A Lecture in Friendship

by Cinderella

"What a beautiful day," Iolaus thought and stretched lazily in the warm sand. The sunbeams tickled his bare chest as he dozed on the beach. Just wonderful, such a day off, no monsters to fight, nobody screaming for help.

Suddenly he jerked up as the air was filled by loud young voices deeply involved in an argument.

Gods, who can fight on such a day? He curled up on his side and tried to ignore them as best as possible but after a while he had enough. He struggled to his feet and went to the small boat house near his place to find a bunch of boys having an argument as loud and heavily as possible.

"SSssshh, what's the matter with you?? Its a wonderful day, the sun is shining, so what are you fighting about?"

One of the boys gave him a skeptic glance. "That's not your business."

"Oh.. yeah.." Iolaus gave back, feeling anger raising in his throat. "It is my business, because I just wanted to find a little peace here and I am afraid your fight was too loud for even the deafest man to sleep by."

"I know him," another boy, maybe thirteen years old, replied. "He is Iolaus, the friend of Hercules who saved our village from the monster."

"You're sure??" the other gave back. "He doesn't look like a warrior."

"Yeah he is, I have seen him with Hercules after their fight. He is a hero." Iolaus smiled recognizing their sudden embarrassment.

"After we have cleared that, I guess I can get back to sleep, right?"

He started to walk back to his spot as one of the boys got his arm. "Please, maybe you can help us. Maybe Therus will listen to you." Iolaus stood and looked back, then crossed his arm before his chest.

"Ok, then tell me about your fight!"

"That's easy to tell," a dark haired boy explained. "Therus' father is rich, the richest man in the village. His father gave him a new boat, better and bigger than any other boat. We usually went fishing together, but now he doesn't want to have us around. He says he can go out fishing on his own with the new boat. He says he doesn't need us anymore as his friends, because his father can buy him anything that he wants to have."

Iolaus sat down in the warm sand. "So that's the problem. You don't need friends?? So let me tell you a story about Hercules and me and maybe then you will think different about this point."

The boys followed and built a circle around the warrior, as he started to tell his story:......

"Not so long ago Hercules and I were fishing together, far away from the next shore in a boat, not half as big and good as Therus'. But we had a lot of fun, were joking around, as suddenly the sky darkened and the wind turned into a storm. I guess this wasn't a normal thunderstorm because it came too fast and too strong to be of natural extraction, but it formed huge waves that nearly overwhelmed the boat. It started raining and thunder and lightning filled the air. We tried our best to save the boat but it was impossible. Suddenly a big lightning came out of the blue and hit my right side, leaving deep burn marks on my skin. I cried out in pain and Hercules tried to reach my side, but then the boat turned on a mighty wave and burst in pieces."

"I was instantly under the surface, desperately struggling to maintain my position but I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper . I forced my eyes to open in the salty water and my legs to kick towards the light. I could barely see, my shoulder and side hurting like hell by the effort. But there was no time to think about this. My lungs burned and I was afraid to loose the battle I was fighting. My legs seemed to give up the struggle and I knew I would black out soon. Not the kind of death I expected, believe me I tried to use the little strength I had left to reach the surface, but there was no way. I felt the seizure in my throat, felt the pressure on my legs and the smoothing blanket of darkness covering me."

"Suddenly somebody grabbed my arm, reached my shoulders roughly and pulled me above. My head broke through the surface and fresh air was there to fill my bruised lungs. I coughed and struggled to stay conscious as the sharp pain overwhelmed my body."

"Hang on, Iolaus, hang on." Herc's voice. The most beautiful voice I have ever heard in my life.

Strong arms clutched around my chest, Hercules' hands were there.

"You are ok buddy? Come on, breath." I heard him through a wall of agony and Hercules tried to meet my gaze, still holding me tight, upright at the water surface.

"Yeah, I think so," I mumbled groggily getting a grip at Herc's hand. "God, what happened..?"

"Hera send a lightning bolt remember?" I nodded slowly, turning my face to look around. The sudden movement caused my hurting body an agony of pain and I bit away a cry of pain, that was forming on my lips. I pulled back instantly as Hercules gently touched my bleeding forehead.

"Nasty wound," he said "You must have been banged up pretty well somewhere. What about your shoulder ?" He asked, recognizing the raw burning marks on my shoulder and arm. I smiled weakly, my teeth tightly clenched.

"It hurts like hell, but I'll live." I gave back. "Looks like Hera did a pretty good job this time." I coughed painfully as the water slapped over my nose.

"Hang on buddy," Herc whispered encouraging, a concerned look on his face.

"Here, try this." Hercules caught a drifting wooden section of the boat and shoved it to me

I pulled it closer with my good arm, trying to support my upper body. I closed my eyes for a moment, exhausted and ringing for air. Hercules rested one arm on the small wood, still supporting me with the other. He knew, that I wasn't in any condition to hold myself upright above the surface let alone to swim but he showed me a smile like he believed in my lies to be fine.

"Relax, Iolaus, everything will be alright."

I nodded. "Look around, we are so far away from the land that we can't see it. What can we do, stay here and hope for help or start to swim. Believe me, I will make it. I am fine. It'll be a long way, but we have no other choice."

The pain doubled me over for a moment and I sighed, then swallowed hard. "Herc, I can't promise I will make it, I will try.... but maybe it's better you go alone.... I will stay here to wait for help. It makes no sense that both of us will die here."

Hercules stopped my babbling "No way my friend. We both will make it." He tightened his grip under my good shoulder.

"You are ready?"

"Yeah," I gave back

"So nice and easy. Try to rest on the plank and let me do everything else. And tell me, if it hurts too much, OK ?"

I nodded, my teeth gritted as the pain started by the movement, throbbed through my injured side. "I am fine." I said, forcing my voice to sound as steady as possible. "Let's go on." But I guess Herc read the lie in my eyes.

I treaded water as best as I could, desperately trying to find a rhythm to keep up with Herc. My greatest fear was to stop him too much.

I bit away the pain and forced my mind to accept my swimming strokes as the only thought. After endless hours of agony my friend placed a hand on my arm to stop me. "Let's take a break"

"I don't need one, I will make it" I replied, pushing forward.. But I guess Herc knew about my stubbornness.

"I know you do." He glanced towards the distant shore and gave me a nod.

"The tide's been going out. I guess. But it should slack soon, then giving us a boost by heading to the land."

I was seized by a painful fit of coughing and Herc reached instantly out to hold my arm until the attack subsided.

"You're all right??" Herc didn't release his hold of my body until I gave him a weary nod.

"Yeah I am fine." I said after getting breath again, but I am afraid the impression I made on Herc was a different one. He must have seen the obvious pain in my eyes and perhaps wondered how long I would be able to stay awake.

I placed my good arm on the wood to support my body and flinched as the pain started again but after some minutes I became more comfortable and dozed off. I don't know how long I slept but it was nearly dark as Herc caught my shoulder and shook me gently.

"The tide's slacking now. You are ready to go?"

I nodded wearily and moved slowly to find my rhythm back.

The sun had set and the water temperature was dropping rapidly. I was so cold, it was dark all around. I guess I fainted a few times but always I found a strong arm to keep me upright and out of the water.

It was morning as Herc forced my tired eyes to focus on a boat which was out there. I was nearly able to keep my eyes open let alone to see anything on the horizon, but Herc gave me a bright smile. "It won't take long, my friend. Help is near. Come on, only a few more strokes."

I tried to return the smile and used the little strength that was left in my cold hurting body to support Herc reaching the boat.

"Well," Iolaus continued and smiled at his enthusiastic audience. "We reached the boat which took us aboard and so I survived this little adventure. But let me say, I would be dead without Herc at my side. He was there to support and help me. Just as I am there for him when he is in need of me. Happened a few times too." He paused and a grin brightened his face.

"Therus, you have a wonderful boat, better than the one we had, but if you come in any trouble out there you better have somebody near for help. You can't buy friends and if you have some, be happy and share with them. There will be a time when you will be grateful for their support." Iolaus stood.

The boys followed slowly, obviously thinking about the story. "Guess you are right," Therus said "Ok, if anybody wants to go fishing with me and my new boat, I am waiting."

The boys headed towards the water and Iolaus looked after them, a big smile on his face.

"Hey, my friend. I thought you were looking for some rest. Now you are here telling stories to some school boys. You are looking for a new job?"

Iolaus turned and faced Hercules, who stepped closer to him. "Maybe as a bard ??" "No.." Iolaus laughed. "But I think it was just the right time for a little tale. I told them about our little fishing adventure. Remember?? You and me in the boat, Hera's lightning.. ?"

Herc shook his head "I don't have even a clue what you are talking about."

"Noo?? Think about it Herc, maybe you remember then."

He twinkled his right eye and gave his confused friend a big smile.

THE END

Go on to the next story in the challenge.


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