The sight of Jason Grace, son of Zeus, someone who could bend the sky to his will, fall to his death was one that would be permanently burned into the eyes of the seven that watched helplessly as it happened. The sound of his body hitting the altar below resounded through the Greek temple. The beautifully constructed temple seemed to pulse with energy after Jason’s body had fallen, a sign of his being sacrificed. Annabeth had first been struck with awe at the temple’s construction, when the group had first entered but she now could feel a vile energy coming from it, noticed the depictions of gods being struck down on the walls.
The ceiling was ridiculously high. Taller than any skyscraper that you would see in New York and Annabeth had studied them all so she would know. Of course, this height was to allow for the creature that stood so high that from where Annabeth stood, she couldn’t make out its completely white and soulless eyes. Her stormy grey eyes were instead filled with pea green scales of the monster’s draconic legs. Porphyrion, king of the Gigantes was what a mortal man would call herculean, but Annabeth knew from experience that that was severely insulting the size of the giant. He laughed, creating shockwaves as he did so which would have probably blown any normal mortal away. It did a good job of blocking out the sounds of a much higher pitch scream from Piper whose kaleidoscope eyes were now red and puffy, tears streaming down them with no sign of stopping.
“Very good, my child. You make mother so proud,” the voice of Gaea made Annabeth sick. Because of her she had been forced to travel through the depths of Tartarus itself just to survive. For whatever reason, the primordial god had a grudge against her. And the feelings couldn’t be more mutual. Over the course of the last few weeks, she had realised that if she didn’t have her pride then she would have probably given into her emotions of hate long ago and lost it.
“I couldn’t be happier to be done with that one. I want to go out and destroy everything Zeus has. His half-blood son, then his hunter daughter and after that every child he has sired, every living person he’s held dear and every temple in his honour. I’ll be sure to destroy it all and bring the chief god to his knees before dealing the final blow.” Talk about an inferiority complex.
“Now, dear Porphy, darling, you know all I ever would desire is your happiness and I want to be able to see you make your dream come true with my own eyes,” it was easy to gag at the diabetes inducing sweetness of Geae’s words, but it was honestly painful to listen to it, especially when you consider she was talking to an ancient giant killing machine.
“You’ve done a good job so far but you know I need a male and female demigod in order to rise again,” there were sudden movements by the remaining seven to protect the girls. Leo closed in on Piper who had collapsed onto the floor. Frank’s large size practically covered Hazel As for Annabeth, she had Percy, who was visibly shaking with uncontrolled anger, and Nico never seemed to be too far apart from him.
The giant suddenly jerked, smiled showing rows of teeth covered in what was probably and disgustingly human gristle. It bent down, veins as large as oak trees becoming visible in his… well, everything, as he did so. He stood back up with what looked like a toothpick in the giant’s hands but what the heroes were able to recognise as Jason Grace’s gladius, the sword that hadn’t been able to make a scratch on the giant but could do a whole lot more to any of them.
It was difficult to tell but it somehow felt like that there was an even higher tension in the air. If Porphyrion managed to kill any of the girls, then Gaea would be able to awaken and shatter the earth, destroying in an instant what human civilisation had been working towards for millennia. The giant arched his arm back and seemed to take aim but from the height he was at, it was impossible for any of those on the ground to know exactly who he was looking at. Somehow Annabeth knew though. Call it women’s intuition or an instinct that had developed from her time fighting monsters for the last ten years.
When the sword sailed through the sky at what almost seemed like a supersonic speed, Annabeth didn’t cry out or even adopt a look of surprise. She knew that, not even, Percy in his worn and beaten state would be able to move fast enough to deflect the sword from hitting her, so she grabbed it with both hands and threw her body down onto the ground before it entered her body; using the floor of the temple to stop it going right the way through and killing her instantly. The pain probably should have been enough to send her into a state of shock but Annabeth had been through a lot in her years as a half-blood, especially lately, and this didn’t seem to compare to some of the rest of it. The real problem was the large amount of blood that was quickly spilling out of her body.
Percy rushed to her side, making water appear out of thin air and applying it to her wound, using his powers, in an attempt to heal her. “…!” Annabeth realised that she couldn’t speak to tell Percy that it would be impossible to heal her with the sword still lodged inside of her. Her breath was caught somewhere between her lungs and her throat. Percy’s face was crazed; his eyes wild and shifting about constantly out of a mix of fear and fury of a raging typhoon. It made him look scary to her but this time, something scary, was probably what they all needed.
Annabeth thought she could hear shouting, which was probably the frightened voices of the other demi-gods wanting to know if she was alright, although it sounded a lot further away than where she thought the others were standing. It was similar to the sound of being underwater and hearing things from above. It really didn’t seem like the so called “heroes” of Olympus could do anything else but scream and die when confronted with this giant monstrosity. They needed a god to help them and no god was sane enough to be of any use right now. Instead their personality showdowns had come to a boil and if Gaea didn’t destroy the world soon, it would most likely already be wasted with credit due to all the Jekyll and Hydes that the gods had turned into.
“Stay with me Annabeth, you’re going to be alright,” Percy’s voice was shaky. It didn’t sound like him at all but then her hearing didn’t seem to be working right anyway. Her body was growing cold and even though it would only lunge the sword further into her body, she felt the need to cuddle up into herself. That was how she liked to sleep and she felt so tried. Her usually charged brain was powering down with only fear and the sight of her boyfriend forcing her to keep her eyes open.
“Are you just going to quote movie lines at her or are you going to do something about the giant that’s going to kill us all?” The sarcastic and cold voice was obviously Nico’s. Percy suddenly jumped up, his figure easily towering over the smaller boy’s frame but Nico didn’t budge an inch “Don’t bother trying to tell me off Percy!” Nico shouted before Percy even got a word out. “I am the son of Hades, lord of the dead. If anyone is going to be able to save Annabeth, it’s me. You and the others have to find a way to defeat Porphyrion, because if you don’t, then we’re all going to die and that means everyone else in the world will too. We’re all just going to be wandering around Tartarus and we both know how bad that is. So I would suggest you go and do what you always do and save people, understand?”
Nico being intense was no surprise but Percy was jarred into a state of calm by Nico’s words. Maybe there had been something in his voice that only he could hear or something in Nico’s eyes that only he had seen but Percy suddenly looked extremely sad. Percy began to move his arms as if to hold Nico but, in sharp reaction the younger boy breathed acidly, “Don’t. Now’s not the time Percy. We’ve both got things we have to do.” With that, Nico dropped down by Annabeth’s side and starting to inspect the wound in her stomach which had started to bleed again without Percy applying any healing to it. Percy ran off towards the others, moving like a football player does in a game when their team is losing and there’s not a lot of time on the clock. He was running recklessly with all his might. If that was Annabeth’s last sight, then she realised she wouldn’t have minded too much.
“Hey!” An irritated cry snapped Annabeth away from looking at Percy, “I wouldn’t mind a little bit of focus here. I thought you were supposed to be the smart one, so do you mind using your brain and realising that, hey, maybe you should actually try to listen to the guy saving your life?” Annabeth probably would have blushed if the blood wasn’t already rushing to the large hole in her stomach instead of her face.
Annabeth managed to nod and looked at Nico with as much focus and strength as she could muster. “Hands on the sword,” Nico muttered seriously. In any other situation Annabeth would have been annoyed by the way this little kid was talking to her but this was Nico, and to be fair, death was his speciality. Besides, it felt like the anger was working to keep her alert and she was grateful for that. Her vision was becoming less hazy. She could see the features of Nico’s face. To Annabeth, they seemed etched in pain and sadness but there was also a solidness to his eyes which she had never seen him have before.
Annabeth gripped the sword, not even aware her arms had given out and had been limply lying about on the floor. Nico’s hands touched hers and she flinched from the cold but reasoned that it was nice to be able to feel anything at all. A phantasmal aura appeared around the gladius and it lifted the sword right out of Annabeth. The sight of her own blood, and other bits, on the blade made her want to throw up badly but she gulped down air, trying to keep her breathing regular. Her mind was starting to return to her and thousands of little notes she had made on first aid were all flooding back to her. She couldn’t let herself die now because of something stupid like shock.
The black aura began to cover the entire wound, after which it went a sickly blood red. Annabeth started to find breathing easier and strength returning to her body, “What’s going on?” She managed to get out, relieved to hear the sound of her own voice again.
“You’ll be alright, you don’t need to worry about anything else,” Nico muttered slowly and forcefully, as if he was suddenly finding it difficult to speak. How was Nico saving her life? Annabeth suddenly thought it strange that Nico had never mentioned any healing ability. He knew when people were about to die, sure, but he hadn’t been able to do anything about it before. So why now? Annabeth’s mind kicked into high-gear, which for a child of Athena meant her thoughts shot through her brain so fast, it almost felt like they had a force to them.
Nico’s face was pained and was shifting from standard white to deathly grey. She had seen Nico close to death before and was familiar with the concept of life energy. Nico was trying to give his to her! Annabeth suddenly tried to sit up but Nico harshly pushed her back down onto the hard tile floor, knocking the wind back out of her.
“So you are the smart one, after all,” Nico said, smiling with no sign of happiness anywhere on his face. His face suddenly grimaced in pain and he clutched his stomach. Just as the wound on Annabeth was closing, there was a hole in Nico beginning to open.
Annabeth pulled herself up more slowly this time, taking care not to get caught off guard by Nico again, “Nico, please! Stop what you’re doing! I don’t want you exchanging my life for yours. I couldn’t forgive myself, Hazel wouldn’t forgive me! Not even Percy would be-“
“They’d be fine!” Nico almost shouted, although amongst the yelling of the other heroes, his words were almost definitely drowned out so that no one else would have heard him. They all seemed preoccupied with keeping the giant from Piper who was still on the floor crying and seemed to be Porphyrion’s newest target rather than continue focus on an already dying girl.
“Hazel and Percy…all of them, they’d be okay. If they had the choice, they would choose to save you. Hazel can visit me once I’m dead and Percy, well, he already made his choice didn’t he?” Nico laughed darkly, sounding unhinged.
“I’m sorry Nico. You know it wasn’t his choice, just like it wasn’t yours. I’m sorry that Gaea told us all that you… Nico, tell me, you obviously hate me so why save me?” Nico raised an eyebrow slightly but then it seemed like the effort was too much and he suddenly slumped on the floor. His face seemed to soften though, as if he had been carrying some huge weight and it was just lifted off him.
“I’ve always be the pawn of others. Done exactly what they wanted me to do. Tossed in a hotel for years. Manipulated by a ghost king. Used as bait by Gaea. Is it a crime that I wanted to be able to choose my own death and besides…I wanted…to make him happy. That’s what you do when you’re in love isn’t it?” Nico’s face scrunched up like he was disgusted with himself, “But since I’m doing this, you need to protect him. I think you’re the only one who can, Annabeth. Think outside the box. Maybe think a little more like me.”
Annabeth knew when Nico had died. She could feel some sort of connection to the boy at that moment, could feel his coldness and his regrets but also, surprisingly, his happiness. Is this what Nico felt all the time when people died? It was little wonder the kid never smiled properly. She placed his body down on the temple floor and said a word of prayer to the gods.
Annabeth suddenly stood up, fully able now to intake the situation. Hazel had summoned a giant wall of gold that stretched up even to the giant high ceiling of the temple to protect herself and Piper. Leo was shooting as many fireballs as he could, even though they didn’t seem to be doing a thing. Frank had taken to a hellhound form and was gnawing on the giant’s legs with similar results. Percy seemed to be the only one capable of keeping the giant at bay, having summoned fists of water, the same size as the giant’s own hands. They looked like they were involved in a very strange game of mercy.
Annabeth found herself thinking back to Nico’s words. If she was being honest, she had always envied Nico’s way of coming up with ideas that were crazy but always seemed to work out for Percy in the end. It made her feel useless since ideas were supposed to be her forté. She had to think like him now? Something crazy that might be impossible to pull off and even if it did work, could cost her, her own life in the process. Those were the sort of ideas Nico had. She was confident that she knew what Nico wanted of her and she also realised why he hadn’t brought it up. At the same time, looking at the sight of her friends struggling to stay alive, she knew that she had to do it.
Tears began to fall down her face. She was risking a lot; all of her own happiness to do this but too many people had died. Too many more people would die if she didn’t. Annabeth thought to her family in San Francisco, her friends at Camp Half-Blood. And then there was Percy. How would Percy take what she was going to do? Well, with any luck, he wouldn’t make another volcano explode. Or at least just one on a deserted island somewhere.
“I make a call on the goddess Athena. Even in your current state, I am sure a goddess as wise as yourself will remember me,” A little flattery never hurt anyone. Percy and the other demi-gods fighting Porphyrion suddenly turned their heads to where Annabeth was standing, eyes closed in deep concentration. The temple air crackled slightly with what felt like a far-off energy stirring at the girl’s words.
“Annabeth, what are you trying to do? The gods can’t help us now. You know that!” Percy had broken his concentration from his powers and was struck across the room by the giant’s fist as punishment. He collided with the wall on the other end, howling in pain. Still, his eyes travelled back to Annabeth, entranced by her; mind racing to try to figure out his Wise Girl’s play.
“I am Annabeth Chase, your child. I am the one who succeeded where your other children had failed in retrieving the Athena Parthenos. I completed a quest which has eluded the children of Athena for generations and justly so, I seek a gift worthy of my actions.
“As you know, I am in a battle with a giant. The king of giants who seeks to take down your father and everything held close to him as well as revive the goddess Gaea who seeks to destroy the civilisations that you have helped to form. I wish to protect these things. But I do not ask for your assistance in this battle because I know you are in no state to give it.” Annabeth breathed in deeply. She was fighting to remain in control of herself; her mind was screaming for her to stop. Seeing Percy flung across the room as easily as he would, annoyingly, flick a paper ball at her was enough to assure her that the group could not win without a god.
“I ask for the greatest gift of all. I ask to be a goddess! Please grant my request!” Despite how the room filled with sudden warmth, Annabeth was sure that Percy’s blood had gone cold. A year ago, he had turned down the right to be a god for her. And when they were in Tartarus together, he had told her his wish for the pair grow old together and she was throwing all of that right back in his face.
She hadn’t half expected her mother to listen but a golden light shone down through the ceiling of the temple and enveloped Annabeth completely. She felt stronger than ever before. It almost felt like eating too much ambrosia but she felt no sudden fiery warmth that threatened to kill her. She felt safe. Comfortable and calmer than she had every felt, except for maybe the second time she and Percy had kissed. She had wished for that time to last forever and now she felt like it was. She felt amazing, stronger than ever before. Her brain was like a bonfire night and her thoughts were the fireworks. Every problem she had ever encountered, every memory she had ever gained was now launching itself all over her brain and it never seemed too much for her. She understood it all perfectly.
Annabeth wanted to laugh out of pure bliss but then she saw Percy’s face. He looked heartbroken, maybe even betrayed. Annabeth knew she would have to explain, have to take on the consequences of her actions. Maybe those involved losing Percy altogether but if it was to save his life, well, she had promised Nico that much so maybe this was simply her fate.
Annabeth took a breath and released what felt like a sun’s worth of energy from her body as she took to a godly form. Porphyrion was the only one stupid enough to keep looking at her long enough to be affected and paid the price by becoming blind. “Stupid child,” Gaea hissed from beneath Annabeth’s feet. Annabeth felt a little dizzy looking down, as if she was up too high. Had she grown taller when becoming immortal? She had wanted to retain how she looked as a mortal but maybe not even that was possible anymore, “You think that you can now defeat my favourite son? You are wrong. Your mother’s gift will not help you. It will simply doom you to watching your friends die around you. Selfish, foolish child. You have left all of your friends behind.”
Annabeth steeled herself up. She knew that Gaea was just trying to make her doubt herself and that might have worked if she was mortal but now she felt in control. She felt like she had the power to end this “Percy! I need you to hold Porphyrion still!” Her words echoed in a voice that she didn’t recognise and Annabeth almost wanted to cry as she saw Percy flinch from the sound.
Then Percy’s face fell, looking lost and yet thoughtful. Within instants later, he propelled himself away from the wall. He again summoned a pair of hands made out of water but they were much larger than anything he had ever summoned before. The hands smashed into the blind giant’s side sending him stumbling into the wall, with his head digging through the ceiling as he fell, causing stone to impale itself into his body. Percy moved his own hands and the water hands reacted in sync. One closed around the giant’s throat, while the other grabbed its hands and held them together. “Let go of me! You do not understand the force you are pitifully trying to defeat,” Porphyrion cried out and struggled but there was a brutality behind Percy, the type of rage that the sea could only muster on its darkest days when ships would be submerged thousands of feet and seaside towns would be left in a state of disaster. The giant had no chance of escaping from his grip.
Annabeth rose up to level at the giant’s face. She revelled in the ability to fly, suddenly understanding why Jason was so fond of it. As she was enjoying herself though, another part of her brain was forming tactics. She needed to know the best way to defeat the titan. What better way than the tried and true method? Annabeth raised her hands, like a magician before a big trick. She knew she could do pretty much anything although she had no idea on the how. Before her a massive crossbow appeared. It was her creation, made out of her thoughts. She waved a hand and the weapon loaded with a suitably sized arrow “Just like the myth,” Annabeth muttered before it fired and the arrow pierced the giant’s head.
“Noooooo!” Gaea was screaming. The last of her children had once again been vanquished and her plan seemed to be put to a halt. “It matters not you foolish mortals! One of you has already been sacrificed to me. What is there to stop me from manipulating others to kill you or to open the Doors of Death once more! I am the Earth and you cannot defeat me.”
Everyone turned as the golden dome came down. Piper was on her feet. Her eyes were blood red. “Just. Shut. Up.” Piper growled menacingly. Her words were filled with purpose and although she spoke quietly, everyone could hear her as though she had just shouted down a microphone attached to some very powerful speakers. Percy obviously wasn’t the only one whose powers could be fuelled by anger. The earth seemed suddenly still at her command.
“I didn’t lose the person I love just for you to rise up some other day. I would tell you to go straight to Tartarus but if I can’t be with my boyfriend, you definitely can’t be with yours!” Piper kneeled down on the floor in a position that looked like she was bowing in prayer. She swung her head back and took as much breath in as she could and then she screamed at the ground, “For now and every more Gaea, you will sleep!”
The evil aura within the air which had seemed to be always present for almost the last year suddenly vanished. Everyone looked shocked at Piper who suddenly made a run for Jason’s body. She collapsed by the altar and began to sob again. Hard.
“Fear not my child,” Piper looked up to see her mother, Aphrodite, smiling down on her. It wasn’t her normal shark-like smile but a sympathetic one; the one that a mother gave to her daughter when she had just gone through a break-up.
“Mom…how-” Piper was cut off by the sudden entrance of many gods. The Olympians seemed to blast into the temple in a boom of energy. Can Gods not use a front door? Annabeth thought to herself, worrying whether she would become as flashy as all the other gods she had met.
“A lot has happened in this place today. A lot of energy was centred and the Greeks and Romans fought together until the end. You completed the prophecy and that was like an alarm clock that brought them all out of an odd sleep,” Aphrodite explained. The goddess looked down upon the fallen Jason Grace with genuinely sad eyes. “Hades!”
The lord of the dead shot a hateful look across the room. He was attending to the body of Nico, “Can I please have a minute to mourn the death of my favourite child. Is that too much to ask love goddess? I don’t care how much business you give me, I need my own time.”
“Yes, it’s about that.” The gods’ voices carried across the temple room clearly and effortlessly, “It’s not like your underworld no longer has the reputation it once had. For many months now, many creatures have simply been walking out of the place. And maybe I’ve been watching too many Disney movies but I’ve grown tired of Greek tragedies. I don’t wish to see any more heartbreak here and I think that you can allow two more to walk back out free, don’t you?”
“Yes, I quite agree!” The voice of Zeus boomed, always having to have his input.
“Well if you’re going to push me,” Hades said simply. It sounded like he had already had the idea himself but didn’t want to be caught being soft in the face of his young son’s death, “It saves me the effort of more paperwork anyway.”
There were cheers from the heroes of Olympus. Their friends would be allowed to come back into the mortal world as though they had never died in the first place. Everything could go back to normal…well, almost everything.
Annabeth floated down next to an exhausted Percy. He sat on the temple, smiling, despite what Annabeth feared. Of course, there was a lot to be happy about but he could show a little grief for her, for crying out loud. She took in his gorgeous face through the eyes of a goddess.
“I’m sorry. You don’t understand how hard this decision was for me but-“
“You don’t have to apologise. I’m mad, devastated even, but I’m not an idiot. I know you did what you had to and if you didn’t, well, we would all be dead. Thanks.” Percy grew silent and his eyes seemed to be reflecting the storm inside his head. Annabeth waited for what seemed like an eternity for Percy to continue speaking and then he said, “I suppose we can’t live the life I always wanted us too.”
Annabeth broke into tears but she nodded hurriedly, “Percy, please just know that I loved you more than I ever thought was possible and I hope that one day, you find someone else that’s better for you than I was.”
Percy laughed and shook his head, dismissively, “I’m not breaking up with you Annabeth. I think it’s already been said by many a love god, that you’re my soul mate. I’m never going to find someone better for me than you.” He shot a look at Aphrodite who nodded, smiling wholeheartedly “I’m not going to give you up. I’ll become a god myself instead! I’ll do the challenges of Hercules if it means I can be with you for the rest of my life. And hey, we can still have kids. They won’t grow old but neither will we. We won’t have to worry about dying anymore. And you know what, that would be a nice change.”
Percy kissed Annabeth and he could almost feel his lips begin to sear because of the power she now held but he didn’t care. It was still Annabeth and honestly, both of them felt like the kiss was pretty awesome. Aphrodite was right.
Tragedies were overrated.