Chapter 3The air smelled of death. The foul stench of burning flesh and spilt blood surrounded the village as the battle waged on. Camrynn's opponent was a big, ugly man with rotting teeth and warts covering his face. She had finished off three men that looked a lot like the one that stood before her and she was about to score her fourth. With a sudden swing of her staff, the young warrior delivered a crippling blow to his knees. The wretched man fell to the ground with a piercing scream. There was no rest, for as soon as this one fell, another warrior charged her from behind. Camrynn quickly flipped backwards, landing behind her new opponent, cracking him in the back of the head with one end of her staff then swinging the other around to strike his knee. She had decided long ago that this was the best way to defeat her opponents. Camrynn avoided killing, no matter how the situation might call for it.
Glancing over her shoulder, she found Gabrielle holding her own against the three men that surrounded her. Xena and Eve were also polishing off a few warriors just to find themselves with the next set ready for battle. Out of the corner of Camrynn's eye, she caught a glimpse of a man charging Eve from the side. Eve was so preoccupied with her current situation, she didn't notice. Camrynn moved fast. She picked up a near by rock and hurled it toward the man. With pinpoint accuracy, the rock found its target, smashing into the man's spine, crippling him. Eve snapped her head to the right, surprised to see her stealth attacker fall, face down. Realizing whom her savior was, she looked up and flashed Camrynn a thankful smile. Camrynn returned the smile before swinging around to continue her own battle.
She found herself faced with three new warriors, all with swords at the ready, running at her with wicked intentions. Taking a deep breath, Camrynn centered herself, ready for what she had to do next. She positioned her staff to her left side and began to spin it with both hands. With each spin, the staff gained more and more speed, whipping around so fast, it began to hum in Camrynn's hands. Just as the men were about to step into range, the young warrior raised the staff above her head, spun around one rotation with the weapon while placing it on the underside of her left arm. In one swift movement, she finished her spin with her staff adding her strength as she made contact, smacking all three men on the cheek, sending them hurtling to the blood soaked ground. Without missing a beat, Camrynn let out a battle cry, flipped into the air, landing in between the warriors fallen bodies. She grasped her staff steadily in both hand, smashing it down with the force of her body weight, breaking all three of the men's noses and knocking them unconscious.
Hmm, that wasn't so hard. she thought to herself.
Looking up from her latest victory, she was amazed that she didn't see any other men barreling toward her. Camrynn's attention was taken, however, by the familiar grunts of her sister in a battle she seemed to be struggling with. Noticing that more men had surrounded Gabrielle, Camrynn ran to her aid. She forced her way into the middle of the circle of warriors to get to the bard; striking down numerous men, the young warrior wielded her staff with precise contacts to their head, neck, and knees. Reaching her sister, Camrynn stood in their familiar attack position, placing her back up against Gabrielle's as they began their harmonious assault upon the remaining men. As if their minds were one, the duo moved around the circle with grace and ease, striking out at the exact moment to eliminate each threat as it presented itself. In short order, she and Gabrielle finished off their opponents with no problems. They both stepped out of the ring of unconscious men and continued on to the next set of warriors.
This new set was charging at the them, one a few steps behind the first. The sisters looked at each other, knowing what the other was thinking with unspoken communication. Gabrielle put her sais into her boots as Camrynn tossed her staff to one side. The pair faced one another and clasped each other's hand to forearm. Camrynn leaned back and started to swing Gabrielle around her with all the might she had. At the precise second, the young warrior pulled back a little harder. Gabrielle kicked one leg up into the air followed by the next, as she became air borne anchored only by Camrynn's steel grip. Each foot contacted the face of the first running warrior, sending him to the ground. As soon as the bard landed, she spun Camrynn in the same manner, launching her off her feet, repeating the assault. Camrynn kicked her legs out as Gabrielle had done a few seconds ago, contacting with the second warrior's face. As he fell next to his comrade, Camrynn landed fluidly while she admired the work the pair had just done.
The smiles that spread across the duo's faces were brief, turning into a frown instantly as they noticed the two men start to get up. They rushed into action; Gabrielle drew her sais from her boots, flipping them around so that the blades were rested against the underside of her forearms as Camrynn picked up her staff that she had dropped a moment ago. Each chose an opponent and moved quickly before the assailants had a chance to get to their feet. Gabrielle positioned herself over her opponent and brought the hilt of her sai across the left side of his head. Camrynn also placed herself over her opponent and swung her staff to contact with his right temple. The force of their blows knocked the two assailants heads together with a sickening crunch. Both were unconscious, if not worse, but were no longer a threat.
Scanning the area around them, ready for the next attack, Camrynn and Gabrielle noticed that there were a large number of fallen enemies sprawled all over the village. Those that were still standing seemed to be backing off. Camrynn glanced over at Xena and Eve as they added more limp bodies to the massive group. The four of them made eye contact, assuring themselves that everyone was okay. Camrynn and Gabrielle, relieved to see them alive, quickly ran to rejoin with their friends.
"Looks like they're retreating," Xena commented. "Something doesn't feel right, though."
As if in response to Xena's words, a fleet of arrows came sailing toward them from above. All four women began to deflect the arrows the best they could as they moved back trying to get out of range. After what seemed like an eternity of endless air strikes, the volley of arrows dispersed and was no longer a cause for concern. To the four friends dismay, more warriors appeared out of nowhere, moving in on Xena, Eve, Gabrielle, and Camrynn. The sudden and brutal attack flung Camrynn backwards, separating her from her companions. She defended herself the best she could against the onslaught, only to steal a glance over her shoulder in hopes of finding her friends. She was relieved to find Gabrielle only a few feet from Xena and Eve. At least she didn't have to worry about the safety of her sister; Xena would protect her with every ounce of being in her. Camrynn returned her full attention to the task at hand.
Three stood before her, but they saw nothing except a blur as Camrynn's staff performed swiftly and magically. Then blackness overtook them as the final blow they received to their heads knocked them out. Camrynn hadn't even thought twice in what had now become second nature to her. Defending herself was now automatic as before each movement had to be thought out, wasting time and causing injury.
Foregoing the time to pat herself on the back, she turned around and started toward her friends with intentions of assisting in their fight. But just as she took a step forward, a man on a horse that she hadn't seen before kicked her in the jaw sending Camrynn to her knees. A blinding white light filled her vision, stopping her from reaching her destination. Dazed, Camrynn tried to get to her feet, but everything around her was spinning and she couldn't balance herself.
When her eyes had slightly cleared, she scanned the area for the man on the horse. Even though he had moved away, she spotted him a few feet back from her, recognizing him immediately. He was the warlord Laterian, the one they had come here to stop.
She saw him drawing his bow from his back and an arrow soon followed. Camrynn squinted, trying to focus as he notched his arrow to the bow and drew back the cord. She followed the arrow to where it was being aimed. Horror clouded her face as she realized it was pointed straight at Gabrielle. With every bit of strength she could muster, Camrynn got to her feet, trying to ignore the pain that shot through her head. Grabbing her staff that lay next to her, she took off toward the man who had her sister's death in his hand. Camrynn heard him yell for his men to retreat, as he pulled back on the arrow further. Laterian must have known he was defeated, but wanted one last kill before he, himself retreated.
Camrynn was almost upon him, running as fast as she could toward Laterian. She glanced to the left to see that her friends were oblivious to the danger that was the focus of Camrynn's desperate strides. They pursued the retreating army, not noticing the man that was about to end Gabrielle's days.
Xena sword ripped through the heart of an attacker and then sliced across another's throat, while Eve and Gabrielle delivered kick after punch to their own enemies. Camrynn knew she was the only one that could stop Laterian. Just as she got close enough to knock the bow out of Laterian's hands with her staff, he released the arrow.
At the young warrior's outburst, Gabrielle and Eve spun to face the source of the scream. Xena barely noticed the shriek as she deflected a sword headed for Eve who stood vulnerable to the attack. As her weapon glanced off her opponents, Xena spun her back to him, driving her sword deep into the man's stomach. The warrior's eye grew wide as she now faced the chilling site of a projectile mere inches from her soul mate. With no time to react, Xena and her companions, watched in shear terror as Laterian's lethal arrow shot into Gabrielle's chest. The bard's eyes widened with shock, realizing what had just happened. Tears began to stream down Camrynn's cheeks as she looked up at the warlord who had an evil grin oozing over his face. His eyes seared into Camrynn's, penetrating her soul and mocking her. She returned the glare with hatred emanating from her piercing orbs. After what seemed like an eternity, Laterian broke his now victorious gleam from Camrynn and kicked his horse into a gallop, riding away.
Camrynn turned back to look at her sister who had begun to fall. Xena released the hilt of her sword still imbedded in her adversary and quickly rushed to Gabrielle's side, catching her before she hit anything. The frantic warrior lowered her bard the rest of the way down, resting Gabrielle against her body. Knowing it would do no good, Xena broke the arrow off at the entry point anyway, throwing it away from her.
Eve knelt next to her mother and aunt, all of whom had expressions of panic and disbelief on their faces. Camrynn started running desperately toward the three, her legs not carrying her fast enough. She slid in next to Gabrielle and locked eyes with her momentarily, seeing a single tear slide down her temple.
Camrynn took the bard's hand in her own, feeling an ever-weakening grip from her sisters dying body. She knew Gabrielle only had a few precious seconds of life left within her. The bard hesitantly tore her eyes from Camrynn so she could encompass her entire family in her darkening vision. The terror that occupied her still beautiful face vanished only to be replaced by an eerie calmness. Her words came out in nothing more than a whisper.
"I…I love…all …all of…you."
The brilliant light that occupied Gabrielle's loving emerald eyes faded as they closed. Xena's own eyes turned red as tears began to fall uncontrollably down her face. She laid her head down on Gabrielle's chest and sobbed silently at the loss of her soul mate.
Camrynn couldn't believe what she had witnessed. How could Gabrielle, her beloved sister, be gone when they had only found each other a short time ago?
Without thinking, Camrynn pushed Xena back away from her sister and began to gently shake Gabrielle. She faintly heard Xena questioning her actions, Eve trying to comfort her mother and the pair as they wept together. Xena began screaming uncontrollably, screaming so loud at the painful tearing of her heart. None of that mattered at the moment because Camrynn couldn't think of anything except her own searing anger, rage, and pain. She couldn't, no, wouldn't accept what was truth. She couldn't lose Gabrielle like this, not so soon after finding her.
"Gabrielle, come on. You can't leave; you have to stay with us… with me. Gabrielle, please. Gabrielle… GABRIELLE!!!!!"
"Camrynn, Camrynn! Wake up."
Camrynn's eyes flew open as she jerked upward, shaking from the dream that was still so vivid in her mind. Her heart was racing and she was soaked with sweat. She looked around her to find Gabrielle kneeling beside her. Gabrielle had her hand on the young warrior's shoulder in a desperate attempt to calm her down. The bard stared at her with growing concern and curiosity at the sudden outburst during Camrynn's slumber.
"What…what is going on?" Camrynn sputtered in confusion.
"You must have been dreaming. You were screaming for me. Are you okay?"
"Um… I think so…. I'm… uh…I don't…."
"It's okay." Gabrielle rubbed Camrynn's back soothingly, trying to console her friend. "Calm down, what were you dreaming about?"
"I…it was…you were…I…"
Camrynn tried to get her words out, but it wasn't working, she was too upset to form any coherent sentences. She had this dream so many nights since her sister's death. She wished it would go away. Why do I have to keep reliving that day, why?
"It's okay, just try to relax, take a deep breath. You don't have to tell me now; I can see it is bothering you. We can wait until later, okay?" Gabrielle wrapped her arms around Camrynn, holding on tight as she began stroking her hair.
The young warrior slowly stopped shaking, calming herself down as much as she could. She gently pulled away from Gabrielle after a minute. Camrynn knew she had let herself fall apart the night before, but she couldn't let that happen anymore. It was rare that she fell victim to her feelings when she knew she had to be strong. Camrynn closed her eyes for a moment, covering her face with her hands. She slowly unmasked her soft features, revealing an emerald gaze filled with newfound control.
Her words came easier now. "I appreciate you kindness, Gabrielle. But, I need time to sort through my thoughts before I tell you. I hope you understand."
"Completely. I don't want to push you." Gabrielle smiled to reassure Camrynn. "Like I said, whenever you are ready, I am here to listen."
"Thank You." Camrynn scanned the camp area around her and noticed that Xena and Eve were nowhere to be found. "Where are your friends?"
"They wanted to scout ahead. I am sure they will be returning soon." Wanting to make her feel at ease and comfortable, Gabrielle came up with an idea to keep Camrynn's mind off her nightmare. "Hey, let's start breakfast, what do ya say?"
Laterian stood over the table that held a map of the surrounding area. His fists were planted on either side as he studied it intently in the glow of candlelight. In his head he was plotting out an attack plan for each village.
This is all too easy, why did my father fall short of these seemingly simple victories. Laterian thought to himself as he calculated his next attack on a nearby village
He chuckled to himself as he remembered his hatred for his father. My father might have been great, but he had been a fool to let love stand in his way. Where did it get him anyway? Nothing but old and gray with his dead wife in the grave.
He shook his head at the disgust he felt for the man. Laterian was all that was left of the union his parents once had, his mother having died at his birth. Losing everything he had, except his son, nothing stood in the way of passing battle knowledge on to Laterian
Gods know he was never going to fight again. The old, pathetic fool.
He had heard all the stories in his youth about the great battles Draco had been in, the villages he conquered…the women he bedded. Laterian had paid attention and absorbed all the information he could so that he too would, one day, be a great warrior. He recognized the strong points that had made his father great, but he also recognized the places that had made Draco weak. First of which was the love for some woman named Gabrielle. Oh, Laterian had heard that story too many times. Draco had been foolish at the unexplained, sudden attraction to this woman that had ended up causing many problems for him in the future.
Draco had said that one day the desire for this Gabrielle had mysteriously disappeared like it had never existed. Gone as quickly as it had appeared. But it hadn't been too soon after that, he fell in love again. The result of this love made him give up his sword and his army. For many years, the two had loved each other and their love had soon brought about Laterian. But Laterian never personally knew his mother or the man his father had been. Just stories.
Now all that was left of his father was an old shell of a once great warlord. Well, Laterian was going to finish where his father had left off so many years ago. He was going to take the world for his own.
The warlord, so engrossed in his thoughts and plans, didn't notice that he was no longer the only one in his tent.
Surprised by the sudden, unwelcome presence, he spun around toward the voice, coming face to face with a tall, blue eyed, dark haired beauty. The woman standing before him was most certainly incredible, but he wasn't about to let this intruder distract his concentration or get away with sneaking into his tent.
"Who the hell are you?" Laterian growled.
"That is of no importance right now." Xena waved a hand of dismissal.
Laterian's eyes narrowed as he cocked his head to one side at the intruder. "I disagree. No one breaks into my personal tent without at least revealing their identity." Deciding that it wasn't even worth the distraction, he shook his head and turned away. "No matter. Be gone, or I will have you in chains."
"I don't think I'll be going anywhere."
"Oh really." Laterian was astonished; who dared speak to him in such a manner, disobeying his command?
"Really." Xena sneered.
The warlord turned back to face the woman with a smirk on his face. "Let's see about that, shall we? GUARDS!"
"I don't believe they will be of any help." A new voice rang from behind.
Laterian turned on his heel facing the front of his tent only to find yet another beauty. This one resembled the first who stood behind him, now. She had the same cool stare emanating from icy blue eyes.
Laterian wasn't about to leave himself vulnerable to the intruders. He immediately flung the table that contained his map, candles, and goblet of wine out of the way, drew his sword and side stepped so that the two women were forward and to each side of his position.
"What the hell do you want?" he directed his question to both women. He shifted his eyes to the most recent addition at the entrance of his tent, "Who are you and what did you do with my guards?"
"So many questions," Xena tisked Laterian with mock amusement, "why don't you just relax and listen." The warrior's eyes changed instantly back to a sneer. "Then, if I'm feeling generous, I just might leave you the use of your legs."
"Well, this is new. Someone talking to me as if I were a mere peasant? No one speaks to the great warlord Laterian like that. Especially not a couple of whores who sneak into my tent!" His voice was almost a scream by the time he finished.
"If you are so great, then you wouldn't be standing here at a disadvantage telling two… whores did you say…how great you are." Xena said in a fierce voice barely above a whisper.
"We wouldn't have been able to sneak into your tent, either." Eve added sarcastically, "Oh great one."
Xena smiled, "Let's get down to business, shall we?" She glanced at the map that was sprawled over the floor of the tent. "Seems like you plan to be one busy little warlord."
Both women were regarding Laterian with entertainment twinkling in their identical eyes as if this was a game to them. Maybe it is a game, Laterian thought to himself, some sick, twisted game to get me off guard. Well, that won't happen.
"What do you think you were going to do? Carry out your fathers feeble little legacy?" Xena noticed the spark of anger flash in Laterian's eyes.
"What do you know of my father, whore!!?"
Xena's ice blue eyes narrowed as she answered in an evil hiss; " I know more that you can imagine. This looks an awful lot like Draco's plan to dominate this area many years ago."
Xena received a slight expression of surprise from the man standing across from her. It wasn't widely known that Laterian was the son of Draco, so how could this intruder know about his father? Xena took a step closer to him, with her companion behind her left shoulder.
Laterian wouldn't allow himself to be intimidated; he lowered his tone and asked again, "Who are you?"
"My name is Xena," motioning with her head, "that's my daughter Eve..."
Interrupting her words, "Xena! That's impossible." Laterian bellowed.
"It's a long story." Eve answered Laterian.
"Yeah, well I don't want to hear it. My father has told me about you, Xena. If that's who you really are. As for you, Eve, I've never heard of you, little girl."
"Better known as Livia." Xena finished her sentence, striking home with her words.
Laterian's eyes widened as he made the connection. Livia: the Champion of Rome. And Xena: Destroyer of Nations? One would have been hard enough, but both of them together? His father had told him of Xena and her uncanny powers, plus Laterian himself had witnessed the destruction Livia had caused in Rome.
He lowered his sword, believing that this would be a wiser move than foolishly pressing his luck. If anything, he could use this to his advantage and find out what Xena and Livia were planning.
"Okay, I'll play along. Let's talk."
"I knew you'd see things my way. Now listen to me carefully," Xena leaned in so close to Laterian's face, their noses almost touching. "What ever you're planning to impress daddy, forget it. If I see you or any member of your army even glance in the direction of a single one of these villages, I will make sure dad has to send out a search party to retrieve your body parts. I will scatter them all over Greece, do you understand."
A sadistic grin spread across Laterian's face. "Do you seriously think you can intimidate me, Xena? Don't threaten me, whore."
"Oh, I'm not threatening, Laterian," Xena slyly smiled. Sneering with her last words, "That's a promise. Now back off."
With that Xena's head struck Laterian's and he fell to his knees. When he had shaken the fogginess from his mind, he looked up. Xena and Livia had disappeared.
"If she thinks she can scare me with her idle threats, she's not as smart as dad had made her out to be."
On a nearby hill, Camrynn knelt on a carpet she had laid out moments ago to meditate. Oddly enough, she hadn't noticed this hill being here the night before, but there she was at the top, kneeling while resting her weight on her heels. She felt an inner turmoil that she couldn't explain. So much had been happening in the past few days, Camrynn needed to center herself before going any further.
Closing her eyes, she began to silently chant to herself. She inhaled deeply, held it, then released the air from her lungs. She soon fell into a trance like state, where she could begin her self-cleansing process.
Camrynn's thoughts echoed in her head as they came. Gabrielle, what has become of you, my dear sister? I know that I have to let you go and try to move forward, but how can I do that when every time I look at my new friends, I see your face staring back at me? I know I have something to accomplish in this world, but I don't belong here, I am supposed to be with you. I love you so much and miss you more than I allow myself to show. What am I doing here and what could Eli have meant by the price he spoke of? What could I possibly give to have this unique opportunity? And what is this opportunity going to accomplish when you will still be gone? Am I supposed to remain with these people or am I to return to an empty home? Oh, Gabi please guide me through this difficult time, watch over me, I beg you.
Somewhere in the back of her mind, Camrynn could sense a strange sensation that she had never felt before. She didn't know what it was, nor could she say where it was coming from. The strange feeling expanded within her consciousness and she was now fully aware of it, but still was unable to identify it. All she knew was that it was somehow a peculiar connection with the environment around her. Camrynn could feel the wind, grass, trees, and water, everything around her. She could sense almost a sickness, a deterioration dripping from the very fibers of their existence.
This isn't right, what's happening? Camrynn's thoughts came again.
The turmoil that saturated the air seemed connected to all that surrounded her as well as to Camrynn herself. She could sense the approach of a storm, feel it swirl within her, sense its wrath. She could feel the earth below her move, not physically, but spiritually as though it was uncomfortable with its current state of being.
This didn't make any sense to Camrynn. How could a mortal be connected to the world around her? Echoed her thoughts.
Why does the world seem to be screaming in agony? And why, why did Camrynn think the screams were directed at her?
Camrynn's eyes fluttered open as she emerged from her trance. She looked around as if to open herself to the world further. She lifted her eyes upward to the sky only to see the bleakness of the heavens above. Dark clouds had filled the once vibrant blue sky. They churned and seemed as though they might actually touch the ground with a frigid finger.
She looked to the trees in the distance. They seemed to be bent over in pain, leaves more yellow than green, wilting from the agony they were in.
She looked down to the grass underneath her. Brown laced the edges of the once luscious green that now wilted as well.
She looked to the creek by the camp. It had turned a dark gray almost black in color and it wasn't moving swiftly as it had, but slow like molasses.
Camrynn felt her heart break at the sight of the sickening life as it deteriorated. What could possibly cause such destruction to the world around her?
A deep rumble came from underneath her, throwing her forward with its force. The earth was starting to upset itself as hills pushed up where they hadn't been before. Camrynn watched as the ground split open in places and welled up in other areas. Gorges replaced the flowing plains, scarring the beautiful landscape in its wake of rage. The heavens opened up as well, soaking the world with its tears. The earth continued to violently shake, causing more damage to the ground then suddenly, with no reason, silenced itself. The rain stopped as quickly as it began as peacefulness filled the air once again.
Rising to her feet, Camrynn stared in horror at the devastation she had just witness. Returning her gaze down to the camp, she noticed that Gabrielle had also watched as the earth broke apart and created a new terrain for itself. Thankfully her friend was not harmed only stunned at the unusual occurrence presented to them.
By the Gods! Camrynn thought to herself. I can feel the pain and suffering inside of me as if it were my own.
Camrynn winced, every little change hurt a part of her as though she was the one that had been uplifted and thrown into utter chaos. The world is dying. It's dying right in front of me. And it's… Camrynn tried not to let the thought enter her mind, it was too outrageous, to insane, but it couldn't be denied…
It's all my fault!
"SHE CAN'T BE HERE!!!"
"I KNOW SHE CAN'T!"
Ares slammed his fist on the table in front of him. They had been arguing for hours! And they had gone around in circles, getting nowhere at amazing speed. Ares was getting irritated with Apollo's insistent bellowing. Back and forth they would scream at each other, not hearing a word the other spoke. The God of War had tried to remain somewhat calm, he really had, but he grew more and more frustrated with Apollo as time had passed.
All this because some God somewhere had decided to play with the ever so thin fabrics of time and space to bring a mortal to their world. To think that a mere mortal could cause such an upheaval on Mount Olympus. A mortal, by the name of Camrynn. Someone who wasn't even supposed to be in this world in the first place.
Apollo had gone on and on about the "Balance of the World", and how Ares wasn't taking it seriously. Ares knew that there was a balance within the world and if that balance were ever disrupted, all Tartarus would break loose. Hence their current situation. He also knew that this mysterious God had disturbed the balance by bringing Camrynn here. There was nothing else more serious to Ares than restoring it.
Gods rarely played around with other worlds for just this reason. Bringing people from one world to another would only spell disaster for anything living in either place. It wasn't just the world that received the new presence but also the one that lost it. Both were being hurt, but Ares had to concentrate on his own home first.
Shouting at each other wasn't getting them anywhere; the remaining Gods on Olympus had long ago left the throne room. If Ares and Apollo had calmed enough to actually make some progress, they would return, but not until then. What was the sense of listening to two pig headed Gods yell at one another, they had better things to do. Ares finally had grown tired of arguing and now had a splitting headache.
Rubbing his temples, he lowered his tone and tried once again to speak with Apollo on a civil level. "Look, I know that this is an urgent issue that needs to be dealt with…"
"No, I don't think you do, Ares. She is causing all of this havoc we have been experiencing lately. Do you understand that? We can't stop it nor do we have any idea on how to help the situation. If we don't get rid of her soon, she will end up killing everything we know."
Ares' dark eyes burned into Apollo's deep blue glare. Who in Tartarus did he think he was interrupting me like that? And, for that matter, did Apollo think him an idiot? Ares had seen the disturbances! As well as the wave of death as it began to wash over the land with nothing but devastation in its wake! I'm not blind!
"I thought," Ares snarled between clenched teeth, "that the only one that could return her to her own world was the one that brought her here."
"What are you talking about? I have never heard this before!"
Now who is the idiot, Ares thought to himself. "Yes, that is the way it goes, Apollo. We could try, but we would probably cause more problems than it's worth."
"Well, let's just kill her then."
Red-hot anger clouded Ares' vision; the rage began to boil over. It was all he could do not to explode at Apollo again. "That won't help, she will still be here. It's not her life that is causing these problems, it's her presence. If she dies it does nothing to solve our situation. She has to go back to her own dimension!"
"Well, who brought her here, Ares? Do you know, because no one else seems to? And no one is fessing up to it either." Apollo retorted, flailing his arms in frustration.
"No, I don't know. Don't you think if I knew that, we wouldn't still be standing here arguing about it?" Ares paused, regarding the blonde God that sat across from him.
Trying to relax himself once again, Ares continued, "There are very few that could do this and they all know better than to tamper with the fabrics of time. Now, think. Who could do this other than us?"
"The Fates, but they wouldn't do that because they know the chaos it would cause… What about the Furies?"
"There's nothing in it for them. They only do crap that would amuse them. I don't think they would find this kinda thing funny. They would be destroyed just like everything else."
"Well, then who, Ares?" Apollo grew more and more enraged.
"Like I said, I don't know. Agghhh…" Ares dropped his head back and closed his eyes as he tried to think of anyone stupid enough to mess with the universe. Who would intentionally bring an unwelcome presence through to another world? What could be so important to risk everything they knew? Shaking his head, Ares straightened himself. "I can't think of anyone. I've got nothing."
"Yeah, no kidding." Apollo snorted.
"You aren't doing any better. Why don't your just shut your trap!!!" Here we go again. Ares thought to himself. "Why don't we call the others in here and try to figure out what we can do. All right?"
"Fine, call them in then. I don't know how much help they are going to be."
"Yeah, well that's nothin' new." Ares commented under his breath.
Apollo's head whipped in Ares direction. Bitterness clouded his face; "I heard that." Apollo mumbled.
One at a time, the Gods appeared in the throne room, taking their places at the new table that had been set in the center of the throne room. Since the demise of Zeus and disappearance of Hera, there hadn't been an established leader. Athena had assumed the position for a time, but then she too died at the hands of Xena, like so many before her. The Gods decided to establish equality between them, therefore bringing a table to the throne room so that everyone was on fair ground.
After all were seated, Ares began to explain their dilemma. "Okay, here's the deal. As you all know, we don't know how Camrynn got here. We don't know who brought her or how to get her back. She is, however, the cause of the problems we have been experiencing lately. We need to figure out how to either stabilize the environment or get rid of Camrynn and let the world heal itself. Apollo and I have not been able to come up with anything that could help, so we need your suggestions."
"Kill her." Hermes offered
"We can't. It won't solve any problems, she will still be here and that's what is causing the problem." Apollo explained.
"Okay, well why don't we, like, convince her that she is the problem child. Have her tell us who sent her here, so we can have her sent back." Aphrodite chimed in.
"She knows she's the cause, she just doesn't understand it. Plus, I don't think she would just hand over the information willingly. She may not even know who it was. Even if she did, there is no guarantee that we can get that being to send her back. She was sent here for some reason, so they might not want to return her until it is accomplished." Ares fumed over the dilemma.
Aphrodite's brow furrowed with concern. Then, her normal chipper smile came back as an idea sprung to her head. "Demeter, can't you do anything to ease the strain of Nature? I mean, like, you can do that right?"
As her special gift, Demeter was able to commune with Nature. She had discovered that Nature was more than anyone had believed. Nature was an entity all it's own, alive and, until recently, thriving. Since the storms had begun, Demeter had gone to Nature to understand more of what was ailing the beautiful creature. Demeter had been horrified to find that Nature was actually ripping apart at the seams of Her very being. She was dying.
Demeter nodded in acknowledgement. "Yes, and I have. I have calmed Nature as much as I can. She is still in pain and my powers only do so much, I an unable to heal Her. Camrynn must leave in order for Nature to actually begin repairing the damages that has been caused. Once that is done, I will be able to quicken that healing process."
"So, it's, like, only a temporary fix?" Aphrodite's voice fell in disappointment. "Bummer!"
"Unfortunately, yes. Something has to be done before I can truly help."
Silence filled the room as realization of Demeter's words penetrated them. The severity of Nature's wounds was worse than they had originally assumed. The lovely creature was being destroyed at a much faster rate and far more deadly than they had expected.
"Couldn't someone force Camrynn back into her own world?" Hermes broke the eerie quite.
"No." Ares broke himself away from a stare that he hadn't even realized he had fallen into. "Only the God that brought her here can return her and we don't know who that is."
He stood from his chair, arousing everyone from the blank gazes that were consuming their faces. "Look, you all know how it works. At least Demeter has given us a little more time, so start using your heads!! We can't send her back, we can't kill her, and we can't get anyone else to do it for us…" Ares voice faded. A light went on in his head. "Unless", he grinned as his plan became so clear. If one God can send someone into our time, why can't I go into theirs? If they can mess up our world, I'm not gonna worry about messing up others…I could fix it later… then I could…
Suddenly realizing the other Gods where waiting for him to elaborate, the God of War simply stated,
"I've got an idea"
In a flash of light, Ares vanished.
"If we position ourselves on the eastern ridge, we will be hidden by the glare of the sun. We won't be detected. As soon as she leads her army down this trench, we surround their position. I will lead the first wave, circling around this wall of boulders and end up in front of her army. You will lead the second wave to the right, be sure to keep yourselves hidden or we will lose our advantage. Thearus will lead the third wave and double back behind her troops to block their escape. As you can see, the rock wall blocks the left side. When I give the signal, we attack. Everything we have, do you understand?"
"Of course, commander. Do you want me to prepare your legion?"
"Not yet, we won't be moving out for another 24 hours. Drill them, make sure they are sharp. I don't want any screw-ups down there. This is our only shot at taking the rebels out. I will not lose this opportunity. Now go."
With a sharp salute, Darius turned on his heel and left the tent. Livia scanned over her map again. It would be a glorious victory for Rome. After years of the constant advances of the rebel army, Livia finally had the perfect opportunity to rid Rome of this disease. The Followers of Eli had been a nuisance on their own with their peaceful ways and words of love spreading like wild fire.
But, then there had been the appearance of an aggressor who developed an army for Eli, some holy warrior named Camrynn. This had taken the Roman Legion by surprise because the Followers of Eli had always been peaceful. Never had anyone thought that an army would develop, which was believed to be against all they had stood for, that actually fought for what they believed in. Livia had soon made it her mission to destroy the army and all that Eli had created.
It had been five years since the first encounter with Camrynn. Five long years of this "Holy War" as it had been referred to from the beginning. Five years of evading capture, escaping death, and turning more and more people against Caesar. Fighting for peace and love? It all seemed ironic to Livia that people would fight for love. Wasn't violence against everything that they believed in? It didn't matter anyhow; it was all about to come to an end. Camrynn would be caught and forced to fight Livia in the battle arena, at a disadvantage, of course. An example would be made of her in front of all that were to see. All the Followers of Eli, Rome…Everyone! No one defies Rome…defies Livia!
A wicked smile pulled at her lips as she imagined the look on Camrynn's face when she found herself surrounded on all sides. The defeat in Camrynn's eyes when she realized she had lost. The incredible look of excruciating pain as Livia thrust her sword through Camrynn's stomach in the battle arena. The feeling of blood coating Livia's hands as she drives her fist deep into Camrynn's chest to withdraw her heart. The utter horror on Camrynn's face as she sees her own heart beat for the last time. And the final shriek that would escape her throat before she died, bringing Eli and his damned followers to their knees once and for all.
A blood-curdling scream broke Livia from here thoughts. "WE'RE UNDER ATTACK!"
Livia tore out of her tent in an instant, looking around the camp feverishly trying to find the source of all the commotion. Her eyes grew wide, amazed as she saw a small army barreling toward the camp led by Camrynn's first in command, Tauris.
"This is a suicide mission. What do they hope to accomplish?" Livia said to herself.
Grabbing her sword from its sheath, Livia charged into the center of the battle as it broke out.
"Okay, she's distracted. Let's go."
Camrynn and two of her most trusted men started toward Livia's tent being as stealthy as they could. Her plans were playing out perfectly. Distract and move. Sending in a portion of her army to draw Livia away from the tent had worked out just as she imagined.
Camrynn knew that there would be some casualties, which was a necessary evil that couldn't be avoided. Her men had been so loyal and devoted to their cause that they had volunteered for this suicide mission, no questions asked. No fear. She loved her men dearly, like a mother would love her children. She looked after them, protected them. Camrynn would miss them dearly. But, right now she had to stay focused; she would mourn for them later.
Reaching her goal, Camrynn slipped into the tent undetected with her companions as lookouts. Any sign that she would be interrupted during her mission, they would notify her immediately.
A quick glance revealed the map she had come for, set out perfectly as though waiting for her. Camrynn rushed over to it, wasting little time as she studied the plans intently, making sure to absorb as much information as she could.
Placing her hands on the table, she leaned in closer as she noticed thin lines that had been drawn on the map. One was drawn at the entrance of the canyon. Another to the right and the final one near the canyon's exit. Lines of attack. Camrynn interpreted.
"These must be where she intends to split her army and surround me. So, that's what she's doing. She's gonna try to trap me in that gorge. Well, my dear sweet Livia, it's not gonna happen."
Livia flipped high into the air, watching the sword swing underneath her harmlessly. Landing only briefly, she leapt toward the man on the horse that had just barely missed her. Driving her sword deep into his back, she assumed his horse as her own as she yanked on the reigns, throwing the corpse from the saddle and facing back toward the battle.
Spotting her next victim, she kicked her new horse in the side and raced toward the unsuspecting man. As she reached her target, she lifted her weapon above her head. The warrior spun around just in time to see the sword blazing toward his neck. He could do nothing as Livia sliced his head from his shoulders, blood spurting from his body onto Livia's legs and arms. A crazed grin crossed her features as she reveled in the warm liquid oozing over her.
The small band of rebels ran for the hills. Livia began to chase after them, only to break her pursuit. It's not worth my energy. Let them return and spread the story of their demise, she thought to herself. Turning to her first in command who had also began to chase after the rebels, "Darius, let them go."
A confused look replaced his snarl as he stopped short, "Uh, yes…yes commander."
"Are there any left alive?"
"A few, commander"
"Good, gather them and lock them up. Prepare some crosses."
"Yes. We can't have a crucifixion without crosses, Darius. Place them in a circle so that anyone looking down onto our camp can see their faces. I want Camrynn to see her men that she sent here writhe in pain. Let that be on her peace loving conscious!" Livia sneered.
"As you wish, commander."
"Hmm. Well, Livia's little plan is about to back fire on her." Camrynn mused. She had drawn a picture mentally of the map as she devised her own plan, designed specifically to crush the Roman Legion and it's Commander.
Whispers came from outside the tent. "Camrynn, we gotta go. Someone's coming. Go out the back or you'll be seen."
Taking one last glance at the map, Camrynn turned and crawled out the back of the tent and rejoined with her men. Looking around them before moving, they found no one that would hinder their escape. Everyone's attention had been diverted in the direction of Camrynn's fleeing army.
The three took off in the opposite direction without being noticed. As Camrynn reached the trees that surrounded the back of the camp, she stopped short as she glanced back over her shoulder. Sadness clenched her chest as she saw some of her troops being dragged in chains to a tent. Camrynn's stomach sank, her sadness replaced with horror instantly. Off in the distance, she saw Roman clad men with nails and hammers… building crosses.
"It's time, Darius. Go and prepare the legion to move out. Camrynn and her followers will soon be moving. We have little time to dawdle."
"They shall be ready in minutes, commander."
"Good, be sure they are."
It was still dark when Livia called Darius to her tent. She wanted to go over the plan one final time before they moved out. It had been a long night. Livia hadn't slept at all, which was common before a big battle. It had been something she had done ever since she took command of the Roman legion. It never seemed to hinder her performance, if anything, it kept her on her toes.
All night she had walked around the camp, observing the weather and the feel of the air. She studied all of these things intently, it was best to know what the environment had to offer so as to use it to her advantage if need be. She walked by the crosses that held the rebel scum.
Livia had taunted them, berating them in an attempt to anger them. She laughed as they grew more agitated, only to scream out in pain at the slightest movement. Pain that would streak through their bodies from the stakes protruding from their feet and hands. Livia found it amusing that they squirmed at her taunts; she loved to hear their wails.
She had attempted to get information out of them, but they were loyal to the end, not speaking of anything that could give Livia an edge. Not that she really needed it; she knew she would soon have Camrynn by the throat. After watching the last man die on the cross that evening, Livia moved on.
She still hadn't been able to figure out what the attack had been about earlier. What had Camrynn thought to accomplish by such an unorganized attack? Was it to throw Livia off, a pathetic attempt to assassinate her, or just stupidity?
"What was it?" Livia whispered to herself.
The hair on the back of Livia's neck stood on end as a surge of energy ran down her spine. "Hello, Ares."
In a sudden flash, Ares stood before her. "You know, only one other person could ever do that."
"I know. Xena!" Livia said with a bite of acid on her tongue. "I am so sick of hearing about her!"
"Hey, chill babe. She was an amazing creature. I took a lot of pride in having her be mine. She was…incredible."
"ARES!! I don't care what she was. She is nothing to me except an annoyance that you just keep throwing in my face. Knock it off, already."
An unnerving viciousness filled Ares voice as he spoke. "Listen to me, little girl. I am the God of War and I will not be spoken to like that, do you understand?"
Not nearly as intimidated as Ares would have hoped, Livia glared at him, getting right to the point. "What do you want, Ares?"
She could feel her blood boil as he stepped closer. Anger wasn't the source of the bubbling within her, however. Ares had an affect over Livia that drove her mad with passion. Whenever he was around, Livia had an incredible time holding herself back from him. She wanted him with a white-hot lust she couldn't explain.
"I am here to caution you about your upcoming battle. Don't be too hot headed, Livia; Camrynn is more intuitive than you give her credit for. She may not be as vulnerable as you think."
"I am not concerned. Camrynn is just another thorn in Rome's side that needs to be dealt with. She has no more sense than any of the others I have come up against." Livia steadied her voice the best she could from the quiver that could reveal her weakness. She wanted the man that stood before her more than anything.
"Don't say I didn't warn you. I am only trying to help you."
Stepping closer to him with a suggestive smile and playful gleam in her eye, Livia ran a finger over Ares chest that was exposed behind his leather vest. She wanted him to take her. She couldn't wait any longer. "Hmmm. I have something you can help me with."
Ares leaned down and aggressively engulfed her lips with his own, grabbing her hair and pulling back her head. Livia could feel her entire body tingle with passion as they vanished in the blink of an eye to his bedchambers.
Livia recalled the memory with sweet pleasure. What a perfect way to begin the day. She thought to herself.
Stepping outside her tent, Livia was pleased to see her legion already in perfect formation. Mounting her horse, she gave her men some motivational words. "We do this for all of Rome. We will finally end the five year Holy War that has plagued us for too long." Raising her sword above her head, "For Caesar!!!"
Her army echoed her words.
"Is everyone ready?"
Camrynn briefed her army of Livia's plan to overtake them the night before. Now, as they approached the canyon, Camrynn was about to put her counter plan into play.
"Yes, everyone is prepared for your command." Tauris replied.
"All right, just as we discussed. Move!"
Livia stood at the top of the eastern ridge. Just as she thought, the sun hid them. Her legion had positioned themselves exactly as she had instructed them. Livia saw Camrynn and her army approaching their position, but something didn't look right. The army wasn't as large as Livia had remembered it to be.
With Caesar's order to every market to deprive these people of food, Livia dismissed it as the typical starvation casualties' armies like these always suffered.
"There they are."
Livia looked down at Darius who was in his designated spot. She nodded to let him know that Camrynn was on her way. She then looked over to Thearus who also acknowledge her signal. Now all Livia had to do was wait.
"Okay, we are about there. I hope this works." Percsus mumbled.
Camrynn eyed her second in command. She shared his nervousness; this had been a plan that was thrown together after leaving Livia's tent the night before. No time to refine it and work out the bugs. But she was confident that it would work. She tried to comfort Percsus. Her love for her army was always present; it made no difference what was going on.
"It'll be fine. Just keep your mind on your task. Tauris will take care of the rest, all right?"
Settled a bit by Camrynn's words, Percsus nodded as they entered the canyon.
"Wait for it." Livia whispered to her men. "Wait until they are all in." She raised her hand over her head.
As the last of Eli's Army passed through the opening, Livia dropped her arm, signaling the archer to fire the arrow. Flames shot threw the air as the projectile cut across the gorge.
Livia's slid down the rock face, followed by her men who blocked the rebels' path as they reached the ground. Livia came face to face with Camrynn as the second wave of the Roman legion cut off the right side of the canyon from escape. The third wave followed suit and appeared behind Camrynn's men and blocked off the entrance.
"Well, well. We meet again. Are you prepared to die for your pathetic cause?" Livia hissed at Camrynn.
"Not today, Livia." Camrynn's cool emerald stare held an intensity and confidence that made Livia uneasy.
The Roman legion attacked as the young warrior raised her staff, deflecting Livia's sword swinging toward her head. Bouncing her staff off the sword, Camrynn spun around and delivered a well-placed foot to Livia's stomach. Rome's Champion recovered immediately and leapt into the air coming down behind Camrynn. She was about to thrust her sword through the holy warrior's back, but her opponent was no longer there.
Anticipating Livia's leap, Camrynn had rolled forward out of reach and was now spinning on her toes with unnatural speed. Livia knew what was coming when the young warrior started moving toward her. She quickly ducked as Camrynn's staff zipped over her head. Thrown off balance from hitting nothing but air, Camrynn stumbled backwards. Livia instantly took advantage of the situation and knocked Camrynn off her feet with a fist to the cheek.
Camrynn glared up at Livia as she started to pull herself up into a balanced stance: her legs steady as she propped herself up on the balls of her feet and placed them shoulder width apart. The young warrior's glare was returned with the same deadly rage as the two held the look for several seconds. An eternity passed as the battle that surrounded them echoed off the rock walls. A small smirk captured the corners of Camrynn's mouth as she caught an anticipated sound.
Beyond the noise of the swords clashing, the screams, and the thundering hooves of horses, Camrynn could hear a slight crumble, a rock move here and slide there. She had long ago trained herself to listen past the normal audible sounds to hear what was behind the obvious. Only she herself had heard the approaching danger.
Livia's eyes narrowed as she watched a look of coolness engulf Camrynn's face. Uneasy once again, Livia refused to break the stare that still remained between the two. Shifting her weight from left to right, Livia prepared herself for anything that Camrynn would throw at her. Suddenly the holy warrior rapidly advanced, closing the distance between them. Her staff moved fluidly, not allowing a single blow to get past her as she charged at Livia.
Camrynn moved forward with brutal force, pushing Livia back. Try as she might, Livia couldn't score a hit against her opponent. Farther and farther back she was pushed, getting closer to the wall that towered high above her, denying her any escape.
She desperately defended herself from every swing that was delivered, as they grew faster and stronger. Livia was amazed at the skill of her opponent that she had never noticed before.
Unable to block it, the end of Camrynn's staff cracked Livia in the chin with incredible power. Livia's head whipped backwards as she felt herself fly into the air and smash into the rock wall. Camrynn was on her in a second, placing her staff on Livia's throat.
"Look around you Livia, you are beaten."
Lifting her weapon above her head, Camrynn swung her staff in circles. Livia cringed, expecting another assault to her head. But it never came. She glanced to her left and noticed that Camrynn's army had pushed her legion up against the wall as well. A quick glance to the right revealed the same picture.
A sudden numbness enveloped her mind as she realized what was going on. That swinging of Camrynn's staff wasn't a pretense to an assault, but a signal for her army.
What is she going to do? Livia thought to herself.
Then, from above, came a gut wrenching sound. Looking up she saw boulders and rocks moving and shifting. Utter horror clouded her face as she heard a laugh coming from the woman that stood before her.
Realization and shock possessed her. The signal was for the rest of Camrynn's army that were hidden above to start a rockslide.
A rope fell in front of her. Before Livia could stop her, Camrynn, as well as the rest of her army, grabbed one of many ropes and disappeared up the face of the rock wall.
"GET OUT OF HERE, NOW!!" Livia screamed at her legion as she sprang to her feet.
She raced toward the entrance of the gorge as rocks poured from the sky. It was like an avalanche of sand and boulders that she saw crush so many of her troops. Faster and faster she ran away from the doom that rolled after her. Her legs burned in protest, but the anger she felt for that damned woman fueled her as she dodged boulders that fell in front of her left and right.
As though thrown from the heavens above, a gigantic rock landed directly in Livia's path, deterring her from escape. It was too big to go around with the speed she was running at.
Instinctively, she hurled her self straight up into the air and landed on top of the rock. Without missing a beat, she jumped off the other side and continued running. The roar of the rockslide behind her grew louder, threatening to crush her.
Faster, Livia. Go, go, go." Her thoughts screamed in her head as she ran.
With the last bit of energy she had, she dove out of the canyon, just barely missing the last rock that had intended to take her head off. Safely outside, Livia got to her feet, noticing that she was alone, none of her soldiers had made it.
The entrance to the gorge was blocked from all the rubble that had been thrown at her. She had narrowly escaped from her death, but what occupied her mind now was the sheer rage that coursed through her veins. Her perfect plan shot to Tartarus…but how? How had Camrynn known that Livia was going to attack her here? How had she…
"The attack the other night!!!" Livia's revelation, all her questions were now answered.
"The attack had been a ploy to distract me while someone got into my tent to steal my plans!" Fury, the only thing that existed in Livia's world, bubbled up in her throat.
Grinding her teeth, her words came slowly and in a hiss. "I will kill you, Camrynn. You and all of your men……..I'LL KILL THEM ALL! YOU AND ANYONE ELSE THAT STANDS IN ROME'S WAY. IN MY WAY!"
Far away, on the other side of the canyon, Camrynn stopped in her tracks. She turned her head up to the sky, closing her eyes. A sigh escaped her mouth as the sweet sound of Livia's anger echoed through the air. It was like music to her ears.
Unseen to anyone, Ares watched Livia stalk back to her tent pouting like a little girl. She could be so childish sometimes; it drove him up a wall.
Well, he could almost say that Livia deserved her loss today. She had been careless; he had seen Camrynn sneak into Livia's tent and was amazed that it went unnoticed. Livia should have known better than to leave her tent unguarded. It was like leaving a sign for anyone to enter uninvited.
Ever since he had transported himself here from Mount Olympus, he had been watching the events of this world. This was too perfect. Slightly different from his own world, but close enough to use to his advantage.
There was Livia: hell bent on stopping Camrynn from spreading the word of Eli. There was Camrynn: who had just out smarted Livia at her own game. Perfect timing for Ares to manipulate Livia as he wished. He was positive that he could get her to do his dirty work in his own world. Livia would never turn down a chance at killing her most hated rival, Camrynn.
Of course, not the Camrynn of this world, but the one that was destroying Ares world. It was a good possibility that the God that sent Camrynn to his world knew that it would cause destruction to Nature, Herself. If Ares brought another person from a different universe unnoticed, it would probably speed up the devastation, drawing that God out of hiding. That God would think that Camrynn was the sole source of all the problems and send her back, afraid that the damage was too great to continue Camrynn's presence there. It was more than likely that the God, who had brought the young warrior to Ares world, would have somewhat of an idea the rate of which the devastation would occur. However, time and space being as difficult to predict as they were, the God might think they miscalculated and realize it wasn't worth the risk any longer.
And another reason he had come here…to take Livia back to his dimension in a sick game of watching a battle between Livia and Camrynn. Maybe even have Livia kill Camrynn for sport. Okay, well that would just be a bonus. It wouldn't solve his problem, but hey…it would be entertaining to watch.
Sure, he could have killed Camrynn himself, but where was the fun in that? Who knows, if Camrynn were dead, then maybe the God that brought her to Ares' world would return her corpse back to her own home. There would be no reason for a dead woman to stay there, she would only continue to destroy Nature, and for what?
Then Ares could always send Livia back to her world once he was done with her. He could just imagine the amazement in her eyes when she sees that Camrynn was alive and well, not in a grave. That alone almost made him laugh out loud. Ahh, but how his plan was brilliant!
Plus, he hadn't had the thrill of a bloodthirsty warrior to pride himself on since Livia had run rampant a few years ago. He was eager to have that kind of power under his persuasion and will again.
This Livia would be perfect. Still young and easily persuaded. Ares knew that it wouldn't take much to talk her into an opportunity at taking Camrynn out. All he had to do was a little smooth talking.
"I know you're there Ares. Have you come to gloat?"
Appearing before her, he reminding himself that he would have to be careful with what he said. "Well, now that you mention it…" He couldn't let on that he wasn't who she thought he was.
"NO! I don't want to hear 'I told you so'. If that is all you came for then get out." Livia shrieked.
There it is, Ares thought. She's acting like a child. "Look, I am not here for that. I actually came her with a proposition for you."
"Really? What kind of proposition? Camrynn's head on a platter is all I am about to hear right now, Ares!"
"Well, I don't have her head, but I might have something better for you."
"What could you possibly have to offer me?" Livia slammed her hands onto her hips.
"How about a chance to once and for all kill Camrynn?"
Livia's eyes narrowed suspiciously at his words. What is he getting at? Intrigued, nonetheless, "Okay, I'll bite. How are ya gonna do that? I just had the perfect chance and it slipped through my fingers. You got a better idea?"
"Yeah, I do. That was your own fault, Livia. If you would listen to me every once in awhile instead of going off half cocked, then maybe you wouldn't have made a mockery of yourself today."
"SHUT UP! I didn't see you doing anything out there. You could have warned me a little better than just 'Camrynn is more intuitive than you give her credit for'."
Catching on, Ares realized that his alternate must have visited her prior to the battle. "I am not going to spoon feed you Livia, you should have been more careful."
"If you are here to preach to me, Ares, you can save your breath. LEAVE!"
"Not until you listen to my proposition. I have your perfect opportunity, if you want it."
Livia fumed, she didn't need Ares playing his little games right now. She wasn't in the mood. "Tell me or leave." She hissed.
"Fine. If you come with me, I will take you right to her front door, so to speak. And if you listen to me, you can defeat her."
"Is that it?"
"Yeah, that's it. I guarantee that you will be victorious."
Rolling it over in her mind for a few minutes, Livia searched for anything that could be a problem. Any loopholes that Ares was so famous for having in his so-called 'great ideas'. She didn't want to be too quick to take his word then find out later she owed him her soul or something.
"What's the catch?"
"No catch, just you and Camrynn, one on one. It will be a fair setting, neither of you with an advantage. And, uh no boulders." Ares chuckled silently to himself.
She was so untrusting. It was his own fault, he had taught her that. He guessed she included him on that one. So what if he had a hidden agenda.
"Funny." She smirked, irritated by his presence now.
Livia thought about it again. Ares wouldn't offer her this chance unless he wanted something. However, this could work to her advantage as well. She had Ares telling her that he would set it all up for her. Her and Camrynn under decent conditions. How could she lose?
"All right, Ares. What do I have to do?"
Stepping closer to her, Ares held out his hand. "Just take a hold, my dear."
Reaching out, Livia grasped his hand with her own, a smile splitting her lips. "Let's go."
Together, they disappeared.
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