Cave of Memories

Cave of Memories


By Shell


Rating: PG
Disclaimer: I know I don't own these them. I wrote this for fun (and to see how well I could do on it). I'm not making any money on it. That's why I posted it for free on the internet. The characters belong to I think Fox pictures and the story line is mine.
Summary: Hercules, Jason, and Iolaus have to go into a cave to find something to save the academy.


Hercules found himself staring at Jason as some thing happened. Jason had stopped dead, got a really weird look in his eyes, and his face became blank. Hercules had no clue as to what was happening he only knew that they had to do this. The academy was counting on them. That didn't make this any less freaky though.

An image of a small boy playing by a throne with the king attending to the business of the kingdom wavered into existence on the wall in front of them. 'This probably happens all the time in here,' Iolaus thought. It was definitely the place for it. Massive stalactite hung form the ceiling with matching stalagmite growing up to met them. There was a glittering substance embedded in the rocks. 'Lime stone,' some part of him whispered, the part that stayed awake in class. In the background, he could just make out the sound of water dripping down adding to the feel of this place. The wall the image formed on was probably the only flat wall around.

"I'm so lonely. I know it isn't dad's fault but I hate having to play alone all the time," Jason said in a voice that sounded more like it belonged more to the little boy in the image than the crown prince that it was coming out of." Just one friend would make the loneliness go away. I know that they can't force another little boy to play with me and I wouldn't want them to but maybe if my father's guards let me play in the city once in a while I might have some friends to play with. Why me? I never asked to be royalty. I wish I was a commoner then I'd have some friends..."

"I'm sorry son but matters came up and I have to take care of them so we can't go camping this weekend but we will next I promise," the tall fatherly figure in the image said.

"He's doing it again but he will keep the next weekend promise. I know it. Dad never breaks a promise to go camping unless something major happens. So it'll be next weekend before we go camping again," Jason said. "That's ok. I'll get to go camping and in a few years I'll be old enough to go to Cheiron's Academy. Then I'll have friends. Lots of friends."

The small boy in the image asked, "Dad, can I go into the city and play with the other boys?"

"I'm sorry son but not today," Jason's father in the image said, "But maybe later on in the week. I promise that I'll make time so that you can go play with the boys in the city."

"Well that was more than I hoped for. I don't know what I'd do if he said no... Yes I do I'd just be lonely and maybe play with the guards. I wish I had some friends my own age."

"Jason, the guards will start practicing soon. If you'd like to watch you can." The captain of the guards told Jason when he saw the look of loneliness on the young prince's face.

"See, you'll have fun while I'm gone. Don't worry. I promise you we will spend more time together," Jason's father smiled, "Now don't have all the fun without me." The king turned and left.

"Well it's something to do but it's not the same. I just want some friends..." Jason trailed off, losing that distant look in his eyes and shook himself.

"Are you ok Jason?" Hercules asked.

"Yeah I'm fine. That was...weird," Jason said. "Ummmm, you guys didn't see that did you?"

"Yeah we did and heard your thoughts," Iolaus said sympathetically.

"Well actually you said them," Hercules corrected dreading his turn. 'So this was how they had kept people out of here for so long,' Hercules thought. Telling anyone who was with you your darkest memory seemed like a good deterrent. Especially since you couldn't get in and out of here with only one person. You needed at least three just to get in. Iolaus had almost been blown away during the wind thing. The only reason he was here at all was because Jason had pushed the right rock and lessened the wind. The gods only knew what had to happen to get out of here. Cheiron couldn't tell them much more than they had to push the right three rocks in at the same time to get in. He hadn't said a word on how to get out.

"Well lets get going then so we can save the academy." And with that Jason started down the tunnel leading deeper into the past and bad memories.

***

Hercules just stopped in the middle of the passageway and Iolaus ran right into him.

"Hey Herc you shouldn't..." Iolaus didn't finish he spotted the image forming on the wall just in front of them. 'Oh great here we go again,' Iolaus thought. It was outside Alchemene's house. A younger Hercules was standing there along with another older boy and Alchemene. Two men were trying to take the older boy away.

"Iphicles, don't go. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. Why are they taking you? Just because Amphitryon wasn't my father? I wish he was just so you didn't have to go. I hope Iolaus doesn't come today. That's the last thing I need. He'd try to cheer me up and when he fails he'll get depressed too. He doesn't deserve that." The words came out of Hercules' mouth but they weren't his at least not the teen him.

"What's going on?" Jason asked a little confused at the images.

"It's Iphicles, Herc brother. I remember that day. I wasn't there but Herc told me afterwards...I never knew how much that hurt him." Iolaus answered somewhat overawed that his friend had to go though that alone and a little guilty that he wasn't there.

"Come on, Hercules. We can't stay out here. I'm so sorry." Alchemene took Hercules' hand and led him inside.

"Mom, I want to stay with Iphicles." Hercules resisted Alchemene's hold but didn't try to get away.

"Honey you can't. I'm sorry but Iphicles has to go. He can't stay here." Alchemene gathered up a young Hercules in her arms and tried to comfort her son.

"Is it something I did?" Hercules asked almost fearfully.

"No. No, it was something I did. I'm sorry, Hercules. You'll see him again. I just know you'll see him again." Alchemene and Hercules just stood there hugging.

"Mom, how come they pointed at me so many times, if I'm not responsible? You'll just tell me it's not my fault. But I know better. It's all my fault."

Alchemene let go and stood up. "Come on. We have to go inside to get something to eat and I'm sure Iolaus will come over to play soon. We need to get some food ready for him." She stopped when she saw the tears in her son's eyes. "Don't worry. It'll be alright." She hugged Hercules one last time before going into the house.

"Iphicles, please don't be mad at me. I really didn't mean it..." With that Hercules collapsed crying at the memory. Iolaus immediately reached out and tried to comfort Hercules but he shoved Iolaus away.

"Iolaus don't. We don't have time. It happened in the past and we have to move on. They don't have much time left." Hercules got up, the pain still in his eyes, and left down the tunnel wiping the tears away from his eyes.

"Don't worry. We'll all have a lot to talk about when this is over." Jason said as he took off down the tunnel after the distressed demigod.

"You don't know the half of it my friend." Iolaus muttered as he started still scared at what would await him when his turn came. He knew Lilith and the other cadets were counting on them and that thought alone kept him going otherwise he would have turned and ran because he knew whatever was in store for him couldn't be good. He idly wondered what awful memory this place would bring up for him to deal with.

***

He didn't have to wait long because as soon as he caught up with his friends the words just flowed out and he was already lost in the memory, "Man what would Herc think if he could see me now. He'd probably think I had gone crazy."

The image that formed in front of them was of a place in Thebes nether of other boys had ever seen. "Iolaus," a boy in the picture said. "Are you sure you're ready for this?" The Iolaus he was talking to was a malnourished, undersized, somewhat scrubber version of the one standing there.

"Stop babying him. If he doesn't learn now then when will he learn?" Another bigger boy grabbed Iolaus' arm and pulled him down the street. "He has to start to pull his own weight around here or we'll have throw him out."

"Great. My life couldn't get any better. I either have to fight or I get thrown out. I can't afford to be thrown out. If I do that means I'm fair game for the gangs enemies and if I get hurt then I won't be able to eat. That's why you're here in the first place, remember. You were hurt and they took you in and feed you. You owe them. Great, now I'm talking to myself. Oh well, at least Herc'll never know 'cause I'll never see him again." Iolaus stopped talking because the Iolaus in the image had reached wherever they had been going.

"Look down there, Iolaus. All you have to do is kill them before they hurt you. Do you think you can handle that?" The older boy's tone was condescending, like he didn't think that this small boy could do what was asked of him.

"Of course I can, Nikon," Iolaus said somewhat annoyed. "It's not like I'm some idiot, that can't defend himself."

"Well, I guess we'll find out today wither or not you can fight," a passing gang member called out.

"Don't pay any attention to him. He doesn't know anything." The first boy said, with the last part nearly yelled to make sure the person it was directed at would hear.

"Up yours!" Was the response.

"What's going on?" Jason asked Hercules like he'd be able to answer.

"Come on. It's them or us." the boy named Nikon said turning to join the fight already starting.

"Great. Here we go. I'll never live this down if I don't. I won't live if I don't." The Iolaus standing in front of Hercules and Jason didn't say anything for a while because Iolaus had reached the fight and was currently concentrating on survival. Iolaus gave and received a lot of punches but not as many as he would if he didn't have the knife.

"Thanks Hermes. I knew that knife'd come in handy when I stole it." Iolaus said during a slight lull in the fighting. Behind Iolaus a member of the other gang got ready to stab the unsuspecting thief.

"Iolaus, watch out!" Hercules yelled in Jason's ear. He had almost forgot where he was and tried to warn the Iolaus in the picture.

"Hercules, he can't hear you!" Jason yelled back.

Someone in the alley must have said something because Iolaus turned around, knife in hand, to face this new threat. They fought for a little while.

"Gods, is this guy stupid or what? I've got a knife."

A kid came running down the street yelling, "The magistraight is coming. The magistraight is coming."

The guy was distracted and Iolaus found his opening. He didn't think. Not until the fresh blood was dripping down his arms.

"Oh my gods! I just killed a guy! I can't believe it!"

Iolaus just stood there, looking down at his hands. He watched the blood flowing down his arms.

"Gods, it isn't even my own blood! How could I do this! Iolaus, get a grip on yourself. Great I'm talking to myself again."

"Iolaus, the guards are coming!" some other gang member yelled grabbing his arm and pulling.

"This isn't your concern now. You have to stay alive." Iolaus snapped out of it and ran like Tartarus. The image faded like fog dissipating.

Iolaus was sweating and shaking when he came out of it. He had to check his hands to see if there was any blood on them.

"Gods, Iolaus. I never knew," Hercules tried to comfort him putting a hand on the former thief's shoulder.

"Yeah, Iolaus. You did what you had to," Jason said.

"Yeah, that's ok. Look we're almost done. Let's just get what we need and leave." Iolaus didn't want to spend anymore time in here than he had to. So shrugging off Hercules' hand he headed down the hall. The memory had brought it all back in crystal clarity and he felt dirty.

***

Iolaus stopped dead and just stared at the room he had come in to. It was enormous. Bigger than enormous, it was hugely enormous. But that's not why he stopped. It might have been something in the architecture. It looked like it was mixed and matched and he couldn't tell where one style would stop and another would take its place. Some of it was just vines and dirt with some rocks stuck in it.

Or was it the unmistakable gold that covered some of the architecture and the statues. He had never seen so much of it in his life. Just one piece would pay his academy bill and he would have some to spare. Architecture with gold highlighting the important lines. Greecian alongside other styles that he couldn't identify. Now he almost wished he had stayed awake during that class. Statues sat in little niches in the walls. Some covered in ivy so think you could barely see the gold, others with little effects in other materials. The gold was used in such a way that it took the light and reflected it back casting a yellowish glow over all it touched and the very air seemed alive with it.

It could've been the paintings. Tons of paintings, some that looked so real and others that looked so fake like the artist made them that way alongside still others that had color, shape, and form but no recognizable subject matter.

Or it might have been the stately woman whose presence would diminish the entire room given half a chance, or the obviously old man standing next to her that look so wise and the compete opposite of her.

He was dressed in grayish steel blue robes that flowed around him with a grace all their own. He had a long white beard hanging down to his waist. A floppy charcoal black hat that looked like it was about to fall off and a small smile on his face gave the illusion that he was a kindly old grandfather. That image was at odds with the look in his eyes that made him seem like he was wisdom himself.

She was dressed in a gorgeous dress that looked like a cross between forest green and grass green. It looked like vines had grown up around the fabric, making it conform to her shape. On her back a sea green cape fluttered in the wind. The woman herself was quite beautiful and young, at least at first glance. On the second glance her eyes reveled an ageful wisdom. The actual features of her face weren't like anything Iolaus had ever seen or was likely to see again. She wasn't dark skinned or light for that matter. But despite, or perhaps because of, these differences they looked like they both belonged in the room and standing next to each other.

"Iolaus, Jason, Hercules," The woman's voice was soft and gentle like bells or a forest just waking up. "You have made it though the cave to here."

"You are wondering where here is." The old man's voice was deep and full of knowledge. "That's right. No 'probably' or 'I think' because I know."

"Who are you?" Jason said before he knew what he wanted to say.

"We can't tell you who we are but I think you already know who we are. We can tell you where you are. You are in the heart of the world. This is where all inspiration and creativity come from." She must be, at the very least, a goddess because who or what else could leave three heroes in the making who had faced gidras, their worst fears, amazons, and evil gods, speechless. "This is where you'll find the answers. Look wisely and keep in mind the memories that you found here. Your own and those of your friends."

"After you leave here you will remember the journey here and this place. Together, they will have left a permanent mark upon you." The old man's voice had a quality to it. None of the cadets knew what that quality was though.

"Luck and Light be with you, and may you find what you're looking for." The goddess turned to leave having said all she wanted to say. As she left her hand rested briefly on the old one's shoulder and a look that spoke of a love so deep time stood still for it, passed between them.

"This place wasn't made by the gods as you know them. In fact they can't get in here at all. This place is older than the gods, all of them. It was made before man and before gods. It was made at the beginning of time itself. Keep this in mind as you look for what you seek." The old man turned to follow the goddess.

Once they were both gone the silence was deafening. A feeling of emptiness filled the air, leaving our heroes at a loss of what to do. So, without a sound, they split up to search. Neither Iolaus who had a thousand question rolling thought his head, nor Hercules who was desperately trying to figure out who those people were, nor Jason who thought that they must be royalty and wanted to know if Lilith was alright, wanted to break an almost revered stillness. In quiet they searched and in silence they found it and they left feeling a profound hope. Something they hadn't felt had in a long time.


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