Title: Dragons of Resolution
Archive: Yes, please. Let me know if you take it, OK?
Teaser: This is part 10 of Dragons of Despair
Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. They belong to Studios USA or
Whoever owns the Rights to Xena: Warrior Princess
"Umm...can you do something? Iolaus is poisoned!" Hercules pointed at Iolaus. His buddy leaned against the wall but he was sitting up. A little of the color had returned to his face. "That demon scratched him."
Gabrielle blinked her fiery eyes. "The Abashii claws are not poisonous. Only Pit Fiends have poisonous claws and fangs. On the Abashii, it's the stinger on the end of the tail that has the poison."
Hercules swayed on his feet. He felt dizzy. He held his hand up and stared at it. He could just make out a tiny red bump. His vision blurred and he collapsed onto the floor.
"Hercules!" Ares shouted as he raced over to his brother. He had to admit at one time he would have been glad to see Hercules in this situation, but not any more. They had found a common ground by fighting against Dahok. And in that short period of time he had grown to care for Hercules. Perhaps he had always cared for him a little bit, somewhere deep inside but he had never admitted it to anyone, including himself. In the past, Hercules had never wanted to friend with him so he had behaved in a suitable manner, hardening himself against rejection and unkind words. But their fights had always been fun. Very few people could match Ares in strength and skill when it came to fighting and a suitable opponent was a rare find. After all, there is no challenge in fighting someone weaker them himself and if there's one thing he loves it's a challenge! But now his brother and long time sparring partner lay dying on the floor. He cradled Hercules' head in his arms and glanced up at Gabrielle. "Can you save him? Healing is not my thing, as you well know."
Gabrielle lowered her huge horned head, her golden eyes filled with sorrow. "I'm afraid healing isn't my thing, either. And I don't have any enchanted item that can cure this poison. Don't you have a God of Healing?"
"Apollo." Ares heart sank. Apollo hated both of them, him and Hercules. He hated Hercules because the Demigod had real friends, something Apollo never had. The Golden One always tried to control people through fear and intimidation and lied to himself, saying they stayed with him because they liked him. When Hercules had told Apollo the truth the God had gone crazy and attacked the Academy. And he hated Ares because of his job, the God of War. Many of his family members hated him because of that, claiming he was too bloodthirsty. Or maybe because he was first in line for the throne, being the only legimate son of Hera and Zeus. He really wasn't sure what Apollo's reasons were. He just knew that from the start the Golden One had hated him. It was an old feud that went all the way back to their childhood. It would be worst now because of the recent incident, when Apollo had fallen off his board. Seeing the dragon had really scared him! Ares had enjoyed it at the time but now Hercules might have to pay for it with his life. "Apollo hates both of us. I don't know if he'll help."
"Well, what about Zeus?" Iolaus asked from his spot against the wall. He still was terribly weak but he felt a bit better. Worried lined his face as he watched his best buddy dying before his eyes. "Surely Zeus wouldn't let Hercules die! He could force Apollo to heal him, right?"
"Except for the little fact that Zeus wants my dragon dead. He's boiling mad at me right now. He might be mad at Hercules now, too, as Hercules disobeyed him." Ares reminded Iolaus. "He may not want to help."
"Oh. Right. I forgot about that." Iolaus was quite for a moment as his brain raced frantically for an answer. There had to be something he was overlooking, something that would save his best friend! It appeared that Zeus was the problem. The golden haired hunter knew Zeus could easily control that wise guy Apollo. Heck, Herc had moped the floors with him enough times! "You know, you just need to stand up to the old coot! Show Zeus what a pig-headed baboon he's being, jumping at shadows and all. Convince him that she's no threat but above all don't loose your temper!"
Ares didn't relish the idea of facing Zeus, but he knew he had to do it sooner or later. He scooped Hercules up into his arms and carried him over to Gabrielle's back. Soon they were seated on the Dragon. Gabrielle released the wards she had placed on the room as they were no longer needed. Ares helped Iolaus up onto the dragon, too, and then the four left for Olympus. Gabrielle flew as fast as she could and soon they were there. Ares could have teleported them there but he had expanded lots of his power during the fight and he felt drained. Plus Gabrielle still used him as her source of power as well. They landed on Olympus and Gabrielle changed into her regular human form. Together they walked into the Zeus' throne room.
They were probably the oddest group to ever enter Zeus' Throne Room: a bloodthirsty War God carrying his hated brother, a dragon in human form and one badly limping human male. Zeus' eyes fell on his beloved son and he automatically jumped to conclusions. "Ares! What have you done to your brother? If you and your new foul beast have killed him, I swear Tartarus would be too good for you!"
"Father, I have done nothing to Hercules. I have brought him here to save his life. He has been poisoned by a demon." Ares gently placed Hercules on the floor before Zeus and stood guard over him. "Tell Apollo to come and heal him. Hurry, there isn't much time."
"And you're the one who has this demon, this dragon!" Zeus accused, his face turning red with anger. Zeus stood from his throne and stretched to his full height. Lightning crackled outside and thunder rumbled, the physical manifestations of his anger. "I told you they were dangerous! They can kill us all! And yet you disobey me and go into partnership with the foul beast because of your own greed!"
Ares fumed. His father was not only blind and deaf but also prejudice. He forced his voice to be calm when he answered. "No, Father. My dragon has not harmed Hercules. In fact, she has saved us all from the demon known as Dahok. It was one of Dahok's minions that have poisoned Hercules. Now are you going to summon Apollo or must I drag him here myself?"
Something clicked inside Zeus' head and he realized his favorite son was dying before his eyes. Sadness appeared in his eyes and the storms outside grew still. He knelt on the floor next to his son and gathered him in his arms. He called Apollo and the Golden One appeared in a flash. "Heal Hercules. He has been poisoned."
"Poisoned?" Apollo knelt and examined the unconscious Demigod. He shook his head. "Oh, this is serious. I'll have to take him to my quarters for some serious treatments." Without another word, Apollo flashed out, taking Hercules with him.
Once he knew his son was being cared for, Zeus resumed the argument with his other son. "Ares! I order you to destroy this dragon of yours before it's too late! You don't realize just how dangerous they are, how power hungry. They, like the Golden Hind, have the power to kill us, that which is immortal. For the safety of all who live on Olympus, I can't allow you to keep this pet of yours. Since you have saved your brother, I will release you from your punishment if you do as I say."
"Father, I can't do that." Ares replied bravely. He wrapped his strong arms around Gabrielle and held her against his chest. He stared with defiance into his father's eyes. "I love her. We are bonded. And with or without your permission I will marry her. That is, if she will have me."
"Oh, Ares, of course I will!" Gabrielle smiled up at Ares, tears of happiness in her blue eyes. She could feel his love for her through the telepathic bond they shared.
Zeus ran a hand across his face and through his gray hair. "Look, son, I'm not talking about your mortal girlfriend here, I mean the dragon!"
"She IS the dragon, Father." Ares explained. "There are many things about them that we don't know, that are not in the old scrolls. She is from a different world, a world with a different set of Gods. Something had happened on that world and all of the magic had left. Their Gods had been forced to flee. I don't know to where. But Gabrielle had came here, to our world. She has the ability to change into human form and for the past several years she has been traveling with Xena. You know of her Father, how she keeps Xena on the right path. Well, now I'm bonded with her, too. It's permanent. There's nothing I can do about it and I don't want to change it. If you kill her, you kill me and probably Xena, too."
Zeus sunk into his chair and stared at Gabrielle in shock. SHE was the dragon? He couldn't believe it! Then another thought occurred to him and Zeus moaned loudly. His son, the Heir to the Throne, was going to MARRY the dragon! No doubt they'd want to live up on Olympus. Soon there would be little beasts running around, ones that had sharp claws and teeth. Not ordinary claws or teeth, but the deadly kind that could make a God bleed. How could Ares do this to him? The very thought was scandalous! Zeus forced himself to sit up straight and he leaned forward, his eyes weary. "Do you really love her?"
"Yes, I do. With all my heart." Ares answered him honestly. "I never have felt this way before in my immortal life. Now I understand why she means so much to Xena. I will never give her up."
"Tell me, Ares. Why did you save Hercules? I thought you hated him?" Perhaps he had misjudged this dragon. He knew of Gabrielle, the things she and that Xena woman had done. If she was able to actually get Ares and Hercules to act like real brothers, well, then perhaps she was exactly was his son needed. If only she wasn't a dragon! He just didn't trust dragons. But could it be that this dragon was a one-of-a-kind, a freak that didn't behave like a dragon? If what Ares said about Dahok was true, then the dragon had saved them. But saved them for who? Herself? Or was she just being helpful, helping them as she helped the mortals?
"I never really wished Hercules dead." Ares said to his father. "If you ever spent time with us you'd know this. But of course you ignored me just as you ignored Hercules. In fact, it's your fault this feud between us ever started. You manipulated both of us, constantly telling me Herc is your favorite son while you told Herc how evil I was. We never got a chance to really know each other. We were too busy fighting each other for your attention. Well, we put that behind us know. Or I hope we have."
"But you're always trying to kill Hercules!" Zeus protested loudly, his eyes filled with confusion. Could it be he didn't know anything about his oldest son? Had the distance between them grown so great? He hadn't realized it; there were so many battles with Hera. She never gave him a moment of peace.
"No, we are sparring partners." Ares explained calmly. "We both enjoy are fights with each other. We enjoy the challenge, to see who will win. If I really wanted to kill him I would have done so a long time ago, Protection Order or no Protection Order. Who else can match me in strength and fighting skills? The rest of you Gods are weaklings! You scream at your own shadows. Only Hercules, my brother, is a worthy opponent for the God of War."
Zeus sunk back into his chair, his mind whirling. He realized he didn't know anything anymore. His world had just turned upside-down and there was nothing he could do about it.
A gold flash filled the room and Apollo appeared with Hercules. The Demigod looked tired but he was standing on his own feet. He slowly walked over to Iolaus and clasped hands with his buddy. "Boy, I really thought I was a goner for a moment there."
"Yeah, so did I." Iolaus told Hercules. The little hunter had remained quite all this time. He didn't know what to say with Zeus around. He may have talked bravely down in Ares' temple, but Zeus was right here! That made a big difference.
"Hercules." Zeus said. He waited until his son turned to face him. He didn't miss the fact that his son had totally ignored him. "It has come to my attention that I really don't know my sons, either of my sons. I would like to rectify that."
"Well, gee Dad. This is kind of late, don't you think?" Hercules said bitterly. "You never were there when I was growing up, when I needed you. The only one from this side of my family who ever paid any attention to me was Ares. I enjoyed that attention. It made me feel important! I mean, just think: I was so important that the God of War had to come down off Olympus to try and kill me himself! It's kind of funny if you think about it. Anyway, I enjoyed pounding him up and he provided great excuses for Chiron."
"I was hoping, Son, that you would stay on Olympus for your brother's wedding." Zeus sighed. There was no getting around it.
"Well, that's different." Hercules told Zeus as he put an arm around Iolaus' solder. "Me and Iolaus will be happy to stay, won't we, Iolaus?"
"Sure!" Iolaus said happily. He loved weddings. They always had a ton of food at them. "Say, do you have anything to eat? I'm starving!"
Zeus held his head in his hands and moaned louder. Dragons and mortals on Olympus, what was the world coming to?
Down at Ares temple, Xena had returned. She pushed open the double doors and hurried inside. She had made it all the way down the mountain before she realized the mistake she had made. How could she have abandoned Gabrielle when her friend had needed her the most? She just had been so shocked. She had never dreamed that Gabrielle was a dragon! And she was used to hating Ares, seeing him as the bad guy. She had to admit she was also a bit Iolaus. She hadn't liked the idea that Gabrielle and Ares was a couple. That meant she would be alone then and after spending the last years traveling with Gabrielle she didn't want to be alone. What if her dark side won with Gabrielle gone? Who would be her guiding light?
"Gabrielle! Where are you?" Xena frantically searched and she feared Gabrielle was dead, this time for real. They were about to fight Dahok and she had selfishly ridden off because she was scared! Not scared of the fight but of loosing her best friend to Ares. "Gabrielle, please be alive! I didn't mean to leave you. Please forgive me."
"You're forgiven." Gabrielle said as she appeared in a flash of light. She walked forward and hugged Xena. "I know it was a big shock for you. It was a big shock for all of us, including me. Trust me, Xena, all these years I had no memory of being a dragon. If I had known, I would have told you. You're my best friend and nothing can change that."
"And Dahok?" Xena asked. "Did you fight him?"
"Yes, he's dead for now, his spirit sent back to the Abyss where he belongs." Gabrielle explained. Her face brightened as a wide grin spread across her face. "Come up to Olympus with me, Xena! I want you to be there when we start planning my wedding!"
"Your getting married?" Xena eyes widened and her jaw dropped. "To Ares?"
"Oh, don't worry, Xena! These things take lots of time to plan apparently!" Gabrielle laughed as she grabbed her friend's hand. "Just promise me you won't give Ares a hard time?"
"I'll try." Xena stated. "I'm just not used to trusting him."
"I know." Gabrielle said in understanding. Then they vanished as Gabrielle teleported them to Olympus.