New York to Toledo
New York , Albany Station , 20h
Nico di Angelo has emerged from a shadow in the station. The mortals flow was not great in that part of the train station so he was not worried about whether or not he had been seen. Since he had begun his quest for the Doors of Death, a few months before, from time to time the boy returned to the human world to get some rest of his solo mission. Time passed and he was getting absolutely no idea of where he still could look , which made him worried. There were few places where he had not sought and the other options were not encouraging.
He headed for the exit of the station when, over the conversations of the people, steps coming and going, suitcases wheels running on the floor and speakers with ads about the hours, arrive and departure of trains, he had the impression of hearing a melody. Started low and quite timid, but gradually began to gain momentum, as the boy approached the source to see what other people in the station had stopped to see too. There, with a mahogany colored guitar hanging in a sling, a girl presented itself, the open guitar case on the floor, probably to receive tips. When she started singing it was like hearing the voice of the own nymphs, sweet and smooth, but there was a deep note of melancholy in the music pauses. The shiny black hair was loose underneath wool beret and a few strands hung down over her shoulders as she moved. A black coat, also of wool, slipped a bit of a shoulder, being lower than the other side, along with the sleeves who almost covered her fingers, giving it an asymmetric and careless charm, enhanced by shabby boots and long scarf. Anyway, when the song ended, she made a quick curtsy, almost losing his glasses made of silver fine hoop, quickly adjusting it with one hand. His talent out amply rewarded by people, who soon returned to their routines as if that song had never passed them by ear, but it did not seem to bother the girl, who was put to pack her things. Nico was stunned, the only one who had not moved from his place yet.
(Ghostie’s Note: If you want to know the music that Morgan was playing at that time, click this link)
The young woman turned to look at Nico, hands finishing pack their belongings; she had green eyes, but not like the eyes of Percy, who were able to remind people of the sea in its best moments; her eyes seemed to have a yellowish glow, almost feline, besides being more aware and proud. She gave a friendly smile to the son of Hades, adjusting the bags on the shoulder and then disappearing into the crowd. The boy was pulled from his thoughts when he heard the call for his train to Detroit. Nico was going to the town to investigate a possible clue to the Doors of Death, the path to the location was long and he decided to spare the forces of Mrs. O’Leary to a time when traveling through the shadows were more necessary and vital. Taking the obvious problem of having to dodge questions about their parents (or caregivers) all the time, the boy really enjoyed traveling by train. In fact, trains were one of the only constants in his early years to the present time and this usually brought him some comfort. Everything else had changed in colossal and irreversible ways and although they had many things easier in many terms, the boy lived with a strong nostalgia.
The boarding happened smoothly with the boy trying to pass as unnoticed as possible. Quickly found the seat indicated on the ticket. Had chosen a seat next to the window so he could keep an eye on the landscape. Beside him, a nice old lady wearing a purple coat sat. She asked for help to put her suitcase on the luggage rack above the banks and then settled down in the aisle seat, opening a book with battered brown cover, without uttering anything other than a thank you for the help with the suitcase. After some time, he noticed a dark shape in the corner of his eye and realized it was the girl he had seen playing guitar at the station. Awkward, she kept the bags in the luggage rack above the seats, keeping the battered black bag on the seat beside her as she pulled the boots. Thus, reclined her seat and propped his feet up on the front seat, drumming his fingers on the windowsill, probably to the music she heard in the headphones. The boy thought that carefree way matched the girl. “I just hope,” he thought “it doesn’t happen anything abnormal with this train to Detroit. I would hate to involve a mortal like her in something dangerous.“
The trip wore on slowly. Besides the train going on reduced speed in several parts of the train line, the homogeneous landscape only reinforced the impression of being stuck in the same place, though, by the clock, he was sitting just over two hours. The lady who had been reading until now closed the book and stood up, giving kind punches on her back, probably sore from standing still all that time.
Starting to get hungry , Nico took the absence of his companion seat to grab his backpack in the trunk, which had some snacks and stuff for when the famine came. Leaving aside the small package with Ambrosia and Nectar canteen and finally reaching the package of Cheetos, which had inexplicably ended up in the bottom of the backpack. It was then that he heard a familiar voice.
– Um, hi.
The station’singer was standing in the hall with a small thermos in one hand and a pot in the other. He had not noticed before, but she had two beautiful bronze rings, one on each index finger. She smiled, brushing the hair from her face with the hand holding the thermos.
– You were there earlier in the station as I sang, right?
– Yes – he was happy to realize that he had been noticed and remembered
– Whew, so I wasn’t mistaken! – She’s smiled, forming dimples in the cheeks – you accept some brownies? My older sister made a lot for my trip, I will not be able to eat half of it by the end of it. Besides, to eat alone is pretty boring .
– I think I can make that sacrifice to help you.
– How brave of you. – She laughed, extending the brownies
She sat on the chair support across the hall, propping his feet on the edge of the seat next to Nico, uncapping the thermos and pouring the contents into a mug she grabbed from her backpack. The smell of coffee spread around the wagon, caffeinated smoke rising lazily. She held one for Nico and filled a second, blurring the glasses when she was drinking coffee. Nico laughed involuntarily, already imagining that would happen.
– Here, take this. – He pulled a handkerchief out of his aviator jacket
– Thank you. – She cleared the steam and wore the glasses again – but, wow. A poket handkerchief? This is so oldschool and unexpected.
– Wel… – The son of Hades was visibly embarrassed, wondering what to say, but was interrupted
– It was a compliment.
Not being embarrassed was impossible.
– By the way, my name is Morgan. – She smiled, biting a piece of brownie – Now you can’t say you ate brownies with a unknown crazy girl by your trip.
– My name is Nico. And I don’t think you’re crazy for dividing brownies with people who you don’t know.
– You are right… crazy is my sister, who gave me all these brownies for a short trip.
They laughed in unison. Moments later the lady returned by the corridor. Morgan straightened, giving passage to the woman and returned to her place. Nico pointed the pot only halfway eaten, but she made a careless gesture with her hand, as if to say “you can worry about that later”. At that moment, the prospect of having a later was quite cheering.
Some time later, they finally arrived in Erie, Pennsylvania station. The train would make a stop for 15 minutes and then would resume the journey. Nico felt tired for not having much to do besides napping (and gods, he found strange to think that he was tired of sleeping) and observing the landscape composed of houses, green fields and old look conifer. His newest friend, however, seemed very used to travel for hours. After listening to music for some time she had exchanged the mp3 for a portable game, looking quite amused with whatever she was playing. She took some time to realize the train had stopped, stretching.
– In what station are we?
– Erie .
– Still? – she sighed – they told me it would be a long trip, but I did not think it would take that much.
– Spoke the more prepared person to travel in this train. – he sat on the edge of the bench next to Morgan, sharing space with the girl’s backpack
– I usually travel a lot. – she gave up her shoulders, as if it were natural – literally and metaphorically, inclusive.
– Me too, but I do not usually travel by train . I thought it would be nice for a change.
– Literal or metaphorically? – she smiled
– I think both. – he smiled too – So… you’re going to Chicago?
– No, no. Detroit. There’s a book that I really want and the only store which has a copy of it for sale is there. – she seemed genuinely happy and enthusiastic
– The question may sound stupid, but… wouldn’t be easier to receive the book by mail?
– Infinitely! But I need to see it in personally before. I know it sounds crazy but…
– Pff, crazy? You’re the most normal person with whom I talked in months.
She laughed and the two continued chatting amenities.
Leaving Erie and Pennsylvania behind, they would probably be reaching Ohio before nightfall. It was impressive to see how the city lights shone like stars at night, even when dealing with small towns like Kingsville and Edgewood. Finally, the son of Hades decided to return to his seat when it became impossible to pronounce a sentence without yawning in the middle of it. Morgan wished him a good night’s sleep quietly, in the same tone of voice they’ve been using to chat in the past hours.
The old lady was asleep, the book carefully close over her lap. Nico crept carefully not to disturb the lady and closed his eyes, falling asleep fast. Because of an amazingly full and busy day, he had forgotten the reason for his journey several times. After all, it wasn’t wrong to pretend to be an ordinary mortal one time or another, right?
If the life of a demigod was strange, in general their dreams were still stranger, most of the time. Since Nico started his search for Doors of Death, he hadn’t had any dreams he could remember, even trying if all his mind. All nights were dark and without dreams or images of which remind by the morning and were bleak and empty. One night, however – before deciding to travel – he dreamed of a church in Detroit, which later learn to be the Church of Saint Anne. After days without knowing where to go in search and after several unsuccessful searches by Underworld, he decided to accept the dream as a guess about where to seek further information.
That night, his dreams led him to the church again. The cement patio was empty, lit only by the poles in the cozy little square in front of the doors of the main building. The Gothic spiers rose up to the heavens, his blue almost black with the velvet night on the town, sparsely dotted with stars. The horizon was gray and dead, covered with layers and layers of pollution. But unlike his last dream, where he had been alone, there was a woman wearing a dark green velvet dress, falling in the form of gentle waves on the cement patio. The veil over the hair contrasted with the feminine and timeless face, pale white skin like alabaster. Completely black eyes, shining in a severe and dangerous manner.
She stared at Nico for a few seconds before turning toward the church, the dress billowing as she walked. The main nave of the church was large, steps echoed on all sides. If this were not a dream the boy would be really worried about all that noise attracting the attention of those who were there. He went to the altar of the church where the woman was waiting. She pointed to the bottom of the altar, made of lacquered wood with simple ornaments. The son of Hades opened his mouth to ask questions, but a strong gale began, which was strange considering that the church doors were closed . He could smell the trees and the night , scaring up with a sudden bang .
The church’s scenry disappeared in front of his eyes when he woke up, still panting with fright, his heart leaping in his chest. Outside, in the distance, he could see Lake Erie like a large expanse of dark satin. The wind still blew strong and he realized he came from a window on the other side of the train, where Morgan should be sitting. The backpack of the girl was still in the seat it had spent the whole trip so far, but he noticed that the boots were no longer under the window. The other passengers slept more deeply and comfortably in reclining seats they could. He felt that something very strange was happening. Approached the open window passing by his head, trying to see something. The comings lights projected two shadows on the roof of the train that followed the trees alongside the rails. That had been enough for him to make his decision. He closed the window, ending the wind. Went down the corridor to the door of the car and opened it, getting between the cars.
The connection swayed a lot but with some effort he was able to climb to the roof. The wind was strong, but he could hear voices talking. For security reasons, decided to stay hidden even understand what was happening. Morgan had his back to Nico, her knees slightly bent to maintain balance, back straight of haughty manner. The hair was pulled back in a braid made hastily. Ahead of her was an empousa, flaming red hair being flung back by the wind. She had a dangerously mischievous smile on her face and looked older and more dangerous than other empousas that Nico had ever seen.
– I have to congratulate you for deceiving me so well, Morgana. Now you showed yourself, would you mind telling me how you managed to hide your demigoddess scent?
– The credits are not made mine, it was my father. You know… the man knows some very effective tricks.
– What talented mortal… I’d love to meet someone like him personally. – she bit her lip seductively, Nico felt a shiver down the spine
– I’m afraid that is not possible for you in this life or the next. Let’s get this over with… Empousa! Lamia has gone too far.
– Too far? This is just the beginning, child. When we take our brothers to the army of Gaia, nobody will be able to stop our advance.
– You are more stupid than I thought if you believe me or Alabaster had any power over our brothers. Ther truth is they followed us in Titanomachy, but we were not who they were following, was the ideal of Alabaster! Even if we were to die now, you would have nothing. Nothing!
Empousa gave a hideous and deafening scream, advancing against the young girl, who deftly deflected it with a jump to the nearby wagon, only then realizing the other demigod there in between the cars. Nico saw the surprise in her eyes .
– Nico? I could have sworn you were sleeping. What are you doing here?
– I was, but someone forgot window open. What is going on?
– Just a friendly and deadly family dispute over a nonexistent power. – she pointed out that last part, staring Empousa; she laughed
– Oh dear, I thought we were leaving the Hades boy outside our argument… although not all the help in the world will be able to save you.
– And we’ll leave him out of this. He has nothing to do with it.
Having said this, she shot Empousa. The monster woman was caught off guard, getting the shot full in the chest. Nico wondered where the teenager had taken that bright celestial bronze weapon as if impressing upon realizing that there was a second gun, the first mate, in her left hand. Morgan seemed to be impressed with the rapid regeneration of Empousa.
– How is it possible…?
– What’s wrong, lil’sister… nobody told you what is happening? – the woman laughed – our master gave us immortality! You can shot me as many times as you want, but you wont’ be able to kill me!
– Morgan, she is telling the truth! The gates of death are open and do not stop the monsters from coming from there!
As if she doubted their words, she unloaded all the shots of a gun in Empousa, the projectiles spreading dust and ichor, the golden blood of the gods and monsters, each impact going violently against the woman, but it was all in vain, the scattered dust soon returned to the woman and the wounds were closed, spitting out the bullets from the monstrous and curvaceous body which were pierced seconds before. Although she could not die, it seemed very unpleasant to take all those shots. The flames of her hair intensified and the sarcastic smile disappeared from her face.
– What are you doing? You just pissed her!
– Had to confirm the theory! I’m officially out of ideas!
She dodged another attack, without having much to run. The train slowed down a bit and it was able to see a big bridge just ahead. Nico thought it was the bridge over the Grand River, crossing a deep valley. Morgan helped him climb to the roof of the train and together they ran some wagons forward, ducking and dodging magic attacks.
– Magic? That’s new to me.
– Not exactly her specialty, but she is powerful and has the advantage of not dying right now. – she brushed the hair off her face, the wind was strong
– I would say that is a huge advantage.
– We can turn the tables. Hundreds of years ago there was a disaster on this bridge with a train and a lot of people died… – she and the boy ran shoulder to shoulder, avoiding scams
– Friendly thing to think about.
– Especially because it must have many souls in the region to whom a son of Hades can ask for help. – she smiled – I do not want to involve you in this, but since we are here, care to earn me some time?
– If you get us rid of this, I gain all the time you want.
The son of Hades stopped on the way, drawing his Iron Styx sword. He focused, ignoring the cries of Empousa and scams that hummed in his ear and managed to summon some soldiers skeletons to help him. The woman slowed her pursuit, studying his newest opponent carefully. It was frightening to realize that she and Morgan had the same green eyes. He needed to buy time anyway, so decided to start.
– So… you and Morgan are sisters?
Empousa was perplexed.
– Do not compare the most powerful line of the children of Hecate with these arrogant demigods, kid. – she squinted
– Children of Hecate? Well, that explains the magic. But I thought you were on our side now, with the story of the cabin at camp and everything.
– “On your side” ? Boy, you have pretty wrong ideas about us. – she laughed – Lemme tell you one thing… not that you’ll live to be wrong about this, but learn: we, children of Hecate, are only on one side. And that would be our own. Go for the Olympians in the first Titanomachy or against, in the second, just means that we’ve been fighting for ourselves all this time. And with my little sister, you’re fighting to protect thinking that can really distract me with this frivolous matter, is no different. Do yourself a favor and do not let her fool you with the soft-spoken and friendly way. Now get out of my way! Incantare: Aeris Flagellis!
She made a gestured, throwing the son of Hades out of the ceiling; Nico felt like he’d been hit by a whip of wind and would be lost if the train did not make a smooth curve , allowing him to hang on the edge of a wagon near the end of the train. The skeletons started the attack against Empousa and although he could not see, he knew they were fighting fiercely (and with no chance of winning). The rapid movement of the train hindered his ascent, but after some effort he was back to the ceiling, this time seeing Empousas’s back some wagons in front. He ran, preparing an attack that would be impossible to be defended, the black blade cutting the woman’s body diagonally and she fell, rolling back a few wagons Nico turned to see Morgan, who was trying to draw something like a magic circle on the ceiling. He din’t understand much about magic, but he wasn’t sure if a circle that freestyle as it would really work.
– Right! Now she just needs to step on that circle.
– Looking from here, it doesn’t looks like a circle.
– The only matter is that will work! C’mon!
He was pulled by the wrist to the end of the wagon. More forward was only the driver’s cab. Empousa had already had time to regroup and was now ripping out of her way (and train) the last skeleton Nico had invoked. Seeing that the demigods had nowhere to run, she walked toward the double no with rush, limping on her celestial bronze leg.
– What is it? Already tired of fighting for your lives?
– No, not really. – the teen shrugged – just one more step.
– Ceremonia: Compedis Malefica!
A burst of energy erupted from the summoning circle, taking Empousa on surprise. Nico covered his eyes with his hand until the light diminished. The monster woman was trapped in the shaky and poor-finished circle Morgan had draw, who seemed genuinely happy with the result.
– What have you done, you…!
– Since I cannot kill you, you’ll be there for punishment, in this magic circle, thinking how clumsy and uneducated is trying to kill your younger brothers. And just get out of there when your magic power goes out or you die, whichever comes first.
Then Empousa cried out unpleasant stuff, in more languages and dialects than Nico thought I’d hear in his entire life. Morgan came down the stairs toward the first car, where were the heavy loads that could not be transported among the passengers. She sat on a box, breathing deeply.
– And is not that taking a few scratches, we are still in one piece?
– I do not understand how you did it, but you don’t know how relieved I was that it worked.
– Were you happy? Imagine how happy I was. – she reached her hand for him, the weapons were gone long , but he recognized the celestial bronze rings – we make a good team.
– Indeed. – he pressed the girl’s hand – Daughter of Hecate huh?
– Yeah… – she rolled her eyes, embarressed – sorry for the acting this afternoon. I knew Empousa would go behind me on that train, I did not want to risk anyone. When you appeared I recognized your name, because of what I heard about you in the second Titanomachy in Manhattan, so I decided keep it low profile, so she wouldn’t use you.
– Kinda of worked.
– Yes… kinda. Thanks for your help.
– You know what would be the perfect thanks? – he grimaced, still hearing Empousas’s cries
– More brownies?
– More brownies.
– Good thing my sister has made a lot.
And so they returned to the wagon where they spent much of the day. After one or two pieces of cake, they kept talking low not to disturb other passengers. Apparently nobody had noticed the lack of Empousa, once passing by the gentle lady next to Nico. The boy was asked himself how far the fog could go to manipulate the mortal’s minds.
– Won’t the ticket clerk notice Empousa is missing?
– Hm… why would he? – the girl took a sip of coffee
– I never know how the mortals will react to the Mist… can get us into trouble.
– Well… only if any mortal remember her. – she made a flourish with his hand – manipulate the Mist to obscure the vision of mortals is very simple.
– You… you can do this? – his eyes widened, then correcting himself – of course you can, you are a daughter of Hecate, after all.
– Yeah, I am. I can teach you a thing or two if you want.
– To hide or reveal things with the Mist is pretty simple, actually.
He nodded, aware of explanations. That was a long and productive night.
Nico woke a second time feeling Morgan ‘s hand on his shoulder. He as able to see the sunshine through the curtain spans.
– Good morning! – she was there, with the same lively expression as always
– I’m going to the dining car for breakfast. Have passed the Maumee River Station and I will drop by Toledo. I thought we could eat together.
– Oh, of course. – he rubbed his eyes – good hting you’ve awakem me… I haven’t told you back then but I ‘m also going to Detroit.
– Oh, yeah? – she blinked a few times, processing the information – that’s good, I will not be waiting for the bus there alone. – she smiled – you’re not going after a book, are you?
– No, no. – he laughed, getting more awake – Be sure I don’t want nothing with any book.
– Whew! – she put her hand on her chest, opening the way for Nico pick up his backpack in the trunk – It would be really a great dilemma if I had to choose you or the book.
The train lurched and the boy dropped the backpack on his own head. Fortunately, Morgan was on her back, going towards the dining car, so he didn’t had to deal with the awkwardness of that scene. He felt her cheeks warm and a slightly accelerated heart. Although he was not experiencing any battle against monsters at that time, he wasn’t so sure about not being in danger.
~end of the first part
Thus, all the presentations were made.
But the trip to Detroit is far from over and still holds many surprises for both demigods!
You won’t miss it, right?
Part two, within a week!