by Joseph Anderson

Xena, Gabrielle and all elements from the TV show Xena: Warrior Princess belong to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. All other characters belong to the author. No copyright infringement is intended with this fan fiction which may not be sold, may be copied for personal use only, and must have all notices of copyright.

This is a sequel to My Brother's Keeper.

This story contains graphic violence and some rough language.

The assassins had managed to reach the inner palace successfully. It was quiet in the dark night. There were six of them and they knew where the prince's apartments were. Queen Jilly was away so now was their best chance. A raid had been committed on a border village to draw Captain Angela away and leave Good Prince Samuel undefended except for his regular guards, several of whom were dead now as the men made their way to their target.

They saw Prince Samuel's door now with a guard stationed in front of it. One threw a knife and they were all on him before he could make a sound. They quietly opened the door and slipped into the dark room.


The assassins froze and looked. A tall figure dressed in white silk was looking at them. It was dark but they could just make out the prince's long curling mustache and thick long hair. The men rushed him but found themselves held in inhumanly strong hands. Frightened they looked at their captors. Three pale beautiful women with glowing eyes held them. They had been waiting for them on the ceiling and just dropped down. Bacchae. The women were opening and closing their jaws, their long canine teeth catching the light. They kept looking at the prince, waiting for his commands.

Good Prince Samuel looked the men over then opened his door and saw his dead guard. He turned and came back to the assassins.

"How many of my people have you murdered?" he said coldly.

They did not answer. The prince nodded at one of the bacchae and she sank her fangs into one of the men's shoulders and just ripped a huge piece of flesh away. She spat it out, though she licked the blood from around her mouth as the man screamed in agony. The creature then sank her teeth into the throat of the other man she held and began drinking his blood. The prince looked at the other men.

"How many of my people have you murdered?" he repeated.

The leader of them, sweating now, answered, "Eight, your highness."

Good Prince Samuel nodded and said, "That wasn't so hard now was it? Who sent you?" The man hesitated and the prince nodded at the second bacchae who was holding two men, one with each long nailed hand. She pulled both of their shaking faces close to hers and suddenly with an animalistic growl bit their noses and lips off, then dropped their screaming forms next to the first writhing men, and began feeding on them

"King Wixell, your highness!" the leader said quickly, nearly weeping. He looked at his remaining companion. The bacchae holding both of them was studying the man's throat closely. She looked at the prince who nodded and she ripped it out with her teeth, slurping loudly at the blood before dropping him. That just left the leader held by the creature, a beautiful blonde with red lips and white skin who was smiling and looking from the assassin to the prince and back again.

The handsome young prince walked close to him and put his hand on his shoulder, looking him in the eyes. "Why does my neighbor want to kill me?"

"Your highness, I do not know for certain. I can guess if you want."

Prince Samuel smiled. "Please do."

"The common people prefer you to him. There has even been talk of inviting you to be their king."

"So he decided to kill me for your opinion?" the tall young man said.

"I think so, your highness."

Good Prince Samuel turned and looked down, seeming to be thinking. He tapped his chin, distractedly, then glanced back up at the bacchae and nodded. The assassin screamed as she tore his throat out and began feeding like her sisters.

The door suddenly burst open and a tall figure was standing there holding a sword. The bacchae looked up at her in surprise then returned to feeding.

"What is this shit, Sammy?" she said angrily.

"Oh, hi, Angela. Wixell sent some men to kill me. He's jealous it sounds like. Since you were gone, Bacchus sent these cuties to guard me. That's Fotena, there's Clealithesia-Clea for short, and this is Elvira. Say hello to Captain Angela, girls."

The bacchae, growling, looked at the tall warrior and nodded at her then returned to their prey.

The tall red-haired woman stared at the creatures fascinated. "Bacchus? What do you have to do with Bacchus? You're keeping some dangerous company if what I've heard is true."

The prince smiled at her and said, "Well, apparently he likes the way I handle myself. He hasn't asked for anything but for me to put up a temple to him. He says I'm his favorite but that I don't have to do anything. 'Just do what comes naturally,' he said. Cool, huh?"

"I don't know about this, Sam. This is Ares' and Athena's kingdom."

Sam shook his head. "No, Athena's gone. I mean we'll respect Langland's temples and everything--no reason to get her any madder than she already is--but now it can be Ares and Bacchus. Jilly and you are Ares' favorites; and now I'm Bacchus's like Langland was Athena's."

Angela began smiling as she continued watching the creatures drinking blood. "Xena will blow a gasket when she hears about this," she said with a laugh. "What do you want to do about Wixell?"

"Take him out, Angela. But not in a war. His people want me to rule; that's what this is about."

"One hit coming up," she said. She paused, "How about if I grab him? Then you can impale him or something. Jilly wouldn't object to that, I don't think."

"Yeah, sure, whatever," Sam answered.


The big bay gelding he was riding responded to his every move. Bancher still felt odd with all of the finery: the fine horse, the rich clothes, the sword worth more than he had ever earned in his life. He couldn't look at his saddle without thinking of what it would mean to a small village if he sold it and gave them the proceeds. Jilly had laid down the law though. He was helping plenty of poor people; as her advisor and consort he had to have a proper appearance. Not everybody was as evolved as he was, she told him. The people wanted them to look good; they took `pride in them. She let him use more of her treasury than she had ever considered for the poor, so he just had to accept living above subsistence level. It would reflect on her if he looked second rate and Jilly wasn't second rate, thank you very much.

"Jilly, look at that," he said.

The blonde warrior queen had stopped her own horse, a huge black stallion like she always chose--like Callisto had ridden: it was a way for her to try to keep her in mind. "I know, Bancher. I saw it too."

On the side of a barn they saw a simple picture--Jilly tried to remember--pictographs that was it. It was a sign, really, not a picture. A line for the ground, a vertical line up and a simple curved outline of a man impaled on the vertical.

"We're still in Wixell's kingdom," Bancher said.

"I thought so," Jilly said as she spurred her horse forward. As they progressed they saw more and more of the pictographs. Then they saw a man, but he wasn't impaled; he was crucified in front of one of the pictographs. Jilly could tell he had been there quite a while though.

"Jilly..." Bancher said.

"I don't know..." she answered.

They carefully entered a village. Jilly was experienced enough to know how dangerous revolutions and war zones could be; just because they were royalty wouldn't save them if a stray arrow came their way. And look at the Romanovs. Some faction could be out there whose sole aim was to get her and Bancher.

They needed to eat, so they might as well stop at an inn and see what was going on. They tied their horses up outside and walked in. Everyone froze, then all the people in the room came toward them and got on their knees.

Jilly was more used to this kind of thing than Bancher. She said, "Tell me what has occurred that you greet me this way."

A fair haired older man in an apron stood up and spoke. "Your majesty, your royal brother, Prince Samuel, is now our king. King Wixell tried to murder your brother. He is impaled in your own courtyard and Good Prince Samuel has agreed to be our king. He has told us you are our overlord, however, and as such we greet you."

Jilly said, "Rise, all of you. I thank you. You could not have chosen a better king than my noble brother."

She and Bancher took a table and after asking for food, Jilly said to Bancher in an angry whisper, "Damnit! Sam is screwing up the balance of power. Everyone else will assume the two kingdoms are merged and they'll start plotting to keep me in check. Goddamnit!"

A waitress who was nearer to them than they realized made some mewling sounds. Bancher realized she wanted their attention though Jilly seemed to think she was just retarded.


Jilly looked at her. Scared to death. She couldn't even have Bancher find out what she wanted; as long as Jilly was there no one even saw him. Jilly had replaced Callisto as who children thought would come and get them if they were bad. This teenager had grown up hearing about Jilly the Butcher.

"Spit it out," she ordered.

"Queen, King Empidocles' kingdom has also asked Prince Samuel to be their king! The king is old and knows his son is a degenerant! He has adopted Prince Samuel and renounced his own blood! And the Tyrant, Regenic of Malos, has pledged Prince Samuel his fealty and also named him as heir."

"Jesus!" Jilly said. "That makes me the big fish in the sea. There is no balance of power. Sam did what me and Langland couldn't do in 15 years of war and scheming....Sparta won't like this."

Jilly saw the girl staring at her in an intense, almost mad way. "Yeah?"

"Queen, for..forgive me! It is just that came from the same womb as Good Prince Samuel!"

"Oh, Christ!" Jilly said and got up and left, though not before the girl had managed to grab her hand and kiss it. She just pulled her hand back but the girl cowered behind Bancher. Great, Jilly thought, that'll be another story about me: Kind Lord Bancher saves a young girl from Jilly the Butcher. She wondered if this was how King Saul got started.

Bancher had their food packed for them and of course overpaid for it, though they didn't want to accept anything. They rode outside town and then ate. Bancher could see Jilly was seething. "I'm sure Sam didn't look for this," he said.

Jilly glared at him and threw the piece of bread down she was holding. "Not you too! I know Sam didn't look for this. What, are you afraid Jilly the Butcher will murder Good Prince Samuel out of jealousy?"

"Of course not, Jilly. You do seem pretty upset though."

"Of course I'm upset. Everybody thinks I'm like Jack Palance in Shane!"


"Never mind, Bancher. Just a bad killer that everybody was scared of. Listen, Bancher, I didn't tell you this because I was ashamed of it. But when we were in Athens, Athena told me she let Sam sink into blood as her punishment of me."

Bancher stared at her. "Punishment? Why?"

"You. Langland was her favorite. He killed himself because he knew I would fall for you."

Speaking slowly, Bancher said, "So she turned my brother into a monster. Then it's not really him?"

"No, Bancher. This is Athena we're talking about. That's way too simple for her. She said she didn't do anything to Sam, just encouraged Terruk to be warlike. That was all Sam needed. My seeing what people think of me is also part of my punishment."

"Seems pretty light, considering," Bancher said judiciously.

Jilly paused, not wanting to say what she had to. "Langland begged her not to do anything worse to me. He's dead and he's STILL looking out for me. She didn't tell me if he's in Tartarus or the Elysian Fields. I'd assume Tartarus, but since he's Athena's 'beautiful man,' who knows?"

Bancher stared off into the distance. He would never have imagined himself in the middle of something like this. He wasn't like Jilly or Langland: he was just a normal person who did his best. "You didn't do anything, Jilly. Neither of us did."

"Langland and Athena don't think that way. They can see where things will go and it's like it has already happened as far as they're concerned. Langland was always right. I'm sure he was about this too." Jilly seemed to be talking to her plate of food. She hurridly ate the rest of it, knowing she needed to eat, then brusquely said, "Let's get the hell out of here."

As they progressed through Wixell's former kingdom the same scene was repeated wherever they stopped, so finally Jilly just had Bancher go into the villages without her to get food. When she was recognized everyone would be shaking in fear and flattened to the ground, though she got the feeling the fact she was Sam's sister had actually ameliorated how they felt about her. How was it before? she thought. Half of Greece apparently wet itself at the mention of her name.

Callisto and Xena in her warlord days had consciously set out to be feared. It just came to Jilly doing what she did naturally. As a child with Callisto she'd been widely considered a demon. As one of the lieutenants of the Sword of Ares she'd helped Kimberly hunt down warlords in Greece and then cut a bloody swath through the east. And now as queen she was Atilla the Hun, Jack the Ripper and Stalin all rolled into one. Langland must have been aware of that but didn't think it was important enough to even mention to her. Maybe it wouldn't have meant much to her either when she was with Langland. Jilly was going through a midlife crisis and making a sea change to being more like Bancher. It was too late now to change what most of the known world thought of her though. Maybe she should just abdicate in favor of Sam and go back to Chicago with Bancher (though what he would do there she didn't know), but then Sam might go completely berserk, and Jilly would have his victims on her conscience. Pretty smooth, Athena, she thought.

When they reached the border of her kingdom an honor guard was waiting to escort her in. She'd been spotted so it was no surprise. It wasn't protection in her case, of course; more protocol. The people wanted that kind of stuff, she'd finally accepted. Originally she'd completely ignored all of that. But Langland had told her that everything would run a lot smoother if she got a little pompous. Probably part of the fear people had of her was because of how little into protocol and ceremony she was. She didn't act like a queen--which made people nervous. They could probably tell she thought it was a big joke even when she did act the part.

Not like Sam, she thought. He was into it now hook, line and sinker, and everybody ate it up. He understood in his guts what the ceremonies and pomp signified. Her kingdom to Jilly was just a job like any other, really. She'd die defending it but it was still just a job. If Ares gave her another kingdom, she'd feel the same about it. She felt stronger about her dad's restaurant in Chicago than her kingdom. But Sam; he really had this connection to the people now just as they had to him. That's how a prince is supposed to feel and that's why he was so dangerous. Instead of being a great fighter and military leader like she was or a machiavellian genius like Langland, Sam could mobilize the hearts of people because he was totally sincere. He couldn't be Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great but he could be Mohammad or Adolph Hitler. The Terruk invasion he had rallied her kingdom against had focused and hardened him. His people's enemies ceased to be human beings and could be tortured and annihilated without a qualm. As a tactician Jilly accepted the necessity of fighting that way. Sam wasn't a soldier, however. He had kept the mindset after the fighting had ended and in fact had gotten worse, feeling free to use his enemies in any way imaginable. Once again, he felt justified and was totally sincere. And he was worshiped by his people.

Jilly noticed a rider waiting for them on the road as she and Bancher were being escorted by the honor guard and she told them to stop, recognizing Xena. She had seen her not that long before in Athens and she wondered what she was doing here.

"Wait here," she told the guards but indicated for Bancher to come and they rode to meet the gray-haired old warrior princess. "What's wrong, Xena?" She said without any preamble.

Xena looked grim. "Bacchus."

Jilly looked at her, putting two and two together. "Oh God," she said, and Xena nodded. Jilly looked over at Bancher. He couldn't be expected to know these things. "Bacchus likes blood, Bancher. It doesn't have to be in battle like Ares. Fighting wouldn't even interest him."

Bancher wasn't stupid. "Sam."

Xena nodded. "Sam's building a temple, Jilly.

"How'd you hear about it so fast, Xena?"

"Angela sent me word. I'm sure it was painful for her not to come and tell me herself. She doesn't like to leave Sam alone though."

Jilly said, "Angela's idea of a joke, Bancher. Bacchus hates Xena.

Bancher didn't need that explained to him; he'd heard Gabrielle's poem about it and knew Angela better than he'd like to.

"Have you talked to Sam?" Bancher asked.

Xena nodded. "He doesn't understand what my problem is. He won't sacrifice any of his subjects so he thinks I'm overreacting. Jilly, he's actually got bacchae with him! Sam's sweet as ever and Angela just sits there smirking. I wanna wipe it off her face!"

"I wouldn't try it if I were you, Xena. I'm not sure I could take her anymore," Jilly said.

"I know," Xena said looking away.

Bancher was looking from one to the other. All they could think of was fighting. That there might be any other way of resolving something didn't even occur to them. They were Ares' favorites.

"Well," Jilly said, starting her horse back toward their escort, "let's go talk to him. I'm still the queen."


"Of course, Jilly! This is your kingdom. You don't want a temple to Bacchus; I'll tear it down," Sam said to his sister. He was dressed in purple silk fringed with white fur, and wore a heavy gold chain. His dark hair was very long now, cascading over his shoulders. He towered over the blonde woman. He'd met them in the courtyard where Bancher and Gabrielle, who was waiting with Sam, were the only ones who seemed concerned about Wixell's dried corpse over them. Now they were in the throne room and Angela had joined them.

Jilly said, "And your other kingdoms, Sam. I thought I was overlord?"

"You are overlord, Jilly. I'll support you in war and anything else, but I'm going to run them internally like I want. I'm their king just like you're queen here."

Taking a deep breath, Jilly said, "Sam, as your overlord I command you not to build temples to Bacchus, or impale or burn people."

Sam looked at her and he seemed to have pain in his beautiful blue eyes. "I'm sorry, Jilly, but as overlord you only command my fealty in war. You have no say about what I do internally. I hope you can understand. I hate disobeying you but I have to look out for my new subjects. I owe it to them."

The blonde warrior queen looked over at Xena and Gabrielle who had heard it all before. Then she looked at Angela, sitting there fiddling with a stilleto with a bone handle and smirking. Jilly looked closer at the knife handle...Jeez! She decided to try another approach. "Okay, Sam, I don't have authority in your kingdoms. You understand the formalities better than me now. Will you cut out all this blood stuff as a favor to your sister who loves you and just wants what's best?"

Sam's eyes were red as he took her hands. "I can't, Jilly! I have to look out for my subjects. I have to do what I think is best, even if it means disobeying you. I'm sorry!" He hugged her and left the throne room, upset. Angela smiled at Jilly and Xena innocently, kissed Bancher on the cheek and sauntered out following Sam.

Jilly looked at the goblet Sam had been drinking from, picked it up and sniffed it. She handed it to Xena without a word. The old warrior princess looked close to tears and Gabrielle started crying.


Bancher and Jilly were riding along the border with Empidocles's kingdom. He had died and Sam had assumed his throne. He didn't want to be called king though. He said he preferred prince since he didn't want to seem to be competing with Queen Jilly. That was what he'd told them in Wixell's kingdom and the city-state of Malos, too. There was a sick fascination that Jilly and Bancher felt. She thought it was like a car wreck; she wasn't sure what the analogy would be for Bancher. The poles were already up and the figures squirming. Jilly was used to blood and cruelty, of course, but Bancher was still shocked at this stuff. Sam was punishing criminals that way now too; not just enemy soldiers.

They saw a figure disengage from supervising a new group of impalings and begin riding their way. They both recognized the Captain of the Royal Guard. She grinned at them as she approached the border where they waited. "Hey, you two! Can I help you with something?"

Jilly stared at her. Angela wasn't out to mess with her head like she did with Xena. She'd apologized for what she'd said to her when Jilly first arrived back from Chicago. After all, she was Jilly the Butcher, Ares' favorite and Sam's sister. Angela saw her as a role model--too bad she was getting soft now but she attributed it to Bancher's influence. Love did funny things to people. Angela and Sam were meticulous about following her commands in Jilly's kingdom so she hadn't replaced Angela. She needed her, especially now that they had so much more territory to protect and everyone was so paranoid about Sam. Several kings had instituted crackdowns so they wouldn't end up having their kingdoms handed over to Good Prince Samuel, and they were forming an alliance against Jilly and Sam. Jilly needed Captain Angela since she couldn't be everywhere at once herself.

"No thanks, Angela. We were just admiring the view," Jilly said wearily. She'd given up trying to argue about it. Sam didn't get it and Angela was a died in the wool sadist. What was Jilly supposed to do; go to war with her brother to stop him impaling his enemies and criminals. A war would kill more people than Sam was since she knew she and Angela could probably draw it out indefinitely. Jilly could even lose. Sam had more troops now and Angela was just as good as she was. That was assuming, of course, Jilly's army didn't just desert en masse to Sam--and that was assuming a lot. Real smooth, Athena, Jilly thought again for the ten-thousandth time. She had told Sam about what Athena had said. He was mad about his subjects hurt and killed in the Terrukan war, but aside from that he'd just shrugged and Angela had laughed.

The red-haired officer said, "Yeah, me and Sam like it too. Sometimes we have picnics out among the stakes. You're probably being sarcastic though, right?"

"Right, Angela," Jilly said. She glanced at Bancher who looked like he was turning green as he listened to them. "Angela, what does Sam get out of it? I understand what you get, but what do you think Sam does."

The lanky red head looked at her soldiers, making sure they weren't loafing, then she turned back to Jilly. "That's a good question. I'm not quite sure, Jilly. It's some kinda metaphysical blood thing. He was into it even before Bacchus showed up. Sam doesn't like watching 'em squrim like I do; you're right there. But it's like the screaming and blood feeds him or something and connects him to his subjects. I dunno, Jilly." Angela paused, seeming to consider if she should say what she thought. "He really loves his people, Jilly. A lot more than you ever did."

The queen nodded. "Thanks for being honest, Angela," Jilly said. She had to get Bancher out of here before he lost his lunch. "Kiss Sam for me," she said and started her black stallion away.

"Sure thing!" Angela said and headed her own horse back to the impaled screaming figures.


Captain Angela nodded to the grizzled guard on duty outside the apartments she shared with the prince. Angela clapped his shoulder; he'd been doing this for years. She entered and saw Sam's long beautiful hair hanging down over the back of a chair. It was like it always had been. She was aging but he wasn't. Those were the breaks. She got a strange feeling from him though and was instantly at his side, and looking around. He only had Clea, Fo and Elvira to guard him at night.

"Sam, are you all right?" she said with a hand on her sword.

Prince Samuel looked up at his consort. "Angela, I was just looking at something." She looked at what he was holding.

"God! I haven't seen that in twenty years," Angela said.

Sam had a photograph in his hands. It was her and Sam on their first date: before he'd taken her to meet Jilly; before any of the rest of it.

"You look so innocent, Angela," he said softly.

She laughed and said, "Yeah, and you look like a puppy or something." Angela scratched his head like he was a puppy.

"You took me to that vegetarian place you liked," he said. "You couldn't stand the thought of eating innocent animals."

"Yup, I was a big tofu-head in those days. I'm surprised you didn't gag, considering you were used to Jilly's cooking." She took the snapshot they'd gotten in a little booth and looked at it, then tossed it back on Sam's desk. "Look at this, Sam. Isn't this great!" Angela took something from a pocket.

He took it and examined it, seeing his symbol of an impaled man engraved on it. "What is it?"

"It's a thumbscrew, Sam. My own design. It's light, portable, easy to use. What do you think?"

He handed it back to her. "It's very nice, Angela," he said quietly, picked the old photobooth picture back up and walked out onto his balcony, leaving her admiring her new toy.

She called out to him, "Oh, Sam. I think some more kingdoms are going to invite you in. It's about time, again. You know it runs in cycles. I'll get the army ready. There's always trouble with one or two sore losers."


Los Angeles International Airport, June 12, 1965. 1:30 a.m.

Bill grinned and said loudly, "It's GPS."

"All right!" the other air traffic controllers said.

"Put her on the speaker," one said.

Bill flipped the switch, and the sexy Greek-accented voice filled the control tower, "Los Angeles, this is GPS-1496332. Are we cleared for landing?"

Bill answered, "You are cleared for landing on runway 3, GPS-1496332." He held a thumb up and all the other male controllers gave him a thumbs up. There were two female air traffic controllers. They made a point of looking disdainful whenever the guys talked that way. But they secretly made a thumbs up to each other and were waiting.

"And... here... she... comes," Bill said as the 707 came in for a perfect landing. "I think it was Fo. What do you think?"

"Nah," Jack said, "that was Clea."

"How do you guys know which hole to stick it in? That's Elvira! Ten bucks!" Gus said.

"You're on!" Jack answered.

As it taxied to a stop and the ground crew went out to meet it they were all watching the cockpit and the passenger doors.

"Ten bucks!" Jack said.

"Shit, she must have a cold or something," Gus groused.

As the stairs rolled up and the door opened, Julie and Karen, the two female controllers sighed, though not so the guys could hear. They saw him come out. That long black hair. That thousand dollar suit. God! And the way he always tried being polite to his girls and you could see they just wanted to get him down the stairs in one piece and wished he would cool it with the noblesse oblige. God!

"Anybody ever figured out what the thing on the tail means?" Jack asked.

"Probably a corporate logo," Bill said.

"Well, duh. I know that. But what is it?"

They were all looking at the tail with its red logo of a horizontal line, and a vertical line passing through a curved line.

"Kinda looks like an anchor. Maybe he's a shipping tycoon like Onassis," Gus said.

"Maybe," Jack said.

The two female controllers weren't listening. Their eyes were just fastened on him as he actually made it down the stairs without tripping. "Wish I could be one of his girls," Karen whispered. Julie rolled her eyes and nodded. They heard laughing and looked around to see the guys watching them. They both blushed.


University of Chicago Library, Fredericks Wing, Pappas Collection: April 21, 1971

It was getting near the end of her shift and Angela Gilroy wanted to get back to her apartment. She had to study and then go to basketball practice.

"Excuse me."

She looked up and caught her breath. A handsome man was looking at her smiling, his blue eyes gleaming. He was tall, as tall as she was, and he had a long black curling mustache and the longest hair she'd ever seen on a guy.

"Ye..yes?" she said. He was the most beautiful person she'd ever seen. Flustered she looked down at her hands, embarrassed by how freckled she was even though everybody told her it looked good.

"I wonder if you could help me," the man said smoothly. He looked around 30 but there was something else about him, something almost ageless. "I am looking for information about a ruler in Ancient Greece."

Angela felt herself blushing. What was wrong with her? "Well, this is the place for that. This might be the finest collection in the world in fact for that!" Christ! she was babbling. Angela reached up and ran her hand through her red hair and laughed like an idiot.

"You seem nervous. Is there anything I can do?" the man said and ducked down a little to look in her eyes and smiled. She'd never seen such white teeth. She smiled and just gave up.

"I am nervous. I don't know why. Anyway, what can I help you find?"

"I wish to learn about a ruler named Samuel. He was related to Xena of Corinth and Queen Jilly."

"Oh, Good Prince Samuel. Jilly the Butcher's little brother. Yeah, I know who you mean...what?"

"Please do not call her that. I know something about the family and she does not deserve to be remembered that way."

Angela felt herself getting her bearings back and she wanted to reassert herself. It made her sort of mad that he'd flustered her so much without doing anything. "Well, I'm not so sure about that. Everybody seems to agree that she was pretty much of a monster. She murdered her husband, King Langland, so she could have some peasant stud, and her brother held her back from being even worse than she would've been. He was loved everywhere and Jilly was jealous of him and supposedly killed whoever spoke well of Good Prince Samuel. Jilly used to impale people alive and set them on fire. There are even stories that she drank blood."

"No, no..she never drank blood. I know that for a fact."

"Sounds like you already know all about it. What do you need here?" What was wrong with her? How could she talk like that to a patron? "God, I'm sorry!" she was flustered again, but he was just smiling at her. Then she blurted out, "I'm in here Wednesdays and Thursdays." Her face got red and she actually had to turn and walk away to hide. When she thought she could stand it she peered out from the back room and he was gone. Angela hit her head against the wall.

The next Wednesday she was frightened to death he would come in...and scared he wouldn't. She looked up at a crash as he tripped entering the door. She laughed then covered her mouth with her hands. He looked at her and said self-deprecatingly. "You see, I'm not so bad. I can barely get through a day without falling on my face. I'm Sam."

"Just like Good Prince Samuel, huh? I'm Angela."

"Glad to meet you, Angela."

"Um, Sam, did you come here just to see me?"

"I have come a very, very long way just to see you, Angela."

She laughed again, "Oh, really? What a line! Can I get you that information now?"

"No thank you. Can we get something to eat though?" he said with a smile. She kept looking at his white teeth and pale skin.

She hesitated then said, "Sure, I get off here in two hours."

"I'll be back then. Oh, what would you like to eat?"

"Well, I'm a vegetarian."

Sam smiled, "Certainly. You don't mind if I eat meat though, do you?"

"Nah, I'm no fanatic. You don't want veal though, I hope."

"Of course not, Angela. I'm not a monster!"


"God, how can you eat that? It's not cooked."

Her date glanced up at her as he cut another piece of bleeding thick red steak off. "It's cooked. I just like it rare."

She blushed for what seemed the hundredth time. "I'm sorry, I keep getting on your case. Would you like some wine?"

Sam held up his hand as he finished chewing and dabbed at his mouth with a napkin. "I never drink wine."

She'd never been out with someone like this before. When she came out of the library it was dark and he was in a white silk suit waiting with a black limousine. He said he wasn't any better a driver than he was a pedestrian, so he never drove. She wondered if his chauffer was for real--it was a beautiful girl with short slicked-back blonde hair, bright red lips, pale skin, wearing dark glasses. "How can she see?" she whispered to him.

He glanced at his driver. "You have to be able to delegate and trust people, Angela. I let Fotena worry about that."

When Angela went to the ladies' room in the elegant restaraunt, she could hear other women talking about him, practically drooling. She smiled to herself. She'd never been a place like this before either. It seemed to be a top of the line restaraunt with stiff waiters and crystal chandeliers--the whole bit--but the crowd was younger and hipper than she would have expected, and there was a door in the back that occasionally opened and she could hear the WHUMP WHUMP WHUMP of a disco--though it was muffled to not be disturbing. She wondered what the meal cost. The prices weren't on the menu. She'd asked--she considered herself a feminist--and he smiled at her and said, "It's my place. Don't worry about it." At one point he excused himself and she saw him go back into the kitchen. She could swear she saw someone kiss his hand before the door swung closed.

When he returned she asked, "So you're a restauranteur. That's what you do?'

He smiled at her again and she knew she blushed. "Among other things. I have various interests."

"I just don't get what you want with me. You seem like a rich you really do!" He had held his hand up in a gesture of denial. He reached over and took her hand.

"Why is it so hard for you to accept that I like you? If I had to I would walk the earth for three thousand years to be near you."

"Now cut that out! You don't even know me. Cut out the bullshit!" Where had that come from? She kept lashing out, like there was something in her he tapped by his very presence.

He smiled and handed her a small box. "I have a present for you, Angela. I thought a librarian could use a letter opener."

She looked suspiciously at him. He was really pushing it; but it felt right to her. What did that make her? She opened the box. "Wow! This is a letter opener? Looks more like something Lucretia Borgia would leave in somebody's back. What's the handle made of?"

"Bone, Angela. The engraving is of Bacchus and his followers."

"Huh...I thought Bacchus was a little kid...Sam, are you telling me this is a letter opener?"

"Wouldn't it work?" he sounded concerned.

"Well, sure it would work. Just like a machinegun would be a good canopener. God, I'm so sorry...there I go again! It's beautiful, Sam. Say, can we go dancing in that back room?"

Sam smiled and said, "You don't want to dance with me; you might end up with a broken foot or something. We can go back there though and I'm sure you can find someone not so clumsy."

"Oh, you. I bet you aren't really that bad."

He just smiled at her. "Don't bet the house, Angela."

When they finished their meal she saw him give the waiter what looked like a hundred dollar bill as a tip...Christ! They made their way back to the muffled door and went in and through another door--that kept the noise level down--and came out into a disco. She could swear people were unobtrusively bowing and curtseying to him. Who was this guy?

She insisted on pulling him onto the dance floor then said "OWW!" He looked embarrassed and stepped back from her.

"I told you, Angela!" He led her over by the wall and somehow two chairs were suddenly empty.

She looked at him wryly. "Good thing I didn't bet the house. It's okay. I still wanna dance." He seemed relieved she was all right.

"Do you dance with women too or only men?"

"What are you saying?" she snapped, then realized lots of women danced with women and it was perfectly innocent. Not like guys with guys. He smiled at her and suddenly Fotena was there again, but instead of her chauffeur uniform she was in a little black sparkly dress, stiletto heels, and her tits were practically hanging out. Still wore her shades though. She smiled at Angela, took her hand and led her back out on the dance floor. Looking back at Sam he was smiling encouragingly at her, another girl with the same look though with dark hair brought him a bloody mary or something--he'd said he didn't drink wine. She actually curtsied to him. Who was this guy?

Angela lost herself in the dancing, moving sensuously with the carressing rhythmic music in a way she never had before. She realized she'd changed partners a few times, with other women and a couple of guys. The first guy was probably a young lawyer or something, she guessed, and was cool; the second one seemed like an obnoxious frat boy who grabbed at her. Fotena was suddenly there dancing again and another of Sammy's angels, (that's how she was starting to think of them) was leading the frat boy off with a grip on his arm. He tried yanking his arm away and got a funny look on his face as it looked like the girl squeezed his arm. Angela forgot about him and went back to dancing with Fotena who she imagined was looking at her invitingly through her mirrored shades. Then she realized it wasn't Fotena.

"What's your name?" she asked.

"Elvira" the sexy girl answered from behind her dark glasses.

It occurred to her that Sam might have a kinky side to him. She'd never done anything like that, before, but Angela felt something inside her as she looked at the girl. A real creature of the night, she thought. Maybe she had a kinky side too and just didn't know it.

When she'd had enough she just impetuously hugged Elvira and made her way back to Sam who looked like he was holding court or something as various people came up to him. When he saw her they all faded away back into the crowd.

"Listen, Sam. You've got to tell me what's going on. If you're trying to seduce me, you're doing a good job so far. But I have to have some idea who you are." She was surprised at the strength in her voice. Where was this stuff coming from? The dark haired girl was suddenly beside her but disappeared at a look from Sam.

"What's that one's name?"

"Clea," Sam answered.

Suddenly the mood changed. Another man was standing there but he didn't have the same obsequious quality everyone else had had. You could see he was muscular under his grey double-breasted suit, and he had black hair and a perfectly trimmed black beard. His voice was low and melodious. "You mind telling me just what you think you're doing?"

Angela expected Elvira or one of the others to show up again but they didn't. Sam wasn't as commanding now either. "What's it look like? I'm on a date."

"Sam, you've got my sympathy. Maybe you don't believe that but it's true. But if you try to take her now it will change everything. You might not even be here. More importantly, she's mine. You think I'll give her up?"

Angela said angrily, "You two assholes are talking about me, aren't you? Like I'm something you can just decide what to do with!"

The handsome bearded man looked at her. "We both cherish you. It's the opposite of having no respect for you. Only he can't win. He can't fight me. I'm only talking to him because I know his family."

"Listen to her, she doesn't need the battle. It's coming out in her anyway. She doesn't need you!" Sam said smiling. "And you can only get her with me. She could have gone other ways but you don't want to think that."

"Not your way. She'll never feel about blood like that. She's a warrior, not some pervert." The anger was obviously building in the dark bearded man. It felt like the floor was vibrating.

Sam smiled. "'Pervert.' Look who's talking. You're the one with the big sword and the tiny little..."

"That's IT!" the bearded man said angrily. "My brother can take it up with our father and I'll make it up to Jilly. I'm gonna cut you into pieces and fry you up with garlic!"

Angela just stepped right in front of him, reached back and punched him in the face as hard as she could. "OWWW!" she cried holding her hand. The bearded man looked at her, amazement on his face.

"What are you doing, Angela? He wasn't in any immediate set me up!" he said furiously to Sam.

"Not so amusing when you're on the other side is it? Here, Angela... catch."

Something was spinning through the air catching the light from the mirrored ball. Somehow she reached her hand out and grabbed it and discovered a sword in her hand. Clea had thrown it; Sam sure couldn't have without cutting his own head off. Angela looked around. You'd think this would be getting attention but it wasn't. It was like no one could even see them except for Sam's three girls.

"Sam, are you trying to destroy yourself? She isn't set to meet the young you for another month."

"No, though that would be a nice side benefit. I want to stop her from turning dark. She can be strong without that."

"She was happy! What's wrong with you? You were both happy!"

"It's like something Jilly once said to me: I know better now."

"What the fuck are you two talking about?" Angela shouted, the sword feeling natural in her hand.

Ares said sneeringly, "Have you cleared this with your boss? I have a feeling my brother might not approve of this noble little plan of yours."

Sam sneered right back at him, "All he ever told me was to do what came naturally. I agree, though, he might not care for this. Wouldn't surprise me if my girls here ripped my head off any minute, in fact. Fine by me! Three thousand years is too long and you'll have lost Angela!"

A rumbling roar shook the disco and the music stopped. This time people could hear it and see something was up and there was a panicked stampede for the door. "Don't let anybody be trampled," Sam snapped and the girls were suddenly gone.

In a few minutes the large room was empty except for Ares, Sam and his girls, Angela, and a dark bulky shape looking down at them from a balcony. It just leaped down and landed not far from them and Angela said, "Holy Jesus!" It looked like the devil. Red skin, cape, huge muscles, clawlike hands, winding horns, yellow eyes. It just seemed to be wearing a loincloth and was hung like a horse. The three girls were staring transfixed at him.

"About time you showed up," Ares said with irritation. The creature looked at Sam and spoke in a deep voice that seemed to have a built-in echo chamber.

"You are trying to betray me! I have made you immortal and you seek to destroy your kingdom where my worship thrives!" As it spoke it opened and closed its claws like it wanted to rip Sam to shreds.

Sam answered, "Lord Bacchus, you sought me out. I never asked for anything and I don't want immortality."

Bacchus hissed and continued opening and closing his claws. "KILL HIM!" he ordered the three girls. Elvira and the others began advancing on Sam. Angela found she couldn't move or speak and knew somehow it was Ares' doing. "SLOWLY...MAKE HIM SUFFER FOR HIS BETRAYAL OF ME...HIS BETRAYAL OF THE BLOOD!"

The three bacchae froze in front of Sam. They all fell to the ground and began kissing his hands and feet.

Ares said conversationally, "That's the problem with favorites. They can really be a pain. I mean you want them because they're talented but then you can't always control them for the same reason. Especially this family."

"KILL HIM!!" Bacchus commanded again, and the bacchae began to make wailing sounds as they cowered around Sam's legs. Sam knelt down and lifted them up protectively.

"They are your loyal servants who I corrupted," Sam said to Bacchus. He looked at them, "Do what he says; it's all right."

They looked at him, then screaming, first Fotena, followed by Elvira and Clea, threw themselves on Bacchus. With an outraged hiss he flung them off and they bounced off of a wall and were still. They seemed to age and crumble as they lay there. He began advancing on Sam himself but Ares stopped him with a hand on his massive red-skinned chest. "Hold it right there. I still need him for Angela. I may be able to work it out somehow, but not without Sam."

Hissing, Bacchus said, "He is my favorite and belongs to me! You have no right to protect him!"

Ares gave him a slight shove and Bacchus stumbled back. "A favorite has to feel like a favorite, at least at some point. Sounds to me like Sam never did. You gave him servants, power, and immortality, but he never asked for any of it and never took your commands. You just made a bad investment." Bacchus leapt at Ares and swung a huge clawed hand at his head. Smiling Ares ducked and buried a fist in the creature's stomach. Bacchus doubled over. "Just like when we were kids," Ares said. "I'm the God of War, Bacchus. You think some pansy wine god can take me?" Bacchus got back to his feet, looking at Ares and Sam with hatred. Then he disappeared in smoke.

"That felt GOOD!" Ares said with relish. He turned back to Angela and Sam. Sam was looking at the wall where the three bacchae had turned to dust.

"I didn't expect that at all," Sam said.

"Didn't surprise me," Ares said. "You've got real charisma; a lot more than Bacchus, that's for sure." He looked at Angela and waved his hand and she found she could move and talk again. She dropped the sword and just grabbed Sam and hugged him. Ares was studying them. "Okay, I'm not gonna give up on Angela, but she won't be as dark as she was. That's as far as I'll go. She'll still go back and save you but the strength has already been awakened in her, so it won't be as death oriented as it was before. She'll forget about meeting you and the rest of this stuff. Say your goodbys now."

"What about my girls?" Sam said.

"Yeah, sure, I'll take care of 'em."

Angela looked at Sam who seemed to have aged 30 years in just a few minutes. She could actually see his hair turning gray and lines appearing in his face. "I don't understand, Sam. Somehow you've saved me, right?"

He just nodded and ran his hand through his thick hair which came away in clumps. He had tears in his cloudy blue eyes. Sam said in an old man's voice, "I love you, better get out of here...I'm not going to be very nice to look at pretty soon."

"It's all right!" Angela said crying.

Sam shook his head and looked at Ares, who came over and put a hand on her shoulder. The two of them disappeared in a bright blaze. The old man was alone in the empty disco now, spots of light from the mirror ball playing over him. Sam's beautiful white silk suit was hanging off of his skeletal frame and he began walking with difficulty over to the wall where Fotena, Clea and Elvira had been thrown. He heard a soft thud and looked down to see his left arm had simply dropped off. It looked like a withered stick with a bird claw on the end. Sam tripped, hitting the wall, his body breaking to pieces and falling into the dust and bone fragments of his girls.

The End