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Tick Tock

Chapter 3

Traversing through the forest, everything was silent for a while... all except for the noisy crunching of dead leaves and browning grass. It's only mid-Summer, but the accumulation of dead leaves caused the forest ground to become quite noisy when disturbed. Shadows hid our faces, and that one random patch of light that would show up every once in a while would reveal everyone's troubled expressions. Annabeth appeared deep in thought, Percy looked like he was determined not to trip on a tree root... and Grover... well, Grover started to munch on a Coca Cola can after 20 minutes of walking. How is he eating that? I honestly have no clue, and I don't really want to understand it. My mind drifted to the prophecy told by the Oracle... I explained to Annabeth that my father was a merchant of watches... but even I doubt that's the true answer to this. In ancient times, it's been said that these quests and prophecies appear in the form of a riddle... riddles are meant to be puzzling and confusing until it becomes clear a moment too late. That's how prophecies are supposed to work, or so I'm told. Son of time... what does that even mean? Hypothetically, if I was a demi-god (which I'm not), there's no god that controls time in any way. I honestly think Annabeth's got it all wrong, and maybe the son of time is someone who's a little more... I don't know... fitting for the role of a hero.

The gladius strapped to my side felt heavy... heavy with all the responsibilities laden into it. At the end of the road... at the end of this quest... what the hell am I going to do? My family's dead, they're an adopted family, but they're all I've ever known. What am I going to do once we finish this quest? Am I to die on this journey? Just the thought sends shivers up my spine... maybe I'm meant to die. Maybe that's why they need me in the first place... because I will serve no other purpose once this is all said and done... so why not just sacrifice me for the greater good?

I didn't even notice the sound of footsteps stopping before I walked right into Annabeth. "Hey! Stop!" She hissed quietly, and I stammered out an apology as I regained my balance and stood there with them.

"What is it?" I questioned softly, swinging my head from left to right, peering into the darkness.

"Ssshhh." She hushed me, and I frowned, but remained silent. What's going on? I glanced at Percy, he had somehow had his sword out already, and he seemed on edge. Was I the only one who couldn't sense the danger in all of this? Looking over at Grover, I noticed he had stopped chewing and had a half-eaten can in his hand, if he had any short fur, it would be standing up right now. What was everyone so worried about?

"MOVE!" I felt a hand on my chest, and I fell backwards as something that looked vomit green shot past where I would've been only a second ago, and it landed on a tree trunk. It hissed madly and spluttered, then the tree started to fall. Oh dear gods... whatever the hell that was... it can kill.

"Holy Sh-"

"Watch out!" I sensed it before I saw it, I don't know how. My body sprang into action before I could think and a vile green globe launched itself into the ground where I had been only mere seconds ago. Panicking, I tore my blade from its scabbard and held it in front of me, preparing to face whatever was attacking us head on. I started to feel slightly nauseous as my body placed digesting food on the bottom of its priority list, my breathing and pulse quickened and I could feel my pupils dilating. In the shadows, I could make out a vague shaped... it looked deformed and weird.

"What is that thing?!" I yelled, and it turned to face me... I think. Its eyes glowed gold in the darkness, and I gulped as we stared at each other for a moment.

"I can't tell for sure, but I think it's a chimera!" Unexpectedly, it's Percy who answers me. What happened to Annabeth? I glanced left and right and spotted her standing quite a distance away from me, trying to sneak up on the creature in the shadows. No... stop! The creature noticed her. I have a horrible headache as my pulse races and I find myself sprinting toward the monster. A terrible sense of deja vu grips me as I feel time slowing down from my adrenaline and it was as if everything was panning out in slow motion. A beam of light landed on the head of the creature, its mouth was open and it was rearing up to shoot another ball of acid. I planted a foot near its left forepaw and I jumped, slashing down at the creature.

Of course I friggin' miss the head and hit its shoulder. It roared out in pain and bucked wildly, then shot its acidic saliva out. I bought Annabeth enough time for her to roll out of the way though, that's good. My victory was short-lived as I noticed the tail coming up, and it looked almost like a... a snake? It launched itself at me, fangs out and pissed off to all hell. My eyes widened, and I felt like a deer caught in the headlights. My mind was screaming at me to move, but my body refused to budge. There's no more time for me to move, I'm going to get bitten... I'm going to die... holy crap, I'm going to-

Shing I felt a spray of blood as Percy's blade decapitated the snake and embedded itself into the side of the chimera. "Jackson, pay attention!" He yelled at me, and I realized that he meant hurry and kill the damn thing already. Pulling my sword out of the chimera's shoulder, I take a sidestep as it swung down with its forepaws. Now's my chance! I can't let it recover! Bringing my sword arm back, I prepare to swing at its head when I noticed its eyes bearing down on me. I was slightly jarred by its violent gaze, it wanted to kill me... no... that's not it. What is it? I parted my lips to say something, but in that moment the monster exploded outward as gold dust and ash. I couldn't breathe for a moment as I felt the gold dust clogging my nostrils and mouth, but I eventually got my breath back.

"What was that?!" It's Annabeth's voice, and I notice the bronze dagger laying by my foot.

"Huh?" She came up to me and grabbed the front of my shirt in a rather intimidating manner.

"Why did you hesitate? You could've gotten yourself killed!" She sounded pissed off, but I sensed a slight trace of worry and concern in there. Why?

"I-I'm sorry... I don't know what happened."

"Annabeth..." Percy and Grover were trying to rein in the seething girl. What was wrong with her? I hesitated, so what? Am I not meant to die?

"Listen, Jackson. You can't act recklessly like that. Don't jump in if you haven't got the proper training for it. If you die, where would our quest be?" Ah, that's what she was so worried about.

"Right." I mumble, adjusting my shirt so that it wasn't so wrinkled at the collar. She gave me one last, hard, pressing look before turning to pick up her dagger.
"I'm sorry." I apologized quietly and she paused before straightening up. I couldn't tell if she was mad or what.

"Don't pull a stunt like that again." That's all she said before shouldering her backpack and turning around. My nerves suddenly tingled again, and I realized too late that there was another chimera hiding within the shadows.

"ANNABETH!" I yelled, my hand reaching out to her, but she was beyond my grasp and the creature launched itself from the darkness. Percy realized a beat too late that his girlfriend was in danger and we both tried to rush in to save her, but there's no way. She's too far... there's not enough time. Annabeth looked back at us and realized what was going on, but it was too late. She has no hope of pulling out her dagger in time without getting hurt. No... NO! I let out a horrible cry of panic before a silver blur whipped through the air and pinned the chimera to a tree before it burst into golden dust. Percy continues onto Annabeth, but I stayed put and looked for the source of that silver blur. It couldn't have been Grover, satyrs have no such abilities. I took a furtive glance at the trunk of the tree and realize it's an arrow. An arrow? Hunters?

The bushes started to rustle all around us, and I tensed up, holding my blade at the ready. "Put your weapons away, Percy Jackson. We have no intention of harming you." It was a female's voice... pretty young... I don't know. I glanced over at Percy and he nodded, so we all sheathed our weapons,

"Come out from the shadows!" I called, and about a couple dozen girls emerged from the bushes carrying bows and arrows.

"Thalia! Man am I glad to see you!" Percy's voice spoke playfully, and I realized these people knew each other. A tall girl stepped forward and lowered her hood, and she was a dark-haired girl with eyes like lightning.

"Percy, Annabeth, are you guys okay?" The girl seemed concerned, but another girl stepped forward. She looked... young. When she pulled her hood back, I was a bit startled at how young the girl really was. No older than 12, only at the cusp of puberty. Her eyes were violet, yet they seemed to be always changing shades and her hair colour rested somewhere between light brown and silver depending on how the moonlight hit it.

"Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase... Grover." I didn't expect such a commanding voice to come from such a young girl, and I felt completely stupid as the three around me bowed their heads slightly. I was confused. The young girl stepped forward, her cluster of young girls trailing further behind, but their bows were nocked with arrows in case we would attack or something.
"And you..."

"Yeah, Yu. Jackson Yu." I reply, mistaking her words for my name. Her face contorted with annoyance before she shook her head, and a cool calmness settled over her features again.

"Do you know where you are headed?" I glance over at Percy and Annabeth who both shook their heads, and I imitated their gesture.
"That is unfortunate, indeed." She seemed unfazed, perhaps it was an attempt at imitating pity?

"Artemis, surely you can unravel the prophecy?" This 12 year old little girl is the Goddess of the Hunt? I guess that would explain the bow and arrows. The goddess shook her head,

"We gods cannot interfere with the affairs of mortals. We only sensed monsters at the borders of Camp Half Blood and that is why we intervened, nothing more, nothing less. Please understand. I will allow you to continue on this quest, no matter how dangerous, just know that the more time you spend on hesitating, the less time you have to spend on action. Time is running out, I hope you know what you are doing... the fate of Olympus is at stake here." She turned to walk away.

"Wait, Artemis!" Annabeth called, and the goddess hesitates.
"Tell us, what is happening? Monsters have been sighted far more frequently around Camp Half Blood... please you must tell us!" A sigh escaped the young girl and she turned to gaze at the four impassively.

"Lately, the Gates of Tartaurus have been strange, or so I hear from Hades. It's almost as if the gates are broken, and monsters are pouring into the mortal world."

"But that means-"

"Monsters that were once sealed away are coming back. Yes, but the most powerful monsters... the ones confined to Tartaurus' darkest depths will take longer to spawn. That is why you must hurry... time is running out." She spoke in finality, and walked away, and we were pretty sure she wouldn't stop even if asked. The girl named Thalia glanced at us uneasily,

"Be careful out there, guys." She retreated with the rest of the girls into the dark night. That left us standing there with a whole lot to think about.

We started to walk again in silence once more with nothing but the sound of crunching leaves under our feet to accompany us. "Are you thinking about the place I'm thinking about?" This question from Annabeth seemed to be directed toward Percy.


"What's going on, guys?" I question, confused by their agreement on an unspoken subject.

"Well, you see, last year we fell into Tartaurus from this big hole." Percy began to explain,

"Basically, we're going to the homeland... Greece and maybe Rome." She tacked on the last part when I gave her a confused expression.

"How are we getting there? I sure as hell can't swim across the Atlantic, I'm sure Merman here can, but I'm not exactly a demigod." Percy let out a sigh,

"Of all superheroes... why?"

"Guys!" Annabeth stopped our bickering and looked toward what would be the shores of the East Coast.
"We know that Poseidon and maybe Zeus hate Jackson for some reason since they practically chewed him up and spat him out onto the beaches of camp..."

"Yeah, I don't know if you know this, but that means we can't really get to Europe."

"Au contraire, we can make a quick shortcut through the Pearls of Persephone." Annabeth pulled out a map and Percy let out a startled grunt,

"You still have that thing?" The first spot that lit up was at some place called The Shifting Labyrinth in New York City. It's part of a carnival that appears every year from Summer to Winter before moving to somewhere else.

"Looks like Persephone put out some new pearls, we'll just have to hope there's enough this time around."

"Doubt it." Grover bleated and I look at them weirdly.

"Cross your fingers then, guys. We're going to need all the luck we can get now." I chuckle and we started toward the carnival just as the sky started to turn a deep pastel blue.


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Lol first story on the site!

Chelsea_Delos Chelsea_Delos
Really sorry about not updating the story. I've been really busy, but I'll try to get a new chapter up by the end of the week! I may not update as often after that since school starts in a week (ugh...) but be patient, I know how the chapter's gonna look, I just haven't gotten it down on digital paper yet!
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It varies. Sometimes I'll update a few times a week, sometimes I'll update once a month. It depends on when inspiration hits me. I'm going to try to update at least once a week though.
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Just wondering, but how often do you update?