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No Way Out
The sun rose high over Treborworth Hills shining so brightly that Vannus couldn't help but squint her eyes as she stretched outside her cave after awakening from a nights sleep. She walked to the hill's edge and sat crossed legged peacefully admiring the view as every other morning. All looked in order, some of her dragons had already awoke and a few were gliding and circling over their territory. A smile grew on her face as she looked back on the time she spent the night before at the Cloaked Warriors' festival. A good time was had by all, which came as no surprise as GabXantia always knew how to throw a good feast, and Vannus' fire eating always went down a treat. It had been a while since their last festival, what with the amount of traveling she and her warriors had been on recently.
Vannus rose to her feet to start out the days plans. She had to head out to one of the nearby villages who she agreed to help out the day before. They had to transferring a large supply of wood from a forest quite far from them, which was needed to construct a local community hall and Vannus offered to help by using one of her dragons to carry the supplies over to them. She gathered her essentials, her spear, dagger and sling, put on her everyday black leather garment over her under clothes, and fastened the laces of her skirt at each hip. She walked again to the hills' edge and whistled out for Prolez who was circling around with his brothers. With a great swoop he gracefully came down, his great wing span displaying an awesome site of different shades of blue scales, with ease he landed beside her and greeted her good morning with a gentle cry releasing a small fireball up into the air, she imitated his cry in response. Out of all of her dragons she had a greater bond with Prolez. He was the youth in their clan and did not have much of a memory of his mother, Gosta- The Sun Dragon, as she was sadly killed by warriors shortly after his birth. So she always felt more so responsible and protective over him. He lowered his body nearer to the ground allowing her to place her saddle onto his back, she made sure it was secure for their big chore ahead. When finished Prolez waited still for her to straddle onto it, but Vannus patted him three times behind his ear for him to rise and stand. "I don't feel like flying just yet Prolez, I fancy a stroll this morning." What with living in Britannia Vannus always liked to take advantage of a beautiful day and the village Graenan wasn't that far. Vannus then signaled Prolez to follow her and they strolled off out of Treborworth Hills. At some points on their travel Prolez took to the sky as he felt more at home there.
On approaching Graenan, Vannus lost sight of Prolez and started to wonder were on earth he'd got to. Just outside the village she began to search the sky, there was still no sign and it didn't help matters having tall trees blocking her view. As she stood there gazing up into the sky she suddenly felt what seemed like the end of a whip lash out and entwine around her neck, out of nowhere. Before she knew it she was lifted up off the ground, the whip suspending her from one of the tree branches, the swift movement causing her to helplessly drop her spear. At that moment a figure what looked like a warrior jumped out from one of the trees, and quickly grabbed the dagger and sling from her belt, he then gazed at her hanging helplessly off the ground with a satisfying grin on his face.
"Hey come look, I captured her as requested!" He shouted out toward some bushes.
Vannus struggled as she tried too free herself but its grip on her was too tight. Looking down she saw a group of roughly ten warriors emerge out from the bushes. One of the more mature men stood out from the others, he had a much bigger build and wore a red sash around his arm. It was clear that this man was in charge of their mission as he approached the warrior and patted him on the back.
"Well done Aaron." He replied, looking over to Vannus his face showed an expression of content. "This is Vannus all right. Anyone else would be dead by now." He then turned to the others, "Now go and fetch our other captive, General Lyon will be most pleased with the result of our mission."
The name rang a bell, thought Vannus. But she couldn't quite remember where she'd heard it before. "What do you want of me?" The words struggled out of her mouth in a whisper.
"You'll find out soon enough, oh immortal one," He replied with a hint of sarcasm, "I'd much rather keep you in suspense in the meantime, it's one of the things I treasure most in my job, and I'm sure like anyone else you'd prefer me to save the best till last."
With that remark he burst into laughter and slapped Aaron on the back as he joined in. Their laughter stopped as the others rejoined them, they brought what looked like a huge metal cage on wheels pulled by four horses, and to Vannus' horror inside the cage was Prolez. His mouth had been securely bound shut with some sort of harness and clamp. Vannus couldn't understand how they had managed to imprison him without being burnt alive, until she notice he'd been wounded at the side of his neck. She felt a wave of anger come over her and struggled more so to free herself.
"What have you done to him!."
"I thought that was obvious." He replied and again began to chuckle. "Tie her up, and make sure she's blind folded." He instructed Aaron and one of the others.
"Yes, great Horan." They replied.
Aaron tied her ankles securely together before the other cut her down. She dropped hard onto the ground, once realizing she was released from the whip she tried to struggle away but it was no use Aaron sat on top of her as he tied her hands behind her back after which she was blind folded and slung over one of the horses' backs, which led the cage. Slumped over on her stomach and blinded from her surroundings she cried out to Prolez, hoping for some sort of response. There was none apart from movement from inside the cage, she then sensed someone walk towards her.
"It's no use trying to talk to your little friend. With that clamp around his mouth there's no hope for him to squeal an answer let alone any dragon breath." remarked Horan, she could then feel his breath on the back of her neck as he brought himself closer to her ear and lowered his voice. "I apologize for the blind fold, but you understand I couldn't allow you to see where we're about to take you."
"Apology not accepted." Vannus replied with sarcasm, Horan laughed. "You know I'd really like to see what you hope to gain out of this, you can't kill me and you can't torture me, any fool knows that!"
"Don't you worry about that, everything has been thought out to a perfect plan, I assure you we're no fools." Horan's voice was more distant now and she could hear the men begin to mount their horses. "Come, let us not waste any more time." With that Vannus felt the horse she was on canter off.
On arrival to their destination Vannus felt almost relieved, the journey seemed to last for hours. Not being able to see where they were she had to rely on her other senses, and the atmosphere. They seemed to be entering their campus it didn't seem like any ordinary campus, it definitely wasn't in the open air, and the smell of damp and echoing sounds were not that of a castle's it was more of a familiar ambience, more like a cave or tunnel of some sort. Once they stopped she could hear Horan give out more instructions.
"Aaron, Carlton you two come with me and lead them to see Lyon, the rest of you take the rest of the horses back to their stables, you're all dismissed."
They then began to move again, and she could hear what sounded like great doors opening, as they seemed to enter a room, then they stopped again.
"Ahh, Horan I see you've returned from your mission successfully."
Vannus heard the voice projecting from over the other side of the room, it wasn't quite as deep and rough as Horan's.
"Yes General Lyon I'm proud to say it was a great success, the village Graenan were most cooperative to request her presence after our little persuasion."
"So you were behind that! They didn't really need my help. What did you do to that village?"
"Not to worry, their cooperation was enough for us, well for the moment anyway." Horan replied amusingly.
"Good, good," continued Lyon, "help her off the horse won't you, let me take a look at her."
Vannus was pulled off the horse by two men, who she could only guess was Aaron and Carlton. As she stood there, ankles bound and hands still tied behind her back, she sensed someone walk in front of her and begin to untie her blind fold. Finally, Vannus thought to herself. In front of her stood a tall man in gallant armor, he seemed younger than Horan but his build was the same. He had the same red sash, except he wore one on each arm, being a lot closer to it than before she noticed it also had some sort of symbol on it, one of their identity perhaps. She glanced around the room it was quite large, the walls were almost covered with armor and tapestries, and to the far opposite end at the centre of the wall was what looked like a throne, belonging to him no doubt. She then looked to see Prolez to her left, still trapped but he seemed in stable condition.
"Well well, so this is Vannus." He said staring at her. "Horan!" He called. "Hand me your sword."
Horan obligingly handed his sword over to the man, who then briefly studied it's blade and glanced over to Vannus. Suddenly with one swift movement he thrusted the sword into her stomach.
"Amazing," he remarked, "no blood not even a shriek of pain." Vannus merely looked at him unamused. He then slowly drew the sword away from her and handed it back over to Horan.
"Yes it is quite impressive, General." Horan agreed as he retrieved his sword.
"Yes, well when you've quite finished entertaining yourselves." She said sarcastically.
"Allow me to introduce myself.." The man replied.
"Let me guess,You're General Lyon." Vannus interrupted.
"..Yes.." His face changed from a content expression to a hint of frustration as his eyebrows frowned, "I suppose your wondering what your doing here?"
"That thought did occur to me, yes."
"Ooh.." Lyon responded, "We've got quite a snappy one here I see." He continued, looking over to Horan. Horan smirked, nodding in agreement.
"Well the fact is," Lyon began as he turned and started to pace around the room, "you're here....you could say because we need your help..." He paused and glanced over to see her reaction. Vannus raised an eyebrow in disbelief at the cheek of his remark.
"Help! You probably don't even know what the word means. Just spit it out will you."
Lyon smiled to himself and carried on, "Very well, I, General Lyon, am in charge of an army consisting of seven hundred men in this region of Britannia. But I do not own the army or all of it's property for that matter. The owner of all of this is someone you may have heard of, especially as I hear you're an ally to GabXantia, his name is General Morton." He then sat in his throne and looked over to her.
Of course, thought Vannus that's why Lyons' name rang a bell, she remembered hearing GabXantia mention their names in her tales of her past, Morton's warriors ransacked her village and sold her as a slave. "So your one of Morton's men in command! "
"I am one of many yes, he has warriors all over Britannia each of them based at a hidden campus."
"I see." that explained the red sash and symbol, "But that doesn't explain why I'm here," stated Vannus.
"You're here because you have something that I want." Lyon rose from his throne and slowly paced towards Vannus as he continued. "I want your dragons, all of them and you are going to show me how to communicate with them..."
"Dream on, there's no way you'll have them, and there's no way you can force me to do anything."
"You have a habit of interrupting me, if you want me to explain why your here I suggest you keep quiet and let me finish, otherwise I shall have to gag you." Lyon paused glaring at her he raised an eyebrow for her to see reason, then continued. "I want your dragons not to join Morton but me and my army. You see Morton is getting on a bit now and he doesn't seem to understand the new demands of his warriors. He's too traditional with his work, and I feel that some younger blood is needed to take over and set things straight. Britannia is a small island and there's only so much a great army can do here, with your dragons we'll have the opportunity to expand our horizons, so to speak. Take on other lands and maybe even discover new ones."
Lyon spoke with great enthusiasm, his eyes widened picturing each thought. He then walked towards Prolez, who by now looked exhausted. The blood around his wound had dried out, but Vannus was still worried about it, his joints had to feel stiff being cramped in that cage, she thought.
"With the dragons on my side and under my command, Morton would not dare to stand up to me, and neither would any of his other generals." Lyon continued while admiring the beast.
"You still haven't explained how you plan to control me." Vannus reminded him.
"That victory will not be difficult to accomplish I assure you. I understand that you gained your immortality by the gods." Replied Lyon as he again approached Vannus with his arms folded.
"Yes that is true, the Mother Dragon, Gosta made a fair trade with them."
"Ahh yes," Lyon pondered rubbing his chin with one hand, "if I recall rightly you offered them one of your dragons which Ares took under his wing?"
"That is so, but that decision had nothing to do with me."
"Well whether it did or not is irrelevant, what is however is the fact that they gave you your immortality and they can easily take it away. Ares has already been informed of our intent and he is most enthusiastic about it. Today we shall summon his presence and ask for his well awaited contribution to our plan."A smile grew on Lyon's face as he watched Vannus' reaction.
"You can't do that, Ares wouldn't dare, it was Zeus' decision, he was the one who gave me immortality, therefore whether I'm mortal or not is down to him." Vannus began to feel insecure with the revealing of their plan, she wasn't sure what Ares would do.
"Have you ever known Ares not to cross his father?" Lyon reminded her. Vannus was speechless. At that point she heard a roar of laughter coming from Horan.
"That shut her up, General. I told you we'd save the best till last!" He exclaimed looking over at both of them.
"Yes, I think we know where we stand now," Lyon starred into Vannus' eyes, his voice taking on a more serious tone, "after your immortality is taken away you will teach me everything you know, and then?.. well.. we'll see, depending on how cooperative you are." Lyon then moved towards the others. "You two take them both to the dungeon, then return with a few of the slaves. We have the altar to prepare to summon Ares."
Aaron and Carlton then, picked Vannus up and once again slung her over one of the horses.
As soon as they reached the dungeons Vannus was taken off the horse and Aaron instructed one of the guards to lead the horses into one of the larger dungeons, it was convenient for them that Prolez was small enough to fit inside their hideout. Meanwhile Aaron and Carlton dragged Vannus behind them and chained her arms and legs to the wall. Aaron then instructed Carlton to take the horses back to the stables.
"So tell me Aaron, what does Lyon plan to do with me exactly after I surrender to his plan?" Vannus asked, hoping to gain a straight answer.
"I wouldn't know for sure, but I doubt you'd be much use to him. Once he's got what he wants out of something he usually disposes of it, if you know what I mean." Aaron moved closer towards her with a smile on his face, raising his hand to touch her chin, "It's a shame really, waste not want not I always say."
Vannus jerked her face away from his hand, Aaron laughed and with that he left the dungeon with the guard. Vannus looked over to Prolez slumped in his cage, his head now resting on his front legs, his eyes looking droopy, the clamp on his mouth must have been becoming a strain on him. The more she looked at him the more angry she became. They should have stuck together, she thought. In the sky there could have been a chance where she would have caught them off guard. What was she to do now? Even if at one key moment she had the chance to fight her way out to freedom, how could she save Prolez? Time passed as Vannus pondered on her situation and her expectations of Ares.
It wasn't long before Carlton entered the dungeon with three other guards. He briefly studied Prolez, as to check whether he was a threat, and then walked over to Vannus.
"The altar has been prepared," he informed her, "and it is now time for you to meet your maker."
My maker?! thought Vannus. The remark almost caused her to burst out laughing at the fool. The guards cuffed and chained her feet, and then her wrists. They then lead her out of the dungeons, leaving Prolez behind, and took her back to the main hall. Upon entering the room, Vannus immediately noticed the overwhelming display of armor in respect to the God of War, around the throne. Lyon was bent down on one knee with his head bowed down, Horan waited by the doors. The noise of them entering caused Lyon to turn his head and rise up.
"Nice of you to join us," Lyon walked towards her with a smile of ambition, "you're just in time for our Lord's presence."
"I can't wait," mocked Vannus.
Lyon turned away, unimpressed by her remark and regained his position at the altar, this time Horan joined him. The three guards and Carlton remained at either side of Vannus and waited. She then heard Lyon murmur a few words, then he and the others drew their swords and held them upright, as a salute. A flash of light appeared, and there in front of them was Ares slouched on the throne.
"We humbly welcome you, Lord Ares," Lyon greeted the god.
Ares eye caught the display of armor and rose to his feet. "Nice work men, very impressive, although some wine wouldn't go a miss." He teased.
Vannus was almost in shock, it had been a long time since she was last in the presence of the God of War. She shook herself inside to think rationally and do something quick. Although her ankles and feet were chained, fortunately she had enough leeway this time for movement. Swiftly she elbowed both guards either side of her, drew one of their swords and threw it over her shoulder in one quick movement. She then back flipped away from the rest of them and retrieved the sword from the ground.
"Back off, I'm warning you!"
"Give it up, Vannus. There's nothing you can do to get out of this now." Lyon gestured towards Ares.
"Ah my dear, Vannus. Long time no see. I notice you haven't forgotten how to use those skills of yours." Ares face was intrigued by the sight.
"Yes, they come in pretty handy. I shouldn't complain really but I only wish I learnt them from someone more noble."
"So it is true," Lyon intervened, "You did teach her everything she knows." Ares turned to him and sighed in frustration to his remark,
"Yes, but understand it wasn't voluntary. Zeus requested it, if I wanted to keep her dragon."
Lyon looked at Ares with a puzzled expression, "I see..." He replied. "Would it be possible for you to disarm her so that we may carry out the task at hand?"
Ares turned with arms folded, to face towards Vannus and lazily waved his hand. The sword shot out of her hands and darted into the wall.
"Guards, take her back to the dungeon," Lyon ordered, "I have run out of patience with her time wasting."
Promptly the guards took Vannus by each arm and escorted her out of the room.
"So.." Ares returned to sit on the throne, "let me get this straight, I hear you plan to use Vannus' dragons to take on General Morton."
"That is correct, my Lord."
"General Mortan has served me well in the past, it would be a shame to see him go." Pondered Ares.
"We feel it is about time some new blood took over the armies, my Lord, to bring it to new heights. And with the dragons on our side there is no stopping us."
"You seem to have everything worked out. What is it you want of me exactly?" Ares eyes glared at Lyon.
"As you noticed earlier, Vannus needs a little persuasion into the matter. I want her to teach me everything she knows about the dragons and how to communicate with them. If you were to take away her immortality she would be a lot more susceptible, and willing to cooperate."
"Don't you think taking away her immortality is a little drastic, I'm a god, I could easily persuade her, mortal or not."
"Yes, I understand," Lyon began to worry this wasn't going to be as easy as he'd predicted, "but we feel that, if she were to remain immortal, or alive for that matter, she would continuously be of threat to our plans."
"I see, so you plan on me taking away her immortality, and when your done with her you're going to kill her..." Ares paused in thought, stroking his chin while resting his elbow on the arm of the throne. Lyon watched him in anticipation.
"You do understand if I were to follow through with such a plan, some of the other gods wouldn't be too happy about it, above all Zeus." Ares noticed how anxious Lyon had become and was enjoying every minute.
"Of course my Lord, but the God of War is known for his moral independence from the other gods, and we believed our request would not prove to be of any challenge to you."
"I suppose it would be quite something to see those dragons in true action, all that peace with man stuff seems such a waste." Ares then rose to his feet. He'd more or less decided to go along with the plan, but he preferred to keep them guessing a little longer. He didn't want word to get around that it would be easy to ask the God of War for a favour.
"I shall take the matter into further consideration. Who knows, I might decide to take on a few of the little fire breathers myself." He remarked with a wide grin, and then vanished.
Vannus found herself once again chained to the dungeon wall, opposite Prolez. She felt so pathetic. Here I am, she thought, an immortal trapped in a dungeon with a dragon! If I wasn't all chained up I could take on all of the bastards. She became lost in her thoughts when all of a sudden she saw a flash of light appear in front of her.
"Ares, you took your time, for a moment I thought you weren't going to bother?" She remarked as she flashed a false smile to the god.
"As if I wouldn't," he implied as though he was almost offended, "as I said before, it's been a long time since our last get together."
"If that's what you'd prefer to call it." She replied almost under her breath. "...Yes it's true it has been a long time, so much so, if I weren't immortal I'd be dead by now from very, very old age."
Ares began to walk up to where Vannus stood helplessly. "It's a good thing you are then." Once standing close enough he stopped, his gaze soaked in the sight of her, "I almost forgot how good you look, not bad considering the treatment you've been under."
Vannus rolled her eyes, "Yes, well as were on the subject of my treatment, I suppose this was partly your idea."
"As surprising as it may seem, I had nothing to do with it, but you gotta admit," Ares folded his arms while admiring his surroundings, then gazed back at Vannus, "it's not a bad plan."
"So your going to go along with it ," Vannus frowned, "you're going to just forget our bargain and help kill me off?"
"Hey, easy there," Ares answered with a reassuring face, "I didn't say anything about you getting killed."
"Don't lie to me, Ares," her eyes narrowed, "I know they plan to kill me once they get what they want."
"That's all down to you."
"What do you mean?" she asked raising an eyebrow.
"If you and your morals remain a threat to them, then you will undoubtedly be killed but..." he raised his hand and slowly moved away a strand of dark hair from her face, "If you were to become their ally and instead help them voluntarily..."
"Never!" Vannus' eyes widened at the cheek of his request. "Has your long absence caused you to forget why all of these dragons are my responsibility, and why I am what I am!?"
"My dear Vannus," Ares answered in a calming voice, "you do not fool me. After all these years you have grown tired of being isolated from the human world." He took her chin to his finger tips and looked deep into her dark almond eyes. "You're left feeling alone day after day, longing for companionship, letting ignorant fools treat you with disrespect all for the sake of keeping the peace. You did not choose this life...it was forced upon you and as a result of that there's resentment buried deep inside of you. I can sense it. There is hidden anger there, anger towards Gosta."
"Leave Gosta out of this!" Vannus jerked her face away from his fingers. "She took care of me, if she hadn't found me in the forest when I was younger I would have died a long time ago. I will not have you speak of her, her death was..." Vannus tried to contain her emotions, "...upsetting for all of us." She then looked back at him, his gaze was still locked onto her.
"Even so, you cannot deny your emotions." Ares paused, his stare was almost hypnotic, so much so that she almost lost herself in the moment and forgot why she found herself opposite him. "That anger you hold deep inside you can be used to take you into a whole new world, a world of greatness and power. And believe me there would be no threat of your dragons becoming extinct."
"The only anger I have right now is the fact that I'm stuck in here." Vannus replied sternly. "I may not have initially chosen this life but it's become who I am, and I do not choose to change that, the dragons are my family and I will not have them taken away from me." Ares backed away from Vannus,
"Well, if you don't want that to happen then I suggest you change your attitude, because right now the way I see it, there's no chance of you keeping them unless you decide to join us."
He then turned and walked over to look at Prolez. "My.. he has grown into quite a beast, hasn't he?" he commented admiring the dragon.
"You don't actually believe that they're going to follow your orders once you've been of service to them, do you?" Vannus was determined not to let him leave the dungeon, until things turned more towards her favour.
"What do you mean?" Ares raised a questioning eyebrow while turning to face her.
"Don't you see they're only using you?"
Ares merely laughed at her, "use me? The God Of War? My dear, I think you've been cooped up in this dungeon for too long"
"Think about it, Lyon wants to take over Morton's army because he's tired of taking orders." Ares folded his arms looking very much unconvinced. "With my dragons he'll be able to travel to other lands with his army in no time at all. It will serve as a great advantage to him, he would have his men spread out everywhere conquering all in his path, coming and going as he pleased. Don't you see he plans to take over the world, he would have no interest or need for other allies, least of all any of your armies." Vannus began to feel she was finally making sense to him. It was obvious by Ares' expression that he suddenly realized Lyon had not been completely honest with him. "Just think about all your efforts to build some of your greatest armies, they will all be destroyed before you know it. The whole of Greece and everywhere else would be destroyed! And what's more so will you."
"I haven't got time to listen to this nonsense, you obviously underestimate my power." His gesture made it clear that he was about to leave. Vannus had to think quick.
"I remember hearing you lost your godhood once."
"Oh really, how did you come to know that?"
"I don't always spend my time in Britannia you know, I like to keep up with the goings on."
"Why do you bring that up? It has no relevance now, and there's no way you could be suggesting that Lyon plans to take that away from me." Ares temperament grew impatient.
"And from what others said," she continued, "you didn't take to being a mortal too well."
"Get to the point." Ares frowned, and walked towards her once more.
"If you take away my immortality you will have crossed paths with Zeus."
"Yes, I already know that." Ares intervened ,"but I hardly think he'd be that bothered about it, now that Gosta's no longer around, and a long time has passed since our bargaining."
"That may be so, but if you consider all of the consequences involved and the amount of destruction that lies ahead I think he would be most troubled, especially if you were to be finding it difficult in keeping authority." Vannus carefully studied Ares' reaction. It was apparent to her that he was taking all she said into consideration as he stared to the ground with a thoughtful frown. He rested his arm on his scabbard, with his other hand stroking his chin. He then glanced over to Prolez and looked back to Vannus with an expression of discontent.
"You understand I cannot take your word for it that all you've suggested is to become so. However that doesn't mean that I won't take note of it, not to mention keeping an eye on Lyon." He once again backed away from Vannus and vanished from sight.
Lyon sat in his throne anxiously, while Horan spoke of the daily news from the other campuses. It had been a few hours now and the god mentioned nothing about how long he'd be before his return.
"...And General Tyler's army has successfully conquered Charlesworth, a town far north of the island. He currently awaits recent news of our mission."
"Yes, yes that's all well and good but right now I've been awaiting news of much more importance for some time now, and as a result I beginning to work up an appetite. Go tell the guards to call the slaves. I want food brought to my table."
"Of course, General." Horan bowed his head, turned then walked towards the hall's entrance to call the guards. It was at that point they were unaware that Ares had appeared in the room to watch over them. He stood to the left of Lyon's throne, with his arms folded glaring at him, awaiting to here what he was really up to. Horan then returned from instructing the guards. "Your meal is on it's way soon, General."
"Good," Lyon sighed, "I do hope you're going to join me. Who knows, it may turn out to be one of great many feasts. And I do hate to be watched while I eat."
A smile filled Ares' face. Little did he know he'd have no choice but to be watched.
"Certainly. With pleasure, General." Horan obliged.
"I do wish he'd hurry and return. Valuable time is being wasted, and I do hate having to wait around for others." Lyon spoke with frustration. Ares clenched his jaw at such a remark, he was ready to grab him by the throat. Standing so close to him he was tempted but fought to contain himself.
"Not to worry, General, I'm sure he'll return any minute soon. I doubt the God of War would pass up such a agreement."
"Yes, it would be very strange if he were to turn us down, unless he has some soft spot for the girl." They both roared with laughter at such a thought.
Ares was ready to kill. This mortals' attitude was beginning to make his blood boil. They then heard the main doors begin to open.
"I see your food has arrived, General." Horan walked over to the slaves carrying the filled platters of food. He then lead them to prepare the table and the far right side of the room.
"Ahh, finally something worthwhile to occupy my time." Lyon rose from his throne and walked over to sit head at the table. Ares followed and again stood attentively beside him. Once the slaves had finished, Horan joined Lyon at the opposite end of the table and instructed them to leave. The table was filled with food. Roast meat, wine, vegetables, and fruit.
"So.." Horan muffled while munching away at a piece of chicken, "what are our next steps after we have the dragons?"
"As soon as I have the dragons under my influence we shall head over to General Morton's camp. Once rid of him I shall take over his whole army under my command."
"And what then?"
"And then the world is our oyster. First things first, we'll take over Britannia. Then we'll broaden our horizons and head out overseas, dividing the army out to expand and take over different lands." Lyon couldn't help but smile while he spoke of his plans. Ares was eager to hear more, it still wasn't clear where he stood exactly in all of this.
"I understand from our previous discussions, General, that I'm to be rewarded for the success of my mission today, but I fail to recall what this reward is exactly?" Horan became concerned of his placement in Lyon's future plans.
"That's because we haven't discussed it yet, Horan." Lyon paused as he noticed Horan growing wary of his stature. "Not to worry I shan't forget about your loyal service. Let's say you've gained a place of authority over part of my army, but I'm always to have the last say you understand." He then took a sip of wine.
"Oh yes, certainly, General Lyon. Thank you. It would be my honour." Horan bowed his head, a wave of relief came over him.
"Yes, I'm sure it would be." A wicked smile covered Lyon's face, he loved seeing his men so humble, and looked forward to seeing many more do the same. "You'll have the task of flying out with some of my men to Rome. It's about time those Romans were put in their place. I plan to join you of course, I certainly wouldn't want to miss out on that, but not until I've first made a trip to Greece."
"Greece? Why's that?" Asked Horan.
"Let's just say I hear there is a certain something there that will be of great value to me. Have you ever heard of Ambrosia, Horan?" Ares eyes widened with disbelief.
"The food of the Gods!" Horan exclaimed in realization. "So this is to be you're ultimate attainment. To become a god!?"
Once again Lyon smiled a wicked smile, "That is correct, and I have it known to me that it isn't such a myth after all."
Ares filled with fury. How dare he, he thought. How dare he use his powers only in an attempt to later challenge him.
"But how did you come to know that, and where will you find it?" Horan was in shock, he had no idea that Lyon's godhood was part of the plan, he certainly made a good job at keeping this quiet.
"That is something certainly not for you to worry about. The fact is I know and I also have the means of where to find it." He then took the last sip of his wine.
"But what about Ares?"
"What about him?" Lyon replied casually. "Once he has used his powers to take Vannus' immortality away we have no need for him. Of course we won't let him know that, we'll play along with any of his requests. But as soon as I have the ambrosia...well, I think you know where I'm headed from there....What do you think of 'The Beast War God'?" Horan was simply speechless as Lyon laughed with amusement. Ares snarled to himself, he needed to stick around no more. Whether he liked it or not Vannus was right, and there was no way he would allow a mere mortal make a fool of him. Or worse still, become a god.
Ares returned to the dungeon with great disappointment. Vannus looked at him with uncertainty, not sure whether it was due to the fact there was some truth in her suspicions or whether he was angry at her for misleading him. By the look on his face she dare not say anything until he spoke first. He walked over to Prolez and gripped one of the cage's bars, looking at him with frustration. Prolez made no response to the god, he looked as though he was finding it too much of a struggle to stay awake.
"It looks as though the bastards have shot him at the neck." Ares commented.
"Yes, I noticed when they first captured me." She answered with caution, it was almost as though he was avoiding to tell her what was really bothering him.
"But did you also notice that he's also been drugged." His voice now sounding very tense as though at any moment he was about to explode.
"Drugged?" Vannus jerked forward, before being pulled back by her chains, in attempt to get a better look at him, "No, I didn't realize. I thought he was like that from being cramped so long in that cage. Is he going to be all right?"
"He'll be fine, which is more than what I can say for that excuse of a General when I'm done with him."
"So I was right then." Vannus tried not to sound too happy, it was pretty clear Ares didn't want her to rub it in that she was. He turned to face her and then began to approach her, his face looking most annoyed.
"Is it that obvious?" He asked glaring at her. Vannus was finding it very difficult not to smile. "I suppose you feel somewhat relieved now."
"So should you, Ares. My intuition helped prevent you from risking your godhood." Vannus replied with almost a smug expression.
Ares raised an eyebrow as though amused by her. "I would hardly say that, even if you had said nothing I would have checked on Lyon's true intentions. I certainly do not loan people of my assistance that easily."
Vannus frowned at his arrogance. Ares then began to pace the dungeon. "Yes... there was some truth to your suspicions, but there's also something else Lyon is after which you failed to predict."
"And what's that?" Vannus questioned, without sounding too surprised.
"He's also after ambrosia, he plans to become some 'beast war god'."
"So it's not a myth!? How does he know where to find it?"
"He didn't say, but he seemed pretty confident about it. But that doesn't matter, because now that I know what he plans to get up to, I don't intend on letting him leave this hideout, let alone Britannia.
"I see, so why did you come back here, why didn't you teach Lyon a lesson there and then?"
Ares looked over to Vannus. "Because I wanted to come and see you first."
"Oh really." Vannus replied curiously as Ares walked up to her.
"Yes, let's say I'm willing to do you a favour, if you're willing to do me one in return."
"And what might that be?" she asked with suspicion.
"Well, as pleasant as this dungeon is, I'm sure you don't plan on staying in here forever. So I'm willing to help you get out, as long as you owe me in return."
"You're telling me that unless I promise to owe you a favour you'll leave me here!?"
"It's nothing personal you understand, it's not that I'm not fond of you." He then stroked her cheek with his fingers. "Quite the opposite really, I believe you could be of some use to me, and I know already you wouldn't do anything for me voluntarily."
"What makes you so sure I'd even accept your offer, I could quite happily wait here until someone finds me. The other dragons, without a doubt are looking for me and Prolez right now."
"You seem to forget dear, that you're in a secret hideout. In case you hadn't noticed you're currently standing a long way underground. You're dragons can swoop around as much as they like but they won't find anything."
"But if you intend in stopping Lyon, there's not much of a reason for them to keep me here anyway."
Ares couldn't help but smile wickedly. "I don't know about that. All these guards, spending most of their time hidden away looking after this place. They'd probably enjoy taking advantage of some female company."
Ares merely chuckled at her insult. "Anyway, I'm sure you want to get you're dragon back home safe and sound. His wound looks like it needs some attending to. Face it, whether or not you like it, you need my help."
Vannus returned his gaze with narrowing eyes. It was just typical of Ares. He had to gain something out of a bad situation. As much as she hated to admit it, he was right. There was no way out of there without his help. She looked away, "Very well, I accept your offer and promise to owe you in return."
"That's my girl." Ares grinned with satisfaction. He moved over to Polez and placed his hand on his wound. With a glimmer of light Prolez was healed, he then turned to face Vannus, "Now, it's time to pay General Lyon a visit."
General Lyon and Horan had just finished off the remains of their meal. "Guards!" Lyon called, the main doors opened.
"Call for the slaves to come and clear this mess up, and have them send any leftovers down to the dungeons."
"As you wish, General."
Both generals then moved away from the table, and Lyon once again returned to sit on his throne. In no time at all the slaves arrived and cleared the table, while Lyon watched.
As soon as they left a flash of light appeared before him.
"Lord Ares!" Lyon rose from his throne and greeted the god on one knee, as did Horan. "We have been eagerly awaiting your return." They then both rose to their feet.
"I bet you have." Ares replied with a dull tone.
"We take it you have taken the matter into much consideration."
"Yes I have, I also think there's not much point in wasting anymore time, don't you? Seeing as you have such a busy schedule ahead." His expression was almost that of mockery.
"Yes, of course." Lyon replied, both generals' faces almost filled with glee.
Ares then turned to wave his hand and behind him appeared Vannus and Prolez. She had regained her spear and other weapons and Prolez was freed from his cage, his mouth no longer bound shut.
"What!?....Don't you think it would be better to leave them chained up?" Lyon grew concerned but was prepared to give Ares the benefit of the doubt. Prolez then squealed and breathed fire into the air, it backfired from the ceiling causing both men to duck down. Ares roared with laughter. Vannus couldn't help but smile, he was enjoying this, and she had to admit she didn't quite mind it herself.
"Why do you do this, my lord?...Why do you set them free?" Lyon questioned with horror.
"There's no use in acting all the innocent with me, Lyon. You have been foolish to think that you can use the God of War for your own benefits." He then turned to Horan. "You!" Horan looked at the god with terror, "I have a message for you to send to General Morton, tell him this army is in need of a new commanding general and make sure he is informed why."
"Yes...certainly my lord." Horan replied anxiously. "I'm sure we both understand that I had nothing to do with Lyon's ill intentions." Lyon looked at Horan with dismay.
Ares' eyes widened, "Go now! Before I change my mind." Horan promptly hurried passed the god and headed for the main doors. Ares watched as he passed Vannus, she swiftly swiped the back of his legs with her spear, causing him to fall hard onto his back with a loud thud. She then stamped her foot down hard on his chest.
"You didn't expect me to let you get passed that easily did you?" She remarked, Ares smiled with amusement. Vannus then bent down and grabbed Horan by the collar pulling him to his feet. "That shut you up now didn't it, so much for leaving the best till last!" Standing behind him she then drove her foot into his back causing him to thrust forward and smack face first into the doors.
Once again Ares chuckled with amusement, as Horan hurriedly opened the doors and scurried out. "And now for you,...you honestly didn't believe you could actually deceive a god did you?"
"I..I do not know what you mean my lord, I would never..."
"Enough!" Ares then raised his hand towards Lyon, a bolt of light shot out from his hand and surrounded Lyon's body causing him to cry out in pain. Before he knew it he was elevated from the ground. The light was so bright Vannus had to almost cover her eyes. "I'm going to send you to Tartarus Lyon, and there you'll regret ever crossing me for eternity!"
With that he sent Lyon crashing down to the ground. There was complete silence in the room. Ares walked up to Lyon's body, facing down at the foot of his throne. With his foot he then rolled him over onto his back.
"What now?" Vannus asked.
"We leave his body here as an example to those who dare cross Ares, God of War."
"Good, so I can go home now!"
Ares turned and walked to where Vannus stood, he then placed his hands on her shoulders, "Yes, for the moment you can."
A flash of light surrounded them both, and the next thing she knew they were standing outside her cave, in Treborworth Hills. Prolez took to the sky immediately to rejoin his siblings, he was desperate to stretch his wings.
"I hope you haven't forgotten our little agreement." Ares looked deep into Vannus' eyes, his hands still resting on her shoulders.
"How could I." She sarcastically remarked. "Like you'd ever let me forget."
Ares couldn't help but grin wickedly, "I have to admit, apart from the obvious I've quite enjoyed our little reunion." He then began to bring his face closer to hers, and before she realized, he kissed her softly on the mouth. Vannus reacted as quick as she could, and brought her hands up to push him away. Ares simply took her hands into his and slowly drew himself from her. "Still playing your silly little games I see. With the way you swiped Horan back there, I would have expected you to react a lot quicker than that." He then slowly backed away from her. Vannus struggled to keep her composure, she couldn't afford to let her guard down.
"So, when am I supposed to return your favour? And what is it?"
"Not to worry, there's no hurry, I'll let you know soon enough. Until then." He winked and with a flash of light, once again he vanished.
Continue on to the sequel The Favour