Like many stories begin, I was just sitting around minding my own business. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that the jukebox turned on for me as it often does. I mean, hanging around in the rec room is just asking for trouble, isn't it? But instead of the usual songs it dumps on me, I'm surprised to hear it cut into Percy's voice, and he's telling a story. I can't imagine this is meant for me, because why would he tell me anything related to the battle that's about to happen in New York? This has got to be some kind of recording from the future, but how can that have happened? Percy's going to die in that battle. Maybe someone talked to his spirit in the Underworld? Hades' kid Nico could've done it. I sit back in my chair as the story goes on and give the thing my full attention. I'm amazed at the level of detail Percy is going to. He's not normally so focused on details, which makes me think this has got to be a spirit conversation.
As it plays, I see Percy and Thalia walk in. Before they can blame me for being up to something, I just put my hands up in a universal sign of hey-not-my-fault and motion over to some unoccupied chairs. If they want to hear about the end of all our lives, I'm not stopping them. It may be good for them to come to grips with the truth of how everything is going to end. I don't acknowledge the others coming in and out of the room. I'd rather hear this alone, but I don't really care too much about the other people around me, just as long as they keep their distance from me during this. Even Gabrielle. A brutal look and a glint of Backbiter's blade are all I need to keep them from smothering me like some lost puppy. I will NOT be pitied or consoled during this, PERIOD.
I'm not exactly liking the parts with Hestia in it. Who does she think she is explaining the details of my life and why I did what I did? Does it matter? Really? And when it talks about how I met my dad at home, I'm expressionless except for the iron grip I have on the armrests. Why is Hestia even bothering? Maybe she's just explaining to them why they're all about to meet in the Underworld together. Hestia should've joined Kronos. There's no point in her supporting Zeus needlessly.
As the narrative of the battle goes on, I hear about the sudden arrival of Ares cabin led by... Clarisse? Something is wrong. I can tell. As the voice goes on, a horrible idea forms in my head. No. She didn't! Tell me she didn't! Oh gods, Silena! I was going to protect you! All you had to do is stay out of it! Oh, gods!
”...Finally Annabeth managed to remove the girl’s helmet. We all gathered around: the Ares campers, Chris, Clarisse, Annabeth, and me. The battle still raged along Fifth Avenue, but for that moment nothing existed except our small circle and the fallen girl.
Her features, once beautiful, were badly burned from poison. I could tell that no amount of nectar or ambrosia would save her.
‘Something is about to happen.’ Rachel’s words rang in my ears. ‘A trick that ends in death.’
Now I knew what she meant, and I knew who had led the Ares cabin into battle.
I looked down at the dying face of Silena Beauregard.”
I turned her into my spy, and she just goes and sacrifices herself for their side. Somehow I manage to sit through it all without saying or doing anything. I struggle to shut it all off like I used to be able to. But I can't.
The battle rages on and then, finally, I appear in Percy's narrative. I'm the indomitable, invulnerable deity I imagined I would be. It's terrifying. I felt what it was like to be fully taken by Kronos last Halloween, and I can't even imagine what I'll feel like after having to house him for so long.
“...”YOU!” Annabeth turned on Luke. “To think that I...that I thought –"
She drew her knife.
“Annabeth, don’t.” I tried to take her arm, but she shook me off.
She attacked Kronos, and his smug smile faded. Perhaps some part of Luke remembered that he used to like this girl, used to take care of her when she was little. She plunged her knife between the straps of his armor, right at his collarbone. The blade should’ve sunk into his chest. Instead it bounced off. Annabeth doubled over, clutching her arm to her stomach. The jolt might’ve been enough to dislocate her bad shoulder.
I yanked her back as Kronos swung his scythe, slicing the air where she’d been standing.
She fought me and screamed, "I HATE you!” I wasn’t sure who she was talking to – me or Luke or Kronos. Tears streaked the dust on her face.”
My gut wrenches. My iron grip on my emotions is breaking. I want to yell out for it to stop, but instead I sit there silent and wait for the end. I'm no innocent kid. I've known our end would be more than horrible, but hearing about it like this is almost more than I can bear.
I'm sorry, Annabeth! Gods, I never told you all these months we were here on this accursed island. I'm SORRY! But the main reason I never said anything is because 'sorry' isn't enough. How could it be?
I try to keep calm as I reach Olympus. Percy's description of me starting to level Olympus is hollow comfort. I don't want revenge anymore. Make it stop! My stomach is in knots. I feel like I might puke, but I've got to hear this to the bitter end. I close my eyes and turn slightly away from Thalia as Percy describes Hera's statue coming down towards Annabeth and Thalia getting trapped.
And then the end nears. I feel a pang of regret as I hear Kronos kill Ethan. Another person gone. I wanted you to live, Ethan! Then Kronos goes for Backbiter, and Hestia's hearth burns my hands. I'll never wield a sword right again. Then, in the story, Kronos and I turn on Annabeth to finish her.
The word escapes my mouth right there in the rec room. My will is breaking. I raise my head and see Percy and Thalia taking in my haunted look. I shake my head fearfully. I don't want this, and I just can't keep up a mask anymore.
”Luke,” she said, gritting her teeth, “I understand now. You have to trust me.”
Kronos roared in outrage. “Luke Castellan is dead! His body will burn away as I assume my true form!”
I tried to move, but my body was frozen again. How could Annabeth, battered and half dead with exhaustion, have the strength to fight a Titan like Kronos?
Kronos pushed against her, trying to dislodge his blade, but she held him in check, her arms trembling as he forced his sword down toward her neck.
“Your mother,” Annabeth grunted. “She saw your fate.”
“Service to Kronos!” the Titan roared. “This is my fate.”
“No! Annabeth insisted. Her eyes were tearing up, but I didn’t know if it was from sadness or pain. “That’s not the end, Luke. The prophecy: she saw what you would do. It applies to you!”
“I will crush you, child!” Kronos bellowed.
“You won’t,” Annabeth said. “You promised. You’re holding Kronos back even now.”
“LIES!” Kronos pushed again, and this time Annabeth lost her balance. With his free hand, Kronos struck her face, and she slid backward.
I summoned all my will. I managed to rise, but it was like holding the weight of the sky again.
Kronos loomed over Annabeth, his sword raised.
Blood trickled from the corner of her mouth. She croaked, “Family, Luke. You promised.”
Perseus Jackson is not the hero of the prophecy. Neither is Thalia. We always assumed it had to be one of them. When Thalia joined the Hunters, it HAD to be Percy. In all my life, I've never been as shocked as I am right now. I, Luke Castellan, son of Hermes, am supposed to be the hero of prophecy!
I see it too, Annabeth! Gods, you're so smart! I'll do it! Please! I'll do it! I swear I'll save you all! But, oh Gods, you'll never give me a weapon! I can't say anything. I cup my hands around my eyes like a visor and sink into my chair. I know the others in the room are looking at me now. I can't bear to look back.
”...The line from the great prophecy echoed in my head: ‘A hero’s soul, cursed blade shall reap.’ My whole world tipped upside down, and I gave the knife to Luke.
Grover yelped. “Percy? Are you...um...”
Crazy. Insane. Off my rocker. Probably.
But I watched as Luke grasped the hilt.
I stood before him – defenseless.
He unlatched the side straps of his armor, exposing a small bit of his skin just under his left arm, a place that would be very hard to hit. With difficulty, he stabbed himself.
It wasn’t a deep cut, but Luke howled. His eyes glowed like lava. The throne room shook, throwing me off my feet. An aura of energy surrounded Luke, growing brighter and brighter. I shut my eyes and felt a force like a nuclear explosion blister my skin and crack my lips.”
I don't want to die. I've never wanted to die. But what's being told to me sounds like a much better end to my life than I could have hoped for. The last words I'll ever speak will be directed to Percy.
He gripped my sleeve, and I could feel the heat of his skin like fire. “Ethan. Me. All the unclaimed. Don’t let it...Don't let it happen again...”
His eyes were angry, but pleading too.
“I won’t,” I said. “I promise.”
Luke nodded, then his hand went slack.
I struggle to keep myself together as I hear myself beg Percy to not let what happened to me and Ethan happen to anyone else. Then I'm dead. Gods, I’m DEAD. I destroyed Kronos. I really destroyed the bastard! I suddenly look up and glance around the room. They're all looking at me. I'm sure my eyes are all red now and I must look like I'm about to lose it. Just as suddenly, I turn back to the radio and hold out a hand. I want to hear every last word of this. Delaying everyone's reaction is just an added benefit.
The gods offer Percy immortality. I'm not surprised. Percy has accomplished more than any other hero, including the ones from ancient times. But he refuses. I can see why. The way Percy describes Annabeth has shown everyone how he feels about her. I can also understand NOT wanting to live as an immortal, especially with the Olympians. Instead, he makes them swear on the River Styx that they claim their children and honor the minor gods. He's using his hero's reward to fulfill my dying wish. Percy! I can't even describe how I'm feeling. I just try and keep my face blocked from view and breathe. It's only my need to hear everything that keeps me together.
Percy tells me about my own funeral.
My father leads the procession, and the Fates themselves deliver my remains to the Underworld.
Then finally the jukebox falls silent.
[OOC: Gathering-style. Excerpts are from “The Last Olympian” by Rick Riordan.]