THE TRIDENT QUEST
Usually Dariah loved her friends, but this was just plain ridiculous. As they walked through the humid city, Marcus couldn’t help but to complain, “Dars, can we please take a break? We’ve been up since dawn and we’re all starving. Besides, it’s lunchtime.”
“Charli, we’ve been walking forever. Look, I know the Gods can't do this because of that stupid oath Poseidon made, but if your dad was going to force us to do this, couldn't he have been even slightly specific about the location of this stupid thing?” Dariah chided, sweeping her chocolate bangs out of her eyes.
“Dad doesn’t know, I’ve already told you. The shadows stole Lord Poseidon’s trident, he didn’t wrap it up as a goddamn gift. He’s the God of the seas; do you really think he wanted the seas and oceans of the world to be uncontrollable? Now, if we hadn’t ruined the transport”, Charli replied, looking at Raph like she’d be pleased to murder him, “we wouldn’t have to walk this much”.
Raph’s slightly pointed ears raised in offence. Charli seemed undeterred from her mission, but eventually after about half an hour of never-ending complaining, whining and pleading combined, she finally agreed to pause the expedition long enough for everyone to cram a burger into their mouths.
The humidity and warmth of the day forced beads of sweat to trickle down their foreheads as they continued to tread along, following Charli, who had questionable map-reading abilities.
“We’re lost, aren’t we?” Raph queried. “Here, hand it over, let me take a look at it.”
He sat down and unstrapped his magical tool belt, laying it on the side, trying to read the map. The scorching blaze of summer kept everyone in such a daze that they struggled to stand up. The only positive thing that Dariah could think of this was that she was absorbing a lot more sunlight than usual, which would allow her to use it as a weapon, or heal someone. Being a child of the Sun God certainly had its benefits.
Not that Charli, Marcus or Raph were any less powerful. Charli was a Nereid, which made her hydrokinetic and allowed her to commute with horses and fish. Marcus could manipulate the mist which kept mortals from seeing magic, being another in a long line of magical people. Raph was a normal mortal, he had magical relatives, but he wasn’t magical himself, which was good, because three was the best possible number of demigods to go on a quest together, if Raph was anything magical, he’d have to be left behind, and nobody could imagine surviving without Raph’s constant plans and strategies.
Lost deep in thought and sluggish from the heat, Dariah only noticed when Raph started shouting colourful language at something in the distance.
“Oi!” he shrieked, “Get back here with my tool belt, you stupid imp!” Raph started chasing after him.
“Raph, you idiot! What’re you doing?” Charli screeched after him, then turning to Dariah, “Get to the location. We’ll meet you there.” And with that, Charli took off, catching up to Raph with incomparable speed. Dariah looked at Marcus, confused.
“I hope to Hecate you know how to read a map”, Marcus announced, royal purple eyes sinking into Dariah’s, “because I sure as Hades don’t.”
Two hours. Two hours of chasing an imp which seemed to never stop. At this point, Charli would much rather let the damn belt go, but Raph was persistent.
“We’re lost. Admit it.” Charli declared, since it was blatantly obvious that they were, “look, Raph, I know you love that belt, but I’m tired. He’s obviously faster than us. We lost him half an hour ago. We’re not getting anywhere.”
“We’re not giving up on my belt. It was a gift, and literally the only magical object I own.” Raph replied through gritted teeth in a fiery tone, unlike that which Charli was used to. His dark eyes glistened with determination, “besides, Marcus and Dariah are probably enjoying their couple time alone. We’re just the annoying frie-” He cut himself off, gesturing to Charli that something was up ahead. Charli froze. At first, she didn’t see anything, but as they moved slowly forward, with Charli’s hand on necklace, ready for battle, flashes of several pairs of glittering wings became obvious.
“Fairies”, Charli mouthed to Raph, “are you kidding me?” Just as Charli was thinking up a plan to go by undetected, Raph strutted, unarmed towards them. She chased behind him.
“Sorry to bother you, Ma’am, but would you have happened to have seen a small imp pass through here? About this high? Crazy eyes? Possibly carrying a brown leather tool belt?” he desperately questioned a fairy with glittering pink wings stained with what seemed to be vomit. Her bubblegum pink dress, which was possibly made out of bubblegum, looked like bits of it had been ripped off.
The fairy giggled in such a high pitched voice that Charli doubted her sanity. The fairy tried to reply, only to confuse herself by getting a long strand of badly bleached hair into her mouth. When she was able to speak, all she could say was either gibberish, or self-interrupted by giggling fits. She upchucked on herself and abruptly passed out. Charlie let go of her necklace. It was obvious by both the fairy’s behaviour and the several empty bottles of liquor scattered on the floor amongst other unconscious fairies that they weren’t up for much of a fight. She wouldn’t need a sword.
Charli spotted another fairy with raven hair and silver wings who looked like she was at least mostly sober and seemed to be texting. As they walked toward her, Charli noticed she had a server’s badge with, ‘Hello, I’m Zana’ printed on it.
“Excuse me? Zana? Would you happened to have seen an imp race by here?” Charli asked hopefully. Zana looked up from her phone, clearly annoyed to be disturbed from her texting.
“You guys try checking the mermaid lair? They capture imps and gnomes sometimes.” Zana replied, pointing eastwards nonchalantly, “There should be a lake there”. Charli thanked her. At least they were getting somewhere. She grabbed Raph’s hand and together they ran east, towards the mermaid lair. I swear to Poseidon, if we don’t get the belt here, I’m so leaving Raph with these drunk fairies, Charli thought.
Raphael watched as Charli gracefully dived into the water, dragging him with her. Raph closed his eyes in anticipation, but when he opened them, he was surprised to note that he was completely dry. He almost forgot she was a Nereid. Examining his surroundings, he realized he was enclosed in none other than a giant bubble. Charli was outside the bubble, but that was no surprise. The water was her home. The real surprise was that her legs had formed a tail and she had turned a pale blue. Her nose had disappeared and was instead replaced by gills on her cheeks. Barely ten seconds had passed and Raph noticed something approaching.
Raph couldn’t hear them from inside the bubble, but Charli swam up to the creature and she seemed to be talking to it. Raph managed to move, and as he got close enough to see the creature, he couldn’t really say what it was. His best guess was mer-man. His dark eyes, green skin and gills seemed a good enough reason to leave, but Charli looked like she knew him well enough, chatting happily with the foreigner. The mer-man nodded and Charli gestured Raph to follow him. After following the mer-man for a few minutes, they were led to an area, where the land rose enough for one or two people to stand. Raph was given these honors, being the only creature there that needed air to breathe.
Now that he was on land, he could see and hear everything much clearer. The mer-man called all the other mer-people. Hundreds of mer-men swam up, but Raph was disappointed to note that there were no mermaids. Or so he thought, until a single mermaid, who was presumably their queen, swam up, bodyguards surrounding her. They separated and the mermaid swam up to where Raph was, her tail dividing into legs as she climbed onto land.
“Attention, my loyal subjects”, she proclaimed, “Charli Argent, a Nereid who has been accompanying this mortal male (Why does she sound so disgusted by mortals? Raph wondered) has misplaced an important item for their quest for the Lord Poseidon. If we could all be so kind as to search that sickening imp, and bring in anything we find, your assistance would be appreciated.” She smiled. She was immensely beautiful, despite her lack of nose. Her blue eyes and lips went well with her pale green skin. The fact that she was only dressed in a seashell bra and seaweed shorts may have been factoring in her beauty. She noticed Raph staring and sneered at him.
It was several minutes of awkward staring and silence before the mer-men guards returned, an array of items in their arms. They lay them out in front of the queen. Raph spotted his tool belt, and instinctively reached for it, withdrawing it when the queen hissed at him, gills vibrating violently. “Charli Argent, please select your item and leave. I’m afraid mortals, especially mortal men who are unable to control their desires are unwelcomed here. I’m terribly apologetic that a daughter of the sea is forced to leave because of this creature.” The Queen announced, glaring at Raph. “We will take you to wherever it is you desire, Nereid. We owe your father countless favours.”
“Thank you, dear queen.” Charli responded, nodding, taking the tool-belt. She gestured at Raph to leave. “I apologize for bringing him here, but there was nowhere to leave him.” As they were leaving, following mer-men to the location Raph had luckily remembered form studying the map for a short while, Raph in the bubble, he realized just how amazing, yet horrible his friends were.
Marcus had been on dozens of quests without a scratch, but sure, why not injure his arm on one of the most important ones? The worst part of this was that he didn’t even injure it fighting something cool like a dragon or a basilisk. Nope, it had to be a Pegasus. A horse. A goddamned horse with wings. Dariah and Marcus had attempted to coax it to allow them to ride on it so they could get to the location in time, and the Pegasus didn’t seem to appreciate that. If Charli were with them, perhaps she could’ve explained their mission to it, but she wasn’t, and that resulted in a broken arm and several wounds.
Now Marcus lay on the floor of a small cave, Dariah leaning over him, trying to heal him. She radiated with a soft glow which could only be described as warm. He drifted in and out of consciousness, trying to focus on the blurry image of her soft hair and toffee skin, trying to remember a healing spell.
“Marcus, Marcus. Stay with me. Listen. I need you to help me with this. I can sense werewolves approaching. We have ten minutes, tops. I’ve lined the entrance with mountain ash, but if there are more than two, that’s never going to work. Charli has a silver sword, Raph has all the plans. I can’t do this without you, Marcus.” Dariah notified him, trying to stay calm.
Several minutes passed as Dariah kept trying to keep Marcus awake. Marcus wanted to wake up, even if just to allow his girlfriend to calm down, but his vision kept fading. If it weren’t for Dariah, he probably would’ve died of blood loss. He heard a howl. Marcus attempted to sit up, failing miserably.
“They’re here, Marcus. Werewolves.” Dariah stuttered, face pale. “Okay, Marcus, I’m going to have to do something. You know my powers work faster with bodily fluids? Well, this is the most humane way I can speed this up. Just don’t freak.”
Marcus could hear Dariah inhale as the werewolves reached the cave entrance, trying to dig through the shield of mountain ash. This is it. We’re dead. Marcus thought. That is until Dariah’s lips collided with his. It barely took half a minute. Marcus felt his consciousness returning to him, and his arm rejoining with a satisfying snap.
“Thank the gods”, Dariah said, letting out a sigh of relief, “Now, any ideas?”
“Hades yeah.” He said, standing up, muttering a mist manipulating spell as the beasts burst through the wall of mountain ash. He heard the click of Dariah’s shield opening as he closed his eyes. He could already feel himself disassociating, like he was viewing himself in third person. His eyes opened, the colour of freshly spilled blood on the first winter snow. His arms, chest, neck and face sprouted hair. His every breath was a growl. He opened his mouth, revealing fangs dripping with blood. He was the alpha of an alpha pack. He roared with a might ten lions couldn’t muster, staring the wolves straight in the eyes. In an instant, the wolves whimpered like puppies and turned, running, tails between their legs. He ended the charm, and felt himself enter first person once more.
But why did Dariah look so…..scared? She remained silent, but as she closed her shield with a click, Marcus caught a glimpse of red eyes staring back at him from his reflection, before turning back into the glowing lilac they usually were after performing magic.
Dariah couldn’t get the scene out her mind. Red eyes contrasting his usual light purple, teeth dripping with the blood of his victims. It wasn’t unusual for Marcus to manipulate the mist, but Dariah dared not tell him that she saw it happen to him in real life. His growl was real, and his roar was a little too real. He was getting stronger, too strong for him to handle, but there was no time for that. They had a quest to complete.
“Dars, are we almost there?” Marcus asked her
“One more turn and we should be the-” Dariah began.
“Took you guys long enough.” Charli commented, “Now are you guys ready to go fight some shadows?”
“How in Apollo’s name did you guys get here so fast?” Dariah exclaimed, her Texan accent audible.
“Let’s just say I pulled a few strings” Charli laughed.
“But wait”, Marcus interrupted, “The map says this is where the trident is. What now?” Raph lifted the cover of a sewer in response. A repulsive odour that choked them all greeted them. He gestured them to enter. They exchanged nods of agreement before dropping down into the odorous area. Considering how dark it was, Dariah was glad it was so bright earlier. Now she had enough power to be able to do this. She raised her hand, and it began to glow like a lantern. With her other hand she held her necklace’s moon and star charm, just in case she needed it.
“Plo tou tokstee metatrop kay eksoplsey ton eaut sa”, was all she had to mutter and it would transform into a bronze bow and self-reloading bronze arrows. Charli pulled out her necklace, transforming it into a silver sword. Raph reached in his tool belt and extracted a carving knife. Marcus cast a summoning spell to summon his enchanted stereo. While too heavy to carry everywhere, this was a powerful weapon in disguise. A sad song played on this could render anyone in earshot too emotionally exhausted to move, a fight song could force more energy and desperation to win, and a happy song could cheer the saddest of people up. They all looked at each other.
“Time to kick some gluteus maximus.” Raph grinned, dimples forming in his cheeks. They slowly crept forward, weapons ready, Dariah leading, her hand outstretched. Then they saw it. The silver trident, almost as big as Dariah. Being a demigod, she knew never to rush in. Slowly creeping towards it, with Charli prodding it with her sword to make sure it was safe, Charli held it. And nothing happened. Confused, Dariah turned to Marcus, who looked just as lost as she was. Dariah wasn’t one to question luck. She shrugged, and they turned to leave.
“Well that was easier than expected”, Marcus laughed. He just had to jinx it. Immediately, they all felt it. Well, almost all of them. While Dariah, Charli and Raph fell on the floor, writhing in pain, he seemed relatively unhurt. Dariah couldn’t describe this sort of pain. It wasn’t even enough to describe it as pain, but rather, emptiness. Like nothing mattered. Like slitting her wrists would be less torturous than that. She struggled to breathe. Marcus froze, but he didn’t matter anymore. Nothing mattered. Nothing had ever mattered. She could hear his voice, but who cared what he had to say? She was too tired to listen. She was too tired to exist. She felt a flash of hope, when Marcus tried to manipulate the mist into cheering them up, but hope was a short-lived luxury.
She didn’t know how long it had been. It felt like an eternity of death. And then she heard something. A very familiar something. A very annoying, familiar something.
“Because I’m happy! And if you ever feel, like a room without a roof, because I’m happy, dance along if you feel like happiness is the truth!” Pharrell William’s voice echoed through the sewer grime. Slowly, Dariah was able to breathe, then she finally stood up.
“NO!” a voice echoed, “IT WAS MEANT TO KILL THEM. THIS IS NOT KILLING THEM. KILL THEM IMMEDIATELY! NOTHING SHALL STAND BETWEEN ME AND THE LOSS OF POSEIDON’S HONOUR!”
“Oh no, he did not just insult Lord Poseidon”, Charli said. That’s when the sewer began to shake, and voices screeching bloody murder approached them. “Marcus, confuse them. Raph, I’ll be attacking the more solid ones with you”, Charli dictated, “and Dariah, you’re in charge of the much fewer but much more powerful vapour shadows.” Everyone nodded, following Charli’s excellent leadership.
That’s when all hell broke loose. Vapour rose in air, destroyed by Dariah’s whip of light, shadows ran amok in confusion as Marcus muttered spells and shadow after shadow dissolved into ashes, spirits sent to Tartarus by the strikes of Charli and Raph’s blades. Swing after swing of blades, lash after lash of sunlight whip and word after word of spells, it was over. It was finally over. They’d won. Dariah picked up the trident, handing it to Charli.
“I think you deserve the honours.” Dariah nodded at her.
“Lord Poseidon, accept our offerings.” Charli prayed, raising the trident. It disappeared. Charli let out a breath of relief, as if though a weight had been lifted from her shoulders, “The seas are already calmer. I can feel it.” She announced.
As the sun set on the boulevard, Dariah plonked herself down next to Marcus, licking her lemon ice-cream. Marcus’s vanilla cone dripped down his hand.
“What’s up?” Dariah asked cheerfully, “We won. We got the trident. Nothing’s wrong. Cheer up.”
“Stop lying to me”, Marcus sharply spoke, “I know you know something that I don’t. No secrets. We promised. I know something happened to me. In the cave.”
Dariah sighed, “I’m not hiding anything from you. I was just hoping we could enjoy our victory before I told you. I’m not saying there’s no problem, there is, let’s just worry about it tomorrow.”
“I need to know, Dars, I saw my eyes stay red, I think I deserve to know.”
Dariah looked down, “It’s happening, Marcus, just like Chiron said. Wizards and witches who go on too many quests lose control. You have too much power. You can’t handle it. Back in that cave….you weren’t you. It was like you were really the werewolf you pretended to be.” Marcus was silent. “It’ll be alright, Marcus. We’ll get through it together, but for today, let’s just get through this ice-cream.”
Marcus looked at his feet. His eyes were watery. Dariah wrapped her arm around him.
“Hey”, she said softly, “we’ve got each other’s backs. We promised. And besides, we’ve got something the rest of the world doesn’t have. A Charli and a Raph”, Dariah smiled.
Looking across the street at the withered shops, Dariah decided that no matter how ridiculous, she loved her friends.