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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17. 17- I Take The Elevator of Doom


I stepped into the elevator, following all of the other ghosts that squeezed in around me. A few of them passed right through me which felt kind of violating but there wasn’t much I could do. There was only one button with a skull and crossbones label. I felt morally obligated to be the one to press it because I  was the only solid being. The elevator dinged again, and Percy and I stared at each other not breaking eye contact until the doors closed, cutting off my view of him. For a second I stood listening to the elevator music, cheesy and cliché, but strangely relaxing, like something you’d heard in a cartoon. 
I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself, which wasn’t easy because at that second the elevator dropped. 
I screamed as we fell. It was worse the shadow traveling, like the most extreme Tower of Terror ever. It wasn’t just falling it was pulling us down. I kind of fell/sat on the elevator floor, clinging onto the hand rails screaming my head off. 
The ghosts clearly did not have a concept of gravity because they stood casually; emotionless. Whilst the stomach dropping feeling made me squirm they looked down at me like a crying baby. They had no time for this nonsense, they had to go get in line to wait for eternity. 
Suddenly the elevator slammed to a stop, and I hit the ceiling then fell back to the floor. 
Because I clearly had not suffered enough the elevator lurched horizontally flinging me into the doors. Dang this thing should really have seatbelts. 
I kept myself pinned to the door gripping on for dear life. 
The elevator slammed to a stop, I sat for a minute looking around at the ghosts waiting to see if I was in for any more terror. 
The elevator dinged one last time and the door opened. 
The ghosts filed out slowly in a neat line. I guessed they were used to queuing. Judging by the fact that one of them was wearing a 18th century dress, corset and everything, they were. Just as I stepped outside of the doors, somebody grabbed my arm, a man in an identical suit to Charon, said into bluetooth, “She’s here,” then he turned to me and said, “You shouldn’t have come.”
“I didn’t really want to,” I replied, as he dragged me through the crowd of ghosts. 
He had shades on so I couldn’t see his eyes but his face was kind. He had retreating pale brunette hair and a warm tight lipped mouth, that was kept in a grudging smile. 
“Living aren’t allowed here,” he stated through clenched teeth. 
“That makes sense, it is the ‘Land of the Dead’,” I replied smarmily.
“Luckily for you,” continued, “It gives you an express pass,”  he led my up a small stone staircase, “To judgment.”
We came up to Cerberus who growled ferociously at me, the man leading me snapped his fingers and Cerberus whimpered and retreated letting us through. 
“Who are you?” I asked. 
“Phlegyas,” he replied sternly. 
“That’s a mouthful,” I replied.
He chuckled lightly, “Yes it is. Why don’t you just call me Phil?”
I could tell he was trying to be serious and intimidating but it wasn’t working, he was a nice guy, and I could see that. 
He led me up more stairs and onto a pavilion, The Judgment Pavilion. 
I gulped. 
Phil leaned in close and whispered into my ear, “Do not tell them your name or your lineage,” and then he left me standing alone and he briskly walked back the way he had come. 
The pavilion was huge, a black rectangular marble expanse, with a dark roof held up by very few columns. At the far end I could see a large podium.
“Come forward,” boomed a voice. 
I walked  forward, I could make out three ghostly figures, all sitting in thrones. 
One, with hollow eyes, a bitter scowl, and shoulder length greasy looking black hair, sat in the middle with a mallet. He was clearly the one who finalized the decisions. 
“I am King Minos,” he announced. 
“I am King Aikos,” announced the one on his left. 
“And I am King Rhadamanthys,” said the final one on the right. 
“Can I just call you Rhad?” I asked, trying to project my voice, which ended up making the sentence echo for like twelve awkward seconds. 
“No,” he replied. 
“Phil was cool with nicknames,” I muttered to myself. 
“Wait,” I continued, “I thought Shakespeare and Thomas Jefferson were the other judges.”
Minos scoffed, “Incompetent, they were too young.”
“Our masters respect the old ways, so we were reinstated,” said Aikos.
“And what is your name child?” asked Minos. 
“Errrmm,” I thought, “Shelby. Shelby Elkins, daughter of Hermes.”
Minos squinted as if he was having trouble believing me. 
“Do you know Nico di Angelo?” asked Minos. 
The other two judges rolled their eyes as if to say ‘Ugh, not this again’.
“Yeah…” I replied hesitantly, “He’s my friend.”
There was a pause and then Minos said very clearly, “Kill her.”
Two hellhounds, the size of military cars, appeared on both sides of the judges. They growled at me, ready to pounce. 
So I did what I knew would save my skin, at least for the next minute. 
I ran. 
I sprinted out of there as fast as I could. 
I always thought I would run my fastest when being chased by zombies but at this point hellhounds was enough to make me go all out. 
I must have run for at least twenty minutes straight. At the beginning I jumped and dodged around ghosts, but I grew lazy after the first hundred of them and just decided to run through. I looked back over my shoulder, I had lost them. 
But while I was busy focusing on what was behind me I didn’t see the gaping chasm in front of me. 
Just as I was feet away from the edge I slid to a stop. Falling to my knees, hyperventilating. 
I sat for a few minutes thinking “Oh crap, almost fell down into Tuataras. Oh shoot, Percy said specifically not to do that. Oh gods, oh my gods. I am so tired.” I lay down and caught my breath. 
I closed my eyes, but opened them again instantly. 
From all around me a voice sounded, deep and wise sounding, “My siblings have awoken.”
I looked around, wide eyed. I could have sworn the voice came from the chasm.
Before I could call out I noticed something.
I could hear buzzing in the distance. 
I sat up, the noise drew closer, it was like voices hissing, yelling and whispering to each other all at the same time. 
I didn’t see the black cloud coming at me. How could I have? Everything around me was black. Camouflage wasn’t hard, and I kind of stood out. 
Something grasped my ankle, I screamed and scrambled back. My hand slipped over the edge and I fell, off balanced, catching myself before I tumbled into the chasm. 
All around me swooshed creatures, like ghosts but made out of thick black smoke. They were small skeletal women, with pure black eyes, the only thing on them that seemed to be made out of vaguely natural flesh matter. 
They swooped around me like vultures around roadkill, playing with my hair and picking at my clothes. 
“Unfortunate little girl,” said one, “the living don’t belong here.” 
“W-what are you?” I stammered, trying to keep away from them but not fall over the edge. 
“We are the Arai,” hissed one, turning her head like a confused dog, but then she turned it completely 360 which totally freaked me out, “We are the spirits of curses.”
“Like the F word?” I asked. 
“No!” cried another, “Like your curse to be alone on this quest!”
“Oh.”
“Yessss, child,” whispered one into my ear, lifting my chin up, “You are a cursed one.”
I flinched pulling away from her as she dug her fingernails into my cheek. 
“But not enough curses,” cackled one. 
“One can never have enough curses,” screeched another happily. 
“Umm, yeah I think one can,” I argued frantically.
“One curse for everyone of the futile gods you serve,” wailed one of them, they began to swirl around me faster, like hornets.
“Aphrodite- you will have to choose between the one you have grown to love and the one who you have loved forever,” cried one of the Arai.
“Hephaestus- you will never be able to fix your favorite broken thing!” screeched another as she slashed at me with her talons, cutting open my chest from shoulder to shoulder.
I gasped, watching the blood pour onto to my armor. 
I stood up trying to shove my way through the Arai as they shouted more curses at me. 
“Hermes- you will lose your voice when you wish to speak most!” 
I drew my sword, they backed away from it fleeing from its glow.
Then I ran, away from the pit, away from the still swirling cyclone of curses.
“Ares- you will lose your most important battle!” one called after me.
I ran till my feet could carry me anymore, I had reached a small wall, only about seven feet high, made from cream stone. I scaled it quickly falling over the other edge into a rose bush. 
I crawled out of the thorns cut and distressed but safe. 
I was in a beautiful garden with bubbling fountains, stone pathways, gorgeous flowers that appeared to be made of gemstones and well trimmed trees. 
Persephone’s Garden.
I sat under a pomegranate tree, on a cement bench and cried. 
I sat sobbing with my face in my hands. 
I was beat up, tired, scared and worst of all: alone. 
Something cool touched my shoulder. I looked up ready to fight off more Arai. 
It was a shade, five actually. 
Sitting next to me was a pretty girl, about eighteen, in a sundress. She smiled at me kindly and stroked my cheek comfortingly. Of course she didn’t actually make physical contact, he image shimmer when it got close to my heat, but I appreciated the gesture. 
Standing next to her, with his hand on her shoulder, was tall guy, same age, with African American features. I couldn’t tell his original skin shade because of the fact that his entire body was that wispy pale blue-green mist. But even as a spirit he looked buff. Behind both of them was a boy with a sharp featured face, like a ferret, he held a bow made from the same ghostly smoke. He must have died with it in his hand. 
Standing directly in front of me, probably nineteen years old, incredibly handsome was a boy in Greek armor, he had a scar down the side of his face, whiter than the rest of him. Dang, for a ghost, this guy was hot. He looked like a Abercrombie model for the dead, Aberzombie.
The girl next to me tried to speak, but all that came out was a chittering noise. 
Percy had told me about this, unfortunately I didn’t speak ghost. 
I closed my eyes and prayed, “Hermes please allow me to understand at least one of these guys.”
I opened my eyes and looked up at the cute one, he grinned and held out his hand. 
“Hey,” he said, “I’m Luke.”

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