Perseus winced as he bandaged up a new training injury on his chest. Training. That was one way of looking at the hell they had endured the last few months. All the while Hannibal was marching south through the peninsula, taunting them as he marched towards Rome. Smaller skirmishes had been had, nothing short of slaughter without proper leadership.
It was June. The summer harvest was pointless in Perseus opinion. Why harvest food to feed Roman stomachs when the Carthaginians and their barbarian allies would just ransack the countryside? News was slow, prayers were left unanswered. Gaius Flaminius was the Consul now, their best hope against Hannibal.
"Fools they are, placing their hopes on one man like him." He said as he tightened the bandage around his chest "Man like him…too focused on glory and his desire to kill, to properly think is beneath him."
Perseus was in the Temple of Jupiter. The other Arcani trainees were training at the barracks. When the priest would come in to survey them, Perseus felt as if he was looking through them rather than at them. Like they were just an inconvenience to him.
There was a commotion now, footsteps in the main foyer. Perseus pushed himself up off the stone bench he sat on and shuffled towards the noise. He could hear voices, some sobs and cries of women who came to pray to Jupiter. Angry shouts from the men gathered around at the center of the commotion.
"Impossible…" came the withered gasp from the priest "All of them? You are sure?"
Perseus heard a younger voice speak, "Yes…Hannibal was at Lake Trasimene, I…I was sent after the first runner reached Ariminum. I and several others were sent to spread the news…I'm sorry, but it is as we feared."
The priest took several shaking steps towards the statue of Jupiter. Two of the men came to his side quickly to steady him. "Twenty-five thousand…and he just…"
"Yes. Gaius Flaminius was said to be among the dead…but without a search party to confirm…"
The priest waved him off "No no…I am sorry for keeping you from the Senate, go now! Tell them of what has happened, Rome must be prepared for his arrival."
Perseus stood there, watching as the people dispersed. The messenger running out of the temple likely, hopefully, to inform the senate of what had transpired. The men and women, the loyal followers of Jupiter, left in search of some form of comfort or perhaps a barracks to enlist with.
"You were watching that exchange," the priest spoke "What do you make of this news, Arcani?"
"I don't know what to think." He admitted "Gaius was arrogant, hot-headed…he acted more like a child throwing a tantrum than a proper general should."
"And this is the truth? Your truth?" the priest pressed "You believe that a calmer more…level headed general could have won the day?"
Perseus shook his head. He was there when Scipio tried and failed, he knew Hannibal's strategy better than any Roman living and he was not the one put in charge of the fighting. "No, but without knowing the details around this last battle I cannot say just what would have won it. But I do know that next time I face his army I will not fail."
"Failure is not to be shunned Arcani, rather it is to be taken from a lesson on what to do." The priest gestured up to the statue of Jupiter "Our Lord is a God of Justice, of the Sky, the very Heavens themselves! You! You are his chosen sword here in the realm of us mortals, a warrior to serve Rome from the shadows, to bring it into the light."
"So you say…but even with the training of Rome, and with more from you and the temple…the prayer…you still keep us restrained. Why?"
"Tell me Arcani, you were once a Principe, and before that part of the Hastati…would you send boys on the cusp of manhood out into battle without proper training? Would you throw your men to face Hannibal without the proper equipment?"
"No!" the priest declares "No…but it is no longer a question of training and equipment…now it is in Lord Jupiter's hands. You will continue to prepare, to train your body and mind for the day you face Hannibal Barca and when you do…your destiny shall be fulfilled, and you will truly be Arcani."
Perseus didn't question the old man. Why should he? He knew the priest was right. His body was still young but his injuries from training were still fresh. His comrades, his new brothers, were still stumbling about. They were too used to Roman formations, fighting with a larger group of men to support them. As a small group of twenty-five Romans they were just too few to adjust for most of them. But not for Perseus. He was used to fighting as a single man, no team to support him, no reinforcements in the middle of the battlefield. His uncle, Manius Julius, had said that Mars himself would praise a soldier who can fight well with his fellow man, but that he would patron any who can fight alone even better. Mars was not Perseus favorite god but he was up there in importance before a battle.
That night, after the Senates declaration of electing a dictator in Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, they would ascend. The news of a dictator in Rome was unsettling but the priest assured each of them that Jupiter would not allow such a thing to happen without good reason. The reason in question was their new promotion to being full fledged Arcani.
"This night is not for the faint of heart." He began "Each of you was chosen, each of you pledged loyalty to our Lord, and each of you shall serve Rome in a better capacity than before." The priest lead the group back to the statue of Jupiter. Before the statue were twenty-five wooden boxes, each with the silver image of an eagle on the top. "It is time. In these chests, you will find your new tools, your equipment, as Arcani. Wear them with pride, wield them in our Lords name. When these dark times are over, and a new consul is appointed, we shall do our Lords bidding and save Rome from the Carthaginian foe that threatens her gates."
Perseus opened his chest, taking in the detail of its contents. A black cloak, black mask, new sandals and manica for his arms. This was the beginning of his journey proper.
"How do we want to do this?"
Perseus frowned under his mask. Overlooking the fields of Cannae the twenty-five Arcani sat atop their horses and waited. They had risen through their training. Strengthened their bonds as brothers of Rome, tested their abilities against one another and improved beyond what the regular military would have permitted. The reports were that Hannibal would be here, engaged by the current Consuls to Rome, Gaius Varro and Lucius Paullus; the two generals had marched their armies south after Hannibal, hoping to box him in or perhaps chase him out, Perseus didn't know.
"We wait," he said as they watched the two armies meet with the river Aufidus set at the rear of the Carthaginian lines. "Right now, rushing into all of that would do us no good. We need a plan."
"Well we are only here to kill Hannibal, if we find him then we can finish this right here and now." another spoke up "I say we go down there and just get this over with."
"And go against all sense? We want to defend Rome not throw ourselves into the fray and wake up at Lord Pluto's feet!"
Perseus tried to ignore the arguments of his comrades. Two years to learn to work together and it all falls apart before the fighting starts. The battle was starting, the sounds of clashing steel and iron weapons, the screams and shouts of Gaullic infantry, the distinct thunk of a stone hitting Roman shields and armor.
"We go in from the rear."
The Arcani turned as one, staring at Perseus in a perplexed unity.
"We circle around his formation." He said again "The Carthaginian army is positioned now, the river to one side, their forces angled to allow us to push in…if Hannibal is leading this army like we believe then he is at the center leading them forward."
"And you know this how?"
"Yeah, how do we know you are right?"
Perseus took a calming breath. "Because I faced him twice before joining the Arcani. Both times, his tactics were the same. Stay with the weakest section, keep morale up, be in the middle of the fighting and have reinforcements waiting for the signal."
"Say we believe you, where are the reinforcements?"
"Crossing the bank further up where it is shallow," Perseus points off down stream "Or they could be moving around the plains, preparing to do to our forces what I suggested we do to theirs. Our options are limited, and the longer we stay here debating this the harder this will be when we do have to go in and fight."
"And you think this is wise? We would be caught in the crossfire!"
"Better that than to sit here and watch a massacre."
The others were stunned. Perseus tugged on the reins, kicking his horse into action he rode down the hill towards the battle. As he rode on, he could see the dust cloud kicked up by the clashing cavalry on the Roman left flank. To avoid a confrontation there then he would have to go closer to the river…a task that was ill-advised at the best of times.
Hannibal Barca was Carthage's main man you could say. He was the fierce general who was bringing Rome to its knees, ravaging the Italian countryside and leaving piles of bodies in his wake. He was the man who would bring Carthage back to the top of the Mediterranean food chain. He stood with his soldiers shoulder to shoulder, he fought beside them in the chaos of the day, cutting down Roman soldiers as they approached. As his forces began to envelop the roman lines, boxing them inside his own formation, he knew the day was his. The battle was over and done with, but it would not end until the last drop of Roman blood had been spilt.
The mighty Carthaginian pulled back, letting his men do their work while he observed from the rear with his own guard. Ten of his best men. Each from a different culture he had enlisted. Iberian, Numidian, Carthaginian, Gaullic, even some Italians. They stood back and let the rest of their comrades enjoy the blood bath. But it was not to be a true peace. Hannibal was no ordinary man. He was no demigod either. He was experienced in battle and his senses were keen.
Perseus growled as one of the Arcani broke rank. The roman rushed in, swinging for Hannibal's head just to be parried by the general himself. The rest didn't wait their turns either, each charging in with a war cry, engaging the generals bodyguard in a melee. Perseus had to pick out which one was Hannibal amidst the confusion. Eleven men against twenty-five should not have been a difficult fight. Yet it was.
Hannibal cut down two of the masked men, driving his blade into the chest of another. His bodyguard were holding them back, and from the looks of it he was clearly the target for this attack. He never thought the Romans of all people would have a back-up force, or even a stealth unit lying in wait.
His men were being pushed back slowly, cut down one after another. Hannibal fought back, he would not go quietly in the face of these foes. His blade would be buried in chests, piercing lungs, cutting through throats of Roman dogs. In the end, two Carthaginians would stare down five of these men.
Perseus kept his gladius raised. They would try to surround them now. Five Arcani against two men…it would work, it had to. The two closest to the would charge forward, engaging them with caution while Perseus and the remaining two would come in to push. With any luck they would cut down the last bodyguard and finish Hannibal right here and now.
Hannibal parried the roman blade and kicked the wielder back. As the next one came in he spun, parrying the strike and brought his blade across the back of his opponents neck. Severing the connection between head and body. Four left. His final guard was toying with them, forcing his two to strike and counter. One roman stumbled forward as the Carthaginian man weaved between he and his partner. The other was not as fortunate, his blade was poised to thrust up into its target's ribs. The roman thought he had him then, but as his blade was coming up so too was the Carthaginian blade coming down. Perseus watched as Roman steel shattered. The young Arcani stumbled forward, knocked down by the larger Carthaginian.
"Is this what Rome sends to face me?" Hannibal's voice…it was rough, deep and strong as he spoke "Dogs who cannot fight? Boys how play at being men? I see no proud sons of Rome before me!"
The Arcani regrouped. Four men strong. Four men tried and true. Four men too few.
Hannibal raised his blade "You would be the ones to kill me then? Very well…come, face me and be slain by my hands."
The Arcani with no sword backed down. Perseus watched him pick up a spear off the body of a dead Gaullic warrior. He had the reach, but they were all trained to use a sword, a gladius, not a spear. The fool ran in. Hannibal turned, brought his blade down cutting through the spears length and brought his blade back up through the poor man's head. The body fell limp.
They needed a plan. They were three now, no signs of the main army breaking free behind Hannibal. No where to run. The Arcani to his right, an older man of a few short years stepped forward, gladius raised.
"I challenge you, Hannibal Barca, not as a son of Rome but as a son of Jupiter himself!"
Hannibal and his guard shared a glance "A son of Jupiter you say? And what do your petty gods want with me I wonder? Tell me, what is your name, demigod."
"I am Tiberius Scipio, son of Jupiter." Tiberius certainly had the…posture of a Scipii with how he puffed out his chest. "I will fight you in single combat, and when I win your army shall be crushed in my father's name."
Perseus felt the hairs on his neck stand up as Hannibal laughed. "Oh, little Scipio, I think not."
Tiberius grit his teeth and thrust his sword forward. In what felt like an act of divine intervention Perseus felt the winds suddenly pick up and blow towards Hannibal. The Carthaginian stood tall, smirking as his guard stepped in the way. Tiberius was not one to back down. The roman charged, engaging the man who in his mind was foolish enough to interrupt his battle.
"It won't do you any good roman," Hannibal jeered "Jebel isn't the average warrior, son of Jupiter."
Perseus shared a glance with the last Arcani by his side. Tiberius may be a son of Jupiter…or more likely he was full of hot air like his family. However, they were Arcani, and they were a team. The two ran in, taking advantage of Hannibal's lack of protection for the moment. The two engaged him, forcing the mighty general of Carthage on the defensive. Perseus felt his body move in ways he never thought possible. The speed and precision of the fight, short as it was to an outsider, was exhilarating.
Hannibal was grinning as they pressed the attack. These Romans fought well; better than the average ones he had slaughtered before. He could tell however that they were not all perfect. One was still fresh, new to this life, untested. Weak. He disarmed him in one fluid motion, leaving a cut on his arm. A minor inconvenience to Hannibal himself, were it his arm that had been injured.
"You fight well…but you are no warrior." He said, blade raised towards Perseus, "I will fight your friend here…but you…you should leave, go back to your home and comfort. The battlefield is no place for you."
"You think this will stop me?" the Arcani asked "This is my home…and you are not part of it!"
Perseus eyes widened beneath his mask as his comrade pulled a dagger from its sheath on his belt. The blade came up in a slashing arc, missing Hannibal's throat just barely. The Carthaginian warrior scowled, stepping back, he grasped onto the offending arm and brought it down. Perseus turned away just as the blade came in. He could hear it break through the mask of his comrade, cracking the material and through the skull.
Hannibal kicked the body back with a shake of his head "Such a waste." He glanced at his last opponent "And what of you? Will you throw away your life like he did? Will you fight me to the death and waste your breath?"
Perseus wanted to. He wanted nothing more than to run this man through with his blade, to make him pay for the lives he took. There was a groan from his right. Tiberius, battered and bloody, was tossed at Hannibal's feet. Gladius thrown to Perseus own feet.
"You see? A son of Rome is nothing to me, much as a son of Jupiter is nothing to a son of Mot." Hannibal motions for his guard to step forward "Jebel, son of Mot, my most trusted guard and warrior. You see…your gods have abandoned you if even their own children are inferior to ours."
With a simple jerk of his head to Jebel, Perseus felt a cold frost take hold of him. He felt…despair. A cold hand on his shoulder, a paralyzing fear even, as Jebel pulled Tiberius to his feet with a hold of his head.
"Any last words, son of Jupiter?"
Tiberius grit his teeth and cursed Hannibal. "My father will strike you down…mark my words…I will see you in the Underworld Hannibal Barca!"
Jebel didn't require prompting after that. His blade buried in the young Scipii Romans back. He threw the body to the side, just another one of many casualties in this war.
"Now…that just leaves you, doesn't it?" Hannibal turned to Perseus; brow arched as the Arcani picked up the discarded gladius "Two swords? You are an odd one…no interest in rushing in blindly or grabbing a weapon you know not how to handle. Not even a declaration of a godly lineage? Just who are you?"
"I am…Arcani." He said calmly, tightening his hold on the weapons "And while I would love nothing more than to kill you here and now, I do know when I am beaten. You Hannibal Barca are the superior fighter in this moment."
Hannibal inclined his head, but the words he would have spoken died on his tongue.
"But I am not surrendering now!"
Perseus rushed in. Foolishly he charged, but he did what Hannibal did not expect. Rather than attack the general, he attacked the guard. He knew that feeling that gripped his very being in that moment. It was fear of the worst kind. Not one found on the battlefield nor in training camps, and never at the edge of a blade. It was only found in Death. Jebel swung his arm around, parrying left and right, stepping back quickly as Perseus pressed him. The Arcani's blades clashed with the Carthaginians, he didn't need to break them, and he did not need a God to intervene for him.
"I am a son of Rome!" he roared, knocking the blade out of Jebels hands "And you…are carrion for the vultures."
His blades thrust forward, one in jebels side, the other in his upper chest. Perseus pulled them free, stepping to the side as the mighty son of Mot fell dead. He felt…alive, inside at the least. His heart was thumping so hard in his chest he felt he might drop from shock. Instinct took over as he spun round and blocked a swing from Hannibal. He did not however stop the kick to his chest.
"You killed my champion…my bodyguard…my warrior!" he roared. Perseus was dazed as he staggered to his feet. "And yet…you are the first to truly achieve victory on him. Dead or not, none have managed to even cut him. I am…impressed, Roman."
"And I'm happy for you," Perseus sasses back "Now if you don't mind, this is the part where we fight."
"No, it is not." There was movement behind him. Iberians moved to protect their general. Hannibal raised his blade up high "You fought well Roman. Better than the cowardly dogs I have been campaigning against. You know when to fight, and when to run. I am impressed with your skill but today is not the day for you and I to have our duel proper. I give you this one chance. Run. Or you can stay here and die, your goal unfulfilled. Like the rest of your comrades today."
Perseus surveyed the situation. It was a lost cause. He had backup, his army would be slowly trickling back to his side as the Roman army was cut down…he had to report back the news of today, he had to be smart. For Publius.
Hannibal watched the roman in black run along the riverbank. There was a sharp sound in the air, a black horse running to meet him. As horse and rider began to fade into the distance his brother Mago came to his side.
"Why did you let the Roman live?"
"Because, if we simply slaughtered all of their forces here with no survivors then they would rally troops from all walks of life to fight us." Hannibal smiled as he turned his head to survey the dwindling embers of the battle "But this way, they will rally only enough for themselves to feel safe, making it easier for us to keep fighting here. This way, our victory can be ever closer. Peace before slaughter, after all."
"And what of this battle then? Or the ones before it?"
"Slaughter before peace."
Perseus dismounted just outside the temple. He gently ran his hand across the horses back before taking the walk he had grown too familiar with. He entered the temple, his body just moving on its own until he stood before the statue of Jupiter. He dropped to his knees, slamming his fist into the floor.
"Arcani?" the priest called "What news do you bring of the battle?"
He slowly stood, turning to face the aged priest he shook his head "We failed."
"Of twenty-five Arcani sent out to eliminate the one called Hannibal Barca, only one remains still breathing." Perseus clenched his fists "I failed them…I failed Rome…I failed you."
"Twenty-four Arcani? And…what of the army that engaged them at Cannae?"
Perseus shook his head "When I left, the fighting was still going on. With how the army was surrounded…they would be lucky if anyone survived, let alone a few hundred. Hannibal wouldn't allow too many to walk away, he wants nothing short of our destruction and he will not rest until he has it."
"Truly…we face a monster then." The old man seemed to age a few more years "Arcani…today is a sad day for our order, for us it is the loss of many young acolytes but for you…it is your journey. You are the last Arcani now…the one who will spread the teachings."
Teachings? What teachings other than to pray to Jupiter and to train until your body was ready to collapse. Perseus was about to question the priest but was silenced with a raised hand.
"When you and the others came, I thought my prayers had been answered. Recruits to revive the order, to protect Rome…but now, you are all that is left. Tell me, what is your name Arcani? What did you see out there on that field?"
His mouth felt dry. There under the gaze of Jupiter and his priest, the things he had seen came back to him. The dust of that field, the cries of anguish, the sound of metal cutting through flesh, his comrades dropping around him as Hannibal came for them like a war god.
"Perseus…Perseus Nero Julius, son of Gaius Julius."
"A strong name…" the priest noted "Now, what did you see out there? Tell me."
"I…I saw a battlefield, clearer than my first, far clearer than the last one I was on with Hannibal on the other side…he slaughtered us. Cut down twenty-three of my brothers in arms and ordered the execution of one more. A son of Jupiter. So he claimed. Hannibal…he was ruthless, precise, practically without flaw. That man…that demon…he said I fought well for a Roman, that I was better than the cowards he was used to cutting down. Told me to run, that I knew when to fight and when to run and that now was the time to prove him right…I witnessed not a battle like we expected nor a massacre that we had feared…I witnessed the slaughter of our best at his hands, personally."
"Slaughter," the priest gasped "Slaughter and blood born anew, at Cannae the shadow falls but in Rome born again to Caesar kin they rise."
"You." He says simply "Perseus Nero Julius…son of Gaius Julius…Principe of Rome…I charge you with the duty of restoring the Arcani, of using your training and your skills to defend Rome and her people to the best of your ability. Because of todays events, because of your…tenacity, your luck in surviving the worst threat to Rome not once but thrice, I name you Caedis. The Scourge of Rome."
Perseus took a step back. Caedis? Scourge? What was going on here now? "Sir you…you cannot be serious."
"But I am," he shot back "You still desire to defend Rome correct? To protect her people, to avenge her fallen, to defeat Hannibal Barca?"
"Yes," he did not hesitate in his answer.
"Then henceforth, you are the Arcani known as Caedis. You are the leader, the founder, the builder of the order now. You are Rome's best hope when her armies fail her."
"But my family…my name, I can't just throw that away."
"You will not…this job…this task laid before you I once had and when I failed much as you have, I resigned myself to be a priest of our Lord Jupiter. This role you have been given, this title, this order, your status as Arcani, all of it! Secret, shadow, a deceit. To be Arcani is to be unknown, to be a rumor, a myth to the people but very real. Your identity must remain secret in Rome. Many a politician would do their best to either buy your services, to control you, or to kill you."
Perseus knew he should have listened to his father more when he would rant about how corrupt the senate was at times. He should have listened to his grandfather curse the senate for its transgressions against the Julii.
"Good," the priest said, glancing up at the statue "I shall pray here for your success, for your health and the hope that Rome shall thrive once more under your watch. Go, you…should rest up. You will need it in the coming times."
Perseus didn't take the offer of rest. He did as had become tradition over the years. He retreated to the temple of Vesta. With the hearth burning brightly behind him he knelt before the statue of Vesta. He could not find the words as he once had. When Publius died, when he joined the army, when his mother had passed into Hades realm. He found the words then but now, now he only knew that death followed him with every step forward he took.
"Apologies, my lady…" he began "But I do not know what to say. I kneel before you as a defeated son of Rome. I would pray to you to protect my family as I seem incapable of doing so…alas I cannot ask you to protect me as I seem unable to die alongside my comrades as well. Perseus the unkillable I appear to be. The failure…the Arcani. Lady Vesta…Lady Hestia…whichever you prefer, I need guidance going forward but seek none from you. I ask only that the hearth I find myself resting by in the future keep me warm and remind me of what I must do. I swear…I will not give up, not until Hannibal has fallen, and even then I will protect my family till the day I am dead and greet Lord Pluto in his domain."
Perseus stood, his sea-green eyes blazing as he came to his own conclusions. He was Roman, he was Greek but above all he was a son of the Julii, he was the guardian of Rome, the Arcani.
"Is that what you desire?" a young voice spoke up behind him.
Perseus whirled; gladius drawn. There was no one in the temple but him. Him, and the young girl tending to the hearth "Who are you?"
"I asked you a question first did I not?"
"Yes…that is the answer to your question now answer mine."
"I don't think I will."
He blinked. "You…what?"
"I said I don't think I will," she stood up, examining him with a calculating gaze far too bright for a girl her age. She looked to be as old as his younger sister Portia, maybe ten or twelve summers. "You want to protect you family, yet you do not pray to Mars or Jupiter for strength to do so. You join the Arcani, the warriors of Jupiter himself and yet you pray not him when inducted into their ranks."
"Have…have we met before?" he asks hesitantly "have you been following me to the temples? Spying on me for a senator?"
"And yet when faced with something you do not understand…you point a sword at it."
Thank the gods for the mask. Perseus felt his face heat up as he realized that indeed he was still pointing his weapon at her. "Apologies miss, but…you startled me is all."
"Is that it?" she teased. A smile adorned her face as her eyes seemed to glow in the light of the fire "What are you afraid of, Arcani?"
"I don't think I have to answer to you little one," he said calmly "You should get home now, it is too late for a girl like you to be out and about." He turned his back, prepared to gaze at the statue. On any official record he would report that he did not scream as some sources would try to declare.
"Little am I?"
Perseus did in fact move his hand back to his sword. The girl was in front of him now…how did she move so fast? And what was worse, she was nearly his height too. She looked…older as well, sterner even, it was all in the eyes.
She began to circle him, much like the war dogs would circle a dying Gaul as he had seen on the frontier. She hummed to herself, muttering things as she inspected him, pulling at his arms. Perseus felt a heat building in his body from her touch, not like his uncle Manius described once, carelessly, about women but more like the pressing of hot coals to his skin.
"You are already strong enough…but you think you are not strong enough." She shook her head, sighing at the end "Do you truly desire to kill and only kill in the name of Rome?"
"I…no. I only wish to protect my people, my family foremost, and my home from those who would destroy them."
The young woman smiled "Good, then I think I know how you can do just that."
Perseus blinked "I'm sorry…this is all…confusing. Who are you exactly?"
"Go on, guess." Her appearance changed; she was no longer a young woman but a small girl now.
"Clearly…I am in over my head," he mutters "Apologies my lady," he got down on his knees "I know you are not mortal…but your identity it…I am not used to meeting one of the divine."
"None are, but you are a special case, Perseus Julius." He froze as she said his name "Son of a Roman and Greek, heir to the Julii family's legacy, a half-blood with no divine blood in him. You are…curious."
"Curious? How so?"
She giggled "Not many men pray to me in Rome, fewer pray to me and ask for something that isn't a good home to return to or a loyal wife or a warm meal. And then there is you. You prayed to me every chance you had while in training and only asked that I protect your family if you were unable to. You prayed to me, only recently, not just as my Roman form Vesta but also as my original Greek form Hestia…do you know how many mortals do such a thing?"
Perseus gulped. He could feel a bead of sweat running down his neck. An Olympian…or rather, one of the original six. She was here before him, and he was quite aware that she could immolate him if she so desired. Stories were one thing but having the subject of said story before you…that was a whole different thing. "I do not, milady."
"One." She said it so simply. His body tensed, a pit of dread forming in his stomach "Just, one. You. The only mortal to do this and why? Because of your mixed heritage, because of your mother. You intrigue me, something that doesn't happen often, but you also believe in me, something that I can't say I ever expected a Roman man to really do."
"What…what do you want form me then?"
"To help you of course, I would like to make a deal with you, Arcani."
Perseus knew from his mother's lessons that these 'deals' had a tendency to haunt you in the end. Likely this would lead him to a quest, through danger, battles with man and monster alike, and very possibly his death before reaching his thirtieth year.
AN: I know it goes without saying I don't own the PJO characters when and as they show up but…do we have to say we don't own a historical figure/real but dead person? Because if not I am claiming the rights to Hannibal right now. And the other 'guests' I have planned. Don't worry, this wont be as confusing as Winged Flame…ok, nothing will ever be that confusing but still. So yeah, lots of words, big battle, expect this to usually happen where the big battle chapters or the big plot relevant chapters are longer. And this marks 2 of…potentially 13-15 things for later, mentioned. Later!