Welcome to Dragon & Tiger

Title and Chapter Number: StormWarning 1/1
Fandom: Xena/Ares' Temple
Rating: NC17
Disclaimer: Xena, Ares, and other Herc/Xenaverse Characters are owned by their respective creators and they retain all rights. Priestesses own themselves. Fireheart and other OC's are owned by me.
Special Warning: None
Beta: None
Cast: Ares, Priestesses
Timeline: AU
Spoiler: Not really, since this never happened
Summary: How Fireheart came to the Temple

The morning dawned bright from over the eastern mountains, spilling light down into the Valley of the Pride. The caves on the southern wall of the valley were filled with light, and their occupants made their best use of it, stretching out on the ledges. Dragonhide of every colour could be seen shining in the sun.

The early light sparkled in a thousand rainbows off of the castle's white granite walls and turned into a million through the droplets of the fountains. A small breeze stirred the tops of the palms and drifted in windows.

While the city had been awake for hours, the castle, where it sat above it on the mountain, was far away from the noises, and the smells, of civilization.

Sunlight filtered into Isfahel's rooms, a light breeze fluttered the sheer curtains. She rolled away from the light streaming in the windows and the wide open door to the balcony. Stretching across the bed she came fully awake, realizing it was empty.

Bastard she thought as she kicked the light covers off and rose.

She crossed the cool white marble floor to her bath. She could have called a house woman to draw her a bath, her position as chief of the Royal Guard had it's perks, but typically chose to take care of herself.

Lounging in the now tepid water, Isfahel almost dozed, until a small knock on the door.


Exasperated beyond words, Isfahel stepped out of the sunken rose marble tub, grabbed her white robe from its hook, and strode to the door. Throwing it open, a pitiful excuse for a Prince stood in the port. "You want...?" she inquired, still holding onto the door, not stepping aside for him to enter.

"Oh come on, let me in. I'm sorry - "

But she cut the Prince off. "I am so tired of waking up alone. Do you have any idea? I'm sorry if I'm an inconvenience."

"Oh baby, you know it's not like that. My life isn't normal, I told you that. I never claimed to be the best, but I love you."

Practically groveling. If his adoring subjects could see him now. She rolled her eyes. Isfahel stepped away from the door, crossed her room and placed her bed between them. "I don't expect to be your first priority, but I DO expect to be on the list! Are you coming today? Or do I have to do this alone?"

Prince Mykl actually had the nerve to look stricken that she would suggest that he might not be at the final tattooing. The last part of the Dragon, the final stage. A display of her Clan, Rank, and allegiance to the Crown, and first and foremost, to her vow to her clan's patron, Illian, to protect the Dragons.

Then he pouted.

Her anger spent, she had to admit to herself how damn cute he was when he made that face. By the Mother, she loved him, and all of his faults. Her heart hurt when she looked at him. She crawled across the bed and reached up around his neck.

Mykl held her tight, kissed her forehead and said into her hair, "Oh Isfahel, I'm sorry. I never meant..."

"I know. I just want to hold on to you for a minute, I never know when I will again."

The pain was negligible. Isfahel had put herself into a deep meditative trance, concentrating on Mykl's face, his green/brown eyes, the sun on his hair...

The artist hit a tender spot, making Isfahel twitch, and drawing a drop of blood. "Almost done..." he whispered. Then he was done. Blotting the blood and excess colour off of her back, he then covered it with a cool, soothing salve. As Isfahel came out of her trance, she felt the salve take effect, and the stinging itch that was almost constant was now gone. Prince Mykl helped her to her feet from her uncomfortable perch lying across a stool.

"OK baby?"

"Yep, just lovely. I need a drink."

Just another morning waking up alone, but somehow this time was different. Fury burnt in her bones. Isfahel was having trouble controlling it. She fumed as she went about her morning rituals. The more she tried to suppress it, the more it smoldered.

Finally she snapped. "This is the last time!" She bellowed, as she threw a table across the room, scattering it's contents. Snatching up her staff and cloak, she made her way towards the stable. She would find him this time. Hunt him down.

A summer storm loomed on the western horizon, lightning visible within the clouds. Bowen's hooves made their own thunder as they raced across the baked hard sand. Isfahel's kellar reached out to find Mykl, locking on his aura, her hands unconsciously guided her warhorse towards the prince. Down a gorge, she climbed a natural stair/ramp to the mouth of a cave.

Alerted to her approach by the sound of Bowen's hooves, the prince emerged from the cave just as Isfahel gained the ledge.

"Baby", he started, but he saw Isfahel's green eyes bubble with molten gold.

She approached him, her eyes never left his. A scrape from within the cave made Isfahel's attention snap to her right a second before the blonde streak hurled itself at her.

Isfahel ducked the wide arc of the blow clumsily aimed for her head and brought up her staff to block another. The blonde was obviously not accustomed to the size and weight of Mykl's sword. Seeing her opponents weakness, and being wholely possessed by the Lust/Rage, Isfahel knocked the Prince's sword out of the woman's grasp with an up swing, and brought the brass head of the staff down and around in a wide arc, planting it firmly on the back of the woman's head. A crunch and soft thud told her she'd hit home. The woman hit the ground dead.

In a daze, Mykl automatically retrieved his sword, and approached Isfahel. A serious error in judgment. A fatal mistake. Isfahel's eyes still sparkled gold, her conscious self locked within her rage. Seeing only the man that betrayed her advancing with a sword, she lashed out at him, catching him off guard, the bloodied head of her staff hitting him square in the temple.

He fell, crumpled in a pile next to his lover.

Isfahel simply stood and starred on the wide sun bathed ledge. The storm that threatened still looming in the western sky. Her rage slowly receded, her consciousness resurfacing. The scene before her filtered into her brain.

Bowen stomped a hoof, snorted his impatience. The outside stimulus finally broke Isfahel's shell. The sun beat mercilessly down on her, soaking her in sweat. Her back itched like a million bugs crawled on it.

"By the Mother," she whispered and having broken the spell of motionlessness, she tilted, leaning on her bloodied staff. Lightning struck a mountaintop nearby. Isfahel expected the Father of Storms to strike her dead, but instead a pair of strong hands caught her shoulders.

Isfahel was still stunned. But glad for the support, she sagged against the form behind her.

"Isfahel," a strong silky voice whispered in her ear. The hand that held her right shoulder released it, and took her staff from her white knuckled grip. "This stays here," he said, tossing it next to the bodies. Then he turned her to face him, tearing her eyes for the first time from the grizzly scene before her. "I'm Ares, God of War, and you're going to come with me."

Isfahel turned to face the creature behind her. "Where did you come from? Did Illian send you? Where are we going?" But looking into his eyes stopped her. There was an intensity that thrilled and scared her at the same time. A power beyond any she'd ever witnessed. Even Illian's.

"In time my dear. Now we must go."

Reality was still settling. "What about my horse?"

Ares looked over the ledge at the warhorse. Impatiently, "He can come too. Now..."

"But - "


Isfahel stood in the hall, late evening sunlight filtered red and orange through the windows, lighting the dust and cobwebs that covered the walls, hung from the ceiling. "What is this?"

"This is my Temple."

"Your Temple? Uh-huh."

"So it needs work, that's why you're here."

"Excuse me? I am not a servant, I am a warrior."

"I need you. I want you to be my Priestess, High Priestess. I need you to bring others here, fill the Temple with my followers."

"And I should do this because - ?"

Ares temper rose. "Because I brought you here, saved your life," he said in a dangerous half whisper. "Now, find a room, and get comfortable. I'll be back." And he was gone. A swirl of dust was all that was left. The light was also gone, the sun set.

Isfahel found a torch, still stuck in a wall brace, covered with even more cobwebs. ~Even the spiders left~ Concentrating on the torch, Isfahel's eyes sparkled with gold flecks, and the torch burst into smoking life. "Well," she said to the walls, "now what. A room, find a room...oh joy."

She followed the left hallway, halfway down a door on the right seemed to feel right. She brushed the cobwebs away from the latch and opened it. Within it was dark. Her sputtering torch revealed tall windows, a huge curtained bed, and dozens of candles. ~Just in time~ quickly she lit a few from the torch, her head still hurt from lighting it. They gave an almost warm glow by which she discovered a fireplace. There was even still old wood in it. She tossed the almost spent torch in, and the dry wood caught instantly. ~Hope the chimney is clear~ she thought a tad belatedly. But it seemed to be, and the room slowly warmed, chasing the night chill out.

Isfahel turned to the bed, and pulled the dusty ancient velvet curtains back. The whole bed was covered with decades of dirt. "And I'm supposed to sleep here?"

"Why not?" Ares said as he appeared in the still open doorway.

Isfahel spun around at his voice. "This place is disgusting." She turned back to point at the bed, but the room had been transformed. Not a speck of dust or a cobweb was left. The heavy velvet curtains were gone, replaced by soft sheer drapes. The windows were shuttered, holding the heat. The candles were all lit now, giving a light vanilla scent. The now visible floor was beautiful black marble.

"Ares - um - My Lord, it's gorgeous."

"Hungry?" He waved a hand, and a tray of food appeared in the middle of the bed.

Isfahel almost said no, until she smelled the still warm bread. "Famished! Will you join me?"

"I'm afraid I can't my dear, but I will return in the morning. Sweet dreams." Ares kissed her hand, then disappeared.

Isfahel sat down on the bed and checked out the tray of food. Fruit, bread, cheese, and a pitcher of wine, a nice red she discovered. Digging in, she was soon full and sleepy from the heat. She laid back on the pillows, and started to drift off.

A light bump on the foot of the bed woke her, but she froze, peeking out from under her eyelids. A skinny black and white cat crept up on the tray of food, reached out a paw and hooked a hunk of cheese. Retreating to the corner of the bed, he wolfed it down. Isfahel slowly sat up, and the cat almost bolted, his stomach getting the better of his judgment. She gently tossed him another piece of cheese, and he only hesitated for a moment before downing that one too. "Come here you poor creature..." she whispered, "come on you poor little monster...that's a puss. Tich-tich, here Monster..." Eventually the cat let her scratch his ears, and even deigned to purr.

With a full belly and a new name, Monster decided to stake his claim to the center of the bed. Isfahel moved the mostly empty tray to the table next to the bed and edged in next to the cat. She curled up and tried to sleep, but in the lonely dark of the night, the day came back to her.

Ares watched his new High Priestess. She would make a magnificent warrior, pity she had to suffer so...The God of War turned back to his Godly occupations.

In the morning, Ares knocked at the door to Isfahel's new room. "Isfahel? may I come in?"

She jumped up out of bed, wiped her face quickly, and tried to push her hair out of her face. "Of course my Lord."

Ares entered. "Good morning." Seeing the furry lump of Monster in her bed he asked, "What's that?"

"Monster. He was starving..."

"Animals in my Temple..." he mumbled under his breath. "How are you this morning?"

She thought it was fairly obvious that she felt like shit, but she humored him. "Fine."

"Your horse is in the stable, I thought you might like to see to him. I have a gift for you." Ares produced a Warstaff, dark cherry, light leather bound, with a brass head and heal. The head was a shaped like a dragon.

Isfahel looked stricken.

"It once belonged to a great Warrior. Now it belongs to another."

"Thank you." She accepted it reluctantly. Isfahel turned and stood it in the corner. "Lord Ares?

Might I ask a favor?"

"If it is within my power."

"I'd like to be called Fireheart. It's how my name translates. I'd rather not be Isfahel right now."

"Well then," Ares drew his sword, "I hereby dub thee: Fireheart, Ares High Priestess, Dominion Temple."

Ares knew just when to push her and just how. The staff had been his tool. He let her be in the Temple, visiting now and then to reinforce his presence but leaving her alone to deal with her past. But soon it would be time for her to become his completely. And her past would make her his.