Author Note: Hello all! For my followers from other fandoms, sorry this isn't an update for your particular fic, but my author in this fandom has been pestering me to write a fic for him, and I shall. It's still sort of nebulous and ambiguous, but here's the first chapter. For all my new readers, whether you're fans of Son Of Hades or not, I hope you enjoy my fic! There will be a few OCs popping up, mainly because this world incorporates multiple nationalities and mythoses, and unfortunately for me, Rick Riordan does not have so diverse a cast that such a thing may be written without filling in some gaps TT_TT
Disclaimer: I do not own Percy Jackson and the Olympians, which is owned by Rick Riordan. I do not own Odd Magic either, for those of you who get the reference.
Warnings: Mild Cursing.
When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. - Sherlock Holmes, Character of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The lone blond took a deep breath before looking over his surroundings once again. This time, just as every other time he had gazed over the landscape during the past five minutes, left him dumbfounded. All he had done was walk into the local grocery market, as he had done times beyond counting, but instead of perusing aisles crowded with a legion of moms arguing with gaggles of children, as he should have been, he found himself in the middle of a well-kept marble walkway lined by precisely manicured trees leading up to what looked like something out of a medieval tale.
The strangest part, however, was not that he found himself staring at a giant building hewn of bleak gray stone and adorned out with turrets, towers and statues. (The phrase, "We're sorry, your prince is in another castle" ran through his mind, forcing him to smother a rather manic giggle. Or the beginnings of a panic attack, he wasn't quite sure.) He wanted to start laughing hysterically. He wanted to cry. He wanted to scream at the top of his lungs. How was any of this possible? The strangest part of this whole ordeal was the fact he was staring at this building in broad daylight. He looked at his watch. It still read twelve in the morning.
The blond young man shook his head, brought his fist to his forehead, and paused a moment. The last thing he remembered was helping an exceptionally, perhaps unnaturally, big boned giant of a woman with voluminous tangled white hair that dropped almost to the ground with her groceries in the not quite deserted parking lot of Ralphs, as it looked like some stray animals were attempting to make off with her food in the dead of night. He had learned that the rather large lady was actually helping the stray animals with their groceries, much to his chagrin and bemusement. She had thanked him for the help with a smile and a worn coin that she had said was a good luck charm. Jason had taken the coin, not wanting to draw out their interaction past the obligations of propriety and chivalry, and had promptly power walked towards the supermarket. Then, he had stepped from concrete onto marble, blinking at the sudden appearance of the sun in the sky.
And now he was back at the beginning of his little loop. Strange woman, door, sunlight, strange woman, door, sunlight. There had to be a thread of logic here somewhere, the boy thought to himself. Maybe he had just fainted and this was a dream. He pinched himself. It hurt. Not a dream, then.
Maybe this was some sort of hallucination? His mom had the unfortunate habit of dropping her needles wherever felt convenient at the time. It was possible that he could have stepped on one. That being said, he always made sure to wear shoes in the house to prevent something like that from happening. So no again.
As the young man grasped desperately at the unraveling threads of societal conditioning, he was startled by a hand clapping him on the shoulder, "Hey there!"
The boy nearly jumped out of his skin and turned around, taking a look at the stranger. He had a shit eating grin on his face that, combined with the rather devilish gleam in his sea-green eyes, served to worry the boy lost in a strange environment. That being said, the other young man was far from unattractive. He had a sculpted athletic build, which made sense since he was wearing some sort of sports uniform, and his unruly black hair was plastered to his face with sweat.
"Um, who are you?" the lost boy asked.
The stranger looked down at the boy, as the blond boy was a head shorter than he was, "Oh. You're one of those. I thought I felt something a little odd from over here. Nico said it must have been my imagination. Anyway, come with me and I'll help you get it all sorted."
The dark haired stranger tried to wrap a companionable arm around the boy's shoulders, but he shrugged it off, "I asked you who you are!"
The stranger laughed a little, "Sorry about that, my name's Percy. Percy Jackson. Now come on, I have to get you to the main office so I can hurry back to practice. Coach is going to kill me if he thinks I'm playing hooky."
The boy didn't shrug the arm off this time, letting the other male pull him towards the imposing structure, "Um, where exactly are we?"
Percy scratched his chin with his free hand, "Well, I suppose it's alright to tell you. You're at a school, of sorts. I'm not sure how much else I'm allowed to say."
"But I was in the grocery store!"
Percy laughed at that, "Ah, I had a feeling you were special. Let me guess, you saw a strange woman? Long white hair? Animals everywhere?"
The boy started, "Y-yeah, how did-?"
Percy interrupted with a chuckle, "Same thing happened to me! It happened to me when I was really young, though, but not many of us get scouted like that. You're the first, since me, actually. What's your name, by the way? I can't imagine them kicking you off campus, especially considering who brought you here."
"Um, I'm Jason. Jason Grace."
Nico grumbled under his breath as he searched through the halls of the Chancellery for Percy. He should have kept Percy at the training fields, but no, one look from those sea green eyes, and Nico was practically made of mush and was willing to do anything Percy asked of him. But now, Nico had been sent to find the older demigod, as Coach Hedge had noticed one of his star performers was missing.
Nico's orders were to "Find that lump of muscle before we have to go up against more of Coach Hu's monstrosities! I'm not losing to that flea covered sack of stripes simply because Jackson decided he wanted to take a stroll!" Nico had decided against reminding Coach Hedge that this was just a training session, and that there was no reason to get so worked up. After all, Percy had trained with Coach Hu just as much as he had trained with Coach Hedge. Nico had known that that wouldn't matter to the Satyr, however, and he had promptly jogged off to find his friend.
Nico, however, was now at a loss regarding where Percy had wandered off to. When Percy was occasionally in the mood to ditch, he only went a few places, all of which Nico had promptly checked. Now he was tired, hungry, and wet from shadow traveling to the bottom of the lake and back up to the surface after a fruitless search, but before the drowning had started. So, Nico had headed towards the Chancellors' Offices, sure that they'd know the other Demigod's location.
Nico was jolted out of his internal grumbling by the sound of Percy's laughter. Nico briefly entertained the notion of stabbing the Blue obsessed prince before shaking his head to clear it and walking towards the sound of Percy's voice.
"Do you know how much trouble you're-" Nico started as he saw that Percy had his arm wrapped companionably around a dazed looking, and annoyingly attractive, blond stranger, "Oh, hello." Nico said.
Percy gave Nico a smug grin, "A bit late to try for a good first impression now, Neeks."
Nico's expression tightened at the nickname, causing Percy to laugh again and the blond to chuckle awkwardly as he rubbed the back of his head, "Oh, I wish I had a mirror! You should see your face!" Percy said as he bent over laughing, his arm around the blond tugging the shorter boy into Percy's chest.
Nico coughed into his fist, "I'm Nico di Angelo, nice to meet you. Who are you exactly?"
The blond gave Nico a wry grin, "I'm Jason Grace."
Percy had started to drag Jason towards the Chancellors' Offices again, and the trio started walking as Nico and Jason finished their introductions.
"Well, Jason," Nico put on the best smile he could manage, "it's unusual for strangers to find their way here, how exactly did you-"
"Great Goddess, Nico," Percy groaned out, rolling his eyes, "Jason's going to be interrogated enough as it is by the Chancellors. No need to start early."
Jason frowned at looked towards Percy, "Interrogated? Why would they interrogate me? I thought you said they wouldn't kick me out because of that strange woman?"
Nico kept his silence, but he could feel his heart palpitate slightly. This new kid had met with her? Been scouted by her? He felt his stomach clench in time with his fists, but did his best to listen to Percy anyway, "It's just standard procedure. They just have to verify that she sent you here, but they like to be thorough. I think it's because one of the Chancellors hates being here, so he tries to make it just as hard on all of us."
"Speaking of which," Nico said as they approached the end of the hallway, opening up the door for Jason and Percy, "It's time for you to meet the boss people, Jason."
The trio entered a rather lavish reception area, a lone mahogany desk standing sentry before a door with the word "Chancellor" carved into it. A young girl with tangled fiery red hair sat at the desk, which sported a placard that read "Best Secretary in the Multiverse", was piled with paperwork, a jar of multi-colored pens and highlighters, a laptop with an unlidded eye logo, and strangest of all, a dozen white mice zipping around helping the redhead file all of the paperwork.
"Percy, Nico, random stranger, Chiron and the others are expecting you," the redhead said without looking up, busily typing into her laptop with one hand while using the other to grab a paper that had just finished printing. Nico watched Jason start as the blond saw a mouse fly past, grabbing the paper and flying over to a cabinet another mouse had just pushed open.
"What the…" Jason gawked, his mouth agape as Percy pulled him along towards the door on the far left.
"Thanks Rachel," Percy said, waiving with his free hand as he walked past her and stood in front of the door. It was when he walked up to the door, however, that Jason noticed it had no handle. Nico frowned at the door, "Open," he said in a loud clear voice.
The door remained infuriatingly shut.
Rachel giggled and Nico swung around to glare at her, "I don't think you have the hang of it quite yet, Neeks. Percy?"
Percy focused on the door, and both Nico and Jason shivered as they felt their hairs stand on end, "Open," he said quietly. The door swung inwards, a wall of black shadows welcoming the trio. Jason gulped, but before he could say anything, Percy had already dragged him through the door, Nico following.
When the darkness cleared, the three of them were standing in a meadow, a large stone table with someone standing behind it a dozen paces away. The person waved them over and the trio set out, Percy practically dragging Jason forward with the arm around the shorter boy's shoulder.
"Wha-where-I-I don't think it's a good idea for me to stay here anymore," Jason's voice was mostly calm, despite the stuttering, but Nico could feel the fear radiating off of the other boy. Nico supposed he shouldn't blame the blond overmuch for his reaction. He hadn't fared much better when he had first come. But Percy's arm was firmly wrapped around Jason's shoulders, and though Jason looked to be in pretty good physical condition himself, he wasn't a match for the taller young man.
Percy's voice was warm and not unkind, "Don't worry Jason, you'll get used to that type of thing. We're meeting with one of the nicer Chancellors, he's pretty much the nicest Centaur you'll ever meet."
"Centaur?" Jason had started digging his heels into the ground at the word. Nico frowned and glanced askance at the blond. Was this really such a big deal? While it had been some times since Nico himself had first come to the Garden, he didn't remember causing furrows in the landscape when Percy dragged him to the table.
"Okay, here we are!" Percy flashed his famous one-hundred watt smile at both Nico and Jason as he held the blond before the large stone table. Nico suppressed a flash of envy that Percy wasn't wrapping his arms around him instead. However, as the typical Percy-fantasy played through his head, Nico caught sight of Jason's blush at the larger boy's arms encircling him. Nico's eyes narrowed, but Jason was too caught up in both the feel of Percy against his back and the sight of the Centaur in front of him to notice.
"Ah, Percy, Nico, I assume this is our newest arrival?" The Centaur smiled at Jason. He looked to be in his early thirties, and wore a tweed jacket on his top, which trailed down towards the end of his torso to the body of a white stallion. "The other Chancellors should be along momentarily, but before they arrive, might I ask you your name, young man?"
"I'm-I'm-uh-" Jason stuttered, looking from Chiron to Percy to Nico and back again. Nico simply rolled his eyes at the blond's stuttering, while Chiron looked at him with an encouraging smile.
"S'all good, don't worry so much," Percy said as he reoriented himself so he was no longer holding Jason in a death grip in case he tried to bolt. Nico's internal green monster calmed somewhat, but he did notice that Percy still hung on the boy, his body tense and ready to spring into action, despite his calm posture.
"Ja-Jason." Jason finally mumbled. Chiron smiled and opened his mouth to reply, but was cut off by a loud and slurred voice.
"A mosht in-inaush-inaushpishous name, I musht say," a large, but not necessarily corpulent, man said. He stumbled over to the stone table from behind Chiron, his curled brown hair swaying as he teetered and tottered his way to stand before the three young men. His eyes were drooping and his face was a bright intoxicating red. As if to prove that Jason was an ill-omened name, he took an almost angry swig from his golden goblet, splashing rich red liquid down his chin, which, instead of spotting his opulent red toga, seemed to almost flow into the coloring of the cloth.
"While names are a powerful thing," an old wizened Asian woman in a traditional Chinese robe said as she sat down in a stone chair that had appeared as suddenly as she had on Chiron's other side, "it would not be prudent for us to judge him on such a thing, yes? Come child, sit," she pulled a wrinkled little hand out of her voluminous red sleeves and waved towards them, causing three stone chairs to appear on the boys' side of the table, "be at ease. And young Perseus, stop hovering over the child like some sort of jailor. You have conveyed him to us. You have done your duty."
"Jeeze, Gran," Percy grumbled as he sat down in the chair opposite the Asian woman, "you know I don't like my full name." He had thudded down into the chair, smirking playfully at the old woman as he rested his cheek in his palm. Jason sat down gingerly in the chair opposite Chiron, testing it before he sat down as if to ensure he wouldn't fall through it. Nico rolled his eyes at the blond's antics yet again before seating himself in the last chair, leaning indolently on the armrest, already bored with the proceedings. Why was he even sitting through this tedium? All he had been sent to do was fetch Percy and get back to practice. But, now that Gran had already conjured a chair for him, it was plain that she, at least, expected him to stay.
"Now, it's a pleasure to meet you, Jason. My name is Chiron." Chiron introduced himself. His smile was calming, and Nico had to fight to keep himself alert. He knew that Jason probably wouldn't stand a chance against whatever magic the Centaur was using. As he set his gaze askance, however, Nico noticed that Jason was, indeed, quite alert.
Nico caught Percy's gaze and the boy smiled and winked. He had noticed Jason's unaffected state as well. Nico held back a frown. He didn't understand how a newcomer – a frightened, skeptical, and bedazzled newcomer at that – could possibly be fine when he wasn't. Another pang of jealousy flashed through Nico as he recalled that Jason had been scouted.
"Dionysush ish the name," Dionysus slurred before he took another swig from his goblet, "And, by yr looksh, yr anosher one mine."
Jason blinked, "Dionysus? Like, Bachus? Greek God of Wine?"
Dionysus rolled his eyes, "Why ish it that y'all focus on the wine. I'm the God of Merrymaking! Wine's just a side job." Dionysus sobered up as he tried to take another swing and found his goblet dry. He looked at the goblet as if it had committed a grave sin before snapping his fingers. Rich red liquid once again filled the goblet before he took a sip, only to spit out tea. "Daft wench!" The god raged as he threw the goblet to the floor, glaring at Gran.
Gran, for her part, simply smiled, "I, for my part, eschewed names long ago. You can simply call me Gran, as most of the children here do." Gran's gaze slid to the red faced god and her lips twisted slightly into a smirk, "And as for you, Dionysus, you should not be drunk at these proceedings. Tea is far more appropriate a drink to imbibe, both for you and for the children."
As she spoke, finely decorated cups of china appeared before Chiron, Gran and the three children, filled to the brim with steaming warm dark liquid. Nico just frowned at the substance. Like most Children of the West, he normally shied away from concoctions given out by Gran. Jason looked at the cup as he had looked at the rest of his experience thus far, with heavy skepticism. Percy simply tossed the drink back with a smile.
"Thanks, Gran." He said with a smile as he put the cup back down on the table with a soft clink, "That really hit the spot."
Chiron coughed to bring the session back under control, "Now then, Jason. I'm sure this is all very strange from you. But yes, my friend here," he gestured towards Dionysus, who had since conjured another goblet of rich red wine, casting dark glares over at gran as he nursed his drink, "is indeed Dionysus, or Bachus, the Greek God of Wine and Merrymaking. As you may have noticed, the three of us are not exactly what the rational world would call…" Chiron paused delicately to search for a term.
"Believable?" Jason answered for him.
Chiron gave the newcomer a warm smile, "Yes, I suppose that is one way to look at things. Regardless, I would like to hear the story of how you came here. The fact that Percy found you out wandering the grounds means that you more than likely did not find your own way here, but please, I would like to be sure."
Jason frowned before telling them the story. His mom, as usual, had drunk and shot up a good portion of the money save for what he had managed to hide away. He had taken what little they had to go find actual groceries once she had passed out and he wasn't in danger of being caught with money she could use for booze or drugs. From there, he went on to relate the curiosity of finding the long haired giantess, the animals, and not managing to get to the grocery store at all, but instead coming to find this place. Jason double checked his watch. Yes, where it was bright and sunny and happy at one o'clock in the morning. Jason almost started as he finished his story, almost as if he wasn't quite sure why he had revealed so much of himself. Nico was quite sure the too-pretty blond hadn't intended to give them the truth, or at least, the whole truth, at any rate.
Dionysus and Gran were silent as Chiron laid his arms on the stone table, "Did this giantess give you anything?"
Jason fished in his pocket for a moment before putting the gold coin the giantess had given him on the table. The stone seemed to shudder as the gold touched its surface. The side of the coin that was up displayed an elaborate carving of a bearded man sitting atop a large throne. Nico knew the other side would be covered in old symbols. Nico's fists tightened in his sides and he looked over at Percy, who mouthed, "Told you so," before turning his attention back to the proceedings. Nico could feel the bile welling up in his throat. He gave Jason another one over. The boy was obviously an athlete, and despite the family problems he had mentioned before, he was obviously a social butterfly, too. Nico could feel his teeth grinding at the thought of it.
Chiron picked up the coin reverently, turning it in his hands, "Yes, there is no doubt about it. You are, indeed, one of us, child."
"One of what?" Jason asked, his eyes wide with shock.
"You're a scion, Jason." Nico said, not able to take the sheer blondness of the situation any longer. "You're not entirely mortal. You have something supernatural in your blood."
Jason shook his head, "That-that's not possible."
Percy shrugged and clapped Jason on the back, flashing the blond a smile, "Did you think any of this was possible? But the fact you had that coin means you're the real deal, Jay."
"What is it?" Jason asked as Chiron held the coin back out for him to take.
"It's a sign of luck, and of power, young one. The giantess you met is another one of the Chancellors, one given to travel. She wanders the world and gives these coins to those she deems exceptionally worthy of joining us here in this place of learning."
Percy took out a chain that had been hanging beneath his shirt. On it rested a coin similar to Jason's, but for the imagery. Nico couldn't see the coin, but he knew it well enough to know that the coin was not gold, as Jason's was, but a burnished brass with a square hole through the center, the image of a beautiful woman on one side, and Chinese calligraphy etched onto the other.
"Yours is different." Jason said, almost absentmindedly.
Percy nodded, "They were really confused when I came here, because of it. I'm a Child of the West, but the coin was Eastern. At first, they thought she had screwed something up. But she said that was the way it was supposed to be, and that was that."
Jason's brow furrowed, "Child of the West?"
Chiron smiled benevolently before looking up at the sun in the sky, "I'm sure you have a great many questions, Jason. But before we can answer all of them, I must ask you if you wish to stay here."
"What?" Jason blurted out. He looked at the Centaur as if the notion of his living there was more ridiculous than the fact that he was talking to a mythical being.
Dionysus nodded, "You were scouted. You did not come here of your own will. If you so desire, you may stay here, in this place, and learn, about who and what you are, as well as what you are capable of."
Jason opened and closed his mouth before Percy interrupted, "Let me guess? You don't want to leave everything you know, but it's not all that great, either. Everyone likes you, and you fit in great, but there's something off. Something just doesn't feel right. People think you belong, but it's like you feel you don't belong." Percy's eyes locked with Jason's. "Am I close?" Jason nodded a little.
"It's like that for a lot of the powerful ones." Nico said as he leaned back in his chair. "Some can go their whole lives without finding this place. I came here late, but I found the place. Very few of us have the fortune of being given this life. Most of us need to find it."
Gran stood, and the rest followed, but for Chiron, who had been standing throughout the discussion, "Stay for a while before you make your decision, child. I'm sure Perseus – " Percy groaned at the name, " – or young Nico will be more than able to answer your questions and show you what type of life you could lead here. If you choose to leave, you will be back at your grocery store, and this will have been but a dream."
"Percy, if you will be so kind as to show young Jason back to Campus. And you might want to hurry back. If I understanding things properly, Coach Hedge is less than pleased you hared off in order to find our wayward companion, here." Chiron said as he fixed Percy with an amused look.
"Shit." Percy muttered and dashed off, leaving a laughing Chiron and Gran, and a drunkenly merry Dionysus as he sprinted towards the door, once again dragging a flustered pair of youths behind him.