Part Twenty-Three:

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Part Twenty-Three:

During the past forty-eight hours, Annabeth had been Iris-Messaged exactly fifty-one times. She had disconnected all of them, but they just wouldn't stop coming. A couple times, even Iris herself would deliver her a pre-recorded video message of Percy pleading for her to come home, but Annabeth wouldn't go back. Not until she dealt with what needed to be done.

"Six hundredth floor please." She growled to the man sitting at the reception desk in the lobby of the Empire State Building. Yes, you read that right. The Empire State Building, main entrance to Olympus.

The man closed his Batman comic and gave Annabeth a stern look. "Ma'am, there is no six hundredth floor."

Annabeth drew her ivory-bone sword and started casually cleaning her fingernails with it. "Say that again, please?"

"Here's the key card." The man tossed her a golden card which Annabeth caught easily. "You know the drill."

"Thank you." Annabeth walked over to the elevator bank and pushed the button to go up. She waited for the ding, then entered and slid the key card into the slot. A click later, another button popped up, clearly marked '600'. Annabeth pushed it and waited as the doors slid closed. Soft muzak played and Annabeth sighed, leaning against the wall.

Suddenly, there was a shimmer of light in front of her. Before Annabeth could swipe the Iris-Message away, she hesitated. It was another pre-recorded message.

"Wise Girl, please come home." Percy pleaded. Annabeth had been expecting that. It was always that same opening. But the following words were different from the regular 'I miss you' or 'please come back'. "There's been another prophecy and Rachel fears that you're one of the ones mentioned." The video cut to an image of Rachel sitting at the campfire, green smoke pouring out of her mouth;

"Wisdom and war's legacies shall go west,
To find the four heroes with a trial and a test,
One shall perish searching for the crown that was lost,
The daughter of the waves must pay her final cost."

The screen went back to Percy and he looked at Annabeth directly in the eyes, knowing that she would melt. "We both know what this means. There's no point in bargaining with Hades, Annabeth. So please come back." The Iris-Message faded.

Annabeth was confused. "Bargaining with Hades?" She said softly. "Oh Percy, why would I be stupid enough to do that?" The elevator dinged once more and Annabeth stepped out onto the bridge. She made her way across to Mount Olympus; the home of the gods.

Everything was just as she had remembered it. Well,  almost everything except for the large museum was the same. Curiosity got the better of Annabeth. She walked into the building and let a small gasp escape her mouth. Lining the walls were famous heroes that had died. Annabeth felt herself tear up. She saw Luke, Silena, Charlie and many more demigods who had sacrificed themselves. But at the end of the hall was a large display.

There were seven tall statues with a plaque that read: 'The Great Seven'. Annabeth was surprised to see herself standing there, arms folded and looking extremely imitating. She backed out of the hall and continued on her way down towards the Olympian Throne Room.

The gods were in the middle of what seemed to be an important discussion when Annabeth arrived. Athena immediately stood up and shrunk down to human form. "Annabeth!" She cried. "Why have you come?"

"I want information." Annabeth told her mother. "About Zoe."

"I see." Athena nodded, understanding. "I feared this day would come. What do you wish to know?"

"Well..."

•••

Zoe woke up in a room that was pitch black. No, seriously. The room was painted completely black, unless it was another colour and the black was shadows. The only light were two thin lines emitting from a barred window.

"Hello?" Zoe struggled to her feet, straining her memory to remember what had happened. All she remembered was a sudden surge of power as she fought to keep the boat up, and then it all left suddenly and she blacked out from the pain. Then she had woken up to see her friends, but after that, everything else was hazy...

Where was she? Outside the window was a hallway with two zombie guards standing in front of her 'room'. Wait - zombie guards? Was she in the Underworld?

"Hey!" She cried, trying to speak to them. "Where am I? What am I doing here?" The guards didn't reply. "Hello?" Zoe reached out and tried to snap her fingers in front of one of their faces but her arms weren't long enough.

Panic started to set in. Zoe pressed her back against the wall and fell down, curling herself up into a ball on the floor. "Help." She sobbed, realising that she was alone. "Please, help me."

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