Nico looked at the guy confused. He wore elaborate golden armor, with designs of sea monsters. Everything was gold- his sandals, his man-skirt, his gloves. He wore a golden mask that was remarkably realistic to a gorgon face. He held a golden sword at Coach Hedge's neck. Piper and Hazel hissed, and for an instant, he almost saw Frank as a grizzly bear.
"Where is Perseus Jackson!" he yelled in a thick, middle-eastern voice.
"Gone." Said Jason. "Where are your dolphins?"
"Gone." He flourished his hand. "So, I suppose I won't be needing this." He threw away a shirt of Percy's, and a pair of pants of Annabeth's.
"Why are you taking our clothes?" asked Leo. "I mean seriously, are you that much of a creeper?"
The man shrugged. "I see you picked up a new crew mate. What's your name demigod."
The things Nico said just then weren't very nice. Even Hedge looked at Nico. "Nice mouth, cupcake."
Nico did a bow.
The golden man seemed unphased. "Hmph. Anyways, do you know of the Laelaps?"
The crew just looked at each other in confusion.
"Good. All the more fun." He whistled, and a giant dog leaped up onto the deck. It looked like a mix between a black greyhound and a white mastiff, if that was possible. It growled at the demigods.
"Laelaps, and ancient hound dog belonging to some Greek hero, used to hunt down the Teumessian Fox. Laelaps is magically able to catch whatever it is hunting, and the Fox can never be caught. They were put in the stars when Zeus got a head ache, but I was able to get some of his pups. You won't find any myths about his pups. They are unknown. This is the alpha of the pack." Golden Boy threw the dog the sack of clothes. The dog sniffed it, and growled back at us. Then, it dragged the sack off the ship, and into some brush. Barking and yelps followed.
"You are now their next targets. So you better start running, because they will catch you." He laughed manically, and pushed Hedge down to the deck. He then jumped off board, and disappeared.
Leo hurriedly brought them back into the air.
"Who was that!" exclaimed Nico.
"Chrysaor." Said Piper. "We had a run in with him earlier. He's the son of Medusa and Poseidon. And he has it out for us because we defeated his dolphin crew and sank his 6 million dollar vessel."
Nico nodded. "Got it. But these Laelaps, we gotta avoid them. But we still have to find
"Who is Asteria?" asked Piper.
"I think I know." Said Leo. Everyone looked at him like he was crazy. "Hey! Well, she was a god, or titan, or something for dark things, necromancy and oracles. Something like that. But Zeus really liked her, so he pursued her. But she doesn't like guys, so she turned into an island. I think."
Frank rolled his eyes. "So, what do we do?"
"We split up." Said Hazel. Everyone looked at her in confusion.
"What?" asked Nico.
"We split up. Piper, Coach and I will go find Asteria, and the rest of you head for the Doors of Death. If we split up, it will confuse the dogs."
Jason nodded slowly. "That might work. But traveling overland is dangerous. Gaea might stop you guys."
"She might not know what we are doing. And she won't be focusing on us. She will be focusing on the people going to the Doors of Death."
"But the hounds will catch you easier." Frank looked specifically at Hazel. Nico almost snorted.
"It's our only chance. Besides, the more demigods, the more likely they'll follow that group."
"How are we supposed to find Asteria thought?" asked Frank. "It'll be impossible without help."
Hedge cleared his throat. "Nico might be able to help with that."
Nico looked is surprise. "How?"
"Feel. Is there any source of death or undead around?"
Nico sighed, and concentrated. Expanding his senses, he immediately felt a presence.
"50 miles from here, if you head east, there is a huge amount of undead concentration." He said. "I can easily lead you there." "Oh no. Leo, we need you to find the House of Hades. We can't spare you." Said Jason.
Nico sighed with a huff. "Hazel, do you think you can feel it?"
Hazel nodded. "Maybe."
Hedge yawned. Nico was surprised to see the sun was beginning to set, turning the ocean a beautiful orange. "Been a long day cupcakes. Let's get some rest. Then tomorrow we'll split up."
"I'll take first watch." Grunted Jason. Leo nodded and hovered the ship in the air. No dogs tonight.
Nico yawned and retired to Percy's bedroom, which had become his officially. In seconds he was out.
In his dreams, Nico saw nothing. Literally, darkness. Then, a dull, bronze glow. To his relief, he saw Percy with Riptide. Annabeth was on the ground next to him.
"Are you ok?" asked Percy, who had helped her up.
"What do you think, Seaweed Brain?"
The dream shifted. They were staring at a group of zombies.
"What are these?" gasped Annabeth.
"Annabeth doesn't know something? The world must be ending!"
"Your head is full of kelp."
Percy smiled, wiggling his eyebrows. "Let's get out of here. These zombies are creeping me out." The scene shifted once more, where Annabeth and Percy were talking to a guy spinning on a wheel of fire. Nico couldn't hear their conversation.
Then he felt a dark force pulling him. He turned around and there stood Gaea.
"Come to the Doors of Death. You and your friends are no match for me. Come, son of Hades. I will defeat you." She threw back her head and laughed. "Go, find Asteria. She will not help you! The reign of the Olympians are over. I am awakening."