For most, it was an ordinary day. Or night, that is. The earth was laying down to rest, children going to bed, and the moon shining down to earth. One thing was out of the ordinary though; something that not even the Mist could hide. You see, while it seemed like an ordinary night, one thing was extraordinary; the moon was blue. And not just a tinted, oh-nothing-is-out-of-the-ordinary blue.
This was a full cobalt moon, blazing down to earth. It even seemed as though the very pores of the enormous rock were weeping. It was another annual full moon celebration for Artemis and her hunters. They were celebrating, chatting with one another and placing bets on shooting competitions. There was nothing wrong at the moment for the band of immortal sisters. Zoë and Phoebe were having an arm wrestling competition, Kate and Elissa were shooting targets, and Alice was having a dodgeball fight with her twin sister, Rowan. Everyone was enjoying themselves... except for Artemis. Normally, she would be as happy as her hunters. Normally, she would be talking with Zoë about their next expedition, their plans, and the night. Normally, she would relax and forget all troubles that followed her. Except today wasn't a normal day. Not for her.
"My lady, what ails thee?" Artemis winced as Zoe sat down beside her mistress. "Ah, Zoe … it is nothing. I am fine, just go and enjoy the celebration. This is, after all, your two thousandth year serving as my lieutenant." Artemis attempted a smile, which came out more like a grimace. "Mistress, I hath been with thee for centuries. I have hunted beasts of power alongside thee, and I hath been with thou when Orion passed away so long ago. I think I know when something is wrong, and when thou art lying to me. This is about him, is it not?" Again, Artemis flinched... he was special to her. He was different from the typical male species, the rude dominant human.
He was one of the very few men who Artemis did not hate or dislike. He was able to capture her heart, but at the same time break it into a thousand shards. Even Orion, Artemis' first love, did not manage to do what he did. He was the one who left, and who left Artemis a changed being. "Mistress, you must stop th-" "Silence, Zoë." Artemis interrupted quietly but sternly, with an air not to be misunderstood. "I could have saved him. It was my fault; I was careless. It was my fault that he is no longer with us. I…I just wish that I could have been there, in the moment. I could have acted differently - fought better, saw quicker, trained more. I could have been more careful. Instead, I damned his life through eternity. It was not my own, but the life of another, and I will never forgive myself for it." Artemis sighed, placing her head on her hands, elbows resting on her knees.
She gazed out at the night sky with a mask of pure sadness and grief. It broke Zoë to see her mistress this way, but she wasn't surprised. Everyone in the Hunt had known that he had a relationship with Artemis. Strangely, he himself did not know that Artemis had loved him, or knew he had a relationship. He was just oblivious to everything. I guess no man could be perfect, Zoë thought with a small smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.
The relationship was strange, odd, and different in many ways, but Artemis had cherished it. When they first met, Artemis had lashed out with venomous words and taunting phrases, but he did not take offense. He took it in stride, minding the assaults and saving them for later while he tended to the ones he loved. He was only 12 then, and on his first quest no less, but already he was showing signs of becoming a great hero. The best, in fact. Zoë almost chuckled at the memory of their first meeting, almost 500 years ago... "Zoë, take your group and flank the right of the hellhounds. Phoebe, head left. Surround them and do not give them a chance to escape us. Just like every other time. We fire on my mark," Artemis ordered. "One... Two... Three... Fir-" Almost immediately they heard the cracking of twigs; the annoying telltale sounds of someone walking in the brush.
The hellhound party of eight immediately perked up and turned to face the sound. Artemis cursed silently: the hellhounds had been attacking several mortals living here, causing a widespread panic over the entire region. She had been ordered by her father (with the help of her annoying brother Apollo, unfortunately) to wipe them out for a couple of year, until they reformed from the depths of Tartarus. She almost turned and yelled at the passerby who had made the sound before she realized what was in the thick brush. A boy. With a small hellhound following hi, which she found unusual. She almost shot the intruders herself, before she realized the boy was a… demigod?And a Son of Poseidon, no less, with the overpowering stench of the sea and the glowing sea-green eyes.
Artemis frowned, for there have been no sea spawns for decade, ever since Poseidon had resolved to remain faithful to his wife. And after she killed Orion... Artemis immediately slapped herself mentally. What is over is over; she cannot bring back dead. It has been centuries anyways…he has likely forgotten.' She refocused again on the boy, merely 12 to 13 years old. His weapon, she saw, was a very odd choice.
Instead of the customary sword or spear carried by those pathetic archer demigods, or even a bow, he was carrying an elongated C -weapon, a … Warglaive. Yes, that was it, a Warglaive. She had not seen one for many centuries. Warglaives, she corrected herself. There were two strapped to his back, ready at an instant if he needed them. The boy seemed only slightly taken aback by the pack of hellhounds. Within a second he had corrected himself, assuming a battle position and drawing his deadly weapons, his pet also tensing up. Ha, thought Artemis.
The art of Warglaives was lost to all but the gods; those weapons were naught but for show and intimidation. 'What the male species does best,' she thought with contempt. She almost widened her eyes in surprise when he, with his hellhound, charged forward instead of defending against the noticeably larger force charging strait for him. She considered helping the young one for a moment, but decided against it. The less men in the world there were, the less trouble there was for her, no matter the age.
He ducked underneath the first hellhound that leaped at him, and sliced the underside with ruthless efficiency, wielding the Warglaives with unwavering skill, and then sliced the face of another hellhound, turning it to dust as it too leapt at him. His pet, despite the small size, managed to claw another hellhound multiple times before dodging a fang and claw.
In the first few seconds, one of the eight hellhounds were dead, and two others were grievously wounded. 'Good reflexes,' Artemis thought, as the boy once again assumed a battle stance. The hellhounds halted their charge and peered their foes with curiosity and caution, deciding to surround the two instead. The fact that one of their pack was killed and two wounded in less than a second, and by a seemingly weak party, had dropped their confidence level a notch, causing them to switch to the sly offensive.
The boy seemed content to wait, despite the hellhounds' slow surrounding of him, where they could attack in any direction and a t any given moment. 'A fool,' Artemis thought. 'No one should underestimate their enemies, even the hellhound, dumb beasts that they are.' She could sense her hunters itching to attack the hellhounds, but with a quick signal they sighed and released the tension on their bows. Not one of them would disobey their mistress. The hellhounds charged as one at the boy and his pet, but just as quickly the boy jumped high into the air. Slashing the hellhound in front of him with blindingly quick strikes and leaving it to vaporize, he instantly using his left Warglaive to block a claw as well as gut another hellhound. He became a whirlwind of destruction, blocking, dodging, slashing and gutting each hellhound one by one, until only four remained.
The hellhound pet also seemed to be equal in its master's combat abilities, rushing forward, biting and clawing two hellhounds both twice its size. Artemis watched, amused, when the boy was clawed across the back. He did not flinch or even acknowledge the wound, and continued fighting. In a few seconds, all that was left was a mountain of golden dust surrounding the once clean clearing.
The boy, instead of treating his own wounds first, treated his pet, checking it over and dabbing a small amount of nectar on to the cuts, which surprised Artemis. A normal hellhound would die from exposure to the godly drink, as humans would. The hellhound must have been blessed by the boy, which showed that they were an inseparable team. When he was satisfied, the boy drank the rest of the nectar and wrapped his own wound, where the hellhound claw had ripped him. Placing his Warglaives onto his back, he started to walk away, completely unnerved by the large amount of golden sand and destruction surrounding him.
The hellhound followed its master obediently, padding silently behind the victorious demigod. Artemis decided now was the time to stand up and demand why this young boy had come and took away her fun. These hellhounds were for the hunt, not this sea spawn. Signaling the rest of the hunters to surround him, she stood up. Before she was at her full height (which, mind you, was not very tall, as she took the appearance of a twelve year old girl), the boy had turned around and held one of his Warglaives in a throwing position aimed at her heart. If thrown it would have cleaved her in two.
The boy's eyes widened at the sight of a girl that was her age, but he knew better than to decide it was a mortal. A mortal would not have been able to see the fighting in the clearing, nor the Warglaives. The fact that he had not been able to sense her until she showed herself also proved that she could not be a mere demigod. This left the option of a goddess.
The boy put the Warglaives onto his back, and kneeled before the goddess, knowing that if she wished it, he could die at a moment's notice, even if he was on a quest for his father. He also told the hellhound who was supposedly his pet to stand down and stop growling. Artemis watched him with a careful and critical eye. Now that they were both in the open, she could study him more closely. The boy had raven black hair, and his height was fairly average for his young age. His green eyes showed intelligence and cunning, as well as bravery and respect -for her? She cast the thought from her mind; all men should respect her, even if not all did. He had an athletic body, and his arms showed small signs of muscles, but not too much to become repulsive for her. What was she thinking?
All men were repulsive, though she was amused by the boy's actions. He had studied her and assumed she was a goddess, and thus treated her with respect and reverence. Intelligence, something not many of his gender have, Artemis mused. "What were you doing attacking my prey?" She demanded harshly. "I'll have you know something, that I do not wish for males to watch or interfere with my hunts. Give me a reason quickly, or you will suffer the consequences." Artemis winced inwardly at her own tone. She wasn't used to talking like this, but she had to act like she hated the other sex. If she goes soft, she'll let them into her heart, like Orion... and then... She shook her head again (Mentally, of course. It wouldn't do for a boy to see her confused).
"Well? Answer me quickly. And you might as well explain who you are, and why in the name of Hades you have a hellhound with you." The boy was choosing his words carefully, she could tell. If this was who he suspected, his words will be treading on sensitive ground, and she would deal with him quickly, and harshly. Very harshly. "My lady, I did not mean to offend you or interfere in your hunt. I was merely headed towards my destination. I had no knowledge of the hellhounds or your party, and I am sorry that I have bothered you".
The goddess watched him with scorn, searching him physically and mentally, seeking any dishonesty in his words. Surprisingly, he told the truth. 'A first for everything.' she thought, with some grudging respect. "Why do you have a monster with you? You should know that these monsters are dangerous and should be killed upon sight, lest they should wreak havoc upon innocents." She wanted to test him, to see if he could find the words to explain what was clearly his most trusted companion. "My lady, Skia Dromeas does not mean any harm, I assure you. She is merely a baby, who was left behind by her pack as the runt. I have taken her in, and nursed her back to health. She does not deserve punishment, and she has never spilled an innocent's blood. She is innocent herself, and I intend to raise her as such." 'Skia Dromeas,' Artemis mused. 'Shadow Runner, a fitting name.' "How do you know that it is a she? How do you know it is innocent?
Hellhounds are mindless creature of the underworld, bred for destruction." The boy seemed to think this over, finding the most suitable answer before replying. "I am not sure, my lady-" "And stop calling me 'my lady'. To my hunters I am lady; to you I am Goddess. This annoys me to no end, and the fact that you are a male is making your situation dangerous. Tread carefully." The other hunters, even Zoë, were taken aback by the threatening tone she used. They had never seen their mistress this angry. The boy flinched visibly at her tone. "Lady Artemis, (here, he seemed worried that he had gotten the name wrong) I have a gift that allows me to communicate and understand certain beasts at a level. I do not know how or why I have it, which is why I may not be able to answer any more questions on this gift." Artemis simply nodded. The boy in front of her had been kneeling the entire time, not daring to meet her eyes for the fear of disrespecting her. "My last question. Who are you?" The boy seemed taken aback by the inquiry, obviously not expecting those words. He hesitated a few seconds, before answering. "I am the son of Poseidon, the Earthshaker and god of the Seas." "I obviously know that, boy, but what is your name?" The boy took a deep breath before replying boldly, fear evident in his eyes but also combined with much confidence. "With all due respect, I am afraid I am forbidden to do that, Lady Artemis.
My father forbids me from telling others until he deems the time is right." Artemis merely just glared at the boy, mentally unshielding his thoughts, one barrier after the next, before coming upon an impenetrable barrier, probably made by Poseidon himself. "Fine. Now get out of my sight before I shoot you and your pet." The boy seemed relieved, and still watching her carefully, he beckoned to his pet and walked away.
Artemis' hunters then showed themselves from the trees and bushes they were hiding in. "Mistress, does he bother you? We could go after him and teach the boy a lesson, if you wish," Phoebe offered. Artemis merely sighed and shook her head. "He confuses me. He shows deadly grace with strange and lost weapons, but he is young. He is respectful and kind, yet he is a male. He is cunning and intelligent, but he does not offer his own name despite my reasonable questions cue to loyalty to his father. He talks about a destination, but he never revealed what it was. I almost mistook him for a child of Athena, if it weren't for the scent of the sea." Zoë watched her mistress closely.
"My lady, if thou wish it we will follow him and learn what we can from him, even if it means we must interrogate him..." Artemis glanced at her lieutenant closely. "Zoë, relax. He merely confuses me, he does not disrespect me. Let us just find another monster to hunt, and tell my father of the discovery of a child of the sea." Zoë chuckled inwardly. Despite the fact that their first meeting was noticeably short and Artemis was hitting him with her words harshly, he had not shown offense, only respect and gratitude when Artemis allowed him to leave. Artemis watched Zoë closely out of the corner of her eye, seeing Zoë's eyes twinkle with laughter. "What is it, Zoë?"
Zoë nearly grinned trying to contain her small laughter and keep a guilty look off her face. "Forgive me mistress; I am just... remembering him, and our times together as a Hunt." The goddess merely took an anguished look on her face as she was once reminded of how harsh she had been to the demigod. She thought of the last time she had seen him.
It was on his deathbed, after a fatal battle in a vain effort to save her. She wanted to tell him so badly that she loved him, but she could never say it. She was too afraid and unnerved by the feeling, the emotion love. "Why? Why did you do it?" Her voice was shaky, and golden tears started to fall down her cheek. He raised his hand to wipe the tear away, but realized that he did not have the strength halfway through and dropped hi hand, letting it rest across his chest. "My lady, it was my duty. I did not wish to... see you in pain. It was better me, than you. My mortal life is not as valuable as yours. Besides, I-" "Do not say that!" Artemis interrupted viciously, tears now flowing down her cheeks.
He tried to wipe them away once again, but this only brought about a new batch of tears. "My guardian, you are just as worthy as the gods themselves. You will yet survive through this. Don't leave m... us..." He just chuckled weakly, making him cough and spit out blood. "My lady…I have served you faithfully for 50 years now. But you and I … both know that I cannot live through this…. Hyperion … attacked with too much power. He was able … to curse me. Look at me; I am barely a human anymore…. I would rather endure the pain than let you take the curse. Knowing that you … are safe, I can rest in peace, and…" He coughed weakly once more, "die with no regrets ... I am happy that I was able to fight by your side to the last." "No! Please, don't go away! Do not leave us! We can heal you..." Artemis said weakly. But inside she knew he was right. He was beyond saving, the curse already tearing his soul. "My lady…take care of Skia, please? I would hate to see her upset for long.
" The hellhound, now the size of a truck, was lying down next to her dying master, whimpering and nuzzling his arm. Artemis nodded without words, not trusting herself to speak without falling apart. He smiled happily, although with effort, before facing the stars above him. "The stars are beautiful tonight, milady." His attempt at a happy smile widened when he saw the Major Ursa, the bear he once fought and found as an equal. Even in death, he seemed optimistic, not allowing for anyone else to hold sadness.
He stiffened for a few seconds, before his whole body relaxed. Skia howled mournfully to the moon at the death of her master. The entire Hunt, who surrounded the scene, looked down sadly. He was like a brother that they never had, the big brother that cared for them. Artemis cried once more, and whispered, "Goodbye, my love..." Taking his weapons, she murmured slowly an ancient incantation that she had only performed twice in her immortal life. His Warglaives, the ones that he used so often, shimmered once, before taking on an ethereal glow and flying up to meet the night sky. The Hunters gasped when they gazed to where it was. In the space between Orion and the Major Ursa stood several new stars, depicting the picture of his beloved weapons, shining brightly against the dark night sky.
A god appeared at the scene a few seconds later, gasping at the sight of the still hero. Poseidon mournfully watched his now deceased son, his face a mask of shock. When he saw the Warglaives in the sky, he had transported immediately here. He now looked shocked that his favorite son had died fighting against Hyperion, and saving Artemis from a fatal curse. One by one, the gods arrived, and paid their respects. When Hades appeared, everyone but Artemis and Skia backed away. He too, surprisingly, looked upset. They all paid their respects to the lost hero, before burying him in the Garden of the Gods. Artemis mourned for months, before returning to her duties as the goddess of the moon. "Mistress?" Artemis turned her head to face her second in command, a single tear glistening in her eye. The whole hunt had paused, now gazing at their lady who was inexplicably crying.
Artemis merely sighed and turned to face her favorite constellation once more, the older members of the hunt now understanding and sharing her grief. "Why, Zoë? Why couldn't I have told him?" Artemis regretted letting him die. Hyperion's curse had not only been painful to him, but to her as well. Seeing his body writhe under the pain but still fight to live hurt her. His eyes had burned out, and in their place stood hellfire, and his back had sprouted those black leathery wings. But despite that he still fought. And died.
What made the memory worst was the fact that the curse not only changed his body, but his soul disintegrated when he died, which was why she could only turn the weapon instead of his body. If he was a soul, she could have visited him in Elysium, or when he tried for rebirth. But that was impossible. He was gone now, forever. Artemis shook her head. That was enough tragic memories for one night. Skia, the hellhound who had followed her faithfully for 450 years watched her carefully, sensing something was wrong. Artemis just smiled and patted the hound's head softly. She called her hunters together and informed them to be ready to move out at dawn. They would be going to an area near Westover Hall to destroy a manticore and his small band of lethal monsters. She sighed again. I just wished I told you I loved you once before you died. I wished I had told you I loved you, Perseus Jackson. Why didn't I? Next to her ear a familiar voice wispered to me "You were to scared,"she turned around and saw nothing