There have been plenty of odd times in his twenty-two years on this planet. That time he ran into that bloke that looked like David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust phase in the men`s room at Heathrow. That was a right weird time. Then there was the time that he and his mum had sat beside the Thames feeding the pigeons old bread and a bird, wearing not a stitch, had rowed across from Butler`s Wharf to St. Katherine`s Pier singing ‘I`ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts’ on a hand-made barge. Rights to reason the lads in the white coats come shortly after the naked rafter arrived and carted her damp arse off in a blaze of blues and twos.
Of course that night he and his best mate Alex had gone in and worked over those birds that had been hot then not counts as one of the most bizarre events he has ever seen. Alright, granted, Alex had kicked their snake asses but he had dragged Deimos upstairs and tended to the poor, chewed-up bastard. Everything after his leap into the Suburban don`t count because normalcy and boredom had been left behind with that fat bastard Al.
So, all the odd shit that he has seen over his life and yet the past ten minutes has been the hardest to swallow. Seems like the flecking giant ants would have top honors Chadwick mulls, looking down at the Grecian armor he now wears. It was sodding amazing what a god could make appear out of the bloody blue! One minute, he was standing here looking dapper and the next he was engulfed in a whirlwind of light and mysticism that had left all of them fully decked in old time Greek armor, right down to the sandals laced over their calves.
“Anyone know what we`re supposed to wear under our kilts?” CW inquires and flips his leather skirt upward in the back. All three immortals cringe at the white cheeks, “I`m thinking maybe a cup at the least, right?”
“You wear nothing,” Ares grunts, slapping his sons helmets soundly then stalking over to do the same to Chadwick. The Brit nearly crumples from the slam to the top of his cranium. “Do not allow your enemies to get close enough to your groin and you shall have no worries. You all look like warriors! It fills me with pride to see my sons girded as is fitting their station.” Ares smiles widely, his own helm tucked under his left arm.
He admires his sons for another moment. Both wore their breast-plates with their signets on them, the bull for Phobos and the Hydra for Deimos. Both carry identical short swords and shields bearing their sigils. Black plumes dance down their backs from their helmets and ebony capes tickle their ankles. Why even the mortal, clutching his half-sister Artemis` bow looks more the man! If only males could look this way daily the war god laments internally.
“My helm smells like old socks,” Alexander mumbles and tugs at the high-neck of his cuirass.
“I think you all look like warriors true,” Thrud states, moving through the men to peck each on the cheek and lay a small dandelion in their hands. It was the only flower she could find growing in the cracks of the concrete outside. Already her heart pines for Asgard. When she stops in front of her husband she reaches up, removes his helm and ties his dreads back with a white ribbon borrowed from Sara. Deimos looks down at her. “I would not have you blinded by your hair, my husband. Return to me,” she whispers, taking his left hand and placing it to her abdomen, “Return to us, Deimos,” she requests and hands him back his helmet.
“I shall,” he coughs softly. She rises to her toes and kisses him gently.
“I will go sit with Sara,” the redhead announces, leaving the men with a straight spine. Alexander thanks her gruffly. Thrud gifts the fear god with a smile.
“She will make you a fine wife, Deimos,” Ares comments after the bedroom door closes.
D nods at his sire then shoves his helmet back over his head. “I think so as well, father,” the terror god states.
“Phobos, do you wish to bid your woman farewell?”
“I already did when I got her back into bed. She needs to rest and if I go making a scene she`ll worry. I don`t want her to worry,” Alexander informs his father. Ares inclines his block of a head slightly.
“Let us gather our gear then. We make war that we may live in peace!” Ares shouts. The twins slam their swords to their shields in reply. Chadwick blows a long hunk of horse-tail from his face and wonders, not for the first time, if his mum were right about him being a berk.
Two large duffel bags are hoisted onto the twin’s shoulders. Ares bobs his head then slams the end of his spear to the floor. The boys reply with another shot of sword to shield. Soon the tempo picks up, faster and faster, spear to floor, sword to shield, spear to floor and sword to shield, the spell of men preparing for war even taking over the Brit. The plaster on the flats walls is close to breaking free.
The four leave in a glowing ball of godly light and magic that drops CW to a nice, soft lawn with spots the size of bikkies in front of his watering green eyes.
“Dude, you should have closed your eyes, true?” CW hears somewhere to his right. A hand jerks him to his sandals and his bow and quiver are placed in his hands.
“Seems like someone could have warned me about that!” he snaps in aggravation, stumbling forward blindly only to run into a wide back. All he can see is red now. Ares turns his head to look down upon the mortal wound up in his scarlet cape. He knocks the fool back with an elbow. Deimos catches Chadwick then gets his feet under him.
Chadwick blinks and scrubs at his eyes. The air was thick with the smell of fruit and flowers. It was really quite lovely in the old nose he mulls, scrubbing at his peepers with the heels of his hands. He hears a dog growling. A big dog by the way the air vibrates dangerously.
“I`m going to need a minute, mates,” CW coughs, “Me eyes ain`t quite right. I`m seeing three heads on that mutt over there,” he announces and points at the gates of Hades` domain with his apple-wood bow.
“Your eyes do not deceive you, Mortal,” Ares grunts, his sharp eyes glowing like sapphires within his helm “`Tis the guardian of the gate Cerberus that you behold.”
“Oh right, that`s ducky,” Chadwick mutters and sniffles loudly. Cerberus does not move from the gates he guards. The gateway climbs forty feet in height and is forged from Stygian steel; the top finials lost amid a low hanging cloud of grey. “Guess a doormat was a bit too simple a greeting?”
“Folks aren`t big on the ‘Welcome’ mats down here,” Alexander says, dropping down into a crouch to unzip the two heavy duffels. Deimos takes his father`s war lance while Ares bends to fetch their attention-getting devices. “Most of the shades would like to find the ‘Get me the fuck out of here’ mat.”
“Only those bound to wander the Asphodel fields or are sentenced to Tartarus,” Deimos reminds his brother, his grip sure and tight on Ares war lance. He is honored to have it in his hand. “I do not recall seeing mats at the golden gates of Elysium when last we were there.”
“Yeah, I`m hoping not to do a repeat of the whole dying shit personally so I won`t be looking for any mats,” Phobos frowns, the rank smell of the underworld is mixing with the sweet aroma of Persephone`s groves and frankly, it is a nasty-ass stench when the two combine. Despair and misery mixed well with apples and dates and served over an eternity of damnation in a tumbler carved from a human skull. He prefers Lemon Drops in a sticky shot glass. “Pops, you ready to get your groove on?”
“Aye, I am ready. You three, prepare for a speedy and angry greeting from my uncle`s wife. Once she arrives I shall teleport us away from the gates, and that will hopefully keep Hades unknowing of what is occurring. If he should come to discover what is transpiring and sides with his spouse I am not sure even I, with my great might, can hold him off for long.”
“Right, we`re all up on that, Pops. Just do your thing and we`ll handle it.”
“Remember, my sons, she is not a warrior. She will send every creature that lives and breeds in Hades realm out to do her fighting for her,” Ares shouts then jerks the pull-cord on one of the two new Jonsered chainsaws he purchased not an hour ago. He smiles oh-so wickedly then rips the other saw into loud and grating life. With one saw in each hand he parades into Persephone`s beloved grove of trees and starts dropping lumber.
Chadwick gives his two mates fast looks. Both are in a fighting stance, shields up and swords at the ready about ten feet in front of him. Blowing out a breath that balloon his cheeks, he too lifts his weapon and readies an arrow. It seems an eternity, with the sound of trees crashing to the thick, damp grass and the roar of chainsaws and Cerberus snarling, but in actuality it takes less than a minute for the queen of this realm to arrive. The Brit gawks at the stunning beauty that is surrounded by a veil of dark fog. When the mist evaporates he nearly lowers his bow the woman is so beautiful. This can`t be the bird they have to kill, can it?
Persephone glares at the three young men. A towering apple tree falls.
“God of war I command you to stop!” she shrieks, watching in horror as another of her prized trees crashes to the ground, round oranges breaking off to bounce unfettered in the grass. The massacre of her grove continues. Persephone clenches her small hands into fists then begins to call upon those that serve her husband.
“Keep an eye peeled!” Phobos roars over the ax man going ape-shit wild.
CW watches her plump pink lips move but with the noise behind him what she is saying is lost. How the hell was he supposed to fire silver arrows into a woman that looks like her?! Shite, even her robes are a soft pink like a little Greek girl might wear. He`s about to step forward to relay his trepidation to Deimos when the ground at his feet begins to swell like a boil.
He whips a fast look at Persephone. Her eyes are filled with rage and glowing bright amber from within. Chadwick leaps back when the soil explodes upward, nearly falling to his ass in the dew. The Minotaur claws free from the bowels of hell, wide curved horns covered with dirt. It shakes the soil free and examines the threesome with crimson eyes, its breath steaming the gold ring in its bovine nose as it lowers its head to charge.
Persephone skitters backwards, stopping just inside the huge gates where she knows the sons of war and Ares cannot place a foot. She summons yet again, calling forth the Keres to aid the loathsome offspring of Pasiphae and the white bull of Poseidon. They arrive in flocks, screeching disgusting scavengers of the battle-field with the bodies of birds and the heads of women.
Ares steps from the grove, one saw remains in his left hand, the other, sadly, pinched soundly in the thick trunk of an ancient ironwood tree.
“Tend to the Keres!” he roars at his sons then charges at the Minotaur with a battle lance and a high-revved Jonsered. God and beast collide with the force of a mid-air collision between two B-52 Stratofortress`.
Chadwick lifts his bow skyward. The first of many arrows fly. Alexander and Deimos have to wait for the screaming beasts to dive downward. They strike fast and quick, severing heads then spinning in unison to shield bash others streaking down from the sickly sky. Chadwick continues to shoot while pedaling backwards. Close range and bows do not a happy couple make. The back of his legs slam into a marble bench and he crashes to his back. Two Keres swoop down at him, razor-sharp claws extended. He tugs two arrows free and lets them go. Twin bodies crumple to the ground.
“Hell yeah, I am so the man!” the Brit hoots. Alexander appears, leaping over the bench, his arms and face speckled with black blood. “You see me drop two of those blighters?!”
“Yeah, you`re Robin fucking Hood, now shut it and shoot!” Phobos snarls, hacking at a Keres and severing her wing. When she falls to the lawn, Alex stomps on her squawking head.
“No need to get tiffy over me superior archery skills,” CW huffs while standing. Deimos slaps a bird-woman to the ground with his shield then skewers it.
“I am not feeling myself,” the terror god pants. “I need music!” Deimos digs out his MP, finds he cannot work the buds with a helm so, as any metal loving god would do, he ditches his helmet.
“Miserable, shitting things!” CW growls when a Keres strikes at him from behind, opening three gashes on his upper arm. The scratches immediately begin to burn like acid. The archer locks onto the bird on the wing, tugs back the bowstring and fires. The shaft ripping through the bitch`s head makes him rather happy to be honest.
“Dude you good?” Phobos shouts, turning from the few remaining Keres plaguing his twin to focus on his father and the Minotaur. Chadwick nods, blood covering his right arm. “Man, that`s just fugly,” Alex comments after Ares removes an arm from a Minotaur with a chainsaw.
The beast screams and lunges yet again, driving its huge head into the war god’s waist. Ares is shoved backwards, sandals digging up the spongy dirt, his hands wrestling to ensure he isn`t gored. Phobos breaks from beside CW, runs at the snapping, cursing twosome and leaps into the air. His celestial bronze sword slices into the top of the Minotaur`s skull and exits under its mouth. Ares looks up at his son on the beasts back and winks. Phobos slides off the creature’s wide back, yanking his sword free with difficulty.
“You did well, Phobos,” Ares comments, stoops to grab a curved horn then pads over to the gates of hell to toss the beast at Persephone`s diminutive feet.
“Surely you do not think that this ends now, do you, God of War? I have been languishing here for centuries,” Persephone whispers calmly. Deimos joins his father and twin, CW coming up at D`s left. “For centuries I have to endure his touch! Do you have any idea what it is like for a woman to have to submit to such darkness? To have a man within her that disgusts her? Nay, you do not for you are men and ignorant of such things. I was almost free of him. I had plans made and perfectly executed, then you and your vile son ruined my plans. Once more I was forced to subjugate myself to Hades sick, twisted passions.”
“Boo fucking hoo,” Alexander pants stepping as close as he can to the border of the realm of the dead, “Go cry about your sex problems to someone who gives a flying fuck. You and me, this ends here and now! You crossed my ‘Give the bitch a chance’ line skank.”
“You are your sire’s sons,” she smiles, glancing up at the tall, handsome god of terror she once thought of as her own, “His blood and temperament in you is obvious. Piteous really that even the one I had held to my bosom has turned against me.”
“He is my twin, if you strike out at him you strike out at me,” Deimos counters flatly.
“Enough feminine prattling, Persephone,” Ares huffs ignoring the growling three-headed hellhound not five feet from him, “You have acted against members of your own pantheon in duplicitous ways!”
“Sayeth the man who slept with his brother`s wife for centuries. And you wonder why I turned down your suit, Ares? You are a base, ignorant, cretin of a male that is much better suited to rutting with those beloved boars of yours than a goddess. You dare speak to me of transgressions against our own you hypocritical, war-mongering, unwanted son of Olympus!?”
“Pops, I think you pissed her off,” Phobos comments. The goddess is beyond mad. She is livid now. Winds sweep up from the vast Asphodel fields, lifting her dark hair from her tight shoulders. Ares shrugs a shoulder. An angry, dark-haired female is nothing new to him.
“You speak like a man but do not have the power to back up your words. Perchance you should spend less time on your knees before my uncle and work on your prowess in other fields, such as battle?”
“Yeah, Pops? I think we can stop talking smack. She`s close to blowing a gasket,” Alex whispers to the side. “Let`s just slap her down and be done with….”
“So, you do not think me capable of defeating you, Ares?”
The battle god throws back his head and laughs deeply and long. Once his mirth ends he drops his blue eyes back to Hades` incensed wife and folds his arms.
“I do not think you are capable of dusting my stones with talc,” the god of bloodlust counters.
“And so begins round two,” Phobos sighs when the goddess erupts with long and violent curses in Greek. A rumbling under their feet begins. Ares and Deimos begin to step backwards. Chadwick and Alex stand at the gate like dunces while Alexander hurries to attempt a mental translation. He really should have spent more time on language lessons with G-G Rhea. Sword practice was always so much more fun though he laments.
“Anyone else got a bad feeling, right in the middle of their gullet?” Chadwick interjects into Phobos` mental trip down memory lane.
Alex shakes the mind fog then steps back hastily with a hand on Chadwick`s forearm when the ground splits. Water explodes from the bowels of the earth, filling the air with steam and a foul, noxious odor. Heads begin to emerge. Many, many, many heads attached to the long, sleek body of a water serpent.
“Dude, I call summoning the Hydra totally unfair!” Phobos shouts then dives at his main Brit to avoid a blast of poisonous breath one of umpteen heads blows at them. Ares and Deimos fling up their shields. “Bitch has always got to cheat,” Phobos mumbles lying atop Chadwick just for a fast breather before the real fun begins.
This issue`s title, ‘Bringers of Death’ is from the band Skeletonwitch.