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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18. 18- Luke Battles a Rash Titan

18- Luke Battles a Rash Titan
I felt my jaw drop.
“Like Luke Castellan,” I sputtered, “the guy who…nevermind.”
“Yeah,” he replied. 
I guessed ‘Recall those who have gone before,’ wasn’t limited to the living. 
I stared at him for a while, until he spoke further, “We were sent to help you.”
“Me?” I asked, “You knew it would only be me?”
“Yes,” he replied, “The voices said to follow the pink glow to the crying girl and to aid her in her quest.”
The pretty girl nodded in agreement. 
Pink glow? I looked down at my hands, my skin seemed to glow lightly with my magic, I was like a beacon. 
“The voices?” I asked.
“Were guessing it was the fates,” explained Luke. 
“Oh,” I felt a bit honored, normally the Fates didn’t directly involve themselves unless it was very important.
“So what’s this quest your on?” asked Luke.
I explained to him the past few weeks happenings. 
“I see,”  he replied once I was finished, “That explains why the underworld changed a little.”
I raised my eyebrows curiously.
“New workers, more guards, high security, much more professional looking,” explained Luke. 
The tall buff guy chattered something angrily. 
“And Elysium has been shut down,” translated Luke. 
“Shut down?” I gasped, shocked. 
“Yeah, so have the Isles of the Blest. They were deemed ‘useless’ and were shut down. All of the inhabitants are now forced into the fields of Asphodel with the rest. We were told heroes deserve no better than anyone else.”
“That’s not really fair,” I replied feeling a bit put off. I always felt reassured by the fact that if I die, I’d end up going to Elysium. 
It felt weird thinking it, but I wanted Hades back .
“It isn’t,” agreed Luke, he offered me a hand, which I took (sort of) and I stood up. He eyes shined, I could tell they were once a brilliant blue. When he smiled the right corner of his mouth lilted to the side higher than the right and his eyes flashed. 
I was terribly sore, my legs ached and were shaking so badly that I fell over twice. The ghosts were patient, waiting silently for me to get up and continue walking with them. Is tumbled towards the dark palace, its spires jutting to the ceiling like sinister stalagmites. 
Luke walked directly next to me, so close I could feel his coolness on my skin. I liked having him there, he gave me the same feeling that Nico and Percy did, that automatic trust. I knew I was safe with him. 
The small sharp faced boy scouted ahead and the couple trailed behind. 
The five of us moved slowly, Luke walking casually as if he invaded locked down castles everyday. 
“Oh by the way, that’s Lee,” he said pointing to the boy, “And that’s Charlie and Silena.”
I recognized all of those names from Percy’s stories. Small pangs of sorrow struck my heart when I looked at them, the victims of their parent’s war. 
Would I have the same fate?
“So who else did you travel with on this quest?” asked Luke as if it were a normal conversation starter. 
I listed off everyone’s names.
Luke chuckled, “Percy just can’t catch a break can he? Poor guy.”
“I know.”
“How’s Annabeth doing? Fine I’m sure, she always was a fighter,” said Luke looking both sad and happy. He was smiling but I could see pain in his eyes and his voice was filled with sorrowful nostalgia. 
“She’s doing great. She and Percy are still dating and she’s having a lot of fun designing Olympus.”
“She’s the perfect girl for the job,” chuckled Luke. 
“Isn’t she though?” I replied. 
He laughed happily, but then his face fell, “and Thalia, she doing alright?”
“Totally,” I assured him, “She loves being a hunter.”
“So no boyfriend?”
“Of course not,” I replied, “She told there was only one boy for her and that it wouldn’t work.”
“Yeah, I don’t think it would,” sighed Luke. 
I looked up at him, seeing his face, his expression was distant.
I suddenly remembered everything Percy had told me about Thalia’s history. 
I contained a gasp. 
Luke was the guy.
Thalia and Luke had had something, but now they were separated in a way that couldn’t be fixed. 
Luke and I walked in silence for a while after that. 
We reached a small archway leading into the foyer. 
The room was huge, resembling that of the main room in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Except much drearier. 
Using obsidian and ivory, the floor was tiled in Ancient Greek vase styled mosaic artwork showing the story of Hades and Persephone. I bet Persephone didn’t like it, having to walk across the full storyboard of her kidnapping, everyday. The same colored glass made huge stained glass windows displaying ultiple images of Hades, Persephone, Cerberus and their were even three others. I beautiful middle aged black haired woman in formal attire and two children, a girl with sleek black hair and a calm expression. The other child was a boy, in an aviators jacket with dark circles under his eyes. Nico, Bianca and their mother. 
Persephone must have REALLY hated this room. 
Two curved staircases led up to a single giant arch way at the end of the room. 
It all looked a lot like a old catholic church. 
There were multiple archways leading out of either sides of the room. 
As I was looking around when I felt the sharp pain in my head, notifying me of a vision. 
I saw Nico, he looked at me and said, “Guards are coming for you, find me in the dungeon. Follow the hallway of the twelfth archway on the left.”
I snapped back to reality.
I repeated was Nico had said aloud. 
Just in time. 
As Lee readied his bow, Silena and Charlie pulled weapons from nowhere, skeletons in war uniforms from every century poured into the room, aiming bows and shotguns at us. 
Lee chattered something to Luke. 
Luke nodded and then said to me, “They’ll hold them off, we have to go.”
“But-” I tried to protest.
I heard the clacking of bones which must have been one of the skeletons calling out a command. Arrows and bullets started raining down around us. 
Luckily they weren’t very good shots, having no muscles or tendons, so only a few arrows scathed me. By this time my clothes had been completely soaked through with blood. 
Luke I raced through the twelfth archway. 
The black hallway twisted and turned. 
It seemed to go on for ages. 
Although we had traveled a long way I could still hear the echoes of the battle in the foyer. 
I was scared for Silena, Charlie and Lee. It’s not like they could die again but I worried what would happen if they were captured. The Fields of Punishment did not seem like a place where I’d want to be. 
At the end of the hallway there was about a thirty yard stretch with doors on either side and one at the very end. 
“Check every one,” said Luke. 
He started kicking open doors, all of them on the left side were empty. I opened three on the right before I found one that was inhabited. 
Inside was one of the most beautiful, horrifying and fascinating creatures I’ve ever seen. 
Something about it struck fear into me upon seeing it but as I stared I began to see through the cloud of darkness. 
It was a black stallion, simple looking except for the fact that it’s mane and tail were made completely from flames. The fire sent shadows dancing around the small square carven in which it was held. I walked up to it. 
It was peaceful, staring at me curiously, sensing no danger. 
I placed my hand gently on its flank. 
There was a flash of pain in my head and I shut my eyes, every bad dream I’ve ever had flashed across my eyelids in a matter of seconds. Then it passed, ending with the sound of Nyx’s laughter. 
I stumbled back for a minute but then went up to the horse and examined it more closely. 
Smoke streamed from it’s nostrils. 
I touched it face preparing myself for more haunting memories, but none came. It must have only been on first contact. 
I recognized this creature from my mythology books; A nightmare. 
A literal mare of the night, the creature that personified bad dreams. 
“What’s your name?” I asked. 
“Shadow,” it replied in my head. He had a slight British accent and sounded like a movie announcer with a clear cool tone. 
I stood for a minute gaping at the telepathic horse.
Then he bolted forward jumping into the hallway and disappearing. Shadow traveling far away from here.
I sighed. 
Well, there goes the idea of me riding a mighty steed into battle, I thought. 
I stepped back out into the hallway. 
Luke looked at me sadly, “all the rest are empty.”
“How could that be?” I asked, “Nico just told me he was here.”
“They must have collected him and slipped past us during the attack,” said Luke. 
“No,” I said, quietly, feeling hopeless, “No.”
I sank to the floor.
“No,” I repeated. 
Luke sat down next to me. 
“It’s alright, we know he’s not dead,” assured Luke. 
“How do you know that?” I asked. 
“Because his ghost isn’t here,” replied Luke, then he looked away like he didn’t want to say something.
“What is it?” I asked, “Tell me.”
“There using him as bait,” said Luke, in hushed voice. I could tell he didn’t want to say it out loud because it would only seal the truth. 
I sat listening to myself breath, each inhale was short and shaky, painful because of my dry throat and long exhales that almost never seemed to stop. As if my body was trying to sigh out the pain. 
I looked over at Luke, he smiled reassuringly at me.
“What are we going to do? Without Nico I can’t possibly retake the underworld,” I muttered.
“Why not?” asked Luke, “From what I’ve heard you’re strong, smart, and fully capable.”
I returned his smile graciously. 
“Promise me when this place goes back to normal, you’ll go for Rebirth,” I said. 
“I tried, but there’s a lot of paperwork, and some people argued that I wasn’t eligible because of my…decisions,” he reasoned. His blue eyes flashed.
“Pffft,” I replied, “Do it anyways. You deserve a second chance.”
“You think?” he asked.
“Definitely, everyone tells your story with you as the hero,” I told him.
“But I wasn’t,” he said sadly, “I was the villain, only in the end did I realize how much I screwed up.”
“You saved everyone, Kronos would have taken over someone else if it wasn’t you. And if he had they wouldn’t have been strong enough to fight back like you did. You’re a hero, Luke, you always were.”
He stared at the wall in front of him, a single tear streamed down his cheek, “Thanks.”
“No problem bro,” I said, chuckling.
We sat in silence casting pink and pale blue glows onto the walls. 
Just then, from the end of the hallway there was a great clashing sound, like someone banging trashcans togther and rattling metal chains. 
Around the corner crashed a large man in armor, screaming a battle cry. He slid around crashing into the walls, seemingly unaffected. He was like a dog trying to ice skate. He wore huge armor made from rough steel. He carried a spiked ball and chain, only a little smaller than an exercise ball. He himself must have been around eight feet tall, a titan.
He reminded me of Juggernaut from X-Men. The way he managed to crash into the wall six times before even getting close to me and Luke. 
Luke pulled a sword from nowhere and stood at the ready. 
“Will that hurt him?” I asked looking at the ghostly blade. 
“It’s a phantom sword, so yeah,” breathed Luke, “It’ll hurt a lot.”
“Good,” I gulped. 
I was in no way ready to fight. I backed up to the final cell door.
The Juggernaut titan swiped at Luke, but he jumped out of the way easily. Slashing at the titans metal gloved wrists. 
But then I had a plan.
“Luke!” I called, “Can you phase through walls?”
“Yeah,” he asked, “Why?”
“Even these cell walls?” I asked. 
“I think so,” he called back. 
The titan threw the ball and chain, it phased through Luke and I had to dive out of the way to avoid being pinned to the wall by a yoyo of doom.
Luke looked back at me to see if I was okay and the second he did, I pointed at the final cell showing him my plan. He understood immediately. 
“NOT FAIR!” cried the titan and he tried to lung at Luke but just passed through him. 
I ducked into the last cell on the right side, hiding. 
I watch as Luke slowly led the titan into the final cell. 
As soon as the huge armored body was completely inside, I slammed the door behind him, locking every bit and pulling the latches. 
I opened to little door allowing me to look in. 
Luke was still fighting the titan even in the tiny room. 
“Come on,” I said. 
Luke tried to jumped into the wall, but instead slammed into it. 
“I can’t!” he said. 
“But you said!” I pleaded. 
“I was wrong!” called Luke, slashing still. 
The Titan chuckled, “You are stuck!” 
“Yeah,” said, Luke coolly, “and so are you.”
The titan stopped fighting immediately, his shoulders falling. He lumbered over to the door and I back away. 
He began to pound at it, the metal shook but didn’t bend. 
“Menoetius cannot be imprisoned!” he yelled with such a force that I had to back up a few steps more. 
“Lea, Go!” yelled Luke. 
“But- ” I protested. 
“He break out soon,” argued Luke, “You have to go!” 
At that Menoetius punch the door and a huge dent crippled the black metal. 
“What about you?” I cried to Luke.
“I’ll be fine,” he said desperately, then he said quieter, “Maybe I’ll see you again.”
I could tell from his tone, he meant rebirth. 
“Yeah,” I said, starting to cry again, “I’ll see you again.”
Then I sprinted down the hallway. 
The foyer was empty, as if I was allowed here, just as long as I didn’t have guests. 
I rushed up the stairs, knowing from all movies, video games, and TV shows, the final showdown always takes place after the corridor through the doorway at the end of the room. 
I ran through the biggest archway and into what I supposed used to be the throne room. 
It was empty and at the end I could see beyond the thrones an arena. 
The archway behind the thrones led into the open air. 
I walked out into it. 
The hunk of black rock fell, blocking the way I had come in. 
I was trapped. 
The arena was gigantic, the size of the coliseum. 
It was a huge circle, will walls going twenty feet up into empty stadium seats. 
Directly across from me in the stadium was what looked like the podiums of a courtroom, the middle one being the highest. 
Sitting behind these podiums were five hooded figures. 
On the right of the middle one was Nico, who looked down at me helplessly. I could tell he wanted to call out my name, because I felt the same way. 
All of the cloaked figures stared down at me.
Something deep in my chest ached, I could feel the figures power. 
They were all titans.

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