Percy stared at me and blinked with dumb anticipation, “The what?”
“The Sierras, it’s a mountain range near where I used to live.”
“I-I think I might’ve flown over those on giant bronze angels once,” said Percy.
“Okay…..” I said cautiously waiting for him to say he was joking, and then I made the mental connection. Demigod.
“Do you think Nyx is rising on one of the peaks?” inferred Nico.
“Yeah, the highest one, but I forgot what it’s called,” I racked my brain for any hint at the name I used to know so well. My brain refused to even give me a hint.
“We’ll get a map once we reach Cleveland, we’ll get there tomorrow afternoon,” said Percy.
“Now sleep,” said Mea, her voice soothing and calm. She began to sing a lullaby in a voice that was like honey, sweet and soft. She was singing something in what I recognized as Celtic, then in Greek, Latin, French, Italian, the girl was much more than bilingual.
Within a few minutes I passed out right on top of Percy, but when you're on a quest it’s not that personal.
When I woke up, Percy was sprawled out over half the boat, and Nico covered the rest. Percy’s foot was dangling in the water; his green Converse soaked by the mini waves lapped up against it. I, however was curled up next to Percy, my arm flung over his chest and my head lying just below his collarbone. I really didn’t feel like moving. He was warm and the wind that blew off the lake chilled me to the core, especially with no blankets, and only a hoodie and jeans to keep me warm.
This is what it felt like to have a brother, I thought. It was nice, but I knew it wouldn’t last.
It was then that I noticed something different, the sky. I thought it was still night, but no, it was cloudy. Seriously cloudy. The clouds churned a dark purplish-blue. Thunder rumbled softly, then roared angrily and a whip-like crack of lightning lashed out of the sky. The bolt skittered through the sky in one luminescent streak. Percy jumped into full upright sitting position, flinging me to the prow of the boat. He looked around, alert and attentive.
“Just thunder.” I said.
He relaxed a bit but he still looked conflicted, “Strange. It’s been nice our entire trip. I wasn’t expecting a cloudy day, especially not...” he paused as thunder rumbled again and large heavy droplets of water began to slap down on us, “Rain.”
Nico groaned and sat up rubbing his eyes, “Rain?” he asked. It was like in the movies: one second, clear sky, next second pouring.
“Yeah,” I replied rubbing my arms, trying to get some more warmth, but I was already so wet that my attempts were futile.
Percy noticed and rummaged through his bag, he pulled out a huge grey waterproof windbreaker, “We’ll get you something new in Cleveland.”
I nodded in thanks, pulling on the thin polyester jacket, that was only six sizes too giant on me.
Mea was gone but Percy reassured me that she’d show up to say good bye. He sounded more like he was reassuring himself. We skidded across Lake Erie, the wind and rain lashing at us to a point where my face felt sore.
After about an hour I began to see tall skyscrapers over the horizon. Cleveland was big. I kept on expecting small towns, but I guess if you know a city’s name, it’s probably big. As I watched the city come closer I noticed something strange, all of the lightning that flashed across the sky converged at one point, the highest skyscraper. I knew lightning was attracted to high metal objects but this was different, supernatural.
“That’s not right,” Percy confirmed.
“What do you think is going on?” I asked.
In response I saw it, like a remake of King-Kong something began to climb that tower, a giant teenage boy, in a loincloth. Gross.
Then I noticed there were two of them, both teenage boys with curly, sand-blond hair and Grecian loincloths, at least 150 feet tall, trying to climb the skyscraper. They were huge, burly boys, mid-twenties at most, and shaggy hair covered their bodies. The rain reflected off of their enormous muscles like in those disgusting body building commercials. We were about three miles away, but I could already smell them, it was body odor to the max. These guys needed some serious AXE. They tried and tried to get a firm grip on the huge building, in order to climb it like a firehouse pole, but it was not working.
It was also by far the strangest thing I’d ever seen.
“Aloadae,” said a voice behind me, but when I turned around no one was there, but that was the least of my worries.
“What are they doing?” asked Nico.
“Whatever they’re doing it doesn’t look good,” said Percy, flicking his hand and making the boat speed on at what felt like at least 100 mph.
We passed by a building that looked vaguely familiar, and we shot up the shoreline. The building was boxy and white with lots of glass.
“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” muttered Percy longingly, “I bet they have a whole section on ACDC. What a shame.”
As we got closer I began to see more in detail, the giant twins would attempt to climb up the side of the building, but every time they got a solid grip, lightning would strike down and shock them.
A tiny whirlwind circled around one of them, he swatted at it like a fly.
“I am Otus, you cannot hurt me little demigod!” he roared, but he was talking to the whirlwind, not us. Another demigod was fighting them, and a particularly powerful one.
“Jason.” said Percy.
“The son of Zeus?” I asked.
“Yeah, and I think his sister’s with him.”
We ditched the boat at a small marshy area with a small boardwalk over the reeds, a direct path into the city. When we were about a hundred feet in from the shore, jogging, Percy stopped. He looked back, hesitant and sad. He never got the chance to say goodbye to Mea.
He shook his head and jogged up to me, “I’ll see her again, it’s just how things work for demigods whether we want it to or not,” he reasoned but I could tell he already missed her, they’d bonded on a godly level and it was easy to see.
We jogged for about fifteen minutes, my pack weighing me down, the water that it was soaked with having added a few extra pounds. We finally reached town square to see that there was absolutely nobody outside, and I don’t think it was just because of the weather. Then I saw what was making the lightning. A teenage girl, dressed in complete silver, stood before the giants raising her spear and yelling something I couldn’t hear over the thunder. When she raised her spear, lightning streaked down from the sky. Striking the tip of her spear, she promptly stabbed one of the giants in the foot. It didn’t react at all.
The giants looked exactly the same, which was extremely confusing for me, but then I noticed they both wore large bangles on their wrists. One wore gold, the other wore silver.
“Thalia!” yelled Percy.
The girl jumped and spun around, she had sharp features, pale skin, electric blue eyes, literally, and a splatter of freckles across the bridge of her nose. She looked about sixteen but there was something in her eyes that told me she was older and wiser.
We dropped our bags in the middle of the road.
“Percy? Nico?” she asked, cocking her head to the side.
Thalia glanced up at the silver bangled giant, he was too busy trying to climb to care about her, all she was to him was a small static shock.
“What are you guys doing here?” she asked, “And who’s that?” she said nodding to me.
“Questing.” said Percy, “Thalia meet Lea, Primum cruor of Morpheus. Lea meet Thalia, daughter of Zeus, former pine tree, and current leader of the Hunters of Artemis.”
“Primum cruor?” asked Thalia, “I think I’ve heard of you. You took down a Kraken right?”
“That’s me.” I agreed, “Any plans for the…” I paused, “Future?” I said gesturing to the Giant now scaling the building.
“Jason and I can’t seem to take them down, they're too big, and it seems we can only stall them. Any ideas?” she asked putting her hands on her hips.
“Yeah, maybe.” I said,” Call Jason down.”
“Yeah?” asked a voice behind me.
I jumped, behind me stood a teenage boy, probably sixteen, maybe seventeen. He had the same eyes as Thalia but light blonde hair and a small scar above his lip. He looked like an actor I liked, Alex Pettyfer, so in other words, he was really freaking good-looking. I wondered if that was routine for every child of the Big Three. Godly good looks.
“Okay I guess we’re all here.” and I quickly did a summarization in my head before I said it aloud, “Nico, summon all the dead you can, they’ll serve as a distraction. Percy get me up to those guys faces, we’ll take out their eyes. I don’t mean that literally, well at least not physically out of their sockets” I said replying to Percy’s appalled facial expression, “Jason, Thalia go up to the lightning rod, there should be some wires or cords up there, hook them to the lightning rod and then to the giants’ bangles and I think you know where I’m going.”
Jason nodded, “I don’t know who you are, but you’re smart.”
Thalia looked uncomfortable, “I think I’ll just stay down here with Nico, a better distraction, ya know?” She shifted uneasily. There was something she was avoiding.
“Jason, do you think you’ll manage?” I asked.
“Totally.” and with a single jump, he rocketed up and out of sight.
Percy looked at me, “You’re my new Annabeth.” then he paused, “That DID NOT come out right. I mean you’re just like her in the way you plan. As if there is no other way to do it.”
“Can you think of another way?” I asked.
He grinned, “Of course not, because that’s not my job.”
He grabbed me around the waist and the rain began to swirl around us, then we blasted off. It was like the Tower of Terror times three, so fast I felt like my face was being stretched apart.
In no time we were level with the gold bangled giant’s face. He looked stupidly at us, “More demigods? I smell fish. I do not like fish!”
“Nice to meet you too!” yelled Percy, “Ready?” he asked me.
“Not at all, let’s go!”
Percy flung me straight into the giants face, which was so wrinkled with stupid anger it was easy to grip onto, but not to mention really gross and weird to me. Hanging onto a giant teenage boy’s face for dear life as he tries to scale a large building. Yeah that’s how I planned on spending my weekend.
I climbed up his pale skin as he tried to swat at me like I was a spider.
“Ephaltes will not tolerate you!” the giant yelled.
When I finally reached his eye, he was shaking his head around like he was listening to heavy metal. Quite a wild ride for me. Just as I was about to be flung a thousand feet to my death, I snatched one of his huge eyelashes. Which was the size of a thin rope, but nowhere near the same consistency.
I was only about as tall as his pupil was big. I gripped dramatically to that eyelash lifeline with one hand and pressed my necklace with the other. Now the only worry, well, besides falling, was dropping my sword. Mine didn’t magically reappear like Percy’s and even if it did, I wasn’t willing to experiment now. I gripped tightly onto the handle and silently wished that Giant pupils weren’t filled with liquid. Then with one long swish of my sword, I felt it cut through the gooey flesh of the cornea. My sixth grade cow eyeball dissection seemed like a walk in the park now. A deafening roar cut through the air and I knew I had hit my mark, but at the same time Ephaltes did the ultimate Willow Smith and he jerked his head strongly to the left. My grip on his eyelash wasn’t strong enough and weightlessness overtook my body. I was in mid-air, then streaking towards the asphalt. Who would save me now?
Apparently, Jason would. Because when I was only four-hundred feet from a gross, splattery death, I was side tackled by I muscle-toned body.
I choked on the air around me as I suddenly gained my 104 pounds of weight back.
“So what’s your name?” asked Jason.
“Ummm, Lea, nice catch by the way,” I replied shyly.
“Thanks, I’ve had a lot of practice. Let’s get you on some solid ground, get ready for some fireworks.”
He set me on the ground next to Nico, who was bent over panting. Summoning the dead took the life out of him. I watched as Percy took out the other giant, Otus’ eye. Both giants thrashed around violently, hands covering their eyes. Both of them yelling in agony.
Jason turned to Thalia, “Do you think you can do this?”
“Yeah,” she said, her face a pale white from nerves. “Just don’t drop me.”
Jason held onto her waist firmly. Then they exploded off of the ground and flew into the air.
“Thalia is afraid of heights,” Nico explained to me.
“Oh, that kind of sucks.” I said. It was ironic, a child of the Sky Lord afraid of heights. I felt bad for her.
Percy landed next to me, “Well, that was interesting.”
We watched in silence as Jason connected what looked like really long jumper cords to the big metal bangle that each giant was wearing, then disappeared.
I prepared myself for the worst.
The sky exploded with a sound like every building was crumbling around us, but it was only the thunder. But you know how it is with thunder there is always... the huge bolt struck down as quick as, well, lightning and struck the rod.
The smell of electricity hung in the air for a few seconds then, I watched as the long silver-blue line of energy streaked down the cord, hit the bangles, and spread out like a web. The giants cried out one last time, and exploded into dust. It must have been very... shocking... for them.
Bad pun, I know, get over it.
Percy looked at me. “Nice plan.”
“Thanks.” I said, then started coughing. It reeked of fried hair, and the only reason I knew that smell was because I walked by the Aphrodite cabin every morning while they straightened their hair.
Jason and Thalia landed down next to Percy.
“Nice job,” I said to them.
“Thanks,” said Jason, who looked so tired that he’d pass out any minute.
“Those were some weird looking giants,” I said.
“Not the weirdest I’ve ever seen,” said Jason.
“Giants can get pretty far out, with snake dandruff, scales, and other things,” summed Percy.
“Like dreadlocks with weapons weaved into them,” added Jason.
“So what were they after anyway?” asked Nico.
“You see those keys up there?” said Thalia pointing to the giant red keys on the side of the building near the very top, “The keys on Key Tower, are actual keys to the Underworld, they’ve been kept a secret for a while now. But now that the word is out a lot of monsters have been trying to get to them. Jason and I have been assigned to protect them for a while until the monsters get the idea that they’re off limits.”
“Why would monsters want to go to the Underworld?” I asked.
“So they can let loose some of the monsters and souls that are trapped there,” explained Thalia, “Any entrance to the Underworld is a big problem for the gods.”
I looked at Nico, who was a whole lot paler than usual, his eyes were wide.
I changed the subject a bit. “So why don’t monsters of a smaller size just go in the normal way?” I pictured a bunch of kobaloi riding up the elevator next to a woman in a business suit, screaming her head off. Maybe it wasn’t such a grand idea.
“The building’s enchanted, no monsters can go inside if they intend to take the keys.” said Thalia.
“Why couldn’t you just enchant the keys to make it so that monsters couldn’t touch them or something?” I asked.
“That’s a really good question, but you’d have to ask the gods,” said Percy. “Sometimes they don’t think as straight forward as we do.”
“So where are you guys headed?” asked Jason.
“Columbus,” I replied.
“Really, that’s cool. I would ask you more about your quest, but you guys better get going, there is a bus leaving for Columbus at noon,” he said.
“How did you know that?” I asked.
“We’re headed to Columbus tomorrow,” he replied.
“Because Zeus said something important was happening there.” said Thalia.
“Did he tell you what?”
“No, but I think a Titan might be rising there,” said Thalia. “A big one.”