The Children of Ares
Copyright Disclaimers: Xena and Gabrielle are the property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. The author does not benefit financially in any way from this story.
Note: My thanks to my beta reader Jennifer for her wonderful help in writing this piece and for my new wife Shuana, who is helping me breakdown some walls.
Summary: An alternate universe, where Romulus didn't kill Remus. They each founded a city. Romulus founded Rome. Remus founded Reme. Centuries later Romulus controls the Roman Empire, the lands of Southern Italy, Sardinia, Sicily, Spain and Carthage. Remus controls the Kingdom of Reme, the lands of Northern Italy, Gaul, Britannia and the Norse Lands. Now the sons of Ares meet his daughter, Xena the Conqueror.
Chapter 9: White Pawn to Queen Four
The Courier knew better than to top a ridge. You would be silhouetted against the sky, which would make you a good target. So, the Courier avoided and bypassed it by way of the lower valley. Suddenly, she found a set of tracks. ‘Damn,’ she thought, ‘A second group of Barbarians. ’
Callisto got a general idea of their numbers and direction of advance. Then she was on her way again to the other outpost. She forced her horse hard. She knew that her horse was done, so she made a decision. She found the tracks of a scouting party. There were three of them. She was going to get another horse or die in the attempt.
The Courier found the group of three Barbarians watering their horses and eating some strange bread. She pulled her crossbow and loaded it. She knew she could take out two with the crossbow, but she would have to kill the third warrior hand to hand.
She fired her first and hit the largest Barbarian in the back. He was down. Taking her time she reloaded the bow and lifted it and fired as the Barbarian was nearly upon her. His momentum carried him into her, which knocked her backwards and away from her sword.
The dead Barbarian’s hand axe grazed her side cutting through her leather armor. The third Barbarian swung his axe at her head with every intention of killing her. The young courier barely moved out of the way in time. She rolled away from her attacker, who was pressing hard.
Finally, she managed to get to her sword as she bonded over the attacking axe man. With a sweeping swing of the sword, she sliced through the attacker’s belly. As he bent over to collect his insides, she decapitated him with an arching swing of the blade.
When the adrenaline of the fight had subsided, she felt the pain of her wounded side. She built a small fire and heated a dagger into the fire. When it was heated, she cauterized the wound. Then she took the equipment from her horse and put it on one of the Barbarian horses and took another of the Barbarian horses as well.
Chapter 10: Black Pawn to Queen Four
The blonde courier alternated mounts so she could ride continuously without stopping. By the second day, she had reached the other outpost. It was full light when she got there. She was immediately ushered into the presence of the Regional Commander. General Borias noticed her wounded side and ordered her to be seated.
The large dark haired General had her start from the beginning with an explanation of the situation as she saw it. Between her clear explanation and the dispatches he had a clear idea of the predicament in which they found themselves.
The tall General gave the young courier orders to rest. He sat and wrote out a promotion order for blonde woman with written orders for her to report the situation to the Conqueror.
Borias had been with Xena since she was a struggling warlord. The handsome man had once been the Conqeror’s lover. The black bearded General knew his former lover’s mind. He needed to get to the source of the problem and not just stop the invading army. So, the General had to rely on Commander Xerxus to stop the invasion. While Borias went for the source of the problem, the Barbarian ships.
The General gathered his forces of two legions and ten cohorts with three hundred light cavalrymen. General Borias sent the cavalry to cover their rear, while he marched his troops toward the enemy ships. He sent out scouts to locate the advancing Barbarians. The Bear of Greece sent riders to the other garrisons.
There wasn’t much more the General could do. He had to give Xena the time she needed to gather her forces and counter the real threat. Someone was orchestrating this invasion. Someone with knowledge of their scouting patterns and their garrison defenses. Someone who knew the deployment of the garrisons in the area, which meant it was someone in the Conqueror’s personal staff had betrayed them.
Therefore, he had to give her the time she needed to find the traitor, deal with him and gather enough forces to counter this Barbarian invasion without weakening another other defensive positions. This was a mess.
Chapter 11: Constructing the Gambit
Only eighteen of the Mongul returned to Xerxus. They had given the sandy haired Greek his three days. The squat warrior had positioned his forces in the only access into Lower Gaul from their last known position. From his surviving cavalry, the garrison captain knew they were still on a direct path to his position. However, their numbers were much greater than he had anticipated. The Boar figured he could only hold for a few days, but each day gave the Conqueror more time.
His forces were spread very thin through the valley. Captain Xerxua kept a small reserve with his remaining cavalry. Their job was to plug holes. The Boar of Corinth sent a runner to the main garrison with a warning that he would not be able to hold for more than four days. By that time, the stocky captain would be out of reserves and unable to fill gaps in the line.
On the other side of the forest, General Borias was overlooking two hundred ships or more in a sheltered bay guarded by an army of five hundred. That meant there were at least ten thousand warriors in the main body. This was very bad.
The general formed his forces in a standard wedge and charged the defending warriors. The defenders reacted slowly. The barbarians had not expected an attack from the West. Their commander had underestimated the Bear of the Conqueror, which would prove fatal to the garrison guarding their ships.
It was a short battle. Borias had the numbers and strategic surprise. His wedge cut right through to the center of the Barbarians defensive positions. Within the hour all the ships were a flame. The Barbarians didn’t know it, but they had just lost the war. He didn’t have any illusions about his survival, but without their ships they were stuck and the Conqueror would avenge his death.
Xerxus sat wearily upon a rock and surveyed the results of the latest attack. There had been six attacks over two days and they wouldn’t survive another attack. Tomorrow would be the end. He hoped that two and half days would be enough to save Lower Gaul from conquest.
The next day, Borias saw Xerxus’s forces fighting for their lives. They had killed hundreds, but thousands remained. He did the only thing he could he threw his weight into the battle. Using the Spartan Wedge, Borias marched his troops into the reserves of the Barbarians. His cavalry attacked their tents and headquarters.
The Bear planned to destroy the Barbarian reserves and supplies. Without supplies the Barbarians would have to take time to forage and without their reserves they would be forced to pull men from their main forces.
Borias saw his main body destroying the enemy reserves they were unprepared for the sudden attack and were quickly dispatched. The Barbarian leaders didn’t know about the attack until they saw the columns of smoke coming from their burning supplies. When they saw the smoke they knew they were in trouble. The general recalled their troops and Borias sent his reserves to reinforce Xerxus.
Xerxus was engaged with two Barbarians and he knew it wouldn’t be long before he was dead. Then he heard the recall horns and was confused as the Barbarians retreated from the field. ‘It doesn’t make any sense. They had us why are they retreating,’ he thought until he looked to the Barbarian rear.
To his relief Xerxus saw Borias’s reserves coming to reinforce his position. Quickly he organized the reinforcements into a stronger defensive force. He smiled for the first time in days. It was good to be alive.
Borias watched with thin patience as Xerxus organized his defense. When the defenses were set, Borias used his cavalry to cover his retreat toward Xerxus. He signaled his officers to follow as he headed toward the defensive spot.
Using what crossbow man he had left, Xerxus covered the very well orchestrated retreat. He could see that General Borias had earned his reputation. Two of Borias’s officers fell before they reached Xerxus’s defensive positions. But Borias the Bear made it to the protective location.
That day the Lieutenant Callisto reached the palace of the Conqueror the day Borias reached Xerxus’s defensive formations. She was guided through a maze of corridors and was greeted by a short woman with strawberry blonde hair with green eyes. She demanded, "I must see the Conqueror. Lower Gaul is falling to the Norse Barbarians."
The young woman smiled and said, "The Conqueror is in Chin. I am her Counselor. Tell me everything."
For the first time in days, doubt crossed Callisto’s mind as she wasn’t sure that this small woman could do what she knew the Conqueror could do. The young courier had trouble trusting in the small woman she saw before her. Callisto had much to learn about appearances.
Chapter 12: The New Game
Gabrielle searched the heart of woman before her. Her green-eyes looked deep into the courier’s soul and saw sorrow. The young strawberry blonde pulled her hood over her head and decreed, "Callisto, you will not find the peace you search for in the life you are leading. You are at a crossroads in your quest. You must seek my sister in the Isle of Britannica. There you will find your destiny."
The shocked courier looked into the hooded darkness where she knew the Bard’s eyes were in an attempt to look into their deeps. As if reading the courier’s mind the True Bard removed her hood and gazed into the courier’s hazel eyes. The white-haired courier knew the young Bard had spoken the total truth. The young woman acknowledged the words of the True Bard with a nod of her head and whirled around as she strode purposefully from the chamber.
After white-haired woman was gone, the Chancellor of the Eastern Empire sent a ment message to her sister and then one to Epony. It was time for the Amazons to reemerge. They must save Lower Gaul and Borias. Saving the father of her child would mean a lot to the Conqueror.
Darius, the military advisor to the Conqueror, queried, "Which legions do we send, Chancellor?"
"None, " answered the green-eyed blonde, "Send a courier to the Conqueror explaining the situation. Then, move the Army of the West toward Chin and wait for orders from the Conqueror."
"But Chancellor," inquired a confused General, "What of Borias and Lower Gaul. If we move the army, we expose our flanks to the Remans and the Romans."
Lower Gaul is safe. Neither Romulus nor Remus will move against their sister because of the Edicts of Ares," replied the young woman with more conviction than she possessed. Depending on the whims of the Gods was foolhardy, but Chin was more important to the Empire than Gaul and something was wrong there.
The indignant General was not convinced, "Chancellor, Borias cannot hold against such strength."
"I realize that General, but I have faith in the Bear and he will have help soon," the young Bard responded with a cold voice, "General, you will not make it a habit to question my orders, will you?"
Suddenly, the General felt fear. He knew he had gone too far. This woman was in high favor with the Conqueror and the confidant Bard shone with an Inner Light that was blinding to behold. He feared she would hex him or worse.
Quickly the General retreated by saying, "I apologize, Chancellor. I was just concerned for the Empire and as the military advisor, I only meant to advise."
The young woman decided to accept his apology and rose to leave the room. She decided she needed to gaze upon the Conqueror.
Chapter 13: The Poison Pawn
Xerxus was dead. He had died on the last attack. Borias knew that they would not survive too many more charges. He deployed his men as best he could. He had only his personal guard in reserve. His only hope was that the courier had gotten to the Conqueror. He knew Xena. They had been lovers and he knew he could rely on her. By forced march she could be here by tonight, if he could just hold the line until then.
The large man watch as the Barbarians form their charge lines in the valley. They beat their shields with their axes and hammers. The noise was designed to intimidate their enemies and it was working.
The enemy line started to move slowly and then started gaining momentum. Suddenly, they all started screaming and the line came rushing at them. Then the Bear of Greece heard the scream of arrows overhead. He started to call for his to head for cover, when he realized the arrows were headed at the Barbarian formations.
The flight of arrows was followed by two others that totally halted the momentum of the charging Barbarians. Hundreds of Barbarians fell to the ground as they were impaled with arrows. The fourth flight of arrows was followed by the bird cries of the Amazons, which was too much for the superstitous Barbarians. They started to retreat.
Borias knew now was the time as he called for a charge of his own. His men charged out of their defensive positions to attack the retreating Barbarians. Out the trees came a flight of light cavalry. It was bearing down on the Barbarians. The Barbarians looked up to see that the horsewoman had cut them off from the treeline. There was nothing for the Barbarian chieftain to do but to surrender.
Borias could not believe his eyes. They were Amazons! The Conqueror’s forces had been saved by Amazons. The Conqueror had tried her best to destroy the Amazon Nation, but now they had saved her possessions in Gaul. He knew he had some questions for their leaders, but first he had a battle to finish. He needed some of those Barbarians alive, so he had to stop his men from exacting too much revenge.
Chapter 13: The Young Dragon
Mien Tieng had gone tired of following the orders of two women. He was a man and he didn’t need a woman, much less two women giving him orders. The young man had many who shared his opinion. In fact, it can be said that the idea is not his originally, but that of several of his ‘followers.’
Now, the Prince of Chin had a chance. The Conqueror was coming on a visit with only her royal guard. He knew he had an opportunity to capture or kill the two women that prevented him from controlling Chin and eventually the Known World. At that moment the young Prince made a fatal decision, he was going to capture his mother and the Conqueror take her Empire as his own.
The young man called for his greatest warrior, Liu Bu, he would be charged with the Conqueror’s capture. Then he called Yuan Fu, who was his best strategist. Between the three men they would formulate a play to seize the Empire of that stupid woman.
An Oriental man of nearly six feet strode confidently into the room. He was tall for his race and he carried a heavy beard. It was obvious that he had Mongul blood running through his veins. He was Liu Bu. He was considered the greatest warrior in Chin and many, including himself, the World. The Oriental Warrior had always bragged that he could defeat the Conqueror in single combat.
Liu Bu had barely crossed the room when the door opened and in strode the equally confident Yuan Fu. This is the man who had instilled into the young Prince the belief in male superiority. He secretly coveted the thrown for himself. He knew that Tieng would be easily defeated once they had gained control of the Empire.
Each man hoped that the Prince had finally called them together to grant them the opportunity to do what they knew was possible. Ever since he had heard of the visit of the Conqueror, Fu had been putting the idea into the young man’s head that now was the time to seize the Greek Empire. He hoped that the idea had grown to full blossom.
The Prince of Chin, the Second Heir to the Empire, the Son of Heaven greeted his advisor and said, "We need a plan. Now is the time to seize the Empire and its Empress."
Chapter 14: On the Road to Chin
The Conqueror had received word from her friend and teacher, Lao Ma, that there was a growing resentment of the rule of the Conqueror among the male aristocrats of Chin. Her mentor had explained that it was difficult for these men to be ruled by two women. The Empress of Chin also suspected her son was becoming enamoured with the idea of male superiority. The Empress of Greece knew there was only one thing to do. She had to go in person and deal with the young Prince.
For the millionth time, she wished that her son, Solan, were alive. She needed an heir. Soon, the Conqueror knew she would be forced to bed a man to produce such an heir. As the daughter of Ares, she was granted a long life, but she was not immortal. Nor was she immune to arrows or swords. No, her Empire needed an heir of her blood.
Slowly, her mind returned to the present and to her decision to live her Empire in the hands of her new Chancellor. Over the months since Gabrielle had been her advisor, the Conqueror had come to rely on her friend and confidant. Yes, she had to admit to herself that indeed Gabrielle was her friend though she wanted more, but was afraid to broach the subject with the Mystical Bard.
The young blonde had captured her heart and she knew it. The Dark Warrior had long hid her emotions behind high and what she though were impenetrable walls, but the green-eyed bard had easily breached them. The Conqueror of the East had no idea how the young bard had accomplished this remarkable feat, but she could no longer deny the facts. The Conqueror of Greece, Egypt, Persia, India, Mongolia and Chin has fallen in love with a small Bard with green eyes and a perfect soul and has been defeated.
Suddenly the Conqueror was shaken from her musing by a scent in the air. Her hearing searched the area and picked up the horse riding hard toward her. Double-checking her hearing, she confirmed one rider. She held up the column and rode out to meet the hard riding visitor.
She rode out several hundred yards to wait for the incoming visitor. The Dark Warrior sat idly on his horse and watched with surprise as a woman who was obviously an Amazon ride up casually to a column of Greek soldiers. The raven-haired woman thought she had killed all of the Amazons.
The Amazon warrior rode defiantly up to the Destroyer of Nations and said, "I have a message from our Queen."
The tall Empress raised a questioning eyebrow and replied, "And what does she have to say for herself?"
The auburn-haired Amazon answered, "I have been instructed to tell you that Mien Tieng has imprisoned his mother and seized control of the Chin Army. I am also instructed to tell you that an army of Barbarians attempted to seize Lower Gaul and were defeated by General Borias and my people."
The Dark Warrior shifted in her saddle at this news and asked cautiously, "Is Borias alive and why are your people helping me?"
The muscular woman smiled as she replied, "He is alive. My people help because our Queen has ordered it."
The Destroyer of the Amazon Nation was quite confused when she inquired, "What does your Queen want from me?"
The young messenger shrugged her shoulders and responded, "You will have to ask her. She also sends this message."
The Amazon messenger had heard what happened to the Amazon’s last messenger to this woman. They have a memorial totem to the memory of Tara the Brave. Her head was returned to the Nation without any message. So the young woman tentatively rode up to the Conqueror and handed her the message.
The Dark Empress smirked at the caution in the woman and she took the note she sneered, "You know what happened to her body?"
The young Amazon swallowed hard and shook her head slowly. The Destroyer chuckled as she said, "I gave it to my men as a souvenir of the time they spent with her before she was beheaded."
Anger crossed the messenger’s face as she gripped her sword. The Dark Warrior looked pointedly at the sword and smiled. The hazel-eyed Amazon released her sword and took a deep breath. She remembered what her charge was and forced herself to relax.
The change in the young woman didn’t go unnoticed by the Warrior Empress. Her estimation of the Amazon rose to a new level. This one was tough and smart that made her dangerous. With a resolved sigh, the Empress of Greece opened the curious scroll.
Xena please don’t hurt Amarice. She is a dear friend of mine and therefore yours. It is time for you to learn of your failure to destroy the Nation and what we want from you. We want our homeland back. We are willing to earn it. We have spies everywhere and we can give you the information you need. Additionally, we will lend you military support to help you in the coming conflict.
We have already demonstrated out good faith in helping Borias without any assurance of reward or recompense. I have looked into your heart and know that you will understand we only look to return home. My people are willing to face your true enemies for this honor.
Finally, it is time to tell you that I love you and will renounce my throne if you ask me to do so. I am yours to command in all things, Xena.
All my Love,
Her heart sunk for a moment. Gabrielle was the Queen of the Amazons. She used me was her initial reaction, but then her common sense took over. The Warrior Empress realized that if the Bard had told her that the young woman was the Queen of Amazons in the beginning, the green-eyed blonde would be dead.
The tall Warrior had to admit that the young Bard had had to prove her intent before she would have listened. The Conqueror had to admit to herself that the True Bard had never lied to her. Finally, she had to admit to herself that she too was in love with the Queen of the Amazons.
The Empress of Greece reread the final paragraph and thought, ‘She is willing to give up her throne for me. I am not worthy of this woman. I must make myself worthy.’
Xena smiled at the young messenger and said, "Tell your Queen that she is to meet me at the place she showed me her true self."
"Yes, my Lord," the young Warrior saluted the Conqueror and rode off with the response.
Chapter 15: Lady Dragon
The small oriental woman sat stoically quietly and listened as her son rambled about the superiority of men over women. She was saddened by her son’s action because she knew that her son had committed suicide. The Conqueror would have no choice but to kill her son. She was confident of the outcome of this contest. The boy and his lackeys were no match for Xena.
They were no match for her and she was no match for the fire in the Empress of Greece. She had tried to harness that strength, but it was trying to ride a typhoon. It was not possible. Her foremost hope was that someone would find a way passed the high walls that the Conqueror had constructed around her heart.
She sighed as she continued to meditate on her son’s ultimate destruction. The boy had dreams of Liu Bu killing the Conqueror and of seizing her throne. It was too sad. Liu Bu was a great warrior, but he was no match for her much less the Warrior Empress. It was time to show the son the error of his ways.
As her son paced the room rambling about his plans and how he would soon rule the known world. Lao Ma, the Lady Dragon of the Royal House of Chin rose and moved into the shadows. Stealthfully the oriental woman moved to a hidden door in the wall and silently opened it. Carefully the Empress of Chin slipped into the passageway while closing the door.
Skillfully and effortlessly the small woman made her way through many corridors and passageways through the castle walls until she came to an exit. She exited the castle and entered a small hut. There she opened a trapdoor and descended into a prearranged escape route. She closed the door and moved skillfully in the dark of the tunnel to end of it. There she exited the tunnel into the forest surrounding the Forbidden City.
Confidently she strode into a small hut where her horse was hidden. She mounted her pony and rode off to find the Conqueror in the faint hope of saving her son’s life. Though he had not earned the right to live, he was still her son.
End of Part 3. Continue to Part 4
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