"Hera?!," repeated both Fireheart and Etana, now standing on either side of Ares.
"Hera... huh, what?!," Iolaus and Sinn simultaneously cried in reaction to hearing Her name. His arm tightened around Sinn's shoulders, as he looked at her with deep concern, stating, "This could mean a LOT of trouble, and could possibly ruin the party, babe. I better check on this. Please find Hercules, to let him know what's going on." Iolaus gave her a quick hug before he rose, and she nodded in agreement, inwardly fearing all the possible repercussions if Hera should show here.
Immediately, Aphrodite walked over to Ares, and said, "Old cow face? What's she want?"
He shrugged His broad shoulders, and muttered, "I don't know... but apparently She's up to something."
Hercules, who had just walked up, thought to himself, "Yeah... probably NO good!"
Ares' face began to reflect the storm of emotions within Him, and did not even notice when concerned-looking Ped had, hand-in-hand with Draco, left the Great Hall, or that he had immediately returned with a look of even greater concern. Instead, His darkening eyes were transfixed on the peacock feathers adorning Amethysta's necklace.
"You know, SOME rulers KILL the bearers of bad news, MESSENGER!" Ares stated, now coldly eyeing Amethysta. He continued, "I know why you worship Me. I know why, because of your father, you fear Me, AND I even know that you've had increasingly erotic dreams about Me since you were ten years old... and trust Me, honey, we WILL talk about that later, in private. What I don't understand, and WANT to know NOW, is why My Mother... seems to have found such a DEVOTED..." Ares paused, venom dripping from His last word.
Amethysta's momentary embarrassment quickly was replaced by sheer confusion and fear, as she tried to make sense of what was happening. What was the reason behind Ares' current rage? She did a quick mental review, thinking how all she had done was hand him a lovely peacock feather... "Oh, by the Gods!, she thought, as the full realization hit her of who the queenly woman was who had sent her here. She instinctively reached for her throat, brushing against Ares' hand as He yanked at her necklace, broke the clasp, and jerked it from her neck.
He looked up at the ceiling, counting under his breath, and visibly brought himself under control, then, looking at several of His Priestesses, now standing wide-eyed around Him, asked "Didn't ONE of you warn her NOT to make Me MAD?"
His tirade was interrupted when Kiari ran up, and exclaimed, "Ped is gone, Ares!"
He gave a tired sigh, and Ares' eyes turned to Kiari. "She's probably off with Draco somewhere," and after replying, turned back to the others.
Kiari grabbed his arm, knocking Amethysta's necklace to the floor, and spun Him back towards her again. "No, I mean she's *GONE*, as in not anywhere that I could 'scan' her. Try it for yourself."
Ares pushed all other thoughts from His mind, and concentrated on Ped... and felt a nothingness where she should be... This worried Him! He turned to the others, and stated, "Well, I guess I know what Hera's message was."
Aphrodite spoke up. "But why her? Why a masseuse from Your Temple?... Hey, didn't You lose another one... during the Summer?"
Ares' eyes lit up, as he answered, "Yes, I did, Surabufix. What made you think of that, 'Dite?"
"Instinct," She replied.
The party-goers began wondering what had happened to Ped, and Kiari gave kriket a comforting hug, as both feared the worst.
Ares turned back to His new Priestess, grasped her by the wrist, and pulling her towards the front door, announced, "I will get to the bottom of this! I'm going back to My Temple to have a... CHAT... with 'Mommy' and Her pretty, little b...!" His words trailed off until they became inaudible, and Amethysta and the God of War vanished, leaving behind only a dissipating 'mist' of glistening, fiery red.
Nobody noticed when Salmoneous, standing by the feast table, also instantly disappeared!
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