Hercules and Iolaus, along with the angry crowd, felt the sudden shift in the earth. It started shaking violently, as if there was an earthquake. They all watched with stunned eyes as they saw the man that had started to advance on the two warriors, suddenly being sucked downward into the ground.
A small mound of earth had just opened up suddenly before them and the man was gone. To everyone's horror, the small pit filled back in as if it had never even been there. Then just as suddenly the earth beneath Iolaus' feet started to give away and he too started to sink.
Even in Iolaus' instant terror, he knew this was not a natural phenomena; that he was being pulled under by someone or something. The long bow and arrow in his hands fell from his grasp, as he clawed at the ground to stop his descent. But he found nothing to anchor himself with. He turned slightly and saw his friend, terror on his face, kneeling next to him reaching out to grab his arms. "Hercules!" he shouted, and turned pleading eyes up to his friend, as he seized the waiting arms.
Hercules grabbed his friend's arms as soon as he realized what was happening, expecting his great strength to be able to easily pull his best friend from whatever seemed to be holding him and sucking down. But the struggle seemed to be futile and he felt the hold on Iolaus slipping. And then he was gone.
Iolaus' last memory before he went under, was Hercules' terrified cry of his name and a look of stark fear in his friend's eyes. Then he felt himself dropped to the ground below the cavern. He was on his knees, panting, trying to get his breath back after the futile struggle. He felt someone laying next to him. The man didn't seem to be moving. Was he dead?
Iolaus' heart was beating wildly, and his mind was racing, trying to figure out what his next move would be. He knew Hercules would try to find him, but he had to give him some time to do it. It was up to Iolaus to make sure Hercules had something to find. Iolaus knew he would have to act quickly, make some sort of plans. But plans for what? Where was he? Who had done this? All around him was darkness.
Suddenly almost as if his mind had been read, a torch was struck. He saw the unconscious form next to him and saw it was the man who had been pulled under before him. Slowly he forced his eyes to look up to where the torch was flaming and saw a powerful creature standing before him. It had the body of a man, but the head of a bull, and hands with long, cruel looking claws. Terror shot through him, but before he was able to recover from the vision, the thing swiftly advanced on him and he was knocked unconscious. As he lost consciousness, his last thought was: 'Maybe this isn't going to be as easy as I figured.'
Iolaus felt himself floating and strangely lethargic. He slowly opened his eyes and found himself entombed inside some small restricting structure. His first thought was that he was dead. He had died, but instead of being before Charon or Hades, he was still in his coffin, - a mud coffin? That didn't make any sense. He tried to shake his head to clear it. He moaned at the slight movement. As his eyes seem to focus, he was immediately confronted with the sight of the Minotaur before him. 'Maybe it was better if he had been dead,' he thought wildly. The first thing that penetrated his hazy fog, was the evil and hatred he saw in the eyes of this monster.
"Ahhh," the deep voice of his jailer finally broke the uneasy silence, "You're finally awake."
"Who are you? What do you want? What are you doing to me?"
"So many questions." He laughed as he put more of the green slime across Iolaus' face.
Iolaus tried to turn away but was unable to move much within his tiny prison. The stuff seemed to sap his strength and made his thinking muddled. It took every ounce of his being to be able to stay conscious to what was happening around him.
"Who I am isn't important. But as to what do I want? For the present, you're bait."
"Yes, the bait that will bring Hercules to me?"
"What do you want with Hercules?" Iolaus asked with a frightening knowledge of the answer he knew he would get.
"His death, of course! And once I kill him, there is nothing to stop me," he laughed as he placed the final bit of green slime over Iolaus' face.
Iolaus coughed and choked. When he was finally able to speak again, he answered with a laugh of his own, though it was weaker than he had hoped. "You won't find Hercules that easy to kill."
"He will be this time."
"Others have thought that same thing."
"Well, others didn't have you and the "secret" I possess, that will stop him just long enough to get the advantage."
Once again Iolaus saw the hatred in those eyes. 'Keep him talking Iolaus,' went through his fuddled mind. 'The longer you keep him talking the more time for Hercules to find you.' But did he want Hercules to find him this time. This Minotaur was as big as Hercules and looked extremely powerful. And what was this "secret" that he possessed that would stop Hercules? Could Hercules fight and win against this thing? But he knew he would probably find out. There was no way Hercules -- or he -- if the roles were reversed, would ever leave the other in any kind of jeopardy. Hercules would come for him. He knew he must keep him talking; maybe find out the secret. He had to help Hercules however he could.
The Minotaur, however, had other ideas, he was already starting to seal up the remaining space on the mud tomb.
"Wait!! Wait!!! You said that once you killed Hercules there would be nothing to stop you. From what?" Iolaus shook his head as the drowsiness started to creep up. Fear for what would happen to him when this thing sealed the tomb was also running through his mind.
"From building my army. A mighty army! And you will be one of my soldiers. Then we'll storm Mt. Olympus."
Iolaus shuddered. "Mt. Olympus? You're crazy!"
The Minotaur seemed to ignore Iolaus. "Then I'll take my rightful place as head of this whole world."
"I'm not going to be a part of any army led by you," Iolaus' voice rang out with an assurance he wasn't really feeling.
The Minotaur's laugh rang out evilly once more, as he was pulled out of own vision of glory. "You won't have a choice."
The Minotaur slapped more mud across the opening. Iolaus finally felt himself starting to drift. Thoughts were jumbled and he realized that whatever that stuff was that the Minotaur had put on him, was completely draining him. His last thoughts before the tomb was finally sealed and he passed out, was for Hercules. "Please, Hercules, be careful! Just survive this!"
The next thing he discerned was strong arms around him, gently but desperately pulling him free. He was helpless at first to assist, feeling much like a child's rag doll. The strong hands around his shoulders, held tight as he jerked in reaction and terror, sudden dawning as to what had happened to him. But a calming and loving voice spoke to him," It's okay. Iolaus, it's alright. He's dead." He looked up and saw the concerned look in his friend's eyes. Hercules touched the shoulders gently. "Come on, let's get the rest out." And with a slight nod, the two friends headed towards the other tombs, to release their victims.
After they had all left the cave and the others had headed, joyfully back into town, profusely thanking Hercules, Hercules noticed Iolaus' slow pace and unusually quiet demeanor. Hercules saw a large flat rock and pulled his friend over and sat him down.
"Iolaus, are you okay?" Hercules said with great concern.
"Ahhh, ... yeah, I -- I guess so." He looked over at Hercules, and tried to smile. His eyes fell to the marks made across Hercules' chest by the claws of the Minotaur.
"What about you?"
Hercules looked down to where Iolaus' gaze had fallen. He touched the cuts and winced slightly. "Yeah, I'm fine. It's nothing, just a couple of small cuts. They've already stopped bleeding."
There was silence for a moment. Then Iolaus slowly spoke, his eyes straight ahead. "The hate and anger I saw in him." Iolaus shuddered involuntarily. "For the first time, I was really afraid of your coming after me. He said he had a secret that would give him the advantage ..." Iolaus' voice trailed off as he looked up at Hercules questioningly.
A look of sadness came over Hercules' eyes, he turned and sat down next to Iolaus. For the next few minutes he quietly unfolded the fear he had felt when Iolaus had been pulled from his grasp, the story Zeus had told him, of the fight with the Minotaur, of the "secret" the Minotaur had thrown at him, of his threat to kill Iolaus, that brought about the final destruction of the former god.
For awhile after Hercules had finished his story they both just sat there unspeaking, lost in their thoughts.
"I'm sorry, Hercules. I know that must have been a hard thing to do, ... not only killing him, but knowing he was your half-brother."
Hercules turned to his friend and saw the concern in his eyes. "Iolaus, he had let hatred and power control his whole life. He was consumed with it and he was too far gone to ever be brought back. I'm sorry he's dead and that it was by my hands, but once he threatened you, there was no second thoughts to my actions. My only concern was for your life, and yours alone. And I would do it all over again, my friend." Hercules smiled and reached over and laid his hand on Iolaus' shoulder, but the moment was cut short, as for the second time that night, he withdrew his hand covered with green slime. He held it up and looked at it with an upturned nose.
Iolaus laughed at the sight, as he heard Hercules say, "And you need a bath, my friend. Immediately."
"I'm ready for that," Iolaus chuckled.
Hercules got up and reached down and pulled his friend up beside him and they headed off toward the town.
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