Hermes and the Horse with Wings
CHAPTER ONE Four Plus Four
The morning sun shone on four Olympians as they made their way through the country side of Greece. One of them, a boy named Hades, was walking backward and talking to the others.
“What is a snake’s favorite thing to study?” curly-haired Hades asked.
“Um, animal science?” guessed one of the
other Olympians, Athena, a girl with thoughtful gray eyes.
“Nope! Hiss-tory. Get it? Hisssssss-tory?” Hades repeated, and then he started laughing.
“Ha-ha,” replied Hephaestus in a flat voice. The boy walked with the help of a cane carved with skulls and topped with a skull-shaped knob.
The fourth Olympian and the leader of the group, Zeus, frowned. “Hades, I don’t mind the jokes, but do they have to be all snake jokes?” the black haired, blue-eyed leader complained.
“Sorry, Bro,” Hades replied sheepishly. “I know you’ve got a snake thing. But I guess I’ve got snakes on my mind, seeing as how we just took down a monster lady with snakes for hair.”
Even though Hades and the others looked like mortal boys and girls, they were actually immortal, and their actions were courageous
beyond their years. Their biggest mission was to stop their enemies—the giant King Cronus and the king’s band of minions, the half-giant Cronies—from taking over the world.
“Excuse me, but I believe I took down the monster with snakes for hair,” Hephaestus pointed out, waving his cane. “I left her in pieces!”
Athena shook her head. “Oh, really? Because I was the one who tricked her into looking into my aegis so that she turned herself into a stone statue first.” She patted the gold shield that she wore on her chest, covered by her cloak. “Beating up a statue is not such a big deal.”
Hephaestus’s cheeks flushed. “Well, she was a scary statue.”
Zeus rolled his eyes as his two friends continued to bicker over who had actually slain the green-haired Medusa.
At least it’s better than the snake jokes, he thought.
The four of them were heading back to a village that they had just left the day before. So much had happened in the last twenty-four hours.
Twelve Olympians had started off on another quest given to them by Pythia. She was the Oracle of Delphi, and she could see the future—if not always clearly. (Sometimes her foggy spectacles made it so she couldn’t see well, which meant her instructions could be a little confusing!) Pythia had seen that Zeus and the other young Olympians, all of them gods with special powers, would one day overthrow evil King Cronus, who ruled the Terrible Titans.
The twelve Olympians hadn’t always been together. Zeus had gone on his first quest with only two others, Poseidon and Hera. On each new quest they fought monsters and other
mythical beasts. They found magical items. And they added new Olympians to their group.
All twelve of them had traveled to the village yesterday. Pythia had told them to look for “hairy snakes.” Nobody had known exactly what that meant, so the twelve had split up into three groups to try to hunt down the hairy snakes. Now that Zeus’s group had succeeded, they were trying to meet back up with the other two groups.
“I think that’s the village up ahead,” Athena announced. “I wonder if anybody else is back yet? I hope they remembered that this is our meeting place.”
“They’re probably still out looking for hairy snakes, because they don’t exist!” Hephaestus said. “We’re the only ones who got it right.”
“A monster with snakes for hair,” Hades said. “I think it was a good look for her.”
Zeus smiled. His brother Hades was also
ruler of the Underworld. He liked creepy things.
“I’m sure the others beat us back here,” Zeus said. “At least I hope so.”
The village was bustling with people shopping at the market stalls. Hades shook the cloth pouch dangling from his belt, and it made a jingling sound.
“We’ve still got plenty of gold coins,” he said. “I’m going to get some more of that stinky cheese that I got yesterday!”
“Not if you want to hang out with us,” came a voice behind them.
Zeus, Hades, Hephaestus, and Athena turned around. Four of their Olympian friends stood there: Hera, Hestia, Demeter, and Poseidon!
The girl speaking was Hera, Zeus’s blond-haired, blue-eyed (and sometimes bossy) sister. Hades ran up to her and gave her a hug.
“You guys are back!” he cried.
Yeah, well, there were no hairy snakes in the mountains,” Hera reported.
“Just a lot of goats,” Poseidon added.
“Did you find the hairy snakes?” asked Demeter.
“We did,” Zeus said, “but it’s kind of a long story.”
“We want to hear it,” Hestia said. “But I think we’re all hungry. I’ll go make a fire over there, and we can talk while we eat.”
Hestia pointed to a meadow just beyond the village.
“I’ll help you,” Athena offered.
“And I’ll help Hades do the shopping, so we don’t end up eating a whole bunch of stinky cheese,” added Hera.
Hades shook his head. “You have no taste.”
It wasn’t long before the eight Olympians were gathered around a small fire, started by
Hestia and her magic torch. They roasted sausages on sticks and ate chunks of cheese while Zeus, Hephaestus, Athena, and Hades told their story. They explained how a young thief, Perseus, had led them to Medusa, a monster with snakes for hair—Pythia’s “hairy snakes.” Athena had tricked Medusa and turned her into a statue.
“So, after my cane destroyed the statue, this horse with wings came flying out of it,” Hephaestus said.
“A winged horse? Cool!” said Poseidon.
“Not cool,” said Zeus. “He grabbed Bolt and flew away with it!”
Demeter gasped. “No! You have to get Bolt back!”
Bolt was one of Zeus’s magical objects. After Zeus had pulled Bolt from a stone at Delphi, he had used Bolt on all of their big quests. The lightning- shaped dagger could grow large or small
at Zeus’s command. It had saved the Olympians from many monsters—and now it was gone.
Zeus nodded. “The horse flew toward this village. But we can’t look for him until we find the others.”
“And Pythia might have a new quest for us,” Athena reminded him.
Poseidon looked around. “No sign of her yet?”
“She might be waiting until all twelve of us are together again,” Hera guessed.
“We’ve got four and four, but we need four more,” Hades quipped.
Zeus looked back at the village. “I don’t see anyone here yet from our group. Maybe we should ask if anyone has seen them.”
Then Hestia pointed to Zeus. “Look! Chip is glowing!”
Zeus looked down at the smooth oval stone that he wore around his neck. Chip was his
second magical object and helped guide the Olympians in the right direction. Right now a big red C was glowing on the stone.
“That’s new,” Hera remarked.
“Chip’s trying to tell us something,” Athena said. “Do you think the C stands for ‘Cronies’?”
Suddenly the group heard a commotion in the distance.
“Uh, yeah, Bro. . . . I think that C definitely stands for ‘Cronies,’?” Hades said, staring past Zeus. His pale face was even paler than usual as he pointed a shaking finger toward the village.
Zeus looked up from Chip. He could hear screaming. Out of nowhere, three hulking half-giants, soldiers of King Cronus, stomped through the market.
Zeus reached for Bolt around his waist out of habit—but of course it wasn’t there. “Quick! Put out our fire!” he yelled.