Percy Jackson's fall into Tartarus

This story is for Heroes of Olympus fans, who like Percy as the focus character. I thought up this story to entertain fans while they wait for the House of Hades to come out. Spoiler Alert! If you haven't read The Mark Of Athena, then this story will give away the ending. This is my first story, so please give me feedback to improve! I do not own any characters or content. All content belongs to Rick Riordan. Cover art belongs to fbcdn.net.

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17. Real World

Annabeth woke up on a bed of rocks. Instantly wincing, she realized how sore she was. There wasn't much sharp pain, persay, it was more like a throbbing itch spreading all across her body. The only thing that really hurt was a horrid gash in her left side. At least half an inch deep and spanning across half of her stomach, the wound consisted of many injuries piled on top of one another. They overlapped and varied in size, but they were all covered in a dried puddle of blood. It stained her shirt and skin, and made the illusion that it was one large gash. She could still move, so nothing important seemed damaged, but that didn't stop her from wanting to cry. Holding it back, she sat up and looked around. She was in a forest; surrounded by thick two hundred foot trees and undergrowth on all sides. The dirt beneath her was rocky, with small bits of moss growing on the stones. Springing from the ground was another layer of life: ferns, mushrooms, and the occasional flower made a hovering blanket above the floor that spread across the forest. But Annabeth could barely make out it's beauty. The only light came from the moon, but even that was dimed by intimidating storm clouds. Where's my knife and backpack? Where's Percy? Panicking slightly, she pushed herself to her feet and squinted to see in the dark.

"Percy?" She called cautiously as she looked around. As her gaze rounded a tree she saw her dagger lying in the undergrowth, it's glow illuminating the underside of the leaves. Springing forward to get it, she'd taken no more than three steps when her legs hit a fallen tree trunk that was hidden beneath the groundcover. Tripping over it, Annabeth landed flat on her stomach and rolled over. Looking back at the log, she flinched as her eyes adjusted to her knife's light. Percy lay on his left side, completely covered with plants, his head sagging and his eyes closed. Scrambling towards him, she immediately checked his heart rate. It was weak and quick, like he was trying to keep up with blood loss but didn't have the energy. Gods, what do I do? Carefully rolling him onto his back, she brushed the hair out of his face and looked over his new injuries. She gagged on the nasty smell of blood. His injuries looked similar to Annabeth's side, except they covered the majority of his body and she couldn't even tell where the damage was. She looked away in horror. There was no way she could treat this.

Then a peculiar thought came to mind. If the blood has had time to dry, we must have been unconscious for awhile now. That meant that she had no way of knowing how much blood Percy had lost. She didn't notice she'd been hyperventilating until black spots danced before her eyes. Sitting back, she concentrated on what to do now. She didn't see the gods helping anytime soon. This forest could continue for miles in any direction, and there was no way to tell where they were. They couldn't rely on their friends; they had no way of knowing where they were.

Annabeth's dark thoughts were interrupted by the snapping of twigs off to the right. Whoever it was, she didn't want to meet them. Remembering how hidden Percy had seemed, she lay down beside him and tried to push the plants around them into an upright position. She slowed her breathing and relaxed. Listening carefully, she heard footfalls where her dagger lay. They stopped, and Annabeth could only see the light of her knife lifting off the ground as the person picked it up. Then, in a brusque male voice, he called out.

"If you happen to still be alive by morning, my brothers will find you on their hunt. I advise you to leave this island quickly. I am the only one that will let you live." Annabeth almost didn't register the words. They vibrated with a deep intensity that she couldn't wrap her mind around, and sent her into a daze. Once she regained her senses, the light of her dagger was gone along with the mysterious man. She'd never gotten a look at him, which was a shame. According to him, anyone else she met would kill her. What's the matter with me? I can handle myself just fine. She looked back down to Percy. He seemed just as bad as he was before, though she couldn't see much without her dagger. With a deep steadying breath, she reached into Percy's pocket for Riptide. She found it and pulled it out. It grew into it's full blade as she uncapped it. Standing and brandishing it around her, she scanned the area for the backpack. She found it lying behind the tree her knife had been near. Inside had her leftover shirt strips, nectar bottle, Daedalus' laptop, and bubble wrap. As she took inventory, she made her way back to Percy's side. He looked so old, his hair was light gray, with white in spots. His face was hollow, with skin stretched tight over his bones where it wasn't sliced to bits. Sighing, she went to work fixing his bandages, dripping nectar into his mouth, and trying to wake him up. She gently shook his shoulders, but he didn't stir. Okay, she thought, you've got no food or water. He doesn't stand a chance without those, especially with his appetite! With a bittersweet smile, she wiped her eyes on what was left of her shirt. Her heart pounded as she forced herself not to cry. Standing up, she looked down at Percy. He was well hidden in the underbrush, but if he woke up Annabeth wasn't sure if he'd come looking for her or not. Or whether that would be a good thing or a very bad thing. She took the nectar from the bag and wrapped his hand around the bottle. Taking his sword, she found a piece of wood and carved a message for him into it. Tucking it into his other hand, she turned to leave. Having no better ideas, she stepped in the direction the man had taken. At least she'd find something out.

...

Is he awake right now? What if someone found him? Annabeth nagged at herself as she tore though the thick forest. She'd been walking since she'd left Percy, and now that the sun was rising, she didn't know what to do. Her search for anything useful was becoming a complete waste of her time. Now the choice was whether to turn around and go back to Percy or continue onward.

Luckily, or unluckily, a siloette began to present itself through the trees. As it became clearer it turned into a tent-like structure, built from long logs tied together and covered with canvas. A simple choice, perhaps, but not done quickly. Around the main building, smaller teepees were set up. The man's words came back to Annabeth, and she kept to the lingering shadows that hid from the morning rays. She rounded the small clearing to get a better angle of the main house. Coming around to the front and only ten yards from the nearest teepee, she nearly tripped in surprise. The door was just a cut down the middle of the fabric that was curled and pinned back to the supports. What was inside could be called any number of things.

There were men-like creatures inside, but they had to have been monsters. They're heads were slightly oversized, but their ears were huge, and the lobes drooped to drag in the dust. Their teeth were pointed and their eyes were pure black. Annabeth found her heart rate rising. She'd dealt with plenty of hybrid monsters before, and these were no different. Except that there was one in the middle, wearing a crown of bones, sitting on a throne of human flesh, and was twice the size of the average man. He sat, fat and ugly, with an arm in his hand. He raised it to his mouth and bit into it, cracking the fragile fingers between his sharp teeth.

Abruptly, Annabeth doubled over and lost her lunch. Or she would have, if she had eaten anything in the past few days. Bile spewed onto the mossy ground as she gagged. A grunt came from the closest teepee. Then another responded and footsteps moved in Annabeth's direction. She straightened, wiping her mouth on her arm, then her pants. She backed up and prepared to run. Just as she turned, her feet shot out from under her. Clamping down on her scream, her whole body followed them into a den at the base of a tree. It was roomy, considering she was beneath a tree and could still move around. If the monsters didn't know about it, it would be a great hiding place. As she peeked out the hole in the roof, she realized it was unlikely they did. She would never have found it if she hadn't backed into the tree. The gap was only a foot wide, and surrounded by long grasses. Now only to get Percy here somehow.

She'd nearly forgotten about the guards that had heard her. She was about to climb out of the hole when their shuffling reached her ears. They grunted back and forth to each other as they slowly grew closer. Annabeth scrambled back in the little den, crowding to the back wall and eyeing the entrance. From her position, she could barely see their chests moving and swinging spears along the ground. One stopped, raising his hands and gesturing. The other pressed on and responded in their foreign language. The first threw his hands up in exasperation and headed back his post. The second continued to walk until he'd passed the tree Annabeth was under. She allowed a small sigh of relief. Normally, monsters had a better sense of smell than to walk by a demigod without knowing it. She waited, hoping the guard would give up and head back, but he never did. Finally, with a sigh of foreboding, Annabeth carefully lifted herself out of the den. The sun was nearly in the center of the sky. Already midday. She kept low with her head on the swivel as she made her way to the other side of the tree trunk. Starting off in the opposite direction that she had come in, Annabeth continuously scanned the forest for the remaining guard. She could see no reason for him to go far enough to reach Percy, but she also didn't understand why he hadn't come back to his post yet. 

So, with no better ideas, Annabeth headed for Percy so she could drag him to their new den. It had passed the guard test, and apparently they couldn't smell demigods. They also must've been the big bad brothers that the mysterious man had said would kill them. They probably don't hunt so close to their camp, anyway. There wasn't a better place to hide Percy until she found some way to contact somebody somehow, and find some way to get somewhere else that didn't have cannibal somebodies. It was a perfect base for now.

Annabeth was beginning to recognize the area a bit now. Adrenaline was pushing it's way into her bloodstream; the guard hadn't shown up yet. He could've found Percy, and thus occupied his time tearing him apart. The rational part of Annabeth's mind reminded her that the guard wouldn't be able to smell Percy, and that he wasn't easily visible, but the panicked part pushed her feet into a run, then a sprint. She saw the clearing ahead; no guard, but no Percy either. Her breath quickened as she reached the edge. Just as she did the first time, she tripped over Percy's motionless body. She didn't fall flat, unlike the first time, and unlike the first time, Percy's groan was clearly audible. She was by his side in a heartbeat. He didn't move or open his eyes, but he did start mumbling a quiet stream of curses. "Percy?" Annabeth whispered as she leaned over him. He was still covered in the undergrowth, but very much visible in the midday sun. The peice of wood and the nectar had fallen from his grasp. It was surprising that Annabeth had missed him, even if she was running. She cursed herself for panicking. That was the last thing she needed to do. 

Percy started coughing, lurching back and fourth as blood bubbled to his lips. He still kept his eyes closed, but his arm reached for Annabeth. She gently grabbed it, and he pulled on it. It felt careful, but it only took her a second to realize it was the most strength he could muster. He looked like he was trying his hardest to break her hand. She felt a tsunami of emotions pushing at the backs of her eyes, and didn't even bother to hold them back. Tears gushed down her face, and all she could do was forbid making noise. He despises me. He would kill me if he could. Is there even a cure for his new anger? Her breath caught, and she gripped his hand as hard as she could to get his attention.

"Percy," she declared, "We're moving to another spot. It's right next to a camp of cannibals. You need to stay quiet and work with me, or we're both going to be their dinner. Comprende?" His mouth opened to answer, and Annabeth had to lean in close to hear.

"No way... I won't... Our deal... Leave... Alone!" His voice couldn't even get up to a murmur. Blood still pooled in his mouth and on his lips. She knew they needed to do something, and he wouldn't get better without food and water. She might be able to steal non-human food from the cannibals. Some of them must like salad, right?

Annabeth leaned in to Percy's ear, "Well, guess what? I'm going to drag you there whether you like it or not. You can decide how painful it's going to be. Please, just cooperate; you're already injured enough." She could hear him cursing, but it was much too quiet to attract attention. She really needed something to drag him on; there was no way she could carry him all the way without obliterating his already torn-to-shreds body. She glanced around, but didn't see anything that would do the trick. Her bag wouldn't work either, and it was going to become her best ally if she was going to become the resident thief.

With a hopeful glance at Percy, she wondered if he'd be able to walk if she helped him, like they did in the pit. She soon realized that was not going to be an option. He couldn't even open his eyes or grip her hand; how was he going to stand? 

Then, in the most inconvenient of incoveniences, she heard a twang off in the forest. She shoved herself flat over Percy and heard the arrowhead thud into the trunk behind them. Well, she fumed, isn't this just what I needed.

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