The Walls Of Sparta

Wiess

Grigory Wiess made his way through the crowd.

While he had born in the city, he had forgotten how unforgivably cold Moscow could be especially in the winter. Still it was good to be home, or close by at least. Technically, he had been in the city earlier that day to hang posters and hand out coupons to the passerby. While it would have made sense to acquire a location in the actual city rather than the outskirts, it was expensive to rent out space in city and people seemed to be less and less interested in attending the circus.

His father, Ivan Wiess, had been raised in a circus just like his parents. So when the opportunity to become owner and ringleader presented itself, Ivan could not resist. He bought and turned a failing traveling circus around. Sometime during the early years, Ivan met Grigory's mother and he was born sometime after. For some unknown reason, unknown to Grigory, his mother left shortly after. Ivan then had to divide his time between homeschooling Grigory and running a traveling circus.

Grigory had to admit it wasn't bad when he was little, but flair soon faded. He was tired of moving from place to place all over Eastern Europe with hardly anything changing. Sure sometime acts left or joined here and there, but he was willing to bet that this time next year he'd go into Moscow the morning the train pulled into the station to hand out posters and coupons.

He followed the crowd into the large red and white striped tent and found a spot high in the bleachers. It wasn't hard to do. There were plenty of empty sections to choose from and he wondered if his father would ever take the hint and find a new line of work. He was probably the only fifeteen year old boy in the world who wanted to go to the same school everyday, see the same teachers and kids, and sit in the same seat.

"Back already, Grigory?" asked a voice.

Grigory turned and smiled. He got along with pretty much everyone at the circus, Natasha was special. She was the only other that had been with the circus as long as he had. Her brother had only joined fully a few months ago.

She was half of junior balancing act that Grigory's father dubbed the Sauntering Satyrs. Natasha and her brother, Alexi, would put on fake ram's horns and faux fur pants and perform increasingly difficult stunts while balancing and various kinds of things like large balls or swaying poles.

Grigory had always wondered what had made his father decide on an ancient Greek Mythology theme for the circus. The fire breather, Boris, was supposedly a child of Hephaestus, the god of smithing and fire. The strongman, Dimitri, had the strength of Hercules according to his father, but he was a child of Ares and was called The Last Spartan. Even the clowns weren't just clowns. They were apparently children of Hermes, a very mischievous god, who were drinking buddies with Dionysus.

"Not much to do." Grigory shrugged. "At least when you don't have any money."

"I know how that is." Natasha held a bag of roasted peanuts. "Khotite arakhis?"

"Pochemu net?" Grigory shrugged and took a handful. "What are doing up here?"

"Alexi's feeling sick." She said. "So your dad canceled our act."

"Your parents too?"

"No." She laughed. "You could break their legs and they'd still try to perform. Not that your dad would let them."

"So why are you here?" Grigory asked again. "If I was you I'd be in a movie theater or a museum. Anything to get a break from this place."

"Like you said, not much to do." Natasha rolled her eyes. "At least when you don't have any money."

Grigory opened his mouth to talk, but suddenly the lights dimmed and loud voice boomed through the speakers. He sighed. He already knew what was coming. Some of smaller act would change now and then between the big ones, but he knew the routine by heart. His father would magically appear in the center ring in a puff of smoke. He'd introduce himself and say it was a pleasure to perform in whatever city or town they happen to be in. Then came the trapeze act, Natasha' parents with uncle and aunt from each side, aptly named the Daring Descendents of Zeus. After they warmed the crowd up came the tightrope act which the clowns followed for a quick laugh then the fire breather and the strongman.

The only thing Grigory liked was the finale. Not only did that mean the show was close to being over, but it was hard to predict. Well, as hard to predict as a die roll. It was always one of the previous acts, but each had their own finale routine. He recalled the trapeze act hadn't done theirs in a while and thought it might be them.

Like he predicted, there was a bright flash of light and thick puff of smoke. The smoke cleared in a second and a spotlight illuminated middle age man wearing a pitch black top hat, red jacket over a white collared shirt with a red bow tie, pristine white pants, and polished black boots. Even this high up, Grigory knew it was his father.

"Damy i monsieurs!" exclaimed Ivan Wiess. "Ladies and gentlemen!" He threw his arms out wide. "Welcome to the Olympian Traveling Circus! Where the world of gods and goddesses, heroes and monsters, are real!"

The crowd, or at least the kids, roared and cheered.

"I see some familiar faces, but I also see a lot of new ones. Which means I need to explain something." Ivan laughed. "Don't worry, lyudi, I know you're all eager to dive into the world of magic and monsters. It will be quick. I swear on the Styx!"

Then came the sound of crashing thunder. Grigory always thought his dad just mixed the sound of thunder into the sound system whenever he swore on Styx, but he found out that he never did. To top things off, Grigory was the only one who ever who heard it. Eventually, he stopped trying to figure it out and forgot about it until the next show where he heard it again.

"Long ago, twelve gods and goddesses ruled over ancient Greece!" Ivan said dramatically. "They, like the rest of us mere mortals, had children. But when they had children with mortals, those children were demigods!" Ivan paused for dramatic effect. "Half human and half god. These demigods were gifted with powers beyond mortal man. You know some of them already. Hercules! Perseus! Achilles!"

"O, prosto ladit' s ney!" Grigory said to himself.

"But gods as you know, unlike us, are immortal. They can never die." Ivan went on. "Just because they are no longer worshiped, it doesn't mean they went away." Ivan paused one last time. "In fact, they are still having children to this day and here they are!"

Grigory lazily followed the spotlight up to where a man stood and waved to the crowd. He wore cloud white tights with glittering lighting bolts painted on and glittering gold Greek sandals. He waved once more before he grabbed the swing and swung across to the opposite platform just as a women, also wearing the same colored tights did the same from her side. For a moment, for someone who hadn't seen the show before, it looked like they were going to crash, but the man leaped and soared over the woman so just a hair could fit between them and grabbed the swing the woman had also leaped from. The woman did the same for her partner's swing.

"I give you the Daring Descendents of Zeus!" Ivan shouted excitedly. "King of Gods and lord of the sky and the heavens. While his son Hercules was know for his strength, these descendents are little lighter on their feet."

The crowd cheered as another couple joined in and began performing even more impressive tricks. Grigory envied them. He used to think it was amazing too at first. He didn't have a problem with them as people, they were as much family as Ivan was, you can only watch a show so many times before it got old. Truth be told anyone could do what they did. You just had to put in the practice like anyone would.

"I guarantee you will never see another trapeze act like this, lyudi." Ivan boasted. "And all performed without a net!"

Grigory and Natasha, along with the rest of crowd, watched as Natasha's family finished up with their last trick. It involved having Dimitri, The Last Spartan, jumping down a seesaw and sending three barrels into the air just as Natasha father shot through them just as Natasha's mother did the same from the other end. It had to be perfectly timed and executed. One second off and either one could collide with the barrels or each other. Then there was the twelve and half meter drop to the solid ground below. Grigory had to admit that even after all these years it was still impressive.

"The Daring Descendents of Zeus!" cried Ivan while Natasha's family waved from the top of trapeze. "But that was just beginning!" Ivan motioned to air above him. "Now I give you, Nikifor!"

Suddenly the spotlight went from Ivan to man wearing a black and white leotard and face painted to match. He was walking across tightrope with a very long pole held at the waist. Grigory watched absentminded as Nikifor slowly, step by step, walked across the tightrope seven and half meters above the floor.

"Nikifor is the son of Nemesis, the goddess of balance!" Ivan called up to Nikifor. "Why don't you show our guests here what you can really do, Nikifor?"

From there, everything went just as it had for the past eight months. Nikifor, like the trapeze act, slowly went from simple to more complicated and dangerous tricks which end with them spinning from one end of the tightrope to other while juggling bowling pins. Then came the clowns which Ivan introduced as the Hilarious Dopes of Dionysus. The clowns were chased off by Vitali the fire-breather who did some very impressive, and somewhat dangerous even for the circus, tricks and made it look like he truly was breathing fire which Ivan claimed was because he was a son of Hephaestus.

Grigory yawned again. He wasn't even trying to hold them back. All that was left now was Sergei and his lions. Sergei would come out wearing a lion pelt robe that supposedly belonged to the Nemean Lion. He was supposedly a descendant of Orion and had inherited the skills and ferocity of the famous hunter. After that was the finale, whichever his father had chosen, and then they would pack it up for one more performance tomorrow.

But he would be wrong on every single count.

"Well, that's the show, lyudi." Ivan said cheerfully. "Please come back tomorrow for our finale perform — "

Suddenly music, loud thundering music, began to play. To Grigory, it sounded like huge horns mixed with deep drums. He figured his dad had decided to cave in and give Sergei a new introduction like he wanted, but again he was wrong.

"Oh that's right!" Ivan laughed and addressed the audience. "My mistake. That music means we've saved the best for last. I'd give you his name, but I'll them tell you."

"Them?" Grigory turned to Natasha who was just as surprised as he was. "What does he mean by them?"

"I don't know." Natasha shrugged. "Sergei's new introduction?"

"Maybe." Then Grigory, for the first since the show started, gave his undivided attention.

The spotlight shot to far right entrance and tent flaps seemed to open on their own. Then Grigory and audience heard the sound of bells chiming. No sooner than dozens and dozens of people marched in. They were clearly dressed as a marching band— red coats and top hats embroidered in gold, white shirts and pants, and polished black boots— and carried long poles with bells on top of them. As they marched they slammed the poled on the ground in rhythm causing the bells to ring and chime. To top it all off, they were started to sing as made their way around the whole entire circus.

Maaaaaaaake waaaaaaay

For Prince Artiiiiiieee

Saaaaaaay heeeeeeey!

It's Prince Artiiiieee!

As the men split off to the left and right, a young man appeared. He couldn't be that much older than Grigory and he wore a bright white Greek tunic emblazoned with a what Grigory instantly knew was a golden Greek lyre and matching gold musical notes. Unless he was seeing things, the sort looked like they were arranged to look like a bow with the notes forming a nocked arrow. He also wore rope belt that looked like it was spun from gold like his Greek sandals. His long chestnut brown hair was tied back to show off golden laurels wreaths sitting on his that wasn't strange enough, he standing on the back of huge red steer with massive golden horns.

Then he began to sing as the steer trotted forward swaying in tune with the music that was still being played

Hey!

Clear the way 'cause he's come far!

Hey you!

Let us through!

It's a bright new star!

Oh Come!

Be the first on your block to meet his eye!

Now more members of the marching band came through. Mostly trumpet and other horn players with a couple of louder drummers. Grigory wondered they were because his father sure didn't have the money to pay an entire marching band along with whatever the men with bell poles were called on top of the upkeep of steer. He was so fascinated, as was the rest of the audience, he almost didn't hear the guy on steer continue to sing.

Make way!

Here he comes!

Ring bells!

Bang the drums!

Oh ladies, you're gonna love this guy!

Suddenly, the tent flaps shot up even higher and the space was filled by an elephant which was impossible. While Ivan had had an elephant in the early days of the circus, it ended up costing too much to maintain and he was forced to sell to a zoo. But there was no denying the literal elephant in the room. Instead of any fancy decorations or costume, the elephant was bare. In fact, it kind of looked like it needed a bath like a wild elephant, but that Grigory figured it was for show like the guy singing on the red steer.

Prince Artie! Fabulous he!

Artie Gallezi!

Genuflect, show some respect

Down on one knee!

Now, try your best to stay calm

Girls apply your fruity lip balm

Then come and meet his spectacular coteriiiiiiie

It was when the elephant fully stepped through that Grigory and the audience saw someone was riding it. No, not riding exactly. Rather than sitting in a a little hut or some sort of saddle tied around the animal, a young man was standing which Grigory knew was difficult the way the elephant swayed with the music.

He was dressed exactly like the man on the steer, but in contrasting colors. Instead of a white Greek tunic, his was night black. They had the same symbol, sort of. While it could have been a coincidence with the man on the steer, this guy's costume design definitely formed a bow and arrow. The silvery white crescent moon was the bow with little dots, stars he guessed, formed the string while a shooting star going through both was clearly an arrow being fired. The silvery white perfectly matched the rope belt around his waist and the Greek sandals on his feet.

Prince Artie

Mighty is he!

Artie Gallezi!

Swifter than any other man, definitely!

He commands gallopping hordes

But not one of them holds a sword

Who is their one true lord,

Why, Prince Artieee

The elephant slowly made its way to the center ring and began to sort of stomp in place in tune with the music while the red steer lazily trotted in circles around him. While that was happening the rest of the band members that had split off had made a circle around the center ring and faced outwards as they continued to play. Grigory had to admit he was impressed with the act. The guy riding the steer was an excellent singer despite being jostled around by the steer's movements. It was probably why the one on the elephant, Prince Artie if the song was a hint. kept quiet. The elephant was moving around quite a bit and he was doing his best not to fall off.

Then Grigory's jaw hit the floor as the song continued and more participants entered the tent while the man on the steer sang them in. There were so many of them that Grigory wondered if the numbers he sang were an exact count.

He's got seventy-five golden camels

Purple peacocks, he's got fifty-three

When it comes to exotic-type mammals

Has he got a zoo?

I'm telling you, it's a world-class menagerie !

At the last word, it was as if someone had opened the flood gates. Grigory saw just about animal imaginable. In additions to the camels and peacocks, which formed their own circle in the left ring and seemed to trot and strut to the music, there was two gray white wolf packs that howled along with the trumpet players as they followed a small herd of llamas. The wolves weren't carnivores there. As soon the wolves split joined the peacocks and camels, an entire pride of lions entered right next to a family of huge black grizzly bears. The audience didn't seem the least bit scared of increasing number of possible man-eaters, not even when two white, alongside a pair of Bengal, that were led by a black tigers entered just after the bears.

Then came all kinds of apes and monkeys. Some of the smaller ones did not join any of the animals in the rings, but proceeded to climb up the poles and swing along the ropes between them. Chimpanzees and orangutans climbed on top of trotting camels while a fully grown gorilla cartwheeled in each of the rings.

He's got ninety-five white Persian monkeys

Are they pets? No, they're just free

He's got birds, He's horses and donkeys

They bow to his whim and love serving him

They're just lousy with loyalty

To Artie!

Prince Artie!

Grigory thought there was just about every animal in the world in the tent, minus any kind of fish and the like, but he was wrong. Just because most came in from one entrance didn't mean there was only one entrance. Somehow, amongst the music and the roaring crowd, Grigory heard the screech of a hawk. He looked up and caught a brief glimpse of hawk before it was swallowed up in a flying see of birds. there was every kind of bird in every shape, size, and shade of the rainbow. Scarlet and green military macaws with their bright feathers mixed with pristine white doves and gray pigeons. Cardinals and Bluejays played with sparrows and hummingbirds.

There was also every kind of hunting bird one could think of. They were easy to make out because they stood because their sheer size. Every kind of owl from the Elf to the Snowy White dived and rose overhead the crowd with kind of eagle and hawk from the American Bald to the Zone-tailed. They reminded of old films clips of dog-fighting planes from World War Two.

Grigory guessed the entrance was coming to end as the music began to swell and slow. Each ring of animals slowed as well and swayed left to right with each word and note.

Prince Artie

Amourus is he

Artie Gallezi

Heard this town was a sight and lovely to see.

And that good people is why-

He got dolled up and dropped by!

Then the man on the steer began to sing so fast as he motioned to each species of animal and the song came to an end with flourish.

With sixty camels

And Llamas galore

With his bears and lions

A brass band and more!

With forty monkeys, his dog and donkeys

And birds that warble on key!

Make way!

For Prince Artie

Everyone in the audience jumped to their feet to cheer and applauded, even Natasha. Grigory clapped along with them. They deserved it. No offense to Yuri, but these two were leagues ahead of him. He wouldn't deny that it took talent and handwork to tame lions and perform, but it could be taught and learned. How exactly two people tamed and taught so many different animals, some the natural predators to others, to perform without no cues or commands. It was almost like an actual dance routine with people knowing exactly what do and how.

"Where did these come from?" Grigory asked Natasha once the applause. "Las Vegas?"

"Ne znayu" She shrugged. "I heard Papa mention that your dad hired two new people. He didn't say much. Just that they were young and sounded like Americans."

"Who else is so pokaznoy?" Grigory raised an eyebrow.

"Frantsuzskiy?" She offered. "Maybe it wasn't pokaznoy enough for their cirque du soleil?"

"I hope you enjoyed that!" the man hopped down from the steer. "My name is Jacob and a son of Apollo, the god music and half the twin archers of Olympus!"

The crowd roared and cheered.

"And this is . . ." Jacob motioned to the elephant.

The elephant bent down slightly and stuck out its trunk. Like he had done a hundred times that day, the man on elephant slid down the trunk to the ground. He then carefully picked up the trunk and gently patted it like he was thanking the animal.

"Prince Artie!" he said. "The one and only son of the Artemis, the goddess of the hunt and moon and the other half of twin archers of Olympus!" He motioned to animals around him. "How about a round of applause for my friends here?"

While Grigory had never been to the Big Apple himself, he had seen enough films to spot the famous Brooklyn accent. These two might have not passed for born and bred New Yorkers, there little things like they way pronounced certain words that reminded him that time he saw Goodfellas. They way they pronounced "the" for example came out like "Da" and "that" sounded like "dat"

"Let's go say hello." Natasha said. "After the show."

"Pochemu net?" Grigory smiled. "Maybe they know how to play poker."

(Later that night)

Grigory went looking for Artie and Jacob.

Instead of tents which is what old circuses use to use for living space, everyone had their own trailer. Some were bigger and newer than others, but those were occupied by large groups or families like Natasha's. He checked the trailer at the end of line, where the newer additions or temporary acts stayed, but found it empty. Grigory wasn't sure where they could be. Other than himself and Natasha, there weren't other their age to hang around with. There was the chance they had went into town, but that was only if his father didn't have booked for both a day and night performance like he always did with new acts. They wouldn't risk not getting enough sleep for tomorrow unless they were seriously irresponsible.

Grigory tightened his coat and shivered. He had forgotten how cold Moscow got in the winter. With everyone probably in thier trailers for the night, Grigory began the walk back to his. As he neared, he thought he heard two voices arguing. It wasn't until the trailer came into view that he saw he was right. Sergei the lion tamer was arguing with his father.

Sergei Kravinoff was giant of a man at just over two meters tall and built like a mountain. Anyone would guess he was the strongman of circus since his biceps were thicker than most people's thighs, but he wasn't. Grigory wouldn't be surprised if his lions obeyed him simply because they thought he might eat them he was so big. It was that or they were scared of becoming part of his wardrobe like the lion pelt robe that still had the mane attached to it.

"What were you thinking giving my spot to those molokosos?" demanded Sergei.

"You missed two shows last week in Minsk." Ivan reminded him. "And two more in Warsaw the weeks before that. You can't pick and choose when to show up. I'm running a business not a charity!"

"Where have you seen a circus without lions?" Sergei growled. "You need lions and tamer!"

"You're right." Ivan motioned to the tent. "And with those two molokosos, I have lions, tigers, bears, wolves, monkeys, birds, and any other animal I can imagine. If you had even bothered to watch their act tonight, you would agree they can do things people have never seen before. The crowd couldn't get enough of them."

"Khvatit etogo der'ma!" Sergei snapped. "Either give back my spot or my lions and I are leaving."

"You can leave." Ivan folded his arms. "But those lions are mine. I paid for them and paying for their keep."

"Those skot are mine!"

"If I had seen you actually feed them or clean out their cage, I'd agree with you." Ivan said firmly. "You're lucky this is not America where they take animal neglect very seriously."

"Ty pozhaleyesh' ob etom!" Sergei growled before storming off and Ivan went back inside.

Grigory did his best to look like he hadn't heard a word and had just arrived, but either Sergei knew better or he wanted to take his anger out on something because he shoved Grigory aside hard into the nearby trailer.

"Peremeshcheniye, polukrovka!" Sergei growled.

"Zhopa." Grigory muttered while he rubbed where his head had hit the trailer. "Poshyel k chyertu."

"I'm just gonna assume that wasn't exactly PG." said a voice. "Not that he didn't deserve it mind you."

"Mozhno skazat', chto snova." Grigory turned and froze.

It wasn't the fact that Artie had appeared seemingly out thin air that shocked him, it was the half dozen little white foxes at his feet and hawk with red tailed feathers on his shoulder. Other than that, he seemed like a normal sixteen year old if you ignored the snow white cloak draped around his shoulders. Under the cloak he was wearing normal clothes, a zipped up dark brown leather jacket and gloves with thick winter boots and black jeans. Now that he was face to face with him, Grigory saw he wore tinted glasses despite it being dark out and had scar running down his left eye. He also seemed to have streaked his hair silver before tying back into a ponytail.

Next to Artie was Jacob. He didn't wear a cloak, but it was still strange. He wore a long tanned brown coat that reminded Grigory of the coats cowboys used to wear. His gloves also struck Grigory as strange. They looked like they were made of gold, but they couldn't be. No one would ever wear gloves made of solid gold. Not only were they not practical, one might as well begged to be robbed. Other than that, Jacob more or less wore the same clothes as Artie under his coat only different colors and styles. Like Artie, Jacob also had a scar and long hair, but his scar was over his right eye and his hair hung loose with no streaks and was chestnut brown not black.

"Hey, it's nice to meet you." Jacob held out a hand. "We're the new act."

"I know." Grigory shook his hand. "I was in the crowd."

"Oh, you speak English." Artie looked surprised when he held out his hand.

"Da! I am Grigory Wiess. My father is the ringleader." Grigory nodded as he explained. "This circus moves a lot. Sometimes to where tourists from America like to visit."

"Small world." Artie smiled. "I learned Spanish the same way."

"Spainsh?"

"Sort of." Artie shrugged. "When you're running around South America, it's kinda hard not to."

"You are Prince Artie, no?" Grigory asked.

"Just Artie." Artie said.

"Not to these guys." Jacob chuckled. "They're in the presence of royalty."

"Excuse me?"

"Nothing." Artie nudged Jacob. "He likes to joke."

"Are these lisy your pets?" Grigory motioned to the foxes and their kits playing at Artie's feet.

"No." Artie knelt and picked one up. "Found them digging through the trash for rats."

"Rats?"

"It's what they eat." Artie held one out. "Wanna hold one?"

"Won't they not like that?" Grigory motioned to bigger foxes eying him curiously. "Animals are protective about their children, no?"

"It'll be fine." Artie assured. "As long as you don't make it look like you'll hurt him."

Grigory took the kit from Artie and held him close. He had to admit it looked really cute the way it looked up at him like a curious puppy. It began nuzzling him and licked his chin. He tried not to drop it as it kept licking and tickled his neck and chin.

"I think he likes me." Grigory smiled.

"He's not the only one." Jacob noticed.

At his word, the other kits except for the parents swarmed Grigory for thier turn to play with this new friend. They barked and yipped playfully as they jumped up and around Grigory. He was surprised and carefully made sure not to step on them.

"Hey," Grigory laughed. "byt' ostorozhnym."

"You'd make one heck of babysitter." Artie smiled.

"Maybe Mr and Mrs Fox here can finally have a night off." Jacob joked.

"Ya mogu dat' bol'she odnoy nochi." said a menacing voice.

"Nu vot!" Grigory turned before something large slammed into his stomach and he felt himself lift off the ground.

The next he knew, he was flying. Then he landed hard on his back. Whatever had hit him had knocked the air out of him and he was vaguely aware that he was still holding the kit in arms. He tried to sit up and he saw all of the foxes running up to him and away from Sergei who was shirtless and hefting a baseball bat.

"I was hoping the monster was you." growled Artie, making a silver bow appear out of nowhere and drew an arrow from under his cloak. "Those lions were starving."

"Not to mention sick." Jacob added now hefting what looked like golden boomerangs. "Do you have any idea how hard it is treat a ticked off lion?!"

"I had thought I smelled half blood." Sergei hefted the bat. "But it's not you two. Your scent is too strong." Sergei looked over at Grigory. "Now I see it was Ivan's whelp. I'll take my time with him after I'm done with you."

Then suddenly Sergei began to grow taller and thicker. In a matter of second Sergei was over two and half meters tall, His bare arms rippled with muscle and were as thick as telephone poles. His pants below his knees had ripped along with his shoes to reveal legs as thick as his arms. His teeth were yellow and pointed now and his bat had become a huge iron club.

"Chto proiskhodit . . ." Grigory whispered to himself.

That was when he felt something nudge him. He jumped and saw it one of foxes from a moment ago. Grigory guessed the others had run off while this one stayed behind.

It had a book in it's mouth and dropped it in Grigory's lap before he ran off too. It was held close by a bronze clasp like diaries often had. The book was wrapped in leather and design carved into that was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Staring back at him was a face. It had both eyes and noes, but no mouth or hair. There were also ridges carved into the leather that looked like vines and they were doing thier best to swallow up the face.

"What is this . . ." He called after it.

Suddenly there was a loud boom and Grigory turned to see Artie roll to the side as Sergei's club collided with the wall of the trailer. Jacob threw his boomerangs, but they only managed nick Sergei's shoulder which just made him mad. Artie nocked and fired two arrows in the blink on eye, but they just bounced off when Sergei brought up his club.

Grigory wanted to help, but how? He didn't have any kind of weapon. Artie had a bow and Jacob had his boomerangs. Even though it was simple, Sergei at least had a club. He knew in America there was a saying about throwing the book at someone, but he sure it didn't apply to when your former lion tamer turned into a giant and tried flatten you with an iron club the size of tree trunk.

Then he felt something shaking in his hands. Grigory looked down and saw it was the book. He instinctively let it go and flopped open in his lap. The writing was in a language he had never seen before, but it felt oddly familiar. Before he could figure out why, a word began to glow faintly on the page. He held it up and looked at the writing. Somehow a word popped into his head.

"Ere . . . bus . . ." Grigory then said. "Erebus!"

Suddenly Grigory heard a gust of wind and a thick cloud of dark fog began to fill the space around Sergei, Artie, and Jacob. Not to waste an opportunity, Artie drew a flash arrow and fired straight into Sergei's face. He howled as the arrow exploded with blindingly flash and a deafening boom. Then Artie and Jacob disappeared into the fog.

"You'll pay for that!" Sergei snarled as rubbed his eyes.

"You'll have to us first!" Artie snapped.

"Where are you?!" Sergei looked around and shouted. "Come out and face me!"

"What's the matter, Sergei?" Jacob said. "Scared of the dark?"

"Shut up!" Sergei smashed his club into the ground.

"Use the force!" Artie chimed in.

"I said shut up!" He said and his club collided with the trailer again. "There is no such thing!"

"I find your lack of faith disturbing." Artie said in his best Darth Vader impression.

Grigory wasn't sure why they weren't attacking. All they were doing was making him mad. That was when Sergei saw Grigory sitting with book in his lap and he put two and two together.

"Boreíte lígo sápio eterothaleís." He snarled and turned towards him. "No wonder your scent is so weak."

"What are you talking about?" Grigory gulped and backed up against another trailer. "I have no idea what is happening!"

"Don't play dumb with me, half blood." Sergei growled. "You're one of Hecate's brood!"

"Who?"

Sergei seemed to have gotten bored with words and charged raising his club overhead with a load roar.

Instead of running, Grigory began flipping through pages of the book as fast as he could. He wasn't sure how or why, but he knew he had made the fog appear and book was the key. Maybe there was something else in there that could save him or stop Sergei. But second after precious second, he found nothing and Sergei was getting close. Then he found it, a single word glowing in the middle of the page.

"Aegis!" He shouted

He wasn't sure what he expected. A brick wall between Sergei and him or giant dragon to protect him, but not a floating bronze metal circle. It was large, but if it wasn't floating it would barely reach Sergei's waist. What Grigory didn't see was the other side of the shield. Later he would learn that Aegis was the sheild used by Athena and Zeus and it had the image of Medusa imprinted on it. He would also learn that the original shield gave off a terrible, fearful aura that forced anyone and anything looking at it away from the shield.

To Grigory, Sergei had merely skidded to a stop on his own.

"D-d-do y-you t-think that g-g-goin to s-stop me?" Sergei said trying to hide the fear in voice. "Y-y-you'll h-have t-to do b-better than t-that!"

"Really?" Grigory caught on and stood up. "Like what?"

He took a step and shield followed his every step, always keeping the same distance in front him.

"Get that away from me!" Sergei snapped.

"What is wrong, Sergei?" Grigory asked. "I thought you were going to take your time with me?"

"I was. I mean, I will!" Sergei hefted his club as he backed up. "But I will change my mind if you put that away!"

"And if I do not?" Grigory asked smugly

"Get it away!" Sergei snapped and swung his club.

To both their surprise, Sergei's club went through the shield like it wasn't even there and faded away. Too late, Grigory realized that whatever the book did it could only create illusions and not anything solid.

"What do mortal say about magic?" Sergei smiled wickedly. "It's all smoke and mirrors."

"You know what else they say?" shouted a voice.

"Huh?" Sergei turned.

Suddenly a barrage of arrows shot out from the fog. It was so sudden and powerful, Grigory didn't even see what had happened until Sergei collapsed onto the ground and he saw the entire front of his body was a pincushion. Then Sergei's body disintegrated into a golden powder and was swept way by a stray breeze.

"That closer you look, the less you see." Artie said as he and Jacob emerged from the fog.

"Nice work." Jacob clapped Grigory on the shoulder. "Not many first timers could hold thier own against a giant."

"Especially with only a book." Artie nodded.

"What is going on?" Grigory demanded and held up the book. "What is this? How did Sergei turn into a giant? And who are you two?"

"That's a spell book." Artie said calmly. "Most gods give their kids weapons like sword and spears, but you're a son of Hecate."

"She's the goddess of the Mist and magic." Jacob continued. "Makes sense you'd be able to manipulate the Mist like that and make an image of Aegis appear."

"Ti sto ónoma tou theoú miláme?!" Grigory snapped. "Eísai trelós?"

"I promise we'll explain everything." Artie said gently. "But first let's get out the cold and find your father."

"What dose my father have to do with this?" Grigory asked.

"He'll have some of the answers you'll want." Jacob told him.

"Like how he met your mother." Artie explained. "And who she really was."

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