The sun dawned above sparkling buildings, temples, and other vestiges. Golden temples reflected the brilliant sunlight, majestic and massive statues dotted the paths. Beautiful gardens in full splendor were interspersed among the buildings and paths. Grandiose, gorgeous palaces emerged in various places in the secluded location. No former human machinery could be seen, the scene austerely peaceful, in tune with nature itself.
Nymphs emerged, playfully enjoying themselves in the wonders of the marvelous city. Gods, both minor and major, emerged for the new day, relaxing and taking in the nascent beams of Apollo's chariot. It was the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, and also the day that year long demigod campers, more common than ever, were traditionally invited to the city of the gods.
The elevator that was once connected to the ancient Empire State Building before it was obliterated by the mortal World War III dinged to signal its arrival at the edge of the path next to the bridge leading to the heart of the city of Olympus.
The elevator doors opened and a group of thirty demigods exited the device before it descended back down to Earth to where the remaining four groups of demigods awaiting below to board the machine in turn to come up to the legendary location.
Trailing behind the leading, powerful demigods heading the first group of demigods already on Olympus was a young thirteen year old demigod, a blonde haired boy with intensely intelligent and calculating grey eyes that, to an unsuspecting observer, would seem to read one's very soul, have it laid bared before him. His head, however, was tilted down submissively, the young boy friendless among his fellow demigods. He had been a year long camper for four years already, but unlike in the past, he was not one of the longest occupiers of the camp, not when the real world had become so dangerous. His father had been killed before his very eyes, torn apart by vicious cyclops, sentencing him to life as an orphan in the camp forever.
His excessively powerful scent, a fact he had never understood, was like sweet perfume to the various monsters, attracting them like bees to honey. In retrospect, it was a miracle he had survived this long with the magnetism he seemed to have for monsters. It was a mystery to him and others as to why he had been cursed with such a powerful scent seemingly without any special power. In fact, his only talent was sword-fighting, which he excelled in. Even then, he wasn't the best of the best.
He must be cursed. As if his scent was not trouble enough. Every year when the boy stepped foot onto Olympus, he felt a thrum in his chest, as if something inside him was answering to a call originating from somewhere in Olympus. At first he had ignored the call, but finally, last year, he had separated from his group of demigods and had explored all the visible regions to try to find the source of the call. The past year since then had been spent anticipating another chance at finding his calling. Perhaps it would make him powerful, respected, no longer looked down upon or friendless.
However, one other problem had conflicted his mind for the past year as well.
The legend of the Six. Six demigods, the greatest of their age, joined the gods to fight against mother Earth herself, contributing massively to the impossible defeat of Gaea, the legendary primordial. Six demigods, from Romans and Greek alike. Six demigods that went on to become gods; they were legends in the camp, the last known vestiges of the great era when modernity was everywhere, when the gods lived above New York, and when the gods were hidden, not worshipped. But now, the entire world knew of Jason, Piper, Leo, Hazel, Frank, and Annabeth on the same pedestal as Heracles, as legendary heroes who lived through godly wars and ascended past the ranks of any other hero, ascending to the immortal plane.
The boy had heard rumors that the lieutenant of Athena, Annabeth, had been killed in the final battle against Gaea. But the mysteries only began. Very quiet whispers occasionally traveled around, in a very cloak and dagger way, of a mythical hero, one so powerful Kronos himself had trembled before him, a mythical hero who led the Greeks and secured Manhattan Island, the old location of Olympus, with a small group of campers against the siege of the Titan army, a son of Poseidon whose name had somehow been lost to time, whose legends and quests had become stories, not truths like the legends of Heracles and his twelve labors.
But the boy had investigated. Despite the incredible lack of information on the subject, he had discovered that the Second Titanomachy had ended merely a year or two before the beginning of the war waged on Gaea and her Gigantes. That made this myth, if he was real, the same generation as the Six themselves. Of also the same generation as the legendary lieutenant of the Hunters of Artemis, who spent their days hunting incognito throughout the world, almost never visiting camp, but whose incredible deeds were known everywhere across the world. Chiron remained tight-lipped about this era, and in none of the stories he heard could detail be found regarding the specific defeat of Gaea.
All this accompanied by the strange pulling he felt on Olympus, and lack of any offspring from the lord of the seas since the times of the myth who defeated the Titans in the Second Titanomachy seemed to be a dark secret – there was no other explanation for the lack of facts or name to attribute to one who is supposedly a Savior of Olympus nor for the lack of detail regarding Gaea's defeat.
In fact, the only way he had even heard the mention of this mythical demigod was through the tales of a son of Hades, the first in centuries. The Ghost King, Prince of the Underworld, himself had trained this son of Hades, and he was widely considered the most powerful demigod alive. The demigod had heard of this legend who had not survived the tide of times through the ramblings of some spirits, but his friends had all laughed and mocked the insanity of the spirits. The boy had eavesdropped accidentally, but he was not a fool. Even though the son of Hades would allow himself to be soothed, the worry in his eyes having dissipated, by the overtaxing joy and ignorance of his friends, the blonde haired boy was not. He knew the spirits would never lie, never weave tall tales.
As he mused, he wandered away from the group of demigods he had been sent up with, no one even noticing his absence due to his reclusive, quiet personality and lack of friends. Deep in thought, the blonde haired demigod finally jolted back to reality as he suddenly found himself in a part of Olympus mortals were not allowed to enter.
He stood now in the shadow of a massive temple, one of the largest in history. It seemed to blot Apollo's chariot out of the sky, casting darkness around the hapless demigod. The boy gulped; he could recognize the sea green embedded features in the black marble the temple was constructed of. He had never seen this temple of Poseidon... Something was wrong, as if it were either a tomb or a prison. His ever present curiosity, however, could not overpower his logical self-preservation instincts as a demigod, and he turned to walk away and obtain space to see the massive arena towering in the center of Olympus, the biggest feature in the city since it had been constructed centuries before, shortly after the end of the Gaea war.
The arena was enormous, dwarfing the rest of the city, giving the impression of a mountain among small hills. Generally, no matter one's location on Olympus, one could catch sight of the legendary construction, the location of yearly godly gladiator games, where demigods clash in order to prove their strength and gain rank and respect.
And it was for that reason the young demigod panicked when the black marble temple blocked everything, that even the arena was out of sight.
As he moved to take a step away from the temple, the small thrum of power in his chest spiked dramatically, as if forbidding the boy from moving away from the ominous temple. Almost immediately, he felt an incredible pulse of magical energy and power arise from the temple, towards him. When the pulse hit him, he was in ecstasy – the thrum in his chest flared, making him feel powerful beyond understanding, as if he was finally achieving his dreams of power and glory, something to make up for the abuse felt due to the overwrought scent he carried.
He still hesitated.
His natural instincts violently thrashed in his mind, shouting at him not to approach the temple any more, and to just leave the premises as soon as possible. On the other hand, his fatal flaw of hubris arose within him. He felt invincible, the power coursing through his veins, eyes aglow in delight. He needed more. It was like a drug. And it called from inside the temple, Poseidon's temple. An enemy's temple. Grudges passed down more often than not, unfortunately, and there was a marked lack of sons of Poseidon or Neptune to begrudge. What better way to come to glory than to mock an enemy and obtain wells of power, the pulse of magic and power he had felt from the temple still tingling across his skin, dancing invisibly but caressing him gently, as if pleading.
His instincts were strong. All his willingness could not get him to move. He stood for a few minutes as if in a trance before it was broken.
A voice, soft and beautiful, echoed reverently in his mind. A woman's voice – he had never heard anything so ancient, so dangerous but at the same time so impossibly delicate.
Light chuckling, an angelic sound that sent shivers down the boy's spine. She was in his head, whoever she was.
"Son of Athena," she murmured in his mind. "I can feel what you want. To unlock the power within. To gain the power you felt. To become great. Do you have what it takes?"
Her voice weaved through his thoughts, lowering his inhibitions, weakening his mind, distracting him. A moan escaped the son of Athena's mouth as he felt the pulse of power once again flow from the palace into him.
"Take what is yours, child," the voice whispered again, her calm voice soothing his instincts, as he took a hesitant step forward towards the temple.
"Do you not want the power, son of Athena?" she mocked, her tone light and playful as he hesitated once again.
"No," he said aloud. "I am not weak. I will be strong."
He steeled himself and began walking into the temple itself. The woman seemed pleased, her emotions echoing in his mind. The normally invasive act was not remotely so; the son of Athena had never felt more at peace or more powerful, it was the greatest feeling he ever had.
He strode rapidly through the entrance, his power exploding outwards from him violently, disabling all the security in the temple itself, a mystery to the young demigod. It had come to him subconsciously, but it had been so easy.
"Good, child, you are almost there," the woman cooed softly in his mind.
Grey eyes narrowed in determination as he walked through a small antechamber before entering an enormous black hall, with incredible murals depicted on each wall. Legendary scenes were etched into the marble, carved forever in the temple. A young boy fighting a man resembling a violent biker on a beach. A cyclops at the mercy of the boy, now slightly older. Dozens of similar images crisscrossed through the walls, gorgeous but dark.
The son of Athena ignored them all. He tuned the outside world out, not noticing anything, walking through the hall eyes partially closed as he followed the power he had felt, blind to the walls surrounding him. He attained the end of the chamber in moments, then entered a small room at the end. The room was empty – or close to empty.
A sword stood on a pedestal in front of the demigod.
But it wasn't just any sword.
Raw power emanated from it, its proximity to the son of Athena violently accelerating the thrum in his chest that had guided him. The air in the small room was heavy, a weight seemingly forcing him to his knees. It was the sword making him feel this way.
What is this?
But it's too powerful, there has to be a reason it's so isolated!
Conflicting thoughts clashed in the young demigod's mind. He could feel an incredible powerful magical defense still surrounding the sword even with his subconscious display of power much earlier.
He needed the sword.
"Yes," hissed the voice with thinly veiled joy. "Soon, it will be yours. Just let the power out of you and tear the defenses apart, son of Athena."
Once more his chest thrummed with power, then a loud explosion tore through the silence in the room, blowing him back against a wall and bruising him badly. After a few minutes recovery, now tight on time due to the noise initiated by the destruction of the magical defenses, he stood once more. Nothing mattered to him anymore than the power soon to be his.
The sword was gorgeous, a work of art. A pure white hilt, embedded with gold led into a three foot blade with a pure white blade with red life lines crossing through the blade. The air around it seemed to be sucked into the sword itself, and as he approached it reverently, a twinkle of sea green was missed during his inspection. A small letter embedded in the gold ball at the bottom of the hilt.
Suddenly surprised there hadn't been an entire army charging in here, or a single god or goddess near him, the boy gave in to his hubris.
He grabbed the hilt. Instantly he knew something was wrong.
The woman in his mind laughed sadistically, "Fool. You are not worthy of that sword. Only one is."
And then his world exploded with pain, nothing like anything he'd ever felt before. Every single nanometer of his body was on fire, inflamed beyond belief. He ripped at his own skin violently, clawing himself in a desperate attempt to end the pain. He could not control his actions, he thrashed and writhed on the ground, sword still standing regally on its pedestal. Pain receptors became suddenly million times more sensitive, pouring more and more pain than he could handle, overloading his mind as he was torn to shreds by the sheer pain running through him. He had tried to scream, but his larynx had been torn apart seconds after this torture began.
Throughout this all, the woman grinned, murmuring reverently once more, "Soon, my beloved."
The son of Athena threw himself at the walls, muscles torn apart, blood everywhere. His own fingernails had been ripped out, gouged skin and marks dotting his entire body. Just as the constant flow of pain slowed for one second, he dared to hope.
It was futile.
Slowly the boy's skin was torn off as the sword unleashed its rage on the unworthy who had dared to touch it. However, the thrumming in his chest never stopped. Then, he felt it.
The power in his chest built up, to a point where he could finally discern traces of it through his inexorable pain. Then, in a fluid motion, it ripped out of him permanently, and flew straight into the sword, which suddenly ignited with brilliant light, white filling the chamber, something that would have instantly blinded the boy if his eyes were still intact, not bloodied and shredded. The light dissipated and the sword was gone. The woman left the son of Athena's mind, and then the boy was incinerated, reduced to ashes and freed from the torture the sword wrought upon him.
Everything was pitch black. It was like a vacuum, a vast empty place further than the universe itself extended in any direction.
It was a dark place, nothing that could be seen with mortal and most immortal eyes.
In this prison realm one man seemed to hover, isolated and dormant in the black void.
The man had been imprisoned for centuries, attacked and forced into deep sleep similar to what Gaea herself underwent. For centuries he had remained dormant, slowly gaining back his power that had been torn from him when he had been imprisoned. For centuries he had floated in isolation, unaware of time itself passing.
However slowly, though, the man had been regaining his conscious slowly, parts of him beginning to seep out of cracks in what was once the perfect prison.
But then again, he was the only thing on Earth not controlled by the Fates. His sheer determination had led him to this point, to become what he had become. But it didn't matter.
He heard her, her beautiful tones echoing in the part of his mind awakened.
"Soon," she said lovingly.
The small part of his mind that was now awakened flared at her words, and he knew then.
Suddenly, a massive burst of white light tore through the black void, bathing its lord in its power. The man could feel his domain's essence spread across his body, accelerating his awakening. Finally, he could feel the light again, not the accursed darkness that had imprisoned him for so many centuries. The light remained alight, a blinding white that would have incinerated lesser beings. It took all the small power his mind could control at the moment to maintain it, but it paid off handsomely. Another shock of white light ignited the dark realm, and the man woke.
His eyes snapped open for the first time in centuries. They glowed with an eerie white, eyes pulsing with raw power that Gaea herself would tremble.
He held his hand out and it appeared.
His sword hummed with happiness, his violent power channeled through the blade and amplified even more, slowly tearing a rip in this realm back to his home.
He ran a finger along his blade, reveling in its feel for the first time in centuries.
"I'm back," his voice rumbled from years of disuse as he drew on his vast reserves of energy to power through the incredibly designed prison realm he was trapped in.
A wicked gleam shone in his eyes as his lips twisted up in a cruel smirk.
Soon they would be reunited.