Hello my readers. Just a few warnings about LoO before reading:
1) Updates are sporadic at best, but I'm making an active effort to update more.
2) Romance aspect comes in a bit later, but it will be there. PM me or leave in a review who you want, since it's pretty open and I like teasing at possibilities.
3) Percy is rather overpowered... I have warned you. It's explained as to why he is, but I want to make it clear: OP!Percy.
4) A bit darker than the original series, but there will be light-hearted moments.
5) Storyline is not going to be the same as the original series, so if you're looking for Percy going through the same prophecies as before, this isn't the place.
If you're alright with those five, then please—enjoy!
AU. When Perseus Jackson, five-year-old orphan, wandered the world, he is taken in by the least likely Olympian. Overtime, Percy became a ruthless warrior—the secret weapon of Olympus. Without knowing it, Percy sets a whole new prophecy in motion, rousing an ancient enemy; one that will require all of Olympus to destroy. How will history differ this time? Percy/?
ARC I: PROLOGUE
"The beginning is the most important part of the work."
Legend of Olympus
Birth of a Legend
The Fates sat in an ancient room, properly adjourned by the eldest Greek décor. Their long, wispy gray hair billowed behind them, as if there were a nonexistent air current blowing through the room. However, that was impossible—there were neither windows nor doors for wind to blow through.
They were, simply, in another dimension that belonged only to the Fates. This world was shared with the faded gods and goddesses of ancient Greece and Rome alike, allowing accommodation for deities that have lost their will to survive in the mortal world.
The Moirai were excited. They were weaving a thin piece of string, a brilliant green one at that, and jabbering excitedly, planning deaths and betrayals and setting up an epic tale that will be told for generation upon generations. They were building the life of a man who would destroy gods and titans alike, a man who would be unmatched by any other mortal soul. The age of heroism was long gone, but this man was going to usher in a new Golden Age, one that will keep the world in peace for many centuries.
His power would be terrifying, able to frighten the mightiest of Olympians with a single stare. Yet life had to have balance, they decided, so he would also suffer greatly from tragedy and betrayal of the worst kind, never able to love someone without unknowingly dooming them to a terrible death. Such was the fate of a hero who would change the world.
"It is about to begin," Clotho, wisest and kindest of the sisters murmured. They whispered excitedly, preparing themselves to witness the greatest story ever told. The room grew silent with anticipation. Decades of work and planning had finally come to fruition. She snapped her fingers once…
… and in a completely different dimension, a baby with sea green eyes was born.
Correction. A legend was made.
Percy was a month old when something tried to kill him for the first time.
A pair of snakes slithered into his basket when his mother wasn't watching. When she noticed, she screamed her head off—not because she was scared that the snakes would kill her baby, but because her child held a dead snake in each hand, their necks ripped clean off their body and blood flowing from their wounds.
They dissolved into gold dust.
- Ω -
A year later, when he was one year and one month old, Percy learned how to swim—although his stubby little legs dog paddling in the water is probably not swimming and the floatation devices on his shoulders were probably doing most of the work.
He liked the ocean. He liked the ocean a lot. So his mother took him there often, and he'd sit in the tide and watch in fascination as the water rushed through his legs—but he never got wet. The water seemed to bend to his will, slithering all over his body and keeping him cool on a hot day. It seemed to pull at him, to beg him to swim out into the sea as if he belonged there, as if he were the sea's master.
One day, he talked to a fish. His mother found him and immediately took him to a mental clinic to get her son checked. Obviously he was okay, but Percy swore that the fish spoke to him.
- Ω -
When Percy turned two, he killed his first hellhound.
At his second birthday party, someone brought him a little puppy in a box. Or at least the kid claimed it was—Percy completely missed the fact that the kid had only one eye.
When Percy brought the "puppy" back to his New York apartment, he honestly couldn't wait. After all, getting a puppy for a birthday gift was awesome for a person of his age. So, barely skipping a beat, he bounded up the stairs as fast as his little stubby legs could possibly carry him. In his room, he quickly opened the present.
It wasn't a puppy.
Whatever that thing was—with its black fur, blood-red eyes, and impossibly sharp teeth—it was not a puppy. It was like something straight out of hell; well, it technically was, but Percy didn't know that. The two gazed at each other for a few quick seconds before the thing pounced.
Time seemed to slow for Percy. He could see the hellhound's spit fly out of its mouth, the cold murder in its red eyes. Instinctively, Percy sidestepped and grabbed the thing's head, smashing its neck against the night desk in one, slick motion. With a slight gurgling sound, the hellhound tried to free itself from the demigod's grasp, but Percy snapped its neck without even thinking. In morbid fascination, the kid watched the hellish puppy dissolve into golden dust.
His mother came up to see what all the commotion was, and the moment the woman laid eyes upon the golden dust, she turned as pale as a ghost. Not even listening to her son's questions, she immediately left the house…
… and returned with a smelly drunk—Percy's new step-dad.
- Ω -
Percy was apparently a freak.
Or so everyone told him. He was only three, and he never got along with anybody at the day-care he was going to. Every time his mother brought him back to the apartment—which now smelled like beer and body odor—his stepfather would curse at them in drunken rage and his mom would send Percy off into his own room. The earth shook in response to his anger (but he didn't notice that).
One day, his mother snapped. She dropped him off in front of the apartment and left, only to return a few hours later even drunker than his stepfather. When she tucked him in, all she did was curse at him in words he didn't understand—fucking freak, ruined my life—and that probably hurt him more than the beatings or cigar burns that his stepfather, Gabe, would give him.
Day-care wasn't better… he had a hard time learning due to his dyslexia and always got in trouble due to his ADHD. The teachers there were seriously underfunded, because they sucked at what they did. So, during class, Percy would read the first-grade level books while everybody else just started learning the ABCs, because books made him forget about how terrible his life was. They made fun of him for reading while everybody was running around, but he didn't care. He overcame his dyslexic problem.
So Percy threw himself into reading and math, reading books years above him, competing in competitions and earning awards that he hoped would make his parents proud.
It didn't. Gabe just ripped up his awards back at home.
- Ω -
At three-and-a-half, Percy visited his mother's candy shop.
She made good wages, enough to keep their apartment and enough liquor for both Gabe and her to drink. Although Gabe was drunk more often, his mother was the perfect devil when she drank too much. Percy's body had scars hidden underneath his t-shirt that he didn't dare to show anybody, and he always distanced himself from people. Once, he had a time to be innocent, but he lost that opportunity long ago.
The candy shop was nice smelling and warm—everything his house wasn't. He refused to admit that the apartment he had to live in was home; home was where the heart is, and Percy's heart was everywhere but there. Sometimes, he dreamed of running away, but then he'd realize that he's just a three-year-old with an overactive imagination.
There was a little girl sitting by the fireplace, about six years old. Something about her made Percy's cold heart warm up, and he slid onto the log next to her. His mother told him to never talk to strangers (for his own safety? No, more like so nobody would learn of what went on back home), but it felt as though an unseen force was lulling him towards the girl.
She was poking the fireplace with a stick, tending to it as if she'd done it all her life.
"My mother says that children shouldn't play with fire," Percy commented, his voice sounding much more mature than his age. "It could burn them."
She smiled, a sight so perfect that Percy's entire head blushed red. He looked down, black hair falling over his green eyes, and said the first thing that came to his mind. "You're pretty."
The second the words escaped his mouth, Percy wanted to shove them back down and store them in a place that nobody would ever find, because he was so embarrassed right now that it wasn't even funny. He knew that he was impulsive, but Percy had learned that he was downright stupid around girls.
She chuckled and smiled kindly at him. "Your mommy must be a lovely woman."
His heart dropped, and the mirth in Percy's eyes vanished. Almost instantly, the fire fell to a depressing low, and the girl looked visibly disturbed by that. She poked the fire for a little bit before casting a worried glance at Percy's direction.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. Gently, the girl pressed her lips against his forehead. "Never loose hope, my little hero. You'll become great one day."
Without another word, she stood up and started walking out the candy shop. Desperate to know more about the girl, Percy sprinted after her. "Wait! What's your name?"
She only chuckled and walked out the door. A warm feeling spread throughout his body, and he swore that the smell of cookies rang in the air. A slight whisper in the breeze caught his ears, one so gentle that he was afraid that if he moved, it would disappear. I'm where the home is.
Unbeknownst to Percy, the fireplace surged back to full strength.
- Ω -
At the age of four, Percy grew even colder than ice.
At school, he was made fun of for being a "geek" or a "nerd." He looked those terms up on the classroom computer and told his classmates that technically, they were incorrect, but they would just reply with a, "See? Just proved my point."
At a very young age, Percy knew that there were evil in the world. He just didn't know how much there was.
His classmates despised him for being better academically than they were. They called him vicious names—butt-smelling nerd—and the teachers just stood there and watched. None of they tried to help because Percy was pretty sure that they hated him too, for asking too many question during class time.
Percy found out about Greek mythology pretty early on in the school year. He was obsessed by it. Sometimes, Percy would get lost in his own little world, pretending he was a son of Poseidon and sailing to the pretty girl-who-tended-the-fireplace's rescue. And the fact that he shared the same name as a Greek hero thrilled him to no end.
Things back at home weren't getting any better, but at least they weren't getting any worse. The bad thing was, Percy couldn't even go to the beach anymore; his parents were afraid that if other people saw the scars, then they would start asking questions. Gabe got drunk everyday and beat him when he got back to school, but Percy eventually learned how to sneak by the couch upon which his stepfather lived on. His mother, on the other hand, only got drunk once a week, but her fits were the worst. The verbal insults were too much for the little kid to bear.
So he shut himself off to the outside world, reading in his room and not bothering to go outside to the park (not like he had anybody to take him there, anyway). He really wished that he could go to the ocean again, because the ocean always made himself feel better, with the water flowing through him like he were its master. Sometimes, with a glass of water, Percy could move the liquid inside it. It was probably a trick of the eye, but Percy thought that he could see the water jolt out of the cup.
His mother got a raise one day, so she took Percy to the park. For a long time, Percy knew his mother had some sort of problem—one day, she was rather kind, the other, she was verbally abusing him. It was probably the alcohol.
She left him alone with a warning to not talk to strangers before going off, chitchatting with another man too close for Percy's liking. He often saw his mother talking with different men, sometimes patting their chest and batting her eyelashes too often, and that only confused him, since she was married to Gabe. And as disgusting as that was, wives were supposed to be loyal to their husbands, right?
There was a woman approaching him. Percy panicked when he realized that she wasn't his mother, and was about to run away when he heard her voice. At that moment, Percy had never heard a more loving, caring, and soothing voice.
He stood still. Percy couldn't help it—he felt as though he would listen to that voice no matter what. If it told him to go to hell and back, then he'd do it. "Okay. But my mommy told me not to talk to strangers."
She smiled, kaleidoscopic eyes twinkling at him, and at that moment, Percy was stunned. Her eyes raced through every color in the rainbow, and her skin glowed in the sunlight. She was so beautiful, too beautiful to be human. "We can't be strangers if we know each other's names, yeah?"
Percy thought this over, not really willing to trust this stranger. But her voice… it was too alluring, too charming. "Yeah, I guess. My name's Percy."
"Aph," she breezily answered, her bright white teeth blinding the four-year-old. "Why is a young kid like you doing all alone at Central Park?"
"My mom left me alone here so she could talk to another guy," he answered. Percy could've sworn that a shadow crossed over her face, but he shrugged it off when the look disappeared.
Aph nodded. "You're pretty observant, aren't you?"
"I'm not sure," Percy honestly answered. His voice quivered in front of this woman, someone so beautiful that it was almost painful to look at her. "You're seriously pretty." He raced through his head for a better word. "Actually, beautiful. Better than those girl on the magazines or commercials."
"I've never met a kid as young and handsome as yourself who knew words like beautiful or seriously," she complimented, and a lovey smile graced her face. Percy smiled goofily, feeling his heart-beat rise and heat rush to his face. "You're really special. I hope people have told you that." Then, in a tone too low for Percy to hear, "I can see why she has chosen you."
"People have told me that." But the happiness in Percy' eyes were replaced by something foreign to the woman, something that tainted the vibrant green and made them dark and stormy.
The woman frowned at the dark tone that seeped into the kid's voice, something that shouldn't exist in a child. "Percy, are you okay—"
"Of course he is," his mother cut in, the expression on her face absolutely murderous. "Percy, we got to go. Come along now." She forced a tight-lipped smile towards Aph, who looked extremely unnerved.
"Nice meeting you," Percy muttered glumly, sending the woman a look that clearly said, please save me.
If only she could.
Back at the apartment, Percy was not having a good time.
"YOU DID WHAT?" Gabe roared, his hands quaking from either anger or fear. Percy wasn't telling them exactly what he told the damn woman, so Gabe was unsure whether or not she had found out about what actually went on at home. With one swift slap, Percy's face hit the floor roughly, not only bruising his cheek but also cutting his ear upon the sharp wood.
"I told you not to talk to strangers!" his mother seethed. Her glare looked murderous, and Percy felt worse when his mother yelled at him even when she was sober. "Are you too stupid to even acknowledge my words? What about all those worthless awards that you win at school, huh?"
Percy blinked away the burn behind his eyes, trying not to cry in front of his stepfather.
"I'm going to have to teach this boy somethin' about respect," Gabe murmured, taking off the belt around his waist. Without any warning, the belt came forward and struck Percy's leg, causing him to yelp loudly in pain. "Shut up you runt, and take your punishment like a man."
His mother did nothing but watch.
Later that night, scarred and humiliated, Percy went to bed after taking a cold shower. There was still fresh blood leaking from some of the wounds, and each step was a pain to take. When he reached his bed, Percy collapsed upon it, too drained to cry anymore. His head hit something hard and he muttered the worst curse he knew at the time—crap—before lifting up his pillow to check what he had banged his head on.
It was a knife. Shocked, Percy was about to scream when he noticed a small note on the grip of the bronze weapon.
Stay strong. You're special, in a good way.
"How…" Percy whispered, picking up the note and examining it. The window was bolted shut to prevent Percy from running away from night, so how could anybody have gotten in—especially a woman who looked as dainty as Aph?
Hiding the note in a drawer, Percy picked up the weapon. It was probably one foot long, made out of a weird, glowing bronze metal that was ornately decorated by Greek carvings and depictions. Percy recognized the sketches of great heroes, like Heracles and Perseus. He held up the weapon in his hands, examining the black leather grip. It felt a little bit heavy, but Percy knew that if he grew a little bit, the knife would be perfect for him. At the hilt there was an Omega symbol, and it glowed green and hummed slightly, casting a soft glow upon his dark room. He hid it back behind his pillow, silently thanking whoever Aph was in his head.
Now he wasn't scared anymore. Percy could protect himself.
- Ω -
When Percy turned five, he was so done with everything.
Starting a new year in Kindergarten at a completely different school brought completely different people—not for the better. If anything, the people at Goode's Preschool for New York's Children were a thousand times worse. There was a terrible, snobby girl by the name of Nancy Bobo-something who teased him relentlessly, an arrogant, uptight know-it-all who didn't even think Percy was worthy enough to know her name, and a hulk of a child called Matt Sloan, who took the time to physically embarrass Percy as much as possible.
Percy never gave up hope, though. His two encounters with the only nice people he ever met in his life, the six-year-old girl and the beautiful, mysterious Aph, proved to be his source of energy to get up in the morning. I'm not a freak, Percy told himself, I'm special. In a good way.
His world took a turn for the worse when he went on a field trip to pick up trash from the beach.
Percy packed his swim-trunks discreetly in his backpack, running off onto the bus to school before his mother could stop him. Not like she'd say goodbye to him, anyway. The grade was going to Montauk beach, somewhere Percy hadn't went in years since his mother was afraid of people seeing his scars and start asking questions.
When they were done cleaning up a portion of the beach, it was time for the entire grade to have a fun beach day. All the boys started taking off their shirts and sprinted into the water, splashing each other and making sure not to wade to far out into the ocean. Too shy to take off his shirt, Percy just sat on the beach, burying his feet with sand.
Suddenly, someone kicked sand into his eyes. Yelping, Percy brushed the annoying particles out of his eyes, glaring up at the perpetrator—Matt Sloan.
"Hey there, freak," Matt sneered, his double chin slightly bouncing back and forth as he shook his head. "Too wimpy to enter the ocean?"
Percy silently marveled at how big Matt was, easily rivaling a second-grader's size. "No," he murmured quietly, not wanting to get into a fight. "I just don't feel like it."
Matt snickered, the group starting to form around them laughing along as well. "Well then, looks like I'm going to have to help you out with that." Without another word, Matt easily picked Percy up. No matter how hard Percy pounded against Matt's shoulder, the bigger boy wouldn't stop. Barely breaking a sweat, Matt threw Percy into the ocean for the first time in years.
The cool water swirled around him, gently lapping against his body. It filled him with energy, adrenaline coursing through his veins like blood. His fists clenched as Matt Sloan slowly stalked towards him, jeering some insult that didn't reach Percy's ears. It was at that moment when Percy decided that he had had enough.
A large, spout of ocean water suddenly swept Matt of his feet. Percy had no idea where it came from, but he didn't dwell upon the fact as he quickly ran up to Matt and hit him hard in the face. There was a sickening crunch as blood rushed out of the kid's nose, tainting the ocean water he was resting on, blending in the blue and red. The ocean became restless; white-tops appearing as the water grew more and more turbulent, rising so that it was now at Percy's knees.
Matt got up, the surprise still evident on his ugly face. Since Percy was widely considered a geek, nobody expected him to be rather strong. He tried to grab Percy, but the young boy wiggled out of his grasp. However, Matt's hand got a hold of Percy's shirt and it ripped, exposing his scars to the entire world. The crowd of children gasped, fascinated by the array of long white scars tracing Percy's body. Even Matt faltered, his eyes softening. The big boy's grip on his shirt relaxed, and Percy quickly put it back on, blinking back hot tears of embarrassment.
"What's going on here?" the teacher demanded, storming into the receding ocean. Eying Matt's broken nose, she turned on Percy threateningly. "Did you—"
Her voice faltered. She caught a quick glance at the scars between the rips in Percy's shirt, and the teacher looked as though all the blood was drained from her face. "Dear God…" Her voice trailed off into the distance, and Percy was surprised to find sympathy and tears in her eyes.
He didn't need their pity.
The children boarded the bus soon after that. For once, nobody teased him; it was unnaturally silent. Percy decided that he liked the silence. He even caught an apologetic look from Matt, although it soon vanished from the boy's face.
When the bus dropped him off at the apartment, Percy quickly changed into his normal school pants so Gabe and his mother wouldn't know that he went to the beach. Taking a rather deep breath, Percy knocked on the door when his mother opened it. Luckily, the smell of alcohol wasn't on her breath, so he knew that his mother was going to be rather pleasant today. He snuck by Gabe, who was snoring loudly on the couch with empty beer bottles on his chest, and made it to his room without any trouble. Silently, Percy put his beach shorts in its usual place. He was surprised to find them completely dry, but he didn't curse a good thing.
Percy went over to his pillow, moving it slightly so he could check that his knife was still there. Gabe and his mother rarely went into his room, only to clean the blankets once a month, so his secret weapon was still under his pillow, completely unnoticed.
There was the sound of a phone ringing, causing Percy to wince. Somebody picked it up and talked for a few moments, Percy's heartbeat rising by the second. He had a slight suspicion of what the call was about, and if his suspicion was correct, then he was done for. His ears heard the phone get slammed onto something and hurried, quiet talking. Then there was a slight clatter of metal and heavy footsteps heading towards his door.
Fear grabbed his heart in its vice-like grip, cold sweat falling down his chin. As quickly as he could, Percy darted to get under his bed, but it was too late. The door burst open and something roughly grabbed his ankle, pulling him back into the open. Gabe stood above him, slightly swaggering under the influence of alcohol, and to Percy's utter terror, his stepfather held a sharp kitchen knife in his right hand.
"I swear—I'm going to fucking murder this freak!" Gabe snarled, raising his knife back to strike Percy.
"Stop it, Gabe!" Percy's mother cried, surprising both her son and her husband. "We can't just kill him… we'll go to jail."
Gabe slapped her. In all his years of being abused in this household, this was the first time that Percy had seen, with his own eyes, his mother get hit. At that moment, Percy realized that he was not the only person this monster abused.
"Don't hit my mother!" Percy cried, forgetting the harsh words that his mother said to him when she was drunk. Protectiveness swelled up within him, white-hot anger licking at his heart.
"What are you going to do about it, runt?" Gabe taunted, laughing drunkenly. "She's my wife. I'll treat her however I want, and who the fuck do you think you are to stop me?"
Gabe stabbed downwards, and Percy ran out of the way. The knife struck the floor with a clang, and Gabe cursed. "Come over here and take your punishment like a man!" He hiccupped.
"Gabe, stop, please," Percy's mother pleaded. There was desperation in her eyes, and at that moment, Percy thought that, maybe, after all these years, his mother might still love him.
Gabe struck her with his free hand and started advancing upon Percy slowly. "Shut up, bitch. I'm the man of the house, I decide what goes on."
Time slowed down. Percy could see the muscles on Gabe's arm tense, as if readying for a strike. He saw the knife come at him in slow motion, the glint of murder flashing in Gabe's dark eyes. The knife was coming straight at him, but Percy was frozen to the spot with fear. All he could do was watch as the blade came closer and closer to taking his life—
There was a sickening sound of metal piercing flesh. Percy screamed.
His mother had dove in front of the knife. The knife was completely buried into her chest, save for the handle. With a gruesome shink the blade was pulled out of the body, spraying blood all over the room, coating Percy in his own mother's blood. He watched as the life went out of his mother's, his own mother, eyes, glassing over and her head rolling over to the side.
Gabe snickered, obviously sadistically gleeful. "It was 'bout time that the bitch was dead." He laughed drunkenly. Mortification and horror laced through Percy's veins, digging a deep root into his soul.
Percy didn't know what happened, but something within him snapped, something that changed him forever. All the kid could see was red—the same color as the blood splattered all over him. He could feel the blood dripping out of his mother's open wound; he could feel the blood staining through his white shirt; he could feel the blood pumping through Gabe's veins… he could control the blood.
With a painful distortion of his gut, Gabe's knife arm snapped clean down the middle, eliciting a loud scream from the soulless monster. It bent backwards, at an unnatural angle only seen in exorcism movies. Percy somehow forced Gabe onto his knees, snapping them in the process, only making his stepfather scream even louder. With a fiery vengeance, Percy willed the blood within his vessels to expand, causing purple bruises to appear everywhere all over Gabe's body as his arteries basically imploded.
By now, Gabe was done screaming. Percy reached under his pillow and pulled out the Omega knife, running his finger along the sharp blade. He managed to not cut himself, twirling the blade instinctively in his hands. Something within him motivated the child to finish the deed, something much more powerful than he was. Without hesitation, Percy plunged the blade straight through Gabe's eye, causing the older man to scream shamelessly. Withdrawing the blade, Percy sliced across his neck, slitting Gabe's throat and splattering thick gore everywhere.
His former stepfather's body fell to the ground with a thud. The adrenaline coursing through his veins died, fatigue slowly taking its toll on Percy's young body. His vision suddenly blurred and he was bent over, panting for breath. Slowly, after a few minutes, Percy regained his composure. He examined the scene in his room—two dead adults and one forever mentally scarred child. The sight of their blood was forever branded onto the child's brain, searing a painful memory deep into his soul.
Percy crouched near his mother, the woman that he had always loved no matter what she did. Without a word, Percy closed her eyes with his fingers before standing up, blinking his eyes to prevent tears that weren't there. He felt as though he should cry, as if he had an obligation to weep for his dead mother, but Percy was far too drained to cry at the moment.
Wordlessly, Percy packed some clothes into a backpack. He knew he couldn't stay here—the kid was smart enough to know that the neighbors would wonder what the screaming was all about. Percy searched through the house and found every last penny, giving Percy a head start of some one hundred dollars. Luckily, his mother had recently visited the ATM and made a withdrawal; otherwise, Percy would've been broke.
He passed by his room once more, slowly taking in the sight of the two bodies. Silent, Percy moved his mother onto his old bed and covered her face with the comforter, hiding her now peaceful face from view. Gabe still stared at the ceiling with cold, soulless eyes, black bruises everywhere on his body. Even in death, his stepfather seemed as though he had never found peace.
Good, Percy thought bitterly.
He took one last look around at the apartment, relishing in the fact that he would never have to return here again. With an air of finality, Percy opened the door, about to step outside and leave this chapter of his life behind.
Percy turned around and walked back to his room. Uncovering his mother's face, Percy withdrew a quarter from his pocket and placed it in her mouth. It was a silly Greek tradition, but he felt compelled to do it. He gave his mother one last kiss on the forehead—the first time in years—and slipped the blanket back over her corpse.
Without hesitation, the boy walked out of his apartment, shutting the door firmly behind him. He checked to make sure that the Omega knife was still in his backpack; that was the most valuable thing Percy had at the time.
Then, taking a deep breath, a five-year-old child stepped into the real world for the first time.
– Ω –
Five months passed.
Percy had grown to think quickly on his feet. He was rather clumsy, so it was hard for him to shoplift and pickpocket, but so far he hadn't gotten caught so it worked.
A year ago, Percy would've been appalled with the concept of stealing money from someone, someone who probably worked very hard to earn the fifty bucks in their wallet. But now, it was the only way he could survive. Luckily, nobody paid much attention to him.
Percy had to keep moving. He already had close calls with the police force of three cities, but Percy knew that the cops weren't really trying their hardest to capture a five-year-old who stole an apple. Thanks to a long bus ride, Percy found himself in traveling north to Providence, then Boston, then after that he went back south to Philadelphia. But in the end, after five months of thievery and running, the boy found himself back in New York.
He was always drawn to the city, as if something deep inside him told him that, somewhere in the city, was where his destiny was.
Walking past an apparently deserted food stand, Percy stole a quick glance around. The bustling city of New York had no time to heed a young boy like Percy, so he moved in quick. Nimbly and deftly, he picked out some fresh fruit and some bread, enough to probably last him a week. He threw them in his backpack, which was now completely full.
He was about to take off when he felt a large hand grasp his shoulder. Alarmed, Percy turned around to find another homeless man. Obviously unnerved, he was about to offer the man some food when Percy stared up into the person's face—he only had one eye, smack in the middle of his forehead.
A horrifying memory raced through his mind—the time a one-eyed kid gave him a puppy from hell. Without thinking, Percy immediately started running, using his small size to weave in and out between the legs of important businessmen and women going places. At the same time, Percy instantly retrieved the Omega knife from its spot in his backpack, gripping the blade in his hand as he sprinted full speed to his safe house, a one-way alley that nobody ever looked at twice.
He made the familiar turn into the alley and felt his blood go cold. There were people there—well, not really people. There were two women, who Percy would probably say was pretty if it weren't for their blood red eyes and sharp, vampiric teeth. Their legs were weird and misshapen, as if they were molded from metal. A snarl behind him caused the kid to whip around, coming face to face with another dog from hell, except this time it was as big as a wolf. The one-eyed hobo cyclops monster thing turned the corner, licking its lips hungrily as he stared at Percy with a possessive gaze.
The child was cornered. Something crept up within him, something Percy had not felt in a long time: fear.
"Demigod flesh!" the women cheered, and if Percy didn't know better, he would say that they were cheerleaders. Wait, what did they just say?
Percy dropped his blade for a second from its raised position. "Did you say demigod flesh?"
Before he was ready, the hell-dog pounced. Instinctively, Percy sidestepped and, just like he did when he was two-years-old, grabbed the dog and slammed its head into the dumpster. When the hellhound was disorientated, Percy stabbed the Omega blade down into the thing's neck, instantly making it dissolve into weird golden dust.
He glanced at his remaining attackers, who looked clearly surprised, even wary. But apparently their desire for "demigod flesh" was too great, for they advanced anyways. Sharp claws extended from the women's nails, glinting coldly in the dying sunlight. The one-eyed cyclops looked as though just his hand could crack Percy's skull.
Percy decided to try and escape. Using his feet to kick the nasty grime of the alleyway floor, he temporarily blinded the cyclops. He dove between the cyclop's legs, using his knife to stab the creature's Achilles tendon. With a mighty roar that hurt Percy's ears, the monster reached in between his legs and threw Percy towards the women.
They were obviously not expecting it, since Percy crashed into them and all three of them went sprawling. Percy hit his head against the alley floor, feeling his vision go blurry. He barely saw a movement to his right and before he knew what happened, one of the devilish women was on him, her fangs inches from his neck. On reflex, Percy's left hand landed a clean punch on the woman's head. She screeched and raked her claws across Percy's chest, making him cry in pain. He spotted his knife on the ground near his right hand and he grabbed it, wasting no time in stabbing the blade straight through the back of the monster's head. When he ripped it out, weird green slime splattered the ground and she dissolved, covering Percy in sticky golden dust.
He stood up shakily, the large wound on his chest bleeding profusely. Percy saw the cyclops advance on him, cracking its knuckles and staring at Percy's blood longingly. Percy kicked the ground, sending a spray of grime towards the monster, making it roar in annoyance. It was probably really stupid, since it fell for the same trick twice.
Where's the other woman? Percy wondered to himself, about to turn around when he felt something sink its teeth into his shoulder. White-hot pain screamed through his body, making him cry out in agony, ripping away from the monster. He kicked the vampire towards the cyclops, which was still trying to rub the grime out of its only eye. Percy was appalled to find the monster have a small piece of bloodied flesh, his own flesh, in her mouth, eating it, as if it were the most delicious thing in the world. Without hesitating, Percy threw his dagger at her, impaling the monster right in the head. It was an extremely lucky throw, but Percy barely dwelled on that as the monster crumpled, dissolving into golden dust.
The cyclops still eyed him hungrily, licking its lips, and now Percy was completely unarmed, trapped against the back alley wall. Throwing the knife probably wasn't the world's best idea.
His left shoulder felt as though it was burning, though. He couldn't even move his left arm—Percy just let it hang there, completely useless. The vampire woman had completely ripped off a chunk of meat, and Percy was almost a hundred percent sure that the wound would get infected. Surprisingly, it was more of a numbing sensation than anything else, but Percy could tell that he was loosing a lot of blood. He struggled to keep his eyes open, blackness threatening to overcome him as he raised his fists in a final attempt at defense.
Percy knew it was of no use. He was going to die in this back alley. The cyclops was just about to strike when Percy blacked out.
- Ω -
No, Percy obviously didn't die.
He was, however, so close to death that Thanatos was about to reap his soul before something divine interfered. Was it fate? Was it a meddling Olympian god? Probably both. Percy Jackson was too important to die in some random back alley in New York. He was going to be the person who led Olympus to victory, but at that time, Percy didn't know that.
Percy's eyes fluttered open, subconsciously wiping the alleyway grime from his cheeks. The first thing he noticed was how the pain in his shoulder seemed to multiply by ten. The next thing he noticed was the disgusting, sticky golden dust coating nearly everything in the alley, and the glowing knife resting right before him. The last, and possibly most important thing was the weird owl holding some piece of paper in its claws.
He stood up, picking up the Omega knife as a precaution, staring blankly at the piece of paper. His left shoulder was completely unmovable—any small movement felt like someone stabbing him over and over in the same spot. Slowly, using his right hand, he pulled the paper from the owl's grasp. The animal flew over and landed on the dumpster, watching Percy with unblinking, curious eyes, as if it was evaluating him.
With a little bit of difficulty, Percy managed to unroll the paper without damaging it. In neat, uniformed handwriting, Percy read: Make it to Central Park alive. There will be a small fire there, along with the answers to all your questions. If I were you, I'd start moving before the Minotaur finds you.
Confused, Percy read over the last sentence. Minotaur? What type of thing was that? Well, in Greek mythology, it was a weird half-man-half-bull that ate humans for a living. But that couldn't possibly exist in real life, could it? With all the weird stuff going on, Percy decided to start running towards Central Park. He decided to throw blind trust into this random letter. After all, what else could he do?
Moving his left arm as little as possible, Percy followed the signs to Central Park. Having lived in the area before, Percy had a rough guess of the direction in which the park was, but he didn't know the exact location. The sun was setting, casting the city into a reddish glow. The street was stuffed with cars returning home after work, honking and beeping at the traffic lights. It was classic New York—nothing was ever silent. But one sound did rise above everything else.
There was a mighty roar, stopping Percy dead in his tracks. The five-year-old quaked with fear, cold sweat drenching his filthy shirt. The sound of car alarms reached his ears, slowly edging closer and closer to his location. Without hesitation, Percy started sprinting, ignoring the burn in his shoulder as he ran through alleyways, dangerously jay-walking through incoming traffic.
He saw the signs, indicating that he was close. But whatever was following him was closer.
Weaving in and out between the crowds, Percy ran faster than he ever had. He saw the gates to the park, gleaming slightly in the dying sunlight. Taking a few deep breaths, Percy started running through the park, ignoring the park's security and looking for the glow of a fire.
There wasn't any. Had he been fooled? How could there be a fire in Central Park? How stupid was Percy to just run into Central Park with no precaution? Percy mentally slapped himself for acting like an idiot.
Something distracted him from those depressing thoughts, something in the form of a flying tree.
With a rather girly shriek, Percy flattened himself to the ground, feeling the rush of air as the tree flew over him. He quickly got back up, raising the Omega knife in a defensive position, bracing himself for whatever came through the trees. Sadly, nothing could prepare the little kid for what came barreling through the underbrush.
A strange creature emerged from the shadows, its eyes glinting an evil red. By now, the sun was almost set, throwing the whole area in a gloomy twilight. The monster had the head of a bull—an ugly one at that—and the body and legs of a man. It towered over Percy, easily three times his height. Two horns emerged from its head, sharp enough to cut a hole in a mountain.
It was the Minotaur. There was a freaking Minotaur from Greek mythology staring him down.
With an ear-shattering roar, the monster charged. Percy dove to the side, narrowly dodging the monster's flailing arms, crying out in pain when his messed up shoulder hit the ground. He got back up slowly, panting heavily, eying the monster warily. Apparently, it was too stupid to move side to side when it charged. It seemed like a stupid creature overall.
But it was fast, Percy had to grant it that. The monster charged him again without second thought, blinded by some animalistic urge to eat human flesh. There was brute strength behind its charge; it could probably snap his spine in half with ease. However, Percy had something that the creature did not: a brain. Not as surprised this time, Percy sidestepped, narrowly avoiding the monster. Instead, the Minotaur got a mouthful of tree bark.
It cried in surprise, temporarily dazed. Percy took advantage and swung the Omega knife into the monster's knee, making it lash out in pain. One of its flailing arms caught Percy in the chest, and the kid was thrown back ten feet, roughly landing on his butt and banging his head against something hard. Groaning, Percy got up slowly, massaging his most likely bruised chest. He coughed, and to his chagrin, blood splattered all over his clothes. His own blood, splattered all over his clothes.
The thought resounded in his mind, but soon it was forcefully pushed away. Percy had seen more blood splattered on his clothes before.
Lightning flashed overhead, illuminating the scene in an eerie blue. Thunder immediately followed, along with the pitter-patter of rain. It started out as a light drizzle, but quickly turned into a torrential downpour. The rain did something strange to Percy—it soothed him, pumping energy into his heart. The water made him feel stronger, more powerful (well, as powerful as a five-year-old can get).
The Minotaur stared at Percy with hate in its red eyes, limping slightly. There was a knife protruding from its knee, stained with monster blood. It roared once, charging Percy yet another time, but this time its speed was significantly reduced because of the knife sticking out of its limb. Too bad it was too stupid enough to think about pulling it out.
Time seemed to slow down for Percy. He could see the muscles tensing on the monster's body, rippling with a grotesque efficiency. Droplets of water splashed against the ground, glimmering on the blades of grass and concrete walkway. The hatred in the Minotaur's eyes swirled, glinting with madness and arms swinging wildly.
When the monster was within striking distance, Percy ducked underneath the beast's arm and pulled out the knife from its leg, making the monster grunt in pain. He jumped as high as possible—which, of course, wasn't really that high—and stabbed with as much force as he could into the monster's small of the back. Even then, Percy didn't get the blade very far in; only about six inches of steel penetrated the flesh.
Percy fell to the ground with an oomph, watching with fascination as the monster turned around with a knife jutting out between its shoulder blades. It screamed with bloody murder and charged again for the fourth time, forcing Percy to lay out on the concrete, the hard surface badly scraping up his elbows and knees. He heard the monster smash into a tree, tearing it out of its roots. It fell backwards, landing on his back.
The Minotaur roared in pain, convulsing wildly before finally laying still. Percy hesitated, wondering whether or not to approach the creature. He saw the tip of his blade barely peaking out of the Minotaur's chest, and Percy almost laughed at his luck. The monster impaled itself.
"Thank god," Percy muttered to himself. The rain lessened to a drizzle, and Percy could feel the adrenaline dissipate, leaving the five-year-old enervated of energy.
Percy stalked over towards the dying monster, contemplating how to finish the beast off. His shoulder felt a little bit better, but the ebbing adrenaline also brought back the soreness and pain. He could feel the blood dripping from his chin, each step hurting his chest even more. Grunting slightly, Percy experimentally pulled upon the Minotaur's horn. It ripped off easily, surprising the young child. The monster's eyes widened in pain and it let loose a low growl, but that didn't scare Percy. The monster was heavily wounded, yet even then it attempted to weakly swipe at Percy, its arm sluggishly attempting to grab the five-year-old.
Percy marveled at the monster's will to survive, even when it was at its deathbed. The Minotaur took deep, gasping breaths as if it was struggling to breathe—well, it would be hard for anyone to breathe with a knife in its lung—and for a quick second, Percy felt a little bit of guilt for causing this creature all this pain. The feeling disappeared as soon as it came, and he stabbed the monster in the middle of its forehead with its own horn, not even a trace of remorse rearing its cowardly head.
It had tried to kill him, after all. Percy just returned the favor.
It gave one last mighty roar, splattering Percy with disgusting saliva and blood. It slowly disintegrated into the strange golden dust, washed away into a drainage pipe by the drizzling rain. For some strange reason, the horn in Percy's hand didn't disintegrate along with the Minotaur; it stayed behind as if it were some spoil of war.
The horn was huge, probably as long as Percy's Omega knife. It was incredibly sharp at one point and as black as night, splattered and coated with Minotaur blood. It was heavy as well, too heavy to use as an actual weapon. Shrugging, Percy decided to keep the horn and slipped it into his backpack, which surprisingly survived the fight. He picked up the Omega knife and didn't even bother to put it away—at the rate things were going, Percy wasn't going to have a single peaceful night.
The smell of smoke reached his nostrils, and Percy deadpanned. This was the whole reason he came to Central Park in the first place. Hurriedly, Percy glanced around at the surrounding area, hoping to catch some glimpse of the warm, orange glow of fire. The child literally deflated when his eyes found nothing—wait what was that?
Percy broke into a sprint but winced when his chest flared in pain. Walking can't be too bad, he decided. While walking towards the promising glow of light, Percy inspected his wounds—three long cuts across his chest, most likely broken ribs, twisted ankle, internal bleeding somewhere, and seriously messed up shoulder. He glanced at his left shoulder, slightly gasping when he saw the angry red skin staring back at him. The wound had surprisingly healed itself, but there was a large bite mark left behind, an eternal reminder of the night's events.
It was still burning with pain, and Percy fought back the tears in his eyes. The night's events came crashing down on him, weariness and fatigue burrowing into his body. Never before had he felt so terrible—he was bruised and battered all over, filthy from living on the streets and covered with blood. Hell, he murdered a man. Percy fell to his knees, ignoring the sharp pain from scraping his knees against the hard pavement. He released a scream, sobbing into his hands. What had he done to deserve such a cruel fate?
Percy was dimly aware of the increasing monsoon, rain battering the ground with heavy droplets. Never once did Percy get wet—he could feel the water flow through his body and it never stayed—but this time, he was soaked to the bone. He wiped the grime off his face with the rainwater, blending the rain with his tears. Crying shamelessly, Percy fell to the ground, soaked to the bone, cold, and tired. Blood spat out of his mouth, staining the concrete he was lying on as he wept pitifully. Never before had he felt so alone.
He had nothing. He had no family, no home, nothing at all.
His knife was still gripped tightly in his hands. It glowed green, humming with some sort of ancient power waiting to be unleashed. Its tip was sharper than anything that Percy had ever seen before. Maybe this was his way out, the way out of all this misery and pain, from all this hardship and grief. Why was he fighting so hard to avoid death? Death seemed welcoming, as if it was calling out to him. All of his pain would be gone, the memories that haunt him at night would plague him no more.
Suicide seemed a plausible option.
Percy got up; shaking from the pain and effort it took just to stand up, his green eyes watching the warm, orange glow behind some bushes. If he was going to die, he might as well die warm and dry. Percy stumbled towards the fire, bursting through some bushes and stumbling towards the campfire. It was surprising to find a live fire in a park and in a rainstorm, but Percy couldn't find the will give a damn. His legs gave out as he tumbled over, falling face first onto the mud. He cried softly in pain, rolling over so his face was facing the sky. The rain was beginning to lessen and the clouds were parting, allowing him a glimpse of something one could rarely see in New York: stars.
They glittered at him, twinkling merrily. The moon cast a soft glow upon the surrounding, the fire warming up his body and drying him off. Percy sighed, raising the Omega knife with the last ounce of strength left in his body.
"The stars are beautiful tonight," Percy mumbled, blinking back the tears pooling in his eyes. "Too bad nobody is with me to share this sight."
He plunged the blade towards his heart.
– Ω –
Percy awoke next to a warm campfire.
It was still dark, but the fire illuminated the area, holding the shadows at bay. Percy tried sitting up, but the muscles on his stomach wouldn't obey him. He failed miserably, instead clutching his chest in pain before wincing the second his right hand touched his shirt. Bracing himself for the worst, Percy examined his right hand and was shocked to find a long, jagged cut running down the middle of his forearm all the way to the tip of his middle finger. It bled profusely around the wrist, and Percy knew that it was going to leave a terrifying scar that he would have to explain to other people about.
Then he remembered that he had tried to commit suicide. Percy tilted his head to the side, coughing up blood that splattered the firewood in thick torrents of gore. He cursed himself for being so weak, for even thinking about taking his own life, for trying to take the coward's way out. The loss of blood left the child feeling weak beyond comparison—he could barely even raise his arms.
"So you have awoken."
Percy turned his head towards the sound, away from the warm fire, and let a small gasp escape his lips. There was a woman sitting on a log, her feet barely inches from Percy's body. Black hair fell in waves, curled like a princess's. Her face was beautiful yet cold and pale, as if it was sculpted from the finest marble known to mankind. A simple, brown cloak hung from her shoulders, loosely spilling out onto the grass, the fire illuminating her unreadable eyes.
The child could barely form words. "Yeah, I guess…" Percy coughed, feeling the raw sensation in his throat constrict painfully. His hands searched for his knife, but the woman seemed to notice this.
She smiled, but it seemed more of a cold, forced smile than anything. "Looking for this?" She held up the Omega knife, twirling it between her fingers like a professional assassin.
"What, how…" Percy swallowed thickly, "Who are you?"
"Your savior," she replied coolly, tilting her head as if she was analyzing him. Her gray eyes bored into his own eyes, and Percy felt an uncanny feeling he wasn't comfortable was, as if this woman was searching through his soul. "When I found you, you were about to commit suicide. I saved you from your own hand."
Percy flushed in embarrassment and shame. He barley knew this person, yet she had already witnessed him at his weakest moment. "That doesn't explain who you are. Like, your name."
"My name," she paused, her fingers scratching her chin, "is Pallas Athena. I am the Olympian goddess of wisdom."
Percy stared back at her, dumbfounded, not even able to come up with words. An odd, sputtering sound escaped the back of his throat as he coughed up more blood, staining the grimy shirt he was wearing. The goddess sighed, rolling her eyes before analyzing him as if he were some lab report. "The world you live in," she started, talking as if this was some historical lecture, "is not what you think. The pantheon of Greek gods exists here, in America. You are the son of an Olympian, a half-blood or demigod."
The demigod blinked slowly. His head was still trying to wrap around the fact that apparently there was some ancient deity sitting in front of him. As smart as he was in school, Percy was completely oblivious on the matter of "street smarts." He opened his mouth to speak, by Athena hushed him with a pointed glare.
"For example, the eagle, the symbol of America, is Lord Zeus's sacred animal. We follow the flame of Western Civilization, starting in ancient Greece and eventually relocating to America." She paused; making sure Percy was following along. "Unfortunately, we weren't the only things that came to the Americas."
"The monsters?" Percy asked, finally beginning to understand a little bit. "The one-eyed man, the weird cheerleaders, the dogs… they're all monsters?"
The goddess nodded. "A cyclops, some dracnae, and a hellhound. You were lucky to survive."
"But…" Percy hesitated, unnerved by the goddess's cold stare. He steeled his nerves and continued. "How did they find me?"
"Demigods have a certain… scent," she answered. "Yours happens to be much stronger than other demigods."
Athena stared down the young demigod, causing the child to swallow some saliva. His throat still felt like a portion of the Sahara. "Because you are the son of a very, ah, powerful god." The words sounded forced, and saying the word "powerful" might as well been swallowing venom. The goddess's face turned sour at the mere concept of Percy's father.
"If he's so powerful," Percy started, "then why doesn't he visit?" A little bit of anger flashed through his body, gnawing suspicion clawing at his head. "I mean, if my father is an all powerful Olympian god, then why can't he—"
"Gods have laws to abide by," Athena snapped, and Percy recoiled from her harsh tone. Power radiated from her body, making her skin glow in the dark. The fire subsided slightly, dimming due to the goddess's energy. "Do not resent your father, child. It will bring nothing but pain."
"He left me with an alcoholic for a mother and an abusive drunk for a father," Percy spat. Athena's words brought nothing but more contempt for the father who abandoned him. The goddess, however, looked surprised at his sudden outburst. "I'm sorry," Percy apologized, thinking that it was probably stupid to yell at an Olympian goddess. "I shouldn't have raised my voice."
A small smile broke out on Athena's face, and for once, it was genuine. "I see that I have chosen correctly."
"How so?" Percy asked, decided to sit up despite the angry protest in his aching body. But his thirst for answers overpowered him, and he sat crisscrossed with his back towards the fire and his face towards the goddess.
"How do you think you've survived so far?" Mirth danced in her gray eyes, the first emotion he had seen in them since they had started talking. "It is because I have blessed you with knowledge, young demigod. I have chosen you to be my Champion."
This time, when Percy's jaw hit the ground, it wasn't in a figurative sense. He closed his mouth, blushing in embarrassment. "But why me?" he asked, confused. "There's nothing special about me."
"You are very special." Percy froze—he had heard that phrase before. The happiness in her eyes disappeared, and once again Athena was unreadable, like marble. "You've heard that before, haven't you?" Her eyes searched his face, daring him to betray any recognition.
Percy decided to come clean, since it probably was no good hiding secrets from an all-powerful being that could probably kill him with a snap of her finger. "Yeah, this woman in Central Park said the same thing. Her name was Aph, and she gave me a knife."
Athena's stoic expression quickly soured, and darkness literally covered her face. "Aphrodite…" Her voice trailed off threateningly. "Did she mark you in any way?"
Percy's eyebrows furrowed at this odd question, and he probed the deepest recesses of his mind. "No, not that I remember…"
"Good." Her steely eyes bored into his, unblinking, like that of an owl's. Silence rang in the air, allowing Percy to hear the gentle crackling of the fire, the rustle gentle of Athena's robe, and the lull of the breeze through the trees. She turned and stared at Percy's Omega knife, turning it expertly in her hands, examining the weapon. Her eyes blinked once in recognition, staring at the blade in sharp shock and surprise.
"This blade," she asked, eyes wide and alarmed, "where did you get it?"
"Aph," Percy answered timidly, slightly offset by the amount of anger swirling through the goddess's eyes. Her flawless cheeks blushed a magnificent color, tinting the skin slightly gold. "She put it under my bed."
"Aphrodite, of all people, should know when to keep their hands off of other people's properties…" The goddess's voice trailed off menacingly, letting silence once again envelope the two. Percy took the time to slightly stretch his aching muscles, which was getting better in the presence of the Olympian.
He was still awed by the fact that there was an actual Greek god sitting in front of him, speaking to him, seeming to encompass all the emotions a human might have. Athena's eyes were cold and piercing, yet they were beautiful in some way, shining in the dying campfire like a flickering candle caught in a breeze. A sudden urge swelled up within Percy, making the demigod all warm and giddy on the inside. Inwardly, Percy realized that he wanted to impress this goddess, that he wanted to show her that he was, as she said, special, and to be able to live up to all of her expectations of him and go even further.
It was the foolish musings of a five-year-old. Years from now, when Percy would hold a sword to his patron's throat and curse the gods, the feeling would dissipate, but for now, beautiful hope embellished itself within the child's mind, hope for a better future with the mighty Greek gods of Olympus.
Athena poked the fire with something long and metallic. It gleamed in the fire, its tip turning red-hot from the flames. There was a symbol etched into the poker, something that Percy couldn't recognize. He was about to question it when the goddess spoke. "Take off your shirt."
His eyebrows rose slightly at the weird command, but he obeyed nonetheless. His arms throbbed painfully and the cut on his hand bled profusely as he lifted the shirt above his head, silently gazing in wonder at the myriad of scars and fresh cuts already gathered on his skinny, malnourished chest.
"Why do you want me to—"
Without a single hint of remorse in Athena's eyes, she thrust the red-hot tip of the poker onto Percy's chest. He screamed in pain and his hands gripped the poker in an attempt to throw it off, but the goddess's grip was too strong. She pressed it against his chest, searing a painful marking onto the demigod's torso. His skin sizzled like eggs on a pan, barely heard under his loud screams and whimpers. After a few more agonizing moments, the goddess released the poker and set it aside.
Percy stared down at his burnt chest, shivering in the cool air that whispered through the clearing. The entire region on his body was numb with pain. His mark, a black design of burnt flesh, contrasted heavily against his pale and raw skin. The beginnings of sunrise appeared over the horizon, throwing the sky into a beautiful maroon as birds started their morning songs, taking away the silence as life and music replaced it.
"What," his throat was dry, so he swallowed, "what was that?"
Her cold, gray eyes betrayed no emotion. "You are branded with the mark of the owl. It will provide you wisdom everywhere you travel, located closest to your heart so that your choices may be pure and true. Now, you are my Champion. You must obey every command I have, or else you shall feel the pain of the burn whenever you disobey me. You are mine now."
The goddess flexed her fingers, and an immediate pain registered on the tattoo. It felt as though flames were swallowing his heart, making the demigod whimper in pain and bite his lip. He had been branded, like some animal. He had no free will anymore.
"I will train you," she murmured, her eyes gently closing. "I will make you great." Her eyes flashed open, now a pure, brilliant gray that glowed in the light.
"The world will know you as the greatest hero who ever lived!"
And then they were gone, leaving nothing but a dead fire.