Percy cursed to himself as he noticed the forked tongue on the old lady standing met to him at the top of the St Louis Arch. He was just thankful that Annabeth and Grover had managed to catch the previous elevator down before him. It might make this confrontation somewhat easier. The only other people on the arch with him were a family that he desperately hoped would not be harmed and a dark haired guy in an very nice three-piece suit with a green scarf draped around his neck.
Granted it was a little strange to be wearing a scarf in mid June like that but some people were cold all the time. After all, who was Percy to judge when his water powers from his father tended to come out as ice in one form or another?
His thoughts were cut short as the fat lady with the forked tongue's chihuahua jumped down and started growling and barking at him.
"Now, now, sonny," the fat lady said, "does this look like a good time? We have all these nice people here."
Percy tuned out a small child crooning to his mother about the dog as he took note of the black drool falling from its mouth. He reached for the pen form of Riptide with one hand as he his other went for his Uru dagger. Hopefully one or the other would be enough to get him out of this mess.
"Well son," the woman sighed, "if you insist."
Percy felt ice forming in his stomach in a way that had nothing to do with his powers was he asked, "Um, sis you just call that chihuahua your son?"
"Chimera, dear," the fat lady corrected, "Not a chihuahua. That's an easy mistake to make."
As she spoke the Chimera continued to bark. With each bark it grew in size until it stood taller than Percy and began to take it's true monstrous form. Percy idly noted a collar on the crature that identified it as rabid, poisonous, and fire-breathing as well as giving an extension in Tartatus to call if the beast was lost.
"Well isn't that interesting," Percy noted coolly.
The strangest thing though was not the family and park ranger that were trying frantically to escape down the fire escape stairs at the sight of the beast. It was the smartly dressed man that seemed almost amused at the sight of the creature.
The serpent-tongues woman gave a hissing laugh as she said, "Be honored, Percy Jackson. Lord Zeus rarely allows me to test a hero with one of my brood. For I am the Mother on Monsters, the terrible Echidna."
The Chimera snorted a puff of fire at Percy at his mother's declaration which annoyed Percy himself as he scowled and took out his dagger as he uncapped and revealed Riptide. He was about to retort when the well-dressed man took note of his secondary weapon and interrupted by stepping between Percy and the Chimera to get a closer look.
"I must say that is a very handsome weapon, Percy, was it? Where ever did you acquire it?" the man asked, his green eyes alight with mischief and curiosity.
"Get out of the way mortal, or you will feel my son's wrath like this miserable half-blood," Echidna sneered as the Chimera growled ominously.
What came next though was more frightening to Percy than Echidna and the Chimera put together. The pale man gave him a playful wink before turning to scowl in annoyance at both Echidna and her son. "Do you mind?" the man asked waspishly. "I am trying to have a civilized conversation here and you are both being spectacularly rude. You can get back to trying to intimidate this boy after I have spoken to him or I will deal with you personally and I assure you, madam, you will not enjoy those consequences."
Echidna's skin began to turn green and scaly as she started to assume her own true form at the insolence of this fool as she spat, "Who do you think you are? I am Echidna, wife of Typhon, mother of all monsters. I will rend the flesh from your bones and then grin them into dust."
The man could not look any more bored at her threats of he tried as he turned back to Percy and made a hand gesture asking for him to wait a moment before returning to face Echidna and the Chimera once more. "I suppose I was a bit forgetful in not introducing myself before. Allow me to correct that," be began as he clothes stated to shimmer and be replaced by and outfit of green leather with golden armor accents and a flowing forest green cape. On his head he bore a golden helmet with two nearly impossibly long horns that seemed reminiscent of giant fangs when looked at from the proper angle. "I am Loki Odinson, of Asgard, God of Lies and Mischief. And you will not interrupt my conversation again unless you want to see the full extent of the power of someone that has also born the moniker 'mother of monsters' with much more impressive results that you could ever boast you pathetic little garden snake."
"Impossible. Gods are not allowed to directly interfere with a half blood on a quest. And why would an Asgardian show an interest in a Greek half-blood?" Echidna denied.
"That is something I was here to find out until you and your mongrel decided to make a nuisance of yourself. Now you will either stand down and quietly wait your turn to speak to the boy or I will make you stand down," Loki warned as his right hand began to glow green with power.
"This will not be tolerated, Asgardian. You can not interfere, it is against the Ancient Laws," Echidna roared in anger.
"You seem to have me confused with a Greek. I can assure you I am neither bound by, nor interested in, the so-called Ancient Laws you hold yourselves to. To quote a favorite saying of mine, 'I do what I want'," Loki dismissed as he returned his attention to Percy only to have the Chimera charge him while his back was turned. Loki didn't even bother to turn around he his hand darted out in a viper-quick motion as he threw a dagger through the beast's head and ended it's life.
"Sonny!" Echidna screamed in horror as she watched her precious child crumble into golden dust.
"Consider yourself lucky that I chose to temporarily dismiss him back to Tartarus. Should he or you ever cross me again I assure you that you will both be going someplace far worse that there is no return from." Loki warned ominously.
It looked like Echidna would have dearly liked to have attacked Loki herself before she thought better of it. She was powerful, but there was no way she could stand against a god on par with the Olympians. She was not her husband, after all. "I understand, Lord Loki," she growled hatefully. "But I must still test this half-blood when you are through with him."
"That remains to be seen. But I will allow you to live at least until I an through speaking with him," Loki acknowledged sternly before relaxing his expression as he faced Percy fully and asked, "Now where were we?"
For his part Percy stood there wide-eyed and gobsmacked before falling to a knee and bowing his head as he recapped Riptide and brought his fist to his heart in a traditional Asgardian salute. "Lord Loki, I...I am honored," he said respectfully.
"I'm certain. Now get up. As much fun as watching someone bow to me can be it does not make for easy conversation and I have a few things to ask. The first being where you got that dagger in your left hand, as well as you're explaining why you, a Greek demigod apparently, called a blood oath of vengeance for you mother to me of all deities?" Loki asked
Percy looked up, his mouth dry as he recalled the prayer and sacrifice of blood he had offered up days ago at Camp Half-Blood. "Well, if my mom was right about out family history they kind of have the same answer, my Lord," Percy began.
"I'm listening," Loki replied imperially as he took careful note of the child before him. If he did not know any better he would swear the boy was a younger clone of himself with slightly more olive-tanned skin and a different shape to his nose.
"Well, my mother gave me the dagger as a coming of age present years ago. She said it was passed down in our family," Percy explained.
"I see, and how exactly did a very rare dagger that I had commissioned especially for my daughter many thousands of years ago become your family heirloom?" Loki demanded.
"Well, sir, according to my mom, we're your direct descendants. I guess I'm your however-many times great grandchild through the daughter you gave the dagger to," Percy replied nervously. Unlike Mr D, Loki presented an aura of power that demanded respect.
"I see. And what is your mother's name? It was my understanding when I deciphered your oath that she was missing?" Loki inquired.
"Sally. Sally Jackson is her name, my Lord" Percy replied hollowly as he looked at his feet.
Had he been looking up he would have seen the gosmacked look on Loki's face as he put together what his mind had been trying to deny until now. A grandchild. Hela has given me a grandchild. One that apparently is half-Olympian and thinks he is mortal. The Allfather will not like this news. Thor, Sigyn, and Mother should be pleased, though, Loki thought to himself before stepping closer and reaching out to lift the distraught boy's chin so that he could look him in the eye.
By the nine those eyes are like looking into a mirror, just like Hela's own. Daughter why did you not tell me? I would have helped you to protect him, Loki thought as he said, "That's enough of that 'Lord' nonsense, child. I will not have one of my line speaking to me so formally away form the court of the Realm Eternal. Since I am uncertain of how distantly we are related," he lied," you can simply refer to me as 'Grandfather.'"
Percy still looked nervous as he nodded and replied, "Okay, Grandfather."
"Now, can you explain what has happened to you mother and why you apparently have the King of Olympus giving permission of high-level monsters to test you?" Loki asked.
Percy nodded again as he explained the quest to reclaim Zeus' Master Bolt and the apparent demise of Sally Jackson at the Minotaur's hand. He discussed his vow to find and return her from the Underworld and all that he and his friends had faced thus far.
"I see. Well know that you have my blessing, grandson. You will be able to control seidr and ferret out lies from truth with no effort," Loki said.
"But I can already do that. I mean, mom taught me to use seidr to defend myself and I could always tell if someone is lying," Percy replied, confused.
Loki looked impressed for a moment before he smiled amicable and replied, "Then those gifts will be enhanced by my blessing. Now, you said that you father was Poseidon? What powers did you gain from him?"
"Well I can control water and it makes me heal faster, especially salt water. And for some reason I'm really good at making ice," Percy answered with a shrug.
"That you most likely get from your Asgardian heritage," Loki responded after a moment to think about the ability.
"Huh?" Percy asked.
"Percy, I have but one daughter, the goddess Hela. Her mother was the sorceress Angrboda, a shape-shifting Jotun maiden who also bore my sons Fenrir and Jormungandr. You likely get your ice affinity from her," Loki explained. He was somewhat disappointed to note a lack of recognition from Percy as Loki used Hela's name. Clearly the girl had been hiding her identity from even her own son. Well that just added to the list of things he would be speaking with her about. Right behind not telling him about his grandson and her apparently having some kind of tryst with, the last Loki bothered to check, a very MARRIED Olympian of the Seas.
"So I have another god on mom's side of the family?" Percy asked in awe.
Loki laughed as he replied, "You have many. Asgard does not discount family as the Greeks tend to do. We may fight and squabble but we are still family. I can assure you that, at the very least, my bother and my mother would be ecstatic to meet you some day. And I imagine my wife, Sigyn, will be interested in meeting her new step-grandson. We do not often have additions to the family in the Realm eternal. We are not known for siring children we do not intend to claim if we can help it."
That made Percy feel oddly warm. He had been railing against the fact that Poseidon had not claimed him until he was needed to retrieve the Master Bolt in his mind for days now. But here was Loki, a god his mother had always told him should be respected, not only claiming him but calling him family the second he became aware of him. It was clear the Norse gods did things very differently than the Greeks.
The bonding moment was cut short as Echidna screeched, "This is an outrage! A mixed child like that should be destroyed immediately it is an abomination!"
"You dare say such things about some with royal blood, MY blood, in his veins? A member of the House of Odin no matter how many generations removed?" Loki demanded darkly. "I do believe I warned you about crossing me again, beast," he added with a wicked sneer.
Echidna realized her mistake too late as her serpentine eyes widened as she made a dash for the same fire escape door the human patrons had used earlier. She didn't make it three steps before she was engulfed in green flames and vanished with an agonized screech.
"What did you do with her?" Percy asked after a moment.
"She is currently visiting a relative of your far less forgiving than I am. I get the impression Hela will want to have words with that irritating gnat," Loki replied with a sly grin.
And in Nifelheim, a cruel smile to match Loki's adorned Hela's face as she looked into the horrified eyes of Echidna. "So, you think that Perseus Jackson, my son is an abomination that should be destroyed?" Hela demanded.
And in that moment Echidna understood real fear as the magnitude of what she heard hit her full force. That boy had been no half blood. He was a full godling and Zeus had sent her on a fool's errand to attack him. And now she would be paying the price for Zeus' folly. She should have known better than to deal with any Olympian.