Disclaimers: None are mine, they belong to Ren Pictures and mythology. Macaria's background was created by a friend and tweaked by me. Neither of them may be used elsewhere.

Author's Note: This is a result of watching the classic Hercules TV movies and wanting to write something. So of course, I choose Macaria as my muse. Set after "Maze of the Minotaur" and right before "The Wrong Path". Very alternate universe. Iolaus has married Anya and lost her, and the children they had. Hercules is still married to Deianira and their children are still alive. This is not part of "Twisted Lies" series but it helps to read that to know who Macaria is. Also, Strife is alive in my stories. I didn't like how Callisto killed him, so I kept him alive :)

Summary: Strife gives Macaria the Cronus Stone, which accidentally transports her to the past...where her mother and brothers are still alive.

Chalice of the Gods

By: JLBFiction

Chapter One—Strange Days

The sounds of fists meeting face were a common one for the young woman as she ducked a flying fist herself. She picked up the nearest object next to her and crashed it over the head of her attacker. The big, hulking man went down and she stepped over him. "Never underestimate someone because of how they look." She sneered down at the man.

On the other side of the tavern, a tall broad shouldered man was slinging three men at once into another man. They went like dominoes stacks and fell. A shelf above them broke, various objects falling and scattering down around them. Not too far from the broad shouldered man, a smaller but well built man with curly blond hair was holding his own. He was fast and agile, his footing amazing. His kicks and jumps were to be envied by those without this type of skill. For a moment the young woman just watched. He was a blur of blond and leather.

Suddenly though, he was approached behind and while he was busy hitting his opponent, the man behind him started to raise a table. Quickly, the young woman acted racing over there and kicking the man in the back. The table went flying over the blond man, and he ducked and turned, letting his left leg kick his opponent in the stomach. He turned to the young woman and offered her a smile. "Thanks."

"Not a problem. Looked like you could use a hand."

Three men came flying at them and landed near their feet. The two looked up to see the tall, broad shouldered man approach them. "Maybe next time." he stated while looking down at the three who had passed out, "You'll mind your manners." Hercules glanced over at his companions; his daughter Macaria, and his best friend, Iolaus. "Need any help?"

"We got it." Iolaus said. He reached over to the bar they'd been sitting at before and picked up his mug of ale and took a long drink. "Why is it we can never go anywhere without getting bothered?"

"Maybe it's because someone has a big mouth?" Hercules looked pointedly at his traveling companions. Both were known to voice their opinions and strongly.

"Who?" Macaria demanded. "You're not talking about me, are you? It's not my fault. I was sitting down to eat dinner." She insisted. "That guy didn't have the right to bother me."

That much was true. "It could have been handled better." The demigod insisted with a sigh. "But what's done is done. Let's try to eat the rest of our dinner in peace, and help Mathias clean this mess up later OK?"

"Sounds good to me." Iolaus pulled out a stool and sat down. "Speaking of which, I could use another glass of ale."

"You've probably had enough, Iolaus." Hercules cast his friend a glance. Two glasses after dinner and Iolaus's mouth was on turbo charge. Hercules for once wanted a quiet evening and that's why he'd choose this Inn to come to. To have dinner, get a bed to sleep in and relax.

Naturally that couldn't ever happen, right?

Dinner was finished and the three sat about to fixing the inn back up. Mathias was pleased and gave them rooms for free. Macaria yawned after the last bit of debris had been cleaned up. "I'm heading to bed." She announced with a yawn. "I'm beat."

"Goodnight." Hercules said with affection giving her a hug. "You know where my room is if you need anything." He told her. Macaria nodded and returned the hug, giving Iolaus a good night as she headed up the stairs. She was wiped out from this evening. The cleaning and the fighting had worked it's wear on her.

Halfway up the stairs the young woman paused and turned. Her skin crawled and she had the distinct feeling of being watched. A high pitched laugh proved her right and she turned. "Strife." Macaria greeted with disdain.

The god of mischief posed near the doorway and grinned at her. "Hiya, cuz." He said. "So helpin' the big guy and the mouthy one out again eh? Don't you ever get bored of that?"

"Don't you ever get bored bothering me?"

Strife looked around and then shrugged. "Nah. Not really. It's my favorite thing to do, besides help Unc out." He grinned. "Which is what I'm doin' tonight."

"Then you must not have much of a life huh?" Macaria smirked.

Strife made a face at her. "You have a big mouth!"

"Now why does everyone say that to me?" Macaria placed her hands on her hips.

"Eh, I can fix that." Strife grinned at her. "Take this." He tossed something at the young woman, which she caught. She stared down at it in curiosity. The green stone glowed brightly and she picked it up.

"What is this?"

"Turn it." Strife motioned quickly with his fingers for Macaria to turn it. She did so and the green stone glowed brighter. With fluid movements the room shifted and before she knew it, the scenery had changed. Macaria glanced around her. She didn't recognize where she was and frowned. The green scone shaped thing was still in her hand but it now no longer glowed. She just knew something had happened, and she needed to find help.

The young woman was now in a wooded area, no longer in the inn with her father and his best friend. She walked along. The forest was big, huge. It looked as though civilization hadn't came to this area yet. She placed the scone shaped thing in her coin purse and felt it bounce against her hip. Macaria could feel confusion threatening to overtake her. She had to keep calm. Once she made it out of these woods she would find help and figure out where she was. From there, she would go back to the Inn and alert her father that Strife and Ares were up to something.

Macaria kept that in her mind as she walked along. She could see that it had grown dark. There was no stars in the sky tonight but the moon was full and out. She sucked in a breath and let it out, watching as her own breath danced before her. The chill in the air made the hair on her arms stand. Finally, the girl came to the edge of the forest. There was just the sliver of a winding road in her way. As she walked down the twist of a road, Macaria felt a strange sense of deja vu hit her. Had she been here before? It seemed she had though—for the life of her, the girl couldn't remember when.

But she knew she had been.

Macaria came to the end of the road. There was a simple hut before her. A horse was feeding in the pasture. A dog lay on the end of the porch, dozing. The feeling of deja vu was strong now, so overwhelmingly strong but Macaria couldn't place where she was. She approached the hut, and the dog looked up. He gave a half hearted yip at her before laying back down. Obviously he saw no threat in the girl and she continued her exploration. She went to the door and knocked.

"Excuse me." A voice said. "Are you looking for someone?" Macaria turned to see a pleasant looking woman with long, wind blown hair wearing a red dress. She carried with her a basket of clothing and looked concerned.

"I..." Macaria started. She didn't know what to say. She frowned again and was sure the woman probably thought she was an intruder, or worse. "Sort of. I'm lost." She explained.

"Oh. Well." The woman smiled. "You're outside of Corinth if that helps any. I'm Deianira." She offered her hand as she walked towards Macaria.

That's when her eyes nearly popped out of her head. Deianira?

Recovering as quickly as she could, Macaria managed a small smile. "Hi. I'm Macaria." She wondered if the name would strike any confusion in the woman, but she didn't seem to.

"It's nice to meet you." Deianira shook her hand, warmly. "If you'd like a glass of water you can follow me. My husband will be coming in from town with my children shortly and he can help you find your way back home." Deianira said. "Come along."

Macaria couldn't believe how trustworthy this woman was being. She was a stranger, and as far as Deianira knew she could be dangerous. Shouldn't she be more aware, alert? "Um...OK." She followed Deianira inside the hut. She was overcome with deja vu now, sharp and strong.

Macaria studied Deianira. If this was the woman whom she thought it was, her heart was pounding and being twisted all at once. She closed her eyes and took a breath following the woman into her kitchen.

"You have a very pretty name, Macaria." Deianira smiled at her as she pulled a mug out and poured clear spring water into it. "My daughter is named Macaria, but we call her Illea." Deianira handed Macaria the mug and she nearly dropped it. What in Hades was going on here? How could this...be? Where had Strife sent her?

"Ah...thank you." Macaria stumbled over her words. "My mother choose the name." Couldn't Deianira guess who she was? Couldn't she see?"

"Where are you from, Macaria?" Deianira asked with a friendly smile. "We don't get many travelers out here."

"I'm from Thebes." She said the first village name that popped into her mind. It was a few miles away and would seem innocent enough.

"Oh?" Deianira rose a brow. "I've been there many times. It's a beautiful city."

Yes, it was. Macaria had been there enough times to know the city by heart so she could comment as well. "It is."

"Deianira!" A familiar voice boomed out, giving her chills. Both women turned to the sound. Macaria wondered if it could be-

"Come along. Meet my husband and children." Deianira insisted. She practically dragged Macaria along with her. Indeed it was who she thought when Hercules came up to the front porch with her older brothers, Aeson and Cronus and her little self.

I'm in the past. Macaria realized, eyes wide. She studied her younger self, clinging to her father's leg.

"And who do we have here?" Hercules asked as he approached. He studied Macaria for a long moment, his eyes narrowing. She knew that look. Hercules thought she was up to something.

"This is Macaria." Deianira greeted. "She's lost her way. I told her that you could help her get back to Thebes."

"Macaria eh?" The demigod glanced down at his own Macaria, who's family name had been Illea as a child. "And you're lost." He stated dryly. Macaria could almost hear Hercules's thoughts; How convent.

"Yes. Hello." She gazed at a much younger version of her father. There were no lines around his eyes yet, and he stood tall and straight, like always. He really didn't look much different except there was more joy in his face instead of that downtrodden, contemplative look she'd came to know.

"Hello. It's nice to meet you. I'm Hercules." He greeted and held his hand out. Macaria shook it.

"He's a half god." Her oldest brother, Aeson piped up. "Did you know that?" Macaria grinned at the boy. She didn't remember her brothers at all and this was amazing.

"Yes, I knew that." Macaria smiled at the eager boy.

"Aeson!" Hercules admonished. "Introduce yourself properly."

Both her brothers did so quickly, with her little self mumbling a quick hello and returned to clinging to her father's legs. Macaria couldn't remember ever doing that. The sight was endearing to herself.

"Deianira, why don't you take the kids inside?" Hercules asked his wife. "And that way I can get directions to Macaria's village." Deianira smiled, nodded and herded the children inside.

"Alright. Come out with it, Strife. You don't belong here." Hercules crossed his arms over his chest and glared at her.

"Strife?" Macaria snorted once. "He's the one who sent me here. I'm not a god."

"Then who are you? You come with my daughter's birth name? I think I know a trap when I see one. If you had hurt my wife while I was gone I swear by any god on Olympus I'll-"

"I'm not a god!" Macaria insisted. She glared at her father. "I'm who I say I am. Strife sent me here. I was with you and Iolaus in an Inn."

Hercules narrowed his eyes again and studied her. "What are you saying?"

"I'm your daughter." She said and related the story quickly. She showed Hercules the weird scone shaped thing Strife had given her. The demigod took it and examined it. "Careful, don't turn it." Macaria warned. Hercules looked up, surprised and wasn't sure if he believed the young woman's story.

"I'm still not sure you're not working for a god. I'm sorry. I can't have you around my family."

"Hercules!" Deianira came out of the house, arms folded. She had heard the whole story. "I can't believe you're acting like this. Can't you see she's not a god? Can't you see who she is?"

"Deianira, I'm only thinking of you and the kids. What if she's working for a god? What if she's working for...someone like Hera?"

At the mention of Hera, Macaria shivered. "I haven't told you everything yet." She said to Hercules.

"Then come inside." Deianira said. "It's late, and getting cold out here. You can tell us your story inside." She motioned for them both to follow. Hercules reluctantly let Macaria in, and the three headed to the kitchen. Once inside, Macaria started from the beginning. She had to tell someone who she was, and she might as well make sure it was family. She left out the part of Hera killing Deianira and her brothers.

Hercules stared at the young woman. He had to admit it was a fantastic story and it could be a ploy for one of the gods. "How can we trust you?" He asked.

"Because she's our daughter." Deianira insisted. "A mother knows these things. She looks too much like you, Hercules." She said.

"I don't know." The demigod mumbled.

"This sounds just like you, Father." Macaria said and rolled her eyes. "You think too much about things."

Deianira smiled. "She's got you there, Hercules. Alright. It's settled. We're taking a chance because she's our daughter, but we won't tell the kids this. She'll be a family friend. There's an extra room you can stay in, Macaria, until you find your way back to the present." Deianira said firmly. She turned to Hercules and wagged a finger at the demigod. "And no arguments. Understood?"

Hercules held his hands up. "Law has been laid out." He said. He wasn't sure if he bought Macaria's story yet or not, but she knew too many things about him that wouldn't be privy to the Gods.

"Come along, Macaria. I'm sure you're tired, and hungry. I'll get you some towels and bedding." Deianira flashed a warm smile. The young woman glanced at the younger version of her father and shrugged, following her mother.

This has been a strange day. Macaria thought. She had a feeling it was going to get a lot stranger.

###

The sunlight poured into the thin curtains of her room. Macaria opened her eyes and for a moment wondered if last night had been a dream, perhaps a result of eating too much spicy chilly. She laughed to herself, imagining the look on her father and Iolaus's face when she told them the dream she had.

"Gotta get up." Iolaus would still be snoozing, but she was sure she'd find Hercules down in the inn eating breakfast. Macaria got up and started dressing back in her leathers. She brushed her hair quickly and plaited it and slipped into her boots. The realization of where she was hit her as she glanced around the room. It was homey, with the bed she slept on decorated in a thick quilt of blues, purples and pinks. The throw pillows on the bed were the same shade. There was a small dresser next to her.

Macaria walked towards the door. She could hear voices in the kitchen. "No!" Came the sound of her brother, Aeson. "Father said I could look out for Uncle Iolaus! He promised, Mother!"

"But you have to eat your breakfast first." She could hear her mother insisting. Macaria drew in a deep breath and opened the door. She walked down the short hallway, peering into the kitchen. Kronus was already digging into breakfast, making a mess.

"I'm going too!" He insisted, through a mouthful of food.

"Are not!" Aeson glared.

"Am so!"

"I wanna go!" Macaria heard her younger self pipe up. "I wanna go and watch for Uncle Iolaus too!"

"You can't go." Aeson turned to her. "You're a girl. This is a man's job."

Macaria watched her younger face turn into a puckered frown. "Mommy, I can go too can't I?" The little Illea asked.

"Of course you can. And so can Kronus." Deianira said. "And no arguments, Aeson. Or nobody gets to go!"

"But Mother, how can I watch out for Uncle Iolaus with a bunch of babies following me around?" The young boy pouted once and sat down, angrily grabbing a spoon. He started to eat his oatmeal.

"You will. Your father has a few errands to run in town this morning, and you three can go wait for Iolaus to come."

"He'll be happy to see us." Aeson said. "And he'll have a story!"

"Yeah." Illea piped up.

"Um...good morning." Macaria said awkwardly. Deianira looked up and smiled.

"Good morning. Have a seat. There's enough oatmeal and warm bread for everyone if you're hungry."

"Oh...it's OK." Macaria wagged a hand. "I can go for a quick hunt and find something. No need."

"You absolutely will not." Deianira said. "Sit, eat. If you want to hunt something for lunch that's fine but everyone eats. Now sit."

Macaria found herself sitting and enjoying a bowl of oatmeal and warm bread. Deianira cooked just as good as her grandmother Alcmene did—and maybe a little better! She would never say that thought out loud, though.

"What are your plans for the day, Macaria?" Deianira asked.

"Well." The girl paused in the middle of eating and swallowed. "I'm going to need to find a temple of Ares." She said. "Is there one anywhere around here?"

"Not here. Corinth mostly has worshipers for Zeus." Deianira said. "But in Myzontius there's a temple. It's said to be Ares's favorite."

Macaria nodded. "I'll have to go there. That's in Thrace right? Near Amphipolis."

"Yes." Deianira agreed. "You can't stay a while?"

She gave her mother a small smile. "I would like to, but it might interfere with things. I'm not even supposed to be here." She reminded.

"Make your f-" Deianira paused before she said it. "Make Hercules go with you. The followers of Ares in Myzontius are a bloodthirsty bunch."

Macaria nodded. "I will." She promised. Before she knew it, she had cleaned her bowl and had a second piece of warm bread. Her belly was full and she rose to take her dish to the sink. Deianira took it from her. "Go on. The children will show you where Hercules is." She smiled at her daughter.

"OK, thanks."

"Come on!" Aeson said eagerly. "We have to show Macaria where Father is. Then we'll go wait for Uncle Iolaus." He looked at his brother and sister impatiently. "Why do you eat so slow?"

"Aeson, calm down." His mother warned.

Finally, the four were ready. Aeson talked nonstop as he showed Macaria the path they were taking. "And Father went on a lot of adventures. One day, I'm gonna be a hero just like him." Her oldest brother insisted.

"Me too!" Kronus piped up. "I'm gonna be his sidekick!"

"Me too!" Illea agreed. "I'm gonna fight bad guys just like Daddy does."

Aeson snorted. "You're a girl." He said. "Girls can't fight."

Macaria grinned at the boy. "Oh really?" She asked. "Watch this." She took off running down the road and back-flipped twice. Then Macaria leaped up, catching a branch. She swung herself into it and then allowed herself to hang upside down. The children ran towards her, eyes wide.

"How did you do that?" Aeson asked. "That was awesome!"

"Yeah! It was really cool!" Kronus followed.

"See?" Illea insisted. "Girls are smarter than boys." She stuck her tongue out at her brothers. Macaria grinned at the three. "It took a long time to learn how to do this." She let go of the branch and rolled to a standing position.

"Are you a warrior too?" Aeson asked as he glanced up at Macaria. "You don't look like a regular girl."

"You can say that." Macaria didn't know what to call herself anymore. She wasn't the assasin to a God, but she was in between. "I went to a school to learn how to fight. And you should never fight unless it's the last thing you can do."

"You sound like Father." Aeson rolled his eyes. "And our father went to a school to learn how to fight, too." He said happily.

Illea tugged on Macaria's leather skirts. Macaria paused and gazed down at her younger self, then knelt. "Yes?"

"Can girls really do that?" Illea asked. "I wanna be like that. I wanna do what my daddy does and help people!"

Macaria couldn't believe she'd once looked so innocent. Or that she had two names back then—her birth name, Macaria and her family name, Illea. "You will." Macaria said. "But remember, people love you so much. Never forget that OK?" She asked the little girl.

It was easy to see Illea didn't understand. But she nodded as though she did. The children came upon the town of Corinth, which wasn't the city Macaria recalled. It was smaller, and even though the markets were bustling with activity it wasn't near as big as what she knew.

"Father is with the other farmers." Aeson said. "Haggling for pigs and cows. He hates it but we need the food, Mother says. We're going to the end of the city. Uncle Iolaus will be coming in from that way cause he lives in Thebes."

"Yep." Macaria smiled at her brothers. "Be careful OK?"

The kids nodded, then took off down the road to wait for Iolaus.

Now the young woman had a chance to look around. She eyed the booths, seeing the simpler clothing that wasn't the style she herself wore, but more her mother's style. The farming booths were next. She could see her father haggling over a chicken.

"Come on." Hercules insisted. "It's a chicken! How much can it be worth?"

"It'll feed your family. So you ask me."

"I am. Ten dinars is all I'm willing to give."

"Make it fifteen." Macaria walked over and pulled out a dinar from her coin bag. "On me." She flipped it towards the merchant who took it happily.

"Sold. One chicken." He handed the squacking beast to it's new owner. Apprehnsively the demigod took the animal. The chicken clucked and tried to peck him. "Ow!" Hercules winced. "I hate chickens."

"Try holding it upside down by the feet." Macaria suggested. "That way they can't peck you."

Hercules did so, finding it much easier. "Don't tell me you're a farmer, too."

"Nah. Just a little tip I got from a family friend." She shrugged. "Deianira told me to find you. I need to head to a temple of Ares in Thrace."

"Ah. The Myzontius temple?"

"The very one. I haven't been there so I'll need directions." She told her father. "And don't worry. I was sure to not mess anything up here so anything in the present time is as it was. And once I get ahold of Strife he's in a world of hurt." Macaria narrowed her eyes.

"How did you—why are you dressed as a warrior?" Hercules asked. Despite himself, he couldn't understand why she wasn't dressed as a regular girl. She couldn't be more than sixteen, right?

"It's a long story, Hercules." Macaria let out a sigh. "And right now, I don't have the time to tell you."

"Well, I can't head to Myzontius yet. I have to get this beast home to my wife first. And I have company coming by. You might as well bunk with me for the night again, and in the morning we'll head to the temple." the demigod promised.

Macaria frowned. "And how are you going to explain Iolaus to me?"

Hercules glanced at the girl and frowned. "Deianira suggested we tell him who you are. You know him anyway right?"

Macaria gave that some thought. She did, but would Iolaus be accepting of this? Probably not. He would be like Hercules had been, a little suspicious. "I guess we can. There's no reason why we can't."

"OK. Well." Hercules held up his chicken. "I guess we can go take this to my wife. I wonder if she knows how to kill it." He tossed Macaria a grin. "Let's go find out."

###

Disclaimers: None are mine, they belong to Ren Pictures and mythology. Macaria's background was created by a friend and tweaked by me. Neither of them may be used elsewhere.

Author's Note: This is a result of watching the classic Hercules TV movies and wanting to write something. So of course, I choose Macaria as my muse. Set after "Maze of the Minotaur" and right before "The Wrong Path". Very alternate universe. Iolaus has married Anya and lost her, and the children they had. Hercules is still married to Deianira and their children are still alive. This is not part of "Twisted Lies" series but it helps to read that to know who Macaria is. Also, Strife is alive in my stories. I didn't like how Callisto killed him, so I kept him alive :)

Summary: Strife gives Macaria the Cronus Stone, which accidentally transports her to the past...where her mother and brothers are still alive.

Chapter Two—Bonding

Deianira did know how to kill a chicken. A chore she found more amusing than anything else. "Big bad hero." She scoffed and took the squawking chicken from Hercules. "You can slay a Hydra with three heads, but you can't defeat a simple barnyard animal?" She held it up and Hercules backed away.

"That thing didn't peck you all the way home did it?" He asked, holding up his hand. There were peck marks all over it. His wife meerly chuckled and shook her head. "You have company waiting for you." She said. "Your sons are in the barn with Iolaus. He's teaching them how to fight like they do in the East."

Hercules smiled. "I'll be back." he gave his wife a kiss and headed outside. Sure enough, he could see Iolaus as he was trying to help Kronus do a back-flip. He managed to swing the boy around and land him safely on the ground.

Of course, Aeson wanted to go next. "Me next, Uncle Iolaus! Me! You promised!"

Hercules smiled at the scene and watched as Iolaus patiently explained the trick to Aeson, who was able to do the "back flip" as well. Illea was inside as well and Hercules watched as she conned Iolaus into showing her how to do the back flip too, despite the boy's protests. "Well." The demigod choose this as his moment to approach. "I see traveling the East has been good for you."

Iolaus gave his charming laugh and grinned. "Herc!" He greeted, holding his arm out for Hercules to shake.

Hercules went as though to shake his friend's arm but instead pulled him in for a hug. The two men smiled at each other. "It's good to see you."

"Likewise. I've got so much to tell you." Iolaus said.

"As do I." Hercules gave him a meaningful look, one eyebrow raised. Iolaus tilted his head. He knew that look and wondered what it meant. "Anyway. Was just showing the kids some of my new moves." He grinned and bounced into position, holding his hands out in front of him. "Who's ready to take me on?" Iolaus asked.

"Me!" Came the shouts of three children as they attacked Iolaus at once. The hunter went reeling backwards, letting out a cry and landed on his back. "Help! I'm attacked by midget warriors!"

Hercules laughed to himself, shaking his head. He was glad to see Iolaus smiling again. After the death of his wife Ania and their son who followed her a few months later it looked like Iolaus would never smile again. But now, he seemed to be the cheery man Hercules once knew.

"Who won, Uncle Iolaus?" Illea asked, as she and her brothers sat on his chest. "It was me, right?"

"No, it was me." Aeson insisted. He gave Illea a look. "Besides, I already told you. Girls can't fight. Get over it."

"Macaria can!" Illea protested. "She can do backflips and hang from trees!" She stuck her tongue out at her brother.

Hercules scooped Illea up. "I think that's enough." He said. "Come on guys, you don't need to be fighting all the time. And not on Iolaus. Let him rest a moment."

"Aww, I'm alright Herc." Iolaus sat Aeson and Kronus down, then looked up at his best friend a little confused. "Macaria?"

"It's a long story but one I want to talk to you about."

"I've got the time."

Hercules carried his daughter as he left the barn, Iolaus and the boys following. "Put me on your shoulders, Daddy." Illea insisted. "I wanna be as tall as you." Hercules chuckled to himself and did just that as the little girl clung to his head while he walked.

"So there's something going on huh Herc?" Iolaus asked as he walked. He was careful to monitor the conversation knowing that children were present.

"You could say that. It's a strange story. Still not sure I believe it."

The hunter looked up at his friend, wondering. He could sense a serious subject was approaching and fast. As they reached the hut, Hercules sat Illea down. She hurried up the steps, her brothers joining.

"So what's going on Hercules?" Iolaus asked.

"I don't know how to explain it." the demigod did look confused. "All I can say is-"

"Who's that? Since when did you buy a slave?" Iolaus demanded suddenly. "Hercules, I can't believe you'd buy a slave! She doesn't look old enough to even be away from home!" He admonished as a girl about sixteen came out of the edge of the woods. She carried a bit of firewood with her.

"What? She's not my slave, Iolaus." Hercules insisted. "She's...she's my daughter."

And at the shocked look on Iolaus's face, Hercules began the strange tale.

###

Iolaus wasn't sure what to make of Hercules's story. It was odd. A Time traveler from another place...brought here by Strife. He shook his head. She did look like she could maybe be his best friend's daughter. For Hercules's sake, he hoped it was.

Dinner with the family had been nice. It'd been great to see Hercules, Deianira and the kids again. Though seeing Hercules's small family made him ache for the death of his only son. He could still see the baby's smile, hear him coo in his mind. Quickly the hunter shut these thoughts off. He had time to mourn and although he would miss both son and wife he could no longer dwell on those times. He would become that shadow of the man he was. Iolaus turned his thoughts to something else. Hercules's new house-guest.

He had watched her carefully through dinner, wondering if she was Discord or Strife masquerading as a girl. Strife had once masqueraded as a student when they'd been cadets at Cheiron's Academy and nobody had been the wiser for a long time. And yes, Iolaus had to admit that he saw Deianira and Hercules in the girl.

"There you are, Iolaus." Deianira came outside. In her arms were a bundle of blankets and pillows. She smiled at him. "I brought you some blankets for tonight. Hercules is setting up the den for you."

"Oh, thank you Deianira." He smiled and took the bundle from her. "What do you think of all this?" He asked the woman.

"Of our guest, you mean?" Deianira nodded once. "I believe her. She looks like Illea. She's my daughter." the woman said simply. "I'll help her any way I can."

"Hercules thinks it's a trick. Something to do with Discord or Strife maybe." Iolaus warned the woman. "They've done things like this before."

"Did he tell you her story?"

"Yeah."

Deianira sighed. "I understand that Hercules is protective of me and the children, but that's his child too. I can see it even if he can't. It's something a mother knows." She gave a shrug. "Anyway, welcome back Iolaus." Deianira leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "Goodnight."

"Night, Deianira." Iolaus smiled gratefully at the woman and watched her walk inside. He headed inside in time to catch Macaria as she must have been getting ready for bed. "Hello." Iolaus greeted.

"Oh...Hello." Macaria flashed him a quick smile. "Goodnight, Iolaus."

It surprised him that the girl knew him already. But then again, given her story...

"Night." the hunter shook his head and headed into his own area to sleep in. Sleep came easy to him since he'd been on the road for a long while. It was good to be back home and with people who loved him. The hunter's eyes closed and soon he'd drifted off to sleep.

Morning came too quickly. Iolaus was up when he heard the kids eating breakfast in the kitchen and Hercules arguing with Deianira about something. Iolaus grabbed his vest and slipped it on and walked into the kitchen. "Morning."

Hercules turned. He was covered in sticky oatmeal and looked upset. Deianira was trying not to laugh. "Aeson is a messy eater." Hercules explained to his friend.

Iolaus chuckled. "Well, sure. Blame it on the kid."

"There's a plate for you, Iolaus." Deianira motioned to the table. Macaria was already there. She had a slightly amused look on her face and was eating.

"So you are going to be able to go to Myzontius today?" Macaria asked Hercules. He took a cloth and wiped his chest, getting rid of the sticky mess.

"I should be able to." Hercules agreed. "It'll take two days to get there. Ready for an adventure?" He asked Iolaus.

Iolaus grinned lazily and helped himself to some warm bread and butter. "As long as I don't get kidnapped by any Minotaurs this time, sure." He grinned and took a bite of the bread. "Where we going?"

"Myzontius." Hercules said. "To the Temple of Ares."

Iolaus almost choked. "You sure this is a good idea?"

"Not really but it shouldn't take long. Macaria needs the directions there so we'll escort her." Hercules was slipping his favored yellow vest on and making sure there was nothing sticky on it.

"Fine with me." Iolaus agreed. He rose and made sure to take his plate to the sink before Deianira could do anything. Hercules gave him a smile and he handed the rag he was cleaning himself with to his wife. "Come on, let's go."

The three headed outside, with Deianira forcing a basket of goodies in their hands. "Food for the trip. Be careful." She waved and watched as they started down the winding road that had brought Macaria to her destination.

A strange silence settled over them. Iolaus took a quick glance at the girl. She looked like a warrior, not like how he imagined that Illea would look like one day. He wondered why. What happened to Hercules's daughter to give her that shadowed look in her eyes?