Few things had taken Nico’s his life; the death of Bianca, getting stuck inside an amphora for a week, and now he could add to the list in formation: “witness a fight between two demigods in the middle of a storm”. A mixture of admiration and apprehension took over the boy when Morgan jumped over Jason with all her might, staring the son of Jupiter with the eyes of a predator. Curiosly, that Morgan reminded him very little of the Morgan he had known and helped to fight in the Central Park, many months before, but he had no doubt that he could heavily rely on someone who advocated theirs causes with such commitment and ferocity.
She was talking with Leo, tendeding the wound in her leg, seated on the deck of the Argus II. Nico had recovered the the daughter of Hecate’s rifle with sawed barrel of and now was heading towards the duo, to return it. Morgan was wobbling, seated, probably trying to scare away the pain, but incredibly she managed a smile when she noticed Nico nearby, just the way he saw her smile several times before.
– Hey, Nico…
– Relax Morgan. – He extended the gun – no need to apologize, Jason crossed the line.
– Um, thank you. – She grabbed the shotgun, returning it to a holster on her belt – and I did not intend to apologize for anything. I don’t believe I have done something wrong facing Jason.
– Ah. – He was surprised by the answer – so what we’re you going to say?
– I need help to go back to the points I marked to lift the magical barrier. It will help us against the spirits of nature that you guys were talking about, so I can’t just wait to get better to go. Care to help me?
– You will not be like that time in your house, are you?
– I promise I won’t.
– What time? – Leo raised an eyebrow – you’ve been in her house? Heck Nico, looking at you nobody says you are capable of these things .
– “these things”? – Nico raised an eyebrow
– Long story short, yes. – Morgan frowned, rolling her eyes – was where I invoked the protections for Nico to cross through Tartarus.
She touched Nico’s arm, and the symbols that she had drawn months before lit up with a faint bluish glow that made her smile; Nico shivered with the cold touch of her fingers, remembering the time when the symbols had been designed with care, skill and cold ink.
– And there they are, still. – She seemed to be sincerely happy – we have a good advantage without the monsters being able to sniff us while I do the spell, this is really great.
– Great is good from what I understand. – Leo held Nico ‘s arm, watching the symbols – okay, I didn’t understand any of it but…
– We are two. – Nico sighed, shrugging – when will we leave?
– As soon I finish bandaging this here.
She wrapped a band around the wound whose bleeding has ceased and stood avoiding the help of Leo and Nico, probably wanting to show that she was good for at least walk alone. The son of Hades stared down Admiral Valdez one last time before going down through the ramp of the deck, flanked by Morgan, who appeared preoccupied with other things. On the way the girl regained her soaked velvet robe.
The boy hadn’t noticed before how the ground was unstable and uneven, full of loose stones, extremely slippery areas and full of underbrush with a overall terrible appearance. Not that the storm falling was helping improve the vision of the environment. On the contrary, it was almost impossible to see clearly beyond 4 meters in any direction. Every noise produced by the wind and the thunder, besides the rain itself, made vocal communication a strenuous and overwhelming task for the speech. Fortunately for that context, Morgan was a kinesthetic person, of touches and expressive gestures.
Even like that he realized that the girl was unusually quiet, though he hadn’t any idea of her motives. She made two or three observations about the way in the rain, with gentle pokes or touches to the boy’s arm, indicating safe places for step in or the right direction to take in the middle of the storm, which was very helpful since Nico had no idea where they were going. They walked through the mountains for a while longer until she stopped, facing nothing seemingly special and began designing a small magic circle on a stone on the ground with white wax.
The symbol was too complicated for Nico to remember it in detail later, but it involved several circles, Greek letters, symbols that the boy did not know (although he believed they were part of Alchemy) and other things. When she finally finished the drawing she took a handful of earth and placed it inside a small jar sealed with a stopper, depositing it on the corresponding symbol, repeating the process with a canteen, where poured some water into a small pot also with stopper. The rest was the symbol of a new moon, and Nico wondered what she would take from her pocket next.
– Let´s go to the next.
– Oh, what do you mean you don’t have moon piece in your pocket to put there?
– You know, it was missing in all suppliers. – She laughed – I had already explained to Valdez, but you missed that part I’ll say it again. The earth represents the Underworld, the saltwater is the Sea. The new moon represents my mother, and I don’t need to put anything there because…
– Because today’s new moon night.
– Bingo! So instead of spending my energy with it, I will use the symbols of my mother as a catalyst to activate the magic barrier.
– In short, you will not faint and I will not have to go back to camp carrying you.
– …among other things. That’s it.
– How many points we need to activate the barrier?
– Seven, counting with that one.
They continued, Nico always following Morgan. The boy was alert to both threats of monsters, or to possibly prevent Morgan from falling with the slips from the wet stones. She didn’t said, but she was visibly irritated with the injured leg, softly cursing whenever she stumbled or tripped. The second and third markings passed smoothly as the first. On the way to the fourth marking the rain intensified and the son of Hades realized that his companion was breathing heavier than before. He noted apprehensive when she leaned on a rock, slow to catch her breath, the injured leg was shaking slightly.
– Let’s stop and get some rest.
– That was the best suggestion of the day, so far.
They found a small cave where they could take shelter from the rain and the wind fairly well. There they even managed to find some dry twigs and leaves, more than enough for a small fire. Some failed attempts and fingers with barbs after, and Nico managed to light the fire, interposing himself between it and the wind so that the flame does not go out. Morgan sprained her soaked velvet cloak as she could, extending it on the ground to dry as much as possible. She remained silent, leaning her elbow on the knee of the good leg, holding her chin in her palm, watching the rain outside carelessly; dark circles under her eyes and the tiredness of the fight and the walk were visible on her face.
– So… – Nico did not seem to know what to say – how works that magic that brought you here?
Morgan seemed shocked. She stared at the boy with her green eyes, a neutral expression, until she finally opened a smile, leaving her tired aspect aside.
– That was a basic spell of passive invocation. We call it Committo Amicus, bring a friend.
– It’s a really useful thing. – He sprawled on the floor, curious – The children of Hecate can make spells for anything?
– In theory. – She shrugged – Spells, rituals, invocations and amulets. The ammo I use in my weapons, for example, is a type of condensation spell.
– That I had found amazing since we faced together that bald in Central Park. I never thought in a mage using firearms, like you. – He was genuinely excited
– Ah… this is nothing. – She blushed a little – actually I just perfected the condensation of spells in the best method for me. Even shoot I learned with my sister. If she were a card of Mitomagic, she would certainly be a version with skirts of Roderick Bannon.
– His card has one of the largest sums of total points and I think that is the only one that combines Magic and Dexterity in the maximum values. It is very a overkill card! – He was thoughtful – Titania already scared me before, now then…
– You know… who is used to say she is overkill is for sure someone who has already lost to her once. Like in the embrace of the Troll. – She had a mischievous smile on her face
They laughed together, continuing the talk, which was great, they spoke about past Mitomagic collections and she did not blinked in explain about the best cards (in her opinion) of the newest collections. Outside, the storm slowly decreased to a steady rain, the sky brightening considerably. Morgan dusted her short when she rose.
– I think we can continue now.
– Are you sure?
– I am. In addition, with the sky laden like that I totally lost track of time. I want to finish it before the new moon being at its apex.
– Okay. With the weaker rain it should not be difficult.
They resumed the path without any problem. With the sky a little brighter and the rain less fierce it was possible to better see the way for where they walked, significantly reducing the incidence of slips by Morgan. But the decreased rain also seemed to have attracted other creatures out of their burrows; during the walk to the fourth marking Nico watched the path behind the double when his nose collided with Morgan’s back, who was on a higher plateau of the hill that they were climbing. She backed away and the boy was pulled by the girl into a small gap between rocks, motioning for him to be quiet. A pair of chimeras passed in the opposite direction, sniffing as if searching for clues of something (or someone) in the rain. The creatures were slow to leave and even after that the demigods still remained some quiet time in the slot, waiting to come out.
– If I didn’t know better, I could even say that these monsters don’t want to leave us alone. – Morgan gave a mysterious smile
– Yeah-ah… – Nico blushed, only then realizing how close they were. The top of the daughter of Hecate smelled of fabric softener and deodorizer – we must hurry.
– Even more than before. There should be monsters everywhere looking for us since we dropped one wall of the mountain on their heads.
The son of Hades agreed silently. Rushing even more, the way to the fourth marking passed in a blur for the boy following Morgan. They jumped over rocks, small creeks formed between the rocks by rain and skeletal trunks of dead trees. Recovering the spatial concept with more light shining through the lighter rain, the boy realized they were circling the entire area around the Argus II and therefore was able to correctly assume that the last tag would be on the side of a rocky valley. When they finally reached the edge of the valley Nico gasped at the sight of the place, even with the gray skies and still obscured by the recent storm was possible to see clearly the whole region in the valley: a field speckled by low trees stretched across the opposite side of the valley. A waterfall pouring water in the river that ran into the sea, forming a pocket of clear, clean water at its base. The river banks were rich in high green grass, and trees as seen on the hillside. Nico felt a tap on his shoulder. Morgan handed him a rope. The boy realized it was tied at the waist of the girl, and gave two laps in a nearby tree.
– You will need to get me down.
– Are you sure?
– No. – she smiled, beginning the descent
Soon, Nico lost the crown of Morgan’s head from his view as she descended the wall of the slope. He was releasing more and more rope for the girl until he to heard her exclaim that she already was in the right spot . It was difficult to hold the rope wet as it was, but the tree offered good support, in favor of the boy, and Morgan was not so heavy.
However, during marking, Nico saw in the distance a couple of chimeras; it didn’t matter to the boy if they were the same duo of before or not, it was bad anyway. There was no way he could get the attention of Morgan without attracting the attention of the monsters . Actually, while he thought about what to do, the chimeras had already noticed the boy and started runnig towards him.
– Still missing much there?
– I’m still drawing the circle. Problems?
– Do not hurry then.
He tied the rope that held Morgan to the tree, wielding his iron Styx sword, and then summoning two skeletons soldiers to help him against the chimeras that roared fiercely. It was time to fight them.
PS: And then the chapter with the highest number of in-jokes of the world (between Morgan and Nico) I would like to announce that in the coming weeks we will have exceptionally special “From New York to Detroit” to explain how these little people so distinct met, divided into 5 shares! After this period, we will return to our usual programming ^^