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Authors: Joan Holub,Suzanne Williams

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BOOK: Hephaestus and the Island of Terror
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“No way!” Hades yelled. “We’ll be helpless. Let’s fight them!”

Athena shot him a frustrated glance. “What? Are you Ares now?”

Zeus thought fast. His and Hades’s magical objects weren’t working for some reason. Athena had her Thread of Cleverness and the aegis. Still, their magic probably wouldn’t work either. Apollo had no magical object and wouldn’t be able to fight even if he’d had one, since he had to prop up his sister. Also, they were outnumbered.

Zeus dropped Bolt and held up his hands, but he kept Chip just in case the stone began working again. “See? We mean no harm.”

The head warrior nodded. Reluctantly following Zeus’s lead, Hades dropped his helmet, and Athena took off her aegis.

“We’re doomed,” said Apollo.

“Yeah. Maybe our objects’ magic would’ve
started working soon. But now there’s no way we can fight them off,” Hades muttered, his hands in the air too.

Zeus felt a pang of regret. Had he done the right thing?

CHAPTER FIVE
Hef-es-tu-soo!

T
heir weapons seemed to amuse the warriors. One of the men put on Hades’s helmet, and another tried to put the aegis on his head. A third tried to use the sharp tip of Bolt to pick his teeth.

Zeus felt Athena press something into his hand.

“I didn’t give them my Thread of Cleverness,” she whispered. “I’ll use its magic to weave a large
net so we can get away from these goons. Just hold on tight to your end.”

It was worth a try, thought Zeus. Before he could nod, the warriors surrounded the five Olympians and began herding them forward. Zeus and Athena walked side by side, their hands close together. But as they walked, the thread didn’t grow any longer, like it had before.

“What is going on?” Zeus whispered after they had gone inland from the shore a little way.

Athena frowned. “Either the thread’s magic isn’t working, or I forgot how to do it.” With a sigh, she took the other end of the thread back from him.

“Those sea monsters were telling the truth. There’s something weird about this island,” said Apollo.

“Yeah, and I have a feeling we’re going to find
out what that something is whether we want to know or not,” said Hades.

Artemis giggled, which sounded kind of spooky in the fog.

Zeus could only hope the other five Olympians hadn’t been captured as well. “Keep an eye out for the others,” he whispered.

As they marched toward the center of the island, the clanging metal sounds they’d heard earlier grew louder and louder. Though the fog thinned out more and more around them as they kept walking, it still hung in the air like a wispy, smoky blanket. Zeus could see they were heading toward the large thing at the island’s center that they had seen from the ship.

“It’s a volcano!” said Athena. Fog flowed from its top in big plumes, then curled outward to hug the edges of the island like a doughnut.

“That’s not a volcano. It’s a fog-cano,” said Hades.

“And what’s that? A fog monster?” wondered Apollo as they passed a strange object. It was a metal box that sat on top of three metal legs. It was twice as tall as Zeus. Foggy smoke billowed out of a grate at the front of the box. A huge tube that looked like it might stretch all the way to the volcano snaked into the back of the box.

“It’s some kind of . . . machine,” Athena noted. “I think the steam from the volcano is being sent through the tube and then shot out of the box.”

“So it’s . . . funneled fog?” Hades asked.

Athena shrugged. “Something like that,” she replied.

As they continued to walk along, they passed a second machine just like the first one. Only
this one seemed to be heading for the trees nearby. It was walking on its three legs, and then it scurried right up the thick trunk!
Creak! Creak!
It was also attached to a long tube—longer than the one on the first machine—that snaked through the tree as the box clambered up . . . up . . . and up.

The Olympians craned their necks, and realized there were more of the strange boxes among the leaves, supported by the thick branches that jutted out.

“How are the boxes moving around and making fog?” Hades wondered.

Zeus frowned. “It must be magic. There’s probably a Titan on this island.”

“And we don’t have our weapons,” Hades said.

“They don’t seem to be working, anyway,” Athena pointed out. “Hmm. I wonder why a
Titan’s magic would work here but ours doesn’t.”

“No idea,” said Zeus. Facing a Titan without weapons would not be easy, he thought. “Where are you taking us?” he asked their captors in his most demanding voice.

“Toog ur leader-oo,” one of the warriors answered.

“They’re taking us to their leader,” Athena translated.

The warrior next to her laughed. “Leader-oo!” he sang out in a high voice.

Apollo began to sing too.
“The heroes were marched to a fiery hill. Being scared to death was part of the thrill.”

He kept it up, but Zeus couldn’t hear because the loud clanging ahead drowned Apollo out. They started up a slope toward the base of the volcano.

Then Hades gasped. “Awesome!” In front of them loomed a huge bronze door covered with designs that looked like human skulls.

Two of the warriors approached the door and started pounding on it. “Hef-es-tu-soo!” they shouted. The other warriors took up the chant. “Hef-es-tu-soo! Hef-es-tu-soo!”

Hefestusoo? Is that the name of the Titan?
Zeus wondered.

Suddenly the loud clanging they had been hearing as they’d marched along stopped.

The bronze door swung open. A voice shouted from inside. “Enteroo!”

CHAPTER SIX
In the Heart of the Volcano

A
blast of heat hit the Olympians as the warriors led them inside. The door had opened into a hallway with a low ceiling. Both the walls and the ceiling were lined with bronze. This was no ordinary volcano. It was a building with rooms and halls and doors.

“Phew! It’s hot in here,” Artemis said, fanning her face with her hand. Zeus stared at her in surprise. It was the first complete sentence she had
said in days that actually made sense! Her eyes were a little more open than usual, and she wasn’t leaning on her brother. Maybe the potion was finally wearing off. Or was it something else?

The warriors marched their captives down the winding hall. Every time they passed another warrior, they all called out to one another. “Hullooo!”

Eventually the hall opened up into a big, high-ceilinged workshop. Here more bare-chested warriors hammered metals and used bizarro tools to create strange-looking wonders. There was a mechanical falcon made of black metal sitting on a perch, stiffly flapping its wings. And a round ball of metal with eight spidery legs was skittering across the floor. Not to mention the giant metal cages hanging from the ceiling with various other mechanical pets hanging inside them.

The Olympians gazed around in amazement. Zeus had never seen anything quite like it—and he had seen a lot of crazy things on these quests.

And then he noticed it. The very thing they’d come for! There, hanging on the back wall, were six fine silver arrows and a gleaming gold bow.

Suddenly Artemis perked up. “Mine!” she cried, and moved toward them. But one of the warriors pushed her back into line.

“Hey!” Apollo complained, pulling her away from them. He, Hades, Athena, and Zeus exchanged glances as they all moved into another hallway. Somehow, at some point, they had to get those arrows and that bow for Artemis.

After more marching, they found themselves standing in front of a new bronze door. Flanking it were two tall statues, both beautifully crafted. A silver lion sat on the left, and a snarling gold dog on the right. Zeus shivered when he looked
at them. He knew they were only metal, but they looked as if they could spring to life and attack at any moment.

“Hephaestusoo! Hephaestusoo!” the warriors chanted. But Zeus noticed that none of them pounded on this new door like they had the first one. Instead they waited with growing excitement.

“What are we waiting for?” Hades whispered to Zeus.

Then they heard a sound.
Thump! Thump! Thump!
It came from behind the door. Hearing it, the warriors’ chanting grew more excited.

Thump! Thump! Thump!
The sound got louder . . . and closer.

“Think there’s a Titan back there?” Apollo wondered aloud.

Zeus started to sweat, imagining the huge Titan that was about to appear from behind the door.

Athena leaned over to whisper to him. “Hold on a second. That door is normal-size.”

Yeah, so how could a giant Titan fit through it?
Zeus realized. He brightened a little.

As the door swung open, every warrior dropped to his knees and bowed to the figure who’d appeared. Zeus was astonished to see that it was only a boy! A boy about the same size and age as the Olympians. He was dressed all in black, with a silver belt around the waist of his tunic and shiny armor on his wrists. His thick, dark hair was slicked back with oil, and his brown eyes were flecked with gold.

But what
really
caught Zeus’s eye was the cane the boy was leaning on. It was the coolest—and scariest—cane he had ever seen. Like the first door they’d entered, it was carved with skulls. These were way smaller, though, and the cane had a skull-shaped knob at the top.

BOOK: Hephaestus and the Island of Terror
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