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An Undertow of Sand (Percy Jackson and the Cthulhu Mythos)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Shujin, Jul 28, 2021.

  1. NuclearBirb

    NuclearBirb A mysterious birb.

    Dec 17, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Well, we’ve confirmed hecatia best girl, because she gives lap pillows.
  2. Lucidum

    Lucidum Verifiably Bored

    Jul 14, 2019
    Likes Received:
    Well... this gives me quite a few ideas. Both about Nico and Percy, I'm thinking from what we know that Percy was 'Adopted' by Fate, and in the case of Bianca she needed to 'technically' die due to her adoption by Persephone.

    Nico on the other hand, was probably meant to be Hades and Persephone's son, however, Hades' deal had Nyx somehow retroactively become the Mother and I'm guessing that Fate did something similar, potentially through the various prophecies that OG!Percy was involved in.
  3. Mquz

    Mquz Versed in the lewd.

    Apr 5, 2018
    Likes Received:
    I’m preety sure it’s implied that Bianca literally died and became a disembodied soul.
  4. Kalstorm22

    Kalstorm22 I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Oct 12, 2019
    Likes Received:
    nice chapter,
  5. Lucidum

    Lucidum Verifiably Bored

    Jul 14, 2019
    Likes Received:
    She "Technically" Died but more her Mortality/Mortal Body, which she's currently rebuilding her body from the stuff Gods/Elder Gods are made of.
    Again, Humanity/Mortality.
  6. Mquz

    Mquz Versed in the lewd.

    Apr 5, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Yes, but I feel like this is going to be a “came back wrong” kind of thing. Artemis seems horrified at the prospect of letting go of her humanity
    ArcanaVitae likes this.
  7. Lucidum

    Lucidum Verifiably Bored

    Jul 14, 2019
    Likes Received:
    Horrified is an exaggeration, Artemis doesn't even seem to be shocked that Persephone did it. She "Scoffed" at Persephone's opinion on the human condition.

    Also, I'm not sure Artemis's opinions really should be taken as fact or even considered good opinions considering she's fucked herself over in almost every way possible.
    NounNoun likes this.
  8. GuestLurker

    GuestLurker Getting sticky.

    Nov 7, 2021
    Likes Received:
    "Wrong" is such a subjective thing when it comes to beings like Persephone.
    ArcanaVitae and Lucidum like this.
  9. silentorphan

    silentorphan Versed in the lewd.

    Apr 14, 2019
    Likes Received:
    Artemis' opinions tend to vacillate? Here she thinks retaining one's humanity (or perhaps human morality/behavior) is a positive thing, while other times, well, remember when she was telling the story of the three sisters:
    ArcanaVitae and NounNoun like this.
  10. Vicentehuerta777dragon

    Vicentehuerta777dragon Know what you're doing yet?

    May 9, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Does kore just sees any children of hades as her child too?
    Also really heartwarming to see how much she cares about him.
    ArcanaVitae and NounNoun like this.
  11. Shujin

    Shujin Know what you're doing yet?

    Jul 27, 2021
    Likes Received:
    She was quoting Persephone there, as she is talking about when they last spoke.
  12. Threadmarks: My Rabbit's Big Fat Greek Sleepover

    Shujin Know what you're doing yet?

    Jul 27, 2021
    Likes Received:
    AN: Let me know if there are any problems, please.
    An Undertow of Sand
    A PJO Fanfiction

    You know, I once spent three days in a coma when I was six.

    Mom had been sitting on my bed when I finally woke up, reading a book. She’d been in black, starry night pajamas with only one sock on and her black hair pinned up with a pen. The memory of her painfully fond sigh, like she had caught me with my hand in the cookie jar and was remembering when she had done the same, a long, long (long) time ago, is burned into my mind.

    Because the very next second, she showed me the nightmare that had followed me awake.

    I don’t remember what it looked like.

    I think that was for the best.

    She allowed it to lunge for me and I know I screamed.

    Mom had crushed the parasite with ease. Dark blood and the kind of viscera that stunk to high heaven and still squirmed drenched my bed sheets. The taste of iron in my mouth, a burning in my eyes and swallowing back bitter tasting bile of sheer terror was nothing next to the gentle hand that passed through my hair. My mother had made a soft, huffing sound of amusement as I tried not to cry and tapped me on the nose.

    ‘What did we learn?’ Mom had asked me.

    A couple hours later, she was walking me through cutting up strawberries without murdering myself to the sound of Robert Jordan’s Eye of the World on cassette tape like nothing had happened. Dad had taken off work and was just so relieved I was finally awake. I remember his awkward hovering, trying to talk to me around and through his wife to make sure I was okay. Mom gave me the week off from training even when I insisted I was fine and guided my dreams for another week after that.

    Dad didn’t suspect a thing.

    Not that he could have. Mom never leaves evidence behind. I was still ignoring him, and well.

    There was nothing to suspect?

    At the time, I was embarrassed, feeling like a baby that couldn’t take care of himself.

    I understood the lesson, though.

    I took Sam with me whenever I felt like exploring from then on and I never overstayed my welcome in the Dreamlands ever again.

    ‘What did we learn?’

    It was the only thing Mom ever needed to say.

    The Greek Personification of Sleep had stared at me for a second, pulsed in disbelief and then had nearly exploded in rage. His anger was rough. Grating. Like it was actually peeling parts of my Sleeping soul away. The lights of the mortal souls he was holding flickered with terrible nightmares. A lot of them tore right out of their rest, that lizard hindbrain blaring the alarms and waving red flags that staying asleep was death.

    It wasn’t. Just unpleasant. Hypnos was more careful than that.

    I think.

    Look, no one’s perfect.

    I know Luke said it.

    Multiple times.

    It wasn’t until Hypnos flipped his shit when I told him where Clovis was that I started to accept (just a little) that maybe there was something a bit off with how Mom was raising me.

    I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

    The part of me that felt guilty for putting my friends in danger understood why he was angry. It was because he was worried, but having a panic attack never helped anyone, right? Having a crisis just because someone you care about was having a crisis meant you were useless.

    There was also the fact that he couldn't deck his mom for putting her grandchild in danger.

    Ignoring my mother doing just that causing all our problems, him doing the same would be a bad idea on so many levels. It was just like Artemis said, being angry felt better.

    Dad got angry too, but I knew it was because he cared. I guess he and an Elder God had something in common.

    Mom was not like my father.

    Part of me understood why Hypnos was angry. It was the rest of me that fluttered my spines in bewilderment and said, He’s not lost.

    My buddy paused mid-tirade.

    I told him to go to Ulthar, I continued. None of the cats in that village like me, but I knew they would help. He’s only staying to help our friends. He’s fine.

    I fell in at two years old.

    I was alive (and sane), so obviously, it was fine? Clovis already knew all the really important stuff. I made sure to tell him when he started so he wouldn’t have to learn on the go like I did: If he saw puddles of tar, he was going in the wrong direction. Always. Don’t go too deep into the water. Avoid the Pit. The mountain range to the south? Bad news. Keep track of your thoughts. If they go weird, get the hell out of dodge.

    Leave the temples alone.

    Trust me, getting haunted out of the corner of your eyes by a twisted altar and its bloodstained knife even while awake is not as cool as it sounds. Me, being a dumbass kid, thought it was way cool. Especially when I found out that Apollo couldn’t see it, but Evangeline could.

    A month later was when Eva and I finally realized it wasn’t cool at all.

    Oh, and.

    You don’t want to go to the moon.

    An enterprising dream spirit, drunk on their renewed freedom, latched onto the shadow of my fear. They projected an ominous ‘ping……cheep!’ of a submarine’s sonar at me.

    Hypnos and I both turned to glare at them.

    Their presence blanched a pale yellow under our combined hundreds of eyes before it quietly slunk away.


    Hypnos poked me.

    He’s fine, I repeated at the fragile relief in Hypnos’ form. Clovis was fine. I was just a whole lot less sure about everyone else. Just make sure nothing is trying to follow them awake, okay?

    Hypnos grabbed me in a massive hug. I felt like my face was being crushed into a pillow made of koosh balls. I grabbed him back with my wings and squeezed until he wiggled in amusement, but there was an undercurrent of concern.

    Two words: Red October. I sighed as I let him go. Don’t really wanna talk about it.


    I’m fine now. My brother helped.

    Reassured, Hypnos nudged me questioningly. His grasping presence lightly tugged on the spines and barbs curling off my form. I was a lot bigger than I was used to, finally able to look him in the eyes without needing him to lift me. I also felt like someone had turned me into their origami paper folding project when I wasn’t looking, layering me into myself with burning green eyes filling in the spaces in between.

    Which was, uh, new.

    I shrugged.

    Fuck if I know, I said honestly. I fell asleep like this.

    I had my suspicions, but it wasn’t like I knew for sure. The last time I couldn’t keep my eyes on the inside was after Apollo’s oracle jumped me. Rhea sealed my Sleeping soul somehow, but I guess I was right back at it after making lunch of Lotus Hotel’s manager. Was I going to turn into a freakshow every time I ate someone?

    Because that would be kinda lame.

    Speaking of, You missed an absolute shit ton while grounded, by the way.

    Hypnos was unsurprised.

    I only had two kinds of days, after all.

    Nothing Happens and Fucking Disaster.

    It hadn’t seemed like all that much while it was happening, but when I thought about exactly what had happened since Mom lost her shit and made the Night lose her shit and everything else went to shit -

    It was a bit much, you know?

    Also, an unreasonable number of things that might come back to bite me in the ass later.

    Being on Persephone’s shortlist wasn’t even half of it.

    I patted my buddy. Right now, we gotta steal some kind of key for the Queen so our rabbit is less useless so we can find the Bolt in two days.

    Or maybe it was more like one and a half now.

    Hypnos radiated incredulous disbelief.

    Then he slumped with a resigned shrug and gave me another hug. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated it. Just a good old fashioned ‘hang in there, man’ from a friend. Especially when I caught the pulse of dread from him. I pulled back a little.

    You know what key she wants. It wasn’t a question.

    Hypnos pursed, collapsing in on himself. His grip on me tightened, like he was going to try to keep me with him. Safe and sound.

    We both startled when his multitude of fingers passed right through.

    I was waking up.

    Shit, I said. I tried to reach back for Sleep, but he slipped through my fingers. Shit! Tell me quick!

    Hypnos sent me a wave of reassurance.

    You’re going to help? I shouted. The dark world around me was breaking apart as I struggled to stay in the oblivion.

    Hypnos was determined.

    He was a little less determined when he sheepishly replied that he had to rescue his son first, but he was going to make up for lost time.

    He had my back.

    Say hi to Nico for me!

    That was the last thing I got out before I became aware of my bladder threatening to empty itself right the fuck now, if you don’t wake up, I swear to God…

    I bolted awake.

    Only to discover that the restaurant was nowhere to be seen because I had just woken up in a fucking airport.

    “I - okay.” I dragged a hand down my face. I could feel where I had drooled in my sleep, dead to the world. I scrubbed my mouth on my sleeve and rubbed the crust out of my eyes. The goddess I had been napping on had replaced herself with a giant Charizard body pillow.


    “Hecate. I know we just met you properly and you are helping and I am really grateful for it. Honest.”

    I blearily peered around at the dead looking airport who knows where, hollow faced people all around. I knew saying this out loud was probably a bad idea. I was going to say it anyway.

    “But I am already sick of your shit.”

    Luke snort laughed in the seat next to me as he finished waking up too. He stretched and cracked his back like an old man, still laughing under his breath. It wasn’t a ‘ha ha’ funny laugh. It sounded like he was laughing because if he didn’t, he’d burst into tears.

    “Are you okay?” I asked quietly.

    Luke hunched over, head hanging so low it was almost between his knees. “No.”

    My stomach scrunched uncomfortably.


    That was a stupid question.

    “I failed to get you.” I opened my mouth to reassure him that it wasn’t his fault, but Luke pressed on. “I failed. I walked in, I forgot, I stabbed myself in the eye - “

    I completely forgot what I had been about to say. “You did what?”

    “You know,” he said slowly. “You could still see the moon from those hotel balconies.” I stared at him, not sure what question he was answering. If any. “I was staring at it when I realized something was wrong,” he mused idly. “I couldn’t even remember when or where I’d heard it, but I still remembered what you said. When you made that summoning circle, remember?”

    “Yeah,” I said quietly. With Piper. I had drawn the ritual circle Mom had taught me on the ground so we could Call on the Night relatively safely. Apate answered instead. You know the rest. Luke had said then that the circle hurt his eyes.

    “Grant me clarity,” Luke murmured. “Grant me vision.”

    He looked up. He had one of those rictus grins on. The kind that made you uncomfortable and vaguely sick just looking at it. His shattered eye stared out at the world with a dozen irises and six pupils blown wide open.

    I could see myself reflected in each and every one.

    “Grant me eyes,” he whispered.

    “I didn’t say that last part,” I said a bit sharply. I knew I didn’t. “Getting body parts involved never turns out well.”

    Never ask for what can’t be easily given back.

    My bladder chose that moment to remind me that it did not give a damn about any of our problems.

    “I gotta go to the bathroom!” I blurted out before Luke responded and ran for it.

    I have no idea why airports seem to believe that people are ice cubes who will just melt if the air conditioning isn’t only a few degrees above freezing.

    The airport was one of those chrome and white plastic structures that looked like it had been put together in a body shop for cars by mechanics instead of by an architect that gave a shit. It just felt functional.

    And cold.

    If you were wondering how airports were faring during the Night?

    The answer was no.

    It was still pitch black outside. I don’t know if that meant we didn’t sleep all that long or if it meant the Night was taking her sweet time leaving. The airport we were in was a small two lane regional transportation hub with a single taxi company. The intercom was playing some radio show with commercial breaks for its trapped residents instead of announcing departures.

    No one, customer or staff, looked happy.

    If there is one thing you should know about my ADHD, it's that I am either the most observant dude on the planet or the most oblivious dude on the planet. And sometimes I am both, which is why I ended up wandering the airport instead of getting back to my adventuring party.

    I got distracted.

    I noticed the Gello, a Greek daemon of infertility, stalking a couple (and warned it off), gave my last Snickers bar away to a sneaky Kobaloi, a Greek trickster sprite, gave a desperate, stranded college student some tips on how to pronounce the Greek alphabet in his struggle to order a taxi cab, listened to some radio commercials about Athens over the intercom.

    And then spent ten minutes in front of the vending machine, wondering why I couldn’t recognize half the brands it was offering and why some of it wasn’t in English.

    Maybe that’s not ADHD.

    Maybe I’m just stupid.

    Artemis was woken from her sleep by the travel brochure Luke dropped on her head.

    “We’re in Greece,” he said flatly.

    “What?” The bunny squawked.

    “Yup.” I tossed him a MASTIQUA lemonade in half an apology for slapping him awake again with the brochure. Luke caught the can out of the air. In my defense, I had panicked a bit at waking up in another country a billion miles and an entire ocean away from where we just were.

    So sue me.

    “Crete, to be exact.” You might have heard of this island off the coast of mainland Greece, but if you haven’t, it’s an island off the coast of mainland Greece. “Too bad we’re not near Delphi. I have a great grandmother over there.”

    “So do I,” Artemis muttered.

    That just reminded me.

    The Earth Mother is imprisoned in Delphi.

    So maybe it was a good thing we weren’t near Delphi. Sure, that star-spawn was on ice, but there was no point in tempting Mom.

    “Are you okay?” I asked as casually as I could.

    Luke’s mismatched eyes flickered up at me as he nodded and cracked open his can. I wondered how? Usually, stabbing yourself in the eye was something that had bloody consequences, but instead - then I remembered where he had done it.

    No one could die in the Lotus Hotel and Casino.

    Everyone reverted back to the way they were when they entered, forgetting the outside world. If you got hurt, you would reset from it, like you were living the same day over and over again.

    The time dilation healed his eye.

    But it didn’t come back the same.

    Luke dropped his gaze to his drink. “Why are we here?”

    “At a guess?” I sat back in my own chair, nudging the Charizard pillow until it fell onto the floor. “Someone isn’t interested in letting us change our minds.”

    Luke took a miserable sip of lemonade. “Figures,” he muttered bitterly. “What did the Lady of the Underworld want now?”

    “Uh, what?” I said. Luke stared at me with his mismatched eyes. I stared blankly back until I realized what had happened. In hindsight, Luke would have definitely ridden my ass for sleeping on Hecate’s lap if he knew about it.

    I was telling no one else about that.

    “So we all got knocked out then?”

    “I…can barely recall what happened at all,” Artemis admitted quietly. “The Night came. And then…it is a bit of a blur.” She didn’t even remember speaking up. “Or perhaps a dream.”

    Luke’s hand crept up his face to his shattered eye. “I lasted a bit longer. The Lady split apart. It felt like I just had a red hot poker shoved into my eyeball.”

    Yeah, I could see that. Literally. He had two more eyes opened from when he was in the hotel lobby.

    Luke snatched his hand back. His face went pale. “...she said she would remember us.”

    I’m not sure if it’s the Greek way to be a gloryhound. I understood wanting to make your god parent proud and proving yourself. Everyone at Camp Half-Blood hoped for great deeds and important Quests. That kind of thing worked great when all you had to worry about was your god parent and petty Olympic squabbles.

    At some point, that stops working.

    The Celt way of doing things was a bit different.

    Go unnoticed. If you are noticed, be forgettable. If they won’t forget, be amusing.

    You had a better chance of getting out alive that way.

    “If you were thinking of taking Rabbit up on that job offer to be a mercenary,” I began, trying to joke about it. “It would be a hell of a thing to put on your resume.”

    “What happened afterwards?” Artemis wondered out loud.

    “Hecate,” I said.

    Her rabbit ears stood up for a moment. “She made an appearance.”

    It wasn’t a question.

    “What is sunlight, but that which banishes the darkness?” I quoted with a grimace.

    “Las Vegas. The restaurant. The deal,” Luke said, ticking them off his fingers while still holding his drink can. “It wasn’t a riddle we were meant to solve.”

    “Of course not,” Artemis muttered bitterly. “That is just like her.”

    “She wants a key,” I dove right in.

    “A key?” Luke asked.

    I don’t think we were talking about the kind of key you hang on a keyring next to your front door and garage keys. It could be anything from a spell to a rock. Whatever it was, the fact that Hecate actually went through the effort of godnapping us told me she wanted it.

    Really badly.

    Enough to give up a Name for it.

    “Yeah.” I pointed at the rabbit. “She said you’d know where it was.”

    “A key?” Artemis parroted, huddled on top of my backpack. “I do not - “ Her ears sprung straight up in alarm as her silver eyes got huge. “No,” she whispered. “No, she would not dare.”

    “Uh,” I said. “Hate to break it to you, but obviously - “

    “And it’s not her daring, it’s us,” Luke said and he was right on the money. It wasn’t like Hecate really loses anything if we die trying.

    “I cannot.” Artemis trembled, curling into herself. “You do not know what you are asking of me. I cannot go back - I - we should abandon this - do not make me - I can’t!

    “‘Temis!” I used Persephone’s nickname for her, hoping to snap her out of it.

    “It is folly,” the rabbit hissed at me. “It is impossible to succeed - it - “ The bunny stared up at me with wide terrified eyes as if just seeing me for the first time. “Oh,” she murmured in the flat monotone I heard once before. When she was describing what Adrasteia’s soul tearing presence felt like. “That is her game. She thinks it will not destroy you.”

    That was not what I would call promising.

    “Why don’t I be the judge of that?” I offered. “I’d really like to know what we’re after before we get ourselves killed.”

    “Artemis?” Luke drawled, looking down at her when she failed to answer me. “Mind educating us poor ignorant souls?”

    Her silver eyes shifted in his general direction, but you could tell she wasn’t really seeing us anymore. “And we are in Crete,” she mused to herself. “A doorway into dreaming. Make me reclaim the fragment I left behind. Send us into the broken nightmare for the ruins of gods - how did I wake up?”

    She sounded just as confused as I was.

    “She spoke to you wearing white,” Artemis said as a fact even though she hadn’t seen Hecate at all.

    Hecate had been wearing white. Since the first time I met her on the shore of the Crossroads when Mom lost her temper, the goddess had been in white. It was a pretty insignificant thing, until you remembered that Hecate of the Dark Moon was known for the color black. It was why people thought Cerberus was her pet and got her pseudo-adopted by Nyx. It was even on her Mythomagic card.

    New Moon. Dark Night. Black Dogs.

    …who had I been talking to this entire time?

    Artemis looked up at us.

    Then she ran.

    Luke cursed, almost spilling his drink and falling out of his chair as he tried to catch her. “What the Styx - “ He set his can down and got to his feet after the blitzing bunny. “Artemis!”

    I sat there like a bump on a log.

    A doorway into dreaming. A broken nightmare.

    Artemis, goddess of the Moon, knows where the key is.

    “Oh, Selene has it,” I told no one.

    “Now there’s a Name I haven’t heard in a while,” a man’s voice said and I turned to look.

    A huge Greek basketball player of a dude cleaned his right ear with his pinky finger. He was in a leather jacket over his jersey, rocking the short curly black hair and stubble look as he looked over me with shining blue eyes. The gleam in them reminded me of the Priest of the god at Sea. Like Evangeline. It wasn’t like his bright eyes were lit with their own light, but were reflecting themselves, like shining a flashlight into a hall of mirrors or a carnival funhouse.

    “You make a habit of calling people out, kid?” he asked, flicking ear wax off his finger.

    I stared. “Sorry. Who the hell are you?”

    He gave me this look. “I don’t know what you did to sneak past me - “

    “Uh.” I raised my hand like I was in math class. “Fell asleep in Las Vegas?”

    “But it wasn’t good enough,” he said with raised eyebrows.

    I raised my eyebrows right back because that was the gospel truth. None of this was my fault! It was not like I asked Hecate to dump us here.

    “Great,” the unknown god (?) sighed. “Another little shit.” I scowled. “Travel to the Old World is forbidden by order of the King of Olympus,” he drawled in a bored voice. “Because I am such a nice guy - “

    Get a load of this random asshole.

    “I’ll give you the chance to convince me to not punt you and your out of bounds friends back to America.”

    I blurted out the first excuse that came to mind. “Not an Olympic demigod.”

    “Uh huh,” Random Ass said skeptically. “You feel like a Greek hero to me.”

    That was strangely comforting? I had just fully accepted that I wasn’t completely Greek, only to be told that whatever else I was, I was still a son of Ananke at the end of the day. It was what gave me the confidence to raise my hand again, but this time when I lowered it, I dragged my sunglasses down with it.

    I stared at him with my mother’s eyes. His ghost looked bewildered, turning around with a silent ‘huh?’ before getting obliterated. Around me, the airport fell apart. “Perseus of the Bloody Tongue. You are honored to make my acquaintance.”

    Don’t ask me why I took to using that one of all Mom’s titles to introduce myself with.

    Just felt right.

    “Feel free to tell my mother I’m not allowed to be in Greece.” I smiled nastily as my belly button quivered. “I dare you.”

    Random Ass nodded slowly. “...I’ll pass on that, thanks.”

    I thought so.

    “Uh huh,” I said as I snapped my sunglasses back up, because I am a huge little shit, thank you very much. “And who the fuck are you, again?”

    It turned out the random asshole was Herakles.

    Who was surprisingly a lot less of an asshole when off the clock.

    “Autograph,” I ordered as I slapped one of my notebooks and a pen down in front of Greek Mythology’s greatest hero. “Not for me,” I clarified when Luke’s arguably most famous uncle’s eyebrows bounced. “For some friends. You know Camp Half-Blood, right?”

    “Chiron still running the place?” Herakles looked bemused as he grabbed my pen from the table.

    “You went?”

    “For a bit,” he shrugged, then he rolled his eyes. “You’d think I was born and then disappeared off the face of the earth for over a decade the way history goes on about it.”

    There was no good way to tell someone that the stupid way they ascended was the only reason I knew who they were at all.

    On a good day, your second wife being dumb enough to accept a gift from a dying enemy you just beat up was terrible. He didn’t suspect a thing because the whole ‘what kind of dumbass gives me a gift from my dying enemy’ bit and then had the worst allergic reaction to hydra venom treated fabric known to man.

    Take it from me, burning to death hurts less.

    I shrugged. “No drama is boring.”

    His lips thinned. “Glad I could entertain.” I gave him the side eye for that one and the god of Heroes sighed. “I don’t mean you or your mother, just - “ He waved the pen with a frustrated air.

    “I get it,” I said. “Olympus wasn’t worth it.”

    He looked down at the notebook and started scribbling. “It was for a time,” he said, almost under his breath.

    I snapped my fingers.

    That’s right.

    “Speaking of, got any opinion on your dad getting the throne again?” I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do about the Zeus problem, but I was one hundred percent sure that I was kicking him off the throne the first chance I got.

    Herakles looked at me like I sprouted another head. “My father is already on the throne.”

    “Duh,” I said. “I mean your other divine dad.”

    It should surprise no one that Zeus did just short of bupkis for Herakles considering he forced his ‘favorite’ daughter Artemis on this Quest as a rabbit. Maybe the fact that the Patron of Heroes gave a teeny, tiny molecule of a shit about the greatest hero of Greek history is a surprise considering her everything, but I would take what I could get.

    As far as I was concerned, Zeus could go fuck himself six ways to Sunday.

    I’m not a big believer in ‘you can’t choose family.’

    That didn’t even make sense.

    My family was multiple choice depending on the myth. Assuming strong loving bonds of kinship with people would probably just get me killed horribly. Mom kept me from most of my cousins for a reason. Maybe you can’t help who you are related to, but blood didn’t make anyone family.

    The Fates had made it very clear that I was not their brother.

    Herakles as a hero inherited from the Names of Zeus, but Herakles as a god had a suspicious number of Names more closely associated with his eldest sister.

    “My other - “ Herakles stopped himself and then beamed. “Kid.” He waved me to lean in closer. “I will give you my shield if you call Athena that to her face.”


    “Deal.” We shook on it. His hand completely dwarfed mine. I basically shook hands with his thumb and two fingers.

    “What’d I miss?” Luke asked from behind me.

    “Uh,” I said as I turned around.

    I knew I was forgetting something.

    I wasn’t an Olympic demigod, but Luke sure as hell was.

    “Not much?” I said, mind racing. He had a very miserable, wet bunny wrapped up in his vest like a rodent burrito. His entire right side was soaked, which was odd because I didn’t see a single fountain when I wandered the place. I thought about asking what the hell had happened, and decided against it. “This is Herakles.” Luke’s eyes went huge. “Um, Herakles, this is Luke. He’s not an Olympic demigod either? He’s, uh.”

    My mind went blank on how I was going to stop him getting tossed back to America and leaving me alone in Crete.


    “Blood of Selene,” Herakles said, looking mildly concerned as he looked Luke over.

    I blinked.

    “Right. Blood of Selene. Exactly.”

    Gotta admit. I was definitely expecting him to call my bluff there.

    “You, uh, so you weren’t born like that, right?” The god asked, tapping his own cheek under his reflective right eye.

    Luke flushed red and then paled. He swallowed hard, looking like he wanted to vomit. He smiled weakly. “Would you believe it looks like this because I tried to gouge it out?”

    “Yes, actually,” the former demigod said with clear sympathy. “I’ve got crap luck in great grandmothers.” Like that made any sense whatsoever. “Who the Styx is sending Blood after the moon’s crap?”

    You could hear the capital B. Herakles was a bit old fashioned. Nowadays, we just call them clear-sighted.

    “Hecate,” I said.

    “The Mormones,” Artemis rasped from her burrito.


    “The fearful ones?” Luke translated, raising his blond eyebrows. “I am…fairly certain those are - “

    “What we call the goddess of the Crossroads,” Artemis said quietly. “When we do not know who exactly it is.”

    It felt like a pothole just formed in my stomach.

    Artemis did know what Hecate was. That just reinforced my suspicion that maybe I had never actually met Hecate at all. Like Young Gods, Old Gods still needed to receive or Take Names for themselves.

    And like the Elder Gods, the Old God was always there.

    “And above my pay grade,” Herakles conceded with a nod and a low whistle. “Also, Artemis?”

    The rabbit raised a wet paw weakly. “Brother.”

    The god of Heroes stared for a moment.

    Then he threw back his head and laughed.

    Luke’s most famous uncle had one of those booming guffaws that came right from the gut, so loud I was sure the whole airport could hear him. It was jolly and infectious. I could see Luke starting to grin as Artemis grumbled wordlessly. Her half-brother had a good chuckle at her expense, holding his stomach like it was about to burst and slapping his knee.

    “What’d you do?” He wheezed.

    Like, it wasn’t even a question of if she had screwed over someone recently, just how.

    The rabbit stubbornly kept quiet.

    “Tried to kill me,” I volunteered. “Mom wasn’t a big fan of that.”

    Herakles choked and had to turn away from us, coughing into his leather jacket by the crook of his arm at that.

    Artemis muttered something to the effect of ‘it was ill advised’ in Olympic Greek, prompting her brother to snort back a ‘no shit.’

    After he collected himself, he looked up over again. His blue eyes lit up with electricity, shining like he had turned the lights on behind the curtain for a second. He shrugged one of his shoulders. “You lot hungry?”

    Luke and I shared a look.

    “The rabbit too, my lord?” Luke asked cautiously, remembering Khione and Persephone.

    “And draw Nemesis’ attention?” Herakles shrugged again carelessly. “I have no interest in making things harder for you than it needs to be.” He frowned. “And you aren’t working for Hera. Any demigod taking marching orders from that bitch deserves everything they get.”

    That’s fair.

    She made Herakles’ life hell for the crime of being her husband’s bastard. I’m talking ‘dead family members and friends’ being her fault kind of shit. Throw in everything she did to end Athena’s reign and while, yeah, a random demigod maybe couldn’t tell the Queen of Olympus ‘no’ to her face, exactly, but, dude has a point?

    “I’ll even throw in a free ride to your next stop after, how about it?”

    Luke looked a bit star struck. “Thank you, lord Herakles.”

    “I’ve been there, kid.” He finished his signature for Camp Half-Blood with a flourish and handed me back my pen and the notebook. “And don’t call me ‘lord,’ I’ll get a rash.”

    “How’s Herc?” I asked. Short for Hercules, the Roman Name.

    There was a flicker of Not-Movement that I could and couldn’t see at the same time, like the god had moved in my peripheral vision even though he was right in front of me. Outwardly, nothing seemed to change. Maybe his face was a little bit sharper or his curly black hair a bit less shaggy?

    He didn’t, like, graft anyone. He was just that popular and was Given the Name. Even Christianity liked him and come on, how many gods could say that?

    Mom sure as hell couldn’t.

    “That works - “ The god of Bravery abruptly turned back towards me. “Wait just a damn minute. How the hell are you a Celt?”

    Oh right.

    The Roman Name.


    Short answer: It’s complicated.

    Long answer: It’s complicated and please don’t tell Epona we’re here.

    We found our way to the airport’s tiny food court. There were only a few people there, all looking exhausted. Herc had dragged some of the tables together, instructing us to take a load off. Luke changed his shirt while I toweled Artemis as best as I could with table napkins. I also deflated the Charizard pillow and stuffed it into my Bag of Holding. Sure, I was still kind of pissed at Not-Hecate for it, but also, waste not, want not!

    Hercules came back with bags of food to Luke brushing the rabbit.

    Artemis was never going to live it down.

    “The Blood still go to Camp, right?” Hercules said tiredly as he sat heavily. He poked Luke’s bicep and shoulder skeptically, like his own eight foot whatever brick shithouse build was the norm.

    Poke. Poke.

    Still? Huh, I guess that made sense. It gathered them all in one place, following Olympus’ orders. If you inherited enough from Selene to see the truth of the world and all its monsters, wouldn’t you want to learn how to fight back?

    Chances are you had enough godly blood to pull some tricks too.

    Then Selene died.

    I suppose things kind of unraveled after that.

    “What has Chiron been feeding you?” Hercules demanded. Poke. Poke. “Grass?”

    Luke stared at his uncle, dumbfounded.

    The god of Heroes was a mother hen.

    The two joined tables in front of us were covered in platters of gyros, cartons of Greek salad of cucumbers, olives, feta cheese, lettuce and flatbread strips and a few plastic bowls of a beef stew from a small mom and pop restaurant the god swore by. I could taste why. It reminded me a lot of Nana’s cooking, with just a bit of a vinegary bite to the meat, but savory with smooth creamy sauces and high quality olive oil.

    “So you’re the poor bastards charged with returning my father’s Bolt, you had to take the Mare’s eye because you’re the Morrigan’s foster-son,” Hercules summed up at the end of my long and somewhat rambling explanation. He casually tossed an olive on top of the small pile of spiced lamb and onions on Luke’s styrofoam platter. “Bad luck that.”

    “That’s why I was even at Camp,” I said. “Cross-pantheon upbringing not allowed, apparently?”

    It was nothing personal, but I wasn’t going to out Mom’s aliases if I didn’t have to. Until I was sure outing her wasn’t going to drop me into a huge pile of shit, I was keeping mum.

    “Remind me to tell you the story of the Hindu demigod with fifteen parents sometime.” Herc grimaced.

    “How’d you even know?” I asked. “You said I felt Greek.”

    “Experience. And paying attention to the right pantheon.” Hercules stabbed a thumb at himself. “You think I can’t identify heroes when I’m near one?”

    That’s fair.

    “I would really appreciate it if you didn’t let the Mare know about us?” I tried out a winning smile.

    “Peace.” Herc held up a hand. “She won’t hear it from me. I always found that an annoying practice, getting others to do your dirty work.”

    I sighed in relief. “Thanks.”

    “She’s a bit of a bitch anyway.” He waved it off.

    That was an understatement.

    I turned back to my food, shooting Herc a quick prayer about Jason Grace. The god startled in his seat, reflective eyes swinging over to me, before he rolled them skywards, pinching the bridge of his nose. You could almost hear him cursing Jupiter out inside his head.

    I feel that.

    “You’re not leaving until you finish that,” the god ordered Luke. “You too, midget.”

    “Oy,” I grunted as I speared a roasted tomato on my plastic fork. “Literally twelve, give me a break.”

    The god’s eyes lit up again. “So you’re actually a demigod.”

    “Yup,” I popped the ‘p.’ “What’d you think I was?”

    “Dunno.” Herc passed me a vanilla milkshake. “You register as a mortal hero, but you sting.” He tilted his head. “What the hell have they been feeding you?”

    “A well rounded diet,” I said.

    “Of what?”

    “Pizza and Dairy Queen.”

    Artemis was complaining loudly from underneath Herc’s baseball cap as he dragged the bunny back and forth across the table, tumbling the rabbit ears over her tail.

    “I think I am being quite reasonable,” Herc said loudly over her whining. “I remember a completely undeserved arrow to the ass - “ He raised his voice over her protests. “When I was trying to apologize to a certain someone and return her sword - “

    “She could have still had it, but you threw it away!” The rabbit finally managed to stick her head out from under the fabric and bit out. “Tossed it over the horizon!”

    “Lost my temper,” Herc admitted when I raised my eyebrows at him. “My sister’s usual charming self isn’t, she was still shooting at me and being peppered with arrows still pisses me off.”

    “Understandable,” I nodded. Really, you can’t blame a guy for that, can you? I’d be pissed too. “Please direct your complaints to Luke Castellan - “

    “What!” Artemis cried out before Herc sent her tumbling again.

    “Our resident bunny manager.”

    Luke’s lips twitched. “I’ll set up a P.O Box,” he promised his amused looking uncle. “First come, first serve.”

    “I wouldn’t if I were you,” Herc said dryly as he freed the rabbit when she threatened to vomit into his hat. “Do you know just how much mail you’ll get?”

    I think he has a good idea.

    Luke had a mean smirk as he loomed over the disgruntled rabbit. “Job security.”

    I laughed.

    We got through lunch/dinner/whatever pretty quickly. Maybe ten, fifteen minutes tops to down enough food for six people. It was almost like we hadn’t eaten for four days or something.

    Well, fine, I ate, but come on. I’m a growing boy.

    Herc watched Luke mop up the last of his gyros like a hawk while I munched through the remnants of the flatbread soaked in the beef stew broth. “Where are you headed?”

    Luke and I looked at the rabbit miserably eating blueberries on the table.

    She stopped chewing.

    Her eyes closed.

    She said nothing.

    “Artemis.” Luke reached out and gently cuffed her upside the head. It was almost affectionate. “We have to.”

    She shuddered.

    “I have to,” she agreed quietly, opening her eyes. If a bunny rabbit could look like they were about to march to gallows, that was her. Ears down, eyes wet and little nose twitching sadly somehow.

    I didn’t understand what the problem was. “Selene’s dead,” I said. “So it can’t be that bad?”

    Hercules’ smiled sadly. “So we hope.”

    Rhea hadn’t been too sure if Selene had actually bitten it or not. Luke had been staring at the moon in the Lotus Hotel. Something made him stab himself in the eye.

    ‘What is death?’ The Sun Voice had asked me in Houston. ‘But the sleep of the gods?’

    Artemis bobbed her little head. “It is in her realm,” she murmured. “But the key we seek belongs to your step-father.”

    My brain stalled. My step-father.



    It really wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was so much worse. I met Luke’s eyes. He looked grim and gave me an equally grim nod.

    I held up a finger.

    “Son of a bitch.”

    Spinalonga, Greece.

    The small island off the northeast coast of Crete looked like a pimple on the water on the Gulf of Elounda. All I could really see of it was a vague rounded silhouette in the distance. Maybe what could have been a wall? A cool breeze was blowing in from the ocean, cooling off the warm humidity of the Grecian summer. All around us was a sandy beach, gentle sloping hills covered in sweet smelling grass and the occasional shrubbery. Our rabbit was trembling, teeth chattering with tears welling up in her eyes as she stared out over the water.

    “This is it,” Hercules said somberly, also looking out.

    Luke’s brows were furrowed so hard, creases covered his whole forehead. He had his normal eye closed, peering around with his shattered one as he twisted Khione’s ring around his finger.

    “Why is - “ Luke swallowed thickly. “The wind is weird here.”

    “I think I know what you’re feeling.” Herc glanced over. The light of Rhea’s torch twisted into Luke’s backpack strap glanced off his eyes in all directions. Then he looked down at the rabbit who was still staring over the water, like we weren’t here. “But it’s not the wind.”

    I didn’t feel anything.

    I felt a strange kind of numb, like I was feeling too many feelings and just couldn’t sort any of them out to actually tell what was going on. The other shoe had finally dropped. I couldn’t help thinking about the what ifs, like if I had just left Artemis to Nemesis right from the beginning instead of trying to go against my mother. I didn’t have it in me to feel bad about wondering. I was still going to try. We’d come this far after all and we didn’t really have the time to try anything else. Maybe I should have panicked.

    Or gone hysterical.

    It was like I had just blown past freaking out all the way around to calm. Stealing from Ares was whatever. Stealing from the Lotus Eater was concerning.

    I had no words for what stealing from Time was.

    Terrifying didn’t cut it.

    I didn’t feel that, though. It was more like a detached: ‘Welp.’

    In order to get Artemis a Name, we had to steal Chronos’ key for Hecate.

    This rabbit was going to owe me free lunches for the rest of my life.

    “You know,” Hercules spoke up. “You can take on more than one Quest at a time. I know that from personal experience.” He crossed his arms, scratching at the scar on his chin when we looked at him. “And the interference clauses for a Quest are counted separately.”

    That was a bit familiar. I know Artemis had said that instances of interference in a Quest were counted for each god separately. I wasn’t sure how that was important right now, but by the sudden, sharp look in Luke’s eyes, he had some idea.

    “An errand for the Mormones is unrelated to our search for the Bolt,” he said casually.

    And that was…

    Technically true?

    Our mission was getting Zeus’ sparkler back, not undoing Mom’s punishment. The latter would (hopefully) help with the former, but the latter was something I…

    Something I chose to do.

    ‘You needed a thief,’ Mom had said. Hermes, god of Thieves, had been one of the cards of my Prophecy, drawn weeks before Artemis ever came to Camp in the first place.

    She always told me that I chose my own destiny.

    And instead, I came around in a full circle, doing what I foretold myself doing.

    I felt cold.

    “ - gerous for you especially,” Herc was telling Luke with a frown. “Exposing Blood to too much, too fast is never a good idea. I would join you - “ His jaw clenched. His neck muscles stood out sharply as a collar of gold light briefly flashed around his throat. “But I’m a bit stuck,” he drawled acidly. “Call it house arrest.”

    Luke looked horrified.

    I wasn’t much better.

    Artemis flinched on the beach. “You do not want to join us.”

    “Hell, of course I don’t want to,” her brother spat back. “But I want leaving them to this crap even less.” He shook his head and tugged at his basketball jersey. “Look, if you can call in any big favors, any Debts, if you can get anyone who would laugh about following you into Tartarós, now is the time.”

    A dull pain in my chest broke through the numbness.

    A few years ago, that would have been Eva, but now, there was a different Name that I had in mind.

    I took a deep breath. The ocean air was salty. The breeze ruffled my hair and tugged at my jeans.

    “Thanks, Herc,” I said quietly.

    The Greco-Roman god had sad eyes. “No problem, kid.”

    He shoved his hands into his jacket’s pockets, turning around like he was just going to walk back up the grassy hill and was gone.

    “Artemis?” Luke said softly.

    The rabbit hiccuped, but didn’t respond.

    He looked at me with a grimace. “I don’t think it’s just the theft that’s bothering her,” he murmured. I was getting that feeling too. Artemis had kind of accepted dying, but it was like we were back at square one (or maybe square negative two). She was paralyzed with fear. “Are you thinking what I am thinking?”

    Luke held up his hand, showcasing the cold silver ring on his finger.

    “Yup,” I said.

    There was a cool breeze blowing in from the water.

    “I told Hypnos,” I mumbled, shuffling my feet a bit. “He went to get Clovis and Annabeth and the others…”

    Luke’s face had tensed, then softened. The pupils in his shattered eye narrowed. He let out a long sigh. “Good,” he murmured. “That’s good.”


    Knowledge was dangerous.

    Both you and I know that.

    Luke shook his head and started walking. I followed Luke further down the beach, trying to think positive. I was reasonably sure Chronos and Mom were still on good terms, so maybe Not-Hecate was right, and I’d be able to get away with it by looking cute. What were the odds he was anything like Tartarus? He was Erebus’ dad and my brother cared about me.

    And I knew the Dreamlands, right?

    Sure, maybe not Selene’s corner of it, but it couldn’t be that - nope, I am not going to jinx myself here!

    With a final glance back towards the rabbit, Luke cleared his throat as he came to a stop. “Khione Thrêikion.”

    The wind blew hard enough to force me to blink. In that one moment, the rock just to the left of us became occupied with the Greek goddess of Ice and Snow. She looked like how I saw her last with the white cowboy hat and light blue poncho, but with her black hair in a single braid.

    There was a long moment of silence where we just stood there as she stared back from her perch.

    “You are still alive.” Her voice was icy as she looked over us with frozen eyes, snowflakes turning and twisting in entrancing patterns. Her gaze flicked down along the beach. “All of you.”

    Luke smiled mockingly. “I apologize for the disappointment.”

    I elbowed him in the gut.

    What was his problem?

    “Have you ever been in the Dreamlands?” I laid it out there. I wasn’t aiming to trick her into anything.

    “No, I have not,” she said slowly as the discordant symphony in her eyes began to play. “I know of no one on Olympus that would dare.” She looked past us out at the water and towards the silent shadow of the island, then back down the beach where a rabbit sat. “...this is not about the Bolt.”

    “Not directly,” I admitted. ‘It’s a personal favor.”

    “A personal favor,” she repeated neutrally. Her gaze darted around again, putting the pieces together. She had who knows how many college degrees. She was smart enough to figure it out without us saying anything. Khione went as still as a statue. I was afraid she was going to just disappear, not even bothering to tell me to fuck off, when her lips curled into a bitterly cold smile,

    “For Artemis?”

    I sighed. “Yes.”

    “I told you I would help you in her place,” Khione cajoled. “You still have over a day left. I am…” She raised an eyebrow for a second. “Unsure how you ended up in Crete, but I can - “

    “Khione.” I stepped forward and beat down my pride.

    Then I bowed to her.

    I bent right at the waist, all the way until I was staring at the ground. I gritted my teeth as the memory of the last and only time I ever bowed to a god like this tried to surge to the front. I heard Khione’s breath hitch.

    She offered to help us get to Houston, but Artemis’ everything had burnt that down to the ground. This was a second chance.

    If she wanted it.

    “I would owe you,” I choked out. “Help me. Please.”

    I was putting a lot of faith in the Boreide. Debts were dangerous and this was going to be a huge one. I felt sick to my stomach. I didn’t even know how to calculate just how much this was going to cost me.

    It was weird.

    We were going to steal from Mom’s baby daddy and I didn’t feel much of anything. The thought that Khione was going to prove herself to be so very Greek in the end made the tips of fingers go numb.

    At first I thought it was just the breeze pulling at my hair, but then the tug on my scalp sharpened to something almost painful that caused me to look up. Khione was kneeling in front of me, a lock of my hair around her finger as she searched my face. I bit the inside of my cheek until I tasted blood to pull my attention away from her eyes.

    “I will hold you to this,” she said quietly, warning me. I didn't see malice or greed in her gaze, just the discordant, haunting melody.

    I risked a smile as a hopeful warmth welled up in my chest. “Of course you will.”

    Her expression didn’t warm so much as it got less cold. She scoffed as she let my hair go. “Heroes.”

    “That isn’t an insult,” Luke said dryly.

    “Oh, yes it is.”

    “No, it isn’t.”

    “You will also owe me for this, Luke.”

    “What?” He yelped under her sharp look, daring him to disagree with her. He dared. “I don’t remember agreeing to that.”

    I knew I was grinning stupidly. I couldn’t help it.

    I…think I really like Khione.

    She patted me on the shoulder as she stood up, absently sweeping sand off her pants. “I have been told the Dreamlands are filled with horrors that could kill gods, similar to what lies beyond the Edge in the lands beyond us. Is that true?”

    “Nope,” I said, straightening, still smiling. “It’s worse.”

    She rolled her pretty eyes. “Lovely.” She looked between me and Luke’s judgy frown, his arms crossed. “How is this done then?”

    The answer to that was by taking a nap.

    There was a ferry that was used to take tourists to the island of Spinalonga, but our way in was a long collapsed tunnel called ‘Dante’s Gate.’ It had been built out of the same pale crumbling beige brick common to old Greek architecture, a flat top triangle tunnel leading from a small hill on the beach down into darkness. The island itself was some kind of fortress city or town. It had been occupied by a bunch of people throughout history, but now it was a ghost town, completely abandoned and empty.

    “It used to be a leper colony,” Artemis said absently as we hunkered down just inside the tunnel entrance. Rhea’s torch was put in the middle as we circled around it. “The sick would walk beneath the stone and the waves in darkness, unaware of what lay on the other side, but still hoping.”

    “Naturally,” Khione said neutrally. “Anything would be better than squatting in caves at the edges of civilization.”

    “...some cures are worse than the disease,” the rabbit whispered.

    The ice goddess frowned, but didn’t reply to that.

    “Last chance,” Artemis said. Her silver eyes shone in the dark.

    No one backed out.

    We had all just slept. Normally that would be a problem, but Khione had waved it off as an easily inflicted symptom of hypothermia. True enough, I had just barely set my head down on a patch of grass before suddenly feeling exhausted, like my muscles should be burning from running a hundred miles.

    I closed my eyes.

    I opened them in a field of pale flowers, a sky dotted with strange stars and dominated by a massive, full moon. Diana looked down at us as her giant form loomed, the bloody teeth of her flayed chest cavity fluttering open and then closed. Her exposed spine of pitted and warped vertebrae bent as she leaned closer. The mask of her left side turned towards the moon. There was another creature far down the beach. Long spindly gnarled legs planted in the ground like stilts, but it was holding a bulbous, sickly gray body with long mandibles and gossamer thin feelers drifting beneath it. The twisting eyestalks swiveled in my direction. Its presence washed over me.


    Corey had gotten its attention once.

    I inclined my head. “Tsukuyomi.”

    The attention slipped away.

    Khione was luminescent, as if she was lit from within. Physically flawless save for a bored hole that went straight through the middle of her sternum, exposing a gnarled, wooden knot that thumped like a heart and creeping vines burrowing under her skin. Luke stared up at the moon, eyes shining.

    The human half of Diana silently raised her arm, pointing out over the water.

    A hazy city of tall gothic spires and steeples shone on the lone island both too close and infinitely far away.

    The statuesque figures of more warped creatures, moon deities, rose up from the waters and disappeared into the hazy clouds, surrounding the island like guards watching a prison. The tunnel of Dante’s Gate was pristine and smoothly carved as if it had been built just yesterday, leading into darkness towards the city. And waiting beside it, curled up on a patch of grass was an orange tabby cat with a crook in his tail. I couldn't breathe. I felt like if I did, I would break into a million pieces. That couldn't be my pet cat. He couldn't be here.

    “Sam?” I whispered.

    The cat’s ears twitched.

    Hypnos said he would help me. He knew about the key we were looking for.

    Sam would laugh at following me into Tartarós.

    He followed me to the moon.

    The small auburn bunny rabbit hopped forward, out from under Diana's shadow. Her sigh then sounded like terror, it sounded like despair and it sounded, bizarrely, like relief. Like coming back home after a storm and finding everything just like you left it.

    "Some nightmares never end," Artemis murmured.

    Distant bells rang.
  13. Speedshot

    Speedshot Getting sticky.

    Sep 6, 2022
    Likes Received:
    I’m a little too sleep deprive to comprehend symbolism, but the meat and potatoes of this chapter was rock fucking solid. Thx for the update.
  14. ArcanaVitae

    ArcanaVitae Not too sore, are you?

    Aug 12, 2021
    Likes Received:
    Well here's a snippet of Percy's messed up childhood. I get the feeling events like this weren’t uncommon given that Percy has gotten used to the "What did we learn?" phrase, which is so messed up. Also Percy was surprised he got a week off of training after something as traumatic as that so, so even the standard training is rough.

    Welp yeah Hypnos is a good dad who's concerned for his kid.

    Percy starting to understand maybe his childhood wasn't okay, but he's still in massive denial. Fate is pretty okay with Percy being exposed to danger even for an Eldritch entity parent who loves him.

    Looks like Percy's diet has changed his Dream form and made him bigger, which has implications galore.

    Welp shit there's no going back for Luke now is there? I mean there already wasn't but now his eyes are open and he can See. Also looks like the classic phrase is here.

    Percy is very scary and now has free access to his hunger. Everyone with even a drop of sense should be very afraid.

    It takes a real big sister to be the best dad.

    Percy just made Herakles's day with this.

    Smart man knowing when something is above what he's "paid" to do. Also dude deserves a laugh.

    Herakles is such a bro.

    He sees that Percy and Fate look at pantheons as suggestions then.

    Greek and Roman versions are pretty similar and in tune with each other. Probably since the Roman Name is all natural instead of grafted.

    Welp looks like even the expert on heroes has no clue WTF Percy's deal is, which is par for the corse.

    I'm so happy he tried to make amends with Zoe. Sure it crashed and burned but he tired.

    Welp shit.

    Yeah Elder Gods don't go down easy and even if they're "dead" they're never truly gone.

    Percy's senses are weird, previously it's mentioned that foreign magic stuff felt cold but to Percy it was warm. I think this is a similar case.

    Yeah Percy gets how insane what he's doing is and still decides to do it anyway.

    Hercules is a pretty clever fellow, and damn good at rules lawyering. Makes sense since he kinda had to when he was a relatively squishy demigod.

    What a great dude, he doesn't want to be involved with this mess but he wants kids involved even less and he would help but he isn't free.

    I'm happy Percy gave Luke this bit of peace of mind, dude really needs it.

    Dreamlands is very scary and Percy is very scary in there.

    The best cat has arrived to save the day, everything is a little less horrible.
    Ku4kin, GuestLurker and JoTa34 like this.
  15. Kalstorm22

    Kalstorm22 I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Oct 12, 2019
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    Great chapter!
    ArcanaVitae likes this.
  16. NounNoun

    NounNoun Gather, Purify, Condense, Repeat

    Jul 26, 2022
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    I am really seeing some good chemistry and symbolism with luke and artemis here
    ArcanaVitae likes this.
  17. Aspider{88w88}

    Aspider{88w88} Getting some practice in, huh?

    May 7, 2022
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    Damn I love this work. It is absolutely astounding at every turn. Percy will realize his fucked up childhood one day. Not today, maybe not even some day soo.

    But one day.

    And so, our intrepid heroes (plus one Rabbit and an Ice Queen) trek onward into the dark! Will they succeed in this mad quest? Can things possibly get crazier!? Find out next time in An Undertow of Sand!
  18. NounNoun

    NounNoun Gather, Purify, Condense, Repeat

    Jul 26, 2022
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    what's fucked up about it? he has a mother who helps him learn from his mistakes and keeps him from any terrible consequences when he screws up

    speaking of which, this book is excellent. beyond great. at least thirty orders of magnitude better than the final book of trials of apollo(kid in a wheelchair fighting and winning against undead 8-foot-tall superhumans in cqc, miss me with that shit)
    Shujin and ArcanaVitae like this.
  19. Aaron_04

    Aaron_04 Making the rounds.

    Apr 7, 2022
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    I am outstanded, by how incredibly good this is. I have no words, I just love it
    Shujin and ArcanaVitae like this.
  20. Shujin

    Shujin Know what you're doing yet?

    Jul 27, 2021
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    Honestly, it's hard for me to put into words what's wrong with his childhood. I mean, yes, obviously the whole 'putting him in danger' thing would not be great for a human child, but Percy is not human and neither is his mother. A human mom letting her small child put their hand on a hot stove would be a bad mom as the kid could do serious damage to themselves, even if the kid won't really internalize 'don't do that' until they eventually do burn themselves. But if the Morrigan lets Percy put his hand on a hot stove because she knows he will pull back his hand immediately with superficial burns that will heal in seconds and she won't have to waste time telling him not to, is it the same thing?

    She definitely made mistakes, such as when she left, and is not even remotely close to a beacon of morality, but she had plans for getting him through this safely and was prepared to let him blow the whole thing off and taught him a lot...so for me personally, there is the whole 'this is not okay' feel to the entire thing, but at the same time, she's still miles better than the canon god parents? And if canon can unironically portray Poseidon as a good god parent despite the whole 'kid in danger' thing while doing so much less for Percy, doesn't that make her a good parent too?
    I mentally checked out during ToA. When was this?
    Thank you!
  21. ArcanaVitae

    ArcanaVitae Not too sore, are you?

    Aug 12, 2021
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    True when thinking of Percy's early childhood I'm guilty of forgetting he was a lot less human back then, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say Percy was a lot more monstrous and divine in his mindset when he was younger. Fate isn't human either, she love her son but she doesn't really know how to raise him, which to be fair Percy is pretty unique in how he straddles the lines between mortality, monstrosity and divinity. It feels like Fate's primary concern is to direct Percy's growth in the way she wants it to go. But she does genuinely love and care for Percy as more than a tool to gain her freedom, but at the same time she's till shaping him for the role she wants him to play.
  22. Shujin

    Shujin Know what you're doing yet?

    Jul 27, 2021
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    Yeah, think it's a dissonance thing. Percy in the story acts and feels like a normal 12 year old with a decent morality most of the time, but his childhood was definitely tailored more towards raising a godling of Nyarly. And it turns out, he's neither.
    StealthGorgon1 and ArcanaVitae like this.
  23. Mr. Citizen

    Mr. Citizen Just your average denizen

    Oct 16, 2020
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    I donno man. I feel like eldritch horror should be in the NSFW section on principle.