who knew war gods were actually cowards

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"Don't hold a grudge, Sweetheart. I'm your father, your family," Ares smiled, his voice a low, gravelly rumble spanning across the desert expanse. Rage lit Ciarda's eyes, matching the crimson clouds floating above them. 

Grover, ever vigilant, speedily took the golden sword from her hands. His movements were a blur of nervousness. She proceeded, instead, to kick in the front tyre until it deflated into the desert air. Her primal scream echoed in the barren landscape. Sand whirled around her feet.

"You are not my family," Ciarda declared. But as the words hung in the air, an unspoken question lingered: then who was? Faces flickered like ghostly apparitions in her mind. Chiron, Clarisse, Eros, Edward, Eurytion, Annabeth, Luke. A litany of those who had gained her loyalty. They were the ties that bound her, not the blood that flowed in her veins. Not the bastard who stood in front of her. 

Ares, however, remained unmoved by her challenging declaration. "You have my eyes," He remarked with a wry chuckle. Firey eyes met another pair, neither willing to back down. Ciarda was unyeiliding, not prepared to sink below the boy who called himself a God.

Nothing could dull the blaze within her. She felt heat sear in her eyes, familiar tinnitus ringing in her ears. With silent command, she willed her terrible powers upon her father, a plea of retribution for the love he forbode to give her. Ciarda desired to watch him burn in his own nightmares. Instead, he just cocked his head and smiled, baring uneven teeth. 

"You have so much to learn, Little One," He continued with a tone of blended amusement and menace. "So much power inside of you that you haven't unleashed yet." His words carved into her like a sharpened blade. No matter how much she hated him, Ciarda would always hope for approval. It made her loathe him more. 

"Although, I was impressed you could trap Medusa in your little trick. Her head was a nice birthday present." 

Terror and pain wracked through Ciarda's mind. Her father barely looked at her, instead opting to cleaning the orange sand from his fingernails. A scream of anguish stilled the air, echoing from Ciarda's mouth. Horrored images of her hidden imagination fluttered around her skull.

"Learn your place in the food chain, Ciarda," Ares warned. Percy seized onto his companion as she collapsed on the ground, head in her shaking hands. White eyes met him, as chaos consumed her. 

Her bloodcurdling screams made his arm hair stand on end. His hands shook her, trying to wake her from her nightmares. "Ciarda? CIARDA?" He begged for a response. "STOP!" Percy's piercing gaze spun to Ares. "Please," Annabeth asked, rushing to her friend's side. 

Slowly, Ciarda's screams dulled, making Ares' fox eyes squint. He hadn't given up teaching his daughter a lesson. The pain was not relented. Gradually, she stood from her knees which were plastered in orange dust, and looked up to him. Eyes white proved she was still under his spell. 

She refused to cry out any longer, the satisfaction would be too great for him. She tipped her chin up, staring him straight in the eye whilst her own terrific fears consumed her. 

"I will not bow to a coward." 

The nightmares stopped. Her vision returned, the light of the desert acting as a solice. "How interesting," Ares sent them a goofy grin. 

"Anyway, I'm here because Zeus sent all of his kids looking out for the masterbolt too," Ares explained. He shifted his leather coat back onto his broken motorcycle. 

Annabeth placed herself in front of her friends, letting Percy handle Ciarda. The demigod collapsed back into him, trying to stay on her feet. Everything felt weak and numb, like she couldn't feel her own body. But she had to prove that she was stronger. 

She couldn't show her father how much his hatred affected her. Ciarda's despise was greater. 

Percy helped her discreetly lean onto her feet, his shoulder stabling her between her shoulder blades. His elbow reached to support her spine, holding up her pride. It looked like he was standing behind her, but in reality, he was the only thing keeping her on her feet. 

Her eyes were back to their dark brown, nauseousness glowing in them. She swallowed it down. "Hold on," He whispered. Gently, his hand grasped hers, preventing them from trembling.

"Listen, Dummies, I'm hungry. There's a halfway decent diner up the road. If you want my help, meet me there. But don't dawdle. I won't wait forever," He glanced lightly at Ciarda before putting his black sunglasses on. With the flick of his finger, his tyre inflated and he was on his way down the road. 

Once he was out of range, leaving behind an uncertainty and unease, Annabeth twisted. She faced her group of questmates with a voice of frustration. "Well, what the hell are we going to do?" She queried. Something about her eyes suggested to Percy and Grover that she was thinking three moves ahead, as children of Athena always did. 

Before anybody could formulate a response, her question washed away in the wind. A sudden thud shattered the fragile silence of thinking for a good answer. Ciarda, a girl who had never shown the slightest incling of weakness, has collapsed to the ground. Panic surged through the group like wildfire and they rushed to her side. A cacophony of desperate pleas followed. 

"CIARDA?" They begged, pleading she would come around. But Ciarda remained unresponsive. Ares had taken an otherworldly toll on her, mentally and physically. Annabeth shook at her shoulders, her emotions praying that her friend would wake. 

"Does anyone know how she survived the fears?" Grover swallowed. He had watched Ciarda make bullies cower from the age of seven. Nobody could best it. "I don't know if she did," Percy answered in dread. The two looked down at her dust-trodden face. 

Blood trickled from her nose, staining the parched earth crimson, while her hands trembled with the aftershocks of her ordeal.

𝐖𝐀𝐑 𝐎𝐅 𝐓𝐈𝐃𝐄𝐒  | percy jacksonWhere stories live. Discover now