Alright here's the next chapter, sorry about not updating. Lately I've been sick, and with college classes going on, as well as a new job, life's been a little hectic, but I'll try my best to get my updates out!
Don't forget to review!
For a few moments it was silent between the huntresses and Percy. Nobody moved, the air filled with a slight tension; the only sound was from the cold wind as it blew through the forest. Percy looked at his cousin and… was friend too strong a word for Zoe? Previous comrade might be a more fitting word for the man hating huntress.
"Soooooo…" Percy dragged the word out, trying to break the tension, and being a total failure at it. "How's it going?" Thalia and the hunters stood still, not even a shift in posture or a twitch, one of the hunters turned towards Thalia with a questioning look.
"Do…we know this guy?" Thalia glanced at the hunter that spoke before turning her gaze back to Percy; she seemed a little bit confused. Maybe because she thought they might not ever see each other in the middle of the woods, usually the hunters found him, not the other way around.
"Is that really you Percy?" Percy nodded his head positively, and held out his palm to the sky as a sphere of water formed above it. Thalia seemed to sigh in relief, and then she gave him a scrutinizing look. "What's going on Sea weed brain, first we were minding our own business and next thing we know is that we're in someplace we've never seen before. Then Zoe shows up out of nowhere, we can't locate Lady Artemis, nobody speaks English and then that thing," She points at the charcoal body of the Yoma. "shows up and now here you are."
"What? No hugs first, I feel a bit unwanted here." Percy spoke as he held out his arms in an open invitation. Thalia glared at him and Percy smiled at her cheekily, for a moment the glare held before Thalia's glare softened and she put her bow and arrow up before rushing into his arms and hugged him.
"Gods, I missed you sea weed brain, everybody has." Thalia said as she hugged him and Percy held his cousin close as they embraced for the first time in a long while. As they hugged Percy could smell her, and he had to say she smelt interesting, a mix of ozone, something sharp and wild as well, and a mix of evergreen and forest. The hunters looked at one another unsure of what was happening, and slowly they lowered their guards.
"It is good to see you are well, Percy." Zoe said as Percy and Thalia disengaged from the hug, Percy looked at Zoe and nodded his head to her.
"It's surprising to see you up and around again, Zoe. I thought once you died you were supposed to stay that way." Percy smiled as Zoe let out a small chuckle before she looked at him seriously.
"I don't know what happened, but one moment I was in the stars, the next I am here," She gestured to the world around us. "Lying in a glade and in the clothes I died in, perhaps thee could share some insight into this world around us; as thee seems to have been here longer than us." Percy laughed at that, that was true, but the fact she was willing to ask him, a male, for help made him realize how serious this was, and how unnerved they were.
"Well," he rubbed the back of my head as he tried to find out how to explain it to them all. "Just how long have you guys been here?" Percy asked, Thalia thought for a moment before looking at her subordinates.
"What do you guys think, about three weeks sound right?" The other hunters nodded their agreement. "So, yeah about three weeks, how long have you been here?" Thalia asked, 'I've definitely been here longer than they have, by about two or three years.'
"About…two, maybe three years, I kind of lost track to be honest, how long have I been gone back home?" Thalia gulped and looked at Percy.
"Percy nobody's seen you for a year." She admitted, 'Well turns out that time doesn't flow normally back home and here.' Percy thought to himself. "Percy, just what's going on?" Thalia pressed her first question, he shrugged my shoulders.
"Oh you know, Gaea making a deal with Chronos and sending me to a different earth, fighting monsters, traveling, the usual." Thalia gaped at Percy as he passed off a primordial entity cursing him as an everyday thing, but then again for him it was rather normal, right up there with fighting the titan of time.
"Wait…you said alternate Earth?" Percy nodded his head at Thalia's question as the hunters erupted in quiet whispers. "Percy, let me get this straight" Thalia spoke as she held a hand up to stop any questions or comments. "We are in an alternate reality, with no way back, monsters roaming around, and gods knows what else, is there anything else?" Percy paused a moment then nodded his head.
"Yeah," He spoke without any hint of how crazy it all sounded. "Sounds about right, so what all of you guys want to know?" He asked and Thalia stared at him incredulously, Zoe joined her in the stare as well.
"You might want to start at the beginning, but before that we should head back to camp." Thalia motioned for Percy to follow, as they were about to begin their trek one of the hunters walked up to Thalia and grabbed her by the arm.
"Lieutenant, you cannot be serious!" The hunter hissed out, her hood had been lowered revealing herself to be about thirteen years old or so, with a head of brown spiky hair, and green eyes. She was seething at Percy's apparent invitation to their camp and most of the other hunters seemed to be in agreement, though a few seemed to be okay with it.
"Mina," Thalia removed the girls hold on her arm and rested her own on the younger looking girls shoulders, younger looking because in the hunt you never know how old someone is, and if you ask you tend to get shot, stabbed, pranked, beat up, and generally screwed over. "I know you don't like males in general, but Percy here," Percy waved at her happily, which got a sigh from Thalia and a roll of the eyes from Zoe. "Is an exception, he's good people, he's my cousin, saved my butt more than once, and even helped Lady Artemis and has done his damnedest at trying to help us out when he can."
"But he's a male." Mina insisted causing Thalia to sigh again. "We can't trust him." As his cousin and her subordinate argued Percy noticed that the hunters had begun to remove the arrows from the corpse of the Yoma, some making faces as the arrows were freed with squelching noises and trails of purple gore hanging off them.
"We can, and we will, Percy hasn't betrayed us once before, and he's even earned the respect, however small an amount that might be, from Lady Artemis." Mina looked ready to continue the argument, but Thalia was having none of it. "I'll vouch for him, so will Zoe," Cue a nod from said huntress "and that's the end of it, if it will make you any happier Percy will be sleeping outside of the camp, that's if he does stay that long."
The hunters nodded grudgingly and Thalia let go of Mina's shoulders and continued on, Percy following in her wake. Mina glared at Percy and kept a firm hold on a knife at her waist as she walked behind him. Zoe patted the girl on the shoulder before advancing ahead and walking side by side with Percy.
"So, how hast thee been?" Zoe started the conversation with her Shakespearian dialect. Percy wondered if she'd ever learn to speak normally, if they were back home and the future passed would she be speaking like he normally did and the modern generation think her weird for it. 'Food for thought.' Percy thought to himself.
"Oh you know, getting chased by monsters, attacked by bandits, learned to speak a new language." Percy shrugged and Zoe gave him a curious look. "The outside world isn't our own, the people here, they live like the medieval ages, and they speak German, that and there's no mist." Zoe stumbled from his casual admittance to the fact that the mist was nonexistent in this place.
"Surely you jest?" She asked and Percy shook his head negatively.
"I'll try and explain what's been happening whenever we reach your camp." Percy assured her. Zoe looked like she wanted to ask more but refrained from doing so, since he was going to explain to all of them at once and for him it would be easier to say it one time rather than two.
As the group passed through the snowy and frigid forest Zoe took a moment to study her friend and comrade, he was different than she remembered. She could see he stood taller and straighter than before, like he had gained a confidence that had eluded him for years, his steps were quieter than when she last saw and heard him, it was like he had become a hunter rather than the hunted as most demigods were.
His face was the biggest change in her opinion, rather than the mostly unblemished face of a fourteen year old demigod that had been her last memory of him; his eyes were harder than before like under the warmth, compassion and trust that she and the others had been used to there was something new under that. A series of emotions hidden beneath the ones that he trusted them with, what the emotions he was hiding were was anyone's guess.
Under his eyes were dark bags that signified a lack of sleep and something that had been troubling him, what exactly was troubling him made her curious, but she reserved her questions for later.
As the group marched Percy couldn't help but wonder what was next, sure he had two of his friends back from his own world, with one of them back among the living, and the other his cousin, but that meant he would have to defend them if it got too hectic. If mortals showed up, and knowing his own, Thalia's, and Zoe's luck they would, then he would be forced to kill them, after all if they escaped more would show up.
He was afraid, he could admit that much, afraid of his two friends judging him based on what he would do, on what he had done. He had spilled blood, both crimson and violet, across the land and left the bodies of his enemies where they fell. If his friends could see the trail of corpses that littered his wake he wondered what would they think of him, still their old friend Percy, with a few changes? Or would they see him as something else, a monster to be put down?
So Percy did what he almost always did when faced with these questions. Put them in the back of his mind and cross those bridges when he comes to them.
With the thoughts of his friend's judgment in the back of his mind he came back to reality in time to see a small group of tents, all white, surrounding a little dug out pit with a fire in the center. There were a few hunters milling about, about three or four wolves were also in sight, the few hunters that were in the camp saw Thalia and were immediately in front of her.
When they caught sight of Percy however, their entire demeanor changed from happy to hostile. Percy kept by Zoe's side as Thalia dealt with the upset huntresses, he could make out a faint twitch of Zoe's lips from the corner of his vision but paid it no mind. She wasn't the one that would be threatened by castration if things went sideways; he preferred the organs that made him a male right where they were thank you very much.
After four minutes of ceaseless arguing the hunters dispersed to the circle around the fire and the group Percy arrived with did the same. Percy was seated on a log next to Zoe and the huntress that had been very upset by him coming earlier, Mina he thought her name was, judging by the way she was fingering the hilt of her knife he guessed she was still upset. Thalia was seated on the opposite side of the small flame on top of a little wooden stool; the various hunters were gathered around the fire in a circle, and each one had their eyes on him.
Percy shrugged his pack off his shoulders and set it at his feet, Gae Bulg he set the end on the ground and let the rest of the spear lean against his shoulder. Percy released a sigh of relief as he rested on the log, then he took a moment to look around the assembled people, about a dozen or so in total.
"What," Percy began as his gaze once again found the electric blue eyes of Thalia, "What do you know so far? It'd be easier for me if I know what I can skip over some parts." Thalia shrugged her shoulders in response to the question.
"Just like a typical male." One of the hunters muttered under her breath to another who nodded her head in agreement. "Always looking to make it easier for themselves and give the women more work." They hadn't meant for the comment to be heard by anyone else but with the changes the Yoki had wrought through him Percy's hearing was increased so he picked up on the comment.
"You know," Percy said and he raised his head to look up at the canopy of trees above, his eyes flickered to the two hunters who made the comment briefly. "If you're going to insult me, at least have the balls to do it to my face…oh wait, I forgot, you don't have any." His tone became mocking as he looked at the two and put on a mocking smile as he watched them grit their teeth.
The other hunters bristled, but Thalia snickered into her hand and Zoe gave Percy a curious look. She didn't remember him being a smartass and mocking the last time they saw one another.
"Wow Percy," Thalia spoke up as she came over the urge to laugh at her cousin, but also wanted to fry him for insulting the hunt. "Didn't see that one coming. Back to matters at hand though, we haven't left this forest much and have had a handful of encounters with mortals, though they speak only German, I think, plus all that you told us earlier is about all we know."
Percy sighed and lowered his head. "So, basically you know nothing?" Thalia shrugged her shoulders and Percy decided to begin his explanation. "From what I know we are in a separate reality, a parallel dimension where different choices were made and things changed." Thalia raised her hand and Percy could probably guess her question but he let her speak any way.
"How could you even begin to guess at that?" Percy grinned at her and Thalia had the distinct impression that she was not going to like his answer.
"Why the Fates told me, they have that rather nasty tendency of showing up out of nowhere." For a few moments there was silence, no one spoke or said a thing as Percy sat there smiling at them all. Then as one the huntresses burst into shouts and yelling, most of them throwing accusations at him that he was a lying male who was good for nothing. Others questioned on how all of this was possible, Zoe and Thalia tried to get the hunt to calm down but the hunt seemed to be in a frenzy that would not be calming any time soon.
Percy's smile seemed to twitch and his eyes closed as he the huntresses continued to accuse him of falsifying information. As the yells and shouts of the man haters continued, Percy searched for the Yoki he possessed and decided to put it to good use.
Thalia tried to calm the hunters but they were not planning on stopping any time soon, a few looked ready to draw their bows and kill Percy where he sat, just as Thalia was about to call upon the thunder and lightning her blood allowed her to use she felt something. It was a feeling that caused her and the hunt to fall silent, all frozen mid speech and unable to move.
She turned around slowly trying to lay her eyes upon the source of this feeling, even though a primal piece part of her a of her brain screamed at her not to make a move, what she found was Percy sitting on the log and smiling, his eyes closed as his smile never left his face.
"This," Percy began "is what you're going to be facing if you keep it up, though this is just a taste of what will come, so either you all shut up and heed my advice or I leave and you can try to deal with something with a power a hundred fold of this, your choice." The hunt remained quiet as Percy let the Yoki fade away and dissipate into his blood. Slowly, ever so slowly the hunters sat down and forced themselves to relax.
"Good, now that we're all calm, or relatively so," A glance at Mina through narrowly opened eyes, that were closed to hide the changes from the Yoki, revealed her to be glaring at him but her hand trembled slightly, from anger or fear Percy couldn't tell. "Now, from what I've gathered we are on an island, a big one at that."
"Define big." Thalia spoke up as she rested her back against a log nonchalantly, or tried to, Percy could still see she was unnerved by the tension in her shoulders and the narrowing of her eyes.
"Probably about the size of Brazil, maybe give or take a few dozen miles." Percy spoke up after a moment's consideration. "Now, there is no mist," A round of murmurs broke out, all whispering about the statement. "the monsters here, like the one earlier have found a way around that." Thalia and Zoe raised their eyebrows at Percy. "They can turn into a human anytime and have a tendency to play mind games with their prey before devouring them."
"Wait you mean like with Ms. Dodds?" Thalia asked referring to his previous demonic math teacher who took the form of a wrinkly old hag, it wasn't a far off comparison, but still not exactly right.
"Not exactly, but close. They can be young, old, sick, healthy, and can fake emotions with the best con artists." Thalia looked about ready to make a sarcastic remark about her cousin's speech but stopped as she saw his face was serious, and she held her tongue for now. "The Yoma, as the monsters here are called, are very different from the ones we're used to fighting. They don't die at the touch of celestial bronze, silver, or other godly metals, you have to kill them like you'd kill a mortal, except they have regeneration and are wicked fast."
Zoe gulped slightly as she looked at Percy, his eyes were hard and below the steel on the surface was a hint of something, something that was not good for anyone. "Anything works against them, including steel blades, but godly metal makes them burn, like you saw earlier." Zoe's mind brought up the memory of the charred body. "To make sure they die I'd recommend cutting the head off or take out their brain or spine.
"The Yoma like to play with their prey usually, don't trust anyone out there no matter who they are, or their condition. To counter act this tool you can just cut them," To emphasize his point Percy drew a knife and drew it across his fingers, a long line of dark red blood spilling down the digits. "Yoma bleed purple blood compared to human crimson." Putting the knife away he showed the cut digits and the bloodied fingers to the hunt and then rubbed said digits in the snow.
The snow melted under the heat from his blood and the water resulted from that melting mended the wound. "Then there's the Claymores, or 'The Silver Eyed Witches' as the people call them. They specialize in fighting the Yoma, for a price." Pulling his fingers out of the snow he inspected the unblemished skin and then continued on. "They are created by The Organization, it's what they call themselves so don't blame me for the lame ass excuse of a name."
At that Thalia did snicker, Zoe cracked a smile, and the hunters scowled. Percy looked at the hunters with an expression that seemed like he was waiting for them to comment on his comedic genius, when none came he scowled. "You guys really, and I mean really, need to learn how to laugh." The hunters scowled even further. "Okay, moving on. The Claymores, named after the sword they carry, can combat the Yoma effectively, because they are part Yoma, usually one half." Thalia and the Hunters made faces at that, wondering who in their right minds would have sex with a monster like the one earlier.
Percy evidently caught up on their train of thought. "Now they aren't half Yoma, not like how we're half godling, no human were would get together with one of those things. Rather the Organization found a way to implant Yoma flesh into a human and grant them the abilities similar if not identical to the Yoma." Percy explained and the hunters lost their disgusted faces. "The Claymores are very secretive, and there's more I could tell you, but I won't as it's not my place to tell you, yet."
Percy shifted on his log as the fire crackled and popped releasing a burst of embers into the air. "Anyway back onto the Yoma, there are about three or four types of them, the normal ones like earlier are the weakest." A few of the hunters gulped trying to imagine what the other Yoma would be like if one that could take dozens of shots and keep going was the weakest.
"Then there are the awakened beings, they being the smarter ones, the reason for this is that they were once human." That drew the hunter's attentions, monsters that had been human? It sounded like the olden days in Greece where the gods punished mortals and turned them into creatures with terrifying natures and repulsive appearance. "They were people who were…corrupted by the Yoma's power, like Claymores who let the power go wild."
"So what you're saying," Thalia began as she gripped the haft of her spear with a white knuckle grip. "Is that these, Awakened Beings, are or rather were Claymores that turned into them." Percy paused for a moment, clearly not expecting his cousin to pick up on the fact he hinted at, and then nodded his head affirmative.
"More or less, anyway the awakened beings are smarter, stronger, and occasionally as armored as a tank. After them are the Voracious Eaters, Yoma that are old and powerful, they are Called Voracious Eaters because they will devour anything that gets in their way. They are more powerful than awakened beings, but take decades even centuries to become as powerful as they are."
"How powerful are we talking about here?" Asked one of the hunters, sounding less threatening than the rest of her sisters had been, Percy took a moment to debate the levels of power he could compare them to that the hunters would be familiar with.
"I personally haven't had the misfortune to face one yet, thank the gods, but from what I've gathered I'd say a voracious eater could take on the U.S military and come out on top, maybe even a minor god if they get lucky." That shocked the hunters, a monster that could take on a god? It was fairly inconceivable; in the old days in Ancient Greece when the gods were young it might've been believable.
"The reason I say this is because unlike the regular Yoma that they move up from, these ones are smarter, stronger; faster and could in theory to be as big as a town, and with their regeneration and armor they could tank armor piercing rounds easily. But until we get a tank or something to test the theory or face one ourselves then all of this is just speculation." Percy spoke as he glanced at the gathered huntresses, they seemed slightly disturbed, and who wouldn't be? There were monsters out there outside of their little camp that could take on beings that were powerful enough to wipe you out with a thought.
"The Voracious Eaters are not the top of the food chain though, no the top stop belongs to the Abyssal Ones, the equivalent of the Big Three." The hunters looked at him in morbid curiosity, the thought of a monster equivalent of the Big Three was terrifying. "The Island is divided into four sections, ruled by the Big Four as I have come to call them." Thalia let out a snort of repressed laughter, making Percy give her a sarcastic look of mock humor.
"Yes, yes, laugh it up Thalia, go ahead all of you laugh at my comedic genius." The hunters let out a few snorts of laughter at his supposed stupidity. When they were finished Percy began again. "Anyway, the Big Four," Cue snorts of laughter, "are One, the Organization, which controls the east." He pointed towards the Organizations direction. "To the north is Isley, the sole male Abyssal." He pointed towards the snowy mountains of the north.
"Wait, the others are female?" One of the hunters asked and Percy nodded his head affirmatively. The Girls grinned and secretly reveled in the fact that the majority of power resided in the women.
"That aint exactly something to be proud of, you know?" Percy gave them questioning looks and the hunters turned to him curiously, some thinking that he was jealous of the fact that women, even if they were monsters, could kick his ass. "Claymores become Awakened Beings because thy grow power hungry and let the Yoki, the power the Yoma use, run rampant and uncontrolled. So essentially what happened was that they couldn't stop themselves, and become greedy."
That stopped the hunters in their tiny, miniscule really, celebrations of men being on the lower ranks of power scaling. "But the other reason that there are more females than male awakened beings is that the Organization found that the women could last longer when using Yoki and didn't turn quite as fast as females."
"So the women became the main source of Claymores because they can handle the power better?" Mina asked and Percy nodded. "Still proves that men are more power hungry than women." The other hunters nodded and grinned at each other, Thalia snickered at her cousin.
"They got you beat there Perce." Percy nodded his head and sighed.
"Yeah I suppose they do, but back to the lecture of the pecking order." Zoe looked confused and Thalia grinned at her cousin. "The Abyssal's are all former number one ranked Claymores, the strongest ones that weren't killed before they turned. To the west is Riful, where the breadbasket of the island is. Lastly is Luciela, who controls the South, she is the weakest of the Abyssal's, but is far from weak."
"How did thee come by this information?" Zoe asked, speaking up for the first time during the little lecture.
"I met a few of the Claymores, fought beside them and managed to get a little information from them. The information I just gave all of you is kept very hush, hush by the organization, only Claymore's and a few others might know what you all now know, so keep your lips shut unless you want a hit squad coming after you." The hunters glared and Mina tightened the grip on her knife even further.
"Is that a threat, boy?" Mina growled through grit teeth, Percy turned to look at her from the corner of his eye. Then he turned his gaze back to the other hunters and ignored her glare.
"No, it's a promise, the Organization is not to be trifled with. There are rumors that they heard Yoma towards towns and villages that are unable to pay for the Yoma killed by the Claymores they dispatch." Percy spoke nonchalantly. "Again their just rumors, but I wouldn't be surprised if they sent Claymores or worse after you, they'd probably capture you, then brainwash you and turn you into another mindless drone to use and throw away at their convenience." The hunters stared at him, Thalia looked concerned as did Zoe.
"What are you talking about?" Thalia asked as she sat up straighter. Percy looked her in the eyes and began to explain, at least what he could say was fact and not based off his own thoughts.
"The Claymores are taken in as young children and trained to become the Organizations hit women if you will, they kill what they are told to kill, go where they are told to go, and tend to just be the Organizations attack dogs, a few of them enjoy being able to kill, others don't give a damn, but there are a few who are trying to find a way out of the Organization and I plan on helping them." Percy told her, and Thalia had to admit she hardly ever saw her cousin this serious, even during the Second Titan War he was hardly this serious.
"How do you plan on doing that?" Mina asked, she sounded less hostile as before and more curious than anything. Percy looked down at his feet and the layer of snow on the ground.
"Ideally I'd like to get them off this island and tear down the Organization and Abyssal one's as well, but another alternative that could possibly, and I mean slim to none chance of possibility, is that I can get them back to our home world, our earth and give them a more peaceful life." He glanced at Thalia then. "And with your appearance that possibility just got a little bit more fathomable."
"And how, pray tell," Zoe began "Do you plan on getting back to our world?" Percy smiled at her, one that seemed combined his crooked smirk with a hint of mischievousness.
"I plan on finding the gods that reside here, wherever they may be, and either I make a deal with them or I beat them into a bloody pulp until they agree." Thalia and the other hunters gaped at Percy, while Zoe, surprisingly, did a face palm. "What? It's a valid idea and plan, it's worked before hasn't it?"
"Percy," Thalia began as she rubbed her temples. "I don't think that's going to fly." Percy huffed but let it go, it was as he said before a slim to none possibility.
"Well, whatever, not like there's a better way off this planet, dimension, whatever this" Here Percy gestured to the world in general "is." For a long while everyone was silent, no one spoke just throwing glances of varying emotion to one another.
"So what now?" Asked Thalia, Percy looked at her then at the massed huntresses. "What are you going to do now, Percy?" Percy looked back at his cousin and Zoe and the assembled girls also gazed at him curiously.
"Now?" Percy began as he shrugged his shoulders. "Now, I'll rest for the night I think, but come tomorrow I'll most likely be heading further north." At their curious gazes he elaborated. "There's….something out there," he gestured northwards towards the odd feeling he was getting. "Something tells me something, or someone is out there, and I need to find out who or what it is."
"Percy," Thalia stood up to approach her cousin who stood as well. "Are you sure that's a good idea?" In response Percy shrugged his shoulders.
"A good idea, probably not, but it's something. Truth is I'd rather be going against insurmountable odds rather than sitting around with my thumb up my ass." Thalia looked at him with an odd look; she had never heard Percy swear, except in Greek, so casually.
"Are you sure you're okay Seaweed brain?" Thalia asked as she reached out to grasp her cousin's shoulder. When her hand reached its destination she found he was warm, abnormally so, like a hot furnace. "Jesus Percy, you're burning up." Percy turned to look at her and shrugged, his eyes closing.
"I feel fine, and I'm not exactly 'fine' per say, a lot can change in three years." Thalia raised her brows at him. "Time flows differently here, a year for you guys is about two maybe three over here. And here in this world," Percy raised his hands up and turned around, till he was again facing Thalia, gesturing to the world. "Everything is different than it was back home. There are no enforcers of the law, there is only you, your blades, and those you know without a doubt would watch your back."
"Is that it sea weed brain?" Thalia asked as she leaned back slightly, her arms crossed across her chest. "Doesn't sound so bad." 'Not so bad she says,' Percy thought to himself. 'She has no idea what she's getting into.'
"Whatever pinecone face," Percy muttered before starting to walk out of the makeshift camp of the huntresses. "I think we're done for now, I'll be resting if you need me." With that he turned and left the huntresses to talk amongst themselves. Passing a small barricade they had set up that was essentially rows of sharpened stakes in the ground, along with what seemed to be barbed wire, he found himself once more in the snowy forest.
"Might as well get comfortable." Percy muttered as he gathered sticks and eventually made himself cozy with his back to an evergreen with a small fire in front of him. Gae bulg rested on his right while his pack rested on his left. Just like that he was alone, behind him, back in the hunter's camp, he could hear a few talking, shouting, and going about their day. The wolves that had come with them were also patrolling the perimeter of the camp.
Percy stared out into the forest and let himself bring the Yoki that sifted through him to the forefront, his senses enhanced themselves, and the whispers returned. Eventually he let the power stopper off, just below the mark where his appearance would change, but still enough to make him very nearly inhuman. For hours, it was like it had been minutes to him; he sat there and listened to the sounds beyond him. He lost track of time, because when he came back to the present Zoe was sitting beside him and gazing in the same direction he was.
Percy would steadfastly deny screaming like a girl and leaping away, but that still didn't stop Zoe from laughing. For a few moments Zoe laughed as he stood up and was still gripping the wrapped form of Gae Bulg. Then he sighed and sagged in relief while placing his left hand over his heart and using Gae Bulg in his right to steady himself. "Jesus H Christ, Zoe, are you trying to give me a heart attack?"
The ancient huntress smiled and shrugged her shoulders as she sat down near the fire. "Twas not my intention, but still thy reactions are…amusing." Percy deflated and crumpled back down into his previous position. "Still," Zoe continued, "What has thee so… stressed?" She asked. Percy looked at her then turned his gaze back to the darkened woods beyond.
"There is evil here, Zoe." He began, his tone serious, no nonsense, and also worrying, one Zoe hadn't dreamt of hearing from him. "It takes many forms, each one suited to a purpose, a role. Each purpose to rob you of something, your life, your soul, your belongings, your friends, you name it and I guarantee you there is an evil out there crafted to rip it away." He sighed and slumped back against the tree.
"What has me stressed, you ask?" He asked as he stared into the forest. "What has me stressed is the fact that there is probably someone, or something out there," He gestured into the woods before them. "And they would like nothing more than to do the worst things imaginable, both imagined by humans and monsters alike, to you and the others. For there are things worse than death, and they have no problem subjecting people to such a fate."
Zoe looked at Percy, really looked, the kind boy of fourteen she knew was gone. In his place was this man, maybe not a man at all anymore and more of a creature, he looked tired. Resigned, yet ready to do what needed to be done, what he felt needed to be done. "Geez that nearly sounded poetic." A voice from behind them spoke up and Zoe turned her head slightly to see Thalia standing there with her Spear drawn.
She was using the spear as an impromptu walking stick as she walked over and stood slightly behind Percy and at Zoe's side. "Have you managed to go insane and somehow become a poetic and philosophical thinker since you got here?" Thalia asked as she grinned, all of it in good humor.
Percy didn't react, merely kept staring into the woods, then after a moment, in which Thalia's smile slowly receded, he spoke. "I'm not insane," He started out slowly and Thalia huffed, while Zoe rolled her eyes. "My perception of reality is just different than yours."
Zoe looked at him thoughtfully while Thalia snorted. "What a roundabout answer you have there." Zoe murmured.
"Well at least we know you're not insane." When Percy gave her a curious look Thalia shrugged. "Insane people never admit they're insane." She explained, Percy stared at her for a moment before returning to his watching of the woods.
The Silence stretched on for what could've been hours, none of the trio spoke, their breathing, the crackling of the fire, and the occasional rustling of the wind the only noise that washed over the silence.