A\N: Amidst my teenaged insanity and obsession with American McGee's Alice, I was able to write this chapter! This took more time than I'd hoped for, but I suck at fight scenes and the lovely Wikipedia was down for the count; so I had to hold out until today, to be able to write this like I wanted to.
The next chapter is, unfortunately, going to be a lot late, because I plan to start writing a little (I'm not sure if I'm allowed to use that word anymore) side-story to this: "Sanguine Testamenti: The Langley Chronicles" (whew! That's a mouthful) which follows some of the other lovely OCs that people lent to me, and my own character; Andromeda, as they gather information for Aléxandros and face perils like ever before. I hope you guys don't mind!
Thanks in advance to all that read, favorite, and review. Of course; special thanks to Lynn, (whose reviews make me smile like a maniac off her meds) and the people I list below.
Characters in this chapter: Aléxandros by Spartan-TeaParty (me), Stephanie Anderson by Starfan1245, Atlanta Hunter by DuskLightening, Kyle Anderson by Neon Templar, Zoe Hutton by artemishunter77, Katie Knapp by GoGreen216, Matthew Ross by Smartone101, and Sky by August57.
Disclaimer: Percy Jackson and the Olympian's does not belong to me, and neither does anything recognizable outside this story.
Warnings for this chapter: Swearing, comic mischief and crude humor (I think?), extreme violence, descriptive gore, and lots of blood. If I forgot anything, be sure to tell me!
While Katie was led to the fighting cage; Matthew, Sky and Zoe were led to the stone benches that sat just a few scant feet away from the barred enclosure. Unlike the spectral spectators; the demigods were solid forms—solid forms that could get blood on them; especially, at this short distance away from the impending carnage.
Sky scrunched up her nose, at the thought of being coated by the entrails of a few unlucky creatures. A wave of nausea washed over her, as she sank onto the unyielding stone bench. She came here for a challenge, not a macabre Gallagher show; and that's exactly what she was going to get.
Zoe scooted away from the redhead, as she noticed how green around the gills, she looked. Blood wouldn't stain her black clothes; like Sky's vomit would, and didn't the smell of blood wasn't as bad, either. Holding her sweater closed, at the wispy trails of cold that seeped into the seams of her clothes, and chilled her skin to her very bones; the daughter of Hades looked around the arena.
It was, as she had seen it before, filled—from the ceiling to the rows behind them—with the spirits of dead. Gods, how did she get stuck in a spot like this. Surrounded by the dearly-departed, with no way out—sure, she held a mild control over the dead; like any other child of Hades, but that didn't make them any less unnerving to be around.
Tapping her foot on the floor, Zoe started grumbling impatiently for Katie to step into the arena.
Matthew was just as antsy, but he didn't show it. Leaning back coolly, with his hands in his pockets, he hummed a song familiar only to himself and the other children of Apollo. He hummed to himself only a moment longer, before he and the rest of the audience were standing up at the sight of Katie entering the enclosure via a hatch in the floor.
She looked almost unfamiliar with the confident, murderous aura that swirled about her and clung to her like a pungent perfume. Her brown hair had been intricate decorated with laurels and jewels in the time she had been missing, and looking at her in the light that poured in from the ceiling, Matthew thought Adrastos' earlier assessment that Katie looked like a nymph was correct.
The daughter of Nike smiled at her companions, before stepping away from the open hatch and making her way to the center of the cage. Behind her Adrastos appeared from the opening in the floor, with a glimmering metal case under his strong arm. He didn't say anything; he regarded the demigods outside of the cage with a knowing look, before placing the case on the floor by Katie's feet, and disappearing back where he came from.
After that, the arena was shortly enveloped in silence, and in the time, the demigods approached the cage with an air of anxiety about them. Was the trial about to begin? What was that case for?
They received their answer, as quickly as it was posed—Katie had opened the case, and from it sprung a bustle of creatures. Bat-like wings, claws and fangs were all that was visible of the beasts; as it was so hard to distinguish one from the other, given how close together they flew.
In a matter of moments, the cage was filled with furies; and there was no way to tell if Katie was still alive amongst the cluster of winged creatures. Their squawks and shrieks at being released, and the sound of their fleshy wings and bodies hitting against each other was deafeningly loud—louder than the roar of the ethereal crowds roars of excitement—louder than Sky's shrieks of shock and despair, as she lurched forward and grabbed the bars of the cage in her grasp (and despite having her knuckles scratched and battered by the sharp knife-like claws of the furies how occupied the space behind the bars, she held on tight and resolutely) until both of her hands went numb.
For a moment, it truly seemed like Katie had been killed during the release of the furies; there was just no way could anyone possibly survive the ravenous horde of violent creatures that were frantically biting, clawing and screeching as they fought to free themselves from the large enclosure.
Sky's waterline stung, as the dread of losing her friend made itself known like buckets of ice down the back of her shirt—and the throbbing pain in her chest was just enough to override the pain in her surely injured fingers. Blood trickled down the palm of her hand, down her wrists and her forearm, before soaking into the sleeve of her shirt and staining the ground beneath her.
Matthew scrunched his nose up at the metallic smell of blood, and turned his emerald gaze down to search out the source. Seeing that it came from Sky's hands, instead of from inside the cage, his heart (much to his displeasure) surged with relief that just maybe the daughter of Nike was still alive in there. Reaching out, he grabbed the redhead's elbows and pulled her away from the cage—right in time, too, because a Harpy's teeth had just found the spot where Sky's hands were, and began biting and snapping angrily at them.
"She's survived a lot worse." Zoe reassured flatly, as she squinted into the flurry of movement and tried to make out any part of the petite brunette—be the ostentatious garb she had on, the sword in her hand; or even the laurel in her hair. There was a flash of lustrous red—and the ravenette followed the glaring color with her onyx eyes until it disappeared completely from sight. She was in there, no doubt.
A haughty 'I-know-something-they-don't' kind of smirk etched into Zoe's features, and the daughter of Hades turned to her companions with a knowing look in her eyes, right as an ear-piercing howl reverberated around the arena.
The entirety of the audience that hadn't already been on their feet, stood up looking shocked and downright scandalized, as the horrid wailing continued from inside the dark claw-filled recesses of the metal confine.
Another bellow of agony joined the other one, soon enough another cry and another. The amphitheater was soon filled with the sounds of a gory massacre, and with each echoing shriek and bloody gurgle; the noise of violence and flesh being torn viciously apart grew louder and more bloodcurdling, as the sound traveled from the depths of the cage and outwards towards the high walls of the room.
The black and gray charred flesh of the furies soon became stained with so much dark crimson fluid, that it looked black on their bodies and wings, in the shadow that the creatures casted on one other—if the smell of Sky's blood in the air drove them into a frenzy, it was nothing to what their own blood and gore did to them.
Wings flapped dangerously loud, and teeth sank into the flesh of fellow furies, as the creatures tried desperately to satiate their hunger. And as the violence within the cage grew to unbelievable heights, Sky and Matthew found themselves with their backs to the enclosure, as blood sprayed them freely.
Zoe didn't even flinch, as the tar-like blood soaked into her clothes, stained her hair and drenched her skin in the smell of death—she did, however, blink when a stray rivulet of blood trailed down from her fringe and unto her eyelid. Wiping the ruby track from her eye, the daughter of Hades pursed her lips. Disgusting; Harpy blood smelled worse than anything she could think of—and she could think of a lot of things.
Matthew resisted the strong assault of emotions and memories that washed over him, as the warm, revolting liquid clung to his skin; but, couldn't hold back the violent tremor that seized his body, no matter how hard he fought against it. Bitterness bubbled up in the pit of his stomach, and the son of Apollo unknowing slumped against Sky, his arms twined around her like she was a lifeline; as he tried to gain control over himself, once more.
The daughter of the winds had no idea why the brunette was holding her, but didn't ask, because her attention had been grasped by the sight of Katie reappearing from the flock of furies.
The daughter of Nike held fast onto her sword, with a look of intoxicated vehemence on her face; as she sliced, kicked, punched and mowed down all that dared to take a slash at her. Katie roared, as one of the creatures dove down at her—flapping it's wings and screeching as if that would immediate the demigoddess—and kicked it square in the teeth, when it got close enough.
The Harpy whizzed back, hitting the wall of the cage with a strangled sound of pain. It didn't have a chance to recover, however, because the daughter of Nike was fast approaching it with her blood-drenched sword held high, and posed above her head.
Katie gave a tremendous shout that shook the building, and sounded too great for a woman, (let alone a teenaged girl her size) as she dodged and slashed the furies that put themselves between her and her intended prey.
When the demigoddess reached the wounded Harpy; which tried to ward her off with a toothless, but all the while threatening, blood-filled hiss, (because, it could not take flight; due to the wing that it broke when it impacted with the cage's wall) she smirked wickedly down at it.
What she did next drove the crowd wild. Katie lifted her crimson-stained sandal swiftly kicked the Harpy in the shoulder repeatedly—the brittle bones there gave way and cracked loudly under the assault; and the flesh bowed and deformed, as the color went from stony gray, to a wide variety of angry reds to lifeless purples.
The daughter of Nike ceased her kicking abruptly, when another Harpy flew at her and sunk its claw into the space between her shoulder and armor, and ripped her from the ground with a powerful tug. The brunette shrieked—more wrathful than shocked—as the ground grew further away from her feet, and began struggling against the hold on her.
The crowd gasped, not helping Katie's nerves at all, and the brunette flailed so violently, that she almost dropped her sword. Almost. Feeling the handle slipping fast from her slick grasp, she tightened her fingers around it and with a mighty heave, raised the celestial bronze blade above her head and slashed at the Harpy's leg with all of her strength.
Its muscular leg gave way under the blade's assault—the flesh, muscle and a strong bone yielded to the sharp metal; ripping apart in a bloody, jagged line and dropping off like the dead-weight it was. The Harpy howled in agony, as its leg was severed by Katie's blade, (plasma was spraying from the stump at an alarming rate, and soaking the demigoddess' shoulder-plate and garb) and with its still connected one, it swung the brunette towards a live wall of awaiting furies.
Without either of the two legs that held her high up in the air, Katie felt the pull of gravity around her body; tugging and yanking her back down to terra firma, and the rush of momentum that sent her down on an arch, and caused her stomach to flip and churn.
The daughter of Nike knew she only had seconds to react, before she plowed into the other bloodthirsty creatures and was torn into pieces, and wasn't going to waste it getting sick from the high fall.
Angling her body so that she was no longer falling, but gliding through the air, Katie held her arms out in front of her face to shield from the many claws and teeth that came whizzing towards her face at neck-break speed.
The noise that echoed from Katie's painful impact with the group of furies had the audience, and the other demigods, standing on edge. Concern, disappointment, anxiety and excitement; in various degrees, was painted on everyone's face, as they waited for the daughter of Nike to cut down the creatures.
She didn't cut them down, but she did reemerge. Katie flew from the collection of woman-shaped monsters, riding on the muscled back of one of them. Her legs were wrapped tightly around its midsection, and the toned muscles underneath the scraped up skin throbbed as a testament to how strong her clutch on the Harpy's form was.
The creature wasn't without its complaints—it bucked and swerved and tried to knock the brunette off—but, when the daughter of Nike scooted up its lithe back and sliced deeply into the Harpy's throat with her sword; its wriggling immediately ceased, and the life-force drained from the creature, causing it to fall from midair like a ragdoll.
Katie, of course, had anticipated this, and jumped from its back before she lost too much height. She expertly caught the ankle of another creature, and before it could kick her off, she jabbed her blade into its underbelly.
Blood gushed from its wound like the shower of water from a broken pipe, and the brunette spit and sputtered as the liquid splashed onto her face and temporarily blinded her.
Another felled Harpy; another plummet from high heights, and this time Katie couldn't see. She tried desperately to wipe the blood out of her eyes-but couldn't, despite her best efforts. Swearing, she tried to turn over, so that she could free-fall on her stomach, instead of her back, but through the curtain of red that blotted out her vision-she saw the ground fast approaching and knew she wouldn't be able to do it. Bracing herself for the fall that would surely kill her, the brunette clenched her teeth. Damn it! She couldn't die like this-she couldn't die from a stupid fall!
"RAAARGH," came the startling battle-cry that rumbled from the depths of her soul, and echoed throughout the hall. There was a blur of movement; as the furies raced to catch Katie and rip her limb from limb—and before anyone knew what was happening, there was a large wave of blood that sprayed from the cage and onto the audience. From the demigods' bottom-row seats, and the rows near the ceiling, there was blood coating everything.
Sky felt woozy from the heavy smell of Harpy blood—there was just so much of it, it was disgusting—and if not for Matthew still clinging to her side, she would have swayed on her feet.
"Sit down, love-birds. You both look like you're going to faint." Zoe joked wryly, before spitting out a stream of dark crimson and wiping her mouth off with her sleeve. She ended up smearing more blood than she wiped off, but she didn't care—the ravenette was more concerned with getting the foul taste out of her mouth. Reaching into her pocket, she found her relief in the form of a packet of red vines. Careful not to touch the candy with her bloody hands, Zoe ripped the bag open and tore into the confectionery.
Matthew wondered just how the hell the ravenette could bother to eat—what with all the gore around and on them—but, didn't put much more thought into it, because Sky was much better at drawing his attention than thoughts were. Annoying people just had a way of keeping him from his ponders—especially when they shoved him, like Sky did.
The son of Apollo stumbled (but, only just a little—Sky wasn't nearly strong enough to make him lose his footing altogether), before catching himself to keep from slipping on the slicked floor and falling. It would be embarrassing if he fell, because a girl pushed him. Once he was stable, he made a point to shove her back hard and glare.
Sky was about to curse him out, when Zoe pointed towards the cage. The enclosure was stained a grizzly red; but, on the plus side, there was not any one Harpy flying about-Katie had been methodical enough; as whatever was left of them was splayed out across the enclosure's floor in heaps of red.
Sliced, mangled and battered wings, legs, torsos and heads lay around, crimson stained and visibly twitching; but, upon closer inspection, Sky realized with a muted horror that there was no Katie standing triumphantly in the middle of the massacre.
In fact, the daughter of Nike was nowhere to be seen. Panic seized the daughter of the Winds, and she was gripping onto the bars, once more, as she searched out her friend with frantic turquoise eyes. "Katie—Kat, where are you! Are you okay?" Sky called worriedly.
Zoe was about to tell the redhead that Katie was fine—the demigoddess had to be; since there weren't any obnoxious bells going off in the daughter of Hades' head—but, she was interrupted by the roar of applause from the crowd when Katie arose from a particularly large pile of mangled bodies. Head to foot, she was covered with red and appendages that didn't belong to her; and it was a wonder why Adrastos had given her such beautiful garments, only for her to get them dreadfully filthy.
Stepping into the center of the cage, Katie spit out a considerable amount of blood, before howling haughtily, along with the raving crowd. Holding up her sword and a brutally severed Harpy head, the brunette let her murderous facade fall away for an unfitting look of childish excitement. "Guys, I did it!" She squeaked, dropping the head and racing over to the side of the cage that her companions were stationed at. "I cleared the first ro—whoa!" Slipping on a puddle of entrails, the daughter of Nike fell comically onto her back.
Her clumsiness didn't faze the crowd in no way—they were still chanting and cheering—but, Zoe thought it was absolutely hilarious. The ravenette laughed freely, and only stopped when Katie sat up and flicked the blood off her sword in her direction.
"Watch it, Knapp!" The daughter of Hades hissed, side-stepping the spray of blood like an angry cat avoiding water. (More like a soaked to the bone cat avoiding a just few more drops of water. There really was no point in worrying about getting wetter—or bloodier, in her case—but, she refused to get another drop on her.)
Katie smiled brightly in response, as she picked herself and her weapon off the ground. Once she was on her feet, she bowed to the raving crowd and looked around for her half-brother. "Adrastos," The brunette called out, upon spotting him prowling around the row behind her companions. When he looked up at her with his one brown eye, the daughter of Nike smirked smugly, "Brother, do you seriously believe that this trial is difficult?"
Adrastos grinned back, crossing his strong arms over his chest, "This is only the beginning, my dearest sister."
The second and third rounds were just as gory as the first, and Sky was sure that the cleaning crew that came in between rounds was up to their necks in filth and entrails, and pissed beyond belief at Katie—because, apparently; they weren't used to challengers being able to run-through the beasts as quickly, and as brutally, as the daughter of Nike did.
And, Katie was like a machine, during round three; as if inflicted with both Ares' bloodlust and Lyssa's insanity. As the Minotaur swung its mighty fist at her, the brunette ducked skillfully, before catching the beast with a vicious right hook; her haymaker sent the monster off balance, and that was all she needed to land a slash of her sword across its ribs.
It didn't bleed like the furies; but, it got pissed off on a whole other level then the Gorgon of round two. The creature bellowed ferociously—and the sound made even the mightiest warrior's blood run cold—before it swiped its arms wildly at Katie.
The brunette backed away from the Minotaur—putting just enough space between them—before she beckoned the creature over with a whoop. "COME AND GET ME!"
It sure tried. The creature charged at Katie with all its speed and it outstretched its claws. The daughter of Nike hoped it would; smirking as she easily sidestepped it, she slashed its gnarled hands off with one sure slice.
Outside of the cage, Zoe wrapped her fingers around the bars and wire that kept them from assisting Katie—not that she needed it, anyway. An odd look of concentration and sadistic delight on her face; she shouted, "Come on, Knapp, tear him to pieces!"
Sky shared her enthusiasm. Pounding her palms on the fence, she cheered just as ferociously. When Matthew shot her a look, she stopped her vulgar chants. "Just a few more of them to go; and that next round'll start!"
The beast roared in agony—and, Katie thought for a moment that she had delivered a good blow to it—and through a strange twist of fate; the Minotaur's hands grew back!
Katie was caught off guard by its regeneration; but when its talon-like nails cut through the air with a frightening volume, but she was rather unfazed by it—and dodged the swipes with ease.
Back flipping when it roared louder and advanced on her with a speed unusual for its size, the brunette dodged another rogue claw and blocked another with her sword, before landing a sharp kick in the Minotaur's chest.
It didn't stagger this time; instead, it breathed hotly from its bull-like nostrils, before grabbing her leg in its strong grip, (when she reared it back for another powerful kick) and pulled her right from the ground!
Katie gasped at the sudden movement, and kicked the Minotaur's hand with her free foot, as she was hung upside down. The creature growled at her, before gripping her ankle hard, until the bone there snapped!
"AHHH," The daughter of Nike shrieked; as the beast squeezed tighter and tighter onto the damaged area, and struggled that much harder, as her hairline grew wetter and wetter with tears of agony.
The Minotaur eventually got bored with twisting Katie's broken ankle, and it tossed the demigoddess across the enclosure. She hit the bars and wire with a pained sob, and grabbed a tight hold of it to get her breath and bearings. Damn it, that thing was tougher than she had anticipated!
Feeling the excruciating throb of her broken ankle throughout her entire leg—her entire body, actually—the brunette tried to calm her labored breathing enough to listen out for the Minotaur. As fate would have it, it was getting ready to charge her.
Katie could hear the rough soles of its feet scraping against the hard earth of the cage loudly in her ears, and the brunette knew that she would have to get up and walk—no, run on broken ankle, if she wanted to avoid getting impaled on the beast's sharp horns.
Bracing herself for the almost otherworldly pain, the daughter of Nike waited for the Minotaur to charge. When it did, she wasted no time diving out of the way; its horns scratched her arms, when she threw them out to aid her jump, but the pain was nothing to the agonizing bolts from her leg that brought a cold sweat to the surface of her scratched and bruised skin.
As Katie recovered from her clumsy somersault, the Minotaur nursed its throbbing skull—it had hit the wall pretty hard, and if not for its horns (which were now bent; broken even) it would have cracked its skull clean open.
Katie stood up, as quickly as she could, when she noticed that the beast was recovering. Looking for her sword and spotting it lodged in the earth a little ways across the arena, the brunette's rate of breathing picked up. She needed to get her weapon!
Katie gritted her teeth at the impending rush of blinding agony, before she started hopping madly on her wobbly, working-leg towards her blade. When she heard the Minotaur's battle-cry; her hopping turned into a labored limp, and when the ground started trembling under her feet, (signaling that the beast was hot on her trail) Katie felt her heart skip several beats.
Gods and goddesses—don't let him catch her...
As if possessed, Katie found herself diving instinctively to the side—right in time to dodge the rampaging beast. Coughing as she hit the hard dirt, the brunette racked her brain for a plan. She couldn't kill the Minotaur with brute strength; and he apparently was faster than her—what could she do?
Hoisting herself up on her forearms, Katie spit out a lump of blood and mucus. Her vision was blurring, her breathing slowed and labored… Her face stung with icy hot pins and needles. If this Minotaur was taking a lot out of her, what would Admeta be like? Would she even make it 'till then? The thought of the beastly woman, and dying before besting her, brought upon an adrenaline rush like no other that shocked Katie's system and numbed the pain in her leg.
The trial wasn't over; she couldn't die like this…! Katie grunted, and forced herself to her knees. Her whole body was stiff from exertion; but with the endorphins flooding through her body, she was blind to the ill sensations.
Gathering her composure, the brunette shakily got to her distressed feet. She had to hold herself together—this extraordinary adrenaline high would wear off soon; and if she didn't take advantage of it, she would spend the remainder of her waking moments being chased by the Minotaur, until she keeled over... or it caught her.
Panting and wheezing like an asthmatic on a mountain top, Katie shook off the nausea that washed over her and started for her weapon. Unbeknownst to the daughter of Nike, the Minotaur had ceased nursing its wounds and started watching her with its beady eyes.
Its black orbs followed the brunette's every movement, and when it noticed that she was headed toward her weapon, the beast growled. Hot breath rushed from its flared nostrils in visible, mucus-filled swells, and the Minotaur forwent the pleasantry of bull-charging Katie, in favor of starting after her sword with its claws outstretched.
Katie gasped, when she saw the Minotaur advancing on her blade at a speed she wished she could've sustained. Damn it—the beast was smart and fast! She had to get to her sword first—or die trying. Pushing her body to its absolute limit, and then some, the brunette ran as hard as she could.
Her feet hit the ground with a tremendous thud—and the pounding rhythm put the audience on edge. No one—not even Adrastos—thought she could outrun the Minotaur to her sword. They were right to doubt her, of course; she had a broken ankle and a wobbly foot, and the beast had long, strong legs.
Sky's—as long as the rest of the audiences'—cry of despair was drowned out by the rumble of conquest the Minotaur let out, when it seized Katie's sword in its massive grip. Hoisting the celestial bronze blade over its head, the beast roared and boasted, before turning its hardened gaze onto Katie.
She had skidded to a halt just a few feet away from the Minotaur, and was beholding the beast and her weapon with furious, bloodshot brown eyes. And, even though the spectators were sure that all was lost, the brunette had a look on her fast that could only be read as smug and satisfied.
The Minotaur grew extremely agitated at the daughter of Nike's complacence, and blew more steamed breath from its nose, as it prepared to wipe the smirk of Katie's face. Craning its head on its thick, heavily-veined neck; so that its small eyes could take in the details and lighting better, the beast lashed out at Katie with her own sword.
The blade swished and sliced through the air, but didn't connect with any part of the demigoddess. The beast growled angrily at this, and swung the sword again, again, and again—each time it missed. Why wasn't the blade working?
Unbeknownst to the Minotaur—its poor depth-perception was why it was missing Katie; it wasn't standing nearly close enough to her. Swinging the sharp weapon one last time, the beast gave up and threw it—which was a bad move on its part.
The blade sailed only a short distance, before Katie caught it by its hilt and swung it around to deliver a lethal slice to the Minotaur's jugular.
The beast sputtered and choked—its hands trembling against the hemorrhaging wound—for several moments, as blood filled and poured from its throat. Soon enough, the Minotaur fell… finally defeated.
The crowd was beside themselves with relief and accomplishment—not even Zoe could hold back her cheers, when she saw (and felt) the Minotaur hit the ground.
"You did it! You did it, Kat!" Sky cheered exuberantly, jumping up and down, as she held onto the cage. The daughter of the Winds beat on the bars of the cage exuberantly, when Katie smiled brightly at her, before turning around and embracing Matthew and Zoe in an awkwardly hug. "She did it, you guys!" The redhead cried jovially, before kissing the bloodied faces of her companions. When they both pushed her off, and wiped her smooches from their cheeks—or, in Matthew's case, his lips—(Ugh… she kissed him on the mouth!) The daughter of the Winds turned back to Katie; who had just collapsed onto the arena floor.
Adrastos, the cleaning crew, and the Healers rushed into the enclosure, not from the trapdoor, but from a previously unknown opening on the side. The son of Nike hoisted his exhausted half-sister onto his shoulder, before announcing to the crowd, "Our champion is wounded, so we shall take a brief intermission." The audience groaned, and to that, the man glared, "The lot of ya' have been waiting for centuries—what will a few moments do, hmm?"
By time it was time for round five, Katie had been attended to by the medics and there was hardly a visible scratch on her. She was clean, too, not a drop of blood on her grandiose apparel and armor—and, as she scaled the Cyclops of round five's back despite his struggling, (and with impressive agility, no less) and wrapped her legs around his neck, there was no doubt to anyone that the brunette was fit enough to fight again.
The brunette gritted her teeth, as she held onto the Cyclops with her legs, and when she finally got used to the staccato rhythm of his movements, she was able to decapitate him. It took several mighty slashes of her sword, (he had a big neck, give her a break) and the sound was almost as sickening, as the shock her arms received when her blade struck the Cyclops' neck over and over again.
Adrastos felt the hollow of his ribcage, where his mortal heart once rested, tighten with admiration and pride, as he watched the giant's head roll off and tumble to the ground.
The one-eyed beast's lifeless body followed after the severed head, and Katie rode the corpse all the way down to avoid injury.
When they both landed, the hall shook with the Cyclops' weight, and the crowd roared louder than they had before. "Let this be etched in those shoddy history books of yours', darling—our young champion, Kathryn, is the first woman to best the Cyclops." One of the spectral attendees boasted, her ghostly countenance holding many expressions; but, her pride was most visible.
The shadow of a man sitting beside her (presumably her late-husband) folded his arms and scowled. "She has the grace of the gods on her side. If any other woman was to attempt this; her remains would be thrown out in a pail, with the stale water."
Zoe glowered; throwing a heated glance over her shoulders at the ghost sitting behind her. It was one thing that she could hear them, as far back as they were sitting; but it was another annoying thing completely that they had to start arguing about gender. "Mortal man or woman; they'd be dead and gone before they even got here. Now, the both of you ougtha shut the hell up, before I make you."
The ghostly couple quickly quieted down at her command; and well enough, as round six was beginning.
The cleaners were barely down the trapdoor, when Adrastos was announcing the last combatant. "Admeta is approaching—the crowd would do best not to make any sudden movements or noise. We do not wish to excite her; as, after all, she is strong enough to break the cage." The spectral audience laughed at the son of Nike's joke, but Matthew somehow felt less tickled by the notion that the beast could kill him and his lot, if she so chose.
The excitement and anxiety in the air was electric—almost palpable—and Matthew didn't even need to look, to know that the ghosts that filled the amphitheater were on the very edge of their stone benches.
Casting his emerald gaze to Zoe; he saw that the ravenette was still tearing into her red vines. Her teeth were still a little red from the blood she unintentionally swallowed, and with the added redness of the candy, it didn't seem like her pearly whites would ever be white again.
From Zoe, Matthew's attention drifted over to Sky—she was jittery and excited; the usual, annoying way she was… but, there was just something about her—her aura, he guessed, that was off. He couldn't put his finger on what was unusual—but, it seemed to him, as though demigoddess was… glowing?
Unusual or not; Sky seemed not to notice her apparent glow, but the intense green eyes on her. Her turquoise eyes looked sharper, more jewel-like than ever before, as she met Matthew's gaze. "You're going to miss out on the final round, if you keep glaring at me like that." She said with deliberate slowness, flexing and shaping her lips to match the words that left them.
Matthew found his eyes glued to Sky's mouth, (that annoying mouth she used to berate and kiss him) and he glared harder. "Unlike you, I can pay attention to both."
"Oh, so suddenly, you're interested in moi?" The daughter of the Winds batted her eyelashes, "Well, Little Miss Sunshine—you might be a looker, but guys who are totally jerks just aren't my type."
Matthew's face contorted into something that looked like a pained smirk—or, an amused grimace. "They aren't my type either and neither are you. But, ya' know, I've never seen you fawn over anyone other than Katie; you sure you don't play on the same side of the field?"
Sky balked, but before she could make a comeback, Katie was hitting the flat side of her sword on her breastplate. The redhead looked over, wondering why the daughter of Nike was causing such a ruckus; even though Adrastos had just advised everyone not to. She got her answer soon enough.
Standing within the arena with the brunette was Admeta. She was tall, bulky, ugly, and menacing—just like Aléxandros explained; however, the godling seemed to have left out that the beast was blind. Which was why Katie was making noise; she was trying to get Admeta's attention.
"I'm over here, you fat hamburger!" The daughter of Nike taunted, clacking her weapon to her armor even louder to get the beast-woman's attention.
Admeta sniffed the air, but couldn't exactly pinpoint where Katie was standing. Growling in an obvious show of her frustration, the she-bull lifted her cleaver high above her head before bringing it down in a powerful swing. The great knife it the ground with such great force that the whole auditorium shook.
All of the patrons, dead and alive, panicked, as they felt the violent tremors seize the entire area. Zoe wasn't surprised if the demigods upstairs could feel the quake—it was just that strong—and the ravenette definitely wasn't surprised when Katie (who stood only a mere ten feet away from Admeta and her cleaver) couldn't keep her footing and fell hard onto her back.
The brunette gasped, as the wind escaped from her lungs, and Admeta's head snapped over to the demigoddess' sprawled out form. Dumb as a box of rocks…? Oh, Aléxandros, you totally sold the beast short, Katie thought, sitting up hastily, as the ground thundered and trembled under her with each heavy step of Admeta's.
The creature was fast approaching; if her footfall was anything to go by, and Katie was not about to be bludgeoned to death by that over-sized butcher-knife of hers'. Rocking onto her back, and building up a little bit of momentum, the brunette kicked her legs out in front of her, and swung herself upright.
Once on her feet, Katie was easily able to cartwheel out of the way of Admeta's swinging cleaver. As long as she didn't let the she-bull catch her off guard, the daughter of Nike should be able to best Admeta with ease.
Atleast, that's what the daughter of Nike thought—and then she found herself in a sword-to-cleaver deadlock. She had been doing such a good job evading Admeta; until the beast-woman swung her cleaver at her, and all Katie could do to avoid it was to block the blow with her own sword.
Admeta was stronger than she looked, and then some, Katie should've remembered that; but, since she didn't, she now stood with her back against the cage, and her arms pinned painfully against her chest, as she struggled to keep the she-bull's cleaver from slicing her into two bloody halves.
Gods and Goddesses, why did this keep happening—how did she keep getting caught by these creatures? Gritting her teeth, as Admeta pushed her large weapon closer to Katie's neck, the daughter of Nike carefully moved one of her hands from the handle of her sword, and gripped straight onto the flat side of her blade; so that she could better hold Admeta off.
With Admeta's every push, Katie found her grip on her sword tightening—so much so that her fingers began to bleed. By the time this was over, if the brunette was still alive, she might as well have lost all of her fingers on her right hand.
Scowling at the thought, the daughter of Nike tried to find her inner strength. The determination that kept her from collapsing during the fight with the Minotaur; the energy that kept her on her toes with the Harpies; the agility that aided her in slaying the Cyclops; and the wit that made killing the Gorgon possible.
She found it—that unexplainable strength—when the blood stopped thrumming in her ears long enough for her to hear Sky's and Zoe's cheering. The urge to impress them was strong, and when she heard Matthew—(Yeah, that stoic, stick in the mud, Matthew)—call out to her using her first name, Katie found the power to push Admeta off.
The beast-woman stumbled back, equally as shocked as Katie by the demigoddess' newfound strength—and in the process of flailing; Admeta lost her grip on her weapon. The cleaver flew from her grip, and embedded itself in the bars above the daughter of Nike's head. The laurel that was woven into her hair had the misfortune of sticking out a little too much; so as a penalty, it was cut in half by the mighty blade.
That surely was a close call, Katie thought, running her bleeding fingers to her hair to feel for the damaged head-wear. She was breathing so hard, that it couldn't even be deemed as panting.
Admeta huffed, and once she got her footing, it was on. Advancing on Katie (who didn't move a muscle) the she-bull was prepared to reclaim her weapon, so that she could end the brunette.
Her large, hairy arm was reaching right above Katie's head, when the daughter of Nike struck. It was quick and clean, the stab she delivered to Admeta's face; and the crowd gasped when the blade pierced the back of the mighty beast-woman's head. The gasp turned into muted sounds of horror, when Admeta fell forward onto Katie and knocked the teen into the enclosure's wall, behind her.
Adrastos wasn't kidding when he said Admeta was strong enough to break the cage. The whole side of the thing gave way under hers' and Katie's weight, and for a moment, all thought the daughter of Nike perished under the she-bull, when they landed on the ground in a messy heap.
"Calm yourselves." Adrastos glowered at the crowd, "you all are the most anxious shades I've ever had the misfortune of entertaining." Ambling over to the broken side of the cage, the son of Nike (aided by the healers) rolled Admeta's body over just enough to be able to grab and pull Katie out from under her.
The brunette was bruised and batted, but was alive enough for the medics efforts not to go to waste. "I did it…" Katie mumbled deliriously, as Adrastos held her slack body against his.
"Yes, dear sister, you did." The son of Nike said appraisingly, before handing her off to those who would take care of her. Looking onto the crowd, Adrastos grinned haughtily, "For the first time, since the great Basilio, the trial has been completed!"
The onlookers roared, clapping and stamping their feet in excitement and victory. Sky was celebrating right along with them, as she and the other demigods were guided, by Adrastos, back to the dressing room they had come in from, via the trapdoor that the cleaning staff were so fond of.
Once back in the safety of the dank room, Sky embraced Katie—who looked no worse for wear, but reeked of putrid death. "Let me just say, 'holy crap, Kat! That was amazing!' I didn't know you had it in you, and I'm so sorry for doubting you!"
The daughter of Nike wrapped one of her arms around Sky, and used the other to beckon everyone else over—(when they didn't move, she glared at them until they did.)
Hugging her companions strongly, the brunette sobbed in a mixture of relief and happiness, as the wraith-like power that kept her pushing on, drained from her body and left her absolutely exhausted.
Her tears stained the already blood-soaked fabric of Sky's shirt, and the redhead couldn't stop herself from going misty-eyed. It must have been an intense experience; this trial, for Katie to fall apart like she was.
They all stood in their huddle for what felt like hours, until Adrastos broke them apart and embraced Katie. "You did well—honored on bloodline. I'm… proud of you." He sounded awkward; but at the same time, friendly and genuinely satisfied.
When the children of Nike separated, Katie wiped her eyes with the backs of her hands, before giving Adrastos a watery smile, "Give me my clothes back. We have to go."
Next Chapter: The wise and the dead – challenge six.
Artemis' arrow, given its supernatural properties, was unlike any projectile. The barb was forged in the flames of Olympus by Hephaestus himself, and made with the intent to kill whatever it struck—be it mortal or immortal.
Within the celestial metal, was a toxin—a toxin that changed composition and potency upon coming into contact with its intended victim, to induce maximum pain and lethality.
The thing about the arrow was that; no matter who it hit and no matter how they tended to the wound, (if they could get the hobnailed shaft out of their skin, without killing themselves) the toxin would bring upon their end, well enough.
So, when Atlanta released the arrow from her bow with a wicked smirk painted on her face, she knew right then; before it even it her intended target, that they were as good as dead.
The brunette choked out a bloody gasp, as the arrow tore through the vital organs in his abdomen, and caused major internal bleeding on a momentous scale—and he lost his balance, and fell onto his knees. Shaking and trembling, as his body grew cold and numb, he looked up to the daughter of Artemis, "Why?" Was his pained question—his famous last words, if you will—as red and gore poured from his stomach wound.
Atlanta's wicked smile widened and she advanced on the poor soul, before ripping the arrow out as violently as possible. "Because, I can…" was her vicious reply.