Love, Larceny, and Lies II
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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.
THE PRINCE OF THIEVES IS AT IT AGAIN
(Young Autolycus sneaks into a museum of paintings)
PUTTING IOLAUS IN FURTHER PERIL
(Cordonius watches Iolaus looking at a painting)
(Iolaus dusts powder over the painting)
Magistrate, to Iolaus: "Back again little thief!"
(Iolaus gulps and begins to turn toward the magistrate)
AND TESTING HERCULES' AND MEG'S RELATIONSHIP
(Young Autolycus grins and winks at Meg)
(Meg smiles back at Young Autolycus)
ON THE NEXT YOUNG HERCULES
"And, for those of you needing the extra credit, I strongly recommend attending the art festival. A simple, 1,000 word essay will suffice for the points." Feducious eyed Iolaus who was tapping his fingers on the desk.
"Why does he always look at me?" Iolaus whispered to Hercules. The demi-god shrugged, lost in his own thoughts.
The shorter cadet snatched the scroll before Hercules could stop him. Sighing, Herk braced himself for the lecture.
"'My dearest Hercules'-how sweet-'my mind aches as I think of you so far away'-oh YUCK! It's a love letter!" Iolaus shoved it back at the demi-god who glared at him. "From her!"
"Her name is Meg, Iolaus."
"There's the castle." Iolaus' step quickened. Hercules lagged behind the others a few steps, his eyes drifting in the direction of Meg's house. His step faltered when he saw the tall girl with long blond hair. Though her back was to him he knew it was her. Slowly she turned, dressed in a dark blue dress, her vest embroidered with gold thread. The instant their eyes met, a smile broke over her lovely features. Glancing over her shoulder she motioned to an alley. Hercules hurried to meet her and swept her into a hug.
"I got your scroll." he wouldn't let go of her.
"Why are you here?" she half whispered.
"To see Jason and the arts festival. It's for school."
"I'm in charge of security for the paintings, can you believe it? I think Father is starting to love me again."
A young man lurking in the trees. Dressed in a green and black tunic, black pants, his short dark hair was combed back neatly. Strapped to his back pack was a strange, three pronged curving instrument.
Autolycus couldn't believe his good fortune. Getting into the art festival would be easy as pie. All it took was the seduction of a beautiful young maiden. And no woman had ever been able to resist Autolycus, Prince of Thieves. Stealing hearts was like taking candy from a baby.
Iolaus eyed Meg distrustfully as he watched her. The tall girl stood talking to the handsome young man with a dark mustache.
Autolycus smoothly slipped his arm around Meg's shoulders as he led her towards the woods.
"I just love a quiet walk through the woods. With such a lovely girl as yourself it's only more pleasurable on such a glorious day." Auto told her. Meg blushed, unaware they were being watched.
Stealthily Iolaus followed the pair. The former thief didn't trust this guy further than he could throw him, which wasn't very far to begin with. He had sleaze written all over him. Why was Meg getting suckered into his game when she wrote such mushy letters to Herk? And who was this creep anyway, moving in on his best friends girl?
"You think my girlfriend is a thief?" Hercules demanded angrily.
"Herk, that's not what I said. What I said was-"
"That she's been pulled into that guys scheme? You think she's that dumb? Iolaus have you been drinking or something? Do you have any idea how outlandish these ideas of yours are?" he demanded. Iolaus sighed and shook his head.
Jason watched the bitter fight with concern. Ever since Meg had entered their lives things had been tense between the boys. Sometimes, if they hadn't heard from her in a while, they seemed normal but at the first mention, Iolaus smile vanished and Hercules shoulders tensed. Maybe it was time for a little royal intervention.
Meg laughed as Autolycus bounded across the room, re-enacting his escape from a minotaur. Cordonius applauded.
"Well, Auto, my boy, you have led a fascinating life." he boomed with a smile. Auto grinned, winking at Meg.
"I have sir, and I think it's going to get even better."
"Well I'm definitely looking forward to having you in Corinth for a long time to come."
Cordonius and his wife got up. "Now if you'll excuse us, you kids can have some time together. Meg, you know your curfew."
"Yes father." Meg said demurely. Once they were alone Auto joined her on the settee.
"You look sad. If you frown, wrinkles will mar that lovely face of yours." he smiled charmingly. Meg smiled.
"I'm sorry. It's just. . .it's a long story."
"We have all night." he said smoothly. "Well, at least until your curfew."
"I haven't been completely honest with you Auto. There's another-there's someone in my life that I care for very much."
"Sort of. My father doesn't approve of Hercules, but he's the most wonderful man I've ever met. He's kind and thoughtful, caring, brave-he rescued me from some bandits once." Meg's face lit up.
"So why doesn't your father like him?" Auto held her hand, gently stroking his fingers over her soft skin.
"It's a long story. Hercules is the mortal son of Zeus. My father is loyal to Hera. Hercules is a constant reminder of Zeus' infidelity to her." Meg said softly, sadness filling her voice. "Occasionally my father allows me to see him but not often. We write though. He writes the most beautiful letters."
Auto's brain spun quickly, his plan forming. Absently he reached for a vase and toyed with it.
"Meg, I care for you a great deal." he said solemnly. "Getting to know you this week has been the biggest thrill of my life. And I can't stand to see you hurting so. I'm going to help you see Hercules."
"You are?" Meg was stunned. "How?"
"In two nights. We'll set up a rendevous with him. We'll tell your father I'm taking you out. I'll escort you to the meeting place, and come back for you later. He'll never know."
"Autolycus. .. you would do that for me?" she asked, her eyes shining with tears.
"Anything for you my dear." he smiled slyly.
Rebecca Herbst as Megaera
Ian Hughes as Young Autolycus
Based on "Young Hercules"
Created by Renaissance Pictures
Tern O'Brien & Medea
Edited by Tern O'Brien
"She wants to meet me at ten." Hercules said excitedly.
"Her father will let her out?" Jason asked, puzzled.
"She just says not to worry and be there." Hercules was grinning from ear to ear as Iolaus sulked.
The former thief was concocting a plan to trap Autolycus. In the last day he had visited nearly every herb shop in Corinth, looking for a particular item. There was one left on his list he planned to hit today. And he was running out of time.
Cordonius frowned when he entered the museum and saw Iolaus. The short punk was studying a priceless painting by Picassus. Why was the boy here? Since he had been found the other night Cordonius was paranoid he would try to steal a painting. And from the way he studied it. . .he certainly looked suspicious.
Iolaus was aware of Cordonius watching him. Carefully the youth dusted the powder over the painting. This was the last one. Cordonius had awful timing, he thought.
Finally completing the task, Iolaus wandered outside, breathing a deep sigh of relief when Cordonius' eagle eyes were off him.
Once Autolycus tried to steal the paintings, which Iolaus was convinced he would, his fingerprints would be left behind. Iolaus had dusted the powder on the walls surrounding the paintings as well. Within a few hours of being touched, the prints would appear. Now he just had to get his hands on something Autolycus had touched to match the prints. . .
"We have to go back tomorrow. Break is over." Hercules said sadly, watching Meg. Meg frowned.
"I know. I'm sorry Herk. I wish we had more time together."
"We just have to make the most of what we do have." Hercules laid one arm round her shoulders. Leaning her blonde head against her shoulder she thought of Auto guiltily. Should she tell Herk about him? Herk was the one she loved. Autolycus, though entertaining, didn't evoke half the feelings in her that the demi-god did. Her heart belonged solely to Hercules.
"Meg, do you ever think about the future?" Hercules asked. Meg chuckle.
"Of course I do. I think about reaching my majority and telling my father to go to Hades, and running off to be with you." she said dreamily. His hold around her shoulders tightened.
"Me too. I only have a year left at the Academy. But you know. . .you'll reach your majority this summer. We don't have to wait until I graduate you know." he said. Meg looked up at him.
"Hercules, what are you talking about?" she asked frowning.
"When we can be together. Without your father or anyone else interfering." he said softly.
"I can't wait." she admitted.
Iolaus prowled the perimeter of the museum. Every so often a bird would twitch and he'd start, studying the direction to see if there was a person hiding. So far nothing.
Sighing he settled back against the tree when a rough hand grabbed him.
"So! Back again little thief! Couldn't stay away could you?" the magistrate growled. Iolaus gulped.
The museum was dark, except for a few candlesticks illuminating the way for the guards. Autolycus dropped in through a window that was in the shadows. "This is all too easy," he thought to himself.
Stealthily, he stayed in the shadows, creeping up on his first goal. The painting by Picassus would fetch quite a price.
"Too bad the painter had to use all those half naked men.. now if it were women, well," Autolycus thought to himself, "it'd be hanging on the wall of the Prince of Thieves."
Suddenly, he heard footsteps on the hard floor. Autolycus flattened himself against the wall, in the shadows, and held his breath as a big, burly guard walked by him. The guard stopped, just a few paces past where Autolycus was standing. Half turning, he looked right past Autolycus, then turned back, and resumed his tour of the museum.
Autolycus let his breath out slowly. "That was close," he thought. He continued down the hall, hugging the wall and shadows, until he reached the first painting. He slowly stood up, reaching for the top of the painting. Iolaus' loose dust got brushed off by the current of air from Autolycus' arms, and swirled around, causing his nose to itch.
"Oh no! Can't sneeze now," he thought frantically. He stopped going so slowly, grabbed the painting, and quickly sliced the canvas free of its frame, brushing the wall with his fingertips in his haste. He held the painting to his body tightly, and crept back along the shadows, fighting the urge to sneeze the whole way. He reached his window, put the painting in part of the ledge and hoisted himself up to the ledge, then jumped down, carrying the painting with him.
Inside the museum, the guards heard a loud and obnoxious sneeze. Finally they decided it was nothing and went about their business.
Jason glared at Iolaus, ho rubbed his neck. The King had been woken in the middle of the night, which Iolaus knew would only make him grumpy.
"I'm telling you! I was waiting for him to show up. Now we've given him the perfect opportunity to get in and steal the paintings!" Iolaus shouted. Jason shook his head.
"Iolaus, you are delusional. Several men at one of the taverns swear Autolycus was with them all night."
"Then he's paying them! Or something! Jase, you have to believe me!"
"You can go." Jason dismissed the magistrate. "I'll handle him."
Once the two friends were alone, Jason turned in a fury to Iolaus.
"What are you trying to do?"
"Catch a thief!" Iolaus growled. "I thought you'd be more supportive of that!"
"Hey guys, what's all the fuss?" Hercules strolled in, glowing. The sun was just beginning to streak the night sky. Autolycus had never shown up to take Meg home so he escorted her as far home as he dared.
Jason filled him in quickly. Hercules' delight turned to disgust.
"When are you going to give up Iolaus?"
"When we catch him! I'm telling you, he's a thief!"
"I'm going to bed." Jason snarled. "Iolaus, don't you dare leave this castle."
Only a few hours later, Iolaus was shaken roughly.
"What?" he asked. Jason was pacing the floor.
"The museum was robbed Iolaus. Last night."
"What!! We got him!" Iolaus jumped from his bunk but Jason shook his head.
"No. He got away. No forced entry. Nothing disturbed. Cut the paintings out of the frames perfectly." Jason sighed, sitting on the edge of the bed. "Cordonius is here, ranting and raving, insisting it was you and an accomplice. And he's all too willing to name Herk."
"Do you see where this has led Iolaus?" Jason demanded. "If you had only listened to me! Get dressed and meet me in the throne room."
After half an hour of talking, the magistrate, Jason, Hercules, Meg and Cordonius headed to the museum. Hercules was unable to provide an alibi for the night before, for fear of endangering Meg.
"See those fingerprints?" Iolaus demanded. "I put this powder on the paintings yesterday!"
"Iolaus, how can we prove those are Auto's?" Meg asked coldly.
"All we have to do is get something he's held recently, dust it with powder and it'll be the proof."
"You're desperate to cover your tracks aren't you boy?" Cordonius demanded. The magistrate held out a piece of parchment. Truly, the Prince of Thieves except Prince had been crossed out and KING written in.
"He would have had to have touched this."
Iolaus quickly dusted it but the smear that came up was no good. Too many people had touched it.
"You were with him last night." Cordonius turned to his daughter. "Auto couldn't have stolen the paintings."
Meg swallowed hard. "There's a vase at the house he was admiring. It would have his prints."
"You believe this?" Cordonius stared at his daughter. Meg turned and walked towards her house.
Hercules remained silent. He knew Iolaus didn't take the paintings, as did Jason but what good would that do when Cordonius already had him convicted?
Iolaus was on pins and needles waiting for Meg to return.
Sure enough, the powder revealed a matching set.
"That boy-I welcomed him into my home-" Cordonius whispered, stricken "-trusted him with my daughter-"
Suddenly he turned on Meg. "You! All that time you spent with him-what were you doing? And you were supposed to be with him last night!"
"Talking father, just talking!" Meg raised her hands in front of her face as to ward off an attack. Hercules temper flared.
"You gave him keys didn't you! What favors did you bestow on him?" Cordonius roared. Meg burst into tears.
"None father! I don't know how he got in! I swear, I had nothing to do with it!" she pleaded.
"You whore! Get back to your room!" Meg fled in tears.
"Don't talk to her like that!" Hercules burst forth. Jason groaned.
"You, whelp! You stay out of this! You've received enough of my daughter's attention! If you come near her again not even the king can protect you!" Cordonius spat, turning on his heel and leaving.
Hercules turned in despair to Jason, who was dumbfounded. The demi-god stepped towards Iolaus.
"This is all your fault Iolaus!" he shouted. The curly haired cadet paled.
"Herk, you know it's not. Your just angry-"
"If you hadn't started this witch hunt for the Prince of Thieves, none of this would have happened!"
"Herk, calm down. Come on, let's go back to the castle." Jason put one hand on his friends arm but Herk shook him off.
"You can go back. But I'm not going anywhere that he'll be!"
"Look, Cordonius is just mad that he got away with his paintings and he's taking it out on you. That's the kind of man he is."
Hercules stormed away, leaving the King and Iolaus to stare helplessly at each other. How could they repair this?
Meanwhile. . .
Autolycus settled into the coach to sleep peacefully. Shame to have had to use the lovely girl that way but. . .happily he patted the bag under his arm, containing the paintings. Yes, he was definitely the King of Thieves now.
TERN O'BRIEN AND MEDEA
Cordonius: Terry Batchelor
Versae: Ilona Rodgers
Majistrate: Norman Forsey
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