*I will edit when I have more time.
Okay, don't kill me for not updating Master of the Elements… I can only write well when the inspiration hits me, and the inspiration took a baseball bat and smashed my face with it for this story.
Read this note underneath.
To clarify: In this story, gods are going to be a lot more powerful than they are in canon. Also, Athena is going to be very harsh and cold, but the reason why she's so much of a jerk to Percy is going to be partially explained later. A lot of you guys don't like the branding part, but I'm going to assure you, this story is all about Percy rising up and breaking the bonds that hold him back, trying to tell the difference between the lies that the gods tell him and the truth that he sees with his own eyes. Once again, this will not be like the canon – sure the prophecies will be the same, but the characters will be different. Yeah?
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/?
"Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence."
Perseus: Legend of Olympus
TRAINING OF A HERO
Athena was a very cold, unyielding goddess – one who never hesitated to sacrifice a whole army of men in order to win the war.
But when she carried the unconscious son of Poseidon into her private residence, the goddess felt a strange twinge of some foreign emotion in her subconscious. Perhaps it was the whimpering coming from the young boy's slack mouth, drool dripping down his chin, or maybe it was the scars that etched deep marks into his skin, telling a gruesome tale of abuse suffered at a very young age.
The large, burnt portion on his pale skin jutted out like blood on snow, drawing all attention to the owlish tattoo on his chest. She wouldn't use it often; it was more like an invisible threat, a way to keep the son of Poseidon from turning into a loose cannon. And if the child rose to meet her expectations, a demigod of his power would not do well turning over towards the enemy side.
She laid the demigod on a nice, soft bed and tucked him in with a tenderness that contradicted the goddess's despotic personality. How would I train him? the goddess mused, making sure the boy had a glass of water nearby him if he woke up. Would I raise him like he was my own son, or treat him as any mentor would to a pupil?
He looked a lot like his father. Although the boy did not possess the sea god's tan or his constant, annoying smile, Percy had the same features: high, cut-out cheekbones still layered by baby fat, bright green eyes dulled by the weight of life, and the wild black hair that screamed trouble. But there was darkness in his look, an unseen sense of fatigue that seeped into his voice that troubled the goddess. A child should not have seen or witnessed the things that Percy had gone through.
In the end though, it fit Athena's needs perfectly. She needed him to be tough and strong, cold and merciless just like the Goddess of Wisdom. It was cruel to put a child through such grueling training, but it would be necessary. The Olympians needed a mortal representative in the world. The monsters were stirring; increasing their ranks and gathering with a sense of organization that frightened the goddess. Olympus needed to be feared.
And Percy Jackson, this demigod, will soon become the talk of the world.
Time passed. PERCY grew to be six-years-old.
The days passed with new scars and harsh scoldings from a certain goddess. Percy was hidden away from the other Olympians, only able to stay in Athena's large and spacious temple while the goddess was away with her duties. In her free time, the demigod learned how to fight properly from the Goddess of Wisdom while receiving various lessons about the Olympian gods and goddesses.
Turns out, Percy sucked with a knife. The second the goddess looked at Percy's grip with the Omega blade, she instantly took it away and put a bright, white xiphos in his palm. It was heavy and large, exactly three feet long, and the blade curved into vicious, double-bladed edges. The light reflected beautifully off of the weapon, gleaming white with a sort of godlike quality. The child wondered what it was made out of.
"The weapon is made out of adamantine harvested from the foundations of the world," the goddess answered before he could ask. Sometimes it seemed that she could read his mind. "There is only one other weapon made of the same material – the scythe wielded by the King of Titans."
Percy sucked in a breath, remembering the ancient myth. "But why give it to me?"
Athena sighed, as if reminiscing of long ago times. "Various heroes have carried this sword into battle. You will learn of the demigods who have had the honor to wield this blade, and eventually, you will join them in immortality, to have your name passed on for generations upon generations."
"How can I become… great?" the boy questioned, his eyes brightening slightly.
The goddess smiled, a sight rather rare on her stern face. "You train."
- Ω -
PERCY was kicked harshly in the chest, knocking the wind out of the six-year-old. He stumbled back, fumbling with the grip on his sword before quickly parrying a strike meant to pierce his stomach with his shield.
The demigod swung his sword forward, slashing at the goddess's unprotected arm. The goddess was merely armed with a spear while Percy had a sword and a shield, him being less experienced in the art of combat. Athena easily sidestepped the blow, feinting at his shield side with the butt of her spear. Percy fell for the feint, moving in to block it when the spear was instantly whipped around, making a shallow cut along his chest.
Grunting slightly, Percy backpedalled only to find the goddess suddenly spring forward, the tip of her spear hitting his shield with such force that he was instantly thrown backwards, landing on the concrete with a harsh thump. He looked up to find a spear pointed directly at his throat, easily able to end his life with one quick, precise strike.
The spear was removed, and Percy got up, his muscles protesting angrily against the action. He looked at Athena, waiting for the usual rant on how he could've done better. The immortal flashed dully, turning from the body of a child into one of a young adult.
"When you backpedal," the goddess began, but then she seemed to think better of it. "Forget it. Never backpedal. Push onwards – be merciless in your approach. When you back up, your weight is on the back of your foot and thus it is easy for me to knock you over. As a general rule of thumb, always push forward, even when thrown back."
The child nodded, subconsciously wiping the blood from the cut on his chest. "Never back away from battle."
"Not exactly," Athena muttered. "It's hard to learn this when you are so young, but there is a certain honor in dying in battle. It means that you died fighting for what you believe in. People will remember you if you charge into battle without fear – they will follow you, and you will motivate people. That's how you lead. True leaders will lead by example; they will lead their soldiers into battle, be the first person in and the last person out instead of sitting on the back lines. Does that make sense?"
Percy nodded again, leaning on his sword. "But you've always told me that throwing yourself into battle continuously without thought is dangerous and unwise."
"It is," the immortal sighed, her eyes flashing with old memories of the past. "The greatest generals could make entire cities surrender without losing a single soldier. You have to find a balance between bravery and wisdom."
"But how would I learn?"
Athena sat down on the concrete floor, and Percy followed suit. She brushed her dark hair back, a slight smile on her face as she took Percy's hand in hers. "Experience, young demigod."
Percy's world suddenly turned black.
- Ω -
The color of blood stained everywhere. On swords, on shields, on spears, everywhere…
Percy found himself in the middle of a battlefield. There was a cliff nearby that dropped precariously into the ocean, and on the other side of the path was another sheer wall of earth. The stench of bodies and the all-too familiar coppery taste of blood filled his mouth, initiating a gag reflex that Percy barely managed to hold down.
He was in some weird formation – a large ball-shaped phalanx that had shields raised in a dome, protecting it from archer fire from any angle. It was then when Percy realized that he was holding a shield in one hand and a spear in the other, dressed in tempered armor and draped in a bloody cape.
Then Percy noticed what surrounded them.
Thousands upon thousands of soldiers stood on the cliffs around them, cutting off any exits. In the sea, there were an uncountable number of Classical-era ships with hundreds of men on each ship. There were archers with their bows trained on the dome, ready to unleash a sky-full of lethal projectiles at the slightest indication.
There was a golden throne sitting proudly on the path, carried by vicious-looking men with masks for faces. On the throne sat a dark-skinned king, whose golden jewelry glinted brighter than Apollo's chariot. Suddenly, Percy knew where he was: Thermopylae, the last stand of the Spartans and their king, Leonidas. And on the throne was Xerxes, the king of the Persian Empire.
It was deathly silent. Nothing dared to move save for the sea, for the ocean was untamable and all-powerful. The water battered the cliff, seemingly trying to claw its way towards the Persian Emperor.
"Do you surrender, brave king?" the Persian king thundered, his voice deep and rich. He spoke the ancient Greek language perfectly, and Percy was surprisingly able to translate every word he said.
A lone Spartan was standing in front of the dome, with his shield and spear lowered and his chin raised high, not even fazed by the multitude of archers trained on him. There was a fire that shined in the man's eyes that Percy couldn't help but respect. This was King Leonidas, bravest of the Spartans.
Slowly, the man's grip tightened on his spear. In the blink of an eye, the king threw the spear at the Persian with enough power and accuracy to pierce him straight through the head. Luckily, the emperor was fast enough to tilt his head, forcing the spear to strike the golden throne, sending cracks running on the side of the precious metal. Rage emanated from the Persian's stance, and his final verdict screamed out like a death sentence.
The sky darkened. Thousands of little black spots filled the sky; too many to even count. They hit the bronze shields with heavy dinks, piercing through the metal with each shot. Soon enough, the dome started disintegrating, Spartan after Spartan falling prey to the vicious projectiles. Percy survived the initial wave of arrows, and the stench of blood and death flooded his nostrils, overwhelming his senses.
An arrow found its way into Percy's arm, forcing him to drop his shield in pain. When the arrows stopped, the sun once again glowed in the sky, but it seemed to glow dimmer than it had previously.
Percy fell to his knees and stared up at the Spartan king. There were over ten arrows stuck in various places in his body, but even then, Leonidas stood standing. In brave, defiant steps, Leonidas slowly stumbled towards the Persian king, his hand clutched tightly on a white, brilliant sword that looked dimly familiar.
In that moment, Percy realized what bravery – what courage was. Facing on a storm of arrows that blotted out the sun and then having the willpower to remain standing… it was beautiful to watch. The sunlight grew red as it dipped beyond the horizon, casting the scene forever into Percy's memory.
Then the sky darkened again.
- Ω -
Athena's eyes flashed into view, beautiful, grey, and piercing.
The world suddenly dropped when his stomach did, making the demigod fall forward unexpectedly. He would've face planted on the ground had the goddess not caught him. The air had been knocked out of him.
"Wh-What," Percy took deep, rasping breaths, "was that?"
The goddess blinked several times, as if she was mulling over how to explain it to the kid. "I inserted you into the memory of a long-dead Spartan soldier," she answered. "Think of it like a simulation."
His body was weak. Percy stumbled slightly, falling out of the goddess's grip and breaking the fall with his hands, the painful sting of a thousand arrows ghosting impressions onto his skin. Blood rushed up his throat and he watched with sick fascination as it spurted all over the white concrete while Athena merely raised an eyebrow before cleaning up the liquid with a swipe of her palm.
"Side-effects," she dismissed when Percy gazed at her curiously.
The son of Poseidon wiped the rest of the blood from his mouth, almost dropping his sword onto the ground. Athena didn't say a word.
- Ω -
"Hey there little shit, what's this? Ooh, some big fancy award… let's see if this is worth anything."
"What the fu – is this is a reading award? Holy shit, guys, we got a nerd up in this household. You feel so special, don't ya' boy? Well lemme tell ya' something: being smart in the real world ain't gonna count for shit, you'll just end up like the rest of us, rotting away in this hellhole of a house. Am I right guys?"
Hooting laughter escaped from Gabe's poker friends, braying like hyenas, far too drunk to even comprehend what Gabe had said. The sound of tearing paper hurt. It reminded Percy of no matter how hard he tried, nobody would ever be proud of him.
Percy awoke in a cold sweat, the phantom stench of alcohol reminding him of the ghosts of his past. His hands trembled slightly, as if itching to snap someone's neck. The darkness of the room he awoke in swallowed Percy's small frame, the thick silence pouring in like molten lava. That didn't help with the fact that Percy felt completely, utterly alone.
The boy sat up, his eyes slowly adjusting to the darkness. He could barely make out a doorknob a few feet away from him, and, unable to handle the impending claws of claustrophobia, Percy leapt out of bed in order to escape from the dark confinements of the bedroom.
The white floor of Athena's temple made no sound when the boy moved, the demigod desperate to find some sort of fresh air. The temple's quiet, lack of activity, and gloominess was just too much. It was beautiful in the daylight, but at night it seemed nothing short of a prison, a cage to hold its inhabitants and shield them away from the rest of Olympus's prying eyes.
Light flashed ahead, a pale beam of moonlight streaming in from the temple's atrium, lighting the massive hall with dim silver. It seemed serene, comforting, and Percy ran towards it, the pitter-patter of his feet almost nonexistent.
Eventually, Percy made it to the center of the beam, relishing in the feeling of open air. Although the hole in the temple was a few stories above him, clean air seemed to seep in from the opening. The soft moonbeams danced around him, magically casting lights and shadows in a natural, beautiful way that was unable to describe.
Sighing happily, Percy sat down and closed his eyes, basking in the light. The moon gleamed magnificently overhead, a strange sight to see on Olympus.
Percy's eyes jumped wide open, his body spazzing out in shock. On some hidden instinct, the boy rolled backwards, ending up in a defensive stance, his knees bent and posture alert. Had he been a decade older, perhaps the demigod would've looked menacing, but now, at the prime age of six, the young son of Poseidon looked rather adorable.
"Who are you?" Percy demanded, not seeing anything in sight. His voice faltered slightly.
Soft, alluring laughter rang across the room, tranquil like the beams of moonlight shining through the atrium. A figure emerged from the shadows, stepping into the light with a sense of gracefulness that made Percy's breath catch.
Well, for starters, it was a she. Her hair was dark and fiery, glinting even in the dim light, luscious like a wildflower. She was pale, paler than the rays of moonlight that shone through the room, with piercing silver eyes rather like Athena's but much lighter. Ten menacing inches taller than him, she had a matured face and developed body, seeming infinitely wiser and more powerful than Percy.
In other words, she looked twelve. That was pretty old in Percy's book.
"What is a male demigod doing in a virgin goddess's temple?" the girl demanded, sounding neither mean nor nice, a sort of neutral tone.
Percy couldn't help but stare, feeling the familiar buzz of power whenever next to a goddess, even though the only goddess Percy had ever met in person was Athena. The girl frowned at his silence, tapping at her hips with her fingers, impatience evident in her stance.
"I-I'm sorry," Percy stuttered. He didn't know what to say. "I, ah, I'm Athena's champion." Like I even know what that means, the boy thought in his head.
"I already knew that," the goddess responded. The expression on her face was unreadable.
Instantly, he felt the presence of someone that wasn't him in his mind. Trying to shake off the feeling, Percy was horrified to find that he couldn't lower his gaze; his eyes were glued to the silver ones of the girl.
Suddenly, a burning sensation on his tattoo broke him free of his bonds, forcing him to fall onto his knees and gasp in agony. It felt like the flaming poker was being pressed against his chest all over again but worse, terrible, fiery pain that originated in his chest and spread throughout his body like hellfire, as if there were poison in his veins. As soon as it was there, it was gone, leaving the disheveled boy panting and sweating on the temple floor.
The place where the poker touched was still glowing, shining dully through the fabric of his shirt – the mark of Athena.
"She won't let me access his memories," Percy heard the goddess murmur sourly, her pretty face scrunched up in annoyance. Her soft gaze refocused on him, before turning her eyes into slits and delivering a piercing stare.
"Look, I'm sorry," Percy hurriedly apologized, cracking under her look. "Whatever I did that annoyed you… I'm sorry."
After searching his voice for deceit, the goddess sighed. "You're smart, I'll give you that. How old are you?"
"Six, Lady… uh," Percy fumbled, not able to classify the goddess in front of him.
She forced a tight smile. "Artemis, Goddess of the Moon. What is your name?"
"Percy," he paused before forcing out his last name. "Jackson." The name brought back unpleasant memories, and the boy struggled to suppress them. Artemis noticed the struggle on his face.
"You don't wear your name with pride, don't you, Percy?" the goddess questioned, sitting down next to him. Up close, the Goddess of the Moon was even more beautiful than her celestial equivalent. But she was a sworn virgin goddess, just like Athena. He had learned quite a lot from the wisdom goddess.
Regardless of that fact, Percy found himself staring at her without shame. Memories washed over him, good and happy memories that filled him with hope when he was young.
When the goddess found Percy staring at her, the boy dropped his gaze. "I used to stare at you – when I was younger, of course," he admitted, forcing out the last part. "In the nighttime, when I was having a really bad day, I would glance out of the window and just watch the moon sail by. I… I don't know, it gave me a sense of serenity in turbulent times."
His cheeks burned with embarrassment, but Percy continued anyways. "I remember that… that I used to, no, I still stare at the moon, hoping, wishing for a chance to escape from all of this." He gestured vaguely with his hands before pressing on, "But Athena, s-she keeps me on a tight leash, one could say." Strangely, Percy's voice faltered, and when he resumed talking, his voice was thick with emotion. "I don't have much of a chance to look for you anymore – this was… my first time seeing the moon in a few months."
Artemis gave him a probing, questioning look. Her sympathetic eyes, her majestic aura, it was all too much; something suppressed within him broke like a dam.
"But when I do," Percy continued, tears rolling down his face, "it always fills me with… a sense of wonder and hope. It… It gave me something to talk to when I was down, and I would rant on and on about how terrible and… miserable my life was, how… utterly meaningless my existence was to history. And… and I… I…"
Incoherent words started spilling from the boy's mouth, who was now bawling like a six year old kid (which he was).
When he looked up, Percy saw Artemis through a layer of tears, the goddess trembling slightly. With a shaky voice, she spoke: "Your existence is meaningful, Percy. You're smart, kind, and capable and will come to be a… a fine male when you grow up."
She blinked rapidly and stood up, walking to the center of the opening in the ceiling where the moonlight was strongest. Even then, the moon's power was starting to fade, slowing giving place to dawn. "I heard your prayers," she added quietly, her words failing to reach Percy's ears. "I wanted to help you so bad."
When Percy looked up again, she was gone. Rays of sunshine slowly seeped into the building.
- Ω -
It was daytime, or, to be more exact, Olympus's version of it.
Gods and goddesses strolled the streets, major ones flanked by minor ones, nymphs and satyrs hanging onto every word that came out of an immortal's mouth. There were a few Olympians on the streets; Hermes, speeding around and making deliveries, flying around like a winged demon, Hestia, skirting around the large groups of immortals quietly underneath her hooded cloak, and Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, striding through the streets of Olympus like the regal princess she was.
But there was another goddess in the crowd, one who was a rare sight to been seen on Olympus. ARTEMIS, in her older form, split the crowd, the immortals and nymphs sensing the dangerous aura that the moon goddess radiated. The citizens of Olympus parted like the Red Sea, ensuring her a beeline for the one goddess that she wanted to talk to: Athena.
She was shaking, her hands trembling with fury. With a grip of ice, she took Athena's arm in hers and roughly dragged her in the alley between two minor gods' temples, throwing her against the wall with enough force for Athena to gasp in surprise.
"Artemis, what are you doing?" the goddess demanded, pressed against the cold, hard wall.
The goddess in question grabbed Athena's shoulders, pulling her forward and then smashing her back against the wall. Even though the moon goddess was a few inches shorter than Athena, her ferocity was unmatched; Athena wasn't able to fight off the furious immortal. "No, the question is what are you doing?"
Athena's eyes narrowed, her eyes turning into fierce grey slits. "What do you mean?"
"Don't think that I don't I know of him," the aggressor hissed, her small hands crushing Athena's shoulder bones. Athena's glare instantly loosened, her eyes softening a degree. She straightened up, regaining her composure, and smirked slightly.
"Of who?" she retorted, her smile only growing wider at Artemis's apparent indignation.
That infuriated Artemis. "Of course you know who," the younger Olympian all but screamed, "the child that you keep in your temple, Percy Jackson!"
"Take some deep breaths, Artemis," Athena teased, "no need to get this worked up over a boy."
Artemis turned a furious shade of red, her face resembling a red tomato. "He's a child! Not some crazed science experiment, for Lord Zeus's sake."
"Don't get too worked up." The wisdom goddess's taunting smile almost split her face in half. "This isn't like you, sister."
"You're a monster," Artemis declared, spitting out "monster" with a disgusted look.
Athena gave her sister a dirty look, her eyes swirling like a tornado. "I'm a monster? I gave him a home, away from the streets where he grew up in, training that will make him a god among mortals, and most importantly, I gave him unrivaled smarts – "
"Your blessing," Artemis seethed, "gave him brains far beyond his age, sure, but it's not good for him! Can't you see that your blessing is a curse in disguise, that he can feel and understand such complicated emotions that nobody his age ought to experience?"
"His brain, his emotions, they're an investment for the future," the Olympian revealed. "Who cares about how much he suffers now if in the future his brain, his strategy, his love for others will be what saves us all?"
Artemis let go of her grip on Athena, staring at her sister in disbelief. "How can you even talk like that? He's just a boy." Her voice was small, full of incredulity.
"He's not a boy, he's a hero."
Taking deep breathes, forcing herself not to do anything rash, Artemis gaped at Athena as if she sprouted second head. "How can you live with yourself, knowing that you've ruined an innocent child's chance at a childhood?"
The older Olympian gave her an ice-cold stare. "I know you're smarter than this, Artemis. Don't you see that he's the prophecy child, that his very existence will bring down the world in storm?"
"Yes, I do," Artemis hissed, "but does he not deserve a proper upbringing?"
"Look here, sister," the goddess sneered, turning towards the alley exit, her back to Artemis's face. She cast a glance backwards, a rough profile of her face shining against the shadows of the alley. "I don't know how to make this any clearer, so I'll say this once. Percy Jackson's destiny is far more important than his upbringing – when he's in the throne room, being offered godhood without fail, he won't give a damn about how he was raised."
"You're heartless!" the moon goddess spat, her skin glowing with raw power. "You've deprived him of a childhood, marked him like an animal for Olympus's sake, all for this wild and irrational notion of yours that this will be the only way that he can fulfill the prophecy?"
"No," Athena answered, starting to walk away from the raging moon goddess, "but it will surely help our chances out. You're just too dense to see that Percy Jackson is merely a mortal, a disposable one at that."
"Don't you just walk away from me, Pallas Athena!" Artemis roared, her form beginning to flicker rapidly. "He is much more than a mortal, you failure of a goddess!"
Athena took a deep breath before responding coolly, "Who would have thought of the day that the virgin Artemis defended a boy with such a ferocity? Be careful, sister, for words on Olympus travel fast, and soon enough, dangerous words will be tossed around. Wouldn't it be such a disaster if Aphrodite heard of this?"
The wisdom goddess turned around, smiling dangerously, and there was that cold glint in her eye that screamed of danger. Then, with a bright flash, she was gone.
Artemis shook slightly, stepping out into the streets of Olympus. There were no beings around, frightened by the two powerful auras emanating from the shadowed alley.
"I hope you're happy, Athena!" Artemis screamed, clenching her fists so hard that her knuckles turned white. "I hope that the day that Percy Jackson grows free of your bonds, free of your oppression, you will see the massive error of your ways, and that you will suffer for it!" Her form blinking rapidly, the goddess shined brightly before disappearing, whisking away to another part of the world.
But her words hung heavily in the air, the prophecy of a day years in the future.
A few months passed. It was spring; Demeter rejoiced in being reunited with her daughter, causing the world to bloom in bright colors and shades.
PERCY loved the springtime. When he was young, his mother used to take him to the beach during her spring break. He'd play in the ocean, drunk on sweet innocence that he was robbed of when life introduced Gabe into his household.
Training with Athena became worse after meeting Artemis. His door was bolted at bedtime, unable to break free and have any contact with the moonlight. Her strikes and blows became harder and faster with his rising skill, although his tiny frame prohibited him from striking back with much efficiency. For the time being, Athena shortened the xiphos for him, reducing the blade's length to two and a half feet.
His size constantly troubled Percy. He was small for his age, falling two inches underneath the average height for six year olds. Even with all of his training, his muscles did not develop whilst his body fat burned away, leaving him to be short and skinny. This was, of course, a question he always raised with his patron goddess, but those conversations never ended well.
"Are you listening to me, child?"
It was always child or something like that, never just Percy. It was slightly infuriating, the condescending tone, but worst of all, deep down inside Percy knew it hurt because she never acknowledged him outside of a strict mentor-student relationship. Percy wanted to be seen in a better light, with pride. All he ever wanted to do was impress Athena – there was always that secret urge within him that drove him to practice harder, that drove him to want to be big and strong.
"Of course," Percy answered quickly, taking a quick glance at the goddess. She really was beautiful, but all goddesses were.
"Oh really?" Athena's lips curled up into an amused smirk, not a genuine smile. "Tell me what I just said."
"Erh…" Percy stammered, struggling to find something to say, "Heracles washed the stables by directing the flow of a river – "
"No," the goddess interrupted, causing Percy's voice to die in his throat. "That was more than five minutes ago. I knew that you weren't paying attention." She sighed. "Honestly, this mission that I am assigning to you is of a very high importance, so it is imperative that you listen carefully."
At the word mission, Percy's full attention instantly snapped towards Athena. "A mission?" Although he didn't understand half the words that the goddess had just uttered, Percy definitely understood what a missions was.
Knowing that she had enraptured Percy's thoughts, Athena continued. "Yes. In Richmond, near a metalworking factory, there is a young girl just like you when I found you: scared, not knowing what to do, and poorly equipped. Find her and protect her."
"Is that it?" Percy asked, standing up. "Why can't you protect her?"
The goddess's face look pained, the first emotion to break through her stoic mask in a long time. "There are certain divine laws that even the most powerful gods cannot break, hero. And as much as I wish that I was able to help her…" Her voice trailed off as she stared longingly into the distance.
"I won't fail you," the boy assured, and a tight smile found its way on Athena's lips. "How old is she?"
"The same age as you," Athena's eyes were glazed over, as if she were thinking other thoughts. "She has honey-blonde hair and tan skin, untrusting of the world around her." The wisdom goddess focused her gaze on Percy, and the boy shivered under the intensity of her eyes. "Make her trust you, and bring her home."
"Home?" Percy questioned, confused. "You mean, New York?"
Nodding, the goddess straightened up. "Yes. But do not bring her to Olympus. There is another place, located on Long Island Sound, where other demigods go and train."
The kid nodded, a look of puzzlement still on his face. "Then why am I not there?"
"Look," Athena started, an unreadable expression darkening her face, "this is a conversation for another time. Are you ready?"
"Ready for what – "
With a snap of the goddess's fingers, Percy's stomach dropped as the world did summersaults.
- Ω -
Columns of smoke curled up into the grey sky, adding to the melancholic feel of Richmond, Virginia.
Percy loosely gripped his white xiphos in his right palm, a backpack slung around his shoulders. Inside were some clothes and squares of ambrosia as well as a bottle of nectar. Twenty dollars in mortal change were packed into his jean pocket, squishing against his thighs, and a little further down his leg sat the Omega knife, strapped against his calves.
His brain was tingling with adrenaline, coursing through his veins and keeping him alert. This was extremely exciting for the young demigod – finally, he would be in the real world, with real monsters and not some shape shifting automaton that Athena had on Olympus.
Walking down the mostly deserted street, the demigod mused over how this place would be such a good place to ambush others, with the boarded up windows and vast alleys. There were a few construction workers milling about up ahead, and Percy, not wanting to risk a conflict, ducked into an alley when they passed by.
He knew, that with his bright sword and knife, the Mist that obscured most mortal's visions would fool them into seeing something worse. Percy knew how to control a little bit of the Mist, but this was still a subject that he could not fully grasp. It was tricky, delicate, a portion of godly power that was not to be messed around with.
After the workers were gone, Percy stepped back out onto the street, pondering on how to find this girl he had to protect. There were many alleys, too many to go through all at once.
Suddenly, his tattoo pulsed, burning with a tingling sensation. Biting back the pain, the boy noticed that it glowed slightly – Percy could see it through the fabric of his shirt – before dimming. Instantly, Percy knew which alley to look in, as if the knowledge had been implanted into his mind. He walked quietly towards the alley, glancing around before entering the shadowy passage. The air seemed still and warm, a much better sense than the cool Virginia air out on the road.
There was something watching Percy. The hairs on the back of his neck tingled, and he thrust the tip of his blade into the concrete underneath him, planting the sword in the ground. Holding his hands up as a gesture of peace, Percy was about to talk when something rustled towards his right and lunged at him.
Instinctively, Percy's hand grabbed the attacker's wrist, holding back a blow meant to strike his head. Using his arm to block a wild punch made for his chest, with a quick flick of the wrist he had the person pinned up against the alley wall.
Honey-blonde hair frizzled up before Percy, as if they hadn't been washed in a very long time. When he released her, nice tan skin and a cute face greeted him, with a few streaks of dirt and grime covering her freckles. But Percy registered those facts after he had stopped staring at her eyes, large, grey, and vulnerable, swirling with fear and a tornado of emotions.
Once again holding up his hands in a silent gesture of peace, Percy saw her scrutinizing eyes wash over him, as if she was seemingly evaluating him. Something about her behavior seemed familiar to Percy, but at the moment he couldn't exactly put his mind on it.
"Who are you?" she finally asked, fear shining in her grey orbs. "Are you another monster?"
The intelligence in her voice rivaled his own, perhaps excelled his. No wonder Athena wanted to protect her. "No, I'm definitely not a monster," he answered, giving her a sincere grin.
Her eyes showed her distrust, and she shrunk into a ball when he took a step towards her. Percy relaxed his arms, letting them swing down to his sides. "Look," he began, wondering about how on earth he was going to gain her trust, "I know that this stuff is scary." He gestured around, mainly at the adamantine sword planted into the earth's crust. "And – "
"Who are you?" she burst suddenly, repeating her question from earlier.
Percy felt something weird wiggle in his chest when he looked at her, with her vulnerable look and slightly shivering body. Remembering a line from a long time ago, Percy took a knee next to her. "Uh, my mom always used to tell me not to be friends with strangers, but we can't be strangers if we know each other's names, right?"
Her lips twitched upward, a little bit of hope blossoming in her eyes. "I guess."
"My name's Percy," he introduced himself, extending a hand, "what's your name?"
"Annabeth." She took his hand, and together they stood up. "You… you see the monsters too?"
Nodding, Percy was slightly dismayed to find her two inches or so taller than him, but he swallowed down his pride and took the Omega knife out of the strap, handing it to Annabeth. "I think you'll need a better weapon than a hammer if the monsters come for us," he explained, watching as she felt the weight of the weapon. "Um… it takes a cunning warrior to use a knife. You have to get in close to the opponent."
"Thank you," she muttered shyly before looking at their interlocked hands. Instantly she dropped her hand, instead using it to brush back a few strands of blonde hair that feel in front of her face.
Noticing the heat disappear from his hand, fire erupted in Percy's face. He groaned mentally, knowing that his face most certainly represented a ripe tomato right now. Annabeth too was a lovely shade of scarlet, although hers wasn't as noticeable due to her tan. Silence entered the warm air of the alley, stifling Percy with a terrifying awkwardness that made his palms begin to sweat.
"Ah… no problem," he stammered, his voice not functioning properly in the presence of the flustered female demigod.
Percy picked up the adamantine sword, leaving a crack in the concrete. He noticed Annabeth stare at the weapon in slight awe, and he gave her a quick I'll explain later look before once again entering the now freezing streets of Richmond.
He started walking forward only to notice a missing presence by his side. Sighing, Percy turned around to find Annabeth still nestled in the warmth and comfort of the alley, the girl unsure of whether or not to proceed.
"Annabeth," Percy called, stumbling over what to say next, "it'll be harder for both of us if we split up… I know of a place for people like me and you, but if we're going to get there I'm gonna need you to trust me. I swear, I'll protect you."
She looked conflicted before stepping forward, shivering in the cold. Percy unzipped his backpack and handed her a hoodie, to which she gladly threw on.
"Where to then?" she asked, in a shy yet authoritative manner that sparked a bit of recognition within Percy. Annabeth seemed so familiar – he just couldn't wrap his mind around it. It infuriated him.
"There is a bus stop a bit from here," Percy revealed, throwing his backpack back over his shoulder. "Once we get there, I'll promise that I'll explain this entire situation to you once we are there because right now I don't feel entirely safe." Annabeth nodded, and Percy started walking towards the bus stop. It was perhaps three-fourths of a mile from this street, and that was where Athena had dumped him after teleporting off of Olympus.
"So, Percy," the female demigod tested, enjoying the way his name rolled off of her lips, "can I ask you a question?"
Not breaking his strides, Percy spared a quick glance at her before resuming his scan of the surrounding environment. "Can it wait for the bus? I'm sure you have a lot of questions and when this happened to me I did, too, but I have this uncanny feeling of being watched."
"I do, too," Annabeth admitted, walking shoulder to shoulder with him. "So you see these monsters too? Have you killed any?"
Percy nodded tersely, more focused on the matter at hand. "I have a little experience."
He felt Annabeth study him, sending another spark of recognition down his spine. She was so similar to someone he knew, and based on the fact that he didn't know a lot of people, it should've been easy for him to figure out who. "You don't like to laugh or joke, don't you?"
Percy found himself sighing sadly, answering with a frigid: "If you've been through what I've been through, you wouldn't, either."
That effectively silence the curious girl, but it was only a matter of seconds before another sentence popped up. "I figured. You have this certain air around you that radiates depression, you know. You should laugh and smile more."
"Observant and smart," Percy blurted out, not able to stop the words streaming out of his mouth, "cute, too." He mentally tried to curse himself to death when the words finally stopped, cursing his impulsive behavior around members of the opposite gender.
Annabeth's embarrassed look only made Percy more flustered, both of their faces a bright scarlet red. They walked in an awkward silence for a while before his companion broke the tension. "You're smart, too. The only person my age that I can talk with and feel normal." And so they were; two people with similarly smart minds.
They had walked a few hundred yards from the alley, edging closer and closer towards the safe spot. The bus stop had lots of mortals, so their demigod scent would be masked, but now, when it was just the two demigods, Percy had to be cautious. He wiped the image of a smiling, flushing Annabeth out of his mind and regained his focus on the task at hand. Percy wasn't sure about which god or goddess was Annabeth's godly parent, but her mannerisms seemed so familiar that it was almost painful watching her.
The Mark of Athena flashed on his chest, him grunting in surprise from the sudden explosion of pain. Annabeth gave him a wide-eyed stare of concern, a final action that pieced together the jigsaw puzzle.
Annabeth was a daughter of Athena. There was no other explanation. Now that he saw it, Percy felt like an idiot; Annabeth had those piercing grey eyes, the incredibly intelligent mind, and that analytical look that viewed everything as a potential threat. He made his mind up to tell her about his discovery later on the bus.
"Percy, are you okay?" Annabeth exclaimed, and Percy realized that he had fallen onto a knee.
"Yeah," he assured, staggering up. "Nothing to worry about – "
"PERCY!" Annabeth screamed, and instantly the white xiphos in his palm swung around, lodging itself into the brain of a hellhound. The monster immediately disintegrated, and Percy chastised himself for his weakness and exposing them to a dangerous situation.
He spotted a trio of cyclops emerging from the alley behind them, both holding menacing clubs and sporting black armor. Those were the only monsters, and after checking his surroundings multiple times, Percy had formulated a plan.
"Annabeth," Percy whispered, causing her to lean towards him, "I'm going to take them on. I need you to trust me to take them all on, and I trust that you'll have my back, right?"
"You can't take on all of them," she hissed quietly, gesturing with her knife towards the hulking beasts walking towards them, "it's suicide. I don't want you to die." Her voice was very small when she admitted this.
"I can," Percy said confidently, "I've trained for this, Annabeth, you haven't. I need you to stay safe, so don't engage unless I explicitly tell you to."
Annabeth looked like she wanted to argue her case further, but the monsters were too close. Not waiting for an answer, Percy sprinted towards the monsters, his xiphos filling him with energy. Adrenaline pumped through his veins like earlier. This is it. This is what he trained for.
He wasn't exactly fast, but his straightforward attack must've surprised the monsters; they were probably expecting an easy fight. The first cyclops, their leader, swung the club wildly for his head, which Percy easily ducked underneath. The second strike by another cyclops was harder to dodge, Percy having to sidestep and twist his hip to avoid getting smashed to pieces. The last attempted blow was impossible to avoid, so Percy brought up his sword to parry the blow, straightening his wrist at the last moment.
The cyclops obviously underestimated him, since the parry left the cyclops's side wide open, where a sword quickly pierced through the armor and retracted. Percy knew that the thrust wasn't strong enough to kill in one blow, but it was enough to stun the cyclops so he only had to deal with two at a time. Another club came his way, upon which he rolled under, using his small size to his advantage. The club caught the wounded cyclops in the leg, smashing its knee backwards with a disgusting crunch.
The scream of the wounded cyclops was horrifying and deafening, enough to make the ground rumble slightly. Percy regained his footing quickly and stabbed the ankle of a stumbling cyclops, causing it to roar in anger and swipe at Percy with a large fist. Reacting quickly, Percy brought his sword up to attempt to slice off its hand in one swipe, but the blade only made a deep cut into the cyclops's wrist. Either way, the result was an agonized roar from the cyclops, and taking the opening, Percy reached up with his free hand and grabbed the outstretched hand to finish the job, freeing his sword and slicing off the cyclops's hand.
Monster blood splattered his face, temporarily blinding him and causing the boy to stumble backwards. A club mercilessly came down towards him, where Percy was forced to roll backwards and reassess the situation.
There were two wounded cyclopses and one undamaged one, both still capable of fighting. Percy was breathing hard, slightly at awe of how one of the cyclopses, despite loosing a hand, continued on with the fight anyways.
Regardless of the fact that he was outnumbered, Percy charged into the battle again, this time directly parrying a blow from the cyclops captain and delivering a piercing stab into its knee before twisting the blade, hearing the strangely satisfying pop when the bones popped out of its socket. Withdrawing the sword, he slashed at the tendons in the back of its other leg, causing it to fall down onto its knees. Then, Percy delivered a devastating thrust straight through the monster's head (him having to jump slightly due to not being tall enough) and was greeted by an explosion of monster dust.
The other two cyclopses, stunned, attacked at the same time, the demigod simply deflecting both blows. What he did not expect, however, was one of them to try and backhand slap him, which he was barely able to block from smashing into his face by raising his left arm. However, the brute force behind the strike sent him stumbling back a few feet, and he was sure that there was going to be an ugly bruise on his arm later.
One of the cyclopses stopped to catch its breath, and that was its critical mistake; Percy leapt forward and stabbing the xiphos deep into its thigh, the monster not even having time to block the blow. It dropped its club in surprise and pain, not able to emit a sound when Percy jumped and stabbed his sword straight through its heart, making it disintegrate immediately.
The last cyclops swung its club at him with such wild rage that Percy didn't have time to re-grip his sword, the blow sending it flying onto the road far to the left of him. Percy dodged backwards as the monster forced him further and further away from Annabeth, desperately trying to look for a window of opportunity when, suddenly, the monster wailed, falling to one knee. Someone grabbed its head and pulled backwards, exposing the monster's neck only to slice it open with a knife.
Gurgling slightly with a sickening similarity to one of Percy's darkest memories, the monster evaporated into nothing, only leaving behind a thick pile of golden dust. He looked forward at his savior, a young, panting daughter of Athena, and began to go fetch his sword.
"Thanks for saving me back there, Annabeth." Percy picked up the adamantine sword, which was completely spotless of blood. "Although, I remember telling you not to engage unless explicitly told to do so."
"You looked like you needed some help," she teased, playfulness evident in her tone.
He gave Annabeth an once-over, making sure that she was okay, before noticing that she was staring at him with her grey eyes full of an emotion Percy had never seen before – admiration. "That was amazing, Percy," she added, and Percy suspected that the red in her cheeks were not from slaying the cyclops. "The way you fought, taking on those three monsters even when they outnumbered you and outsized you."
"Thanks, Annabeth. I've trained hard for this." He didn't want to sound like he was bragging, but this was the truth. Athena had trained him for the sole purpose of serving some type of role in an upcoming conflict with an unknown enemy, and now, listening to Annabeth's words, Percy was filled with a sense of pride that he had yearned for when he was younger.
"It's paid off," she complemented him once more, and giddiness filled Percy to the brim. Once again, as it seemed to be a typical occurrence whenever he was with Annabeth, both of their faces were as red as a stop sign and they were looking at everything but each other.
They continued on their journey in a tense, awkward silence as these bouts of complementing always ended in, and they made it to the bus stop without any godly interference. The sun was starting to set, but the bus was a 24-hour service all along the eastern seaboard so they were in no particular hurry.
Percy sat on the waiting bench, where Annabeth joined him. A few adults and more teenagers surrounded them, not paying any attention to the young demigod duo.
"Percy, why don't these people notice us?" Annabeth whispered, once again being the one to break the silence between them.
Thinking of a way to explain it to her, as Percy didn't understand the topic very well either, the demigod decided to put it as this: "Well, there's this thing called the Mist that covers people like us and the monsters who chase us. Somehow, the Mist creates an illusion, so right now I think that to other people, we'd look like two normal teenagers sitting on a bench instead of two six year olds armed with swords and knives."
Annabeth remained quiet, pondering this information as they got onto the bus and prepared for a long ride. They picked two seats in the back next to all empty ones so they could stretch their legs and sleep, each taking up two seats maximum. Soon, the engine revved and the bus started moving, and Percy finally relaxed, a visible calmness settling over him.
"Finally," he sighed, setting his backpack on the seat next to him and held the white xiphos on his lap, "some peace."
"How are you sure that the monsters won't find us here?" Annabeth asked, the first in an evidently very long line of questions.
Closing his eyes and resting, Percy muttered gently, "Monster are able to sniff out people like us… normal people like the ones that are on the bus with us will be able to block our scent, and there is the fact that the bus is moving, making it much harder to pinpoint us down."
"You always say people like us," Annabeth pointed out, yawning cutely before leaning her head on Percy's shoulder, despite her being taller than he was. "What do you mean by that?"
"Wonderful, another difficult question," Percy muttered sarcastically, and Annabeth let out a chuckle before snuggling deeper into his side. Although it was a tad bit uncomfortable, Percy didn't mind at all and enjoyed the warmth that Annabeth gave off. It made his heart spark with emotion.
"Well, we have time, don't we?"
Percy felt his lips twitch of their own accord, and with a large yawn, he began telling the story of the Greek gods, and of how Annabeth was daughter of the great goddess Athena. Then she asked him about his own story, where Percy gave her a brief outline of his life without going into too much detail, ending with how Athena sent him to find and protect her and how they were now heading towards a camp for demigods just like them.
Too late did Percy just realize that Annabeth had fallen asleep, snoring adorably into his skinny chest. Fire spread throughout his body and to his face where he flushed like a rose, but it was too dark to tell the difference on his pale face and Annabeth was asleep anyways. Listening to his companion's steady breathing, Percy realized one thing before he fell asleep:
He made a new friend.
So anyways, here was a little bit more action and the plot advances a little bit, but the plot is always slow in the first few chapters as things get set up. Obviously, things are going to differ from canon, so if you were expecting Percy to go through the exact same quests again, I wouldn't suggest this story.
And if you don't want it to be Percy/Annabeth, do not fear; for I have decided to sprinkle in a little bit of everything before finally sticking to one thing, so don't expect Percy to have a girlfriend until after a few prophecies and quests. I am still open to requests via reviews.
And a word on Percy's drastic change of personality: obviously he isn't going to be the happy-go-lucky type, not with the upbringing he had in this fanfic. He won't joke a lot and he'll smile rarely and be a lot tougher than is usual. However, I love the obliviousness in his nature, so while he is incredibly book-smart, his ability to talk to girls will remain the same.
I would like to know what you guys think, since I am trying out something new here. And bear with me – Perseus: Master of the Elements will be updated soon.
(And holy jeez guys, thank you for the overwhelming support on this)