Where it Started
I had no idea how rude of an awakening we were in for. I should have seen it coming after I was woken up half way through the night and I saw what was on the TV. Justin usually had trouble sleeping at night and I was used to him waking me up at some ungodly hour of the morning and keeping me up until he could sleep again. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when he shook me awake at five in the morning.
“Hey Hirius,” Justin said, “Check it out, you’re on TV.”
I thought he was just messing with me, but a pit formed in my stomach as I realized that he was right. On the TV was a picture of me, a recent one that looked like it had been snapped while I was passing through a town a few weeks ago. I was standing outside of some kind of convenience store as I waited around, probably for Justin, with an irritated look on my face. A woman could be heard speaking, but my picture was all that could be seen.
“This picture was taken several weeks ago,” the woman said, “The suspect was last seen near Las Vegas and…”
Before anything more could be said, I snatched the remote from Justin and turned the TV off. The room went pitch black. I looked at Justin, who seemed to be wondering what was going on. I couldn’t believe that this thing was still haunting me. I hadn’t had any trouble with the incident from D.C. in so long that I had completely forgotten about it.
“What’s she talking about,” Justin asked, “They were saying something earlier about you being armed and probably dangerous and a lot of other stuff. They never mentioned you by name though.”
I could tell that Justin wasn’t going to let me get away without explaining myself, but I was too tired to go through it all. “Look,” I said, “I promise to tell you later, but let me sleep for now.”
“Alright,” he said without argument, “But you owe me an explanation in the morning.” I nodded to let him know that I understood and he went back to his bed.
I should have known better. I should have realized that hearing about it after all this time meant that it was going to come back to bite me soon. I should have woken Sarah up and dragged her and Justin out of Las Vegas the minute I saw that report. There were a million things that I should have done, but I was too comfortable and too tired. I just kept thinking that there was no way that it would bother me again. I couldn’t have realized how wrong I was.
It was around noon when I was woken up by the sound of our room’s door being kicked in. I shot up, thinking that we were under attack, and went into action, but I was too slow. Four police officers rushed into the room, each armed with a hand gun. Two of them held me at gunpoint and the other two were on Sarah, who was still barely awake.
“Room secure,” one of the officers said, “Terrorist suspect is being detained.”
One of the officers began to move toward me. I got up from my bed and he stepped away from me. A second officer fell in next to the first. Both of them had their weapons pointed at me while the other two were holding Sarah down as she struggled to break free of them. The officers had yet to realize that Justin was in the room. He may have had trouble getting to sleep, but once he was out he was out.
“Don’t try anything funny,” one of the officer’s said.
The second moved toward me. I was still half asleep and by that point thinking that these guys were all monsters. I started to try and call my sword, but at that moment Sarah broke free of one of her captor’s grip, unsheathed her dagger, and swung at him. The officer retreated from the weapon, but the blade connected. The magical metal passed right through him, leaving the man stunned.
“What in the world,” Sarah yelled.
“They’re mortal,” I screamed as it finally hit me.
I ceased trying to summon my sword and instead formed a shade that shot forward and sent all four officers flying through the room. Each of them slammed into the walls of the hotel room. Justin was shaken awake and fell off of his bed. He rolled over, stood up, and groaned at me.
“What’s going on,” he asked, “Is it breakfast time already?”
“Run,” Sarah and I yelled in unison.
Luckily, Justin was quicker than we were in the morning. He pulled his ring off, which grew into his bow in an instant, and joined us as we ran out of the door.
Outside, we came across two more officers who tried to stop us. One of them grabbed Justin by the wrist, but he got away from him pretty easily and I threw the man, and his partner, away from us with my powers and they flew into the hotel room. Sarah closed the door as the men hit the floor inside and Justin and I pulled a rather heavy table over and used it to block the room.
“What now,” Sarah asked, “There has to be more.”
Normally, I would have wondered why she wasn’t questioning why we were being chased by the police in the first place, but I was too worried about how we were going to escape to think about that. “Stay close to me,” I said.
I pulled the shadows, what little I had to work with, in and around us. It was a strenuous task when it was the middle of the day, but I managed to force a small bubble of darkness to surround us. It would hide us, but it wouldn’t be perfect. I urged Sarah and Justin to move closer to me so that they would be hidden a little better.
On my command, the three of us darted for the staircase and made our way to the first floor of the hotel. We ran outside and were stunned at what we were seeing. The entire Las Vegas police force must have been on the street in front of our hotel. They had the road completely blocked off and were directing anyone trying to walk down the street away from the area. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say they were getting ready for a war.
As we appeared on the street, several officers surrounding the door looked over at us, but none of them seemed to realize we were there. To a monster or another demigod, we would probably appear as though we were in freeze frame. One minute we would be there, then we were gone, then we would appear again after several seconds, almost like a broken record. I could usually make us completely invisible, but I didn’t have enough darkness to work with. As far as mortals were concerned, well, they could be seeing anything as long as it made sense to them.
I motioned for my friends to slow down and vaguely signed for them to move slowly and not to make a sound. We were still invisible, but that didn’t mean that the officers couldn’t hear us. Even if most of them would pass us off as a ghost or the wind or some other nonsense, there was always that one stubborn mortal that dared to question the rational explanations.
We moved slowly across the street, trying to keep in the shadow of the hotel. Eventually we had to step out into the light. That was when things went horribly wrong. The minute I stepped out of the shadows, I felt my head begin to spin and my limbs turning to jelly. I was going to collapse at any moment from the strain of using my powers. I had to get us out of this fast.
I spotted a truck parked on the side of the street not too far from us. I motioned for Justin and Sarah to run for it. We were nearly there when my legs gave out and I fell forward towards the pavement. Justin caught me just before I hit the ground and I barely managed to keep from falling unconscious. I struggled to keep us invisible, but I was too weak and the shadows left us exposed.
“Help me here,” Justin said as he wrapped one of my arms around his shoulders.
Sarah quickly did the same with my other arm and the two of them dragged me toward the truck, luckily knowing where I was headed. They pulled me across the street in broad daylight, somehow managing not to draw any attention. They lifted me up onto the back bumper of the truck and opened the trailer. I fell backward and let myself be enveloped by the shadows. The truck revved to life as Justin helped Sarah up into the trailer. As we pulled away, I just had time to catch a glimpse of one of the officers turning and looking at us and for a dreadful moment, I thought we were going to be caught. I was relieved when he turned away again, completely ignoring our presence.
“What just happened,” Justin said as he closed the trailer door, “And someone please get me some light.”
I focused on the shadows and pulled forth the magically powered camp light we had taken from Stheno’s camp in the desert. I flicked it on and my nausea came back in an instant. Justin and Sarah seemed calmed now that they were able to see again, but I still needed to regain my energy after the strain I had put on myself. I crawled away into the darkness so that my friends would just barely be able to see me.
“That’s better,” Justin said turning his bow back into its ring form, “Now, again, can someone PLEASE tell me what just happened!”
I was hardly looking forward to this. I didn’t have much reason to be worried, after all I didn’t actually hide this from them, but I was afraid that they wouldn’t take it that way. I looked between the two of them, wondering what they would think. Justin looked like he was ready to punch a wall, but Sarah looked uneasy. Actually, it looked like this whole event was bothering her as much as it was me.
“It’s my fault,” Sarah said before I could speak up, “They came here looking for me.”
“What,” Justin said, “But why?”
“I don’t know,” Sarah went on, “I heard one of them say something about me resembling a girl from a poster or something. I think that my father may actually be looking for me.”
“He might be,” I said, “But you really think they would send that many cops to catch one girl?”
“No,” Sarah admitted after taking a moment to think it through, “But that’s the only thing that makes sense. He must have seen that his card had been used and figured out that I was at that hotel.”
“Maybe he did,” I went on, “But I still don’t think that many cops would have shown up. No, I’m afraid this one’s on me.”
“You,” Justin asked, “Wait. Does this have something to do with what I saw on the news last night?”
I sighed, “Yes.”
Justin appeared unfazed by my answer. From the look on his face, I could tell that he already knew what I would say, but just wanted some kind of confirmation. I eyed him closely, thinking that he might do something crazy like he had last time. He just watched and waited for me to start explaining myself. I told them everything that happened in Washington D.C., or everything that was necessary at least. The whole time I spoke, Sarah kept her eyes on her dagger.
“So that’s it,” I said when I finished, “I’m a fugitive because I used a national monument to kill a Cyclopes. And now the whole country pretty much wants me dead.”
Justin was quiet for a long time. He looked the same way he had after I told him that I was a son of Hades. “So you hid this from me too.”
“No,” I said, “I would’ve told you, but after everything that happened after D.C. I thought that the whole thing had blown over. I honestly forgot about it myself.”
“You expect me to believe that,” Justin retorted, “That it just slipped your mind that you’re a wanted criminal.”
“He’s not lying,” Sarah cut in before things could get messy.
“He’s not lying,” she said again.
“How do you know that,” Justin asked. Sarah gave him a quick run-down of her dagger’s special power. After she finished, Justin eyed her suspiciously. “I guess I should watch what I say from now on then.” He turned to look at me again. “I guess that can’t be helped then,” he said.
“You’re not mad,” I asked.
“Eh,” Justin said as he sat down, his back leaned against the side of the trailer, “An entire country trying to catch us isn’t nearly as bad as the monsters chasing us.” A smile crossed his face as he said that. “There’s just one more thing I’d like to know,” he looked over at me again, “Why does your father want to talk to us so badly?”
“Yeah, that,” I said, “I’ve been meaning to tell you, but I haven’t gotten the chance.”
I told Justin all about the prophecy, what little I knew of it anyway. Throughout my explanation, he remained silent. As I spoke the words, I thought back on every time I had heard a mention of the prophecy. Most of them were from my father, but there was also the manticore in Morenci, and then there were also the dreams, which I told them both about. Even though I wasn’t sure what that dream had to do with the prophecy, I was sure that it was important.
“So, not only are you a fugitive,” Justin said after I finished my explanation, “But you’re also the son of the most feared god in Greek mythology AND you might be the key to destroying Olympus.”
“That pretty much sums it up,” I said.
“Sounds like fun.”
Through the rest of the trip, we talked about what we were going to do once we were in Los Angeles, assuming that was where this truck was going, and what we would do if it wasn’t. We also exchanged our ideas on the prophecy and what it might mean, combining what we knew from Hades and my other encounters. The only thing we could all agree on was that whoever was talking to me from the pit was probably the ‘lord’ that the manticore had mentioned.
We also talked about our upcoming meeting with Hades. All of us were worried about what he might do when we met with him. If he decided to get rid of us then there wasn’t much that we could do about it. We were all in agreement to keep our distance from him and keep our weapons ready when the time came.
As we discussed Hades, an idea came to me. He had lied to me before, maybe not directly, but he had stretched the truth more than a few times. What if he was leading us into some kind of trap? He might give me some task that was supposed to help me, but ultimately got me, or Justin and Sarah, killed. I couldn’t let something like that happen. I had to make sure that whatever he told me was the truth.
Before I could finish that thought, however, the truck pulled to a stop and the engine died after a few seconds. Justin got up and opened the trailer. The three of us jumped out and ran for the nearest hiding place, which happened to be an alleyway a few feet from where the truck had stopped.
“So where are we,” Justin asked.
“I’m not sure,” I said.
I peeked my head out of the alleyway and scanned the surrounding buildings. Wherever we were, it had seen better days. The streets were in pretty bad shape being covered in pot-holes and cracks. The sidewalks, or what was left of them, were in no better shape. The few buildings nearby all looked like they were abandoned and had been so for a decent amount of time. There were only two places that looked like they were in decent shape, the one the truck had stopped in front of and another one on the other side of the street about a block down. The place down the street had a sign in front of it that took me a moment to read. Dead On Arrival (DOA) Recording Studios.
“This can’t be a coincidence,” I said.
“What,” Justin asked.
“The place where Hades wants to meet us is right down the street.”
“That’s good,” Sarah said, “At least now we don’t have to worry about how we’re getting there.”
“Maybe,” I said.
Justin and Sarah were happy enough that we were where we needed to be, but I was skeptical. There was no way that a truck that just happened to be in the right place at the right time would just happen to take us to the exact city and to the exact building where we needed to go. And that trip didn’t take nearly as long as it should have. I looked over at the truck just before the driver hoped into the seat and sped off down the road. I only caught a glimpse of him before he disappeared, but I was sure that he was something that Hades had sent.
“Alright,” Justin said walking past me, “Let’s go.”
“Hang on,” I said.
Justin stopped and faced me, a bit of confusion showing on his face. Maybe Hades was just trying to help us along, but I didn’t believe that for a second. This was all too convenient to be a coincidence and thinking about it only strengthened my suspicions that Hades was up to something. Now I really needed to find a way to know whether he was going to be lying or not.
“Sarah,” I said turning to her, “I need a favor from you.”
“From me,” she asked, “Why?”
“Your dagger,” I went on, “Truth. I need you to use it and tell me if Hades is lying to us or not.”
She stared at me in silence for a moment. “Hirius,” she said, “You do realize that I was planning on doing that anyway, right?”
“Yes, actually,” I said, “But I’m not sure how Hades would react if he found out what you were doing. He might turn on us, or just you, or he might do something worse that I don’t want to think about. Look, the point is that it could be dangerous and I want to make sure that you know that. You can back out if you want, but I really need your help with this.”
Sarah’s gaze went down to the ground for a moment as she fell silent. I must have scared her pretty good because she was like that for a long time. I hoped that she would still agree to do this for me.
“Okay,” Sarah said, “I’ll do it.”
“But,” Sarah went on before I could leave it at that, “I need a favor from you too.”
I was caught off guard by her words, but I agreed anyway.
Sarah was quiet for a moment before she spoke up. “I’ve been thinking about what you said to me when we were at the hotel, about my father,” she said, “He lives just outside of Los Angeles and I was hoping that you would take the time to let me go and see him.”
She wouldn’t look at me after she said that. Whether it was to hide what she was thinking or just because she was afraid to was hard to tell. “Are you sure,” I asked.
“Wait a minute,” Justin said, “I don’t know much about this guy, but he must be pretty bad if you ran away from home. Do you really want to see him again?”
“Justin,” she said without hesitation, “This is something that I need to do.”
“Do you plan on staying with him,” Justin asked.
I turned to look at him, surprised that he was asking something like that. I didn’t think that it was our business whether Sarah went back to her family or stayed with us, but I could also understand where Justin might be coming from. I saw genuine fear in his eyes, the first time I had seen him really afraid. Something about losing Sarah was actually scaring him to death.
“No,” Sarah said after a time, “I just want to see him.” We were all quiet. “Look, I promise that no matter what happens I’ll stay with you guys and help you find your sister and figure out what this prophecy is and your role in it, but I need to do this first.”
None of us spoke for a time. Justin shifted his gaze from me to Sarah and then to the ground as if the whole world was beginning to weigh on him. I was a bit scared myself. We may not have known her for very long, but Sarah had become a very important friend to us and I knew that neither one of us was prepared to lose her. At the same time, I could tell that she was determined to do this no matter what. We probably risked losing her even more so if we didn’t agree to help her.
“Okay,” I said.
Sarah looked up at me, her eyes widening. “Thank you,” she yelled as she threw her arms around me.
“Don’t thank me yet,” I said as she pulled away from me, “You still need to uphold your end of the bargain.”
“No problem,” she said as she drew Truth from its sheath.
With that, I walked out from the alleyway and onto the empty street. Justin followed me close in step as we made our way over to DOA Recording Studios. Sarah was following behind us, keeping in step, but staying a few feet behind.
“Are you sure about this,” Justin whispered to me as we walked.
I shrugged. “Not really,” I said, “But I don’t think we had a choice. She was going to see her father with or without us.”
Justin didn’t seem satisfied with my answer, but he dropped the subject regardless. As we approached the recording studio, I kept my senses up in case anything that might go wrong did go wrong. I was so sure that we would be attacked at any moment that I nearly ran into the doors of the place.
We stood outside and looked at the building. It wasn’t much, just an old looking building that no one would give a second glance to if they were walking past on a mid-day stroll. The only thing that really seemed weird about the place was the fact that all of the windows were darkened so that no one, not even me, could see what was going on inside. Even the glass door was like that.
I was about to take the first steps to entering the place, when a voice stopped me. “So good of you to arrive,” I heard it say, “It feels like I’ve been waiting for ages.”
The three of us looked toward the voice. At the corner of the building stood a man dressed from head to toe in plain black clothing that looked as if it were weaved out of departed souls. The man had thick black hair and a short beard to match. His skin was as pale as a ghost’s and his eyes gave the illusion that he was a corpse walking among the living. It was the first time I had looked directly upon Hades’ face.
“Hades,” I said, “I didn’t recognize you when you weren’t hiding.”
“Rude as ever,” Hades retorted.
“THAT’S the god of the dead,” Justin asked a bit of a chuckle escaping his lips. Sarah elbowed him in the side before he could say more.
Hades turned his gaze on Justin, a look of clear irritation in his eyes. “Yes,” Hades roared the ground shaking as he spoke, “I am the god of the Underworld, ruler of the kingdom of the dead. Would you like me to prove it to you!?”
Justin retreated a few steps. “No sir,” he managed.
Apparently satisfied with that, Hades turned back to me, inviting me to come and speak with him. I walked forward. Justin and Sarah moved with me, but I motioned for them to stay a few feet behind me, just in case. As I approached the god, the air began to grow cold, despite the fact that it was the middle of the afternoon and sunny out. I was beginning to feel like I was in the Underworld again.
“Alright,” I said after a moment, “I’m here.”
Hades smiled. “So you are,” he said, “And so now you shall learn.”
“About your sister.”
My eyes flicked over to Sarah. It was a flash of motion that anyone would have a hard time picking up, but she got the message. She was already focusing her dagger so that she could see Hades’ reflection in it. She flinched when she managed to find Hades, something clearly wrong with what she was seeing, but she nodded to me to let me know that she was ready.
“What about her,” I asked.
“It’s time you found out where to find her,” Hades said.
I hesitated for a moment, wondering what Hades was getting at. “You know where I can find her,” I asked.
“I cannot tell you exactly where she is,” Hades said, “Only that she is heading for Camp Half-Blood on Long Island. If you hurry, you may be able to get there in time to catch her before she leaves.”
I had a hard time finding my voice after that. I wasn’t sure if I could trust what Hades was telling me, but if he was right then I could be closer than ever to finding my sister. But then, even if I started for New York right away, there was no telling how long it would take Emily to get there or how long she would be there once she arrived, Hades implied that she wouldn’t be there long. And who knew how long it would take me to get to New York anyway. It did take me three years to get to California after all. I was about to speak up when I heard someone scream.
“Sarah,” I heard Justin yell.
I turned around in time to see Justin catch Sarah, who had fallen unconscious, just before she hit the ground. Truth fell from her hand and clattered on the pavement by her feet. Justin held her up and tried to get her to wake up, but she was out cold. It was clear that something had gone horribly wrong.
I turned back to Hades who was now looking down at the unconscious girl in front of him. There was no clear sign that he was at all surprised at her fainting. I could only guess that he had done something to her. He must have seen what she was doing and decided to get her out of the way before she ruined his plans.
I summoned Heartstopper and pointed the tip at Hades’ face. “What did you do to her,” I asked. The god seemed unfazed by my weapon.
“What the hell happened,” Justin said, “Is she okay?”
“She isn’t dead,” Hades and I said at the same time.
I gave the god a hard stare. The last thing that I needed was to be reminded that I was the son of the god of the dead. “What did you do to her,” I asked again.
“I did nothing to her,” Hades said. He looked down at Sarah’s dagger lying on the ground. “One of Aphrodite’s tricks, a dagger that can see the truth. Unfortunately, when used on a god she is shown their true form.” He paused for a moment and let out a chuckle before continuing. “She’s lucky it was only a reflection, otherwise she would be in real danger.”
I looked back at Sarah and then at Hades again. My blade never moved from where it was. “What are you talking about,” I asked.
“A god’s true form can turn even the strongest demigod to dust,” he said, “Your friend only saw a reflection of my true form. She will be unconscious for a few hours, but she will live.”
I looked back at Sarah again. She was breathing normally, but she had yet to wake up. I got rid of my sword and rushed over to her side. There was sweat running down her forehead like she had been trying to lift something that was way too heavy for her. I took her free arm and draped it over my shoulder so I could help Justin keep her up. Hades watched the scene in silence.
“Go to Camp Half-Blood,” he said, “You will learn the rest of your destiny there.”
He began to glow and I felt that I should look away immediately. I urged Justin to do the same, but I wasn’t sure if he got the message. A flash of light went off and when I looked up afterward, Hades was gone. It was like no one had ever been there in the first place. Justin was looking at the spot where Hades had been in awe.
“Well,” he said, “That was interesting.”
“Yeah,” I said.
Sarah stirred between us, but she showed no sign of waking up. “So what now,” Justin asked, “We can’t go anywhere while she’s in this condition.”
I looked around. “I think our only choice is to hold up in one of these buildings,” I said.
Justin nodded and we made our way to one of the buildings. The door was boarded up, but it was easy enough for us to break through it. We found our way to the second floor of the place where we found a bed. We lay Sarah on the bed and let her rest for the time being. While we waited, we sat down in a couple of chairs in the room.
“This is just our luck,” Justin said, “One night we’re sleeping in a luxury hotel, and the next we’re sleeping in an old run-down building that’ll probably collapse in on us.”
I didn’t answer him. I was too worried about what would happen to Sarah. I looked at her dagger, which I had retrieved from the sidewalk and was now holding. I wondered how it was supposed to work, but I imagined that I couldn’t understand it even if Aphrodite explained it to me. I felt like I was going to throw up as I looked at the blade. I was starting to think that Sarah’s condition was my fault.
“Hirius,” Justin said bringing me back from my thoughts, “You okay?”
I kept my eyes on Sarah’s dagger and didn’t answer Justin for a long time. I couldn’t help thinking that I had nearly gotten Sarah killed. If I hadn’t asked her to do this in the first place, she wouldn’t have had to put herself in danger like she had. I should have ignored Hades when he told me to come to Los Angeles in the first place. I was starting to wonder if finding Emily was worth putting my friends’ lives at risk. Maybe it would be better if I was on my own again.
“This is my fault,” I said.
“Don’t start with that,” Justin said, “Sarah knew she was putting herself in danger.”
“But I didn’t have to ask her to put herself in danger,” I said, “I should have kept her from going through with it.”
“You know she wouldn’t have listened to you if you tried,” Justin said, “She never seems to trust anyone easily.”
“I guess,” I said.
I wasn’t convinced. I was the one that asked Sarah to use Truth on Hades. I knew the danger she was putting herself into and I even warned her about what might happen, and I still put her in harm’s way. No matter how I tried to look at it, it was all my fault.
“Look,” Justin said, “Maybe you should just get your mind off of it. Maybe try to get some sleep.”
I nodded. I wasn’t really tired, but I did think that I should try and forget about what happened. I tossed Sarah’s dagger to Justin, who put it on a nightstand by the bed. I tried to get comfortable in the chair I was in, but the thing was ancient and I felt like I was trying to sleep on a piece of plywood. I lay uncomfortably for a while, but I finally managed to get to sleep. That was when I had the strangest dream yet.
I was standing in that cave in the underworld again. I stared down into what seemed like infinite darkness. An evil presence could be felt from somewhere in the pit. It was far below me, but I could feel it rising higher and higher with the passing seconds trying to drag me down into the pit with it. I heard a voice speaking to me, saying the same thing over and over again. It whispered at first, but it grew louder over time until it felt as though it were screaming at me.
“One more step,” it said.
I stood shaking, the presence trying to drag me into the pit and me fighting against it, trying to stand my ground and keep from falling into the darkness. I tried to move away, I tried to run, I tried to do something, but I couldn’t move. I was caught by a choice, either jump into the pit and find who knew what down there, or run and never think about this place again. I knew what I wanted to do, but something powerful was trying to force me into the trench. I stepped forward and fell into the darkness.
I had no idea how far I was going to fall or how long it would take to get there. I couldn’t see anything, which was unusual for me. The only other time I had ever been in a place where I couldn’t see was when I first attempted shadow travel and got trapped in the world of shadows. That was three years ago. Losing my sight was still the scariest thing I could possibly imagine.
I fell deeper and deeper, thinking now that the pit was endless. That was when it opened up and a red light filled the air. Blood red clouds were in the air surrounding me. Below me, there was nothing but solid ground, and nothing that I could use to stop myself from being splattered all over it.
From what I could see, I was falling into a large dome like cave. It looked to be empty. The only thing that I could see was a large golden sarcophagus in the center of the room that was glowing bright enough to light the entire cave. The thing looked far too big for any human that I knew. Maybe it was for a god…Or something worse. I could feel the presence from before resonating from the sarcophagus. It felt ancient and evil.
I fell toward the ground faster. I tried to pull the shadows around me in a desperate attempt to slow my decent, but I couldn’t seem to do anything. The ground came closer and closer. I heard the voice from before beginning to laugh. I was only inches from becoming the world’s first demigod pancake. I closed my eyes and waited for the impact.
“Hirius,” I heard Justin yell.
I woke with a start and immediately tried to cover my face with my hands like I was defending myself from some kind of invisible enemy. Once I realized that I was safe, I opened my eyes and looked down at myself, wondering whether I was still alive or not. I was sitting on the floor now, having fallen out of the chair at some point while I slept. Justin was standing behind me and looking at me like I was some kind of crazy person. Sarah was sitting up in the bed, awake now, with her hands covering her mouth.
“Dude,” Justin said approaching me slowly and kneeling down in front of me, “What the heck happened? You looked fine for a while and then you suddenly started screaming. You threw yourself off of the chair and started flailing around like a mad man. I thought you were having a seizure or something.”
“I’m fine,” I said, “Just a bad dream.”
“You have a lot of those huh?”
“All part of being a demigod,” I said as I stood up. I looked over at Sarah, who had finally calmed herself down. “What about you,” I said, “You scared me when you passed out before.”
She sat quietly for a moment before answering. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I’m alright now, I woke up when you started having your fit.”
“Wait,” I said, “How long was I out?”
Justin thought for a moment. “A couple hours,” he said.
I would never get over how these dreams worked. If you asked me, I would tell you that I had been asleep for a couple of minutes at most. That was what it felt like anyway. It was hard to wrap my head around the fact that hours of sleep could only feel like minutes, especially when my dreams felt so real.
I sat down on the edge of the bed. Justin came over and sat near me and Sarah crawled up and sat between the two of us.
“So what happened to you,” Sarah asked, “You scared me half to death.”
“Sorry about that,” I said, “But wait until you hear this.”
I told them about the dream that I had. Justin felt the need to make a joke about me falling off of my chair and me falling into a nearly endless pit in the Underworld, but I chose to ignore him. Sarah took the liberty of elbowing him in the side when he interrupted me, which I was glad that she did. As I talked about the end of my dream, the three of us discussed what we all thought about the sarcophagus. We all knew that it had to be the ‘lord’ that the manticore mentioned when I fought him.
“Do you know where that place is,” Sarah asked when I finished talking about the dream, “I mean I know you said it was in the Underworld, but…”
“It was Tartarus,” I said completely sure of myself.
“Tartarus,” Justin asked, “You mean like ‘monster infested, most evil place in existence, no demigod, mortal, or god should ever go there’? That Tartarus?”
I nodded. I wasn’t sure how I knew that I had fallen into Tartarus in my dream, but I knew that was what that place was. And the sarcophagus, something was familiar about it. I remembered a story from the old Greek myths. Something about the gods and their father, they had chopped him into pieces and sealed him in Tartarus where he couldn’t bother them. What was his name again?
“You don’t think this prophecy has anything to do with you going to Tartarus do you,” Sarah asked.
I shook my head. “I don’t know,” I said as I stood up.
I was starting to get worried. If the prophecy really did have something to do with me going to Tartarus then I was sure to end up dragging my friends down there with me. There was no way that I was going to make them go through that. If I had to go into Tartarus then I was going in alone.
I must have been showing my thoughts because Justin said, “Something’s bothering you.”
“Yeah,” I said facing them, “After what happened. I’m not sure about you guys coming with me anymore. I mean if I really have to go…”
“Stop it,” Justin said as he stood up, “We’ve been through too much already for you to try and leave me behind now. Even if you go to Tartarus, I’m coming with you.” I stared at him for a moment at a loss for words. Justin smiled. “What,” he asked, “You didn’t think it would be that easy to get rid of me did you?” He looked over at Sarah. “And I’m sure our new friend feels the same.”
Sarah stood up and joined us, all three of us standing in a triangle. “I’m right there with you guys,” she said, “Even if we have to go through hell itself, I’ll be right there fighting beside you.”
I stood in shock, unable to find the right words. “Thank you,” I said after a moment, “I really don’t know how to show you guys how much that means to me, but thank you.”
“Group hug,” Justin called. Before either of us could complain, Justin threw one of his arms around my shoulders and the other around Sarah’s and pulled us into a hug. I wrapped my free arm over Sarah’s shoulders, and she did the same with me and Justin. We stood in our embrace, enjoying the moment.
“Well then,” Justin said as we pulled away, “I guess it’s off to this Camp Half-Blood.”
“Hang on,” Sarah said looking over at me, “Somebody still owes me a favor.”
“Right,” I said, “So first we go to meet your father.”
“And THEN we go to Camp Half-Blood,” Justin said, “Right?
“Yes,” I said, “Then we head to New York.” As we left the building, I whispered to myself, “Looks like I’m going back to where it started.”