36- River Styx

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Percy's PoV:

"Kr-kronos..." He stuttered. "He.. has... ri-risen." Then, he collapsed, unconscious. I caught him by the arm just before his head hit the floor. I looked at Artemis.

"We need to take him to the Infirmary." She nodded and took his other arm. Together we went to the Infirmary. No one was there and it was very quiet. We put the boy on a bed. I looked wilder now that I had his blood aside from all the dirt and other gruesome stuff on my shirt from the last battle. Without a word, Artemis went to one of the cabinets and started to get some First Aid stuff.

"Shouldn't we call an Apollo kid?" I asked her. She turned around and looked at me as if I had insulted her.

"I can take care of this. I'm better than Apollo in healing, you know, I just don't show it. You go shower and change because you look and smell like you came from the jungle after hunting."

"Uh... Okay... Call me if you need some help."

I exited the Infirmary and took a deep breath. Before I could think about anything, someone pulled me away from the entrance and clamped my mouth shut. I struggled to get free. Suddenly, I felt as if I entered a portal and darkness was everywhere. The next thing I knew, I was in the forest. Whoever it was, let me go.

"You are really a rock head." It was Nico. He looked paler than before.

"What was all the drama about?" I asked him. For a small, pale kid like him, he was very strong.

"I heard about what happened and I have a plan." I saw a glint in his eyes. Whatever it was, I knew it was not good. "If you are to beat both of them, you'll surely need this."

"Need what?" I asked him curiously.

"The Curse of Achilles." I looked at him in confusion. There was not much I knew about these stuff but a curse sounded bad.

"Hey, what curse?! Why would I need... whatever that is?"

"It would make you almost invincible. We don't have much time left. Trust me." It was clear that he was impatient. But a curse still sounded bad.

"Are you sure about this?"

"Yes, you'll really need this. And, don't worry, you're ready." He persisted. I hesitated for a while. But if it will really help me, then I would need it. There's so much at stake.

"Okay... Let's do it."

"I need you to teleport us to Central Park. I don't have any energy left to shadow travel." He said. I nodded.

I grabbed his hand to teleport us and felt him flinch. As a typical son of Hades, I knew he hated physical contact. In a flash, we appeared in a park with a lot of trees which I assumed to be Central Park. Nico led the way deeper into the park, to a side of a cliff. Then, he faced me expectantly.

"There is a tunnel inside which leads to the Underworld. Only you or music can open it. But since we don't have Orpheus with us, it's up to you to open it." Orpheus... Another person I didn't know...

"Don't worry. That's easy peasy." I put my palm on the rock and it crumbled into dirt with a sound like thunder. I instinctively looked over my back to see if any mortal caught us red-handed, illegally causing a landslide or something. Luckily, the park seemed to be empty.

"We should go now." Nico's voice brought me back to the present. I nodded and followed him inside the tunnel which I had just made. It was a very narrow passage with stairs that were very steep. The darkness was blinding and I had to be very careful. Soon, red light illuminated the end of the stairs and we arrived in front of the River Styx.

"Oh no. Not this river again." The last time I came to this river, it was not a good occasion.

"Unfortunately, you'll need to dive in to the River Styx to receive the Curse of Achilles." Nico said in a matter-of-fact way. My eyes widened.

"What?! Why didn't you tell me about this earlier?" Nico raised an eyebrow at me.

"I thought you knew the story. But anyway, you need to do this. Even a god can't single-handedly defeat a whole army of bad guys without some help." I sighed. I was still irritated. But I had no choice.

"Do I just need to dive?" He shook his head.

"You'll have to stay in there until you feel like you have been cursed or rather blessed with the Curse of Achilles." I saw a gleam of amusement in his eyes. "Anyway, the experience won't be very nice so you'll require a memory of a thing that can keep you clinging unto your life long enough. Then, you must imagine a spot on your body that will remain vulnerable and a rope tying you to the mortal plane. But I don't think you'll have much of a problem since you're an immortal." It didn't sound good at all.

"So you'll just watch me from up here?"

"Yup. Ready? Goodluck." I glared at him and approached the river side. The river looked the same as last time, a polluted and very unwelcoming river. I took a deep breath and dived in.

The second I touched the water, I regretted everything. My whole body burned and the current was so strong that I had to use all of my godly strength just to swim and stay in place. I was pretty sure that I haven't been reduced to ashes yet because I am an immortal. I really wanted to get out as soon as possible but I was nowhere near feeling blessed. It was a curse, indeed. Every second, it was getting harder and harder to cling on. I felt like my soul was slowly being ripped apart. Then, I remembered what Nico said. A memory? I thought hard and long.

The first thing that came into my mind was Artemis... All my moments with her since day 1 flashed in my head like a movie. Suddenly, I felt a little more strength seep into my body. You go shower and change because you look and smell like you came from the jungle after hunting. I remembered the last thing Artemis said to me. Yeah, I still had to shower and get back to Artemis so I had to get out of here.

A spot... The small of my back just suddenly came into my mind. I envisioned a rope tying me to the mortal plane. Suddenly I felt a pain in the small of my back. Then I was hooked out of the river and flew a few feet up before I crash landed on the shore. My whole body was burning and I found it hard to breathe. Nico rushed over to me.

"Hey, hey are you okay?" He asked me in a singsong manner.

"Do I look like a dummy for a CPR practice lesson?" I snapped at him and slowly sat up.

"Whatever. We have to go now. It's time."

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Word Count: 1214 (excluding A/N)
Date Published: December 26, 2017
A/N: Hi guys. I'm so sorry for not updating for like 4 months. It has been a very busy and hard time for me. I planned to finish this book by September or before 2017 ends but I don't know. Thank you for the 54K reads!!! Consider this my late Christmas gift for ya'll. Belated Merry Christmas!

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