Ares dropped to the floor of his temple, more exhausted than ever. It was not easy to be beaten by his bastard brother Hercules without really being able to fight back because of their father's orders. Zeus had long proclaimed his beloved son Hercules under his protection. Whoever touched the demi-god would be severely punished. Ares had more than once suffered recriminations from the god of gods after having crossed the hero's path. The god of war had learned how to face his half brother without causing any physical damage to him. But after a while Ares had to learn to voluntarily lose face otherwise Hercules would complain to their father and cause even more problems for him. As a result, Ares managed to appear weaker in Hercules' eyes. More so when he had to let the hero destroy his plans even when it was vital that a war be fought for the good of humanity.
Juggling between Zeu's orders on this or that war and his orders on the perpetual welfare of his beloved demi-god son was tiring at best …
Today Ares just had enough. His warriors were asking more and more questions about his failures against Hercules, Zeus was still punishing him for not doing his duty as a war god (even though Hercules was at fault for those failures). And Hercules was becoming in addition imbued with himself.
So the war god let himself fall to the ground, lying on the black stone and enjoying its coolness after the terrible heat of the battlefield. But before he had time to really relax Zeus's call came to him, more of an order than a request. Ares got up and arranged his clothes before appearing in his father's office.
Like every time he entered this room, the war god held his head high in a haughty manner. He raised an eyebrow of interest to what his father might want and tilted his head slightly to show respect to the god of gods. He had learned very young not to push his father's limits too far.
Zeus rose from his luxurious armchair and approached like a wolf stalking his prey. Before Ares could react his father's power threw him across the room to hit one of the walls with force. The god of war slipped to the ground, forsaking his mask of arrogance. Only his father had ever seen him so defeated as only the god of gods was ever able to put Ares lower than dirt.
"How dare you defy my orders?" Zeus said coldly.
Ares looked up emotionlessly at the other god, "I spared Hercules, as you ordered."
A new wave of power surrounded Ares and lifted him into the air, holding him prisoner in front of his father.
"You lost the war !" The king of gods exclaimed furiously. "The next harvest will not be enough to feed the entire population ! Your opponents were to die so you could conquer their lands and take their reserves ! Now I have to fix your mistakes and put everything back in order, you give me more work than you ever accomplish ! "
Ares narrowly refrained from reminding his father that it was Hercules' fault. If he spoke he would be punished more severely. The god of gods had all power over him. And Zeus did not like to be reminded that it was his orders to leave the demigod hero alone that was causing so much trouble.
Zeus could not fail in anything. The fault always went to another.
In a last attempt to find a solution Ares said: "Maybe if you found a mission to entrust to Hercules to keep him busy while ..." His father hit him. Not with his power but with his fists and all the strength of a god.
Ares coughed and spat blood. It had been a long time since Zeus had touched him even to punish him. One day he had decided to start using his energy to torture his son and had never stopped.
"If you're so incompetent that you beg for my help, then maybe you're not made for your job." The spark in Zeu's eyes frightened Ares more than anything his king had ever done up to this day. A terrifying glimpse of a dark and painful future.
A hand grasped Ares' throat leaving him little air to breathe. As Ares was a fighter and used to survive everything thrown at him he told himself it was nothing more than a bad time to pass. Yet this time was different, as he was unfortunately about to discover.
Zeus's power enveloped Ares slowly. And just as slowly the immense energy clung to Ares' god of war power, drawing it out of the body that sheltered it. Ares felt torn from the inside, as if his soul was being removed. It was not that far from te truth. He was born destined to be the god of war. His soul had been unique and the only one able to hold that power and not get lost in the madness that war fury provoked. Ares was the only soul in the world able to master this particular deity. Destiny had seen him and guided him to be born of the god of gods and become what he was today.
To take away his power was to kill him slowly. But Zeus did not care that he was hurting his own child, did not even think Ares was of any real use. Surely someone other than him could receive the gift of the god of war. A person more powerful, smarter, more helpful. Someone who would follow all of Zeus' orders without restriction.
And to avoid angering his wife, Hera mother of Ares, Zeus would send his son among the men oon Earth. As long as the boy lived Hera could not say anything. Because even as queen, she had no right to interfere with the king's decisions or even to react in any way. As long as Hera was married to him, Zeus had complete control of the goddess. He let her rage from time to time to release anger and avoid having to worry more about her. And then he could punish her because she often went after the same person: that being whom every god had been forbidden to touch. Hercules.
When the power finally left Ares's almost unconscious body, Zeus let him go, staring at him crashing to the ground and his head hitting the rock with a crack. Yes ... he was no longer a god now. His former power no longer protected him from the wounds he might receive. Zeus laughed. Such an incompetent person was of no use to him. One of his other children would be better able to wage wars.
Zeus turned his gaze to the door that had just opened with a crash. In the dorway were some of the major gods of his pantheon.
Hera watched in horror as her son collapsed at Zeus' feet. The only thing preventing her from crumbling at this sight was the arms of Hephaestus and his wife Aphrodite. The goddess of love had hidden her face in the queen's neck and Hera could feel the young woman tears on her bare skin. Ares's nephew, Strife, had eyes emptied of life. No more humor to hide eyes aged by an horror filled life. As his mother, Eris, had no more glimmer of madness to camouflage the real love she had for her brother Ares. But the worst of all at this moment was Cupid, son of Aphrodite and Ares. All his attention was fixed not on his wounded father but on the ball of energy that Zeus kept in the hollow of a hand. A glimmer of power that belonged only to Ares.
In this second, understanding filled the young god's mind. The force that the whole pantheon had felt shake Olympus and guided them here ... this force was the destruction of the god of war ... by the hand of Zeus.
Cupid then flew in a mad rage. The greedy hunger of blood with which he had been cursed and which all the gods prevented from reappearing by any means possible. The rage that could turn the god into a creature with nothing else in mind than complete annihilation of what had put him in that state. But it was too late. Because Cupid was reacting to his father's suffering. The little reason that remained in him constantly murmured Ares' name.
The young god threw himself at Zeus.
Zeus did not move a millimeter. His eyes full of disgust watched this thing with a god's power. Even there, Ares had failed. Having a perfect heir was a simple thing as seen when he himself had created Hercules. Although Hercules was not yet ready to take the power of the god of war, Zeus had brought him into existence for this purpose. He had wanted a son in every way better than the one Hera had given him.
The god of gods hit his grandson to push him away. The child's attacks had become more tiresome than disturbing.
Taking advantage of this carelessness, the creature Cupid had become stopped using physical strength in favor of the power of love's house residing inside of him. This second of inattention from Zeus allowed him to wrest the energy the king had stolen from Ares. Cupid grabbed the ball of power and threw it in the same movement towards his unconscious father. Zeus uttered a cry of disbelief.
In their corner, paralyzed by first the vision of Cupid's transformation and then that of the two gods in combat, the other gods could only bear witness. Hera tried to extricate herself from the arms holding her back when she saw her grandson's actions. Especially when the god of war's power was returned this way to Ares. It could not be good. Because even if the 'magic', for lack of any other word than power or energy, entered Ares' body in this way...
...while Zeus had burned everything that connected the soul of his son to war's power before tearing it away. There would be nothing left to tie the two separate parts of this precious person. Ares could not survive the restitution in his state. The power could not bind itself again to its other half, would even eventually destroy it.
It was too late...