Broken Rules

Colbie Morrow never wanted to leave the comfort of her typical teenaged life. Unfortunately, it wasn't her decision to make drastic changes to conform to a new reality: that Cronus is after her, and she must either accept the conditions the Titan king is offering, stand and fight for the fate of the world, or die trying to protect those close to her. The question being asked now: Will she choose what's right for her? Or will she let the world crumble as a result of walking away? Credits to .Alexandra. for the beautiful cover!

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2. 1. Walking Straight out of Fiction

Look, I didn’t want to be a part of this.

            Being the subject of a prophecy can get you killed in the worst way.  I’m warning you the way one of my demigod pals did ... if you feel something stirring inside, like you recognize yourself in these woeful pages, stop reading this book right now.  You’ll be fair game to the forces of evil, just like me and my friends.

            Being a pravus is dangerous, guys.  Like I mentioned before, you even have the slightest feeling of recollection by reading this, believe you’re just a normal human being and go along like nothing bad will happen to you.  It’ll be a matter of time before Cronus – once king of the gods, now escaped Tartarus convict – senses you’re just as deeply involved in his fate as I am.  Trust me, when he finds out, he and his followers will come for you.

            Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

*           *           *

My name is Colbie Mangas.

            Who am I?  Ever since moving to New Olympia, I’ve wondered about that, too.

            I can’t say much about me.  As you know, I’m a fifteen year old girl who grew up a little too fast.  Greek mythology plays an important role in my life, now more than ever.  I love horses; I always have admired those magnificent creatures since I was five years old.  I go to school and gain average marks.  I’m athletic; I play volleyball, hockey, and soccer most of the time.  Badminton on occasion.  Believe it or not, I sound pretty typical.  Almost boring, actually.

            You must have sharp eyes.  The one exception.  Greek mythology.  That’s what caused me to grow up too fast.  Before all this, I was that everyday girl people loved to talk to.  I had a carefree life before I met Cronus.  Before my life took a turn for the worse.

            And now?  Let me introduce you to the shell of the girl who used to be so outgoing, so free, so happy.  I’m a shadow of who I was before all this.  I can’t trust anyone, especially you.  Are you on Cronus’s side of this war?  Do you want me to become his queen?  Would you really care if I died trying to prevent him from overthrowing the Olympians and empowering the Titans once more?

            If you answered yes to my first question, stop reading and put this book down right now.  Knowing Cronus, he’s probably made you read this to gain information to find me or turn me to his side.  Once you find the information you’re looking for, he’ll get you to spill it, whether you’re willing to or not.

            If you answered no to the same question, keep reading.  You think this is fiction?  Great!  I envy you for your unawareness of a war of mythical proportions going on around you.  You likely couldn’t care less about it about, anyway.  Just don’t let anyone you know about it, okay?

            I was very young when I first heard of the Greek myths.  My dad told them to me as bedtime stories.  I was too young to remember them.

            And then I hit freshman Latin at Parasuco High. . . .

            My Latin teacher is pretty cool.  She’s from Hawaii, and she’s fascinated with the Greek way of life.  When she starts about reviewing mythology, I think it’s funny (and not in the ha-ha, very funny way) that I’m the one who always answers about the king of the Titans.  Admit it, you may not have heeded my earlier warning, but you know this is a good read, minion or not.  As a servant of Cronus, you know I’m no good to him since I sided with the heroes.

            Would you say this is cool?  Would you see I have a birthmark on my right cheek that looks like my first initial made by some street fight I got into?  Could you call me awesome since I can tell what's coming to me, good or bad?  Yeah, I thought so.  I’ll admit I have some sort of ability to know what’s coming next based on air temperature exposed to my birthmark.  If the air is cold, woes will come to me.  If it’s warm, good will come out of the events.

            I’ve never had that cold feeling before October twenty-eighth, two thousand eleven.  That was the worst day in the history of my life.  Everything changed that day two months ago.

            Okay, everything started out normally that night.  My little brother, Austin, had his friends over.

            See, my sweet brother is a descendant of Apollo – the Greek god of sun, prophecy, and music – so he can see everything that will happen him or close family.  Lucky me ... half of the time, I’m glad I can’t see what’s coming at me.

            After I came through the front door into our one-storey home, I readjusted my laptop bag, and set down my knapsack.  I took out my Latin books.

            Yeah, okay, we all know it’s not the most unusual thing to get homework out of junior year Latin.  Believe it or not, it’s not really Latin.  It's more Greek than Latin.  Trust me, when your Latin teacher starts going on about the brilliance of Plato and expects you to speak Greek by the next day, you know damn good and well you’ve got a Greek issue with her.

            It’s not bad for say.  The class has become too easy to deal with for me and my two best friends because we’re of Greek descent.  My dad, Charlie, moved to America from Greece, so, he offered to help me learn his native language.  I can now speak it fluently.

            I knew something was up because I didn’t hear my mom, Amita, yacking on the phone to my aunt in Stokerton about my cousin’s upcoming wedding.  I knew Dad wouldn’t be home for another two hours because he was working.  Austin was staying overnight at Steven Mayer’s place.  I would be alone in the few minutes it took between Caitlin coming, and Mom and Dad getting home.

            Steven, by the way, is my brother’s best friend.

            I walked over to the small table beside the stairs.  Austin had his other friends over, so it didn’t surprise me when Ben Newfell walked by me.  Ben looked a little smug, like he pulled a prank on someone, but otherwise was the same cocky Ben I knew since he was in kindergarten.

            My eyes strayed back to the small side table, to the simple yellow sticky note.  I recognized Dad’s handwriting almost immediately.

            The note read:

            Colbie,

              Your mother wanted to see how well you could manage alone, regarding your babysitting career.  I won’t be home at five o'clock today.  Austin knows, so that is why he's staying at Steven’s.

              Melissa called earlier to tell you she wasn’t coming over.  Her grandmother is in the hospital.  Kyle will be heading back to Iraq after Halloween.

              Don’t worry.  Caitlin is still coming.

            Love,

              Dad

            I shook my head.  Melissa left English early because of a family emergency.  It never occurred to me her grandmother might be sick.  Melissa also mentioned her older brother would be heading to Iraq as a peacekeeper.  All I hoped was the fact Kyle wouldn’t come home in a flag-draped casket.

            I knew Caitlin was still coming, though.  She said so during noon hour.

            Okay, back when I still lived in the United States, I was the resident babysitter for a lot of new moms in my neighborhood.  I had my first aid and CPR.  I could put two-year-old brats to sleep.

            Mom and Dad never left me alone in the house for my entire life.  In my opinion, I thought this was a major step forward because they felt I was capable of fending for myself.  I probably couldn’t handle it if they had me stay overnight by myself.

            Nowadays, I can’t stay alone.  It’s been a major taboo since I heard of my prophecy.  Even at night, I don’t sleep easy.  When I do get some shut-eye, all I see are evil red eyes and hear a dark, menacing laughter.

            Anyway, I took the note my dad wrote and shoved it in the back pocket of my jeans.  I don’t know what compelled me to do it, but I continued to stare at the cluttered table.  After re-reading a wedding invitation from my cousin Snow and her fiancé, Vladimir, I headed up the stairs before Alex Sanderson could shout his greeting.

*           *           *

As I walked down the hallway that led to my room, something ice cold touched my face.  Judging by feel of it, it felt like it tingled more on my right cheek than anything.  I thought about the backpack I left downstairs, and the sweater I stored in it.  I wished I had that sweater with me, but I took it back the minute I thought deeper about it.  It’s a warning, girl, my conscious nattered.

            Something fishy was definitely going on around here.  I couldn’t get my stalker to quit following me, no matter what route I took to get home.  I had the funny feeling I was related to my stalker ... he seemed to radiate power like only a god would.  I wondered also about my ancestor.  If something bad’s going to happen to me, would my ancestor have something to do with it? I asked myself.

            Don’t be stupid! my conscious chided.  Your ancestor is dead, girl.  There’s no way he could come back from the dead.

            I thought a little deeper about it - the warning, the stalker, and the freakishly tall people.  With all that, a thought dawned on me, a recollection of a conversation I had with Dad when I was eight, while I was working on a family tree project.

            Dad said my ancestor was a powerful being, having more power than Zeus.  I never guessed it before, but I thought of the Titans as I remembered that night.

            Ow!” I cried out.  My right shoulder exploded with pain.  Something, or someone cut my shoulder.  I wanted to see if there was blood, so I pressed my hand to my shoulder.  I was hoping there was no blood, but, unfortunately, there was.

            The cut wasn’t deep, but it was agonizing.  I didn’t catch my shoulder on anything – practically impossible to do – but I know, whatever sliced me open like that, felt like imperial gold.

            That was when I knew something weird was going on.

            Imperial gold, like celestial bronze, wasn’t supposed to hurt me.  I was a typical mortal with the ability to see through the Mist.  I shouldn’t be cut and bleeding.  I shouldn’t be in pain.  Percy Jackson (yes, the Percy Jackson) and a Roman friend of his – Jason Grace, I think the name was – decided to try the theory of demigod weapons and mortals.  They were right ... both their swords passed through me like air.  I wasn’t hurt.

            Anyway, as soon as I touched my doorknob, words older than Greek were in my ear.  The voice obviously belonged to a man because the voice was deep, ominous, ancient, and powerful.  There was pressure on my wound, and it caused me to wince.  Toughening up, I decided to get a look at who I was being grounded by.

            I turned, and the first word that came to mind was Dracula.  Okay, I read the famous Bram Stoker novel for English just in time for Halloween, but from every remake of the novel’s movie, this guy’s face was almost exactly like the vampire’s.  The only exceptions were the fact this guy looked a little more like my dad, had a scar on his right cheek, no fangs, and his skin was a tad bit darker than pale.  For all I knew, this guy wasn’t even Transylvanian.  A similarity the Black Dragon and I had in common were ice blue eyes.  The dude I was facing had eyes that were like drops of blood on a clean white sheet.

            This guy was stronger than a Halloween character.  The man radiated power the way a god would.

            He looked about fifty years old.  He stood approximately six foot four and was dressed from head to toe in black – black wide-brimmed hat, black trench coat, black pants, black turtleneck with some sort of gold decoration on the front of the collar, and shoes.  His scowl looked like that of Dad’s when Dad was ticked off.  His scar was a complete reflection of my birthmark, looks and all.  My shoulder felt like someone set fire to it as this guy was touching my open injury.

            I knew this guy wasn’t at all a vampire.

            Like I said before, this guy wasn’t even Transylvanian.  He was probably Greek, but he spoke in a language older than Greek.  Probably Egyptian, or something like that.

            A thing about me:  I only know English, French, Spanish, Greek, and Japanese.  How was I supposed to know what this guy was muttering about?

            As he stared at me intensely, I came up with a plan to get away from him.

            And I knew what to say to do just that.

            “Um, I kinda have homework to do,” I said, shrugging my free shoulder to indicate my laptop bag.  “I would like to get it done before my best friend comes over a little bit later.  Could you please let me go?”

            He let me go.  “Of course,” he said.  I turned away, and he started talking to himself.  The guy mumbled, “Too intelligent.  This one can’t be the Pravus.  She can’t be my future queen.”  I was halfway through my door when he turned his gaze back on me.  “Could she be?”

            I didn’t care anymore.  Fluent English or not, the dude was crazy.  I slammed my door shut with my foot.  Yep, definitely nuts.  The last queen I heard of resided in Buckingham Palace, and the last Pravuses I knew were either living in New York, or were about to marry my cousin.  Whatever it was, it scared me a little.  I took a breather before turning to my homework.

            Thank God for moms who give a crap.  I knew my mom cleaned my room because of the open window.  That seemed to be her signature every time I asked that of her.  I warned her homework might take up the time between me getting home and Caitlin’s arrival.

            There was something a little unusual about the tidiness of my room.  Mom never left a note before, but I guess she wanted to try something a little different.  So, I picked up the small piece of white paper that was sitting on my deep purple pillow.

            The note read:

            Beware of Cronus.  I’m here to help.

               Jay.

            I took that happy thought and tacked it up on the bulletin board beside my open window.  This Jay left no phone number I could call him at.  He left no e-mail I could reach him at.  He didn’t even say he was on Facebook or not.  Sure here to help, right?

            Anyway, I set my laptop bag and Latin books on my bed.  I zipped open my laptop bag and pulled out the portable computer it held.  I moved the computer to my desk, flipped open the screen and keyboard, and pushed the power button.

            As the laptop booted up, I grabbed my soccer sweatshirt and it on.  My computer was loaded and all ready to go by the time I sat down at my desk.

            Create a short essay or PowerPoint for your given character out of Greek mythology, Ms. Kawai said as she had each of us pick a name out of a hat.  I hoped the name was something else, but I wound up with the baddest bad guy in the world.

            Yeah, the name I drew was Cronus.

            I didn’t have much to research about the Titan king.  Seriously, I had an interview – via Skype – with Percy to talk about Cronus.  He told me everything I needed to know, including Cronus in the modern context, what he would stand for if he was real, and whether or not I liked his character.  I knew Greek myth was real at this point, okay?  I just didn’t really accept it until it was too late.

            My fingers glided on my touch pad as I moved the arrow over to where the start menu icon was.  I pressed the left button and looked for my word processor.  I clicked on the processor’s icon, and, as soon as it was loaded, my fingers started flying across the keyboard.  Within minutes, I had a speech about my PowerPoint typed up.

            I printed it.  The printer my parents had was wireless, and their office was just across the hallway from my room.  It wouldn’t take me too long to walk there, grab my speech, and walk back.

            I did just that, only I stretched before heading out the door.  I walked across the hall to my parents’ office, picking up an eight and a half by eleven inch piece of paper, read over the printing on it for any spelling and grammatical errors, and headed back to my room.

            I closed the word document – but not before saving – and pulled up my PowerPoint.  I reached into my laptop bag again and pulled out my data stick.  I copied the PowerPoint speech to my data stick, opened the PowerPoint itself, and ran through my presentation.

            From that point, things only went downhill.

            The fiery touch was back.  I wasn’t expecting it to return, so I gasped and whirled around to face what – or who – had my shoulder.

            Dracula’s non-vampirific look-a-like was back.  He seemed to ignore me because he was reading over Cronus in the Modern Context.  He smiled coldly and turned his gaze on me.

            “Is that what you think of me?” he asked politely.

            “Who cares what you think, Cronus?” I sneered.  “What do you want from me?”

            “Ah, right to the point,” the man, Cronus, noted.  “An excellent trait to have in a queen.”

            “What.  Do.  You.  Want?” I repeated.  I was starting to feel hostile toward the Titan.  I knew he liked to toy with his victims before he murdered them.  I honestly hoped I wasn’t about to die.

            “My, you’re just about as noble as those eight kids in New Olympia – particularly the alpha, Jay,” Cronus mused mockingly.  I glared at him.  Answer the damn question, jerk, I thought.

            Knowing he was a god, it didn’t surprise me when he finally did answer my question.  “You, my dear, are exactly what I want,” Cronus said.  His voice changed from mocking to hard as he spoke.  He moved a little too close to me for my liking.

            “Get away from –” I started to warn him to back off, but he cut me off with movement too fast for mortal eyes.  Before I knew it, I was in the Titan’s arms and his mouth was on mine.

            Back then, I wondered what brought that on.  I knew Cronus could have any girl he wanted, but why would he go after me?

            Then – a few seconds later – I put the pieces together.

            I found out the hard way he’d fallen for his grandson’s best mortal friend out of Minot.

            At that point, I wanted to fight to get away from him.

            I started with an obvious sign I wanted nothing to do with him.  A total brain-dead idiot wouldn't sense that from the one shove I gave him.  I needed him off of me.  He wouldn’t let me breathe.  Cronus completely ignored me as he forced my mouth open with his.

            I got another idea.

            I kicked at him.  Usually, I was pretty lucky when it came to fending off creeps like Cronus, but here’s the thing ... Cronus wasn’t just any creep.  He was a creep who was used to getting what he wanted.  I guess he knew I was starting to defend myself, so he slammed my body up against his.

            I kicked again.  There was a muffled thump this time as my foot came into contact with his leg.  A pins-and-needles sensation tingled up from my foot and into my leg.

            He felt it, praise God.  I could breathe again.  I wasn’t surprised when he left.

            I was alone, hallelujah.  This was the first time I was grateful for loneliness.

            I exited my PowerPoint.  There was no way in hell I would revisit it.  I never expected Cronus walking straight out of fiction to irritate me.

            The silence I was experiencing didn’t last too long.  A considerate knock on my door broke it.

            “Come in,” I called.

            My door opened.  My younger brother stood in the doorway.

            “Hey,” Austin said.  “Project get to you?”

            I nodded.  I didn’t want to talk about how Cronus walked right from the slides of my presentation just to get on my nerves.

            Austin seemed to read my mind, but he kept silent.  When he knew I didn’t want to talk about it, he didn’t bring it up.  “Just to let you know: Caitlin’s here.  I told her I’d set her stuff up before I leave for Steven’s.”  There was a pause before he walked out of my room.  “Hey, don’t sweat it.  I figured Cronus would come after you.  I just didn’t think he would find you today.”

            My gloomy mood lightened a little bit.  “It’s okay, Austin.  I think I might’ve taught him about messing with me,” I replied, a small smile touching my face.

            Austin laughed.  “Yeah, you probably did,” he said as we traded places.

*           *           *

My walk downstairs took a little longer than I expected, no thanks to a certain Titan that just attacked me.  It irritated the hell out of me worse than Halloween did.

            As I made my way down the stairs slowly, I caught sight of my best friend.  Her long chocolate hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and she was in jeans and a Camp Half-Blood T-shirt.  I wasn’t surprised to see Ben and Alex gone, but she was smiling and her green eyes were alive with laughter.

            “Hey,” Caitlin Hurst, demigod daughter of Hermes, greeted, “how’s it going?”

            I grinned at her and shrugged.  “Would you believe me if I told you things are getting a little crazy?” I replied.

            “Likely,” my best friend replied.  “Anyway, it’s great that your parents are letting me stay over.  You’ve no idea how long I’ve wanted to hang out with you.”

            A thing about that:  Caitlin was one of the dozens of demigods that fought Kronos in the most recent war with the Titans.  It was thanks to Percy’s decision to give Caitlin’s half-brother – who was Luke Castellan, by the way – the knife he’d given to Annabeth Chase years ago we were all still here.

            “I’ll bet you’ve wanted to hang out ever since coming home from camp, right?”

            Caitlin laughed as Austin came down the stairs.  He raised his hand in greeting at Caitlin.  She returned the gesture.  He continued to walk to the front door.  He slung his backpack over his shoulder, nodded at me, opened the door, and walked out.

            “At any rate, I guess Austin set you up, so – do you want to move this conversation up to my room?” I asked.  I wasn’t smiling anymore.  What I had to tell her scared me more than a Stephen King novel (trust me: I’ve read Carrie.  It was absolutely terrifying).

            Caitlin nodded, her smile turning soft.  “Sure.”

            With that, Caitlin and I walked back up the stairs.

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