Smoke on the Horizon

XII. Percy

XII. PERCY

Blackjack did not like their plan.

The pegasus shook his head and nickered in protest as Percy brought him up to speed on the quest, speaking softly and doing his best to keep the winged horse calm.

Boss, hey boss. You know who Oceanus is, right?

Yeah, he’s the sea titan.

Exactly, so, I don’t wanna be a downer here, but he ain’t gonna like us very much will he?

No but all you have to do is get us there - we’re doing the fighting, you’re doing the flying. And have you ever met an enemy that liked us? Or that we haven’t been able to beat?

Well, no, I guess - except for that one time with the -

Okay then! See? All good.

The other pegasi weren’t too hot on the idea either, but they trusted Percy and they eventually softened.

The flock clustered together on the beach, Blackjack, Porkpie, and Guido whinnying encouragement to the others. Percy returned to Cabin three to gather his pack and supplies as the sun slipped noiselessly over Camp Half Blood.

The group had been allowed an early breakfast before their departure, and Percy joined them at the Dining Pavilion.

The whole group sat together.

Their places at the table, the same order in which they’d sat on the Argo II, Percy noticed, placed Leo, and therefore, Calypso, directly across from Percy. He did his best to avoid eye contact with her, not completely comfortable with the idea of her tagging along on this quest.

But Leo looked happy having her beside him, and Percy didn’t really have a problem with her. He kept his mouth shut and ate his breakfast.

They managed to scarf down several stacks of pancakes and two loaves worth of toast much to quickly. None of them wanted to leave such good food behind.

On their last quest, they had had the Argo II to provide them with literally whatever they wanted.

This time around, all they would have were what they could carry in their packs and what they ate now. They’d have to make it last.

They were done sooner than Percy’d have liked.

“Everyone ready?” he half-heard Jason said monotonically, clear that he wasn’t himself but was asking anyway.

“Nope,” Percy said brightly. “So let’s go.”

They got to the beach expecting to see the eight pegasi standing nervously in the sand.

Instead, they found eight pegasi pacing nervously back and forth in the surf, doing circles in cautionary avoidance of the four massive bronze feet, tail, and head of one Festus the dragon.

“Uh,” Percy said. “So, he definitely wasn’t here before.”

He did his best to calm the horses, all of which were yelling frantically in his head in a panic.

Get him out of here! He tried to burn my tail!

He did burn mine! Please, son of the sea god, please don’t let him near us!

“Hey, Leo? Think you can do something about him? He’s kind of freaking the pegasi out.”

“Oh yeah, sure. Sorry. Festus! Come on, go over there and leave the poor little horsies alone.”

Festus followed Leo’s direction and trudged clumsily off down the beach.

Pool little horsies? someone neighed angrily. Several pegasi stamped their hooves and flapped their wings in protest.

“He didn’t mean it!” Percy said quickly, not wanting to have to get a trampled Leo pancake out of the sand.

After some more sweet-talking, the pegasi were back under control and ready to go.

Leo insisted that he ride Festus instead and found no complaints from the others.

“Yeah, I for one would like a dragon on our side,” Jason grinned.

“Technically, we’d have two,” Frank said, raising his hand.

“Okay then, well, one of you can head back to stable then,” Percy said to the eight pegasi who were now shifting confusedly on their hooves.

He regretted his words as soon as they were out of his mouth.

All of the pegasi raised their heads in excitement and eight voices echoed simultaneously in his head, vying for the chance to stay behind.

“Okay! Okay, never mind. I’m picking then.”

He singled out the smallest of the group, a wild-eyed, skittish pegasus named Oleander who looked like he might pass out from fright at any second. Better to not have someone dropping out of the sky halfway across the ocean, he figured.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, lord, he said meekly.

The animal bowed his head timidly and avoided the others’ eyes as he trotted gracelessly down the beach and flew back towards the stables.

“Okay, everyone ready then?”

There were a few stray nickers of complaint about Festus coming with them, and some backed up down the beach angrily.

“Great! Okay. All good. Everyone pair up.” The dragon won’t eat you, I promise, he added, only to the pegasi. They still didn’t seem convinced, but they snorted in submission and allowed their demigods to load them with their packs.

They mounted up, Percy on Blackjack, and together took off toward the sea.

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