with love to Ayelet Yaari who inspired me a lot, especially on the Ares
This story one first place in the ''Israeli Xena-Con 2000'' fanfic contest.
''Xena!'' I yelled, battling
my way to the top of the hill. I arrived to the last of the soldiers on
my way, and with a couple of swift staff-strokes, I was there. From the
top, I looked down at the raging battle beneath me.
''Xena!'' I yelled down the hill. Of course, no one could hear me, especially not Xena, who was nowhere in sight.
What do I do now?
There must be a couple of thousands of soldiers down there! Two armies, and we're not fighting for any of them. Or actually, fighting both. We were just trying to reach the kings to convince them to stop the killing. King Barosous, the one I was sent to, is a friend of Xena and I. King Eronious on the other hand, needs to be convinced into stopping the fighting, and so Xena went for him, for that's what she does best. Xena said that once Barosous sees me, he'll know I'm with her and would listen to everything I have to say. She was right about him knowing me, however as for stopping the killing....
And now I have to reach her as fast as I can. I have to go through all of this, this... battlefield. Walk past all the dead man, the dying soldiers, the....
Get yourself together, Gabrielle. This is war!
That's probably what Xena would have told me. Or maybe I'm just being paranoid?
Well, no matter what she said, I have to go find her, and tell her that Barosous wouldn't stop the fighting without seeing Eronious do the same. And it seemed as if neither sides were going to stop. I hate wars. But what's important now is that I find her.
I hate it when a plan
goes wrong. King Eronious was hard to find, and even harder to negotiate
with. I could have forced him to stop the war, but unfortunately he had
a point. The two sides must stop fighting at once, or else one of them
would be slaughtered.
I assume King Barosous must think the same, but he's friendlier to us. That's why I sent Gabrielle to him and not to Eronious.
Huh! These soldiers... They don't recognize my uniform, so they assume automatically that I'm hostile. That's why I don't kill them. Besides, I'm here to stop the killing, not help it.
But what do we do now? We tried convincing the leaders to stop the killings, and the soldiers are all trying to kill us.
To kill us, kill me... Kill Gabrielle.... Wherever she was now.
She'd do fine. She's been to war before, and always made it out. Then again, I was always there to protect her.
I've got to find her! She can't.... If she.... If she dies, I'll kill both kings myself, and let their kingdoms fight each other to death, and kill their successors, and...
No, I can't even think that. Gabrielle is fine. I know it.
Still, I better make my way to the other side of the battlefield, to Barosous' camp. It'll take me time to get there, but that's where Gabrielle is.
-So unc', what now?
-Now that we've made sure Xena and her little friend couldn't interfere, we have time to consider this all through.
-But, but... I don't get it; I thought we wanted a war.
-We do, but you know the drill!
-Yeh, Yeh: Wars started by mortals should be first observed by the god of war to see if he has anything to gain or lose from it, and only than should he or any of his minions engage any action in this or that, or whatever.
-And you know something, Deimos? I am the god of war!
-Showoff... Ah, ah, ok, sorry...
-Good. Now let's see. King Barosous and King Eronious hate each other, right?
-And this war started, why?
-Eronious... Agh... Stole Barosous' favorite dress? Ouch! Ok, kidding, gods, get a sense of... OUCH!
-Why do I let you hang by my side again?
-(Sigh) This war started because King Barosous claims that these fields belong to his kingdom, and so does King Eronious.
-So this war is about territory?
-Not just territory, my friend, oh no... We're talking about a huge land, almost half the size of Greece!
-I don't get it unc', they're already sharing it, and it doesn't seem as if it would matter who's land is it officially, so... What are they fighting about, anyway?
-Deimos, I never dreamed I'd say this, but... You have a point! But you see, mortals have this need to... claim for... territory. Both sides already have one in this case, each at his side of the land, but they both want it all for themselves.
-Didn't their mommy ever teach them to share?
-It's not just them, Deimos; it's the human nature.
-Human nature's defective, they need to learn how to behave.
-Yeh, well, but if mortals weren't stupid, they wouldn't need me, or any god for that matter.
-(*Muttering*) As if gods aren't stupid enough sometimes...
-What was that?
-Ugh? Ooh, ooh... Nothing, nothing...
-Tell me, now... how come I haven't fried you yet after all that time?
-You always either have a headache or you're not in the mood.
-Anyhow, we shall wait to see how things turn out, and then we shall decide whether we should interfere or not.
-Hehe, I love watching a good war... Hihihihihi
I know this guy... Setius
is his name. I saw him when I was at Barosous' camp. He's Barosous' war
minister, I think. Yes, that's him. He's a very well fighter. Better than
me, naturally. Attacked by four, maybe five men at once, he manages somehow
to knock them all out, killing some, injuring the others.
I duck as a soldier notices me and attacks me with a swift reckless slash of his sword. With my back now at the soldier, still running at me, I swing my staff aside, making the soldier trip over. He's trying to get up, but I hit him again, knocking him unconscious.
I look around me, hoping maybe to see Xena. After scanning the area and not finding her, I then turn and run to Setius.
I knock my staff on the back of the last soldier battling with him, knocking him down to the ground.
''Gabrielle, what are you doing here?'' he asked me, recognizing me immediately.
''I'm looking for Xena, to tell her King Barosous didn't agree to truce''.
Seeing I was talking with him, Barosous' soldiers next to us now thought I was friendly, and turned their attention to Eronious' soldier.
''Gabrielle, these soldiers don't care if you're from Eronious' camp or from our camp,'' he said as another soldier attacked us. He stopped the soldier's slash from hitting me with his sword, and I on the other hand hit the soldier's exposed chest, and then hit him again on his back.
''Gabrielle, you and Xena are friends to Barosous, I w...''
''I'm not sure Xena would agree when I tell her his reaction to her request'' I cut him off.
''Well, not that it's any of your business, but I'm on my way to Eronious, to discuss possibly a truce''.
That came as a surprise. Barosous told me himself he would not call for Îcease fighting' unless Eronious would show some will to stop the killings as well.
''How can you stop the fighting if you keep killing anyone you see?'' she asked him with a criticizing voice.
''Gabrielle, in order to get to Eronious I need to fight my way through. There is no other way. Even my horse was killed!''
He was probably right. Eronious' soldiers wouldn't stop the fighting without an order from their commander, so the command from both camps had to come from the same place, at the same time.
''I'm coming with you,'' I told him, as we started to walk forward with the rest of the squad.
''You can do whatever you want, however I strongly advise that you...''
''Xena is at Eronious' camp. When she sees me with you it'll guarantee your safety''.
''Very well'' he said. Just then we met with another squad of Eronious' soldiers who attacked us, and after almost a minute of silence in our area, once again the sound of clashing swords hit my mind.
Gabrielle was nowhere
in sight. When I entered Barosous' camp, Barosous seemed surprised to see
''Where's Gabrielle?'' was my first question.
''She left to find you, some long time ago'' he answered. ''Xena, you can not interfere with this''.
Gabrielle left.... This was not good. She was just one innocent village girl, in the middle of a huge battle, between thousands of soldiers.
An innocent village girl... That's a thought about her I still haven't managed to lose. She's gone through so much; she's no longer the girl she used to be. She was now a fighter, a woman.
But I've been through this so many times, I still amaze myself how I still think of her sometimes as the villager I picked up at Potedia.
She'd survive, that I knew. It still didn't keep me from worrying.
''Barosous, you must come with me,'' I said. If I could get both kings together, there's a higher chance of getting them to negotiate, and call truce. If they issue an order for a cease-fire together, it'll be far more efficient.
''Xena, I can't. I have to stay here to command the battle, you know that''.
''Well where is Setius?'' I searched for his minister of war.
''I sent him with a squad... To... To negotiate with Eronious,'' he answered.
Damn it! Setius would be slaughtered if I wouldn't be there.
''So why didn't Gabrielle stay here like I told her?'' she asked.
''Because when she asked me, I told her I wouldn't call for cease fighting. Xena, I need to see Eronious calling to stop the fighting as well, otherwise I'm just sending my soldiers to slaughter''.
He was right. Could I have been wrong?
Yes. My plan was flawed. Funny that Eronious told me the same. My word that Barosous will ordered to stop the fighting in that same moment was not enough for him. However I have better things to do than whine about what went wrong. I need to get back to Eronious before Setius gets there. I need to make sure they agree on calling truce.
And I must find Gabrielle!
-This is a very interesting
-Can we go home now, Unc'?
-Look around you, idiot. Does it look as if the war is over?
-Well, there are soldiers, killings, and screams...
-Oh Yeh, Yeh! Uhm, I mean, I've noticed, naturally, that's my point. Deimos, they've only talked about perhaps talking about truce. Now they're still fighting.
-So, what do we do now?
-We'll go see if Barosous' squad makes it to Eronious' camp. We still do not interfere, though. We'll see what would be the outcomes of the negotiations. Then we decide.
-Hihihihihi, I like it when you talk decisive...
There's still no sight
of Xena. Then again, there are thousands of soldiers in the entire battle,
and finding one specific person, even if he was as... noticeable as Xena...
We've fought our way through the battlefield, slowly advancing towards Eronious' base. We've encountered some resistance thus far, but we do not expect any more of it before we get to Eronious' base.
''It's not far now,''
A small group of soldiers appeared from beyond the hill in front of us. Being in the first raw, Setius and I took on the first three soldiers, and the rest of the soldiers next to us took the other three.
''I think that's the last of their forces in this area,'' Setius said. Between the camps and the battle itself there was usually silence. We walked up the hill and suddenly saw three squads, about twenty soldiers in every one.
''Do we attack or surrender?'' asked one of the soldiers.
''These are not the base's guards. If we surrender to them they'll kill us''.
''You really think we can make it past 60 soldiers? There are only twenty of us!''
''It's been done before with less against more,'' said Setius and turned to me. ''You sure you want to come with us, you're safer if you stay here''.
''I'm sure'' I nodded.
''Ok, but be careful!'' he said and I nodded again.
''Ok people, stay sharp, and watch each other's six. CHARGE!''
We all started running down the hill, and with the yelling of the men the soldiers down the hill turned to us and quickly formed up in a protective structure. The fight began, and after taking down some soldiers, I noticed that all around me our soldiers were being killed. I've noticed five so far.
Our soldiers? Funny. Before I arrived to Barosous' camp, I was the enemy to them all. Both sides wanted me dead. Now I've teamed up with one of them.
After some time, there was little left of us, five or six perhaps, but on the other hand there were only about twenty or thirty of Eronious' soldiers left. Still, we could never get through.
''Setius!'' I yelled at him. He looked at me, looked around him, and nodded.
''RETREAT!'' he yelled, and the squad, or what was left of it, finished its current battle and started running back.
''Stop, let them go'' I heard their commander say.
''What now?'' I asked Setius as we ran back.
''We're going to go back to Barosous and tell him we couldn't start the negotiations,'' he answered. And I'll wait for Xena there. Barosous is friendly to Xena and I, so it would be better to wait for her. As for the war... Doesn't seem Xena and I can help any longer.
I rode Argo as fast
as she could handle! I've got to get to Eronious' base as fast as I can!
I've got to get there before Gabrielle gets there. Otherwise she'd be killed,
and I... I.... I'll hunt Eronious to the next life if I have to!
I arrived to Eronious' camp and saw there were neither any of Barosous' soldiers there nor were there dead soldiers.
I entered his command tent, and his face wore a surprised look.
''Xena, what... I thought we've agreed,'' he started, but I immediately went to him and pinched his neck.
''Everybody, back off or he dies'' I yelled at the guards, and with Eronious' nod they did.
''Now listen to me'' I turned to him and pressed him against the wall. ''You will come with me now. We're going to Barosous' camp, to talk peace! Do anything stupid as trying to get rid of me or attacking Barosous, and I cut your head off! Is that clear?''
Eronious nodded slowly, and I took the pinch off.
''Get me the squads,'' he said. ''We're going to talk peace with Barosous''.
I nodded at him and looked out the tent. It won't be long before Setius and Gabrielle arrive here, so we'll meet them on the way. When we do, they'll team up with us, and so when we arrive to Barosous' camp, we could get in with no trouble. I hope.
-This is not over yet
-But... But... But.... Oh come on! Can't we interfere even a little? A tiny mini winy... OUW! I want a war!
-You know the rules, Deimos. Besides, the negotiations might still fail.
-Come on, unc'! Can we really take that chance? I mean, think of the battle... Eronious' top squads against Barosous'... So far we've only seen random clashes between small squads...
-You know what? I like it...
-Hihihihihi... Yeh! Think of the bloodshed, think of the fighting....
-Yes, yes... Ooh! Ooh! Of course!
-The way things are, if they start fighting, well... Xena and her little blond chick... Hihahah! They'll be fighting each other! Hahahah!
-You know something Deimos?
-Hihihihihi... Eh... Ohoh.
-I like it! I like it a lot!
-Ahihihihi! Good! Good!
-Listen now; this is what you should do...
We arrived back to
Barosous' camp without any trouble. He came out to us quickly, hoping for
''We had to retreat'' said Setius. ''They slaughtered us''.
''Damn!'' he yelled. Barosous entered his command tent and Setius and I followed.
''So what do we do now?'' asked Setius.
''We prepare for an all out war'' suddenly a new voice said, and Xena came in as well.
''Xena!'' I screamed with relief, or was it joy, and started walking to her.
She nodded at me and pushed me aside, walking directly to Barosous. If I could see my face in that moment, it would be filled with the bitter surprise of an unexpected betrayal.
But Xena was just nervous, war does that to her.
''I'm coming back from Eronious' camp,'' she said.
''Seems like your negotiations have failed'' Setius said.
''The negotiations never took place,'' Xena answered. ''Eronious is now on his way here with a squad to attack you''.
''What? This is not good!'' Barosous yelled. ''But have it his way. He wants war? We'll give him one! Get squads three to six back! We're going to wipe them out! All of them!''
''Yes sir'' Setius nodded. It was final now - we're going to war!
''I'm going to warn the front defenses,'' she said to me and headed out.
''Wait'' I yelled.
''No, Gabrielle! You stay here''.
''But Xena,'' I started.
''You know what? On second thought...'' she spoke kinda weird. ''Join Setius on the fight. You could help them a lot on the front''.
''Ok'' I nodded and she left the tent in a rush. What was so important about warning the front defenses?
Wait, there were no front defenses when we came back! She lied to me. But whatever the reason, I knew I had no choice now but to join Setius' fighting. Whatever Xena is up to, if she didn't want me to know, then... Maybe I don't want to either.
''Here it is!'' said
''This is strange,'' I said. ''They're all formed up for battle''. From the top of the hill we could see them all facing us, waiting for something. Waiting for us.
They started running towards us. Eronious looked at me and I nodded.
''Drop your weapons,'' he yelled. ''We'll surrender to them and talk peace''.
Everyone slowly dropped his weapon, and I sheathed my sword back.
Eronious stepped back a couple of lines, so in case anything happened he would be safe. I came with him to make sure he doesn't escape.
Form the back we could see Eronious' general walking forward, raising his arms, and probably calling to say they surrender. With his arms up in the air, the sword had no problem running straight through him. With their swords down, the soldiers next to him were also easy targets.
''CHARGE!'' someone yelled, and they all picked up their swords and the duel began!
''No!'' I yelled, and took out my sword to defend myself from the soldier that just got to me. I blocked his sword and kicked up in the face, making him fall back.
''Listen to me, we've got to stop this!'' I yelled, but no one listened. I kicked back another soldier, and then I realized there was no point to this. I have to fight my way to Barosous' camp, and find Gabrielle.
I ducked from an arrow, and jumped aside when another soldier tried to attack me. This was going to be a long way...
-Well done, Deimos!
You actually did it this time!
-Hehe! I guess I did! I am the meanest war-starting sunovabitch! Uhh, except from you, of course.
-You did well. This is what I call war! Look at that... See him? That's what I call a fighter! Write his name down, we might take him to the army.
-Yes, Yes... Whatever. I also made sure to tell Barosous they were bringing one squad, so he'll set up three! Haha!
-And since they were bringing three squads, the balance of power is in nobody's favor... Very impressive!
-We're coming up to the really juicy part.
-Yes... Xena and her little friend are about to meet.
-And it isn't going to be much of a friendly encounter this time, ha? Haha... Hihihihihi!
I hate it when I get like that. Whenever I'm in combat, there's this point where I stop thinking. I just fight, act without senses. Let my reflexes guide me, instead of my eyes. It makes me fight better, yes. But I hate it.
This is how I am now. Ducking, hitting, kicking. Ducking - hitting - kicking. Like a machine, I didn't even see what I was hitting. But whatever came at me, I hit with my still trustworthy staff.
A sword came down at me. I ducked, and with my staff tripped the attacker and hit him in the head, knocking him down. Another attacker came from behind, and with a swift-turn my staff hit him, and as I continued to turn the other end hit him again, knocking him totally down. I turned back around and immediately ducked from another attacker. I instinctively went for his feet with the staff, and he almost fell but instead jumped up, kicking me right in the face, throwing me back. The attacker quickly sent down his sword at me, but then froze.
I know war.
I don't think at war.
My instincts think for me, and I just follow.
That's what's being a warrior is all about. Your instincts act while you calculate the next step. I don't even notice what I'm doing. I don't see any faces, swords, or people... I just act.
I ducked a sword and kicked the soldier's chest, throwing him back. I blocked another strike that came form behind and with a jump I sent my legs backwards, quickly wrapping them around my attacker's knees, tripping him.
My mind was blank.
I jumped aside, and another group of soldiers attacked me. I kicked two of them back, and one of them almost got me, but I blocked his attack in the last second, sending his sword back, and then kicking him again. I heard someone behind me. I turned and saw no one, but suddenly something hit my legs. I immediately jumped in air, instinctively kicking whoever it was beneath me. I sent my sword quickly down at him, and then I froze.
''Gabrielle?'' I asked with shock. What was she doing here? Why was she fighting?
''Xena!'' she said. I put the sword aside and helped her up, embracing her.
''Gabrielle, what are you doing here? Why didn't you stay at Barosous' base?''
''You told me to come here and....''
''I... told... you?'' I asked surprised. This was not right. Gabrielle raised her questioning eyes at me, and I looked back at her and then it hit me.
''Ares!'' I said. ''He must be somewhere around here!''
Gabrielle's expression said something like ÎNot again'.
This time however, Ares was not what worried me. I knew what I had to do.
''Come on'' I said, and turned to look for Eronious.
-It was short, but
it sure was fun.
-Yeh, you didn't expect her to kill her, did you?
-No, Deimos. I knew she wouldn't. Still it was interesting.
-Oh, oh, look, they're up to something.
-I see, seems like she's talking to Eronious. She's telling him... To... come with her to talk with Barosous about... Peace...
-No! No! She's going to ruin everything!
-Wait now, we're going to wait and see how things turn out.
-But I thought we...
-I said - we are going to wait and see what happens!
-But I don't get it! I thought you said you wanted this war.
-I wanted to see this battle, for the fun. Still, I don't think we have much to gain from an all out war between these two kingdoms.
-For once, Deimos, would you think? They fight on who's going to have the land they both already have. This war is pointless.
-But I thought...
-NEVER, interrupt me! Anyhow, as I was saying, this war is pointless. These two kingdoms have some pretty fair warriors; and a good fighter is a terrible thing to waste...
-So we're pro-peace?
-No, you idiot! We let Xena and her little friend try to make peace between them. However if they fail...
-War! War! War! War! War!
-Thank you, Thank you...
''This is not going
to work,'' said Eronious.
''When he sees you're with me he'll let us in,'' Xena answered.
''How do I know I can trust you?'' he asked and looked at the both of us.
''I leave you not much choice now, do I?'' she asked and turned back forward. Another group of soldiers attacked us, and Xena and I took them down quickly.
''There he is'' Xena said. Up the hill, next to a mobile tent, stood Barosous and Setius, observing the battle. Some guards approached us, and Barosous looked down at us.
''It's Xena, let her through'' he yelled to his guards who let us get through and up the hill.
''Xena, you were right. They were coming for an attack''.
''What? We were coming to talk about peace!'' Eronious protested.
''Who is he?'' asked Barosous.
''This is Eronious'', Xena said.
''What?'' the men around us drew their swords and started approaching.
''No, it's true'' I said. ''He was coming to make peace''.
''But you said...'' Barosous turned to Xena.
''I said nothing, the woman you saw was an impostor!'' she replied.
''Is this true, Eronious? Have you really come here for peace?'' Barosous turned to him.
''Only if you're willing to stop the fighting!'' he answered.
''I am if you will'' Barosous said.
''Stop it together!'' Xena suggested.
Barosous looked back at Eronious, and they both nodded.
''Truce!'' they both said. The atmosphere still was of war - they didn't even shake hands. But at least the fighting is now going to stop.
It's been an hour since
all fighting stopped, and the sun was already setting. Everyone was waiting
outside the tent, waiting for the negotiations to be over. Especially Gabrielle
and I, who now sat the edge of the hill, looking down at all the soldiers,
both from Eronious' and Barosous' army, who slowly gathered from the battle-field
and together waited for their leaders to come out of the tent.
Then suddenly Barosous came out of the tent, and everyone in the humongous crowd started whispering. Right after him came Eronious. They stood on the edge of the mountain for everyone to see, face each other, and with a huge smile on both their faces, sent their hands forward and shook each other's hand.
The crowd cheered.
After years of political tension, after months of war-like atmosphere, after loosing so many people to this endless debate, finally...
Barosous and Eronious turned to the crowd, and raised their shaking hands, and then Barosous with his loud bass voice screamed: ''PEACE!''
The crowd cheered even louder, and I looked down at my little bard and when I saw her smile I hugged her as strong as I could. I was so proud of her. And I knew, that deep inside, she was proud of me.
-We never get to see
a real war! The last time was years ago.
-This is how it turned out, Deimos, than this is how it will be.
-This isn't fun!
-Oh, shut up!
-Come now, Deimos. We've got to get back to the halls and prepare for tomorrow night.
-Why, Ares? What do we do tomorrow night?
-Same thing we do every night, Deimos - try to start over a war!
Deimos, They're Deimos and the God, God, God of War!
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