"NO!" Gabrielle cried in shock. Her knees went weak and she was forced to lean against the altar. "You just can't go around killing people, even if you are the God of War. It's just not right!"

"That's what I always loved about you, Gabrielle. You got spunk! And you're not afraid to tell me off. You know, treat me like a God. Saying stuff like that idiot Struddel does." Ares continued to smile as he walked around to her side of the altar. "Now come along, my dear. I waited for this moment a long time."

"Wait!" Gabrielle cried. "What do you mean that you always loved me? We just met! You can't love someone you don't know."

"Oh, but I DO know you, Gabrielle. And you know me. If you want to know more, I guess you'll just have to follow me know, won't you?" Ares told her as he headed back towards the spot where he had first appeared.

Gabrielle watched him, a confused look on her face. She noticed for the first time the large throne chair sitting opposite the altar. Ares walked past the throne and disappeared through a doorway. She waited a few seconds and he didn't reappear. She was completely alone. If she wanted to, she could make a run for it. That is, if the temple doors were unlocked and if those big goons weren't waiting outside!

But she wanted to know what Ares had meant about them knowing each other, too.

In the end her curiosity won out and Gabrielle moved away from the black stone altar. Following the path Ares had taken; she cautiously peered through the doorway. It wasn't another room like she had expected, but a pair of descending narrow stone stairs. From where she stood she couldn't see the bottom. Stepping onto the first step, she started going down. When she got onto the fourth step down, the door above her slammed close. She paused and glanced back up towards the surface, only to see a smooth stone wall. The door had disappeared!

"This is really smart, Gabrielle." She told herself. "Following a God that admitted he wants your blood into the basement of his temple ... "

She reached the bottom of the stairs and stepped into the room at the bottom, only to find Ares waiting for her. The room itself, she noted, was rather empty. Besides the usual torches on the walls, there was just a table and a big silver chalice. "Well, I'm here. Are you going to explain how we know each other now?"

"Of course." Ares replied as he ran his fingers over the chalice. "First you have to realize that the Gods are like you mortals in many ways. We start our life as a baby, go through childhood, become adults. We fall in love, we marry, have children. We have feelings, too: anger, sadness, compassion, friendship ... just like mortals. And also like mortals, we need to ... feed.

Gabrielle walked up to Ares where he stood fingering the chalice. "We're all taught in school that the Gods eat Ambrosia and drink Nectar. But that still doesn't answer my question."

"And you never asked yourself exactly what Ambrosia is or where it comes from?" Ares smiled as he moved closer, still holding the chalice. His dark eyes never left her green ones. "Or about Nectar?"

"Well, I am a bit curious." Gabrielle admitted. The way Ares was looking at her was making her nervous. He reminded her of a cat even more now, a cat that was hunting for its next meal! "What do you really want?"

"Short and sweet, huh? I like it!" Ares offered her the chalice, then took a dagger from his belt and tossed it onto the table. His grin widened, showing snowy white teeth. "Give me your blood."

Gabrielle blinked at the War God. "So you're not going to tie me on your altar and run me through with a sword? No white dress and bathing in perfume? No dagger through the heart, all that stuff? You just want ME to put my own blood into this cup?"

"I never said I wanted to kill you, Gabrielle." Ares stared at her. "I just want some of your blood so I can make some Ambrosia!"

Relief swept through her, followed quickly by a new suspicion. "Wait. Are you saying Ambrosia is made from mortal BLOOD? From MY blood? And you just expect me to donate it, put it inside your cup?"

"Gabrielle, I'm the God of War. Last time I checked that was a bloody job!" Ares rolled his eyes. "Now be a good girl and give me the blood. Do we have to go through this same conversation each and every time?"

"But this is the first time!" Gabrielle watched Ares suspiciously. For all she knew, he might possess a pair of fangs and try to bite her! "I don't remember ever talking to you before in my entire life!"

"But in your past lives you did. You stood right here in this very room. You even had the same name, the same hair, same green eyes ... need I go on?" Ares asked. He picked up the dagger from the table, holding it in his hand. "Shall we get on with it?"

"Out of all the women in Greece, why my blood?" Gabrielle asked, her eyes watching the dagger. She didn't know what she should do. She had been expecting him to kill her outright in some ceremony. But that wasn't what was happening at all. Should she give him the blood? If she did, would he let her go then? Or would he keep her around for future snacking?

"You were my very first High Priestess in my very first temple. I loved you, you know. You were devoted to me and gave me power. More important, you changed my heart. Especially after what my parents put me through in that pit. You bring out the compassion in me and without you at my side I revert to a cold heartless monster intent only on war. But I don't like being that person, Gabrielle. But no matter how hard I struggle; I can only be compassionate for a limited amount of time after you're gone. The special Ambrosia helps me control my tendencies when you're not around just like I help others control their aggressive feelings."

"I ... I had no idea!" Gabrielle blurted. The idea that she had lived before was amazing. The idea that she had served as Ares' High Priestess was even more astounding. To see him every day, to talk to him ... "And after I give the blood I'm free to go?"

"Yes, you're free to go. I can only collect it when the red star is in the sky anyway. Otherwise it'll stay blood and won't turn into the magical Ambrosia." Ares continued to hold the dagger out, waiting patently. "But I'd hope you'd stay with me. For you being with me is far better tonic than any Ambrosia!"

Perhaps I was right the first time. Gabrielle thought. Ares is my soulmate!

"And you wouldn't mind if I want to be a bard, that I want to see the world?" She asked.

"Gabrielle, stay with me and I'll be your personal bodyguard! I'll show you places on the other side of the world that mortals haven't even dreamed of yet! And I'll happily buy you all the scrolls and ink you could ever desire, only if you'd stay with me." Ares promised, love in his eyes.

"And my family? They're OK?" She asked, remembering what the warlord had said.

"Your family is fine and if you want, we can go visit them tomorrow." Ares told her with a grin. "I suppose I should tell your Father of my intentions to court you."

Court her! Oh my Zeus, he's serious! Gabrielle thought.

Gabrielle started to laugh as she reached for the dagger. "Poor Lila will be so shocked when she finds out you're real. When I told her about my dream, she said you didn't exist and that I was crazy for chasing after it."

"Gabrielle, one should always chase after dreams!" Ares allowed her to take the dagger from him. "For dreams are what build the future."

"To our future together!" Gabrielle cut herself on the arm lightly and watched the bright red blood fill the cup. It didn't require very much, for the chalice itself was magical, just a few teaspoons full. Within minutes, the tabletop was filled with red Ambrosia.

Ares pulled out a little wooden box from inside his vest. He opened it and offered it to her. "And this, my dear, is for you. Regular Ambrosia so we can be together always. I won't make the same mistake I did the other times in the past."

Gabrielle peered inside the box. The single piece of Ambrosia within was a deep golden color, like honey. Her breath caught in her throat and she felt like she was going to cry. She couldn't believe he was offering this to her!

"Keep it for later." Gabrielle told him. "I think we should go visit my family first, while I'm still mortal. By now they must be worried sick!"

"OK," Ares stuck the little box back into his vest, and then gathered Gabrielle into his arms. "Let's go see your family."

In a flash of blue light, the two popped off to Poteidaia.