30- Mt. Tamalpais

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Percy's PoV:

Just then, the earth started to shake. Everyone's faces showed alarm.

"We should hurry! Hades is angry! Follow me!" Nico started to go back in the direction where we came from. We were greeted by skeleton guards again but Nico used his power over them to get them out of our way. It only worked for a short while until they started to chase us again. We ran outside Hades' palace and the Furies spotted us. They came at us with their whips while showing their sharp teeth. "Quick, hold hands!" We all held hands and Nico shadow traveled us.

We appeared in front of the River Styx. Nico went to the earthen wall at our back and put his palm over it. The earth crumbled, leaving a huge hole enough for us to walk through. Inside was a tiled corridor. The labyrinth.

"We should go in now." Nico said. He looked paler and tired because of using his powers. I nodded. All of us went in and the earth filled the hole again after I entered last.

Suddenly, I felt my pocket heat up. I put my hand in and got out the golden scroll. It was buzzing in my hand and was trying to drag me forward.

"Oh no. Not that scroll again." Rachel said.

"Guys, follow me." I said.

I let the scroll guide us. We turned left, then right, then came at a crossroads. The scroll urged me to go forward but I hesitated. The corridor in front of us was dark, slimy and had earthen walls. A foul stench mixed with the smell of eucalyptus leaves also came from it.

"Are we going to go in there?" Grover asked with a nasal voice. He was pinching his nose to keep the smell away. The others were covering their noses too.

"It seems so. This scroll is heating up like it's going to explode if we don't go in there." I replied. I estimated the temperature of the scroll to be above 150° Celsius at this point. I was really lucky I had fire powers.

"I told ya'll that scroll was trouble. It even dragged us to two giant statues like a rocket and made us crash with it." Rachel crossed her arms.

"No matter what we should follow the scroll. Let's go." Nico said with his quiet voice. I nodded and led the way. I made a small flame on top of my index finger to help us see.

I felt like puking because of the stench. My lungs also burned because of the smell of eucalyptus leaves. The ground was slimy to the point that we had to pull up our feet all the time to unstick them. I would have to take a bath first thing after I get out. Then we reached the end of the corridor. It turned out to be a dead end. I looked around and finally noticed the greek letter, Δ, directly above me.

"This seems to be the way out." I told the others. The scroll had stopped burning and stayed perfectly still in my hand. I put it in my pocket and extended my hand to touch the letter. "Here we go." I touched it and an exit opened above me, enough for us to climb through. But the strange thing was that a long copper brown thing, almost like a tail, was on top of it. "What's th--" I stopped when it moved. My eyes widened. I looked at the others and I knew that the same thing was on their minds. Suddenly I heard a deafening roar.

"We should get out now or else it will cover the exit!" Nico whisper shouted. I nodded and got out Riptide. Then I gathered all my courage and climbed out first.

I climbed out to find that I was in a garden. At my back was an apple tree with golden apples and in front of me was a very angry dragon. I didn't have any time to admire the golden apples because the dragon's anger filled two hundred eyes were on me. It had a hundred heads and its serpentine body was thicker than a booster rocket. It also had bright scales that shimmer like copper. Its breath was the worst I've ever smelled. It was so acidic and made every part of me burn. My overall description for the dragon was terrifying, enormous and deadly. I slowly moved to let the others climb out too. The dragon roared when Nico climbed out last and the exit closed. Why of all the places the exit could have wound up at, it chose to appear under a dragon... It must be furious that we evaded its private space.

"Uhm... Sorry for disturbing your privacy, buddy." I held out my left hand in front of me, palm facing the dragon. "I'll distract the dragon. You guys, secretly escape." I whispered to my companions. I saw Nico nod, in my peripheral vision.

I approached the dragon very slowly and grew in size slowly to block the others from its view. It stayed in place but I could see the anger in its eyes. I made Riptide go back to its pen form so that the dragon will not think I'm going to attack it. I held my hands in front of me and held eye contact with one of the dragon's heads. As I approached it, I could see a change of emotions in its eyes. Then he suddenly lounged at me. I closed my eyes and faced away. Deep inside, I didn't want to hurt it. Then I felt something rubbing itself on my palms. I opened my eyes slowly to see the dragon rubbing each of its heads one by one on my palms in an affectionate way. Ladon. I remembered its name. I smiled.

"Ladon, it's been a long time." I said. I don't know what made me say that but it just came out of me suddenly. I felt that I had a connection with him. I knew people will think that I'm crazy to be getting fond of a dragon with a hundred heads. I looked at my back to find my companions gone. I looked around while petting Ladon and found them behind a bush at a safe distance from Ladon. "Ladon," I looked down at the dragon. "I'll have to go now." He looked up at me sadly. "I'll come some other time, okay? Go and take a nap now." I felt so close to him and sad that I would be leaving him. He obediently went back to his spot under the tree and laid down. He was still looking at me sadly. I waved to him with a smile and ran off to my companions, slowly shrinking back to my normal size.

"Hey man, what was that?" Grover asked me. I shrugged my shoulders and looked back at Ladon to find him sleeping.

"I'm confused too. But let's not talk about that right now. We still have to save Artemis and Thalia." My mood changed to seriousness.

The scroll started to burn again so I took it out. The word 'Mt. Tamalpais' changed to an arrow pointing up. Beside us was a road that led to the top of the mountain. Eucalyptus trees could be seen on either side of the road. I closed the scroll and suddenly it caught fire. It burned down into ashes and the ashes seeped under my skin to the back of my hand. Then it formed an image of a scroll. I was creeped out. I flinched when it burned my skin. The scroll was fiery and after a while it cooled down.

"Woah. What happened?" Rachel asked me.

"I don't know either." I shook my head. I tried scratching the back of my hand, but it didn't remove. I sighed. This scroll was really annoying.

"Enough of that now. Let's go." Nico butted in. The rest of us nodded and followed him up.

It was a long climb but we made it, only to be greeted with an army of fully armed monsters. We heard a boom of thunder in the distance. I got out Riptide. It was battle time.

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Word Count: 1379 (excluding A/N)
Date Published: June 7, 2017
A/N: I got some inspiration today, so here is another chapter. The story is nearing its climax and school is coming too, so I'll have to work extra hard. If we're lucky and I get some inspiration again, I'll be able to update soon. Thank you for the support! You guys are really the best! Don't forgot to click the star below and comment what you feel about the chapter! It really makes me happy and motivated! Until the next chapter!

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