Warrior Chronicles
by Sophia
Warrior Chronicles: Prologue

As I left the Halls of War, I looked back with two conflicting emotions - regret and relief. My regret stemmed from the fact that I had not seen Ares once in his own guise before I left so I could thank him properly for the kindness he had shown me. Kindness that startled me coming from that beast of a god. It was perhaps the only overt act of kindness I would ever see from him again and I hold the memory of his actions toward me on that day close. They are a talisman - reminding me that there was still some small part of him that could feel the pain of others and be generous in spirit. He hides this part from us and from himself. To show these emotions - care and concern - is, to Ares, proof of weakness. Poor Ares! To trust one's emotions so little in the hands of others! How he must have been betrayed at one time in his existence to be this way.

But who knows under what conditions a god's nature is forged? Certainly it can't be the same as that of mortals, but if it was, I would guess that Ares had lost the love of a parent at a young age and never recovered. Harmed by this lack, Ares could only think of his own emotions and needs. With no trust in the love of others, he could only know his own needs, and yet, not even understand these clearly enough to be truly happy. Can a god ever be happy? I can only think of Ares as a young child with that hideous mother and distant un-loving father. If Ares had been mortal, he would show up in one of two places: the jails or the Roman senate - power over none or power over all. It was not until much later that I would learn of Ares' apprenticeship of pain with Caesar. I knew Ares when he had just embarked in his career of deep depravity with the beast/human we know as Gaius Julius Caesar, Emperor of pain. When I left the Halls of War for good, my heart broken, my spirit finally unable to take any more abuse from him, Ares had fallen under Caesar's spell completely and could never be happy again unless inflicting or receiving the vilest forms of pain and degradation known to humans or gods. But that is a tale best told by others - I do not have the heart for it.  Luckily I did not know this would be Ares' fate then or I could not have gone on.

My relief? It stemmed most of all from my memories, and for that I have Ares to thank. In a bizarre twist of fate, his need for my fear, his desire for my pain led to my recovery and I was able to leave a part of my life behind me - a bridge crossed and then burned, leaving me free to proceed with my future, no longer burdened by this past. I also felt relief to be returning to Asklesius so that I could settle things with him - I owed him as much and probably more for putting up with my foolishness, my tempestuous nature, my need for control.

So when I left the Halls of War on that cool clear night, I still had hope that, one day, Ares would find it in his heart to love me - foolish foolish girl that I was! I was going to Asklesius to say good-bye then on to Rome to drench myself in the beauty to be found in its temples, its frescoes, its palazzos, halls and walkways. To view its marvelous art and architecture. Then I planned on returning to Ares, to start in training to be a warrior - nothing else could please me more than going to battle beside him, watching him fight and kill my enemies for me, giving me enough skill and power to kill some small number on my own. To wield a sword and ride a horse - join the fray in the hopes that this would purge my soul in the purity of war's violence. In this, perhaps, Ares and I were alike - each finding in that battlefield some defining moment. For Ares, his entire nature: for me, my salvation.

My hopes grew larger with each passing league as I moved away from the Halls of War. I arrived at our small hideaway - where Asklesius lives - nothing more than a study for him, a studio for me, and a large bed for us both. I went in and found him asleep in a chair by the hearth - a set of papyrus rolls in his hands. His head was bowed forward, chin on chest. He had been in the tub, and was now in his robe. His hair was down and long, falling softly on his shoulders, fair as wheat in the harvest season. His hands cradled the papyrus rolls and I stared at them - so beautiful, so sensitive were those hands! I could almost feel them on me, on my skin. His robe was not tied and he was nude underneath. I saw the familiar tawny hair which covered his chest and curled so deliciously down past his navel and into his public arch. I was immediately seized by a desire to taken him in my mouth and wake him with the feel of my tongue but in truth, I was afraid he would push me away. If he did, I would deserve it. I felt guilty even coming back to him, sleeping with him for a time before leaving him once again, but there was still some small part of me that wanted to keep this door open should my need for the battle - for Ares -  decline.

I knelt down in front of him and lay my hands on his thighs. He started awake and his eyes widened in shock as he saw me there at his knees. I feared that he would push me away in anger but instead, he gasped and pushed me down on the floor, and lay on top of me possessively, kissing me with such passion, tears in his eyes, that I felt my heart would break.

"Sophia...Sophia..." he whispered, kissing and licking my neck, his hot tears falling on my skin, branding me, "you came back to me!" His need was so strong and so forceful that I could do nothing but lay beneath him as he tore off my clothes and began kissing and licking my body in all my most sensitive parts. The strength of his desire shocked me - he
had never shown this to me, or perhaps, I had never noticed it or made him feel such desire was welcome. I lay breathless, inflamed by his desire, his mouth warm on my breasts and nipples, his tongue soft but insistent on my labia and clitoris, bringing me to an orgasm despite my protests. I could not deny him this act - giving me this gift of his love, even though I knew I did not deserve it.

Then he took his own pleasure, entering me and thrusting so desperately, all the while looking in my eyes, calling out my name when he finally came, my arms so tight around his neck, my legs wrapped around his waist in a lover's embrace. He shuddered against me as his seed shot in me, claiming me as his own.

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I knew as I watched Asklesius fuck Sophia that she did not want this - not really. She felt great guilt returning to him although she felt desire for him still and once she felt the power of his passion, she was unable to resist him, to say no. This gave me some comfort as I watched them fucking on the floor, but it was small comfort. I don't know why she has this effect on me - me! Hundreds of thousands of lovers over the centuries, countless men and women. Yet, each generation of mortals throws up some one or two that seem to capture me for a time, to occupy my thoughts more so than others. They offer me some diversion from the unending days and nights, the endless vista that lays ahead. I measure my existence in their lives for a change and it gives form to my own immeasurable being. Mortals have no idea of the experience of godhead - to them it is power and acquisition. To me, a dreary fog of nothingness that only blood and passion seem to penetrate.

I watch Sophia's face as her body is assaulted by his tongue - her blue eyes stare up at me, blind to my presence, and I can see such pleasure and sadness in them. Her blonde hair is spread out on the floor around her lovely face, and her expressive mouth is open. I can see the tip of  her pink wet tongue as she licks her lips.  When I think that I have never even felt those lips and that tongue on my cock! And now she is gone and I do not know for certain that she will come back.

He is performing well enough - he has obviously had enough practice on her body to know what she likes. Her head moves from side to side as she begins to lose control and the first waves of her orgasm start to crest. She is so beautiful in this state! I feel my cock stiffen at the sight of her pleasure.

I knew when she left the Halls of War that she would come here and fuck Asklesius. Sex is sex, fucking is fucking. I have had more than my share, have watched so many pairs like them in my time they blend into a seamless, formless whole and have no meaning anymore. Only a few impose on my consciousness. I know this image tonight will be one that escapes the vortex and remains for me to savor. Only a few short hours ago, I had Sophia in my own arms, and it was my mouth on her, my tongue giving her such pleasure, but, of course, no relief. And now she is here and he is the one to provide this relief for her, not me, as is my right. I feel half a mind to obliterate them both here and now, their bodies crushed and burned into nothing, but it would only give me temporary respite from this image. This image will come back and haunt me, but at least it will break the boredom.

For this is what it means to be a god - endless boredom. Days with no end in sight, nothing to give the whole any meaning. Even battles are all just variations on the same old theme - I pick a victor, prepare them and slay the enemy. Death can only come in so many ways. One you have killed millions, no one death has any significance. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed Sophia's presence on the battlefield that day - she gave each death some meaning as I protected her and she tried out the skills I gave her. And her own kills - such pleasure in her! I was in complete shock that she felt such bloodlust with that sword in her hand! I know now why, of course, and it only gives that day more meaning, more significance for me. Had I known it then! What triumph for her, to slay her enemies and free herself from their power over her. This I can understand. Sophia has been in a battle with those unconscious memories for years. She has been waging a war with her past that has only now reached its crisis point.  I am certain she will prevail.

It is good that she is going to Rome, although it pisses me bloody well off! She will have some time to loose from her memory the ghosts of her past. She will be that much more prepared to train with the new sword I fashioned for her when she returns. I am almost certain she will come back and if she does, I will not let her get away again. I told her she was merely a diversion to me - to her that is an insult, a slight, a term that inflicts pain. It is good that she feels this way. I do not want her to know that to have her diversion keeps me from seeking oblivion.

Oh, there are certainly other diversions I have occupying my time right at this moment in my existence. Sophia is not the most important to me. Iphicles is the most prominent, his great beauty is my constant obsession - his body such a source of pleasure for me, I could drown myself in him. He is enough of an obsession to prevent me from slapping him across the face when his insecurity surfaces. Even Sophia has a better sense of entitlement from me! She knows what she wants and is pissed off that she won't get it. Iphicles believes he does not deserve me - and of course he doesn't - no mortal does. We give them our attention because it is our desire or pleasure to do so. Caesar is now gaining a foothold among my current diversions - he inflames me with his decadence.  His character compels me in a way I have not been compelled for centuries - not since Alexander - that bright star. Sophia! I watch her as he is fucking her - she is so passive now - not her preferred position! But she gives in to him now out of guilt.

Sophia is there with Iphicles and Caesar. And only she is able to bring out that in me that even closely resembles the love I know is possible between mortal men and women. Iphicles - my love for him is beyond reason, for he is merely beautiful, there truly is not much more to him than that. But there is something I can not describe in him - so I won't bother to try. Too much reflection bores me.

All right - Asklesius, get it over with. I am tired of this fucking business - the interesting part is over - Sophia's orgasm. You are just another rutting male and I have seen so many and been one myself. You offer no diversion for me, but Sophia - she is different. I wanted to see her suck your cock but you were in too much of a hurry! I will have to return for I want above all things to see her do this. Suck your cock, Asklesius, because I know she wants to so much. It was the one thing I foolishly denied her, thinking that by now I would have her at my feet. Now she is in your arms. I could crush you with a thought. I could take her back with me and shove my cock down her throat and fuck her that way until I choke her on my come. That would please her! I remember the very first day of her service to me. Some new slave girl sucking my cock and choking as I came in her mouth. I remember Sophia clucking to herself at the girl's ineptitude and her shock that I didn't raise a big stink. Ha! If I raised a stink every time some slave or lover choked on my come! In fact, I quite like it when they do. Take that! Sophia wants it - they all want it. My essence - my power. They can have it - I have more than enough - too much. Too much power. It becomes meaningless.

There! His measly orgasm is finished, thank Zeus. And he is so grateful to her! He reminds me of Iphicles - grateful for any attention I deign to throw his way. Wanting more but too ashamed, too afraid and feeling too worthless to demand it. What is it that I see in him? Caesar and I will make a man of him yet.

Now they lie in their lovers' embrace, and he whispers those love words to her. But Sophia can not listen to them - they are breaking her heart, his tears and words are making her weep. She does still love him, I am certain of it, but he is not enough for her now. She has felt me inside of her and he will not do anymore. She has felt the rush of blood to her cunt when she sits on the horse with me behind her, felt my heat flowing into her, and he can not duplicate this, no matter how much love he offers her. She is thinking of me even now, how she wished it was me with her instead of Asklesius and that she could finally suck my cock. I know she will come back to me.

And now, I will return to Iphicles and wake him up with my hard cock shoved into his mouth. I will be sucked until I come, even if it is not by Sophia. Sophia, Iphicles, Caesar. It really doesn't matter to me.
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Warrior Chronicles: Part One

Indifference. That is what I dread. Insignificance. Irrelevance. Yet, that is what I became to Ares over the next few weeks. Oh, he paid me a great deal of attention - training me in the art of war. Yet, barely one show of concern for me as a person, and certainly no interest in me as a woman. How I existed in this state I will never know.  Perhaps it was only his indifference that allowed me to actually learn and train as quickly as I did, as if in trying all the harder to perform well, to garner some praise from him for my efforts, he would see something of worth, of value in me and give me the attention I craved. Yet, I can scarcely comprehend what happened after this period of relative calm. If I felt I lacked attention as a woman from Ares during the past, his attention to me in this way now was almost too much to bear. And my own willing complicity with him perhaps hurts the most.

These first weeks were even harder than my first with Ares at the Halls of War when he displayed his sexual proclivity to me in an effort to punish me for my foolish desire to be his sexual slave.  He trained me, each and every day. Physical training, endless physical training for I was weak, especially in my upper body, which is so vital to wield a sword.  I was trained to ride and control a fighting horse, learned all the necessary military terms, and he drilled me on the key battles in history and the names of the generals who commanded his armies.

I know now that I should have relished these days, but at the time I was so hurt by his rejection of me I could have accepted any treatment rather than what I received. But, in spite of my feelings of personal rejection, those first weeks were so exciting in their own right. I learned so much and felt my weakness fade as the physical training showed its first effects.

The first time I saw him after my return, I scarcely knew what to expect.  Warmth, desire, passion were what I hoped to receive. Instead I received a calm, almost studied reception.

"Ares wants you in his altar room" Thuclides informed me. I had returned the previous night and had been informed that Ares was in Corinth for the night. Figures. I went to his altar room and found him seated on his throne, holding the sword that, in Thuclides' guise, he had shown me the night I left. "There you are," he began, his voice so deep and resonant just its sound was enough to arouse me. He was turning the sword over in his hands, examining the blade and then admiring the ornate figurines on the handle and hilt.

"How was your stay in Rome?"

"Fine" I replied, trying to keep my mind blank so he wouldn't know of my failed affair with Dimitris,a young artist I had met during my exploration of the city. I focused instead on the sword, the Amazon warriors, their breasts cut off so they could fight more effectively.

"Only fine? Rome has much to offer those who know its delights. You made an offering to me. I saw you with a young man. Tell me about him. What was your relationship with him?" I looked at him and although his face was expressionless, I sensed that he already knew.  I thought back myself to that day when I met Dimitris and the next when I ran from him, shamed at my inability to please him.

-----

At first, Rome was everything I wanted it to be, everything I remembered it to be from my time there as a small girl, but as with all my tales, Rome was yet one more lesson for my foolish heart to learn. I stayed with my Uncle and Aunt at their home, but leased a small studio for a month so I could spend my spare time painting. I cherished my solitude there. The room faced south and I got wonderful light all day. At night, the patio was cool and I sat and enjoyed the gentle breezes. I stayed there once in a while over night, much to my Aunt's chagrin. She was worried my family's honor will be hurt by my boldness but I merely told her "This is Rome! There is nothing I could do that could shock these people."

The day I met him, I went on a walking tour of the city to explore its architecture and art. My Aunt insisted we take the tour, but she was ill and so I went alone. I would have rather been in my studio painting, but went anyway. We were a small group comprised of visitors from out of Rome and students who take this tour as part of their classes.

We said hello to each other and set off to explore the city. I stayed in the background and listened to the students as they peppered their teacher, our guide, with their questions. I surveyed the group - several women with their husbands - visitors from Greece as I am. The students were all younger than me and there are two young men, older than me, but in my age range. Both were quite handsome. One, a Roman from the style of his hair and toga, told me his name was Antony Pilaeus. He glanced at me frequently and finally dropped back to walk beside me as we made our way along the streets to our next destination.

------

"Visiting from Greece?" I nod and say nothing. I do not want any man's attention while I am here. ‘Leave me alone!' I think to myself. Saying good-bye to Asklesius was hard enough. I can't imagine falling in love with a Roman while I am here and having to say yet another good-bye.

He persists, asking me about my family, my relatives here in Rome, my interest in architecture, my age, and if I have a lover stashed somewhere. He is smiling at me with an impudent grin and I can't suppress my smile at his suggestive comments. He relents finally when I say nothing and amuses me instead with stories of his time in Rome and the seedier side of its attractions. I tolerate his presence. But it is the other man I am drawn to. Greek like me, with long dark hair pulled back in a tie, very tall and well- built - I can see the strength in his thighs as he kneels down to inspect an inscription at the base of a crumbled column.

His back is very broad and strong, and his eyes are dark and framed by expressive brows and a strong forehead. He looks at me only fleetingly - uninterested in me, more interested in the tour than this young Greek countrywoman. I suppose this makes him all the more desirable, and I wish, silly fool that I am, that he was pestering me instead of Antony. Why do I always want that which I can't have?

We walk along and I keep my eyes on him, and learn that his name is  Dimitris. He is also of the best families in Greece. I know my Aunt would be planning our engagement already if she could see him! Luckily she couldn't join me today or she would have been over to him and pestering him on my behalf. Well, as I already said, I am not interested in men right now, although I feel that for this one, I could be persuaded to make an exception. He is so damn attractive! And his body - I am already imagining what he would be like as a lover - hi skin is a warm bronze color and his lips - I have only seen such lips on the statues that populate this wonderful city.

"So Sophia," Antony says to me as the tour proceeds, "I have told you almost everything I can about myself, but you have said hardly one word about yourself. Tell me, what are you doing in Rome?"  I don't really want to tell him, but he has been so amusing as we walk along the streets that I feel it would be impolite to say nothing.

"I am just here to visit relatives, see the city and do some painting. A holiday before I go back to my studies."

"Are you an art student, then?"  I said yes. I wasn't about to tell him I was going back to learn the art of warfare from the God of War.

"So you are doing some painting. I would love to see them. Why don't you take me to your studio and show me?" I laugh at him and he smiles. "I'm perfectly serious, Sophia. I am an artist as well, and have studied with some of the best teachers in Athens and Rome in my time."

"Your time? You don't seem so old to me!" I laugh and he smiles. "Older than you. Experienced. Mature. Full-bodied. Skilled."

"Not too subtle, either" I say and pick up my pace so I can join the others who have made their way ahead of us.

"Come now, Sophia - you are a beautiful young girl - this is Rome, you're away from your family..."

I edge forward, trying to get close enough to the others so I don't have to put Antony in his place. Not that I would mind, but I would rather have this conversation stop without any confrontation. Dimitris seems to see my distress and falls back beside me. "There is a wonderful fresco - not on this tour, I discover, that you really should see if you are a painter. Would you like to go with me and see it after the tour is over?" He smiles at me and winks conspiratorially - he has given me an out, a reason to avoid any further conversation with the persistent Antony. Of course, I am very happy to take it! So he has been listening to our conversation - this pleases me to no end. I am almost glad my Aunt forced me to take this tour after all.

Dimitris' voice is very deep and warm. Gods! He is beautiful. His hand goes to the small of my back as we pass under the Arch of Janus, and Antony sees this small act of possession and laughs. "Well, you can't blame a man for trying!" he mutters behind us. Dimitris says nothing and we merely walk around the structure, listening to our guide as he points out its features.

I can hardly wait to be alone with him, to see this fresco - and I truly hope there is a fresco to see. I am as interested in his taste in art as I am in tasting him, I think to myself. Sophia! You are terrible. You have this man in bed with you already.  I have decided I wouldn't mind breaking my own promise not to get involved with any man while I am here. Dimitris presents too much of a temptation.

As we walk along, Dimitris points out small features of the city the guide misses or ignores and I ask him why he is taking this tour if he knows so much already. "I have a general knowledge of architecture, but lack the specific application of it in this city. I am here to learn about Rome in particular. I have lived in Athens all my life."

So - an Athenian! He just gets more desirable by the minute. If he lives in Athens, then he has been exposed to all of our culture's best art. I look forward to talking more with him and hope once again that he was serious about his fresco and was not just helping me out.

He touches me frequently as we continue on the tour - just small touches, on my arm to point something out, taking my elbow to steer me around a corner, touching the small of my back when we go up stairs. He looks down at me and smiles frequently and keeps his voice very intimate and soft as we speak. I can feel my silly girl's heart melting and kick myself mentally for being so weak. Yet, I argue with myself, life is short and there are so few opportunities for happiness and pleasure and our end comes all too soon. Why not take what you can along the way?

There is a fresco - a beautiful fresco - and we go there once the tour is over. We say our good-byes to the group and make our way to the Temple of Portunus where a particularly magnificent work is displayed. I am amazed when I see it and am glad I agree to come here with him. The colors and shapes are fantastic and I survey it closely to see the brush technique and layering of paint. Dimitris stands back and watches me examine the fresco. I feel his eyes on me, and know he is pleased that I am enjoying his treat so much.

"We have hardly scratched the surface of the art in this place," he says as we leave, "I have been here for less than a week, but have seen a great deal. If you would like, I'll take you on a private tour tomorrow afternoon."

"I would like that very much" I reply and we say our own good-byes and I return to my Uncle's home, having agreed to meet Dimitris at the Theatre of Marcellus after the mid-day meal.

Of course, I am preoccupied all evening, thinking of Dimitris and our meeting tomorrow. I go to my room and have a hot bath before bed and feel such a need for relief - my mind has been working so hard imagining making love with him, his naked body against mine, exploring his body with my mouth, him exploring me. I am so worked up from my imaginings I must relieve myself, but it offers me such hollow reward. I want to feel him inside of me.

-------

My heart is pounding as I leave my Uncle's house and make my way to the Theatre of Marcellus to meet with Dimitris for my private tour of Rome. The foolish girl that I am, I take extra care with my hair today and do not protest at wearing the color that will mark me as a member of the great families of Greece. I pinch my cheeks from habit, but my face is already so flush from my excitement, I really don't need it. Oh, damn. I don't want him to think I am any different than yesterday - just a young art student visiting Rome for a holiday and to see the art. He seems to know a great deal about one of the subjects most dear to my heart - how can I not be impressed with him?

I see him leaning against the wall beside the Theatre of Marcellus. He is looking the other way and I have a moment to savor the image he presents. His hands are behind his back and one knee is bent, supporting his weight and I can see the muscles in his calf and thigh bulge from exertion. He is wearing a light blue tunic, short in length, revealing his muscular legs and the tunic is sleeveless, revealing his wonderful arms and shoulders. The muscles of his chest impose on his tunic - I can see them through his clothing, and as I survey below his belt, I can imagine an ample swelling there as well. Gods, he is a vision. His hair is down today. It is so lustrous, a deep chestnut brown with strands of gold that catch the sunlight. When he turns in my direction and his dark eyes meet mine, I swear I feel a shock of desire surge through me that almost stops me in my tracks it is so powerful. I felt this very feeling that day on the battlefield when I first saw Ares. How can such beauty exist in a man?

A breeze picks up a stand of his hair and it blows across his face. His hand rises to brush it out of his vision and he smiles at me. I am transfixed. He comes to me, seeing that I have stopped at the gate.

"Hello again." I can barely speak to reply. Foolish girl!

He motions with his hand and we walk together along the narrow cobble street, and he talks to me, his voice that same restrained warmth, always looking at me carefully when he speaks, his full attention returning frequently when I reply. He walks with his hands folded behind his back and we stop every now and then to inspect some vendor's wares or look at this or that architectural feature. I must admit I feel as if I am in some dream and I can barely remember our conversation.

We pass by the Temple of Mars Ultor and I must stop in once more to make my offering to Ares. I reach in to my pocket to retrieve dinari for a sacrifice but do not find enough and I am mortified. Dimitris seems to know immediately what the problem is and he restrains my hand and purchases a small goat for me from a vendor outside the temple.

"Is this enough of a sacrifice for you?" he asks as the vendor picks the goat up by its bound feet and prepares to take it into the temple to the priest who will slit its throat.  It is, of course, more than I had planned to buy. "I'm so embarrassed" I reply, but he merely shakes his head and we follow the goat into the darkened interior.

I lay my hand on the huge stone altar and remember that day when I was bound hand and foot to the one in the Halls of War in Thessaly. My eyes close at the memory that floods back of that dark day - Ares at once so cruel above me as he forced himself on me, and yet, so kind later when he knew. Whispering in my ear, holding me as I wept, as the blackness overtook me and the memories returned. Today I will offer this sacrifice in thanks for his cruelty - it was this that brought my memories back and freed me from them. I will thank him as well for his kindness and his willingness to let me train and fight beside him so I can slay my own fears.

I watch as the goat is readied for the sacrifice. As the supplicant, I am permitted close quarters and watch as the priest takes his knife and slits its throat and at first,  the blood spurts out in a graceful arc into the bowl held below. Then the goat jerks in shock and in its death-throes and the stream of blood sprays on me, across my chest and my chin and in my blonde hair. This startles me and I look up into Dimitris' eyes and see there is a look of what? Desire? But there is something else - something so familiar - I can't place it. Perhaps it is that hair, so long and straight - Asklesius. I stand still as the priest wipes the blood off my face and daubs it off my tunic and hair.

"This is a good omen." he says, and smiles at me. "Mars will look on you with favor." I feel pleased at his words - Ares has already looked on me with more favor than I deserved. But when he said those words I was struck by the feeling that this favor would not last long. "Do not bathe for a day so the god will see this blood on you, and recognize your sacrifice." I can barely listen to the priest - I am overtaken by such a feeling of desire for Dimitris. I feel that I want to leave the temple, to go back to my studio with him, to put off the tour and feel his skin against mine. He seems to have the same thought - the blood of the sacrifice making us both feel the gravity of this day and our attraction to each other.  "I need to change" I say, turning to view the Throne of Mars Ultor. I wonder if Ares is here, watching this spectacle and if he is pleased.

We walk in silence to my studio. I take his hand in a bold gesture and we walk up the stairs to my rooms. I close and lock the door and I want to throw myself at him, but I hold back, unsure of how to proceed  - he is a new lover who might not enjoy a woman who likes to lead. He touches my cheek  and tilts my face up and kisses me softly, then slips his arms around my waist and pulls my body to him so I feel his hard cock pressed against my groin. Then a wave of desire sweeps over me with such force - I am so filled with desire for Dimitris - it inflames me. So much desire! So much lust it actually almost blinds me.

He picks me up with ease and carries me to my small bed. "I think it is too small for me" he says, as he began to undress me, taking off my blood-stained tunic and kissing my neck and breasts, licking the blood that has stained my skin. His arms circle my waist and he burrows his face in me, his tongue finding my flesh. I try to spread my legs to give him greater access but am unsteady in this awkward position. He stands up and looks around and sees my table on which I had laid out a small provision of food - it is just the right height. He carries me to it and I sit down as he kneels down in front of me, spreading my thighs as his tongue traces a line up from my knee to my inner lips, licking me in long tortorous strokes.

I could come now, but when I am just about to, he stops and licks my thigh and I gasp as my feelings abate. I lean back, and allow him to continue,  giving over control to him.  Soon, he brings me back to the point of orgasm with his careful attention to my swollen clit, his fingers stroking inside me. I want to come so badly but at the same time, I fight to delay the orgasm, to feel that delicious desire build once again. As if sensing this, he complies. Finally I can wait no longer and I lean up to him and pull him up to my mouth, kissing him and asking him to let me suck him.

I feel so foolish! I don't want to appear too forceful. He merely closes his eyes and nods, as if unable to speak so I eagerly pull his tunic over his head and run my hands over his body - his beautiful strong body!

I can barely breathe as I remove his undergarment and see that cock for the first time! He is very large – not quite as large as Ares, but I think, who could compete with the God of War? I touch him and feel a shiver go through him. I stroke him and he moans in reply. I lick the drop of semen off his cock and close my eyes. I have not tasted a man for so long. I want this so much! Even though it is not Ares. Dimitris is himself so desirable, that he will do quite well as a substitute.  Even so, I imagine Ares' own cock and wonder how he tastes – wonder if a god tastes sweeter than this and can't imagine it is possible.

I suck and stroke him,  feeling lost in this act, drowning in it,  my own desire rising as I feel his cock harden in my mouth. He stops me and I pause and stroke his thighs. He wants me to delay as he has done with me, and I willingly comply. I cup his heavy balls in my hand, and lick them, taking one in my mouth,  then the other, my tongue sweeping around them, and then he is ready again and I return to his cock. I feel him tremble and know he is close once again. Finally he pushes me away and lifts me up, and turns me around against the table to take me from behind. He enters me effortlessly and I raise up on my toes to provide him better access – it feels so delicious in this position,  the strain on my legs adds to my pleasure and I feel his hand come around and push my fingers out of the way so he can take over, stroking my clit as he pumps in me.
 
I am almost there! His fingers on my clit, his hard cock stroking me in long smooth thrusts, my legs straining. But he pulls out and I feel the head of his cock pressing at my anus.  He reaches for a flask of oil I have on the table and spreads it on me, on his cock,  then  his finger slides inside me and he spreads me. NO! No. Why this? I feel my desire recede rapidly despite his expert manipulation of my clit, and his slow preparation of me, spreading me so he can enter me without pain. He does not know of course, what this means to me. Other women must love this act for so many men to want to do it – even Asklesius tried but never did again after my almost hysterical refusal. How can I stop him now? I stand mute, torn, and instead of panic, instead of fear, my memories only dull my desire, break my heart for myself and this pain that still resides within.

I can not enjoy this – no matter how I try. I make no protest, nor do I respond to him, but he seems lost in his own pleasure and starts to thrust slowly inside,  his fingers maintaining a steady motion on my clit. Will I have to pretend to enjoy this  so he will get it over with? I have never once pretended  and don't want to start, but Dimitris will soon be just a memory and I want this over as soon as possible.  I stoop low enough and feign pleasure, crying inside at this debasement. Dimitris thrusts inside me but I feel his erection lapse and then he pulls out of me abruptly and turns away from me, grabbing his tunic and dressing. "I am sorry, Sophia. This is not working." He pulls the tunic over his head and then pulls on his undergarments. He straightens his hair and gives me a look of disappointment. I cannot please him – I am unable to respond to his desires well enough to give him the pleasure he needs. I feel devastated. I know that I will have to go to Ares for help. If anyone can teach me to like this act, it will be him.

-----

And so I returned to the Halls of War earlier than I had expected,  depressed at the failed encounter with the lovely Dimitris and my heart broken at my treatment of Asklesius. My time in Rome was mixed – I enjoyed its art and architecture – what I saw of it, but feel so confused inside. Now standing here in front of Ares for the first time since my return, I feel anger well up inside of me.

"You already know" I said, realizing that I could not hide anything from him, try as I might.  He smiled.

"Don't be too upset, Sophia. Love, or in this case, lust,  is never entirely free of frustration and disappointment. Even for me. Last night - a case in point." He stood up and came to stand in front of me. I looked up at that face, his dark eyes, his full red lips, cheekboned sharp, dark curls framing his face. Heat coming off him, warming me. Gods! He is so desirable.

"I was with the King, and I swear, no matter how many times he sucked me and I fucked him, I couldn't get enough. It was so... annoying."

FUCK YOU. I screamed in my mind, knowing he could read my thoughts. Bastard. Rubbing my face in my own failure to please Dimitris. I looked up at that leather- clad body and felt such a mixture of lust and hatred. A small smile touched his lips. "One day you will be free of these memories, Sophia. When you are ready, come to me. Until then, you have much to learn if you want to be a warrior."

 "I was hoping you would help me forget my memories." I replied, my face red with embarrasment at my own honesty. He looked at me for a moment. "I'm not a healer, Sophia. For that, you had better go back to your Asklesius."

"Am I free to leave then - to return to him from time to time?" I asked, waiting for his refusal.

"Be my guest."

He handed me the sword. "Here, take this. It is for you to use in training." I took it from him and looked at it once more. I wanted to shove it through his black heart, but knew that would be a meaningless gesture. Instead I admired its craftsmanship.

"Thank you, Ares" I replied, swallowing my hurt and anger. "Thank you as well for this sword."  He dismissed me with a wave of his hand. I turned and left, but he called to me as I went through the door,

"It was sitting around gathering dust."

-------

Each day I trained, either strength training or on the horse. Finally, about a month after my return, Ares allowed me to try my hand at sword play with the suit of armor. We fought under Ares' watchful eye in the hall of weapons - a small narrow room lined with all manner of swords, spears, armor and knives.

"Watch its feet - where and how it moves will give you a hint about the kind of stroke it will administer. Try to anticipate the next move - it will alternate to put you off, but will also repeat an action assuming that you will expect its opposite. Part of this is instinctual - you must try to see the entire warrior with your whole sight - then respond to its actions."

What does he mean, watch the entire warrior with my whole sight? How can I watch its feet as well as the whole? If its instinctual, how can I ever learn?

Ares walked around the two of us - watching us as we fought, commenting on my performance.  What a sight we must have made.  Me, a small female dressed in real leathers, not the skimpy suit he dressed me in the day he took me to the battlefield, and the empty suit of armor which Ares had animated with his powers. My arms were exhausted, and I felt I could not lift the sword or shield one more time. "Ares. Please. I need to stop." I turned to look at him, to plead with him. The suit of armor came crashing at me, and knocked me over with its shield. I fell back and was knocked out by the force of the fall.

When I regained consciousness, I was lying on my bed at the back of the annex. Thuclides hovered over me and Ares leaned against the wall in the background, his arms crossed. "Oh, gods, my head" I moaned. I felt as if my brains had been mashed. I sat up and looked at Ares. "Why did you have to hurt me like that?"

"If you were on the battlefield, you would not be able to say, ‘Please stop - I'm too tired and weak'. You'd either find the strength or be killed."  I lay back and closed my eyes. "Well, I guess I'd be dead now. At least I wouldn't have this pain."

"Sophia," Ares said, his voice impatient, "You are free to leave at any time."

"Ares" I cried, "you can't expect more of me than I am able to give."  He shook his head. "I can and I will. That's the only way you will improve."

"If I don't die of a fractured skull first. I feel as though I can barely speak."

"For the love of Zeus" he said, his voice impatient. He came and stood beside the bed and waited until Thuclides moved out of the way, then sat down beside me. He was dressed in an ornate vest with intricate carving on the leather, and it was studded with metal points. His curls looked so alluring, falling softly on his shoulders, one curling on his forehead. He looked in my eyes for only the briefest moment and then looked away as he laid a hand on my forehead then slid it behind my head where I had struck it during my fall. I felt his warmth through his hand and soon the pain was gone and my mind felt clearer. I closed my eyes, startled one again at his power to heal me. I grabbed his hand in mine and pulled him down closer.

"Ares" I whispered, "Heal my heart as well. Take these memories away."  I opened my eyes and looked into his and saw there anger touched with what seemed to be sadness.

"Sophia." he said, pulling his hand away as if I had the plague, "there are some wounds even I can't heal by myself. You will have to help, and I'm not sure you are able to yet." He stood up and left me alone with Thuclides, who helped me up. "Change your clothes and go to the altar room. There's someone Ares wants you to meet."

"Who?" I asked as I began undressing. Thuclides turned away. I was no longer a slave, but a member of the ruling class who was here to train with Ares. I had status even though I was still in the same old dark room.

"Caesar."

"Oh, gods" I muttered, as I pulled on my best gown and began to unbraid my hair. "Are they lovers too? I don't think I want to have to start watching him again, Thuclides."

"Well, be prepared, Sophia. All Ares' guests end up as his lovers sooner or later. They have already done so alone and with others since he arrived. Caesar is unlike anyone I've met before. He is the most powerful mortal on earth at this time and as decadent as Ares - perhaps more so."

"Well, we're in trouble then." I replied, pinching my cheeks to mask the way I blanched at Thuclides' warning. I was no one. Why did Ares need to debase me in this manner?

"Remember Sophia - you are free to leave. If you don't, then, by default,  you accept his treatment of you."

"I know, I know. I am a silly idiot of a girl. Don't remind me."

--------

I walked to the reception room with trepidation. Caesar. Well, I was no longer Ares' slave. He couldn't force me to do anything I didn't want, although he could threaten to stop training me.  I enetered the room and saw the two of them kissing - Ares leaning back against the altar, one arm supporting his weight, the other pulling the emperor against him posessively. Ares was dressed all in black leather and looked so powerful and virile. The emperor was lean and not as tall, and compared to Ares, he seemed almost feline in his beauty. He had dark wavy hair cut short.  He was wearing a white tunic with a thick gold stripe on the edge of the material. He almost lay on Ares' huge muscled body. The sight of them together aroused me immediately. Caesar turned to me as I walked in and he broke their kiss.  His face betrayed supreme intellegence, his eyes sharp and piercing. His lips looked swollen - as if they had been kissing or who knows what for an extended period of time. Ares did not look at me, but kept his gaze on the Roman leader.

"Ah." Caesar said, his hand slid down Ares' broad shoulder and arm to his hand. "Here she is - the former slave and now mighty warrior."

I turned on my heel and left the room.

"Sophia." Ares voice rang out, "I didn't give you leave. Come back."

"Fuck you." I whispered, hurrying down the hall to my room. Tears had already begun to build in my eyes as I realized how foolish I must seem. A silly girl training to fight like a man. What had ever got in my fool head?

I felt Ares' presence and then saw him out of the corner of my eye as I was stuffing my things back in my small bag. He was standing in the doorway - taking up its whole size with his bulk, one arm leaning on the door frame, the other on his hip.

"You can't always run away, Sophia." I nodded.

"You're right, I can't. But I can now." I was shaking I was so upset.

"Don't get too used to running from your troubles - sometimes you must just face them or you may never be able to do anyting else but run." I stopped what I was doing and wiped the tears off my face.

 "Don't let the emperor get to you." he said, as he came to stand beside me. "He must have a reaction from everyone - usually gained through pain or humiliation. He is expert at gaguing his opponents' weaknesses and exploiting them for his own gain. That's why he is in the position he is in today. He goes right for the jugular to make sure everyone knows he is smarter and more powerful than they are."

"Why bother with him?"

"Sophia," he chuckled, "he is the most powerful mortal in the entire civilized world. Who could possibly be more suited as a lover for a god?" I turned to him finally. I knew I must look a sight - tears streaking my face, my eyes and nose red from crying.

"Ares. Why must you torment me? Why do you want me to meet your lover?"

"By all means, if you don't want to meet him, feel free to leave now. You are not my slave anymore. I just thought you might enjoy hearing Caesar himself tell us of the battle tomorrow. I was going to invite you along - give you a chance to try out some of those moves you've been practicing."

As usual, Ares knew the one thing to say to me to keep me at his side. I looked away for a moment, angered at his skill in manipulating me, and pleased at the opportunity to go with him again into battle. "Just give me a minute" I asked. I went to the wash basin and splashed my face with cool water. I cupped my hands and filled them with the cool liquid and held it against my eyes, which I knew would be bloodshot from the tears.  Ares remained in the doorway and watched me. I didn't try to hide this attempt to repair my apperance. Why bother? Ares knew everything - every thought, every emotion. In a way it gave me a freedom. No more acting, no more trying to be strong.

-------

"I can't let him see me like this." I whispered, almost to myself, although I knew he could hear me. He came and stood in front of me and pulled me away from the basin. I looked up at him, wiping my eyes again. "Let him see you like this. It will please him to no end, seeing your tears, knowing that he can hurt you so easily. It makes him feel powerful." I sighed, tired at the power games we all played with each other.

"Sophia," he began, "I will offer you a piece of advice. You should take it - it will make your life here, perhaps elsewhere, a lot easier." He took my chin in his hand and made me look in his eyes. It was so hard.

"Submit willingly. To Caesar. To me, for that matter. Give Caesar what he wants - what is his due. You will find you get what you want in the end." I pulled away from him, not wanting this kind of advice.

"You advice sounds pretty self-serving to me, Ares. You submit to no-one." He laughed and turned away, pulling me along with him.

"Sophia. I am the god - you have said so yourself. Caesar is the Leader of Rome. And you could not be more wrong. Even I submit sometimes - when it serves my purposes, that is."

I had no choice but to follow him.

-------

We entered the altar room and Ares marched me over to Caesar and stood behind me, his hands on my shoulders. "Here she is, Julius. Sophia - my...diversion."

Caesar looked me over. "Emotional little thing, isn't she? I thought you said she was an Amazon. I'd have thought an Amazon was strong enough to stand the truth." Ares kept his hands on me, almost posessively. "She is strong enough. Has quite a will. I have been trying to teach her to submit, but she finds submission very difficult. We are still working on this, Sophia and I."  He turned me around and pulled me against him, and smiled at my flush. I had visions of a threesome with these two - visions I did not relish. I felt that Caesar would prove to be a very unsympathetic lover. I would not know until much later how right I was.

"Don't worry, Sophia," he whispered in my ear as he kissed my neck, licking it as my Asklesius did, "I have other plans for this night."  I shivered at the sound of his voice and the feel of his hot breath in my ear. "If you submit to me, willingly, I will give you what you want." My eyes were closed and I thought - he is going to make me fuck him in front of Caesar - that is what this is about. He wants to prove to Caesar that one mortal is as good as another to him - whether they are a powerful ruler or a former slave girl.

"Sometimes," he said, kissing my throat, "you are very perceptive, Sophia." How could I not feel a surge of desire sweep through me at his attention and the promise of sex with him? Even if it was in front of Caesar? Yet, I have to admit I could not easily submit - something inside of me fought to retain an element of control - even if it was only in the form of a comment or protest. I pushed him away - or, should I say, he allowed me to move out of his embrace.

"Ares. Why must you play with us like this? Why is everything a game with you?"

"I like to play games, Sophia. They amuse me." I turned and looked at Caesar. He was across the room from the altar, lounging on a chair, resting his chin on his hand. Ares came over to me once again and stood behind me. His chin was inches above my own head, he was so tall. His strong arms went around my shoulders and he bent down and kissed my neck again. Caesar watched Ares with a look of amusement on his face, but I also saw anger there - his nostrils were flared and I saw a muscle in his jaw bulge momentarily as he clenched his teeth.

"She's not my type, but I might enjoy being in the audience for a change, Ares. If you think you're going to bother me with your little girl, you're wrong. You know my tastes run along the more exotic - I would have chosen someone else for this little scene if its merely my jealousy you're after."  Ares chuckled in my ear.

"Don't believe a word he says" he whispered.

"Ares," I said softly so Caesar wouldn't hear me, "please - find someone else for this." I turned to him so that I faced him and looked up directly in his eyes, "Not me. Leave things as they are." He pulled me close and kissed me deeply. I felt stabs of desire through me.

"You don't really mean that, Sophia. You want me. Admit it."

"I admit it. I've always wanted you. You've always known that."

"Then submit to me. If you do, you will have what you want."

I felt that if we had been alone, I would submit - willingly. But I knew that in this setting, the sex we would have would be purely so Ares could make some point, forge some kind of relationship with Caesar - it had little, if anything to do with me.

"It has much to do with you," he replied, reading my thoughts as his hands circled my waist. "It would not have as much meaning if it was with any other woman. You must know this by now, Sophia. I haven't spent this much time with you for no reason." He knew just the right words to say. This is what I wanted to hear from him, what I hoped was the truth. Still, he was doing this to make a point with Caesar. If not, this would be happening in private.

"Sophia." he laughed, squeezing me closer, "can you not indulge me? I happen to enjoy an audience, or hadn't you noticed?" I looked in his eyes. It was impossible to read him beyond amusement mixed with desire. Oh, gods. His arms were around me and his body was pressed so close against me. I could feel his hardness, smell his musk, his saltiness. If I could just forget that Caesar was in the room.

And then I did it. I decided to submit. To let him lead me where he wanted me to go. I let go of my need for control and felt it drain out of me, leaving me blank, open, waiting for him. He sensed my submission and it evoked an immediate response in him - so strong it almost knocked me out. He seemed to enclose me completely in his arms, and yet, I felt already pressed so tightly against him - how could this be? He kissed me deeply, hungrily, and my desire welled up in me with such strength I felt dizzy.

"Suck my cock" he said, loud enough for Caesar to hear. I knew he wanted Caesar to witness my compliance - he wanted Caesar to know that he - Ares - could be pleased as easily by a mere girl as by a mighty conquerer.  I felt such a surge of lust at his command - finally to be ordered to do what I had wanted all along. My mouth moved down his chest, my hands parted his vest and pushed it off his shoulders so my tongue could find his nipples, which I licked and then bit gently, first one then the other.  Then my hands moved down to his pants and I untied them, pushing them carefully over his hips and that massive erection. I could not suppress a gasp of pleasure when I saw it spring free from its confines. His semen glistened at the head and on the skin of his abdomen, and I knelt down and licked him, relishing the taste of him. It raised the level of my own desire.

He leaned against the altar, adjusting his height to my own level as I wrapped my arms around him. I took him in my mouth, as much as I could, till he filled me, the head of his cock pressed against the back of my throat. I pulled off him in one smooth move and then once again, took him into my mouth as far as possible. I was shaking I wanted him, wanted this, so badly. Then I took the head of his cock in my mouth and sucked it, my tongue sweeping around the glans while my hand stroked his length. "Yes," he whispered, "yes. .." I began moving on him, one hand keeping a firm grip on the thick shaft, while the other cupped his balls, my fingers stroking his perineum, the tight circle of his anus, then feeling him yield, sliding inside him, penetrating him. I heard his gasp of pleasure, felt him push against me, felt his thighs tremble.

Oh, gods. To feel his response to me - to have this power to give him - a god - such pleasure. It was intoxicating. I looked up and saw him watching me as I moved on his cock. His dark eyes were half-closed, his bronze skin flushed, his nostrils flared as he breathed deeply and slowly, his focus on the sensations and the image before him.  I knew the sight of me sucking him was as important to the experience as the actual stimulation. His cock grew even harder, and I felt the muscles in his hard ass tighten as his pleasure grew and he neared his release. I shifted, altered my strokes to call halt to the build up of his desire, and he exhaled heavily,  almost panting in response.

Then the slow increase once again of sensation, until his hand went to my hair, gripping it, guiding my motions, indicating his need for more pressure, for an increased pace to my movements. I complied, knowing he didn't want to wait any longer. His hips pushed forward, thrusting his cock deeper into my willing mouth and I felt him tense, heard his breath catch in his throat, grunting as the spasms shook him and his semen began to shoot into me. I pulled back, and held his cock just outside my parted lips, my tongue extended so he could watch his semen spurt into my mouth, so he could see me swallow it.  I knew this would please him and I swallowed greedily, feeling that silky smooth liquid on my tongue, its taste salty- sweet. I lifted my eyes to meet his so he would know how much I loved this, how much I wanted his complete pleasure, and I saw that he could hardly keep his eyes on me, so overtaken was he by force of his orgasm. Once his final shudders subsided, he leaned down and pulled me up to him, crushing me against him, his mouth devouring mine, tasting himself on my tongue.

And then he took me to his altar and swept away the offerings and laid me down, pushing me back so my head was off the edge.  He took my legs and wrapped them around his shoulders and then licked and sucked my clit, his hands reaching up to stroke my breasts, pinch my nipples to hardness. I was so aroused from sucking him that it took little time to bring me to my own powerful orgasm and I cried out as I grabbed his hair and pulled his mouth against me, grinding him into me. But he wasn't finished - his cock was now hard once more, and he pulled me, still almost delerious from my orgasm, off the altar and turned me around to face it and Caesar who sat red faced, watching us.

He pushed inside me in one smooth move, and in spite of his great size there was no pain - I was so wet from my own arousal and his saliva. His hand found my vulva and he stroked it, building back my desire as he moved slowly inside of me, kissing my shoulder, my neck.  Then I was almost ready - I felt the familiar sweetness build in my groin, in my cunt. I squeezed my muscles to provide more tension, but then he withdrew and I felt a cool slippery liquid on my back, my buttocks, and I realized it was oil. He rubbed the oil on my anus and on his cock, then slipped a finger inside me. I gasped and felt my muscles tense in reaction, felt my tears welling up, the hurt competing for prominence with anger and betrayal.  He leaned over me, his arm going around my waist, the other hand brushing the hair from my face.

"No, Sophia." he whispered in my ear, "Don't fight this. Submit to me. You will get what you want."

I tried to yield to him, to blank my mind of resistance, to open myself to him. His fingers spread me and I tried to relax, to breathe deeply and allow him access, then felt his cock enter me, slowly, ever so slowly.  He kissed my neck and laid his head on my shoulder, his fingers finding my clit and stroking it. We remained in this position for some moments, him fully inside of me, not moving as he stroked me, kissed my back, my neck, my shoulder. I felt the intense pressure of him inside me, I felt the muscles in my back and jaw and thighs start to relax. Soon, I felt pleasure build from his touch, and as he sensed my response, he started to move within me, slowly at first, and when I kept responding to him, as my desire grew and the pleasure increased in spite of my fleeting feelings of fear and revulsion, his tempo increased. I wanted then for this lingering fear inside of me to be gone, to master this act, so it had no power over me anymore, so I could lose the pain and grief that lay coiled inside me. It took all my strength to blot out the blackness, and I wasn't sure if I could allow the pleasure to gain prominence, to become swept up in it so that I could actually build to an orgasm with him inside of me, fucking me this way.

But I did.

And as my orgasm built, I felt the blackness dissipate, replaced by warmth, replaced by pleasure, and I cried out his name. His thrusts increased in force and he moaned over me, his breath caught in his throat. I lay my head on the altar and wept in relief.

Caesar clapped his hands. "Bravo, Ares. Well played. Objections overcome, submission obtained, the god of war is triumphant." If Caesar wanted a reaction from Ares, he did not get it. Ares instead turned me around and held me close, lifting me up as I buried my face in his neck. My legs circled his waist and I wept softly, my cheek pressed against his. He pulled back and looked at me and I could barely stand the sight of him, he was so beautiful. His dark eyes were warm and there was no hint of any triumph or arrogance on his face, only pleasure. He kissed me so tenderly. I felt my silly girl's heart breaking inside me - breaking for him, for his willingness to take on the burden of my pain and help me heal myself. To teach me not to run, but to find the courage to face my fears and surmount them.

________________________________________________________________________ ___________
And now my charms are all o'erthrown
And what strength I have's mine own
Which is most faint: now t'is true
I must here be released by you
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults
As from your crimes would pardon'd be
Let your indulgence set me free
Prospero's Closing Speech, The Tempest  by William Shakespeare
 End of Part One
______________________________________________________________________________
Part 2
 
   O Cicero,
               I have seen tempests, when the scolding winds
               Have rived the knotty oaks, and I have seen
               The ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam,
               To be exalted with the threatening clouds:
               But never till to-night, never till now,
               Did I go through a tempest dropping fire.
               Either there is a civil strife in heaven,
               Or else the world, too saucy with the gods,
               Incenses them to send destruction.
Casca,  Act 1,  Scene 3, Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
______________________________________________________________________________
 

I knew Ares when he had just begun his seduction of the Roman leader - when the battle lines between the two were still being set, and the relationship was only a potential. Still, it feels as though the fates destined the two to meet and fall under each other's spell. Caesar saw Ares as another acquisition - he had defeated nations, races of barbarians, and other civilized peoples. A god was just one more  conquest - possibly his greatest triumph. In the early days, there was much jostling for position as the two warriors felt each other out. Their mortal followers and playthings got crushed in between.

-------

As was typical for Ares, discussion of battle tactics followed sexual conquest with little time or need for recuperation. Caesar did not seem so willing to enter into this discussion after watching Ares fuck me. In fact, I could swear he seethed with anger and jealousy in spite of his great position of power. Ares ignored him, enjoying his anger and waited patiently for the Roman leader to comply with his wishes. Finally, seeing the determined look on the god's face, Caesar swallowed his anger and engaged Ares in a discussion of the events of the following day as Ares had demanded.

In almost stunned amazement, I sat on Ares' lap and listened as he and Caesar discussed the coming battle so soon after our orgasms - four between the two of us. Although I felt like a child sitting on her father's knee, I did not move away  - I had decided to submit fully.  He placed me there so there I stayed. The two ignored me and I was glad as I sat in silent recovery. They talked of the problems associated with subduing the local population, of the failure of diplomacy and of  betrayal by those once thought of as allies. Caesar asked Ares what he thought of Caesar's main adversary in this battle - King Casivellanunus.

"Casivellanunus? He's a problem, but one we can handle. These Britons are good fighters, strong and determined, but they're no match for your battalions, Julius."

Caesar nodded. "I anticipate triumph with your help, Ares. Yet, I wonder about these gods of theirs. Have you encountered them? What of their  powers?" Ares sniffed in derision. "These people don't have a single god  of war - they have many, both male and female - Lugus, Teutates - the  Daughters of Ernmas. We've met.  I don't fear them - I've triumphed before and will again."

"I am glad of your confidence, Ares. But to be up against so many gods of war - that certainly must be a challenge for you."

Ares shifted underneath me. I stood up to leave, feeling that my presence bothered him, but he pulled me down with one hand. "They're minor gods and goddesses, Julius. I don't expect problems with the soldiers or their gods."

Then Ares turned his attention back to me and stroked my hair. "So, Julius. Tell my Sophia about your agenda for tomorrow.  What can she expect?" Caesar laughed. "Not much of a battle, I'm afraid, if that is what she likes. Pacifying a village that supports the King. Soften up his support, rid the army of new recruits, make a point. If Sophia wants blood, I'm sure she will be satisfied." I wanted to ask a question, but felt like such a school girl with these two - the god of war and the leader of Rome.

"Ask your question," Ares said, his voice almost mocking. "You'll get no better answer than that from Caesar's own lips."

I looked at Caesar. He sat on a chair a few feet away from Ares' throne and stared at Ares through me. He smiled and raised his eyebrows. "Yes, please do, Sophia. Ask away. I'M anxious to learn the extent of your intelligence.  Ares has spoken highly of you." I'll bet he has, I thought to myself. I hesitated, for my question was the most basic and would not add anything to their own discussions. Ares hand went to my waist in encouragement.

"I don't recognize these names - King Casivellanunus. Lugus, Ernmas. Who are these people - these gods? Why do they even consider challenging Rome?" Caesar laughed at this - my show of ignorance. He turned his face away as if he could not bother with one such as me. Ares answered for him.

"Casivellanunus is a king of Brittany who has aligned with others against Rome's allies. He leads a contingent to defend Brittany against Caesar's forces. His fall is seen as the key to the conquest of this land. Lugus is a god of war, as are the daughters of Ernmas."

"So they are not directly challenging Rome? Why does Caesar venture there? What do these lands hold that make them attractive - enough to make war against them?" Ares laughed at my questions as well, but more at the number rather than their content.

"They challenge Rome by existing. If they aren't with Rome, they're against her. Caesar goes there to expand the empire, to spread civilization. These are barbarians."

I turned to Ares now, wondering about these other gods. "Are these gods of theirs as powerful as our gods?"

"Worried about me, Sophia?" he smirked, "Don't be. These gods will fall along with the armies and the leaders. I'M not threatened."

"So - there is no enemy marching on Rome to defeat? There is no threat to our safety? This is done to gain more territory, to obtain tribute, to expand the empire?"

"You sound as if you disapprove, Sophia." Caesar replied. "But Ares is correct - those who do not support Rome are against her and must be pacified. If not, they pose a threat to the natural extension of civilization to all parts of the world." It seemed logical, and I felt that to question Caesar's explanation would be irrational. Of course, I couldn't stop myself.

"So these people's first experience of civilization will be one of force and bloodshed?" Even Ares sniffed at this comment.

"Sophia! They've been offered terms of surrender, and can avoid war if their leaders submit. King Casivellanunus has chosen to fight Rome  - and will pay the price," I thought about this for a moment. They both seemed so certain of the validity of this whole business, yet I couldn't help but see my own refusal to submit to Ares in Britain's unwillingness to submit to Rome.

"Why wouldn't they accept Rome's terms?" Ares, of course, knew my mind, knew my thoughts. He chuckled and squeezed my waist with one broad hand. "Some have trouble knowing what's best for them." I turned and looked at him, unconvinced. "What does Rome offer them in return for submission?"

Here Caesar spoke up. "Civilization is reward in itself." I turned to him, eager for his explanation. "We have greater control over the elements than they do. Sophia - they do not take baths! The stink of them is almost unbearable, and they worship trees as well as gods. They piss and shit in the ground, and die at a young age from disease and malnutrition. They are a hairy and disgusting lot - Rome's influence - even if it comes about by force and bloodshed can only improve them."

This seemed so logical that I could not reply. Still, I felt uneasy about the battle tomorrow. I would be interested in seeing these barbarians, even if they were a stinking lot, but to raise my sword against men who did not threaten me or my homeland?

"Sophia," Ares said, sensing my reluctance and feeling irritated by my naivete. "Conquest is the main reason for war, defending your land against it or to gain other territory for your own glory. This is war, Sophia. Besides, the ancestors of these people invaded both Rome and Greece before. There's no reason to think they won't try again."

"You said we were going to pacify a village in support of this King Casivellanunus. What does this pacification involve?"

Caesar smiled at me. His smile was so cold and intelligent, and those dark eyes pierced my heart. "My tribunus will ride up and demand the village swear fealty to Rome. If they refuse, my soldiers will start killing the townspeople and raze the town. When they surrender, the fighting will cease and I will establish an interim government in support of Rome. So it will go until the leaders decide to submit."

I turned to Ares. His face was unreadable. "I won't be joining you tomorrow. I can't kill in cold blood."

"This is part of your training, Sophia. You don't have to raise your sword. You may watch and learn."

I placed one hand on his chest. "Ares! In case you have forgotten, I know all too well about this part of war."

"You'll come tomorrow or leave the Halls of War, Sophia. These are my terms." There was a determined set to his jaw, and I knew I would have to go and witness this if I wanted to stay here with him and train. Anger and tears well up inside of me, and I stood to leave but he held onto my arm and stopped me. Ares and Caesar continued to discuss the problems they would face tomorrow - I could not look at either. Soon I stopped listening, and thought only of my own experience of pacification.

The memories seemed clear but elicited no response in me. Our holiday in my grandfather's home on the beach, our trip to explore the local scenery, my small sisters and I wandering through the dunes and hiding as we heard the noise of the soldiers as they made their way toward the village from their boats. Running back to my grandmother and the servants who had laid a meal for us. My grandmother holding us close as the soldiers approached, sheltering me especially in her robe as if she might be able to hide my budding womanhood. Luckily the soldiers felt the twins were too young and my grandmother was too old so none were harmed except for me.

Then silence from my family - not one word about what had happened to me. I was treated with care but also embarrassment - I had been defiled. Word spread - the healer who treated me could not restrain her tongue and I soon became the one people spoke of in hushed voices. But no one ever spoke to me about this thing that happened to me - it seemed as if it were a nightmare, not a real event. Soon it faded in my mind, and I only felt the separation from others it caused me. The memories receded. I forgot them or I forced them back out of my consciousness. Or, perhaps, with no words spoken about this horror, it ceased to have a reality. I don't know which it was.

I only know that I was treated differently from then on and had to become strong and defiant to face the derision of my peers, the jeers and requests for sex from the young men who thought I was fair game, and the looks of the adults who felt guilt that they could not protect me. I could have retreated, become a recluse and lost interest in the world - perhaps taken my own life. I could not. I fought against the fate to which the people in my village had condemned me. Grasping what I could from life, I took Asklesius as a lover, studied art in Thessaly, and spoke my mind in the company of adults. I was seen as that troubled child, then a troubled young woman. As Ares had said, I became a fighter.  A problem for my parents, the one who refused to be silent. And now here I was, after all those years of defiance and struggle against my fate, submitting to Ares.

Finally, my mind played the hardest, blackest memories for me - memories of being held face down in the dirt, my tunic stripped off me, my flesh exposed, the soldiers taking turns on me, one after the other, the pain so unbearable I passed out several times and lay bleeding and unconscious as my family rushed to find me once the soldiers moved on to another victim.

Ares finally noticed my distraction and lost interest himself in further discussion. I felt his hand slide up my back to my shoulder. "Well," he said as he stretched lazily, a huge lion beneath me, "I suppose you should get some rest, Sophia. Caesar and I have a few things that...require attention before tomorrow. You may go."

I stood up and turned to Caesar and bowed to him and left, but I couldn't resist looking back at them as I went out the door. From the shadows, I saw Ares standing over Caesar, his hands on either arm of Caesar's chair. Caesar leaned forward and kissed the god and Ares reciprocated. He was insatiable. Then Ares stood up. "Suck my cock," he demanded, issuing the same command he had given me only a short hour ago. He smiled as the Roman leader began undoing his pants and pull them over his muscular thighs. That huge cock, thick and red, semen shining at the head, sprang out, striking Caesar's cheek.

The Roman looked up at the god and smiled, his hands ran up Ares' thighs and around to his buttocks, stroking the smooth flesh. His mouth moved around the god's thighs, his tongue darting out to lick Ares' flesh, his balls, then flicking at the head of the god's cock, teasing off the drop of cum. Ares' hips were thrust forward, one hand stroking his muscled flank, the other grasping the base of his cock and stroking upward, milking himself of his cum, moving the head against Caesar's lips, smearing his fluid over them. Ares watched Caesar through hooded eyes as Caesar licked his lips appreciatively.

I thought of my own act and knew all three of us were comparing Caesar's performance with my own. As I watched him suck the god's cock, I realized that I could never compete with Caesar. His decadent attack of Ares' genitals and his position of power in the mortal world overwhelmed me and my own reverent worship there.

Ares gripped the Roman's head in his hands and thrust his great cock down that willing throat, and even I could not suppress my growing desire at the sight of it moving in and out of that wet mouth, amazed at the sight of Caesar's splayed lips, his cheeks puffing with each stroke. As if he sensed my own desire, Ares turned his head and caught sight of me watching in the shadows. He turned back to Caesar and said nothing, pumping vigorously, his back curving inward as his orgasm began. Then he threw his head back, thrusting once, then twice so hard I was sure he would choke the Roman and grunted as he came, his seed spurting down Caesar's throat.

I waited, wanting to watch them complete their encounter. Ares turned the Roman towards that same altar, ripping Caesar's tunic up and off and then pouring oil over his own cock and his lover's ass.  Ares stroked his massive erection, smoothing the oil over it, lingering over the head, and then without further attention,  shoved it up the Roman's ass, one hand slipping around to Caesar's long thin cock, his stroke firm and relentless. Ares pumped away, his motion on the Roman unceasing until I saw the god's ass muscles tighten as he neared yet another orgasm. He pulled out, turned Caesar around and, a few short strokes on his thick shaft and his cum spurted over the Roman's own cock, making it slick as the god continued to jerk him to orgasm. Their semen mixed on the Roman's smooth hairless chest, and I watched as Ares leaned down and licked the cum off Caesar's nipples and belly. Then he leaned forward and kissed the Roman.

I turned and went to my room, certain that I would not be able to sleep without my own release, and I was right.
--------

I awoke with a start and saw Ares' dark form seated beside me on the small bed. His warmth sent a surge of desire through me. He said nothing, but leaned down and kissed me behind the ear as his hand slid under the coverlet to stroke my bare skin. I could see the early morning light streaking in through the small high window and knew it was dawn - time to wake and get ready for the battle. Ares shifted his weight as his hand slid down to my thighs and I heard the rickety bed creak.

"This is ridiculous," he grumbled, and the next thing I knew I was lying on top of his bed. His tongue lapped at my nipples, sucking them then biting them. My body could not deny him, his warmth and expert mouth.  I reached down to him to pull him up to me - wanting his kiss so badly. But he pulled back. "Sophia," he whispered, his mouth back on my nipple, "you must learn to submit completely. I will tell you what to do and when to do it."

"you mean I can't even reach out to you - to touch you?"

He said nothing but continued his attentions to my breasts, his hand snaking down to my cunt, sliding his fingers between the wet folds of my skin. He felt my arousal, the slickness indicating that I was already prepared for him and grunted with pleasure. His mouth moved down my belly and he spread my thighs with his broad hands. I felt his warm tongue stroke my clit, felt his hot breath on me, and knew it would not take me long to come.

"Can I at least moan with pleasure, or do I have to wait for your leave?" I couldn't help myself - but then I gasped as I felt his tongue thrust inside me. "Sophia!" he whispered as he moved up and licked my neck again. "you must always protest. Lie still. Comply." He lay on top of me and I felt that huge cock and wished only to feel it inside me, in my mouth or in my cunt. I felt him press the head against me and he entered me with one smooth push. It felt so good, that one thrust, that incredible pressure within me. He raised himself up on his hands and began to move within me, inserting his huge cock inside and then slowly pulling out, rubbing my clit with the head and then its length before entering me once again. He continued in this fashion for some time and watched as he brought me to my climax. I hated him and loved him at the same time, for his power over me and for the pleasure he could evoke. Then he pounded inside me, grunting as he spasmed, and I watched his face as he bit that full bottom lip, his dark eyes closed against the pleasure.  Then, sated, he relaxed against me.

"Get dressed," he gasped in my ear, "it's time to leave." He rolled off me and lay with his hands behind his head. I stood up and went to leave but he called out to me before I got to the door. "you may kiss me now." He smiled as I had to walk the distance back to the bed and lean over him. I did so willingly, yet he made it into an act of submission. His arm slipped around my waist and crushed me against his chest as his tongue thrust between my parted lips, meeting my own.  Oh gods! I could fuck him again, right now. I lingered over him, wanting to sit on his still-hard cock, not wanting to leave, hoping that he would want more, but he didn't. He ended the kiss and almost smirked at my disappointment.  "The day is still young, Sophia," he laughed. "Don't be so greedy."

I stood up and looked at him, anger welling up inside me. I wanted to run into my room, or better yet, slap his face, but did neither. He wanted me dressed, but I stood still, not knowing what to wear.

"Wear a gown, not your leathers. You're not going to fight today." I stood in the doorway. "Which one?" If he wanted me mute and compliant, he'd get me that way. He raised his head off the bed and looked at me, his eyes narrowed, as if he sensed that I was still pushing him, but doing so in a way that seemed even more submissive.

He lay back down and I was dressed in a flash in an ordinary gown of beige linen. It was foreign in design, with a full long skirt, fitted bodice, and long draping sleeves. I had soft leather boots on which laced up to the knee and an overcloak with hood. I knew the weather would be cooler from this garb and wondered at this place we would venture to. Britain! To travel so far - I could scarcely imagine it. This was my reward for tolerating, for acquiescing to Ares' need for my domination. If this morning and last night were the price I would pay for the chance to be a god's dalliance, I was willing.

He was up and dressed with a thought - his black leathers shining in the now growing light. I could see his erection pressing against the soft leather of his pants. He breezed by me, close enough so his arm brushed mine and I could see the smile on his face.  He was probably pleased that I liked what I saw and wanted him again, and would not get him. My insatiable lust for Ares fed his own need for adulation.  Well, he'd picked the right trifle, if this is what he wanted.

"Eat," he commanded, waving his hand behind him.  I saw a small meal laid out on the table by his hearth, and sat and ate quickly. Ares left me alone and I wondered if he was going to fetch Caesar, to wake him as he had wakened me and dispense of that erection. I didn't doubt that Ares had already sampled the Roman leader and was going back for more - tasting us both, one after the other, to compare us. Caesar pulled rank in Ares' mind - of that I was sure. Perhaps Ares had flashed to Corinth to wake the King before either of us. I knew who Ares truly loved.

After perhaps a quarter of an hour, Ares returned with Caesar, and I thought, just enough time! The food seemed a stone in my stomach, envy making my appetite and enjoyment of the meal vanish. I wanted to crawl back into bed and sleep instead of this fantastic journey we would be making, the three of us. Caesar come to stand beside me. He picked up one curling lock of my hair and stretched it straight, pulling at my scalp.

"so, Sophia. Are you ready to watch Caesar pacify the locals today?"

"No," I replied truthfully , "but I have no choice."

"Sophia, you can walk out that door this minute," Ares replied.

I didn't bother to answer. Ares knew I would not leave him. I wasn't  capable - my desire for him was too strong.

-------

My next memory was of riding on the stallion with Ares behind me. We were alone - Caesar was no longer present. I looked around in wonder at a place of such greenness, such vibrancy of color and moisture I could scarcely believe it. Towering all around us were trees, taller than I had ever seen before. Below on the ground was a thick carpet of grasses, bushes and fallen leaves. The sunlight flickered through the trees and a light breeze blew a mist around us. Such life infused that air - I breathed in and it seemed to give me energy. Ares stopped the horse and dismounted, and pulled me down after him. I stepped away and wandered around the small clearing. A shaft of sunlight struck the earth and I ran my hand through it, watching as it played over my fingers.

The grass was soft beneath me as I lay down on the ground and looked up at the sky through the circle formed by the tree tops. Fluffy clouds scudded past and I watched birds float from branch to branch in the tall trees. "This must be heaven," I whispered, closing my eyes and drinking in the moisture.

"No, actually, it isn't. If you lived among these people, it would seem more like Tartarus.  These people are barbarians, Sophia. They have no culture. No elegance." He laughed. "No bathing facilities."
I laughed with him at this remark. How could people not bathe?

"Still, this land is so full of life! So green. So wet and fertile." I looked up at the sky.

"I wish I had my paints."

"We're not here to paint." He lay on top of me and smiled over me, pleased, I think, with my response. I looked past him at the trees. How could I feel this lust for him every minute of  the day? It was unnatural, but, then again, he was a god. Unearthly. Ares' power was something most mortals only perceive dimly, while in worship, while making a sacrifice, or while standing in the temples in the presence of their gods.

I had this god's great body pressed against mine, his incredible sensuality infused by that unearthly power. And this land's own verdant energy filled me - I felt as a woman dying of thirst, when the first few drops of water slide down that parched throat. I closed my eyes and let all the sensations fill my being, sopping it up. Ares did nothing, merely lay on top of me, propped on his elbows, watching me, my face.

A grin curved the corner of his mouth as he saw me peek through my eyelids. "Ares!" I protested.  "What?" he laughed, a look of mock innocence on his face. "Quit looking at me. It's unnerving."

"Sophia. I'm the god. Remember that. If I want to lie here and look at you, I will. I thought we'd already worked this out, you and I. You submit, I dominate. It's really pretty simple."

"What are you trying to do? Why must I submit? Are you trying to teach me something? Is this part of being a warrior?" Ares rolled off me at this and was up on his feet in a fluid movement that amazed me with its grace. He seemed impatient with me, with my questions.

"I'm not trying to teach you anything. I'm the god," he held out his hand and I took it and stood up beside him, straightening out my dress and cloak, now damp from the dew. "I require submission."

"You seemed to like me when I fought you - you even told me that you preferred me on the battlefield."

He ignored me and mounted the horse, who stamped his feet and seemed pleased to have the god on his back again. Ares reached down and pulled me up in front of him. This familiar position sent my mind back to that first day when I fought beside him. I had been so eager to go with him to the battlefield - my blood was so hot that day! But now, faced with the prospect of watching innocent people dying, I felt no eagerness and my blood was cold.  I wished I could stay here, among the green trees, listening to the songbirds and smelling the moisture.

We made our way through the forest and came out at the top of a smooth hill which looked down at a settlement in a small valley. Black smoke rose in angry columns from the house fires burning below. I could only hear a few shouts from the soldiers, and occasionally a wail or scream. As we approached the settlement, my stomach clenched in blind fear. Littered on the ground in the center of the settlement were what looked like crumpled swatches of fabric dotted with bright red flowers. We drew nearer.  I realized they were bodies.

By the time we arrived, a pall of silence hung over the settlement. The killing was over. Survivors were pulling bodies away from the settlement's center and laying them in rows. I saw the bodies of men and women and my heart became ice, but the children and babies broke it into a million pieces. Hiding my face in my cloak, I tried to breathe so I would not vomit. Ares stopped the horse in the middle of the square.

"Look," he commanded, but I shook my head, unable to speak. He placed one gloved hand on my forehead and pulled my head back, forcing me to look around, to see the carnage.

"This is war, Sophia," he spat out, his usually honeyed voice harsh and cutting.

We moved on to a house at one end of the square. Several centurions stood guard at the door, their swords drawn. They saw the God of War ride up and knelt down in recognition as Ares dismounted and left me on the horse. "Stay," he said to the animal, and it did. He entered the small building, leaving me alone in the square, and I looked at the horror surrounding me.  I felt such emptiness inside. How could soldiers kill innocent people, women and children - babies! - so casually? Ares was capable of this brutality. I could imagine him in the heat of battle killing anyone and everyone with relish, yet at times he could be so calm. This dichotomy was emotionally tiring for I never knew which way he could turn, and turn quickly.

The line of dead grew as the villagers cleared out half-burned homes and laid out charred bodies. There must have been several dozen lying there now and I wondered how many lived in this settlement Those who survived and cleaned up the carnage moved as if in a trance - their faces ashen, blank. Several soldiers stood watch over their activities, pointing with their swords to indicate which home to clear next.

>From the midst of the deathly row a small figure moved - I caught the movement out of the corner of my eye and turned in horror to watch as a small child sat up, his age less than 3 years by his size, his face bloody. He cried when he looked around, and one of the villagers saw him and hurried over, but the guard stopped him and shook his head. Another soldier went to the child and thrust his sword through him and then returned to his post, as if he had taken care of some minor detail, thinking nothing of killing a small boy.

The villager threw himself on the soldier and, when repulsed,  ripped his shirt open, asking to be killed. The soldier complied and the villager fell to his knees as the Roman's sword pierced his chest. The soldier pulled his sword back and pushed the man over with his boot, motioning to the other horrified villagers to take his body to join the row of dead. The tears were flowing now, down my face, and I could not hold them back, no matter how I tried. I pulled at the reigns to get Ares' horse to take me away from that place of death, but the stallion would not comply, so I slid off and ran.

-----

I ran from the village and into the forest that grew on each side of  the small stream that snaked through the settlement. Horror and revulsion filled me and I was shamed by my girlish fascination with war and the battlefield.  This was not what I imagined when training with Ares, going with him to the battlefield to kill my unknown enemies. These people were not my enemy - I new that as an absolute truth, nor were they a threat to Rome or the advance of civilization. I stopped beside a huge tree to vomit, and when through, staggered to a clearing and fell on my knees and wept, my head bowed to the cool green carpet under me.

"Finally getting a taste of war?" a voice called out to me. I didn't recognize the voice, nor could I see its source, but the voice was harsh and cold. The leaves of a bush moved as if blown by a wind, and I thought I saw a movement behind it, but nothing. Then off to my left, another movement - and a set of horns - like the horns of a bull but more ornate, split into many smaller branches poked through the leaves. Antlers such as I had seen on the heads of antelope brought in from Egypt by travelers there. Then a noise behind me and I turned in fear and faced a tall figure dressed in soft brown suede clothes, wrapped in a deep green cloak and hood, a helmet made of tree bark and a set of antlers perched on his head. His face was shrouded from the light, but I could see bright eyes peering at me from the darkness of his cowl.

He knelt down and looked at me, his hands crossed over bended knees. "So you are the god's woman. I saw you earlier lying together on the grass while my villagers were being massacred and I thought - why is he here and not in the village taking part in this carnage?  Why would he bring you here? And why would he let you out of  his sight?"

"He is training me - I ran..." I mumbled, wondering who this man was, and how he knew who we were, Ares and I.

"I know who you are, and I know why you are here. I was merely talking to myself." He stood up and offered me his hand. I took it and when he helped me up, I felt a strange power from his grasp. He was no mortal.  He took off his helmet and cowl, laid them on the ground, and revealed himself to me.  He was the first barbarian, well, barbarian god, I had seen, and I gasped at the whiteness of his skin and the paleness of his eyes. His hair was long and flowing - almost to his waist - and was as black as night. When I saw it, I thought of the black Arabian horses I had seen in the market in Athens, their long tails streaming behind them as they pranced around the square. He was at once the most curious man I had ever seen, but at the same time, unearthly in his beauty.

"Who are you?" I asked, then added quickly, "I know you are a god - but which one?"

He smiled. "You are used to a god's touch." He placed his hands behind his back, and began walking around me in a large circle. "I am Teutates, god of war, god of the tribe, god of fertility. A triple godhead. I am kept very busy as a result." He stopped and looked at me, and I felt such a chill go through me, for his eyes, so light gray they were almost clear, were cold and piercing.

He looked up at the sky and then tilted his head, his ear towards the ground and stared off into nothing for a moment. "Ah!" he said, his index finger moving to stroke his full bottom lip, "he has noticed your absence, and is sending off his soldiers to search the area. He is with the mortal leader - they have been defiling one my finest young soldiers - a man of promise and virtue." He paused. "The mortal wants to kill him." He shook his head and then closed his eyes as a look of pain crossed his features. "And has."

His face was so cold when he turned to look at me that I felt his fury from where I stood. He came to me, grabbed hold of one side of my cloak and ripped it off me with a sweep of his hand. I felt certain he was going to kill me in revenge, but instead, out came a silver-tipped arrow from a quiver his back and he wove it through the fabric of my cloak. The cloak fell to the ground and the god held out his hand to me. When I hesitated, he took my hand anyway and I was swept up with him into darkness. When the darkness cleared, it was replaced by the dim light of a fire and candles. I found myself in a building made of branches and logs, with a stone floor, a large hearth and a sturdy wooden table. A throne sat at one end of the room and he was seated at it, his cloak and helmet removed, his hands on the armrests.

"Is this your temple?"

"A place in which I reside, yes."

"Do all gods have impressive thrones?" I asked, amazed at the intricate carving on the back and legs, animals in relief, bears, boars, birds and fish. It was beautiful. "There has to be some reward for our troubles" he replied, that cold smile on his lips.  I went over to his side and looked at the carving. "May I...look at your throne? I am an artist and ..."

"Yes, I know. You enjoy such detailed work, like that on your own sword." He rested his chin on his hand and gave me leave with a wave of his other hand. I sighed.

"Do all gods read our minds?"

Another smile. "If we couldn't, it would be so hard to manipulate you. We would end up killing the whole lot of you in our anger, and what would there be for us to do with no mortals to trouble?"

"So the gods these Britons worship are no more virtuous than our own in Greece?"

"Gods virtuous?" he laughed at me. "How can a god have virtue? This is a mortal trait. We are not bound by such codes. Gods have power." He watched me as I moved around his throne, looking at the detail in the carving. I must admit I wanted to get a closer look at him as well. His pale eyes glittered in the firelight, and his features were so sharp and chiseled - narrow nose with flaring nostrils and full lips. His face  reminded me also of an Arabian horse - so finely drawn and noble. And that black hair - gleaming almost blue in the light.

"So am I in danger then? Do you plan to harm me?"

"You are in danger with him. He has harmed you."

I nodded. The truth of what he said pierced my heart, although I knew it long ago.

"What will you do with me?" I asked. "If you think you can use me as a hostage, you are mistaken. I don't matter to him beyond a sexual conquest. I doubt if he would blink an eye if you were to kill me."

"Yes," he replied, "I believe you are correct. He is very...indiscriminate in his choice of sexual partners, almost preferring mortals to other gods and goddesses. This I can't understand. Don't worry - it is not this way with us, Sophia," he said as he watched me examine the carving on the mantle.

"You mean you don't have sexual relations with mortals? Only other gods?"

He smiled again, noting my own curiosity about him as a lover. "Oh, on occasion, with a favorite one or two. But you must realize that sex with an equal is so much more rewarding than with an inferior. Mortals are so less...capable. Mars, or Ares as you Greeks call him, seems to prefer mortals. I wonder what that says about his character?"

"Ares is blind power.  He is intelligent but not reflective."

"Reflection and intelligence go hand in hand. You are reflective,
however."

"That seems to be all I do, reflect."

"Yet, you stay with him!"

"That is a long story," I replied, walking to the door and looking at the carving on its beams. Fish in a stream, boars in the brush, eagles on the wing. Representation of nature filled this place.

"We have time."

I shook my head and sat facing him on the small chair by the hearth. "You already know the story. Just another mortal woman in love with the god of war."

"Yes, it gets quite tiring, mortals' attraction to the sexual prowess of the gods. But your story is unique for he is training you to fight. Tell me, will you join him as eagerly in the work of this day as you join him in his bed?" I looked away, remembering the soldier killing the small boy in the square, and then killing the villager who tried to rescue him.

"I thought not," he answered for me. "You want to slay dragons and find only mortals who have no more guilt than you. Who you really should slay is your god of war, for it is he who is responsible for your pain."

"I've thought of it often enough," I replied, "but my lust gets in the way." Why lie? He could read my mind anyway. I was just confirming what he already knew. I rose and went to stand beside him. He seemed surprised at my proximity, probably used to mortals keeping their distance.  As he said earlier,  I was used to a god's touch and felt no fear of being close to him. Besides, it gave me a chance to study that amazing face.

"Tell me, Teutates. You seem like an honest god. Where do gods come from? Where did you get your power?"

He raised his eyebrows. "My, you are brazen! Asking a god such a question." He smiled and looked down his nose at me. "Tell me, Sophia - why should I answer you?"

What could I say? There was no reason.

"Because it amuses you?"

He turned to watch the fire in the hearth and I could see its reflection in those eyes. He crossed his arms and placed one finger against his lips, stroking them as if in thought. "We stole our power from mortals. When you steal it back, we will fade away, becoming the stuff of myth." He turned back to me and watched as this sunk in. "There - some honesty for you. Not that it will be of any use to you, but perhaps you will feel less awe for your god of war."

"What are you going to do with me?" I asked again, hoping he would see how useless it would be to try to use me against Ares or harm me in revenge.

He tilted his head again and looked off in some distant vista. "His soldiers have found your cloak. He knows I have you." Then he turned to face me and smiled again. "You are correct. He will not come to get you." I felt a stab of pain to my heart at his words. He sensed my pain and quickly added. "Not because you don't matter, but because his pride matters more. He does not want this Caesar to see his concern." He shook his head. "We have met before, Mars and I, in Greece and Rome long ago. Despite his great prowess on the battlefield, his character is weak. This weakness will be his ultimate downfall as it is with all gods. He has the heart of an adolescent boy, the body and mind of a mortal man and the power of a god. A dangerous combination." I smiled at his description, typical of an opponent. Ares' body was more than that of a mortal man.

"What about you? Describe yourself!" I said, knowing that he would likely not answer such a question, or at least, not truthfully.

"Me?" he said, rising and coming to stand beside me at the hearth. He was taller than I by a foot and was strong, well-muscled. "I have the heart of a wolf, the body of a god, and the mind and power of a sorcerer." He laughed as I looked him up and down. The body of a god! Was he trying to tempt me?

"You are already tempted!"

I smiled at him. "Of course I am. Having been his lover for this time, how could I be happy with anyone other than a god?" He looked at me though hooded eyes and then began to circle the room, his hands folded behind his back once more.

"I don't know what I will do with you. Perhaps I will keep you for myself. That will get him, even if he does deny it. There must be something of value in you for this god to keep you around." He came back beside me and stroked my cheek.

"Perhaps I should give you a sample. Something with which you can compare us." He pulled me close and looked in my eyes. One arm went around my waist, pressing me against his body while his other hand stroked my face, my hair, his fingers running over my lips. When Ares held me like this, I felt his power burning into me, but in Teutates' arms I felt the opposite - weak, drowsy, faint - as if my bones had all been sucked out of my body. He literally had to hold me up and it was all I could do to keep my eyes open and fixed on his. He smiled at my reaction.

I thought, "This isn't lust - this feels like death" but then, when he finally kissed me, his lips touching mine, his tongue barely penetrating my own parted lips, I felt totally engulfed by him. It was as if his body and mine had fused and I felt the curious sensation of my own softness contrasted to his muscular body. Desire spread like fire through me starting from our groins, which he pressed together so I could feel his hardness. And then, the most amazing sensation - I felt his cock harden as if it were my own and gasped with such desire! This is what I had always dreamed of - to feel this response as a man does. And then our lips parted and he released me, leaving me to fall to my knees from weakness.

ôThat,ö he said as he went over to his throne and sat on it, resting his chin on his hand once again, ôis why we don't spend too much time with mortals. Why would we bother?" I could barely manage his kiss - I couldn't imagine the experience of fucking him.

"What did you do to me?" I gasped, panting as I sat on the floor, my hands out in front of me for support. I managed to lift my head to look at him and saw his flushed face and sparkling eyes. He smiled at me, pleased at the reaction he was able to elicit from me.

"I merely opened you up, then filled you with myself, so we could share our bodies and our desire. Does your god not do the same, or is he too selfish for this?" My silence was his answer. "I thought as much.  This requires a mutuality that is, perhaps, disturbing to him. A shame for you."

"You mean, he could do this? And doesn't?"

"Obviously not with you. Not having ever fucked him, I have no idea what he is like with his other lovers."

Of course, my experience of his kiss was so powerful that I was seized with the desire to have it all. If that was his kiss, I could barely imagine sharing an orgasm.  "Teutates..." I began, my face still red and now even redder from my next words, "please don't deny me this now that you have shown me what is possible." I looked up at him and he was watching me, one finger against his lips as if considering my request.

"No," he concluded, "I think not. I'll give you back to your god. Convince him to do this with you. I prefer to enjoy more ... experienced partners." I closed my eyes, but could not hide my disappointment. I doubted that Ares would comply. Ares probably found this too bothersome - perhaps it was enough for him to fuck in quantity rather than quality with mortals.  Not that sex with Ares was not quality - but this was entirely distinct. It was then I suspected that Ares was different with Iphicles - perhaps it was with the King that Ares explored this capacity gods possessed. I couldn't suppress a feeling of hatred for Iphicles if this was the case, but knew that the King was faultless, trapped as I was in our lust for Ares. It was Ares, and my own weakness I should hate. Still, I would certainly bring this matter up the next time he felt amorous.

"Well, that should provide me with some measure of revenge, however small. Mars' mortal lover pestering him to improve his performance!" Teutates' crystal laugh seemed to dance in my ears. Then his face became serious and he looked at me with something close to pity. "If he refuses you, call my name. I may comply. It would be unfair of me, to hold this out to you and then for you to go unfulfilled." Damn you! I thought to myself, comply now! He looked away and smiled, pleased with my frustration. Then I knew that all gods were the same after all - all enjoyed tormenting mortals.

He came to me once more and pulled me up and even the touch of his hand reignited that feeling of desire for him. "Sophia," he said, pulling me close to him again, "When you return to Greece, leave him, return to your lover. You are not a warrior - you are an artist. Mars will only hurt you." I could barely speak but protested regardless. "Why should you care what happens to me? You are a god - I am just a weak mortal."

He brushed my hair with his hand. "I am the god of the tribe. I know each and every one of my mortals by name and face and care about the fates of all. In this, I am not your usual god of war, only interested in blood and conquest as is your Mars."

I felt the darkness surround us and when I opened my eyes, I was still standing in his embrace, that dizzy sensation replaced my own sense of being, and then every inch of my body ached for his touch as he kissed me, his tongue probing mine, his hand on my breast, his thumb stroking my nipple through the fabric of my dress. Again I felt his body's response to my own and felt desire flood through me. I only wanted our clothes off right now, to feel his body as my own. Such immense pleasure filled my entire being!

He pulled away from me even as I resisted, my hands cradling his face, grasping his silky hair, trying to keep his mouth on mine. He looked up and behind me and smiled. "Here she is, Mars. Your mortal plaything, in the flesh, but I think, no longer in the spirit." He leaned back down to me and whispered in my ear, "Remember, call my name." Then dropped me to the soft earth and vanished.

I lay on the ground, unable to move, every ounce of energy seeming to have left my body. Silence ensued. I heard Caesar's voice asking what was wrong with me. "What has he done to her?ö Caesar continued when Ares did not answer. "Get up," Ares commanded.

I tried but could not move. "I am too weak," I replied, my voice barely above a whisper.

"Leave her. She'll get up on her own when she's ready," he spat out and stomped away.

I lay my head down on the dirt and closed my eyes, my mind still trapped by my memories of the other god.

--------

Some minutes passed before I felt able to stand on my own. Without my cloak, I shivered as I brushed the dirt off my dress. I went to a bench beside the well and sat down, in wait for Ares and whatever plans he had for us. The sun was fast setting and the light was orange over the tree tops. Ares and Caesar were in the dwelling, but I did not want to go there -  I just couldn't face them. Soon, they emerged together and came to me and I looked up finally when I felt Ares' gaze on me. He was standing, his legs spread, his hands on his hips.

"Well?" he said angrily, "What passed between you two?"

"Can't you read my mind and find out for yourself?"

"No!" he replied, his voice cold, "he has blocked me from your memories of your time with him. Tell me what you remember." I smiled, but as I looked at him, his great beauty and that wonderful body, I felt so sad that he wasn't as generous with himself as Teutates.

"I have met your counterpart, Ares. He told me a great deal and showed me a few godly capacities I never knew you possessed. You are so miserly with yourself, despite all the sucking and fucking that goes on. You could fuck me a dozen times and still not match what Teutates showed me in one encounter. What a pity." I looked away, for I meant what I said, and it hurt.

My next memory was of my small dark room at the back of the Halls of War. I lay on my bed and knew that Ares was damn mad with me and with Teutates and I wondered how long it would take for Ares to rise to the bait. If he took it, Ares would provide Teutates with a small degree of revenge and me a very large degree of pleasure. If not, Teutates would in his place.

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