It was just a bitter thought. An errant musing that had no place in the grand scheme of things. But once it existed, there was no going back. The status quo had been judged and found wanting. A sequence of events had been started that would not end until the world had been changed forever.
He was only eleven. A boy thrust into a world he didn’t need or want. Forced to watch his mother disintegrate before being conscripted into a fight that wasn’t his own. Then after all of the pain and fear, even when he was successful in his mission, there was still only the threat of death. No reward or gratitude, no explanations or answers. Just an assumption that he should be glad to have been of use. That was the last straw. Then came the bitter thought. The errant musing. The pebble that starts the avalanche.
They don’t deserve to be that powerful.
In the mind of Percy Jackson a single thought was conceived. A thought that would bring about the end of the Pantheon of Olympus.
The longer he lived in this world of gods and monsters, the more he was convinced that his friends around him felt as he did. As they worked to serve their supposed parents, the dark looks became less and less rare. Or perhaps they had always been common but they had been too young to notice. The unreasonable nature of the gods made them few friends. Even amongst their own offspring.
The dark looks became whispered comments which Chiron, their beloved teacher, had always reprimanded them for. “Do not say things like that! They can hear you!” But then they remembered when Chiron had been banished for his relationship to the enemy. The hypocrisy burned.
They themselves were the children of the Titans! Who were they to judge others?
These were the words all wanted to say but none dared. Chiron was right. The only safe place was the inside of their head. Even after he returned, his enthusiasm towards the gods was never the same. But there was work to do, grievances we forced to wait.
At least, until people started dying.
Every one of them a friend.
Every one of them a child.
Every one of them a hero.
They died due to the arrogance and hubris of the gods. Their deaths could have been prevented if only the gods had seen them as something to be protected. But to their divine parents, they were nothing but cattle. Raised for slaughter.
At the age of sixteen, Percy finally recognised the truth. That the praise coming from Mount Olympus was hollow and bitter. That the gods were not grateful, they were annoyed that they needed to be rescued by lesser beings. That each of the gods would sacrifice their own children if it meant continuing their reign. After five years of war, Percy Jackson realised that he had fought on the wrong side.
In that moment he felt a hatred he had never known before, and as her fingers gripped his and squeezed tight, he knew that Annabeth felt it too. The worst part had been when they offered to share with him their divinity. Percy would never understand how he had managed to hide the overwhelming repulsion that he had experienced at their so called reward.
Then his memories were taken. Once again he was thrust unwillingly into a fight that was not his. Sent to a people he did not know and forced to work with at great risk to his own life. And while he was with the Romans, Annabeth was searching for him desperately and cursing the gods all the while.
First the gods had abandoned her to the fates. Leaving a child to fend for herself against monsters. Then they had taken the one of her only friends from her. Thalia, as close to an older sister as she had ever known, gave her life for Annabeth’s safety and instead of healing her she was transfigured into a tree. Then years later Luke was corrupted by the bitterness that he had every right to feel. But he did not just accept the supposed natural order; he sought to do something about it.
And so, she vowed, would they.
Once she had found Percy, they were embroiled in yet another war on behalf of the gods. During this they met new friends; it was not long before their shared hatred of the gods made them allies. Jason Grace whose mother had lost her sanity, and then her life, due to her entanglements with the gods. Hazel LeVesque, a mighty enchantress, who was forced to sacrifice her mother’s life. Leo Valdez had been manipulated into burning his own mother alive. Piper Mclean allied herself with their silent cause when she saw the joy her mother felt playing with the hearts of mortals. Frank Zhang was the last of their seven to turn. He held no love for his father in his heart but loyalty flowed through his veins. And it was loyalty to the family that had fought with him that swayed Frank, as opposed to the family that had used him.
As the war with the Giants waged on, others joined them. Nico and Reyna were the first, but slowly others trickled into the fold. Swelling what was already a truly formidable group. Greek and Roman both. All dedicated to the destruction of the gods. Their time was over.
They had grown since the last war; their eyes had been opened. They were wiser than before. Which was why they knew they had no choice but to fight for their parents. The giants were destroyed and both Camps were brought together. A unity that had never before existed. The Titans were gone, the Giants were gone. If ever there was a time to destroy the gods, to free the universe from their selfish machinations, it was now. And when Apollo was sent down to live as a human, it was almost like an opportunity from heaven.
Percy was the first one to find out. He let all the others know via their own personal communication system. They had eschewed using Iris messages. They gathered in a location only known to these nine. It had been spelled to be unknowable to any of those who would down from their lofty perch.
“Apollo is fully mortal” Percy declared to the rest. “Zeus, apparently, is not too happy with him”.
“Of course he isn’t” Jason grumbled, “Anything that is a minor inconvenience to him must be dealt with”.
“Good. We can deal with Apollo first”. The fire burned bright in Annabeth’s eyes, “we’ll deal with him right here”.
The plan was formed and the moment had come. The first step on the road to a world ruled by the laws of nature. Instead of a fickle and jealous theocracy. Apollo, as selfish and vain as he had been as an immortal, was lured to their cavern. Once he had been told that they may have found a way to restore his godhood, Apollo insisted on being shown immediately. Nico and Will walked him in and sealed the entrance behind them.
“Where is it!” he demanded, dead swivelling around the cavern. “Where is this artifact that shall remove my mortality?”
“It’s right here” said Will, and as Apollo turned, he drove the knife into his father’s chest. Apollo gasped; the air pushed from his lungs. Blood began pouring from his wound, covering Will’s hand even as he held onto the handle. The whole blade was shaking from Apollo’s tremors and a stronger pulse that was the slowing beat of his heart.
He could not comprehend it. The former god could not understand being betrayed by his son. Even as the knife was ripped from his chest and he crumpled to the floor, he could not conceive of anyone having a reason to hate him.
Will dropped the knife onto Apollos body and raised his hand to stare at the blood covering his skin. Nico moved closer to his boyfriend, “you did it!” he said.
“Not yet” argued Jason, “Lets see if we get struck down before we start celebrating”. Nico rolled his eyes but recognised the wisdom in his words. They waited with bated breath, each of them asking the same questions. Would the spells truly withstand the power of Olympus? Would their godly parents know what had happened? Would they live to see the morning?
With each passing second, hope grew. Hope that their rebellion would not end just as it began. Hope that they would live through this.
“I think we’re in the clear”, Percy said the words everyone had been thinking. Annabeth showed her agreement by grabbing him in a fierce embrace. As if a dam had broken, the air was suddenly full with the exultant cries of those who had received a stay of execution. Every one of them had been prepared to die for this cause. To start something that they would never see finished. But just because they had been prepared to die, doesn’t mean they wanted to.
Slowly they began leaving their fortress, which had proven its might superior against that of the gods. Nico had controlled the earth to swallow Apollo’s blood and body. “What next?” asked Hazel, whilst they were all still gathered. Reflexively they all turned to Percy and Annabeth, waiting to hear how they would move forwards.
“We were lucky”, Percy began. “Apollo being cast down as a mortal was a stroke of luck that we can’t expect again”.
“Agreed. We have started and now we must see this through to whatever end”, Annabeth made eye contact with each of them. “There will be no forgiveness or mercy for what we have done. If we do not succeed, we will die”. In the silence that followed, she saw no trepidation on their faces. Every one of them was dedicated to this cause. “Knowledge and stealth are our two greatest weapons. We need to know how to defeat them in their immortal forms, and we need to learn about it subtly. Don’t get caught”.
As they spread out to find the information they needed, the phrase “don’t get caught” became a prayer. Words to whisper as they slowly and surely moved against the gods. Each one tapped their own unique resources. Hazel plumbed the depths of her magic, requesting tutelage from the most powerful witches she knew. Apprenticed to Circe and then Hecate herself. Annabeth used her position as the architect of Olympus to gain access to their libraries. Their arrogance never once allowing them to believe that she would use their own knowledge to plot their downfall. Little by little, they garnered the information that would be instrumental in toppling this regime once and for all.
“This is something I’ve been holding onto”, Percy declared as he dropped a round package onto their table. It landed with a dense thud, and rolled until the phrase ‘Return to Sender’ was visible on the front. Annabeth gasped.
“I can’t believe you kept it” she whispered.
“What exactly is it?” asked Jason. He was eyeing the package with no small amount of curiosity, knowing it was a weapon against the gods but nothing else.
“Have you ever seen your sisters shield Jason?” Percy waited for an answer and eventually Jason tore his gaze from the package and shook his head. “Thalia’s shield was a gift from her father. In the centre of it is a copy of Medusa’s head”. He reached forward and rested his hand on the package. “This is the original”. This time everyone looked shaken.
“Of course you’d have the head of Medusa” Nico said in disbelief.
“I’d offer to show you but you are not the intended victim”. Percy raised his voice to sound through the whole cave. “This head will petrify all those who meet its gaze. The gods are not impervious to its effects. They will turn to stone and remain that way until we shatter them into dust”. Savage grins appeared on various faces throughout the space.
“We can use this one next. Her brother has vanished, Artemis will come looking and this is the last place he was seen”. Annabeth stared at the decapitated head as she spoke. “When Artemis comes down, she won’t be some powerless human, but a god in full control of her powers. She will be the real test”. The rest of the team nodded in agreement.
“I can hide the head from her senses”. All heads turned towards Hazel. “I can feel something weird coming from that thing. And if i can then Artemis definitely can and she’ll know something's up”. Annabeth nodded in agreement.
“Good idea. And if you can hide all of these that would be ideal”, she gestured to the runes and glyphs painted around the cavern. The very things hiding them from Olympus. “She could very well recognise them. Even as a god, Apollo was pathetic. Artemis is far superior to him. She is the goddess of the hunt. We cannot be prey”.
She paused for a heartbeat, unnoticeable unless you knew her well enough. Percy moved his hand forwards to grip hers and feel her squeeze back. “Will the...have you heard from your sister?” Annabeth’s voice was hesitant, nervous, as she addressed the son of Jupiter. The expression on his face was difficult to understand.
“No. Not for a while”. He didn't speak any further. Jason simply waited until Annabeth nodded. Everyone is the room understood. When they dealt with Artemis, they would make enemies out of Thalia and the Hunters as well. It was a shame. Compared to Zeus and Poseidon and the like, she acted with relative decency. But that wasn’t saying much. Besides she could not be allowed to live if they were to challenge her family.
It did not take long for the sister to come looking for her brother. A singular stroke of luck resulted in Artemis appearing at their cave alone; her Hunters were nowhere to be seen. She had noticed the absence of her brothers energy and tracked him through the city, through the camp and directly to their door. The difference between her and Apollo was astounding. Artemis radiated power. They had all been in the presence of the gods before but this was...different.
Normally they reined in their authority so as not to incinerate the mortal who would do their bidding. But Artemis, either in her worry or in her anger, was only barely keeping herself from vaporizing them where they stood.
“Where is he?” Her voice was impossible. As if she spoke in every frequency they could hear and every one they couldn’t. A terrible cacophony of perfectly understandable english. Each of them flinched at the assault on their ear drums.
“M-My Lady we-” though they all lounged outside their cave it was only Annabeth who summoned the strength to talk. Even then it felt like there was a terrible pressure upon her mind to only speak the truth.
“Do not try to lie to me Annabeth Chase. It would be the last thing you ever do”. Her gaze was terrible to behold.
“He-he was last seen in that cave My Lady. After that we do not know”. Annabeth held her head in her hands and squeezed to alleviate the pain. Artemis recognised the truth in her words and stalked forwards through the entrance. The moment the god passed the boundary her effect lessened greatly, almost completely. But they were smart enough not to show their relief straight away. The magic of the cave would protect the demigods from her power, and then Hazel would manipulate the mist so that Artemis would see what she expected to. A group of Demigods following her around, staggered by her presence when in reality they stood tall and strong.
Artemis inspected the cavern, standing on the very spot that Apollo’s body had fallen. She would permit no one to speak as she looked for any sign of her brother, unaware that the magic at work would prevent her from ever finding one. Percy walked towards her and everyone else closed their eyes. He reached down behind a pile of loose rocks and picked up the head of Medusa. It had already been unwrapped and the son of Poseidon made sure to grip it firmly to avoid any unpleasant accidents. He held it low, the lethal gaze aimed at the floor as he walked up and stood behind the goddess.
“Artemis, perhaps this would help”. Artemis turned around, as much from the words as from the tone he spoke in. Insolent and defiant. She spun around, her dark hair fanning out, ready to strike Percy down in her fear for her brother and met the eyes of a decapitated head.
The effect was instantaneous. Her eyes turned to stone first. Her grey eyes did not change colour, they simply stopped moving. Like a ripple in a pond, the greyness passed over Artemis completely. Her pale skin turned ashen grey and her hair was trapped before it could come to rest. In less time than a heartbeat, the goddess Artemis had been replaced by a remarkably lifelike statue of a beautiful young woman.
Percy stepped back and turned around, head still held away from him. Annabeth was waiting for him, eyes squeezed shut with an open bag in her hands. Medusa was dropped in and the thick black bag closed tight. Percy then took that bag and dropped it into another and sealed that as well before stashing it behind the rocks. Only then did he declare it safe for everyone to open their eyes.
They did so eagerly. By virtue of still being alive, they knew Artemis was no more. Every single one of them wanted to see the goddess of the hunt, made prey. Someone gasped but no one mocked them for it for it was truly a wondrous sight. Only Percy and Annabeth, in Aunty Em’s Gnome Emporium, had seen a statue made by Medusa’s gaze before. For everyone else it was the first time they had seen the perfection wrought from Medusa’s curse. There was no distortion to her face or body. Her eyes were just as fierce as they had been when she fought Atlas. The lines of worry for Apollo were as fine as they had been when she still breathed. Each strand of hair was perfectly preserved.
Artemis stood before them, in all of her terrible, perfect beauty.
Nico moved towards her, holding a sledge hammer.
“You took my sister from me”. The hatred in his voice was something none had heard before. Except Percy. He had heard it aimed at him. But now it was focussed on the statue before them. Nico lifted the sledgehammer with ease; he was no longer the skinny child he had once been. With every ounce of strength and every drop of hatred, Nico pivoted and drove the solid piece of metal into the centre of the statue.
The figure flew backwards, a dent in her chest with cracks spreading outwards like a spiderweb. Artemis fell flat to the ground and stared unseeing as Nico positioned himself over her and lifted the hammer once more. From over his head, he allowed it to fall under its own weight before augmenting its descent with his own power. This time the statue shattered.
The torso exploded into many pieces while the arms, legs and head broke off. Shrapnel flew randomly around the cave and dust filled the air. Everyone else shielded their eyes as Nico took his weapon to each of the limbs. When only the head remained, he knelt down and picked it up off of the ground and placed it on the table.
“I would really appreciate if all the dust in the air could drop to the floor” said Piper in her kindest voice. The air cleared immediately as the floating dust did exactly as it was asked. Next she requested that all the shards of stone dissolve into the ground and the floor became clear. “Don’t expect me to always clean up after you”, Piper quipped as she moved forwards to see the head.
They each took turns to inspect what remained of the goddess. There was no loud celebration this time. Only a quiet confidence. They could do this. They would do this. As Percy watched his friends gather around a petrified head, he wondered if they would ever be rid of this fear that took them whenever killed a god. ‘Hopefully we’ll never be stupid enough to be unafraid’ he thought to himself.
“STOP!” Nico had just raised his hammer for what would have been the final time that day, when Annabeth shouted out. She moved forwards and picked up the head. “Nico, Hazel, can you tell if this is ordinary rock?” The two shared a look of great confusion. “Just humour me please”. With a shrug they both touched the head and closed their eyes. After a moment they both began frowning.
“This isn’t normal stone at all. This is something…”.
“Weird”, Hazel finished her brothers thought.
Annabeth fished around in her pocket and then pulled out the smallest sliver of material. “Is it similar in any way to this?” Nico held out his palm and when Annabeth dropped that mystery item onto it, Hazel covered it with her own and once again they both began to concentrate.
“What... I don’t know what you’ve given us Annabeth, we’ve never seen it before”
“I know but are the two similar? Hazel, do you think with your magic and Piper’s Charmspeak you could turn the head into this stuff?” the excitement in Annabeth’s voice was palpable and Percy began to wonder if his suspicions were correct. Hazel removed her hands and brought them back to herself.
“I think so yes, but I’d need Nico as well. To be sure. What is that stuff?” Hazel asked. Percy began to speak but was cut off.
“It’s Adamant. Isn’t it?” Jason answered. Percy scowled at the impressed look that formed on his girlfriends face.
“Yeah you’re right. It is”.
“I knew that too. Just saying”. Percy spoke quietly enough that only Annabeth heard. She rolled her eyes but smiled at him as she took his hand in hers.
“Adamant is the hardest substance in the universe”, she said. “The sickle Kronos used on Ouranos and that Zeus used on Kronos in turn was made of Adamant. But there doesn’t seem to be any more to be found. I got that tiny piece from the library on Olympus. I figured if we can’t find some maybe we could make some. Medusa turned normal people into stone but it turns out that gods and goddesses get turned into something else. And if Leo can melt that head down then we can forge the molten rock and then turn it into a weapon that can cut the Pantheon to pieces”.
There was a stunned silence. Everyone was looking towards Annabeth with respect and fear; which made her feel more than a little bit smug. Piper cleared her throat, “if all the dust and pieces of Artemis could come back up and make a nice little pile, that would be the best”. Like oil separating from water, a pool of white seeped upwards from the floor then gathered into a substantial collection. Everyone looked between the stone and Piper. “Well now we have more material”.
The remains of Artemis found their way back to Bunker 9 where Leo began the process of crafting them into weapons. Several of his brothers and sisters knew what he was doing, and for what purpose, and helped as best they could. It took three weeks of working until he couldn’t lift his arms but he managed it. He refused to forge a sickle.
He managed to make three short swords, five long knives and several arrowheads which Frank eagerly claimed. The assortment of weapons were transported back to the cave. Annabeth had argued that the gods would not take too kindly to their children creating new Adamant weapons and everyone had agreed. Hazel had prepared her sorcery, Nico his will and Piper was ready to reintroduce alchemy to the world.
It began at midnight, under a full moon, and lasted a day and a night. By the end, they were all exhausted but they looked down at the first new Adamant in eons. Jason picked up one of the daggers and threw it at the wall. There was no resistance. The blade sunk into the rock face as if the wall didn’t exist. It only stopped when the hilt, common steel, met the rock. The grins around the cave were almost savage as they pictured the blade cutting into divine flesh.
They agreed that it would be easier to continue taking out the children of Zeus. Jason cleared his throat pointedly.
“You know what I mean”, Percy said. “Apollo and Artemis are already gone. So we look to Ares, Athena, Hephaestus and Dionysus next. Chip away at their support. Good practice for us and it’ll make the task of killing the big ones slightly easier”. They all thought it over as they lounged about the cave. Leo had decided it was far too spartan and brought in bean bag chairs and soft couches.
“And who are the big ones?”, asked Frank, “Just so we all know”.
“Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Demeter and Hestia”.
“The original children of the Titans”, Annabeth expanded. She had laid down on the couch, head on her boyfriends lap. “They have always been the ones to cause the most damage”.
“Except for Hestia. She has always been nice”. Everyone nodded in agreement with Percy. But they all knew they couldn’t pick and choose. They all needed to go.
“What about Aphrodite and Persephone?” Piper inquired from a bean bag chair. They all looked to Percy and Annabeth. They had become the unspoken leaders of this revolution. They did not rule with an iron fist but rather brought everyone in on the planning and tried to avoid pitting one against the other. It worked well.
“Persephone isn’t a true Olympian but I can’t imagine we can destroy her husband and mother and expect her to be cool with it”, Annabeth began. “The attack on Persephone will have to be timed perfectly. I learned that her transition between summer and winter is linked to her strength. Strong in both places but weaker in between. We have to strike while she’s travelling. Hazel, I want you, Leo and Frank to work on a plan to take her out and not get caught”. The daughter of Pluto nodded and sat back, mind already going through ideas.
“Aphrodite however is a wildcard” Percy said, picking up where Annabeth had left off. “She’s not born of the Titans and therefore not a god but she is still from the blood of Kronos. And she is the representation of an ancient and almost elemental force”.
“Love?” piped up Nico.
“Love. Lust. Desire. Want. Need. All of these things fall under her dominion. The fact is we have no idea what she really is or how powerful. We cannot afford to underestimate her. She is one of the most dangerous of our targets”. Heads nodded in agreement. “We need to keep thinking about ways to neutralise her”.
“But we also need to keep going with what we are already doing”, Percy looked down at his girlfriend as she spoke. “The next target has to be Athena. She is the one most likely to put the pieces together and realise what is happening”.
“But she is the wisest of all the gods. How can we trick her into making herself vulnerable?” Jason stood, leaning against the table with his arms crossed. Back straight, looking every inch the Roman Praetor. Annabeth grinned.
“We don’t trick her. We tell her the truth”.
“Mother, I need your help. I think someone is trying to kill the gods but I’m not sure. Please hear me”. Annabeth’s whispered prayer over the campfire had been argued over for almost a week before everyone agreed that it was the only plan. As she scraped the most delicious part of her meal into the flames, Annabeth worried that it wouldn’t work. But those thoughts were only for Percy to know.
She sat back at her table and joined in the conversation with her siblings. By now everyone knew what they were doing. News had spread through the camps that Annabeth and Percy were once again on the front line of a war that would change the Earth. Even Chiron knew, or rather he suspected. For thousands of years he had served the gods faithfully and had received nothing but scorn and mockery. But he did not care, for his first and only concern were the children under his care. But one by one they died and never from old age. They did not die peacefully or happily, but rather in fear and pain. Secretly, he had always wondered about what life would be like, free from the yoke of the gods. Until now though, Chiron had never deemed it possible. He looked out into the sea of children and cleared his throat pointedly; Piper turned around and walked away from the Athena table.
Godslayers or not, there were rules.
Later that night Annabeth bolted upright. Awake as suddenly as if someone had screamed in her face. Her heart was pounding fiercely and her face was sweating in the cool air of her cabin. She knew immediately that Athena was waiting for her outside. For a moment, Annabeth panicked. She wasn’t ready, there was no plan, she was alone. But then, Annabeth had walked alone before hadn’t she?
She replaced her shorts and tank top with jeans and a short sleeved shirt, put her dagger at her waist and donned her shoes. She opened and closed the cabin door as silently as she could and looked around.
She could see no one but knew that she wasn’t alone.
“Hello mother” she murmured, barely opening her mouth.
“Daughter”. The voice of Athena came from her right side and Annabeth forced herself not to look. “You spoke of the murder of the gods. What do you know?” The imperious attitude would have been far more annoying if the circumstances had been different.
“I don’t know anything mother. But Apollo hasn’t been seen for a while and the Hunters say Artemis too has ceased all contact. I believe that I found something that may explain why”. Annabeth waited quietly, hoping that -
“Very well. Show me”.
“But the Harpies-”
“Will not disturb us tonight. Lead the way”.
They walked together but separately. Annabeth could tell from the footsteps that her mother didn’t walk next to her but rather behind her. As if desperate for any distance between them. Annabeth focussed entirely on keeping her breathing slow and her mind calm. One false step, one thoughtless word, and she would be dead less than a heartbeat later.
She found it far easier than she initially thought she would. But it made sense. Annabeth had faced down monsters, titans, giants and ancient elementals of the primal universe. This was familiar territory.
Annabeth led her mother right to the entrance of the cave before turning to try and face her.
“This is what I was talking about. I found this when I was looking for a lost camper. I’ve never seen anything like this”. She felt her mother's hands move her out of the way of the entrance and heard footsteps move into the cave. Annabeth followed Athena and watched as she appeared in the middle of the cave.
After Artemis had died, the runes and symbols had been made visible again and Athena was inspecting every one of them. She spent almost an hour studying them individually and all the while Annabeth waited. Eventually the goddess stepped back from the walls and stood in the centre of the cave. Annabeth moved to stand just behind her.
“Mother...what is this place? What are those glyphs?” There was a brief moment of silence before Athena responded.
“This is old magic. Older than the Olympians”. The goddess turned on the spot, taking in everything she could.
“Do you understand any of it?” Annabeth asked. She was taking a risk asking the question but Annabeth felt it necessary. The effect was exactly as she anticipated.
Athena whirled round and glared at her daughter. Her temper flared at the implication that her knowledge had been bested by the creator of this cavern. As her anger grew, the control over her power waned and Annabeth cowered away from her mother in genuine fear.
“You dare imply that I, wisest of the gods, cannot decipher the meaning of this cave?” Her voice thundered directly into Annabeth’s head and she held it in her hands for fear it would shatter under the pressure. The pain suddenly vanished and Annabeth collapsed, gasping in relief.
“No mother...I didn’t...mean that”. It was a struggle even to speak but the young demigod managed to get to her knees before standing up once again. She didn’t even bother to hide the shaking of her limbs knowing her mother would believe it was from fear and not the rage coursing through her body.
Athena had already turned away from her daughter and was once again studying the walls. “The runes have obviously been used in conjunction with one another. There are several which speak to concealment and protection. Clearly this is a safe space for those who do not wish to be found by the Olympians”.
Annabeth’s hand was perfectly still, hanging less than an inch from the handle of her adamant dagger.
“This is obviously where Apollo and Artemis was killed”, Athena continued. “There is no place on earth that we can’t see when we choose to look. The underworld is of course hidden from us”.
A short step took Annabeth to an arms length behind her mother. She was completely ignored.
“What I must do is find out who made this. Annabeth when did you-”. Athena never finished her sentence as Annabeth had severed her mother’s head using the adamant dagger. There was no hesitation. With the skill born of years of training and battle experience with knives, Annabeth drew her weapon and slashed through Athena’s perfect neck with a single movement. She didn’t stop there.
Annabeth rapidly began cutting her mother’s body into small pieces. First the head and then the torso; arms and legs came last. She had no intention of taking any chances. If Zeus diced Kronos then she would do the same to Athena. Her hands were soon covered with ichor. Thick and warm, it was a golden colour that sparkled as if light was trapped within. Even the smell was pleasing. It was impossible to describe but it spoke to Annabeth of peace and joy and love. It made sense, she thought. The murder of humans was a terrible thing and the remains spoke to that. The death of the gods was a gift to the universe and their ichor would return to the Earth and bless it in ways they couldn’t foresee.
The thought made Annabeth smile as she finished her work. She had piled the pieces of her mother in the corner awaiting Nico to hide them beneath the ground. The ichor had pooled in various places. It too would need to be cleaned away. She stood and looked down at herself. Her clothes were covered in the remains of Athena’s body. There was no way she should leave the cave like this. Annabeth sat down on the ground, leaning against the couch and let her eyes drift closed. She knew Percy would find her eventually and in the meantime she needed to rest.
Eventually she was found and fresh clothes were brought. When the story was told everyone was suitably impressed at the way she had acted solo. She could tell that Percy was as worried as he was impressed but he understood that she had no choice. They all knew the risks involved.
For the god of war, Ares was far too easy. Perhaps Mars would have been a challenge, but they decided that the Greek gods, being older, should be the targets. They didn’t require much debate on the tactics needed. Percy had a lot of experience with Ares and Frank had lived with his voice in his head for far too long.
“He expects to be feared”, the son of Mars said one afternoon. The weather was perfect and they lounged on the ground outside their cave. At first it had been a necessity but they had all become fond of the cavern. Frank sat on the floor, back straight and clothes neat. Every inch the Roman. “He thinks that he’s so powerful compared to us that if we’re not cowering before him then something is wrong and he gets even angrier”.
Percy nodded his agreement. “He knows I’ll never bow to him so we can use that. Irritate him and then you can finish the plan. He trusts you”, Percy addressed the last part to Frank.
“I wouldn’t say that. He trusts me more than you but I don't think he trusts anyone”.
“Will you be able to do it thought? Will he suspect?” Piper asked from the lowest branch of the nearest tree.
“I should be able to, yeah. And if it goes wrong then an arrowhead in each eye should distract him”, Frank grinned a soldier’s grin at the idea of his own death. No one else seemed particularly amused.
The next day they approached Clarisse. Like everyone else, she knew what they were up to and she was smart enough to know she wanted no part in their war.
“Look, I respect what you are doing but this is one pissing contest that I want no part in”. She racked the weights in her hands, a new camp record, and turned to face them.
“How many pissing contests have you taken part in?” Leo asked. Everyone looked at him. “Oh come on I can’t be the only one who wanted to know!”
“This isn’t a pissing contest Clarisse”, Annabeth argued. “This is righting a four thousand year old wrong. They have used us all as their own personal cannon fodder. Silena would still be alive if not for them”. Annabeth had played her ace and now she waited. A look of extreme sorrow appeared on Clarisse’s face followed by one of terrible anger.
“You have some nerve using her name in this!” the daughter of Ares growled. No one said anything. They just waited as she clenched and relaxed her fists over and over again. Eventually she sighed, her shoulders dropping as all the fight left her; something that had never happened before.
“You’re right. They’ve never really cared about us beyond what we can do for them. I’ve known it but we don’t really care about that stuff like you guys. But SIlena...she didn’t deserve that. None of us do…”. Once again they waited; she had to convince herself. This was far too dangerous to have it any other way.
“I’m in”. Clarisse turned away from them to sit on the bench and watched as they left her be.
“This better be good kid. What is this about Jackson?”
The god of war stood behind the centaur stables. He was as he always was. Scowling, muscle-bound and handling a weapon. Ares wore his trademark biker leathers but with the small addition of a broadsword strapped across his back. Subtlety was not his strong suit. He was towering over his daughter as Clarisse did her best to flinch convincingly.
I just- I mean I think...he’s been running his mouth lately. Going on about how the time of the gods is over”. Clarisse was a better actress than anyone thought she would be. “He said he had worked with the cyclops and come up with a shield better than yours”.
Ares didn’t even bother to removed his sunglasses; the flames that replaced his eyeballs simply burnt through them. “He said what?” There was no mistaking the deadly rage behind his calm voice. His daughter winced at his anger but Ares didn’t care. He never cared about anything except the war.
“I guess I’m going to have a little chat with that punk. Go bring him here”.
“But father h-”.
“GO!” Clarisse fell back from the power in his voice. His roar shook the trees and rattled the windows. The daughter of Ares went running to find Percy. She mentally cursed him for putting her in this position. Just because things were going according to plan didn’t mean things were going well.
He was waiting for her, exactly where he was supposed to be. There was no need for words, he merely nodded and began walking with her. In the space of two steps, Clarisse watched as his shaking vanished and the look of fear on his face was replaced by one of arrogance. He had become, in essence, exactly what Ares thought he was.
“What am I following you for Clarisse? This better be good. Or are you as big of a loser as you dad?” He must have a death wish, she thought. That was the only explanation for all of this. Ares was a nuclear weapon and Jackson was actively trying to set him off. They turned the corner and suddenly Percy was no longer behind her. With a negligent wave of his hand the moment they saw each other, Ares sent Percy flying backwards until he collided with a tree. Clarisse jumped to the side as her father stalked past her. He reached Percy, still pinned against the tree and punched him in the chest.
Percy had fought giants before. And titans. And more monsters than he could count. He was no stranger to combat. But he had also never been punched by Ares himself. Blood burst from his mouth as ribs shattered and tore at his lungs. He sagged against the tree whereas before he had been struggling.
Percy couldn’t breathe properly. He couldn't even gasp. His lungs wouldn't inflate. His vision had gone completely white when Ares had punched him and he still couldn’t see. Percy knew he was dying and that one more would kill him outright.
“You’ve always pissed me off Jackson. You think my time is over? Guess again”. Percy fell to the ground and immediately coughed up more blood. But this time he wasn’t stopping. The grass and dirt beneath his face was steadily becoming redder and redder. He was dying. Ares stepped to the side and drew his leg back, preparing to deliver a kick that would rip Percy in two.
People were screaming. More than one, but Ares didn’t care. He had been waiting for this. Ares hadn’t felt this angry since Kronos ha- the sky rumbled. Ares looked up towards Olympus; his face turning pale.
“Father NO! Please!”
A lightning bolt plummeted from the sky, as bright as the sun itself and struck Ares directly in the chest. He screamed, the sound of a dying animal in extreme pain. The next moment he exploded into magic and dust. The explosion was more powerful than anything on Earth and would have wiped the state of New York off the map had a thin blue shield not appeared in the instant before the cataclysm.
The cerulean protection perfectly contained the energy from the blast. The shield held as the explosion peaked and then began to fade, all the while filling the surroundings with the salty scent of the ocean. Unsurprisingly, Poseidon appeared and knelt down next to Percy. Distracted by the supernova occurring less than two feet away, no one had realised that he had stopped breathing.
The god of the sea gently laid his finger to his son’s forehead and Percy began to cough. Not the deep racking cough that is the herald of death, but rather a gentle, softer sound. Percy looked up from the ground and saw his father standing over him. His expression stern and his figure, imposing.
Percy scrambled to his feet and stood, straight-backed, staring at his father. This was not part of the plan, he thought wildly. He looked around and saw that Frank had joined Clarisse and that a crowd of campers were running towards them; no doubt attracted by the light show. In seconds they had a nice sized crowd. Percy could see his co-conspirators watching him, watching them both.
“Quiet. Do not speak”. There had been times when Poseidon's voice sounded like gentle waves of foam, lapping at the beach. Now it was a tempest. A hurricane that existed to destroy all with unimaginable wrath. “Do you have any idea what you have done?” His father’s face was terrible to behold. The ground beneath their feet began to shake as the ire of the Earth Shaker was roused.
“You baited Ares and forced him to attack you. And I had to threaten Zeus with war if he did not intercede on your behalf”. The only true part of that was the baiting but Percy knew that his protests would not be believed. His father was not in any mood to listen to him. “You may have jeopardised the stability of Olympus for eons!”
If Poseidon was expecting a sympathetic audience then he was in the wrong place. Everyone here was in some way, working to bring about the downfall of the gods.
“Then why did you save me?” Percy dared ask.
“Because you are my most powerful weapon”. The response came instantly, with no hesitation. Percy had expected such an answer but hearing it was a relief. He had been vindicated. “You have been more useful than Ares and I demanded Zeus kill his son or answer to me”. Percy knew what was coming before his father met his gaze, “you owe me your life”.
There was silence. Even the wind had gone quiet as well as the water from the Sound. Everyone was watching Poseidon and Percy stare each other down.
“My lord Poseidon”. Both father and son turned to see Frank Zhang approaching them. In his hands was a large, cloth-covered item. He reached them and knelt before the god of the sea before offering up what he held.
“This is the shield that began this trouble. We had it designed by cyclopes and Hephaestus. It has been imbued with power and magic from dozens of minor gods and other beings. Please take it as an offering; a token of our appreciation”. Frank fell silent and didn’t move a muscle. His arms remained outstretched and stable. Poseidon stared down at the Preator as if deciding whether or not to strike him down. Eventually, his arms reached out and drew the covering away.
“It’s a breastplate” Poseidon stated.
“My lord, it changes form depending on the bearer. I do not know how it decides which form to take”. Poseidon took the armour. He held it by its straps, as if unwilling to show it respect in front of them. Without a word he vanished. His departure was a shock to them all and no one knew what to do. The first to react was Annabeth.
She ran towards Percy and threw her arms around him. The rest of the day was spent worrying over Percy and what would happen next. Marvelling over the fact that Ares was no more. His children were the quietest; they did not debate or discuss with the others. They didn't even grieve. It was after dinner that it happened. The sun had set and the campfire was barely smouldering when the ocean erupted.
Everyone ran to the shore but made sure to not get too close when they saw fully the destruction that was taking place. The sea was at war with itself. There was no other way to describe it. Gigantic waves would form, travelling in all directions, and break upon each other. Maelstroms dragged down anything in reach. Hurricanes were born, lived and died in the space of minutes. It was complete and utter oceanic destruction and it lasted throughout the night. When the sun rose and the last waterspout faded away, everyone knew that Poseidon was dead.
The only outward sign was the small grin on the lips of a green eyed demigod.
“You coated the inside with Centaur blood?”
“Mixed with Hydra blood”.
After catching what sleep they could, they met back at their cave. Answers were wanted and plans were needed. Everyone was looking at Frank and Percy as they explained their plan.
“Of course we meant to give the damn thing to Ares but he turned out to be a bigger dick than usual”, Percy massaged his torso. Despite being completely healed by his father he still felt a phantom sensation when he thought about it.
“But it worked out and we got not only Ares but the Poseidon as well”. Jason was overjoyed at the eradication of such a powerful enemy; he hadn’t stopped smiling. It was kind of annoying.
“And where exactly did you get Centaur blood?” Hazel enquired. Frank grinned at her.
“It was an anonymous donation delivered to Cabin 3”.
“Yeah I found it in front of the door with a label telling what it was”, Percy added.
“Funnily enough” Frank continued, “later that day we saw Chiron with a bandaid on his arm. Almost like he gave blood”. Laughter echoed through the cave at the comment. Despite the humour, everyone understood that though it worked out well, the plan had been flawed and it could easily have ended horribly.
They sat around and talked to each other about what they would do after. When their lives weren’t controlled by temperamental beings with no sense of empathy. As the day went on, one by one they left until it was only Percy and Annabeth who remained. They sat together, in silence. Leaning against one another. She turned to him.
“You almost died”.
“I’m not ok with that”.
“I swear on the river Styx that I will let no harm come to you”. Nico di Angelo watched as his father, in trying to reassure his wife, doomed them both.
“How can you say that?” Persephone demanded. “Poseidon was killed and several of the other gods are assumed dead. How can you guarantee our safety?”
“Because this is the underworld and here, my word is law. And in Olympus no one would dare attack you” Persephone looked somewhat mollified if not completely at ease, Nico noted.
All the gods were nervous these days. With Ares and Poseidon both gone and three others missing, it was a tense time for everyone. Persephone was not technically an Olympian but she was still afraid. And she was right to be, Nico thought.
“I need to go back and see mother”, Persephone said. “Will you grant me passage?”
“You know I cannot. I have closed all materialisation paths in and out of the underworld”.
“Well then how am I supposed to get to Olympus?”
“I’ll take you” Nico offered. Both his father and Persephone looked at him in shock; they had almost forgotten he was there.
“I appreciate the offer Nico” Persephone said with the annoyed expression she wore whenever she was forced to deal with the offspring of her husband’s infidelity, “but if something is coming after the gods I don’t think you’ll be much of a deterrence.
Nico quirked an eyebrow from where he lounged in a chair. He stood up slowly, unfolding himself as he did until he stood at his full height. Nico pushed his shoulders back and held his head high.
“I am no longer that scrawny child, Persephone. I am Nico di Angelo. I am the one the dead fear. I am the one who brought the Athena Parthenos from the ancient lands and united the camps. I am the one who walked into Tartarus and lived..”.
“All hail the Ghost King” Hades muttered. Nico looked at his father; there was mirth in his eyes but also respect. ‘Too little, too late’.
“There are only a handful of beings that are strong enough to defeat me and I am friends with them all”, he continued. Persephone was now looking at him as if seeing him for the first time. In a way, she was. “Nothing will get past me unless I want it to”.
For once, she had nothing to say. Persephone simply nodded her head and waited. Nico turned to his father, “I’ll take her up through the Door of Orpheus. It will be more secluded there”. Without waiting for approval, Nico walked away with Persephone struggling to keep up with him.
They were both silent as they stalked through the underworld. Nico had stopped trying to walk ahead of his step mother and was now studiously ignoring her. Persephone was happy to return the favour. Eventually, long after Cerberus’ growls had faded behind them, they reached the subtle incline that led to Orpheus’ Door.
It took them around twenty minutes Nico thought, but time in the underworld tended not to mean much. They reached the entrance to the mortal world and Persephone broke her silence.
“Thank you Nico. I...appreciate it”. That was all she had to say and she didn’t even make eye contact. Nico nodded his head and pushed open the door.
The bright light dazzled them both a little as they walked out into the glade. The Door had led them to a sunlit, grassy area somewhere in Central Park. It was almost idealyc. It took a few seconds to become accustom to the light, but when they did they saw that they were surrounded by demigods. A circle of Greeks and Romans and outside of them, a circle of runes had been gouged into the floor.
“Nico, what is going on?” There was no fear in Persephone’s voice, only confusion.
“These are your guards” he replied, moving to stand next to Will. Persephone looked around at them all but before she could say anything else, she was struck in the head.
Hazel may have preferred the Pilium but she was a Roman soldier and knew how to handle a sword. She lifted the Adamant blade over her head, and with all her strength, brought it crashing down on the goddess’ skull. The sword cleaved her head in two and continued downwards until it came to rest between her breasts. In a single, sharp movement, Hazel withdrew the sword and watched as the body fell to the floor.
They stood around and watched as the magic in her body bled into the earth until the only thing left was her dress.
“Congratulations Hazel. With one sword stroke you defeated two of the gods”. Nico’s words baffled everyone until he explained. “My father swore on the river Styx to keep her from all harm. The moment you killed her, his body would have petrified”. Confusion turned to glee as another major threat was dealt with. They hugged and cheered and enjoyed the moment.
“Calm down. It’s not over yet” Nico cautioned them all. “We need to take his body, dice it up and drop the pieces into Tartarus. That way even when he awakens, he’ll never escape. If we leave him where he is, eventually one of the surviving gods will find him. We need to do it now”.
Nico chose Will, Percy and Annabeth to help him dispose of his father. Out of the four of them, three knew where to find the crack that led down to Tartarus. They snuck back down into the palace of Hades and found the god lying on the floor. He had clearly been looking out over his domain as his body was frozen with his hands on his hips in what he thought was a powerful pose.
Adamant flashed and in no time at all, they were carrying various limbs to the crack in the underworld that had almost dragged Percy down to Tartarus six years earlier than scheduled. Percy carried the legs while Annabeth had the arms. Nico and Will held between them the torso.
“I have to say Nico”, Will huffed. “This isn’t how I thought I’d meet your dad”. Percy was the only one who laughed.
News spread. Gods were dying and no one knew how. There was a sense of fear and an excitement pervading through their world. Everyone had, at one point or another, thought about getting rid of the gods but no one dared take the risk. And now someone was doing it. The gods were dropping out of the sky, sometimes two at a time. All the magical creatures of the world made sure they were out of the way while they watched and waited to see how it would end. Would the gods die? Who would replace them?
“Guys! You have got to see this!” Leo ran into their cave, a flash drive clutched in his hand. They had gathered out of habit and idly chatted about nothing in particular. Hazel and Frank had added more pillows and blankets until there was a place for everyone. Jason and Piper had scattered candles everywhere. Leo had installed a gigantic entertainment system. It was this he plugged the flash drive into.
“It seems like someone decided to take the opportunity to finish some personal business”, he said as he played a video file.
Even the ones who had never been there recognised the room as being a workshop of Hephaestus. There were stacks of celestial bronze and imperial gold. Machines that they could only begin to guess the function of. The walls were lined with tools, every one of them filthy and all in their rightful place. Sitting at his worktable, concentrating on the latest invention, was the god of fire.
He looked just as ugly and unconcerned as ever. Hephaestus was hunched over his desk, using his callused fingers to manipulate the tiniest of springs. Seconds later he sat back, a pleased expression on his face. Resting on his hand was a mechanical bird made from pure gold with rubies for eyes. The bird lifted its head and looked around before opening its wings and gently rising into the air. It swooped around the workshop, trilling beautifully from its shimmering beak. Hephaestus watched it, a fond smile on his face until it exploded into shrapnel.
“Just as useful as your other exploits”. Hephaestus turned and the expression on his face changed from dismay to poorly disguised hatred as he glared at someone behind the camera angle.
“Mother. What brings you here?”
Suddenly she appeared on screen. The Queen of Heaven looked as regal as her title. A gown of shimmering silver thread covered her from head to toe with a royal blue cloak hanging from her shoulders. She needed no further ornamentation. Hera looked beautiful and cold.
“I should ask why you remain here in this squalor you call a workshop. The gods are being killed by some unknown force and you stay here beyond the protection of Olympus?” Hephaestus snorted.
“The protection of Olympus doesn’t seem worth much these days. And you have always preferred me to remain at a distance. So much so you threw me from Olympus yourself after you birthed me. Remember?”
“Can we not leave such things in the past? You are still my son and I care for you”. The look on her face was remarkably unconvincing. Hephaestus didn’t believe her and neither did the demigods watching.
“You have only ever cared for you image and the control you have over others. There is no need to pretend here mother. No one is watching”. Leo smirked at the others.
“I hacked into his feed ages ago. I don’t think he ever found out”.
The two gods were staring at each other. It was Hera who broke the silence.
“Very well then son. I have always hated you. Your appearance offends me on every possible level. You are my greatest mistake and I am here to rectify that”.
“Are you the one who has been plotting the death of the Olympians?”
“Of course not. But I will take the opportunity to solve the problem of your existence and blame it on them”.
There was no violence or combat. Hera simply looked at her son and he exploded with enough force to put a crater in the Earth. The flash of light was so intense that even through the camera, it hurt all their eyes. Eventually when the light had diminished, they saw the workshop was undamaged and Hera had vanished. Clearly she had contained the blast like Poseidon had. The video cut to black.
They were all silent. Each one was processing what they had just seen. For as long as they had known their parents, the only good quality they shared was that they protected each other. But now, not even that remained.
“Well that’s one more taken care of”, Leo said to the dumbstruck group.
“I can’t believe...yes I can” Annabeth changed her mind mid-sentence. She had never liked Hera but even she thought she may have a limit to what she put her family through. It turns out she was wrong.
“What do we do with this video?” asked Jason. “If we show it to Zeus then he may be angry enough to kill Hera himself”.
“But if he’s not then we bring suspicions down on ourselves” Frank argued. Why do we have the video? How did we get it? Why did we send it?”.
They debated the issue for several hours until they came to a consensus. Leo would anonymously take control of, and broadcast the footage on, Hephaestus TV. That way everyone would see it and know how far Hera had fallen. It took several days to bypass the security around the broadcasting system. Clearly Hephaestus cared more about his TV network than he did his security cameras. Once he was in, Leo uploaded the video and scheduled it to play a week later.
There was thunderstorm on the night the video played. The meteorologists were baffled. Five minutes previously the sky was cloudless and now it was a roiling mass of black clouds and lightning strikes. The thunder almost sounded like screams. It lasted a few hours and then vanished as suddenly as it appeared. The only thing that remained was a gentle, morose, rumbling that filled the sky.
Demeter had lost all hope. After the death of her daughter, she stopped doing anything. She missed Persephone. She even missed that husband of hers. There was nothing left for her. Every day she tried to will herself out of existence but apparently didn’t work that way. No one had believed in Pan anymore which allowed him to fade away. But people all around the world remembered her with every breath they huffed while ploughing the soil. Every swing of the scythe to cut grain. Every back bent to pull weeds from the ground was a prayer to the goddess of the harvest.
So Demeter waited. She sat in a wide field of wheat and she waited. For she knew they would come for her. She had never felt so old. Demeter didn’t want vengeance or justice. She didn’t want to look into their eyes and demand an apology. She just wanted it to be over.
They came ten days later.
She sensed them appear before her.Only two. Could it be that only these two had masterminded the downfall of Olympus?
“Demeter”, they greeted her.
“Son of Hades. Son of Apollo” she replied.
“Nico and Will is fine as well”. Demeter looked at them both. One was blond, with sunkissed skin and a permanent smile. The other was dark haired, pale and scowled as if the very world had offended him. Complete opposites except in their affection for the other.
“Are you the ones who have been cutting down the Olympians?” She wants to ask another question but doesn’t.
“Yes it is us”, Nico says meeting her gaze. She feels no anger or sadness or fear. She doesn’t even ask why. Deep down inside, she knows.
They stared at each other for a few moments longer. “Why have you not killed me yet?” she asked.
“We’re testing something” Will replied, both of them still studying her. Demeter said nothing; she just waited. Eventually she saw Nico’s eyes raise to something behind her and he nodded. In a fraction of time so short it might as well have been non-existent, her divine mind put all the pieces together in a flash of insight.
‘Very clever’ she thought. Then everything went black.
When they learned that Demeter was simply sitting in a field they were immediately suspicious.
“It’s a trap!” Jason declared.
“Calm down Admiral Ackbar”, Leo said. “But yeah that sounds right”. Jason rolled his eyes at him as everyone nodded. They decided not to take the bait. Four days later they met again.
“It is probably a trap” Hazel began, “but it also an opportunity to test something out”.
“What are you thinking?” Annabeth asked.
“Well when we killed Persephone, we drew the runes into the ground so that we couldn’t be seen. But what if we had something a bit more versatile?” Based on the reactions, Annabeth was the only one who understood what she meant.
“You think that’s possible?”
“I’ve already got one set ready to test”
“Do you guys want to let the rest of us in on it?” Percy asked, glancing between Hazel and Annabeth.
Annabeth grinned at Percy who smiled back. “Camouflage clothing”. Understanding and excitement flooded through the cave and Hazel laughed.
“But it needs to be tested first. Otherwise they are just clothes that I ruined”.
They talked the risks over and everyone tried to volunteer to shoulder them. Surprisingly everyone banded together and forbade Percy and Annabeth from taking part.
“Let someone else almost die for a change” Nico said. Eventually it was decided that he and Will would provide the distraction and Jason would be the test dummy; a title he objected to.
When Will and Nico appeared in the field in front of Demeter, Jason appeared some distance behind. It was a very calm day. He made his way slowly towards the goddess, all the while expecting the wheat to wrap themselves around him and suffocate him. But nothing happened.
Eventually he made it to within arms length of her and there had been no reaction. It seemed the camouflage was working perfectly. Jason stood there for a minute or two, knife poised behind her head, before Nico looked at him and nodded. He thrust. The blade sank into her skull and kept moving forwards until the point came out of her forehead. She slumped down, only being held up by the blade, and collapsed to the floor when Jason withdrew his arm.
Nico disposed of the body in his way and they went back to the cave. Jason stood there for a while longer. He was invisible to the gods. He could not be seen, heard or sensed in any way. It was liberating. Jason looked up at the sky and uttered “I hate you dad”. Words he had locked up inside for years came pouring out. Feelings of anger, sadness and betrayal rose to the surface. Jason screamed accusations of abandonment and neglect at his father until his voice was hoarse.
His arms fell to his sides and he dropped to his knees. Jason felt better after that. Having been the perfect Roman for too long had caused him to bottle up a great many things that needed to be let out.
Eventually Jason got back up, and after drying his eyes he made his way back to camp.
The success of Hazel’s camouflage gear changed the way they could attack. They could now move completely undetected by their enemies. Leo voted for wearing it all the time but the others managed to dissuade him.
“How would it look if all of us just vanished from the world?” asked Frank. “It would immediately bring suspicion on the camps. And then everyone would be in danger. I can’t see Zeus showing restraint right now, can you?”
The next target was Dionysus. Despite everything that was happening, he still remained at camp though he was less insulting than he had been. There were times when he wouldn’t say much but he was always there, looking down at them from the main table at night with an inscrutable expression. A morbid sense of curiosity drove Percy to talking to him.
“Percy Jackson. What brings you here?” Dionysus sat on the deck of the Big House, reclining back in his chair.
“I was just wondering how you’re doing sir. Given everything that’s going on”. Funnily enough, Percy did find himself caring about how Dionysus was. This may have started with hate and sadness but now it had simply become a necessary task. He found within him no desire to cause pain for the sake of it.
“By ‘Everything that’s going on’ I assume you mean the systematic annihilation of my family?” Percy could only nod. The god grinned. “I am fine, I’ve always known this was going to happen. Me and Chiron both”. Percy’s eyes widened in shock and Dionysus laughed. “In my time here I have seen many great heroes and Chiron has seen many more. And often I have wondered ‘what would happen if one had the strength and will to unite them?’. Then you came along”. Percy stood there dumbstruck by the, correct, implications of the conversation.
“When the titans and the giants came back we fought them, and rightly so. Their time was over. Now it seems, so is ours. We were so afraid of our parents, but that isn’t the lesson at all now is it?” Mr D stood up and regarded the young man before him before nodding once and going back inside.
Percy was in shock. That had not been at all expected. He made his way back, slowly, to the cave where the others were waiting for him. They wanted to bombard him with questions but when they saw his face they all held their tongues.
“Percy”, Annabeth spoke in a soft voice. “What happened?” He turned to look at her.
“I think he gave us his blessing”.
They honoured him as best they could. Percy would always remember when he was the only god to ask him to keep his child safe. He would always remember the tears Dionysus shed when he learnt his son had perished. They honoured him with a quick death.
He was walking in the forest. Amongst the wood nymphs and satyrs. He had been a member of the Cloven Council for many years and in that time he had met nearly every satyr at some point or another. They feared him but they needn’t have bothered. They weren’t important enough for him to punish. Dionysus had stopped to examine a tree, a Juniper tree, when it happened.
Two arrows, heads made of Adamant hit him. The fletching didn’t buzz. The shafts were straight. They flew true and each arrow buried itself deep into an eye socket. Dionysus was dead before he knew what was happening. He fell to the ground before the Juniper tree and was still. The demigods began coming out of their hiding places; once again Nico disposed of the body. They removed the runes that circled the spot where he had died and then stood. A minutes silence in honour of the god. Afterwards, they turned and walked away.
When the elevator doors opened, the demigods silently exited and took cover wherever they could. All except one. Piper McLean stood apart from the rest and got her bearings.
Olympus was magnificent. She had never seen it before now. It was as if the top of the mountain was floating before her. Scattered across the landscape were the most beautiful edifices. Carved from marble that seemed to shimmer in the moonlight, the pillars and archways and coliseums might have been picked from Ancient Greece. Courtyards of stone were complimented by fountains of gold where the purest water imaginable spouted forth and came falling down with a unmistakable sound of rain. The shrubs, flowers and trees artfully arranged complimented the vision.
Birds of all types fluttered around, completely at ease with the fact that there were walking and talking beings everywhere. Wherever Piper looked, there were minor gods and goddesses, spirits and nymphs and muses too. Every one of them looked sombre and serious as if expecting death to strike them down. This was new to them; immortals tended not to fear death.
They all walked forwards, Piper in the lead until they came to a crossroads. Based on Annabeth’s description, Piper knew her mother would be found down the right path whilst the throne room was straight ahead. Here was where they split. She turned right and walked away; head high, shoulders back.
Eventually she came to a beautifully adorned doorway and, without knocking, Piper entered. It was a palace on the inside. Gleaming white floors and golden walls. Two walls were completely covered with art dedicated to Aphrodite and another was perfectly clear. It looked down onto the rest of Olympus. This room could become anything her mother desired. Right now it was empty except for a dressing table with a mirror floating above and stool.
Aphrodite was sitting on that stool. She faced the mirror and was brushing her hair, clearly taking pleasure from the task.
“Hello Piper. I don’t think I summoned you”. Aphrodite didn’t even make eye contact through the mirror.
“You didn’t. I wanted to see if you were alright”.
“Of course, such a dutiful daughter. Were you worried I had been murdered as well?”
“The thought crossed my mind”. Piper moved to lean against the table, so she could look directly at her mother’s face. “Why do you think they’re doing it?” Lost in her perfect tresses, it took Aphrodite a moment to answer.
“The ones killing the gods. Why are they doing it?”
“Oh who knows who the minds of peasants work. They will never amount to being anything more than filthy, uncultured savages. Don't you agree?” Piper could only nod before a terrible roar filled the air. It shook the table and rattled everything that covered it. Makeup and perfume from all places and times fell down. One bottle even rolled to the floor; Piper stooped to catch it and replace it on the table. Aphrodite barely noticed.
“What do you think that was?” the goddess asked. Piper, still processing her mother’s comments, could only shrug. “I didn’t really expect you to know child. I should see what is happening. After all, there is no one else left”.
Aphrodite stood and snatched a perfume bottle off of the desk before spraying herself liberally in a cloud of scent. The bottle fell from her fingers as aerosolized venom from the Lernean Hydra found Aphrodite’s eyes, ears, mouth and nose. The poison travelled down her throat until she felt she was breathing fire. Shards of glass were digging into her face and the pain was so intense that Aphrodite couldn’t even scream.
The goddess collapsed and began seizing, her body arching backwards with such force that Piper believed that her spine would snap. It didn’t. Piper was forced to draw her Adamant blade and cut her mother’s head off. The demigod made sure not to touch any part of her mother; there was no telling how much of her the poison had covered.
Piper opened her hand and looked at the bottle of perfume she had taken from the table and replaced with her own. Setting it down, she picked up the bottle of poison her mother had dropped. It wouldn’t do to leave this lying around.
Another roar echoed that trembled the very foundations of Olympus. Without looking back, Piper walked out of the room as golden ichor puddled below the stump.
The demigods made their way towards the throne room. They had no reason to believe Zeus was there but they went anyway. The Fates seemed to be on their side. Sitting there, all alone, was the King of Heaven.
They approached him slowly, as they would a dying monster. They knew he couldn't hear them but they made sure to creep forwards anyway. When they got close enough they could hear him muttering to himself.
“How dare they...weak...pathetic...now I will rule...alone...greatest of all…”. They looked at each other in shock, he’d lost his mind. This just made him more dangerous. They spread out around his throne and waited. Frank even climbed onto Hera’s throne and stood poised, ready to fire. That was the mistake.
Zeus froze before throwing his head back and roaring. The ground shook with the force knocking them all to the ground, as the King of Heaven bellowed his rage.
“WHO DARES SIT UPON HER THRONE!” his voice was loud enough to echo off of the stars themselves. Every one of them had already been reeling from his roar and now they were instantly deafened; Frank fell backwards off the throne and the his arrow went flying away.
Zeus stood and raised his hands causing lightning to strike down from above. The demigods dived in every direction, hoping to avoid getting hit by the bolts. They ended up taking cover behind various thrones. Percy ended up behind Poseidon's throne; he could feel the power in it calling to him but knew that fighting electricity with water was a bad idea. He peered round just in time to see Frank draw, nock and fire another arrow. He had been aiming at Zeus’ heart but the god moved at the last second and it sunk deep into his shoulder.
He threw his head back and let loose another scream. One they didn’t hear. Zeus stumbled around in pain and as he passed Athena’s throne, Annabeth lashed out and targeted his Achilles tendon. Zeus went down.
The demigods swarmed.
Percy lunged across and cut straight through his left arm. Hazel and Nico leapt and stabbed through his calves so violently they pinned him to the floor. Annabeth drove her knife into his right shoulder and immobilised his other arm. With him restrained, Frank walked onto his back and aimed his final arrow at Zeus’ head while Jason removed part of his protective clothing and showed himself to his father.
“You! It was you! Miserable abomination! I gave you everything and you repay me in this fashion?” The god was apoplectic with rage. He had stopped blinking and every word was spat with venom. “Your mother was a pathetic creature! I pitied her! She was nothing just like her brats! Release me!
His words had no effect on any of them as they were all still deaf, but Jason could feel the hatred in his bones. He nodded once and Frank let go. The arrow vanished from his bow and appeared at the base of Zeus’ skull. His head fell to the ground and with one last, rattling breath the mighty Zeus was no more.
Piper chose that moment to walk into the throne room. She saw the scorch marks and the body on the floor.
“Did I miss anything?” No one heard her.
They were glad they had decided to bring ambrosia and nectar with them just in case. It was distributed to them all, restoring them to the perfect hearing they had taken for granted. They all gathered around the fallen body.
“I can’t believe we did it”, Leo muttered. “It’s over”.
“Not yet. One last thing to do”. Annabeth understood but everyone else followed Percy’s gaze to the small hearth in the centre of the room.
They followed Percy and Annabeth to the hearth.
“Hello Percy”. They had all been waiting for her to appear but she had been there all along. As her family had been murdered and respect for the hearth dwindled, Hestia had become less and less substantial. She was literally fading away.
“How are you feeling?” asked Annabeth. The goddess of the hearth may have been looking at her. She may have closed her eyes completely; it really was impossible to tell.
“Please just tell me why”
The young heroes looked at each other. Amongst themselves, it was very easy to justify their actions. But face to face with the last Olympian it was hard to find the words.
“Because they had forgotten what it meant to be family”. Percy had stepped forwards and was looking straight at Hestia. “For more than four thousand years, they lied and cheated. Abandoned and betrayed each other. Mocked, tortured and tormented for the sake of amusement. And the only times they would ever come together was when their power was challenged. There was no love for each other in their hearts, nor was there any love for their children”.
“It has been that way since the beginning, has it not? Gaia and Ouranos were terrible parents and the Titans overthrew them. The Titans were awful so you overthrew them. And when the Titans and the Giants returned, you threw us into harm’s way and expected us to die for you. And some of us did. We lost friends and family. And the gods expected us to be grateful to be of use. We weren’t children to them. We were a resource to be tapped. They did not treat us like their children. They did not treat us like family”.
As Percy spoke Hestia seemed to become more solid. At least they could see her eyes now and they were locked onto the son of Poseidon.
“We choose our own family and we chose each other”, he said while gesturing to the demigods with him.
Hestia didn’t say a word. As Percy had spoken she had changed and become more prominent before them. And when he was done, she was as solid as she had ever been. Hestia smiled at them all and moved to stand in front of them.
“I believe my hearth is in safe hands. Farewell”
Her fire roared upwards and when it calmed down, Hestia was gone.
“Has she escaped? Do we find her?” Frank had already begun planning search patterns through Olympus when Annabeth stopped him.
“She hasn’t escaped. She has ceased to be”.
Eventually they all calmed down and began to relax. It was finally done; the most audacious endeavour in all of history had finished. Successfully. They sat close together, in front of the warm hearthfire.
“Ok guys what do we do now?” Leo was resting right beside the hearth; one of the perks of being fireproof. “We, the children on the Olympians, are sitting in the throne room of Olympus and those thrones are currently empty”. He didn’t need to explain what he was talking about. Everyone had been thinking the same thing.
Percy’s eyes flickered towards his father’s throne and he remembered the power he had felt just by being near it. He couldn’t fathom what it would be like if he actually sat on it. He unconsciously licked his lips. What do we do?