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Nico di Angelo and the Quest to Save the Stupid Idiots

Chapter Text

If it was so scary and surreal, Nico might have laughed.

Here he was, fighting side by side with Percy Jackson - Percy Jackson - against ancient Greek monsters in the middle of Manhattan.

Normally, this would have made Nico ecstatic, but given the situation they were in, well, happy feelings were definitely not appropriate. Besides, it didn’t matter how good Nico could show Percy he could fight or how easily Nico commanded armies of dead soldiers. Percy didn’t care anymore.

Ever since Annabeth had died, all Percy did was fight and fight and fight some more. There was no shortage of monsters for him to fight.

Honestly, Nico had no idea how it even happened.

Something had happened on Olympus. After Kronos had thrown up the barrier, Percy along with Annabeth, Grover, and Thalia had followed the Titan lord to Mount Olympus. The only one to come down had been Percy. Annabeth, Grover, and Thalia were gone.

Percy had crawled out of the elevator with the aid of the few injured demigods and hunters that had been up on Olympus.

Will Solace, a son of Apollo, had been among the group as well as his sister Lydia. They did their best to patch Percy up, but it was a rough job and even with the massive amount of painkillers and ambrosia in his system, Percy looked worse for the wear.

Now, it was the few lone survivors that had been pushed back and down the streets of Manhattan for the past hour.

Phoebe, a hunter of Artemis who had stepped up to fill Thalia’s position as Lieutenant, was there along with three other hunters. Clarisse La Rue and Chris Rodriguez, while late to the fight, were still alive and fighting just as hard. There were a few other demigods, but honestly, Nico didn’t even know their names.

All around them, monsters circled and closed in. This would probably be the end for all of them.

The Titans had won the war. Typhon would be here any minute and the gods were already weak from fighting him.

Nico shouted defiantly as he called on hundreds of dead soldiers to fight for him.

A hyperborean giant turned it’s icy breath on them.


The IM shimmered in front of Nico. He didn’t get very good reception in the Underworld, but it was decent enough for him to hear Percy’s message, even if Percy’s image was a little fuzzy.

“Nico, we’re headed to Manhattan,” Percy said. “I… I know you said you don’t think you belong at Camp, but the Titans are going to attack Olympus and everyone at Camp is going to fight them. The gods are busy with Typhon, but, well, there’s about fifty or sixty of us demigods.”

“Of course I’ll be there,” Nico said, kind of insulted that Percy thought he might skip out on them. “I’ll meet you at the Empire State Building.”

Percy’s smile made his heart stop. “Great! Good. I’ll see you there, Nico.” He ended the call.

Maybe Nico agreed to help because it was Percy asking. No, that was probably the most likely reason.

Not like it mattered. Percy wouldn’t know anything even if the answer was staring him in the face. Nico had been on the Labyrinth quest last year. Percy had been totally oblivious to Annabeth and Rachel fighting for Percy’s attention.

Nico shook his head. He glanced at his bedroom door and wondered if he should tell Hades what was going on.

Nah, he decided. What would Hades care if Nico went out to risk his life? Bianca could have done it better anyway.


Nico’s eyes flew open. He coughed and sputtered.

“Nico, what happened?” Percy’s voice asked. “Can you talk?”

Nico nodded weakly. “Never tried to summon so many before. I—I’ll be fine.”

Someone poured nectar in his mouth and he swallowed it gratefully. He blinked as the people around him came into focus. Percy and Annabeth stared down at him worriedly.

“Am… am I dead?” he asked.

Annabeth gave a nervous laugh. “No. It was a little worrying for a few seconds, but you’re fine. Or, you will be fine once you have time to heal up.”

It didn’t make sense. Annabeth was dead. And… was he at Camp Half-Blood?

Nico didn’t say anything for a while. Then his eyes locked onto someone behind Percy and Annabeth.

“Daedalus,” he croaked.

“Yes, my boy,” Daedalus said. “I made a very bad mistake. I came to correct it.” He had a few scratches that were bleeding golden oil, but he looked fine other than that.

Still, this did little to ease Nico’s nerves. Daedalus, like Annabeth, had died.

“I found the Hundred-Handed One as I came through the maze,” Daedalus explained while Nico had his internal crisis. “It seems he had the same idea, to come help, but he was lost. And so we fell in together. We both came to make amends.”

“Yay!” Tyson jumped up and down. “Briares! I knew you would come!”

“I did not know,” the Hundred-Handed One said. “But you reminded me who I am, Cyclops. You are the hero.”

Tyson blushed, but Percy patted him on the back. “I knew that a long time ago,” Percy said. “But, Daedalus…the Titan army is still down there. Even without the string, they’ll be back. They’ll find a way sooner or later, with Kronos leading them.”

Daedalus sheathed his sword. “You are right. As long as the Labyrinth is here, your enemies can use it. Which is why the Labyrinth cannot continue.”

Annabeth stared at him. “But you said the Labyrinth is tied to your life force! As long as you’re alive—”

“Yes, my young architect,” Daedalus agreed. “When I die, the Labyrinth will die as well. And so I have a present for you.”

He slung a leather satchel off his back, unzipped it, and produced a sleek silver laptop computer—one of the ones in the workshop. On the lid was the blue symbol ∆.

“My work is here,” he said. “It’s all I managed to save from the fire. Notes on projects I never started. Some of my favorite designs. I couldn’t develop these over the last few millennia. I did not dare reveal my work to the mortal world. But perhaps you will find it interesting.”

He handed the computer to Annabeth, who stared at it like it was solid gold. “You’re giving me this? But this is priceless! This is worth…I don’t even know how much!”

“Small compensation for the way I have acted,” Daedalus said. “You were right, Annabeth, about children of Athena. We should be wise, and I was not. Someday you will be a greater architect than I ever was. Take my ideas and improve them. It is the least I can do before I pass on.”

“Whoa,” Percy said.

Nico agreed. They needed to slow down and give him time to process what had happened.

Maybe it had all been a dream? A very vivid dream caused by exhaustion fighting the Titan army in the Labyrinth.

Okay, not the likeliest possibility, but it was the only one Nico could think of.

“Pass on?” Percy continued. “But you can’t just kill yourself. That’s wrong.”

Daedalus shook his head. “Not as wrong as hiding from my crimes for two thousand years. Genius does not excuse evil, Percy. My time has come. I must face my punishment.”

“You won’t get a fair trial,” Annabeth said. “The spirit of Minos sits in judgment—”

“I will take what comes,” he said. “And trust in the justice of the Underworld, such as it is. That is all we can do, isn’t it?” He looked straight at Nico.

Nico’s face darkened. “Yes,” he said.

“Will you take my soul for ransom, then?” Daedalus asked. “You could use it to reclaim your sister.”

“No,” Nico said in a daze. “I will help you release your spirit. But Bianca has passed. She must stay where she is.”

Or should he? After all, this is what choice he had made in the dream, and look how well that life turned out.

Daedalus nodded. “Well done, son of Hades. You are becoming wise.” Then he turned toward Percy. “One last favor, Percy Jackson. I cannot leave Mrs. O’Leary alone. And she has no desire to return to the Underworld. Will you care for her?” 

“Yeah. Of course I will.”

“Then I am ready to see my son…and Perdix,” Daedalus said. “I must tell them how sorry I am.”

Annabeth had tears in her eyes.

Daedalus turned toward Nico, who drew his sword after a moment of hesitation.

“Your time is long since come,” he said. “Be released and rest.”

A smile of relief spread across Daedalus’s face. He froze like a statue. His skin turned transparent, revealing the bronze gears and machinery whirring inside his body. Then the statue turned to gray ash and disintegrated.

Mrs. O’Leary howled. Percy patted her head, trying to comfort her as best he could. The earth rumbled—an earthquake that could probably be felt in every major city across the country—as the ancient Labyrinth collapsed. Somewhere the remains of the Titan’s strike force had been buried.

“Come on,” Percy said. “We have work to do.”


Nico followed the motions of the rest of the day as if in a trance. He went to the funerals for the fallen campers, and though he was tempted to volunteer himself to perform the funeral rites, the whole day had been one strange experience after another and he wasn’t even sure if the rites in the dream were the actual rites he would have to perform.

Speaking of funeral rites, there was something he had to do. At least check and make sure of it anyway. But that would have to wait until later.


The demigods of Camp Half-Blood spent the next day treating the wounded, which was almost everybody. The satyrs and dryads worked to repair the damage to the woods.

Nico almost stopped in the infirmary to see how Will and Lydia were doing. If they even existed that was.

The dream about this future Battle of Manhattan was so unimaginably vivid and real. It wasn’t like a normal demigod dream, that was for sure. When Will and Lydia had gone missing - what was it? Hours, maybe minutes after the Titans started pushing them back from Olympus - Nico had felt awful. Among those of them left, the two children of Apollo had been some of the youngest left. Will himself was Nico’s age. Lydia was younger.

Percy came by to drag him off to a head counselor meeting. Nico was met with confused looks and uncertain murmurs.

Chiron gave Nico a slight smile. “Welcome back, Mr. di Angelo.”

Nico didn’t say anything, but he offered a tight smile in response.

“Who?” Michael Yew snapped. His eyes were red, presumably from crying about his brother Lee’s death.

Percy looked upset. “This is Nico,” he said, gesturing to Nico. “Nico di Angelo? He was at Camp last winter.”

This was the same as the dream. Nico glanced down at his… dark clothing choice. Black, grey, skulls, death. Okay. Maybe he could see why no one remembered him. Not that he was complaining. He didn’t really want to be remembered as that naive excitable little boy from December.

Travis Stoll frowned. “Wait. That kid that went missing?”

He’d also rather not be known as ‘that kid that went missing’ either.

Chiron cleared his throat. “Perhaps introductions are in order.”

The head counselors went around saying their names. Of course, Nico already knew all of them. Katie Gardner from Demeter, Charles Beckendorf from Hephaestus, Silena Beauregard from Aphrodite, Percy, Annabeth, Pollux from Dionysus, Michael from Apollo, Clarisse, and Travis and Connor from Hermes.

“Sorry,” Katie said, looking sheepish. “Um, I don’t want to be rude, but… why is Nico here? I… I mean, I’m grateful for his help however he did that and all, but… he’s not a head counselor.” She frowned. “Who is his godly parent anyway? I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“My father is Hades,” Nico said flatly.

Percy winced. “Yeah. So I brought him because like Katie said, he helped and you know, technically he would he head counselor if there was a Hades cabin. But also because he was with Annabeth and I when we…” he trailed off with a guilty look at Annabeth.

“What Percy’s trying to say is I saw Kronos come back,” Nico said, not really caring if Annabeth didn’t want to talk about this because of how much she liked Luke or whatever stupid reason she had for avoiding the subject. Just because she didn’t want to touch it, and Percy was willing to use a ten foot pole, didn’t mean Nico would reach out and grab it with his bare hands.

“Wait,” Michael interrupted. He gave Nico a look that Nico couldn’t really identify. “Your dad is Hades? Hades broke the oath too?” He snorted. “Of course he did. Well, this is just great.”

Nico wanted to say that his father hadn’t actually broken the oath, but he had a feeling that would only make things much, much worse.

“Look,” Nico said bluntly, “Kronos is back. He’s in Luke’s body. Percy turns sixteen next year. I don’t know how to defeat him, but I am going to help. So can we talk about the actual important issue instead of who my father is?”


After dinner, Nico wander off towards the woods. When he came to a stop, he squeezed his eyes shut and called, “Bianca?”

When he opened his eyes, Bianca’s ghost was shimmering in front of him.

“Nico?” Bianca asked worriedly. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I…” Nico took a breath. “I wanted to say goodbye and… and ask you about something.”

Bianca took on a curious look. “What about?”

“When you… when you died, did you have any strange deja vu moments?”

Bianca gave him a strange look. “No. Why? What’s this have to do with anything?”

Nico shook his head. “Nothing. I just… I don’t know. After I used my powers to summon an army of the dead, I guess I passed out and had this dream. But it doesn’t matter.” He looked into his sister’s eyes. “Goodbye, Bianca.”

Bianca offered Nico a warm smile. “Goodbye, Nico. Remember what I said about our fatal flaw. I… I love you.” She reached out to touch his face, but she was dissolving.

Nico turned to see Percy standing there. “What do you want?” he asked with a glare.

Percy held up his hands in defense. “Sorry. We missed you at dinner. You could’ve sat with me.”

Hades. No.

“No,” Nico snapped.

“Nico, you can’t miss every meal. If you don’t want to stay with Hermes, maybe they can make an exception and put you in the Big House. They’ve got plenty of rooms.”

“I’m not staying, Percy.”

“But…you can’t just leave. It’s too dangerous out there for a lone halfblood. You need to train.”

“I train with the dead,” he said flatly. “This camp isn’t for me. There’s a reason they didn’t put a cabin to Hades here, Percy. He’s not welcome, any more than he is on Olympus. I don’t belong. I have to go.”

I have to get away from you , Nico said mentally.

Percy looked like he wanted to argue. Nico kind of wished he would.

“When will you go?” Percy asked.

“Now,” Nico said, kicking at the forest floor. “I have some things to take care of. But I meant what I said. I will help you guys fight Kronos.”

“Well, I hope we don’t have to be enemies.”

Nico lowered his gaze. “Sorry. I should’ve listened to you about Bianca.”

“By the way…” Percy fished something out of his pocket. “Tyson found this while we were cleaning the cabin. Thought you might want it.” He held out a lead figurine of Hades—the little Mythomagic statue Nico had abandoned when he fled camp. The only thing he had left in the world of Bianca.

Nico took it hesitantly. He slipped it into his pocket. “Thanks.”

Then he turned and set off into the woods. When he was far enough away from Percy, Nico stepped into the shadows and disappeared.

Chapter Text

For the past few weeks, Nico had been wandering around Louisiana. New Orleans to be specific. The whole area had been giving off a massive aura of death.

He wouldn’t go so far as to say he was here only because of the aura, but, well, he kinda was. In his dream, Nico had found him by accident only to be sucked away by Persephone when they were finally getting somewhere. It was December 23, and Nico might actually attack his step mother if she decided to interrupt this meeting.

So here he was. In New Orleans wandering from graveyard to graveyard.

“What are you doing?” someone asked.

Nico turned around to see a boy about sixteen years old staring at him. Like Nico, this boy was dressed in black and had dark hair with very pale skin.

“What are you doing?” the boy repeated.

Nico shrugged. “Looking for you apparently. There’s an aura of death here. I was curious.”

The boy tilted his head. “You can sense it? What are you?”

“I’m a demigod,” Nico said. “Son of Hades.”

The boy’s mouth parted in surprise. “Hades? You’re his son?”

“And you are…?”

“Anubis,” the boy finally said after a slight hesitation. “Did your father send you here?”

Nico shook his head. “I was hoping you could help me with something. And this is going to sound really crazy, but you’re the closest thing to a friend I’ve ever had.”

Anubis looked confused. “I’ve never met you before.”

“But you’re the god of death and funerals, right?” Nico asked. “Egyptian god that is.”

Anubis looked wary now. “You should explain yourself now. Hades won’t like it if something happens to one of his children and the paperwork will be a killer, but-”

“I died,” Nico blurted out.

Anubis blinked. “I’m sorry. You… died?”

The last thing Nico remembered was the icy breath of the hyperborean giant, but since that could potentially kill him, he would have to assume that yes, he had in fact died in that messed up dream.

However, given that Anubis turned out to be real, that messed up dream might not have actually been a dream in the first place.

Which was why he had come to seek out Anubis in the first place. If anyone could help him, it would be a god of death. Hades was so very far from the ideal option, and sitting down with Thanatos to discuss the possibility of him supposed to have being dead was not something Nico was quite comfortable with.

“A few months ago at the end of June,” Nico began, “I was involved in a…” he paused, trying to think of the right word. “Well, there was an attack on myself and other demigods. I raised an army of the dead and because of that, I passed out. I thought it was just a dream, but now… I don’t think it was. Some things stay the same, most things actually.”

Anubis held up a hand. “Explain?”

“August 15, 16, 17, and 18, 2009,” Nico said, biting his lip.

“That’s a whole year away,” Anubis pointed out.

“And those are the days the Greeks spent fighting Kronos and his army,” Nico said. “We lost on the last day. That’s the day I died and ended up back at that fight I told you about.”

Anubis thought for a moment. “You want to know if you should be dead? Based on what you told me, well, demigods have very lucid dreams, right? Perhaps it was just that. A dream warning you of what will happen.” He titled his head. “Perhaps you are favored by Hemsut. The Fates for you.”

“Unlikely,” Nico grimaced.

“I’ll look into it,” Anubis said dubiously. “But I think you’re looking too far into this.”

“Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve,” Nico said suddenly. “I’ll be here. In the morning at least. If you have any information then, find me. After that… I don’t know. I’ll probably be in the Underworld.”

“I’ll arrange a Greeco-Egyptian mixup,” Anubis sighed. “I’ll have to visit Hades to sort that out. And paperwork.” He gave Nico a pointed look. “You’ll owe me two.”

“Deal,” Nico agreed.


Anubis hadn’t made contact since. By the time Nico got Percy’s Iris Message, he had resigned himself to his fate.

“Nico, we’re headed to Manhattan,” Percy said. “I… I know you said you don’t think you belong at Camp, but the Titans are going to attack Olympus and everyone at Camp is going to fight them. The gods are busy with Typhon, but, well, there’s about fifty or sixty of us demigods.”

“Of course I’ll be there,” Nico said dutifully. “I’ll meet you at the Empire State Building.”

Percy’s smile made his heart stop. “Great! Good. I’ll see you there, Nico.” He ended the call.

Nico sighed. It didn’t matter if he was only going for Percy. Percy didn’t care. He wouldn’t care once Annabeth died.

He got up to leave and hesitated. His father. His father could help them. Maybe he should ask…?

No. It would take days to convince his father to fight. Nico didn’t have days. And Percy needed Nico now.


Will shoved Percy at Nico. “Get him out of here!” the son of Apollo yelled.

Nico cast a look up at the top of the Empire State Building. He swallowed and shouldered Percy.

Chris came up to shoulder Percy’s other side. Percy’s face was bloodied and his expression was frozen in shock.

“What happened?” Chris shouted over the fighting.

Nico’s eyes flicked back towards Olympus. “I don’t know,” he lied.


Percy, Nico, Chris, Clarisse, Phoebe, and the other three hunters (whose names were Aria, Mary, and Sandra) fought side by side as the Titan army pushed them back down the streets of Manhattan.

Terrified mortals screamed and ran to get away from whatever sight the Mist was making them see. Maybe the Mist wasn’t making them see anything. Maybe Hecate didn’t care anymore.

It didn’t matter.

All around them, monsters circled and closed in. This would be the end for all of them.

The Titans had won the war. Typhon would be here any minute and the gods were already weak from fighting him.

Nico shouted defiantly as he called on hundreds of dead soldiers to fight for him.

A hyperborean giant turned it’s icy breath on them.


Nico’s eyes flew open. He coughed and sputtered.

“Nico, what happened?” Percy’s voice asked. “Can you talk?”

What the Hades?

Nico tried to sit up, only to be pushed back down.

“You summoned a lot of the dead,” Percy said, face swimming into view above Nico.

Annabeth gave him a worried look. “It was like shadows were steaming off you or something. Here, drink this,” she said, offering him a cup of nectar.

Nico gave her an odd look, but he drained the cup.

“What. Is Going. On?” he asked through gritted teeth.

Annabeth and Percy looked confused. “What do you mean?”

“I mean-” Nico said, cutting off as he saw someone step behind Percy and Annabeth. “Daedalus.”

“Yes, my boy,” Daedalus said. “I made a very bad mistake. I came to correct it.” He had a few scratches that were bleeding golden oil, but he looked fine other than that.

That irritated Nico.

“I found the Hundred-Handed One as I came through the maze,” Daedalus explained. “It seems he had the same idea, to come help, but he was lost. And so we fell in together. We both came to make amends.”

“Yay!” Tyson jumped up and down. “Briares! I knew you would come!”

“I did not know,” the Hundred-Handed One said. “But you reminded me who I am, Cyclops. You are the hero.”

Tyson blushed, but Percy patted him on the back. “I knew that a long time ago,” Percy said. “But, Daedalus…the Titan army is still down there. Even without the string, they’ll be back. They’ll find a way sooner or later, with Kronos leading them.”

Daedalus sheathed his sword. “You are right. As long as the Labyrinth is here, your enemies can use it. Which is why the Labyrinth cannot continue.”

Annabeth stared at him. “But you said the Labyrinth is tied to your life force! As long as you’re alive—”

“Yeah, he dies,” Nico interrupted flatly.

Annabeth looked insulted by Nico’s carefree tone.

Daedalus looked quite disgruntled too. “Ah, yes,” he said slowly, turning back towards Annabeth. “When I die, the Labyrinth will die as well. And so I have a present for you.”

He slung a leather satchel off his back, unzipped it, and produced a sleek silver laptop computer—one of the ones in the workshop. On the lid was the blue symbol ∆.

“My work is here,” he said. “It’s all I managed to save from the fire. Notes on projects I never started. Some of my favorite designs. I couldn’t develop these over the last few millennia. I did not dare reveal my work to the mortal world. But perhaps you will find it interesting.”

He handed the computer to Annabeth, who stared at it like it was solid gold. “You’re giving me this? But this is priceless! This is worth…I don’t even know how much!”

“Small compensation for the way I have acted,” Daedalus said. “You were right, Annabeth, about children of Athena. We should be wise, and I was not. Someday you will be a greater architect than I ever was. Take my ideas and improve them. It is the least I can do before I pass on.”

“Whoa,” Percy said. “Pass on?” Percy continued. “But you can’t just kill yourself. That’s wrong.” He cast a glance in Nico’s direction warily. “And… and you can’t ask any of us to kill you either,” he added.

Nico was very tempted to just run Daedalus through right here and now, but he was still pretty weak that he didn’t think he’d be able to shadow travel far enough away to be safe from all the other demigods with sharp weapons who would undoubtedly hunt him down.

Daedalus shook his head. “Not as wrong as hiding from my crimes for two thousand years. Genius does not excuse evil, Percy. My time has come. I must face my punishment.”

“You won’t get a fair trial,” Annabeth said. “The spirit of Minos sits in judgment—”

“I will take what comes,” he said. “And trust in the justice of the Underworld, such as it is. That is all we can do, isn’t it?” He looked straight at Nico.

Nico’s face darkened. “Yes,” he said.

If only he was allowed to face his own judgement. But it seems he kept coming back to this moment.

“Will you take my soul for ransom, then?” Daedalus asked. “You could use it to reclaim your sister.”

Nico hesitated.

Twice now he had turned down the chance to bring back Bianca. Twice now he had died and come back to this moment.

“Nico?” Percy asked hesitantly. “Bianca… she’s at peace. Bringing someone back from the dead? It’s not natural. Look at Daedalus. He’s lived far past his time.”

“She’s my sister,” Nico protested weakly. “I could bring her back. No killing. Just a fair exchange.”

Maybe Bianca could help in the final battle. Maybe she was the key in all of this.

Nico straightened up. “She’s my sister,” he said firmly. “If you’re offering, then I have to try.”

Daedalus looked disappointed, but resigned to Nico’s choice. “So be it, but heed my words. Everything comes with a price. When you face your own judgement, Nico di Angelo, this choice will reflect on you. Whether it be good or bad.” He turned to Percy. “One last favor, Percy Jackson. I cannot leave Mrs. O’Leary alone. And she has no desire to return to the Underworld. Will you care for her?” 

“Yeah. Of course I will.”

“Then, Mr. di Angelo, shall we make the trade?”

Nico swallowed. “Yes.”

Annabeth had tears in her eyes. She sniffed and wiped her face. “I… I can’t be here. I’m sorry.” She ran off towards her siblings.

Daedalus turned toward Nico, who drew his sword after a moment of hesitation.

“Your time is long since come,” he said. “You have cheated death. Now your life will restore another’s life. I offer the soul of Daedalus in exchange for Bianca di Angelo.”

Daedalus froze like a statue. His skin turned transparent, revealing the bronze gears and machinery whirring inside his body. Then the statue turned to gray ash and disintegrated. A burst of light temporarily blinded Nico.

When the light subsided, Bianca di Angelo was standing before him. Flesh and all.

“Bianca!” Nico gasped.

Percy gapped at her. “Bianca?”

Bianca looked between Percy and Nico and then down at her feet to see the mechanical body. She stared at it in horror. Her face snapped up to look at Nico, the same horrified expression.

“Nico, what have you done?” she asked.

In the back of his mind, Nico dimly registered Mrs. O’Leary howling or the earthquake that was the Labyrinth collapsing. All he could think about was the look on his sisters face.

It wasn’t joy at seeing her little brother. Or thankfulness that she was alive again.

It was fear, disgust, and horror.

Ignoring the fact that he was way too weak to be doing this, Nico took off towards the trees and disappeared into the shadows.

Chapter Text

“You Hades kids are more trouble than you’re worth,” a familiar voice said.

Nico groaned and opened his eyes. A headstone was staring at him. Well, he was staring at a headstone, but if headstones had eyes, that headstone was definitely staring at him.

Anubis was casually leaning over the top of the headstone and looking down at Nico.

“What do you want?” Nico grumbled. “You’re not helpful in the slightest.”

“Since we’ve never met before, I’m going to assume this is what your dad has told you,” Anubis said. “But I’d like to inform you that I am in a rather helpful mood. You crashed into me a few hours ago. Came barreling right out of the shadows. Unconscious.” He gave Nico an irritated look.

“I’m not apologizing for that,” Nico said flatly.

Anubis rolled his eyes. “Obviously. Now, I have a few questions. Why do you smell like the undead and what are you doing in my graveyard?”

“I didn’t try to end up here,” Nico snapped. “It was just the first place I thought of. I’m still mad at you. You were supposed to help me figure this out, but you didn’t say a word. You never contacted me. At all.” He sighed and rubbed his face. “And I smell like the undead because I just traded the life of someone who cheated death to bring my sister back.”

Anubis reared back. “You what?”

“I brought my sister back,” Nico repeated.

“Why would you do that?” Anubis shouted. “You of all people should know that we can’t tamper with the natural order! Your father is Hades! Do you know how much trouble you’re going to be in when it comes time to judge your life?”

“Yes,” Nico sighed. “But it’s my sister. So I really don’t care. And honestly, at this rate, I don’t think I’ll ever get to be judged.”

Anubis tilted his head. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means that unfortunately, you’re the closest thing to a friend I have and the only person who I thought could help me, but you couldn’t even do that!” Nico exploded. “And I thought that maybe bringing my sister back could change the outcome of this, but so far all I’ve accomplished is making my sister hate me more than she already does and-” he took a deep breath. “Look. A few hours ago, before I came here, I was with a bunch of other Greek demigods and we fought these monsters.”

Anubis nodded. “Okay.”

“I passed out because I summoned a bunch of the dead,” Nico continued. “But between passing out and waking up I had this dream or something. It’s happened twice now. Next year on August 15, 16, 17, and 18, there’s going to be a big fight with Kronos and the Titans. The Titans win and we all die. We as in me and the other Greeks. That’s when I wake up after passing out.” He held up a hand. “I know you’re going to ask about the demigod dreams and ask if I’m sure this isn’t one. It’s not. No dream is that vivid. I thought it was a dream too, but… I don’t think it is anymore.”

“So you want my opinion?” Anubis asked. He thought for a moment. “Well, I’ve never heard of anything like this before. Like you said, I was going to ask if this could be one of your demigod dreams, but you might be right. This is more than a dream. Perhaps you should talk to your sleep god or dream god. Hypnos and Morpheus, right?”

“I would, but they’re supporting the Titans,” Nico sighed. “Well, Morpheus is. I don’t know about Hypnos. If I had to guess, I would say he’s staying neutral.”

“Perhaps you are favored by the… the Fates,” Anubis suggested. “Personally, I’ve never known Hemsut to favor anyone, but your Fates may be different.”

“You said that last time,” Nico said. “But I don’t think that’s likely.”

Anubis shrugged. “Well, I can look into it, but I doubt I’ll find anything.”

“You also said that last time,” Nico frowned. “And then you never got back to me.”

“When was this?” Anubis asked.

“Around Christmas,” Nico answered. “You said you would arrange a Greeco-Egyptian mixup to get me the information, but you never showed.”

Anubis looked worried. “You came to me at Christmas and I never got back to you by August? Perhaps something happened in the Egyptian world. The Demon Days...” He glanced around. “When you need to speak to me, come here. Wait an hour or so and if I don’t show, leave a note. After Christmas passes, come find me. Perhaps you must learn about the going ons of my world.”


In December, Nico had decided to stop by and leave a note for Anubis. He wouldn’t stay to chat, but he would leave a note letting the god know he would likely be back in the next few days.

Suddenly he felt the shadows wrap around him. He groaned and dropped the note as he tumbled through the shadow.

Nico landed in the grass at two pairs of feet. “Ow!” he muttered.

He stood up, brushing the dirt off his jacket.

“Nico?” Percy asked.

Thalia cursed, glancing at the girl next to her.

“Hello, Nico,” Bianca greeted coldly. “Long time.”

Percy either didn’t get the tension or he was trying to break it. “Where have you been? We’ve been worried ever since you ran off.”

“I’ve been around,” Nico said flatly. “I was in a New Orleans’ graveyard before I ended up here. In New York? Why am I in New York?”

Bianca crossed her arms. “What were you doing in a graveyard?”

“Throwing a party with some skeletons,” Nico said sarcastically.

For the first time, Nico took in what Bianca was wearing. Silver jacket, just like Thalia’s. He frowned.

“I see you joined the Hunters. Again.”

Bianca looked away. “Yeah, well, most people at Camp think you’re evil and half of them don’t trust me because I’m supposed to be dead. I mean, I don’t know how you thought this would go, Nico.”

“And clearly you don’t think very highly of me since you assumed I was off resurrecting more dead people,” Nico shrugged. “I really don’t care, Bianca. You’re alive. That’s all I care about.”

“Well, you’ve ruined my second life, so thanks for that,” Bianca said shortly.

Percy coughed loudly. “Can we focus on the fact that someone brought all four children of the Big Three together? Probably for a reason?”

Thalia took a sharp breath. “The prophecy. You don't think Kronos...” She didn't finish the thought.

Nico sighed and waited for Persephone to open the ground under their feet.


Nico had been tempted to refuse to help find the sword, but given that the sword had the key of Hades embedded in the hilt, they couldn’t exactly let the Titans have it.

It wasn’t until they heard the BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! of something large tumbling down a hill that Nico had the idea. Why hadn't he thought about asking him before?

“Is that who I think it is?” Thalia asked.

“Afraid so,” Nico said. “The number one expert on cheating death.”

“I think that honor belongs to you now,” Bianca muttered.

Nico glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes. “Whatever.” He led the others to the top of the hill.

The dude on the other side was not pretty and he was not happy. He was hopping around, cursing and kicking a boulder that was twice as big as he was. Sisyphus.

“I won’t,” he screamed, “No, no, no!”

Then he launched into a string of cuss words in several different languages. Nico only recognized the ones in English, Greek, and Egyptian (he’d asked Anubis to teach him some). Sisyphus started to walk away from the boulder, but after ten feet he lurched backward like some invisible force had pulled him. He staggered back to the boulder and started banging his head against it.

“All right,” he screamed, “all right, curse you.” He rubbed his head and muttered some more cuss words. “But this is the last time, do you hear me?”

Nico waved them over. “Come on while he’s between attempts.” As he walked down the hill he called out, “Sisyphus!”

Sisyphus looked up in surprise. Then he scrambled behind his rock. “Oh no. You're not fooling me with those disguises. I know you're the Furies.”

“We're not the Furies,” Percy said. “We just want a talk.”

“Go away,” he shrieked. “Flowers won't make it better. It's too late to apologize.”

“Look,” Thalia said, “we just want...”

“Blah blah blah,” he yelled, “I'm not listening.”

They played tag with him around the boulder until finally Thalia caught the old man by his hair.

“Stop it!” he wailed. “I have rocks to move. Rocks to move.”

“I'll move your rock,” Thalia offered. “Just shut up and talk to my friends.”

Sisyphus stopped fighting. “You? You move my rock?”

“It's better than looking at you.” Thalia glanced at Percy, “Be quick about it.” Then she shrugged Sisyphus towards Percy, Bianca, and Nico. She put her shoulder against the rock and started pushing it very slowly uphill.

Sisyphus scowled at Percy distrustfully. He pinched his nose. “Ow!” Percy said.

“So you're really not a Fury,” he said in amazement. “What's the flower for?” 

“We're looking for someone,” Bianca said. “The flower is helping us find him.”

“Persephone!” He spit in the dust. “That's one of her tracking devices, isn't it?”

“Cut to the chase,” Nico said sharply. “You’ve cheated death before, Sisy. We know someone came here to ask you how to escape the Underworld. You can either tell us now, or we can find a way to make you tell us.”

“Nico!” Bianca said, looking scandalized.

Sisyphus’s grin faded. Under what Nico assumed was a harsh glare coming from himself, Sisyphus wilted like Persephone’s flowers in the Underworld.

“Okay, okay,” he said. “I told him to talk to Melinoe. She always has a way out.”

Nico relaxed his glare. “Thank you. I have one more question. When you were… sent back to life, did you experience anything strange? Deja vu maybe?”

“No,” Sisyphus said, giving Nico a strange look. “Have you been brought back from the dead?”

“Just curious,” Nico said. He glanced at Percy and Bianca. “Let’s go.”

“Incoming!” Thalia shouted.

They looked up and saw that the boulder was bouncing straight towards them. Nico jumped one way, Percy and Bianca jumped the other.

Sisyphus yelled, “Nooo!”, as the thing ploughed into him. Somehow, he braced himself and stopped it before it could run him over.

“Take it again!” He wailed. “Please, I can't hold it.”

“Not again,” Thalia gasped, “you are on your own.”

“Melinoe's cave is this way.” Nico said, ignoring Sisyphus.


“So who is this Melinoe?” Percy asked.

“Long story,” Nico said. “Long very scary story.”

Bianca pursed her lips. “Nico-”

“Weapons!” Thalia said, dropping to a crouch.

Percy drew Riptide and set the potted carnation down. Nico drew his sword and stood back to back with Percy. Thalia and Bianca immediately flew back to back with arrows notched.

“What is it?” Percy whispered.

A ring of a dozen daimones materialized around them. They were part humanoid female, part bat. Their faces were pug-nosed and furry, with fangs and bulging eyes. Matted gray fur and piecemeal armor covered their bodies. They had shriveled arms with claws for hands, leathery wings that sprouted from their backs, and stubby bowed legs.

“Keres,” Nico said.

“What?” Percy asked.

“Battlefield spirits. They feed on violent death.”

“Oh, wonderful,” Thalia said.

“Get back!” Nico ordered the daimones. “The son of Hades commands you.”

“And the daughter of Hades,” Bianca piped up.

The Keres hissed. Their mouths foamed. They glanced apprehensively at the demigod’s weapons, but the Keres weren't impressed by Nico or Bianca.

“Soon Hades will be defeated,” one of them snarled, “Our new master shall give us free reign.”

Bianca blinked, “New master?”

The lead daimon lunged. Nico was expecting that, but he wasn’t expecting it to go straight for Bianca. He shoved his sister to the side.

Pain flared in his back as the daimon’s claws ripped through his skin.

“Nico!” Bianca shrieked, but her voice was too far away.

Nico cursed. “Godsda-”

Chapter Text

Nico’s eyes flew open. He coughed and sputtered.

“Nico, what happened?” Percy’s voice asked. “Can you talk?”

Nico let out a guttural scream.

Percy and Annabeth fell backwards in alarm.

“Oh my gods, Nico, are you okay?” Annabeth asked with wide eyes.

“I’m fine,” Nico said through gritted teeth. He yanked the container of nectar out of Percy’s hands and drank it all in one gulp.

“Slow down!” Percy yelped, taking the container back. “You… you scared us for a minute.”

“Did I?” Nico grumbled.

“You summoned a lot of the dead,” Percy said.

Annabeth nodded. “It was like shadows were steaming off you or something.”

Nico focused on the man behind the two. “Daedalus.”

“Yes, my boy,” Daedalus said. “I made a very bad mistake. I came to correct it.” He had a few scratches that were bleeding golden oil, but he looked fine other than that.

Nico really wanted to make his injuries much more severe. It probably wouldn’t do much to improve his situation, but it would make him feel a lot better.

“I found the Hundred-Handed One as I came through the maze,” Daedalus explained. “It seems he had the same idea, to come help, but he was lost. And so we fell in together. We both came to make amends.”

“Yay!” Tyson jumped up and down. “Briares! I knew you would come!”

“I did not know,” the Hundred-Handed One said. “But you reminded me who I am, Cyclops. You are the hero.”

Tyson blushed, but Percy patted him on the back. “I knew that a long time ago,” Percy said. “But, Daedalus…the Titan army is still down there. Even without the string, they’ll be back. They’ll find a way sooner or later, with Kronos leading them.”

Daedalus sheathed his sword. “You are right. As long as the Labyrinth is here, your enemies can use it. Which is why the Labyrinth cannot continue.”

Annabeth stared at him. “But you said the Labyrinth is tied to your life force! As long as you’re alive—”

“Yes, my young architect,” Daedalus agreed. “When I die, the Labyrinth will die as well. And so I have a present for you.”

He slung a leather satchel off his back, unzipped it, and produced a sleek silver laptop computer—one of the ones in the workshop. On the lid was the blue symbol ∆.

“My work is here,” he said. “It’s all I managed to save from the fire. Notes on projects I never started. Some of my favorite designs. I couldn’t develop these over the last few millennia. I did not dare reveal my work to the mortal world. But perhaps you will find it interesting.”

He handed the computer to Annabeth, who stared at it like it was solid gold. “You’re giving me this? But this is priceless! This is worth…I don’t even know how much!”

“Small compensation for the way I have acted,” Daedalus said. “You were right, Annabeth, about children of Athena. We should be wise, and I was not. Someday you will be a greater architect than I ever was. Take my ideas and improve them. It is the least I can do before I pass on.”

“Whoa,” Percy said. “Pass on? But you can’t just kill yourself. That’s wrong.”

Daedalus shook his head. “Not as wrong as hiding from my crimes for two thousand years. Genius does not excuse evil, Percy. My time has come. I must face my punishment.”

“You won’t get a fair trial,” Annabeth said. “The spirit of Minos sits in judgment—”

“I will take what comes,” he said. “And trust in the justice of the Underworld, such as it is. That is all we can do, isn’t it?” He looked straight at Nico.

Nico’s face darkened. “Yes,” he said.

And I hope you rot , he added silently.

“Will you take my soul for ransom, then?” Daedalus asked. “You could use it to reclaim your sister.”

Nico hesitated.

He could bring Bianca back. Again. He hadn’t actually made it to the final battle with her yet, so he had no way of knowing if that would get him out of the mess he was currently in. Plus, given the first shot at bringing her back, he kind of knew what to expect. Maybe Bianca wouldn’t hate him this time.

“Nico?” Percy asked hesitantly. “Bianca… she’s at peace. Bringing someone back from the dead? It’s not natural. Look at Daedalus. He’s lived far past his time.”

Not natural? Not natural? What wasn’t natural was the fact that Nico kept reliving a year of his life over and over.

At this point, Nico was willing to try anything to help fix this.

Nico straightened up. “She’s my sister,” he said firmly. “If you’re offering, then I have to try.”

Daedalus looked disappointed, but resigned to Nico’s choice. “So be it, but heed my words. Everything comes with a price. When you face your own judgement, Nico di Angelo, this choice will reflect on you. Whether it be good or bad.” He turned to Percy. “One last favor, Percy Jackson. I cannot leave Mrs. O’Leary alone. And she has no desire to return to the Underworld. Will you care for her?” 

“Yeah. Of course I will.”

“Then, Mr. di Angelo, shall we make the trade?”

Nico swallowed. “Yes.”

Annabeth had tears in her eyes. She sniffed and wiped her face. “I… I can’t be here. I’m sorry.” She ran off towards her siblings.

Daedalus turned toward Nico, who drew his sword after a moment of hesitation.

“Your time is long since come,” he said. “You have cheated death. Now your life will restore another’s life. I offer the soul of Daedalus in exchange for Bianca di Angelo.”

Daedalus froze like a statue. His skin turned transparent, revealing the bronze gears and machinery whirring inside his body. Then the statue turned to gray ash and disintegrated. A burst of light temporarily blinded Nico.

When the light subsided, Bianca di Angelo was standing before him. Flesh and all.

“Hi, Bianca,” Nico said quietly.

Percy gapped at her. “Bianca?”

Bianca looked between Percy and Nico and then down at her feet to see the mechanical body. She stared at it in horror. Her face snapped up to look at Nico, the same horrified expression.

“Nico, what have you done?” she asked.

Nico ignored Mrs. O’Leary howling and the earthquake that was the Labyrinth collapsing.

“I brought you back,” he said. “Daedalus for you.”

“Nico,” Bianca began.

“Don’t tell me I was wrong,” Nico said, holding up a hand. “I’m desperate for another way out of this, and if this works, then I don’t care about the consequences.”

Bianca looked confused. “What are you talking about?”

Nico took a breath and shook his head. “Doesn’t matter. You’re back now.”


Percy brought Nico and Bianca to the counselor meeting. They were met with confused looks and uncertain murmurs. Some of the counselors looked at Bianca like they were trying to figure out who she was. Which made sense. She had been at a counselor meeting before to discuss Zoe’s prophecy.

Chiron gave the di Angelos a slight smile. “Welcome back, Mr. di Angelo. And it’s good to see you doing well, Ms. di Angelo.”

“Yeah, it’s great,” Bianca muttered.

Nico didn’t say anything, but he offered a tight smile in response.

“I’m sorry,” Michael Yew snapped. “But who are they?” His eyes were red, presumably from crying about his brother Lee’s death.

Percy frowned. “This is Nico,” he said, gesturing to Nico. “Nico di Angelo? He was at Camp last winter. And Bianca di Angelo… she was a Hunter of Artemis. She went on the quest last winter?”

Travis Stoll frowned. “Um, five people went on that quest, Percy. You, Thalia, Grover, and two Hunters. Both Hunters died.”

“We never actually found Bianca’s body,” Percy snapped.

Bianca flinched.

“Sorry,” Percy said guiltily.

“It’s okay,” Bianca assured him. “I just… I’d rather not talk about that.”

Chiron cleared his throat. “Perhaps introductions are in order.”

The head counselors went around saying their names. Percy, Katie, Clarisse, Annabeth, Michael, Beckendorf, Silena, Travis and Connor, and Pollux. Nico knew them all. This was getting really repetitive.

“Sorry,” Katie said, looking sheepish. “Um, I don’t want to be rude, but… why is Nico here? And Bianca too? I… I mean, I’m grateful for Nico’s help however he did that and all, and Bianca if she helped, but… they’re not head counselors.” She frowned. “Who is their godly parent anyway? I’ve never seen anything like what Nico did.”

“Hades,” Nico said.

Percy winced. “Yeah. So I brought them because like Katie said, Nico helped and you know, technically he would be head counselor if there was a Hades cabin. Bianca’s still a Hunter so she represents Cabin 8. But also… Nico was with Annabeth and I when we…” he trailed off with a guilty look at Annabeth.

“What Percy’s trying to say is I saw Kronos come back,” Nico said bluntly.

“Wait,” Michael interrupted. He gave Nico a look that Nico couldn’t really identify. “Your dad is Hades? Hades broke the oath too?” He snorted. “Of course he did. Well, this is just great.”

“Look,” Nico snapped, “Kronos is back. He’s in Luke’s body. Percy turns sixteen next year. I don’t know how to defeat him, but I am going to help. So can we talk about the actual important issue instead of who my father is?”

No one else said anything about Hades the rest of the meeting. Although, curious and suspicious looks were thrown Bianca’s way.


“I’m leaving,” Nico told Bianca after dinner.

Bianca looked down. “Me too. I, um, well, Percy said he’d contact Thalia so I can figure out what I am now. I… I don’t think I’m a Hunter anymore or at least I don’t have the blessing anymore, but… I’d like to still be one. So…” she trailed off.

Nico swallowed. “Oh. I guess I figured you would just stay here.”

“I would,” Bianca said, “but… it’s pretty obvious that children of Hades aren’t welcome here. Not by most of the campers anyway. Percy and Annabeth are nice, and I don’t think they mind us, but even they’re wary around me.” She looked away. “Because of what you did.”

“I’m not sorry,” Nico said.

Bianca squeezed his shoulder. “I know. And I’m really happy that I can see you and touch you for real. I missed that. But no one wants us here right now. I had a home with the Hunters, Nico, and I really felt like I could be who I’m supposed to be with them.”

“I get it,” Nico said. “You never looked happier or more relaxed than when you were with them. You’ve always had to look out for me, and you never got to stop being my mom. I just wished you hadn’t left me the first chance you got. Maybe if you could have taken a little bit of time to decide.”

“I’m sorry,” Bianca said quietly. She cleared her throat. “So. Um, where are you planning on going?”

“New Orleans,” Nico said instantly. “I have to talk to a friend.”

Bianca gave him a strange look. “You have a friend in New Orleans?”

Nico scowled. “Friend is a really loose term to describe him.”

Chapter Text

“I’m going to make this simple and just cut right to the chase,” Nico sighed. “You’re Anubis. Egyptian god of funerals. I’m Nico di Angelo, son of Hades. We are… on friendly terms where I come from.”

Anubis raised an eyebrow. “Where you come from?”

“Please bear with me because I don’t think I can take another long explanation,” Nico said through gritted teeth. He took a deep breath. “Okay. Here’s my story.”

He proceeded to explain the Battle of the Labyrinth up through the final battle and how he woke up, back at the Battle of the Labyrinth. He told Anubis how he relived that same year over again and how when he woke up at the Battle of the Labyrinth, he chose to exchange Daedalus and his sister. Then he said how he ended up only making it to the quest he, his sister, Percy, and Thalia had gone on to find his father’s sword before he died, again ending up back at the Battle of the Labyrinth. This time though, he managed to keep himself and Bianca on good terms.

“And that’s my story,” Nico said, utterly exhausted.

“You brought your sister back?” Anubis repeated. “Twice?”

Nico glared at him. “You did hear the rest of the story, right? Because that is my more pressing concern right now. I’m hoping Bianca can get me out of this loop or whatever. To Hades with the consequences of bringing her back. I just want this to end.”

Anubis frowned. “You’re right. This isn’t a dream. What you’re describing is way too…” he waved a hand. “I don’t know the right word, I don’t think there is a word to describe this.” He sighed. “If you want my opinion, I think you should talk to Hypnos or Morpheus to be sure, but I think they’d both agree this isn’t a dream.”

“Well, Morpheus is backing the Titans,” Nico told Anubis. “I don’t know about Hypnos though. I’d rather not risk it.”

“Good idea,” Anubis said. “You can’t let the Titans get their hands on this information.” He tapped his chin. “Perhaps Hemsut favors you. The Fates, I mean.”

“I’ve heard all your theories already,” Nico pointed out. “I don’t think the Fates have favored me.”

Anubis shrugged. “Well, I can look into it, but I doubt I’ll find anything.”

“You’ve said that already,” Nico sighed. “The last time. And the time before that.” He left out a breath. “Look. Can you please just look into this. The last time I talked to you, we decided that if I needed to speak to you, I would come here to this cemetery and wait an hour. If you didn’t show, I would leave you a note.”

Anubis looked impressed. “A good plan. Did you make it or did I?”

“You,” Nico admitted grudgingly. “Also, I’m pretty sure something happens around Christmas. I’ll come check on you, but just be ready, okay?”

Anubis tilted his head. “You don’t know?”

“If I hadn’t died last time, then I would have known,” Nico snapped. “Sorry my death inconveniences you. But honestly, I think it inconvenienced me more.”

Anubis had the decency to look apologetic. “Right. Well. Good. Um, I’ll look around. I guess I’ll see you at Christmas.”


Nico did not die by daimon this time, so on December 28th (well, very, very late at night on December 27th and very, very early in the morning on December 28th), he arrived in the New Orleans graveyard to see what was going on with Anubis and the Egyptian world.

The last thing he expected was to crash a funeral and a date.

The funeral was loud and obnoxious with the jazz band parading down the streets with a black hearse following close behind. Anubis was not partaking in said funeral.

Instead, Nico saw the god of funerals standing next to a blonde girl. Their voices carried over to where Nico was staying in the shadows.

“-escort the empty hearse away from the cemetery,” Anubis was telling the girl. “Very Egyptian, this ritual.”

“How do you know so much?” the girl asked.

“I’m the god of funerals. I know every death custom in the world—how to die properly, how to prepare the body and soul for the afterlife. I live for death.”

“You must be fun at parties,” the girl said. “Why have you brought me here?”

Nico was wondering that too. It seemed like an odd place to bring a date.

“To talk.” Anubis spread his hands, and the nearest tomb rumbled. White linen wrappings shot out of a crack in the wall. The cloth weaved itself into the form of a bench which Anubis sat down on.

“I don’t like Horus,” Anubis said, gesturing for the girl to sit. “He’s loud and arrogant and thinks he’s better than me. But Isis always treated me like a son.”

Nico racked his brain for who Horus and Isis were. Egyptian gods certainly, but which ones… he had no idea.

“You’re not my son,” the girl said, crossing her arms. “And I told you I’m not Isis.”

Not Isis? Nico stared at the girl. He knew the Egyptian gods needed hosts, but since Anubis could take a human form without a host in the graveyard, Nico had never actually seen a god in a host before. Unless Kronos counted.

Anubis tilted his head. “No. You don’t act like a godling. You remind me of your mother.”

“You’ve met my mother?” the girl asked incredulously.

“I—I know all the dead, but each spirit’s path is secret. I should not have spoken.”

“You can’t just say something like that and then clam up! Is she in the Egyptian afterlife? Did she pass your little Hall of Judgment?”

Nico backed away from the scene and moved towards a section of the graveyard that was further away. He felt awkward intruding on Anubis and the girl. Although, a small part of him wondered if this was why Anubis hadn’t contacted him the first time. He met a girl.

Nico waited a while before heading back towards the spot he had seen Anubis and the girl.

“Oh, very funny!” the girl yelled. A boy and baboon was with her now and they watched her as she shouted profanities at Anubis who was nowhere to be found.

“What’s going on?” the boy demanded. “Where are we?”

“He’s horrible!” the girl growled. “Self-important, sarcastic, incredibly hot, insufferable—”

“Agh!” the baboon complained.

“Yeah,” the boy agreed. “Did you get the feather or not?”

The girl held out her hand, and a glowing white feather floated above her fingers. She closed her fist and the feather disappeared.

“Whoa,” the boy said. “But what about Anubis? How did you—”

“Let’s find Bast and get out of here,” the girl interrupted. “We’ve got work to do.” She marched out of the graveyard leaving her companions no choice but to follow.

When he was sure they were gone, Nico stepped out of the shadows.

“Ah, how much of that did you see?”

Nico whirled around to see a sheepish looking Anubis. “Not much,” he said. “I didn’t want to spy on your date or whatever.”

“That was not a date,” Anubis said flatly. “Sadie Kane is the single most annoying girl I’ve ever met. Have I told you about the opening of the mouth ritual? For her, I would create a closing of the mouth ritual. She talks too much.”

“Oh my gods,” Nico muttered. “You met a girl and that’s why you never got back to me about the information. You’ve got to be kidding me.” He shook his head. “And can gods even have relationships with mortals? I mean, unless you’re planning on doing what the Greeks do.”

Anubis glared at him. “We have much more important things to discuss. And I have very little time. The Demon Days are upon us.”

“Let’s pretend for a second that I don’t know what the Demon Days are,” Nico interrupted.

“The Demon Days,” Anubis said sharply, “are the last five days of the year. December 27, 28, 29, 30, and 31. Egyptians consider these days bad luck.”

“Okay,” Nico nodded. “But… why?”

Anubis sighed. “Originally, a year was only three-hundred sixty days long,” he explained. “Ra heard a prophecy that said a child of Nut and Geb would overthrow him, so he forbade them from having any child during the three-hundred sixty days of the year.”

“So they added five days?”

Anubis shrugged. “Kind of. Nut gambled with the moon god, Khonsu, and won enough moonlight from him to create five more days. On each of those five days, Nut gave birth to a child. Osiris on the 27th, Horus on the 28th, Set on the 29th, Isis on the 30th, and Nephthys on the 31st. The Demon Days.” He was silent for a moment. “I know why I was not able to get back to you the first time. The girl and the boy that were just here… Sadie and Carter Kane. They’re trying to stop Set from destroying the world.”

Nico let out a breath. “Gods. Okay. Do you need help fighting him? Or… or can I do anything?”

“No,” Anubis said, shaking his head. “I… I would get in trouble if I got involved. Giving Sadie Kane a feather of truth was enough involvement as it is.” He cast a nervous look around the graveyard like he was expecting zombies to be spying on them or something. “We should not be talking too often. The pantheons are not to mingle.”

“So make this quick,” Nico said. “Did you find anything that might help?”

“The Greek world is ruled by prophecy,” Anubis began. “That much is fact. As I understand it, there is a major prophecy in play?”

A half-blood of the eldest gods / Shall reach sixteen against all odds, ” Nico recited. “ 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 .”

“Make that prophecy come true and that should fix your problem,” Anubis shrugged. “Easy.”

“Not easy,” Nico grumbled. “Okay. Walk this through with me. Percy Jackson is going to turn sixteen on the final day of the Battle of Manhattan.”

“Battle of Manhattan?”

“That’s what I’m calling it,” Nico said impatiently. “So Percy turns sixteen that day. Against all odds or whatever. Got it. The endless sleep is Morpheus’ enchantment.”

“Then a cursed blade must kill a hero,” Anubis noted.

Nico nodded. “Yeah. That’s Percy. He’s supposed to choose to save or raze Olympus. Either way, it costs him his life.”

He couldn’t help the strange sense of melancholy he felt at the idea of Percy dying.

Anubis gave him a sad look. “This Percy… has he died before? In the previous times, I mean.”

“No,” Nico said, shaking his head. “Every time I… died, it was always Percy, me, Clarisse, Chris, Phoebe, Aria, Mary, and Sandra.” He paused. “But it doesn’t matter. Percy made a choice and whatever it was, it doomed Olympus. Kronos won.” He sighed.

“What choice?” Anubis asked.

“I… I don’t know,” Nico said. “I wasn’t there when he, Annabeth, Thalia, and Grover were confronting…” he trailed off. “That’s it. I have to be there at the end to know what happened. I have to know why Percy chose to raze Olympus.”

Chapter Text

Nico stood next to Thalia as they and Percy and Annabeth stood before Kronos at the base of the Empire State Building.

The Titan army ringed the building, standing maybe twenty feet from the doors. Kronos's vanguard was in the lead: Ethan Nakamura, the dracaena queen in her green armor, and two Hyperboreans.

But Kronos himself stood right in front with his scythe in hand.

The only thing standing in his way was…

"Chiron," Annabeth said, her voice trembling.

The centaur had an arrow notched, aimed straight at Kronos’s face.

“Step aside, little son,” Kronos told Chiron.

Chiron didn’t move. “I’m afraid not,” he said steely.

Nico could feel the Titan lord’s power over them, holding them in place. Next to him, he could see Thalia and the others straining to move.

"Chiron!" Annabeth said. "Look out!"

The dracaena queen became impatient and charged. Chiron's arrow flew straight between her eyes and she vaporized on the spot, her empty armor clattering to the asphalt. Chiron reached for another arrow, but his quiver was empty. He dropped the bow and drew his sword.

Kronos chuckled. He advanced a step, and Chiron's horse-half skittered nervously. His tail flicked back and forth.

"You're a teacher," Kronos sneered. "Not a hero."

"Luke was a hero," Chiron said. "He was a good one, until you corrupted him."

"FOOL!" Kronos's voice shook the city. "You filled his head with empty promises. You said the gods cared about me!"

"Me," Chiron noticed. "You said me."

Nico noticed that too and wondered if maybe Annabeth had been right back in the Labyrinth. If Luke was still in there… was there a chance that he could push Kronos out?

That would be something to look into. Nico made a mental note to ask Anubis how the Egyptian gods merging with mortals worked. Kronos could be doing the same thing.

Chiron struck at Kronos who knocked aside Chiron’s blade and yelled, “BACK!”

A blinding white light exploded between the Titan and the centaur. Chiron flew into the side of the building with such force the wall crumbled and collapsed on top of him.

"No!" Annabeth wailed.

The freezing spell broke. They ran towards their teacher, but there was no sign of him. Thalia and Percy pulled helplessly at the bricks while a ripple of ugly laughter ran through the Titan's army.

"YOU!" Annabeth turned on Luke. "To think that I… that I thought—" She drew her knife.

"Annabeth, don't." Percy tried to take her arm, but she shook him off.

She attacked Kronos, and his smug smile faded. She plunged her knife between the straps of his armor, right at his collar bone. The blade should've sunk into his chest. Instead it bounced off.

Nico blinked in shock. The blade hadn’t even dented Kronos. Not one nick in the Titan’s skin. Not even the gods were impervious to Celestial bronze. How had Kronos managed to do this?

Annabeth doubled over, clutching her arm to her stomach.

Percy yanked her back as Kronos swung his scythe, slicing the air where she'd been standing.

She fought him and screamed, "I HATE you!" Tears streaked the dust on her face.

"I have to fight him," Percy told her.

"It's my fight too, Percy!"

Kronos laughed. "So much spirit. I can see why Luke wanted to spare you. Unfortunately, that won't be possible." He raised his scythe.

Nico closed his eyes and focused on the dead. Immediately, the ground all around them cracked open and hundreds of skeletons climbed out. Nico wanted to drop to the ground and pass out, but he couldn’t. Not yet. He needed to know what happened on Olympus.

“Son of Hades,” Kronos spat. “Do you love death so much you wish to experience it?”

“Nico!” Bianca’s voice called. She rushed to his side and steadied him.

Even more skeletons and undead warriors crawled out of the ground.

“Your death would be great for us,” Bianca said angrily.

Kronos looked furious. "I'm immortal, you fools! I have escaped Tartarus. You have no business here, and no chance to live."

Nico drew his sword. "I don't agree."

Bianca notched an arrow. “I’m with him,” she said, jerking her head at her brother.

"I don't have time for this," Kronos snarled.

He struck the ground with his scythe. A crack spread in both directions, circling the Empire State Building. A wall of force shimmered along the fissure line, separating Kronos's vanguard, Percy, Annabeth, Thalia, Grover, Bianca, and Nico from the bulk of the two armies.

"What's he doing?" Percy muttered.

"Sealing us in," Thalia said. "He's collapsing the magic barriers around Manhattan—cutting off just the building, and us."


Bianca had wanted to remain on the ground to command the army of the dead that she and Nico had summoned. It was a good idea, but Nico had wanted to see if Bianca had any impact on the end result. He’d have volunteered to take her place, but he also needed to see how the final showdown went.

He finally decided that knowing what happened would be more helpful, and he raced off with Percy and the others, leaving Bianca to fight the hordes of monsters.

Nico almost stayed with Thalia when the statue of Hera fell on her, but again, he pressed onward. After all, in a few hours… none of this would even matter.


Kronos stood in the middle of the throne room, his arms wide, staring at the starry ceiling as if taking it all in. His laughter echoed even louder than it had from the pit of Tartarus.

"Finally!" he bellowed. "The Olympian Council—so proud and mighty. Which seat of power shall I destroy first?"

Ethan Nakamura stood to one side, trying to stay out of the way of his master's scythe.

Annabeth, Grover, Nico, and Percy stepped forward into the torchlight. Ethan saw them first.

"My lord," he warned.

Kronos turned and smiled. Annabeth made a painful sound in the back of her throat, like someone had just sucker punched her.

"Shall I destroy you first, Jackson?" Kronos asked. "Is that the choice you will make—to fight me and die instead of bowing down? Prophecies never end well, you know."

"Luke would fight with a sword," Percy said. "But I suppose you don't have his skill."

Kronos sneered. His scythe began to change, until he held a sword with a half-steel, half-Celestial bronze blade. Kronos raised his sword.

“No!” Annabeth yelled.

Kronos came at Percy like a whirlwind.

Nico watched in awe as they fought. The swords were flashes of silver and bronze. Percy’s face was beaded in sweat. Kronos’s face was contorted in anger.

Kronos backed Percy up against the throne of Hephaestus. Gears whirred and then tendrils of electricity shot in all directions. One hit Kronos in the face, arcing down his body and up his sword.

"ARG!" He crumpled to his knees and dropped his sword.

Annabeth ran towards him. “Luke, listen! Stop!”

Kronos flicked his hand. Annabeth flew backward, slamming into the throne of her mother and crumpling to the floor.

"Annabeth!" Percy screamed.

Ethan Nakamura stood between Annabeth and Percy. Grover played his reed pipes and moved towards Annabeth. Grass grew on the floor of the throne room. Tiny roots crept up between the cracks of the marble stones. 

Kronos rose to one knee. His hair smoldered. His face was covered with electrical burns. He reached for his sword.

“Don’t!” Nico shouted.

Ethan’s eye harded. “Why do you side with the gods, son of Hades?”

“Look around you, Ethan,” Percy said. “The end of the world. Is this the reward you want? Do you really want everything destroyed—the good with the bad? Everything?"

Grover was almost to Annabeth now. The grass thickened on the floor. The roots were almost a foot long, like a stubble of whiskers.

"There is no throne to Nemesis," Ethan muttered. "No throne to my mother." He glanced at Nico. “No throne to your father.”

"That's right!" Kronos tried to get up, but stumbled. Above his left ear, a patch of blond hair still smoldered. "Strike them down! They deserve to suffer."

"You said your mom is the goddess of balance," Percy reminded him. "The minor gods deserve better, Ethan, but total destruction isn't balance. Kronos doesn't build. He only destroys."

Ethan looked at the sizzling throne of Hephaestus. Grover's music kept playing, and Ethan swayed to it, as if the song were filling him with nostalgia—a wish to see a beautiful day, to be anywhere but here. His good eye blinked.

Then he charged… but not at Percy or Nico.

While Kronos was still on his knees, Ethan brought down his sword on the Titan lord's neck. It should have killed him instantly, but the blade shattered. Ethan fell back, grasping his stomach. A shard of his own blade had ricocheted and pierced his armor.

Nico stared at the shattered pieces of the blade. What magic had Kronos done to become invincible?

Kronos rose unsteadily, towering over his servant. "Treason," he snarled.

Grover's music kept playing, and grass grew around Ethan's body. Ethan stared at Percy, his face tight with pain.

"Deserve better," he gasped. "If they just… had thrones—"

Kronos stomped his foot, and the floor ruptured around Ethan Nakamura. The son of Nemesis fell through a fissure that went straight through the heart of the mountain—straight into open air.

Nico could pinpoint the exact moment Ethan died.

"So much for him." Kronos picked up his sword. "And now for the rest of you."

Grover was at Annabeth’s side now. He'd stopped playing and was feeding her ambrosia.

Everywhere Kronos stepped, the roots wrapped around his feet, but Grover had stopped his magic too early. The roots weren't thick or strong enough to do much more than annoy the Titan.

Together, Percy and Nico charged at the Titan. Their blades clashed in a shower of sparks. Kronos was stronger than both of them. And he couldn’t be harmed. Nico had to figure out a way around that.

“STOP!” Annabeth came from nowhere.

Kronos whirled to face her and slashed with his sword, but somehow Annabeth caught the strike on her dagger hilt. It was a move only the quickest and most skilled knife fighter could've managed. She stepped in closer for leverage, their blades crossed, and for a moment she stood face-to-face with the Titan lord, holding him at a standstill.

Nico’s heartbeat pounded. This must be the moment Percy lost everything.

“Luke, please!” Annabeth begged. “I know you’re still in there. I know Luke is still here! You have to fight him! Luke, you came to me so I would try and talk you out of this! I know I pushed you away, and I’m sorry! Please, Luke. Please.”

Kronos roared in outrage. "Luke Castellan is dead! His body will burn away as I assume my true form!" Kronos pushed against her, trying to dislodge his blade, but she held him in check, her arms trembling as he forced his sword down toward her neck.

“You’re holding Kronos back even now,” Annabeth said.

"LIES!" Kronos pushed again, and this time Annabeth lost her balance. With his free hand, Kronos struck her face, and she slid backward.

Percy struggled to his feet as Kronos loomed over Annabeth, sword raised.

Blood trickled from the corner of her mouth. She croaked, "Family, Luke. You promised."

Kronos staggered. He stared at the knife in Annabeth’s hand and the blood on her face. “Promise,” he repeated.

Then he gasped like he couldn’t get air. “Annabeth…” But it wasn’t the voice of Kronos. It was someone else. Luke’s voice. He stumbled forward like he couldn't control his own body. "You're bleeding…"

"My knife." Annabeth tried to raise her dagger, but it clattered out of her hand. Her arm was bent at a funny angle. She looked at Percy, imploring, "Percy, please…"

Percy surged forward and scooped up her knife. He knocked the sword out of Luke’s hand, and it spun into the hearth. Luke barely paid attention. He stepped towards Annabeth, but Percy stepped between them.

“Don’t touch her,” he said. He raised Annabeth’s dagger.

“Percy, no!” Nico shouted as Percy swung the blade down on Luke.

The blade shattered like Ethan’s and Kronos let out a roar.

“No,” Annabeth whispered. “Luke… hero… cursed blade… my knife…”

Nico didn’t have time to try and make sense of that. He pulled Percy away from Kronos who was starting to glow a bright, golden light.

“Come on!” Nico yelled.

Percy looked around for Annabeth. “No! No, Nico! Annabeth! ANNABETH! Grover! Wait, Nico,” he screamed as Nico pulled him towards the exit. “Nico, we have to find them!”

“They’re gone!” Nico yelled in Percy’s face. “We’ll die too if we don’t move!”

The light was becoming brighter by the second and if they didn’t leave now, Kronos’s true form would burn them to ash.

Percy allowed Nico to guide him out of the throne room and towards the exit. He put up a fight when they ran past Thalia, still trapped under the statue, but she ordered them to escape and figure out a way to stop Kronos.

Will and Lydia met them by the elevator with a few of the injured. They didn’t know what was going on, but Nico wasted no time pushing them into the elevator.

They rode back down to the ground floor.

To where an icy death was waiting for Nico.

Chapter Text

Nico’s eyes flew open. He coughed and sputtered.

“Nico, what happened?” Percy asked. “Can you talk?”

Back again. Okay. He could do this.

Nico nodded weakly. “Never tried to summon so many before. I—I’ll be fine.”

Or at least he hoped he would be. At this point, if he could just get out of this cursed loop, Nico would throw a party.

Percy and Annabeth helped Nico sit up and gave him more nectar. Nico swallowed in gratefully because he still felt like crap. Whether it was from summoning the dead during the Battle of the Labyrinth or just phantom pain from the Battle of Manhattan, he didn’t know.

Nico blinked trying to organize his thoughts and remember what was going on at the time. He focused on someone behind Percy and Annabeth.

“Daedalus,” he croaked.

“Yes, my boy,” the inventor said. “I made a very bad mistake. I came to correct it.” He had a few scratches that were bleeding golden oil, but he looked fine other than that.

Mrs. O’Leary loomed behind him, licking the wounds on her master’s head so Daedalus’s hair stood up funny. Briares stood next to him, surrounded by a group of awed campers and satyrs. He looked kind of bashful, but he was signing autographs on armor, shields, and T-shirts.

“I found the Hundred-Handed One as I came through the maze,” Daedalus explained. “It seems he had the same idea, to come help, but he was lost. And so we fell in together. We both came to make amends.”

“Yay!” Tyson jumped up and down. “Briares! I knew you would come!”

“I did not know,” the Hundred-Handed One said. “But you reminded me who I am, Cyclops. You are the hero.”

Tyson blushed, but Percy patted him on the back. “I knew that a long time ago,” Percy said. “But, Daedalus…the Titan army is still down there. Even without the string, they’ll be back. They’ll find a way sooner or later, with Kronos leading them.” 

Daedalus sheathed his sword. “You are right. As long as the Labyrinth is here, your enemies can use it. Which is why the Labyrinth cannot continue.”

Annabeth stared at him. “But you said the Labyrinth is tied to your life force! As long as you’re alive—”

“Yes, my young architect,” Daedalus agreed. “When I die, the Labyrinth will die as well. And so I have a present for you.”

He slung a leather satchel off his back, unzipped it, and produced a sleek silver laptop computer—one of the ones in the workshop. On the lid was the blue symbol ∆.

“My work is here,” he said. “It’s all I managed to save from the fire. Notes on projects I never started. Some of my favorite designs. I couldn’t develop these over the last few millennia. I did not dare reveal my work to the mortal world. But perhaps you will find it interesting.”

He handed the computer to Annabeth, who stared at it like it was solid gold. “You’re giving me this? But this is priceless! This is worth… I don’t even know how much!”

“Small compensation for the way I have acted,” Daedalus said. “You were right, Annabeth, about children of Athena. We should be wise, and I was not. Someday you will be a greater architect than I ever was. Take my ideas and improve them. It is the least I can do before I pass on.”

“Whoa,” Percy said. “Pass on? But you can’t just kill yourself. That’s wrong.”

Daedalus shook his head. “Not as wrong as hiding from my crimes for two thousand years. Genius does not excuse evil, Percy. My time has come. I must face my punishment.”

“You won’t get a fair trial,” Annabeth said. “The spirit of Minos sits in judgment—”

“I will take what comes,” he said. “And trust in the justice of the Underworld, such as it is. That is all we can do, isn’t it?” He looked straight at Nico.

Nico’s face darkened. “Yes,” he said.

“Will you take my soul for ransom, then?” Daedalus asked. “You could use it to reclaim your sister.”

He’d already done that twice now. The first time didn’t work out. The second time did. But Bianca was happier in her paradise. She really was in a better place. What kind of brother would he be if he took that from her?

Besides, Bianca didn’t want to return to life.

“No,” Nico said. “I will help you release your spirit. But Bianca has passed. She must stay where she is.”

Daedalus nodded. “Well done, son of Hades. You are becoming wise.” Then he turned toward Percy. “One last favor, Percy Jackson. I cannot leave Mrs. O’Leary alone. And she has no desire to return to the Underworld. Will you care for her?” 

Percy looked at the massive black hound, who whimpered pitifully, still licking Daedalus’s hair. “Yeah. Of course I will,” he said.

“Then I am ready to see my son… and Perdix,” he said. “I must tell them how sorry I am.”

Annabeth had tears in her eyes.

Daedalus turned toward Nico, who drew his sword.

“Your time is long since come,” he said. “Be released and rest.”

A smile of relief spread across Daedalus’s face. He froze like a statue. His skin turned transparent, revealing the bronze gears and machinery whirring inside his body. Then the statue turned to gray ash and disintegrated.

Mrs. O’Leary howled. Percy patted her head, trying to comfort her as best he could. The earth rumbled—an earthquake that could probably be felt in every major city across the country—as the ancient Labyrinth collapsed. Somewhere, the remains of the Titan’s strike force had been buried. Nico could feel it. The mass of deaths radiated from the ground.

“Come on,” Percy said. “We have work to do.”


Nico remained at Camp for the funerals. Lee and Castor… he felt guilty that he couldn’t have done anything about their deaths. They also reminded Nico that he would need to look into funeral rites. As a son of Hades, he thought he ought to know the proper ones.

The demigods of Camp Half-Blood spent the next day treating the wounded, which was almost everybody. The satyrs and dryads worked to repair the damage to the woods.

Eventually, Percy found Nico to drag him off to the counselor meeting. Nico was almost amused by the confused looks and uncertain murmurs.

Chiron gave Nico a slight smile. “Welcome back, Mr. di Angelo.”

Welcome back indeed. Nico didn’t say anything.

“Who?” Michael Yew snapped. His eyes were red, presumably from crying about his brother Lee’s death.

Percy looked upset. “This is Nico,” he said, gesturing to Nico. “Nico di Angelo? He was at Camp last winter.”

The corners of Nico’s mouth twitched. He had been at Camp last winter. At least, he had in the eyes of the head counselors. But the young, innocent, naive boy they remembered was not the boy in dark clothes and skulls they saw before them now. He’d gotten a pretty big wake up call.

Travis Stoll frowned. “Wait. That kid that went missing?”

Chiron cleared his throat. “Perhaps introductions are in order.”

Nico barely bothered to pay attention. He could name the counselors off the top of his head. Percy, Katie, Clarisse, Annabeth, Michael, Beckendorf, Silena, Travis, Connor, Pollux.

“Sorry,” Katie said, looking sheepish. “Um, I don’t want to be rude, but… why is Nico here? I… I mean, I’m grateful for his help however he did that and all, but… he’s not a head counselor.” She frowned. “Who is his godly parent anyway? I’ve never seen anything like it.”

He could avoid it. He really could. But he wasn’t supposed to. And honestly, given everything that’s happened up until now, Nico didn’t really care at the moment.

“My father is Hades,” Nico said flatly.

Percy winced. “Yeah. So I brought him because like Katie said, he helped and you know, technically he would be head counselor if there was a Hades cabin. But also because he was with Annabeth and I when we…” he trailed off with a guilty look at Annabeth.

Nico didn’t really know what Annabeth and Luke’s history was, he assumed Annabeth at least had a crush on Luke, but he was done with Percy dancing around the topic. “What Percy’s trying to say is I saw Kronos come back,” Nico said.

“Wait,” Michael interrupted. He gave Nico a look that Nico couldn’t really identify. “Your dad is Hades? Hades broke the oath too?” He snorted. “Of course he did. Well, this is just great.”

“Look,” Nico said bluntly, “Kronos is back. He’s in Luke’s body. Percy turns sixteen next year. I don’t know how to defeat him, but I am going to help. So can we talk about the actual important issue instead of who my father is?”


After dinner that night, Nico wandered off towards the woods. When he came to a stop, he squeezed his eyes shut and called, “Bianca?”

When he opened his eyes, Bianca’s ghost was shimmering in front of him.

“Nico?” Bianca asked worriedly. “Are you okay?”

“I’m okay,” Nico said quietly. “I… I just wanted to say goodbye. And I promise I won’t try to bring you back. Daedalus, uh, well, I learned my lesson.”

Bianca gave Nico a brilliant smile. “I’m glad. Goodbye, Nico. Remember what I said about our fatal flaw. I… I love you.” She reached out to touch his face, but she was dissolving.

Nico turned to see Percy standing there. “Saying goodbye,” he said hoarsely.

Because this time… this time it would hopefully be for real.

“We missed you at dinner,” Percy said. “You could’ve sat with me.”

Nico was pretty sure Percy was just being nice, but if he had to sit with Percy at dinner… Gods, he didn’t even want to think about that.

“No,” Nico snapped.

“Nico, you can’t miss every meal. If you don’t want to stay with Hermes, maybe they can make an exception and put you in the Big House. They’ve got plenty of rooms.”

“I’m not staying, Percy.”

“But…you can’t just leave. It’s too dangerous out there for a lone halfblood. You need to train.”

“I train with the dead,” he said flatly. “This camp isn’t for me. There’s a reason they didn’t put a cabin to Hades here, Percy. He’s not welcome, any more than he is on Olympus. I don’t belong. I have to go.”

Percy looked like he wanted to argue, but he finally asked, “When will you go?”

“Right away. I’ve got tons of questions. Like who was my mother? Who paid for Bianca and me to go to school? Who was that lawyer guy who got us out of the Lotus Hotel? I know nothing about my past. I need to find out.”

All good questions. Originally, Nico never found out those answers, and then everything with the loop happened and he never got the chance to even think about the answers to those questions.

Of course, he was still going to seek Anubis out. Nico was reluctant to admit that the dog had become really good company. Even if Nico was the only one who remembered all the time spent together.

“Makes sense,” Percy admitted. “But I hope we don’t have to be enemies.”

Nico lowered his gaze. It seemed like a million lifetimes ago to him. All the crap he’d thrown at Percy about Bianca…

“I’m sorry I was a brat,” he said. “I should’ve listened to you about Bianca.”

“By the way…” Percy fished something out of his pocket. “Tyson found this while we were cleaning the cabin. Thought you might want it.” He held out a lead figurine of Hades—the little Mythomagic statue Nico had abandoned when he fled camp.

Nico hesitated. He hadn’t played Mythomagic in what seemed like years to him. Yet, at the sight of the statue, every stat of every god, hero, and monster came floating back.

“I don’t play that game anymore,” Nico said. “It’s for kids.”

“It’s got four thousand attack power,” Percy coaxed.

“Five thousand,” Nico corrected. “But only if your opponent attacks first.”

Percy smiled. “Maybe it’s okay to still be a kid once in a while.” He tossed Nico the statue.

Nico studied it in his palm for a few seconds, then slipped it into his pocket. “Thanks.”

Percy put out his hand. Nico reluctantly shook it.

“I’ve got a lot of things to investigate,” he told Percy. “Some of them…Well, if I learn anything useful, I’ll let you know.”

Percy nodded. “Keep in touch, Nico.”

Nico turned and trudged off into the woods. When he was far enough away from Percy, he stepped into the shadows and let them carry him far, far away.

Chapter Text

“So this is the what time you’ve met me?” Anubis asked curiously.

Nico paused to think. “Um… like the fifth time. Look. I have an idea, but I wanted to run it by you first.”

Anubis looked interested. “Oh? What idea is this?”

Nico exhaled. “So I think Kronos took a swim in the River Styx.”

“The one that made that Greek guy invincible,” Anubis said. “The one with the bad heel.”

“Achilles,” Nico nodded. “Which means that Kronos probably had the curse of Achilles. He has a weak spot somewhere. Percy is supposed to fight Kronos and in all the past times he’s fought Kronos, it hasn’t ended well. But if we were to level the playing field, maybe Percy would stand a chance.”

Anubis nodded slowly. “That’s a good idea. But are you sure it will work?”

“No,” Nico admitted. “But it’s my only plan. Besides, if it goes wrong… I guess I just have to try again.” He looked Anubis in the eyes. “I’m getting desperate.”

Anubis held up his hands. “Fine. Whatever. If you want my advice on this, look into it before you shove this Percy guy into the water. Achilles is the only one who’s done this before, right?”

“Yeah,” Nico nodded. “His mom dipped him in the river. She held him by his heel which is why his heel was the only part of him that wasn’t invincible.” He shrugged. “Well, Percy’s got to agree to this before we do anything. I’m going to run it by him and have him think about it while I look into it more.” He gave the Egyptian god a small smile. “Thanks for all the help. Even if you don’t remember giving it.”

Anubis rolled his eyes. “I can’t believe you’d go to me. Me .”

“We’re too much alike,” Nico grinned. “I’ll see you in December.”

“December?” Anubis blinked. “Why?”

Nico laughed. “You’ll see.”


Nico materialized on a fire escape next to Percy. The son of Poseidon was staring at a flowering plant.

“Nice plant,” Nico said.

Percy jumped.

“Sorry,” Nico said. “Didn’t mean to startle you.”

“That’s—that’s okay. I mean…what are you doing here?”

“I’ve done some exploring,” Nico told him. “Thought you’d like to know, Daedalus got his punishment.”

“You saw him?”

Nico nodded. “Minos wanted to boil him in cheese fondue for an eternity, but my father had other ideas. Daedalus will be building overpasses and exit ramps in Asphodel for all time. It’ll help ease the traffic congestion. Truthfully, I think the old guy is pretty happy with that. He’s still building. Still creating. And he gets to see his son and Perdix on the weekends.”

“That’s good.”

Nico tapped at his silver ring. “But that’s not the real reason I’ve come. I’ve found out some things. I want to make you an offer.”

“What?” Percy asked.

“The way to beat Luke,” he said. “If I’m right, it’s the only way you’ll stand a chance.”

Percy took a deep breath. “Okay. I’m listening.”

Nico glanced inside Percy’s room. His eyes landed on something strange. He frowned. “Is that…is that blue birthday cake?” he asked curiously.

“Come inside for some cake and ice cream,” Percy said. “It sounds like we’ve got a lot to talk about.”


Nico, Thalia, and Percy stood on a balcony overlooking Asphodel. The newly named Bob the Titan sat inside building a toy house out of bones and laughing every time it collapsed.

“I’ll watch him,” Nico said. “He’s harmless now. Maybe… I don’t know. Maybe we could retrain him to do something good.”

“Are you sure you want to stay here?” Percy asked. “Persephone will make your life miserable.”

She probably would , Nico agreed privately. But…

“I have to,” he insisted. “I have to get close to my dad. He needs a better adviser.”

Percy nodded. “Well, if you need anything…”

“I’ll call,” Nico promised. He shook hands with Thalia and Percy. As he turned to leave, he glanced back at Percy. “Percy, you haven’t forgotten my offer.”

“I’m still thinking about it,” Percy said evenly.

Nico nodded. “Well… Whenever you’re ready.” He went back inside Hades’ Palace.

He would get Percy to agree to this eventually. He had to. The fate of the world literally might depend on it.


Nico stepped out of the shadows and into the graveyard. Anubis glanced over at him.

“You’re late,” the god said. “It’s almost the end of December. I’ve been waiting for your visit.”

“I only said I’d see you in December,” Nico defended himself. “I never said when in December.”

Anubis glanced around uneasily. “Yes. What made you wait until the Demon Days to finally contact me?”

Nico shrugged. “Wanted to ask about your date.”

“Not a date,” Anubis said flatly. “Sadie Kane is-”

“-the single most annoying girl you’ve ever met?” Nico finished. “I’ve heard. What did you say you’d do for her again? Oh, right. The closing of the mouth ritual.”

Anubis opened and closed his mouth. Finally, he managed to ask, “Were you spying on us?”

“No, you told me this last time,” Nico said.

Anubis glared at him. “We have much more important things to discuss. And I have very little time. The Demon Days are upon us.”

“And thanks to you, I know what those are now,” Nico said. “Five made up days of the year. And Set is trying to destroy the world.” He paused. “I don’t know what happened. After we talked the last time, I spent all of my time in the Underworld training and trying to figure out what’s going on. I didn’t have time to come see you. And now, well, I have to get closer to my dad. Persephone isn’t a great advisor.”

“So unless you come to me…” Anubis said.

“Yeah,” Nico said grimly. “We won’t see each other until after the war. August.”

“Hmm, well, thank you for the warning about Set,” Anubis said sarcastically. “You’re a few days late, but thank you.”

“I can’t exactly mess with that,” Nico said. “I would have warned you if I could.”

Anubis sighed. “Of course. We shouldn’t talk too often anyway. The pantheons are not to mingle. I would get in trouble if this gets out.” He paused. “Maybe not so much because it’s you. I have had many conversations with Hades and Thanatos over the millenia.”

“Believe it or not, that isn’t the strangest thing I’ve heard,” Nico muttered.


By August, Nico was pretty sure about what he and Percy would need to do in order to successfully give Percy the Achilles curse. Yet, Percy still had not given Nico an answer which was worrying to say the least.

If this was going to work, Percy needed to make up his mind before the invasion. Not after.