"Now boy," Kronos smiled sadistically. "Hand over your weapon and swear your life to my service. You will be a valuable asset to me when I rule this world again."
Percy slowly looked up from the ground. He did not respond, just glaring at the Titan before he suddenly spit right into the face of the Titan Lord. The enemy army surged forward to attack him when Kronos held up his hand, stopping them in their tracks. He wiped the spit from his face but remarkably, he just smiled.
"Such spirit in this one. If only it had been you who became my vessel. Alas, it matters not; you'll be dead in a moment followed shortly by the rest of these demigods." Kronos sneered.
Percy tried to stand up but stumbled and fell. Kronos laughed and kicked him in the side, rolling him onto his back where he pinned him down with a foot to the chest.
A scythe appeared in his hands and Kronos looked down at Percy with satisfaction.
"Any last words son of Thor? "
Reyna tried to run at the Titan but Kronos suddenly looked up, his eyes flashing and she froze in her place.
"Now, now," he chided as Reyna struggled to move but remained frozen in time. "None of that girl. The rest of you will die soon enough but this one gets my personal attention."
He smiled sadistically and raised his scythe to kill Percy when a murmuring rose up from the monster army. Kronos turned as the monsters parted in the middle and a dark figure strode down the aisle between them. The monsters hissed and recoiled as the figure radiated power and death, causing the bravest in the Titan Army to try and slink away from her.
Kronos' eyes flashed with anger as he saw the figure.
"I don't think that was part of our arrangement, my lord." A feminine voice said coldly as Hel approached the Titan hovering over Percy's pinned body. "The boy belongs to me."
"This does not concern you goddess. You said you're monster would destroy the boy and you failed. I am doing what you are apparently incapable of. Now know you place and fall back beside the lesser beings in my army." Kronos' voice was full of contempt as he looked murderous at being questioned in front of his army and the army of demigods in front of Olympus.
Hel stopped a few feet away from him and looked down at Percy, an amused smile gracing her ghoulish face.
"My place?" She asked calmly. Her face showed no fear as she stood before the Titan Lord. "I'm afraid my place is where I say it is. I had thought I would let you continue your little childish vendetta to destroy those meager Olympians who so easily dethroned you eons ago but it appears you've let your arrogance annoy me. That is something you will soon regret son of Uranus."
Kronos' face turned a purplish shade of red as he removed his foot from Percy's chest and turned to face the Norse goddess.
"You foolish goddess," he growled. "I am a Titan, you are a mere goddess. You will bow down before I strike you down."
Hel just stood before the Titan. Her face was a mask of indifference. She didn't even seem to acknowledge the fact that she stood before the most powerful Titan in existence. No fear, no nervousness, nothing. Then again, half her face was skeletal so determining her moods was not exactly easy.
The tension in the street was so thick it could be felt by both demigod and monster alike. The two powerful beings stood only a few feet apart but both seemed to be waiting for the other to waver. After a minute, Hel just smiled at him, "Such arrogance you Titans have, it is no wonder you were destroyed by your children. You should know that I am not one of your children, you have no idea the things I can do."
Kronos' eyes flashed again and he raised his scythe, "I am immortal. I have escaped Tartarus, I cannot be killed."
A low growl was heard from behind the Titan as a giant hound materialized out of nothingness. Before Kronos could even turn, the monster lunged, knocking him into the pavement. Kronos bellowed and a light erupted from the Titan, blasting Garmr into the crowd of monsters. Just as the Titan made to stand, he suddenly froze in his spot, a look of genuine fear on his face.
Hel stood beside the Titan but held a spear in her hand, the tip placed on the Titan's side in a place just under his armpit. Armor covered the spot but it would not be a challenge for a goddess to pierce it and reach the skin underneath.
"So foolish," Hel chided. "I was the one who prepared the boy to host you. I told him where to bind himself to his mortality."
"Attack her!" Kronos bellowed to his minions but no monster or demigod moved an inch. A look from the Norse goddess, her skeletal face daring them to try, kept them rooted in their spots.
"This army belongs to me now Titan. Now, what did you say to my dearest mortal cousin? Any last words?"
Before Kronos had a chance to respond, Hel thrust the spear through his armor, piercing the body of the Titan just under the pit of his arm.
Kronos bellowed in pain but his voice was a mixture of his and the son of Hermes whom he was possessing. The ground shook at their feet and Kronos began to glow, an ethereal golden light shining from his body and growing brighter by the second.
"NO!" A voice cried from the line of demigods. A blonde girl with tears in her startling grey eyes tried to run forward but was held back by a number of similar looking demigods, her siblings.
An explosion of light erupted from the body of the Titan forcing everyone with the exception of Hel to shield their eyes in fear of being blinded. When it vanished, the ground was blackened in a wide circle surrounding his body. Kronos' eyes snapped open but they were no longer gold. They were now blue and filled with surprise, shock and then fear when he looked at the woman standing above him.
Luke Castellan was back in control… For better or worse.
Hel gave him a ghoulish looking grin before she raised the spear again and thrust it into his chest, snapping the tip off once it was deeply imbedded in his body. The demigod didn't even have time to plead for mercy before being ruthlessly impaled. Luke cried out in pain but was silenced as the tip of the weapon hit his heart.
Hel watched with sickening satisfaction as the life left his eyes before she turned to the demigods, all looking awestruck at what they had just seen. The Titan Lord, their greatest threat had been destroyed by this horrifying Norse goddess whom only a few even knew about.
Hel looked at them and her freakish looking face smiled at the fear in their eyes.
"Yes, that is very smart of you half-bloods. You have good reason to be spared."
Despite their fear, the Romans, Greeks and Hunters standing at the foot of the Empire State Building readied their weapons, prepared to defend it with to their final breaths.
Hel threw back her head and laughed at their show of bravery. "You can rejoice demigods. The Titan King has bought you time. I will return on the morrow and end this pathetic age of the gods. If any of you have any sense, you will flee. Resist me and you will meet the fate of the Titan."
Hel turned her attention from the demigod in defending Olympus to the one trying to get to his feet beside her. He got to his knees when she caught his attention. His hand immediately opened and Mjolnir appeared ready to fight with whatever strength he had left.
"Not yet, Perseus Jackson," Hel said. "The time of our battle draws near but I will not destroy you in this weakened state. Your fate was written long ago to meet me in this spot. I will only face you at your best."
Percy tried to stand but staggered a little and settled for a knee. Before he could speak, Hel continued.
"Take this time to speak to those you love, son of Thor. This will be your final chance. It is only in my infinite mercy that I give you this chance. You would be a fool to waste it. Tomorrow will be your final in the world of the living."
Hel turned to the Titan Army and gave them with a steely look as if daring one of them to defy her. "Retreat back to your bases. Tomorrow you march on Olympus."
The monsters and demigods shifted nervously but another look from the goddess sent them into a hasty retreat. Hel glanced down at Percy who was still on a knee and looking ready to pass out at any moment.
"Fate cannot be escaped Perseus Jackson. I was forced into mine just as you yours. Your death is merely a part of my destiny just as fighting me is yours. Rest, you will need your strength when we meet again." Hel said ominously before shimmering out of existence and leaving Percy looking bruised and battered but also perplexed by her final words.
Reyna and Jason both ran up to Percy who remained on a knee, staring at the spot Hel had vanished from with a faraway look in his eyes.
"Percy!" Reyna said kneeling in front of him with a worried look, "Are you okay?"
Percy met her gaze and slowly nodded before going into a coughing fit and doubling over. Jason grabbed him and held him up. When Percy looked up again, blood covered his mouth, staining his teeth a sickening crimson color.
"Gods," Reyna gasped. "Percy, what happened?"
He wiped his mouth and spit out some of the blood that had collected in his mouth, "Apparently invulnerable does not cover your internal organs. Being used for batting practice by a group of Laistrygonians is not something I'd ever like to experience again."
"Come on," Jason said trying to pull him to his feet. "We've got to get you to the medics."
Percy pulled his arm away and shook his head, "I'm fine, really."
Jason was about to protest but Reyna gave him a look that told him that she would handle it. She helped Percy to his feet and led him towards the Empire State Building. They didn't speak. Reyna could tell his mind was preoccupied with the events that had just transpired at the doors of the Empire State Building and undoubtedly the words of Hel.
They walked inside and straight to the Elevator. The security guard post was vacant and the keycard was left in the elevator as the wounded had been brought up over the past few hours. Percy pressed the button for the 600th floor and slumped against the wall of the lift. He coughed a bit and more blood filled his mouth. He ignored the metallic taste and wiped his lips as the elevator dinged signaling their arrival.
When the elevator doors opened, Reyna involuntarily gasped when she laid eyes on the city of Olympus.
Despite his pain, Percy gave her a smile but his blood stained teeth wiped the smile from Reyna's face quickly.
"First time on Olympus?"
Reyna nodded slowly, "I never thought I'd ever set foot here. It's… It's so beautiful."
Percy smiled again and grabbed her hand as he led her across the small bridge that connected Olympus to the world below. She gripped his hand tightly as she risked a glance over the side, something she immediately regretted.
"I wouldn't recommend falling. I don't think I have the energy to control a leaf, let alone two bodies if I have to jump after you."
Reyna ignored his words and focused on putting one foot in front of the other. A few nerve racking seconds later, they reached the outskirts of the city; but what she saw was not what she expected. It was a ghost town. Not a single being stirred. The windows of every building were shut tight, as if the city were preparing for a big storm.
"Where is everybody?" Reyna asked looking around confused. "I thought Olympus would be filled with gods, nature spirits and other immortals."
"Hiding," Percy replied, "They are hoping the demigods and gods will save the day so they can go back to their insignificant immortal lives, cowards." His tone was bitter and Reyna decided not to say anything about it.
They walked past the encampment of demigods who were wounded. Medics, both Greek and Roman, buzzed around trying to do everything they could with limited resources. Reyna stopped by a couple of Apollo legionnaires from the First Cohort but Percy just kept walking. She frowned and chased after him.
"Hey, what are you doing? You need some Ambrosia and Nectar. Those injuries aren't going to heal themselves."
Percy kept walking as they neared the massive throne room of the gods. Reyna looked at him nervously but he seemed like he was in his own little world.
"Percy, we shouldn't." She warned. "I don't think it's a good idea to walk into the throne room without the gods in there."
Percy didn't even acknowledge her words. He walked up the stairs and Reyna grudgingly followed hoping they wouldn't walk in on some immortal and get blasted to dust.
Percy pushed the doors of the throne room open and stepped inside. The room was eerily quiet. The light crackling of the hearth fire in the center of the room was the only noise. The fire was down to its embers but the light from it cast eerie shadows of the giant thrones in the room. Percy kept walking. He made his way closer to the fire before he suddenly stopped. Mjolnir appeared in his hand as he tensed as if preparing for a fight.
Suddenly, a small child materialized by the fire. She wore a brown cloak and poked at the coals of the hearth, trying to keep it going.
"Perseus Jackson," the girl said not taking her eyes from the fire. "I see you have finally made it to our hearth. I welcome you, son of Thor."
"Vesta," Reyna said in awe before immediately dropping into a bow. Percy stayed in his spot, standing a few feet away from the goddess. He kept his hand tightly wrapped around Mjolnir but his body seemed to relax a little being in the presence of the hearth goddess.
"Percy bow!" Reyna whispered to him, hoping he would not anger the goddess with his disrespect.
"I don't expect that is something he has any plans of doing my dear. I think after his last encounter in this room, he has little good will towards us gods." The goddess said. Her tone was kind, almost with a bit of humor in her voice as she spoke. "And it's Hestia, my dear. Let's not get into the Roman/Greek thing right now, I'm getting a headache just thinking about it." Hestia said softly.
"What do you want from me?" Percy asked suspiciously. "I felt the urge to come here and I can only guess that was you're doing."
Hestia slowly stood up and faced Percy and Reyna who had stood up again. She was tiny, no older than eight years old and she looked tired as if the days were wearing on her small frame.
"Many feel the same calling in times of turmoil. You seek home but I believe that word brings conflict to you, does it not?"
Percy looked into the eyes of the goddess and found they were full of flames. Not the destructive kind but more the gentle kind, like those of the hearth she tended here on Olympus. She glanced down at Mjolnir and frowned slightly.
"I mean you no ill-will Perseus. You have no need for a weapon in my presence."
Percy glanced down at the weapon before it glowed and disappeared into a bracelet. He still didn't speak, busy thinking about the words of Hestia.
Home was a conflicted word when it came to him. He never really had one; not a true one anyway. He was a part of a world that no longer existed on Midgard. His people were gone, him the last of his kind, left behind to fulfill a destiny that was becoming more and more impossible. But home also brought thoughts of Camp Jupiter and the friends he had made there; Cassie, Frank, Jason and Reyna.
He was stuck between both worlds, unsure of which one he belonged to. He looked up and found Hestia looking at him sadly. Without a word, she walked up to him and placed her hands on his cheeks. Her hands glowed with a soft orange light and Percy felt a warming sensation move from his face then throughout his body. When the goddess stepped back, the pain in his chest and stomach were gone. He looked at her in awe and confusion to which she only smiled.
"You may not be sure where yours is, but you will always find comfort and help at my hearth when you are in need. You are a special person Perseus Jackson. You were left a great burden at too young an age. You were forced to grow up too soon and were given the burden of a hero's life. I cannot tell you what you want to know. That is something you must discover on your own, in your own time." Hestia looked at him with such kindness Percy felt the indescribable urge to hug the goddess.
Hestia smiled at him again and put a hand to his cheek, "Sit by my hearth and rest. The answers you seek are just waiting to be found. You will have the greatest challenge of your life tomorrow; you should figure the answers out before you face it." She let go of his cheek and stepped back and into the hearth where she dissolved into smoke and vanished from the throne room.
When Hestia was gone, Percy and Reyna were once again standing in the middle of the rows of thrones. The hearth fire still crackled but seemed to have a little more life to it than before. It was as if the conversation with Hestia had perked up the entire room around them.
Percy felt like the fire. The previous feelings of hopelessness and despair were not as strong. His body appeared to be completely healed; another thing that lifted his spirits. He thought about the goddess' words and frowned at the cryptic and ominous words she had spoken.
Why did gods never just give the answer you sought? He thought frustrated.
They seemed to enjoy beating around the bush and then vanishing to leave you to contemplate their words.
Without another word, Percy held his hand out to Reyna. She took it and he sat down, pulling her down with him. He laced their fingers together and stared into the fire thinking about what Hestia had said and enjoying what could be his final chance for a happy and peaceful moment. He smiled slightly as he realized he was spending it with the exact person he wanted to share it with if it were to be his last.
A.N: It's short, I know. But it was more of a set up chapter. The next one will be the fight with Hel and whatever else I think of as I write it. After that, only another chapter or two. This story has almost reached its end. I wanted to thank all of you who favorited/followed/reviewed. I hope it was good, I know I lost my place a few times but real life annoyingly gets in the way sometimes.
Well, reviews are always lovely and the next chapter will be done sooner than this one was. Sorry again for how short it is, been a Hel of a week and I didn't have much time for writing.