Authors: Kate O'Hearn
Also by Kate O’Hearn
Pegasus and the Flame
Pegasus and the Fight for Olympus
HADOW OF THE
Part One: Kira
Part Two: Elspeth
Other titles published by Hodder Children’s Books:
Copyright © 2012 Kate O’Hearn
First published in Great Britain in 2012
by Hodder Children’s Books
This ebook edition published in 2012
The right of Kate O’Hearn to be identified as the Author of
the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored or transmitted, in any form, or by any means with prior permission in writing from the publishers or in the case of reprographic production in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency and may not be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
A Catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN 978 1 444 9075 20
Hodder Children’s Books
A Division of Hachette Children’s Books
338 Euston Road, London NW1 3BH
An Hachette UK company
For Charlie, a white, 15-year-old carriage horse that collapsed and died on the streets of New York City, October, 2011. He soars with Pegasus now.
It is for Charlie and other abused horses like him that we will keep fighting and shouting until our voices are finally heard and the suffering ends …
The roar of the crowd was deafening. Olympians sprang to their feet cheering on the very first Inter-Olympian football match. The Solar Streamers were playing Hercules’s Heroes, but this was no ordinary football match. The scene on the pitch was as impressive and extraordinary as you would expect on Olympus.
When Joel first proposed a football event he was amazed by how many Olympians wanted to get involved. Now with a full stadium of spectators cheering him on, Joel, captain of the Solar Streamers, expertly manoeuvred the ball down the pitch and between the legs of a charging satyr. The half-goat, half-boy turned and charged after him as if his very life depended on it.
Joel broke through the defence line and passed the black-and-white ball to his Olympian teammate and friend Paelen, who dashed forward to get into position. The winged boar, Chrysaor, caught up with Joel and drove away the Hercules Heroes defenders, Mercury and Minerva, while Pegasus flew across the field over a line of centaurs and giants and called to Paelen to pass the ball. With a quick kick the ball was in the winged- stallion’s possession.
Emily sat on the sidelines beside Jupiter. She marvelled at how adept Pegasus was at a sport he and the other Olympians had only just learned. Pegasus was able to keep moving forward while the ball remained in play between his four hooves.
Suddenly a satyr ducked beneath Pegasus and stole the ball away. Moving swiftly on his goat legs, he kicked it back to his teammates. But no sooner did the opposing team have the ball than a young female centaur on Joel’s team made a move that caused the crowd to cheer even louder. Leaping gracefully into the air, she blocked a high kick with her brown equine body. As the ball touched down on the ground, she expertly kicked it forward to Joel.
Running towards the goal line, Joel and Paelen kept the football moving between them. Finally Joel moved into position to shoot it at the goal.
‘Go for it, Joel!’ Emily shouted from her seat. ‘Shoot!’
The opposing side’s goalkeeper was a terrifying sight. The Sphinx reared on her lion’s haunches, spread her arms and eagle’s wings wide and prepared to block Joel’s shot.
With one quick dart away from a young Nirad defender, Joel kicked the ball. It flew in the air and then seemed to arch as if it had a life all its own. It caught the upper bar of the goalposts and flew into the net above the head of the Sphinx.
When the goalkeeper saw the ball enter her goal, she roared in fury and sprang forward, tackling Joel to the ground.
Emily’s heart nearly stopped. The Sphinx had Joel pinned down with her large lion paws. She threw back her head, roaring a second time, and raised a fearsome paw in the air, making to tear into him with her sharpened claws.
‘Jupiter, stop her!’ Emily cried to the leader of Olympus standing beside her. ‘The Sphinx will tear him apart!’
But instead of moving to stop the attack, Jupiter cheered louder and started to applaud. He leaned closer to her. ‘My dear child, Alexis may be short tempered, but she knows this is just a game. Joel is perfectly safe …’ Jupiter paused and looked at all the men in the stands raising their hands and cheering. ‘I am certain that Joel is the subject of many Olympians’ envy.’
Out on the football pitch, the players on Joel’s team continued to celebrate the goal, unconcerned by the goalkeeper’s assault on their star player. Finally the Sphinx brushed back the hair from Joel’s eyes, leaned forward and kissed him full and long on the lips.
‘Foul!’ shouted Emily as she ran furiously on to the field. Pushing between the players, she shoved the goalkeeper. ‘Get off him!’
As the Sphinx climbed slowly off Joel, her serpent’s tail swished playfully in the air. She narrowed her green eyes and smiled mischievously at Emily. ‘Is the Flame of Olympus jealous?’
The Sphinx may have looked ferocious and dangerous with her lion’s body, eagle’s wings and serpent’s tail, but she had the head and naked upper body of a young woman. In fact, she was breathtakingly beautiful.
Emily paused and looked from Alexis to Joel. Seeing him on the ground with his beaming smile, warm brown eyes and handsome face, Emily was stunned to realize that she
‘Of course not!’ she shot. ‘But kissing opponent players isn’t part of the game.’
The smile never left the Sphinx’s face as she lithely padded back to her position in front of the goal. She looked playfully over her shoulder, flicking her long raven hair. ‘Pity. It should be.’
Paelen reached forward and, with Emily’s help, lifted the stunned Joel to his feet. As they brushed him off, Paelen stole a look back at Alexis. ‘Wow!’ he breathed. ‘That was some kiss. You are so lucky!’
The colour in Joel’s cheeks brightened further as Alexis called, ‘I will see you later, Joel.’
‘Don’t count on it,’ Emily fired back. She ignored the soft chuckles coming from the Sphinx and returned her attention to Joel. During his time in Olympus, he had grown taller, broad and muscular from all the physical work in Vulcan’s workshop. Joel’s growth spurt was the cause of much complaint from Vulcan as he constantly had to enlarge Joel’s silver mechanical right arm that replaced the one he’d lost in the fight against the gorgons.
‘Did Alexis hurt you?’ Emily asked.
Joel looked back at the Sphinx curiously and then shook his head. ‘Not at all.’
Paelen smiled his crooked grin then pursed his lips in an exaggerated kiss. ‘Perhaps bruise your tender lips?’
‘What?’ Joel cried. He shoved Paelen away as his cheeks reddened deeper. ‘Stop that. I’m fine! Can we please get back to the match?’
As the players returned to their positions, Pegasus escorted Emily to her seat on the sidelines. The stallion nickered softly and Emily saw an extra sparkle in his beautiful dark eyes. Pegasus was laughing.
‘What are you laughing at?’ she challenged.
Emily’s teacher Vesta approached, overhearing the conversation. ‘Pegasus believes the Sphinx was correct. You are jealous of her.’
‘Jealous of Alexis? That’s crazy,’ Emily argued. ‘For one, she’s just an overgrown, green-eyed, flying house cat. And for two, Joel and I are friends. That’s all.’
The smile on Vesta’s face grew. ‘Of course you are, dear …’
‘We’re friends,’ Emily insisted as she returned to her seat. ‘That’s all! Now, Pegs, your team is waiting for you; you’d better get back.’
Pegasus let out a loud, laughing whinny before trotting back to the field of play to take his position on Joel’s team.
As the match progressed, the score remained tied. While the Sphinx was Hercules’s Heroes goalkeeper, Joel’s team had a huge orange Nirad called Tirk, guarding their end. With his four arms, he proved a capable goalie and rarely allowed the ball in the goal.
‘That’s quite a match going on out there. But I’m not too sure if flying up and down the field is in the rulebook.’
Emily jumped at the sound of her father’s voice. ‘Dad!’ She threw her arms around his neck. ‘I’ve missed you.’
He had been away from Olympus with Diana and Apollo for what felt like ages. They were leading a small team back to Earth to determine if Jupiter’s ban on visits should be lifted. The Olympians had heard about human advancements and were curious to learn more. Her father went as an advisor and guide.
When Emily released her father, she welcomed Diana with a firm hug. ‘I’ve missed you both. When did you get back?’
‘Not long ago,’ her father said. ‘We went to the palace first and were told about the big match.’
He looked at the pitch and whistled in amazement. ‘When you told me you and Joel were teaching some of the Olympians to play football, it never dawned on me who or what would be playing. I’ve never seen a more fantastic sight.’
Emily looked over at the satyrs, harpies, centaurs, giants and some of the Muses out on the field playing alongside winged creatures never mentioned or even imagined in the ancient myths.
‘We tried to teach Cerberus to play, but it didn’t work,’ Emily continued. ‘His three heads kept fighting over the ball and tearing it to shreds. It was the same with the Cyclops. With only one eye, he kept missing the ball and became very frustrated. He even tore down the goal in rage. Jupiter finally had to ask him to keep score. You can see him over there …’ She pointed to the end of the field where the giant Cyclops was updating the scoreboard with each goal. ‘But most of the other Olympians seem to enjoy the game.’