A few warnings attached with this one, it is an interpretative story about Artemis and Orion, and when I say that I mean, yes there is sex. I know Artemis is a virgin goddess, and that I’m changing the story around and having the two of them making love, it's my story, I can do anything (starts getting mental pictures). I've probably expired my poetic license with this one as quite a few other facts have been changed as well, but this story, unlike (or possible like) a lot of other myths does not have background explanation or large amount of story associated with it so I had to make it up as I went along. Anyway, also know that there is some violence, swearing, and the like, it wouldn't be one of my stories without people getting slaughtered.
With one mighty hit to the cracking polis walls, the last great obstacle to their victory lay in a crumbled heap of stone and mortar. Looking through the gaping hole, the Nemaens could not help but be in awe at the prise that laid before them, and grin in anticipation as the city's defenders began to rush out from beyond the broken wall to keep them from it.
"To arms, to arms, we will take our victory in the name of Zeus; CHARGE!" The Nemaen general called out, his cry soon lost in a deafening roar of voices, feet, armour and weapons; the sight, the sounds, the very smells of battle ripping through his consciousness, making him alive. Spear and shield in hand and short sword strapped to his hip, he joined the fighting, revelling in the feeling as his spear pierced through armour and flesh, killing one of Mycenae's defenders. He severely injured another man with the edge of his shield, the battle around him becoming inconsequential as he thought only of the hunt, proving himself as a warrior, returning to his father's graces, even dreaming of the possibility of joining the Gods atop Mt. Olympus. It was ultimately why he was here, amongst these men who fought for egoism, survival or profit; his crusade was for a very different cause, since he had taken on this quest to redeem his name and win his place with his father. His blood still burned at the mere mention of the incident, consumed with youthful lust, he had allowed himself to be drugged and blinded, he, a demigod, son of the great Poseidon. At the memory of his humiliation, Vegeta screamed out in rage, lashing out with his spear, the iron tip wrenched through the heart of one man, only to plunge into the gut of another. His weapon, now useless as an instrument of death, became a make shift battering ram as he swept the oncoming Mycenaens out of his way, the unfortunate soldiers sent flying under the force of the young demigod's blows. A sign of his birthright it was, his strength, endurance, ability and near impenetrable skin, along with the tail of his father's people, the symbols of his god hood and they were the tools that would earn back his honour and his name.
"The way is clear, Mycenae is ours, onward into the city, victory is ours!" He shouted out to these latest companions in arms as the last of the polis' defenders fell to the Nemaen sword. Rushing over the remnants of the city's wall and the bodies of its dead men, Vegeta could not help but smirk, another victory under his belt, trial faced and conquest completed all in the pursuit of his dream. He had once been thrown from paradise for his arrogance, now he would earn his way back, every triumph bringing him closer; today would be another achievement to add to the list. At the head of the charging mass of invaders, he wonder if this had been worth the effort at all, after the challenge of overcoming the wall, the subsequent defence of the city had been laughable, especially from such a rich polis. Thinking the entire operation was merely a hollow victory, or a waste of his time, his mind poked at what reasons had possessed him to join this fight, there was no great battle here; and they used to speak so highly of … . At the end of the main thorough fare of the city a tiny band of armoured men appeared; so the enemy did have some balls, not that the small group of soldiers now standing against them could possible provide a challenge.
"Halt, butchers from Nemaen, I give you this as a last warning, return to that steaming pit from whence you came, before we throw you out, in pieces." With such an ultimatum presented to them, the Nemaens reacted the only way they could, and deep, howling laughter soon filled the streets, echoing through the alleys. To every jeer the Mycenaens just smiled, soon joining in their enemy's laughter as the ground beneath their feet shook, the sensation growing stronger and louder with every thump. And with every thump, the invading army grew quieter, and more fearful, at last crying out in panic as the source of the noise came into view; by Zeus and the pantheon above, it was a monster. He, for it was very obviously male, stood head and shoulders above every man there; his legs as thick as a tree trunk, his arms much the same, and his head was like that of a small anvil, square, dense and dim. The shock of red hair and the goofy yet sinister grin upon his face only helped to hit home what Vegeta had already suspected, the man was strong and he obviously knew it, but probably slow, in both action and wit. His fellow soldiers had less confidence in their chances, the intimidation factor alone was enough to send them running, only fear and a possible sense of duty rooting them to their place. Sensing the terror his overwhelming size inspired in every man there, the red haired abnormality began to pose, attempting to display his great strength, waving his arms and legs about like a fool in a Maharaja's court. Ending with one leg straight out, and his back nearly parallel with the ground, his arms by his hips with his hands fanned; Vegeta could hardly keep back his laughter, was this idiot a warrior or a buffoon?
"Since you now have seen reason, if any of you can beat our undefeated champion, we will surrender; if not, you have ten second to retreat before we let Ricoome here tear you all from limb to limb." This was turning out better than he could have dreamed. Without waiting for an order, Vegeta steeped away from the crowd, walking with an air of absolute victory in his stride as he approached the enemy, indicating his intention to fight. Behind him, there was light support, for all that his recent comrades knew of his skill and strength, the odds seemed highly stacked against him, well, to they who could not see the reality of the impending bout. His enemies, on the other hand, took one look at the young demigod, his short stature, wild, upswept, ebony hair, compact build and the odd furry belt tied round his waist and began to laugh, snickering and insulting the 'great Nemaen challenger'. Stupid fools, the whole lot of them; victory was not only in size, but strength, skill, speed and smarts, and in all but the first, he had his opponent beat.
"Aw, he's such a little guy, what's the matter, the men are too scared to fight so they send a boy to do their job. Well, why don't we make this at least sporting, we'll wrestling for it, I'm not sure you're old enough yet to handle a weapon; you might injure yourself." A chorus of laughs from the smaller men surrounding Ricoome filled the air and Vegeta tightened his jaw against shouting out at the insult, oh, that giant idiot will not live to see the setting of the sun. It was just as he had suspected, slow, dense, and far too overconfident, the brainless giant would pay for those cracks about his height, and prowess with a sword. It took all the control the smaller challenger had worked so hard for not to throw his bronze shield through the posing moron's neck, or shout back his own insults; but then what good was revenge if it were not worked for. Walking towards a bare dirt circle in the centre of the city created for such athletic events, he unwrapped his tail from his waist and shed himself of his armour, weapons and under tunic, walking into the wrestling ring gloriously nude and utterly confident, joined quickly by his opponent. The man, Ricoome made a show of his strength and build by another round of moronic poses, that goofy grin still plastered across his face. If it was the last thing Vegeta did, he would wipe that look off this Ricoome’s face, preferably right before he sent him into Hades’s kingdom.
"Is this how you Mycenaens fight, with these ridiculous poses, jumping around like cats in heat; what is this, a contest of strength or humiliation? It must be by miracle alone that you have survived as long as you have. By Zeus, if this is the best you can come up with, it’s a small wonder that the gods themselves have not descended from Mt. Olympus to rid the world of your stupidity sooner!" He cried out, both to egg his opponent on and possibly stop him from his endless series of posturing. Almost before the words were out of Vegeta’s mouth, the once frightened army took up his lead and began yelling out their own insults, their shouting going silent as the giant snarled and charged the smaller man, thinking to rip Vegeta’s head from his shoulders. Crouching low in preparation of the assault, his heels dug a foot long trench in the dirt before he finally stopped the other man’s rampage. Ricoome went wide eyed in shock, the diminutive man had not only stood his ground but had managed a near impossible feat, stopping HIM in his tracks. Something was not right with this guy, he couldn’t possibly defeat the undefeated Ricoome, the greatest champion in on the Peloponnesian peninsula. And with strength he didn’t know any being but himself possessed, the tiny man threw Ricoome off of him, sending the giant frightening close to the tripping out of the circle. The little bastard was not going to win that easily, he was just going to have to do this the hard way. Rushing once more at the man, his hands were poised to grab at shorter warrior’s shoulders, Ricoome more than ready to use his size to physically toss his opponent from the ring. The Nemaen was more unusual than just in the strength department, as he slipped effortlessly out of Ricoome’s way, but not fast enough to escape completely unscathed, as his hand grabbed hold of the flickering tail. The slight blow was enough to make the small man scream out in pain and he hit the dirt, as Ricoome rounded on his enemy and took the advantage that had now been given to him. Looking back at the body writhing on the ground, to this that such a minor blow was enough to knock the wind out of him, ha ha, the giant thought, as if this boy could possibly beat him, he scared him for a few minutes there, but he would always triumph in the end. Walking up to the boy, he began to press one of his massive feet on his downed opponent’s chest, content to squeeze the life out of the bastard.
"Too bad little man, no body beats Ricoome." Lifting his foot up once more, he prepared to bring it down on the boy’s head, when a set of hand flew up and grabbed his foot and effortless tossed the giant off. A light wind had now whipped up the dry, loosen dirt of the tiny fight arena, and Ricoome cursed out, temporarily blinded by the dust. He had that arrogant ass, and when he found him again he would wring that worthless neck until he begged for mercy; and was caught completely off guard as a deep, mocking voice called out to him.
"What’s the matter, ‘Ricoome’, I thought you had me." The wind shifted again and his eyes cleared enough to see the boy right in front of him. Before he could even make sense of what had happened, the tiny Nemaen soldier attacked, punching him mercilessly in the stomach, the blow throwing him back to the other side of the ring. Knocked off his feet, he lost his air for a moment before the pain came more excruciating than he could imagine. Opening his eyes, he saw the small, darker skinned warrior pinning him to the ground, one foot crushing the bones in his forearm while the knee of the other leg pressed firmly in this sternum, cracking his ribs, one at a time.
"What, no come back? I guess I knocked the wind out of you, in more ways than one. Can’t the great undefeated champion face me, is this really the best you can do?" The foot on Ricoome’s broken arm slowly began to rolled the fractured bone fragments back and forth, grinding them into the surrounding tissue. Pitifully, the giant fought back as best as he could, but did little better than helping the smaller man with this slow torture. He could not scream out in pain, his mouth now filling with his own blood.
"Who, or what, the fuck are you?" Ricoome finally rasped out, trying to spat out the metallic tasting blood enough to speak. The pointy haired man only smirked evilly at his suffer; those hard, inhuman eyes shining in triumph, almost in sadistic pleasure at having him in such a state of agony. Bending down close enough to speak into his ear, he felt the man’s hands position on his temples.
"What am I; nothing more than a blow by of the gods, son of Poseidon, child of Euryale, betrayed by Oenopion and his daughter, favoured by Hephaestus, blessed by Helius and the slayer of any who stand in my way. I know more skills than your feeble mind could comprehend, and know it now Ricoome of Mycenae, the name of Vegeta, the last name you will ever know." With every syllable of the little speech, the once carefree, dim-witted face twisted from agonising pain to horrible realisation, even he had known the great legends that followed the man, no demigod above him. Swallowing down the overwhelming amount of blood that choked his breathing, he didn’t get in another word before the hands on his head began to tighten.
"Too bad, all those undefeated battles and the one loss ended up being fatal; send Hades my regards, ‘boy’." Vegeta laughed out, and with a flick of his wrists, the muscles, nerves and bones severed under the titanic strength that flowed through his veins, and finally the weaker flesh gave way and head was ripped away from body. Giving one last glance into those glassy, lifeless eyes, he stood up from his kill, the head in his hand, and easily kicked the carcass in a heap before the stunned Mycenaens. Smirking at their utter disbelief, he raised his empty hand to shoulder level, and with the knowledge gleamed from his encounter with the Sun’s charioteer and the god of fire, a ball of energy formed in his hand. One second the square was completely silent, the next it exploded with shouts, light and the smell of burning flesh as the dead champion exploded into flames. Their spirits now broken with the demise of their champion, the city’s defenders fell to their knees in defeat, and the cries of the Nemans soon flooded the streets. Covered with dust and his enemy’s blood, the triumphant demigod held the severed head out to the cheering mass before him, as his ears rang with a single word, a name shouted over and over again.
"Vegeta! Vegeta! Vegeta! … ."
"Sir, we found the last of them; they were taking refuge in the temple of Hestia, followers of the virgin goddess and the temple’s oracle, nothing more than three young priestesses and an ugly, old wench. If I might ask, sir, that we give the virgins to the men, it's been too long since we have had some good sport, and they are, as you can see for yourself, very tempting morsels." The lower ranked soldier replied, as the last of the city's citizens were brought before the general and his high ranking officers. With the wave of the general's hand, the women were brought before the men, three dark haired, brown eyed women, all young, lovely and deathly afraid all but one, the fourth and oldest of their group. Their arms and legs weighed down by thick shackles and strung together with a heavy chain, the younger women silently wept for the fate they knew awaited them. The hard reality that was descending upon, as army whore and slaves, of harsh beatings and horrid treatment, was too much for most of them to bear. Only one of their number faced the enemy with a completely passive demeanour, the ancient head priestess of the temple. Standing at the end of the chained group, her tiny shoulders straight, her pink-grey head high and her weathered, hardened face set and determined, she waited, somehow knowing the outcome of this terrible audience. Trust in Hestia, in Bulma and Chichi, they would not see their faithful fall, she had said to them all as the Nemaens banged down the door of the inner sanctuary of the temple. One of the soldiers, tired of the their weeping, grabbed the young woman at the head of the line, his hand gripping her bare shoulder and sliding down her exposed back as he forced her to the ground.
"Sir, think of how we could put fear in these Mycenaen dogs with such a move, they would learn the true penalty for treason or resistance; that no one is safe from our wrath."
"Think of what a dishonour we would be doing to the goddess Hestia, are you willing to tempt your fate and that of your fellow soldiers by enraging the gods with such a sacrilege. Raping and torturing the followers of a chaste order, have you not heard the legends of those who go against the gods, or do you think yourself beyond them; they have a punishment for men of that mind as well. I myself have seen the tortures, and heard the tales of those who commits such acts against them, seen whole families and villages wiped out for a dishonour. The blood of the great god of the sea himself runs through my veins, I know the great power they have, and how the enjoy destroying such arrogant and simple minded mortals." The original soldier who had suggested the plan was now red in the face with anger and hatred at the speaker who dared to rip his ideas down, and throw his divine heritage in his face. Those around him though backed away slowly, trying to distances themselves from the heretic both physically and symbolically. It was one thing to speak of such a plan, but the possibility of encoring the wrath of the gods was more than they wished for.
"As to instilling fear in the people, the most you would instil is a further hatred, and a great justification for rebellion. We have already taken over their city, their champion lays dead, but to punish innocents, and symbols of the gods, in such a way, it is not only unnecessary but overly barbaric, unHellenic. The Mycenaens have been utterly defeated, there is nothing for them now but to accept the rule and rebuild their city under Nemaen rule, and to give them a further reason to resist would be counterproductive. No profit or gains can be made in such an atmosphere; unless you mean to cut the creature's head off, do not abuse it so, or it will one day strike back." By what madness had overcome him to actually mount a defence for that unbearable lot of women, he could not say. Letting prisoners of war remain untouched, especially those of the female variety, went against his beliefs, as both an intelligent warrior and a man with a more than healthy drive. What was a woman but another spoil of war, used to satisfy the physical needs, and the lure too bring a man to his end, or very close. Maybe his experience had given him a brain when dealing with such matters, unlike those newly baptised soldiers, or maybe he did not want to see all his work and his name ruined by avoidable stupidity.
The Nemaen general nodded his agreement and with a curt command, the women were released and the over eager soldier reprimanded. The small collection of silent, seething men followed their comrade out to the front steps of the main civic building, which served as temporary centre of operations, where he would receive a lash or two for his efforts. All of the soldiers kept their eyes mostly to the floor, but every one of them gave at least a passing glance of either rage, envy, annoyance, or all three at Vegeta. His origins were well known throughout the ranks, his name and legend reaching every edge of the known Hellenistic world; his ability and strength greatly respected and feared, but his position with this army was not. That a foreign warrior, born in the palace of Crete and a stranger to Nemae, a soldier for hire was such a favourite of their general and the hero of the day burned many of the men. Their victory was overshadowed by his deed within the wrestling circle, and though it won them the day and the city, it earned him a few critics in the ranks, certainly no one willing to challenge the demigod. This latest confrontation did nothing more than drive the wedge of hatred deeper.
Waiting until he was alone with only his most trusted officers, the general finally spoke to the women, the weeping of the priestesses enough to make him reneg the earlier pardon.
"Silence woman, by the gods of Olympus. I swear it is a mystery that baffles the mind, how you ever reached the placement of priestess; I would have thought orders of that sort were for people of stronger stuff than that." A series of chuckles from his officers echoed on the heels of his comments, and, much to the men's relief, an end to the fearful wailing. Standing with as much dignity as the scenes before could allow, the three shuttering women waited for the inevitable requests that would come as payment for their lives and sacred chastity.
"That’s much better, for a while I thought I might give up the city and the victory if it would silence them of their weeping. What an untapped weapon, and these fools actually relied on that red-haired duffus as their saviour; I doubt even you could overcome such a force, Vegeta." There was again a chorus of laughter at the general’s ridiculous words, and a few stares and snickers directed towards the brooding warrior. At the mention of Ricoome and his demise at the hands of the man who had saved their own lives, the women demurely shifted their eyes to the statue like figure who they assumed had ensured the enemy’s victory. Statue was right, he seemed built of solid marble, if it came in such a warm, olive shade. Every inch of visible flesh was hard, smooth, chiselled to perfection, from the aristocratic planes of that divine face to his compact but powerfully honed frame. The inky blackness of his wild, flame-like hair, thick, slanted brows and piercing pupils only highlighted the inherent danger that surrounded the man like an aura. Showing as much interest as their vows allowed, and even more than was allowed, all the women gazed upon the living legend; half condemner, half saviour. He seemed to pull at their sense of survival, and in a very real way, tugged at another primal instinct; that aura of the unknown and the danger of him a very real threat. A subtle cough by the oracle of the temple brought their attention away from the enigmatic male, all three holding back the pink blush that tinted their cheeks.
"And what service are you expecting in return for this reprieve?" The tiny crone asked, with a tone that proclaimed to the whole room she already knew the answer, and a stare that looked into your very mind levelled at the seated general. The man shifted uncomfortably in his seat before he squared his shoulders and hardened his face against the unseemliness of appearing weak.
"So you are the brains of this temple, and a woman who understands that everything comes with a price, a true rarity among your sex. As to our price, it is simple, an offering made in our name to the goddess, and a public declaration by your supporters and the members of your temple accepting our rule. Do and run everything as you wish, but only with an agreement to the terms stated." An acceptance of the inevitable was a far kinder punishment than the rape and torture they were facing not twenty minutes earlier. In reality, what was this campaign but a switching of the face of the male dominated existence beyond the walls of their sanctuary, another regime of war loving, pompous, self-obsessed males trying to win the loyalty of the temple. What did it really matter, it was hardly a punishment at all, paying these new rulers lip service, now that they were free to worship and their lives secure. Babba was right, have faith in Hestia, in Bulma and Chichi, her sisters in chastity, and they would be protected. Bowing their acceptance, one of the priestesses gave a sideways glance to the demigod, his arms folded across his chest and his eyes were cold, and unaffected as they bore into Babba’s own gaze. The legends must be more fact than fiction if he could actually stare down the hard line, frightening oracle. It was even more shocking to look over and see Babba returning the warrior’s look with one of her own, an odd mixture of inner knowledge and grudging respect.
"Long have I been expecting you, son of Poseidon, though I was led to believe that you were a giant." Of all the reactions they had expected for the mysterious man, the deep rumbling laughter that erupted from the demigod’s throat was not one of them. Smirking down at the four of them, he replied in a voice that almost made the women’s insides melt.
"Never a giant in height, but a giant killer, with titanic strength; the true stature of a man is in much more than his height, witch. At least my name has travelled intact, but if you think your words impress me, then I’ll tell you now that your sight is faulty." The arrogance his features had hinted at were now proven without a shadow of doubt when he opened his mouth, yet Babba had remained remarkably silent throughout his little speech, observing him carefully.
"What a balancing act you must live, keeping that pride from overshadowing the natural intelligence you seemed to reveal earlier, a true blessing really, though I see you have not always been so clear thinking. You whole life is poised on a razor’s edge: pride in yourself countered by hard learned humility and reason, your overwhelming desire to succeed to the greater reality of your own failings, the blood of the god combating that of human. You wish for a place amongst the gods, to return to the point before your disgrace and blinding, but you know not how to obtain it; I guess some blindness never goes away." Babba said, looking up at Vegeta as if she were reprimanding a disobedient child, presenting all of his faults out to the open for everyone to see.
"Strong words from a woman that has so recently been given a reprieve of her life, which can just as easily be taken away. You would dare speak that way to me, you shrivelled witch, when I could easily rip you apart for such insolence. Do you care so little for your life, your great protectors would not save you from a death that you earned with your own stupidity, but, if you care so little for your life I would be more than happy to end it." The tone of his voice was like silk over an iron blade, deceptively soft yet deadly, as he answered the outspoken seer. Descending to the lowest level of the chamber, he began to walk towards the group of women, his eyes centred on one in particular; oracle of Hestia be damned, he would make that woman rue the day she called him blind.
"Stupid bitch, your life would be secure and peaceful if you’d just kept your mouth shut and did what you were told. Did you think I would fall for such simple lies, ‘you have been expecting me’, why wench, so you can tell me my destiny?" By that time, he was almost standing before the quartet, the looks of attraction that the three young women had given him before were gone now, replaced with those of fear, but still the old women held her ground, revealing nothing of what she knew.
"I cannot tell you your destiny, whether you know it or not, your end is already written out in the stars, not to be altered or changed, but the path you take to get there will be the deciding factor, if the memory of your name is told in triumph or tragedy. The way you walk upon now is towards a painful death, earned through your arrogance." Giving a smirk to his fellow soldiers, as if to say the woman had lost her mind he turned on her, the thought of violence out of his mind; the only thing in his mind now was to prove her wrong.
"Well then," Vegeta said, his voice low and thick with sarcasm. "Tell me, wise one, what advice can you give me to set me on the ‘right path’, to the same end. But unless your mumbo jumbo sees me amongst the Gods, I think I’ll stick to my own way."
"Your fate will never see you scale up to Olympus, but your reward is greater than that, whether it becomes a reward or a punishment though is up to you. While you are strong, and wiser than most, your arrogance will led you to your downfall. You think you can enter the realm of the gods by defeating mortals who have not the skill or power that your blood has granted you; no honour comes to the man who whacks at flies but fears facing the lions. If you wish equality in the place of the gods, then you must prove equality to them. You think yourself the best, then you must face the best and prove yourself superior, then and only then will you return to the good will of your father." Never in his life, in all the battles and confrontations he had found himself in, never had he encountered an opponent so utterly confident, absolutely infuriating and completely correct. The insight she had just given him was so simple, and yet those words were wiser than any he had ever heard. All the sounds within the room halted, only the echo of the crone’s voice in the large hall could be heard, the words hitting him over and over again, as the realisation washed over him. Squaring his shoulders and standing a little taller to cover the blow the woman had dealt him, he faced her again, in the hopes of learning more and revealing nothing of his shock; he might have been thrown for a loop but he would rather die than expose that fact.
"Simple enough to say, but the doing is far greater than you could imagine. How am I to even engage the gods in competition, or maybe I should scale Olympus itself and take them all on at once. Unless of course, you have a name, date and location to give me as well." The old witch smiled, not of higher, inner knowledge or smug superiority but of general gladness; if he can allow his arrogance to give way to better sense just a little more, there might be hope for him yet.
"No, as much as you deserve a sound beating, such a plan as that would be fool hearted, and suicidal. Your path is one where you must prove yourself one deed, one ability at a time, and for all that you are known for; your strength, speed and fighting skills, it is your skill in the hunt that surpasses them all. Your path then, would lead to the goddess Bulma, goddess of the hunt and greatest of hunters; in her you will find the first and greatest challenge, for it will take all you know to succeed."
"And where would I find her, crone?" Vegeta bit back, starting to enjoy the exchange.
"I'm not a secretary for the gods … " Babba began before she was quickly interrupted.
"Really, you could have fooled me." Waiting for the Nemaen officers who lounged behind the demigod to stop laughing before she continued. Why powers greater even than the gods would decide upon this fate she would never know.
"But you will find her on Delos, the island of her birth and sanctuary of her mother, Leto. If you are serious about proving your worth, you must offer a challenge, to either the goddess or her nymphs and a time, day and location will be set up for the match. Consider yourself fortunate, son of Poseidon, the goddess Bulma accepts all comers, not that there are many fool-hearty enough to try, but defeat does not mean death, a kindness most gods do not observe. If by some luck or your own good fortune you come back with the skin of one Bulma's own creatures, the white stag, the golden hind, the great bear, or a silver arrow from her quiver, then you will be known through all of Greece as the greatest hunter of both mortal and divine blood." The fire of interest the oracle's word sparked in his mind now raged in his eyes, clear for all to see for one brief moment, only to be lost in his emotionless raven stare. Turning his back to the followers of Hestia, he again crossed his arms over his chest and flashed them a contemptuous smirk over his shoulder.
"Amusing tale, woman, I think you've missed your true calling, you should have taken up the trade of sage, not oracle. Still, you should consider yourself fortunate, for whatever worth your words have, they have entertained me enough to spare your life. And if you," he said, changing his gaze from the women to the seated general. "Have no other purpose for them, I see no reason for them to remain in our presence." The general was silent, as dumb founded by the old woman's words and the gaul of her to say them to a man, demigod, such as Vegeta, as where all the men around him. Seeing his friend's blatant attempts to hide his own shock, the Nemaen commander could not hide the grin that pulled on his mouth.
"Definitely not, the command room for an army is no place for simpering women and silly stories. Away and prepare the offering for tomorrow morning." Bowing her understanding, Babba gave her respect to the men and turned to leave, not giving a glance back to her other three companions. Realisation finally dawning on them, the trio quickly bowed and took the out offered to them, not though, without glancing back at the officers, or one in particular. Waiting until the soft padding of the retreating footsteps had faded into nothing, Vegeta finally face the general and his staff.
"If you would, I will be taking leave of your ranks and would ask for my share of the spoils." At the request, the grin the general had tried to suppress spread full across his face, and his contained commanding voice cracked with amusement.
"Going on a trip are we, yes, I would imagine the coast would be lovely at this time of year, but for whatever reason would you have to go, and so soon after such a resounding victory? If it is your wish, I cannot stop you; I doubt any man could, and I certainly think we can grant you at least five thousand drachmas." He proclaimed, and sent a servant into the adjoining chamber which housed Mycenae's treasury. "A very generous sum, enough to get you to your destination and with a good amount of supplies for your journey." It didn't take long for the man to return, carrying under his arm a palm sized bag of gold pieces. Getting up from his seat and walking towards his friend, the general handed over the huge bag, but not without getting the last few digs that he could in.
"Five thousand drachmas, count it if you wish. I must say, you have earned this greatly, I'm sure the story of that giant's slaying will travel far. Good luck to you, son of Poseidon on your journey, though, maybe you would prefer one of the young priestesses to take as a travelling companion allow with your prise."
"Shut up." His lips curling in an annoyed scowl at those words, but it did not reach his eyes, which glowed with excitement at his new quest, and with amusement at the silly women and their not so secret stares. Again hiding his emotions behind a wall of indigence, he walked out the hall in full battle array towards his greatest challenge of his life.
It was a glorious day atop the blessed Mount Olympus, the realm of the gods sitting like a rare jewel upon the fertile green pasture lands, rugged, rocky coastline and temperamental ocean of the lower, mortal world. It was a place never to be touched by rain or snow, harsh winds or bitter cold; to be kept in a state of perpetual bliss, protected by Season's gate of clouds. Though every god and goddess had a palace atop the mount, none could rival that of Zeus, the great god over all the heavens and king of every deity. It was in his palace that the gods would meet to talk, and drink, to enjoy the hospitality of their host and today was no different. What peaceful sounds could be heard from the palace this day, the haunting lilt of a lyre, the bewitching voices of the Muses as they gave words to the music, the splashing of wine, the consuming of food, two shrieking females voices, soft whispers of … wait a minute, two shrieking voice?
Accepting a cup of nectar from a passing nymph, the dark haired war goddess sighed as she watched her fellow sister go at it yet again, by Zeus, does anyone actually remember how it all had started? No, she remembered, at one time it had been a part of this discussion from the beginning, until Aphrodite had levelled all of her attacks on Bulma. Now, no matter how much she itched to throw herself into the fray and join the debate she could not, her respect for her friend and half sister kept her at bay; Aphrodite had challenged Bulma and there was nothing she could directly do to help her. Though, smiling at a cleverly worded attack by the blue haired moon goddess, she doubted her virgin sister needed the help.
It was not more than five months ago, at one of the monthly summons Zeus gave to come to Mount Olympus. Although most gods enjoyed the lavish existence of heaven, there were many, like Poseidon and Hades, who kept to their own realm; and like Bulma and Demeter, who lived in the realm of the morals. Chichi still remembered the look upon the blue haired goddess' face as they met in the palatial home of the King of the gods. News of her father's continued infidelity, mostly inspired by the arrows of Eros, were always reaching her ears, and this time the female was Callisto, a nymph and follower of Bulma. As punishment for allowing Zeus to seduce her, and breaking her vow of chastity, the nymph was transformed into a black bear, a penalty the goddess of the hunt had used many times before to men who had crossed her. But, when she say the sadness, the strange look of uncertainty that glowed from those blue eyes, she could only wonder what had caused the change.
"You know, I have always been so strict with the virtue of my followers, expecting them to have their virtues as principal as my own, but is it more than should be expected, to punish a woman for the sins of the man, even if it is our father." Chichi couldn't help but let out a light chuckle, for all that she didn't care for her father's infidelity, she could not imagine anyone punishing him, well maybe Hera. Even Bulma herself was the product of infidelity, but never had it been of issue with her, though she had never penalised one of her own so harshly.
"What is it that is bothering you more, that you condemned Callisto or that she could not keep her vow? A life of chastity is not a simple thing, especially among the mortal; as goddesses we have power enough to protect ourselves from such advances, and influence enough to ensure that we are not subjected to treatment that would have us use the former. For mortals, such power is not within their grasp, but the intentions are good, and that is the greatest pledge they can offer, their adoration and promise of a good and virtuous life. They can offer no more than to live such a life and show us loyalty and praise, and we in turn protect them from the evils of their mortal lives and give them an example by which to live." Chichi answered back, but even that answer could not appease the Moon goddess.
"I condemned Callisto because she could not keep her vow, she gave into the temptation of earthly pleasures over that of higher minded living, but, but if I am to practice the doctrine of virtue, why should I not pardon her by it. It is the inherit contradiction of our callings, you yourself hold the position of both goddess of war and knowledge, but if knowledge itself truly reigned, what would be the need for war, do you not feel torn by it all? When I took up as the goddess of the hunt, so too did I take up the mantle of goddess of child birth, to protect those newly born and those almost born. Also there is the job to protect those in child birth, even as they have disowned the beliefs of chastity, and if the pain of their labour is too great, then to give a mercy death. The physical virtue in these cases is gone, but it is replaced with the greater virtue of life itself, is not life the greater good than virtue itself?"
"Ah," Chichi replied, her brown eyes a glow with such a deep question; it wasn't often when she would get such opportunities as these to think so freely about more abstract thoughts. "So you question is even deeper than just Callisto, what is the greater good, virtue and honour or duty and life? It is the highest honour for a woman to take up the life of chastity and virtue, such that we ourselves have done, but it is the highest and most natural order that she give up such a life for the benefit of hearth and home, give herself to a man and her life to her children. The two choices they are, two polar opposites existing in a single being, a life sacrificed for either one or the other."
"And neither choice offering a simple solution; which is greater, which offers the greater reward, what is the better purpose, what is the truest nature of the entity in which the opposites exist?" Bulma asked, with a voice so soft in tone that the question was asked more to herself than her companion. Chichi looked on at the blue haired goddess as she pondered her own question, her brow furrowed, attempting to reason out these new and dangerous thoughts, to quell the chaos that seemed come in the wake of such things.
"Then tell me, Bulma, what to you is virtue, not the highest or greatest but your ultimate virtue, what is the nature of woman in your mind?" The goddess of knowledge asked in return. At the simple but perplexing question, Bulma straightened and smiled, taking note of the veiled question contained within, and spoke the words that were her own sense of true virtue.
"Woman must believe in truth, must live it, see it, know it, for nothing can grow without knowledge and knowledge is truth. The true nature of woman is to be chaste, to live in virtue and seek wisdom as it will help her to find herself. Through a life of sacrifice, chastity and honour can one see themselves as they really are, and have wisdom enough to know their path, they will find the path to true virtue and peace." Both women were shocked as their discussion was intruded upon by a loud clapping and a loud snicker and looked to find themselves receiving the hand from a very amused goddess of love.
"Wonderful, wonderful, spoken like a true prude, but what can one expect from a goddess who has never known anything but a simple life of bread and water; even if she is the product of the thing that she seems to hate the most. But tell me, if you believing so much in ‘truth’ and ‘beauty’, how can you truly know everything unless you have experienced everything? The real nature of woman is to take everything she can, enjoy everything she can, use what she wants and remember always to honour the true goddess." Aphrodite said, her eyes alight with the wine and nectar she had drank throughout the party, and her voice definitely indicating that she wanted to take a bite out of the twosome. Long had their been bad relationships between the three, that two goddesses stood in open defiance towards her rule, refusing to give into love and the pleasures that came with it, particularly the physical ones, was a thorn in her side. That they also spoke against her son’s activities among the gods and mortals was another cause of contention; never being a particularly patient or understanding deity, she took any chance she could to speak against them.
"What is the matter, Bulma, I would expect such pathetic talk from Chichi, she has never shown any interest in anything greater than a good fight or a mortal’s sense of right or wrong. But you, you were born in the very blood of sin, and yet you take anyway Callisto’s own humanity for the same crime your mother performed. Even being the goddess of the hunt, and you’ve never known the greatest hunt, but then, you wouldn’t even know what to do with a man if you did catch one; by the way, how is Yamcha, still in eternal slumber? And never knowing the reason behind his everlasting nap, maybe that is why you have never loved a man, you fear if they actually get a look at you in your true form they would run screaming." Laughing at her own joke, her thoughts slightly tipsy from the wine, she didn’t see Chichi trying to hold steady the enraged moon goddess, her blue eyes flashing with hatred.
"Strong words from a woman who cannot even keep to one man, even as her husband looks on; if your followers took your life as their own lead, the world would be filled with more bastard children and chaos worse than before the time of the Titans. What life is one of excess but one with sorrow and misery in the end, experience is only as great as what you can learn from it, and from what I can see, you have not learned anything from your life, but that you live too heavily on wine. If you did spend more time in contemplation than in drunkenness, you might see that the punishment for such a life is far beyond any rewards, my mother saw such things, thought more of her children and their lives than her own comfort. For all that she gave away her chastity, she took up the greatest honour in raising her children and knowing no other man after that, something you certainly could not boast of." With every word the volume of her voice rose sharply until she was nearly shrieking out, Aphrodite soon following her example. It had gone on like that every meeting since, though they were few and far between, as Bulma cared more for the mortal realm than that of heaven; only a summons by Zeus himself would make her come. And every time Aphrodite was waiting to go into her again, attack Bulma for those insults and debating the greater merits of their view of the nature of woman; needless to say, it did not take long before the two went from speaking to shouting.
"Don’t tell me they’re at it again, I will hand it to Bulma, she can certainly argue with the best of them; I haven’t seen Aphrodite this mad since Psyche." Chichi tried to hold herself as steady as she could against the sudden sound of the voice behind her, the very lilt of it almost causing her to blush in spite of herself. Giving a subtle look over her shoulder, her eyes lit up as she beheld the figure of Bulma’s brother, Goku, shining in all his golden glory, with his wild hair thickly spiked and standing almost on end, and his turquoise eyes glowing jovially. In so many ways he was an antithesis of his sister, as different as the sun and moon; his loves and lovers were as wide and varied as Aphrodite’s, a god of the finer things in life, but still a man of great loyalty and concern for his twin and those under his charge. Adjusting the armour she had fitted over her tunic, Chichi took her eyes away from the handsome god, feigning disinterest, trying not to reveal how she was being affected by his very presence.
"A fine hello to you as well, I swear, you might be the very god of the sun but you can be so oblivious sometimes. Your sister fights on the side which is the greater good, and Aphrodite has done more than enough to warrant a good ripping by your sister and you poke fun. You could really learn from her, considering that you have no care of your own, unless you enjoy being the fool of Eros’ arrows." The black haired, browned eyes war goddess said back, her tone so harsh, it could take off a mortal’s head.
"Forgive me then, great and noble Chichi, mistress of knowledge and goddess of war, born of the very head of Zeus, but what crime did I commit to be so far from your favour? Aphrodite certainly does deserve something, and I for one enjoy the show, I don’t know how is hitting their opponent lower, Bulma or Aphrodite, but I cannot say I’m wholly on my sister side in this. I guess it is good if there are those like her, those that take their position and beliefs so strongly, but that is not the life I would rather live." That joking, lazy grin never fell from his face as he countered her anger with his mocking tone, making Chichi flush in indigence and bashfulness at the compliments.
"Besides, it's nice to hear something other than gossip and whispering up here, I'm sure you are enjoying the headier side of this little match. Unless of course, you wanted to know about it, if the ever high minded Chichi wished to hear about the exploits of the lower gods and puny mortals?"
"No, I would not." She replied firmly, still giving the outward appearance of indifference, as she turned her attention fully back on the argument in front of her, the combatants starting to wind down, flared tempers could only seethe for oh so long. Indeed Goku lost interest in trying to bait her as he watched the end, coming up right behind her, almost to the point of placing a hand on her shoulder; even the closeness between them made Chichi gulp lightly.
"You remind me, Aphrodite, of a man chained in a cave who cannot see the world outside, he lives only through the base and simple experiences around him, believing such a hollow life is the ideal. And for all the wisdom they think they have, they still cannot see the light, will never see the true beauty of life; ignorance is a sad and discontented bliss, nothing more than a happy prison." Bulma sighed, looking down at her opponent with a mixture of glee and triumph, this round had definitely gone to her, for all of Aphrodite's petty words, she had struck back with equal parts wit and mockery.
"Ow, and what about you, you're so afraid of finding a man who might be able to prove you wrong, or make you question your prudish beliefs that you hold your nose in the air and aren't willing to see what lies beyond it. If I am blind, then you, bastard child of Zeus, are nothing but a pathetic coward."
"If it makes me a coward to not take a husband and cheat on him with his own brother then I would gladly accept the mantle, now go back to whatever man you believing is fulfilling you while you stubble through the life you have been so graced with." And with that, the blue haired goddess turned, not looking back to see the various shades of red that dotted the love goddess' face at those words, taking her victory on this day, taking, with great pleasure, the last word. It was with such a glad heart that she smiled to Chichi and Goku, walking over to their small corner of the palace and embraced first her friend then her tempestuous brother.
"I swear you should come and visit more often, Bulma, your beauty and mind are being wasted on those mortals down there; it's been too long, sister." Goku said as he embraced his twin, though the two looked nothing alike. For all that their beliefs and behaviour differed, it was plain to anyone with eyes well enough that they had more plutonic affection for each other than most divine siblings, even as they fought like cats and dogs.
"Better to live with 'weak and feeble-minded' mortals than the vain and over sexed god, not that you wouldn't know anything about that, would you, Goku? In all honesty, if it weren't for the monthly summons and Chichi's enlightening presence, I don't think I'd ever bother to come at all. With all the distractions, we never even got to finish our talk, I never really gave you an answer to your question."
"Oh, I think you did, maybe you not directly but you certainly showed your true nature." Chichi's words making Bulma smile, reminder her of the victory she had gained over such a hated adversary. The doubts that had crept into her mind after the incident with Callisto had finally fallen away, giving way to a exuberance she had not known since Yamcha, the sound of that name bring both a light smile to her face and a heaviness to her heart. A silly first love borne from attraction towards such a handsome face, that feeling of being alive in a way she had never known, as she admired him from a far. At one time, when she was younger and more foolish, she had actually allowed herself to even kiss him, and return for her affection he was given the choice of immortal life in eternal sleep, a choice which he took. Never was anything to happen between them, a foolish mortal accepting the curse of immortality, it was a silly infatuation, worthy of a simpering mortal girl. She was a woman, strong and noble, with no man to stand in her way and no crutch to hold her back, Yamcha had chosen his path, and she now knew hers.
"You don't think Aphrodite made a good point?" Goku finally asked her, earning himself two very icy cold stares. Sensing that he was in hot water, the unfortunate god tried to laugh off the two deadly glares, his hand absently scratching the back of his head in his nervousness.
"You do have a tendency, Bulma, to respond to any kind of challenge by a man with violence, you have a duty to protect young women, but that does not mean that you can do it at the expense of my charges. In all honesty, I don't know why you're punishing mortals for our father's infidelity and Yamcha's short sightedness." From the mouth of a brother came the cruellest blow of all, she forgot how insightful Goku could be, but to tell her such a thing, after her best victory to date against her hormone driven enemy stung a more than anything she liked to admit. How dare he say that she actually feared men, her own brother bring up such things, to throw them in her face and side with her rival; the inexplicable need to strike with equal force overcame her, and she opened her mouth and let fly very anger.
"And you have a tendency of chasing unfortunate nymphs and mortals, to the point where they have changed themselves into laurel tree, and you curse them with sight that no mortal should have, all for your own lusts. All the crimes you have committed against my charges and you dare to bring up the time I defended my modesty, and you blame an innocent for the stupidity of men, if that is the case what is your excuse?" Had she been any other goddess and he any other god, the very palace of Zeus might have become a war zone, but both of them remained silent and unmoving, the once happy reunion becoming a tense stand off. It was not the first time they had shared such hard words, and probably not the last between the two of them, but from the look on Goku's face, a mixture of rage and betrayal was enough to turn even Chichi's blood cold. Even Bulma remained silent, outwardly not backing down from the fight, while inwardly her stomach was twisted in knots at the well masked look of pain on her brother's golden face.
"I'm sure you didn't really mean that, Bulma, I swear Goku, you can be as dim as Ares." Chichi piped in, seeing the possibility of a mini war exploding right before her as she started scolding Goku. Opening her mouth to start on him again, she froze and began to stutter softly as that turquoise gaze levelled on her, only to turn back to Bulma.
"No, she meant it all right, she said it herself, it is in her very nature to seek the truth, to see it and proclaim it, maybe Aphrodite isn't the only one among us who is blind." He snarled out and turned on his heels, disappearing into the crowd of gods, many of whom had been watching the whole thing, their attention moving from the original fight to the sibling stand off. It was on the tip of Chichi's tongue to call out to him, but she knew she could not, what everyone would say if she showed any kind of regard or concern for a man, the dozens of staring eyes making the whole situation even worse. Whatever remorse Bulma had been feeling was once again swept away by the harsh, rash nature of Goku's words, her stubbornness as great as that of her twin. She could back down, not in front of everyone, not after she had finally won, but to say that she could possible fear men, she did not fear them, she hated them, they had become the very bane of her existence.
"Stupid men!" She screamed at him over the crowd, and like her twin she too stocked off, flying as fast as she could to the exit; that would teach her to even think of returning to this horrid place again.
Thinking only of getting away from the whole unpleasantness, Chichi didn't even take the time to address the audience before her; this was not her fight and she would not dignify it by adding more fuel to the fires of gossip that would spread among her arrogant brethren. As soon as her back was turned though it began, some considerate enough to speak softly while others nearly yelled it out for everyone to hear. Weaving her way through the throngs, her ears only picked up the tiniest snippet of conversation, a sly, silken voice that could only be Strife.
" … you should be watchful, soon enough …she will fall, and you'll get revenge."
Her mind possessed by an overwhelming wave of anger, she wasn't even paying attention as she slipped out of the palace, jumped from the mountain top, flew through the dense, ever present cover of clouds and made her way towards the relative peace of Earth. She saw nothing, did not take in any of her surroundings, her body somehow working on instinct alone as she made her way home; only one thought flashing through her mind, her brother's words echoing over again. How could he, argh, she couldn't believe Goku was being such an ass; men, darn all of them, to say that she was afraid and had a vendetta, that she was blind and Aphrodite was right. Why did he say those things, she didn't know what hurt more, that he would take up arms against her in favour of her nemesis, or that there was more truth to his words than she would like to admit. Of course not, but her mind was just a restless mass of anger and confusion, she needed a rest, to escape from a place with no mortals, no gods, and definitely no men. Cursing, she looked down at the azure Aegean; she could not go to Crete, or to her valley, there were just too much activity there, too many mortals, and men, hunters most of all. What she needed was a sanctuary, she thought, as he eyes flitted about the collection of islands at the beginning of Aegean, which divided it from the mighty Mediterranean, finally resting on a large land mass right in the middle. She had found it, ahh, what better sanctuary than the very island which was the refuge of Leto during her persecution, there was but a small group of loyal chaste nymph on the island of Delos, a rich forest and an ideal place to recover. Diving towards the South, she allowed the tension that had collected in her shoulders to ease as she looked forward to a peace rest and a long warm bath. Within moments she had touched down on the island, the lush greenery and rugged coast line comforting her already, and with her skills of the hunt she easily tracked down the order of nymphs that took care of the island and called it home. And devote they were, to her mother, her self and the island, and at the sight of her there was much great joy, as they ushered her into their simple temple and home, undid the tight braid of her hair, removed her sandals, weaponry and clothes, and brought her into the bathing chamber. Slipping into the warm, clean water, Bulma finally began to relax and attempted to put the events of the day in some kind of perspective. Smiling again at the beat red face of a furious Aphrodite, the smile turned sour as she saw the near same expression upon her brother's golden brow. Hmph, nothing he hadn't heard before, and certainly he would be alright; it would be like all the other times they had parted over words, though the strikes were by far more personal thing time then in the past. He would get over it, in another month at the latest he would come in search for her, looking to make an apologise, these fights could only last so long; yet remembering how those barbs had stung, maybe she would not be so forgiving when their paths crossed again. Men, more often than not they were a plague on the world, and with that thought in her head, she allowed herself to relax completely, the steam of the bath rising higher as her eye lids began to get heavy. Her mind was blissful blank as she slipped into a semi-peaceful state of sleep, Goku's words, now barely above a whisper still disrupting her thoughts. Men…
"Did you see, … never have I see one like him, he even has a …."
"Not like Poseidon, maybe you've been here too long, but, … trespassing, what is a man doing here anyway?" What, a man, her sleep filled mind, which had come to life as the voices of the islands nymphs, began to latch on to snippets of the conversation; so they even meant to take over her own sanctuary.
"I couldn't find any trace of a boat, and there isn't a sailor in all of Greece who would dare venture to this island, so I can't even think of how he could have gotten here, or what he would want, unless it's to see our goddess."
"Nonsense," the eldest of the nymphs snapped out to her talkative underlings. "No one knows that she's here, even we did not know to expect her, so how did this simple mortal know. He's nothing but a traveller who probably lost at sea or his ship was destroyed in a storm; we should get him a boat and send him on his way, this is not a matter for Bulma to concern herself with." She said, the tone in her voice leaving no room for argument, well, almost no room.
"I'm not sure about that, Sagaci, I've actually seen him with my own eyes, he's far from a mere wandering traveller, his tunic and armour is impeccable, certainly not something that has come through a storm or endured a long time at sea. He also has weapons, several ones, a shield and spear and short sword, and supplies, if he is here then there must be a purpose. And Fatua does have a point, he does not look like a typical man, his bearing would make you think he was some kind of Prince or noble men, and his build, it is almost like that of a god, and that tail, only the folk of Poseidon have such a thing as that. He is no simple mortal, and whatever his mission, it is not a simple err in judgement." The second in command replied, her voice quiet, trying to convey the danger this unwanted visitor posed while attempting to keep the whole situation from reaching Bulma's sensitive ears. Slipping soundlessly from the warm pool, she wrapped a towel around her wet body and padded softly to where they all were huddled together, their own senses not as sharp as those of the goddess.
"Oh, I think it was a mistake for him to come, whether he knows it or not." Bulma finally replied, the sudden emergence of her voice in the quiet temple causing the group of nymphs, from the highest ranked to the lowliest maid to nearly jump in shock. Giggling at the sight of the women rushing around in shock, she waited until the pandemonium had calmed before she continued. Finally gathering their wits about them, the nymphs quietly bowed their respect, many blushing brightly when they realised their whisperings had made their way to Bulma's ears, especially when they had said such things about the man.
"Now, tell me of this 'man' that has the gaol to come to my mother's sanctuary, where is he right now, since he has taken the effort to walk upon sacred ground, it would be against the rules of hospitality not to greet him."
"But, my lady, you can't really mean to welcome a man into the temple … "
"That is the farthest thing from my mind right now, Sagaci, I will see to this man myself, if he dares trespass upon sacred ground, it will be my pleasure to send him somewhere far more sacred, like the river bank of the Styx. Any man who dares could upon this island and threatens my serenity is definitely one to take his life in his own hands." There were many wide eyed looks that came with that announcement, some fearful of encoring the wrath that she would soon show to the mortal, but in more than one set of eyes she found sadness at the thought of the man's death, specifically by those that had actually seen him with their own eyes. What in Olympus was this, now her own followers were thinking thoughts against their vows over a man they had only just seen, first Callisto and now this. Whatever purpose found his man on this island didn't matter, he had, in that brief second, become the focal point of all of her rage, yet another male coming into her life, questioning her, trying to dominate her, he would rue the day.
"I would also ask if I could be alone with this man, such punishments are never easy to see, and from the displays of affection I have seen in regards to this unwanted visitor, I think it best if you abandon the temple for the time being. In truth, it would be best I think if you went to Crete, to the temple of my mother and aid her with in the forests of the island. When it is safe once again and you have finished with your duties in Crete, I shall call you back to return, is this understood?" The loyal dryads could only nod in agreement, rushing to collect their things before leaving their temple, no thought in anyone's mind to question the will of Bulma. Learning the location where her prey was last spotted, she waited until the temple was empty before she gave thought to looking for him. She would show all of them, Goku, Aphrodite, the busy bodies of Olympus, that no man could get the best of her, she might even give him a sporting chance before she brought him to his end. Leaving off her sandals and traditional long robes, she slipped herself into a simple soft skinned tunic that fell to her knees; she could only think now of stalking her prey like a true hunter, becoming an element of the forest. The moon goddess also disregarded her bow and quiver, deciding that if she were to take this man, it would be with his own weapons, would serve such an arrogant being right to be killed with his own sword. Walking out of the temple entrance she immediately darted into the woods, running like the wind, through the brush and the thick tree cover following any foreign scents that tickled her nose. She had almost made it to the opposite coast of the island before she caught an unusual scent, an odd mixture of spice, leather and male she had only ever identified with her brother. The smell was light but clearly present and not totally unappealing, her prey must have been through the area just recently, the series of trampled grass and snapped twigs was a clear path for her to follow; she could almost thank him for making it so easy for her. Stepping lightly through the brush once more, following the trail he had provided for her, she trained her ears and eyes for any chance of an ambush, making sure that her presence was hidden for as long as possible, as she took in the changing sounds around her. The smell grew strong and strong until the air became heavy with it, the scent causing her insides to quiver just a little with a sensation she had never felt before, making her wonder about the nature of the man she was stalking. Soon the aroma of the male was joined by another, the clean scent of water, and the splashing rush of water over a river bed as her eyes beheld her prey for the first time. Had she caught sight of herself at that instance, she would have screamed at herself for such a pathetic display, but at that moment, her mind was not working in any kind of normal capacity. Her mouth went dry, her eyes went wide and her lungs heaved to get air into her suddenly empty lungs, what was happening to her, she had never felt anything like this with Yamcha, but here she was, staring at a strange man's back like a simpering nitwit. But what a back, and arms, like she had never seen on any mortal before, maybe the nymphs were right, there was something different about him, he was built like a god, a god with a tail, and hair like that of Poseidon. The man could almost be his exact double, if he had been built a foot taller, but the marks on his back, tiny scars told of a life that was far more painful then that of the deities of Olympus. Quickly shaking off her sudden concern, she slowly began to move through the lush foliage of the area, bringing herself closer and closer to the magnificent beast and his weapons. Nearly in range, she could now see the individual drops of water as they flowed down his back, and her mouth went dry again, her eyes caressing the body before while her mind wished to see more of him. Argh, what was happening to her, she was losing her mind and her sanity because of over active hormones, it was madness, she wasn't even going to give him a chance to explain himself, he was turning out to be far too dangerous for her state of mind. Shifting her focus on her first target, the short sword lying on the river bank, she was a few feet from leaving the cover of the woods when he unexpectedly turned around, looking nearly straight at her, but his eyes seeming to pass through her. It was a toss up then of which affected her more, how close he had come to catching her, or seeing the front of him for the first time; he was the spitting imagine of the god of the sea, yet his face was as distinct as an original work of art. It was hard and lean, a display of sharp planes and rigid angles, harsh, smooth and frightening appealing, in fact, his whole body was shaped like that, impossibly strong, honed for battle, and something else she had never encountered in her experiences. Sure she had seen naked males, well, she had seen her brother who was as well built as any mortal could dream but this was very different about him, never had anyone made her feel like this. By far the more terrifying and breath taking part about him was his eyes, like two dark voids, so deep and hypnotic you could drown in, hiding a million secrets and never revealing one. She didn't even want to venture any further down, her eyes had skimmed up on the way to his face and her mind still burned in memory of that rock hard chest; that was it, this had to stop. Waiting until his back was turned, she rushed out of the brush, all thoughts of stealth long abandoned, and grabbed the sword, pulling from its scabbard, and stood before him, a second away from telling him to turn around when a low, commanding voice spoke out over the water.
"I expected you to attack three minutes ago." The mysterious man said, the sound almost making her stomach start to flittered. Turning quickly to confront her, he stared her straight in the eyes, and froze.
It had been small things really, that had alerted him to the presence of another in the thick forest around him, a snapping twig, an animal going silent for no reason, the smell of something not wholly of the forest touching his nose to tell him he was being watched. He might have ignored all of the signs but the smell definitely drew his attention, it was sweet, and light and feminine, or maybe it truly was his mind playing tricks on him, he had been too long without a woman. After the trickier of Merope and her father, King Oenopion, he had given little thought to anything but returning to his father's good graces, there wasn't really time for the pleasure of women. No, that was not the whole story, he had left betrayed, shamed at his weakness, at the hardships he had been made to endure because of his own stupidity and blinding lust, forgetting his common sense and being the victim of a woman. As much as he pained him to consider, he still had a small sense of uncertainty, to be so broken by the hands of one woman, what would happen if he let his guard down, even for a moment, or allowed his lust to make him vulnerable to an even worse attack. Whether it was disgust with the gender as a whole, or himself for coming to be in such a state, he had taken his pleasure sparsely and quickly, taking what he needed to satisfy his own desire, only to leave the then slumbering female as soon as he was finished. The sight of the temple virgins had given him a little pleasure, very comely creatures they were, and their eyes feasted very hungrily, too bad he had not taken the generals advice and taken one of the women. It would be just them and him on this beautiful deserted island, well, that and the peeping tom, but it would take no time at all to do any with them. Whipping his tail out of the water, he heard a branch cracking and the sharp intake of breath in a certain area, and he turned, staring straight through the section of brush. He knew where they were, even if his eyes could not pick up there exact location, he would take great pleasure in ripping the fool man to piece for daring to watch him bathe. Biding his time until they thought he was unaware, they struck, stupid man, grabbing the short sword while leaving the spear lying on the bank; it would take him nothing to disarm and slaughter the nosy creature. Making a flippant remark to demonstrate his control over the situation, he turned to face his pathetic peeping tom, and was faced with a pair of the bluest eyes he had ever seen, attached to the face and body of a goddess. By his father, he had never seen a creature like her, long, blue hair, unbound and flowing softly about her in the breeze, slender, graceful limbs, the colour of cream, shapely and bare of any adornment or covering. Even her clothing was of a wild and untamed nature, a simple tunic of tanned animal hides, the bottom of the garment high enough to display her impossibly long legs; the top low enough to show hints of the soft curves of her chest. But those eyes, they were almost too large for her face, twin sapphires gazing out at him, as if he were unworthy to even take the liberty to stare so openly at her, to actually dare to look into her face. Never in his life had he felt so awe struck, or vile, in shame of his sin and his nakedness, giving silent pray that the water was waist height and she could not see the effect she was starting to have on him. Though, he thought, coming back to a sense of himself, she was not so unaffected as she appeared; her grip on the sword was strong but he watched as the hand that held it trembled, her breathing deep and frantic. Her eyes were wide in shock, and from the flush in her cheeks it was not just by being caught in surprise, though she too came back to her senses.
"What are you doing on this island, mortal; you would dare defile this site with your presence, the island of Leto and Bulma is not a place for the unworthy to tread, no man but the son of Leto is even allowed on its shores. Tell me why you are here, before I take your miserable life for such an insult." So the little nymph had a tongue to go with those eyes, whether she could actually handle that sword was another thing all together. He had definitely found the right place; for a moment he thought that old witch had tricked him to save her own skin, there wasn't a soul on this island since he arrived, but now, it looked much more promising. Knowing her curiosity would keep the woman at bay, at least for the moment, he looked her over again, very deliberate in his actions, hoping to gain the upper hand in this little contest. By his father, it was a crime against nature that such a creature could possibly be eternally virginal, never to be touched by a man, well, that didn't mean he could play a little with her. Hmph, maybe he would ask Bulma for the pleasure of this nymph when he defeated her, now there would be a very worthy prise.
"So this is the island of Delos then?" He asked calmly, not waiting for her presumably explosive response. "Then I am in exactly the right place, they even sent someone out to welcome me, but I must say, a fragile thing like you should not have been made to carry a sword. If you think you could possibly hurt me, little nymph, you are very sadly mistaken; besides, I'm here to see your mistress." A sardonic grin spread across his face as the little female underwent the most amusing mutation, her fist clenching in rage, her stern eyes blazing with emotion, even her flawless milky skin turned the brightest shade of red. Just the thought that she could possibly over take and kill him made him chuckle at her obvious anger.
"What reason could you ever have for even speaking the name of Bulma, and how did you even get to this place, there is not a boat made that can navigate these waters." She asked back, trying with hold her anger back, maybe she actually had sense enough to realise that she was no match for him, or who he really was. Still smirking devilishly, he began to walk closer to the bank deciding it was time he took back his sword; if he provoked her much more she might actually attempt to attack him, and he didn't want to risk her getting too injured. If the hunt goddess found one of her followers in such a state she might not even grant him the chance at a challenge, and he did not come all this way for nothing.
"Why, I walked, little nymph, would you like me to show you?" He asked, laughing out as she blushed furiously and her eyes darted down to the parts of his body that the water hid. Again she recovered quickly, looking him once more in the eyes with that superior glare, her mouth starting to open again, no doubt to try to rip at him again. He could never let that happen, as if he would let her have the last word, but with ever word and flustered breath he was becoming more enchanted with the blue eyed creature, this mission was turning out to have better perks than he had imagined.
"But as to why I'm here, that is something I would rather discuss with your goddess, if she is brave enough to face me, though maybe you should be there, wench. I intend to challenge your great goddess, to prove myself as the greatest hunter in all the world, though if she as careless as you are, little nymph, that will hardly be a difficult task." He knew he had crossed the line with that one, the followers of the chaste goddesses were loyal unto death, but he had this unexplained need to fire her up, to make those eyes flash and spark in rage. The plan worked better than he could have dreamed as she cursed him at the top of her lungs and leapt at him, the short sword in her hand poised to strike. Darting out of the way of the first swipe, she shocked him with her speed and skill as she struck down hard on his exposed shoulder, the force of the blow strong enough to slice his arm clean off, had it been only mortal blood flowing through his veins. He growled out in pain as the blade sliced through his skin, drawing a small amount of blood, but even the sword could not hold out for long and to broke in two. This was a development his sprite was not expecting, her red face going almost deathly pale at the sight of the shattered sword.
"What … " Her voice went soft in confusion, the sound such a contrast to her harpy like shriek just a moment before. The hard reality of the situation was finally dawning on her, those now fearful eyes leaving his injured shoulder and resting on the spear that laid no more than arm's length from her foot. Oh no, he thought, she had already done more than enough damage with the sword, far more than he had ever imagined she could, she was not getting her hands on that spear. Taking the element of surprise he had been granted, he leapt from the water and dove at the delicate creature pinning her underneath his weight. A slight hitch of breath sounded in his ear made him realise his greater bulk might have been crushing her and he eased off her minimally, only to have her writhe under him, hissing and scratching like a wild cat.
"You bastard, first you insult the name of the goddess then you dare try to attack and rape me, what are you, some kind of monster from the depths of Hades? I swear by the name of Bulma, if you dare try anything there is not a place you will hide from my wrath." Lowering his weight once more, he let his naked frame brush against her, just the feel of that soft, fragile body beneath him made him shudder. His tail lashed back and forth contentedly, like a cat that had caught a canary, and he grinned wolfishly down at her, those perfect blue eyes staring daggers at him once more.
"You misunderstand my purpose here, you silly wench, though my mission should not matter to you. I am not a monster, or even a spectre from the underworld, and no longer do I take pleasure out of raping unwilling women, I am Vegeta, son of the great sea god Poseidon, come to seek a challenge from your mistress. Answer me this though, you silly wench, is your goddess in the habit of granting victors the choice of her nymphs when she has been beaten, I might just ask for you when I win. I don't know by what madness has chosen you to remain chaste; a beauty like you should know the enjoyment of a man's touch. Tell me, do you taste as exciting as you act?" Maybe it was the air, the thrill of the combat between them, or the feel of that warm, lithe body fighting beneath him; he didn't care about the consequences of being caught, it had been far too long, and she was far too enticing. Lowering his head until they were nose to nose, he let his lips brush lightly against hers, ever so softly, before he took her mouth in his and began to taste her. At that briefest touch, his wild cat turned into a doe, frightened by a presence she had never before experienced, her entire body going stiff in shock while his hands began to stroke the flesh of her hips and curve of her breast. Hoping to allay her fears he touched her lightly, the sweep of his finger like a whisper on the skin of her inner thigh, the pressure of his lips against hers easing slightly as he stared into those blue eyes which were wide with uncertainly. Continuing to brush her thigh, a smiled formed on his lips at the sound of a tiny gasp in his ears, her eyes turning smoky at the intimate caress, the tension flowing out of her body. Smirking down at his tiny victory, he drew up that delicate mouth more forcefully, his tongue slipping in to savour her, even his tail was coming in to tease her, the furry length wrapping itself snuggling around her lower thigh, freeing up his hand to tangle in that silken blue mass. He captured her groan in his mouth, the hand at her chest slowly making its way through clothing, enjoying the leisurely seduction until her hands took on a life of their own, fingering the tail bound around her legs. The innocent petting ignited a rush of carnality through his veins; one minute he was thinking only of tasting her lips and feeling her body, the next he was within a hair breadth away from ripping off her clothing and ravaging her. The sensual vixen that had appeared for that brief second fled back into her shell once more, sensing the explosive change, fearing the sudden hardness that pushed against her thigh. Once more she clawed and fought against him, determined to resist him to the very end of her strength but he was not going to fight, he had gone too far, he had risked his honour, his pride, his life and possibly hers in an act of overwhelming lust. He didn't hesitate to roll off of her, but growled in pain when one of her hands struck the wound on his shoulder in her panic to get away. Instantly getting to her feet, she stared down at his trembling form like the goddess of the Moon herself, by his father, she was like some kind of immaculate vision, never to be possessed by any man, either of mortal or immortal blood. But he could see effect his touch, that pale skin flushed, her breathing deep and unsteady, those eyes darker, deeper and full of confusion. A man could drown in those eyes, they were by far too dangerous; he could not give in to such temptation, he would not lose his father's respect again, he would not, but why did she not go, why did she have to look at him so?
"Why are you here, what business do you wish to have with the goddess Bulma?" He could tell it was a monumental effort for her not to let her voice crack under the strain of holding herself so upright, so unaffected by what had transpired between them.
"If you truly are one of her nymph followers then tell her that Vegeta, the great hunter and son of Poseidon wishes to engage her in combat of her choosing, a test to see who is the greater hunter." He replied through clenched teeth, the blow to his shoulder more painfully than he was willing to admit.
"I, I meant no harm to her followers, certainly not to you, troublesome sprite that you are, I still might ask for you tomorrow when I win." He tried to chuckle at his own joke but the results only made his wound ache all the more. Looking into those blue eyes, he noted they had changed again, turned clear and solemn at his words, whatever his message had done, it invoked in her a new found sense of calm and seriously to her posture.
"My calling I took with an open heart, and no one but my own conscience can relieve me of it, not you, or the gods of Olympus. The goddess Bulma accepts all challenges, she has even heard of you, both the good and the bad. As your skills are far greater than any mortals, your challenge will be made harder in reflection; tomorrow morning at first light a hunt will begin, you will hunt the goddess and she will hunt you, the winner, the one who can find and subdue their opponent first will be the winner and proclaimed the best. All traps are allowed, any strategy, technique or tactic, but only the weapons in your possession, anything you can build from materials on the island and the brain in your head is allowed, the goddess herself will only take her bow and arrows. You will start at one end of the island while she will start at the other, take your time, plan carefully and be cautious, son of Poseidon and you may live to see the setting of tomorrow's sun." He grunted his understand, his eyes never leaving those rock hard sapphires as she told him of his fate. His lungs released a sigh of relief as they softened a little and her voice took on an air of concern.
"Are you badly hurt?" The sudden changes before his eyes almost brought him to laugh once again, but he stopped short and simply nodded, not wanting to admit how much the blow had stung.
"You are by far the most dangerous woman I have ever encountered, your mistress will be an easy task after dealing with you."
"Bulma does not accept a challenge from any who are not at perfect health, and it is by my hand that you are in so much pain. If you are able, there is a spring a mile north west of here, the water flows clean and cold and can ease the pain and repair the damage of an injury, it will do you well enough for tomorrow. Until we met again, son of Poseidon." Like a queen dismissing the lowliest of her subject did she turn and begin to walk back into the lush forest; he could not let her escape so easily, letting her think was had happened was nothing.
"My name is not 'son of Poseidon', little nymph, by the rules of hospitality you must call me by my name before the gods. I wish to hear you say it, to hear the sound of it on your lips." He called out to her, the request getting one last response from her, as she glanced over her shoulder at his, the wave of her hair shifting and shining in the fading light of day.
"Only if you earn it tomorrow, son of Poseidon." She remarked flippantly, the lilt of her voice subtly sarcastic.
"I will win the day tomorrow, and you will call me by my name; if I had my way you would also be moaning and screaming it, with great pleasure, wench." Of all the contests in his life, he loved none so much as watching that woman get so angry, to see her so flustered and enraged was like a feast for the eyes.
"You should watch that arrogance of yours, son of Poseidon, lest your ego gets deflated and your balls cut off as a prise when Bulma defeats you tomorrow." For once in his life, Vegeta held his tongue, letting his eyes take in the lush form of her body, telling her without words how little her words effected him and how easily he had made her moan. The subsequent sound that rang from her mouth was a muted growled, as she turned once more on her heel to leave him on the river bank. Chuckling lightly he decided not to press it any further, there was only so much luck a man could have in one day.
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