Title: A Painful truth
Fandom: Hercules The Legendary Journeys/Xena Warrior Princess
Prompt: #088 School
Summary: There are things that he just should know!
Aries stared at his nephew; it was a full five seconds before he could even form a response. He looked at Strife’s blank expression and wondered what Eris had been thinking having a child for this long and not even teaching him the basics. This was not included in his list of necessary training.
“Athena!” The war god bellowed and it took a few moments before the goddess of war and wisdom appeared.
“He can’t read or write,” he said pointing at Strife who looked as if he wanted to melt into the pillar he was leaning against.
Athena raised an eye brow and stared at her brother waiting for the joke. When she got nothing but an irritated glare she eyed him again.
“You’re kidding right?”
“You’re wisdom see for yourself,” Ares said coldly.
Athena did probing Strife, and sensing a large potential for intelligence that had barely been touched. “He can learn, I’ll give him that, but if you think I’m teaching someone that old letters you are out of you mind. Send him to me when he is something I can work with then maybe I’ll teach him histories, philosophy, the wisdom behind war. You want grammar lessons you are looking at the wrong goddess. I was born knowing. Shouldn’t his mother have taught him?”
“His mother is Eris.”
“When was she pregnant?” Ares shrugged the only memories he had of his nephew of the infant crawling across the temple and Eris sending him back into his room almost instantly. It was such a brief memory, that placed with the numerous other visits to Eris’ temple the timing was lost.
“You won’t teach him?”
“I am wisdom not preschool. Send him to the muses like they do with all the other kids, who’s parents are too busy, isn’t that what you and Aphrodite did with Cupid?”
“Yeah but he already knew the basics, besides he was six. You think he will be thinking about learning with the muses at that age?”
“He better,” Ares said grabbing Strife by the collar and appearing in the muses’ temple. There were a few young gods about and none looked older than ten. Strife towered over them all as they seemed to be having some sort of play time. Strife was starring at the red ball a child was bouncing.
“Ares,” Urania said looking at the god with a smile. “Who’s your little friend?”
“My nephew, Strife and your newest student. He can’t read or write.”
“Ares he’s a little old. We won’t be inspiring much learning in him.”
“Athena claims there’s intelligence in him. I have yet to see any sign of it. He couldn’t even teleport. I would mash Eris into a pulp for dumping him on me but she has vanished for the time being, probably hiding somewhere laughing at problems she’s caused me. You guys are my last hope.”
“We will try, but he will have to be in the class. We don’t have time with everything to be private tutors.”
“I understand. Call me if there are any problems.”
With that Ares left and Urania smiled at the leather clad teenager. He was ghastly pale just like his mother, and looked even more so compared to her own sun kissed features. His blue eyes were focused beyond him and she glanced and saw him staring at a group of children playing with a red ball.
“I know you’re a little old, what your mom did is just, I don’t have words for it and I’m a muse.”
“She popped it,” Strife mumbled. “It was a nice ball.”
Eyeing the god confused she shook her head as Clio rang the bell that signaled the end of lunch and play.
“Alright everyone,” Urania said pulling Strife forward. “We have a new student; he will be joining us from now on. This is Strife.”
“But he’s old!” A child blurted.
“Just have a seat there Strife,” Urania said ignoring the outburst. Strife did as he was told and soon began the lesson on counting and numbers. By the end of the day Strife could count past a hundred by ones, twos, fives and tens, he was still trying to master threes. He watched as Gods began appearing right and left to collect their children, taking their art from their morning lessons and hugging and kissing them before vanishing back to their home temple.
“Strife?” He glanced back at Urania and she smiled, despite his age Strife had simply learned his lesson as if it was the most natural thing in the world. “Ares said you could go back home when you were done.”
“Oh,” Strife mumbled watching the last family pick up their daughter and listen to her as she rambled on and on about what she had done that day and even pointing at Strife before they vanished. Remembering what Cupid taught him he actually appeared in Ares’ temple on the first try.
“You’re back, learn anything?”
Strife’s eyes widened. “I…I…learned…I can…count,” he whispered.
Ares rolled his eyes. It would take months before Strife would be really useful to him. But there was no reason to double that time. “Follow me.”
Ares led him to a bare room in the temple where one wall was covered in weapons. He took two short staffs and tossed on at Strife hitting him in the chest as it clattered to the floor and Strife whimpered placing a hand to his chest.
“I couldn’t have hurt you,” Ares growled and Strife took a step back, the tone reminding him of his mother. Ares arched his brow and approached. “Let me see,” Ares said tugging at the collar of his outfit. “How do you take this off?”
“I don’t know.”
“How do you…” Ares asked, at Strife blank look he continued, “relieve yourself, you know go?”
“I make it go ‘way, she didn’t like it, said I made the temple smell and I went too much.”
“‘way,” Strife said with a little waving motion. Ares frowned, knowing it had to go somewhere and just hoping he never had the luck of finding out where. Shaking his head he slid a finger down the front of Strife’s chest forcing the leather to fall open. Swearing when he saw the bruises that covered the boy.
“That bitch,” he snarled as he tore off the outfit and revealed more and more bruises. Some yellowing and fading some bright and stark against the pale skin. “Apollo,” he called and frowned when he heard a response instead of the immediate arrival of the god. “Yes, just bruises he can come.”
Apollo appeared then holding his young son Asclepius on his hip. He whistled when he caught sight of the damage. “Training?”
“Discord, I wanted to see if there was anything else.”
Apollo nodded knowing that if Ares had resorted to calling his sister by her position instead of name he was angry. “I guess you wouldn’t worry about a few bruises huh bro?” Placing his son on the ground he went over to Ares and yanked on his leather pants.
“Up!” Ares lifted the young blond and carried him much like Apollo had done and as an afterthought had a small stuffed armed war horse appear in his hand and handed it to his nephew. Asclepius squealed with delight and shrieked when the horse made a sound as he squeezed it.
Apollo took one look at his son, the noisy toy, back at his son then settled on Ares, “I hate you.” Ares smiled innocently and materialized some candied fruits. “A lot.” Apollo added before focusing on Strife. Blinking he scanned the young god three times before falling back in shock.
“Strife, how old are you?” Apollo asked in a strained tone that brought Ares attention away from Asclepius.
“Four,” he replied and both gods shook their heads. Apollo looked pale and Ares was ready to kill.
“Ares, his bones…gods, it’s a miracle he hasn’t shattered anything, they are so thin, if skin wasn’t so…he would have been torn apart. She aged him a good decade and badly I might add.”
“Can we change him back?”
“It will take a lot of work, we will need to find Eris, you will have to talk to Hera, it could kill him, and in the meanwhile I don’t want to try to heal him it might make this permanent. He should be in bed, when I said his bones were near shattering I meant it.”
Ares waved a hand at Strife and he was in soft dark blue cotton pants and shirt. Asclepius took a look at Strife and pouted. “Down!”
Ares placed him down and watched as he walked over to Strife and handed him the horse. Strife smiled and hugged it close, stroking the soft mane.
“Better,” Asclepius said and walked over to his father and was instantly lifted.
“Well you heard him its time for bed,” Ares said in a much gentler tone than he had been using before. Now knowing who he was actually dealing with he felt somewhat guilty and led Strife to his room instead of the small closet like room he had given the boy.
Tucking Strife in he noted a small burst of power and a white feather appeared in his hand held tightly but safely as he fell asleep. Ares shook his head as he placed the owner of the feather though a smile tugged at his lips.
He left the room and wondered what Eris deserved for what she did and hoped it was very painful. He did not abide the destruction of children.