The first bit of the train ride was long and boring. I got to know a lot more about Jason; Turns out he was dating a daughter of Aphrodite named Piper, but things were complicated, he tensed up and I backed off. Thalia on the other hand was a Huntress of Artemis and would never date. She didn’t talk much especially with the whole huntress thing being one of Nico’s sore spots and everyone seemed to know that. I guess when you’re a demi-god there isn’t much you can keep secret.
After about an hour, the sleep that’d I’d lost over the past few days, finally caught up to me. My body ached with the hunger for rest, but I tried to stay awake. I couldn’t stand the chance of another visit from Nyx. But the second after I sat down from pacing the train, sleep snatched me, and I passed out right on top of Nico.
My dream was really weird and not the kind of weird where you're flying through clouds made of butter on a piece of French toast, but weird as in you know you're dreaming but nothing is happening. I was walking through blackness, it was as if I was walking through a very foggy field, except the fog was a dense black. A voice echoed around me, at first I couldn’t tell what it was saying.
Oh great, I thought to myself. Another visit from Nyx.
“No child, I am glad to say that the accursed titan of night will not be pestering you now or for quite a while after I teach you your lineage.”
The voice was calming, deep and smooth like those Yoga instructors on Do-It-Yourself videos. I could tell now that it was male and that only left one option for who it could be.
“Father?” I asked crossing my arms as I halted and stood in place, “What do you want from me?”
The guy just had to come into my life now, of all times.
The voice chuckled lightly, I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder. “I’m sorry my dear child. A god’s timing is never good, no matter how hard we try.”
I spun around to see a tall man, he was exactly like I expected. His face was ageless. He had wrinkles but you couldn’t tell if they were from old age or from laughing. Everything about him made you feel calm, like drinking hot chocolate. He even smelled like cocoa. His hair was relatively short and even in this place with little to no breeze, his gray hair looked wind blown, like he’d stood in front of a power-fan for a half-an-hour. The greatest thing about him was his eyes, they reminded me of kaleidoscopes all of the colors of the rainbow dancing across a deep shimmering blue-violet background. He wore a black tuxedo with a shimmery lead colored tie.
“You’re awful spiffy,” I spat. Although he was warm and inviting I resented him for neglecting me, his only daughter.
“I’m sorry Lea, I truly am. Zeus doesn’t permit much contact between gods and their children, only if it is essential and I’m afraid that I have not come here to spend time with you. No matter how much I want to.”
“So what do you want?”
“Why don’t we discuss it in a more, calm and distinguished ambience,” he said and he swiped his hand like the air around us was a giant touch screen. The mist swirled and then faded revealing a calm street. Nobody else was there. Just a cobblestone road with little shops on the side. A flower shop, a bistro, art store, music store, bakery, and a little café lined the roadside. Draping flowers hunger from banisters and the street lamps glittered in the warm sunlight that shone through the clear blue sky.
It was the perfect place.
He led me over to a small two chaired table just outside of the café and pulled out the seat for me like a gentleman. I walked over and sat down in the other chair. He chuckled, “Just like your mother.”
“Why don’t we get to the point?”
“Zeus will only allow me to say so much, he hasn’t been very trusting since...” Morpheus paused, looking pained, “but I’m going to help you as much as I can.”
“Why wouldn’t Zeus trust you?” I pried.
“After I tried to help the Titans win the war,” he stated flatly.
“You did what? Why didn’t Nico tell me?” I gasped.
“Sometimes your friends feel that it is best to shield you from painful truths, no matter how subtle or substantial.”
“This is what I call extremely substantial, my dad, a traitor.”
That must of really hit him hard. A silver tear rolled down his cheek and I started to pity him. I was being a bit harsh.
“Lea, I didn’t want to betray my kin, but there were some rules I couldn’t stand, some laws that I resented Zeus for establishing,” the sadness in his voice pained me, “I hoped that if the Titans won this war, some rules would be changed, maybe gods would be able to see their children grow. Lea, I fought that war so that I could spend more time with you.”
I gulped. I felt like a mouse stuck in a rat-trap, hurt and without an escape.
“Let’s get to the point of this conversation,” tears were welling in my eyes. But I wouldn’t show any signs of weakness. Not in front of him.
“I see, your forgiveness is not easily earned,” he sighed. “There is only one way you can defeat Nyx: a sword doused with a bottle of the Golden River.”
“What is that?” I asked.
“I’m sorry, but I cannot tell you,” he said, “Although I can give you this.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out what at first looked like a necklace. A long gold chain that held on the end of it a shimmery glass bottle with a golden sun embossed on it. Morpheus dropped it into my open palm.
“You must fill this bottle with the Golden River, but don’t get greedy like many before you have. It may be your downfall if you do.”
“Such a cheery note to end on,” I said standing up. “Is that all?”
“Yes I’m afraid our time together has come to an end for now. I see that you realized what you can do.”
I had realized, this entire time I could have walked out on him, he was kind enough to put an exit to the dream right under my nose. I looked in the book store windows, Percy sat quietly on the train’s seat, chatting calmly with Thalia and Jason, while Nico looked adoringly at me. He brushed back the bangs that were falling in my face. As he did a warm breeze swept down the street blowing my bangs into place. The bookstore was a portal back into reality and out of the dream world.
I walked across the street and held onto the door handle.
I looked back at my dad, he looked nervous standing rigid with his hands in his pockets.
“Goodbye Morpheus,” I said.
“Goodbye Lea, and remember I l-“ I didn’t let him finish I stepped through the door before he could say what I didn’t want to hear.
I lurched awake swinging into full upright position all my muscles tense.
“Lea, I was just about to wake you up. We’re here,” said Nico, blushing at the fact that we were so closely pressed next to each other.
“So Columbus,” I said, “Where are we headed to next?”
“An attendant gave me a schedule and apparently the farthest train west heads to Colorado. But like everything else on this stupid quest, there is an hour till it leaves so we might as well, like always, pass time here in town,” groaned Percy, the sleep loss visible through his agitation.
“And find out about that Titan,” said Thalia.
“I think it’s a false call,” I said, “Or else my dad would have mentioned it.”
“When did you speak with Henry?” asked Nico looking confused and bewildered.
“My real dad,” I said the displeasure in my voice obvious.
“Oh,” said Nico lowering his voice, “I see.”
“We’ll talk about it later, but first let’s go sight-seeing.”
We got off the train and look out at the bright open Columbus air. I was so sick of cities by this time, I didn’t even find the beautiful sparkling skyscrapers anything but nauseating. We strolled down the long orderly streets looking for a good cheap restaurant to pass time at. We eventually spotted a nice little Italian Bistro with wines carling over the face of the building and a joyful clamor evading from it’s interior.
“Perfect,” said Percy, “I’m craving garlic bread.”
“If you want to go ahead but theirs is no way you're sitting next to me on the train if you do,” I said. He looked at me confused by my little joke. “Your garlic breath isn’t getting anywhere near me.”
“Oh, ha ha, very funny,” he mocked and loped out ahead of us.
Thalia smiled at me, “You two could be brother and sister if you didn’t look so different.”
“Well technically we are related……distantly.”
She smiled and kept walking.
“Excuse me,” said a voice behind me, before I could turn I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned to see the most gorgeous boy ever.
I did a half-squeak half-sigh. Oh gods this boy was beautiful.
He looked about fifteen, maybe younger, maybe older. But no younger than fourteen and no older than sixteen. He had olive skin that wasn’t too tan or too pale. Thick, luscious black hair that swept to the left. A kind smile with perfect teeth. A dusting of freckles across the bridge of his nose. Muscular arms that move gracefully and gently, you knew he could crush you if he wanted to, but he wouldn’t hurt a fly. Hades, he’d probably relocated that fly to a better home. His fashion sense was perfect a pale blue t-shirt with beige cargo pants and a simple FIGHT CANCER wristband. But there was one thing that really completed him; his voice. It was calm and gentle, not too high and not weirdly low. His eyes were amazing too a light blue-green that sparkled with a mixture of humor, kindness and mischievousness. But there was something not right about them they pupil’s weren’t the rich black they were supposed to be, they looked glazed, almost filmed over. A look I recognized from my old dog Makkie’s eyes and there’s was one thing that confirmed my sad suspicions. The boy held a cane. He was blind.
“I’m sorry to bother you but I’m trying to find my way to Beaumont Street and well, I can’t read the signs. Would you mind helping me find it?” He spoke in a shy bashful way. I felt the strange need to hug him and never let go.
“Sure,” I said putting on my kindest voice, “I’d love to help.”
I looked over at Nico who looked a mix between furiously jealous, extremely shocked and somewhat suspicious.
“I’ll catch up with you guys later,” I said.
“Okay,” replied Nico hesitantly.
The boy held out his hand and smiled bashfully, “It would help. It makes it easier for me to predict your movement and direction.”
I snatched up his hand and held on firmly. It wasn’t gross like most guy hands, soft and not the least bit sticky.
“So, what’s your name? Because I have a feeling this might be a bit of a walk, according that map,” I said nodding at the large map that was pasted to the side of a bus stop. Beaumont street at least four blocks away from the large YOU ARE HERE dot.
“Eros, I know kinda weird,” he said with a faint laugh at the end, mocking his own name.
Something about that name struck a chord with me but I pushed it aside.
“I like it, very original.”
A group of girl shuffled past us they giggled winked and waved at Eros. He didn’t notice but I gave them the Back off he’s mine glare and the kept moving, well except for one of them, she passed out. I’m still not great with my powers.
“So Lea, What brings you to Columbus?” Eros asked.
I stopped abruptly and glared at him.
“Okay, cut the act. Who are you and what do you want?” I demanded.
“W-what? Did I do something wrong?” he asked looking genuinely shocked.
“I never told you my name, none of my friends ever said my name and yet you still know what it is? I’m not wearing a nametag and even if I was-“ I stopped there. He clearly got the point.
“Like your dad said earlier. Gods are always here on business and once again like your father I’m here to warn you and give some tips.”
This guy was really hard to get mad at, he was just so pretty.
“First of all,” I said, debating with myself whether to let go of his hand, “Are you really blind or can I let go now.”
“Have you ever heard the expression ‘Love is Blind’?”
“Yeah,” I replied.
“It’s not just an expression.”
“Oh, okay. So you’re the god of love. That makes sense.”
“Haha, yeah son of Aphrodite the Amazing herself. Sorry if I led you on before, it’s kind of ya know, my nature.”
“Aren’t you married?” I asked. Hey, it was his fault for coming to me in the first place. I will ask personal questions.
He sighed, sadness showing through his bright smile which sunk into a troubled frown.
“You sure do know your mythology.”
“I spent the last four months stuck in my cabin reading endless books of it,” I muttered to myself.
“You see the Greeks, bless their souls, wanted a more fairytale ending to my story, but I’m afraid Psyche never woke up from that dreadful curse. She will for ever remain my sleeping beauty, but even my magical kiss will not wake her.”
“Oh. That’s sad,” I said stating the obvious.
He grimaced. “Why don’t we get to the point? Your friend, the daughter of Zeus, Thalia, I think it is, was right about a titan rising here in Columbus. Unfortunately, you are more of a burden to her here than a help.”
“Okay, and why is that?” I prompted.
“The titan of dawn is more foe than friend to you. She is the determining factor of whether Nyx rises or not. Do not fight her quite yet for if she is destroyed before Nyx, the Titaness of Night will be at her most powerful. She and Eos aren’t the closest of friends, in fact they despise each other. Luckily for you Eos may be on your side and doesn’t want the world for herself she may even be your ally. Alas, you cannot dwell here. Let the children of Zeus stay here and keep here at bay with their company. You must continue on your quest let nothing stop you from surging forward.”
“You do realize right now you’re keeping me from eating and getting on my way.” I said.
Eros laughed. “Clever girl, it is not a wonder why my mother has taken quite the interest in you.”
“I’m sorry Lea, she seems to have a taste for the heroes that want her ‘blessings’ the least. I’ll try my best to subdue her attempts to meddle.”
“You’d do that?” I asked.
“I’ll try. I like you Lea. You and Psyche have a lot in common. Except the fact that you are far more intelligent.”
“And I’m awake.”
“Maybe,” he said and then winked.
My heart fluttered, and I smacked it for it’s stupidity. Which must have looked strange cause Eros raised a brow at me.
“We’re here,” I said when I spotted the Beaumont Street. sign.
“Thank you, fair one.” He let go of my hand and turned away from me looking up at the sky. I noticed a faint pattern on the back of his shirt, it had angel wings stenciled in white onto it. Just before I could say anything more, the stencil began to move, expand, and then fold out. The wings grew and solidified on his back. Full white wings stretched from his shoulder blades and his shirt faded into nothing, which I deeply enjoyed and later cursed myself for. He turned to me and smiled.
“Cool trick, eh?” flashed a grin and with one quick flick of his wings launched him into the sky. Before he turned into a silhouette he turned to me and said, “Good luck,” and was gone.
I briskly walked back to the Italian restaurant. Nico was waiting out front for me.
“Why aren’t you eating with the others?” I asked.
“I wanted to wait for you. Ya know just in case that guy turned out to me a monster,” he shrugged looking bashfully at his sneakers; black converse.
“Nope just Eros,” said leading him into the restaurant. It was a pleasant place with dim lighting and hardwood floors, and a very authentic Italy vibe.
“Eros?” sputtered Nico.
“Yeah, he warned us that we better keep moving and let Eos rise here.”
“Eos, the titan of dawn?”
“Yeah, I’ll fill you in on the train ride. We have a whole lot more rules and regulations on this quest than I would like.”
We slid into the booth next to Percy who was downing an entire loaf of bread like a hungry barbarian. The waiters were even giving him weird looks.
I took a minute to get a better look at Nico. He looked about fourteen, maybe younger, maybe older. But no younger than thirteen and no older than fifteen. He had olive skin that wasn’t too tan or too pale. Thick, luscious black hair that swept to the left. A dusting of freckles across the bridge of his nose. Muscular arms that move gracefully and gently. He looked a whole lot like Eros. Which scared me. The thought that maybe Eros adapted how he looked to what you thought was most attractive creeped into my head. I sure hoped not. Eros and Nico could be brothers and I prayed to the gods (well, except for Aphrodite) that I was just dreaming it.
But there was thing I knew for sure, since I had met Eros there was something different about Nico; either he had changed or something about the way I saw him had.
Eros told me Aphrodite would meddle and I had a feeling this was her first act of ‘kindness’.
Thalia waved her hand in front of my face.
“Sorry zoning,” I apologized as I came out of my trance.
“So you met Eros? Was he hot?” she asked nudging me. “Sorry I had to ask. But did he tell you anything?”
“Yeah, yeah and yeah. You guys have to make friends with the Titaness of Dawn and we have to get going, now.”