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Sounds and Illusions

Chapter Text

\\\Percy's POV\\\

"So, Hero, what will you choose?" He whispered menacingly.

Percy woke up drenched in sweat again, the vicious cackle still ringing in his ears. He was frightened and rattled, his mouth open in a silent scream. Still, he was glad that he had not screamed this time. The last time he did that, the whole camp had awoken and all the campers had been worried. Annabeth, his beautiful girlfriend, had refused to leave his side for 2 days, before he could persuade her to go and rest herself.

He peeled the sweaty sheets from his body and went to the bathroom to wash his face. After he had washed his face, he stood over the basin and saw his reflection in the mirror. Gone were the clear sea-green eyes with their usual spark. In their place haunted shadows had crept in. His sun-kissed skin was all but a myth now. He was slowly regaining his color as he spent more time in the sun now. His general appearance looked like a traumatized victim and he realized that it was exactly what he was- a broken soldier, who fought in not one but two wars, on the front lines of almost every godly battle of the previous few years.

But he was scared right now. The constant visits of Tartarus, in his dreams were making the hero of Olympus anxious. Tartarus was threatening him. He knew that sometimes gods made empty threats but Tartarus had already proven that he was not a god to make irrelevant promises. Few days ago, when his scorn had angered Tartarus, Blackjack, his pegasus had been ambushed by some monsters. He had escaped but had sustained some deep injuries, though nothing which couldn't be healed. When he had asked Blackjack about the attack, the pegasus told him that he was just roaming near the beach and after that all he saw was darkness. Even Chiron had not known which monsters did it but it was obvious that they could've easily killed the pegasus. But he knew. It was Tartarus, and he was mocking him- as though he wanted to frighten the hero into succumbing to his demands.

This time however Tartarus threatened to hurt a demigod if his conditions weren't fulfilled. Percy shuddered at that. The threats were steadily growing very serious. All the demigods were his friends but he felt hopeless this time. It was only a matter of time before Tartarus threatened to kill everybody he cared for. Tartarus said he wanted his revenge for Gaea's death but Percy knew there was something else going on. There was a bigger plan.

Percy shook his head and stood up. These days he went to the lake very often to clear his head. He left the cabin and headed towards the lake. He had just touched the surface of the lake when suddenly he heard a scream...

/

Chapter Text

\\\\\Percy's POV\\\\\

The still night was pierced by a scream which came from the camp border. Percy ran towards the border and saw a black-haired demigod who was around 15 years old fighting 2 hellhounds. The boy was carrying a 2 feet long sword/knife which vaguely looked like Riptide, and killed 1 of them with a fast swipe of his blade. But now something in the air had changed. He saw a white-red glow surround the demigod briefly, before his attention was again on the fight.

Percy started to run towards them to intervene, when suddenly, one of the hellhounds sprang between him and the other hellhound... But wait, there was no 3rd hellhound... Percy saw that the hellhound (which wanted to protect him?) was Mrs. O'Leary. Before he could do anything about it, the boy glowed black-red for a second and as if in slow motion, drove his sword through Mrs. O'Leary's gut.

Percy ran forward and knelt in front of his faithful friend and pet. Mrs. O'Leary's breath was coming out labored and it turned its pleading eyes towards him, wishing for an easy death. Percy uncapped riptide and drove it through the hound.

He slowly stood up, seeing the golden dust of his pet float away, and turned around. His vision was slightly blurred because of his unshed tears so he could not see the congregation of demigods which had assembled there. Then he heard Chiron gallop towards him. He raised his eyes and the dull sea-green orbs met with disappointed brown ones. Chiron then asked him in a very soft and disappointed voice, "Perseus, did you really just stand there and let Anthony fight those hellhounds on his own? I had thought that after the war, everybody would have learnt few things, like helping fellow demigods. But I am most disappointed in you Perseus. You should have helped him."

Percy stared up at Chiron in horror. Did the centaur really think that he would leave a fellow half-blood just like that? He saw Annabeth shaking her head in a dejected manner and felt his heart break a little. He opened his mouth to explain when suddenly, a trident appeared above the new boy, Anthony's head. The demigods bowed down and Chiron said, " All hail Anthony Spencer, Son of Poseidon, the God of Seas, the Earth shaker, Storm Bringer and the Father of Horses."

/

Chapter Text

\\\\\Anthony's POV\\\\\

I am a half-blood. I already knew it. My mom had told me about it on my 10th birthday. Apparently, my father is a super powerful Greek god. But still, the fact that he hadn't contacted me even once, hurts. It would have been good to have been acknowledged for once in my life. Don't get me wrong, but my mom is not the typical doting mother. She is a workaholic and forgets that I even exist half the time. All my life, I have worked hard to stay out of trouble (though it hasn't been easy) and get the approval of my mom. But she is always so busy.

Anyways, on my 10th birthday, she came to my room, and asked me about Greek mythology. I told her what we had learnt in the library books as I liked the idea of gods and monsters. She then proceeded to tell me that I am a part of the Greek pantheon and my dad is a Greek god. She didn't mention which one though but we'll get to that later. She gave me a pen and told me that on removing the cap, the pen will turn into a sword. I have been training in Martial-arts and fencing ever since.

Recently, after my 15th birthday, the monster attacks increased, but almost always it was like the monsters had stumbled upon me and had not been searching for me, as if there was something else important and very big going on. So, I took the decision to go to this demigod camp soon.

But that decision was taken out of my hands, when as I was going home from a quick stroll through the neighborhood park, one large man with one eye came towards me muttering about tasty food. With my instincts screaming danger, I knew that this person was a monster. I ran home as fast as I could and took my emergency backpack with a change of clothes, few snacks and a stash of pocket money.

I left the house and hired a cab for Long Island. We were just outside Long Island, when the cab broke down. I swore and got out of the cab. I started running towards the camp to get there before nightfall. But it was easier said than done. It was as if every monster in the area was getting notifications that tasty meal has arrived. I was able to outrun most of them but I had to kill a few.

When I could finally see the pine tree, I released a sigh of relief. It was a sigh too soon. Suddenly, there were these large, beast like dogs around me, growling at me. I brought my sword out and prepared to fight these too, when one of the beasts lunged behind me and bit my calf. I screamed and drove my sword through the monster.

All of a sudden, the world slowed down, my mind got kind of woozy, yet my senses sharpened. Before I could comprehend it, I had already killed all 3 hounds. As the haze started clearing off, I saw a boy kneeling next to one of the monsters and wait, he was crying?! He then reached in his pocket and drew a pen like mine which also turned in a sword, albeit a longer one, and drove it through the beast.

I saw some people gathering behind and went to them. A centaur came up to me and asked me what happened. I told him how I was told by mom to come here, how I took a cab which later broke down, then monsters attacked me, how I fought those hellhounds (I was told this by a blonde girl) and how the boy behind me had most probably seen everything and yet didn't do anything.

Annabeth (so that is the blonde's name) took a look at the camper and sharply breathed in. She told Chiron (the centaur) that the camper was Percy. He also looked over to the camper (this Percy fellow) whose back was still turned and his eyes widened minutely.

As I asked who the boy was, another camper, told me that Percy was a hero and the leader of the camp. I nodded to accept it, but inside I was irritated and angry. So, this is the leader of the camp, who didn't even lift a finger to help a fellow demigod? I decided then and there to make him pay. And pay he will. That is Anthony Spencer's promise.

/

Chapter Text

\\\\\Percy's POV\\\\\

"Will you really do it, Perseus?"

I woke up and rushed to the washroom after yet another Tartarus-induced dreamscape. After throwing up all I could and dry heaving some more, my stomach settled, somewhat. I washed my face and decided to have an early shower.

As the warm water sprayed on my tense muscles, I felt them relaxing. I had started doing camp activities but still avoided the lava rock climbing because it was too soon and hit too close to Tart- that place, and both Annabeth and I suffered from the flashbacks. So, Chiron had said that rock climbing was a big no-no for us for the time being. But hopefully, the mental scars would heal with time.

As I came out of the bathroom, I saw that Anthony (or Tony as he preferred), was still sleeping, or at least trying to, while thrashing around. Maybe he also had nightmares. He had been living at the camp for a few weeks, and had settled in well with the camp life.

I couldn't help but notice that he was always staring at me (he tried to do so inconspicuously, but after the wars, I had become a tad paranoid and started noticing many different things), and maybe even comparing me to himself and how I had it easy- like I was just a puny demigod with no guts, who survived the wars. Maybe he also thought that he was some kind of a star as he had killed three hellhounds without help, one of whom had been Mrs. O'Leary. But at least while coming to camp, he did not think that his mom died and it was his fault.

Umm, faults. Also, another dilemma I am facing these days. My fatal flaw is loyalty. And seeing those people die on the battlefield is not easy. Even Octavian's death was a blow to the camps. Even if the augur wanted to destroy the camp, he had only been acting upon what had been ingrained into him since he could remember. Ok that was probably exaggeration but still, the point is that, every life counts and for every person we lost, I felt guilty. I felt guilty for deaths of so many campers- Luke, Silena, Beckendorf, Bianca, Zoë, Lee, Castor, Michael, Ethan, Leo (for some time at least), and others.

After the end of the Titan's war, Annabeth had given me many stern lectures about how it was not my fault, or her fault or anybody's fault except the titans and the gods who couldn't solve their own matters. But now, I don't even see her outside camp activities and even then, when I approach her, she says that she's busy and she will talk to me later. Afterwards, I don't know where she goes and I cannot meet her, nor does she come to talk with me. If I would guess, I would say that she had been avoiding me. But why? Is it because of Anthony and the hellhound's accident? Didn't she know that Mrs. O'Leary had been killed by that camper?

Also, these days the campers are viewing me as if I have betrayed them in the worst possible way. My inner voice has been telling me for months, before even the Titan's war started that I was at fault and that I could have saved many innocent lives. I had ignored the voice for so long, that I didn't even notice it anymore. I thought I had made improvement, but nowadays, I was constantly thinking about it. It was starting to make an impact. I had always felt guilty but now, I couldn't even muster enough courage to even make eye contact with the fallen heroes' cabin mates. They were also talking about me behind my back.

Travis and Connor had never pranked me before, saying that I was their partner-in-crime and deserved some privileges (I had accompanied them on some of their more elaborate pranks involving water). But I had been pranked twice in a fortnight. I am confused about the reason why they are doing it, but don't retaliate because I know that I deserve this and deep down, I had anticipated them to do something after I technically killed Luke. Even Chiron doesn't mind them playing pranks on me.

I had never felt so insecure and unsafe in the camp borders before.

As I was thinking about all these things, I had dressed up in the camp t-shirt and blue track pants. I went outside the cabin and started jogging towards the Zeus' fist. As I neared the fist, my trepidation grew and I uncapped Riptide. I heard some shuffling towards my left and whirled to see nothing except some outgrown bushes there. As I was turning back, I heard a groan coming from behind the bushes. I moved silently and what I saw there shocked me to the core.

There was a body of a small kid with mangled limbs strewn across the forest floor. I went near him and almost howled with anguish. The body was severely disfigured as if maimed by a very powerful hellhound or something even more vicious. But that wasn't what horrified me. It was the camper's identity. The prone form was of Sandy Jordan, an eight-year-old son of Hermes. I had accompanied the boy from his school two years back myself, when Grover had told me that a young demigod was living in vicinity of my home. He was a sweet child and unlike the rest of Hermes children, did not get into trouble much.

Another groan from the child brought me out of my musings. I picked the child up and ran towards the big house and hoped that one of the Apollo campers had woken up.

/

Chapter Text

\\\\\Chiron's POV\\\\\

There is a change in the atmosphere.

It has been subtle and building since Gaea's fall but today, it is more prominent than ever. I can almost taste it and it makes me shudder. Somehow, the arrival of another son of Poseidon has strengthened the invisible power. It is as if a restraint has broken somewhere.

It makes me uneasy to think that only months after the second Giant War, something big is again going to happen. These demigods deserve the peace, but maybe, it is just not meant to be. Whatever this is, I pray to the gods of Olympus that whatever happens, it doesn't bring another fight, but I know instinctively, that this is wishful thinking. There just isn't a reprieve for the demigods.

 

As I was thinking about it, a knock came from outside the door of the big house. I went and opened it and nearly slammed it close again.

Standing there, on the deck, was Percy, whose clothes were drenched in sweat and blood. But my attention was on the lump of mass which was in his arms. The body was unrecognizable. An unexplainable anger towards the boy carrying the injured person almost consumed me for an instant. Again, the aura swept through the room and I saw a shadow of something pass over Percy's eyes. Before I could recognize it, it was gone, as Percy also focused on the child he was carrying.

Percy hurriedly explained to me how he had gone for an early morning walk and thought that a monster had come inside the camp borders. He told me how instead of the monsters, he had found Sandy who had almost bled to death by that time. He told me that after stopping the blood flow from the most grievous of the wounds, he had brought the child to the big house. That explained the blood on his clothes.

I took hold of the child and immediately set pace for the infirmary. I told Percy, "Luckily, there are two Apollo kids bunking in the infirmary right now. Something about how the girls had made their life difficult in past few weeks because of some overheard remark."

Percy sighed, a bit relieved and asked me, "I'm glad they're already here. I was going to rush over to the cabin afterwards and call them otherwise."

I didn't respond as we had reached the infirmary. As we entered, I went to a bed and laid down the injured kid on it. I promptly started chanting and healing Sandy. Percy went and woke Austin and Will. Both of them grumbled about being woken up at the ungodly hour, but as soon as they saw that there was an injured person in the infirmary, they both went into their healing personas and got to work.

 

Percy saw that the Apollo campers got a little confused when they saw the wounds on Sandy. Austin asked Chiron, "Did the boy get out of the camp?". I shook my head and muttered a terse negative.

"Chiron, have our defenses been breached? How did any monster get inside camp borders? What type of monster can do this?" asked Will, gesturing towards the still prone form of the Hermes camper. As I saw the wounds on the bloodied back of the small demigod, I remembered the last time I had seen wounds like this. The memories brought another shiver up my spine and I replied, "The last time I saw wounds like this, the children were not being healed, they were being buried." I ignored the gasps and continued, "These wounds are most probably inflicted by Lamia." On seeing their confused glance, I elaborated, "She was a Libyan queen, a daughter of Hecate who was cursed by Hera to eat her own and other's children." This was followed by horrified looks from the three conscious demigods.

Percy broke the silence and questioned, "But still she did not kill Sandy. I wonder why?" I was thinking about it when Percy muttered, "It's as if a statement is being made…" I didn't hear the rest and missed the look of horror that passed on Percy's face. After that, he was quiet as the three of us continued to fix the injuries of the patient.

Finally, after sometime and some grueling healing and chanting, Sandy's condition was stabilized. He would have some permanent scarring but most of the wounds would heal without scarring.

I looked outside the window, and saw that it was nearing breakfast. As if in response to my thoughts, the conch horn blew for breakfast.

I took another long look at the demigod lying on the bed and the one who brought him here. Something told me that today is going to be a long day.

/