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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14. 14- I Face Prophecies, Praetors and Prius’


We packed up our bags, and I hesitantly left the shower behind. Percy broke into a emerald green minivan, with a license plate that read “SSSSSSS” which I guessed once belonged to the dracaena’s, either than or the old lady who owned the inn had a very strange collection of Greek armor, which she kept in the trunk. After “borrowing” the minivan we sped off down a highway we listened to the local alt-rock station, singing along loudly, with the windows rolled down whipping around our hair. It was a few hours of perfection, just two normal teens going on a road trip in a stolen dragon ladies’ minivan. I let my arm rest out of the window, feeling the wind through my fingers, every once in a while, I would twirl my fingers letting a little pink glow emerge. Percy noticed after while, “You’re getting better at that,” he said. 
“Yeah,” I replied, “I went to the dream realm last night and my dad and uncles taught me a few tricks.”
Percy looked surprised but just nodded, “Cool,” he said. 
It must have been a little weird for him to hear that while we were asleep I was actually talking to gods. 
There was a few minutes of awkward silence, but when Priscilla Ahn’s ‘Dream” came on the radio, we both looked at each other and smiled, remembering the first time we’d met. I sang along and Percy drove in silence, listening to me, looking over at me every few seconds and smiling. When the song ended, he began talking again, “I think that we should drive past Los Angles at first, go to San Francisco, get Roman reinforcements, restock, and recuperate and then go to the underworld. I don’t want to delay the underworld that much, but I don’t want to jump in unprepared. Plus, the prophecy said, ‘Recall those who have gone before’ and that includes Frank and Hazel, so we’d better go anyways.”
“I’m down,” I said, “I could really do with some R&R.”
Honestly, I really did want to get to the underworld ASAP but I didn’t think Percy and I could do it by ourselves. 
We drove uninterrupted for the next six hours, we stopped at a diner and got cheeseburgers, then drove for the next twelve hours. I fell in and out of sleep, I could tell Percy was near the edge of passing out from exhaustion, but he was keeping himself awake by drinking gallons worth of Coffee with ambrosia as sweetener. 
It got to a point where I would just transfer my energy essence to him, wishing that I could drive so that we could take shifts. By this time I began to recognize the landscape. We were already near San Francisco, it took a while, but a lot less than I expected. I watched the landscape pass, becoming more and more familiar. I also noticed that we were being followed. 
I groaned when I saw the bat-like shapes flying above us. 
“Furies,” I sighed. 
Percy groaned and rolled his yes in response, we’d both dealt with these desperate, unfaithful, creatures before, they were more of a nuisance than a threat at his point, us being so close to Camp Jupiter. 
I heard one screech and it swooped closer to our car. 
“Ten more minutes, just leave us alone for ten more minutes,” pleaded Percy, the irritation in his voice more than evident. 
Another screech and then one of them collided with our windshield, Percy swerved a little, surprised by the thunk and due to the fleeting blind spot. 
A few cars around  us honked, apparently confused by the vultures that were attacking our car. 
“That’s it!” said Percy, pointing to a tunnel not far ahead. 
“How are we going to get there without getting run over, attacked or worse.”
“Strap your bag on, and when I say so bail, I’m going to swerve out of the way and then jump out with you, the van with hit the tunnel side and cause a minor explosion, hopefully enough of a distraction, and then the guards will hopefully take care of the furies.”
That sounded like a good enough plan as any. 
Percy counted down for me as I secured my duffel bag to my body, “5…4…3…2…1!”
I slammed open the car door, hitting one of the furies in the process and rolled out, back up to my feet. A dodged my way through traffic. Before I knew it Percy was next to me, I glanced to the side to see, the minivan collide with one of the tunnel walls, it must have had some Greek fire in the back, because the explosion was much larger than I expected and the hot air threw me back a few feet. I skidded across the black cement, and just nearly avoided getting crushed by a Sudan and then a RV. I heard Percy yell something, it might have been my name, but my hearing wasn’t quite working so well after the explosion, I turned to look up at the sky to see if more Furies were trying to get me, but I really should have looked forward to see the Prius. There was a brief second were I could see a mortified soccer mom and her three extremely enthralled ten year old boys watch me as my eyes widened. Then I hit their windshield, there was a crack, which I hoped was the glass and not my bones and then I rolled over the top of the car. There was a lot of screaming, which I guessed came from inside the car and maybe myself. When I was finally on the ground again, I didn’t even hesitate, I sprinted to the side of the road, jumping over a small silver Corolla. I finally made it to where Percy was waiting, he pulled me over the barrier, and up to two boys in full armor, shooting at the furies one with a crossbow the other with a regular bow. The one with the bow turned to the other and said, “I’ll get them through, cover us, as soon as were all in you follow.”
He took one last shot, getting a fury on her left wing causing her to fall for a few feet before picking herself back up, but with difficulties. Then the boy unlatched the door and shoved me through. When the door shut I realized there were only three of us.
The archer said, “He must have though it unsafe to leave anymore time for the Unkindly Ones to get through.”
“He sacrificed himself?” I asked, shocked. 
We leaned against the walls, catching our breath.
“It was his choice,” said the archer boy,  he looked me up and down with watery blue eyes, “we need to get you to the infirmary.”
I looked at my hands, bloody and cut from the pavement.  Yeah, I could do with a Band-Aid. 
Something slammed against the door, I jumped back, preparing myself, letting the pink glow emanate from my hands. 
The door crashed open, outside I could see the boy with the crossbow, battling two furies with a sword, but what worried me more was the furies now hissing at us from the doorway. 
I growled back, which was strange fro me, but oh well, then lifted my hand parallel to the creatures face and with a flash of pink light it passed out, the archer finished the job. That took care of one of them, but unfortunately it had got another’s attention. 
“RUN!” shouted the boy. 
We raced down the camber, the fury screeching, half-flying, half-loping after us. The pipes on the wall exploded, water gushed out pushing the fury back. 
“I didn’t mean to do that!” Shouted Percy. 
“You didn’t!” shouted the boy.
The archer pulled off his helmet revealing soft rich brunette hair, turned back to me, and grinned, “Jared, son of Fontus, god of Springs, pleasure to meet you Graceus.” He reached out and shook my hand with both of us still running.
“Lea Reclin, daughter of Morpheus, god of dreams, the pleasure is all mine,” I replied through my heavy breathing. 
“Oh yeah, I’ve heard of you, you’re the Greek chick you killed your great-grandma a few months back.”
“That’s me,” I replied. 
The Fury screeched from behind us.
Jared turned and fired and arrowed over his shoulder, he was a good shot, but the fury was fast and she dodged so that the arrow just barely scathed her shoulder. 
We were only ten feet away from the door but the Fury was catching up quickly. 
I hastily undid the latch and kicked open the door, revealing blinding sunlight. In the few seconds it took for my eyes to adjust, the Fury had caught up. She slashed Jared across the face with her claws, and I could tell he regretted taking off his helmet to show off his face. Percy stood trying to shield his eyes from the sun, I did what instinct made me do, I unsheathed my sword, and while I watched as Jared fell in slow motion, I turned and swung my blade, cutting the Furies’ head clean off. She exploded into dust. 
And that was how I introduced myself to the Romans. 
I offered Jared a hand up and said, “Looks like we need to get you to the infirmary also.” 
He chuckled at little and accepted my help. 
I looked out over the camp, it was exactly how Percy had described it, except a little more chaotic, there were campers everywhere, some fighting hellhounds others battling skeletons and some standing staring at me with mouths open. Apparently they weren’t used to girls in pink beheading demons. 
“Sorry, but your just about as safe here as you were out there,” said Jared, “The borders have been broken we’ve had attacks like this going on for days, luckily we have the numbers to keep them subdued. 
I heard a hellhound whimper from behind me as we began to walk to what I expected was the infirmary. 
Jared continued, “Octavian says that Hades has been overthrown and the attacks will continue, and although he’s a prat, he’s usually right when it comes to prophecies.”
“It’s true,” I agreed. 
“Well…that sucks,” said Jared, he then signaled to a small blonde chick in armor, “Go send more soldiers to the entrance, Mickey needs reinforcements.”
“Yes, sir!” the girl squeaked and then sped away on her short legs. 
“Sir?” I asked.
“Yeah, he replied, “ I’m the head Centurion of the fourth cohort, kind of lame, but I can still tell people what to do.”
I pretended like I knew what he was saying, Percy had once tried to explain the cohort system to me, but I kind of tuned out after the first few words. 
Jared led us through the various battles, at one point a hellhound lunged at me but Jared intercepted, putting an arrow through the roof of the beasts mouth before it could do any damage. 
I estimated about twenty hellhounds total and around fifty skeletons, but around two hundred campers out in the fields. They had it under control, plus I was in no shape or mood to be fighting. 
I think I might have fractured my wrist, because the pain was so bad I had to cling it to my side and clench my teeth. We entered a low roofed marble building that would have been open aired with only columns for walls, but sheets of canvas had been hung between each marble post. There was two rows of about fifteen cots, most of them occupied. A lot of the injured had claw or bite marks, a few a had sword cuts and bruises, only one or two had broken bones. A beautiful tall girl with honey blonde hair and a warm smile drifted up to us and with a reassuring smile took my hand, I winced but let her examine the damage. 
“Fractured,” she said, “but we’ll get it fixed up in no time, sit here and I’ll go get some ambrosia and bandages,” she gestured to an empty cot and I sat down willingly.
She smiled at Jared, fluttering her eyelashes, making a little spark of jealousy light in my chest. 
I have possession issues. 
I don’t like girls being better at flirting than me, which is pretty much every girl. 
Percy stood looking over me, he tucked a few stray strands of my hair behind my ear. 
“Dang, kid, you iced a titan no problem but got taken out by a Prius, what’s up with you?” he said, lifting up my chin and prodding my shoulder playfully. 
He didn’t look nearly as beat up as me, apparently he was more practiced when I came to dive-rolling out of minivans. 
The blonde chick came back, and began to dab at my bleeding cuts with a washcloth and I gulped down nectar. The warmth spread throughout my body, I could feel myself healing from the inside out. 
I sighed, it felt so nice, like a campfire inside my chest, complete with smores, warm and friendly. 
Suddenly a hush feel over everyone, a respectful silence. 
In swept four people, in perfect pyramid formation, leading it was a beautiful girl with dark speculating eyes, that glared at me, her down-turned lips gave her an essence of regal snobbiness, but I could tell from her practically braided back hair and armor she was no frilly princess. 
“Reyna,” said Percy. 
She nodded, regarding him, then turned to me.
“What happened to you?” she demanded, looking at my cuts then at me. 
“Got rammed by a soccer mom in a hybrid,” I replied. 
For a second she didn’t reply, then she exhaled and the sides of her lips turned up, “alright then, from this day forth, no more hybrid driving football mothers allowed past the borders, since it has been proved they are hostile against guests.”
I laughed, I liked this chick, she was like a Xena warrior princess meets Lara Croft meets Twilight Princess Zelda. 
The blonde healer chick bobbed in between us tending to my cuts.
“I request council once you are healed,” she stated and then swept from the infirmary, a blonde boy with a scowl following her, looking back to glare at me. 
After Reyna had fully exited the building the other two who had come with her rushed forward, one a African American girl, about a year younger than me, jumped up and hugged Percy tightly. He lifted her up off the ground, and said happily, “Hazel! How are you doing?”
He set her back down and bro hugged the other person, a slightly rotund but adorable Chinese guy.
“I’m good,” said Hazel, “Frank I got here as quickly as we could when we heard you’d arrived. Are we still going on a quest?”
“Lea and I are in the process, actually,” said Percy gesturing down to me, “We need some reinforcements, if you guys wouldn’t mind coming along.”
Hazel smiled down at me, her eyes like gemstones, beautiful topaz, Percy had told me about their adventures together, she was pretty cool from what I heard. 
“Hey,” I said,” I’m Lea.”
She grinned, “Yeah, I’ve heard about you, you’re pretty tough.”
That was the best compliment I’d gotten from a stranger…ever.
“Uh, yah, thanks,” I replied, glancing down at my torn sneakers, the toe cap was completely torn off, exposing my toes. 
“We’ll get you some new ones,” offered the Chinese boy, then he extended a hand, “I’m Frank by the way.”
I shook his hand, “Nice to meet you.”
“We’ll leave you to get all healed up now, see you in bit,” said Frank, he nodded at Percy and Jared, then he and Hazel walked out the way they had come. 
It took about a half-an-hour and two glasses of nectar for me to stop feeling like road kill and by that time I was feverish. I don’t think they should have let me drink that much nectar. The healer probably thought I was more used to the strength of the divine drink. 
After getting his face cleaned up and helping bandage my hands, Jared took us to a armory (which had to be three times as large as Camp Half-Blood’s)  and pulled me out a size eight pair of combat boots, they were soft brown leather that fit tight to my foot. Comfy, but heavier than what I was used to.  
We walked up to a place called Temple Hill, the walk was a little exhausting for me, which was pathetic because it was only about a half-mile with a small slope. 
Jared said goodbye to me as soon as he saw the others waiting at the top of the hill, I wanted him to stay, but didn’t want to seem weird, since I’d only just met him. 
At the archway gating the building stood Reyna, Hazel, Frank and the blonde boy. At Reyna’s ankles sat two grey-hounds, beautiful in stature as they were in composition, both gleaming metallically, Aurum and Argentum, Gold and Silver. Percy had told me about them. As soon as I Percy and I reached the crowd, Hazel, Frank and the blonde kid walked away, Percy following them. Leaving me to face Reyna alone. 
She peered down at me, I looked pretty shabby, except my new boots, with my hands wrapped in gauze, ripped jeans, cut face and only about half of my hair in my ponytail. 
The two dogs sat up and began to sniff around my ankles, they didn’t not growl in the slightest, the silver one looked up at me with ruby eyes, I stroked his smooth head, and looked back up at Reyna. 
“Truly virtuous,” she said, “You must not be a liar.”
“I see no need for it,” I replied, “Unless it is to protect my friends, or deceive my enemies.”
Reyna smirked, “I like you, Primum-cruor,” then she turned on her heal and walked towards a temple, making it obvious that I was to follow.
I didn’t know how to respond, I just gulped and trodded along behind her. 
She led my to a Greek styled building, that looked a lot like the Parthenon and walked up the stairs and into the darkness. 
I walked up the steps, hesitant, I didn’t like entering enclosed areas with people I don’t know very well, or dark places, or temples either, so this was kind a bad choice for me. 
Reyna was waiting inside. 
The marble was a simple silvery gray, that reflected so that, everything looks like a mirror, I saw way too many of myself, it also made me feel really short for some reason. Reyna was look up at a statue at the end of the hallway-like room. A harsh looking goddess, who strongly resembled Reyna, the same taught face, naturally glaring eyes, and arched eye brows.
“Bellona,” announced Reyna, “My mother.”
Her voice echoed of the shadowy walls. 
Aurum and Argentum weaved through the pillars. 
“Isn’t it disrespectful to talk loudly in a temple?” I asked, trying to keep my voice low, but still clear. 
“No,” replied Reyna, with a small haughty laugh, “I think your confusing this with a library.”
“Oh,” I said. 
“And don’t worry,” she continued, “My mother doesn’t mind, we are two respectable lady-warriors, come sit, she shall discuss plans.”
She gestured for me to sit next to her on the stairs leading up to the shrine and statue.
I sat down on her right, and nervously began to French braid back the little bits of hair that weren’t long enough to properly fit in to my ponytail, tucking them into the golden hair band.
Without asking my permission, she smiled, and undid the rest of my hair, combing her fingers through it, easily untangling it.
“I used to work at a spa,” she said,  “That was until your friend, Percy, destroyed it,” she sounded a little bitter but more like it was an old story to laugh at now. 
“Ah,” I said, “That sounds like him.”
She skillfully twisted my hair into a long braid like hers, it felt nice to have my hair played with, I’d never really had any gal friends before to do my hair. I was that girl who always played  sports with the boys on the field, instead of socializing during lunch back at school.
She tied it back with the hair band Leo had given to me, after looking at it for a while, letting it rest in her palm, “This is pretty,” she had said.
“My friend Leo gave it to me,” I replied. 
“The same Leo who launched a small missile at my camp?” she asked, giggling, the tone of her voice nostalgic, almost admiring. 
“Most likely,” I replied, turning back around to face her, I could see my hair in the marbles’ reflection, it looked great, the soft pink and brown weaving into twisted patterns. 
“So,” she began, “Do you think you’d like to stay here once you’ve completed your quest?”
“Yeah,” I replied, “Maybe I’ll visit when Percy’s works as praetor, since I live near here, but just as a visitor. I don’t really want to be a camper, Percy says it’s a lot stricter here. Also I couldn’t get the tattoo, since I already have one there,” I said showing of my intricate poppy.
“I figured, you seem like a free spirit. I prefer order, but I respect you decision. I’d like you help you as much as I can.”
“Why?” I asked, “I mean you seem nice, but why are you so willing to help me along? I didn’t think Romans were into that.”
“Jason talks about you often when he’s here,” she said, “He seems to be quite the fan, I think we all respect your gusto. Bu maybe we’re just happy the pressure is off us.”
A little balloon of pride welled in my chest, She said I have gusto.
“Frank and Hazel will be assisting you on your way into Hades, and you will be fully equipped with new means of transportation and if there’s anything else you need just tell me. You will sleep in the barracks tonight among the fifth legion, which I figured you’d prefer since you’ll be with Frank, Hazel and Percy and you will depart in the morning.”
“Sweet,” I said, she apparently had it all planned out for us, “Thanks.”
“Now,” she said, standing up and helping me up along with her, “You have a council with Octavian the Augur.”
“The blonde kid?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said, bitterness in her voice, “The blonde kid.”
I recalled Jared saying something about a boy named Octavian being a prat, apparently that was a popular opinion. I also remembered Percy talking about a teddy bear murder, but he got pretty broken up when he started talking about a panda pillow pet, so I couldn’t hear him very well. 
Octavian was waiting outside, the others were gone, as she left Reyna put her hand on my shoulder, and gave me a look that clearly said, “Good luck, and try not to punch him, now matter how much you want to.”
I didn’t see much hope, I was already fighting the urge just looking at him, blank staring eyes, with a disapproving scowl. Like I was scum compared to him. 
Without saying a word he turned on his heel and began to stride up to the largest temple, “Hurry up!” he called back to me. 
I groaned and jogged up to his side. 
He pumped his long legs quickly, clearly wishing to leave me behind in his dust. He entered the temple and I followed him in. It was much more open than Bellona’s temple and reminded me a lot of Olympus, but instead of thrones there was a huge gold statue of Zeus in the middle. Which seemed a bit conceited, but then again it was Zeus we were talking about, or in this case Jupiter.  
There were intricate mosaic patterns of the floor and I felt bad stepping on the art, it was kind of against my nature. 
Octavian stood with his arms crossed, glaring at me, “I’m Octavian, an Augur, gifted with prophecy.”
“My friend Rachel does prophecies too, she just spits them out,” I said, enjoying the put down and annoyed look on his face, he wasn’t as special as he acted. 
“I’m also the legacy of Apollo,” he boasted. 
I chuckled and mutter, “Oh Apollo, where have your standards gone?”
Octavian looked outraged, his eyes widened, “You dare insult the lord Apollo!”
“Nah, man, it’s cool, Apollo and I are bros,” I said, reassuring him coolly. 
“Bros?” sputtered Octavian.  He was at such a state of disbelief he was practically doubled over, in order to hide this, he turned around and pulled out a knife, which made me a bit nervous. 
“Yeah,” I continued, enjoying watching him cringe, “I spent a lot of time hanging out with him while I was at Olympus.”
“You? You have been to Olympus?” he laughed mockingly.
“Duh, where else was I supposed to hang out when I was a goddess?”
He froze, tensing up, he said quietly, “You were a goddess?”
“For a bit, but ya know, it wasn’t exactly my style so I ditched.”
I could hear him muttering manically, “not my style, ditched.”
At this point I could tell he was going crazy, because he began to tear into a stuffed giraffe. 
“Leave me,” he said, “As I read the entrails.”
“Cool man,” I said, “I’ll be outside,” and I walked out grinning triumphantly. 
Percy, Frank and Hazel were waiting out there for me, and I told them what I had said, and they laughed along with me. Everyone loved hearing how I had tortured him. 
After a few minute he marched out recomposed, and he stated, “The Romans shall accompany on the quest, but first your alliance to the Romans must be proved to Jupiter by retrieving the Senate’s Flag. Otherwise your journey from here to Charon’s ferry shall be undisturbed. Oh and one last thing,” he said, grinning at me evilly, “The daughter of Morpheus must enter the underworld…alone.”

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