Okay, for this chapter I'm doing a little mixing and matching. The Oneiroi are the gods of dreams, but some poets argue who they descended from. I'm going to make them as sons of Gaia that Euripides claims them to be. Just ties it in with the story better. Others say they are born from Hypnos and Erebus, or even Nyx.
For all of you that reviewed or reviewed anonymously, thank you so much. I do read every comment and each one makes me smile. I love hearing from my readers even if I can't reply back, so thank you for taking the time to review. It really does make my day!
Also, this chapter is the first part of why this story is rated M. So read with caution :3
My heart beat loudly against my chest as his voice flooded my senses. Apparently seven days was longer than I thought it was, because I actually missed the husky tone. It brought out something in me that had me relaxing my shoulders and smiling softly. It was warmth. It was familiarity. After the grueling training of hell that I'd been suffering through, the voice was almost a balm to my frayed mind.
"Ares," I murmured. I meant for my voice to be cool and cultured, even composed. Instead it came out a whisper of sound; a mixture of relief and warmth I wasn't ready to name.
I heard his throaty chuckle first and opened my eyes. It was pure darkness around me but I wasn't afraid. My instincts told me that Ares wasn't here to scare me or to hurt me.
"Seven days is all it took for you to call me. Only seven."
Okay, I lied. I hadn't missed him at all, the fucking jerk. No, the arrogant little shit. No! The rat bastard!
"Go to hell!" I yelled into the inky blackness. I felt the anger first and my magic reacted, pulsing hotly as my heart raced. I felt his amusement and it only served to fuel my temper.
"Seven days is a long time for a mortal." I felt the lips brush against my right ear, the words soft like a lover's caress. I could sense his body inches from mine and knew that he was standing behind me. The only contact he allowed was the brushing of his lips against my ear and that was enough to make me shiver.
"That'd better be an apology," I growled out, ready to yank myself away from him. He must have sensed this because the lips nibbled on my earlobe.
"I feel your exhaustion, mortal." Hands barely brushed against the top of my arms but it was enough. That was his version of an apology.
"Maybe," I allowed. I wasn't weak and I wasn't going to let him see me as such.
"Your pride is misplaced." The lips moved away from my ear and I more or less felt him draw back a bit. "If you had been at full strength, I would have been disappointed. Instead I know you have been training." With that statement, the fight and anger drained out of me. Damn me, he was right.
I smiled at the compliment but blinked, wondering what I was supposed to do. I could converse with him as a woman with her man. I could talk with him as a warrior to his master. Or I could speak with him as an attendant to a god. Which was the role I should assume this time?
"Speak what you will." The command was blunt and to the point and I smirked. He was in a good mood. Then again, he'd spent seven days fighting. The god of war was literally in a war. Of course he'd be in a good mood. War. Duh.
"The training is difficult," I finally stated, wondering why he wished to only talk about me.
"It is how training is supposed to be. You know this by now." At my silence he sighed. "Mortal, what is it?"
"I don't want to bitch about my problems." He chuckled.
"You are not if I ask about them. You serve me as well, mortal, in case you have forgotten in my absence. I always ask of my warriors." Curious about this new tangent, I turned slightly in the darkness. It was useless to see, but more of the fact that I wanted my eyes in his general direction. I just knew he could see, even if I couldn't.
"You look after your warriors? I thought you picked them because they're capable and self-sufficient." I could just feel the smirk he was throwing at me. A disturbance in the force if you will, but I could sense it all the same.
"They are. A good commander checks on the welfare of his men."
"Somehow I doubt if you talk to Achilles about feelings, Ares. You don't strike me as the Dr. Phil of the Greek pantheon." I heard his scoff and smiled.
"Not about feelings, you brainless mortal." My smile broadened at the grievance in his tone. "I see to their training and their physical state. I make sure they are still aspiring and working towards a greater pinnacle. My attendants will never stagnate. So I ask you of your training and the state you are in. You are exhausted. Mentally. Physically. A soldier is useless as you are now."
"But I'm not an attendant or soldier, great Ares," I teased.
"But you wear my sash, Eveleen." The way my name rolled from his lips had a blush staining my cheeks. "You belong to me," he stated easily. Lips brushed against the corner of my mouth before quickly disappearing.
"Like hell," I responded with a bit of anger and playfulness. His earlier comment of 'ruining me for mortal men' was still irritating, but I was willing to overlook this for the fact that he was here checking up on my welfare. I would admit it pleased me that he would ask about me, even if I was the one to unwittingly call out to him.
"Now speak of your training, mortal."
"First, I'd like to be able to see."
"You want to see me?" he asked, his voice a sensual purr. I was used to Achilles using this voice, but not Ares. It sent shivers down my spine, oh so delicious shivers. This was dangerous territory.
"I want to see. I don't like being without sight," I answered honestly, deflecting the sensual atmosphere.
"As you wish."
Light brightened around me and I blinked at the rapid change as my eyes attempted to focus. When I was able to see without the light burning my sensitive eyes, I noticed we weren't anywhere I'd seen before. The air was cold and crisp, nearly biting in the intensity of the lower temperature. Spots of snow dotted the ground around us. I noticed that I was standing next to a cliff and I moved away from it quickly, much to Ares' amusement.
"You will not fall. Come." Ares stood at the cliff face but his eyes were trained below him. I was struck by the sight of him much as I was when he had left for Valhalla originally. This man was power personified. He was male. Dangerous. Alluring. I was drawn like a moth to a flame and I knew I was going to get burned in the end, but no matter how I looked at it or spun the tale, I was attracted to him.
And why not? He said it himself. He was a god. The pinnacle of everything. I wasn't immune to him; I was only mortal after all.
I walked beside of him and shivered at the wind that burst from the cliff face. Immediately I felt a warmth around my shoulders and looked to find a blood red cape draped over me, pooling onto the ground below me.
"Thanks," I murmured, knowing he wouldn't answer me.
"Now. Your training?"
I thought to try to find the exact words I could use, but nothing popped up. I settled for the only thing I could say. "It sucks." Eloquence. I could always rely on myself for eloquence. The corner of his mouth turned partially into the trademark smirk, but he refrained from saying something condescending. I'm sure it hurt him to do so. "Gaia trains me every day. We haven't done much in weapons training though." Ares waved a hand in dismissal.
"That can be remedied later." His flippancy over the subject of weapons had me laughing. The god of war not interested in weapons training and letting it slide that I wasn't training in weapons? "Your god powers come before weapons," he answered, his tone annoyed as he accurately guessed my thoughts. "With it you will gain stamina. That is essential in battle as well." My laughter died and I nodded at him once.
"She's a hard teacher. I haven't really had a break other than to eat or sleep."
"What have you learned, mortal?" I opened my mouth to answer, but shut it and nibbled my lip. I wanted to tell him, I truly did, but a part of me wanted to keep it hidden. "What?" I looked at him and was surprised to see him truly looking at me for the first time since my sight had been restored. I sighed and ran a hand through my hair in aggravation. "I have commanded you to speak, Eveleen."
"I don't want to tell you," I mumbled. "I want to show you when you return." It was stupid. This urge to surprise him was idiotic and just female at best, not a warrior trait at all. It was asinine and foolish and brainless all into one and –
"Cease, mortal." I blinked in confusion, but glared when I realized why he'd spoken. Right, the mind reading thing. I hated how he could do that. "It is common for warriors to want to show their skills instead of talking about them. You are right. I would rather gauge your abilities for myself when I return." He turned away to look below him and I followed his gaze only to find a sea of red below us. It was massive, spreading out as far as the eye can see.
"Magnificent is it not?"
"Aye." And it was. Ares commanded legions of soldiers and each had to have prowess as a warrior to catch the eye of the god of war. Here they all were, a sea of death and destruction, ready to fight and conquer. It was a powerful sight. "This is what battle is," I breathed.
"No, it is not." I turned to the god to have him watching me. "This army is only the beginning. War is so much more than this." I couldn't explain it, but in that moment he seemed open. The most unguarded I had ever seen Ares, actually, and perhaps even more so than Dream Ares. He wanted to make me understand.
"What is it like?" I asked, unashamed that I didn't know. Both he and I knew that I had never seen war and to pretend I had was just an insult to both of us. This was one thing he would never look down on me for. Ares looked at me, truly looked at me, sizing me up for something. When he was done he showed no expression, but his eyes never left mine.
"I will show you my memories, Eveleen. This is what it means to serve the god of war. This is battle." He stepped close to me and pulled me against him. Almost tenderly – I couldn't really relate the word to Ares – he brushed my hair back from my face and looked deep into my eyes. I felt the exact moment his powers flared and entered me and I twitched at the sensation.
The world blurred around me, contorting as colors swirled into a different scene. Instead of standing in the circle of Ares' arms, I was in the middle of a full out battle; literally in the middle of warriors out of the kill. Before I could register danger, a sword was hurtling toward me. I flinched for the deathblow. Instead the sword passed through me as if I were water, withdrawn, then sliced at another opponent.
Bellows and war cries were around me. I heard the clashing of steel, the sound of swords slamming on shields, I heard it all. I heard the cries of pain and of triumph. I saw the battle lust in the eyes of the warriors around me and even a thrill of battle. Here there was no fear. There was no regret or remorse as a warrior was slain. A comrade died beside another and the blades never hesitated between attacks.
I was no stranger to spars and fights. I was no stranger to blood and wounds. But here in the midst of battle with only a blood red cloak to cover me, I was lost. I was scared. I was shaking in terror of the thought of fighting in something such as this. I wanted nothing to do with Ares, I couldn't do this, I couldn't. I'd gotten into something so far over my head I wasn't sure how to get out, but I knew I needed to run from this carnage, from this chaos of blood and death. The panic swamped my senses and in this moment I was terrified of what I would eventually have to do, I was terrified of the god of this slaughter, I was terrified of battle. I was shaking and quivering and I could not tear my eyes away from the battle that raged around me.
Then I saw him. He was a blur of blood red and yellow, his sword stained with the blood of enemies. His ferocity was astounding, his lack of fear obvious. When he cut down an opponent a small grin was on his face. He exulted in battle and the red haze surrounded him as he cut down enemy after enemy. He was terrifying but beautiful.
Achilles was magnificent.
For a brief moment he had no enemies to fight and he lifted his bloodied blade into the air, uncaring that droplets landed on his face or arms or that the rivulets of blood began to slide down his hand. His triumphant, challenging cry was loud and long and around him cries of Ares' armies echoed.
In that moment I understood.
He was proud of the enemies he killed in battle. He was proud to lead, proud of his strength, and he was ready to fight for Ares. Enemies surrounded him at his cry but he was ready for them and leapt, the haze thickening around him as he drew more of his god powers. With each stroke of his blade my fear lessened. This wasn't about dying or killing or even chaos. It was honor. It was glory. It was pride. I could understand this, not the senseless slaughter of earlier.
A Norse came from his left and was about to strike Achilles' unprotected side, but suddenly a golden arrow slammed into his neck. He fell to his knees in shock and I turned to see a man with a golden bow a very long distance away. I gaped at him. He made that shot through the chaos of battle, through swords, spears, axes, bodies, everything, to hit a one inch gap on his neck. It was such an extraordinary shot and the second I had spotted him, people began to block my view as they fought. In that split second, he made that shot to help Achilles. Just god damn.
I turned back to the battle to see a huge golden shield slamming into one of Achilles' attackers. When the shield moved, I saw a bear pelt on his head first, then another familiar face. It was Ajax who slammed another man and I watched in awe as he flew through two more Norsemen before landing in a heap along with them. Ajax laughed at the sight and turned to fight with Achilles, using his spear deftly to stab in their open sides and his shield to smash those who got too close.
They fought together, the haze around each of them, in a deadly but beautiful dance. Achilles was nimble and quick, his strokes quick and efficient. Ajax slung his shield with brute force and his spear thrust through enemies so hard it appeared through their opposite side. Achilles used Ajax's strength to fell many enemies and dart inside their guard when they least expected it. Ajax was used to having the focus on him and it was probably why he carried the huge golden shield with him. They were warriors in their own right; each of them were strong, fast, and deadly. But together, they were unstoppable.
These two were more than friends. They were comrades in battle, they were brothers in arms, they were the one who had one another's back. It was absolute trust in the chaos of battle. The closeness they always had shown whenever they had trained me had to come from this. I understood now, more than I ever had before.
Achilles and Ajax leapt away suddenly and I was startled from my thoughts as I watched them sail away. A split second later lightning slammed into the ground and I scrambled away as well. Never mind if I was corporeal at the moment, I was taking no chances.
When the lightning cleared I was amazed when I saw a man standing in the blackened crater of the strike. My jaw dropped. How the hell was he able to withstand that?
"What?" I asked as the cape slid from my numb hands to pool at my feet. The man turned to look at me, and the look was like a physical blow to the gut. The sounds of battle dimmed around us as if it was fading into the background. Perhaps it was.
His eyes were a piercing blue and intense as they seemed to lock onto my own. His blond hair cascaded over his shoulders and spilled onto the gleaming armor below. The armor was well crafted and plated, almost a silver hue. A blood red cape draped behind him. His face was all angles but it was rugged, manly. His lips pulled back in a smile and I noticed that his lips were firm and his teeth white, and a bit of blond stubble adorned his chin. I yanked my gaze back up to the piercing blue eyes, which hadn't left me yet.
"You have no place here, mortal."
"You can see me?" I asked in awe. He grinned boyishly and it was devastating. I couldn't think as I absorbed the absolute beauty of the man in front of me.
"You are no soldier. Go home." It was the condescending tone that had my shoulders straightening and the familiar pride fueling my temper.
"You're right, I'm not a soldier yet." I flipped my hair over my hair and sent him a haughty glare, a symptom of too much time with Grace. "But I damn well will be."
He laughed long and hard and the sounds of battle swarmed us again, but he just grinned at me and lifted his hand into the air. A silver hammer flew towards him and as he caught it, a crack of thunder boomed across the battlefield. He said nothing else as he leapt forward, swinging his hammer into the skull of one of Ares' attendants. Around him the air crackled with energy and I realized he was somehow manipulating the lightning. This meant he had to be at least a high ranking attendant. But that was unlikely.
He had to be a god to be able to see me and wield the amount of power he did. Perhaps it was Odin, maybe it was someone else. But I was probably lucky I'd amused him and that he'd chosen the battle over continuing to speak with me. Ares was enough of an enigma and enough stress on trying to figure out. I didn't need another god to attempt to befriend.
I more or less heard a lull in battle around me and I looked to the blond haired man/god or whatever he was, only to see Ares standing in front of him, a smirk on his dark features.
"Ares! Finally you appear. I was beginning to think that you would let your army do all the fighting for you."
I looked between both men, moving to get a better view of them. I shuddered as I moved through men and deadly blades. I wasn't used to this ghost thing. However I wanted to see the blond and Ares. The warrior part of me knew this was going to be a fight.
Of course, I might be a warrior in training, but I was most definitely female. I eyed the two men as I got close, marveling in their perfect beauty. Ares was dark and handsome. He was mysterious and lethal, a wild cat stalking its prey right before it leaps for the kill. The blond was relaxed but beautiful in an angelic sense. He was bright and vibrant, a direct contrast to Ares. He was approachable and affable, but behind that grin there was power. There was confidence without the sharp arrogance of Ares.
"Maybe you have forgotten our last battle, Thor, but I assure you I haven't." It wasn't a veiled challenge, it was direct and was definitely Ares' style. This meant Thor had to be a god. Ares wouldn't play with anything less.
"A fluke, oh great Ares. Care to go against Mjölnir one more time?" he asked as he lifted his hammer. That had to be Mjölnir.
Thor was playful in his taunt, but not as intense. It seemed like he was challenging Ares to a bar game or something jovial and unimportant, not a fight to the death. However, I could feel the energy build and felt the hair on my arms and neck stand from the pressure. Thor was serious. His tone may have been light but the killing intent was there.
Thor struck first, lightning slamming down where Ares stood. Ares was in motion before the lightning even struck, his sword drawn as he sliced at Thor's side. It was easily deflected by Thor. Quickly the battle ramped up, their speed increasing with the attacks of their weapons, until it stopped at a level far above my own abilities. If I had thought Achilles was amazing before, I had been mistaken. This was beautiful. As the two men fought I felt my heart thump painfully at the sheer perfection of the battle. The perfect slice from Ares, the perfect block and twist from Thor. Every stroke was where it should have been, the right strength and speed behind it.
With a wild laugh Thor slammed Mjölnir into the ground and a loud crack of thunder was the only warning before the earth buckled and blew away from the slam. Around me soldiers were either blown away or leapt away, giving the two perfect warriors a spot to battle. Ares smirked at the display and the red haze appeared right before he attacked with his sword. But this time, it was different. The very air howled around his strikes, whipping into Thor with a ferocity that cut into the cape he wore. His armor unaffected, Thor laughed in delight as Mjölnir began to glow a neon blue and small sparks crackled around the weapon. It slammed into Ares' sword and lightning arced and crashed around them as the very air screamed and howled. The earth shook with the force of their attacks and crumbled around me.
I could do nothing but watch in awe as they tore the earth around them by the power of their strikes.
Ares had been a man before, a slight semblance of a god. But here in this moment he was a true god. He was terror, he was power, he was perfection. They were both perfection. I felt the shudder of the earth, heard the howling wind, and felt the power of the lightning even as far away as I was. These were gods. They were to be feared. Ares' eyes were alight with the thrill of battle, his smirk almost a grin as he relished in the intensity of the battle. This was the true Ares. This was the true side of the god I'd come to know. He was intense, he was alive, he was enjoying every second of the fight. He had no care for the blood on him, no care that he could be hurt, only caring of the thrill as his sword clashed with Mjölnir.
They came together in a ferocious blow, lightning striking the ground and sparking around Ares. Ares' blood red haze was now fully enveloping even his weapon and the air burst as he slammed his sword against Mjölnir was brutal. For the split second they came together, I saw Ares' eyes. His eyes were dark, intense, but so goddamn alive. I never had seen him like this.
In this moment of the clash of brutal power, I wanted Ares. Those eyes drew me, the wild, triumphant grin melted me, and his power intoxicated me. I wanted him as he was in this exact moment with a ferocity I'd never felt before.
And when they drew apart to fight once more, the world began to blur around me. I was being pulled out of the memory, but I wanted to stay. I wanted this Ares. I wanted to see him in battle. I craved Battle Ares like no other and I was afraid I would never see him again. When everything righted, I was back in the circle of Ares' arms.
"Do you see?" he asked. I couldn't answer. The memory of Battle Ares was imprinted and replaying in my mind. That split second I couldn't seem to shake. "Eveleen?" I tried to shake the memory of the battle and focus on the Ares leaning over me, but they seemed to meld. I could see how his eyes would be alive, even if they weren't at the moment. I felt the muscles encircling me and knew their strength. I could see that wild grin.
"Yes." I breathed the word out, forcing my gaze to fall to his chest.
"What did you see?" he asked me, not moving me from the circle of his arms. He kept me close and trapped against him but his hold on me was gentle. I breathed out and tried to focus on leashing the sudden whip of desire.
"Death," I answered honestly.
"What did you feel?"
"Terror." I was honest because I would give Ares nothing less. "Then I saw Achilles and Ajax. They were beautiful together. After that, I felt that battle was more than fear. It was about honor and pride." I couldn't exactly explain the moment it had all changed and perhaps I didn't want to. That may have been Ares' memory, but the moment of Achilles' loud cry would be etched in my mind forever.
"If you did not feel terror you did not understand the true extent of war. War is about overcoming weakness and showing strength. It is overcoming your fear. Rising to the challenge. Only the best can shed their mortality to fight and that is why I only take the best."
I let myself fall silent as I digested what I had seen and experienced in Ares' memories. It was a lot to sort out and go through and I wasn't sure if I could rise to the challenge of something like this. I looked out to the army below us.
"Maybe I'm not cut out for a war like that. I think I might die."
"The warriors in this battle do not die." I turned back to Ares, a confused expression on my face. "When we fight against another Pantheon, our warriors do indeed die, but their bodies are flashed away and regenerated elsewhere. They do not return to battle. This way we keep our attendants and still have our own fun." I shook my head at the smirk on his face and turned back once again to the army below us. I heard the cry of the blackbirds and saw them circling over the armies. Watching them I was reminded of the death, blood, and carnage of battle, but it did not terrify me as much as it had earlier.
"Odin comes. Now we fight again." I turned back to Ares just as his my world shimmered and for a moment, I thought he had severed our connection. But it only rippled and shimmered before righting itself back in the dream. He must have gotten truly distracted to let our connection almost break.
"Ares?" I asked, unsure of exactly what was going on.
He turned back to me and this time, it wasn't Impassive Ares, or Amused Ares. It was the Ares I had just recently seen: Battle Ares. His eyes were swirling and molten, drawing me in as I felt his anticipation. His smirk was a half feral grin and wolfish smirk but it was the way he was turning them straight at me that was my undoing. Nothing had speared me so deeply, aroused me so quickly, as Ares looking at me with those eyes and that smile. I couldn't tear my gaze away. I couldn't hide the desire in my eyes. I couldn't stop my mouth from opening or my tongue moistening my lips.
Let him know I wanted him. I didn't care. His eyes widened in surprise, probably seeing the desire. Instead of waiting for him, it was my turn now.
I pulled on his vest and yanked his lips down to mine, immediately putting my hands in his hair to anchor him down to me. I kissed him with the passion I had felt from watching Battle Ares, giving him everything I had felt. I watched his eyes and they were surprised; I had caught the great Ares off guard. But I sure as hell wasn't going to stop until I was ready.
I felt when he finally relaxed into the kiss, but it wasn't in Ares' nature to let someone else have control. He also wasn't one to be passive. One hand snaked around my waist and slammed me against his hard body while the other held my head as I held his own.
"This is how you fucking do it," he growled at me as he pulled away for a single second. Then he kissed me again, this time opening his mouth to bite at my lower lip. When I gasped at the sensation he swept inside and truly kissed me with such passion my knees gave out. Again and again he slanted his mouth over mine and again and again I kissed him back. Those molten eyes were haunting me and I was drowning in the memory.
He picked me up suddenly and all but threw me down. I braced for the impact of the snowy ground but instead I landed on something soft and silky. I broke away to look but even then, Ares didn't stop. He kissed my neck, my jaw, lavishing attention to my shoulders. Though distracted I realized I was in a bed. A lavish bed of blood red. But with Ares showering attention to every sensitive spot I possessed on my neck, my attention turned back to the sinful pleasure of his lips on my bare skin.
The only thing I knew is that I wanted Ares to kiss me again.
Using the hold on his hair I pulled him back up to my mouth and moaned when he kissed me again, his tongue easily sweeping inside. He shifted me until my legs were on either side of his hips and he rolled against me once. My entire body shuddered and his husky laugh was enough to have me whimper again. I felt his desire against the inside of my thigh, brushing against my most sensitive part, and knew I wasn't the only one affected. I brought the great Ares enough pleasure for him to even be aroused.
I opened my eyes again and when I met them, I saw the same eyes as I had in the battlefield. They were alive, sparking and intense, and beautifully dark. All for me. Everything for a mere mortal. If I wasn't drunk on pleasure before, knowing he wanted me brought me to the point of no return.
My hands moved before I could even finish the thought and they yanked his vest down over his shoulders, moving quickly to feel the warm skin and rippling muscles of his shoulders. To my surprise, he lifted himself slightly and yanked the rest of the vest off himself, letting it fall to his waist before pressing his body against mine once again. I moaned in satisfaction as my hands rapidly moved against him, as if trying to memorize everything before it disappeared. My nails dug into his back when he rolled his hips again and he hissed once. Thinking I'd done something wrong I went to pull back from the kiss, but instead he yanked the shirt I'd been wearing up to reveal my bra and bare stomach.
It was going far too fast for me, but I was drowning in sensation and the rational part of my mind was silenced by the lusty female side. Even when he took one hand and yanked my bra down, baring everything to his gaze, I could do nothing but let him continue.
"Eveleen," he growled out as he looked at me. Quickly he leaned down and took a breast into his mouth and I nearly came off the bed with a loud cry.
"This is what a god can do, Eveleen. I will ruin you for mortal men."
His eyes were dark as they watched me, his lips caressing my sensitive nipple, and too late I felt his hand slip down into my pants. Perhaps if I'd known what he was going to do I might have stopped him. But when he easily slid a finger inside, I was lost again. Suddenly, I felt magic arcing from him and when I lifted my head to see what he was doing, a jolt of fierce pleasure coursed through my body. It was pure sensation and every inch of my body felt the jolt. Only a second later I felt the familiar heat spiral and my body clamping down over the finger inside me.
"Look at me," he commanded. I could do nothing but obey that velvet, purring voice. My eyes went to his, those swirling, intense eyes of Battle Ares as I went over the edge. My body fractured and I cried out in wordless surrender, my vision blurring even as I looked into the eyes of the god of war. I didn't know how long the waves cascaded over me but once I came back to myself, I saw Ares. He still watched me with those dark yet alive eyes and my body shuddered once in memory.
"W…what?" I managed to ask. I felt his finger leave me but when he brought it to his lips, I blushed ferociously. Never mind that I was half naked and had literally just had the orgasm of my life, he was about to, oh god, he was doing it!
"Now, Eveleen." Oh the way my name rolled off his lips. "What was that about?" I opened my mouth to answer but nothing emerged. He chuckled at the way I floundered for words and leaned down to kiss me once again. It was chaste but still carried an impact. "Tell me."
"Your eyes," I murmured.
Eloquence, thy name is Eveleen.
"Yes." I refused to say anything more on the subject and looked away from him, much to his amusement.
"Something in my memories caused you to act like this?" he asked, already knowing the answer. "Interesting." He was silent a moment, then surprised me yet again by moving my bra to cover my exposed chest. He trailed a single finger between my breasts and up to the shirt bundled around my neck, which he pulled down next. I turned back to him, unable to ask him why, but when he met my eyes he saw the question anyway. "Now is not the time. When I take you, you will not feel regret afterwards. You will want me again and there will be no shame from you."
"You know me too well," I finally managed to tease at him.
"A true reward is worth the challenge," he said simply before rolling to the side. I all but goggled at him and he smirked at me incredulous expression.
"You are so full of it. The reward isn't worth the effort, now it's worth the challenge. You make no sense!" He chuckled at me and I glared. He could actually not find me amusing for once and try actually having a conversation. Seriously.
"I have made a vow that I will have you one day, Eveleen. I will have you as I want you, not before."
"You arrogant little shit!" I swore as I came off the bed, my fist already swinging at him. Like always, he caught it easily but rolled away once, causing me to tumble after him until I eventually landed on top of him, straddling his bare stomach. "I can't believe I let myself even think of doing anything with you!" I was too angry to really notice the muscles beneath me or the fact he was still shirtless, so the redness on my face was purely from the force of my temper.
"Temper becomes you, mortal." I growled and tried to yank my hand away so I could punch him again and he smirked but easily held me still.
"Be damned, Ares!" Instead of instigating me or even harassing me to see more of my temper, Ares did something unexpected yet again. He smiled. The sight was so rare I immediately stopped trying to wrestle my hands away from his and just gawked at him.
"You are amusing, mortal. Different than the others, but amusing." The smile gentled his face and he looked human again. He was still blindingly beautiful, but he seemed more approachable, more familiar to me than the god Ares. Here was my Dream Ares.
"Whatever," I huffed as my anger drained from me. He let my hands go and I crossed my arms over my chest and looked away.
"Unfortunately, mortal, I need to get back to my army. It seems the Norse are moving as we speak." I quickly got off of him and scrambled off the bed, trying hard not to look at his bare chest as he stood.
Needless to say, I failed.
He knew I was watching him but he said nothing nor did he try to cover himself. Instead he waved his hand and his belt and sword appeared around his waist. Then he looked to me with a smirk. It wasn't a condescending usual Ares smirk. It was a sort of softer one, a possessive one. A happy smirk. It made no sense, but that's what it was.
"Ares," I murmured seriously. He quirked an eyebrow at me, which was Ares speak to continue. "No matter how angry I make you or you make me, promise me that we won't use what happened here as a weapon. If you do, we're done. I mean it." The force of my words must have gotten through to him because the smirk fell and he walked over to me, grabbing my chin and yanking it up to his level.
"Do you think so little of me?" he asked, no emotion in his tone.
"It's not that I don't think little of you. I just don't know you." At my honest admission he was silent. "I heard that mortals are amusement for the gods. Maybe you'll tell someone what happened. Maybe you'll brag about it. I don't know. I barely know you. For anything to even start with us, I have to know you."
"I thought you had forsaken me because I fucked Aphrodite." Those words were like a bucket of cold water and I yanked myself away from him. I felt a horrible pain in my chest as my body chilled.
I had completely forgotten that little tidbit of information and it tore through me with a new vengeance. I raked a hand through my hair in agitation as my rational mind screamed at me, telling me how stupid I had just been in allowing this to happen. He was fucking someone's wife! Even Morpheus had warned me about getting it on with Ares, and what had I done? Fallen into bed with him – literally – without caring of the consequences. I felt tears begin to build behind my eyes and I blinked furiously.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
"Eveleen." The tone was full of power and command but I didn't turn around.
"You're right. I shouldn't have done what I did." Gods I was just a fool. A hypocrite. I had thought I would be able to say no when the time came, but here I was after the best goddamn orgasm of my life. I was with the man who I'd sworn I would never be with.
"Cease this." I bit down on the knuckles of my right hand to try to distract myself from the moisture that kept building. Hands landed on my arms and whirled me around to face Ares. I immediately looked away and tried to turn from him, but the red haze flared and I was forced against the wall. He held me easily and I let him, knowing there was no way I could fight him or get him off of me until he was ready to leave.
"Let me go."
"No." He forced me to look at him and drew back slightly when he saw tears streaming down my cheeks. "Why are you crying?"
"I'm so goddamned weak, that's why."
"If you were that weak, mortal, I would want nothing to do with you. Every single mortal has moments of weakness, but even then that does not make them weak. Cease this."
"I'm a hypocrite." He growled in frustration as the tears fell even harder.
"Eveleen." He shook me once. "You stupid mortal. I swear that when I am with you, it will only be with you. That was your rule, yes?" He shook me again. "Train so that you will be worthy enough to be with me." My surprise turned immediately into anger.
"I'll train because I want to be strong, not so that I can be worthy of you!"
"Good." Belatedly I realized I was no longer crying. Clever god. "Train well, Eveleen. I will look forward to your progress when I return."
"I will," I murmured. He swooped down for one more kiss, lingering for a few moments before pulling away. With that, the world shimmered once again and turned to blackness. He was gone.
But even in the darkness, I did not wake. Strange. Normally I'd wake up or go drift back to my normal dreams by this point.
"Moooortal," a voice called out, echoing around me. The darkness swirled back from my eyes and I flinched as I saw familiar dark eyes looking back at me.
Oh. That's why.
"Morpheus," I murmured. I felt a fission of nervousness, but I still instinctively trusted Morpheus not to do anything. I just didn't know him well enough for there to truly be no nerves. Plus, he always had to use the dark. Why couldn't he appear in a girl's dreams normally? "Because mortal, that would be no fun. And poor Morpheus only gets to visit someone in their tiny dreams. Do you begrudge me for wanting a bit of play time?"
"I hate how you guys can read minds." His laugh was more like a low purr, but unlike Ares, I didn't find it sensual in the least.
"Perhaps, mortal, but I was not the one having those dreams about Ares."
I blushed at the mention of what just happened. "Ares was there," I muttered. "Blame him." Now the purr became a full laugh.
"Oh, mortal! So unbelieving of Ares coming to dreamwalk, but now you don't believe Ares isn't dreamwalking with you?"
"What?" I asked, disconcerted. He wasn't alluding to what I thought he was…was he? "But…"
"Silly little girl. Ares was only with you for half of that dream. He broke it off when Odin moved in on his position. Your mind filled in the rest."
"No." My mind filled with dread.
"Oh yes." My heart dropped to my stomach.
"No, no no." My face lost its color.
"I told you I looked forward to these dreams, did I not? You do indeed have a very interesting subconscious." He stroked from my ear to my chin and I shivered with nerves. "Even so, you tried to convince yourself not to be with him because of Aphrodite. Interesting, mortal. You lose everything with him but not your voice of reason."
"I shouldn't be with him. It will put me in danger."
"Oh yes, mortal. Plenty of danger." I felt him playing with a strand of my hair but the eyes kept impassive. There was no desire in them, only a sense of amusement. He was having fun, but he was here warning me. Something about Morpheus this time made me think of my friend Puck. With that thought, the nerves disappeared as if they'd never been.
"It's harder than I thought," I admitted.
"Honesty. It's refreshing mortal." I felt him grasp more hair of mine and string his fingers through it. "Some mortals try to lie. It's useless. I know your dreams. I am Oneiroi."
"What exactly is an Oneiroi?" I asked cautiously.
"I am the god of dreams as you well know. I am Morpheus. I know every mortal's dreams and can dreamwalk in them as I will. I bring messages from the gods when they wish me to."
"Are you here bringing me a message from a god?" He purred again, his version of laughter.
"No, mortal. I am here because I am a son of Gaia. She favors you, mortal, and you have given her everything in your training. I see that you care for my mother as well."
"Is that why you're helping me?"
"Is it not enough?" he countered, the eyes crinkling in amusement.
"I suppose it is."
"You know attraction to the great god of war is not something you should have, silly mortal."
"I know," I murmured, looking away from his eyes. I felt my hair drop back to my shoulder and cold fingers pull up my chin to meet his eyes once again.
"You are mortal, he is a god. None have withstood against Ares when he has wanted them, and none for this long." One finger stroked my chin. "Something draws you to him."
I was quiet for a moment and watched the black eyes across from me. Morpheus didn't have to help me but here he was, dreamwalking to bring me yet another warning. I felt that I could trust him with my secrets. "Everything draws me to him."
"Ah, more honesty! Delightful, mortal. It is true. I felt this pull between you even in your dreams. For him to dreamwalk with you so early was surprising. I felt that I needed to warn the proud attendant of my mother's. Aphrodite will not be pleased to see Ares' attention stray. You think Camilla was angry? You have not seen an angry goddess."
"I plan not to," I replied dryly.
"But what he plan is seldom what we experience." The fingers squeezed my chin before dropping back to play my hair. Did this man have a hair fascination or something? "Aphrodite will not be pleased. She will attempt to make your life miserable. It is inevitable by this point. Even a god cannot hold out against Ares' forever and you are only mortal." I felt him swirling my hair around his fingers again, but the action was almost subconscious on his part. It didn't bother me; Puck liked to do some of the same things.
"I know now. I don't want to be with Ares if he's with Aphrodite, but I won't be able to hold out for much longer. I don't want to feel shame or regret, but I will want him regardless. I might grow to hate myself and I'd still want him." I sighed. "He was gone for seven days and I missed him. How attached am I?"
"Not as much as he'd like," Morpheus purred.
"Seriously, what is it with Olympus men and sex?" I heard him chuckle and he shook his head at me.
"It is not Olympian, it is all men. Other men do not have the fortitude to be as open about it." He tweaked my nose and I glared at him. "Do not worry about your attraction to Ares, mortal. You want him. Do not fight that; it will only hurt you more in the end. Instead, worry about Aphrodite. She will know eventually. Perhaps not soon, but she will know."
"What do I do?" I asked him, this time reaching out to him. I was surprised to feel a human chest underneath my palm. I didn't know what I expected, really, but his chest was just as cold as the fingers that had been on my chin. It was strange.
"Become strong," he said simply, and I felt him shrug. "Strong enough so that you can withstand what she throws at you. She cannot harm you herself, because Gaia would retaliate. Her attendants cannot openly harm you because not only would Gaia's attendants retaliate, but I'm sure your warrior friends would not back down from a challenge to one of their own. She will strike at you in the dark, when you least expect it. Become strong so that you can protect yourself when no one else is around."
"Is it wrong that I want him?" I asked, my voice serious as I asked the question that had been plaguing me for some time.
"No. It is not wrong. Your desires are not one-sided, mortal. A god such as Ares has his mortal females, but only few have ever caught as much attention from him as you. You do not think it, but you are special. You have an air of destiny about you, mortal. You are meant for things, though only the fates know what that truly is. But even a god of dreams knows destiny when he sees it."
"I suppose so." He was silent, merely watching me. "You're right, Morpheus. I want Ares." Even saying it was hard, but also somewhat liberating. "If it's true he broke off that dream and it was me who finished it, I'm farther gone than I thought. You won't tell him?" I asked.
"Oh no, mortal. That dream is for me and you alone." My cheeks colored. "I promise keep these types of dreams secret, silly mortal. You are delightfully innocent and amusing." At my glare, he laughed softly. "If you have need of an Oneiroi, call for me. I will hear you."
"Thank you, Morpheus."
"For a mortal who allows me to play with her hair without complaints and one who has very interesting dreams at night? It is a small allowance on my part."
"Oh shut up!" I growled at him, my cheeks flaming in embarrassment. "Men!"
"You mean gods, Eveleen," he purred as he leaned forward. I saw the hint of his face before he kissed my cheek and drew back to let the darkness shroud him again. "Keep making my mother happy. That is all I require in return." The tone was light but serious and I nodded.
"Of course I will."
"Until next time, mortal." I felt him leave me and slowly opened my eyes, only to find my vision blurred and my body exhausted. I groaned but knew immediately I wasn't going to be able to go back to sleep after this night.
Instead I stumbled out to the gardens and knelt by the small pool in the antechamber, looking down at my reflection. I had learned more than I cared to tonight, but Morpheus was right. I needed to become stronger. I had to become stronger to protect myself, to be able to become a true warrior, and to serve Gaia. Everyone needed strength from me, but right now my body ached and my mind was simply exhausted. I wasn't sure what 'air of destiny' I had around me but for now, all I could do was throw myself back into my training.
I had to become strong.
I had to.