Armageddon Vengeance of the Destroyer Part II

Chapter 13

Chapter 13

“What tidings Crassus?”

“Caesar, the rebellion in Gaul has been crushed.” Crassus moved to serve himself wine, from the tray Salmoneus was holding, taking time to pour the red liquid slowly.

“And?” Julius stated in annoyance.

“Our losses were negligible Caesar. The rebels were well armed, but they were no match for trained Roman troops. “I have no reliable numbers on those killed, but I would surmise it runs into the hundreds of thousands. The spoil from the villages we burned, has been sent to Rome, along with 160,000 slaves.”

“Good, I can put some of them to use on the Circus Maximus and the rest of the slaves we shall sell to farmers…” Julius’ head quirked to the side slightly as he thought, “They can use them for labor to increase the food supply next spring. The Senate will like that.”

“We took all the food we could find, destroyed what we could not carry. The Gaul’s will starve by the thousands before the winter is done.” The old general said without emotion.

“That is their reward for rebellion Crassus.”

Sulla?” asked Julius.

“He is on his way here from Britannia Caesar; his men will arrive within a fortnight. I’m told…” Crassus took a sip of wine. “Thousands of rebels in Britannia have been executed, and like the Gallic people, the Angles, Jutes, and Saxons now starve. Sulla allowed his men to violate the women; some of these women choosing suicide after many repeated… incidents.

“They are worthless anyway. Perhaps next time they will know their place and not encourage the men to rebel against Rome.”

Caesar was silent for some moments before he spoke. “You have done well Crassus; I thank you for your service, as does Rome. Antonius betrayed me, yet you my old friend, you; I can count to stand with me. The sentiment expressed by Julius was a lie of course, he trusted no one.

The old general preened. Even after all these years praise from Julius still cheered him.

“When I am emperor, I shall remember your loyal service in the disposing of new dignities.”

“I am honored to serve, that is enough.”

“As we all are honored to serve. Crassus, duty to Rome comes first of course.” Caesar’s tone held much cynicism, “but gold, land, and power do help ease the many burdens of life.”

“All true Caesar.” Crassus smiled.

“Perhaps after I rule the known world, you would consider being Governor of Greece?” Caesar asked, “Palace in Athens, servants and slaves galore,” Julius hand rose to clasp Crassus shoulder, beautiful courtiers surrounding you.” He added suggestively.

“I am married Caesar.”

“As am I Crassus, to Calphurnia, but that didn’t stop me with the beautiful Portia or any of the others.” Julius added, “Rome is so very far away, and opportunities are so very plentiful. You of course, know this having much success on the field of battle and… off.

“Caesar My skills are not matched to the grade of female you attain.” Crassus demurred humbly. I’m more successful with mere waiting women.”

“Oh now, come man. Don’t be modest.” Julius laughed. “I’ve followed your spoor so close there was scarce time to close the window you left by or for you to change perfumes to put me off the scent.”

“Ah, but you have had Queens of Egypt and raven haired barbarians of Greece.” Crassus pointed out. “Tell me, of your lure Caesar.”

Caesar finished his wine in one drought; Salmoneus refilled it, and then moved to Crassus to do the same.

“If you truly want her, make her believe that you are potent only with her. Pretend that you’ve tried with others. Gone to bed, kissed hotly, but hung embarrassed and unable...” Julius’ tone dropped low becoming melancholy.

“But with her you rouse up. You’re a man again. His voice now changed inflection, from sad to bright, “They can’t resist that.

“They open like...” Caesar waved his hand facetiously “Never mind the simile.” He added causing Crassus to laugh.

“Dare I ask, Caesar, have you ever been refused by a wench?

“Who? I? Refused? Never! When I’ve wanted them, I’ve had them.

Across the world, I’ve had them, to include as you mentioned, a certain dark haired Greek wench.”

Both laughed.

A clearing of the throat by Salmoneus caused both to fall silent, or rather the haggard messenger standing behind him did.

A missive was offered, taken by Salmoneus, and then delivered to Caesar.

Breaking the wax seal, fingers worked the parchment open, eyes scanning its contents. As the moments passed, Crassus noticed lines of anger deepening of Caesars’ face.

“Ye gods! Why couldn’t that Greek bitch have died on the cross!

Crassus had heard that particular lament, many a time.

Julius motioned the parchment be delivered to Crassus as he buried his head in hands.

After some moments Caesar looked up in exasperation, “Why!? Why does this happen to me?! Damn that woman! Damn her to the lowest reaches of the underworld!”

“You do not know it was Xena, Caesar. The missive only said—“

“I know what the missive said!” Both Caesar’s fists rose. “I do not have to know Crassus! Her fingerprints are all over this act!”

“Xena, you… beautiful… conniving… Futuo! I will tame you yet, shew!” Caesar screamed the insults so loudly, Crassus was sure most of the known world heard it.

Julius fell silent for some time, working to compose himself.

“I lost men with Antonius.” Caesar’s tone was quiet, but edgy as he grappled to control the anger within. “I could accept that, knowing Octavian would put things right…” Julius stood then hunched over his desk as he spoke, arms outstretched, palms flat on the desktop.

Without looking up at his general, Caesar shook his head. “Antonius had 36,000 men; some killed fighting the Persians, the rest lost in the sea battle with Octavian.

“I send Octavian to corral Antonius, and what does he do? Julius asked the question without looking to Crassus, not expecting an answer. “Octavian of his own volition lands in Alexandria and now part of Rome’s fleet is destroyed in addition to the 20,000 men I gave him!” Caesar’s palms slammed against the desktop.

“You did always tell him to seize the day, Caesar.”

“There is a difference between taking the initiative and taking a foolish gamble!” Julius straightened, taking a long drought of the wine Salmoneus had served him. For long moments he worked to rein back his temper. Holding the chalice out, he allowed himself to be served more wine.

“How will we recover from so many setbacks, the loss of so many men?”

“We’ve faced many challenges before this Caesar.”

“Quite right, we will prevail in the end, just as we always have.” Julius took heart from Crassus’ words. “Live as brave men and if fortune is adverse, front its blows with brave hearts.”

“Cicero.” Crassus guessed the quote.


Julius moved to be seated behind his desk, Crassus took a chair opposite.

We have been reacting to Xena’s moves; we must force her to react to us.”

“I would agree, Caesar”

“We are stretched thin, Crassus. The fleet from Britannia will have to be pressed into service ferrying my army to Carthage.”

“Caesar, Crassus put down his wine. “I beg you to reconsider, think of what you do.” He stated forcefully. “You move troops to Carthage now and Xena may attack west. We have precious few resources in Italia to stop her. And what will happen to our men in Britannia? They will lose their means of supply without the fleet.”

“Dagnine tells us she turns east to fight barbarian Germans.”

“True Caesar, but--”

“Therefore she doesn’t threaten Italia.”

“Not as of yet, Caesar, she could change her mind, women are prone to do that from time to time.”

Julius was not impressed by Crassus’ wisecrack.

“What we need is a way to lull her into a sense of false security.” Julius continued. “The way to do that is to attack Carthage.”

“Caesar, hear me.”

“Listen Crassus,” Julius said slowly “entertain the idea first, don’t reject it outright. Remember what Aristotle once said, the mark of an educated mind is to entertain an idea without dismissing it.”

“Without accepting it, Is actually what he said.”

“I like my version better.”

As expected, thought Crassus.

“We need a bold stroke that will make the Senate happy and then we will have the support to depose Xena. I propose we sail to Carthage as planned, they will offer little resistance. After we destroy them we move this army directly to Greece by ship. We land, and take Greece once and for all.”

“Dicey, Caesar, Xena may well be lying in wait for us and amphibious operations are always tricky. Plus, the Greek navy is on the mend, it could prove formidable, especially now due to our weakened sea power.”

“Oh general, you do not give me enough credit, I have made sure, that Xena’s turn to the east will end in her destruction.”

“How?” Crassus huffed, “The Germans? They—“

“Besides ours and Egypt’s, whose fleet was also at Alexandria?”

As realization hit Crassus, Julius grinned.

“My spies in Egypt tell me Xerxes is calling forth every reserve in his Empire. He amasses armies of such scale that he will surely destroy Xena. I shall be rid of her once and for all! My only regret is that I will not be the one to finish her.”

The flame of the taper nipped at the parchment written by Salmoneus, where it touched black streaks appeared. Finally she allowed the fire to consume it.

“Caesar, I will finish you.” Icy silver eyes drifted upward, looking pensively off into the distance. A sneer marred her beautiful features. “I will finish you!”

Her timetable would have to be sped up; Roman troops had already succeeded in putting down the rebellions in Gaul and Britannia. Carthage could not hold forever against a Roman siege, and then Caesar planned to invade Greece.

Xena stood, dressed in black leathers, overlaid with swirling armor of bronze, her cloak of dark indigo lined with white fur draping down to her boots.

Walking to the tent flaps, Xena turned appraising the boy. “You shall see your brother this day.”

The kid shrugged.

Though he be but little, he be fierce. She thought. Kodi was stubborn in his opposition the actions of Sevastian.

“I’ve told you before boy, you must speak to him.”

Kodi said nothing, didn’t have to, his look told her he was not planning to do any such thing.

“C’ere.” She beckoned; Kodi doing as he was bid.

One of her hands fell upon his shoulder, pulling the boy next to her leg. Looking up, anything Kodi thought to say was forgotten when his eyes met hers.

“I had a family once, would you believe that?”

The kid’s expression became one of marked skepticism.

“I did not spring for the depths of the Styx.”

“I had a brother, which I loved as the dessert loves the rain. The other I…, she looked up and away from him a moment. “My other brother I never… well… we never saw eye to eye.”

“Few see eye to eye with you Xena.”

His words pulled her from remorseful thought and she looked down at him, a smile upon dark lips.

“My point is I lost one brother, the other I speak to rarely, if ever. The first circumstance you cannot help, Kodi, Celesta decides when our time ends. The latter you do control. Speak to Sevastian, not in anger, but as a brother. Speak to him, before the rift between you widens to an unappeasable canyon. Spend time within him, like I wish I could have spent more time with…” Xena’s voice trailed off and the boy looked to see her swallow hard.

“To your duties,” she abruptly stepped from the tent.

For at least a seven day he had slept out of doors, one does get tired of lying on the cold hard ground after a while. Even when he wandered aimlessly, a day’s work for a farmer usually led to a night spent in the relative comfort of a barn. No such offer from the Amazon’s, but then again, who was he to question their time honored traditions? What did Meleager say often? Sevastain thought a moment trying to recall… Each man to hades his own way was Meleager’s mantra. There was truth in those words. Opening his eyes, he noted the pre-dawn light coloring the sky Sevastian’s thoughts turned to pondering his, and the Amazons return to the army this day. He rolled over...

He scrambled out of his sleeping furs.

“Siri!” he yelped, startled by bumping into her, she being swaddled in her own furs next to him.

The Amazon opened one eye, the orb rotating till it found him.

“You sleep soundly Lord Commander.” She said flatly.

Gazing across the field, he sighed, seeing 250 Amazon’s camped out in similar fashion. For nights it had been like this, he falling asleep alone, the next morn surrounded by Amazon’s. The warriors were stealthier than ninjas!

“Siri…” one Sevastain’s arms rose, hand moving to rub the sleep from his eyes before it dropped away. “While I appreciate the feeling behind this gesture—“

“It is not right to send you here!” she countered fiercely, “To camp like some squatter!” “The Queen and elders of the tribe are wrong to have an ally of the nation—“

“Be that as it may, our lot is service, we do not question orders we follow them.”

“When I believe the order is wrong, I will question and I will act just as these here,” her hand swept over the Amazons before them. Siri moved to stand and Sevastian averted his eyes immediately then whirled about so his back was to her. Amazons wore precious little when fully dressed. When sleeping they wore... well, they wore far less.

Some moments passed, which gave him a moment to rub the blush from his face at seeing her…

“I am, what is it you men call it?” she asked from behind.

“Decent?” he offered.

“Yes, I am decent.”

He turned; she was dressed in typical Amazon garb, leathers and fur which left little to the imagination. Not that he had to use his after just seeing her…

“How do you avoid catching your death of cold being dressed like—“

Her left eyebrow quirked up at his question which silenced him, Xena had a tendency to do that as well. Women were such an enigma; one never knew what they were thinking. Truthfully, he had given up trying.

“Work generates a certain amount of heat.”

“I see,” he stated unconvinced. “Very well, round up your--”


“Right,” he nodded, “sisters and go have breakfast, we continue training today.”

“You will not come with?”

After eying her for a moment, he walked to the fire to poke at the embers, before tossing a few small logs on.

“I am hated by many in your camp; especially that raging female woman. It is best Siri that I do not appear with you. You are already too closely associated with me as it is, I do not want to see you hated by your own people because of me.”

“That is not your decision to make, I will do as I see fit.”

“You know, I am your commander.”

“True, you are very much in charge.” she replied with a grin.

He moved to bank the fire, and then placed some snow in two battered metal cups near the flames so they could both at least have some hot tea.

Siri stood near, silently watching him. The eastern food Sevastian enjoyed, the traditions he followed, the manners he displayed, all were intoxicating to her in their stark contrast to the boorish, useless men of Greece. Here he was completing a most mundane task in making tea, but his movements were precise, his manner one of patient reverence.

“You, ah…” he looked up. “You gonna tie me up and carry me there?”

Her hands balled into fists, then moved to rest on her hips.

“Do I need to?” she challenged.

Sevastian scowled, and then looked back down while shaking his head. His action caused Siri to laugh.

A lone figure appeared out of the fog.

In the silence she looked about, and then having gained her bearings, stealthy strode to a particular hut.

“My Queen, this is a perfect opportunity!”

Ephiny let out a sigh; it was too early for this, especially after the revelry of the Kharisteria festival over the last three cycles. By Artemis! Helios was still hidden, night still reigned.

“We act and with one stoke we can smite not only the top commander of Grecian army, but finally have our revenge by killing Xena!”

“Bremusa, must I tell you again, aside from breaking an oath--”

“You swore that oath under duress!”

“I swore it to save our nation!” Ephiny yelled, tired of the constant pressure from the elder.

“Do you know what is out there?” Hmmm?” Ephiny looked on as the woman in front of her frowned, but remained silent waiting to hear.

“Right now, our little nation, all that is left of the many tribes, is surrounded by Xena’s army. Our scouts report numerous cook fires, each surrounded by fifty men. It is an unassailable force.”

“But if we strike, all unity between her men will dissipate!”

“If we strike, if we succeed, as you hope, her commanders may squabble over leadership in the future, but those men in her armies will stay united long enough to destroy our nation in revenge for her death.”

“So say you, I do not agree.”

“If you and the other hotheads act Bremusa, you’ll gather enormous forces again us. We have just begun to rebuild. I remind you that Xena has done much for our nation not the least of which is having the weight of law protecting us for the first time in Greek history. Do not let the pride which brought down Melosa bring the remnants of our people down as well.”

“Can you not see what is happening? Look around you! Right this moment, Amazons are standing in solidarity with a man!”

“Her second,” Ephiny muttered, while straightening her fur robe as she sat in her chair.

“Yes her second!”

“Are they not allowed to express their opinions with action? Are Amazons unthinking brutes, only meant to take orders?”

“They show loyalty to a man!”

“Perhaps it is because he has earned it! You and the others Bremusa, you long for a past which will never return. You must accept change, as it is the only constant in this world.”

Even in the low light of the hut, Ephiny could see the fire in the elders eyes ignite. Those same eyes drifted down to where her dagger was attached to her hip.

“I am unarmed; strike if you feel brave.” Ephiny, though appearing casual, readied herself for a fight.

“Oh, I can’t allow that...” a low velvety voice rose from behind.

Bremusa drew her dagger whirling in place to face a dark figure sitting nonchalantly in a chair on the far side of the hut. Both Amazons watched as the figure leaned forward, silvery blue eyes sparkling in the muted light of the rising sun, which filtered in from the window.

Flipping her dagger into the air, Bremusa caught it by the blade, and then threw it full force at the Destroyer.

The dagger never reached its target having been caught with ease.

“Not very sporting, Amazon,” Xena smiled cold, “I’m gonna take this dagger and drive it through your heart.”

Before the woman could act, the blade was thrown and buried in her chest. The Amazon elder first tumbled to her knees, and then collapsed to earthen floor of the hut, dead.

“What is it with you Amazons anyway?” Xena asked quite casual while crossing her long legs femininely, “Always bickering.”

Ephiny’s eyes flicked up from the dead elder.

“You just killed a member of the high council!” she yelled.

“Looks to me like I solved a problem,” Xena replied calmly, while shifting to a more comfortable position in the small chair. “If an injury must be done, it should be so severe that vengeance should not be feared. She would have continued to be a problem if I had let her live.”

“Artemis help me!” Ephiny moaned. “People say every-time you are around someone dies, I daresay I’m starting to believe they are correct.”

Xena feigned wide eyed innocence.


The door to the hut opened, and for just an instant Xena wondered if Ephiny was stupid enough to try and have her taken prisoner.

“She attacked me,” the Queen stated direct. “Take her body from my sight!”

The two Amazons strode into the room, stopping to gawk in awed silence at the sight of the Destroyer of Nations.

“The body is there,” Xena prompted while pointing.

Bremusa was unceremoniously dragged from the hut, the guards closing the door behind them.

“This will set off a firestorm.”

“Doubt it.” Xena was dismissive, “You’ve already defeated three challengers to your throne; one more death won’t even cause a ripple.

“How do you know so much about us?”

“I have my sources.”

“So it would seem.”

“Why do you have a council anyway? Asked Xena. “It’s nothing more than a breeding ground for plots and other machinations.”

“I am trying to unite Amazons from far and wide; we must learn to work together. The best way to do that is to give an outlet for input, that outlet is the council of elders.”

“Kill them all and rule completely.” Xena advised. “One will always prevails anyway.”

“The best fortress I can possess as Queen is the affection of my people. Affection is not gained by killing rivals.”

“Fear keeps people in line.”

“It would appear we hold a difference of opinion.” Ephiny smiled wanly

Silence between the two.

“How’d you get into our village and this hut without…” Ephiny stopped speaking momentarily upon seeing the amused look on Xena’s face. “Many skills, yes I remember.”

“Your second is alive and well.” Ephiny stated after some time.

“This despite his sleeping in the elements, as you refused to give him even basic shelter.”

“It is not our way.”

Xena said nothing, only moving to shift her legs by uncrossing them

“You are here for a reason, what is it you want of my people?” Ephiny stated direct.


“Have we not already given what we can?”

“You have now, many more which can serve Greece.”

“They are our means of protection.” Ephiny leaned forward while making her point.

“If Caesar defeats me, they will do little to stop Roman Armies when they march into Greece.”

The Amazonian Queen looked on warily as Xena stood and slowly moved closer. She tried to appear nonchalant, but Xena was not being fooled. Ephiny tensed up, as the Conqueror leaned over, feeling the hands of the Empress moving to rest themselves upon her arms to pinning them down against the chair. Ephiny swallowed hard as gorgeous blue eyes moved to a position mere inches from her own.

“Listen Amazon; hear about the gifts that I intend to shower upon your people, gifts which could prove of great value in sustaining your nation.”

“Those are?” Ephiny whispered, unable to find her voice, so lost was she in the contemplation of the depths within Xena’s eyes.

“I give you back the sanctuary dedicated to Artemis at Brauron, the temple rebuilt; the sacred spring flowing once more.”

“You would give us that?”

Xena nodded slowly, “For the service of your warriors.”

“Not only that, my... lovely... Amazon.” Ephiny held her breath feeling the back of Xena’s fingers slowly tracing along her lower jaw, before moving up to run through her curly blond hair. “If your warriors fight with me, to rid the world of Greece’s enemies, I will gift your people the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.

“It is in ruins, destroyed by a flood.” Ephiny rasped.

“I will order it reconstructed.”

“You, you can do that?” Ephiny felt Xena’s fingers sliding seductively through her hair.

“Of course I can, Xena murmured leaning closer, plush dark lips so very near that Ephiny licked her own in anticipation. “All things are possible with me.”

“You, you could just decree all this, by the terms of your treaty with the nation.

“I could, but I find warriors fight harder when they have a something to fight for.”

“I’m sure...” Ephiny’s breathing became heavy “...we could work something out.”

Xena chuckled seductively, “I knew we would... agree.”

Ephiny’s eyes fluttered closed as their lips met.

A cheer went up in the tent the moment he stepped inside.

“After weeks of relaxation, you’ve finally come back to do some work.” Meleager joked while slapping Sevastian on the back. In turn he shook hands with Talmadeus, Mercer, Menticles, and finally Adamis.

“It is good to see all of you again.” As he spoke the words, Sevastian noted Kodi standing quiet in one corner.

“How was it with those savage…” Adamis’ voice trailed off as Siri ducked low to enter the tent. Rising to her full height, she stood silent, glaring down at Adamis who, despite himself, fidgeted under the weight of her gaze. For some time an awkward silence fell. Sevastian let it go on, enjoying it as much as Meleager appeared to be.

It was past time they accepted the fact that Siri held position and power.

“Lord Commander, the Amazons have set up camp.” she reported

“All 250?” Mercer said smug.

“All 2,000” Siri said matter of fact, shocking the men, save Sevastian.

“Tell them to not get too comfortable, this army moves out tomorrow.”

“Do we fight?” Mercer asked pushing Adamis out of the way.

“The Germanic warriors?” Mercer piped up.

Sevastian remained silent.

“Good Gods’ man, least tell us something!” Meleager said exasperated by Sevastian’s silence.

“We go north.” He watched amusedly as the men eyed him, already knowing that piece of news. “The Empress will tell all, in due time.” Sevastian pacified.

“Get you men ready to march tomorrow.” At the order, the commanders dispersed, each clasping his hand once again as they left the tent. Siri was the last to leave, the touch of her hand lingering a bit on his before she too departed.

“I wouldn’t have thought it possible, as thin as you are, but I think you’ve actually lost weight.”

“Nice of you to notice,” Sevastian let out a tired sigh, his hands moving to unfasten the catches on his armor.

“Here, let me” Kodi slapped his hand away and began unfastening armor. “I’ve got hot water on the way for you to take a bath in.”

“Hot water,” Sevastian said dreamily, after washing in near frozen streams that sounded so good.

“Wait, why are you being so nice?” he looked at Kodi suspicious.

“Because I can be, shut up and enjoy your bath while I clean your armor up.”

“Yes sir.” Sevastain mock snapped to attention and dipped his head.



“I gotta come up with a salute.” Sevastian remembered

“A salute?”

“Yeah, Xena wants me to come up with some kind of salute for the army to use, I forgot.”

“I read about one, Rome uses.”

“We are not Roman.” Sevastian sat down on his cot with a groan.

“What!” “We aren’t?” “I have been lied to by mother!” the boy stated in barbed shock.

Putting hands on knees, Sevastain laughed.

“It looks like this,” his half-brother gestured. “There was a drawing in the book I am charged to learn Latin from.

Sevastian liked what he saw. “That does look good.”

Kodi smiled.

“You are learning Latin?”

“Yes, and mathematics, and Greek Literature, my tutor says I’m doing well, except…” Kodi’s head dropped, “except literature, I have to memorize parts of the Illiad.”

Sevastian leaned over, trying to pull off his left boot. “Memorization instills discipline of thought.”

“Boring stories hold no interest for me.” Kodi began to tug on the recalcitrant boot. “Xena is helping me to study.”

Sevastian’s brows rose in surprise at that, but he choose to remain silent.

Kodi stood, grabbing a brush; he began working on Sevastian’s boots.”I’ve had your old crimson armor repaired in your absence.” Sevastian was caught off guard by Kodi’s sudden choice to be kind. But there was the proof, his armor sitting on the press, shinning and beautiful.

“We are heading into trouble aren’t we?”

Sevastain looked to Kodi, having drifted off into a bit of a thoughtless daze while regarding his armor.

“You scared?”

“For you,” replied Kodi, his words shocked Sevastian into silence.

“I forbid it!”

“You forbid it?” Xena was amused; Ares was in the middle of a godly tantrum.

“I’ll not have you speaking with the others on Olympus, you are my Chosen, and as my Chosen you will speak only with me!”

“Please Ares, do sit, have some wine, it will help calm you.”

“Don’t patronize me!” he yelled.

She left him to stew, while she walked to the side table, to pour herself a bit of winter mead, before turning to face him again. Ares was his usual self, garbed in dark leathers, the sword of war at his side.

“Artemis, you dare speak with Artemis! Then, I hear from those on Olympus that you frolicked with an Amazon!”

“What is the rule, you taught me?” she asked evenly.

“I am the God of War; I ask the questions, you answer!”

“Use every advantage.” Xena continued, her tone becoming more irate. “I did just that.”

“I commanded you to build temples to me, not restore temples to Artemis! I commanded you to conquer, not cavort with Amazon Queens!”

“Queen Ares, singular,” Xena smirked, “Unless you hint that there are more still alive that I should be…cavorting… with?”

Ares quaked with rage, “Not one word more Xena or I shall strike you! Not one word more!”

She was decidedly unimpressed with his bravado.

“Storm and bellow all you wish Ares, you know I am right. She set the mead down carefully, and then leaned back more, placing hands palms down on the table top “I now have 2,000 Amazons ready to do my bidding.”

“Hardly worth it,” he countered.

“Perhaps, we shall see. As for my, tryst with the Queen, your jealousy shows Ares.”

“Jealous?” His hackles rose as did his voice on the word.

“Yes, Jealous,” Xena replied while casually adjusting her robe of blood red silk “because it touches your manhood, or your pride. I think it endearing, you’d rather have me canoodling with you”

“You hold too high an opinion of you capabilities in the bed chamber.” He retorted.

“Then you needn’t be worried War God.” Standing, she sauntered over to him sexily.

“Have I not done as you asked Ares? He remained staring straight ahead while she slipped behind him to summon her most amorous tone “Greece is mine; soon the east will be mine, and then Rome shall fall. You shall have your temples Ares, and... you also have me.”

He let out a breath. “Very well chosen,” his tone had softened considerably. “I leave you to your schemes, trusting you to not fail me.”

“I won’t.”

With a flash he was gone.

Like Putty in hands… she mused.

She looked to the empty space Ares had occupied, and then shifted her gaze downward to her bare feet.

Ares rule was to use every advantage, no matter how ruthless, and she had done just that in the… negotiations… with the Amazonian Queen whom Xena knew felt an attraction to her. But even as she pressed her advantage, there were reservations, this feeling deep within. A persistent longing for something she desired, but as of yet, had not attained. Something that had awoken a long buried feeling within her...

“I don’t know which is worse...” her whisper broke the oppressive silence. “Being haunted by visions of you, or knowing you live and being unable to be near you. “Why!?” she yelled out in anger. “Why does my dark heart, yearn for you Gabrielle?!”

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