"'Go to Montana,' he said," I grumbled to myself, Riptide cutting through more weeds with a small slash. The air smelled like fresh pine and a hint of holly. "'I'll have a monster waiting for you. It'll be fun. It'll be training.' Thanks, Triton. Fucking training."
I cleared through the bushes, only to be greeted by more foliage. I sighed to myself- hunting in National Parks was the hunting equivalent of going running on a really busy street. It was rewarding, sure, but you had to stop every five minutes for some annoyance or another.
I needed to get some height. I looked around for the nearest tree to climb. My eyes settled on a rather large, old-looking tree to my right.
I hopped up, hooking my fingers into the trunk of a monster oak. I climbed to the top of the tree with relative ease, settling into a small groove and perching on a branch. The forests of Yellowstone National Park stretched out in front of me, the fall time making the green leaves turn all kinds of colors.
Maybe I would've even found the sight pretty if it wasn't the fact that I was ticked off beyond belief. Man, I had school tomorrow! This was supposed to be my day off, with just a little bit of light training.
Just as I could've sword I heard laughter, the wind suddenly blew in a great gust, and a branch slammed into my face. I fell back a bit, smashing into the sticky trunk. A spider briefly scurried by my leg.
"Great." I spit out some leaves. I wiped some sap off my neck. "Just great. I'm going to flip out when I get back home."
I was on a training trip- the kind where Triton spawned me in the middle of nowhere and told me to hunt down an animal. Normally, these trips were just a few minutes long, but this one was taking well over a few hours.
I was hunting a golden-white, probably albino, diamondback snake that was the size of a flagpole. The slithery bastard always managed to slip out of my grasp. It was unnaturally durable, too.
To paint you a picture, it should have died three hours ago when I dropped a crate of bowling balls on it at the Napa Bargain Mart. It should have died two hours ago when I torched it alive by superheating the water in the Yellowstone Geyser. It definitely should have died a half hour ago when I cut off its head in Lake Village's fishing bridge- but no, the snake kept dodging me and surviving somehow.
If this was a lesson in patience and discipline, I would have so much rather just gotten a lecture about it. Even a PowerPoint by Mr. Lyman, the king of all snooze fests, would've been better than this.
I pulled my jacket, zipping it up as another gust of wind blew loudly, almost pushing me off the branch. Montana was much colder than New York.
Through a careful round of [Mana Detection], I saw the glint of yellowy mana slide through another canopy of trees, aiming toward a small body of water. Returning my vision to normal, I made sure the diamondback was there. My eye spotted it instantly, tracking the monstrosity with ease.
I leaped off the tree, blasting toward the snake with my fists out. I was going to strangle it. String it up like a balloon animal and then melt through it with my bare hands. Use it as a paddleboard. Skin it and make a belt.
I went shooting into the water with a thunderous roar. Victory!
I grabbed the snake, tumbling through the shallow marsh, ready to enact my master plan of revenge…when I realized…I wasn't holding a snake at all. Somehow, the snake I'd been holding had completely vanished, only to be replaced by something else.
Halfway through flipping through water, the thing I'd grabbed stopped our momentum.
It was a woman.
A naked woman. She had a lithe and muscular form- a small, but graceful air. Her arms were toned- and strong, clearly, as she was somehow holding both of us upright. Her chest was pressed against mine, and my hands, unfortunately enough, were gripping her butt. Hard.
She had auburn hair that fell to her chin, with pale silver eyes and a smattering of freckles on her nose.
And, well…those eyes were filled with unspeakable rage. It was like looking into a molten vat of metal.
Artemis [GODDESS OF THE HUNT, ARCHERY, WILDERNESS…]
Artemis is the Greek virgin goddess of the hunt, archery, wilderness, forests, the Moon, radiance, maidenhood, and childbirth. She and her twin brother Apollo are known as the "Twin Archers." Artemis drives the moon chariot across the sky at night, a role she received when Selene, the original moon deity, faded.
"I'm going to kill you."
"W-wait, let me explain! There was a mistake!" I pleaded, instantly letting go of her butt and teleporting behind her. "My lady, I didn't mean—"
"Didn't mean what?" Artemis growled, a silver bow appearing on her body instantly as she pulled out two knives. Where the hell did she even pull those out of? "You will taste my blade, boy."
I yelped, pulling out my blade just in the nick of time. Her knives clanged off Riptide's bronze blade, but she was relentless. Artemis followed up her initial flurry with a monstrous wave of concussive force.
I raised a wall of water in front of me, but it did little.
Freshwater exploded into my mouth, and the ring slammed into me, shooting me across the lake like a pebble fired out of a cannon.
I stopped skipping a moment or two later, but the moon goddess was unbelievably fast- before I could even blink, Artemis was on me again, her knife shooting toward me in a downward slash. It whizzed through the air.
I briefly used [Time Dilation].
My foot twitched, and the lake beneath her churned into whitewater, a translucent hand erupting out of it and grabbing the still-naked Artemis. Time resumed, and the hand hefted her into the air, pulling her away from me.
Zeus, I wish she'd put some clothes on.
It was one thing to be fighting a goddess…and it was completely another thing to be fighting a naked one. Her body was flawless. Plus, all of that…jiggling…made it hard to focus.
"Lady Artemis, there's been some sort of mistake," I repeated, making sure to keep my eyes on hers. "I was hunting a snake, you see, and it was on you—"
Artemis exploded in a flash of silver light, evaporating the watery hand. My instincts screamed at me, and I sank under the murky water, just as Artemis' knife stabbed through where I'd been standing a moment later.
She was gunning to kill me. It seemed like talking wasn't going to help at all, and I'd have to do everything in my power to just survive. Okay, Percy, play time's over. Pull out the big guns.
My legs tingled. The water coalesced around my fist in glittery armor. Hestia's power burned through my gut, and green fire formed around the edge of the armor, hissing angrily in the lake.
I shot out of the water.
Death's Leap (Level 9):
TIER 1: Add this move to your fighting arsenal to give your enemies an unpleasant surprise…
Gain knowledge of a nasty attack that warps in and dive-bombs the enemy from a distance. Add in elemental flair at your own risk!
Base DMG: (200 x STR)
Elemental DMG: (100 x STR) + (100 x WIS)
MP cost: 250 MP!
TIER 2: Gain the ability to teleport between markers placed within a certain radius of your body!
MP cost: 100 MP for every yard!
I teleported twice, feinting a frontal assault, and then smashing my fist into her with a Death's Leap!
(200 x 68) + (100 x 68) + (100 x 33) = 23,700!
Artemis skidded backward, the raw skin under her midriff raw and bubbling. She gave me a sneer, "Is that it, boy? You will feel pain much greater than that for touching me!"
We met in the middle with another exchange of blades, sparks flying off of each impact. She jumped over one of my slashes and dove toward me. The water grabbed my ankles and pulled me under.
I reappeared underneath her, blasting her face with a torrent of superheated water.
"You're beginning to annoy me," Artemis said, spitting out some moss. The water dripped down her body.
"I could say the same," I muttered under my breath.
She shot forward again. The water around her exploded into spikes, but unlike Triton, she didn't have the power to control water. The spikes skewered her shoulders and collarbone for a moment, but then she shot through anyway.
Artemis ducked under my slash, her dagger cutting through my cloth and nicking my lower stomach. The water healed the cut instantly, and I pressed back on her.
"Look, I know you want to kill me and everything," I said, grunting in exertion as Riptide flashed left and right, deflecting her blows. "But can you please put a shirt on?"
Artemis scowled. Her eyes turned even angrier, as if my comment on her state of undress was the worst insult she'd ever faced. "Shut up, and die!"
The water propelled me toward her. I raised my sword hand, ready to smash the hilt into her throat with my full force. I'd done this before, once, or twice. Hitting a god in the throat was a great reset button- it let you get your breath back while they floundered around.
She got closer…and closer…
Here's the first moment I realized something was wrong.
About halfway to Artemis, the water stopped listening to me. The water ceased its propulsion of me. I felt my body jerk forward, and flip. As I lost my footing, my punch turned into more of a slap, and the water flipped me around again. A tendril of the lake jutted out, wrapping around my arm, and forcing my hand forward.
I slapped Artemis' butt with the same amount of force I'd meant to punch her throat with- everything I had.
Artemis' cry was somewhere between a scream of embarrassment and pain…and a moan.
"You…you…." Artemis's throat erupted in a throaty growl. I hate to admit it, even now, but seeing her animalistic rage, well…it was kind of hot. I looked back at her butt.
Oh, Zeus. I could see my handprint on there.
"Wait- you need to listen—"
"I'm done listening!" Artemis roared. She flashed forward before I could even react, and this time, I wouldn't be able to block.
The sun flared. The area around us got so bright, I had to close my eyes. I heard the water surge again, and Artemis yelped.
I felt a soft pair of lips smash into my own, and Artemis' momentum crashed into me, pushing my back onto the sand.
"I told you there was something up," I said petulantly, with Artemis still on my chest, my hands around her waist.
Her face was flushed golden. She scrambled to her feet. A silver tunic appeared on her chest as she screamed, "Apollo!"
A golden flash illuminated the lake. Apollo appeared in the air above us, guffawing as tears ran down his face, "Oh, god, you should've seen yourself, Arty. Zeus, that was priceless. Thanks, homie."
The water next to him exploded, and the droplets stuck together, coalescing, and forming into a watery outline. The outline gradually transformed into Triton, who was also laughing his heart out. "Oh…oh sweet Neptune! Did you see the look on his face when he smacked her ass?"
Apollo grabbed Triton's shoulder for stability as another fit of laughter wracked his body. "Oh…a-and when she kissed him! I thought they were both going to explode!"
"Triton," I said, my grip tightening on Riptide. "Is there…is there something you want to tell me about the snake I was hunting?"
Apollo raised his hand. "Snake, at your service. You've got moves, kid. That bowling ball thing hurt."
"The boy was right?" Artemis growled, still flushing golden. She looked back at me, a bit miffed.
"Heh, surprise!" Apollo said, throwing his hands out. "See, Triton and I thought it would be funny if his training trip, well, took a turn."
"Funny?" Artemis repeated, growing even angrier. She turned to me, still a bit embarrassed. "Boy, would you care to…"
I unstrapped Malice, green fire burning the tip already. "It would be my pleasure."
Apollo and Triton looked at each other, and then back to the two of us. "Ah…uh…mercy?"
Artemis and I shot forward, "All out of mercy."