to get out of here. After all, I can defend myself. These stories are probably based on nothing more than a pack of wild dogs anyway, based on the descriptions. Gods I miss Herc on nights like this...// He went down the rickety stairs in within minutes was in wilderness, glorying in the warm stillness of the night. If there *was* a bloodsucking monster (which he seriously doubted), it understood the beauty of a night like this.
<<heartfeel/lifefeel/bloodsmell... but this time somehow familiar... South-southwest, so familiar... and as he draws closer it breaks through the blood-haze... Iolaus. Hercules' enchanting little sidekick... alone? There's another scent on the wind, but he disregards it, homing in on the blonde warrior. Not sure what course of action is on his mind, but knowing he can't ignore this. Still feeling almost drunk, he chuckles to himself. This could be fun...>>
And elsewhere VonHelszig readied himself as he entered the dark forest, knowing the foul creature would prey tonight, determined that either he or it would die, though he'd been promised that no creature of the night could withstand the blessed weapons he carried with him...
Iolaus set out through the woods, unsure what he was looking for, but sure this was the right move. He wove through mysteriously lit underbrush, following the vague feeling he had until he reached a bucolic clearing. It was pretty, especially with the full moon shining down but... //One of these days, Iolaus, you're going to have to learn not to follow *every* hunch//. There was nothing there, but he felt a strange thickness in the air that he'd felt a million times before with Herc. The feeling that Something was going to happen. //Maybe I can even save this town *before* Herc shows up. Hmph. Though with my luck it'll just be another pack of bandits wearing fright masks.// Nevertheless, Iolaus steeled himself for every oversized, tentacled thing he'd ever seen in his years with Herc and waited with a hunter's still patience. Soon he heard a rustling in the trees on the south side of the copse and turned, ready to draw his sword, ready for just about anything but completely unprepared for what emerged from the verdant foliage in front of him. It was a vision, almost familiar in form, but surpassing it. If Herc was godlike, this creature was a god of gods. Moving with sinuous ease, Iolaus' walking dream stepped out from the dark foliage, regarding him with lambent, dark eyes as shadows danced across his pale, perfect skin. Though it was difficult to drag himself away from the dangerous promise of those eyes, Iolaus raked his own gaze down the body moving slowly, surely towards him. Hard, firm muscles working smoothly with every stride, looking completely at home in this setting, his already half-aroused state obvious as he stopped inches away from the blond hunter and grinned heatedly.
"Well well well... Iolaus. Fancy meeting you here."
"I could say the same, Ares." Iolaus kept his eyes steadfastly trained on the dark god's even though the odd light in them - and that perfect physique - was proving distracting. "What are you up to? A new angle on inciting war?"
"No..." Ares almost literally purred, moving marginally closer to slide a hand down Iolaus' jawline to his chin, forcing him to look up even more deeply into those eyes. "I'm taking a break. Trying something... new."
He flicked his eyes down to the blood streaking Ares' throat and chest, wondering at the almost gleeful tone in the dark god's voice. "You mean you've switched to serial murder?" The tone was sarcastic, but Iolaus couldn't quite bring himself to pull away enough to underscore his point.
"I haven't murdered anyone."
Sounding much more confident than he felt, Iolaus countered, "Then how do you explain the tales in this town, and the blood on you now?"
Ares snorted. "Superstitious fools, an idiot vampire, and I just killed a deer. Want to see the carcass?"
"No. It wouldn't prove a thing. You're a liar and a sadist, Ares. You could easily have killed a deer and *still* be responsible for the deaths in this town." A thought - //good *gods* he's gorgeous!// - niggled insistently at the back of his mind, resisting his efforts to ignore it.
Ares chuckled deeply. "You have a point there. But... I believe I have *you*, unless my dear brother is skulking behind some tree having managed to mask his scent. No? Then it's just you and me, together on a moonlit night. Enchanting, don't you think?"
//En- did someone spike his ambrosia?// "It wasn't the first word that came to mind."
Ares pouted //pouted?!// at him, drawing a hand through his hair and pulling slightly. "What was the first word?"
Iolaus shivered slightly, surprised at how incredibly sensual Ares' small caress felt and wildly aware of just how accessible- //whoa! Down, boy. Let's remember who this is.// "Uhlm-" he cleared his throat and tried again. "First word? Weird and dangerous."
"That's two words."
"Ares." He placed his palm against the god's chest, almost surprised that no electricity sparked when he touched skin to skin, there was such an aura of feral sensuality surrounding him. "I'm standing in the woods in a near-clinch with a naked, blood-smeared god who's acting decidedly unlike himself. This *is* weird and dangerous."
"Hmmmm..." Ares used the thoughtful pause to run a hand down Iolaus' back to settle on his ass. "And does this weird danger frighten you?"
"Why don't you tell me. You're the god, after all." He bit the inside of his cheek at the slow, sultry smile Ares gave him. //You do *not* want to fuck your lover's enemy, Iolaus, damn you!//
"That's right. I am," Ares grinned, liking the way he could read mortals with these vampiric senses, so like his own but so much more... intimate and sensual. "And I don't think fear is foremost in your mind, eh?"
The hand on his ass squeezed and Iolaus felt his cock jump in response. "No!" He winced at the way his voice squeaked. "I, uh, was actually wondering who's doing your dental work these days. Trying out the Bacchae look to go along with the racing stripes?" //Oh *real* smart, Iolaus. Piss him off.//
But Ares just grinned more widely. "I think it rather suits me as a fashion statement. And I'm *much* more imaginative than the Bacchae." Suddenly he was bending down, delivering small nips to Iolaus' throat, each one delivering an electric jolt of arousal down the blond hunter's nerve endings as his hand slid from Ares' chest to snake around the god's body, pulling him closer, hands running over hard muscle and smooth hot flesh, already shockingly, achingly hard and oh gods he wanted this, moving accommodatingly as Ares worked his vest off, the biting kisses moving down to that spot on his collarbone that never failed to drive him nuts and-
"*In the name of the gods I command you to HALT, demonspawn!!*"
Still in a clinch, they looked up blinking at the source of this rude interruption. "What is *that*?" Ares muttered incredulously.
Iolaus stared at the stocky figure striding towards them, one hand carrying large bag, the other madly waving some sort of medallion. "I believe it's called a VonHelszig."
"What's he doing?"
Iolaus shrugged, settling his arm around Ares' waist and feeling quite comfortable doing so, though he was unsure exactly when he'd decided he *was* comfortable. "You got me."
Ares looked down at him with a smirk. "That's right. I do."
Iolaus glared. "Ha ha. I didn't-"
"DEMON!" VonHelszig ground to a halt a few paces in front of them, medallion thrust before him like a shield. "I command you. Let the little man go!"
"HEY!" Iolaus yelped; the man was barely taller than he was. Ares ignored him, growling, "You *what*?"
"I command you," VonHelszig repeated, waving the medallion insistently. "The force of this sigil, blessed by priests of Hades, Lord of the Undead, gives me the power."
Ares frowned, looking puzzled. "Hades isn't lord of the undead."
"He's god of the Underworld," Iolaus chimed in helpfully. "You know, eternal home of the *dead* dead."
VonHelszig stopped in midwave, nonplused. "Are you sure?"
"Absolutely." Iolaus cocked his head at Ares. "The god in question is a relative." Ares gave the man a smug look.
"But it's glowing," VonHelszig muttered. "They said it would glow in the presence of the undead..."
"Or strong moonlight," Iolaus suggested.
"Highly reflective," Ares opined.
They watched with interest as VonHelszig wavered for a moment uncertainly, then stiffened with apparent new resolve, flinging the medallion from him and digging determinedly in his bag, growling, "Very well. Then I'll have to do this the hard way." He paused in mid-dig to look up at Iolaus. "If you'll please step away, little man, so I may fulfill my grim task."
"Would you stop with the 'little man' stuff!" Iolaus glowered, having distinctly heard a muffled snicker from the god of war, and closed his eyes. //This cannot be happening. This is too ridiculous to be real. Somebody wake me up? Or just back things up to a few minutes ago?// He opened them again at VonHelszig's triumphant "HAH!", to see the man waving something new.
Ares raised an eyebrow, tone politely interested. "And what's that?"
"A wooden stake, as you well know. Now prepare to die (would you *please* step away, blondie?)!"
Ares tilted his head to one side like a curious cat. "What are you going to do with it?"
"Drive it through your corrupt heart, of course." VonHelszig was starting to sound more than a little irritable.
The eyebrow flew up again. "And then?"
"You die!" VonHelszig snapped.
"*I* die? Because you poke me with a pointed stick?"
"Are you being purposefully obtuse?" VonHelszig smacked the stake with the mallet in his other hand, looking decidedly cross. "Everyone one knows vampires are vulnerable to wood."
"I didn't know that." He turned to Iolaus. "Did you know that?"
"I didn't know that," Iolaus replied. "Are you?"
Ares thought it over. "I don't think so."
"For Zeus' sake!" VonHelszig exploded, "Didn't your Master tell you anything?!"
"My WHAT?" Ares bristled, eyes lighting dangerously. Now Iolaus stepped back half a pace.
"Your Master, you overgrown fool!"
Ares tensed, lips skinning back to show some fang. They did, Iolaus had to admit, suit him. Voice dangerously low, Ares said, "What did you call me..?"
"An ignorant, murdering, overgrown fool," VonHelszig repeated, obviously too carried away to be observant. "Foul, mindless, unsightly spawn of-"
"THAT's it!" Ares roared, batting the stake out of the man's hand as he picked him up by the throat. "You're a dead man!"
"Glrrrrfk!" VonHelszig baffed at Ares with his mallet even as his feet left the ground.
//Fanatics, you gotta love 'em// Iolaus thought as the mallet predictably followed the trajectory of the stake. Amazing, the way the moonlight highlighted every taut muscle of Ares'- //what am I *doing*?! The man may be an idiot but I can't just stand here and let Ares kill him, but how..? Well, however, I'd better make it quick.// In the absence of any better idea, Iolaus walked over and tapped the infuriated god on the shoulder.
"What?" Ares looked down at him, eyes glowing a deep, eerie red. He still held the vampire hunter easily two inches off the ground.
"I was just thinking, maybe you shouldn't kill him."
"Um, he wouldn't suffer enough?"
Ares looked thoughtful a moment then shrugged, eliciting a feeble gurgle from VonHelszig. "It'll do."
Iolaus thought fast. "But he already interrupted us. Killing him'll chew up valuable time."
"Nah, won't be long at all."
"Well I won't be able to concentrate with a corpse staring at us!"
Another shrug, this one eliciting only a faint squeak. "So I'll toss it where you won't see it."
"But I'll be *thinking* about it."
Ares gave a long, put-upon sigh and dropped VonHelszig, turning to snarl at Iolaus. "Do you *have* to be so moral?"
"Sorry." The blond hunter smiled helplessly. "It's the influence of hanging around-"
"DON'T say it." Ares raked his hands through his hair then glared. "Fine. I won't kill him. Just *wait here*." Grabbing the gasping vampire hunter by the scruff of his tunic, he disappeared in a truculent flash.
Against all better judgement, Iolaus waited, wondering idly if hanging around Herc would ever teach him how to ignore his hormones. //Probably not...//
Shortly another flash signalled Ares' reappearance, without VonHelszig. "Now where were we?" he growled as he reached for Iolaus.
"Hold on. Where is he?"
Projecting hurt unconvincingly, Ares stopped. "I said I wouldn't kill him. What, you don't trust me?"
"Just tell me what you did with him." Iolaus ran his hand down a muscled arm, purring, "So I can concentrate."
Ares rolled his eyes, but flexed slightly under the hunter's touch. "Hades owed me one, so I took him to the Underworld - *alive* - so he can learn the difference between underworld and undead. Hades'll let him out eventually."
"You..?" Iolaus started to snicker, then stopped himself. Ares blinked innocently at him. "Ah, that was... very humane. For you."
Ares grunted noncommitally, not looking terribly pleased at the thought."Then start concentrating." He pulled Iolaus to him, removing the blond's clothing with a thought, suddenly overwhelmed by the sound of the mortal heart pumping, of blood rushing under mortal skin. Descending on his throat again as though no interruption had taken place, he murmured, "I'm
The words were so soft Iolaus couldn't make them out, and then he was swept away on a tide of increasing arousal as teeth, tongue and hands unerringly searched out every erogenous zonelet he had (including several he hadn't been aware of) in a circuitous route that as yet bypassed the center of him.
Nerves singing heat and electric fire he could only react under the feral passion of the dark god, and the raw, sensual aggression thrilled him as he gave himself over to it, fingers tangling in the dark curls, raking hot, pliant flesh that moved around him, with him, with feline grace, mingling pain and pleasure in ways his own body had never imagined, much less experienced, and then after ecstatic eternity, Ares' mouth on his cock, teasing first, tongue circling the head to probe at the sensitive spot just below the glans, making him groan, then taking him in all the way, tongue working the underside of his shaft as exquisite heat enveloped him...
Ares groaned low in his throat, drawing an answering groan from Iolaus, torturing himself by drawing it out, the passion and bloodsmell pouring off the blond hunter overwhelming, singing through his body, making him want more, want to tear it out with teeth and claws but he waited as his prey grew ever more frenzied, until the telltale tightening that signalled release then sunk fangs deep into blood-engorged vein, drinking in lifeblood and life as his hunter shrieked pain and ecstasy to the sky.
Blinking in the early morning sunlight that had taken the vampiric essence as it rose, Ares gave his leather pants a minute adjustment and glanced back at the sleeping blond with a slight smirk. //Ah, brother, if you had any idea...// As an afterthought, he rematerialized Iolaus' clothes, neatly folded in a pile on the other side of the clearing, then disappeared in a flash of light. //I gotta do that again sometime...