Chapter no 44

The Sun and the Star

Will watched as Nyx revealed Nico’s demons, and he wished his suspicions hadn’t been right.‌

He remembered hearing something on the steps descending from the Door of Orpheus, but, like Nico, he had convinced himself that his overactive (and, frankly, terrified) imagination was running wild. But now, staring at the pack of tiny demons as they approached his boyfriend, Will’s whole mind was screaming at him.

This felt wrong. Like something he shouldn’t be seeing. What Nyx had done to Nico was horrifying! Everyone had their own personal demons and traumatic events in their history, but this?

She had made them real.

She had brought them to life.

And now Nico didn’t even have the choice to keep them to himself.

But Will had no idea what he should do. Attack Nyx? Grab Nico and jump into the roaring rivers below? He was generally pretty good at

strategy, but he felt completely out of his element here.

‘Accept it,’ said Nyx. ‘Accept that you prefer the darkness. You prefer suffering. You know it is true! Your own children prove it! Stop denying your nature!’

Will looked to Nico, and he watched as his boyfriend’s face settled. He knew that expression.

And he knew what Nico was about to do.

He backed up, and when Nico said ‘No’ to Nyx, Will saw the cracks in the ground appear and begin to spread.

Nico was about to raise the dead.

There was a part of Will that would always be unnerved by this display, but at that moment, as the cacodemons scattered, he felt an immense pride.

Nico was refusing Nyx’s manipulation. He was fighting back.

‘You have no idea who I am,’ said Nico.

Will’s boyfriend drew his glowing blade in one swift movement and, before Will could do anything, Nico charged.

He swung his sword down in front of Shadow, and the horse reared up in shock. When it did, the ground underneath Nyx’s vampire horse split open, and the dead raged forth.

‘Nico’s fight invigorates me!’ said Bob, pressing an open palm to his chest. ‘Come, son of Apollo! Let us lay waste to Nyx!’

Will wasn’t sure about laying waste to anyone – particularly Nyx’s

children, who were all now backing up and away from their mother rather than defending her against Nico. But as he watched Bob scream, his broom raised in the air, his cat changing back into a sabre-toothed tiger, Will was energized, too.

He was the son of Apollo.

He had survived in the Underworld without the sun.

He was one of only four demigods ever to travel to Tartarus.

And now here was Nico di Angelo, the boy he’d fallen in love with, fighting to return to the mortal world.

It all came to Will so suddenly then: Nico might have been born to

Hades. He might have suffered untold amounts of pain and sorrow. He was at home in darkness.

But that didn’t mean that he couldn’t choose the alternative.

Will knew that for a fact because Nico burned brightly as he fought Nyx, as he dodged her tendrils of smoke and hacked at her body. There was a ferocity in him, a power and a fury that could scorch the galaxy when he battled for those he cared for.

And he was now using it to fight for himself.

Even in the darkest parts of life, there was still … light.

Like the plants in Persephone’s garden. Like Menoetes’s love for Geryon.

Like the ingenuity and loyalty of the troglodytes. And no light was brighter than Nico di Angelo.

But what could Will himself do? He had no weapons; he wasn’t good

with a bow and arrow; he felt as if there wasn’t a drop of power left in him.

Well, maybe he had to come up with his own alternative. Maybe it was his turn to find a little darkness within.

Will screamed at Nyx, so loud and so fierce that she actually snapped her head in his direction, and Nico’s cacodemons fled in terror once more,

seeking refuge in the shadows. ‘Leave him alone!’ Will shouted. And then he ran.

He had no real plan. He just had anger.

Will let that rage propel him forward, and he reached inside himself to find darkness. He knew loneliness, like on the nights when he’d stood at the back of a club while his mother performed. He’d experienced fear. He’d felt jealousy.

He was a child of the god Apollo, and so, with all those feelings close to the surface, Will tapped into his father’s power and did something he had never done in his life.

He gave his enemy hay fever.

Nyx began to sneeze violently, and she swatted at herself. Soon, mucus poured out of her – well, Nyx didn’t have a nose, but the fluid was coming out of something.

‘What have you done?’ she cried out, then sneezed again, sending more snot flying.

‘Gross,’ said Will. ‘Cover your void when you sneeze, please.’ Nyx snarled and let loose a command: ‘Children, attack!’

Will never made it to Nyx.

The first cacodemon – Will couldn’t see which one – collided with his right leg, which sent him flying. He smacked into the ground, stars bursting in his vision as the air left his lungs. But soon there was another

cacodemon, this one with enormous tusks, and it pounced on his chest and snapped at his face. Will did his best to keep it from biting him, but then there was another, and another, and another. They swarmed him, tearing at his hoodie, and one finally did clamp its jaw over his left hand.

He screamed and flung it off as blood welled to the surface of the bite. All he could see was the darkness of their bodies.

All he could hear was Nyx laughing.

This was it. He’d failed. He’d failed them all. He was going to … ‘STOP!’

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