By Jenn M
Icy water filled small lungs. Struggles for survival lost out to death's uncaring grip.
Sybil watched with dispassionate eyes as her children lost their battle with the water. Hands rested on her distended belly. She could feel the hopeful life pushing against her palms.
She had almost reconsidered her decision at the first desperate cries. Then with a firm resolve, she watched the slow drowning of her seven children.
Her despair had become all consuming. This was the only way out for her.
A single tear coursed down her cheek. The last couple of months flashed through her tired mind.
When news came of her husband Jordan's death, something snapped in an already fragile psyche.
The days that followed went as though in slow motion.
The children crying for food to fill their empty bellies. Having to sell anything of value, including her beautiful gold and jade wedding bracelet.
The dinars didn't go far. All too soon the stores of food were depleted.
Sybil was in a state of deep melancholy.
Jordan had been gone for so long. He had left her alone with two small children to fight for their King.
Soon after his departure, Sybil discovered she was again with child.
She had done every thing possible to keep their small farm going. For a short time the young mother was successful. Then Jordan returned home.
He had taken a leave to come see her and the children. He stayed just long enough to leave another child growing in her womb.
This was to be the pattern during the following years. Each time it became harder to make ends meet.
Sure Jordan sent what money he could, but it was nowhere near enough.
Sybil became short tempered, often losing control with the kids. On more than one occasion they sported bruises as proof of her abuse.
To add to this they had to deal with their Mother's ever deepening state of depression. Every day was a struggle.
Jordan had promised on his last visit, His time as a soldier was soon at an end. He swore the next time he came home would be for good.
Sybil and the children prayed for his swift return. As was the usual case, Sybil discovered her pregnancy.
She had cried for three days. She was just too tired mentally and physically to handle another baby. Though the promise of her husband's return had given her a small seed of hope.
Her hopes were dashed the day one of the King's men came to her door.
When they handed Jordan's belongings to her she broke down. Now what would they do?
One day the answer came.
Now here she was, watching the bodies of her offspring bob slightly under the water. The full moon casting an eerie glow on the water's surface.
Wading in to her waist, Sybil welcomed the feel of the iciness. She didn't need the weights she added to her children's clothing. She wouldn't fight as her breathing was cut off.
She smiled for the first time in months as she submerged herself.
The night air was cool and a breeze lifted copper curls from Iphicles' brow. He stared into the flickering light of the campfire.
Iphicles had decided to join his brother Hercules on a hunting trip. He had been in desperate need of a vacation.
Now he sat waiting for his brother to come back.
Hercules had gone off to get more water. They had discovered that the water flask had a leak and they had no water left.
While Herc went in search of water, Iphicles built the fire and started their supper. He listened as the juices from the rabbit fell into the fire causing it to hiss and sputter.
The king lay back and closed his eyes. The tension he had been carrying around seemed to melt away. By the gods he had needed to get away from it all. Life as a King was too stressful at times. He started to doze off.
Hercules made his way to the waters edge. Kneeling down he filled the repaired flask. A scream caused him to jump up, dropping the flask. Looking around he thought he saw movement on the opposite side of the small river.
Once more a scream filled the air. It sounded like a child in trouble. Hercules was positive it came from the other side of the water.
When the third cry came he dove into the icy water without hesitation. He headed in the direction he thought he saw movement. He was sure it was a child crying for help.
As he grew closer, the cries intensified. It sounded like there was more than one child.
He swam faster. In the water up ahead he could make out forms. They appeared to be struggling in the water. The cries became ore desperate sounding. Someone was drowning.
Suddenly all screams and cries for help ceased. No longer did the water stir. All was still and quiet.
When Hercules reached the other side, he dove beneath the cold water. Searching desperately he found nothing. No one could be found.
He searched until his body grew numb from the cold. Finally the demi-god gave up and swam to shore. He sat shivering trying to figure out what was going on.
Iphicles opened his eyes. A movement caught his eye. "Hey Herc! is that you?" No answer came.
He stood up sword in hand. His body tensed preparing to defend himself.
From the darkness a woman appeared. In her arms she held a baby. Her belly protruded, obviously heavy with child.
Iphicles relaxed his grip on the sword.
Slowly the woman approached him. A deep sadness was evident on her face.
The King grew worried. What would a pregnant woman with a baby be doing out in the woods alone at night? Something had to be wrong.
When she was a few feet from the King she stopped. Her hair hung in wet strands around her head. The faded green gown was soaking wet and clung to her distended belly.
The child in her arms began to cry.
Iphicles moved forward, intending to help.
At his approach the woman pulled away. Her movements causing the blanket covering the baby's head to slip back.
Iphicles recoiled in horror at the sight before him.
The child was a rotting corpse.
The woman moved towards the startled King.
In a very unmanly manner Iphicles stumbled backwards. An almost girlish cry escaped his lips. The sight before him was just too gruesome.
The child seemed to be staring at him from dark vacant sockets. The tongue protruded from its mouth, swollen and grayish. The flesh had begun to peel away revealing pulpy flesh and bone.
"Please feed the baby, he's hungry." As she spoke the words the mother of the child held him out.
The child's cries grew louder.
"Please! Can't you hear him crying. Do something!" The woman grew angry. She started towards Iphicles, the baby held out before her.
Iphicles did the only thing he could think of. Something he would not be too proud of later. He ran. He ran as fast as he could. He didn't about branches clawing and grabbing at his clothes.
When he turned back to see if he was being followed he tripped. He fell flat on his face in the fallen leaves.
Standing above him was the woman and baby.
"HERCULES! HERCULES!" Iphicles didn't care at the moment that his voice had an unusually high pitch sound to it.
"Iphicles! Are you all right?" Iphicles sighed with relief when he heard Hercules answer.
"I'm over here! Hurray!"
Hercules came crashing through the trees and brush. When he heard his brother's cries, his heart leapt. As he grew closer to Iphicles cowering on the ground he stopped.
He had expected Iphicles to be under attack or something. Instead he found him on the ground whimpering like a puppy. He couldn't see any reason for the King of Corinth's fear.
"What is going on here?" Hercules asked puzzled.
"The woman...and her... baby, the baby...can't you see the baby!" Iphicles looked up expecting to see the decaying flesh of the infant.
He jumped up and spun around. The woman and child had vanished.
"They were just here. Didn't you see them? Herc I swear a woman all wet and her baby. It was..it was...By the Gods it was awful." Iphicles stared wide-eyed around, sure she had to still be there.
"Iphicles, there's no one here. Since when are you afraid of women and children?"
"You don't understand, this was no ordinary woman and child. I don't know what they were but it was the most horrible thing I've witnessed." Iphicles rubbed his eyes, as if trying to wipe away the image.
"Come on, you can tell me all about it back at the camp site." Hercules put his arm around the King and led him back to the fire. All the while listening to an incredible tale.
Hercules served up portions of the roasted rabbit. All the while he listened in silence as his brother once again recanted the evening's spectre. He couldn't help thinking that his experience was some how related to Iphicle's.
Iphicles felt foolish. Here he was a King and he ran running like a frightened school girl. He was thankful no one else had witnessed his less than kingly actions. He could trust Hercules not to spread that around.
While they ate, Hercules shared his own nervewracking experience. It had taken him, what seemed like forever to get warm.
Both men were startled to hear a familiar laugh disturb their meal.
The demi-god jumped to his feet. He was followed by the King.
The God of War stood laughing at the pair. It was obvious that he had witnessed everything. He laughed even harder at the disgusted look on Hercules' face.
"Ares, we're not in the mood for your games," the demi god scolded.
"Lighten up brother dear. You have to admit The mighty King of Corinth looked rather silly tonite." With that said the God doubled over with laughter once again hitting him.
"You Bastard!" Iphicles charged at Ares. Hercules grabbed his irate brother and prevented him from making an even more foolish mistake.
Ares approached the seething mortal. "Oh you are just too much. I haven't laughed this hard since Discord was turned into a chicken. Run little rabbit run" Ares enjoyed taunting the king. He was so damn sexy when angry.
"Damn you Ares! Now that you've had a good laugh why don't you go bother some one else." Iphicles stopped struggling and Hercules released his hold on him.
"What do you want?" Hercules inquired. "Did you have anything to do with tonite's going's on?"
"Please Hercules, do you think I'd waste my time with ghosts? Though I have to admit had I known how chicken little here would have reacted I might have..." The God was cut off by Iphicles' fist.
Ares stopped laughing. No one dared strike the God of War.
Hercules jumped to Iphicles' rescue. "All right, let's not have any fighting. Ares you deserved that. Just let it go."
Ares pushed his annoying half brother to the side. He approached the now nervous king. Grabbing a fistfull of coppery hair, the God pulled him closer.
Iphicles could feel the angry god's breath on his face. He felt as helpless now as he had earlier that evening. He braced for the punishment sure to come.
His breath was knocked from his body as he was forcefully pulled up against a hard leather clad muscular frame.
Ares mouth descended on the King's own. The kiss was brutal and hard. Forcing open Iphicles lips, his tongue plunged deep into the warm moistness.
Resisting at first, Iphicles fought the sensations coursing thru his body. With the first contact with Ares tongue all resistance fled. Groaning softly, his body melt against the war god's hardness.
Ares hand found its way to Iphicles' cock.
Iphicles groaned louder, leaning into the hand caressing him thru straining leather.
Ares pulled back and looked into warm brown eyes. He gazed at the copper haired king for a long moment. His look unreadble.
Iphicles' breath caught in his throat. He waited anxiously for the God's next move.
A wicked grin lit up Ares' face. In a husky voice he whispered into a shell shaped ear. "Looks like she scared you stiff." With that he released the surprised man. Laughter once more gripping him. "Oh you are too easy!"
Iphicles' face turned beet red. Never had he been so humiliated, angry or turned on in is life.
"Alright Ares, you had your fun now leave us alone." Hercules once more jumped to his brother's defense. He knew he should have stepped in sooner, but the sight of Ares and Iphicle's kiss had him frozen. His own cock had grown painfully hard as he watched the pair. "If you know what's going on here I suggest you let us in on it NOW!"
Ares looked at his half brother , amusement clearly showing in his eyes. "Don't get your self in tizzy bro. I'll tell you what I know. Just give me a moment to compose myself." Then once more the War God broke into an uncontrollable fit of laughter.
The trio sat around the crackling fire. The more Ares talked the less Iphicle's liked what he was hearing.
"Some chick named Sybil did herself and her kiddies in after her husband died in battle. Might I add he wasn't a very good warrior."
Herc's voice cut the God off in his musings. "Ares, would you just get to the point."
Ares made a face at his half brother and continued with his story. "Anyway she drowned her children first and than herself. She happened to be pregnant at the time. Yadda yadda yadda now they're ghosts." The god sat back and watched the fire for a moment before continuing.
"The story goes that she comes back on the anniversary of her death. She goes looking for her husband. The first man of the night she shows herself to is doomed. She seeks him out tormenting him finally driving him to his death." With an amused look Ares taunted the King. "Looks like you're the lucky groom. Hey look at the bright side. You get a ready made family."
"You mean I'm going to have that thing chasing me down everywhere I go?" The King did not sound happy.
"Isn't there any way to stop her?" Hercules directed his question to the smirking God.
"If you can leave these woods by daybreak she will no longer follow you. Or so the legend goes. Unfortunately not too many make out alive. Gotta admit she's a persistent spirit." Ares stood up and stretched. "Well losers I'm outta here." With that the War God left in a flash of blue light. His mocking laughter following in his wake.
Hercules looked over at his brother. The worried look on Iphicles' face concerned him.
"So much for my relaxing vacation." Iphicles muttered. This whole thing just got worse and worse.
Hercules moved behind his brother. Grasping tense shoulders he worked to release the tight knots. While he did that he tried to calm Iphicles fears. "Now don't let Ares get you all worked up. You know how he likes to torment you."
The King groaned as Hercules continued to rub his shoulders. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the strong hands moving over him.
His cock grew hard. He knew one thing that would ease his mind. Reaching back he pulled Herc around to face him. Taking the demi-god's face in his hands, Iphicles kissed him. With his tongue he teased open Hercules' full lips. He let his hands move back to tangle in the silky strands.
Hercules leaned into the kiss. His body straining for more. He gently eased the both of them back on the ground.
For long agonizingly pleasurable moments they kissed. Exploring each other's mouths. Their tongues warred with each other.
Finally Hercules couldn't take anymore and he removed their clothing.
Gazing down at his brother, the demi-god marvelled at the beauty of his well muscled body.
Slowly he moved down Iphicles' body. Caressing every inch with his tongue and mouth. When he took a tight hard nipple between his teeth, Iphicles groaned.
When he made his way to the King's hard maleness he lavished his full attention on it.
He then took cock all the way in his mouth. With incredible slowness he slid his mouth up and down the shaft. Occasionally stopping to tease the head.
Iphicles breath came in short gasps as Hercules brought him close to exploding. "Please, I need you inside me now," he begged, his voice husky with lust.
Hercules all too happy to oblige moved over the King, once more capturing eager lips with his own.
The Demi-god parted his lover's legs. Pushing them back against his chest. He wet a hand with his saliva and covered his cock with it. Then in slow measured movements he entered.
Iphicles bucked up against Hercules, urging him to go faster. His voice came out in pleading whimpers.
Hercules increased his thrusts. Hitting Iphicles pleasure spot again and again.
Taking his heavy cock in hand, the King stroked himself in time with his brother's thrusts. All to soon his release came spewing his thick, white seed all over Hercules belly.
Crying out his brother's name, Hercules orgasm rocked through him. When satisfied he collapsed on the hard body beneath him.
The lovers laid in each other's arms. Basking in the afterglow of their lovemaking. They fell asleep with limbs entwined, not caring about the cool night air.
Iphicles awoke to find his lover gone and a blanket covering his nakedness. Sighing with contentment he sat up. Hearing a noise he turned expecting to see his brother.
Instead he found himself face to face once more with Sybil's ghostly image. Only this time she came in a state of decay. Her ghastly appearance made the frightened king jump up, unmindful of his state of undress.
Her arms were held out before her as though beckoning him to her. "Come to me my love," she whispered moving closer to Iphicles.
When Hercules woke he noticed the fire was going out. Seeing Iphicles sleeping by his side he smiled. The King looked so innocent and childlike. Not wanting to disturb him, the demi-god eased out of his brother's arms and went in search of more fire wood.
Iphicles' cry of terror startled Hercules. With out thinking he dropped his load of wood and ran back to camp.
His heart lurched with fear. Standing above his brother was the spirit of Sybil. Now he understood why Iphicles had been so spooked. Sybil was hideous. Even from his distance Hercules could smell the sickening sweet smell of decay.
Her clothing hung in shreds on her bloated, pregnant form. Blotches of mold covered her. Her skin had a greenish grayish cast that was common of the long dead.
"Hercules!" Iphicles scrambled back away from the spectre. The stench emanating from her made him gag.
The demi-god lunged forward. "Get Away from him!" Strong arms tried to wrap around the putrid flesh.
All Hercules managed to grab was air. In a blink of an eye the spectre was gone. With a thud he hit the ground.
With concern only for his brother he turned to Iphicles. "Are you alright?"
Iphicles nodded still in shock. Coppery curls falling in his bewildered eyes.
"Hercules, we've got to get out of these woods now. I can't take this. Ares was right, she's not going to leave me alone."
Hercules took his trembling lover in his arms and held him close until he calmed down. "Don't worry, we'll get out of here. I won't let her hurt you. We need to get moving if we're to make it out by daybreak."
When the King had composed himself, they prepared to go. While Iphicles packed their belongings Hercules put out the fire.
The pair started to make their way back out of the woods. They were to find that Sybil would not let them depart so easily.
The woods had an eerie silence. Not even the call of an owl shattered the silence.
Hercules noticed a pale form darting among the trees. Gesturing Iphicles to remain silent, they cautiously moved forward on guard.
Suddenly in front of them appeared a small girl, a sad forlorn look on her face. She beckoned to them. "Please don't leave me, I'm frightened." Her voice was nothing more than a whisper.
"Ignore her Iphicles, just keep moving." Hercules grabbed his brother's arm and led him past the pleading child.
"DON"T LEAVE ME!" She cried out to them her tone heart breaking. She began to run after them. Just befores he reached them she vanished.
All too soon they met up with another spirit. This one more violent.
Part 7: Conclusion
In front of them stood a very angry boy. At the time of his death he could not have been much older than ten. He was shirtless and his pants hung in shreds on his skeletal frame.
Iphicles and Hercules skidded to a halt.
An outraged howl emanated from the boy. A strong gust of wind kicked up around them. "I HATE YOU!" His face was contorted in a mask of rage. "How could you leave us alone with her!" Pain seeped into his voice.
The child spirit charged at the pair. He vanished just before coming into contact with them. Following behind him rocks flew.
The King and demi god were pelted with them. All around a fierce wind blew.
Iphicles covered his face and stumbled on through the gusts.
Hercules shouted to his brother. His words lost in the angry, swirling air. When the wind finally stopped Hercules found him self surrounded by children.
"This can't be good" spoken only to himself he tried to asses the situation.
Iphicles wandered aimlessly until the winds calmed. He looked around at the unfamiliar territory. His pulse quickened when he realized He had been separated from Hercules.
A waif like boy stepped out from the trees. He pleaded to the King "Daddy, don't go. Please stay with us, we miss you."
The child's distress pulled at Iphicles heart strings. Pity and empathy for what was done to innocent children played with his emotions. Had this been a flesh and bone boy, the King would have taken the pitiful creature in his arms. The child floated to him. Arms held up. "Hold me Daddy, sing me a lullaby like you use to do."
Iphicles started to reach for the awaiting arms. Then a whiff of decay reached his nostrils. Wrinkling them in distaste he pulled back. With out a moment's hesitation he turned and ran from the still beckoning boy.
Hercules ducked as a large hunk of wood flew towards his head. Anger welled up inside him. "You children should learn to play nice." Growling he grabbed at the specter closest, forgetting that they were not solid.
The spirit disappeared only to reappear farther away.
The ghosts taunted and teased the demi-god. Always staying just out of his reach, laughing when he'd get annoyed and try to grab them.
Finally frustrated he gave up. Suddenly it dawned on him that they were trying to distract and delay him. Ignoring the taunting spirits he ran in search of his lost brother.
When Hercules saw the first tendrils of sunlight start to tinge the sky he got nervous. Time was running out.
When he finally found Iphicles fear squeezed is heart.
Iphicles watched in horrid fascination as Sybil neared. Exhausted physically and mentally, the King stood resolved to except what fate dished out.
Sybil wore the gown she'd married Jordan in. Her belly was no longer distended with child. Now she was lithe and beautiful. A wreath of flowers adorned her flowing hair.
Iphicles looked down to her outstretched hand. In it glinted a golden wedding bracelet.
"It's time my love," she whispered. "Join me forever. Hold out your hand."
As if in a trance Iphicles did as she requested.
Her long pale fingers wrapped around the ends of the bracelet. Reaching forward she prepared to clasp the jewelry around his wrist.
"With this, you'll be mine forever," she promised.
Unable to move the King of Corinth did not try to stop her.
Hercules cry broke the spell Iphicles was under. The King tore himself away from Sybil.
"Hurry! We don't have much time." Hercules grabbed his brother and they ran.
Just as the sun ascended into the morning sky, the brother's crashed out of the woodlands. Behind them the trees shook with the specter's fury.
The men hugged one another, relieved the nightmare was over.
Iphicles awoke slowly from much needed sleep. The sensation of a warm, moist tongue on his cock brought him fully awake. He lay with his eyes closed, indulging in the intoxicating feeling. He smiled as the warm mouth moved its way slowly up his body.
"Oh Herc," he sighed, wrapping his fingers in soft tendrils.
When the insistent tongue flicked at his lips he opened his eyes, expecting to see Hercules hovering above him.
"Good morning my love, I told you we'd be together forever." Instead of Hercules warm, gentle eyes, Iphicles stared into cold, watery, green ones.
Sybil smiled down at the King, her decaying form descending upon him.
A scream of pure terror rang through the castle walls.