Ioulas had tried to tell Hercules why he wanted to go to Arametha, but as usual the news of the local villageís trouble had found his ear. Missing valuables had prompted Herculesís march towards trouble.
"Herc, will you at least hear me out?"
"Whatís the big rush to Arametha?" Herc said turning to smile at him, "You would think is on fire."
"Its Gabrielleís birthday, I just thought since it was so close and we were so near, sheíd like to see some friends thatís all."
"Hmm, sounds like a good idea, Iíll pick up something in this village, but not until after we solve this problem, I promise."
Ioulas stopped, "I remember the last time you said that, we were-" he stopped himself.
"Were what?" Hercules said turning to face him.
"Isnít that Autolycus running this way?"
Hercules turned to find the King of Thieves running from a red haired Kelt. Autolycus was looking over his shoulder not paying much attention to the road in front of him.
"Agghhh!" the woman dressed in pants and a midriff shirt, yelled after him.
Autolycus turned just in time to see who he was about to run into, "Oh no." came the groan before hitting the solid form of Hercules.
" Autolycus, give the lady back whatever you took from her." Hercules said helping the thief up from the ground.
"I did take anything, Iím a changed man Hercules, I thought you knew that."
"Thank you," The Keltish woman said between breaths leaning against a nearby tree, "youíve spared me another mile."
"Youíre welcome, what did Autolycus take from you?" Hercules asked.
After a moment she spoke, "A sword that has been my family for ages."
"Whatís so special about a sword?" Iolaus asked.
"My grandfather forged it, the only one of its kind." The Kelt said
"Sword?" Autolycus said "Oh you mean that sword!"
Autolycus withdrew the sword from behind him. The blade had such beauty that it had a hum or silent chant to it. The two men were somewhat amazed by the blade, it seemed to go on forever, the hilt covered in Keltish designs and symbols. In the center of the hilt was a piece of green and white marble the two had not seen before.
"May I see it?" Iolaus asked.
"Aye." the Keltish woman shook her head yes as she spoke the word.
Iolaus took the sword it was light yet very well balanced. He took a few slices at the air .
"Why did you take it?" Hercules asked as he watched Iolaus.
Autolycus looked longingly at the blade, "Iolaus can tell you its a remarkable piece of craftsmanship, light yet balanced, the designs are simple, but foreign," he paused "but the marble is unusual. It would bring a lot of denars."
"So would your head among my clan." the Kelt shot in retort.
Iolaus had to smile and looked at Hercules who was smiling as well. He looked back at the Kelt who was giving Autolycus a very harsh look as she sheathed the blade.
"Whatís your name?" Hercules asked.
"Eallercia, and you two are?" she asked.
"Iím Hercules and this is Iolaus, and youíve all ready met Autolycus."
"Nice to meet you." Iolaus said shaking her hand. "Where are you heading?"
"Arametha, Xena said to met her there."
"You know Xena?" came the question from the three.
"Yes, she helped us drive back Caesar from our land," she said smiling thinking about the retreating of the emperor of Rome. "by chance which way is Arametha?"
"West why?" Iolaus asked.
"I asked around in the village," she said walking beside Iolaus "but they said something about a thief." she said looking in Autolycusís direction.
"What else did you take?" Iolaus asked.
"Oh nothing really just a few gems from the Temple of Chronos."
"Weasel!" came a shout from in front of them.
A short chubby man dressed in long robes, he was a bit older than the three men present. He had been running and was now out of breath.
"Salmoneus!" Autolycus shouted.
"Hercules!" Salmoneus said sounding a bit shocked.
"Salmoneus, what do you have in this?" Hercules asked.
"Nothing, I just heard the weasel was in town." he said looking at the Keltish woman, "I donít believe weíve met Iím Salmoneus and you are?"
"Eallercia, are any of you going to Arametha?"
"Yes." came the awnser from the four men.
"Well I can see I wonít get lost." she said smiling, "You all must know Xena, do I ask how?"
Hercules sighed and began his tale "When I met Xena she was still the leader of an army and she still sought the approval of Aries the god of war."
Hercules continued on with his tale and finished just as they all arrived in the village. The priest of the Temple of Chronos and greeted Hercules, Iolaus, Salmonious and gave Eallercia a glance of disapproval.
"Ahhh, I see you four have caught our thief."
"You could say that." Hercules said.
"Where are the stones?" the priest demanded of Autolycus.
Autolycus reached inside of his shirt and retrieved a black pouch and handed the pouch to the priest. The priest opened the pouch and immeadtly counted them.
"There are some missing!" he said shouting.
"Give them back." Hercules said.
"I wish I could, but thatís all that were in the temple."
"Are you sure?" Iolaus asked.
"Yes, I canít steal whatís not there!"
"I took them." came the meek awnser from a female follower said, "I just wanted to be closer to Chronos himself."
"A forgivable crime," the priest said to the girl "you however," he said facing Autolycus "have no sanctity for the holy!"
Eallercia had heard enough and headed for the stable where her horse was housed. She went in it took only seconds for her eyes to adjust to the dim light in side the stable. The smell of horses, straw, and dung hung in the air creating its own strange smell. She spotted her horse, black coat shinning dimly he snorted at the sight of her.
"Oh, so you are glad to see me." she said walking to the horse.
The horse stamped a hoof on the ground in response.
"Ah, so that is what has kept you busy." she said smiling.
Iolaus heard her talking to who he wasnít sure, but as he approached her he saw no one. What he did not know was, she knew he was at the door of the stable before he got closer to her.
"You talk to your horse?"
"Aye, heís kept me company for quite sometime."
Iolaus just nodded and smiled and then spoke, "Hercules wanted me to tell you that heís going to gather some supplies and well go."
"All right." Eallercia said as she lead her horse out of the stable.
Eallercia followed the four men through the market leading her horse. She carefully watched Autolycus who was looking over the wares. She occasionally caught Iolaus looking at her.
Iolaus wished he was a bit younger, he might had a chance with her, but he was a bit too old for her. She had to be at least twenty, but he had to admit she was beautiful, her long red hair tied back in a long braid, her pale violet eyes, fair skin. She was the first Kelt from the north heíd ever seen.
Autolycus spoke up, "I Ďd wish I would have know you two when you were younger." he said to Hercules and Iolaus.
Distracted by what Autolycus said Hercules practically ran into an old friend. Jason smiled and spoke "No you donít. The two of them had a tendency to get me in trouble."
"Excuse me?" Iolaus said grinning. "How about the two of us?"
"If I remember correctly you never could listen." Hercules said to Iolaus.
"Heís got a point." Jason said.
Hercules grinned and turned to face Jason but what he saw deceived him. Jason was much younger, he then turned to look at Iolaus who had also become much younger.
"Am I seeing things?" Iolaus asked.
"No." Hercules said.
"I thought my sight was going there for a moment." Jason said.
Hercules looked at Autolycus and Salmoneus they to had gotten much younger. There was one problem, the red head Kelt. Who was she ?
"Iíd say you boys have discovered something." She said grinning.
"Who are you?" Hercules asked.
"Eallercia, you donít remember?" she said.
"Well," Iolaus said grinning "I do."
"Wow." Jason said under his breath. "Iím Jason, King of Cornth." he said grabbing Iolaus strongly on the shoulder.
" What just happened?" Autolycus asked.
"Iím not sure." Salmoneus said. "When I figure it out Iíll let you know."
"Iíd say, and this is a guess, Chronos got his revenge." Eallercia said speaking up.
"Oh no." Autolycus said. "The priest wasnít kidding."
" Who are you guys?" Iolaus asked.
"Iím Salmoneus, and this Autolycus."
"Nice to meet you."
"No, weíre friends." Autolycus said.
"We are?" Hercules asked.
"Why in Zeusís name are you exempt?" Salmoneus asked the Kelt.
"I donít know, maybe it only effects men." she said grinning.
"Well, what do we do now?" Autolycus said
"I donít know but Iíll figure out something." she said. "Weíd better get supplies."
"For what?" Iolaus asked.
"Gabrielleís birthday?" Autolycus said.
"Oh yeah." Iolaus said.
" Xenaís gonna be there." Salmoneus said.
" Xena?" Hercules asked his young eyes lighting up.
"Hey, I remember the last time you saw her." Iolaus said grinning.
"Yeah." Hercules said grinning.
Eallercia rolled her eyes, and looked at Salmoneus who just shrugged. Iolaus moved over beside her, and folded his arms across his chest. Jason just glared at him, Eallercia walked on leaving Iolaus standing there. When he realized he called for her to wait and she laughed. Jason ran and walked on the other side of her.
"So, your a Kelt?" Iolaus asked.
"Aye." she said smiling.
"From Gaul?" Jason asked.
"No, an island northeast of Gaul."
"Eire, belongs to Britanniaís islands." Iolaus said.
She nodded, quite uncomfortable with the attention she received. The three walked on in silence for a few moments.
"So you know how to use a sword?" Jason asked.
"Aye," she said thinking of a phrase that Xena has used many times "I have many skills."
"Iím sure you do." Iolaus said grinning.
"Iolaus, as you can tell is not a gentleman." Jason said.
"I wouldnít say that." she said grinning at him.
Iolaus said looking at Jason "Ha!"
Hercules, Salmoneus, and Autolycus caught up with them. Eallercia headed for the road to Arametha and the four young men followed her. She knew they had better make time. It was almost late afternoon and she wasnít sure she wanted to make camp with the four of them.
Iolaus had watched the Kelt walk and Hercules smacked him on the back of the head, " What? I didnít do anything."
"If you two donít shut up, and quit fighting over me Iím gonna smack the both of you!" Eallercia said turning to face the both of them.
Hercules stifled a laugh, and both Iolus and Jason shot him a look. Out from the bushes ahead of them a skinny young man dressed in various pieces of armor stands poised with a sword.
"Ha ha, you wonít get past Joxer the Might this time you blood thirsty Kelt!"
Iolaus, Jason and Hercules let out a hearty laugh at the poor excuse for a warrior. Eallercia drew her sword.
"Not again, look Iíve got enough problems to deal with right now."
Before Autolycus could shout to her Joxer charged at her yelling at the top of his lungs. Eallercia took one swing and the sword in his hand fell. He scrambled for it, as he reached for it she put her foot on the blade.
"Never attack me again." she said bending down.
"Joxer, she knows Xena." Salmoneus spoke up.
"You know Xena?" Joxer asked.
"Aye." she said rising.
"Why didnít you say so, me and Xena go back." Joxer said.
Gently she slid the toe of her boot under the hilt of the sword and kicked it into the air. She grabbed it and handed it back to him.
"Joxer the Mighty, mighty annoying one." Iolaus said.
"Weíve got to keep going." Hercules said.
The six walked and walked hours passed, they all decided to stop and take a break. Eallercia went to a nearby stream and crouched down, cupped her hands and took a drink. Ioluas sat down on a near by rock, and watched her as she splashed water onto her face. Eallercia knew he was there and turned slowly around to face him.
"Do you always try to sneak up on people?" she asked.
"Well I try not to." he said grinning.
"I see." she said half-smiling.
"You uh, donít have a lot of people in your village?"
"You mean men?"
"There are a few, but there all bethroed to the proper women with money." she said the smile fading.
"Thatís too bad." he said looking at her.
"I guess Iíve adapted to not having too many men around." she said smiling.
"There are no men your age?" he asked.
"Aye, their all interested in the proper girls whoíll make good wives." she said leaning against the tree. "Iím just a displaced Amazon."
Iolaus got up and stood next to her, she looked over at him.
"This land has its own beauty."
"Yeah." Iolaus said looking at her.
"My home is a deeper shade of green." She said looking across the stream.
Iolaus moved in to kiss her and she met him half way. They were still engaged in the kiss when Hercules came apon them. He grinned and cleared his throat and Iolaus stepped away from Eallercia quickly.
"If you two can pull yourselves apart, weíre ready to go."
Eallercia grinned and headed back, Iolaus walked behind her as they arrived at the road Jason spoke up.
"Did you find what you were looking for Iolaus?"
"Yeah." Iolaus said.
"Did she kick you backside?"
"Yeah, wasnít much of a fight." Eallercia said winking at Iolaus.
"Says you, That was my best move!"
"More like your worst." Jason said grinning.
"It was pretty good." she said smiling.
"Letís get going." Hercules said.
The six of them made it to Arameatha just before dusk. Iolaus went with Eallercia to the stable they caught the stable boy just as he was about to leave.
"Is there any room left?" Eallercia asked.
"Yes, one stall near the end next to the tan male."
"Thank you." she said handing the boy the denars.
She led Ara to the last stall, turned him around and backed him into the stall. Tied his reins and heard Argo snort a hello. Ara smelled the horse next to him and snorted back.
"Hello Argo. How is Xena?" she asked.
"Do you talk to horses often?" Iolaus asked.