I’ve always had a problem with falling off of things. I knew one day it would get me killed, apparently today was not that day.
There was a few seconds where the world was blurry around me as I fell then the adrenaline kicked in and everything faded into slow motion.
Luckily I had fallen backwards off the edge, if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have been able to grab the rope Lance threw down to me.
My arm shot out and my finger curled around the climbing rope, quickly attaching it to my harness.
The rope snapped taught and I lurched to a stop, whiplash yanked at me like I was a puppet on strings.
I could see Lance above me struggling to keep his grip on the rope.
“My gods you are heavy!” he grunted as he hoisted me up.
“I am not!” I shouted back at him, “I swear to the gods, if you drop me, my shade will rise back up from Hades just to punch you in the face!”
He chuckled as I scrambled back into the nest.
“You shut up,” I snapped, “How are we going to defeat this thing?”
“Before we kill it, we’ve got to make sure it doesn’t kill us,” he said.
I grunted a subtle agreement and we stood back to back in the middle of the nest.
“Where’s it gone?” I asked, nervously scanning the sky.
“Maybe it’s looking for a demigod pancake on the ground,” he suggested.
“I hate to disappoint,” I replied sarcastically, I could feel my throat grow dry with dehydration and my voice cracked a little when I spoke.
I reached for the water bottle at my belt and the second I held it to my lips, I stopped.
“Lance!” I exclaimed, causing him to jump, “I have an idea.”
“Get out your water!” I demanded.
He caught on instantly, unclipping a canteen from his belt.
There was a screech in the distance and Lance and I both tense up, searching the sky for any flash of red.
The screech grew closer and within seconds I could feel the danger draw close.
Suddenly some thing fiery flew past. I predicted where it would be and sloshed all the water from my bottle at it.
A sizzling mass of rock thudded to the nest at my feet.
“Shoot,” I muttered, “It was just a fireball.”
Lance said nothing; he was too wrapped in conversation.
There was one last screech that pieced the air and something swooped by me again; Lance shoved me to the ground and threw his water at the form.
From my very uncomfortable stance, lying face down in the sticks, I could see something writhing in front of me.
The phoenix, squawked and thrashed as the water boiled into it. It sizzled and steamed as the lukewarm water clashed with its fiery form.
I lunged forward tackling the bird, but as soon as I did I sprung back, my body breaking open in blisters and burns.
I screamed in pain.
Lance dove in front of me, pinning the bird to the ground as it cried out in pain.
He didn’t burn like I did; being a son of Hephaestus.
As he held down the writhing bird I inched forward cautiously.
The bird saw me, and there was a moment when I looked into it’s dazzling eyes. They were every possible color of fire spiraling out from a tiny pupil, I saw pain and desperation in the bird’s eyes and I felt guilty for a second. My brain jumped back to reality as a droplet of blood fell from my chest to my hand, where the bird had scratched me.
I snatched up my empty water bottle and held it to the phoenix’s eye. Three silvery tears trickled to the base of my bottle and then the bird exploded.
There was nothing left but a pile of ash.
For a second my heart throbbed with guilt, I had just killed it.
It wasn’t like I’d never killed a monster before, but this one wasn’t just trying to eat me, it was defending its home. I would’ve done the same if someone was attacking camp.
I stared in awe for a second, but I felt Lance’s hand on my shoulder.
“It’ll be reborn in a few hours,” he said, “We should go.”
The legend of the phoenix, flashed back into my head, as with it relief flooded to me.
Lance and I belayed down in silence and he drove us back to Hephaestus’ workshop.
As we entered the workshop, the warmth and sound of clashing metal greeted our ears.
Hephasetus, returned within a few minute, he shuffled up to us grunting and muttering to himself.
“So were you successful?” he asked.
I held up the water bottle in reply.
“Good job, Lea,” he huffed.
“Actually,” I began, “It was Lance who did all the work.”
“Hmm?” asked Hephaestus.
“Yeah,” I continued, “He drove us there, he saved me, he got the phoenix and all I did was manage to fall over the edge.”
“Oh,” replied Hephaestus sounding surprised, “Nice job, son.”
I glanced at Lance, who looked like he’d just been told that he had just won the lottery. He stood in shocked silence staring at his dad.
Hephaestus broke the eye contact looking at me and saying, “Let’s get that orb fixed.”
He led us over to the work table where the shattered white pieces were in a pile.
I pulled out my water bottle.
I was just about to pour the small amount of silvery liquid on the shards when Hephaestus stopped me.
“Lea,” he began, he voice unreadable, “You know those tears could return you back to your divine form.”
My body slackened and my brain rushed into thinking of all the things I missed; my powers, my stamina, my strength, my beauty, my eyes everything.
My hand went up to my necklace rubbing the chain nervously.
“I-I already have that,” I said, talking about the necklace.
“Yes, but this transformation would be permanent,” you could never loose your divinity again,” he explained.
My heart and mind throbbed for everything I used to love about myself.
“No!” I exclaimed, making both Lance and Hephaestus jump, “no,” I repeated in whisper.
“This is more important,” I assured myself.
Then I tilted the bottle and let the silver liquid pour onto the broken orb.
There were swirls of white light and the orb slowly rearranged itself back into a perfect sphere.
The white light faded and I held the orb in my hands, I could feel the power in my hands.
“Hephaestus,” I said, “Take this to Olympus, make sure it’s safe. I’ll be there soon.”
Then I muttered to myself, “It’s complete, the staff is complete, it’s time for the end.”
“Not quite yet,” said Hephaestus, taking the orb in his calloused hands, “There is one more object you must find.”
“What?” I sputtered, “But I got all of the pieces of the staff.”
“Yes,” agreed Hephaestus, “But there is one more thing required if you want to keep your friends safe.”
“What?” I repeated.
“There is news that the Titans will attack in exactly five days; the winter solstice, when both gods and titans are at their most powerful,” he explained, “And in order to prevent all of your friends from dying in this attack you must find a special object.”
“What is it?” I asked, shoving for an answer.
“The Palladium,” he replied, “With it you can not be defeated, without it, we will surely be destroyed.”