"AHHHHGGGGRRRRAAHHH!" Artie howled
"I'm sorry!" Jacob said to his brother as he pressed an old shirt into his leg to the bleeding from the shin bone sticking out. "Just bear with me. I know it hurts."
"YOU'RE GODS DAMNED RIGHT IT HURTS!" Artie snarled at him.
"Hold still!" Jacob ordered. "Yi!"
"Yes?!" answered an Asian teenager as he run up tot them. "Are there more?"
"Hold him down!" Jacob ordered.
Yi quickly set down his weapon and went to do as instructed, but Artie slashed at him with his claws, leaving Yi's arm he had just tangled with a tiger. Even after all he had seen and fought that day, Yi had never felt the fear he was feeling now. The fight had cost Artie his sunglasses and his silver eyes flashes red as he locked eyes with Yi. If he didn't know any better, or the fact Artie and Jacob had come to his aid, he would have thought Artie was a monster.
"If you come near me again," Artie snarled a line from American History X. "I will feed you your f — ARRRRRRGGGGHHHH!"
"Now!" Jacob shouted.
Ignoring the blood staining what remained of his sleeve, Yi quickly got behind Artie and pinned his shoulders to the ground. Artie snarled and cursed in a language that Jacob would later explain was Portuguese as he struggled and tried to buck Yi and Jacob off, but it was no use. Even when they were younger, Jacob had always was been the stronger brother and Yi was stronger than he looked. Even if he wasn't severely injured, Artie had no grand illusions of bench pressing more than the Hulk. He was more akin to the scarlet speedster than the man of steel.
"Please still be there!" Jacob quickly and snatched off Artie's belt and turned it over. A small silver flask clatter to the floor. He picked it up and breathed a sigh of relief when he shook by his ear. "Thanks the gods."
"What is that?" Yi asked.
"For later." Jacob set it aside. "Now I have to reset the bone." He handed Yi a boomerang. "Have him bite on this. It's gonna hurt like the fields of punishment."
Yi had no idea what the fields of punishment were, but took the boomerang and shoved in Artie's mouth.
"Yi!" Jacob said. "Look at me!"
"Do not let him up!" He ordered. "I need to shove the bone back in and set it. It'll be over in less than five seconds, but it's going to feel like five hours to him and he'll fight with everything he's got." He repeated slowly. "Do. Not. Let. Him. Up. Do you understand?"
"I understand." Yi nodded firmly.
"Okay!" Jacob placed a hand on the protruding bone and Artie howled behind the boomerang in his mouth. "On three!"
"Drrnt drrru rrrrrit!" Artie shouted.
"One!" Jacob started,
"Two!" Yi continued.
"Nnrrrrg!" Artie howled.
"Three!" they shouted together.
A white flash appeared in his eyes as Artie screamed, cried, and prayed all at the same time.
(Four Hours Previously)
Artie breathed in the salty sea air and basked in the glow of the noon sun as it warmed the the Grecian coast. Maybe it was because Jacob and he had rescued her children back in Romania, but Demeter had decided to bring spring early. Whatever the reason, Artie made a mental note to offer a sacrifice to Demeter the next chance he got and make one for Persephone as well. He just hoped they would be happy with a handful of hand caught fish. Jacob smiled as well because after months of hard traveling and fighting the cold as well as monsters, the Gallezi brothers had reached their destination.
They had reached where the ancient Greek warriors held off an invading Persian army more than ten times their size for a week.
They had reached the Hot Gates themselves.
Technically, their quest was only a third of the way finished. They had found and armed all the demigods they had come across as well as inform them of the rising threat of the Titans. They still had to train them to fight, provided they all didn't decide to take their chances on the remaining half blood defeating the Titans back in New York. How long the training, and what it entailed, was really dependent on where and how the Titans went on the offensive.
In the back of his head, Jacob hoped that the demigods they had met would see the danger and helped. He also hoped, if they did come, that they would be enough. Even if he included himself and Artie, their numbers barley added up to a platoon and that was only if every single demigod decided travel and survived long enough to reach Thermopylae. He did a rough head count in his head and came to an underwhelming seventeen total possible soldiers. There was a chance that some of them could accidentally run into more demigods and bring them along, but he didn't hold breath. The chances of that were slim to none.
Meanwhile, Artie was counting their good luck on finding the last two demigods. After Vladmire and Basil took them to their home and helped their father explained who exactly their mother had been, they quickly set out again. This time the map took them east across the Black Sea to the shores of Ordu, Turkey. That where they had met Elvan Yilmaz. He was just under six feet tall with olive skin, black hair, and his mother's brown eyes according to his father.
Technically, Elvan lived outside of Ordu on a horse farm with his father. He spent most of the time riding between the farms to relay information on horseback like field conditions and supplies since cellphones were incredibly expensive and landlines weren't reliable. In his free time, he painted and drew whatever caught his eye. It turned out that Elvan's mother had been Iris, goddess of the Rainbow. As somewhat of a free spirit and fond of horses, they reminded her of pegasi, she met Elvan's father and really hit it off with him. She eventually left Elvan to be raised by his father, but not before leaving him an art book and set of paints and brushes to remember her by.
It had taken a bit of searching, but Artie and Jacob finally stumbled upon him in an open market when he was attack by sphinx. As to why a sphinx was so far away from Egypt, they hadn't the foggiest idea. It did give them the chance to give him an old looking celestial bronze lantern from his mother. The lantern wasn't deadly, but it allowed him to control light. At first, during the fight with the sphinx, it bent the light around him and made Elvan completely invisible. Then it flashed brighter than the sun itself and blinded the sphinx which gave Artie and Jacob the chance to pump it full of arrows and boomerangs. A quick introduction and a trip to Elvan's farm, they had explained everything.
There had been one more after Elvan before the map took them to Thermopylae. The map took them Tel Aviv, Isarel which was a bit too close to the Middle East for Artie's liking. He knew the news liked to make things sound worse then they really were, but there was no denying the toll constant conflict the city had taken. Even he he didn't know the country's history, there had to be a reason for sheer number of solderers on the streets. Both Artie and Jacob knew that military service was mandatory once men and women came of age, but they couldn't shake the uneasy feeling that danger could be around any corner.
Still, Tel Aviv felt like someone had given New York the climate of Las Vegas, sprinkled it with the culture and history of Europe and Asia, and added carefree attitude of Amsterdam for good measure. They passed countless cinemas and theaters. Not to mention the endless little shops and cafes that made Starbucks look like a mom and pop shop. There were plenty of fancy hotels that Artie recognized like Hilton along with other he didn't. The food was incredible. Tel Aviv had a massive variety of different cuisine, the Halva ice cream had to be their favorite when they stopped at an old man's cart. The ice cream alone was nothing like they had ever had, but it took on a whole other level when the old man topped it with topped with date syrup and pistachios.
As much as they'd like to take some well deserved time off visiting museums or joining pick up game of football in the park, they had to find a certain child of Persephone. Fortunately the map provided an address. Unfortunately, neither Artie or Jacob spoke the language or knew where the address was in the city. It took a bit of searching and a couple hours of charades with the locals, but they eventually found a small, but colorfully pleasing, flower shop.
As fate would have it, they found the shop just as a teenager pulled up to the shop on a bicycle. He looked to be about fifteen and a perfectly normal kid. Assuming the man inside the shop was his father, he must have taken after his mother. Instead of the short cropped black hair on the man, he had long hair tied back in a ponytail and was te color of ripe golden apples. His eyes were as green as grass in the height of Spring. The rest of him was more or less normal with his father's complexion and skin tone. He was shorter than Artie, but a lot of people were like Jacob was even though he was older by three years. If it was for his scent, a pleasing mix of fresh flowers and ripening fruit, he could pass for any other teenager in the city.
Luckily for them, and the fact Tel Aviv was a tourist hotspot, both the father and son spoke English even if it was accented. It turned out the half blood's name was Aviv Blumstien. Strangely enough, in a city that had seen its fair share of violence, Aviv was the only half blood they had managed to meet without immediately having to stop and fight a monster of some kind. Artie merely handed Aviv a white daffodil, a flower sacred to his mother, which instantly reverted to its true form.
Before he knew it, Aviv was holding a two and half meter (roughly 8 1/4 feet) whip. It wasn't a common leather bullwhip however. It was made of braided and interwoven green vines. Each of the vines was dotted generously with red razor sharp thorns The handle was white and Aviv instinctively knew it was made of a thin and supple layer of white oak. He went to hold it up to examine the thorns, but Artie stopped him which was lucky. As it turned out, the thorns were covered in liquid hemlock which was an incredibly deadly poison used in Ancient Greece, most notably on Socrates. Even the smallest amount could paralyze the muscles in the lungs and stop the ability to breath in just mere hours after it entered the body.
After closing the shop for the day, Aviv's father along with Artie and Jacob explained who Aviv's mother had truly been. After taking two days to rest, who Mr. Blumstien had been generous in allowing them to stay in their apartment, they head northwest across the Mediterranean Sea into the Aegean Sea to Thermopylae.
Technically, they still had one more half blood to find. Unlike previous times, they didn't have much to go on. No name or address. All the map said was that a child of Nemesis was somewhere in Thermopylae.
They decided to start where the battle had been fought. It was as good as any place to start. They found a hill that over looked the entire place. To their surprise, there weren't any cliffs. It was simply a dry field with a highway running through it. There were a few electric towers running along the highway connected by cables. The terrain was very arid and rocky, but still had its fair share of trees and bushes. They weren't sure what to make of it until they realized that the Battle of Thermopylae had been fought almost twenty-five hundred years ago and landscapes tended to change dramatically when you were dealing with that kind of time and that was ignoring human interference.
"At least there's a stream." Artie sighed and began to walk down the hill. "Come on."
"For what?" Jacob asked.
"We're out of water." Artie explained. "Plus it'll be night in a few hours."
"Can't we just head back into town?" Jacob asked.
"I'd rather not." Artie explained. "For some reason, it reeked of monsters. I think this place still has a strong tie to Olympus in New York and it attracts them like bees to honey."
"Could be." Artie shrugged. "I'm not sure at all, but I'd rather not be boxed in by running down the wrong alley. At least here I'm still in my element."
"Okay. I get ya." Jacob nodded. "But you do you remember you share your element?"
"Take a look around you, Jacob." Artie scoffed and gave his best Shrek impression. "I'm scarier than anything we're gonna meet in this forest."
"Oh yeah. King of the Hunt." Jacob remembered. "Still need to be on the lookout for monsters though."
"True, but not having to worry about a bear or a lynx taking a bite out of our butts isn't something you take for granted."
When they made it to the base of the hill, Jacob spotted something by the stream. It looked like they weren't the only one with plans on camping by a stream. He pointed him out to Artie who looked and adjusted course. Then the wind suddenly blew towards them. It disappeared as quickly as he appeared, but Jacob saw Artie's eye go wide.
"It can't be that easy." Artie took off like a rocket towards the person. "Hey! You! Hold on sec!"
What Artie didn't expect was that if the person at stream was who he thought it was — the child of Nemesis they were looking for— then he was going to freak out to a teenager with silver streaked hair and armed with a sword on his hip without a shirt. Even if he did expect to startle him at the very least, he certainly did not expect what happened next.
When he closed in, Artie got a good look at him and it was apparent he wasn't from Greece and it had nothing to do with Asian appearance. He had very short hair like he had shaved it not to long ago. It was hardly a step above stubble. He was slim and wiry like Artie was, but he appeared to have more muscle or it seemed that way due to the fact Artie was tall for his age. It also could be that his clothes were a size too large for him. He wore a faded gray shirt with a Taoist yin-yang in the center. The rest of his clothes were right out an old 70's kung-fu film. From his waist to his knees were black denim from a pair of faded jeans, but he had white cloth wrapping around his legs up to his knees with black leather straps criss-crossing the cloth. To complete the image, he had a pair of shoes that looked like a pair of black laceless slippers.
Judging from the small pack and fire with two fish roasting over it, Artie had caught him making camp.
"Hey!" Artie smiled. "Please tell me you speak eng — "
Artie didn't get o finish because the moment he stopped, the possible half blood snatched a staff off the ground and attacked. Artie naturally backed up and the tip of the staff landed in front his feet.
"What was that — " Artie began to ask.
He was quickly cut off when the half blood started jabbing at his feet with the staff. Naturally, Artie hopped from one foot to the other like a bad game of hop scotch. He quickly fell into a rhythm. Left right left right. That was until the half blood went left twice. Artie felt as if a snake had bit his ankle, a feeling he had first hand experience with, and yelped. It provided his opponent with enough time to smack him upside the head with the same end which he expertly followed up by twirling the staff and doing the same with the other end. Artie barely had time groan before he felt something blunt jam him into stomach hard knocking the air out of him and sending him to the floor.
"Owww." Artie groaned.
"Nǐ piàn bùliǎo wǒ!" said the half blood in mandarin and held the staff to Artie's head. "Guàiwù!"
That was when two bronze boomerangs struck the staff. Artie looked to see Jacob running over. The half blood raised the staff overhead, but it flew out of his hand. Artie took the opportunity and rolled away and to his feet. That was when he saw Jacob run up to him holding the staff and he understood entirely. Jacob's gauntlets allowed him to recall the boomerangs back to him. It just so happen that they were firmly lodged in the half blood's staff and took for a ride.
"Enough of that!" Jacob tossed the staff aside. "We're not here to hurt you."
Either the halfblood didn't speak English or wasn't in a trusting mood because he resumed attacking just as Artie got to his feet. He was relentless flowing from strike to strike. Artie dodged both strikes to his head before dropping flat to the ground to avoid a kick to his mid section. Without missing a beat, the halfblood turned to deliver a stomp which Artie avoided by rolling forward and springing up to his feet. The moment Artie turned to face him, Jacob had gotten close to try and stop him. Jacob barely had opened his mouth to speak before the halfblood snaked his arm around Jacob's and hooked and jerked upward. Just as quickly, the halfblood kicked Jacob's leg out from under him and sent him to the ground with both gravity and a powerful strike to his sternum.
That was when he heard a snarl.
He hadn't even turned his head before Artie pounced on him like a Bengal tiger. He winced when he bumped his head on the hard ground. Then he felt a hand over his throat and five little pricks on the side of his neck. He looked up to see Artie straddling him with a hand held out by his face. His fingers were curled and his nails had grown into claws. That was when he realized the five little pricks on his neck were the claws on Artie's other hand.
"Just because we didn't come here to hurt you doesn't mean we won't." Artie growled. "Your move. Cut the Shaw Brothers audition or I'll show you some real Tiger Style."
The halfblood didn't move.
"Good." Artie relaxed slightly but didn't lower his hand. "Jacob, are you alright?"
"I'm fine." Jacob groaned as he got to his feet. "Nothing serious."
"You're bleeding." Artie said without looking.
"How did you — " Jacob paused. "Oh right. The nose knows. I just cut myself on a rock when I fell."
"You are very lucky." said the halfblood in accented English.
"You speak English?!" Artie and Jacob said together.
"Yes, but not American English" he said. "Can I stand?"
"Are going to go all John Woo on us again?" Artie asked.
"Are you going to attack us again?" Jacob translated.
"Only if you do not attack me."
"You started it!" Artie snapped. "I barely got a word out before you came at me like Donatello."
"Things have attacked me." He explained. "They appear human and then attack when I think they are not a threat." He motioned to Artie with his head. "You move too fast to be normal person."
"We can explain." Jacob walked to them. "Artie, let him up."
Artie retracted his claws and stood up while Jacob held out a hand and helped the half blood to his feet.
"What is your name?" Jacob asked.
"I am Yi." he said. "Yi Cheng."
"I'm Jacob Gallezi." He motioned to Artie. "This is my brother, Artemis."
"Just call me Artie." He said. "Everyone else does."
"Nice to meet you." Yi said with a short bow.
"I'm gonna go out on a limb and say you're not from around here." Artie asked. "You're not Greek, right?"
"No." Yi shook his head. "I am from Dengfeng. It is a city in China."
"That's a long way from here." Arte remarked.
"Not as far as New York." Jacob added.
"What was that?" Jacob looked around.
"I heard it too." said Yi. "Are you alone?"
"We should really stop being surprised." Artie opened his hand and his silver longbow sprung from his ring. He drew an arrow and nocked it. "Keep an eye out."
"What do you expect?" Jacob held up his boomerangs. "You've been attracting monster since you were eight. Me and Yi here just backup singers compared to you."
"I do not understand." Yi said.
"Monsters." Artie said as he scanned the surrounding area. "They have the worst timing."
"They're attracted to the scent of demigods." Jacob explained. "The more powerful the scent, the more likely you'll run into them."
"Not to mention the sheer numbers." Artie whistled.
Tobias screeched as he came out from a behind a cloud and fluttered to Artie's shoulder. Artie returned the arrow to his quiver and closed his bow.
"What is he doing?" Yi asked. "He speak to birds?"
"It's no ordinary bird." Jacob said. "Artie, like you and me, are children of gods. That hawk, Tobias, was a gift from Artie's mother Artemis. Long story short, Artie's the first child of Artemis ever. It makes his scent really strong so he's gonna have Tobias keep watch from the sky."
"Children of gods?" Yi repeated. "This . . . makes sense."
"Really?" Artie turned. "Usually — "
"Look out!" Jacob shouted.
Like it had been shot by a cannon, a boulder flew through the air. Jacob managed to tackle Yi to ground not a moment too soon. Even with his speed and reflexes, it was pure luck Artie escaped being crushed. He had managed to turn his head and see it coming, but he slipped on a smooth stone and lost his balance. They all watched as it landed with a thud before it bounced once and landed with splash in the stream.
They all turned to see what had thrown it.
Despite seeing almost all of the Western Hemisphere between the two of them, neither Artie or Jacob knew what they were looking at. It looked like a giant, at least it was as big as one at over eight feet tall. It also looked like an expertly sculpted clay statue with pebbles and rocks all over its skin. It was almost completely naked except for a canvas loincloth which wasn't even the strangest thing. It had six muscular arms.
"Uh, what is that?" Jacob asked.
"I was going to ask you." Artie got to his feet. "You spent all that time on the Andromeda."
"Never saw anything like that."
"Yi?" Artie reached into his belt. "Know what that is?"
"No." Yi shook his head.
"Then here." Artie tossed him something from his belt. "You might need this."
Yi caught a what looked like small gardening shovel. The blade was made of bronze and the handle was worn and made of wood. On the handle was the Chinese symbol for balance. In the blink of an eye, it began to change a grow. The handle became a long and polished shaft of a staff reaching just over three feet. On one end was a sharpened crescent blade made of a strange glowing bronze. On the opposite end, made of the same strange glowing bronze, was a much larger spade shaped blade.
"Xīn yuè chǎn." Yi said.
"It's only one. " Jacob said. "We should be able to handle him easy."
That was two more erupted from the ground next to the first.
"You might want to speak up!" Artie took a moment to punch Jacob hard in the arm. "Only two heard you!"
To their surprise, the three monsters sank into the ground and disappeared.
"You think we scared them off?" Jacob asked.
"Whenever has that ever happened?" Artie responded.
Then suddenly the ground at Artie's feet gurgled. Before he knew it, a geyser of dirt and sand lifted him into the air and slammed him hard on the ground. Just as quickly, the geyser took morphed into one the giants they had been staring at seconds ago. Using four arms, it pinned Artie's arms and legs to the ground.
"I rest my case." Artie coughed.
Yi then heard another gurgle an dove away. He landed hard and winced when he felt a few rocks jab him in the ribs through his clothes. He quickly got to his feet and turned to face the giants. One, like Artie, had gotten the drop on Jacob and had pinned him down. A third giant looked annoyed that Yi had managed to get away.
"Run!" Jacob yelled.
"No!" Artie shouted. "These guys seem to use the earth to travel. You can't outrun them. Fight!"
That was when the third advanced on him, arms and hands open to grab him. Weapon still in hand, Yi swung it like his staff. The crescent blade sliced the triceps of the monster's right arms. The wounds healed over just as quickly, but Yi noticed the monster grunt and step back. He swung it again and the giant flinched before it swung a punch at him which he avoided. Yi realized that it the strange glowing bronze could hurt them and frighten them, but not enough to scare them away.
While Yi never learned to handle the monk spade, the name of his weapon, he figured to treat it like his staff and simple not touch either end. With that in mind, he began attacking. He jabbed left and right with either end to fend off the incoming arms of the giant. He spun it over his head as fast as he could like the blade of a helicopter. For his effort, it was only enough for a stand still. He couldn't close enough to do any serious damage and neither could giant, but sooner or later Yi was going to get tired.
Meanwhile, Jacob and Artie knew they had to get free. Whatever these monsters were, you did not want to fight them up close.
Artie whistled and Tobias dove out from the sky and struck at the monster's eyes with his talons. Much to Artie, the monster didn't let go, but it did loosen his grip on one of his arms as it swatted at Tobias. He still had his bow, but with quiver on his back and his other arms pinned it was useless. Instead, he gripped his Kopis and yanked it out its sheath. Just as Tobias flew off, Artie sank it into the monster's shoulder. Instantly, it backed up and let Artie off.
While Artie escaped, Jacob was doing the same. When the giant threw him like Artie, Jacob had lost his grip on his boomerang. As it turned out, it sort of worked out. He saw they handed landed several feet away stuck in ground. He smiled and flexed his fingers and they shot back into his hands, as Artie liked to described, like Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi.
While they were made of celestial bronze, it wasn't what made them different. Normally, they would have the same problems as bows or even modern day mortal firearms, sooner or later you'd run out of ammo. That was when his celestial bronze gauntlets came in. He couldn't control the flight of his boomerangs mid flight, which was something he wished he could do on countless occasions,but the gauntlets did allow them to return back to his hands if they ever got stuck in something or went somewhere he couldn't follow. The problem, for any enemies in the way, was the fact they were only capable of returning in a straight line and the only warning they'd receive was slight woosh and even slighter pinch in the back before they turned whatver stood between Jacob and his weapons into swiss cheese.
At least, that was usually happened.
This time, they barrelled up out of the ground and headed for his hands and became lodged in the giant's shoulders. It wasn't something that could be ignored however and the giant seized up in pain and Jacob rolled to his side and shot to his feet.
Artie came to his side and loosed an arrow just as he urged his boomerangs to return again. To both their surprise, the giant dissolved into the ground and Artie's arrow flew straight on and split the skull of the giant fighting Yi. It clutched it's head and stumbled. Yi saw an opportunity and slashed, but arrow must have been enough because the giant dissolved into the ground.
"Oookay!" Jacob's boomerangs returned to his hands and stuck them in his belt. "What just happened?"
"Did we win?" Yi asked.
"It looks that way." Artie frowned as he looked around. "But I'm not sure."
"What happened to the other one." Yi asked. "There were three."
"Same as the other two." Artie picked up his Kopis and sheathed it. "Just collapsed into the ground."
"So they ran away?" Jacob asked.
"That is good." Yi asked. "No?"
"This used to happen all the time to me." Artie sniffed the air. "It's never good."
"What are you talking about?"
"You know how animals are usually calm and docile around me?" Artie frowned. "I learned the hard way it didn't extend to reptiles."
"There's always a bigger fish." Artie frowned as he quoted Phantom Menace. "Once a green anaconda wrapped itself around me while I was sleeping. That would have been it if a black cayman didn't get greedy and tried to drag the anaconda into the river with me along for the ride."
"Hold up!" Jacob said. "How does a little itty bitty cayman drag an anaconda and eight year old kid into a river?"
"That itty bitty cayman wasn't one of those lizards that Tobias like to eat when he's in Florida." Artie explained. "Full grown Black Caymans make the Nile Crocs look like geckos and those go toe to toe with hippos, rhinos, and elephants."
"Either we're in for a bigger fight or they'll be back." Artie drew an arrow from his quiver. "But I'll be ready for them."
"What is that?" Yi asked.
"This quiver is magic." Artie explained. "Gives me any arrow I can think of." Artie nocked the arrow. "The problem is I have to wait between the special kind."
"What does that one do?" Jacob asked.
"This is just a regular arrow with a celestial bronze head. It's normally enough." Artie admitted. "But I noticed they're made of clay or most of them is clay. My quiver should give me something to freeze them like that chick in Jason X with the liquid nitrogen."
"I'd still like to know what those things were." Jacob said.
"As would I." Yi added.
That was when Tobias, who had fluttered down from the sky to Artie's shoulder. He chirped and squeaked in Artie's ear who nodded before Tobias flew off again. He did snatch both of the fish on sticks roasting by the fire. Artie closed his bow and slipped the arrow back into his quiver.
"Tobias, says we should be better off by the beach." Artie explained. "Come on."
Together all three quickly packed up Yi's stuff which was nothing more than a small sleeping roll and a bag with a few clothes and uncooked rice and a pot to cook it in. Yi poured some water over the fire and it was when he noticed.
"Your bird took my fish?" Yi laughed.
"Huh?" Jacob asked.
"I caught two fish and was cooking them when those things attacked." Yi said.
"That would be Tobias." Artie knelt by the fire and picked up a brick red tail feather. "He's kind of spoiled. He still hunts and eats food raw, but he likes cooked food whenever he can get it. Sorta happened when we traveled together all these years." He stood up and began walking east. "Come on, I see if I can catch something."
It was a bit of walk, but Artie and Yi were used to walking and even Jacob had as well traveling all over Europe with Artie. As they walked, they shared thier stories Yi, unlike many young demigods, had actually met his godly parent. However, he had never met his father . Instead, he grew up in an orphanage in Dengfeng, China. He was eight when a woman, not one that worked at the orphanage, took him to the Shaolin temple that city was famous for. She explained she was his mother and she did not want him growing up in a dirty orphanage. She took him to an old looking man in yellow and orange robes.
She explained to the elder that she wanted Yi to stay with the monks at the monestary and learn all they had to teach him. Yi said, with all the courage of a child, that he wanted to stay with her. She simply frowned and said you can't always get what you want and the only reason he was there was to correct a balance.
So Yi spent the next seven years he studying in the monastery. Along with all the teachings and practices of Buddhism, Yi learned English from a retired English professor seeking enlightenment. He also learned the famous, and clearly exaggerated for entertainment, Shaolin martial art known as Wushu. He had mastered the basics of hand to hand form and had only begun to competently use a staff when a letter, delivered by an owl, arrived for him. It was just a map of Greece with Thermopylae circled in red.
"So you just hopped on a plane and headed to Greece without asking why?" Jacob asked.
"No." Yi explained. "The destination is the not purpose, but the journey."
"So you walked the entire way here?" Artie asked.
"I accepted help from people who traveled in automobiles, but yes." Yi nodded. "I walked for the most part. It allowed me to learn more of the world than just what occured in Dengfeng."
"Back to the whole not asking question part." Jacob said. "You didn't think it was weird an owl just shows up and you pack your bags without asking why."
"Like a hairy giant would have been easier to believe." Artie laughed and did his best Hagrid impression. "Yer a halfblood, Yi."
"Ignore him." Jacob said.
"I did have questions." Yi admitted. "But my sifu said they would be answered when the time is right."
"Sounds about right." Artie shrugged. "For us anyway."
"I do not understand."
"Remember how we said we're children of gods?" Artie asked. "That sort of thing, figuring out the answers to vague questions, is par for the course."
"But I believe meeting you here means I will have my questions answered."
"Ask away." Artie said with a smile. "Can't promise you'll like what you hear."
From there, it was the usual bit. The ancient Greek gods of Olympus never actually went away and just hopped from place to place. They were currently situated in United States with New York City being the seat of their power. Recently the Titans were rising and recruiting for a war against the gods and Artie and Jacob were on a secret mission to find, arm, and recruit demigods in Europe for a small army away from the attention of the gods and Titans.
They also explained that Yi's mother was a minor goddess, meaning she was not one of the twelve Olympians, known as Nemesis. She was the goddess of balance, justice, retribution, and vengeance. Neither Artie or Jacob, to their knowledge, had ever met her so they could not tell Yi what she was like.
"So that's it." Jacob said. "We're forming an army and we'll probably need everyone we can get."
"It will be honor to fight by your side."
"That was quick." Artie laughed. "You sure you don't want time to think about it?"
"We all have a single purpose." Yi said. "I believe it is mine to fight by your side against these Titans."
"Don't you have questions?" Jacob couldn't believe it. "Since we're skipping the whole denial phase."
"Yes." Yi nodded. "But they can wait until — "
"We're here!" Artie announced.
Here turned out to be a beach. It wouldn't rival the beaches of Miami or Hawaii, but there was sand and the ocean crashing over the sand in waves. They all set down their packs and stretched grateful for the relief. Both Yi and Jacob sat down in the sand while Artie slipped off his shirt and sandals.
"What are you doing?" Yi asked.
"I owe you a fish." Artie smiled as looked out to the ocean. "I just need one thing."
As soon as he said it, a long branch about a meter long fell from the sky. Artie picked it up as Yi and Jacob looked up to see Tobias circling before taking off toward the ocean. Artie nodded and drew his knife. He quickly whittled both ends to a sharp point.
"There we go." Artie slipped his knife back into its sheath and looked to Yi and Jacob. "See if you guys can gather some driftwood and start a fire. I shouldn't be too long."
"Are you sure?" Jacob asked. "Who knows what out there?"
"I'm not going too far out." Artie assured. "Plus I can't stay too long once I spear something. Not unless I take a rifle and a gas tank."
"I do not understand." Yi said.
"He's talking about Jaws. A movie." Jacob explained.
"Sharks, like a lot land animals, are attracted to the scent of blood." Artie lifted the spear. "One poke and there's a good chance something with lots of sharp teeth is coming to investigate and sharks tend to see if something is edible or not like every other animal. They take a bite and see if it tastes good."
Jacob and Yi turned their heads in the direction of the sound and saw small boulder barreling towards them like a cannon ball. Artie had seen it half a second before they did and, in burst of strength, managed to shove them out of the way. However, he didn't have the time to save himself. Fortunately, it wasn't a direct hit. The boulder hit the back of his left shin and it must have been going faster than he though because his world went upside down as the force flipped him on his stomach hard
Artie groaned and coughed up sand as he pushed himself up on his hand. He looked up and saw Yi and Jacob fighting with the earth giants. Yi was doing better than Jacob since his weapon was made for close combat, but not enough. Jacob was having a hard time as threw his boomerangs and yanked them back to his hands while he tried to keep out of reach of six arms. He looked over right shoulder and saw his quiver and his belt with his kopis where he left them next to Yi and Jacob's packs. He had to reach them.
Artie went to stand up, but cried out as his left leg felt it had been coated in Greek fire. He looked down and he really wished he hadn't. Artie might have seen countless medical drama in his time, but he knew he could never pass for an actual doctor. Still, he even he knew when your shin bone sticks out far enough to play horseshoes you were in for one Hades of a time. Artie had broken a few bones in his time, but it usually was something small and manageable like a finger or a small bone in his foot. All of the more serious times, like when he first tried his luck on the climbing wall at Camp Half Blood, he was lucky enough to be around people who knew how to deal with it. For the most part, even when Thorn chased him all over Central and South America, he had very lucky that he never gotten injured severely enough that he couldn't push through it and keep moving, but not this time.
He gritted his teeth and growled as he tried to move his leg, but it was like pouring molten lava on it at the slightest twitch. Even just flexing his toes was almost more than he could take. His blood felt hot against his skin as it ran down the sides and was soaked by the sand. He spared Yi and Jacob another look and they weren't doing much better. He pound the ground with fist and cursed in Portuguese. He glanced where his quiver and swallowed hard. He might not need his legs to reach them, but it wouldn't be a picnic. Like he had seen hundred of times in army films, he pushed himself on his forearms and began dragging himself across the sand to his quiver. It felt like hours with even the slightest movement sending a bolt of pain up his leg, but it was barely half a minute. He reach out toward his quiver.
"Artie!" Jacob cried. "Look out!"
That was when a foot came down hard on his outstretched hand. He cried out as he felt an enormous weight pinning his hand to the ground. He looked up to see the third giant smirking down at him with all three pairs of arm crossed. Artie barely had to time to snarl before the giant bent down and picked him up. Naturally Artie swiped with his claws, but they barely left any scratches on the monster's chest. He didn't give any hint that it had even hurt him. Of course, that didn't stop Artie from fighting with everything he had to get free.
Until the giant gripped his left shin.
"AHHHHGGGGRRRRAAHHH!" Artie howled. "Ahh — "
He was cut off by one of the giant's hand around his neck. He thought, as much as he was capable was. that whatever this was that it had one sick mind. It wasn't enough that he had gotten the drop on them, but now it had to rub it his face as it played with him. However, it was the desire to rub that smug look of its face that occupied Artie's mind.
Then suddenly, it happened.
Artie couldn't understand. One second it was slowing squeezing the life from him and clearly enjoying then its face went to shock. It looked down and frowned before it looked up at Artie.
"Not fair." it said.
Then it just collapsed into a pile of clay and Artie fell down on his butt hard, his leg reminding him for the umpteenth time it was broken. Artie bite back a yelp and looked up. At first, he thought maybe Jacob or Yi had managed to either kill or slip past the giants they were fighting and helped him, but he was wrong, mostly. Someone had come to his aid, it just wasn't human.
First he saw a deer, then the Mist faded away and it began to grow
It had the largest, impressive pair of antlers Artie had ever seen that didn't belong to a moose. They were almost hundred centimeters wide and a hundred and fifty centimeters tall and they were made of solid gold. Its hide also shined as if spun from gold with a pristine, silvery white underbelly. Even its hooves shone like precious metals, but it was bronze instead of gold. It must have stood at least two meters from hoof to shoulder. It was when it straightened up, it had impaled the giant with its antlers, and shook the clay from his its fur that got a good look at his savoir and knew what it was.
It was a Ceryianan Hind, the golden deer sacred his mother Artemis.
Before he could even say thank you, the Hind leapt over him and ran at the giant fighting Jacob. The giant must have heard the commotion because it turned just in time fore the Hind's antlers to turn his chest into a cheese grater. Instead of the golden dust that Artie and Jacob were used to seeing when monsters were killed, the giant just collapsed into a pile of clay that was swept away by the rising tide.
The third giant managed to knock Yi away and advanced on the Hind clearly eager to avenge his fallen brethren. Unable to turn and do the same, the Hind bucked up its hind legs and kicked the giant right in the chest. It didn't the giant, but it make him stagger. That was when Artie realized he had reached his belt and quiver. He pulled the quiver towards him and an arrow sprung up with a ding and a hiss. Artie knew too well that meant he wouldn't be able to draw any more arrows. He had to make this one count.
He opened his bow, nocked the arrow, took aim, and fired as he released a breath. The arrow sped toward the giant and, against all odds, he caught it by the shaft. The giant glanced his way and smirked, twirling it between his fingers.
"Why won't you die?!" Artie demanded ala Austin Powers.
Then the arrow's cylinder head clicked and the giant was engulfed in bright green flame. Even with his sunglasses, Artie looked away from the light as did the Hind and Jacob. When he looked back, the giant was still standing, but the danger had passed. It seemed that Artie had been partly right. The giant had been made of clay, but also sand and everyone knew what happened when sand was superheated or bathed in Greek fire. Artie doubted there was a single piece of art that was as weird as a six armed giant howling in agony made of baked clay and glass.
That was when the Hind reared back on its leg and smashed it to pieces.
"Just as well." Artie couldn't help, but laugh. "I'm more of a director than a sculptor."
"Artie!" Jacob ran to him. "Your leg!"
"Thanks for reminding me." Artie yelped when Jacob touched it.
"You're losing blood." Jacob said taking off his shirt.
"I'm more concerned about the bone sticking ou — AHHHHGGGGRRRRAAHHH!"
"AHHHHGGGGRRRRAAHHH!" Artie howled
"I'm sorry!" Jacob said to his brother as he pressed the shirt into his leg bleeding from the shin bone sticking out. "Just bear with me. I know it hurts."
"YOU'RE GODS DAMNED RIGHT IT HURTS!" Artie snarled at him.
"Hold still!" Jacob ordered. "Yi!"
"Yes?!" answered an Asian teenager as he run up tot them. "Are there more?"
"Hold him down!" Jacob ordered.
"Stop scratching it." Jacob sighed.
"It itches!" Artie snapped as he continued scratching at his leg.
"It'll do worse than itch if you open those stitches by scratching." Jacob chided. "The last thing you need is an infection when we're miles from the nearest hospital."
Once Jacob had stopped the bleeding and reset Artie's shin, he quickly stitched the skin together with needle and thread that Artie kept in the handle of his hunting knife. They had run out of bandages so Jacob was forced to use one of Artie's tank tops to wrap the wound. Somehow, without telling him to, Tobias brought several strong branches and a sheet, no doubt picked off a clothesline. Jacob quickly tore the sheet into long strips and used it to hold together a makeshift cast for Artie's leg. Even with the nectar in his flask and few ambrosia squares they had left, Artie wouldn't be on his feet for at least a month.
While Artie rested, Jacob and Yi set up camp and built a fire. Jacob expected the Hind, he knew what it was once he calmed down to think, to leave. Instead it just laid down behind Artie and curled around him. It reminded Jacob of a dog that had puppies that he and Artie knew when they were small children and how she would curl around them to keep them warm and to feed them. It even snatched a blanket from Yi's arms when he walked by with its mouth and draped it over Artie before eying Yi as if daring him to argue.
The sun had set when Artie finally woke up. By then, Jacob and Yi were eating rice and fish roasted over the fire. Or Yi was. Jacob was struggling with the chopsticks and he didn't want to insult Yi by looking for a fork. They stopped long enough to hand Artie a bowl and explain what had happened while he was out.
"You should listen to him. Those Earthborn could have done worst." said a voice in his head, clearly female. "The children of Lord Apollo are known for their knowledge of healing."
"I couldn't ignore him if I tried." Artie responded as he scratched under the Hind's chin. "He has his mother's overprotective and nagging ability down to an art. Are those what those monsters are called, Earthborn?"
"Yes." The Hind said. "Jason and his Argonauts fought them long ago. There are not many left since my lady Artemis and the other Olympians left these lands."
"Not that I don't appreciate the help, but what are you doing here?" Artie asked. "I thought you followed the gods."
"Lady Artemis has been very protective since Hercules." The Hind nuzzled his neck. "She reasoned where the gods settled their children would come and possibly hunt us. So she carefully chose certain ones, like me, to stay when the gods moved on should we ever be driven to extinction." The Hind licked his cheek affectionately. "I caught your scent and thought Lady Artemis had returned for exactly that, but I did not expect her child."
"You can tell?" Artie petted her snout. "Most can't even believe it even when I swear on the Styx."
"After all this time I have not forgotten the scent of my lady." The Hind curled closer around him. "You may smell mortal, but you carry too much of her to merely have been in her presence. You have her eyes and your hair shines like the moon when it is full. Not to mention you are the first mortal to able to speak with me."
"I take it you're staying?"
"You are the first and only child of my Lady Artemis." The Hind locked eyes with him. "A child she has named the King of The Hunt, an honor no other has ever claimed. I will be at your side until my death or you wish me to leave. Whichever comes first."
"How about until I'm on my feet and then we'll see." Then he asked Jacob aloud. "So how long do I have to wear this thing?"
"It's a compound fracture not a sprained ankle" Jacob said seriously. "You can't just stay off of it for a few days and forget it happened." He paused to think. "At least a month."
"A month?!" Artie cried.
"That's if you take it easy." Jacob warned. "You can't do what you always do and try to push through it. Do that and the bone won't heal right. If that happens you'll have to go to the hospital where they'll basically rebreak it and it'll start all over again."
"Alright." Artie shuddered at the thought of rebreaking his leg, painkillers or not. "What about the nectar and ambrosia we still have?"
"That was with the nectar and ambrosia." Jacob told him. "Without it, you're looking at three months at very least."
"In that case, I'm going to need three things." Artie forced a smile. "A telescope, a wheelchair, and highrise apartment."
"Excuse me?" Yi asked.
"It's a movie." Jacob explained. "Which one? I don't know."
"Hitchcock's Rear Window." Artie said. "Or Caruso's Disturbia. It's basically the same movie. All they do is change a broken leg for an ankle bracelet and an apartment building with the suburbs." Artie sighed. "Here I have the perfect excuse to do nothing but watch movies and my entire collection is back in New York."
"That reminds me." Jacob pointed to Artie's belt. "Check the map. I'd rather know now and try to figure out plan how you're going to travel to Mount Kilimanjaro."
Artie took out the map and asked. "Where are we?"
Like usual, dots and dashes crawled all over the paper until he was looking at a map of modern day Europe and Western Asia with an "X" in southwest Greece where Thermopylae was marked. Artie noticed there were fifteen symbols scattered all over. Each one of the symbols were those of the Olympians gods. A trident and net was inching its way across Spain and Artie remembered they had met Rodrigo in Portugal which was right next to Spain. It was just behind a musical note that was almost across the border between Spain and France.
In France was a little owl which Artie thought was Hershel leaving London and crossing the English Channel. That meant that Colin, the spear, wasn't that far behind as he approached London from Dublin. A hammer was currently blinking over Munich, Germany which meant Tor had left Amsterdam. He was surprising close to Antonin, who's symbol was a dove as a child of Aphrodite, who was just leaving Zurich, Switzerland. Robyn, another native Frenchmen who's symbol was his father's caduceus, was sitting in Milan, Italy. Artie then remembered Vincenzo had been in Sicily. He quickly found a grapevine hardly an inch east of Palermo in Messina. Lief's symbol was a snowflake since his mother had been Khinoe, who probably had the longest journey from Hell, Norway, was nestled in Copenhagen, Sweden.
Artie quickly looked west and found that Grigory, a child of Hecate, was represented as book had just crossed the border from Russia into Ukraine. Far to the southwest were two corn stalks that belong to the Dumitra twins, sons of Demeter, in northern Bulgaria. In Asia, Turkey to be exact, was rainbow that belonged to Elvan was fast departing the capital of Istanbul on his way out while Aviv was approaching from Cyprus into Turkey.
"Alright." Artie nodded once. "Where do we need to go?"
From each of symbols a dotted line sprang from it and all stopped on a single location, Thermopylae, Greece.
"Well?" Jacob asked.
"Step one. Sneak our America without anyone knowing. Check." Artie began rolling up the map. "Step two. Find, arm, and recruit any demigods we come across. Check."
"You don't mean . . ." Jacob said almost in a whisper.
"Yep." Artie stowed away the map. "On to step three. Train."
A/N - There you have it. It's finally done. I hope you enjoyed it and sorry it took so long, but life always has other plans. If your curious about the other demigods that didn't get their own chapters, I'll get to them when I start the next fic which will entail all of the hardships of training a spartan army while Percy and the gang are dealing with the Labyrinth and finally dealing with the Princess Andromeda
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Artie GalleziWrite a Review