Chapter 22

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(Beginning is just a repeat of the last chapter except in Artemis' POV)

Artemis POV:

I was so relieved when Percy and I flashed back into the throne room. We were just one step away from ending this. The gods greeted us with excited smiles and I could tell that they were thinking the exact same thing I was at the moment.

"Did you get it?" Asked Poseidon said excitedly. Percy and I grinned at him and Percy drew the tree from his pocket. Every single god in the room could tell that there was immense power hidden in the miniature sized tree that was currently sitting in Percy's outstretched hand. Their eyes widened comically, but soon, they were almost jumping for joy. I had never seen the Council look so lively in all my immortal life.

"Well? How do we activate this stupid thing? Let's do it quickly so we can get this whole problem off our hands," Apollo said as he held up the blue glowing cube.

"If the book was correct, then all we need to do is transfer the power inside the bark to the key and then it should work," Athena said.

"Then what are we waiting for? I want to party!" Yelled Dionysus enthusiastically. The gods chuckled at his cheerfulness, but couldn't keep their own excitement at bay. I had to admit, even I was in the mood to 'party', as Dionysus put it, something which I had not done for a very very long time.

Percy gave the tree to me and I flashed up to my throne.

"The transfer should be pretty easy. We'll just need a lot of power because this thing has way more power than any one of us," Athena said. She snapped her fingers and the key and the tree seemed to levitate, gravitating towards each other in the center of the room.

"Now for the hard part," she said. All of us gods focused our entire beings on this one task, for if we failed, then we would have no beings at all. The two objects moved closer and closer together. I could almost see the power flowing through each, fitting together like two pieces of a puzzle. But just as they were about to make contact, an explosion blasted throughout the throne room, obliterating the walls and throwing everybody backward.

I sat up in my throne, groaning and glancing warily around the room for the source of the explosion. My eyes settled on a single figure in the middle of the room, and I had to squint to see who it was. NO! It can't be him!

"Did you really think that those wards would hold me away. I just had to snap my fingers and they disappeared," Apollyon said, his face twisted into a grotesque 'smile'. The shadows around him seemed to warp the lower half of his body and ended in wisps at his waist. He had a fearsome looking helmet atop his head with horns and bright eyes, burning with fire from hell itself. All the gods including me had a terrified look on their face. It was almost like our worst nightmares come true, except even worse.

"Now, where is that key...," He said. His eyes darted around the room, surveying everything and everyone around him. Finally, his black orbs settled on the glowing object in the middle of the room. He had an unmasked look of glee on his shrouded face.

"Ah, yes. The only object capable of holding me captive for eternity is now mine. That mere tree will not save you now. You're only hope would be for your little hero to run in and save your sorry asses, but I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen."

I watched helplessly as he stalked towards Percy. Percy had the most scared expression on his face that I had ever seen wear before. An unbridled fear of this mysterious abomination before him. Apollyon grabbed the back of Percy's shirt, holding him up as if he weighed less than a feather.

"Yes, he won't be there to save you anymore," He said addressing us. I desperately wanted to run down and stab that bastard in the gut so I could free Percy. Even if I died, then Percy would be free of his grasps. It would be worth it if I could give Percy even a couple more seconds of freedom.

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