Archive: Yes, please. Let me know if you take it, OK?
Teaser: Hera tests Ares
Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. They belong to Studios USA or
Whoever owns the Rights to Xena: Warrior Princess. This is just for fun.
Ares and Gabrielle stood before Hera, Queen of the Gods. Hera sat on her own thrown in her own audience chamber. She was dressed in regal red robes and a gold crown adorned her head. Priceless rings sparkled on her fingers. "Are you sure you wish to marry this mortal?"
"Yes, Mother." Ares answered firmly. "I already have Father's permission. Now I need yours."
"It is no small thing you ask, Son." Hera replied. "When you marry, she will become a Goddess. She will live forever, hardly aging at all. Everyone she knows will grow old and die. It will be very difficult for her. She will need you to be loyal to her, to know that she made the right choice. So I ask you, do you love her?"
"Of course I do!" Ares wrapped his arms protectively around Gabrielle. He stood behind her and rested his chin lightly on top of her head. She smiled and leaned back against his broad chest. "She is the light in my dark world. She accepts me for who I am and yet I find myself striving to be a better man because of her. She awoke feelings I forgot I had. I would even gladly give up my Godhood to be with her."
"Really?" Hera leaned back in her throne. She stroked her chin as she observed the young couple before her. "Zeus long ago said he loved me, that he would give me the world. Now he only has time for those mortal floozies of his. Disgusting!"
"I know Father has been unfaithful to you and producing that half-breed scum." Ares told his mother. "But I truly love Gabrielle with all my heart!"
"Hmmm." The Queen of the Gods leaned forward and peered at Gabrielle. "And you, my dear, you have no fears of becoming a Goddess? You would have to leave the mortal world behind and live on Olympus. You'd have a job to do. We'd have to make you a Goddess of something. Plus you will have to learn how to use your powers. It might be difficult, as you were not born with the powers. But it can be done. Perhaps you might even one day replace me and be Queen of the Gods. Ares is, after all, the rightful heir to the throne of Olympus."
Gabrielle swallowed. She had never met Hera before and she was nervous. Her future with Ares was riding on this meeting. What if she said the wrong thing and screwed it up? Then what would they do? Ares had said he was willing to give up his Godhood to be with her, but she couldn't allow that. He was meant to be a God. The world needed a God of War whether people realized it or not. Ares was the only one who could do the job. Without him absorbing and controlling people's aggressive feelings, wars would destroy the world.
Gabrielle cleared her throat and spoke in a clear voice. "Of course I'm scared of becoming a Goddess. It's a very big step. I think only a fool wouldn't be. But I love your son and I'm willing to do this to be with him. I suppose it'll take time to learn how to use the powers, but I'm sure Ares will be a great teacher. I'll miss the mortal world but surely I can still visit it. And as for my friends dying, well, mortals do that. We live with it every day. It's a fact of life. We grieve and then go on with our lives. But hopefully our life together will be filled with joy."
"Very well said." Hera stood and walked over to Gabrielle. "But I need to know if he truly loves you. Give me your hand, my dear."
Gabrielle held out her hand and the Queen of the Gods took it. In a flash of bright light, Gabrielle disappeared.
"Mother! What did you do to her?" Ares roared in panic. He knew how she hated mortal woman because of Zeus' affairs. He pulled his sword from its scabbard and held it ready. "If you harmed her, I swear..."
"You'll what? Kill me? Hmmft! You've been trying to kill that half-breed brat for years and you can't even do that right. I doubt if you could do me anything." Hera returned to her throne and sat down. "Now listen carefully, Son. This is a test. If you pass, you get to marry your mortal girlfriend. If you fail, you don't. Understand?"
"Just tell me what I have to do." Ares said.
"You must hunt the unicorn. Only its magical horn can grant you what you desire. You must prove your True Love for this mortal." Hera relaxed in her chair and reached for a handful of red grapes. She waved her other hand at Ares. "You may go."
"I won't fail." Ares spun on his heel and marched out of his mother's audience chamber. It was improper to pop out in front of her. She was, after all, the Queen.
Once out in the hall, Ares popped off to his temple. There he used his God TV to find a unicorn. The creature was standing in a forest glade, dappled sunlight falling on its white coat. Ares focused on the location and transported himself there.
Ares gazed at the unicorn and was transfixed by its beauty. Never before had he seen such a magical creature. It had a delicate, finely shaped head like an Arabian. Its spiraled ivory horn was about three feet long and shone with a myriad of pastel colors. Its coat was the purest white he had ever seen, whiter even than new fallen snow. The surrounding forest seemed dim when compared to the unicorn. The entire creature seemed to glow. Its mane and tail looked soft and silky. It reminded him of a cloud. A gentle breeze stirred the unicorn's mane and brought its scent to his nose: rain, fresh grass and ripe apples. It had huge pink eyes with long lashes. The cloven ivory hooves were attached to long delicate legs.
Slowly he pulled his sword from its scabbard. He walked up to the unicorn, half expecting it to flee from him. But it stood its ground, watching him with those deep, fathomless eyes.
"OK, Ares, you got to do this." He told himself. He raised his sword high in the air.
"You need that horn to get Gabrielle back."
He stared into those pink eyes and dropped his sword on the ground. His own soul gazed back at him from those eyes. He couldn't kill such a creature of pure good. Gabrielle would never forgive him if he did. He wished he could share the sight of such a wondrous creature with her. But he supposed without the horn he would never be able to find her.
Ares spread his arms wide. The unicorn lowered its head and placed the tip of its horn on his chest. With a swift move, the horn pierced him through the heart. Ares didn't feel anything. The horn was pulled out just as quickly. Not a single drop of blood marred its shiny surface.
"Great. Just great." Ares muttered to himself. "I hoped you could put me out of my misery. Now I'll never find Gabrielle."
A soft glow surrounded the unicorn. When it faded, Gabrielle was standing where the unicorn had been. Ares swept her up into his arms and spun her around. Then the two kissed.
Hera popped in and watched the happy couple. "Well, I see you passed my test and broke the spell I placed on her. If you did not truly love her, the horn would have killed you. A unicorn's horn is the best test for True Love there is."
Ares held Gabrielle in his strong arms. "Come on, Love. We have a wedding to plan!" With a sparkling of lights, Ares and Gabrielle popped off.