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    [DW3] AZ-03 Hazardous Panic

    During a visit to Gavin's parents in the Mediterranean, Roger learns the truth behind his apprenticeship, while the team encounter another group of teenagers from California, the Hazardous Materials mystery solving team.

    Coming up next on the third episode of Arcadia Zoe!
    Arcadia Zoe: Episode Three

    [DW3] AZ-03 Hazardous Panic
    By Darrel Vanwinkle (Lord Pouchlaw)

    Chapter One.

    Kevin was, for a change, expertly preventing himself from smirking at Michelle.

    Karen snickered, mainly because she was used to her sister sticking her foot into her own mouth. "Anyway, Gavin is right. We need what little rest we can get. We are going to lose sleep when we travel over to Circe's Island later."

    Back on Circe's Island...

    Roger was making his way through a forested part of the island, when all of a sudden, there came a sudden clap of thunder just ahead of him, followed by an explosion, and a strong gust of air from an arrival. But the part that came next was not what he was expecting to hear on an island in the Mediterranean...

    "Way to go, Xanel..." said an annoyed female voice. "You dropped us in the middle of a forest."

    The one called Xanel replied, "I'm sorry, Vicky. You know I haven't been the same with my teleporting since we returned from my home world." Then there was a pause. "Are you two OK?"

    "I have been through better teleport landings, you know," said a second male voice. "What about you, Trina?"

    The one called Trina said, "If I hadn't instinctively shifted into my jaguar form, that landing might have hurt me a lot, Mark. Just where are we, anyway? This doesn't look like Nicodemus' Tavern."

    The one known as Mark said, "Xanel got us lost. That's a first."

    Xanel replied, "I said I was sorry, guys." He sighed. "My dad is not too thrilled about my being stuck 95% of the time in my Unikron body. And he is especially not pleased that I have two bodyguards living in the mansion with me. Cryston Warhorn and Aurora Firebane. I still can't believe that they agreed to come back to Earth with us."

    Roger chose that moment to make his presence known as he stepped forward out of the forest. And when he did, he instantly recognized the people for who they were. It was four of the primary members of Hazardous Materials. "Hey! What are you guys doing in the Mediterranean? I thought Hazardous Materials prowled California!"

    Mark smiled when he heard and saw the newcomer. "Roger Rogers! You're supposed to be in Richfield, Virginia!"

    Trina stood, in all her feline grace and tossed her hair back over her shoulder. "Roger! Fancy meeting you here," she said with a wink.

    "I apologize, Xanel," Vicky said, rubbing her bottom, "but I don't recall you ever dropping us on our butts before." She placed her hand lightly on his forearm. "I know it's not your fault."

    Roger smiled. "Nice feline body, Trina. It is most amazing how it doesn't tear your new clothes. That must be a real benefit."

    "Thanks, Roger. I spent some time in space finishing up my studies and I was rewarded with some shopping. I love my new wardrobe of clothes that are malleable," she smiled.

    Mark grinned. "I was wondering how that was going to work. Anyway Roger... what are you doing here? We were on our way to Nicodemus' Tavern in Athens... and someone miscalculated..."

    Xanel stood up and brushed himself off. "I said I was sorry, Mark. I've never been to Athens before and I really wanted to try to make the trip under my power."

    Roger stopped smiling at that point and said, "You guys may not be too thrilled when you find out where you are... You see, about a week ago, I became the apprentice to a real live centaur sorcerer named Gavin Whitelaw, the son of Circe and Ren of the Northern Herd. He was in Richfield to educate Arcadia Zoe on her true heritage. Anyway... Gavin teleported me here on a magical assignment. I have to find three animals who were once human and talk to all three of them. Therefore... we're on Circe's hidden island in the Aegean Sea. The rest of the guys are due to show up in an hour or so."

    Mark irked. "Circe? Oh boy... I better really behave myself then. I don't want to be a pig."

    Roger laughed. "Gavin told me that his mom stopped doing pigs around the time of Christ."

    Vicky looked around. "Circe's island, huh? We only have a few humans in the team. Mark, you may be the only one of us in danger here," she suggested.

    Roger smiled. "Circe and Ren are both asleep at this hour, but will awaken at 6 A.M. It was a 7-hour difference between Richfield and here, so it's a 10-hour difference between L.A. and here. So you are all safe as long as you don't make any noise. You guys must have left the west coast around 8 P.M." He then sighed. "However, I still have to find those three animal victims and I don't know how I am going to do it."

    "You're right, Roger. It was 8 P.M. when we teleported." Then Mark asked, "So what are you looking for?" Roger smiled again. "I have to find and talk to an otter, a rat, and a donkey, in that order. I will not have to use magic to speak to them because they are transformed victims. I just have to find them and talk to them. That is my assignment. Unfortunately, like you guys... when Gavin teleported me... I landed here in this forest on the island. I don't know where my quarry is."

    End of Chapter One.

    Chapter Two.

    "An otter?" Trina confirmed. "Then we need to find some water, preferably a river. If you’d like we could help you find the ones you’re supposed to talk to," she offered. "I can always track them by scent."

    Back in Richfield, Virginia at Uncle Remus' estate... Jason smiled. "This was a most excellent dinner, Remus. Are you sure one of us can't help you wash the dishes?"

    Remus growled a little, then winked with a grin. "Guests don't do that and it would be improper to make a potential Greek goddess have dishpan hands."

    Irene giggled, then glanced over at the Richards and McVanns. "I am certainly looking forward toward this trip. It's not often that we get to see other parts of the world."

    Arcadia hummed, still concerned over Hades' threat during the school dance of Arcadia staying out of the Mediterranean that weekend and here they were preparing to go there regardless.

    "It might teach her some humility," Michelle suggested, pondering Arcadia with wrinkled pruny and wet hands while slaving over a sink full of dishes, pots, and pans.

    Karen rolled her eyes. "Oh, please. If that's the case, perhaps you should do the dishes."

    Michelle just glared at her twin.

    "I think Arcadia has beautiful hands," Kevin offered.

    "Of course he does," Linda whispered to Jason.

    Arcadia said, "Michelle... I used to be the poorest girl in Richfield. I have probably washed more dishes than you have ever washed yourself in your entire life. The problem here on the estate is that Remus won't let anyone touch his dishes except Gavin. Therefore, I am forbidden from washing dishes here. Remus thinks I am this lady of the finest quality." She winked with a grin.

    Gavin then opened his eyes. "It is nearly time to make the transport over to mom's island. I hope all of you got in some rest because when we arrive there, it will be 6 A.M. The 7 hour difference, remember? It's almost 11 P.M. here."

    Jason stood up. "I think we are ready to make the trip. Though like Kevin, I am worried about Roger being by himself. He is a good person and what you know to be not dangerous could be very dangerous for him. Unlike you, he can't teleport out of harm's way."

    Michelle shrugged. "Whatever." Though she noticed that Remus was giving her the eye and she quickly dropped the attitude for now. Like her father, she knew what Mr. Remus could do.

    Irene said to Michelle, "I thought you and Arcadia were getting along fairly well after the school dance, but now you sound cranky. Anyway..." she looked to Gavin. "...we're ready for the group teleport. And if you require me to lend you some power for the teleport, I am willing to give it."

    Michelle sighed, "Sorry. The whole dance was a fiasco. No one even asked me to dance. It was a waste of time. And that dress," she shuddered, "I don’t know how I let you guys talk me into even going."

    "I hope we don't get magical jet lag," Linda laughed.

    Gavin nodded his head and began preparing the teleport spell for moving the group and their suitcases over to Circe's Island in the Mediterranean for the weekend. The rest and meditation that Gavin had gotten helped greatly for the magic arose around their group, and as Remus' mansion faded from view, Circe's and Ren's inner courtyard on her hidden island in the main villa of houses, though there was a workshop and a barn and stables clearly within view to the back.

    Gavin smiled as he closed his spell book. "Welcome to my parent's island. And we have arrived about ten minutes after 6 A.M. My parents should be waking up any minute. I am sure they will love to meet all of you."

    Jason was glancing around. "Um, I don't see Roger, Gavin. Where is he?"

    Gavin replied, "Probably out in the cursed victims barn and stables where my mother houses those who she has changed for reasons of one or another. I did give Roger an assignment, so let us give him the time he needs to complete that assignment."

    Arcadia was busy checking out the surroundings with her Focus and Aura abilities, and she could clearly see that Roger was not in the villa, nor had he been. "Gavin? I think you made a mistake about Roger. There is no trace of his Aura ever being in the villa. And I have been practicing my basic abilities you taught me. Are you sure you teleported him here to the villa? Carefully think back to when you sent him to the island..."

    Gavin closed his eyes and went back over the details of the teleport. Then he opened his eyes and sighed. "Oh my. You are correct, Arcadia. I made a slight error. I teleported Roger to an old campsite in the forest on this island where Ren and I went camping at once when father was teaching me on how to do centaur things. And that would mean that he has spent the last six to seven hours wandering around that forest in the dark looking for the animals I meant for him to talk to. I hope he is okay."

    End of Chapter Two.


      Chapter Three.

      A good distance away in the forest of the island, Roger smiled. "I would appreciate the help a LOT, Trina. I've been trying to find these animals for the past 6 hours."

      Xanel hummed. "We'll do that then and when we're done, Mark can teleport us over to Athens so my next attempt doesn't smack our asses on the marble streets."

      Mark grinned. "You said you were sorry."

      Trina lifted her face and inhaled deeply through her nose. "Hm, that's odd," she muttered. "The scent of all three of the animals you are looking for are all coming from the same direction," she said, indicating. "Shall we go?" she asked, leading the way.

      "Well, we knew the risks," Vicky laughed, hugging Xanel. "Let's follow the huntress."

      Some moments later... Roger said, "Hey, I see Gavin and the others just ahead. Are you sure the three animals I need are over here, Trina?"

      Gavin smiled. "There's Roger..." then he frowned a little. "...and he's not alone. I wonder where they came from?"

      Irene grinned. "I know who they are! I recognize Victoria Lane! It's the Hazardous Materials team! And that must be Mark Merlin! He only wears white magicians clothes!"

      Arcadia was of course in the dark about the new people. "Who?"

      Just then, Circe and Ren of the Northern Herd emerged from the main house. "Did I hear an owl just now?" inquired Circe. "Gavin! You're home!" And she hugged the young centaur fondly.

      Xanel smiled when he saw Ren. "Now that is a big stud. Probably bigger than I am underneath..." He winked with a grin as he said that.

      Trina took another deep sniff of the air and replied, "Yes, definitely."

      Michelle laughed. "Victoria Lane, probably the only girl in the world to get into more trouble than I do."

      "Hazardous Materials is a team of mystery solving super people that travel all over the world and, well, solve mysteries," Kevin informed Arcadia. "That is just a few of their members."

      Roger stepped up to Gavin and said, "I'm sorry, Master Gavin, but you teleported me literally to the other side of the island. And not long after I was there, these guys accidentally overshot Athens via teleport and crash landed on the island nearby. Trina Tracker was helping me to track down the animals you told me to come talk to."

      Gavin said, "It is my fault, Roger. I made a mistake when I teleported you. I was tired, as you surely recall. Just complete your assignment and you can meet with my mother and father later. The animals you seek are within that building over there." He pointed the way for his apprentice.

      As Roger the Sorcerer in training headed off on his assignment, the other HM teens stepped up into the inner courtyard.

      Xanel said, "I apologize for crashing us on your island, Ms. Circe. We were heading to Athens for Nicodemus' birthday party."

      Circe smiled. "That's tonight, actually. Well, I can forgive you teenagers for that, then. I'll just call Nicodemus up on my magic mirror and tell him that you four accidentally arrived here instead of at his place. And then, I can give you precise directions to his tavern in Athens."

      Xanel smiled, too. "Thank you for understanding, Ms. Circe."

      Circe headed inside to make the mirror-call.

      Merlin released a sigh of relief. "She wasn't upset at our being here. I was really worried."

      Irene grinned. "She wasn't upset because she knew the Richfield Champions and Arcadia Zoe were on our way to see her this weekend. She was expecting teenagers on the island. Otherwise... there is no telling how she might have taken your arrival."

      Jason giggled, then turned his head away and pivoted his head skyward and belched, releasing a gout of dragon flame. "Ugh... Please excuse me. At least I had some warning that time... No one turned into a crispy critter." Arcadia Zoe smiled and shook hands with Xanel the Unikron, Mark, Victoria, and Trina the Were-Jaguar. "I'm Arcadia Zoe... the potential Greek goddess in training whom Hades is trying to kill. You know how it is... don't you?"

      Trina smiled triumphantly. "The nose knows," she said, placing her hands on her hips and throwing her hair over her shoulder with a toss of her head. Vicky laughed. "Yes, Arcadia, we're pretty familiar with that. Someone is always trying to kill one of us at one time or another."

      "Circe is actually pretty understanding," Karen explained to Mark. "She has really mellowed over the centuries also."

      End of Chapter Three.


        Chapter Four.

        When Circe returned, she said, "The second team already arrived at the villa and were asking what had happened to you guys. Nicodemus was laughing when he heard you landed on the hidden islands. There are far worse islands to crash land on. You could have accidentally found his wife, you know." She winked. "Nicodemus didn't laugh at my joke, that time. Anyway, I have been authorized to open a portal to his villa courtyard to send you people through so you don't mis-teleport again. If you missed Athens a second time, you could landed in northern Europe."

        Mark commented. "I don't think Olivia Crane would want to know that we were popping in and out of European countries behind her back. We have her permission to be in Greece; nowhere else. We thank you for the portal."

        Ren of the Northern Herd grinned. "Isn't her niece the one who wrote in the Mysteries Inc Newsletter that your team sunk the British Isles?"

        Xanel sighed. "Katherine did that? Now we know who is responsible for that rumor. There are people in space who BELIEVED that story."

        "Of course!" Vicky laughed, "we should have known that Katherine would be the culprit behind that. Anything she can do to make her aunt's life harder."

        Circe was already opening the portal to Athens and Nicodemus' Villa.

        Arcadia said, "Sinking a collection of islands would take divine power, unless I am wrong. I know Poseidon could do it, being the god of the sea. But I doubt your team could or would do it."

        Jason grinned. "That sexy Hel, brother to Hela, is a member of their team, Arcadia. He has divine power. But you're right... I also don't think he would sink their islands."

        Mark muttered, "...unless someone sang the My Little Pony theme song and implied him directly..."

        Irene's hearing was top-notch but she decided not to ask what that song and a Norse deity had in common.

        Trina's keen ears picked it up and she shuddered. "Hush!" she admonished Mark. "The less said on that the better."

        Gavin said, "I am sure my mother won't mind serving breakfast to the teenagers I brought with me. Then after a necessary sleep for all, we can openly discuss Hades' attempts on Arcadia's life. Oh, and mom... Hades said you were an old cow. And I know better."

        With the Portal open, Circe said, "My breast milk isn't THAT old!"

        "Are you sure about that?" Nicodemus said, stepping through the portal.

        Xanel stepped up to the portal and stepped through it. A few seconds later, his head emerged from the portal. "The others are waiting for us, guys." Then he was gone again.

        Mark smiled and bowed to Circe in the standard Magician's flair, then he strode through the portal in an impressive, though staged, manner.

        Irene giggled. "He likes to make a show, I think." She would ask what the song and deity could be about AFTER the HM team leaves the island. She didn't think the visiting teenagers would actually volunteer any information on it.

        "Mark always has an overblown flair for the dramatic," Trina explained. "That's why I love him so much. His is the only flair that can match mine," she winked as she performed a front tuck, into a handstand, then a back walkover, finally executing a Straddle Split, Somi-and-a- Half, full frontal layout through the portal.

        Vicky just shook her head as she walked toward the portal. "She's a show off. It used to be much more impressive when all she wore was the bikini," she finished disappearing through the portal.

        "Thank you again, Circe, for arranging the portal," Nicodemus said again. "I have a feeling we'll be seeing more of each other over the weekend," he winked following the others.

        Once the portal was gone, Irene had to openly ask, "What does the My Little Pony theme song and Hel have in common and why is it bad? Mark muttered something about it and Trina tried to shut him up."

        Jason remarked, "I overheard that myself with my dragon hearing and I don't have a clue what it is about. Whatever it is, it must be really awful. Hel is obviously not someone who would ever lose their temper the way those guys were implying."

        Arcadia grinned, glancing at Michelle primarily. "Oh don't be so sure... I am sure something similar has happened before with the Richfield Champions. Right Karen?"

        For the record, the Richfield Champions is actually the name of their version of the Teen Force. Their high school sports teams were the Ravens. The baseball Ravens, the football Ravens, the tennis Ravens, and the basketball Ravens. Though more collectively, the Richfield Champions more directly implied the Richards girls, Irene, Jason, and the McVanns. Roger and Arcadia are normally not implied as part of that designation, as they started as norms.

        End of Chapter Four.


          Chapter Five.

          Michelle grimaced. "Everyone knows I have a temper," she pointed out. "It's my sister that surprises everyone."

          Karen blushed. "It was only that one time," she muttered.

          "Only one time this year," Kevin chuckled.

          "You know what they say," Linda chimed in, "it's always the quiet ones."

          Circe smiled. "Enough prattle. Everyone come inside and I will make us some breakfast. And I promise that the bacon was NOT a former human." And she and Ren headed off into their main house.

          "Good," Michelle said, "I'm starving," she finished, following Circe and Ren.

          Gavin actually laughed at the joke. "See? My mom doesn't do pigs."

          "Anymore," Linda finished for him.

          Talking to the three transformed animal victims wasn't that hard and getting their stories was pretty easy. He was simply disgusted by their apparent mental conditions that bordered on gutter humor and how almost all three of them made passes at him. And that creeped him out very much. Roger was about ready to leave when he heard someone behind him.

          "I can't believe Gavin sent you to do this as a lesson. He used to be a much cleaner minded centaur boy."

          Turning around, Roger saw Hermes standing there with Pan.

          "I'll bet Skerrit put him up to it," said the famous satyr. "That elven centaur god is quite nasty minded. I know far nicer minded centaurs than that. But they do love their wine."

          Roger smiled at the two. "Hey... I am really glad to see you guys. I am having a problem with Gavin on a non-professional level. He is my mentor and master for this sorcery training, but after the lessons... he gets close and impersonal. And he's not been trying to hide it either. When I first met him, he displayed that his sole concern was for Arcadia. But after I passed his test to become his apprentice, he became... almost creepy. Like he had a crush on me and if I let him do things like that to me, I could very well be crushed. He has to weigh 1200 pounds at least. And that worries me."

          Pan hummed. "So you think Gavin is homosexual and you think that you are the object of his desire. Well, that isn't the case. All non-human myths are bisexual, leaning toward the opposite sex in preference. And when they are deprived of the opposite sex, they will turn to the same sex for companionship."

          Hermes then added, "But they usually stick to their own species; Roger is human. I know I wouldn't want Ren landing on top of me. He's over 1600 pounds."

          Roger sighed. "What should I do? I like him, but not like that. I've been dating Karen, although she and I haven't been on a real date in a while. And she's the quiet type. It's always the quiet ones you have to watch, you know. She claims it was just one time... but her power is thunder. They aren't the Richards girls for nothing, you know."

          Pan smiled as he stepped forward and placed an arm around Roger's shoulder. "Don't get me wrong, but I am all for mixed relationships. I see nothing wrong with Gavin wanting to rub on you and just be close as long as it doesn't go beyond that point. I have a son of my own... Jack Pfeiffer... and I would love to see him get married to a nice girl someday. But if he brought a nice guy, I would be just as happy for him since he made his choice himself."

          Hermes smiled too. "I heard Roger made friends with a wonderful faun boy in Ren's Summer Home in Arvandor a week ago. That faun definitely remembers you, Roger. And he is hoping he can help you further your magical studies someday soon."

          "Really? I didn't know I made friends with him, but he is a nice person. I wouldn't mind seeing him, too. Except how would I do that and not make Gavin lose his powers?"

          Pan arched an eye as he was about to dispel a lie that had been told to Roger. Leave it to Pan to let the cat out of the bag. "Lose his powers? Where did you hear such a cockamamie story like that whopper from?"

          Roger replied, "From Gavin. He said that if I missed a daily session with him for magical studies that he would lose his powers and revert back to his true form." To which Pan burst out laughing at the information, which Roger didn't think was all that funny. But there was apparently more to this than met the eye.

          Pan then turned Roger to face him as he looked him right in the eye and said, "He lied to you. Think about it... when he told you that story, did you suddenly feel like an idiot for making the deal? And did you feel obliged to do whatever he suggested? If the answers to both were yes, then you've been had. Masters use that ploy so as to make their apprentices obey their given lessons and personal suggestions. Gavin will be mad at me for telling you the truth, but Gavin's butt might be glowing when I tell Ren what Gavin did to you." Roger sighed and closed his eyes, allowing a tear to leak out and run down his face. The wise elder nature deity hugged the boy and patted his back. "I'm sorry you had to learn about this from me, Roger. You have to remember at the time that Gavin's responsibility was Arcadia only. So when you asked to learn magic from him, he tried to make you disinterested through a few tricks that he learned from his mother. However... Ren of the Northern Herd is an honest centaur and he wouldn't like to learn that his son tried to make you go away."

          End of Chapter Five.


            Chapter Six.

            Pan then remarked, "If you would like a different Sorcery teacher, your faun friend is available and he would be more than happy to teach you."

            Roger then asked, "How can I get to him when Gavin hasn't taught me the teleport spell yet?"

            Hermes replied with a smile, "Remember what you were told about personal spells that affect yourself? Think back..."

            Roger glanced over at Hermes, then back at Pan, before remembering what the faun himself had told him a few weeks ago. Any spell-like ability that effects yourself is a cantrip orison. "I was told that any spell that affected myself was a cantrip orison that took little to no power to complete. But any spell that affected others fell into a circle of power and used more energy to cast because you had to multiply your energy by however many people were being included in the spell."

            Hermes nodded his head. "That is correct, Roger. Anyone can teach you a cantrip orison. But your master is required for spells in the circles of power."

            Pan then added, "And Gavin made a grave error when he had you in Arvandor, Roger. Since he was tired from getting all of you there, he didn't remember this rule of sorcery. Your master is truly the one who helps you make your spell book. Did Gavin personally help you to make that spell book?"

            Shaking his head, Roger replied, "No... the faun did because Gavin asked me to have the faun help me make the spell book. So the faun is my real master after all. Then I have to visit him often to learn my spells. Who is going to teach me teleport, though? I get the feeling that Gavin won't if he isn't my real master."

            Hermes replied, "He isn't because even though he teleported you to this island, all of the magical knowledge he's been sharing with you is information only. Not a bit of it has been actual spells. Right?"

            Roger hummed, as he thought back over all the lessons. In fact, the only spell he had actually cast was the one to protect Arcadia and he had learned that spell from a god: Skerrit himself. Which was an exception to the master rule. So in truth, Gavin hadn't taught him any magic at all. He had merely been sharing information and using him for companionship. "Right."

            Suddenly, the three heard Circe's voice calling out, "Roger! We're preparing to head to Athens!"

            Roger grinned. "Time to go pay the piper, guys. And thanks for explaining everything and the pep talk. I really needed it. I can't wait to see Gavin get a spanking."

            Just as the Champions, along with Circe, Ren of the Northern Herd, Gavin, Hermes, and Pan were about to head off to Athens for some sightseeing and later Nicodemus' party, they saw Mark Merlin, Trina Tracker, and Mark's sister Cynthia appear in the courtyard.

            Mark called out, "Hey there, guys! Hold up for a moment!"

            Arcadia smiled when she saw Mark and Trina. "What brings you two back out here? Did Vicky drop something out in the woods?"

            Circe chuckled. "If she did, then tough luck for her. We'll find it later."

            Irene looked at Jason and said, "Somehow I don't think Vicky lost something."

            Jason nodded in agreement. "I think you are right, Irene. In fact, I'll bet they came out here because a mystery popped up in Athens and they found out something about Hades."

            Mark's sister Cynthia commented, "Funny you should say that."

            "Yes," Trina began, "apparently Hades is a complete idiot. He mistook Mark for Roger and sent him to a gorgon," she growled.

            Michelle laughed. "We all knew that Hades wasn't the brightest bulb in the box and that just confirms it."

            "Oh my," Karen gasped, looking over at Roger. "So he knows where here in the Mediterranean and assumed that we were already in Athens." She looked back at Mark, Trina, and Cynthia. "Sorry that you guys got dragged into this mess."

            "But why go after Roger and not Arcadia?" Kevin wondered aloud. "It doesn't make much sense. It isn't like Roger has done any powerful spell that would make Hades wary of his presence."

            Linda thought about it for a moment. "Unless his plan is to try to pick us off one at a time so that Arcadia is left completely alone. If he can get us all out of the way, Arcadia would have to defend herself against Hades and his horde of whatever he feels like throwing at her. But how did he know that we were here already? I thought being on Circe's island would give us a little bit of a shield against him."

            Roger said, "How could he make such a stupid mistake? Mark and I look nothing alike. And I would never wear an all white suit... no offense, Mark. It's not my style. Do I look like Mr. Roarke? Welcome to Fantasy Island! Smiles, everyone! Smiles!"

            End of Chapter Six.


              Chapter Seven.

              Arcadia laughed out loud.

              Circe said, "If this is Fantasy Island, then I get first crack at all the muscled studs and don't you forget it!"

              Gavin remarked, "MOM?!"

              Cynthia whispered to Mark and Trina, "They don't seem all that worried."

              Mark quietly replied back, "They probably deal with his incessant stupidity so much that they don't think he's a threat."

              Even Trina had to laugh at Roger's joke. "That's one of the things that attracted me to Mark, Roger," she informed him, hugging Mark.

              "On the plus side," Linda commented, "if he thinks that Roger is out of the way, Hades won't be expecting him."

              "That doesn't explain why he would want Roger out of the way to start with," Karen argued. "It's not like he's powerful enough to take out a god. Is he?" she asked, turning to Gavin.

              Michelle rolled her eyes. "He's paranoid, maybe?" she suggested. "Seriously, Hades is obsessed, does he really need a reason?"

              Jason said, "We thank you for giving us the heads up, guys... but as you were just whispering, thanks to my dragon hearing, we are so used to Hades' incessant stupidity that we really don't take him seriously. We were about to head into Athens for some sightseeing, under Circe's guiding hand, then later, dinner at Nicodemus' Tavern, and after that, his butt-day party."

              Mark hummed. "Just be careful when you wander around Athens. Not only are our team there, but most of the gods are too." He turned and looked to Cynthia and Trina. "I guess we can go back and see about digging up some other form of trouble."

              Circe smiled. "I have a suggestion for your return trip... why don't the three of you head over to Chiron's Island and visit his college? He doesn't advertise it openly, but he has educated great minds such as Jason and Perseus in the olden days."

              Cynthia hummed. "That's an idea that we could check out for Xanel. His father was trying to get him off to a college someplace."

              Mark smiled. "Yeah, you're right. And Vicky would be happy if Xanel wasn't schooling on the opposite side of the dimensions, too. See you Champions at the party!" And Mark gathered his two females and teleported for Chiron's island, a place he HAD been before.

              Circe then chuckled. "Now with that delay out of the way, let's head on over to Athens and do some sightseeing. If Hades tries anything while I am about, I'll call his wife myself."

              Soon, the Champions were walking around Athens in a group. Although Gavin wanted to be near Roger, the boy was staying between Hermes and Pan. And this didn't go unnoticed by Arcadia either since she was trying to be more alert to her surroundings. She knew something wasn't quite right, but Roger wouldn't tell her what it was. She was tempted to read his mind... if someone would teach her mind reading.

              Gavin finally broke the silence by saying, "Roger... don't you think it's time for another lesson?"

              Roger glanced at the young centaur and replied, "As soon as someone teaches me the teleport power, I'll be glad to go have a lesson with my sorcery master."

              Gavin blinked his eyes. "But I am your master, Roger."

              "According to Hermes," stated Roger. "My master is the one who helped me put together my first sorcery spell book. Is this not correct, Circe? You're the sorcery expert here."

              Circe looked at Hermes who bravely met her gaze since he didn't lie. "That is indeed correct, Roger. And you say that Gavin didn't help you craft your spell book?"

              "When he teleported our group to Arvandor to Ren's summer retreat, Gavin stated that he was tired from transporting our group to that location and he instructed me to go ask a faun to help me craft my first spell book while Gavin himself retired to his quarters to rest. And that is exactly what I did. Today, Hermes told me that the one who helped with the crafting was in truth my master. And that Gavin was only teaching me magical knowledge; not actual sorcery spells. In fact, the only spells I have cast were the spells that Skerrit provided to my spell book for free. I used a Freshen spell on Jason's backpack when he asked me to, and before that I had cast a Barrier spell to protect Arcadia from that assassin."

              Circe was now looking at Gavin directly, as Pan explained the rest of what Roger had told them about Gavin losing his powers unless Roger did as the centaur asked, which included shamelessly trying to seek companionship from a human of the same sex.

              Karen growled when she heard that and it was her sister Michelle who held her back. Talk about role reversal.

              Arcadia looked at Roger. "Is this what you were trying to tell me Friday morning?"

              End of Chapter Seven.


                Chapter Eight.

                Roger blushed and nodded his head. "Yeah, but you didn't seem to get what I was trying to say and then I started to panic and that's when I asked you to help me contact Pan... and you said Hermes was going to be there that afternoon."

                Circe, Ren, and Gavin stepped away from the group to... well, they teleported off someplace to be honest.

                Roger said, "Darn. We don't get to see Gavin get a spanking."

                "As interesting as that may be, Mr. Rogers," Hades stepped out into the open at that moment. "What happens between centaurs is a centaur affair not for human eyes."

                Hermes stepped up directly to face his uncle. "Hades... Pan and I are more than capable of handling you. Why are you here?"

                "It dawned on me that Remus and Gavin were having known deities give Arcadia her lessons in divinity. And since I am a greater power the same as my brothers, Zeus and Poseidon, I thought it necessary to tell Arcadia something that she may regret wanting to know a little earlier." He turned his gaze to Arcadia. "Earlier, you were wondering who to get to teach you mind reading."

                She blinked her eyes now. "How did you know that, Hades?" asked Arcadia.

                Hades smiled. "I know because mind reading or ESP and Telepathy are Underworld abilities. Only an underworld divinity can teach you those skills. And the only way I would ever teach you those abilities would be if you swore and promised that you would never seek a position in the Greek Pantheon. I mean, we're still dealing with Zeus' idiot son."

                Arcadia made a face, but not one of disgust. "You're right; he IS an idiot. Look at all the stupid labors he did."

                Hades arched an eye. "You don't sound very scared about my teaching you these skills."

                Arcadia replied, "I'm not because the moment you showed up, I activated my GPS PDA and now your wife is right behind you."

                That night, in Greece...

                Anyone who was anyone was at Nicodemus' party. Fireworks filled the sky. There were drinks, mystical personages, mythical creatures, and of course multiple heroes, villains, and of course, law enforcement on hand to make sure everything stayed civil.

                Hades was indeed there, too, although he didn't look like he was in any condition to party because his wife, Persephone, was also present and she had the God of the Underworld in CHAINS. Someone finally told her about Hades going after a young flit of a girl. And now you know what happens when Persephone gets angry. Move over, Hulk!

                When the Hazardous Materials team decided that they had their fill of the festivities, the Champions boarded the HM Research Cruiser and lifted off en route toward dropping off the Richfield Champions in their home town... Richfield, Virginia.

                Roger smiled at Arcadia. "Sure was nice of Persephone to teach you those underworld skills."

                Arcadia smiled back at Roger. "It was, wasn't it? And Pan gave you the Teleportation spell. I guess you and the faun boy have some lessons to catch up on, huh?"

                He shook his head. "He was at the party," said Roger. "He gave me enough homework to last until my next weekly outing with him. He said it was only necessary for us to school once a week. And he's a really nice guy, too."

                Michelle turned her attention to the centaur. "How's your rear end, Gavin?" She grinned.

                Gavin muttered, "I don't want to talk about it. Arcadia is my responsibility still."

                Irene commented, "If you hadn't been impersonal with Roger, you wouldn't have gotten a sore rump. But a spanking in private doesn't mean anything to us. Therefore, I am going to ask Remus for permission to spank you -- oriental dragon style."

                Roger and Arcadia both exclaimed, "I want to watch this time!" They both looked at each other then turned their gazes to the sky. "Right."

                Jason then asked, "Do you think we've seen the last of Hades?"

                Kevin and Linda both said at the same time, "Not a chance." Of course they were used to giving the same answer at the same time. Linda then added, "Although we may not see him for a while, he sent an assassin once; he may try that with something worse the next time." Kevin nodded his head. "And we have to be ready for that. These invasions into our nexus have to stop." Karen smiled. "Tomorrow is another day." Michelle coughed. "Karen... you slept on the cruiser. This is Sunday morning. After we watch Gavin get a real spanking, we need to go home and get ready for church." Arcadia giggled and added, "If you both kneel down and pray to me, then you won't have to go to church." Mr. Richards was suddenly there. "Um, no. Everyone in town goes to church. And that's final."

                End of Chapter Eight.


                  Chapter Nine.

                  Even though they had a full week of schooling to attend, Gavin apparently was still too distracted by his stinging bottom to educate Arcadia properly in anything. So she had the whole week off to practice what she had learned. And that suited her just fine. And even though Roger didn't have to learn magic from the centaur, he had agreed to spend every day after school with Gavin to make sure the young centaur was okay.

                  Monday Morning...

                  Roger and Irene walked to school together. It was quiet and Arcadia had already been taken by Remus earlier that morning. Besides, the two teenagers had a topic of their own to discuss. And the topic involved the school newspaper.

                  "I still don't know who to choose for the reporter position, Roger," explained the sweet girl who was in fact an Oriental green dragon beneath the surface. "Kevin called me last night and reminded me that I was to have made my decision about it by noon today. And he's right. In all the excitement, it slipped my mind."

                  The young sorcerer in training replied, "In my own view, I think it is obvious on who has more than earned it, Irene. If you think back, you can piece together who has shown more restraint and smarter intuition. Who was it who got the warning to you that Hades had come to Richfield just before the school dance on Thursday night?"

                  Irene smiled. "Yes, you're right. The only thing on Kevin's mind was getting a date with Arcadia, although his sister Linda stayed alert and brought me the photos and the report on Hades."

                  Roger winked as he patted Irene on the back briefly. "And what did she do afterward?"

                  "She assured me that she had no intention of being a pest to Arcadia, like Kevin was apparently doing," she replied. "So you think I should give the position to Linda."

                  "As Jason often says, she's about the only one he can accidentally breathe on and not change into a crispy critter," said Roger. "If that happened to Kevin, you would be out one reporter and then you'd have to hire Linda anyway."

                  Irene chuckled when Roger said that last part. "Yes, you are right. So it looks like I'll hire Linda based on the fact that during this fiasco she did manage to bring me a report on Hades where Kevin simply ogled Arcadia. And now he's fawning all over Michelle who supposedly hates him. But now she's in a spot because she once said that no boy ever wanted to be with her and now Kevin is making that effort. And if she tosses him away, then her previous statement automatically becomes a lie."

                  "Better the Richards than us, eh Irene?" said the sorcerer in training with a smile.

                  "And how," came the expected response. "By the way... Jason mentioned wanting you to spend the night with him some time. Since you aren't protected from dragon breath accidents, how are you going to handle it?"

                  "That's a good question," Roger replied looking ahead of them to the street. "I would hope that there would be some magic I could learn that would give me protection, but I'm not sure if I could learn one by the sleepover. My weekly time with the faun is coming up and I have been practicing those spells he gave me to train with. And he did explain teleportation to me, on the personal level. The Cantrip version. It is a lot harder than Gavin always made it look."

                  Irene looked at Roger. "So what is your maximum range at the moment?"

                  "I can't port to Arvandor, if that's what you mean," replied Roger with a sigh. "The faun summons and sends me when he requests my presence and to get me back home. As for my personal porting range... There are so many factors involved that I have to know. One, I have to know the landing zone. Two, I have to have visited the landing zone at least three times without magic. Three, I have to have had a full meal before the teleport; otherwise I collapse upon arrival. And four, I have to focus on the spell."

                  Irene nodded her head. "That's what I thought. Your port range is about the length of your bedroom."

                  Although the school day passed without incident, save for the one moment when one of the other boys got to be a pest to Arcadia and she hit him with the Awe Power, forcing him to go straight to the boy's bathroom and use the far back toilet... Roger stopped in at his parent's place to do his homework, then he headed over to the Remus estate to meet up with the young centaur, Gavin Whitelaw, even though he didn't have to spend any time with him at all.

                  Roger felt bad that he caused Gavin to get not one, but two spankings. Irene didn't hold back when she did it, but Roger did stop her at three tail cracks mainly because Gavin was starting to cry. And that made Roger feel even worse. So now he willingly spent time with Gavin to make it up to him.

                  He knew Arcadia was off with Irene still. And if the ladies could spend time together, then surely the guys could.

                  When he arrived at the side entrance to Remus' estate, he found the secret way in unlocked, exactly as Gavin promised it would be, and Roger quietly entered then closed and locked the door behind him so no one else would find it. After passing through the short vine covered passage, he emerged on the other side to see Gavin with two other male centaurs. This was a rare and chance sighting since Roger didn't know any other centaurs were even supposed to be there.

                  Roger quietly stopped when he saw the centaurs, but apparently they had good hearing because the youngest centaur seemed to casually turn his head to one side out of boredom and look directly at him.

                  End of Chapter Nine.


                    Chapter Ten.

                    Then the younger centaur smiled and slowly approached Roger until he stood before him. He was about the same size as Roger but had a cream like skin color and a brown hair and hide over the equine parts with black hoofs. His eyes however were aquamarine and very pretty. "Well met, stranger," the younger centaur said as he placed a hand around the back of Roger's head gently. "I am Estos of the South Slough." And he gave Roger a rather surprising and shocking soft kiss directly on the mouth that lasted longer than Roger was expecting. In fact, his head spun and his eyes glazed over from the experience.

                    When Roger's vision slowly returned to normal, his surroundings seemed different through his blurry eyes. He slowly blinked his eyes hard and when he reopened them, he tried to focus on where he was and what had just happened. Remus' estate was no longer there. Instead, Roger seemed to be standing ankle deep in a muddy stream in a strange and unknown forested location. And perhaps worse for him... he seemed to be in Estos' body. "What the? What's going on? Where am I?" He then found that he seemed to be stuck in the mud. "Oh no... I'm stuck. HELP! HELP!" He was yelling for help now because he no longer could feel his former spell ties, either. After a while, though, he stopped yelling since no one was coming and his throat was getting parched. "Okay, Roger... think... what did Estos of the South Slough do to you?" He very slowly examined his surroundings. "I'm standing in a muddy wash which is known as a slough. And it must be in the South of this land since that is where Estos is from. But if he could move around his slough, then why can't I?" He struggled to move again but it was to no avail. He was stuck fast. Almost as if he was locked to the spot. As if it was a punishment and not the younger centaur's actual home. "Is there anyone around I can talk to? Please?"

                    When he spoke that magic word of etiquette, an owl landed on his shoulder and looked him in the eye. "What do you want, Estos? You know you're being punished for trampling Lord Rillifane's medicinal garden."

                    Roger sighed. "Miss owl... I'm not Estos. My name is Roger Rogers and that stupid centaur tramp traded bodies with me when I went to visit Gavin Whitelaw at Remus' Estate in Richfield. I was a sorcerer in training and sadly, I don't know how else to prove that I am telling the truth. Could you please go tell Lord Rillifane what has happened for me? He will know the truth the moment he hears my name. I have met him before in Ren's Summer Retreat in the Greater Silverleaf Forest. We are in Arvandor, aren't we?"

                    The owl hummed. "If you are telling me the truth, then Lord Rillifane will help you. But if this is a trick, then Estos' punishment may end up being neck deep instead of only ankle deep." And the owl flew off to the north through the forest.

                    Sighing, all he could do was wait now. He hated being in this situation. "Of all the dumb spots to be stuck in," he said tiredly. "Karen will have a cow if Estos tries to pass himself off as me around her and he says the wrong thing." He blinked his eyes. "Who am I kidding? Karen would KILL him and then I'd be stuck in the body permanently!"

                    Back in Richfield...

                    "I said I was sorry, Michelle," said Kevin as he helped with the farm chores. "How come you won't give me a chance to show you that I can be a nice person?"

                    Michelle glared at the McVann pest while holding a pitchfork which she would have loved to have impaled through his chest. "Tell me who put you up to this and I might give you a chance. And don't lie because I will find out."

                    Kevin sighed as he stopped working. "At the school dance while Arcadia went off to take a powder, your dad asked me what I thought of you and I told him the truth: that I was afraid of you, but I could be convinced to spend time with you as long as I lived through it. Then he told me that you were single and you needed a boyfriend. At first, he tried to buy my being your boyfriend..."

                    "I hope you refused."

                    "I did, Michelle. It takes more than money to make me put on an act for you. Then he made a tempting offer. He somehow knew that my parents wouldn't buy me a car so... he offered to buy the car for me IF I dated you. I told him I would think about it and bring him the answer by tonight. But instead... I wanted to score some real points with you by telling you what scheme he came up with so you could deal with him for me. As I already said, I won't be bought off to date you. But I do want to date you."

                    Michelle cursed a little. "No wonder he was so cheerful this morning around breakfast." She glared at Kevin and then shook her head slightly. "Thanks for being honest. That means more to me than a boyfriend. But I don't want to die an old maid. I couldn't get lucky like Karen did... she snagged the sorcerer in training. And here I thought Irene had Roger in her pocket."

                    Kevin smirked. "I thought Jason was dating him even though he says he dates my sister. I mean, Jason and Roger are all the time together when Irene doesn't have him. But then there is Gavin. Even though Roger doesn't have to spend any time with him, he still goes over there. I keep wondering if Gavin has a spell on him."

                    "No, Jason and Linda are definitely dating," said Michelle as she looked at Kevin pointedly. "Although it may not last long. Linda has her eye on another boy and Jason doesn't know it. As for Jason and Gavin being gay? I really don't think any of our friends has even given it a thought. I mean, look what we have to put up with around here. And do you really think someone like that would last long if our parents found out? I'd have to say no. But as for a spell on Roger... that is possible."

                    About that moment, there came a massive thunder boom from the Richards house and an irate looking Karen came barreling out of the house looking as if she just experienced a conniption. In other words, she looked mad enough to rip the flesh off of Hades and anyone else who got in her way. She went straight out to the barn where Kevin and Michelle were, and she immediately started beating the punching bag set up out there relentlessly.

                    Kevin mouthed to Michelle, 'I'm not going to ask what happened. You're the sister; you do it.'

                    End of Chapter Ten.
                    End of Episode Three.

                    Stay tuned for the next episode, Another Zany Week.