Courting Fate

   Lysander sat at the riverbed, gazing at his reflection in the water, wavering like a candle in the night. Shaking his head, he cupped the water in his hands and splashed it into his face and hair, coated in grime and sweat. His image dashed from the makeshift mirror, the colors splaying across the surface chaotically. 

  He shook out his hair, his curls hurling droplets through the air as he stood. He was alone, the leaves and branches murmuring in the wind.  Long had the thought of revenge burned in his mind, a seed growing and prospering deep within his heart. He had waited months for the proper moment to return the strike which had cast his Father down.

  It had been six months since his father's lifeless body was burned to ash and tossed into the wind to linger eternally. Ever since Lysander had been wary of the breeze, listening as it's fingers touched his cheek and played with his hair. And one lonely, beautiful dawn, six months from the day of Ajax's demise,  Lysander heard a mutter on the wind, familiar and strong.

   'Time, it is time.'

   He consulted the priest of his village, who declared that it was a message from his father, a message from the Gods. They had now called upon him to fulfill the duties his father was unable to complete. Without another thought, Lysander gathered his few belongings and departed, unsure of which way to head yet knowing whom he was hunting.  

   Lysander bit his lip, crouching lower as he swiftly pulled out his sword, long and silver like brilliant starlight. He had heard a rustle of leaves and the crunch of footsteps.

  "Who dares follow me, Lysander Son of Ajax!" he boomed. Silence.  "Reveal yourself or else I shall hunt and force you to unmask yourself, Coward!"

   From the shadows of the trees came a tall dark figure, his head high as the treetops, his well-muscled body clad in inky black armour. In his large fist he held a matching sword, tinged red with enemies' blood,  long as Lysander's very legs. "Do not dare challenge me, babe Lysander-I may send you to Hades' dark realm for saying such things to one such as I."

   "Ares."  Lysander replied in a much smaller voice, lowering his sword. "May I express my sincere apolog-"

  "Enough," the God of War waved his giant hand, appearing agitated.

  Lysander gazed into the dark, cold eyes of Ares. "What is it you wish of me, Ares?"

  "Continue on with your mission, young Lysander. I plan to assist you in this, as it is what Ajax would wish, I know, and we have much in debt to pay him for his great service." Ares declared in his bold, thunderous voice. "First and foremost, you are headed in the opposite direction in which you intend."

  His face colored a deep red, heat rising to his cheeks. Ares smiled, amused, "That is why I am presenting you with this walking staff." Out from behind him, he pulled a simple wooden walking stick, twisted and knotted magnificently, though a glorious black gem crowned the top of it. Carefully, Lysander took the staff into his own hands, gaping with amazement. "It will lead you in the proper way."

  "Thank you, I-," breathed Lysander, not removing his eyes from the enchanting stone decorating the top.

   "Indeed-be on your way, Lysander. There is no time to waste in your journey." interrupted Ares briskly. Lysander bowed his head courteously, unsure of what else to do or say, before walking off to the East, the staff leading the way.

   Ares watched the smaller figure of Lysander, barely a man, turn around the corner and disappear. His eyes glittered hungrily. Ares had long been thirsting for battle, and this may be the final action to push it in his way. Perfect was young Lysander for stirring up the already agitated hornet's nest; he was easily swayed, his heart young and full of vengence.

   Unaware Lysander was of what trouble Ares would thrust him into, and helpless Ajax would be to prevent any of it.

The End

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