Part Twenty-Nine:

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Part Twenty-Nine:

Annabeth took a deep breath and tossed the drachma into the misty rainbow. "O Iris, please accept my offering. Show me Rachel Dare."

A girl appeared on the screen. She was brushing her teeth, her curly red hair dripping wet from the shower she had just taken, and a green bathrobe wrapped around her comfortably.

"Rachel!" Annabeth shouted, and the girl quickly spat out the toothpaste and wiped her mouth.

"Hey Annabeth!" She said, turning to face the demigod. "What's up?"

"Rachel, Percy said that another prophecy came around a few days ago," Annabeth began, twirling a piece of her curly blonde hair around her finger. "And I felt like was incomplete."

Rachel sighed. "I know. The one I gave everyone wasn't the finished version. I couldn't give out the last two lines because of what would've happened to the quest group. They would've been worried sick!" She exclaimed.

"Why, what are the last lines?" Annabeth asked curiously.

"It involves Zoe. This information is strictly prohibited from being given to anyone, the new generation of demigods will fall if it gets out!"

"But it will be revealed someday." Annabeth argued. "One day they will find out, you can't keep it hidden from Camp forever!"

"I know, but the last line is extremely important." Rachel took a deep breath and recited: "Wisdom and war's legacies shall go west,

To find the four heroes with a trial and a test,

One shall perish searching for a crown lost,

The daughter of the waves will pay the final cost,

And for the pain and torture they must endure,

The outcome shall bring the final cure."

"Oh no." Annabeth's eyes widened in alarm. "'The final cure'. You don't mean..."

"Yes, it will happen." Rachel sighed, then looked Annabeth straight in the eye, not blinking. "Zoe and the others won't make it back home after their quest; they'll die."

•••

The staircase down to Tartarus was dark and humid, while the walls glowed an eerie red which was the only light source - and it wasn't enough. Michael had nearly tripped five times as the stairs twisted and turned, heading in only one direction; down. There were no other paths, only this one.

The five of them had only been walking for around fifteen minutes, but to Michael it felt like fifteen long, boring, hours.

"How much longer do you think there is to go?" Zoe's voice echoed in the small space as she asked the question that everyone was thinking.

"No idea." Alex said. She was just in front of Michael, and he could feel an emotion rolling off her. An emotion which Michael had never felt come off her before. Alex's hands were fiddling with the straps of her backpack nervously, and her head kept flicking from left to right.

Fear. The emotion was fear. She was scared of something, but what?

Michael took a deep breath and concentrated. He pushed into her mind, and saw something that almost made him stumble and fall. Alex had a memory that seemed to be taking over her brain at that very moment; the cause of her fear.

An older boy was standing over Alex in the middle of a school corridor. Alex had backed up to the door of a janitor's closet and had one hand on the doorknob, the other tightly clenched around something. Michael could literally feel the fear radiating off her, and so did the boy, it seemed.

"Give me the key, Alexandra." The boy growled.

"Never." Alex weakly kicked his leg and turned the knob of the door and tumbled into the room. She lunged and shut the door, then stood up and pushed against the door as the boy banged at the panels with his fists. Then the banging suddenly stopped, and there was a click like a lock and footsteps walking away.

"Have fun in there," the boy said smugly.

Alex tried the doorknob but it was locked. She started shoving the door with her shoulder. "Hey!" She cried. "Let me out!" But there was no reply. Alex stopped pushing, and slid down the door with her head in her hands and started crying.

There was no light in the room and it was so tiny, there was only just enough room for Alex to sit down. Michael could feel the panic pulsing through her veins, but he couldn't do anything to help.

The vision abruptly ended as the stairs stopped at an opening. Michael shook off the dream as the five of them gathered around the exit to the stairs. They had entered Tartarus.

The air was muggy and humid, with blood-like clouds drifting overhead. In front of them was a gigantic cliff that dropped down several hundred feet into what looked like a river shore with black sand and grey water. To their left, cliffs rose up with the waterfalls of the five rivers of the Underworld gushing down. Michael gulped. This place was dark and spooky. There was no way anyone would be able to survive this terrain, but it had been done before, so why not now? The quest group was probably the largest to even reach this far. And plus - there were no monsters in sight.

"Well, well, well, what do we have here?" A girl's voice sneered. Michael and the others turned to their right where an army of monsters was waiting, a recognisable empousa standing in the lead.

Michael gasped, remembering how she had almost tricked him into killing his classmates before he had come to Camp Half-Blood. It would not happen again. Never. Michael would not kill his friends.

The empousa bared her fangs. "About time, Michael Grace. Glad I have a familiar face to kill - well, besides you Zoe." Kelli the empousa chuckled.

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