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Best Friends, Better Enemies Ch. 17
By Shirley Pint
As Xena was leading the young Phrixus to his treasure, the entity now calling itself Ara was pillaging every village she crossed. Her name spread far and wide, terrorizing any who dared whisper of her exploits. She moved forward steadily, always with one goal in mind. Aries.
The entity remembered a time when he had taught the fledgling god about the beauty of war. But even then he was weak, the entity remembered. Unwilling to stand against those other puling weaklings that call themselves gods.
Mounted on horseback, the entity Ara showed like a beacon in the middle of her war crazed army. No longer did her men pray to Aries. Every one of them knelt at her feet before entering a battle. When they called for protection, the name Ara was the one they invoked.
Gabrielle was a distant memory now. The entity could feel the presence of her spirit weaken every day. Soon, she will be gone and only I will remain.
"Goddess! We approach the last village before Aries temple. What are your orders?"
Ara looked him straight in the eye as she drew her sword.
"Kill them all. Leave not one living soul alive. But don't burn it. We need the supplies and besides, it would send up a signal nobody could miss. Especially Aries. And we don't want him to know we're coming."
"On your orders, Ara!"
Her second in command rode away and Ara smiled as she watched another village fall to her power.
Yes, the entity thought excitedly. It's just as I remember it. The thrill of the attack, the rush of adrenaline when you run your sword through some hopeless fool. What an addiction this has become. But the cruel streak marring the once angelic face told of how much the entity enjoyed this narcotic. She charged full out into the fray, screaming a battle cry so loud, it could be heard clearly above the sounds of battle.
Simple men, farmers mostly, stood bravely with pitchforks and scythes in hand, trying to defend their homes and families with every weapon they posses. They fared relatively well at first, fighting the less experienced warriors who charged to the head of the battle to seek their glory. But as soon as Ara's destructive aura came charging into the fray, the tide turned against the brave men.
Armed with her sword, she fought aside the feeble attempts at defense and mercilessly cut down man after man. One farmer would try grabbing her from behind while another would take her on, but she sensed their trick and turned it against them. One moment she was being held firmly from behind, the next she was flipping through the air, watching as brother cut down brother with a blow meant to take her life. As she landed, her arm immediately began to block the blow aimed for her head. Ara swiveled and kicked the lone man sharply in the head. She listened gleefully as the bones in his neck shattered from the impact and his body falls heedless to the ground.
More! I want more!
And so they came, young and old, seeking only to protect and meeting the blade of her sword instead. Blood splattered across her body, until she looked to be bleeding herself. The rage in her eyes lingered until the last
man was killed, leaving a single group of defenseless women to face Ara and her army.
Surveying the carnage, Ara was satisfied, and walked calmly to the well in the village square. She tore away a piece of cloth from the shirt of a dead man sprawled at it's walls, and proceeded to wash away the blood from her arms and face. The whimpers of the village women as they cowered in fear only served to annoy Ara.
So with a angry snap, she called, "Ander! Take the survivors to that building over there."
She pointed and her assistant acknowledged the squat farmhouse with a nod.
"Keep them alive until I ask for them."
Again, he nodded, but asked nervously, "Goddess, I hesitate to ask, but the men have been getting a little anxious for more than just battle. The want to know about the spoils...."
Ara looked at him, then at the women behind him.
"I said alive, Ander. Do what you will."
She never saw his leer as she walked away without a glance. Nor did she stop when the screams of the females rose above the roar of the men. Actually, the sounds stimulated her as no other could do.
I am a generous leader, the entity thought happily. No other would share such bounty of agony like I do. Yes, generous. And a chilling laugh joined the voices of pleasure and pain.