|Kal Weber | Maui (manaiakalani) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-06-21 13:59:00
|Entry tags:||ares, maui|
Anything you can do, I can do better
Who: Ares and Maui
What: Two gods, after hearing a ton of praise about one another, finally meet
When: You know.
Maui didn’t like the idea that he was simply repeating memories as the coyote had implied. Granted, he loved his ocean, his beaches, his mountains, but there was the unsettling idea that none of this was real. Plus, he had a front seat view in his own dreams of the going ons of the mortal Kahale. Granted, the mortal was a laugh and his world was unique and interesting, but Maui was disappointed that he couldn’t be a part of it and was often left feeling left out and rather bored.
So, he focused on widening his horizons and, specifically, finding this Ares fellow that Kahale’s friend had mentioned. The other deity who sounded so much like him in personality, for better or for worse, and it was with pleasure that upon one of Maui’s wakenings, he discovered he was on a beach with nearby cliffs that went straight up toward the sky. It was an ocean-like area, warm, but not quite the land he called home.
Turning on his bare feet, his toes in the sand, he took in the new surrounding and smiled with the glint of the sun flashing in his eyes. As his eyes adjusted to the glare, a figure came into view: broad-shouldered and bronze-skinned, with a wiry black beard and precious little else to cover his flesh. The figure was running, and fast closing the distance between them.
In a moment the man had reached him; he stopped, sandaled feet kicking up a fine spray of white sand as he did. "And who are you?" he asked, scarcely out of breath. Though the question was pointed, his expression was welcoming, down to the sharp lines of his smile.
Maui looked at the man curiously, taking in his entire form and lack of clothing without any appearance of distaste. He didn’t have a lot of clothing on either, unless the leaf skirt about his waist and the detailed tattoos that covered his skin counted as clothes. Slowly, Maui began to grin at the man before him. Something about the spark in the other man’s eye indicated that this interaction would be entertaining. “Maui,” he replied with a slow laugh. “Someone new to this land. Who are you?”
"Ares." The runner stood up to his full height; it was no match to Maui, but impressive, all the same. "Welcome to Greece, stranger. This, and Mount Olympus, are my home." He pointed behind them, to where a great mountain climbed up into the sky. Its summit was lost in clouds, enveloped in a slowly gathering storm. "Strange garb," he said, gesturing to the verdant skirt. "Where do you hail from?"
Maui raised an eyebrow and looked down at his skirt before looking back at the man. “The islands and the ocean combined. Certainly not from nearby though; I believe I’ve accidentally traveled from one place to another.” His eyes narrowed as he looked at the man curiously. Something about him sparked a memory that he couldn’t quite grasp, something that was obviously tied to the mortal whose eyes he could watch through. “I feel I’ve heard your name before, but it came through a dream.”
"A dream," Ares repeated. A pleased grin broke bright upon his face. "How interesting. Do you often dream of war, Maui? Built as you are, I would be surprised if it were otherwise." His face seemed to say he already knew the answer to this; he moved forward, and kept speaking, his curiosity getting the better of what few manners he possessed. "Do you travel often? Have you seen a great lake and waterfall, or the Coyote to whom they belong?"
Maui shook his head but a slow smile was appearing and a glint in his eye. The wheels of his mind were already turning and he liked what he was considering. “I haven’t traveled from my home but Coyote did come to me. He pointed out that the dreams I had, of men from a different time, weren’t quite dreams.
“In these dreams, I see a man similar to me with a booming voice--Kahale--and he is friends to a man who has mentioned your name.” He crossed his arms over his broad chest and looked Ares over.
"Has he, now," Ares said. Whatever disappointment he may have felt at not learning the location of the waterfall soon dissipated. His pleased grin stretched wide over his dusky face. "Kahale. That is quite a name. And these dreams that are not dreams… what does Coyote say they are, then? And are you inclined to believe him?"
“He says that we are dreaming now and that our lives are shared with the men we dream of. I don’t want to believe him, it seems obscene, but what isn’t?” Maui smirked and crossed his arms over his chest. “At least, in my world, we’re able to do what we put our minds to. We have strength and power. So who am I to assume we can’t be sharing the world with others.”
Ares folded his arms over his chest and made a small, dismissive sound. "I don't know how I feel about this," he said. "I feel real enough. But I suppose as long as that remains true, I don't mind sharing this space with others. For now. What do you say we test the limits of this supposed dream, then? A little competition to see which of us can more deftly use this realm." His arms stretched out once more; he cracked his knuckles, loud as a gunshot.
Maui’s smile grew wider, his eyes flashing fire. He’d give a show that not only Ares would remember, but the mortals who dreamt these dreams. “That sounds like an excellent idea, Ares. Since you’re my host, you go first.”
"Naturally," Ares agreed. He raised his hand and a long spear appeared in his grip. He tapped the butt of it against the ground, kicking up dust where its weight hit the earth. "A spear throw, to start. Call your shot and take it. Whoever throws the truest and farthest is the winner."
He turned, looking about for a target to shoot. He looked up into the sky, squinting against the sun. "There," he said, pointing at a hawk. It wheeled high above them, peering down into the ocean in search of prey. He drew back, his back foot sinking into the sand, and let fly; the spear struck home, and the hawk tumbled to the beach. Ares trotted out to retrieve the dead bird, and brought it back proudly displaying the wound directly through its heart.
"Beat that," he said, and handed the spear to Maui. Maui accepted the spear and made a slight grimace with his face as he turned on foot on the sandy beach and looked to the sky.
He had battle hooks that he’d throw at threats who moved along the ground, ripping into their flesh and ensuring safety, but when it came to the moving targets of the sky he wasn’t quite as lucky. Still, he wasn’t about to forfeit and before long he was pulling his hand back as he eyed a bird nearly equally far away as the hawk was.
As soon as he threw the spear, Maui knew it wouldn’t hit the bird. He could feel it in the throw and see the way it arched. Still, he kept his eyes on the spear until it artfully reached its highest point before speeding downward. When it hit the sand, Maui faced Ares. “I call the next one,” he announced and pointed at Ares and completely ignoring the spear in the sand a number of yards away. “A show of strength. Pull something, your choice.”
Ares clapped his hands, giddy as a child. "Strength, is it? Very well." The spear disappeared, sent back to whatever hidden place from which it had been summoned. Ares walked past where the spear had been, searching the beach for something that would suit their needs. Finding nothing, Ares strode into the waters, moving deeper until he found a monstrous stone. He leaned down, his dark head disappearing beneath the waves, rising several minutes later with a boulder the size of a small island in his hands. The strain of his effort showed on his face, but he slowly he brought the stone to shore, and set it down before his opponent.
"I suppose I hefted rather than pulled," he said, clearly pleased with himself all the same. "I hope that will suffice."
Maui smiled and gave a nod. “It’ll suffice,” he acknowledged, unhooking manaiakalani from his belt and pulling forth an obscenely long length of rope that seemed to keep growing. He winked at Ares as he got his footing and began to spin the hook over his head. “It’s still a show of strength, no? Let’s see if I can match it.”
He let the hook go and it went flying high into the sky, disappearing in the brightness of the sun, but eventually the rope stopped pulling and with a mighty tug, manaiakalani seemed secure… somewhere. “I beg your patience.”
Ares blinked. He raised a hand to shield his eyes from the sun. But though he gazed upward for quite some time, he could not discern where the great hook had landed. Patience was not a virtue Ares possessed in any great quantity, but this seemed a feat worth waiting for. At length he sat down on the beach, his gaze darting between the heavens and his guest.
Maui smiled again and tightened his grip on the rope before giving it a long pull. It wasn’t clearly noticeable at first, not until Maui pulled the rope more, and it could easily be a trick of the eyes. The sun was a mighty brightness so how could one know if sight was accurate and yet, surely, there it was. The sun began to move closer to the earth, one pull of the rope at a time, brightening the land even more and raising the temperature slowly. “How’s this for strength?” Maui yelled as he pulled at the sun again and again.
Ares laughed, equal parts surprised and pleased. He rose from the sand, waving his arms wildly above his head. "Enough," he called, "enough. Before you burn us all to a crisp." He moved close beside Maui, swatting playfully at one muscular arm. "I suppose I'll grant you that one, then. A tiebreaker appears to be in order."
He moved inland, beckoning for his guest to follow. White sand gave way to green grass. In the distance, a team of four horses grazed idly, a golden chariot pulled along behind them as they went. Ares whistled for the team, and as one they raised their blood-red heads.
"So. Are you game for a chariot race?"
Maui took in a deep breath and pulled manaiakalani free from the sun, whipping the rope short again and hooking manaiakalani to his hip. He turned to Ares, following him out of the sand and onto the grass as he looked over the horses. “A chariot?” Maui didn’t want to admit he never saw a chariot before nor the animals that stood before him. They weren’t known in his islands at the very least. He paused beside Ares, eyeing the creatures with distrust.
Ares saw his advantage at once. He laughed aloud, clapping his companion on the back. "A chariot," he echoed. "A race once around the island. I'll even loan you a team." He released Maui's shoulder and moved to the golden car, mounting up on the platform behind the four monstrous stallions. A second team trotted up onto the grass: four black horses, and a silver chariot behind. Ares gripped the reins of his own, grinning over at Maui as he raised them. "Careful with them," he teased. "They only answer to a firm hand."
And then he was off, a snap of the reins and the thunder of hoofbeats the only remnants of his passing.
Maui cursed under his breath and clambered onto the other chariot. He grabbed the reins, holding them tight, and imitated what Ares had done. He nearly fell off the chariot when it bolted forward but slowly got his footing. Still, he was far behind Ares who was laying forth the path they were expected to follow. Grinding his teeth and furrowing his brow, Maui snapped the reins and urged the horses to speed up.
They gained some ground, but it was not enough. Dust and broken earth flew up behind the war god's chariot; stones bounced directly into Maui's path, clattering under his team's hooves. Ares rounded each turn with a slow deliberation plainly meant to mock his competition. As they tore into the final long stretch, Ares went so far as to turn completely around, the reins resting untouched atop the lip of the chariot.
"Hurry, Maui," he shouted, laughing raucously. He waved to the other god, cheerful thanks to his assured victory. "Any slower and the victory party will be done before you get there."
Frowning heavily, Maui pushed the horses forward, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to catch up...or could he. His frown twisted and turned into a smile as he slowed his chariot to a stop hards away from Ares. “Too slow?” He called out jovially as he stepped off the chariot and felt the grassy ground under his bare feet. “I think you should worry about the victory party,” he announced, lifting one foot up and slamming it down onto the ground, shaking the very earth and rippling his own gifts forward to gather stone beneath Ares and thrust upward and to the sky, taking the other god with it.
Maui watched as Ares and his horses were catapulted off into the ocean, and thought that the god looked somewhat like a falling star. When Ares plopped into the ocean, deep enough that the water helped the fall of Ares and the horses but not so far out that they couldn’t return to the land, Maui stepped back onto the chariot and led it across the finishing line at a leisurely trot, laughing all the while.