Smoke on the Horizon

XIV. Jason

XIV. JASON

Jason did not appreciate being woken up at three in the morning.

He especially did not appreciate being woken up by a crazy, critical god.

He was not a morning person. He’d be the first to tell you not to cross him if he was woken unexpectedly at some absurd hour as he was this morning. Therefore, when Piper shook his shoulders violently to get him up, he was appropriately annoyed.

It took a moment for his brain to put together what he was seeing.

The seven pegasi were running in circles, doing their best to avoid demigods in their panic. Jason couldn’t see whatever it was they were trying to get away from.

They stopped for a moment, looking around them for whatever had spooked them. Many snorted in what seemed like relief when suddenly, their eyes turned wild again and they scattered, bucking and flapping their wings uncontrollably.

Leo was chasing Festus, dodging his swinging tail and fire as the dragon beat his wings furiously.

Percy and Annabeth had drawn their swords but were looking around groggily. Like Jason, they had clearly just been woken up and were no more aware of what was going on than him.

Pieces of paper were flying through the air as if propelled by some spontaneous gale, chasing anything that moved and threatening to give the worse paper cuts ever.

Frank had his bow out, pinning a sheet here and there to the trees and making others plow into the ground.

Nico was slashing wildly, black stygian iron a dark streak as it sliced through the crinkled pages that dared come too close to the son of Hades.

Something blew by Jason and suddenly he was knocked back down to his knees.

Percy landed hard next to him, now looking more angry than confused, and groaned as he tried to get up.

“A storm would be nice right about now,” he said.

“On it.” Jason scrambled to his feet and dodged a mass of paper that was hurtling toward his head, ducking down and rolling out of the way. He focused all his energy on the wind that was already billowing around them. He willed it to concentrate away from their camp and be pushed out to sea.

Jason could feel the pressure becoming a knot in his gut, building up and tightening against the strength of the force he was trying to redirect. It was fighting him as though someone else was controlling it and trying to redirect him.

He pushed harder, determined to find a break.

He felt the wind shift in his direction, pulling him forward as if the force had staggered and lost its footing.

A small cyclone had formed around him, growing bigger with every moment Jason fought, but he didn’t notice it. Now it collapsed, pushing all the excess air away from him and out to sea.

The paper continued to fly as it started to settle, floating down to the ground and littering the gravel with pockets of tarnished yellow.

He stood panting and exhausted, turning back to the others only when Percy spoke.

“Yup, that was a storm.”

Jason gave a small bow and stumbled a few steps before sitting down. “What in Olympus happened?”

Frank and Hazel sighed. They had been on guard duty when the chaos had ensued. “No idea,” Frank said. “One second, we heard this big gust of wind, the next, all the pegasi started freaking out.”

“We thought maybe they’d heard something or been scared by the wind, but then all those sheets of paper came flying at us out of nowhere.”

“They had to have come from somewhere,” Jason said. “Someone has to have sent them. It felt like the wind was fighting me, trying to push me back like someone else was controlling it too.”

“Oh, so you are mildly intelligent, aren’t you, Jason Grace?” The voice was so abrupt and so harsh that it startled Jason more than it should have. It seemed to resonate across the parking lot, over the water, seeping into ever pore in Jason’s body and filling him with a deep disgust.

He spun around, looking for the speaker, only to see Piper still standing behind him.

“Oh come now, son of Zeus,” the voice taunted, this time from the other direction. “Won’t you blow me away?”

“Jupiter, actually,” Jason mumbled, turning toward it, Nico standing there instead looking as confused and startled as the rest of them.

“Who are you?” Jason yelled, annoyance slipping into his voice. “Show yourself!”

“Oh alright, alright. Calm down before you lose control.” The air in front of Jason shimmered for a brief second, or rather seemed to move in a series of dull shades of grey as a little man poofed into existence.

He looked to Jason like some crazy god was having too much fun with a book on mythology and pulled pieces from a bunch of different monsters to create him.

From the waist up he resembled a satyr, little horns protruding from his thinning, grey hair, a stocky build, and, minus his blue skin, he could’ve fit in nicely at Camp. Where the hairy hindquarters of a goat should have been however was a thick, dark scaled tail. All of this was hovering half a foot off the ground, suspended between two large black wings.

He bent over, not something that looked easy for him, and snatched up a small, white object that Jason didn’t think had been there earlier.

He dusted it off, inspecting it as if he weren’t quite impressed, and, turning it over in his hands, placed it behind his back.

“Satisfied?” the satyr-fish-bird said, boredom and sarcasm oozing from his voice.

“Who are you?” Jason said, knowing he’d probably regret it.

“Ugh, just like your father, aren’t you. All the same.” He eyed Piper next, still standing behind Jason with her cornucopia out. “And you would be an Aphrodite brat. She was bad too. Always talked too much, that one.”

“Cause you don’t,” Percy piped up, his knuckles white around his swords’ handle.

“Ah, yes. A son of Poseidon. Hot-headed and arrogant,” he sneered.

Percy took a step forward, raising Riptide, but Annabeth grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back.

“Athena. Always one for diplomacy. Let’s see here, Hades, Hephaestus, Ares…my, my, my, we are an odd group aren’t we?”

“You still haven’t answered my question,” Jason said through gritted teeth. “Who are you? What do you want?”

“Who am I? Why I am what constitutes your blame, your simpleminded judgements, Jason Grace. I am brother to Misery and son of Night, I am god of poets and critics alike.”

Jason looked to the rest of the group. No one moved to say anything.

“Oh surely,” the god pulled out his white object again, a mask Jason realized, like one of those happy/sad opera things.

“Wait,” Annabeth suddenly looked like she’d had some kind of breakthrough. “I remember you.”

Really? How extraordinary. Tell me more.”

“You’re Momus, god of satire.”

He said nothing.

Jason didn’t recognize the name, but figured it wasn’t the first time. They’d just have to figure it out as they went. “Why are you here? What do you want from us?” Jason said.

“Oh, you? I believe you are the one’s who intruded on me. I have no use for you, you are a bore and I dislike your parentage. I’d be much happier if you left as quickly as possible. And why am I here? I’m a god. I can be wherever I choose to be. What matter of yours is it?” Momus adopted a suspicious and irritated expression. “What are you doing here?”

“We’re on a quest,” Jason said simply, knowing he probably shouldn’t reveal their purpose to a god - especially one like Momus was turning out to be, but for some reason he had the inexplicable need to prove his worth.

“Oh, a quest! How noble, how wonderful for you. That is, after all, the only way you demigods can prove yourselves, by making yourselves out to be more than you are.”

“Maybe you should let us prove ourselves before you go around making judgements,” Nico said abrasively taking everyone by surprise. Nico never tried to pull attention - if anything, he should be attempting to stay unnoticed.

Momus gave a sickly smile. He seemed to enjoy how aggravated they were all becoming. “Perhaps I will, son of Hades, perhaps I will. We must be patient, mustn’t we?” He spoke with a condescending tone, and he seemed to know he was getting under Nico’s skin. “A competition,” he continued excitedly. “Yes, I haven’t had a proper competition in centuries. This’ll do nicely. You three.” He waved a finger through the air at Leo, Percy, and Annabeth. “You will be our competitors. We must stick to tradition, after all.”

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