A/N — just a tentative pilot prologue. Future chapters will be longer. The poll was unanimous... I'll be rewriting this story. There will be much more detail on Percy's background, as it is based in Ancient Greece. Percy will eventually come to modern times, like in the original version, but that will be for later.
Some important information — in this AU, Percy is born in Ancient Greece. Pairings are currently undecided, and probably will not play a significant role for a while (Percy's five). He will not be overpowered—I am making that clear now. What powers he has must be worked for.
Big thank yous to TheShadow207, redlox2, noneofyourbusiness09, wisdomsdaughteriscrazy, artemis lover, hero of all, chessrd, foreverpatron, cder3, guest, Intellectually, Paradosso, Kitty Qin, Jarick, PJandLGequalsLove, SpartanWarrior177, newfoundedfantasy, Xuan Tian Shang Ti, gobayern, DeathStroke69.X.X.X, Thephantomprince, Semperfi1, BigBord97, Uscjoey, Alexandra, prince of the seas, magicdemi-god223, Akarshit Dawra, Guest, momo1903, Guest, harryginny9, Smile Sweetly. Laugh Loudly, unknown lunatic, Tally Jennifer Youngblood, silvertrident.
"They hate what they do not understand and you are the prime example."
- by Solaerius
Start of Part I
One minute is the amount of time needed to visit your friend next door. One minute is how long you're supposed to brush your teeth but never do. It is the amount of time it takes to ask out that person you've always wanted to but never quite dared to. One minute is how long it takes to read this sentence, and by the time you've processed these words, one minute has already passed.
But what does it matter? There are millions upon billions of minutes in your lifetime. Time is such—a mundane, untouchable thing.
And yet, in one minute, a life can end. A bomb can be dropped. A heart stopped.
Time is unforgiving. Once it passes, it is gone forever. Those minutes cannot be reeled back, despite their quantity. There are no second chances.
The gods, inexorable as they are, fear time. Why else would Kronos be the King of the Titans? It is because he personifies eternal sleep. Eternal death.
Though the gods are immortal, their children are not. Their lovers are not. Mortality is fickle, and often as not, their children die before their time and the gods grow bitter and cold. Or, in more frequent cases, it is the children who vow condemnation on the gods for their betrayal and abandonment. It is the insignificant minute that brings down even the most dangerous of foes.
A meeting too late. A soul too broken. A slight catch in time can cause drastic ripples to break the world.
That one minute was also all it took for Percy's world to crash down in front of him. In one world, Poseidon had made it in time to protect Sally and their son. But in this world, he was one minute too late.
And the wheels of Fate and Time, predestined upon the consummation of the world, began to turn once more.
Percy killed his first man when he was five years old.
Granted, that would mean that Gabe was human, and Percy was convinced that he was one of the foulest monsters Tartarus ever had the displeasure of holding, one borne under a mortal form—as mortal as can be when you were a wobbling mass of fat and glutton.
Gabe was a foreign merchant staying in Athens. Officially, he owned a rickety old liquor store. Unofficially, he sold contraband in the black market, as well as whatever he could get his hands on. He was a disgusting, disgusting little man, and yet, somehow, he'd managed to marry Percy's mother. Sally had told Percy that he wouldn't understand her reasons, which only ended up infuriating the young boy.
What couldn't he understand? What the bruises around her neck meant? The broken bottles? The smell of blood everywhere? The nail marks on the bedpost? It was blatantly obvious. He wasn't a baby. Not any longer.
(no, he'd never gotten the liberty of innocence)
Sometimes, he heard the screams. And in these times, he hated his father, whoever he was. His mother told her that he was from a far-away Greek city on a mountain, and that he was visiting Athens for the Festival of Patrons. He was often told that he looked like him. Percy had his eyes, Sally would say fondly, and it made Percy want to claw them out—he didn't want anything to do with this so-called father of his.
Fathers didn't abandon their families to die. They didn't abandon their sons to lose what little innocence remained in them.
Because this time, the screams didn't abate, and Percy had... lost control.
He wasn't very clear what had happened, but when the red fury hazing his vision had disappeared, he still saw red everywhere. Only this time, it was not a figment of his imagination. It was very much real.
And as he stared at the bloodied knife in his hand, he watched with a sort of dazed confusion as crimson sullied the worn and nicked surface, dripping of from the thin edges to pool by his feet. He could see his own reflection distorted in the warped metal, green eyes wavering and stricken.
It had been easy, almost sickeningly so. A hand drawn back. The plunge of a knife, a spatter of gore. Much too easy an end for such a monster. Much too painless.
Percy had only landed one hit —just one. But somehow, as he watched Gabe turn deathly pale and spit out the crimson that stained his lips with filth, he knew that it was fatal. There was too much red, and it covered everything, his hands, his mother's body, her kaleidoscopic eyes still wide and horror-stricken, everything was a sea of reds and crimsons and Gabe's blood.
Percy screamed. His little fingers went loose; the knife dropped from his hand, rolling away with a tinny ring.
"No," he muttered, beginning to back towards the door, "this isn't happening... it's all a nightmare..."
His hands left red prints everywhere, and he could smell the coppery smell of blood invade his nose. It was too much. It threatened to choke him alive.
Kinslayer, the voices whispered. Death-bringer. Murderer...
A heavy pressure built in his chest, suffocating his breath. The back door exploded in front of him, but he didn't pay attention; he covered his head and ran through the shower of splinters. It didn't matter where he was going, only that he was going far, far away.
He crashed blindly through the bordering forests, spitting out leaves, and was slashed across the face with branches he couldn't avoid in the darkness. It didn't matter.
He kept going.
And then his foot caught against a rough-worn stone and he crashed to the ground with a heavy thud.
He wheezed in a breath, clutching his ribs. Something had blatantly given way, and now all that remained was a sharp, stinging pain.
It was then that Percy noticed how dark it was. The moon was blocked out by the blackened trees swaying ominously in the wind. He scrabbled backwards on all fours until his back hit the rough bark of a tree trunk. Gathering his legs close to his chest, he wrapped his arms around them, feeling tears beginning to build in his eyes. A sob tore its way loose.
Percy feared the dark. It represented things unknown, and like any sane human, he was afraid of the hidden facades. The dangers that lurked in forbidden waters.
He just wanted his mother. His sweet, sweet mother that smelled of cookies and warmth. But she was gone now, wasn't she?
The night was steadily dropping below zero, but that thought chilled him far more than the cold did. Shaking —but from cold or grief, he wasn't sure— he wrapped his arms around his huddled form tighter.
The snow and bitter winds bit harshly at his bones. Soon, he felt nothing but a numb, pricking pain, but even that faded away. It was strangely nice. He didn't hurt anymore. It was like he was floating in an endless pool of darkness, and it was peaceful.
(but maybe peace was only an illusion of war)
Sometime during the never-ending night, he felt the sharp tear of warmth sear through his body, burning away the icy numbness. He jerked up with a gasp. For a second, he had been convinced that he'd seen a bright flash and a beautiful woman with black hair and intelligent grey eyes, but as he whipped his head from side to side, there was nothing.
No... there was something. By that branch.
Orb-like eyes opened, luminous in the light of the moon. A warning hoot, a sharp beak clicking in disapproval.
The moon had finally cleared the trees and was in its zenith, spilling silver light over the entire clearing. Percy could see that his frenzied footsteps from the day before had been completely covered up. There were no other prints, save for a particularly odd patch of snow that had been seared away. Even the dead grass underneath seemed to have burned off.
Percy got to his feet, feeling his muscles groan in protest. He was about to take a step before the owl shrieked warningly. Those eyes were sharper than any other animal, even human, that he'd seen before.
Percy looked down, one of his feet still halfway on its descent. Moving a step back, he noticed a few berries scattered on a leaf. He'd have stepped on it if the owl hadn't stopped him. Looking upwards, he beamed at the animal.
"Thanks!" he murmured, scooping the berries into his frozen hand. Frowning, he inspected the dull red sheen of its skin. Breaking one open, he saw that the inside was snow white. Cautiously, he put it in his mouth and swallowed. If he was going to die, at least he was going to die on a full stomach.
When he didn't spontaneously combust into flames, he slowly ate the rest. The last one, however, he hesitated.
If he ate this one, he wouldn't be able to find more. There must be a bush growing somewhere, and if he could find it, he'd have food. Plunging his way through the waist high snow, Percy felt the owl's eyes burning holes into his back almost approvingly.
He shook the silly thought out of his head and kept going.
From the corner of his eyes, he saw the spiky leaves of a bush, half submerged by a soft layer of snow. Using his hands, he dug out the branches. The cold burned his hands, but the pang of hunger was worse.
It was still strewn with dark berries. With a sigh of relief, he began to strip the branches of their fruit. He tugged too hard on one and it smeared in his hand, leaving a crimson stain against his pale skin. Frowning, he examined it more closely.
The berries were rounder than the ones he'd found on the leaf. The insides were red. In his childish mind, he assumed that they must not be the same kind. But they were so similar, this one must be edible, too, right?
He was about to put it in his mouth—it was probably fine— when he caught a whiff of something sickly sweet. Frowning, he put the berries down, using his foot to scuff away more of the snow underneath the bush. After a few minutes, he struck against something soft and gooey.
Suddenly, the stench became too much. Percy almost retched.
Dark and feathery, it was almost impossible to make out what the creature was due to its level of decomposition. He could see a crimson stain by the thing's head. Blood?
No, it wasn't dark enough. Looking closely, he could see the blue-black skin of something mashed into the smear.
A berry's skin.
With a gasp, Percy dropped all of the fruits he'd so painstakingly harvested, and they dropped to the ground all around him. He scrubbed his hands furiously in the snow, until there was nothing but pink skin remaining. His heart still thudding in his chest, he dragged his palm over his eyes. It had been close. He'd almost died, and because of what? That he couldn't tell a difference in color?
Growling, he hurriedly kicked snow over the rotting crow. His breath coming in sharp gasps, he stumbled away, before turning and running. It wasn't as though the berry bush would grow legs and begin to chase after him, but the sheer thought that he had been only millimeters from dying frightened him in the way that no teeth or claws could.
After a few long minutes, he hit his head over a low hanging branch. The sudden jolt sent awareness back into his body, and he stopped dead in his tracks.
He had run into some sort of clearing. It was dark and ominous. The only light he could see was from what miniscule amounts of moonlight made it through the blackened leaves.
"Eurydice... please, I need her back, let me pass, I need to—"
Chilling, haunting strains of music slowly sifted from the gaping hole in the rocks, darkness wafting in a thick curl through it. Percy's hair stood up on end, and for a second, he thought he could see an embittered young man with a lyre, singing mournfully to the rocks.
The image was gone when he blinked, ripped apart by the sudden wind that had sprung up, the one that carried sad voices in its embrace.
"—do not trust the gods..."
He was about to back away when he saw another bush of berries, this one smelling faintly of spices and sweetness. Kneeling down next to it, he broke one open, and was relieved to see that it was pure white.
Percy formed a makeshift basket with the front of his oversized tunic, filling it as fast as he could with the berries. As often as not, he would slip up and prick his finger on a sharp thorn, but he didn't dare to stop. Something about this place scared him badly.
"—lest you end up like me, trapped and used, killed when it was convenient—"
When the bush was nothing more than stripped branches, Percy folded the top of his tunic awkwardly over his load, so that they would not spill out in case he needed to run. With faltering steps, he backed out of that place as fast as he could, leaving the darkness behind.
A breathless voice followed him out.
"—this is your last warning, hero."
Oddly enough, the owl was still where he had left it. Its head was tucked under a wing, and when it heard Percy approaching, it made an annoyed trill in its throat, large grey eyes blinking reproachfully at him.
"Sorry," Percy said apologetically. He held a handful of berries to the owl. "Would you like some? I found lots."
The owl stared at him for a long time, never blinking. Finally, with a consenting hoot, it hopped down to a lower branch, picked up one of the berries between its beak, and jerked its head backwards, letting it drop into its throat. The owl clacked its beak and pecked Percy rather painfully on the forehead, leaving a red mark.
"Ow!" he yelped, rubbing his head. "What was that for?"
He swore the owl smirked at him.
"That was mean, 'Thena," he pouted.
The owl froze, its grey eyes widening minutely. It gave a questioning hoot, and Percy shrugged lightly.
"You're a really smart owl. My mum always told me about the gods, and I think that it's a good name for you. I just," here, his voice trembled and he looked down, wrapping his arms around himself, "I wish the gods saved her. I would go back... I should bury her... but I don't know where I am anymore. Just a kid lost in the woods, probably dead from starvation. No one really cares, you know? Not that I've killed Smelly Gabe."
Now that he was talking, everything seemed to pour out of him like a leaky faucet. He couldn't stop; he felt like the pressure would suffocate him if he did. The owl was an uncommonly good listener. It had stopped fluffing its feathers, and its lamp-like eyes were fixed intently on the unfocused boy.
"It was an accident, and I... I don't know what I did. It just sort of... happened. I ran away. That's all know. Even if I were to go back, the guards would probably kill me or put me in the orphanage."
Blinded by furious tears, he didn't see the figure until it laid one warm hand on his shoulder, murmuring to him in a melodious voice.
"Sleep, childe. I will take care of this."
And suddenly he was so very tired, and sleep sounded like a wonderful idea. His eyes rolled back in his head. Before he could hit the ground, the figure caught him in her arms, setting him against a tree trunk, her hand lingering a bit longer than was necessary before dropping away.
"We shall see if you are strong enough," she murmured, drawing the hood of her cloak over her head, hiding her stormy grey eyes. "If you are resilient enough. And if so..."
I may consider dropping my grudge, just this once.