Chapter 31

Blade

I was kneeling in a thicket of bushes petting Cerberus. Making sure that I was well concealed from view. I knew the others were somewhere close to me, but I could not actually see them. But that was for the best. We had taken up our hiding places before midnight, it had been miserable sleeping in the cold woods, but Thanatos didn't want to risk being caught off guard by the Olympians.

Cerberus rolled unto his back and permitted me to scratch his soft undercoat. Two tongues flopped happily while the third coated my forearm in warm slobber. I continued my scratching and soon Cerberus' back leg was shaking like crazy.

"You like that boy?" I whispered using my other hand to rub the head closest to me. "Do you even know what's about to happen?" Cerberus didn't answer my question. I smiled at Cerberus' bliss. All the little things make Cerberus' tail wag. Just yesterday he had discovered the wonder of chasing squirrels.

Maybe I was going about this all wrong I thought. What if Cerberus has the truth of life, enjoy what you can chase and bark at what you can't. I mean I was a god! Shouldn't that be enough?

"Lord Hades." I looked around and saw Thanatos squatting next to me. "The battle begins." He pointed at two chariots that were racing down from the mountain.

"So much for that." I muttered to myself. "Is Aeolus ready?" Once the chariots touched down, we would need to begin our ascent.

"We are all ready." Thanatos answered. "We have been ready."

"Good." I said. I gave Cerberus one last scratch behind the ears before standing up, careful to make sure a tree protected me from view. I looked around and noticed my companions rise as well. Persephone was standing steady several yards behind me, picking the petals off several flowers. Nemesis was sitting in a low hanging branch of a tree smiling wicked and cracking her knuckles. Aeolus was merely a twister of twigs and leaves residing behind a large bush. And Calypso, leaning against an aged oak securing her armor straps one last time. She drew my gaze for a little too long and I had to force myself to look away.

By then the chariots had landed and their passengers had quickly dismounted. Then the battle had really started. I watched the two armies collide and mix into one large glob of bodies.

"Let's go." I muttered. Thanatos nodded and began moving through the trees to the base of the mountain. I watched the battle for a little longer before turning and bringing up the rear. Thanatos led us to the edge of the woods and then let Aeolus take over. The wind god gently lifted all of us off our feet and quickly carried us up the side of the home of the gods. He was careful to keep us close to the mountainside, to make us harder to spot, but even so I found myself glancing around for possible sentries that would give us away.

Aeolus had practiced guiding us with his winds before, but I was still uneasy without anything touching solid ground. Thankfully we ascended the mountain within a minute, and my terror ended. I studied my surrounding. We were on Olympus, and we were alone. No defenders in sight.

"Which way to the throne room?" I asked Thanatos.

"This way, quickly." he once again took the lead. Thanatos was careful to use alleys and smaller roads, rather than the main route. The place looked empty, but that didn't mean it was.

"Stop!" Calypso urgently warned us. "Stop right now! I hear voice." We stopped moving as a group and began listening for Calypso's voices. Sure enough I heard them too.

"Where are they coming from?" Persephone asked looking around.

They were coming from the intersection just behind us, a centaur and about ten soldiers who appeared to be satyrs. One of the satyrs saw us first as they came into the middle of the intersection. "Chiron look!" he pointed us out to the centaur.

"What's this?" Chiron exclaimed. "Lord Hades and his stooges think they can take Mount Olympus without a fight? Not on my watch." With that he and his soldiers charged.

Persephone, Cerberus, Nemesis, and Aeolus charged into the fray, blocking the soldiers from advancing any closer to me. Persephone turned around and shouted. "Get to the throne room! Hurry before more come!"

"Come on Blade!" Thanatos grabbed me and Calypso and pulled us onward. There were shouts behind us and a blast from a horn. "They are calling for reinforcement!" Thanatos explained.

"Do you think they will kill the others?" I asked.

Thanatos looked at me as he ran. "You'll find that its rather hard to kill a god, but that doesn't mean they won't try."

I felt guilty. What if one of them died for me? What if Lycaon, Prometheus, Hekate, or Menoetius was already dead down in the battle below? What if one of the Olympians was dead? I got off on the wrong foot with them, but they were still young kids just like me. They didn't really deserve to die for this, maybe not even Zeus deserved to die.

"Blade stop!" Calypso grabbed me and pulled me behind a fountain where she and Thanatos were already hiding.

"What?" I asked dumbfounded. I hadn't been paying attention while I had been thinking. Two people, a satyr and a woman, were running past us.

"Hurry, she's been stabbed." The satyr was saying. "Deon said it was pretty bad."

"All stab wounds are bad!" the woman shouted. "All wounds are bad!"

And then the two people were gone. We got out from behind the fountain and resumed our pace, with me being more careful this time.

"There it is Lord Hades." Thanatos stopped and pointed at the building before us. "The throne room of Olympus."

I took a deep breath and purged my mind of my doubts. "I hope this works." I muttered as I lead the charge into the circular hall. There were four women gathered around the central fire in the throne room. "Surrender now!" I shouted summoning a sword of fire, one of the neater tricks that I can do. "I do not wish to kill you."

The oldest woman turned to face us, she studied my flaming sword, and Thanatos' bone sword before she reacted. "Demi, please go and find Chiron and the guards." The smallest girl ran out the other side of the building quick as a rabbit.

Thanatos stepped forward. "Hestia, be reasonable."

"Traitor!" the old woman shouted. She picked up a fire poker from the hearth and charged Thanatos.

"Ok." I muttered. "You two." I addressed the remaining two girls. I recognized them. Hera and Aphrodite. "Will you guys surrender?"

Aphrodite picked up the ash shovel from the fireplace and engaged in battle with Calypso. Hera, now out of metal fireplace tools, grabbed the end of a burning stick and pulled it out of the fire.

"Nobody surrendered." I said kind of disappointed. I hadn't expected to be fighting goddesses. I raised my blade to meet Hera's makeshift sword. "Last chance to surrender." I told her as her stick broke into pieces against my fire sword.

BOOM! I was sent sprawling across the floor. My head was ringing. I staggered to my feet to see Aphrodite standing there with her shoulder raised. Apparently the goddess of love was handy with the shovel because I saw Calypso knocked out cold a few feet away. I swung my sword at the incoming shovel and knocked it out of Aphrodite's hands. But before I could do anything else, Hera pushed me from behind. I fell face first into the hearth.

So now, my head was pounding from its collision with a shovel, and now my face, chest, and arms were burning. I screamed and quickly pushed myself out of the fire. I rolled on the ground to extinguish the remaining flames and then the pain really set in. My face felt like it was melting, my throat and inside my nose were filled with burning smoke. My shirt was smoldering rags over my black and burnt chest. And my left arm was still on fire. I screamed and slapped at my left arm desperately trying to put out the flames eating my flesh. And then there was a foot slowly pressing down on my, forcing me to lay down. I looked up and saw Zeus standing above me. He smiled down at me.

"I knew I'd be the one to kill you." He said happily.

I opened my mouth to shout some last retort, but he jammed his metal staff between my teeth. "Argh!" was my last word. Zack laughed gleefully and raised his left hand to the sky. Electricity sparked between his fingers. It crackled loudly, laughing with Zack, as he brought his left hand down. And then his skin made contact with his metal staff. The electricity rushed through the metal and into my mouth. My body convulsed madly as the lightning shot through meā€¦and then everything was dark.