Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to be although I wish Ares did. TBTB owns the characters but the words are mine. Don't Touch......ask first. I'll say yes
Review: Xena and blondie try to save villagers from a massive army but Ares just wanted a little attention so he could make Xena an offer.
Xena pulled Argo in as they approached the crest of the hill and then abruptly stopped when she had a clear view of the entire valley. It was worse than the rumous they'd heard from refuges. The forces were now significantly larger and army tents and campfires were spread out through the entire valley. Xena appraised the camp quickly for weaknesses and carved points of interest into her memory. A small armory near the front, their food supplies to far right and a large pavillion of tents near the center where the leader stayed and mapped out his conquest.
She'd seen all she could from that distance and sprinted Argo back to her own hidden camp with Gabrielle. They'd first seen long lines of haggard villagers streaming south almost a week ago. They carried no more than a small sack or two each. Xena had had too much experience dealing with people driven from their homes by a violent warlord and recognized the signs of a hasty evacuation when she saw them. Gabrielle asked what had happened from one poor woman who had two young children with her. Xena offered her part of their supplies and the grateful woman told of the warriors who had came into their village early in the morning and ripped their homes apart. Three men stormed each home, taking all the food, trinkets and other possesions the family owned. The woman had hearded her children out the door with a few scraps of clothing they'd grabbed. She told how the warriors then began to strip the houses down and take the the wood back to their camps. She and the rest of the towns people had run screaming from the village and hid in the brush. Most of the young men had attempted to fight and soon lay in bloody heaps. In little under an hour, the once small, prosporus village had been completely erased.
That was all the woman could tell. She took the loaf of bread Xena gave them and continued on to the next village where her sister lived. Gabrielle turned with an irritating expectant look to Xena. Of course they'd have to go stop this army. Xena thought about all the woman and said. It was expected that a warlord would take everything from homes but what most did, what she did was just burn the village to ash. But this army was taking the wood plank by plank back to camp. Xena could only think of one reason to go to all that trouble. An army needed fire for warmth and food, but normally they just cut down a few trees each night and that was enough. The only probable solution Xena could think of was that the army was so huge, they had been desolating forests for their campfires and turned instead to the shaby buildings of small villages to keep them warm. It was actually quite clever, conceded Xena's practical mind; especially if you needed to use trees for shelter or lookouts.
Now Xena had seen the army and it was quite obvious that she alone could do absolutly nothing about it. She'd need an army herself and that simple couldn't happen. Even she could not band together enough villagers to fight an army such as this. Leading masses of ill trained farmers merchents would be pure suicide for them. So, she'd just have to find another way to stop this army.
Xena silently dropped from the tree on the to warrior. He collapsed under her, completely unconcious. Well, thats what you get for waundering alone in the forest to take a leak, she thought. Xena stripped off his tunic and helmet and put them on herself. She needed to know who was leading this army and where they were going. Xena walked into the camp and straight to the pavilion she'd seen. As she walked, Xena took in everything she saw. The army was slack and certainly not an elite fighting force. As she could see, each soldier was well equiped and had a good amount of training but, judging from the few men training around the camp, they were not experts. Xena kept walking and glancing at the small training fights. She thought she was looking where she was going when she walked straight into something that felt like a stone wall.
Actually, she had been looking ahead of her and would not have hit anything if it hadn't just materialized out of nowhere. And as soon as she hit it, something like arms wen't around her and she didn't fall. In that instant she knew and he was no longer invisible, to her anyway.
"Ares" she growled quietly and deep in her throat; a warning for him that she was pissed. Ares made a shusshing sound and loosened his grip on her waist now that she wouldn't fall.
"It's not the best idea to run around an army camp yelling my name when your trying to be inconspicous. Nice outfit by the way." Xena pushed his arms off of her and walked past him, hoping that the actions hadn't alerted anyone to her. Ares just turned around and walked beside her.
Xena glared at Ares as they walked.
"Nice army" she muttered with sarcasm that was quite thick. Ares replied "Really wish I could be on the receiving end of that remark Xena but it's not mine. This is my first time here, and you?" Xena rolled her eyes and cursed the Gods for saddling Ares on her now of all times. But this was deffinitly not the place to be having a heated conversation that was about to become and arguement, with an invisible God of War. So Xena grabbed his arm and dragged him between two tents so at least she could yell at him without looking like an idiot.
Xena inhaled and got ready to get madder. "Do you expect me to believe that the biggest army to ever exist in Greece is strolling about raiding every village in sight and you had nothing to do about it. Please Ares, I thought you thought highley of my intelligence?" Ares smirked "Wouldn't dream of it. But no. This is not my army, I haven't been helping the warlord and to be perfectly honest with you Xena, I don't happen to like the guy that much. He just doesn't show the proper amount of respect. You'd think with an army this size I'd have gotten at least one or two offerings. No this deffinitly Isn'T my army." Ares pauses from his little tirade and adds simply, "My army is 2 days west of here."
Xena rolled her eyes, made that smug little smile and you could see the thoughts going through her mind.
"Ares as always, grain of salt, predictable as Aphrodite's hair" But this could be far less worse then she originally guessed. A second army meant no more raiding of villages, unless they needed supplies near by. They would be too busy fighting each other. Of course that was a major problem too. Two major armies clashing with streams of refugees in the area might cause and even greater loss of life. But refugees, if warned would travel far to avoid the battle, and the area was fairly deserted. Ares had really set this up well. Two great armies clashing in one fabulously heated war. It was, as she knew too well, what he lived for. It was his job, his responsibility, him.
Realizing there was no real danger to anyone she wanted to protect, Xena smiled at the God of War. If a bunch of armed men wanted to try slicing each other up, who was she to intrude. There was really no way to talk sence into army unless you were their leader. Xena almost totally relaxed. She and Gabrielle could leave immediatly. She just had to deal with Ares.
"So congratulations are in order then. Looks like your in for a very amusing fight." Xena had switched to a more pleasent form of sarcasm this time. Ares gave a delightful smile in return and said "Gee thanks Xena, thats really nice of you. But you know, I do have something I'd like to discuss with you." And Ares grabbed Xena's arm before she could react and they both dissapeared in a spark of light.
They both materialized on another grassy slope. Xena immediatly attacked Ares. A drop kick and particulary nasty punch would make him hit that tree behind him with a very nice thud and teach him NOT to grab and transport her through the ether without her permission. Unfortunatly Ares anticipated a furius little attack as soon as they appeared. Xena, unlike most mortals, wasn't fazed in the least by the God's chosen method of travel. Ares had her arms effectivly pinned to her sides and was firmly standing on her feet to keep her from seeking to draw his precious immortal blood. Xena had to be satisfied with a heartfelt shove to get him off of her and a growl at the God of War.
"Whatever it is Ares, I don't want it. Don't EVER do that to me again and stay out of my life" With that, a seething Xena stormed away. Simple proximity to Ares tended to make her blood boil. But Ares apparently wasn't letting Xena walk away that easily. He stretched his arm out and firmly grabbed her upper arm, drawing her back.
"Now Xena, you really should hear me out here. I'm sure you'll find my proposition interesting, possibly even tempting; although I'd hate to presume." Xena's eyes automaticaly sent him her best glare as she said,
"You want me to lead your army against the other army and I'm telling you no." And Xena once again tried to leave. Ares pulled her back again.
"You probably shouldn't be so hasty here Xena. Nothing says that leading an army for a day or two makes you Miss Evilness again." Of course Ares was mocking her. The twitch of his fingers and face as he said "evil" expressed all his dissrespect for the strongest belief she held.
Xena felt her rage rise another degree. She turned towards him, her body almost right up against his. Her gaze went straight into his eyes and her whole body posture was extremely intimidating. When she spoke, every sylable possesed the strength of Hephestus' forge.
"I don't want to lead your army or any army. It's not just that I don't want to, but that the thought of War and of you, is completely repulsive to me." And with that Xena finally stormed off without Ares' interference.
Xena marched away with the same gait and stomping of feet for a good while before she finally relaxed to a more pensive stroll. Thoughts of Ares assailed her. Always some ploy to get her to return to him. She'd spent a lot of her silent times thinking of why he chased her so. Her dark side had kept him interested in her younger days. Her bloodlust the same as his and her unearthly skill at warfare, a living toy for him to awe at. Even their more passionate moments were only offshoots of that same connection. Her lifespan was only a grain of sand to his lifetime and she knew she wasn't anything else to him but a warlord with breasts; a novelty. And then Hercules had led her away. The brother Ares hated had taken away his chosen warrior and Ares wasn't about to loose what was his to his mongrel brother. But he did loose her, and now thats the only reason he keeps working on me. It's the prize he can't have.
Xena kept walking as she considered all this and almost didn't realize the moisture on her cheeks. She rapidly blinked back any forthcoming tears and hurried back to camp to alert refuges to avoid the area before she and Gabrielle could leave.
Ares sat on an tall ebony throne with a portal to see the mortal world open in front of him. In it he saw her walking through the grasses, her thoughts as visable to the god as words written on a page. When she started to cry he covered his eyes and immediatly removed the portal. He slouched in the throne with helplessness in his eyes. "How wrong you are my Princess. How wrong you are."