"--My son, his fate is sealed. Hades grip, a leash, his soul concealed. The river separates a mother and son, death stop, her only one. And then she collapsed. The madness left her. I turned to Hades, and his eyes glowed. I knew it was done."

Luke stood motionless in the middle of the living room, staring at the back of my couch for the longest time, and then, he too, collapsed.


Luke lay motionless on the floor, my family was around him.

Hermes stepped between Sophia and me. "Luke!" he cried.

When he came to, Luke opened his eyes; they were black, but they were glowing.

Not good.

Luke sat up, staring into outer space. He opened his mouth to talk, but it was a voice I recognized all too well. Not Kronos, but his son, Hades.

"Away! The boy's soul is mine. He died and therefore is my property! Being rejected for rebirth, Hermes, your son snuck away through the Doors of Orpheus, undetected. His memory was to be washed clean in the Lethe and was to be born a full mortal; born not retrieved! He should be but three years old. I will come to gather my property, but in the meantime, I have compensation: a certain lover of yours . . . May Castellan."

Hermes' eye twitched, "Leave her out of this!"

The voice of Hades mused, "Return my property to me, or your love with suffer a worse fate than the Asphodel fields."

I stared at Hermes, his eyes flashed murderously. "Hades! Let us not forget that I am also the guide of your dead. Without me, your power will slowly diminish. The Underworld will collapse into Tartarus and its lord with it. Unless your threat turns hollow and dies quickly, you will wake up with your father!"

The voice of Hades faltered. Luke's eyes momentarily turned back to blue, but darkened just as quickly.

"Calm yourself nephew." Hades said. "I mean no harm to your son. In fact, until he is returned to me, he is as immortal as we are, being only a solidified ghost."

Hermes stared quizzically at his son, "What do you mean by that, Hades?"

Luke/Hades sighed, "Immortality is immortality; did my brother teach you nothing?"

Hermes jerked back at the question, but said nothing.

"You have forty-eight hours son of Zeus." Hades said, "Make the decision; your son or his mother?"

The cold presence echoing from Luke dissipated and his eyes turned blue again.

Luke paled and held his head. "What happened?"

Annabeth looked at Hermes, who was glaring at Luke.

Hermes was turning purple with emotion. "You WHAT!?" George and Martha, Hermes' snakes, were withering around his caduceus like they were trying to get away. "You ESCAPED from Hades!?"

Luke paled, "I — I had no choice . . . the riot . . . the rejection . . ."

Hermes' eyes grew large, "Hades is hunting you as we speak! How could you be so dense!?"

"I wanted to prove myself to the gods. I thought they would never forgive me for what I did. Besides, Sisyphus did the same thing."

"And where's the glory in repeating what others have done, Luke?" I asked, "Weren't those your exact words?"

Luke reddened; I doubt he expected me to remember our chat by the creek before he tried to kill me for the first time, all those years ago.

"Stay out of this Percy." Luke told me. "You've escaped Hades more than once."

"I wasn't dead. I had Nico with me the last time, and it was for a quest the first time."

"All the same. You got away from Hades with a death warrant twice. He wanted to throw me into Tartarus to end his suffering, with all intent to start mine all over again."

He didn't seem to be paying much attention to me or his father for that matter. Luke was staring directly at Sophia, who was glaring right back at him; her silvery eyes misty.

"Luke?" She asked, "What have you done?"

Luke's face turned insipid. "I'm sorry, Sophia. I never wanted you to know."

Sophia's bottom lip quivered. "Well, now I do. Are you happy now Luke Castellan!?"

She turned and ran off upstairs, leaving an awkward silence behind her.