- This article is about the book. For the actual tower, see Nero's Tower.
On February 14, 2020, hypable.com published the exclusive first two chapters from the book. A sample was added on Apple Books on September 25, 2020, which gave us the third chapter of the book. On September 29 and October 2, 2020, information has been released about the book by Rick Riordan himself. Robbie Daymond will narrate the audiobook.
The Barnes & Noble edition of the book includes a poster of various monsters Apollo encounters in the series.
At last, the breathtaking, action packed-finale of the #1 bestselling Trials of Apollo is here!
Will the Greek God Apollo, cast down to earth in the pathetic mortal form of Lester Papadopolous, finally regain his place on Mount Olympus? Lester’s demigod friends at Camp Jupiter just helped him survive attacks from bloodthirsty ghouls, an evil Roman king and his army of the undead, and the lethal emperors Caligula and Commodus. Now the former god and his demigod master Meg must follow a prophecy uncovered by Ella the harpy. Lester‘s final challenge will be at the Tower of Nero, back in New York. Will Meg have a last showdown with her father? Will this helpless form of Apollo face his arch-nemesis, Python? Who will be on hand at Camp Half-Blood to assist? These questions and more will be answered in this book that all demigods are eagerly awaiting.
After spending six months as a teenager named Lester, Apollo is now reaching his endgame (thank the gods). The battle for Camp Jupiter is over. New Rome is safe. Tarquin and his army of the undead have been defeated. And somehow Apollo has made it out alive.
But though the battle may have been won, the war is far from over.
Now Apollo and Meg must get ready for the final - and, let's face it, probably fatal - adventure. They're heading back to where their troubles began: Manhattan. They must face the last emperor, the terrifying Nero, and destroy him once and for all.
Can Apollo find his godly form again? Will Meg be able to face up to her troubled past?
Reunion on a Train
Apollo and Meg McCaffrey are in the quiet car of an Amtrak pulling out of Union Station in Washington, D.C. in order to head to New York City. Apollo sees an Amphisbaena, a snake with a head on each end, get on the train and stares at them. He tries to tell Meg about it, but she orders him to shush. The Amphisbaena is still on the train as they reach Philadelphia. Apollo goes over to the creature under the guise of using the bathroom and as he gets close, it grabs him. It then recites the next part of the terza rima prophecy they received from Tyson and Ella.
The son of Hades, cavern-runners’ friend,
Must show the secret way unto the throne.
On Nero's own your lives do now depend.
After doing so, it snaps out of a trance and is shot with an arrow and killed. Apollo turns around to see a Germani named Gunther, and a Gaul holding Meg at sword point. It is revealed that Meg and the Gaul, Luguselwa, know one another.
They are taken to the concessions car where another half-dozen Germani are waiting and the two are put in a booth. However, before entering, Lu tells Apollo and Meg to use the bathroom when they enter New York. Lu explains that Nero used the Oracle of Delphi to see when they would reach the city and put teams on every train station, bus station, and airport to catch them when they do. As they cross the state line, Lu escorts them to the bathroom, revealing that she is helping them to escape. Lu and Meg fight in a mock duel to show the Germani that they are still rivals while that is not the case. While the two fight, Apollo holds the door of the cabin shut, and with his newly acquired bow from Camp Jupiter, manages to disconnect the cabin they jumped into from the Germani's. They walk through the maintenance tunnels to avoid the cameras, which Nero has access to. Apollo realizes Meg was trained by the Gaul, but still questions her loyalty. After they find a manhole cover to escape from, they emerge into a storm-drenched alley on the Upper East Side. As they debate their next move on where to go to avoid Nero, Meg realizes where they are and tells them where to go. Apollo is hesitant and tries to talk her out of it not wanting to put anyone else in danger. He speaks with the Arrow of Dodona, who sides with Meg, and he reluctantly agrees to go to Percy Jackson for help.
Visiting the Jackson-Blofis Residence and Going to Camp Half-Blood
Apollo, Meg, and Lu reach Percy's house. Upon speaking to Sally Jackson, who takes them in, they are informed that Percy, Annabeth, and Grover have already gone up to the West Coast. Paul watches Estelle jump around with excitement. They offer their guests to stay for dinner and they accept. Apollo selects dry clothing while Paul explains the effort Percy put into getting his high school diploma. This makes Apollo think of all the events that happened at Camp Jupiter, Camp Half-Blood, the Waystation, and Aeithales, and wonders how and if he can repay them for their kindness towards him. After he changes, he joins the others for lasagna. Meg tells Sally and Paul about their quest so far and their hosts ask them about their next move. They suggest calling for help, but Lu mentions that a full scale invasion is exactly what Nero is expecting. She instead suggests they form a raid team of demigods and use Apollo and Meg’s false surrender as a distraction, otherwise Nero will order his forces to destroy the city and anywhere else that harbored them. They agree to the plan and when asking how she will convince Nero she is still on his side, Lu suggests Apollo pushes her off a roof.
The following morning after breakfast, they head out and find a ten-story building that is under construction across the street from one of Nero's buildings and head for the roof. Lu explains that they should run out first with her just a few steps behind. Apollo will hide as she and Meg have a mock fight and just when it looks like she is going to kill Meg, Apollo will come up behind and push her off. When he questions what they do once they surrender, Lu explains the holding cells are close to the vault where Nero keeps his Fasces, and Apollo realizes that they can take him out. however Lu says it is guarded by something. She gives something to Meg and tells them to get to camp fast and form an infiltration team before they put their charade in motion. They run out and Apollo hides as Meg and Lu fight. However, it starts to become to real when Lu stabs Meg's thigh. Apollo gets his godly strength back and tosses Lu several blocks where she falls on a car. They make their way to the ground again as Meg reveals Lu gave her a coin for the Chariot of Damnation. The Gray Sisters arrive and, after convincing them he is Apollo, the sisters let them in and drive them to camp at warp speed. As they drive, they reveal they have information for the pair and recite the next three lines of the prophecy:
A dare reveals the path that was unknown
And bears destruction; lion, snake-entwined
Or else the princeps never be o'erthrown
They reach camp and he sees Dionysus petting Peleus on Half-Blood Hill. They approach the god of wine and he hugs his older brother while saying their father punished someone even worse than him. Afterwards, as Dionysus walks Meg and Apollo around camp, they see the camp filled with newly discovered demigods as they head to the Big House to meet with Will and Nico. Will excitedly hugs his father as Apollo tears up, when Nico asks if Jason is truly dead, Meg gives him her hand and he senses something that scares him before running off. Moments later, Apollo passes out.
Omens and Planning
Apollo dreams of Lu being brought before Nero as he addresses eleven of his adopted demigod children. He speaks of an ultimatum for Apollo, that he either surrenders or New York burns in forty-eight hours. The dream then shifts to Python slithering underground and taunting him. Apollo wakes up the following morning to in his cabin, been left alone with Seymour, who was placed in his bed by Dionysus. This causes him to jump as Dionysus appears and takes Seymour back to the Big House. Will then emerges from the shower and informs them that the other Cabin 7 Campers went for a hike. After he changes into new clothes, they exit and are greeted by his children who introduce him to three new campers who are all his children, Jerry, Gracie, and Yan. They head to breakfast and Apollo notices Nico sitting next to Mr. D and talking. Will then explains Nico has developed post traumatic stress disorder after Jason’s death, as he was still processing his sister’s death. He's also been hearing voices. Austin and Kayla reveal they know about Nero and want to help Apollo defeat him. Just then Dionysus calls Apollo and Will to his table. Meg joins them and they start talking about the prophecy and what they have to do. Dionysus shows them a letter he received regarding Nero’s threat and Meg reveals the plan they made with Lu, to which Dionysus is skeptical. They recite the lines of the prophecy and Nico realizes he must ask his “new friends” for help and spends the day gathering supplies for them before they go meet up with Rachel Elizabeth Dare. Meg and Apollo are given the day to rest before heading out.
Apollo spends a part of his day wandering the camp and observing the things going on. He watches Meg spend the day with her siblings in the Demeter's Cabin who are planting squash. His underlying goal of these rounds is to see if there is any possibility of not executing Lu's plan. Apollo first talks with Sherman Yang from the Ares' Cabin who tells him a frontal attack would be suicide. Sherman also says he doubts there would be any secret entrances and that if there were, they would be riddled with all sorts of traps. Apollo then asks if there would be some sort of doomsday device that has Greek Fire. Sherman says this is a possible and if Nero does own one it would most likely be underground. Apollo ends the conversation when Sherman asks when they're all going into battle, and heads towards the Athena's Cabin. He asks the head counselor if he has any intel on the tower and how they can attack it. Malcolm tells Apollo he can get this information for him... however it would take four weeks. With this, Apollo exits the Athena Cabin in tears. At lunch time, Apollo decides to talk to the Arrow of Dodona, so he takes it into the woods thinking it would give him more helpful advice if he was closer to its roots. He updates the arrow on the situation to which it tells him that there is no loophole out of this one. Apollo must follow through with Lu's plan and give himself up to Nero. When Apollo offers to take the arrow up into the grove he is met with resistance. The arrow does not want to return to its roots because it believes it is now an outcast among its family. Apollo promises he will bring the arrow back to the grove once his journey has finally ended. The arrow goes silent and tells Apollo he should go speak to Meg.
As Apollo was exiting the woods he heard the voices of dryads. He follows the sound and finds Meg, her karpos, Peaches, and the dryads were fawning over him. All the dryads returned to their plants as Apollo approaches Meg and Peaches. Meg talks about how her day went and Apollo is happy, noting how excited she is to be at Camp Half Blood. He begins to say that he could go to the Tower of Nero alone so she could stay but she stops him. Meg asks if it's because he doesn't trust her to which he says this is not the case. She reflects on the time she betrayed him at the very start of his journey back to godhood. Apollo says how much they've both changed since then. Meg then states she wants to go in order to prove that she's strong. However, she wonders if she would relapse and revert back to the person she was. Apollo feels this statement internally and wonders when he returns to godhood if he will remember what it was like to be human or if he will slip back into his old selfish ways. Apollo admits that he is worried for both of their futures and Meg says they have to try. With this Apollo agrees that they should both go into the Tower together. When he returns back to the Apollo Cabin, he makes sure to restock on supplies for the journey ahead. As he is preparing, Austin and Kayla tell him they will be waiting on standby in case he needs help. Apollo enjoys the night before his journey at the campfire where he feels at ease. At dawn, Will wakes Apollo and informs him that he and Nico have returned from gathering supplies. He and Will then join Nico and Meg at the side of the road as they board the shuttle bus to go meet Rachel.
Meeting with Rachel and Escaping Cows
Argus drives the gang over to Rachel's house but seems somewhat guarded. Apollo concludes that there may be some sort of danger if Argus is feeling nervous about something. He drops them off a block away and they walk the rest of the way to Rachel’s house. As they arrive, she opened the gate and let them in. She tells them the cattle are watching. She explains that every time Apollo and Meg freed an oracle, she would get quick glimpses of what was happening. She presented these visions in the form of art similar to how she did when her powers were at their full strength. She brings them to her room and shows them three cattle cars filled with live stock in the neighboring rail yard. Rachel says they have been there since the other night and no one has brought them food or water. She's called the authorities but no one saw the cattle. She tells them it might have something to do with her neighbors in the mansion close by, but none of them see it so they change the subject to Nero. Rachel asks Meg and Apollo if they are aware of the fasces and Apollo says they are, and that they destroyed Caligula and Commodus's back in San Francisco. He follows this line of thinking and senses that Rachel is implying they need to destroy Neros' in order to kill him. Rachel tells everyone that she is pretty sure she knows where Neros's tower is located, right in the middle of the building. This room has no windows and can only be accessed by a special elevator. All the doors are reinforced by celestial bronze. Meg notes that while she was under Nero's care, this was the floor they were never allowed to go into. Rachel points to the blueprints again and shows a vault that she thinks contains the fasces and shows the room next to this. She assumes the room next to it is the one that holds prisoners. Apollo realizes that this means Lu was right and the only way to get close to it is to turn himself in and get captured. Rachel then says this would not be very easy since she was having visions of some sort of guardian. She says that she was sure Python himself was trying to make sure she could see this. Apollo then asks if the guardian was a creature with a lion's head and snakes slithering around its body. He can't remember how he knows this but he's sure it correlates with the line in the prophecy that talks about "a lion, snake-entwined". Nico questions this possible plan the possible outcomes of both choices. Nico asks about the possible doomsday switch and how this would take place. Rachel mentions some plans she's gotten and how something deep underground can pump out Greek Fire. They conclude that if the city goes up in flame, Nero and the rest of his followers will be safe since the building will have some sort of protection. Nico once again brings up his plan of doing damage using his friends underground. Nico finally reveals that these "friends" are troglodytes. Apollo is not convinced they are real at first but accepts it as this might be their only hope. Rachel insists on going with them as a line in the prophecy refers to her, "A Dare reveals the path that was unknown". Rachel furthers this point by saying she has clear sight and is able to see things the others are unable to. Rachel suddenly stops talking and Apollo is joyed thinking the Oracle was trying to speak through her and give them advice. However the smoke that came out of her mouth was yellow instead of the usual green and the voice of Python came through her. He then utters more lines from the prophecy:
Apollo's flesh and blood shall soon be mine
Alone he must descend into the dark
The sibyl to never again see his sign
Lest grappling with me to see his final spark
The god dissolves, leaving not a mark
With this, Rachel collapses and a loud crash can be heard. Nico rushes to the window while Meg and Will help Apollo with Rachel. Nico comes over to them, pale, and says they need to get out of there as the cows were coming. They run to find the cows have already broken into the house. They reach the garage but find no keys for either of the cars. Rachel comes too and they run just as the mansion collapses. Apollo remembers that the cows are Tauri Sylvestres, the natural enemy of the troglodytes, as they make their way to a construction site and jump on a crane hanging over a fifty foot deep pit. Some of the cattle are pushed in and, due to their hatred of confinement, choke to death on their anger and disintegrated. They wonder if they can take the rest or wait them out, but Apollo demonstrates their indestructible hide as Rachel points out they waited for days without food or water. Nero could have placed them there and his forces could be coming to get them as they speak. Nico looks down into the pit and thinks they can escape via Shadow Travel.
As they climb, Rachel asks Apollo to tell her what happened when she was taken over by Python. She tells him that the longer Python has a grip on Delphi, the more he has the opportunity to poison the outcome of the future. Once they finally reach the shadow, Nico needs time to rest to prevent them from being transported way off course. This comes at a poor time as the gang discovers that the bulls weren't dying in the pit anymore as their rage for them was keeping them alive. Nico states that he can't take all of them at once without exhausting himself. Apollo tells him to just take Rachel and Will first and come back for him and Meg later. As they go, Meg and Apollo charge into battle.
Meg and Apollo can't harm the first bull despite their efforts and a second bull breaks free from the pack to come and attack them as well. Meg says they should split up and rushes to take the second cow, leaving Apollo to deal with the first. Apollo catches his bull in a tarp while Meg is in a game of tag with her bull. More cows start to fall into the pit so as a last ditch effort Apollo tells Meg they need to get to the ladder. This plan is foiled since the first cow from earlier is blocking the path. Apollo brings out his ukulele and plays a song in an attempt to distract the cow so Meg can get around it, however this fails. He gets to Meg and is just about to sacrifice himself for her safety until Nico shows up and shadow travels them both away.
Troglodytes and More Planning
Nico brings Apollo and Meg to Will and Rachel, who were in the sewers, before instantly going to sleep. Will gives everyone Kit Kat bars, claiming it was the "best thing for recovering from shadow-travel". While discussing what to do next, Will fails in describing the troglodytes. Rachel claims that Python can't yet see through her. Starving, Meg looks through Will's supply kit and stumbles upon a five-lined skink. Nico wakes up and refreshes himself with nectar and chocolate, before leading them down. While traveling, Apollo comments on how the lower area felt similar to the Labyrinth, though Nico warns him not to mention it, as the troglodytes detest it, believing it to be shallow. The group enters a huge cavern, and Nico asks Will for light. Will glows, amazing Apollo, Meg, and Rachel. After that, Nico calls up the troglodytes. Dressed in various outfits, one who was dressed like George Washington, greets Nico and mistakes the others as a sacrifice. Nico corrects him, giving him the five-lined skink, and giving his name as Screech-Bling.
Nico proposes a pact between the two groups, and Screech-Bling agrees to hear him out, taking them all to the troglodyte corporate headquarters. Screech-Bling takes the gang to a tent with a cold fire. Rachel continues to check her watch that displays the time as 4:30. Apollo realizes this means that it would soon be time for him and Meg to turn themselves into Nero. After a while a troglodyte appears to take Nico to chat with Screech Bling. While they wait for them to return, Rachel tells Apollo that after he turns himself in the first thing he should do is try and buy time. Apollo asks what he could do to buy time to which Rachel doesn't answer. What she does tell him is that during the time he and Meg surrender, Camp Half-Blood could be preparing an attack. This could be what Nero wants since he would love the chance to destroy all of the campers. This is the only way as a bluff wouldn't work as long as Python is in charge of the Oracle. Rachel is impressed since the old Apollo would not care about the lives of other people. This restarts Apollo's inner conflict of his human side and how it would change when he regained his godhood. Apollo decides to go with the plan and the messenger comes to collect the rest of the gang.
Dinner is served then the discussion for plans starts. Screech-Bling tells the other troglodytes the plan Nico and the rest of the group suggested. The other troglodytes aren't on board right away as they don't see the point in saving the humans as long as they would be safe. The gang mentions that their food supply and hat shops would burn up but they are not yet swayed. Apollo realizes that appealing to their self-interests would not work. Apollo stands up and gives a speech about civilized people and what that means. He plays a song on his ukulele about his travels from the beginning to now. When he was finished, Screech-Bling tells him this was the most horrible thing he's ever heard and asks if the words were true. Rachel talks about the state of the future and this seals the deal with Screech-Bling asking what he can do to help. Apollo asks him to take Nico, Will, and Rachel into the underground tunnels while he and Meg turn themselves in.
They are interrupted as the troglodytes hear noise from above. The gang unintentionally brought the cows with them to the hiding place of the troglodytes. The troglodytes now have to escape to stop themselves from being killed. Screech-Bing tells a troglodyte named Grr-Fred to take Meg and Apollo to the Tower as the ceiling collapses.
Escape and Capture
Apollo loses track of Will, Nico, and Rachel as a bull lands right in front of him. The same bull splits him up from Meg and Grr-Fred. He struggles to catch up as Grr-Fred drags Meg away towards a river. Apollo dodges more bulls until he sees one cornering a toddler. He decides to distract this bull so the toddler could run away, however this now makes him the new target. Meg tells Apollo they need to go and all three of them jump into the river to slow down the bulls. Eventually they come to a ledge but they don't have time to rest as the bulls could be coming any minute. He gives them each a piece of jerky to get their energy back up before they keep moving. While they're eating, Grr-Fred works on building a passage they can go through. He seals the tunnel to keep the tauri off of their scents for a while. Grr-Fred guides them to a passage that opens up in a subway station. This will put them 50 feet from Nero's tower. After Grr-Fred turns to return to the rest of the trogs, Meg and Apollo take the staircase up to the surface.
When they are first approaching the tower, Apollo is surprised that there is no guards coming to get them. They go inside and the secretary asks both of them for some form of ID. Apollo hands over his New York drivers license and Meg hands over her golden scimitars. They're directed to the elevators and brace themselves for what is going to happen when they reach the top. After they're done talking, the elevator doors open and they are placed at the top.
A dryad greets them at the top and takes them into the room Nero is in. In the room with Nero are the 11 imperial children, a handful of servers, half a dozen Germani, and Luguselwa who still looks damaged from their previous encounter. Nero thanks their guide and Apollo realizes that he's enslaving dryads as a power move. After Lu talks about how they gave themselves up like she said they would, Nero starts to question Apollo. He says he believes Meg would, but he doesn't get why Apollo would. Nero then goes on a rant on good acts and traditional Roman values. Apollo wonders where he's going with this monologue until he mentions bad acts. He suspects Apollo's surrender falls under one of these bad acts.
He calls forth Lu and asks her what the plan was. Apollo then notices how perfectly the throne room is set up. The imperial children draw their swords and two Germani sneak up behind Meg and Apollo to prevent them from intervening with what's coming next. Gunther and a friend grab hold of Lu who can't put up a good fight due to her weakened state. They bring her to her knees while Apollo and Meg struggle to break free and help her. Nero uses this betrayal as a threat against the other 11 children in case they ever thought of doing the same thing. Nero then says he knows what the plan would have been including Camp Half Blood marching on the tower. Apollo's facial expressions give away that he guessed correctly. Nero calls one of the children, Cassius, out of line and tells him and go collect Meg's rings. This seems to put her in distress as she cries, calling him by a nickname and telling him not to do this. Nero instructs the boy to take the scimitars and chop off Lu's hands.
Meg, Apollo, and Lu all scream at this event for different reasons. Nero tells the people around them to tie Lu's wounds so she doesn't die easily. Apollo is to be locked in a cell with Lu while Meg is to begin rehabilitation. He tells Meg welcome home.
Prison and Dreams
Apollo spends the first twenty or thirty minutes alone in the cell and freaks out. A little while later Lu is dumped into the cell on the brink of death. While all of Apollo's weapons were taken, he was left with his ukulele and healing supplies. He puts her to sleep with a chloroform sheet as he prepares himself for the next steps. His first thought is to cauterize the wound but wonders where he would get the fire. Suddenly some of his godly power returns to him as his hand bursts into flames. More of his godly power appears to him in the form of accelerated healing and is able to stabilize her. These efforts exhaust him, and he collapses.
Apollo launches into a dream where he sees himself sitting at a picnic table on a beach in Santa Monica by the fish taco shack he ate before breaking in to the Julia Drusilla Yachts, he is surprised to find Jason Grace sitting across from him. Apollo starts to get emotional, but Jason reminds him that he's not really there, it's just a dream. He doesn't know what to say for a while but observes the plate of fish tacos on the table turning gold like when Midas touches something. Finally, Apollo speaks and apologizes for what happened. Jason tells him it's okay, that he made the choice, and that Apollo doesn't owe him anything, he just wants him to remember what he told him before he died. Jason tells him that he wouldn't be much a hero if he wasn't ready to risk everything for the greater cause. Apollo realizes that it would be selfish to bring Jason back to life realizing since it would be for himself and easing his grief. Apollo's guilt starts to loosen a bit as he tells Jason that everyone misses him. Jason says he misses everyone too and warns him to beware of Mithras's servant, the lion and snake entwined. He says Apollo knows what it is and what to do and that there is a price for bargaining with the guardian of the stars; sometimes you have to pay the price and sometimes you have to let other people do it. Jason then dissolves and Apollo wakes up. Lu is awake and she asks about Meg. Apollo says he is not sure and soon after Gunther returns with sandwiches and informs them, they are to be tortured later that night. Apollo and Lu quickly realize that there are too many security measures for them to break out without getting recaptured. While he goes back to sit down, he wonders how Meg is doing now that she's back in Nero's care. Lu senses that he's worrying about her and tells him that him that they will get her back.
Apollo asks about the security mikes in the cell and if Nero and crew could hear them talking about right now. Lu tells them that unless security mikes were installed in the last twenty-four hours this conversation would be between them. Apollo tells her that the "other plan" is still set in motion and is hopefully going on as long as Will, Nico, and Rachel are still safe. He tells her about the other "other plan" for the emperor's fasces and how Jason told him about the protector of it. Lu gives him the backstory of the protector and how Nero came to recruit it. Lu tells him they need to find out more info about the Mithras's creature as well as Meg's wellbeing. This is subtly telling him that he should enter the dreamscape to figure out info on both. Apollo chooses to control his dreams in order to get the information they need.
Apollo struggles with getting a grip when he first enters the dreamworld. Eventually he gets the hang of it and lands in the caverns of Delphi. Python attempts to talk to him, but Apollo quickly shifts the dream to elsewhere. Apollo finally finds Meg and sees her throwing a tantrum with a Germani watching her, trying to get her to pick out a dress. Meg is getting ready to throw a lamp when Nero suddenly enters the room. He tells Meg to sit with him and when she takes a seat across the room, he tries to guilt her into thinking this whole predicament was her fault. This upsets Meg and she returns to her tantrum. Nero tells her that she led Apollo here and is the reason Lu got her hands cut off. This throws her off a bit as he tells her that she should punish Cassius for what he did to Lu. Meg finally goes to sit next to Nero where he continues to manipulate her against Apollo. Apollo's emotions get the best of him and he loses control of these dream, falling into the next one.
The next dream brings him into a vault with golden doors where Nero's fasces was being held. Apollo realizes that after killing the other two emperors their remaining power gathered together in this one. This makes Nero three times more powerful than he was before. Apollo sees the guardian who sees him even in the dreamscape and talks to him. He tells him that he is a leontocephaline and that he could be bargained with but the price was very great, his immortality. After he gets this message he wakes up again in a cold sweat. While Apollo was asleep, Lu attaches silverware to her stubs that Apollo later tightens. When this is done, both of them say they have a plan and Apollo allows Lu to go first.
Prison Break and a Reunion
When Gunther returns he orders Apollo to tie up himself and Lu, however the two refuse. They bait him into coming into the cell to do the task himself, and the germanus slips on some ointment Apollo smeared on the floor. Apollo and Lu escape as the bars close on Gunther and nearly crushing him. They go to the storage facility and Apollo gets his gear and the Arrow of Dodona as Lu tells him to get Meg while she takes care of the leontocephaline. They part ways as he makes his way to Meg's room, knocking out a mortal security guard and incinerating a pair of Germani in the process. He miscalculates the number of floors and ends up in a control room. The germani in charge orders the technicians to burn the city and has the other guards to kill Apollo.
Apollo suddenly starts singing "Stop In The Name of Love" and makes everyone freeze in their tracks from bewilderment. Apollo takes advantage of this and punches the guy closet to him in the face with his bow. Another germani shoots at him with a gun from across the room but ends up temporarily deafening everyone in the room. Apollo draws his bow and arrows and takes out the germani who shot at him in the first place. The technicians turn back to the control panel and the other Germani charge Apollo. He trips but he manages to get one shot off at the technician. He hobbles the leader of this team and rushes to the control panels. He fires a warning shot to the Germani slowly closing in on him and urges the technicians to leave. They don't heed this warning because they're more afraid of the Germani. The technicians go back to their jobs while the Germani attempt to surround Apollo again. He manages to take a few out but two still remain. He fires two more shots and takes them out but this victory is short lived as he gets hit on the back of his head by the Leader of the Germani who pins him at sword point. The technicians are still trying to get the machine working but Apollo realizes that the other team must have succeeded at sabotaging it.
The leader is furious and is just about to kill Apollo when he suddenly turns pale and begins to shrivel, leaving nothing but a skeleton. Standing behind the skeleton is Nico di Angelo who tells the frightened technicians that they should leave. Nico grabs him and they leave together to join the battle currently raging.
Storming the Tower
Apollo is unable to get to his feet due to his head injury so Nico has to help support him out of the room. He asks Nico where Will is and Nico tells him he suddenly said "I am needed" and went off in the other direction. He then asks where Rachel is and Nico replies that she's okay and was having visions like crazy. Apollo notices that the trogs had kept up with their part of the plan and the sabotage had worked. Apollo's head injury is still making him act funny but he tries to fill Nico in on what had happened before he rescued him from the Germani. He tells Nico he needs to get to the southeast corner of the residence to find Meg. Nico tells him he knows this location and that they're three floors too low and it would be difficult to get there through all the fighting. Apollo sees what he means by this when they get to the end of the hallway and are surrounded by all sorts of battles. Nico leads Apollo to the Camp Half-Blood landing zone where the campers had set up command.
When they enter, Apollo sees the place in chaos and notes that the dryads have risen up against Nero. He spots Chiron standing in the center of the room. Kayla comes racing over to Apollo, Nico leaves him with her while he goes to look for Will. Kayla sits her father down and starts rummaging in her med pack. She tells him he will most likely have a scar to which Apollo says he knows and says he's glad to see her. She fills him in and what happened while he was gone. The campers infiltrated the building from below then the rest of them overwhelmed their security by swarming several levels at once, with the Hermes' Cabin disabling all the traps. Apollo asks if they were winning to which Kayla says she doesn't know and that the new campers thought this was a field trip. She finishes bandaging his head and tells him to drink Mountain Dew, which refreshes him instantly.
When Apollo's mind was clear again he remembers that he needs to find Meg again. Kayla tells him then that's what they'll do and gives him more arrows. Together they start running and end up in the dining room where they see another bull. While planning their way of attacking it, Austin runs towards them and Kayla tells him to take Apollo to where he needed to go while she gets the bull to follow her. Apollo shoots arrows to get the bull to follow her and Austin leads Apollo through a side door. He tells Austin that he needs to find Meg and gives him the directions to where she is being held. They go up a spiral staircase and into a hat room where they see some trogs enjoying themselves. Austin and Apollo emerge from the other side of the closet into a marble foyer with elevators. Austin tells him that this elevator leads directly into the imperial apartments but they would need a key card to use it. Both of them are discussing what they should do next when the elevator suddenly opens. Cassius, the demigod who cut off Lu's hands, is on it and looks very upset. He offers Apollo Meg's rings and Apollo, feeling pity for him, lets him go. Before he can escape Austin asks Cassius for his key card and he gives it to him before turning around and fleeing. Together the two of them get on the elevator and start the journey upwards.
Apollo is surprised by how pleasant the ride is as he expected to be dropped to his death when he first entered. Next to him, Austin is playing with the keys of his saxophone and Apollo can tell that he's anxious. Austin tells him that just in case that don't make it out of this, he wants him to know what he's enjoyed their time together. Apollo can't put into words how much that means to him so instead he settles for smiling and squeezing his shoulder. The doors open and as they approach the end of the hallway, Austin looks ahead using a mirror telling him there's guards and guests in the party room. Apollo recognizes the voice of the dryad passing along a message to the people in the room talking about some sort of burning that will start when Nero finishes up some issues. Austin offers to distract the guards so Apollo can go search for Meg. He doesn't want him to do this but Austin insists on doing so anyway rushing into the room playing his saxophone. Apollo slips past and heads towards Meg's direction.
Apollo jogs through the hallway he saw in his dreams and heads towards Meg's room. When he enters he sees that no one is in there and the evidence from her tantrum earlier had been cleaned up. Apollo notices a laptop on the nightstand with Nero's face on a live video call. Nero jiggles the camera and Apollo asks where Meg is. Nero tells him that she's in the throne room with him. Apollo tells Nero that he'll kill him when he gets the chance however Nero is not fazed and finds the threat funny. Screech-Bling shows up in the doorway but Apollo gives him a subtle shake of the head to tell him to not get any closer. When he tunes back in to what Nero is saying he catches him mentioning Sassanid gas. Apollo doesn't know what this is but Screech-Bling reacts to the mention of this gas. Nero tells him that is an extremely lethal gas is even more effective in enclosed spaces......such as buildings.
Nero says this was revenge for preventing him from burning down the city and that Apollo has done him a favor by getting all the campers in the building. He tells Apollo that him, Meg, and few others would be safe from death in the throne room. He tells him that Python is waiting for his corpse and that he would strike him a deal. He gives him 15 minutes to come up to the throne room alone before he releases the gas. He tells him that if he doesn't come he'll release the gas now and kill everyone inside. With that Nero turns off the call and Apollo turns to Screech-Bling. Screech-Bling tells him that the gas is bad and that Rachel was having visions again and told him to go to that room. Screech-Bling tells him that he will gather some other trogs and try to disable the gas before it goes off and leaves the room to do this task. Apollo realizes how bleak things are when he remembers he can't kill Nero unless Lu had succeeded However, he doesn't have much of a choice since he needs to stall Nero and find Meg. He had fifteen minutes to end Nero or Nero would end him.
Finding Meg and Fighting Nero
Apollo faced no issues getting to the throne room and assumes Nero probably didn't want any more delays. Apollo enters the room and Nero calls him a good boy for coming alone. He scans the room and notices that Meg wasn't there and Nero had a dozen bodyguards surrounding him. He sees that only 7 imperial children are in the room and they're each holding a torch over a dryad pot. Apollo asks where Meg is and Nero tells him she's somewhere around here and he should put his weapons on the floor. Apollo puts down his bow and arrow and later his ukulele and backpack on the floor. He realizes there's no hope in even trying to attack as long as Nero is still invincible. Nero then calls Meg forward and she comes out from behind one of the columns. He instantly notices that she looks different. She has a new haircut and a new dress with the only familiar thing about her being her glasses. Apollo notes that she looks elegant, older, and beautiful, like a proper lady of the Imperial Household. Meg locks eyes with Apollo and hesitates when Nero asks her to come sit next to him. Nero asks a germanus to bring him a remote control. Apollo realizes that this is the remote that would make the gas spray into the rest of the building.
Apollo reminds him that he said Meg would choose the outcome of this situation. Meg is clearly surprised by this and Nero takes this moment to start manipulating the situation. He says that Apollo is a user and has ruined many lives. Nero paints himself as the complete opposite and says all he does is give back to people. He then reminds Apollo of all the people who have died for him including Jason Grace. He also lists off some of the deaths from Camp Jupiter and how they all died because Apollo wanted to become a god again. Apollo makes the mistake of calling the Imperial Children "poor children" in his rebuttal and allows Nero to find another way to slander him. He starts telling Apollo about all the children he's mistreated but he tunes him out as he wonders where Screech-Bling is. When he tunes back in Nero is still talking and is discussing all the children down below, risking their lives on Apollo's behalf. He places the gas remote on the chair right next to him. Meg is still torn and is unable to choose what to do next. Nero uses this as an opportunity to use the name of Daphne and the lives of other dryads he's ruined to rile up the dryads in the room. They all turn and attack.
Apollo can tell that the dryads hearts aren't in the fight. He dodges two of them and tells them he won't fight them. One of the dryads hesitates and as a result gets lit on fire by her demigod keeper. This kills her and she turns in a pile of ash. This upsets Meg and the idea of the dryads attacking Apollo upsets her even further. The dryads continue to attack Apollo and one of them locks him in a chokehold. This finally pushes Meg over the edge and she orders the dryads to stop. She runs over the Apollo and checks him over for injuries. She asks him if Lu is still alive and Apollo tells her she's still fighting. Apollo then tells Meg that she's the only person in the room that she needs to listen to. Apollo gives Meg her golden rings back and reminds her that she's stronger than Nero.
Nero tries to regain control of the situation by telling Meg that they can't interfere with justice, to which Meg shouts at him telling him that this isn't justice. Nero looks at her with pity and tells her that the dryads didn't have the courage or spirit to do what's necessary. Meg watches in horror as she realizes what this means and Nero informs the other Imperial Children to drop their torches into the dryad's pots. Meg explodes with some kind of green dust that coats everyone and everything in the throne room, as puts the flames from the torches out. This dust allows the dryads plants to become even stronger and tells them to go heal while she protects them.
Nero recovers and tells Meg she needs to control herself. Meg tries to get a word in but Nero cuts her off telling her he can keep Apollo alive if that's what she truly wants and she just needs to be his daughter again. Meg remains in her spot and Nero tells her that everything becomes much harder when she wakes The Beast. He tells her that she and Apollo are both outnumbered and couldn't take down everyone in the room. Meg tells Nero that she didn't kill her father or cut off Lu's hands. That was all Nero's doing and for that she hates him. Nero's next attempts at manipulating her don't work and she tells him that she's not listening to him anymore and she won't use his weapons to fight anymore. With this she throws her golden rings on the floor. Nero tells her that this is foolish and is about to give his crew the signal to start fighting until a BOOM shakes the chamber. Through all the rubble and dust Apollo can see Nico di Angelo commanding a bull.
Nero and the rest of his crew are as caught off guard as Apollo and Meg are. Apollo notes that Nico looks even worse than he did after their last encounter. Nico instructs the bull to go attack Nero and everything turns into chaos in Nero's ranks. Nero figures out that the remote he was given earlier was the wrong one and was not releasing gas. He instructs the germani to bring him the rest of the remotes so he can look for the right one. Meg tells Apollo to get up and drags him out of the way of one of the creatures in front of him. Nico appears in front of him and takes care of the creature and says that Rachel sent him. They have no time to talk as another creature appears in front of them and Nico moves to take care of it. Apollo scans the room and sees Nero still looking for the remote, the Germani dogpillng the skeleteon bull, and three of the imperial children staring down Meg. Apollo asks about the gas and Nico tells him the trogs are still working on it. Meg overhears this conversation and asks if Camp Half-Blood has evacuated yet and Nico replies that they have not any didn’t want to leave unless Meg and Apollo had. Nico tells them to go and Apollo rushes towards the front so he can grab his weapons and defend himself in battle.
Apollo asks Meg what she's going to use as a weapon and Meg tells him not to worry about it. Nico is still fighting with the wolf from earlier and the skeleton bull he brought to life had finally collapsed. The germani spills the tray with the rest of the remotes Nero needs to try. As Apollo aims for Nero's chest, one of the three missing Imperial Children stabs him in the ribs. As Apollo struggles to breathe he sees Meg across the room fighting barehanded with Aemillia and another one of the missing demigods. The demigod who stabbed Apollo pushes the knife even deeper. Apollo cannot shake the demigod because he is too strong and as a desperate attempt shoves his thumb into his eyes and breaks free. He does not have the strength to aim another arrow and slips on his own blood.
In his haze of agony, the mortal god sees Nero smiling and holding up a remote. Apollo can't stop the emperor, Meg is too far away, the bull was now a pile of bones, and Nico was busy holding off other monsters. Powerless to do anything, Apollo watches as Nero presses the button.
Nothing happens. Nero curses and starts going through the cushions looking for the correct remote. Across the room, Meg disarms Aemillia and uses the borrowed sword to fend off the rest of her siblings. Nico is holding off the germani but Apollo can tell he's starting to get tired. It doesn't help that the leader of the germani is ordering them to surround and kill Nico. Apollo's side injury is preventing him from fighting at his full strength, but he attempts to hold his own for a while. Apollo sees Nero still looking for the remote and shoots an arrow at his chest. This doesn't work since Nero has some sort of protection shield on his toga. He nocks another arrow and this time aims it at Nero's head. This doesn't work either and Apollo realizes that he's still invincible.
Apollo decides to take a new route of action and tries to shoot the remotes out of Nero's hands. This succeeds the first time but he is too slow the second attempt. He presses another remote but this one turns on three TVs. Apollo scans the room to see how his friends are doing and sees Meg being outnumbered by her siblings with Nico loosing steam. Apollo can't help because he only has one arrow left minus the Arrow of Dodona. Nero grabs another incorrect remote and is left with just one more remote.
Apollo gets Nico's attention and uses his last arrow to shoot at the barbarian between Nico and Nero. Nico uses this opening to attack Nero with his remaining strength. Nero grabs his sword midair and tosses it across the room. Nico lunges for his throat but gets backhanded with so much force that he flies twenty feet into the nearest pillar. Nero reminds them all that he can't be killed since he is immortal and presses the button on the last remote. Meg tries to escape the circle but is tripped and falls face first. They failed, the entire camp was wiped out. The germani bring Nico to his feet and drag him to the throne, while the rest of the imperial family point their weapons at Meg. Nero is overjoyed and tells the guards to kill Apollo. They start approaching him and Apollo starts thinking of ways to defend himself until he hears a familiar voice behind him.
Will walks in with Lu and Rachel will the Oracle holding Nero’s fasces Will declares that no one hits his boyfriend or kills his father. The guards start to attack but Nero tells everyone to freeze. The imperial children were just about to kill Meg before they got the orders to stand down. Will takes this chance to stride to the front of the room and gets Nico to his feet. He takes him back to the entrance with no interference. Nero backs up into the dais behind him and stares at Rachel with the fasces in his hand, calling her the Pythia. He tells them they should all be dead and Screech-Bling comes in the room and says that gas traps are finicky especially the detonators. Nero says Lu couldn't have defeated the leontocephaline and Lu said she didn't. She traded what the guardian needed, immortality.
Nero starts to say that she doesn't have immortality until a look of dread passes over his face. Apollo starts to laugh and says that Lu has immortality because Nero does and that the two of them had been connected for centuries. Nero says that was his eternal life and she can't trade his life for his life. Lu agrees that this is a little shady but the leontocephaline had found it amusing. Nero asks if she would really kill herself to kill him and she says she would in a heartbeat. She continues and says now everyone is free of his bondage and they would see how long he would last. Nero laughs while claiming that they still can't destroy his fasces without destroying themselves in the process and that all the power would just transfer to Python, but Apollo can still hear the terror in his voice. Nero then tried to appeal to Rachel and says that he can convince Python to restore her powers and that he'll destroy the future of their kind. Rachel shrugs and says he's already chosen his kind and it wasn't humanity. Nero tries to appeal to Meg next and says that he'll let her choose. Meg is still surrounded by the other children and tells them everything they've done until now wasn't their faults and how they had the choice to drop their weapons and stand up to him. Nero tries to manipulate her with The Beast, but she just says that The Beast is dead and that she's killed it. She tells him to stand down and he would just be put in a prison even if it was nicer than he deserved. Lu says this is the best he was gonna get and Nero is visibly struggling with dealing the fact that his plan has been torn to shreds like this. He orders the remaining guards to kill them all.
Apollo turns and runs, stumbling into Lu. He sees Will tending to Nico's wounds while Screech-Bling summons more troglodytes into the room who take on the emperor's forces. Apollo asks Rachel to give him the fasces and Lu asks if can even wield it without killing himself. Apollo says that he is not and Rachel joins the conversation saying she can't see the outcome but he needs to try. Apollo grabs the fasces and instantly feels the side effects from carrying something so powerful. Lu tells the ladies to cover him as he tries to figure out a way to destroy the fasces. He sees Meg trying to help her siblings fight the emperor's forces and Apollo picks up the pace for her sake. Apollo tries to pry to fasces apart to no avail and Rachel tells him he needs to hurry up. Apollo tries to break the fasces over his knee next but this only manages to nearly break his knee. Nero finally loses his cool and marches towards Apollo, intending to kill him. Nero starts glowing as he knocks most of the Trogs aside making Apollo's line of defense shrink leaving only Lu and Rachel. Apollo remembers all of Nero's attempts to godhood and it makes him realize he can't destroy the fasces without a little godly help.
He yells at Lu and Rachel to run and get out of the way. As they move Nero finally ends up right in front of him. Apollo himself begins glow and the fasces begins to superheat. Nero and Apollo then start a game of tug-of-war with the ax and the glow continues to get brighter. Nero tries to taunt him saying Lester can't take the ax from him. In response, he declares He is Apollo, God of the Sun, and he revokes his divinity. With this the fasces breaks in two and a wave of emotions floods over Apollo. Nero hurtles backwards, landing on the carpet with burns. Apollo's glow starts to fade noting that he was unharmed. The fasces was now broken but Nero was still alive, albeit mortally burned. The emperor sobs in despair and asks Apollo what he's done. He then starts to crumble with a glittery cloud coming out of his nose and mouth. The glitter doesn't vanish and simply pours downwards into the cracks of the floor tiles as if he was being dragged back into the depths. With his last words he tells Apollo that he's given Python victory. Everyone in the room turns to look at Apollo with Lu asking if it's over. Rachel replies that it's not even close to being over yet. Apollo knows she's right and realizes the real threat but before he can even do anything he topples over and passes out in Rachel's arms.
Glimpses of Mt. Olympus and Preparing for the Final Challenge
Apollo finds himself hovering over a different throne room, this one belonging to the Council Of Gods on Mount Olympus. His family were watching a holographic image over Hestia's great hearth. The image they were staring at was an image of Apollo's human form passed out in Rachel's arm back in the Tower of Nero.
Athena says this is a critical time and Apollo is perilously close to failure. Ares sits back and wishes he would get on with it since he's betting money on the outcome. Hermes says that's so callous and corrects Ares saying the money is higher than he said it was. He pulls out a notepad and asks if anyone else has last minute bets. Zeus tells them all to stop and looks somewhat concerned as he says they need to wait for the final battle which is where the worst is going to happen. Artemis stands up for her brother asking if he hasn't proved himself already. She continues by saying Apollo has suffered more in the last few months than anyone could have and what ever lesson Zeus was trying to teach him has already been learned. Zeus tells her she doesn't understand all the forces at work here and Apollo needs to face his final challenge for all their sakes. Hephaestus asks what will happen if he fails since that will leave only eleven gods. Aphrodite says this could work and Artemis snaps back at her. Aphrodite ignores her and say they could simply elect a new twelfth god, a plan that Ares seems to enjoy. Hera finally speaks and tells them all to stop and that this had gone on long enough, only resulting in loss and pain. She continues and says that if Zeus insists on seeing this through then the least they can do is not talk about Apollo as if he's already dead. Apollo is surprised that Hera of all gods was attempting to defend him. Athena states that if Apollo fails then he will face a fate much worse than death and whatever happens begins now. They all lean forward to the holographic image and see Apollo's body stirring. Apollo is then transported back to his human form and instead of seeing the other Olympians he sees the faces of his friends.
Will and Nico try and make plans to get Apollo back to camp but he tells them he can't since he has to leave. Lu tries to stop him reminding him that he's in bad shape. He says that he has no choice and asks for nectar and more supplies. Rachel confirms this and says that Python is getting stronger by the second. The gang lets this information sink in and they go scrounge up some supplies for Apollo. Will gives his dad Mountain Dew and some more healing supplies. He hands a jar of healing salve to Meg and asks her to do the honors while he goes to look for more bandages. Meg starts to rubs the ointment on Apollo's wounds and Apollo glances her over noticing that she put a Camp Half-Blood shirt over her dress making her allegiance clear. Apollo says that he's proud of her, that she's and she said she had to be for her siblings. He sees most the imperial children throwing things in rage or being consoled by children of Aphrodite and Hypnos. Meg says they have time and a lot of support to which Apollo says they need her.
Apollo looks around and sees all the leftover damage. Most of the troglodytes had vanished, Demeter's Cabin were figuring out how to get the wounded dryads back to camp, and the barbarians grappling with being human again. Apollo tells Meg she was right about Lu and her plan which makes her happy.
They can't chat long because it's time for Apollo to go and complete the final challenge. Meg tells him she knows he has to do this part alone. Apollo confirms this saying he doesn't know how he's going to do this. This is goodbye for the two of them and Apollo promises to find her afterwards if he survives. They hug and she goes to check on the rest of her family. He says goodbye to Will, Nico, Rachel, Kayla, Austin, and Chiron. When he talks to Chiron he mentions him going to a joint task force meeting and Chiron says he met with a severed head and a cat from different pantheons where they discussed a mutual issue, possibly referring to Mimir and Bast. When they finishing chatting Apollo turns to leave.
Apollo goes down a stairwell and feels the smoke get thicker as he goes further and further down. The lack of oxygen causes him to hallucinate a bit as he goes down. Eventually, he notices that the stairwell has vanished and the passageway gets so tight that he has to start crawling. The smoke changes to volcanic gas which Apollo recognizes as a smell somewhere in the tunnels of Delphi. He realizes that the Labyrinth has allowed him to walk halfway across the world to Delphi. The crawl space ends and all that's left is the Lair of Python.
The Final Challenge
Apollo looks into the lair itself and sees Python shifting forms. The mortal god feels some power tingling under his skin as he draws his bow and arrow, nocking an arrow. He says this is for Meg and Jason and anyone else who had sacrificed to help Apollo during the last six months. He pushes himself out of the crawl space, flipping midair, and aims the arrow right at Python's head.
He misses, instead of hitting Python's head he hits the rocks right behind him. This wakes Python up and Apollo lands in the center of the room. Python tells him that he hasn't quite finished digesting Nero's power yet but it will have to do for now. Apollo nocks another arrow but Python doesn't seem intimidated by him. He lets the arrow fly and hits Python in the face but this has no effect. Python continues to taunt him saying that he's merely just cut the middlemen and he still has control of Delphi. Apollo doesn't let him finish and shoots another arrow at his throat, this time making him gag. Python shifts forms and prepares to destroy Apollo until he hears a message from Delphi. He asks Apollo if he would like to hear his future but Apollo cuts him off by firing a fourth shot, piercing his hide right above his right leg. This enrages Python as he barrels towards Apollo telling him to never interrupt a prophecy. He dodges but Python manages to take a chunk out of the floor where he was previously standing causing debris is fall around his head.
Python strikes again as Apollo is attempting to nock another arrow but he can't move out of the way in time. He lands on his bow, shattering the arrow in the process. Apollo scrambles to his feet and leaps over a section of the monster's body and avoiding the newly grown body parts. Python tells him that he's heard his future and that Apollo will fall. He nearly captures Apollo. Python gloats that he can't escape fate and it will happen since he's spoken it.
Apollo leaps onto Python's trunk and tries to use it as a bridge to cross a fissure. This fails as a random lizard foot grows and rakes into his ankles with their claws. He stumbles and tries to grab any handhold as he slips off the side. He manages to grab a wing and gets one foot on the side of a fissure. As he hauls himself back to solid ground, he looses his bow to the void. Apollo realizes the clock on his mortal life is being reduced even further as he hauls himself into a vertical crack. Just when he starts to feel truly alone he remembers the Arrow of Dodona and they start to chat. Python is still searching for Apollo while he and the Arrow are still chatting. While still searching for him, Python reminds him that he's not a god.
Apollo can't disagree with this as he isn't his old godly self but he wasn't Lester either. He skin starts to steam and pulses of light flicker under his skin. He compares it to the sun trying to break through storm clouds. He's between states and is no god, he will never be the same old Apollo again. In this moment he had the chance to decide what he would become, even if this new existence only lasts a few seconds. This realization burns away the rest of his delirium and Apollo decides he will not hide or cower, that's not the person he wants to be.
He rushes to attack and slams Python in the neck with his ukulele, but this doesn't work and the ukulele shatters. Python wraps a coil around Apollo's waist and lifts him to eye level. Since his arms and hands are still free he stabs Python's coil with his broken fret-board, breaking skin. Python hisses and squeezes Apollo even tighter, sending all the blood to his head. He continues to squeeze, breaking his ribs. Apollo tries to fight but Python just continues strangling him. The Arrow starts to speak to him, saying it is time for Python's prophecy to come to pass. It tells Apollo that if he fails he will fail, but first he should use it. It points itself towards Python's face and Apollo understands what it's trying to say. Apollo has glimpses of the other people who have died in his name and now the Arrow will be included in this list. Apollo tries to protest but the Arrow tells him that Apollo must fall but Apollo must rise again, the final part of the prophecy. Apollo jabs the Arrow in Python's eyes which loosens his coils enough for him to drop through back to the ground.
Apollo struggles to his feet as he sees Python flailing trying to remove the Arrow from his eye. Anger flows through his body and bursts of light start flashing under his skin. He gets an idea and yells Python's name. Python says that he will not live and Apollo says he's fine with that as long as Python dies too. He tackles the monster's tail and drags it towards the chasm. With a burst of godly strength, Apollo literally drags Python to Tartarus. The prophecy came through, Apollo fell and so did Python.
The two fight each other still as they fumble downwards into the River Styx. The river saps Apollo's memories and starts to pry open the cracks in Lester. Apollo keeps Python trapped in the Styx knowing he would be much more dangerous on land. The wrath of the Styx continues to sap his strength until he remembers his promise to Meg. Python and Apollo tumble to the edge of the waterfall and fall again into Tartarus. They fell even further and Apollo realizes they're standing on the brink of chaos. He notices that his human form is starting to burn away leaving only the marbled lines of a glowing light, the center of his chest swirling with a purple tint. Next to him he sees Python dissolving as well, Python stands with his body crumbling swearing that he would destroy Apollo. He charges with the intent of pushing Apollo into oblivion and they hang there over the void.
Apollo can feel himself being ripped in two, but he can't let go. He channels all his remaining strength into his hands and bends one leg to knee Python in the chin. He continues to do this until he feels Python's lower jaw crack resulting in him losing his grip and falling. Python plummets into Chaos and is erased from existence. Apollo can't enjoy this victory because he knows this was the end since he can't muster up enough strength to pull himself up.
This is confirmed when Styx appears before him and says she told him so. Apollo remembers that he broke his promise to the River Styx by vowing to never use a bow or play music until he was a god again. Styx isn't done talking yet and asks Apollo if he has learned yet. He does and he expects no mercy. Styx smiles and tells him to hold onto that, but he wonders if she means the rock or the lesson. She tells him that's up to him to decide and dissolved into smoke leaving Apollo alone. He's comforted knowing that at least he erased Python from existence and that he would never existence again. Just when he starts to wonder what the point of holding on is, he remembers his promise to Meg. He realizes this is the lesson Styx was trying to teach him and that it doesn't matter how loud your oath is, what truly matter is if you meant it. With this his arms become more substantial and his body becoming more real as light weaves his body together until his form was a mesh of golden light.
Return to Mount Olympus
When he wakes up, he sees Artemis leaning over him. He cries and gives his sister a hug. Artemis comforts him and says everything's alright, he made it. After they break the hug, Apollo looks at himself seeing all his scars and bruises from his last fight were gone. He asks Artemis how long he was out for, and she tells him that only two weeks had passed. He then asks about his friends and Artemis reassures him that she sent them all clear omens of his success. Artemis helps Apollo change clothes and they prepare to go to the throne room. Apollo asks for a moment alone as he tries to gather his thoughts. He takes off the laurel wreath on his head since he feels like he does not deserve it. All these visual reminders of all the things he's done in these past few centuries causes him to feel uneasy, but he says this uneasiness also feels reassuring. As he continues thinking he realizes he doesn't see Mount Olympus as a home anymore and wants to see Meg again as well as being with Camp Half-Blood and Camp Jupiter again. But he realizes the world of demigods isn't his place but that doesn't mean he can't remember his experiences there. This doesn't mean he can't go and visit though but before this he has to show himself to his family. He turns and walks to the throne room.
Apollo describes the throne room and how strange it looks to him now. While thinking about all this he realizes that all the discussions had stopped when he entered with everyone turning to look at him. Apollo remembers how to enlarge himself again and takes his throne. Zeus studies him and declares that he's returned. Apollo says that he has and asks everyone else who won the betting pool. This makes everyone shift in their seats with Hermes and Ares tying to play it off as just being worried about him. Apollo concludes that Ares must have lost the pool and Hermes says that Athena won. Apollo tries to move the conversation along and from across the room Dionysus says Apollo did a good job, to which Demeter agrees and praises him.
Hera lifts her veil and says that at least Apollo did something. She continues and implies that it's Zeus's fault that Jason Grace is dead. Zeus gets mad and says that he didn't kill Jason, Caligula did. Hera snaps at him saying that at least Apollo grieved and got vengeance. Apollo is still shocked that Hera is standing up for him when she's never done this before. Zeus changes the topic stating that it appears that the fix is permanent, Python no longer exists, and all the oracles are freed once again. Zeus talks about the fates being free to do their jobs again and Apollo realizes he never thought about them being affected as well. He also picks up on Zeus's wording and how he said it appears the problem was fixed since he couldn't see the final battle go down. Apollo confirms that Python ceased to exist, and Zeus says that he is satisfied. Zeus welcomes him back to godhood, says he's forgiven, and welcomes him back to the throne. The gods ask what he will do now that he's a god again and Apollo replies that he wants to visit some old friends.
Once the Council is dismissed, only Zeus and Apollo are left in the room. Zeus tells Apollo he knows he thinks what he did was harsh, and Apollo just doesn't reply. He continues going on about how only Apollo could have erased Python from existence and only he could have freed all the oracles. He says that he's proud of him and while Apollo has so many things to say to him, he keeps it short. He says he understands, and Zeus welcomes him home. Apollo rises asking to be excused since he has several other places to be.
Visiting Old Friends and a Final Farewell
His first stop is to see his horses. He appears at the entrance of the sun palace and sees his valets are now gone. He notices that he has a pile up of packages and that place now has an old Helios smell like it usually does when he's gone for so long. There's a layer of dust on his throne and in stables he sees his horses who are happy to see him. He feeds them and feels happy to have a routine again. Apollo divides himself so he could quite literally be in multiple places at once and sends one to take care of his daily ride across the sky. Due to splitting himself, he can't remember the order all these encounters, but he knows they all happen.
The second he arrives at Camp Half-Blood he is welcomed with all the campers chanting his name. For most of his visits he chooses to appear in Lester form feeling reassured in it. He is smothered with group hugs and notes that the younger campers carried themselves much more confidently now. Chiron looks proud of Apollo and tells him that he did well and will always be welcomed at camp. Next, he hugs Austin and Kayla, crying some more. He asks them about Meg, and they tell him that she went back to Palm Springs, to her father's old house with Lu and her foster siblings. He asks them if she's well and Austin replies back that she will be.
He finds Dionysus sipping a diet coke and he takes a seat across from him. Dionysus says that at least one of them got a happy ending. Apollo thinks about this and different lengths of their punishment, however Apollo doesn't see his as a punishment but rather a journey and that he had grown from it. He tells Dionysus he will have a happy ending too but he's not saying that as a god of prophecy but rather someone with faith. Mr. D finds this amusing, but Apollo says that faith allows them to write their own stories and turn sour grapes into wine. Together they play a few games of pinochle well into the afternoon.
Before dinner, Apollo goes to the Grove of Dodona. He thanks the trees for giving him the Arrow as a guide and without its help he would have failed and wouldn't have been able to erase Python from existence. The trees who were laughing at first stop as he continues his speech. He says that he will tell Rhea that they sent him their best and poofs away before they can see him smile hoping the Arrow would be having a good laugh.
At night, he sits at the campfire with Will, Nico, and Rachel. Will and Nico are sitting next to each other while Rachel is looking at the stars. Rachel speaks first telling Apollo that everything's working again, she can see visions again and has already issued a few prophecies. All signs of Python have been erased from existence. Apollo asks about her destroyed house and Rachel says that this was a blessing in disguise because now she has the chance to take a gap year in Paris and study art. She assures them that she'll be back next year to issue more prophecies and Nico jokes that if he ever needs one, he could just shadow travel. Will senses that he's still thinking about Tartarus and Nico says that this is unfinished business. Apollo asks if he's sure it isn't Jason and Nico says he thought so at first and thought about bringing him back, but he knew he couldn't. Jason had made his choice, and this was different than Hazel's case who needed to come back and he thinks that Jason is somewhere better now. Apollo asks if he means Elysium or rebirth, but Nico doesn't know. What Nico does know is that the person who might need his help is a Titan who got left behind. He says that Hades has forbidden anyone from going to Tartarus after the incident with the Doors of Death and this is where the Trogs would come in once again. Apollo wishes he could offer more help, but Will tells him it's okay that he's done his part already. He continues by saying a story never ends and that it just leads into others. He grabs Nico's hand and says they would do this together with or without a prophecy. Just when he finishes this sentence, Rachel launches into one. Apollo scrambles away in panic and as a result doesn't hear the prophecy. He tells Nico and Will that he'll let them figure this one out and Will says it didn't sound good.
Another form of Apollo appears at the Waystation. He sees that the hunters were in residence after a recent quest to find the Teumessian Fox. Reyna and Thalia are discussing how the mission went. Apollo asks Reyna if she regretted joining the hunters and she says not for a minute. Thalia says that she's a great hunter and that they'll catch the fox soon. Emmie calls them into the kitchen to wash carrots and he sees Jo trying to teach Georgina how to forge weapons. Georgina asks Apollo about the doll she gave him before he left and says no when he asks for another one.
After dinner he sees Leo Valdez who had spent a whole day teaching homeless kids shop skills at a local shelter. He tells Apollo it feels amazing to help a bunch of kids like him and show them that someone cares. Apollo asks him what he's doing for tools and Leo tells him that Festus is a mobile workshop. Jo tells Apollo that Leo has a lot of potential and Leo calls her mom. Apollo then asks about Calypso and describes the expression on Leo's face as someone who is lovesick. At last, Leo tells Apollo that she's doing good is flourishing in high school. After Apollo asks, Leo tells him that she's away at band camp as a counselor and would be gone all summer. Leo says that it's fine and sometime apart would be good, Reyna overhears and said that she and Leo had a heart to heart about the topic. She says that now Leo grew up without his mom and now he has two moms and an older sister. She tells him that Calypso will come around and that he has a heart of imperial gold.
Next stop is Camp Jupiter. He calls Hazel and Frank the most efficient praetors as they had started a rebuilding effort in New Rome in record time. New demigods were being recruited and he counted at least 20 new ones. Hazel tells Apollo about more building plans and mentions a victory arch that's going to be plated with gold. Frank confirms that Hazel's curse is officially broken, she can now summon jewels and precious metals that can be used or spent without any curses. Hazel says they won't abuse this power, it will only be used to improve the camp or honor the gods. Apollo notices that Frank carries himself much differently now his destiny is no longer tied to a stick. Frank turns around and shows Apollo that he finally mastered the trick with his cloak and turns it into a sweater which makes Apollo smile.
Later he meets up with Lavinia who made good on her promise of teaching the Fifth Cohort how to tap dance. Their unit was now feared during the War Games for this feat. Tyson and Ella were back to work at the bookshop, the unicorns were still weaponized, and Jason Grace's temple expansion plan was still moving forward. Percy and Annabeth arrive in New Rome two months before the start of their freshman year of college. Annabeth talks about focusing on environmental design at UC Berkeley while dual enrolling at New Rome University. Percy cuts her off and tells her that she has to help him get through all his freshman year courses. Percy says he doesn't know what he's majoring in yet. Annabeth tells Apollo they won't be living together but in different dorms. Apollo asks about their travels and Percy says that they did with Grover, but the road trip was wild. Apollo starts thinking about the trip he took when he was bringing Jason's body back to Camp Jupiter. Percy catches on to what he's thinking about and says he and Annabeth found out when they got to Camp. Annabeth talks about crying and she wishes she had been able to be there for Piper. Apollo says that Piper is a tough girl, and that Jason was the best of them. He tells Percy his mom and sister are doing great and makes a plate of her cookies appear in his hands as a gift for him. This makes Percy happy, and he says he takes back almost everything he's said about him
Apollo goes to visit Piper in Oklahoma and embarrasses himself. He appears on the roof and at the edge of the roof he can see two people sitting shoulder to shoulder. One leans over and kisses the other. Since Apollo's so flustered, he accidentally flashes like a camera light, getting the attention of the two lovebirds. He sees that Piper is on the left and a young lady with short dark hair, with a rhinestone nose stud on the right. Piper unlaces her fingers from the other girls' and talks about Apollo's timing. The girl on the right asks if this is her dad's boyfriend which Apollo knows Piper wouldn't be too excited about. She says he's an old family friend and asks to be excused so they can chat. Piper drags him to the far end of the roof and asks him what's up. He's flustered for a few seconds until he says he wanted to check in and make sure she's okay. She smiles and says she in the early days and Apollo says it's a process remembering their conversation back in California. He asks about her dad, and she says he seems more at peace here. Apollo tells her about Nero and Jason's funeral and Piper is glad that he did right by him. She can tell he hasn't forgotten about remembering what it's like to be human. Piper points at Shel and asks if it's alright for her to go back and Apollo tells her to take care of herself. She wishes the same for him and tells him that next time he wants to drop in, he should give her a heads up. He watches and she turns around and heads back to her new life.
The final reunion happens with Meg. He appears in Lester form and tells the Meliai that he's Meg's servant. They lead him to Meg who is digging in the dirt with her foster siblings. Meg smiles when she sees him and says that he's back. Apollo notes that she is sunburned, and they hug. She tells her siblings to keep going and that she'll be back. Meg takes him on a tour where he sees Herophile the Sibyl, Joshua, and Aloe Vera. At last, they end up in the main room where he sees Lu sitting in a rocking chair. Lu wraps Apollo in a hug and tells him she's truly happy. She lets them get on with the tour and Meg leads Apollo to a terrace. Meg wipes a tear from her eye guessing that Apollo can't stay. He takes her hand and wants to keep his promise of rewarding her now that he's a god again. He says that he can't get rid of mortal problems with a snap and can see she doesn't want a reward. He says if she ever needs him, even just to talk, that he'll be there. Meg thanks him and says that she'd be okay with a unicorn. Apollo makes one appear and gives Apollo a hug as she asks if he'll always be her friend. Apollo says as long as she'll be his, which Meg can do. They talk longer but when the sun goes down Meg understands that he has to leave. She asks if he'll come back, and he says always, just like the sun.
The book ends with Apollo saying his trials have come to an end. Six months and five volumes of adventures as well as pain and suffering. Like Meg, the reader deserves an award as well. He says he's fresh out of unicorns but anytime someone wants to fire their best shot or is trying to put their emotions into a song or poem, know that he is smiling on them. You're friends now, when you need him call on him and he'll be there for you.
Apollo receives the first part of this prophecy at the very end of The Tyrant’s Tomb before he and Meg set out to leave Camp Jupiter. Ella reads this prophecy to him:
O son of Zeus the final challenge face
The Tow'r of Nero two alone ascend
Dislodge the beast that hast usurped thy place
Apollo is confused by this and realizes this is a terza rima. They realize they will find the next stanza at their destination to which Meg is unnerved by.
Meg and Apollo receive the next part of the terza rima on an Amtrack to New York. Apollo notices an amphisbaena on the train with them and goes towards him during the trip. When Apollo pretends to go the bathroom, he grabs the creature who gives him the next part:
The Son of Hades, cavern-runners' friend
Must show you the secret way to the throne
On Nero's own your lives do now depend
The next line of the terza rima comes from the Gray Sisters during Meg and Apollo's ride to Camp Half Blood:
A dare receives the path that was unknown
And bears destruction; lion, snake-entwined
Or else the princeps never be o'erthrown
In Rachel's house, Python takes over her body and gives the group the final part of the terza rima:
Apollo's flesh and blood shall soon be mine
Alone he must descend into the dark
The sibyl to never again see his sign
Lest grappling with me to see his final spark
The god dissolves, leaving not a mark
The Arrow of Dodona gives one final part just before sacrificing itself:
Apollo must fall but Apollo must rise again
Unraveling The Prophecy
- Line 1 talks about the final obstacle Apollo would face on his to reclaiming his godhood. This final task is erasing Python from existence and freeing the final oracle.
- Line 2 talks about Meg and Apollo. They were the only two to be able to first enter the tower as temporary sacrifices.
- Line 3 refers to erasing Python from existence and freeing the oracle so the power of prophecy would be fully restored.
- Line 4 talks about Nico di Angelo, the son of Hades. His friends the cave-runners are troglodytes.
- Line 5 is about the troglodytes and how they had an underground passage into the Tower of Nero.
- Line 6 talks about how once Meg and Apollo turn themselves in, their fates are now in Nero's hands. What happens to them now is up to Nero.
- Line 7 refers to Rachel Elizabeth Dare. Her combined ability of clear sight paired with knowing the ins and outs of the buildings made her the perfect guide.
- Line 8 is about the creature with a lion's head and surrounded by snakes defending Nero's fasces.
- Line 9 is about the sacrifice of immortality. In order to gain access to the fasces someone with a divine power would have to give up their immortality. Lu makes this sacrifice and by doing so unbinds the full immortality from herself, the rest of the Gauls, and Nero.
- Line 10 is a line that is given from Python. It is most likely that he changed the meaning to ensure victory. Apollo would die trying to erase him from existence.
- Line 11 refers to how he would be the only one to face Python. This was the main goal of Apollo's quest on Earth, and he alone could do this.
- Line 12 refers to how unless Apollo goes to fight Python, Rachel will continue to lack the abilities of the Oracle.
- Line 13 refers to how Python attempted to strangle Apollo to death, taking him to the brink of his human life. Lest could also refer to a shortened version of Apollo's mortal name as "Lester" somewhat dies during this ordeal.
- Line 14 talks about the final battle between Python and Apollo. He drags him to Tartarus and down to the level of Chaos. The broken promise on the river styx is brought up again and he is punished with slowly dissolving. When it seems like he is going to be dissolved all the way, he wakes up two weeks later on Mount Olympus.
- Line 15 is about Apollo falling all the way to the brink of chaos, dragging Python with him. He rises again by being returned to his godhood.
- Sally Jackson
- Paul Blofis
- Estelle Blofis
- Percy Jackson
- Jason Grace
- Annabeth Chase
- Piper McLean
- Leo Valdez
- Hazel Levesque
- Frank Zhang
- Reyna Ramírez-Arellano
- Thalia Grace
- Gray Sisters
- Julia Feingold
- Sherman Yang
- Malcolm Pace
- Two-headed snake dude/Jamming up my quiet ride/Also, Meg’s shoes stink
- Pastries for dinner?/ Your fave Lester could never/Got to pee. Later.
- Arrow of wisdom/ Hook me up with a hideout/ No, not that one. NO!
- This child is too cute/ Please, no more adorable/ Whoops. My heart just broke
- No swearing at the/ Table? Then don't talk about/ That #@$%-@&* Nero
- Bye, Luguselwa./ Don't forget to write if you/ Ever hit the ground.
- Chariot of dam-/ Nation, why stoppest thou here?/ I don't use your app.
- I am Mr. A/ I am here to fix toilets/ And also pass out.
- Breakfast is the meal/ With pancakes and burnt yogurt/ And insanity.
- Huevos rancheros/ Do not go with prophecies/ Much like happiness.
- I apologize/ To my arrow, and undies/ And, well, everything.
- Billionaire's warehouse./ Grab your chocolate drink quickly,/ The cows are watching.
- There is no blueprint/ For taking down emperors./ Wait. Rachel has one.
- I fall in a hole/ And choke on my own anger./ I am a cow. Moo.
- It's raining red cows,/ But I don't care. I'm singing,/ Singing in the cows!
- Will Solace, healer,/ The hero we don't deserve,/ He has Kit Kat bars.
- Speak to me of soup./ Let it be savoury broth/ With a hint of skink.
- Our special tonight:/ A lovely braised Apollo/ Under a Mets hat
- Flow on, River Ouch!/ Take me - ouch! - away from - ouch!/ Blessed River - ouch!
- Have you had your lunch?/ This part is not good to read/ If you've just eaten.
- Fear the comfy couch./ Fear the jailer's fruit platter/ And shiny toilet.
- I will go the sleep/To Save everyone I love./Don't thank me. It's cool.
- Dream chariot, go!/Out of my way, I'm a god!/Honk, honk. Beep, beep. Zoom.
- Fie upon Nero,/Who wants not my arrow's speech!/(I can relate, though.)
- Beware, tech support!/Don't press the naughty button!/Welp. Now you did it.
- Tower of fun times/ Giggle with me as we climb/ For Meg! Glory! Hats!
- Can't fight in person?/We can videoconference./I'll kill you online.
- Signs of the end of times:/Torches, rolling grapes, neck beards./Meg gets cleaned up nice.
- When you're burning trees/And it's allergy season,/Expect some sniffles.
- Stayin' Alive is/Really hard when you're always/Trying to kill me.
- Godly tug-of-war/Not recommended for kids./Or Lesters, either.
- The final push, fam./Not throwing away my shot./Wait. Where is my shot?
- Seriously, guys,/I know my shot was right here./Help me look for it.
- Found my shot. Took it./Forgot I was tied to it./Down I go. Bye-bye.
- Hanging with my peeps,/Hanging by my fingertips,/It's the same, really.
- Hooray! Yippee! Yay!/Apollo is in the house./Hold you applause, please.
- Burnt marshmallow bliss,/Pinochle, and strawberries./Love you, Camp Half-Blood.
- Carrots and muffins,/Sally's fresh-baked blue cookies./I am so hungry.
- Two hundred and ten/Is a lot of haiku, but/I can do more if-/(*insert the sound of a god being strangled here*)
- This is the only book in The Trials of Apollo series to have “of” in the title.
- This is also the only book in The Trials of Apollo to have more than three words in its title.
- Apollo comments on the existence of Celtic Gods in the second chapter.
- The book was originally slated to be released on September 29th, 2020 but was moved back a week to October 6th, 2020.
- Due to this, was released on the same day as Tristan Strong Destroys the World.
- It's suggested in that Bob might've survived his encounter with the embodiment of Tartarus in The House of Hades and is calling out to Nico di Angelo for help. Nico is determined to return to Tartarus and try to rescue Bob if he can.
- Strangely, Nico implies he was at least partly responsible for leaving Bob behind, when in reality it was Percy and Annabeth, though he may simply feel guilty that he's trapped.
- Dionysus mentions Chiron is away discussion other end of the world related events with a cat and severed head. This mostly refers to Bast and Mimir respectively as Chiron states that the problems threaten more than one pantheon of gods.
- Rachel Elizabeth Dare states that she can see a huge mansion but nobody else can. This mansion is the Brooklyn House of Magic but only Rachel can see through the Mist, so only she can see it.
- She has also mentioned seeing penguins, likely caused by Felix.
- There's a reference to Rachel's proper debut book The Battle of the Labyrinth in which she throws a hairbrush at Luke and catches him off guard. In The Tower of Nero, she throws a hairbrush at a barbarian when trying to cover Apollo.
- Rick Riordan is most probably not writing another book in the Camp Half Blood Series, which is why even Rachel's prophecy for Nico's quest was not mentioned.
- However, on October 7, 2021, he announced that he was working with Mark Oshiro on a stand alone novel featuring Will and Nico.