The Pains of a Family 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.

ON THE NEXT YOUNG HERCULES:


(A disgusted Jason talks to drunken man in the throne room)
THE SON OF ZEUS FACES HIS GREATEST CHALLENGE YET!
(Hercules stands with determined look on his face)
NOT A BATTLE AGAINST A GOD OR MONSTER
(Kaira passes out in front of Jason)
(A very scared Kaira looks at a necklace hanging on a bush)
BUT A BATTLE FOR A FAMILIES SAFETY
Kaira: "We'll be fine..."
Hercules, frowning: "I won't let you be any other way."
ON YOUNG HERCULES
UP NEXT!

Teaser

LAST TIME ON YOUNG HERCULES:

      "So what's the job?" asked Iolaus, trying to sound interested.

      "It's difficult. It will take patience, thought, and a great deal of time, and energy. It will be a challenge. And you two might say it will be extra credit."

      "All right!" said Iolaus. Hercules echoed his excitement. They felt proud to be chosen for an extra task.

      "What is it?" Hercules repeated his friend's question.

      Cheiron opened the door to the kitchen. Inside were two toddlers, hopping and hollering around in a circle playing tag. They ran around an infant playing with a rag doll on her mother's lap.

      The mother at the table, was a young woman, not much older then the boys. She was overweight, and nervous. Even in the hot weather she wore a full length dress with long sleeves. Her long, wavy, red hair was pulled back into a thick ponytail and her green eyes stared at the rag doll.

      "This is Kiara. She will be working here twice a week. Helping with cooking, cleaning, and keeping the academy in shape, while her husband works in Corinth's market place. But she needs someone to watch her children. So, I volunteered you two."


      "Why, Big Guy? Why does your mom cry a lot?" asked Iolaus.

      "Daddy's mad a lot. He yells a lot. He yells loud, but I can yell louder. Mommy says so. But I'm not to yell back at Daddy. Mommy hides us when he yells."

      "Why does Daddy yell?"

      "Daniel! It's time to go!" came Kiara's voice as she rushed toward them, holding up her skirt.

      "But, Mommy, it's early still," he protested as he looked at her with a tired pout.

      "I know, Honey, but mommy finished already, and we really need to get home. I need to finish the blankets for Daddy. He said he needs them for tomorrow. We'll be back in the morning. Come on."


      "Jason. Please. Right now I want to be your friend Jason."

      Kiara stood without his hand again. "My King. I could not in good conscience use that name, talking to you personally. Now let me get you a bowl of stew."

      "I have eaten. Thank you. Please. Sit with your children."

      "I have work. . ."

      "And it can wait." his helping hand being denied a second time, Jason folded his arms against his chest and leaned against a counter behind him.

      "No-"

      "Please. I just need a moment to talk to you." he held his hand palm out to stop her further avoidance.

      "Have I done anything wrong?"

      "No."

      "Have the children?"

      "No. But there may be the issue of your husband."

      "Has he done anything wrong?" Her heart sank and raced as her stomach tightened. Had he heard her conversation? Was he going to stop her from leaving, and tell him?

      "You tell me."


      "I don't know what you mean, my King."

      "Then tell me about your son's legs."

      Kiara looked at him, and hoped her relief of the different subject didn't show. "So, Hercules came running to you?"

      "Hercules, Iolaus, and I are all concerned."

      "About an active boy who gets scrapes and bruises, like most young children. I already went over this with Hercules."

      "About the burns. On him and you. You seem to have avoided him on that one. Please. Talk to me."

      "What does this have to with my husband?" Kiara could no longer look at him with the strange care in his face. She did not know how to take it.

      "Did he put the burn marks on you? And what about the bruise on your face?"


      THUD!

      The loud sound woke Jason from his brief reminiscing. He looked to see Kiara laying unconscious on the wet, hardwood floor. Her hair was to the side of her, exposing the fresh blood, soaking the back of her dress, along with some splashed water.

      The young King leapt from his position, and skidded across the wet floor to her. He barely kept his stop in control as he knelt next to her.

      "Kiara," he said rolling her over on his lap, and cradling her sweat soaked head in his arms. "Kiara."

      "Ow." Came a faint cry from her lips.

      Jason looked up again. The dining hall was deserted. All the cadets were on the other, side in the training hall. The cook had vanished, probably to a nature call. He looked down at Kiara again. He knew he would have to get her to Cheiron for help.

      "Okay. You can do this Jason," he thought to himself. He positioned himself so he could get his arm under her legs, and centered himself for balance. He wasn't worried so much about her weight, as he was about aggregating her wounds further. "I know this is going to hurt, but we need to get you some help, whether you want it or not."

      He carried her through the halls and slipped into the infirmary. Using his foot to close the door behind him, he took a breath and laid her on a slab table on her stomach.

      Kiara groaned in pain again through her sleep.

      "Sorry," Jason said pulling her soaking wet hair from her. Then he wiped the trickle of sweat from the side of her face. "I'm going to get Cheiron. I'll be right back."

      He did not know if she could hear him or not, but he talked to her just the same, as he left to look for his former mentor.

      Jason found Cheiron watching over the cadets sparring matches, with Feducious standing next to him, grading scrolls. He approached the head master and explained to both of them what had happened. Cheiron seemed to be expecting it. While his assistant was shocked without words.

      "I'll be right there. Feducious?" Cheiron said.

      "Of course. The students are in good hands."

      Jason led him off to where Kiara laid.

      "Jason, I need you to get water, salve, and bandages," Cheiron said feeling her forehead and taking a knife to rip away the remains of the dress' back.

      The young King left with his instructions, and Cheiron pulled a blanket out of a cupboard and laid it over her legs for privacy. Looking at her back, he eased away the material. He gave a look of sympathy while he choked back down the sickening feeling he had.

      "I got the water," Jason said coming back in at a fast walk, and sloshing water everywhere. "I'll get the first aide box. How's she doing?"

      He looked at her back when Cheiron did not answer. "What did this?"

      "Apparently she has been whipped over and over without enough time to heal in between. She has lost a lot of blood, and she's dehydrated, has a fever, and is exhausted."

      "So what are we going to do?" he asked, handing over the box.

      The centaur went right to work, cleaning the wounds. "We will do what we can. Give her a place to stay, try to find something for her to wear, and get her better. . .If she will let us."

      "What do you mean?"

      "Obviously she did not tell us of her pain, because she is afraid and ashamed. She is trying to be strong for her children, but someone thinks that she needs to be under control."

      "Her husband?"

      "Why do you suspect?. . .Something is going on."


      Cheiron motioned for Hercules to enter the infirmary and opened the doorway more.

      "Cheiron, Kiara's husband is here, and -"

      "I will handle it. You, in there. Iolaus, take the children to the sleeping quarters. Now."

      Iolaus flipped Sera onto his back, held Dana in one arm, and shifted Daniel closer. He headed as fast as he could to the dormitory. Hercules sighed and went into the room that his headmaster was walking out of.

      Jason stood inside with his arms crossed, and looking at Hercules. He was emotionless, and was making him even more nervous then Daniel. "What?"

      "You didn't tell Cheiron about what was going on," Jason stated. "If you had, he could have helped you. But you went over his head to me."

      "Jason-"

      "Save it! We're all involved now. But you should have told him. Now we have to concentrate all our strengths on helping her heal."

      Hercules followed Jason's gaze to the table where Kiara laid. Her back wounds were wrapped in bandages, much in the same way as set ribs.


      Cheiron motioned for Hercules to enter the infirmary and opened the doorway more.

      "Cheiron, Kiara's husband is here, and-"

      "I will handle it. You, in there. Iolaus, take the children to the sleeping quarters. Now."

      Iolaus flipped Sera onto his back, held Dana in one arm, and shifted Daniel closer. He headed as fast as he could to the dormitory. Hercules sighed and went into the room that his headmaster was walking out of.

      Jason stood inside with his arms crossed, and looking at Hercules. He was emotionless, and was making him even more nervous then Daniel. "What?"

      "You didn't tell Cheiron about what was going on," Jason stated. "If you had, he could have helped you. But you went over his head to me."

      "Jason-"

      "Save it! We're all involved now. But you should have told him. Now we have to concentrate all our strengths on helping her heal."

      Hercules followed Jason's gaze to the table where Kiara laid. Her back wounds were wrapped in bandages, much in the same way as set ribs.

      "What happened?" He asked as he walked over to her.

      "She passed out when I was trying to talk to her about the concerns that we have," The young King uncrossed his arms and joined his friend. "Don't get me wrong. You were right to let Iolaus drag you to me. But Cheiron is the first one you should have told. Chain of command. It was very uncomfortable for me to have to explain why I was here to deal with a situation he knew almost nothing about."

      Hercules did not respond. All he could do was look at her. All the dressings Cheiron had put on her entire body that the blanket didn't cover.

      "Yeah, I was hoping to catch up with the family in their daily walk," They heard coming from the training room. "When I didn't see them anywhere around, I thought something must be wrong and maybe they came here to get help. This is a nice academy you have here."

      The young men went to the infirmary doors and closed them to the point of having a crack to look out of. Cheiron was walking with Daniel's father through the academy.

      "With so many wars going on, fathers are away. Boys need someone to show them discipline, control, wisdom, and self-defense as they grow into men. A lot of mothers raising them by themselves, can't teach them that in their busy schedules."

      "Unlike my lazy woman. She hardly does anything around the house. She sits around all day sewing, or taking walks with the kids. When I come home from a hard day in the market place, and long walk home, all I want is the kids quiet and in bed, the house clean, and a decent meal. But no. The kids are spoiled by their mother, and sopping wet behind the ears. The boy could use a place like this to toughen him up."

      Hercules had to hold Jason back, along with his own anger. With a hand over the young King's mouth and one arm holding down both of his around his tight waist, Hercules had to keep moving away from things so that Jason would not kick them over and attract attention to them.

      "We offer guidance and discipline," Cheiron corrected. "Everyone needs that."

      "So you haven't seen anyone to match their descriptions?" The man asked looking around more and walking towards the cracked doors to the infirmary.

      "None," Cheiron said trying to keep his voice under control.

      "Maybe one of your boys had seen them," the husky, middle sized man started towards two boys who had come back to get some gear they had forgotten.

      "I doubt it. They have been in classes all day. To admit not being would only give them extra chores," Feducious put in carrying some material in his arms, under fresh supplies for the first aide box. His voice was loud enough for the boys to take a warning, even though they did not know what was going on.

      "Stop it Jason," Hercules hissed in his ear. "If he hears you, you'll put them all in more danger."

      All Jason could think of was showing the suave gentleman the damage he could cause him, for what he had done to this family.

      "Shall I show you out now?" Cheiron asked Kiara's husband, extending an arm towards the door.

      "Sure.

Act One

"The Pains of a Family II"

Also Starring
Nathaniel Lees as Cheiron
Sharon Tyrell as Alcmene
Jodie Rimmer as Lilith
Mfundo Morrison as Theseus

Guest Starring
Caitlin McDougall as Kaira
Stig Eldred as Balian

Based on "Young Hercules"
Created by Renaissance Pictures

Assistant Producers
Euterpe and Jose Estreda

Co-Executive Producers
Medea and Tern O'Brien

Executive Producer
Kent Simmons

Edited by Tern O'Brien

Written by Barb Soden


      Kaira jerked herself awake and sat up in her makeshift bed. She was out of breath, eyes wide, and cold sweat dripping off every pore in her body. Her clothes and blanket were soaked. Where was she? Where were the children? What time was it? How long had she been asleep? All these questions raced through her scared mind.

      The room was dark, and silent. She could not see anything except shapes and shadows from the light of one small window to her right. She guessed it was towards the middle of the night or later.

      After a few minutes of waking up, her heart raced out of control. She had no idea where she was. She looked at herself and felt her body heavy and dressed in bandages. The clothes she was wearing were not hers. The fabric was lighter, softer and was short sleeved.

      She pulled the clinging fabric from her wet skin, and looked around again. She saw a crack of light in a straight line on the floor, across from wherever she was. The door.

      She did not know what was behind it, but she could hear noise. Strange noises.

      She slid off the table, aching. The pain was no where near as bad as before, but she still ached and was stiff. She tried to see something, anything, to tell her a path to the light.

      She took a step forward in the direction she was facing. "Ow," she whispered and bit her bottom lip as she walked into a table that was waist high.

      Getting a feel for the table, she guided herself around it in the direction of her destination. When it ended, she took careful steps, gliding her bare feet on the floor, holding her hands out in front of her. She hoped to find more guidance.

      "Umph," she groaned as her hands and feet missed another waist high table. She was doubled over on the top, and knocked something off.

      Crash! Shattered the object on the cold, cobbled floor. Boom, boom, boom, went her heartbeat in her ears. She carefully moved her hands over the table, trying not to knock anything else off.

      A burst of light hit her as the crack became larger and blinded her. She had not yet straightened herself, and had to use one hand to balance herself and the other to shield her eyes.

      "Kaira? Are you all right?"

      Her eyesight formed a large shadow of the figure standing in the doorway. Focusing, and adjusting, the shadow cleared into Chieron.

      "Kaira?" questioned his voice again. His hooves could be heard clicking on the floor. "Kaira. Why are you out of bed? It's the middle of the night." He came closer to her.

      "Where are my children?" she asked pulling herself up straight, and shaking out of control.

      "Sleeping. As you should be." He now stood in front of her. "Let me help you -"

      "No." she said, then bit her lip, as if to take it back. In a softer tone and eyes downcast she added, "May I please see them?"

      "In the morning. You need more rest," He laid a hand on her surrendering shoulder. The Fexplfirst time she had allowed anyone to touch her.

      "How long have I rested already?" she asked, scared of what she might hear.

      "Two nights."

      Kaira gulped hard at the sound of the time. Her heart raced as another thought came to mind. "I didn't finish my chores. I should get out there. I can't let them go undone."

      Cheiron stopped her with an arm at her waist level. "There is no need for that," her body, still exhausted, slumped over interfering limb. "You are still too weak, and tired. Now let me help you back to bed."

      "But what about my work?"

      "It's been taken care of. We managed before your help. Now worry about yourself, so you can take care of your children. They are more important then things being cleaned."

      With his help, she walked back to the table, now that she could see where she was going. "He's been here, hasn't he."

      It was not a question. He stopped and waited for her to settle in, as he held back the blanket for her.

      "Yes."

      He laid the blanket over her and watched her eyes grow more sad and darker then he had ever seen in any eyes. He knew she was more scared.

      "I hope the children have been good. I'm sorry to have been such a burden."

      "You have been no trouble. The children have missed you, and asked for you a lot. But they have behaved."

      "No problems?"

      He adjusted the blanket, and gave her a friendly smile. "Nothing we could not handle. Now don't you worry about a thing. You get some rest, and you can see the children in the morning. I'll check on your bandages then."

      "Thank you."

      Kaira tightened the blanket around her shoulders and felt uncomfortable. She did not know how to handle the centaur's generosity. She was too tired to worry about it . There was more to worry about now. She had lost all hope of leaving. He knew where she was. He had to know. Why else would he have came to the academy?

      "Good night, Kaira. Please know you and the children are safe here."

      "Good night, Cheiron."

      She laid there and listened to his hooves clip clop away. The rhythm was comforting, and lulling. She supposed that he went back to his quarters, for the sounds of his steps kept going farther away. The farther away the sound, the further she drifted back to sleep.

      "Ow," Kaira said putting her hands to her ears. "How did I sleep through the morning bells before?" She blinked her eyes awake, and looked around the dusk lit room. "No wonder I bumped into one table after another. You could care for the whole Corinth army in here."

      The infirmary was filled with table slabs for make shift beds, shelves filled with first aid kits, and cupboards. One was open to show a storage of blankets. It was set up for easy movement, and yet looked crowded.

      A knock at the large double doors turned her attention to their carvings. One side opened and revealed Hercules poking his head in.

      "Morning," the young man chimed with a comforting smile and a quick wave. "Cheiron told me you might be awake, so I thought I'd come and see how you were."

      "Fine, thank you" she pulled the blanket up to her chest to cover herself. The thinner fabric made her uncomfortable. Yet, it was not the only reason why she was uneasy."You're here fast. The morning bells just rang."

      She could not believe she had said the words. Did he think she was questioning why he was here?

      "Sorry," he said with his own nervous tone as he came in. "I didn't mean to come in so early, but Cheiron wanted me ready before the morning bells, so I could check on you first thing."

      He sat at the bottom of her bed. Her eyes told him nothing had changed. She was still scared of everything. Even this morning after a long rest, she was even more frightened. "What's the matter?" he asked, wanting to take her dry, rough hands in his to get her to look at him when she spoke.

      "He knows we are here." her eyes fell to the blanket. The memory of the fact, made her hands shake again.

      "What do you mean?"

      "I know he was here. He came looking for us."

      Her hands shook as they wrung a corner of a blanket.

      "Yes. He was here. But he has no idea that you are."

      "You haven't seen him watching this place from the bushes? The hill, or anywhere?"

      "Nope."

      Something in his voice did not convince her, but she was not going to question him again. She still did not know how to handle his kind smile.

      "It doesn't matter. I have been here long enough and have other things to take care of."

      "You're going back to him? After all that he's done to you and the children?"

      "The children need their father."

      "They don't need a father that beats you or them."

      "He doesn't touch them. I don't allow him to touch them."

      "What about Daniels legs? Is that when you started hiding them?"

      "You don't know what you are talking about."

      "No. I don't. So explain to me why you have to go back."

      Kaira did not know what to say at first. "I have to make this work. For me and for the children. You grew up without your father, Hercules. You should know that children need their father. Now if you'll excuse me. I need to get them and leave before too many questions are asked."

      "Say you do go back. What will happen?"

      Silence was her only answer. He could tell the question made her view the answer. Her eyes stared in horror. Her hands shook as she wrung the blanket.

      "Say you have had enough," Hercules pleaded.

      "And what if I have? There is nothing you could do."

      "It is the beginning step to helping yourself and the kids. All you have to do is say it."

      "Then what? Words don't change anything. They only make it worse."

      "The right words may change it. You just need to say it to the right person."

      "This has gone on for years. Don't you think others have noticed. There was nothing they could do, or wanted to do. There's nothing you can do."

      She stood up and started walking to the door.

      "I can try."

      His words made her stop. She turned her lips in and thought for a second.

      "It's not that easy." She replied after a good silence.

      "It's only as easy as you make it. To accept help, I mean. We all want to help. Iolaus was the one who went to Jason."

      "Their was nothing his father could do either. I doubt I will get any help from King Jason. Now, I need to take the children home."

      "Please. Wait for Jason. He'll be here after lunch."

      Kaira sighed. She did not know what to do. She wanted out so much, she hated herself for thinking of going back.

      The thought of him finding her was terrifying. The things he would do to the kids when she could not protect them, tore at her heart.

      "I thought I could leave. But I see now, I can't."

      "Yes, you can. You just have to say you have had enough."

      "There's more to it then that."

      "Of course there is. But, it's a start. A first step."

      Hercules walked up behind her. He wanted to put a hand on her shoulder, but she had shrugged him away before. He was not sure if she was ready yet. He wanted to let his light touch of compassion give her strength.

      "Please," he whispered. "For the sake of your children."

      She thought for a moment. The picture of her children's faces pushed her to the brink of tears. She hugged herself, and turned toward him. Her eyes stared at the floor. "I have had enough," she whispered.

      He was right. It did feel good to say those words so that someone else could hear them. She looked him in his blue eyes. "I have had enough." she repeated, still in her whisper.

      "Good. So, you'll stay here for awhile?"

      "I will give it a try." Hercules grabbed her hands for a praise, and was glad she did not pull away.

      "Let us get a few things in order. It will take a couple of days, but there are some loose ends I have to tie up."

      "You will come back?"

      She nodded with a small smile. "Can I please see the children now? The sooner we leave, the sooner we can start over."

      "You let her leave?" Jason fumed in Cheiron's office. "You let her go back with the children; putting them back in harm's way."

      "Jason. She said she would come back." Hercules tried to explain.

      "No! She is scared! Now that she has gone, and she probably will not come back."

      His harsh breathing and edgy voice made it seem he might turn into a basilisk. Everyone waited for the spit fire to go with the temper.

      "She'll come back. She just needs a couple of days."

      "And what happens when she goes home, and he's there?"

      "Enough," Cheiron said. He had let Jason make his point. "We have to let it be her decision. She said she wanted some time. It's important to her. Let's give her a chance. She'll come back."

      "Now you two get back to your classes. We'll talk again, later. Right now I want to talk with Jason alone."

      Hercules and Iolaus gave their mumbled agreements, and left. Before shutting the door, they gave a quick look back of sadness. They did not know what else to do. At that time, all they could do was to pray to the gods, in hopes that one would protect their frightened friends.

      "They made the right decision," his former mentor stated a moment after the door closed in silence.

      "How can you say that?" Jason asked. He stared out a window with his own prayer in his heart.

      "She had a taste of freedom and security. Now she'll want more. Hungering for something that feels good for her and the children. She needs our friendship and our example of how people should be treated."

      Jason straightened up. An idea was forming.

      "You're right. She needs to be shown an example of how she needs to be treated, and that she has friends. I have to go. I have a lot to check up on."

      Cheiron nodded. "Take it slow."

      Jason returned the nod, and hurried out to get his plan formed. It was developing so fast it was making him anxious.

      "All right, people. Listen up. I have a few things to ask the few of you." Jason clapped his hands together, as he looked at his gathered messengers. "In front of each of you is a scroll. Only I know what is on them. You are not to discuss your instructions with anyone but me. And you are to do exactly what you are asked. No questions. Let's go to it."

      Hercules and Iolaus thought of Kaira and her family for weeks. They worried things were worse, but respected her wishes for having time. The only thing that eased their minds was the fact that Jason had a plan. Even though they did not know what it was.

      One night, Hercules could not sleep. Something was troubling him, but he could not figure out what. The room felt too cold, yet he sweated. The blanket annoyed him, and no matter which way he laid, he could not get comfortable. He figured he must have had some extra energy to run off. He decided to go for a walk, with hopes that the night air would help him figure out why he could not sleep.

      Out in the clear night sky, the stars and full moon gave enough light to almost think it was day. The fresh air felt good on his tense muscles. He ran both hands through his tousled mop, and stretched.

      "Couldn't sleep either," stated Iolaus's voice.

      The unexpected statement startled the restless young man. Following the voice's direction, he turned his upper body, with hands still in place.

      His friend was sitting on the edge of the well tossing pebbles.

      "No," he sighed, dropping his hands to his side. He turned the rest of his body and walked over to his friend. "I envy anyone who can."

      "I can not believe we haven't heard from anyone." Iolaus sat slouched and looked up to the clear sky. "You're worried about them too, huh?"

      "I haven't been able to stop thinking of them."

      "Sometimes I hear Daniel crying. I don't think I can wait much longer."

      Crashing sounds came from the kitchen. Both jerked their heads towards the sound. Neither of them wasted time wondering what had happened.

      "Hello?" Hercules called as he opened the door.

      "Great, Herc. Greet a burglar."

      Iolaus looked all around the empty room. He saw a candle that had been lit and left burning. It lit where the noise had come from.

      "This is not funny." He called out as he picked up the bowl and replaced the fruit.

      "Iolaus. I'm sure who ever was in here is long-"

      A raised hand signal cut off the last of his statement. The curly haired youth lowered all but one finger as his green eyes searched. They followed everything his ears heard.

      "What?"

      "Shh!"

      Hercules watched his friend take a step toward the pantry. His hand lowered and he continued slow towards the cracked open door. His heart beat hard at the thought of what was on there.

      "Ah ha!" was yelled as the doors swung open.

      Hercules clenched his chest to keep his heart in place with his own jump.

      "Ahhhh!" came a chorus of young screams, followed by the crying of a baby.

      "Daniel?" Iolaus asked, not believing his eyes. He heard Hercules' powering steps behind him, and braced himself against the strong push on his shoulders.

      "Well, Iolaus." Hercules said after a pause of seeing the kids. "I guess you won't be waiting anymore."

      The three dirty, and scared children all huddled together. Daniel and Sera stared up at the young men as Dana's crying became louder.

      "Did they say where their mother was?" Cheiron asked them in a private conversation.

      "No," Iolaus sighed with a side glance at the three shoveling mush into their starving mouths. "They haven't said anything."

      "I think we should go to the house, and check though. Make sure she's all right." Hercules suggested. He held himself. The sight of the three had made him uneasy.

      Cheiron nodded. "After they are settled in, you may go. But right now they are our concern."

      A choking sound from Dana had them all turned. Lilith stood in front of the infant, and watched in panic. She let the infant hold on to her thumbs as she raised her arms over her head and waited for a sigh she was breathing again. "Arms up. Reach. That's it," she coaxed with a smile.

      In return for her help, regurgitated food covered Lilith's bodice. "AH!" She tried to jump back, but Dana held tight, and started to cry, frightened by Lilith's reaction.

      Her three on lookers smirked and tried to hide their laughs. Even Cheiron.

      "I don't know, Lilith. I think mothering does agree with you," Iolaus said with a straight face, before being shot down with a fiery glance.

      His friend had to cover his mouth, but he started an avalanche of laughter. Daniel and Sera joined on, pointing fingers. Iolaus could no longer maintain his cool, and Cheiron gave a chuckle.

      The agitated victim gave a low growl as she grabbed a towel and cleaned up.

      "I think we found you two a babysitter while you look for the mother." the centaur said gaining his composure.

      "Me? No, Cheiron, please."

      "Yes." He walked out with an echo back, "You'll have Theseus to help you."

      "Great." she slammed the towel on the table and startled the children to silence.

      "Easy, Lilith. These kids have been through a lot in the last couple of weeks," Hercules said still controlling his smile. "Don't worry. we'll help you give them a bath before we leave."

      "Oh no. You two are going to do it before you leave, I will have no part of it."

      "Just remember. They sense fear," Iolaus tried in his own not-so helpful way. "That's when the screaming starts."

      "Screaming?" Lilith's eyes shifted as far as they could from side to side as the two stepped behind her.

      "And then there's the diapers," Hercules added. They each laid a hand on her shoulders for mocking support.

      "Diapers?"

      "Uh huh," confirmed Iolaus getting close to her ear. "Who knows how long they've been hiding in here, or what they've been eating. Diapers, on a baby, after fresh fruit. . .You get the picture."

      "Cheiron!" The young girl ran out of the kitchen in the direction she had seen her mentor last.

      "Do you think we should let her know that Sera loves amazon stories?" Hercules thought out loud.

      "Nah. Let her figure it out. I wouldn't want to spoil her fun. It's the least we could do. To say thanks for volunteering us for the job to begin with."

      "Yeah," his friend agreed and looked at the children. Thanks, he thought to himself. He was growing more nervous about Kaira.

      "Your highness. The man you asked about, has been found," came an armor clad solider before King Jason.

      "Where is he?"

      "At a tavern-"

      "Good! I want you to take a few men down and have him arrested. I want to confront the man who can do this to his family!" he hissed through his clenched teeth and held up a scroll

      Cheiron had sent it to him with information about the children. When the young king read it, he became enraged. Now he was going to take action.

      The solider bowed and left. He pointed and called to men to follow. When he left the palace he had a total of five followers.

      Jason sank back into his throne. How he wanted to join his friends in finding the missing mother. Reading the scroll again, it sent a feeling of relief all over again. The children were safe, but Kaira was missing. The young king hoped they found her soon.

      "Kaira!" Iolaus yelled, pushing disarrayed furniture out of his way.

      "Kaira!" his tall friend echoed.

      There was no answer. They kept yelling, looking behind the blankets that divided rooms. They looked under all the turned over furniture.

      "Kaira!"

      "Wait," Hercules remembered something. "She hid the kids when he was angry. What if she's in that hiding place?"

      "Great. But we don't know where she hid them."

      "Start looking for it."

      They started moving more furniture. They tapped the walls, moved rugs, and stomped the floor. Listening, looking for anything that gave a hint of a hiding place.

      "Over here," the young demi-god called.

      They pulled away a heavy rug to a reveal a rope handle. They pulled and removed a large piece of floor. The hole revealed a rope ladder and a musty smell.

      "Kaira!"

      Hercules jumped in and let his eyes adjust a moment. He listened for anything to tell him she was there. "Kaira?" His voice softened and he paused again.

      "Herc. Anything?"

      "Nothing yet. I see a crack of light off one wall. I'm going to check it out."

      Hercules walked with careful steps, encase he were to trip in the dark. As he got to his destination, he found another small rope ladder. He felt the crack where the light came from, and found a door that open with ease. It led outside, towards the dense part of the surrounding forest. He opened it all the way for light, and looked around the room.

      "Iolaus! Get down here. I found her."

      Iolaus gave a low moan from the jump. He looked at to where his friend hunched over the limp figure of Kaira.

      "How is she?" he asked as he knelt down beside them.

      "Pretty bad. I can't tell everything with this bad of light. Help me get her out of here. We'll take that back way."

      He nodded his head towards the door, and moved Kaira.

      At the big movement, she jerked herself wide awake, and started to thrash and squirm her way out of his hold. "No," was all her weak voice could muster.

      "Kaira, Kaira. It's all right. It's Hercules and Iolaus. We're going to get you out of here."

      Hercules could not tell if she exhausted herself back to sleep, or if she had heard him and settled down on her own. Either way, he did not know how much time he had to get her out of there. He put her over his shoulder as gently as he could. Hearing her moans of pain, he became more angry at her husband. No one deserves this. No one, he thought to himself.

      "You have heard the charges against you. What do you have to say for yourself?" asked Jason as the drunk man stood before him. His face tried to disguise the disgust and anger inside him, but not very well.

      "I have done nothing wrong. There is nothing you can do about how I keep my family under control." the man who had made his way to Cheiron's academy slurred as he was held up by one arm, from the hold of a very large guard.

      Jason noticed his left forearm was wrapped in a blood soaked bandage. "That's a lot of blood you have lost there. What happened?"

      The man's face became hateful. "Stupid w-" he stopped himself and thought about the next words out of his mouth. "I must have gotten into a fight. I don't remember."

      The young king sighed in frustration. "Get him out of my sight. Put him in a dungeon until he sobers up. I want him to remember everything that is told to him. And get me a scribe."

      This was a king his guards had never seen before. They snapped to the orders and the large guard seemed to enjoy dragging off the passed out carcass.

      The scribe raced in with his arms full of scrolls, and knelt in front of the tense king. His balancing act was well managed, as his whole body shook.

      "Have you found anything?"

      "Not yet, Sire."

      "Keep looking. There has to be something."

      "With all do respect, Sire. I went through these scrolls for your father. . ."

      "And I want you to go through them again. And again if need be. I need a way to get this handled. If I have to make a new law I will, but I don't need to duplicate one. Please, look for anything."

      The scribe bowed again, and Jason waved his hand in dismissal.

      He had wondered about that. Why his father had gone through the scrolls as well, all those years ago. And what Kaira had meant when she lashed out at him about his father not being able to help her. He knew this all seemed familiar, but he just could not remember. It drove him insane and two nights without sleep.

      "Let me know immediately when the prisoner is sober, and when word comes from Cheiron."

      The guard bowed and made way for Jason to stalk by. There was definite a new tension in the air, and the guard felt it like a building crumbling on his shoulders.

      "Take her to the infirmary, immediately," said Cheiron as he escorted the two young men with the unconscious woman.

      Hercules had carried her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. It was the only position she would give any sign of comfort.

      Now, he laid her down on her old slab, and hurried to get things he knew would be needed.

      "What else can I do to help.?" he asked with a slight out of wind voice.

      "Go tell Jason what is happening and see what news he has," Cheiron instructed.

      "But what about helping you?"

      "Feducious can help me. You can't be around the children in this state. You'll only scare them more. Now go, and run off some of your worry. Hurry back with his news."

      At first, Hercules only stood and watched the strong centaur go to work. He did not want to leave her there. His worry was unbearable. Then Iolaus' hand came to his shoulder.

      "Come on, Herc. Cheiron is right. With as much as you are worried about her, we're no good here. Let's see what Jason has come up with."

      The tall blond did not answer. He turned and left with his friend. At the door he gave one look back. When Chieron did not stop his examination, the youth sighed and closed the door behind him.

      "I was wrong to let you leave," Cheiron whispered, not stopping his work. His stomach twisted in knots, and thought it to be a miracle that she was still alive.

      Lilith caught the two young men on their way out."Whoa. Where do you two think you are going?"

      "Cheiron wants us to run an errand to Jason," Iolaus responded and tried to get away with that, but it wasn't not that easy.

      "Run an errand to Jason? Then you found her. Is she all right?"

      "She's alive," said Hercules crossing his arms across his chest, and looking back to the infirmary's closed doors.

      "So now, you get to leave again? No way! Do you know what I have gone through here? They have not stopped crying and screaming since you left. I'm going insane here. You two go take care of them, and I'll go see Jason."

      "I don't think so." Iolaus gave his friend a look of strength to keep him from rushing in to see the kids.

      "That's right. Because I know so. You have to get them to stop screaming."

      "They'll cry themselves to sleep soon," Hercules said in a flat tone. "Try telling them a story. They like stories. If you tell Sera you're an Amazon, she'll warm up to you right away."

      "Why didn't you tell me that before you left?"

      "We knew you could handle it."

      Iolaus gave her a smile and patted her shoulder as Hercules walked on out.

      "Handle it? Does it look like I'm handling it?"

      "Lilith! She threw up on me again!" came Theseus' voice in the back room.

      Lilith turned towards his voice, and turned back to her friends. They were gone. With a sigh of frustration, she stomped back to the room where the kids were screaming.

      "Who wants to hear an amazon story?"

      All went silent, except for the shuddering sobs from Sera. She sat with her fingers in her mouth. They were covered in slobber and her cheeks washed in tears.

      "What do you know. It worked." Lilith relished at the moment of silence, and then walked in the room.

      "While you tell the story. I need to go clean up."

      "Wait. Just take a towel and wipe it off."

      Theseus put Daniel down off his lap. "It's not just the throw up."

      Lilith had to cover her mouth to keep a smirk hidden at the sight of the wet spot on his leg. "You'd better take him with you."

      "I'm not in trouble, am I?" Daniel shrunk back from them.

      "No. No, Bud. But this is not comfortable. Come on let's go get cleaned up."

      Daniel took his hand and held it close and tight. He started to put his own fingers in his mouth. "We'll come right back?"

      "Yep."

      "And will Hercules and Iolaus be back with Mommy then?"

      Lilith looked up at Theseus as Sera climbed on her lap and cuddled into her. With her thumb in her mouth and a finger twirling her hair, she quieted down even her shudders.

      "They will be back as soon as they can," Lilith tried to reassure the young boy. "As soon as I can tell you something, I will."

      "Do you think Mommy is okay?"

      "I'm sure she is just fine. And you'll be seeing her soon."

      "Shall we go get cleaned up?" Theseus led his dependant out side to the wash basin.

      "So she's okay?" Jason asked in his room, after his good friends told him the story of where they had found her and what had happened.

      "Alive anyway," said Iolaus, leaning against the pole to the canopy bed. "She was a little confused when we tried to get her out of there. I think she was trying to defend herself should it have been him that found her."

      "I'm glad she's found," the king began, but before he could go on, a guard gave a knock on the door.

      "Sire, the prisoner is asking for you."

      "Thank you. I think you two should listen in on this one."

      The trio walked down to the dungeons. Hercules and Iolaus stayed in the hallway, and listened through the closed door.

      "Why am I here?" asked an angry voice inside.

      "Disrupting the bar," Jason lied. Until he had proof of the law, he had no legal ground for keeping him here.

      "No. I remember you. You were trying to tell me how to handle my family."

      "No. I was telling you that you have hurt people, and I am bringing charges against you."

      "You can't do that. It's inside the privacy of my own house. Your old man didn't do anything about it. And I know the laws have not changed for you to be able to do anything yet either."

      "Tell me about that. How my father could not help your wife."

      "So she did not run to you about it. Tell me how you found out about her, and I'll tell you what you want to know."

      "You think this is a negotiation?"

      "You want information? So do I! I have the right to know what my family is doing with the King!"

      "Right now, you have no rights. From what I have seen in those young eyes. . .and what I have seen in the actions of that young lady. . .As far as I am concerned you have no rights. Just like a dog. Now tell me about my father."

      "Ask her. Ask her about it. I know she remembers that day. It was the worst day of her life."

      Jason wanted to smack his smirk right off his arrogant face.

      "Now. I believe you have to let me go. The charges against me, have no legal grounds. And if my family is not at my home, I will hunt them down. I will find them and there will be hell to pay for these allegation."

      Jason could control himself no longer. He grabbed the scum by the collar of his neck, and threw him up against the wall. His heavy breath was in the unintimidated man's face. "You touch anyone ever again, and I will throw the ax at you myself!"

      The young king pushed the man against the wall again, and walked out. "He stays here."

      "But your maj-" stared one guard.

      "That's an order," Jason's voice echoed back from where he and friends walked out.

      "You can't keep me here. And you can't stop me. There are no laws against me."

      "Shut up," said the guard as he locked the thick door.

      "He's right, Jason," Hercules dreaded saying the truth.

      "You can't let him out. You heard what he said. He'd hunt them down. And the academy's the first place he'd look," said Iolaus.

      Jason paced and thought for a moment. "No. I have to let him go. There's no way I can keep him here if I am to keep my people's trust. And there's no way I can arrest him after the law is found or goes through, unless he does it again. And I'm not about to let that happen.

      "I've made some arrangements with people to help. No one knows where except for me and the people involved. There is a place the children can go, and I can keep Kaira here. There are people who are on the lookout for him, and advising me of everything he does."

      "Can they be trusted to handle the children? They don't take to strangers real well." Hercules pointed out.

      "Herc. I trust this place, like I trust your own mother." Jason smiled as he was calmer now and sent for the messengers he had trusted before. "I need you to make arrangements to bring her here as soon as she is ready to travel. Iolaus is right. The academy is the first place he'll look."

      "We'll let you know."

      "No. Just bring her here as a delivery for the kitchen. From there I can handle it. Don't send word of when, just do it. The fewer people in this the less gossip going on, and the safer they'll be. I'll send for the children tomorrow."

      "What do you want us to tell them is going on?"

      "Tell them, they're going to Grandma's house. Just make it a game."

      "I want my mommy!" Daniel screamed. His tantrum was new thing to them. "I want her now!"

      "Daniel," Iolaus said as he came down to the boys height. "Mommy is all right. But we have to get you ready to go see Grandma."

      "I don't have a grandma."

      "She's pretending. You like games. I know she does too."

      "You don't know where we are going!"

      "No." He had Iolaus there."But you trust me don't you? And you know that I wouldn't let anyone hurt you. King Jason has made these arrangements for you and your sisters' safety."

      "Why can't I see my mommy?"

      At that his sisters joined in their scared tantrums.

      Iolaus looked back at Cheiron and questioned him.

      The centaur nodded and walked towards the infirmary.

      "We're going to go and see her right now. But I want to warn you, she's very hurt, so be careful around her and know we're taking good care of her. Do you trust me?"

      Daniel gave a sulked look at his friend. "Yes," he pouted.

      "All right," Iolaus took his small hand and lead the way.

      Hercules carried Dana, and Lilith walked with Sera.

      The walk to the infirmary was silent, but the kids were anxious. They did not know how long it had been since they had seen their mother, but they knew that they missed her, and were anxious for her loving touch.

      "Mommy?" Daniel whispered as the door opened. "Mommy?'

      "Shhh. She's sleeping over there," Hercules said.

      Dana looked at him and mimicked his finger to mouth. "Sssssss." she tried.

      He gave her smile, and hugged her close. The feeling of her tiny arms laced around his neck, returning the emotion, warmed his heart.

      "Mommy!" Sera said as she dropped Lilith's hand and ran to where her mother laid. She found a stool to climb up on, so she could be at the table's height.

      "Mommy?" She petted her mother's hair out of her face and traced a bruise on her face.

      Kaira opened her eyes and smiled at her daughter. "Hey, Baby. What are you doing?"

      "We came to see you before we went to Grandma's house," Daniel said as he climbed up next to her. "I've missed you." he laid his head on her chest, and stayed there as if he wanted to go to sleep.

      "Grandma? What's going on?" she asked and looked at the bunch on the other side of the room. She tried not to show the children were hurting her wounds. It did not matter, now that they were there with her.

      "It's a safe place set up by Jason. It's only for a while." Hercules explained.

      "How long is a while? I don't know this person, and I'm suppose to trust them to my children?"

      "If you trust Jason."

      He brought Dana over to her, and Iolaus helped her sit up. She gave moans of pain from the different wounds, bruises, and broken bones. "How did I get here?"

      "We brought you," said Hercules. "And tomorrow you will be moved to another safe place."

      "I won't be going with the children?"

      "No. It's safer that way. If you don't know exactly where they are, and they don't know where you are. We're going to get you better and get you out of this."

      "Can I have just a few minutes with the children?"

      Cheiron came up and put another table by hers. "Of course. I will stay in here and help you with the children. You are not well enough to take care of them by yourself."

      The friends said their goodnights and left the room. The next time they saw the kids, was when they helped set up beds along side Kaira's. They would not see their mother for a while after that night, and did not want to leave her.

Act Two

      "Delivery for King Jason," said Iolaus as he pulled the wagon up to the back door.

      "There are no deliveries today," said a guard looking in the baskets of fruit and material.

      "This is a special delivery that he has been expecting." Hercules recognized the guard as the one from the dungeons. He gave him a knowing nod towards a big black wool blanket.

      "Go on then. And make it quick. The King has a busy day today."

      Iolaus drove the wagon on, but his friend looked back and watched the guard give orders to another who hurried on out. "I have a funny feeling about this."

      "Shhh. Don't scare her anymore."

      Iolaus found out that he did not need to worry. Their package had slept the whole way there. It had been a lonely few days for her after the platoon of five guards came and got the children, to escort them to a meeting place with the caretaker. She was not ready to move quite yet, but they were worried about him finding her at the Academy. She feared it too.

      Kaira woke up in a soft bed. A softness she had never felt. It was warm and cozy. A new feeling of comfort, and security. Yet the security made her feel awkward. She new that there was no way that he would have ever fashioned this kind of comfort for her. She blinked her eyes open and stretched with the most pain she had ever felt.

      "Glad to see you awake," came a familiar face from the door. "How do you feel?"

      "Where am I?" she asked as she watched King Jason walk across the room moving things around and bringing in new things from outside the door.

      "You are my guest here. This is where you will stay until you are better and we can help you figure out what you want to do."

      "I want to be with my children." she groaned as she sat up.

      "Oh, no. Please don't sit up yet. You have a nasty bump on your head."

      "Why here?"

      "So I can keep an eye on you."

      "Why not the academy?

      "He would look there for you. Here you are well protected. And I have arranged it."

      He sat on the bed and gave her a warm smile. "Everything will be fine." he assured her.

      "You don't know him."

      "He would be a fool to try to hurt you here."

      "That doesn't mean he won't try."

      "Well, rest easy. Try as he may, he won't get through. I'm going to let you get some more rest, and when you feel better, we will talk more. If you need anything, my room is three doors down."

      "I don't need anything, except my children."

      "They are well taken care of as well. Now, sleep. You need your rest."

      "I'm not used to this luxury. I would be more comfortable on the floor."

      "No you wouldn't. The floor is covered in freezing stone. Besides. How are you going move to the floor with two heavy splints?"

      She looked at her bandages, and saw what he had meant with one of her arms and the opposite leg. With determination, she tried to move, but her head grew heavy and dizzy. A lift of her good hand, felt a bandage around it.

      "If you want to sleep on the floor, you're more then welcome to, but you'll have to get down there yourself. And I do promise you the cobbled stones are cool and very uncomfortable. Now lay back and get some rest."

      Kaira did as she was told, and let the softness of the canopy bed lull her to sleep.

      Jason came back at supper time. As he entered the room, his guest was not in her bed. He set down the food on the floor and looked around. On the other side of the bed, he found her splinted leg, sticking out from under the bed. He gave a relieved sigh and smiled. "So you did decide to sleep down there?"

      The king picked back up the food and went to the shelved widow sill. He started fixing a plate, when he noticed she had not yet moved. "You awake down there? I'd hate to eat all this food by myself."

      He finished banging the serving ware and dishes. Looking behind him, he saw that she had pulled her other limb in with her.

      "Kaira? You all right?"

      He could hear her crying. Becoming worried about her, he bent down to see if he could see her.

      Under the bed, she was into a tight fetal position with her eyes wide open. "He's out there." she whispered. It was so low, he almost did not hear her.

      "Who?" Jason looked around, but did not get off his knees.

      "Him. The one who did this to me."

      "Kaira. I am the only one here. I've brought you some dinner. I hope you're hungry. There is an awful lot here."

      "He'll see me." Her whisper was getting softer. He could barely make out her shutters.

      "Would you like me to go to the window and look out? Would that help you feel better?"

      "No. He'll see you, and do the same to you."

      "What would make you feel better?"

      "I can't ask."

      "Why not?"

      "I don't want to make you angry."

      "You won't. Ask anything. I promise, no one will become angry."

      Kaira looked away from her focal point she had been staring at with wide eyes, to his. "Stay with me?"

      Jason gave her a warm smile of humor. "That's it? That's all you ask?"

      She looked back at her focal point and swallowed hard. Her whole body shook worse then he had every seen.

      "I told you that floor was cold." he tried to humor. When she did not look at him again, he pulled a blanket from the bed, and tried to cover her.

      Her splinted hand laid on his, and her eyes begged him, when he looked at her.

      "I can stay with you. That's a simple request. Just let me move to the other side of the bed, and get comfortable. You hungry?"

      She shook her head, and put weight his hand, since her fingers could not bend.

      "Well, I am. I'll bring over the plates, get on the other side, and sit with you." Her hand increased it's pressure. "I promise, I'm not going to leave you." She still did not move her hand. "I promise, Kaira. I will stay with you until you feel more safe."

      She removed her stiff arm and pulled it back under the bed. Her eyes were still wide and wild with fear. She stared at him and watched his feet move back to the window sill.

      When she saw him head for the door, her heart sank and she went back to her staring spot. The far post leg of the bed.

      Not even a minute later, he was back. Behind her head, on the other side of the bed, as he had promised. On the floor he laid a blanket, and two plates. The young king laid on his side on the blanket, and used one hand to eat, the other for balance.

      "See. I told you I would stay with you."

      "Why?"

      "Why what?"

      "Why are you helping me?"

      "Because you need it. I can't very well sleep at night knowing that whenever he comes home, that you are hurt, scared, and in danger, and so are the kids. I don't like it, and until I find out what I can do legally to help you, I thought I would offer you a safe place to hide. And I can see you're very good at it. When I first came in, I could not find you."

      Kaira did not laugh. She only looked at him, with her head tilted backwards and watched him eat the leg of a roasted animal.

      "This is very good. A little spicy. But good. You should try some. Get your strength up."

      She shook her head and looked away. Her mouth watered and her stomach grumbled, but she was too scared to eat.

      "So how did you get down there?"

      "I fell."

      "What? Off the bed, or did you try to get up again?"

      "I had a nightmare, and fell out of the bed. I hid under here, and felt safe."

      Jason nodded his head, as he looked around. "I use to hide under this bed too, when I had nightmares. This was my mothers room, when my father was out of the castle. She said their bed felt too empty without him and so she slept in here. Right next door.

      "I remember when my father was gone, the nightmares would come to me of him being killed. I would run in here and hide. She didn't have to be in here. Just knowing this was her room was enough for me. Even after she died.

      "My father couldn't find me one night, and had the guards everywhere. He was so frightened that I had been kidnaped or runaway." Jason smiled, and chuckled at the memory. "You should have seen his face when he found me in here, asleep, after hours of search. He didn't know what to do. All he could do was chuckle in tears and hug me. He was great."

      Kaira gave him a smile. "I'm glad you have warm memories of your parents like that."

      "Yeah. But you don't have warm memories about my father. Care to talk about it?"

      She tilted her head down, and out of his sight. "You don't remember, do you?" came her muffled voice.

      "I was there?"

      There was no answer.

      He waited a moment longer, then slid his body closer to the bed. He heard her breath, even and deep. Her body, usually tense around anyone who spoke to her, was limp, and still. Not a shake or shiver. "Kaira?"

      She had gone to sleep with her good hand above her head. Jason smiled at her, and shook his head. "That's one way of getting out of a conversation."

      After he finished his dinner, he pushed his plate aside and wiped his hands. He had promised to stay with her, and that was what he intended to do. As he laid down, he took her good hand in his and fell asleep holding it.

      Later in the night he awoke to her voice in the room. "Daniel?" she was whispering loud, as though she was trying not to wake anyone. "Sera? Come on out. It's ok. Bring Dana too."

      "Kaira?" Jason rubbed his eyes with the thumb joints of his palms and looked under the bed. He saw her trying to crawl across the floor. "Kaira. What's the matter?"

      "I have to find the children. They're scared. I want to hold them and tell them it's ok."

      She was crawling on the floor, dragging her splinted leg, and her splinted arm was curled under her. She was awake, and she was looking around under a oversized table runner. "Daniel, come to Mommy, honey. You can stop crying now."

      "Kaira," Jason said as he came to her side. "The children are not here. Remember?"

      "But they need me."She was starting to cry as she struggled to sit up. "They are crying and scared. They need me to comfort them."

      "I promise you, they are safe, and the person watching them is good at that. I would trust no other. Come back to bed, now. You need more rest."

      "I don't want to sleep. He's there. He wants to torment me more."

      "Kaira. I don't know how to comfort your fears. I don't know how to take away the pain. I don't even know what I'm doing that is helping. All I know is that right now, you are here, in this palace, with a well guarded room, and you children are safe too. I have seen to it. And I know that if you are to get your strength up to take care of them, you need your rest." He took a chance at taking her hand.

      She looked down at his hand and stared. "You were there."

      "Where?" he asked getting comfortable beside her.

      "In my dream. You were there. You fought him, and won, but then it went back. . .back to when I saw King Aeson."

      "And what did he do?"

      "He was standing out on the balcony. He received a warm welcome home from a peace treaty signing. Assuring us that we were safe. You stood next to him. So tall and so proud. He was so much your hero.

      "I was pregnant with Daniel, and had been beaten so bad, I started to worry about the baby. This is not the life I wanted to give it, and after he came to me, things only became worse.

      "I was in the crowd. I had run from his side, to yell and scream at the king to get his attention. It took a lot to dodge him, and get through the more crowded parts. I yelled and pleaded with King Aeson to spare the life of my child. I cried my heart out and had his full attention. He listened as long as I had, before he grabbed me.

      "He told the king that I had been drinking and that I had fallen, and gone delirious. But I was sane, and sober. I was standing next to a guard who took pity on me. He told your father that there was no alcohol on my breath, or on my clothes. He was ordered to be restrained so that I could speak."

      "I remember now," said Jason. He was wide eyed at the memory she described. "You were so scared, and pleading for not your life at all. Just the baby's. My father said he would look into seeing what he could do. Your husband was detained at that time so that you could go home. I never found out what happened after that."

      "Nothing happened. He came home after a few nights, and told me to pack his things. He was scared and nervously looking behind him. That's when we moved to the forest. He sold our stuff in a city miles away until the king had died. Then he thought it would be better business to sell in Corinth again."

      "If he escaped from the dungeons, wouldn't the guards have recognized him?"

      "He told me there was nothing that anyone could do for me. And nobody was going to help me. This was my life, and I was so pathetic that he was the only one who took pity on me enough to let me be his wife."

      "Why didn't you try to escape when he sold in the other cities?"

      "I did. And each time he found me, and got worse."

      Kaira licked her dry lips, and kept her stare at his kind hand.

      "Let me get you a drink. You've had nothing since you arrived."

      Jason let go of her hand to stand and go to the table he had put their supper on. He turned back and sat, as he handed her a goblet.

      "What's in it?" She asked noting an aroma that was familiar to her.

      "It's wine."

      Kaira handed back the cup with a forced smile. "No thank you."

      "Where's my head?" he said smacking himself upside his forehead. "You don't need that on an empty stomach, and as sick as you are. Let me go get you some water."

      "No. Please. I don't want to be alone."She grabbed his hand back, but let go as soon as he looked at her. Her eyes went to the floor, and her shaking started again."Forgive me. I forgot my place."

      Jason stood a moment, to go to the door. He looked at her scared face, and thought better of the idea. He sat back down beside her, and took her hand. "No. It's okay. If you need my hand you've got it." He tried to look in her eyes. "I assure you, Kaira, you are not pathetic. You are a strong woman. I've seen in it your protecting your children. You're going to get through this."

      "If I leave him, I'll be on the run with my children for the rest of my life."

      The look in her eyes told him that she believed that as if it were written on the wall, and the man was chained to her.

      "If you leave him, you can give your children a better life. If you stay, you or one of them may be killed."

      Kaira was silent for a long moment. She coughed from her dry throat, and looked at his kind face, his loaned hand, and his safe surroundings he was offering her.

      "I'm so tired of it all. I don't want Daniel to think that this is how to be a father, or the girls to think this is what a husband is. But I don't want to run with them either. He's a tracker and a great one. He'll find a way to win this."

      "Tell me about his arm."

      Kaira's eyes became the widest and filled with most fear he had seen yet. "You've seen him? Here?"

      "I had him arrested earlier. But I couldn't hold him, yet. When I asked him about his arm, he started to say one thing, then sobered a little and told a different story. Did you do it?"

      She was so scared. Her whole body shook. She could not figure out what scared her more. The thought that he had been there, or the thought of telling the story. "I did it. But I promise it was in total defense. I had to give the kids time to get to the cellar. So I took a knife out, and before I thought about it, I brought it at him. He blocked it with his arm. That's when it all started. I didn't mean to."She was crying loud, and was speaking fast.

      Jason dared to give her a hug to calm her down. She kept repeating she was sorry.

      "Shh. It's ok. I believe you. If you ask me, he deserved it. But that's me as your friend, and not your king."

      She buried her face in his shoulder and cried her self back to sleep.

      When Jason felt her sobs cease, and her body limp, he carefully picked her up and took her to the bed. "He deserved it."

      After tucking her in, he went to the door. "I need that scribe in my chambers directly after breakfast." He told a guard. "I'll be staying in here tonight, so knock when breakfast is ready, and bring in some water."

      The guard nodded, with a straight stern look on his face, and off he went, to get some water.

      No questions asked, and no look of suspicions.

      Iolaus and Hercules sat in their history class and were able to pay about as much attention as they did when they did not know where Kaira and the children were. Now they knew they were safe, but it made it worse, because there was nothing they could do.

      "Hercules," Feducious almost sang to get the youth's attention. "What is the toll for the River Styx?"

      "Isn't that a little kid question?" the young man asked with a look of disbelief on his face.

      "Yes. Well, since you have the attention span of that age, I thought I would ask you the question. The answer please."

      "One coin."

      He sighed and slumped in his seat, with his arms crossed and stared back out the window.

      "May I see you and your depressed twin outside. Now."

      He and Iolaus got up and followed the irritated teacher out of the classroom, ignoring the whispers and buzz, and questions.

      "Mind telling me what this is all about?" he asked with his arms crossed in frustration. His only answer was two deep sighs and eyes to the ceiling. "This about your friends you were worried about when she was missing. Now you know she is safe, and yet your mood has not changed. Care to tell me the problem?"

      Iolaus shrugged his shoulders. "We just feel like there's something we should be doing to help. Maybe go and find her husband and make sure he's not trying to find her, or the kids. Maybe tail him to see if there is something we can pin on him, NOW, so that Kaira can live her life without fear."

      "So you think she is still in danger? How can she be in danger with her being where she is, and with as many guards as there are. She is safe, and I can assure you the children are as well. Now get in there, and get on with your lives. And if I see you drifting away from the study again, I will hit you with more extra chores and an exam worth half your grade. Am I clear?"

      "Yes, sir," they moaned together.

      "Good. Now let's get back to class, children."

Act Three

      That night in their bunks, Iolaus and Hercules were trying to work on some make up homework. "We've got to go and check up on her," said Hercules tossing down his quill and smudging his scroll.

      "Are you crazy, you heard Feducious. I can not afford an exam right now worth half my grade."

      "At least you'll see Jason more."

      "Ha ha." Iolaus was not amused. "There is no way I can afford it right now. We have a break coming up in a few days. We'll go then. But not before."

      "I can't just sit here."

      "And you think I like it? I can barely sleep! But I'm not risking having my butt thrown in jail. Let's just wait till the break. Maybe we'll even stop out and see your mom."

      "Why would we do that?"

      "Just something that Jason said." Iolaus picked up his scroll, ink and quill and stuffed it under his bunk. "Good night."

      "Lights out, cadets," came Cheiron's voice from the hall outside the dorm.

      Kaira woke to the sound of dishes rustling again. She sat up in the bed that had been her home for the past week, and looked over in the direction of the sound. There was King Jason, serving up food into the wooden dishes, as he did for each meal. He had kept his promise to stay with her through her rough time of adjustment, and she could ask for nothing more. They had told stories, and laughed. He had held her when she cried. He gave her privacy when nature called, and never did he speak a harsh word, or frown on her. He was so different then anyone she had ever known, and different from any King she had ever known.

      The young king balanced two bowls and two cups in his strong hands, and turned to see his guest staring at him. The unexpected fact that she was awake startled him, and he almost dropped his dishes. When he regained his balance he was happy to see her smile at his juggling act. "Good morning," he said as he cleared his throat and brought her food over.

      "Good morning," she answered still smiling at him.

      "You slept better last night. This is good."

      "Thank you," she said as he handed her the bowl and cup. "Yes. Last night I guess just got the best of me. I don't remember anything but the softness of the bed."

      "Good."

      "That means today, you can forget about me, and go back to doing your duties. I'm sure things have piled up."

      "Just because you had one goodnight of sleep does not mean that I can leave you just yet."

      "You have other things to do then take care of me. Please, go. I promise I'll be fine."

      Jason looked at her with a big grin, then shook his head, and laughed.

      "What?" she asked, fearing she said something wrong.

      "You. When I first came to academy to check out what was happening that had my friends in an uproar, you refused to even look at me, and now look at you. You talk to me as I had wished for you to do ever since that day."

      "And how is that?"

      "Like a friend." he gave another small laugh and went back to eating.

      Kaira took a few more bites looking at him, and deciding who he really was. "You sure are unlike any King I've known, that's for sure."

      Jason finished his mush, and wiped his mouth before putting his bowl aside. "And how many kings have you known?"

      "Quite a few," she answered. She smiled at his look of disbelief and nodded. "My father died when I was young, so my mother and I traveled a lot to find work. She taught me how to sew, and how to bargain with people on what we sold and the materials we bought."

      "Where is she now?"

      Kaira looked back at her bowl. "She died before I was married."

      "I'm sorry." Jason looked away from her and felt uncomfortable.

      "She was in the same predicament as I am."

      He turned back to her with shock on his face. No wonder she was so frightened of everyone. She had been through this twice in her life."Why didn't she leave?"

      "That's what killed her. She did, to protect me. And he found us. He beat her. . . "

      Her voice trailed off to the memory. Her mother lying on the floor, her frail body all curled up and trying to hide under her arms. She could see herself running up to the man and beating on him to get him to stop. Then she remembered being thrown through the air, and into a wall.

      "What happened to him?"

      "Nothing. He just went off and found someone else. He acted as if she never existed."

      "I won't let that happen to you." He took her hand into his and gave her a smile of encouragement. "I promise with everything I have, you and your children are safe, as long as you let me protect you."

      "Thank you," she smiled at him, the best she could. But she could not tell him her fears that her mother's death had brought on. "Now, go. You have much work to do."

      "Are you sure you are all right?"

      "I will be fine. Now go and do your duty to your people. They need you too."

      Jason took her dishes and his back to the tray. "I will call the ladies so that you might get a bath today."

      "Do I stink?" she asked with a small look of teasing shock .

      "No. No I didn't mean that. I thought that since you were felling better, it might help you out even more." Jason was a little embarrassed at his blunder. "If you don't want one, I won't. . ."

      "A bath does sound nice." she smiled. "Thank you."

      Jason caught her little joke and smiled back, and left the room with the tray and dishes.

      "The King is busy. He has no time for childish games," gruffed a guard as he let a few people through the entrance and then blocked the way of the king's two best friends.

      "We're here to see him about an important matter," said Iolaus.

      "So are all these other people. What makes your matter more important?"

      Before Iolaus could lose his mouth to the guard, Hercules stepped forward. "We're here to actually check in on his guest. We would like to visit with them today."

      "Wait here." The guard beckoned for another to come to him, and then he whispered something in his ear. The other guard nodded and disappeared inside as the first kept his post and said nothing to the boys.

      Inside King Jason was wishing he had had another day off. All the trials brought before him were not able to keep his attention. As he heard a disputed argument over a thief, the guard who had been whispered to came in and whispered in his ear.

      His arguing audience watched as their king went from a fake interest into a brightened mood. He nodded his head and waved his hand. As he straightened his posture, he looked at the frustrated people before him. "If one man is hungry and you have spare food, what says that you can't share. Does not the palace share to those in need as well?"

      "Yes your majesty, but. . ."

      "And why do you think we do it? Because we're expected to take care of our people, right? So because I am the king and have food to spare, that means that I should be the only one to do so and you can not?"

      "No your majesty, that's not the problem. This man stole."

      "He said he had asked for a spare bread from you the day before and yet you shooed him away when you gave your stale and dried pieces to the birds. How is it that you can afford to feed the birds, but not a fellow man in need? We do not only give food here as a charity, we're trying to set an example. Because you did not help this man when he asked, and have wasted my time and food, you are to give him two days meals for four people. That is all."

      Jason got up and walked out of the room.

      "Your majesty. There are more people here to see you. You have not seen them for several days," a guard pointed out to him as he left the chambers.

      Jason gave a sigh. "I know that I have neglected them for the sake of one. . ." he looked back at the long line that was formed in the room behind him. "Just give me a few minutes to check up on her and to talk to my friends. After that, we will proceed."

      The guard nodded and was about to walk back to the throne room, when a loud scream came from the end of the hallway.

      "Your majesty! Your Majesty! She's gone!" came one of the castle's maids.

      "What? Where is she?"

      "I am not sure, Your Majesty. She said she could tend to herself and when I came back with dry towels, she was gone. I was only out for a few minutes."

      "Have you seen anyone else through these halls?"

      "No one."

      Jason ran to the room where the wash basin had been set up for his guest, and saw the water tracks lead out the back door. He followed them to another door that led to the gardens. As he looked out he saw her in the new clothes he had ordered for her, hobbling slowly down a stone path, and watching the birds fly. He gave a relieved and humored smile.

      "Set up extra guards around the courtyard, and escort my friends in here." he walked out to her, and took her hand, startling her.

      "Oh, my King. You. . . I didn't hear you coming."

      "Why are you out here all alone?"

      "I needed some fresh air and your gardens looked so beautiful from the washroom, I had to come out and see."

      Jason smiled as he looked around at the gardens. "This was my father's engagement gift to my mother. It almost went to ruin after her death, but he decided to save it. Almost like keeping a piece of her here with us." he looked around a moment with her, and then cleared his throat and back to his train of thought. "Uh, Hercules and Iolaus are here. I thought I would send them out here to keep you company, while I finish my with my work. I thought you might like the company."

      "Do you think they've seen the children?" Her face lit up so, that he hated to tell her no.

      He looked at the ground and shook his head. "I never told them where they were being cared for." He looked back up at her. "I wanted the least amount of people to know."

      Kaira nodded and gave a forced smile. She had hoped with all her heart that there was news of the kids or a message that they loved her and missed her. "I understand. So where are your friends?"

      He knew she was hurt. She could not hide her pain, or her shifty eyes. He knew she was looking for him. Looking to see if he was watching for her. Shaking at the thought that he could be.

      "Yeah. Herc, and Iolaus should be in here at any moment." Her eyes kept looking past him, though she tried not to show it. He thought he would try to reassure her. "They'll be the only ones allowed in here. There are guards all around outside the walls, and inside also. So stop worrying."

      "I'm not worried. . .I guess I am a little. It's habit. It probably will be all my life."

      "That'll change. I promise this will be over as soon as we can find something. If I make a new law, I'd have to wait for him to do it again to arrest him. That's something I won't let happen. I'm really looking into the fact that of he may have escaped from the dungeon when you first came to my father."

      "I couldn't stay here knowing he was in the dungeon. I'd go nuts, knowing that he escaped once, he could do it again."

      "Kaira. I promise you, I will protect you. "

      "You may be the King, your majesty, but you're not invincible. You don't know him. He will find me, and if he's done something once, he's bound to do it again, no matter how he promised he wouldn't."

      She hobbled away towards a small bush of roses.

      "Your Majesty! Your Majesty!" came an out of breath scribe towards him. "I think I found something."

      Jason looked from the small man, to his guest, and back. "Are you sure?"

      "Please, come and look at this. I think I may have a way to solve this."

      "Wait here for the guys. I'll let you know as soon as possible."

      King Jason walked back inside, and walked right past the guard from the throne room. "I'll dismiss the others for tomorrow."

      "Thank you," Jason's voice trailed back to the sighing man.

      He looked out at Kaira and gave her a reassuring smile. "Everything will be all right."

      The young women returned the smile, and returned her attention to the beauty of the garden. It was peaceful, and she almost relaxed, when she saw a shadow cross over the far wall. Her heart pounded, and her hands trembled as she watched where she had seen it.

      She waited to see if it came back, or if another shadow near it, moved again. When nothing happened, she started walking towards it. "Hello? Who's there?" She called encase it was one of the guards.

      Nothing. No response, no more movement. Her heart would not stop, no matter how hard she tried to convince herself that it was her own paranoia getting to her.

      Then the bushes rustled. She hobbled closer. Her head was telling her to run, and get someone, encase it was trouble, but her feet would not listen. She looked over her shoulder, in hopes that Hercules and Iolaus were there to give her something else to concentrate on. But they were not yet.

      With a sigh of confidence, she continued. Her eyes were wide, in hopes of increasing her peripheral vision. Her footsteps were soft, and careful, so not to make a sound, to let him know that she thought he was there. Her hands she good hand held her skirt, and the splinted one was weighted down by it's bandage.

      She neared the bushes that had rustled, near the wall the shadow had crossed, and heard her heart pound in her ears, wishing it was her feet pounding to get away. Something glimmered in the light, and caught her eye. She walked over, and looked around to see if she could see anyone. There was no one. Not even a sight of a guard. She figured she would be able to see something of a guard. The Corinthian Army was made up of big men. But there was nothing.

      She got better sight of the glimmer and her heart almost jumped out of her chest. Her breath froze in her throat, and her hand froze, almost ripping the fabric in it's clenched fist. Her legs locked, not daring to move, for fear she might make a sound, and he would reveal his cruel self to her.

      "Hey, there you are, Kaira. We were looking for you."

      Hercules' voice sounded so far away. She stayed froze, and even ignored his hand on her shoulder when he came over to see why she had not acknowledged her.

      "Kaira, you all right?"

      "Hey, Herc. Look," came Iolaus' voice as the youth followed her stare, and picked up a silver necklace, with a round pendent on it.

      "What's that?"

      "His," Kaira hissed in her forced whisper. She followed it as Iolaus held it up.

      "You sure?" Hercules asked her as he tried to walk in her view so he could get her to look at him. All he saw was her fear. She almost stared right through him, to the pendant. "I made for him, when I told him I was pregnant with Daniel."

      They almost did not hear her words. She did not move from where she stood, as the two young men looked around the garden. They too were wondering where the guards were.

      "She said it was his," Iolaus said as he paced in front of the king. "We had to carry her in, to get her to move. She was stiff as a statue with fear. Where were the guards?"

      "They were there, and said they saw nothing," Jason said as he sat on his bed and examined the pendent. An engraved picture of a infant inside a heart was his focus.

      "We didn't see them," his friend defended back to him. "They were no where to be seen."

      "They didn't want to frighten her. So they stayed out of sight."

      "Is that what they told you?"

      Jason stood up at the accusation his friend was trying to ease in to the conversation. He was cut off by Hercules with the demi-god's hand to his chest.

      "My men were there. I saw them outside the scribe's library before I looked at what he had found."

      "What did he find, Jason?" Hercules tried to change the subject.

      "He found away to end the nightmare for her. I could grant her a divorce, if she testifies in her husband's presence, and gives me her statement that she wants out of the marriage for good, and that he has no legal bounds to the children. If I confer, after her plea, then her and the children are free to go. Then I will bring charges against him for he is an escapee from the dungeons, and try him on that and the charges brought to him from my father. That will give her plenty of time to take the children and find a new life."

      "What if he finds her after that?"

      "Then she will have all the legal grounds to file for charges of assault. She will no longer be his wife, so he will have to abide by all laws pertaining to the harm of anyone."

      "Couldn't we just hang him, and be done with it. I mean you can't be pulverized by a dead man," Iolaus gave a sarcastic suggestion.

      "I'm going to go and talk to her now. It's going to be more difficult now then ever to convince her. But it's the only way I can find that I can pin him now, and not have to take the chance of him breaking a new law with their lives at risk."

      Jason gave a long sigh, and walked with his friends to his guest's room.

      He was shocked to see that she had not taken refuge under the bed again. Instead he found her sitting in a chair, beside her bed with her splinted leg, raised and staring at nothing. His heart grew heavy as he saw her hands, that were usually busy with sewing during their talks, lay still. The good one, wrapped around the other, held together in her lap. Her look was of lost hope. There was no glimmer of light that he had seen start to spark over the past couple of nights. There was no sign of life to her, except for the faint rise and fall of her full chest.

      "Kaira. I have to talk to you. I have a way to end this." His voice was low, and gentle as it always was when he talked to her. Though she gave no sign of hearing him, he continued. "If you want this nightmare to end, you have to have a council with me. Bring the charges against your husband to me, and say that you want your marriage to end without any ties to him. At all. Not even to the children."

      The three waited for a reply, as they sat on the bed in a line, ready to plead on Jason's behalf that she go along with the idea.

      Time went stretched in silence, and she did not move. Her eyes did not even give a hint that she was thinking it over. They wondered if she had even heard the King's words.

      "I can't let the children grow up with out a father," she whispered, not moving more then her mouth, nor changing her expression. "It's over. He found me, and he'll find them. He'll use them against me, and if I don't go back to him, he will do to them, what he's done to me, even worse. I can't stay, and I can't go back. It's over."

      "It's not over. It's only begun, now that we know what to do. This is not used very much, since we value marital unions so much here. It was pushed way in the back, with hopes of never being used. But we found it, as my father did before you disappeared. He was going to help you then, but could not find you. Now, it's my turn. I want to help, but I need you to help me."

      "You promised I was safe here, and he found me, and left his message. He knows where they are. It's only a small matter of time before he takes us back."

      "You are safe here. He knows it. He's just trying to scare you into leaving here. If you do, then he will have every opportunity to continue your nightmare. If you want it to end you need to have council with me."

      "I can't. Not anymore. I can't live looking over my shoulder, scared he will find me."

      "Kaira," Hercules stepped in. "You told me that you have had enough. Now that you have made the first step, and have had this while without fear, you can't go back. You can not take your children back to that."

      Kaira still did not move. Jason thought that the shock must have made her tired, and that she needed her rest. He rose, and motioned for his friends to follow. "If it will make you feel better, I'll send Hercules and Iolaus out to check on the children. Make sure they're all right. When this is all over, they'll be the start of your new future. I'll see you after you have had some rest."

      "He will find them. There will be no rest for me, until I have my children back."

      Jason looked at her, and led his friends out. "Go and check on them. When I told you of my trust in the caretaker, I told you where they were. Don't bring them here. Leave them where they are, and tell no one where you are going. I'll send word to Cheiron, asking that you stay a few more days. I'm going to need to find something to arrest him on to have him for the trial."

      "That shouldn't take too long. Just send a guard to find him and start a fight in a tavern with him, then when he is brought up for trial, he'll think it's for the tavern damages."

      Jason nodded his head to the thought. "Get going and go see the kids. Inform them that she's fine, and that they 'll be together, here soon."

      Hercules and Iolaus' pace was fast, but alert as they traveled the shortest way they knew. They listened for signs of anyone following them, and looked for signs of anyone being a head of them.

      "You know Herc., if he's as good of a tracker as she says, then he may already be there. What will we do then?"

      "Jason's guards will take care of him."

      "He got around them at the castle. . ."

      "He won't get around to touching my mother!" Hercules stopped, and pointed a finger at his friend, but not warning him, but the man they were watching for. "Not even Zeus himself could help him then."

      "I don't think Zeus would."

      They started again, and the thought of his mother there alone, set Hercules' pace faster. His breath was heavy, but not from the walk; from the anger he felt from the man who did this to a young woman whose only sense of worth in herself came from her children, and to the children who were not yet old enough to defend themselves, and too scared to if they could.

      As they approached the cottage of Hercules' mother, all was quiet. Too quiet for the duo. They stopped short, outside of the yard, and looked around. There was no sign of the guards, though there was a light on inside the house. The two remembered it was late, and the idea of the kids being asleep was possible.

      "What do you think?" Iolaus whispered.

      "I think we should knock and see who's all home."

      In agreement, they approached the house. They looked all around. An uneasy feeling raced up their spines, and through their tense nerves. Hercules knocked on the door, and opened it slow.

      "Hercules. I didn't expect you home," said Alcmene's surprised voice as she stood up from her chair, by her night fire, and came to embrace her son.

      "Mother? Where are the children?"Hercules asked. His curiosity distracted him from returning the affection.

      "One of Jason's guard's came and said he was taking them to another place, and the five had other orders. . ." Her voice trailed off as the two young men pounced to the doorway, and looked all around.

      "How long ago?" Hercules asked as he gave her an alarmed look.

      "About two hours ago. Just as dark hit. He had papers with Jason's signature seal. What is going on?"

      "Which way did he go?"

      "South. Into the woods."

      "You sure he was a guard of Jason's?"

      "Yes. All the others saluted him, and called him by name."

      "Herc. You think Jason has a leak in his guards?" Iolaus asked, antsy to go out the door.

      Hercules sighed. "That would explain how the pendant was put on the roses. It wasn't him, it was a guard."

      "Would you two please tell me what is going on?" Alcmene demanded with a confused look on her face, and her hands on her hips. If they were standing any closer, they would have heard her heart pounding.

      "What name did they say to him?"

      "Captain. Now what's going on?"

      "We're not sure, but we're going to find out." Hercules turned to Iolaus. "We're going to have to split up if we're going to warn Jason. You go back and tell Jason. I'll track the guard in the forest."

      "No way. You know I can track anything better then you. Let me go after the kids."

      "I have a better idea," butted in Alcmene. "You two follow him. Iolaus can track him, but he can't take on the strength of the man. I'll go tell Jason what is going on. Now, while I pack a few things, so I can stay with their mother, until you two bring the children back, you go saddle me a horse."

      "Good idea," Iolaus said as he bolted for the barn, and the only horse there.

      "Mother, I-"

      "Not now, Hercules. I am a mother too. And if anyone has any knowledge of what that poor woman is going through, at all, it'll be me."

      "But I was never abused."

      "You were neglected. And in a way, it hurt you just the same. Now hand me that shawl. The air is little nippy tonight."

      Hercules did not argue with her. He knew it would be good for Kaira to have someone to talk to that has a small idea of what she is going through. And who better than another mother.

Act Four

      "Anything?" asked Hercules as Iolaus was speculating the ground.

      "Yeah. They went that way. Do you think he's taking them to their father?"

      "I don't know. If they are working together on this, who knows who else is involved and can be trusted around Jason and Kaira."

      "Well, I say we camp here and follow the tracks at first light. Without a torch, they'll be too hard to track."

      "Yeah. We'll need our rest when we meet up the 'Captain.'"

      "What do think we'll do then?"

      "We'll worry about that when we get there. What I want to know is how Jason is going to take it when he finds out who has the children, and how he's going to break it to Kaira. To her, they're all there is worth living for."

      "Then we'll leave at first light and see where they are."

      "Jason!" came Alcmene's voice as she ran into the throne room with a guard hot on her heels.

      "Jason! We have a problem."

      "It's okay," Jason waved away the guard. "Where are Hercules and Iolaus?"

      "They went to track down the man who took the children. Your Captain relieved the other men, and said he was taking the children somewhere else." She showed him the scroll that had been left behind with new orders and the seal.

      "What?" he read through the new orders."I can't imagine why he would do such a thing. He was my father's most trusted man, and mine as well."

      "Are you going to tell the mother?"

      "I would rather hold off on that. She thinks that he's waiting for her, and that he snuck by my guards. I could not tell her her worse fears have come true."

      "Hercules and Iolaus think it was your Captain that got by the guards. Has he ever been around her husband?"

      "Yes. He was the one who arrested him."

      "Then isn't it possible he-"

      "Hold that thought," Jason went to the large guard who had reminded him of his duties earlier, and whispered to him.

      "Alcmene, would you do me a favor? Would you go to Kaira's room, and sit with her. She loves company. I have a little errand to run."

      "I would be happy to. . ."

      "Thank you. The guard will show you the way."

      With that, Jason left her, and went off with another batch of guards.

      Alcmene gave a sigh and shook her head.

      "This way," waved a guard in the direction she was to take.

      "Hello?" Alcmene said as she came inside the room that had been the young mother's sanctuary. "Kaira?"

      There was no answer, but as the door creaked open, she could be seen sitting where she had been left. She had not moved, and the night's dust had settled on her.

      "Kaira? I'm Alcmene. I'm Hercules' mother."

      There still was no acknowledgment of being heard.

      "I'm hear to keep you company while Jason gets some work done. How about some breakfast?"

      No answer came, and after some silence, the demi-god's mother picked up a hair brush from a vanity, and began brushing the young mother's hair. "I'm not hungry either. You know, my son talks of you. He says that you tell your children stories of his adventures with his friends here. How do you come by those stories?"

      Silence and not a movement yet. This was going to be tough.

      "Well, I can tell you some stories about that child, believe you me. Did you ever hear about when he stole his father's urn from the temple of Ares? "

      At the mention of the god of war, the still figure became more tense. Alcmene took note of it and decided to go on to another story.

      "Let's skip that one for now. Did you know that Hercules has other brothers? One is actually fully mortal. But there are a few out there that are half god as well, and they have tempers on them, worse then Hercules. I'll tell you one of my stories, and you tell me one of yours. That way, I can find out if my son has done something that I was not aware of. Not to get him in trouble." she chuckled, "Just to be kept informed. Any mother should be kept informed of their children."

      Alcmene told a story of when Hercules first found out that he had other half god- half brothers. The twins, Pollux and Castor. And how Jason had beat Pollux in the Pancration, in the Corinth games.

      Kaira did not say a word, but there were signs of her listening. The vanity mirror across the room was angled so that Alcmene could see her patient's face as her story went on. Once in a while, a small smile would crack and leave. Then her shoulders would bounce at trying to keep in a laugh. She also winced at the parts of how Pollux cheated in the race, and Jason fell and busted a few ribs. But never a word was spoke, and no more movement then those simple, short signs that she was listening.

      "You sure do have a lot of knots here. I guess I'll have to speak to Jason about pampering you a little more while you are here."

      Pampering his guests was not at the top of the young King's list at the moment as he and his troops rode through the Corinthian housing area. His first priority was finding his Captain of the Guards, then finding out what he did with the children. He could list off the things he would do if they were injured in any way.

      "That's his house he stays at in his off time, sire," pointed out one of the guards that rode to Jason's side.

      "I'll go check it out." nodded Jason. He wished it had been anyone else.

      "Do you think that's a good idea, sire. This could be a trap to harm you as well."

      "I'll be fine. Just be ready."

      He dismounted and had his sword ready as he approached the house. He was ready to knock on the door, when the bushes on the side of the house rustled. Jason looked back to his guards, and saw that they had seen it as well and were already trained on it with their crossbows. He held up a hand for them to wait for his signal, and walked towards it.

      Just as he got to the bushes, someone jumped out at him, and Jason jumped back. He drew his sword, and was ready with it.

      "Whoa, Jason," whispered Iolaus. "It's us."

      The young King had his sword trained on Hercules, and his other friend was behind him.

      "What are you doing back there?" Jason sighed, and lowered his sword, but did not replace it in his sheath.

      "We trailed the children here." Hercules explained. "What are you doing here?"

      "As soon as Alcmene told me what had happened, I came here to see what was going on. Go back with the guards, while I check it out."

      "No way," said Iolaus. He looked around. "We're in this too. If anything has happened to the kids, I want to be a part of getting them out of here."

      Jason saw the determination in his friends. Sighing, he turned and went back to the door.

      "Balian? Open up," he knocked and waited a second, standing to the side of the door.

      The door opened a crack, and Jason could see the face of a young woman peering out at him.

      "What can I do for you?"

      "I'm looking for Balian," Jason said, trying to apologize for disturbing her.

      "He's not here right now."

      "Do you mind if I wait for him?"

      "I can't let you in. I'm not to let anyone in."

      Her eyes were familiar. It was the same look Kaira gave when she talked of her husband. He could tell she was shaking the same way too. Could the same thing be going on here?

      "When was the last time you saw him?"

      "Late last night. He came in and left real quick. I don't expect him back for a long time."

      "Did he have any children with him?"

      "Children?" her voice became more nervous, and her eyes were shifty and trying to avoid the young king's. "Why. . .uh. . .what would he be doing with children?"

      "Please. These children are very young, and have already had a hard enough time. Now do you know where they or Balian is?"

      "No. I'm sorry. I can't help you."

      She tried to close the door, but Jason put his foot in. "Then let me help you."

      "Jason!" came the scared voice of Daniel. His little feet could be heard running across the floor inside, and his face pushed by the woman. "Jason! Help us."

      Jason gave the woman a pleading look, and with a sigh she opened the door. Daniel grabbed Jason around the legs as Sera ran to Iolaus. Hercules stepped in and saw Dana start to cry and hold up her arms for him to pick her up.

      Jason looked at the young boys face, and saw a fresh bruise under one of his eyes. It was so big on his little face. "What happened to your face?" The king new he did not need to ask, but he had hoped for a different answer then the one he knew he would hear.

      "I couldn't let him smack Dana for crying. She was scared."

      "It's okay now. I'm taking you to my place. You'll be safe there."

      "We're going to see Mommy?"

      "Mommy, Mommy!" Sera chorused and echoed her brother's excitement.

      The woman was escorted out of the house, and the children were carried.

      "We're going to ride horses to see Mommy?" Daniel became more excited and was in awe at the site of all the horses and guards.

      "We bet, bud. And you can ride with me."

      "Wow."

      Daniel's eyes were wide as he was seated on the horse, and the woman rode with another guard. Two of the guards doubled up so that Hercules and Iolaus could ride with the girls, who would not let them go.

      Jason sat in his crowded throne room at the palace, leaning over and talking to his scribe who was obviously not happy with what was about to happen. Balian walked in and bowed before his King.

      "You requested to see me, Your Majesty?" he said as he looked at the ground.

      "We have our guest's husband here, ready to be prosecuted. Kaira has learned her children are missing and has become more determined to get this over with. I need you, for the trial." Jason's voice tried to stay even.

      "Of course. My place is by your side."

      Jason waved a hand to his side, for the Captain to take his place. "Bring in the prisoner," he ordered.

      The huge guard who had held up the man when he was in a stupor in Jason's presence the last time, dragged him into the room.

      "Well, we see each other again. Let's see if we can get this right this time."

      Kaira's husband was forced down onto his knees before the throne.

      "You still have nothing on me. Why don't we just save ourselves some time, and let me go." The man gave a confident smirk, and nodded to the large audience that watched.

      Jason returned the confidence with a laugh. "Let you go? Why would I want to do that? You are a wanted man. You have escaped this dungeon before, and you are being brought before me in council, for a hearing."

      "From who? I have done nothing wrong. There is nothing you can do to me."

      "I can." came a voice from behind him.

      The thrown man, gained his balance on his knees and turned to see his wife, cleaned up, and shining with the bruises from head to toe still present from her last beating. The children were circling her. He gave her an intimidating glare.

      At first, Kaira shrank back, but Hercules was standing behind her, and put a strengthening hand on her back with a small push. He took the girls in his arms while Iolaus held Daniel.

      "I have asked for a council, because I have had enough of your fear, and your beatings that you have haunted me and my children with. I want out."

      "Well, you're not getting out." The man stood on his feet, full of more confidence, and had a humored smile on his face. "I will not give her a divorce, and I will not stand here and listen. I refuse the council."

      "Good. Divorce granted, now on to other business. You are charged for escaping from the dungeon, and bribing a Corinthian Officer."

      "Council sounds good." The man changed his mind, and his confidence diminished.

      Jason raised his hand for Kaira to step forward.

      She swallowed hard, and held her skirt in her hands tight, as she approached the throne next to her husband.

      The thought of him being there, next to her scared her, and made her second guess what was happening, but when she looked at Jason, he gave her a quick wink, a nod and a smile that said that she could do it.

      "I come before you today, to plead for the lives of my children. This man beats us for no reason that is our fault, but out of anger for things that have happened to him during the day, or because things around the house are not in perfect order. "

      "If it wasn't your fault, then why would I have to keep you in order?"

      "Silence!" Jason commanded the man with a hand. Then in a softer, and more friendly tone asked her to continue.

      "I fear for my children's life. I hide them when he becomes enraged, and starts in on me. But should he hurt me so bad, that I can not protect them, I fear that he would go out of control on them. They are not old enough to protect themselves, and should have no reason to at their age."

      Jason made sure she was finished, and looked at the man before him. "What kind of a father and husband beats his own family to make them fear him for their own lives?"

      "I keep my family under control. I do not raise spoiled brats that can not take care of themselves."

      "There are other ways to teach them to take care of themselves. If I were to go on your side, and send them home, would this stop?"

      "I take care of my family my way."

      Jason took that as a "no," and looked the man up and down. "Well, in that case, divorce granted. You are to have no ties to this woman or her children at all. And if you caught in any way trying to 'control' them, or try to get them to come back to you, any contact at all, you will be arrested. Dismissed."

      Kaira almost collapsed at the words. She could not believe that she was free. It was over.

      "Don't think you're getting out of this so easy. You know I will never leave you alone!" he yelled at her and tried to get to her, but was restrained by the oversized guard.

      "You are still in the king's presence. I suggest you watch your words," the guard forced him back to his knees.

      "Now on to my other business of you escaping from the dungeons." Jason almost sang. He was enjoying getting this man on every account he could.

      Balian's face became surprised for a second, but he kept his composure.

      "I have never been to your dungeons."

      "No. That's not what our records say, nor is what our guards say. Right, Balian?"

      The tall Captain of the Guard was taken back by the comment. "I'm sorry, Your Highness, but I do not recall any such conversation."

      "That's because I did not have it with you."

      Balian was even more confused.

      "He had it with me."

      The captain of the guards looked behind Kaira. There was the woman from the house that Jason had visited. "I told him everything, and now my nightmare will stop as well."

      "I don't know this woman, Your Highness. She must be here for monetary reasons."

      "Don't jump to such conclusions, Balian. Step down from your post."

      Balian gave him a questionable look.

      "Balian. You are here and now stripped of your rank as Captain of the Guards. You are accused of taking a bribe, allowing a prisoner escape, kidnaping, and assault on this woman, and others that I plan to find and get their stories as well."

      The guard who had been assisting Jason through the trials, came up behind the accused man.

      "Your sword, Sir."

      "You can't do this to me. I was your father's most trusted advisor."

      "Your trust has been broken, and so have laws." Jason did his best to keep his anger in check. He stood and faced the man."What I don't get is why you did any of this? Why did you let him escape, and talk my father into dropping the search? Why did you take the children, and why did you feel you had to beat your women?"

      "The answer to all of it is simple. To keep our society in check. To keep our people in order. If word had gotten out that you arrested men for keeping their families in check by the backs of their hands, then our city would have crumbled. Women would have thought they had power, and could cry to you every time that they disagreed with their husbands. It's to keep organization, and discipline."

      "By fear, and beating small children, and woman?"

      "By keeping the power where it belongs. In the men. To keep the women in their place, and to teach our children their places when they grow up."

      Jason could control his anger no more. "I am the King of Corinth. I will decide how to rule, and who holds the power." he turned his glare form his ex-captain to his audience. "I say that anyone, man or woman, has the power over their own life. And no one, is to beat them in submission. Violence is not the way to get someone to do as you want. Today, along with the law of Council for Divorce, I add this: Any man found beating his wife, and or children to show that he is the "man " of the house, or for any other reason will be thrown into the dungeon. I will not tolerate our households being run this way. Marriage is not about power, and submission. It's about loving one another, and bringing up our children for the future of our city."

      The young king turned and went back to his throne. "Get this garbage from my sight." He waved his hand, and the guards came to escort the gentlemen out of the throne room.

      Kaira's husband glared at her, as she watched with confident composure. This was it. The end to her nightmare. It was over.

      "No! For the better of Corinth!" he yelled, and threw the guard off of him. Reaching into his boot, he withdrew a small dagger, and he flicked it before another guard could grab him, and restrain him again.

      "No!" yelled Jason, as a loud gasp filled the room.

      The young king jumped from his throne, and ran, pushing people out of his way as they crowded around the knife's victim.

      Hercules and Iolaus knelt and held Kaira. The children were knelt beside her, crying.

      The knife was lodged in her stomach, and she gasped for breath, as she held it in shock.

      "Kaira?" Jason said as he took her hand and tried to get her wide eyes to focus on him.

      "My children's nightmare is over?" she asked.

      "Finally, yes."

      She gave a small smile and closed her eyes.

      Jason's hand went to her wrist, then he turned and looked at the man who had done this to her. "You can add murder to the list of accusations," the king hissed through his clenched teeth. "Get him out of here before I carry out the sentence myself, right now."

      As the guards dragged him out of the room, Balian dug his boots into the stone floor to stop. "I didn't mean for this to happen," he said to Jason with a plea in his eyes.

      "Well it's too late for that now, isn't it? You are a part of it, and will be dealt with." Jason turned back to Kaira. He knelt down and picked her up. "Come with me, and bring the children." He ordered his friends and Alcmene.

      He turned and made his way through the silent crowd, and carried her to her room.

      "Jason, what are you doing?" asked Hercules.

      "Send for the doctor," was his only reply.

      "What good can he-" Iolaus started, then he heard a deep exhale of breath from the king's load.

      Jason gave him a look to keep silent.

Act Five

      "Everything will be alright now," Jason said as he helped Kaira into the wagon's seat.

      Hercules and Iolaus leaned over the edge of the back and tickled to the kids to see their smiles, real smiles, for the first time.

      "This is going to be scary," she said in an uneasy tone, as she adjusted the reins in her hands. "But it'll be better. Especially for them."

      She looked back and saw her childrens' happy faces, and again found courage to go on their way.

      "I know I will definitely miss you three. I don't know how I will ever repay you enough to thank you."

      "Keep you and your family safe, is all we ask," said Jason taking her hand.

      Kaira leaned down and gave him a light kiss on the cheek. "I hope to find another chance with someone who is as wonderful as you three together."

      "I'm sure he's out there somewhere." the young King had to squint to look at her through the dawn light behind her. The glow through the morning mist gave her a halo, and her newfound happiness gave her a new beauty. In his heart he would miss her . "Well, you'd better get going. The wagon for the prison camp will be here soon. You should be gone by then so that your secret is safe."

      "You're a great King, Jason. I hope to see you again. Take this as a reminder of us." She handed him the pendant the had been placed in the garden to frighten her, and smiled. "Sit down kids. We have to be going now."

      Jason let go of her hand as he backed away so she could direct the horses on. He stood with his friends and watched until the were out of sight for a few minutes. They all listened to the children's voices echoing in distance, and Kaira singing a traveling song of freedom.

      "He thinks she's dead?" Hercules made sure of the his friend's plan.

      "Yep. And now she can live without fear of him ever finding her. Ever. Those prison camps don't take kindly to people who are like him and Balian. And there is no escape. Kaira and the children's nightmare is finally over, and theirs has just begun."

      The trio turned toward the castle, and walked together without another look back.

      "Did anyone ever find out how she knew all those stories about us that she told the kids?" Iolaus asked.

      "Balian and her husband were drinking buddies. Balian would tell of what we would be doing, and he would go home and complain about what the 'spoiled prince and his lousy friends' were doing, and she would turn it into a story," said Jason. "I thought it was funny how Daniel took to you, Iolaus."

      "Why is that?"

      "Because in the bedtime stories you were made out to be the klutz of a clown that always fouled everything up." Iolaus' mouth dropped open.

      "So how much homework do you two think you will have when you get back?" Jason asked after they returned inside. Iolaus was still in shock.

      "I don't even want to think of it," Iolaus groaned.

      "There might be extra chores too you know," Jason joked as went along the halls of the palace.

      "Chores?" the two looked at each other and then back at Jason.

THE PRODUCERS

KENT SIMMONS

TERN O'BRIEN AND MEDEA

Credits

Also Starring

Feducious: Ross Duncan

Creative Team
Aura
Barb Soden
Euterpe
Kalina
Kaya
Kent Simmons
Maggie Z
Medea
Pelee
Tern O'Brien
Thalia

Edit and Proof Read
Pelee
Tern O'Brien
Tracy Viader

Special Thanks To
Ed Naha
Mrinda Jez
Saderah

Technical Assistance
Jose Estreda

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