The Trial of the Rivers

All is going well for Lea as she finishes her time as a god, but when Nico goes mysteriously missing things take a turn for the worse. No longer welcome at camp, and with new power on the rise, Lea is doubting her decisions to stay mortal. Then when news from the gods comes, saying that Lord Hades has been overthrown, Lea and some other experienced demi-gods must travel west to take back the underworld.

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11. 11- My Grandpa Takes Me On a Magic Chariot Ride

11- My Grandpa Takes Me On a Magic Chariot Ride
Riding a sea monster is a much smoother than riding a Pegasus, which is certainly something I would have never guessed before discovering I was demigod. Luckily, out ride was undisturbed by any significant monsters, at one points some dracaena in Colorado tried to throw spears at us, but Norman gobbled them up before they could do much damage. Norman also snatched up a few cows on our way, which I felt somewhat guilty about I could imagine the poor farmer who would come out to his ranch the next morning to find that three cows have mysteriously disappeared. I was just glad it was livestock that Norman was eating and not pedestrians. That could result in some strange news reports. I wondered what this looked like through the mist. I could see the headlines now “Colorado Man Eaten By Blue Triple Decker Tour Bus”.
By the next afternoon we had made it halfway through Arizona. We were almost to California. 
Annabeth turned around and said to me, pointing to the town up ahead, “Sedona, we’ll have to go around, wouldn’t want to scare anyone, maybe if we need to we can go into town for a supply run.”
I hoped so, it would be good to see humanity again. It wasn’t that we’d been away from civilization for so long, it just felt like it’d been a while since I saw someone who wasn’t a demigod. 
It the early afternoon sun, it was scorching hot, the bright June sun, mid-way though the sky, soaking through my skin into my back, frying it for sure. Everything glowed warm orange against the rock pillars. 
Our canteens were almost empty so we’d have to stop and get water soon, especially in the desert heat. Dehydration was more a threat than any monsters at the moment. 
I tugged on the right pant leg of my jegging reins, and Norman slithered to a stop. With a quick tug on both legs, Norman lowered his head to the ground Annabeth and Percy hopped off. 
“We’ll be back in twenty minutes,” said Annabeth, “Bring Norman if we take any longer then that.”
She readjusted the four water bottles and two canteens that were strapped together, hanging from her shoulder. 
Percy waved and said, “Stay safe.”
I laughed to a little to myself, How much trouble could I get into sitting on top of a Ceta in the middle of a desert?
Apparently, a lot. 
Percy and Annabeth began the approximately twenty minute long walk into town while I rested lazily on Norman’s back next to the vacant  highway. 
There was a yellow street sign that read “Snake crossing” and had a picture of a rattlesnake. I stared at it for a little while, and the more I did the more it twisted in my mind. It was like one of those physcadelic pictures, that look like there moving but aren’t. The letter’s twisted and turned in on one another, “Dang dyslexia,” I cursed to myself, but continued to stare. 
The words reconfigured themselves, “Dracones Crossing,” the picture warped from a common rattlesnake to some much larger a vicious looking. 
I scrambled up Norman’s back. 
Dracones, we’re the various dragons of mythology and they were certainly not to be messed with. 
Norman seemed just as anxious as I, every few minutes he’d shake his head disdainfully and snarl at nothing. 
I decided it would be best to stay put for now, out in the open where Percy and Annabeth could find me. 
Festus Jr. crawled up my leg and stood on my stomach unsheathing and retracting his claws, in his moth were the two wings yet to be put on him and using his prehensile tail to held the screw driver. 
“Alright bud,” I said to him “I guess now’s a good time.”
He stood in show dog position in my palm, rigid as a board and waited patiently as I used the tiny little screws to attach the delicate gold wings to his back. It wasn’t hard, and I knew my way around a screwdriver, I’ve changed plenty of battery’s in my day, so I knew how to do this. 
When both wings had been attached to Fetus Jr.’s body, he spun around a few times flapping them hesitantly, then took off. He glided for a few seconds, dropped, then flapped his wings and flew off and out of view. 
I had been ditched by a tiny wind-up dragon, this was a new extent of loneliness. Now I was stuck with my only friend, a blind cow-eating sea monster. 
Which is a lot weirder saying out loud. 
I stroked Norman’s side for a few minutes trying to shift my way into a more comfortable position in the hot sun. When I had finally gotten into a nice reclined state of whatever, the moment had to be ruined. 
Norman decided it was a good time to get going, and fast. He slithered as quickly as he could, which was surprisingly fast, in the direction we’d come. I had to scramble to grab onto the jeggings to keep from falling off of his slick spine. 
“Whoa, whoa, Norman!” I yelled, “WHAT is it?”
He was clearly fleeing from something, but what would a ten story high sea serpent be afraid of. 
The answer was three, twenty story high land-serpents.
They unwound themselves from the large rock mounds where they had hidden themselves. One was a sickly green, with severely spiked scales and slitted yellow eyes. The other two matched the landscape, but were no less threatening, pale orange brown, with white eyes, no iris and only a pupil they were definitely the most frightening thing I’d seen…ever. 
I recognized all three instantly. 
Python, the most venomous, The Delyphne dragon, known for her viciousness and speed, and the Colchian Dragon, who was always awake and alert. 
In other words, I was screwed. 
Norman was nowhere near fast enough to get away, especially from the Delphyne dragon. 
Norman did what sounded like a nervous bray, quivered underneath me. 
“It’s alright buddy,” I lied, “Maybe they’ll leave us alone.”
At this point they were slithering right towards us, the looked in there eyes clearly said, “Yum, Ceta ala demigod.”
I pulled my shield out of my pocket and twisted of my sword disk,  unsheathing it. I pulled out a few forks from my custom made messenger bag and breathed deep preparing myself. 
Game, plan, what I need was a game plan. 
First focus on taking down The Delphyne dragon, she would cause the most trouble if she was let loose. 
They were about  two hundred yards away when I heard a strange whooshing sound. 
Oh great, another factor for me to add up. 
I really sucked at this plan thing. 
“WAZZUP?” called a voice next to me.
I whipped my head to the side to see Apollo on his golden chariot, pulled by two very restless flying horses. He had pulled up right next to me, smiling brilliantly.
He wore ray-bans and a bro tank, with cut off shorts and flip flops and looked as hot as ever. What’s up with all my godly friends and good looks? I guess it was a pretty good way to sway me into immortality, endless days with the finest looking guys on the planet. 
“Man!” he yelled, excited, “I love Arizona weather!” 
“It’s a bit hot for my taste,” I yelled back. 
He shrugged, “Only now that I’ve arrived.”
I ignored that, not wanting to boost his ego any more, “I thought gods weren’t allowed to interfere with quests, especially not to help.”
“Ah, you know I’m a rebel,” he replied, “Plus this is a bit personal.”
He nodded at Python, “That’s my kill.”
I nodded back, and he held out a hand, I jumped on the surprisingly stable chariot next to him. 
We zoomed towards the Dracones, leaving Norman far behind.
It was only then that I recalled how much I hate chariots, I clung onto Apollo clutching his extremely ripped forearm.  He seemed way too happy about that. 
He light blond hair whipped around in the wind and he was smiling and laughing as we darted around the dragons heads. For a second I stared at him, gods, he was beautiful, a spitting image of Alex Pettyfer. 
I shook my head, this guy was my step-grandpa. Weird, but not less strange than the fact that I stabbed my grandma a few months ago.  
Welcome to the severely messed up life of a demigod. 
When we got close enough to  the Delphyne dragon, I launched my self off the open back of the chariot, at this point in my life I had gotten used to the feeling of freefall, and was willing to jump off about anything. Honestly, if someone told to step off the edge of the Empire State building I would do it, as long as there was a net, Pegasus or a Jason there to catch me.
I sky divided for a few seconds and caught myself on one of Delphyne’s head spikes swinging myself onto her forehead. She stared up at me cross-eyed, not quite sure what to do. She then shot forward, gliding across the landscape easily. We must have covered at least twelve miles before, she found what she was look for a stone column directly next a natural stone arch. For a second I was confused, my perch on her slightly slanted forehead seemed like a pretty safe place, that was until she began to slam her face into the stone column. Before I was smashed into the red rock, by her head banging, I  slid onto her extremely slick back. She apparently didn’t notice the fact that I was no longer on her face, she was too busy whamming her head into the rock to notice and intern continued doing so. After a few minutes of this strange scene she looked at the spot where she expected to see smashed pink demigod, only to be disappointed. She looked around dizzily, very confused. 
I slid down her back and ran up to the stone arch. Thank the gods for my endless runs up the stonewall at Camp, or else I wouldn't have been nearly so good at closing my small nimble fingers around the cracks and crevices in the rock. I climbed into the base of the arch, in plain sight. 
It took a minute for Delphyne to notice me and when she did, she gave the most threatening glare I have ever gotten from a giant snake. She lunged towards me and I jumped out of the way skidding slightly against the rough stone, then ran back around the arch, one loop complete. I prayed to Olympus that this cliché plan would work. Delphyne was strong not smart. She continued to follow me with her head as I scrambled through the arch again and again. After about five laps she had either caught on or gotten stuck, because she no longer moved to follow me, her body now knotted around the natural arch way that was the key to my success. She hissed at me spitefully trying to back out of the arch, but it was no use, she was too tightly wound. She bared all of her jagged teeth at me, a flash of golden light streaked past me and lodged itself in the she-dragon’s throat. I looked away, and with a flare of golden light, she was gone. A pair of snake skin shoes was all that was left in her place. 
“You want them?” asked Apollo who was now next to me in the chariot.
I raised an eyebrow at him.
“Didn’t think so,” he continued stepping off his chariot picking them up snapping his fingers and magically changing into them. Despite their hideousness he rocked them. 
He invited me back onto the chariot, which I accepted hesitantly, it was my only way back. 
“All of them are dead,” he said, “all of them, well, almost.”
He looked sad instead of proud which I found quite odd, but I didn’t say anything. 
We zoomed back to the open in a flash of light. Without even moving I was somehow back on the ground next to Norman and Apollo was gone. 
Norman was lying down, breathing heavily. 
His back was to me. 
I walked around to his front  and gasped. 
His milky white eyes stared at me, blinking expectantly. 
Two puncture marks oozed black liquid on his neck.
He had been bitten by Python.
I didn’t no what to do, the only cure was the golden fleece, which of curse was not an option. 
I thought on what Apollo had just said, “All of them are dead.”
I began to cry, but since I was so dehydrated from not drinking for the past few hours, no tears came out. I stroked Norman’s head and said through sobs “It’s alright, bud. You’re gonna be okay, It’ll be over in a few minutes.”
I had only met the guy yesterday, but he was like a large puppy with scales, like my old dog Makkie who had died a few years ago. Even though when I first met him, we were trying to kill each other, I really didn’t want him to die. Not now, not yet, not ever.
His breathes became slower, turning into wheezes, and his body slacked.
I remembered what the prophecy had said about me:
On the quest she stands forsaken, 
left to watch as her friends are taken,
It looks like the Fates would take any friend I had away from me, no matter what species.
Norman lay before me motionless.
He must have tried to help Apollo, and faced his fears by facing both Python and the Colchian Dragon at the same time and ended up getting bitten. 
As Khoine had said: this was the Age of Sacrifice, as he had done for me.
I could tell someone had sent the Dracones back up from Tartarus, to get in our way. 
Now it was time to take advantage of the Age of Revenge.

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