I could feel their daggers sliding into my body. Brutus, Cinna, Metellus, Cassius, Trebonious, Casca. All senators of imperial Rome. One, my closest friend... Brutus. For it to have been he who struck the killing blow... that was the ultimate betrayal. Not that there was an attempt on my life. No, that I expected. Not even that Brutus was involved. No, that too, I expected. After his time with Xena, who knows what poisons she fed him, what lies. What I did not expect, could not imagine, was for him to follow through and turn against me. Not Brutus, not my faithful companion, my sometimes lover.
As their daggers hit home, I cried out silently to my lover for his help, but nothing was forthcoming. Not every man can claim a god as his lover. I claimed the god of War. He was mine and I was his, and it was on him that I called. And it was he who ignored me. He who let them shed my blood, rend my flesh with hateful gashes, drain my life away.
He who watched them as I lay there, dying, calling on him for help.
He, whom I hate more now than anyone else.
But in this place of death, I cannot reach him from here. I can only watch as through a mirror as he rubs his hands with glee over the wars that come from my death. "Cry Havoc! And let slip the dogs of war!" were Antony's words as he planned his vengeance for my death. And the dogs of war were loosed, and my lover watched all the spoils of my death. With no thought to me.
But I am not bitter. I shall bide my time. The world will once again call Caesar forth, when they have need of me, and then shall I rise from this place, to destroy my god and to take back that which was stolen from me. Rome shall rise again to her former glory, and I shall be emperor then as I should have been now.
If that creature that called herself Callisto, if Callisto can rise again, then so shall Julius Caesar. And the god of War will have cause to repent that wrong which he has done to me.
There are those in this place, those who know the names of Caesar and of Ares. Those here who know the story. Many times have they heard me tell it, many times have they heard me plot revenge. And now, as I write this, I am soon to return to my world. Soon to return to my revenge. For He who rules this place of Death has his own score with the god of War to settle, and He has given me His word that I shall be the one to help settle them. He knows of my score as well, promised me my revenge as well as His own. Ares' suffering. That is all I care for now, and He has promised me that. He has promised me that Ares will suffer by my hand, and that is all I need to hear. I have sworn myself to Him and to His service, to do anything that is required of me. This I leave as a record of all that follows.
I am sent back to my world with powers equal to his, and for the first time, I revel in the power. It was nothing like this mortal... the power that a mortal has over his fellow man is fleeting, momentary only. The powers that He gave me were cosmic. They could create, destroy, burn, freeze... anything that my thoughts could imagine, my powers gave truth to. And what a feeling, to know that now I had within my grasp the means to kill my god, the one who left me to die, howling his name.
My dress is what it always was, that of an Imperial Roman general. My flowing cape, my armor, my sandals and my weapons all appeared on me as if not a day had passed. Upon my head was the laurel wreath with which I'd crowned myself, and I intended for it to stay. With it, I was invulnerable.
I knew where to find my god, I went to his palace immediately. There were mortals there, guards who sought to bar my way. Those two I killed in sacrifice to He who'd given me such marvelous powers. Their bodies I burnt, and their heads I sent rolling into the palace before me, to speak of my arrival to my god.
I closed my eyes, and yet I could see inside the palace as I followed those rolling heads with my thoughts. I laughed when the heads began to speak my message of hate and revenge. I shivered with the feeling of dread that passed through my god though none else could see it.
I appeared in the room with him in a bright flash of violet light, royal purple to match my status. Amazing how fast my angry god can clear a room! We stood apart from each other, my god and I, staring at each other.
He blinked, as though not able to believe that I was there. "Julius?"
"Yes, my god, it is Caesar." I would not dignify his use of my first name.
"What are you doing here? You are dead."
I laughed at his idiocy. My god the lackwit. "I rose again, Ares. I rose again to exact my revenge and the revenge of my Master."
"You serve me!"
"No! My service to you ended with my life! You let me die as I called on you for help!" I launched myself at him, anger carrying me, but as he tried to throw me off, my thoughts said no, and I was suddenly so heavy that even his godly strength could not topple me and we fell to the floor together.
He landed beneath me, and I began to land blows on him that he could not hope to fend off, and each blow brought a pained expression to my god's face. I could cause my god pain, and I took pleasure in that thought! I did not let him rise, only kept buffeting him with strike after strike. I battered him into only momentary submission, but that is all I needed. A moment's weakness, and the god was bound hand and foot by chains unbreakable. "You shall suffer as I have suffered, my god," I told him as we disappeared together from his palace.
We reappeared in mine, my old palace in Rome, far from his strongholds. Far from anyone who might help him. "You watched me die," I accused.
"I was not allowed to interfere," he lied.
"You are a god. You can do what you wish, it is why you were born with these powers, they give you might, and they give you right!"
"Julius, don't you see? Didn't you learn anything that I sought to teach you? Might will win the fight, but to be victorious, it must be tempered! You were never tempered, Julius! You were mighty, the mighty Julius Caesar that would one day conquer the world! But that was NOT your fate, NOT your destiny! Your destiny was to be assassinated in the Senate and that is how you died!"
Unable to stand more of his lies, I belted him across the mouth, snapping his head to the side as I bound him. Yet I could still hear his voice in my head, and I could not tear it out. "I died because you refused to help me!" I screamed back at him. I put my hands over my ears, and his voice died out.
Now I could think clearly again. Now I could begin. I closed my eyes and I conjured six men. The same number that had struck me down. Six faceless men armed with daggers, and with a voiceless command I pointed to Ares and they began their work. Each of the men slid their daggers into Ares, over and over again. I knew I could not kill him this way, I had none of the Hind's Blood yet... but that was only an act of simple conjuring. For now, pain was enough. And the knives drew blood, and with the blood, pain.
I knew he felt it. He hid it well, but I could reach inside him, read his thoughts and know that he felt the pain of the knives. "How does it feel, my god? Know that this was the last thing that I felt, and that I died calling on you, cursing your name."
He could not answer me because of the gag, and that is the way I wanted it. No more of his lies. I banished the six men I'd created, and left the god to bleed while I thought of my next move. How else could I make him suffer? And suddenly I knew. I had lost an empire... he would lose one as well. I should have done this before, and I cursed the anger that had blinded me. I reached around his waist, unbuckled his sword belt, removed the great sword. A clap of thunder, and then a moan from the bound figure told me my god was now a mortal as I had been.
The only thing now was death for death, but there was so much suffering I wanted to inflict on him. Simple pain was not enough... I know I could have tortured him and been done with it, but it went beyond the physical. I wanted emotional suffering, mental suffering. But I didn't know how to go about it.
I began to pace around him as I thought, and as his mortal eyes followed me, I realized that the game had begun. He was waiting for me, with all his composure lost as his trembling and weakened body lay waiting. I merely smiled at him, shading my thoughts and my eyes from him, and I walked around him again, circling him over and over as his eyes remained on me.
I stepped to his head, where he could not see me, and I began to conjure meaningless objects with great flashes of light and noise. A cannon ball, a melon, a book. A pair of sandals. All these things I made great show with, and I delighted in each jerk as the object appeared and was silently dispelled. I began to conjure heavy items, to drop them on the floor before dispelling them. With each ominous thud, his eyes widened. The gladiators in the arenas had never provided me with as much amusement as Ares did as each object hit the floor! I dared not tap into his thoughts for fear that I would begin to laugh aloud!
But this game soon lost its novelty and I became bored with it. I walked around so he could see me, and I quickly bent to give him a hateful kiss on his full lips. And then I knew. I would rape this god. I would take from him his control, his dignity, shatter the facade and find the fragile man inside. As soon as I kissed him, I knew. I moved to his feet, and methodically began to strip. The laurels I left on, and I spread my arms to let my lover see me, in all my glory.
Mortal Ares cried out, knowing what was to come. But his stoicism soon clamped back into place, but it did not displease me as I banished his garments, leaving him naked. I would have fun breaking down that exterior. I mounted him, moved up his body to kneel over his shoulder, resting back against his chest. The gag vanished out of his mouth, and I quickly shoved my cock inside. His mouth was hot and soft, and I fucked it hard. I held his face still, my hands gripping the sideburns tightly as I slammed my cock in his lips, gagging him with each deep thrust. The gagging throat tightened about my cock with each heave of his body, and I almost came in his mouth. But no... I jerked my cock out, and with hard, rough strokes I brought myself to orgasm, coming on his beautiful face.
The gag reappeared in his mouth, but his eyes would not open to see me above him as I stroked my half-limp organ. I pumped it hard again, and when it was hard, I spread his legs, and slammed into him.
He could not help himself, he screamed in pain as I entered him. My hands gripped his shoulders, and I shoved myself deeper and harder against the resisting muscle. He only had the strength of a mortal, and with almost no strain, I broke through the muscle, tearing something inside as suddenly I slid inside. I felt hot blood anoint my cock, I felt it pour out onto my thighs as I fucked him. I leaned down, I bit his nipples as my cock pounded him, and still he screamed as each thrust into his torn flesh pained him. I was in heaven, I had dreamed of this while I was mortal, taking my god as he took me, unprepared, and now I was. To his shame, his cock responded, and under the pain, I could feel the blush of shame blooming through him. He knew I knew as well, and triumphant, I emptied my seed into his bleeding body as his own cock wept for attention.
Which would degrade him further, to leave him aching and hungry, knowing the foul treatment that had brought him there, or to be pleasured by his rapist? These two thoughts whirled in my head as I idly batted his cock with my thumb, watching it shiver and shudder under the minor assault.
I pulled back to observe the rest of my god as I conjured water to wash my cock with. His ass and thighs were covered with his blood as mine was, and I washed myself idly as I continued to look on him. His teeth were gritted, his breath harsh as he panted, small cries of pain still escaping him. His eyes were closed, and as I finished washing, I wanted to look him in the eye. "Open your eyes."
Defiance. Not surprising to me, though I'd thought the rape would have taken it out of him. "You will. Or I will pluck them out and feed them to you."
"Go ahead. You're going to kill me anyway."
Finally. Defeat. I smiled as I dressed. "True. But I want to look into your eyes before I do."
"Very well." Ares opened his eyes and stared at me. I was unprepared for what I saw, for what I read.
He had loved me... and it had killed him to let me die. This that he'd hidden from me before, he now let me see. He let me see deep inside him, and from somewhere deep inside of me, the Caesar that had loved him once screamed out. He let me see more, how my death had affected him, how the rejoicing over the wars had only been a revenge, he showed me the slaughter of the assassins by his men. He showed me the nights of sleeplessness, the haunted nightmares of my death, and inside me, the old Caesar screamed still. "Have you had your revenge, Julius?" he asked me in a harsh whisper from an aching throat.
I wanted to shut the voices down, but they would not leave me alone. I fell to my knees, and my hands ripped at my head, flinging the laurel wreath away. I felt a drain as my body slackened, and my mouth opened, screaming. "Ares, help me!" I heard myself screaming, but I realized, I was screaming, and the God-Caesar was draining away and I was myself again. He that ruled the place I had come from called me, and I wavered in front of Ares.
I watched as my god summoned the last of his strength, and ripped one arm free of the chains. He reached for his Sword which fell into his hands, and as I knelt helpless, crying out for him and curling around the fire in my belly, he regained his godhood and shattered the table he'd been chained to.
"Not this time!" he roared, and my Master appeared before me. "Not this time, Dahok! You will not take him from me again! I could not interfere before but you will not take him again!"
Dahok. My Master had a name, and when Ares spoke it, my Master growled. "Do not meddle in affairs not of your concern, Olympian. I should kill you for betraying my daughter but her own idiocy caused her death. Give me this one and I will give you your life."
"I gave you Xena when I could have saved her life! Julius is mine!"
Dahok considered as Ares stood between us, sword drawn at the ready. "Very well. He is yours." My Master picked up the laurel wreath and threw it at Ares. "When this is burnt, he will die."
He vanished, and Ares bent and picked me up. Wordlessly, he and I were both clothed, his wounds were healed, and he held me tightly, taking me back to his palace.
I sit here now, in front of the flames of his altar, and I hold the laurel wreath in my hands. I told him what I meant to do, and he gave me the wreath and kissed me hard, and said that I must do what is best for me.
Even now, he stands in the doorway, watching me. He will not influence me, he has given me his word. And he will accept what I choose to do. If I burn the wreath, he will come to me and be with me until I am no more. Or, if I choose not to, he will secret the wreath away and be with me.
I know now of his love. And he knows of mine, before and after my death in Rome. The question is not love, but can I live with myself with knowledge of what I have done? He has forgiven me. I do not know how... perhaps he knows that I was not myself, I let the power and anger and rage guide me. But he has forgiven me. All that is left, he tells me, is that I forgive myself.
I feel the heat of the flames, I know that if I did cast my life into the fire, it would not take long. But I cannot. My punishment for what I did is that I must live with it, must live with the reminder of it every time I look at him, and feel the knife tearing at my heart each time he takes me into his arms.
I turn from the flames, I hand him the wreath. As I knew he'd do, he hid it safely, and then he took me in his arms. "Julius."
"Come with me," he said, wrapping me tightly in a cloak against the cold night. He led me to a deep cell within his palace, and the chilly air penetrated even the thick wool cloak. He opened the door, and showed me inside. A woman in a blue dress, a bowl of water on the pedestal.
"Who are you?"
"I am Nimue, priestess of Mnemosyne. My lord tells me you have something in your memories that troubles you."
I could only nod.
"Then here... drink the water of this bowl, and you will forget all that troubles you."
I raised the bowl to my lips, greedily I drank the water down. It tasted clear, sweet, and clean. And when I looked again at Ares, I felt no pangs, nothing but... love.
I remember nothing of what I've read. Ares showed me this, but it is like listening to a storyteller weave his song. I remembered my death at the hands of the Senate. I remembered Ares demanding my life from my Master in return for Xena's death. But of all that happened in between, my memory is blank.
But if this scroll is true, and I know that my god would not lie... then I am glad I do not remember, for I have found the chest where my god keeps the wreath. I look at it often, and then close the lid and go to find my god.