Continued from Wildfire Part 43

Part 44

"I didn't mean that." Lauren said.

She managed to wiggle out from under Ares, scooting backward across the altar.  Ares grinned, following her.  He pinned her down when she was fully supported by the black, marble altar.  He pressed his hips into her, allowing her to feel just how much he desired her.

"Are you saying that you wouldn't wish to dominate a god," he purred. "You wouldn't want to be in charge of what he does to you and what you allow him to feel?"

Lauren found it difficult to reply to his questions. Having him put it that way seemed quite appealing. She watched his smile deepen and growled in anger. She hated how he could keep reading what she was thinking.

"Why," he asked. "You have such delightful thoughts."

"They're private." she insisted.

"Then don't think so loudly."

His mouth cut off any further protest she had.  He soon felt her hands slide up his arms, caressing where her nails had stabbed him.  He was fully healed from all of her attacks, but liked how she seemed to try to soothe his pain.  He sat up suddenly, reaching down to remove his belts.  He smiled when she reached up to play with the laces of his vest.

"Would you like to help, my child?" he asked with a smile.

"Why would you think that?" she replied.

Ares grinned deeply.  He moved forward, allowing her better access.  He watched her as she unlaced his vest, pushing it open.  He caught her by the wrists when she tried to touch him.

"Not there, sweets," he said. "Lower."

Lauren knew what he wanted, but laid her hands on his thighs when he released her.  She caressed his legs, feeling the powerful muscles shift and ripple beneath the soft leather.  Her hands then moved to the insides, making him purr in delight.

"Lovely," he said. "But that's a tad too low."

"Ah, you wish my attention here?" she asked, laying her hands on his hips.

"You little tease.  You know what I want.  Touch me, my pet.  Just remember, the more you tease me, the more I tease you."

"I feel I owe you some teasing after what you put me through."

Ares grinned, realizing she was right.  He had to endure some torture from her after everything he had done.  He chuckled, liking the change in her.

"Very well, kitten," he said. "Tease me as you please."

"We'll have to reverse positions," she pointed out. "It's hard to tease what's so far away."

Ares chuckled again.  In a flash of light, he was lying beneath her.  He grabbed her when she nearly lost her balance at the abrupt change in position.  He slid his hands up her body, savoring the shivers he woke in her.  He cupped her breasts, stroking her nipples with his thumbs.

Lauren knocked his hands away, unable to think when he did that.  Her eyes then settled on a curious mark on his neck.  Reaching out, she turned his head to the side.  She saw bite mark that she had given him there and watched a smile crossing Ares' lips as he faced her once more.

"Heal that please," she said. "It's unsettling to be reminded of what I went through."

"Of course." Ares said, becoming serious once more.

The mark she had given him faded, then completely vanished from his skin.  He could understand her desire for that.  She was scared of what she had been reduced to without her full mental control.  He captured her wrists again, gently tugging her down onto him.

"It's all right, Lauren," he said softly. "I won't use that against you."

"Thank you." she said.

"I do have a request, though."


"Give me a bite like that," he said. "One that isn't induced by insanity.  I do so enjoy that."

Lauren freed her wrists and hit him hard across the chest, making him jump.  She wasn't amused with his words.  She tried to leave the altar, but he grabbed her hips, holding her still.  She glared at him, quite bothered by how he was being.

"I didn't mean that as it sounded," he said. "But you must realize that I am turned on very much by violence.  And that fight we had--"

Lauren slapped him hard across the face, cutting him off.  She freed herself from his grip and got off the altar.  She stalked off from him, going to the bedchamber.  Seeing the wreck she had left on the bed, she wanted to leave.  Ares appeared in the doorway as she turned to leave.  He approached her slowly, anger simmering in his eyes.

"I'm sorry," she said, breaking down into tears as she fell against him.

"I should be the one apologizing, Lauren," he said quietly, pulling her against him. "I'm being such an ass with you.  Please forgive me.  I speak before I think sometimes.  It's a bad habit I have difficulty controlling."

Lauren didn't respond to his words, concerning him.

"If you wish to leave me," he continued, his voice somber and serious. "I won't stop you.  I didn't mean to hurt you and want you to be happy."

"Ares...." she said finally.

"Yes, my dear?"

"Shut up."

"I apologize."

"Just shut up and help me to forget what I did."

Ares smiled.  He buried a hand in her hair, gently tugging her head back.  Leaning in, he kissed her soft and gently, stroking a hand up and down her back.  He slowly deepened the kiss, drawing her attention away from everything else but him and what he was doing. As he walked her toward the bed, he reached out with his mind and repaired the damage she had done to the sheets.  He paused and lifted her off her feet, pulling her right up against him, feeling her hands in his hair.  He adored how she enjoyed playing with his hair.

"Are you sure that this is your wish?" he asked against her lips.

"Yes," she said. "Please; I need this.  I need you."

Hearing that, Ares needed no further convincing.  He kissed her again, deeper than before as he pulled her tighter against him.  He moved to the edge of the bed, setting her down.  Reluctantly, he broke the kiss and stepped back.  He pulled his vest off, tossing it aside.  He then unlaced his pants, freeing his cock. He allowed her to see it closer than she had ever seen it before.  A smile crossed his lips as he saw the shock on her face.

"Now, don't do that," he scolded. "You'll make him feel bad."

"'Him'?" she smiled, trying not to laugh.

"Yes, him.  He has feelings too and he likes you.  So don't gawk at him like he's abnormal."

"I'm not.  I won't.  I'm sorry."

"It's all right, sweets.  I forgive you."

He drew closer, allowing her an even closer look at his cock.  As her shock at his size wore off, he could see fascination taking its place.  It was rare to have someone direct fascination to his cock.  He was usually met with shock, desire, and great hunger for it.  While there was desire in her eyes, she was more fascinated with him right there.  It amused him to have her react that way.

"Feel free to touch me, if you wish." he said.

"Don't you mean 'him'?" she teased.

Ares just smiled at her.  He supposed he deserved that little tease.  He captured one of her hands and brought it up to his cock.  He felt her resist, but could tell it was only a momentary resistance left over from her fear of him harming her mentally once more.  While he knew she could never be harmed in that way again, she wasn't.  He couldn't hold that against her.  Fear was a powerful drive.  He, himself, thrived on fear, but right now, that wasn't what he wanted right now, not from her.

"It's all right, Lauren," he said softly, releasing her hand. "I give you my word you won't be harmed in that way ever again.  Now, touch me.  I can tell that you wish to."

"How do you know what I want and don't want?" she asked.

"Because I know you."

"Oh really?"

"Mm-hmm.  And right now you wish to touch me."

Ares was right, Lauren did want to touch him.  She reached out and traced a finger down the underside of his cock.  A growling purr escaped Ares' lips at her single touch.  His skin was so soft right here, contrasting how hard his cock was.  Her attention then moved to the mushroom-shaped head.  She shivered when she sensed how much Ares was enjoying this.

"You can be a little rougher if you wish," he murmured. "And use more than just your finger. There's much to touch and a single, slender finger can't touch all of it."

Ares jumped when she pinched the sensitive underside of his cock.  He stepped back, glaring down at her. He knew instructing her was wrong, but he couldn't help it.  Her teasing was driving him crazy and he wanted more from her than she was giving him.

Lauren grinned, sensing his desire for more.  She crooked a finger at him, coaxing him to move back before her.  She reached out and traced the underside of his cock with a nail, making him shudder.  She then took her hand away and moved back away from him.  She moved into a comfortable position on the bed, giggling when she heard Ares' growl of irritation.

"All right, little one," he said. "I'll let you do as you wish."

He climbed onto the bed, sending his clothes and boots away.  He stretched out on his back on the bed beside her.  He allowed her to look him over and purred in delight when she slid her fingertips down his chest. He nearly tried to direct her touch, but stopped himself, knowing she might stop again.  He would endure whatever she wished to do to him.

Lauren spanked his hand away when he tried to touch her breasts.  She dipped her hand and ran her tongue up the side of his neck.  She nipped at his earlobe, hearing him growl low in his throat.  Her lips then moved to place kisses on his eyelids, nose, and then his lips.  Ares buried a hand in his hair, giving her a hungry kiss.  He couldn't let such an opportunity pass him by.

"You cheated." she scolded him, pulling away from him.

"Mm-hmm," he purred, meeting her gaze. "Kiss me again."

Unable to resist the lure of his wicked mouth, Lauren did as he asked.  She bit at his tongue, as it played with her own.  Ares growled against her and sucked her tongue into his mouth, caressing it with his own.  He nipped at the end as she withdrew it from his mouth.

"My teasing kitten," he purred as she leaned up. "Where to next?"

"I'm surprised you haven't learned that yet," she said.

"I'm giving you the privacy you wish.  I won't read your mind unless you wish it."

"Thank you."

"Of course.  Now, do continue your oh so lovely teasing." He then turned onto his side. "Or, you could allow me to please you and make up for my earlier behavior."

Lauren ran her fingers through his hair.  As much as his suggestion appealed to her, she wanted to make him pay for his teasing her.  She allowed her nails to lightly trace down his face and neck.  She increased the pressure as she traced them down his chest, coaxing him to lie on his back once more.  She flicked a nail back and forth across one nipple, making him hiss in delight.  As she tortured that one, she leaned in and took the other into her mouth.

"Lauren...." he whispered in pleasure.

Continuing to torment one nipple with her nails and fingers, Lauren teased the other with her mouth and tongue.  She sucked his nipple, feeling him struggling to remain still beneath her.  She moved her mouth to the other, continuing her torturing of him.  She could feel he adored her attention and hungered for more.

Ares buried a hand in her hair, silently encouraging her to continue.  He adored the little teaser he had awakened in her.  He gently tugged her mouth away from his nipple.  He pulled her mouth back to his, kissing her passionately once more.

"My little tease." he whispered against her lips.  He grinned when gave his lower lip a little bite. "My wicked, little tease." he corrected himself.

Lauren snickered at his description of her.  She kissed him again, but pulled away before he could react.  She shook his hand free, brushing his face with her hair.

Ares caught a lock of her hair, coiling it around his fingers.  He drew it closer, smelling the rosy scent on the copper strands.  He gently tugged on her hair, wanting her to come closer.  His eyes narrowed when she freed herself and sat up, moving out of his reach.

"Come back here, my wicked kitten." he said sexily.

"No." she smiled.

A grin crossed the god's lips.  He suddenly pounced onto her, knocking her down onto the bed on her back beneath him.  He grinned at her shocked look.  He nipped at the end of her nose, then moved his lips to her ear.

"Then I'll come to you." he murmured.

"Unfair." she said.


"I wasn't done."

Ares leaned up, giving her a look of question. "You weren't?"

"No.  You're greedy and cut off my fun."

"Aw, my poor baby." He pressed a kiss to her forehead. "Very well," he said. "I'll let you play some more."

Ares turned with her, reversing their positions.  He shivered when her hair slid across his face and neck, tickling the sensitive areas.  He groaned when she sat up, placing delicious pressure on his cock.  He grumbled when she moved off him and to the bed.

"Touch me." he purred.

Lauren reached out and laid a hand on his abdomen, sliding it downward.  Her fingers brushed the very tip of his cock, making him murmur in pleasure.  She felt moisture beginning to leak from the tiny slit.  Her finger involuntarily traced the very tip, spreading the moisture over the hot skin.  Ares' dark eyes watched her finger's actions intently.  They then moved to her face.

"Taste me." he murmured.

Bringing that finger to his lips, Lauren licked it clean.  She shuddered at the inviting salty-sweet taste.  She felt Ares' pleasure when she tasted him. She took her finger away, looking back down at him. She watched a deep grin cross his face.

"Come here, my kitten," he said, crooking a finger at her. "Taste me some more."

"You certainly are a greedy god." she scolded.


Lauren smiled and leaned in, placing a kiss on his abdomen.  Her tongue darted out to tease his skin, feeling his muscles ripple beneath his soft skin.  Her mouth moved downward, soon feeling the head of his cock bump into the underside of her chin.  She craned her neck downward, and licked the "frosted" tip of his hard length.  Ares shivered beneath her, murmuring in delight.  He buried a hand in her hair as she moved down a little to give herself better access to him.

Ares liked this change in Lauren.  He could tell that her naiad heritage was becoming stronger within her. Her playful nymph side was definetly showing through. He purred as she teased the sensitive ridge of his cock with her tongue teeth.  His hand tightened in her hair, holding her in place.

Nibbling her way down his cock, Lauren felt Ares squirm under her.  She nuzzled his balls, making him gasp as her hair slid over the head.  She captured one of his balls in her mouth, sucking it gently.  A deep groan told her she was teasing him there just right. His fingers clenched in her hair.  Her mouth moved to the other ball, making him groan again as she sucked and licked it.

"Ah Lauren," he murmured. "I adore how you tease."

Lauren chuckled and moved back up his length, allowing her tongue to dart out to taste him.  Finally, she took the head of his cock into her mouth.  She sucked at him, making him groan as her tongue lashed the sensitive skin.  She shivered, picking up on his pleasure once more.  She could feel how much he enjoyed this attention.  His legs pressed into her sides to hold her still as she started to squirm.  His pleasure was beginning to torture her as she felt his pleasure as if it were her own.

"Squirm later, sweet child," Ares said. "It distracts you from your teasing of me."

"I can't, " she said, taking her mouth from him. "If you didn't use your own pleasure against me, I wouldn't squirm."

"I like to share.  But if your wish is to have real pleasure, I can give you that too."

Ares grabbed Lauren and guided her to where she was lying on top of him with her mound near his mouth.  He grinned when he felt her surprise.  He lifted his head, placing a thick pillow beneath it, before pulling her closer to him to taste her.  Her soft moan drew a deep grin from him.

~You must do your part, too.~ he said in her mind.

"I know." she whispered as he returned to his "tongue lashing" of her.

Lauren took his cock back into her mouth, trying not to squirm as his tongue touched every sensitive area. She moaned around his cock, taking it in deeper.  As when they were together before, she could feel his pleasure as well as her own.  He was allowing her to feel what he did; knowing it would make her squirm. It allowed him to reach all the sensitive creases of her sex.

Ares held Lauren still as she tried to free herself from his attention.  He teased and tormented her clit, murmuring in delight against her as she took his cock in deeper.  He gave a few gentle thrusts when she choked on him, slowly easing his way into her throat. He nearly moaned aloud at the tightness that greeted him there.  He thrust his tongue into her, tasting her honeyed essence once more.  Reaching up, he caressed her buttocks, then dipped a finger between the yielding halves to stroke her anus.  He groaned when she inadvertently bit him in response, nearly pushing him over the edge.

Lauren slid her mouth up and down his length, feeling him growing longer and harder.  She let out a whimpering moan as Ares slickened his finger and stroked her anus with increasing pressure, while his tongue slid in and out of her.  His finger pushed into her, making her bite him again.

Startled, Ares groaned deep in his throat, spilling his seed into her mouth.  The taste of him, combined with the feel of his own orgasm, pushed Lauren over the edge herself.  Her scream was muffled around the thickness of his cock.  Ares lapped at her essence, continuing to move his finger in and out of anus.  As the last shudders of his cock faded away, he pulled his finger from her and then pulled her away from him.  He drew her to him and kissed her deeply, sharing her taste with her as he got a taste of his own seed.

"Lovely." he purred against him.

"I don't believe you," she said incredulously, feeling his cock hardening against her.

"I am a god, my sweet.  We gods recover much faster than your average mortal man."

"Yes, but are all gods as insatiable as you?"

"Probably not."

Turning onto his back, Ares pulled her on top of him. He smiled at her as she sat up.  He lifted her up onto her knees, positioning his cock.  He then pushed her down onto him, making her moan as he forced her open to accommodate his size.  His cock stretched her, surprising her with his painless entrance.

"It only hurts once, my kitten." he informed her.

"Good." she said.

"I suppose you'd kill me if it did?"

"You got it, war god."

Ares chuckled.  He rocked his hips against her, making her gasp in pleasure.  Her hair tickled his thighs as she leaned her head back.  He reached up, taking her breasts in his hands.

"Ride me." he purred.

Lauren grabbed his wrists, pulling them away.  Ares smiled and moved his hands back to her hips.  He knew what she wanted and would happily give it to her.  He guided her up and down on his cock, picking up on the pleasure he was giving her.  He blocked his from her completely, letting her feel just her own pleasure. He wanted her to know the pleasure her own body was capable of.

Ares hissed when she grabbed his arms, her nails biting into his skin.  His fingers bit into her flesh, moving her faster on him.  She gripped him tighter, drawing blood as her nails pierced his skin.  That pain only heightened his pleasure.  He groaned softly as she tightened around him.

Unable to take the pleasure anymore, Lauren let out a sharp cry.  She collapsed forward onto Ares, hearing him groan deep in his throat, before his seed filled her, scorching her insides.  She felt Ares' lips brush the top of her head.  She turned her head to the side, rest it on his chest.  He brushed her hair aside, tickling the sensitive area behind her ear.

"See," he smiled. "No harm done."

Lauren looked at her hands, feeling a wet and sticky substance there.  She saw blood on her fingers, running down from her nails.  She then looked at his arms where she had grabbed him.  She saw the crescent wounds her nails had given him.  They were already almost fully healed, but they still concerned her a little.

"No harm, huh?" she asked.

"Don't worry about that," he said, moving her to the bed beside him. "You caused me such delightful pleasure with those little marks."

Lauren's attention moved from him to his vest on the floor.  She saw a small, light-colored pouch lying in a fold of it.  Her curiosity drew Ares' attention.  He knew what she saw.

"Go ahead," he said. "Go have a look."

He slid his hand down her back as she moved across him to the bedside.  He gave her buttocks a warm squeeze before she got out of reach.  His lips curled in a grin when she turned and gave him a glare.  His eyes roved over her as she got up and moved to the vest.

Lauren crouched down, knowing full well that Ares had wanted her to bend over.  She didn't trust what Ares might do if she bent over and gave him a target for his lusts.  She picked up a velvet pouch from his vest, feeling something hard inside it.  As she straightened up, she was grabbed from behind and pulled onto the bed against Ares' strong chest.  She shivered when his lips buried in her neck and again when he nibbled at the sensitive skin there.

"What is this?" she asked, indicating the pouch's contents.

"That you'll have to learn for yourself." Ares said against her neck.

Opening the pouch, Lauren peeked inside, unsure of what might jump out at her.  Her eyes widened and her face lit up when she saw what was inside.  Turning, she threw her arms around Ares' neck and pulled him close, kissing him on the cheek before giving him a tight hug.  She heard him chuckle as his arms slipped around her, returning her enthusiastic hug.

Abruptly, as if realizing something horrible, Lauren pulled away from him.  She punched him hard across the face, taking him by surprise.  He fell into an ungraceful sprawl across the bed, staring up at her in shock.

"You big jerk," she growled. "Did you have this all this time?"

"Yes." he said in a low, apologetic tone.

"Why?  Why did you keep it from me?  Why didn't you give it back to me when you first saw me?"

"I needed it."

"For what?"

"To learn more about you than I could without it."


Her shocked whisper concerned him.  He could tell that it bothered her to wonder about what all he may have done while he had possession of her necklace.  Raising his hands before him in supplication, he carefully sat up.  He cleaned himself and her up then dressed them both with a thought.  He knew that with one little mistake, he might have destroyed everything between them.

"I'm sorry," he said, unsure of what else to say to her.

"You could have just asked me if you could borrow it instead of stealing it from me," she said, trying to control her anger. "This is all that I have of my mother's.  I thought it was gone forever.  How dare you put me through the pain I suffered when I thought it was gone forever."

"I'm sorry.  I didn't know how you would take my request.  I didn't think you would allow me to borrow something so precious to you."

"You'll never know now."

Lauren angrily snatched the necklace from the pouch. She slapped the velvet pouch into his hands, unable to believe his audacity.  She wondered if he would have given her necklace back if she hadn't seen that pouch sitting in his vest.  It angered her to think about that.  As she was about to put the necklace back on, a mental echo from it filled her mind with suffocating force.

"By the gods!" she gasped, grabbing the side of her head.

She doubled over, nearly falling completely onto the bed.  She tried to drop the necklace, but her hand wouldn't respond.  Instead, it tightened around the phoenix charm, strengthening the echo she received from it.  She looked up at Ares, silently begging for his help.  Her expression was one of utter shock and terror.

"Lauren, drop the necklace." Ares said, knowing what was happening.

~Stay away from there,~ a voice called in Lauren's mind. ~You'll be killed!~

~Stay away from me!~ a second, more frantic voice cried.

A piercing scream filled Lauren's mind, making her jump back in panic.  She screamed when she saw deep, ugly burns form on her arms, spreading from her elbows to her hands, becoming worse and worse with each passing second.

"Lauren," Ares said, grabbing her face in his hands and forcing her to look only at him. "Block it out of your mind.  It's not real."

"I can't!" she managed to gasp out.

Grabbing the necklace, Ares ripped it out of her grasp.  He grabbed her when she collapsed forward. Whatever she had picked up from the necklace left the moment contact with it was gone.  Setting the necklace aside a good distance from Lauren, he pulled her close, feeling her beginning to cry.

"Shh," he soothed her. "You're all right, Lauren. It's all over now."

"I hate you," she said in a muffled voice.

"I know."

"You made my mind hate me."

"I did not.  Your mind adores you as I do.  It just doesn't know its own strength."

"It's all your fault."

"I know.  I'm evil and mean and should be torn apart by a gorgeous kitten like you."

Stretching out on his back, Ares let her lay beside him with her face pillowed in his chest.  He stroked her hair and back, allowing her to rest against her. He held her securely, not allowing her to move.  He knew if she got up, she'd be on the floor in a second.  He could sense that the force of that vision had completely knocked out her equilibrium.

"Kill me, please," she moaned against him. "My head is spinning and feels like one of your wars is stuck in it."

Gently, Ares moved her to the bed on her stomach.  He moved her necklace off the bed completely with a thought, wanting to keep her from accidentally touching it and being mentally assaulted again.  He knew it would harm her much more deeply if she was hit with another vision before she recovered from this one.  His being with her had strengthened her powers much more than he had first thought.  It had also left her mind hypersensitive in some areas.  Visions seemed to be the main thing affected.  They hit her quite hard now.

"I can't do that," he said. "You're too lovely to kill.  And my father taught me to never kill beautiful 'kittens'."

"What happened to 'little tigress'?" she asked.

"I think 'kitten' suits you better.  And you are very much a kitten."

Ares grinned when he heard her groan.  He pressed a kiss to her temple, gently soothing the pain from her skull with his power.  He did it as carefully as possible so not to harm her further.  He moved her hair aside, letting his mouth trace downward.  He could feel that despite his healing her migraine-type headache, her balance was still off and knew she would fall if she tried to get up and move away from the bed.  She needed to remain on the bed a little while longer.  He only hoped she wouldn't try to leave before she was completely recovered.

"Tell me what you saw." he said, leaning up.

"I don't remember," she said.

"Yes, you do.  You just want to forget about what you saw.  It won't go away, Lauren.  It will only continue to bother you until you speak of it."

That seemed to convince her to speak.

"I heard someone running, trying to escape something chasing them," she said. "A voice warned them to stop, but the other wouldn't listen.  Oh gods!  Then I heard the most awful scream and saw terrible burns covering my arms."

Ares laid a hand on her shoulder when she curled up in a fetal position.  He knew she was absolutely terrified of what she had experienced.  He also knew what she had picked up from the necklace.  She had experienced the last moments of her mother's life.  He squeezed her shoulder, lending his support to her, knowing she needed it now more than ever.

"What was it?" she asked in a fearful whisper.

"It was the past.  A memory of someone who once lived." he explained.


"Your mother."

Lauren fell silent when he said that.  It shocked her to know she had just heard something from her mother. Her fear rose when she thought about what exactly she had heard.  It had sounded like her mother had been scared of what was chasing her and something dreadful had happened to her.  She struggled up into a sitting position and faced Ares.  Her head spun at the movement and she nearly fell back onto the bed.

"My mother?" she asked in confusion.

"Yes," he said. "She died as the result of a tragic accident.  Your necklace showed that to you because she was wearing it when she died."

"How did she die?"

"She ran into the flames of a dying phoenix."

"Dear gods."

Lauren covered her mouth with her hand as tears ran down her face.  Ares drew her to him, pulling her down across his lap in his arms.  He held her close, hoping to soothe her pain.  He knew how painful this was for her to learn.  He only hoped he could help her get over the pain this caused her.

"Who was the man I heard calling to her?" she asked.

"Apollo." Ares replied.  He knew he had to truthfully answer whatever questions she asked, no matter how he felt about them.

"He killed my mother?"

"Not purposely.  He tried to prevent her death, but she ran from him and right into those flames."

"That bastard!  He's still responsible.  He chased her there.  He caused her to die."

"I know."

Ares drew her closer, keeping her from freeing herself from his grip.  He didn't want her to harm herself in her anger with his brother.  He could feel her balance stabilizing, but it was still off enough to make her fall if she stood.

"You don't have to worry about Apollo bothering you for now," he said. "He's imprisoned in my temple at the moment.  Only Hephaestus or I can release him."

"Good," she said. "Leave him there."

"I will as long as I can."

"Tell me about my mother.  Where is she now?"

"The Elysian Fields.  Running into the flames of a phoenix as she did wouldn't have been viewed as suicide by my uncle, sweets.  He saw it as a tragic accident.  He allowed her to pass into the Fields."

"I'm glad."

Ares felt a tear hit his arm.  He kissed her cheek, knowing how difficult it must be for her to discuss this.  He lowered her down into his lap completely, feeling her hand grab onto his knee.  He stroked her hair, feeling her relax against him.

"You went to speak to my mother's spirit, didn't you," she asked. "That's why you needed my necklace."

"Yes." he said.

"Is she happy?"

"No one is ever unhappy in the Elysian Fields.  All who reside there are free from want and the pain of the living world."

"I'm sorry for how I reacted before...."

"No need to apologize, Lauren.  I understand your reaction.  I should have given you back your necklace sooner.  I would have, but something kept delaying me from doing so."

"I forgive you."

"Good.  I couldn't live the rest of my life knowing you hadn't forgiven my boo-boo."

Lauren giggled at his words.  She was beginning to feel much better.  Many questions were beginning to form in her mind as she thought about her mother.  She only hoped Ares knew the answers and was willing to give them to her.

"Did you learn anything about me from her?" she asked.

"Yes," he said. "Your powers come from her."

"Which ones?"

"Both.  Your ability to attract men and your empathic senses.  Only yours are far stronger than hers."


"Yes.  You also inherited a good portion of her mental shielding and strength."

"Do you know why I am like I am?"


Lauren could feel that answering that question had made Ares uncomfortable.  She paid that little heed. She wanted to know about her mother and why she was how she was.  Ares was the only one who could tell her who and what she was and she knew that despite his discomfort, he would tell her what she wanted to know.  She started to sit up to look at Ares, but her head spinning as it was quickly convinced her otherwise. Ares' hand gently stroked her arm, convincing her to stay put.

"I think I'll stay here," she said.

"Good idea." Ares said.

"I know it bothers you, but please tell me, do you know what I am?"

"Yes.  You are the child of a nymph.  A naiad to be precise.  Your mother was my half-sister, by my father."

"That means that you are my...."

"I'm your uncle."

Lauren's eyes went wide in shock.  She dashed out of Ares' grip, nearly leaping to the far side of the bed.  She grabbed the bedpost when she nearly fell to the floor.  Her attention flew back to Ares' surprised face.

"You're my uncle?" she asked, sounding aghast.

"Yes." he said simply.

"I just had...  With my uncle!"


"Incest isn't appealing to me."

"My mother and father are brother and sister.  Hades and Persephone, like us, are uncle and niece.  Incest is quite normal with our kind.  Don't worry about it. Even the Titans practiced it.  If they hadn't, you and I wouldn't be here and most of our family wouldn't either."


Lauren's arguments failed her as Ares approached her. Why was she so fiercely attracted to Ares?  He was her uncle.  That was wrong.  It was very wrong to her.

Ares knew the only reason she was staying on the bed, letting him approach her, was the dizziness she was still experiencing.  He could feel how uncomfortable his admission had made her.  But he could also feel that her attraction to him was as strong as ever.

"Ares, please go away," she said feebly.

"I'm the same god you fell in love with the first time you saw me." he pointed out, feeling that was very true.

"But you're my...  I can't be with you like that anymore."

"Why not?"

"It's wrong.  I can't--"

Ares' lips cut her off.  His hands held her face very gently, giving her a chance to get away if she wished.  She resisted briefly, but it quickly failed her.  Her attraction to him was far stronger than the voice of reality in her mind.  Taking his hands away, he curled his arms around her waist, pulling her to him.  There was no more resistance left in her.  She ignored what her mind was telling her as her desire for him took over.

"Why do I want you so much when I know it's wrong," she asked, breaking the kiss. "I'm related to you.  I shouldn't feel this way about my uncle, should I?"

"Stop thinking with your mind," Ares said. "Don't listen to what anyone else told you.  Do what you want to do."

Lauren pulled back to look at him, seeming to think over what he had just said. "Incest isn't wrong when it's in the Olympian family?"

"No.  It's kind of a tradition.  Only in the mortal world does it cause problems."

Lauren tried not to think about what she had been taught concerning incest.  When she had learned the facts of life at Apollo's temple, she and the other priestesses had been taught that incest and same sex partners were meant only for the gods.  Ares was contradicting everything she had ever been taught. Knowing that she had Olympian blood seemed to make it right, but she couldn't help feeling that this was wrong.

Ares felt her shifting opinions.  He pulled her back to him, kissing her passionately.  He gave a good argument to ignore what she had been taught.  He didn't care that they were related.  It didn't matter to him.  All he knew was that he wanted her and that she wanted him.  He knew that she did.  If she didn't, she wouldn't have been fighting her studies so fiercely.

"Tell me truthfully," he said, pulling back. "Do you want me?"

"Yes." she said.

"Does it matter that I am your uncle?"

"I don't know.  It does, but I can't help feeling the way I do for you.  I wish I knew what to believe."

"You have an Olympian heritage.  You are entitled to be with whomever you want, whenever you want.  If you wish to be with your uncle, brother, father, son, whoever, it doesn't matter.  It's all been done, sweets, believe me.  Cupid himself was playing touchy-feely with his mother while he was still a baby.  As I said, incest is almost a tradition in our family.  Whatever arguments you have against it, think about that and how you yourself feel about it before you bother to think about what everyone else has told you."

Ares' argument made a lot of sense to Lauren.  It made her believe that she could do exactly what she wanted, even if her studies had taught her otherwise.  She jumped when Ares turned her on her back beneath him. Before she could offer one sound of protest, he was convincing her with pleasurable "words" on how wrong the rules she had been taught at Apollo's temple were.  She soon threw out all her protests against being with her uncle and responded in kind to what he was doing to her.  By the time they had collapsed into a tangle of limbs, Ares had her convinced to seeing his side of the argument.

Part 45

Instead of appearing in her stronghold, Athena appeared in one of Ares' temples.  Her thoughts had been so centered on her brother; she had inadvertently brought herself to a temple of his.  She sighed when she saw where she was.  She was about to leave, when she saw a curious sight.

"Apollo," she asked, seeing her brother bound to Ares' throne. "What are you doing there?"

"Trying to get comfortable." he muttered.

Athena went to him, looking at the bindings holding him.  She could tell Ares had intended Apollo to stay put.  These were some of Hephaestus' strongest creations.  She wasn't sure how to free Apollo without Hephaestus' help.

"What did you do?" Athena asked.

"Went after the wrong girl, apparently." he replied.

That was expected from Apollo.  He did that a lot with his lusts for women.  He was just as bad as Ares when it came to that.  Athena briefly wondered if it was Lauren whom Apollo had gone after.  It would explain why he was bound to Ares' throne with such strong chains.

"Was she a redhead?" Athena asked.

"Yes and very gorgeous." Apollo replied, smiling as he thought of Lauren.

That cinched it.  It had to be Lauren who Apollo had gone after.  There was only one way to be fully certain.

"Did she look like this?" Athena asked.

She waved her hand and an image of Lauren appeared.  Seeing the sudden shift in Apollo's expression, she knew this had to be the one.

"Uh-huh," Apollo said, unable to mask his interest. "That's the lovely Ares denied me."

He grumbled when the image vanished.

"Who is she?" Athena asked.

"Why?" he replied.

"I wish to remove her from Ares' influence."


Apollo sounded much too pleased with her plans.  It made Athena wonder if this was such a good idea.  Her only reason for not leaving right now was that he might be able to give her the information she needed and couldn't get anywhere else without endangering Lauren further.  She decided to leave Apollo chained; just to make sure he didn't interfere in her plans and she got everything straightened out.

"Who is she?" Athena repeated.

"Her name is Lauren," Apollo said. "She was kidnapped by Ares because he is in great lust for her."

"That's what I thought.  Thank you, Apollo."

She turned to leave.

"Wait, don't leave yet," he called, making Athena turn back to face him. "Aren't you going to help me out?"

"Maybe later," she said. "I have more pressing matters to attend to right now."

Apollo let out a roar of anger when Athena vanished.  He was never going to get out of this at this rate.  What was worse was that the image that Athena had shown him of Lauren had sent a rush of desire through him and he couldn't reach his cock to quell it.  He fell back in the throne with a sigh, wondering if he was ever going to get free and get his revenge on his siblings for what they had done to him.


Athena reappeared in her stronghold; happy with the information she had gotten from Apollo.  The woman that Ares had as his prisoner was Lauren.  While it was terrible what he had done to her, Athena now had something to use against Ares.  Sirus might even be willing to help her now if he knew what Ares had done to Lauren.  Even though this was a variation of blackmail, she had little choice.  She might need his help in order to help free Lauren from Ares' clutches; especially since they were still in the Halls of War and she would be at a disadvantage there against Ares.

Her only problem was that this might be more difficult task to convince Sirus to help her against Ares than she believed.  She was still confident she had a good chance of getting his help.  The man seemed to hate Ares with a passion and the news about Lauren might be the catalyst she needed to turn him to her side.  Her only trouble right now was finding him and convincing him about what had happened to Lauren.  Wherever he was, she greatly doubted that he would be very happy to see her.


"Why did you attack Lauren?" Sirus asked Toreth.

"She attacked one of my men," Toreth said. "He's lucky he didn't lose his arm from the bolt she put in his shoulder."

Sirus knew how good an archer Lauren was.  The man was lucky he didn't lose his life.  She could put a bolt into a rabbit's heart, if she had to, and do little damage to its hide.  None of the animals she hunted suffered when she shot them.  She killed them instantly with her first shot.  She could be just a lethal with a person if she had to be.

"It's more than that," Sirus said. "You wouldn't have expended so much energy going after on girl."

"You're sure of that, are you?" Toreth asked.

"Prove me wrong then, Greek."

Toreth just glared at Sirus.  The man was right, though.  There was more to his going after Lauren than her simply attacking Sorell.  He didn't know why he was telling Sirus this, but decided to go ahead and tell him.

"Because she's a woman," he said simply.

"Excuse me?" Sirus replied, not expecting that answer.

"She's a woman.  I've had nothing but problems with them all my life."

"I see.  So your having bad relationships with women gives you the right to nearly kill a girl who was probably only defending herself against one of your sex-crazed jackals?"

Toreth made a lunge for Sirus through the bars.  The Viking was just out of his reach.  The sudden movement aggravated his injuries and he stumbled back, groaning softly in pain.  He growled when he saw the amused look on Sirus' face.

"I was born of an Amazon," Toreth explained. "Except for my mother, they all wanted to either kill me or make me a slave of theirs because I was male.  My mother sent me to live with my father in his village to save my life.  Years later, my mother's tribe attacked the village and wiped it out.  Again, I was going to be killed or taken captive to be a slave.  I just barely managed to escape with my life.  Ever since then, I've had nothing but trouble with women. Even your precious Lauren has caused me problems."

"You're breaking my heart." Sirus said sarcastically.

Toreth glared at Sirus.  He wished he could get to him and take his revenge on him.  He wanted to kill this man for all he had done.  Lauren was another person he wanted to get to.  But right now, he was unsure of what he would do if he did.  He didn't trust himself to even be around her.  He may not have killed her, but he would make her wish that he had.

Lauren was responsible for his being cast out of Ares' army.  She was also partially responsible for his current condition.  It made him wonder if she had coaxed Ares with her womanly wiles to have him beaten to a pulp and imprisoned.  He should have wanted to kill her outright, but a lingering loyalty to her father stilled his desire to kill her.

Sirus turned away from Toreth and went to sit down on the cot in his cell.  The ex-general's story about being a rejected child was no excuse, in his eyes, for what had done.  He wouldn't be swayed from his desire to kill this man for his attack on Lauren.  Nothing would justify that.

Confusion crossed his face when Toreth suddenly fell to the floor, unconscious.  He then saw what had caused the man to collapse.  Athena was behind Toreth.  She lowered her hand, meeting the Viking's fierce gaze.

"You may wish to use your powers to do more than just knock me out, Athena." he said.

Athena walked through the cell bars like a ghost.  She could tell Sirus less than impressed the displays. She gave him wide berth, knowing how angry he was with her.

"I must speak with you," she said.

"Why?" he hissed.

"Your friend--Lauren.  I know where she is."

"I won't believe anything you have to say.  So you can just save your breath."

"One thing you had better learn about me, Sirus, is that I do not lie."

"Fine.  What about her?"

"Ares has her."

Sirus' expression filled with rage.  Having more than one individual tell him that had him believing it even more.  He hadn't wanted to believe it, knowing how Ares was with those he wanted.  There were few men who could resist her beauty and not want her.  He had enough trouble doing that himself.  He glared at Athena, wanting to know what she wanted for giving him this knowledge.

"Why tell me this," he asked. "What do you want?

"I want to save her life." Athena said.


"As unpleasant as it may be for you to hear..."

Sirus' expression darkened further.  He wasn't one who enjoyed having his bad news sugarcoated.  He liked people to be blunt when it came to bad news.  Any other way was like pulling teeth to get one answer.

"Talk now, Athena," he said. "Or I'll tear it out of you."

Athena could tell he was quite serious about doing that very thing to her.  And she wasn't sure if her powers were enough to stop him.

"Ares has driven her mad," she said.

Sirus was on his feet and across the cell in at an alarming pace.  He grabbed Athena and slammed her into the cell bars, startling her.  He was a lot stronger than she had expected.

"You're lying," he snarled. "I don't know what you are trying to pull here, but how dare you lie like this."

A gasp escaped him as Athena forced her way into his mind.  She allowed him to see what had happened when she went to the Halls of War and encountered Lauren. At the moment she didn't care that she was allowing him to see Lauren completely nude.  She didn't care right now.  He had to know all that had happened.  She stumbled when Sirus suddenly released her and backed away.  She cut off her link to his mind, knowing he had gotten the point.

"It's the truth, Sirus," she said. "I'm sorry."

"Save your sympathy," Sirus hissed. "If you had just allowed me to go to Corinth and not accused me of being Ares' warrior, I could have prevented this. You're as guilty as your brother is."

"I would prevented it if I could."

"If you want to make me feel better, you will free her and repair the damage done to her."

"I can't."


"She's in the Halls of War.  Ares' power is superior to mine while he's there.  I can't help you until he brings her out of there himself."

Sirus snarled in anger and turned, stalking to the far side of the cell away from her.  He was furious with this knowledge about Lauren.  He was now more fiercely determined to have his revenge on Ares.


In the throne room, Strife sat silently, contemplating why he was trapped there.  It wasn't right that he could appear there and have access to his power, yet he couldn't leave with them.  Was the same force that was directing the storm trapping him there too?  He was inclined to agree with that.

Sensing the presence of a relative, Strife looked up. When he sensed who it was and where they were, he leapt to his feet.  He faced the king, seeing he had Iphicles' complete attention.

"What?" Iphicles asked.

"Athena's here." Strife said.


"She's here and with Sirus."


"Is that all you can say?"


"Sirus lied to you," Drake said. "He is allied with Athena."

"I'm going to find out what is going on."

"Is that a good idea, your highness?" Pylon asked.

"I don't give a damn if it is or not.  I want answers!"

"I'm going with you." Strife said, getting up.

Iphicles didn't argue with him.  If Strife was showing bravery, one didn't argue with it.  He wasn't known for his bravery.  The king also figured it might be a good idea to have the godling with him.  He stood and moved to leave the room.  Strife laid his hand on Iphicles' shoulder and teleported them to just outside the dungeon.

"Thanks for the warning." Iphicles grumbled.

"Sorry." Strife replied in a smallish voice.

Iphicles noted Strife had left his guards behind.  At the moment, he didn't care.  He was on a mission to learn the truth and didn't really care about the danger right now.

The two entered the dungeon and saw that the guards there were all out cold.  Strife stayed close to Iphicles as they headed toward the cells.  He knew he was no match for his aunt, but he could at least help keep the king a little safer than he would be if he came here alone.


Both Athena and Sirus turned to face Iphicles and Strife as they entered.  Sirus was a little less irritated to see them than he had been when Athena had arrived.  His dark gaze fell on Strife, who soon felt his courage flying away from him.

"What are you doing here, Athena," Iphicles asked. "Shouldn't you be planning a pointless war?"

"Watch your tone, Iphicles," she said. "Ares may tolerate your disrespect, but I won't."

"Then you had better leave.  I have nothing but disrespect left right now."

Athena's eyes narrowed.  She threw her arm out, sending a bolt of lightning his way.  Strife shoved Iphicles out of the way and was hit by the bolt.  He was thrown into the far wall of the dungeon and collapsed to the floor.  His act of bravery impressed the three in the room.  None were expecting him to purposely let himself get hit by a blast he could have easily avoided.

"I'm use to them," he muttered, getting up. "I think I'm beginning to enjoy getting clobbered by them."

Sirus couldn't help snickering at that.  Only Strife would enjoy getting blasted across the room.  He was still impressed that this sniveling coward actually did have a backbone in his frail-looking body.  He watched as Strife went and helped Iphicles up.

"You all right?" he asked.

"I'm fine," the king said. "Thanks."

"I don't have to explain my plans to you, mortal," Athena said, teleported to outside the cell. "My business with Sirus is just that--mine."

"Then would you like to explain to me about why you're planning an attack on my kingdom when I've done nothing to you?"


"You just want to start a war because you're bored and figure attacking me is the best way to stick it to your brother.  Is that it?"

"Oh great." Strife muttered.

He grabbed Iphicles and yanked him out of the way of another lightning blast from the war goddess.  He truly hoped the king would run out of insults before she brought the whole castle down onto them.

"Athena, stop this," Sirus called behind them. "Leave him alone.  Your fight is with Ares, not with Iphicles."

"It's with both of them." she countered angrily.

"Which is more important to you?  Slapping around a king trying to defend his kingdom?  Or punishing your brother, who truly deserves it?"

Athena lowered her hand before she sent another blast of lightning at Iphicles.  Sirus was right.  She knew she had better work on freeing Lauren first before she did anymore with Iphicles.  If Lauren wasn't completely lost to the world now, she soon would be if she remained with Ares for much longer.

Strife moved to stand in between Iphicles and Athena. He wasn't completely convinced that she was finished throwing around lightning bolts.  He wanted to keep the king safe.  He would take as many hits as he had to in order to keep Iphicles from becoming a pile of ashes.  He knew if that happened, he would be the next to become one as soon as Ares found out what had happened to his lover.

Behind him, Strife sensed something odd.  Turning he saw an unusual aura around the king.  He got a very confused look on his face.  This was new.  Since when did the king glow like that?

"Uh, Iphicles," he said. "You're glowing."

"Well, thanks for the compliment, Strife," Iphicles said. "But I think there are more important things to worry about right now."

"No, I mean you're really...glowing."


Just as he asked that, the glow brightened and engulfed Iphicles.  Strife jumped back from the intense heat coming off of the glow.  When it was gone, so was Iphicles.  This wasn't good.  Reaching out, the godling moved his arm back and forth, as if to prove the king was gone.

"Where did you send him, Strife?" Athena asked.

"Me," Strife asked, facing her. "I can't teleport out of here myself.  What makes you think I could send anybody anywhere?  And if I could, wouldn't you think I'd be poppin' myself out of here first?"

"Stop babbling and tell me what you did with him."

"Hard of hearing?  I DON'T KNOW WHERE HE IS!"

Athena picked him up and tossed him aside.  Strife hit the bars of the cell and fell to the floor with a groan.  The Goddess of War moved over to where Iphicles had been standing.  She could feel an energy signature there.  It wasn't Strife's power that she sensed here.  She didn't know whose it was.  Someone had just snatched away the king and she didn't know who had done it or where he had been taken.  She sighed.  This was just what she needed at this moment--a new problem.

Part 46

Ares left Lauren to sleep in his bed as he went to the throne room to think.  He knew she needed to rest after all she had been through and some of his "thinking" might awaken her. Her balance had almost been fully restored by the time she had fallen asleep in his arms, but he wanted to make sure it was completely recovered by uninterrupted sleep.  He had come close to losing her forever and didn't want to have that happen again.  Although he knew there was no way she could ever suffer a similar "down-grading" to insanity again, he didn't want to have anything just as bad happen to her and cause him to lose her forever.

"If Athena has her way," he muttered. "I may very well lose her.  Hopefully she won't have enough pull with dad to steal Lauren away from me.  I'll make her pay if she even tries to take Lauren away.  She's had enough misery in her life without Athena taking her away from where she wishes to be."

Lauren, Ares knew, wanted to be with him.  Only her fear of what might happen to her while with him made her wish to leave him.  Once she was separated from that fear, a totally different woman emerged.  She reminded him very much of the teasing nymphs he often played with.  She definitely leaned toward her naiad heritage when it came to playing with him.  She was very much a teaser when encouraged just right.  And he very much enjoyed bringing that out in her.

Ares just hoped that Morpheus and his brothers would be kind to Lauren and give her some pleasant dreams. He could tell that despite the amiable sleep she had been able to get, her dreams still seemed bothered. There was a tension in her where her dream memories resided.  Although he could not read dreams as the dream brothers could, he could sense that they troubled her greatly.  It made him curious if her visions found a way to creep into her dreams and torment her there.  If they did, he wanted to have a long and painful discussion with Apollo and the dream brothers for tormenting Lauren that way.

Dreams weren't meant to cross with powers of prophecy that way.  Not to where they caused such great harm to the dreamer.  He knew some prophets had dreams where they foresaw things, but it was never to the extent that it caused them to fear sleeping and dreaming as Lauren seemed to be.  Something was wrong between her powers and her dreams and he wanted to find out what that was and try to make it stop.  Lauren didn't deserve to be tortured that way.  No one deserved to be tortured that way.  It was just plain cruel to do that to anyone.

Reaching out with his mind, Ares checked on Lauren to make sure she was still asleep.  He was concerned when he felt her unease in sleep.  He sent an angry, mental threat to Morpheus to end it with any nightmares that he was sending to Lauren.  Morpheus sent a similar threat back at him saying that he wasn't giving her nightmares and to stay out of his business.  After hearing that, Ares made a mental note to visit Morpheus later and have a few "words" with him.  He wasn't one to pass up a fight when he felt one.  And Morpheus needed a good bashing for the torture he was sending to Lauren, despite his protests to the contrary.

Ares turned his attention away from Morpheus and back to what he was going to do about this war Athena was planning.  He knew there was little he could do to stop it.  The rain plaguing Greece at the moment seemed to be just delaying the battle.  While he enjoyed war, this was one he didn't want.  It wasn't just the fact that Athena was threatening the life of one of his lovers.  He didn't want this war because Athena had a very un-Athena-like reason for waging war on Corinth and King Iphicles.  There was no reason to bring a war like this to Corinth.  Her reasons for wanting to attack Iphicles and his kingdom were foolish and made little sense.

Where his sister was concerned, Ares found it difficult to understand what wisdom she saw in some of her actions.  He knew she could validate her reasons for attacking Corinth, but he chose not to ask her. He didn't want to be convinced that she knew what she was doing.  He wanted to remain thinking that her reasons were foolish, so he had complete assurance in himself that what he was doing was right.  He would defend Iphicles and his kingdom if it came to that. He only hoped that this storm would keep Athena and her forces busy till a better solution could be found.

While he didn't know who was causing this storm, Ares was almost certain that it was a god's doing.  He could feel it in his bones.  He only wished he knew what god was causing it and why.  He knew it wasn't any of his relatives because he could always feel their power directing whatever they were doing.  But this storm, he could only feel it and a tiny fragment of power emanating from it.  That didn't really tell him much.  It could have been a very powerful god whose powers he didn't understand or perceive well. Or it could be just a magician or sorcerer's attempt at magic gone dangerously awry.  He tended to lean toward the former, rather than the latter.  It made more sense.  Zeus could have easily stopped a storm created by any mortal magic weaver.  Another god's doing would be much more difficult for his father to halt, especially if that god wasn't native to this area and their powers were unreadable.

"Great, just what I needed," he muttered, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "Another headache."

Seating himself on his throne, Ares rubbed his temples.  He soon coaxed the headache forming at his temples and the bridge of his nose to go away.  Trying to figure these things out was becoming one long pain for him.  There were too many things for him to sort out and he didn't have all the information he needed in order to do it.  It gave him annoying little headaches trying to sort them through.  They were nothing compared to the hangover he had had once, but they were just as annoying.

Ares would have vowed to not try to figure out such complex things, but he knew that was a vow he would break right after making it.  With Lauren, he was having more and more difficulty trying to figure things out.  One major thing was how Kamala could be her mother if she wasn't pregnant when she died.  The only thing he figured that must have happened was that the flames of re-birth for the phoenix had created a life between Kamala and the phoenix. But that made little sense. It was impossible for anything to mate with a phoenix and live. The child created in such a union would have been destroyed the instant it was created.  Both parents were effectively dead when they were joined.  Only the phoenix would have been re-born.  No other life form could have come from that union.

"Argh!" Ares snarled, leaning back in his throne, grabbing the sides of his head.

The headache he had just willed away was coming back. He hated this impossible task of figuring impossible things.  Paradoxes were an impossible pain for any god to decipher.  And Lauren was one definite paradox in his scroll.  Growling low in his throat, he fought the headache back out of his head and tried to not think of anymore paradoxes that would bring it back.  Having them visit him one after another was driving him crazy and he wanted no more to do with them.  Headaches were the only pain gods normally got.  And only then, they got them when they were doing what Ares was doing -- trying to understand the impossible.


A flash of amber light filled the room.  When it faded, the King of Corinth was standing in its place with a bewildered look on his face.  He looked around, unsure of how he had gotten here.  One thing he was certain about was that this was Ares' bedchamber in the Halls of War.  Having been here a few times previous, he recognized it almost instantly.  How had he gotten here?  Was it Ares' doing?  He wasn't sure. He had been teleported by Ares to unknown locations before, but this time it felt decidedly different.  It concerned him greatly.  He didn't like being teleported around by an unknown force and to an empty room.  He then realized with dread that he wasn't alone.

"I know you're here," he said, laying a hand on his sword. "Show yourself."

A soft whimper drew his attention to the bed.  Was this another prisoner of Ares'?  Iphicles cautiously drew closer to the bed.  He caught sight of coppery hair and instantly knew who this was and why she was here.

"Lauren?" he called gently.

"No." she whimpered fearfully, scurrying to beneath the covers, covering herself completely.

Confusion and concern crossed the king's face.  She seemed to fear his very voice.  What had Ares done to her to make her fear just his voice?

"Iphicles," Ares asked as he appeared in the room. "How did you get here?"

"I thought it was your doing, Ares." Iphicles said.

"No.  If it had, I would have been here to greet you."

Ares turned and looked over at his bed and Lauren, who appeared to be hiding from both of them.  He moved to the bedside, laying a hand on her shoulder as he seated himself beside her.  He pulled his hand away abruptly when she flinched violently under his touch.

"She's afraid of you." Iphicles said.

"She's asleep," Ares pointed out. "She can't possibly know who is here and who isn't; not even with her empathic abilities."


"You don't believe me?"

Very gently, Ares pulled the covers back from Lauren's face.  Iphicles could now see that she was, indeed, fast asleep.  The god covered her once more when he sensed her about to scurry further beneath them.

"Then why is she seemingly afraid of anyone speaking to her with your voice?" Iphicles asked.

"I don't know." Ares replied.

"What happened between you two after you left my castle?"


"Oh really?"

Ares let out a low growl of warning.  He despised being considered a liar.  He rose from the bed and moved toward Iphicles, impressed when the king didn't back down.  His hands clenched into fists, resisting the urge to strike him and send him to the ground, broken.

"I just find it difficult to believe that you would bring her here to just sleep." the king said.

Somehow Iphicles didn't quite believe that Ares had kidnapped Lauren and had not done anything to her. Ares had done little to hide the fact that he was quite attracted to Lauren.  It made Iphicles concerned that Ares had harmed her in some way trying to get what he wanted.

"Just let it rest, Iphicles," Ares said, trying to remain civil. "She's been through enough as is without you doing anymore damage."

"'Damage'," Iphicles asked, suddenly concerned. "What did you do to her?"

Ares' expression darkened. He didn't want to talk about this. He didn't want to re-live what he had faced with Lauren when she had been separated from her sanity.

"Was Athena here?" Iphicles asked suddenly, surprising the war god.

"She was." Ares replied.

Sensing Lauren's fear heightening, Ares returned to his perch beside her.  He gently touched her shoulder once more, relieved when she allowed his touch this time.  He stroked her arm, trying to soothe her.  He could feel that whatever was in her dreams, it was frightening her greatly.  Unable to sense her dreams clearly, he couldn't feel what was scaring her.  It irritated him greatly to not know that.

"Why?" Iphicles pressed.

Ares turned a glare on the king.  He knew he would have to speak of what had occurred now.  He took a deep breath and mentally counted to ten before speaking, not wanting to attack Iphicles for something he hadn't done.

"She attempted to take Lauren away from me while blaming me for something that had happened by accident." he said, then bit his tongue when he realized he had just said too much.

"What happened?  Was Lauren involved?" Iphicles asked, unable to control his desire to protect her.

"Yes.  And I don't wish to speak of it."

"You're going to have to.  Otherwise, I don't think I'll be able to trust...."

Ares growled low in his throat, glaring at the king. Iphicles had done the smart thing and not completed that statement.  Giving Lauren's shoulder a gentle squeeze, Ares rose from the bed once more and, grabbing Iphicles' arm, he dragged him from the room.

Once in the throne room, he roughly shoved the king away from himself.  Iphicles impressed him again by remaining upright.  For a moment, he simply glared at Iphicles, trying to decide how to explain this.

"When Lauren and I were together," Ares started in his best civil tone. "She inadvertently saw my true form."

Iphicles' expression filled with shock at this news. He had heard about what had happened to Semele when she saw Zeus' true form.  He was surprised that Lauren had survived.

"For an instant," Ares admitted, sensing the king's thoughts. "Just for an instant, she was dead, but something brought her back."

"What," Iphicles asked, unable to hide his shock. "How could she have survived that? No mortal can."

"She's not mortal; at least not fully.  She has Olympian blood."

"I think I need to sit down now."

Ares created a bench, allowing Iphicles to seat himself on it.  Such news was surprising to hear.  It was alarming enough for him when he discovered it initially.

"She's a god?" Iphicles asked.

"No," Ares replied. "She's a half-nymph. Her mother was a naiad."

That surprised Iphicles.  That helped explain his attraction to her, knowing what he did about nymphs. A sudden thought struck him and he looked up at Ares.

"Does she know that you are her uncle?" he asked.

"Yes." the god replied.

"How did she take the news?"

Ares smirked at Iphicles.  He was not at all amused with the question.  He glanced back at his bedchamber when he sensed Lauren's emotions becoming more erratic.  This was beginning to concern him.  Even Morpheus' dreams wouldn't terrify someone so much. Few earned such punishment from him and Lauren didn't seem the type to earn such wrath from Morpheus.

"Ares?" Iphicles called, drawing the god's attention.

The war god turned his attention back to the king.  He sighed, knowing he had to tell Iphicles the whole story.

"I think she took it quite well," he said.

"It scared her, didn't it?" Iphicles surmised.

"Very much so.  She could give deer lessons in jumping away from something."

The king snickered.  Confusion then crossed his face.

"You said that you and her were together," he said. "You didn't...."

"Certainly not," Ares growled, incensed by the accusation. "I am not a rapist.  You know that, Iphicles."

"Yes, I do.  I'm sorry."

"Accepted.  She may have been afraid of her attraction to me even more when she learned of our relation, but she couldn't fight her attraction to me.  She still wanted me."

"Well, I can't blame her for that."

Ares smiled.

"Before that, when I first brought her here and had 'relations' with her, our minds touched and she saw what I really am and looked like." he said, becoming serious once more.

"What happened?" Iphicles asked.

"The experience tore away her sanity and the control all things have over their baser selves."

"You mean, she--"

"She was reduced to something resembling one of the Horde and attacked everything and everyone in sight."

"Including you?"

"Yes, including me.  She attacked Athena as well. Between the two of us, she's lucky she's alive." He held up a hand when he sensed Iphicles' anger rising. "We had little choice, Iphicles.  She didn't understand anything that was going on or said to her and attacked without conscience.  It caused an instinctive response in us and unfortunately, she was injured quite severely before she was subdued."

"Is she all right now?"

"Quite.  I healed her completely.  Her sanity and control have been fully restored and the beast awakened within her is caged once more."

"That's good to know."

"Yes.  And now, what would make me feel better is if I could learn how you got here."

"Could Lauren be responsible?"

"I don't know.  She shouldn't have that kind of power.  Neither of her parents had that ability."

"I thought her father was a pirate of some sort; a mortal."

"Dathon was her guardian.  Her father is a phoenix, sort of."

"How can it be 'sort of'?"

"When it dies, a phoenix burns itself to ashes and is reborn from it.  Lauren's mother inadvertently ran into those flames.  Somehow, they created a life.  I just don't understand how such a fragile life could have survived.  The heat of the fire would have destroyed any other life, save for the phoenix."

"She's becoming a real enigma."

"Try a paradox.  Enigmas are a snap compared to what she's becoming."

Iphicles smiled at that.

"I want you to remain here," Ares said. "She will sense your presence, but I don't want to alarm her by having you in the room with her when she awakens."

"I understand." Iphicles said.

Ares vanished in a flash of light.  He knew that she would be a little more relaxed if there was only one person in the room with her, even if she sensed someone else, besides him, in the same area.

Quietly, Ares faded into the room, seated on the bedside by Lauren.  She was now turned away from him with the covers thrown back to reveal her face. Reaching out, he brushed some stray strands of hair from her face.  His fingers brushed her cheek every so often.

Lauren turned onto her back, her arm falling across his lap, her face turning toward her.  The torrid of erratic emotions within her seemed to relent with the contact.  Just as Ares thought her nightmares had ended, Lauren jumped awake with a panicked cry.  She looked down at herself in alarm, then around the room.  When her gaze fell on Ares, she leapt back with a panicked sound, as if she had just seen a ghost.

"Calm down, Lauren," Ares said. "It's me."

"But...." she started, then lunged forward and grabbed him in a tight hug.

Ares smiled, drawing her closer.  He was beginning to like how she reacted when she saw him.  He kissed the top of her head, pulling her back to look at her.

"Now tell me," he said softly. "What scared you so when you saw me just now?"

"You were dead," she said.

"Well, that would explain it.  But as you can see, I am quite alive."

"No, you were dead.  Bleeding with your eyes open and glazed over and everything."

Usually when Ares heard a description of a dead or dying individual, it filled him with pleasure. Hearing it assigned to himself made him shudder with disgust.

"You saw me dead?" he asked.

Lauren nodded.

"How did I die?" he asked.

"I don't know," she said. "Everything I saw is a blur.  I can only remember bits and pieces.  I just know that you were dead."

"It was just a dream, sweets.  Morpheus has just been playing with your mind and your fears."

"I wish I could be as sure of that as you are."

"You don't believe me?  I should be quite insulted by that."

Lauren smiled at him.  Her smile faded as her fear of what she had seen came back.  She tentatively reached out and touched Ares' cheek.  She seemed to be assuring herself that he was real and alive.

Ares allowed her touch, sensing her great need for doing so.  He wanted to believe her seeing him dead was just a figment of her dream, but he couldn't help wondering if it came from her powers of prophecy.  He wanted to ask her more about what she had seen, but could tell that any further inquiry would only serve to scare her further.

Reaching out, he cupped the side of her face, gazing into her fear-filled eyes.  His thumb stroked her skin in a soothing manner.  He was gentle with her, knowing she greatly feared what she had seen in her dreams. He wouldn't force her to speak about it, not yet anyway; though he almost desperately wanted to know why and how he had died.   He just knew that if he pushed it with Lauren, he could scare her as much as her Horde-like self had.  So, he had to patient and gentle with her.

Gentleness wasn't really a new thing for him, but he didn't often show it as much as he was now with Lauren.  It was rarely shown to him, especially where his family was concerned.  But somehow, he could allow himself to show it to those he truly cared about. Lauren was in that circle of lucky few right now; and he was certain she always would be with how he felt about her.

Part 47

Athena turned to face Strife.  The godling remained where he had fallen, but raised his gaze to meet hers.

"Don't ask me where he is," he said. "I don't know."

"I wasn't planning on doing so." she replied.

"And I don't know who or what took him either."

"You don't seem to know much, do you?" Sirus asked.

Strife just crossed his arms and groused.  He hated being in the dark about all of this.

Sirus looked down at Strife.  He began feeling a little sorry for this godling now.  Strife didn't have the information Athena wanted, and for that, she attacked him.

"I didn't figure you did." Athena said.

Strife flinched under her hurtful words.  He looked back to the floor in despair.

The goddess turned back to face the area where Iphicles had vanished.  She tried to read what had taken the king but it evaded her scans.  She continually drew a blank and the harder she tried, the more it made her head ache from effort.

"This isn't possible," she said. "There isn't a force that can snatch away a mortal like this and not leave more of a clue."

"Ask Ares," Sirus said. "He may know more than you. Maybe even Zeus."

Athena turned a glare on him.  He had just insulted her greatly.

"Congratulations," Strife said, looking up at Sirus. "You just insulted her big time, buddy boy."

Sirus glanced down at Strife, then back to Athena. How had he insulted her?  By making a simple suggestion?

Seeming to hear the questions, Strife went on. "Telling the Goddess of Wisdom that someone knows more than her is a rather big insult."

"Well, you can't keep muddling your way through this as if you know all and don't need help," Sirus said. "Face it, Athena, you are out of your league and need help making sense of this."

Athena let out a sound of rage and flung a blast of power at him.  Both Sirus and Strife dove out of the way.  The blast shattered the bars of Sirus' cell like wood.

"Fine," Sirus growled, stepping out of the rubble of his cell. "Send me.  I'll ask.  I don't mind asking for information.  I know there are more informed and, yes, wiser people than myself.  Lauren, herself, springs to mind.  She can stand further away from a deer than any other hunter and still strike it dead center in the heart so it dies instantly and without pain.  I can't even come close to doing that.  I scare animals away the instant I step into a forest."

"Very well," Athena said. "Take Strife with you in case you need to visit Olympus.  Alone, you wouldn't get past the guards."

"Only if you return to your own troops.  King Iphicles has earned my respect and I will not have you endangering his kingdom while he isn't here to defend it."

"Agreed.  Strife?"

"Oh, all right," Strife muttered, getting up and dusting himself off. "I always wanted to play taxi."

Athena waved her hand, sending both out of the castle and Corinth itself.  After making certain that Toreth couldn't escape his cell, she vanished herself.  She honored Sirus' request, only because she found she respected him, despite his being an irritant at times.


"Thanks, Auntie." Strife muttered when they reappeared out in the rain.

"Complain later," Sirus said. "I need to speak to Zeus.  I don't trust how I'd react to speaking with your uncle."


Strife took them to Olympus, leaving the rain that had drenched them behind.  He nearly danced with glee at being able to do that again.

Sirus covered his ears, staggering at the overwhelming sound of crashing thunder just below him.  The storm sounded, and felt, like it was just beneath them.

"By the gods," he groaned. "When did Hephaestus turn my skull into his forge?"

"Wow," Strife said in amazement. "You do have a sense of humor."

"Funny.  Just take me to Zeus."

"Follow me."

Sirus followed the godling. He was surprised when a buffer zone suddenly formed around him. The deafening sound of the storm instantly became bearable.

"You're welcome." Strife said suddenly, sensing Sirus' surprise.

The two soon found their way to the throne room where Zeus was staring out of the rumbling storm. Sensing eyes on him, the King of the Gods turned to look at them.

"I'm guessing that you're a cause in this." he commented, indicating the storm.

"I'm not certain," Sirus said. "This storm just seemed to start to keep Athena from starting her war on Corinth."

"This storm is a puzzle. I sense a power in it, but it is so faint, I can't sense who or what is causing it." Zeus glanced back at the storm for a moment, then looked back to Sirus. "What do you know of a woman named Lauren?" he asked suddenly.

"You think she's responsible?"

"She has some unusual abilities."

"I know she's an empath...."

"You know more than you say. You know her very well."

"Stay out of my mind! What I choose to share is all I will share. Taking that knowledge from me is not only stealing, it's a violation of my privacy."

Zeus chuckled. He liked the fire in this one. He could sense extreme protectiveness in Sirus concerning Lauren.

"Very well." he said at last.

"Have you been watching what has been going on at Corinth?" Sirus asked.

"I've been tracking events as best as I can, yes."

"Do you know what happened to King Iphicles?"

"Some ancient force snatched him away. The sensation of power was too brief to be certain what it was though."

Sirus could see Strife's relief, knowing that even Zeus was in the dark about this. It seemed to make Strife feel better to learn he wasn't the only one who was confused by all this.

"Might Apollo know," Sirus asked. "When he vanished, Iphicles appeared to be swallowed by a fire-like light."

"I wouldn't count on Apollo for answers concerning that," Zeus said. "Ares bound Apollo to the throne of one of his temples to keep him from bothering Lauren, if I remember correctly. He seems more of a danger to her than anyone else."

Sirus was a little surprised. From what he had learned, he figured Ares was more of a danger; especially after learning Ares had shattered Lauren's sanity.

"What did he do?" she asked.

"He attempted to invade her mind to learn exactly what she was. She was just barely able to keep him out. And, if that wasn't bad enough, he chased her around to get what he wanted from her, no matter what happened to her in the process. I believe he intended to rape the poor dear, he wanted her so much."

"That doesn't surprise me, concerning him. Too bad Lauren couldn't become a tree to save her from all those after her."

"She doesn't need to do that. My son, Ares, is quite protective of her."

"So protective that he drove her insane for his own pleasure."

Zeus chuckled. That only served to infuriate Sirus.

"That wasn't his intention, dear boy," Zeus said, amusement lingering in his voice. "Her loss was a direct result of her seeing and experiencing his true form."

"If that was the case, Lauren would be dead, not insane. I know about Semele and what happened to her. The same thing happened to her."

"Semele was mortal; Lauren is not."

That surprised Sirus and Strife. This wasn't an answer either had expected.

"You really don't know?" Zeus asked, noting Sirus' surprise.

"Know what?" Sirus asked.

"I believe Lauren would wish to tell you that herself."

"Tell me," Strife said. "I know she won't tell me. She doesn't even like me."

Zeus and Sirus chuckled. Strife grumbled and looked away. He was beginning to feel worse than when he was stuck in the castle.

"I will respect her wishes, then." Sirus said.

Thunder rumbled loudly across the clouds below them, invading the buffer zone Strife had placed around Sirus. He looked toward the window and out at the storm. When lightning filled his vision again, he once more saw the eyes, watching him.

Zeus noticed Sirus' fascination with the storm instantly.

"What is it?" he asked.

"Hmm?" Sirus replied.

"You seem drawn to this storm for some reason. What did you see in it?"


Zeus raised a brow. He knew Sirus was lying about that. He decided not to push the subject with him. This one was already irritated about his "mental invasion". He didn't want to spark the Viking's temper, having seen the results earlier. He knew he might end this mortal's life if the Viking attacked him and there was one girl with unknown abilities who would vow revenge if that happened. That wasn't the way he wanted to learn of her abilities.

"Well, if you encounter your 'nothing'," he said. "Let them know they're endangering everyone."

"I think they already know that. Perhaps you should speak to your daughter about stopping her campaign against Corinth. Maybe the rain will stop."

"I'm not conceding defeat to some force not meant to be here."

The storm seemed to growl in anger in response.

"I'd be careful what you say," Sirus said. "Whatever's controlling this storm doesn't appear to like any of you that much."

Zeus just glared at him. He turned and looked at the nearly black clouds. He attempted to see just what Sirus had seen there. The storm didn't give him what he wanted. It blatantly refused to do what he wanted of it.

"It won't respond to you," Sirus said. "I don't know why I seem to affect it so, but it responds only to me, it seems."

Zeus faced him once more.

"Then you talk to it," he said. "Tell it to stop."

"No," Sirus said. "I won't have innocents die in some stupid, unnecessary war."

"Would you prefer innocents die because of this icy rain?"

"Stop the war and the storm will follow. You may be the only one who can talk Athena out of this."

"Athena's war is justified. Iphicles needs to be tested what it truly means to be a leader."

"At the cost of a kingdom's population? You should take a lesson from my father's gods. They care about mortals more than your pantheon does."

"You dare question our ways?"

"Not all of them. Some of your family have decided to help mortals, but on the whole, you don't hold a candle to what the Norse gods have done for them."

Zeus was in a fury. He waved his hand, sending Sirus away. He turned a glare on Strife, who quickly went to join Sirus, not wanting to face Zeus' anger.

Sirus found himself outside in the rain on Earth once more. He was joined by Strife a moment later.

"Ya shoulda kept your trap shut on that," Strife said. "Zeus is touchy in that area."

"Hmpf." Sirus scoffed.

He glanced up at the storm once more. The eyes met his once more when lightning lit the clouds again.

"Who are you and why are you doing this to me?!" Sirus roared at the clouds.

Lightning tore across the underside of the clouds, startling him. A crash of thunder filled the sky an instant later. He looked down, feeling Strife's arms around his leg.

"Do you mind?" he asked in annoyance.

"Sorry." Strife said, releasing him and getting up.

"This storm scares you, doesn't it?"

"It's unknown. That's what scares me."

Sirus could understand that. This storm was beginning to make even him nervous. Those eyes seemed to watch him in each lightning flash. That was beginning to truly bother him. He wanted to know who was watching him and why.

Part 48

"I hate these kinds of dreams." Lauren grumbled,
turning away from Ares.

The war god smoothed a hand down her back, sensing that this small gesture was helping her to feel better.  He never understood how small gestures like this could help someone so upset, but if it worked, so be it.

"You've had other dreams like this?" he asked.

"Yes," she said. "When my father died, I saw it as it happened in a dream. And then before I met you, I had a dream where I encountered a dark figure who turned out to be you."

Ares' hand paused on her back when he heard that. Did that mean that her dream about his death was real?

"I don't want to talk about it," she said suddenly.

"What?" Ares asked, confused.

"My dream concerning your death. I don't want to talk about it."

"Lauren, I didn't ask you to."

Lauren faced him, looking suddenly confused.

"Yes, you did," she insisted. "I heard you. You asked me if my dream about your death were true."

"I only thought that," he informed her. "I didn't speak that aloud."

" did I hear what you were thinking?"

Lauren tensed, shutting her eyes tight against expected pain when Ares laid a hand on top of her head. She didn't know what to expect and was terrified that this contact might do greater harm to her.

"You are gaining a telepathic power," Ares informed her, taking his hand away. "I wasn't expecting it, so you picked up on my thoughts without my realizing it."

"B-but how?" she asked, fear plain in her voice.

"Apparently, my being with you did more than I thought. I seem to have broken a barrier on your powers."

"You what?"

"Your mental talents have had a block on them for some reason. When I shattered your sanity, other barriers fell as well."

"I don't want them; send them away."

"I can't do that. This is not like a cloak you can give away to anyone you bump into on the street; you were born with this. It is the legacy passed onto you by your mother."

"You caused this?"

"In a way, yes, I suppose I am. Whoa! Hold on there!"

Ares grabbed her wrists when she tried to strike him. He was nearly knocked off of the bed when something like a whip struck him hard across the mind. He stared at her in shock, seeing an equal expression on her face.

"Oh gods, what's happening to me?" she whispered in fear.

"You have some Olympian powers." Ares explained.

Lauren stared at Ares in alarm. This news was greatly startling to her.

"I what?" she asked with trepidation.

"You have some Olympian powers," he repeated. "I believe these are powers that were suppressed in your mother. She never had the chance to access them before she died."

Lauren was even more alarmed by this news.

"I don't know what powers your mother possessed," he said. "Or even which ones that you possess. If I were to scan you, I couldn't determine that either. They are completely jumbled within you. So much so, I can make neither heads nor tails of them."

"Can you suppress mine?" she asked.

"No. Even if I could, they would work their way free and you would be in the same situation all over again."

Lauren moaned, almost in despair and fell forward, laying her head in his lap. She again felt his hand lay gently on her back, stroking her soothingly.

"Why did you have to pick me to become obsessed with," she asked against him. "I was happy with just my empathic powers. Then suddenly you come into my life and my powers of prophecy wake up, my empathic powers scale Mount Olympus in strength and who knows what all sorts of powers awaken in me."

Ares did his best to not laugh at her assessment. It was very hard to resist that urge, but somehow, he found the strength to suppress it.

"They would have come out eventually," he said gently. "You can't put the blame entirely on me."

"Yes I can," she said harshly, pulling away from him. "It's all your fault and you'll pay for it."

Ares watched her closely; unsure of what she had planned. When she balled a fist, he didn't even attempt to defend himself when she punched him. He knew he was somewhat to blame and deserved this. He stopped her, however, when she attacked him repeatedly, surprising her by drawing her into his chest.

"I will teach you how to use those powers," he said. "You don't have to go through this alone."

"I'm sorry," she said, tears spilling down her face. "I just don't like surprises like this."

"I know. It's a terrible thing to have happen to you." He pulled her back to where he could look into her eyes once more. "But I will help you, if you let me."

"You trust me around you, even after I attacked you mentally and physically?"

"I'm the God of War; I'm designed to take such punishment."

Lauren giggled at that. He knew just what to say to make her feel better. She allowed Ares to lean forward, then felt him place a kiss on her forehead. She sat up when he finally released her.

Ares reached up and touched a tear on her cheek. He then brought that finger to his lips and licked away the droplet, drawing an eye roll from Lauren.

"Fan of salt?" she asked, unable to resist.

"Mm," he purred. "I enjoy a little taste of it every now and then."

"Okay, you've had your taste, now can I have something to wear?"

"Very well, but know this, I am far from through with you."

He waved a hand and clothed her in a loose-fitting robe of black velvet. He could tell from the look on her face that she was far from pleased with that choice of wardrobe.

"Yes?" he asked, giving her an innocent smile.

"I was thinking of something more...substantial?" she suggested.

"Why should I clothe you in something that will just cause a hassle in being removed?"

Frowning in irritation, Lauren gave Ares a hard shove. Taken by surprise, he was knocked off balance, causing him to flail his arms in an attempt to remain on the bed.

The sight amused Lauren. That was, until he grabbed her wrist in an attempt to stay on the bed. Her giggle became a screech of alarm as she was pulled down with him to the floor. Both rolled over several times before they finally came to a stop with Ares on top of Lauren.

A very wicked, very evil grin crossed the God of War's handsome face at this development.

"Well, well," he purred. "What have we here? A bad girl in need of a spanking?"

Ares looked up when he heard the chamber door open, smiling when he saw Iphicles enter. Lauren shoved at Ares' chest in an attempt to free herself from beneath him, but he refused to budge. He pressed into her, making her more aware of how much he desired her and of his dominance of her at this moment.

"I thought I heard a yell." Iphicles said nonchalantly.

"You did," Lauren announced. "He yanked me down off the bed."

"Only after you pushed me off of it." Ares accused, meeting her gaze.

"Would you please get off of me before you crush something important?"

"And what would that be, my kitten?"

Iphicles couldn't help grinning at the two before him. They were quite entertaining.

As he looked at Ares and Lauren, he kept finding his gaze straying to the front of Lauren's robe, which gaped and exposed a great deal of her breasts, but not entirely. The velvet denied him a full glimpse of her breasts, serving only to torment him greatly. He bit his lip to suppress the groan that threatened to escape him when his cock jumped to attention in approval at the tempting sight.

"I don't think I'm crushing anything important," Ares said with a smile. "I'm keeping it all warm."

"You're squishing my legs and putting them to sleep." she countered, once more trying to push him away with little success.

Iphicles smiled in amusement. He watched as Ares parted Lauren's legs, lowering down between them before she could scurry away. He grinned at the look on her face; she wasn't at all pleased with this new position.

"That's not what I had in mind," she said.

"Oh," Ares asked. "I think it was. I am getting a clear signal that this is just what you wished of me."

As he leaned toward her, Lauren gave him one final hard shove with all her might. This time, Ares was distracted and it allowed her to get free. She scrambled back from him, running into a pair of legs behind her. Despite being able to see the God of War before her, she tensed, fearing that this was Ares she had just run into. She had to remind herself that this was Iphicles behind her and not Ares.

Iphicles did his best to not look down at Lauren and to remain still. He could feel that she was pressed firmly against his legs and if he moved too quickly, he would knock her off balance and allow Ares to easily re-capture her. He didn't want to give Ares an unfair advantage over Lauren, knowing she might retaliate against him.

This position caused him great discomfort as his cock grew even harder than before. It was quite happy with her closeness, despite what its master felt. The king grumbled low in his throat, annoyed at its enthusiastic response to this girl. It was getting him in more and more trouble each time he encountered her.

Ares looked up at the king and grinned, sensing his present condition. Turning his attention back to Lauren, he turned onto all fours and crawled very catlike toward her as sensuously as possible. He smiled, sensing her wish to retreat further. Only the king's legs at her back kept her from following through with that desire.

As he moved toward them, he was certain he heard a whimper from both of them. He knew few could resist him when he tempted them in this manner, and used it to his advantage when he could.

"Why are you doing this to me?" Lauren asked meekly.

"Because it works." he said truthfully.

"I hate you."

"No you don't."

Lauren made a sudden dive away from Iphicles when Ares lunged at her and staggered to her feet. The God of War turned a wicked look on her and got to his feet, stalking toward her as she backed away from him. His dark eyes flashed with amusement as he chased her.

"Here, kitty, kitty," he purred. "I only wish to play."

"Well, I don't wish to play your games right now." she replied.

She scurried back from him when he made a grab for her, trying to remain out of his reach as he tried to catch her. This felt like Apollo all over again, but at least Ares wasn't quite as dangerous as his half-brother was. She seemed to prefer having Ares chasing her than she did Apollo; not that she was planning to let the war god catch her anytime soon, if she had any say in the matter.

The look of amusement on Ares' face and the hunger beginning to blend into it was making her nervous. When he lunged at her once more, she raced back the other way. She hoped to at least confuse him some so she had a better chance of getting away from him.

As she passed before him, Iphicles suddenly grabbed Lauren from behind, making her jump in alarm. She looked up at him in near panic, sensing that he was now joining in on Ares' game. She turned back to Ares, finding him now standing right before her.

"Didn't get very far, did you?" he smiled.

"I didn't know he was going to help you," she said, pointing to the king as best as she could.

"You can't blame him. Running around like that, in such a teasing little robe while it moves in the most revealing ways. It's sure to tempt the most abstinent of men." He spanked her legs away when she tried to kick him. "Now, now," he scolded. "Don't kick the one who pleases you."

Lauren stepped back from the god instinctively as he drew closer, inadvertently pressing herself right up against Iphicles. She could now feel the physical proof of how much he desired her pressing into her back through their clothing.

Before, she had been able to ignore his desire for her, but now, with him right against her, she couldn't deny it any longer. It grew even more impossible to deny when she felt his breath on her skin and sensed where his eyes had traveled.

"Let me go." she said to Iphicles, trying to get free.

"It won't work on him right now, pet," Ares informed her. "Even as strong as your empathic powers are, desire can overcome most of your control over a mortal's actions."

Iphicles turned and pressed his lips to her ear. He whispered something to her that Ares didn't quite catch, but from the look on Lauren's face, he could tell just about what was said.

The king lowered his lips to her neck, making her shiver when he brushed them against her skin. Parting his lips, he let his tongue dart out to taste her there, drawing another shiver from her.

Though he wished to join in on this, Ares allowed Iphicles to do as he wished with Lauren first. He had earned it by catching this wicked little nymph. He stepped back, allowing them a little more room, but kept his eyes riveted to the scene before him.

Pulling both of Lauren's arms behind her, Iphicles imprisoned them in one hand. He took her chin in his free hand, making her look up at him. His lips covered hers, giving her a slow, passionate kiss. He then allowed his hand to move down her skin, slipping it under her robe to touch her breast. He groaned against her when he felt her breast and its hard nipple pressing into his palm. Caressing it, he drew a soft moan from her.

Breaking the kiss, Lauren let her head fall against Iphicles' shoulder and gazed up at him. She could easily feel Ares' growing hunger to join in as he watched them. Sensing that, she turned to look at him.

The instant she did, Ares' control to stay back broke and he stepped forward to join them. He could no longer stay out of this. He growled low in his throat, almost in warning, when Iphicles seemed to draw Lauren closer to him in possession.

"I do hope you remember how to share, Iphicles," he said.

"Oh, about as well as you do, Ares." Iphicles smiled, meeting the god's gaze.

Ares smiled at him. It wasn't a very pleasant one, though, speaking of promised revenge. His dark eyes then fell on Lauren, just as Iphicles' hand slipped from beneath her robe. He stepped closer, suddenly wishing to re-claim what the king had "marked" with his touch. At the last moment, Lauren managed to free herself from Iphicles and surprised both by slipping away from him.

"Harm him, and I'll 'revenge' you, war god." she said boldly.

"Oh, you will, will you?" Ares purred in a seductive voice.

"Um, yes. That's right."

Her sincerity faltered as Ares approached her, making her retreat from him. She ran into the bed behind her and let out a mouse-like "yipe" when she lost her balance and fell onto it. When she tried to back away, Ares suddenly pounced onto her, trapping her beneath him. He laid a hand on either side of her head, leaning down over her, then lowered his head till his face was mere inches from hers.

"And how will you do that, little kitten-cat?" he murmured.

That soft voice of his seemed to carry more power in it than one of his yells. Lauren tried to shrink into the bed as she looked up at him. She realized she had made a big mistake by challenging him as she had.

"Well?" he asked in a low, purring growl.

Lauren startled him by suddenly burying her hand in his hair and pulling his mouth down onto hers. She gave him a kiss of such passion, it overwhelmed everything else.

Ares' fierce anger left on a hungered growl at her sudden and surprisingly passionate kiss. He allowed her to explore the depths of his mouth with her tongue, caressing it with his own as she did. He cupped the side of her face when she finally broke the kiss and gave her a true smile, enjoying that response.

"I admire your form of attack, my dear," he said. "I never knew a kiss could be so disarming."

"Now you know how I feel." she replied.

Ares smiled. He could understand that, knowing what his kisses could do to a person. It just surprised him to have such power used against him.

"Show me what else you remember about how I make you feel." he said.

"No." she replied.

"Why not? I figured you would enjoy such a thing."

"I wish to know why you like Iphicles so much."

The god blinked in astonishment. That response was totally unexpected. He leaned up, looking over at the king as he approached. He watched a smile cross the mortal's face at her request.

"I don't remember saying you could join us." he pointed out.

"I think your judgment has been overturned," Iphicles said. "In any case, I just bet you wouldn't be too opposed to such a thing."

The war god grinned, finding he liked being overruled like this.

"Oh, very well." he said in his best bored tone.

Lauren and Iphicles could easily tell that Ares was anything but bored with this idea. The look on his face was enough to say that he wanted that greatly.