"And then when I'm the best warrior in the whole wide world, I'll build the biggest, bestest temple to you. It'll reach the sky!" As Ares heard the small childish voice in his mind, he called up a mirror to look for the child the voice belonged to.
'Joxer! There you are.' Ares' eyebrows rose as he noted the bruises on the delicate face crying into the doll and frowned.
Joxer's mom had made the doll for her youngest son's birthday two years ago when the boys turned three. It was an instant hit with Joxer. He instantly fell in love with it and he carried it everywhere with him.
The doll came to Ares attention one day when he was bombarded with an intense prayer of such strength and conviction he had to investigate.
To his much surprise the prayer came from a three year old boy. Somehow the doll had opened a direct channel to Ares, but since Ares received energy from the child's prayers, he didn't do anything about it.
He saw promise in the young one. If he managed to grow up, he would lead Ares' army one day. Ares was already planning to steer the right men toward Joxer to start his training.
But the beatings from his father...'I'll have to deal with that soon.' Ares thought to himself. When he saw that Joxer was asleep, he broke the connection.
As few days passed when he noticed that Joxer hadn't prayed to him lately. He decided to investigate. What he found shocked him. Joxer was laying on his bed, broken, black and blue. The bandage around his head suggested a concussion.
Ares decided that he needed to investigate what had happened further. He looked into the past and found that Joxer's father had almost killed him two days ago when he embarrassed his father before some other warriors.
The anger that Ares felt when the images faded only grew when Joxer woke up two days later. His destiny had changed forever. Gone was the coordination and agility. Gone as the everything that would have made Joxer as leader among men. Joxer didn't even remember what had happened; nor anything about his small life of five year. His best friend was gone. He didn't even remember it. He only felt a loneliness he couldn't describe.
The day that Joxer woke, his father was called to war where he died, alone and unmourned in a field.
It was late at night when Ares appeared by the barn on the the families homestead. Joxer's uncle had arrived, married his brothers widow, and took over everything. Not much improved. But Ares wasn't too concerned about that. The beatings would stop. He made sure of that. He was here to look for something special.
Ares spotted the doll and pulled it out of the trash. With a small flash the refuse was gone and the doll was the way it was two weeks ago. Even the tear stains were there. Ares looked toward the house and disappeared. He arrived in his main temple. He walked into his bed room, headed toward the shelves that aligned one wall. Then very gently placed the doll on a shelf.
'I'm sorry. I should have done something sooner.'