Part Thirty-Six:

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Part Thirty-Six:

Zoe woke up to the smell of pizza. "Mmm, food." She sighed in longing. The last time she had eaten a pizza was a while ago. A long while ago.

"Here you go, m'lady." Charlie said in a fake British accent, handing Zoe three slices of fresh pizza - the mozzarella was still gooey and stretchy.

"Why, thank you, good sir." Zoe replied in the same kind of voice. She took a bite of the first piece and was delighted to taste warm food.

"-put the leftovers in the bags." Sammy was saying to Alex.

"Where are we?" Zoe asked between mouthfuls.

"Hermes' shrine." Charlie explained.

"Oh." Zoe took out her map. "It's on here." She pointed to it.

"Can I look at that?" Charlie asked.

"Sure." Charlie spread it out on the floor and examined it.

"We're close to the Forest of Curses." He said. "But we should probably avoid it. Why don't we head that way." He trailed his finger from the shrine to a darker area on the far lefthand corner. "That's Chaos. I bet Tartarus will be there because the deeper parts of this place will probably his best source of power. We'll go around the forest and the Drakon Swamp and then attack."

"Sounds good." Zoe said, finishing up her pizza. "Lets go."

•••

The group shouldered their packs and headed off to their right, past the dark forest and towards a swampy area. While they walked, Michael kept a close eye on Sammy and Alex. They were holding hands and were both walking at the same pace, as if in sync. Charlie was leading, but Zoe and Michael were taking up the rear.

"How are you feeling?" Michael asked Zoe, who was walking beside him.

"Better." She replied. "All that hard work had really drained me."

"You scared us for a second." Michael said. "We all thought that the same thing would happen like when you 'died'."

"Don't worry." Zoe grinned. "I'm not finished here yet. I wouldn't just desert you guys for no reason. I'm here to fight, so that's what I'll do."

Michael was awed by her bravery. This was the girl who he had saved from falling off the climbing wall back at Camp. The girl who had wickedly cool water powers. Zoe was a nice girl, and Michael had admitted to himself that she was kinda hot, but for some reason, he felt like she wasn't his type, the same way he felt about Alex and basically every other girl he had met. He knew deep down that he wasn't gay, but he also thought that maybe he wouldn't ever be to find love...

Suddenly, Michael was pulled out of his thoughts as there was a loud bark and a Hellhound jumped out of nowhere.

"Another one?" Sammy groaned, drawing his sword. "Seriously?!"

But this time, the Hellhound didn't try to claw their eyes out. Instead, it sunk its teeth into Charlie's leg and started dragging him towards the Forest of Curses which they had been walking beside.

"Charlie!" Zoe cried, running towards him. She tripped on a rock and fell, but got back up and continued on.

"Help!" Charlie yelled. Sammy, Alex and Michael sprinted after Zoe. They ran as fast as they could until they reached the forest and entered it. But this was no regular forest. The ground got smoother and paler, plus the trees were perfectly round yet had no branches. Michael shivered. This didn't feel right.

The air suddenly got colder and darker all at once. Michael kept running, but he now felt like he was being followed - chased was a better word.

"Help!" Charlie cried again. There was a slash of something that sounded like bronze and a distant howl. And then suddenly, there was no noise at all except for the pounding of Sammy, Alex and Michael's feet and their panting breaths.

Could this be the point in Lies which will change the fate of the quest - and possibly their lives - forever?

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