I was amazed to learn that Ares had his own planet, not to mention that other planets actually existed! Well, I had known about the moon, of course, but never considered that there might be others out there. And besides, the moon looked so small in the sky. Surely it was too small to hold even one person! But Ares just smiled and assured me it was very large, almost as large as the one we lived on.

Ares moved closer and for some odd reason my heart sped up. Putting his arm around my shoulder, he pointed up at the night sky. One by one, he showed me the planets that belonged to the other Gods. Most were too far away for me to see, even from Olympus. But Aphrodite's planet was close by, a lovely swirl of green and blue. Hmmm... now why had I expected a pink planet for Dite? I asked Ares about this and he had said that Zeus wouldn't allow her to change the colors. The planets had already been there. Each major God had been given one. Some of the minor Gods had moons.

Then Ares did something totally unexpected. He asked if I wanted to go visit his planet!

I was shocked. For one, I had no idea what we would do there. Or what it would be like. But since I had come this far, I suppose I could go a bit farther. Holding my hand, Ares popped us onto this white trail in the night sky. I gasped, partly in fright and partly in awe. I seemed to be standing on a moving beam of light with nothing else around me but hundreds of twinkling stars. The stars were everywhere: above me, to the sides and under me. I clung to his hand as I took in this amazing sight. We passed through several white doorways, each supported by two white pillars. Ares explained that the doorways kept the trail together so it wouldn't fall apart. With these trails, one could visit any of the planets and the Gods often did.

Finally we grew close enough to his red planet. Passing through a final doorway, I found myself in another large room. I saw that Ares had a throne here, as well as an altar. The place looked very much like one of his temples: swords and other weapons on the walls, scenes of battle, the flickering torches, a few statues of himself.

Spotting a window, I peered out and saw a totally alien landscape. The thing that looked the strangest was that the sky was this funny red-orange. And so was the ground. There really wasn't that much to see actually, well, not in this spot anyway. Ares assured me some parts of his planet was totally incredible. He had built his temple in a flat, boring location. He also said I couldn't go outside because the air was not breathable to a mortal, but that I was safe enough inside.

Ares was busy doing something at the altar, so I moved to sit down in his chair. I couldn't understand why he had a temple in such a hostile place. No worshippers could leave him donations or supplications here and I doubted if there were any locals out there. Nothing could survive in the blowing dust and sand I had seen through the window. And the glass, when I had placed my hand against it for a second, had been ice cold! No, colder than ice. A person would freeze to death in seconds out there.

I wanted to understand what we were doing here, so I asked him. The answer surprised me. He said the planet was connected to his powers.

Of course, I didn't get it. I mean, wasn't the powers inside him? And didn't they come from drinking Ambrosia? What possibly could such a terrible place have to do with powers?

Ares turned and caught me sitting on his throne. I thought he would throw a fit, but to my surprise his just smiled at me. Actually, I was glad he didn't go ballistic because my legs were exhausted from standing on that white trail for what seemed like hours and hours. My calf muscles really ached and my feet didn't feel any better. Somehow it was far easier to walk all day then to stand in one spot! Go figure. Anyway, Ares walked over and perched on the arm of his throne, looking down at me.

He explained that part of a God's power did come from the Ambrosia, but part of it also came from his or her planet. It was like how the moon affected the ocean, that it caused the tides to move in and out. Now that he mentioned it, I had never thought about tides. They just existed, like trees or the grass. Well, I guess I thought Poseidon had something to do with them, since he was in charge of the ocean.

To back up his claim, Ares reminded me how the moon could affect people. I certainly knew Xena got crazy and nervous when there was a full moon! She was always jumpy and usually went hunting. I don't see why. I always thought the full moon was pretty. Hmm ... it must affect different people different ways.

So, to make a long story shorter, Ares said that when his red planet was close to Earth, his powers were at their height. Then he said something about the sun throwing off this energy and the energy made this wind. This in turn gave the Gods some of their powers. And since his planet was close by now, he was here collecting the extra powers where they collected in his temple. A God's powers were always at their height when his planet was close, or at its zenith. So maybe that explained that saying I had heard from Xena. She liked to say that when this red star was visible in the sky, war came. Could Xena's red star really be Ares' red planet? I were beginning to think they were the one and the same.

Since Ares had done what he needed to do, we headed back to Olympus. The sun was setting when we got back and I was too exhausted to eat anything at all, especially after another trip on that white ribbon! I fell into my bed and almost fell asleep. But before I passed into Morpheus Realm of Dreams, I knew one thing I could do to help Ares.

I would name the red planet after him, for no where in his long explanation did he ever say it had a name.


Bard of Olympus