Chapter One: Days of Light
Iolaus has found a little girl abandoned along the road. She is traumatized, and cannot speak. While trying to locate her family, he meets a young healer, Elissa, who offers to help them. But, she has been accused of murdering the king of Pylos, and Hercules has made two unsuccessful attempts to take her back there for trial. Elissa tells Iolaus she is innocent, and he believes her, deciding not to turn her in to Hercules. While staying at her home in Acheron, Iolaus develops a strong attraction to the healer, but represses his feelings out of loyalty to Hercules. Eventually, the little girl’s aunt and uncle come to claim her. The hunter leaves Acheron, reluctantly.
Chapter Two: Melancholia
Iolaus hasn’t been able to get Elissa out of his mind, and he’s overjoyed when he runs into her in Epidaurus. But the village has strict laws against healing, and when she’s caught practicing her craft, Elissa is arrested and sentenced to a whipping. Iolaus cannot get her free, so he volunteers to take the punishment in her place, goading Hera into granting her approval. Elissa cares for him after the whipping, but they are soon forced to leave town. Iolaus goes on to Corinth, mourning the love that can’t be.
Chapter Three: Girl’s Eyes
Iolaus goes to the Lenaean Festival, but he is depressed over the love that he is denied. He finds Elissa there, and they spend a long night together, talking. Iolaus finally reveals his feelings to her, and she reciprocates. But he tells her that he can’t betray Hercules, and she understands, leaving the next morning for Mycenae. Iolaus catches up with Hercules, who can’t believe the improvement in his friend’s mood. The hunter considers confessing everything to his partner, but he suddenly realizes that Elissa is his soulmate and that they belong together, so he leaves Hercules to go after her.
Chapter Four: A Legal Matter
Iolaus finally finds Elissa at her home in Acheron and convinces her that the love they shared can no longer be denied. They leave to find Hercules, to tell him of their relationship. He isn’t happy about it, naturally, but agrees to let them be. Elissa refuses to come between the friends, and asks Hercules to take her back to Pylos for trial, so that they can finally put the whole thing behind them. On the way, they are attacked by the sadistic thief, Sinis. He is defeated and killed, but Ares takes his body away. Aphrodite appears to urge Hercules not to be too hard on the couple, for their love is real and too strong to ignore. As they reach Pylos, the demigod gives Elissa the option of turning back, but the healer just wants the whole thing to be over. Before they go in, she makes them promise to take her body back to Acheron if anything should happen. Alcestis, the king’s advisor, arrests the healer on the spot. He had pinned the king’s murder on her, in a devious plot to secure the throne for himself. She had escaped, ruining his plans, so he orders her to be executed in the morning as revenge. Elissa is locked away in the dungeon. In the dead of night, Hercules and Iolaus attempt a rescue, but find the healer’s lifeless body in her cell. Keeping their promise, they take her back to Acheron, but she revives along the way from a drug she’d taken that gives the appearance of death. She and Iolaus are now free to be together.
Chapter Five: Behind Blue Eyes
A monster disrupts the peace of a quiet campsite. Hercules and Iolaus finally defeat it, but Iolaus grows worried about the danger he’s putting Elissa in. She reassures him that he’s worth the risks. Hercules is attacked by Sinis, whom Ares restored to life. Sinis ends up dead on his own sword, and asks Ares to make him a god, so that he’d have the power to kill Hercules once and for all. Ares agrees.
Chapter Six: Imagine A Man
A visit to Jason is cut short when Elissa receives a message that her brother, the bard Cimon, has been killed. She and Iolaus return to Acheron, and he helps her through her grief. The healer’s childhood friend, Aricia, asks her to look at her ill daughter. Iolaus bonds with Aricia’s son, Amyntas, while Elissa tries to help the child, but the little girl doesn’t make it. Another villager brings a wounded man that he’d found in the woods to the house. Iolaus and Elissa are shocked to see that it is Ares. Sinis had found a way to steal his godhood, and had savagely beaten him once he was mortal. Iolaus can’t help feeling that Ares got what he deserved, but Elissa dedicates herself to caring for him, even though it is clear that he is dying. She asks Zeus why he won’t help his son. He appears to give her the choice, and she chooses that Ares should live. Zeus heals Ares, but leaves him mortal, telling him he’ll have to earn his godhood back. Elissa and Iolaus leave Acheron to find Hercules and tell him the news about Sinis.
Chapter Seven: Another Tricky Day
Iolaus and Elissa are ambushed and taken to Ares’ fortress, now occupied by Sinis. He takes Elissa away and locks the hunter in a cell. Sinis offers to release both of them if Iolaus will kill Hercules, and promises to kill Elissa if he refuses.
Chapter Eight: Too Late the Hero
Iolaus refuses Sinis’ offer, so the god tortures Elissa in front of him. Aphrodite appears to Iolaus to let him know she’s told Hercules what’s happening, and that the demigod is coming to the rescue. Ares offers his assistance to Hercules, who reluctantly accepts. Sinis discovers them mid-rescue, thanks to Ares’ impetuousness. They beat his soldiers, but Sinis manages to fatally stab Elissa before he vanishes. Hercules and Iolaus bury Elissa, and go to Thebes to give Jason the sad news. Ares, feeling genuine remorse over the loss of the healer who saved his life, is given back his godhood. The demigod is left wondering if Iolaus will be able to get past his grief.
Chapter Nine: Forever’s No Time At All
Iolaus is in bad shape, haunted by the ghost of Elissa. Hercules tries to help his friend, sure that it is Sinis tormenting the grieving hunter. Iolaus succumbs to a fever, having given up on life. Elissa’s spirit appears to Hercules, and she tells him he needs to talk to the hunter and remind him that life is worth living. Hercules manages to talk him back. Ares appears to tell them that he’s called in a favor with Hades to restore Elissa to life, repaying her for asking Zeus to spare him. But she has eaten the food of the underworld, and had to drink from the river Lethe to be purified. Her memory has been erased, and Ares refuses to tell them where she is.
Chapter Ten: Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere
Iolaus and Hercules split up, searching Greece to find Elissa. The hunter inadvertently gets involved in saving a princess from a warlord intent on kidnaping her, and is badly wounded in the process. Princess Nessa is forced to cauterize the wound out in the woods. The king’s men find them, and take them back to the castle in Boeotia. Nessa has fallen in love with her rescuer, and schemes to keep him hostage, despite his insistence that he could never love her. Iolaus escapes the castle, just in time for Aphrodite to appear and offer to take him to Elissa. The healer doesn’t remember him, but Aphrodite gets the muse of history to restore her memory. Iolaus proposes.
Chapter Eleven: Darker Side of Night
Elissa suffers a miscarriage, but hides the fact from Iolaus. Sinis appears to turn Hercules and Iolaus into trees. Elissa and Salmoneus go to the temple of Aesclepius, seeking a cure. The healer is told she needs to enter another form of consciousness to speak to the god, and as a result, is snake bitten. She succumbs to the venom, but Salmoneus gets her out of the temple. When she wakes up, she reveals that Aesclepius has given her the answer. Elissa goes to Thebes, to recruit Jason to aid in her quest, and they set off for the island of Pharos to retrieve Proteus’ mirror. Sinis is tormenting her in her dreams, as well as goading Hercules and Iolaus. The god Nereus helps Jason and Elissa get to the island. They make it through a maze and defeat Sinis’ soldiers to get the mirror. Looking into it reflects one’s true self. Barely making it back in time, Elissa and Jason return with the mirror and restore Hercules and Iolaus to their true forms.
Chapter Twelve: Under a Raging Moon
In the midst of a raging storm, a battered Hercules returns to Acheron. He relates that Sinis had captured him, leaving his fate up to Zeus, who was also imprisoned. Zeus decided to save himself, putting his fate onto Hercules, who was made mortal and forced to run the gauntlet to leave. They decide the only way to stop Sinis is to kill him, using the blood of a gorgon. Timuron, the spirit who was tricked by Sisyphus, appears to tell them that the gods are all hiding in fear, but they sent the aid of their toys: Athena’s shield, Hades’ helmet of invisibility, and Hermes’ wing sandals. Since Hercules is out of commission, Iolaus goes after the gorgons alone. Ares goes after Sinis, serving as a distraction so that the hunter can get what he needs undetected. Using the toys of the gods, Iolaus manages to coat his sword with gorgon blood, but by the time he makes it back to Acheron, Sinis has stolen the godhoods of all the gods, and all of the toys are rendered useless. Hercules has fallen ill with pneumonia, and is fading fast. Elissa takes the sword with the gorgon blood and goes to confront Sinis. He tells her that he managed to find a fragment of an ancient opal, used by the titans in the battle for supremacy. The jewel has given him the power to rob the others of their godhood. He taunts her, saying that she won’t be able to kill him. She can’t bring herself to do it, but Iolaus gets Sinis from behind, having put some of the gorgon blood on his knife. Before he dies, Sinis verbally curses Elissa. Hestia, the only god left, offers to release the power of the gods from the opal fragment. But to do that, she’s have to restore all of the gods, and she gives the choice to Iolaus. Sinis has left the world in turmoil, and Iolaus decides that the gods are needed to put nature back on track, so he gives the jewel to Hestia. She heals Hercules, and restores his strength.
Chapter Thirteen: Calico Skies
Elissa’s sailor brother, Argeon, returns home, having gotten the message that she’d been killed. He’s overjoyed to find her alive and well, but grows angry when she tells him she is marrying Iolaus, someone he considers unsuitable and a danger to her welfare. They travel to Corinth for the wedding, where Argeon enlists his Persian shipmate’s help in breaking up the happy couple. Elissa ends up poisoned by a Persian demoness, lying unconscious and dying on her wedding day. Argeon flees when he sees what he’s done. Hercules calls on Aphrodite, but Zeus appears to him instead. The demigod, still feeling deeply betrayed by his father giving him up to Sinis, tells him he has nothing to say to him. But Zeus gives him an amulet that will take him to Persia, in order to get the fruit of the tree of life to cure Elissa. In Persia, Airyaman, the god of healing and friendship, gives him a task to complete before he can have the fruit. Iolaus decides that he needs to be with his partner, and he gets Aphrodite to send him to Persia. Together, Hercules and Iolaus defeat a storm demon. Airyaman shows them how much they mean to each other, and even though Iolaus is getting married, that won’t change the love they have for each other. They get the fruit of the tree of life and return to Greece. Elissa is cured, and she and Iolaus are married.
Chapter Fourteen: New Life
Iolaus and Hercules are off on a hunting trip. Elissa is captured by the warlord, Calais, and forced to tend to his wounded soldiers. She meets Hebe, an abused captive of Calais. Salmoneus catches up with Hercules and Iolaus, delivering the news about Elissa. The healer escapes the warlord’s camp, taking Hebe with her, and they meet up with Hercules and Iolaus on the road. They make a stand with the villagers when Calais shows up in Acheron to reclaim Hebe, and the warlord and his men are defeated. Hercules and Hebe begin to fall for each other.
Chapter Fifteen: The Price of Love
Hercules returns to Acheron with the news that Calais has escaped from prison. Salmoneus shows up to tell the demigod about a farmer’s son, kidnaped by Zeus. Hercules and Iolaus warn the town and scout the area for the warlord. They return home to find the barn on fire. Iolaus is unable to save the structure, but he finds Elissa unconscious in the yard. Hercules bursts in on Calais attacking Hebe and shatters the warlord’s skull. Despite his worry for her, he goes to Olympus to try and rescue the child, Ganymede. Zeus tries to stop him, but Hera tells him to take the child. Hercules returns the boy to his home, and upon returning to Acheron, Iolaus tells him that Hebe is gone, having been made a goddess and taken voluntarily to Olympus in Ganymede’s place to be the cup bearer of the gods.
Chapter Sixteen: The Way of the World
Hercules returns to Acheron to learn that Elissa has given birth prematurely, and the baby didn’t make it. Elissa is broken, blaming herself and believing that Sinis’ curse has come true. She pulls herself together to treat Jason after he falls ill from a spider bite. At her wishes, she and Iolaus travel to the temple of Hestia to seek the goddess’ council. Along the way, they make camp in a cave in a strange mountain, which is a trap. Both fall down a rocky slope into a pitch dark abyss, but they each manage to halt their descent and climb back out to freedom. Elissa consults with Hestia, who reassures her that she is not cursed and eventually will bear a child. Upon returning home, they find a haunted Argeon waiting for them.
Chapter Seventeen: Oceans Away
After an incident in Africa, Argeon and his shipmates are haunted by a malevolent presence. He came to Acheron, seeking help, but disappears from the house, a strange doll effigy left in his place. Jason takes them to Corinth, to consult with Asa, head of the palace stables and a native of Africa. Asa tells them that a priest, a Bokor, hired to extract vengeance, has taken Argeon back to Africa. The gang follows, but has difficulty tracking them down. An old woman gives Elissa a charm and a cryptic message. Hercules, Jason, and Asa find the altar where the Bokor and his followers assemble. They all keep watch, and are rewarded as the Bokor arrives with a group of people and Argeon. Hercules goes after the priest, but he escapes. Argeon also gets away, after Asa tells them that the sailor’s soul has been stolen and he is a slave to the Bokor’s wishes. Elissa is tagged by the coco macaque, an omen from the Bokor meaning she will be dead by morning. They go after the Bokor once more and defeat him, then petition Ghede, lord of the dead for Argeon’s soul. He wants a trade, but agrees to release the sailor’s soul when Elissa offers him the charm the old woman had given him, telling her to keep it. Asa tells her it bears the mark of Ayza, the protector, a very powerful god. Argeon thanks Iolaus for the help, apologizing for his previous actions, and giving him a long overdue welcome to the family.
Chapter Eighteen: Disguises
Hercules and Iolaus journey to Eretria to safeguard the peace talks, and Queen Merope in particular, who is in possession of a necklace that may be a powerful toy of the gods. The negotiations are uneventful, and Iolaus engages in a secret affair with the queen. On the concluding night of the talks, Iolaus is knocked out and Merope is ambushed by the captain of the guards, after her necklace. She escapes, and Hercules captures the culprit, but Ares destroys him with a fireball before he can talk. Now that the threat is over, it is revealed that Elissa has been masquerading as Queen Merope throughout the week. She returns the necklace to the real queen, who has been acting as her servant. Hercules accompanies her and the king back to Messenia to ensure the necklace’s safety, and Elissa and Iolaus return to Acheron.
Chapter Nineteen: Dangerous
Iolaus is out trying to amuse himself while Elissa is attending a healing symposium in Athens. He stops to help a traveler being attacked, unaware that it is a trap. Iolaus awakes in an unfamiliar, remote area of Greece. A group of men have brought him there for a “game”. They are the hunters and Iolaus is to be the prey. They give him a head start, but soon come after him. Iolaus defeats the first man, but takes an arrow to the shoulder. He defeats the next two attackers as well, but his wound becomes infected and he’s considerably weakened by the time he has to face the final man, the ringleader, Lycomedes. Iolaus makes a noble attempt, but Lycomedes overpowers him. Hercules shows up in the nick of time to save his friend, but Lycomedes escapes. The demigod tends to his friend’s injury, relating that Artemis had told him where to find his partner. Hercules nurses Iolaus through the infection, and when he’s well, they return together to Athens, where Elissa reveals that she’s pregnant.
Chapter Twenty: Things Have Changed
Iolaus, feeling the pull of domestic life, decides to settle down and build a forge. Elissa is suffering from acute morning sickness, but that doesn’t stop her from traveling to Eustria to treat an epidemic. She is puzzled by the mysterious illness, and even more so when Iolaus succumbs to it shortly after they arrive. Hercules soon follows. Ares appears to offer a trade. He’ll give her the answer to what is causing the illness, if she will agree to give him her baby, which he senses will be a great warrior. Elissa is horrified and refuses. She finally figures out on her own that the illness is due to tainted well water, probably poisoned with something. Hercules and Iolaus recover completely, and they all return to Acheron to find Petria, Aurora’s aunt, waiting for them. Aurora has run away to Corinth, and Petria asks Iolaus to go and find her and bring her home. Worried about the girl, Iolaus agrees to go after her.
Chapter Twenty-One: Til the Rivers All Run Dry
Iolaus finds Aurora in Corinth, but he cannot convince her to return home, and he refuses to force her. Upon arriving back in Acheron, Elissa gives him a message from Niobe, asking for his help. Iolaus, Hercules, and Elissa go to Attica, where an attempt has been made on Niobe’s life and Hector has been grievously wounded saving her. Niobe has been seeing and hearing things that no one else has witnessed. Linus suspects she’s still in love with Iolaus, and making up the dangers in order to keep him there, or else she’s going mad. The trio finally figure out that Niobe’s advisor has been drugging her in order to make her seem mad, so that the throne will fall to him. Niobe offers Iolaus and Elissa positions in the castle, but they decide to return home to Acheron.
Chapter Twenty-Two: Water
Hercules arrives in Acheron for Iolaus’ birthday, bringing him the gift of a puppy. Villagers begin falling ill, reminiscent of what happened in Eustria. Hercules, Iolaus, and Jason stake out the town well, and catch a man, Culperius, trying to poison it. He escapes from custody and goes after Elissa, whom he blames for his capture. The puppy holds him off until Hercules and Iolaus can stop him. Hercules volunteers to take Culperius to Athens for trial, and Elissa gives him a drug to sedate him and make the transport easier, but the madman reacts badly to the herb and dies. Culperius’ family brings charges against the healer, and she is arrested. Iphicles moves the trial to Corinth, but the Athenians insist that the case falls under their jurisdiction. The Athenian statesman, Aristides, arrives in Corinth to judge the trial. He rules Culperius’ death accidental. Jason escorts Elissa back to Acheron. Iolaus and Hercules stay behind to deal with Aurora, who has been arrested for stealing. She agrees to go back to Acheron with them, but runs away in the middle of the night. Hercules and Iolaus arrive back home. Elissa goes into labor.
Miracle of Love
A man comes to Acheron seeking Hercules’ help in defeating a monster terrorizing his village. The demigod refuses to leave, promising to come and help after Iolaus’ child is born. A complication develops in the labor, and Hebe appears to tell Hercules that Hera, angered over his refusal to go and face his monster, has kidnaped the goddess of childbirth. In an attempt to save Elissa and the baby, Hercules goes to Sardis to fight the creature, picking up Xena and Gabrielle along the way. The beast turns out to be tougher than they thought, and the first battle ends in a draw. Working together, they finally manage to slay the monster. Hercules returns to Acheron to find Iolaus and Elissa have a healthy baby girl, which they have named Hercale, in honor of him. Hercules talks with Hebe, and makes peace with what has happened between them. Ares appears to secretly put his claim on the baby.
Chapter Twenty-Four: When the Sun Comes Up
While visiting his ill mother, Iolaus makes peace with her and the events of his youth. Upon returning home to Acheron, they find a distraught Aurora waiting there. She won’t say what’s wrong, but it finally comes out that her uncle has been taking advantage of her. Iolaus has a “chat” with the man to ensure it never happens again, and he and Elissa welcome Aurora into their home. Hercules and Iolaus set out to deal with a monster in Imbros, although Elissa is not in favor of it. During the battle, Iolaus, who has been stung by the creature’s venomous tail and believing himself to be dying, sacrifices himself to save Hercules and he and the monster go over a cliff. Hercules finds him and takes him back to Acheron. Hebe allows Hercules and Aurora to transfer their youthful energy into Iolaus, keeping him alive until Elissa can find the cure for the venom. But Elissa and Hercules are left waiting for Iolaus to wake up, not knowing how badly he may still be hurt.
Chapter Twenty-Five: The Way It Is
Iolaus is left paralyzed from his fall and in his despondance he turns his back on his family and friends. Jason takes a hunting party after a rogue lion and barely makes it back to Acheron alive. Amyntas declares his intent to go after the lion and asks Iolaus for advice. Unwilling to let the boy go alone, Iolaus has him summon Hercules and the three of them go after the beast. On the journey, Iolaus and Hercules make peace with what happened in Imbros and with each other. They find the lion and battle it, with Iolaus doling out the killing blow. The hunters return home to reveal another fall reversed Iolaus' paralysis. Hebe convinces Hercules to give their love a chance. Ares visits Cale and reveals he was behind Iolaus' recovery because he needs her father to teach her before she becomes his.
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