3: The Final Trial Begins
"And here we are after the twelfth anniversary since the mass kidnapper of one-month old babies had ended. And we announce that a new lead has been found, where a massive victims of a deadly animal mauling has been found across the New York State area. All of these victims appear to be a number of the abducted children."
"However, none of the others have been found, and many mothers are grieving over their children, the oldest being seventeen and the youngest now twelve years of age. The last known victim was Perseus 'Percy' Jackson, who was abducted on the 13th of September 1993. His mother was also the only surviving mother of all of the victims, but still left the police with nothing so it was rendered a cold case until now."
"So if anyone has any information regarding the still missing children, please report straight to the FBI or your local police force. All names of the abducted and their mothers is on our website."
The Demon Rites
Percy was having the time of his life.
Okay, he wasn't. He was petrified. The only thing around that had surrounded them was actually darkness and a weak glow from some lighters. The only sound was the constant DRIP! DRIP sound coming from around them. The air was bitter, biting into their exposed flesh. Nobody was well-prepared for this situation, meaning one thing: they had little time before frost bite would kick in and they would start dropping.
And if you thought that there was no way for the situation to get any worse – well, it could. They had no bloody clue where to go! The demons were pushing the limits of everyone, because they were unsure why they got something so evil. This was probably going to be even harder than eliminating the Hunters of Artemis along with the goddess herself would be.
Survival instincts kicking in, Percy picked up a small, but sharp stone. He smashed it against a rather large, jagged stalemate reaching up to the ceiling of the cavern from the ground. After five long minutes, it came loose.
"We need to make a weapon. It will defend us against the threats in this place!" A sixteen-year-old yelled out after seeing what Percy was doing.
Many of the candidates for the Trials of Enoch found jagged scraps of rock on the ground around them, and began crafted spearheads, short swords and hatchets out of the rock.
It had taken Percy a long time, but the stalemate was soon crafted into a five-foot long sword, it was sharp and would be effective, but it wouldn't be right. The weight was completely off, and the sword was obviously too large for the young boy; but it was a weapon, and it would have to make do.
He slowly stood up, his eyes still adjusting to the total darkness they were in. A drip drop sound came from all around them, confirming suspicions that they were underground – a cave or cavern to be specific. Many of the candidates were walking around, trying to think of the right way out of the place. Percy decided to join them.
"Ah!" Some girl screamed in surprise. Percy looked in the direction of the cry, and saw a gaping hole where she possibly once stood. Everyone ran over to try and help her, but when they got there, all that stared up at them was not one, but thousands of pairs of beady, bright red eyes. And one pair of white eyes full of fear.
"Help..." She whimpered, before her screams tore through the air as the endless sea of unknown creatures leapt on top of her. There was only one sound when she was bombarded, and that was the tearing of flesh once her cries of agony slowly died down as she was eaten alive by the creatures.
Percy kept his eyes peeled on the scene, not daring to look away. This was the first way out they had spotted in the entire time they had been in the Ninth Circle. And something told him that it was the only way out. So, Percy inched closer to the gap.
"Jackson!" One of the candidates hissed, "What do you think you're doing?!"
"This is the only way out of here so far. There's a water source under us, so that if we cut through those monsters and get there, we would have a supply of water. All we would need is food." Percy stated, as if it was common knowledge. He had no idea, but a tugging sensation in his gut and a voice in his head were telling him that water was nearby, and exactly where it was. He could even hear the sound of water lapping against a shore.
"Oh, right, and we all die from whatever those things were that ate Ali alive!" The same candidate as before stated. A name rung through Percy's head: Royce.
"No. By the sound of them, they're most likely weak against groups of people. They'll only pick off strays." Percy turned to Royce.
"There's most likely enough down there to kill us all five times over! It's completely suicide!"
"These Trials of Enoch are bloody suicide!" Percy rested at the edge of the abyss, sharpening his make-shift sword with a sharp stone. "Look, this is the only lead to completing this task so far. I don't want to die here, so it's worth the shot to go down there and fight our way through. Trust me for once, will you?!"
"Last time anyone trusted you, we all got three days on the rack." Some girl in the back growled, and Percy shook his head in annoyance.
"You didn't trust me then. You made me complete the task alone while you all tried to do it on your own. You all failed while I succeeded, Cassandra." Percy hopped up to his feet. "So, I guess that this is a solo mission. Okay then, see you on the rack."
And with that, Percy Jackson jumped into the dark abyss.
The Demon Rites
Artemis was currently perched in a tree in Central Park. Unlike most times, however, she was currently in the form of a twenty-year-old. This form made her more intimidating but also more understanding. Her long, luscious auburn hair was tied up in a pony tail, and her glowing silver eyes shone with a yellowish glint, like quicksilver mixed with a hint of gold.
She wore a silver shirt that hugged her slim, athletic form and a pair of light blue skinny jeans ripped at the knees and a pair of white converse.
A woman then came into her sights. Her long, dark brown hair was streaked grey from intense stress, and Artemis knew exactly why. After all these years, Sally Jackson still longed for her son who had simply vanished off the face of the Earth. Sally wore a simple shirt and jeans and flats. Nothing fancy, but her sea green eyes swam with power and emotion.
Artemis remembered well about Sally. She had once tried to recruit her into the hunt, but Poseidon had wished against it, simply requesting that she watch over one of his only daughters when he could not. And she knew why. Sally was one of the most powerful descendents of Poseidon that ever existed. Zeus even wanted her dead when Olympus first learnt of her extraordinary amounts of power. But war almost broke out. Even Athena backed Poseidon, stating that it was "unwise" to kill an innocent mortal that could be used to their advantage.
Artemis leapt down from the branch she was perched on, almost startling Sally. She drew a bronze pen from her pocket and uncapped it. The blade of the sword was three feet long and shaped like a leaf – a traditional Greek Xiphos made out of Celestial Bronze. Anaklusmos Artemis thought bitterly, remembering who its original owner was and how it was taken from her.
"Sally Jackson," Artemis greeted, motioning for Sally to lower the sword. "I come in peace, Sally. I actually come with news you would like to hear."
Sally however, kept her sword level at Artemis. "Unless it is about my son, I don't care." She snapped, and Artemis sighed.
"I saw Perseus yesterday, Sally." Artemis said, and Sally lowered her sword a little.
"Where is he? How is he?!" The eager mother demanded, her eyes gleaming from hope.
"He is alive and well, Sally. However, he is not in the best of situations. A sticky predicament and he should return to this world soon, that I assure you." Artemis assured her, and Sally fully lowered the sword.
"Another world? What does that mean?" Sally asked haughtily.
"As you are aware, the Demons have recently made an act of war by attacking the Hunters of Artemis; and your son... Well... From what I have gathered, he was taken that night twelve years ago and has been trained under the ranks of the Demons." Artemis answered carefully. She was fully aware of what this demigoddess was capable of – and it wasn't pretty at all. Sally was the most powerful descendent of the sea god – even more powerful than Triton according to the rumours floating around Olympus. Hopefully, she would never be on the receiving end of this woman's wrath.
"What are you saying, Lady Artemis..?" Sally's face was cast over by a shadow as she said this, which made the Moon Goddess question her idea to inform the still grieving mother of Percy Jackson. "Is my son some sort of demon of such?!"
"Not a demon – trained, by them, daughter of Poseidon. He seems strong, and is hopefully not willing to fight against us." Artemis said in an attempt to calm Sally, but the mother's sea green eyes continued to darken.
"Get out of my sight, goddess." Sally spat. The air around Artemis began to heavy, notifying her that it was in fact the time to take her leave.
"Just to let you know," Artemis said heavily, "You should try and contact him, Sally. He doesn't know of your existence as far as I am concerned. I wish you the best." And that was the end of it – Artemis just flashed out in a bright flash of silver light, leaving behind silver dust in the air that shone like glitter in the sunlight.
Sally Jackson sighed, her eyes finally tearing up. She sat down on a nearby bench and wept silently. Some tears of joy, while others were simply because her son was in Hell. It had to be Hell of all places – the place of eternal damnation.
But her baby boy was alive – that is what mattered to her. And to make it better, she knew where he was. But one question still floated around her mind:
What does Hell want with Percy, and why was it him stolen?
The Demon Rites
A lone man with bright yellow eyes sat in a throne lazily, playing with a small flame that rolled through his fingers like a coin. The room around was dimly lit by burning braziers in each corner of his room and a further two on opposite sides of the throne. It was more like a cave by the walls all jagged, but there were columns of some dark, black metal rising up from the floor where a dome was supported above. Up above, screaming souls could be seen pounding against the glass or just flying around in constant pain and agony.
The door opened and closed quickly, alerting the man towards the door. His yellow eyes narrowed at who had entered the throne room.
"Alistair." The man spoke darkly, his voice holding much power. It echoed off of the jagged walls of the hall and the souls above seemed to scamper away, leaving the above just an endless tornado of ice and fire. "Why have you come?"
"I hear of the council's acceptance of your declare of war on the Olympians, Azazel." Alistair remarked curtly, his black and white eyes glowing as he spoke.
"Give me a reason not to strike you down this instance, you pathetic excuse for a demon." Azazel sneered, drawing a dark coloured sword from the shadows.
"I come with a proposition, Azazel." The Torturer of Hell proposed to the self-proclaimed King of Hell. "A method to take down Olympus; but you have to guarantee that I get payment."
"Another extension to the Rack, I'm guessing? Or some more torture equipment?" Azazel waved his hand dismissively, not really caring for what Alistair had to say.
"Not exactly – it is a program for those who fail the Trials of Enoch. Mutations! We turn them into warriors better than the Knights of Hell! A win-win situation for the two of us, Azazel. And to make it even better, we will be guaranteed victory. Also if we join with another of Olympus' enemies." Alistair still said what he wanted to, not caring for what Azazel actually thought.
"You've some high expectations for this 'program', Alistair. And the enemies of Olympus was already in the book, you pathetic imbecile." Azazel glowered, pondering on the thought of making use of the failures instead of just simply killing them actually interesting him.
"It is possible if I do. Drain them of emotion and humanity then turn them into walking war machines. It's pure genius!" Alistair grinned like a Cheshire cat, looking like a complete maniac.
"I'll think of it. But what would the first step to this plan of yours be, Alistair?" Azazel stopped playing with the flame and met eyes with Alistair.
"It's pretty simple actually. We corrupt an already grey heart, someone with hate for the Olympians within their demigod camp. Then, everything will fall into place for us." Alistair grinned, and the King of Hell nodded.
"Leave now, and I will think this proposal over." Azazel waved his hand and the door opened wide. With a flick of his wrist, Alistair was thrown out of the throne room by a ball of fire; the doors slamming shut after the Torturer of Hell flew from the hall.
Azazel sat there, listening to the endless screams of the tortured souls above, who had recently returned after Alistair left. Azazel then looked up his eyes glowing brightly and the souls scattered.
"Alistair, you manipulative and ingenious bastard..." Azazel muttered, his gold eyes swirling with power like liquid gold.
The Demon Rites
The monsters in the dark below were definitely not humanoid. Their skin was withered and leathery, and also flaky. So basically were freaking horrible.
The creatures had a human-like form, but the tops of their heads were widened like a mushroom and their backs were at a 70o angle. The leathery skin was incredibly pale from the dim light from above Percy as he gripped upon a small out cove in the ceiling of the cavern below where the rest of the candidates for the Trials of Enoch were standing or resting, questioning the Legacy of Poseidon's current state of mind.
The monsters were goblin-like, scampering across the ground of the cavern on all fours and their beady red eyes often looking up at Percy. Rows of sharp, yellow teeth often glinted, some probably covered in chunks of flesh. Percy shivered at the thought of being eaten alive by one of them.
A faint glow at the other end of the cave caught Percy's eye. It looked like an exit to this place.
"There's a way out! These monsters are the first part of the trial to get through!" Percy shouted behind him, hoping that his fellow candidates had heard him and would follow his lead.
A pained grunt reached his ears as a number of people scrambled down to the ledges on the walls, barely managing to keep their footing. A few of the unfortunate ones completely lost their grips and plummeted down into the sea of beady red eyes.
They all continued to climb towards the light, nobody daring to knock another off or even be an idiot since their lives depended on this final trial. They slowly drew closer to the small exit in the cave wall; the monsters below began to get restless. Some scrambled up the walls while one even jumped up with the help of others and snatched a fourteen-year-old like a cherry. Percy held his breath, a small ounce of fear creeping up within him. Not a lot, but enough to offset him from the task at hand. The sword added weight to him and his fingers began to grow sweaty, adding to Percy's chance of certain death.
Percy was close enough, and took note that it was in fact a tunnel that ran on for a bit. A dim light came from the other side, making Percy somewhat suspicious to what was on the other side.
Five more antagonizing minutes passed, and Percy scrambled up and into the tunnel. The cries of goblins reached Percy's ears as more of the candidates made it into the tunnel. The air began to thicken with every step into the tunnel they took. It took some time, but soon all of the remaining candidates got into the tunnel. This, however, did not stop the strange creatures from climbing the walls and attacking those at the back.
"Run for it!" A kid cried out, and it was every man (or woman) for their self. Percy was thinking the exact same thing as well. Being the youngest of all of the candidates wasn't helpful, but there was one thing he was good at: holding his own. At the end of the tunnel, there was a sudden drop into what looked like a slide of ice. Without a second thought, Percy jumped onto the slide. A few girls screamed as icy needles bit into their rear ends.
The end of the slide came quickly, and Percy couldn't prepare himself for what would come next. An animalistic scream cut through the air as the candidates toppled down a steep cliff and fell a few metres. The Legacy of Poseidon landed on his shoulder, feeling it crack under the pressure of the fall. He rolled a few times before stopping, shaking the dizziness off.
A creature stopped at the end of the slide, staring down at the candidates below. Percy barely managed to get up; his entire right side was feeling like it had been crushed in a vice. It leapt down, and landed on some boy's chest. His screams were haunting as it tore open the chest with its claws, ducking its head in for a feast.
This was the first time Percy even got a good look at the monsters. They were white skinned, almost bluish, and were skinny. So skinny that they were just leathery skin and bones. A pair of red eyes looked up and met Percy's pair of sea green eyes. Percy now knew what this abomination of a monster was – a Goblin, which was a Necrophage, the souls that are abandoned and twisted through darkness. Most are just demon experiments gone wrong, but the Goblins were supposed to be extinct...
The Goblin released an animalistic growl and lunged at the Legacy of Poseidon. Percy drew his sword and raised it clumsily, blocking a swipe from the Goblin. The other Candidates were running for their lives, leaving Percy to fight the creature on his own. Percy almost dropped the sword and the creature took advantage of this mistake, knocking Percy off of his feet. Landing with a pained grunt, the Goblin now stood over Percy and snarled. Percy cried out as the creature loomed over him, and opened its mouth, ready to deal the killing blow. Acting on raw instinct, Percy thrust the sword upwards and it ran straight through the goblin. An inhuman cry escaped the Goblin along with black blood as it died, collapsing on the exhausted twelve year old.
Shoving the limp corpse off of him, Percy stood up and ran after his fellow candidates, not taking in the icy world of ice around him.