The tale below was woven for love
not for profit, or money, or gold
and we all know to whom the characters belong
(yea verily, this is the standard disclaimer song)
to avoid landing in the Tartarus of old.
So I pray to the gods of MCA/Universal
strike me not dead with thy might,
for I promise to give the boys right back
at the end of just one more hot night.
This is the first story in my Tribute series.
This story contains explicit descriptions of male/male sexual relations.
The series can also be found at The Joxerotica Archives
Feel free to send comments to: email@example.com
by REM, the DreamWeaver
"Well it's finished and it's a beauty if I say so myself." The blacksmith ran a clean rag over the shining blade. "A weapon fit for a warlord. What are you going to do with it?"
Joxer ignored the implied comment. Just like he did most of the others people tossed at him. He knew he could never handle a sword like this one. His eyes followed the razor sharp length of the blade from the tip back up to the hand guard that was in the shape of an attacking raven. "It's a... gift."
"Ah. Well before you start gifting, where's the rest of my payment?"
Joxer slid a hand into his shirt and pulled out a small leather bag. He handed it to the blacksmith and continued visually tracing the lines of the sword as the beefy man counted the money. The blacksmith put his earnings back in the pouch and shoved it inside the front of his thick leather apron. "Looks like you bought yourself a sword."
Joxer started unfolding the large piece of soft brown leather he was carrying. "Do you have any old rags I can have?"
The blacksmith swatted at a hovering apprentice. "Go get him some rags."
Joxer stretched the thick strip of hide out on the display table then moved around to pick up the sword. His hands closed over the hilt, a flurry of doubts assailing his mind, an effort of muscle to move the sword. He placed in it in the center of the leather then folded the soft thick skin over the gleaming metal.
The apprentice ran up with an armful of rags then watched in confusion as Joxer proceeded to wrap the leather package with the scraps of material. When he was finished he had an unrecognizable bundle of something swaddled in stained patches. Joxer looked up and caught the glint of approval in the blacksmith's eyes. He gave the man a tight smile, thanked him then turned and headed for the main road out of town.
Joxer kept to just off the side of the road letting the mix of carts, horses and others on foot like himself flow by. He concentrated on watching where he was going, nervous that he would do something to draw attention to himself and the bundle he carried.
Joxer stepped around a large tree stump and wondered again if he was doing the right thing. It wasn't like he had much choice. There was a place, sharp and empty inside him and he had to find something to fill it.
Joxer turned off the main road and onto the wide path cut through the trees that lead to the temple. The type of people around him changed from ordinary travelers to fighters and warriors. He hugged the side of the path trying to become invisible to the others. A few minutes later the wide path turned a corner and the trees fell away to reveal a rocky open area with a dark foreboding temple centered in it.
Joxer caught his breath at the sight of the temple, responding to it on a visceral level. The thick stone walls emanated a sense of tantalizing menace as they somehow sat wrapped in shadows on a sun filled day. He tripped and mentally chastised himself for being clumsy, bringing back that well worn curse of his father's to stop stumbling through life like a puppy and be a man. He directed his attention back to the path and kept the glances at the temple to a minimum.
Joxer stopped at the steps of the temple and moved off to the side. Sitting down on a boulder he unwrapped the rags from the leather bound sword.
He spent a moment trying to decide what to do with the pile of rags, finally jamming them behind the boulder. He'd take them with him when he left. He was positive that the God of War frowned on mortals leaving trash on his temple grounds. Joxer got a firm grip on the leather covered sword and stood up, heading for the temple doors.
Joxer stayed close to the stone walls as he made his way into the temple. He started wondering if he'd come at a bad time. The main hall of the thick walled building was filled with enough fighters to start a border war. He found himself a spot in a back corner and wedged himself into the shadows.
Joxer watched the people filing in and out, most of them scarred veterans. Others soft faced youngsters hoping for glorious futures and some bitter, angry souls coming about vengeance and retribution, all asking the same thing: Make me strong. Make me fearless. Make me victorious so I that I may bathe in the blood of my enemies.
Joxer started picking over his doubts again as the pleas for success at murder and mayhem marked the passing of the day. He watched powerful warriors and rich warlords coming to leave tribute and wondered what ever made him think any God would ever listen to his pitiful prayers. Let alone this one.
A low verbal rumble drifted through the crowd at the entrance end of the temple. It heralded the appearance of a massive warrior carrying a battle ax so large Joxer was sure he couldn't even drag it behind him let alone lift the double bladed weapon. He watched the other fighters part and give way to the warrior. Even the blood robed temple priests paused to let him go by.
Joxer tightened his grip on the sword he was carrying. That's what he wanted, people to respect him. To look at him and say, that's a man you don't want to tangle with.
He sighed and leaned against the cold stone wall wishing everyone would hurry up and leave. The longer he stayed the better the possibility he'd decide to forget the entire thing. He could always sell the sword, or give it to Xena.
Joxer wondered what Xena and Gabrielle were doing. He hadn't seen them in months. He hadn't seen much of anything but the back end of horses and the handle end of a shovel for the past three months. That's how he'd gotten the money for the sword. Working for a horse breeder. At least he learned to ride decently along with the pay.
He regretted for the hundredth time not writing himself as a warrior when Gabby had that enchanted scroll. He'd thought about it but after that screw up with the three naked Gabrielle's he'd decided not to. The way things were going he probably would have ended up as a well armed rabbit. He'd been thinking about Ares ever since.
Joxer looked around and counted less than ten people, including the priests, left in the temple. He pressed himself harder into the shadows his brain going into a yes no debate over what he was planning. He'd been doing a lot of thinking over the past four months. Like he had in the weeks following that incident when Aphrodite turned him into that other Joxer, the one who could fight and flirt without tripping over his own feet. Xena had told him that those abilities were inside him, otherwise Aphrodite wouldn't have been able to change him. He'd tried damn near everything to bring that Joxer back. All he'd managed to do was screw up, fall down and make a fool of himself.
Joxer watched the last of the supplicants leave. The priests replaced a few burnt out torches and candles then cleared the offerings off the main altar, stacking them along the walls. Then the priests left closing the huge double doors behind them and Joxer was alone among the heavy shadows watching flickers of light glinting off the weapons displayed there.
Joxer stepped away from the wall. His footsteps sounding as soft hollow slaps against the smooth stone floor. He started to leave twice, making it all the way to the doors the second time. Then his hand touched the cold iron door and in a moment of clarity it represented the family that had rejected him, everyone who tolerated him and that frozen part of his soul that he kept hidden from himself. Joxer turned back around and walked towards the main altar with renewed determination. He had to try one more time.
Joxer stopped at the bottom of the wide steps. His stomach filling with iron butterflies as he took another inventory of the rhyme and reason of what he was about to do. It all came down to the same thing. He needed to be more than he was. He wanted Xena to look at him with something other than thinly veiled tolerance in her eyes. He wanted Gabby to see him as someone she could rely on. He'd finally woke up and given up on her as a lover. He'd gotten that cold water in the face revelation when he'd read that enchanted scroll. That sentence about waking up with a jerk had felt like a kick in the stomach. Even the Universe had known what she'd thought of him and had dropped him into the plot of her scroll in response. The desperate attempts he'd made to try and make her love him by writing it on the scroll and buying her the necklace still brought a flush of embarrassment to his face when he thought about it.
Joxer took a fortifying breath and moved up the deep steps to the altar. He put the bundle on the wide black stone and peeled the leather covering back. The polished blade seemed to shimmer in the dancing light from the wall torches. Joxer reached out and touched the dark hilt of the sword. If this didn't work he was going to go somewhere where no one knew him or had ever heard of Xena or Gabby, or anyone else. And he was going to stay there. Find a place to himself where he never had to listen to the comments or see the looks again. Or maybe he'd just walk off a cliff.
Ares popped into the temple, the large battle ax catching his eye. Picking it up he turned towards the center of the room and saw the sword on the altar. Then he noticed the figure down on one knee in front of it. Ares moved forward without a sound, leaning the ax against a column as he made himself invisible to mortal eyes.
The kneeling figure didn't move as he approached. The man's head was bowed, face hidden by hunched up shoulders. Ares stopped a dozen feet behind the mortal taking in the details of the worn but clean boots, pants and shirt that adorned the rangy form. "Great, another peasant that wants to be a king. Nice ass though," Ares muttered knowing the man couldn't hear him.
He moved past the kneeling figure and stepped up to the altar. Ares picked up the sword testing its balance and feel. He was on his second pivot and slash when he heard a high pitched voice squeak his name. It took him a tenth of a second to mentally bring the voice down in tone and attach a mortal to it. The revelation startled him so badly he popped into view as he spit out the name.
"Well it ain't Xena in all this leather." Ares tossed the sword back on the altar, snapped his fingers and disappeared, then reappeared sitting in the throne to one side of the altar.
"It figures. A perfect ending to a perfectly screwed up day."
He draped his left leg over the arm of the throne, a large goblet appearing in his right hand. "First Mom finds out Dad's doing the horizontal hustle with one of my priestess and blasts me for it." He took a deep drink. "Then I find out I've got two kingdoms down south declaring peace with each other and my newest nitwit warlord attacks the wrong village screwing up six months of battle plans." The goblet went flying. "The moron can't even read a map! And to top it off, I've got a group of earth mother types staging something called a sit down in one of my northern temples singing songs about peace and love." Ares glared at Joxer, his voice hard rolling thunder. "Now what in Tartarus do you want?"
Joxer had the desperate urge to run away screaming but his body decided to stay there and shake. He managed to make his mouth form words but the volume came out three levels below audible. He wasn't sure if that was an improvement on the mouse in a hot pan squeak he'd emitted earlier.
Ares watched Joxer's jaw exercises. "Lamp's lit, nobody's home. Mouth's moving, nothing coming out. Why does this not surprise me?"
Joxer dug his fingernails into his palms driving his volume up. "I want you to make me a warrior."
"Lamp's out, for rent sign is on the door." Ares leaned back against the massive black throne. "Perfect. Just perfect." He raised his left hand, a fireball dancing on the tips of his fingers. "Get out before I turn you into a flaming chicken."
Joxer stood up feeling lightheaded. "No."
Ares blinked. "What?"
"No." Joxer swallowed. "I'm not leaving until you make me a warrior."
"Did Xena put you up to this?"
"There's that word again." Ares increased the intensity of the fireball. "Mortal you had better be insane and have one of the Furies in your pocket to prove it. Otherwise, you are in deep trouble."
"Why? Because I want to be able to fight and help others?"
The fireball flared up another notch. "I'm not in the business of producing do-gooders. It takes the edge off my reputation. I've got enough problems with Xena running loose."
"Fine, then I'll fight for you." Joxer couldn't believe what he'd just said. It didn't make it any better when Ares burst out laughing. He felt his face heat up and his insides go cold. He should have known better.
Joxer moved up the steps and looked down at the altar. He reached out and touched the soft leather the sword was on and said good-bye to a dream with the sound of a God's laughter in his ears. He turned and walked down the steps.
"Is the sword from you?"
Joxer stopped and turned to see Ares standing in front of the altar. The fireball and laughter vanished as he examined the blade of the weapon.
Ares swung the sword doing a slash spin duck maneuver. Joxer watched the fast graceful movements envy vying with six other emotions as the blade flashed in the torch light. He watched the hard cut muscles of the God rippling and flexing, a dark sensuous blend of mortal form and omnipotence. The shadows surrounding Ares adding depth and mystery to the War God's powerful charisma.
Joxer discovered something he'd always known about himself and this dark God, knowledge acquired and denied the first moment he'd seen him. Joxer felt his blood starting to center in his groin and panicked. He had to get out of there before Ares noticed and fried him on the spot .
Joxer closed his eyes and took a deep breath fixing the image of himself as a charred corpse in his mind, using it to get control of himself.
"Where's that tin plate collection you call armor?"
Joxer's eyes flew open at the sound of the deep voice. He blushed again remembering the blacksmith's smirk. "I... got rid of it."
Joxer studied the floor wondering if he could leave as a long silence filled the temple. He shifted from foot to foot then looked up to find Ares watching him. Joxer had the odd feeling that he knew what a bird facing a cobra felt like. He couldn't help but admire the hard muscular lines of the cobra. The cobra laid the sword down on one end of the altar and spoke to him.
Joxer stumbled forward, coming to a stop at the bottom of the altar steps. He grabbed onto that vision of himself as a fried corpse as he realized he was at eye level with and six feet away from the God's groin. Joxer changed the image to being flayed alive and nailed his eyes to the floor.
"So you bought me the sword as tribute because you want me to make you a warrior?"
Joxer looked up. "Yeesss..."
His voice drained off at the sight of the God of War's right hand reaching down to squeeze the leather covered crotch.
"Then pay tribute to this," Ares rumbled.
Joxer had so many physical reactions to the command he didn't know if he was going to faint or catch on fire. He couldn't tear his eyes away from the sight of the God touching himself and was on the second step before he was aware he was moving.
Joxer climbed the last step and folded to his knees. He hadn't done this since he was seventeen and Jett had turned his best friend against him. No one ever seemed to want him after that. Except the whores. Then the full implications of who he was kneeling in front of hit him. He went into internal quakes that intensified as he reached out and rested a tentative hand on a leather clad hip.
Joxer bit his lip trying to still the shaking of his hands as he reached for the laces on the black pants. He kept reminding himself to breathe as he started pulling the laces free. He'd fantasized about doing this to so many others, Hercules among them, but he'd never dared to think about Ares in this way. Now he was kneeling at his feet.
Joxer glanced up at the War God's face wondering at the thoughtful expression he found there. He couldn't see the look of terrified wonder combined with awakening lust that adorned his own face.
Joxer brought his attention back down to what he was doing. He finished with the laces and pulled open the tight pants freeing an erection that should have been classified as a weapon in its own right. That lightheaded feeling hit him again. He wasn't surprised. All the blood in his body was trying to over fill the hardness between his legs. Joxer hesitated, trying to steady his senses.
The leather clad hips shifted under his hands. "Don't tell me you've never done this before."
"Not to a God." The words came out as a whisper followed by Joxer's tongue swiping across the tip of the exposed shaft in front of him. The action drew a hiss from Ares then a guttural moan as Joxer slid the head into his mouth, rubbing his tongue along the underside. He tightened his lips around the base of the head and used the tip of his tongue to probe the small slit at the tip.
A smile formed inside him as the touch drove Ares to grab at the altar behind him for support. Joxer slid the long rod deeper into his mouth. His hands curving down the tense thighs, fingertips feeling the shifting muscles under the leather.
He let his hands slide back up daring to run his fingers through tight curls, then upward to trace the hard cut stomach under the vest. He listened to the accelerated breathing above him and watched the powerful hands gripping the edge of the altar as he concentrated on the silk and steel feel of the solid heat filling his mouth.
"Harder," Ares growled.
The sound of the one word command sent a sweet jolt through Joxer. He tightened his lips around the thick flesh he was sucking on, his tongue trying to wrap itself around the slick probe. He felt Ares's fingers tangle in his hair pulling him closer, the sleek hips powering into motion forcing the God deeper into his throat. Joxer felt his gag reflex trigger and vowed that he would choke to death before denying Ares his pleasure.
He let go of Ares's hips and grabbed the edge of the altar behind him bracing himself against the powerful thrusts. Joxer pulled up an old memory and started trying to time his breathing in between the deepening oral invasions. Pain shot through his scalp as Ares tightened his grip on his hair, his throat going into spasms of swallowing, trying to clear the thick object being shoved down it.
He fought with himself against the need to breathe and felt a shudder run through the body standing above him. Then he was drowning in essence of God as liquid passion hit and dripped down the back of his throat. The edges of his vision started turning gray and the thought struck him that he was going to die with Ares's cock buried halfway down his throat. The idea merged with the sensations and pulled him backwards off a cliff he didn't know was there. He felt Ares jerk free and gave himself up to the volcano between his legs as he folded to the floor between the God's feet.
Long minutes later Joxer became aware of the echo he could hear to his own harsh breathing and the cold of the stone floor beneath him. Joxer pushed himself up off the floor and sat back on his heels, hands braced on his thighs. He sat there staring at the floor, listening to his lungs slow down and wondering what he was supposed to do now.
"Let's do it again," Ares rumbled.
Joxer looked up, astonishment jumping on his features at the hard evidence of need in front of him. He shifted his gaze to Ares's face. "Can you always do that?"
Ares lips twisted into a wicked smile. "It's a God thing." He rocked his hips forward. "Now take care of it."
"Then will you make me a warrior?"
Ares reached out, his fingers twisting in Joxer's hair pulling him closer. "Less talk. More suction."
Joxer leaned forward and slid his tongue down the turgid length, spending a minute exploring the dark curls at the base. He listened to Ares' vulgar response with a sense of satisfaction as he worked his way back up to the tip.
He may be a klutz with women, not having paid much attention to them until he met Gabrielle. But male bodies he knew and this one, God or otherwise, was responding to him with a vengeance.
The realization of whom he had his mouth wrapped around hit Joxer all over again. The wonder of it washing over him in a thrill of heat that converted into rock hardness straining against his pants. He'd never been this aroused before.
When he felt Ares spurting down his throat for the second time he dropped his hand down between his own legs roughly fondling himself to orgasm.
Joxer opened his eyes as Ares pulled out of his mouth. He watched in stunned appreciation as the organ slowly swelled back to life. His tongue flicked over his lips provoking a chuckle from Ares.
"Later," Ares promised, reaching down to pull Joxer to his feet.
Joxer stood up and felt the hand slide from his arm to the back of his neck, Ares's intentions immediately clear as he guided Joxer to the altar and bent him over it. Joxer's back stiffened for a fraction of a heartbeat then he stretched his torso across the cold black stone. He rubbed his face against the leather wrapper still on the altar and stretched his arms above his head, his hands locking onto the far edge of the altar. If Ares wanted him this way, who was he to refuse a God?
Joxer shivered as Ares grabbed the back of his pants by the waistband. The sound of material tearing filled the temple, the remnants of his pants fluttering down to his ankles. Joxer felt the spit soaked probe tap his backside then challenge the tight ring of muscle guarding his ass. He gripped the edge of the altar against the bright flash of agony as the large head pushed into him. He started panting like a woman in labor as he fought the urge to jerk away from the stretching pain.
Joxer winced when the iron hands holding his hips abruptly tightened down. The deep moan sliding from the War God sending a jolt of pleasure straight to the new hardness hanging between his legs. The sensation of wetness pulsing into him easing the tightness inside.
Joxer squeezed his eyes shut and started panting for a whole new set of reasons as pleasure and pain started slam dancing each other. He dug his teeth into the leather under his face and kept most of the scream behind it as Ares shoved the rest of the way into him. Joxer's fingers tightened around the edge of the altar his knuckles going white. His focus narrowed to the burning invasion of his ass.
Joxer lost another muffled scream when the probe retreated then slammed forward again, stuffing him like a Winterfest goose. Ares grabbed a handful of Joxer's hair jerking his head back, the God's hot breath in his ear.
"What's the matter? You have a problem with a little pain?"
Joxer spit out his self imposed gag. "Only when it hurts."
"But that's how I like it," Ares snarled. He let go of Joxer's hair, Joxer's right temple hitting the altar with a bruise making thump.
Joxer blinked to clear the spots floating in front of his eyes. Digging his teeth back into the strip of leather he tried to tighten his grip on the edge of the altar with nearly numb fingers.
Joxer felt Ares's hands clamp down on his hips and tried to relax and brace himself at the same time. His efforts made about as much difference as spitting into a bonfire.
Joxer kept telling himself that he could do this because if he did Ares would make him a warrior. Then he'd be writhing against another too deep raw edge thrust, his courage melting against the pain, the slow withdrawals bringing a moments respite where he'd grit his teeth and snatch up the fragments of his courage. The next driving thrust scattering them in ragged bits across the altar again.
He told himself that he could endure and fought back the strangled sobs bubbling up from his chest. Old memories welled up with them and he recalled promises made as a child in his family's private temple, a temple filled with weapons and shadows and a boy's desperate pleas to do anything to become one of the God's chosen. He told himself that he would endure this because there was nothing else left for him except this dark fulfillment of promises pounding into him.
He was wrong. In the end he fought. And cried. Ares held him down like a wayward child, one powerful hand digging into the back of his neck pinning him to the altar. The sacrifice willing but weak as agony dragged him back and forth across broken bladed ground to the edge of unconsciousness. The sensations of his God releasing his hot essence deep inside him bringing him back on short jagged waves of pleasure.
Joxer shuddered as the powerful hand let go of his neck and started a slow slide down the center of his back. He unclenched his fists pulling his fingernails out of the bloody crescents cut into his palms. His fingernails cut a new set when Ares pulled out of him. Joxer tried to lessen the agony by reminding himself that it was over.
"Get up," Ares commanded.
Joxer scrubbed the back of his hands across his face. He tried to remember how to straighten up and found the best he could do was push crawl his upper body off the altar. After long painful minutes he managed to assume a basic upright position, his head hanging down, his hands clinging to the altar for support.
"Look at me."
Joxer pulled his head up and got caught in dark-as-the-heart-of-a-mountain eyes framed by long thick black lashes. Something shifted in their depths, an icy chill running through Joxer as he found himself looking into the true eyes of War and saw the echoes of a thousand battlefields. He watched the dead and the dying falling into reflective pools of shimmering blood that rippled and spread over villages, valleys and kingdoms. The clash of weapons and wails of survivors limping with broken spirits shrieked through his ears. The sharp sound merging with the undertone of bitter laments from among the side casualties of battle as orphans starved, lovers grieved, and the land itself bled against the thoughts of revenge and conquest festering in mortal souls. He watched empires rise and fall at the whim of a God. Every scene constructed around the dark shining force that was Ares in true form, reveling in the carnage, feeding on the raw power spawned by endless battle lust and blood.
The mysterious eyes closed. The long lashes black sentinels that cut off the view of eternal chaos created by mortal hate, lust and greed. Joxer remembered how to breathe and wondered if you could walk in the dark without becoming part of the shadows.
The dark eyes opened. The terrifying images once again hidden behind a smoky wall of power. Joxer couldn't stop shaking, realizing that what he'd seen and felt was but a small part of who and what this being was.
His mouth dried up when Ares stepped up against him, the expression in the dark eyes mocking him, expecting him to run. The hard length pressed against him daring him to stay. Joxer moved without thought, instinctively leaning against the magnificent body. A half breath later strong fingers locked onto the back of his neck, the sculpted lips crushing down on his.
The kiss took Joxer's breath away as nothing else up to this point had. The strong thick tongue working his mouth like a whore in a sailors tavern. Joxer's arms took on a life of their own and wrapped themselves around the War God's waist. Hard muscled arms tightened around him as leather clad hips started rocking against his.
Joxer felt one of Ares's hands slide down to the small of his back, holding him in place as the pressure of the rocking increased. A tingling started from the hand on his back and radiated downward to get caught up in the sensations of his cock rubbing against cool leather and hot god flesh.
Ares moaned into his mouth, the low rumbling sound sending a flash of lighting down through Joxer that came out in spurts against the leather.
He felt himself being lifted then found himself on his back on the altar his legs over Ares's shoulders, the God entering him in one swift plunge. He tensed against the expected pain and heard a strange low voice groaning in ecstasy and realized it was his own.
Joxer looked up at Ares and caught the wolfish grin on the bearded face, the lesson of a God's choice of pleasure or pain obvious even to him. Then Ares showed him how deep pleasure with a God could run. The sensations made him feel like a phoenix caught in a spiraling cycle of death and rebirth, trapped inside a blast furnace of orgiastic flames. Somewhere deep within the ecstasy his soul caught on fire and burned him into oblivion.
Joxer woke up, took inventory of the pain and decided not to move for a millennium or two. He opened his eyes to see where he was. He looked up at the dark stone walls of the small room and decided he was somewhere in the temple.
Joxer wasn't sure if that was a good or bad thing. He started to sit up and decided that was a bad thing. He did it anyway.
Joxer noticed two facts right off the bat. He was clean and dressed and his ass felt like someone had left pottery shards in it. He shifted his weight over to one hip and examined his clothes. Black boots, black pants and a dark midnight blue shirt with full sleeves.
Joxer slid his hands down his thighs, the leather was a soft as a new lamb.
He found a knife in his right boot and pulled it out of the sheath to examine it. The blade had a bluish tinge to it. The handle engraved with a pattern of dark feathers. Joxer turned the blade over in his hand and felt the weight on his wrists.
He pulled back a sleeve and gawked at the heavy wrist guard. Putting the knife back into its sheath he pulled his other sleeve back and found a twin to the other wrist guard. He poked at the wide metal and leather bands, turning his arms this way and that to see the design. His breath caught in his chest as he recognized a pair of attacking ravens, outlined in dark bronze with baleful ruby eyes. He dropped his wrists in his lap and stared at them.
Joxer thought about what the knife and wrist bands meant. He thought about the possibilities for a long time. It bothered him that he didn't feel any different. He was sure he was supposed to feel different if Ares had made him a warrior.
Then maybe this was Ares's way of patting him on the head and sending him down the road. He started feeling like a former virgin waking up alone on the morning after.
Joxer pushed his body up off the wide stone platform he'd awaken on and headed for the door. He was discovering that walking was going to be a problem when something hit him squarely in the back almost knocking him off his feet. Joxer stumbled against a wall, his hands going flat against it trying to catch himself. He smacked his head and got his balance back when he rebounded off the wall. He nearly tripped trying to turn around. There wasn't anyone else in the room. Then he noticed the staff on the platform he'd just vacated.
Joxer walked back over and picked up the staff. It was a dull shade of black and he couldn't tell if it was wood or metal. He put one end on the ground roughly measuring the length of it and decided it was six feet. Joxer used a fingernail to trace the pattern carved into it's length. He had no trouble recognizing the design of a large detailed feather. Joxer tightened his grip on the staff and started backing towards the door.
Joxer made it out of the room without anything else hitting him and found himself just off the main hall of the temple. He stopped to lean on a column wondering if his body looked as bad as it felt. Finding a healer became the number one thing on his to do list. Pushing himself off the smooth stone he limped forward and knelt in front of the altar. The effort making him bite his lip against the shocks of pain.
Joxer still wasn't quite sure how Ares had answered his request but he silently thanked him anyway. He looked up at the altar, the memories of the night before flooding his mind bringing a heat to his face. The pleasure had far outweighed the brutal pain. He wondered if he'd ever feel that touch again.
Joxer felt a hand grip his shoulder and turned to see who it was and saw nothing. He froze, then gave in to an irresistible impulse and tilted his head, his left cheek rubbing against strong fingers. The sense of presence increased and he felt a tingling start at his shoulder and slowly spread down through his body. Then the touch and the sensation were gone. So was the pain. He looked down at his left hand. His fingers folding over to test the smoothness of his unmarked palm.
Joxer stood up, a slight smile gracing his face. He looked back up at the altar and the smile spread to his insides. Whatever his God had done for him, it would be enough. Joxer turned and headed for the temple doors.
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Continue on to the sequel Hero's Path