Carthage was a refuge and a bizarre mixture of societies with both modern technology and ancient architecture, a haven of both Greece and Rome, showing in its architecture and military strength. A city of marble and steel, a sanctuary for all from the war between titans and gods that had started after World War Two had ended.
Clarisse and Nico met quietly in an empty room in the palace. Clarisse wore a blood red leather jacket with a black shirt with boots. On her back was her spear while she had a gun on her hip. The daughter of Ares, the former commander of her siblings and the Olympians’ strike force, the Olympians had allowed them to be massacred for a distraction but also in fear of that several of their number were in danger of defecting to the Titans. Clarisse had been rescued by a travelling group of nomadic refugees and joined them as they journeyed to New Carthage, at the time the city had just finished building its walls to protect itself from attack, having begun the process of turning itself from a hidden settlement to a powerhouse. It had been the then 12 year old Percy, a newly titled King, who had gained her loyalty when she had offered her sword to the army and been accepted into the royal guard though was also a leading General in New Carthage’s army.
Nico wore similar clothes to Clarisse but all in black with a long leather coat, his eyes blazed with dark fire. His ring was around his finger and he also had several knives on him that most could not see. The lost son of Hades, a shadow walker and the Prince of Ghosts, he killed for his King and was feared throughout New Carthage's lands and beyond. Hades had protected his son from Zeus wrath and paranoia at the end of World War Two, just as he had been unable to safeguard Bianca or Maria, Maria now an inhabitant of his realm and Bianca was raised among Artemis huntresses. Nico had disappeared from history, most assuming him dead with Maria. It had been Percy who had, still young, rescued Nico from the Lotus Casino on the request of his patron, Hestia, his mother had sent him on his way for his first quest without much hesitation.
Clarisse just asked, "do you think he will do it?" Nico replied softly "The question is can we? Carthage has enjoyed staying out of the war, but we are too large a power not to be approached. Undoubtedly the Titans will come, it’s not as if either side is angelic, they’ve both committed atrocities." Clarisse winced at that; she remembered the day Percy had woken up screaming about a storm while Nico had collapsed due to a sudden migraine. Zeus had unleashed his full wrath upon San Francisco City who had declared neutrality. Percy's mother had been among the dead, very few had survived, some having fled to Carthage, the other survivors fleeing to the Titans. Anti-Olympian beliefs in the city had soared, most of the residents were former soldiers or refugees who only wanted peace alike to Clarisse who had come as a child who had been born for the war and just wanted it to end. Percy had been more subdued in private since he knew who had created that storm.
Athena looked at her father saying, "Carthage is the city that controls most of the neutral territory, including part of the passage between here and Mt Kiros." Hestia sighed saying, "we could just ask you know." Hermes seemed inclined to agree with her. The two were fed up of fighting. Hermes still mourned that his favourite son Luke had defected to the titans in disgust at the Olympians after their actions in San Francisco years before. Unknown to most of the Council, the two Olympians were both worshipped in Carthage, Hermes had sent many of his children there, and he knew Hestia was fond of the king, a good man who he liked as well. Hermes just tiredly proposed, "ask for an alliance before any extreme measures, there's been enough of those." Athena and Ares glared at Hermes; Apollo contrarily voted to support the God of Thieves proposition as did a few others.
Clarisse and Drew stood at the entrance of the palace from where they saw the dignitaries of the Olympians and got ready to reveal herself. She was against this possible alliance as was Drew; both knew very well how fickle and dangerous Olympian politics could be. Drew hissed when she saw the number of armed warriors the Olympians had sent as dignitaries; Drew was a former Olympian soldier like Clarisse but had been captured and transferred her allegiance to Percy when he had saved her. Drew then spoke in a soft tone "Nico and I will be working tonight it seems. Go, General, your dramatic entrance will be later." Clarisse nodded and left, returning to where Percy was.
Percy sighed as he looked at the woman beside the head of the Greek dignitaries and blinked, saying "Lady Hestia?" Hestia smiled faintly saying "Perseus, it has been a while." Percy nodded respectfully replying "yes too long. Home and the Hearth are always welcome here." Hestia smiled brightly and moved to sit at the hearth in the throne room. Percy's eyes narrowed in on the head diplomat saying "Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena," his voice was sour, and Hestia winced as Clarisse growled as did some of the Romans in Percy's guard.
Percy chuckled darkly as Annabeth's eyes narrowed, Percy's response was "this is a city of refugees. All those who seek peace are welcome here. I know of the truth of your greatest achievement. Tell me, do you feel any regret?" Annabeth replied coldly “this is war, we fight, and we die." Nico had silently stopped Clarisse from revealing herself in rage at Annabeth’s reply as Percy's eyes narrowed in on Annabeth as he said grimly serious, "pity. You are like your mother, what would Thalia say?" Annabeth went still as a statue as Hestia intervened saying firmly "Percy. Please stop testing her. My brothers sent Annabeth as she is a warrior similar to you." Percy chuckled darkly again saying "I am king by the appointment of my people. All I see is a girl who sacrificed her morals and her own family to appease the Gods." He looked at Annabeth then said "your companions and yourself will all swear no harm to any in this city no matter their past or present unless you are in danger. And you will do so on the Styx. You have until tomorrow. Till then you are my guests if you decide not to you will be escorted out of our lands." He gestured to the servants and they were escorted to their rooms. When the doors shut, Hestia spoke softly, "thank you for having me here Perseus." Percy looked at Hestia softly as Nico came into the light asking "aunt?" The two moved towards her remembering a goddess who had protected and guided their child selves, Hestia saying "this war… my family is being torn apart. Poseidon has been ordered to devastate the city in a week." Percy's eyes narrowed as Nico asked concerned, "can you stop it?" Percy's reply was a soft "I can try. Order a garrison to start looking beyond the city for somewhere to place emergency supplies, quietly. Get the children, non-combatants and the veterans out first."
Poseidon arrived and found himself face to face with the King of Carthage who had strode towards him with confidence as he growled out, "this is a refuge, and I will not see it destroyed because some gods got impatient." Poseidon was about to vaporise the mortal then found himself soaked, the king stepped onto the sea, rising so he was at the same height as Poseidon as he growled out "father." The silence was deadly and suffocated all those near as they watched a demi-god glare down a god. Percy just snarled, "my mother was Sally if it helps. She died in San Francisco, helping their evacuation after they decided for neutrality. You swear on the Styx that there will be no attack on Carthage or its people by any Olympian force and my people will not massacre every Olympian aligned being here." Poseidon looked at Percy saying softly "Sally called you Perseus did she not? I hope you would have a happy ending for all that so many of your siblings have not." Percy nodded, Poseidon smiled slightly before he said, "I swear on the Styx I will not damage Carthage's people or city in any way and should any Olympian try, my wrath will be met upon them." Percy blinked once as thunder boomed in the distance to signal the oath being made before a smile stretched across his face as he said breathlessly, "Thank you." Poseidon smirked saying "the sea cannot be tamed, but you know that don't you?" Percy laughed suddenly seeing why Hestia commented he was like his father and Poseidon left, Percy joining his people again.
Annabeth was amazed to see that the King of Carthage was alive after confronting Poseidon and her people. He surveyed them with eyes icy cold as he said "this city will not ally itself with the Olympians. Poseidon's decision not to bury us under a wave of water aside, you came here with the intent to assassinate me and put a puppet ruler in my place. Oh, and that reminds me, may I introduce the General of the city's army?" Percy gestured to the woman in the shadows of the columns to step into the light, she did. The older Olympian forces were amazed as Clarisse stepped forwards, an ugly scar on her face as she glared at Annabeth who met her eyes unflinching. Clarisse ignored them and stood at Percy's left as he stood up, his body tired as he spoke in a regal voice "you are no longer welcome in my city for any military or political purpose. You, of course, are welcome to trade but that is only because of the affection I hold for the Lady Hestia among other members of the Olympian council.” Annabeth then standing up asked, "Why did Lord Poseidon spare you?" Percy chuckled replying, "Why don't you ask him that?"
Zeus looked at Poseidon whose throne had vanished from the council room. He stood before them in armour with a smirk on his face. Zeus then snapped "Carthage is still standing. And you swore an oath to protect it from anyone who would dare to harm it. Why has your throne gone?!" Poseidon nodded saying sagely "best choices I could have made. My throne is in Atlantis so that you won't blow it up, little brother." The entire council looked at him as Hestia giggled asking "so he told you then?" Apollo’s eyes widened sharply realising precisely what had happened. Athena then snapped "can one of you two explain?!" Poseidon's expression went serious, and his eyes narrowed in on Athena as he said "the king of Carthage is my son. The son who someone informed me was dead. And if you lay a hand on him, I will hand you over to the Titans myself. Any can use the seas but harm them, and my wrath will be upon you." Before any could act, Poseidon vanished in a swirl of seawater and Hestia disappeared in a vortex of flames, her opinion very clear as the hearth fire went out. Apollo winced as he saw Artemis’ fury written across her expression. He had hidden many of his demi-god children, keeping them safe from the war where he could, many resided in New Carthage which gave sanctuary to all and didn’t ask questions, only expected that the people left their once rivalries and hatreds behind to protect the city.
Oceanus looked at Poseidon who had announced his neutrality after decades of fighting. During the announcement, the once Olympian just said tiredly, "no more." Oceanus raised an eyebrow asking, "what prompted this change in attitude?" Poseidon replied "Zeus ordered me to destroy Carthage. My son stopped me when I returned... well I am glad I moved my throne. Deals later but a cease-fire now." Oceanus nodded once and cautiously offered his hand, his daughter Amphitrite and her son Triton, both smiled as Poseidon took it. Amphitrite smiled faintly saying "he forgets to mention Hestia also left."
Oceanus' eyebrow went higher; Zeus had doomed himself with this. His actions and arrogance in rule over the millennia had angered most of his siblings to the extent they had abandoned him when he needed them most. Hades having refused to get involved at all when the war broke out, his vengeance for Zeus' decision to murder his lover and that his daughter having been forced to take the vow of Artemis' hunters, Demeter had also remained neutral and Hestia was the first and last born of the Olympians but also the most peaceful, Zeus must have done something tremendously stupid to get her angry enough to leave Olympus, her home, along with Poseidon.
Apollo having to flee the Olympians was a shock as word spread through the US, he had argued furiously with Athena who had wished to sacrifice his children in a pointless act for morale, so he took those that would come with him and teleported them to Carthage. Severely weakened from losing his throne to Zeus rage but he slowly recovered in his temple that was within the city. When Apollo woke up, the god was looking at Nico Di Angelo who had Hades’ eyes, and he was handed a glass of nectar he took with some relish.
Luke came to Carthage and was welcomed as the Olympians own delegation had been, but he swore the vow that Percy had demanded of the Olympian forces, that no harm would come to them from him while he was in the city for negotiations. The city state was carefully neutral, they had maintained it even as Luke tried to convince them to join the Titans cause. Clarisse also had taken the opportunity to punch him in private in the nose which to be fair, he didn’t complain about, she had ample reason to.
Percy raised an eyebrow as Drew let herself fall onto his bed to relax in the sheets as she said musingly “Luke’s charming Izzie, heart eyes and everything after she nearly killed him in that fight. Nico’s mildly concerned about how scary their kids would be.” Percy laughed, placed a kiss on Drew’s cheek and let her sleep as he slipped out of bed to speak to Hestia.