"Father, we are quite serious. Erebus is--not dead, but unable to fight."
Leia watched Hades's face change. First it was incredulity, then pride. Now it was a look of confusion that Leia did not quite trust to let them out of the Underworld.
"I see." The very two words sent fear through her bones, and Leia thought that the case was hopeless. At least--at least my father made it out of the Underworld.
"Normally, I would refuse. But the situation is unusual indeed. My granddaughter before me, asking me to leave; a group of puny demigods who defeated Erebus; normally, I would refuse, but you can deduce that this is not a normal circumstance. Very well."
Bianca smiled in relief, and Leia just about hugged her--but Bianca's face was tight and drained. I'll wait, Leia decided, and settled for a consoling grin at her friend.
"Awesome!" Festus was dancing, his shoes making loud taps on the dark floor. "Thank you, Lord Hades! I really appreciate this and all. I--"
"Enough!" Hades frowned. "I was already gracious in letting your father return to life. Do not stress my patience further, Valdez."
Festus stopped. "I, uh, understand."
"And Leia Jackson." The ruler of the Underworld glanced at her the way he would at a mound of dirt. "You do perhaps remember the way your parents escaped my kingdom?"
"Yes, Lord Hades. They obtained three pearls and used them to get away."
He rubbed his chin in amusement. "It is only fitting, then."
She watched with surprise as Hades opened his hand and produced five pearls out of thin air. They were luminescent and a strange shade of green, drawing Leia's eyes to them. "All you have to do is place them beneath your feet and step on them. They will carry you to your fitted destination."
"Alright, then." Leia breathed deeply. "On the count of three. One, two, three--!"
They stepped on the pearls and were immediately encased in a ball of light the same color as the pearls. Leia felt unbalanced and wobbly, and the last thing she saw was Hades waving up at them, his palace tinted green.
"Oof!" Sammy fell on the ground hard, and Leia followed. Her arm felt bruised from landing on it, but she propped herself up and looked around. They were back at Camp Half-Blood, campers staring at them like they had appeared out of nowhere.
"We come in peace!" Festus shouted, brushing the dirt off of his clothes.
"It's just us!" Silena yelled at the same time. The campers began moving again, whispering to one another. Some looked ecstatic. Money passed between hands, as if they had bet on the group's survival.
"Leia!" Her parents broke through the crowd and ran towards her. Her vision swam as Leia ran to hug them. She hadn't realized how much she had missed them.
Breaking away from Annabeth and Percy, Leia scanned the camp and saw her friends receiving the same welcome. Bianca smiled faintly, looking around at her surroundings. Silena was talking to her parents, presumably about the quest. Happiness was all around them, rising into the air and the sunlight.
"Welcome home!" Chiron shouted, galloping towards them, and the campers all cheered.