Copper Coins

Debra Fran Baker

dfbaker@panix.com


Never had Ares felt the touch of a soul as pure as this. It caused feelings to stir within him, unfamiliar, painful but somehow necessary, as if he could no longer exist without them. He was a god, but he'd found something, someone greater. Could he be worthy?

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The God of War rose from the field of battle he called his bed with a smug grin. Discord, bruises already fading from her body, curled up among the cushions and furs and smiled back.

"Come back to bed, Ares. We're not finished...yet."

He clothed himself with a gesture and bent to kiss her. "Oh, yes, we are, my dear insatiable one."

She pouted. "But, Ares.."

He slapped her hard. Her eyes glazed and she hissed. "I said we were finished, and we *are*. If you want that to be permanent, just try my patience again." He strode out of his bedchamber, anger replacing all the satisfaction he'd felt moments before.

And right now, no amounts of chains and leather - no matter how enjoyable - could give him what he needed. If only he knew what that was.

Maybe he needed a good battle. Things had been quiet for a bit too long. That was it...he needed to see steel clash and blood flow. He needed to be among the messy and passionate minds of mortals in the throes of both victory and defeat. Xena and his thrice damned half-brother were keeping things too peaceful. Maybe he could stir up trouble some place.

He sat down in a comfortable chair and poured himself a cup of wine. Closing his eyes, he let his Sight wander around the mortals he knew the best, seeking out the places he knew were on the brink.

Ah...yes. Those two cities were always spoiling for a fight. The slightest thing could set them off. Right now, they were trying to resolve things peacefully - Hah! - with a sporting competition, and things were getting heated. Even spectators were calling for blood. He'd seen this before. Yes...

Now, how could he best intervene? The game used neutral marshals to keep things legal...perhaps if he interfered with their perceptions. Yes, that could make things interesting indeed.

Yes, nice and subtle. Nothing that would call the attention of either pair of troublemakers. Besides, the sporting event was a last ditch effort by the two kings to prevent all out fighting - the victor winning trade rights. They were on the edge as it was. The bad perceptions would only touch things off. Yes, very elegant indeed. Ares smiled, tossed off the rest of his wine and dropped to the stadium to see what was going on.

Unseen, he walked along the two sides of the arena, tasting the growing tension as the marshals made error after error, sometimes favoring one team, sometimes the other.

"Blind! You are blind!"

"If you're bribed, *stay* bribed!"

"He had the bladder legally!"

"He was off the field! Use your Tartarus-damned eyes!"

"He was on the field, Beaner!"

"Yowlker!"

"Use your own eyes!"

"My eyes? *You're* blind, *friend*. But maybe *this* will teach you