Chapter 17

He continued to look and saw a river filled with garbage. He looked back into the boat and saw that the well-dressed Charon had changed into a robed skeleton who was leading the boat down the dark, swirling River Styx. They had only been in the boat for a little while, when the shores of the underworld came into view. A few minutes later the barge landed into the sand of the underworld. The boat emptied. “I hope that old sparky isn’t hungry.” Charon gave an evil laugh as he rowed back to the lobby.
“Well, let’s get going.” Hunter said as he readjusted his bag onto his shoulder and started walking towards the entrance. Hunter looked up and saw above the gate. The words, ‘YOU ARE NOW ENTERING EREBUS.’ As they approached, the ever looming threat of the Cerberus became more evident. Hunter examined the beast from a distance. “It looks like we have to pass under the big three-headed dog to get through. Anyone have any ideas?” Will, Marina, and Kyle all stood there thinking. After a few minutes, Kyle looked at the group and then slowly raised his hand. Everyone looked at him in surprise.
“I have ideas sometimes.” Hunter, Will, and Marina looked at each other. ”So what if we were able to make it fall asleep? Would that work?”
“Well…yeah. But how do you plan to do that?” Hunter asked.
“Recently, I’ve been having some trouble sleeping so I’m taking this herb called Valerian to help me sleep. I have about a dozen sprigs and with my scythe I can alter any plant at any time. If I could ju-“ Marina put her hand over his mouth.
“Look, Kyle. Don’t talk. Just do. That thing is getting closer and we don’t care about the science.” Kyle nodded with Marina’s hand still firmly over his mouth. She removed as Kyle got to work. He knelt down and reached into his bag. After a few moments, he pulled out a bag of bright green herbs. He took his trowel out of his pocket and dug a small pit in the black sand. He leaned away from the bag and opened it. Suddenly, a foul smell emerged from the bag and penetrated Hunter’s nostrils.
“That…smells…AWFUL. Like…garbage and dirty gym socks.” Hunter said, plugging his nose.
“It smells worse than Nereus and that guy smelled like death itself.” Will said, covering his mouth and nose with his hands.
“Just give me a second, okay?” Kyle buried the bottom end of the Valerian in the dirt and then changed his trowel into the scythe. Kyle stood up and took a deep breath. He slammed the bottom of his weapon into the dirt. Green vines sprouted from the bottom and moved toward the half-buried Valerian. After a few minutes the amount of Valerian had tripled. Kyle unburied it and put in the bag. “So now all we have to do is make him eat it. I made it so that the chemical that induced sleep was more concentrated and ten times stronger.” Hunter patted him on the back.
“Good job, man. I won’t underestimate you again.” Will gave him a high five and Marina ran over and hugged him.
“You’re a genius.” She said as she threw her arms around his neck. Kyle gave Hunter an almost worried look. Kyle grabbed his stuff and the four campers walked off toward the Cerberus.  They got in line behind a spirit of a man in a business suit. Bluetooth headset still in his ear. As they got to the Cerberus the giant beast leaned down and sniffed the four of us. The three headed dog started growling.
“Anytime now, Kyle!” Hunter said backing away from the Cerberus. Kyle grabbed the bag of valerian out of his bag and tossed it into the air in front of the Cerberus’ face. With lightning quick speed the middle dog head snapped and grabbed out of the air. After one chew it swallowed the bag down, then returned to growling at the four of them.
“Well that didn’t work.” Will said looking around for another idea. Just as Marina had taken out her make up bag the growling stopped. Hunter turned around to see the Cerberus lying on one side, cutely snoring. The four of them burst from and sprinted as fast as they could to the Fields of Asphodel. Their…disturbance didn’t go unnoticed by the guards who were now chasing them. They finally got to the field and ducked behind a tree. “I take it all back, Kyle. Your plan worked amazingly.” Will said as he patted Kyle on the back. Marina scooted over and put an arm around Kyle’s waist.
“That’s why I chose him.” Marina smiled and planted a kiss onto Kyle’s already bright-red cheek. The two of them stood there, staring at each other, in a completely separate world. Hunter and Will pantomimed various interesting ways of death behind the two lovebirds. Finally Hunter broke the silence.
“Ahem. Let’s rest here for a few and then we can make our journey to the palace.” Will nodded. Kyle and Marina must have heard Hunter because they sat down and started flirting and giggling with each other. Will rolled his eyes as he sat down with his back up against the tree. Hunter sat down next to him.
“So…are you doing okay?” Will asked Hunter obviously referring to Orion. Hunter was surprisingly okay. The initial shock might have been the peak of his feelings on the matter, but right now Hunter just didn’t want to talk about it.
“Can we maybe talk about this later? I promise I’ll tell you, but just not right now.” Will nodded and went back to being silent. Hunter felt awkward in the silence. “So what do you think is next?” Hunter asked Will.
“You’re the one with the prophecy. YOU tell ME..” Hunter went back through the prophecy out loud to Will. “Obviously, we have had no need to kill a go so that first line combination doesn’t really matter yet.”
“The first son of the stag. That’s me. And Camp Half-Blood’s best. That’s you. We get to to go home, but we need to go west. Which we did. Alright. Batting a thousand.”
“Find the eldest son of Pontus. That was Nereus, that smelly old fisherman, right?”
“Yeah and he told us to come here. Where we will find…’peace and an advantage.’ Also the…’Daimon of Deceit.’ Whoever that is.”
“Well, since we haven’t found any of those things, shall we move on?” Will said as he stood up and grabbed his back. Hunter nodded and did the same. He gave Kyle and swift kick to the ribs.
“Hey! We’re leaving. Come on, you two.” Kyle and Marina unlocked their eyes from each other and stood up. They picked up their stuff and followed Hunter and Will, their fingers intertwined. They were walking through the fields of Asphodel, hurriedly. Hunter looked at his watch it was about 1:30 in the afternoon. Hunter wasn’t sure how much time he had left. They walked through the fields around all of the spirits standing around. They were about halfway there compared to the location of Hades palace that they could see above the crowd. 
“Hunter! Hunter!” Hunter heard a distant voice from far behind him. He froze in place.
“Hunter? C’mon. We need to keep moving.” Marina said looking back at Hunter.
“Hunter! Hunter!” Hunter knew that voice. That was the same voice that had been haunting his mind for all these years. That was Kate’s voice.