Disclaimers: Xena is the property of MCA/Universal/Renaissance and I'm just using her for this non-profit bit of fanfiction entertainment. I don't think they own Ares, but if they do..umm..put him under their name also I guess. There is violence and it does get rather explicit, so be warned. This is the sequel to "Ares' Curse". Enjoy. The poem at the end is mine btw. I wrote it in 11/97, two months before I even came up with this story idea.
I have never found you so repulsive, O Peace.
Timocritus fought well. This is his grave.
For Ares spares the coward, and not the brave.
Anacreon of Teos
Gabrielle raised her head and peered at her companion. Perhaps now is the time? she thought silently.
Xenaís fingers firmly held the hilt of her blade as her other hand gripped the whetstone that caressed the swordís edge again and again.
"Xena?" the bard ventured.
"I donít suppose youíd be willing to tell me about...Ares and you, would you?" Gabrielle asked hopefully, surprised she even got the name out with so much as a grimace. The God of War was not one of her favorite people.
Silence, except for the crackling fire and the long strokes of whetstone versus iron.
After a long moment Gabrielle sighed and turned back to the blank page of papyrus set before her. Ok then..I guess something else is going on this page. Sheís not ready for that story, but then Iím not surprised. She doesnít talk much about those early days. I wish...
"What do you want to know about him?" Came the low voice from across the fire.
The bardís head snapped up and her green eyes bored into the bowed head of her friend. "The beginning?"
The raven-haired head bobbed in assent. "The beginning. I guess that would be Lyceus."
"Whatís Lyceus have to do with Ares?" Gabrielle quickly dipped her quill into the dark ink and made ready to make notes.
"Well it all started in..."
* * * * *
Amphipolis. My home. How I love it. The river which surrounds it on three sides, where my brothers and I would swim in the summertime, and fish year round. The hills where weíd run and play. The steep ravine, which mother always had to tell us to stay away from, but where weíd always go anyway. The fields of gently blowing grass that was so high that you could play hide and seek within them, and never be found. Amphipolis is where I was born, and hope to be buried when my time comes. For the longest time I didnít think I would end up there, but instead become food for the ravens and other scavengers on some lone battlefield. I might just end up that way yet.
My brothers, Toris and Lyceus. Toris, my older brother, and I look alot alike, but we really donít have much in common. Perhaps itís because I never really had much use for an older brother. I didnít need him to watch over me and protect me from bullies. I could do that well enough on my own, thank you very much. And there were a few times I had to prove it to him. He may have been bigger for a while, but even as a child I was a terror, and didnít know when to give up.
It was after Lyceus started to walk, that I finally found a playmate to equal me. I wasnít much older than him, but he would keep up with me in play. It stayed that way as we grew up. Two peas in a pod mother called us. True, though we really didnít look that much alike. He was far more fair than me, and his eyes a bit darker. People always knew we were brother and sister though. Someone, I donít remember who, once said we moved alike. Same movements, same walk, same turn of the head when called. Perhaps. All I know was that we were more alike in spirit than in body. We might not have been born at the same time, but we were as close as if we were twins.
Together we were the terrors of the village. Even children a couple of years older then us, knew better than to bully us. We had friends sure, even real close ones. But as we grew older, our truest friends were each other. Mother thought we were too close, of course, but we didnít care. And when father...left, mother no longer tried to keep us apart. Of course, now I understand why.
One drawback to having a father who was a warrior, was that his children wanted to be just like him. Him being gone from the family made that even stronger, for children have great imaginations. My brother and I were no exception, and we fantasized alot about our father and where he might be, and what great deeds and adventures he was having. It shaped us, of that there is no doubt.
Sticks became heirloom swords, encrusted with jewels and imbued with magic from the gods. Our play clothes became armor that could deflect any blow and protect us from the harsh fires of dragons. Cows became evil demons, and roosters their minions that were released from Tartarus to wreck havoc upon the world. Ever see a chicken chased so much that it molted its feathers from the stress? I have...plenty of times. Our cow quit giving milk for almost a full month, until mother made us leave the poor beast alone. We got to eat the chickens though. Like I said...we were terrors.
There came a day when sticks would no longer do for us, we needed a teacher. But who? Amphipolis is a large village close to the sea, a center for miles around for the copper and silver mines from the nearby mountains, but we didnít have any great warriors to speak of. But we learned where ever we could. Several of the older men had served in Spartan armies when they were younger. In exchange for chores or extra field work, Lyceus and I plied our young bodies for the knowledge these old men had.
Soon some of our friends joined us. This, of course, caused a lot of problems with our parents, but we refused to stop.
We learned alot in those years. Lyceus and I pushed our bodies and our minds until we were the best in our group. That's not saying much considering our teachers, but we felt sure of ourselves. We were young. Headstrong. Full of life and dreams of adventure. We were fools.
When we first heard news of Cortese, we dreamed and talked about what it would be like to join his warband. Surely he would take us? We'd travel the wide reaches of Greece and discover treasure and defeat great armies.
Then his men came closer, and the stories we heard were not ones of camaraderie and adventure, but of villages pillaged, plundered, and looted. Tales of death and destruction from the lips of the few remaining survivors who where now refugees with no place to call home. But still our dreams didn't die, for now we had a new one. To defend Amphipolis.
While the elders of the village argued about whether or not to submit and just give Cortese what he wanted, we practiced from dawn to dusk in the woods against each other. Our weapons and armor were old and rusty from years of neglect, but each of us had paid in sweat and time for these handmedowns from the old men. They were treasures to us, and we oiled and cared for them as if they were given to us by kings.
Finally the day the village had been dreading came. Cortese was close by, and we knew that if we left it up to the elders, Amphipolis would be stripped bare, and it's people would be lucky to survive the sword. So Lyceus and I planned to ambush Cortese's men before they reached the outlying farms. I say Lyceus and I, because we were the leaders, having showed we were the best fighters of the lot and the smartest. Lyceus' cunning was like my own, and so we went out early and hid along the road the raiders would be taking.
It wasn't that long of a wait really, but it felt like forever. I stood there behind a huge cypress and trembled with anticipation. This is what my brother and I had grown up dreaming of. I didn't think of death or blood, but of heroism, you might say. To fight off Cortese's men and come back to the village in triumph. To have our mother wrap us up in her arms and thank us for saving her and the village. That is what we craved and dreamed about. Like I said...we were fools.
The raiders were noisy, and when I first heard the sharp sound of a swordhilt banging against an armored raider's chest, I tensed. This was it, this would show everyone that Xena of Amphipolis was truly a warrior, not some backwoods peasant that could only toil in the fields or clean up a bar table.
Amazingly enough I wasn't even the least bit scared. All I felt was the cold sweet rush of anticipation through my veins, and then within an eyeblink the first raiders were there, and I blanked. I don't remember those first few moments. Some of the men that were there say that I just stepped out from behind the tree and grabbed ahold of the first raider and pulled him straight from his saddle to the ground, and preceded to pummel him into unconsciousness. They took my action as the signal to commence the attack on the raiders.
Moments later my senses finally came to me and I found myself face to face with an extremely ugly and extremely large man with a horizontal scar across his face and wielding a very large sword. I won't go into the gory details, but suffice it to say, I got the shit beat out of me until I finally woke up. Pain can be an eye-opener. I was just lucky he was kicking me instead of using that big pigsticker of his. When I finally did draw my sword and encounter his, I was surprised. It wasn't easy beating him, like it was my brother and our friends.
Welcome to reality.
I barely parried several of his blows, then I decided to go on the offensive. Wars I would learn aren't won by sitting back and letting the bad guys hit you, but only when you punch back do you win.
So, I punched back. And kicked. And spit on him. And used my sword like it had never been used before. Parry. Slice. Block. Slice. Eventually he slipped up and overextended the follow through on a slash aimed for my legs. I dodged and my blade got him. It was a weird feeling, something that I'll never forget.
The tip of my sword just went right into him with no resistance, my strength countering his armor as if it was cloth. Further my sword went into him, sliding through tissue, blood and bone and carrying each sensation down into my hands and arms. I could feel the iron as it pierced his lungs, that's how in tune with his death I was. I could feel it plunge through the other side and crunch through his backbone and pierce back out through his skin and armor. The warm sticky blood gushed over the hilt of my sword, that was now resting against his chest. Warm. That's all I could think of in that moment.
I remember looking up right into his eyes. It was one of those moments when time stops. Here was a man that was dying and in the next breath would be dead, but time lengthened that breath until we just stood there together. The killer and the dying. Eye to eye. He had deep brown eyes I remember. I felt nothing in that long moment. I wasn't even in shock. I didn't feel the ground under my feet, or the air cool against my skin. All I felt was the warmth of his blood caressing my hands. Never again would I experience a death quite that fully. Never again would I really want to.
Then time commenced, and all Hades broke loose. I don't mean around me, the fighting hadn't stopped during that moment. I mean inside me. Something died and something else was born. I ripped that sword from his falling body and gazed at it. Here was this sword that I knew better than my own face. I knew every dip, scratch, nick in its lovingly oiled surface. Now it was forever changed in my eyes. Blood oiled it now, from tip to the pummel, the blood coating my hands so that it looked as if they were apart of the blade itself now. One long piece of metal forever joined with this body. How very true that thought is, if you think about it.
I had killed a human being. I had purposefully taken a life. I had shed blood. The blood that some woman's heart had beat into her womb to feed a child years ago. Just like my mother did for me. In that moment I realized I was that man. I had killed myself. I had taken my own life and there was no return.
I told you once Gabrielle, that you never forget your first kill. You haven't have you? I know. I wake you each night when you cry in terror and loss from the nightmares. I know I sure haven't forgotten that scarfaced man of my own nightmares. I don't think about it often, I'm not bothered by it as much anymore, but sometimes late at night when you're asleep I think about things. I used to think alot about what my life would be like if this day had happened differently. And whenever I think about this day I think of that scarfaced man. Of course, I think about Lyceus too, but I always spend a few moments thinking of that man and that moment when everything changed.
And so I stood there again in frozen time, until my senses screamed as a mace came hurtling towards my head from behind. I awoke from the blood covered slumber in my mind. I awoke to the extreme.
Things went much easier for me after that. My training became second nature after that first man's death. I didn't have to think about parrying a blow or taking advantage of an opening and slicing open a man's belly. I just did it.
And so did my friends and my brother. It was as if, after we had all taken our first life, and had spilt blood upon the beloved soil of Amphipolis, that we were awakened for the first time in our lives. We were warriors and we knew now that being a warrior wasn't about adventure or finding treasure or anything we had ever dreamed about. It was about shedding blood. Plain and simple. That is the very basic definition of a warrior. Cause and effect. I take my sword and remove your head, or any other body part that gets in the way. You die. Simple hmm?
These raiders, these scum, had no idea what they were up against at that moment. We should have died really. Our training was average. Our weapons and armor were poor. But we had something they didn't. A village to protect. A last dream to keep alive. The other dreams were shattered, but that one...Amphipolis was still there, and we were going to make sure it did.
It was at that moment I felt something I hadn't before. I've come to know it very well since then, but at that time I was confused and uncertain of it. It was almost sexual. It warmed the insides of me, and yet left me cold as a mountain stream. I remember my eyes almost closing in the sweetness of it, and my mouth opened and a low moan came out. I fought against it and thankfully cleared my head. It was still there, but I didn't let it control me. I brought my attention back to the fight before me and thought no more of it then.
I took more lives. And as I did, I found it was easier and easier to do. I caught my brother's eye in between opponents and smiled. His fair face was bloody, like I knew mine was. But his smile, though slightly sad, made it beautiful to me. He stepped closer to me and took up the position at my back just as five more men came upon us.
Together we fought, and it was more magical than anytime I have fought since then. We flowed together. Like I said earlier, some people thought we moved exactly alike. At that moment, it was truth. In fact in was beyond it. We moved so in tandem with each other, that I remember flipping my blade under my arm and stabbing back, without looking, and having the sword pass by Lyceus unharmed and ramming into the gut of his opponent. It was magic I tell you. The two terrors of the village were now the terrors of that small bend in the road. Nothing could stop us.
Like I've said before. We were fools.
I didn't see the blow coming, but my senses felt it. If I had been a moment quicker in killing my opponent I might have stopped that fatal blow. Instead I heard the sickening wet sound come from a sword entering my brothers body fatally. I killed my man and turned and killed the one behind me with a single strike. Then my eyes fell on Lyceus' lifeless body.
His eyes stared up at a sky, no longer beautiful to me. The spirit was gone from his laughing eyes. His face was still flushed with the exertion of battle, but already it was turning pale under that blood speckled skin.
My hand went to that great rent in his body and fresh warm blood washed over my hand. I was stunned. It felt the same as the scarfaced man's. Red, warm, slick yet sticky and thick. My brother's blood. The same blood that flowed through my veins.
Then that feeling that had come upon me earlier surged up again. It rested on my tongue, tasting coppery and thick. I wanted...no...needed something. I looked down at my hand again. Blood. I needed to spill it. I wanted to spill it. I was going to spill it if I had to chase down Cortese himself and take it from his worthless body drop by drop.
Bloodlust isn't just the need to kill. It's rage. Anger. Hate. Lust. Joy. It's sexual. It's dark. It's so many things wrapped up in one emotion. It was there for me at that moment to draw upon, and I took its reins and urged that terrible monster on.
I stood and gripped my sword in my hand again. My vision narrowed. Enemies and allies. The dead and the living. The soon to be dead at my hand and those who might die at anothers hand.
I was born again in that moment. Two births in one lazy summer afternoon. One of reality over dreams. The other of death over life. I may not remember the pain of my birth into this world, but the pain of my second birth is quite clear to me. That third birth was not painful at all. It was..glorious. I felt free.
Whereas my brother and I had fought together and moved perfectly, the eruption that was me after his death was much different. I was a force of nature. Don't smile like that. It's true. I could not be stopped. I was feed by a bloodlust so powerful that it is a wonder I ever came down from its heights.
My sword and I ripped through the remaining men. Defensive strokes, parries and blocks weren't necessary. Any blow of mine went straight through weapons and armor as if they didn't even exist. I was possessed. I wrenched arms from their sockets. I broke kneecaps. I drove my sword into body after body. I thirsted and blood was the only drink I craved.
When Cortese and the remnants of his men fled before us, I wanted to go after them, but I wouldn't leave my brother's body behind. My thirst hadn't been quenched, but the vision of Lyceus' body flashed before my eyes again and again.
I remember going back and kneeling by his body, his skin now cool and white beneath my fingertips. I was having a hard time thinking clearly, the anger and hate for Cortese and his men so strong that it almost blinded me with its intensity.
It was at that moment I found out how strong of a will I had. In the time it takes to blink. I shut off everything within me, the only way I could see to stop the pain and the thirst that still cried inside of me.
I could still feel it all with me though, pulsing dark and richly sweet behind the door I had thrust it behind. It would be ready for me when I needed it I knew, but for now it was controlled.
Unfortunately they were not the only emotions I had shut off and locked away. My heart. My pain. My love for Lyceus and my grief for him, all of these were muted under the darkness of the others. I saw it and didn't care. I was ice now.
What had love done but cost me my brother? The other half of me was gone forever and love and grief couldn't bring him back.
Gazing down at his body I slowly became aware of my surrounding again. Moans of the wounded. Fellow warriors congratulating each other and helping those of their own that needed it.
And I felt something else.
I was being watched.
I lifted my head unerringly to where I swear eyes were gazing at me, but nothing was there. Was I going insane? That new made darkness in me tried to surge past my protections as if called. Ruthlessly I pushed it down, refusing to give in, refusing to feel anything but nothingness.
Still seeing nothing that might be spying on me I turned back to my brother, wrapped my arms under him and lifted him up to me as if he was a babe.
That walk back to the village was the longest I have ever taken. I have traveled many miles back and forth across Greece and other countries since then, but that short distance down the road back to Amphipolis was the longest.
Mother didn't wrap her arms around me and thank me for saving the village and her. There were no cheers of joy and chilled tankards of ale raised in toast. No smiles from bright shining faces to greet me and my men.
Instead I saw the disapproving scowls of the village elders and heard the screams of my mother as she looked down at her baby son's corpse.
I heard words from a poet once that stayed with me and remind me of that moment. It went something like, "The brave die, but fools are left alive on the battlefield." I was that fool, but I was a fool that felt nothing inside except emptiness and bitter cold.
While my mother took Lyceus in her care to bathe and prepare him, I went to the carpenters shop and bought all I needed. I didn't clean up or change my clothes. Blood covered me from head to toe, some of it my own. I didn't see it or care at the looks as I passed by people. All I saw was my brother's blue eyes before me and the wood shaping beneath my hands as I created his coffin. I hammered, sawed, and carved into that hard wood until it was night. And when I finally finished I dragged his coffin home with my own two arms and helped mother place him in his new bed, I still didn't stop to clean up.
Instead I hooked up the wagon and watched as some of our family's friends came and helped put the coffin in the back and together, my mother, her friends, Toris, and me went up to the cemetery caves. I don't remember putting the coffin in an empty family niche. I don't remember the stares or the condolences that people gave my mother and me. I don't remember any of them leaving, or Toris leaving for that matter. I barely remember holding my mother in my arms and don't remember her leaving me alone in that tomb with Lyceus.
My attention wasn't on anything but Lyceus and his cold coffin under my hands...and the feeling that I was being watched again. This time it was so strong that I felt as if I could reach out a hand and touch whomever it was that was looking at me. I ignored it for awhile until I could stand it no longer.
"Someone is here. I feel you...I've felt you since the fight."
Imagine my surprise when someone did appear. In a shower of light a man just...became...right in front of me. He was dark, with black curly short hair and wore a single earring in his left ear in the shape of a sword. His eyes seemed to soak up the light from the single torch that was lit. He had a very neat beard and he looked as if he took great pride in his grooming. Dressed all in black leather with metal ordornments and carrying a sword at his hip, he reeked of sensuality...and something else.
That something else called out to me, and I found it echoed deep within me, behind the locked doors where I had imprisoned all the feelings, dark and light, within me. Swiftly I drew my sword and pointed it at him.
He smiled slightly at me, and crossed his muscled arms across his chest. "Xeeennnaa."
I couldn't help it. I shivered from his voice. It was...deep and dark, and those echoes inside of me hummed in response.
"Who are you?" I barely got the words out, so greatly was I affected by him.
"Who do you want me to be?"
I thought about that question, but had no possible idea, thought, or answer to that question. So I repeated myself and asked him again who he was.
"I am Ares, the God of War. Lord of Battles. Son of Zeus and Hera. I am the blooded sword. I am the call of victory. I am the thrill of glory in your veins. I am the thirst for blood on your lips. I am the tingle in your arm as you block an enemies swordthrust. I am the gasp of pleasure that you feel as you rip out a man's throat with your sword. I am Ares." As his words crashed over me like a wave, the door that held back everything within me was broken down from the inside and that dark sweetness came rushing through me to answer each word of his call.
A thousand different thoughts swam in my mind as I looked at him in surprise. After a long moment I got myself under control, though that dark tide within me refused to be controlled again, instead it waited patiently in the depths of my heart for me to call it.
Controlling myself I closed my eyes partially and tilted my head down slightly, looking up at him through my eyelashes and gave him a little smile.
"Ares hmm?" I had asked.
"God of war..yadaa yadaa..yeah that would be me." I almost laughed when he said it, imagine the God of War being humorous. He looked pointedly at the sword I still held in front of me and raised a dark eyebrow. "You don't need that sword against me."
I doubted that, but I also knew that if he was Ares, that my puny weapon would do nothing against him. And it was looking highly likely that he was the God of War. People just don't pop up everyday out of a shower of light and look like they could take on the whole Spartan army by themselves. So I sheathed my sword.
I don't know if it was a conscious thought really, all I know was that suddenly I had a question for him. I don't know if I thought he was responsible or not, but I had to find out.
He raised his eyebrows again, this time in confusion. "Why what?"
"Why take my brother?" I almost didn't get the words out of me.
He was silent a moment, as if considering my words or possibly his reply, then he spoke. "I had nothing to do with it. Cortese is not..." he paused for a brief moment. "Chosen by me. He's a coward and not worthy of my attention. As to why your brother died, you would have to ask the Fates that."
Ahh...the Fates. Years later I would ask them that question. The answer I got changed my life...or rather didn't. I don't regret it...much. What? Oh ok, perhaps I'll tell you that story sometime. But not right now.
Anyway as I was pondering his words, he took a step closer to me. I felt no intent to harm from him so I let him come. This time he asked me a question. "What do you want?"
Confusion. What did he mean? What were we talking about now? "What?"
"What is it, that you most desire? Don't ask for your brother, Xena, that I cannot give." He sounded firm on that point.
I must admit that when he asked, that that was the first thing that came to my mind to ask for. Lyceus. Oh...gods how I missed him already. His body encased by wood only a few feet from me, and yet he was further away from me as to be on the top of Mt. Olympus. As Ares finished his sentence though, I knew the futility of asking him. This wasn't a god asking me what I wished for on a whim. I could feel that. It was instead a man asking me my heart's desire. What was it that I wished. Without a moments thought, there was only one answer I could give. The last dream I held within me.
"Amphipolis safe. If I can't have my brother, I want my homeland safe from the foul cesspool of men like Cortese." It was simple. Nothing else would do.
"I can give you that, Xena." His words caressed me with hope.
"I watched you. You have much to learn, but everything I desire in a warrior is there...raw within you. I can see it..I saw it. Join me." He reached out a strong lean hand and touched my cheek. Was he trembling? I couldn't tell for the trembling in my own body. "I can give you the world. You and me. Together, Xena. There will be no others. There doesn't need to be another."
That dark part of me hummed and swirled around in me in contentment at his words and his touch. I leaned unconsciously against his hand and could feel my eyes drifting shut in the presence of him. "Amphipolis?"
"With my guidance, I will teach you and together we will protect this village and the surrounding area. No one will dare to come against you here, Xena."
Gods, how true those words were until I left that life. Amphipolis safe. That was my only thought. Mother would not lose anything else. The villagers would stay safe and happy and live in prosperity. This was my homeland. But what about this god before me? Why was he choosing me? Did I really care? I had already paid the price to save Amphipolis once, with the death of the scarfaced man and Lyceus. Did I care what else would have to be paid to this god in order for me to complete the last dream I held within. The dream that my brother shared and died for.
"I accept." The words spilled from my lips, and there was no turning back. I felt the dark tide within me rejoice and send a thrill of pleasure through me.
Ares smiled at me gently. "Good. Are you ready to start? Are you done here?" He motioned slightly at Lyceus' coffin.
"Yes." There was nothing for me here. His body was here and perhaps he was listening, but I had work to do.
"Good. Then it is time to begin. Gather your men, Xena. You must get them to follow you past the confines of their village. You must get them to follow your dream."
Such simple words, and yet...I knew he was right. Those young men, who at the beginning of this day had been as innocent as myself, were now warriors like myself. I needed them, and they needed me. The villagers didn't understand us. They didn't understand why we stood up to Cortese. I had to let them know they were not alone, and that our work wasn't done yet. Amphipolis needed us, whether or not it said so.
And so I gathered them together. I don't know what I said to them really, but soon they left to gather their belongings, more alive then when they had returned to the village. I too went home, to say good-bye and gather my things.
Mother yelled and Toris threatened to beat me. But with a single look I sent him scurrying back to his room. Mother I tried to explain my reasons to, but she only cried and yelled. Soon they turned to curses. She didn't want to lose another child to Cortese, though she partially blamed me for her son's death too. Eventually I got tired of listening and trying to explain and left to meet up with the others.
I was fully his after that, no turning back. The rich darkness within me, fed me and fed upon me. I didn't fight against it.
It's been many years since that day, and I regret almost every single moment of it. I trusted Caesar, and he would be the first to betray me, breaking my trust in humanity as well as my legs, and killing M'Lila, the only one I had loved since my brother. I terrorized the Steppes and bloodied the Wall that surrounded Chin in my thirst for death and the taste of blood. I met Lao Ma and almost learned the lessons of peace. I loved Borias and gave birth to our son. I almost destroyed the centaurs, and when Borias betrayed me to them and died by treachery, I gave up my son to my enemies for him. I conquered half of Greece and sacked Corinth. I was Ares Chosen.
Even now we talk occasionally. He cannot stay away, and try as I might I can't let him be fully gone from me. Ever since I drove that sword through that man's chest and killed him, we have been connected. Dark sweet essence of the coppery taste of blood and terror. It marks him..and still marks me. No matter what, until the day I die....I am Ares Chose.
* * * * *
Gabrielle looked over at Xena's sleeping face and brushed her quill absently against her own chin absently. After a moment of idle thought, she took out her journal scrolls and started on that day's entry.
I finally got Xena to talk about Ares today. She's talked to me about Lyceus before, but never about how his death brought her to meet Ares. I don't claim to understand all her feelings about it, but after Britannia I think I can safely say I understand it better than I used to. I think I wrote down her story pretty well, though I was more creative about some of the details than she was. I did have to ask her question after question to get her to tell me details that she glossed over. If I hadn't, my parchment would have been pretty bare. It would have been too short and boring of a story with just, "Well it all started in Amphipolis. Lyceus got killed. Ares showed up. I was still mad because my brother was dead, so I said yes when he asked me to join him. Time to go to bed, Gabrielle." *Chuckle* I'll include a little poem I thought up also. It's how I see Xena at that time, through her own memories and stories that I've heard about her from others. I don't think I'll ever share it or this story with anyone. It's too dark and I want people to see her as she is now, not as she was. She thinks Ares is still in her, that they are still connected, that she is still Ares' Chosen. Well, I don't know if that is true or not, she would know better than I, but I see something that I don't see in Ares'...Love. She loves and accepts love. I don't think he ever could. Whatever part of her that he still claims, can't hold up against that, no matter what either of them believe.
I sow the battlefield
a black raven devouring
with a heart of cold stone
I am Ares' Chosen
death's scream torn howling
from lips of bloody flesh
at my hands a warrior dead
I am Ares' Chosen
fear me hate me
your life is still mine
souls fearfully rest in my grip
I am Ares' Chosen
weakness is discarded
obedience is your life
betrayal brings a long death
I am Ares' Chosen
give me tribute
obey my words like law
live a long and healthily life
I am Ares' Chosen
stand at my side
rejoice in the riches
embrace the glory of war
I am Ares' Chosen
with hot blood running
through this black heart
I take and destroy all in my path
I am Ares' Chosen
Harvester of Life
Reaper of Souls
Destroyer of Nations
I am Ares' Chosen
Notes from the author~
Some people might wonder why I call this the sequel to "Ares' Curse". True there are no Cupid's Arrows for Xena to catch. Instead both stories are about the same moment in time.
"Ares' Curse" is basically about how Ares happens upon the only person to ever move him. He discovers emotions within himself that he didn't know existed. It brings to him his mortal half. His Chosen.
"Ares' Chosen" on the other hand is viewed through Xena's eyes. It's about the loss of dreams. The loss of love and the discovery of a much darker emotion that she didn't know existed within her. An emotion that comes from Ares and which she finds she enjoys the taste of. It brings her to him and makes her that rarest of warriors...Ares' Chosen.
I find it easier at times to tap into the darker part of humanity. Alot of my poetry is like this, and in my eyes at least, these two stories are very dark. Alike but not. "Ares' Curse" is the discovery of light in a dark heart and the blindness to it. "Ares' Chosen" is the birth of darkness in a light and innocent heart.
I hope you enjoyed both stories. Though I write them for the large population that makes up the Xenaverse, I primarily write for myself. I may not be good, but I enjoy expressing my visions, be they light or dark, and when I see a finished story I feel more...complete somehow. Well...enough of my babble.
Nought to the far-off Hades but an empty echo cries.
There, mid the dead, is silence. My voice in the darkness dies.