Chiron was in the middle of a war council meeting when the Iris-message appeared.

He had all the counselors gathered around the ping-pong table and had just managed to get the last of thirty-seven pencils (a new record) out of Clovis's right nostril when he heard Leo say, "Um… hi."

The old centaur spun around as quickly as he could in the tightly packed room, smiling when he saw the son of Hephaestus. Maybe there's good news, he thought happily. "Hello there, Leo. What is it, my boy?"

"Well, I—uh—I know the Romans are about to attack and everything, but we've got some stuff you need to know." He paused for a moment before continuing. "The good news is that Annabeth completed the Mark of Athena quest,and we have the Athena Parthenos on board the ship."

Malcolm gasped from his seat in the corner, sitting straight up. "There's—there is no way in Hades. She did? No one's completed that quest, ever. This is—my gods, where is she?"

Leo dropped his head. "That's the, um, bad news. Percy and Annabeth—well, there was this whole incident with Arachne and some bad timing—and they're in… in Tartarus."

There was dead silence in the room.

"WHAT did you say?" Clarisse asked, rising to her feet and drawing her spear. "They're in TARTARUS? Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase. In Tartarus."

Travis and Connor seized her elbows and pulled her back into her chair.

"Quiet!" Travis hissed. "Do you want the entire camp to know?"

Leo looked uncomfortable. "Look, guys—we've got Nico, we're leaving Italy, we're heading to Greece. Nico has a plan. If Percy and Annabeth can help us close the Doors of Death from the Tartarus side, and the rest of us fight on the mortal side… we just might be able to do it."

Katie Gardner nodded, trying to be brave even though tear tracks were already etched down her cheeks. "Percy and Annabeth are the two most powerful demigods I know, guys. If anyone can do it, they can."

"I gotta go, everyone. Just—just wanted to give you a quick update." His hand slashed through the mist, and Leo was gone.

The room went silent again, and everybody looked at Chiron.

"Heroes," he sighed, "the Fates are not kind to you. I remember once when Percy—much younger then than he is now—asked me if it was hard to watch heroes grow up and train only to lose battles, or die, or get hurt. I told him that it was, sometimes. The only thing I think I can really say is that… this is one of those times."

There was a murmur of agreement through the room, a silvery noise that splashed like running water, and Chiron wondered when his lost son and daughter would stop coming up in his everyday thoughts.

Never. We will find them.

We must find them.

Leo joined Jason and Piper on the deck. The emerald sheets of land below them rolled by without them noticing or caring.

"Did you do it?" Piper asked.

Jason wiped his eyes on his sleeve, trying to be discreet, but Leo didn't care that he was crying anyway.

He nodded.

A/N: Loosely based on an idea off of tumblr. Hope you guys enjoyed!

Also: MARK OF ATHENA FEELS OMG WHO ELSE WAS JUST TOTALLY CRUSHED BY THE ENDING. PM me with your thoughts on the book!

EPC