Title: Dragons of Despair
Archive: Yes, please. Let me know if you take it, OK?
Teaser: Ares' thoughts of Gabrielle falling down the lava hole with Hope
Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. They belong to Studios USA, or
whoever owns the Rights to Xena: Warrior Princess.
Ares stared at the spot where moments before Hope and Gabrielle had stood.
Now thet were both gone, burned alive in a pit of fiery magma. This was not
what was supposed to happen!
Months ago, when he had first became aware of the new dark presence now know
as Dahok, he had gone to the other Olympian Gods for help. He had tried to
explain the threat Dahok was, but no one had listened to him. They were all
caught up in their own little petty disputes and games. Worse, they didn't
believe Dahok could actually do them anything. Their attitude had been all
wrong. Athena had patiently explained to him that Dahok couldn't do them
anything because he wasn't part of their pantheon. The way she had said it
was condescending, like he was a five-year-old child and not the God of War.
So he had gritted his teeth and popped off.
Next he had visited the other pantheons of Gods seeking alies for the
upcoming battle with Dahok. But they, too, had seen Dahok as nothing more
than a harmless godling. He watched as they exchanged glances with each
other, smirking. No doubt they thought he was jumping at shadows, getting
paranoid. It was obvious by now he was on his own.
His heart heavy with despair, Ares returned to Olympus. He entered a room he
hadn't been in for ages: the Olympus Library. Here shelves were full of
arcane knowledge known only to the Gods. By the heavy layers of dust over all
the ancient scrolls, it was clear none of the other Gods ever came here,
either. Ares had no idea what he was looking for, but he hoped he would
recognize it when he found it. He was thinking along the lines of a powerful
artifact, like a Demon-Slaying Sword that might be still lying around
somewhere totally forgotten. Artifacts were not easy to make, even for the
Gods. But what he did find surprised him.
Ares heart had sunk even lower. He had gone through almost all of the scrolls
and found them useless. His black clothes were covered in dust, as were his
hands. He felt ready to give up, convinced there was nothing interesting in
this unused room. Deciding to look at one more scroll, he opened it and saw
it was about dragons. Reading further, he grew excited. If he could find a
dragon, a real dragon, he might have a very powerful ally. His heart swelled
with excitement as he popped off to see Zeus.
"Father," Ares had asked. "Where can I find a real dragon? Not one of those
large lizard beasts that mortals call dragons, but a true fire-breathing
dragon? This old scroll says the dragon is War's chosen animal, yet I have
never seen a real dragon. If I could find one, we could defeat Dahok."
Zeus had rolled his eyes and sighed. "Are you with that Dahok stuff again?
Why are you so obsessed with this Godling? And as for dragons, be glad there
are none. They are a worse threat than this Dahok."
But Ares would not give up. "Just tell me where they are."
"They lived during the Age of the Titans. A true dragon is more powerful then
we are. They lust for power and would surely destroy us if they were around.
Be glad they are extinct. I destroyed many dragon eggs in my youth before I
married your mother. It was very...messy. Trust me, Ares, you would not want
to see a real dragon. Go do your war duties."
"But surely they can't all be extinct! This scroll claims dragons are
immortal, although they may be killed. And if they are, why in the world did
you give me an extinct animal for my chosen beast?"
"Because they love death and destruction, why else? A perfect companion for
War. Now go, Ares, and don't bother me any more about this Dahok nonsense."
Ares had popped off to his favorite temple to think. He had gotten his hopes
up only to have them crash at his feet. If dragons were truly extinct as Zues
had said, then there was nothing else left. He knew he couldn't fight Dahok
by himself. Dahok was just too powerful and he was growing stronger every
day. So he had cooperated with Dahok, stalling for time as he raked his brain
for other ideas. He thought he might be on to something when he had told Xena
to destroy Dahok's temple, but she didn't. In fact from then on, matters had
grown only worse.
Xena didn't understand his partnership with Dahok. The first rule of war is
to know thy enemy. And the best way to learn about Dahok was to work with
him. Besides, what other choice did he have?
Ares blinked his eyes and snapped back to the present. He watched as Xena
stabbed Calisto with the hind's blood dagger. The life fled from her wide
eyes as she slumped to the floor lifeless. The temple began to shake and
rattle. He wasn't too sure what was the real cause of the shaking: Dahok or
the active volcano outside. Last he saw it, it was belching huge amounts of
black sooty smoke from its cone.
He saw despair fill Xena's eyes as she stared down into the pit. He had never
meant for Gabrielle to die or even get injured! An odd tightness filled his
chest as he thought of the blonde bard. How warm and solid she had felt
against his chest when he had grabbed her from behind just a few hours ago.
Was it really hours? It felt like years. No one deserved to be burnt alive in
hot magma. Certainly not the innocent bard. Only Hope was supposed to die,
along with her demon spawn.....
He knew Dahok expected Xena to try and kill Hope. But they would never expect
the bard to do it. He knew they both wanted Hope dead. He himself had heard
Gabrielle agree with Xena that Hope had to die. He thought it was the perfect
plan. All the bard had to do was give Hope a push. The magma would do the
rest. Even if it didn't kill her, it might give them more time. But Gabrielle
had sacrified her own life. He never expected her to do that.
Realizing he would never feel her soft, honeysuckle-scented hair against his
cheek ever again, Ares throat tightened and he popped out.