Shadow traveling wasn't any better the second time around. The good thing was that she had shut her eyes that time.
There were even more voices than the first time– they kept pestering her, pleading for her to become one of them. It still freaked her out, like, a lot, but she knew she needed to stay calm. She needed to stay concentrated on Lincoln. It was almost too hard since she was still angry at her uncle.
When they had arrived, she did a barrel roll into the metal bar of a city limit sign. She grunted on contact with the bar. She groaned as she pulled herself up into a sitting position. She checked her pocket– the letter was still there. She checked her neck– the pendant was still there. Good, all important things accounted for.
She collapsed onto her back and groaned another time.
"That time wasn't any better," She complained.
"Are you still okay?" Nico asked, sitting up. Will stood beside him.
"Yeah, I'm good…" She said drowsily. "Just… Tired…"
Before she knew it, she was out like a light.
She began to have a strange dream. She was where the red-headed girl had hidden the Lyre. A ram descended from the sides of the rocky walls and into the deep ravine. It stopped and grazed at a patch of grass. She heard the call of a swan from above. She looked to see the majestic creature at the top of the ravine. It glided down, headed towards the ram. The ram turned its head to see the swan and quickly trotted away.
At landing, the swan changed into a species of deer, catching up to the ram. Their horns clashed, running into each other. She stood and watched until a voice began to speak to her.
Alex… Alex, wake up.
She woke up to Nico above her.
"Alex!" Nico exclaimed. "I thought you were taking us to Lincoln not– Crete?"
Alex thought for a moment. Crete? No way; she couldn't have taken them all across the world, could she? No, that was impossible. It must have been Crete, Nebraska. She looked at the city limit sign she ran into. It said CRETE in English.
"I overshot," She muttered, staring at the sign.
"No, I think you took us backward," Will said. "I mean, if we're in Crete, Greece–!"
"We're not in Greece," Alex said getting up. "We're in Crete, Nebraska."
"There's a city in Nebraska named after a Greek Island?" Nico asked, curiously.
"Yeah, it's just south of Lincoln, Nebraska," Alex explained. "Like I said, I overshot," She looked at Nico. "How long have I been sleeping?"
"Oh, I don't know... " Nico admitted. "Maybe five or six hours?"
She hadn't noticed, but it was starting to get light out.
"We need to keep going," Alex said.
"You're not seriously considering shadow traveling again!" Will shouted. "You just shadow traveled!"
"It's a lot faster than walking," Nico argued.
"You two are crazy!" Will screamed. "Don't you guys realize you're killing yourselves?"
"Will," Nico tried to reason with him. "We don't have the time."
"We head for Hastings," Alex said. "Come on, we don't have much time, we'll go to the other side of town."
"But we have six days," Will said questioningly as they started walking into Crete.
They walked the streets of Crete. They passed strangers who ignored them and Alex felt like… like everything was off. Crete didn't feel right. To be honest, she'd never been there, but it was just… Quiet.
Quiet was never a good thing in movies. She knew that there was always a calm before the storm– and this was that very feeling. Something was going to happen, something bad, and Alex hoped she'd be ready for it despite Nico saying demigods had the worst luck in the universe.
"Ever have the feeling you're being watched?" Alex asked casually.
"Yeah, it comes with being a demigod," Will said. "Why?"
"Because it's oddly quiet here," Alex said quietly. "Don't you think it's–!" She stopped mid-sentence.
She barely heard a faint hissing sound from somewhere around them. She stopped walking and listened intently. The hissing got louder. As it did, she could hear words with protracted S's which was pretty annoying. She scanned the block, trying to find where it was coming from.
Nico stopped, Will shortly after.
"Do you hear that?" Nico asked quietly, his eyes wandering around for the source.
"Sound's like…" Will said trying to find the words.
"Shit…!" Nico hissed. "Dracanae!"
He bolted across the street, grabbing hold of Alex's wrist. Will followed, slinging his bow off his back and nocking an arrow on the string. Nico grabbed his stygian sword with his free hand, although it might not be that useful while they were running.
They turned into a narrow road, up until a woman with snake trunks where her legs should have been crossed their path. Her face had scales under her eyes and it kind of creeped Alex out. Will shot an arrow in between the snake lady's eyes. It hissed as it turned to dust.
"Will!" Nico said as another snake lady jumped down from the top of a building.
Will quickly nocked an arrow and shot through the snake lady's shoulder. She turned to dust.
"What did you call them?" Alex asked loudly.
"Dracanae, they're women with snake tails for legs–!" He slashed at one of them as it charged towards them. "Gods, they're so annoying!" Nico complained.
"Weren't they foot soldiers for Kronos?" Will said, recalling the Titan war.
Nico groaned. "Don't remind me! They were even worse than the Manticore!"
"At least they aren't the Manticore," Alex suggested still being dragged by her wrist.
"If my luck's the same as it was eleven years ago, we just might–!" Nico stopped talking as a dracanae's spear grazed his left shoulder.
Despite any pain Nico might have felt, he kept running. Alex looked behind her to see an angry Will Solace drawing his bow with a stygian iron tip and shooting it at the dracanae who dared to injure his boyfriend. Alex didn't know if she'd ever seen Will so angry. It was kind of scary.
"Are you okay?" Alex asked frantically.
"I'm fine, it's not critical," Nico said, reassuring his half-sister.
"A–are you sure?" Alex asked again. "T–there's a lot o–of…" She wasn't queasy when it came to blood, but seeing someone she actually cared about hurt like that really got to her.
"Don't focus on it, Alex," Nico said with concern. "Just stay calm."
Alex was trying, she really was. Calm wasn't her forte. She reverted her line of eye sight away from his shoulder; she covered her mouth with her sleeve. She tried not to cry, but it was hard. Why did the people around her always get hurt?
She heard arrows flying left and right, all hitting their marks. Will must have been so angry, she wondered how he was feeling. Was he afraid that Nico might bleed out and die? Or was he just angry that the dracanae had hit Nico? Maybe it was both, Alex didn't know, but he seemed much more active. She quit hearing arrows and suddenly saw flashes of light behind her, making a loud screech before hitting the dracanae. What kind of powers did Will Solace have? What did he call it? Photokinesis?
"Will!" Nico shouted, "Quit it, I'm fine!"
As time passed, Alex continued to get scared. She knew that every minute, more and more of his blood would be leaving his body, making him closer and closer to death. Maybe she was over exaggerating things. Maybe it wasn't that bad, but Alex didn't want to take that chance.
The dracanae were now fewer in numbers, but they were still only a few yards into the city. They needed to get on the other side of town, and who knew what they would encounter before they reached their destination. Monsters always went after demigods, always.
Alex wanted to do something, but if she was going to do something, she would have to be quick about it. She got anxious, she didn't know what to do. Fear washed over herself until…
Well, it seemed Alex was pretty great at making fissures.
They kept going, still heading towards the edge of town. Fissures opened underneath the dracanae, sending them to the underworld. She was wondering how she was making so many fissures, even after transporting herself, Nico and Will through shadow travel. Nico said too much of any underworld-y power using was dangerous. There was a good chance she was digging her own grave.
Thoughts just rushed through her mind. Memories returned to her, memories of St. Cecilia's Cathedral, of her uncle, of the nuns. Then she remembered the promise to her mother that her uncle Thomas broke. She remembered the letter she had wrote to him, the one she left on his desk before they left.
You are the worst at hiding secrets, and you just can't seem to catch me finding them. I found that letter my mother- your sister- left you when you found me at the Cathedral's doorsteps. I can't believe that you would break that promise. You promised her that you would take care of me, even love me, but instead you left me to the nuns, you sent me to boarding school, and I hate you for it.
She died thinking that you would keep your promise and look at how you defiled her word. She trusted you, she trusted you with ME and this is what you've done with it, with me. You don't even have the right mind to even check on me. You're a liar. You lied to her, and now I'm wondering if you lied to me about my father. You called him such a bad name, but you've never even MET him! My mother loved him, loved me. That's another thing; I don't recall you ever telling me that my mother loved me. She told you to tell me she loved me and you couldn't even do that.
When you read this, I'll be long gone because you would never notice that I was gone, but just know how much I HATE you.
Right as she finished remembering the words she had put on paper for her uncle to read, a fissure opened underneath the three demigods. She gasped right before she grabbed Will's arm and jumped into the shadows, taking them to Hastings– at least that was the destination.
They landed onto grass, the three of them doing barrel rolls until they hit each other. They grunted, Nico and Will getting up and patting themselves down. Alex, however, couldn't get up.
Her vision went blurry as what looked like a large, man faced, furry, scorpion tailed monster charged at Nico and Will.
She blacked out.