Luke Gets a Quest . . . is the forty-second chapter of The Gift of a Best Friend. It was first published on March 24, 2017.
After a day of learning at school, I liked coming home.
Jasmine and I got off of the school bus, and Luke, Emily, and Toothless were waiting for us, as they always were.
We greeted each other, but Jasmine and I noticed how happy Luke seemed to be.
“Are you ok?” Jasmine asked him.
“Ok? Of course, I am,” he replied. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
“You’re acting weird,” I said.
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are, Luke,” Emily said. “The real question is why. And I’ve been waiting for that answer for over and hour now.”
“Ok. Maybe I am acting a little odd,” he admitted. “But it’s only because I’m excited.”
“About what?” Jasmine asked.
“Let’s get home and I’ll tell you, ok?”
We nodded. Then we headed home.
We went to our grandparent’s house, and they—except for Grandpa and Jasmine’s family—were there, all of them in the living room.
We all sat down as Luke told us what he was so excited about.
“My dad came to visit me today,” he said.
“Hermes?” I asked.
He nodded. “Yeah.”
Jasmine and I made eye-contact, and I could tell that we both were thinking the same thing: Uh-oh.
We remembered the last time Luke saw his dad for the first time three years ago, and it wasn’t good. Even everyone else seemed tense when Luke mentioned that.
“I know why you all are acting nervous since you all know my history with my dad,” he said. “But this time, it’s ok. He came to offer me a quest.”
“A quest?” I asked.
He nodded. “Yes.”
“What kind of quest?” Emily asked.
“A quest to steal a golden apple from the Garden of the Hesperides.”
“Like Hercules did?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Luke replied. “I’m not really that excited to do it since it’s been done before, but my dad offered it to me and I want to do it for him.”
“I remember him telling you that he would give you a quest,” Jasmine said.
“I do too. But I never really expected it until now.”
“Can we come with you?” I asked. “I know that a quest usually consists of three people.”
“Yeah,” Jasmine agreed. “Can we?”
“I don’t know,” Luke said. “Do you two think you can handle it?”
“Yes!” I said.
“If you can, we can,” Jasmine said.
Luke laughed. “Alright then. You two can be a part of the quest.”
“Yay!” we cheered.
“Hey,” Emily said. “I know that you just said that a quest can only have a maximum of three people, but I’d like to come too.”
“You do?” Luke asked.
“Yes. I won’t cause any kind of extra monster attraction since I’m not a demigod and Jasmine isn’t either. But you and Annabeth are, so that should count as an exception, right?”
“Hmm. I guess so. But, of course, I won’t say no to my girlfriend to go with me on my first quest.”
“Great. And with my powers, I can teleport us there and back in a flash.”
“Teleport?” Luke said. “That wouldn’t be a real quest, Emily. I’d say we go on a road trip. We can take my car.”
“But, Luke,” I said. “We’re not supposed to use electronics. It causes more monsters to find us easily.”
“I know that, Annabeth. But Mom gave me that car and she made sure that the monsters couldn’t track us wherever I drive it, just like she did with our cell phones. Right, Mom?”
Grandma nodded. “Yes. But monsters will still be able to find you.”
“That’s fine. We’re not going to go unarmed anyway. We’ll bring weapons with us just in case we, somehow, lose our own. Everyone got it?”
We all nodded.
“Great,” Luke said. “We’ll get prepared at camp, then we’ll leave in the morning.”
“To where?” Jasmine asked. “Where is the Garden of the Hesperides?”
“My dad told me that the garden is on Mount Othrys,” Luke replied.
“But that’s in Greece,” I said.
“Yes. But since the gods moved to America, Mount Othrys moved to San Francisco, and that’s where we’re going.”
We got everything we needed from camp: weapons; armor; food; money; drachmas just in cause we need to send an Iris-message; and ambrosia and nectar for emergencies.
We packed some of them in our backpacks, the rest in the trunk of Luke’s truck. Then, after a dreamless night of sleep, our family wished us luck and we set out on our quest.
Luke drove, Emily sat in the passenger seat next to him, and Jasmine and I sat in the seats behind them.
We read books or listened to music along the way. I read a book about Mount Othrys and the Garden of the Hesperides to learn what we needed to know about it.
“This book says that you can only enter the garden at sunset when day turns to night,” I said.
“That shouldn’t be a problem,” Luke said.
“No. But the Hesperides guard the tree with the golden apples, and, even worse, a thousand-headed dragon named Ladon also guards it too.”
“That could be a problem.”
“A dragon?” Jasmine asked, sounding excited.
She wanted Toothless to come, but we decided that the four of us was pushing it already, so he stayed home.
“Maybe not, Luke,” Emily said. “Jasmine has influences over pretty much every animal she comes into contact with. She can control Ladon with her powers while we get the golden apple. Right, Jasmine?”
“Uh, I don’t know,” she replied. “He has a thousand heads, and I’ve never controlled that many cryptids at once before.”
“Yeah,” Luke agreed. “And I don’t feel that it’s right to put you in that position to protect us, even if it is your strong suit. I’m the leader of this quest and the oldest. It’s my job to protect you three, not the other way around.”
“No, Luke,” I disagreed. “It is the other way around. Like you said, it’s your quest and you’re the leader. If you’re gone, the quest is over. We couldn’t continue it without you.”
“If I die before this quest is over, you three are going to finish it with or without me. That’s final.”
The thought of Luke dying made me sad. I didn’t want him to ever die. I doubt I could handle it if he did, especially since he helped me handle my sister’s death more than anyone else. Who would help through his death? His ghost?
“Well,” Emily said. “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”
We continued in silence after that.
Until one of Jasmine’s favorite songs started playing on the radio.
“That’s Mommy’s song!” she said. “Turn it up!”
“Of course,” Emily said. “Why would I ever turn down my sister’s songs?”
She turned up the volume on the radio. It was one of Sarah’s latest songs, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It”, which is mainly about a husband who helps his wife through cancer. Emily and Jasmine sang the whole song together, and then it finally ended and the radio was turned back down.
We arrived in San Francisco the next night. We had stopped a few times to refuel on gasoline and once to get until we were completely full so that we wouldn’t have to eat again for a while. We did run into a few monsters, and I do mean actually running into them.
Luke ran them over with his truck that he and Emily had, apparently, attached Celestial bronze spikes to the front and back of his truck so that he could run over and back over monsters, turning them to dust instantly. It was fun to watch, and Jasmine and I laughed each time.
It was dark and we had to wait until the next sunset to enter the Garden of the Hesperides. We strolled through the city and found a hotel to stay in for the night with a view of Mount Tamalpais in the distance.
Since I’ve become to love architecture, I couldn’t help but stare at the beautiful architecture of the buildings and the Golden State Bridge, of which I did a little research on.
The construction of the bridge began on January 5, 1933. It ended over four years later on April 19, 1937, and officially opened a month after that on May 27, 1937. It is a total length of 8,981ft, 90ft wide, and stands at 746ft tall. It was known as the longest suspension bridge main span in the world until 1964 when the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was built in New York City that has a total length of 13,700ft!
So for the next eighteen hours or so, we explored the city on foot, getting something to eat, went shopping, and Jasmine made me try on every single dress she thought was pretty, then tried them on herself, and Emily took pictures of us wearing them. We even brought a couple of them, though I have no idea when we’ll wear them.
The day passed by quickly. We got back in Luke’s truck and drove to Mount Tamalpais because that’s where the garden was. We got off the highway and drove onto a very narrow road up the side of the hill.
After a while, Jasmine suddenly yelled, “Stop!”
Luke hit the brakes and we stopped. “Why?”
“He’s close,” she replied. “But at least asleep.”
“She’s right,” Emily agreed. “I can sense him too.”
“You can also tell that he’s asleep?” Luke asked.
Jasmine nodded. “Uh-huh. For now.”
“Well, let’s not wait until he wakes up.”
He turned off the engine and the four of us got out of the car and grabbed our weapons.
There was fog drifting across the road.
“I’ll go first,” Luke said.
He stepped into the fog, then he suddenly disappeared.
“Luke!” I called.
“Shh,” Emily said. “He’s still there. We just need to follow him in. But, this time, let’s hold hands to make sure that at least us girls stay together, ok?”
Jasmine and I looked at each other, and I could tell that we both agreed that we couldn’t let Luke go alone.
We looked at Emily and nodded. We took each other’s hands and walked into the fog. When it cleared, we were still on the side of the mountain, but the road was now dirt, the grass was thicker, and the sunset made a reddish sash across the sea.
Luke was standing next to us.
“Good,” he said. “You girls followed.”
We let go of our hands.
We looked ahead and saw a really tall tree with actual real gold apples on it. They smelled really good.
Then we saw the dragon wrapped around the tree. He was big, and he definitely seemed to have a hundred heads, all of which did appear to be asleep.
“Ok,” Emily whispered. “Now what do we do?”
“Grab an apple and go,” Luke whispered back.
“And you think it’s going to be that easy with all these heads that could wake up at any second?”
“I know, and that’s why we should hurry.”
“But how?” I asked. “We can’t get to the tree without stepping on his heads.”
“I’ve got this,” Luke said. “Maia!”
His sneakers suddenly sprouted wings out of the heels, causing him to float a couple inches off the ground.
We stared at him.
“I knew I forgot to mention something,” he said.
“Yeah,” Emily agreed. “I’m guessing your father gave them to you?”
“He thought they would help.”
“They’re kind of cool,” I said.
“Well, go get your apple,” Emily said.
Luke flew toward the tree.
When he reached for the closest apple . . .
“Luke, move!” Jasmine suddenly yelled.
But it was too late.
Emily and I were confused by why she said that until we noticed Ladon raised his claw and brought it down on Luke. It cut the right side of his face. He yelled in pain and fell to the ground.
“Luke!” I screamed.
He was still conscious, but his sword was gone and blood was trickling down his face.
Most of Ladon’s heads were raised over him. Fortunately, some of them looked at us when I screamed.
I knew what they were going to do next, and I couldn’t let them kill him. I unsheathed my knife and ran to him.
The dragon’s heads that were watching me attacked, but I dodged them and managed to slice them with my knife.
I was getting closer to Luke. Ladon was getting ready to snap at him. When he did, I lunged myself between him and Luke.
“No!” I screamed.
Ladon snapped at my side.
I cried out for what I knew would be the last time, and I collapsed on the ground.
I hate when it's explained that something happened but there are hardly any details about it, so you have to make them up. I don't know if Luke did this quest solo or not in the books. It's implied that he did, though I had this idea that the girls would go with him. What do you guys think about it?
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