"There are times when fear is good." --Aeschylus, The Eumenides
The hills rolled gold and green under the melting sun, while a cluster of flowers at his feet caught the purple of the late afternoon sky. In the valley before him, puffs of white smoke rose from red brick chimneys, while villagers, faces blurred, talked and laughed in cottage doorways, enjoying the lingering warmth of a dying summer. The sound drifted up to him, indistinct but ringed with pleasure.
Ares raised one boot and viciously crushed the violets, longing for a blood-soaked field, for death, chaos and destruction.
Even here in Gaul, Eli's followers had puked up their cloying poison, and the people, like mindless fucking housecats, lapped it up. Begged for it, even. Sure, the new order looked pretty on the surface. But underneath, their limbs atrophied, their hearts weakened, and they were no better than babies. He needed an army, dammit, not a bunch of cooing brats who wouldn't know a sword from a loaf of bread.
Not with Dahak resurrected and ready to crown himself king of the universe.
He'd heard the rumor from Minos, who blurted out all sorts of strange shit with Ares' cock up his ass. Those grunted bits of gossip were worth the few minutes every month spent in a shady corner of the Vale of Mourning, fucking Hades' favorite disciple, with his light green skin and silvery eyes. Not a pleasure-fuck, but a knowledge-one. And this time, those few hard thrusts into that slick ass had paid off, even if he had to bathe three times to scrape off that shiny green slime.
The information didn't mean dick to the other Olympians--those bastards. They either didn't believe in Dahak's threat, or didn't want to. Even Athena, the only one with a brain, was far too obsessed with her new girlfriend to do more than eat cunt for days on end. While he liked to watch, it wasn't going to help them kick that persistent prick back into the fire-walled prison where he belonged.
So that meant another pantheon, one that might understand the danger posed by a power-hungry Persian god who didn't tolerate competition. The people sure as shit weren't going to help, not with Eli's pap softening their minds like beeswax under the sun.
In disgust, Ares turned from the peaceful valley to stare up at the grey stone temple of Esus, admiring the spare lines. Climbing the worn marble steps, he noticed the tympannum above the door: Esus in majesty. The god sat stiffly on a mound of bones that passed as a throne, eyes round and yellow like cat's eye marbles. On either side of him grew three huge oaks, heavy branches littered with grinning crows. From each hung a naked boy, eyes bulging, rope tight around his thin young throat, a long silver sword piercing his heart.
As Ares opened the door, the smell hit him, thick and dark. Old blood. He inhaled deeply, nostalgic, and entered, striding over stones stained red-black with sacrifice. His cock hardened under the leather, and he wondered if Esus could tell. After all, he'd made no secret of his presence in Gaul, deliberately giving the other god time to adjust.
Inside, the walls burned with color, blazing Esus' history. Advancing toward the altar down the narrow aisle, each step making a sucking sound, Ares glanced at the frescoes. To his left, between columns carved with vines and topped with skulls, he saw an amber-eyed bull raping a red-haired woman, her mouth stretched wide in a scream of pain. On his right: the child's birth. The mother, dying, still screamed as her divine son ripped through her body.
Further on, the artist had painted the boy on a body-strewn battlefield. Horns bright like ivory curved from his head, while hair red like an excised heart hung in heavy waves to his shoulders. Esus stared out with those feline eyes, one foot on the chest of a disembowelled warrior. In his right hand, the god held a gore-smeared sword, in his left, a man's head.
Now this was a god, Ares thought. But pictures in a temple were one thing. A talented painter could make even his pansy-boy brother Hercules look like a bad-ass. The thought of that lame do-gooder standing knee deep in blood amused him, and he snickered, breaking the shrine's eery calm.
"You find me amusing, war god?"
The voice swept over him like pyre's smoke, and he could smell the singed air that signalled the god's appearance.
Esus stood on the platform behind the altar, slender fingers clamped around his sword's handle, although the weapon remained sheathed. The position gave him height, and he looked like a giant, framed by the blue folds of his cloak.
"Just admiring the decor," Ares said, trying not to stare. Those yellow eyes with the wide black pupils disturbed him, and Esus' hair looked like fresh blood. He had his mother's build, slim-hipped, but with his father's wide shoulders.
Esus' lips twisted. "You're wasting my time. Get out." A blue-hearted ring clanked impatiently against his sword's pommel.
"Don't pull that shit with me. You've got nowhere to go. Eli's fucked you as good as he's fucked me. But that's going to change soon. Only this time, it's not going to be you getting your kicks massacring farmers. Not with Dahak around. So if you want to live, shut up and listen to me."
Ares spun on the god angrily, mounting the steps to the platform. He never looked up at anyone, despite what anyone else said - he was Ares, God of War. When they were eye to eye, he continued.
"Dahak is coming, and it isn't going to be long before he comes here." Ares stabbed his finger at the floor on the temple, his own eyes sparking with anger.
"Oh, please," Esus commented. "Dahak has been imprisoned for --" He waved his hand and began to turn from the angry god.
The Olympian in a fit of rage, being dismissed like a child, grabbed the front of Esus' robe.
"I tell you, he is coming!" Ares growled as he lifted the other god clear of the floor.
Esus' reaction was instantaneous, a power-filled back hand caught Ares across the face, sending both of them sprawling to the cold, stone floor. Ares once more on the main floor of the temple, Esus against the back wall. Both gods drew their swords and moved towards the other.
"This is my temple, war god," Esus growled. "Lay your hand on me again and we will war."
"We will war anyway, but hopefully not with each other -- this time." Ares rejoined, the threat obvious. However, his own words reminded him of why he was here, and he stopped his approach and sheathed his sword. "I have kept up with this. I tried to stop his messenger, but she came anyway - Hope."
"From what I heard, Ares, you weren't trying to stop her. You were fucking her to secure your own safety," came the taunt, as Esus also resheathed his sword.
Esus was angry that the Greek god was here, but he too had heard rumblings of Dahak, and if it was true, the gods of all the lands were in trouble. He would listen to this being, although he wanted nothing more than to redraw his sword and spit the insolent pup. However, he was not above taunting the god who stood in his temple.
Ares, knowing they had an unspoken truce, felt something on his chin and wiped at it to buy himself a moment. A moment not only to control his temper, but also to phrase his response. He had no room to alienate any potential ally. When he looked at his hand, it was red with blood. Esus' eyes fixed on the red smear. Ares' lifted and eyebrow and cocked his head, licking at the substance, seductively. Esus' eyes followed hungrily. Ares thought - perhaps he could use this.
"I made a mistake with Hope. I thought I could control her, I was wrong," he admitted. He had thought about this for days, he could not afford a false pride in this. If he was to save himself, and anyone else from Dahak, he had to be honest and admit he had made mistakes. However, he was not taking all of the blame. He resettled his vest on his shoulders and swaggered towards the platform, his hand on his sword.
"So now you want my help to cover your mess up. To cover for the fact, the great god Ares couldn't keep it in his pants -- again." Esus' eyes traveled down Ares' body to the condemning bulge. "You have more in common with your counterpart on that other world than you think, Ares." The sneer was evident.
Ares struggled to control the rage rising up inside him. Esus was baiting him and it was not in his nature to take it quietly. His face twitched angrily as he tried to control his temper, but the fact that the other god had even mentioned showed his own interest.
"I tried to stop her entry into this world, but no one would listen to me. Will you also lend a hand to our destruction?" An innocent look touched Ares' face for just a moment.
"You used a mortal - another mistake, war god."
"Esus, you know I am speaking the truth," Ares said. He lowered his voice and moved closer to the other god, slowly mounting the steps. Esus' eyes followed him.
"Oh yes, I have heard the same rumors. But as of yet, they are unsubstantiated."
"Do you want him knocking on your temple doors before you do anything?!" Ares demanded angrily. He stood even with Esus again, and moved closer.
"Perhaps I want to wait until after you've had a chance to soften him up. I don't care about you or the Greeks, I will do what serves me best," Esus responded nonchalantly.
Ares once more met the disturbing gold eyes. He noted that Esus was still willing to fight. "You stupid fool, he won't stop in Greece!" Ares snarled quietly, letting the disdain sound in his voice. "We have to act now!"
"Don't tell me what to do, Ares," Esus reviled. He moved back, away from the god of war.
He started to leave the temple but as he raised his hand, Ares' closed over his wrist. Their eyes once more locked.
"That's it. If you won't listen to me, then I will beat some sense into you!" Ares pushed the god backwards and drew his sword. Esus followed suit.
The two of them traded blow after blow. They moved all over the temple, knocking over statues in the physical exchange.
At one point in time, Ares stumbled backwards down the steps and was trapped against the altar. As Esus followed, to strike Ares down. The war god rolled backwards, and pushed the huge stone top of the altar at the god approaching him. Esus screamed his anger at the desecration.
"You think that's bad. Wait until they make it into a temple for Dahak! Wait until you are so weak, you can't stop him from taking your followers," Ares argued, advancing on him. "Wait, until he stands here and the people worship him and not you, deny you! What then, Esus? Will you wished you had listened to me?" Ares gazed into the eyes of another god.
"We are not strong enough now. Your Zeus was barely strong enough to stop him." Esus accused.
"No," Ares said, stepping close to the other god, smelling the blood and sweat of their battle. "None of us are strong enough in our own powers to stop him." Ares put his hand on Esus' face and gently turned it to his. "But together," he whispered, "we can do great things, Esus." He lowered his head and gently brushed the other's lips "Join me, Esus." He ran a thumb over the sculpted face of Esus. "You know how weak these lands are right now. If we don't act - soon - all will be lost. Dahak will not be satisfied with Greece."
by Oshun Anat
“Do you really think me so big a fool that I don’t know that?” Esus hissed and angrily brushed Ares off of him.
Surprised, and not a little angered at such a blatant rejection, he said snidely, “I can’t really expect a deity based in agriculture to know all about War, now can I?”
Ignoring the implied insult, Esus just smiled, and with widened eyes replied, “I thought you wanted me to be your ally.” He sniffled, and said “I guess us back-water gods just can’t understand you more powerful pantheons.”
“Cut the sarcasm, Esus, this isn’t time to play games,” Ares growled.
“Really? It isn’t? I could have sworn that it was...No matter. Tell me, Mr. Greek War God, why should I risk my hide and the lives of my followers to join the fight against Dahak?”
“For one thing, this will give your followers some actual life. Have you been so oblivious that you hadn’t noticed them chanting 'Love is the Way. Violence is Bad. Let’s not hurt one another! Let’s hold hands and sing!' And all that other shit that the cult of Eli has taught them.”
“Yes, I have heard their chanting--but as you mentioned so succinctly earlier, I am an agriculture god first, and even the followers of that obnoxious cult have to eat, and they aren’t so foolish to neglect my worship just yet.” He turned away from Ares and sank into a replica of the bone throne from the mural. “Try again, Ares, I’m sure you can think of something better than that.”
Ares silently fumed, and then smiled. He walked up next to the throne, and lowering his voice, said “Imagine the glory of fighting side by side, our armies screaming our names as they shed their blood in our honor. Just picture it, Esus, Dahak won't be expecting any resistance. Any army he might bring will flee in confusion and then we go in for the kill. Inspired by our actions, Bards will write our deeds onto their scrolls, and future generations will remember us as saviors!” Satisfied, Ares moved away from Esus, to the front of the throne, waiting for a response.
Esus smiled. “I must say, that I am intrigued by your offer, Ares, and I have no doubt that this will be immortalized by the bards. But unlike you, I have no vain needs to fill. I don’t need exaggerated tales to be remembered by. I will be remembered for simply being myself.”
Ares smirked. “And who is the arrogant one here? Still, I’m sure we can make some sort of arrangement. Name your price.”
Esus’ smile froze into something cruel, reminiscent of all the times Ares was getting ready to make a deal that would screw over the recipient. “I am willing to help you Ares, but for nothing less than your totally submission to me. Serve me for twenty-four hours—no matter what I may ask, and I will aid you in defeating Dahak. I will not settle
for anything less.” His yellow eyes became as intense as the Sun as he demanded, “Will you surrender your pride and dignity for this cause? Will you do anything I say no matter how demeaning? I will demand more of you in that one day than you could have ever dreamed possible. I will make it easier for you to answer. If you agree to my terms, then I want you to drop to your knees, hands behind your neck and naked. If you don’t, leave my temple and never return.”
He waited for an answer.
Ares laughed and slowly applauded Esus’ ultimatum. He now knew he had the other god’s attention.
“You know I like a god who knows his own worth but for that price Hades would give me back Caesar and Alexander. And you know what Caesar can do.” Ares’ voice dropped to a growl. “What his armies did to Gaul. I’m surprised there was anyone left to worship you.”
Esus’ full lips thinned and the sungold of his eyes flared into amber. “With your help, Greek,” he hissed.
“Sure,” Ares admitted. “He was the best. Best general and best fuck I ever had. Hades! He could even have turned Eli’s happy-clappy bands into an army. Maybe it would be worth being Hades’ plaything for a day to see him to that.”
Brown eyes coolly met the amber flare opposite and watch it fade to the disturbing gold before playing with the fire again. Ares enjoyed battlefields. The smell and feel of blood, smoke and death and the physical exertion of fighting, clash of weapons and play and stretch of warriors’ muscles, their cries and groans always aroused him easily. But these power games of words and negotiation were so erotic. There was nothing to beat the
slow dance of seduction building and holding a tension. Except the release.
“Caesar left you another legacy, didn’t he? ” He wound things up another notch, watching for the gap in his opponent's defences. “I did think of going to him first, but Gaul is your home ground. But then he comes from Dahak’s part of the cosmos so maybe he’d be more useful.”
“Mithras.” Esus’ eyes hit red, matching his hair, and his voice rang like thunder around the temple. “You cannot go to him! I forbid it.”
Ares shrugged. “I need help. You won’t give it .” Another shrug of correction. “Well, you will, but at a price I won’t pay, because we need to be partners in this. Mithras might be more reasonable. He knows the danger after all.”
Ares turned to leave and Esus was standing in front of him, less arrogant but still powerful. “You agree Gaul is my domain?”
Ares nodded. Chocolate eyes met gold as equals.
“Then, you accept you owe me tribute, as I would you if I ever came to Greece?”
Ares nodded again, keeping eye contact and reached for Esus’ hand to kiss the blue stone in his ring. Then pulled away from the compelling gold gaze to kiss the other god on both cheeks. A moment’s indulgence of running his fingers through the fine crimson silk of hair and pushing the cloak off Esus’ shoulders to expose his naked chest, as he sank to his knees before Gaul’s war god. He smiled to himself at the tell-tale bulge indicating Esus’ interest and rubbed his cheek against the tight leather and the hardness
beneath. A sharp intake of breath told him he had Esus’ full attention. Ares slid one hand between the legs cradling and stroking the imprisoned flesh while the other released the ties of the trousers.
Esus erect was impressive. It wasn’t only his eyes he’d inherited from his father. Ares fondled the full, heavy red furred balls as he licked slowly one full sweep from base to tip. Esus shuddered. Ares lightly circled the tip playing with the slit. Esus tasted of wheat and honey. He stretched his mouth wide to take in the first few millimetres of cock and sucked. Esus’ hands grabbed his hair and twisted holding Ares’ head still as the Gaul
thrust hard into his mouth and began to fuck. Ares gagged from shock before he could open his throat to take the full length. Esus thrust. Ares sucked with a will. His own cock demanded attention. A fingersnap and he’d released it into his fist and began pumping.
He knew Esus' frenzy had him close to the edge so Ares pushed him over. He moved from balls to the bud of anus and rammed two fingers in, thrusting as hard into Esus as Esus was into him. Second thrust hit that sweet spot and Esus came flooding Ares’ mouth and throat with an intoxicating honeyed mixture and pushing him to release so his own hot liquid spurted on to the temple floor.
Esus lowed, a chilling sound, as Ares slid his two brutal fingers from the foreign god's ass. The sweet, mighty cock in Ares' mouth softened, assuaged for now with his gift of tribute. He released Esus' cock, tonguing the insides of his long thighs, enjoying the sound of the other god's harsh breathing.
Ares felt the hand that was still tangled in his hair tugging, encouraging rather than forcing him this time. He dragged his tongue through the crimson thatch of fire at Esus' crotch, up over his muscled abdomen, flexing his legs to reach the Gaul's broad, hard nipples.
Esus made tiny grunts of delight as Ares tongued and nibbled one nipple while pinching the other, his free hand stroking Esus' thighs.
"You have a plan?" Ares whispered, his voice strange around the other god's cloying semen in his throat.
"Many things -- are possible," Esus replied cryptically, eyes closed, brow furrowed against the sweet pleasure in his nipples.
Ares encouraged Esus' nipple with his teeth, and the huge Gaul thrust his chest against Ares' face, sighing roughly.
"Tell me, Greek, were you so ready to collect Caesar from your underworld's keeper?"
Ares' hand strayed to the Bull God's cock, which was stirring anew. "Could be," he murmured, dragging his lips to Esus' other nipple, sucking it into a pleasurably hard point. "Didn't know if you'd be -- up -- for an alliance."
Esus chewed his lower lip and thrust into Ares' hand. "You've learned some diplomacy since last we met," he gasped, words turning into a moan as Ares ran his thumb over Esus' slick cockhead.
Ares shrugged out of his vest as his hands and mouth roamed the proud Gaul, the leather garment spilling onto the floor, sticky with old blood, behind him. "Diplomacy does occasionally have its rewards." He pressed his great, furred chest against Esus' strangely smooth one as he anchored his hands on the Gaul's hairy shoulders. He ground his body against his new ally's, chest against chest, cock against cock. Esus steered Ares' head with the fist still tangled in his hair, grunting his satisfaction as he tasted his honeyed cum upon the Greek god's lips.
"So," Ares whispered as Esus' tongue made languorous circuits of his lower lip. "You'll raise your army?"
Esus laughed humorlessly into Ares' mouth. "My army was decimated by the Romans, no thanks to you." The foreign god grazed his nails down Ares' flank, sliding his hand into the open leather trousers, cupping his buttocks. "The next crop of warriors is not yet ripe."
Ares' eyes went wide. Surely he hadn't traveled all this way, abased himself to the golden eyed freak like a common whore, for nothing.
"Shh," Esus whispered into his mouth, following his breath with a curious tongue. "There is a way. There is always a way."
Ares gripped the other war god by his hirsute shoulders as he ran a strong thumb down the side of his broad neck, feeling his pulse thrumming within his flesh. "Tell me."
Esus chuckled, crushing Ares' face against his own with a strong hand at the base of his skull, and the kiss turned brutal. The war gods battled with their mouths, biting and sucking, tongues skirmishing, the tang of blood washing over their palates. Esus, still dominant, allowed the kiss to cease, pulling his swollen lips from Ares'. "I won't tell you; I'll show you."
The Gaul bent his head, allowing a drop of ruby ichor to fall from his mouth. Ares gazed, fascinated, as Esus' divine essence was drawn down toward the floor, angling unerringly for the ropy, wet strings of seed he'd shot there moments before. Life force and life force, Gaul and Greek, Ares and Esus were made one as their essences united, a stewing magma of divine, warlike force.
A wind tickled Ares' cheek. He staggered away from Esus and their comingled essences as the seething, primordial fluid sucked the contents of the room unto itself, bones and hair, dead leaves and dirt glomming onto the compact whirlwind of filth that wound in upon itself, growing and growing, coalescing into a huge, manlike form.
Esus moved around the growing monstrosity to slide his arm around Ares' waist. "You see," he whispered smugly in Ares' ear, "I have not allowed the worshipers of Eli to walk among my followers braying their heresy for nothing."
"What is that?" Ares hissed as the creation grew, swelling and flexing.
"Oh, don't worry," Esus said smugly. "You're not a new father. It's just a little trick I've gleaned from the Hebrews. They call it a golem."
Ares’ eyes narrowed as the nightmare shape seemed to glow, the detritus of its creation settling, slowing, making final tiny shifts until the form was perfect.
It was hideous in its beauty, a thing that stood a head taller than himself, broad through the shoulders, heavily muscled, and furred lightly on its chest and legs with deep auburn curls. A darker thatch cradled the heaviness of its sex, and Ares’ own cock twitched as he assessed the creature.
“You like?” Esus said, startling Ares, who’d been lost for just an instant as the figure took shape.
“A golem.” Ares tasted the name, ignoring Esus to step closer to the huge form. Wary curiousity urged him to run a finger down one cold, powerful arm. “Fuck.”
“It would if you told it to,” Esus breathed in his ear. The bull god’s tongue snaked over Ares’ earlobe. “They’re very obedient, which makes them perfect for our purpose. They hear only their creators.” Esus’ fingers teased Ares’ cock into hardness even as he leaned back to gaze at their terrifying creation. “Their rather sizable heads can’t be swelled with praise, and they can’t be bribed. They aren’t swayed by honeyed
promises of a better life through love.” He spat the word as though it tasted of bile.
A distracted nod caused Esus’ tongue to slip into his ear; Ares shuddered, still staring at the golem’s cock. “They won’t know whether to piss themselves in fear, or spread their asses for it.” It would do…it would most certainly do. “We need more, though,” he growled, hissing when Esus’ fingers slowly breached his ass.
“We have time, Greek. We’ll make more…we have time.”
The reek of old blood, bones, and dust mingled now with the smells of new blood and the semen of gods. Sprawled on the sticky throne, Esus and Ares lay entangled in each other’s arms, looking over their undead bastardy.
“Only twenty,” Ares said. “It’s not enough.” Esus’ chuckle felt like oil on his sweat-slick skin, and the bull god, once again, reached for Ares’ cock. Ares winced at his touch; his ally’s hot, come-wet fingers, and their silent, sightless audience had him wishing for a long, hot bath. When this is over, he promised himself. When he’d shown his idiot family that once again, he was right and they were wrong, he’d go to the Ismenian spring and soak for a few hundred days. Anyone who dared to bother him would get a dragon on their ass for the trouble.
“Twenty’s plenty,” Esus replied, before he dipped his head to lick Ares’ cock. “And don’t forget, we can always make more.”
Under different circumstances, hours of fucking that warm, sweet mouth would have been pleasant, but Ares was constantly aware of Dahak’s looming threat. “Enough,” Ares groaned, twitching as Esus scraped his teeth lightly along his thigh. “I’ll fuck you bloody after we kick Dahak’s ass. Right now, though, we need to get on with it.” He nearly sighed with relief when Esus’ mouth left his cock.
The Gaul’s flat, golden eyes lowered, and the hint of a smile played at the corners of his lips. “I’ll hold you to that, Greek,” he purred.
“I don’t make idle promises, Gaul,” Ares returned. Antagonism pushed away lingering traces of lust, and the two gods separated, cleaning and clothing themselves. Esus led the way to the mass of creatures.
Eerily still, the false forms of man awaited the breath of life. Ares watched, fascinated, as Esus stood before the first, and, extending his arm, held the palm of his hand to its forehead. The stink of burned, rotted flesh filled the chamber. A tiny wisp of smoke appeared under Esus’ palm, and when he dropped his hand, the letters A and E had been burned into the golem’s skin.
“Not the Alpha and Omega, but it’ll do,” Esus said with a smirk. “Awaken,” he commanded. When the thing’s dead grey eyes opened and locked with his own, the hair on Ares’ balls stood on end. “The letters of our names give it power,” Esus explained. “Our son lives.”
“Fuck me,” Ares said without thinking, and when the golem took a step toward him, he remembered what Esus had said. “Stop.”
“Careful, Greek,” Esus laughed, moving to the next form. “Maybe we’ll keep one around for the victory party,” he said, planting his palm on the broad forehead above him. “That might be…interesting.”
Squaring his shoulders and giving them a little shake, Ares flicked a finger and clothed the golem in a scrap of rough fabric. “Yeah, we’ll see.” He stood in front of an unmarked creature and examined the powerful frame. These things were built to deliver an unholy ass-kicking, and he couldn’t wait to see the look of terror on Dahak’s face. “We will most certainly see,” he said, and raised his hand to deliver the profane benediction.
Ares hated this part, the waiting for battle, when nerves were stretched taut and muscles quivered against restraint. They were ready, as ready as they were going to be. So where the hell was the power-mad Persian schemer and his army of darkness?
His troops, such as they were, had been deployed. As much as he admired the strength in those blood and semen-spawned bodies, he had no idea how a golem would perform in battle. The mortals were useless. Might as well give them the assignment of braiding daisy chains. A good commander--and he, after all, was the best Greece, if not the world, had to offer--always took the strengths and weaknesses of his troops into account when forming the battle plan.
By Hades! What battle plan? Somehow, this had all gotten away from him. Here he stood, on foreign soil that drained his strength rather than feeding it back to him, directing an army of soulless, burning-eyed automatons against an enemy who refused to show himself. And he shared command with a red-haired freak who even now seemed more interested in entertaining Ares' cock up his ass than in planning how to win this war.
Ares paced the rock-pitted ground in front of the temple, forcing himself to channel all his rage and frustration and blood lust into cold, clear-eyed fury. Now was not the time for doubt. Now was not the time to throw a fireball just to drain away a little tension. Now was certainly not the time to be sucking cock, no matter how many times Esus licked his lips and fondled his own crotch. Dahak was a master at mind games; he would burrow into the narrowest mental crevice and destroy man or god from the inside if he could. They were ready. It was time and past time for the games to begin.
"Your wish is my command, " a voice hissed quietly from just behind Ares.
The wind died and blood seeped over the face of the sun. Where just a thought ago, Ares had seen rich green-gold fields, the earth was turned dead and sere. The small violets that had graced this hillside retained their delicate shape but were blasted black and smelled of rotting corpses. The rotting smell filled his nostrils as a bony arm, covered only partially in dead and stinking flesh, snaked around his waist, the fingers inching toward his crotch. Wisps of yellow hair floated in front of his eyes. He turned to see what apparition Dahak was using as his weapon this time.
"Callisto," he breathed. Or what had once been Callisto.
"You rang? Have you missed me?"
Ares shuttered his mind against what vision and smell told him was standing in front of him. Mind games. What mattered now was will and cunning and single-minded purpose. "Where's your master, bitch? Afraid to come and face me himself?"
"Oh, he'll be along soon enough. And with all his armies. I just wanted to come in first and soften you up."
The thing that had once been an immortal named Callisto drew a knife across her
bulging, blackened belly. Green ichor dripped onto Gaul's blasted ground. Each drop sizzled, smoked, and birthed a serpent. And the serpents headed straight for the waiting golems.
The low voice of his instinct spoke firmly: "Appearances are deceiving." Ares stifled the impulse to panic, forcing himself to let everything he had learned about Dahak wash through his mind in an unchecked flood. The subterfuge. The continual movement from Point A to Point B through Point Z. The passive war being waged through the medium of Eli's noxious philosophy, a credo that weakened and deluded into false security all the mortals that sucked up the slop with the analysis of tit-fed babes. All the smoke and mirrors …
He exhaled slowly, watching the inexorable progress of the serpents toward the massive warriors on the battlefield.
Esus, his attention finally diverted from his cock by the virtual herd of snakes that slithered and hissed toward his "children," stepped forward and prepared to give the order to fight. Ares grabbed the arm that arced upward and pulled it down roughly.
"Wait." Ares' voice was calm steel. "Let them hold their positions."
Esus gave him a withering glance. "Those are vipers, you moron! One bite is instantly fatal. And unlike the golem of the Hebrews, these are not clay, but flesh and blood. Do you want to lose this war before it even begins?"
"That's why I'm telling you to wait." He stooped smoothly and plucked a clump of the blackened violets, holding them carefully as soot sifted onto his hand from the decimated petals.
"Do forgive me, Ares. I didn't realize you were a nature lover," he said in a voice dripping with sarcasm. "By all means, take this opportunity to stop and smell the flowers."
Ares ignored him and closed his eyes. He caught one of the tiny petals between his thumb and forefinger, feeling the silken texture. "What do you see here?" he asked quietly.
"Burned violets. They certainly grow them dumb in Greece, don't they?"
"Close your eyes, and your mouth, and touch them."
"This is ridiculous!"
"Humor me, Esus. I've certainly humored you enough today." He handed them to the blood-haired god. "Don't look at them. Just feel them."
Esus' face reflected his discovery, and he gaped open-mouthed at the clump of deep purple blooms that fell from his hand. Ares laughed shortly, then returned to idly watching the vipers that were no more than twenty feet from the nearest golem.
"Can you explain this?"
"Dahak likes to fuck around with the mind." He braced one hand on the haft of his sword. "This should be interesting."
The two gods stood, one amazed and the other vindicated, as the flood of snakes washed over and around the feet of the seemingly blind golem. The hissing noise reached a crescendo as a thousand emerald mouths reared open, displaying twice as many vicious fangs, and those talons sank lethally into the legs of the stolid monoliths of muscle that peppered the open field.
And as each serpent struck, they vanished in a wisp of smoke, bringing dull half-smiles to the faces of several of the golem.
The sky brightened abruptly, becoming hurtful in its brilliance, and an acrid whiff of charred bone and marble assailed their nostrils and brought tears to their eyes. A silent vibration rippled through the still air, raising the hackles on the back of Ares' neck and locking the muscles in Esus' back and legs, and both gods felt the ground tremble minutely beneath their feet even before they saw the vast militia spanning the length and
breadth of the hillside that overlooked the battlefield.
"Is it …?"
"Oh, yeah," Ares breathed. The presence coalesced slowly behind them, and Ares was enveloped in a current of power hot enough to make him shiver. Sulfur slime coated the inside of his mouth, and although it was a taste he had once enjoyed lapping from Hope's tongue and cunt, he gagged as it slid down his throat and filled his head with a dull ache.
The cultured laughter, low and insidious, and imminently, sickeningly, familiar, made the skin on his balls crawl cravenly. "Bravo, Ares. Truly impressive, even to me."
And Ares turned to face the supreme commander of Dahak's infernal army.
When in the Underworld, Ares avoided Tartarus, staying in the circle formed by the Vale of Mourning, the Plain of Judgment and the Field of Asphodel. That was bad enough, with the endless emerald horizon striking the scorched rivers banks, and the ground suspiciously red and spongy under his boots. And it took gallons of nectar from Dionysus' secret stash before his skin turned supple again, lost that tight, bloodless feel. The dead, dry air below did that. Things lived in that air.
And Tartarus was worse.
He'd been to Tartarus once, as a boy. Part of Zeus' plan to make him a man: a week in the dark fortress, trapped there by the stinking fires of Phlegethon. For seven days and nights, smoky-eyed souls had swirled around him, fleshless fingers scratching, bone-white teeth tearing. He'd bled a river trying to slake their undead thirst, feed their rage, but still they came.
On the seventh night, when his prick of a father came for him, Ares couldn't speak, couldn't eat, couldn't think, just lay shivering. His mother brought in Asclepius to cure him, and the old healer had sat beside Ares' bed, shaking his grey head, one hand over Ares' heart. "Another hour, and it would've burst," he said quietly to Hera.
Ares didn't like to think about Tartarus. He still had a scar on his shoulder that ached in the winter, although gods weren't supposed to feel pain. Nothing, he vowed, would ever force him back inside that nightmare.
Unfortunately, here on a hill in Gaul, it seemed Tartarus had come to him.
Caesar, his former lover, stood before Ares, wearing the stain of death. His once-green eyes now glowed grey like the moon, blending with his silvery skin. And his teeth were sharp. Gathered behind him: an army of blood-hungry shadows, green serpents twining over transparent limbs.
None of this made sense. There was no fucking way Hades would open the gates of Tartarus...Unless Hades finally decided that rotting in the earth's core wasn't how he wanted to spend eternity.
"Finally figuring it out, Ares?" Caesar's smile seemed almost tender. "Once your uncle got a taste of Dahak's cock, he couldn't get enough. And when Dahak offered him the chance of some power under the sun...Well, you can see the result. Prepare to die, war god."
The pain sharpened in his shoulder. "You know, Caesar, not only were you an arrogant bastard in person, but you were a lousy fuck."
"At least," Caesar said, "I always knew who I was fucking."
For a second, Ares didn't understand, until he heard the throaty laugh beside him. Turning swiftly, sword drawn, he stared into Esus' golden eyes. Only now they were ringed with red flames. A vision flashed before him, of a red-haired young god bound to an altar, mouth open in his mother's scream, as the priests offered their new god Dahak a sacrifice, and washed the temple's marble floor in blood.
Not Esus. Never Esus. Only Dahak. The boyish features flickered, and for a second Ares glimpsed something else, something unformed and demonic, worse than the golems.
"Ares, how does it feel to know that you came for me? That I came inside you? But it's not really the first time, is it? When you fucked Hope, you fucked me. But this form pleases me more, although I think that my next incarnation will be the best of all. Imagine what I could do if I looked like you." He reached out a slim hand, and Ares tried to knock it back. But Dahak had the power of two gods, and easily caught a lock of Ares' hair, twisting it around one finger. The pressure pulled Ares' head back, and he dropped to his knees. "Open your mouth, Ares, so we can show everyone who is master now." With his free hand, he tugged out his massive cock. "Caesar, maybe you could encourage Ares to be more cooperative. One blow-job, then I'll find out what it's like to wear his skin."
Inside, Ares cursed, every nerve ending taut with loathing and rage. But there was nothing he could do. Nothing.
Caesar began to pry at his jaw with bony dry fingers. "You were pretty eager for his cock a few hours ago, Ares. No need to get all shy now."
I hate you, you miserable fuck, he thought. When I get the chance, I'm gonna rip your--
When Caesar's smug face suddenly went blank, then crumpled and withered like black ash, Ares felt only a perverse satisfaction. And you thought I was helpless, you whore's son. Then he heard the cool tones of his sister, even as what remained of Caesar was swept up by a brisk autumn breeze.
"Fair's fair, Dahak," Athena said, her armor glinting in the fading light. "You've got Esus' power as well as your own, so I'm here to even things out." The first strike of her great sword hit Dahak low in the belly, and he recoiled with a sulphurous hiss, his hold on Ares weakening.
With a painful shake of his head, Ares pulled free, jumping to his feet. His anger-guided blade sliced through Dahak's throat, sending the horned head flying like a white-winged owl over the cliff. As the body sank back to the black earth, its thick blood pouring out, a moan rippled through the ranks of spectral soldiers. They moved as one, like a cloud, falling over the still-quivering corpse to feast.
"Hope your girlfriend's not too pissed that you ditched her for this," Ares said.
"You should know her pretty well by now. You've been watching us every night." Athena grinned back, sheathing her sword. Then, more seriously, "I'm sorry. I should've listened. I didn't realize how serious it was until Hades' second in command came to my temple, saying that you were in danger. Mother's taken care of Hades, by the way. Rumor has it she cut off one of his balls, and has her eye on the other one."
So Minos, his green-skinned informant, came through for him. Sometimes those knowledge-fucks paid off. Maybe next time it'd be just for pleasure. His mother, too, surprised him. The old bitch could kick some ass when she had to. "I wouldn't put anything past her."
Beside them, the meal had ended, and howls of frustration rang on the wind.
Ares grimaced. "So what do we do about these guys? And the golems?"
"A little firepower should take care of them," Athena said.
The blaze turned the field red like Esus' blood-colored hair.
Later, they returned to Esus' silent temple. Beneath the fallen altar, they found a niche containing the crumpled body of the slain god. Another fire, this time under the stars, sent Esus back to his mother.
Then brother and sister returned to Olympus, Athena rubbing Ares' sore shoulder.
And somewhere in a valley beneath the moon, the horned head of a god landed in marshy earth, and began to grow...
If you have any questions, contact Thamiris