Georgina was perched at the top of one of Delphi's columns.

Rose was tucked behind a piece of stonework, guarded by a handful of skeletons.

Morris and Nico were camouflaged and working their way toward Python, flanked by a legion of skeletons.

Will was behind a separate column, ordering and re-ordering medical supplies as he waited for the inevitable.

When Rose started playing, it took a lot of self-control for Nico not to fall asleep, too. Will's kiss had worked quite literal magic, but he could feel his strength sapping the longer he willed the skeletons forward. If the ambush became a battle, he might be in danger of needing another kiss.

He decided not to think about that.

Python's eyes had been closed, his tail flicking like a dog chasing rabbits in its sleep. But gradually, as the demigods advanced, the 'earth dragon' looked for all the world like a coma patient. Nico found himself wondering what would happen if Rose's music teamed up with Piper's charmspeak.

So swiftly he wouldn't have noticed if he hadn't been listening out, Nico heard Georgina's first arrow fly over his head. It landed diagonally to her perch; the furthest part of the net. Quick as a flash she let loose two dozen others, all rigged with Cabin Nine's favourite unbreakable wire. Rose's music never wavered, so if things had gone to plan any one of them could have lopped off Python's head.

Of course, that was when he chose to let out an enormous snore.

As loud as an earthquake, the noise reverberated through the mountains, causing Georgina's arrows to sway in the ground. The net creaked and that—or his own snores—woke Python up.

He was not amused to find himself trapped. With a roar he sent out a hurricane of fire that engulfed Rose's hiding place. Her music stopped with a shriek and Will was immediately there, running through the inferno (note to self: skeletons fuel dragon fire).

"Guys! Get in quick!" Georgina yelled. Her column was swaying dangerously; she had shimmied up one as close to Python as possible, but she was almost thrown off as Python thrashed under the net. Morris, the skeletons and Nico bounded forward, slashing and stabbing every part of the dragon they could reach, but Nico realised too late that they were only angering Python, fuelling his rage with pain. Georgina managed to send two arrows through each eye before jumping off her column and landing on a stone slab as easily as jumping the last step from a staircase.

She sent more arrows out at close range but was soon literally in the firing line—then Will was there, wielding a knife—Nico and Morris had to retreat; the skeletons were fading and so was Nico—where was Rose? Had she survived?—Georgina was out of arrows and Python was almost free of the net, clawing at her—his tail nearly crushed Morris, catching him in the ribs—Nico was dissolving into the shadows again—

With a yell, Will ran close enough to Python to decapitate his head in one swift motion, but not before he too was submerged in flames—

Nico blacked out.


When he realised that he was the last person standing, Morris was not impressed.

He didn't want to be the one who single-handedly carried four unconscious people to a safe distance from Python's two-part corpse, nor did he want to be the one who said a prayer to Apollo asking him to heal his children for services rendered. He did not want to be the one who greeted Apollo when he appeared in a flurry of gold light, immediately muttered incantations and conjured enough ambrosia and nectar for everyone, including Nico and Morris. With a wave of his hand, Apollo fixed Morris's ribs and solidified Nico, who had been dangerously close to evaporating from the power of his skeleton army. He attended to Will's burns (not as bad as they looked, although most of his hair and eyebrows were gone) and to Georgina's ravaged side. He only stopped when he got to Rose.

He shrugged and his expression was clear. No more attendance needed. Miraculously, Will had managed to clean and cover her burns, pull her clear of the smoke and feed her nectar and ambrosia before joining the fight himself. She would have bad scarring—so would Georgina—but a few weeks in the camp hospital and she would be back on her feet.

Morris didn't want to be holding Nico's hand when he woke up, babbling about their relationship and asking for space and for forgiveness for kissing Will.

He didn't want to help him into Apollo's sun chariot and agree to everything Nico suggested.

But he did.

... and that concludes this commission. Thank you to Cerulaen for the edits and Ragemoon for her patience!