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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21. 21- I Play Dress Up With the Gods


As I layed on my back breathing heavily, staring at the cavern ceiling which had ceased its crumbling, I didn’t see the titans begin to rise. 
I only noticed when Nico woke too; he began to scream, wriggling around like a caterpillar having a seizure, trying to get my attention. He certainly did. I sat up, watching in horror as Acheron, Lethe, Kokytus and Phelegethon stood up groggily. 
I gulped; Although Styx was the highest power I knew these guys would be just as hard to kill. 
Luckily, this time I wasn’t on my own. 
With a crash of noise from behind me, and chariot burst through the pure stone wall from the shadows. 
It was pulled by skeleton horses and riding in it was the Lord Hades himself. He carried a giant black sword, and as he whizzed past me, I heard him say, “A certain Shadow told me now would be a tactically good time to rebel.”
Then he jumped into the stadium and with a single swoosh of his sword, turned all of the titans to dust just as they were yawning. 
With the problem solve so body registered no threat and gave up. 
So as you probably figured, I passed out. 
***

When I woke, I was in what appeared to be a bedroom. I lay on a four poster bed with lead colored satin sheets and intricate little black beads hanging from the curtains. The room was lit by a single oil map casting shadows over the pure black room. Everything had the same lead and black paisley pattern on it, the curtains, the wallpaper, and the pillows. It was dreadfully boring, but beautiful in a sad way. Everything looked vintage, from the bed tables to the empty picture frames.
I sat up, soreness deep in every bit of my body. 
Sitting on an armchair was Nico; he smiled at me, saying ‘good morning’ without uttering a word.
I threw myself off the bed and he stood up quickly, we both took weak steps forward and embraced tightly. 
We crumpled to the ground, still clinging to each other. 
I sobbed with joy into his collar. 
“Oh gods, Nico, you have no idea how much I missed you!” I cried. 
“I think I do,” he said laughing through his tears, “you got to go on adventures while I was locked in box.”
We both sighed laughing weakly.
“That seems to happen a lot doesn’t it, sometimes a box sometimes a giant jar,” I joked, burying my face deeper into the woolen collar of his jacket, “Plus, the adventures sucked with out you.”
“I’ll bet they did,” he sighed. 
We sat on the cool stone floor, our arms wrapped tightly around each other for a long while. 
I wasn’t keeping track of time so it could’ve been minutes and it could’ve been an hour. 
“Promise me you won’t get captured again,” I said after a while. 
“I swear, but I don’t know what to swear on anymore,” he said, and we both laughed. 
I squeezed him tighter, not wanting to let go ever. 
There was no way I could lose him if I never let go. 
He pried me off of him slowly, saying, “My dad wants you to get ready. We’re going to have a celebratory feast here and then visit Olympus.”
I squeezed his hand, and he looked me in the eyes, our stares locking, and he smiled in a way I’ve never seen him smile. It neither sad nor happy, it was mostly relieved, knowing that both of us were safe. 
“Closet full of fresh clothes, so get dressed up all formal,” he continued, stepping towards the door but not losing eye contact with me. 
I let go of his hand, “If I wear I dress you have to wear a tux.”
“Now that’s deal I’d love to make,” he said and walked out of the room. 
I stood for a minute watching the door, not expecting him to come back, but just holding the moment. 
Then I headed across the room to a large wardrobe and opened it. 
It seemed as if Hades already had an outfit in mind for me, because there were multiple dresses in the closet, but all of them were virtually identical, varying by different shades of black. I could choose from dark grey to pure obsidian. 
The dress was a simple Lolita style, but with roses in replacement of bows. It was pretty, with a black button up corset and a frilly multiple layered skirt. It fit me perfectly, although it was bit short for my liking. But better too short than too long I figured, it’s impossible to fight in a maxi dress. There were multiple accessories that had been laid out, including sheer black leggings that I was very thankful for, some black lace gloves, and a rose hairpin. Also set out were a pair of black ballet flats, which I pulled on easily. I sighed, might as well go full out on this outfit, after all Nico was wearing a tux for me. 
I took my armor, converted it into mist mode and set in on top of the wardrobe, and said, “Hermes, please deliver to Camp Half Blood, with my sword and shield.”
I assumed it worked because when I turned around to put on gloves and then turned back, the armor was gone. 
I went up to a small round mirror to put the hair pin in and gasped. I almost ran from my own reflection. I hardly looked like myself anymore. 
What threw me off the most were my eyes, which filled with tears as soon as I saw them. 
They were a dull shade of grey-blue, like my mother’s. 
The color must have been drained out of them when my divinity was taken. 
My favorite physical feature, gone. 
But that was not the only thing that changed; I was healed on the exterior, although my insides still felt like mashed potatoes. There was large scar left from the Arai, from my right shoulder all the way across my torso. The pink streaks had completely faded from my hair, and my bangs had grown out completely. 
I looked so different from when I had first met Nico. I wouldn’t have even recognized myself. 
I looked so much older from last year; I certainly had lost all traces of baby fat. My face was thin gaunt, with defined high cheek bones and a strong jawline. Same nose luckily, since I haven’t managed to break it. My eye brows were still under control due to the waxing they had gotten from the Aphrodite cabin. 
I stood staring at myself for a minute, that was last week, seven days ago I had not started this quest, I had felt what it’s like to be truly alone and I  had not given up a part of myself. 
That meant today was June 25, the summer solstice. Tomorrow, I’d be turning fifteen. 
I put on a smile, telling myself to be proud; I’d just saved the world after all. Again. 
I laughed a little, a sad desperate laugh, hoping it would make me feel better; I’d saved the world twice now. Only a few more times and I’d be equal with Percy. 
I pulled back my bangs pinning them with the rose hairpiece. 
A shade entered the room, Silena. 
She looked at me and then slackened her posture trying to look exasperated. 
Then she glided up to me, snapped her fingers. 
My hair snapped into ringlets, with my bangs pulled back neater and more tightly. My makeup had been done, simple silver eye shadow, mascara, pink lip gloss and blush. 
“Thanks,” I said hopelessly. If I tried to do my own makeup I’d end up looking like a Goth circus clown. 
“Where are Charlie, and Luke?” I asked. 
She gave me a look that said, ‘I think you can guess.’
“Rebirth,” I said, and she nodded, “Are you going with them?”
She nodded again. 
“You just came to say goodbye, didn’t you?” I asked. 
She smiled and shrugged. 
I hugged her, as much as you can hug a ghost. 
Then she waved and glided out through the window. 
For a second I saw an image in my head, Luke, grinning at me, his blue eyes flashing with the mischievous light that dwelled behind them. 
I composed myself and head out of the door, wandering through the corridors, never getting lost. It felt like I knew where to go as if I’d walked these halls before. 
I skipped easily down the staircase into the foyer and through an archway on the right side of them room, into the dining hall. 
Sitting at the north end of the elegant extremely long dining table sat Hades, Nico on the east side and a cloaked woman on the west side. The table had to be at least twenty feet long and about five feet wide. 
I scrambled for a weapon; fining none on me I clutched a large candlestick. 
“Kokytus,” I hissed at the titan. 
The swirling shades in her cloak flurried as she turned to face me. 
“At ease Lea,” said Hades calmingly, “Kokytus is an ally.”
“But…” I protested, not letting go of the candlestick. 
“She’s what you call a double-agent,” explained Hades, “She is the one who aided me in escaping from my prison and allowed Shadow, the nightmare, to interfere with the Fourth Trial.”
“Oh,” I said.
Hades gestured to the seat across from him, at the south end of the table. 
I walked over hesitantly, and then realized I was still holding the candlestick, which I set on the table, embarrassed. I sat quietly and looked over at Nico. 
He wore a well fitted black tuxedo, and he looked great. He had cut his hair a little so it looked sleek and shiny instead of shaggy like usual. 
I grinned at him, he returned the gesture. 
“Feast,” invited Hades, and shades began to carry in plates with various decadent meals. 
It looked amazing and I was hungry but I didn’t partake.
“Underworld food,” I grumbled. I wasn’t hungry enough to get myself stuck in a cave for the rest of eternity. 
Hades began to talk loudly, going on and on about the revisions the Underworld will be going under to get back to normal. 
I didn’t listen. 
Instead Nico and I passed the time, catching each other’s glances, smiling and giggling. Silently making fun of his dad together. I was so happy to have him back.
After about an hour, Hades finally finished talking and announced, “It is time for you two to go to Olympus so that Lea may speak with my brother.”
He took up, scowling, as if even thinking of his brother was a bitter thought. 
He swept out of the room and Nico and I rushed behind him, speed walking side by side, trying to catch up. 
Hades led us into the foyer and I took a minute to observe the room in full. 
It was beautiful, drab, but beautiful. 
There were a few cracks and dents in the floors and walls from the arrows and bullets that had been fired at Silena, Charlie, Lee and I. 
Hades placed his hand on an ornamental topper of the right staircase banister he dragged his creepily long fingernails over it, and then twisted the topper, and it clicked into position. There was a low rumble and a portion of the black tile just below the middle balcony in between the stairs slid open. Out of the secret compartment rose a huge mirror, black and ornate and least seven feet tall. 
“Olympus,” said Hades, and then our reflection in the mirror shimmered and faded being replaced with Olympus. I knew what to do; I reached out and touched the glass, my hand slipping through the surface like water. 
“Oh cool,” I gasped, “A portal,” and then stepped through into the warm New York air. 
Then Nico was standing next to me, but Hades did not follow. 
I reached for Nico’s hand and we curled out fingers together. 
I led him up the familiar paths, it was early morning, the sun was just starting to send golden rays over the city. 
Nico and I ambled up the paths, and I told him all about my time as a goddess, he listened quietly, nodding and smiling to acknowledge that he was actually paying attention. 
He and I passed by Aphrodite’s fountain, and I waved to Eros who was perched on the sash like usual. For some reason my heart didn’t do the weird fluttery thing like usual.
Nico and I looked so strange, wearing dark black in the middle of all the beautiful pastels. We looked like little smudges of soot. 
When we finally reached the entrance to the throne room, I let go of Nico’s hand and he nodded, ushering me forward. 
“Go on,” he said, “Amaze them.”
I strutted through the reception office; past the lady at the desk who called for me to come back and kicked open the door with my ballet flats and into the middle of the throne room.
I stood looking up at the gods, smiling with my hands on my hips and said, “So I saved your butts again.”
Their chatter ceased immediately and they all turned from what they were doing to look at me in awe. 
Apollo contained a chuckle, and winked, pointing at me.
Hermes smiled approvingly setting down his iPhone respectfully. 
Aphrodite looked at me in disgust, she muttered, “That outfit,” and snapped her fingers. Dressing me up in a cream toga with gold jewelry. 
I didn’t even pay any mind to the transformation, I had a feeling Aphrodite always does that. 
Dionysus, Hera, Zeus, Ares and Demeter all looked stunned and slightly offended. 
Poseidon, Hephaestus, Athena, Artemis and Aphrodite on the other hand seemed to admire my confidence and just smirked. 
“Excuse me?” asked Zeus. 
“You heard me,” I said, “I gave up my freaking lineage so you guys could stay sitting pretty.”
Zeus cleared his throat nervously, at a loss for words. 
Hera was about to stand up and tell me off when Artemis and Apollo stood in union. 
“Oh keep it to yourself, Hera,” spat Apollo, “We all know what you’re thinking. We just don’t care anymore.”
Hera gasped indignantly, scoffing at the offense. 
“This child has done well,” said Artemis, “We shall reward her profusely.”
I could tell what they were about to offer so I held up a hand to stop them, “I don’t want immortality, I don’t want gifts, I just want to be left alone,” I said, “All I want from you is to be left, no more quests, no more mixing me up in any of your business. I just want to live life at camp as a normal demigod.”
I began to walk out, so that they couldn’t try to persuade me otherwise. 
“Unfortunately,” called Zeus after me, “That is the one thing we can’t do for you.”
I turned around on my heel abruptly, “What?”
“The Fates have already decided your adventure is not over,” said Zeus. 
I cracked my knuckles intimidatingly, “Let me talk to them.”
“Lea, listen,” began Zeus, “You are the chosen hero of Olympus. It is your destiny.” 
“Oh yeah,” I asked indignantly, “What exactly is my destiny?”
Zeus sighed, “You will be the one to end The Great Stirring.”

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