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A half-blood of the eldest gods

Shall reach sixteen against all odds

And see the world in endless sleep

The hero's soul, cursed blade shall reap

A single choice shall end his days

Olympus to preserve or raze

~ ~ ~ ~ A story by DarkCyberWolf for the Percy Jackson Fanfiction Wiki Contest: August 2012 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

That prophecy did not have anything to do with me. At least, not directly. But it changed my life. A lot. I may not be a "half-blood of the eldest gods", but I'm here. I matter.

My name is Adriano Firenze.

And this is my story.

~ ~ ~ Age Nine ~ ~ ~

"Firenze, don't you dare touch me," Grace warned.

She had just tripped over Joe Henson's foot and her elbow was oozing blood. Even though I was on the other side of the classroom, she felt the need to single me out.

Just because she knew me that well.

Or, really, everyone did. Don't get me wrong - I'm not a wannabe vampire or anything. It's just that I figured I could help. I understand how the human body works, and I know exactly what to do when it isn't working properly. Just like I knew what to do about Grace's elbow - clean it first, preferably with antibacterial soap, making sure no dirt remains. Then keep the skin covered and moist so it can heal faster. And finally make sure Grace's hands go nowhere near her elbow. Picking the scabs is the best way to stop them from getting better.

I have a natural urge to help out when stuff like this happens. Scraped your knee? I have Neosporin in my backpack. Sudden cough or sneeze? I'll loan you a tissue. Suddenly lost your ability to see clearly or keep yourself up? Here's a bottle of water.

Anyway, I leaned back in my seat to show that I was going to respect Grace's wish for me not to help her. She walked back to her seat, satisfied, and shot Joe a Medusa stare.

An hour later, class ended, and we all eagerly ran away. Last day of the school year and all - got to love it.

I walked back to the front of the school to wait for my mom to come by. While I stood there, Joe came up to me.

"Hey, Paranoia Frenzy," he shouted. It was his weird name for me that he got from a Wikipedia article on rabies. It sounded a little like 'Adriano Firenze', I guess, and it was obviously based on my medical habits, but it was pretty lame.

"What do you want?" I asked.

"Your Asklepius face," he shouted. He suddenly started growing huge until he was a massive humanoid maybe twenty feet tall.

He grinned at me, but staggered to the side when a pair of goat hooves hit him.

"Canadian," Grace breathed. I was still getting over the fact that she apparently had hooves. She still had her pants on, but they had been pulled up for the sake of knocking Joe over.

Joe started to get up as Grace grabbed my arm. "Come on, we have to get out of here. I'll explain everything on the way."

~ ~ ~ Age Eleven ~ ~ ~

I know none of you would be here if you hadn't already read those other demigod stories, but for those of you who haven't, I'll give a quick summary.

Joe was a Laistrygonian giant, also known as a Canadian. He, like most Greek monsters - yeah, he's Greek and Canadian, keep up - took advantage of a magical substance called the Mist that distorts mortals' visions of magical stuff, so he could disguise himself as an ordinary student and smell for demigods like me. Monsters will eat anyone, but have a particular taste for demigods - one parent mortal, one parent Greek god or goddess. I'm one of them. That name Joe mentioned - Asklepius - is a minor god of medicine and healing, which explains my own talent for medicine - it's hereditary.

Grace was a satyr. One of a species of goat-from-the-waste-down nature-lovers from Greek mythology who were friendly with heroes. She was sent to my school to track down a demigod, and it turned out to be me. Only she wasn't a hundred percent sure until Joe went after me.

And now I'm a camper at Camp Half-Blood, the American summer camp for modern-day Greek heroes that's safe from Canadian giants. See, now that America's so powerful, the gods of ancient Greece moved here and brought Olympus on top of the Empire State Building (Yeah, that magic Mist helps the gods, too.). The camp is run by Chiron, the immortal centaur who trained Hercules a billion years ago, give or take, and Dionysus, the god of wine who got sent to Camp Half-Blood as punishment for something I never really asked about.

The camp's only got twelve cabins - one for each Olympian - which campers stay in based off their parent. But since my dad's one of the minor gods, I stay in the Hermes cabin. See, Hermes is the god of travelers, so any camper who's got nowhere else to go is welcome to stay there.

Huh. I guess I was wrong. That summary was so not quick.

Anyway, right now there was some trouble.

The ancient Greek Titan lord Kronos was rising. A lot of gods - including my dad, Asklepius - had joined him to defeat the Olympians and bring power back to the Titans. Some of the old campers here, like Luke from the Hermes cabin, or Chris, also from Hermes, Mika from Aphrodite, etc. have abandoned the camp to help Kronos. There was currently a war going on.

And the prophecy may be coming true.

There's this guy at the camp. Perseus Jackson. His dad's Poseidon, a.k.a. one of the "eldest gods". And Percy - that's short for Perseus - is already fifteen years old.

And he had just found the one thing that could destroy camp.

In the woods surrounding Camp Half-Blood, we were all playing war games - sounds trivial, but it's how we Greek/American/Canadian/who-cares-ian heroes train. Percy and his "friend" Annabeth from the Athena cabin found a stone with an opening in some stones, marked with a blue triangle. A Greek delta.

They'd found an entrance to the mythical Labyrinth. And now we were discussing it in the Big House at the center of camp.

"Luke must have known about the Labyrinth entrance," Annabeth was saying. "He knew everything about camp."

Luke, the first demigod to betray the camp and help Kronos.

"That’s what I was trying to tell you last night. The cave entrance has been there a long time. Luke used to use it," a dryad named Juniper said.

"You knew about the Labyrinth entrance, and you didn't say anything?" a gorgeous Aphrodite girl named Silena asked.

Juniper’s face turned green. “I didn’t know it was important. Just a cave. I don’t like yucky old caves.”

“She has good taste,” Grover said.

“I wouldn’t have paid any attention except…well, it was Luke.” She blushed a little greener.

Grover huffed. “Forget what I said about good taste.”

"Interesting," mused our temporary counselor Quintus. "And you believe this young man, Luke, would dare use the Labyrinth as an invasion route?”

“Definitely,” Clarisse, daughter of Ares, said. “If he could get an army of monsters inside Camp Half-Blood, just pop up in the middle of the woods without having to worry about our magical boundaries, we wouldn’t stand a chance. He could wipe us out easy. He must’ve been planning this for months.”

“He’s been sending scouts into the maze,” Annabeth said. “We know because…because we found one.”

“Chris Rodriguez,” Chiron said. He gave Quintus a meaningful look.

“Ah,” Quintus said. “The one in the…Yes, I understand.”

"The one in the what?" Perseus asked.

"The point is," Clarisse said. "Luke has been looking for a way to navigate the maze. He's searching for Daedalus's workshop."

“The guy who created the maze,” Perseus said.

“Yes,” Annabeth said. “The greatest architect, the greatest inventor of all time. If the legends are true, his workshop is in the center of the Labyrinth. He’s the only one who knew how to navigate the maze perfectly. If Luke managed to find the workshop and convince Daedalus to help him, Luke wouldn’t have to fumble around searching for paths, or risk losing his army in the maze’s traps. He could navigate anywhere he wanted—quickly and safely. First to Camp Half-Blood to wipe us out. Then…to Olympus.”

Everything - except a hellhound in the corner - was silent.

A big guy from the Hephaestus cabin - Charles Beckendorf - put his hands on the table. “Back up a sec, Annabeth, you said ‘convince Daedalus’? Isn’t Daedalus dead?”

Quintus grunted. “I would hope so. He lived, what, three thousand years ago? And even if he were alive, don’t the old stories say he fled from the Labyrinth?”

Chiron clopped restlessly on his hooves. “That’s the problem, my dear Quintus. No one knows. There are rumors…well, there are many disturbing rumors about Daedalus, but one is that he disappeared back into the Labyrinth toward the end of his life. He might still be there.”

We need to go in,” Annabeth announced. “We have to find the workshop before Luke does. If Daedalus is alive, we convince him to help us, not Luke. If Ariadne’s string still exists, we make sure it never falls into Luke’s hands.”

“Wait a second,”Perseus said. “If we’re worried about an attack, why not just blow up the entrance? Seal the tunnel?”

“Great idea!” Grover said. “I’ll get the dynamite!”

“It’s not so easy, stupid,” Clarisse growled. “We tried that at the entrance we found in Phoenix. It didn’t go well.”

Annabeth nodded. “The Labyrinth is magical architecture, Percy. It would take huge power to seal even one of its entrances. In Phoenix, Clarisse demolished a whole building with a wrecking ball, and the maze entrance just shifted a few feet. The best we can do is prevent Luke from learning to navigate the Labyrinth.”

“We could fight,” Lee Fletcher said. “We know where the entrance is now. We can set up a defensive line and wait for them. If an army tries to come through, they’ll find us waiting with our bows.”

“We will certainly set up defenses,” Chiron agreed. “But I fear Clarisse is right. The magical borders have kept this camp safe for hundreds of years. If Luke manages to get a large army of monsters into the center of camp, bypassing our boundaries…we may not have the strength to defeat them.”

“We have to get to Daedalus’s workshop first,” Annabeth insisted. “Find Ariadne’s string and prevent Luke from using it.”

“But if nobody can navigate in there,”Perseus pointed out, “What chance do we have?”

“I’ve been studying architecture for years,” Annabeth countered. “I know Daedalus’s Labyrinth better than anybody.”

“From reading about it.”

“Well, yes.”

“That’s not enough.”

“It has to be!”

“It isn’t!”

“Are you going to help me or not?”

We were all watching Perseus and Annabeth argue back and forth, our heads swaying with each point like a serve in a tennis match.

Chiron cleared his throat. “First things first. We need a quest. Someone must enter the Labyrinth, find the workshop of Daedalus, and prevent Luke from using the maze to invade this camp.”

“We all know who should lead this,” Clarisse said. “Annabeth.”

You’ve done as much as I have, Clarisse,” she said. “You should go, too.”

Clarisse shook her head. “I’m not going back in there.”

Travis Stoll laughed. “Don’t tell me you’re scared. Clarisse, chicken?”

Clarisse got to her feet, I thought she was going to pulverize Travis, but she said in a shaky voice: “You don’t understand anything, punk. I’m never going in there again. Never!”

She stormed out of the arena.

Travis looked around sheepishly. “I didn’t mean to—”

Chiron raised his hand. “The poor girl has had a difficult year. Now, do we have agreement that Annabeth should lead the quest?”

We all nodded except Quintus. He folded his arms and stared at the table, but I wasn’t sure anyone else noticed.

“Very well,” Chiron turned to Annabeth. “My dear, it’s your time to visit the Oracle. Assuming you return to us in one piece, we shall discuss what to do next.Annabeth went to the attic of the Big House, home of the hideous mummified Oracle, while the rest of us waited in silence. I'd never actually spoken to the Oracle myself, but the horror stories about her were commonplace here at camp.

"Adriano," a voice behind me said. An Iris message, a vision made by a god or demigod through rainbows by offering a drachma to the rainbow goddess Iris.

"Dad," I said.

The god Asklepius looked at me. "My, you've grown since I last saw you."

"Well, then, maybe you shouldn't have left Mom and I when I was born."

"It wasn't my fault," Asklepius said. "Zeus doesn't like when the gods talk with their children. Especially us minor gods. You were pretty much the reason why I joined Kronos in the first place. I wanted to stay with you and your sister, but Zeus made it clear that the Fates would not allow that. But, with Kronos in charge instead of Zeus..."

I kinda saw his point. I'd never understood why so many had defected to Kronos's side, but Asklepius's words really made it clear: Kronos would be a way better ruler than Zeus. But as that thought came, another quickly replaced it.

"I have a sister?"

"Yes. Her name is Analise. She's five years younger than you are. She lives with her mother - a clearsighted mortal named Tia - in Jacksonville, Florida. Like you, it's been years since I've seen her."

I swallowed briefly. "Can I... can I help you? And Kronos and Luke and the others? I want to join your cause."

"Thank you, Son," Asklepius said. "Of course. There's always room."

~ ~ ~ Age Twelve ~ ~ ~

I'd spent the past almost-a-year in Kronos's Titan army. I'd never killed any campers - I don't think a medic like me would ever be ready for that. Mostly I'd been just that - a medic.

Today, I'd been serving aboard the ship Princess Andromeda, which was making its way to Manhattan for an invasion.

All members of the crew got ten minute breaks every now and then, but there was always more than half of us on duty at any given time. I had just finished my break, or should I say, my nap, which was how all the demigods spent their breaks.

As I woke up, an arrow hit the wall at the bottom of a nearby stairwell. The Princess Andromeda was being attacked!

I put my armor on as I rushed downstairs and grabbed my sword, pure Celestial bronze. And then I saw the attacker.

It was Perseus. He was almost a year older than I'd last seen him, and his face had some new cuts and fresh bruises, but it was unmistakably him. I was surprised he was still alive - he should be turning sixteen in, what, a week? The prophecy might be coming true soon, after all.

"Kronos!" I shouted, sword raised. My voice shook and I wanted to try that again, but before I could, Perseus grabbed my wrist and slammed it against the wall. The sword fell out of my hand and landed on the ground with a loud clank.

"If you want to live," Perseus said. "Get off this ship now. Tell the other demigods." Then he shoved me down the stairwell.

Analise, I thought.

She was one of the other demigods on board the Princess Andromeda. I'd found her a couple months ago and told her about our dad. She had decided to help, and I figured the ship would be the safest place for her to serve, since we had a magic healer - me - aboard.

But if what Perseus said was true, I had to get her out.

I rushed downstairs to her quarters. "Analise?!" I called.

"What?" my sister asked. The small girl was holding her stuffed horse with cardboard wings glued on to make a pegasus.

"We need to go. The ship's under attack."

"No," she said defiantly. I just picked her up and started running.

Along the way, every demigod I found, I shouted, "Get off the ship, it isn't safe."

When I got to the lower deck, I grabbed the first lifesaver I could find, and jumped overboard, with Analise still in my arms. No sooner than we'd gotten fifty feet from the Princess Andromeda did it suddenly explode with green flames. Greek fire. One of the deadliest substances in the world.

"Thanks, Perce," I whispered. I don't know how many other demigods decided to escape, but for now, I knew that my sister and I got out.

~ ~ ~ Three days later ~ ~ ~

"Deserters," Luke/Kronos growled. "You deserted your post shamefully. I should have you killed for this, Adriano Firenze."

I held my ground. No way was I going to back down.

"But instead, I must make an example. Your sister first."

I flinched as Kronos laughed and brought his soldier forth. A huge minotaur wearing full battle armor, holding a pair of swords shaped like Greek omegas marched toward Analise and slashed at her chest.

"No!" I shouted, summoning every ounce of my natural healing power to help her out.

I punched the minotaur in the face while it was distracted and grabbed one sword. "Analise, go! Get back to Camp Half-Blood, now!" Analise shuddered and ran as fast as she could - not very fast, but faster than my stillness, so the minotaur settled on me.

The minotaur slashed at me with his remaining sword, as I blocked.

"He's lasting longer than most," Kronos's one-eyed lieutenant Ethan Nakamura noted.

I ran back to Kronos's side. He pushed me away, but I wasn't trying to rejoin him. Right when I was behind him, the minotaur caught up with me and sliced through the air...

Right at Kronos's chest.

But nothing happened. If Kronos were, well, a Titan lord, it would make sense. But now he was possessing Luke's body, and should have been just as choppable as any other mortal. Unless...

"You bathed in the Styx," I breathed. Just like Achilles. Invincible except for one weak point.

The minotaur stopped thinking strategy. It just wanted to kill me and was slicing down anything - including Kronos - that stood in its way. Kronos took no damage from any of its strikes, nor from any of my strikes behind him.

"Enough," he boomed. He took the minotaur's blade and sliced me open at my arm. I knew just how to treat that, but there was no time because he sliced again, this time at my neck.

I was bleeding fast. And I will have accomplished nothing. Just one last thing I could do...

"Thalia... and Annabeth..." I gasped. Thalia was a daughter of Zeus who returned to camp a little while ago. They were both fighting on the Olympians' side, but I knew there was something going on with Luke and those two.

"Asklepius... is going to lose a child... something the Olympians aren't... dealing with... where's the... fairness there?"

I saw Ethan Nakamura flinch. His mom was Nemesis, minor goddess of balance. He felt the minor gods deserved equality and I was appealing to it.

The last thing I'd ever do.

~ ~ ~ Hades ~ ~ ~


As a medic, this was where I always kept people from going. And now, here I was.

"Asphodel," my judge, Bruce Lee, told me. "I'm sick of everyone thinking they can do bad their whole lives and then just be a hero in their last minute and expect Elysium. You going to Asphodel."

"I respect your decision," I said before a couple Ares kids showed up.

I can only hope that the others would be able to stop Kronos's army. With only a few days before the prophecy came true, that's all I could do.

A half-blood of the eldest gods

Shall reach sixteen against all odds

And see the world in endless sleep

The hero's soul, cursed blade shall reap

A single choice shall end his days

Olympus to preserve or raze

Maybe the prophecy did affect me. I chose to listen to Perseus on the ship, and that killed me. In my final acts, I appealed to whatever doubts Luke and Ethan had. It was the omega sword that killed me, and in the end, I'd say I was a hero. I witnessed the sleeping of Manhattan. Sure, I wasn't a sixteen-year-old Big Three demigod, but when it comes to prophecies, all of us can be the heroes.

~ ~ ~ Epilogue from Luke's POV ~ ~ ~

I had to fight Kronos.

At first, helping him was alright, a way to get revenge on my dad and the other gods. But now he'd taken over my body, my free will, and making me hurt the people I cared about.

But then the medic, Adriano Firenze, changed everything. His power gave me a bit more freedom from Kronos's control.

I hadn't exerted my freedom yet. I didn't want Kronos to know how much control I had over him.

At least, until Percy gave me the knife...

We were all heroes, in a way. Annabeth kept the knife all these years, Percy gave it to me. I broke free of Kronos's control long enough to defeat him with it, but I wouldn't have been able to do that without the help of Adriano Firenze.

Silena Beauregard against the drakon. Charles Beckendorf on the boat. Adriano Firenze with me. Ethan Nakamura and I. Even Zoë Nightshade and Bianca di Angelo.

So many of us had died, but we all made our last moments count. Regardless of what the judges say, that's what makes a true hero.

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