Part 1 : A Parable of Verbal Caution
Ares slipped off the last of the soiled garments and eased gingerly into the steaming tub. It wasn't that he strictly needed to bathe in order to remove the grime of the day, no, for now it just felt wonderful, soaking away the frustrations and misguided events that continued to replay over and over in his head. And that fall had strictly been a complete screwup. Why he hadn't reacted in time to simply dematerialize attested to the stress of a battle gone horribly wrong. He eased back in the tub, letting the hot water relieve the tense muscles, trying to erase the day, piece by piece.
A warm tingle in the air gave advance warning of the arrival of one of the family, the fragrance of lilac and drift of pink sparkle making the arrivee known. Ares watched as Aphrodite materialized. "Hi, bro, have a bad day?" She leaned in her own uniquely provocative manner against the edge of the tub, making him wince in response. He was loathe to give up this complete comfort for her company, even if at times she could be quite......entertaining, now was not the time.
"Aphrodite, is there some particular reason you chose to plague me with a visit right now?" He shifted slightly in the tub and winced again as overtight muscles responded to the renewal of tension. With a slight frown on her pretty face she leaned over and kissed him lightly on the forehead. Pulling back she whispered in his ear, "Did you get hurt today, Are? Dite can make it better, you know that."
His glare changed to an expression that was as close to affection as the God of War could manage. He gently stroked the side of her soft face. "I'm all right, just made a stupid mistake and misjudged a hill." There were very few that knew that it was possible for the God of War to be hurt. He very much intended that it stay that way. Aphrodite certainly knew and had at times been very much the consoler and cure all for what ailed him. Perhaps he had been a bit too swift in his desire to rid himself of her presence right now.
She leaned back a bit, studying her brother carefully. He really was quite beautiful, and if you caught him in a good mood (however rare, they did occur) he was quite a ride. But right now, she could see that a more moderate approach was in order. Livid bruising was visible across his shoulder and over his ribs. As much as he was downplaying his hurts, the bruises told another story. She moved to the end of the tub, standing directly behind his head. She gently placed her hands on both shoulder blades and began a slow massage across his upper back and neck. "Ah, now that is wonderful, keep that up and I might start feeling.......ummmm....."
Aphrodite smiled softly to herself. Men were just so easy sometimes. Continuing her ministrations a thought occurred. "Ares, I know that war and fighting can get awfully, well chaotic, and I could understand if someone put a sword through you, or you got kicked by a horse or a flaming arrow caught your hair on fire or...."
Ares leaned back cutting off her sentence and massage with the sudden movement and sharp words. "I get your point, all right, all ready!"
"Well, you going to tell me what happened or what?" She was standing with her small hands on her hips, a quizzical expression on her face.
He was back to wearing the tense, pained expression he had had when she first popped in. Sighing deeply, he reached for the towel beside the tub, deciding the chance for relaxing water therapy had long since vanished. Leaving the tub and toweling off, he walked back into his private chambers, followed closely by the Goddess of Love (but not so closely that her view was obscured).
As Ares made his way towards his private chambers, Aphrodite followed entranced by the rhythm of Ares' body as he walked.
"You know one thing I've always appreciated about you bro, no matter how rock hard that body gets, you're considerate enough to leave that sweet tush so soft and round, just so's a girl has a good place to throw her anchor."
Dite's remarks had one quick response. With a wave of his hand Ares clothed himself from the waist down in his typical attire of form fitting black leather pants. One look over his shoulder silenced any further comments she had been preparing causing her mouth to snap shut. Ares could glare with the best of them and he took this opportunity to prove it. As vain as he was, (something he didn't even care to deny) he remained uncomfortable with what he considered the one great shortcoming of this body. God or no God no matter how much he tried, he had never been able to do anything about that darn fleshy ass of his. Regardless of whether or not Aphrodite intended that as a compliment, he was still bothered by it and preferred the conversation on that subject to cease right there.
Slowing down his pace, he stepped through the threshold into his private chambers, from Aphrodite's viewpoint, a decorator's nightmare with its color scheme of red and black. He stopped at a cupboard close by his bed and laid down the wet towel across the top. As expected, an ornate box was placed there on the top. With the box in hand he moved over to sit on the edge of his bed. He thought he had successfully masked the grimace of pain the movement produced, but Aphrodite caught the small flicker crossing his face. She moved to sit beside him and leaned over to brush her soft lips against the bruises and scrapes on his shoulder.
"You know babe, Dite can kiss it and make it better," Aphrodite purred softly.
"You know that as much as I appreciate your many.........talents, not now! I am really, and I mean, really, not in the mood." He gently extricated her hands and mouth from his body and opened the small case to reveal a series of small containers, filled with various ointments and lotions prescribed by Asclepius himself. The priests in Ares' temple were well versed in the moods and needs of their God and from the first bellow of anger and pain upon his return, had provided the soon to be needed container. Having done this they did what any human with a modicum of intelligence would do, made themselves scarce. Being near the God of War while he was in a 'mood' was not a healthy place to be.
"If you really want to help, gimme a hand with the ones on my back that I can't reach." He handed her a jar of an herbal scented lotion. While not an instant cure by any means, it would help take out the sting of the day and speed the healing process. Wounds garnered on the battlefield could not be healed by his or any other Godly power, one of the little blessings to being the God of War, forcing him to this old fashioned approach to soothing his hurts.
With a small degree of trepidation Aphrodite took the jar from his hand. Kissing it better was one thing, actually attempting medical assistance was another and not something she was very comfortable with. It wasn't that she didn't care, she cared for Ares very much. Anyone looking at the two of them would have a hard time realizing that, but their's was the relationship of light and dark, two opposites drawn together. And there were times she suspected, if she didn't care no one would and being the Goddess of Love this was more than she could stand. Besides, he really was a spectacular lover, capable of sending her to heights of passion the like of which remained unmatched by either mortal or immortal. What had always kept their relationship from being anything more than this occasional thrill, apart from her bond with Hephaestus, was the sheer complicated nature of the volatile God of War. It really was wearing on the nerves, this continual blowing hot and cold, his violent shifts from overwhelming joy to the depths of despair. Smiling at the back of his head as she gently massaged in the lotion, she mused to herself as to how he believed himself capable of hiding his emotions when she could read him so well.
Without stopping her ministrations she leaned in to place a gentle kiss at the nape of his neck, blowing the curling strands of dark hair with her exhalation of breath. A deep sigh was her only response.
Pulling back slightly, she frowned at him. "Ares, when are you going to spill! What in the name of Uncle Hades happened to put you in a mood blacker that your sheets and like, totally make your bod so, you know, technicolor?"
With a deeply inhaled breath, he sighed again. He stopped his own ministrations and put down the ruby colored ointment jar, the treatment only partially completed. Half turning to face her he slowly shook his head.
"I don't know if I can. A bigger mess than what went on today hasn't been seen in several millennium."
Aphrodite slipped off the bed to kneel at his feet. "If you don't tell me, I swear, I may have to tickle your feet! You know how you hate that!" She smiled up at him with a delicious twinkle in her blue eyes, and rested her chin against his knee.
He smiled back in spite of himself. If she didn't have such a voluptuous bosom spilling out of that flimsy garment, he could almost think her a little girl. Cocking his head at her he felt the smile slip a bit, remembering the day. "All right, but I promise you, it's not one of Cupid's fairy stories, there isn't a happy ending."
Looking across the room at something that only he could see, he began the tale of the day from the depths of Tartarus.
"I planned this skirmish down to the finest most infinitesimal detail. This was just one little skirmish in what promises to be major campaign before the end of this year. Or at least it did. I hand picked my key men, carefully chose the time of day, year, season to meet the enemy. Everything was perfect, so perfect. That should have been a warning sign. There's no such thing as perfection." Ares abruptly stood, knocking Aphrodite on to her bottom.
"Hey!" She got up from the floor arranging her dignity and perched on the edge of the bed, realizing that Ares was now wrapped up in the events playing out in his head. She listened to his words, curiosity winning out over wounded pride.
Pacing now, the flow of words began to pick up speed. "I spent 6 months, looking for two good men to lead the troops. A general and a lieutenant. I mean after all, just two good men are all that's needed." Under her breath Aphrodite murmured, "Ain't it the truth."
He either didn't hear her or chose to ignore the remark and plowed on with his tale. "I had a contingent of 150 men in that valley, 50 of the best warhorses, wagons loaded with weapons, a encampment of the finest soldiers that could be found."
Pulling her legs up, she propped her chin on her knees. "So, it was all so perfect, what happened?"
His emotional pacing made the curls which brushed his shoulders bounce lightly. He paid them no mind and shook his head lightly. "We were ready, the tents were pitched, the horses corralled, the men drilled on the formations....and then...." he turned abruptly and stared at her, frowning a bit.
"What!" She frowned back.
Aphrodite cringed a bit under that almost accusing look. But just as abruptly as he had stopped pacing he started again, apparently dismissing whatever thought that had been in his mind.
He began to speak again. "The sun was rising, the day was beautifully clear. Perfect for war, blood, severed limbs, ah, it was to be so glorious!" Caught up, he failed to notice the face Dite pulled.
"I went looking for my two officers, there was still strategy to run through, formations, troop positions to be sure of." The pacing increased. Aphrodite glanced down at the poor abused floor. Much more of this and new marbling would be in order.
"Neither of them were anywhere to be found, I checked the troops, the corral. I finally found Parthias, hiding behind a shrub, terrified, actually weeping, like some damned mortal brat!"
Aprhodite kept still and quiet, sensing that to interrupt now could be quite unpleasant, especially after taking in Ares' dark expression.
"I dragged the little weasel out and after a little....." he stopped pacing, a small smile crossing his face, rapidly fading back to the scowl, "coaxing, I found out why he was hiding."
He stopped pacing again to once more turn and scowl at her. "I swear, Ares, if you don't stop doing that...." She didn't get a chance to finish her threat as he once again started the merciless march back and forth.
"He had a good reason to hide. You see, he knew where my general was. My great, clever, hand picked general!" Now he was angry, not just upset, but angry, very angry. "My wonderfully clever general was in the small tent between the corral and the latrine. I think he figured the smell would keep everyone away."
"WHAT!" Aphrodite was feeling the stress of all this suspense.
"Yup, there he was, flat on his back, getting his lily white ass fucked royally by the general from the other army!" The ceiling shook with his rage and stopped pacing long enough to ram a fist through a perfectly innocent statue of his father. He had been wanting to do that for a long time anyway. He hated that thing, Zeus had insisted he keep it in his bedroom as a constant reminder of his familial affection.
In spite of whatever should have resembled good judgment, Aphrodite began to giggle, then cut it off when he spun around to stare at her.
Clearing her throat, she ventured a question. "That still doesn't explain what happened to you?"
He looked away, but not before she glimpsed something which looked remarkably like embarrassment on his face. Sighing again he faced her once more. "Dite, that was just the beginning."
"So, get on with it already!" Aphrodite was on the verge of pulling the words out of his mouth physically if he didn't start giving more details soon. One good thing was that he seemed to have run out of steam at the moment. He settled himself in a chair against the wall and cast her one sidelong glance before gathering his breath to begin again.
"Well, I have to admit, I was a bit shocked, and you know, as long as I've been around, that's hard to do. Of everything I expected to find today, this was most definitely not on the list. And those horny bastards didn't even realize I was there. Is was kind of creepy, they way they were banging each other you'd have thought they'd be moaning and groaning their fool heads off, but they were dead silent, for a minute I thought I'd gone deaf. If it had been me in that little dance they would've heard the soundtrack in the next valley! Dammit if the enemy army fights as well as they fuck...." He shrugged and looked at Dite's amused face. "Anyway, I, uh, sorta cleared my throat to get their attention. There's a certain pleasure after all, having my victims see where the killing blow is coming from, the terror in their faces so satisfying."
He shifted around in the chair. It was made from intricately carved wood and was not the most comfortable of seats for someone with as many boo-boos as Ares had at the moment. But he held his ground and continued. "I think in this case, I should have just blown them to bits inflagrante. The moment I cleared my throat, General Hycatia whirled around and when he did that he pulled free and he fell off the cot, just as I was getting wound up to flame his sorry ass. Of all the nerve! Bonking MY general......" Ares leaned forward in the chair, wringing his hands together.
"He fell so quickly, I didn't have time to redirect my blast. It flew right over loverboy and smacked the side of the tent. Of course, fabric burns, burns darn well. So does, straw and wood. Then the pair of them started screaming and running around in their birthday suits, trying to get out before I zapped another bolt at them or they were turned into toast in the tent. Of course, the tent didn't hold up well and began to collapse, about the same time that those two freakin' idiots charged right through me for lack of another doorway. I hit the ground and rolled to stay well away from the tent, which fortunately wasn't collapsing my direction. Oh no, no it fell against the corral, which startled the horses and when the lot of them surged in panic the corral didn't last long. I thought to myself, it's a good thing that at least half have been deployed to the troops already in position, that should keep this mess from getting any worse. Silly me. Because by now the corral was in full flame as well, along with the two tents closest to it and, of course, the wagon full of weapons, which, thoughtfully had been hitched up to two of the horses. I managed to avoid being trampled when I rolled over to the edge of the hillock we were camped on. The main body of troops were already positioned in the valley, awaiting orders. We had agreed to keep the reinforcements and supplies above in the relative safety of the higher ground. I mean the view is perfect to watch for troop movement. It's so wonderfully defensible, it's just not a good place to be during a stampede!"Without looking up, he took a deep breath and plowed on. "I think it was about then that I looked up in time to see my magnificent war-horses, crazy out of their minds heading towards the edge, and in pursuit several dozen panicked soldiers. A couple of the horses slammed into me as they whipped by and I started to lose my balance. I could feel myself losing ground so I scrambled to grab a sapling near the edge, at about the same time the weaponry wagon came screeching through the encampment, now in full flame. Oh, did I mention the flames had spread, courtesy of the horses and wagon. Yeah, I think pretty much every tent was blazing away. Men were screaming and running in terror, a couple I can't identify at the moment, but I'm working on it, almost dislodged me from what I thought was my safe place. They didn't manage it but the wagon did, when it slammed into the little tree and sent it over the edge. I really should have let go, I should have dematerialized, I think it was shock, just plain shock. I went, head first, and I'm pretty sure I must have held my arm against my face for protection, judging from the wonderful pattern of colors there now. I must have plowed through good deal of bramble and loose stone. Fortunately, the muddy, dried up pond at the bottom cushioned my landing. Otherwise the ass you seem so inordinately fond of would be spectacularly multi colored now as well."
Still looking down, refusing to meet her eyes, he went on. "When it finally set in as to what had just happened, I rolled over and tried to assess the damage. I could feel the bruises starting and the cuts and scrapes making themselves known. Add to that the lovely effect of drying mud and muck. It was about then I realized I wasn't quite alone. And then I looked up. What troops that remained were standing there, staring down at me, including two gloriously naked generals. I have never been so humiliated in all my life. I just couldn't take the shame, I winked out and returned to my temple. I swear, as Zeus is my witness, I'm going to kill them! All that work, all the planning, gone. Fucked up in every way possible."
Aphrodite knew little of war and liked it that way, but she tried to soothe Ares anyway. "Oh, Are, it was just one little mess up, you might still be able to win the war!"
"HA!", Ares looked at her in dismay, "the only way we could win this is if the enemy laughed itself to death! Why, why did Brunditicus do it!! There wasn't the slightest clue that he, that they, oh, I can't even say it."
"Brunditicus?" Aphrodite frowned a bit. Now where had she heard that name? It wasn't exactly common. OH, now she remembered, and on remembering stared guiltily at Ares. And she knew that he now knew. The spirit of love hadn't moved on its own, it had been shoved.
His face blank, his voice deceptively soft he spoke. "Aphrodite, what did you do. And, I really would suggest you give me an honest answer."
Ares like this was a thousand times more frightening than when he was angry. It reminded Dite of the way a spider crept up on its prey, silent and deadly. "Now, Ares, I didn't do anything, not really, I mean, he did petition me, but..." Ares' raised hand forestalled any further comment.
"It remains, if you didn't do it then your interfering twit of a son did." His expression turned dark.
"Hey, he's your son too, in case you'd forgotten!"
"Don't try to change the subject!" He rose from the chair fighting to hang on to the edge of control. "This is really is too much, betrayed by own family!"
Dite sat as still as she could, contrary to what her feelings told her she should be doing, which was running. "Ares, dear, now don't go taking this so personally, I mean, he came to my temple and petitioned me, sure. I had to listen, it's required that I listen, you know that. "
"BUT WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO THIS?" His bellow made her cringe and he moved a couple of steps closer, his resolve to control his anger crumbling.
"I TOLD you. I didn't do anything! I mean, he was so sad, so much in love and so afraid of losing his beloved. He cried, what was I supposed to do? I didn't know you were involved at all. How was I supposed to know. He didn't say who his sweetie was!" Dite stood and tried to assume a look of assured resolve. She just wished that Ares would look like he was breathing instead of the frozen tableau of hurt and anger in front of her. "Okay, so I may be responsible in a way, I did sent Cupid to help him, but, Ares, they were already in love, they just needed help!"
Ares threw back his head and let go a howl that loosened a bit of the plaster. "LOVE!" This time he closed the gap between them. "Love, that's the single most useless thing in the universe." He leaned down, facing her, practically nose to nose. "Aphrodite, because of you and your cursed love, I've had an entire war ruined. I know thinking is beyond you, but couldn't you have used a bit more......oh what's the use! What could you possibly know about planning, and work and the labor of doing a good job. All you have to do is run around, all wispy and breathy, plaguing everyone with the mind destroying LOVE!" He placed his hands on her shoulders and shoved her back to sit once again on the bed. He closed his eyes, shook his head and started to turn away, the hurts and anger combining to fill him with a terribly deflating fatigue. But that last sentence was too much for the not so delicate Goddess of Love.
"Now you just wait one minute Mister Big, Bad and Blustery!! That was totally uncalled for. I have a job to do, just like you! You think you're the only one who has a job to do? I have just as much thinking and planning and strategy to plot as you do for any of those foolish, bloody, wars you drop in mortal laps. AND, you can always make another war, what difference does it make! At least I can make them happy!"
"Happy, oh yes of course, all those lovesick idiots flinging themselves off of cliffs and mooning after their brother's wives and getting themselves stabbed to death and......"
"Just stop it! Okay so sometimes it doesn't always work out. Do all your wars come out the way you plan?"
In response he gave her a glare that spoke volumes. "Okay, so, maybe that's not a good question right now, but my point is that love is important and for you to just blow it off as a big zero is bogus! I could just as easy say the same thing about your precious war!"
A wave of his hand covered his torso with a loose fitting black shirt with billowing sleeves. The effect was intended and while she couldn't help but react, Aphrodite refused to rise to the bait. He smiled, an eerie sort of smile, reminding her again of a spider. "You see, that's my point, that's all anyone needs. L..U..S..T. That's all, just lust. You're attracted, get naked, do what feels good, and move on! You don't need that crap filling up your head, making you do stupid things, like buying flowers and selling your prize bull to buy jewelry for some brain dead village idiot that doesn't know the difference between a cow pat and a sapphire. It ruins lives and who needs it? War on the other hand is a force that requires a great deal of thought. Done right there can be little to equal it. Man is warlike, yes, but do they no what to do with all that wound up hostility? What I do is IMPORTANT. You know, not that I think of it, the mindless slaughter that men would perpetuate without me is a lot like love, pretty useless."
"The world needs love, Ares. It's more than a mindless bang in a dark alley. Music, poetry, all the things that make life tolerable rely on it, even your precious war! I really would like to see what you would do if all that there was was lust, just cold, uncommitting lust. It would be a barren, miserable little dustball of a place. And you know something, lust doesn't last."
"And love does, huh?" Ares barked a short laugh. "Please! A more mindless state of existence there could NOT possibly be. And then Zeus has the gall to try and make it something worth the time of the Gods! Of course, then he gave the job to you, I mean he really had no idea!"
"I'm going to tell you something, mister, one of these days, you're going to need my help and you know what? Bite me!" She stood and this time is was Aphrodite that closed the gap between them. With one small hand she gave him a smack on the chest, enough force behind the blow to shove him back into a sitting position on the bed. She might appear to be a delicate flower, but she was still a Goddess and one of the twelve. Aphrodite had power, nothing on the scale of Ares but still it was enough to get his full attention. He smiled in spite of himself. This was really too funny, the thought that he would need her godly assistance. He shook his head at her, the amusement
only serving to further irritate the Goddess of Love.
"Now what in the name of Tartarus is so funny?" Her voice was steadily rising, finding her anger fueled by his attitude to her appointed profession. "You think you'd never need my help, huh! What happens one day when the famous Willy of War refuses to rise to the occasion, hum, what then? Tell me, what are you going to do then when your lust decides to lay down, when the leather doesn't do it for the chicks anymore, when your Sword of Power just fizzles! Hum, what then smart guy? "
"That.....will NEVER happen, I mean, after all, just look at me." A flourish of his hand inviting closer inspection. "I am, after all, simply irresistible."
Aphrodite put her hands on her hips and actually laughed. "Is that a fact? Irresistible are you? And this from a leatherboy that wants to live in a world spinning on the power of lust and war and not love. Well baby, you REALLY want to be careful what you say, cause Dite has quite a memory!" With a quick movement of her right hand, she disappeared in a sprinkle of rose colored hearts.
Her departure was so abrupt, it actually startled Ares. That was not like her, to just leave in the middle of an argument. They had had enough of them over the many years, he knew what to expect. And for some reason he couldn't quite name, Aphrodite's exit, stage straight up, left him very edgy indeed, the hair on the back of his neck bristling. He quickly crossed to take a survey in the full length mirror. Well, he still looked normal, no feathers or stripes. Still, there remained that sense of foreboding. Aphrodite did share at least one of Ares' attributes, she was very good at revenge.
He walked back over to the bed and sat down on the edge, weariness seeping into every bone. Maybe a nap, that might help, just a short nap and then when he woke up, everything would have been just a horrible dream. He scooted back onto the bed and stretched out to rest his head against the soft pillow. No sooner had he closed his eyes, he felt a strange almost electrical tingle shiver its way through his body. Stress, just stress, he told himself. Even a God of War is entitled to stress. A little nap, that's all he needed, just a little nap.
The first rays of the morning sun passing across his face woke Ares. Lying there, eyes closed, stretching, he realized that he had had a deal more than a nap. Perhaps that was why he was feeling so much better, really good. Wait, not just good, GREAT. Not just great, really turned on! Maybe he had had a wet dream, he certainly felt wet enough. And the room felt a bit drafty as well. But wait, wet dreams didn't have teeth, did they? He opened his eyes.
"What the bloody hell???" He tried to scoot back but his groin was anchored by a persuasive hand and his precious parcel had been freed from his trousers, an eager mouth nibbling the length of his cock. The mouth pulled free as its owner raised up, revealing the face that belonged to the enthusiastic tongue and teeth. Although the clothing ensemble should have given him away immediately, Ares hadn't realized until that moment who was presuming to pilfer with his particulars without his permission.
"Morning, Ares. How's it hanging, Unc?" Strife giggled at his own unintended humor. Undaunted by the expression on Ares' face, he made to return to his ministrations. A hand in his unruly curls caused a change of course.
"Strife, what....are.....you......doing?" Ares felt a bit breathless in spite of himself. This was just too ridiculous.
Strife smiled up at his uncle. "Why, uncle, how could you possibly ask that, surely you know by now what I'm doing." He tried to pull free to return to his appointed task but Ares held him firm.
"I know WHAT you're doing, I don't know why. When did you develop a deathwish?" Strife pulled back from Ares' grip so quickly he left behind a chunk of hair behind in the strong hand of the God of War.
Seemingly unaware of the damaged follicles Strife slid back down between Ares' legs, intent on the prime beef before his eyes. "Why, uncle, how could anyone resist this?" His mouth fastened on Ares' cock once more, not just sucking, and licking but once again nibbling.
"Ahhhh, stop it! Put that back where you found it. Ohhh, stop! That's not a chew toy!" Ares could feel his control slipping. Damn, he wasn't in the mood, he didn't want this, not here, not with Strife, but Strife was oblivious. "Uhmm, ahh, stop, Strife, I'm warning you!" Strife nibbled harder.
"Aahhh!" Ares had had just about enough of being the main course in the buffet line. He pulled back his hand, dropped the tattered bits of Strife's hair and loosed a bolt of energy at the extremely enthusiastic godling. It had the predicted impact; Strife tumbled from the bed and slammed against the wall. Relieved to be freed from that eager mouth, Ares hurriedly stuffed himself back into his trousers and hastily refastened the closure. He looked up to see Strife crawling across the floor, making his way back to the bed, a crazed look in his eye.
"Oh, Uncle Ares, I just love it when you're forceful!"
Ares quickly slid off the other side of the bed. "That's it, this stops right now!" Strife had reached the bed and was crawling across, looking for all the world like a hungry panther. Ares had no choice but to zap him again, hitting him with a burst of energy that sent him reeling into the wall again, but this time he stayed there. Smiling.
Smiling? Ares frowned, this was wrong, really wrong. Strife lived on the fringe of anything that could be considered normal, but this was so far off the beaten path as to be in the next realm. Not waiting for Strife to recover and begin to prowl all over again, Ares dematerialized, to reappear in his Thracian temple. He took a moment to pull himself together, changing the billowy shirt for his more usual sleeveless jerkin and summoning his sword and scabbard. He was still a bit....stimulated, but with a little concentration, that would soon pass.
His bruises and scrapes had ceased to cause him so much distress, the salves of Asclepius working their small miracles, even though he had failed to fully treat his injuries. He must remember to keep Asclepius in very good health indeed. He ran his hands through his mane of black curls, smoothing his hair into its usual pattern. Inhaling deeply, he made his way to his throne, preparing to start the day's activities, and contemplating the awful punishment to befall his traitorous general. Sitting in his usual graceful fashion, he once more considered the peculiar behavior of his nephew. Oh well, maybe is was a bit of bad ambrosia.
The temple door leading to the priests'quarters opened and his head priest entered the throne room. There were the usual matters to be looked to, the altar to be cleaned (blood sacrifices could be so messy), the candles lit, the scrolls and petitions to be gathered for reading, supplicants to be greeted and screened, for only the most worthy would be allowed entry into the presence of the mighty God of War. The old man had been in the service of Ares for most of his life, but today, he seemed particularly happy to see his God.
His priest had stopped moving, and was now standing a few feet from Ares' throne, staring at him. "Clavius, is there something on your mind?" Ares questioned the old priest carefully as the old man was not just staring but was now smiling, beatifically.
"My Lord Ares, you look so....so....magnificent today. I, I....I am having......feelings, my Lord." Clavius took two steps forward. Ares shifted to a more alert position in his throne. This couldn't be good.
"Clavius, do I want to know what kind of feelings?" Ares felt a strange dread.
"I'm not sure, Lord Ares, I.....I.....I want, I need to......I haven't felt anything like this in decades. My Lord, I must touch you!"
"Like hell you must!" Ares was off his throne as the priest advanced.
"But my Lord, I can't resist. I have to, please."
Having the advantage of a more able body was all they kept Ares from the clutches of his trusted priest, who had missed in his grab at the fleeing God of War and was now on the floor. Crawling on his knees the old man pleaded, "Please, my Lord, I must touch you. Please, just one touch."
"That's it, that's it, I'm outta here!" Ares popped out of view of the now weeping priest.
Ares cautiously reappeared in what he hoped would be a safe haven of sanity. He had always been able to rely on Xena for a healthy dose of reality check.
Ares looked around. He had materialized in a forest clearing, near a shimmering lake. If had been in the mood to do so, he would have noted the serenity and beauty of the surroundings. But he was not in the mood and becoming less so by the moment. Had his godly senses failed him? His lovely warrior princess was nowhere to be seen, not even a sign of her annoying sidekick. He turned his senses outward again and yes, she should be here, somewhere. Encouraged he walked in the direction he felt the most likely to find his objective, for right now her antagonism and obstinance would be a welcome break from the maniacal behavior he had just left behind.
He had only walked a few steps when he was literally bowled into and over, sprawling indelicately backwards into the bed of pine needles sprinkled liberally over the ground. The thought that this was really starting to get tiresome was coupled with the realization that he was having trouble breathing. This was easily explained by the large man equally sprawled atop him. Ares started a bit at the face looking back with an expression probably as shocked as his own. The face wore no beard but otherwise was virtually a copy of his own. This would require some investigation for he was quite certain he was not being squashed by an Olympian but a mere mortal. A mere mortal who had yet to speak, and continued to lie sprawled across the God of War, looking very contented in a sullen kind of way.
"Excuse me, do you mind?" Ares tried the delicate approach. After the fright he had given the two generals yesterday, he decided on a touch of caution. "Could you possibly get off!"
The nameless soul smiled brightly. "Oh, I'd like that very much, thank you!"
Ares' eyes widened and he shoved his twin off and made to get up. A grab at his legs shoved him back down again. "Who in Tartarus do you think you are? Don't you know who I am? I could kill you!"
"Oh, my, forgive me, I should have introduced myself. I am Iphicles, King of Corinth. And I have to ask, where do you have your boots made? The workmanship is incredible. Is that Corinthian leather?"
"No, it's Olympian, and I would strongly suggest you let go and tell me where Xena is. I know she's here somewhere." Iphicles had him firmly by the ankles. If Ares hadn't been so curious as to the origins of his twin, he would have fried him on the spot. He continued to try to extricate himself from the strength of the grip. One more firm pull back gained his freedom but lost his boot.
"Oh, let's not bother Xena right now." Iphicles sat quietly a very fuzzy expression on his face, lost boot of the God of War clutched in his hands as he stared lustfully at the Prince of Olympus. "My, what big feet you have!"
Ares almost screamed, but the scream turned into a growl. "Give me my damn boot!" He snatched at the boot and Iphicles snatched back. Both were successful, for now Ares had his boot and Iphicles had the God of War's bare foot.
"Sweet digits of delight!" Iphicles shrieked and went to work.
Ares could not remember when someone had last tried this. He had hated it then and he hated it now. Anyone messing with his feet was making a very bad error in judgment. At the same time though, he was impressed. How Iphicles had gotten all five of Ares' toes into his mouth at the same time was astounding.
As he sat there kicking at the hapless King of Corinth, the little light came on in the tunnel of reason. In impotent fury he howled at the heavens above, "APHRODITE! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?" He redoubled his efforts at winning freedom.
One more well-placed kick with his booted foot dislodged the orally talented King and propelled him back into a towering oak with enough force to knock him cold. Hastily rubbing his foot against the velvety grass to remove the excessive saliva, Ares replaced his boot and turned around to leave the glade. Whatever Aphrodite had done had to be undone, NOW! So preoccupied was he with the recent events he hadn't noticed the new occupant in the clearing and being so preoccupied it was now his turn to plow into and over someone. He looked down to realize he was draped in a most ungainly fashion over Xena. He froze. She should have been angry. She should have been
cursing him to the heavens themselves. That mindless, fuzzy, grinning expression that was becoming so familiar to him now graced her beautiful features. Since she had yet to speak, he took the first move.
"Uhm, Xena, you all right? I should get up." Ares' attempt to shift off was aborted by the fierce grasp of two not so delicate female hands grasping his ass.
"You aren't going anywhere! If Iphicles can have some fun for a change, so can I! Give it over, love buns!" With a quick movement, Xena reversed their positions, with Ares now flat on his back and she straddling his thighs. "I never realized what a lovely package you have!" One hand had worked its way into his trousers, intent on freeing the object of her lust. "Come out, come out."
Ares frowned, opened his mouth, closed it again, and pondered. Now, this could be okay. I mean, he had always wanted Xena, and she has always declined. Even if this was the result of one of Aphrodite's little spasms of vengeance, he could make this work out to his advantage. Encouraging her, he smiled his most winning smile. "Xena, my dear, I knew you would eventually give in."
"Pfaw, give in nothing! All I want from you, Ares is right here between your legs. I'm only doing this for the nookie. Now give! " His cock was now fully freed, Xena stroking in a less than gentle manner. "Come on! Get it up already! I haven't got all day! Hercules and Iolaus are coming back to meet up with Iphicles in a little while. So hurry up. Up, up, come on!"
Ares froze again. This time it was a total freeze. Try as hard as he might, he couldn't get it up. And into this realization came the unwanted knowledge that more than anything, he needed Xena to care. He needed her to want more than just his body. He looked at the now semi-naked warrior princess above him, her hand at the heart of his sexuality and he knew he couldn't do it. His godhood laid there, oblivious to the tortured fondling of his former favorite, for all intents and purposes dead to the world. Into his horror a second female voice piped up.
"Xena, don't tell me you broke it already. I didn't even get a chance to play!" Gabrielle walked over and knelt down beside Ares who could only stare back in complete dejected embarrassment.
Part 7: Conclusion
Looking at Xena and her laborious attempts to get a rise out of Ares, Gabrielle decided it was time to assist. After all, she wanted to play too. Positioning herself so that she was sitting on Ares chest and facing Xena, she leaned forward blissfully unconcerned as to the view being presented to the beleaguered God of War. She slipped a hand beneath his not so proud cock and grabbed his balls firmly.
"Come on, rise and shine, little fella. Get out of my way, Xena, I need to warm this poor little Wiener of War on my pyre of passion." Both Xena and Ares stared at Gabrielle who had completely forgotten the finer points of prose and poetry in her lusty pursuit and had wandered into the wonderful world of graffiti. Paying neither of them any attention, Gabrielle picked up where Xena left off. Applying her own version of resuscitation, she fastened her mouth around his cock and bit sharply.
"YOW!" Rousing his strength Ares ousted the pair of lust crazed women and scrambled over to the nearest tree, trying to replace, for the second time that day, his abused member. "Why is everyone trying to devour me??? Didn't anyone ever tell you, NO TEETH? That bloody hurts!" He looked down to secure the fastenings and that was his mistake as he was once more tackled, but the weight was highly disproportionate to that of the two females he had been tussling with. Oh Gods, Iphicles was now conscious and had once more joined the fray.
Ares thought to himself, 'This couldn't possibly get any worse', but unbeknownst to him, it was about to get considerably worse.
At the edge of the glade, watching with equally schmoozy expressions stood Iolaus and Hercules, having arrived to visit with Iphicles whilst the King was on hiatus. But it seemed that Iphicles had started having fun without them. And as for their two old friends, Xena and Gabrielle, it was difficult at the moment to figure where one ended and the other began. Iolaus spoke up. "Hey, Herc, I don't remember Ares being so, uhm .....", he paused, at a loss for words.
"Scrumptious, luscious, gorgeous, exquisite, adorable, ravishing, pulchritudinous, fuckable?" Hercules offered several likely adjectives.
"Yeah, that's the one, fuckable!" He started at the sudden appearance of a golden, cuff style bracelet in his right hand. "You see this? I'm pretty sure I didn't have it a moment ago." Iolaus held it up for Hercules to examine.
Hercules smiled brightly. "If that's what I think it is, somebody has just made sure that we can have some fun, too. I'll explain, but we gotta hurry and get over there before my darling brother cops out. Come on!" They sped across to the struggle playing out on the forest floor.
With Gabrielle's skirt in his face, Ares had no clue as to the additional grief descending his way until Gabrielle was pushed from her seat and an additional weight pinned him to the ground. His vision now cleared, Ares groaned at the sight before him. This was turning into a Greek tragedy! He could see the tell-tale blond hair of Hercules' buddy, but he couldn't see where the rest of him had gotten to for blocking his view was the heroic demi-god himself, Hercules. To top it off his despised half-brother was smiling down at him in the same disgustingly, idiotic fashion as the rest of these besotted fools had been doing all day. His brain had yet to fully digest this when in one swift movement Hercules leaned fully across Ares' chest to come nose to nose with the God of War.
"Brother dearest, I never noticed before, what full, kissable lips you have" Hercules fastened his mouth firmly onto the mentioned lips gnawing passionately on the extra full lower lip. Ares managed to work one of his hands free of the accumulated bodies and shoved at Hercules' head.
"WILL EVERYONE STOP CHEWING ON ME! I AM NOT A PIECE OF MEAT!" Ares felt something slightly abrasive wrap around his trapped wrist.
"I got it on him, Herc!" Iolaus proclaimed from the mass of squirming bodies.
Panicking, Ares tried to wink out. Nothing happened. Nothing at all. He shoved with all his might against the frenzied group, to no avail. They seemed to latch on tighter. He could feel his clothing being parted and torn in their delirious need to touch his body. Fighting harder, he managed to get the trapped hand free and saw what he feared. An instrument of godly restraint fastened firmly to his wrist. This is what held him on the earth and prevented his escape by means of his powers. It would also prevent him from incinerating the mound of groupies leeching onto his body. An Olympian had to have given it to Hercules and Iolaus. He had once more been betrayed by his own. The worst of it was that once affixed, the restraining cuff could only be removed by someone other than the victim and that someone had to have godly blood. He howled again, cursing everything and anything, shrieking when a hand worked itself between his legs to caress his asshole and probe within.
Then, the fight broke out. A word or two, a slap, a punch, they were fighting over who got which part. The only one not fighting was Iphicles who was still sucking madly on Ares' toes. No one else seemed to want that honor. That didn't keep him from getting caught up in the fracas though. A wayward kick caught Iphicles in the chin, knocking him onto his royal butt.
This was Ares' chance. Pushing himself back, Ares fought his way out from under the squirming mass, leaving a significant portion of his clothing behind. Struggling to his feet, he looked down at himself, the reality worse that he had believed. All that remained of his magnificent attire was his jerkin, belt, scabbard and sword. Topping off the picture were bite marks, scratches and globs of saliva accumulated at random points everywhere. Taking one quick look at his openly warlike adoring fans, who had yet to realize he had escaped, Ares took off running for his life.
It was a pity he had never learned to cultivate the earthly art of stealth for the lumbering God of War's noisy escape alerted the lusty mob.
The sounds behind him gave fuel to his speed. Cries of "Stop, come back!" and "We just want to touch you!" assaulted his ears as he worked on a new land speed record. This was not easy to do barefoot on a forest floor, laden with debris. But after a bit the sounds behind him became more distant and more discordant, telling a tale of continuing jealousy. Ares slowed his pace and tried to calm his breathing. At least if they were still fighting amongst themselves, it would buy him some time. Moving a bit out of the trees and towards the lake, he chanced a look over his shoulder. There was no sign of pursuit, but in looking back instead of forward, he missed the mudded patch and in his haste once again slipped to the ground. The expanse of naked flesh making contact with the mud produced an all too satisfying smack, the momentum built up in running causing him to slide several feet through the sticky mud. He squelched to a halt a short distance from the water's edge.
Feeling lower than the ground on which he lay, Ares sighed deeply. If he didn't know better, he would have thought himself on the verge of tears, but of course he was the God of War. That was not possible. He was tough, strong, utterly macho. And something was licking his head.
Cautiously, he tipped his head back for a look. Xena's horse was there, its head dipped down to nuzzle his hair. A deep whinny escaped its throat as its large, equine tongue snaked out for another affectionate lick. The wagon of humiliations full, the last straw placed, Ares screamed. This was what his pursuers needed, having temporarily lost his track. He could hear them, a wall of senseless lust crashing through the woods.
Nearly hyperventilating, Ares knew what he had to do. Nothing else was left. With a slight wimper he pleaded. "Aphrodite, please. I'm sorry.....just make it stop. I apologize, I'm sorry, I was wrong, please, " then louder when there was no sign of release, "Dite, please, make it stop, I was wrong!"
The surrounding forest shimmered with energy and in a puffy pink cloud, the Goddess of Love made her appearance. Not bothering to move, Ares watched her come closer, taking in his predicament with no slight amusement. He also noticed the horse had stopped its flirtations and he turned his head for a quick look. The horse was frozen in time and space and since Ares could no longer hear his personal fan club, he assumed they were in the same state.
Looking back at Dite, he assumed his best look of supplication, trying to be as sincere as possible. She was standing next to the muddy patch, smiling brightly.
"Had enough, huh?"
Ares nodded rapidly, desperately hoping she was in a forgiving mood. She was good at revenge but even better with grudges.
"Good, then let me hear it. Repeat after me....Lust doesn't last, love is forever."
Obediently he repeated, biting on his lip between words.
"Good, now.....Aphrodite has a job just as important as mine, and I will respect that always."
Feeling truly wounded, he repeated her words, knowing the true meaning behind them. Love and War were equally potent forces and this was one lesson he must never forget. Looking at his humbled expression, Aphrodite knew her victory was complete. She knelt down and released the cuff from his wrist.
"Let's get you home, big boy. You need a nice, hot bath."
Ares let out the breath he hadn't known he was holding, for he was free at last. Sitting up he looked around, then back to Dite. "I really am sorry, I mean that. So......can you make them all forget what happened? Please?"
"Sure, baby, wouldn't help your reputation much, would it?" The pair of Olympians winked out of view...to reappear in Ares' temple.
The steaming tub was already prepared, a quick manipulation on Aphrodite's part had made sure it would be ready being when they arrived. She gently eased him out of what little he was still wearing and guided him to the soothing water. "You're a filthy, disgusting mess!"
He eased into the tub. "Well, you're good, so what did you expect? It's a pity you're not on my team. The enemy wouldn't stand a chance." He slid down to leave only his head exposed, relief evident in every muscle on his face. A ripple in the water opened his eyes. Aphrodite had joined him in the water and was now gently sponging away the grime from his face. He looked at her and a strange miasma of feelings swirled inside of him. Respect, yes, that was part of it. And something else. He pulled a hand free of the water to gently stroke her face.
"I...want you to know.....I realize now, what you said before.....about lust and all. Well, you were right. I needed more, and I couldn't have it, and it.....hurt. I'm sorry." Bright blue eyes met eyes that were dark as night, as opposite as Love and War, and yet.... She leaned in, placing a hand lovingly on his chest and kissed him fully on the lips.
Pulling back a movement she whispered in his ear, "Come here, big boy, let Dite show you what love really is." She alternately sponged and kissed his face, but he stopped her, pulling her back gently.
"Do you? Do you, Dite? Do you really love me?"
The look on his face melted the Goddess of Love. Wrapping herself around his body, she smiled. "Let Dite show you just how much she loves you." As the temperature in the tub rose by a few degrees, a double burst of light in the earthly forest glade freed the combatants from their spell of enchantment, destroyed the tattered remains of the God of War's attire, wiped their memories of recent events and left them with a puzzle to solve. The five good friends were standing in the middle of the woods in various stages of attire and very unsure as to how they had gotten in this state. King Iphicles had an additional mystery to ponder for he had a very strange taste in his mouth and a mysterious boot in his possession.
And if Ares, God of War and son of Zeus had anything to say about it, this would remain an unsolved mystery for all of time.