It is so easy to break a demigod.

They are capricious by nature-they are halfway gods, after all, and the immortals of Olympus are as all-encompassing and easily, swiftly angered as the earth over which they preside, good and evil flashing in their natures and changing like the wind and the storms and the waves. Humans are not much better-so dark, so easy to twist for greed, so lustful, for violence and the sickening wrongness of the most twisted types of beauty. And demigods inherit the worst of it-not even half of the power of the gods, any of their divine goodness seemingly cut away by the canker of humanity, the darkness and brooding fury of both races. The price that they pay for the heroism that causes them so much pain.

And there is so much resentment there-so much sweetly bitter darkness that it is almost laughably easy to slip inside it and nest there. It is practically a welcome mat, that barely reigned in loathing-for the gods that sit back and make their children playthings, that let them suffer and bleed and die because they are too proud or lazy or afraid to act, for the other half-blood kind so eager to make war, to toss away the sacrifices of souls that have given their all for never-obtainable peace.

And they are tired-they are always tired, these true heroes. So tired of fighting, of pushing onwards through endless, pointless despair. Tired of being the one to have to make a change. Tired of never winning, of there always being some deeper darkness, waiting to rise up again against the waning, weakening light.

So tired, so desperate just to sleep, enjoy the end of the exhaustion that they've earned through their endless effort, that they do not notice that there is something wrong. That they do not feel the presence that roots itself in their souls, that nestles in their shattered, fighting nature, that clings to their shoulders and curls itself behind their aching eyes.

Until it is far, far too late.

It is so easy to break a demigod-and this one was here, walking over my heart, pushing himself deeper and deeper into me, testing the limits of his cruelty and his conscious, watching one grow as the other faded away. He was here, hurting, agonized, breathing me in, drinking down the burning waters of my blood, every step he took falling against my skin, giving me a chance to feel him, know him, draw myself slowly inwards to the splintered shards of darkness growing in his soul.

I felt him, and I knew him, and slowly, quickly, far too easily, I claimed him for my own.

Percy Jackson fell to me-and though he did not know it, I did.

I did.

And now that he is broken, it is but a matter of time.