Chapter 13

                Hunter woke up crying and sweating from the intense dreams. He was breathing so heavily he thought he was going to throw up. Sunlight was just starting to stream into the cabin windows. Hunter sat in bed and stared up at the ceiling. He was still trying to reorganize his mind after the assault it experienced last night. He finally got out of bed and got dressed. He put on a plate of armor he had never seen before. It was much lighter than his old set and it wasn’t as constricting. Hunter wondered where it came from. He grabbed his backpack and walked out of the door. Hunter, with his backpack on his back and quiver in tow, he walked to the dining pavilion for breakfast. He got in line and grabbed some food. The mess hall was mostly empty. Hunter had only been sitting there, playing with his food, for about 10 minutes when Kyle walked in. Kyle was a disgustingly pronounced example of a morning person.
                “GOOD morning, Hunter!” Kyle got his food and sat down across from him at the Artemis table. “You ready for the quest, man?” Kyle looked down at Hunter’s food which had been pushed around the plate, but not eaten. “Are you not eating? Is something bothering you?” Hunter looked up.
                “Hmm…Oh I’m sorry did you say something?” Kyle rolled his eyes.
                “No. Nothing important. So you ready to go?” Hunter rubbed his eyes.
                “Yeah I guess. I’m more worried than anything.” Hunter looked back at Kyle who was nodding in agreement just as Marina walked in.
                “Ah. So you both got your new armor. I spent almost an hour forging each of those. It’s good to be a child of Hephaestus.” Marina smiled. “Do you like it? I made it help to fit your strengths and combat styles.” She sat down next to Kyle, staring intensely, alternating between Hunter and Kyle.
                “You made this?” Hunter looked surprised at Marina. “I love it. It’s so much better than my old armor. That piece of junk always got in the way when I was using my bow. Thank you.”
                “Mine feels a little bulky.” Marina elbowed Kyle in the ribs. “…er than my old armor. Is what I was going to say. In a good way. I mean, I didn’t feel that elbow so…well done.”
                “You’re both welcome. So what exactly is the prophecy? You didn’t really tell us, and we only heard about every other word. Something about a curse?” Hunter repeated the prophecy word for word.
                “Apparently, the gods are starting to get angry with each other for no obvious reason. So we need to figure out why. Nothing’s been stolen it just seems like they’re becoming very hostile towards each other. So that’s why Chiron thinks it’s a curse that’s been placed on Olympus.”
                “Explains why Mr. D is no more hostile than usual.” Kyle said with a chuckle.
                “Do we have any leads?”
                “Well in a few hours, we’re supposed to go to San Francisco and find Nereus. He’s the ‘eldest son of Pontus’ that the prophecy talks about.”
                “Yeah, I know about him.” Kyle said. Marina looked directly at him.
                “How do YOU know about him?”
                “Percy told me about him. Percy Jackson told me about him. Apparently, if you catch him he will answer any one question you have. See? I know stuff.”
                “Catch him? What does that mean? How hard could it be to catch him?”
                “Percy said that he can change into any sea animal. Making it incredibly hard to catch.” They all thought for a while. Suddenly, Marina stood up excitedly.
                “I’ll meet you guys later. I have an idea.” Marina was out the door before either of them could say anything. As she was running out the door, Will was coming in. He watched Marina blow by him. He walked over to where Hunter and Kyle were still sitting.
                “Where’s the fire?” Will said, motioning towards the door. Both Kyle and Hunter shrugged. “So are you guys ready to leave? I know, I am.”
                “Actually, I’m not. I’ll meet you guys later.” Hunter lied, but he had reasons. Hunter, honestly, wasn’t positive that he was ready. Also, Kyle and Will needed some time to get to know each other. Will knew Marina, since she was the best smith in the camp so almost everyone knew her. Kyle was the best with plants, but was kind of a dork. Which he exhibited every day since Hunter met him. Hunter obviously knew all three of them well enough. Hunter left the dining pavilion and walked to his cabin. He double checked his backpack, picked up all his stuff, and walked to the Big house and picked up Orion.  With Orion close behind he walked to the stables. He got there and saw a very ornate looking chariot parked outside of the stables and Helios brushing his horses. “So this used to be the sun chariot?”
                “Yessiree! Same chariot and same horses. These mares still fly like racehorses.”
                “So does this chariot change into different vehicles, like Apollo’s?” Helios’ eyes started to glow again.
                “Do NOT say his name near me again, boy!” Helios took a few deep breaths. “That…piece of junk that he flies across the sky every morning is nothing compared to these horses. Pyrois, Aeos, Aethon, and Phlegon, here are still the greatest horse to ever guide the sun. When this chariot was first created no other vehicles existed, so no. It can’t change into anything. Sorry to disappoint.” Helios went back to brushing his horses. Hunter stood around. He looked at the chariot and pet the horses on the nose. Finally Kyle and Will showed up laughing about something. It seemed that Hunter’s plan had worked.
                “That’s the dumbest joke, I’ve ever heard.” Will said as they walked up to Hunter who was standing there staring.
                “Why you staring like that, Hunter? You got something on your mind you need to get off your chest?” Kyle said. He looked over at Will who was looking back at him and they both started laughing again.
                “You boys quiet down! You’ll scare the horses.” Helios looked over at the three of us. “Where’s the girl?” He asked looking in a way that seemed like he thought she was hiding from him.  “She’s got five minutes or I’m leaving without her. I’ve got ‘Pretty Little Liars’ DVR’d at home…” Hunter, Will, and Kyle all studied the ground as they stifled their laughter. Four minutes later, Marina came running up with all of her stuff.
                “Sorry, I’m late guys. I had to work on something, kind of last minute.” Marina smiled and blew her hair out of her eyes.
                “Alright. We all here? Good. Then let’s shove off. Everyone on to the chariot!” Helios shouted like he had given rides like this as a gimmick at a county fair. Hunter with Orion, Kyle, Marina, and Will all got onto the chariot and Helios grabbed the reins. “You ready, kids?” All of them nodded. “Alrighty. Let’s go.” With that Helios gave a hard whip of the reins and the chariot started floating into the sky. This was the first time Hunter had ever flown anywhere in any type of vehicle. Hunter closed his eyes for the majority of the takeoff. He held on to the side of the chariot tightly until he felt the chariot even out and reach a constant speed. Hunter slowly opened his eyes and looked around. The chariot was soaring through the sky whipping past the earth below. Kyle looked sick to his stomach and Will looked a little uncomfortable. Marina seemed to be doing just fine. She had pulled out a magazine and was leafing through it. Hunter looked at their current situation and realized that the 5 people in the chariot was a cramped, but it looked like they were making great time. “We’ll be there in about 20 minutes.” Helios said looking back. He looked back and stared at Kyle who started to turn a little green. If you’re gonna hurl, wait for my signal. Helios raised his hand and then threw it downward. Like they had planned it, Kyle leaned over the rail and threw up all of his breakfast. “Don’t get any on the chariot!” Kyle came back and wiped his mouth with his sleeve.
                “Why did I have to wait?” He asked with another wretch. Helios put a big grin on his face.
                “Apollo’s Las Vegas home. It was a bull’s eye.” After saying that Helios let out a big, hearty laugh. Kyle’s eyes bugged out.
                “I’m not gonna get in trouble, am I?” Kyle looked like he was thinking about jumping out of the chariot. Having noticed, Marina grabbed on to his arm.
                “Nah…You think a little puke on his vacation home is a major concern of his, right now? You’ll be fine, kid.” Helios gave his hearty, belly laugh and turned his attention back to the horses.
Those 20 minutes seemed to fly by. Pardon the pun. Hunter watched as the coastline he had seen from a distance was coming closer and closer. He looked at Marina who was still holding on to Kyle, who looked like he was still going to through up. He looked over at Will who had somehow fallen asleep standing up. Hunter nudged him in the side, which roused him from his sleep.
“We’re almost there. Get ready.” Hunter turned to look at Kyle. “Did Percy say where exactly this Nereus guy likes to hang out?”
“I vaguely remember him…erp…saying something about…ugh…the docks.” Helios turned in that direction and took the flying chariot down right behind a warehouse near the docks. Kyle felt and looked better as soon as he stepped down off the chariot. “I’ve got a thing with heights, okay?” Kyle looked around, searching for reactions.
“So how do we find this guy?” Marina asked very excitedly.
“He said he’ll be dressed like a typical homeless man, but he will smell like…oh how did he describe it…smell like week-old catfish stew after being thrown up by a dog.”
“So all we need to do is find the really smelly homeless guy. Alright good.”
“I’ll see you kids later. DVR is calling.” Helios turned his chariot around and took off again. Hunter and everyone else waved goodbye at Helios.
“Thanks for the ride!” Hunter shouted to Helios. “I’ll be okay if we don’t see him again.” The four of them chuckled.