Zedaph

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To make a very long story short, they tamed the pig.

It involved Percy sliding down a hill on Thalia's shield, Grover screaming about the satyr god called Pan, and a lot of squealing from said pig.

The pig dumped them off at a river somewhere in Arizona. By then, Grover had mostly regained his composure.

"I bet it was the coffee," Grover said dreamily. "When I have the chance, I'm going back to New Mexico to drink lots of coffee."

Percy, Thalia, and Zedaph exchanged a look.

"I do not think it was the coffee," Zoë told him.

They were on an abandoned street that was too small to call a town. It consisted of a boarded-up house, a half-destroyed gas station, and a taco stand that looked like it had been closed since brick pyramids were around.

"Does not look like there's a car rental here," Percy observed.

"There's one right over there," Thalia said, pointing back the way they had come.

"There is?" Bianca asked, turning.

"Made you look." Thalia smirked.

"That doesn't solve the problem of how we get out of here," Grover said.

"Use your acorn thingies or whatever," Zedaph told him.

Grover crouched down and set the acorns down. "These six are us," he said.

"Which one's me?" Percy asked.

"The little deformed one," Zoë suggested.

"Be quiet," Grover ordered, then played a tune on his panpipes.

"That's the way we need to go," Grover said, pointing towards some hills behind the taco stand.

But they weren't hills. Zedaph realized they were piles of junk. They had landed at the edge of a massive landfill.

"Let's stay the night here," Bianca suggested. Somehow, she had managed to hold on to her cat, and it purred in agreement. "I don't think any of us want to walk through that in the dark."

The questers nodded and mumbled their agreement.

The loudest engine Zedaph had ever heard interrupted them.

A white limousine pulled up right next to the questers, nearly running Grover over as he scrambled out of the road.

The back door opened.

Zedaph recognized him instantly.

He was a large man, with a gun at his belt and a massive sword strapped to his back. He was wearing sunglasses, but his eyes were still visible as glowing pits of fire and death underneath.

Zedaph had only met the guy once - he doubted the god of war had even noticed him.

Percy recognized him, too. "Ares."

Ares smirked. "We meet again, punk."

Zedaph uncertainly gripped his sword. Bianca looked to Zoë for instruction. Zoë stepped forward. "Lord Ares, please pardon his impertinence."

Ares waved her off. "No, I need to talk with Mr. Aquaman here. Alone. Why don't the rest of you go get a taco?"

Thalia opened her mouth to say something, but Grover said it first. "It's... not open."

Ares looked at the abandoned taco stand and took in the fact that it was about two centuries old. "Oh."

Then he snapped his fingers, and the place lit up. The sign in the window flipped to the Come In, We're Open! side.

"Um-" Zedaph started. "That is slightly suspicious."

Ares made a little shooing gesture.

Percy looked back at them, his expression a plea for help.

Zedaph shrugged at him and went to get a taco.

Zedaph thought the uncomfortable ghost dude behind the counter was one of the ones trying to kill them at first. But then he realized it was wearing a Taco Bell uniform with some sort of battle helmet, and looked very exhausted.

Bianca pointed to the helmet. "Is that a German-"

"Yes," Zoë whispered. "But do not mention it. It could be offensive."

Zedaph remembered the ghouls that Clarisse had on her ship last summer. She had claimed that Ares had control over spirits who lost a war.

Thalia approached the ghost. "Are you-?"

"Can we get this over with?" the spirit sighed. "I'd rather go back to eternal damnation than work in fast food."

"Sorry," Grover said. "Do you have enchiladas?"

Everyone ordered food. The ghoul served them a few minutes later. They didn't look very appetizing, but the ghoul looked so depressed that the questers ate anyway.

When they left the taco shop, Percy was out standing on the road, staring off into the distance.

"Don't take anything from the junkyard," he said before they could ask. "That was the gist."

"Are you alright?" Grover asked.

"Fine," Percy claimed, although he didn’t seem fine. "Talked to Aphrodite."

"I bet she's writing fanfiction about him and Annabeth," Thalia muttered to Zedaph. Zedaph failed to stifle a laugh.

"I have an idea," Zedaph said out loud. "If the trash heap is so dangerous, why don't we just go around?"

"We must go through," Zoë said gravely, which wasn't much of an answer, but Zedaph was too scared of her to argue.

"So, stop for the night," Percy decided.

They all sort of just flopped down in the sand. There were probably scorpions. Zedaoh decided not to think about that.

It was a long time before he fell asleep, because Zoë and Thalia were snoring in harmony and Grover kept mumbling about Pan and tin cans.

Eventually, though, he drifted off into a sleep full of dreams in which a depressed undead taco guy riding a giant pig led him through a giant sentient dumpster of rubber rats and mediocre Mexican fast food.

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