by Joseph Anderson

All characters in this story belong to me, though are derived from Xena: Warrior Princess originally. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story contains graphic violence. It would follow Library Science and Jilly and Angela in my Kimberly/Jilly storyline.

Elsinore Castle, Denmark. 826 A.D.

"Have you seen it, Gunter? Has it appeared again?" The speaker was barely 17 years old; his helmet appeared too big for him. He and his companion were approaching the man on guard in the North Tower of the castle.

"No, it hasn't yet, tonight. Praise Jesus it won't appear!" the man answered, fingering his halbred nervously.

"Amen!" the boy said.

The third man, dressed like a poor scholar rather than a soldier, said, as he indicated the boy, "Reynard told me you witnessed something on last night's watch."

"Aye," Gunter said. "Two nights ago at the stroke of 12 the lad and I saw a phantom! Like a warrior, a female warrior in ancient armor. It appeared again last night. I thought we should tell you, Horatio."

"Why me?" the scholar said.

"You speak often with Prince Samuel," Gunter answered. He paused and added quietly, "It looked rather like the prince."

Horatio was going to answer when the boy cried out. "It comes! It comes!"

"It looks like a woman but a warrior. How can that be?" Reynard said excitedly. "It removes its veiled helmet...see...see!"

"Speak to it, Horatio," Gunter said hoarsely.

"What are you? Speak!" Horatio cried to the specter warrior.

"See, Horatio. Looks it not like the prince?" Reynard said.

"It's gone!" Gunter said.

The soldiers were breathing hard, frightened. Horatio said, "We must tell Prince Samuel about this. I swear this shade will speak to him though not to us."

"Unless it has come to harm the prince!" Reynard said emotionally.

Horatio clapped a hand on his shoulder. "We can only pray it has not, and that we and his lasses may protect him if it has."


The next night the same soldiers waited again on the moonlit tower but they were not alone. Their prince was with them standing a little apart with Horatio. The soldiers would look at him and their hearts fill. The greatest honor any man could have would be to save Good Prince Samuel. If a man died doing that his family would be honored and the prince take them under his personal protection. Gunter and Reynard were also nervous though, not only because of the apparition they awaited but the prince's other protectors. His three lasses were with him, their glowing eyes scanning the sky and their pale skin eerie in the dark. They were naked under their diaphanous robes and barefoot, their nipples hard and erect in the cold. Reynard tried not to look at them because the sight excited him so much. He felt an arm go around his shoulder and looked up to see Prince Samuel smiling at him reassuringly, his teeth white under his mustache and his face framed by his long dark hair.

"It's all right," he said in a low voice. "They're comely. I'd worry if I was your age and didn't feel like that. They won't hurt you. You are mine just as they are."

The prince patted his shoulder and walked back to where he had been standing. He said something quietly to the lasses. The boy blushed as all three glanced at him briefly before returning to scanning the night sky.

Horatio said, "The time approaches."

"There it is, Prince!" the boy cried out, pointing. The lasses began to make growling sounds but stopped at a gesture from Prince Samuel.

"It beckons to you," Horatio said. "But do not go, Prince. It may be a demon here to tempt you to damnation!"

"I will go to it," the prince said.

"You shall not! It is not fitting to obey him in this!" Gunter said. The three lasses made hissing and growling sounds that meant exactly the same thing. The men were holding Prince Samuel now and the lasses were on three sides staring at the specter, ready for anything. The phantom removed its veiled helmet and Sam had a sharp intake of breath.

"Unhand me, gentlemen," the prince said and something in his voice made them all release him and step away, their faces red. In the same voice he said, "Clea, Fo, Elvira, stay here." The three lasses fell to their knees and began making wailing sounds. The poor scholar grabbed the prince's arm again but was shaken off. "Release me, Horatio." The prince looked at his lasses. "Comfort them, good Horatio, if you want to help me."

The apparition had simply been observing them.

"Mom, is that you?" he called in a clear voice. None of his men understood the language he spoke. The phantom beckoned and Prince Samuel followed it into the darkness. The lasses began moaning and the men were praying. Horatio walked over to the lasses and they held onto him protectively as they wished they could with Prince Samuel.


Kimberly waited for Sam to reach her. He was at the center of so much energy, both from gods and his millions of subjects, she couldn't just appear to him. She didn't quite understand why but she had to go through this whole big song and dance. Maybe it had to do with how important he was to her, too.

"Hi Sam," Kimberly said. After a moment of hesitation, she tried to hug him but her arms just went right through him. Suddenly she felt the cold air fill her lungs and stones under her feet. She tentatively reached out again and touched his shoulder. Thanks, Hades, she thought. The tall long-haired man hadn't moved to return the embrace, she realized.

"Are you really my mother? " he said, sounding careful now.

Good question, she thought. "Yeah, Sam, I am. Glad to see me?"

Prince Samuel didn't respond.

"Say something," Kimberly said.

"What do you want?" Sam said. He'd fantasized about what he would say if he ever saw her. First with love as a child, then with hate and resentment later. What did he feel now? So many centuries had passed. He didn't know how he felt.

Kimberly wanted to cry but didn't. She reached out and touched him again. "I don't want anything. I just wanted to see you, baby. I...I'm sorry I left you, Sam. I'm so sorry. That's all I wanted to tell you."

Sam thought his voice sounded like something in him was broken. "They told me you died for a long time. It wasn't till I got to Greece that Jilly finally told me you had just up and left. What is it Jilly always said, 'places to go and people to kill'? I suppose I should feel lucky I didn't wind up in a dumpster somewhere."

"Sam...Sam...I'm crazy sometimes...and I'm a drunk. That's all I can say. Oh baby! I wanted you more than anything and loved you to pieces! Everything was going along fine, and then all of a sudden Janice found my statue and I was all over National Geographic with everybody talking about what a monster I was. How they thought I was a sadist preying on children. How Himmler and Goering admired me. I just..I just...I dunno, Sam. Everything I'd ever done came back to me. If I took a bath I'd imagine the tub was full of blood. I couldn't stay there. I had to go back to Greece and end where I should've ended anyway."

The prince was looking coldly at her. "Why now?"

She looked at her son. Beautiful. He was stunning with his rich medieval clothes, curling mustache and hair down to his waist. Watching him with his people she'd seen how much they loved him and he loved them. She had had that with a handful of people in her life. Sam had it with all of his subjects; most he'd never even see. And he didn't forgive her. He wanted nothing to do with her. Why should he? Her mother hadn't abandoned her. She couldn't even imagine what it felt like probably. Unless it felt like she did now.

She stared at the ground, preparing to leave, then felt an arm go around her shoulder. Looking up she saw him smiling at her just like he had with that horny boy looking at his bacchae. His blue eyes looked into hers and it was like the power supply for the whole eastern seaboard was diverted into them. He was Good Prince Samuel, Defender of the Faith, Incarnation of Budda and Vishnu, Beloved of Allah, Dragon of the Sea and Sky, a thousand other titles and overlord to half the world. He chose to live like a simple king instead of like Tiberius Caesar or Kublai Khan so he could be close to at least some of his subjects. As far as they knew he was just their king. "It's okay, Mom. Can't hold a grudge forever, right? 500 years--maybe," he said. Kimberly found her throat too choked up to talk so she just nodded.

Sam took her by the hand and led her back to his waiting people. They were shaking in fear for him and their relief was evident. The men looked fearfully at her. The three bacchae wanted to rip her to shreds for scaring them like that. Kimberly got a feeling she hadn't had in quite a while looking at the creatures. She'd like to see them try it.

Kimberly looked at the four men. Three soldiers and one who was dressed differently. She sensed something about him and approached him. He didn't retreat though she knew he wanted to. The man was shorter than Sam and her, fair skinned and blonde. Sensitive intelligence shone from his eyes. He was a descendant of Gabrielle.

"This is Horatio," Sam said.

Kimberly held her hand out to shake his hand but he took it and kissed it. He sensed something too, she could tell. She said softly to Sam as they stepped away. "Does he know who he is?"


She nodded. "Bard?"

Sam said, "Scholar."

"How come he's dressed like that? Kinda ragged for the prince's friend isn't he?"

Sam smiled. "He's doesn't want my charity. Maybe I'll tell him about everything eventually. Sometimes I do and other times I don't with my close friends--it's hard to predict how they will react. Christianity made it sticky. My girls don't exactly fit anyone's idea of angels. It's getting harder and harder to explain them away as sent by God."

"Well, they are, aren't they?" Kimberly said with mock innocence.

"Yeah, but not the right one," Sam said.

"Don't let anybody get a look at Bacchus," Kimberly said, imagining the sensual horned god with his orgiastic rites and blood rituals.

"Tell me about it," Sam said with an ironic smile


"So how do you deal with not aging?" Kimberly asked. She was in heaven just sitting around with Sam, talking about this and that. Being with him was the real point for her; what they talked about was secondary.

"I just move to another land every 50 years or so and put out word I died. I don't bother faking aging though maybe I should. Some places I need to be more careful than others. In the Balkans and parts of India I don't put on much of an act at all."

"Sam, I know about Angela. Tell me you're not just alone since you can't have her." She was really worried about that. He was immortal; the idea of him alone for all of it horrified her.

A sad look came in his eyes when she mentioned Angela's name. He shook his head. "No. There's no one now but there have been plenty of others. Wives, lovers, even harems. None of 'em have meant the same to me as Angela though. And having to watch them all age and die...first Angela, then the rest...along with everyone else I know--well, except for my girls. It's not worth it, Mom. I didn't ask for this. Bacchus won't let me kill myself although I can be killed. That's why I've got the bacchae. I tried killing myself a couple of times and he stopped me. I tried to get cute and get myself killed and he just rescued me and laughed in my face." He paused. "That's what you did, I hear. Just rode into a bunch of lancers without any armor. I envy you."

"Oh, baby! Those fucking gods! Bacchus sounds like an even worse asshole than Ares, if that's possible. How about kids?"

"The other gods don't want the immortal favorite of Bacchus reproducing. He explained it to me. He was pretty pissed. Maybe he'd let me die if I could have an heir. That'd be Hera, I guess, making me sterile. It's definitely me. A lot of my consorts and concubines had kids both before and after being with me." He looked ironic. "Some had kids while they were with me."

"Ouch!" Kimberly said. "How'd you handle that?"

Sam shrugged. "Different ways depending on the situation. Some I had executed for treason; others I sent into exile and some I forgave I never killed the kids when they were born though half the time I had to after they were grown. Having 'em claiming to be my heirs and leading uprisings really stunk."

Kimberly came over and hugged him again. She'd been doing that a lot. Sam was probably sick of it but accepted it. He was used to people just wanting to touch him.

There was a knock on his door, and Sam excused himself to talk briefly to an officer. Kimberly got up and went to his window, going out on the balcony. One of the bacchae was waiting out there on guard. Kimberly didn't say anything. She heard some soft sounds behind her and turned just as the other two bacchae landed lightly. They were simply studying her. One was carrying what looked like a wineskin.

She smiled at them. "Hello dears. Know where I can find some dryad bones around here?" she said in Greek. The bacchae hissed at her.

Sam joined them on the balcony, hearing the exchange. Irritated, Sam led her back inside and said, "For God's sake, Mom, they're just worried about me. Don't provoke them. I can't always control them and I don't want to have to scrape you off of the walls."

Kimberly looked disdainfully out at the creatures. They triggered something hard and cold in her. She had been Ares' favorite and they served Bacchus. "Worry about them, not me, Sam. I'm not scared of three bloodsucking bimbos." The bacchae began growling louder out on the balcony. Sam looked at her, then made a hand gesture and his girls became silent, though they continued glaring at Kimberly.

"Don't call them that. And I drink blood myself in case you don't know that."

"Sorry," she said, her face reddening. She didn't know that.

Kimberly cursed herself. What was wrong with her? She could taste how much fun fighting the bacchae would be.

Sam left her and joined the girls out on the balcony. Kimberly saw he took a golden cup with him. They filled it from the wineskin and he began drinking as the bacchae passed the wineskin among themselves, squirting blood into their mouths from it. Kimberly looked away. Who was she to judge Sam?

Kimberly wasn't sure what was going on. There hadn't been any indication from Hades she had to leave. She seemed completely human too. Sam gave her a room. Sleeping was something else she hadn't done in quite a while. Laid out on the bed she had found a long white Lady Macbeth nightgown. It was morning now and she was still lying in bed, enjoying the sensation.

"Hello Kimberly." She rolled off the bed, her sword in her hand instantly from where she had left it next to the bed. The seated figure looking at her didn't seem worried though or threatening. It was a beautiful young woman with dark braided hair and dressed like a medieval noblewoman. She wore two silver brooches, one of a spear and helmet, the other a face with snakes for hair.


The Goddess of Wisdom and War stood. "My brother was lucky to get you as his favorite. He nearly transgressed there, as he later did with Langland. If you had a shred more craft I would have taken you myself."

Kimberly didn't say anything.

The supernaturally beautiful figure continued as she approached the warrior. "This is why you have suffered so much." She walked close to Kimberly and reaching up stroked her cheek. "You are too subtle to simply be his servant. You never felt Ares owned you by right as Jilly and Angela did, and even Xena though she would never admit it to herself. If you had served me, you would have suffered for being too fierce. Even Bacchus would have welcomed you, though he does not seek warriors. You have the dark madness he craves. And of course all along you have served Hades, sending him legions of souls."

Kimberly didn't say anything. Something wasn't right, even though she sensed everything Athena said was true.

"So I have something for you now, great and noble Kimberly. A reward for your service," the goddess said smoothly.

Here it comes, Kimberly thought.

"Two of your son's bacchae were my priestesses before they were stolen by my brother. The other served Artemis and I speak for her now also. Every moment they live as bacchae affronts us, as Ares knew it would when he advised Bacchus to take them." Grey-eyed Athena suddenly had a bag in her hand which she held for Kimberly to take.

"Dryad bones," Kimberly said, without needing to look. That was the only sure way to kill bacchae.

"Your son needs protection, of course, since he is not a warrior and has many enemies. You can provide that, Kimberly. You can stay with him, immortal as he is, and protect him better than the bacchae since you are not restricted to the night." Wide-browed Athena smiled at her, "Merely return Elvira and Clealisthia to me and Fotena to my sister, Artemis. It is the best service you could do them. Would they choose to be bacchae? They were our virgin priestesses. Bacchus defiled them and turned them into animals feeding on blood. Free these poor souls."

Kimberly looked admiringly at Athena. She could imagine how much trouble she gave Ares. To stay with Sam all she had to do was whack his bodyguards, who would be better off dead anyway. Back in Chicago if she was arranging this herself she'd throw some numbers parlors in to sweeten the deal.

"And what exactly is Sam going to say when I kill his girls? They've been with him, what, 1800 years?"

The goddess held her arm out and an owl flew in the window and landed on it. She fed it some meat which materialized in her other hand. "Your son doesn't have to know you killed them. They can simply disappear and I will tell him the gods have placed you with him instead."

"What about Bacchus?" Kimberly asked.

"Leave my brother to me," Pallas Athene answered coldly as she fed a live mouse to the owl, "Sam is his favorite and I am not harming him. Bacchus will not object to losing a few servants when he considers the alternative. My favorites can destroy his temples, kill and persecute the few remaining worshipers he has." The goddess smiled sweetly. "But why talk of this? You relish the challenge of fighting them anyway. Here are the tools you need for that. Then you may remain with the son you abandoned and you will have freed their souls. You have a month to decide." The beautiful figure seemed to break apart into a thousand mirrors which tumbled off in different directions.

Hours later Kimberly was walking on the battlements, thinking. Why not? She was being manipulated but there was nothing new in that.

"Scary, huh?" a deep voice said behind her. Kimberly turned.

"Hello, Ares. You can say that again. Did you actually grow up with her?"

The God of War smiled. "In a way. You can't understand. It's god stuff."

Kimberly nodded.

Ares looked at her knowingly. "You want to take her deal, don't you?"

Kimberly said, "Why shouldn't I?"

"No reason. I'm surprised she didn't kill them long ago--probably some convoluted reasoning I'm too dense to grasp. I just told Bacchus to use 'em to bug Athena and Artemis as payback for some things they'd done to me."

Kimberly was surprised. "So it's okay with you?"

"Sure," Ares said. "It's more than okay. You guard Sam and I'm back in the loop with a favorite on the scene. She won't stiff you. Athena doesn't work that way."

"Not like you."

Ares just smiled.

"I'm not your favorite anymore, Ares," Kimberly said.

The god smirked. "Sure you are. Who else would wanna fight three bacchae? You'll take 'em but it won't be easy. I should be able to get some action down on it if I give Bacchus odds. Who knows? one of 'em might get a lucky bite in too. Plenty of longshots have won fights."

"And what would happen then?" Kimberly asked.

"Nothing much. Really you're dead anyway, no matter how you feel at the moment. You'll just go back to Hades. Knowing him he'll have a bet down on you but he wouldn't take it out on you if he lost. He's a class act; not like me."


Sam was in his throne room reading over a petition. That morning Kimberly, wearing her leathers, sword and veiled helmet had just assumed a place standing to one side of his throne as he conducted business. He had a strange look in his eyes at first but then accepted it.

"If I call you Angela, hit me, okay," he whispered to her. She nodded.

She carefully observed everyone, watching for assassins. She could get used to this. Keeping her little boy safe while he ran the world; both of them doing what they were good at. He spent most of his time ruling the country he was in. He had explained that he got monthly reports of the rest of his lands, allowing his vassals wide latitude. More than he liked, really. She got the sense listening to him deal with some issues that he didn't really have anyone he could send as a troubleshooter. He had unlimited resources and men theoretically, but it was all too cumbersome to bring into action quickly and too much trouble for anything but a major crisis. A provincial governor who recognized that was screwing with him it sounded like; withholding taxes, ignoring Sam's edicts. Sam needed an enforcer.

After a week she said, "Sam."

"Uh huh," he answered, looking at a document.

"Why don't I go and talk to Count-Archbishop Albrecht for you?"

Sam lowered the petition to increase grain tariffs he was reading, and looked at the enimatic chainmail veil. He held a hand up to prevent anyone else from approaching. "You spotted that. I had somebody for that kind of thing but he died in a plague five years ago. There's a kid who shows promise but he's only 13. Okay, Mom, you go talk to Albrecht. Leave tomorrow. Take however many men you want. I'll have a commission drawn up." Sam took a ring off and handed it to her. "You can kill him if you have to and appoint an interim governor. Just use your judgment."

She stared at him. She had had power but she never exercised it with this kind of ease. People like her worked for people like him. Sam paused and added, "Why don't you take the kid with you. He needs the experience. Keep him safe though. See Horatio."

"I don't think I'll need any men. If I do I'll send for them."

Sam shrugged, "Handle it however you want."

He indicated with a hand gesture for the next business to be brought up. Kimberly resumed her position as Sam listened to some complex legal dispute.


"Horatio, I need to talk to you."

The small scholar turned as the warrior approached him. He still half thought she was some sort of demon but would accept her if Prince Samuel did. She removed her helmet.

"What can I do for you, Lady Kimberly?" he asked.

"I'm going to pay a visit to someone who is causing problems for Sam, I mean Prince Samuel. He wants me to take a boy along who is in training for this kind of thing, and said I should talk to you." Seeing him hesitate she held her hand up with Sam's ring. She sensed something in the man, like a flinch he hid.

"Certainly, come with me," was all he said.

He led her through streets that gradually looked seedier and seedier. He came to a small house and led her inside. Kimberly looked around the modest dwelling. There were books everywhere. She knew that Sam must have him watched. He was known to be the prince's friend and would be a target for that reason.

He smiled at her before he remembered he didn't trust her. Horatio called out, "Siegfried."

Kimberly stopped breathing as she saw the boy come into the room.

"This is my nephew, Siegfried. Siegfried, this is Lady Kimberly. Prince Samuel wants you to go with her. She is going to help in your training," Horatio said.

The boy was already taller and heavier than Horatio. He was redhaired and handsome in a classic Nordic way. He nodded seriously at her.

Kimberly said something in a language neither Horatio or Siegfried understood. Then she smiled and said, "Hello Siegfried. I just greeted you in Gaelic. A good friend of mine taught me that a long time ago. A great and loyal warrior just like you are going to be."

"Thank you," he said impassively.

Kimberly smiled. "Let me see your sword," she said. The boy obediently got it for her. She observed him closely, noting the grace he showed in every movement just as she would expect. He handed it to her and she hefted it, looking at it critically. "Not bad, not bad at all." She looked for a shop mark of some kind and found what she expected. She'd had a sword in her collection by this shop, though this was better than hers had been. Probably by the master himself, not his apprentices. She found herself starting to tear up, and handing the sword back said brusquely, "Pack a bag and meet me at the North Gate at dawn tomorrow." She walked out.

Horatio looked after her with a thoughtful expression, and put his arm around his nephew's shoulder.


This was too much. It was all too much. The boy was the reincarnation of Weldon. It couldn't be a coincidence. It had to be part of Athena's plan to make her want to stay. That's why she was giving her a month; so she wouldn't be able to bear leaving. How long had Athena been setting this up? Kimberly wondered. Generations? Something in her rebelled at being manipulated like this. It was worse than Ares. He had never insinuated himself like this, playing on her weakest emotions. He just appealed to her warrior instincts and sense of loyalty, or threw her into the middle of a war to sink or swim without apology. Athena made Kimberly almost feel unclean. The goddess reminded her of Langland.

At the North Gate at dawn she saw the boy waiting for her. He had a horse already of course, a tall gelding like Weldon had ridden. It made her frown. She didn't approve of this boy living his life as a mere cog in Athena's plan to kill the bacchae. He was perfectly suited to be Sam's muscle when he grew up though. If she remained with Sam that would be even better. One of them could always stay with him, replacing the bacchae, while the other was out kicking ass. Perfect.

They'd been riding a few hours when Kimberly called a halt and dismounted, indicating for the boy to do the same.

"Draw your sword, Siegfried. I want to see where you are at. Come at me."

The boy's face was cold and expressionless--like Weldon when she first met him. The Celt had loosened up quite a bit after they became lovers. Siegfried drew the sword and obediently came at her. She could tell he was holding himself back. She guessed he was used to outclassing everyone he practiced with. He was very very good. Kimberly smiled and made a quick movement which sent his sword flying and she caught it. Siegfried looked stunned. She tossed his sword back to him. "Try again. This time really try to kill me. Don't worry. You can't do it."

The boy came at her quickly, their swords flashing. He was excellent. She could have disarmed him again, but not as easily. She didn't want to discourage him though. "All right," she said and stepped back. They both lowered their weapons. She saw a light in his eyes and knew it was in hers too. "Let's eat, Siegfried," Kimberly said with a smile.

After four days they had reached the province ruled by Count-Archbishop Albrecht. Siegfried was familiar with the roads so Kimberly allowed him to choose their path. They had practiced every day and Kimberly saw an improvement already. If she remained with Sam she would teach Siegfried to use her chakram. She had tried cooking the first night and after that the boy just assumed the task. Oh well. The next day soldiers spotted them.

"Be ready," Kimberly said quietly to the boy, who nodded.

There were five horsemen wearing simple chainmail. They stopped a few yards from Kimberly and Siegfried. "State your business and why you are armed," one demanded.

"I am an envoy from Prince Samuel to Count-Archbishop Albrecht," Kimberly said loudly.

"Do you have proof of that?" the soldier asked.

Kimberly knew something was up even though the soldier had been perfectly reasonable. The rest of the men seemed too keyed up, like they were waiting for something; a signal to attack maybe when she was getting the commission out and wouldn't be ready for it. She smiled and held her hand up. "Here is the prince's ring. I will show my written commission to your commander." She could tell they didn't like that. They already knew she was from Prince Samuel.

"All right, follow me," the leader said, in a game attempt to throw her off. Then he and his men drew their swords and attacked.

"Stay back, Siegfried!' Kimberly barked but the boy was already engaging one of the soldiers. She had wounded the leader, knocking him from his horse, and killed one of his men immediately. She glanced over and saw the soldier Siegfried was fighting fall holding his face. Her own sword slipped under the blade of a man, and he fell with a grunt. The remaining soldier rode off. "Let him go" Kimberly said to prevent the boy from pursuing him. He reigned his horse in.

She dismounted and approached the leader. She had merely wounded him in the arm, then hit him in the side of the head with the pommel of her sword. He was groggy. She tossed his weapons away from him and squatted down and began slapping his face. His eyes finally focused on her.

"Why were you sent to kill us?" He didn't answer. Kimberly sighed and her chakram was suddenly at his throat. She drew it across, drawing blood. "You won't be betraying anything."

The man answered, sweating, "I don't know. Our orders were to kill a woman warrior and a boy coming from Prince Samuel.

"Who gave you the orders?"

"My captain."

Kimberly nodded and rose. This was no help. "You better get that arm looked at. Tell your captain I'm coming to see Prince Samuel's servant, the Count-Archbishop, and not to try to stop me if he doesn't want more dead soldiers." She stepped back and watched him unsteadily get to his feet. He got on his horse and rode away.

"Why did you let him and the other live?" the boy asked her now. She looked at him. In the old days she wouldn't have.

"They know we're here already. It doesn't matter," she said in explanation. He nodded. "They were just soldiers doing their job, not bandits, Siegfried. I've killed too many people I didn't need to." The boy listened carefully and without expression. Just like Weldon, she thought.

"More men will come," he said.

Kimberly said ironically, "Sure. I had to say something like that though; it's my role in this. There will be a lot more next time. We'll just avoid them. We can reach Albrecht's capitol tomorrow evening if we push on, right?" Siegfried nodded.

"Are we just going to leave them?" the boy asked. Kimberly looked with surprise at him.

"Siegfried, have you ever killed before?"


He seemed okay, she thought. Well, he ought to; he sure had the spirit for it. "We don't have time to bury them. I want to get out of here before an entire regiment lands on us."

"Can I pray for them?" Siegfried asked. Kimberly nodded.

The boy dismounted and knelt, taking a crucifix from under his shirt and holding it tightly, closing his eyes a moment. Then he and Kimberly rode off, leaving the three dead soldiers to God's mercy.

The large room was warm and dark. The tapestries on the walls showing the rites of Bacchus seemed to absorb the light from the many candles. Dressed in a long purple and red robe, Sam drained the last of the blood, savoring it. The bacchae had finished feeding too, passing the wine skin among themselves. He had been feeling the tension building for a few days and decided to deal with it now. Sam looked at Elvira and she met his gaze defiantly. He glanced over at Clea and Fo and they looked away from him. He set his golden cup down.

"What is it?" he asked simply in Greek. Clea and Fotena made soft painful sounds and disappeared out his window into the night. But Elvira remained. Sam knew that people thought bacchae were all identical, but that was wrong. They were as individual as anyone else. Elvira was stronger than the other two. He bet before she was turned into a bacchae she never took shit off anybody. She didn't now either.

"Elvira, what's the matter?" Sam repeated. The creature's eyes were glowing as she looked at him. They could speak but they usually didn't. It wasn't really natural to them anymore. The three bacchae were telepathic with each other and somewhat with him. Sam couldn't read what was bothering them now though. They had shut him out.

"She hates us. She wants to kill us," she said to him in a low dangerous voice.

The prince sat next to her and put an arm around her shoulder but she pulled away from him. "She doesn't hate you and she wouldn't try to harm you. She is my mother and would not deprive me of my protectors."

Elvira hissed and her eyes glowed even more. "She plans to kill us and take our place. That is why she has come. She abandoned you and we have protected you, but you will let her do as she wishes to us!"

Sam heard a soft sound and knew Fotena and Clea had returned. Sam stood and held his arms out and they came and held him, seeming to nestle in his long hair. Elvira was still just looking angrily at him though. She wasn't that easy. "Elllie," he said softly. She looked away, her pale skin blushing slightly. "Ellie, don't be like that. We've been together too long." The other two bacchae looked at her and Sam knew they were communicating. "If my mother really plans that, I will stop her. I won't betray you. How could I do that to my girls?"

Elvira finally stood and came over to hold onto him too. Sam didn't usually do this but he had to reassure them. He kissed Elvira deeply, then Fo and Clea, and then slid Elvira's diaphanous gown off her shoulders so it fell to the floor. He smiled at her and the other two bacchae, who stepped out of their own garments. All three began undressing him then, their long canines glinting in the candlelight.

"Do you feel anything, Siegfried," Kimberly whispered to the boy.

He thought and said, "It feels wrong. I don't know why?"

She nodded at him and frowned as she looked around. "Neither do I," she said.

They had reached Count-Archbishop Albrecht's city. The woman and boy had avoided the searching troops, but to Siegfried's surprise she left it to him to lead. Siegfried was able to avoid the pursuit while continuing to make good time for their destination. She looked approvingly at him. He worshiped her. She made all of his other teachers look like harlequins. Even the prince's previous champion, whom he was being trained to replace, had been a farmer in comparison with Kimberly. And there was something else; the way she smiled at him and put an arm around his shoulder. The stupid innocent jokes she made. It made him feel warm. He knew she could still disarm him when they practiced. She only wasn't out of Christian kindness. Siegfried prayed for her soul every night as he did for his uncle Horatio, his dead parents, Good Prince Samuel, and of course the men they had killed.

Kimberly had removed her helmet and was wearing a long simple cloak concealing her weapons. Siegfried was dressed similarly. There was nothing about them to draw attention and they simply rode until they saw the gate of the Count-Archbishop's residence. Kimberly looked around, seeing how well protected it was and still feeling something was wrong. The warrior looked at the boy with her. This was really too dangerous. "Take the horses and return home, Siegfried," she said. She hated the look he got on his face. Kimberly hugged him and said. "You've done fine, Siegfried. Prince Samuel told me to keep you safe, and I intend to do just that. Do what I say."

"Yes, Kimberly," he said obediently and remounted his horse and took the reins of her horse. She knew he'd be able to avoid the soldiers easily. The woman watched him till he was out of sight, then just ran to the gate and clambered over it, ignoring the soldiers who yelled at her to stop. She ran up to the large carved double doors, opened them and went inside. She looked around and felt something peculiar. It seemed too modern somehow.

Kimberly ducked down a hallway as guards came through the door. She just grabbed one without the others hearing and hauled him into a shadowy corner with a hand over his mouth and a knife at his side. When the soldiers were well away she said to him. "Where is the Count-Archbishop?" She removed her hand from the man's mouth.

"In his study this time of day usually," he said in a whisper.

"Where is his study?" she said.

"Second floor, third door to the left of the stairs."

She hadn't really expected him to even answer. It felt like a setup. Well, she wanted to find Albrecht so she might as well follow his directions. Probably it was a room full of soldiers but it was a place to start. Conceivably he could just be a coward though.

"Thanks," Kimberly said and broke the man's neck.

She found the room without difficulty, continuing to avoid the soldiers. Kimberly didn't hear the squeaking armor inside she had expected. She quickly opened the door and jumped away from it. Nothing. She approached it and carefully crept inside and felt horror begin to build. Siegfried was on the floor. A robed figure at a desk by the window stood up and smiled at her.

Kimberly's chakram was already flying. She heard a crash like broken glass and the robed figure shattered. Already weakened, she kicked behind her and heard a grunt. Before she could make another move she found herself dizzy and falling to her knees, and knew she had been breathing some sort of poison.

"It's been too long, Kimberly," the long-haired young Count-Archbishop said with a smile as he got up from the floor, holding his stomach.

"Langland!" she whispered with hatred before her paralysis was complete.


Kimberly and Siegfried were tied to chairs in additon to wearing heavy shackles. He had lifted her up into the chair with difficulty, and once Kimberly was thoroughly bound, he repeated the procedure with the boy. Kimberly saw Siegfried wasn't unconscious; he was paralyzed like she was. When they were completely bound and chained the Count-Archbishop reached inside his robes and took out a small vial which he opened and waved under Kimberly's nose. Soon she could speak and control her body again.

"You would think you'd have mellowed a bit in your feelings for me, Kimberly. I mean it has been nearly two thousand years, and I did ask Athena to return Cal to sanity."

"You drove him insane in the first place, you little shit," she said icily. "So what are you? A reincarnation or are you back from Tartarus like me?"

The too-handsome young man said earnestly, "I'm a reincarnation, Kimberly. Feels good to be young again. I got soft there at the end: loving Jilly really cramped my style. That's a weakness I don't have this time around. It certainly was pleasant though. Athena gave me my memories just like Ares did with Jilly."

"You lured me here with that ridiculous defiance of Sam. What about those soldiers who tried to kill me?"

"I had to make it look good. I knew they wouldn't stand a chance of killing you. You let two of them live. You've changed, I must say."

"You haven't you stinking vermin. You sent men to their deaths as a ploy."

He shook his head, smiling. "Not only as a ploy. They were all fools, thieves or incipient traitors. I just thought I'd kill two birds with one stone. The men you spared I had executed as soon as they returned." He looked thoughtfully at Siegfried. "There is something more here but I don't know what."

Kimberly didn't say anything.

"You don't mind if I kill him then? It's nothing personal, Kimberly. I should just take him out now while I still can."

"He's the reincarnation of Weldon. My old lieutenant when I was the Sword of Ares."

"Ah, the Celt. He's even more dangerous than I thought."

"Don't hurt him...please. He's just a child." Kimberly looked at Siegfried's eyes. He could hear everything being said.

The young man looked at her frowning. "Oh, Kimberly. Don't ruin our relationship like that. Some things should remain as they are." Langland picked up Kimberly's chakram.

"Don't Langland," she said to him through gritted teeth.

He shrugged and cut the throat of the helpless child who began making gurgling sounds. He wiped the blade off on Siegfried's shoulder and tossed the metal ring back with her other weapons. He looked at her. "My God, Kimberly, you're actually crying! What would your old friend Callisto say?" Langland said with a soft laugh. "I'll see you later. I have to perform Mass." He locked her weapons in a case and left her alone watching the dying boy she had failed to protect.

Ares was outraged. "What are you doing?"

The beautiful goddess materialized beside him. "My favorite makes his own decisions."

"Don't lie to me, Athena. Even if you didn't instruct him, you foresaw what Langland would do. I thought we were on the same side here."

Athena said coldly, "What you thought is not my concern."

"Fine," Ares said furiously and disappeared in flame.

Athena frowned. She had not told her favorite about Kimberly's presence but his agents must've informed him, perhaps even before Sam had known. Langland's manner of killing Siegfried was distasteful to her although she agreed with the wisdom of it. However, since the boy was part of her enticement of Kimberly, she would have preferred if Langland had waited until the bacchae were slain. She did not wish to interfere with him, though. The goddess enjoyed watching Langland at work too much.

Ares clearly had intended to make Siegfried a favorite. She'd suspected that but did not warn Langland not to harm the boy. Athena thought she could handle Ares. However, her brother was more angry than she had anticipated. Though she could outwit him that was not always enough--not if Ares dispensed with any attempt at subtlety.

"Sister." She turned at the deep resonant voice.

"Hello Bacchus," she said. She felt another presence and turned to see her uncle, Hades. If Athena wasn't a goddess she would have begun to sweat. Other gods began appearing, one after another. Then Ares reappeared smirking at her.


Langland still in his vestments and miter was considering his options with Kimberly. The chains wouldn't hold her but he didn't think she could escape from the room she was in. He knew how maternal she was so he'd struck at her that way. He felt good about killing Siegfried: not only was he a future threat but it had obviously demoralized Kimberly. He was afraid to try and actually kill her--for one thing she wasn't even really alive, so who knew what might happen? and for another too many gods liked her too well. Breaking her will was the next best thing. He'd drug her again and throw her in a dungeon--maybe even with Siegfried's body. Kimberly was an alcoholic. He could keep her supplied with wine in her cell with the dead boy as he rotted. It would be perfect. The only eventuality he couldn't defend against would be the other gods. He had to trust Athena would protect him from their wrath.

"Guess again," a heavily accented voice said behind him, and a huge shadow was suddenly enveloping him. Langland turned and saw a warrior standing between him and the fire. He was the tallest man Langland had ever seen. The Count-Archbishop took in the long red braids and the knot pattern on his ancient breastplate. Langland's mouth was dry.

"Weldon," he said calmly.

The giant man smiled thinly at him under his drooping red mustache. He drew the sword he wore on his back. It took a while, it was so long. "I understand you are a genius," he said in his thick Gaelic accent. Langland had never seen such cold eyes. "Impress me with your wit, genius."

Langland reached into his pocket and sprayed Weldon in the face with what he had used to paralyze Kimberly. The huge Celt just grabbed him by his vestments. "Your coward's toys have no effect on me. The God of War, Bacchus and the Lord of the Dead are with me!" Weldon threw him across the room and Langland crashed into a large gilt crucifix which came down on top of him.

Langland was stunned as he scrambled from under the heavy cross but grabbed a sword which he had hidden behind a tapestry. He heard Weldon chuckle. "I thought the dancing bear I once saw was amazing...but a rodent with a sword: such a wonder I never imagined."

Langland was a fine swordsman but knew Weldon was much much more than merely fine. His mind was racing as he tried to think of an escape route. There was none; not if Athena had abandoned him. It must be about the boy.

The Archbishop carefully watched for an opening he was certain wouldn't be there. The larger man seemed to look at him with equal parts disgust, hatred and amusement. Langland's mind continued its analysis even as he knew he was going to die.

Weldon feinted and Langland jumped back, staying on the balls of his feet and watching the Celt's hands and eyes. The Celt began laughing as if he'd just made the most hilarious joke imaginable.

Langland knew now Ares must've wanted the boy as a favorite. He was also intended to protect the immortal favorite of Bacchus. Hades would dislike the manner of Siegfried's death and had a long relationship with Kimberly and her family. Langland glanced at the heavy cross which had come down on top of him. It might not even only be the Greek pantheon. Athena couldn't protect him from them all so had abandoned him and cut her losses. Langland would do the same.

He jumped at Weldon with a quick thrust on the slight chance the warrior couldn't maneuver the long broadsword quickly. Langland gasped in pain, dropped the blade and stared at his bloody hand.

"Pick your weapon back up, genius," the Celt said. "We aren't done yet. Not for a long while." Langland looked at his hand and at the tip of the long blade, which had his skin still on it.

"Don't...please," he said.

Weldon smiled thinly again. "Isn't that what Kimberly said to you before you slit a child's throat? I'll think about it, genius."

Langland picked his sword up intending to fall on it. Before he could the weapon was knocked away. The broadsword flashed again and this time Langland moaned as he saw the exposed muscles of his entire right arm. He stumbled away from the expressionless Celt. Langland found a dagger he had hidden but it was kicked from his hand before he could cut his own throat with it.

"Come now, genius, I'm just a stupid soldier. You can outwit me, surely."

The bloody Count-Archbishop tried to swallow a poison pill he carried, but before his hand could reach his mouth a huge boot came down, crushing the hand and the pill with it. Langland was breathing raggedly, trying not to scream.


Sitting in her chair Kimberly had been listening to the muffled screams for hours. She had escaped from her bonds soon after Langland left but then just sat there continuing to watch Siegfried. She kept looking at his blood-soaked shirt front and the pool of blood on the floor, the pale handsome features of the boy and his staring eyes. Kimberly wished she had something to drink. She considered the cries again. Logically she supposed it was another of Langland's victims but something in the voice made her think it might not be. Her mind kept returning to Siegfried though. The screams finally stopped. After some more time passed she heard the door open behind her. Kimberly shook off her malaise and was instantly up ready to fight.


The tall Celt nodded at her and was looking at the murdered child sadly.

Kimberly understood everything. "You paid a visit to Langland just now. Sounded good. I wish I could've helped."

"I feel unclean even killing the offal. You did not miss anything," the tall warrior said.

"Yeah, well, I like being unclean sometimes. What about his soldiers?" As she spoke she had gone to the cabinet which contained her weapons. She caught Weldon's eyes and he struck off the lock.

"The gods caused a sleep to fall over them so I could deal with the vermin undisturbed."

Kimberly nodded as she retrieved her weapons. Then she turned and looked at the Celt, her face red. "I failed you again, Weldon. I led you to your death again."

"No Kimberly. You couldn't have prepared for Athena and Langland."

She shook her head and wiped her eyes. "I was supposed to keep him safe and instead he's dead." She squared her shoulders. "Well, I need to appoint a provincial governor now that you've completed my job here. Can you stay and help?"

Weldon didn't say anything but shook his head and faded away. Kimberly walked over to the dead boy and freed him from the chains and ropes. She ran her fingers through his thick red hair. It was a little lighter than Weldon's she noticed now. The baby she had had with Weldon had died when he was six months old. She'd already begun to think of Siegfried like that. Kimberly just stood there for a while, her hand in his hair, looking at the dead child.

Sam received word that the Count-Archbishop was dead and a new governor appointed. He knew something was wrong though when Kimberly was reported seen without Siegfried. "Send for Horatio," he said to a soldier quietly.

When she came into his throne room Sam held a hand up and said, "The business for today is ended. Leave us."

Kimberly stood by the door until everyone had left, then closed it and slowly approached Sam as she removed her helmet.

"What happened?" Sam asked levelly.

"It was Langland."

Prince Samuel was speechless for a moment. "Langland?"

"Count-Archbishop Albrecht was Langland reincarnated--with his memories. Maybe he assumed the real Albrecht's identity or maybe that's who he really was. It was a trap to lure your new troubleshooter. It just happened to be me. I don't know if Siegfried was always part of the plan; knowing Langland he probably was. Anyway he killed him to stop him from ever causing trouble."


Kimberly sounded dead as she spoke. "My guess is he was going to try to take everything eventually. Not just this...all your kingdoms. Langland never thought small. You said your previous champion died in a plague five years ago?"

Sam nodded.

"Well, it wouldn't surprise me if Langland created it."

"A quarter of my kingdom perished. Siegfried's parents died in it."

"Like I said, it wouldn't surprise me. I did some vigorous questioning and quite a few people he had problems with took sick and died in that plague. Anyway, he definitely had agents throughout your European kingdoms at least. Don't take it personally, Sam. He also infiltrated all major ruling houses and the church. He might've had his eye on being pope instead of your throne. Maybe both. He'd have to destroy you either way."

"He wouldn't be able to hold more than a fraction of it for long. It would fall apart. People aren't like Swiss bank accounts and arms deals. My kingdoms are built on loyalty. Me to them and them to me. So is the church."

"Yeah, well, that's his blind spot. You're who you are because of what people see in you. You don't have to prove anything." Kimberly paused before continuing and then seemed to be talking to herself. "Langland wanted to show what he could do. It's booze or smack or something. You want to see how many smart dangerous people you can outwit like children, making them jump through hoops...or how many cities you can take and how many great armies you can destroy."

Sam studied her, after a moment saying, "We aren't just talking about Langland here, are we?"

Kimberly stared at the floor. "No...we aren't."

"Langland helped raise me.. He helped me with my homework; ran interference for me with Jilly. Why would he do this?" Sam said, his voice full of pain.

Kimberly looked at him and saw Sam was upset about this in a way that hadn't even occurred to her. Jilly always said there was another side to Langland but Kimberly never saw him as anything but what she had just seen again. She realized he had been there for Sam when she hadn't. "He wasn't the same person, Sam. Jilly made him, I dunno, human somehow. He didn't have her this time around."

Sam was silent. Finally he said, "Count-Archbishop Albrecht was appointed five years ago. Langland did all that in five years?"

"He was only 20, Sam."


The staff nearly caught her but Kimberly moved at the last moment. She'd considered letting it connect then decided that would be patronizing. Kimberly looked at the red faced man, his poor scholar's clothes providing no protection at all.

"Horatio..." she began to say.

He swung at her again.

"Please, Horatio..." then he swung once more and she took the staff away from him and tossed it aside.

Horatio made a frustrated sound and drew a cheap knife and charged her. Kimberly stepped aside and caught him, holding him around the waist with one arm and the hand with the knife in the other.

"DEMON!" the blonde man finally cried out. "FILTHY HARLOT FROM HELL! YOU KILLED SIEGFRIED!!"

She took the knife from his hand and stuck it in her belt. "You'll get no argument from me about that, Horatio." She held the man, Gabrielle's descendant and like her in many ways. Sam had talked to her about Horatio. If he had succeeded in killing her Horatio would be eaten up by guilt. If she didn't know that she'd have allowed him to kill her. She wasn't really alive anyway. The only course she saw was to continue holding him like this until he calmed down. She looked at his face. That could take a while.


Kimberly was sitting in her room in the dark looking at her helmet and next to it a bottle of wine which she hadn't touched yet. She heard soft sounds and craned her neck around.

"Hello dears."

The bacchae assumed positions on three sides of her and waited. Kimberly sighed and stood up. "Got it all figured out, eh?"

Elvira nodded at her.

"Everybody underestimates you, don't they?"

Elvira didn't respond. She wasn't interested in flattery.

"I'll bet Sam would've been okay whether I showed up or not. Sooner or later Langland would've tried to kill him and then you'd have gone after Langland and spread him from here to Sicily, right?"

Again the bacchae made no response.

Kimberly picked the wine bottle up and took a long swallow, then smiled at the three beautiful deadly creatures. She opened a cabinet and took a bag out and heard growls and hisses begin. Kimberly turned back and just held the bag out to them.

"Here, take it. Do whatever you want with 'em."

All three creatures were baring their teeth, ready to attack. Kimberly just continued holding the bag out. Finally, Clealisthiaealisthia grabbed it and disappeared out the window. Fotena and Elvira continued watching Kimberly. She shrugged and took another long drink from the wine bottle.

"I wouldn't deprive my son of his protectors. Not when they do a better job than I could do."

Fotena and Elvira flew out the window without a word. Kimberly walked over to it and looked out at the crescent moon. She took another long swallow of wine.

"Hades," she said loudly into the night. "Hades, I think I've done enough damage here." She felt herself begin to disappear so took another swig while she had the chance.

As expected Kimberly found herself standing in front of Hades. The dark jagged mountains of Tartarus were visible out the great doors. The deceptively young appearing god was seated in his throne and looked up from a scroll.

"You have some kind of luck, Kimberly," he said.

"Yeah, yeah. Thanks for letting me see Sam, Hades. And....for avenging Siegfried," Kimberly said quietly.

Hades said, "You're welcome. About Siegfried; it wasn't just me. Athena went too far. My niece thinks she can always just scheme her way out of anything. The way mortals all think she is so kind and call her 'sweet Athena' just slays me. Ares had big plans for the boy. She was obviously setting up Sam too so Bacchus stepped in."

Kimberly whistled. "Three of you against one. Pretty unheard of, isn't it?"

"No, but Athena's never been on the receiving end before. Aphrodite wanted a piece of her too. She had plans for Siegfried herself. The boy was also destined to be a marry a descendant of the Amazon, Ephiny."

Kimberly rolled her eyes, "Artemis."

Hades nodded and said, "There's more. We have domain over those who began in our time but there's overlap. You saw how pious Siegfried was."

Kimberly stared at him. "Jesu..." but stopped as Hades seemed uncomfortable and held a hand up.

He looked around nervously a moment then continued. "Maybe this will teach Athena a lesson though I doubt it. She has so much arrogance about her intellect she's probably working on something to recoup already."

"Hello Kimberly," a voice said behind her.

She slowly turned, trying to control the rage building in her; this obviously wasn't the place. Then she couldn't believe her eyes. It was Langland as expected but Siegfried was with him.. Langland appeared about 30 now, a rough midpoint from his age of death in his two lives.

"What's this?" she said, not being able to take her eyes off Siegfried. He looked just like before: the same impassive expression but she could see the emotion in his eyes.

Hades said, "Where else would they be but with me? Try to calm down about Langland, Kimberly. You told Sam yourself he had another side that Jilly brought out in him. Athena made sure he wouldn't have that in his new incarnation. She wanted him the way you saw him."

"What about now?" she said grimly. She couldn't look at Langland without wanting to carve into him. She'd felt that way about him even before what he'd done to Siegfried.

Langland spoke easily. "My different incarnations are integrated in me. I loved your daughter, Kimberly...and I did my best for your son." He glanced over at the boy. "Siegfried forgives me. It's the Christian thing to do," he added ironically.

"Uh huh," she said noncommitally. Then she finally broke. "Siegfried!" Kimberly said emotionally, and pushing Langland aside grabbed the boy. He squeezed her back so hard the breath was knocked out of her. Then a thought hit her. "What about Weldon?" she said looking back at the god.

"He wanted to let the boy reunite with you. So he's gone." Hades said simply.


"Well not gone, exactly. He's Siegfried now. The boy will never have his memories though. He wanted it that way."

"He can come back someday though, can't he?" Kimberly said in a choked voice.

The god looked at her and shook his head. "No. From now on he will be Siegfried in any future incarnations. Don't worry about it. He's there in a way. It's a kind of fresh start."

She looked in Siegfried's face. He looked strickened. "I'm sorry you're friend is gone, Kimberly!"

"Oh, Siegfried!" Kimberly said, and kissed him and held him even tighter. "Weldon knew what he was doing. I was just surprised! All right? All right?" The boy nodded.

Hades said, "What I can say for my niece is that bringing you together as a team was a good idea even if she only did it to entice you to kill the bacchae. For the time being, I'm sending both of you to Greece as mortals so Siegfried can keep growing. I want you to continue his training. We need someone for special jobs just like Sam did."

She looked at the boy and back at the god. They were giving her something wonderful. She didn't let it go to her head though. Hades and whoever else was behind this were probably doing it to twist the knife in Athena more than to help her.

Hades smiled. "Cynical, Kimberly, you're so cynical. You don't want it?"

She said,"I want it."

Hades said, "Good. I've got an assignment for you waiting. Helms will give you the details." The demon came bounding up and looked ingratiatingly up at Kimberly. The Lord of the Underworld continued, "Oh, Siegfried, go see your uncle first. He's considering suicide and it's not his time." The god waved his hand and they disappeared. Hades looked at Langland. "Want your old job back with me?"

"Sure," Langland shrugged.

The End