For Whom the Bell Tolls
As confident as I looked as I marched ahead of everyone, in reality, I was actually having a mental breakdown. I didn’t know anything about fighting on such a large scale. I remembered how Justin had pointed out that I was always the one calling the shots in our group. I couldn’t deny that he was actually right about that. I never realized it before, but I was always the one that had the final say on what we did, where we went, how we fought, everything. Sarah and Justin would always look to me for guidance. But none of that was anything like this. Back then, it was just the three of us, and we never had more than a handful of enemies to deal with. This was a full on confrontation of two forces large enough to call themselves a small army. There was no way that I could handle something like this, but I knew that I had to. Everyone was counting on me to do it. I was just glad that Annabeth offered to help me.
On our way to Half-Blood Hill, Annabeth walked next to me and offered to be my second in command, which I gladly accepted. I was glad that I had someone to take some of the pressure off of me, especially a daughter of Athena. She had a great idea for the battle too. Her plan was for us to split up into two groups, each about half the size of the whole. One group, being led by Clarisse, would march to the crest of Half-Blood Hill and meet the enemy head on while the second group, led by Luke, would try and flank them. Clarisse and Luke would head the two forces, but Annabeth and I were the go to between the two groups, communication being handled by a set of walkie-talkies. We had the final say before either group made a move.
Our two groups split off at the Big House. I marched up to the crest with the first group, which consisted of Apollo’s cabin, Ares’ cabin, Aphrodite’s, and Demeter’s, while Annabeth went with group two, consisting of Hermes’ cabin, Athena’s, Hephaestus’, and Dionysus’. I was glad that Justin and Sarah were with my group. If nothing else, I would at least have two people around that I was used to giving orders to.
We came to the crest of the hill and looked over it. The field was empty beyond the camp. I looked around to see if I could spot anything, but there was nothing in sight. Just when I thought that we may have gotten off easy, I heard the same roar in the distance followed by several other sounds that I had a hard time distinguishing. They weren’t there yet, but our enemy was on its way.
Clarisse appeared next to me. “We have a few minutes to prepare,” she told me, “I say we use them.”
I nodded. “We’ll have the advantage,” I said, “For a little bit at least.”
“How should we take them,” Clarisse asked, “I say head on.” She held her spear up like she was warding off an attacking monster.
I thought for a moment. “Apollo cabin is with us for a reason,” I said seeing why Annabeth had split the camp up like she had, “We’ll place our archers at the top of the hill where they’ll have a good vantage point. They should be able to fire several volleys into the enemy force before they get close to us. Once they’re confused and scattered by the attack, the rest of us can charge in. With any luck, we’ll be able to end this without taking too many losses.”
Clarisse stared at me for a moment with a hint of surprise. Even I was caught off guard by what had just come out of my mouth. I didn’t actually think that I would come up with anything short of charging in blindly. I didn’t even really think of it actually, it just kind of came out for some reason like the battle was already playing out in my head and I was seeing the best way to defeat the enemy.
“Brilliant,” Clarisse said, “A bit more showy than I would’ve liked, but brilliant otherwise.”
Justin and Sarah came out of the crowd of demigods standing behind us. “Hey,” Justin called, “You two done exchanging sweet nothings yet?” Sarah hit him in the arm, a bit harder than she usually would when he was being annoying. “Ow,” Justin yelled, “What was that for?”
Sarah wouldn’t answer him. She just stood there with an angry look on her face and refused to meet either mine or Justin’s eyes. Something was definitely bothering her. I had never seen her so mad before. I mean, I had seen her when she was upset with Justin, but this was different. Something was eating at her and it was more than just the fact that Justin was being Justin.
“Can you be serious for once,” I asked.
“I can,” he said, “But that doesn’t mean that I have to.”
I shook my head at him. “Just stay focused when the time to fight comes.”
Justin saluted me like I was some kind of high ranking military general. “Aye-aye captain,” he said. With that, he walked off and joined his cabin mates again.
I told Clarisse to relay my plan to the rest of the group. While she did, Sarah and I stood next to each other, each of us looking out at the skyline outside of the camp. Storm clouds were gathered around the camp’s barriers, the magical wall keeping all of the bad weather out. I knew that it had to be raining and probably storming outside of the camp though. Zeus must have been really ticked off about his master bolt missing.
“Sarah,” I said as we stood there. She never answered me, but I went on. “What do you think,” I asked, “About me being a leader, I mean.”
She stood and stared off into the distance for a long time before she spoke up. “I think everyone was right to choose you,” she said, “Justin said that you were the one that made the decisions for us, and you always managed to get us out alive.” She paused for a moment. “No matter what you think about yourself,” she said, “You were the right choice, and I know you’re going to get everyone through this.”
“Thanks,” I said with a smile. I knew that she was probably just saying it to make me feel better, but it worked. I had to lead the campers into battle, there was no turning away from that now, but hearing someone tell me that I could do, well, it just made me feel a little less doubtful.
We stood in silence after that. I felt kind of strange as I stood there with her and my thoughts trailed back to the previous night, when I spoke to Sarena. That was the first time I had ever thought of Sarah as more than just a friend. Even if I had done so only for a second, thinking about it while we stood side by side felt kind of strange, but it also felt right in a way. It would have been nice if I could’ve had all day to stand there and think about it, but our time was interrupted.
“Sarah,” I heard Silena call.
The two of us turned around to see her waving like she was calling her half-sister over. Sarah looked at me, the first time she had done so since her and Justin had come out of the crowd. I think she was trying to tell me something, but she wasn’t able to find the right words. In the end, she walked off with Silena. Before I lost sight of the two of them, I saw Sarah shaking her head like she was telling Silena that she hadn’t done something, but what she was trying to say was lost to me.
Before I could think about it too much, Clarisse came up to me. “Everyone’s ready,” she said, “On your order.” I nodded my approval.
I heard Annabeth’s voice come through my walkie-talkie. “We’re all set over here, Hirius,” she said, “We’ll attack once you give the order.”
I looked off into the horizon. The sun was just starting to set and the world was beginning to plunge into darkness. At the edge of my vision, just barely within sight, was the army of monsters from the night before. Panic gripped me as the army drew closer and I realized that it had nearly doubled in size. I looked back at my group. There were only about fifty of us on the hill and another fifty waiting for the order to flank. That made a little over a hundred in all. The army marching toward us had to be at least two maybe even three-hundred strong. We were outnumbered at least two to one.
I looked over the faces of the demigods as they caught sight of the monsters, each of them turning to looks of despair as they saw them. Even Clarisse looked like she was starting to turn pale at the sight of the massive army. I saw a few of them drop their weapons, some falling to their knees, and others praying to the Olympians for some kind of help.
I looked at the monsters again, having closed about half the distance to Half-Blood Hill now. I was beginning to feel like there was no hope for us. No matter how powerful any of us were, there was no way that we could defeat an army this large, not when we were so outnumbered. Then I remembered the Cyclopes from D.C., and the Hydra, and the Dragon, and every other monster I had ever faced. I thought about every time the odds had been against me and every time that I managed to pull through one way or another. It was because I refused to give up. No matter what challenge I faced, I never gave in, I always kept fighting, and I always found a way to win. This was no different. I had to fight, we had to fight, and we had to find a way to defeat these monsters.
I turned to my troops. “This doesn’t look good does it,” I said, “It almost looks…hopeless.” I fell silent and watched as everyone’s gaze turned to me. “But that’s what a demigod’s life is, isn’t it? Hopeless,” I went on. “The odds are always stacked against us, almost like the Fates want us to lose every time.” Some of the others were beginning to give in to fear as I spoke. “But we never do,” I said, “We never lose because we are strong, we are the children of the gods, we were meant to face impossible chances and overcome them because we’re,” I struggled to find the words, “Heroes.” The others began to nod and I saw a bit of hope return to them. “When Perseus faced Medusa, he thought the challenge impossible for any mortal, but he defeated her. When Hercules faced his labors it seemed like something that no mortal could accomplish, but he did.” The others were beginning to look like they were ready to fight again. “Throughout history, demigods have always faced tasks that no mortal could accomplish, but they always pulled through and they did because they are not mortal.” I went silent and looked over everyone in turn, their fear beginning to fade. “They are demigods, and so are we,” I yelled, “And we will ALWAYS win, no matter what the Fates, or the gods, or anyone else throws at us!” The crowd began to cheer. “And today we will win again!” Everyone held their weapons up as if they were sending a message to the approaching army: We will not fall!
Clarisse came forward, her pale demeanor now faded, and rounded everyone into position. Apollo cabin was in front of everyone, their bows ready and aimed forward. Ares cabin was behind them, their shields up in a wall formation, while the rest of the group stood behind them. I stood at the head of everyone, my hand held up in a signal to wait. The air was silent as we watched the enemy approach.
The monsters stopped at the foot of Half-Blood Hill. The Minotaur stood at the front, his ax in hand and Stygian iron armor covering his body. He looked up the hill and directly at me. The barrier would hide me from sight, but the monster looked as if he knew I was there, like he was telling me that our tricks wouldn’t work on him. The one thing I found strange about the scene I was watching was that the drakon was nowhere to be found.
The Minotaur lifted his ax into the air and let out a massive bellow that could have matched the dragon’s roar easily. Behind him, the rest of the monsters charged ahead, streaming around him as if he were a rock in the center of a flowing river. I held my hand up, and waited. The monsters drew closer, nearly halfway up the hill now. I could feel some of the troops behind me beginning to shake as anticipation gripped them. The monsters reached the halfway point.
“FIRE,” I yelled as I swung my arm forward.
All around me, arrows soared forward, flying past my body, some missing by only a few inches. The arrows flew into the bulk of the charging army and pierced through armor, skin, and bone. I watched the front line of the stampede fall and turn to dust, but they were all replaced by another line and they’re attack resumed. The assault barely seemed to faze them.
“Again,” I yelled.
For the second time, arrows soared past me and into the front line of the enemy. I watched again as the monsters fell, but they were quickly replaced and their charge remained uninterrupted. They were almost to the top of the hill when I ordered a third volley to be fired. Apollo cabin managed one more attack, but it met with the same results. Some of the campers began backing away as the monsters approached us, but I kept everyone in line.
I started to order another volley, but the army reached the crest and all of them smashed into the camp’s barrier. The front line fell back from the force of the hit and most of them went rolling down the hill in a daze. The rest of the monsters began smashing at the barriers with whatever weapons they might have, swords, clubs, claws, teeth, and everything else. I saw pulses of varying color permeate through the air, appearing to come from nowhere, with every strike to the shield. I could see cracks forming in the pulses. It was like there was a window in front of us and it was beginning to shatter. I had to do something now.
I summoned Heartstopper. As the blade appeared in my hand, I ordered my troops to attack. Apollo cabin parted aside and Ares cabin charged forward, Clarisse in the center of their formation. The Ares kids parted around me and rushed through the barrier. I watched as they smashed into the thick of the enemy and began pushing them back. The monsters lashed out at the demigods, but they held strong.
The rest of our group, myself included, charged forward. The moment I passed through the barrier, the world fell dark and my face began to sting as it was bombarded with drops of rain. The Ares kids kept the enemy at bay as long as they could, and we were able to kill off most of the front line before they could gather themselves. We pushed the monsters back, but when we were about halfway down the hill, they broke from the confrontation and gathered together for a counter attack. The monsters charged again, smashing into the shield wall, and breaking through to the rest of us.
I dashed into the fray, dodging attacks from all sides, and hacked monster after monster to pieces as I did. I channeled every bit of energy that I could muster using the darkness to keep myself replenished as much as I could and used my powers to hold our enemy back. I summoned shields to protect myself and the others whenever I could and used my shadow powers to drag monsters away from the battle, usually sending them into Manhattan where they would be harmless until they could find their way back to the battlefield.
We tried to push the enemy farther down the hill, but they held their position with ease. I wasn’t surprised by our lack of progress, we were outnumbered after all, but maybe it was time to fix that. I cut down several hellhounds that attacked me and pulled at the walkie-talkie that was clipped to my side. As I did, Justin and Sarah formed around me in a defensive formation, keeping the enemy away while I spoke to Annabeth.
“Annabeth,” I yelled, “Luke!”
No answer came from either of them.
“Attack now,” I yelled, “We need you!”
The device was silent for a long time before someone answered me. “Hirius,” they said, it was Luke’s voice, “Saw through us…drakon…in trouble.”
His voice sounded choppy, like he was out of breath, but I heard enough to get his message. At least I knew now why the drakon hadn’t shown up. I looked at the battlefield around me. We were holding our position well enough, but by no means were we winning. Several of our troops had been dragged back toward the crest of the hill, having suffered serious injury, and were being worked on by Apollo’s healers. The others were trying to hold off the enemy, but they were in disarray. Clarisse was trying to get them back into formation, but was having no luck in doing so.
“Hirius,” Justin yelled, “When’s help arriving!?”
“It’s not,” I yelled as I dashed past him. I ran toward the remains of our troops, Sarah and Justin following me, and charged into the battle again. “Everyone,” I yelled over the sounds of clashing weapons, “On me!”
I rallied everyone into a tighter circle. We couldn’t defend as wide a range that way, but we were better protected. The Ares kids managed to form back into a shield wall and kept the monsters from advancing further. The rest of us kept our flanks from falling while trying to get around the enemy’s and keep them from surrounding us. We managed to get our defense back together, but we were still making zero progress.
A roar erupted from somewhere in the field. I looked off and spotted Annabeth and Luke, as well as a number of other demigods, rushing toward Half-Blood Hill. Behind them, the drakon was giving chase with its mouth open wide like it was going to swallow the whole group the moment it caught up. Annabeth began waving toward me like she was trying to send me a message.
I shadow traveled out of the battle and appeared in front of the drakon as it charged. The monster didn’t seem fazed by my appearance. It continued to stampede forward with its mouth open. Before it got to me, I summoned a shade and smashed the monster on its side, causing it to veer off course and slam its head into the hillside.
Behind me, Annabeth, Luke, and what was left of their group began to attack the enemy horde’s flank. The monsters began to fall back as the reinforcements joined in the fight, but they quickly gathered themselves again and the fighting resumed as it had before. The monsters were fighting a two sided battle now, but they were managing to hold their line.
I turned my attention to the drakon as it stood up and shook its head violently like it was just getting out of bed in the morning. The monster roared at the two clashing armies and began to run toward the battlefield. Before it got too far, I summoned another shade in front of him. The beast slammed into the shield and I used it to lift the monster into the air and fling him toward me. It landed right in front of me, shaking the ground and kicking up a lot of dirt as it did.
“Bad carnivorous evil lizard,” I said, “You have to fight me first.”
The drakon stood up and shook its head again. It looked at me, its two demonic, yellow eyes appearing to stare right into my soul. The monster roared again and charged at me. It swiped its claw, but I rolled out of the way and ran toward it. I slashed at the beast’s ankle, but, like the dragon, its scales were as strong as steel and my blade bounced off of them without leaving so much as a scratch.
The drakon swiped at me again, but I was able to escape its range. I attacked the monster again and again, searching for some kind of weak spot on it, but it seemed to be invincible. The only part of the drakon that was vulnerable was its underbelly, but the beast was smart enough to defend its weakness and keep me far enough away that I couldn’t get to him.
The monster roared again, apparently becoming annoyed with me at that point, and charged at me. It swung its head at me and I ducked under the attack. The monster swung its claws at me before I could recover and I was sent flying into the air, barely having the time to block the deadly attack, before I came crashing down somewhere inside of the camp’s barriers. My vision started to become blurry and I fought the feeling of passing out.
It was a long time before I was able to move again. I tried to stand up, but my legs felt like jelly as they buckled under my weight and I fell onto my hands and knees. I looked up. From where I was, I could see the battle progressing, and I didn’t like what I was seeing. It was almost like an insult when I realized that the weather had gone back to being nice when I passed through the barriers again.
The drakon had scattered the Ares cabin’s shield wall and the rest of our troops were just fighting to stay alive. Several campers, including Justin, Sarah, and Silena, had surrounded the drakon and were trying as best they could to hold it off, but the monster was turning them into its playthings. Clarisse, Annabeth, and Luke were trying their best to reorganize our attack, but none of the others were listening to a word they said. The worst part of the scene was the bodies lying on the ground. I couldn’t tell if they were just injured or worse, but it didn’t do me any good to think about it.
I managed to get to my feet, after a great deal of effort. As I did, a kid from Apollo cabin, one of the healers, came running over to me. “You shouldn’t be standing after that,” he said, “Come on; we need to get you fixed up somewhere safe.”
He tried to pull me toward the Big House, but I broke out of his grip. “No,” I said, “The others need me.”
“You won’t be able to…”
I ran off before he could finish. I summoned Heartstopper for the second time as I rejoined the fight. I hacked apart several monsters as they attacked me, but I was too winded to break through their defense. I watched the drakon as it snapped at my friends, barely missing them with its teeth. I knew that I had to kill that thing soon if we wanted to win this fight. I made a renewed effort to break through the enemy line, but again I was pushed back.
“Enough,” I yelled.
I pulled the darkness around me and shaped it into an extension of my body. Before long, several massive tentacles formed from the shade and began lashing out in every direction at the monsters surrounding me. I watched as enemies were lifted from their feet and were either tossed aside like rag dolls or slammed into the ground by my powers. The army began to break ranks and scatter as I pushed my way through them and to the drakon.
As I broke the last line between myself and the monstrous lizard, the beast attacked my friends again and managed to land a hit on Sarah. She was launched into the air and hit the ground somewhere near Thalia’s tree. A surge of anger passed through me and I rushed at the monster, my tentacle shade lashing out at it. The beast attacked again, but it was pushed away by my shade before it could close its jaws around Justin.
“Woah,” Justin said as the drakon was pushed back, “That was a little too close for my tastes.”
“Everyone back to the battle,” I yelled ignoring Justin’s comment, “I’ll deal with this!”
The others broke off from the fight, most of them appearing relieved to do so, and joined their allies on the hillside. I faced down the drakon as it got to its feet again. The monster eyed me closely, a clear sense of annoyance showing in its gaze. My shadow tentacles swirled around me as if inviting the monster to attack, daring it to challenge me again. The monster roared and charged at me.
I used my shade to keep the monster at a distance while trying to attack it at the same time, but it was careful to keep itself defended. I was able to knock it off balance more than once, but it kept coming at me no matter how hard I rattled it, and I still had no idea how I could actually kill it. No matter where I struck it, either with my sword or my shade, the monster barely seemed to be fazed at all by the hit. Even striking at its eyes barely got me anywhere.
The monster recovered from another hit and ran at me again. It let out a violent roar and its mouth opened for another attack. I launched my shade at it, but the beast dodged each of the tentacles as they swept past him. It stopped when it was just a foot away from me and its head shot down at me. I worked fast, forming the shade into a circular shield around me, but I didn’t think that I was going to be fast enough. I closed my eyes as the drakon’s teeth snapped shut on me.
I heard a loud clanging noise before the air went silent. I opened my eyes and was met with a strange sight. I was in what appeared to be a cave, curled up into a ball as I tried to keep myself from being crushed. The air was hot and moist and the ground was mushy and covered in some kind of liquid. In front of me, the cave went deeper, but it looked like it plunged into some kind of pit. At first, I thought that I was dead and that I was passing into the Underworld. Then I realized that my shade was still around me and that it had protected me from the monster’s attack. That meant that I had to be in…
“YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME,” I screamed.
The drakon’s tongue shifted upward and I slid down toward its throat. The sides of the monster’s throat began to squeeze in on me and push me down toward its stomach. I tried to come up with a way to get out of this mess, but all I could think about was how I was about to become this lizard’s dinner. There was no way that I was going to let that happen though. Not when there were so many dignified ways that I could have died.
I pushed the shadows outward and my shade expanded to the point that the drakon’s neck must have looked like it was blowing a bubble from the inside. I slid down a bit farther and I saw the inside of the monster’s stomach below me. Gastric acid with chunks of meat floating around in it were the only things that awaited me down there. My shade expanded to the point that it couldn’t fit through the monsters throat just in time. I was only inches from falling into the beast’s stomach when I stopped my descent.
I didn’t impede the shadow’s expansion. I continued to push the darkness out further and further. I saw the sides of the monster’s throat beginning to rip apart and dust started to trickle from the wounds. A puff of hot air rose from the beast’s innards and I felt like it was trying to let out another roar, but I didn’t hear a sound from it. I pushed the shadows out further and further as I began to sweat from the effort. All at once, the monster’s throat ripped in half and my shade expanded out until it dispersed.
I hit the ground and watched as the drakon’s head and body began to turn to dust as it crumpled over around me. The last I saw of it was one of its large, orb-like eyes staring at me as though it were trying one last time to get rid of me. As I looked into the beast’s eye, it and the rest of its head turned to dust in front of me.
I stood up and grabbed Heartstopper, which had landed next to me and was now covered in saliva as well as a number of other secretions that I would rather not mention. The battle had slowed to a stop around me. Monsters and campers stared at me as I stood in the center of a large pile of dust that had once been the mighty drakon. As I looked at the other half-bloods, I couldn’t tell if they were amazed, terrified, hopeful, or all of it at once.
As I looked around, the Minotuar pushed its way through the crowd and eyed me with apprehension. It held its ax up, challenging me to another duel, this time to the death. Everyone, monster and camper alike, backed away from our confrontation. Anyone that had them began hitting their weapons against their shields. It was clear that this battle would have to be won by this duel.
The Minotaur and I stepped toward each other. As we did, the sounds of weapons banging off of shields went silent. At first, I thought that everyone was waiting for the duel to begin, but then I noticed something odd. Everyone, demigod, monster, or otherwise, had stopped moving entirely. It was like time had suddenly slowed to a stop, leaving only myself and the Minotaur as the ones unaffected by the strange phenomenon. I looked at the monster. Its eyes were glowing gold, the same color as Kronos’ sarcophagus.
“Interesting isn’t it,” The Minotaur spoke in Kronos’ voice, “It would be so simple to kill them all.” The beast looked at me. “If only I had a body.”
“You can’t use that thing,” I asked indicating the Minotaur.
I heard Kronos chuckling, but the monster remained motionless. That was when I realized that the Minotaur wasn’t speaking at all. “This beast could not contain my power,” Kronos said, “I can simply use him as a way to communicate with you.”
“You’ve talked to me before,” I said, “My answer is still the same.”
“Is it,” Kronos asked, “Even now, when you see that your friends are about to die?” He fell silent as if waiting for an answer from me. “They don’t have to you know,” he went on, “You could join me and I could spare them.”
“Until you have what you want,” I said.
Kronos chuckled again. “Perhaps,” he said, “But wouldn’t they be better off living for a few more days than dying right now.”
“They’d be better off living the rest of their lives,” I said.
“You ask too much,” Kronos retorted, “I can’t guarantee their lives.”
“That’s why I’m going to stop you,” I said.
Kronos began laughing. “YOU stop ME,” he questioned, “What a joke.” He continued laughing. “You really think you stand a chance,” he went on, “This is just a taste of my power, just wait until I am fully revived. I will be unstoppable!”
“And what if you were dealt with before you recover your full power?”
The air went silent. I had clearly struck at a point that Kronos had neglected to consider. He probably thought that he was safe down there in Tartarus. He probably thought that no one would dare to venture into the pit in order to stop him from recovering his power. He obviously didn’t know me very well if that was how he thought. I wasn’t going to be a tool for him. If I had to, I would go right down into Tartarus and make sure that sarcophagus stayed locked for the rest of eternity.
The ground began to shake and I heard Kronos let out a colossal roar. “Do not defy me child of Hades,” he screamed, “I am INVINCIBLE!”
“No one is invincible,” I said.
I could feel the air heat up as Kronos’ anger got the better of him. “Why you cocky little…Minotaur, destroy him!”
The monster let out a loud bellow and charged at me. I dodged to the side as its ax came crashing down on the ground where I had been standing. I stepped forward and slashed at the creature, but it batted my sword away with one of its massive arms protected by a Stygian iron gauntlet.
The Minotaur swung its ax at me again and I was barely able to duck under it. I stabbed at the creature and managed to pierce its side before it got away from me. The monster snarled in complaint, but was otherwise unfazed by the attack. It grabbed me by the back of my shirt and flung me across the battlefield. I hit the ground and skirted over dirt and rock until I was lying in front of a line of monsters still frozen in time.
I got up and realized that my sword was gone. I looked up and saw the Minotaur pull the blade out of its side. It charged at me again, using both its ax and my sword against me. I tried to summon a shade, but I had no luck, which was no doubt due to Kronos’ involvement. I rolled to the side and barely avoided having my head taken off. The Minotaur crashed into the line of monsters behind me, turning several of them into dust. It turned around and eyed me again.
I heard Kronos laugh. “Yes,” he yelled, “Tear him to pieces! I want to see him beg for mercy!”
The Minotaur charged again, slashing at me with each of its two weapons in turn. I dodged left and right, having several close calls, and tried to wrestle my sword away from the monster, but it was too strong for me. I tried to use my powers again, but Kronos was obviously impeding me somehow. All I could do now was keep moving and hope that I would think of something.
I dodged under another slash and grabbed at the Minotaur’s wrist. I wrapped my arms around its forearm. I tried to kick at the monster’s stomach, thinking that I had gained the upper hand, but I soon found out that I had just made a huge mistake. The Minotaur swung its arm up into the air like it was trying to cut down a bird. I was sent flying straight up into the sky as I lost my grip on the beast.
The Minotaur looked up at me and backed away a few steps. As I began falling to the ground, it leaned over like it was getting ready to charge at something. As I neared it, the monster lunged forward in an attempt to impale me on its sharp horns. Luckily, I had just enough time to shift myself around and grab onto the base of one of the monster’s horns. I hung on for my life as it continued to charge forward.
The Minotaur stampeded around in a circle, very aware that I was still alive. It snarled and bucked in an attempt to throw me off of it, but I held on tight. The monster charged this way and that, swinging its weapon and mine around wildly as if it might somehow manage to hit me with one of them, but its arms were too big to reach me. I held on as tight as I could as the monster grew more violent with the passing seconds.
The monster turned and charged at a line of campers nearby, planning on cutting them down while they were defenseless. I pulled on one of its horns and the Minotaur veered off course and slashed apart a group of monsters instead. It turned and lashed at another group of campers, but I pulled it off course a second time. It continued to try and attack my allies, but I kept it from doing so as best I could. I wouldn’t be able to keep it up forever though. I had to stop this thing somehow.
It turned and charged once more at a group of campers. Instead of pulling him off course, I leapt over the Minotaur’s head and dug my feet into the dirt in front of it. The beast snarled as I held onto the ends of its horns and tried to stop its charge. I slid across the ground as though I was standing on ice. My feet dug into the dirt and I felt myself slowing down as I was pushed further backward. We were only inches from the campers when I managed to stop the monster cold.
The Minotaur snarled and pushed against me, but I was able to hold it in place. It kicked and bucked and tried to throw me off of it with little luck. I summoned what strength I could and through sheer willpower I turned the monster on its side and threw him to the ground. The beast slammed into the dirt with a loud bellow and its weapons slipped out of its grip.
Before I could make a move, the Minotaur began to stir again, and it reached out and tried to grab at my leg. I kicked its arm away and then gave it another kick right in the snout, which caused the monster to roll away from me, clutch at its nose, and bellow in pain. I turned and dove for my sword. With my weapon back in hand, I didn’t waste any time charging my enemy again.
It was still clutching at its snout when I attacked, but the Minotaur managed to avoid my blade and push me away from it. Before I could recover, the monster retrieved his ax and the two of us were hacking and slashing at each other again. I could feel it getting weaker now though. Its strikes were slow and sloppy. I just needed to get in one good hit.
I dodged under the monster’s ax and slashed up. Heartstopper hit its mark and the Minotaur let out another pain filled bellow as its lower arm was severed from his body. I moved to stab the creature, having disarmed it in more ways than one, but it wasn’t giving up that easily. It swung its still attached arm at me wildly. I dodged its mad flailing and tried to get close enough to attack, but I was kept at bay. I swung Heartstopper again, attempting to finally end this fight, and cut off the beast’s other arm.
The Minotaur bellowed in pain for the third time and looked down at its new wounds. It fell to its knees and tried to keep me away with its horns, but it had no luck. I grabbed one of his horns and slammed the monster down into the dirt, causing another pained cry. The monster looked up at me, fear showing in its eyes. I slammed the monster’s head into the ground again and again, enjoying the pain that I was causing it, wanting it to know how I felt, how all demigods felt. I wanted it to know the fear that we lived with every day of our lives.
Once I felt that it had suffered enough, I lifted its head up and whispered in its ear. “This is for my mother.” I stabbed Heartstopper into the Minotaur’s forehead, right in between its eyes. The last I saw of it was its pleading gaze as it turned to dust. I had never seen a monster beg for its life, but I imagined that, if he had the chance to, the Minotaur would have done just that.
It was strange, but I didn’t feel anything in that moment. I thought that if I had finally managed to kill the Minotaur, the monster that took my mother away from me, that I would feel some kind of sense of justice, some kind of sense that I had finally avenged my mother, but I felt nothing in that moment because there was no justice for demigods. Monsters never died. They would always come back. I could kill the Minotaur a thousand times over, but it would always be back to harass me, my friends, and all future generations of demigods. There was just no real sense of justice for us, only survival.
I looked around at the still frozen armies surrounding me. “Still convinced I can’t stop you,” I questioned hoping that Kronos was still listening, “Because I will!” I waited for a response from the titan lord, but none came. “I don’t care what you throw at me,” I went on, “It won’t matter, because I WILL destroy you!” Again I waited for him to speak, but the air kept silent. “Do you know why,” I asked, “Because I am unstoppable, because I am more powerful than YOU…” I heard a low rumble, the sound of Kronos growling, obviously I was getting to him, “…And because YOU are afraid of ME!”
I wasn’t sure where any of this was coming from. A few weeks ago, I didn’t really care about Kronos or whether he came back or not, but now I was screaming at the top of my lungs that he was going to meet his end by my hand. Maybe it was because he had threatened me and my friends one too many times. Maybe it was because he had just tried to destroy the one safe haven left in the world for demigods. Or maybe it was because I was just so sick and tired of everyone, my father, Kronos, the gods, and whoever else I could throw into that group, thinking that they could use me. I could have been angry for any of those reasons or for a million others, but all I knew was that I was going to end the titan lord, no matter what it took.
I still heard Kronos growling when he spoke. “We will see.”
Before I could answer him, time began flowing again and I heard the sounds of monsters and campers hitting their weapons off of their shields. I heard monsters snarling and roaring at me, taunting me to attack their leader, none of them realizing that he was already dead. Everyone was moving and yelling and screaming again, but the sounds quickly died out a second time.
The monsters taunting noises fell silent as they looked upon the battlefield and found that their general had already been slain. My fellow campers were put into a similar shock. Many of them were looking at me, their mouths wide open, completely awestruck as the Minotaur was now nowhere to be seen. I simply stood and waited for someone to do something. I was standing there for a long time. At least the weather was nice again.
Annabeth was the first one to move. She pushed out of the crowd of demigods and looked at me. “Hirius,” she said, “How did you…” She was at a loss for words. “I mean,” she said, finding her voice, “He was there, just a second ago, and then…” Her voice trailed off and she went back to having the same dazed look as the rest of the campers. As smart as Annabeth was, even she didn’t have an explanation for what had just happened.
I was about to answer Annabeth, when I was reminded of the fact that we were still in the middle of a battlefield. A hellhound dashed out from the army of monsters and tackled me to the ground. I pushed it off easily and Annabeth stabbed it with her dagger, turning the beast into dust. It wasn’t very much, but the sudden flicker of movement seemed to bring everyone back to reality.
Annabeth helped me to my feet as the monsters rallied together for another attack. They were still strong and outnumbered us by a small amount, but without their general, they were completely dysfunctional. Annabeth and I were easily able to form up our attack and, before long, all that was left on the hillside were piles of dust and an army of very happy looking demigods.
It was a victory, no one could deny that, but it was still a burden on everyone. A number of campers were nervous about it happening again, maybe not anytime soon, but sometime in the future. I couldn’t imagine how they must have been feeling. The camp was supposed to be a safe place; most of them had been there for a good many years already. To have that safety threatened, and nearly taken from them, must have been terrifying. Annabeth and Silena were trying to keep everyone from panicking as they marched back toward the camp, but they were having trouble.
I stayed out on the battlefield while the others went back. I kept looking out to the horizon, remembering all that I had said to Kronos. I was planning on keeping my word. I was going to destroy him somehow, even if he was one of the most powerful beings in existence, I would find a way. That wasn’t what bothered me though. If I wanted to keep that promise, then I would have to leave camp, and probably soon.
I thought that I might have finally found a home here, but I knew that I was a fool to think that way. Even if everyone accepted me now, I was still a child of Hades, the most hated god in the world. It would only be a matter of time before everyone remembered that. Eventually I would be forced to leave anyway.
“You plan on standing out here all night,” I heard Justin say as he and Sarah came walking up to me. Sarah was limping and looked a bit shaken up from the drakon, but otherwise she seemed okay. I was glad to at least see her up and about again.
“Just until you two got here,” I said with a smile.
“See,” Justin said to Sarah, “I told you we shouldn’t have come out here. We could have been rid of him for good.”
“And then who would you rely on to keep you out of trouble,” Sarah asked.
The three of us started laughing. “It’s good to see that you’re still in good shape,” I said to her.
“Who me,” she asked, “You think that little monster was enough to kill me? Please.”
“Yeah, and you should be more worried about yourself,” Justin laughed, “You almost got eaten.”
Sarah looked at me, her humor turning to shock. “What!?”
“Yeah,” Justin said, “You were still out cold. The drakon opens wide and swallows Hirius whole. Everyone begins to despair, but then, the beast’s neck inflates like a balloon and KABOOM! Hirius comes bursting out in a glorious spectacle of dust and lizard pieces.”
“Wait,” Sarah said, “You were eaten? Like, swallowed and everything.”
“Yeah,” I said, “You know, I thought it would be cool to see what the inside of a drakon looked like before I killed it.”
“ARE YOU INSANE,” she yelled, “That is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard, you let that thing swallow you so you could see its insides!? You couldn’t have just killed it and gotten it over with!? Are you crazy or something!?”
“Probably,” I said.
Sarah looked at me, her eyes appearing on fire as her anger grew. Then she threw her arms around me, much to my own surprise. “At least you’re okay,” she sighed. “But,” she added as she pulled away from me, “Don’t EVER do anything like that again.”
“Okay mom,” Justin said, “You don’t have to get all teary eyed over it.”
Sarah glared at him. “And you,” she said, “I still owe you for what you said last night.”
Justin started backing away as Sarah walked toward him. “Alright,” he said, “Let’s just calm down and talk about this.” He turned and ran and Sarah chased after him. “Come on,” he said, “I was just trying to help, you know?”
“I don’t need your kind of help,” Sarah yelled after him as she chased him.
I started laughing at the two of them as they ran in circles on the hillside. I had no idea what Sarah was angry about, or what Justin had said to her, but I was glad that we were all able to joke around again, that we were still alive after that battle. A few campers had lost their lives in the fight. I didn’t know any of them, but I still felt responsible, in a way, for their deaths. It was good to know that most of us had managed to survive and that, based on the way these two were, things would be able to return to being normal soon enough. No one would be able to forget what happened though.
“You three look like you’re having fun,” someone said.
I turned around and saw Annabeth coming down the hill towards us, Silena walking next to her. “Yeah,” I said, “I’m just glad these two can act normal again.”
Justin ran up and hid behind me. “Please,” he said, “This is far from normal.” Sarah stopped in front of me and eyed Justin closely. He had a large bruise on his arm and he looked like he was going to wet himself.
“You running in fear, Sarah causing you pain, me laughing at your torment,” I said, “Yeah, that’s normal.”
“Hirius,” Justin yelled. He grabbed my shoulders and spun me around so I was facing him. He whispered to me, “Not in front of…” his voice trailed off and his eyes were flicking to the side like he was trying to tell me to look at something. It took me a second to realize that he was indicating Silena. I nodded to him.
“Okay,” I said turning around to face Sarah, “I think that Justin has had enough for now.”
Sarah looked back at him and then at me. “In his dreams,” she said.
“Sarah,” I said.
She held my gaze for a moment. “Alright,” she said, “But he is not off the hook for what he said to me.”
I looked back at Justin. “What did you say,” I asked. Justin shrugged like he didn’t know what I was talking about. I looked back at Sarah, a questioning look on my face. Her cheeks turned red and she looked away from me.
“I,” she said, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“That’s the problem,” Justin said behind me.
“Shut up,” Sarah yelled. She ran after Justin again and the two of them disappeared behind the camp’s barriers.
“Sarah,” I called after them.
“I’ll take care of them,” Silena said as she went off after them.
I looked at Annabeth. “What was that all about,” I asked.
Annabeth looked at me like she was wondering if I was being serious. “Are you really that dense,” she asked after a moment.
I looked at her thoughtfully. “What do you mean?”
“Nevermind,” she answered, “Let’s just get back to the Big House.” She started walking up the hill again.
“Why,” I asked as I followed her.
“Because,” she said, “Chiron wants to know what happened with the Minotaur.”