mother of monsters

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Distinct radio chatter echoed in the background. It buzzed and hummed and made the four teenagers feel especially on edge. After being questioned by the police and Ciarda anxiously eating enough sugar cubes to fill an entire sugarcane factory, they all sat in uneased silence. 

Ciarda had drummed her hands onto the wooden table so hard that her demigod strength had forced finger-sized eroded dents in it. Grover placed an angsty hand on top of hers to stop her. 

"Take your hooves off me before I remove them for you. Permanently." She pivoted to face him with acrimony. "Technically, only my bottom two are-" Grover trailed off when her lethal regard told him she wasn't joking.

"And whilst he gets angry when he is hungry, Miss La Rue here gets cranky when she is told what to do," Annabeth whispered to Percy, who sat beside her, opposite Ciarda. "I figured that one out on my own. I'm learning," He swallowed fearfully when he made eye contact with the Daughter of the War God. 

"So," Percy spoke louder so the whole group looked at him. Ciarda's insistent patting of her feet stalled. "We're just killing time 'til we find out that guy is like a werewolf or something, right?" He queried. The worried feet patting continued.

The announcer of a speaker parroted to them about arriving in St Louis, near the arch Luke promised he'd show Ciarda one day. 

The two had instantaneously clicked from the moment he had spilt barbeque sauce down her after running into her, and then Ciarda nearly drowning him in the lake. Hit it off right from the start.

After experiencing terrific nightmares, the two developed habits of hiding in each other's cabins to spill all their secrets to one another instead of facing their sleep. 

Luke would promise her all the places he would take her one day, describing each in full with colourful spurts of imagination. She looked forward to it every night. They'd run around in the morning rain, make mud pies and chase the younger kids around with them. They'd learnt everything together.

When Chiron found them after their night trips, their faces were always red and their eyes wide, from being under the cover too long. Luke would tell stories too,  much kinder than Clarisse' or Eros' - they always mixed in horror tales that spooked Ciarda out of sleeping. 

"I don't think he's a monster," Annabeth whispered back, hauling Ciarda out of her daydream. She took her chin off of her palm, stretching her fingers which were locked in misuse. 

"Well, if he's not a monster then what is going on here? Why would anyone tear our room apart?" Percy sighed. The boy was 12, not cut out for all the stress which came along with being a hero. 

They never let you be a hero and happy. 

"When Annabeth's snarky superior reply did not come, he looked up, his blonde curls bouncing outwards. 

Annabeth wasn't focused on him, but instead on Ciarda. The murder from her gaze was gone, abated with curiosity. Percy could see the abstract cogs turning in her head. She was figuring something out. 

"What?" Grover broke the intensity of the abysmal silence, snapping everyone out of their stares. Ciarda stared for one more moment before turning to them. "Nothing," She replied slowly. Staring at Percy, she blinked once and returned to her slackened shoulders. 

"Anyway, maybe they were looking for something," Grover suggested as if their whole previous altercation had not concluded that already. 

"For what? We don't have anything," Percy rubbed the bridge of his nose. "If I douse you in water would that help your inadequate sinus', Your Royal Highness," Ciarda scowled at him. Annabeth felt a feathery pull at her lips.

"They're not going to find something we don't have," Grover huffed, crossing his hairy arms. "Either way, I'm not sticking around all day in the St Louis Police Station answering questions," Annabeth procured a well-lengthy sigh. 

"We need to get out of this before we get delayed." The rest of Annabeth's monologue was cut short by the sharp knives and forks on the table rattling inconsistently. Eyes cascaded to Ciarda. 

But her brown eyes were trained on the smiling woman right behind Annabeth, no warmness reciprocating the grin present on the stranger's features.

"D-do you mind if I sit?" The lady smiled with concerned eyes. Ciarda refused to budge, leaving the lady to squeeze in beside Percy. She groaned sympathetically, popping the opaque cage with her dog in it to the side. "You poor dears."  

"Very poor, very dear," Ciarda mumbled, not moving her eyes from the woman.

"Your parents aren't here, are they?" The elder female homed a Boston accent. Percy kicked Ciarda in the shin to get the cutlery to stop shaking, and although it did, the girl's eyes never left the stranger sitting at their table. He knew he would pay double for it later.

"Isn't that right, precious?" Grey hair and brown eyes turned to the animal whimpering in its cage, obscured from sight. 

Annabeth had spent many summers with Ciarda; she had learnt the girl's body language nearly inside and out. So, when she watched Ciarda tighten her fist around the knife she was holding, she knew something was afoot. 

"Don't children get scared when they're all alone? It's okay, I'm a Mom. I know how scared you must be," The smiling lady spoke to the Chief of Police who was monitoring their every move, persuading the officer to move further away from the deviant children.

"I want you to know, I don't actually think you made that mess back there," The number of times the lady smiled per minute was making Percy wonder if her jaw hurt. "I just wanted a moment alone with you." 

Alarm bells went off in both Ciarda and Annabeth's minds. The way the stranger watched them all with her apex gaze made Grover shift in his seat. 

"There are some things I need you to understand-" She was brazenly interrupted by Grover who stared at her with his innocent doe eyes. "You have something on your jacket." 

Ciarda's eyes darted to the shoulder of the woman's austere coat before looking right into her eyes. The woman had suddenly faced Ciarda, making the girl jump internally. 

Fierce eye contact continued whilst Ciarda stared into the pitless depth of her eyes. No amiable smile was present anymore. 

"It looks like... glass," Grover swallowed down his assertion. "No one smashed the windows out from inside our cabin. Someone smashed them in from the outside." 

The lady made no effort to look in his direction, her attention solely on Ciarda. A bittersweet smile pulled at Ciarda's lips, cloyingly dragging the apples of her cheeks upwards. The dog barked erratically from its cage. 

Ciarda watched the lady with a cocked head, her fearlessness once more inspiring her fellow questmates. She even tipped her chin up, facing off to the monster in disguise. "I think you should control your dog," She spat, poison lacing her chords. 

"He's in training," The stranger's beam was sugarcoated venom. She jumped to her dog's side, whispering relaxing symphonies in its ear. Turning, she sat on the table opposite. Ciarda never broke eye contact. 

"This isn't your fault. Sadly, you're going to have to pay the burden of your parents' mistakes today." 

"Listen, lady. I don't know who you are, but I think I know what you are," He huffed. Ciarda was one step ahead of him, and so, it seemed, was Annabeth. They knew exactly who she was. And Percy's yapping was giving Ciarda more and more of a reason to stab him in the leg. Repeatedly. 

"We've come across a few monsters like you and we've sent them all packing," Ciarda admired his bravery. But the timing was impeccably awful - and yet that seemed to be Percy and his loud mouth for you. 

The lady scoffed. "Monsters like me? Well... of course they're like me. They were my children." 

𝐖𝐀𝐑 𝐎𝐅 𝐓𝐈𝐃𝐄𝐒  | percy jacksonWhere stories live. Discover now