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Authors: Joan Holub,Suzanne Williams

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BOOK: Hephaestus and the Island of Terror
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“He sure is tiny for a Titan,” Hades whispered to Zeus.

“I don’t think . . . ,” Zeus started to say.

Thwack!
The boy struck the ground with his cane, and eyed the Olympians fiercely. “I am Hephaestusoo! Bow down toog me!” he demanded.

When they hesitated, the warriors yanked them down, forcing them to drop to their knees.

“Have you no respectoo?” the boy asked. “What brings yoog to my island?”

“We are on a quest,” Zeus replied.

“Quest? You’re just a bunch of kids!” The boy laughed. “What kind of a quest could you be on? Are you looking for your mommies?”

No more “oos” and “oogs,” Zeus noticed. Now the boy was speaking in the same way as the Olympians. What was up with that?

“Are you a tiny Titan? Or a mini Crony?” asked Apollo.

The boy struck his cane against the floor again.
Thwack!
“That’s a rude question,” he said. “But I will answer it, because I do know something of Cronies. And I have an amazing story to tell. When I was very young, I was taken prisoner by Cronies. They stole me from my home and stashed me away on a ship.”

A look of sadness crossed his face, and he glanced away for a moment. Then he shifted his cane to his other hand and went on.

“On the second night of our journey, a terrible storm struck,” he said. “The ship crashed onto the rocky coast of this island. None of the Cronies survived. But I did . . . barely.”

He glanced down at his leg, and Zeus guessed that it must have been hurt in the shipwreck. That would explain the cane.

“So you were captured by Cronies,” Athena asked. “Do you know why?”

The boy shook his head. “It is my guess that they feared my greatness, for you can now see what I have become. A respected and powerful leader-oo!” He motioned to the warriors, who bowed even lower. But Zeus noticed that a few of those warriors rolled their eyes at one another even as they bowed.

The Olympians looked at one another as realization dawned on them. “He’s no tiny Titan!” Apollo said.

“He’s one of us!” Hades cried.

Zeus rose to his feet and announced the truth to the boy. “You’re the
eleventh
Olympian!”

CHAPTER SEVEN
A Mechanical Mind

Y
ou’re Olympians?” the boy asked in surprise as Zeus’s four companions also got to their feet. “You mean, like the ones King Cronus is all fired up about capturing and . . .” He drew a finger across his throat, indicating that the king meant them harm.

“Yes,” said Zeus. “We’re those Olympians. And you’re one of us.”

The boy laughed and replied, “Hmm. Hephaestus, of the Olympians! Or maybe I’m supposed to be your leader? Hephaestus, Leader of the Olympians. It has a nice ring to it.”

Of course, Zeus hadn’t told the boy he was going to lead them. They didn’t even know him!

“Although, I can’t say I’m surprised by this news,” the boy went on. “I’ve always known I wasn’t like other mortals. Apparently my special qualities are even more special than I realized. I’ll have to ask my subjects to start worshipping me extra hard now!”

At that, some of the warriors started to giggle. But a glare from Hephaestus shut down that laughter pretty quick, and they started stomping their feet and clapping instead.

Zeus couldn’t believe how this tiny kid could make those ginormous warrior dudes do whatever he wanted with just one look! He wondered
if those warriors really liked worshipping this strange boy—and why they did it in the first place.

“Um, well, here’s the thing,” Athena said. “We need to ask you to leave this place and come with us. Maybe you could help us find our friends? They should be on this island somewhere.”

“Yeah,” Zeus went on. He started pacing back and forth in front of Hephaestus. “You see, there’s this oracle. And ever since we found out we were Olympians, she sends us out on quests.” He paused, waiting for the boy’s reaction.

Hephaestus cocked his head, appearing interested. “Go on.”

But before Zeus could continue, Hades jumped into the conversation. “We mostly fight horrible monsters and Titans on our quests. And we search for magical objects and weapons and stuff.”

At the mention of magic, the warriors looked at one another, curious. One of the warriors, who had taken Bolt, tapped it against the head of another warrior, who was still wearing Hades’s helmet. When nothing happened, they all chuckled and started chattering among themselves.

“And find other Olympians,” said Athena, joining in. “Like how they found me. And once we collect enough magical weapons and Olympians, we’ll be able to fight King Cronus and beat him and his soldiers once and for all.”

The warriors went silent, looking toward their tiny leader.

The gold flecks in Hephaestus’s eyes sparkled. “I see. So if the Olympians defeat the king, we’ll rule the world instead of him?”

“I think that’s the idea,” said Zeus. “The details are never entirely clear, because Pythia’s
spectacles fog up, and then she can’t see into the future all that well. She’s the oracle I was telling you about.”

In spite of their attempts to convince him, Hephaestus looked doubtful. “Let me think about it,” he said finally. “It’s great here. I’ve got the perfect workshop, and besides, I like being worshipped by all these islanders. I mean, who wouldn’t? Still, ruling over more than just this one island is pretty tempting.”

This set the warriors to murmuring. They shot the Olympians dirty looks.

“Why exactly do all these guys worship you?” Athena asked.

“That’s another rude question, but I’ll answer this one too, because the answer is interesting,” replied Hephaestus. “It’s because of my brilliant mechanical mind! I’m a whiz with metalworking.”

“We saw some of your work in the shop,” said Apollo. “It’s amazing, but why do they care so much about a bunch of metal toys?”

“There’s more. Let me show you,” said Hephaestus. He twirled his cane like a baton, then pointed it down the hallway. “Walk with me,” he said. He set off, striding swiftly, despite his limp.

Without another word he led them farther down the hall. His minions followed too, bowing the whole way. When they all reentered the workshop, Hephaestus waved his cane and bellowed at the workers and minions. “Sintians!”

“What’s a Sintian?” Apollo whispered to Zeus.

Overhearing, Athena whispered back, “Must be what the people who live here are called?”

“You are all dismissed-oo!” Hephaestus ordered,
twirling his cane. Unfortunately, he lost control of it and it accidentally flew out of his hands.
Smack!
It knocked one of the workers in the head.

“Oops! My bad,” Hephaestus said. The worker scowled at him. But then he looked a little scared and bowed low.

“Wait! Our magical objects,” Athena called out. “Your warriors took them, and we need them back.”

“Done!” said Hephaestus. “But the Sintians had already hurried out before anyone could ask what they’d done with the objects. “Great,” said Hades, shooting Zeus a glance full of blame. “We may have lost our objects forever!”

Just then the mechanical bird flew over the Olympians’ heads and landed back on its perch. Hephaestus smiled. “One of my first creations. Pretty good, right?” he boasted. “You see, after I
crashed onto this island, the Sintians found me on the shore. I wasn’t sure if they were going to help or hurt me, but I felt like they needed me. I mean, they already knew how to use fire to soften and bend metal to make things, but their metalworkers weren’t very skilled or creative.”

“So they didn’t know how to make all this stuff?” Athena asked.

“No way. I taught them. As soon as they handed me a hammer, I just knew what to do with it, somehow. I could hammer metal into all kinds of shapes. Then I discovered how to connect pieces to make weirdly amazing creatures, and to make them move, too.”

His eyes shone. “When the Sintians saw what I could do, they were in awe, of course. They made me their leader. They thought my inventions were magic. Before I came, Cronies used to attack them all the time. But I promised them
that my inventions would keep Cronies away. Now the Cronies never come near this island. Do you know why?”

Zeus thought he knew. “It’s those three-legged boxes that make the fog so thick near the shore, right? They help make the island look extra-spooky with the steam from the volcano, and scare everyone away.”

Hephaestus nodded. “And any enemy who did set foot here would be swiftly defeated by my other creations,” he bragged. He pointed to a large ram-shaped metal animal still under construction. Two sharp, fierce-looking metal horns spiraled from its head.

“My mechanical creatures are not only cool and quirky. They’re also deadly,” Hephaestus explained happily. “Once it is finished, this ram could take down a line of Cronies in mere seconds.”

“Pretty impressive,” admitted Athena.

“But don’t you see, that’s exactly why we need you to come with us. None of us knows how to make weapons like yours,” said Zeus. “Each of us has our own special skills. Together, we make a great team.”

“Yeah. Wait till you see what I can do with a bow and arrow,” said a girl’s voice from behind them.

Zeus and the others spun around. It was Artemis! While everyone had been focused on the ram, she’d crossed the room and taken the gold bow and silver arrows down from the wall. Now she held the bow in her hands and was pulling an arrow back, looking ready to shoot.

“You’re awake!” Apollo cried.

“Finally,” Hades said happily. “Maybe now Hera will stop grumbling.”

“Dream on,” said Apollo.

“Unhand those!” Hephaestus said angrily.

Artemis shook her head. Instead of obeying him, she sent an arrow across the room.
Boing!
It went straight into the eye of a metal bull. “Bull’s-eye!” she crowed.

“Pythia said you would only wake up when you had your gold bow and silver arrows. She was right!” cheered Apollo.

“Nuh-uh. That bow and those arrows are mine,” Hephaestus protested. “I made them!”

“Sorry, Heffoo. You made them, but they were meant for me all along,” said Artemis. “They’re mine now. Right, Zeus?”

“Yep,” Zeus told her. “We came for them and for a new Olympian. Now that we have both, let’s all get going.”

BOOK: Hephaestus and the Island of Terror
11.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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