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I got out of bed and flash-changed my clothes, then darted out of my room and down to the main atrium. I took the secret staircase up to the Lotus Tree Lounge.

"Ridley!" I called.

The Lotus-Eater looked up from her Lotus berries. "What?" She asked, slightly irritated.

The Lotus-Eaters were the Spirits of Procrastination and Extravigence, children of Nyx, despite what Odysseus says.

"I got a dream message." I said.

"From who?" She asked lazily.

"Your least favorite aunt."

Every Lotus-Eater in the room froze.

"Gaea?" Asked James, another Lotus-Eater.

Rid sighed. "We're listening."

I told them about my dream. "Now what I need to know, is who that girl in black was."

James grimaced. "Our mother had a lot of children. Some with her husband Erebus, like us. Some through partenogenisis, like our brother Thanatos."

"By herself. Don't ask." Rid muttered.

"But the girl you're talking about... Nyx's only child by Ouranos."

My breath caught. "No."

"Lyssa." Rid said. "The Spirit of Madness."

"You said your friend is a son of Hades?" Ridley asked.

I nodded.

"That's not good." James muttered.

"Are you familiar with Lyssa's myth?" Ridley asked.

"Uh... with Actaon, right? He was peeping on Artemis, so she turned him into a deer and had Lyssa drive his hunting dogs rabid and eat him." I said. I'd never really payed attention to Lyssa's stories.

"True, but I was thinking of the Heracles myth. Hera was being irritable and jealous and generally unpleasant as always, and at this particular moment she was taking it out on a son of Zeus named Heracles. She had our brother Hypnos put his father to sleep, and then ordered Lyssa to drive him temporarily into a fit of murderous rage, in which time he murdered his wife and children."

"That's terrible." I said.

Rid waved her hand dismissively. "She does that sort of thing all the time, for fun. She really is an awful person. But anyway, when Zeus awoke, he was furious. And at the time, Lyssa and Hades were sort of, um, what do you say... an item."

I would have laughed at her wording if not for the context.

"And so when he woke up, Zeus ordered Hades to- well, lets just say it really didn't end well. Lyssa's held a grudge ever since. Sort of ironic, how they get mad at each other when everything was Zeus and Hera's fault."

I was horrified. "And you think she'd take it out on Nico?"

Ridley gave me a sympathetic look. "Well, deities do tend to take out their anger on their enemies' children when they aren't powerful enough for direct confrontation."

"And, you might want to know, the location... it sounds like our uncle's realm." James said.

"Please tell me you mean Erebus." I asked with little hope.

"No, I just told you Erebus was our father. I mean Tartarus."

I was hyperventilating. "As in, the pit of Despair?"

"Ya. But Gaea said she wanted to keep him alive. And sane. So he might get out all right, if his sister and her friends can rescue him."

I shut me eyes and concentrated. I began to glow, but then it stopped abruptly. "What-"

"Magical travel doesn't work in Tartarus, if that's where you were trying to go." James said.

I cursed in ancient Greek.

"Well, I have to go somewhere."

I tried a different place. I came through in the forum of Camp Jupiter. It was late at night, there was music playing, and the ground was covered in little plastic packages. I picked one of them up and read 'ROFL organic cupcake simulations'.

"Stella!" A girl with dark brown skin and coiled hair wearing a mix of armor, jeans and a purple t-shirt ran over.

"Hazel." We hugged. "It's good to see you." I said.

"We got the eagle!" She pointed to a golden eagle displayed on a high pole.

"The legion's missing eagle? Congrats! And you freed Death?"

She nodded.

"And you're still alive!"

Hazel looked back and forth, as if making sure no one was listening. "Go ahead, announce it to the world." She whispered.

"Sorry." I whispered back.

"Have you talked to Nico since he left?" Her question caught me like a sucker punch.

"No, not exactly. Have you?"

Hazel blinked tears out of her eyes, which wasn't like her. "Gaea said that-that she'd captured him."

I wiped away tears of my own. "She sent me a dream message saying basically the same thing. She also said..." I trailed off.

"Said what? Please, Stella."

I took a deep breath. "She said she was holding him hostage to lure you and the rest of the seven."

Hazel looked sick to her stomach. "I have to save him. This is my fault."

"Hazel, you can't blame-"

"But it's true! Every time I care about someone, something terrible happens to them, or something so that I never see them again. I can't let that happen again. If it weren't for Nico, I'd be dead right now. He's the only family I have left. If something happens to him..." She shook her head. "Thanatos said he was in Rome. We're going in that direction anyway. I'd invite you to come, but-"

"Seven Prophecised Heroes only, I know. Good luck."

Hazel smiled and turned to leave.

"Oh, and Hazel?"

"Ya?"

"When you get to Rome? Make Gaea pay. For the both of us."

She smiled again. "Promitto."

The Half Blood Magician, Part 2, ch. 3: I See an Old Not-So-Friend

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