11 months ago


features. If not for

features. If not for their numbered collars they wore around their necks, I doubt anyone would be the wiser to which one was theirs. So we ate and drank the local fare, but I was having trouble keeping my food down, as the air smelled like rotten eggs. Kelly said it was due to Olympus Mons, this giant volcano, in fact, the biggest in our solar system. From what I understood it’s like Mount Everest on steroids. I have to admit I was really impressed with the local culture and how everyone we bumped into was bilingual. They spoke both English and a language that I was unfamiliar with quite fluently, which made me wonder how many other intelligent life forms existed throughout the universe. After eating, we walked to the blacksmith (it was kind of nice moving slow, I could take in the scenery) and told him what we intended to do. He hooked us up with some sort of flame retardant armor, and a bow with arrows tipped with a rare metal (supposedly it was hard enough to penetrate through the dragon’s thick scales), and a single shield which I claimed. He sorted through swords and daggers trying to find a match for each of us. He picked out two black and green daggers and handed them to Kelly, who spun them like a ninja, so I guess he was good at matching blades to their wielders. Alicia was given twin red colored sai’s with black leather handle wraps. They were a pretty impressive sight in her hands; she no doubt looked lethal holding the short, trident type swords. “You there, what be your name?” said the blacksmith. “Are you talking to me?” I said. “Yes, you look like a child of the gods, you have the face of Zeus and the eyes of Poseidon,” he said. “I’m an Olympian, I’m not completely sure who my parents are,” I blurted. “I knew it, praise the gods! There may still be hope for us all. Look, long ago Lord Ares brought some materials to my shop. He asked us to fashion him a sword that contained the energy of Zeus’s Thunderbolt… I suppose it is only right to give it to his next of kin, after all, it’s been around here since my granddad’s, granddad owned this shop,” he said. He opened up a large iron safe and pulled out a long object wrapped in a black satin cloth and handed it to me. Anxious like Christmas morning, I unraveled the fabric, and the most beautiful sword I ever saw was unveiled in my hands. It was no doubt crafted for a god. “Try it out,” coaxed the little blacksmith. The satin floated to the floor as my hand gripped the hilt, and slid the sword out of the silver gem encrusted scabbard. It was now even more breathtaking, the sword glowed with energy and small lightning bolts danced around the blade in harmony. The sword felt light like I was holding a large feather. “It’s true, you are an Olympian… The sword only works for your race. Without the bloodline, it is just a sword, no special powers. The celestial metal was forged, in the forge of Hephaestus on Mount Etna and holds great power!” he explained. I sheathed the sword and strapped it to my side. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel pretty badass. The sword made me feel proud of my heritage -- how many guys ever get to wield a sword made for a god? I strapped light plate mail armor onto my mount, to protect it from the dragon’s attacks. After the last piece was secured, we all suited up and mounted our Griffons. Oogle announced that he would meet us at our destination and vanished into nothingness as expected. I honestly had no idea how to fly a griffon. But after riding enchanted horses and unicorns, I figured it couldn’t be too difficult; boy, was I wrong! With a whoosh, we took flight, I was holding on for dear life as I soared higher into the Martian sky. I had no clue how to steer this thing (like how do I make it go up and down, horses don’t

have that capability). Holding onto my Griffon was the easy part, flying it was not so easy. Flying brought back memories of the plane crash and was equally horrifying! Like I went into a dive, and it felt just like when the plane was falling out of control, and I hated every second of it. The distance between me and a low mountain peak was closing in quickly, and I had absolutely no idea how to steer this stupid oversized chicken before I knew it I was kicking snow off of the peak, but fortunately for me, I was still hanging onto my ride. Kelly giggled a bit before saying, “Lean into it, guys, find your balance.” I was having so much trouble until now I completely forgot all about Alicia, I glanced over and saw Alicia struggling to stay on her griffon as well. It looked like she was about to fall off. So I did what Kelly said and leaned into the griffon, and it made a world of difference. I nudged the reigns, coaxing it over to Alicia. Once I got beside her, I said, “You have to lean into the animal, look at me. Your body will automatically find its balance.” After we had got all the kinks out and Kelly gave us a few minute cramming session on how to fly a griffon, I calmed down enough to enjoy the view. From this altitude the alien world below was serene, the streams and valleys looked breathtaking as we darted in and out of low-lying clouds. A herd of some sort of mammals that resembled elephants back on Earth foraged about in the fields of tall grass below. We soon flew over a tunnel system constructed of some type of crystal or glass tubes, ribbed with large metallic rings that covered as far as the eye could see in all directions. From my vantage point, I saw cigar shaped craft whooshing through the transparent tunnel system by the dozens. I’d never before seen anything quite like this. “Kelly, what are these tunnels for?” I asked. “That is Mars’ transportation system, it’s much more advanced than how roads work back on Earth; we never have to deal with major wrecks or traffic congestion.” “That sounds too cool, I guess we could learn much from this planet!” I admitted. We could see our destination in the distance; it was a towering mountain spewing smoke. The size was impressive, and there was nothing I could compare it to, it was just that huge! Kelly devised a way to keep the heat of the volcano off of us. She explained that Oogle would channel his energy to deflect the heat around us. “But this will only last for a while, we will have to work quickly or face the Fates,” Kelly advised. The best I could gather, Oogle would be projecting a massive bubble around us, like an invisible force field. “Who are the Fates?” Alicia asked. “The Moirae, you know the goddesses of fate. Clotho spins the thread of life, Lachesis measures the thread of life and Atropos cuts the thread of life. Or in other words, they choose your fate, like when you will be born and when you will die,” Kelly said. The Fates sounded interesting, but I’d rather not meet them. Flying on the back of a griffon was bad enough, but flying up to the largest active volcano in the solar system that was spewing smoke from the top, was even worse! We circled around the volcano until we found a suitable ledge to land on, we were nearly vertical. The Griffons effortlessly scaled the rough rocky surface with their razor sharp talons digging in. We headed toward a tunnel on the west side of Olympus Mons as the aliens had instructed. They had told us if any dragon’s still existed, our best odds would be searching the volcano’s lower levels.

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