Alex ran. He ran from the beast that chased him. He didn’t know what it was; he didn’t have time to look. Alex ran through the forest from monster that wanted to rip him apart. Ancient Greek creatures had been chasing him ever since he had been labelled as a demigod, as a hero.
Alex Granger, prior to these events, had been a normal 14 year old boy, slightly more athletic than most, with light brown hair always combed over perfectly and stormy grey eyes. He was top in every class at school, achieving high marks in every examination, as his dad liked to tell people. For as long as Alex had lived, it had always been just him and his dad. A short but skinny man with greying hair and sparkling blue eyes. Alex had always been his main priority.
But his dad wasn’t here to save him now. Alex stumbled over a fallen branch, and chanced a glance at the beast. Bad idea. He froze in fear, and his heart sank, landing somewhere in his left shoe. He looked straight into its single, dirt brown eye. A Cyclops, three metres tall, and almost as wide. Suddenly, a strange dark red patch appeared in it’s already very dirty vest. The creature fell forwards, revealing the girl behind, holding a large dagger dripping with the red substance.
It was Hannah, Hannah Watson, Alex’s best friend. Her long blond hair was up in its usual ponytail, her light green eyes sparkling with the smile she was failing to hide. Alex suddenly realised what silent message her eyes were sending him.
“Thank you.” Alex muttered sheepishly. “Where’s Jason?”
Jason Shaw, Alex’s other best friend, was like a brother to him, with short blond hair, always messed up, and deep brown eyes.
“He ran on ahead to base.” Hannah said simply, not giving a reason.
“Oh,” was Alex’s response.
* * *
After Dinner at base that night, Alex was walking back to his cabin in the large residential grounds, when he was cornered by his tutor, David.
“Pegasus needs to see you, urgently!” He said, somewhat nervously.
“Uh… Why?” Alex asked curiously.
“Urgent! That usually means quest or death.” David said. “Go quick, before he gets annoyed!”
Pegasus, the main tutor at base, wasn’t the same Pegasus from Greek mythology, the flying horse. He had earned the name because he was the best horse handler for many centuries.
Alex headed back to the large temple-like dining area, where he knew he would find Pegasus. He was always sneaking apples for the horses. As he entered the hall, torches flickered into life on the walls, illuminating a tall, muscular man with sandy hair, sitting on a table, and deep, dark, blue eyes.
“There you are, Granger” he boomed, swallowing a chunk of apple.
“Yes, sir. You wanted to see me?” Alex replies politely.
“Naturally, I should turn to my best student in a time of great need. A shame really that he was eaten…” Pegasus stated.
“The time lord has risen once more. Kronos is awakening. The world is in grave danger and only you can stop him. Zeus foolishly challenged the time lord, and was near-fatally wounded. You have been granted a quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece to heal Zeus by the Gods. They have labelled you their saviour. Alex Granger, Son of Athena do you accept this responsibility, to protect and serve Olympus?” Pegasus’s final words were emphasised by a weak, stuttering strike of lightning. “Please Zeus, do not over-exert yourself.” He added.
“I accept the quest.” Alex said boldly. “Although I wish to choose my companions.”
“Very well.” Pegasus agreed.
“I shall alert my friends; Hannah Watson and Jason Shaw.”
* * *
“Really?” Hannah looked delighted. “My dad will be so proud!”
“Yeah…Apollo is easily pleased though. He’s always in a sunny mood, being the sun God.” Alex shrugged.
“I’m in, man!” Jason exclaimed happily. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“Uh…” Hannah said. “What are we looking for exactly?”
“Pegasus said the golden fleece. You know that one from the ram or something that got sacrificed?” Alex said, not able to remember to full story from memory.
“Yeah, well, that shouldn’t be too hard, should it?” Jason queried.
“Uh, my dad had it last.” Hannah mentioned. “Apollo needed it to heal his sacred sun cows.”
“Okay.” said Alex. “We leave at dawn tomorrow. We go see your dad. Where is he?”
* * *
They woke the next morning and met in the Dining hall for a quick meal and some food sacrifices to the Gods; Mainly Apollo.
“Ready?” said Alex.
“Ready!” exclaimed Hannah and Jason in unison.
They left the camp as the bright orange sun appeared on the horizon, cycling to their destination.
After about two hours off fast cycling, sweating, and talking, they were exhausted. Hannah pulled them over outside a small store near the outskirts of New York City, telling the boys she was getting them donuts and water bottles. Two large, very beefy men squeezed through the small door after her.
“So have you heard from your dad lately?” Alex asked Jason; his father was Hermes, God of thieves and travellers.
“Not really. He’s always busy delivering mail to the Gods and stealing from random mortals.” Jason sighed. “Sucks, but, the Gods have never really paid much attention to their kids.”
“Yeah,” Alex felt the same way. Athena never seemed to answer his prayers.
“Where’s,” Jason’s statement was cut off by an ear-splitting shriek from inside the store. The colour drained from his face. “Hannah!”
Alex drew his two-handed sword and Jason drew his bow, a quiver shimmering into existence on his back. They ran inside and noticed the unconscious store worker behind the till, having fainted, and Hannah being cornered by the beefy men.
“Oi!” Jason yelled. The men turned, revealing their faces, and the fact they had only one eye each.
“Cyclops’s again!” Alex groaned. The Cyclops’s just smiled. One turned back to Hannah, the other pounced at Alex. He dodged to the left, cutting down with his sword, but the beast moved quickly for his size. Alex barely managed to dodge its next blow, blocking its punch with his forearm. He staggered, the beast charged, but was caught in the leg by an arrow from Jason. It fell, allowing Alex to glance at Hannah, who had managed to get onto her Cyclops’s shoulders. Riding it like a bull, she stuck her dagger into it, and it fell to the ground, dead. Turning back to his own Cyclops, Alex frowned. Jason was gone; where was he? The Cyclops turned, revealing a bleeding, barely conscious Jason sprawled across the floor. The Cyclops smiled, and then spoke for the first time.
“I’m going to enjoy capturing you three. My master will promote me!” It spoke.
“Not Today, Cyclops. Your time has come, join your brothers in Tartarus.” Alex growled. He jabbed, straight into the beast’s chest. It fell.
“You will pay. Father Kronos is growing ever stronger.” It threatened. The Cyclops rolled over; eyes glazed over, dead.
“Come on, Hannah. Let’s get him healed.” Said Alex. They took him through to the back room, locking the door to the store with keys they found on the worker.
Hannah took bandages from her backpack, along with fresh clothes to replace Jason’s blood-stained ones. Luckily he wasn’t cut deep, only knocked out by one of the Cyclops’s ferocious blows.
With Jason healed and rested, and the store restored, they hurried off on their bikes; they didn’t want the worker to ask about their weapons.
They cycled for a few more hours, at a steadier pace, before arriving at the farm.
“This is our stop,” Hannah alerted them. “This is where my dad is.”
Alex led the way up a narrow dirt path on foot; their bikes had been chained up at the gate. To their right were hundreds of very light red (almost pink) sheep. To their left were hundreds of red cows. Jason looked confused, Hannah, amused.
Alex strode up to the door, rapping on it with his knuckles. Barely ten seconds passed before a happy man answered.
“Hi!” He said. The man looked about twenty. He had Blond hair and blue eyes. “Hannah! My daughter! How is your training at your little hero camp? Going good? Good!” He said all this very cheerily.
“Uh… Hello, Apollo, Sir.” Said Alex hesitantly. “We uh, were granted a quest, to retrieve the golden fleece of legend. My Friends and I heard you had it last. Would you grant us the honour of, uh, having it?”
“I don’t have it anymore!” Said Apollo, a little less cheerily. “That blasted Hades sent some spirits to steal it. He promised them no punishments in their afterlife if they stole it.” Apollo looked a bit distraught now. “I was sleeping at the time. You need to see him if you want the fleece returned.”
Alex, Hannah, and Jason exchanged worried looks. If Hades really did have the fleece then this was bad news. They had to find a way now, to travel to the underworld entrance, in California.
“Dad. Could you possibly provide transport to the underworld entrance for us?” Said Hannah.
“The underworld is a dark place.” Apollo stated. “My sacred animals couldn’t possibly!”
“Dad! The fate of the world depends on this!” Hannah pleaded. “Please.”
* * *
An hour later they were up in the air, holding desperately onto the large Pegasus. It’s great, large wings beating up and down, rocking Alex around. After their long day, Hannah was almost asleep.
“Go to sleep.” Jason muttered. “I’ll keep you on.” Hannah adjusted her position and drifted off. Alex’s eyelids felt heavy too, but he couldn’t sleep. He was too busy worrying to sleep. Alex kept thinking about what would happen to the world if he failed this quest, about the fate of the world.
“I can see the worry on your face, Alex.” Said Jason. “You won’t fail. Just think positive.”
“Yeah, you’re right.” Alex agreed, but he couldn’t bring himself to think that. Filled with worry, Alex finally drifted into a nightmarish, restless sleep.
He woke at dawn the next morning, feeling more tired than he had to start with, and noticed that he was on grass. Hannah and Jason were on either side of him, waking up too. Alex’s eyes adjusted to the light just in time for him to see the Pegasus gallop into the sky, flapping its great wings. Alex stood, only just realising that he was in a park.
Alex and his friends found a little coffee shop on a street corner, and ordered some drinks. They sat waiting for it, talking about the quest.
“So this is California, right?” Hannah queried. “I mean, the Pegasus didn’t dump us in a random place?”
“Uh…” Alex and Jason exchanged nervous looks.
“I think so.” Said Jason. “Excuse me.” He added to an old lady passing them. “Is this California?”
The lady looked confused. “Of course.”
Jason thanked her. “Where do we go then?”
Their coffee came.
“I think,” said Alex, sipping his drink. “We need to head to a graveyard just north of here.”
“How can you tell?” Hannah wondered aloud.
Alex pointed up the road. “There’s Latin on those signs. They say ‘Underworld’.”
Alex volunteered to pay the drinks, and they headed up the road.
“Where now?” Said Jason when they entered.
“Over here.” Hannah called from beside a large crypt. “This has a statue of Hades in the wall.” Jason looked grim.
The crypt led to a dark stone staircase lit by torches. Jason led the way down this time. Alex stuck at the rear. A dark wooden door, locked, was at the bottom of the stairs. Hannah used her dagger to slice it open.
A man in a hooded cloak guarded a train in what looked like an underground station. The train was full of grey people, spirits now. The guard didn’t stop them from boarding the train.
“It used to be a car service.” Alex randomly stated. “Then, as the world grows more populated, and more people die, it gets expanded: Cars, buses, double-decker buses, trains. Probably ferries soon.”
The doors shut; a ghostly voice announced that they would be arriving at the entrance to the underworld in an hour.
* * *
They left the train with the spirits, but cut away from the line of spirits. Their destination was Hades’ Palace, a huge obsidian structure in the distance. It was as black as the dark side of the moon, maybe a few shades darker. Turrets spiralled off the main structure like feathers off a bird.
After a long walk up a long road, they arrived at the gates. Alex pushed them open, walked up a garden full of skeletons, some human, some unknown, and graves, lots of graves.
“This is disturbing!” Hannah shrieked.
Jason shuddered. “Let’s just get in and out fast.”
“LOOK OUT!” Alex bellowed, as three dark shadowy figures leapt at the trio from the roof. “FURIES!”
It was indeed Hades main minions; The Furies. Three bat-like females, with large fangs, a huge wingspan, and huge claws. The female creatures hissed and growled, revealing forked tongues. Jason winced at the sight. Alex pulled his sword from its sheath hidden under his jacket, Jason’s bow shimmered into existence, and Hannah released her dagger from her belt. They took a fury each. Alex’s lunged at his chest; he blocked, and swung at its legs with the flat of his blade. He heard a crunch when his sword made contact and the fury roared in pain. It took flight, now relying on its huge claws. It swiped at Alex’s head. He ducked behind a gravestone, the furies claws smashed through it. Alex jumped up again, swinging his sword at the fury, opening a gash on its chest. The fury screeched in pain, and fell to the ground. Alex dropped his sword, and threw himself on top of it; he didn’t want it to escape.
The Fury flew into the air, thrashing about, Alex clinging onto its neck desperately. It dived at the ground, and Alex felt his stomach lurch. The fury pulled up, taking Alex around the towers and back to the ground again. They rolled to a stop, Alex on top. The Fury shrieked. Jason, who had dealt with his fury, leapt at Alex’s. His dagger landed in it, cutting off the shrieks. Hannah finished off her opponent, leaving all three Furies in Tartarus, monster hell.
“Well then,” Jason muttered. “Not exactly the welcome I was expecting.”
Alex and Hannah muttered their agreement.
They moved to the door together, keeping their eyes peeled for any more monsters. It opened when Alex approached it, without him touching it, revealing a large entrance hall, pretty long but only as wide as the large doorway. The hall was lit, barely, by dying torches. The hall was lined with doors. They went along the hallway, checking all the doors.
“Over here, you guys!” Hannah whispered. She had found the only open door. Alex let Jason lead the way through, bow at the ready. The room was huge, like a throne room, ways lined with weapons, floor carpeted in a strange substance that looked eerily like blood. And hanging on a wall, protected by huge iron bars, was…
“The Golden Fleece!” Hannah shrieked.
“Yes very good, heroes.” Said a cold voice from behind them. “But unfortunately you can’t have it.”
“Hades.” Alex spat. “Why do you have the fleece anyway?”
“Well you see children,” Hades said, deep in thought. “My brothers have always exiled me. I wanted revenge. Now I can have it at last! You will never get the fleece!” He roared.
Hades summoned a sword from the wall. “Who will challenge me?” he growled.
Alex stepped forward, pulling out his two-handed sword once more. His hands were ready on the leather grip. Hades jabbed at Alex’s stomach; he blocked, turned, and slashed at Hades’ leg. The God roared in pain, and brought the flat of his sword down on Alex’s right shoulder. There was a pop, and Alex knew it was dislocated. Hannah jumped in, jumping around the room, slashing and jabbing at Hades wildly. She opened a deep gash on his side. Hades roared, and, forgetting about his sword, hit Hannah. Alex heard a crack as Hannah’s ribs cracked. Jason pulled back his bow string, took careful aim, and let an arrow fly. Hades was too slow to stop it, only managing to catch the arrow with his neck.
Being a God, Hades couldn’t die, although he could be wounded. Hades’ form shimmered, and then disappeared. Jason ran over to the fleece, remembering being taught about its healing powers at camp. Jason grabbed it, and threw it over Alex. Alex felt his shoulder relocate almost instantly. Alex stood up, and threw the Golden Fleece over Hannah, who was unconscious. He heard the tell-tale crack that her ribs were mended after a few moments. Jason’s bow disappeared again, and he lifted the fleece. Alex lifted Hannah around his shoulders, and the boys trudged out of the castle, making their way towards the over world.
* * *
“You saved me.” Zeus said grudgingly. “We Gods owe you. What do you want in return?” It was a month after they fought Hades. They were in front of the council of the Gods.
“Just keep calling us Heroes.” Alex smiled.
* * *
Alex ran. He ran his friends in the practise battle. He didn’t know how to escape; he didn’t want to. Alex ran through base from his friends using the practise weapons. Ancient Greek creatures had been chasing him ever since he had been labelled as a demigod, as a hero. But you know what? He was totally cool with that.