Ashes

Chapter 1: Found

Percy's sword spun through the air, whirling and humming before meeting with a clang the blade of his teacher, Daedalus. Daedalus grunted and took a half-step back from Percy, who immediately took advantage and launched a kick at his shins, followed by an elbow to the side of the head. Daedalus dropped, sword falling just out of reach. Percy held his sword to his throat. "Yield?" he asked inquiringly.

Daedalus grinned. "Not quite yet." With almost no warning, he swung his legs up and hit Percy in the gut. He staggered backwards, doubled over. Daedalus rolled to his feet, sword in hand. He lunged forward, but Percy had recovered by now, and with a shake of his wrist, a shield appeared in time to block the blow. Releasing his hold on it, the shield vanished, and he swung a quick blow towards Daedalus's side. Daedalus just barely managed to slip away from the blade and spin around, smacking Percy in the back of the head with the pommel. Percy stumbled forward, but he had expected the attack. He turned his stumble into a roll, throwing himself backwards and under Daedalus, who tripped and fell flat on his face. Percy planted a foot into between his shoulder blades and held to sword next to his neck.

"Now do you yield?" he asked again. Daedalus chuckled.

"You got me this time, Percy." He said. "I yield." Percy stepped away and helped Daedalus to his feet.

"Good, because I was beginning to think I'd have to take your sword-arm in order for you to stop." Percy joked.

Daedalus laughed. "I don't know if you would really be good enough to do that, Percy." He said, sheathing his fallen sword.

"You'd be surprised." Percy replied.

"Oh, I bet I would. Seems like that sword and shield are working really well." Percy let go of his sword, and it vanished inches away from the floor. Tapping his pointer and middle fingers together, the blade reappeared in his hands, followed by his shield due to a shake of his wrist.

"You bet. Ingenious work, Daedalus." The old man grinned.

"That's nothing, boy. I once made a Rubix cube that turned into a massive war hammer. I think the owner still has it, actually."

Percy sat down, looking around the small workshop in Chicago where they lived. His mother had died in childbirth, and the goddess Athena had found him when he was eight and on the run from a Sphinx. She had given him to Daedalus to care for, who had trained him in the art of swordsmanship. Ever since his sixteenth birthday, which was a year and a half ago, he had felt something important. A yearning, and the sense that he had missed something huge. Everyone had heard about the freak storm that blew into New York, but no one knew what to think. But when that storm died…it seemed like something else died inside of Percy as well.

Shaking his head, he pulled his mind away from such unpleasant thoughts. After a moment, he spoke up. "Daedalus, what happened to your old workshop?" he asked.

The old man froze. "I told you already, Percy, while you were away chasing that Cyclops, I dropped a match on a project, and then the whole place went up in flames."

"Daedalus, I know that isn't what really happened. There were dust motes of monsters in there, and a scrap of cloth that looked like it came from a shirt."

Daedalus sighed, turning his head away from Percy. "I guess I should tell you." He said reluctantly. "A couple of demigods like you were on a quest. It took them through the Labyrinth, and eventually they found me. The Titan Kronos was rising, and they needed my help to stop his armies. But it was too late. They had arrived, and at my shop. The demigods tried to fight them, but they were too few. I set the shop to explode, and got them out of there. I myself barely made it out alive. The Labyrinth began collapsing, and I had to leave. A year later, a great battle was fought in New York, and Kronos fell. So they must have made it out."

"And you came here." Percy finished. Daedalus nodded. Percy clasped his hands together. "So…so I'm not alone."

Daedalus looked up. "What?"

"All my life, I've thought I was the only demigod on this continent. You've trained me, helped me, sheltered me, but I've never met anyone who was really like me. I always wondered if I was the only half-blood. And you kept this from me?" Daedalus looked ashamed.

"It was only to protect you. If you ran off any time before now, Death would have claimed you. I couldn't let that happen."

"Any time before now?" Percy said, standing up. Daedalus winced at his mistake.

"I didn't mean-." He began, but Percy cut him off.

"Any time before now?" he repeated.

Daedalus sighed and hung his head. "Yes. You are…ready, now." Percy turned away. "Where are you going?" Daedalus asked.

"To find those other demigods." Percy said. Daedalus groaned.

"No, Percy, you don't understand. You can't go, not now."

"You just said I was ready." Percy retorted.

"You don't know yet! Athena told me-!"

"Athena?" Percy said, spinning around to face him. "What does Athena have to do with this?"

"Athena delivered you to my care. She told me to watch over you until…." He trailed off, his eyes shifting to behind Percy.

"Until what?" Percy asked. Upon finding no response, he followed Daedalus's view and blinked in surprise, stumbling backwards. A woman, wrapped in soft glowing white robes, stood before him. "Who are you?" Percy asked.

The woman looked him straight in the eyes, and instantly he knew. "Athena." He whispered, dropping to his knees.

"Oh please, Perseus, stand up." The woman said, waving her hand in an irritated manner. "All this kneeling really wears on you after a few millennia." Percy scrambled to his feet, bumping into Daedalus, who jumped and grunted oddly.

"Why have you come, goddess?" he asked formally.

"You have done a good job on his etiquette, I see." Athena remarked to Daedalus.

"I did my best, Athena." He said, grinning.

Athena turned to face him. "Percy, I have come to give you a mission." Waving her hand, and glowing image appeared in front of her. Four kids rode on the back of what looked like to be a dragon. Strangely, it seemed to be metal. "These four demigods are going to embark on one of the most dangerous quests known to man tomorrow. They will need you to shadow them, and help them when necessary. For there will be a time where they will need your blade to shelter them."

The image vanished, and her voice gained intensity. "The giant king Porphyrion rises, and has captured the queen of the gods. They go to free her. But you must help them, or all will be lost."

Percy blinked. "Giant king?"

Athena continued, unperturbed. "What happened in the old is happening again, and you are the key. They ride north to find the wind. Go now, Perseus Jackson, or all will be lost."

Percy shook his head slightly. "Wait, what? Where are they? What's the wind? Who are they?" But she just winked once at Daedalus and vanished. Percy stared at the spot where she had disappeared. "Well that didn't help." He said to the air.

"Well, champ, now you finally get to meet some of your friends." Daedalus said, grinning slightly. Percy glanced over at him.

"Oh, shut up." He grumbled. He began searching around for supplies for the "quest", all the while grumbling uncomplimentary things about the gods and them being unnecessarily mysterious.

"I have an idea of where to start looking." Daedalus offered. Percy didn't answer, still muttering. "Try Quebec, in Canada." Percy looked up in surprise. "They ride north to find the wind, which must mean the North Wind, Boreas." Daedalus explained. "He's…living in Quebec now." Percy nodded, smiling, and then continued his search.

"Percy." Daedalus said. When Percy looked up, Daedalus was holding a backpack. "It's got everything you need for your journey." Percy took the pack and looked inside, blinking in shock at the contents. Ambrosia, nectar, a map, a big wad of cash, explosive knives, smoke grenades, small washers that turned into razor-edged discuses when held just right….Daedalus was right; it was everything he'd need. Looking up, he saw a proud look on the old man's face, but a look of sadness, too.

Dropping the pack, Percy stood and embraced Daedalus in a bear hug. Daedalus squeezed him back. Ever since he was little, Daedalus had been a father to him; he'd watched over him, fed him, trained him, and now Percy was leaving. He pulled away from him, though reluctantly. Daedalus put a hand on his shoulder. "I'll miss you Percy." He said quietly.

"I'll miss you to." Percy said.

Daedalus pulled out the map. "It's enchanted." He explained. "It will show you where you ask it to led you, and will show you your current location and how to get there as well." Percy held it, examining it closely.

After a moment, he said, "Show me Boreas's home." A small dot glowed to life in the middle of Quebec. Another showed him in Chicago, and a red line drew itself from Chicago to Boreas.

"Will you take Arion?" Daedalus asked. Percy nodded. Daedalus exhaled slowly. "Well good luck then." He said. Percy nodded again, unable to speak. Shouldering the pack, he went to the back of the workshop, in an alley. Taking out a brass whistle, he blew three sharp, piercing notes on it, only able to be heard by the sounder and the summoned. A minute or so later, a blur shot into the alley, stopping in front of him. The proud stallion stood in front of him, tossing his mane and stomping his hoof. He bent his head for Percy to stroke.

"Hey Arion, good to see you again." He said, hand on Arion's nose. The horse whickered in response, and his voice rang in Percy's head. 'Sup, Perce. Percy grinned and hoisted himself up on Arion's back.

Take me to Boreas's palace in Quebec. Percy said. Arion snorted and shook his head, eyes rolling to face him. What do you want with that grumpy old geezer, man? He asked.

It's not what I want, it's what they want. He responded.

Whatever you say, dude. Arion reared, and then they were shooting off through the city, speeding north towards Boreas and Percy's four charges.

Line Break

Luke sat on the back of the dragon, which Leo had named Festus. He did his best not to look down. "Are you sure this thing is safe?" he asked. Leo grinned insolently at him.

"'Course it's safe, bro. But hey, if we end up plummeting a few thousand feet to our deaths, you have my permission to kill me." Piper punched his arm.

"Shut up, Leo." She said. Annabeth snickered in front of him. Luke felt for his sword, hanging by his waste.

"You know, for a guy who rode a giant pig in the battle for Olympus, it seems kind of odd that you're scared of heights." Leo continued. Piper and Annabeth frowned at his back. Luke gritted his teeth.

"Shove off, Valdez. First of all, it was not my idea to ride the pig, and second, that was only fifty feet or so above the ground. This is…different."

Leo chuckled. "All right man, chill. Just thought it was kind of odd, that's all." They fell into an uncomfortable silence. Finally, Piper spoke up, just to change the subject.

"Remind me why we're going to find the North Wind again? In the middle of Canada, no less." She said.

Luke replied, "We need to find those storm spirits, and who better to ask than an air god?" Short and sweet. Piper nodded, and they lapsed into silence again.

Finally, Leo said, "You guys get some sleep. I'll wake you when we reach Boreas's place." Piper nodded reluctantly and leaned forward, resting against his back. She was snoring quietly within minutes. Annabeth leaned back against Luke, eyes drifting shut. Luke put his arms around her, and she muttered something to him, but she too was asleep almost instantly. But Luke felt too awake to sleep. And his sleep was never good.

"Luke, you've had a rough day, and you're only seventeen. Sleep would do you a lot of good." Luke tried to shake his head, but it was as if Leo's words had shut off his brain. He drooped forward over Annabeth and was soon asleep.

He was shut in a dark room. Not even a sliver of light penetrated under the door, the door he could feel. Backing away, he kept his eyes fixed on the spot where the door should be. He kept expecting to bump into the wall any second, but it never happened, just as he was turning around, he took another step and dropped.

Luke plummeted, seemingly forever. Eventually, it felt like he was floating rather than falling. Then he became aware of another force, another entity nearby. "Leave me alone!" he yelled, reaching for his sword. But it wasn't there. A dark voice laughed, slowly, from all around him.

"You are mine, Luke Castellan, and you can't escape." It said. Luke snarled.

"You have no hold on me! I have broken from your control." He yelled, defying the shadowy being.

"You cannot break away from me, demigod. I had a grip on you once, and I can and will take one again." The being rumbled.

Luke cursed at the darkness. "I did what you wanted. Why are you still here?"

The shadow laughed. "Because you did not do all of what I wanted. You will help me again, or else…." A vision appeared, unbidden, in Luke's mind. Fire rolled over the world, destroying everything he knew. Giants strode across it, enslaving all that lived. The gods were cast down to Tartarus. And a sinister face ruled behind it all.

"Noooo!" Luke yelled. With a start, he jerked awake, shivering. Leo was looking over his shoulder at him.

"You cool, bro?" he asked, cracking a grin. Luke put a hand to the long scar that Ladon had given him, along his cheek. It burned with renewed vigor. Wincing, he dropped his hand. That always happened when the shadow spoke to him. "Yeah." He said, trying to control his breathing.

"Well it's about to get a lot cooler!" Leo said, grinning. Piper woke with a start, looking around wildly. Annabeth muttered something and slowly opened her eyes. Luke hastily removed his arms. "Welcome to Quebec, people." Leo said. They looked around to see the snow-ridden land a blur beneath them. "And Boreas's place is just ahead." He added, waving towards a palace that was rapidly coming into view.

Then they saw two purple-winged angels coming towards them, and Luke had a bad feeling that they would not receive a warm reception from the North Wind.