I Fight the Wrong Villain
Tmolus failed to reappear by morning, leaving me more sure than ever that he was a traitor. Aided by the fact that I’d gotten less than a second of sleep after the earthquake due to aftershocks, I was ready to hunt down the immortal king and run him through with my spear. Unfortunately, more pressing matters were at hand.
At first, I doubted that the others suspected what I did, despite its obviousness, but then Lucian clarified everything for us.
“Alright. We’ve all come to the same conclusion, but I think it’s best if we just try to forget about it for now,” he said, drawing everybody’s attention. “Our quest is to find and rescue Apollo and Artemis, not take down anyone who double-crosses us.”
There was a soft murmur of agreement, and the subject was instantly dropped. Mitchell, who seemed to have had some sense of reality shaken into him since last night, helped me take down the tents we’d pitched hastily. Heather collected the sleeping bags and tossed them into limbo, followed by the tents. For the first time since Olympia, she’d given us all a fresh pair of clothes to change into.
“Trust me,” she explained. “If we’re going to try and face the Titans today, we should look presentable.”
She was right. My shirt was torn from the wood and glass shards from last night, and covered in dust, mud, and dirt I’d been collecting over the past two days. My pants, which had originally gone down to my ankles, were cut from the knee down. My shoes were started to lose their soles, and the laces were so covered in spiky plants that I didn’t dare try to tie them with my hands. After a few minutes of poking with my spear to knock them loose, I just had Lucian magically tie them back up.
Once we were all changed, Heather proved to have one more secret with her.
“Oh thank the gods,” Lucian said. “Pancakes!”
Jordan lit us a small fire and made a plate about a foot in diameter out of magically fused gravel. Once it had been cleaned on both sides, we all warmed up two of the hotcakes each, savoring the rich, fluffy texture of the actual breakfast food. I remembered the two breakfasts I’d had at Camp Half-Blood. I’d had pancakes both times, but I couldn’t believe that something that had tasted so normal then could be such a delicacy now. What would life be like when I returned to a three-course meal of steak, pizza, and hamburgers daily?
It was 11:36 by the time we began traveling north. The wind was chilly, though I was grateful it was still late summer. I could only imagine what the temperature would be like if it was the middle of winter. Still, the occasional snow and hail would sting my skin. We all put on jackets Heather had packed, but our faces started to freeze. At one point, Jordan’s lips actually started to turn blue. There were snowflakes in all of our eyelashes, and frost collected under our chins.
“H-How l-long unt-t-til th-there’s a p-p-place to s-stop?” I asked, shivering greatly. It almost felt like the snow was being created inside me.
“Up ahead,” Heather said, and I was surprised to hear how normal she sounded. She barely even seemed to be could. “The Canadian-Alaskan border center. We’ll stop for a rest there.”
I tried to nod, but I doubted she could see it through the heavy snowfall. I hoped she was right about the border being close, because I couldn’t see any kind of building at all. Everything was just a field of white, gray, and the occasional brown of a tree trunk.
After a few more minutes, however, we came to an asphalt road that had clearly been salted. I began to see yellowish lights in the distance, and I yearned for the warmth we’d all find inside. I did not yearn for more travel north.
I was horrified when I realized that we’d only been traveling for 20 minutes by the time we reached the border. 20 minutes! Could it really mean another hour in the frozen wasteland? How could I go for three more of what we’d just done?
The border center was a long, plain terminal where cars and people were checked for illegal goods. Knowing they’d never let six unaccompanied, armed teenagers into a new country, Heather had to use the last of her energy to warp us directly into - I know, it’s bad - the girls’ room. We sent Sierra in to find the exact location so we could all get in without causing a scene, and finally made it inside right at noon. Once inside, the girls took turns leaving the bathroom to buy food and extra warm clothing. After we’d all put on several more layers of jackets, pants, socks, gloves, and hats, we had a quick lunch of a slice of pizza each from the food court. We left the border center at 12:52.
I was scared that the next hour or so would be just as bad as the previous, but it went by in a flash. The new clothing we’d gotten completely wiped out the cold, and even made the walk more comfortable. Lucian once again conjured up "air mattresses" for Jordan and Heather, though since Mitchell had started tending to his knee once again, Jordan could walk for quite a while without too much pain.
Before I even knew it, the time was 3:14 and Mt. McKinley was just a matter of minutes away.
* * *I’ve never been the kind of person who is too embarrassed to say I’m scared. However, since I was in the presence of Heather, I didn’t really want to say exactly my pants-wetting degree of fear once the six of us were all looking up at the enormous mountain, over 20,00 vertical feet of jagged rock and ice. I knew that at the top somewhere was my father, another, unknown deity, and likely the two kidnapped gods. The worst thing was that the prophecy, which had somewhat escaped my mind for the past few days, spelled out almost sure failure for the mission.
For one thing, it said “the leader must stay as debt to the betrayed.” Who had been betrayed? Or who would be? Either way, the leader would be trapped here. That meant Mitchell.
“The deities shall return, but their replacements shall fade.” Who were the replacements? Chiron hadn’t mentioned anything about gods replacing Apollo and Artemis. Could it mean something completely different? Could the “deities” be the Titans, reclaiming the earth from the Olympians, who had replaced them?
Then of course, there was the worst line. “Above the world, two of five shall die.” I didn’t even want to think about that.
However, it posed a question. There were six of us, but the prophecy only spoke of five. Unless, we weren’t even reaching the final leg of our journey. Might someone be killed before we even reach the land “above the world?” Did that even mean the peak of Mt. McKinley?
No matter what happened though, I knew it was time.
“Okay guys,” I announced, trying to keep my voice from quivering too much in fear. “We’ve come this far, we’re not going to quit now. Let’s go.”
At exactly 3:30 pm, September 29, 2011, I started up the side of Mt. McKinley, slowing the air under me to create an invisible staircase, feeling more like a leader than I ever had before. And I knew what would become of the leader.
* * *It took just over an hour to reach the summit, which I found absolutely incredible. Lucian, Heather and I used our powers over travel magic and slowing the air to create an elevator-type form of transportation. We had to constantly adjust our position as the mountain sloped inwards, and when a loose rock or snow clump came crashing down on us. However, Jordan and Sierra managed to deflect most of the threats. Mitchell, having only a bow and six arrows to fight with, mainly stood guard for anyone else standing guard, waiting for us. The entire time was spent in an anxious silence, save for the ice-brining wind that could not be stopped. As we neared the peak, I felt a shortage of breath, and I realized that if we were going to be getting in any kind of fight while up here, passing out was a major threat.
It was only when we reached the top that I realized something I’d already known. It was the snowy slope I’d been seeing, with the exact same marble white greek temple on the very top. The pelting of hail and hard snow was almost the same as I’d felt before, and I once again experienced the immense pressure of the air. Instinctively I looked down, and had the same wave of nausea pass over me as I realized how high up we were. But now, it wasn’t a dream. If anything happened here, I could actually fall to my death.
Though I doubted the Titans would allow me to live for that long.
“My . . . gods,” Heather said, and I knew she felt nauseas like I did, though she wasn’t sick from the height. Her eyes were locked onto the image of Aries, the ram, trampling onto a trojan warrior. Going along the arch continued the symbols of the zodiac, which I realized now fit perfectly into Kronos’s theme, time. It was time in the most horrific way, but still, it was a calendar.
I really hoped that decoration style was not hereditary.
The six of us stood for a moment, hovering 20,000 feet in the air, before Mitchell took the first step onto the icy rock.
“Mitchell!” I roared, only realizing later that I’d alerted the Titans to my presence. However, I didn’t care.
I jumped too.
“Lucian!” I screamed. “Catch us!”
Pulling myself into a nose dive, I caught up to Mitchell and grabbed him by the chest. I suddenly felt a tight pull on my gut, but not like the one I experience when controlling time. It was a physical pain, like a noose catching a hanged man as he fell from the gallows.
I looked up and saw a beam of bluish-silver light emerging from Lucian’s wand, wrapping itself around Mitchell and me.
“Thanks,” I yelled, and then the fear returned.
“Sure,” Lucian said, but he sure looked panicked enough. “I’ll bring you up now.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
After a few short moments of retracting the beam of light into the wand, the six of us were reunited. Heather, Lucian, and Jordan all gave me a hug. Sierra thanked me for saving Mitchell and helped him up, still in shock.
“Guys,” I said, that having snapped some sense into me. “Whatever happens, I want you guys to know . . .”
“We know,” Heather said for me, and I’d never appreciated her smile more.
* * *I hadn’t thought about how I’d planned to walk through the zodiac arch, ready to meet my villainous father and try to save the captured Olympians. Luckily, I didn’t have to go alone. All six of us walked in, lead by a restored Mitchell, and found a pitch-black, cavernous hall. My eyes started to adjust to the darkness, and I began to make out a series of doors on the two sides of the hall, leading to rooms that could contain either flowers or a pit-and-the-pendulum-like torture room. Otherwise, the area was bare, except for the central throne, 10 feet high, that seemed to be made of marble, except . . . different. I couldn’t explain it until Lucian commented.
“The throne . . . is it . . . solid?”
The throne was, in fact, not solid. It shifted form, ever so slightly, in a way that made it look like it was still being created out of nothingness. The entire thing radiated a force like that of an immortal. Beside it were two other, simple chairs made of regular marble. However, they were still 10 feet tall.
“Kronos . . .” I began, unable to find any words. “He’s gone.”
For an impossible second, that I knew had to have been slowed by my father, everything was absolutely still.
“Am I?” echoed the cold, raspy voice.
Then, with me knowing that time had been frozen, despite my being frozen as well, the lights blared on, ignited by a green fire in the center of the hall, and three dozen or so heavily armed humans lined the perimeter of the temple.
“Welcome home,” the voice boomed again, and with another flash of frozen time, the man that I knew could only be my father appeared.
With a blast the as strong as if the green hearth was burning explosives, all six of us were shot apart from one another, into the four corners as well as myself being thrown at Kronos, landing on my knees before him, and Sierra being blasted out of the zodiac arch. I was rock solid from fear, so immobile that I couldn’t even turn to see my friend falling to her death.
But I knew, then, with horrific simplicity, that there were only five of us left.
Only three would survive.
“Take them away!” barked my father, his face calm and collect, but his eyes shimmering an evil silver. No, evil wasn’t even a strong enough word for it.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my four other friends, also immobilized, dragged into four different rooms by four different guards.
“And you.” Kronos finally turned to me, and I was forced to see all of him.
From the neck down, he was a strong, muscular man, with a silver breastplate, silver gloves, and silver armored legs. His feet, which seemed to be small compared to the rest of his body, were covered in silver plating. His head, strong but slender, was protected on the top and sides by a silver helmet very similar to the one worn by Loki in Thor. I wasn’t even a superhero fan, but it was the first thing that came into my head. He even wore a similar cape, but his was a gleaming silver color.
I was pretty sure this guy’s color theme was silver.
His face, I was sure, would give me nightmares for years to come. The entrancing grey eyes that seemed to reach in and slice cleanly through your soul, and short, rounded nose and a smirk that revealed perfect teeth. Patches of grey hair came from below the rim of his helmet, but not like an old man’s. It was pure grey, like it had been made out of aluminum foil.
He didn’t carry a weapon, but I doubted that meant he’d be unable to fight and kill me if he pleased.
“Kronos,” I said, surprised by my own courage. I hardly even sounded afraid, though that was all I was feeling. Even the Titan Lord seemed taken aback by this.
“It seems that arrogance passes from father to son,” Kronos said, grinning evilly. He chuckled, as if it gave to great pleasure to be meeting his own, troubled child, to say the least, for the first time.
“Where are Apollo and A . . .” My voice died out in fear, and I truly expected Kronos to take this sign of weakness as an invitation for death. But instead, he looked saddened.
“. . . Artemis,” I finished, but it was too late.
“You are weak,” Kronos said plainly, a smile no longer on his face. “You fear me.”
I remembered something that I’d thought about long ago. Being . . . well . . . weird, I’d had a few run-ins with bullies in my childhood. Whenever they’d tease me for being a freak, I’d be . . . well . . . understanding.
“Yes, I do fear you,” I said to Kronos, and he raised his eyebrows in surprise. Then he did something even more shocking. He sat . . . but not it the big throne. He sat on the left, as if he wasn’t the king of his own castle. But I went on.
“How could I not fear you. I’ve barely known about demigods for nine days! And you . . . you’re the Lord of the Titans! I—”
Kronos stopped me.
“Titan?” he asked, as if he were confused. “I am no Titan. Titans are nothing compared to us . . . we are the Primordial Gods!”
He looked truly offended, but I knew I looked confused. I’d heard the term Primordial Gods before . . . but where? And even stranger . . . was he saying there were two Kronoses?
“How dare you compare me to the Titans!” my father roared, scaring what courage I had left, if any. He stood, and like Jordan, made a weapon appear out of nowhere. I felt a moment where time had stood still, like Kronos had frozen time to go get his weapon.
It was a double-edged sword, connected by a thick hilt that fit Kronos’s hand perfectly. He struck the ground with one of the points, cracking it. I was scared for a moment that the entire temple floor would crumble, but before my eyes, the crack repaired itself.
“Then who are you?” I demanded, completely running off of adrenaline now.
“I am the mighty Lord Chronos! Primordial God of time and the zodiac wheel!”
“There are really two Kronoses then?” I asked, my mouth running on its own. I took a step back and hastily reached for my necklace as Kronos raised his sword up again in anger. Again I saw the eerie calmness of his face, despite his obvious rage. However, he saw my spear appear in my hand, and he settled, grinning in the slightest.
“Hecatian Silver,” he said, but continued before I could respond. “I am the true CHRONOS, not Kronos. The Titan Kronos did not even rightfully control time! He was merely an agriculture god until the Romans got their hands on him! They took my powers and gave them to him. I was forgotten, along with the other Primordial Gods!”
Chronos settled, and I let the news sink in. I was not a demititan, or whatever the word would have been. However, I may have been a child of something much worse.
“It’s clear to me that you are indeed a new demigod, Alexander.”
Wow, no one had called me alexander in a long time. I’d almost forgotten that it was even my name.
“You could be great, my son, if you had only found your father sooner,” Chronos said, almost saddened.
I felt like Harry Potter, being told by the sorting hat that I should have been in Slytherin. I even had the same reaction.
“Oh?” He looked up, his anger rising again. Then he seemed to think of something.
“You asked where your gods are,” he started, a sly grin on his face. “I believe you already know.
“Now my Lord summons your presence. It is . . . time.”
Then, with a sudden flash of frozen time, my father disappeared, and I stood in front of a green hearth, surrounded by three dozen guards, three doors on my left, three doors on my right, and somehow a new mysterious Lord, who I knew must have been the other person I’d heard here.
Then, suddenly, the green hearth exploded in emerald light, and I saw, disbelievingly, as a giant crater opened in the center. A marble bridge formed a path through the flames into the pit, a shining black tunnel that could be as deep as all of Mt. McKinley, or maybe even further. I was dealing with gods, after all.
I doubted that I could get through any door guarded by the people standing in the perimeter, so I approached the hearth, spear in hand, and inhaled deeply, knowing it may be my last breath of fresh air ever.
Instantly, the marble bridge collapsed and I tumbled into the crater.
* * *
“I knew who you were the moment I met you.”
The voice, familiar, but very faintly, seemed to slowly slide its way into my mind, a fuzzy haze of nausea and confusion along with it. My leg, which could easily have been broken, felt as if a hatchet had come down on calves, tearing through flesh, muscle, and nerves, leaving a raw, rugged tear of meat. My head seemed abnormally heavy, and seemed to be twice as large on my left as on my right. My arms, slumped down at my sides, were completely numb. I had no recollection of the past few moments, though I figured out on my own that I’d fallen hard onto the rocky floor of the pit.
“After all, I had spent the last six months working with your father.”
This time, I had awoken enough to realize that Xavier, Jordan’s brother and my one-day cabinmate, was standing across a field of light, through which I could look up and see the ceiling of the temple, probably a few hundred feet above my head. He was leaning on his black, metal club. I felt a surge of pride as I saw the beginnings of a scar in his forehead, where I’d slashed him during lunch, along with smaller cuts, and a large red gash in his chest, where he’d been hurt when Jordan had come to my and Heather’s aid. He seemed to still be upset about that.
In fact, he went ahead and kicked a rock at me, cutting me right on the cheek.
“I never did understand how you were placed in the Hades Cabin,” Xavier continued. “You were nothing like us. You were weak. A fool. You could barely hold that spear in your hand without looking like an idiot.
“Although, you did have that in common with Jordan.”
I was ready to start fighting now. At least, my mind was. I didn’t see my body being able to get up any time soon.
“Oh, the years I had to spend with that disgrace . . . and the excuses that had to be made! How many times did those people insist I leave? Still, it was all worth it . . .”
Okay, this monologue has gone on long enough.
“. . . And soon Camp Half-Blood with burn to the ground. Mark my words, kid. You’ll watch as your friends all crumble in my hands. I, as the great servant of Chaos!”
“You are the great servant of chaos?” I mumbled, catching his attention. “Did no living thing want you working for them?”
I didn’t even see Xavier disappear into the shadows, but he reappeared inches from my face, his club even closer to the side.
“Do not insult my patron. The great Chaos will place suffering and torture on your soul.”
“I never thought I’d hear someone like you say something so poetic.” I was definitely gaining strength. I could almost lift the spear in my hand.
Xavier gave me a look that actually scared me. I could see myself being struck down by his weapon. I could see my soul being taken to the Underworld, trapped forever in an abyss of horror and insanity.
It was Xavier’s power as a child of Hades.
“Soon you shall regret those words, Alexander.” Wow, two Alexanders in one day. “Chaos will live through me, and destroy my enemies. I will have the immortal power of thy greatness!”
He yelled this last part up above our heads, as if he were personally talking to Chaos. Aether had said something about Chaos long ago . . . had he been the creator god? The spirit from which all else began?
It sounded familiar, and terrifying.
“You . . . will have Chaos live in you?” I said, fear finally creeping into my voice. Heather had told me about the last time an immortal had lived through a demigod. Kronos, the Titan one, not my father, had taken a human . . . was his name Lucas? . . . as a host. It had ended up in both of their deaths, but also an almost impossible war. Kronos had almost single-handedly destroyed Manhattan, as well as using his army to wreak havoc on all of the United States.
I doubted things would go just as well for the good guys this time.
“Yes, Alexander,” Xavier said, saying nothing more, letting me think everything through.
If Chaos, some evil, all-powerful god that had created the universe out of nothingness, was rising through Xavier, that meant . . . I’d have to stop him?
Yay . . .
However, it was then that I realized I had the upper hand. Like I said before, I didn’t see my body moving any time soon.
But I had as much time as I needed.
While Xavier began to conclude his monologue, I focused all my remaining energy on making time freeze. I felt a tingling in the pit of my stomach, and for a second, I thought I was going to be sick. But then, the tingling grew stronger, until I felt a strong pull on my gut.
Xavier started to slow, and his voice grew gradually deeper. He seemed to be realizing what was happening, and started to swing his club, but moving at one quarter mile per hour. I gathered my strength and stood, slowly, as my eyes began to adjust to the darkness. It was hard, as the light coming down from above kept shrinking my pupils, but eventually, I found my bearings.
I was in a large room that reminded me of a house of mirrors. Pillars, dozens, were circled around us, slightly reflecting light off of their dark marble form. Beyond, there was a perfectly circular wall that trapped us in, with no exits in sight. Along the wall was one continuous mosaic picturing the death of ancient Greek and Roman warriors, each in a unique way. One was a gladiator being mauled by a rhinoceros. One was a woman with both her eyes pulled from their sockets by black birds. Along the top was text, but even with my eyes that had been built for Greek, I had no idea what any of it meant.
My left knee gave in, and I toppled down next to one of the nearest pillars. I looked at Xavier, and saw him, having just lifted his right foot off the ground, trying to swing his club at me, but to no avail. I wondered why I was unable to entirely stop time, maybe because I was in a giant temple devoted to time.
I reached my hands to the sides of the pillar, in an attempt to pull myself up, but let go when I saw what was on it.
The sun and moon rest in the sky,
Below, the prophecy continued. I stared at the stone for a moment, before looking to at the one immediately to my left.
The Doors of Death release their lock,
Freedom to all from neath the rock.
To the north, beyond the gods, lies the legion’s crown.
Falling from ice, the son of Neptune shall drown.
Rise to life and life to earth,
A bridge restored to fight for true worth.
To the north, beyond the gods. Kyle’s spirit, when Jordan and I had summoned him, had told me about the last trip to Alaska. He’d said that almost everyone had died.
Had this prophecy led to that quest?
I looked around, seeing more and more prophecies written on pillars. I didn’t even realize for a while that it was all written in Greek. I also forgot about the throbbing pain in my legs and moved swiftly through the chamber.
Apple of the tree, where Heracles stole…
You shall rise or fall by the Ghost King’s hand…
Last of thirteen shall survive…
As I went further, I saw that there were dates at the top of the cylinder. The further I was from the center, the older the prophecy. There was one that stretch all the way back to the Civil War, talking about a great division of powers. Finally, I started making my way to the center, where Xavier had fully leapt off the ground, but frozen in the air, beads of sweat on his face from the strain, I noticed a small semicircle of pillars separate from the others.
I approached, and gasped when I read them.
They were so much more horrible than the others, talking about death spreading across great lands, souls being reaped by cursed blades, until I finally reached one that made me reach for my heart.
The master . . . rise . . .
Gods . . . fade . . .
Destruction . . . spread . . . chaos . . .
Only . . . enemies . . . survive . . .
Those were the only words that had been filled in, and as I raised my eyes upwards, I saw the date, 2023.
This prophecy was for the distant future. Yet, they were the words I’d heard in my dream so long ago, back when Laelaps, the giant dog, had been our biggest worry. How could I have known them? Did I have a connection to them? Was it because I had the power of time in my possession?
Turning clockwise, I only had a moment to see that there was nothing on the pillar labeled 2024 before suffering a pain unlike anything I’d ever felt before. My stomach seemed to be on fire, a special fire, that burns extra hot and lasts for an eternity. A fire that cannot be quelled by any amount of screaming, shouting, or swearing in Greek.
It’s the burning, fiery pain of freezing time in the realm of a time god. Chronos, he’d sensed it by now, if not sooner. Thinking of it, which was all I could do besides experiencing the full pain, I hadn’t felt the usual tugging on my gut while holding time still for an extended period of ti—well, not time, but you know what I mean.
Chronos had taken the burden from me. He’d sensed it, felt my advantage coming, and waited for me to be placed in a semicircle of pillars, trapped by a wall and a demigod with a club. Now time was being stopped, all by me, and with the resistance Chronos was giving, trying to resume time, I could literally feel my power collapsing. I tried to scream, but was not rewarded with sound.
Finally thinking, I released the pain, having it surge against me in a numbing Pop! and it washed away, leaving a ringing in my ears, tears in my eyes, and the sense that I was a living soul in the body of a dead man.
To make matters worse, this is when Xavier was restored.
“Tried to use time against me, hmm?” he said, grinning evilly. I didn’t know if his brain had been slowed during that time, if it even could be slowed any more. However, it seemed that he had memories of it all, and embarrassment flooded through him.
“Not a wise choice, while in the presence of the great, powerful, Chronos!”
“Are you saying . . .” was all I could get out, while trying to talk back. It resulted in an even more joyful smirk from Xavier.
“Too tired to talk?” he whispered, not even pretending to care.
“Alexander. I’m not one of those ‘bad-guys’ who wants the hero to die a dramatic death. I think that if a hero is going to die, it is better to have it quick, and easy.
“So, Alexander, would you like a quick death at my hand now, or live for a few moments longer with false hopes of survival?”
The son of Hades stood close enough to me that I could feel the tip of his shoe come against my aching ribs. I was on my front, my arms and legs sprawled on the floor, and my face turned to look at the spot of light coming down from above.
“I’ll take that . . . as a now.”
Xavier reared his head, and turned around.
“My lord Chronos. My patron Chaos. Let us now begin. Let thy spirit descend upon my soul!”
There was a gentle rumbling on the ground, elegant, yet impossibly terrifying. I could see nothing, but I could feel the presence of an incredible power, unlike Aether, Eurus, or even my father. This spirit, invisible, had to be the creator god. The original force. An eternal existence, between life and death, that passed over all things, absorbing them. My power drained to absolutely nothing as the force grew stronger, and I honestly would not have been surprised if Hermes appeared now to take me to the Underworld.
As I lay there, on the ground, waiting for my imminent death, my mind went blank, enough to even keep me from thinking of the ones I loved, enough to keep me from seeing Heather for the last time.
I heard my father’s booming voice echo through the chamber, responding to Xavier.
“Do you, Xavier, pledge thyself to thy patron, Chaos?” he spoke.
“I do,” Xavier replied without hesitation. I felt another wave of power spread over me, failing to draw in any more energy from me.
“And do you, Xavier, hereby swear to always serve thy patron, Chaos, even in any moment of doubt, distrust, or seeming betrayal?”
“I do.” It was much less pleasant than a wedding.
For the first time, I could actually feel Xavier gaining strength. It was like he was becoming a god himself. I knew from what I’d learned in my crash course at Camp Half-Blood that the power of a god’s true form can easily kill a mortal. How could Xavier support that kind of life within him.
“Finally—” Could becoming a godly host be that quick? “—Do you, Xavier, swear to do all thy can to aid Chaos, even if it may mean being traitor to all those who love thee?”
Knowing this was probably the most momentous occasion in modern Greek history, I deemed it worth my efforts to open my eyes and watch. Perhaps I could describe it to Hades the next time we bumped into each other.
I peeled my eyelids open and stole a glance at the traitorous demigod. Of course I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was expecting there to be nothing at all of any significance.
Xavier simply stood there, in the center of the light, facing away from me. Perhaps Chaos was invisible, and I couldn’t see what was happening at all. Maybe Chaos was so powerful that even being a demigod didn’t allow me to see through the Mist around him. That would be scary.
Finally, though less than a minute had actually passed, I started to regain feeling in my legs. Xavier hadn’t moved, hadn’t said anything. Perhaps he would be frozen until his spirit had completely merged with Chaos’s. That would give me enough time to strike. Even Xavier couldn’t really stop a spear when he was completely frozen.
Feeling a surge of regret for not gaining the courage sooner, I had the determination to stand up. Once I’d gotten that accomplished, my energy seemed to return in a steady flow. I approached Xavier, and stood behind him. I dared not turn around and see his face, because just knowing he was, somehow, human, I wouldn’t be able to do it.
I summoned my spear, slowly edging it towards his back. I knew I needed to hurry, but I just couldn’t do it . . . yet.
Poking the point against his spine, I thought about the first time I’d met Xavier. He’d been a jerk.
I pressed a little harder.
Later, he’d attacked me, and almost hurt Heather in the process.
I pressed even harder, and for the first time, a drop of blood, a sickeningly normal shade of crimson, trickled down the side. I felt a twitch, and was scared Xavier was coming to. However, it was just my own body shuddering at the sight.
Finally, I thought of something that gave me the strength to do it, truly.
Jordan said he’d been in the Hades Cabin for years. Xavier had bullied Jordan for years. He’d put my newest best friend through all kinds of torture, physical pain, doubt, even loneliness. If Xavier was gone, Jordan would finally be free of his seemingly endless curse.
I shifted my weight forward, and the arrowhead lodged itself into Xavier’s back.
It didn’t matter if Chaos was entering Xavier or not. He screamed. He shrieked with such intensity that I immediately forgot about my entire reasoning, even possibly saving the world.
It was over so fast, Xavier crumpling onto the floor, that I couldn’t even take my spear out. It made him fall at a horribly uncomfortable angle, and ripped bits of his flesh as it made contact with the marble floor. A pool of shining blood spread out all over the circle of light from above, and I knew I was about to lose my very meager lunch.
However, Xavier, channeling some kind of horrible, literally chaotic spirit, shouted only five words into the dark abyss of the chamber.
“Chaos has risen . . . through . . . Evelyn.”
* * *