Zoe knew that someone had been following them since the Smithsonian, but she had never been able to place who. At first, she had assumed it was Apollo, watching over them, making sure that they would be able to rescue Lady Artemis, but the boy, Theseus, had told them about 'Fred' which nixed that theory. The second option was Lady Athena, thought Zoe couldn't imagine why she would help them, especially not with a son of Poseidon on the quest with them. Maybe it was to rescue her daughter?
The second clue that it was someone powerful came when they arrived at the garden. She had expected her sisters to confront them, warn them away, set Ladon loose on them, but when their group had arrived, the dragon was cowering around the tree, and her sisters looked like they had been beaten severely, allowing them to pass without incident. They found Artemis under the sky, and naturally, a fight broke out. Theseus, the foolish boy, had challenged her father, and now Zoe was spending most of her time trying to prevent him from killing the boy. That was when he shifted his focus to her. A blood thirsty grin split his face, and he hefted his sword, preparing to march on her.
She launched a barrage of arrows at him, hoping to slow him down long enough to reposition. Atlas was a Titan, however, and moved much faster than she could react. She barely managed to duck under the swipe of his sword but wasn't quick enough to dodge the kick he thrust out, which sent her flying backwards into a boulder, several of her ribs breaking on impact. Atlas stalked forward, looming above her.
"First blood in the new war," he crooned, his arm going back. Zoe closed her eyes, preparing for the blow.
It never came, the sound of metal striking metal filling the air. Zoe opened her eyes and looked up. There was a man standing over her, wearing a full set of hoplite armour, down to the skirt, though admittedly, he did have combat pants and boots on underneath the leather skirt and metal greaves. He was hefting a shield over his head, which had blocked the strike from Atlas' sword. His helmet was a dull bronze, though the face plate was black, and there was some material behind it that obscured what features would have been seen. A red and black horsehair plume ran horizontally across the helmet in an alternating pattern. It was a very intimidating sight.
Then, to her disbelief, the man pushed back, throwing Atlas off him, sending him stumbling backwards.
"Who are you, godling, and why have you interfered?" Atlas demanded, hefting his sword up once more.
"Forgotten me already, have you?" The mask figure chuckled, his voice distorted by the helmet, yet still clearly heard, "I put you under the sky before, Atlas. Do you recall what I told you? For every year that you tortured me, you would spend a thousand holding the sky."
"No!" Atlas exclaimed, eyes wide, "you were exiled! Banished from this world!"
"I was," the man agreed, "but there is only so much killing Tartarus is willing to tolerate. He sent me back here almost eight centuries ago. I've been watching for quite some time."
Zoe's mind raced. An immortal banished to Tartarus? There were many of them, but this one claimed to have put Atlas under the sky. That couldn't be right. Zeus had done that. But she had been taught that, and she knew that she wasn't always taught the truth. It was expected with gods.
"What now, Perseus?" Atlas asked, and Zoe gasped, "are you going to fight for the gods who banished you? You could join us! Fight the Olympians and get your revenge!"
"I don't give a damn what happens to the Olympians," Perseus replied, "but I do care about Zoe, and to me, it looked like you were going to kill her. That's unforgiveable. That's getting you back under the sky."
"I will not go willingly!" Atlas roared, charging Perseus. It shouldn't have been an even fight. But it was. Atlas would strike, and Perseus would either dodge it or block it with his shield, before striking back, scoring cuts on the Titan of Endurance, in turn enraging him further. In fact, Perseus seemed to only be striking lightly, as if he was—as if he was teasing Atlas. Zoe blinked, her breathing becoming laboured. He wasn't, was he?
He was. Almost as if a switch had been flicked, Perseus attacked, slamming the rim of his shield into Atlas' throat, before stabbing him in the thigh, smacking his blade aside with his own. Her father growled in pain and tried grabbing at Perseus. He stepped back, deftly dodging the Titans arms, before stepping forward again and slamming his forearm into the Titan's nose, breaking it with a loud crunch. He then twisted his arm, before pushing him forward, towards the Sky, where Artemis was still trapped. She was glaring, but Zoe didn't know at who. She had reason to hate both men before her.
Perseus roughly kicked Atlas in the back, causing the Titan to stumble forward, as Artemis rolled out, the Sky landing firmly of her father's shoulders, causing him to cry out in rage. Across the clearing, Thalia jabbed at the son of Hermes, who said something to her, which made her pause. Then he lunged at her, intending to gut her while she was distracted. She kicked him square in the chest, sending him tumbling over the cliff. The daughter of Athena who had been captured cried out, though for what reason, she didn't know.
Suddenly, Perseus was kneeling by her side, his hands resting on her stomach. She could feel water flowing up her body, her ribs reknitting, cuts, scrapes, and bruises vanishing as if they were never there. He stood up rapidly and had only turned halfway when a fist struck him in the cheek, cracking his helmet. He stumbled backwards before stopping. His hands rose to his head and pulled the ruined helm from it, revealing his face to her for the first time in almost three thousand years.
Perseus had always been a handsome man, and even she, the lieutenant of the Hunt, could admit it. Now, his face was marred with scars, but Zoe still found him to be handsome. There were white streaks across his chin, nose, and cheeks, the signs of battles won—and lost. Observing him closer, she saw more lines on his arms, and she assumed there would be some on his legs as well. His eyes were still the emerald green of the past, though they blazed in anger at the moment.
"You dare show your face here!" Artemis demanded, her bow drawn and pointed at Perseus.
"Put that away!" He snapped at her, "I just freed you, child, and we both know you can't kill me."
Thunder boomed loudly overhead, a sign that Lord Zeus was paying attention to the proceedings on the mountain top. Theseus regrouped with Thalia and the Athena girl, Annabeth, before heading to her side.
"Are you okay?" He asked her, ignoring the bickering immortals, "you hit the boulder pretty hard."
"I am fine," she told him, rising to her feet, "Perseus healed me."
"You're welcome for that, by the way," he called over his shoulder, before turning back to Artemis.
"So, uh, who is Perseus, exactly?" Theseus asked, clearly beating Annabeth to the question.
"That is… a long and complicated story," she told them, "and entirely not my place to tell you."
Zoe then turned her focus back to Artemis and Perseus.
"Don't you have a solstice to get to?" He asked her, stepping to the side as a fist was sent his way, "would you stop that?"
"I'm going to kill you!" Artemis roared, but a sudden bright light filled the air.
When it faded, Artemis was being held in an arm lock by Apollo, while Athena stood in front of Perseus, holding a pair of shackles in her hands. He looked more insulted than anything else.
"Really?" He asked the Goddess of Wisdom, "Zeus thinks those will hold me?"
"It's more a formality," Athena said meekly, "so that you don't kill us all."
"And he thinks those will stop me?" He asked again, "I'm not a god whose power can be stopped by shackling me."
"Mother?" Annabeth asked in surprise, after recovering from the shock of seeing her.
"Hello, dear," Athena said absent-mindedly, eyes trained on Perseus, who did take the time to examine Annabeth.
"Huh," he said, cocking his head to the side, "you look just like Athena did when I first met her. I mean, you're definitely younger and blonder, but... almost mirror image."
"We can discuss my daughter later, Percy," Athena told him, "we need to go to Olympus before father sends Ares."
"Is that supposed to frighten me?" Perseus asked in genuine confusion.
"No, but it won't bode well for the demigods," Athena sighed.
"They come with us," he suddenly said, "this was their quest, after all."
"Fine," Athena agreed, exasperated, "come here, children. Hold hands—no Annabeth, don't touch the Poseidon spawn—"
"I'm Poseidon spawn," Perseus pointed out, before winking at Theseus, who just looked bewildered, rapidly closing his eyes as they were teleported to Olympus.
When Zoe opened her own, they were in the centre of the Hall of the Gods, with Perseus standing on his own, holding the shackles in his hand with a bored expression. Zeus and Artemis looked purple with rage, while the other council members had a mixture of emotions. Poseidon looked genuinely happy. Even Hera had a small smile on her face.
"Hello, uncle," Perseus stated, dropping the shackles to the ground, "you look well. Have you done something with your hair?"
"This is not the time for jokes!" Zeus boomed, causing Zoe and the others to flinch. Perseus just crossed his arms.
"No need to shout, uncle," he told him, "we are indoors, after all."
Zeus reached for his Master Bolt, but Poseidon slammed the butt of his trident on the ground.
"Don't even think about it," he warned him, "I won't hesitate."
"No need for that, dad," Perseus said, drawing the attention back to himself, "we all know that I can't die, and sending me back to Tartarus won't work."
"And why's that?" Athena asked, leaning forward in her throne.
"Well, for one, he won't actually let me return," Perseus told them, "and two, I physically can't enter it anymore."
"I beg your pardon?" Athena sat up, her back ramrod.
"Well, you see, I was in Tartarus for close to two thousand years—up here, at least—and during that time, I killed everything," Perseus explained as if it was the simplest thing in the world, "and Tartarus got sick of me killing everything, so he kicked me out. But he gave me a little present first."
Perseus' hands went to the side of his armour, and he unclasped it, letting the chest and back plates drop to the floor. He was wearing a tank top underneath, but he quickly stripped that off too. Zoe felt her mouth become dry when she saw the mark. It was a skeletal raven, burned onto his left pec, above his heart, a black mark on the rest of his skin. There were more scars on his torso, one of which was long, wide, and jagged, the scar tissue looking like it had been grafted on.
"What… what happened to you?" Aphrodite asked, looking horrified at the sight in front of her.
"I was in Tartarus," he drawled, "not Tahiti. In case you've forgotten, all the monsters that are killed go there, as do the ones that are forgotten. I made quite a few friends down there. This one," he motioned to the large scar, "came from a Drakon the size of a subway train. I think it was, what, eight hundred feet long? The poison burned through me for weeks."
"You said that two thousand years had passed 'up here', Perseus," Hera stated with a frown, "would you care explaining that?"
"Well, you see, time passes differently in Tartarus for most," he said, "so, for me, I was down there for close to ten thousand years. Simple as that."
"Ten thousand years in Tartarus?" Hermes repeated in disbelief, "wasn't your sentence five thousand? Does that mean you served your sentence, or since only three thousand passed up here—"
"I don't know, and I don't care," Perseus interrupted, "regardless on whether or not you could get me back, like I said, I physically cannot enter. That's what this brand is."
"Can we go back to the fact that Tartarus kicked you out," Apollo said, joining the conversation, "which means you met him."
"Oh, yeah, a few times," Perseus said with a dismissive wave, "and boy, he really hates you guys. I mean, I thought I hated you, but he takes it to a whole new level. Him and Gaea both. They hate each other, and they had children solely out of their complete and utter hatred for you all. Must be kind of embarrassing to be hated so thoroughly by someone so powerful."
"Enough, Perseus!" Zeus exclaimed, "you are lying!"
"I swear on the Styx that I'm not lying about being banished from Tartarus, by Tartarus," Perseus grinned at Zeus, thunder booming to confirm it. Nothing happened, "are we done here? I want to get back to my apartment."
"You have an apartment?" Athena blinked several times, "in Manhattan?"
"Just across the street," Perseus confirmed, "what, did you think that if I escaped, I would run far, far away to escape the wrath of the Olympians? You guys aren't that threatening. Well, Dad and Uncle Hades are, but that's beyond the point."
"Excuse me?" Zeus growled, clearly insulted.
"No, don't get me wrong, thunder and lightning is scary for anyone younger than twelve, but my father could drown entire continents, and Uncle Hades could sink countries if he wanted," Perseus stated, seemingly uncaring to Zeus' growing anger, "so much more powerful than storms. I mean, really."
Poseidon and Hades were snickering loudly, as were Hermes and Apollo. Aphrodite was hiding a smile behind her hand.
"You little—" Zeus launched his bolt before anyone could blink, and it slammed into Perseus, sending him flying back, impacting the walls, and creating a crater.
"Ow," he mumbled weakly, stopping Poseidon from impaling Zeus on his trident. Perseus pulled himself to his feet, staring at the scorch mark on his chest, which was rapidly fading. The raven remained, but the rest vanished, his skin returning to it's normal bronze tan, "was that really necessary? I thought we agreed long ago that you can't kill me."
"Not for lack of trying, nephew," Hestia stated from the hearth, an amused twinkle in her eyes that Zoe hadn't seen in a long time, "you've been back for a thousand years and never thought to visit me? I'm insulted."
"To be fair, I was supposed to be in Tartarus," Perseus answered with a shrug, "I didn't think it would be very appropriate to just pop on in. We do belong to a rather dramatic family."
Zoe was astounded by the change in Perseus' personality. She didn't think she had ever seen him so flippant, or so disrespectful. It was confounding, but it did make sense. Tartarus was the worst fate anyone could be sentenced to. It was bound to have happened. She just wondered what it meant for the Hunt.
Perseus had, after all, helped found it.
So I've got this story and Peace and Blood. The premise for this is pretty basic. Percy is an immortal demigod, but like, completely immortal. He can't be killed, he can't fade. He just exists. Other than that, he is completely mortal. He needs to eat and sleep and drink, and does all the other stuff that comes with living. We'll see more stuff happen over the next nine or so chapters. The first ten chapters will be 'Act One' so to speak. I don't have a pairing set in stone, but I'm thinking Pertemis, though I am open to other ideas.