[A/N] And so we reach the final chapter of our tale, you have my thanks for staying with me to read this long. To all those who have reviewed, your support always helped and kept me going so special thanks to you too. And of course, special thanks to Shrrgnien for her Beta work and making the reupload possible. Ach well, enough rambling from me, I'm sure you'd much rather just get right on with it so…
Standard perspective rules are in play:
-?- Third Person
Chapter 9: Bereavement
Ares bounded across the room. The golden arrow streaking towards him bounced harmlessly off his blood-red breastplate, and he leapt clear across the distance to the sun god's chariot, landing with a crash on the hood beside Apollo. The vehicle's suspension buckled in midair from the force of the landing.
Apollo himself rolled back and stood on the driver's seat to avoid the war god's landing.
Ares rounded on him and raised his blade to strike the much shorter Olympian. Apollo, however, seemed more concerned with the shiny red surface of his chariot. "Seriously! Look what you just did!" he snapped, stabbing a finger at Ares' feet, which were now embedded in the hood's surface, creating two size-twelve dents.
Ares glanced down and pulled his boots free, smirking at Apollo. "Oops. But don't think that makes us even for shooting me in the back, Sunshine."
Apollo frowned. "If you're working with Eris, then you know I have to stop you."
Ares shrugged. "I couldn't care less what that psycho chick is up to, but after accidentally causing a bit of damage to my lady friend's place, I really can't allow her precious mirror to get messed up, too. If I do, she'll end up giving me the cold shoulder for months."
Apollo frowned. "Mirror? Why would we want - yikes!" Apollo ducked as Ares swung his sword, separating the sun god from several of his blonde hairs, but luckily not from his head.
The war god chuckled as he twirled his huge blade playfully. "Come to think of it, after all these millennia, you and me have never actually had a proper chance to play, have we?"
Apollo backed up a step, onto the back seat. "Unfortunately, you and I seem to enjoy very different kinds of games."
Ares' smirk turned vicious. "Yeah, well, today you're playing my game whether you like it or not. If you want me to stand aside, then you're going to have to make me, Music Boy."
The sun god frowned. "Very well, then I-" he was cut off as Ares took his words as a cue to move and swung his blade to slice open the sun god.
Apollo barely managed to block, using a sword he had whipped out from somewhere behind him. The air trembled and sparks flew at the connection of their blades.
"Not bad, Sparky. Where did you pull that little butter knife from?"
Apollo smiled back. "My wheels, cousin; you'd be shocked just how customized this baby is. What I was about to say was that we can fight, but not here."
Ares pulled back and inclined his head towards the devastated apartment. "Ladies first."
Apollo sighed at the clichéd insult and leapt cleanly over the distance, skidding to a halt in the damaged building. Ares followed a second later, his larger stature causing him to land with another loud crash, destroying the small collection of occasional furniture he landed on.
He turned to Apollo and readied his blade.
Apollo raised his sword, its golden cross-guard and silver-threaded hilt glinting in the sunlight. The weapon itself was actually a proportionally larger duplicate of his nephew's, only far more glitzy.
His clothes shimmered as he took a stance; his t-shirt and jeans morphed themselves into traditional golden Greek battle armor, his helmet materializing on his head.
Ares grinned. "Well, I'll be; it actually looks like you're going to take this seriously."
Apollo glared at Ares. "You have absolutely no idea just how serious this really is."
He laughed in response. "Maybe not, but you know the only language I really speak," he said, flicking the blade of his sword to indicate his point, "so why don't you show me just how serious this really is."
Apollo bared his teeth and lunged forwards, each step leaving a scorch mark on the carpet. He swung about and slammed his sword down against Ares' own. The blade slid down its length. Apollo used the momentum to spin into a roundhouse kick, which Ares' hand shot up and caught.
The war god smirked as he swung the sun god around with one hand, slamming him through a wall like a large, armored doll. He pulled back, dragging Apollo free, and swung him around, then down into the floor. The entire structure trembled under the force of the impact.
Apollo coughed as the wind was knocked clean out of him.
"Pathetic," spat Ares as he dragged Apollo up by his ankle.
"Don't count me out… just yet!" the sun god shouted. He hooked his other leg around Ares' lower arm and, with blinding speed, swung himself up and slammed his protected head square into the larger god's face.
Ares recoiled and released Apollo who, as he fell, slammed his palms into the floor for leverage and planted both feet square into Ares' chest, sending the war god hurtling back and embedding him halfway into a concrete supporting wall.
Apollo flipped himself nimbly off one hand and back to his feet. He grabbed his sword and began advancing on Ares, who was now doing his best to dislodge himself.
Artemis deflected Eris' blade with the shaft of her bow, causing the larger goddess to skid past her and land flat in the back of the chariot.
Her lunge had been clumsy at best, which was unsurprising considering an arrow had found its way into her upper leg just as she was about to jump into the chariot.
Eris cursed and tore Artemis' arrow free of her leg. Snarling, she gripped the hilt of her sword and swung it up at the moon goddess, whose waiting dagger stopped it mid-strike.
Eris was about to begin another attack when she froze, Artemis' second dagger pressed into her throat.
"I have one question," Artemis began, regarding the other goddess coldly. "Do you really think you have a chance at defeating me? Because I should warn you; I'm here on a somewhat personal basis, and unless you do as I dictate, I may be forced to become somewhat…forceful…with you, Eris."
Indignation flashed over the minor goddess' face as she dropped her sword.
Artemis pulled back slightly. This was a mistake, as Eris, more than a little upset, lashed out and punched the moon goddess square in the face.
Artemis gasped and staggered back a single step, pressing a hand to her nose.
Eris was breathing heavily, rage overtaking her. "You think you're so damned superior, don't you? Well, let me tell you-"she was cut off in the middle of her tirade as Artemis' hand clamped itself around her throat, choking the words away.
The goddess turned back around, a rivulet of golden blood trickling from her nose and her eyes awash with rage. She lifted the struggling Eris up with one hand, swung about, and hurled her unceremoniously out of her chariot and back into the apartment, sending her sprawling into a waiting heap of debris.
Eris emerged a moment later on her hands and knees, disheveled, grazed and even more enraged than before. She didn't even have time to properly pull herself up when the dull grey streak of her own sword shot through the air and pierced clean through her arm, pinning her to the floor.
Eris screamed in pain as Artemis leaped into the room with a forward flip, skidded sideways and kicked the injured goddess square in her chest, dislodging the sword and sending her spinning across the room. Somehow, Eris managed to recover with her uninjured arm, and propelled herself back to her feet. With a wild cry, she lunged at Artemis, dragging them both to the floor in a heap.
Apollo halted as Ares' glare changed, and suddenly the war god began chuckling. "Something funny?" Apollo asked.
He shook his head from his sprawled out position, still embedded in the wall, and pointed a finger past the sun god. "Check it out, Apollo," and he then said the only phrase in existence that could make Apollo drop his guard in this situation. "Girl-fight!"
"Oh?" said Apollo, swinging about reflexively as Artemis and Eris thrashed about in an attempt to tear the other apart. Apollo's view was disrupted, however, as Ares suddenly kicked him in the backside with the flat of his boot, sending him face first into the carpet.
Ares used the momentum of his kick to shrug himself free as Apollo pushed himself to his feet, rubbing his behind and retrieving his sword.
Apollo turned and frowned at Ares. "First of all, it's bad form to kick someone from behind."
The war god shrugged. "You dropped your guard."
"You called girl-fight! It was demanded by combat etiquette that I immediately stop whatever I was doing and turn to watch."
Ares nodded. "That is certainly true…"
"Secondly, that's my sister over there. Don't call girl-fight unless the other person can enjoy it; it's also very bad form to disappoint someone like that."
"My bad," Ares admitted.
Apollo nodded. "Alright then. Now, where were we?"
"Right about here," Ares said, swinging his broadsword with such speed that the force sent Apollo hurtling backwards through the air and crashing into a portrait of Aphrodite.
Ares winced. "Ouch, that one's gonna cost me."
Apollo pulled his head free of Aphrodite's midriff and turned, shakily raising his sword again. Ares laughed heartily. "You've got fire in you, Apollo, I'll give you that."
Apollo cocked his head. "Sun god, remember? It comes naturally. Now, shall we-"Apollo was cut off, however, as Artemis side-kicked Eris across the room into Ares, sending him staggering onto his behind.
Artemis rose to her feet, features a mask of animalistic rage, and crossed over to Eris. She bent down, grabbed her by the arm, swung her around and slammed her down into the fallen Ares. With a growl, she pulled back and repeated the motion, slamming them both deeper into the floor. She did it again and the entire floor began to crack around them.
Apollo raised a finger. "Umm, sis? As much as I don't want to get in the way of you beating Ares senseless with the nearest blunt object you can find…don't you think we have more pressing matters at hand?"
Having obviously tired of hitting Ares over the head with the goddess of discord, Artemis released Eris' arm and took a few seconds to calm herself. She quickly retied her hair, which had come free of its usual ponytail in the scuffle, and turned away from her opponent. "Of course. Now what comes next?"
"Now it all ends," a weak voice spoke up. It was Eris.
Artemis swung back around. "Meaning what?"
She choked out a laugh, coughing up a cloud of golden blood in the process. "You're too late."
Artemis reached down and dragged Eris to her feet by the front of her dress. "Too late for what?" she hissed dangerously.
Eris' right eye opened, her left already swollen as her mouth twitched into an ugly smirk. "Their plan was good, but a little badly conceived. It was the only route left open to them, which is why I left the two mirrors intact, and now…the final pieces are in place, and at last my endgame begins."
"Apollo?" demanded Artemis, glancing back at him.
The god glared at Eris. "Just what have you done?"
Her smile widened. "Get ready to watch the fireworks, kiddies, for this promises to be…" she paused to wave a hand dramatically."Spectacular." And with that she laughed loudly, reverted to her immortal form, and disappeared from Artemis' grasp in a flash of light.
Artemis regarded her empty hand for a second. "What did she mean, Apollo?" she asked, not turning around.
Apollo was about to answer when a grunting noise from behind him drew his attention away. Ares pulled himself up, rubbing the back of his head. "I've heard of using a woman as a shield before…but a bat? Now that's a new one…" he stretched, his back cracking. "Ah, there we go." He glanced about, ignoring the two gods, and groaned at the sight of the devastation. "Oh, Aphrodite's gonna be ticked… First her apartment, then her portrait, now her mirror's going to get broken. This really isn't my day. I hope you're proud of yourselves; I'm probably going to get the silent treatment for months because of this."
Apollo sighed. "Technically, it was you who…hang on…what was that about her mirror?"
Ares rolled his eyes. "I told you before; that chick with the braid, the one who Hades' kid was with, had come here with vandalism in mind."
Apollo frowned. "But why would Selene want to-" he halted mid-sentence as it hit him, and his head snapped in the direction of the bedroom. "Oh, gods, no!" he snapped and dashed for the open doorway.
But it was far too late to stop what was about to happen…
I had neither the time nor the resources to take the beasts that were trailing us.
Don't ask me how, but our path just happened to pass a pack of stray hellhounds, who then took delight in immediately giving chase after what they no doubt saw as a simply wonderful midday meal.
This normally wouldn't have been much of a problem, mind you, as three Hunters could quite easily take out a few hellhounds in the forest, but that wasn't our only problem. For, you see, as we changed course, we just so happened to startle a pair of Laestrygonian Giants, who for some odd reason were mulling about in the forest right in our path.
It was when we picked up a dragon—seriously, a dragon?—on our tail that I realized something might just be up.
"What in HADES is going on?" I cried as I dodged a spray of acid from the pursuing serpent.
"It's my mother!" shouted Ari as she glanced over her shoulder. "She must've gotten free!"
"Eris summoned these?" I asked disbelievingly.
She shook her head. "Not exactly, it's more like she's causing us to run into them!"
I groaned as I ran. "So, what? She's cursing us with bad luck?"
Ari inclined her head. "Hmm, something like that, I guess. She's more like Murphy's Law personified!"
What can go wrong will go wrong…
The words echoed in my head and I realized just now how well they fit Eris' profile.
"Jeez, was this Murphy guy your half-brother or something, Ari?"
She hummed. "Wouldn't surprise me… My surname's McMurphy, you know."
I shook my head. "How horribly ironic…"
"Hang on a tick," Ari suddenly interjected. She was remaining oddly calm, despite the situation.
"What?" I asked.
"If my mom is twisting things to put us in these beast's paths, then she must've already laid things out so they'd be waiting here for us in advance."
I nodded. "That sounds likely, what's your point?"
"My point is if she already had all these things here, then it's almost as if she wanted us to escape."
I nearly tripped up mid stride, and then glared at the tiny Hunter.
She looked back at me cautiously. "W-What?"
"Ari, oh precious Ari, have you ever heard of the phrase genre-savvy?" I asked with a tense smile.
"Didn't think so…"
She rolled her eyes and staggered as the dragon roared angrily from behind us. "Yeah, well, at least things can't get any worse!" she shouted over the din.
A second later a spray of acid missed me by an inch, the fumes alone sizzling my cheek.
"Stop doing that!" I shouted incredulously at the Huntress.
She frowned. "Doing what?"
"Just…just do me a favor: if you sense yourself about to speak a sentence beginning with the words 'at least', 'well so long as', or containing the word 'unless', do one thing…"
She shot me an angry glare. "I don't have to take that from a boy!"
I probably should've been paying more attention to where I was going, and not holding an argument over my shoulder whilst sprinting for my life, but when I get started…
"Oh, yeah? Well, why don't you try uttering the words 'We'll be fine just so long as the universe doesn't end right this second'!"
She didn't say anything, just kept on staring daggers at me.
"Go on, then!"
"I don't wanna!"
"Just say the words, I dare you!"
"Ari, don't get baited. Armani, stop trying to destroy the universe," Aren said, glancing back at the dragon. "That thing sure can run for something so big; it might even catch us at this rate."
I gritted my teeth. It was true; the dragon had been subtly catching up. Its attacks were causing us to falter and it was closing the distance between us. The only bonus was that the other beasts had dropped back further, obviously wary of getting between a dragon and its dinner.
Only one thing for it, then…
I heaved a painful sigh, and then dug my heels into the earth.
I skidded a few yards, spinning about in the process to face our scaly pursuer.
I raised my palm up as the dragon charged me. My body began to pulse with white light and I shouted, in as loud and powerful a voice as I could muster, "Stop!"
And the dragon stopped dead.
The beast skidded to a halt, its claws tearing up the undergrowth in the process, and stopped about three feet away from me.
It lowered its head down to face me, teeth bared and acid dripping down onto the ground below.
I didn't budge.
Ari and Aren emerged from the trees, obviously having taken a second to realize what I was doing.
"Armani!" Aren hissed, drawing her bow and taking aim at the dragon's underbelly. "Are you insane?"
I cocked my head. "Oh, undoubtedly so, but in this case what I'm doing is quite well thought-out."
She gaped. "That thing's about two seconds away from swallowing you whole!"
I glanced at the dragon and back at Aren. "Not going to happen," I said calmly. Then, adopting the same tone of voice I had once used with my griffon, Tim, I said to the dragon, "You're not going to hurt me, are you, big fella?"
The dragon was perturbed and I could see it. After all, how often does one's lunch talk back to them, especially in a language it could understand?
"Now then," I said firmly, and the beast backed up a step. "If you're that hungry, there's a pair of nice big giants back there. If you really must, you can go and eat them, okay?"
The dragon blinked and sniffed the air over its shoulder, then glanced almost questioningly back at me.
I waved the beast off with a hand. "Go on now, off you go."
The dragon hesitated, then turned and dashed back in the opposite direction.
I let out a calm sigh. "There, three birds with one stone. Now, let's be off."
Aren paused, looking quite pale. "How… did you do that?"
I shrugged. "I don't know. I've sort of talked to a dragon once before. If I had to guess, I'd say that if it's a beast that lives entirely on instinct, I can communicate with it. I feel sorry for the poor guy, really; I'm guessing giant meat is quite tough."
"B-but what if it didn't work?"
Again I shrugged and began walking past her. "Then we wouldn't be having this conversation, Q.E.D. Come along now…"
It wasn't long after that we emerged from the forest, Thalia's pine on top of its hill in the distance.
Thankfully, the rest of the creatures chasing us seemed to have ceased their pursuit, but when you've got a dragon charging you head on, your first instinct is usually to run off in the opposite direction.
I didn't pause to admire the scenery, dashing for the camp across the open fields, the two Hunters on my flanks.
I skidded to a halt at the top of the hill; the familiar sight of Camp Half-Blood was spread out before me under the bright early summer sun. Its apparent peacefulness starkly contrasted the insanity that was going on around it.
"Come on…" I said after a pause, and began striding towards the Big House.
We were almost to the door when Ari spoke up. "Tell me something…"
And then she asked the question I had been dreading since we escaped from Eris. "Why did Eris call Aren your girlfriend?"
My hand clenched around the doorknob. "Forget about it; she was just trying to throw you off."
Ari hummed, and I could see her glancing between us. "Funny, you blushed awfully hard when she said it."
"It's none of your-" I snapped, then froze and glanced at the shorter Hunter. There was a mischievous glint in her eye.
"I was right, wasn't I?" I noticed she seemed perkier at the gossip than any Hunter of Artemis really should be.
I rolled my eyes and turned back around, opening the door. "Like I was saying; it's none of your business," I said humorlessly.
I strolled into the Big House, glancing cautiously about.
"Have you kissed?"
I nearly tripped over my own feet at that. Righting myself, I rounded on her. "Listen here, Ms McMurphy-"
"Ari McMurphy the second," she corrected, a small smirk on her lips.
"As I was – gods, there was another one of you once?—anyways! I'm sure you don't want your sisters catching wind about how you've been joking around with a boy now, do you?"
She shrugged. "Poking fun is different; helps take my mind off things."
I gave pause at that. I supposed the current situation must've been pretty painful for her. "Alright, just tone it down, this is a serious situation," I said, glancing about the room. No one appeared to be in. Everyone else must've been down at the camp; even Mr. D didn't seem to be present, though I doubted he'd care we were here one way or the other.
"Plus, you're not the only one who's feeling extremely uncomfortable right now," Aren suddenly spoke up. "How do you think I feel?"
I hesitated as I regarded her. "If it's of any comfort, it's technically none of your business, either."
For some reason, this seemed to upset her. "Excuse me? I've just found out I've got a boyfriend in some twisted alternate world!"
"We're not…" I snapped, trailing off, then continued quietly, "…We're not like that. It's sort of…Well…it's kind of complicated."
Aren glowered at me. "Yeah? Try me."
I shook my head and headed for the stairwell. "You wouldn't understand, not you…"
"And what's that supposed to mean?" she demanded indignantly.
I stopped with a hand on the banister rail, clenching my teeth in frustration. "There's… something you wouldn't get, something I think only she would."
"And that is?" she asked, her indignation not even remotely quelled.
"That I'm in love you!" I barked, swinging about.
Umm…The universe is in trouble, you might just want to-
Aren paled. "Don't fool yourself. But if that other version of me is sick enough to-"
I cut her off right there. "You have no idea what you're talking about, Aren!" I stopped and shook my head. "You know what the worst part is? I look at you and I see nothing but a painful reminder of what I've lost…Of what I may never get back. And in just a few moments this world may become nothing but a painful reminder. So forgive me if I don't feel in the mood to quell your upset over something that, quite frankly, has not a damned thing to do with you!" I took several angered breaths, swung back about and marched up the steps.
Trust you to succeed in having a lover's spat with someone you've just met. On the bright side, I'm sure Apollo will put you out of your misery quite quickly should we fail at this.
Oh, shut up…
Ari and Aren didn't follow for a moment, meeting me at the top of the attic stairs.
I glanced about wordlessly; it was so quiet and peaceful, and much more orderly compared to the hell that I had left the version of it that existed in my world.
At least the roof was still on.
"What are you waiting for?" Aren asked, breaking the stark silence that dominated the room.
My eyes were locked on a box in the far corner. I clenched my fist at my side.
Now or never, then…
"Absolutely nothing," I replied, and began strolling over to the box, the Hunters following cautiously behind.
I knocked the boxes on top to the side. The box of weapons fell open, and a long two-handed sword skittered across the room, giving an out-of-tune rendition of "Yellow Submarine". The one with the jars in it toppled over and sent its contents rolling across the floor. Ari yelped as a jar containing a certain pickled body part bumped into her ankle.
"Careful, Ari…" I muttered as I dragged out the box I needed.
"It's in there?" Aren asked as I tore off the yellowed tape.
"I sure as Hades hope so," I responded, opening the box.
It was exactly as I remembered it. I didn't beat around the bush as I took a deep steadying breath, reached in and grabbed the pink mirror.
I frowned and shook the plate slightly.
Ari leaned around to look at the object. "Something wrong?"
"I don't know… something should happen, last time when I touched it-" suddenly a fragment of a sentence said by Chiron struck a chord:
'-thinking about the possibility of one another-'
"The possibility of one another…" I mumbled.
"What'd you say?" Aren asked, polishing the mirror with her tunic to clear some of the dust off it.
"Sorry, just something Chiron said. He said one of the only ways the gateway could've been formed was if we were thinking of the possibility of one another whilst touching them."
"And were you thinking about that when you first touched it?"
I frowned as I thought back to that day. "I remember thinking, somewhat exhaustedly, that sometimes it would be easier if I really were a girl."
"But Selene wouldn't think something like that!" Aren objected.
I inclined my head. "Wish the opposite? Oh, I don't know; considering how peeved she seemed when I saw her encounter Aphrodite in her suite, I wouldn't be shocked if part of her, just for a second, thought the same thing as I."
"So…" Ari intervened, "You just need to think about her?"
I regarded the dusty reflective surface. "The possibility of her; the possibility of her being in that exact place and in that exact- holy HADES!" I cried as the surface of the mirror shimmered and erupted in blinding light. Both Aren and Ari grabbed me by the shoulders to steady my arms and prevent me from dropping the mirror.
"So, then…" A familiar voice suddenly spoke up, and I opened my eyes to find an identical pair looking back at me. "…We really are as crazy as one another!"
A smile spread across my face. "It would seem so. How depressing is that?"
Selene smiled. She was standing with her hand on the surface of the mirror, Nico behind her in the middle of what looked like a war zone.
"Armani!" Nico called, leaning closer. "You okay?"
I shrugged. "Still in one piece, it would seem."
Suddenly the two Hunters poked their heads excitedly over my shoulders, crowding in to get a look. "Selene! Oh, thank Zeus, you're okay!"
Selene's smile widened. "Ari and Aren…and yes, as you can see, also still in one piece."
I butted in. "Umm, I'm all for happy reunions, but can we save them for after we save the universe?"
Selene nodded. "Good point. So, how are we gonna do this?"
I thought about it for a second. "Once broken, the glass needs to pierce your skin in order to anchor you to the power. It'd probably only have to be for a second."
She frowned. "Yeah, that much I've got, but how do we do that?"
I shrugged. "Simple. We break them with our bare hands."
She glanced at her hand and balled it into a fist. Then glanced at me out the corner of her eye. "You mean, just punch it? You think that'll work?"
My eyes were drawn to the scar on the back of my right hand. I returned my gaze to her. "…Like a charm," I said with a sad smile.
She didn't question me, but took a step back in preparation.
I braced the mirror between a rafter and the wall so it was on eye level. When I looked back into it, Selene was looking back at me, a strange look in her eye. "Problem?"
She glanced away, gripping her arm. "Listen…if this works, then…"
I nodded, a sad smile on my face. "…Yeah, I know; this is goodbye."
"Looks that way. Guess it just goes to show, no world is big enough for the both of us."
"An unfortunate, if somewhat clichéd, truth. Let's go," I said, clenching my fist and raising it up.
She nodded and took a stance, raising her own hand in readiness to strike. "On three?"
"Of course…Goodbye, sis.'"
She blinked and nodded, a similar smile on her face. "See you, little brother."
"Hey? Why am I the-"
She cut me off, smirking mischievously. "One…"
I rolled my eyes and braced a foot for leverage. "Two…"
We both paused, then said in perfect unison, "THREE!"
Our fists struck the glass surfaces in the same moment.
I dug my heels in as a wave of power erupted from the shiny surface and it exploded into fragments, an eternity of blinding light shining from behind the cracks as the glass sliced into my knuckle and a shard pierced into the flesh.
I screamed out in pain as a surge of heat went through my blood and my vision was filled with nothing but pink light.
There was a deafening crash like thunder as the world seemed to explode around me.
I dared to open my eyes a second later and survey my surroundings.
I was still in the attic.
But something was wrong…
I was staring down at the blood starting to well up around the wound in my hand. The crimson fluid was threaded with lattices of pulsing pink light.
"Armani…look." Aren's voice spoke up, shocked and fearful. I noticed there was no echo and that the room was now oddly quiet.
I glanced up in front of me and my eyes widened in both shock and confusion.
The mirror was hanging broken in the air, its fragments frozen mid-shatter, linked together by a hovering web of pink energy. Each shard was connected by a stream of light that joined it to the central mass of light. It looked like time had been stopped in that one place, an explosion frozen in the moment.
"What's happening?" asked Aren, her voice a cautious whisper.
I shook my head. "I have absolutely no idea," I said, stepping forward and looking carefully at the frozen mirror.
I raised my hand up and carefully tapped one of the shards. It made a strange ding as I touched it and slowly spun at the contact, like flicking a wind chime on a calm day.
As I pulled back my finger I felt a wetness run down the top of it as a single drop of blood ran down to the tip, then dripped off into the air…
Suddenly, and violently, a beam of light shot out from the mass, like lightning shooting out towards a rod, and connected with the falling drop of blood.
The crackling crimson drop held there for a second, then began glowing a brilliant pink. Suddenly, with an explosion that sent me flying back across the attic, that frozen moment of time began moving again…
"STOP!" Apollo's voice boomed through the room as he kicked aside the remaining bits of the door, dashed across the room and dragged me by the shoulders away from the cracked mirror, shafts of blinding light shining from behind the cracks.
"What are you doing?" I snapped, thrashing in the sun god's arms.
"You've got to get away from that thing!" he shouted, swung me about and tossed me to the ground in the doorway.
I landed flat on my back and Apollo immediately began examining the mirror, running a hand over the fractured surface. He swung back about and grabbed my injured hand, examining it quickly. "A connection was made, but as long as you keep away from it, it should stop you from being anchored."
I snatched my hand back. "What in Hades do you think you're doing?"
"It wouldn't have worked!" He roared, his eyes ablaze with sunlight, then glanced away. "Well, it would have, but not in the way you think!"
I glowered at him. "What in Zeus' name are you on about?"
"Look at your hand!" He commanded.
I glanced down at my bleeding hand and noticed with shock that there were threads of pink light in the fluid. As I watched, though, they seemed to fade. "Apollo, what's going on?"
He stood up, regarding the mirror as he spoke. "That's the connection to the mirror, and it's fading. Thankfully you weren't fully anchored to it. I stopped you just in time. At the moment, the breach looks like it's hanging by a thread, so long as you make sure no part of you touches-"
He was interrupted by a flash of pink light from the cracks between the mirror.
Apollo flinched back a step. "Oh, no. Oh, please don't tell me…"
I glanced between the pulsing light and the god. "What are you talking about, Apollo? What's going on?"
Apollo kept his wide eyes on the light. "I don't understand! Why didn't the other me stop him?"
I would've asked what he meant had the entire wall not begun trembling.
The light began expanding, and the space across the mirror began warping inwards and blending with that strange pink luminescence until the entire structure was shaking. The area in front of me continued to curve inward upon itself, like a swirling pink vortex.
The entire back wall exploded inwards into the distortion, followed quickly by the rest of the back of the building, until the open sky behind was visible.
The distortion in the air began widening and spreading until it was the exact rectangular shape the mirror had occupied in the place the wall had been. Then, from the middle, it began opening up, like someone had stuck their hands into the centre and began forcing space itself open.
My heart skipped a beat as the opening spread out to the full size of the space the mirror had occupied, and revealed what was on the other side:
The attic at Camp Half-blood, and Armani Dove…
Okay…That was weird.
I wiped my bloodied hand and stood up as the distortion settled down. Behind it stood a very pale-faced Apollo and Selene, wearing a gaping stare that I'm sure mirrored my own.
I took a hesitant step forwards, glancing down at where the two worlds met. The wooden floor stretched into a blur, which in turn blurred into the carpeted surface of the hotel room.
I glanced back at the Hunters, who seemed to be looking at me for some kind of command. To be honest, I really didn't know what to say. I was equally as clueless as to what was going on as they were. I had a feeling the person across the void might just hold some answers though.
I looked cautiously around the side as Ari, who must have caught sight of who was across the breach now, suddenly lurched forward. "Selene!"
My hand flashed up and grabbed her small shoulder, dragging her to a halt before she could reach the breach.
She struggled for a second but I raised my other hand up cautiously. She got my meaning and took a step back, allowing me to take the lead.
I looked cautiously down at the floor and up at my counterpart, who was staring back at me.
I carefully raised a foot up, stretched my leg gingerly forward across the blur, and touched the tip of my boot down on the carpeted floor, like testing the temperature of bath water.
Satisfied, I put my foot down and pulled myself across the gap, staggering slightly as I got my balance.
I stood up to full height, looking around at the devastation that surrounded me. I waved behind me, signaling the two Hunters to follow.
Ari and Aren crossed over and immediately went to my counterpart's side. "A-Aren, Ari? What exactly are you doing here?" Selene asked, still stunned too it would seem.
Ari smiled up at the taller girl. "Lady Artemis sent us to find you; we're here to bring you home."
She blinked. "My mother did?"
I was only paying detached attention to the happy reunions; my eyes were on Apollo, who was looking at me as if I had somehow sprung another head since we had last met.
"Uncle…what's going on?"
He just stared at me for another moment. "Why didn't I stop you?" he asked, his voice small and fearful.
That's not a good sign.
I blinked. "Excuse me?"
He shook his head and snapped himself out of his daze. "The other me, why didn't he stop you like I stopped Selene?"
I glanced to the side. "Umm, was he supposed to?"
"Yes!" he snapped. "You got too close to the crack, didn't you? You anchored yourself and made the connection!" he shouted, as if it were some great crime.
I glanced at the still-bleeding gash on the back of my hand, the blood crackling with pink energy. "B-but it was just a drop, a single drop of blood…"
He shook his head. "It doesn't matter how much! The veil between realities was hanging on a knife edge. You are from this universe; when you anchored yourself to the breach you made yourself a physical part of it and it tore through to the world of your origin—this one!"
I frowned. "Yeah, I got that, but isn't that what we were after? I'm back, after all."
He rolled his eyes, as if trying to get me to understand that one plus one equaled two. "Don't you get it? It would've been fine had it been just you trying to cross over, but Selene was doing it at the same time! You were punching a hole in reality from both sides simultaneously! Like two people punching a pane of glass from both sides at the same time; you'd do a lot more than simply punch a hole in it!"
Though I didn't get it, I still felt myself pale. "Uncle, what are you saying?"
He shook his head. "The only consolation is that Selene didn't manage to fully open it on this side too, so the effect shouldn't happen on her home side of the breach."
I gritted my teeth with frustration. "What effect? What's going on, Uncle? Forgive me, but in case you didn't know, I don't exactly have a very firm graspon transdimensional physics!"
He snarled back and stabbed a finger at the breach. "Look behind it!"
I frowned and walked cautiously behind the portal. From the sides it seemed to funnel down with a blur to a single point, and at that single point…
What in Hades….
…From that single point extended a pink line of energy. It stretched off across the skies and beyond the horizon like a glowing, jagged scar in the sky.
"It extends all the way to Camp Half-Blood," Apollo said from behind me. "To the exact point you left from in the other world."
"Armani!" I swung about at the sound of my mother's voice. She was looking at me with wide, disbelieving eyes. "I don't understand…How can you…" she said, walking slowly towards me and touching a small, warm hand to my cheek, as if to confirm I wasn't some kind of illusion.
I grasped the hand as if to gain some strength from it. "I'm back… If you want to know how, ask Apollo."
Her hand dropped down, instead grabbing hold of my arm, as if I would disappear again if she let me go. She turned to her brother, "Apollo?"
He was just glaring out over the skyline, looking at something I couldn't see. "I'm so sorry, sis. I wasn't quick enough…it's starting."
"What's sta-" Her enquiry was cut off as a sound like thunder roared across the skies. My head swung back towards the scar and watched with horror as the jagged edges began spreading out.
New cracks began forming in the skies, each followed by another crashing sound as they spread out into smaller cracks, like giant pink glowing ice crystals spreading across the skyline.
"Apollo…" Selene spoke up, her wide eyes glued to the sky as the cracks spread across it. "Is this what you were talking about?" She paused to swallow a fearful lump that had welled in her throat. "Are the realities going to cancel each other out?" she asked as Ares slowly walked into the room, rubbing the back of his head.
He glanced out over the skyline. "Wow…cosmic. What are you all up to?"
Apollo ignored Ares completely and merely shook his head, answering Selene's query. "No…That's not what's happening, although in the end I feel that would be far more merciful."
"What is happening?" Artemis demanded.
"Shall I answer that for you?" A level female voice suddenly spoke up, along with the sound of heeled shoes walking across a wooden floor.
All of us turned to see Eris calmly striding across the attic floor towards the portal. She looked down and hopped nimbly across with a "tally ho!"
Apollo staggered back a step. "What in Hades do you think you're doing?" he roared at the goddess. "There can't be two of the same Olympian occupying the same universe! Do you have any idea what coming here could do, or even what the lack of your presence is causing your own world?"
Eris waved him off. "Oh, hush, Apollo, I know the rules. But you see, I haven't technically left my own world; not entirely. It's a shame you stopped my avatar, though; things would've moved along a lot more speedily had it started on both sides of the breach. But no matter; it'll happen to my side eventually."
"What will happen?" Selene barked.
Eris sighed. "Patience, my avatar, I'm coming to it."
I glared at the goddess. "This is what you were after, then…"
She turned on me and smiled. "Yes, precisely, and I'm so, so proud of you. Of you both…" she whispered in a terrifyingly maternal way as she reached out to touch my cheek, in a perversely similar manner to my mother.
My mother obviously didn't like the idea much, either, as her hand shot out and violently batted Eris' away. The goddess staggered back a few paces, a golden welt on the back of her hand.
"Oh, how barbaric…" she said in mock hurt.
"Get on with it, Eris; we're all waiting for you to regurgitate your stupid exposition. We're listening intently for your stirring oration about how this was your plan all along: to collapse the worlds…or…or whatever it is you're up to," I said angrily.
The false anger in her eyes turned genuine as she glared at me. "Fine…" She turned and walked to the edge of the floor, where it gave way to the open view of the skyline. "I suppose I should begin by saying I was lying when last we spoke."
"I gathered. The whole 'me being pulled through was a setback' line you spat out; I'm guessing it was entirely the opposite."
She nodded. "You catch on so well! That's one of the reasons I've always liked you two. Yes, it was in fact one of the lynch pins that you be on the other side to ensure this all went down. I felt that saying that I hadn't planned it would give you enough of a glimmer of hope to think you were acting of your own accord."
"And that bull about just stalling us long enough for the breach to reopen itself and collapse both worlds?"
She smiled patronizingly. "Oh, now, that would have been terrible. Did you really think I wanted the worlds reduced to a realm of pure chaos where only I could exist? Surely not; that'd just be boring. Where would the upheaval be? Where would the change be? Ari was quite right; chaos for the sake of chaos is pointless."
"And that look of concern when I mentioned her possible death at what would've happened?"
She cocked her head. "Quite genuine, actually, of that I can assure you. I am still a mother, and I did find the prospect of my children's deaths distressing."
"Alright then…So what exactly is going on? What's happening, Eris?"
She extended a slender hand towards the skies. "The universe…Has become cracked."
Selene sighed, "What are you? The goddess of the painfully obvious? I thought you just said you didn't want realities to collapse in on each other."
"That's not what she's done…" Apollo said, his body glowing with rage. "She didn't want to destroy the walls between realities; she just wanted to weaken them…"
Eris clapped her hands together. "Gold star to the sun god! That's precisely it. It's also how I'm able to stand on this side of the breach; the walls between this world and my own have become so thin I'm technically able to exist in both without actually leaving it."
"But why?" I asked. "What's the point of just 'cracking' reality?"
She smiled. "Upheaval and change. Through the cracks, things will be able to come and go from every other reality conceivable. You'll never be without something fun to deal with!"
Apollo glowered at her, his anger barely contained. "The only things capable of pushing through those cracks would be creatures of such power you wouldn't want them entering your reality! Nightmares will ravage this world and all others, creatures of such inconceivable horror will rend entire realities asunder; whole civilizations will collapse!"
Eris shrugged. "If that's the final effect, then so be it. It's the upheaval and change I'm interested in. Reality will still exist, but it'll be much more… interesting."
I glanced out at the sky and I shuddered as I looked between some of the wider cracks.
There were things waiting on the other side.
I saw a large eye, curious and malevolent, regarding our world. Through another opening there was a large tentacle-like limb the size of a city block bashing against the fabric of space. I looked to others, and I would rather not describe the countless horrors I saw waiting to punch through into the world.
"Interesting?" Apollo bellowed, his voice thick with emotion. "Interesting isn't the word, Eris! You'll turn this world into hell! All worlds! Countless billions, trillions across limitless universes will be killed because of this!"
Again…she just shrugged and examined her black fingernails. "Upheaval isn't always pleasant, Apollo. I just cause it, I don't settle it."
There was a deafening sound like shattering glass as the tentacle-like limb smashed through the veil and shot down through the air towards us.
My mother released me, and both she and Apollo summoned their bows on reflex and began firing bolts of silver and gold energy at the appendage as it thrashed up towards us.
Ares leapt up, his blade flaming, and sliced the tip of the limb down the middle.
There was a spray of black blood, along with a deafening alien squeal of pain from behind the crack, and suddenly the damaged tentacle was pulled back into the darkness.
Ares landed and swung around to face Apollo. "Alright, Captain Sunshine, just what in Hades is going on around here?"
"Weren't you listening?" Apollo demanded.
Ares rolled his eyes. "All I heard was 'blah blah, I'm a crazy lady, blah blah…'"
Eris clapped with glee. "See, isn't this fun?" she said, positively beaming with delight.
I stared numbly out over the skies as I watched the world quite literally go to hell. "Uncle…" I said suddenly, interrupting him from his exasperated attempt to explain the situation to Ares. "…Is there nothing you can do to stop this?"
He stopped and regarded me. I watched as desperation crossed his features, then despair. "I'm sorry."
I turned back to the descending chaos. I regarded the stinging gash on the back of my hand. Each time something bashed against the cracks, the light in my blood pulsed madly. I felt Selene approach my side.
Looks like this is it…
"I always knew we were a born pair of troublemakers…"
I smiled sadly and inclined my head. "Such a tiresome world; always felt I never really was compatible with it, to be honest; this tiresome, exasperating, insane, annoying, ugly, beautiful world…"
She rested a hand on my shoulder. "They'll have to take the pair of us, though. I suppose this is all our fault, after all."
I regarded her hand out of the corner of my eye. The cut was bleeding out pristine crimson blood. I compared it to the glowing gash on my own hand and heaved a tired sigh.
I guess there's only one thing for it, then…
"No…Not your fault, just mine…"
She looked at me in confusion and I raised my partially glowing hand up in front of her.
She stared at it wordlessly and then looked back to me. As her eyes met mine I gave a small smile. "Time for you to go home, Selene."
She shook her head as understanding crossed across her face. "No…"
I squeezed her bleeding hand. "Come now, neither of us are ones for self-pity."
She swallowed a lump and I held her gaze with mine, understanding passing between us.
"You're impossible to the end."
I laughed quietly. "I wouldn't want to be any other way…Now, off you go, sister. I've got a story to end."
She took a steadying breath as a single tear fell from her eye.
"And none of that, either; be strong for me, until the end."
She steeled herself and put on a calm mask, turning and walking for the breach. "Ari, Aren…Let's go."
Aren opened her mouth to object. "We can't just-"
"I said we're going!" she snapped with her back turned so no one could see her face. "We have to go back."
"Listen to her, "I said. "You're on a mission for Lady Artemis, and it's time for the two of you to go."
They were clearly hesitant to leave us to our fate, but their duty towards their goddess was prevalent. Reluctantly, they obeyed and crossed back to their own world. Selene paused at the edge and gave me one final glance.
It would be the last time I ever saw her. I sent her a farewell smile.
As she turned away, I spoke up. "There is one last thing I'd like to ask; something that's been nagging away at me since we first met."
She paused, not turning. "What?" she asked, her voice thick with emotion.
"Just what did Apollo name you after?"
She choked out a laugh and I could tell she had just wiped a tear from her eye. "I suppose you've earned that much…There was a poem on his nightstand, on the day he took me to the orphanage. It was called Ode to my Precious Selene. Nico tells me you were named after one of his suits."
I couldn't contain a laugh. "Oh ho, named after one of his suits, or named after one of his poems…I think I won on that one."
She was silent for a second. "I have just one last thing to say to you, too…"
"And what's that?"
She took another steadying breath. "If I were born a boy, I'd just like you to know…I'm glad that I'd be you."
She couldn't see me smile back in response. "The feeling's quite mutual."
Sentimentality pushed aside, I turned to Apollo. "Uncle, I have a plan," I announced suddenly.
The sun god swung about, lowering the bow he had aimed out over the skyline. He frowned. "What?"
"I said, I have a plan. You need to destroy the breach itself," I explained.
He rolled his eyes. "And how do you suggest I pull that off?"
I pointed at the gap in the air. "You hit the breach with your fate arrow and wipe it out of existence."
Suddenly Eris laughed. "You imbecile, do you really think something like that would actually work?"
I kept my gaze on the sun god. "Uncle, if you ever chose a time to trust me, then I swear on the River Styx, this is it." I flinched as a great inhuman cry echoed across the skies from one of the cracks.
He glanced cautiously at the source of the sound, then groaned. "Smashing plan, but even if that could work, in case you don't recall, you destroyed the arrow. It'll take a while yet to properly regenerate."
"Uncle, it's the only chance we've got. You have to try."
He frowned at me. "I suppose I could give it a go, whatever little good it would do, but I doubt it'd even be close to full power."
I shook my head. "It doesn't matter; I'll take what you can get, but we have to try!"
He shook his own head in response. "Better than standing around doing nothing, I guess…"
He handed his bow to my mother and spread his arms wide. With a flash, a half-melted pair of knitting needles appeared in one hand, a snapped pair of scissors in the other.
Apollo looked at them in despair. "I'm not sure I can pull this off."
"Give it a go, uncle!" I snapped, eying the spreading cracks.
He clenched his teeth and the implements began blurring together slowly. They crackled and distorted as Apollo brought both hands together. Then they were pushed apart, as if having trouble merging.
He let out a groan of strain and slammed his hands together.
There was a flash, and then he was holding that blurred shape of his fate arrow.
"I'm not sure how long I can hold this together, or even if it will work, but-"
"But it will have to do!" I snapped. "Take aim!" I pointed to a low point in the air in the centre of the opening.
The sun god shook his head as he picked up his bow and nocked the distorted shape. "I'm not sure how exactly this will help, but if you know something I don't, then-" he cocked his head acceptingly and aimed at the point I had indicated.
He began pulling the drawstring back. Selene and the Hunters stood to the side on the other side of the breach for safety.
Wait for it…
Eris laughed. "And what exactly do you-" suddenly she paused. Her head snapped around towards me and her eyes widened in shock as I shot her a dark smirk. "No!" she shouted, but it was too late.
Apollo's hand opened, and he loosed the arrow.
And with one swift movement… I stepped into its path.
Armani gasped as the arrow stabbed into his chest and staggered back a single step, but didn't fall. He remained propped upright, as if pinned to an invisible wall. He winced at first, then relaxed as he realized that even as the arrow slowly began to remove his presence in the universe, it was causing him no pain.
He looked down at the blur protruding from his chest and smiled ironically. "Well, I'll be, lightning may not strike the same place twice, but the same apparently can't be said for arrows." He looked up at his mother and uncle with moist eyes. "Good shot."
Artemis dropped her bow and tried to run forwards, but Apollo grabbed her under the arms and dragged her back. "Let me go!" she growled, thrashing in her brother's arms. "Apollo!"
"You can't touch him! he hissed. "If you get caught up in the expulsion…do you have any idea what would happen to this world if you suddenly disappeared?"
She let out a despairing cry and went slack in his arms, reaching a hand out towards her son. "Why?"
He reached out his own hand, stopping an inch from her own, and looked into his mother's eyes. "I'm so sorry, mother, but it was the only way…" he displayed the back of his injured hand. "I'm a physical part of the breach; the only tangible part that exists. Destroy me, and the damage to reality is erased along with me." He glanced off to the side as the furthest trailing cracks began fizzling away into nothing, closing in around them as the effect took hold.
Won't be long now…If you've got something to say…
He sighed as he watched the healing wounds in space and glanced down at the arrow again, cocking his head. "I must say, this ranks amongst the most foolish things I've ever done…"
"Apollo!" Artemis cried. "There must be something, anything-"
The sun god shook his head as he gripped onto his sister with trembling hands, and then to his nephew, who simply smiled, he whispered, "You didn't have to… why did you…"
Armani laughed. "Even now, the god of poetry can't get his words out. I suppose I'd better start by saying that as much as you infuriate me…I suppose I do love you, uncle. Just swear you won't tell anyone those were part of my last words." He glanced about. "What else? Ah, yes, I suppose, before I go, I'd best admit it: I never read it."
Apollo blinked a tear away to frown. "Read what?"
"That book. Although it was discussing said book with the other Artemis that's delayed your alternate self in getting here. I feel you should know that."
The sun god smiled sadly. "You know, in retrospect, I suppose it wasn't that good."
Armani laughed again, his voice breaking slightly. "Well, I'll be; personal growth… Will you remember me?"
Apollo managed a laugh too. "You're not the forgettable sort."
He smiled in response. "You know that's not what I mean."
He shook his head, golden tears in his eyes. "The arrow didn't have enough power in it to erase your past; our memories of you will remain."
"Well…That's something, I guess."
He then regarded Artemis, who stood limp in Apollo's arms, her eyes filled with anguish; the agony of a mother being forced to watch her only child being torn away in front of her, and unable to do a thing about it.
The cracks were growing smaller, the main gash across the sky closing in on the hotel roof as the breach began to close behind him.
Armani's eyes turned to Eris as her body began to glow and distort as reality forced her back to her own world, like drawing poison from a wound. "I think it's time for you to go, Eris."
As her body faded, she looked at Armani with an unreadable expression, neither happy nor sad, angry or upset, and spoke two simple words before fading back to her own dimension:
He exhaled a breath and at last turned to meet his mother's despairing gaze, smiling sadly. "Oh, mother, I'm so, so sorry…"
"There's nothing I can do?" she choked through her glistening tears.
He merely inclined his head. "You can tell me you love me…I think I'd like that."
"You know I love you! With all I have."
He breathed a happy sigh. "Ahh, that's nice…"
"Armani-" Artemis sobbed, fighting for words that would not come.
"Do me a favor, mother…" he asked levelly as the breach closed, the arrow stabbing through his chest and into a pink spot in the air, as if it had pierced space itself.
Artemis didn't have the strength to enquire what it was he was asking.
His eyes softened. "Look after Lya for me. Tell her…tell her I'm sorry…that I can't be her friend anymore."
He glanced down as his feet began trailing away into speckles of glowing pink dust as oblivion finally reached out to claim him.
As if suddenly struck by a thought, his head snapped back up. "Oh! And Aren! I'd like you to tell her…tell her that I-" he paused as his upper body began to fade.
He then shot his mother a small contented smile, his last smile. for her alone, and gave one final ironic sigh. "…oh, never mind…"
[A/N] Well, I suppose I do owe you all an explanation for how the tale finally turned out. The truth is, heroes do not always survive, but they always triumph. Armani's place was always to cause chaos, and he knew the only way to avert his destiny was to remove his future. I'm sorry to you all for not giving a happier ending, but this is the only way things could've turned out, and I hope you've enjoyed the yarn I span. I thank you all who've read, those who reviewed and even those who just spared it a passing glance and continued reading out of morbid curiosity.
And one more thing, before I end this…Do you know when you go to the cinema, and you leave when the lights come on, only to find out after you buy the DVD that you missed out a scene the director had sneakily placed after the ending credits? Well, for those of you who wait…Just in case… Despite how foolish you feel for just sitting there…this is for you.
"Well, it looks like we were wrong…" the large man said in his deep voice.
"An astounding observation, Butler. Although I am personally grateful, for once, to be mistaken in my assumption, for if it had been a Hybras Demon that came through, it would've been even more…painful," the boy responded. His voice was cold, smooth and pondering.
"Well, it was your fault, Artemis," responded the short woman who standing nearby as she regarded the prone newcomer.
The boy waved it off. "A minor miscalculation on my part. Even genius isn't perfect. But I must admit, it was most unexpected," he said, crouching down to examine the unconscious boy.
"Which part? That he wasn't a Demon, or that he landed on your head?"she enquired with a smirk.
His black eyebrow twitched irritably. "Oh, how very droll, Holly," he muttered, turning the child's head over and checking his pulse.
His hand moved up the side of the boy's face. "I assure you, Butler, he's perfectly-" he began. As he spoke, his hand brushed the sleeping child's right earlobe…
And just like that, Artemis Fowl the Second suddenly found himself missing two of his teeth.
Fin… for real this time…
[A/N] Come now, you didn't really think I was done with him, now did you? A world of thanks to Shrrgnien for her awesome work as my beta having completed the beta on all three books, she deserves a mountain of kudos for completing such a mountainous task. I'll be back later this summer, probably early August. So, until then…
I'll catch you all in Broken Bow Book 4: A Boy Called Artemis.