Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Daughter of Apollo - Chapter 12

The Daughter of Apollo

Chapter 12: Showing Edward How To Fight Monsters

Most people my age would usually spend their nights lounging about the house, trying to forget the worries that were school, teachers and homework. They'd spend the early hours of the evening with their family, having dinner and spending quality time and as the hours passed by, they'd focus on the schoolwork that really needed to be done - or just ignore it some more and talk with friends over the phone.

That would be the normal night for a normal teen.

As it were, I was no normal teen and this was no normal night. And it wasn't like my day started out normally either (well, it did but it turned into one wild afternoon). I skipped school to hang out with my best friend, found out that our seven years of friendship was fake, ran away from a god and pissed off his family, killed a man.. and to top it all off, my father was just kidnapped by a Fury. And to make matters worse, the Oracle of Delphi was glaring contemptuously at Frank Stinson.

Yes, everything was just peachy. I wonder what Frank did to get on Rachel's bad side.

"You know," I gasped as I heaved Frank's limp body towards my Chevy truck, "you could actually take a break from glaring at him and help me out instead. Frank's not going to move himself."

Chastised, Rachel blushed brightly (a trait we seem to share) and hurriedly offered to lift Frank's feet; she hid her discomfort quite well, in my opinion. Together we managed to settle Frank into a comfortable looking position on the back. By just one look at him, I could tell thau was severely injured. Surely, his arm wasn't supposed to stick out like that.

Rachel volunteered to stay in the back with him, leaving me to drive around to get help. Though I didn't know where it was situated, the town hospital was our best bet. I could consider asking Angela for directions, but I didn't know where she lived either. And so I just drove around the empty town, following the gibberish signs for directions towards the hospital. We halted every now and gain as my jumping feet accidentally pressed on the brakes.

Curse my ancient Greek inclined brain and my battle ready energy.

I heard knocking on the glass behind me, and so I slowed down and twisted to see what Rachel was up to. She had a frantic look on her face. Frowning, I stopped the truck altogether and climbed out. Upon reaching her on the back, she swiftly explained to me that Frank was slipping in and out of consciousness.

"He just woke up and mumbled some rubbish," she said. "And look," she pointed at a red blotch on Frank's shirt that I had initially dismissed as a design due to the lack of light, "he's bleeding even worse now."

I stamped down on my growing concern for my long time friend and tried to keep on a cool head. "We need something to staunch the flow," I said, meanwhile positioning my foot securely on the back tire and hauling myself inside the truck. "Do you have a scarf or a handkerchief?"

Rachel glared at me. "Do I look like I have a scarf on me right now? I'm shivering for all I'm worth!"
I glared at her, too. She was not making this any easier. "You're just shaking from the adrenaline rush," - I didn't know if that was true or not - "but still we have graver matters to worry about. Frank may or may not die tonight, depending on how fast we can get him help, and no one else is going to die tonight."

Rachel ignored my last statement. She wouldn't understand anyway. "How about we take him to the hospital?" she suggested.

"That's what I've been trying to do!"

"Really? You looked like you were just driving around in circles, if you ask me."

"Well, I didn't ask you!" I huffed and busied myself in ripping my pajama sleeve off, my hands shaking. It wasn't long enough to wrap around Frank's trip waist, but if I tied it with my other sleeve, it would do. Glancing at Rachel briefly as she helped me dress Frank's wound, I felt guilty for shouting at her. I sighed softly and muttered an apology.

"That's okay," she said in the same tone as I. "I forgot how difficult it is to be a half-blood, what with the dyslexia and the ADHD."

"Hey," I nudged her gently on the shoulder, "my brain is hard-wired for reading Ancient Greek and I've heightened alertness to keep me ready for battle. It's not dyslexia or ADHD, as I'm sure you are perfectly aware."

Rachel just snorted in response. I would've laughed as well, but then a commotion from further down the road caught my eye. The streetlights were dim in this area, but I recognized it as the street where the Thriftway was located. Right beside it was The Lodge, a restaurant that Charlie and I frequent in, and a sporting goods store was on the other side. They were all closed due to the late hour.

"What's that?" I asked automatically, quickly finishing Frank using the makeshift bandage.

"What's what?" parroted Rachel. She tiwsted and turned to see where I was looking at, but her baffled face told me that she wasn't seeing anything. Still, I was certain that I saw something from that general area so, with a mumbled "be right back," I jumped off the truck and ran towards where I saw the commotion.

The place was eerily silent when I came to it. I stood there, in the middle of the road, my senses heightened and my body tensed for sudden movement. It was then I realized that I more or less have just walked into a trap, what with me in clear view of any attacker and with no place to hide behind. There was a trash can a few steps back, but I strongly doubt I can use that to my advantage.

A scuffle of hooves and smothered growls caught my attention, and I pivoted on my foot to face the alleyway between The Lodge and Thriftway. Instinctively I took a step forward to investigate, but then I thought about my previous track record with alleyways. There could be a hellhound in there and this time, Frank won't be able to save me.

'Snap out of it, Bella,' a voice in my head chided. 'You're strong and courageous in your own right. You don't need someone like Frank to kick a monster's butt for you.'

Yeah, but it would be wonderful if I had help.

I took a deep breath as I steeled myself. I have to do this. I mean, a monster wasn't ensured to be the welcoming committee. It could just be a stray dog or something, battling with another stray dog for... a bone. Oh, who was I kidding? Of course it was a monster? Why else would I be worked up like this? My instincts were telling me that a monster was in the near vicinity.

I stepped into the shadowed alleyway with the slightest hint of fear, my upper body poised to shoot an arrow at a moment's notice while my lower body was ready to dodge at the smallest movement of attack.

"Who's there?" I demanded huskily. "Show yourself or I'll shoot."

It was stupid of me to announce myself like that. I regret that now since something large, dark and hairy - not mention sharp, if the two horns were anything to go by - had smashed into me and caged me against the wall. Luckily, I was thin enough to not be pierced by either horns, but I was unable to move. Yes, I was very familiar with a Minotaur's horns, having battled with it (and the rest of the minotaur's body) back when I was still schooling in Sacagawea High.

The monster's fetid breath eveloped my entire body and it was all I could do to get enough breath to think properly - screaming would just get me nowhere.

"Bella!" Edward shouted. He was looking at me with abject horror. "What are you doing here?"

"What am I doing here?" I repeated incredulously. "What are you doing here? Get away before you get hurt!"

Edward sent me a superior look. "Er," he said oh-so-eloquently, "I'm not the one caged by the half-bull creature."

I really did not appreciate his sarcasm. If he was insisting on staying, then the least he could do was help, assuming he was the one the Minotaur was battling with previously before I barged in. Some hero I was.

"The Minotaur took me by surprise," I told Edward. "So, a little help please?"

I didn't know what I was expecting from Edward. Any normal mortal would never be able to battle against a Minotaur unscathed. In fact, any normal mortal won't be able to see any kinds of monsters in the first place because of the Mist, so the point was moot. But Edward - dear, dear Edward - was smart. He threw a pretty large stone (as in boulder size) at the Minotaur. I briefly wondered where he got that might piece of rock.

The two brawling men collapsed on the ground with a loud thud, and I swear the pavement below them gave way.

Taking advantage of the monster's momentary distraction, I got to my handsand knees and searched half-blindedly for my bow. The quiver of arrows were still strapped to my back, and my muscles hurt from where it had been wedged between my back and the wall.

I felt the unmistakeable curve of the bow, and I cried with joy as I flinchingly stood to my fullest height. My joy was short-lived, however, when I realized that my precious bow was splintered into three parts. Only a thin thread of wood was holding it together.

A piercing scream of anger distrupted the staring contest tdward and the Minotaur were having. Really, I can't let them have all the fun.

'Damn Minotaur,' I thought furiously, 'who gives it the right to destroy my bow?' Feeling righteous rage well up inside me, I reminded myself that I was not a cowardly person. I was a half-blood, a demigod, a hero. And if you could describe a hero with just one word, that would be brave. Daring. Courageous.

Grabbing hold of my drumsticks, I clicked them together and in an instant, two knives were in my hands instead of the musical apparatus. I reached behind me and fingered an arrow. "You have messed with the wrong demigoddess, Minotaur," I hissed before throwing a well-aimed arrow. It pierced the monster's brawny forearm.

That was when it came charging.

"Oh, Styx," I cursed. I raised my two knives in a battle pose, my knees bent and my legs tight in suspense, ready to jump out of the way when the half-man, half-bull creature was near enough. I counted to three. "One..." The Minotaur came running. "Two..." The space between us was lessening considerably. "Three!" I jumped out of the way, sticking both of my knives out to pierce its body as I did so.

I had drawn blood, and it spattered all over me. It soaked my hands, the sleeves of my clothes, my face and my hair. The Minotaur had yelped loudly, uttering a guttural cry. I did too, when the force of its tackle vibrated to up my arm. But I couldn't let myself think of the pain. I had a battle to win. This was not the first time I've battled a Minotaur and it would not be my last. There was still Aphrodite's words to consider; I still needed to find my Mr. Right, to start out my legendary love story and meet my father when he demands me to stop dating the guy. I still had a lot to live for.

I positioned myself again to meet the Minotaur's tackle. I waited five seconds before it came rushing to me again. This time, I was both ready and dreading the arrival, knowing that with the force the bull was going at, another collision might rip my arms out of its sockets. 'And I couldn't live without my arms,' I thougth wildly. 'How am I supposed to eat? To write? To press the button of my stereo?'

It turned out that my worries were groundless, seeing as Edward chose this moment gain my attention. And the manner that he did it was either incredibly foolish or incredibly brave. Either way, I found it hot. Seeing Edward Cullen meet the Minotaur halfway and push it to the ground in an immense heap of muscles and brawn? To witness him battle with it, in the process showcasing his incredible speed and strength?

Yes, very hot indeed.

My knives fell slack in my grip. Since when was a mortal that strong? Hold up a moment - was Edward even a mortal? He was able to handle celestial bronze after all, and he could see monsters. Plus, the strength and speed he clearly had was more than double than the strongest human alive can ever achieve. A worrisome thought wandered into my mind: What was Edward? Was this the secret he and his family were hiding? Were they...monsters of some kind?

"Edward?" I gasped. It was a thoughtless move from me, since this managed to distract Edward from the death grip he had on the Minotaur. The monster, taking advantage of the sudden looseness of the manacles around its neck and torso, stood up with grace that was uncharacteristic with its kind. Buckling, it threw Edward off, leaving him to lie defeated on the muddy ground. He was covered in blood, I saw that much, but I wasn't sure if it was his or the Minotaur's.

Speaking of the Minotaur... The monster seeked me out and, seeing that I was standing virtually alone and in a defenseless position, came charging towards me - again.

I thought fast. With a heavy grunt, I threw my throwing knife at its chest. It became imbedded in its skin; it jutted out like a third horn, which was probably a bad thing since it was six, five, four feet away from me. Three, two, one... I scrambled out of the way with barely enough time to spare. Hurriedly getting back up to my feet, I gripped the hilt of my saxe knife with both hands and prepared to use it like a broadsword. Swordfighting was not one of my strengths, but a demigod's gotta do what a demigod's gotta do.

The Minotaur came rushing towards me again and I grazed its torso as I jumped out of the way. I heard the monster yelp out again when Edward tackled it to the ground once more. Using the momentum of the saxe knife, I spun to pierce its back just in time before it was out of reach. More blood rushed out of the new wound, caoting it's furry back. It was the last straw for the monster because at that very moment, like crumbling sand, it disintegrated with the wind.

The first non-gibberish thought I had was to check up on Edward. I can't have another friend severely injured.

The second non-gibberish thought, once he had assured me that he was fine and injury free, was to ask for help regarding Frank.

The third was the fact that two monsters had been after me: the first one had kidnapped my father and the battle with the second was in plain view of a mortal - at least, I thought Edward was a mortal. I wasn't so sure of it now.

"Bella," he asked me as we walked together to my truck. He had told me that he had a basic knowledge of First Aid, what with his father being a doctor and all. I had slapped myself on the forehead for forgetting about Dr. Cullen. "What just happened back there?"

I shivered unconsciously. "Alleyways and I don't quite mix" was my dry reply, but when he sent me a pointed look that I just couldn't ignore, I sighed and told him that I'd explain everything to him once Frank was safe. Of course, he would have to explain some things to me as well, such as the fact he could see monsters despite the Mist.

Edward had looked at me strangely upon mentioning that, and it was with a resigned demeanor that he nodded his acquiesce. "Let me take you home," he said. "My dad can fix Frank up, and then you can tell me why you're up at this time of night, battling deformed animals wearing a ripped set of pajamas."
Right, Edward was such a comedian.

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