The little island was just that. Little.
Jason was pretty sure there was a maximum number of thirteen trees spread across its rocky surface, very little sand and a lot of tall weedy grass that started at the shore on one side and ended at the shore on the other.
It was like some pegasi paradise, and as they set down all of them whinnied excitedly and plowed down into the grasses. Perhaps the salt air gave it a savory taste because from watching them, it apparently tasted much better than the stuff they were fed at camp.
The seven demigods and Calypso fanned out, circling the island, scoping out the scenery. It took them all of ten minutes to regroup in the clearing where they’d landed, finally settling, however uneasily, on the fact that the island was deserted, no monsters or mortals to speak of.
They started setting up camp, pulling some enchanted tents from their packs and shaking them out until they were large enough for several people to fit inside at once.
Leo set to work preparing their dinner, some kind of Italian food from the smell of it, and the others took no time at all to sit down on solid ground.
Piper walked over to Jason with a wobbly gait, sighing as she collapsed on the rocks beside him and let her feet trail in the water.
“It feels so good to be on solid ground again,” she sighed, watching the little ripples of waves trip across her toes.
“Yeah,” Jason agreed, yet still worried about Percy. He hadn’t wanted to leave him any more than Annabeth and now waited impatiently for morning to come around so they could resume their search.
“Looks like the tide’s going out,” Piper said suddenly, drawing his attention to the water that he now noticed no longer reached their feet.
“Uh-huh,” he said absentmindedly. “Must be getting late.”
“Dinner! Come and get it!” Leo shouted from the background and the shuffling of feet quickly followed.
Jason and Piper joined them, both smiling as they sat down to the meal.
It looked amazing. Leo had certainly outdone himself this time. Heaps of bread thick with butter and garlic accompanied a vat of pasta, complete with a deep red, just spicy enough tomato sauce and plenty of cheese.
It didn’t take long for the eight to devour the feast, even Calypso digging in as if it were the best thing the goddess had ever tasted.
By the time they’d finished, paper plates disposed of by Festus, and the sun long since disappeared on the horizon, they were all appropriately tired. Annabeth volunteered to take first watch, Jason second, and they filed clumsily into the tents.
Annabeth popped her head into Jason’s tent just as the sun was beginning to rise.
“Jason,” she whispered, prodding him gently on the shoulder.
“Your turn, stormy.”
Jason started at that. By no means did he appreciate nicknames, especially the ones he seemed to get stuck with. He was about to complain when Annabeth put her finger to her lips and motioned to the others still sleeping around them.
Okay, wise-girl, he thought with a scowl, and carefully crept around Piper, Leo, and Calypso.
Jason flipped the gold coin from his pocket and gripped the sword that appeared tightly as he took Annabeth’s place on the rocks outside. A fire was still burning though now not as brightly in the early morning dawn, and the pegasi stood nearby snorting peacefully in their sleep.
“All set?” Annabeth said, waiting for Jason’s nod before slipping silently into the tent herself for some much needed sleep of her own.
Before long, the first rays of the morning slipped over the horizon and the orange orb of the sun hung low across the still water. The waves were still a long way off, the tide must have gone out more once they’d gone to sleep. Jason didn’t know much about the ocean, but it did seem a little strange that the water wouldn’t have yet come back in. But it was probably nothing to worry about.
He took to watching the sun as it made its painfully slow ascent. It was strange, how actually paying attention to it made it look like it didn’t move at all, then how forgetting about it, it seemed to move almost fast. He’d look one second and the star was just above the horizon, and the next it’d be noticeably farther up in the sky. He shook his head, too tired to think about it.
Suddenly, one of the pegasi shook his head, finally waking up. Jason watched as the brown haired beast prodded the shoulders of several others around him, waking them up as well, until all eight were nickering to each other, apparently deep in conversation. One of the horses rose up on his hind quarters, pawing aggressively at the air, and the others milled around nervously, bobbing their heads and looking out at the far-away ocean.
Jason stood, not really wanting to have another Momus incident, and slowly approached the group.
The brown one turned towards him and whinnied, advancing a few steps and stamping the ground as if to say don’t come any closer.
Jason stopped, sword hovering in front of him, unsure if he should wake the others or not.
No, not yet. Wait to see how this plays out. Only paranormal activity on a deserted island. No problem.
One of the trees over him rustled. This would’ve been fine with Jason had there been a breeze to blame. Unfortunately, there wasn’t.
“Who’s there?” he said in his best Praetor’s voice. He was a bit out of practice with the whole commanding armies gig so, needless to say, it was less convincing than he’d have liked. He tried again. “Show yourself!”
The tree rustled again, then stopped just as suddenly. The next tree over started up, then the next, and finally Jason was just a little freaked out.
Then the voice spoke, little more than a breeze, like wind through a jungle.
Do not trust the dreams of Asteria, it said. They will lead you to ruin.
“Who are you?” Jason shouted, getting a little angry now. He wasn’t a fan of disembodied voices.
Son of Koios, the voice said. God of the air, god of the hunter’s skill, god of stealth.
“What do you want?”
To warn you. The dreams of prophecy are not to be trusted. Ignore their meaning, for they have none which will benefit you. They will bring destruction upon the world of men and gods alike.
“And why should I listen to you? If you’re Koios’ son why would you be helping us?” Jason countered.
I am Lelantos. God of the air, god of the hunter’s skill, god of stealth, the voice repeated.
“Yeah, got that.”
“Jason? What’s going on?” Annabeth emerged from her tent, eyes wide awake despite her lack of sleep.
But the voice of Lelantos had ceased. Only the sound of far off waves now sounded across the island.
Annabeth looked at Jason for an answer.
“He said his name was Lelantos, son of Koios. God of air and hunters or something.”
“There was someone here?” she said guardedly, looking around suspiciously at the tall and solitary trees.
“I’m not really sure,” Jason clarified. “I couldn’t see him, he just kind of spoke. He said something about how we couldn’t trust ‘the dreams of Australia?’ Or, something like that. Dreams of prophecy he said. How they’d lead to our destruction.”
Annabeth looked concerned, but said nothing and turned back to the tents. She got the others up, told them to get their gear in order, and approached the pegasi who had since calmed and were again happily munching on the grass.
No one dared ask what the plan was, as it was clear to everyone. They had to go back to where Cetus sunk. They had to keep looking for Percy.
“We can’t leave until we find him,” Annabeth said confidently. “We need all of us if we’re to finish this.”
“Well let’s go then,” Jason said, jumping up onto his pegasus. “No use wasting any more time this morning.”
They took off in one great mass of wings, limbs, and bronze from the little island and hurtled over the sea for the first time of many more to come.