A/N: Hello! Long time no see - was a bit busy with NaNo (I won!) and I'm still working on that novel, plus the first of a series I'm writing with a friend. Very busy. My reason for updating? Well, I felt bad about leaving you all for so long, and . . . I have an ebook! That's right, I have an ebook available for purchase on Kobo. It's three short stories for three dollars. It'd be wonderful if anyone got it and liked it. Thought I'd let you all know. It's "Journeys Home & Other Strange Things" by Fainne J. Firmin.
That's all, go read this chapter.
Percy: I Meet the Darkest Dawn, and All Their Soul-Destroying Powers
I had a dream that night, and while a lot of it didn't make sense and blurred together, it was pretty bad. Like, all the gods yelling and making threats at me bad.
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't get scared easily. I've faced down monsters and gods and primadorial forces so by now dreams are pretty-second rate unless they show friends currently dying. This, though, was a nasty dream.
I was running underground, through tunnels of brown stone with strange closed doorways on either side and multi-coloured crystals shimmering above me. A heavy, thick white mist coiled around me as I ran. Voices hissed in my head.
Death . . . death to them . . . protect the daughter . . . no, no let her forage ahead! . . . too strong, too strong . . . not strong enough, weak . . . powerful . . . nothing . . . protect the daughter . . . leave her . . . protect – leave – protect – leave – protect, protect – leave – ENOUGH!
I jerked to a stop as if I'd run into a brick wall. The mist swirled around my body in a way that was awfully familiar. I looked to my left and saw one of the doors open slightly. I pushed inside as the voices hissed again, you've no power here . . . keep an eye on . . . ancient . . . oh, so ancient . . . heed my words . . .
There was a vast cavern on this side, the ceiling rising up to be lost in the glitter of gems. The floor turned into a big, gaping hole, with bars of Celestial bronze, Imperial gold, and Tempest silver criss-crossing it, like bars on a prison cell. I was put in the mind of an entrance to Tartarus, except this had a different feel.
The voices grew louder, less coherent, and the mist grew thicker. Something roared from in the pit. A call so loud the cavern shook. Many small red eyes flashed beneath the bars, a dark shadow slamming into the edges of it cage. The cavern began to collapse around me.
I woke up. It was day. Annabeth was awake and munching on breakfast. She gave me a concerned look. I guess I looked pretty shaken. "Don't mention this to the other two, but if we end up facing a ginormous evil monsters, I can strangle the Fates, right?"
Annabeth sighed. "Is a nice, decently quiet life really too much to ask for?"
As the four of us hiked around the top of Weaver's Needle and towards Battleship Mountain (I'm starting to see why evil chose this place) there was something subtly . . . different about our group. Just the smallest shift in how things were, something I couldn't put my finger on.
I found myself watching Cora a fair bit, because we were going to confront a group of people who were, well, her enemy, you could say. The only problem was, not everything added up.
They needed Cora, yet they were still going ahead with this ritual either way. They might have been betting a lot on the belief she'd show up, except they didn't have a devious enough mind for certainty. Then what exactly were they up to? And what was that thing in the pit?
Cora glanced at Hunter, a little smile on her face. That was good. Weird, but good. Still, the bad feeling wouldn't go away. The four of us kept walking.
We knew we found the right place, because there was a tall thin man with a conical hat and weird robes and a missing nose and a hand that looked mutilated standing above us.
It was at a choke point in the mountains, a narrow place with sheer drops on either side. The necromancer stood at the top, a level above us. The rocky ground looked kind of like really steeps steps, sloping up to where he stood.
The man was smiling at us.
"You came," he said, voice heavy and thick and cold. "As I knew you would. Now, our time is at hand." Cora opened her mouth to say something. He spoke over her, "You claim to come to stop us, yet do you not want the power to chose your own destinies? Do you not want to know your past, daughter of Poseidon? We offer you much, yet you spit it back in our faces."
"Pretty ugly faces," I said.
He fixed his dead eyes on me. "Oh yes, Percy Jackson, very ugly indeed. Would you like to see the truth?" He must of released whatever Mist he'd been using, because he suddenly looked like a corpse. That brought back way to many back memories.
"You're necromancers who look like the walking dead, big deal," Cora snapped. I heard the slightest quiver in her voice.
"You want more of a challenge?" His gaze swivelled to Cora. "Then I will oblige." He thrust a hand out to the side. "Rise, my pet, the time of your triumph is now!"
Something called, a sound so loud and deep the ground shook. I heard the slow, heavy flaps of massive wings. And then it rose from behind the cliff.
A monster the size of a blimp, with reptilian skin the colour of dried blood, more serpentine heads than I could count, taloned feet and fingers and the body of a dragon, wings fit to block out the sun, and glowing red eyes on every snake like head.
It was the monster from the pit.
For a moment, I was paralyzed, this thing was huge, something meant to fight the gods themselves, not us.
The necromancer laughed. "Do you like it? We created it ourselves – an amalgamation of dead bodies and souls. The result of centuries of work. And when this creatures has its full power and rises on Olympus, it will snuff out the very sun. It will make the darkest dawn."
Without thinking, I drew Riptide, and Annabeth drew her knife. The necromancer laughed again. "By all means, challenge it. When it kills you your life force will join it." He stared at Cora, hungrily. "What about you, little heroine? Will you fight? Or is your heart beating too loudly? Are you too scared to draw your weapon? Or perhaps, you are waiting for helpful advice from the goddess in your head? Well?"
I looked at Cora, wondering what he meant. She looked like someone had hit her in the face and ripped out her heart. She looked completely and utterly heartbroken.