LOU ELLEN II

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"Helios used to spend most of his time on the Island of Rhodes in Greece," Will explained as the group hitch-hiked towards the sea. It would take too much time to travel on land around to Greece, and since they were looking for an island anyway they would need to get on the water at some point. "That's where he was most worshiped back in the day. He faded after the Romans took over, but if Apollo is out of commission it makes since that Helios would come back to take over my dad's job."

"You're right," Nico agreed. "He is the guardian of oaths too, isn't he?"

Cecil lit up. "I remember reading about him! He has power over oaths, fire, and sight."

"Sight," Lou Ellen muttered. "Beware the Oath's blinding curse. Of course! He can give or take away people's sight. There are stories of him healing the blind and cursing those who broke oaths to lose their sight, but I'd forgotten about them. But the prophecy Apollo gave you also mentioned something about him being angry."

"When we free Apollo he won't be able to ride the sun chariot anymore," the child of Hermes pointed out.

"Actually it's no longer a sun chariot." Nico said with a grin. "It is a red sports car now, although it can turn into a bus when needed. Trust me, I've ridden in it."

Cecil shook his head. It was always amusing the way some gods modernized their things and sometimes themselves. "If he lost his newly obtained convertible that'd make him very angry. He'll want to stop us from completing the quest so he can keep it and his place as the puller of the sun."

"Your right. Helios was created to be the titan equivalent of Apollo's power as the sun god."

Nico, who had been scouting ahead, suddenly stopped. A few feet in front of the group was a beautiful beach. Since it was almost sunset, however, it was empty just like they had been hoping for. The dark-haired teen fished out a drachma from a pocket of his black aviator's jacket and searched for an area of beach suitable for Iris-messaging.

"There's a good spot," Will said as he pointed to a spot on the edge of the beach where water sprayed up in the air as it crashed against a rocky outcrop.

A few minutes later the four were standing as the IM popped up, the startled face of Percy Jackson appearing in the mist.

"Whoa!" He said before taking a few steps back. Suddenly Annabeth, Piper, Jason, Leo, and Calypso were in the picture as well, all staring at the questers happily. "How's the quest going so far, guys?"

Will smiled back at the son of Poseidon. "As well as a quest can go, I suppose. We ran into some rowdy wind spirits and a metal bull before making it into the labyrinth, where we had some trouble with Daedalus, the Minotaur, and Pasiphaë."

"Daedalus?" Annabeth frowned. "But he's dead."

"Nico summoned him to navigate us through the labyrinth. He ended up harboring a grudge against my father though and almost got me killed by the titan of magic, but it worked out alright in the end." He shot Nico a grin and the boy groaned.

"What was that look for?" Jason was suspicious. "What happened in the labyrinth?"

Cecil started laughing maniacally, shouting things about bunnies, teddy bears, and hugs before Lou Ellen hit him upside the head and he calmed down.

"It's a long, embarrassing story." Nico ground out as he glared daggers at the son of Hermes. "I'm sure the moment we get back to camp this blabber-mouth will tell you the whole thing."

"Darn right I will. It was hilarious!"

"What was hilarious? Now I really want to know!" Leo whined before Calypso put a hand over his mouth.

"Continue, Will." She advised him.

He laughed at his friends' antics. "Lou Ellen put Pasiphaë to sleep since she can only be killed with a god's help, after Cecil and she killed the Minotaur; then we ended up in Venice, Italy because we had to get out of the labyrinth before she woke up and came after us. We learned we need to locate Helios though, which brings us to why we wanted to talk to you, Percy. Do you have any idea how to get us to the Island of Rhodes? Do you think your dad will help us if you ask him?"

Percy's brow furrowed as he thought. "He might be able to help, I'll ask him regardless, but the waters around there are infested with sea creatures under the control of my half-sister, Kym. Jason kept his word and built her a shrine, so I think we're on okay terms now, but she's pretty unpredictable. Traveling by water would be dangerous."

"But we have to," Will stressed. "How else do we get onto an island?"

A loud voice spoke from behind them, and the IM disappeared as a man reached past the demigods and swept his hand through it. "With my help, of course."

Cecil's eyes became wide as saucers. "Dad?"

Hermes smiled. "Hello there, son! It's nice finally meeting you."

Before them stood a lean man of about thirty. His hair was black with a few gray and white hairs sprinkled in, and he wore loose basketball shorts, a tank-top, and running shoes as if he had been in the middle of a jog. The only thing that gave away his identity was the three foot tall wooden staff in his hands, two green snakes intertwined around the pole.

"Oh, and meet George and Martha."

Hello, a male and female voiced said together.

"Uh, hi." Cecil waved at the slithering reptiles. "So, dad, did you just say you're going to help us?"

"Of course! Ever since the end of the great prophecy fulfilled by Percy Jackson, a child of Hermes hasn't had a role in a major quest since. Rescuing my friend Apollo from Python," the god whistled, "caught my attention. That and I noticed how you redirected the trajectory of those foul machines during the fight with the Romans."

"You mean the onagers? Nico thought of the idea, not me."

Nico elbowed Cecil, speaking up. "Your son saved many lives because of the skills you blessed him with, so thank you."

Hermes stared at his son so proudly Cecil didn't know what to say.

"Anyway, I cannot stay long. Being the god of messaging leaves me very busy." He reached into his shorts pocket and pulled out four tickets. He handed them to his son. They were blue and white with black cursive writing bold underneath a picture of a yacht. "Tomorrow morning a tour ship is leaving port from the town south of here. Get on it. Percy has already asked his father to allow you save travel, although the sea monsters are out of his control. One of its stops is the island where Helios currently lives. Be careful though, for he knows you're looking for him. He most likely will attack you so you won't be able to free Apollo; however, you need to find him and ask to borrow the sun chariot."

"Red convertible," Cecil corrected.

His father rolled his eyes. "That is the only hint I'm giving you, okay? You need the chariot, car, whatever it is he has. Good luck, son. Your skills will be needed soon. Oh, and take these in case of an emergency."

He handed the each of the demigods a pair of shoes: black gym shoes for Cecil, stylish boots for Lou Ellen, white gym shoes with sun patterns on them for Will, and black converses for Nico. "Put these on right away," he instructed as the group stared at the shoes in confusion. "When you are in need of a quick escape, say the word maia." Suddenly all pairs of shoes grew wings before Hermes spoke the word again, causing the wings to vanish. "Last time I gave shoes like these away they were tampered with, misused. The moment to you say the word you will have one use of them. Say the word a second time and they will again be regular shoes, but this time without the ability to fly. Okay? You have one use," he repeated. "Don't use them until absolutely necessary. You will know when it is time."

With that Hermes ran away, his shoes growing wings and allowing him to continue running through the air until he was out of sight.

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