I apologise for the delay, really. IRL has been crazy lately, so the moment I got some breather, I put in a chapter.
I know its short but do bear with me. And no, this story won't be abandoned.
Shoutout to Yoshi and Fox for helping and e-luckarcher, Murph, Meister and Maruf for the beta and proof reading.
Until next time.
Disclaimer: I do not own PJO or any of its characters.
Chapter 32: A Bare Bones Warning
Soon, the sun started rising over the horizon. Thankfully, the night had gone without any incident. Normally, it would've been a good thing but considering their current location and the events of the previous day, Artemis couldn't rest easy. She knew something was bound to happen sooner or later. She could just hope for the best.
After breakfast, the four resumed their journey across the forest. The moon goddess made sure to keep away from the main road and follow a trail with the least exposure instead. Even though it was a bit harder, the latter was much safer than the former.
Ever since the ambush the previous day, everyone was far more vigilant than before. Conversation was kept to a minimum as their ears strained to detect even the faintest noises while Grover constantly sniffed the air.
Eventually, Artemis called a short lunch break before they'd resume their trek. She wanted to cover as much distance as possible before dusk since her vision was severally hampered during that time compared to the day or night. Since she had divine authority over the moon, she could use it as a medium to look at everything under the moonlight. However, since she had restrained her powers, her vision was limited. Hence, she opted to always keep an eye on her surroundings during the night. Based on this, dusk was the worst time for her, needless to say about the others.
However, unbeknownst to her, dusk was a good time for Percy. Thanks to the cold weather, dew would accumulate by the time dusk fell. After yesterday, he had tried and managed to gain control of these water droplets. So, if there was any wide disturbance, he'd be able to tell quickly. Sadly for him, since he was not as proficient with his powers, the area was smaller than what he liked. But he couldn't complain since there was some sort of protection that they could afford.
Keeping those thoughts aside, just as Percy was about to bite into his lunch, he suddenly picked on a presence that hadn't shown itself in some time. Someone that he wished he wouldn't meet ever again.
Immediately, his eyes turned sharper and before he could let loose his aura, Gamer's Mind activated and calmed him down immediately.
However, the goddess didn't miss it. She immediately turned to the demigod and asked, "What happened Perseus?"
"It's here," Percy replied before he stood up and rushed towards the source, alarming Artemis. Just what happened that made the normally calm demigod so agitated?
"Zoë, stay here with the satyr and keep watch. Inform me if there's anything," the goddess said before making a beeline after the son of Poseidon.
"Why aren't we attacking them? There are just 4 of them, they can hardly do anything!" a voice asked.
"Patience. You lack finesse. What's the point of all this if our opponent isn't at full strength?"
"That is the whole point! We wear them down so by the time they're here, they'll be dealt with easily," the first voice yelled exasperatedly.
"Quiet! That's not how I do things. Let them come thinking they're all high and mighty. I will show them how small they are in the face of absolute power and in the grand scheme of things."
The first voice couldn't help but click his tongue at that. Even though what the other person said was true, the first one wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. Just because the second one was more powerful, the first one had to abide.
The weak bowed down to the powerful or be trampled. Such was the rule of the world and their times.
Even though Gamer's Mind kept Percy's emotions in check, his mind kept racing towards that day when he had the misfortune of meeting it. Despite how much the demigod tried to forget about it or stop thinking about it, he couldn't. And now, of all times, it had to come. Was it intentional or not? He didn't know but one thing Percy did know was that he was going to get some answers. With that single thought in mind, he charged toward the aura.
As he ran, he summoned Riptide and brought the sword out in its full glory as soon as he reached his destination.
"You!" Percy said through gritted teeth the moment his eyes landed on the figure.
"Perseus, Perseus, Perseus, just the person who I wanted to meet," the figure replied with a bit of happiness laced in its tone.
If not for the previous experiences the demigod had had with the figure, he would've believed that this entity was genuinely glad to meet him but alas.
"What are you doing here?" Percy asked as he brandished the sword in front of him, ready to attack or defend at a moment's notice.
Contrary to the demigod's posture, the figure was laid back as it looked around casually with no care or fear in the world.
"I have come to meet you, you know? It has been so long, I wanted to see how you were doing."
"Stabbing me and leaving me to bleed to death doesn't exactly give a favourable impression."
"You didn't die, did you? Stop whining," the figure snapped.
"What do you want?" Percy asked, having enough of the idle chat. He could sense that Artemis had nearly reached his location.
"Hmm, I've come to help this time. A small piece of advice – †˙®´´ ", it said in a tongue the demigod had gotten familiar with quite recently.
However, before he could say or ask anything, the goddess broke through the shrubbery, bow in hand.
As soon as Artemis saw the figure, she knew something was wrong. Even though the figure didn't exude any aura whatsoever, it was far from normal since it was most likely the reason as to why the normally calm demigod lost his cool and rushed towards this location, sword in hand.
Not wanting to take any chances, she infused a bit of her divine power into an arrow and let it loose. However, what happened next surprised her.
The figure snatched the arrow she had just shot – at supersonic speed – from thin air, as though it was catching a ball. It shot her a glance before it returned its focus back to the demigod, quickly losing interest in her.
"I hope we can meet again in better circumstances, Percy. I will be cheering you on, you know that right? Don't forget the advice I just gave," it said before it simply blinked out of existence as though it was never there in the first place.
A moment of silence ensued as Percy and Artemis tried to come to terms with the events that suddenly transpired. Each had their own line of thought but the final outcome was the same – one of confusion.
"What just happened?" Artemis finally asked, breaking the silence. She was quite miffed by the fact that her attack was taken so lightly, and her existence was disregarded quite casually. Even though she had infused a miniscule amount of her lunar energy, it was still deadly. Moreover, the speeds at which the arrow was moving would make it somewhat difficult for any immortal to catch it. So, for it to catch it so casually was grating her.
This snapped Percy out of his thoughts as he said, "Let's catch up to Grover and Zoë, it isn't safe for us to be divided right now. Can we talk about this at night? It would be better considering where we are currently."
The goddess nodded her head in assent and then started walking back towards the two, Percy in tow. From her impression of the demigod so far, she doubted that he'd lie to her and simply needed time to process things before speaking to her about it. Thus, she decided to hold back, for the time being, stay focused on the quest and think about other things in the future.
Just as the four got back together, Zoë and Grover cast a questioning gaze at Percy only for the goddess to come to his rescue, saying that it wasn't anything major and he just had a hunch that a monster was trying to sneak up on them, hence the reaction.
The huntress, who had known Artemis for years knew that the goddess was lying due to the subtle 'tell' that she displayed whenever she lied about things. However, if this was something that couldn't be talked about, she'd trust her lady about it and let things be. She knew how Artemis was and that she'd be able to handle small things like this. There was no need to interfere even if it involved a boy.
Thus, the four carried on walking until evening where they found a cave to camp in for the night. Just as the others went to sleep, Artemis called Percy to her tent to talk about the events that had transpired earlier.
Shortly, the demigod found himself sitting in the same place as last time. The only thing that had changed since then was the fact that the goddess trusted him a bit more, so it wouldn't end up as an interrogation like the previous time.
"Create your alternate dimension. This is something that needs to be discussed privately," the goddess commanded.
Wordlessly, Percy got in position as last time and created a dimension.
Even though Artemis had experienced it before, she couldn't help but marvel as an entirely new world was created out of nothing. A power so great that no divine being, as far as she knew, could ever replicate or wield. Truly, something worthy to be called as a gift from Fate itself.
She then redirected her gaze at the demigod and said, "Well, what happened?"