Dionysus wasn't one to worry about things at camp. As a matter of fact, when things when in danger, he was usually the first one to ignore things and not care at all.
But for some reason, he seemed to be the only one concerned about this recent problem. Things were changing around camp. Dionysus couldn't put his finger on exactly what it was, just that there was something odd about the camp. And campers.
Oddly enough, no one else seemed to notice. Chiron went about things as if everything was perfectly normal, and so did Argus. Dionysus, ironically enough, seemed to be the only one who saw all of it.
Take the newest orders from Zeus. He had opened a help column, and now he wanted Dionysus to start giving out various prizes to everyone every month. Dionysus looked outside to see some Ares children ganging around someone.
"Stop it." Dionysus said. All of the campers looked at him surprised. "Don't kill him. I have to fill in paperwork each time one of you brats decides to kick the bucket or disappears, so just beat him up horribly, would you?"
Dionysus looked at his list. The first person was Percy Jackson.
Percy walked in, wondering what this whole prize system was about.
"Perseus Jackson," Dionysus began, "You have been voted number one in the category, 'Most suitable boy to wear girl's clothing.'"
"Also, you've been voted number one in the category 'Best maid outfit wearer'"
"And, finally, you've scored number one in the category, 'The guy I most wanna date-'"
"Well, that's good at least."
"-'same sex category.'" Dionysus added. It seemed Percy really couldn't take any more. Dionysus himself was pretty weirded out by the whole thing. What was this all supposed to achieve? And he personally found the categories slightly odd...
"Wait," Dionysus added. "It seems that you tied in the last category with Jason Grace."
Just that moment, Jason burst through the door. Dionysus and Percy stared at him.
"There's no way that's possible!" Jason shouted.
"What's not possible is that you burst in the moment I said that," Dionysus said. "Were you standing outside the door and eavesdropping?"
Dionysus found that he was completely ignored. Percy and Jason started arguing with each other.
"What is wrong with you two?" Dionysus asked.
"NOTHING! I JUST DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO THINK THAT I'M ON THE SAME LEVEL AS THAT LOSER!" they both shouted simultaneously while pointing to each other.
"Okay, that's it," Percy said. "You're on. Let's settle this once and for all."
"That's supposed to be my line," Jason said. Both of the demigods drew their weapons.
Dionysus knew that they were going to tear the camp apart if they fought. And also, if they died, he'd have to fill out paperwork. And he just hated paperwork.
"Why are you bothering fighting?" Dionysus asked. "What you should do is compete in a contest."
Percy and Jason lowered their weapons for an instant. What Dionysus was saying made sense. For a second.
"So, who's going to be the judge though?" Jason asked.
"No, he might favor you because he knows you better. We need an impartial judge, someone's who's not going to have to face consequences if one of us loses." Jason said.
Dionysus knew that they were soon going to ask him. He just couldn't allow that to happen.
"Why don't you ask Hades?" he suggested.
"Yes, he hates both of you equally, so I suppose that it's fine for you to go to him." Dionysus said. Jason and Percy seemed to agree and went on their way.
We now return with our much in demand, Ask Dionysus section.
Q. Last time, when you were asked about the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, you came out with a decimal. How is that possible?
A. Do not question the gods.
Q. Mr. D, I keep working at this camp all the time and though I throw my eyes all around, I don't seem to be getting respect or a something good for it. What should I do?
A. You're not going to get a pay raise, Argus.
Q. Mr. D, how can bumblebees fly even though their wings are too small for their bodies?
A. You should be more shocked as to how all of you brats can walk and talk at the same time even though your brains are too puny compared to your body mass.
Q. Mr. D, why do you drink Diet Coke instead of regular Coke? Is it because you're fat?
A. No, it just happens to taste better. And I'm not fat, my belly expands merely because it is full of godly power!
Q. Mr. D, what's so great about Pac-Man? I don't really see the appeal.
A. It's due to people like you that I'm sure that there's something wrong with society...
Hades was sitting leisurely in his throne. He kept glancing around to make sure that no one was looking at him. There was an extremely good reason for that. He had seen his son Nico going around selling these photographs all over the place. When he had finally asked him about it, Nico had said that the photos were there to cheer people up. Hades wasn't going to put up with that kind of nonsense. He'd confiscated the photos, but not until he had seen them.
The photograph had the greatest beauty he had ever seen. He had hoarded up every single one he could find and locked himself in his palace. He even kissed it once. He couldn't let Persephone see that, so he was sort of nervous...
Just then the front door smashed open.
"It's not what you think!" Hades cried until he saw that it was Percy and Jason. "Oh, it's you two."
Percy noticed that Hades had sounded relieved for some reason. He was standing next to a pile of posters and Percy saw that one of them was him in a maid outfit. It wasn't exactly how he had planned on starting the conversation.
"Lord Hades, why do have posters of Percy?" Jason asked.
"Oh, well, Nico was delivering them, and not that I wanted them or something, but I just couldn't have such stuff lift- what did you say?"
"Um, those are pictures of me," Percy said.
Percy had thought earlier that it was impossible for Hades to get any more pale, but he managed it pretty well now.
"I thought it looked familiar... excuse me for a moment," Hades said. He then ran into the bathroom and Percy and Jason could hear retching noises from inside.
Ten minutes later, Hades walked out. It was then that Jason and Percy told him about their absolutely pathetic problem.
"Fine then. I'll agree to be your judge," Hades said. "But for the contest, I think that a test of courage would be the best idea. I'll have both of you exposed to a series of things, and you merely have to keep a straight face. If one of you doesn't, he'll meet with a punishment game and have a point deducted. We'll continue on like that."
Jason and Percy thought about it. It seemed to be a pretty good idea. If they had fought, there was no real way that they could ensure that one of them wouldn't have an advantage over the other, and if they fought where each of them was strongest, they would just end up destroying a lot of stuff. A test of courage seemed to be easier to judge too, so they agreed to it.
It might have been Percy's imagination, but as they agreed to hold it next week, Hades seemed a bit too happy.
A week passed, during which Percy tried his best to stay calm in odd situations. He played poker against the Stolls, who, since they always cheated, ended up with better hands, so Percy could learn to bluff. He then watched every single horror movie he knew, Scream 1-4. World War Z, Snakes on a Plane (so he wouldn't get shocked easily), and Never say Never by Justin Bieber. That should have prepared him for almost everything.
The day came. Jason and Percy stood outside Hades' palace. They were waiting for Hades to appear, but instead Nico did.
"Yeah, I sort of helped dad with setting up this stuff. Dad's waiting inside, and just so you know, the contest starts the moment you enter the palace," Nico said.
Jason and Percy nodded and walked inside. They saw Hades sitting on his throne.
"Welcome. The rules are simple: Do not get agitated. If you do, I deduct a point and you are forced to take a bite of these," Hades then held a platter of cookies in his hand. "I made them aboveground, so they don't count as food from the Underworld, so you won't be stuck here." Jason and Percy stared at the cookies and both of them could swear that they saw the evil emanations emerging from them. Eating them would be like taking the kiss of death, they both realized.
"And for our first exhibit," Hades said, "we have this."
A small television appeared out of the shadows and began playing. Percy and Jason began looking at the screen, wondering about what they were going to encounter.
It showed Leo standing at a stadium. The audio began to play.
Today, we are going to have a presentation from Leo Valdez on how to skillfully reject girls.
"What can I say?" Leo Valdez began,"when you're just as popular with the ladies as I am, you're bound to leave around a few broken hearts. It makes being me, almost difficult."
Percy and Jason couldn't take it. They just had to cry out. To see Leo actually saying such stuff with such a straight face was unbearable.
"I told you you couldn't react," Hades said. "Punishment game for the two of you."
Percy and Jason had only taken a small bite, and their knees already felt weak. It wouldn't have been a problem if Hades had shown them tortured skulls or other normal scary things, because they would have prepared for it. But to show them things like Leo talking like that so suddenly, it should have been criminal. Both of the two demigods glared at Hades.
"Oh, well, what can I say? You two are heroes, aren't you? If you can't take this kind of stuff, you're just not brave," Hades said with a smirk.