Smoke on the Horizon

XXVII. Hazel


The moment Hazel saw Jason’s face, she knew something had happened.

She had taken up guard duty a few hours before, though at this point no one really saw it as necessary, and watched as Jason staggered out into the sunlight, his face pale and exhausted.

He coughed once, trying to find words, then looked at her and said, “Ouranos.”

Her mind went in a million directions at once, seemed to slow down and speed up, part of her wanting to think she’d heard wrong, part of her trying to think what this would mean for the quest.

Jason sat down and waited for Hazel to gather the others before explaining what he’d seen. And what he said didn’t sound good, nor did it by any means boost their morale.

“So they’re using the ocean as a way to flood the planet, that we already knew,” Nico said.

“And it sounds like they’re using the flood to get back at Gaea for conspiring against Ouranos,” Piper added.

Everyone sat in uneasy agreement. There seemed to be no argument that this was indeed the plan, in which case the titan’s had a much larger motivational factor than previously thought.

“You said they were in a cave?” Frank said. “Well then was it underwater too? I thought that’s where we thought Oceanus was - underwater.”

Jason shook his head and shrugged. “I don’t know. There was no way to tell. It was cold, and there was water around me, but I couldn’t see anything other than the ceiling and the walls. I don’t know what was around it.”

“Unless this was part of their plan,” Annabeth said quietly.

“If what was?” Hazel said.

“Maybe they wanted us to come here. Maybe it was a trick to throw us off, divide us up, and they relocated so we wouldn’t find them as quickly. I mean, Percy did say that Koios could see him in his dream. Maybe he was interfering then. Showing him what they wanted him to see, what they wanted us to think.”

It was logical, and it wouldn’t have been the first time something like this had happened. Unfortunately, that also threw their previous plan out the window, or what little of a plan they’d had. Simply finding and stopping Oceanus wouldn’t be enough now. They’d have to do more.

“So how do we find them?” Nico said, his growing anger barely suppressed.

“The dreams are our best bet,” Hazel said. “Even if we don’t want to trust them, I think we need to if we’re going to figure this out.”

“Unless it leads nowhere,” Calypso said in annoyance. “More than once now we’ve been misled with dreams.”

“Even if it does lead nowhere, it’s the best we’ve got.” Annabeth stood up. “I say we go to Delos. Meet this Asteria and find out what she can tell us.”

The others motioned their unanimous, if uncertain, agreement.

“I don’t think we can leave yet though,” Leo said suddenly, looking at his feet like he didn’t want to be the only one to disagree.

“Why not?” Frank said. “We should probably get there as quickly as possible. Give ourselves as much time as we can to find them and finish this.”

“Yes, but Asteria also said that we can’t give up on Percy quite yet. If we leave now, I feel like that’ll be exactly what we’re doing. Not to be a downer, but I think we should wait a few more days. I can’t explain why, but it just feels right.”

“I think I agree with Leo,” Annabeth said after some hesitation. “We can hold out here for a little while longer, then we can get going. A few days can’t hurt. And if we’re deciding to listen to the dreams, we might as well start now.”

No one held any objection and they remained circled up on the rocks as Leo produced their meal from his magic tool-belt. They ate quietly, no jokes or stories tonight, and listened as the sound of waves broke over the rocks.

“Sounds a lot closer than it did earlier,” Jason said after a while.

“Yeah, it looked like the tide had come in some - considering I was in its way when I woke up,” Leo said, scowling as he held up his still damp shoes.

Hazel looked out past them, towards where the ocean should have been, but she could see nothing. Just a black, empty expanse of sand and rocks spread out around their camp. “I can’t see anything,” she said. “Where were you Leo? How far out?”

“Not very,” he said, turning and gesturing vaguely behind him. “Just in those rocks over there. The tide was way out when I sat down and before long it was up and under me.”

They all shared nervous glances. How could the tide have come back in on one side of the island and not the other, especially, if anything, the water seemed to continue to recede on their side?

Great, now everyone’s worried about it. “It’s probably nothing,” Hazel said quickly, suddenly guilty she’d asked Leo about it at all.

“Yeah,” Annabeth jumped in. “No use worrying about it now. We’ll just keep an eye out. It’ll be fine. Why don’t we all get some sleep and just focus on the plan for tomorrow?”

Nico murmured something about how they could only focus on a plan if they had one, and shuffled behind the others into the tents. No one volunteered to play Security and no one mentioned it. Nothing was here with them after all, save for some strange ocean currents and a light breeze. If anything happened, the pegasi would be sure to let them know. But nothing would happen.

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