Artie aimed an arrow and licked his lips as he waited for the deer to start grazing at the base of a tree.
"Sorry about this." He whispered while drawing the bowstring back. "But we all gotta eat."
Then against all odds, someone, someone who Artie knew, snapped a every branch on a bush behind Artie. Naturally, the deer disappeared deeper into the forest in the blink of an eye. Artie snarled and wheeled around and fired his arrow at a potential enemy.
It landed with a thud in a tree trunk just as Jacob stepped out from behind it. Naturally, he jumped back and fell.
"Dude!," Jacob protested. "I literally just went!"
"I had it!" Artie snapped and he threw down his bow which he followed with his quiver. "Why don't you just carry a boombox?!" He threw off his pack and unzipped his jacket. "I know hunting is my thing, but how hard is it to keep quiet?!"
"Yeah, 'cause that's exactly what you're doing now." Jacob asked. "Uh, what are you doing?"
"I'm going to run him down." Artie tightened the strap on his thigh where he kept a Vietnam war inspired hunting knife, like Sylvester Stallone in First Blood. "And I can't do that with a longbow or something snagging a branch."
"But — "
Artie was already gone.
It didn't matter how big of a head start the deer had, Jacob knew his brother had been gifted with the speed of the Ceryneian Hind. It was also known as the Golden Hind was the sacred animal of Artie's mother, The Greek Goddess of Hunting and Moon Artemis, and was so fast it could out run an arrow mid flight.
Jacob, on the other hand, was a child of Apollo. That meant he was more likely to be better at composing music and poetry than most since that was his was the god of. It also meant that he was deadly with a bow as well or any ranged weapon really. Of course that went for Artie as well to some extent since Artemis and Apollo were the Twin Archers of Olympus.
Jacob sighed as he bent down to scoop Artie's stuff. He rolled up Artie's jacket and threw his quiver over his pack. They had been traveling for days ever since they had left Moscow almost a week ago. He knew they would have taken longer if they had deal with customs answering questions like what were two American teenagers doing by traveling through the heart of Ukraine like they were trying to break the sound barrier? Still, an entire week on a motorcycle only stopping at the occasional rest stop and to sleep was far from pleasant. Especially when Artie refused to eat regular food like a regular person and insisted on camping out in cold instead of hotel which Jacob knew they could afford since Artemis had given Artie a credit card.
He went to pick up Artie's bow which had shrunken down to a simple silver ring, but he couldn't lift it. He frowned and tried again. This time he made sure to put all he had into it, but it refused to move. Then he remembered when Artie had tossed him his Kopis and had the same result. Both Artie's Kopis and bow, even his armor, was made of moonsilver. It was just as deadly as celestial bronze, but with only a fraction of the weight. The drawback was only a maiden, or the male equivalent, could use it. Anyone else would find it too heavy to lift. Someone like Jacob who was quite the ladies man like his father.
That was when Tobias, a red-tailed hawk and Artie's appointed guardian since he was eight, dove out of the air and snatched up Artie's ring.
"Thanks, Tobias." Jacob smiled. "Artie would have killed me if I lost that. Or his mother now that I think about it."
"Uh, you remember that I can't understand you, right?" Jacob tried not look embarrassed.
"I'm gonna take that as a yes." Jacob hefted his pack. "Do you think you can lead me to Artie? He kinda took off after a deer."
Tobias took off and Jacob pushed through branches and bushes. Child of the hunting goddess or not, Jacob didn't know how Artie put up with it. He just couldn't get excited about waiting for hours for some innocent rabbit or deer to walk by that was minding its own business and killing it for food. He understood if there was no other way and it was a matter of life and death, but this wasn't the middle ages anymore. Getting caught in Winter with no supplies wasn't a death sentence especially with heated and insulated homes a quick car ride away from the grocery store.
After what seemed like an hour, Jacob made a mental note to put his foot down and demand that they stay in town whenever possible and only eat wild game if they ran out of food which Jacob would make sure happened as little as possible.
His foot caught on something and he crashed into a clearing.
"Vai te fuder!" He hissed at forest in general as he got up.
"Alright!" barked a voice. "Who wants some?"
Jacob paused at what he saw.
Artie was standing between what looked to be a dead deer and a very large, and angry looking, wolf pack. They were very large, at least to the few Jacob had seen in zoos, with their fur relatively short and coarse looking. They were a tawny color with white on the throat that extended to the cheeks. Most of them formed a rough a semicircle, but a few were limping and growling at Artie as they joined the group. Jacob saw some of the ones limping were bleeding from wounds similar to those that one would receive from a house-cat, a very large house cat.
While not exactly a house cat, though he had been a very large cat twice before, Jacob knew Artie was the culprit since he could extend and retract his fingernails into sharp claws an inch and half long. Artie was also bleeding. Without the gift of thumbs, the wolves opted for strong jaws and teeth designed for gripping and tearing. His shirt was torn and so were his pants. Only his face and feet were unmarked, though his shoes had small pieces missing.
"Who's . . . next?" Artie panted and smiling excitedly as beckoned random wolves forward who stepped back cautiously. "Huh? How . . . about it?" Artie laughed hoarsely. "Who wants some? Who wants to have a little?" Then he turned and pointed to the one wolf in back. "You want some more?"
Jacob waited as the wolves parted to reveal what he guessed was the leader, the alpha he remembered. He was the largest by far and was the only one with jet black fur that made his teeth stand out like a full moon at night. Artie approached, but it didn't back up and held it's ground. It did, however, ready itself to fight and snarled a warning
"Huh?" Artie cupped his ear as if he didn't catch something and continued approaching. "You want a little?" Do ya?"
Apparently Artie had gotten too close for the Alpha's comfort and he pounced. Jacob watched as it sailed through the air and closed the distance between him and Artie. Jacob saw Artie roll his eyes before he cold-cocked the animal. It landed with yelp and a hard thump. Another wolf, a smallish one, snarled, but flinched and backed up when Artie returned it with interest.
"Well?" Artie demanded as the Alpha slowly stood up and eyed Artie none too friendly. "You want some more?"
Jacob wasn't sure, but the Alpha looked away and made a low snappish growl. The second he did, the rest of the wolves seemed to relax. Some trotted up to the dead deer and began dragging it off. The rest ran off to the west.
"That's what I thought." Artie sniffed and turned to see Jacob. "Oh hey."
"Hey?" Jacob walked up to him and began examining like mother with a toddler. "Are you alright?!"
"I'm fine." Artie assured. "Quit fussing!"
"So you can get an infection?!" Jacob told him. "Gods only knows where their filthy mouths have been."
"I think someone heard you." Artie smirked.
Jacob turned to see one of the smaller wolves, almost still a pup, baring his teeth.
"He didn't mean it." Artie told him.
The wolf made an curious yip sound.
"He's with me." Artie said. "Part of my pack."
With that, it sat trotted off until it reached a nearby tree and looked back as if waiting for them to follow.
"Uh, what's he doing?" Jacob asked.
"He's going to lead us to their den." Artie took his stuff from Jacob and waved him to follow. "Come on!"
Jacob joined Artie as they followed the wolf. He had tried to get them to stop so he could bandage some of Artie's wound, but Artie refused at least they reached the wolf den before the sun went down.
"So why exactly what were you trying to do?" Jacob asked.
"By what?" Artie responded. "I was quoting Ash from Army of Darkness."
"Army of Darkness?"
"Yeah. You know the sequel to Evil Dead Two where Ash gets sent back in time and climbs out of a pit after killing a deadite and dares anyone else that wants to fight him to step up."
"I meant taking on an entire wolf pack by yourself." Jacob frowned. "And aren't you the King of the Hunt? Shouldn't every animal in the world be at your beck and call?"
"Yes and no." Artie explained. "It's not like kingdoms with us. There isn't a royal bloodline or anything. It's sort of a Darwin thing. Animals only really understand strength and that's really that it boils down to."
"So you're saying you can be challenged for the crown?"
"No, but that won't stop them from trying if they think I'm not tough enough to be king." Artie point ahead. "His pack ran into me just as I killed the deer. Normally, a few snarls and growls and whatever they run into backs off and they take the kill. I held my ground and told who I was, but the alpha likes being in charge so he throws his best at me. When that didn't work, he either had to admit I had the right to lead or fight me until I gave up or died."
"And what's to stop him from tearing us both into puppy chow the second we get to their den?"
"Me." Artie smiled. "There is no second in command when it comes to wolves. You're either the Alpha or not. Once he lost to me, I gained control of the entire pack. He can whine, moan, and howl all he wants, but they won't obey him."
"You'd better be right." Jacob said. "'Cause being torn apart in the middle of some impossible to pronounce forest in Romania is something I'd really to avoid."
"I thought we were in Transylvania." Artie said. "You know, Dracula's country."
"Transylvania is in Romania." Jacob explained. "Like New York is part of the United States."
"At least according to the map we looked when we made that pit stop at the Ukraine border." Jacob shrugged. "Ukrainian Russian isn't exactly in my skill set."
"We'll check Athena's map when we reach the den."
It turned out the den was nothing more than a cave. To Artie, it was the Ritz of caves. Dry as a bone with no moss or mushrooms to die and stink up the cave with little pedestals to lay on at the perfect level above the ground so nothing slither into your sleeping roll. The ground was perfectly smooth with no rocks so you could walk barefoot without a care and no stalagmites to trip and impale yourself on. Even the roof was free of stalactites which meant no bats and no need to watch out for falling pieces and no annoying dripping to echo throughout the cave and drive you crazy.
Unfortunately, all Jacob saw were reasons why people didn't live like cavemen anymore. He'd kill for a shower in a real bathroom with indoor plumbing. Don't even get him started on what he'd do for a warm bed with fresh sheets with central heating. He was fairly sure why his brother liked to wear only shorts and sandals when he could. After months of washing his clothes in the nearest river without soap or fabric softener, which he understood could and would poison any animal that drank the water downstream, he was so itchy that he was half tempted to do the same if it wasn't for the fact it was still winter.
But neither of them expected for the pack to be so large. There had to be at least fifty full grown wolves milling around. Some seemed to be fighting while others were lounging around. A few of them chewed on bones as two were having a tug of war with one. Most of them were eating from three small piles. Jacob guessed with a group this large, it took a lot of food to feed them properly and he really hoped it was enough and he hadn't made Artemis mad in someway.
"Alright." Artie bent down and scratched the wolf's ear by way of thanks. "We can find our way from here."
The wolf licked Artie's hand and made a dash to one of the piles of meat.
Jacob flinched when he heard a low growl. They both turned to see a very large black wolf with its ears laid back on its head. He made a snapping snarl at Jacob, but he locked eyes with Artie. It was the now former Alpha.
"He's with me." Artie said firmly.
The Alpha snapped its jaws.
"His father is sister to your mistress." Artie told him. "And is the pack brother of your king."
The Alpha barked.
Before Jacob blink, Artie kicked the wolf hard and it landed on his back. Without missing a beat, Artie placed foot on its chest and bent over his knee.
" I am two seconds from being on you like white on rice in a glass of milk on a paper plate in a snowstorm." Artie growled. "Anything happens to him and I will put my foot so far up your $$, the sweat on my knee will quench your thirst."
Artie stood up and walked to the cave without even a glance. "Come on, Jacob."
"Do I even want to know?" Jacob asked.
"That was from Major Payne." Artie said.
"Uh, I meant the whole making him a living boot part."
"Oh." Artie sat down with his back against the wall of the cave. "Basically he was saying you didn't belong and the only reason this pack is so strong is because everyone can take care of themselves." He rolled his shoulders tiredly. "He insinuated that I should 'put you down' for the good of the pack and not drag me down."
"Do animals do that?" Jacob asked. "Just put down their young?"
"To paraphrase The Italian Job." Artie sighed. "If there's one thing I know, it's never to mess with a mother, mother in-laws, and, mother freaking nature."
"So what now?" Jacob took off the packs and sat down.
"We'll camp here for the night." Artie motioned to the wolves. "I'll have them tell us where the nearest town and water source is. If both of them are close, we'll refill our canteens and maybe some fish for breakfast before we head into town to get whatever supplies we might need. I'm starting to think we might some heavy duty stuff for cold temperatures."
"We also need to find a laundromat or something." Jacob held up a hand before Artie suggested the river, again. "We not in Russia, but its still freezing. Northern Romania, which is we're suppose to be, is a straight line across the Atlantic from Northern Maine near the Canadian border. We wash our clothes in the river and let them air dry like we usually do and they're gonna shatter like glass."
"Alright." Artie nodded. "You got a point. Then its probably best we just head to town and find a diner or something."
"Really?" Jacob couldn't believe what he was hearing.
"It's still winter. Fish don't exactly hibernate, but they do and that makes fishing a pain unless you're willing to dive in after them." Artie shivered at the thought. "Since we're not Poseidon's kids, I think we'll have better luck sipping coffee over a stack of pancakes or whatever Romanians have instead of pancakes."
"Speaking of food." Jacob pointed to the wolves. "What are we gonna eat tonight?"
As if on cue, two wolves came up and dropped an entire foreleg of a deer, hide and hoof and all, right in front of Artie. They quickly bowed and trotted off.
"Soup or roast?" Artie smiled.
"We ran out of soup stuff last week and we're down to the last of our water."
"So roast it is." Artie stood up and drew his knife. "Think you can get some firewood while I get this ready?"
"Sure." Jacob stood up. "I'll be right back."
"Here." Artie tossed Jacob something. "You'll need this."
Jacob caught it out instinct and saw it was a small axe, a hatchet. At least he thought it was a hatchet. He turned it over and the air around swirled which he knew was the Mist clearing away. Now it actually looked more like a hand held pickaxe except the blade was vertical instead of horizontal. On the opposite was a little spike. Both were a single piece of celestial bronze fixed to a strong wooden handle wrapped in supple leather. Inscribed on the flat of the blade was a single stalk of wheat. It was the symbol for Demeter, mother of Persephone and the goddess of the harvest.
"I have my boomerangs, remember?" Jacob said.
"Its also an axe." Artie reminded him. "As in what they use to chop firewood."
"I'm supposed to chop down an entire tree with this?" Jacob held up the hatchet. "Even with full size axe I'd be at it for hours."
"Yeah." Artie agreed. "But if you decide to stick to branches from a fallen tree, I suppose those'll work just fine."
"And what are you gonna do?" Jacob asked, ignoring the ribbing.
"Me?" Artie stood up. "Find some good sized rocks and dig a fire pit. Then I'm going to skin and season that deer leg."
An hour later, Jacob was starting to warm up. Both to the appeal of the staying outdoors and literally. It was mostly due to how just plain adorable wolf pups were. They had taken a liking to Artie. They took turns in his lap pining whenever he stopped scratching behind their ears and bellies. Some were simply laid down by the fire enjoying the warm while other looked up at roasting deer leg with big puppy dog eyes and licked their chops. The pups weren't the only ones that were happy the caves had guests.
Jacob had lost track how many females had licked Artie's face and leaned against him. Some liked to teased hm by tapping him on the shoulder and quickly dashing to the other side or gently nipping his hand and pretending it wasn't them. It turned out, as Artie explained, these were the teenagers of the pack while the one who greeted Artie and took their place next to Jacob were the older females and their mothers. Jacob had to laugh. Usually, it was the other way around and he'd be in Artie's place. The males were less touchy, but did bow and lick Artie's hand rather than his face.
The only one not happy was the Alpha whom actually had a name, but Artie said Alpha was the closest translation. He laid on a small platform that allowed him to over look the entrance and the clearing around the cave.
"So how much longer?" Jacob asked.
"Not much longer." Artie poked the leg.
"I meant how much longer do we have to keep doing this?" Jacob waved a hand. "This whole searching for secret demigods thing."
"No idea." Artie pulled out the map and held it up. "We could be on the last one here or we might not even be halfway through for all I know."
"Who are we looking for again?" Jacob asked to distract himself from the thought of traveling more than they already had. "Or did we just get an address this time?"
"I'll check." Artie took something out of his belt. "In the meantime, here!"
Jacob caught something bright gold as it sailed over the fire and the roasting deer leg. He saw it was golden pocket watch. It looked like a sun with bright curved golden triangles for rays with the center being a slighter darker shade that was almost orange than yellow. At the top, nestled between two rays was a knob to wind it. Instinctively, he twisted the know and pushed it into the watch. It began to grow and change shape. A long bar sprang from it forming a neck of a guitar complete with strings and machines heads to tune it. The face of watch grew into the body with the rays of the suns melting together to form a wavy design. In less than a second Artie's pocket watch turned into an electric guitar complete with knobs and a whammy bar.
"Birthday gift from your dad." Artie explained.
"For you or me?" Jacob asked as he, and the wolves examined the guitar.
"For me at first." Artie shrugged. "But I think he gave it to me to give to you. You know how he is."
"That's true." Jacob plucked a string and found it was perfectly tuned. "Any requests?"
"Got anything new up your sleeve?" Artie asked.
"Well, I know you have thing for Tom Cruise movies." Jacob smiled slyly.
"He makes good movies." Artie shrugged. "Sue me."
Jacob strummed for a minute as he hummed a melody. He changed it a few times until he found one he liked. Then he adjusted the knobs on the guitar as if he knew exactly how they would effect the sound. He finally began to play and it sounded like a plain acoustic guitar. As if the guitar knew it was a child of Apollo that was doing the playing for once, it added the perfect bass melody and a soft drum set in the background. With a single guitar, albeit a magic one, Jacob had a full band when he began to sing.
Tom Cruise is so in love with Katie
At least all his people tell him so
And while he thinks that she's a very special lady
It's probably not the way he'd choose to go
But a lifetime of longing looks would cause too much distraction
Good thing that he's not gay anymore
Artie watched as the wolves began to sway left to right in perfect synch with the music. Some even howled quietly and matched the melody and rhythm perfectly. Even the Alpha seemed to enjoy it, though the only clue was his tail wagging to the beat.
Tom Cruise is Tom Cruise crazy
Just be glad it's him not you
If you had Tom Cruise's troubles
You might be Tom Cruise crazy too
You'd flash your big white shiny smile
You'd buy expensive shoes
But you'd be the only man on Earth
Who couldn't enjoy Tom Cruise
Oh no, you couldn't enjoy Tom Cruise
As Jacob continued, Artie rolled out the magic map Athena had given him the night of the Winter Solstice when Percy, Thalia, Zoe, Jacob, and him had rescued Annabeth and Artemis. So far, it had him and Jacob running all over Europe. It was so random that he wouldn't be surprised if they ended up in Tokyo at some point which he wouldn't mind if he could find some Godzilla souvenirs.
"Where are we?" Artie asked the map.
Instantly little black dots appearing and trailed around to form shapes and words. After a minute, Artie was holding a map. It took a minute to decipher. After finding Grigory in Moscow, the map said the next demigod they were suppose to find was somewhere in Romania which he knew they had crossed into from Ukraine the night before last. If he had read, and translated, the map correctly then he and Jacob were somewhere in the northwest section of a place called the Hoia Forest which sat west of a town called Cluj-Napoca. It was hard to miss the golden blinking 'X'.
Tom Cruise is always getting older
He knows he'll never be that young again
And when Tom Cruise looks back over his shoulder
He sees a thousand younger leading men
He knows someday he'll have to play
An old retarded grandpa
While someone younger plays his sexy son
"Okay." Artie nodded. "Now where am going to be?"
The 'X' stayed where it was and three little dashes appeared leading east before a blinking stalk of wheat. Artie wasn't sure what he was looking at. The wheat symbol was easy. It meant the demigod was a child of Demeter, goddess of agriculture. It was the lack of a name or address. Normally, he got one or the other. Not mention that, according to the map, the demigod was less than three miles east where they were now.
"What the?" Artie frowned. "Hey, Jacob!"
Somewhere in some secluded castle
Poor Tom Cruise sits staring at the wall
And the outside world is always such a hassle
Sometimes he won't go out at all
There are millions who know his name
Everybody loves him
Why is it that he feels so alone?
"JACOB!" Artie shouted over the music.
Tom Cruise is Tom Cruise crazy —
"What?" Jacob stopped mid word. "Is the leg done?"
"No." Artie held up the map. "What do you see?"
"Uh?" Jacob leaned forward. "The 'X' is us right? Like, where we are right now?"
"Yes." Artie pointed to the wheat stalk. "And this is the next halfblood we're suppose to find."
"But that means . . .
"He's less than an hour away." Artie said firmly as he stood and tightened his belt.
"But what's he doing in a forest in northern Romania?" Jacob stood and slipped on his celestial bronze gauntlets.
"Remember when we asked directions at that pit stop a couple of days ago?" Artie left walked to where their bags were and began digging through them. "He said to avoid the Hoia Forest because of all the paranormal phenomena that goes on."
"So it's like the Bermuda Triangle and the Sea of Monsters. Mortals know something's up, but not exactly what." Jacob paused. "What are you looking for?"
"I have a weapon for him." Artie continued digging. "It had the mark of Demeter. I used it to dig the fire pit less than hour ago."
"Hold on." Jacob held up the hatchet. "What about this? It's got the mark of Demeter."
"Found it!" Artie cried. "What did you say?"
"This!" Jacob turned the hatchet and the Mist swirled away so it turned into celestial bronze hatchet that looked like pickaxe. "You gave it to me to chop firewood. It has the mark of Demeter."
"So does this." Artie held it up. "See?"
It looked like a simple handheld garden hoe. The handle was solid piece of wood about foot long with a thin steel head for weeding and digging small trenches. Like the hatchet, the Mist swirled around to reveal its true form. The handle shortened and formed a hilt while a celestial bronze blade formed the rest and curved down towards the ground. It was a single edged weapon with the edge on the inside of the curve rather than on the outside.
"What is that?" Jacob asked.
"I've seen the Demeter kids use them at camp." Artie turned to examine it. "It's called a sickle. Annabeth said every civilization had their own version and this is the Greek one. Its supposed to be use for harvest crops."
"So which one is his?
"We'll take both and figure it out from there."
Alright. So he's west right?"
"Yep, but I'm going to send a scouting party ahead." Artie whistled at the wolves. "I need some trackers!"
Seven wolves sprinted to Artie's feet. Artie told them to head west and be on the lookout for people. If they found one the that smelled like them, like halfbloods, they were to follow and stay out sight until Artie and Jacob got there. They all yipped thier understanding and bounded off into the forest in different directions, but heading west.
"No bow?" Jacob asked as he and Artie jogged west. At least he thought it was west. He always let Artie take care of things like that. "Or is Tobias bringing it?"
"I don't want to risk hitting him or you." Artie explained. "There's too many trees. Last thing we need is him coming out from behind one and catching a face full of arrow."
They headed west for about an hour, or it felt like it. Jacob sat against a tree as Artie stopped and looked for signs. He sniffed the air and noticed the faint scent of wheat baking in the sun. He smiled to himself. Only a child a Demeter had that kind of scent. Jacob tried not to looked impressed as Artie knelt by the base of tree hardly five feet away and reached under it to pull a rabbit by the ears. Artie calmed it down and asked a few questions. Jacob guessed it must have not seen anything since Artie frowned when he set it down and it scampered back down it's hole.
"Anything?" Jacob asked.
"Not — "
Artie was interrupted by a wolf crashing through a bush. Its sides were heaving and its tongue hung to the side as it panted. Artie knelt and gave it a swig of water from his canteen and talked with it.
"Thanks. Now go back home. We'll handle it from here." Artie stood up. "Come on! They're only a few minutes from here and some hellhounds are on their trail."
"They're?" Jacob repeated. "As in more than one?"
"As in twins." Artie said. "Explains why we have two weapons with the mark of Demeter."
Together they took off as fast as they could. Well, as fast as Jacob could go. He knew Artie could have reached the twins in seconds, but he held back. Artie wouldn't risk separating on the off chance Jacob ran into a hellhound the size of Mt. Everest while he dealt with the puppies.
They reached the twins just in time.
Artie and Jacob took in the entire scene in the blink of an eye. They were in a circular clearing alongside a small stream. Four hellhounds, massive dog-like monsters from the Underworld, the size of pick-up trucks were slowly advancing on two boys who were yelling and waving torches frantically in an attempt to scare off the monsters. Behind them, and cutting off their escape, was large fire that had probably alerted the hellhounds to their location along with their scent.
The twins were completely identical. They both had Demeter's earth black hair and wheat brown eyes. The rest of them were probably on their father's side. The only way to tell them apart were their clothes, which were also identical, but in different colors. They were both wearing dark brown pants and black boots, but one were an Autumn orange sweatshirt over an emerald green shirt while the other had the colors reversed.
"Du-te înapoi! " one shouted as he waved a stick like a bat
"Pleacă!" cried the other
As if they had planned it, Artie charged while he drew his moonsilver Kopis and Jacob aimed his boomerangs at the feet of the hellhounds. The hellhounds sensed something and turned just in time fore Artie to slide low and dragged hid blade under one their throats. The remaining monster saw their comrade crumple into gold dust just long enough for Jacob's boomerangs to cut the legs out from under them. It didn't sever their legs, but it did make it painful and time consuming for them to get back.
"Ce?" said one of the brother.
"Mai mult ca cine." said the other.
"Here!" Artie held out the sickle. "Take this!"
"Uh, mulțumesc?" said the one wearing the green shirt. "Cine ești tu?"
"Hey!" Jacob jogged up and held out the hatchet to the other brother. "This is yours."
"În cele din urmă ceva noroc!" He smiled as he took the hatchet.
"Either of you speak English?" Artie asked quickly.
Neither of them answered. Instead, they each rushed to the hellhounds that had just made it to their feet and just started wailing on them. Each of their hellhounds had barely become dust before they both charged and began hacking and slashing like maniacs. One the final was dealt with they both turned to Artie and Jacob.
"Boy!" Artie let out a breath of air he didn't he had been holding and quoted Anchorman. "That escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand fast."
"Cine sunteți doi?" asked one with the sickle
"Și ce au fost acele lucruri?" asked the other with the hatchet. "Există mai multe dintre ele?"
"Uh?" Jacob turned to Artie. "You wanna take this?"
"Do you speak English?" Artie asked slowly. "English?"
"Very little." answered the brother with the hatchet.
"Yes." The brother repeated. "Very little."
"Okay." Jacob asked slowly. "What. Are. Your. Names?"
"I am Vladmire Dumitra." He held up the sickle. "Is this a seceră?"
"If that means sickle then yes." Artie held out a hand and Vladmire shook it. "I am Artie Gallezi."
"And I am Jacob Gallezi." Jacob held out hand to Vladmire's brother with the hatchet.
"I am Basil Dumitra." Basil shook Jacob's hand. "Vladmire's frate."
"Where do you guys live?" Jacob asked. "You guys don't like you were camping out for the fun."
"Huh?" Basil asked.
"Where is your home?" Artie said slowly. "Your house and family?"
"We live in Cluj-Napoca." Vladmire answered. "With taică."
"Can you take us there?" Jacob asked. "To your home?"
"We not go home." Basil said. "Too periculos for taică."
"If this taicăis your father, then we need to talk to him." Jacob said. "All of this is happening because of your mother."
"Mama noastră?" Basil looked to Vladmire.
"We not see her." Vladmire said confused. "She left Basil and me. We babies."
"She sent us." Artie motioned to himself and Jacob.
"And she sent those." Jacob pointed to the Dumitra twins' weapons. "To protect yourselves."
"See?" Artie pointed to the wheat stalks on the sickle and hatchet. "This is her symbol."
"You meet our mother?" Vladmire asked.
"Yes." Artie nodded. "Her name is Demeter and she is the Greek goddess of agriculture."
"Huh?" the twins said together.
"I think we're going to have to break out the charades." Jacob sighed. "I just hope they're better at it than Antonin was."