“Well, it looks like we’ll just wait here.” Kyle shrugged and sat down on an oil drum.
“Hey, there’s no reason that we need to just sit here doing nothing. We could walk around the nearby area a little. We’ll just make sure we’re back here in an hour.” Will said. Marina and Kyle both looked at Hunter.
“I guess there’s nothing wrong with that. Let’s go.” The four of them hadn’t been walking very long, when they found a nice park. They walked a little bit on a path, all the while making jokes and having a good time.
“Hey, follow me, I have an idea for some food.” Kyle led the three of the path off the path and behind some bushes. He crouched down and closed his eyes. Pretty soon a little plant popped up from the ground. It kept growing and growing until it was maybe four feet tall. It started growing branches that sprouted an assortment of fruits and vegetables. “Alright. Dig in.”
“This is amazing! How did you do that!?” Marina said as she grabbed and apple from the tree.
“Child of Demeter. Remember? I call it the Omni-tree. It grows pretty much.” Kyle grabbed an orange and started peeling it. Will crouched down and grabbed a banana and a couple of strawberries. Hunter grabbed an apple and watched it grow back before his eyes. He gave it to Orion and then picked another.
“I wish I had magic powers. I’d never go hungry.” Hunter said, before biting into the apple.
“Magic can be a dangerous thing, you should be careful what you wish for.” The four campers turned around to see a policeman staring at them. “You should also be more careful reading signs that say stay on the path.”
“Oh, sorry, officer. We’ll leave.” Marina dropped the banana peel on the ground and picked up her stuff. The police officer took a few steps closer to the group.
“It’s Officer Thorn or sir to you. And sorry, but you’re not getting off that easily. You’ll have to come with me.”
“For walking on the grass? Come on, man give us a break.” Kyle stepped forward.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that. I’ve got orders to stop you from getting to the underworld.”
“The Underworld?” Hunter stared at Officer Thorn. All of a sudden, a spike from out of nowhere came and hit Marina in the arm, just grazing her. She cried out in pain. Hunter, Kyle and Will all looked back at Officer Thorn.
“That was a warning shot. The next one won’t be so…kind.” As he spoke Thorn started to look less and less human. He slowly transformed into a lion standing on its back legs with some sort of tail behind him. The tail flexed and shot out another spike headed toward Marina. Kyle slipped his trowel from his pocket, changed it into the scythe and knocked away the spike before it hit Marina. Will already had his sword drawn before the Manticore could launch another spike. Orion had been growling before he even transformed. Hunter summoned Kate and loaded an arrow backing up the whole time. He fired the arrow and then looked back at Marina who was now on the ground clutching her arm and crying out in pain. Will and Kyle charged the Manticore parrying blows and landing some of their own. Orion charged and jumped at the Manticore’s neck. The Manticore blocked the wolf’s attack and got caught on the arm. He growled out in pain as Orion let go of his arm and backed up by Hunter and prepared for another attack. Hunter loaded another arrow and fired straight for the face of the Manticore. Hunter ducked just as a flurry of spikes came flashing past his head. Hunter loaded another arrow and fired again. The Manticore traded blows with Will and Kyle while Hunter fired arrow after arrow. Will dodged around giant claw from the Manticore and slashed at it in the back of the thigh. The Manticore roared in pain. Kyle blocked and attack with his scythe and did a flurry of large swings at the chest of the Manticore before slamming the end down, creating string of vines grow out of the ground and trapping the beast’s arms. The Manticore tried to break free but the vines kept wrapping around and around and around his arms. “Let me out of this, Flower Child or I’ll break your limbs off!” Thorn shouted at Kyle, who deflected a last minute spike fired straight at his head. Hunter fired another arrow at its tail, impaling it to a nearby tree.
“I really don’t see that happening. Now that we have you tied down, though I’d like a question or two answered.” Hunter loaded an arrow and aimed straight for Thorn’s face. “Who gave you the orders to find us?” Thorn was silent. Hunter changed his aim and fired the arrow into the Manticore’s foot. The beast growled in pain. Hunter loaded another arrow. “What is causing the trouble in Olympus?” Hunter asked, looking straight into the beast’s eyes. Thorn didn’t say anything. Hunter fired the arrow into his other foot. Hunter stared at the Manticore in the eyes. All of a sudden, it seemed like a mist disappeared from behind his eyes. The Manticore’s expression softened.
“What’s going on? How did I get here?” The Manticore looked at Hunter. “I don’t know what’s going on! Please don’t kill me!” The Manticore started sobbing. Hunter nodded to Will who stabbed the beast in the heart. The monster turned to dust. Hunter put away Kate and watched as Will and Kyle put away their weapons too. They were just about to grab their stuff when they heard a soft moan. They looked back and saw Marina, still clutching her arm where the spike grazed her. Hunter was knelt down by Marina when he heard a soft whimper coming from behind a bush. He stood up. Kyle and Will stayed with Marina as Hunter followed the noise. Hunter looked behind the bush and saw Orion whimpering on his side. He looked closer and saw the Orion had three spikes poking out from his side.
“ORION!” Hunter cried running over and kneeling down to the side of his pet wolf. Hunter cradled the one friend that he has had since he was born in his arms. Hunter looked over at Will who was starting to walk toward him. Hunter waved him off. Will turned around and headed back to Marina who was still on the ground. Hunter looked back at Orion who was breathing heavily and with every breath more blood poured out of his side. “You’re gonna be okay. I promise you’ll be okay.” Hunter’s face was soaked with tears as he tossed his bag off his shoulder and started to dig through it for some bandages.
“You know that’s not true.” Hunter heard a voice. It was calm and strong. For some reason it was familiar. He looked around for the source of the voice. “The Manticore’s spikes have punctured my lungs. I won’t survive very long.” Hunter looked down at Orion.
“Orion? I can’t…“ Hunter was crying harder than he ever cried before. He was staring into Orion’s eyes. The once strong wolf was now helpless in his arms. Hunter was starting to notice Orion’s eye becoming more and more human.
“It is time. You must know.” Hunter watched as the wolf he had known for all of his life changed into a man. The man was wearing a toga and had a bow unlike any other Hunter had ever seen slung over his shoulder. “Hunter. I am Orion. The great Hunter.”
“You…but…” Hunter was speechless.
“When I was killed by the scorpion sent by Apollo, Artemis didn’t exactly put me into the night sky like the story says. In a way, she split me into two things: my body and my spirit. My body she turned into the constellation that you see in the night sky, but my spirit she placed into a wolf. The same wolf the saved your mother from her uncle. The same wolf that the lady Artemis sent to watch over you as you grew up in Camp Half-Blood. The same wolf that you grew to trust and to love. The same wolf that fought with you until the very end. However, the injuries that I have sustained are too great. I won’t live to see another day.”
“So…so what happens now?” Hunter said, his voice shaky with sadness.
“Now I must join my body up in the sky. I must return to where I belong. The lady Artemis knew that someday this would happen. That my wolf body would be broken and fractured. She couldn’t stand to be without me on earth. That’s why she put me into the wolf, but now I must return to my body so that I can enter the underworld and forever live in the fields of Elysium. But before I go I have something for you.” He held out his hand and in it lied the tag that once resided on the wolf’s collar. “In the time of your greatest need this will transform into an arrow fashioned from the scorpion’s tail that killed me. The poison is so potent it’s been said to be able to fell the mightiest enemy. Some say even a god.” Hunter took the tag from Orion’s hand and fingered it in his palm. Orion placed his large hand on Hunter’s shoulder. “I’m very proud of you. I’ve watched you grow up and I’ve never stopped being proud of you.” With that Orion took two steps back, unshouldered his bow, and loaded an arrow. He smiled at Hunter, aimed straight up, and fired. Orion disappeared. Hunter broke down and cried. He cried for what seemed like a long time. The only thing that had been consistent in his entire life was gone. He stood up and brushed the tears off his cheeks. He turned around and looked back at his friends. They weren’t moving. It was like the world around him was frozen. Hunter took a deep breath and took a step forward. Everything around him started to move again. Everything that had just taken place felt like hours to Hunter, but it was only a few seconds. He walked back to the group wiping off the tears.
“Marina, are you okay? Is it just pain?” Kyle asked as he brushed the hair from her face.
“YES! It’s a lot of pain!” Kyle set aside his stuff and stared at the ground. A minute later a fully-grown plant had popped up from the ground. Kyle took some and ground it up and then fed it to Marina. Marina gave Kyle a look of disgust as he fed her the green mush. “What are you feeding me? It tastes awful.”
“Ocimum Tenuiflorim.” Kyle said, matter-of-factly. “Or Holy Basil. It’s an herbal painkiller, I hoped it would help.” Kyle smiled and Marina smiled back.
“I hate to ruin this moment, but we need to get back and get our ride and then get to Los Angeles. So that we can save the world, remember?” Will said looking around for more monsters. Marina swallowed down the rest of the basil and stood up.
“It helped. Thanks, Kyle.” She walked over to Kyle and kissed him on the cheek. Will rolled his eyes as Kyle turned beet red.
“N-No problem.” Kyle said to Marina with a gooey look in his eyes. Marina picked up her stuff and started looking around.
“Where’s Orion?” She looked at Hunter who was still holding the tag from his collar. “Oh…I’m so sorry.” Marina walked over to Hunter and gave him a hug. Hunter couldn’t cry anymore. He had exhausted himself from crying.
“Thanks.” Hunter could barely muster the energy to speak. “He’s…where he should be.” Hunter broke the embrace. “We should go back.”
“Yeah they’ll probably be waiting for us by now.” Will said, as he elbowed Kyle in the ribs. Kyle broke from his trance and shook his head a couple of times.
“Huh? Yes! Of course. Onward!” Kyle led the way back to the meeting point and sat himself down on the oil drum he sat on, what seemed like so long ago. Hunter sat down on the ground tired from the fight and emotionally injured. They had only been there for a minute, when the four of them heard the clop of hooves on the cement. They stood up and looked toward the noise. 4 centaurs were standing there looking at Hunter.
“Are you the four little kids that need a ride to LA?” one of them asked. He took a beer helmet of his head and ran his hand through his hair. He put it back on and turned to the other centaurs. “If we leave now then we’ll get there with enough time to not miss the party.” He turned back to Hunter. “Well? Chiron said you needed help and we’ve got a party in Seattle that we plan to be there for.” Hunter nodded his head still a little stunned at the sight of them. “Alright. Then climb aboard and we’ll get going.” Hunter, Kyle, Marina, and Will all climbed onto their own centaur and in a flash they took off. Urban dock area quickly changed into forest and trees as the four campers rode on the back of the centaurs. Hunter started to think about what had happened. He thought about what Orion had said to him. He thought about everything Orion told him. He took the tag out of his pocket and looked at I in his palm. Hunter looked up and thought, ‘I miss you, buddy.’