Smoke on the Horizon



This was ridiculous. Here he was, of all the gods, Poseidon for a father, and he couldn’t leave the confines of this air pocketed room.

All because of a little paranoia.

Percy paced the floor, thinking over strategies, what he should do. The first thing that came to him was to just go for it, plunge himself into the ocean water just outside the doorway and not think anything about it. Just like normal. Only he couldn’t not think about it. Too much weirdness had happened already for him not to think about it. Most likely, he’d end up psyching himself out and making a fool of himself as he drowned in his father’s palace.

His half brother, Triton, Poseidon’s immortal son, would never let him live that one down, that was for sure.

So his other option was to just sit there, huddled like some kid in solitary confinement who’s lost his rubber ball.

No, this is stupid, he thought, anger building up inside him at both himself and at his father for leaving him in here. There is nothing to worry about, Percy. Nothing. “I can do whatever I want,” this time speaking aloud. Maybe if he mumbled it to himself it’d be more believable. “Yeah, come on, Seaweed Brain, just do it.”

He could hear Annabeth now, making fun of him for being such a wimp.

Just do it.

He paced to the back of the room, and, turning to face the door, took a breath and ran headlong into the water.

Instead of feeling like he’d crashed into a brick wall as he suspected it might, the water received him readily, wrapping around him and pulling him close like it was giving him a big, liquidy bear hug. Everything was as it should be. He exhaled slowly, watching as the air bubbles escaped his lips and went racing toward the ceiling, and, as the last of it left his body, he found he could breath normally.

Good thing too, because the air bubble room must have burst when he’d exited and was now flooded with water. He chuckled in small victory and easily propelled himself down the hall to his father’s study.

It was much longer than Percy had first realized, and decorated in the most elaborate of ornamentation, white and blue tinted marble carved into intricate ocean scenes and lining the ceiling, their images mesmerizingly clear.

He passed many rooms, doors bolted shut with thick bronze locks, and others with no doors at all, elegant spaces visible beyond the high arched entryways. Percy dared not linger too long at any of them, instead continuing down until he reached one door, taller than the rest and more magnificent in design, an entrance fit for a god.

It was slightly ajar and yellow light seeped out into the hallway. Percy knocked lightly on the paneling and bit his lip when it creaked open a little more.

“Come in, Percy,” his father said from inside.

Percy pushed the door the rest of the way open and stepped carefully over the threshold. Inside, the room was a living mosaic of shells, coral, and the like. There was an organic feeling to the space, as if someone had built the walls and let the ocean do the rest. Several brightly colored fish drifted lazily around large stone columns, their gigantic fins trailing them like ballgowns. A huge frieze covered the back wall, the image of the Olympian throne room so lifelike Percy half-expected to hear the gods arguing.

“You like it?”

Percy jumped, having nearly forgotten Poseidon was there. He nodded, smiling sheepishly.

“Good,” the god continued. “Now, why don’t we talk?” He motioned to a chair that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere and Percy sat. “What do you know of Oceanus?”

“He’s Kronos’ brother, titan of the ocean, trying to destroy the world, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.” Percy was tired of having these conversations. Why wasn’t it ever enough that somebody was trying to destroy him? Why did he have to know every last detail?

“Yes, and I take it you remember what his role was in the last war? How Kronos used him against us?”

Percy nodded again. So he wasn’t going to get a biography on the titan after all.

“And you understand some of what he has planned for us this time around?”

“Mostly,” Percy began. “I mean, we know he’s working with Koios, and that they’re planning on ‘drowning the world’ or something. I’m not exactly sure what that means but drowning can’t really be good.” He shuddered. Definitely not good.

Poseidon nodded slowly. “I believe he means just that. They plan to destroy the human race with the seas, raise the oceans to levels greater than the world has ever seen.”

“Global flooding.”

“Precisely, and it has already begun.”

“So what has he been doing? What do we have to do? If the oceans are rising can’t you do anything to suppress them?”

Poseidon sighed and leaned back in his high backed chair before continuing. “Oceanus has power even more potent than mine,” he said. “He has the ability to control all bodies of water. He is not restricted to the seas as I am. Therefore, there is little I can do to stop all of his efforts. He has begun, however, as all great ocean threats begin. The calm before the wave, if you will. The water is receding.”

“Wait, you don’t mean,” Percy said, terrified of his father’s answer.

“A tsunami, yes. The largest of them all. A wave to swallow the world.”

Percy stared at the god, unsure how to react. “So, you said he had influence in places other than the ocean? Do I want to know what that means for all this?”

“That is correct. And what it means is that at the same time he has been sinking the oceans, he has been raising the rivers, the lakes, across the world. No one has noticed of course, placed the blame on this so-called Global Warming that the mortals have decided it is their job to fix,” Poseidon sneered.

“Okay, well, I’m pretty sure that’s an actual thing,” Percy muttered.

“What they do not realize is that their lands are about to be flooded from both directions,” Poseidon continued, either choosing not to respond to or not having heard Percy’s remark. “Oceanus believes he has ensured his success, as I am unable to do anything about a large part of his plan. Now, we do have another problem to attend to however.”

“Cause that’s a surprise,” Percy said with a smirk.

Poseidon shrugged and continued. “As the ocean is receding, and rather rapidly at that, there are many underwater landmasses that have begun to reappear.” He paused, as if waiting for Percy to come up with the problem on his own. “Atlantis is one of these.”

“Wait, like, the city? The actual city of Atlantis is going to be back above water?” Percy couldn’t help but smile at this. This was like, the biggest news ever. He’d always liked the idea of Atlantis and, now that he knew it existed, thought it was pretty cool if it suddenly reemerged from the bottom of the ocean.

“Well, not exactly ‘back’ above the water,” Poseidon said with a grimace. “That is just a legend. There was once a sunken city, but the name was unoriginal and nothing is left of it to prove its former existence. Unfortunately, remnants of its civilization survived scattered across the sea floor and as mortals began to discover lost artifacts from these both the actual city and my city came to be known as one and the same thing.”

“Oh,” Percy said softly. “Right.”

“This does prove a problem for my people, however. Though I would not normally be concerned with something like this, the oceans changing so drastically and so often as they do, this situation demands special attention. It is receding far too quickly for my liking, and although I can stave it off for the time being, I cannot do so indefinitely. We must set a perimeter around the outskirts of the city. Ensure that the ocean stays, if only for a short while, far enough away from my people until this has been resolved.”

“We?” Percy said. He didn’t know he was expected to stay. Sure, he’d gladly help his father out, but at the moment he was a little more concerned about getting back to his friends and helping them to defeat Oceanus and Koios. They only had, how many days now? Percy couldn’t remember properly. They had left five days ago, maybe. He been in the palace for one day or two, he wasn’t sure.

Either way, he wanted to get back to the others as quickly as possible so they could get this over with, no matter how it ended.

Apparently, however, Poseidon had something different in mind. “Why of course,” he said as if it were as obvious as the fact that they were currently in an underwater palace at the bottom of the Atlantic. “And besides, you can’t possibly leave like that.” He motioned to Percy’s bandaged side. “You must heal up before you can go rushing into battle. Come, then. It is late. You’ll need your rest if you’re to help me tomorrow.”

“Wait, wait, wait. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I really think I need to get back to the others. We’re kind of on a time crunch here. I’m honored that you want me to help with this, but I don’t really know how much use I’d be.”

“Oh, don’t be ridiculous, Percy!” Poseidon insisted. “You don’t think I know you’re on a schedule? But a few days surely won’t hurt. After all, it all comes down to that final day, doesn’t it? Those last few hours? That is all that matters in the end. Come now. You can stay in the guest chambers.” And with that, the god turned out of the room and waited for Percy to follow behind before sealing the door shut.

“And it’ll only matter if we get there on time,” Percy mumbled.

Poseidon led him down a brightly lit corridor, more closed doors lined up neatly on both sides, shell encrusted banisters along the walls, dark glossy slates tiling the floor. The odd crab scuttled out of their path as they made their way along, not stopping for anything but continuing on in relative silence until they came to one room with a slightly smaller entrance.

The panel was a dark shade of periwinkle, a bronze knob bolted down securely, which Poseidon turned confidently, letting the door swing open and ushering Percy inside.

There, in Percy’s opinion, sat the ultimate hotel room. Plush bedding which, surprisingly enough, was softer than anything he’d ever felt, even underwater, was laid snuggly over a bed that was overwhelming crowded with a godly assortment of pillows.

“Do you think this will do?” his father asked.

“Uh, yeah. I think this’ll do just fine,” he said, shocked by the question.

“Good. Then I’ll say goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” Percy said, still not totally comprehending what was happening.

“If you need anything, just call and someone will come.”

He nodded and Poseidon exited the room, shutting the door behind him.

Percy sat down on the bed, suddenly overcome with exhaustion, and fell into a deep but by no means undisturbed sleep.

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