Part Thirty-Five:

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Part Thirty-Five:

The thing that Zoe wanted the most was to lie down and fall asleep. Since she had water powers, it had been her job to help everyone cross the rivers. They had crossed two so far, and that was all they had done since they left the shelter of the stalagmite.

Charlie glanced back at her as Zoe struggled to stay up on her feet. "How are you doing?" He asked, grinning.
"I'm tired." Zoe moaned.

"Well, we should have another break soon." Charlie replied.

"Can we please stop?" Zoe pleaded. "I need rest."

"Alright." Michael agreed. "It's been a long walk." Everyone stopped walking and grabbed some food from the packs.

"Look over there!" Alex cried suddenly, pointing towards where a dark structure was standing. To Zoe, it looked like some sort of shrine, but she could've been wrong. Her head was spinning and around everything seemed to be blurred. She collapsed onto the ground and cried out in pain.

"Zoe!" Michael and Charlie yelped. They each took one of her arms and hauled her up.

"Go!" Sammy screamed, and Zoe heard the howl of a monster before she blacked out.

•••

Sammy drew his sword and slashed as hard as he could at the Hellhound that had attacked them. The Hellhound was big - almost the size of a truck, and had beady red eyes and fur as strong as steel.

Out of the corner of his eye, Sammy watched Charlie and Michael run with Zoe towards the building, with Alex following them, making sure that no other monsters attacked.

Sammy swung his sword and stabbed it in the monster's coat. It stuck there, and no matter how much he tugged, it wouldn't come back out. Sammy stumbled backwards and tried to run, but the Hellhound grabbed at his shoulder with huge claws the size of knives. Sammy felt pain travel through his body and he felt like curling up into a ball and dying.

The Hellhound roared and went for another strike but Sammy was quicker. He felt his body changing as he transformed. Dark fur covered his body. The slash mark was still there, but it didn't hurt as much. Sammy grew to the size of a truck and he looked at the Hellhound, not with hate, but with anger. Pure anger.

Sammy extended his claws and jumped. He leaped onto the Hellhound's back and dug his claws in. There was a split second where Sammy had thought his plan hadn't worked and panic seized him, but then, beneath him, the Hellhound dissolved into dust and Sammy's sword clattered to the ground.

Sammy shrunk down back to human form. His shoulder ached, but he managed to grab his sword and sprint towards where the others were.

It was a shrine made of black marble in columns surrounding an altar. Alex and Michael were standing guard on opposite sides as Charlie poured nectar into Zoe's mouth. She stirred and groaned.

"Sammy!" Alex yelled, running up to him as Sammy limped into the shrine.
"I killed the Hellhound." Sammy said, leaning against a column. Alex glanced at his shoulder, and her face went as white as a sheep.

"Charlie! Sammy is injured!" she cried.

"Hold on, one moment." Charlie muttered. He fed Zoe a square of ambrosia and headed over to Sammy and Alex. "Ouch." He winced, when he saw the wound.

Charlie placed his hands over the scratches and shut his eyes. Sammy's shoulder burned for a moment before the pain disappeared. Alex handed her brother some ambrosia.

"How much of that stuff do we have left?" Michael asked while scanning the area surrounding them.

"Not a lot." Charlie admitted. "Zoe lost her bag when she ... uh, 'died', so our supplies have been down ever since. Alex's bag is still wet and won't seen to dry, and she's got the golden suitcase so we really only have three bags left."

"I can chuck the backpack away and just carry the suitcase." Alex offered. "It's light."

"How about we lay all of our stuff on the ground and do a supply count." Sammy said. He swung his bag off and unzipped the zipper.

"Good idea." Michael replied.

"I'll stand guard." Alex said, after pulling the suitcase from her bag.

It took them a few minutes to put all their stuff together, and when they did, they realised how short their food supply was.

"We only have two musli bars and a packet of biscuits left." Sammy announced, sitting back on his heels.

"One bottle of nectar and four pieces of ambrosia." Michael added.

"A spare set of clothes and all our weapons with a few spare daggers." Charlie offered. "And I only have a dozen arrows left."

"Two bottles of water." Alex replied.

"Lets spread everything out in the backpacks; that way, if we lose one then we'll still have some more stuff." Sammy said.

Suddenly, there was a popping noise and they all jumped. "Um, guys..." Alex was looking at the altar in the middle of the room.

Some food was sitting there. Two strawberries and a couple slices of bread. Pop! Bacon and more bread.
Slowly, the altar began to fill up with more and more food.

Sammy slapped a hand on his forehead. He looked back at one of the marble columns and read an inscription. "Ἑρμῆς." He said. "Hermes. This is his shrine."

"Hermes? You mean the god of messengers, travellers, thieves and a whole bunch of other stuff?" Alex asked.

"Yeah." Sammy replied.

"What's a shrine to him doing in Tartarus?" Michael whispered, almost as if he was afraid of the god himself showing up.

"Maybe the food is a blessing from him!" Alex cried.

"No, that food looks familiar." Sammy looked at the others. "This is the burnt offerings from Camp Half-Blood."

"Wait - what?" Charlie asked.

"So that's where the food goes!" Alex breathed.

"I know! Maybe we could try and send a message back to camp!" Michael said. "We can tell our parents that we're okay. Does anyone have a pen?"

Alex looked at him like he was insane. "We're in Tartarus for crying out loud! Why would we have a pen?"

Embarrassed, Sammy drew the pen he always kept with him in his pocket. "I have one."

Charlie was stunned. "You've had a pen this entire time and you haven't told us?"

"Well, yeah." Sammy shifted uncomfortably. "I always carry a spare pen around."

"Alright then." Michael sighed. "Who has some paper?" They looked at Sammy.

"Geez, I don't have..." Sammy faltered. He groped around in his pocket and pulled out a ball of crumbled up paper.

"Wow, just wow." Alex said, giving Sammy an appreciative look. "My boyfriend carries a pen and some paper around everywhere. Nice."

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