The Waning Moon
This is what I brought you, this you can keep. This is what I brought; you may forget me. I promise to depart just promise one thing. I promise you my heart just promise to sing. This is what I thought: I thought you'd need me. This is what I thought, so think me naïve. I promise you a heart you'd promise to keep. Kiss my eyes and lay me to sleep.
—Prelude 12/21, AFI
I. The Titan Krios
I suppose it started with an arrow.
Anything before, well, doesn't count. When he was a boy of fourteen and I called him a man, I lied. He was still a boy, despite him having taken the sky from my shoulders. His acts of bravery before and during the quest to save me from Atlas only got him from being a boy to… a slightly more tolerable boy.
So it started with an arrow.
I flashed into the woods bordering Camp Half-Blood. Night had fallen and Dryads peeked at me from behind their trees. From far away I could hear singing voices and raucous laughter, muffled by distance and the thick foliage of the trees surrounding me. I strode out of the woods, heading for the Big House.
Neither Dionysus nor Chiron greeted me on the steps leading to the house. I frowned at the clear rudeness of it all, but went in anyways. After quick inspection, it became obvious the house was empty. Wary, I summoned my bow, expecting a monster to jump out at me. Only now did I realize that I should have met someone on my way here.
I heard voices from far, far away and made my way over there cautiously. I passed the dinning pavilion, the forges and even the stables. I decided to cut through the archery range to save time. The voices had become much louder now, but I couldn't understand what was being sung due to the sheer number of voices joining in the chant. Had camp been invaded by an army of monsters? Were they using the surviving campers as a sacrifice? How many were there to subdue the whole camp and Dionysus?
A shiver ran down my spine as I realized that maybe I was in over my head. Was Kronos really not gone? My thoughts immediately went to Percy Jackson. Was he the sacrifice? I broke into a run, abandoning caution in favor of rescuing him. He was the child of prophecy; he had done too much already to not be. If he died…
I became so distracted that I almost didn't see the arrow. At the last moment, though, I sidestepped while I knocked an arrow and shot at a far away figure. There was a single, high torch illuminating the field and I was on the wrong side of it, which meant that he could see me clearly. The figure, however, was close enough to the torch so that it stood bathed in shadows. Still, being a goddess, my superior sight allowed me to distinguish shapes in the dark—further helped by the fact that, as the goddess of the moon, I was meant to hunt in the dark. What my eyes were seeing, however, didn't make sense.
The figure, who I had determined was male an probably a demigod, had its back towards me. There was no way that the arrow could have been a shot to determine if a twig snapping, or any other noise, was part of nature and did not incriminate an enemy. I was standing in plain view. What kind of idiot had Kronos—and I was hoping it wasn't him—placed as a lookout?
I watched as my arrow sped towards the figure's head. My face stayed neutral as my arrow reached its mark and—what the Hades?
I could feel the outright surprised expression on my face. The arrow ricocheted off the man's head. The impact was so strong that it shot straight at me again. I caught it nimbly and knocked it again. I aimed at the figure as he turned and aimed at me with his bow. I could see that his grip was all wrong, but I didn't dwell on the fact.
I had broken onto a run as soon as I had caught my arrow, and now he couldn't see me. I shot my arrow at his hand, but it missed by a millimetre. I didn't give up and shot another silver arrow. This one also missed its mark. Neither of the three arrows had missed because of my aim—it was always accurate, no matter what—but the man was fast, which made me believe that I wasn't facing off against a green demigod so blinded by rage that he would join Kronos's army. This was a Titan.
My mind immediately went to Krios. Hadn't Jason Grace defeated him? Prometheus was behaving for now. Hyperion I knew was back in Tartarus and Atlas was much bigger than this one. It had to be Krios since, in their weakened states, the other Titans that had sided with Kronos and were still free weren't nearly powerful enough to do what the figure had just done.
I released three arrows in quick succession. The third one caught him in the hand. Again, the arrow was sent back to me. I didn't bother caching it because it would make me lose time. Arrows would not work.
This was Krios. He had acquired some kind of all-body shield. I noted that the singing was becoming more and more lively, which meant Percy Jackson had probably very little time left. I had to hurry.
My feet ate up the distance between me and Krios. The Titan himself was running in my direction. He had discarded his bow as soon as I had fired the second arrow at him, so he was carrying no visible weapons. I didn't let that fool me, though; he could be carrying a retractable weapon.
I was less than a yard from him when Krios's hand went to his pocket and retrieved a pen, which he quickly uncapped. Before my eyes, it transformed into a lead-shaped blade emanating a soft bronze glow. Anaklusmos.
If I had any doubt that Percy Jackson was in danger, I didn't now.
I jumped at Krios and used my momentum to hand out a spinning kick. He sidestepped me and twisted his arm. Riptide cut through the air like butter. I spun around and summoned my bow, which quickly morphed into a sword. I usually didn't use a sword, but my arrows wouldn't pierce him due to that blasted shield of his. Anaklusmos and Agnotita met in the middle, creating a beautiful silver-bronze glow.
I threw my weight onto my right foot, which was forward. Krios faltered under my strength and slipped on the grass. Taking my chance, I drove my sword into his chest. Only to have the point of my sword stopped in midair by a rippling, transparent force that was barely noticeable through the silver glow of my sword.
This was the shield. It would not beat me this time.
The shield attempted to throw me off, to send me sailing through the air, but I dug my feet onto the ground, preparing to plunge Agnotita down with much more force. Krios chose that moment to lunge at me. Caught off-guard by his fast reaction time, I barely had time to parry Riptide.
I jumped back to avoid his blows, but that mistake had cost me precious time. Was Percy Jackson still alive? Curse Krios's shield. If I was able to use my bow… I was not bad with a sword, but neither was I good. A very, very skilled demigod would never have been able to beat me due to my sheer strength, but this wouldn't end well for me. I was facing a Titan, albeit a weakened one.
I was about to pray to my father, but I had my pride.
Slowly but surely, Krios was pushing me back. Neither of us had a shield, which I noted was probably partly why I lasted this long. His left arm kept twitching slightly, as if he was about to release his sword from mine and intercept Agnotita with a shield.
The twitch became more pronounced the more force I threw behind my sword, so I took my chances and recklessly pushed his sword away. Such a move would have broken the tip of most swords, but both Anaklusmos and Agnotita remained unscratched. Krios appeared thrown aback by the move—which was terrible show of swordmanship and amateurish to a fault—and I jumped high into the air, Agnotita higher still, raised above my head.
When I fell, face first, Agnotita was directed straight towards Krios's chest. The sword hit the shield and my momentum both prevented it from sending me back into the air and caused Krios to fall hit the floor with a thundering crack that was probably heard by those performing Percy Jackson's sacrifice.
Regardless, for a short amount of time, I was suspended midair, hovering by the point of my sword, which was breaking through the rippling shield painstakingly slowly. Krios cried out in pain and a cruel smile twisted my face. Almost there.
At the same time, my body began falling back to the ground. My knees hit the ground first. As I was now, I was straddling him. Agnotita had almost pierced his shield. Sweat trickled down my back as I again renewed by assault on the shield. Krios was screaming, in too much pain to hurt me, I assumed.
I could taste victory. I could taste it. So sweet…
But he took it away in an instant.
A high-pitched, sudden howl of pain was torn from my throat as Anaklusmos slashed through my side. I arched my back due to the pain, but that only managed to dig Riptide more firmly into my body. Golden ichor dripped from Anaklusmos and soaked both our clothes. I lost my hold on my sword, but so did Krios. The two swords clattered to the ground.
Blind with rage, my hands encircled his throat. I had the advantage, being on top. Somehow, as the two of us fought hand to hand, I managed to turn him around without quite knowing how. I restrained his arms but he kicked at me. I lost my hold, and awkwardly fell on him. He clawed at me. If he hadn't wounded me, then I would have won sooner or later in hand to hand, but I was weak now.
By chance, my hand slid across the small of his back. My nails dug for purchase, anything to not be dragged under Krios. While they didn't find it, they drew blood. Blood. A weak point in the shield. I could hardly believe my eyes, but he soon confirmed I had found a break in the shield when he screamed in pain. I was almost taken aback by how strangled that scream was—and had I been in my right mind I would have registered that a Titan certainly wouldn't be so hurt my nails scratching along his back—but at this point I was giddy for Krios's pain.
Bellow me, Krios buckled and arched, wether in pain or trying to throw me off I don't know, as I pushed harder and harder into his weak spot. My sword glowed besides me, Riptide already in Krios's pocket once again. I didn't worry about it, though; by this point, the Titan was in so much pain, he wouldn't be able to hurt me.
My right hand closed over Agnotita's hilt while my left pressed forcefully on Krios's back. Agnotita's hilt was hovering over the small of Krios's back when a turbulent breeze made the torchlight illuminate Krios's face.
I threw Agnotita away in horror. Krios. Krios. Krios. A mix between a laugh and a scream bubbled from my throat. Because this wasn't Krios. This… This was…
This was Percy Jackson.
Injuries forgotten, I picked up Agnotita and cut my wrist. I turned Percy around carefully. He didn't even resist as I placed his head on my lap. I pressed my wrist to his mouth but he pressed his lips shut. "Percy, please." His eyes cracked open, and I could see surprise in them.
They seemed to be asking me why.
"I didn't know." I felt a prickling behind my eyes. I hadn't felt that way since… since Orion died. Here once again was I tending to a son of Poseidon I felt was less annoying than the average boy because of wounds I myself had inflicted.
But Percy hadn't died yet. "Please drink. The Curse of Achilles should keep you alive for the time it takes for my ichor to take effect."
Cautiously, he opened his mouth and let my ichor—close enough to nectar as you could get without it actually being nectar—flow into his mouth.
I stood there, letting him drink as the ichor on my chest dried and I became once again aware of my pain. I wasn't aware of it, but in reality very little time had passed. I would later hear the accounts of my Hunters, of Chiron and Dionysus, that told of hearing two loud screams in close succession, which alerted them of a fight in Camp.
When they found us, I was doubled over in pain, ichor still streaming from my torso and wrist, with Percy lying on my lap, apparently unharmed.
The Waning Moon
Chiron was worried about Percy; Dionysus was worried my getting hurt in Camp would result in Father placing the fifty years he had gotten off his back for helping in the Titan War back. My Hunters were worried solely about me, except for Thalia, who was holding Percy's hand in hers and split her time between gazing at me or Percy with worry.
Half the camp was crammed inside the Big House, the other half was crowded around it outside. Poseidon arrived less than five minutes after I got Percy into the Big House, dragging Apollo by the collar. I forced Apollo to tend to Percy before me, since I was immortal, and my insistence was probably what saved me from being blasted to pieces since he allowed me to explain what had happened.
Annabeth Chase screamed at me till she tired of it. My Hunters all tried to kill her, except for Thalia, who was working on restraining her. Another time, I would have been offended by her insults, but I understood how much Percy meant to her. I quickly got my Hunters under control, but Apollo was another matter entirely. It was only because of Poseidon's presence that he didn't kill the girl until Athena arrived.
Aphrodite, with Ares in tow, arrived shortly after Apollo finished with me. She gave me a speech on responsibility, which impressed Athena—who refused to leave the room as long as Annabeth stayed there—until she related that to Percy's love life. Then she turned to Annabeth, who was sniffling still, eyes fixed on Percy's sleeping form. I didn't know what Aphrodite said to Annabeth, but soon Athena and her were arguing heatedly while Annabeth was trying to hold back tears.
I stared numbly at the chaos around me. I vaguely noticed a cluster of demigods peeking out from the doorframe, gaping at the sheer number of gods in one place. And naturally, the more gods were congregated in one place, the more attention they attract to themselves. It wasn't long until Zeus arrived, Hera smirking at Annabeth as she walked behind him.
"Why is everyone here?" The room fell silent as Zeus spoke. When no one answered him, he turned on Dionysus. "Well?"
Dionysus didn't even hesitate. "Artemis tried to kill Paul Jameson. Paul Jameson almost cut her in two."
Poseidon glared at Dionysus. "Which is Dionysus's fault, since he forgot he had to meet Artemis tonight, and that's what made Artemis assume Kronos wasn't as dead as we thought."
Zeus turned again to Dionysus, but he seemed to finally take in what Poseidon had said, because he backtracked and looked at me. "You what?"
"The camp was deserted and I heard voices coming from around a fire, which is how most sacrificial rituals are performed. It's his fault for forgetting to meet me when he summoned me."
Zeus still looked skeptical, but he liked me much better than Dionysus. Or any of his other children, for that matter. "Right. Is he alive?"
"Of course he's alive!" Poseidon said indignantly.
"Then why are you all here if the brat is alive?"
I was going to ask him why he was here, but then I remembered that this many gods together was like a beacon of light to other gods.
"He's my son. I will wait for him until he wakes up."
"I injured him. I feel responsible—"
"You are responsible, Artemis. Responsibility is the most important thing in the world. We need to keep him alive. You're not allowed to kill him."
"Technically, she is."
Aphrodite glared at Ares, and continued, "You're not, unless you want to fall in love."
Thunder boomed overhead. "We have already established that you have prohibited messing with her love life."
Aphrodite looked at Zeus dispassionately. "Directly. I didn't swear I wasn't going to have anyone else do it for me."
Zeus sighed. I stared open-mouthed at him. "You're letting her do this? You promised!" I stood up from my chair. "If I break my oath… I swore by the River Styx. I can't break it because of her!"
Aphrodite crossed her arms. "You're a goddess. You can't die."
"But I can fade!"
Apollo placed a hand on my shoulder. "Now, we're getting a little morbid. No one's going to fade—"
"Shut up, Apollo. This doesn't concern you. You didn't swear the oath."
"No one forced you to. It's unnatural to be perpetually alone. If something happens to you, it's your own fault." Aphrodite flicked her hair.
"May I ask what is wrong with being a maiden goddess?"
Aphrodite looked horrified. "What is wrong? What is wrong? And you call yourself the goddess of wisd—?"
Everyone's eyes returned to Zeus… until Percy decided to wake up with a groan.
Poseidon seemed to be inspecting Percy's face. "Percy? Are you okay?"
"My head hurts."
"Anything else?" Apollo was hovering over Percy, in full God of Medicine mode.
Percy slowly opened his eyes. "My chest. It doesn't really hurt but…"
"That's my fault. I'm sorry."
Percy craned his head up with difficulty at my voice. "Artemis. You're here." He looked around the room. "And Aphrodite. And Athena. And… Zeus… What is half the Olympian Council doing around my bed?"
Hera came to stand besides the bed. "Oh that's not important." She laughed. "I'm glad you finally saw the light, Percy. She was not good for you."
"He was not good for her. I knew this would happen."
"Your daughter's disrespectful. She doesn't deserve even Luke Castellan."
Aphrodite intervened. "It's not about deserving. He will do great things. I have such big plans for him!"
"Could someone tell me what's going on?" Poseidon said.
I silently agreed and waited for Aphrodite to fill us in. To my surprise, Athena did. "Perseus and Annabeth were in a romantic relationship for half a month. They broke up today."
I looked around for Annabeth, but she was gone. Probably Athena's doing.
Hera snorted. "Oh, they broke up? He broke up with her. Finally, he realized she wasn't good for him." I stiffened, but Hera didn't notice. Instead, she turned to Percy, an understanding smile on her lips. "I understand why you said those words to me, Percy, but I forgive you. You thought she was beautiful back then and…"
Hera continued talking to Percy while Athena simmered in anger but I wasn't listening anymore. I stared straight at Percy. How shallow all men were. Pigs, I thought when I saw Poseidon smirking at Athena. All respect I had for Percy evaporated, replaced by anger. Soon after I had made Thalia my Lieutenant, I had offered a place among the Hunters to Annabeth in private. She had refused and I had known why.
I remembered Aphrodite fighting with Athena over a crying Annabeth a few minutes ago. I had no doubt now what that was about.
I caught Percy's gaze, but he turned away quickly.
"I'm… tired." Was he? Perhaps I should have killed him.
"Oh, I understand. That girl gave you so much grief today. I understand. My best, Percy Jackson."
Slowly, everyone in the room filed out until the only ones left were Apollo, Poseidon, Percy and I. Apollo was still acting maturely. "No strenuous activity. You got banged up pretty badly. To be honest, I don't know why you're awake. Usually, the Curse of Achilles forces you into a comma until you recover after something this bad."
Most of the time, I appreciated having Apollo around when he was serious, but I wanted to speak to Percy. I gazed silently at my brother, my eyes sliding to the door. Apollo sighed and walked out, muttering something about finding Rachel.
I fixed my eyes on Poseidon, waiting for him to move like Apollo. Poseidon deliberately ignored me in favor of talking to Percy. "Maybe you should come over to my palace, Percy. The reconstruction was much, much faster than I anticipated it being. It only took days."
"Because of Annabeth." His face was turned away from me when he said this, but his tone was oddly regretful.
Poseidon's face was in plane view, however. His face fell so abruptly I had to stifle a laugh, as inappropriate as that was in this situation.
Poseidon looked as if he regretted saying anything. "Well, yes, but that has nothing to do with this. You only got to see it when it was in ruins, and I would like you to see the new version."
"Which Annabeth built."
Poseidon pursed his lips. Even from here, I could hear the storm forming near the camp. Zeus didn't have a monopoly on those. "If you're so upset then you shouldn't have broken up with her."
Percy flinched and sneaked a glance at me. When he saw me glaring, he turned back to his father. "Er, could we maybe… talk about that later?" Poseidon understood.
"Aren't you tired, Artemis? Maybe you should retire to your cabin. Your Hunters must be anxious by now." Poseidon grinned at me, mockingly.
His obvious show of disrespect annoyed me. He wanted me gone and he wasn't even going to bother hiding it. If I refused, he would shoo me out.
I stood up. To my surprise, Poseidon mirrored me. "Let me walk you to the door. I'll be back, Percy."
He had me out the door so fast I didn't even have time to look back at Percy. He closed the door quietly. Because it is clear to me that he wants me gone, I keep on walking without waiting for me.
I was walking down the porch steps when he stopped me. "Artemis."
"Yes, Poseidon?" I didn't turn back to look at him and opted for examining the gentle glow of my cabin from this far away.
"Whatever your interest is, I don't like it. I don't approve. I want you as far away from his as you can possibly be. The daughter of Athena should be of no concern of yours."
"She is a maiden, and I have an obligation to all maidens. I must punish those who wrong them."
"And Percy is my son. Of the sea. Which means it's my duty to protect him if there ever comes a time when he's overwhelmed. You almost killed him today."
I almost flinched, but Hera's words echoed in my mind. Oh, they broke up? He broke up with her. I felt a sudden fury, one that I hadn't the first time those words had crossed my mind. I had thought that Percy was different. He had taken the sky from me so willingly. Annabeth had been so convinced he would never hurt her, so sure in her conviction that her love would one day be returned. I had wanted to believe that too, having watched the girl since her Hunters had stumbled on Thalia, Hermes's son and Annabeth.
But no. Men were all the same. Pigs, I thought, not for the first time tonight.
I wondered if Annabeth was a maiden still, or if she had given herself to him already and that's why he had broken up with her. I hadn't considered this when I was in the room. If I had, I'm pretty sure I would have been able to break Percy's neck in such a spectacular way that Apollo wouldn't have been able to repair the damage, despite Poseidon's presence.
My reasons for talking to Percy increased. I would let him explain himself—because there was a part of me that had become attached to him ever since he had helped rescue me from Atlas and I felt guilty about what I'd done to him today. I would pass judgment and if he hadn't taken Annabeth's maidenhood, I would offer her a place in the Hunters.
I whirled around to face Poseidon. "I need to confirm or deny what happened between him and Annabeth Chase."
Poseidon looked at me levelly, and I knew then that despite what I'd said about passing judgment, I wouldn't be able to kill Percy Jackson. And if I did somehow manage it, I would have to make sure to not let my Hunters go near the sea for the next couple of decades, at the very least.
Poseidon's insistence that Percy spend time in his palace came back to me. There he would be completely out of my reach. Perhaps it wasn't finished, or perhaps it was. I wouldn't put it past Annabeth to finish Poseidon's palace first because she loved Percy.
"Your Hunters may be getting worried."
"Yes, they may." My gaze slid from Poseidon to rest on the airy façade of the Big House. I couldn't see Percy, but I imagined him lying on a bed, waiting nervously for Poseidon.
My last thought before I flashed into my cabin was that Percy Jackson's biggest worry should not be his father.