This was it, the final fight. Percy ran down the maze of corridors, trying to keep Annabeth steady. Blood soaked through her Bronze cuirass, covering Percy’s hand in sticky heat. She limped beside him, her golden hair tangled and messy. Her face was pale and her grey eyes faded. This was bad, really, really bad. Their assault had failed and Percy hadn’t heard from Hazel or Frank since they set off to disable the alarms. They’d made good progress. Percy’s party had gone almost undetected as they snuck through the monsters camp. Just as they got to the gatehouse the alarm bells sounded. A great clashing sound that made Percy’s teeth chatter. There was silence for a few moments and then the whole citadel began to wake, monsters pouring out of every narrow passageway. Jason and Leo ran beside him, neither looking unscathed. Jason bore a red line across his cheek from where he’d been hit by a stray arrow. Piper had disappeared amongst the confusion, though she had been right next to the exit when he’d last seen her. He hoped Jason would be alright.
‘Percy, leave me’ Annabeth whispered, her voice weak. Percy ignored her, instead trying to find a way out of this nightmare. Arrows whizzed past them, striking the walls with shattering force. Leo’s torch flickered and danced in his hands, casting fiery light that bathed everything in a warm orange colour. Annabeth’s face was streaked with dirt and blood, but Percy still had to admire how beautiful she looked under the orange rays.
Gaea’s fortress lie in an open space surrounded by cliffs. Dark clouds whirled above the impressive construction, causing the light to fade even in the open. The tunnels ran deep into the cliffs in all directions. Percy had no idea where they were going, only that these tunnels could lead to just about anywhere.
Suddenly a shard of light pierced the darkness from an opening ahead. Percy had to shield his eyes until they could readjust to natural light. Hope returned to the party as they continued with increased speed.
‘You think we lost them?’ Leo spoke, his voice sounding cracked and dry. His question was answered for him as another arrow struck the wall a few feet from his head.
‘Move, now!’ shouted Percy. Leo didn’t need to be told twice as he took the lead. Jason moved onto the other side of Annabeth, pulling her arm round his shoulder to take some of her weight.
‘Do you think we can make it?’ Jason asked, careful not to let anyone else overhear his words. They’d abandoned the Argo in order to sneak into Gaia’s camp, their routes of escape were closing, fast.
‘We have to.’ Said Percy, trying to sound confident. So much rested on him and he had failed. Their plan had been smashed to pieces by a few bells. The group burst through the narrow opening into daylight. Barron land stretched as far as the eye could see, interrupted only by a small ridge up ahead that obstructed their view.
‘Head for that ridge.’ Percy commanded ‘At the very least it might disguise our direction if we can get over it.’
‘Or it might just give the monsters following us the height needed to shoot us in the back with arrows.’ Jason retorted. Though no one complained as they left the towering cliffs behind them. Percy glanced back to see thousands of monsters pour through the opening where they had just been. Teeth bared and weapons glistening. Annabeth was only getting worse, her breathing getting heavier with every step. They struggled up the sloped bank to the top. Percy surveyed the surroundings ahead of them. The landscape was barren. A mass of featureless land obstructed only by a forest at its distant edge, marked as a swaying mass of green. They could never cross that amount of distance in time, not before the monsters reached them.
‘What now?’ Leo asked, his eyes desperately searching for a way out of this mess.
‘We have to carry on.’ Percy replied, his teeth clenched.
‘Now!’ Percy cut him off. They started their descent down the other side of the ridge. They only just made it out of range when monsters crested the top. Arrows struck the grass behind them. They were almost halfway towards the forest when things got bad. Percy’s blood soaked hand made it hard to keep a grip of Annabeth. His hand slipped and Annabeth collapsed to the ground, almost taking Jason with her.
‘You have to leave me!’ moaned Annabeth, her hand trying to put pressure on her wound. Jason looked up at Percy questioningly. It was too far to carry her, they’d never make it. Percy leant down slowly over Annabeth.
‘Never.’ He kissed her gently before moving between the approaching monsters and her shattered form. ‘You two should go, save yourselves. Maybe you can stop our friends from killing each other.’ He drew his sword. Jason and Leo looked at each other, eyes catching for a moment.
‘And let you face that lot on your own?’ Jason grabbed Percy’s forearm. ‘I can’t let you have all the glory now can I?’ A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. Percy clasped Jason’s forearm in turn, a bond of friendship.
‘What about you Leo?’ Jason murmured over his shoulder, not breaking eye contact with Percy.
‘naa you guys go ahead, thought I might sit this one out.’ Percy and Jason turned slowly to face him. Leo’s mouth broke into a grin. ‘Wouldn’t miss it for the world.’ He retorted, still grinning as he took his position next to the two heroes, taking a hammer from his belt.
Annabeth lay helplessly behind them, her ragged breath louder than even the surging tide of monsters racing over the flat ground towards them.
‘Elysium better be worth it.’ Leo muttered. Kicking away some of the dust below his feet.
‘I’ve seen it.’ Replied Percy, ‘But I think that’s a story for another time.’ Leo turned with a smirk, he had come to expect such random declarations of greatness from the young hero.
Jason’s voice broke the silence. ‘There is no one finer that I’d rather die with today, it’s been an adventure of a lifetime and I hope we remain friends for a lot longer than that.’ Jason readied his sword, spinning it in an arch with his hand.
‘Aww big guy don’t be going all soft on us now’ Leo replied, earning himself a light punch in the arm.
The monsters were getting closer. The now distant cliffs that encircled the monster’s fortress glistened over the ridge. The darkness seemed to follow the horde as they approached. Percy felt a drop of rain hit his cheek and looked back, catching Annabeth’s eye. She looked up at him, silently mouthing the words I love you. He smiled softly at her, even in this sorry state she was gorgeous, her blonde hair draped across her cheek. He turned and crouched low, levelling his sword with his cheek in an offensive position as he prepared to charge. The others followed suit.
The monsters were only a short sprint away now. He could see the gleam from their twisted weapons as they ran. Breath launched from their nostrils, made visible by the increasingly icy air. They came out in all shapes and sizes, some with horns, some with fur or even scales. He saw a lot of the creatures he’d battled over the years. This was it. The final push. Percy had always been fascinated with the Spartan’s view of a ‘glorious death’. But now he he understood. The only thing worth dying for in this world was something you believed in, something you could fight for, something you loved.
Percy barely mouthed the words go when horns sounded from behind them, echoing through their surroundings. The mass of monsters ground to a stop in front of them, searching for the origin. Percy’s group turned to see a magnificent sight. From the trees brought squares of velvet red, a glistening eagle on top of each one. The golden letters SPQR stretched across their width. A constant banging soon followed. The sounds of swords on shields. The monsters retreated slightly, unsure of what to do, their leaders hadn’t yet caught up with them.