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FIC: The Final Sacrifice, chpt 34

Title: The Final Sacrifice (Daughter of Wisdom 5)
Author: shiiki
Rating: PG-13
Characters/Pairings: Annabeth Chase/Percy Jackson, Luke Castellan, Thalia Grace, Charles Beckendorf/Silena Beauregard, Clarisse La Rue, Michael Yew, OCs, multiple others
Fandom: Percy Jackson
Word Count: WIP, estimated 100K+ (3336 chapters planned)

Summary: The war on Olympus is heating up, and Annabeth Chase is right in the thick of it. Bad enough that she's gearing up for battle while wrestling with the emotional turmoil over two of her dearest friends that is turning her heart inside out. She doesn't need more mysterious glimpses about the Great Prophecy and how it connects to her own history. But in order to understand what lies in her future, Annabeth has to dig into the past. What she finds will shape her choices … and change the course of the final battle. An alternate PoV retelling of The Last Olympian. Part 5 of the Daughter of Wisdom series.

In this chapter
Chapter Title: I Get An Irresistible Job Offer
Rating: PG
Characters: Annabeth Chase, Percy Jackson, Athena, Grover Underwood, Zeus, Thalia Grace, Poseidon, Tyson, Mr D, Nico di Angelo, Olympians
Word Count: 2,282

Chapter Summary: The Olympian Council hands out a bunch of rewards.

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The throne room was packed when I arrived. All twelve Olympians were in session, plus Hades. The gallery was full of minor gods and goddesses, nymphs and satyrs, and Poseidon's entire entourage of Cyclopes, who stood with their heads scraping the enchanted ceiling. Through a small gap in the crowd, I saw Hestia at her hearth, which was glowing brighter than a brilliant sunset.

There were demigods in attendance as well: Clarisse, unfrozen and looking simultaneously stunned and apprehensive to be sitting at her father's right hand. (I didn't blame her; sparks flew from Ares's hands as he appropriated a rusty spear as a nail file.) Nico di Angelo also perched at the foot of his dad's makeshift throne, but he looked a lot happier about it. I didn't think I'd ever seen him grinning that broadly.

And of course, there was Percy, standing with Grover at the end of the Cyclops parade.

I went straight to him. 'I miss much?'

His lips quirked. 'No one's planning to kill us, so far.' He was probably thinking of the last Olympian Council we'd been to.

I returned his wry smile. 'First time today.'

A bubble of helpless laughter escaped his mouth. Hera the Humourless glared at us.

Zeus announced his gratitude to his brothers (though he sounded like he was choking on it). He turned to us. 'Which leaves us only the matter of thanking our young demigod heroes, who defended Olympus so well.' He glanced down. 'Even if there were a few dents in my throne.'

Percy rolled his eyes. I shook my head, smiling, and punched him softly in the arm. And then, daringly, I left my hand there. He didn't seem to mind.

'Thalia, my daughter,' Zeus called.

Thalia swung herself forward on her crutches. I was again reminded vividly of the last Olympian Council we'd attended—the one in which Thalia had accepted Artemis's offer to lead the Hunt.

'You have fought bravely and been instrumental in holding the city against enemy forces. Right up to that unfortunate, ah ...' He glanced at his wife. I was pleased to see that Hera didn't dare to meet his eyes.

'Never mind,' Zeus said. 'I will do what I can to help you rebuild your band of Hunters.'

I had no idea how Zeus would manage this. The image of him hanging out in middle schools scouting for teenage girls was downright creepy. Thalia went red and bowed as low as she could without toppling forward.

Artemis stood and held out her hands to Thalia. She was much more effusive in her praise. She even bullied Hades into accepting all the fallen Hunters into Elysium. I couldn't help wondering about Luke. Had he made it there in the end?

Tyson came next, receiving Zeus's personal commendation and an official appointment as general of the Cyclops army. None of these seemed to thrill Tyson as much as Zeus's promise to provide him with a new stick.

Mr D got up next and called for Grover. He went white, chewing nervously on his sleeves. Percy and I had to push him forward.

Mr D gave him a long-suffering sigh. 'Oh, stop chewing your shirt. Honestly, I'm not going to blast you.' He recited the formalities in a bored tone, finishing by nominating Grover to Leneus's newly-vacated spot on the Council of Cloven Elders.

Grover's eyes went wide. He swayed on the spot and promptly passed out. A bevy of nymphs rushed forward to carry him out. Percy and I exchanged a grin. No satyr deserved this honour more than Grover, Pan's own Chosen One.

Then Athena called my name, and all other thoughts evaporated from my head. In front of the entire assembly of gods, she called me, 'My own daughter.' Those three words were a greater reward than any honour she could have bestowed upon me.

Percy beamed at me. I gave his arm a little squeeze before going to kneel before my mother.

'You, my daughter, have exceeded all expectations. You have used your wits, your strength, and your courage to defend this city and our seat of power.' She spread her hands. 'It has come to our attention that Olympus is ... well, trashed.'

The damage that had been sustained in the battle was extensive. I winced, remembering the exploded temples and statues we'd passed when we chased Luke here. The gods could have repaired it magically, as they'd done with their own thrones, but ...

An enigmatic smile played on Athena's lips. 'The gods feel that the city could be improved. We will take this as an opportunity. And you, my daughter, will design these improvements.'

Her words knocked the wind from my lungs. It took me a few seconds to find my voice. 'My—my lady?'

'You are an architect, are you not? You have studied the techniques of Daedalus himself. Who better to redesign Olympus, and make it a monument that will last for another aeon?'

I had to pinch myself to be sure I wasn't dreaming. 'You—you mean ... I can design whatever I want?'

'As your heart desires. Make us a city for the ages.'

I take it back. Her words of endearment were not the greatest reward she could bestow.

The other gods immediately chimed in with requests. I barely heard them. My head was flooded with every idea that had ever crossed my mind: all the fantasies I'd dreamt, sketches I'd jotted down.

The first time I'd visited Olympus, I'd been awed at its majesty. Yet there had been this tiny voice that had whispered, how would I do it better? I'd quashed it, terrified at my own presumptuousness in critiquing the eternal city—the arrogance of believing I could do better than the gods. But now ...

'Rise, my daughter,' Athena said. 'Official architect of Olympus.'

Percy's eyes shone with congratulations. 'Way to go.'

My mouth opened and closed soundlessly. 'I—I'll have to start planning,' I said breathlessly. Drafting paper, pencils ... I was going to need a whole new stock of supplies.

Then the boom of Poseidon's voice called out the one name that could cut into my ecstasy of planning: 'PERCY JACKSON!'

It was obvious that the most important assignation was yet to come. The throne room was so silent, Percy's footsteps had a resounding echo as he made his way to kneel at the front of the room.

Poseidon bade him to rise. 'A great hero must be rewarded. Is there anyone who would deny that my son is deserving?'

I would have defied any god who dissented. None of them did.

Zeus nodded. 'The council agrees. Percy Jackson, you will have one gift from the gods.'

It was such a loaded statement. 'Any gift?'

'I know what you will ask,' Zeus said. 'The greatest gift of all.' He rubbed his chin. 'Yes, if you want it, it shall be yours.'

I had the briefest moment to wonder what sort of gift this could be, that had been withheld for centuries. Then Zeus's offer crushed the air from my lungs.

'Perseus Jackson, if you wish it, you shall be made a god. Immortal. Undying.'

I could not hear what Zeus said next. That one word rang in my head like a death knell, louder than the preceding silence had been.

Immortal.

With everything that had transpired in the last few hours, I had not thought about the curse of Achilles. It came crashing back down on me now. Percy's body was already moulded into god-like invulnerability, all but for a single, mortal point. He wouldn't need that anchor any more. Zeus was offering to finish the transformation.

Percy, a god.

No: the god, Perseus.

Two winters ago, we had watched Thalia make a similar choice in the very same spot where Percy now stood. I had given her my blessing to make the decision that felt right to her. But I could not find it in me to do the same for Percy.

If he accepted Zeus's gift, he would stay fifteen forever—no, the rising sun threw a bloody glow over the ceiling of the throne room, reminding me that we'd reached the eighteenth of August. Percy's sixteenth birthday had dawned just as the Great Prophecy had predicted.

His final birthday, if he so chose. A single choice shall end his days—yet another twisted meaning to the prophecy line that had haunted me for so long.

Was that the curse of Achilles? The eventual loss of one's mortality to the seductive power of invincibility?

Even if he survived now for all eternity, he would not be my Percy, with the unfailing loyalty that had captured my heart. What had Thalia said? The gods were incapable of loyalty. Their very permanence impeded fidelity.

With a jolt that left my skin tingling, I realised that permanent did not mean steadfast.

I'd told Percy that I hated for things to be temporary. But ... this was the gift and the curse of being mortal. Sometimes things went away, but they could always come back. And sometimes things ended, but something more beautiful could start. Temporary didn't always mean loss.

My heart was splintering into a million pieces. Everything I still had to say to him, every misunderstanding I should have cleared up, all the things that should have been possible now that we had survived ...

Percy turned. His gaze fell on me. For an infinite second, the Spirit of Hope danced in my chest.

But I dropped my eyes. Zeus was right—this was not a gift lightly given. I could not hold Percy back, much as I selfishly wanted to plead for him to stay with me. If he wanted this ...

I could not look at him. That was the best I could do.

The word started up my heart again. My skin tingled the way it had when I'd touched his Achilles spot. Was it just me, or was the same spot on the small of my back sending sparks up my spine?

'No?' Zeus cupped his ear, like he was sure he hadn't heard right. I wasn't even sure I had heard right. 'You are turning down our gift?'

'I'm honoured and everything, don't get me wrong.' Percy was still looking in my direction. 'It's just ... I've got a lot of life to live. I'd hate to peak in my sophomore year.'

My heart was a balloon, swelling, rising up, up, up, right out of my chest. Could he be saying—had he chosen ... because of me?

I finally dared to look up. He was staring at me.

A tiny squeak escaped me. I pressed my hands quickly over my mouth, but no one was paying any attention to me. The gods were all staring at Percy, their expressions ranging from bewilderment to outrage.

But Percy wasn't done. In the upheaval of Zeus's offer, I had forgotten that the king of the gods had offered Percy a gift of his choosing.

He asked for recognition—but not for himself. 'All the children ... of all the gods,' he said.

It was Luke's dying wish. Given the opportunity to receive anything he wanted in the world—fame, riches, godhood, for Olympus's sake—Percy had chosen to honour the final request of his enemy. Or maybe the man who had once been his friend.

I had thought my heart was already full to bursting when Percy had turned down immortality. I was wrong.

Could I possibly love him any more than I did in this moment?

He extracted a promise on the Styx: no more unclaimed, amnesty for the minor gods and peaceful Titans. Acceptance for the children of Hades. (Nico's head shot up; he stared at Percy with a worshipful expression. I guess his grudge was well and truly over.)

'And no more pact of the Big Three,' Percy said firmly. 'That didn't work anyway. You've got to stop trying to get rid of powerful demigods.'

A sharp look passed between Aphrodite and Hephaestus. Maybe they were thinking of Silena and Beckendorf.

'I hold you to your oath—all of you,' Percy said.

It was really something, to see a bunch of all-powerful deities squirming in their seats before him like children who'd just been told off. And in a way, they had been told off.

'The boy is correct,' Athena said, fair as always in her acknowledgement of the failings of the gods and their hand in the war. Next to her, Artemis nodded, though many of the others still looked sulky.

'Percy Jackson.' She fixed him with a cold stare. 'I have had my doubts about you, but perhaps ...' Her gaze softened as it drifted across me. 'Perhaps I was mistaken.'

I heard the double meaning in her words. On the surface, she was affirming his request.

To me, she was giving us her blessing.

The council's vote carried. Not that they had much choice, having already promised on the River Styx.

Percy ran his hand through his hair, unsure what to do now that he'd just schooled the entire Olympian Council. Then his father called to the Cyclopes. They made a double line along the U-shape of the thrones, an honour guard fit for a god.

'All hail, Perseus Jackson, hero of Olympus,' said Tyson, newly-appointed Cyclops general, his eyes misty with pride. 'And my big brother!'

Halfway down the room, Percy stopped and held out his hand to me. I took it. The Cyclopes knelt as we passed. Behind them, even the gods were standing.

Hand in hand, we left the throne room of Olympus as heroes.



Chapter 35
Tags: the final sacrifice
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