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The following is an episode of the Young Hercules Fan Fiction Seasons, a non-profit virtual season project; written for fans by fans this is done to help keep the legacy of the short-lived television series Young Hercules alive on the Internet. The overall direction of the story that takes place in this virtual season may not be exactly what took place if an actual televised season had been produced.
(Battalion of soldiers attacks band of tribal-like savages)
(Hercules and Jason walk down a path)
(Jason hefts a sword above his head)
Jason: "The horde...they will kill us all."
A HEROS LIFE WILL CHANGE FOREVER
(Hercules lifts up a heavy rocks and throws it)
Hercules: "I can't live with myself"
(Savages charge at Hercules, holding a sword)
AND THE HONOR OF A KING WILL BE TESTED
Soldier: "No mercy!"
Jason, with determination: "Let's kill them all."
(Jason ruthlessly fights off a few savages)
(Tall Savage prepare to slash a knife across Jason's neck)
ON THE NEXT YOUNG HERCULES!
Screams of anguish echoed throughout a damp and misty river valley. Rows of soldiers, wearing Athenian Uniform, were impaled alongside the river; weapons scattered on the ground; some still stained with fresh blood.
In the distance, Hercules' and Jason's voices could be heard chuckling.
" . . .that's why the Minotaur couldn't assist Midas' daughter." Hercules joked.
The demigod and Jason shared a moment of cheerful laughter.
"Maybe our little visit helped straighten the greedy miser up," stated Hercules.
"Did you hear that?" Jason curiously asked, quickly changing the tone of his voice to a serious one.
Hercules listened carefully to the rustle of the wind.
"The sound of agony," noted Hercules. The demigod ran off the path and into the forest. Jason followed his friend. The two stopped in their tracks upon reaching the river, disturbed by the sight of the impaled bodies.
Hercules crinkled his nose at the horrid stench.
"Innocent men impaled like dolls...if I find the bastard that did this to them! It's not human." Jason shouted, slamming his fist into a tree stump.
This sudden raged shocked the demigod. He had never seen Jason this angry.
"Jase...you know, soldiers die in every battle." noted Hercules, trying to offer some consoling to his friend. "Remember when Ares took over Corinth..."
Jason shook Hercules quite stiffly. "Just look at the axes! These dead men were Athenian infantry. The killers were the Horde!"
Gasping for breath, Hercules brushed Jason away from him.
"The Horde?" asked the confused demigod. "Who are they?"
Jason frowned, pulling one of the barbaric axes' stuck in some soldiers back.
"These are savages, not soldiers. They kill anyone on their lands, impale those they see fit to make a point, and then go on a bloody rampage. Not even the gods are this hateful or violent. These beasts even scalp on occasion. Not a sight I want to witness or be part of."
Hercules asked, "Where are they from?"
The demigod sternly told his friend, "This land belongs to your Kingdom. You can order them away!"
"That's just the problem...they live where they see fit. Doubtfully they will go straight into Corinth but the road from Midasis is to Corinth, hunting land and a short road for travelers, will be unpassable. These bloodthirsty savages have it under there control." answered Jason, leaning against the tree and still investigating the ax.
Hercules sighed, "Just what are we going to do about this?"
Jason handed Hercules a sword.
"You will need this. Only a sword can help you this time."
"I've never killed another human being. Using only a sword causes anger to win. Cheiron always said that using a sword as well as you mind was the key but only using a sword leads to you becoming everything you dislike."
Jason did not appear to be paying attention to his friends words. His attention was elsewhere at the moment.
"These are just a few men and they are still fresh kills. More soldiers have to be nearby. We'll get those men to safety and finish this war, once and for all! That's an order."
Back on the road to Corinth, Hercules and Jason met up with a large battalion of Athenian Infantry. The soldiers looked hopeless.
What appeared to be the general firmly clasped Jason's hand.
"The mighty King of Corinth. It's an honor to stand beside you." bellowed the man.
"May I ask your name?"
"It's Archin, General Archin. My men are trying to deal with this Horde problem. We hope to send these bloody sons of war back to wherever they came from. No Horde will live in Greece and murder its people. Together we stand a chance."
The demigod nudged Jason.
"Oh, this is Hercules." abruptly mentioned Jason.
The General looked impressed. "You are Zeus' son? The priestess at Hera's temple will often curse your name. Don't worry though. That witch does not please me. I prefer the god inside me, my heart, to decide my fate and future."
Hercules confidently smiled. "I like this guy already!"
The general broke his serious composure to chuckle for a second.
"The same of you. With you two on our side, nobody against us stands a chance at victory," spoke Archin, patting Jason and Hercules across the back.
Jason turned around to get a good glimpse at the troops. He spoke to the troops in an uplifting tone. "The Horde...WE ARE GOING TO KILL THEM ALL!"
The Athenians proudly began to chant Jason's name, Archin being the loudest. The King of Corinth began to rally along with them. Hercules, maybe not too surprisingly, didn't react with much of a smile. Was a vast bloodshed anything to celebrate?
John Noble as General Archin
Kevin Smith as Ares
Based on "Young Hercules"
Created by Renaissance Pictures
Tern O'Brien & Medea
Edited by Tern O'Brien
"What?" Jason asked, in a harsh tone of voice.
Hercules sighed, "Are you sure we are doing the right thing? Maybe we should take the longer road and get more men."
"No way. We are heading out now. If it bothers you so much to go with us then head back to Midasis. At least you will be safe."
The demigod sighed, "Its okay. I'm with you."
"Let's go to war!" declared Hercules,
"That's the spirit," Archin declared, slapping the demigod across the back with his mighty hand.
The troops marched back onto the path. Two soldiers marched side by side. Jason and Archin were leading.
Hercules was last to head out. The demigod quietly asked himself in a concerned tone, "Do I know that Jason knows what he's doing?"
"Why wouldn't he?" the grubby soldier marching beside Hercules asked.
"This is the first time Jason has faced more then a large band of common bandits. These are savages, with an extreme bloodlust and no moral code. I'm concerned, as a friend."
"That's a typical growing boy talking about war. See, in war we don't pay attention to anything but victory and what we must do to obtain it. Jason will be made a legend when he slits the throat and impales that bastard leader."
"Quite determined just for a fellow number of soldiers being killed? Not that that's a bad thing."
"Try a brother who was impaled and left for dead. If I find that Hordemaster, I'll slit him open myself."
Hercules sighed, "Let's hope it doesn't come down to that battle, the one fought out of pure revenge."
"Let's hope it does." grunted the soldier. "I want a souvenir to hang on my mantle. A true soldier never comes home empty-handed."
The grubby soldier and Hercules continued too chat with each other. Jason was too busy marching at the head of the army to converse with his friend. Hercules would make occasionally glance up at the King of Corinth. Jason didn't seem to notice. If he did, he ignored it.
"Your friend is becoming a man," bellowed the soldier. "I think you know that much so what does concern you."
"This whole Horde thing. They are savages who kill without mercy. No better then the gods. We can kill the Horde."
"Of course, so don't be glum. Feast upon this change to do something for the world."
"Do what? Kill more...destroy more...murder someone!"
"We aren't doing anything wrong with making the world a better place. Killing the horde is justice. Besides, anyone who attempts to speak to the horde is killed."
"You cannot provoke a soldier with a sword if you want to speak peace..."
"These aren't soldiers."
"What are they?"
"Savages, barbarians, and animals. I can sell their scalps for a good price. Many men would love to show their lovers a horde scalp. Women are fond of those who slaughter a murdering savage."
"I believe you...really do."
"Yeah, you're being so right. Really, why are you concerned about your friend? He's a King. He can fend for himself."
"It's not his position I'm worried about...it's what it leads him to do, or could."
"Kill out of anger, revenge, and hate?"
"That's exactly it. A fierce intention to do good can catch someone off guard. Jason needs to prove himself as King, so he will do whatever if given enough incentive."
"Would you rather have them raid Corinth? Maybe Athens? Maybe Themes? Maybe all of Greece would suit you?"
Hercules grasped the grubby soldier by his neck. The demigod slowly lifted him off the ground.
The soldier was stunned by the demigod strength.
"I want to stop the Horde as much as you. I want to make sure Corinth is safe. I don't want to see my friend, a hero of mine, get his soul damned by the bloodthirst it will require to survive once it enjoys the sourness of blood. War can lead the most heroic men to their darkest sides. I don't want too see Jason take that turn. You're general isn't helping Jason become a better man...he's hurting him."
The demigod slowly, but not with care, let the grubby soldier down.
Hercules walked faster, hoping to catch up with the other soldiers.
"What makes you think Jason will react in the way you fear he will?" asked the soldier, crossing his arms and wearing a confidant smug look on his face.
The demigod softly replied, "Personal experiences in this area."
"He isn't you, is he?"
"We are not ourselves in battle. That's part of the problem. We become monsters. It's our job to make sure we stay human."
"Jason will stay human. Have confidence in your friend or has he becoming King changed things?"
"He is still a good friend. We have gone through much together, just as we will now, and whenever else we encounter something together."
"However, you still fear he will become a monster..."
"I fear it but it won't happen because we won't let it."
"We? You mean yourself. I'm a soldier. I listen to General Archin, not a pissant cadet from Cheiron's Academy."
"I never said you. Jason and I. I won't let him become a monster. He won't let himself become a monster."
"I suppose you would rather make peace with the horde if possible. Wouldn't you?" asked the soldier, changing the subject.
"Peace in anything is good. Sometimes the greatest friends can be made when peace comes to a conflict. Cheiron never told us about the Horde but he did say that even savages have a code of honor. If we can find it and put it to use, maybe just maybe we can end this without more blood spilled, or at least with some men standing."
The soldier slapped Hercules across the back, laughing. "Those last few words make you a soldier in training."
"Thanks..." Hercules sighed, not impressed one bit by the man's warrior mentality.
The battalion took a brief break. Most of them went to a small pond to get water. Others laid down for a few moments. Hercules and the grubby soldier sat, casually exchanging jokes.
Archin and Jason headed forward, searching for the fortress that was said to be half way between Midasis and Corinth.
The general enjoyed retelling the story of his battle against Tyrus of Crete, a war in which he killed over two hundred soldiers guarding the castle walls. Jason nodded his head when asked his thoughts about a particular strategy. He felt slightly embarrassed but was not very interested in the Generals story. To avoid possible conflict, Jason played along.
Archin grinned. "This is your chance to finally outdo your friend."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Jason replied, lowering his brow at the General.
Archin bellowed, "Hercules is the son of Zeus, a powerful boy. People admire his power and strength. You're a King, yet you are seen as nothing compared to Hercules. The people in Athens begin to tell many stories about Hercules yet Jason, a few years older and a great King, has only a story about the fleece, Hercules' idea. Defeating the Horde...it will make you great. Your name will be made a legend. You will finally get a chance to step out of his shadow. Zeus will want to make you his son when he sees the victory you achieve. Hercules might be able too crack a savage in half but you can drive them away with their heads lining your castle walls."
"You got it all wrong! Hercules doesn't use his strength to get attention. He does what he does to help people, from tyrants like you. As for Zeus, well, Hercules never even met his father. I have nothing to prove with this war. I have to protect Corinth, that's all, not prove myself to you, Zeus, or anybody else. I won't become a bloodthirsty savage like the Horde or you."
"Bloodthirsty savage? You have it all wrong. I am a soldier protecting all of Greece. You must foresee this battle as a chance to prove yourself to everyone. Believe me, people will see you and think of taxes. They will see Hercules and think of the job you hold."
"We better head back."
"However, just remember what I told you. This is your big chance to prove yourself. Fail and you will become a disgrace. Win and everyone will keep their distance when thinking of attacking Corinth."
Jason looked Archin straight in the eyes. "I think you're more concerned with me outdoing my friend. Why?"
"It's no concern to me, your relationship with Hercules. I just think it's time you proved yourself as a valiant warrior. People need to think of you more, for you are a king, instead of telling stories about Hercules, the demigod hero. Heros always get stories but Kings must too and the only story about you with any worth has Hercules in the middle."
"What if we make peace with the horde? Perhaps they have a moral code."
"Savages don't have one, at least not these. Jason, the peacemaker, will get no respect from man or woman. Likewise, the valiant warrior will be honored in song and story till Armageddon wrecks the earth. What do you want to be remembered as? Weakling? Warrior King!?
Archin headed in the direction back to the camp.
Jason stood completely still for a moment, inside contemplating the speech just given to him. Archin made some valid points. There were not many stories about him. Hercules was becoming famous in a matter of seconds. A King should get some credit were credit is due. Then again, could making peace with the horde actually help? Would they leave Corinth and make trouble for another city or land? Were barmaids telling the story for years to come really important? Showing off did not make you a better king or person. All Jason could confirm at this time was he couldn't do what he had to do in a wrongful way. That would hurt everyone.
Archin stood in front of his men, wearing a confidant smile. "We will set up camp at the nearby fortress. Once the horde attacks, nobody on their side will be left standing. The time has come..."
Raising his hand, Jason interrupted by shouting "It's time you let me speak."
Archin lifted an eyebrow, sighing.
"What you say your highness. Speak! I give you full command of my troops. If you need my assistance I will give it to you. Just ask."
Jason nodded at Archin, turned around, and then nodded his head at Hercules.
The demi-god appeared confused. What was his friend telling him? Was he even telling him anything?
Several soldiers lifted their swords, cheering. The grubby soldier screamed, "War war war."
Hercules sighed, "Soldiers."
Out of nowhere a wooden spear pierced the heart of the grubby soldier. Hercules turned to his newfound companion, who was falling towards him. The startled Hercules barely caught him.
"Ambush!" Hercules screamed.
A small battalion of horde was quickly approaching them from out of the woods. The darker skinned men were covered only with tan loin clothes. Their faces and chests were painted with various lines and symbols. Each horde member held both a sword and small battle-ax.
"My sword," the grubby soldier squealed, falling to the ground.
Hercules grabbed the dead soldiers sword, slowing letting go of his hand, as his eyes closed for the final time.
Jason drew his sword.
The valiant king defended himself against a few horde.
All the soldiers drew their swords. Several got slashed through in the process.
Archin screamed "No mercy!"
The vile warrior smiled as he moved his sword in and out of an older member of the horde.
A younger horde member, around Hercules? age, hurled a battle-ax at the demigod. Hercules nearly caught it. Seeing the young horde was about to collide with him, Hercules dropped the battle-ax and lifted the grubby soldiers sword in the air. The horde member kicked Hercules to his knees, pulled a dagger form his boot, and held it against Hercules forehead. It appeared he was going to scalp Hercules.
The young horde scowled at the demi-god, backing off slightly.
Hercules quickly tumbled backward; the young horde fell to his knees when lunging forward. The demi-god held his sword to the young hordes head.
Hercules sighed; "Can you even understand what your kind are doing?"
The youth had no clue to what Hercules was asking him. Strange words meant harm. The youth violently kicked Hercules to his knees.
Grunting, the youth grabbed Hercules. He strangled the demi-god back and forth. Hercules elbowed the young horde member.
The demi-god picked up a large rock, lifted it above his head, and threw at several of the horde. They all fell ripe for the Athenians to take care of.
Jason slashed through several members of the horde. Archin gleefully combated with members of the horde. He teased and taunted a few of them before delivering the striking blow.
The soldiers seemed to fair quite well. More horde came as more horde were defeated. They wouldn't give up.
Several soldiers shot arrows at an approaching number of horde. The horde members went down. As the soldiers reloaded their bows, several horde members trusted daggers into their backs.
Hercules spotted the screaming youth running towards him. The demi-god stood his ground. His sword came out and blocked the youths sword. Hercules trusted his sword out again, right into the youths stomach.
The demi-god was shaken. He slowly pulled the sword from the youths chest. The youth collapsed and shut his eyes for the last time.
Hercules was totally oblivious to the noisy fighting going all around him. He became fixated with the bloodied sword he firmly gripped in his hands.
Seeing that the youth was dead, the remaining horde suddenly retreated into the woods. The Athenian infantry cheered in unison and then screamed encouraging words to their leaders, Archin and Jason.
"We won!" screamed an exuberant Jason, running over to his friends side.
Hercules dropped the sword. His hands and face were dripping wet. The demi-god sighed.
"They will be back. The Hordemasters son. You killed him. They retreated out of respect."
Archin bellowed, wiping his sword off with the sleeve of his tunic, "Just a matter of time before they return. We must make it to the fortress."
"Take the wounded with us," demanded Hercules in a sad voice. Tears began to well around his eyes.
"They will slow us down," griped the harsh General. "They stay behind. At least the savages will have a nice meal before hunting us. Bastards might even eat their own people."
Hercules was disturbed by the generals words. "You can't be serious?"
Jason interjected, "He is but we aren't going to leave anybody with a living chance behind."
The King shouted, "Take those wounded with a living chance along with us. Hurry!"
"Foolish but noble action. We can use as many as we can get. I'll help." stated Archin.
Jason nodded his head. He turned away from Archin and looked at his friend. The King rested his hands on Hercules shoulders.
"Your first kill. Sorry, man. I know how you feel."
"Its okay. It had to come sometime. We can't sit around and gripe about it now. We have business to attend too."
"With you on that."
Jason embraced his melancholy friend.
The soldiers neared the large fortress. Hercules dallied behind. He was not alone. He carried the youth horde member over his shoulder. The sword that had killed the horde member was resting in Hercules' scabbard.
"Hold Up!" ordered Archin.
The general approached Hercules, scowling at him.
"What in Zeus are you doing boy? Only Athenian wounded are too be brought along."
Jason interjected himself into the conversation. "I told him too. I think we can use the body as an exchange. It might work."
"I have just the perfect use for it." stated Archin.
"You are not serious," screamed Hercules, nearly breaking down. "We aren't bloodthirsty savages."
Jason pointed the finger at Hercules. "Wake up and smell the kill."
Hercules glanced over his shoulder and looked at the body of the horde youth, impaled on a pole like the horde did to the Athenian soldiers. The son of Zeus was disgusted at the site.
"Just hours earlier you thought it was horrible when they did it to us." noted Hercules.
Jason screamed, "Wake Up!"
Hercules tried to reach his hand out and calm Jason. The young King pushed his friend aside and went to look for General Archin. Jason did not have time to talk to his friend. This greatly disturbed Hercules. The demi-god followed Jason and when none of the soldiers were able to see the two, Hercules grabbed Jason by the arm and threw him against the fortress wall.
"You have a death wish?" asked Jason, brushing Hercules off him.
"I don't. I just killed him. For the love of the gods, can't you see it! It's written all over my damn face. I killed him! I killed him! You can't see that?" Hercules broke down. He couldn't hold his emotional outburst.
Jason nodded his head; a bit of an apology was spoke along with it.
"I understood. You see, this is my first war. I cannot let it bring me down You can't let that first kill bring you down. We have to send a message to our enemies. I wish I could comfort you but I can't. I have a Kingdom to protect. You have orders to follow."
Hercules placed his hands on his hips and took a deep breath.
"Orders? When did you start giving me orders...I want to know."
Jason was startled. "When? Since you headed out with General Archin and me. You're not my friend, you're a soldier in my army. You can be my friend later if you survive. Being a little crybaby won't let that happen."
Hercules stayed calm, despite everything raging inside him.
"That's fine. We'll see who is right. Maybe I'll have to join Ophistus in dragging your body to your fathers grave. Like father, like son."
Jason sighed, "This isn't good. We shouldn't be fighting. I should understand how you feel, about your first kill. It isn't easy."
"Your telling me? Do you know what I see every minute of every minute? I see a bloody sword piercing right threw a young boys heart. He was like me. A young man looking for his father acceptance. I killed him. His father accepts him and will start a war, because of me. The horde would have left if we defeated them, but I killed his son. My damn fault and you're doing everything to make sure this war happens."
Hercules paused to breathe.
"Do you know what they will do when they see the boys body hung up for the vultures? At least if we don't disgrace it they might have some sympathy."
Jason grinned. "Them or your little problem? Huh! Maybe I'm smarter then you think."
"You've just become arrogant and self-centered son of a witch since becoming friends with Archin. What happened to..."
Jason pointed his finger at Hercules and screamed, "We need Archin to survive. I don't need you, not at all!"
Hercules frowned and began to walk into the fortress, not looking back.
"Archin," Jason whispered, grinning. "Let's get ready to massacre the Horde. Nothing will get to Corinth when we show them. We will line rows of them, men and children, from Corinth to Midasis. One by one We'll kill them and teach our enemies!"
The sun set and a breezy night began. Most of the soldiers had gone to sleep. Jason and Archin sat by the campfire, not speaking to each other. Jason wasn't too happy about his earlier fight with Hercules and Archin knew Jason was not happy.
"If the horde attacks, we must be ready. You tell our men it's okay too sleep?" Archin asked Jason. The general sounded angry.
Jason sighed; "Tired men make bad soldiers and worse killers. We need all the killers we can get for tomorrow. Forget waiting for the Horde to attack us. We go out and kill them."
"That's what I want to hear from you, my King. That's the way it should be done."
Jason frowned slightly. In his heart he still had some sense that just killing was wrong. His worst feeling of hurt was what he said to Hercules.
The demi-god was laying in the midst of several soldiers. He stayed partially awake and listened carefully to everything Jason said.
Archin chuckled. "I bet you feel bad for telling off your friend."
Jason snarled. "You spy."
"I am sorry. I shouldn't have. You two have your private matters. None of my concern."
"That's okay," replied Jason, in a calm tone of voice. "You have every right to. Hercules isn't my friend...he's a soldier in my army."
Archin sighed. The young king was pleasing him.
Hercules stood up and walked over to his friend.
"So, we aren't friends, huh?"
Jasons stood up abruptly and looked Hercules in the eyes. The demi-god did not flinch.
"You are ordered to go to the hospice and sleep with all the cripples. You have no guts. That's your handicap." The young King demanded, in a rude tone of voice.
Hercules stared at Archin, who did not try to hide his love of Jason's strict and rude orders.
"That's the scoundrel you want to listen too. A man who claims to be a soldier but is the worlds biggest coward?"
Jason slapped Hercules across the face, in an aggressive fashion.
"Never again disobey your commanding officers orders. Next time I'll throw you to those savages. Your friend, Jason is not here, the man and King Jason is. He demands you take your cripple ass and haul it into the hospice, before I count to ten."
Hercules backed down, shocking Jason a bit. The King did his best not to show it. Archin put his arm around the King, "My boy, you are your fathers son, the King of Corinth!"
Hercules murmured to himself, walking into the hospice, "Please Jason, don't let your ambition guide you the wrong way."
The demi-god presence, as he slept, was calm and peaceful, but inside he was experiencing a deep and antagonizing pain...
"No," screamed Hercules, trying to avoid the image of him thrusting the sword through the horde youth's chest. The image played itself repeatedly around Hercules. The demi-god turned around and could not avoid seeing it again.
Ares appeared next to Hercules, laughing.
"Blood innocence lost! The joy it brings, little brother."
Hercules pushed Ares aside and grasped a bloodied sword.
The horde youth was on his knees; he smiled like a small child.
Hercules hefted the sword above his head and roared.
The horde youth was in tears as he begged Hercules to not harm him. Hercules resisted but could not.
"I killed you. I cannot again. I can't live with it." Hercules frowned.
The horde youth stood behind Hercules and smiled. "We can be friends, can't we?"
Hercules smiled, dropping the bloodied sword.
"Yes, we can. I'm sorry."
As the horde youth reached his hand out to shake Hercules' hand, the demi-god grabbed the sword and thrust it into the youth's chest, smiling.
The horde youth sniffled, falling down slowly and shutting his eyes for the last time.
...Hercules screamed, as Jason held him down. Several of the wounded soldiers laying near Hercules awoke suddenly. They wanted to know what was going on.
"It's okay buddy, it's just a dream." Jason was desperately trying to calm his friend down. The demi-god was an emotional wreck.
"I'm sorry Herk. I didn't mean to hurt you." Jason stated, as a tear rolled down his cheek. The young King embraced his sad friend. Hercules began to calm but remained a bit tense.
"I have to do something. I cannot let that innocent boy die." begged Hercules, brushing Jason off and walking out of the hospice.
"He's dead. You killed him in self-defense. There is nothing you can do except..."
"Except kill the rest and get revenge," Hercules told Jason, not too happily.
Jason sighed, "I wasn't..."
Hercules interrupted his friend. "Your no help. Just go. Get out of here. Get!"
Both left the room, through separate doors.
Hercules walked into the woods and rested against a tree. He gazed at the night sky. It was calm. Nothing like him. He had killed for the first time and did not think in doing it. He went against everything he stood for. His actions turned his friend against him and Jason was going to loose himself in protecting Corinth, now the entire world it seemed, from the Horde. Things had gotten out of hand. Of course it was not all his fault, he could not say it was not. If he had not killed the young horde, they might have had a chance at peace. Not now. War, it was not good for anything.
"If anyone is listening, what can I do? Jason has lost his mind. The Horde will trample over the Athenians and my friend. I have to come to terms with myself and help my friend. I have never felt this lost before, never. What can I do? I wish I knew."
A tear rolled down Hercules left cheek as the demi-god headed back in the direction of the fortress.
Hercules jotted down something on a piece of parchment and left it at Jason's side. Quietly, Hercules left the Fortress. He took the horde youth off the pole and carried him over his shoulder.
"He is going back to his father. The only right thing to do, to give me peace, and give Jason peace. If it means my own life, so be it."
After Hercules left, Archin slowly awoke and ripped the piece of parchment that Hercules had left and wrote his own on another and placed it at Jason's side.
Archin laughed as he dropped the pieces of Hercules' parchment into a small fire.
The Horde gathered in a small colony deep in the forest. They lived in a valley, hidden by many trees. It was not very easy to find them.
Many of the female members of the horde were mourning. The male warriors comforted their young sons and daughters. Were these total savages, to show such emotions?
The Hordemaster, the tallest, and most well built of the horde, rose to his feet, lifted an ax in each hand, and let out a cry. He was ready to go to war. His sons death would be avenged.
In his native tongue he declared, "I shall kill them. They not only kill my son but they desecrate his body outside their walls. They will be damned."
Jason woke up in the morning, feeling horrible. He had a job to do but in doing it, he had told his friend things that he never thought he would. Jason had one thing he needed to do before he rallied the troops.
"Have you seen Hercules," Jason asked Archin.
The Athenian General grinned, handing Jason the piece of parchment. "I believe he left this earlier this morning. The boy was in a rush." Archin smirked as Jason read the message that Hercules had supposedly left.
"He wouldn't desert us and go back to the Academy. That's not Hercules. It's not him. This can't be right."
Jason threw down the piece of parchment and threw his hands across his face.
"What have I done," Jason whispered to himself.
"He is weak. He cannot accept what he has done. Don't worry about him. Your Kingdom is more important! The Horde will come. I heard the master cry out in the middle of the night. They will come and pillage. We must be ready," stated Archin, handing Jason his sword.
Jason took the sword reluctantly and frowned.
"What's this for? I have my own sword..."
Archin pat Jason on the back. "Yours is strong but has not tasted enough blood I fear. It will do you no good."
"Who cares what sword I use. A sword is a sword. But if you insist..."
Archin looked into Jason's eyes. He could see the King was still focused on the Horde and Corinth but his emotions felt a sadness too, for what he had said to Hercules.
"We have no time to waste. The Horde are marching on us now!" Archin shouted to the troops.
Many of the soldiers threw down their breakfast and gathered their weapons. Jason put on his warrior face and raised his sword high.
"That's my boy," noted Archin, pleased to see that Jason had raised his sword.
Hercules was beginning to tire. Carrying a dead body, especially one beginning to rot and smell, wasn't comfortable. Hercules followed a line of blood, obviously from wounded horde. He had gone back to the area were the troops had fought the soldiers before and noticed the wounded and dead were missing. The demigod stopped when he saw the bloody lines stop.
He put the horde youths body down and lifted a pile of branches from the ground. The dead soldiers had been laid inside.
"Time to use Iolaus' hunter tricks," joked Hercules, draping the boys body over his shoulder once more.
Hercules let his senses guide him to the edge of a valley. He looked down at the Horde village. It was empty except for a few of the horde women. They noticed the demigod staring down at them and became startled when they saw him carrying the horde youth.
One of the women ran up to Hercules and began to tear at him.
"I didn't mean to. It was in self defense." stated Hercules, sniffling more as he said each word.
"Emotion," the woman muttered to the demigod. "You have the look of a kind man."
"You can talk like me," stated the startled demigod.
"I learned from reading. They don't know that I but I know. Please, the father just needs his son. He will not kill when he sees your sorrow. We just want this small land. Kaltaka, we honor it."
"The water. We honor the land. Tell your King to let us live in peace and we will. Just give father his son. Mother knows you didn't mean to kill him."
"You're his mother."
"Am." replied the female horde.
Several tears rolled down Hercules' right cheek as he looked the woman in the eyes.
"Go now. Bring peace."
The area surrounding the fortress was silent. Inside the walls, Jason and the soldiers kneeled down on the parapet. Archin smiled at Jason.
"My King, let's get ready to kill them all."
Jason didn't react with any emotion. His only worry was the horde who were about to attack.
The Horde ran from out of the woods. Before they could reach the walls of the fortress, many soldiers came from a large trench and plowed through threw a good number of horde.
Jason screamed loudly, "Make sure they can't enter the city."
Archin leaped off the parapet and many feet below outside the fortress. He laughed as he viciously plunged his sword through horde member after horde member.
Jason looked in the distance and could see the Hordemaster arriving with more horde. The battle had just begun.
Members of the horde threw their battle-axes at the walls, killing many of the soldiers lined at it. Several of the Athenians lit their crossbows and fired arrows into the chests of some of the ax throwers.
Jason combated a larger horde member with Archin's sword. The young king gallantly blocked the hordes sword several times before cutting down the savage.
Archin took enjoyment out of slashing members of the horde. Perhaps he was too cocky. A horde member kicked Archin in the back and placed his dagger at Archin's neck. Jason rushed over to the scuffle and pulled the horde member of Archin and stabbed the horde member in the chest.
Many of the Athenians were already dead or unable to fight. The Horde had entered the fortress and laid waist to it. They spoke back and forth in their native tongue.
The Hordemaster arrived and went straight for Jason, seeing he was the leader.
Jason ducked a swing of the Hordemasters curved sword. The Hordemaster growled and swung his sword again. Jason lifted his sword up and broke the Hordemasters sword in half.
The Hordemaster knocked Jason to his knees with his hands and pulled a small curved knife from his sheath.
Jason laughed, pulling a dagger from his boot. The King hurled it at the hordemasters leg.
The Hordemaster lifted his leg and avoided the dagger.
Archin threw Jason another dagger.
The Hordemaster grabbed the dagger and squeezed it from Jason's hand, his own hand being cut open in the process. He didn't care nor felt any pain. The other fighting had stopped. Everyone alive was watching Jason fight the Hordemaster.
The Hordemaster grasped Jason round the neck and swung him back and forth. Jason scratched the Hordemasters eye and punched him in the chest. The Hordemaster growled.
"Kill him," screamed Archin.
The Hordemaster grew weary. He could see Hercules carrying his sons body in the distance. The Hordemaster tried to scatter away from Jason. The King stopped fighting when he saw his friend walking onto the battlefield.
"Hercules," whispered Jason, putting down Archins sword.
"Your son," spoke Hercules, handing the Hordemaster his sons body.
The Hordemaster could see the sadness in Hercules' eyes and detect the sadness in Hercules heart. He nodded his forgiveness to the demigod.
"Peace," whispered Hercules, backing away slowly.
The Hordemaster kneeled on the ground and cradled his son in his arms. His fatherly emotions came out in the form of screams and tears.
Jason smirked. "Time to end this."
The King of Corinth attacked the defenseless Hordemaster quite roughly. Jason kicked him in the stomach and punched him on the head. The Hordemaster was too weak to fight back.
"That's for the dead soldiers you bastard," spat Jason, kicking the Hordemaster to his knees.
The horde frowned; even the Athenian soldiers didn't approve of Jason's actions. Only Archin displayed approval of it.
The hordemasters forehead has been opened up. His strength had been kicked out of him by Jason.
Jason hefted Archins sword above the Hordemasters chest. He was seconds away using it to end the Hordemasters life.
Hercules couldn't let Jason do this. The demigod grabbed a dagger and hurled it at Jason's. The dagger cut of the blade of Jason's sword.
The Hordemaster sighed.
Jason yelled, "You have no right!"
"You have no right," replied Hercules, grabbing his friend by the shoulders. "His war is done. He forgives me. I except what I did and if we let the horde live in peace in this forest, we can pass in peace and Corinth will be safe. My word and his."
Jason looked down at the Hordemaster, who had crawled back over and continued to cradle his sons body while displaying his emotions.
The King of Corinth embraced Hercules. The friends shared a tearful moment as several members of the horde threw their axes into the Hordemasters back. Struck dead he fell to the ground in a heap.
Once the horde saw the souls of their master and his son rise to the sky, they retreated to their village in the woods. They had lost the war but had gained a peace.
The remaining Athenians gather there wounded and helped them back into the fortress.
"I'm sorry Herk." stated Jason, still embracing his friend and tearing.
Hercules smiled, brushing out of the embrace. "It's all the past now. Father and son are together, peace has been made, and all has been accepted."
Jason looked around. Archin was nowhere to be seen.
"It looks like Archin has gone. Hopefully he won't return." stated Jason.
Hercules, throwing his arm around his buddies shoulder, sighed.
"He will. As long as we have senseless wars, his rotten kind will be around."
Jason and Hercules headed into the fortress.
TERN O'BRIEN AND MEDEA
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