Smoke on the Horizon



Leo and Festus got landed with tide check.

It had been a week since Jason had had his dream and Ouranos had come into the picture. A week since they’d taken notice of the irregular tidal patterns, and had since established that there was indeed something not quite right going on.

The eight had set up a rotation, pairs at a time going out each morning and each night and keeping an eye on how far or how close the waterline stayed from shore.

It was yet to come in on the far side of the island where they’d made camp, and where the tide had woken up Leo before, the water had once again receded far into the distance. Now, as he looked down over Festus’ broad neck, the sea was eerily calm, glossy and flat. Too flat in his opinion.

Calypso glided beside him, her pegasus comfortable now and almost friendly with the dragon whose presence still invoked the occasional agitated nicker from the others.

The sun was low on the horizon, not quite blinding but not quite comfortable to look into either. Leo sighed and hunched over on Festus’ back, knowing he was scowling but not caring anymore who saw.

Okay, maybe that wasn’t entirely true. He did care if Calypso saw, and he immediately tried to correct himself when she did.

“Alright, what’s wrong?” she said.

“Nothing.” Leo put on his most convincing Why would anything be wrong I’m perfectly fine! Look, a rainbow! expression. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite convincing enough and the look she gave him ordered him to keep talking. “I don’t know,” he continued, glancing away and off towards the distance. “I know I was the one who originally said we should stay, but now I’m not so sure we should be here for much longer. A week seems a little extensive, don’t you think?”

She nodded thoughtfully. He was glad he could count on her to be truthful. Calypso had no trouble with honesty.

“I do agree,” she said after a moment. “I agreed with you then as well, about not leaving without Percy, but I can see your point now. Perhaps our leaving wouldn’t be the same as abandoning him. Perhaps we will have to in order to complete this quest. As long as we don’t allow ourselves to act as though he were dead, I don’t quite see a problem with moving on for now. If he really is alright, he will find us when he can.”

Gods, Leo loved how she could do that. He relaxed a little. So he wasn’t totally alone in this thinking. And who knew? Maybe the others thought the same and just hadn’t had the nerve to say it yet. Not that Leo wanted to be the one to do it. No he’d much rather someone like Jason or Piper or Hazel do the talking, especially on such a touchy topic. But if he had to, he had to. End of story.

But he didn’t have to worry about that now.

No for now all they had to worry about was the status of the tides. And the current that had just picked up about a mile off the western shore.

“You see that, right?” Leo said, praying she would say no.

“Yes,” Calypso said and he bit back a curse.

It was as if some invisible submarine were plowing through the water towards the island, its choppy wake sawing through the otherwise and previously pristine surface. As it approached, edging closer and closer to the shore closest to their camp, it began to slow and finally it stopped completely.

But it was by no means finished.

Where the water calm last, it slowly began to swirl again, smoothly this time though no less powerfully. Before long the spot in the ocean resembled the drain of an old bathtub, a massive whirlpool opening up and sucking everything nearby down into its unspeakable depths.

“Woah,” Leo said, both awestruck and horrified at the sight.

“We need to get back to the others. Better yet, we need to get off this island. I think your hunch is correct.” Calypso urged her pegasus on, and, Festus following close behind, together they soared back to camp.

They landed hurriedly on the shore, hooves and claws thudding loudly on the damp sand. The others looked up from their various and idle tasks in surprise, not expecting Leo and Calypso back so soon, coming forward hastily to see what the problem was.

Because of course there was a problem. They hadn’t had a proper problem in nearly a week. They were long overdue.

“What is it?” Annabeth said, already anticipating what they were going to say.

“Not sure,” Leo said, knowing how his saying a big something would go over with the group.

“We need to think about leaving,” Calypso jumped in, sounding much more commanding than Leo ever could. “There’s something to the west, just off shore, monster or some kind of magic there’s no way to tell, but it can probably be assumed we don’t want to find out.”

Leo caught Jason’s eye and knew they were both thinking how Calypso could call a monster a Something and get no complaints, yet when anyone else said it it sounded stupid.

“Is it an immediate threat?” Frank said. “Like, do we have to leave now, do you think?”

“It’s probably fine for now. We need to watch it certainly, make sure it’s not getting any closer, but we definitely need to prepare to move on.”

Annabeth fidgeted a bit, but said nothing. She clearly was not comfortable with the idea of leaving Percy behind. Not after they’d waited this long. But something in her expression said she knew they might not have a choice.

“I say we hold out till morning,” Leo said, watching her reaction carefully. “Even though Asteria said not to give up on Percy, I don’t really think our leaving will be giving up on him. He’ll find us when he can. I’m sure of it.”

She sighed and her shoulders dropped heavily around her. “Alright,” she finally said with a breath. “In the morning. We’ll pack up the pegasi and get out of here. Leo, can you make sure you know the course to Delos? We can’t waste any more time than we have to.”

He nodded, smiling a little that she was going along with his suggestion and trusting him to get them to their destination.

They put together their packs and set them outside with the rest of their supplies, the only things left to condense and store the tents, and wasted no time in getting some shut eye.

Leo found himself much more tired than he’d previously realized, perhaps the reality of this mysterious Delos eating away at his adrenaline, and he had no trouble in falling deeply asleep, dreamless for the first time in weeks.

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