Something told me to move very quickly because my life depended on it. Without thinking I rolled off the stone table onto the ground. There was adrenaline pumping through my system as I heard the clang of metal on stone just behind my head. Still trying to catch my breath I peered over the top of the table. There stood Ares with his blade resting where I had been not two seconds before. Ares smiled as he pulled his sword back and I got to my feet.
“I would ask what is wrong with you, but all I need to tell myself is that you’re the God of War and that pretty much sums it up.” I said angry and scared.
“Your instincts and reflexes seem to be working fine.” he said flatly.
“Here’s a tip for you: mortals are accustomed to a greeting other than trying to be killed first thing in the morning.” I said leaning on the table.
“Well you aren’t mortal anymore.” he leaned in towards me with a mischievous grin.
“A fact that I’m still getting used to, sorry I haven’t had time to read the manual yet.”
“Your training starts now.” he said sheathing his sword.
“Really? Cause I thought it started about thirty seconds ago.” I said still miffed.
“Hey Karen!” James said, suddenly coming up the hill with Jeff beside him.
“I was beginning to wonder where you disappeared to,” I said looking at James.
“I’ve been at the heart of Mount Vulcan with Hephestus. Man can that God work metal!” James said with admiration in his voice.
“I should have guessed as much.” I chuckled.
“Anyway, I’ve got some chain mail for you that we designed. It’s super light, but super strong.” he said holding up the metal-weave.
“That’s cool, but I can’t help to notice that it’s a little on the see through side.” I said looking from the chain mail to James.
“Well Artemis was able to get some donations from the Amazons. So now we’ve got some armor, weapons, and clothing a bit more suitable than the tunic you’re currently wearing,” James said holding up a large bag with his other hand.
“I’m going to need about five to ten minutes to change,” I turned to Ares.
“I’ll give you two,” he growled.
“You’ve all waited for me for centuries, what’s a couple of minutes more?” I asked as I went over to James.
Going into the cabin with the bag and chain mail I starting sorting through the clothes to see what might fit and what would be suitable. I decided on an animal skinned body suit. I put it on and the chain mail over it. James was right, this was super light. In fact the body suit seemed to have more weight than the armor did. Looking over the weapons I chose a sword, shield, and staff. I was afraid in all honesty. I was about to go against the God of War when only days ago I was having a hard time keeping my balance on crutches with my backpack. I took a deep breath before going out the door and back up that hill.
There wasn’t anyone on the hill. As I looked around I saw that down the left side there was a large dirt ring that was surrounded by a low wooden wall. Why hadn’t I seen this before? I had the sneaky suspicion that this island changed to suit the needs of those inhabiting it. I walked down the other side of the hill to the ring. Ares was waiting for me at the far end. His sword was drawn and he had removed his cape. James and Jeff sat on the wall to my right. I set the staff down deciding to use the sword and shield. I was quite positive that I was going to get my butt kicked. There was no doubt in my mind about that. I had no idea what I was doing and there didn’t seem to be any kind of starter level to any of this.
“Are you ready?” Ares asked with a smirk.
“As ready as I’m going to be.” I said.
“Don’t say it like that. Say with confidence, ‘YES I AM READY!'” he roared.
Was he actually being helpful all of a sudden? I nodded as I brought up my sword and shield. Ares and I walked to the middle of the ring to meet each other. James played referee by saying the ground rules were no killing and no hitting below the belt. After that, I was on my own. Ares swung high and I blocked with the shield. I attacked around the other side of the shield, but Ares blocked my advance. I was desperately trying to remember anything and everything I had seen on TV or in the movies that would help. My only frame of reference was Xena: Warrior Princess. The only advice I had for myself was the same mantra I had been saying for years; never back down from a problem no matter how big or impossible it may seem. Of course I had always applied that to school, my step-mother, and my physical defects. Fighting like this had never even entered into it. Wait, was Ares actually going easy on me. No, it would be too much unlike him, but at the same time I got the distinct impression that he was holding back. He wasn’t going to let me get a hit in; I had to genuinely earn that. I was scared, but I needed to learn, so I made a decision. Whether that decision was bold or stupid I’m not sure, but I tossed aside the shield. I had been hiding behind it up until this point. Jeff and James gasped from their spots. Ares gave me an approving smile and nod. I was quivering on the inside, but I didn’t want it to show. Ares came at me in a full attack. I rolled out of the way hearing the sword clang on the ground. I got to my feet quickly turning to brace for the next assault. He came at me high again. Ares wanted to make sure I could protect my vital organs. I blocked his blow with my sword reaching out with my other hand punching him just below the ribs. Ares coughed, but smiled. He went for my knees, but I flipped out of the way. Wait, I flipped? Indeed I had, without much thought and incredible ease at that. That was a rush. Suddenly something occurred to me. I took a good look at Ares. He had a very sturdy stance that allowed him quick movement, but stability to withstand an attack. I needed to upset his base to win this. I went for the direct approach of head-on combat. Ares and I clanged swords back and forth while Jeff and James watched. This was intense and while I was surprised I was doing as well as I was, I kept my mind on the goal. Ares went to adjust his stance and I took hold of that opportunity. I went down quick taking his feet out from under him. As he fell I knocked his sword out of his hand, disarming him. Ares hit the ground hard. I stood over him with my sword pointed at his throat. I had seen it in so many movies I figured there must be something to it. Ares looked up at me first with shock and anger burning in his eyes, but that melted away as pride and laughter came to his face.
“Well done!” he said looking up at me.
“Now if I move from this position are you going to retaliate?” I asked holding steady.
“Would you trust me if I said yes?”
“No, I wouldn’t.” I shook my head.
“Good girl.” he nodded.
Minding all of Ares’ appendages I stepped off from him and allowed him to get up. It was so strange. Ares had suddenly gone from being a big bully to being almost father like in his mannerisms. What was going on? The rest of the day was spent working on my advances and seeking out an enemy’s weak spot. Jeff and James supplied fluids and food. During one lesson – using an opponents force against them – I got flung across the arena pretty hard. I hit the wall knocking a rib out of joint as well as sustaining a few scrapes that bled. Jeff and James wanted to rush to my aid, but I told them not to help. Ares wanted to see how well I played through the pain. For me this was an old game, but these were different circumstances now. I made myself get up and continue the lesson.