“Stop!” Nico screamed as he approached the battle. Every head turned his way. It seemed as though every demigod from Camp Half-Blood were outside, wielding a variety of weapons. Percy, Annabeth, Piper, and Jason were at the center of the sea of people, their knives and swords clashing against each other.
He ran towards them and put himself in the middle of their battle. “Stop fighting this instant!” he yelled at them. “What is wrong with you? Just talk to each other, don’t kill each other!”
“You’re a little late, Nico,” Percy said, his voice still quivering from his previous tears. “The war has started. Now get out of my way or I’ll take you down too!”
“Percy, this isn’t you. It’s just Cupid messing with your mind! That goes for all of you!” Nico shouted.
“Nico, move,” Annabeth growled.
Nico’s pulse pounded in his skull. “Just stop. Please, don’t do this.”
“We have to,” Jason whispered, his voice barely audible.
“Out of the way, Nico,” Piper warned him.
“I won’t move,” Nico told them. “This has to stop.”
“Then I’m sorry,” Percy said. “But it can’t.”
Both sides surged forward. Nico shut his eyes and braced himself, but no strike came. Instead, he heard a familiar voice cry out in pain. He opened his eyes and saw Will Solace at his feet, blood gushing from his chest. Annabeth’s knife dripped with blood.
“Why would you do that? You idiot!” Nico screamed, cradling Will’s head in his hands. He could feel hot tears dripping down his cheeks.
“Trying...to save you,” he managed, grimacing from the pain.
Nico grabbed his hand and pulled them away into a shadow. They reappeared in the infirmary. “Teach me how to treat you!” Nico shouted.
“No, Nico. Go deal with them,” Will insisted.
“Don’t be stupid, I’m not going to let you die,” Nico told him. “Now how do I treat you?”
“How do I treat you, Will?” he screamed. Suddenly he felt it; he sensed death. “No, no, Will...” he muttered, his tears flowing more freely now, pooling on the metal floor of the infirmary. His anger turned to rage. Rage at Will, rage at the campers, rage at himself, but most of all, rage at Cupid.
He had to stop Cupid at any cost.
He ran out of the infirmary faster than he thought was possible, adrenaline fueling him. The battle raged on, and the green grass was turning red from blood. He leaped over fallen demigods; nothing could stand in his way.
He reached the center of the battlefield just as Jason stabbed at Annabeth, catching her in the neck. She screamed and fell as Piper roared with anger. She stabbed Jason in the arm and moved for Percy, but he was too fast. He parried her attack and swiped at her with Riptide, decapitating her with one swing.
Nico blocked it all out. He couldn’t afford to be distracted. The door to the Hades cabin was so close. All of a sudden, Malcolm came up in front of him, wielding a club. Nico had no choice but to open the ground beneath him, sending him to the Underworld the hard way.
He pulled open the doors and raced inside the Cabin that had become his home. Blood spattered against his back, but he didn’t even notice. He saw the rabbit’s foot sitting on Hazel’s bed. He leaped for it, scooping it up into his hand.
He felt Cupid eagerly awaiting him, hungry to hear his next words.
“Take me,” Nico whispered, and the world shifted around him. The battle was suddenly thousands of miles away. Instead, he stood in the incredibly peaceful ruins of Salona.
Cupid materialized in front of him. “Well, well, well, it looks like you finally came to your senses.”
“End the fighting. Stop it this instant or no deal!” Nico screamed at him. Cupid held up his hand and the world seemed to slow. The birds in the sky stopped moving, instead levitating in the crystal clear sky. The people in the distant town of Split froze, and the clouds of dust blowing through the ruins stopped twisting through the air.
“The fighting has halted,” Cupid said. “And so has everything else.”
“Look, I’m willing to be your ‘champion’ if it means the fighting stops,” Nico told him.
“Done. I swear on the River Styx that once you become my champion, I will not make the demigods or the mortals fight anymore,” Cupid promised.
“Fine. I swear on the River Styx to serve you, Cupid, as your champion,” Nico said. He felt something lock into place, something impossible to move back. Cupid started laughing cruelly, reminding Nico exactly why he didn’t want to do this.
“Nico, let me tell you why I needed you to be my champion rather than any other demigod. You have gone through more emotional turmoil than any other demigod in history. First losing your mother, then your sister, falling in love, isolating yourself, and then finding confidence. Getting a new sister, falling into Tartarus, being trapped in a bronze jar, being forced to admit your feelings, building friendship, and finally being accepted. You’ve experienced a full range of emotion, more than anyone ever before, even gods. Such raw emotion mixed with your incredible power makes you a wonderful ally and a dangerous enemy.”
“What’s your point?” Nico spat. He didn’t need reminders about his past, especially Tartarus.
“My point, is that with you on my side I can grow from being the god of love to the god of all emotion. Perhaps the most powerful god of all, surpassing even Zeus.” Cupid approached him. “It won’t be hard. Surely you’ve heard the stories of the Olympian gods turning demigods into gods? They offered to do it to Percy Jackson two summers ago, I believe.”
“Yeah, I know the stories,” Nico said. He didn’t like where this was going.
“It is not an easy feat for a minor god, but I am far more powerful than the other gods realize. It is child’s play for me,” Cupid said, and he grabbed a hold of Nico’s wrist.
Suddenly Cupid’s eyes began glowing intensely, like searchlights. A supernatural wind circled around them, lifting them a few inches above the ground. Magic pulsed from Cupid to Nico in the form of red waves, seeping through Nico’s skin, making his body throb. His vision began to dim, his body shutting down as Cupid performed the spell. “Welcome to godhood, Nico diAngelo,” Cupid whispered to him as he lost consciousness.