runaway children

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The train stopped, screeching red hot on its rails, and with an unplanned end goal, the teenagers began running across the tracks away from Echidna and her monstrous daughter. 

Clicking and roars shuddered the compartment doors as each demigod jumped down and out of the train. "Holy shit," Grover gasped, galloping away with his hooves crunching against the gravel.

Ciarda leapt off the train's end, cursing as she slipped backwards and fell. Her sword clattered noisily to the ground, the girl landing straight on her palms. Her head bashed against the rusting platform at the end of the train. 

Blood trickled out of her hands, the stinging pain numbed by the adrenaline coursing through her. She groaned, her head pounding from its knock. 

Early morning gnats flew chaotically around in the sunlight beams cascading through the St. Louis treeline. They buzzed in excitement whilst they watched the chase. 

Crashes from inside the train, and the scrunching of metal, as though it was tin foil, was not a sound Ciarda liked to hear when she raised her head. Her vision cleared and her headache dimmed. Dust coated her hair into an ashen colour and her face was squinted with the sun's brightness.

Percy took a double-take when he glanced back, his blonde curls falling before his eyes. Without hesitation, he ran back a few paces, yanking Ciarda up by the bicep and running off with her. "Get off me," She huffed roughly. She wiped her bloody hands on her cargo trousers. It stained. 

"Just trying to help," Percy's breath was rugged and uneven as they raced away from the clicking sound of Echidna's creature. She moaned when she touched her head, blood returning to her fingertips. "Shit."

Percy stared at her worriedly, his breathing burning his lungs. He handed Ciarda her golden sword back, severely surprised by the lightness of it. He took her lack of insult as a thank you and continued running, the pair catching up with Annabeth and Grover, climbing a steel fence. 

Stopping after climbing over the seven-foot metal wall, the group turned around confused. Ciarda was busy ridding her hands of the slippery blood, which had now been coated on her sword's handle as well. The monster was nowhere to be seen. 

"Why has it stopped chasing us?" Ciarda queried, wiping the sweat on her forehead onto her sleeve.

"Echidna said whatever was in that carrier was still young. It won't venture too far from her mother - it's learning to hunt," Annabeth clarified dreadfully.

...

The group sped through St Louis on foot, Ciarda thoroughly entertaining the idea of slicing the head off of Echidna and then her monster. The scent of city pollution was unfamiliar to the young thirteen-year-old who spent her entire life growing up around nature. Her features pinched in disgust.

"We can't outrun them forever," Grover specified, his lungs much more adapted to running. Ciarda felt it unfair that he was barely panting. However, the singing of her golden sword put him off with every pace she took. "We don't have to. We just need to find sanctuary." 

Annabeth patted Grover's shoulders, smiling in reassurance. Her cheeks were burgundy and flushed from the cardio. 

"Some place safe? Any idea where we might find one of those?" Percy huffed, sticking his tongue out from dehydration. Ciarda stared at him as they walked down the alley, snagging a plastic bottle from a stand they passed. 

Handing the bottle to Percy, she looked at him disapprovingly. "You seriously need to learn more Greek Mythology," She squeezed his shoulder, letting him practically inhale the water. "And perhaps geography too."

The soft breeze was settling on Ciarda's neck and back, especially after walking in beaming sunlight for so long. "Erm, Ciarda?" Annabeth sighed. "What?" She questioned, turning back to her friend. Annabeth subtly pointed around, making Ciarda look. Everyone was staring at her. 

A woman in a stroller hurried over to them, stopping the teenagers in their path. "Are you okay, honey?" She placed a hand on Ciarda's bare arm, making her flinch away. "It's okay, I won't hurt you. Where are your parents?" She smiled sweetly, her teeth pearly white. The baby in the pram giggled and splurged on its saliva.  

Ciarda looked at all of her friends in confusion. Percy was trying to contain his laughter at her facial expressions. "I'm fine," She reassured the lady. They walked off, more people trying to walk over. "What the hell is wrong with St. Louis?" Ciarda huffed, her breath blowing her wispy fringe back off her face. It stayed away after sticking to her sweat-ridden forehead. 

"Ciarda, the back of your head," Grover finally mentioned, making Ciarda pause and groan. "For Zeus' sake," She cursed, touching the blood which stuck to her hair. It was only then that the demigod realised she was covered in blood. 

"I need to change," She decided. 

...

After scaring the Underworld out of a cashier clerk, Ciarda walked out of a thrift shop wearing more army green cargos and a thin long-sleeved black shirt. A hoodie was wrapped around her waist, too hot to wear in the summer of St. Louis. 

"So where are we actually going?" Percy raised his question once more. He didn't like that everyone groaned at him. 

"A sanctuary dedicated to Athena, built by one of her demigod children a long time ago," Annabeth explained simply. "There is an Athenian temple hidden somewhere in downtown St Louis?" Grover questioned with a confused sigh. The children aged him. 

"Yes," Annabeth smiled, "Except it's not all that hidden." 

The four demigods looked up simultaneously, the St Louis arch standing proud and present in front of them. Ciarda's smirk unsettled Percy more than he would like to admit. 

𝐖𝐀𝐑 𝐎𝐅 𝐓𝐈𝐃𝐄𝐒  | percy jacksonWhere stories live. Discover now