Fabric of Fate
Season I: The Veil of Reality
Chapter XVII: All Hail the Queen of Dolphins
Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based on the PJO universe. All recognizable characters, plots and settings are the exclusive property of Rick Riordan. I make no claim to ownership.
Acknowledgement: Thank you as always to my editor Fezzik, as well as my other betas Luq707, Athena Hope, Yoshi89 and Raven0900 for their incredible work on this story.
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December 3, 2004
The Sword Fighting Arena, Camp Halfblood
The days following Cato’s claiming had been interesting, to say the very least.
In hindsight, it came as no surprise at all to find out Cato was a son of Athena. It made perfect sense to all who knew him, even if it hadn’t been as obvious as one might think. He definitely had the intelligence, as he was undoubtedly the smartest person Ace had ever met. The thing about him was, he just didn’t seem to carry himself with the demeanour one would expect from a son of Athena.
When retroactively thinking what he expected from a child of the wisdom goddess, Ace came to a few common conclusions. He would expect them to be mature beyond their years, articulate, well-spoken, calculating, intelligent, and a skilled practitioner in the art of deductive reasoning.
Whilst Cato fit many of those things, there were some he didn’t; however, Ace thought some of them were more out of choice than because he couldn’t. He was absolutely intelligent, calculating, and possessed an abundance of deductive abilities, but articulate and well-spoken weren’t words that came to mind when he pictured his friend. Many who didn’t know him may have also said he was far from the picture of maturity, but Ace begged to differ. Sure, Cato had his moments of gleeful indulgence, but his maturity couldn’t be debated. Not after their coast-to-coast journey and all that had come along with it.
Ace also suspected that if he wanted to be articulate, Cato probably could. It just wasn’t something he was particularly inclined to do.
“Easier not to, really,” Cato had told him when they had spoken of the topic in the Zeus cabin the night after Thanksgiving. Cato had decided he would occasionally sneak into Ace’s cabin after curfew. It was empty aside from Ace otherwise, and Cato generally preferred the company of his best friend compared to that of his cabin mates. “English is just a language. Bein’ all fancy is only useful once in a while. If it’s useful, I’ll do it. Other than that, just kinda a waste of time.” He had then grinned a wide, toothy grin. “And people underestimate me when I talk all Southern and improper. That’s always a ton of fun.”
Cato had gotten more attention since being claimed than he would have liked, but he handled it well. Being the newly claimed son of Athena who had helped to escort the son of Zeus to Camp Halfblood did earn one a fair bit of shine. His now-infamous one-liner that had sent the pavilion into peals of laughter also only added to the effect. Centre of attention in his cabin or not, Cato was more than a little bit grateful to be out of the constant Hermes shuffle.
“It ain’t nothin’ against ‘em,” he had said, “it’s just too cramped for me. You know how it is with bad ADHD. I don’t like sittin’ still for long and there ain’t no room to move in that cabin. It makes me fuckin’ crazy.”
“I wonder how long it will be until Blaze and Andy get claimed,” mused Ace.
“Probably a while if Andy’s parent really is Poseidon,” said Cato. “I doubt he’ll wanna admit he broke the pact too.”
“Do you think he just might not claim her if that’s the case?”
“Possibly. Some of the kids in the Hermes cabin say they’ve been there for years. Some of ‘em have even ran away from camp in the past. Kid named Ethan ran for it last summer, I was told. Apparently, he was a good fighter.”
“Any guesses on Blaze’s parent yet?”
Cato shook his head. “I’d guess the dad based on his family history, but hell if I know. If Andy’s parent is Poseidon, her story don’t check out, so no reason Blaze’s can’t be wrong either.”
“There’s nothing that screams demigod about him either, is there?”
“Nah, not really. I mean… Andy makin’ water do whatever she wants and you jumpin’ off shit made it pretty obvious.”
“Chiron did say Big Three kids are different though. Our powers are more dramatic, so it’s probably easier to tell when one of us shows up.”
“Probably, yeah. I’m sure he’ll get claimed eventually.”
Speaking of Andy and Blaze, they had been laying low since their arrival at camp. They were known mostly as the kids who showed up with the son of Zeus, which was something Ace felt more than a little bit guilty about. None of them seemed resentful for it, which was a relief to him, and the looks they had received in the first number of days after Ace was conscious had drastically diminished in terms of their frequency. They were now just, for the most part, two more unknowns lurking about in the Hermes cabin and waiting to get claimed.
It was a sad thought to many, but Ace wondered whether he might have preferred it that way. Everywhere he went, the stares bore into him. Everything he did, he felt them watching like he was a fascinating specimen they had under a microscope. The first day of training in the amphitheatre had been a prime example.
November 24, 2004
The Sword Fighting Arena
Being the only one in his cabin meant that Ace mostly got to assign his own schedule. Because of this, he had chosen to train with the Hermes cabin, as this had happened before Cato had been claimed by the Goddess of Wisdom and Battle.
Muttering had erupted through the arena the second Ace had walked through the door and all pairs of eyes had watched him intently right up until the sparring had begun. Luke was in charge of the practice, which wasn’t really a surprise. Ace had seen him fight during what was now christened as the Battle of Halfblood Hill, and he was good. According to most gathered in the amphitheatre, he was the best swordsman Camp Halfblood had seen in the past two hundred years.
There was a moment during which Ace thought he was going to end up sparring Luke. Those blue eyes had found him in the crowd, but seemingly, Luke had thought better of it. He obviously realized Ace still hadn’t developed a trust with him yet so perhaps he thought sparring wouldn’t be the best idea.
Not that he let Ace off easy.
Logically, one might think the best idea would be to pair Blaze up with Andy and Ace up with Cato. It would be pitting the newbies against one another, which would, in theory, be the safest and fairest way of doing it. Andy and Blaze did get paired together, but Ace and Cato didn’t.
Cato was paired with a tall, muscular boy who had yet to be claimed, while Ace was set against a boy roughly his age named Travis. Along with his younger brother, Connor, the two of them were infamous. Aside from Luke, they were easily the most decorated and notable children of Hermes at the camp. They were notorious pranksters, and skilled ones at that. Just because they had joking demeanours didn’t mean they were ones to take lightly.
Ace actually thought putting him up against either Stoll brother during his first-ever live sparring session was borderline sociopathic on the part of Luke. He logically shouldn’t be able to win and he wondered if Luke might just be trying to make an example of him. If nothing else, losing would likely take a bit of the shine away from him and lessen the stares he was subject to everywhere he went.
As tantalizing an image as that prospect was, Ace didn’t plan on losing.
He rationally understood that he was the underdog and shouldn’t be able to win, but he just didn’t care.
Ace hated losing.
A lifetime of competing in multiple sports at a high level had instilled within him a brutal competitive streak and a ruthless opposition to anything but victory. His coaches and teammates often joked about how horrible a loser Ace was. He wasn’t the type to vocally complain about it, protest to the officials, or throw a tantrum; but he was absolutely the type to be reserved and drawn in after losses, making it obvious to any who knew him exactly how bothered he was by it all.
Ace didn’t intend on letting that happen now.
Travis was a couple of inches taller than Ace, but he was thin and carried less muscle. Ace could also tell by the thin smile on his face and dancing light in his eyes that the boy was confident…
Perhaps a touch too confident.
Ace held the sword he had stolen back in Nashville at the ready until Luke gave the command to begin.
The duel didn’t last long.
Travis lunged forward but Ace parried his strike mid-slash and slammed the flat of his blade into the boy’s shoulder, sending him staggering. Travis raised his sword to block Ace’s return-strike, but Ace wasn’t fighting like a conventional swordsman. The textbook thing to do would be to plant one’s feet and counter, but Ace was approaching this more like a martial art than a game of fencing.
As soon as Travis had stumbled back, Ace feinted with a slash to the chest, leant to his left to fake that movement, and then darted to the right, slamming the blade of his sword into the hilt of Travis’s, sending his weapon spinning out of his hands.
The boy gaped at Ace. “How the hell did you do that?”
Ace shrugged unapologetically. “It’s not that different from martial arts. It’s a game of angles, footwork, and distance management. You planted your feet and made yourself a predictable target. I made you take the bait, changed directions and took advantage. Simple feinting, really.”
Travis just shook his head in bemusement.
Back in the present…
The stares had only worsened after that first day, as news of Ace’s exploits had spread through the camp like a midsummer wildfire. He had sparred several boys that day and none of them had lasted long. One of the only experienced campers he hadn’t sparred was Luke, largely because the trust just wasn’t there. There were even some mutterings around the camp that Ace might be the one to knock Luke off of his pedestal as the camp’s best swordsman. By the Hermes’ counsellor’s own admission, Ace was, at least, the most naturally gifted swordsman he had ever laid his eyes upon.
Blaze had done quite well too, as had Cato. Andy had struggled and the others could tell it had bothered her at the time, but she had shaken it off quickly enough. By her own admission, a sword wouldn’t be near the top of the list of her go-to weapons if she had to rank them.
Out of the four of them, Ace was the only one to enter into the two end-of-week competitions during the first two weeks of December. Along with lessons in things like sword fighting, archery, martial arts, Ancient Greek, Ancient Greek history, rock climbing, and other pursuits during the week, Friday nights always meant something special.
The camp ran on a four-week rotation in regards to Friday-night activities.
Game Night was the affectionate title for a night of strategy-based games that were meant to hone the demigods’ strategic thinking and on the fly reactions. Of the four weekly events in the constant rotation, it was by far the least physically demanding, though by far the most mentally taxing. The Athena cabin tended to dominate in this, and Cato teaming up with Annabeth and his other siblings had been borderline unfair on the 26th of November. Of the four events, it — along with Capture the Flag — were the two that mandated campers’ participation.
The week after Game Night, duels would be set up in the amphitheatre. They would be open-weapon, meaning one could select any ancient form of weaponry to do battle with.
After realizing his affinity for sword fighting, Ace entered this event, something Blaze called him ‘mental’ for. Ace saw no issue with it. It was extremely rare for a new camper to jump into the event so quickly, but Ace felt confident. All of the entries’ names would be put into a hat and drawn out at random. The pairs would then be set against each other, each sparring one match. At the end of each summer, there was an annual tournament to crown the best swordsman in the camp. This event was also not divided by gender, unlike the one that followed it one week later.
That event was Pankration, which ran similarly to the duels. The closest modern-day comparable to Pankration would be mixed martial arts, but Pankration had more rules and much less damage was typically inflicted during the matches. It was also more grappling heavy, though some striking was involved. Occasionally, the camp would limit it to only striking or only grappling, just so those involved could hone specific skill sets.
Unless it was strictly grappling, the event was divided by gender. When punches, kicks, knees and elbows were removed, the genders could technically compete against each other, since the risk of any damage at that point was minimal. As a matter of fact, during these grappling-specific events, both Clarisse and Annabeth were arguably the two most successful competitors from either gender.
The first round of Pankration since the new quartet’s arrival was not a striking or grappling specific event, but an open-class competition with the standardized rules set to take place on December 10th. Ace had also entered into this event, which he actually felt quite confident in. Martial arts were something he had spent many years practicing, so it was right up his wheelhouse. Mind you, he was far more striking-oriented. If he faced a talented grappler, his game plan would be to maintain distance at all costs.
But tonight was about sword fighting, not Pankration.
Ace stood in the centre of the arena, squaring off with the same blonde who had helped escort him to Camp Halfblood. Sky blue eyes locked with stormy grey, each trying to will doubt into the possessor of their antithesis.
Ace’s entrance into both optional events had only drawn even more attention and many had wondered how he would fare. The consensus seemed to be that he would do well in sword fighting but that he wouldn’t do nearly as well in Pankration if he was pitted against an older opponent.
Now that Annabeth had been randomly selected as his first opponent in sword fighting… the opinions in the stands were divided.
Ace had been painted as a prodigy with a sword, but Annabeth was easily the second-best wielder of that particular weapon in the camp next to Luke — even if it wasn’t typically her first choice in battle. She preferred fighting with knives, which was well-known, but the crowd still very much wondered whether it was even possible for a newbie to take her down. She had elected to use a sword tonight; knives didn’t typically match up well against swords unless the element of surprise could be employed.
Which wasn’t going to be an option tonight, in the centre of an open amphitheatre, with the crowd all leaning forward and on the edge of their seats.
Chiron ordered both Ace and Annabeth to their starting positions. Contrary to tensing, both of them visibly relaxed. This was because each of them knew tension was their enemy. It would only lead to their strikes being telegraphed and easily blocked, as well as the inevitable speeding up of the process of fatigue.
A gong rang through the arena and Ace darted forward. The crowd began to mutter at his unorthodox patterns of movement. He wasn’t engaging, as was typical, but sliding from left to right just out of the reach of Annabeth’s sword. Most present had never seen such movements before, but Annabeth knew what he was doing. She had been one of the more avid studiers of martial arts in the camp and she recognized the technique, even if she had never seen it extrapolated onto sword fighting before.
He was trying to draw a reaction out of her and gauge her default patterns of movement.
She stayed virtually motionless, watching him intently with those calculating grey eyes and readying herself to defend an attack at any moment.
It didn’t take long for Ace to realize she wasn’t going to play his game, so he lunged with such speed that some in the crowd gasped. Annabeth managed to parry, if only just, but she didn’t anticipate a return strike in the same way that Travis Stoll had. She slid out of range and waited for him to move, slashing her blade towards him before his feet had planted themselves once more after he had done just that. He blocked the strike but staggered, still unsettled in his new position.
She attacked whilst he was off balance and though he blocked the strike, he was sent toppling onto his back. Annabeth made to pin him down, but he was too quick. He was on his feet again and the next slash of his sword grazed her, opening a small cut on her shoulder.
To Ace’s shock, the flat of her own blade slammed hard into his ribs, unbalancing him once more. She had clearly realized his strike would only graze, so she hadn’t bothered defending it. Instead, she had allowed it to impact her solely to launch her own offence while her opponent’s sword was occupied.
The two of them went strike for strike for the next minute or so, but Ace quickly realized how the duel was going to go.
He was more talented with a sword, that much was evident. Annabeth was extremely athletic and had lightning-like reflexes, but Ace outmatched her in both areas. He also just had an innate ability to gauge distance and spot openings.
The problem was, talent wasn’t everything.
It quickly became just as clear that in terms of the techniques and nuances involved in the art, Ace was miles behind. His arsenal was limited to extremely basic slashes and his parries weren’t super consistent. The other problem was that he just wasn’t used to fighting with a sword for long periods. No matter how athletic one might be, their body wouldn’t just do something without conditioning. Exchanging strikes, blocks, and parries wore Ace’s arms out quickly and he could suddenly feel the lactic acid taking refuge in his shoulders.
There was also the fact that Annabeth was a strategic genius. She had realized all of these things faster than Ace, but she had also realized his primary advantages were his footwork and unorthodox style. The best way to neutralize that, in her opinion, was to get Ace pinned into a corner, which she had done within about ninety seconds; which actually wasn’t an overly short period of time by duelling standards.
Cornered, outmatched and heavy-armed, Ace lost his sword about fifteen seconds after being pinned into a corner and Annabeth’s blade found its way under his chin just seconds later.
“Match,” declared Chiron, prompting Annabeth to remove her sword and allow Ace to pick up his own.
Ace shook her hand with a blank expression. “Congratulations,” he said in a slightly clipped tone. “You’re very good at this. I look forward to the rematch in the future.”
He turned on the spot, eager to get away from his defeater and out of the amphitheatre. He could already feel the frustration boiling in the pit of his stomach and he wished so badly that somebody had recorded the duel. He wanted to rematch it and learn exactly where he had failed. It bothered him to no end that he had lost his first duel, no matter who it was against.
Ace felt a hand on his shoulder before he could make it far. He turned to see Annabeth’s grey eyes studying him very intently. “You’re going to be an incredible swordsman,” she told him. “Everything they said about you is true, but natural ability can’t beat years of experience. You have every natural tool to beat me, but your technique needs work.” She gave him a nervous look. “I know you don’t trust me, but I think you trust Luke even less, and I think we’re the only two people in camp who are capable of helping you reach your potential. If you’d let me, I’d be open to helping you improve on your actual form and technique.”
Ace had not expected that.
He didn’t trust Annabeth, per se, but he certainly did more than Luke. The calculating gleam that perpetually lurked behind her eyes still put him naturally on edge, but this seemed like an opportunity too good to refuse. In martial arts, hockey, and most other things in life, Ace had learned that the best way of improving was to train with and learn from those who were better than you.
If he had his way, Annabeth wouldn’t be better than him for long, but she had proven her admiral aptitude tonight, and it was something Ace couldn’t ignore.
“I would appreciate it,” he said with a genuine smile.
She returned the expression. “We’ll talk after breakfast tomorrow. I’ll just need to sort some things out with my schedule.”
His stomach still writhing with frustration but his annoyance slightly lifted, Ace went to find Cato, Andy and Blaze in the stands. As much as he wanted to just leave the amphitheatre, he thought they would appreciate him not running off.
“Don’t worry, bubba,” was the first thing Cato said, a gleam present in his eyes as Andy fussed over whether or not he had received any injuries in the duel. “You’ll be beatin’ her soon. We’ll make sure of it.”
December 17, 2004
The night was crisp and the wind was bitter, as one might expect from an evening in the middle of December. In the days just past, a thin coat of snow had blanketed the large valley in which Camp Halfblood was nestled. It gave an entirely new light to the camp, and as a Canadian, Ace felt right at home. The camp could apparently regulate the weather it experienced — within reason — Although the camp could regulate the weather it experienced, some of the older campers had told the new arrivals that the wintery weather was usually allowed in, if for no other reason than to add to the festive spirit.
Tonight, Ace was grateful that the snowfall had been minimal, for vast amounts of the substance would have made the night’s game of capture the flag all the more difficult.
Ace had allied himself with Hermes, Athena, Apollo, and Demeter. They would be opposing Ares, Hephaestus, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. Ace thought the sides were relatively well-balanced, from what he had observed so far. Ares and Athena were definitely the powerhouse cabins, with Apollo and Hephaestus essentially cancelling each other out. Apollo’s affinity for archery would be paramount, but going up against Hephaestus in the numerous traps they would inevitably set was a harrowing experience. Demeter was generally looked down upon, but they could somewhat command the foliage, which was certainly of use in the forest. From what Ace could tell, the two quiet sons of the Wine God were actually quite competent, but numbers obviously weren’t on their side. The Aphrodite cabin seemed mostly to be a non-factor, but Silena Beauregard was handy with a sword and, according to Annabeth’s pre-match lecture, she was gifted in something called charmspeak.
Charmspeak, in Ace’s opinion, sounded like the most terrifying thing in the world. The mere thought of being commanded against his will was something straight out of his nightmares, and he quickly and internally vowed to avoid Silena Beauregard during the game at all costs. Apparently, there was a girl named Drew Tanaka who could do it as well, just to a lesser extent.
“Ace, Cato,” said Annabeth, “you two will go with Connor, Travis, and a few other Hermes campers. Malcolm and some of Athena will follow you as well.”
“Not to butt in or anything,” said Ace, “but this sort of sounds like you’re putting two newbies in charge of our front.”
“That’s exactly what I’m doing, Iverson.”
“May I ask why?”
Her eyes gleamed. “Because I don’t know two campers better at causing mayhem than you two, and mayhem is exactly what you need.”
Ace looked towards Cato, who was grinning like a madman. “Trust me, sis,” he said with a demonic-expression, “we can do you some mayhem.”
Andreia watched from the shadows as her contingent tore off after the flag, with the exception of the few left behind to manage the perimeter.
Technically, she was supposed to be retreating further back into the forest to closely cover their flag, but Cato had other plans. Plans that she viewed as far more useful deployments of her talents than closely watching the flag.
Annabeth gave her final instructions to Ace, Cato and the others in their pack before making her way over to the group that would be led by her and Luke to give out their instructions. As soon as she left them, Cato whispered something in Ace’s ear and the two of them quickly made their way towards Andy and Blaze.
“Blaze, you’re with us,” said Cato, to which the boy nodded mutely. “Andy… I got somethin’ different for you.”
“Different?” she asked, her interest piqued. Annabeth and Luke had grouped her with the small contingent that would be closely guarding their flag, which she thought sounded terribly boring.
“Yup,” answered Cato with a sparkle of mischief in his eyes. “Different’s one way of sayin’ it.” When Andy just gazed up at him with wide, curious eyes he relented. “How would you like to use them pretty little powers of yours. Ya know, the ones we ain’t told nobody about so far.”
Her grin in response was infectious.
Back in the present…
With a coy smile stretching her lips to their limit, Andreia glanced around to ensure nobody was watching her. When she was confident her next move would go unnoticed, she stepped forward into the water which divided the forest almost perfectly in half and submerged herself.
Everything was going to hell until Cato had pulled out the grenade.
Ace, Blaze, Cato, the Stolls, and others had walked right into the heart of the opposition’s defence. Ace could only hope they managed to occupy them long enough for Luke, Annabeth and the others to get the flag. He was fairly sure they would be overrun soon, as there were just more defenders than there were attackers. Ace was moving like a whirlwind, knocking opponents to the forest floor left and right, but he knew they wouldn’t last much longer.
And then Cato pulled out the grenade.
Apparently, the one he had used during the Battle of Halfblood Hill hadn’t been the last strobe grenade he had. Its light was blinding as it detonated into the centre of an attacking crowd, painting the world a more vivid depiction of the colour that comprised the snow on the ground.
Just as the light filled the affected area, arrows soared in from all directions just as Annabeth, Luke and several others rushed in from the shadows, making a beeline for the flag.
“Get them!” called the large, muscular Ares camper who had been left in charge of guard duty.
Several campers converged on Annabeth, but it was too late to prevent the capture, for she had already snatched the flag.
What they did manage to do was to make her life a whole lot more difficult.
They had her and Luke, the two members who managed to penetrate the defences, surrounded in seconds. The Apollo kids were firing off arrows, but they wouldn’t be fast enough. They were about to lose their two leaders.
“Ace!” The boy in question perked up at the sound of his name just in time to see Annabeth hurl the flag. It shouldn’t have worked, as a flag is not meant to sail through the air like a paper airplane, but Ace and air had an odd relationship.
He broke off from the fighting and began sprinting back towards the water that divided the two sides, willing the flag to soar further and further through the air until, without looking up, he sensed it nearing him, reached out his hand, and caught it.
By the time he had done so, he could see the water ahead and for a second, he felt elated. It was his first capture the flag game and he was going to make the winning run. There was very little he could think that would have added to the performance.
Until he realized that Clarisse had their flag and was also sprinting towards the junction. Ace was pulling away from his pursuers, using the air to the best of his abilities to bat aside any long-range attacks sent his way. He was moving at speeds much faster than Clarisse, but she was far closer. She would reach the water first, if only by seconds. Ace’s calculations were proven correct just as Clarisse bent her legs, intent on leaping over the most narrow bit of water…
Water that exploded upwards — far more water than the creek should have contained — and intercepted Clarisse, forming something of a wall to prevent her crossing. Seconds later, Ace leapt across and unlike how it had impeded Clarisse, the water slammed into his feet, propelling him up and forwards and sending him across the stream.
Just like that, they had won the game, an occasion marked off by Andreia, rising on a geyser like some immortal goddess of the stream.
Chiron’s conch horn sounded far too loud as he moved towards them, for everyone gathered in the clearing had fallen silent, each of them gaping at Andreia as if they were fish who had swum free of the geyser she had just created.
Ace and Cato exchanged horrified looks.
Cato had become lost in his desire to win and hadn’t thought through the repercussions of having Andreia manipulate the water. Ace hadn’t thought of them either, lost in the same competitive streak that had fuelled him for years.
And now, because of it, Andreia was going to get claimed as the daughter of Poseidon, validating their theory and exposing her to all of the problems felt by children of the Big Three.
That was what Ace and Cato thought, anyway.
The truth was far less predictable.
Just as a dumbstruck Chiron opened his mouth to speak, the air around Andreia began to glow with a light not too dissimilar from that which had surrounded Cato.
The difference was that, in this case, the light was blue instead of silver.
And in place of the majestic owl that had hovered above Cato’s head, the halo of bluish light floating atop Andreia was not an owl, nor was it the expected trident.
It was a great dolphin; the symbol of a goddess none of them had expected.
“It is decided,” said Chiron, breaking the shocked silence that had befallen the clearing and lasted for no less than a minute. “Show respect, campers, to Andreia Lopez, daughter of Amphitrite; wife of Poseidon, daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, Goddess of the Sea, mother of dolphins. Indeed, it is a… most unexpected development.”
I do hope the Andreia reveal lived up to its hype. I did heavily hint at Poseidon in hopes of leading some astray, so I hope I was successful.
To any who would argue Amphitrite wouldn’t cheat on Poseidon… we can respectfully disagree, and my viewpoint will be explained later.
Also… I’m sorry to any who may not be happy with the protagonist actually losing — you would be surprised how many people get upset by that — but there was just no way Ace was beating Annabeth with a week and a half of training. It doesn’t matter how talented he is.
Also… character development is fun 🙂
Please read and review.
A massive thank you is also extended to my first top-tier Patron, Κυρία της φωτιάς, Lily of Dreams, for her generous support on that platform! It continues to boggle my mind each and every day, and it is something for which I will be forever grateful!
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