THE SHADOWS OF DESPAIR
Itzli watched as the green eyed girl was tied down to the stone alter. Both of her hands were braced with rope so she couldn’t move them. He smirked as he leaned on her quarter staff. Tlaloc took a step forward he slowly eased the sacrificial blade free handing it to the priest who had pulled down his feathered head dress further down.
Itzli grinned as he watched the priest take a slow step forward he leaned over easing one of the woman’s eyes open again. He watched as the priest leaned over. “You see eyes as green as any forest and hair like the sun.” The priest put a hand on his chin, he watched as the dancers close by carried on moving as the drums pounded. “She’s a wonderful prize.”
He moved his fingers through the sun coloured hair. “Where did you find her?” Tlaloc stepped forward. “She was near one of Quetzalcoatl’s old temples.” He looked down at the temple which he was at the top of. It was in truth an old temple and only used for sacrificing, these lesser temples were littered all across the land they were small compared to their huge counterparts in the city areas.
The priest looked up listening as the drums got louder he looked at his dagger as he smiled. “Such beauty is worthy of Huitzilopochtli.” He looked at the motionless green eye as he took a step closer raising the dagger listening to the primal drums as the stopped all at once along with the dancers. Who pulled back slowly as the first rays of sunlight appeared cutting through the darkness of the jungle.
He smiled watching as the two eagle warriors stepped back. “Huitzilopochtli god of the sunlight I give you this sacrifice! This sacrifice whose hair is the same colour as your sun and whose eyes are as green as the leaves of the trees!” He turned looking at the temple behind him with its multicoloured painting off the sun god before slowly turning back. “Let her heart give you life!”
He raised the stone carved dagger slowly only to stop as he watched the girls open eyes pupil suddenly dilated as life swept back in to it. Her other green eye suddenly snapped open. Gabrielle breathed in painfully feeling her lungs burn as the air moved through them. She blinked watching as the world slowly came back in to focus.
She felt like she wanted to be sick, her muscles all ached painfully like she had been run over by a chariot. What had just happened? She’d been in the jungle looking at the one of the temples and then she’d met two the people. They were the first people she’d seen in months of traipsing through the unforgiving and cruel jungle.
She’d wanted so desperately to talk to someone since it felt like she’d forgotten the sound of her own voice ever since she’d entered these lands. All could feel was even more lonely and depressed. The only thing that had kept her going, was knowing that C’thulon was here in these lands and that she could find him.
She had given them some of her food and they’d given her a drink…she found herself stopping as she realized she was lying on her back on something cold it felt like stone. She snapped out her thoughts all at once as she watched as some kind of caved weapon coming towards her it was being held by a man dressed in odd looking robes.
She pulled feeling the sudden panic take over as she realized that her wrists had been bound. She moved her legs feeling that they hadn’t been tied. She snarled aloud ignoring the surprise on the man’s face as she brought up her leg full force slamming it in to his mid section. She watched the dagger fly through the air as the man slammed in to the wall.
Itzli roared in anger as he pulled his weapon free from its leather strapping. He could see the priest breathing in painfully trying to get the air back in to his lungs. His gaze drifted as he watched as the sacrificial dagger hit the floor hard he raised his weapon higher as he came forward. No woman was going to defy the sun god!
Gabrielle yanked hard trying to free the binding her gaze moved as she caught sight of one of the men who’d she’d been speaking to earlier in her camp. She could feel the rage burning in her stomach he was the one who had given the drink. She ignored the chaos as she yanked harder on the binding feeling the one on the right come free.
She didn’t think as she slammed her boot directly in to his face ignoring his cry of pain as she twisted her wrist harder ignoring the cutting of rope against her wrists and the blood as it flowed free. She cried out painfully as she pulled her right hand free she turned avoiding the weapon of the other man as it hit the alter, causing sparks to fly.
She could feel her breath quickening as she pulled her sai blade free from her boot she twirled it as she brought it back slamming the hilt in to his face. She ignored his painful cry as she brought it up slicing through the rope on the other hand which fell free. She didn’t think as she threw herself off the stone alter.
She felt herself slow for a painful moment in which the world around her suddenly blurred. She could feel the blood pounding in her ears as she grabbed the alter trying to steady herself. Her gaze moved upward but it was to late for her to move as the first man ran at her his anger showing as raised his weapon again, the next moments turned to pain as his body smashed in to hers.
The world seemed to fly past her as her feet felt the ground, the warriors face turned to panic as he realised that he was about to loose his footing. Itzli eyes widened in horror as he lost his footing the next moments turned to pain as they both tumbled downward wrapped together as they slammed in to step after step.
He could feel blood pouring down his chin and his arm as he hit the stone he had to get her free from him! She was using her weight to slam him in to the steps while shielding her self using his body. The temples wasn’t big at all it was very small but it didn’t matter the pain was enough to cause him to grit his teeth.
He suddenly felt the solid earth as he slammed in to it he watched as she was thrown off. He snarled aloud his anger rising as he ignored the pain getting to his knees he grabbed her leg pulling her towards him. No woman was going to get away from him! He could feel a stinging pain in his other arm something was broken he could feel it. He could see that she was bleeding as well from both her lower leg and her shoulder.
He ignored her struggling as he grabbed her by the throat slamming her down back first as he straddled her fully. He grabbed his fallen weapon pulling it up height ignoring the pain it took. “I’m going to cut you up and send you to hell!” The next moments turned to agony as her three point weapon shot up slicing him across the face, he found himself screaming in pain as he pulled back.
Gabrielle didn’t think as she brought up her fist slamming it directly in to the warriors face before he could recover. “Go to Tarturus you bastard!” She could see where the points of her weapon had made bleeding marks across his face which looked more like claws marks. She kicked him hard feeling him fall back giving her the freedom she needed.
Her lungs were burning she turned breaking in to a run not caring what direction she took. She felt her boots as they hit the ground, she could feel her anger and hate starting to boil up the moment it hit home it made her breathing quicken. She could already hear men behind her. She ignored the pain of her wounds as she ran in to the jungle.
Gabrielle felt her eyes snap open she pulled herself in to a sitting position as the nightmare of the past she’d been having dimmed. Her body felt tense all over and she could feel her heart pounding in her ears. She could even feel her damp fridge which huge down over her eyes. She breathed in deeply and painfully as she realized that she back in bed in Xena’s room.
She turned slightly as she felt another presence in the room she slowly met her lovers concerned light blue gaze. She looked down realizing for the first time that Xena had her arm around her waist. She felt her stomach twist horribly causing to lie down again instantly before she could think of anything to say. Xena sat up slightly moving closer to the younger woman.
She had woken up some time ago back in her room she could vividly remember passing out. There was no doubt in her mind that some one had brought her back to her mother’s tavern. When she’d woken up she really hadn’t felt well and had, had lie down again. The moment she had seen Gabrielle lying next to her, she had realized that something must have happened to her as well.
She had just lain there be her side liking the peace and quite which she needed because her head had been pounding like an Amazon drum. Her muscles all felt weak and strained which made her want the quite even more. A few moments ago though something had happened to break the silence, her lovers had gone in to the throws of a nightmare.
Her lover had come out of it all too suddenly and now she was lying down again because the same fatigue had struck her. Gabrielle breathed in waiting for the spinning in her head to stop she looked up watching as her lovers face came in to view. “I’m sorry…” Xena raised an eyebrow she moved her hand gently to her lovers face stroking her damp fridge. “Its okay sweetheart just lie back you need to rest.”
Gabrielle breathed in painfully trying to sit up again. “I need to go…” Xena gently pushed her back down. “You don’t need to go anywhere right now. You have to rest.” Gabrielle blinked trying to stay focused as she met her lovers gaze. “I have to put it right…” Xena slowly eased up her hand running it across her cheek her lover didn’t seem to be all there.
The blonde woman was struggling to stay focused while trying to say how she felt. “You have to go back to sleep first you need your rest.” She watched as her lover gave in her eyes closing slowly as she fell back to sleep. She breathed easing herself closer to her. They could talk about hat had happened later right now they both needed to rest.
She breathed in feeling her body give in as she closed her eyes she could feel her strength draining away again. What in Tarturus had happened to them both? She had a feeling that what ever it was Aphrodite would have the answers. She breathed in blinking as she tried to keep her eyes open only to breathe out deeply as they closed and darkness took over.
Xena opened her eyes slowly she closed them instantly as the rays of morning sunlight hit her gaze. She’d been out for hours or so it seemed, she turned slightly seeing that her lover was still lying beside her fast asleep. She leaned over running a hand through the long blonde hair, in a gentle motion. She heard the younger woman murmur something but she couldn’t make it out.
She breathed in feeling the morning air move through her lungs she found herself turning slowly as she felt another presence in the room. It wasn’t Ares that she was sure of but it made her senses tingle though not in a bad way. She ran a hand through her hair as she pulled herself in to a sitting position. “Aphrodite?” She watched as the goddess of love appeared in blast of white and pink light which caused rose petals to fall all around her.
The goddess was dressed in her long white and pink flowing robe with its patterned bodice underneath her curly blonde hair flowed as she turned looking around her. Her white sandaled feet shuffled nervously on her bedrooms floor. Aphrodite smiled slightly. “Hi.” Xena slowly met the goddess’s sea blue gaze. “Were you spying on us Aphrodite?”
Aphrodite looked down slightly watching as the Warrior Princess adjusted her leather bodice. “Kinda…” She stopped as what had been truly bothering her hit home. “I wanted to see if you were both okay…Ares was toying with your life threads…I wanted to check that your connection hadn’t been severed.” Xena narrowed her gaze. “So this was Ares’s doing?”
Aphrodite nodded as she stepped forward. “Ares was trying to force out Gabrielle’s memories from the other time line.” She lowered her gaze. “He saw quite a few before we stopped him.” Xena leaned forward as she rubbed her face. “So that was the reason we both collapsed?” Aphrodite turned slightly. “Yes if we hadn’t stopped him you would have both died as it was damaging your life threads.”
Xena sighed aloud. “Why was he doing this in the first place?” Aphrodite looked at Gabrielle for a moment. “He found out of about C’thulon and Mexica Quetzalcoatl told him.” She eased up both her hands. “He might even be crazy enough to follow you both to Mexica.” Xena put both hands together. “Well we can handle Ares.”
Aphrodite sighed aloud. “Yes you can handle Ares but you have no idea how to handle the god and goddess’s of Mexica.” Xena raised an eyebrow. “There just god’s like any other.” Aphrodite came forward slowly. “They aren’t just gods they were the first gods, no gods before them were like them and no gods like them have come after.”
She breathed in sharply. “They are the most brutal and violent gods you will ever come across. They relish death and destruction in a way that would shock even you.” Xena shrugged slightly. “They sound like the Titans.” Aphrodite turned slightly. “The Titans had morals these gods no nothing of morals or mercy believe me.”
She took a slow step back. “I know I can’t stop you but I’m begging you not to face those gods the way you have other gods.” Xena stood up slowly. “Why not?” Aphrodite turned slightly. “Because you will end up dead...” She breathed in deeply as she eyed the other woman who was still sleeping. “Your death will break her heart and her soul all over again.”
Xena blinked in surprise as she watched the goddess disappear in a shower of rose petals. She stood there for a long moment before moving towards Gabrielle whose eyes slowly opened. The young woman groaned as she put a hand on her face trying to rub the sleep out of her eyes. Xena slowly moved forward she gently sat herself down on the bed next to her. “How are feeling?”
Gabrielle rubbed her eyes. “I’m fine it’s just the sun it’s in my eyes.” Xena eyed the blinds which were still open. She breathed in deeply trying to work out her next words. Gabrielle lowered her gaze. “I’m so sorry.” Xena turned slowly meeting her lovers green gaze. She sighed as she shook her head. “No I’m sorry I shouldn’t have shouted at you like that.”
She eased her hand out taking the younger woman’s. “What ever you’ve done I’m sure we can both fix it.” Gabrielle looked up slightly. “You shouldn’t come with me.” Xena moved a little closer to her. “I’m going with you Gabrielle I’m not letting you do this on your own.” Gabrielle put a hand through her hair in frustration. “Please listen to me, you’ll be a target for all my enemies there…”
Xena blinked as she pulled back. “Gabrielle I’m the Warrior Princess I’ll be fine.” Gabrielle took a deep breath. “I love you I don’t want you to get killed!” Xena slowly put both hands on the younger woman’s arms. “I will not die I promise you that Gabrielle.” Gabrielle sneered slightly. “You promised that before and you didn’t stick to that promise.”
Xena’s gaze darted for a moment as she saw the intense pain in her lover’s eyes. “I would never do that to you again Gabrielle.” She eased up her hand running it through the long blonde hair. “I paid the price for my stupidity you know that, I told you all about what Akemi did to me.” She looked deeper in the green eyes not wanting to break away. “You saved me and now I’m going to save you.”
Xena breathed in deeply. “Let me help you put all this right.” Gabrielle lowered her gaze trying to hold her tears back. She looked up slightly meeting her lovers gaze. “We need to go toPotidaeaI have something very important there that I need to pick up.” Xena breathed in deeply. “Then we’ll go there and pick it up, okay?”
Gabrielle nodded slightly trying to keep her emotions from breaking through she knew there was no point in arguing with her lover over this they’d just have to see this through together. Xena felt Gabrielle wrap her arms around her she pulled the younger woman against her she smiled as she nuzzled the blonde hair slightly. “I’ll go and tell mother our plans.”
Ares snarled as he pushed more scrolls aside, he hated looking through the history of Olympus it was boring and tedious. He shifted another scroll to one side Athena loved this Library she spent most of her time here but he’d never cared for it. He grabbed the old book near by slamming it down hard his gaze darted as he shifted through the pages.
“How dare you touch the fates loom!”
Ares stopped still he turned slowly meeting Zeus’s gaze the king of the gods eyes narrowed as he turned away ignoring him. “What can I say, I was curious since you seem to know so little about your own timeline?” Zeus put a hand on his beard. “So you thought you’d take it up on yourself to nearly destroy one of my soul mate threads just to satisfy your curiosity!?”
Ares looked up as he carried on moving thought the books old pages. “Please it wasn’t a very important thread.” Zeus narrowed his gaze. “Don’t try and be clever with me I know actuality which thread you were playing with. You’re also forbidden to do or did that slip your mind!” Ares turned the page watching as an image of the god C’thulon appeared.
He grabbed the book turning it so Zeus could see it. “I know about C’thulon! I know he’s real and I know that you’re lying when you say you know nothing about this altered time line.” He sneered as he raised the book higher. “You are king of the gods, after all…” Zeus put a ringed finger to his beard. “You truly believe that I know nothing about the altered timeline don’t you?”
Ares put a hand on his chest. “Well yeah.” Zeus raised an eyebrow. “I know all about it.” He stepped forward slowly. “I remember my own death by Hercules hand, and watching every one of my family fall during the twilight.” Ares threw the book on the table full force. “Then you know what C’thulon did don’t you? You’ve seen it haven’t you?”
Zeus looked up slightly. “Yes I have but unlike you I didn’t try to destroy a soul mate thread to find out about it.” Ares took a slow step forward. “If you knew all this then why haven’t you told the other gods?” Zeus came forward slowly. “Because the other gods don’t need to know such things! Because the knowledge of knowing is dangerous, as you’re proving right now.”
Ares pulled back. “C’thulon exists doesn’t that bother you?” Zeus took another step forward. “You might have looked at elaborate images and read books but you do not understand anything about C’thulon. You do not understand what toying with him means.” He grabbed his son’s leather shirt pulling him forward harshly.
He breathed in deeply. “The Titans overthrew C’thulon centuries ago it took all of there power and more to stand up to him. They had to even enlist the help of the Egyptian gods to help banish him back to the place of his birth where his children, the savage Aztec gods reign supreme in their brutal and violent regions.”
He leaned forward. “If C’thulon where to rise up against us we would not be able to stop him and believe me when I say you don’t want his children here on these shores.” He narrowed his gaze. “You were not born when the feathered serpent first came to Greece looking to conquer us. You did not see the terror he caused and that it took all of our family to drive him off and he is one god alone.”
He pulled back slightly. “The battle withQuetzalcoatl was also our greatest failing in our most panicked moment when nearly all was lost we enlisted another gods help. We released this demon god from hell itself on to this world a demon that you yourself tried to side with not so long ago.” Ares narrowed his gaze. “Dahak.”
Zeus breathed in sharply. “Yes and we had terrible trouble imprisoning him again afterwards, he was the only god who could take on the feathered serpent in battle and he succeeded where we failed.” He leaned closer. “The family of Aztec gods that reigns supreme in Mexica are not to be looked upon lightly they could destroy us all and there power is nothing compared to C’thulon’s.”
Ares pulled away from his grip. “So that’s why you sent me to meet Quetzalcoatl, because you were too much of a coward to face him yourself.” Zeus snarled aloud. “I sent you because you are the face of war and Quetzalcoatl respects war, it’s something he understands and embraces. Because of that you were the perfect god to send to talk to him.”
Ares sneered in disgust. “Oh so I was finally useful for something.” Zeus turned sharply his long white hair flowing. “If you decide to go to the lands of Mexica like Aphrodite has stated you will, know this.” He breathed as he turned around slightly. “You may die or even loose your god hood and no one in this family will be able to save you if that happens.”
Ares laughed slightly it was a cold and dark laugh which caused his father to freeze in mid motion. “You save me oh I’m so flattered but since when have you ever saved me?” He put a hand on his chest. “Don’t mock me with your savour talk, I find it insulting.” Zeus snarled as he turned sharply. “C’thulon will not do anything you wish ether, he will kill you where stand as soon as you make your request.”
He breathed in sharply. “Because that’s why you want to find him isn’t it? So you change this world to suit your self?” Ares laughed slightly. “Well if I die like you say then you won’t have anything to fear from me changing this world by request of C’thulon will you?” Zeus narrowed his gaze as he walked towards the libraries doors.
He turned slowly feeling his body relax. “I hope you come face to face with Huitzilopochtli when you’re in the lands of Mexica because then you do will learn what true war is and how truly powerless you are.” Ares smirked slightly as he watched Zeus leave closing the doors slowly behind him. He’d always believed that the king of the gods was cowardly and now he had finally seen this cowardice in all its glory.
'To be continued in part 7
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