Percy didn’t know the target’s name, only his codename. “Heron,” he repeated to himself. He’d received the letter this morning. A scrap of parchment tied to the general’s hawk. A simple scrap of paper delivered to him via bird and now someone was going to die. An important councilman of Miloria was going to die, he reminded himself.
A scrap from a bird and now he was on the roof of Miloria’s safehouse in the countryside. He knew that’s where the Queen’s War Council meets, so he figured that’s where Heron would be.
Fortunately for him, the War Council spoke only in code. He scanned the conversation, listening for the magic password.
“I simply won’t allow it, Robin,” the Queen said to her board.
“My Lady-” Robin protested.
“No,” she snapped. She was quiet for a moment. “I would like to hear from Heron.”
Percy’s attention came into focus. He waited for Heron to speak.
“I think it would be in our best interest to bring the discovered men home. They’ve done their duty and it is time they return to Miloria,” Heron stated, calmly.
Hey, wait a second- Percy thought, dropping down onto the thin ledge under the window. Slowly as he could manage, he leaned down to look through the window. He scanned the room. He spotted the Queen, a few councilmen he’d recognized from his intelligence missions before. But there was someone new, Heron. The conversation inside continued as Percy attempted to catch his breath.
It was Princess Annabeth. Heron was Princess Annabeth. Princess Annabeth, the Queen’s sole heir. Princess Annabeth, the future Queen of Miloria. Princess Annabeth, his ex-fiancée. And now I’m supposed to kill her?
“This probably couldn’t get any worse,” he grumbled to himself.
The meeting had adjourned. The various councilmen were saying their goodbyes. The kissed Princess Annabeth’s hand and Princess Annabeth looked pleasant, but Percy could read her deeper than that. She was bored out of her mind.
And then it got worse.
Princess Annabeth’s eyes met Percy’s. They widened as Percy’s did. He jumped out of her sight, nearly falling from the ledge.
“ Milady, are you alright? You look as though you’ve seen a ghost,” her handmaiden - Piper, Percy remembered - asked.
“I think I may have,” the Princess responded. It didn’t sound reassuring.
“Daughter,” Queen Athena beckoned before Piper had a chance to counter. “I wanted to thank you.”
“I always figured you would eventually join me, but I never imagined it would take you nearly five years to get over that Cethanian boy.”
“Yes, mother. I’m ashamed to say I was quite taken with him,” Annabeth stated, stiffly.
“Yes,” Athena mumbled. She was getting distracted.
Percy could practically hear Annabeth’s eye-roll, just as she always had when her mother began to ignore her.
He peeked back through the window, a little surprised to find Annabeth, staring at him immediately. He’d hoped that if he ever saw her again, however unlikely it’d be, she’d be pleased to see him. Happy that he wasn’t dead after all.
The expression on her face now, after thinking he was dead for five years, was one of pure rage.