He sighed, rubbing his arms to ward off the almost freezing cold of the night, there above the clouds. By that time, everyone else was asleep, except for Leo, who seemed to have accepted as mission more than special his task to develop resources to rescue Annabeth and Percy from Tartarus. Since they had gotten rid of the last horde of flying monsters that had attacked the Argo II, he had returned to his room, looking to further study the scrolls of Archimedes.
From time to time, one or other sound drew his attention, but never was something important. A bored snap from Festus. The sound of the engines of the aircraft. The chains holding Athena Partenos in the improvised cargo in the stable. He heard a sound behind him and, this time, he saw it was just Nico. He leaned on the railing, tired. He was silent for some time, watching the horizon, with halfcrossed eyes.
– I’d love to say it’s a good idea to follow up until the Epirus hill with this ship, but it is a bad idea.
Jason looked at him with a side glance.
– I know. We are very vulnerable, even though I have advantage in the sky.
– Not only that. We need to think of a surprise attack against the forces of Gaea, if we are to have any chance. We will draw a lot of attention in the air.
– The only problem is that on the ground, the advantage is her’s.
The two sighed without great ideas.
And then, Festus sounded the alarm.
A flock of giant Stymphalian birds was rapidly approaching, making a reck with their deafening squawks and rustle of wings. Nico straightened up and took his sword, but Jason took the lead. It was apparent that the son of Hades was not yet able to fight. Festus fired flares to ward off the first of the birds, while Hazel, Piper, Leo and Frank appeared on deck, ready for combat.
The habilities of Jason, Festus and Frank, now in the form of a giant eagle, were particularly useful against the birds, which were burned, attacked and taken from their path by gusts of wind. Leo also did a good job on arms control, and in that time everyone tried to catch her breath.
– This attack came sooner than we waited for. – Frank returned to normal after landing on deck
– I bet the closer we get to mount Epirus, the worse it will be.
Jason had just said that when a second wave of Stymphaliam birds appeared on the horizon, taking all the demigods back to their battle stations. Hazel fought near Nico, seeking to protect his brother as best as she could, though the boy had to help one time or another. When the second attack ceased, the demigods looked at one another, worried and tired.
– It is obvious what Gaea intends. She wants to weaken us slowly, a wave of monsters after another. – Piper was sitting on the deck, panting
– Leo, you think you can incorporate that sphere we find in the Argo II? – Frank looked at the son of Hephaestus as he wiped the sweat from his face with his hand.
– I barely started to unravel those scrolls. I’ll need more time.
– Okay… apart from that, what are our options?
They looked at each other, probably thinking the same thing. Annabeth was who normally made the plans. And now they needed a plan good enough to rescue Annabeth and Percy from Tartarus.
Nico shifted, uncomfortably, as if he had an idea, but hesitated to mention it. He watched his own hand, as if there was something to be seen beyond his pale skin and the sleeve of his jacket aviator.
– The Prophecy spoke about Seven Heroes.
– Yes – Jason agreed – “Seven Half-Bloods Shall Answer The Call / To Storm or Fire The World Must Fall / An oath to keep with a Final Breath / And Foes bears weapons to the Doors of Death”. At the moment, we are six demigods. And a faun.
– Any idea Nico?
– It’s just … the oath … may be my promise to Percy, about we meet him and Annabeth across the Gates of Death on Mount Epirus. And the seventh demigod … I know someone who could help us.
– A … a person I met when I was still seeking the Doors of Death. Without her help, I do not think I would have lasted in Tartarus, even being a son of Hades.
He was not used to being the center of attention. He looked uncomfortable and out of place after all the eyes rested on him.
– Well .. We can send a Iris message to this person, whoever. Just cannot imagine how she will reach us here. – Piper already started to comb pockets in search of gold drachmas
– How do we will make a rainbow at this hour of the morning, even more out here? – Hazel stood, finally more relaxed
– I think it will not be necessary.
Nico said, trying to sound confident, but Jason realized that even he not knew if it would work. Jason scratched his head, shrugging.
– So kindly do your magic, please.
– Interesting… choice of words. – The boy cracked a smile, seeming to focus
Except for Leo, who waited the report on remaining ammunition and damage on Festus, everyone paid attention to Nico, expecting him to do something. He stood still and silent, eyes closed, still focusing on something that had not been very clear what it was. Jason did not remember if children of Pluto have the ability to communicate via thoughts with others, and even if he was a son of Hades, he doubted that was the case.
When Nico opened his eyes, looking hopeful, everyone looked at the surroundings, wondering if anyone would fall from the sky. But it certainly did not pass anyone thoughts that someone would sprout from the boards of the deck.
Not literally of the planks of the deck. Shortly after Nico opened his eyes, when everyone was giving up on seeing something happen, a line of dim light, purple, began to appear on the deck, drawing a circle in absolutely perfect wood. Then the lines multiplied and began to draw different symbols in the circle quickly. Until Leo had stopped his duties, watching in awe.
– Dude, what you did!? This is awesome!
– I-I do not know for sure, I think nothing.
Jason stared at Frank and Hazel, as if they already knew what to do. They brandished their weapons and pointed to the circle.
– I know exactly what this is! I saw some children of Hecate use something like this as a means of teleportation during the war against Kronos! Prepare to a invasion on the ship!
– Children of Hecate?! I thought they had been amnestied! – Piper was not sure how to act, then just drew his dagger back.
The circle was ready. The purple light became more intense, and when she fell, a girl in a black velvet cloak was standing in the center of the circle tottaly still. She waved his hand and threw the hood of her head, jumping out of the circle with two weapons drawn towards Jason.
– Grace, the praetor! Expected not to see your pile of arrogance in front of me after the war against Kronos!
– How did you find our location, LeFey!?
– A sad coincidence, I dare say. – She noticed the approach of Frank and gave a warning shot near his foot – No way, big guy. I have no business to discuss with you.
– Hold all of you, stop it!
Nico, the only one who had not drawn his sword again, shouted. The girl stared at him with the same green eyes family as before, although this time she was not wearing her glasses. She looked even more confused than before.
– I called Morgan here. She is the demigoddess of whom I spoke.