“Really?” Josie asked, twisting toward her. “What could that mean, though? Ares died before all this stuff happened with the Titans.”
“Shit, the options are endless,” I said, brows knitting together as I stared at Alex and Josie. Both of them were messing with their hair. “But Ares knew that Perses had been released. He could’ve foreseen something like this happening—Perses going back to free the others.” As much as I hated saying the next part, I had to. “We know Ares had a relationship with Erik. What we don’t know is all that Ares had told him.”
“That’s a good point.” Alex rocked slightly, from left to right. “But even if Ares filled his head with a ton of nonsense, he has to understand this isn’t going to end well.”
“You’d be surprised by how effective nonsense can be…” Brows lifting, I watched Alex and Josie twist their hair. I couldn’t get over the fact that both of them were literally doing the same thing. “Okay. You guys are freaking me out.”
They stopped and looked at one another, not mirror images, but way too damn similar. It was unsettling as fuck.
Aiden must’ve seen it too, because he blinked as he shook his head.
“What?” Alex demanded, dropping her hands to her lap. “What are we doing? We’re just sitting here, waiting for you two to get to the damn point.”
Josie’s grin spread.
“You guys have very similar mannerisms,” I pointed out. “I don’t know how you two haven’t noticed it.”
Josie lowered her hands as her lips pursed. “Well, now we will.”
Tipping her head to the side, Alex stared at Josie. “It’s because we’re awesome.”
“Okay,” I sighed, moving on. “I think we just need to keep an eye on Erik. As Aiden said, there’s something off about him, and it has nothing to do with his burgeoning abilities.”
“He doesn’t have an effect on any of us, right?” Josie asked. “I wasn’t around him long enough to figure that out.”
I nodded. “It seems to only affect mortals, but then again, he hasn’t been around a lot of us. We really don’t know.”
“That’s why we should limit his contact.”
Alex nodded. “I think that’s a smart idea, but we can’t hold him captive in that room.”
“Well, Alex and I are only here for a couple more months,” Aiden said, bringing up the fact their time up here was limited. “Alex and I can keep an eye on him until then.”
Alex murmured an agreement, and while that was all good, I was still very uneasy about Erik being here. Could just have been the fact I thought the guy was an asshole.
Or something simple—the fact that he was Ares’s son.
Or it could have been more.
Either way, I did not trust the guy as far as I could punt kick him.
“Well, while we’re all here, you might as well tell them what Apollo said earlier.” Josie rested her cheek on her elbow. She wasn’t looking at me as she spoke. Her gaze was focused on a painting of one of the Muses behind me. “They need to know exactly what we’re dealing with.”
“What?” Alex asked, sitting up like steel had just been dropped down her spine.
Aiden’s gaze sharpened. “Why do I have a feeling whatever you’re about to tell me is just going to irritate me?”
“Because this is the world we live in,” I replied, smirking. “Apollo confirmed some pretty bad news. The demigods’ abilities cannot be unlocked…organically, at least, since there’s not six of them. Demeter and Poseidon would have to do what Apollo did, which would weaken them. Apollo doesn’t think that will happen.”
Josie’s nose wrinkled, but she didn’t say anything.
Alex was quiet for a moment, and then she all but exploded, shooting to her feet. “Then what in the hell are we supposed to do about the Titans? Josie is the only fully charged demigod—”
“Actually, that’s not true. There’s us,” Aiden pointed out.
“But we don’t have icons or whatever the hell the others are supposed to find once their abilities are unlocked.” Alex started pacing. “And Erik’s abilities obviously can’t be unlocked because Ares is dead. What in the hell are we supposed to do?”
Aiden cursed under his breath as he dragged a hand over his head. “It was a long shot in the first place, having only four demigods to face off with the Titans, but now?”
“It’s not that we don’t think you aren’t badass all on your own,” Alex was quick to say to Josie, who was still focused on the painting. “But this just went from a chance in hell to a snowball’s chance in hell.”
Josie tilted her head and then she looked at me. “Wait. I have an idea. It’s kind of crazy.” She glanced at Alex and Aiden. “And it’s kind of right in front of our faces. Apollo didn’t say he asked Demeter and Poseidon, right?”
I thought back to our conversation. “No. He said he spoke to them, but he didn’t say he asked them.”
“Then I know what we need to do,” she said, meeting my gaze. “We need to ask them ourselves.”
“Ask the gods?” I repeated.
Josie nodded. “I know it sounds crazy, but what if we’re able to convince them?”
I opened my mouth, but I really had no idea what to say in response to that. Josie sounded like she was suggesting we ask Marcus if it was okay if we redecorated our rooms here. As if it was no big deal.
“What other option do we have? Look, I would love to find a way to entomb these Titans without fighting them, but so far we’re coming up with nothing.” Josie rose to her feet. “And we have to do something. I know that having three of us fully unlocked is not what we need, but it’s better than nothing and there’s only three Titans left.”
“And one of them is Cronus,” I reminded her. “You know, the Cronus.”
“I know,” she said, her gaze meeting mine as she popped her hands on her hips. “But what other choices do we have?”
“She might be onto something. Maybe you two can convince the gods to unlock their abilities,” Aiden said.
Alex had stopped pacing. She too stood with her hands on her waist. “The gods have never been all that helpful in the past. You really think we’re going to get two of them to agree to weaken themselves?”
“But things are different now,” Josie said.
Things were different now. Hell. Everything was, but would the gods really listen to us? When they never had before? But what had Apollo asked me? What would I do to make sure the world was a better place for my child?
I said anything.
Turning, I rubbed the heel of my palm over my chest. The thing was, I didn’t want Josie facing the Titans at all. We’d talked about this.
“Like I said, facing them is the last thing I want to do,” Josie repeated. “And I also know that only having the three of us is really not looking good, but we wouldn’t be alone. We have you, Seth. We have Alex and Aiden. And we have Luke.” She paused. “We even have Deacon.”
Aiden sighed. “As much as I hate having Deacon involved in something like that, he has gotten really good with the fire element. If anything, he’d definitely distract the hell out of the Titans.”
“True,” Alex laughed, but she quickly sobered. “But Cora and Gable are nowhere near ready. Not even remotely.”
“But do they have to fight the Titans? It’s something I’ve been thinking about. They have to get their icons, and maybe that’s the key.” Excitement thrummed through Josie’s tone, and I knew, once she felt like she was onto something, there was no stopping her. “We don’t know. Apollo sure as hell hasn’t told me or anyone else how exactly we entomb the Titans.”
“Even if the icons magically send the Titans to their tombs, they’re not going to stand there and let it happen,” I pointed out, my voice harsher than I intended.
“Gee, really? I thought they would get down on their knees and beg us to send them back.” Josie’s lips thinned. “But if Cora and Gable’s abilities are unlocked, then the only thing we really need to focus on is their ability to use akasha. Hand to hand combat needs to be taught, but it should be the last thing we expect them to use when fighting the Titans.”