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The Walls Of Sparta

By Artie Gallezi

Adventure

Valenti

"Buongiorno!" A waiter inclined his head and beamed at the two boys sitting at roadside cafe table. He guessed they were tourists of some sort. American probably. "Cosa posso servirti?"

"Due caffè?" answered one of the boys.

The one with silvery white highlights in his long hair had strange accent and seemed to from Spain. He sounded unsure and the waiter welcomed the attempt.

"Due caffè." The waiter nodded and smiled politely. "È tutto?"

"Un paio di cannoli, per favore." The same boy returned the smile.

The waiter nodded and went back inside the cafe.

Once the waiter left, the boy without the silver highlight spoke in English, "Since when can you — "

"Español!" said the other in Spanish, cutting him off. "Or Portuguese. Anything, but English. The last thing we need is being treated like a pair dumb Americans, Jacob. Remember that restaurant in Marseille?"

"Si." Jacob nodded and switched to Spanish. "But the Artie I know can't speak Italian."

"I can't." Artie admitted. "Not fluently. It's close enough to Spanish that I can get the general picture if someone speaks slowly, but I'm outta luck in actual Italy and gods help me with Sicilian."

"Still that was pretty good." Jacob shrugged. "Better than me anyway."

"In my defense, I didn't learn Spanish by taking a class." Artie paused as the waiter returned with two coffees and a large cream filled cannoli for each of them. "Grazie!" He continued once the waiter left and he poured milk and sugar in his coffee. "When Thorn chased me northwest into Argentina and I spent a month in the first town I saw. I could understand bits and pieces at first, but like anyone else, it all started to make sense and I learned." Artie sipped his coffee. "Same thing when I learned English. A few words and phrases at first then I was speaking Shakespeare."

"But we've only been here a couple of days." Jacob sipped his coffee and closed his eyes. "My gods! That is good coffee."

"Try the cannoli." Artie smiled. "First word i ever learned in Italian."

"Really?" Jacob said through a bite of the pastry. "First word?"

"Yep!" Artie finished his cannoli and pointed a finger at Jacob like a gun. "I also learned to leave the gun too."

"Well, Don Corleone, where do we start?" Jacob asked. "Palermo is a big city."

"Remember London?"

"Check the phone book?" Jacob frowned. "I thought that was a one time thing. Athena's kid and all."

"That was my guess." Artie shook his head. "Now I'm thinking some of the gods hid their kids away and she had hard time finding exact addresses for all of them." He shrugged. "Plus she couldn't account for them moving around. Tor was actually from Denmark, but we found him in Amsterdam."

"It explains why the map randomly gives a us a name instead of an address." Jacob nodded. "We aren't exactly in their territory. I just hope we don't run into a case like you."

"Like me?"

"You know, a half blood moving from place to place."

"I could do with a bit of hunting." Artie smiled. "As long as we stay on this side of the Mediterranean."

"Why?"

"Just something Chiron said." Artie paused to remember. "I just saw The Italian Job and I mentioned how I wanted to see cities like Rome and Venice." Artie frowned into his coffee. "He said the heart of Roman empire is very dangerous for Greeks."

"But we aren't Greek." Jacob protested. "We're Brazilian."

"I wished now I'd ask him to explain." Artie swirled the remnants of coffee in his cup. "I have a feeling it's gonna come back to bite us in the butt and knowing our luck it'll just happen to be venomous to boot."

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it." Jacob insisted. "For now, let's find a phone book and . . ."

"And?" Artie looked up to see why his brother had trailed off. "And what?"

"And now you're gonna really wish you asked Chiron." Jacob motioned to his right. "Across the street . . . at the fruit stall . . . no one seems to reacting to it."

Artie instantly got Jacob's tone, he'd seen it plenty of time in movies. It was the "don't look, but we aren't alone" look. Carefully, he turned as casually as he could to where Jacob had said. There was fruit stand and a squat mustached vendor shouting in Sicilian to the passerby to buy, but there was something else. While vendor was wearing glasses, only the fact that Artie and Jacob were dealing with a monster would explain how the vendor and anyone in eye shot didn't run screaming.

To Artie's eye, it seemed to be some sort large buffalo in a severe need of a haircut. At least that was Artie guessed. They each had such a shaggy mane of mud brown hair, he couldn't even make the general shape of thier heads. He saw a flash of teeth as it nibbled at something growing between the cracks of the sidewalk. Artie carefully sniffed the air and silently berated himself for dropping his guard.

"Well?" Jacob whispered as he reached for his boomerangs. "What is it?"

"Wait!" Artie hissed. "It's not alone."

As if to punctuate his words, another creature shuffled from around the corner across the street.

"Two." Jacob nodded. "We can take 'em."

"I'm not sure we have to." Artie motioned for him to lower his weapon. "I've never seen these things, but they don't look dangerous."

"Don't look dangerous?" Jacob snapped. "I've seen mack trucks smaller than them!"

"So are elephants, but they aren't dangerous until you make them mad." Artie said quietly. "Look at them. They look like they're plant eaters."

"Appearances can be deceiving."

"I know." Artie stood up carefully and left some euros on the table. "Come on."

"Where are we going?"

"To see if Iris has long distance messaging." Artie smiled.

Careful to be on the lookout for more surprises, they quickly returned to a small and cheap motel, which was surprisingly difficult to find considering Palermo's popularity as a tourist getaway. Everything was as they had left it. Artie's armor and cloak sat neatly in the corner next to his quiver while their bags were left open on the single bed. The room wasn't much, but it had bed with clean sheets and the bathroom was spotless.

"Is there a window in the bathroom?" Artie threw on his quiver. He always wore his moonsilver kopis, but he wasn't too good with it. Jacob often teased that it was miracle of the gods that Artie knew which end to use. "I think the sun's in the right spot."

"Yeah," Jacob called from the bathroom. "Open it?"

"Please." Artie rummaged through the dozens of pouch on his belt and came up with two golden drachmas. "Hmm, you got any drachma?"

"I got ten." Jacob said. "It's all I brought."

"I think we might need one more." Artie walked into the bathroom and pulled back shower curtain. "You mind?"

"Here." Jacob fished a golden coin and tossed to Artie. "You sure it's safe to use an Iris message? We are supposed to incognito."

"Which is why we can't tell Chiron where we are." Artie turned the water on and adjusted so the head sprayed a fine mist. "He's not going to like it, but we might have to ask him to swear on the Styx not to tell anyone he spoke with us."

"Chiron?" Jacob asked. "Why not Annabeth?"

"She was captured." Artie frowned. "We know she held up the sky, but we have no idea if they did something to her."

"Like what?"

"I don't know. A spell so they can see and hear everything she does." Artie shrugged. "You never know with him. They don't call him the crooked one for nothing. Plus, she might be with Percy when we make the call. He means well, but the less anyone knows the better."

"Heck, she might even be with a spy and not know it." Jacob nodded. "If I was bent on destroying camp, I'd like to have a few spies there feeding info and the news that the son of Artemis is alive and probably on a secret mission would be priceless."

"Good. The rainbow is perfect." Artie threw in the three drachmas. "O, Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow, accept my offering. Show us Chiron at Camp Half Blood on Long Island, New York, United States of America."

The mist began to swirl.

While they waited, Jacob asked. "Did you really need to say Long Island and all that? There can't be more than one."

"Better safe than sorry." Artie shrugged. "We don't exactly have the drachma to play around."

Suddenly the mist cleared and Jacob and Artie were staring at a relaxed Chiron reading book by a roaring fire. They both saw Chiron was compacted in his magic wheelchair. He still looked like middle-aged teacher with bushy brown eyebrows and hair, but he had let his beard grow a bit thicker.

"Nice to see somethings never change." Artie smiled dropped a bit when he saw the title of the book, which was translated into Greek. "Although Sun Tzu is never good sign."

To say Chiron was startled was putting it mildly. Artie had to stifle a laugh as Chiron practically threw himself back like he was trying pop a wheelie. He guessed Chiron had instinctively had reared on his hind legs, something Artie had seem do a few times at camp, while forgetting he was compacted in the wheelchair.

"By the gods!" Chiron panted. "Artie? Child, is that truly you?"

"Eh, what were you expecting, doc?" Artie said in his best Bugs Bunny Impression. "Waren Batey?"

"Excuse me for not sharing your humor." Chiron said gruffly and positioned his wheelchair closer and faced the Iris Message. "No one has seen neither bow or cloak from you for months now. Even Lady Artemis and Lord Apollo said you were beyond their sight."

"What about me?" Jacob asked.

"Jacob?" Chiron shook his head in confusion. "Di immortales, Percy and the others told me you were still alive, but i just didn't believe it."

"At least that explain why you didn't tell Artie about me, Chiron." Jacob said.

"Where are you now, child?" Chiron asked, changing the subject.

"I wish I could tell you." Artie said honestly. "But I swear the less anyone knows, the better. All I can tell you is that Artemis and Apollo weren't exactly lying. We are beyond the sight of the gods.

"Well, more like we're hanging out in the corner of their eye." Jacob added. "Which we hope means the Titans too."

"What is your goal?" Chiron asked cautiously. "Or is that something else you cannot tell me?"

"Long term goal? Yeah, we can't tell you." Artie smiled apologetically. "Short term? We ran into something neither of us has seen before."

"Which is kinda weird if you consider that between us we've seen most of the western half of the world." Jacob supplied. "Artie says their kinda like elephants. Big, but only dangerous until ya poke 'em with a stick."

"At least that's what I can guess." Artie explained. "They look more like giant fur covered cows. One was across the street which is plenty close enough to catch our scent, but it just ignored us."

"We even caught sight of a couple more on our way to our hotel." Jacob said which was something Artie had forgotten. "I might be paranoid, but I'd swear they were following us."

"Perhaps they are." Chiron offered. "You wouldn't to have more information? A photograph perhaps?"

"Oh, hold on." Jacob reached into his back pocket. "I drew one."

"Here!" Jacob held up a napkin. "Sorry, but it was a rush job."

Chiron leaned forward to see.

"Well, Chiron?" Artie took a deep breath. "What are we dealing with?"

"Those katoblepones are the least of your troubles!" Chiron sounded both astounded and angry. "What in the name of Mount Olympus are you two doing in Venice?!"

"We aren't." Artie said calmly. "You told me to stay out of Venice and Rome."

"Then you have cut it pretty close." Chiron sighed. "Please tell me you haven't crossed the Mediterranean Sea."

"Not yet." Jacob said.

"But you plan to." Chiron folded his arms. "You have no idea what forces await you if venture to far east!"

"It's not like we have a choice, Chiron!" Artie explained. "We don't know where we will go next."

"What do you mean you don't know?" Chiron sounded suspicious. "I suggest you explain yourselves and why you thought it necessary not to inform me, or anyone at all for that matter, of your intentions."

"It couldn't hurt, Artie." Jacob offered. "If we can't trust Chiron, then who can we trust?"

"Alright." Artie sighed. "Chiron, if I tell you everything then we're going to need you to swear on the Styx you won't tell anyone. Deal?"

"I suppose." Chiron still sounded annoyed. "Very well, child. Explain."

It took a little over ten minutes, but Artie recounted all of the events since the Oracle gave the quests to save Artemis and Annabeth. It was part of a prophecy the Oracle had given Lady Artemis when the gods were still in Greece which was several centuries before his birth. When Olympus was in dire need of help, a child of the moon would raise the walls of Sparta against its enemies. Thanks to Athena, Artie and Jacob were now traveling all over Europe being guided by a magic map so they could find and recruit demigods for a small band of highly trained soldiers against the Titans.

The theory, and hope, everything rested on was since that the gods' power and attention was focused on America then so were the Titans. No one would think the gods ventured out the United States, but Artie and Jacob were proof to the contrary and there plenty of tourist attractions in Europe. Artie explained that they had already made contact with seven demigods and had traveled from Lyon, France to Palermo, Italy to find a demigod called Vincenzo Valenti, who was probably a son of Dionysus if the symbol of a grapevine the map used was a clue.

"Ignoring the cliche." Chiron nodded approvingly. "It's so crazy, it just might work."

"So now you know why." Artie said. "The Titans will have spies at camp. One little word and we'd be fighting an army with no safe place to retreat to."

"Not to mention a lot of innocent demigods would wind up dead." Jacob remarked. "Or on their side. Provided they felt like offering them a choice."

"I see." Chiron nodded solemnly. "I swear on the River Styx to not divulge the existence of your missions or your locations."

"Good!" Artie nodded firmly. "So what are we dealing with? You sounded like you knew what they were."

"And like you thought we were in Venice." Jacob added. "I take it we should avoid Venice if we can."

"Yes. For the same reason you contacted me." Chiron agreed. "Those creatures are called katoblepones or simply a Katoblep if there is only one. It means down-looker because they are always looking down."

"Alright, but how dangerous are they?" Artie asked. "Unless they decided to stampede like the wildebeests in Lion King, I don't see them as the aggressive type."

"A stampede would be difficult to contend with, yes, but that is not the extent of it." Chiron pointed to his eyes. "They each have a, for the lack of a better word, a venomous gaze."

"Gaze?" Jacob frowned. "You sure you didn't mean bite?"

"No." Chiron shook his head. "A powerful wave of nausea will hit you if you look merely glimpse their eyes. I'd hate to imagine what one would suffer through after direct eye contact.

"So play it like Medusa and the Basilisk from Chamber of Secrets." Artie looked thoughtful. "Anything else?"

"They also emit poisonous gas from their nostrils." Chiron warned. "I know you have an immunity to poison, Artie, but do not push your luck."

"Wasn't planning on it." Artie assured. "Plus my tolerance only goes as far as regular animals."

"I didn't know that." Jacob said.

"Yep." Artie half shrugged. "I once got bit by a black mamba that escaped captivity and I just got a little sleepy, but anything like elder pythons or pit scorpions from Tatarus and I'm outta luck."

"Still, that's not something to laugh at." Jacob remarked.

"So, Chiron." Artie turned back to the Iris Message. "No eye contact and no breathing poison gas. Anything else?"

"No. That is all they possess as far danger." Chiron said. "Ignoring their size and numbers, of course."

"Then this is goodbye, Chiron." Artie smiled sadly. "I wish we could talk more, but we can't."

"Yeah." Jacob added solemnly. "You have no idea how much I wish I could see the camp again."

"Goodbye for now then." Chiron smiled to them both. "Artie, Jacob, good luck and may the fates have mercy."

Artie shut off the flow of water and sighed as the Iris Message dissolved.

"Is it me or did that sound a bit like one of your movies?" Jacob asked when they both left the bathroom.

"Which part?" Artie jumped onto the bed and stared up at the ceiling. "You mean how he said our quest was so crazy that it might just work?"

"No, but it does sound insane when you say it out loud." Jacob admitted. "I mean 'may the fates have mercy' part. Sounded a bit melodramatic."

"Well, Chiron lived through all those old stories and they tended sound melodramatic from time to time." Artie offered. "Still, it did sound just a bit foreboding."

"So what's the plan?" Jacob asked.

"Comb through the phone book until we find the right Vincenzo Valenti." Artie sighed. "Knowing our luck, it's probably the John Smith of Palermo."

"Well, good luck with that." Jacob began to stroll out of the room. "I'm going to head to the beach."

"Whoa, whoa. Hold up!" Artie shot straight up. "Why am I automatically the one that has to run down the right phone number?"

"Your Italian is better than mine." Jacob reminded. "I figured - "

"You figured you'd check out if this place has any beaches like France or a red light district like De Wallen in Amsterdam." Artie snapped. "While I'm stuck here sorting through possibly hundreds of Vincenzo Valenti's." Artie threw up his arms. "Just when I think you get we aren't a vacation a pretty girl walks by and you disappear. Jeez! I never thought I'd agree with Artemis."

"You need to learn to relax." Jacob smiled. "You've been away from your girlfriend for weeks now."

"What does that have to with anything?" Artie demanded.

"I'm just saying." Jacob shrugged playfully. "All work and no play makes Artie a dull boy."

Artie blushed a deep crimson when he caught on to what Jacob was implying. Now while they both had learned the birds and bees very early in Rio, as opposed to when American children learned the same lesson, it didn't mean it was not a sensitive subject even between two brothers.

Artie tossed his moonsilver Kopis and Jacob snatched it out of the air on instinct. At least he tried. The moment Jacob's hand wrapped around the hilt, the kopis suddenly weighed several hundred tons and Jacob's entire body went down with it. Artie suppressed a roar of laughter as Jacob recovered and tried to lift the blade from the ground.

"And all play and no work leaves Jacob defenseless." Artie strode and picked up the Kopis.

"How the . . ." Jacob panted.

"Moonsilver." Artie sheathed the Kopis. "Also called maidensilver because only maidens can lift it. Anyone else finds it impossible to lift."

"Maiden?" Jacob pointed to the sword. "So that knows if you . . ."

"Yep."

"Just once?"

"Yep."

"Which is why only the Hunters use the stuff?"

"Yep."

"So if you and Appolonia . . ."

"Both my bow and kopis would be useless." Artie nodded.

"So either leaving yourself defenseless or a life without ever . . . "Jacob whistled in amazement. "Tough call."

Artie was about to answer when Tobias flew in the open window and perched on back of a chair. He chirped and squawked several times. At least that was Jacob heard. Artie on the other hand listened with rapt attention and looked concerned.

"Well, that works out." Artie threw on his quiver along with his belt, gloves, and bracers. "Good work, Tobias. I owe you a roasted rabbit."

"What's going on?" Jacob asked.

"Tobias thinks he found Vincenzo." Artie opened his bow and pulled the string back. "At a zoo of all places. A school field trip by the looks of it."

"How can he be sure?" Jacob spared a glance at Tobias. "No offense, but bird like him are known for their eyesight and only you can tell if someone's a half blood by their scent."

"He said that those creatures we saw . . . what did Chiron call them?"

"Katoblepones!" Jacob said as he secured his magic gauntlets and boomerangs.

"Yeah, them." Artie said. "Tobias says they're sort of following him. Like thier following a scent without meaning to. Only the scent of a half blood would be appealing enough for monsters to follow. You said you thought a few were following us on our way here."

"True." Jacob nodded firmly, eager for some action. "Alright, how far is this zoo?"

"Tobias said an hour or so." Artie collapsed his bow and secured a weird bag onto his belt. "We should be able to cut that down on my bike."

"What's that?" Jacob pointed the bag.

"It's a wineskin." Artie winked. "I don't know how this is supposed to keep his kid safe, but I'm not leaving it behind."

Not much to their surprise, Artie and Jacob made it to Palermo's official zoo although it was technically outside of the city limits. They quickly paid the entrance fee and rushed inside. It looked very similar to the Bronx Zoo to Artie except everything was in Italian. According to the map, the zoo was divided into sections. There was an exhibit for birds that boasted rare and exotic birds from various parts of the world. There was also one for reptiles which promised lots of dangerous lizards like crocodiles and venomous snakes like the nose-horned viper. But none were as exotic as the occasional katoblep that milled along the walkways which Artie and Jacob gave a wide berth.

They wandered the zoo for a half hour, but they didn't see a single teenager let alone a group of them in school uniforms. Jacob had suggested splitting up to cover more ground, but Artie had shot it down. They had no way of contacting each other and they each could be overwhelmed if the katoblepones, or something else, got hungry.

"Maybe we should wait in the parking lot." Jacob suggested. They had stopped for a moment near the giraffe exhibit. "They'll have to leave eventually and a school bus should be easy to pick out."

"Which parking lot?" Artie leaned against the guard railing that prevented visitors from climbing into the habitats. "A place this big has to have more than one."

"I hadn't thought of that." Jacob sighed and thought for a moment. "Maybe Tobias can search from the sky?"

"We'd be sitting here until he decides to show up." Artie frowned. "I told him to go ahead and find his lunch. We move faster on the bike and he has to play catch up and all that flying really takes it out of you."

"Alright. So that's out" Jacob looked up and stifled a laugh. "Careful there, Artie. Unless you want a haircut."

"What are you — Ow!" Artie turned to see what had yanked on ponytail.

A calf had curiously come close to Artie and decided his hair might taste good. While it hadn't reached the full twenty or so feet to make it a full grown giraffe, it still was large enough to meet visitors at eye level. Jacob watched as Artie scratched along its jaw with one hand. The calf must have enjoyed it because gave Artie quick lick on the cheek before turning its head to let Artie scratch behind an ear.

"Hmm." Artie had an idea. "I wonder . . ."

"Wonder what?" Jacob asked.

"Hey, little guy." Artie asked sweetly. "Can you go get your mom for me?"

The calf looked at Artie and gave his cheek another quick lick and trotted off.

A minute later, a much larger giraffe approached Artie. It bent its long neck down to look at Artie. Like the little one, this one had light cream colored fur that was decorated with chestnut brown patches. Its brown eyes blinked slowly and seem to sparkle with intelligence.

"Please tell me you speak English." Artie extended a hand the giraffe gave it a friendly lick. "Parla inglese?"

Well, whadda ya know. It's the King himself. said a female voice in Artie's head with a very familiar Brooklyn accent, although his ears heard snort mixed with a kind of groan. Yeah, I speak English. Me and my little guy here were shipped outta the Bronx a few years ago. The name's Marge

"Oh, I'm sorry." Artie said.

Aw, don't worry about it. A change of scenery was what the Doc ordered. Although I kinda miss when Fall came around and the kids brought apples with them. Still, the food here is a lot better than the slop they had back in the Bronx. Marge's flicked to Jacob before returning to Artie. So this is social call, your majesty? Or did ya need something?

"We're looking for a group of school kids." Artie explained. "We think there might be another half blood with them and he might be in trouble."

A group of school kids? Sure, I've seen 'em. Marge motioned west. Ya just missed 'em. They were here about ten minutes ago.

"Did they mention where exactly?"

The lion exhibit, I think. Marge nudged Artie a bit. Or they were going to listen to some young up and coming lion tamer teach 'em about lions. I ain't too sure. Hey, you wouldn't happen to have an apple or something sweet?

"Uh, sure. I might." Artie reached into his belt and held out an apple he swiped from a fruit vendor the day before. "Thanks for the help."

Anytime, Marge took the apple in her mouth and walked off to her calf.

"I think I might know where to find them." Artie turned to face Jacob. "We need to head to the . . . um, what's going on?"

Artie was talking about the group of onlookers staring in amazement. Not one person said a word and Artie thought this might be what a deer felt when it was caught in the headlights.

"Uh, I guess they're wondering how you got a baby and mama giraffe close enough for you to pet them." Jacob seemed a bit uncomfortable with the stares too. "Not to mention you were talking to them."

Suddenly a high pitched scream broke the silence.

Both Artie and Jacob, grateful the excuse to leave, took off in the direction of the scream.

They reached the students in seconds and Artie took in the scene in a second. A group of five katoblepones had separated and cornered a group of students with their missing half blood probably among them. Artie thought it was missing some crazy villain calling the shots from high throne somewhere because the Katoblepones were edging the students closer and closer to the lion habitat. Either trampled by monsters or eaten by lions. Not pleasant either way. Of course had Artie been by himself, he would have just jumped into the lion habitat, but that sort of stunt really only work if one was the son of Artemis and the King of the Hunt to boot.

"How do you wanna handle this?" Jacob drew a boomerang.

"We need to stop them from forcing those kids into the lion den." Artie opened his bow and drew an arrow. "Those katoblepones might ignore the mortals, but the lions won't."

"Can't you get them to help? The lions I mean."

"They can't make the jump or climb out." Artie took aim. "Once we get their attention, they should ignore everyone but us and Vincenzo."

"'Kay." Jacob took aim. "The usual?"

"You got the ends while I take out the middle?" Artie paused and reached for something on his belt. "Hold on."

"What for?"

"Vincenzo!" Artie shouted. "Vincenzo Valenti!"

One of the student responded and looked through a gap between the monsters at Artie. From what they could see, he sort of looked like Mr. D, if he light brown hair and olive skin. His hair was curly and he had the same blue eyes, but Vincenzo's weren't bloodshot like Mr. D's always were and he wasn't as plump.

"Here!" Artie tossed something. "Catch!"

Vincenzo saw something sail over the furry cow-looking creatures and he caught it. He looked down and saw he was holding a leather bag with a removable bronze tip.

He looked down and back up at the two strangely clothed and armed teenagers and shouted, to their surprise, in Brooklyn accented English. "How in da tha name of gawd is dis supposed ta help?!

"I don't know!" shouted the one who had tossed the bag. "It's a gift from your father!"

"Open it!" shouted the other.

As if they sensed something was amiss, the monster began edging closer. With nothing to lose, Vincenzo ripped off the tip and torrent of clear liquid shot out like water from fireman's hose. He had just enough time to firmly plant his legs so the force did not shot back over the guard railing into the lion habitat. He turned left and right so he could soak all of monsters from head to toe. It wasn't until the torrent slowed to a trickle and stopped that the smell hit him and while he had never smelled it before, he knew what it was.

The monsters were soaked in one-hundred percent proof moonshine.

"Um, what was that?" Jacob asked and shook his head as the smell hit him. "Paint thinner?"

"I guess Mr. D respects the drinking age of Italy." Artie sniffed the air and drew and arrow. "Vincenzo, get those kids outta there!"

It was a good thing that Artie and Jacob were at a distance. The smell of high proof moonshine was not pleasant for mortal so monsters soaked in the stuff were not having a good time with their increased sense of smell. It allowed Vincenzo to lead his classmates away from danger, as well as himself, to the side where the rest of his class were. He wasn't sure what was happening or what he was seeing, but it was clear the strangers were there to help.

"Alright, Jacob, I need you to throw those boomerangs at their feet." Artie nocked the arrow and took aim. "When I say so."

"Not at them?"

"No." Artie fired. "We need a spark."

Jacob watched at the arrow flew over the Katoblepones and exploded into a cloud of fine white powder which congealed and stuck to thier fur. They growled and moaned in protest and anger.

"Now!" Artie shouted.

Jacob didn't argue and let his boomerangs fly at their feet. A split second before they collided with the ground and sparked, Jacob understood what the white powder really was and what Artie's plan was. The Katoblepones also understood, but it wasn't until the spark ignited the white phosphorus in the air around them along the congealed paste of moonshine and phosphorus in their fur. In the blink of an eye, they were engulfed a giant inferno and were reduced to ashes before they could turned to see their enemy.

"Nice!" Jacob whistled and turned to Artie. "What gave you the idea for that white phosphorus?"

"I wasn't sure what I needed." Artie admitted. "I knew I needed something between napalm and C4."

"Then how?"

"My quiver is linked to my thoughts." Artie explained. "Any kind of arrow I want and it'll give to me. I think maybe it figured out what I meant instead what I was thinking. I'm not sure." Artie began walking to where Vincenzo was shaking where he sat on a bench. "Come on, we owe him an explanation."

"True." Jacob suddenly laughed. "Hey, guess what I just thought?"

"What?"

"We should take him with us."

"Why?"

"Free drinks!"

Despite what Artemis might say about that, Artie couldn't help it and laughed long and hard with his brother.

"Hey, Jacob" A thought came to Artie. "Did you notice his accent?"

"Yeah." Jacob nodded. "He sounded like he's spent some time in Da City. How does that work?"

"We'll ask him." Artie looked thoughtful. "Off the top of my head, Mr. D met his mom in New York and they moved before monsters could notice he was a half blood." Artie shrugged. "That's my guess."

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