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Joseph Mierek

XXI

Friends in Low Places

El and I stood there in a panicked fear as the Lord of the Underworld sat on his throne glaring at us. Some how we had been transported into Hades' throne room. Hades was 10 feet tall with his long black robes woven from tortured souls. Dead soldiers lined the walls and two hell hounds stood by the doors behind us. Hades had gone all out to scare the living souls out of us. The throne next to him was vacant, meaning Persephone was no longer here.

I finally regained my composure and bowed deeply to my uncle. El was still paralyzed with fear so I shocked her and she followed suit.

"Hades," I said at last spreading my hands. "Lord of the Underworld, and my favorite uncle."

Hades just sat there, his expression hadn't changed so I guessed the flattery hadn't worked. His eyes moved to El and the color drained from her face. The poor girl probably never met the lord of the dead before. I had spent a few weeks here back when I was traveling.

Quickly I took the lead I placed a hand on El's shoulder. "My lord..." Hades looked back to me. "May I introduce Elanor Clatter, daughter of Poseidon." El bowed again the color began to come back to her face.

Hades leaned back in his Throne. "Why have you come to my realm Mierek?"

"Aww crap." I thought to my self. I had been trying to avoid this question. I glanced at Angel who was sitting on my shoulder.

"Don't look at me!" She said trying to raise her paws to stop me.

"We'll we can't tell him about the bombs." I thought back. "So what should I tell him?"

"Anything! " She said glancing back at the hell hounds.

Suddenly I remembered something from one of the emergency meetings we had been called to before Dan had received the dooms day letter.

"We've come to ask you if we could borrow Daedalus." I asked in a confident tone.

Hades leaned forward in his chair his eyes trying to peer into my mind. But after years of interaction with gods I was able to put up mental barriers around my mind. I was able to do the same for El since my hand was still on her shoulder.

Hades gave up trying to read our minds and asked directly. "Why do you want my architect?" Hades asked in a steely tone.

"Team Recon and Annabeth Chase went missing about a week ago." I began. "They've disappeared into something the League is calling the New Labyrinth. We've sent people there to try and get them out but with little success. So our team was sent here to see if we could borrow him to help us get them out."

I stood there waiting for Hades to make up his mind. "No." He finally said.

"My lord?" I asked.

"If I allow Daedalus to leave the Underworld there is no guarantee he will return." Hades replied.

"But my lord..." El began.

"Enough daughter of Poseidon!" Hades barked. "I will allow you to gather the rest of your team and leave. Be grateful I do not incinerate you where you stand."

With that he dissolved into shadows and disappeared. The soldiers melded into the walls and the hell hounds exited through the doors. We stood there alone until El walker over to Hades throne.

"El what are you doing!" I exclaimed in a loud whisper. My heart began to race.

She knelt down at the foot of the throne and reached underneath. I grabbed Changing Storm just in case. She pulled out a metal box about the size of a brief case... the bomb.

"How..." I began.

El shrugged her shoulders. "I just saw it lying there. Apparently whoever hid it weren't very careful."

"Or they were in a hurry." I added. We both chuckled a little. "Alright we have to get this to Dan."

We exited the palace and began walking towards the Fields of Punishment. We got half way to the Fields when suddenly we heard the sound of wings flapping behind us. We turned around and saw a horrifying sight. Three bat winged figures with flaming whips flew toward us and stopped twenty feet away. My heart began to race again, hovering 10 feet above us were the Furies.

The head Fury, Alecto, fluttered closer to us, she pointed a clawed hand to the suit case-bomb El was holding. "You stole that from the master's palace." She said in a raspy voice. "Return it at once!"

"Trust me Alecto you don't want this back." I called up to her. She simply sneered at and dived at us. She reached out trying to grab the bomb. I raised my hand and blasted her with a current of air.

"Run!" I yelled. We took off for the Fields of Punishment which didn't really make much sense, but we weren't really thinking.

I could hear Alecto and her sisters behind us and I shot a lightning bolt behind me hoping I hit something. El blasted a current of water behind her, probably trying to do the same thing. However many times we tried to blast them they always seemed to get closer. A fire whip flicked next to my ear. I whirled around and blasted them with gale force winds.

They were sent flying into the ceiling. I grabbed my knees and started breathing hard El wasn't in much better shape. I was exhausted from a lack of sleep and we were too far from any help or friends. Suddenly I heard a howl in the distance there was a friend close by.

"Come on!" I grabbed El and we ran towards where the sound came from.

"Where are we going?" El shouted.

"To get some help." I shouted back. We kept running until we were about ten yards from our target. El stopped dead in her tracks.

"Have you gone off the deep end!?! She screamed.

"Nope, just follow my lead." We turned around and saw the Furies getting closer whips cracking, teeth bared and claws poised. I waited for the perfect moment. Just as the furies were about to strike I allowed myself to fall backwards. I screamed at the top of my lungs, "CERBERUS!!!"

The two story, three headed guard dog turned one of it's heads around just in time to see the Furies dive bomb us. Cerberus let out a defending bark. He moved as fast as lightning and intercepted the Furies. The four monsters clashed with each other. The three furies fighting each of Cerberus's heads all the while screaming "Down," "Bad Dog," and a bunch of stuff that I won't translate. Finally with a powerful lunge each of Cereberus' heads chomped down on the Furies causing them to explode in clouds of dust.

Cerberus started coughing and licking his lips to get the taste out of his mouth. Can't blame the poor guy. He turned around and lowered his heads to me. He opened his mouth and El Jumped back thinking he'd have us for dessert. Instead he began licking me covering me in dog drool.

I began laughing. "Yeah, yeah it's good to see you too buddy. Yuck. Down Boy."

"How in Tartarus...?" El began.

"When I was traveling around learning from the gods I stayed in the Underworld for a few weeks and in that time Cerberus and I became fast friends."

Cerberus began to whimper, he wanted me to play with him again but I had to get moving. I didn't know how long the furies would stay dead.

"I can't stay boy... but oh wait here." I reached into my pack, I don't know why I grabbed it but there it was. A red rubber ball. I squeezed it and threw it into the air and it grew and twisted into a full sized Hydra. I stomped on one of it's head and it squeaked. Cerberus barked happily and picked it up. He ripped off one of the heads but two more grew back after a few seconds.

He walked back to his post. Hopefully that toy would keep him occupied for a few hundred years.

"Come on Joe." El said "We got a bomb to deactivate."

I wiped a tear from my eye and followed El towards the Fields of Punishment.

Author's Note

In loving memory of Shania. She was one of the best dogs you ever would've met. May she forever play with the shades in Elysium. <3

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