"Come on you guys," Hercules said, trying to keep a straight face, "if we don't get to the Academy before curfew Chiron will give us KP duty for a week!"
Iolaus looked at his best friend and tried to stop laughing. He was sort of successful, but when Jason started up again with another joke, he started laughing again. Hercules took one look at them and just rolled his eyes, and grinned. That grin turned into a frown when he felt a drop of rain hit his nose. Iolaus and Jason must have felt a drop as well, because they too had stopped laughing. None of the boys had realized how dark the sky had just become.
"What the!?" Jason said as he looked up at the sky that was clear just moments before.
"Oh, man!" Exclaimed Iolaus as the rain started to fall faster. "Just what we needed!"
"Over here!" Hercules called. Jason and Iolaus ran into the cave in which Hercules had found, and was now standing in. They got there just in time: the rain was now coming down in sheets. It was raining so hard that the cadets could barely see ten feet outside of the entrance of their cave.
"So," Iolaus started, "where do you think this storm came from? The sky was perfectly clear this morning!"
"I don't know," stated Hercules. "I just hope it isn't one of my relatives getting mad at another one of my relatives." Iolaus nodded in agreement.
"I don't care who sent it, or why. I just hope the storm is over soon," Jason said, "because we're still about half a day's walk from the Academy."
"Well, there's not much we can do about it, alright, so why don't we just sit down and wait it out?" With those words Hercules sat down and leaned his back against the cave wall. Iolaus did the same, and soon, so did Jason. It wasn't long before Jason and Iolaus began trading bad jokes again. It was almost a relief to Hercules when about an hour later the storm let up enough for the three of them to resume their trek back to the Academy. Herc didn't think he could have handled another round of 'what do they really put in the Academy food?'. They had barely started walking again when Ares popped up on the path in front of them.
"Hello, Little Brother." Ares said. Immediately all three cadets were on guard.
"Ares. What do you want?" Hercules asked, and prepared to fight.
"As much as it pains me to say this, I didn't come to ruin your life." Hercules gave Ares his best "Yeah, right, uh huh" look. "I came to ask for your help."
"Why do you need my help?"
Ares sighed. "One of my priests stole a vial of hind's blood from my temple. Zeus told me that if I didn't get it back, he'd lock me in Tartarus, since I really wasn't supposed to have hind's blood in the first place."
"Sounds like your priests are really loyal to you." Iolaus retorted. Ares glared at him, and Iolaus looked scared, if only for a moment. Ares re-composed himself and turned back to face Hercules.
"What does this have to do with us, Ares?" Inquired Jason.
"Hind's blood can kill a god, Jason. Ares can't go after it himself because it might kill him. That's why he needs us. Isn't that right, Ares?"
Ares grumbled out something that sounded like a "yes".
Satisfied that he had at least partially humiliated Ares, but still distrustful, Hercules asked "Why should we help you, Ares?"
Ares sensed his brother's wariness to trust him. "Because Zeus, would be extremely thankful." Ares let his voice linger a bit on his father's name.
Iolaus rolled his eyes. 'I hate it when they mention the "z" word'! he thought to himself. "Hercules, we don't have to do this!" He told his friend.
"You heard him, Iolaus, Zeus would be grateful." Hercules replied.
Iolaus sighed. Mention Zeus, and there was no stopping Hercules. Iolaus suspected that Ares was up to something, but also knew that Herc didn't really care about that right now.
Carefully, Hercules agreed. "Alright, Ares, I'll help you, but you owe me." Ares nodded his head in resigned agreement.
"My priest was last seen traveling towards your precious Academy. You'd better hurry if you want to intercept him." With those words Ares left in a burst of light.
Hercules turned to his friends. "Why do the gods always take things out on the Academy? We'd better see if we can get there before the priest." Hercules turned to go, but Jason held him back.
"Hercules, we can't just go rushing off like this!"
"But Ares said..."
"Hercules, none of the cadets, save you, are the sons of any of the gods. Besides, Cheiron can handle any trouble that comes up."
"That's all well and good, Jase, but..." Iolaus started.
"But nothing, Iolaus. Hercules is the only one in danger here, and he's with us. Besides, why would Ares tell us about this, unless he wanted us to do something rash?"
"Alright, Jase, but can we still hurry back? I'm starving!"
"Even for Academy food?" Hercules asked surprised.
"Well, if we hurry we might be able to eat at Kora's before we have to be back."
"Now I understand you, Iolaus." Teased Jason, although he did have to admit that Kora's food sound pretty good right now. "Let's go, but be on the lookout for Ares and his goons." With those words the cadets took off at a brisk, yet watchful, pace back to the Academy.
Our heroes hadn't gotten very far before they were ambushed by a group of men led by a man wearing an amulet with the sign of Ares upon it.
"Well, it looks as though we have found our thieving priest, and Ares' thugs." Jason said and blocked a kick that was thrown his way by one of the thugs accompanying the priest. The cadets fought bravely. Iolaus finished off two thugs easily, and muttered "Must be new." before he turned his attentions to the two that were attacking Jason. Hercules was facing the priest. Armed with a sword, Hercules realized the man had a slight advantage. Hercules picked up a near-by stick and used it as a staff. Hercules managed to beat the man, but not before the man gave him a small cut on his upper arm. Hercules managed to get in more than just a few good whacks himself.
Seeing that he couldn't win, the man called for a retreat. "Retreat! We've accomplished what Ares sent us out to do!" It didn't take too long for the men to clear out.
"Yeah, and don't come back!" Iolaus called out after them. "We sure took care of them, huh Herc?" When Hercules didn't respond Iolaus turned towards him. "Herc?"
Hercules was standing a few feet away with a puzzled look on his face.
"What's up Herc?"
"I recognize that priest's voice, but I can't place it." He shook his head. "Well, I'm sure it'll come to me."
Jason walked up to the duo. "What' up, guys?" Spotting the cut on Hercules' arm he asked "What happened?"
Hercules looked at the small cut. "Oh, it's nothing. I was fighting the priest, and he pulled a sword. It's not very deep."
"Well, why don't we get back to the Academy then. Cheiron should have a look at it." Hercules nodded. The cut was starting to burn, but he didn't want his friends to know that. It was probably only due to the salt in the sweat covering his arms. Besides, the cut really wasn't that deep, and it should heal pretty fast.
The cadets started back along the path. "Sorry, Iolaus." said Hercules.
"I don't think we'll have time to stop and eat at Kora's if we want to get back before curfew..."
"You did what!?" Ares exploded at his priest. "You let the cadets escape?! I slowed them down enough for a sloth to have time to ambush them, they still manage to escape?!" Ares was just about to fry him when the man blurted out a reply.
"Don't worry Ares," the priest soothed the god, "I cut Hercules with the sword with the hind's blood on it. It wasn't a very deep cut, so he won't be on his guard, but it should be deep enough to get the job done."
"Well, then, why don't you follow him, just to make sure? If the Hind's blood doesn't do the job he should be weak enough to finish off pretty easily." The priest turned to leave. "Oh, and Lucius," Ares called out to the departing priest, "give me the sword. I wouldn't want you getting any ideas about killing me, or any of the other gods." Lucius approached Ares with the sword.
"Unh, unh, unh." Ares scolded Lucius. "Leave the sword on the altar. We wouldn't want you to accidentally trip and run me through, would we?"
Lucius placed the sword on Ares' altar and exited the temple.
Strife appeared after Lucius had left. "Brilliant plan, unc! By having that other half-mortal son of Zeus kill Hercules you stay completely out of things."
"Yes, and Zeus will let me kill Lucius because he killed his precious Hercules!" Ares' laugh echoed through the halls of his temple and out into the forest beyond.
The cadets made it back to the Academy in record time. Cheiron welcomed them as they came though the gates.
"Welcome back! How was your break?"
"It was great, Cheiron." replied Hercules.
"All except for the part that I spent with Ophistus studying protocol." muttered Jason under his breath.
"What was that Jason?" Inquired Cheiron.
"Oh, nothing. I'm just glad to be back, that's all." Cheiron gave Jason a look, but let his comment and quick cover slide. He then noticed a cut on Hercules' arm.
"What happened to your arm, Hercules?"
"Oh, it's nothing. We had some trouble with bandits, and I just got on the sharp end of a sword, that's all."
The centaur came up to the blond cadet and took a look at the cut. "Well, it doesn't look too deep. I'll take a better look at your arm after dinner Hercules." At the word dinner, Iolaus perked up. "Yes, you boys made it back just in time for the evening meal. Speaking of which, I'd better go and see how things are going in the dining hall. Come and see me about your arm after you've finished eating." Cheiron waited for Hercules to nod at the teacher's suggestion, and then the centaur turned and went into the dining hall.
"Ugh! Academy food!" Iolaus said in disgust after Cheiron was out of earshot.
Hercules and Jason smiled at Iolaus' words and the three of them started back to the dorms. They were about halfway there when Hercules suddenly felt dizzy. He shut his eyes to stop the world from spinning, but to no avail.
"Hey, Iolaus, Jason, I feel kinda weird." Hercules said, turning to his friends. Not a second later he felt his world grow fuzzy and turn black.
Iolaus just barely caught his friend as Hercules sagged towards the ground. Iolaus gently lowered Hercules to the ground. "Hercules?!" Iolaus exclaimed to his fallen friend. Hercules eyes were closed and his body was limp. Iolaus felt for a pulse, and was relieved to find one. It was weak, but present.
"Iolaus, what happened?" asked Jason. The older cadet had been a little ways ahead of his friends when he heard Hercules' words and turned around just in time to see Iolaus catch the demi-god.
"I don't know, Jase. Hercules said he felt funny and collapsed."
"Well, we need to find out what's wrong with him. Go and get Cheiron, and meet me in the infirmary.
Iolaus nodded and rushed off to the dining hall to find the centaur. Jason abandoned his pack, picked up Hercules up in a fireman's carry, and carefully took his friend to the infirmary.
"Cheiron, what's wrong with Hercules?" Jason asked when the centaur came out from the infirmary.
Cheiron sighed. "I'm not completely sure, but it looks as though he was poisoned."
"Poisoned?" exclaimed Iolaus, now very worried about his friend. "How?"
"I'm not sure, but I think it has something to do with the cut on his arm." Cheiron paused for a second. "How did you boys get into a fight anyway?"
"We were on our way back to the Academy when we ran into a couple of thugs guarding one of Ares' priests. Ares had told us that one of his priests had stolen a vial of hind's blood and..."
Iolaus interrupted Jason. "That son of a Bacchae lied to us! He knew that the hind's blood could hurt Hercules. I'll bet the blood wasn't stolen, either. The priest said something about accomplishing Ares' mission just before he ran off! Ares probably planned the whole thing! He probably told us that the priest was heading for the Academy just to make sure we wouldn't go the wrong way and miss his goons!"
"Whoa! Hang on, Iolaus. Ares can't hurt Hercules--he's under Zeus' protection."
"Yeah, but Zeus' protection doesn't apply to mortals. Ares could have had one of his mortal thugs kill Hercules, and then he could kill his thug in mock rage. Zeus would never know that Ares had planned the whole thing."
"There's only one problem with your plan, Iolaus. Hercules is half mortal. Hind's blood shouldn't affect him."
"Yes, but don't forget that Hercules is also half-god." Cheiron stated. "I don't think the Hind's blood will kill him, but it is going to make him sick for a little while. It's a good thing that he is half mortal, or else he probably would be dead."
"Is there anything we can do?"
"Not anything that I know of." Cheiron sighed. "After some rest he should feel better."
"Can I go and see him?" Iolaus asked. Cheiron almost said no, as Hercules needed his rest, but one look at the pleading look in Iolaus' eyes and he gave in.
"Yes, but don't stay too long. Hercules needs to rest if he's going to get better." Iolaus nodded his gratitude. The former thief slowly opened the door to the infirmary and he and Jason entered and stood near their friend. Hercules stirred in his sleep.
"Herc?" Iolaus asked quietly.
Hercules opened his eyes. "Iolaus, what happened?" He asked weakly.
"You fainted. You're in the infirmary. Cheiron thinks you've been poisoned with Hind's blood."
"Yeah. We think it was on the Priest's sword." Added Jason.
"The priest!" Hercules suddenly exclaimed and tried to sit up. He immediately regretted it, and lay back down.
"Herc! Take it easy." Iolaus and Jason each put a hand on Hercules' shoulder to keep preventing him from getting up again. "What about the priest?" asked Iolaus.
"The priest was Lucius!"
"Lucius?" Exclaimed both cadets, startled.
"Yeah." Hercules groaned. "He's probably still on his quest to kill all of Zeus' mortal children." He tried again to get up, but was prevented by his friends.
"What do you think you're doing?" asked Cheiron as he entered the room. He had heard some noise and had come in to investigate. "You need to rest, Hercules."
"The priest that attacked me. It was Lucius. I need to stop him from doing what ever it is that he wants to do." Hercules put his hand against his throbbing arm to find that it was bandaged.
"You're not going anywhere, Hercules, at least for a few days."
"Hercules, you were poisoned. You are in no shape to get up, let alone fight someone. If Lucius is as you say, then he will probably come to you. Right now, though, you need to rest." Hercules wanted to protest, but he really didn't have the strength to. Sighing in resignation he nodded his head. He closed his eyes, and within moments he was asleep again. Cheiron ushered the other two cadets out of the room and closed the door behind them.
"Cheiron, if it was Lucius, someone should be guarding Hercules, at least for tonight. Like you said, Lucius will probably be back when he finds out that Hercules isn't dead."
Cheiron nodded in agreement with Iolaus' logic. "I agree. From what you've told me, we can't afford to underestimate Lucius."
"I'll take first watch." offered Iolaus. No one argued, because no one wanted to go up against Iolaus when he was determined to do something. Jason nodded and headed back to the dorms.
"Would you like me to send some food over for you and Hercules?" asked Cheiron. He knew the blond cadet must be starving by now, as he had missed dinner.
"Yeah. I'll see if I can get Herc to eat something when he wakes up."
"Good. I'll see to it then." With a swish of his tail Cheiron was gone. Iolaus quietly re-entered the infirmary and sat down in a chair to watch over his friend.
Nothing eventful happened on Iolaus' watch. Cheiron brought food, and Hercules was able to eat a little before falling asleep again. Jason came in a few hours later to relieve Iolaus. Not much happened, until just before Iolaus' shift. Jason was beginning to think that Hercules was wrong about Lucius when he heard a sound coming from the hallway. He went out to see what was wrong, but when he got out there, he didn't find anything except a cat. Jason shooed the cat away, and was going back into the infirmary when someone grabbed him from behind.
"So," the voice whispered into his ear, "we meet again."
"Lucius! I should have known!" Jason struggled to get free from Lucius' hold, but to no avail.
"Don't even think about calling for help. I could kill both you and Hercules before anyone got here."
"Why do you keep trying to kill Hercules?" asked Jason, stalling for time. Iolaus should be here any minute.
"Because I'm supposed to rule Olympus with Zeus, not Hercules!"
"What makes you think that Zeus will want a murderer ruling at his side?" 'Damn it, Iolaus, where are you?' thought Jason. As if on cue the door opened to reveal the curly-haired cadet.
"Okay, Jase, I'm here to relieve..." Iolaus caught sight of Lucius and stopped in mid-sentence.
"Iolaus, how nice of you to join us!" Iolaus started to go towards Jason and Lucius. "Don't even think about it, shorty!" Lucius reached down to get the dagger in the sheath attached to his belt. Taking advantage of the situation, Jason ducked under the arm holding him and pushed Lucius away from himself and Hercules. Iolaus saw what Jason was doing and quickly put himself beside Jason.
"Give it up, Lucius! We're not going to let you hurt Hercules!"
"Oh I'm not here to hurt him," retorted Lucius, "I'm here to kill him!" Lucius launched himself at Jason and Iolaus hoping to get through them. The cadets were ready for him, and managed to stop him. They could not, however, keep a hold of him. He slid easily out of their grasp and managed a "This is not over!" before disappearing back into the halls of the Academy. Jason went off in pursuit of the demi-god, and Iolaus started after them, but was stopped by a voice coming from behind him.
"Let him go, Iolaus." Hercules said from the bed.
"What!?" exploded Iolaus, turning back to face his friend. "And let that maniac free to come after you again? I don't think so!"
"Don't worry about it, Iolaus, he's gone." Jason informed his friends, re-entering the room.
Cheiron chose that moment to come in. "What's going on here? Why aren't you resting, Hercules?"
"Lucius was just here, Cheiron." Iolaus informed the centaur. "He tried to kill Hercules, but we stopped him. Jason went after him, but he still managed to escape."
"That's alright. I'm just glad that you managed to stop him without getting hurt yourselves. How are you feeling, Hercules?"
"Better." Was all he had to say.
"Good. At this rate you should be back to your old self in a few days." Cheiron noticed the exhausted look on Hercules' face. "I don't think Lucius is going to try to kill you twice in one morning, but I don't want to take any chances. Jason, Iolaus, why don't you help Hercules back into the dorms? He'll probably sleep better there anyway, and it isn't so remote. If Lucius comes back it will be harder for him to get to Hercules, and easier for you to watch over him."
"I don't need a baby-sitter!" stated Hercules, but as soon as he said it he knew he couldn't change Cheiron's mind. Besides, he was too tired to try. He sat up, and managed to stand with Iolaus' help. He didn't feel dizzy anymore, but he was too weak to walk on his own.
"I'll be in the training area, if you need me."
"Thanks, Cheiron." he said to the centaur's retreating form. Supported between Iolaus and Jason, Hercules managed to get to his bunk before falling back to sleep.
"Herc?" A voice floated in through Hercules' head. He couldn't quite place it, and he was going to ignore it, but it asked again, this time a little more persistent. "Herc? Buddy? Are you awake?"
Hercules realized that he recognized the voice. "Iolaus?" he asked, yawning.
"Yeah. How are you feeling?"
"A little tired, but other than that I feel fine." Hercules still felt a little tired, but not too bad. His arm didn't hurt as much either.
Iolaus offered Hercules some bread and soup. Trust Iolaus to remember food. "Hungry?" he asked.
"Thanks." The demi-god said and slowly sat up. Hercules took the food from his friend's hands. He really was quite hungry. "Where's Jason?"
"He had a meeting this morning with mister 'etiquette'." Iolaus took a bite of bread. "He didn't want to go, but Cheiron and Ophistus insisted."
"Oh." For a few minutes the cadets sat eating in silence. Finishing his dinner, Hercules looked up at his friend. "How long have I been sleeping?"
"Three days." Iolaus finished his dinner. He took Hercules' empty bowl and placed it on the tray with his own. "I was beginning to think you weren't ever gonna wake up."
Hercules was going to say something to break the tension, but he was saved when Cheiron entered the dorm room.
"Hercules. I see you are awake. How are you feeling?"
"I feel fine, Cheiron." Hercules attempted to get up, but thought better of it when he saw the look on Cheiron's face. The Centaur came up in front of the demi-god and unwrapped the bandage on Hercules' arm.
"Well, it seems to be healing nicely." He put his hand on Hercules' head. "No sign of a fever. Do you feel weak in any way?"
"No. I feel a little tired, but that's about it."
Cheiron pondered the cadet's words for a moment. "Well, you seem to be okay, so if you want to get out for a while, I give you my permission. I still don't want you participating in drill practice, but a little walk would probably do you some good. Just come back here if you start to get dizzy or anything."
"Thanks, Cheiron." Hercules said and carefully got off his bunk. He didn't feel dizzy. "Come on, Iolaus. Let's go for a walk." Iolaus looked at Cheiron and, seeing that the centaur really wasn't going to stop Hercules from leaving, joined his friend.
Cheiron watched the two friends leave. He was still worried about Hercules, but since the cadet was feeling better, and since he would be hard pressed to keep him in bed until he was completely better, it was probably better to let him go off with Iolaus. They were both good cadets, and he knew that if anything happed that Iolaus and Hercules could handle it. Shaking his head, Cheiron picked up the abandoned soup tray and took it to the kitchen.
"Wait up, Herc!"
Hercules was quickly walking towards the gates of the Academy.
Not getting a response, Iolaus tried a different approach. "Hey, Herc? Where are you going?"
"Back to the place where Lucius attacked us." The young cadet replied without turning around or slowing down.
"Herc, its half-a-day's walk from here, and besides, what do you expect to find?"
Hercules stopped and turned around to face Iolaus. "Clues, Iolaus. Clues. Lucius always leaves clues behind as to what he's up to. It's like a game to him. I need to find out what he's going to do so that I can stop him." Hercules turned around again to continue on the trail. By now Iolaus had caught up to him. The two boys walked in silence for several minutes, with Hercules tripping every little while. Finally Iolaus couldn't take it any longer. He reached up and grabbed Hercules' shoulder, making the demi-god face him.
"Herc, I know you want to stop Lucius, but you need rest. You're still a little weak, and that's what Lucius is counting on. You won't stand a chance against him unless you're all well." Iolaus sighed. "Let's go back to the Academy..." he held up a hand so Hercules wouldn't interrupt him, "and Lilith and I will go take a look around." Iolaus took a moment to gage his friend's reaction before continuing. "Besides, Cheiron said a 'little' walk. If we go any farther than the bagball field Cheiron will send a search party for us, and I, for one, do not want to be on the receiving end of the lecture that is sure to follow."
Hercules was secretly grateful for such good friends, and smiled at Iolaus' attempt at humor. He didn't think he could make it to the attack site and back before collapsing anyway. It was enough of a challenge just trying to stay on his feet. "Alright. As long as you take Lilith with you." He couldn't help giving Iolaus at least a little hard time.
Iolaus had the grace not to look hurt. He was glad that his friend was well enough to make jokes. "Okay. Can we start back now? The sooner we get back and ask Cheiron's permission, the sooner Lilith and I can head out."
Hercules just shook his head. He was definitely lucky to have such a great friend.
As it turned out, Cheiron eagerly gave his permission for Iolaus and Lilith to return to the clearing to look for any clues that Lucius had left. But, they had to wait until morning. Jason grudgingly agreed to stay behind in case Lucius returned, but no one really expected the other demi-god to return for a while. As soon as the sun had shone its first rays upon the Academy Iolaus and Lilith were gone. They traveled most of the way in silence, as neither one of them really had anything to say. The silence was broken when Iolaus announced that they had arrived.
"Okay, what exactly happened?" Lilith asked Iolaus.
"Well, we were walking back to the Academy, and Lucius and the others came out of the trees over there." Iolaus responded, pointing to a thick group of trees to the North. "We got separated for a while. I fought over there, by those bushes, and then walked over here to help Jason. Hercules and Lucius moved around quite a bit, and Hercules was walking back from the stream when Ares' thugs retreated."
"Let's just hope that anything that he might have left didn't wash away!" Lilith said as she jogged over to the stream bed. After searching for a few minutes Iolaus suddenly exclaimed "I think I found something!" He held up a scroll sealed with Ares' symbol.
"Do you think we should open it?" Lilith asked.
Iolaus looked thoughtful. "No, we'd better bring it back to Cheiron. Let's see if we can find anything else." The two searched for a few more minutes without finding anything else. They took a small break for lunch, and then headed back to the Academy.
"Do you know what this means? This proves that Ares and Lucius are working together." Jason said putting down the now opened scroll. Iolaus and Lilith, upon reaching the Academy, had given the scroll to Cheiron. The centaur had Hercules and Jason meet him in his office, and together they opened the scroll, with Jason reading its contents aloud to the group.
"Could my day get any worse?" Asked Hercules. Lilith gave him a sympathetic smile.
"Well," Lilith said optimistically, "Ares can't attack you directly, and we've beaten Lucius before--we can do it again. Besides, you've got us. We won't let you down!" Jason and Iolaus both nodded and voiced their agreement with Lilith's statement.
Hercules smiled at his friends' loyalty and bravery. 'Okay, it could definitely be worse', he thought to himself.
"So, what do we do?" Asked Jason.
Cheiron smiled. "I have a plan. It will be challenging, but I believe we can do it." The head master turned to Iolaus. "Iolaus, do you remember that sword we used in the play last semester?" Iolaus smiled and nodded. "Good. Here's what we need to do..."
Things at the Academy slowly got back to normal. The cadets returned to their classes and their drills, and soon most of the cadets forgot about the Lucius incident. That was exactly how Lucius wanted it to be. From his vantage point on a hill not far from the Academy he could see that the time to finish off his little brother once and for all would come soon. All he had to do was wait for the right moment. Lucius' watch was interrupted, for the umpteenth time in the past week, by a flash that signaled the entrance of Ares.
"So, why haven't you killed off our little brother yet?" Inquired the god of war.
"I told you, I'm waiting for things to calm down a little. The only way I'm going to get Hercules is to surprise him. Let him think that I've forgotten about him and then POW! In for the kill."
"Lucius, Lucius, Lucius. Don't you think Hercules is smarter than that?"
"Yes, but that's what I want him to think. If he thinks that I think that he thinks he's smart, then he'll think that he's ready for anything I can throw at him. The only problem with his little plan is that I'm not going to throw anything at him, I'm going to try for his friends. When they come after me I'll come after them, which will then cause Hercules to come after me, and then I can kill him."
Ares didn't want to admit that he couldn't follow Lucius' ramblings, so he just agreed with him. "Fine, whatever, just make sure you kill him this time." Ares was having second thoughts about using Lucius to accomplish his goals. 'Well, if he fails, I can always kill him. It's not like dear old Dad has a protection order on him.' Smiling to himself, Ares transported himself back to his temple to wait for Lucius to make his move.
As it turned out, neither Ares nor Lucius had long to wait. Later that day Lucius spotted Jason leaving the Academy with the scroll he had planted at the ambush site in his hand. 'At last we get results.' smirked Lucius as he made his way down the hill to meet Corinth's Crown Prince. Jason didn't appear to hear him as Lucius silently ran down the hill and came up behind Jason.
"Well, Jason, isn't this a surprise." Jason jumped at Lucius' words and quickly spun around. "What brings you out here at this time of the day?" Lucius asked while making a sweeping gesture towards the setting sun.
"I know you're after Hercules, Lucius, so I came to find you and stop you!" With those words Jason quickly took out his sword and lunged at Lucius. Lucius quickly drew his own sword and side-stepped Jason's advance, and tripped the young monarch-to-be before he could attack again. Lucius raised his sword to kill Jason when he was knocked to the ground by Iolaus, who had snuck up behind the demi-god. Throwing off the blond cadet, Lucius again raised his sword in an attempt to kill Jason. His sword was knocked out of his hand by a fast-flying rock
"I wouldn't do that if I were you." Warned Hercules.
Lucius lowered his hand, now sans sword 'Great.' Thought Lucius. 'Just in time for the party' "Hello, little brother." Lucius said turning to Hercules and smiling. "What brings you out here on this lovely evening?"
"I thought Jason and Iolaus might try to confront you, so I followed them out here." Hercules walked up to Iolaus, giving the ex-thief a hand up. Jason was already up, and was slowly walking towards Lucius. Hercules and Iolaus followed suit. Growing tired of getting "snuck up on", and of being trapped with very few options, Lucius kicked out and nailed Jason in the stomach, grabbing the princes' sword in the process. The young prince doubled over, and before anyone could react, he hit Jason over the head, reached out, and grabbed Iolaus in a choke-hold. Jason crumbled to the ground, dazed, and when Hercules ran to assist his friend, Lucius held the sword up to Iolaus' throat, causing a groan to escape Iolaus' lips. Hercules stopped in his tracks.
"Lucius! Let him go!"
"No, I don't think so Little Brother. You see, Ares asked me to do a little favor for him, and I don't want to let him down. Ares and I are more a like than you'd realize. We're both sons of Zeus who are under-appreciated, and we both hate you. Only thing is, I can kill you and he can't."
"And what is he giving you in return, Lucius? Money, Power? Or maybe even a godship of your own. What makes you think he'll keep his word? I bet he'll kill you just as soon as you've killed me."
"You're exactly right Hercules, but it doesn't really matter, since I was going to kill you anyway. Besides, he can't touch me. You didn't really think you were the only one under Zeus' protection, did you Hercules?" Lucius paused for a moment. "Enough talk! It's time to finish you and your little friends." Before Hercules could react, Lucius had spun Iolaus around and jabbed the sword into the blond cadet's stomach. Only the sword didn't go into Iolaus' stomach as planned. It retracted into its hilt. Surprised, Lucius didn't react when Jason came up behind him and grabbed his arms. Jason was quickly joined by Hercules, rendering Lucius immobile and unable to escape.
"But, I don't get it!" Lucius exclaimed.
Iolaus bent down and picked up the sword. Repeatedly stabbing himself in the chest he looked up at Lucius. "Trick sword." He simply stated.
"Come on, Lucius. Time to go see the magistrate." Hercules said as he and Jason led Lucius towards Corinth.
Lucius' trial was very short. Lucius readily admitted everything. The magistrate couldn't help but give him a nice long sentence after the way the son of Zeus kept going on about how next time he would succeed in killing Hercules during the hearing. The capture and conviction were almost too easy in Hercules' mind, but he didn't have to voice his thoughts to his friends. He knew that they felt the same way.
The trip back to Cheiron's Academy was uneventful for our heroes. Hercules, Iolaus, and Lilith were sitting in the Academy's workout room waiting for Jason to get out of his latest meeting with Ophistus. The four were planning to go to Kora's to celebrate, and were just wasting time waiting for Jason.
"You should have been there, Lilith! The look on Lucius' face was priceless!"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah! I would have been if someone hadn't decided that there had to be a lookout to watch for Ares."
"But Lilith, you had a very important job. If something had happened to us it was your job to get Cheiron and bring the other cadets to help." Lilith knew Iolaus was only trying to help, and he did have a point, but that didn't mean she felt happy about it.
Hercules decided to stop the argument before it went any farther. They had discussed it before, and he didn't want Lilith and Iolaus to start it up again. "At least we can rest easier now that Lucius is in jail." Iolaus and Lilith nodded. Hercules looked up Jason walked in. Hercules was make a crack about Jason's latest session with Ophistus, but the remark died on his tongue when he noticed the look on the young prince's face. "What's wrong Jason?" Hercules asked.
"Uh, Herc? The magistrate's messenger just came by. Lucius escaped. The guards are out looking for him, but knowing Lucius..."
"He's long gone." Hercules sighed. "Well, there's nothing we can do about it now, I suppose, just wait for him to come back."
"And so there's no use worrying about him." Iolaus piped in. He gave his two friends a sly look. "How about I, Iolaus, race you guys over to Kora's for dinner? Last one there is a satyr's back end!" Without waiting for a response Iolaus took off.
Jason, Lilith, and Hercules all had to laugh. "That's Iolaus for ya! Always thinking with his stomach." Jason exclaimed as he ran after Iolaus. Lilith quickly followed.
Hercules shook his head. Everything was back to normal...or what passed for normal in his life. He rolled his eyes and took off after his racing friends.
Big hugs to Anne and Katie for letting me obsess a little (hey, you did it too), and for all of their support. You gals are the best roommates a girl could ask for! Big hugs to Anne for reading this over and helping find and correct my little mistakes. You're the best! I'd also like to thank my old roommate, Tara, for putting up with my love of Hercules and allowing me to watch it, even when we should be studying (and sleeping).