So, first off, I haven't updated in 5 years. And 5 years ago I promised this story would be finished in two months. Obviously, that was not the case. I guess I just didn't feel like writing on here for the longest time, and that's okay. But now I've read my 2 stories back and I just really want to finish this one. Even if no one knows what's going on anymore, I think it deserves to be finished If you fully want to understand this story, I would recommend reading "The Light in the Sky", my other story/ book. If you don't have time / feel like it, don't worry, everything you need to know will be explained here. I hope there's still a few people out there, be it old readers or new, who will read and enjoy this. If not, then it's simply great writing practice! I'm looking forward to returning

Lots of love, thegirlwiththetrident (a.k.a. Grace)

Recap: Erin and Ryan just managed to escape Datelus' music store of horrors, though neither of them quite know how. They're still trying to follow the path of the oracle to complete their quest to help Rachel Dare, and again, neither of them quite know how. And they're still at each other's throats regularly. So, let's find out where the next step of their journey takes place…

All rights for PJO / HoO to Rick Riordan.

Chapter 20: Long awaited Awakenings

The darkness lasted for a while longer. I didn't really dream, but I did see shapes and images that I couldn't make any sense of. Strange faces that seemed familiar at first, but then dissolved before I could quite grasp them. A boy with messy brown hair and chocolatey eyes, a girl with purple flames engulfing her arms.

At some point, I heard a voice break through the darkness, softly at first and then more insistently.

"Erin. Erin, wake up." It was a male voice, and I felt like I knew it. It had an annoyed edge to it that couldn't have belonged to anybody else. Slowly, I opened my eyes, which was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated.

The only thing I recognized about my surroundings was Ryan's face, leaning over me. Was I still hallucinating or was the look on his face more worried than annoyed? Surely I was still out of it.

"What's up?" I said while trying to sit up, but what came out was more along the lines of "Washhub", accompanied by a weak spasm from my body. Somehow, speaking and moving was even more difficult than opening my eyes and for a moment, stars danced before them.

"Woah there, don't try to move yet." Ryan ordered, his forehead still scrunched up. "We don't know how much of a toll the traveling took yet."

I gazed at him, confused. Traveling? Toll? What had happened to us? I tried to remember, I really did, but all I could think of was darkness, and, briefly, a flash of pain. I tried to reach up to touch the back of my head where a dull ache emanated from, but my arm felt like cooked spaghetti.

Ryan must have understood my attempt though, as he explained "That creepy music guy hit you on the back of your head with a CD just as we were…escaping." I noticed his hesitation on the last word.

He continued "I saw you black out, but I couldn't do anything because he'd hit me with that nasty immobilizing slime. Disgusting, and really difficult to get off. Thankfully you'd grabbed hold of me before we went through, otherwise I would have had to stay behind and listen to the likes of Apollo's Top Hundred Chariot Driving Songs."

It was such an unexpected thing for Ryan to say, that even though I hardly understood the rest of his sentence, I had to laugh. It wasn't a loud laugh, and it sent a wave of tiredness through me, but it was genuine. Ryan hardly ever joked, so I guess I had to savour it while it lasted. Well, I thought, he hardly ever joked with me.

"Careful your dad doesn't hear you say that. He might never let you drive the sun chariot." I smiled at him and, for what felt like the first time, got a weak smile in return.

It was only then that I noticed our surroundings behind Ryan. Above my head, dark rock twinkled slightly in the light of a fire lit to my right. On top of the fire hung a cauldron. An actual cauldron, I kid you not. What was this, Hogwarts? The rest of the cave (for surely it had to be a cave for there to be a rock ceiling) was mostly concealed in shadows, but I could make out that it was surprisingly nicely furnished. I was lying on a bed as comfortable as my own one at home and there were furs and drawings visible on those parts of the wall that the fire illuminated. I couldn't make out the exit.

Gathering my strength, I looked at Ryan again and asked, "Where are we?"
I still couldn't move, so no matter where we were, I would have to accept it. Still, through the exhaustion, I was curious.

"Honestly, I don't know." He responded, and I saw that he was fingering his gold watch, which concealed his sword from mortal eyes. "But this is where we landed, well outside to be precise, and then she came and offered to help me find you shelter and food. You weren't moving and I didn't know if… Well, I decided to follow her, and she led me here." Ryan's eyes were slightly troubled, and I had the sudden impulse to reach out and squeeze his hand reassuringly. Woah, I really was out of it. Where had that thought come from?

"Who's she?" I wanted to know, unsatisfied with my companion's vague answers. "And what is this place?"

"This my dear – " a new voice suddenly came from the other end of the cave, where a curtain was being pushed aside just this second to reveal a woman wearing a long robe. "This is an oratory, or a Tighthe nan Druidhneach, if you're being traditional. But somehow, I don't think you're the type for that, are you?" The woman smiled and stepped closer to us.