(Interlude) In Which Park Sooyoung Sets the Scene

I fall, you and I collide
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Hello everyone, very long story short, it's been a year since I touched this story. I spent time studying abroad at Seoul National University and had the time of my life hanging out in Korea with my friends. I came home with way too many albums, a teddy bear from Jeju island and one of those cute acrylic cube souvenirs from the Hybe Museum. And, well, then I had my final semester in college and graduated just a couple of weeks ago. Now that I've caught you all up on my life, I'll just quickly explain about this story going forward. 

Part of the reason for the long wait was that I didn't feel confident in continuing the current POV for the interlude, and I just didn't have the time to rework it into something a bit more familiar for me to write. Welp, I've finally up and done it so you'll notice that the last two chapters have been deleted and re-worked into one. Thank you all for waiting and still leaving lovely words of encouragement despite my absence, you'll be happy to know that for the near future I'm back to writing and developing this world so please look forward to this summer story.

-Drache

 

When Sooyoung opened her eyes, all she could see was darkness.

She couldn’t move, though she could feel ropes restraining her wrists and ankles. Couldn’t speak, someone had put duct tape over . Hades, she couldn’t even think properly, her brain was all foggy and she couldn’t remember how she got into this situation. The last time she’d felt like this was the morning after the victory party they’d had after defeating Nyx. Not even the Dionysus’ kids “cure” had been able to break that particular hangover.

The only things Sooyoung did know? She was tied to a chair with a blindfold over her eyes, and wherever she’d been placed smelled strangely like a dog kennel.

Well, this wasn’t how I pictured this quest going.

Sooyoung pulled at the ropes around her wrists, testing their strength. Very few things could stand up to the raw power of a demigod, and yet she couldn’t break free. She struggled for a bit, a familiar anger rising in like bile. Swallowing it back, she tried to calm herself down, thinking back to her training. If she allowed herself to lose control, things could end badly.

Her shoulder throbbed, and she recalled the last thing she saw before getting her kicked. A giant furry beast ripping into her and stepping over her body to get to her friends. Oh gods. Her friends.

Joohyun! Seulgi! Seungwan! Yeri! Panic rose within her and she had to force herself to breathe. She couldn’t afford to make this situation worse. Damn it Park Sooyoung, you’re a daughter of Ares for ’s sake! You’re one of the Five, chosen by the gods to help defeat Nyx. You’ve been training for years with Joohyun, what has she always drilled in your head?

One: if you can’t see, listen. Sooyoung swiveled her head and took a deep breath, focusing on her surroundings. She was no Seungwan, who had heightened senses thanks to her Artemis blood, but she got by. Observing could often mean the difference between life and death in a fight, but it was hard to maintain concentration sometimes when there were so many things that needed to get beaten up. Still, after a heart pounding beat of silence, she heard what sounded like shuffling, followed by the occasional grunt and a deep, growly breath. She tried to determine how many of her captors there were, and judging by the heavy footfalls, there were at least two, maybe three bad guys.

The air conditioner behind her, sending a wave of freezing cold air into the room that made Sooyoung shiver unconsciously. The air carried a scent with it, one that she would recognize almost anywhere. The smell of wet earth, body odor and fur.

The Sons of Lycaon.

Damn dog beasts. She’d seen neither hide nor hair od them since the fight with Nyx down in the Labyrinth. Pun aside, she assumed they’d all gone into hiding once their master had been defeated. Obviously, that was no longer the case.

To her left, there was the sound of a door swinging open, and another set of footfalls reached her ears. These ones seemed human, or at least someone capable of wearing shoes.

“Take off her blindfold,” a male voice said.

There’s a grunt of affirmation and then Sooyoung felt her blindfold being tugged down, finally giving her a glimpse of her surroundings. Not that there was much to see. She’d been shoved in a small room with concrete floors and plain gray walls. A second passed as she squinted up at the fluorescent light hanging from the ceiling and then a furry paw reached around to rip the duct tape off .

“Motherer!” Sooyoung couldn’t help but spit out as the duct tape fell to the floor, probably taking a few layers of her lips with it.

“Ares children, always so crass,” the voice chided.

“It’s a hereditary thing, I’m told,” she bit back, running her tongue across her lips and feeling a few beads of blood form in the cracks. She pulled against her restraints and waited for her vision to fully come into focus.

There’s a man—in his early fifties if she had to make a guess –sitting behind a small metal table. Olive skin, salt and pepper hair that was just barely starting to recede around his temples. His eyes were a cold, calculating blue that seemed to follow even the slightest movement she made. He wore an expensive navy blue suit that just screamed “entitled ” to Sooyoung. It reminded her a bit of the glimpses she’d gotten of the gods in the past, just without the divine aura. God or no god though, he was someone important, of that much she was sure.

“Hello Park Sooyoung,. You may call me Garou, I’ll be asking you some questions.” Sooyoung couldn’t place his accent, it sounded like a mix of French, Australian and Greek. All she knew was that it made him sound like even more of a douche.

He folded his hands in front of himself, as though he talked to people like her on a regular basis. But she wasn’t a regular person. She was a daughter of Area, one of the Five spoken about in the Great Prophecy. No one was like her.

A whiff of his cologne reached her as he leaned forward, strong despite the air conditioning blowing in the opposite direction. A heady, woodsy scent that reminded Sooyoung of the forests surrounding Camp Half-Blood. Expensive, and honestly a little strong for her taste, but she supposed anything was better than the stench pouring off the Sons of Lycaon that she could still hear pacing around behind her.

Sooyoung craned her head around as far as the restraints would allow so she could get a peek at her monstrous guards. Three of them, all hulking muscles and greasy shaggy fur. One of them, with matted grey fur and piercing yellow eyes, was absolutely massive, probably three times the size of the twins she and Joohyun had faced back when they had rescued Seulgi. She definitely couldn’t take them on in her current state. The other two, both with shorter brown fur, looked a bit more manageable.

She recognized them as they stomped further into view. The twins, Minjun and Renjun! She thought they’d killed them. No, they’d absolutely killed them back at the school, she remembered seeing Minjun’s desiccated body turning to dust after Joohyun had literally the life force out of him. So how in Hades were they standing in front of her, looking very much alive?

Garou raked his gaze over her armor, crusted over with mud and dried blood. Most of it wasn’t hers, but Sooyoung could admit that she’d looked better.

“Water?” he asks, and she’s embarrassed to admit how desperately she nodded in response. Her father would be so disappointed in her. Not that he ever bothered to talk to her outside of their one interaction at the Big House after the battle in the Labyrinth. But as all children of Ares were taught as soon as they could hold a weapon properly: Never show the enemy your weakness.

Garou beckoned one of the guards over and Sooyoung could see a silver ring shaped like the head of a wolf sitting on his ring finger. The bigger Son padded over, carrying a water bottle with a tiny plastic straw poking through the lid in his massive paw. The visual almost made her laugh out loud with how the giant man-beast in front of her was gently clutching the bottle. Her amusement didn’t last long though as he got into her face and growled, his rancid breath causing bile to well up in . Sooyoung had smelled a lot of things in her life, but by the gods did that top the list.

Instead, she focused on down a few gulps of water, chasing away some of the exhaustion that sat in her bones like cement and made even breathing problematic. She felt like she did after staying in one of her berserker rages for too long, but there was something distinctly magical about her tiredness that had her wondering what kind of spell she’d been put under.

I probably lost control. Joohyun warned her not to rely too much on her Ares powers, but after they had gotten ambushed Sooyoung lost it. She couldn’t let it happen again, when she lost control of her rage then her friends had to pull her back and it wasn’t a pleasant experience for anyone.

As she replenished her dehydrated body, she used the time to inspect her surroundings more closely. There was a window to her right that was completely dark, so either they’d blacked it out to keep her from discerning her location, or it was nighttime. Maybe both. The only source of light came from the Sons’ yellow eyes and the fluorescent lamp swinging above their heads. It wasn’t easy to smell anything outside of Garou’s cologne and that persistent wet dog smell of the Sons of Lycaon, but occasionally Sooyoung thought she smelled burning wood and something she could only describe as death. A scent not unlike the one Joohyun gave off if she channeled her powers. Stillness. An absence of life.

Was she here? Had they captured Joohyun and the others too?

Garou spoke and jolted Sooyoung back into the moment. “Ah, that reminds me, would you like me to call you Park Sooyoung, Sooyoung, or Joy?”

She started a bit at the casual use of her English name. She could count on one hand the number of people she’d told it to, and none of them were in this room. She narrowed her eyes, how could this man have known something so private about herself?

“Sooyoung is fine,” she replied, trying not to let it show that the previous comment had shaken her. Again, her father would probably disown her if he had been here to see how poorly she was playing the part of a captured soldier. “But I think I’d prefer if you untied me.”

“What, and have you summon your weapon and break out? I think not,” Garou scoffed, acting as though it was an insult to his intelligence to even suggest such a thing. Sooyoung tilted her head. Eh, it was worth a shot, some monsters are as dumb as a pile of bricks.

Sooyoung decided to ask another question. “Are we still in Utak?” No response this time. “Are we even on this plane of existence?” The last thing she wanted to be back in the Underworld. She was glad that they had gone down there to get some answers from Joohyun’s dad and everything, but she still occasionally had nightmares about the place. The only part of that trip that she found fun was playing catch with Cerberus.

“I can’t tell you that little demigod,” Garou wagged his finger mockingly. He was looking down on her, Sooyoung just knew it. She was seventeen, but to him she was probably little more than an untrained pup.

“Why not? It’s not like I’m going anywhere,” she tried to pull her arms up as far as they’d go in the restraints to make a point. She couldn’t break free, couldn’t use her powers to summon her spear. Hell, she didn’t even know where she was or how many other Sons could be out there guarding her.

“When I’m done questioning you we can talk about letting you go.”

“I haven’t done anything wrong!”

Garou outright laughed at that statement, a low-pitched bark that made the ears on the guards stand upright. “Haven’t done anything wrong? My dear Sooyoung, you come onto my land with your demigod friends, inflict millions of dollars in damages to a protected national park. There is a crater thirty feet wide that your Dawnbreaker friend blew in the ground! Ares children, always so disillusioned.”

Oh. Well there was that she supposed. Sooyoung didn’t remember anything after being knocked out, but she did remember that. Look, Seulgi’s powers were incredibly strong and she still hadn’t quite mastered them. Joohyun and Seungwan were helping her with specialized training but was there wasn’t exactly a manual on “How to Train your Dawnbreaker.”

“Look Garou. We were on a quest. You’ve heard of us, obviously, so you know what we’re trying to save. The fate of humanity is at risk until Nyx is silenced for good. You’re looking at one of the five people who can bring this all to an end. So why don’t you Let. Me. Go.”

“Not a chance, little demigod. And before you start swearing like a sailor again let me remind you that being belligerent won’t get you anywhere. I have all the time in the world. Losing your temper won’t solve anything.”

He knew. He knew

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Drachesoul
It's my birthday this week and I finally felt inspired enough to write a bit. Being featured is the best present an author could ask for. Enjoy, I still don't have a concrete update schedule :D
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