"PERSEUS!" Octavian's voice roared as he threw Anaklusmos with full force. Gods has he changed, Percy wondered. The cursed blade cut through the sky, spinning into darkness. Amidst the chaos stood Percy, his eyes fixed upon the battlefield before him. Mount Olympus groaned under the pressure of the thousands upon thousands of troops that fought over control of the now active volcano. Lava, the colour of blood, exploded into existence from beneath the earth and swallowed everything, save the giants.
Gaia was waking.
Percy charged towards the summit as Riptide arced across the heavens in hot pursuit. He lunged past a Cyclops and rolled through the legs of a hell hound before leaping into the air. His jump was perfectly timed. He could feel his fingers making contact with the hilt of his sword -- its aura of cold air sending shivers through the ranks of his opponents. One more moment, and he would be unstoppable.
His muscles turned to jelly. The current struck him face first. He panicked as he felt the sensation of drowning. The water was slowly ripping his soul from his body; his flesh felt as though it was dissolving into a bath of acid. He submerged. Unable to resist, he suppressed his last thought -- curse the Styx.
All thoughts had died. He was as useless as he'd been when the Roman wolves had found him. From the depths of the flooding river his ears barely made out and echo. Percy managed a groan as his life line faded. Somewhere out there, the fates must have been spinning their coil... slowly preparing to take out a pair of scissors and --
"Look around you" the goddess bellowed "What do you see?"
Percy hardly opened his eyes, each of which felt like twenty melons balancing on a hairpin. Swimming along were Barbie dolls by the dozens (they must have been really popular last season), and other kinds of trash.
"Barbie" he muttered. A tidal wave struck him and sent him flying to the surface of the water allowing him to gasp for air, just before pulling him back in again.
"Generations of mortals have littered my waters" She began sounding like one of those hardcore environmentalists who visited his school in the past. The thought was too much to handle. He was pulled in deeper still. His ears almost burst from the pressure. Styx must have kept him alive for her personal issues.
"I sided with the gods in the first Titan war" she was seriously losing it now "They gave me a river! They swore in my name. And then they broke their promise!" The vibrations cracked Percy's skull "I was forced to side with them in a second war. That other boy invaded my waters, and he was punished greatly. YOU invaded my waters, and here we are again, Jackson. Show me that you can keep your oath. Annabeth couldn't; she didn't keep you safe" Styx taunted.
Percy hated bullies. But this was the same goddess that he had seen so many times yet never said hi to. It was embarrassing. He understood what it must have been like to be Styx; to always be named but never recognised. Even to the Olympians, Styx was a mere relic. Something to swear an oath on. No one ever dropped by for some biscuits and coffee. No one even came near her! And those who did wanted the same thing, invincibility. He could imagine what her picture of civilisation must have been -- an ever changing pile of trash.
He could feel the water rushing past him now. Was he rising? Percy was catapulted into the sky, his head smashed against the water surface. The sick air was reluctant to fill his lungs but he got his fair share. For a split second Percy witnessed the destruction. Death could not possibly be worse; he'd seen the Underworld. Then again, death wouldn't exist once Gaea woke. Go figure.
A bit of the Styx caught onto him and pulled him by the heel. Just as he was about to turn into an eternal serving of seaweed custard, something clasped his arm.
"He's mine!" Leo declared. Percy had never been so happy to see someone before.
"Foolish mortal, you too broke your oath" Styx responded in anger.
"Stretching Hurts!" Percy exclaimed in agony.
Leo was struggling to hold onto him. It was your typical ancient Greek tug of war. Goddess versus demigod, starring Percy as the rope.
"Leo, what is the angry woman in the river moaning about?" asked a familiar voice in the background. Percy squinted to see who it was, and all of the sudden Leo didn't look too happy.
"Listen sticks, I don't know why you're in such a bad mood. Maybe you got dumped, maybe you realised that you're a smelly river, I don't know what it is. But here! Look, Calypso's here!"
"I'm here" she held onto Leo's clothes which didn't do them any good. As fireproof as Leo may have been, his clothes were still knitted and dry cleaned by Coach Hedge.
"Lady, if you're not going to believe the word of a Valdez then I honestly don't know what--"
All three of them fell backwards onto a huge pile of dead monsters as Styx let go. The waters retracted and all too soon the ground began shaking.
"Nice to see you're back" Leo smiled
Percy muttered "Yeah... you" He collapsed onto the ground
"Woah big guy, you got yourself into some real trouble with that lady. I'd introduce you to Calypso over here, but I'm not sure whether you can handle any more girl trouble just yet"
"Leo!" Calypso punched his arm.
"Ouch, sorry. So Percy how do you-- Oh my gods!" He stumbled backwards as Percy's skin tone changed. The ground beneath him curved slightly. All of this seemed just a little too familiar...
"Not again" Percy frowned. Achilles' curse was painstaking as it had been beforehand. While becoming virtually invincible does seem like a pretty cool takeaway, Percy knew better. He just didn't feel human. And not feeling human is not something you want to be. Take that from his past experience with a friend (oh, hello Luke!). Besides, his personal experience is better than that of most people you will ever meet in life. If Percy Jackson were to have a CV, his list of references alone would be a free entry card into any government department or company on this planet. And that includes Monster Doughnuts, the FBI and, of course, Amazon.
"Want to tell me what's up with the body?" Leo looked amazed.
"Achilles' heel... I've had it before. Bathe in the Styx" he seemed out of breath.
"Right" Leo looked puzzled "You're telling me that the water which is running my ship right now is a handy short cut to a six pack"
"Shut up Leo!" Jason shouted a few yards back while blasting an arrow into smithereens.
"Good to see you too"
"That arrow would have killed you if I wasn't watching. You know this isn't a --"
"Chill! Percy's got me covered. He's running on Vitamins. Check out the six pack" Leo pointed to an empty spot. He froze, "He was here a second ago".
Where Percy had been standing there was a hole in the ground.