The Forgotten Hero
Chapter 15 (FINALLY)
When I said I was going on an (and I quote) "extended hiatus", I was thinking that it would last, I don't know, a few weeks? A month at most. Well, it's been about 7-8 months since I last updated this story (sorry about that), but I intend to get this show back on the road at last. The fault is, obviously, entirely mine. The one potential upside is that in my absence, I have been reading quite a lot and hopefully it's made me a better writer.
I'll quit talking now because if I remember correctly (which is doubtful), I left you on a rather horrible cliffhanger. That was mean of me. The last thing I should say is that it might be prudent to just flick back through the last chapters to remind you where we're at, seeing as I myself could barely remember what was going on.
Blood. Blood was everywhere. It painted the soft carpets, streaked boldly down the walls, always dripping down. There was a ceaseless pitter-patter as tiny crimson drops fell slowly, tauntingly to the floor. And the stench. It hit me immediately, blocking my nostrils with its repugnant reek. I had been in many battles, more than I could count, and I knew that smell all too well. It was the smell of death.
I retreated, slamming the door behind me and falling back against the dull, colourless walls. My heart beat like a drum to a quick song. Its speed amazed me; I could have run a thousand marathons and still my heart would be only half as rapid. I slumped down, my shaking legs unable to hold the weight of my body. I was winded, my stomach feeling as though it had been hit by a demolition ball. Finally, the odour that my nostrils had picked up in my mother's apartment dissipated into the air and I gasped in relief, but my fingers still trembled. I knew what I would see if I dared to venture into that room, but my legs refused to take me there. Years of exile had made me cowardly and as a result of this, blissful ignorance seemed like the infinitely preferable option.
Finally, my pulse began to slow and my legs regained some of their strength. I stood up straight and made to walk away; I could not face the horrors that lay waiting behind that door. As I took my first step away, a tingling sensation suddenly made its way down through my head and I could hear a voice. It was soft and friendly, persuasive and reassuring, familiar despite being a voice that I had never heard before in my life. I stopped in my tracks as it told me to go back into the apartment and find what was in there. The voice was so reasonable that where just a minute ago I had decided to leave this horrible place, I was suddenly sure that the exact opposite was the right move. As my hand reached into my pocket to take the key out once more, I realised that I was not even in control of my own body any more. This did not alarm me, for I knew that it was the voice that controlled me, and I knew that said voice was my friend. Feeling reassured and confident, I opened the door and once more found myself in the corridor of the apartment where I had used to live, and where my mother still lived. The stench once again entered my nostrils and I coughed, spluttering all over the floor. My saliva mixed with the scarlet blood on the floor.
The tingling sensation in my head dissipated as quickly as it had commenced and I found myself in control of my own actions once again. Such was my confidence in the voice that had controlled my movement, I did not question why it was there in the first place. Immediately, I clasped my hand over my nose. Even this did little to block the smell of death. I took a step forward, my foot landing in a puddle of blood. Now queasy, I tried to brush it from my shoe. It was still warm.
My body was shaking once more, not in fear now, but in trepidation. I continued to walk forward, turning the corner into the living room.
The television was on, blaring out some drama that I was not familiar with. It cast light over an otherwise dark room. The blood caught in its bright gaze glinted maliciously, taunting me, for it knew my pain.
I looked to the floor and my worst fears were confirmed. My mother was dead. I collapsed onto my knees and wept.
Barely minutes after I had called for my hunters to take up arms, we were ready to leave. Tents were packed up in an instant, belongings squeezed into small bags, weapons taken out and held at the ready. There was a slightly tense atmosphere among the girls, for it was rare nowadays that I demanded such speed at such short notice. They sensed danger that we had seldom experienced since the dark days of the war and if my suspicions about Ouranos' return were true, then their suspicions were correct.
They stood in ranks as I conduced a head count, Thalia following me, peppering me with questions.
"What is happening?" She asked, frustration evident in her voice. "We all know that this is serious."
I ignored her, focusing on the head count.
My lieutenant's annoyance grew. "Why are you being so mysterious?"
Suddenly, she stopped in her tracks as she put two and two together. "This is about Percy, isn't it? It is, isn't it? You've worked out how he disappeared."
Although proud of my second-in-command's thought process, I still did not answer her. The truth was, I did not want to scare her or any of my hunters with my suspicions about Ouranos if they did not end up being true. Also, I still did not understand quite what was going on. What did Ouranos want with Percy? And how was he planning to manipulate such an incredibly strong-willed demi-god.
Thalia growled in anger. "At least tell me where we're going."
I finished my head count; all of the hunters were present and correct. Turning to Thalia at last, I answered her.
"In all honesty," I sighed. "I'm not sure. You were right about Perseus; we need to find him. But he could be anywhere."
There was a steely determination in Thalia's eyes, an expression that she always seemed to get when one of her friends was in danger. "He would have gone somewhere were I wouldn't find him, because we'd just argued. And he'd argued with you as well, hadn't he? So he would have tried to go some place where neither of us would find him."
I nodded. "Yes, we'd argued about his flirting with a hunter. He was very upset."
"Wait," said Thalia. "Why don't you just ask the other Olympians? Poseidon will know, I'm sure."
I shook my head. "I fear that if my suspicions are correct, Perseus may be in danger from my family."
"It would be a lot easier if you would just tell me what the problem is." Thalia suggested. "I don't even know why you think he's in danger."
Looking back at the hunters, who were tiring of waiting for my orders, I spoke more quietly. "You must promise not to tell anyone else what I suspect."
The Gothic girl nodded.
"I think that Perseus is being controlled by Ouranos," I explained reluctantly. "We've got to stop him before Ouranos totally takes control."
Thalia's eyes hardened further. "That explains his vanishing and his resurrection. Ouranos would have the power to do both of those, wouldn't he?"
"Exactly," I nodded. "Perseus has a strong mind. I believe this is what led Ouranos to choose him in the first place. But, his time is running out; his resistance will not last long. Ouranos will try to turn him against the Olympians, make him feel isolated and weak. This is when he will have total control over Perseus."
Thalia thought for a moment. "So he's trying to isolate Percy? He strike against the people Percy cares most about."
"Who are they?" I asked hurriedly. The patience of my hunters was wearing thin, and our time was running out.
"Me," Thalia stated. "Maybe Annabeth, although they had a falling out, and his mum."
I thought for a second, a part of me feeling inexplicably disappointed that I was not on that list. "Well, maybe he's already dealt with you. You two had that argument, didn't you?" I suggested. "And Annabeth's at Camp Half-Blood; it would be risky to strike there."
Thalia finished the process of elimination. "So it must be his mum. I know where she lives; we can be there soon."
My world was crashing down around my ears. I knelt in a pool of my own mother's blood over her body, my tears splashing down onto her skin. Her face was contorted into an expression of pure fear, the ghost of her final scream etched on. It was the only part of her body left untouched, the remainder of it having been cut and hit all over. Her blood had been spread and splashed around the apartment in such copious amounts that I wondered if there was any left in her at all. Her fingers reached out to another dead body: Paul's. His body had not been desecrated as my mother's had, leading me to believe that the culprit of this terrible evil had not much cared whether Paul lived or died. My mother's treatment was supposed to be the symbol.
I could not believe it. The woman who had put up with someone as horrible as Gabe for a massive chunk of her life just to protect me, the woman who had died to take me to Camp, the woman who made me blue food whenever I wanted, was dead. She had been my rock, the person who I had loved above anyone else. And she had died thinking that I hadn't cared about her, for I had not spoken to her in five years.
A glint of light caught my eye and looking to where it had come from, I found a sandal. This was not just a normal sandal, but a Greek sandal. I had seen ones like it in only one place: Olympus. Only the Gods wore these particular sandals, for they could not be bought in any modern day shop. An Olympian was responsible for the brutal murder of my mum.
Hatred welled up in me like a rising fire. They would pay for this, they all would.
My chariot touched down lightly on what seemed to be an average Manhattan street. It was quiet, normal, friendly; if something was amiss here then it certainly was not visible on the surface. I jumped off onto the pavement gracefully, Thalia following swiftly after. In the end I had elected to leave the rest of the hunters behind, much to their frustration, but I could not risk word of Perseus' problem spreading. If the other Olympians found out that he was potentially being possessed by Ouranos then they would not hesitate to kill him and quell the threat. I did not know why, but somehow I felt that I could not allow that to happen. Was it because I admired the boy? Perhaps. He was, after all, seemingly more strong-willed than his other male counterparts. Or maybe I felt pity for him after everything that he had undeservedly been put through. I did not dwell on this, however. We were short of time.
"Show me where." I told Thalia shortly.
Wordlessly, she led me into a large apartment building. We moved at a quick pace, the urgency of the situation not lost on either of us.
Several flights of stairs later, we arrived outside our destination's door. It was slightly open.
I turned to Thalia. "Go and wait on the stairs. Only come if I call for you."
She looked at me as if I had grown an extra head. "Are you joking? I'm going in there with you."
I shook my head. "If I'm right about Percy, he could be beyond either of us. You are an exceptionally powerful demigod, but the power of the old Gods is unequalled. Only come if I say to, or I will not trust you enough to take you on missions like this again. Understood?"
Thalia reluctantly agreed.
"And if I say run, you must run." I warned.
"You're not going to hurt Percy, are you?" Thalia asked, her voice almost childish with fear for her friend. "You will be able to get Ouranos out without hurting Percy?"
Truth be told, I was not even sure that I would be able to get the boy out at all, but I saw that there was no sense in destroying her lieutenant's hopes.
I flashed her a quick smile. "I'll do my best."
Thalia nodded and turned away for the stairs as I wiped the smile from my face.
Drawing my bow and placing an arrow on its string, I entered the apartment.
Well. I thoroughly enjoyed writing again and although that I think the quality and length of this particular chapter could have been better, I am just happy to be back.
I hope to post a few more chapters in the next six weeks and then really up the ante in the Summer holidays. We'll see. I will, of course, do my best to get as many chapters published as possible.
Thanks for reading. Reviews are gratefully accepted, of course, but there's no necessity for you to do so.
See you next time