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Thread: The Fate of the Olympians - A Camp Half-Blood Fan Fiction Series

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    Default The Fate of the Olympians - A Camp Half-Blood Fan Fiction Series

    The Fate of the Olympians
    A Camp Half-Blood Fan Fiction Series


    Book One: The Unknown Hero
    The Unknown Hero is the tale of Alex Monroe, a thirteen year old unclaimed demigod at Camp Half-Blood. When Alex's best friend Lucian is called for a quest to rescue the kidnapped Greek gods Apollo and Artemis, Alex follows not far behind. Accompanied by his friends Heather and Jordan, Alex will face gods, monsters, and evil television hosts, and all because of a warning from one mysterious deity: Keep your friends close, and keep them safe.

    Book Two: The Lord of the Sky
    Four months after the events of the Unknown Hero took place, Alex Monroe and Jordan Wick find themselves still at Camp Half-Blood, training for the impending war between the Olympians and the Primordial Gods. However, neither has heard from their friends Heather Gray in almost four weeks, and with the Iris Message system down, there is no way to know if she is all right until she returns. After deciding to ask the demigod scouting council they go in search of a girle named Helen from Detroit. Once they return, though, they realize that they were sent away just as the Primordial Gods made their move—now, for the first time, mortals across the globe could see through the Mist, a mysterious force that hid the gods and monsters from human vision. As civilization quickly falls into panicked chaos, Alex, Jordan, and Helen set out on a quest to help restore the Mist, and hopefully, keep the mortals from destroying themselves as the Primordial Gods want.


    The Unknown Hero

    Table of Contents
    1 - The Headless Horseman Attacks
    2 - I Get a Spear for my Birthday
    3 - I Meet a Friendlier Horseman
    4 - Mitchell Gets a Quest
    5 - A Plume of Fire Changes My Life
    6 - Heather Hatches a Plan
    7 - A Winged Gardener Saves My Life
    8 - Lucian Takes a Ride With a Hellhound
    9 - I Offend an Immortal Being Twice
    10 - We Get on TV
    11 - I Manage to Find the Sky
    12 - Jordan Creates a Paradox
    13 - We Head West
    14 - Apollo's Rival Attacks
    15 - An Old Enemy Returns
    16 - We Get a King for a Guide
    17 - A Mountain Fights Back
    18 - I Fight the Wrong Villain
    19 - The Deities Return
    20 - The New Oracle Gives a Prophecy

    The Lord of the Sky

    Table of Contents
    1 - I Get Bitten by a Vampire
    2 - My Friends are Proven Right
    3 - Helen Meets An Old Friend
    4 - Mist Tag Becomes Far Too Easy
    5 - I Deliver a Prophecy
    6 - A Firebird Burns Down Camp

    1
    The Headless Horseman Attacks


    I’m not sure which part of the day was the weirdest; when my chemistry teacher used a magic wand, when the headless ghost rode into my chemistry class on a skeletal horse, or when my friend Heather spun a bronze Frisbee into its heart. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty much as used to strange things as a twelve-year-old could be, but even by my standards this was crazy. All I can say is that I hope things can’t get even weirder or else . . . well, I don’t really like to think about it.

    Anyway, like I said, I’m no stranger to bizarre things. My earliest memory was that of being somewhere off the side of a cliff, my mother yelling at me to come to her. When I was three my mom died, and at the funeral I saw a lot of weird animals in the trees around the cemetery. I saw a creature that looked like a giant scorpion and a lion with wings. By age eight I had even started writing down all of the weird things that happened to me, like some sort of diary from the mind of an insane child. Only a few days before the . . . incident, I had been playing kickball with my friend Lucian when the ball seemed to bounce against an invisible wall after I kicked it. Lucian gave me a great big smile with his eyes squinting the way they do when he’s hiding something from me. Looking back I can’t believe I never figured it all out.

    On September 18, my thirteenth birthday, I’d had a small party at Six Flags Over Texas with a few of my other friends from seventh grade. The entire day, Lucian and Heather stared at me and the air above my head as if they expected me to be sucked up a U.F.O. tractor beam. It was creepy how they kept whispering to each other afterwards, and I got creeped out before long. By the time my father said there would only be time for one more ride, I decided to ask them what was going on.

    I led Lucian and Heather to the ride only they liked, the Titan. It even made me nauseas, but I knew it’d be the only way to talk to them in private. The line was long and the man in front of us said the ride notice board said, “Forty-five minutes from this point.” I was about to thank him when I saw just how old he was; he looked like he was about to be put in the ground. He was wearing an old-fashioned suit and top hat, both made of fine black silk. He had a wispy mustache that looked like a black baby caterpillar crawling across his white chocolate colored face. His eyes were milky and watery, and his smoky gray hair was wild, yet only hung a centimeter below his hat. His teeth were crooked and yellow. He looked like an elderly vampire.

    “Uh . . .” I said.

    “Thanks,” said Heather, and she waved her hand, telling me to look at her. I’d always had a crush on Heather, and she knew it, but today she looked additionally pretty, or maybe it was just because the last person I’d seen was the zombie man. She had long, smooth black hair and eyes so blue they looked like sapphires. Her smile was perfect, but whenever she’d played some kind of prank on someone, you’d know. She often wore plain shirts of just one color, and jeans that always seemed to be in perfect condition, despite her love for running.

    “Yeah?” I said.

    “What are you doing? You keep staring at that man.”

    “I know, it’s just-”

    “Uh guys,” interrupted Lucian. “Where did the old man go?”

    Heather and I turned around, but all we saw was the “Forty-five minutes” sign and the people ahead of us, none of whom looked anything like a vampire.

    “I don’t know. That’s weird.” I said, but then I remembered why I had gotten into this line.

    “Alex? Are you okay?” asked Lucian, with one of his slick black eyebrows raised so that it looked like it was part of his bushy mane of hair. His green eyes pierced my skin, and I felt a weird sensation come over me, forcing me to say what I was thinking.

    “Uh, yeah, it’s just . . . why do you guys keep staring above my head?”

    Lucian bit his lip and looked at Heather, who had a similar nervous expression.

    “We . . . just . . . uh . . .” started Lucian, but he didn’t seem able to find the words. His eyes scanned over me, and I felt a sensation similar to the one I’d just felt, only this time, I kept thinking why did I have to say that? Change the subject.

    “Um, you know what? Never mind. The line is moving, let’s keeping going.”

    Heather looked down at her feet and led Lucian and I down the queue. For the rest of the wait until the ride, we were quiet. The only sound we made near each other for the rest of the day was on the ride, and “WOOOO!” doesn’t really count as conversation.

    * * *

    When I arrived at school the next day, I found Lucian and Heather sitting next to each other behind the back table of the classroom, whispering. I walked over quietly so that they wouldn’t notice me, put my backpack on the table, and said, “Where have I seen this before?”

    Lucian and Heather both jerked their heads around at me, and stood up so quickly I thought that they would smash through the roof. Heather opened her mouth to speak, but Lucian beat her to it.

    “Canada?”

    I tilted my head at him and stared. I knew my eyes weren’t as powerful as his, but he flinched, and I took that as a good sign.

    “Ha-ha.”

    Heather stood up, and grabbed her backpack off of the floor. It always amazed me to see her backpack, it looked like a hiker’s bag it was so full of stuff. Once she’d had a broken arm and I offered to carry her stuff home. Let’s just say I wasn’t so quick to offer the next day.

    She hurried off to her desk across the room which left me to deal with Lucian. He tried to hurry to his desk, but seemed to have forgotten I sat right next to him.

    “What were you guys talking about?” I asked, and he gave the same reaction as yesterday, but now, I didn’t care.

    “Why did you keep looking above my head?”

    “I . . . we can’t . . . tell you,” he said slowly, and buried his head in his book.

    At first I was taken aback by what he said, but I pressed on.

    “Lucian. Why were you looking above my head?”

    He kept his head in his book, but his hair was so long it blocked the words.

    “Lucian!”

    He tightened, like he expected me to punch him.

    “Just tell me!”

    “I can’t!” he said finally. He lifted his head away from his book, and suddenly I saw fear in his eyes. I sat down, angry, confused, and annoyed, but also a little guilty.

    The bell rang, and our English teacher, Mr. Monroe, came in, carrying a stack of text books. I looked out the door that was slowly closing, and saw several more stacks outside.

    “Mr. Monroe, can I help?” I asked. Normally I’d never voluntarily lift a bunch of books, but I really like Mr. Monroe. For one thing, we shared a last name, so he rather liked me. For another, he was the only teacher I’d ever had who didn’t bore me to death. I have ADHD, so it was hard for me to be still, even for a forty-five minute class period. Mr. Monroe would often have us reenact the stories we were learning about. It was always fun whenever we’d be reading a Shakespeare play and we would act out the battle scene like in Macbeth or Hamlet. We would even get to act out the battle, but not necessarily have the same results. Once, in a no-story-told reenactment of the Iliad (Meaning whoever really acted the best fighter would win, even if they played a Trojan), I, as Patroclus, avoided being killed by Hector and saved Achilles from being shot in the ankle by an arrow.

    “Thank you, Alex,” he said, and put down his stack on his desk. “The red ones go on my desk, and the blue ones are passed out to the students.”

    I nodded and walked out the door for the books. After a few minutes Mr. Monroe and I had passed out the books, and he gave me a Jolly Rancher as a reward. I knew that Lucian’s favorite flavor was grape, so I pocketed a purple candy to give to him later, if he told me what was going on.

    After English, Lucian and Heather took off down the hall before I could get a chance to talk to them. I headed the other way for P.E. in the gym. I didn’t see either of Lucian or Heather until sixth period, science. I went into the classroom and saw Lucian at the lab table in the back, and hurried over to him. His eyes widened and he looked around to see if there where any other tables he could get to quickly, but he gave up. I sat down next to him and pulled out the Jolly Rancher from my pocket.

    “You want it?” I said, and held it up for him to see.

    He hesitated, but then said, “Yeah, okay,” and grabbed it.

    For a while I was quiet, and let the science teacher, Ms. H talk. I realized that even now, five weeks into school, no one knew what the “H” stood for. I kept looking over at Lucian, who looked so focused it was hard to believe that he had ADHD like me. I always joked around about him being related to her, because they had the exact same shaggy black hair, yet slick eyebrows, and shocking green eyes. They both had a natural talent at chemistry as well, which made him her star student. She was also really kind to me, like how a mother of a friend acts when you come over to their house. He always laughed, but he gave me the same squinting eyes look that meant there was something he wasn’t telling me. I knew Lucian’s last name was Wick, so it couldn’t be true, though, no matter how often I thought about it.

    After about ten minutes, everyone stood up, and I realized she must have just said some kind of direction, because one kid from each table, including Lucian, walked over to her desk, and for the first time I noticed the beakers full of blue liquid and the pennies. Lucian came back to our desk and we put our safety goggles on. We also found our worksheets in the drawers, and I saw that today was another find-it day. Whenever we had a find-it day, we would have to figure out what chemical we were using by how it makes another object react. I grabbed the timer like normal, and watched as Lucian dropped the penny in the beaker. At first nothing happened, but then . . .

    “Whoa,” I said, and almost fell out of my chair. The penny was starting to literally glow like the sun. As I watched, the copper coin began turning brighter and brighter, and finally the water changed color too. It was becoming a light blue, now turquoise, and finally green. The penny was becoming yellow and shiny, until the glow finally stopped. The penny looked like it was made of pure gold.

    “Alchemy,” Lucian whispered. “Sweet.”

    I’d heard of alchemy before. It was some sort of ancient chemistry where the people tried to turn cheap metals into gold. I wondered . . . could this really be . . .

    “It’s not real gold,” said Lucian, like he’d read my mind. “It’s brass. Kind of like fool’s gold, but it’s actually worth something more than a cent.”

    “All right, students. Who can tell me what has happened, hmm?” Ms. H said and scanned around the room. “Ah, yes. Lucian.”

    Lucian lowered his raised hand and spoke clearly to the class, “A layer of brass formed around the penny. It’s not real gold, but it’s one of the methods they used in alchemy.”

    “Correct. Now, on your worksheets-”

    Suddenly, Ms. H went silent, and her eyes went wide. Lucian did the same thing, and turned his head quickly to the wall as if it were about to explode.

    “Uh, Lucian-” I began, but Lucian quickly gave me the finger-on-the-mouth “hush” sign, and looked back at the wall. A moment passed, and I almost thought Ms. H and Lucian where going crazy when a loud banging came from the classroom door, and a muffled voice came through. I couldn’t make out all of what the voice said, but I knew exactly who it was.

    “Ms. H! It’s Heather!” was what I gathered Heather had said. Ms. H rushed over to the door, and yanked it open. The rest of the class was whispering now, but I was too scared to speak. If Lucian and Heather where acting strange, could it be why they were whispering?

    Heather ran in and over to Lucian and I. She looked stressed, and before she even got to the table, Lucian was up.

    “Come on!” he yelled, and the three of us ran out of the classroom. I heard Ms. H say something behind us, and she came after us. She was reaching for something in her black coat pocket. When she pulled it out, I knew I was seeing things. At first I thought it was some kind of weapon, but it was . . . a stick.

    We ran down the hallway when there was an enormous crash and I looked back, despite Lucian and Heather pulling me forwards. What I saw made no sense at all. Out of the chemistry room came a man riding on a horse. The horse was smoky black, almost as if it was made out of pure darkness. It had fiery red eyes and neighed like it was some kind of rabid cat, “Shra aha aha!”

    On top of the horse was something that made me fall over on the ground. It was a man. A very old man that looked like he was ready to be put in the ground. It was the person from Six Flags. Except for one major difference.

    “Why . . . why is he holding his head?” I yelled, and Heather and Lucian picked me up. The old man looked angry, and in the speed of his horse’s running, the top hat blew off. His hair looked like it was molded out of dead grass that was painted like stone. His eyes were shut tight and his mouth was yelling furiously. His suit wavered in the wind like a flag, and he whipped the demon horse’s reigns, making it run faster.

    I was done being frozen in fear and started running for my life. Ms. H was ahead of the three of us now, but she stopped and turned around, her eyes swimming with fury.

    “Lucian! Heather! Take Alex to Chariot!” she yelled, and held the wand out in front of her. Despite my fear, I saw all of the engravings on the stick and had a crazy thought, but after the headless horseman arrived, I figured it was extremely logical.

    “That’s a . . . you’re a witch!”

    “Yes, Alex, but I prefer Hecate. It is much more formal.”

    Hecate. The Greek goddess of witchcraft. Sure.

    “Heather!” Lucian yelled, and he let go of my arm. “Take Alex to the chariot! I’m going to help my mother.”

    Ms. H was Lucian’s mother. His mother was Hecate, the Greek goddess of witchcraft. Sure.

    Lucian whipped out a wand of his own and ran towards Ms. H. Heather took me forwards, and I yelled out, “What is going on?”

    Heather looked at me, and I felt truly scared. Her eyes were wet with tears and she was shaking as bad as I was.

    “Heather! That was, like, the Headless Horseman!”

    “Technically he’s an Acephali. A Greek headless humanoid spirit.”

    “Why does that matter?”

    “It . . . it doesn’t. I’m so sorry Alex. It was our job to keep you safe! We should’ve realized that you needed to get out of here sooner! When you weren’t claimed yesterday-”

    “Claimed? What does that mean?”

    “Your mother was supposed to claim you yesterday! That’s why Lucian and I kept looking at you! Demigods have to be claimed by their parent by their thirteenth birthday, unless . . .”

    She seemed lost in thought. We had gotten off of the school grounds, and I saw jets of light going off behind us. Lucian and Ms. H, or Hecate, where managing to hold off the Acephali. Heather turned me down into an alley across the street, and down the way I saw something silver shining. As we got closer, I saw that it was some kind of ancient Olympic games chariot, coated in a silver paint that sparkled like the moon. On the side, the carved waves glittered to make them look like rushing water. There was nothing attached to the reigns, but it looked like it could go fast, though I wasn’t sure how I could know about chariot speed.

    “I’m really sorry, Alex! Just . . . stay here! I have to help Lucian and Hecate!” said Heather, and took off running, leaving me alone in an alley, while my two best friends in the world and a Greek goddess fought against a ghostly Headless Horseman.

    If you don’t have ADHD, you can’t really understand the situation. I can’t sit still when I’m very bored, and when I’ve been still for a while. When something is happening, something dangerous, you just have to do something, anything. I tried to jump just to get rid of my nerves, but I couldn’t. I heard fighting sounds going on, and I wondered why no one was noticing anything. Why couldn’t anyone see what was going on?

    It took too long. I couldn’t take it anymore. I could not stay here while my friends where in danger. I ran down the alley and towards the school.

    “Alex! What are you doing?” yelled Lucian, and Hecate turned her head. She whipped her wand around and a burst of pink light shot forward. Suddenly a giant magenta bubble formed around the area, and I couldn’t get through.

    “Let me in!” I yelled, but no one did anything to help. I saw Lucian jump, and he fired a green light. It hit the horseman in the chest and he almost fell off of his steed. The horse reared up on its back legs and almost trampled Heather, but she dodged just in time. Then Hecate fired a huge ball of energy which exploded on the horse, and it burst into black dust. For a moment, I didn’t realize what had happened, but in her magic against the ghost, she’d lost power over the forcefield and I was let in. No one noticed until the Acephali said, “Look who has decided to join the fun.”

    Hecate, Lucian, and Heather all looked at me, and started yelling things like, “Get out of here! It’s too dangerous!” but I kept coming. The horseman laughed, and suddenly an opportunity came for Heather. She saw the horseman distracted and pulled out a thick, sharp bronze discus with a Greek Eta, η, on it. She twisted her arm back, and spun the discus around with such force it flew through the air like a Frisbee.

    Suddenly the Acephali, stopped laughing. Its eyes opened wide just as the head rolled out of his hand. On impact with the ground, the head rolled to Lucian’s feet, and a second later, the entire body burst into black powder like the horse, and a foul smell of sulfur entered the air. There was a metallic Clang as the discus fell onto a water drain in the grass, and Heather walked over and picked it up. She pushed the engraved Eta and the entire disc shrank into a tiny version of the Greek letter. A chain dropped down and she pulled it over her wrist. This whole time, that wristband had been some sort of weapon.

    Lucian and Hecate both slipped their wands into their pockets before approaching me. Hecate turned to Heather, who also started towards me, and said, “I told you to take him-”

    “She did take me to the chariot Ms., um, Hecate,” I said quickly. Hecate gave me the same look Lucian always does, and she nodded like she believed me.

    “Well, then we should return to it. Heather, I shall take Lucian to camp. If you ask your father, he may send you help to fly Alex and yourself to Long Island. You may want to . . . explain things to him.”

    The next second, Hecate started glowing. Heather looked away, and I thought I should to. In a flash, Lucian and the Greek goddess were gone.

    “What did she mean, you may want to explain things to me, and what does she mean your father will send you help? I thought you said he passed away.” I asked, and Heather’s expression softened. She looked like she felt sorry for me.

    “First, we need to get to the chariot. I’ll tell you everything on the way.”

    “On the way to where? All Hecate said was Long Island.”

    “To camp.”

    “Right.”

    “Alex, this is serious. We need to get you to Camp Half-Blood, it’s the only safe place on earth for people like us!”

    “What do you mean people like us?” I was starting to get impatient.

    She sighed, and took a deep breath. “Demigods. Half-bloods. I’ll explain everything later. It’s a long story.”

    * * *

    Thanks for reading! Please leave any comments you might have, thanks!
    Last edited by AlexMonroe; 14th July 2013 at 7:58 PM.

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    2
    I Get a Spear for my Birthday


    “Hermes? Really?” I asked.

    “Yes, Hermes. He’s my father.”

    I let that sink in. We had been flying for only a medium length of time, yet somehow it looked like we had reached the Appalachian Mountains. Heather had just been telling me that because she was a demigod, a daughter of Hermes, that she had the ability to distort distances when flying. It allowed her to be able to get places much faster than normal, but not quite as fast as her father, who could disappear from Australia and appear in Russia in less than a second.

    It also helped that once we had gotten to chariot back at the school, there had been a real, honest to god, or gods, dragon. It had a scaly green body like a serpent, a diamond-shaped head with horns sticking out the back, two large scale green bat wings and four thick legs like a dinosaur. Hermes had sent it to us because he had a certain power over snakes and reptiles like them, and this was the fastest way to fly. Heather had told me all about Camp Half-Blood, a training facility for demigods. She explained that all of the ancient Greek gods were still alive, and lived above the Empire State Building, and that they would occasionally descend to earth and have children with mortals. She explained about the Mist, a magical force that keeps mortals from seeing all the mythical things around them, and many other things, but she never got to the thing I wanted to hear. She kept talking until the New York coastline was in view, and then she finally said, “Do you have any questions?”

    “Yeah,” I said, and my tongue said what I’d wanted to say a second before I had planned it to, and it came out like, “So who is so my who godly is parent?”

    Heather raised her eyebrow and said, “What?”

    I took a deep breath. “So who is my godly parent?”

    Heather gulped and looked down the way she does when she feels guilty about something. “Well, that’s the thing. A long time ago, the gods have made an oath that said they would claim their child by-”

    “Their thirteenth birthday,” I said; I remembered that Heather had said that to me before. She nodded.

    “Lucian and I were waiting to see who would claim you. We’ve both known that you’r a powerful Half-Blood, that’s another word for demigod, by the way, for a long time. After a while, Lucian told his mother about you, and she came to see you as well. When school started, she hypnotized the person you were supposed to have for science, and took the role herself. The real Ms. H is somewhere in Connecticut now.

    “Then how do you know it was my mother who was the godly parent?”

    “Because,” said Heather, and the dragon slowly dipped the chariot down towards a large coastal hill. At first I didn’t see anything, but then . . .

    “Whoa!” I said, and Heather stopped talking. Below our chariot there was an enormous Greek village. Everything was made in the old-fashioned style, an amphitheater, a sword fighting arena, and even the dining pavilion looked like it was made by the ancient Greeks. The only thing was, everything looked so new, not like the real Greek buildings.

    “Wha . . . what is this place?” I asked.

    “This is your new home. Camp Half-Blood.”

    The dragon landed, and Heather and I stepped out of the chariot. As soon as we did, the dragon flew off, and the chariot disappeared in a flash of silver light. Ahead of us there was a large marble sign, with the words “CAMP HALF-BLOOD” etched into it. Heather didn’t seem too excited at the sight, but I was in total awe.

    “Anyway, we know your godly parent is your mother because you have a father. The truth is that she’s still alive, and she’s a Greek god.”

    That brought me back to reality.

    “What? My mother wasn’t a god. Neither of my parents were my birth parents.”

    Heather stopped in her tracks, right under the sign, and she turned to face me.

    “What?”

    “Yeah, my birth parents are, or at least the non-godly one is dead.”

    “Why . . . I’ve known you for three years! How could you not tell me that!”

    “Well, it’s kind of depressing,” I said, which was true. “My father said that when I was only six months old, my parents had both died in a car crash. I was put in an orphanage, and right after my first birthday, I was adopted by my new parents. But even then, my new mom died.”

    “Whoa,” said Heather, and she looked down.

    Suddenly someone called from down the hill where we were standing.

    “Heather! Alex!”

    Lucian came running up the stairs and greeted us.

    “Lucian, Alex’s godly parent isn’t his mom. Well, it could be, but we can’t know for sure.”

    “How?”

    “He was adopted.”

    “Oh,” he said, and turned to me. “Well, anyway. I assume Heather told you that she’s Hermes’s daughter, and you know I’m Hecate’s son.”

    “Yeah,” I said, but I was kind of depressed after talking about my family history.

    “Aw, cheer up man! You’ll be claimed soon, and then you’ll have a new parent.”

    “Wait, I thought you guys said I had to be claimed by the time I was thirteen. If that’s true, how can I still be claimed?”

    Lucian thought for a second, and he became less enthusiastic. “Well, Heather and I, we think you may have already been claimed. Have you ever seen some sort of symbol above your head? Like a hologram?”

    I thought about it, then shook my head.

    “Hmm. Well, oh! Heather, did you show him the spear?” He was addressing Heather now.

    “Oh, no!” she said, and turned to me. “I did tell you about Celestial Bronze, right?”

    “The metal that can only hurt monsters, gods, and demigods?” I said. “Yeah.”

    “Okay, you know how Lucian gave you that arrowhead necklace on your birthday?”

    I nodded. When my father and I had picked up Lucian to go to the theme park, he’d given me my present early. He’d said it was an ancient war arrowhead, and I had put it on my neck and forgotten about it.

    “That was actually a gift from my mother, Hecate,” Lucian said. “Take it off.”

    I pulled the chain off of my neck and examined it closely for the first time. On one side, there was a shimmering iron letter pressed into the arrowhead, an A.

    “That’s actually a Greek Alpha,” Lucian told me. “It stands for Alex. Press it.”

    I did, and for a second, nothing happened. Then, the arrowhead began to glow like the penny had, only this glowed silver, and it became a shiny new point. Then a long, black metallic rod grew from the base and in a few seconds I held a spear in my hands.

    “Whoa,” I said, yet compared to everything else that had happened today, this was actually quite mundane.

    “The Alpha should still be on the arrowhead, though it’s actually a spearhead now.”

    I looked at the tip, and found the silver letter still engraved. I pressed it, and the weapon became a necklace again.

    “Wait a minute,” I said, realizing something. “This can’t be Celestial Bronze. It’s silver.”

    “There are other metals witch similar powers, such as Imperial Gold and Stygian Iron,” said Heather.

    “But this metal,” Lucian picked up. “Can only be made using Hecatian magic.”

    “Hecatian magic?”

    “Hecate’s magic.”

    “Oh.”

    “Anyway,” he continued from before. “This metal is called ‘Hecatian Silver.’ It’s just like Celestial Bronze, except for three things.”

    “Yeah?”

    “First, like I said, it can only be made using Hecate’s magic. Second, it’s silver, obviously. Third and most important . . . wait, did you tell him how monsters reform?”

    “How monsters don’t actually die, but they are destroyed for a while? Yeah, she did.”

    “Great. So, the most important difference between Celestial Bronze and Hecatian Silver is that when you use Hecatian Silver to destroy a monster, they have a magical bond placed on them that keeps them trapped in Tartarus longer. It’s similar to the effects of Stygian Iron.”

    “So, this metal is more powerful than Celestial Bronze? Cool.”

    “And also,” Heather said. “Don’t worry about losing it. No matter where you leave it, no matter who takes it, your spear will always return to you after a while. It’ll come back in its necklace form, like mine comes back as a bracelet.” She held up her wrist, and I saw the Eta chain.

    “Well, anyway,” Lucian began, and he turned towards the camp. He twisted his head around and said, “Heather, come on. We need to take Alex to the Big House. Chiron and Mr. D have been waiting to see you for a while, Alex. Let’s go.”

    * * *

  3. #3
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    Okay, my school's kind of mellowed out now that we're further in from summer, so I'll be able to write more often!

    For now, I'll start with chapter three:

    3
    I Meet a Friendlier Horseman


    Mr. D only had to say one sentence for me to know he wasn’t exactly pleasant to be around, “Real sharp, aren’t you Alec?” Lucian and Heather walked me down the hill and towards the large, sky blue farmhouse. As we walked by the amphitheater, I noticed just how incredible the architecture of the structure was. I felt right at home, and even like I was some sort of big-brother to this camp. It was weird, almost like I felt this entire place belonged to me.

    We pass by the lake and across the river, and came to a collection of very strange buildings, built in the shape of a Greek Omega, O. At the end there were two enormous buildings that looked like gold and silver mausoleums. One of the neighboring cabins looked like it was made entirely out of stone collected from the ocean, which I guessed it was. There were seashells all over and on the back wall was a salt water spring. Another building looked like it had been grown from the ground, and covered in flowers. One building was made of a very dark material, and had torches all around burning with green fire.

    “What is this place?” I asked.

    “These are the cabins,” said Lucian, and he stopped walking forward. “One dedicated to every god or goddess with children here. Until we find out which cabin you belong in, you’ll be staying in the Hermes cabin with Heather.”

    “We take in all of the unclaimed campers, Alex,” she said, and I realized just how many other campers there must be if they needed a place just to stash all of the unclaimed ones. “Luckily I’m the Hermes Cabin Leader, so I’ll be able to watch over you.”

    We kept walking until we came across one of the other cabins. It was as black as midnight, and the walls rippled and changed as if it was alive. Above the door there was a glowing shape that looked like a set of brass scales. I stopped, and had an overwhelming urge to go forwards.

    Lucian and Heather finally noticed and turned around.

    “What are you doing?” she asked me, and suddenly I was brought to reality.

    “I . . . I don’t know. I was just entranced by this building.” A crazy thought when through my mind. “Hey, guys. Whose cabin is this?”

    Lucian and Heather’s eyes popped open wide. “Uh, that’s Cabin Sixteen,” Lucian said. “Nemesis’s cabin.”

    “Alex,” Heather said gently. “Do you . . . do you think you’re a child of Nemesis?”

    “I don’t know,” I said. After a few moments of silent, we continued for the Big House.

    I saw a lot of campers passing me; some had sculptures they’d made in Arts and Crafts, some with weapons like swords and shields, heading for the Sword Fighting Arena. I even saw two teenagers dueling, by the looks of them identical twins, with identical bronze lances. Everyone was wearing orange t-shirts that said, “Camp Half-Blood.” Once I saw a pure white Pegasus fly over my head, and I stared at it for a minute before Heather and Lucian pulled me forwards.

    We walked along a creek for a while before we reached the Big House, but when we did, my eyes almost popped out like a cartoon. On the porch there were three people sitting around a table, each holding playing cards. On the side closest to me there was a . . . a thing. It was a human boy with curly brown hair, except for two small bumps in his head. Below his orange shirt was the lower quarters of some sort of sheep. He had two shiny black hooves below his shaggy brown fur.

    On the left of the creature was a man with slick, greasy black hairs and eyes of a powerful, deep purple. He was holding a Diet Coke can in his right hand, and was examining the cards in his left. He was wearing a bright orange leopard jumpsuit, but he didn’t really look like he’d ever spent a day working out.

    Finally, there was a man with chocolate colored hair and a beard to match. His eyes were wise, and he looked exactly like a stereotypical teacher, except for one major difference. Below his plum colored suit was the bottom half of white stallion.

    It was a while before anyone spoke.

    “Ah, Lucian! I have not seen you for so long! And Heather, you’ve grown so much!” said the horseman.

    “Thank you, Chiron,” said Lucian, and Heather smiled.

    Then the horseman, Chiron, turned to look at me.

    “So, I see the mission was a success. Has Hecate returned to her realm?”

    “Yes, Chiron.”

    “Good, good. Now, your name is Alex, correct?”

    It took me a while, but I realized he had addressed me.

    “Oh, um, yes, Lord . . . Lord Chiron.”

    “Lord? Heather, have you not told this young man who I am?”

    “Oh, sorry, Chiron. I was a little distracted,” said Heather, and she turned to me.

    “Alex, this is Chiron, the immortal trainer of heroes. I’m pretty sure you’ve realized that he is a Centaur.”

    “Right. Centaur.”

    “Real sharp, aren’t you Alec?” said the man in the Leopard suit.

    “Um, it’s actually Alex, Mr. . . . Mr. . . .”

    “My gods, Helen! Haven’t you taught this boy anything? It is your one use.”

    “Sorry, Mr. D,” she said, and turned to me. Before she could say anything, though, I said to Mr. D, “Her name is Heather.”

    “How fascinating,” said Mr. D, and took a sip from his can.

    I was about to react, but Lucian and Heather held me back.

    “Alex,” Heather said. “You don’t want to make Mr. D angry. He’s . . . he’s . . .”

    She leaned over and whispered in my ear.

    “He’s the god of wine, Dionysus.”

    “Oh,” I said, and I felt my ears go red. “Sorry Mr. D.” I tried to sound sincere, but being around this guy just made me angry.

    “Well, I hope you learned your lesson, Allen.”

    I had to clench my teeth to stop myself from reacting.

    “Now, Mr. D, Alex has just come today. Heather, Lucian, it would be best if you took Alex to see our Orientation Film,” said Chiron, and he waved us off. He sat down and whispered something to Dionysus.

    “Of course, Chiron,” Lucian and Heather said in unison, and they led me away from the Big House.

    The Orientation Film was located in a small chamber in the back of the Amphitheater. Lucian showed me that the only way to open it was to have permission from Chiron or Dionysus, which would make the doors open as we approached, but only once. Inside, there were three rows of less-than-comfortable stone benches and a misty screen on the opposite wall. As soon as the doors clattered shut behind us, the screen flickered and changed color. After a few seconds, an aerial view like the one Heather and I had seen from the chariot appeared, along the words, “CAMP HALF-BLOOD.”

    Suddenly a cheerful voice, much like the one you would here on an infomercial sounded all around the room, saying, “Welcome to Camp Half-Blood, a hero’s paradise.”

    “Before we get into detail about our camp, it’s important to make sure you understand why you are here. For those of you who don’t know, the ancient Greek gods are still alive today. If you have come to Camp Half-Blood, it means that one of your parents is one of these Olympian gods. You will train here so that you can defend yourself if needed. Now, let’s take you on a tour of the camp.”

    The view changed and it became a bird’s eye view of the camp from the entrance gate.

    “We have many facilities here where young heroes can train. We have a Sword Fighting Arena-”

    The view changed to the Arena.

    “-An Armory-”

    The Armory appeared.

    “-And of course we have our twenty demigod cabins, each dedicated to a specific god. The cabins, in order, are Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Ares, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Hermes, Dionysus, Hades, Iris, Hypnos, Nemesis, Nike, Hebe, Tyche and Hecate. Once you have been claimed by your godly parent, or if you have already been claimed, you will be moved to the cabin belonging to that parent. Until that time, however, the Hermes campers will be more than happy to let you stay with them.

    “Here at Camp Half-Blood, there are two main people in charge, Mr. D, who is actually the powerful god of wine, Dionysus, and Chiron, the immortal trainer of heroes. They both can give out quests, missions for young heroes to go out into the world to complete a certain task. The Oracle of Delphi, who is currently named Rachel Dare, will give prophecies to these heroes to guide them on their quests. If you do not have a quest, we ask that you do not leave the camp. Thank You.”

    I wasn’t expecting that to be the end of the movie, but the screen turned black and the back doors opened. I noticed that Lucian and Heather hadn’t sat down like I had, but had stayed by the doors the whole time. Lucian was smiling, and said to me, “I love when we get mortals to do stuff.”

    I was about to ask what he meant when Heather answered my question.

    “Yes, it’s very funny to hypnotize mortals into doing our bidding. They do have a certain way with words.” I couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic or not.

    “That was . . . interesting,” I said, for lack of a better word. Lucian and Heather both started cracking up, and they started to lead me towards the Big House. I thought about what the movie had said about being claimed. I also thought about how I had wanted to join the Nemesis cabin.

    Well, I told myself. It’s no weirder than anything else that’s happened. Heather’s a daughter of Hermes, and Lucian’s a son of Hecate.

    I knew it was true, but it sounded weird to me. This morning, my biggest worry was that Lucian and Heather expected me to grow a horn like a unicorn. Now even that seemed like an ideal alternative.

    I figured the best way to be able to accept it was to say it aloud.

    “Come on, Alex,” Lucian yelled ahead of me.

    I took a deep breath, then spoke.

    “I am a son of the Greek god Nemesis.” Then I ran after Heather and Lucian.

    * * *

    “All right, everyone. We have a new member,” said Heather.

    We had just arrived at Cabin Eleven, where I would be staying until I was claimed. Lucian had already headed off to the Hecate cabin for the night, and I still needed to find a place to sleep. The cabin was packed. I count thirty, maybe thirty-five people. One third of them all had the same crooked grin that Heather showed when she’d done something bad. As I watched, one boy in the back grabbed a gold coin from another boy who was staring at Heather and I. Then he spoke.

    “Determined?”

    “No,” said Heather, and the entire cabin groaned and started mumbling under their breath.

    “Guys, that’s what makes the Hermes cabin great! Don’t be upset because of our hereditary hospitality!” She was trying to sound upbeat, but even she sounded upset about sharing her space with so many people.

    “He looks old enough, is he almost thirteen?” said a girl on the left.

    Heather gave her guilty look and said, “Actually, he’s already thirteen. We think . . . we think he might be a Nemesis camper, though. We’re going to try and find out as soon as we can.

    Heather waved me inside and over to her area, one of the only spaces that had a bed. She said I could keep my stuff near her, and reminded me that Hermes was the god of thieves. After remembering that and seeing the thief from before swipe another two coins from a girl, I was glad I didn’t have any possessions to lose. When the sun started to set, Heather gave me a sleeping bag, and I sat down next to her. I started asking a few more things about the camp. We kept talking for a while until another camper who was trying to sleep threatened to impale us with his javelins if we kept making noise.

    “Good night,” I said to Heather.

    “Night.”

    One important thing I learned about demigods that night was how much our dreams suck. Heather had warned me before going to bed that half-bloods never got a peaceful night’s sleep after finding out who they were, but I wasn’t prepared for this.

    The first part of the vision was so quick and fast that it was hard to realize what was going on. One second, I saw a fiery red Maserati flying, literally, through the sky. Suddenly a dark shape appeared, and the light flickered. In a flash, the scene faded, and a Greek temple appeared.

    I could tell I was up high without even looking down, just by the air pressure. I didn’t want to look down, but obviously my body made me. The mountain wasn’t that steep, but I still freaked. I even opened my mouth to scream, but no sound came out. There was heavy snow all around, and hail was pelting me painfully, even though it was a dream. There was a mild stretch of sloped, icy rock leading to the temple, and as I approached it, I wanted to vomit, and not just to see if I could hear it fall from up here.

    The white marble was dotted with horrible scenes. The archway that opened into the dark interior of the temple was covered in the zodiac signs, but each of the symbols was in a moment of sickening violence. Near the top was Leo the Lion, mauling a deadly accurate carving of a Greek hero. Scorpio was piercing the heart of another victim, who looked like he was crying in pain. Next to the scorpion was Sagittarius, a Centaur who looked similar to Chiron, except that he was shooting arrows into a crowd of people. For a while I couldn’t do anything at all, until a women, with a voice so dark and vicious it sounded like she was hissing spoke to me in a language I would only later realize was ancient Greek from inside the temple.

    “Hello, young hero. Do you like my ssservant’sss decorationsss?”

    I wanted to yell out, “Who are you?” but I still couldn’t make a sound.

    Another voice sounded, just as ancient and cold, but more defined, like the woman had spoken with smoke, and this man spoke with stone.

    “Soon, it will all make sense to you, hero. You can be useful, or we can dispose of you. A warning, keep your friends close, and keep them safe.”

    I didn’t know why the man was giving me a warning, as if he expected Heather or Lucian to drop dead in front of me. Especially if he owned this temple, how could he even speak words of kindness?

    The two voices laughed, and I saw a shadow move behind the doorway as if one were approaching me. I never got to find out, however, for the next second, a bright burst of silver light exploded into the cabin, making everyone jump. I looked at Heather, and she mouthed, Stay calm to me, though she looked pretty freaked out herself. She stood up from her bed, and turned her wristband into the bronze discus. I also grabbed my weapon, and in a few seconds I held my spear tightly, and I saw several other campers do the same thing. For a long time, everyone stayed still, until a knocking came on the door. Heather, who was the leader of the cabin, approached the entrance and opened it. Outside it was too dark to see anything, but Heather saw whatever it was.

    “Forrest?” she said, and another one of the goat men stepped in. Everyone else was staring at the creature, but Heather seemed to think no one else could see him.

    “It’s a satyr,” she said, and I didn’t have time to process that I’d just learned a new word. With my Dyslexia, words weren’t exactly a big deal.

    “Chiron is calling a meeting in the Big House. All the cabin counselors are coming. Bring a few others, too,” said the satyr, Forrest, and he ran out the door.

    “All right,” said Heather after a while. “You heard Forrest. I think one other Hermes camper should come, how about Rick.” The thief I had seen before stood up and walked over to her. He was much older, and for the first time I thought it was weird that Heather was cabin leader if she wasn’t the oldest.

    “And two unclaimed, Sierra,” an african-american girl stood up. “And Alex. Come on, let’s get to the Big House, and quick.”

    * * *

    I plan to have the next chapter up by Tuesday.
    Last edited by AlexMonroe; 25th October 2011 at 1:52 PM.

  4. #4
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    4
    Mitchell gets a quest

    By the time Rick, Sierra, Heather and I reached the Big House, every other cabin except for Hecate had arrived. Everyone was whispering to their neighbors, discussing the burst of light. Chiron was at the back wall, but he looked as though he where a full human in a wheelchair. Mr. D was sitting next to him, but he kept nodding off every few seconds.

    When Lucian and the Hecate cabin counselor arrived, Chiron got out of his chair, and I saw that it seemed to magically store his horse hind quarters when he sat in it. I stared at it for a second before Chiron yelled over the other campers.

    “Silence!”

    He waited a moment for the last of the conversations to end. His perfect brown hair was a little ridged, like he had woken in a hurry. I heard Mr. D snore, and Chiron rolled his eyes.

    “Now. I believe you all know why I called this assembly.”

    “Because of the moon thing,” said a girl from the Hebe cabin.

    Moon thing?

    “Yes, the ‘moon thing.’ For those of you who did not witness the event directly,” Chiron said, noticing all of the confused faces. “The moon acted in an odd way tonight. The light flickered before releasing the burst of silver light I trust you all saw.”

    Most campers nodded their heads.

    “At this time, we are unaware of the true situation. However, as Athena has informed me, it seems that Artemis, the moon goddess, has been kidnapped, again.”

    “Again?” I asked Heather, confused. It seemed weird that a goddess could be kidnapped, but twice?

    “About fifteen years ago. The Titan, Atlas, kidnapped her and trapped her beneath the sky.”

    “Whoa,” I said, and we both turned back at Chiron.

    “Of course even the gods do not know exactly, but with the evidence of the solar flare and the lunar burst, both of which are very rare events, happening on the same day, it is only possible they are connected. When Zeus called an emergency council, neither Apollo or Artemis was present, and so we believe it is safe to assume that is what has happened.”

    There was a lot more murmuring among the crowds, and I asked Heather, “What are solar flares and lunar bursts?”

    “Well,” she said. “Lunar bursts are sudden releases of lunar light, and it happens whenever something bad happens to Artemis. One hasn’t happened since long ago, not even when she was kidnapped last time.”

    “Okay,” I said.

    “Mortals do know about solar flares,” she continued. “But they don’t care much about them. They occur whenever something odd has happened on Apollo’s daily trip with the sun car-”

    “Sun car?”

    “Apollo has a red Maserati sports car, which is technically the sun.”

    My heart sunk, and I remembered the vision of the Maserati and the sudden darkness.

    “I saw Apollo be kidnapped!” I said, a little too loud. Everyone in the room looked at me in shock, and even Heather’s eyes were wide.

    “What?” she said.

    “Just now,” I said, but this time I purposely projected my voice around the room. The two Apollo campers looked scared by what I had said, and I realized that I was being pretty insensitive. Apollo was their father, and they’d just heard me blurt out that I’d seen him be kidnapped.

    “I saw his sports car in the sky, and suddenly it was dark, and then the scene changed,” I said, but this time directly to Chiron. “It all happened so fast.”

    Chiron seemed to be thinking to himself for a while. A few campers started talking again, but both Lucian and Heather eyed me nervously. Finally she said, “Seeing stuff like that isn’t good, Alex. It can mess with the outcome of stuff, tangle up the plan set by the Fates.”

    “Maybe I was supposed to see that stuff because of the Fates,” I said, but I wasn’t actually sure what the Fates were.

    Finally, Chiron spoke.

    “Everyone, quiet!” he said so loud that Mr. D jumped in his sleep and spilled the Diet Coke on the table over an Iris camper. She jumped, and Mr. D said, “Oh, it doesn’t matter. Just don’t go and complain, like I know you will.”

    Chiron gave Mr. D a that’s-not-how-you’re-supposed-to-act look, and the god of wine sighed.

    “Go get a paper towel then. But only one, we’re in a recession, you know.”

    The girl ran out of the room, and everyone stared at Dionysus angrily.

    “Anyway,” Chiron began. “If what you say is true, Alex, we can confirm that our archery gods have been kidnapped. The main questions are who and why now? There must be some sort of significance about today, and if we figure out what it is, we can figure out who it is. But in the meantime,” Chiron’s expression tightened. “It would be best to consult the Oracle. We need a quest.”

    The room burst into discussion. I didn’t know what was so strange about what Chiron had said, at least nothing more strange than the existence of the Greek gods.

    Heather must have sensed how I felt, because she leaned over and whispered in my ear.

    “Four years ago, the Oracle gave a prophecy to the wrong hero. Because that hero went on the quest, nothing turned out as the prophecy had predicted, and everyone on the journey died.”

    “Ouch,” I said, and Heather smiled.

    “Calm down, calm down,” said Chiron, and he grunted like he was preparing for a speech.

    “I know that the last time a quest was given, there were . . . to say it gently, a few problems. However, I believe our Oracle is ready. Mr. D, would you be so kind as to fetch Miss Dare?”

    “Hmm?” Dionysus said, and he snapped out of his sleepiness in a few moments. “Sure. Carter,” he said, pointing to one of his sons. “Do what Chiron . . .” Mr. D fell back to sleep. Muttering under his breath, the boy named Carter went out the door of the meeting room.

    “While we wait for our Oracle, I think we should decide who should go on our quest. I believe it would be most appropriate to send a child of Apollo,” said Chiron, and he turned to the two campers, a boy and a girl. “Mitchell, as the Apollo counselor, will you accept the quest?”

    “Of course, Chiron,” said the boy named Mitchell without time for hesitation. He had honest eyes that were swimming in different emotions, fear, surprise, sadness.

    A few seconds later, Carter returned with a redheaded women who looked to be in her early thirties. She had tricky eyes, and looked like a person you wouldn’t know if you could exactly trust, much like the Hermes campers.

    “Rachel, we are ready for a new quest. Our hero will be Mitchell, he is the Apollo camper sitting across the table.”

    The woman jerked her head around, and walked over to Mitchell.

    Suddenly her eyes turned a violent green. She looked like some sort of demon had possessed her, and she opened her mouth. When she spoke, it sounded much like the woman from my dream.

    "I am the spirit of Delphi," said the woman. The voice sounded like it was echoing through my head, which really disturbed me. "Speaker of the prophecies of Phoebus Apollo, slayer of the mighty Python. Approach, Seeker, and ask."

    The voice stopped, and all eyes where on Mitchell.

    “Umm . . . uh, how can I find Apollo and Artemis?”

    Suddenly a vision appeared in the room, much like the orientation film. It showed Apollo in his Maserati, smiling at Mitchell. When Apollo spoke, though, his voice was that of the Oracle.

    “The sun and moon rest in the sky,
    Above the world, two of five shall die,
    The deities shall return,
    But their replacements shall fade,
    And the leader must stay,
    As debt to the betrayed.”


    The woman, Rachel, blinked and her eyes returned to normal. The vision faded, but Mitchell still stared above the table like it hadn’t faded. After a moment, Rachel whispered something to Chiron and left. The Chiron spoke, and Mitchell snapped out of his chance.

    “I believe the prophecy was clear enough. You shall take four campers with you to find Apollo and Artemis. The only question is now up to you, Mitchell. Who shall accompany you?”

    For a moment, Mitchell was still, thinking hard. Then he spoke. “I want Casey,” and the other Apollo girl stood up. “I accept,” she said, and Mitchell nodded.

    “I also want Kyle,” he said, and a Zeus camper stood. “I accept.”

    “I also want Sierra.” Everyone looked shocked by this. It even seemed strange to me that Mitchell wanted an unclaimed camper, until he kissed her. That’s why, I thought to myself.

    “One more,” said Chiron peacefully, but he looked upset about the kiss.

    “Finally, Lucian.”

    Lucian stood and looked at me. It was weird at first, but I realized that Lucian had friends here too. I figured if Mitchell wanted him on the quest, I couldn’t stop him from going. However, that line scared me, “Above the world, two of five shall die.”

    I noticed Heather looking nervous about Lucian going, but she started nodding at Lucian, and I decided that Lucian going would be for the best. The quest members couldn’t have a better partner.

    Finally I nodded as well, and Lucian said, “I accept.”

    “Excellent,” Chiron said, and he looked seriously at the standing campers. I noticed Heather looked nervous about Lucian going as well, but pretended not to notice.

    “You shall leave in the morning. That gives you about five ours to plan. Argus will drive you into the city, and then you will be on your own. Good Luck.”

    Then he turned to the sitting campers, and said, “Back to bed, all of you. The quest members will use this meeting room to plan for the rest of the night.”

    And with that, all of the campers left, and I waved goodbye to Lucian. Only two people will return, My mind said against my will. I left the Big House trying not to think that I would never see Lucian again.

    * * *

  5. #5
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    5
    A Plume of Fire Changes My Life

    On the way back to the cabin, something really weird happened. I was completely exhausted, and my brain wasn’t quite ready to acknowledge everything that just happened. I just wanted to know what time it was.

    My whole life, I’d always liked to know what time it was. I know most kids are like that, because they care about how much time they had to relax or take a test, but I didn’t really have a reason. I just liked to know what part of the day it was. Whenever I woke up in the middle of the night, the first thing I did was turn to the clock. Normally if it was past one, I would go and get a drink or something. Occasionally I would just watch the sky, and I would know the time by the location of the sun.

    Of course I know what you’re thinking, but no, I didn’t think I was a son of Apollo because of the solar time thing. It was more about time. I racked my brains, trying to think of some Greek god of time. I came up with Kronos, but I didn’t even want to think that the evil Titan Lord was my dad. I would’ve asked Heather, but I was too tired to care enough.

    That’s when the weird thing happened. As soon as my mind realized I wasn’t going to figure it out by some external source, the exact time slipped into my mind.

    One twenty-six.

    At that point, I looked furiously for a clock to see if that was correct. It felt correct, and I sensed that it was true, but how could I know?

    I was trying to think back of any other memories that tied in with this, when the dream I had seen entered my mind. I remembered what the man had said, “A warning, keep your friends close, and keep them safe.”

    Lucian was going on a life-or-death quest. Could this mean . . . could Lucian . . .

    No, I told myself, like I did whenever I thought about something happening to someone or something I cared about. That person was evil, he just wanted to play with your mind.

    I tried to believe that as we returned to the cabin. Heather explained what had happened the best she could, but I could tell the exhaustion had snuck up on her as well. After a few minutes of reliving what had happened, she laid down on her bed and fell asleep. A few seconds later I felt the tiredness take over and said a prayer to the gods.

    Please no dreams.

    Well, the Greek god of dreams, who I learned later was Morpheus, apparently has a soft spot for me. I woke up in the morning having just dreamt that Lucian and I were still back home in Dallas. (Though for some reason, Dallas seemed to have gained a large beach overnight.) I was happy for the first few seconds, until a horrible thought entered my mind. I used my internal body clock again, and learned that Lucian and the rest of the quest members had left over an hour ago.

    The rest of the cabin was empty, so I was able to get up as loudly as I wanted, which felt good, seeing as how I was angry at my body clock for not waking me up. I found that someone had tucked an orange Camp Half-Blood shirt and blue jeans under my sleeping bag, and I pulled them on quickly. I stepped over everyone else’s stuff on the way to the door, but I didn’t care.

    Heather was reading a book on the doorstep when I came out. I didn’t know what the book was, but it seemed to be in a different language, with weird letters. After a few seconds I realized I had understood the name of the book, Βασιλιάς Αρθούρος, γιος του Δία, which was printed on top of her page.

    King Arthur, Son of Zeus.

    I started reading the page, but when I got past a paragraph talking about the lost scabbard of Excalibur, Heather seemed to notice me for the first time. She looked a little, flushed, like she thought I’d just been staring at her.

    “Alex!”

    She slipped a gold piece of ribbon in her page, and shut the book. The end of the ribbon waved in the wind, and I wondered if even the bookmarks here were magical. Maybe they would say what page you were on if you asked. I was tempted to say something, but then Heather spoke.

    “So, you found the clothes I got you?”

    I nodded, but my thoughts went to Lucian again, and she must have noticed.

    “They left an hour ago. I missed them as well.”

    “Why didn’t he wake us?”

    “I was told by Chiron that by the time he realized we needed to be woken up, Mitchell said they had to go. Chiron said that Lucian had started towards the cabins, but he had to go. I was going to Iris message him, but . . .”

    She froze when she saw my face. She realized I didn’t understand, and reached into her pocket. When her hand came out, she was holden a solid gold coin.

    “This is a golden drachma. The mortals’ ones were silver, but that’s not really the point. You see, the goddess of the rainbow, Iris, is one of the messengers of the gods. Most of the time, she also sends messages for demigods as well, if she can.”

    She stood up, threw her book into the cabin, and led me down the rows of cabins. I noticed one that looked like an iron factory, and based on my knowledge of Greek Mythology, I guessed it was Hephaestus’.

    Finally we stopped at the seashell cabin. There was no one inside, but the door was open. We walked to the salt-water spring in the back, and I saw that there were hundreds of golden drachmas at the bottom of the stone pool. Then Heather closed her eyes like she was about to say a prayer, and held her coin out in front of her.

    “O Iris, goddess of the rainbow, accept this offering.”

    She flipped the coin above the spring, and it disappeared where the mist sparkled different colors. Out of the corner of my eye I saw another camper walk in the door, but stepped back out when he saw us there. Heather seemed not to have noticed.

    “Lucian Wick,” she said, but nothing happened. After a second, Heather opened her eyes, and lowered her hand. Another few seconds, and the coin we had just thrown in dropped from the mist.

    “What the . . .” said Heather, and reached in to grab another coin. I wondered wether it was safe to have a hundred gold coins out in the open, especially with campers like the ones in the Hermes cabin.

    Heather repeated the ritual, with the same results. She grabbed a bunch of drachmas from the pool, then handed them to me. She would toss her coin into the mist, wait, have it fall down again, then grab another from my pile. It went on for a while, but on the bright side, I learned a lot of new Greek swear words.

    Finally, when I was down to just one two coins, I started playing with one. I flipped it in the air and dropped it, seeing if it would roll. When it landed, it took off towards the doorway, but right as it was about to go over the edge, it seemed to bounce back.

    “Cool,” I whispered to myself, but I couldn’t hear it well with Heather’s threat to turn the fountain to rubble.

    “Ugh!” she yelled, and kicked the fountain. It looked like it would cause her a lot of pain, but she just grunted.

    “Well, anyway, whenever it actually works,” she said, giving the evil eye to the fountain. “You can talk to the person whose name you say.”

    Suddenly her eyes widened and she rolled her eyes.

    “Oh my gods, Alex! We were talking about Lucian!”

    She started walking back to the Hermes cabin, and we picked up the conversation again.

    “Well, what I was saying was that I was planning to Iris message Lucian, but I decided to wait for you. But I suppose we can’t talk to him now, for whatever reason, so let’s go get breakfast. Neither of us got dinner yesterday because of your orientation with Chiron. I don’t know about you, but I’m starving.”

    My stomach was growling, so I agreed. On the way, she started talking more about Camp Half-Blood, and even started teaching my some Ancient Greek. It wasn’t exactly easy to learn to speak, but it wasn’t any harder than English, thanks to my Dyslexia. Heather even explained that ADHD and Dyslexia are always diagnosed for half-bloods. We couldn’t sit still because of our battle instincts, and we couldn’t read because our brains were wired for Greek.

    By the time we reached the Mess Hall, breakfast was already starting to end. Most campers had gone off for their activities, so it was just Heather, me, two Aphrodite girls and an unclaimed camper, Hugo.

    The food was incredible. We had old-fashioned water goblets that would fill with any nonalcoholic drink we wanted, and it would never run out. There was bacon, pancakes, eggs, sausages and muffins, as well as a ton of other things I didn’t get to try.

    When the very last other camper got up and left, Heather turned to me, and swallowed a large clump of scrambled eggs.

    “I think we’d better get going. Now that you’re a part of the Hermes cabin, you’re going to need to learn our schedule.”

    She ripped off a bite of bacon and chewed for a few moments, then continued.

    “Our Tuesday schedule is Sword Skills, Archery, Lunch Preparation, Greek, Stable Cleaning, Canoeing and Volleyball. Also, Cabin Inspection is on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, so try to keep it clean today.”

    “When is Cabin Inspection?”

    “During Breakfast. The cabins switch off who has to do it every time, and tomorrow is Ares, and they’re harsh.”

    “Okay,” I said, trying to remember everything she’d said. She must have noticed my expression, because she said, “I’ll remind you throughout the day. First is Sword Skills, so let’s get to the Arena.”

    I took one last chunk out of a pancake and stood up. I was excited to try sword fighting, especially since it would be the first chance I would get to use my spear. Taking my necklace off of my neck, I followed Heather across the camp.

    The first thing I learned when I got to the Sword Fighting Arena was this: Hecatian Silver weapons are awesome. A bunch of tall, burly kids in the coliseum who would never normally talk to me came over, wanting the hold my spear or throw it like a javelin. For a while, I let it go on. I’d never gotten much attention from other people at school, so the feeling was new. After a few minutes, though, I got tired of passing it around, trying to stop people from stabbing others in the chest.

    “Ares campers,” said Heather, rolling her eyes at the tough kids when I walked over to her. “Whenever someone has a rare weapon, they’re willing to kill each other over it.”

    “I guess, but it’s not like it’d hurt to lose a few,” I said, and we both laughed. There really were a dozen of them, each with similar wide builds and angry eyes. In fact, I thought I saw a few of them flicker like they were on fire.

    “So, how does this work, exactly?” I asked Heather, as more of the wandering Hermes campers came over to us.

    “What do we do?”

    “Well, I think we should be partners for today, at least. Just do what I tell you.” I nodded.

    After a few minutes, the group had split up into pairs, except for one group of three: Me, Heather, and the only friendly Ares camper, a short Hispanic boy named Jack. He had a common Son-of-Ares power that allowed him to summon any weapon he chose, but he chose a magic Celestial Bronze javelin with war carvings all around the shaft. Heather had also picked up a gold sword from the Armory, one that reflected the blazing fire in the brazier behind us like a mirror. If it had been bright enough, the light could’ve probably blinded me.

    Heather and Edgar decided it would be best to demonstrate some basic maneuvers of sword fighting, such as countering attacks, disarming, and weapon lock, a tricky move where one opponent tangled their blade against the other’s, causing neither blade to be able to move. A few more minutes passed, and I decided I was ready to try it myself.

    “Okay, Alex. First, find the sweet spot on your spear where it feels balanced,” Heather said to me when I stepped up.

    After a few moments, I found a perfect pivot point a little ahead of the middle. I wasn’t sure if this was what Heather meant by “sweet spot,” but it felt good to me.

    “Okay,” I said, and Heather’s eyes narrowed.

    “Let’s try the counterattack maneuver. I’m gonna lash the sword at you, but not too hard you’ll be in any real danger. Turn the spear sideways like Edgar did . . . that’s right, and . . .”

    She swung the blade in a perfect arc, and the sun’s light caused it to look like the blade was spanning out. I lost focus for a second, but right before the sword made contact with my spear, my instincts took over.

    “Oh . . . oh my gods, Alex. What was that?”

    She wasn’t saying I had done anything bad, but I clearly hadn’t just blocked the blade. I had managed to spin my spear at a precise second, and the sword had spun out of Heather’s hand and tumbled through the sky over her head.

    “That was . . . that was . . .”

    “Something?” I suggested.

    “Something,” she agreed.

    A few heads started looking over, and I saw Edgar whispering in another Hermes camper’s ear. Soon, everyone was whispering to the person beside them, passing on the story about how I’d done an impossible move. Everyone started clustering together, coming closer. The attention was nothing like before, when everyone had admired my spear. No, this time everyone looked at me like some kind of superhero.

    “How did you do that?” one of the Ares campers finally asked.

    “I . . . I don’t know.”

    More whispering.

    “All right everyone,” said Heather, waving her arms. “Get back to your groups.”

    The crowd slowly dissipated, and Heather asked, “Honestly, what were you doing?”

    I took a breath and said, “I was actually staring at the blade. It was making a gold arc, and I just couldn’t take my eyes off it. When I knew the sword was about to land . . . I don’t know. It just sort of . . . happened.”

    She nodded reluctantly, like she was disappointed I hadn’t done some super-fabulous sword trick.

    “Let’s try it again,” she said, but then froze like she’d been turned to stone. From what I knew about Greek Mythology, I got scared, thinking Medusa was behind me. However, after a few seconds, I realized that Heather was doing something she’d done all day on my birthday.

    I looked up, and saw nothing, but Heather still stared at me, until finally she spoke.

    “The fire . . . the plume of fire . . .”

    I wanted to ask what she was talking about, but I was too stunned to speak. The plume of fire? Did she mean the brazier behind her?

    “Alex . . . you’ve been claimed.”

    Suddenly I understood. The “plume of fire” was something that had appeared over my head. Heather had told me what all of the different claiming symbols were, but I had never expected this.

    “I’m . . . a son of Hades?”

    * * *

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Somewhere, being sarcastic
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    Most... Interesting

    You see, I'm a huge Percy Jackson fan, but haven't read the new series yet.

    Good points.

    Very Percy Jackson sort of writing. It reminds me greatly of the books.

    i like the sort of way Alex was thinking through the different gods and who his father/mother was. in Percy Jackson I thought it was to obvious.

    The numerous references to the books. This includes rachel, mentioning stygian iron and the oath o claim children.

    Keeping loyal to the Percy Jackson universe. I'm very glad you didn't mess it up like they did with the movies.

    Bits to improve on

    Tread carefully when adding new things. I don't know if these are in the new books, but I felt the magic wands and summoning weapons was a bit to much.

    A bit more character development. In percy Jackson, all the characters were unique. Clarrise for example: Tough and rough on the outside, but caring and loyal on the inside. The fourth book adds so much to her character.


    All in all a very good fan fic.
    Charizard

    Enought Said

  7. #7
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    Oct 2011
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    Camp Half-Blood
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    6
    Heather Hatches a Plan

    Heather helped me move into Cabin Thirteen. My only possessions where my old T-shirt, a pair of brown shorts, and the clothes on my back. It was weird leaving the Hermes cabin so soon, I’d only been there one night, yet the place felt like my home.

    We only had to turn a corner to get to the Hades cabin, yet the trip seemed to take a while.

    “So . . .” I said when we reached the cabin, a solid black obsidian building with a skull over the door and torches that always burned with green Greek fire.

    It wasn’t quite what I pictured for “home sweet home.”

    “Yeah,” Heather said back. After a few more seconds and an awkward hug, she trudged off to the Archery field with the Hecate, Hermes and Zeus campers.

    That left me to move into my new home myself.

    When we had been walking back from the Sword Fighting Arena, Heather had told me that the Hades campers would be having their Greek lessons at the moment, which gave me about an hour just to pick a bunk while I waited for the next class.

    I stepped into the cabin, expecting to see some sort of horrible decoration scheme, like bear skeleton carpets, or fiery pits every few feet. Oddly, though, the Hades campers had left most of the cabin pretty much untouched. There were four bunks, three of which where covered in things like books or laptops, and so I put my extra clothes on the bottom left bed. I sat down, and considered going to sleep. But if I did, how would I be able to wake up in time for the next class?

    I remembered the morning, and how I had missed seeing Lucian as he left for the quest. I thought about how we had tried to Iris message him without success. Soon, before I could help it, my brain nearly drowned in thoughts about Lucian and the quest, and I fell asleep against my will.

    “ . . . following us.”

    “No, that’s not possible. How could it have stayed on our trail?”

    “I don’t know, but we should probably get moving, this place gives me the creeps.”

    “Okay, but if any sees any movement that isn’t one of us, yell out and hide. Otherwise . . . well, I don’t want to think about it.”

    “Then let’s get going.”

    Everything was still darkness, but I had recognized the voices. It was Lucian and the other members of the quest, and something was following them.

    Suddenly, a landscape came into view. Everything was shrouded in a white mist, like I was standing in a cloud. Before me, there was a girl with auburn hair, who looked to be about my age, twelve or thirteen. She had on strange, old-fashioned clothes, and her eyes were wild with wisdom, and I had a feeling this was no thirteen year old girl.

    I was staring at a goddess.

    “They are searching for us, hero, much as they did before. However, I doubt they will be so lucky this time.” The goddess was definitely talking to me.

    “Don’t let them find us, they’ll be in too much danger,” said another voice behind me. I turned, and saw a surfer-looking man with sunny yellow blonde hair. Suddenly I realized who was in front of me, Apollo and Artemis.

    I finally discovered how to speak.

    “You . . . you don’t want to be rescued?”

    They both shook their heads.

    “It is too risky, none shall survive if they come for us,” said Artemis.

    “So, you sent the monster after them?”

    Both gods were still, but then Apollo glumly nodded his head.

    “We were trying to get them to return home. It wasn’t a fool-proof plan, but it was the best we could do in the time we had. We were kidnapped so suddenly, it was all we could think of.”

    “So, what monster did you send?”

    The gods were still again, until Artemis whispered, “Cerberus.”

    I was too stunned to speak.

    “Apollo managed to release him with his powers of music. He enchanted a bird to sing an ode to the Door of Orpheus, which is located in Central Park. The music made an entrance to the Underworld, and Cerberus was drawn out by the bird’s song, which was a musical call for him.”

    I couldn’t move from shock. No, I wasn’t that shocked, I just couldn’t move. The mist started fading around me, and I wanted to yell out and make the gods stay, but I suddenly woke up to a violent jerk.

    Speaking of violent jerks . . .

    “Hey kid,” said a tall man with black hair so thick it looked like liquid darkness. “Who are you?”

    I wanted to punch this guy in the face for some reason, but I thought better of it. Instead, I said, “Alex, your brother.”

    The man looked surprised, and angry too. He looked me over, judging me, and finally laughed.

    “You? A child of Hades? Don’t make me laugh.”

    “Oh yeah?” I said, and pulled off my necklace. In a second, I had my silver spearhead pressed against his chin.

    “And who are you?”

    The guy smiled, and said, “Maybe you are my brother. Name’s Xavier Knight, and you might not want to point your weapon at me in the future, I used to serve Lord Kronos himself. I’ve still got a little pull with the Titans, too. Just don’t go blabbing about it, or you and everyone you told is going to have a very powerful immortal on your trail. You got that?”

    I nodded, but I didn’t want to. This guy was a total traitor to everyone here, and he went around demanding respect. I didn’t know if I fully believed him about the Titans, but I decided I didn’t want to find out the hard way.

    I lowered my spear and said, “Yeah, sure. But don’t forget, I could tell Chiron, and you don’t want him as your enemy.”

    Truthfully, I didn’t know how true that was, but I knew that Chiron had trained a lot of heroes in the past. Heracles, Achilles, Jason, and a bunch of others I couldn’t even name. Apparently it was a good comeback, though, because Xavier even looked like he agreed with what I’d said.

    “Free period, now. In an hour, we’re going to lunch, and you’d better wake me up in time. If you don’t, I’ll be serving idiot-kebabs for dinner. If anyone else does it for you, then they’re dead, too.”

    He laughed, and stepped around my bed, and up a ladder on the wall. He purposefully jumped onto the bed to make it pop down next to my face, and started pretending to snore loudly.

    A minute later, a girl who looked like Xavier’s twin came in, and climbed up to the top bunk opposite me without a word. Another minutes passed, and one last kid, who looked like Xavier only badly shaken came in and laid down across from me. By this point, the girl had joined in with Xavier in fake snoring, and the other boy had opened a book to read. I decided to go for a walk.

    I remembered that Heather had said the Hermes campers had Lunch Preparation today, so I went down to the Mess Hall to find her. When I got there, I didn’t see anyone at any of the twenty-one tables, but I did see a big white marble door on the back wall. I walked over to it, and slipped inside.

    Once I was in the kitchen, it was easy to find Heather. Most of the cooking devices were magical, so they didn’t take up much room. Everything was white, so her pitch-black hair stood out like fire in a block of ice. I ran over to her, and she noticed me right as I reached her.

    “Alex!”

    She put down the tray she was holding, a metal square covered in hamburgers and potato chips. She slipped off her two white gloves and gave a “just a second” symbol with her right hand. She slipped off somewhere, and about a minute later, she came back.

    “The head nymph said I could take a break. Where do you want to go?”

    I said the first place to came to my head. “The Arena.”

    Heather nodded, and she led me out the back door. We started across the field, and I told her about the Hades cabin.

    “Yeah, Xavier is a pretty tough nut to crack. He tells everyone about how he had been a part of the Titan’s army like it’s something to be proud of.”

    I wanted to yell to her, He is proud of it! He’s still all buddy-buddy with the Titans! but I thought about his threat, and kept my mouth shut.

    “If I were you, I’d definitely wake him up in time. He may have exaggerated about the idiot-kebab thing, but he can do some serious damage with club of his.”

    I nodded, and wished I hadn’t brought up the topic. I really needed to talk to her about my dream. I was waiting for the right opportunity to tell her, but she kept talking about how to survive as a child of Hades.

    “ . . . and if you touch her hair, she’ll get out her flail and literally-”

    “Lucian’s in trouble,” I interrupted, but Heather didn’t care. She looked at me funny, and a little scared.

    “What? How do you know?”

    “I had a dream. I also saw Apollo and Artemis. They’re being held somewhere with a lot of mist. They said they had unleashed . . .” I gulped.

    “What?” Heather demanded.

    “Cerberus. He’s been following them, and they know it.”

    Heather lowered her head, and I saw her lips moving, like she was talking to herself. She did that sometimes whenever she was thinking hard, and Lucian and I had always assumed she thought no one could see because of her long hair. It never seemed to make a thick veil, though.

    “We need to find them.”

    “What?” I said, and I heard my yell echo off of the nearby Arena.

    “We have to find them, wherever they are, and help them.”

    “How are we supposed to do that?”

    Heather gave a little smile, her wicked plan smile. Rubbing her Eta bracelet, she said, “With a little help from my father.”

    In hindsight, her plan was so simple and obvious that I felt stupid not to have thought of it myself. We discussed it for a long time before we realized it was time for lunch. On our way back to the Mess Hall, I froze.

    Xavier, I thought. One on hand, I really didn’t care if the guy slept past his lunch or not. On the other, I didn’t really want to be beaten to a pulp with his club.

    “Just, don’t draw attention to yourself. If we get there before him . . .”

    We turned the corner, and saw Xavier sitting at the Hades table, a look of cold fury in his eyes. Before I could freeze, he looked straight at me, and an evil smile broke across his face.

    “Nevermind,” said Heather, but she gave me a look of pity, like she really believed I’d be on the dinner menu. She quickly ran over to the Hermes table, but looked back at me as I went through the room.

    “It looks my alarm clock is busted,” Xavier said, and the Hades girl laughed. The other boy chuckled, but he gave me an I’m sorry look. "Or at least, he's gonna be."

    “Well, you know what they say. When something is broken, you just gotta hit it.” The girl laughed again.

    “What do you think, Evelyn? Drown him in canoeing? Maul him with a monster?”

    “I’d wait for stable cleaning, then I’d hit him with the horse-”

    “Just shut up. I don’t care if I didn’t wake you. Personally, I think you needed the beauty sleep. Bad.”

    The other boy laughed out loud, and Xavier yelled, “Shut up, Jordan!” Then he punched him in the face.

    What I did next happened so fast I didn’t even have time to think about it. All I knew was that I was on the table, spear in hand, and Xavier’s forehead was bleeding. It looked like Heather had rushed to my aid, but it wasn’t necessary.

    “You little-” Xavier may be stupid, but he sure knows some good Greek swears. He jumped up, and raised his club. It was a pure black metallic baton with deadly spikes on the end like a pinecone. For a moment I was scared, but then Heather threw her discus, and Xavier’s club was knocked out of his hands.

    “You little-” More swearing. Xavier stood and went for his club, but Evelyn swung her flail out instead. It was pure black as well, and obsidian handle with a ball and chain that seemed to be made of pure dark energy. She swung, and a hole appeared in the table right where I had been standing.

    “Stop!” roared Chiron, and everyone froze. He had a bow and arrow in hand, and looked furious. Mr. D, who was sitting next to him, looked amused.

    “Don’t be a party pooper, Chiron. They're stupid little brats, let them kill each other!”

    Chiron payed him no attention. He kept his arrow notched, but I saw it didn’t have an arrowhead. Instead, it had an electrically charged suction cup, like a stun arrow.

    “All of you! Xavier, Alex, Evelyn and Heather! To the Big House, now!” Chiron yelled with such fury I realized what I’d said before to Xavier really was true. You did not want Chiron on your bad side.

    Oops.

    “Chiron-” said Heather.

    “Now!” he yelled again, and all of us slowly made our way out of the Mess Hall.

    For the first minute of walking, no one said a thing. Finally Xavier, who was completely red from rage, whispered to me, “You . . . are . . . dead.”

    I nodded and smiled.

    “Don’t be so down, that wicked cut I gave you might turn into a scar! You know how the half-blood ladies love scars.”

    For a moment Xavier seemed to be thinking about it, but then he said, “Then I’m gonna do you a favor. I figure the bigger the scar, the more attractive, do you agree? So let’s make you all nice and pretty, shall we?”

    He made his club appear as if he had reached into his shadow to grab it. My spear would take time to open now, and I’d be dead before I even got the chain off of my neck.

    “So long, Alex,” he said, and raised his club.

    Heather and I both flinched, but nothing happened. A second passed, and then a blood-curdling scream echoed all around. We loosened, and saw Xavier and Evelyn on the floor. Evelyn didn’t look to be in too bad of a shape. She had cuts all over her arms, and a pool of red liquid was forming under her head.

    Xavier was looking bad. He had noticeable gashes all over his head, and a large cut on his chest. He still seemed to be breathing, but it was hard to believe he was alive.

    “Who did that?” said Heather confused, yet also relieved.

    “I did,” said a mysterious voice, and suddenly the air became dark in front of us. In a second, I was staring at the Hades camper named Jordan, who was holding a long, blood red pitchfork.

    “Jordan?” I asked, but then I realized that was stupid. We needed to get out of here, and I had to clarify his name?

    “Yes. Now, judging by what everyone already thinks of you guys, we’re going to need to get out of here fast. Any ideas?”

    Heather and I smiled and nodded.

    “We’re going to find the people on the quest.”

    “How?”

    I took a deep breath, and said, “You know how Heather’s a daughter of Hermes? Well, she has a shared ability with him that allows her to find any mortals or half-bloods. Of course Hermes can also find gods, but they have an aura that is confusing to the demigods.”

    “I already have a good idea of where they are,” Heather picked up. “They don’t know exactly where to go, so they’ve been searching everywhere, and haven’t made much progress. I sense a group of Apollo half-bloods along with a child of Zeus and Hecate. Another half-blood is with them, but they don’t know their parentage, so the aura isn’t strong enough.”

    “So where are they, then?” asked Jordan, who seemed to easily grasp our idea.

    “They’re moving. About an hour ago, they were around Baltimore. Now, they’re somewhere near D.C.”

    “So let’s get going,” said Jordan, and I realized he had thought he’d be going too.

    “Uh, Jordan, we weren’t planning to have you . . .”

    I froze. Campers had started spilling out from the Mess Hall, and staring at us. I realized Xavier and Evelyn were still knocked out, and the three of us didn’t have a scratch.

    I saw a gleaming projectile rocket through the air, and realized too late it was one of Chiron’s stun arrows. It hit Heather dead on, and she passed out. More arrows fired, and I managed to get my spear out in time to deflect most. Another almost hit Jordan, and we locked eyes.

    Now.

    Jordan started running, still blocking arrows with his pitchfork, and I reached down to grab Heather. I pulled the arrow off of her head and held her in my arms. She was surprisingly light, and I realized she must have a natural lift force because of her dad.

    I couldn’t use my spear to deflect any more arrows because my arms were both around Heather, so I just had to run. Jordan was ahead of me, and he managed to slip into the woods. I followed before any of the other campers could get to me, and jumped into the woods as well.

    “Jordan!” I yelled. “Just keep running! They won’t leave the borders!”

    He tried to nod, or at least I think he did, his head was shaking so bad because of the adrenaline. I ran after him, and slowly the yells of the campers died out.

    Suddenly a vine flicked up from the ground and tripped me. Heather rolled over a large pile of sticks, and her face started bleeding.

    I hit away the vine with my spear, but when I looked back at Heather, dozens more were starting to sprout from the ground, inching their way towards the two of us. They started growing thick around my arms and legs, forming leafy ropes. I managed to slice off a good section on my right and stood up, but my ankle caught in a knot and twisted. I yelled from the pain.

    Heather was started to be coated with the vines, and if I hadn’t known any better, I’d say she was starting to sink into the ground.

    “Jordan!” I yelled ahead, limping over to help Heather. “Help!”

    I started hearing the roar of the campers again, and knew there wouldn’t be much time left to get out. I thought I saw a flicker of Jordan’s red pitchfork, but it was just a dark crimson flower. One that hadn’t been there a second before.

    I gasped as the flower rose higher on a vine from the ground. I picked up Heather, and when I looked back at the plant, the petals had started to close together, like a rose. Leaves started making a sort of cloak over the bud, and started to take the place of a suit. The bulb started to morph, becoming more rounded, like a head. Then I realized it was a head.

    It grew long leaves over the flower, and two crevices poked in underneath. There was a stubby nose below the plant eyes, and another hole for the mouth. After a few more seconds, the entire plant began to thicken, growing arms and legs.

    It was a plant avatar of Dionysus.

    “Now, Albus-”

    “Alex.”

    “Alex, then. I’m not your enemy. Personally, I think that Hades boy needed to be taught a lesson. I’d also like for you to run away. Then we would have four less campers to care about. Unfortunately, and I say this with honesty, Chiron doesn’t share my views. He says if you don’t return he will be forced to take dramatic action. That sounds nasty, doesn’t it?”

    I was still too shocked to speak.

    “Not in the mood for talking? Fine. Let’s bring you back the fun way, shall we?”

    Suddenly I started noticing the vines again. They started whipping me and Heather, entangling us both so fast I didn’t even realize what was going on before I was rooted to the spot. I swung my spear to cut the vines, but another few came and snatched my weapon away. Heather was still unconscious, so I made a silent prayer to her father, Hermes.

    Heather hasn’t done anything wrong. She needs your help. Please, I know this is asking a lot, but I need you, and more importantly she needs you. Keep her safe.

    Then I did the only thing I could do. I ripped the vines off of her and held her up. Thank the gods she was lightweight, especially after a few moments, when I hardly noticed her weight at all. No, I didn’t feel her weight at all. She was floating above me, and I knew it was Hermes’ protection.

    “Oh dear,” said Dionysus, who looked very confused. “I suppose I won’t be able to strangle that one. But . . . I suppose I can settle for you, Alvin.”

    Suddenly the vines around me started thickening. I could feel them pressing against my chest, pushing out the air. A leafy cocoon started forming around me, and I could feel the pressure on my feet as I was pulled beneath the earth. I took one last look at Heather’s limp body before a thick vine wrapped over my face.

    That was when the woods burst into flame.

    I heard Dionysus roar in fear, and a popping sound followed by a dull Clump, meaning Mr. D had disappeared. I started feeling heat around me, and flickering light came through the creases between vines, a flickering light that reminded me of the brazier in the arena. It seemed so long ago that I had been claimed, how the fire had appeared above my . . .

    I wanted to yell out in joy, except for the blazing fire all around me. I knew any second my cocoon would ignite, and braced myself.

    Clump. The vines fell down around me. For a second, I was even happier than I had been before. Then I realized that even though my prison had crumpled because Mr. D was gone, I was still surrounded by flames. I looked up and grabbed Heather from the sky, but she didn’t budge. I pushed her, and she floated over, like a cloud.

    “Alex!” a voice called, and I turned around. Jordan was on the outside of the fires, and ran through, but they didn’t affect him at all. I felt a few grapes pop in the heat, and when they splattered on my skin, it burned for a few seconds, then became numb.

    “You’re . . . why are you burning? Hades’ kids don’t get burns.”

    “I know, I’m not a son of Hades. The ‘claim’ Heather had seen was a reflection of the brazier on her sword. It was just a trick of the light.”

    For a moment, I was refilled with my excitement, but then I knew it was time to run. A tree had just burst into flames. I really hoped there was no tree nymph connected to that pine.

    “The borders are just a minute away. Can you move your girlfriend?”

    I was embarrassed that he had called Heather my girlfriend, but I figured there were more pressing matters at the moment. I nodded.

    “Good, follow me.”

    He ran ahead, and split the flames apart to make a walkway for me. With the roar of the campers close behind, and with Heather still riding on air, we disappeared into the trees, and away from Camp Half-Blood.
    * * *

    Thanks to CharizardFan for the tips - I was attempting to base my characters off of my real life friends, which I assume isn't exactly an uncommon things, but I would like to give them each more of a personality. In 6, I made two new main characters who I hope will have more to them. The wands, I admit, were a stretch, but I couldn't really think of anything more suitable for Hecate and her children. For Ares's children, I created the power over weapons to show that some time has passed from before. As demigods age, more abilities develop for all of them. Plus, I've already gotten a few plans together involving the power of Ares.

    I'd be glad to know what you think of what I've done with chapter 6, and if it helps to create character in Alex, Heather, Jordan, etc. CharizardFan.

    Looking at Tuesday for the release of Chapter 7.
    Last edited by AlexMonroe; 8th November 2011 at 2:58 AM.

  8. #8
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    7
    A Winged Gardener Saves My Life

    It was past nightfall by the time Heather finally came to, and at that point it was too dark to go any further. We finally stopped at a small wooded area north of Washington DC, and Heather managed to transport a few things from camp to set up our sleeping quarters.

    If you’ve never met a child of Hermes, then you’re missing out. Because of Heather’s inherited ability over messages and mail, she was able to make objects fly themselves places at the speed of light. If you every go camping with her or her siblings, you don’t even have to pack.

    She brought all of the essentials, a tent, sleeping bags, clothes, water bottles, snacks and even golden drachmas from the camp store. She told me that mortals didn’t accept drachmas normally, but when you’re a child of the god of thieves . . .

    “We can leave the coins behind. That way, they get pure gold and we get the goods without a second glance.”

    Once it turned dark, we were only able to see thanks to Jordan’s pyrotechnical abilities. He could summon a ball of fire and hold it in his hands without ease. He could even pass the fireball to one of us, and along with a special prayer to his father, the flames wouldn’t hurt us. We managed to collect enough firewood for the night, and once we had set up a suitable pit, Jordan dropped the ball on the sticks and a roaring fire was born.

    Heather and Jordan told me about how the Apollo cabin would lead a singalong around the fireplace on Wednesdays. They also told me that the singalong used to be every night, until Dionysus had threatened to drive every last singer insane. Following that change, the campers had tried to change more things about the camp. In the end, cabin inspection, which had originally been five days a week, had been reduced to three.

    The campfire never showed any sign of weakening, but a while later, my body clock announced that it was past 10 o’clock, and Jordan put it out for the night. Beforehand, we had put together the tent, and I had to say, it was pretty awesome. Normally I’m not one for camping out in the wilderness, but the tent had been magically enlarged, so that at only three-by-five feet on the outside, it managed to hold three separate zippered sleeping bag rooms, a center room and a bath. I crawled into my little pocket of a room in the back and zipped up the entrance. I noticed that the tent magically blocked out sounds, because in a few minutes I fell asleep in silence.

    * * *

    Remember how I said Morpheus had to have some kind of soft spot for me? Well, I take that back. That night, I had a dream worse than any of my other dreams combined.

    It started with the son of Zeus, Kyle, running through a large city. It was dark, and none of the building lights were on, which I thought was weird. Kyle was panting, and running hard, his knife in hand. As I ran ahead of him, I noticed he was dripping with sweat, and his face had a look of mortal terror. He looked like he’d been fighting a pack of wild dogs. Then I remembered Cerberus, and realized he had been fighting a single wild dog, though it did have three heads.

    A loud, deep growl echoed across the buildings, and suddenly, a ghostly gray Rottweiler appeared at the end of the street.

    Cerberus was almost completely see-through, but his eyes were a pure blood red. His teeth were impossibly long and sharp, and the color of cheddar with ketchup splashed on. The three heads were connected directly to the body, and the two outer heads kept barking at other things in the area, probably other members of the quest.

    Suddenly, Cerberus started following Kyle. Kyle screamed and ran around a corner, and down that street I saw another half-blood take a left. Kyle started running, but Cerberus was way too fast. The hellhound lunged after Kyle, and in a few seconds he was only a few meters away.

    Kyle let loose a scream, and I turned away as Cerberus pounced. Then I woke up.

    * * *

    You know the saying, “That’s gonna hurt in the morning?” You don’t know the half of it. My burns had gotten feeling back, and lying down on the ground all night doesn’t help. I had to hold my breath to keep myself from screaming, and even then, I had to go outside.

    The cool September air was enormously comfortable on my injuries. For a few minutes I had to sit still to let my burns hurt less, then I went back inside to wake up the others. My body clock told me it was almost eight, but Heather and Jordan both seemed to think it was the middle of the night. It took a few minutes and some Ancient Greek cursing, but I finally managed to get them both out of bed. We quickly started another fire and treated ourselves to a family size bag of Doritos. After breakfast, Heather figured out exactly where we were.

    “Thirty-eight degrees, fifty-seven minutes north. Seventy-seven degrees, three minutes west.”

    I stared at her for a while, then said, “How do you know that?” but I thought I already knew. If she could find the general area of five far away demigods, she’d be able to know our coordinates.

    Sure enough, “Hermes knows where everything is. I’m one of his kids who has the same perfect understanding of coordinates.”

    Jordan, however, was less talkative. He reminded me of how he’d looked the first time I’d met him, all shaken up. I remembered how he had come to our aid and knocked out Evelyn and Xavier. We went off to find more firewood for our next campsite, so I had time to ask him something that’d been bothering me.

    “Jordan?” I said, and he looked up at me. “How long were you brothers with Xavier?”

    He looked down and sighed. “Three years.”

    It was weird to think about, because Jordan looked only twelve. He’d come to Camp Half-Blood before he was even nine?

    “Xavier’s been at camp for eight years, since he was fifteen. On his twenty-first birthday, he was supposed to go and live his life, but he refused. Ever since, he’s used me as a punching bag to assure his authority and right to stay.”

    “Neither of those things show authority or right to stay,” I said truthfully, and Jordan shrugged.

    “Yeah, but . . . there wasn’t anything to do about it. He’s my brother, whether I like it or not. It’s took bad you’re not a son of Hades, though.”

    For the first time, I felt a little bad about not belonging in Cabin Twenty. Jordan needed a friend.

    “Well, no one else knows I’m not a Hades camper besides you and Heather. Maybe I can . . . pretend to be one, for a while.

    Jordan smiled, and we went back to finding firewood.

    * * *

    Heather had been taking down the tent, packing up the food and completely hiding any sign that we were here when Jordan and I returned. She’d packed everything up except for a change of clothes for each of us, the water bottles and some granola bars. She was reading a new book now, called The Science of Magic and Vice Versa. It sounded torturously dull to me, but I knew Heather liked all kinds of science and things like that. We came up to her right as she turned around.

    “Put the firewood on this rock.” She stood up and pointed at the chunk of stone she’d been sitting on. Jordan and I put the sticks down, and Heather spoke a prayer under her breath. In a flash, the branches disappeared into thin air.

    “Cool,” I said, but then remembered what I had been waiting to say. We all changed far away from each other in the woods, but when we all got back together, I told them about my dream. By the time I was done, we had reached the outskirts of Washington DC.

    “That is not good, Alex. If Cerberus has already gotten Kyle . . .”

    I knew what she was about so say, and I was glad she didn’t.

    “I’m worried about him too.”

    It was a while before either of us spoke again.

    By midday, we had gotten as far as the Lincoln Memorial. We would’ve easily gotten farther if Heather hadn’t dragged Jordan and I to the Smithsonian Air and Space museum, where she took more than an hour to look at all of the travel equipment, airplanes, spaceships and all kinds of stuff. We bought Hot Dogs from a street vender and had lunch outside the memorial, in the shade of the Washington Monument. At one point, and owl flew from the giant marble obelisk and landed only a few feet from us. Jordan fed the bird some of his bun, and afterwards it started following us around, waiting for more food.

    After five minutes, the bird let out a horrible wailing noise, Rwa! Raw!

    “What is that?” I yelled, and the bird jumped into the air. It started circling above our heads like a vulture, still wailing.

    “Why is it doing that?” Heather shouted, and the bird stopped yelling.

    “Thank gods,” said Jordan, but the next second . . .

    “He’s got my spear!”

    The bird had somehow managed to dive down to my neck and grab my necklace in less than a second. It started flying ahead, higher and higher up, until it perched in one of the window sockets on top of the Washington Monument.

    “Oh come on!” I yelled, and started running towards the building.

    “Alex, wait up,” Jordan and Heather both yelled at the same time, but neither managed to catch up to me. I kept running, and before long I was at the monument. Only one problem: Heather and Jordan were nowhere in sight.

    “Heather! Jordan!” I yelled, but neither appeared. “Where are you?”

    Then an old security guard appeared and put his hand on my shoulder. When I saw his face, I thought it was the old man from Six Flags. But instead, he had chalk-white hair and he looked, no he felt stronger. He seemed to give a sense of power, like he was some kind of superhero in disguise.

    “Son, where are your parents?” He smiled.

    For a second I was about to say, They’re dead, but I held my tongue long enough to make a good story.

    “They’re already up at the top. I’m supposed to wait for my friends, Heather and Jordan, before we go up. They went to buy Hot Dogs for us.”

    The guard pulled a piece of wax paper from my pocket, and I gulped when I saw what it was. It was my Hot Dog wrapper from before, with grease and bread crumbs still on it.

    “A second helping, eh? Maybe we should go up and clarify your story, with your parents.”

    I gulped.

    “I . . . I can’t, I have to wait for my friends.”

    “Oh, well if that’s the problem . . .” He grinned and waved his hand through the air. Like when the Oracle had spoken, I saw a vision. However, this time I saw Heather and Jordan, chained together to a brick wall. They saw me, but they seemed to be gagged by some invisible force.

    “Let’s go meet them, shall we?” he said, and waved his hand through the image.

    * * *

    The security guard made sure that we had a full elevator, so there would be witnesses all around. He made some some of invisible gag out of air and jam it into my mouth. It was excruciatingly cold on my tongue, but I couldn’t scream. The man didn’t seem to realize I had no weapon, because he kept daring me to attack with his eyes. Finally we reached the top, and he dragged me from the lift.

    The top room of the monument was large, a square with the center filled with sandy white bricks around the elevator. The walls looked how they should from the outside, stretching out diagonally the lower they went. The windows, however, were completely vertical. It looked like it could hold a ton of people at once, but because the school year had started, only a dozen people roamed through the building. I even looked on the ledges outside of the windows for the owl with my necklace, but there weren’t any birds at all.

    “Come on,” said the old man, and steered me by my shoulder with surprising strength. He led me to a stone stairway with a steel mesh grate in the archway. It took me a minute to read because of my dyslexia, but I figured it said something like this:

    DO NOT ENTER
    AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY

    The weirdest part was below the large English text, though. Underneath the Spanish and French translations, there were Ancient Greek letters.

    The security guard pulled a keychain from his pocket and inserted a gold key into the lock. It clicked, and he pushed the door open.

    “Down you go,” he said, then gave me a shove. I tripped down the first step and fell onto the landing with bloody hands and knees. The man followed, locking the door behind him. He picked me up and dragged me down several flights of stairs until the stones started to grow darker and darker, even though the brightness of the lights never changed. It took a while, but finally we reached another door, but one made of pure gold.

    When the man opened the door, I found Heather and Jordan, still gagged and chained to the dark brick wall. Their eyes lit up like they did before, but they still couldn’t speak. Heather was shaking her head to say, Run!

    “Look who came to join the party!” the old man yelled, and it echoed loudly through the air. He laughed, and two other men on either side of the doorway, who I had just noticed, did too. The old man let go of me, and I ran over to Heather and Jordan.

    “Oh, did you miss your friends? Well don’t worry, you’ll never be parted again,” the security guard said, then snapped his fingers. Black chains like Heather and Jordan’s appeared on my hands and bound me to both of them and the wall.

    Then the old man started to change. His chalk white hair started to grow longer, and became less defined, like mist. It shimmered in the air and quickly stretched to the floor. His black security guard uniform became a substance like smoke, and rearranged into a Greek chiton, which looked like a toga only more proper. He grew a long cape from his shoulders and a small golden crown appeared on his misty hair. He looked to me like some kind of evil version of father time.

    “Now, I think it is time you spoke,” said the man, and instantly the cold air in my mouth dissipated.

    “Aether!” yelled out Heather, and I thought the person, who was apparently named Aether, would get angry. To my surprise, he smiled.

    “Yes, yes. I am Aether, god of the upper air.”

    “You mean like the atmosphere?” I said, but I knew it was the wrong thing to say. Aether gave me an evil look, and I was worried that he’d turn me into, I don’t know, some kind of ant.

    “The atmosphere? Your mortal scientific cover of the world?” He laughed, and his cronies did too. “I am the primordial god of the air the immortals breath. Not merely the air high in the sky, fool!”

    “What do you mean, ‘Primordial?’” I said, and got angry at myself for not holding my tongue again. Unfortunately, with my ADHD, I couldn’t be quiet if I wanted too.

    “Do you know nothing? How do you think this world began, son? Where did it come from?”

    I managed to keep myself from saying, The Big Bang, but I still replied.

    “I don’t know, I-”

    “You don’t know. Let me teach you a thing or two about the origin of your world.

    “Before your gods, before the titans, before even I, there was nothing. A world without a world, to say it poetically. From this void, the first immortal, Khaos, was born. Chaos then birthed four children of her own, Tartarus, Gaea, Erebus and Nyx.

    “Gaea created the earth, and birthed Ouranos, the sky. Together, they birthed the titans, who would go on to replace Ouranos as ruler of the world.

    “Tartarus created a bottomless pit deep below the earth, where the evil would suffer for all of eternity.

    “Finally, Erebus, father of darkness, and Nyx, mother of the night, birthed two other children. One was Hemera, goddess of the day. The other, I invite you to guess.”

    “You,” I shouted. I was getting annoyed by Aether’s long explanation of the earth’s origin.

    “Correct,” he said with a crooked grin. “I, Aether, was born. I was a servant to Ouranos, and held the immortal air of the gods within my sphere. It is us, the children of Khaos and the children of those children, who are the primordial beings.”

    “So you’d better watch who you argue with, hero,” said one of Aether’s henchmen, and he stepped forward. For the first time, I got a good look at him. He had a pale devil’s face, minus the horns, and a muscular body. He was also wearing a chiton, but his was dark scarlet. I looked at the other man and saw that he looked almost exactly the same. The only differences were his eyes, which were wiser and sharper than his brother’s, and his clothes. He wasn’t wearing a chiton like the two others, but instead he was sporting full-body Greek battle armor.

    “Now, girl. If you are so smart, guess who my minions are,” said Aether, still smiling wickedly.

    “The algea.”

    For a second, I thought that Heather had gone completely insane, talking about algae. But then, Aether nodded.

    “My children, or at least my faithful children. Akhos.” The man in red bowed. “Spirit of pain and distress, and Ania.” The armored servant bowed as well. “Spirit of grief and sorrow.”

    Aether lifted an old-fashioned locket clock out of his pocket. Before he could even look, I said, “It’s 2:18.”

    Heather and Jordan both stared at me, and I realized I’d never told them about my ability. I mouthed, Tell you later, and looked back at Aether.

    “Very well, then.” He put the clock back into his chiton. “I think it is time that I left. Many other demigods to capture, ones more important than you.” He winked at us, and I knew he was talking about the remaining quest members.

    Then he looked at his two sons and said, “Anything.” I didn’t know exactly what he meant, but it didn’t sound good. They both grinned like their father and Aether shut the gold door. When he did, the wall became pure brick, and Ania and Akhos advanced.

    “We’re gonna have some fun,” said Akhos.

    “After all, Lord Aether did say we could do anything.” They both laughed, and a smoky black flail appeared in Akhos’ hand, and a flail appeared in Ania’s.

    I looked at Heather and saw her terrified face looking back. Jordan was staring down at his feet, and for the first time, I realized how quiet he’d been during the entire conversation with Aether. His lips were moving, and looking back, I know he was praying to his father.

    That was when all Hades broke loose.

    An owl swooped down from darkness above and knocked the whip out of Ania’s hand. Akhos took a second to get out of his shock, and swung his flail. Fortunately, the owl had managed to get far out of reach. Ania dove for his whip, but the owl bit his eye and he curled up into the fetal position. Akhos jumped and threw his flail at the bird, but the owl dodged with ease. It flew around its attacker and spat something out of its mouth at my feet.

    “My spear!” I yelled, and reached down for it. Luckily, Jordan and Heather also bent down so the chain stretched far enough. Once the arrowhead transformed into my spear, I started to cut through my bindings.

    Meanwhile, Akhos was attempting to catch the owl, who had picked up both the flail and the whip in its beak, with his bare hands. Ania was starting to rise, but the golden blood from his eye was blinding him.

    Finally, I sawed through the chain. With my right hand free, I made a swift cut on the chain trapping me to the wall. Once I was free, I broke Jordan and Heather’s chains. They both drew their weapons, and we charged.

    I ran at Akhos, who was too shocked to move. I made a large gash across his face, and he doubled over like his brother. Jordan released a burst of fire from his pitchfork, and Ania was blown back against the wall, bleeding and unconscious. Heather was trying to find a way to escape, but hadn’t found anything yet.

    “You shall pay for this, Son of-”

    I really wish Jordan hadn’t chosen that moment to blast Akhos back like his brother. He had been about to say who my mother or father was. For a second I was angry, but then Heather screamed.

    Jordan and I both raised our weapons, but instead of an attacker, we found a terrified young man in a white feather jacket. His black hair was wild and unruly and his eyes were stormy gray. I couldn’t see much of his body because of the jacket, but I noticed he had large, wrinkly feet that were a disgusting egg-yolk color. His hands were shriveled and covered in hair.

    When he spoke, his voice was dry and rough, like his throat was made of stone.

    “Run, children! Run from this place, and never return! Do not go into the air, for he shall find you!”

    I know it was rude, but I replied by saying, “Were you the owl?”

    He stared at me, perplexed, but then nodded. “I was, child. I was transformed by the cruel Lady Demeter, after telling of how Persephone ate six seeds of a pomegranate.”

    “Oh yeah, I remember that story,” I said, and I was proud of myself. I’d been trying to learn lots of stuff about Greek Mythology, and I knew the story of Persephone.

    “Hades kidnapped Persephone and made her his queen. She ate six seeds from an Underworld fruit, I guess a pomegranate, and she had to stay with Hades six months each year, one month for each seed. Then Persephone’s mother, Demeter, got angry because you told people about the pomegranate. Then she turned you into a screech owl.”

    I said it so fast that I bit my tongue. Jordan and Heather looked at me confused, but the owl-man seemed to understand.

    “Yes, that was I, Askalaphos. However, the kind Lady Athena took pity on me, and gave me the power to become mortal if I so chose. Unfortunately, her gift only works in certain areas that are sacred to her.”

    “Washington DC is sacred to Athena?”

    “No, the Washington Monument. George Washington was a demigod child of Athena. This monument was built in his honor, and by extension, Athena’s honor.”

    “Okay,” I said, but I was still kind of confused. How could a goddess of wisdom turn an owl mortal? How could a goddess of agriculture turn a mortal into an owl?

    Askalaphos seemed to understand what I was thinking, because he explained. “Owls are symbols of Athena and Hades, and because I was in the Underworld at the time, she used that power to transform me.”

    “Look,” Heather said. “It’s important to know about Greek Mythology. It really is. But Aether could be back at any second, so we need to get moving. Askalaphos, are you coming with us?”

    Askalaphos seemed to have already made up his mind about this. “I’m afraid I am not. I must stay and keep watch over Aether. However.” He pulled a silver feather from his coat. “Should you ever need me, release this into the wind.” He handed me the feather, and I slipped it into my pocket.

    “Good luck, children.”

    With that, he brushed his hand against the wall and it began to glow, until the bricks were replaced with solid gold. He pulled back the door, gave a final nod, and turned into an owl. He opened his wings and flew through the doorway.

    “Let’s go,” I said, and we followed.

    * * *

  9. #9
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    8
    Lucian Takes a Ride With a Hellhound

    We finally came to a stop at a beach in southern Virginia. A large forest stretched out to the coast, and we found a good pocket in the trees to set up camp. The leaves made a thick canopy above, so we were completely hidden from view.

    Heather said a silent message to her father, and in a second, our tent, food and water, clothes and firewood all appeared out of thin air. She and I set up the tent while Jordan set up the campfire. The smoke was partially trapped under the tree leaves, but it slowly made its was through the cracks and into open air. Finally we all sat down around the campfire, cooking a bag of popcorn over the flames. My body clock told me it was only half-past eight, but I was already exhausted from earlier.

    “I think I’m gonna call it a night,” I said.

    “Okay, but you’ll miss the popcorn,” Heather said, then opened the bag she was holding over the fire.

    “Wait, Alex,” Jordan said, while I was reaching for a handful of popcorn. “You never explained about how you knew the time.”

    “Oh yeah,” I said, trying to talk with a full mouth of popcorn. I sat back down around the fire. “Well, for a while, I’ve just known what time it is. I just kind of have a body clock, literally. Like, right now, it’s eight thirty-six.”

    “Why didn’t you say anything about it before?” Heather said. Both her and Jordan were looking at me funny, almost in awe.

    “It just . . . I don’t know, seemed like a minor thing.”

    Jordan and Heather were both quiet for a moment, until Jordan said, “Kind of like how Heather knows the coordinates.”

    “Right!” I said, and realized it was exactly like that.

    “Well yeah,” Heather said. “But that’s normal for a child of Hermes. Knowing the time? Thats-”

    “Probably a normal thing for children of whoever my parent is.”

    “But, Alex,” Heather said, looking nervous again. “A child of a god of time?”

    I knew what she meant, but I didn’t like it. I still didn’t even want to think about Kronos being my father. It was just impossible.

    “Kronos is not my father,” I said, then quickly slipped into the tent before Jordan or Heather could respond.
    * * *
    I realized that because my mind had been so full of thoughts about my godly parent, I hadn’t been worried about dreams.

    What I saw was . . . for lack of a better term, weird. It was almost pitch-black darkness, but I saw two large plazas, connected by a long, narrow road. In the middle of the road, a dark shadow was running, and holding some sort of flashlight. The light coming from the figure’s hand shone down the road, illuminating a dark statue and a tall castle. The statue was too shadowy to make out, but the castle behind it showed exactly where I was.

    It was Cinderella’s castle, and I was at Disney World.

    However, the running figure didn’t seem to care that they were at the most magical place on earth. They were panting hard, and a shiny trail of dotted blood was following them. There was a faint roaring sound, and I remembered the last dream I’d had.

    I realized that I was standing on the Magic Kingdom railroad station at the entrance to the park, and ran down the stairs nearby. I followed the figure, but it was running too fast for me. It finally reached the statue, then turned right towards Tomorrowland.

    Now, I’d been to Disney World a lot, so I knew a few shortcuts around the park. I ran on the outside of the plaza, and by the time I reached the entrance to Tomorrowland, I’d caught up to the figure.

    It was Lucian. His thick black hair was dripping in sweat and almost covered his eyes. He had a wild look on his face, and I noticed a small, but deep cut across his chin. His shirt was badly torn and his chest was covered in scratches and bruises. The left leg of his jeans had been completely ripped off up to his knee, and the rest was in terrible shape. He only had one shoe on, and his bare left foot was a sight for sore eyes. It was incredible that he was even alive in this state.

    He took off down the central road of Tomorrowland, then turned towards the entrance of Space Mountain, a gigantic white dome covered in long grooves. I wasn’t sure if he had some sort of plan, or if he was just trying to find a place to hide. A roar echoed from the castle, and an enormous shadow leapt across the park, smashing into the Astro Orbiter, a large brown tower ride with planets all around.

    Lucian dashed passed the entry gate for Space Mountain and up the slope on the left. He made it to a level platform and ran towards the gate into the actual mountain.

    Then Cerberus jumped onto the platform. For a second, I though the structure might collapse, but it just dented under the hellhound’s weight. The three-headed best roared loudly, and Lucian ducked into the ride.

    I followed him as he ran through the meandering passage towards the center of the building. Finally he ran into an enormous room, with balconies running all around the edge towards the floor, where the ride started. In the center of the room, a futuristic rocket ship hung from the ceiling. I was pretty sure Lucian would be safe enough from Cerberus here, but a loud Graor! sound told me otherwise.

    Lucian jumped over the side of the balcony near the bottom, and ran across one of the ride vehicles. He leapt behind a pillar at the back of the room, panting hard. I noticed for the first time that his “flashlight” was really his wand: the beam of light was shooting from the tip.

    An ear-shattering crash sounded, and Cerberus ran into the room. It only took a second for the balcony to give way under his weight, and the hellhound jumped into the air, landing on the rocket ship above. I heard a Snap snap, and two of the rocket’s suspension cords ripped apart. Cerberus slid down the side of the rocket, but dug his claws into it right before he plummeted to the ground.

    Two last snapping sounds echoed through the room, and Cerberus fell to the ground, trapped underneath the rocket on one of the ride cars. He howled and roared, but the weight of the object held him down. His claws were stuck in the spaceship, and Lucian ran from his hiding spot.

    He went straight to the control podium, and lifted his wand. With a wave of his hand, the entire room lit up and the vehicles started moving. Cerberus was three cars from the front, but he was still trapped.

    Then Lucian ran from behind the podium and towards the exit. Unfortunately, that was the exact moment that Cerberus’ claws came free of the spaceship. He pushed the fallen rocket off of himself with all of his strength, and it hit the back wall, blocking off the exit and almost crushing Lucian at the same time. Cerberus’ car disappeared down the ride’s track, and Lucian caught his breath.

    After a few seconds, Lucian started towards the ride cars. He stepped into one, and was about to hop out of the vehicle when Cerberus pounced from the ride opening. Lucian barely had time to duck into the car before the giant Rottweiler landed behind him. He raised his wand and blasted Cerberus back, but only by a few cars. Lucian moved towards the docking platform, but Cerberus lunged again, and landed above Lucian on the ride vehicle. Lucian whipped his wand at the hellhound, and with a blinding red flash, the beast flew up into the air as the car pulled ahead. Cerberus landed with an almighty Boom! in the car behind.

    Lucian fired another explosion at Cerberus, knocking him several cars back, but then Lucian’s vehicle skidded forwards, and onto the ride. I barely managed to hop into the car as it disappeared beyond the gate. Cerberus roared behind him as he went through a brightly lit tunnel, neon blue flashes all around the circular walls. After a few seconds, the ride turned and sloped upwards. The new room was lit red, and was full of decorative astronaut stations. There were two tracks going up at the same time, and on the sides, two tracks came shooting down.

    For a second, my mind was so full of memories from coming here, that I forgot about Cerberus. A deep, angry growl sounded from the docking platform, and Lucian looked back.

    Cerberus was jumping between the cars, working his way up towards Lucian and I. His fiery red eyes were wide, so that he could see everything in the low light. He bent his knees down, and right before he lunged, the car sloped over the top of a hill.

    The room was just as I remembered it, a pure black sky with shining stars on the ceiling. Cerberus flew over Lucian and fell below our track, with turned sharply. We started to speed up, and Cerberus disappeared from view.

    We turned right, left, dipped, up, left, dipped, right, left, and so on. Lucian kept looking over his shoulder for Cerberus, and seemed to be looking right at me. I realized that he couldn’t see me, though that should’ve been obvious to someone without ADHD. Someone who would think about something like that.

    Without warning, the stars disappeared ahead of us where Cerberus had jumped. Luckily we dipped just in time, and Cerberus fell face-first against the car behind. He fell down, though I didn’t know how far, and we shot through the side track from the red room.

    When our vehicle came out of the room, Cerberus finally managed to climb on our car. Lucian whipped his wand at the hellhound, but the beast swatted it away. I raised my spear, and though I knew it wouldn’t do anything, I threw it. Coincidentally, at that moment we went underneath a low track, and Cerberus went tumbling behind us.

    After a few moments, we finally turned into the exit. Unfortunately, though I supposed I should’ve seen it coming, Cerberus was waiting for us.

    Lucian’s maneuver was absolutely brilliant, though I doubted he had planned it to work the way it did. He hopped off of the ride and crouched down on the ground. Cerberus reared his three heads to strike, and Lucian ran between his legs. For a moment the hellhound didn’t noticed, and by that point, Lucian had slipped through the exit.

    Lucian ran for about ten minutes straight, first back out to Tomorrowland, to the center plaza, down Main Street U.S.A. and out of the Magic Kingdom. Cerberus’ growls disappeared after a while, until Lucian finally came to a rest at the monorail station outside the park. I thought Cerberus had finally lost track of Lucian, but his expression was still pure fear. I heard a scream, and Casey and Sierra, the two girls who had gone on the quest, came out running. They hid behind the monorail station and found Lucian.

    “Where’s Mitchell?” he said, but the girls were both still trying to catch their breath.

    “Huh . . . he’s . . . huh . . . coming,” said Casey.

    Sure enough, a few seconds later, the blond Apollo camper came out of the gates, holding a bronze bow and several arrows.

    “Team, assemble!” he yelled, but his voice quivered in fear. I didn’t think Lucian would be able to fight without his wand, but he ran to Mitchell’s side. Casey and Sierra did as well, both drawing their weapons, a staff and a battle axe. Then, to my amazement, Lucian pulled his wand from his pocket.

    For a moment, nothing happened, but then Mitchell fired an arrow. The shot stuck into an invisible creature’s hide, and I realized that Mitchell had fired only to find the beast. It was brilliant.

    “Attack!” he yelled, and all of the quest members followed as Mitchell led them towards the beast. He fired more arrows, most of which landed in the beast’s fur. Lucian and Casey both fired spells at Cerberus with their weapons, and Sierra ran right at the beast, striking him in the nose with her axe.

    Cerberus released a powerful roar and shot into the air. As he fell, the earth shook under the hellhound’s weight, causing all of the campers to fall over. Mitchell started to rise, but Cerberus saw and swatted him away with his paw. He smashed into the wall of the fire station and went unconscious. Then Lucian and Sierra both stood. Cerberus roared and jumped towards them both, but Sierra threw her axe across the entrance plaza and stuck the monster in the eye.

    Cerberus fell to the ground, not dead, but badly weakened. His face was bleeding with thick, black sludge, and his right eye was closed tight. It whimpered, and then Lucian stepped forward.

    “To Tartarus!” he yelled, and with a wave of his wand and a burst of shadow, Cerberus disappeared.

    Then my dream changed.

    I was back in the misty chamber of Artemis and Apollo, and both of their expressions were grim.

    “Our beast, as we have already shown you, has killed one of the quest members,” said Artemis gloomily.

    “They refused to back down. Now the beast is dead,” Apollo added.

    I didn’t say anything, but Artemis must have read my thoughts.

    “Yes, we have contacted you again for a reason. Now that their most powerful adversary has been defeated, nothing will keep them from accomplishing their goal. Which is why . . . you must stop them.”

    “How?” I said finally. “How am I supposed to stop them if Cerberus couldn’t?”

    “Not with power or strength,” said Apollo. “But Lucian is your friend. If you speak to the part of him that values your friendship, he will listen. Only your bond can save all of their lives.”

    “Go now, boy, and save them. Remember what you have been warned. We have sent you help, but be patient. Others will send you help, and some may have good intentions, but do not trust their gifts.”

    “Who else will send gifts?” I said, and then, “what warning?”

    “You already know,” said Apollo. “Remember what the prophecy said, it will guide you. You are a key part of this quest. Without you, they shall fail.”

    I still had so many questions about what they had said, but the mist started to enclose me as it had before. I woke up, and my body told me that it was a little past three in the morning. Today was only my fourth day of even knowing about demigods, and I already had the fate of six people resting my hands.
    Last edited by AlexMonroe; 15th November 2011 at 1:37 PM.

  10. #10
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    9
    I Offend an Immortal Being Twice

    I told Heather and Jordan about my dream first thing in the morning. We sat outside the tent around a big rock, like a table. The sound of the ocean crashing on the beach echoed through the woods, and the air was humid from the trees. I was sweating by the time I had finished recounting what I’d seen at Disney World.

    “But what would even happen to Cerberus?” Heather said when I was done. “He belongs in the Underworld, so is he technically a ‘monster?’ Would he go into Tartarus?”

    “Are you actually asking me?” I said, but then realized, with a duh, that she was asking Jordan.

    “I don’t know. I can sense his presence in the Underworld, but . . .” Jordan said, thinking hard. “I don’t know if he’s in Tartarus or not.”

    “Guys,” I said, trying to steer the conversation back towards the later part of my dream, about Apollo and Artemis. “There was more to the dream.”

    They were quiet for a while after I told them what the gods had said. Heather opened her mouth to speak several times, but she seemed to have difficulty finding the right words.

    “What do you think Artemis meant about the gifts? Who’s sending you gifts anyway?” Jordan said.

    “I don’t know. I just know that they said to only accept their help, and to think about the prophecy.”

    “Well, that we can do,” said Heather, and brushed her hair away from her face. It was incredible how she had spent three days in the wilderness, yet still looked more beautiful than any of Aphrodite’s children. A flower was tucked into her hair, and I didn’t know if she’d put it there or if it had just gotten tangled. Either way, it looked amazing.

    “Hello? Alex?” Heather said, and I realized I was staring. I said something like, “Muh huh?” and she rolled her eyes.

    “Anyway, let’s go over the prophecy. What was the first line again?”

    “The Sun and the Moon rest in the sky,” Jordan said. He sounded creepy when he said it, like, more creepy than normal.

    “Okay, ‘the Sun and the Moon’ is probably symbolism for Apollo and Artemis, but what does it mean ‘the sky?’”

    “Well, think,” I said, trying to do so. “What places in the sky are important?”

    “I can think of one,” Jordan said, observing a burning blade of grass in his hand. “The Washington Monument. Aether was there.”

    “That would work,” I said, but there was a flaw. “Except, I think we would’ve . . . I don’t know, felt the presence of a god. Especially if there were two.”

    “Okay, where else?” Heather said, then, “I’ve got a few ideas, but-”

    “What are they?” I said, a little too quickly. “Any ideas are better than none.”

    “Well, I mean, of course there’s Olympus. Since it’s on a skyscraper, it’s possible that Apollo and Artemis are above another important building. There’s the Willis Tower, or the Chrysler Building. Then there’s all kinds of important mountains, like the Colorado Rockies, Mt. McKinley, Mount St. Helens . . .”

    She kept talking about tall structures and mountains, and soon I lost track of everything she was listing. I would nod and say things like “Yeah,” or “Mmhm,” but my heart wasn’t in it. I started staring at her again, I couldn’t help it even if I wanted to. When I finally noticed her mouth shut for a while, I was brought back to reality.

    “Well, we need to narrow it down, but it’s a start,” Jordan said, and I was pretty sure he hadn’t really been paying attention either.

    “How are we supposed to narrow it down? We’ll probably just have to go to every major high point in the US . . .”

    Suddenly, her eyes popped open wide.

    “Oh my gods! That’s what they’re doing!”

    I looked at Jordan, and he seemed to be just as confused as I was.

    “What? That’s what who’s doing?” I said.

    “The other quest members! That’s way they’re doing, that’s their plan!” she said, which didn’t really clear much up. She stood up, and started pacing. “I’ve been trying to figure out where they’ve been going since we left. They’ve been going south, but they’re just traveling all across America. They don’t have a plan!”

    She said this like she would say, “We just one a million dollars!”

    “Why are you happy about that?” Jordan said, confused.

    “Because, that means that we can get to them. They aren’t headed somewhere, they’re just moving around. We can find them when they come up from Florida, and then we’ll all be one group!”

    “One group with no plans,” I said to myself.

    However, Heather immediately started packing. She grabbed new clothes, water bottles, a first aid kit and some sandwiches, then collapse the tent. She put the tent and all of our other belongings on the rock, said a silent prayer, then they disappeared like before.

    “How exactly does that work?” I said, but I doubted Heather would answer in her excitement.

    To my surprise, she did respond. “Well, you can make a collection of items disappear, go into a kind of limbo state. One the stuff is there, only the person who stored it can get it back. They can then make the storage items reappear later. It’s incredibly useful.”

    I wanted to say that children of Hermes were pretty much the most resourceful people to have on a quest, but then she tossed me a new Camp Half-Blood T-shirt and some jeans.

    “Go get dressed, and pick up some firewood on the way.” Then she went off to change herself.

    I found a pretty secluded area in the trees, and started to take off my shirt when I heard giggling. I looked around, but no one was there. After a moment, I turned my head back and found my face an inch away from the face of a brunette girl, roughly my age, with eyes the color of chlorophyll. A wood nymph.

    I pulled my shirt down quickly, and she giggled again. She reminded me of a girl from my school; cute, but kind of creepy.

    “Hi!” she said, a little too excited. “I’m Laurel!”

    She stuck out her hand enthusiastically, and smiled too hard. This dryad was weird.

    I reached for her hand hesitantly, and said, “Hi, Laurel. I’m-”

    “Alex, I know,” she said with another giggle. “I’m from Camp Half-Blood too! I saw you beat up that Hades boy. You were feisty!”

    She jumped backwards and did a cartwheel. She started skipping through the trees, but then came back to me, as if waiting for what I was about to say.

    “I thought wood nymphs could only be, like, fifty yards from their trees.”

    “Yeah, but it’s actually fifty-one yards, eight and one quarter inches for me!” She did another cartwheel.

    “Then how can you also be from Camp Half-Blood?”

    “Oh, that’s easy!” she said, coming to a halt. “I moved my tree.”

    I grabbed her arm before she did a backflip. “How? And why do you keep moving around?”

    “Oh, that’s another easy one. I like to move! I like to dance, and sing!” She sung the last word, and birds started chirping and spinning above our heads. Laurel was strange, but she had a good voice. “And as for how I moved my tree, I’m one of us rare dryads who can use chlorokinesis.”

    “Chlorokinesis?”

    Laurel looked like she was starting to get bored, but then she giggled again. “You know, Chlorokinesis! It’s like Botanokinesis, Phytokinesis, they’re all the same thing!”

    “But what are those things?” I was really starting to get annoyed with this girl, she just wouldn’t give me any straight answers.

    “Don’t you know anything?” she said with a smirk, and spun around, her glistening brown hair snaking over her shoulders. “It’s the power to control plants with your mind, of course! I move my tree through the ground whenever I need to get places.”

    “Oh!” I said, and I remembered Dionysus using Chlorokinesis when Jordan, Heather and I had fled from Camp Half-Blood. “So where is your tree?”

    “It’s right there!” she said happily, and pointed towards a row of trees, each of which looked pretty different.”

    “Which?”

    “The Mountain Laurel, of course.”

    “Oh, okay,” I said, but that didn’t help. I didn’t know anything about trees, let alone their names. When I met Laurel’s eyes again, after she had finished dancing, she seemed to understand.

    “The big one, in the middle.”

    I turned to look at the tree, and I saw Laurel’s face sticking out of the trunk. “See it now?”

    I was about to say, “Yeah,” when Laurel’s eyes went wide.

    “Pony!” she yelled, and I turned to look. While I was facing away, she said, “Bye Alex!” and disappeared into the tree.

    “That was really weird,” I said, then changed. I noticed that the feather Askalaphos magically returned to my pocket, despite the fact that I’d changed clothes. I still didn’t see anything that looked remotely like a pony, but I went running when I heard Heather yell from where the tent was.

    “Alex, come here!”

    I grabbed my necklace and pressed on the Alpha. I felt the normal feeling of power radiate from my staff, and jumped into the clearing, prepared to see some kind of dragon, giant or the gods know what.

    I found Heather and Jordan, both calm and healthy, stroking a pure white winged stallion.

    Now I’d seen a lot of pegasi flying around and at the stables back at Camp Half-Blood, but this one was different. It looked so pure and graceful that I would’ve believed it’d been fashioned from a cloud. It also seemed to radiate power, something I’d learned to connect with immortal gods and beings.

    Hello, hero, a voice said in my mind.

    “No,” I said, and Heather looked over at me.

    “Alex, look! It’s Pegasus!”

    “What’s a pegasus doing here?” I said, and the stallion whinnied. It reared up on its back legs and flapped its wings. Heather gave me a look that I could tell meant Watch
    it!

    Why, hero, I am no mere pegasus. I am Pegasus, the voice spoke again, and I realized that the stallion had spoken to me telepathically. I wondered if Heather and Lucian had heard what the pegasus had said as well.

    “Well, I’m confused.”

    Jordan turned his head towards me as well and said, “He’s not a pegasus, Alex. He is Pegasus, the original winged horse.”

    “Oh,” I said, and I felt my face go red. “I didn’t mean to . . . offend you, or anything,” I said to Pegasus.

    I can tell you did not, hero, but do be careful in the future. I am an Olympian creature, and you do not want to be on any Olympian’s bad side.

    “Of course not, your, er, your majesty.”

    Then the horse whinnied again, almost like he was laughing.

    That is a little too much, hero. Just call me Pegasus.

    “Okay, Pegasus.”

    Now, Pegasus said, turning towards Heather and Lucian as well. On to further business. Lord Poseidon has sent me to aid you upon your quest. He has also given you the gift of Equestritelepathy, though only temporarily.

    “Wait,” I said, confused. “What’s Equitre . . . Equastele . . . what?”

    Equestritelepathy? I nodded. It is the ability to speak telepathically to horses, pegasi, and other equestrian creatures.

    “Okay,” I said. “Go on.”

    As I said, Lord Poseidon has sent me to you as a gift . . .

    A gift. Apollo and Artemis had literally just told me not to accept gifts, and here was one. It was like they’d known it was coming. They’d also said to listen to my warning, but what warning?

    . . . so where shall we fly?

    I looked at Heather and Jordan, but neither of them looked like they cared it was a gift.

    “Can you fly us to Tampa Bay?” said Heather, and I tried to catch her attention. She did turn to face me, but not long enough for me to mouth Tampa Bay? before Pegasus spoke again.

    Of course. When shall we depart?

    “We can’t,” I said, before I could stop myself. “We can’t fly with you. We can’t accept this gift.”

    Both Jordan and Heather were staring at me, and Pegasus looked offended again.

    Why, hero? Why can I not assist you?

    The answer rolled off of my tongue right as I figured it out. “We were warned not to accept any gifts from anyone. We were also warned to stay out of the sky.”

    At that last part, Heather and Jordan both opened their eyes wide, revealing that they remembered that now too.

    “Okay, Alex, Apollo and Artemis told us not to accept gifts, but this is a blessing from Poseidon. He doesn’t exactly go around handing out winged horses, you know,” Heather said, and I swear that Pegasus nodded as well.

    “Come on, man,” Jordan agreed, and turned towards Pegasus. “We’re ready to go whenever you are.”

    “No, Jordan, Heather!” I said. “We can’t accept the help. We were warned about the gifts, and the sky! It’s too dangerous!”

    Heather bit her lip in indecision, but Jordan rolled his eyes. Then Pegasus spoke.

    If you do not want my help, hero, than I shall go.

    “No!” Heather yelled, then she walked over to me and grabbed my arm. I really hate it when she does that; she knows I can’t refuse.

    “Come on, Alex. I’m a child of a sky god! We’ll be safe, just . . .” She tightened her grip. “Just trust me, okay?”

    I tried my hardest to stick to what Apollo, Artemis, and Askalaphos had said, but I couldn’t. Heather was still grabbing my arm, and it was spreading a tingling sensation all over my body.

    “All right.”

    Excellent, Pegasus said, and crouched down. Climb aboard.

    Jordan climbed on first, wrapping his arms around Pegasus’ neck. Then Heather motioned me forward, and showed me how to sit on the winged horse. After a few minutes of failed attempts, I grabbed onto Jordan’s shoulders and sat down. Finally Heather stepped on, and wrapped her arms around my waist. Instantly I forgot all about what Apollo and Artemis had said.

    Brace yourselves, Pegasus said, then rose. He started galloping forwards, gaining speed, and I tightened my grip. After a few bumpy seconds of running, Pegasus leapt over the coastline of the beach and shot into the sky.

    * * *

  11. #11
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    Oct 2011
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    10
    We Get on TV

    We made it exactly one hour, twelve minutes and thirty-two seconds before plummeting to our deaths in the ocean below. Judging on how serious Apollo and Artemis’ warning had been, I’d say we did pretty good.

    It was eleven o’clock, on the dot, when we took to the air on Pegasus. After a few minutes, we finally started to level out and flew southwest. Heather said that at the speed Pegasus was flying, we’d make it to Tampa Bay in a little over two hours. She’d also said that we might need to stay a little north of the area, because she wasn’t sure if the quest members would have only reached Tampa by that point. Pegasus agreed, and after a few minutes, Jordan fell asleep, leaving Heather and I free to talk.

    “So, we never really finished going through the prophecy,” I said, and I was surprised how well I could talk with the wind rushing by.

    “Okay, we finished the second line. What was the third?”

    I had to think for a second, but eventually I said, “Above the world, two of five shall die.”

    “Oh,” Heather said, and looked down nervously. “Let’s come back to that one.”

    “Okay. Then it was ‘The deities shall return.’”

    “Well, that’s more upbeat. At least Apollo and Artemis will return.”

    “But what about ‘But their replacements shall fade?’ What does that mean? Who replaced them?”

    “I don’t know,” Heather said, thinking hard. “Maybe Helios and Selene, they used to be the sun and moon gods themselves.”

    “Maybe. It’s a start,” I said, but it didn’t seem too good. Whoever the replacements were, they didn’t have such great luck with this prophecy. “The fifth line was ‘The leader must stay.’”

    “Mitchell?”

    “I don’t know, I guess. But who’s the betrayed?”

    “Huh?”

    “The betrayed. From the last line, it goes with the fifth. ‘. . . As debt to the betrayed.’ Who’s the betrayed?”

    Heather shrugged, and looked down again. The wind whipped away her hair and I saw she was mouthing something to herself. “I guess we’ll just have to find out.”

    “But then,” I said, kind of annoyed. “What did they mean ‘Remember what the prophecy said?’ What use is that?”

    She shrugged again, and our conversation about the prophecy ended.

    “So,” I said, changing the subject. “How long have you and Lucian known I was a half-blood?”

    “Oh gods,” Heather said, thinking. “Pretty much since the first day we met you, in fourth grade. You’d always had a . . . strong aura.”

    “Oh,” I said, not really knowing what that meant. “Right.”

    Heather stared at me, I mean really stared, like she was reading my mind the way Lucian always used to.

    “Alex, your aura is your half-blood power. It’s what attracts monsters, but in your case . . . I don’t know. I can tell you’re powerful, but I also . . . I can’t explain it. You’re different than most half-bloods. You don’t attract monsters as much.”

    “Okay,” I said, but I still didn’t really get it. “Well then, why didn’t you bring me to Camp Half-Blood?”

    “Because, it’s normally risky to tell a half-blood about half-bloods until they’re old enough to comprehend it.” Heather started looking over the sea. “That’s why the gods are supposed to claim their kids on their thirteenth birthday.”

    “But why didn’t my parent claim me?”

    “Alex, you’ve already refused to believe any ideas we have. Judging by all of the signs-”

    “It’s not Kronos!” I yelled, sensing where she was going. Then I noticed her hurt look, and my heart sank. “Sorry, I just meant . . . I can’t even think about it. It just can’t be true.”

    She nodded reluctantly, and said, “Maybe it isn’t. It’s likely that it isn’t, but we don’t have any other ideas. You have some kind of connection to time.”

    Heather saw my expression and changed the subject. “At the start of the school year, we knew you’d be claimed soon, so we contacted camp. We tried to get an extraction party to come, but they were busy with another camper who’d disappeared.”

    “Another camper?” I said. “You never told me about any camper who’d disappeared.”

    “It’s not important,” she said, but her face showed that she was hiding something. “Anyway, we couldn’t get an extraction party, so we needed to find another way to protect you until you were claimed. Then we could bring you to camp.”

    “That’s why Lucian’s mom came to teach science?” I guessed. “Just to watch over me?”

    “She was trying to . . . make up for something she’d done before. About thirteen years ago.”

    “What?” I said, then realized thirteen years meant right when I was born. Could there be a connection?

    “She kind of . . . fought with the titans in a war. Ever since, she’s been trying to make it up to the gods somehow.”

    “Oh,” I said, and realized this was a pretty intense subject, and tried to steer the conversation away. “So you had her come to protect me. Why did the Acephali attack, then?”

    “We don’t know that,” Heather said honestly. “But it’s no coincidence. You get attacked a day after your thirteenth birthday? It’s strange.”

    “Okay,” I said, then remembered one last thing. “So, what about all my memories of weird stuff happening? What about the cliff? The funeral? The kickball?”

    I’d told Heather and Lucian about everything weird that’d happened to me, so Heather understood.

    “It’s a clue to who you really are. The funeral, I don’t know. Maybe your step-mom was a half-blood as well. They might’ve been friendly creatures, like satyrs or centaurs.”

    “Okay,” I said. “But what about me floating over a cliff?”

    “That has something to do with the sky, but you can’t be a child of Zeus. His aura is so defined, I’d know if it was him. The sky thing also matches with the kickball, you made the air condense, which the ball bounced off of. It’s almost like . . .”

    “What?” I said, but Heather had lowered her head, thinking hard. “What is it like?”

    “It’s like . . . it might match the time thing. You may have frozen the air particles in time both times, making them form a solid. You could sit on it, and a ball would bounce off of it. It goes with you body clock thing.”

    We were back to the Kronos idea, and my face seemed to show it, because Heather became quiet. We didn’t talk again for a while.

    After about forty-five minutes, we flew away from the coast and out into the open sea. The salty air hurt my lungs, and for the first time since we’d taken off, I thought about how this had been a gift from Poseidon. I shifted a little thinking about how Apollo and Artemis had warned me not to accept any gifts, and that I should avoid the air.

    I had almost fallen asleep because of Pegasus’ gently rocking in the air when Jordan cried out, “What is that?”

    I looked up and saw what he was referring to. There was a thick, gray mist stretching across the sky from our right. It looked like an enormous raincloud, except for the fact that it was expanding rapidly, and it was swaying in the wind like smoke.

    “Fly down!” I yelled. I didn’t know what was going on, but I sensed something: The energy of a god.

    Pegasus reared its head and went into a nosedive. I felt myself slide forwards, squishing Jordan, and Heather tightened her grip so hard I couldn’t breath. After a few seconds, I could see land on our right. Pegasus wasn’t just trying to get low, he was trying to fly us to safety.

    Duck! he roared in my mind and I slid my head down as low as I could, and so did Heather and Jordan. For a second, nothing happened. But then . . .

    The clouds spread over our heads and exploded. We were covered in the dark mist, and I doubted Pegasus could see. The air became completely freezing, and I started to choke when I inhaled.

    “It’s him!” Heather yelled, her voice vibrating.

    “Who?” I yelled, but my voice was lost in the wind as the clouds burst again. The entire sky seemed to be wrapping around us, forming a dark cocoon. I felt as if my body really had frozen, and my vision completely faded. I drew my spear, though I doubted it would help at all

    I heard Heather crying, both tears and “It’s him!” Jordan was screaming so loudly that my ears went numb. I was too scared to move at all though. I just wanted everything to stop.

    And then it did. The roar of the wind stopped, I felt the pressure fade from my body, and my vision was restored. It only lasted for a second though, and then everything went black.

    * * *

    The last thing I needed was to face Apollo and Artemis after not listening to their warning. Oh well, at least it was short.

    I found myself back in the misty chamber, only now it looked more like the mist Pegasus had flown us through. Everything was darker, and the two gods in front of me seemed less bright as well. They were weakening.

    “You took to the skies on a gift from Poseidon,” Artemis said, and I figured that pretty much said everything I was hoping wouldn’t come up.

    “Our warning did not apply to your friends,” Apollo said. “We foresaw danger for you. It would have been safer to send them on their way. You would have been alone, but safe.”

    I was feeling too guilty to speak. Finally, I said, “What do you mean you foresaw danger for me?”

    Unfortunately, that was when the dream ended. Everything became black again, so my eyes stung from the brightness of the white landscape when it appeared.

    I was back on the peak of the mountain, and the enormous Greek temple stood before me. I stared at the zodiac figures, and then into the white marble temple itself. The interior was still pitched into darkness, almost as though the door was a portal into Tartarus.

    Then I heard the man’s voice again, the ancient solid sound that reminded me of stone. “Do you see now, hero? I warned you to keep your friends close. One of your fellow half-bloods has already been killed. The leader of the quest must stay behind for all eternity, and two more shall die. Do you believe your friend will be the one to live?”

    There was harsh, echoing laughter that sent a chill down my back.

    “However, I enjoy watching you run around, trying to act heroic for the sake of your friends. Therefore, I shall give you one last hint about your quest. You have seen my decorations, they are fitting to my title. Guess who I am, and I shall not deny it, should you be correct.”

    I was about to open my mouth to speak, but the dream started to go blurry. I made one last glance over the mountaintop, looking for any sign of a location. Finally I noticed the zodiac signs, symbols of different time periods, and realized the man’s clue.

    “Kronos,” I said, absolutely sure of it. “Lord of Time.”

    Right before the dream faded completely, laughter rang in my ears, and the man, Kronos, yelled.

    “Yes.”

    * * *
    “RISE AND SHINE, DEMIGODS!”

    The voice seemed to be shooting through the walls of the small prison cell, which was strange because they appeared to be made of solid black stone. It was a perfect square with one barred window, which streamed bright light despite my mind telling me it was ten past six. There was a small bathroom cubicle, though it was really just a wooden rectangle with a toilet and sink. Heather and Jordan were on either side of me, and all three of us were laying on the rock in the middle of the room. They both had a terrified, confused and shocked expression, and I assumed my face looked the same.

    “You’re on in ten minutes, so GET DRESSED!” the voice boomed.

    Heather and Jordan both looked as bewildered as I was. I was about to say something super macho like, “Let’s find that voice and crush him!” but it came out as “Le he he!”

    Then, as if the wall was fashioned from Jell-O, full Greek armor slowly slid into the room. There were three of everything, helmets, breastplates, shin guards and combat boots, and all of it looked like used Celestial Bronze. Emphasis on used.

    For a few moments, we stayed in awe of what had just happened. But once my body told me that almost half of our ten minutes had already passed, we hurriedly pulled on the armor. Heather drew her discus, and Jordan summoned his pitchfork, and my heart sank. I had lost my spear when the smoke had enshrouded us, leaving me weaponless.

    However, Heather gave me a look like, Come on!

    “I lost my spear,” I said, and Heather smiled. “What?”

    “Come on, Alex. Remember what I told you when you got the spear?” Heather said, and I tried to think back to that moment.

    “You said it was Hecatian Silver.”

    Heather rolled her eyes. “After that, Alex. I said that no matter where you leave it, and no matter who takes it-”

    “It’ll always come back as a necklace,” I finished, remembering. Then I felt for my neck, and found the arrowhead there, sharp and smooth. I pulled it over my neck and pressed my thumb against the Alpha, and my spear elongated from the base.

    “Good job,” Heather said sarcastically.

    Then I remembered my dream about Kronos. With reluctance, I started to tell them.

    “Guys,” I said seriously, and they both looked at me. “I had a dream-”

    Unfortunately, that was all I managed to say before the floor disappeared beneath us.

    * * *
    The thing that most caught me off guard was the camera equipment. Other than that, it was a full Greek battle arena, much like the one at camp. There were seats all around the central green, and a full crowd cheering on as an unknown demigod faced off against a silvery dragon. The equipment floated around the arena, cameras whirling to get the best shot, lights flashing to perfectly illuminate the scene. There were even a few other demigods floating around as well.

    We landed, sort of, in the air above the stadium. It wasn’t painful, it was like the wind had made a soft cushion for us to fall on. The other demigods, all in Greek armor as well, regarded us with mild surprise. One shook his head in a warning, as if he thought we were here voluntarily, and could leave if we wanted.

    There was an announcer somewhere in the arena, shouting out what was happening in the field, and most of what he said made me want to vomit.

    The demigod seemed to be fighting for his life, which wasn’t surprising seeing as how the dragon was twenty feet long. The monster spat a glob of acid at the human, who narrowly dodged. He had a sword and shield in his hands, though I doubted either would do much good. His helmet was smoking from what I guessed was a previous close call with acid, and his breastplate had been slashed.

    The dragon swiped his enormous claw and the demigod made a bad move. He somersaulted to avoid the attack, but that put him right in front of the dragon’s head. He screamed, and the monster opened its jaw wide, exposing sickeningly green, sharp teeth. One quick motion, and I turned away right as the screaming stopped.

    I was about to yell “That’s horrible!” to Jordan and Heather, who were floating beside me, but my voice caught in my throat. Literally. It was like the air was pushing back against the sound of my words. They both looked at me as well, and it seemed like they’d come to the same conclusion.

    Then the announcer spoke. “And the dragon takes down another demigod! That’s three in one day! We’ll be right back after this commercial break, folks, so stay tuned!”

    The lights dimmed, and suddenly a smoky figure appeared, right between Jordan and another floating person. He was short and plump, and wore a fancy cloak and top hat. He had a curly mustache that made me want to laugh, despite the situation, because it reminded me of Mr. Monopoly’s.

    “Who of you wants to fight the dragon now, hmm? May I remind you that if you don’t volunteer, you will stay trapped.”

    When nobody stepped, or floated forward, the figure narrowed his eyes.

    “No volunteers, hmm? Then we shall start with one of our newer, ah, guests.”

    Then he turned towards us.

    “How about you, hmm?” Mr. Monopoly said, pointing at Jordan. He shook his head and tried to hit the figure, but the wind made a protective shield around him. “Shame, but you’ll be up here until you change your mind. And what about the girl, hmm?” He turned to Heather. “I know you wouldn’t want to hurt that pretty face . . . but as we have no volunteers . . .”

    “I’ll go,” I said, and this time my voice worked. Mr. Monopoly turned towards me, and Heather shook her head no, but I didn’t care. These people weren’t hurting Jordan or Heather. “I’ll fight your dragon.”

    Mr. Monopoly’s face broke into a crooked smile. “Excellent.” Then he disappeared.

    The announcer’s voice came back over the arena. “We’ll be back in five! Four! Three!”

    I started falling again, down towards the opposite end of the coliseum from the dragon.

    “Two!”

    The wind caught me before my feet touched the ground, and lowered me the last few inches. The lights brightened, and the crowd roared. The dragon turned his head around the arena, spitting acid at some of the spectators. The audience didn’t seem to care, though.

    “Welcome back to Hero’s Challenge on Aeolus Air!” said the announcer. “When last we left, the Ismenian Dragon had defeated its third demigod in one day! Now we have another hero willing to face off against this creature, using only a spear!”

    He said it with such excitement that I grew even more terrified. I knew the Ismenian Dragon from Greek Mythology. But what was it?

    The dragon roared loudly, spitting acid across the arena. I barely had time to sidestep before the spit splattered to the ground next to me. The crowd went wild.

    “And the half-blood narrowly avoids a nasty spill, shame.”

    I made a very rude gesture towards the air in what I hoped was the direction of the announcer, then looked back at the dragon. It had skidded around the sides of the battlefield, creeping towards me slowly. Then it lowered its back legs and stared me down. I’d had cats before, so I knew what was happening and gulped. The monster was getting ready to pounce.

    Sure enough, the dragon jumped. I was prepared to do something really heroic like stab my spear through its eye while it was in the air, but everything didn’t go as planned. Instead I curled into the fetal position, wrapping my arms around my legs and got as low as I could. Fortunately, the dragon had launched itself to powerfully, and landed behind me. Unfortunately, it slashed its claws at me while it flew, making a nasty gash on my back.

    “The dragon lunged, and managed to draw the demigod’s blood. Finish him, dragon!”

    I stood up, despite the burning pain in my back, just to show the announcer I wasn’t down for the count. I heard a sigh over the stadium, and found the crowd staring at me in boredom.

    The dragon was crouching again, and leapt back towards me. This time, however, I wasn’t backing down. The monster shot at me through the air, and everything stopped like it had once before.

    The crowd, who had been in mid-cheer, were frozen. The dragon, only feet away from me, was floating in the air, mouth wide open and claws ahead of him. For a second, my shock overwhelmed my power like it had last time, but I managed to gain control. Time was no longer frozen, but it had slowed down a lot. The dragon wasn’t able to change course, and continued to slide forwards through the air at one mile per hour. I raised my spear and let go of time.

    Sloosh!

    The spearhead ran through the dragon’s violently purple eyes and sent a shockwave down the monster’s body. A few seconds later, my dragon-on-a-stick disintegrated into sulfur-smelling violet dust.

    “The . . . the hero . . .” started the announcer, as if the words pained him. Since I’m a nice guy, I decided to help him out.

    “The hero just defeated your worst monster, Mr. Announcer. Now let my friends go.”

    I looked up at Jordan and Heather, both staring at me in awe. Heather was trying to say something, but the wind was still fighting her voice. I managed to read her lips though: Cadmus.

    Then I remembered the story. The Phoenician prince, Cadmus, had slain the Ismenian Dragon, which had also been called Sybaris. He’d taken the teeth from the monster and grown skeletal warriors which had helped build the city of Thebes.

    “We’ll . . . we’ll be right back after this commercial break, folks, so stay tuned.” The announcer still spoke with reluctance.

    The lights dimmed like they had before, and suddenly Mr. Monopoly appeared beside me, looking cross. He was literally steaming.

    “You’re the announcer?” I said, but I realized that was obvious.

    “Yes,” said Mr. Monopoly. “And you are annoying!”

    Then he seemed to regain his cool, and snapped his fingers. Heather and Jordan fell down from the sky next to me.

    “But I’ve got a monster you can’t beat,” he said with a wink. I was about to respond when he dissipated into the mist, a cold laughter echoing in the wind.

    “Alex,” Jordan said, rubbing his knees. Apparently their fall hadn’t been as soft as mine. “How did you do that?”

    “I don’t know, but we’ve got problems.”

    “Alex is right,” Heather said, and she examined her discus. “If Eurus has some kind of monster we can’t-”

    “Eurus?” I asked, and Heather looked up from her weapon.

    “The god of the unlucky east wind,” Heather said.

    “How do you know that?”

    “Because, I . . . I . . .” Now Jordan was looking at her as well. “I know this show. I’ve watched it before.”

    “You watched demigods fight to the death?” Jordan said, disgusted. “That’s sick!”

    “I didn’t watch voluntarily,” Heather exclaimed. “My father was watching it once when I went to visit him on Olympus. I couldn’t really tell a god to change the channel, could I?”

    I shrugged, but it was still sickening to think about Heather watching half-bloods fight for their lives on TV.

    “Anyway,” she said, trying to change the subject. “What could the monster be?”

    I felt a cold sensation of dread spread through my body. I had a bad feeling that I knew exactly what the monster could be.

    Mr. Monopoly, or Eurus, seemed to still be holding a grudge, because the show started without warning.

    “Welcome back to Hero’s Challenge on Aeolus Air,” Eurus said again, but this time less cheery. “Before the break, our young hero-” He said it like it was the worst word he could think of. “Defeated our the Ismenian Dragon. Now, he has the company of two others, so let’s see what their next, and hopefully last, opponent will be.”

    The gates opened across the arena, and my fears were confirmed. There were two guards, both with damaged breastplates and helmets. They were forcing the creature forward with long poles. They were trying to protect themselves from the animal with shields, but they were already badly beaten. The winged horse whinnied, and he kicked one of his captors in the chest, knocking them back.

    Pegasus was covered in cavalry armor, and had a long leash around his neck. He was whinnying loudly, and trying to get away from the other guard. When he saw us, he whinnied again, and managed to break free.

    “Pegasus! The great creature Pegasus!” Eurus yelled.

    The crowd roared, and I repeated my gesture to the god. Pegasus trotted over to us, and spoke once he arrived.

    “Heroes, this is very unfortunate.”

    “Really?” I said sarcastically. “I thought battles to the death were fun when versing a friend.”

    “It seems that none of our heroes is attempting to fight the beast,” Eurus said, and the crowd booed.

    “Beast?”

    “I don’t understand what’s so bad,” Heather said. “We just don’t fight you. They’ll replace one of us eventually.”

    “No. It is much worse than that, Daughter of Hermes.”

    “How?” Heather asked.

    “If none of us fight,” Pegasus whinnied in distress. “They kill us all.”

    “So what do we do?” I said.

    “Still no action,” Eurus said bored. “Fight already!”

    “Why can’t we just fly out of here,” Jordan said. “All we need to do is find an exit.”

    “There are no exits, Son of Hecate.”

    “Yes there are,” I said, realizing it was true. “You were brought in from back there.” I gestured towards the gate. “Where does it lead?”

    Pegasus turned back and looked at the other end of the field.

    “You have one minute before being killed, so I suggest you fight!” Eurus was angry now.

    “It merely leads to a cage, barred by Celestial Bronze.”

    “Wait,” Jordan said, and I knew he had an idea. “It’s barred? So it’s not a prison cell?”

    “Thirty seconds,” Eurus yelled, and finally some excitement crept into his voice.

    “No, it is outdoors. But there is no time! Slay me!”

    “No!” I said, and so did my friends.

    “I have an idea!” Jordan said, but I doubted there was time.

    “Ten seconds!” yelled Eurus, suspense in his voice.

    “Climb on!” Jordan roared, and we scrambled onto Pegasus’ back. “Just go! It’ll work, trust me! Get to the cage!”

    “NOW!” Eurus screamed with such intensity that my ear drums threatened to shatter.

    The two guards marched out on the field, now carrying bows and arrows. They each notched an arrow and fired.

    “Go!” Heather yelled, and I almost fell off of Pegasus as he took off. More arrows streaked past us, and one grazed my thigh. It burned like poison, and I worried that it was poisoned. Another arrow shot right at Heather, but she deflected it with her discus.

    We zoomed through the air as more guards arrived. We closed in on the gates, and one particularly tall woman swung his sword. He made a nasty gash in one of Pegasus’ legs, and cheered in triumph. In anger, I threw my spear at her and he dissolved into beige powder.

    “They’re not human!” I yelled. “They’re nymphs of the breeze, aurae!”

    The others started attacking the guards. I kicked one in the helmet and she landed on another’s sword, dissipating into the wind. Jordan held his pitchfork like a jousting stick, and he took out a whole row of guards.

    We broke through the gates and ended up in a dark corridor. Pegasus flew at supersonic speeds, and we ended up in a wide flower garden, full of monsters and non-human guards. Heather threw her discus and it knocked them out.

    “Nice!” I said, but she didn’t seem to hear me.

    “What is your plan, Son of Hecate?” Pegasus landed next to a fountain spilling water from an upside-down stone vase. I could faintly hear the guards behind us, but there were bigger problems.

    I felt a cold hand on my already wounded arm, and I could literally feel my arm growing weaker. I turned around and saw Eurus staring at me darkly, glowing with a reddish-brown aura.

    “Where are you going, hero?”

    I reached for my neck, but my spear hadn’t returned to me yet. I spat in the old man’s eye, and he let go of my arm.

    “How will your viewers on Olympus feel about watching three heroes and a monster escape?” I said bravely, though I didn’t feel that way. “I doubt there will be very good ratings.”

    For a second, Eurus looked concerned about that, and I kicked him in the chest. I turned around and saw Jordan and Heather standing over the fountain while Pegasus scared off monsters coming too close. His leg was bleeding golden ichor, and he seemed to be limping.

    I ran over to Jordan and Heather.

    “Get back here, hero!” Eurus yelled, but Pegasus ran over to him. He backed away in fear, but the winged horse stamped his front hooves on the god. After a few seconds, he started melting into the wind.

    “Good job, Pegasus!” I called, but he shook his head.

    “He is not dead. He is merely weakened, though I doubt he will bother you from . . . ah!”

    Pegasus’ leg was shaking violently, and I ran to help him. “Are you okay?”

    “I might be. For now.”

    That wasn’t very reassuring, but Pegasus shook his head and told me to go back to the fountain. After a few moments, I heard Jordan cheer, and I turned around.

    I wasn’t expecting to see a black hole. Where the mist came off of the fountain, a whirlpool of shadow had appeared. I imagined it must be some kind of Iris message, though I couldn’t see how a goddess of the rainbow could have power over something so dark.

    “Jordan . . . what is that?” I said.

    “It’s a Hades message.”

    “Hades message?” This time Heather asked, and I nodded to show I was confused as well.

    “It’s like an Iris message,” Jordan said, looking back at the entrance to the coliseum. “Except that it’s an actual portal. Ever heard of shadow travel?”

    Heather and I shook our heads.

    Jordan, a little annoyed now, said, “It’s a form of transportation that things from the Underworld can use. All shadows are made of one infinite darkness, and children and monsters of Hades can make a portal out of it.”

    “That’s-” Heather started.

    “Awesome!” I finished, though she gave me a look that said she was about to say something very different.

    “Anyway,” Jordan continued. “We can use this portal, and we’ll get away from this place.”

    “Where exactly?” I said, but Jordan shook his head.

    “I don’t know exactly. Celestial Bronze is a powerful trapping device. Only really strong, nonspecific magic can escape from it. I had to use a shadow drachma, a special underworld coin that is used for Iris messages, but makes a portal. All I know is that we’ll get out of here.”

    “Okay,” I said, and Heather nodded reluctantly.

    Suddenly, the aurae burst out of the coliseum. They fired arrows, and Pegasus ran towards us. Heather knocked most arrows away, and Jordan waved away anyone that got close. One arrow landed in the portal, and Jordan yelled.

    “No! It’s closing!”

    I saw what he meant. Obviously the portal wasn’t meant to take in more than one thing. It was shrinking fast. We couldn’t all make it through now, the guards would kill us if we turned our backs. Someone had to stay behind.

    “Go!” Jordan yelled, but I shook my head.

    “We all go, or none of us do,” Heather said.

    “No, heroes.” Pegasus said, his pale fur shifting in the wind. I saw another arrow in his legs, and was surprised he hadn’t collapsed only being able to use half of his limbs. “I was sent as a blessing to you from Poseidon. I failed you. It is my duty to see you off, now go! I’ll hold off the guards!”

    There wasn’t much time left until the Hades message faded, and more guards were still coming from the arena. It was now or never. I looked at Heather and Jordan, and their expressions showed that they were thinking the same thing.

    “Thank you, Pegasus,” Heather said, and gave him a hug. Then she disappeared into the swirling darkness.

    “I’m so sorry.” Jordan waved goodbye and stepped into the shadows. I estimated I had five seconds left.

    “Goodbye, Pegasus,” I said, my voice cracking. I gave him a hug, and he said, “You will do great things, Alex. Good luck.”

    I stepped through the portal and felt a powerful cold wash over me. The last thing I saw was Pegasus, fighting an impossible battle against a hundred armed guards.

    Then the darkness surrounded me.

    * * *

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Camp Half-Blood
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    36

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    11
    I Manage to Find the Sky

    We ended up at exactly 25º 45’ north, 80º 08’ west, according to Heather. Unfortunately, that spot is in the water south of Miami. It was a relatively short swim to the nearest island, but after our battle wounds and the shock fading away, my muscles felt like they were on fire by the time we reached the beach.

    Heather summoned some ambrosia squares and nectar, and after eating a single square, my wounded arm felt good as new. My spear returned as a necklace, and after a few minutes, we started looking for a way to the mainland.

    Heather, proving once again how valuable children of Hermes are on a quest, managed to steal a speed boat from a family right next to it. She threw money towards them in the opposite direction to pay for it, and made the boat disappear while they went to collect the gold. We then managed to get away from the island before they even looked back.

    “My gods, Heather!” Jordan said. “That was insane!”

    “Thank you,” she said, and turned towards me while I steered the motorboat. “What time is it?”

    “Seven forty-nine,” I said before even thinking about it. “We’ll be at the mainland in about ten to twenty minutes.”

    Heather nodded and went to sit down in the back. It’d been an early morning, so she crashed almost as soon as she landed on the bench. Jordan sat next to me, but he didn’t say anything. I thought he’d fallen asleep until he started a fire in his hand, trying to keep warm. I felt a rush of warmth too, which was odd seeing as how the three-inch flame was a yard away from me.

    After five minutes, I started thinking about how my stepfather and I always went down to Hawaii in the summer. I had learned how to drive a boat there, on my seventh birthday. We would usually invite Heather and Lucian to come with us, and we would go for a boat ride almost every day we were there.

    For the first time, I realized just how different my life was now. I doubted that I would ever get a peaceful summer again. After all, we had barely been on this quest for four days, and we’d already fought gods, flown on winged horses, and I’d just defeated a dragon on television.

    “Uh, Alex?” Jordan finally said. “What’re you doing?”

    I realized that I had almost lulled myself to sleep. I had turned the boat left on accident, and we’d started heading south. I quickly turned us back in the right direction, making Heather stir.

    “It’s okay Heather, go back to sleep,” I said, and she did. Then I turned to Jordan. “Nothing, just got a little sleepy, that’s all.”

    “Here,” he said, and stood up. “You need to rest. I can drive the boat.”

    “Really,” I said, and he nodded. We traded places and I fell asleep almost immediately.

    * * *
    It was a short rest, so I only saw Kronos’ temple for one second before Jordan shook me awake. He had a look of panic on his face, and I instinctively reached for my spear. I stood with the Hecatian Silver weapon in hand, and saw what made Jordan nervous.

    It was like some kind of monster parade. There were all kinds of creatures, literally stepping out of the water and walking down the streets of southern Florida. I didn’t know what the mortals saw through the Mist, but they were sitting down on the sidewalks, watching the monsters go by.

    Evidently, they weren’t normal creatures even by Greek mythological standards, because Jordan said, “What are those things?”

    I went back to Heather and shook her gently. She looked up at me, and when she saw my face she frowned.

    “What’s wrong?” she said, and sat up.

    “I think you need to come see this.” I led her to the front of the boat, and her eyes went wide. She said the exact same as Jordan, and turned towards him.

    “Have you ever seen anything like that?” she said, and he shook his head. “No.”

    I looked back at the creatures, trying to take in everything I saw. There were a few sky blue serpents, but what really caught my eye was the large group of creatures that seemed to be made almost out of seaweed. They had sea green, scaly arms that stretched to the ground. Their hands were olive green with long fingers, and leaves seemed to sprout from the gaps. They were only two feet tall, but I was ready to bet they were vicious in battle.

    There were also seven different monsters, who seemed to be leading the others forward. Six of the leaders looked almost identical, and extremely hideous. They were the color of pewter, and had a rocky form like they’d been carved from a mountainside. They had thick outer shells like lobsters, only olive green and covered in starfish and snails. Their hair was mossy and wild, and they had three pure black eyes each. They didn’t seem to have a nose or a mouth, but they were calling out orders to the seaweed creatures.

    Then there was a woman with luscious blue hair, and a perfect face. She wore a white Greek chiton and held a trident in her hands. However, below her waist sprouted an enormous, olive green serpent tail, complete with spikes. Water was swirling all around her, like she was a drain in a bath tub. I didn’t know where the water from, but it kept her reptilian hide nice and wet.

    “Fight them?” I said nervously, and my voice shook in fear.

    “No way,” Jordan said quickly, and didn’t even turn his head. “I’m not getting anywhere near those monsters.”

    “Me either,” Heather said, and I felt relieved.

    “Then where will we go? We can’t just stay here forever,” I said, and Heather whimpered. “Jordan, can you make another shadow travel portal?”

    “No, I can’t,” he said, but he turned to face me this time. “It takes too much of my energy to do it, and that last trip exhausted me.”

    “I may have an idea,” Heather said, but she didn’t look happy about it.

    “What?” I said. I was willing to try anything to get out of here.

    “Well, you remember when we were flying to Camp Half-Blood? How I bent the dimensions of the air so it only took about an hour?”

    “Yeah.”

    She sighed. “Well, it does work better when I’m flying, but we were warned not to. We learned that lesson already.” She sighed again, but more sadly this time. “However, I can slightly alter the dimensions of travel while we’re on land. I might be able to distort this area enough that we can get past the monsters.”

    “Why didn’t you tell us that before?” I said. “We could’ve gotten here in one day like that!”

    “We could’ve,” Heather said. “But I probably would’ve died in the attempt. Like what Jordan said, it takes a lot out of me. We’d need to take a long rest between each jump, and even then I’d be really loopy.”

    “Oh,” I said, a little disappointed. “Okay.”

    After a few moments, Jordan said, “So just get us past the monsters for now.”

    “Well, we don’t know exactly how far those monsters have gone,” Heather said. “We might land in the army.”

    “No,” I said, realizing something. “We can find out how far they go.”

    “What?” Jordan said. “How?”

    I reluctantly ignored his question and turned to face Heather. “Can you bend the dimensions of the air around people away from you? Make them get here faster?”

    Heather nodded. “It’s even slightly easier, because there’s a defined arrival location, here.”

    I smiled, and pulled a silver feather from my pocket. Then I turned to Jordan. “We get help from a friend.”

    * * *
    If you’ve never seen an owl materialize right in front of your face, count yourself lucky. Askalaphos, with help from Heather’s powers, appeared only a minute after I’d thrown the feather into the sky. The feather seemed to act as some kind of homing device, because it flew straight into the air and released a sort of aura like a god. Once Askalaphos arrived, the feather disappeared.

    After he crashed into my face and tumbled to the ground, I was surprised that he didn’t warp into his human form. Then I remembered: He could only become human near areas of Athena’s power.

    “Askalaphos,” Heather said, and he turned his head to face her. “We need your help. There are monsters all along the Miami coast. We need to know just how far they stretch.”

    I’m not sure if owls can nod, but Askalaphos seemed to. He took off immediately and soared over the water to the mainland. After a few seconds, he became to small to locate.

    “Wait,” I said, realizing a major flaw in the plan. “How can he tell us how far they go? He can’t turn into a human.”

    To my surprise, Jordan smiled. “Yeah he can.”

    “What?” Heather said. She sounded as confused as I felt, which relieved me. “How?”

    “I used to live in Miami,” Jordan said happily, like he was reminiscing about his old life. “I lived here even when I knew I was a demigod. Because I knew about that, I wanted to find out everything I could about demigods in the real world.”

    He turned towards the coast and pointed to a large white building surrounded in palm trees. It looked like a New York apartment building, but much nicer.

    “That building over there is the Grand Concourse Apartment building. It was designed by Robert Law Weed, a son of Athena.”

    Something clicked in my brain.

    “He dedicated the building to Athena?” I said, and Jordan nodded.

    “Of course he didn’t say it was dedicated to her,” Jordan went on. “He didn’t want people to think he was crazy. But yeah, it’s technically a monument to Athena.”

    “That’s great!” Heather said, and balled her fists. “Where’s Askalaphos?”

    As soon as she said that, the silver bird that was our friend reappeared over the bay waters. He landed lightly on the nose of the motorboat, and Heather told him about the building. Then, he literally melted into his human form. He became watery and wavy, like he was made of steam. His body elongated, and his beak shrunk. His wings became a feathery jacket and his skin became deathly pale. He still had a terrified expression on his face.

    “Excellent. I shall add Miami to my list of Athenic locations,” he said to himself.

    “Athenic locations?” I asked.

    He regarded me and smiled. “Locations in the country where the power of Athena is great.” He pulled a ragged, yellow paper from his pocket. I’d been to Egypt once, and Askalaphos’ leaf looked a lot like Papyrus.

    “So far I know of Washington D.C. because of the Washington Monument, New York City because of the Statue of Liberty, Nashville because of the Parthenon, all of California because of the state seal-”

    “Okay, I get it,” I said, and Askalaphos stopped talking.

    “So how far do the monsters go?” Heather said a little impatiently, and Askalaphos’ eyes widened like he had just remembered why he’d flown over Miami.

    “They stretch about ten blocks inland and three blocks wide. If you’re trying to get north of them, manipulate the air at least two and a half blocks. I’d advise that.”

    “Thank you, Askalaphos,” Heather said.

    After a moment, the old gardener said, “Is that all?”

    I could tell Heather was about to say “yes” without thinking, so I jumped in.

    “No, of course not,” I said, and Askalaphos relaxed. “We need you to help us. We need adult guidance.”

    Jordan and Heather were each giving me ‘What?’ looks, but Askalaphos looked pleased.

    “A wise choice, all of you. Now, Daughter of Hermes, let’s get moving.”

    * * *
    So far, I’d flown across the country in a chariot pulled by a dragon, ran along the Atlantic Coast with a levitating and unconscious teenager and flown on the back of a winged horse. Hands down, traveling through warped air was the most fun.

    It wasn’t really like stepping through a portal, as I had expected. It was more like I had instantly become two hundred meters long. I placed my foot forward, and I saw particles of my skin shimmering over the water as they spanned the distance over the army. I placed my foot down over what would’ve been the side of the boat, and felt solid ground a few inches above the water surface.

    “This . . . is . . . awesome,” I said.

    Heather and Jordan both stepped forwards, and I saw the pieces of them snap over the Miami Bay. They were out of sight in a second, leaving me and Askalaphos alone.

    “I’ll be flying to make sure they make it through safely,” Askalaphos said. “If something went wrong, I wouldn’t want to be an immortal living in antimatter.” He looked down at me, and quickly added, “No offense.”

    “None taken,” I said, but I didn’t mean it.

    Askalaphos wrapped himself in his feather coat and began to shrink. His face became wrinkled, and his lips cracked and hardened. The light blue color of his eyes transformed into a murky gray, and his nose disappeared into his face. Feathers sprouted all over him, and his legs withered and his bare feet grew talons. In his full owl form, he flew away to find Heather and Jordan.

    Then Heather’s face appeared out of thin air, but her neck stretched over the water in a stream of peach-colored specks.

    “Come on already,” she said, and stuck her hand out. I took it, and she pulled me forwards.

    It was like watching a video tour of Miami in fast-forward. The buildings fused together all around me, and in a second, Heather and Jordan popped into existence. A large screech owl was perched on the bench to my left.

    “We need to get moving,” Heather said, and pointed down the right side of the street. I looked at where she was motioning me to look, and gasped when I saw the front line of the monster army cross the intersection. “I’d have us warp around again, but I don’t think I have the energy.”

    She did look unusually pale. I doubted that she’d be able to run far anyway.

    “I don’t think you’re able to run, either,” I said, and Jordan nodded.

    “We just need a place to hideout, for now,” he added.

    Askalaphos suddenly materialized into his human form, and gave us a look like we were all idiots.

    “Perhaps you haven’t noticed where we landed.” He pointed a long, bony finger behind me, and I found myself face-to-face with the building Jordan had mentioned before.

    “Grand Concourse Apartments,” he repeated. “Come on.”

    Then, right before the monsters noticed us, we ran into the building.

    * * *
    It was unsettlingly easy to get a room. After a short talk with the receptionist, involving a lot of hypnosis magic Heather had learned from Lucian, we ended up in a corner room on the top floor. Across from the entry, there was a large field, beyond which was a stunning beach view, except for the disgusting creatures stepping out of the bay. To the left was the street we had landed on, and I saw about half a dozen snake-like creatures patrolling they alleyways.

    “Uh-oh,” I said, as they slithered forward to examine the building. They made some sort of bodily communication to each other, and wormed around the apartment building. When they disappeared down a side street, we all sighed in relief.

    Meanwhile, the rest of the monster army was headed further into the city. A small group of the small seaweed creatures were scaling the side of an old marble building, and slimy locks of kelp sprouted where their leafy hands crept into cracks. One fell from about half way up the side of the wall, and splattered into a starburst of green slime.

    “That’s disgusting,” Heather said, and once again I noticed how pale she looked.

    “Heather,” I said, and she half-heartedly looked at me. “You need to lie down. We’ll keep watch, but just rest an regain your strength.”

    For a second she looked reluctant, but after Jordan and Askalaphos supported what I’d said, she walked to the far side of the room and collapsed on a bed.

    “So what now?” Jordan asked me. “We just stay here until all of the monsters are gone?”

    He sounded like he was in favor of the idea, but Askalaphos cut in. “Definitely not. Once Miss Gray has awoken, we must continue to travel north. The army is likely to travel as far as Orlando in one day; nothing will stop monsters if they have a place to go.”

    “We can’t ask her to use her powers again,” I said. “It wouldn’t be fair. You’ve seen how much it drains her, and that was only a few hundred yards.”

    “Alex is right, Askalaphos,” Jordan agreed. “We can’t ask her to do that again, at least for a while.”

    “Then what do you suggest?” Askalaphos said, and though I opened my mouth to speak, no words came. “We’ve got to at least make use of our time,” he added.

    “I know, I know,” I said, thinking hard. Jordan looked like he had something to say, but didn’t want to. “Jordan?” I asked cautiously. “What is it?”

    “I . . .” he began, but bit his lip. After a moment, he continued. “I have an idea. You . . . you know that shadow travel thing I showed you?”

    “Yeah,” I said, though I doubted it was something as simple as that. Jordan looked far too nervous.

    “Well, there are other things children of Hades can do. If we can’t travel,” he froze for a second, “We can at least figure out where to go when we’re able to travel. I can find out where the others are without Heather.”

    It still didn’t look like Jordan had said everything he was thinking, but I tried to focus on what he’d said. Unfortunately, I couldn’t control myself.

    “What is it, Jordan?” I asked. “What else is there?”

    He took a deep breath, and finally said, “I . . . I kind of had a dream. I saw your friend, Lucian, and Mitchell. They were somewhere . . . I don’t know what to call it. Kind of tropical, I guess. There were palm trees, like here. In fact, it may have been here, but further inland. They were crouched behind a large row of trees, like a small forest. I didn’t see any of the others, but I could tell they were in trouble. They were both panting hard, and covered in new cuts that were bleeding, badly. It looked like Mitchell had only a couple of bows to fight with, and Lucian didn’t have his wand on him.”

    Jordan turned to face me, and I saw his eyes filling with tears. “I think they’re about to be killed, Alex. I think we need to find them, now.”

    I was about to say something, but I was at a loss for words. To save me from an awkward silence, Askalaphos said, “I think I should go fly around, and see if there are any other monsters coming.” He turned into his owl form and shot out the window, allowing me and Jordan to talk alone.

    After a few more seconds of me stuttering and mumbling, Jordan said, “There was more, too. After my vision of Lucian and Mitchell faded, I was in this really smoky, misty room.”

    “Apollo and Artemis!” I said quickly, and Jordan’s eyes popped wide.

    “How did you know I saw them?” he said.

    “I saw them too.”

    “Oh,” Jordan said, looking a little disappointed, like I had just made what he’d about to say pointless. Then, however, he seemed to think of something else important because he perked up again.

    “Well, I’m guessing they didn’t tell you what to do with the dead, huh?”

    “No,” I said, and realized too late it was a joke. Yeah, I was that tired.

    “Well, anyway, they told me that I needed to figure out what the prophecy meant-”

    “Me too!” I said, and Heather stirred. She slipped back to sleep, though, and I looked at Jordan. He looked annoyed that I’d interrupted again. “Sorry.”

    “Anyway,” he continued. “They said that I could ask some . . . certain people . . . about what the prophecy meant.”

    Now I got the feeling he wanted me to say something.

    “The certain people . . . they’re the dead, aren’t they? You can speak to dead people.”

    Jordan nodded. “But it’s more than that. They wanted me to talk to a certain dead person.”

    I felt like I should’ve known who he was talking about, but my mind drew a blank. I was still trying to process the fact that Jordan could communicate with ghosts. “Who?”

    “The only person who knew the secret to this quest,” Jordan said. “The one whose destiny it was to provide the answer to the prophecy. In the end, his life was cut short by the only person who knew my destiny. My father.”

    I finally understood. Jordan’s father, Hades, had known Jordan would be a part of this quest. He’d known that Jordan would be able to talk to the ghost of the person who knew the answer. I didn’t know how he knew the answer, but everything was connected.

    “Hades ordered Cerberus to kill him, and only him, right?”

    “Yes,” Jordan said, glad I’d figured it out. “Now, we need to summon Kyle.”

    * * *
    “Before we do this,” I said, standing over the hole that, when covered with steel, had been a bathtub. “I want to try Iris Messaging again. When Heather had shown it to me before, it hadn’t worked. I want to know if it’ll work now.”

    “Go ahead,” Jordan said, and poured the contents of a jar of nuts into the hole in the elevated bath platform. “Try breaking the sink.”

    I didn’t want to, but I drew my spear and sliced through the back of the basin, making water burst out of the pipes. The light in the window shimmered on the spray, and created a rainbow. Jordan handed me a golden drachma from his pocket, and tossing it into the light spectrum, I said, “O Iris, goddess of the rainbow, accept this offering.”

    The coin disappeared, but I didn’t feel confident it would work, and that the drachma would fall to the ground like before.

    “Lucian Wick.”

    Nothing happened, until the coin clattered to the ground.

    “That’s weird,” Jordan said, shaking out the last of a lemonade drink from the mini-fridge. I didn’t know how, but the earthy hole had almost filled to the brim with a frothy brown liquid. I doubted it tasted like a chocolate milkshake.

    “Now normally,” Jordan said, and threw the rest of his collected snacks, mostly candy bars, into the liquid, “We couldn’t just automatically summon one ghost, but . . .”

    He fished out a pitch-black disc of obsidian, with a strange symbol on one side. It looked like a golden drachma made of pure darkness.

    “This is an Underworld Coin, like I used for the shadow travel portal at Eurus’ castle.”

    I nodded, and with a wave of shock, I realized that we had only been on Hero’s Challenge.

    Then Jordan lit a fire in his hand, and the Underworld Coin burst into black fire. He threw it into the bath and the water turned to a shiny black color, and gave off a shadowy aura.

    “O Hades, lord of the dead, show me the spirit of Kyle Lyons.”

    The bath water shimmered, and suddenly a dark holographic image appeared over the hole. Then, Kyle’s figure appeared, still wearing the T-shirt and jeans he’d worn the night Cerberus had gotten him.

    “I’ve been expecting this, Jordan,” Kyle said creepily. His mouth was moving, but I had a bad feeling that the sound was in my head. “Your father told me why I was killed. Fortunately, he has granted me access to Elysium if I provided you with the answers you seek.”

    “Okay,” Jordan said nervously. “Tell me where the others are.”

    Kyle nodded, and turned to his right, and whispered something to what I assumed was some other creature. After a moment, there was another whisper, and Kyle said, “The other spirits tell me they are approaching Tallahassee, in northern Florida.”

    “So they were here,” Jordan said quietly.

    Then, for the first time, Kyle acknowledged me. “And you, Alex Malone. Lord Hades has informed me of your fate as well as mine. I am sorry for you.”

    I tried not to take that as an insult, and instead said, “Thanks, I suppose. Now, Apollo and Artemis said that you knew the secret to the prophecy.”

    “Yes, I know. You see, as a son of Zeus, I can sense when something strange is occurring in the sky, if it is powerful enough. Mitchell knew this, of course, and when he heard that the quest members must head to the sky, he called upon my help. I know where exactly the so-called ‘sky’ is.”

    “Where?” Jordan asked, sounding more confident now that we were on the verge of an answer.

    “Think, Jordan West. Where does the sky meet the earth?”

    Jordan thought for a moment, then said, “Where Atlas is. Isn’t he in San Francisco?”

    Kyle laughed. “Yes, but no. Atlas is in San Francisco, but you are thinking too literally. Where, in the physical world, does the earth touch the sky?”

    “Everest? The highest point on the world?”

    “North America, of course. However, it is in a place beyond the gods.” Then he turned to me. “Ask Alex. He knows.”

    I did. A wave of icy dread washed over me as I recalled the snowy mountain peak, with the mansion and the zodiac archway. I’d been there before, in real life. My mother had died there. My real mother.

    “Mt. McKinley, Alaska. The highest point in America, and the location of Kronos’ palace.”

    Jordan stared at me like I was crazy, but Kyle nodded.

    “Yes, Mt. McKinley. Long ago, a quest had set out for Alaska, and everyone had almost died. Now, you must return. Good Luck.”

    With that, Kyle’s spirit disappeared, the black liquid soaked into the ground. After a few moments of Jordan staring at me in awe, he said, “You knew where we had to go, and you never said anything?”

    “I didn’t know where we had to go!” I said. “Or at least . . . I didn’t know that where we had to go was where we had to go.”

    Jordan looked confused, but he snapped out of it when Heather stepped sleepily into the bathroom.

    “Uh, guys,” she said, looking like Jordan had when Kyle had appeared. “I think you should come see this.”

    She walked us to the windows, and I immediately saw what she was talking about. Outside of the apartment building, there was an entire fleet of monsters, led by one of the bigger seaweed beasts. The large creature held a leafy cage in one hand, and I saw Askalaphos, as an owl, trapped inside. A serpentine monster head-butted the door, and the entrance burst open.

    “What do we do?” Jordan asked, looking at me like I was the leader. Then I saw Heather looking at me too, and a surge of courage spread through me like an electric shock. I gripped my spear and headed to the door, pulling it open.

    “We fight,” I said, and together, we ran out the door.

    * * *

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Camp Half-Blood
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    Oh my Gods! (<See what I did there? )

    Thanks to Final Exams I haven't been able to post any more chapters, but Winter Break has finally started! So, here we go!

    12
    Jordan Creates a Paradox

    The seaweed creatures were fast, but stupid. As soon as we slipped into the lobby, they ran at us, and a few even impaled themselves on my spear. Heather took out the front row of the monsters with her discus, and Jordan knocked away any close-range attackers with his pitchfork. The large kelp leader roared loudly, and held out his hand, into which an double sided blade grew. He spat a large spray of green gunk at Heather, and her right leg was stuck to the wall like the substance was super glue.

    “Jordan!” I yelled, knocking back a giant sea-blue cobra with my spear. “Help Heather!”

    He nodded and swung his weapon at the gluey substance. The pitchfork got stuck, but he finally managed to pull it out of the gunk and tried again. Meanwhile, I was attempting to kill all of the monsters in the way of me getting to Askalaphos. I skewered a line of monsters, and made a long arc over my head, flattening a weird fish-headed man.

    Eventually, Jordan broke Heather free by lodging his pitchfork against the back wall and igniting the spit. They both jumped to my said and started fighting again.

    “Alex, I’ll make a path to the one with Askalaphos,” Heather called, and she somersaulted through a group of snakes, slicing them up on her discus. I followed her, hacking my way through seaweed monsters and serpents. Finally, the leader realized we were getting close to him, and approached us himself.

    “You think that you can defeat me, puny hero? I am a daemon of the East! The bane of Rhodes! I cannot be stopped by the likes of-”

    He never got to finish his sentence before stomping his foot down onto a well-timed rolling discus. The Celestial Bronze went all the way through his foot, and he bled golden ichor over the top of his big toe. He yelled in pain, and dissolved into a pile of kelp covered in golden blood.

    “Well that was a lie,” I said cockily, and Heather rushed forward to grab Askalaphos’ cage. She snapped the leafy bars in half with her weapon, and the owl shape shifted into the human gardener.

    “Thank you, Heather. You’ve no idea how uncomfo-”

    “Askalaphos!” I interrupted. “We need you to fight!”

    I expected him to get angry with me for ruining his story, but instead he waved his hand, and a bird’s talon sprouted from his index finger.

    “All right then. I’ll assist the other boy,” he called, and ran through the army towards Jordan, slicing up monsters with his claw.

    “Come on,” Heather said. “There’s not that many left. Maybe twenty. Let’s finish them!”

    She threw her discus through the air, snapping of necks, arms, and various limbs of various creatures. She beckoned me forward, and I swung my spear around her. I knocked a giant snake backwards, but didn’t quite kill it. The serpent was about to sink its fangs down into my left arm, when I remembered what had happened when I’d fought the Ismenian Dragon.

    Stop! I yelled to myself. Make time freeze!

    Then, just before the monster pierced my skin, there was a strong tugging in my gut, and everything became still. I looked over at Jordan and Askalaphos, who seemed to be in good shape, then looked at Heather.

    “Heather!” I yelled, and knocked over a frozen fish-man as I ran towards her. The tugging in my gut was becoming stronger, more painful, but I didn’t care. Finally, I reached her and knelt down on her left.

    She had a sickly green, crusty sort of rash on her right hand, and most of the way up to her elbow. Her face was bright red, and her eyes had were bloodshot with frozen tears. Her discus was in the air above her, covered in a similar rash. I pulled her up, and walked over to the others.

    My body ached badly by the time I reached Jordan and Askalaphos, half from carrying a rock-solid thirteen-year-old, and half from making time freeze for so long. I grabbed Jordan’s hand, and forced myself to try one last kind of magic.

    Let my friends unfreeze, I pleaded. No one else.

    “Alex?” Jordan said, sounding completely panicked. “Wha . . . What is g-going on?”

    “I’ll tell you-” I had to stop to rest from the excruciating pain in my gut. “-Later.”

    He nodded shakily, and then Heather woke up, crying.

    “PUT ME DOWN!” she yelled, and I obliged. Then she realized it was me, and started apologizing rapidly.

    “I’m so sorry! I didn’t know it was you! I thought it was some kind of-” Then she froze. “What is going on, Alex?” she demanded.

    “I have to tell you . . . just come on!” I yelled, and she nodded as well.

    Jordan and I grabbed Askalaphos, but I was too tired to wake him, so we pulled him outside. Heather stayed ahead, for I had told her to just stay as calm as possible. She was still drained from before, and her panic over the rash forming on her arm didn’t help.

    Finally, when we were three blocks away, I unfroze time. For a split second, I saw Askalaphos return to normal, then I blacked out.

    * * *
    “I think he’s coming to,” Heather’s voice echoed loudly through my half-conscious mind.

    “Alex?” Jordan asked gently, like he was scared his voice might make me worse.

    I tried to shake a finger to show I was waking up, but I didn’t fully take control of my body until I found myself sitting up in front of an old wooden sign reading:

    IRONREED PLANETARIUM


    “Alex!” Heather yelled, and wrapped her arms around me. Instantly, I started to feel better. Then I realized just how late it was. The sky was a gloomy mix of gray and indigo, and I almost heard nine chimes go off in my head when my body clock said it was right on the hour. I looked down at myself when Heather pulled away, and noticed that my entire body was an eerie white. I looked like a kid dressed up as a ghost for Halloween.

    “Oh my gods,” Jordan said. “How do you feel?”

    I said, honestly, “I’m fine, but my body’s sick of this quest.”

    The son of Hades nodded, and smiled reluctantly. “Well,” he said, “you should take another of these.” He pulled an Ambrosia square out of a ziploc bag.

    “We force-fed you one already,” Heather continued, biting down on a square herself. “We also poured some nectar into your mouth.”

    I nodded, which made me feel lightheaded, and took the medicine. The ambrosia sent a shockwave of warmth down my body and instantly I just felt tired, not hurt. Then I noticed something.

    “Where’s Askalaphos?” I asked, looking around for either the man or the owl. Jordan and Heather looked at each other, and smiled.

    “That actually goes with some good news,” Jordan said.

    “He went to find the other campers,” Heather picked up, and smiled again. “By my estimates, I think they’re only six miles away.”

    * * *
    When I saw Lucian, I let out a roar of joy and tackled him with a hug. He looked extremely shocked, but equally happy.

    “Alex!” he yelled, and led me down the hill towards the campers’ makeshift campsite, where Askalaphos and the other quest members were waiting. Heather hugged Lucian as well, and Jordan went straight down the slope to the campfire, warming up his hands next to Mitchell and Sierra.

    Heather was about as exhausted as I was now, because she helped us span the six mile distance in only a minute. She laid down next to the fire as well, and Lucian waved his wand, creating a pillow under her head and a blanket over her body. Lucian formally introduced me to everyone for the first time, and was about to say something about Kyle when I told him I’d seen dreams of their progress.

    “You . . . you saw Kyle’s . . .” said Mitchell, who I assumed was his best friend.

    “Yeah,” I said, as softly as I could. “I also saw you guys take down Cerberus.”

    Mitchell nodded, but I knew his mind had checked out of the conversation. Sierra welcomed me to sit next to her, and she pulled out a bag of marshmallows, giving us all three to start with. Then Lucian summoned eight metal rods from thin air, but Askalaphos declined.

    “I’m not much of a fan of sweets,” he said. “I’m much more accustomed to fruit.” When he said that, Casey, who had been quiet until now, tossed him an orange. He thanked her, and put the fruit in his mouth, peel and all.

    “So what’s happened to you guys,” Lucian asked after we were all settled and I’d introduced him to Jordan. “I don’t think anyone’s had dreams about you.”

    I told him about everything that had happened, and he laughed when I told him about us escaping Eurus’ fortress.

    “What’s so funny? The fact that we beat a god?” I asked, confused.

    “No, no,” Lucian said, wiping a tear from his eye. “We ran into Eurus as well.”

    “What?”

    “Yeah,” he continued. “We escaped as well, and the last thing he said was ‘If any other heroes stop by here, they’ll pay for what you have done!’ I guess it didn’t work out.”

    Then I started laughing as well. It felt good to crack up, even though it wasn’t really funny at all. It’s true, laughter is the best medicine. Except ambrosia and nectar.

    For the next few hours, all eight of us told stories about our quests, made jokes, sang, and had a great time. When midnight hit, though, I became too tired to move at all.

    “You don’t have to go back to your camp,” Lucian insisted. “We’ve got plenty of room. Plus, there’s safety in numbers.”

    So we agreed to stay with them for the night, and I ended up in a sleeping bag next to Lucian and Jordan. Askalaphos and Casey took the first watch, which would last until three in the morning, then Lucian took the post with Mitchell until dawn. I slept well enough, and luckily I didn’t have any dreams, but I never seemed to stay out for more than twenty or thirty minutes. Finally, at five twenty-two, I came out to sit with Lucian and Mitchell. We didn’t talk much, but it was better than being awake in the tent next to four sleeping demigods and an immortal gardener.

    When morning came, the rest of the group stepped out of the tent, and Jordan lit a campfire with just a snap of his fingers. Lucian, just before heading back into the tent for more sleep, summoned two frying pans and a pack of bacon. Then he disappeared behind the canvas.

    “So how long have you guys been following us?” Casey asked when the food had been cooked.

    “Let’s see, today’s the twenty-fourth, and we left on the twenty-first,” I answered. “Whoa, is that right? It’s only been three days? Gods, it seems so much longer.”

    “Time goes slow when you’re just trying to survive,” Sierra said, putting a strip of bacon in her mouth.

    “So,” I went on. “Why has being in the real world never been so hard before?”

    “Because,” Lucian’s voice came from the tent, and he stepped out. “You didn’t know you were a half-blood. Plus, there were lots of monsters that you just didn’t see because of me and Heather.”

    “Really? Monsters have gotten that close to me before?” I said, for the first time realizing that Lucian and Heather had saved my life countless times, and I’d never even known.

    “Yeah, but you do seem to attract monsters less than a normal demigod. I don’t know why, but you just radiate . . . some kind of powerful aura. Most powerful than most demigods, and in a way that probably even scares off monsters.”

    I gulped. Again, I realized just how well all the pieces fit together, and it made me sick. The internal clock, the freezing time, the fact that I had an aura different from most half-bloods.

    “Alex?” Lucian asked, and I snapped back into reality. “Are you okay? You look a little green.”

    “Yeah, I think I’m just tired,” I lied.

    “Go in the tent and rest up a little. We don’t really plan to head out anywhere until late morning.”

    I nodded appreciatively and stepped into the tent. I laid down on top of my sleeping bag, not expecting to really sleep, when something strange happened. Everything went dark, and I heard a strange, serpentine voice echo through my head, like three snakes whispering at once.

    “The master . . . rise . . .”

    “Gods . . . fade . . .”

    “Destruction . . . spread . . . chaos . . .”

    “Only . . . enemies . . . survive . . .”

    Suddenly, a loud roar echoed through the hills. I realized with a start that I’d blacked out for sixty-three minutes. There was yelling outside, and I instantly pulled off my necklace and changed it into a spear. I ran outside, and found myself ten feet away from the sloppy, drool-covered face of a giant beagle.

    “Alex!” Lucian yelled from somewhere behind the dog, and I came back to reality. The hound lunged, and I barely managed to sidestep before getting sliced to pieces by the beagle’s foot-long claws. I ran as fast as I could to where the others were standing, right at the base of a large hill.

    “Come on!” Jordan yelled, and we all scrambled up the mound as the dog made a giant U-turn. I saw Askalaphos, as an owl, fly over the beast, trying to divert its course, but it kept running right towards us. Towards me.

    “What is that thing?” I yelled as we approached the top of the slope.

    “Laelaps!” Heather shouted in reply.

    “It’s a Greek dog that never fails to catch its target,” Jordan said.

    “Is its target us?” I yelled, my voice cracking because I was scared I already knew the answer.

    “I think its target is you, Alex,” Heather said as the ground leveled out. I looked back at the dog, who wasn’t far behind. Askalaphos was still flying ahead of it, but it didn’t care.

    “How do we fight it,” I shouted, trying to remember stories about the monster from Greek Mythology.”

    Suddenly, Lucian had an idea.

    “You guys said you set up camp at a Planetarium?” he said, and I nodded, still catching my breath.

    “Heather!” he yelled, and she seemed to know exactly what he was talking about, because she snapped her fingers, and warped the air. Everyone ran back, and I disappeared into the air just as Laelaps bounded onto the hilltop.

    * * *
    As soon as we arrived back at the Planetarium, Heather collapsed. She had used all of her energy to warp us directly to the building, and far away from the giant dog. Lucian and I walked her inside the building, and Mitchell, being the son of the god of medicine, was left in charge of her. Jordan and Sierra set up a tent using the supplies Heather had summoned before, and Casey created a magic barrier around the Planetarium with her staff. For a few minutes, my mind was swimming with thoughts about Laelaps, and how long it would take him to find us, when Lucian sat down beside me.

    “Coke?” he offered, and pulled two soda cans out of a small pack.I grabbed one, and popped open the top. I don’t know why, but sugar and caffeine always calm me down.

    “Thanks.”

    “Alex,” he said, and I got the feeling he had something serious to say. “Why did you come?”

    It took me a second, half because my mouth was full from the Coke, but I said, “What do you mean?”

    “Well . . . you’ve known about Greek gods for what, a week?” He took a long drink, then continued. “Yet you came on a life-or-more-likely-death mission trying to find us. Why? Didn’t the prophecy scare you off? You know, ‘Above the world, two of five shall die.’ And you still came.”

    “Of course I did,” I said, finishing off the soda. “You’re my best friend. I wasn’t just gonna let you die out here somewhere.” I tossed my Coke can into a trash can nearby, and Lucian did the same.

    Suddenly, Mitchell yelled out. “Everyone into the building, now!”

    Everyone ran for the Planetarium, and I saw why. A grey owl was shimmering in the light of the midday sun, followed by a much larger, darker shape.

    “Already?” I called as I shot through the entrance. “How? It’s been fifteen minutes!”

    “Not such a big problem for Greek monsters.” Then he turned to Lucian. “Now?”

    “Now,” my friend agreed.

    Before I could say, What? they both ran through different corridors leading from the entrance hall. After a few seconds, Lucian yelled, “In here!” All of us, including a very dizzy Heather, ran down Lucian’s corridor and ended up in a large, circular room with rows of chairs all directed at a gigantic machine in the center. Mitchell, coming in last, slammed the door shut and Lucian hopped behind a large control panel across the room. He gave a thumbs up to Mitchell, who then hit the lights, plunging the room into complete darkness.

    “Jordan!” Lucian’s voice rang through the chamber. “Come here!”

    Lighting a fireball in his hand, Jordan ran over to Lucian’s side, and the son of Hecate pushed a series of buttons. There was a loud Woosh! sound, and the machine whirred to life, blinking thousands of tiny lights into the domed ceiling. A model of the night sky.

    “Just what I though. Canis Major is completely gone,” Lucian said, and this time, I ran over to him and said, “What?”

    Though he was busy, and Laelaps’ roars had started to sound, he said, “Canis Major and Minor are the immortal constellations of Laelaps and the Teumessian Fox, Laelaps’ mortal enemy. They are most preserved in the sky during March and early spring, and during September, they are held loosely in the sky. Canis Major, Laelaps, has been completely summoned from the stars, where he was imprisoned eons ago by Zeus.”

    “Okay, I think I got all that,” I said, confused. “But what are we doing?”

    “We are trying to bring the Teumessian Fox down to Earth. Like Laelaps always catches his target, the fox can never be caught, which created a Paradox between them. If we can bring the of back to life-”

    “We can get Laelaps to chase it again!” I said, realizing the plan, and I saw Lucian nod through Jordan’s firelight.

    “And Jordan’s going to bring it back.”

    “What?” Jordan said, completely surprised. “How?”

    “You’re the son of Hades. You can give the fox back his soul, and he will live again.”

    “I don’t know if I can,” Jordan said nervously. “I’ve never tried that before.”

    “Come on, Jordan!” I encouraged. “You’ve faced so much up until now. There’s nothing you can’t do with your powers! I know it!”

    Reluctantly, Jordan mumbled an agreement.

    “Okay, see that constellation?” Lucian said, and pushed a glowing red button. Suddenly, two stars lit up bright red with a line between them. I saw what Lucian meant, they were weak. “Focus all your powers on those stars. Will that monster’s soul to return from the Underworld! Force it to live!”

    A deafening growl sent a shockwave through the Planetarium, making Casey and Jordan scream.

    “Jordan, focus! Come on! Do it, now!”

    “I’m trying!”

    Another roar echoed through the building, and I knew the monster was close. I didn’t even think about freezing time so Jordan would be able to focus more. My mind was blank with pure fear.

    “Jordan!” I yelled, and suddenly I felt another shockwave, one more powerful, yet gentler. The air became cold as ice, and seemed to harden all around me, like some sort of body suit was forming on my body. The ceiling shook violently, and in a blinding red flash, the domed roof exploded.

    “Oh my gods,” we all whispered in unison, as a silverfish-red figure began to take form from the light. The roar of Laelaps was painful to my ears now that the ceiling had faded, and I didn’t even notice when Jordan collapsed from exhaustion.

    I could hear the monstrous beagle’s footsteps pounding the ground around the Planetarium. I felt Heather’s hand slip into mine. I would’ve blushed, but I couldn’t have become any redder than I was in the light of the gigantic fox forming over my head.

    Suddenly, Laelaps’ disgusting face appeared through the ceiling. Jumping down into our small room, the seven of us scattered, Heather and I carrying Jordan to a hiding place behind a door with a large glass window. With the force of an eight or nine magnitude earthquake, the enormous dog smashed down on the ground, just as something else did as well.

    The Teumessian Fox was alive.

    “Go!” I yelled at Mitchell, who had popped his head into the room to see what was happening.

    In a second, the fox leapt out of the Planetarium. That was a good use of magic.

    But then I realized the beauty of the plan: No matter who Laelaps was told to catch, he could never pass up on the chance to defeat his ultimate rival. He jumped out of the gaping hole in the roof, and disappeared.

    After a few minutes, the others reappeared in the room. They cheered and hugged each other, but when they saw Heather pass out near an already fainter Jordan, they became silent.

    “Mitchell,” I said, and the medic came running across the room. I saw his mouth move in a silent prayer, and ran his hand over the two knocked out campers. A strange feeling of warmth and lethargy spread through me, making myself feel ready to sleep myself.

    “They’re fine,” Mitchell said after another minute or so. “Just passed out. They’ll come to in a few hours.”

    I felt my body clock tick a little past 12:24, and decided that a few hours would be a good amount of time to wait. I needed the rest as well.

    “After that, we still don’t have a plan,” he finished.

    “Yes we do,” I said assuredly. I felt a small tremor as the two Greek monsters ran somewhere nearby. “Kyle told Jordan and me where we had to go. He told us that he’d found where Apollo and Artemis were being kept.”

    “Where?” Casey asked, her voice quivering with relief from what had just happened.

    “Mt. McKinley, Alaska,” I answered. “That’s where they’re being kept. And-”

    I had never told anyone the full truth that I had discovered. The truth about the palace on the mountain, and the truth about the god who lived there. The Titan that lived there.

    “And it’s the home of my father, Kronos.”

    * * *

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Camp Half-Blood
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    Again, sorry about how long it's taken to put up the next chapter. My friends surprised me with a trip to Australia for Winter Break, so I didn't get to write as much as I'd planned. However, I hope to be able to post more chapters now, so stay tuned!

    13
    We Head West

    Heather and Lucian came around a little past 5:03, and we managed to sneak into the back of a truck headed Northwest, carrying a load of full boxes. The driver finally stopped at 11:36, and Heather told us we had arrived in Montgomery, Alabama. Summoning the supplies we had packed up before leaving Ironreed, we pitched both of the tents in a small wooded area, with lots of overhanging leaves to shield us from view. We all collapsed in our sleeping bags as soon as we were set up, which was a little before midnight. I fell asleep wondering what had happened to Askalaphos, and wether or not we’d ever see him again. I even half-hoped I would dream about his location, but no luck. However, I did see something.

    When my eyes opened, I saw a large collection of buildings surrounded by trees on the curb of a busy street. The largest building, which was obviously the office building, had a large marquee of an eagle dressed in green clothing holding a sign on the elevated porch. There were no words.

    Then, instantly, the trees became bright orange and red. People, both children and adults, flashed through the image at lightning speed. Another second passed, and the school was covered in snow. The marquee became blurry, different strokes of black letters zooming over the white board. There was about half of a second when everything seemed to freeze, like when I froze time, and everything continued. Then the snow began to quickly melt, and I realized what I was seeing. This was some sort of time lapse.

    Finally, the snow fully cleared, and flowers began to bloom. Students whirred by, until suddenly, everyone disappeared, and my vision faded.

    “Alex! It’s time to get up! You wouldn’t want to miss the sunrise, would you?” said a very cheery, bubbly voice. Someone started shaking me, and said, “Come on, Alex! Wakey-wakey!”

    Suddenly, Jordan yelled out, and my eyes snapped open. The son of Hades was sitting on his sleeping bag, brandishing his pitchfork at something on my left. He yelled out, “Who are you? What are you doing here?”

    “My name is Laurel, of course! Ask Alex, he knows me!” I turned sharply to the right, and saw that the tree nymph was in fact standing over me on the left. Mitchell, who was also on the left, and Lucian, who was behind me, sat up straight. “What’s going on?” Lucian asked sleepily.

    “Alex,” Jordan said. “Do you know her?”

    “Her?” Mitchell yelled out, and quickly covered himself with his sleeping bag, even though he was fully clothed.

    “Yeah, I do. She’s . . . a friend.” I didn’t know what to call Laurel.

    “Okay,” Jordan said, and lowered his pitchfork. “But why are you here?”

    “I came to help Alex, of course!” Then she gave me a hug, and I blushed.

    “Laurel, that’s your name, right?” Lucian asked, and she nodded. “Could you, just, wait out side for Alex? This is the boys’ tent.”

    Now Laurel blushed. “Oh,” she said, and looked around, like she hadn’t noticed that there were only boys in the tent. “Sorry.”

    Then she slipped out of the tent, and the three others stared at me blankly.

    “Were you going to tell us you had a tree nymph following you?” Lucian questioned jokingly, but Mitchell looked serious.

    “When did she start coming after us?” he asked.

    “I honestly don’t know,” I said truthfully. “I met her a few days ago in another forest. I didn’t think she’d follow us.”

    “Well,” Jordan said, and his pitchfork disappeared into shadow. “She did.”

    After a few minutes, the four of us met Laurel outside. She gave me another hug, and Lucian grinned at me as he went over and tapped the girls’ tent to tell them to get up. There were lots of complaints, especially seeing as how it wasn’t even dawn yet, but they all eventually came out, and Laurel hugged them all.

    “Sorry,” she said kindly. “I’m a hugger.”

    After about five minutes of introductions, Laurel told her story.

    “After Alex left on that flying pony . . .” I tried not to get mad at her for saying that about Pegasus when he had died for us. “. . . I went back to Camp Half-Blood and talked to my friend, Ivy, a satyress. She’s really good with tracking magic, and she told me that you were flying over the South Carolina coast. I had to wait until you were on land again, and by that night, you couldn’t be tracked. Finally, last night, Ivy was able to track you to here, so I used all of my Chlorokinesis magic to get here, and finally, about twenty minutes ago, I found you all!”

    Five more minutes, and the sunrise that Laurel had advertised started to appear. By that point, Heather had summoned us bacon and eggs, and we were all sitting around one of Jordan’s campfires near the edge of the woods. No one had said anything about . . . what I’d said about Kronos since last night, which I appreciated. However . . .

    “So how long have you guys known about Mt. McKinley?” Lucian asked me, when everyone else had gone off to pack up the supplies. We had been picking up all trash, and clearing any sign we’d been here.

    “Truthfully,” I said, grabbing a soggy napkin off of the ground and putting it in a little plastic bag. “Only since yesterday.”

    Unfortunately, then he asked, “And . . . how long have you known about . . . about . . .”

    “Kronos?” I suggested, and he nodded awkwardly.

    I sighed, and said. “A while, really. I though about it as soon as I realized I had powers over time, but I wasn’t ready to accept that my father was the evil titan lord until recently.”

    Lucian nodded again, and neither of us spoke until everyone had come back to the campfire.

    “All right, I guess we know where we’re headed,” Mitchell said. “Alaska. Now, any plans on how to get there?”

    I looked at Heather, and she looked at me, fear swimming in her eyes. I could tell that she knew what I was thinking, and was scared of the outcome.

    My decision was easy.

    “No,” I said commandingly. Everyone looked at me suddenly, but not like they ever had before. They didn’t look at me and see the demigod newcomer, who knew nothing about the world of modern half-bloods. They looked at me with respect, like when they turned to Mitchell to lead them on the quest. Somehow, since revealing who my father was, I had become some sort of figure of authority.

    However, Heather began to smile, and her eyes twinkled in thanks. For days I hadn’t really appreciated everything she’d done. She’d teleported us away from the monsters that would likely have killed us, slain the giant seaweed monster with her rolling discus. Warped us again to safety after I fainted, and continued to use her powers to land us here. In that whole time, all I’d thought about was trying to keep myself alive.

    “Actually,” Heather said, bringing me back into reality. “We may have an idea.”

    I gave her a puzzled stare, and she just smirked in a kind way.

    “You all know that I can transport us from place to place by bending the air, right?” she said, and everyone nodded. “It can be done long-distance, but . . .” Her expression dropped. “It costs me a lot more of my energy. However, if we kept going at any point I was strong enough, we could probably get to Mt. McKinley in less than five days.”

    Everyone was quiet, even Laurel, who had begun picking daisies out of the ground and using nature magic to make them dance. Casey and Sierra shot nervous glances at each other, Mitchell looked like he was even angry about something, but Lucian’s expression was the most surprising. His eyes swam with tears and he seemed to be clenching his jaw. I’d seen him look that way before. There was a bad memory coming up in his mind, and I noticed that Heather had the same look.

    “How come you haven’t told us about this until now?” Mitchell asked angrily. “We’ve been traveling for what, four days now? And you haven’t mentioned this once?”

    He rolled his eyes back into his head, and for the first time, I realized something. I hated Mitchell.

    “Oh just shut up, Mitchell,” I said, unable to stop myself, and he glared at me, like he was trying to study my next move in a chess game. Everyone else looked back at me, but with surprise instead of respect this time. But I didn’t care. “You’ve been getting upset about everything we didn’t tell you. Guess what? We haven’t even been with you guys for a full day! You just want to take control of everything, making sure that everyone else sees that you make the right decision. Stop getting on everyone’s case just because something isn’t going perfectly in your plan! I bet you don’t even have a full plan, do you? You just thought of one idea and expected it to work! Well I’m tired of you bossing us around, trying to be a perfect leader. And I bet everyone else is sick of it too!”

    I finally stopped to catch my breath, and looked back at Mitchell. He looked surprised too, now, and even a little frightened. It only lasted for a second, though.

    “You know what, Alex?” he said menacingly, though his voice quivered, ruining the effect.

    “What?”

    Mitchell opened his mouth to speak, but no sounds came out. Finally he closed his jaw, and started towards the forest.

    Then, as I saw everyone else’s faces, I realized they were all frightened too, even Lucian. Heather looked especially terrified, and her lip quivered like it does whenever she’s freaked out.

    As soon as I saw her face, something that had never happened before occurred. I realized that something I’d learned from school, something from the Iliad, applied to real life.

    Taking one last look at Heather, I turned around and ran into the woods.

    * * *
    Heather and Lucian found me thirty-two minutes and forty-six seconds later, sitting on a low branch of a tree. They seemed both relieved and nervous to find me, but climbed up and sat next to me on the tree limb.

    “Alex?” Heather asked gently, as if she were afraid I might shatter and fall off the branch in a thousand different pieces. I stayed quiet.

    For almost three minutes, none of us said anything, until I finally decided to say what was on my mind.

    “I can’t handle not being the leader,” I said quickly, and Lucian and Heather turned to me.

    “What?” they asked in unison.

    I sighed, and repeated what I’d said. “I can’t handle not being the leader. It’s my fatal flaw, you know, like from the Iliad.”

    My friends seemed to understand, but also didn’t seem to believe me.

    “What?” Lucian asked. “What are you talking about? That’s not your fatal flaw. It’s just a personality trait. A fatal flaw is like . . . well, for example, mine is that I protect my friends at any cost. Heather’s is . . .” He turned to Heather, and whispered, but loudly enough for me to hear, “Can I say it?” She nodded.

    “Heather’s is that she can’t do anything to hurt the people she cares about. A fatal flaw is literally a fault in your choices that will kill you. Your fatal flaw is probably like ours, that you can’t let people you love be hurt.”

    I nodded, but very reluctantly. They didn’t understand my reasoning, and I couldn’t explain it to them.

    “But that’s why I exploded at Mitchell, because he was trying to one-up me. He was still trying to be the leader over me. I couldn’t take it.”

    “Alex,” Heather said. “Promise that what I say, you’ll never tell Mitchell.”

    “Okay,” I said.

    “Mitchell’s been a terrible leader, everyone else agrees. He’s been bitter ever since Kyle was killed, and apparently, he wasn’t much better before. You were right, he wanted things to go as planned, and they didn’t. His need for being a leader just triggered everything inside you. That’s part of what being a demigod is. Your emotions power you.”

    Lucian nodded, and we all went back to being quiet. I looked back up at leaves high above our heads and understood what Heather meant.

    “Come on,” I said, and hopped down from the branch. “Let’s get back to camp.”

    * * *
    It took a while before Mitchell would talk to me, but as soon as he did, we got going. Laurel wished us good luck, and disappeared in a cloud of green mist. Heather created an air portal like the ones from before, but when I stepped through, I could tell this was nothing like the ones she had made before. The air melted from scene to scene every inch, making jagged images somehow flow together in a cloudy tunnel. I also saw how much the portal cost her in strength, because she almost immediately fell over, barely awake. Lucian and I caught her, and we agreed to carry her through the warp hole. She tried to argue, but was soon too weak to talk. We continued to feed her ambrosia and nectar whenever we decided it was safe, but for an entire hour she remained in a zombified half-asleep state.

    By the time we came to a rest, the scenery had morphed into a huge, empty field covered in chalk-white grass that came up to our knees.

    “Oklahoma,” Mitchell announced proudly.

    Casey, Jordan and Sierra immediately began to set up a single tent, and helped Lucian and I lay down Heather on a pile of blankets that Mitchell had spread out. When Heather was settled, Mitchell gave her an ambrosia square and a little nectar. We all began to stepped out of the tent, but Heather grabbed my arm. I turned around, and she let go, too tired to even lift her hand any longer.

    “What?” I asked gently, but also slightly alarmed.

    It took her a few seconds to sum up the strength to speak, but she finally said, in an unnervingly dry, shaky voice, “Alex . . . you and Lucian . . . stay . . .” She inhaled roughly, “. . . Please . . .”

    Lucian and I looked at Mitchell, who looked as surprised and nervous as I was. He nodded, and stepped out, dropping the tarp that served as a door.

    I looked back at Heather, and she smiled. Then she shut her eyes and began taking deep breaths.

    Almost ten minutes passed, when I knew for sure she was asleep. My mind began to wander and I suddenly realized that all of our travel supplies had arrived here, and there was no way Heather could have summoned them. She was way too weak.

    I looked at Lucian to ask, but he was already looking right at me.

    “She sent the stuff directly here,” he said, and I slunk my shoulders. Lucian had read my mind again.

    Wait a second, I thought. He really had read my mind!

    “Yes, I can read minds,” he said quickly, smirking, and I gave him an Ugh! expression. “It’s simple Hecatian Magic. Anyway, she sent the stuff here. She destroyed the warp tunnel when we got here, so that we would get to the rest stop, and no further. She expected she’d be too tired to go much further by this point.”

    He looked down at her. “I guess she was right,” he finished.

    A few more minutes passed, and I started thinking back to all the things Lucian had ever done that I could never understand.

    “So, why do you and your mom like chemistry so much?”

    Lucian chuckled. “We’re born potion makers. Any time we’re around chemicals or poisons, we’ve got to experiment . . . just a little at least.”

    He smiled, and I remembered all the times the three of us would pull pranks; how we each had our own specialized prankster looks.

    “Yours is just like Heather’s, you know that?” he asked.

    “Seriously?” I said, a little annoyed now.

    “Okay I’ll stop. But in all seriousness, you guys have almost identical prankster smirks.”

    “Oh,” I said, and I couldn’t help smiling a little. I looked down at her and smiled more, picturing her expression after we had replaced the marching band’s drum skin with beige-painted aluminum foil, not to mention the ketchup we had filled the inside with.

    “Mind if I do it one last time?” Lucian asked me, and I raised my eyebrow. “Well, at least I asked.”

    “That’s what I thought.”

    “You really like her don’t you.”

    I was surprised, mostly out of shock that he would say it around Heather. I looked at her, but saw she was still sleeping.

    “I knew that without mind reading.” He sighed as well.

    “Yeah,” I agreed. “I kind of figured.”

    He smiled, and said, “And of course, you know that . . . well . . .” His expression grew serious. “I feel the same way?”

    I was a little surprised to hear him say it, but truthfully, I was glad he did. I’d always thought that he did feel the same way, but I was never sure.

    “I do know, or at least, I thought.”

    He chuckled, and continued smiling. “Good to know. Anyway, we’ve been traveling for a long time, warp hole or not. We need to rest.”

    As soon as he said it, I realized how sore my legs were. I’d been so busy worrying about Heather and talking to Lucian that I hadn’t noticed until now.

    “You’re right.”

    He nodded, and laid down on the blankets. I did the same, and fell asleep quickly.

    * * *
    This time, the dream lasted only about five seconds in sleep-time. I was back on the snowy mountain peak, Mt. McKinley, as I knew know, looking up at the marble temple. However, the inside of the arch seemed to dance in a faint red light, like a fire had been lit inside. The wind was howling loudly, so it was hard for me to hear much at all, but I knew for sure one thing that Kronos said in his ancient, stone cold voice before the vision faded.

    “Send in the replacements.”

    * * *
    I woke up, and immediately felt Heather’s hand locked with mine. I looked over to see Lucian, but he was still asleep. I looked to see how Heather was doing, and for the first time I realized how pale she had been for the past few days. All the warping magic had drained her so much, and she had hardly said a word about it.

    I slipped my hand away from hers, regretfully I might add, and tiptoed out of the small tent. I knew that it was still the afternoon, but the sun was quickly beginning to set behind the trees. Casey, Sierra and Jordan were settled around a small campfire, Jordan slowly raising the intensity of the flames. Mitchell, I assumed, was in the other tent.

    I settled down next to Jordan, but I didn’t say anything. I felt a little embarrassed and guilty because I had been spending so much time with Lucian and Heather, and had barely spoken to him all day.

    Luckily, my thoughts were interrupted by Mitchell, who stepped out of the tent carrying a small leather pouch. It looked old, ancient even, like the same age as Kronos himself. It was attached to a long string covered in feathers, stones, and arrowheads, some similar to the one on my necklace. I didn’t know why, but I felt like I had some strange connection to it. I figured I’d have to get used to feelings like this, now that I knew I was a demigod.

    He pulled a small, balled up piece of paper out of the pouch, and threw the necklace over his head, tucking it under his shirt. He began to unroll the paper, and everyone looked over.

    “Yeah, it’s here. I knew I remembered something about this,” he said, leaving everyone, including me, totally confused. “Right here in the prophecy, The deities shall return, but their replacements shall fade. Send in the replacements!”

    Suddenly, everything clicked in my mind. Mitchell had obviously had the same dream that I had, and had understood what it had to mean. Kronos was ‘sending in the replacements’ that had been mentioned in the prophecy! Why hadn’t I realized that?

    “Mitchell,” I said, “I had the same dream.”

    Before he could react, Lucian and Heather stepped out of the tent behind me.

    “What’s going on?” Lucian asked. I saw that he was supporting Heather, but it looked like she didn’t need help. She was standing tall and straight, and smiling a grin better than that even of Aphrodite.

    Sorry, I lost my train of thought there.

    “Mitchell just figured out a line of the prophecy,” I said, but that was the easy part of what I’d figured out. “And Kronos is the one controlling all this. It’s time that we figured out a plan around Kronos.”

    * * *
    By the time we had come up with a plan, the sun had been completely replaced by the moonlight. It was the twenty-sixth now, though only an hour into it. Heather claimed that she was well-enough rested to keep going, despite what everyone else said.

    “If we’re going to get to Kronos,” she said finally, “we need to keep going. It is my magic anyway, I get to do what I want with it.”

    I was glad to see Heather so reenergized, but I was ready to sleep. However, to back her up, I agreed with her. We all began to pack up the tents, and Jordan and Lucian worked together to evaporate any trace that we had been here. Finally, we started northwest.

    * * *
    “Are you sure you want to keep going?” I asked Heather around two hours later. She’d used her magic much more conservatively this time, so she was only starting to sweat around now. We seemed to have reached the edge of the rockies, as the ground was becoming uneven and earthy. In the distance, I could see the warped images of snow-capped mountains coming towards us four times faster than they should.

    “Yeah, I’m fine,” she said, and I could tell she meant it. I think that because she had lost control of herself so quickly the last time we’d traveled long-distance, she was determined to keep going.

    Another hour passed, and I knew we had traveled through the heart of the mountains by the time we came to a stop, partially because the land had begun to slope gently downward, but mostly because of a large highway sign that said:

    84
    SALT LAKE CITY
    THREE MILES

    “Salt Lake City works,” Mitchell said. I could tell Heather wanted to refuse, but I could also tell that she was ready to collapse.

    “You have to accept that you need to rest now,” I insisted to Heather, quietly. She shook her head, but a few seconds later, she put her arm around my shoulder and nodded. The warp tunnel faded, and we landed on the edge of what I assumed was the Great Salt Lake. We were outside of the actual city, but the lakeside trees looked just as inviting as a five-star hotel because of how tired I was.

    “Let’s camp here for the night and then . . .” Mitchell broke off. If Mitchell was too tired to give orders, I knew he needed rest. I helped set up the tents with Lucian and Casey, while Heather summoned other necessities, like blankets and a change of clothes for the morning.

    “Good night guys,” I said, with halfhearted murmurs in response. The girls slunk off into their tent, sleeping bags in hand, and the three of us remaining stepped into our tent, ready for a well-earned rest.

    Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. Almost immediately, a loud splashing sound shot at us from all directions, bouncing off of trees and the water in the lake. Mitchell, Jordan and I dashed back out of the tent, and I saw the girls coming out of theirs from the corner of my eye. I hoped Heather was still able to lay down inside, but I wasn’t able to look because of what was in front of me.

    In the middle of the black lake, a gigantic, shiny, wet rock was positioned where it definitely hadn’t been a minute before. Water dripped down the side of the trees on the edge of the thin forest, and I heard a stream trickling down the mountains behind us.

    A million different thoughts went through my head, none of which seemed likely. I did particularly like my idea about a friendly god of rocks living in the mountain that had come to defend us from intruders by crushing them with giant boulders, but I doubted we were that lucky.

    Sierra, however, seemed to have the right idea.

    “Guys, look!” she yelled, pointing to the mountains. As I turned around, I saw that Heather was indeed still inside, but that relief was quickly washed away by pure terror at what was happening on the mountain.

    “Rock slide! Run!” Jordan shouted, and we all ran as dozens of giant rocks slid down the tall slope, bouncing up into the air as they hit the ground, landing in the lake and in the trees. We headed to the left, where the black water ended and stretched to the other side, when suddenly I felt the worst guilt I had ever felt in my life.

    “WE LEFT HEATHER!” I screamed, and without a moments hesitation, I took off back towards the tent, followed by Lucian and another person who I assumed was Jordan as I couldn’t see his head under the thick black hair the color of the sky.

    We made it back to the campsite dodging a few trees and some smaller pieces of falling mountain. I ran into the tent and grabbed Heather, who was still completely unconscious. However, when I pulled her up by the arm, she snapped out of her exhaustion and hoisted herself up. We ran outside, ready to run for our lives, but instead, we froze as an enormous shadow came down on us.

    “NO!” Jordan roared and I only had time to brace myself before I saw a pitch-black rock the size of a house hurl itself sideways, crashing into another falling rock. I stared at Jordan, who looked just as shocked as I was.

    “Thanks,” I said, still not sure exactly what had happened.

    However, Jordan didn’t respond to me. Instead, him and Lucian were looking, wide-eyed with fear at something behind Heather and I. We turned around and I felt Heather’s hand grip into mine so powerfully that I knew my fingers were about to pop off. But I didn’t care.

    Halfway down the mountain was the most enormous thing I had ever seen with my life. And it didn’t help that I was afraid of snakes.

    “That’s not just any snake,” Lucian said, reading my mind even though it was obvious that this was very different from a foot-long garden snake from back in Dallas. “It’s the snake. The guardian of the Oracle of Delphi. Rival of Apollo.”

    I didn’t know why Lucian was saying it like that, but I knew exactly who he was talking about.

    Python, the immortal earth serpent, was sliding down a mountain right at us.

    * * *

  15. #15
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    Okay, it seems like every time I say that I haven't been able to write much recently, and that I'll be able to write more often after that, it causes a lot of stuff to happen, preventing me from living up to that. So this time, I'm telling you that I'll get a new chapter up when I can, in either a week or a year.

    That being said, here, finally, is the next chapter.

    14
    Apollo's Rival Attacks

    The giant serpent continued whipping chunks of rock off of the mountainside with its tail as it charged towards us. Jordan tried to deflect them with the same magic that have saved Heather and I, but it didn’t work at all this time. By the time we made it out of the trees, enough boulders had bounced into the lake to make it seem like it was raining. Python emitted a blood-curling screech when it came to the base of the mountain, and shot forward. We ran behind a large, dark rock and drew our weapons. Heather tried to stand, ready to fight, but her rush of adrenaline seemed to have worn off. Lucian laid her down in the very back of the rock, and pulled his wand out of his pocket.

    We stood there, ready to fight, but the great snake never arrived. Finally, after five minutes of complete silence, Lucian turned his head around the boulder and looked around.

    “The coast is clear,” he whispered.

    But, unfortunately, that was when the lake erupted like a gigantic salt-water fountain. Python’s rusty-red eyes shimmered in the weak moonlight, and its scales glistened dark brown. Normally I would’ve found the monster beautiful, but it shot its head towards us in less than a second.

    “Go!” Lucian yelled, and with a light-speed flick of his wand, the water around us burst with the strength of a hydrogen bomb and we were all launched backwards. Except for Lucian.

    “Lucian!” I cried out, but I couldn’t see anything through the endless, sparkling water that swelled up from where the serpent had struck. I hoped that Lucian had escaped, but for the moment, I knew getting Heather to safety was more important.

    “Jordan,” I yelled at the dark figure next to me, who seemed to be frozen in fear. “Jordan!”

    Then he looked. Noticing my hand gestures, he grabbed Heather’s feet and pulled her off of the ground, with me holding her head.

    Python’s screeches shattered my ear drums almost completely, and the salty water splashing around burned my eyes to blindness. I had nothing to guide me but Jordan’s lead, tugging on Heather to show me the right direction. With all the sudden turns we had to make because of the remaining rocks in the water, it couldn’t have been very comfortable for her.

    “Mitchell,” Jordan and I shouted in unison. I heard deep footsteps and the sudden splashing of water, and soon a bulky shape took my spot. “Get Heather back safely! I’m going to help Lucian!”

    I didn’t wait to see if they’d heard me, but ran back to where Lucian had been instead. My hearing was bad, but there was no mistaking the shrieks coming from right in front of me. Unfortunately, the sounds weren’t enough to stop me from crashing into a rock at a great speed . . . twice.

    As I drew closer, a sudden bright flash of crimson light illuminated the dark, even through my shut eyelids. The salt was causing my eyes excruciating pain, but I managed to ignore it for the time being.

    “Lucian!” I yelled out, which I couldn’t even hear over the roar of the waves, bursts of magic from Lucian’s wand, and Python’s horrific wails. “Lucian!”

    Finally, I heard something that made all of my troubles disappear. Literally.

    “Restore!” Definitely Lucian’s voice.

    Suddenly, a faint violet light coated me, and my eyes stopped burning, and my ears were healed. I saw Lucian standing before me, wand raised, but with blood trickling over his face and chest. And behind him . . .

    “Look out!” I screamed, and hurled my spear, javelin style at the shimmering maroon eyes streaking towards Lucian. He ducked immediately, and I heard a satisfying crunching sound as the Hecatian Silver pierced through Python’s enormous, ochre face. The serpent collapsed in the water, golden ichor flowing from its fatal wound.

    Lucian stepped up, took a good look at the fallen monster, and ran towards me, shivering from what had just happened.

    “Alex . . . you . . . you killed Python! The serpent king that even Lord Apollo himself could not vanquish!” He smiled, and so did I. “Sorry, I couldn’t help but say it formally.”

    “Come on,” I said, and pat his back. “Let’s get back to camp.”

    * * *
    You know that feeling you get when you’ve just done something incredible, like killing a supposedly immortal, giant serpent, and then not having it come back to life? If you do, please tell me what it’s like, because I don’t.

    When Jordan, Lucian and I found the others, Mitchell and Casey insisted on checking us all for injuries. They gave Heather an extra ambrosia square and a sip of nectar, to help her body heal from the adrenaline rush. Lucian and Jordan were both sent off with Sierra to gather the camping gear we’d left behind, but the Apollo siblings told me to stay behind.

    “Lucian used magic to clear your senses. We can feel the healing magic aura still lingering,” Mitchell said.

    “When the spell wears off, the pain of the salt in your eyes and the partial deafness will return with a vengeance,” Casey warned. “So it’d be best if you were asleep when that happens.”

    Then she gently poked the inner points of my eyes. They both went completely black, and I started to feel drowsy.

    “Mitchell will stay and watch over you while I help get the tents and stuff,” Casey finished, and removed her fingers from my face.

    I tried to make a sound of agreement, but her sleeping magic was to strong. I fell asleep in an instant.

    * * *
    Not that I didn’t enjoy waking up to find that I was still blind and deaf, learning that my guardian had abandoned me, and by the force of the vibrations in the ground, discovering that Python was alive, but I would’ve preferred if it didn’t happen.

    “Mitchell?” I said in a voice loud enough to hear through my weakened ears. “Mitchell, if you’re there . . .” I held out my fist. “Touch my hand.”

    A long time went by, and no one touched my wrist.

    “Fantastic.”

    I felt a cold shower of water fall over me, causing me to jump up instinctively and hit my head on something hard.

    “What the . . .” I said, and felt for the object I had head-butted. There was something above me that was bumpy and cold, kind of like asphalt. It seemed to stretch on and on above me, like I was in a giant cave. More water came down on me, though I couldn’t figure out from where. The ground and ceiling shook violently, and with each shake, more water splashed over me.

    I decided that the first thing I should do would be to figure out where I was. However, the first thing I did do was grab my spear from around my neck and start slashing at the low ceiling.

    I screamed, froze time, and swore in Greek for a long time before finally breaking down in tears. By that point, though, I could hardly feel them because of the constant downpour of the water from above. My only hope was that the water would wear away the rock, but even then, I wouldn’t know where I was.

    Slashing the ceiling one more time out of anger, I managed to make a rock fall onto my left arm, and water fell nonstop through the hole. I could tell instantly that the place I was in was not large, as I could feel the water level rising quickly.

    I stood up, though I had to crouch a little to fit, and continued hitting the ceiling with my spear. Little by little my sight began to come back, and I could hear the roaring water fall very faintly. The water began to heat up, and I wondered if I was doing something to myself to make my body warm up. I broke rocks more quickly with a gap open, which forced the area I was in to fill up faster. When the water reached my chin, I started hitting the rock as fast as I could to make a hole big enough for me to fit through.

    The water covered my face, and I knew I had very little time to escape. I felt up, trying to fight the pounding waterfall as much as I could, to see if the hole was big enough. It was close, but I figured I might just be able to get through.

    I positioned myself underneath the gap, and stood up straight, getting my head through the ceiling and into what I realized was the bottom of the lake. I jumped, but barely got off of the watery ground because of the whirlpool around me. I could feel myself going lightheaded from the lack of oxygen and the pressure, so I didn’t notice the fact that my sight was all better and that my hearing was fine. I tried to scream, but my mouth just released tiny bubbles of air. I could almost feel my spirit leaving me, floating up only to go down somewhere else in an entrance to the Underworld to meet Jordan’s dad. In fact, I could actually feel myself being lifted, even though I could still feel the rocks around my neck. It was a weirder sensation than anything else I’d ever felt, and I felt incredible too. I opened my eyes, and saw two things, like a transparent image was being projected over my real vision. I saw almost completely black water with rocks shifting around, and the face of a handsome young man, pulling me upwards and onto the lake shore. When he spoke, the voice seemed to shift around in my mind.

    “You have been blessed by the gods, Alex Monroe. Your patron has liberated your Mana,” said the boy, and he knelt down against the sea. He placed a small wooden bucket into the water, which seemed to have become eerily calm, though I was too bewildered by what was happening to me to see what was happening with Python. The bucket filled, and the water seemed to glow with a magnificent golden light.

    “Who are you?” I asked, my voice quivering over the wind and the water that still surrounded my physical half.

    The boy chuckled. “I am your servant. The cup-bearer to the gods, the water carrier. I am Aquarius, the zodiac manifestation of Ganymede.”

    I had no idea what any of that meant, except for the servant part. Why would I have servants?

    Again, the boy chuckled, but more seriously this time. He held the bucket of golden water up to me, and whispered something that I couldn’t hear.

    “Call for me whenever you need, and I will come to your aid.”

    Then he threw the water on me, which I did not appreciate. However, as soon as the golden droplets touched me, I felt all of my body rising upwards, combining with the part of me that was my . . . what did that Aquarius guy say? Mana? Anyway, I suddenly felt the cold chill of the water on my fingers, the ripples from what came from behind me, and I turned. However, moving myself broke whatever kind of spell I was under, and I splashed down under the water.

    When my head bobbed back up above the surface, there was no one else anywhere in the lake. I swam towards the shore where Aquarius had been standing, and pulled myself onto the cold, wet dirt.

    Before I picked my head back up, I heard Aquarius’ voice again.

    “Maybe I should help you out before I go, though,” he said, and I felt a warm hand pick me up by the shoulder. “Follow me,” Aquarius said, and took off through the woods.

    “Wait up!” I called, and ran after him.

    * * *
    “No!” I screamed, and ran up the the dark shape of a fallen person, laying in a pool of shiny blood. I didn’t know who it was, but I shrunk down beside them to check for breathing.

    “Who are . . .” Casey said, as I recognized the voice, but she couldn’t finish the sentence.

    “It’s Alex,” I said. “I’m gonna put you somewhere safe, okay?”

    She nodded, and I put one hand around her and one hand on her shoulder. I dragged her into a shallow depression behind a large tree, and dragged a few leaves over her to hide her from view.

    “I’ll be back with help, okay?” She didn’t make any response, but I took it as an Okay. “Be back soon,” I said, and ran back to where Aquarius had lead me. I almost got lost in the dark trees, when I heard a familiar shriek coming from my left, and the direction of the neighboring mountains.

    “No,” I said, not believing what I was thinking. Python had come from the mountains, so it was likely that there was some kind of nest up there . . .

    I ran for the mountain.

    I reached the base of the grass-covered slope, and started up it. The grass had been covered with either dew or water from splashes in the lake, but either way, it was too slippery to run up. I had to get down on my knees, just knowing that my jeans, which I had managed to keep relatively intact, were going to be stained dark green all over the knee cap. I started to crawl up the side of the hill, listening to Python’s roars get louder and louder. I started to hear a few muffled sobs, and one scream, which I knew couldn’t be good. As a reached the edge of the slanted forest, I lost my grip on the wet grass and almost plummeted off of a fifty-foot tall, steep cliff to my right. My wrist were cut up badly and I had been proven wrong about my jeans - they simply ripped off from the knee down instead of being stained. Finally I found grip again on a mossy ledge, but I had slid down almost half the distance I had climbed. I heard another scream, louder this time, and I knew that I had to go fast.

    Finally, after about 20 more minutes of Python’s screeches, climbing, and slipping, I reached a dark, rocky cave near the top of the hill. Python’s cave.

    I didn’t want to let Python know I was there, but I didn’t know how I would manage to find any of my friends without calling them. Then I thought of something.

    I’d managed to freeze time except for Askalaphos and Heather before, maybe if I focused, I could freeze everything but all five of the other quest members, excluding Casey, of course.

    I focused everything I had on that one idea, knowing there was such as small chance that it would work, but still trying to accomplish it. I heard noises that sounded like Python coming closer, but I forced myself not to lose focus. I felt myself tensing up in fear as the slithering drew closer and closer, and an intense pain roared in my gut when I heard a roar, which seemed to last forever, and I thought of all the people I loved, Lucian, Jordan, Heather, the roar slowly growing slower and slower as I reached my fate . . .

    Or, as time itself slowed. I couldn’t control it any longer, and I looked straight into Python’s horrifying eyes.

    The terrifying beast moved about 2 miles per hour, and I couldn’t help but laugh.

    However, there was one thing I still had to test.

    “Lucian!” I yelled out, and my heart sank when I heard nothing.

    “No!” I yelled, when suddenly I heard someone else’s voice. Someone else’s voice in real time.

    “Alex? Help!” cried Heather, and I turned to my left, where the sound came from. I dropped my spear in joy, and picking it back up, I ran down a small stone tunnel, yelling, “Heather, I’m coming!”

    “Alex, I don’t know where I am!”

    A thought occurred to me, and I knew it was true as I said it. “You’re in a trap, made by Python, to keep you under the lake, where you can’t escape. I got out of mine with my spear, and I’ll break you free too!”

    “Okay, but hurry! I think I’m running out of air!”

    I reached the end of the tunnel, and a sharply slanted tube opened out from my right. I slid down, holding my spear tight, and felt a soft cracking noise as my feet hit solid rock.

    “Was that you?” Heather asked, her voice shimmering due to the rock barrier.

    “Yeah, it’s me,” I said, and slammed my spear against the wall of stone. “Now get to the side where that sound is not coming from. I’m breaking in.”

    “Okay,” Heather said, and after a few seconds, I started slamming the point of my weapon against the rock. It began cracking much quicker now that I could use all of my arm power.

    Suddenly, with an enormous snapping, crumbling sound, the floor gave way beneath me, and Heather crawled over the fallen rocks to where I stood, and jumped up, giving me a tight hug. I fought the urge to turn and kiss her, but instead let go and said, “Come on. We have to save the others, they must be in other traps like this one.”

    Heather and I pushed our backs against the upper side of the slanted tunnel, and slowly walked almost vertically up the slope, trying to keep our footing while compressing our bodies against both sides of the cave. When we reached the top, I finished the hug I had broken, and we split up to find the others.

    Python still moved slowly, but I still tried to stay far away from its deadly fangs. The first cave trap I found didn’t have anyone, but when I climbed up, I saw Heather pulling an almost frozen Jordan up from her tunnel. After a couple more wrong passages, I found Sierra and dragged her to safety, next to Jordan on a small ledge behind Python. Heather found Mitchell, which left only Lucian to find.

    “Where haven’t you looked yet?” Heather asked me, and I pointed at seven caves I hadn’t tried.

    “Well I’ve tried all those. Are you sure there are no other spots to look?”

    I was sure. However, Heather seemed to have figured out something.

    “What?” I asked, eager to know what she knew.

    “He was the only one fighting Python when it snatched us all and dragged us up here. It must’ve had some kind of grudge against him because he was the main threat!”

    “Wait, you’re saying that Python might’ve . . . already . . .”

    “No, no,” Heather reassured me. “But he’d be the one who had to hide the quickest, no matter where it was. I saw something that might be where he’s hidden.”

    “Take me!”

    “Do you think they’ll be safe?” Heather pointed at the three barely moving teenagers behind the giant, snail-speed serpent.

    “I think they’ll be just fine.”

    “All right then,” Heather said, and ran to the cave opening. She jumped to the left, sliding down the mountain until she reached a ledge covered in ferns and moss. It was the ledge I had landed on when I’d fallen down the mountain. Where I’d heard the scream.

    When I reached the ledge, Heather got a good grip on an uncovered root, and swung under the platform. I did the same, and saw what Heather had been talking about.

    There was a small hole, just too narrow for Python to fit through, but big enough for someone my size. There were rocky spikes all through the hole, and almost all of them shined with blood.

    “Lucian’s got to be in there,” I said, sickened by the thought of him crawling through an endless amount of sharp stalactites and stalagmites to escape the wrath of Python.

    “Lucian!” I yelled, but I knew it wouldn’t work. He was too slowed down to reply. I decided that I had to help Lucian, even if it meant Python would come after us.

    I let time go, and immediately I heard Python’s screeches, and something that made me feel so guilty and traitorous that I almost vomited down the side of the enormous hill.

    I’d forgotten about Jordan, Mitchell and Sierra, completely defenseless, right behind the immortal Python.

    “Heather, I’m sorry!” I screamed, and she turned at me confused. I focused my energy thinking, “Freeze everything but Lucian!” and heard the sounds of silence just before my friends’ screams ended for completely different reasons.

    “Lucian!” I yelled, oblivious to Heather hanging next to me, completely immobile.

    My heart felt like it had won the lottery when I heard a weak, terrified response from my best friend.

    “Alex?”

    “I’ll get you out of there, man! Just stay still!”

    “Okay.”

    It took about ten minutes to finally struggle through the tunnel with only a few cuts and bruises, but I finally reached Lucian and lead him out of the cave. Once he was outside, he gained more energy, and taking out his wand, he levitated himself, and began moving upwards like he was walking up stairs to Python’s cave. After a few minutes, he brought down Jordan, Mitchell and Sierra, who were levitating behind him, and he made Heather float off of her ledge, hovering fifty feet over a thick forest.

    I felt a light sensation spread through me when Lucian came nearer, and I felt the air solidify beneath me.

    “Come on,” he said, smiling. “Let’s get down from here.”

    Once all six of us were safely on the ground, I let time go, except for Python. The area was silent, so I knew that the monster was frozen, and wind blew through the trees, showing me that I had officially mastered freezing time, and certain things in time.

    “What . . . what happened?” everyone asked when they came to. Lucian and I tried our best to explain what had happened, and Heather filled them in on what happened before Lucian was revived. Sierra then volunteered to go collect firewood, as it was starting to get dark.

    With a sudden twinge of surprise, I realized that Casey was still hidden under a pile of leaves in the forest.

    “I’ll be right back,” I said quickly, but everyone turned to me and said, “What about Python? How long can you keep it frozen?”

    “I don’t actually know.”

    “Wait,” Lucian said. “What if I took your spear up and stabbed Python in the tail with it?”

    I didn’t understand the idea behind Lucian’s suggestion, so I said, “Why?”

    “Then you can unfreeze time, and we’ll have as long as it takes for your spear to return to you to escape, because the spear will keep Python stuck to the ground.”

    I thought about it for a second, then tossed him my spear. “Good luck,” I said, and went into the forest, passing Sierra, who had managed to find a good amount of firewood.

    When I found Casey’s hiding spot, I knelt down, and grabbed her by the arm. She didn’t move, but she felt warm, so I wasn’t too worried. However, after a few minutes, I realized that Casey really had . . .

    “Mitchell will be . . . crushed,” I said, barely able to say anything through the shock.

    I was finally about to turn around and tell the others, when I saw something that Casey must have burned into the ground with her solar magic before . . .

    It said, Thank You, Alex.

    After a long time, I heard Lucian call, “Alex? You okay?”

    “. . . Ye . . . yeah,” I said, and stood up. I said a few things in Greek that I felt where appropriate to say, and remembering something I’d read about Demigods having to pay to get into the Underworld, I pulled out two golden drachmas and laid them on her face.

    I went back to find the group, and when they as the look on my face, they were all instantly silent.

    “We need . . . to keep going,” I said, choking up when I saw Mitchell’s worried face, and I knew he suspected what I was about to say, as any brother would be scared for his sister.

    “Casey is . . . Casey’s gone.”

    Everyone looked down in shock, except for Mitchell, who burst out crying, completely uncaring of how he looked as a leader, wailing for his sister, who he would never see again.

    * * *

  16. #16
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    15
    An Old Enemy Returns

    My necklace reappeared on my chest at 6:51 a.m., right as the sun rose above the few building tops we could see ahead. The golden-orange shimmer over the grass and flowers looked especially stunning through the warped distance tunnel. It meant that Python was now officially freed from its painful prison, but according to Heather, we’d almost made it to Olympia (Anyone see some effect of the gods in America?), so I figured we were a good amount of space from the Great Salt Lake.

    Mitchell hadn’t said anything since I told everyone about Casey, which no one seemed to notice at all. Of course, they were all too shocked to say much of anything themselves either. Sierra, who seemed to have built a friendship with Casey over the past week or so, was comforting Mitchell, and I thought for the first time since the night that the Oracle, Rachel, had given the prophecy, about how Mitchell and Sierra had kissed. Now it was so hard to even imagine Mitchell happy enough to even think about his relationship, if they even still had one.

    Whoops, kind of got sidetracked there. I can’t really help it. When I start thinking about people dating, or kissing, I just start thinking . . . well, I don’t really want to go there. Too personal.

    Anyway, Lucian, as the only remaining member of the original quest that was currently able to focus on traveling to Mt. McKinley, took the lead. He advised us to travel only as far as Olympia, and rest for a few hours until we had enough strength to reach Canada. None of us cared enough to try and change the plan, so when we reached the city, we were ready to find some kind of hotel to stay at.

    We quickly found a small place that looked safe, so Lucian warped some mortal money from wherever he had been keeping it, probably in some limbo area like Heather would use, and paid the check-in man for only a ten-hour stay. We got a room right on the middle floor, and only two stories up, but we doubted that any monsters would be able to find us anyway. Eating out of the mini-fridge, we each got only a candy bar and half a soda, so it wasn’t the best breakfast we’d had all trip. Heather said that we were low on any supplies but the tent and enough sleeping bags for the six of us, meaning we’d have to do some shopping before we headed further north. Jordan and I volunteered to go buy some supplies, leaving Lucian and Heather to take care of the mourning demigods.

    “If you need us,” Lucian said, “freeze time, except for one of us, for three seconds. If you do, we’ll come running. We’ll try and meet up by that weird sculpture we passed on the way here. The bright red one.”

    “Okay,” I said, and Jordan and I left.

    After a little bit of searching, we found a gas station where we loaded up on Doritos, Diet Cokes and Microwavable Pizzas, which Jordan could cook over one of his fires. We then found a small clothing store, and bought a change of clothes for everyone. As we were walking out the door, I realized something. We’d spent so much money since leaving Camp Half-Blood, and wasn’t the quest group given only $100 dollars, mortal money? Suddenly, I didn’t feel so good about using money given to me by the son of witch goddess, and the daughter of the god of thieves.

    We made it back to the hotel to find Lucian and Sierra were asleep in the two beds, with Heather doing something weird with her eyes closed, like she was drawing on some kind of invisible paper in front of her. A few seconds past, and I was about to say something, when she opened her eyes, and waved us over to her.

    “What’d you get?” she whispered, trying not to wake the two sleeping Half-Bloods.

    “We got pizza, Diet Coke, Doritos, and some clothes for everyone,” Jordan said.

    Heather gave a thumbs up and said, “Put the stuff down here. If you guys have enough energy, I have a lot to tell you. Want to go for a little walk?”

    * * *
    What Heather had called a “little walk” turned out to be more of an endless, talking marathon. I could tell that she was talking about something important but neither me or Jordan seemed to be able to understand most of what she was saying.

    “. . . so we should be able to reach Mt. McKinley before October,” Heather said. “Even better, we may make it to Kronos on the 29th. We should have a nightly stop first in Vancouver, then Kate’s Needle, that’s a mountain, by the way, Mount Logan, and then to Mt. McKinley. They’re all a good distance from each other, but enough for me to make us get there without straining myself too much . . .”

    “Or,” Jordan said, interrupting, but Heather didn’t seem to mind. “I have one more Underworld Coin I can use. Like I said before at Eurus’ Castle, I can’t really control where it takes us, but if I’m given more time to focus than what I had back then, I can get it to transport us north. Plus, with some of Heather’s traveling magic . . .”

    “We might be able to pinpoint exactly where it takes us!” Heather said, excitedly, but then her faced morphed into one of confusion. “Hang on,” she said. “I didn’t think about it before, because we were in danger, but why did you have to use an Underworld Coin for shadow travel? Aren’t you able to do it on your own?”

    Jordan sighed. “I’ve only ever shadow traveled on my own once, and I ended up with my body trapped inside a wall in Detroit except for my face, left foot, and right hand. It was a family’s house, so they all fled in terror, and without being able to move, I couldn’t shadow travel away from there. I ended up being stuck in the wall for almost a full day, spending a night in jail for “breaking in” the house, until I was finally freed by a policeman who said that he had had a daughter with Nike, and so he knew about demigods. It was the worst, most humiliating moment of my life. So no, I don’t shadow travel by myself anymore.”

    It took me a minute to take that all in. Unfortunately, that one minute seemed to matter a lot.

    “Heartbreaking, isn’t it, son?” said a cold, quivering voice, like the words had been whispered by the wind. “Luckily, there won’t be much more time to remember such a thing.”

    I turned around right as an old man, who seemed to wear a cloak made of smoke, grabbed me by the arm.

    “You!” I yelled, and I realized how stupid it was that we had forgotten to make sure that there was someone back at the hotel who could come to our aid when I froze time for three seconds.

    “Yes, yes,” Aether said. “Me. Now, I’ll give you one chance to escape.” The god laughed, and suddenly, we were surrounded by a whirlpool of clouds, smoke, wind and debris. Yet, there was no sound but Aether’s skin-crawling voice. “You may go if you can tell me what I told you when last we met. What created the universe?”

    This time, I couldn’t hold back the answer from before. “The big bang,” I said, and knew immediately that my ADHD, which was supposed to keep me alive in battle, had just brought about my certain death.

    “Wrong, it was Chaos,” Aether said with an evil grin. “I love demigods and their uncontrollable instincts. Now come with me, son, and I’ll spare your friends.”

    * * *
    To be honest with you, I remember nothing about what happened for almost the rest of the day, so everything that I’m about to tell you is how Heather and Jordan told me it happened. So please excuse me if a few details seem to put them in the best possible light.

    So, back to the encounter with Aether.

    Heather and Jordan were standing outside the cocoon of smoke, wind, and other air substances, when everything suddenly dissipated. When they saw me again, I was being levitated off the ground like Heather had been, with a small cloud under me. Aether blew an enormous gust of wind ahead of him, creating a sort of horizontal tornado in the middle of downtown Olympia. A single second passed, and Aether and I disappeared through the vortex. The wind died down, leaving Heather and Jordan completely helpless and confused.

    “Should we go get Lucian?” Heather asked, worried about me being stuck with a god that already hated us.

    “I don’t think it’d do much good. Even he can’t magically warp us into a god’s hiding place,” Jordan said. “We’re going to have to find some way to reach him one way or another. Let’s think.”

    Remember how I said that their story puts them in the best possible light? Well, I’m pretty sure they didn’t both instantly figure out how to get to me. They probably thought for a while, just saying.

    However, according to them . . .

    “The Underworld Coin!”

    * * *
    They also claim that they instantly managed to use Heather’s magic to find me and instantly arrive outside where Aether was trapping me. However, if the rest of their story is true, by the time we were all out of there, it was night already.

    Aether had chosen another tall national symbol for his western base, much like the Washington Memorial. Apparently the primordial god of the Upper Air managed to create an invisible room stand on top of the antenna spire on the Seattle Space Needle. At least, it was invisible to mortals. Jordan and Heather said they could partially see it, as even being strong Demigods couldn’t completely give them the power to see through a god’s personal Mist creation. When they tried to ride an elevator all the way to Aether’s chamber, as they would ask for an elevator to Olympus on top of the Empire State Building, the lobby worker laughed in their faces, obviously not knowing about the evil god 600 feet above his head. Finally they “admitted” that they were kidding and bought tickets to the highest level, almost 100 feet below where I was being held. Once they got there, they realized they needed to come up with a really clever, yet also stupid, idea.

    “I’ll set fire to the carpet,” Jordan suggested, “but only in one area. Once everyone leaves, we can break open the windows, and you can use some of your wind magic to get us up there.”

    “Good plan,” Heather said, sarcastically. “Except, if I could just fly us up there, I would’ve done it from the ground.”

    “Oh yeah,” Jordan said, disappointed that he couldn’t use his fire magic, which he had truly perfected now.

    “Hey, Hades has power over earth, right?” Heather asked.

    “Yeah, kind of. Mainly metals and jewels, though.”

    “That’ll be just fine,” Heather said, a plan fully formed in her head, and pointed at an air vent. “See that vent?”

    “Yeah,” Jordan replied, confused.

    “Pull down the metal in front of it, so it’s like a slide, but do it quietly, we can’t attract attention.”

    Jordan, who still didn’t understand the plan at all, reluctantly did as she asked, “pulling” the metal down with downwards hand gestures. Heather walked over to the metal that had been pulled down from the ceiling, and began to climb up.

    “Jordan.”

    “Yeah?”

    “Make a little slot at the top so I can talk into the vent.”

    Rolling his eyes, not believing that Heather could possibly have a plan, Jordan forced the metal to fold over, leaving a hole for Heather to move up against the vent.

    “Thanks,” she said.

    “Sure.”

    Then Heather blew air through a small opening in her mouth, which gradually grew louder and louder as it passed through the vents. When she heard tourists mumbling in their confusion around the circular center wall, she did something weird with her voice, making the air travel slowly through her vocal cords, causing her to sound like a thirty-year-old version of herself.

    “Attention, attention. Due to powerful winds blowing outside . . .” Heather snapped her fingers, and Jordan immediately saw a sudden strength to the winds outside. “. . . and in keeping with our safety code, we are sorry to say that we must evacuate the tower before winds exceed 120 miles per hour. A few engineers will inspect the structure within a few hours, and if the building is deemed safe for reopening, all tickets will still be redeemed. Once again, we are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you. Thank you.”

    Jordan, finally understanding the plan, helped Heather down. However . . .

    “They’re coming to this elevator,” Jordan said, as the sound of footsteps approached.

    “No problem,” Heather said, relaxed. “When I sped up the wind, I also manipulated the Mist to hide all this.” She pointed at the bent metal coming from the ceiling. “And us.”

    When everybody came around to the elevator on Jordan and Heather’s side, Jordan realized that Heather really had hidden them, except for two things.

    “Mommy, look! Those big kids broke the roof!” said a little boy.

    “Not right now, sweetie,” the mom said, trying to hold a squirming baby in her hands.

    That wasn’t the major problem. The major problem was the security guard.

    “What are you two doing?” A female guard came up to my friends, carrying a walkie-talkie and wearing a hat that completely shadowed her face. However, when she saw no one else noticed them, her faced changed from angry shock to just shock-shock. “You’re demigods, aren’t you?”

    Jordan and Heather didn’t move, too surprised to react.

    “It’s okay,” said the guard, putting away her walkie-talkie. “I’m a daughter of Demeter.”

    My friends both let out a large sigh.

    “However, why did you tear down the metal ceiling?”

    “We had to get people to evacuate. Our friend, Alex, is being trapped by an evil god at the top of the antenna!”

    The daughter of Demeter nodded. “Follow me. I’ll take you to the maintenance hatch, which will take you outside . . . wait. The wind,” she stopped leading them to a door with a similar sign to that of the one in the Washington Monument. “Was it one of you who made the wind?”

    “Yes,” Heather said. “I did.”

    “Daughter of Zeus?” The adult demigod asked, studying her.

    “No, Hermes.”

    The security guard looked confused. “I didn’t know children of Hermes could do that.”

    Heather bit her lip to stop herself from saying something, like she had a secret. She told her secret, but honestly, Jordan and Heather wouldn’t tell me what it was, so I can’t tell you.

    “Oh,” the guard said. “Well, stop it once everyone is evacuated. Then I’ll take you up.:

    “Thanks, and I will,” Heather said.

    After that it took about 15 minutes of waiting in the maintenance closet before the security guard took my friends onto the roof. By that point, the sun was already starting to come down from the sky, meaning that noon had long since past. Heather had almost completely stopped the wind, already scared that her sudden windstorm had upset the King of the Gods. Trying to go as quickly as they could, my friends followed the security guard to a small series of rungs on the antenna for maintenance workers to climb. The Demeter Half-Blood went up first, to take the hit in case Aether launched some sort of attack.

    As they approached the top of the spire, my chamber in the sky became less and less clouded by Mist, and Jordan and Heather pointed me out to their guide. Apparently I was in a position like I was bound by the arms and feet and gagged, but like the last time we saw Aether, everything was made of thin air. The god was nowhere in sight, but that didn’t stop my friends and the security guard from being completely tense. As they climbed, the adult Half-Blood explained that she had already had a personal experience fighting . . . well, Kronos. As Heather had started explaining to me before, the Titan Lord had risen before, over thirteen years before, and had been defeated by a Half-Blood son of Poseidon, Perry Johnson or something. I don’t know what it is with that name, but I can never remember what it is. Luckily it wasn’t just me. Mr. D back at Camp Half-Blood could never remember either.

    Anyway, when they all finally reached the top of the antenna, the chamber in the sky had fully appeared, and Aether had not.

    “Hermes’ daughter,” the security guard called down to Heather. “Can you move the wind so we can get up in there?”

    Heather, barely even nodding, shifted around a large circle of wind, and the three demigods climbed into my prison.

    “You grab Alex,” Heather said to Jordan, “and I’ll keep watch for Aether.”

    “I’ll also keep watch,” said the security guard, and pulled out two small tools from a pocket that looked far too small to hold them. One looked like a miniature pitchfork, a dagger-like object, but with three prongs that ended in an impossibly sharp point. The other was a short rod that ended in a curved blade, like the kind of thing the Grim Reaper carries around. What’s that called?

    Wow, I should know that. A scythe, the infamous symbol of Kronos.

    Anyway, both were covered in dirt, like they’d been used as gardening tools more recently than they’d been used as weapons.

    It was quiet long enough for Jordan to grab me, but do to me being about 110 pounds of dead weight, he couldn’t drag me very far until Heather came and helped. They got me across the room, with minimal amounts of bruising on me (Which I appreciated), when they saw a big flaw in their plan.

    “How are we supposed to carry him down a vertical ladder?” Heather said, either thinking out loud or asking the security guard, a trained Half-Blood, what to do.

    Just when she was about to answer, Jordan dropped me.

    “Heather!” Jordan yelled, and no one took the time to get mad at him, but ran over to the gap. I was half a second away from hitting the top of the top floor.

    “No!” Heather screamed, and with impossibly fast reactions, an enormous blast of wind shot me off the the side of the building, saving my life, but also slowly dropping me down as I shot north, moving too fast to be seen.

    After a few moments of stunned silence, the security guard spoke.

    “Well that was . . . one way to do it,” she said, and the hole in the sky chamber closed.

    “What the . . .” Heather began, but was cut off by Jordan’s screams.

    A blood-curdling shriek shot like a burst of lightning from where Jordan was sitting. With a horrible start, Heather and the security guard realized his legs had been dangling in the hole, and now, they were being ripped through by the wind as if it were made of chainsaws. He couldn’t pull them up or down, and the bottom half wouldn’t move at all. Heather jumped onto him, trying to break him free, and when that didn’t work, tried her best to stop the winds, but nothing happened. The security guard attempted to deflect the wind off of her small scythe tool, but it just flicked out of hand and across the room.

    “Get me . . . out of here!” Jordan screeched, his eyes drenched in tears and his knees, which were the last part of his leg above the floor, were stained with splattering blood.

    “Am . . . ambrosia. And Nectar. Jordan,” Heather asked hysterically, “do you think you can eat an ambrosia?”

    He shook his head, but whispered, “Nectar.”

    Heather nodded and summoned the Nectar from her universal storage unit. She had to hold his head still so he wouldn’t go out of control from the pain, but she managed to pour the liquid down his throat. It took the absolute maximum that Chiron ever said to take in one sitting to start to calm him, but he did start to feel really warm, and Heather almost saw him glowing once or twice.

    “Now . . . now what?” Jordan asked quietly, trying not to feel the pain.

    “There is no now what, I’m afraid,” said a cold, whispery voice. Aether.

    “Where are you, Aether? Show yourself now!” Heather roared.

    “Why should I show myself? I have complete control over your prison all the way from here!” Aether laughed.

    “What, are you scared?” Heather said, and it wasn’t even in a mocking way. She actually meant it. With the rage she was feeling, she thought she could take on my immortal father, one on one.

    “Laughable, dear. No, I am not afraid, I’m afraid. I’m merely formal. I’d prefer to face my enemies in person, not through an airy hologram.”

    “Then bring all of yourself here!”

    “Sorry dear, but no. Not today, at least. Now, for the reason I contacted you. I’m a decent god. I like to give heroes hope before they die a hopeless death. It almost makes their vanquishment pleasant to watch. So, you should know. The chamber you are in has been filled with the Upper Air, dear. That’s all I can say. You’ll have to gather the rest from that adult guardian you’ve found. Goodbye, dear.”

    The voice was gone, but the security guard’s quickly filled the silence.

    “Heather, Jordan,” she said, her tone grave. “Aether is the god of the Upper Air, the air of the immortals. It’s a substance that, like Ambrosia and Nectar, is godly, and Demigods can only take so much of it before . . .”

    “Burning?” Heather suggested.

    “No, just suffocation. And your lungs turn black, which slowly makes the oxygen in your blood turn black, which slowly turns you into a living shadow. Actually, a non-living shadow.”

    “Oh,” Heather said, and the room went silent once more.

    Before long, Heather and Jordan could start to feel a lack of breathable air, which caused the pain in Jordan’s legs to increase.

    Conveniently, that was when I woke up.

    “Wha . . .” I said groggily, and my friends gasped, which was probably stupid seeing as how they needed to take small breaths. When I saw how high up we were, I yelled. “What the . . . what’s going on?” I yelled.

    “It’s okay, Alex,” Heather said. “We’re in a prison made by Aether the air’s moving fast enough below us so that it acts like a floor.”

    “When did you come to that conclusion?” the security guard questioned.

    “Who are you?” I remarked at her.

    “It’s okay Alex,” Jordan said. “She’s been helping us save you.”

    “Although I’m afraid to say I haven’t been much help-” the adult Demigod started, but I interrupted.

    “Heather’s right. The floor is wind going really fast.” I stood up. “Maybe, if I make the air freeze . . .”

    “We’ll go through!” Heather finished.

    “Wait,” the security guard said. “You’re a child of Zeus?”

    “No,” I said, gulping. “I’m a child of . . . of . . .”

    “Kronos,” Jordan finished for me. Then he fainted.

    “Jordan!” Heather and I yelled, and all of us ran towards him. His knees were revolting, and the bottom half of his legs were blue and showed all the veins inside.

    “He must’ve fainted from a mix of the pain and the lack of air!” Heather said, and for the first time, I noticed the small air supply as well. My lungs felt small and my head was light. My vision was bright and fuzzy and my muscles ached a little bit all over. How could I not have noticed?

    “Okay, we need to get out of here, now!” the security guard exclaimed. “Someone’s already fainted, and he’s had too much Nectar to give him anymore. It’s life or death now!”

    I saw what she meant. Her eyes were bloodshot and her skin was turning pale. Even her short black hair started to look dry and grey.

    Heather looked really bad too. Her hair was starting to have the same changes, and her eyes didn’t sparkle like they usually do. I knew then that the air wasn’t just suffocating us. It was poisoning us.

    “Okay,” I said, and summoning all my strength, I froze the wind beneath us.

    By this point, I felt like I had pretty much mastered freezing time, so it came to me as a shock when nothing happened. The wind seemed quieter, but was still there.

    Just then, Heather’s eyes blinked shut, and she started to slump over.

    “Heather!” I yelled, but the words were drowned out from my lack of air. The security guard had to sit down to keep from falling, and I could no longer do anything more than keep myself from tumbling over.

    I felt my strength weakening, but I forced myself to keep time frozen. Until . . .

    Of course I couldn’t say it, but I figured out what was happening. Freezing the air made even more of a solid than fast-moving wind! The particles had to be slowed, not stopped!

    I let go of the air just a little bit, and I felt myself starting to bob up and down. Heather even found the strength to look up at me a smile. I let the air go just a little bit more, and we all tumbled through the ground.

    All three of the others had fainted already, so there was no one screaming when I froze the air beneath us, making us drop only a few feet. The sudden stop did wake them all up though, but I explained what happened before they could overreact.

    “That’s incredible!” Heather said, and Jordan agreed. Immediately Heather made a warp tunnel from the hotel room back in Olympia to the base of the Space Needle, and the rest of our friends met us when we reached the bottom. I had used a similar technique that Lucian had back at Great Salt Lake, freezing the air in different spots so that the sky became one gigantic stairway.

    When we met up with each other, Mitchell started working on Jordan’s legs, and with a sacred prayer to his father, he promised that Jordan would be just fine in a few days.

    “So until then you can hitch a ride on floating air,” Lucian said. “Provided by me and Alex, of course.”

    The security guard showed us to a hotel that she assured as was safe from monsters, gods, and anything else that makes a Demigod’s life so much fun. At 6 o’clock, she started back to her own house, and gave us her address in case we ever needed to stay in Seattle again.

    “Or you can find me in the book. My name’s Katie Gardner, should be the only one in there.”

    When we assured her that we’d gotten everything we needed, she left.

    “Well, that was a fun day,” I said. “I assume.”

    “So where next?” Lucian asked, and I realized that he expected Heather, Jordan and I to know the plan already.

    “First, Vancouver,” Heather said. “After that, Mt. McKinley. That’s pretty much the plan.”

    “Okay then,” Lucian said.

    “But first,” I added, yawning. “I think Jordan needs some rest. He’s the only one that hasn’t slept in two days.”

    Jordan nodded, and crawled off into one of the beds. The rest of us, with the exception of Mitchell, grabbed sleeping bags and laid down on the floor. It wasn’t the least comfortable night we’d had, but it wasn’t the best either. I fell asleep rather quickly, but before I knew it . . .

    “Alex,” Heather said, her voice low and shaky. I couldn’t tell what time it was, but I knew it was late, as I couldn’t see a thing in the darkness besides her face.

    “What was it like . . .” Her voice trailed off, but I knew what she was asking.

    “I don’t remember,” I said, and I was surprised at how my voice sounded . . . I don’t know, distant, I guess. It sounded like I was hearing a recording of myself talking to Heather.

    “Nothing?”

    “Nothing.”

    Then, for no apparent reason, we both grew closer, our lips less than an inch away . . .

    Then I woke up.

    * * *

    As always, any questions or comments you may have are appreciated, thanks.

    ALSO! Today marks the official start of the Fate of the Olympians Twitter Page - Check it out for new chapters, updates on the books or post questions there!

    ~AlexMonroe
    Last edited by AlexMonroe; 29th February 2012 at 11:04 PM.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Camp Half-Blood
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    16
    We Get a King for a Guide

    Of course I would never have told anyone about the dream, but the fact that I knew that Lucian could read minds, and that he was my rival in getting Heather’s attention put me very much on edge.

    “Are you okay?” he asked me several times, and I would realize that I’d been staring at him.

    “Yeah,” I said, looking away as quickly as possible. “Sorry.”

    The day had been long, but prosperous. Heather, having gotten twelve hours of sleep the night before, managed to get us all the way to a large mountain called Mount Waddington without stopping. We’d left at 8 a.m., and it was now half past 10, so it seemed like we’d gone a third of the way to Kate’s Needle, where Heather advised we should reach by the end of today, in only a quarter of our day. Summoning the Doritos, pizzas and cokes from Olympia, Heather started discussing plans again, which no one, not even Mitchell, seemed to be paying attention to. However, she still went on.

    After a short rest and a quick snack, Heather warped our belongings into nothingness and we were back on track. I noticed that she seemed to be much more able to control herself when she made one of the air portals, which was definitely a relief. I’d gotten really scared every time I’d seen her pass out after using her magic, and even when she insisted she was okay to keep going. After a few minutes I realized I was looking at her like I had been with Lucian earlier, thinking about what I’d dreamt last night. It was hard to accept that even though she knew how I felt about her, she’d never shown anything close to liking me back. It meant that we could never really wind up together.

    “We’ll take about a ten minute break. I think we all need some more rest,” Heather said halfheartedly. “Then we keep going north to Kate’s Needle.”

    “Heather,” I said, catching her off guard, like she expected all of us to be practically unconscious, a reasonable assumption based on how we were all sprawled on the ground, letting our aching muscles rest. The only other person who really seemed awake was Jordan, who I knew was trying to hide the pain he felt in his knees. Mitchell had attempted numbing magic, but it was too weak do his dread over Casey. “Heather, what’s it like?”

    This time I caught myself off guard as well. For a second I felt a bizarre sensation as I realized I’d said “Heather” without even having anything to say. I felt my face go crimson.

    “What’s what like?” she responded, now more peppy than before.

    “. . . I . . . I’m not sure.”

    She gave me a really quizzical look, and it seemed like the red pigment in my face was sinking in, permanently staining my skin.

    “I think I’m just really tired. I didn’t even realize I was speaking.”

    She gave me a sarcastically understanding nod, and opened her mouth to speak, but said nothing for almost 10 seconds. “Go sleep then. I’ll help set up the tents.”

    We worked together and in a few minutes we’d constructed one of the tents. Before we started work on the second, we carried Jordan into the tent, accidentally waking a sleeping Lucian in the process. He offered to set up the final tent while Heather and I tended to Jordan. Murmuring a word of thanks, I helped Heather gather supplies for a better-than-normal (at least, better than what we’d been using so far) bed out of two folded blankets underneath, a third pulled over him and two pillows - one under his head, and one under his legs, keeping them elevated, like Mitchell had uncaringly advised. He finally seemed to tire out, ignoring the pain, and was out by the time Lucian came back. By then Heather’s idea of a 10-minute rest had double as well.

    “Let’s get Sierra and Mitchell inside as well,” Lucian suggested, and waking up the couple gently, led them to the other tent. The rest of us wanted to stay near Jordan.

    “Alex,” Heather said sleepily. “Do you think you can tell us when it’s 11:30? We should probably get going by that point.”

    I noticed how she’d managed to somehow change 10 minutes to an hour without thinking about it, and I replied, “Sure.” I wasn’t actually sure I could stay awake that long, for reasons I don’t know. We’d been traveling like this for days, and now I’d had even a full-night’s sleep ending only about four hours ago, and I felt more tired than anytime before on the quest. Laying down next to Jordan trying to rest without going to sleep, I failed within 30 seconds, thinking about 11:30 being over 30 sleepless minutes away.

    * * *
    Half an hour was nowhere near enough time to dream of Apollo, Artemis, Kronos or Heather. And better yet, it was nowhere near enough time to make me feel any less drowsy when I awoke.

    In fact, waking up was not a very pleasant experience at all. One moment I could almost feel myself drifting into a deeper sleep, and the next . . .

    There weren’t exactly colors, but there was definitely some sort of “force” of red. My brain shot images of brightly flashing lights the color of blood across my sleeping eyes, and a voice that was like three of myself speaking at once, mixed with the hollowness that came from my father’s, shouting, whispering, and talking, all at the same time. They spoke, 11:30, 11:30, 11:30, over and over again for what seemed like ages, but I knew that I was awake in less than a second.

    I found myself sitting up straight, and covered in cold sweat. No one else seemed to be at all conscious, and I sat for a moment, bewildered by what had just happened. After a few mystified seconds, I remembered why I’d woken up at 11:30, which my waking body clock confirmed was the time. I found Heather, who had laid down on the opposite, left, side of the tent. Lucian was laying perpendicular to both of us, along the lining of the tent door. Jordan was between Heather and I, forcing me to get up onto my knees and stretch across him to wake Heather. I nudged her softly, and her demigod reflexes kicked in, waking her as fast as I had.

    “It’s 11:30,” I said, and she looked at me, with crusty sleep already forming in the corner of her eye. She looked just as tired as I felt.

    “Okay,” she said.

    It took us only about 5 minutes to rouse up the rest of the quest members. Heather and I started talking about travel plans, while everyone else was at work taking down the tents. We’d decided to go straight up, trying to avoid the coastline, remembering our experience with Eurus, but then Lucian came up to us.

    “Hey, guys,” he said, like he felt nervous to speak to us. “I know it’s out of the way, and I heard you guys saying you wanted to avoid the coastline . . . but . . .”

    “But what?” I said.

    “If you think we should, we’ll do it,” Heather said kindly.

    “It’s not that I think we should . . .” Lucian paused again. “But . . . here. Let me show you.”

    He pulled his wooden wand from his pocket, and with a gentle flick and a silent murmur, the tip glowed a color the cross between white, blue, and silver. Then, protruding from the wand, grew a small turquoise bubble. The orb expanded and expanded, and shapes began to darken, forming images that looked like . . . a map. It seemed to take a while, but I felt only a little more than a second pass.

    “That is awesome,” I said, entranced by the perfectly drawn globe of light. It turned slowly, like it was projecting an image shot from some object in the Earth’s orbit that didn’t revolve, showing the world’s rotation.

    “Thanks,” he said, more paying attention to Heather’s reaction.

    He slid his finger over to a part of North America just about an inch above where we supposedly were. Tapping the area, it grew in size until all we could see was the diagonal western coast of Canada, and a large wedge-shaped island off to the side. Lucian held his finger on the space between the mainland and the island for a second, and two black words appeared, their letters glimmering despite being the color of darkness.

    HECATE STRAIT

    “That’s where I want to go,” Lucian said, and I could hear in his voice the longing to see the place named for his mother. He looked at Heather, and she froze.

    “I . . . I don’t know, Lucian,” she said. “On one side, not only would it be a nice chance for you to experience some ‘family honor,’ but it’d cut some time off our commute. On the other hand, though, if you wanted to see it, we’d be traveling through it normally, meaning that without the portal, we’d be going slower than the other way. We’ve also had some really bad experiences with water, may I remind you.”

    “I know, you guys facing Eurus,” Lucian began. “And Python near the Great Salt Lake, and that’s just this quest, let alone every other. But.” Lucian began to tear up a little, and I assumed it was mainly because he was so tired. “Your father is Hermes. He’s the messenger of the gods. His caduceus is the symbol of medical science. And his winged shoes are signs for sports and all athletic activities.”

    He turned to me. “And you, Alex, Kronos, despite being evil, is the entire symbol for Father Time. His scythe is represented by the Grim Reaper, a foul use of Kronos’ name, but, no offense, he is a foul person! Plus, the scythe is also used for Kronos’ other sphere, agriculture.”

    Then, looking between us both, he finished, “Both of your parents appear in works of art, movies, books, even daily life. Hecate . . . she has nothing. I’ve always dreamed of going to a place and, though it sounds stupid, buying a shirt that says Hecate on it. Now I have the chance to do it with all the people I love.”

    He’d played the emotional appeal, and he’d won us both over.

    “Okay,” Heather said, and the plan was officially set.

    By 11:50, we were on our way.

    * * *
    We arrived at a place called the Queen Charlotte Sound by 1:00, and we were all ready for another long rest. Unfortunately, we’d taken up half of our daylight time, and we were about to take an eight hour long ferry ride north to Ketchikan, Alaska - meaning an international border. We realized this only after we’d paid for tickets, meaning we’d somehow have to find an “Escort” to get us through customs. We also couldn’t change our minds and warp away from the boat terminal after paying because the boat legally couldn’t leave until all passengers were on board, due to the fact that you also couldn’t exit the terminal after going through the ticket counter, so passengers would know when their boat was ready no matter what. That left us with two options. One, when customs came, we’d have to manage to make it seem like we’d gone through without actually having to, as they could scan the ticket data and learn that six kids had crossed the border illegally. No one wanted to attempt that. Our second option, however, betrayed a rule that we’d been told by our parents over and over again, as well as a warning given by Apollo and Artemis. We take a ride with a stranger, and to the second point, an immortal stranger.

    He’d come up to us only moments after we’d begun to think of ways to avoid customs. He reminded me very much of the Acephali that Heather, Lucian and I had met at Six Flags, and his smell seemed similar as well - old man. And I mean old man. Like, over 2,000 year old man.

    His hair was scraggly and smoky gray, with eyes both cold and friendly, like snow. His teeth, which were about as yellow as those of a seven-year-old kid who refuses to brush, were bent into a forced smile, like he hadn’t given anyone a grin since the Trojan War. To top off everything, he had that aura of power and strength, the spirit of a god.

    He put his hand on Mitchell’s shoulder, but quickly retracted it when the Apollo demigod whipped out an arrow - no bow, but the point looked sharp enough to be a weapon without it.

    The immortal was clearly taken aback, but smiled and kindly said, “Would you mind lowering that arrow, boy?”

    Mitchell lowered it, but kept it in hand. I felt my necklace, and a feeling of relief washed over me. At least, I had my own spear to defend myself.

    “Who are you?” Lucian said promptly, and I saw again how he’d semi-replaced Mitchell as the leader of the quest. “You saw the arrow, so you’re some kind of Greek figure. I know that much, so don’t try to play the fool!”

    The immortal seemed almost proud of Lucian for saying something so brave, and chuckled. “I am a Greek figure,” he said, and gained a serious expression. “And I know that you six may have beaten Aether, but that’s no reason to get so arrogant.”

    He rubbed his fist on his black suit, to show he was no slob, despite his hairstyle and his teeth. “Aether’s a fool. Besides, I’m simply a gift from your mother.”

    Lucian looked surprised, but he remained steadfast. “Oh really?” he said, disbelievingly. “Well why did she send you then. And you never said your name.”

    “Sorry about that, then. I’m Tmolus, King of Lydia and Oread of my namesake summit, Mt. Tmolus. Son of Gaia, and personal friend of Apollo and Artemis. For that reason, and the heart-warming story for your quest to get a t-shirt with your mother’s name on it . . .” Lucian blushed, trying to hide it, but failed. “Hecate sent me to aid you on this quest. You’ll find that I’ve been blessed with a certain gift, the ability to manipulate air like your friend here, the daughter of Hermes. However, my blessing allows for the air around you to seem to slow down. Your wish is to see the entire Hecate Strait, yet you also want to reach Kate’s Needle by Sundown. I can do that. I can make it so that you see everything as if traveling at normal speeds, whilst also reaching the northern end of the strait before 5:00. That’s half of the time of the other ferries, correct?”

    No one said anything about what he’d told us, especially Lucian, who was smiling at the though of his mother hearing what he’d said. I also felt a little awkward for him. For the first time I realized that no matter what kind of parents a kid had, immortal or not, they embarrassed their kids. Hecate was probably off telling the other Olympians about how sweet her son was.

    I was honestly about to say, “No,” remembering what had happened the last time we’d taken a ride from one of the Olympian’s “gifts.” Not only had Heather, Jordan and I been trapped on an evil television show, but one of the most ancient, prettiest creatures of Greek Mythology was doomed to the pits of Tartarus for only the gods know how long. However, Sierra, who hadn’t been with us for that, said, “Okay. We’ll go with you.”

    No one was willing to speak up in protest, so with a nod from Tmolus, he led us to his boat.

    * * *
    As worried as I was that something would go horribly wrong, everything went smoothly for the first two hours. It was incredible - Heather confirmed that we had actually made it halfway through the approximately 300 mile long journey from Queen Charlotte Sound to the northern port in Ketchikan in half the time it should’ve taken. We were going 75 mph, but we could see everything around us like we were hardly moving at all. It was like being shot full of adrenaline - our eyes were capturing more images than normal, making it seem like time had slowed down.

    Tmolus’ boat was quite surprising, despite the fact that we’d been told he was a king. It was a triple decker ferry, with two levels devoted to housing and luxuries, like a cafeteria, a lounge, and a very odd 3 dimensional map of the entire Earth, with all the mountains dotted with a golden coating. Tmolus said he could use the map to “speak to the mountains,” whatever that meant. There was a separate room for all six of us on the bottom floor, though Jordan was taken to the small infirmary that was handled by two nurses Tmolus had hired on the top deck, next to the bridge and Tmolus’ quarters. It seemed much less of a ferryboat than a cruise ship. The size of the boat didn’t seem to be able to logically contain everything held inside it, another “blessing” given to Tmolus from Hecate. The side of the boat, on a thick strip of gold paint running around the top third of the hull, were the words The Magic Mariner, written in a Curly-Q font.

    Lucian spent the entire time up on deck, watching the scenery of the mainland coastline go by in slow motion. I tried to spend as much time as I could up there with him, and so did Heather, but we were both too tired to stay long. Retiring to our beds, I tried not to think about the alarm my body had made at 11:30. I was worried that if I thought too much about a time, it would happen again.

    Luckily, or unluckily, though, I didn’t get much of a chance to sleep. There was a small knocking on my wooden door that I’d shut only moments before crawling into the bed that took up the majority of the mahogany room, and I whispered, in a weak voice, “Come in.”

    The doorknob turned and Heather poked her head in. I pulled the covers off of myself, and seeing that I was fully dressed as I slid off the side of the bed to stand, Heather came in, shutting the door quietly behind her.

    “What’s up?” I said.

    She sat down on the corner of my bed, and I sat back down too, feeling stupid for having stood up for five seconds just to sit again.

    “I can’t help thinking about . . . Jordan,” she whispered, surprising me.

    “Me either,” I replied, which was true. I felt sick just thinking about the injuries he’d gotten, and especially about the fact that I was now sitting on a comfortable bed while he was two stories above me, alone, and sitting in pain. “I can’t stop worrying about him. I don’t know how he’s going to find some way to walk the rest of the quest-”

    “That’s not what I mean,” Heather interrupted. “Ever since Lucian came . . . well, I think we were both so happy to see him alive that we . . . well, kind of ignored Jordan.”

    It was true.

    “Of course we didn’t do it on purpose. But look,” she said, and sighed. “I’ve been at Camp Half-Blood for a long time. And in that time, I’ve never seen anyone pay any attention to Jordan at all. Because his brother is Xavier, and Xavier was part of the last Olympian war . . . on the other side . . . the whole Hades Cabin was treated badly. You’re the only real friend Jordan has. Even I’m not really as good of a friend to him as you are.”

    I didn’t say anything for a long time. Guilt was swelling up inside me like my body was a bath tub that drained backwards, pouring bad feelings and regret through my heart and mind.

    “I’m going to go see Jordan, I think-”

    “I’ll come too,” I said quickly. Heather smiled, and we started for the door.

    We passed Lucian on our way up, but he didn’t even turn his head, happy from being in one the few places dedicated to his mother. Heather and I reached the small infirmary after only a little bit of searching on the top floor. There seemed to be a lot more doors than the last time I’d been there.

    When we found Jordan’s room, both nurses, a man and a woman, both dressed all in white like the walls around them, were tending to his knees. The man was applying a golden liquid, probably nectar, to Jordan’s right leg with a cotton swab. The woman was spoon feeding Jordan soup that was bright red, eerily similar to the color of blood.

    “Alex?” he said timidly. “Heather? Is that you guys?”

    The two nurses stood up straight and turned to face us. Shaking both my hand and Heather’s, they introduced themselves as Calvin and Caitlin Moresby, twin Oreads (Which they told us were a form of nymph bonded to various mountains) from Mt. Moresby of the Queen Charlotte Mountains, the mountain range that made up most of the island that made the Hecate Strait with the mainland. They said that as nature spirits, like dryads and naiads, they had powerful healing abilities. They both had that aura of power that gods and Tmolus had, but theirs was far less effective at enclosing my mind in darkness and fear.

    So far they’d pretty much numbed up Jordan’s knees, using a special form of nectar that also put the patient to sleep, or at least into a sleep-like trance. This was proven by Jordan’s undecipherable mumbling and constant need to poke me, to make sure I was really there, not just in a dream.

    Heather and I stayed in the infirmary, getting to sleep in the beds next to Jordan, until 4:45. At that point, Mitchell and Sierra came up to find Jordan, only to discover that Heather and I had been getting the royal treatment. Helping Jordan to walk, and also getting him to wake up a little more, the four of us slowly made our way down to Lucian, who was talking with Tmolus near the bow of the ferry. Sure enough, the southern tip of Alaska was starting to appear, a blurry combination of green, blue, yellow and red, from the already setting sun. We had approximately an hour before the sun set completely, and we still had a more than 150 mile trip north to Kate’s Needle.

    “Perhaps I could assist you all once more today, before my blessings fade?” Tmolus said. “Not only can I manipulate air, without tiring,” he added in Heather’s direction, something I found surprisingly like an insult for someone who was supposed to be a god-given gift (Literally). “But, as an Oread, I have power over the land as well. I can get us to Kate’s Needle, let’s see . . . we’re fifteen minutes from land? Then we’ll be there in less than twenty minutes.” He smiled proudly.

    “You can really do that?” Mitchell said, the loudest thing I’d heard him say in days. “That’s going like . . . 1,800 miles per hour!”

    “Quality math skills, I must say. And yes, I can get you there that fast.”

    I, still surprised from what Tmolus had said to Heather, said nothing. But, Lucian said, “We’d really appreciate.”

    “It would be my pleasure, Lucian.”

    “Wait,” I said, thinking about something Tmolus had said. “Before your powers wear off today? You can help us once more today? How long are you supposed to stay with us?”

    “Well, I assumed you’d guess,” Tmolus answered, jokingly. “Hecate asked me to guide you through your quest.”

    Everyone was surprised by this, even Jordan, who was still barely conscious. “Whole . . . time?” he said dreamily.

    “That’s great!” Sierra said quickly.

    “We could use the guidance of someone Greek,” Lucian said logically.

    I didn’t argue, though it still felt strange that only earlier today Tmolus had asked if he could help us, and now he’d invited himself along for a trip to Mt. McKinley.

    Before I could think too much on it though, we were passing through a proportionally narrow strip of water at speeds that finally looked to fit how fast we were really going. By 4:57, we were off the boat, which disappeared suddenly, and in the Ketchikan ferry port.

    Just as we were about to leave, I remembered what Lucian had said earlier and pulled everyone over into a small store near the outside gates of the boat terminal. Five minutes later, we were traveling at 1,800 miles per hour, as Lucian tried out his brand new shirt, which read:

    Hecate Strait
    The Wizard Waterway


    * * *
    Last edited by AlexMonroe; 28th March 2012 at 10:51 PM.

  18. #18
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    Oct 2011
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    Just as Tmolus had said, we arrived at Kate’s Needle about five minutes after we came ashore. Seeing as how The Magic Mariner was indeed a magic boat, Tmolus could summon it at will, and by 5:30, we’d eaten a full dinner of salmon and traditional Greek baklava for desert, all of it having been either caught or cooked magically in the kitchen aboard the ferryboat that was now lying on top of a Canadian mountain. There was no need for the tents we’d grown so used to; we still had our own private rooms on the ferry. Calvin and Caitlin, despite having a very wide range of travel around Mt. Moresby, couldn’t accompany us further north than Ketchikan, so we said goodbyes and took caring for Jordan into our own hands. Tmolus “listened” to the mountain for signs of earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, apparently something very normal for him, before advising us all to head off to bed. I still felt unnervingly tired, so I hoped a good night’s rest would help. However, Heather and Lucian remained outside talking, so I came over to see what the conversation was about.

    “Alex,” Lucian said, anxiously. “Look up.”

    I did, puzzled, and saw a bright streak of light, a shooting star, rocket through the obsidian sky.

    “How did you time that?” I asked, amazed that Lucian had gotten me to look up at exactly the right time.

    “He didn’t time it, Alex,” Heather answered, with a grim look on her face. “Keep looking up.”

    I did, but for almost a minute, nothing happened. Then, finally, two more shooting stars set off in the same direction. Twenty seconds later, another went firing off the same way.

    “Whoa,” I mumbled, disbelievingly. “That’s definitely not natural, is it?”

    “No,” Lucian confirmed.

    “But it gets worse,” Heather added. “See how they’re all headed in one direction?”

    “Yeah?”

    “That direction is northwest.”

    I stopped looking up after seeing yet another streak of light shoot off as soon as Heather had said ‘northwest.’

    “Northwest? As in-”

    “Towards Mt. McKinley?” Heather finished, gravely.

    “Yeah,” Lucian replied.

    “Oh.” I couldn’t think of what to say. If those shooting stars, or comets, or whatever they were had been headed to Mt. McKinley . . . well, a whole bunch of bad things could be happening.

    “They’re not shooting stars or comets,” Lucian said, having read my mind again.

    “You think?” Heather questioned. “What then, Atlas?”

    “An Atlas?” I was ignored.

    “Astraeus.”

    “Oh,” Heather said, sounding even more disturbed than before. “That’s bad. Are you sure?”

    “I don’t know.”

    “What’s Astraeus?”

    “Well, it’s the most likely possibility.”

    “What’s Astraeus?”
    “What if it’s another constellation being born? Like Laelaps.”

    “It could be, but it’s unlikely. They failed with that before, they wouldn’t try again.”

    “It’s possible though.”

    “Maybe.”

    “Guys!” I yelled, fed up with not being heard.

    “What?” Lucian said, a little irritated.

    “What’s Astraeus? What are you talking about?”

    “Ugh,” Lucian said, annoyed, but trying not to be.

    Luckily, the kind Heather answered without the agitated grunt. “Astraeus is the Titan of stars and astrology. We think maybe he’s helping whatever’s happening at Mt. McKinley. He might be spying on us through the stars, and when they come back to tell him what’s happening, they look like comets.”

    “Oh,” I said, unable to think of anything else to react with.

    “And if that’s true,” Lucian continued. “Than the bad guys, the ones who took Apollo and Artemis, will know where we are, who we are, and what our plans are.”

    “Oh,” I said again.

    “Wait, there’s more,” Heather said, her voice shaking. “If Astraeus is keeping watch on us, then . . .”

    Heather bit her lip and looked around, expecting something to hear what she was saying.

    “Freeze time,” she whispered, her eyes locked on the night sky. A comet shot northwest.

    “What does Astraeus have to do with freezing time?” I asked, confused.

    “No,” she said, slowly lowering her gaze until she met mine. “You. You freeze time.”

    “Yeah, I do.”

    Lucian rolled his eyes. “No, she’s saying to freeze time, as in, do it [I]now.”/[I]

    “Oh,” I said, feeling stupid. I didn’t think someone could misunderstand something as clear as that outside of television. “Okay.”

    “But leave Lucian and I . . . uh . . . awake,” she said, and I nodded. I imagined the slight wind around us suddenly halting, the sounds and motion of the leaves in the trees stopped, as if the world had completely stopped turning (Which, I’m not sure, but may actually be what happens).

    Then everything froze, except my two friends.

    “Why did I do that?” I asked, a slight tugging in my gut growing stronger with every second. Or at least, what a second would have been, had time been passing.

    “Now they shouldn’t be able to hear us,” Lucian answered, and sure enough, I looked up, and found a bright streak of white light seemingly glued to the blackness of the atmosphere, going nowhere and not even trying.

    “So what were you saying? About Astraeus?” I recalled.

    “Right,” Heather said, inhaling and exhaling with effort. “If Astraeus can keep watch over us, then everything we’re going might be completely pointless. They might find out when we’re a minute away from them, and then, Zap! they’re out of there, halfway to Argentina, if they have even half the power of a travel god. There’s no way we can fool them. No way we can avoid them, if they come for us.”

    “Pretty much, we die, no matter what,” Lucian summed up.

    “Oh,” I said, once again feeling quite stupid.

    * * *
    Unfortunately, the blessing of the gods only supported Tmolus the first night he stayed with us, leaving Heather to do all the dirty work for the first few hours of the morning. Not having summoned any supplies from oblivion last night, we were able to get on our way by 7:36, waiting only for Tmolus to listen to the ground again and for the six of us demigods to finish off the salmon we’d eaten last night. Our progress seemed slightly faster, as if the gods’ gift still barely lingered around Tmolus’, but the long walk northwest to Mount Logan was taxing, especially on Heather and Jordan. Lucian and I held him up by our shoulders, and Sierra helped Heather, Mitchell still being trapped in a state of shock and depression. Lucian told me, despite our realization that the Titans could hear what we said, that it was strange to see a camper so sad over the loss of a brother or sister that they’d hardly ever spent any time with. Not that demigods were supposed to be heartless, but they usually tried to hide the darker side of their emotions, especially when leading a quest.

    That was when I started thinking about having a half-brother or sister. Of course I knew that being a son of Kronos made me siblings with Chiron . . . but that’s not really what I mean. Heather and Lucian had agreed it was unheard of for a titan to have a half-blood child. They supposedly considered themselves too powerful and majestic for mortals. But if I had been born . . . could it be possible there were others? Could I come home to a newly-built Kronos cabin filled to the brim with unknown brothers and sisters?

    “I think we should stop here for now,” Lucian suggested, clearly more sore on his left side than his right, due to carrying Jordan with that arm. In fact, he even had to give his left shoulder a little massage-like rub to restore sensation.

    “I agree,” Tmolus said, despite the fact that he’d remained independent from the rest of us for the hike. “We’re just West of Mount Hill, one of my personal favorite mountains in this area, and not just because of the redundant name.”

    Within a few minutes Heather had brought us to the peak of Mount Hill, and Tmolus insisted on getting a move on as quickly as possible. We didn’t summon any supplies, but we did snack on a small bag of Doritos Lucian had bought when we’d gotten his shirt. Despite Tmolus’ repetitive reminders to make haste, he knew he couldn’t get us to travel without Heather, and she needed a long rest before she could get going again. Since none of us felt privacy when we spoke thanks to Astraeus, we all just sat on a cold, rocky ground while Tmolus retired to listening to the mountain. Half an hour later, Heather was feeling good enough to keep going.

    “So, about how far are we from Mount Logan?” I asked, just eleven minutes after we departed. Despite the rest we’d all had, none of us had enough energy to sustain a conversation.

    “Well . . .” Heather said, between short breaths. “We’re around . . . 225 miles . . . southeast of it . . . now. I’d say maybe . . . 3 hours? Maybe . . . maybe longer . . . I’m already getting tired . . . again . . .”

    “Here, I got you.” I pulled her arm over my shoulder, leaving Lucian to support Jordan by himself. Sierra and Mitchell quietly spoke to one another, holding hands. I hoped that she’d say something to cheer him up, because as much as I disliked the guy, it was definitely depressing to have a leader who just slumped along with a grim look on his face, not to mention the hollow eyes. The one time he’d looked my directly since the Great Salt Lake, his usually orangey-hazel eyes were bloodshot, and looked a murky brown color. I wondered if being a child of a light god made parts of you change color with your emotions.

    “Thanks,” she whispered, and went quiet. I heard her quiet breaths now, though, deep and long. Due to the silence, I started thinking about how different this Heather was from the one I’d known just a few weeks ago. Old Heather could run several miles without breaking a sweat, or even shredding up the bottom of her jeans at all.

    That was why! Finally, I knew why she’d always loved running so much, and why she was so good at it. The whole time, she’d just been using her travel magic to get her going with half the effort. But now, after days of pushing herself to the limit, I doubt she could have run more than a few yards without tiring.

    Wow, I thought. I got all that from a few of her exhausted breaths.

    Then, for the first time in ages, I started thinking about all the weird things I’d seen. My mom, my real mom, floating off the side of Mt. McKinley. Now that I knew I was a demigod, could that be explained? How? Was she a demigod? A child of Zeus? I didn’t have the answers. For once I wished that Lucian could hear my thoughts, so he could help me discover the truth.

    Unless . . . it made sense. When we’d been stuck above the Seattle Space Needle, I’d slowed the air particles under our feet, and we’d fallen from the sky chamber. I’d also seen that freezing the air made a solid. Could I have frozen the air underneath my mother? Had a burst of infantile magical time-stopping energy been released when my mom had started falling from the mountain? Could it really have caught her?

    If that had been what had happened, that could also have explained what had happened three days before my birthday. I’d kicked the ball almost out of the kickball boundaries when playing with Lucian, and it had bounced off of the air and into the playing field. Lucian had smiled at me. Could he have known it was a clue to my being a son of Kronos? But how could someone guess that I was the only half-mortal half-titan child in existence?

    “Hey, Alex.”

    Lucian’s voice snapped me back into reality.

    “Yeah?” He walked over to me, and I didn’t even realize that he’d left Jordan on his own until a few moments later.

    “I’ve got a solution for our problems.”

    I gave him a very skeptical look, and he smiled. “Okay, not all of our problems. But look,” he said, and pointed behind him, at the blurry view of the seaside to our left. Three feet above the ground hovered Jordan, completely flat, as if he were lying on an invisible mattress.

    “What the . . .” I said, then noticed Lucian’s wand in his non-pointing hand. Looking back at my friend, I saw a faint violet glow underneath him.

    “That spell would’ve been useful a while ago.”

    We both chuckled, and it felt good to laugh. Telling Heather what Lucian was doing as he conjured up the spell, she nodded, mouthed a word of thanks to the both of us, and finally closed her eyes as she was pulled off the ground. I didn’t know if her magic would last while she slept, but I knew she needed rest no matter what. In fact, I realized I’d spent almost a half hour thinking to myself about my friends and all the mysterious things I’d managed to explain.

    Lucian and I started talking for a while, not about anything important in particular, but it was just nice to have a pleasant conversation with an old friend. Mitchell and Sierra hung back, as they had been before, and Tmolus was even further back, reading a book as if he didn’t want to think about the rest of us. Every so often, Lucian and I would check Jordan and Heather to see if they were feeling worse, or if they had thought of anything important.

    “So, how come you can hold up Heather and Jordan without even needing the wand in your hand?” I questioned, after thinking about it for a few minutes.

    “Well, Hecatian Magic is different from other kinds of magic,” Lucian replied, clearly knowledgeable on the subject. “With other magic, you’re constantly sustaining your spell or curse, or whatever it is. But for children of Hecate and my mother herself, we just create something and then . . . poof! It’s there. We don’t need to keep it supplied. It just remains frozen in whatever command we gave it.”

    “Huh,” I said. “I wish I could freeze time that way, instead of having to keep it frozen.”

    After a while, Jordan grew tired of sleeping, and joined our conversation. I was really glad to see he was feeling better, despite the annoyingly slowly healing cuts under his knees. Whatever medicine Calvin and Caitlin had given him was definitely working its magic, literally. Just two days ago, I might have thrown up just thinking about his bloody gashes that encircled his legs. The sickly green, wrinkled skin that encircled the encircling wound. And of course the sour odor encircling the air around the encircled encircling wound.

    On a less encircling note, it was also good to be talking to him again. Like Heather had said, we’d kind of been ignoring him. After years of being in the Hades cabin with a bully like Xavier for a big brother, he’d finally found friends in us, only to be quickly replaced by our old friend. I’m personally not one of those people who is always feeling like an outcast, having many friends who actually find my odd, demigod-based behavior entertaining. However, I can sympathize with people who are like that, and I know that it wouldn’t feel great to be in Jordan’s position right now.

    “So how long have you guys known each other?” Jordan asked us, and for a fraction of a second, I felt these guilty feelings rise up, like Jordan was feeling like a third wheel. Then I realized it was just a simple question, and I felt slightly embarrassed.

    “4th Grade,” Lucian said. “Three years ago.”

    “Yeah,” I said, regaining focus on the actual question. “Him and Heather came to my school at the same time.”

    “We were looking for a half-blood. We’d been told by a satyr that there was one there. Strangely, he said it wasn’t a major godly parent.”

    Then he looked at me. “He couldn’t have been more wrong.”

    “Wait a minute,” I said, confused. “There was a satyr at school?”

    “Yeah, most of the time, satyrs are the ones who bring in new demigods.”

    “Goat people?”

    “Technically, yeah.”

    “That’s how I was discovered,” Jordan said. “When I was only seven. A satyress, a female satyr, named Lilly found me. Usually a demigod isn’t discovered until they turn thirteen, because that’s when they start to realize their own powers, but being a child of a major god, Hades, made it pretty clear.”

    “Like the aura Aether had. And Eurus, and Pegasus.”

    “Right, the more powerful a being is, the stronger their aura,” Lucian finished.

    “Okay, getting back to what we were talking about. Why did the satyr, whoever it was, leave?”

    “Well, you see, satyrs have a much stronger gift for finding demigods than other half-bloods. They can literally smell them.”

    I sniffed my underarms. They smelled like normal teenage boy to me.

    “Like I was saying, demigods can’t smell it.”

    “Oh.”

    “So once a satyr has discovered a demigod, unless they’re a really powerful demigod and will attract a lot of monsters, so they need protection, other half-bloods come to bring them to Camp Half-Blood.”

    “So why did you guys take so long to bring me to camp? And if I’m so powerful, why didn’t I attract a lot of monsters, like you said?”

    “Well, we’re not sure about the second part,” Lucian admitted.

    “Maybe since you’re a titanic demigod, your aura even scared them away,” Jordan added, jokingly.

    “It’s actually a reasonable possibility,” Lucian confirmed. “But as to why we took so long, it was because you seemed so . . . normal. Now I know all the weird stories you have about your past, and it’s obvious. But you kept most of that stuff to yourself. We didn’t even know for sure if you were the demigod until the kickball incident.”

    I couldn’t help but smile.

    “Finally, my mom asked why we were taking so long to return one demigod to Camp Half-Blood. When I told her, she decided to come, because gods can tell a half-blood by scent as well. So, she came as a teacher,” continued Lucian

    “Why was she willing to help you get one demigod?”

    “Well, you see . . .” Lucian started to look down awkwardly, and I took a moment to notice the scenery. There was still a shining ocean to our left, but on our right, there was mostly flatlands, and some light snow and frost on the occasional tree.

    “In the last demigod war,” Lucian picked up, “my mom kind of . . . sided with the Titans.”

    I gulped. Could the teacher who was always so nice to me really have been some evil soldier against the gods?”

    “That’s exactly it,” Lucian said, reading my mind.

    “Stop doing that!” I said, jokingly angry.

    “My mom wasn’t evil. She even hated the Titans. But . . . she was in it as a caring mother.”

    Well, I was officially confused.

    “She was one of the minor gods who hated that their children were stuck eternally in the Hermes Cabin. She wanted proper respect for her kids, as she didn’t think it was fair for them to be neglected for being minor godlings.”

    “Oh.”

    “Alex?” a voice with surprising strength said. “Lucian? Jordan?”

    We all turned to Heather, and saw her sitting up on her air mattress. Her literal air mattress.

    “Yeah?” I said in unison with Lucian.

    “What time is it?”

    “Hour eleven, fifty-two minutes, thirty-six seconds,” I said automatically. “Sorry, body clock.”

    “Works better than a homemade sun dial,” Heather decided, then yawned, stretching her arms in a wide arc. She rubbed her eyes, and when she moved her arms away, they sparkled in the light reflected off of the waves to the west.

    “How are you feeling?” Lucian asked.

    “Rested,” she said, and yawned again. “Wait a minute,” she said, her tone now serious. “It it’s almost noon, we’ve been traveling for like two hours?”

    “One hour, forty-nine minutes, sixteen seconds.” I grunted loudly.

    “Hey, a new stopwatch feature!” Jordan said excitedly. “Hey, Alex’s body clock, how long has it been since Heather, Alex, and I left Camp Half-Blood?”

    I was about to say “I really doubt it knows that much,” but then . . .

    “Seven days, nineteen hours, thirty-eight minutes, twenty seconds.”

    “Wow,” Jordan said in awe.

    “That really is cool,” Heather agreed, and I couldn’t help but smile then.

    “How far away are we?” I asked her in reply, hoping she’d spill the answer like a machine as well. But instead, she took a moment to think about it, then said . . .

    “75 miles or so. We’re going at around 50 mph, so it’ll take another hour and a half. But still, I’m amazed at how much easier this is when I’ve got something to rest on. Thanks, really, Lucian.”

    He nodded, trying to hold back a serious grin.

    “An hour and a half, hmm?” Tmolus said, and I realized I’d almost completely forgotten he was there.

    “Yeah,” Lucian said.

    Tmolus turn, and snapped his fingers. Mitchell and Sierra looked up.

    “All of you, it’s time for a break. I may be immortal, but I’ve got about as much strength to fight hunger as half a normal human. It’s time for lunch.”

    * * *
    Exactly twelve minutes later, we’d summoned The Magic Mariner to the middle of nowhere. Unless you count the Pacific Ocean, then it was the edge of nowhere leading to a watery chasm of nowhere. The boat simply vaporized out of the sea, and Tmolus pulled it to shore. Once the bow had been grounded, we climbed aboard, grabbing any food left in the kitchen. There were a few fruits and slices of bread, some bottled water in the refrigerator, and a dozen silver packets simply labeled, Flavor.

    “What does it mean by flavor?” I asked Tmolus.

    “No idea. But I’d suggest you try it.”

    Shrugging, and hoping that this wasn’t some prank by the gods to poison us, I ripped off the top and found shiny gold powder inside. I poured some onto my tongue, and was instantly enchanted. The powder clearly was the magical substance the nymphs put into drinks at Camp Half-Blood. They tasted any way you wanted, just say the word. Having only announced the word “Flavor,” the powder was a mix of all fantastic tastes, combined into one. However, it was overpowering, and I had to take a big drink of water to get rid of the flavor. Pouring it into another bottle, I said, “Vanilla Shake.” After watching the golden powder turn white and mix with the water, I took a sip of the best milkshake I’d ever had.

    “It’s incredible!” I said, clearly more excited than everyone else.

    Then I had an idea. Once, when I was younger, my mom, being a flight attendant and constantly traveling the world, had gone on a trip to New Zealand, where she’d found a drink that would become my favorite of all time. G-Force. It was a green mix of mango and pineapple, my two favorite fruits. I’d only ever drinker one bottle, but it was the best thing I’d ever tasted. To this day, I recall the image of a mango eating a pineapple on the label, and the message that had been printed on the side: Want to know why this delicious mango and pineapple fruit drink is green? We wondered about that too.

    Ever since I’d tasted that drink, I’ve wanted more. Now was the perfect opportunity to try it, and if it worked, I could have it any time I ate at Camp Half-Blood. If I wasn’t kicked out of it for beating up two campers and running away without permission.

    Almost silently, I whispered, “G-Force.”

    Within three seconds, the water turned the strange green color, and I’d drunk almost the whole thing too.

    * * *
    We arrived at Mount Logan just past two o’clock in the afternoon. The Magic Mariner appeared on top of one of the snowy mountaintops, and we all huddled inside for warmth. Tmolus, however, insisted that he could use his power over mountains to harness the earth’s warmth and heat the ground. After about a half hour, the half-snow-covered rock was practically beach sand on a July day.

    All of us watched as shooting stars launched overhead, being careful about what we said. Tmolus insisted that it would have been impossible for the Titans to be listening to us, but we were all too cautious. He “listened” to the mountain as usual, checking for signs of earthquakes or nearby eruptions. And he calls us too cautious. Knowing that he can harness the earth’s power, he’d be able to either calm the quake or make a shelter anyway.

    By eight o’clock most of us were tired enough from the long day of walking, and we retired to our sleeping quarters. Lucian, Heather and I also showed Jordan to a room just next to mine, so if he needed anything for his knees, he could just knock on the wall and I’d come to his aid.

    When 8:36 rolled around, I was out.

    * * *
    As I’ve told you, I’d been having a lot of strange dreams of late, whether they were visions of my estranged father’s hideout, two kidnapped olympian gods in a misty chamber, or a glance at what a distant friend was up to. But that night, in the two brief hours I had to rest, came with a dream of an older version of myself, staring at five letters, etched in stone on the side of a sloped structure: MMXII. Somehow, without even really being in the moment, I knew this took place in the year 2021.

    It couldn’t have been possible though. I looked only one, maybe two years older. Unless . . . had I managed to control my powers over time to the extent of actually traveling into the future?

    Those were my last in-dream thoughts before being shaken awake with the force of a nuclear explosion.

    * * *
    My first out-of-dream thoughts were: Heather!

    Only after my panic started for my friend did I realize that it meant I too was in danger. And so were Lucian, Jordan, Mitchell, and Sierra. Finally, I jumped out of bed and bolted for the door. By the time I’d slammed the wooden board almost off of its hinges, it looked like everyone else had gotten out. Doors were open in every room. I panicked, thinking of Jordan struggling to get up with his practically useless legs, only to see that his door was open.

    Upon reaching the empty archway into Jordan’s room, I saw Lucian and Heather under each of his arms, dragging him forwards. They saw me, and all four of us froze for a moment, thinking the same thing: We all get out, or none of us do.

    I ran and grabbed Jordan’s legs, leaving him in a hammock-like position, but likely less comfortable. We charged out of the room and out of the hallway, as the semi-fancy chandeliers above us started dropping plastic crystals. The open doors started slamming on their hinges, deafening us. Dust flew up from all corners, and the carpet below us started ripping free. Lucian tripped, which caused us all to fall over. Just as Jordan bounced out of our hands, a chandelier came crashing down, and would have hit him fatally on the head, but Lucian shot a beam of light at it, causing the plastic beads to zoom down the corridor, smashing against the far wall.

    “Thanks,” Jordan said, barely audible over the rickety wood.

    “Weapons out, everybody,” I said, and ripped my necklace off, pressing the alpha and grabbing on to the expanding spear. Heather made her discus appear, and Jordan even pulled his pitchfork out of the dark oblivion. As the shaking became more violent, and more things started to fall as we slowly travelled across The Magic Mariner’s interior, we each smacked chandeliers, doors, and screws out of our way with our weapons. Heather, however, suffered a long but shallow cut on her knee from a loosened chip of wood that was sent flying, and I skinned my right knee bad, tripping over beads that had fallen from the ceiling. Finally, after what seemed like an hour of grueling movement, I kicked open the door to the outside, and the three of us carried Jordan down a flight of stairs. Mitchell and Sierra came to help us as we neared the bottom, but Tmolus was nowhere in sight. I hoped he was trying to conjure some earth-calming hex that could protect us all, but I suddenly became a little busy to think.

    “Run!” Lucian screamed, and we all dashed away, though I doubt any of us knew what he was talking about until we heard the impossible crash. After the boom shot forwards at us, I stole a glance, seeing the lights of the capsized Magic Mariner flicker and die out, the right side completely crushed, planks of wood littering the ground. The entire thing looked like one half of a lemon, bow and stern flattened on the ground. Glass shattered, flying at us from all angles. I was cut twice on my cheeks, and Sierra got an piece lodged in her left arm. Frantically Mitchell removed it, casting an immediately-healing spell on her, to stop the bleeding.

    As the ground continued to shake, with the added force of the shock wave from the capsizing, we all fell to the ground, and I curled into the fetal position. However, I let my hand reach out and grab Heather’s. I didn’t care if she loved, hated, or was completely confused by what I was doing, just needing to know she was okay. She squeezed my hand back, and I felt safer. In fact, I had a moment to think.

    My only thought was Stop.

    Sure enough, the sounds of crashing, the barrage of splinters and glass shards, and even the rumbling of the earth below us halted. Lucian, Heather, Jordan and I all looked up simultaneously, joined eventually by Mitchell and Sierra. I could feel the tugging in my gut already overpowering me.

    “Everyone, let’s get out of here, quickly, while I can hold this.”

    The five others followed as I ran downhill, until we came to a semi-flat area a little ways down from the snowy mountaintop. No glass or wood was to be found on the rocky soil, so I finally let go of time. Within a heartbeat, the sounds of the explosion returned, and my friends and I watched as Mount Logan erupted in shock waves, attempting to find the heroes who’d escaped.

    After just five more minutes of watching the destruction, the earth went silent, and The Magic Mariner shook no more. The mountain, despite trying to fight back, had lost the battle.

    Then, I processed everything. Tmolus had listened to the earth, learning if there would be an earthquake. He’d said nothing. Now, when disaster had struck, he had disappeared into the shadows. Now that the six of us were off the peak, the quaking had ceased.

    “Come on guys, let’s stay here for now,” I said, restraining from telling them all who had just tried to kill us all. At least, until morning.

    * * *

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Camp Half-Blood
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    36

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    18
    I Fight the Wrong Villain

    Tmolus failed to reappear by morning, leaving me more sure than ever that he was a traitor. Aided by the fact that I’d gotten less than a second of sleep after the earthquake due to aftershocks, I was ready to hunt down the immortal king and run him through with my spear. Unfortunately, more pressing matters were at hand.

    At first, I doubted that the others suspected what I did, despite its obviousness, but then Lucian clarified everything for us.

    “Alright. We’ve all come to the same conclusion, but I think it’s best if we just try to forget about it for now,” he said, drawing everybody’s attention. “Our quest is to find and rescue Apollo and Artemis, not take down anyone who double-crosses us.”

    There was a soft murmur of agreement, and the subject was instantly dropped. Mitchell, who seemed to have had some sense of reality shaken into him since last night, helped me take down the tents we’d pitched hastily. Heather collected the sleeping bags and tossed them into limbo, followed by the tents. For the first time since Olympia, she’d given us all a fresh pair of clothes to change into.

    “Trust me,” she explained. “If we’re going to try and face the Titans today, we should look presentable.”

    She was right. My shirt was torn from the wood and glass shards from last night, and covered in dust, mud, and dirt I’d been collecting over the past two days. My pants, which had originally gone down to my ankles, were cut from the knee down. My shoes were started to lose their soles, and the laces were so covered in spiky plants that I didn’t dare try to tie them with my hands. After a few minutes of poking with my spear to knock them loose, I just had Lucian magically tie them back up.

    Once we were all changed, Heather proved to have one more secret with her.

    “Oh thank the gods,” Lucian said. “Pancakes!”

    Jordan lit us a small fire and made a plate about a foot in diameter out of magically fused gravel. Once it had been cleaned on both sides, we all warmed up two of the hotcakes each, savoring the rich, fluffy texture of the actual breakfast food. I remembered the two breakfasts I’d had at Camp Half-Blood. I’d had pancakes both times, but I couldn’t believe that something that had tasted so normal then could be such a delicacy now. What would life be like when I returned to a three-course meal of steak, pizza, and hamburgers daily?

    It was 11:36 by the time we began traveling north. The wind was chilly, though I was grateful it was still late summer. I could only imagine what the temperature would be like if it was the middle of winter. Still, the occasional snow and hail would sting my skin. We all put on jackets Heather had packed, but our faces started to freeze. At one point, Jordan’s lips actually started to turn blue. There were snowflakes in all of our eyelashes, and frost collected under our chins.

    “H-How l-long unt-t-til th-there’s a p-p-place to s-stop?” I asked, shivering greatly. It almost felt like the snow was being created inside me.

    “Up ahead,” Heather said, and I was surprised to hear how normal she sounded. She barely even seemed to be could. “The Canadian-Alaskan border center. We’ll stop for a rest there.”

    I tried to nod, but I doubted she could see it through the heavy snowfall. I hoped she was right about the border being close, because I couldn’t see any kind of building at all. Everything was just a field of white, gray, and the occasional brown of a tree trunk.

    After a few more minutes, however, we came to an asphalt road that had clearly been salted. I began to see yellowish lights in the distance, and I yearned for the warmth we’d all find inside. I did not yearn for more travel north.

    I was horrified when I realized that we’d only been traveling for 20 minutes by the time we reached the border. 20 minutes! Could it really mean another hour in the frozen wasteland? How could I go for three more of what we’d just done?

    The border center was a long, plain terminal where cars and people were checked for illegal goods. Knowing they’d never let six unaccompanied, armed teenagers into a new country, Heather had to use the last of her energy to warp us directly into - I know, it’s bad - the girls’ room. We sent Sierra in to find the exact location so we could all get in without causing a scene, and finally made it inside right at noon. Once inside, the girls took turns leaving the bathroom to buy food and extra warm clothing. After we’d all put on several more layers of jackets, pants, socks, gloves, and hats, we had a quick lunch of a slice of pizza each from the food court. We left the border center at 12:52.

    I was scared that the next hour or so would be just as bad as the previous, but it went by in a flash. The new clothing we’d gotten completely wiped out the cold, and even made the walk more comfortable. Lucian once again conjured up "air mattresses" for Jordan and Heather, though since Mitchell had started tending to his knee once again, Jordan could walk for quite a while without too much pain.

    Before I even knew it, the time was 3:14 and Mt. McKinley was just a matter of minutes away.

    * * *
    I’ve never been the kind of person who is too embarrassed to say I’m scared. However, since I was in the presence of Heather, I didn’t really want to say exactly my pants-wetting degree of fear once the six of us were all looking up at the enormous mountain, over 20,00 vertical feet of jagged rock and ice. I knew that at the top somewhere was my father, another, unknown deity, and likely the two kidnapped gods. The worst thing was that the prophecy, which had somewhat escaped my mind for the past few days, spelled out almost sure failure for the mission.

    For one thing, it said “the leader must stay as debt to the betrayed.” Who had been betrayed? Or who would be? Either way, the leader would be trapped here. That meant Mitchell.

    “The deities shall return, but their replacements shall fade.” Who were the replacements? Chiron hadn’t mentioned anything about gods replacing Apollo and Artemis. Could it mean something completely different? Could the “deities” be the Titans, reclaiming the earth from the Olympians, who had replaced them?

    Then of course, there was the worst line. “Above the world, two of five shall die.” I didn’t even want to think about that.

    However, it posed a question. There were six of us, but the prophecy only spoke of five. Unless, we weren’t even reaching the final leg of our journey. Might someone be killed before we even reach the land “above the world?” Did that even mean the peak of Mt. McKinley?

    No matter what happened though, I knew it was time.

    “Okay guys,” I announced, trying to keep my voice from quivering too much in fear. “We’ve come this far, we’re not going to quit now. Let’s go.”

    At exactly 3:30 pm, September 29, 2011, I started up the side of Mt. McKinley, slowing the air under me to create an invisible staircase, feeling more like a leader than I ever had before. And I knew what would become of the leader.

    * * *
    It took just over an hour to reach the summit, which I found absolutely incredible. Lucian, Heather and I used our powers over travel magic and slowing the air to create an elevator-type form of transportation. We had to constantly adjust our position as the mountain sloped inwards, and when a loose rock or snow clump came crashing down on us. However, Jordan and Sierra managed to deflect most of the threats. Mitchell, having only a bow and six arrows to fight with, mainly stood guard for anyone else standing guard, waiting for us. The entire time was spent in an anxious silence, save for the ice-brining wind that could not be stopped. As we neared the peak, I felt a shortage of breath, and I realized that if we were going to be getting in any kind of fight while up here, passing out was a major threat.

    It was only when we reached the top that I realized something I’d already known. It was the snowy slope I’d been seeing, with the exact same marble white greek temple on the very top. The pelting of hail and hard snow was almost the same as I’d felt before, and I once again experienced the immense pressure of the air. Instinctively I looked down, and had the same wave of nausea pass over me as I realized how high up we were. But now, it wasn’t a dream. If anything happened here, I could actually fall to my death.

    Though I doubted the Titans would allow me to live for that long.

    “My . . . gods,” Heather said, and I knew she felt nauseas like I did, though she wasn’t sick from the height. Her eyes were locked onto the image of Aries, the ram, trampling onto a trojan warrior. Going along the arch continued the symbols of the zodiac, which I realized now fit perfectly into Kronos’s theme, time. It was time in the most horrific way, but still, it was a calendar.

    I really hoped that decoration style was not hereditary.

    The six of us stood for a moment, hovering 20,000 feet in the air, before Mitchell took the first step onto the icy rock.

    He slipped.

    “Mitchell!” I roared, only realizing later that I’d alerted the Titans to my presence. However, I didn’t care.

    I jumped too.

    “Lucian!” I screamed. “Catch us!”

    Pulling myself into a nose dive, I caught up to Mitchell and grabbed him by the chest. I suddenly felt a tight pull on my gut, but not like the one I experience when controlling time. It was a physical pain, like a noose catching a hanged man as he fell from the gallows.

    I looked up and saw a beam of bluish-silver light emerging from Lucian’s wand, wrapping itself around Mitchell and me.

    “Thanks,” I yelled, and then the fear returned.

    “Sure,” Lucian said, but he sure looked panicked enough. “I’ll bring you up now.”

    “Sounds like a plan.”

    Mitchell whimpered.

    After a few short moments of retracting the beam of light into the wand, the six of us were reunited. Heather, Lucian, and Jordan all gave me a hug. Sierra thanked me for saving Mitchell and helped him up, still in shock.

    “Guys,” I said, that having snapped some sense into me. “Whatever happens, I want you guys to know . . .”

    “We know,” Heather said for me, and I’d never appreciated her smile more.

    * * *
    I hadn’t thought about how I’d planned to walk through the zodiac arch, ready to meet my villainous father and try to save the captured Olympians. Luckily, I didn’t have to go alone. All six of us walked in, lead by a restored Mitchell, and found a pitch-black, cavernous hall. My eyes started to adjust to the darkness, and I began to make out a series of doors on the two sides of the hall, leading to rooms that could contain either flowers or a pit-and-the-pendulum-like torture room. Otherwise, the area was bare, except for the central throne, 10 feet high, that seemed to be made of marble, except . . . different. I couldn’t explain it until Lucian commented.

    “The throne . . . is it . . . solid?”

    The throne was, in fact, not solid. It shifted form, ever so slightly, in a way that made it look like it was still being created out of nothingness. The entire thing radiated a force like that of an immortal. Beside it were two other, simple chairs made of regular marble. However, they were still 10 feet tall.

    “Kronos . . .” I began, unable to find any words. “He’s gone.”

    For an impossible second, that I knew had to have been slowed by my father, everything was absolutely still.

    “Am I?” echoed the cold, raspy voice.

    Then, with me knowing that time had been frozen, despite my being frozen as well, the lights blared on, ignited by a green fire in the center of the hall, and three dozen or so heavily armed humans lined the perimeter of the temple.

    “Welcome home,” the voice boomed again, and with another flash of frozen time, the man that I knew could only be my father appeared.

    “Son.”

    With a blast the as strong as if the green hearth was burning explosives, all six of us were shot apart from one another, into the four corners as well as myself being thrown at Kronos, landing on my knees before him, and Sierra being blasted out of the zodiac arch. I was rock solid from fear, so immobile that I couldn’t even turn to see my friend falling to her death.

    But I knew, then, with horrific simplicity, that there were only five of us left.

    Only three would survive.

    “Take them away!” barked my father, his face calm and collect, but his eyes shimmering an evil silver. No, evil wasn’t even a strong enough word for it.

    Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my four other friends, also immobilized, dragged into four different rooms by four different guards.

    “And you.” Kronos finally turned to me, and I was forced to see all of him.

    From the neck down, he was a strong, muscular man, with a silver breastplate, silver gloves, and silver armored legs. His feet, which seemed to be small compared to the rest of his body, were covered in silver plating. His head, strong but slender, was protected on the top and sides by a silver helmet very similar to the one worn by Loki in Thor. I wasn’t even a superhero fan, but it was the first thing that came into my head. He even wore a similar cape, but his was a gleaming silver color.

    I was pretty sure this guy’s color theme was silver.

    His face, I was sure, would give me nightmares for years to come. The entrancing grey eyes that seemed to reach in and slice cleanly through your soul, and short, rounded nose and a smirk that revealed perfect teeth. Patches of grey hair came from below the rim of his helmet, but not like an old man’s. It was pure grey, like it had been made out of aluminum foil.

    He didn’t carry a weapon, but I doubted that meant he’d be unable to fight and kill me if he pleased.

    “Kronos,” I said, surprised by my own courage. I hardly even sounded afraid, though that was all I was feeling. Even the Titan Lord seemed taken aback by this.

    “It seems that arrogance passes from father to son,” Kronos said, grinning evilly. He chuckled, as if it gave to great pleasure to be meeting his own, troubled child, to say the least, for the first time.

    “Where are Apollo and A . . .” My voice died out in fear, and I truly expected Kronos to take this sign of weakness as an invitation for death. But instead, he looked saddened.

    “. . . Artemis,” I finished, but it was too late.

    “You are weak,” Kronos said plainly, a smile no longer on his face. “You fear me.”

    I remembered something that I’d thought about long ago. Being . . . well . . . weird, I’d had a few run-ins with bullies in my childhood. Whenever they’d tease me for being a freak, I’d be . . . well . . . understanding.

    “Yes, I do fear you,” I said to Kronos, and he raised his eyebrows in surprise. Then he did something even more shocking. He sat . . . but not it the big throne. He sat on the left, as if he wasn’t the king of his own castle. But I went on.

    “How could I not fear you. I’ve barely known about demigods for nine days! And you . . . you’re the Lord of the Titans! I—”

    Kronos stopped me.

    “Titan?” he asked, as if he were confused. “I am no Titan. Titans are nothing compared to us . . . we are the Primordial Gods!”

    He looked truly offended, but I knew I looked confused. I’d heard the term Primordial Gods before . . . but where? And even stranger . . . was he saying there were two Kronoses?

    “How dare you compare me to the Titans!” my father roared, scaring what courage I had left, if any. He stood, and like Jordan, made a weapon appear out of nowhere. I felt a moment where time had stood still, like Kronos had frozen time to go get his weapon.

    It was a double-edged sword, connected by a thick hilt that fit Kronos’s hand perfectly. He struck the ground with one of the points, cracking it. I was scared for a moment that the entire temple floor would crumble, but before my eyes, the crack repaired itself.

    “Then who are you?” I demanded, completely running off of adrenaline now.

    “I am the mighty Lord Chronos! Primordial God of time and the zodiac wheel!”

    “There are really two Kronoses then?” I asked, my mouth running on its own. I took a step back and hastily reached for my necklace as Kronos raised his sword up again in anger. Again I saw the eerie calmness of his face, despite his obvious rage. However, he saw my spear appear in my hand, and he settled, grinning in the slightest.

    “Hecatian Silver,” he said, but continued before I could respond. “I am the true CHRONOS, not Kronos. The Titan Kronos did not even rightfully control time! He was merely an agriculture god until the Romans got their hands on him! They took my powers and gave them to him. I was forgotten, along with the other Primordial Gods!”

    Chronos settled, and I let the news sink in. I was not a demititan, or whatever the word would have been. However, I may have been a child of something much worse.

    “It’s clear to me that you are indeed a new demigod, Alexander.”

    Wow, no one had called me alexander in a long time. I’d almost forgotten that it was even my name.

    “You could be great, my son, if you had only found your father sooner,” Chronos said, almost saddened.

    I felt like Harry Potter, being told by the sorting hat that I should have been in Slytherin. I even had the same reaction.

    “You’re wrong.”

    “Oh?” He looked up, his anger rising again. Then he seemed to think of something.

    “You asked where your gods are,” he started, a sly grin on his face. “I believe you already know.

    “Now my Lord summons your presence. It is . . . time.”

    Then, with a sudden flash of frozen time, my father disappeared, and I stood in front of a green hearth, surrounded by three dozen guards, three doors on my left, three doors on my right, and somehow a new mysterious Lord, who I knew must have been the other person I’d heard here.

    Then, suddenly, the green hearth exploded in emerald light, and I saw, disbelievingly, as a giant crater opened in the center. A marble bridge formed a path through the flames into the pit, a shining black tunnel that could be as deep as all of Mt. McKinley, or maybe even further. I was dealing with gods, after all.

    I doubted that I could get through any door guarded by the people standing in the perimeter, so I approached the hearth, spear in hand, and inhaled deeply, knowing it may be my last breath of fresh air ever.

    Instantly, the marble bridge collapsed and I tumbled into the crater.

    * * *
    “I knew who you were the moment I met you.”

    The voice, familiar, but very faintly, seemed to slowly slide its way into my mind, a fuzzy haze of nausea and confusion along with it. My leg, which could easily have been broken, felt as if a hatchet had come down on calves, tearing through flesh, muscle, and nerves, leaving a raw, rugged tear of meat. My head seemed abnormally heavy, and seemed to be twice as large on my left as on my right. My arms, slumped down at my sides, were completely numb. I had no recollection of the past few moments, though I figured out on my own that I’d fallen hard onto the rocky floor of the pit.

    “After all, I had spent the last six months working with your father.”

    This time, I had awoken enough to realize that Xavier, Jordan’s brother and my one-day cabinmate, was standing across a field of light, through which I could look up and see the ceiling of the temple, probably a few hundred feet above my head. He was leaning on his black, metal club. I felt a surge of pride as I saw the beginnings of a scar in his forehead, where I’d slashed him during lunch, along with smaller cuts, and a large red gash in his chest, where he’d been hurt when Jordan had come to my and Heather’s aid. He seemed to still be upset about that.

    In fact, he went ahead and kicked a rock at me, cutting me right on the cheek.

    He smirked.

    “I never did understand how you were placed in the Hades Cabin,” Xavier continued. “You were nothing like us. You were weak. A fool. You could barely hold that spear in your hand without looking like an idiot.

    “Although, you did have that in common with Jordan.”

    I was ready to start fighting now. At least, my mind was. I didn’t see my body being able to get up any time soon.

    “Oh, the years I had to spend with that disgrace . . . and the excuses that had to be made! How many times did those people insist I leave? Still, it was all worth it . . .”

    Okay, this monologue has gone on long enough.

    “. . . And soon Camp Half-Blood with burn to the ground. Mark my words, kid. You’ll watch as your friends all crumble in my hands. I, as the great servant of Chaos!”

    “You are the great servant of chaos?” I mumbled, catching his attention. “Did no living thing want you working for them?”

    I didn’t even see Xavier disappear into the shadows, but he reappeared inches from my face, his club even closer to the side.

    “Do not insult my patron. The great Chaos will place suffering and torture on your soul.”

    “I never thought I’d hear someone like you say something so poetic.” I was definitely gaining strength. I could almost lift the spear in my hand.

    Xavier gave me a look that actually scared me. I could see myself being struck down by his weapon. I could see my soul being taken to the Underworld, trapped forever in an abyss of horror and insanity.

    It was Xavier’s power as a child of Hades.

    “Soon you shall regret those words, Alexander.” Wow, two Alexanders in one day. “Chaos will live through me, and destroy my enemies. I will have the immortal power of thy greatness!”

    He yelled this last part up above our heads, as if he were personally talking to Chaos. Aether had said something about Chaos long ago . . . had he been the creator god? The spirit from which all else began?

    It sounded familiar, and terrifying.

    “You . . . will have Chaos live in you?” I said, fear finally creeping into my voice. Heather had told me about the last time an immortal had lived through a demigod. Kronos, the Titan one, not my father, had taken a human . . . was his name Lucas? . . . as a host. It had ended up in both of their deaths, but also an almost impossible war. Kronos had almost single-handedly destroyed Manhattan, as well as using his army to wreak havoc on all of the United States.

    I doubted things would go just as well for the good guys this time.

    “Yes, Alexander,” Xavier said, saying nothing more, letting me think everything through.

    If Chaos, some evil, all-powerful god that had created the universe out of nothingness, was rising through Xavier, that meant . . . I’d have to stop him?

    Yay . . .

    However, it was then that I realized I had the upper hand. Like I said before, I didn’t see my body moving any time soon.

    But I had as much time as I needed.

    While Xavier began to conclude his monologue, I focused all my remaining energy on making time freeze. I felt a tingling in the pit of my stomach, and for a second, I thought I was going to be sick. But then, the tingling grew stronger, until I felt a strong pull on my gut.

    Xavier started to slow, and his voice grew gradually deeper. He seemed to be realizing what was happening, and started to swing his club, but moving at one quarter mile per hour. I gathered my strength and stood, slowly, as my eyes began to adjust to the darkness. It was hard, as the light coming down from above kept shrinking my pupils, but eventually, I found my bearings.

    I was in a large room that reminded me of a house of mirrors. Pillars, dozens, were circled around us, slightly reflecting light off of their dark marble form. Beyond, there was a perfectly circular wall that trapped us in, with no exits in sight. Along the wall was one continuous mosaic picturing the death of ancient Greek and Roman warriors, each in a unique way. One was a gladiator being mauled by a rhinoceros. One was a woman with both her eyes pulled from their sockets by black birds. Along the top was text, but even with my eyes that had been built for Greek, I had no idea what any of it meant.

    My left knee gave in, and I toppled down next to one of the nearest pillars. I looked at Xavier, and saw him, having just lifted his right foot off the ground, trying to swing his club at me, but to no avail. I wondered why I was unable to entirely stop time, maybe because I was in a giant temple devoted to time.

    I reached my hands to the sides of the pillar, in an attempt to pull myself up, but let go when I saw what was on it.

    The sun and moon rest in the sky,

    Below, the prophecy continued. I stared at the stone for a moment, before looking to at the one immediately to my left.

    The Doors of Death release their lock,
    Freedom to all from neath the rock.
    To the north, beyond the gods, lies the legion’s crown.
    Falling from ice, the son of Neptune shall drown.
    Rise to life and life to earth,
    A bridge restored to fight for true worth.

    To the north, beyond the gods. Kyle’s spirit, when Jordan and I had summoned him, had told me about the last trip to Alaska. He’d said that almost everyone had died.

    Had this prophecy led to that quest?

    I looked around, seeing more and more prophecies written on pillars. I didn’t even realize for a while that it was all written in Greek. I also forgot about the throbbing pain in my legs and moved swiftly through the chamber.

    Apple of the tree, where Heracles stole…

    You shall rise or fall by the Ghost King’s hand…

    Last of thirteen shall survive…

    As I went further, I saw that there were dates at the top of the cylinder. The further I was from the center, the older the prophecy. There was one that stretch all the way back to the Civil War, talking about a great division of powers. Finally, I started making my way to the center, where Xavier had fully leapt off the ground, but frozen in the air, beads of sweat on his face from the strain, I noticed a small semicircle of pillars separate from the others.

    I approached, and gasped when I read them.

    They were so much more horrible than the others, talking about death spreading across great lands, souls being reaped by cursed blades, until I finally reached one that made me reach for my heart.

    The master . . . rise . . .
    Gods . . . fade . . .
    Destruction . . . spread . . . chaos . . .
    Only . . . enemies . . . survive . . .


    Those were the only words that had been filled in, and as I raised my eyes upwards, I saw the date, 2023.

    This prophecy was for the distant future. Yet, they were the words I’d heard in my dream so long ago, back when Laelaps, the giant dog, had been our biggest worry. How could I have known them? Did I have a connection to them? Was it because I had the power of time in my possession?

    Turning clockwise, I only had a moment to see that there was nothing on the pillar labeled 2024 before suffering a pain unlike anything I’d ever felt before. My stomach seemed to be on fire, a special fire, that burns extra hot and lasts for an eternity. A fire that cannot be quelled by any amount of screaming, shouting, or swearing in Greek.

    It’s the burning, fiery pain of freezing time in the realm of a time god. Chronos, he’d sensed it by now, if not sooner. Thinking of it, which was all I could do besides experiencing the full pain, I hadn’t felt the usual tugging on my gut while holding time still for an extended period of ti—well, not time, but you know what I mean.

    Chronos had taken the burden from me. He’d sensed it, felt my advantage coming, and waited for me to be placed in a semicircle of pillars, trapped by a wall and a demigod with a club. Now time was being stopped, all by me, and with the resistance Chronos was giving, trying to resume time, I could literally feel my power collapsing. I tried to scream, but was not rewarded with sound.

    Finally thinking, I released the pain, having it surge against me in a numbing Pop! and it washed away, leaving a ringing in my ears, tears in my eyes, and the sense that I was a living soul in the body of a dead man.

    To make matters worse, this is when Xavier was restored.

    “Tried to use time against me, hmm?” he said, grinning evilly. I didn’t know if his brain had been slowed during that time, if it even could be slowed any more. However, it seemed that he had memories of it all, and embarrassment flooded through him.

    “Not a wise choice, while in the presence of the great, powerful, Chronos!”

    “Are you saying . . .” was all I could get out, while trying to talk back. It resulted in an even more joyful smirk from Xavier.

    “Too tired to talk?” he whispered, not even pretending to care.

    “Alexander. I’m not one of those ‘bad-guys’ who wants the hero to die a dramatic death. I think that if a hero is going to die, it is better to have it quick, and easy.

    “So, Alexander, would you like a quick death at my hand now, or live for a few moments longer with false hopes of survival?”

    The son of Hades stood close enough to me that I could feel the tip of his shoe come against my aching ribs. I was on my front, my arms and legs sprawled on the floor, and my face turned to look at the spot of light coming down from above.

    “I’ll take that . . . as a now.”

    Xavier reared his head, and turned around.

    “My lord Chronos. My patron Chaos. Let us now begin. Let thy spirit descend upon my soul!”

    There was a gentle rumbling on the ground, elegant, yet impossibly terrifying. I could see nothing, but I could feel the presence of an incredible power, unlike Aether, Eurus, or even my father. This spirit, invisible, had to be the creator god. The original force. An eternal existence, between life and death, that passed over all things, absorbing them. My power drained to absolutely nothing as the force grew stronger, and I honestly would not have been surprised if Hermes appeared now to take me to the Underworld.

    As I lay there, on the ground, waiting for my imminent death, my mind went blank, enough to even keep me from thinking of the ones I loved, enough to keep me from seeing Heather for the last time.

    I heard my father’s booming voice echo through the chamber, responding to Xavier.

    “Do you, Xavier, pledge thyself to thy patron, Chaos?” he spoke.

    “I do,” Xavier replied without hesitation. I felt another wave of power spread over me, failing to draw in any more energy from me.

    “And do you, Xavier, hereby swear to always serve thy patron, Chaos, even in any moment of doubt, distrust, or seeming betrayal?”

    “I do.” It was much less pleasant than a wedding.

    For the first time, I could actually feel Xavier gaining strength. It was like he was becoming a god himself. I knew from what I’d learned in my crash course at Camp Half-Blood that the power of a god’s true form can easily kill a mortal. How could Xavier support that kind of life within him.

    “Finally—” Could becoming a godly host be that quick? “—Do you, Xavier, swear to do all thy can to aid Chaos, even if it may mean being traitor to all those who love thee?”

    “I do.”

    Knowing this was probably the most momentous occasion in modern Greek history, I deemed it worth my efforts to open my eyes and watch. Perhaps I could describe it to Hades the next time we bumped into each other.

    I peeled my eyelids open and stole a glance at the traitorous demigod. Of course I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was expecting there to be nothing at all of any significance.

    Xavier simply stood there, in the center of the light, facing away from me. Perhaps Chaos was invisible, and I couldn’t see what was happening at all. Maybe Chaos was so powerful that even being a demigod didn’t allow me to see through the Mist around him. That would be scary.

    Finally, though less than a minute had actually passed, I started to regain feeling in my legs. Xavier hadn’t moved, hadn’t said anything. Perhaps he would be frozen until his spirit had completely merged with Chaos’s. That would give me enough time to strike. Even Xavier couldn’t really stop a spear when he was completely frozen.

    Feeling a surge of regret for not gaining the courage sooner, I had the determination to stand up. Once I’d gotten that accomplished, my energy seemed to return in a steady flow. I approached Xavier, and stood behind him. I dared not turn around and see his face, because just knowing he was, somehow, human, I wouldn’t be able to do it.

    I summoned my spear, slowly edging it towards his back. I knew I needed to hurry, but I just couldn’t do it . . . yet.

    Poking the point against his spine, I thought about the first time I’d met Xavier. He’d been a jerk.

    I pressed a little harder.

    Later, he’d attacked me, and almost hurt Heather in the process.

    I pressed even harder, and for the first time, a drop of blood, a sickeningly normal shade of crimson, trickled down the side. I felt a twitch, and was scared Xavier was coming to. However, it was just my own body shuddering at the sight.

    Finally, I thought of something that gave me the strength to do it, truly.

    Jordan said he’d been in the Hades Cabin for years. Xavier had bullied Jordan for years. He’d put my newest best friend through all kinds of torture, physical pain, doubt, even loneliness. If Xavier was gone, Jordan would finally be free of his seemingly endless curse.

    I shifted my weight forward, and the arrowhead lodged itself into Xavier’s back.

    It didn’t matter if Chaos was entering Xavier or not. He screamed. He shrieked with such intensity that I immediately forgot about my entire reasoning, even possibly saving the world.

    It was over so fast, Xavier crumpling onto the floor, that I couldn’t even take my spear out. It made him fall at a horribly uncomfortable angle, and ripped bits of his flesh as it made contact with the marble floor. A pool of shining blood spread out all over the circle of light from above, and I knew I was about to lose my very meager lunch.

    However, Xavier, channeling some kind of horrible, literally chaotic spirit, shouted only five words into the dark abyss of the chamber.

    “Chaos has risen . . . through . . . Evelyn.”

    * * *
    Last edited by AlexMonroe; 30th May 2012 at 1:35 AM.

  20. #20
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    19
    The Deities Return

    Xavier’s lifeless body grew cold much quicker than I thought it would. Maybe because he was born half-dead, thanks to his dad. Maybe it was because he clearly had no heart. Either way, he was little more than a flexible statue within minutes. I particularly took notice in the way his eyes slowly became still. After he’d uttered his final words, which I would have to process later, they’d twitched, like scientists say happens when you dream . . . except, his eyelids stayed open. It was like watching his body try to resist as the torn fragments of his soul escaped on the way to meet his father.

    These types of thoughts stayed in circulation in my mind for a while, until everything inevitably sank in; I was a murderer. I’d killed someone, and though he was evil and would have done the same to me or possibly the gods themselves, I had still brought on his downfall.

    My spear was still lodged in his back, and for the first time I noticed the stream of crimson blood flowing from his wound. I didn’t know if it would permanently stain my weapon, though I knew I’d never be able to look at it the same again either way.

    I sat in the cavern for over an hour, crying, whimpering, shivering, screaming, and trying to hold back vomit, before the worst of it even came to me: This would 100% not be the last time I did this. I was less than two weeks into being a teenager and I had a whole future laid out as a killer. Especially now that I knew my first victim was not who I’d thought he was. He wasn’t Chaos’s host. How could he be? Aether had told me that Chaos was the mother of the universe. In my fear of Xavier gaining power, I’d ignored and forgotten that fact.

    Evelyn was Chaos’s host. Was she already possessed by her spirit? Had there even been a time that she hadn’t been possessed? During my brief time in the Hades Cabin, had I slept feet away from the creator of everything?

    No. That had been Xavier’s plan. As Chronos had actually performed the ritual on Evelyn, he’d been pretending to accept the role, to delay me from discovering who the true villain was. Perhaps he underestimated me, thought I could never be a killer. Maybe he knew I could do it, but was willing to sacrifice himself in order to let Evelyn gain power without interference.

    Or maybe he wanted me to feel the horror of killing one person, knowing I could never do it again.

    These thoughts haunted me until I fell into a disturbed sleep.

    * * *
    I hadn’t seen Apollo or Artemis in a long time, I’d almost thought they had lost the ability to reach me, when I saw them once again. Their prison seemed to have grown since the last time, and the misty walls were much less smoky than before. Still, it gave a definite feeling of being trapped in a cloud.

    “Apollo,” I croaked. “Artemis. Where are you?”

    Artemis nodded glumly. “You are close. That we can sense. However, where we are, we do not know.”

    “Chronos and Chaos are not beings to be dealt with alone, Alex,” Apollo said. “Even I would not have challenged them so blindly.”

    “Thanks.”

    “Alex,” Artemis continued. “We warned you. This is a situation that even Zeus himself cannot control. You heard Chaos call her command to ‘send in the replacements.’ We have literally been replaced in the Olympian council.”

    “But . . . the prophecy said that the replacements shall fade!”

    “But if Artemis and I took on the roles as sun god and moon goddess ourselves . . .”

    I knew what he was saying.

    “You’re replacements.”

    As I woke up, staring at the twin gods fading out of sight, I realized that like Kyle had said, I knew exactly where Apollo and Artemis were.

    * * *
    “Alex, I’ll have you know that you are being very rude right now.”

    I peeled apart my eyelids that had been glued together by dried tears and blood, and found myself staring at three people: Lucian to my right, with a black eye, Heather to my left, looking remarkably unharmed, and little more than a foot from my face, someone I wouldn’t have ever wanted to see again.

    “Tmolus.”

    “Clearly.”

    I fought the temptation to spit in his face, seeing as how Lucian and Heather were also restraining themselves.

    “Explanation?” I asked them.

    Before Lucian could answer, Tmolus jumped on the defense. “Why do you need an explanation? Simply because I disappeared makes it my fault there was an earthquake?”

    “You told us before that you could stop any earthquake that came.”

    “But I was gone by then! You really shouldn’t jump to conclusions, young man—”

    “Why was there an earthquake in the first place?”

    “I’m not the only one with powers over mountains, demigod.”

    “Alex,” Heather said, and I backed down. “We have to trust him—for now, at least.”

    Tmolus gathered himself and straightened up. Lucian reached his hand out for mine, and he helped me up. It occurred to me that they didn’t seem to have seen Xavier yet, despite him being barely in the shade of the light from above.

    “We need to go find Apollo and Artemis before Chronos gets back,” Lucian started, but I interrupted.

    “Chronos is gone?”

    “For now, yes,” Heather answered.

    I shook my head. “Still, that’s not what we need to do.”

    Lucian looked confused.

    “Why not?”

    “Because I already know where they are. The first thing we should do is find Jordan and Mitchell. We can’t leave them to whatever fate they’re in.”

    “Alex, Lucian and I had the same fate as them,” Heather said. “All that happened was that we were escorted to a cell and locked in. I think they can suffer that for a little while longer.”

    “I saved them,” Tmolus said, “just to clarify.”

    “Good for you,” I responded, my mind set. “But I’m not going anywhere unless we save our friends.”

    It took a moment, but then . . .

    “Fine,” Lucian relented. “Since you know where they are, we’ll do what you say.”

    “But bear in mind that we’re running low on time,” Heather added.

    “Fine,” I said, and using the “elevator” technique Lucian, Heather, and I had used before, we re-entered the main chamber of the temple. Along the sides were the rooms that Lucian, Heather, Mitchell, and Jordan had been taken to. As we approached them it became clear that there was some kind of magic lock on the doors, something so ancient that even Lucian couldn’t crack it. Fortunately, Tmolus didn’t register as a demigod or even a living thing (Apparently being the nature spirit of a mountain made you one-with-rock), so he was able to push in the monolith of a door into the chamber, freeing a very distraught Mitchell and a very depressed Jordan.

    “Sie . . . flung . . . gone . . . ra . . .” Mitchell kept mumbling to himself. It was really annoying, but only because with each breath he reminded us of her instant demise as well.

    That’s what it was like when I stabbed Xavier, I said to myself. Instant. He didn’t have a chance to even think about defending.

    Once we had everyone back in the main chamber, I said what I had discovered.

    “Artemis and Apollo’s prison was made out of mist, like being in a cloud. It was exactly like my prison in Seattle.”

    “The one Aether made over the Space Needle?” Heather asked.

    “Exactly. Except, this one was more heavy-duty. It was made to last. However, if it’s like the prison back there—”

    “Wait, wait, wait,” Lucian said. “Are you saying that when the prophecy said ‘the sky’, it meant a chamber floating in the sky?”

    “Yep,” I said, and he nodded.

    “All right.”

    We walked toward the zodiac archway that looked out over the peak of Mt. McKinley, and the five of us demigods all reared our heads back to look up. The chamber was out of view, but everyone was more certain than ever that it was up there.

    Lucian and Heather got ready to do the elevator magic like before, but I stopped them.

    “No, we can’t use magic out there,” I said.

    “Why not?” Jordan asked.

    “When I froze time, Chronos knew, and he punished me for it,” I responded. “If we used more magic near Aether’s prison, he’d know about it, and then we’d never get in, unless we killed an immortal.”

    “So how do we get up there?” Tmolus asked.

    This, I had already known.

    “We don’t. Tmolus, you, Mitchell, Lucian, and Heather stay here.” I took a moment to let everyone understand what I was saying. “This is something Jordan and I need to do.”

    “How come?” Mitchell asked, come to his senses for five seconds. “This was my quest, and I’m meant to be the one to rescue the gods.”

    “No,” I said. “Something I learned about being a child of Chronos. We have power over time, but something more specific than that. Chronos himself is ruler of time like the zodiac, long periods of time. We control what happens in time, along with time itself. We have power over fate, and that’s why this prophecy was never meant for you. Your fate was entwined with mine, which is why you were given the quest. All of this was meant to happen so that I would come here. Apollo knew it—he’s god of prophecy. That’s why he spoke to me. And, he spoke to Jordan.”

    “He’s right,” Jordan said.

    “I think so,” Heather agreed.

    “Me too,” Lucian finished, then he turned to us. “Go, and be careful. Remember . . .” He started to tear up a bit now. “The prophecy said that . . . that two of us would . . . not make it back. Don’t let that be you two.”

    I nodded, now scared because of what he’d said.

    “We won’t.”

    I gave Lucian a pat on the shoulder, and he hugged me. When we broke apart, Heather came and hugged me as well, which really got me to start crying. I didn’t want to ever let go, and not because it was simply her hugging me. I truly believed it may be the last time I’d ever be embraced by anyone. I wasn’t going to let go of her easily.

    “Good luck,” she whispered.

    “Thanks.”

    Jordan nudged me, and trying not to think I’d never see her again, I backed away from Heather. We turned around, and stepped out of the archway, ready to try and break two gods out of a prison made by the lord of air. And on top of that, I was pretty sure that Apollo and Artemis were not going to make it back anyway.

    “How do we get up there?” Jordan asked me.

    “Use your powers over stone to raise us up.”

    “But I thought you said no magic.”

    “No wind magic. Right now, Chronos doesn’t have any god of mountains on his side.” Except maybe Tmolus, I thought.

    “Okay. I’ll try.”

    It took a few moments, but Jordan successfully got a small, roughly cut circle of rock to start expanding upwards. I doubted Chronos would be happy to find a new pillar of stone on his front porch, but we’d have to deal with that later. After about a minute, we got an arm’s length away from the top, and after helping Jordan get on top, he pulled me up and we both stood on the flat, snow-covered white marble roof. For the first time I could see the sky chamber, a barely visible sphere of wind floating above our heads. I doubted that entry would be easy, but now that we’d come literally all the way across North America, we weren’t going to back down now.

    “Ready?” Jordan yelled over the wind.

    “Yeah.” I shouted, getting a mouthful of snow, and not the light, fluffy kind. Hard, large clumps of frozen water. For the first time I didn’t even care that the warm clothing we’d gotten was stolen—there was no doubt in my mind that we would have been dead already without them. I pulled up my jacket collar to cover my mouth and put my gloved hand over my eyes.

    We slowly approached the sphere, fighting the intense wind, traveling likely at .5 mph. Twice we slipped and almost ended up falling over the side of Mt. McKinley. However, after our second accident, Jordan perfected a method of making stone locks around our feet every time we took a step, encircling our ankles and bolting us to the temple.

    By the time we reached Apollo and Artemis’s prison, i literally couldn’t tell my clothing, which had been mostly dark blue, apart from the world around due to all the snow that had blanketed me. Jordan looked no better.

    I could see the slightest amount of movement around Jordan’s mouth, but absolutely no sound could be heard over the screaming of the wind.

    “WHAT?” I yelled, almost unable to even hear myself.

    Jordan leaned up next to me, and I felt the crunch of our snow covering as he made contact. Shouting less than an inch from my ear, I barely managed to hear what he said.

    “WHAT NOW?”

    I had been hoping he would tell me a plan he had instead of asking me for one, and so was a little disappointed. However, I had a very simple idea.

    “JUST POKE IT!”

    He seemed to nod, and produced his pitchfork from thin air. My numb fingers fumbled around my necklace, and when I was taking it off, my hood accidentally slid off and my entire head was subjected to such a serious cold that I was sure I might faint within a second. My ears buzzed and my eyes went red, staining my vision with the color of blood. My tongue stuck to the bottom of my mouth, and my lips stuck together. I felt a rush of dizziness spread right upwards as my eyelids sealed shut. I started to breath in a very panicky way through my nose, and my left nostril froze itself shut. My ears filled with ice, and I shrieked with no sound through my frozen mouth as my other nostril closed, leaving me with no way to breathe. I had the worst brain freeze of my life, I felt nausea rise through my throat and suddenly felt light my brain was exploding inside my cranium. I felt myself collapsing one second, and the red of my vision faded to black.

    * * *
    When I’d chosen Jordan to go with me, I’m not sure if it was my guardian angel telling me to do so, or if I subconsciously realized the power he held that could, and would, save my life.

    Hades of course was the god of Greek Fire, a blaze that burns no matter what condition it’s in. The endless darkness that had overcome my vision flashed green, and I felt a sudden burst of warmth. My eyelids melted, my mouth opened, and I breathed in my favorite mouthful of oxygen of all time. I saw the dark face of Jordan in the midst of a winter horrorland, and the dark green flames of the fire he’d produced in order to save me. Frozen, icy tears melted on his face as he saw my eyes open, and embraced me so tight that I once again lost the ability to breathe.

    “Jordan . . .” I said, which should have been to quiet to hear, but he seemed to take notice. “We don’t . . . have time for this. We need to get to Apollo and Artemis before Chronos gets back.”

    He nodded, letting go of me, but shaking all over, despite the new heat.

    “Poke it?” he said, and I realized that the wind had, in fact, lessened.

    “Poke it.”

    Still holding the necklace in my hand, I pressed the Alpha, and the long black handle of my spear appeared.

    “On three,” I said.

    “One.” Jordan seemed to agree.

    “Two,” we both said. “Three!”

    We each thrust our weapons upwards, through the wind barrier, only to have it whip us outwards from the center. Luckily, our feet were still secured to the temple top, and we regained ourselves easily.

    We tried again, and this time, I slowed down time enough to make the wind almost still. We broke through the literal windshield around the prison, but were stopped, hard, against a cloudy material inside. I never would have guessed that the misty walls of the prison I’d seen in my dream were so tough.

    It took a while, but finally, after Jordan sent a fireball up through the mist, we figured out how to get inside. On my count, Jordan shot a gigantic stream of flame upwards into the prison. I froze time, except for us two, and Jordan made a stone spire rise up into the opening. When time return, the area around the spire exploded, flattening us against the temple as the winds escaped. After nearly of minute of having terrifyingly powerful streams of air force us against a rock structure, the pressure lessened, and the clouds began to reshape around the stone. Quickly throwing his pitchfork into the darkness that appeared when he gestured for it, Jordan hollowed the stone out and added an entry hole, so the prison stood in the air like a igloo turned 90º. He stepped into the hollowed rock and pulled himself up into the sky chamber. Before following, I took a deep breath, knowing that before Jordan and I came back out, without Apollo and Artemis, he’d learn that I’d known the quest could only be a failure. I pressed the Alpha on my spear, returning it to its necklace form, and stepped inside the entrance to the prison.

    * * *
    The first thing I discovered while in the presence of two gods was that they looked so much more real than in my dreams. While I saw the most important traits, like Artemis’s auburn hair and wise old eyes, my sleepy vision had failed to show all the details, giving me what I now realize was an almost blank, round face that seemed to make perfect sense in my dream state. Her face was smooth and silky, which strongly contrasted with her deep, wisdom-bearing gray eyes that were slightly clouded, as if she had cataracts, though I doubted an immortal goddess could suffer from a common mortal disability. Her clothing, a long, shimmering, silver shawl that stretched down to her small, bare feet, was covered in various designs of deer, pheasants, and other species of wild game. There were wave patterns that I’d seen before . . . but I wasn’t sure where. I knew that originally I’d thought they were waves in the sea, but now I could clearly see that they were waves of light and shadow, flying through the silver sky.

    No . . . it couldn’t have been what I though.

    “Artemis,” I said, ignoring Jordan as he bowed. “You sent that chariot to my school, didn’t you?”

    The goddess nodded, but before responding, addressed Jordan. “Rise, son of Hades.” He did so, and she turned to me. “Yes, Alex. After Hecate came to aid your friends in retrieving you for camp, it became clear to all of the Olympians that you were someone special. Zeus ordered Apollo and I to watch over you until such a time came that you were claimed, but that day never came. After the night of your thirteenth birthday passed, I gave Hecate my personal chariot, capable of traveling through the air as if it were merely a speck of light in the sky. When the Acephali attacked that very Monday, everything was in place for your escape to Camp Half-Blood.”

    “We didn’t really count on you escaping from Camp Half-Blood after that,” Apollo said, and I acknowledged his presence for the first time. “That kind of made everything we’d worked for pointless.”

    At first I thought that the god was angry that I’d jeopardized my safety, which all the gods had tried so hard to assure, but he chuckled.

    “Nice move.”

    I studied Apollo as well, again seeing how much more there was to him in real life. His sunny yellow hair swayed gently in the wind, and it sometimes seemed to flicker like real fire. His eyes held crinkled smile lines, but they looked as if they’d had little use as of late. Below his nose was a bright, cocky smile with teeth so white that they seemed to emanate their own light. His outfit was much more modern, a simple white t-shirt and jeans with loafers to round out the look.

    “Brother,” Artemis said, in a very serious tone. “Now is not a time for jokes.”

    “She’s right . . . uh, your lordship, sir,” Jordan said nervously. “We don’t have much time before Chronos and Chaos come back. And Aether might arrive any second. If we’re going to get you two out of here—”

    “Get us out of here?” Apollo asked, and I gulped. Clearly, Jordan would know I’d been keeping a very important secret soon.

    “Of course,” Jordan replied, confused. “That’s why we’re he—”

    “Alex, you did not tell him?” Artemis questioned.

    “No.”

    “Didn’t tell me what?” Jordan turned to me, slightly edgy now. “What did you know?”

    “Jordan . . .” I gulped again, swallowing my very hot spit. “Apollo and Artemis aren’t coming back. The whole quest has been a failure since I found out.”

    “When did you find out?” Now he was angry, like I’d expected. He even took a step towards me, which would have seemed more intimidating if he didn’t wince from the pain in his legs.

    “A few days now.”

    “And you didn’t tell anyone?” He faced the twin gods. “Why aren’t you coming anyway?”

    “It is our destiny, as spoken of in the Prophecy of the Betrayed. And destiny cannot be rewritten.”

    “Prophecy of the Betrayed?”

    “The one your friend Mitchell was given. ‘The sun and the moon—’”

    “I know how it goes,” Jordan said, and faced me again. “Why did you let us come all the way out here?” He was getting steadily angrier. “We could’ve gone home, having failed, but we wouldn’t have gone all this way just to fail! Sierra’s dead now! Mitchell’s gone completely insane! And now, we’re in a prison in the sky, when two of the most powerful and evil deities of all time might appear in the next two seconds!”

    “I know, I know—”

    “Then why did we come? Was it just so you could see your father?”

    “Oh, gods no!” I yelled. “Believe me, at no point did I ever look forward to seeing my dad!”

    “Why, then?”

    “Because . . . because!” I couldn’t think of the words. Thankfully, Apollo, understanding the power prophecies had on people due to his being the god of them, answered for me.

    “You must know what the prophecy means.”

    I settled, taking in a few more deep breaths, then nodded. I tried to hide my face behind my brown hair by looking down because I was shaking and starting to cry from all the emotion.

    Jordan, however, settled as well, and put his arm on my shoulder.

    “I . . . I’m sorry . . .” I whimpered. “But when I heard that two people on the quest would die, I had to know if it would be Lucian. It said we’d be betrayed, and I had to know how, and when. I needed to know what would happen because . . .”

    “Because you and Chronos are gods of fate,” Jordan recalled, now understanding what I’d meant.

    “It goes with me always knowing what time it is. Time is the key to fate and destiny, and I’m not just a clock—I’m a calendar. A list of things that will happen in the future. I get it now.”

    “So do I.” Jordan put his other arm around me, and I felt the warmth of his heart spread through me as he embraced me. I knew immediately that despite how cold Xavier had felt, not all children of Hades were not just personifications of death. Jordan was as much a warm friend as any other person could have been.

    “I can tell you what the prophecy means,” Apollo said, and Jordan and I separated. “But I think you’ve figured it out yourself. After all, you’re a smart kid. If the ‘deities shall return’, and ‘the replacements shall fade’, whose who?”

    “You two . . . you’re not the original gods of day and night.”

    “No, nor are Helios and Selene, who would also be in support of the Olympians,” Artemis added.

    “Hemera and Nyx,” Jordan suggested, and both deities nodded glumly.

    “Primordial goddesses of day and night,” Apollo confirmed. “And when the prophecy said that ‘two of five will die’, well, how many campers have . . . you know?”

    I sniffed. “Three.”

    “But,” the god of prophecy continued. “How many have . . . passed . . . ‘above the sky’?”

    Kyle and Casey had both been killed before we’d even gotten to Mt. McKinley. If he was implying what I thought he was, my choice to come and learn what the Oracle had foretold would result in one more death.

    “One.”

    “That’s right. Xavier.”

    Surprised at what he’d said, I was about to correct him, when the most horrible chill ran up my spine, coming from a voice that could mean only one thing—if Xavier was the only camper to die above the sky, the two people on the quest who still had to go would be Jordan and I.

    “Well, well, well, you’ve come to see another of my sky prisons,” Aether said mockingly. “Perhaps you’d like to stay longer this time?”

    * * *
    With little more than a snap of his fingers, Aether closed off the sky prison once again, wearing away the rock spire into sand in the process. He then used a powerful burst of wind to reduce our rock pillar sprouting from the entrance to Chronos’s temple in much the same way. Heather, Lucian, Tmolus, and Mitchell seemed to have gone further inside the structure, though I didn’t get a good look before Aether grabbed Jordan and I by the scruffs of our necks, and turned us around so that we faced the air chamber.

    “The time is now.” The god of upper air spoke as if he’d been anticipating this exact moment for years. It was likely that he had.

    “The deities shall return,” he continued, but I finished.

    “And the replacements shall fade.”

    Grinning villainously, Aether nodded, and released Jordan and I. If we weren’t sure he’d simply blast us off the mountainside if we tried, we’d have sprinted to the edge and jumped down to the zodiac archway.

    He raised his arms, which should have been frozen as his only clothing was a smoky gray chiton draped over his shoulder, as if he were starting the macarena, and faced his pale palms upwards. He held perfectly still for a moment, when I noticed that the snowflakes falling all around us seemed to bounce away from Aether’s wrists. As time passed, it seemed that an invisible beam of air spread from his fingers to the air chamber began to thicken, creating a rope of snow-reflecting wind. Finally, he shut his fists, letting him clasp onto the base of the clear cord.

    Aether lifted his arms high into the air, and whipped his wrist up and down, snapping the sky chamber down to earth, bursting apart into wind streams shooting in every direction on impact. For a split second I thought the twin gods had been erased from existence. However, I could see them. The were standing where the cloud of air had been, only they no longer seemed trapped. Still, they floated in the sky, and I realized that the reason the inside had seemed so calm was not a trick of Aether’s. He had simply constructed a barrier around Apollo and Artemis’s real prison.

    “Look upon your saviors,” Aether yelled at the trapped Olympians. “The ones who you tried to stop. How could it be that two gods could not stop a group of children? You cannot fool me, or my superiors. All along you’ve been denying yourselves the very thing you’d shown within each of your actions. Hope. You had hoped to be rescued, despite what you may have said.”

    I looked up at Apollo and Artemis, and I could see in their eyes that it was true. They’d lied, saying that they did not care about their own fates anymore. How could I have believed that? Even wise, honorable gods would not truly want to lay down their lives after millennia of ruling for the sake of the others. I was ready to obey their final wish to allow them to be destroyed for the greater good. But how could I watch them die if what they wanted was to live?

    I didn’t have very long to think about it.

    “Chaos!” Aether roared into the heavens, and for a moment, everything was blocked out by my own horror and anticipation. Only a second of real time had passed before my sluggish body turned to face Apollo and Artemis for the last time. It was clear that it was all they could do to hold back tears in their last moments. Suddenly the wavy cloud around them both flashed brightly and as the blinding light burned my eyes beyond hope of ever seeing again, I realized that the gods, having their very souls destroyed, were forcefully reverting to their immortal form, and I remembered the cheerful voice of the narrator from the Camp Half-Blood orientation film.

    “Should Mr. D ever try and show you his immortal form, we ask that you look away, so we may not have to remove your blackened body from his presence.”

    Using the last amount of energy I had, and forcing my body not to focus on the dying gods before me, I turned away. Five more seconds passed without a word or sound from anybody, the warmth from the immortals died away, and I knew it was over. The sky chamber was still there, distorting the light, but Apollo and Artemis were gone.

    “Now,” Aether said, his cold, unyielding voice piercing through the shock I was in, tearing me into reality. “Your quest is done. You’ve failed. And now . . .” He gestured his hand towards the side of the mountain, away from the prison where Artemis and Apollo had been trapped, as the wind started to pick up again, blasting hard snow at us once again. “We have no use for you.”

    The icy wind grew stronger and stronger, until it was pushing us forward, aiming us straight at Aether’s outstretched hand. It was clear that no amount of struggling or resisting would save us, and even if our sluggish, practically frozen arms could bring forth our weapons, they’d be of no use either. There was nothing that could protect us from the inevitable fall to our deaths.

    “Goodbye, Alex Monroe, Jordan West.”

    We were less than a foot from the edge, our rough-soled shoes the only thing delaying our plummet. My heart was beating at a rapid speed from adrenaline, providing my body with a false sense of heat. I’d heard that feeling warmth was one of the last stages of hypothermia, and I wondered if the fall would even kill us before the cold did.

    Hardly an inch from the edge, I realized something. I could tell that death was here. My prophetical sense was warning me that the fates had a string in one hand, scissors in another. Before, when I was sure I would die, I hadn’t felt anything like this, the tight grasp on my spirit, closing in. My last thoughts had been things that hadn’t mattered. I’d never thought of the people I cared about most—Heather, Lucian, Jordan. They didn’t even cross my mind.

    As my heels were forced off the side of the temple, those faces were burned into my eyes. In a last attempt to retain hope, I reached out for Jordan and found he was doing the same thing.

    Locking hands, we fell.

    * * *
    Landing hurt, but not as much as it would have if we’d fallen down all 20,000 feet instead of about 11. I’d shut my eyes, so I wasn’t sure when this platform had extended out of the mountain. For a moment, I thought it was Jordan’s earth magic, but when I looked at him, he seemed as bewildered as I was.

    “I’m sorry, Aether, but I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.”

    “Tmo—” Jordan started before I cupped my hand over his mouth. I shook my head, and he nodded.

    “Tmolus,” Aether said for us, confirming that we’d heard the right voice, despite the howling blizzard that had begun. “You dare return here? To the home of Chronos?”

    “Yes, I dare, Aether. How dare I not when you have sent two half-bloods under my protection to their deaths?”

    Were we really under his protection? Had he actually been helping us this whole time? Then where was he when the earthquake came? He hadn’t told us before. In fact, he’d said that he’d even fled the area first.

    “Is that why you abandoned them on Mount Logan?”

    “You know where I was, Aether. Don’t lead them to believe I am a traitor simply because you know they are listening!”

    “Listening?” The god sounded momentarily confused, then laughed. “You’ve caught them? Come on up then, boys!”

    As soon as Aether addressed us, I realized that the presence of death hadn’t faded. I had been right—the fates were prepared to cut a lifeline. But it wasn’t mine, or Jordan’s.

    I jumped into the air, and tried something I’d been waiting to test for a while now. I slowed the air particles beneath me, so they formed a solid. It wasn’t the first time I’d done this. Heck, I’d even done it when I was a baby, floating over the side of this very mountain. However, this time, it was more than one platform.

    I took another step, and my foot settled on hard air. I began running up the invisible stairs I was creating, and Jordan followed. As we ran up the eleven or so feet, we summoned our weapons. We reached the top of the stairs just as I started to feel the strain of freezing time, when Aether stared at us. I could feel the grasp of death closing in, but I knew I had something to do first. In my mind, I recreated the stairs. Only this time, they were in a different place.

    “Aether,” I said, losing my confidence with every millisecond. “It doesn’t look like air beats earth here.”

    He smirked awkwardly, trying to hide anger. Tmolus ran around the god, and stood by Jordan’s side.

    “He’s right, Aether.” For the first time, I fully trusted Tmolus. “And if you touch any of these demigods again . . .”


    Tmolus was the kind of person that didn’t have to finish that sentence for it to have an effect on Aether. I could tell he was losing his cool, and my confidence returned. Even if he was a primordial god, there were five demigods and a earth-controlling king against him. As long as Chaos and Chronos stayed away, we could take him.

    “It matters not my fate, Tmolus. You know that. What matters now is that Hemera and Nyx have already returned. Soon enough, the Olympians will be forced to accept these gods into their council. A binding oath was made that twelve would always rule. And if they choose another two, they know war will begin. We have given them a blessing. They have the power to stop this war before it starts. And that is why, Tmolus,” Aether’s face darkened, and his white chiton was quickly wrapped in streams of air, much like the ones that used to protect the sky chamber, which were likely invincible. “I will fight to my own death, if it brings down a traitor!”

    Aether ran over to us, looking more vicious than ever. I was truly scared of him, until he face planted in the snow, and a bronze discus bounced of his head.

    I looked up, and saw her. She looked graceful, despite having just thrown an ancient weapon at an immortal god. Her long black hair was freckled with snowflakes, making it look like an inverted dalmatian. Somehow, it worked for her.

    “Heather!” I roared, and Jordan and I ran over to the others. They’d discovered the stairs I’d made for them and made it up here. Aether, despite having been hit hard, hadn’t gotten a scratch, thanks to his windy armor.

    Heather and I hugged, before I stepped back in embarrassment. However, she embraced me again, and Lucian did the same. Jordan joined, and so did Mitchell. It felt good to be a team again, even if we had all been together probably twenty minutes ago.

    “Well well, look what we have here,” Aether said, and we all broke apart, arming ourselves. Once again, the god starting blasting us with freezing air, but Tmolus stepped in and created a wall of stone as a windbreak.

    “Fine, then.” Aether donned the most sickening look I’d ever seen in my life, and followed with the most sickening sentence I’d ever heard.

    “Chronos. They’re ready.”

    With another blinding light, I began to feel an unnatural warmth again. Chaos and my father were coming, and that could very well be what brings the presence of death. A battle between three primordial gods and us was less likely a victory.

    It was now or never. In that one day my spear had killed a demigod for no reason. Now, it would have to kill a god.

    I threw, and the spear was knocked away by Aether’s armor. He smiled. How could I have forgotten about something so important? I literally couldn’t have been more angry at myself.

    That is, until I realized something else.

    This whole time, I’d had a power that maybe Aether didn’t know about. I’d never done anything like it when he was around—unless Chronos made a point to tell him, how could he know?

    I could have frozen time before Apollo and Artemis were killed. Yes, their fate said that they would have to face their doom either way, but it would’ve been nice to free them and have two gods on our side for the impending battle.

    Still, I decided to make the most of what I had. I froze time.

    Tmolus, apparently, didn’t know much about my powers either, as he looked completely confused.

    “You couldn’t have done that before?” Lucian asked, kiddingly, but it still hit a sore spot. He seemed to notice, and his smile faded. “Sorry, man. That was uncalled for.”

    “It doesn’t matter,” I said, and put my arm on his shoulder. “Chronos realized what was happening before, and put a stop to it. We only have until he notices to escape.”

    “Escape?” Heather questioned. “What about Apollo and Artemis.”

    It occurred to me that the only people who knew the true gravity of what Aether had done were Jordan and myself.

    “They insisted,” Jordan replied. “It was for the greater good.”

    A moment passed where the reality of all this seemed to rush forth inside everyone’s minds. Everyone looked down, and a couple shed tears.

    However, the moment was cut short when Mitchell collapsed onto the floor, his neck slit open in one horrifically clean line of red. I lost focus and time resumed. In the background Aether continued whatever he was saying, oblivious to the fact that we’d all magically rearranged. But my focus was all on the girl who was holding the bloodstained knife. The girl who I’d thought was dead for a while now. The girl who I’d thought Apollo and Artemis where saying had been killed “above the sky”. The girl who’d come all the way from Camp Half-Blood to Mt. McKinley just to stab the person who was supposed to be her boyfriend.

    “S—Sierra?” Mitchell whimpered, before his eyes went black.

    None of us moved, even when Sierra turned to us, brandishing the knife.

    “Just because they are you’re parents,” she said, her mouth twisted into a malicious smirk. “Doesn’t mean you have to be their children.”

    With a quick chuckle, she lowered her weapon and ran to Aether’s side. Only now did I question why she’d been moving while time was frozen. Perhaps that was the way Chronos had punished me for using my time powers. Freed his little assassin so she could sneak up on us and kill the leader of this now-pointless quest.

    “How are you alive, anyway?” I asked, my body still in a state of shock from Mitchell’s sudden death.

    Giving another small smile, Sierra chuckled once more. “You’re not the only one who can use air to catch yourself when falling.”

    “So you joined them because they saved your life? They were the ones who tried to kill you in the first place!”

    “Oh, Alex. You are so naïve. Demigods aren’t petty creatures that can be brainwashed by a simple act of kindness. I’ve been set on taking down the gods since before I came to Camp Half-Blood. My mother, Aphrodite, claimed me on only my seventh birthday. She was clearly trying to tell me to stop being the tomboy that I was and be a lady. Perhaps I was wrong, but I met her one year later and asked her myself. The gods made us to look like them, act like them, and think like them. Knowing any robot story ever, the robot takes over the world, destroying its creators. That’s what we are. We want people to be anything they want to be.”

    I couldn’t say the robot vs. human analogy wasn’t clever, but the rest of what she said seemed very much like the kind of thing a brainwashed person would say.

    “Nothing to say?”

    “You’re wrong.”

    “Excuse me?”

    This time, the entire group supported me. “You’re wrong!” we all shouted in unison, making her raise an eyebrow.

    “Well then,” she said, and looked up, where lines of light started to appear along the edges of the clouds, until they formed a net. The strings of light grew larger, forming a giant circle of light in the sky. It was a blinding light, but it was certainly bright. “You might want to say that to your dad.”

    The wind immediately ceased, and the cold faded away rapidly. I slipped off my hood, and so did the rest of us. Tmolus was now holding Mitchell, and laid him into the mountain, literally. A hole melted around his body, until the king covered him over with stone. It was clear that everyone understood what was happening. The prophecy said that two of five would die above the sky. That meant only one to go.

    “Tmolus!” roared Chronos’s voice, coming down from the entire sky.

    “That’s my cue,” he said, and without another word, ran to Aether and Sierra’s side. I’d fully trusted him for about five minutes, only to be proven wrong.

    “Chronos?” Aether questioned, but Sierra nodded. “All along?” Now he smiled.

    With a sudden flash of light, a giant body slowly lowered from the wavy prison in the sky above us. Chronos’s bulky body appeared, completely covered in silver armor from head to toe. His headgear was different, no longer looking like Loki, but more like a king’s crown. In his hand he held a long black spear, very similar to mine. The thought of having anything in common with this behemoth made me so furious, I raised my own in retaliation, despite him being about ten times my height.

    He laughed a deep, metallic laugh, and slammed his own spear into the ground, making a large black obsidian pole on top of the temple.

    “I do not wish to fight now, son,” Chronos said, and I cringed at the word son. How could this beast be my father? “And if I did, you would be wise not to brandish such a small weapon.”

    “If you don’t wish to fight, why did you have your little traitor murder Mitchell?”

    “Oh, you misunderstand. I do not wish to fight. I only wish to kill.”

    “That’s better then.”

    “Quite. However, I cannot speak for my own warriors. If they wish to do battle . . .” His already vicious grin grew. “I will not stop them.”

    “Well, I’m not one much for fighting,” Tmolus said. “But I’m sure Aether and Sierra would be more than happy to oblige.

    With a snap of his monstrous fingers, his “warrior” Aether shaped the wind around him into a long, white lance, with an intricate point on each end. Sierra pulled a small but terrifying battle axe from behind her back, leading me to wonder what other weapons she might have in a secret holder.

    “You kids have fun,” Chronos said, and with one final laugh, he and Tmolus disappeared back into the wavy sky sphere.

    I kept my spear raised, but lowered it in fear when I turned around. My friends were all frozen, and it was clear that Chronos had done this. He had no need for me, even if I was his son. He’d likely have Aether and Sierra kill me, unfreeze Heather, Lucian and Jordan, and have his warriors kill them while they were distracted.

    It was a practically fool-proof plan. However, it was almost as if he had forgotten that I, his son, could control time as well. If I could only stay alive long enough . . .

    I set my mind to Unfreeze! just as Aether and Sierra rushed me. I managed to sidestep, scratching Tmolus’s arm in the process, but was rewarded with a battle axe thrown at my head. I ducked in time, but Sierra kicked me in the face while I was down. That was just bad sportsmanship.

    I jumped up, tripping her as I did, but was flipped over by a gust of wind from Aether. He raised his lance, but I made the quick decision to freeze him instead of freeing my friends, and he didn’t move again.

    Momentarily taking pride in my handiwork, Sierra snatched the spear out of my hand, turning me around by the hand, and kicked me in the chest, winding me. I curled over in a ball, and felt the pressure of having frozen Aether. However, I realized it was now safe to let him go, and freed him. With me gone, he slammed his lance into the hard rock temple roof, sending a shockwave up into his hand.

    He turned to face me, realized what I’d done, and threw his hand into the air. I was caught in an updraft, and flew skyward, landing with a painful thud. Sierra threw my spear at me, but seemed to be less talented with it than she was with a battle axe. It landed next to me, and I yanked it out of the ground, hopping onto my feet as I did. She ran at me, drawing the same blood-stained knife as before, and I jabbed at her, cutting her side badly. She tumbled to the ground, screaming.

    “That’s very professional,” I said, laughing. However, I lost focus long enough for Aether to blast me with another stream of air.

    I was launched over the side of the temple, but this was no longer a problem for me. I’d mastered the art of solidifying the air, and came to a gentle landing about ten feet away from the edge. Aether, in awe, was still long enough for me to hurl me spear at him, though he knocked it away with his armored hand. I jumped over to the temple, landing rolling, and jumped up to punch him in the face. He fell over, and I turned back towards my three friends. I knew I’d never be able to unfreeze all of them while fighting Aether, so I faced Lucian. Now would be a perfect time for a healthy dose of offensive magic.

    Slowly, I heard Aether grunting, recovering from the blow, as Lucian began to come back. Soon enough, he was fully awake, and drew his wand.

    “Trap Aether,” I said. “I’ll unfreeze Heather and Jordan.”

    He nodded, and we split up. I could hear blasts coming from Lucian’s wand, and wind exploding from Aether. Focusing on Heather, I saw her change from frozen to slowed. Sounds of fighting continued behind me, until I finally got Heather free. However, she didn’t look to happy to see me.

    “Heather?” I asked, scared. “Are you okay?”

    Then she screamed in such a blood-curdling way that I knew exactly what she was seeing behind me.

    I turned around, tears already hot on my eyes, and a desperate scream came out of me. The presence of death was stronger than ever, and it pressed so tightly on my heart that I wanted to die myself. Another scream escaped me, and I fell to my knees.

    Lucian’s body was in the air above us, Aether standing below. The god was shooting eternal blasts of wind into his face, even though his eyes, once beautifully green, were blacker than night.

    * * *
    Last edited by AlexMonroe; 14th August 2012 at 5:05 AM.

  21. #21
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    20
    The New Oracle Gives a Prophecy

    Chiron says it happens to every demigod. We see something that literally tears our heart into two, and we manage to tap into some indescribable energy source, like a god-level version of adrenaline. Of course it’s hard to remember anything I felt other than pure rage and hatred, but the wave of power was unlike any other thing I’d ever felt. Instantly, my emotions towards Aether spread from my head to my toes, tightening my muscles and super-charging them. There were endless ways I could fight now, and almost nonexistent chances that I could lose in a fight now. Subconsciously, my mind chose a method of attack that would be the most torturous of all to the god of the upper air. Nothing more than a twitch of my eye was necessary to slow Aether to the perfect speed I wanted him. He couldn’t physically move for about the next 24 hours, but he was also fully awake, and his thoughts weren’t stopped. I could have taken my time to waltz over and grab my spear, but my body wouldn’t let me. I bolted over the temple roof, Heather making no attempt to stop me, and I snatched the weapon off the ground, turned, and ran through Aether without blinking once.

    I could feel the horrified shriek trying to escape Aether’s mouth, but his vocal cords were almost immovable. Golden ichor, which didn’t seem to be slowed by my power, splattered to the ground in streams. Drops burst onto my clothes, and even on my face. However, I didn’t mind. I relished in the thought of Aether facing a pain so severe. I could see through his storm-gray eyes into his very soul, watch as my spearhead tore up his spirit, completely obliterating his being.

    Only after Heather placed her hand of me did I realize how truly sick and twisted those thoughts were.

    I looked down, and saw that I was spinning the triangular point of my weapon around in Aether’s chest, having somehow broken through his seemingly indestructible wind armor. I dropped the spear, and let the god collapse, defeated, and possibly more dead that Apollo and Artemis. The golden blood pooled around him, almost making a pretty sight, despite the mangled wound in his torso. I didn’t dare look at Heather, for I knew I would already see Lucian if I stared into her eyes.

    Raising my head, my sight did settle on the still body of Sierra. I doubted that she was dead, but being on the verge of death was impossible.

    The feeling of incredible power and rage had passed, and dread started to settle in. However, I knew the real pain wouldn’t start until my mind was fully out of shock, which could be days later. Of course my eyes averted the sight of Lucian’s limp form as well as they could, but one or two curious glances occurred, bringing a deep, wild pain.

    Heather, her arm still on my right shoulder, kneeled down with me as I fell, weak and unstable. Tears came, though for how long, I don’t know. Jordan was behind us, locked in place. It was only me and Heather, now. It was something I’d wanted for a long time—just us two, without Lucian there. Now, the sick reality of everything made my wish come true.

    We leaned on each other, holding on, feeling one another’s hearts beating, knowing that the sound was the only way to know we still had one friend left.

    * * *
    I suppose Chronos’s spell had to wear off eventually, though I wasn’t eagerly anticipating the moment when we told Jordan what had happened. However, he seemed to take in what had happened without asking, and for a while we all remained in a silent trance.

    Night came, and none of us had moved from our spots. Jordan had sat, and while I felt bad that he was a third wheel to me and Heather’s hugging, it was hard to force myself to act on manners. Once or twice I tried to give him a look allowing him to join us, but the effort faded quickly like the sun.

    It’s possible we slept that night, with the hours moving so fast, but unlikely. What probably happened is that our horrified minds had trapped our thoughts in a perpetual cycle of anger, sadness, and guilt, sealing out reality and even time itself.

    Aether and Sierra stayed quiet all the while, a much appreciated, however forced, gift. For a while I assumed them dead, but each turned over once or twice an hour. It was even sad to think that these two, who had caused my best friend in the entire world to meet his demise were alive. I considered moving quickly to finish the job on each, but decided against it. No matter who they were, now that my rush of rage had faded, I couldn’t do what I’d done to Xavier to someone else.

    These were among the only thoughts in my head when sunrise came. I wondered who was pulling the sun into the sky now that Apollo was gone, but the question faded away quite fast. Besides, if Chronos’s plan had gone the way he wanted, the person pulling the sun was not a friend. In fact, the ball of light almost represented as much darkness as the night before it.

    After the feeling of absolute emotional exhaustion started to pass, leaving even more dread in its place, I raised my hand and placed it under Heather’s chin, turning her head upwards. Her eyes were fully bloodshot, and the frozen remains of tears had created an elaborate system of lines and dots across her cheeks. Her lips were turning blue, and her skin was more pale than the light snow that was falling now. There was something about her that simply seemed . . . weak. It was as if all her strength had fled her body, abandoning the frail girl that had once served as a host.

    I moved my hand, pushing the loose strands of hair from her vision. Heather’s eyes twinkled, but with a shine of tears rather than excitement. She buried her head on my shoulder, suddenly shaking all over, and wept. I laid my head on hers and began to cry as well. For a moment, it released all my feelings of horror and sadness, but it began coming in waves. The two of us just sat there, bawling, while the howling wind blocked out all sounds of the outside world.

    Finally, Jordan crawled over and took both of us into his hands. The warmth of his body melted the icy remains of tears on my face, turning my cheeks into waterfalls of salty drops.

    “I don’t—” Heather began, her voice quaking with sobs, the first words any of us had said in what I later realized had been exactly 9 hours and 37 minutes. However, the sounds died off, and the rush of wind returned.

    I wasn’t sure what she would have said after “I don’t”, but it started to get me thinking. For whatever reason, her words moved my mindset to the prophecy.

    “The sun and moon rest in the sky.” Apollo and Artemis had truly been trapped in the sky, a floating prison of Aether’s design. At least, the walls of the prison.

    “Above the world two of five shall die.” Despite my reluctance to count to dead, it was all true, and I realized something even more disturbing. Yes, there had been five people on the original quest. Adding our group, there were eight. That was three extra people that had to be gone before we were above the sky. Kyle and Casey had been killed on this quest, and Sierra had never really been on our side, taking the quest group down to Mitchell, Lucian, Heather, Jordan, and I. Mitchell and . . . well, you know, died above the world, leaving us three. The disturbing part—none of the original quest members were the ones to survive. When Mitchell had chosen his team, he’d literally doomed every one of them. Except perhaps Sierra, but I had something planned for her.

    “The deities shall return, but their replacements shall fade.” This was the real trick line of the prophecy. The deities who had returned were coming back from over a two-thousand year retirement. The original gods of day and night, Hemera and Nyx. The “replacements” were Apollo and Artemis, who had eventually become the gods of the sun and the moon. And they had, by all definitions, faded.

    “And the leader must stay as debt to the betrayed.” This was the line that none of us had ever been able to interpret. Sure, we thought that our leader, Mitchell, would somehow be trapped somewhere, but no details as to why or how.

    But no, it wasn’t for our leader at all. It was for someone who had recently revealed their leadership status. The leader of all the traitors at Camp Half-Blood.

    Sierra.

    I stood up, surprising Heather, and looked at Jordan. He nodded, and turned to face her, wrapping his arm around her.

    I walked slowly, crunching the hardened flakes of snow and ice under my feet. Sierra was still lying on the temple roof, holding herself in a ball. Hard, frozen pools of blood surrounded her, one or two freezing her long hair to the rock beneath.

    Before I had reached her, however, I kneeled down, and felt something long and thin. I’d noticed that it had rolled away when he’d collapsed, dropping the wand.

    I curled my cold, numbing fingers around the polished wood, and stood up. I stepped closer towards Sierra, who was clearly unconscious. I gripped the base of the wand, and pointed it at her still body. Lucian hadn’t taught me the full extent of how his magic worked, but he’d told me about how it was mostly anything you could imagine.

    “Wake up!” I managed to say, my vocal cords more stiff than I’d thought. Fortunately, there was a quick flash of reddish pink light, and Sierra sat bolt upright, yanking her hair from the frozen blood, which seemed to cause her a lot of pain.

    “Sierra,” I said, with more volume this time. She looked at me, smiling for an instant, then frowned when she saw the wand in my hand.

    “He’s dead, huh?” she said, and another quick wave of powerful rage came over me, lasting just long enough for me to scream just one word.

    “STAY!”

    Recoiling slightly from nothing more than my volume, she laughed. No flash of light had occurred this time, and I thought I’d failed, when she stood up, and attempted to take one step forward, only to find herself moving as if on a treadmill. To be honest, I hadn’t really been one hundred percent sure what “stay” would entail, but this was satisfying enough.

    “It’s odd—but not your most fool-proof plan ever, Monroe.”

    I realized with a surprise that I’d never even told her my last name. Of course, she’d been working with my dad for years. Perhaps I came up once or twice.

    Still, the small amount of anger that came from thinking about my father was enough to put a smile on my face.

    “Even you can’t hold a spell forever.”

    “Maybe not,” I said, looking at the wand. “But this uses Hecatian Magic. Once it’s there, it doesn’t go away until it’s removed by the same source.”

    Anything left of a smile on her face disappeared as she grasped the truth of what I’d said. I suppose she knew how Hecatian Magic worked.

    My smile grew.

    “Goodbye, Sierra. Sooner or later you’ll freeze to death. And no, neither Chronos or Chaos will come to help you. Why would they save a demigod girl who can never leave the spot where she is?”

    He blank expression changed to one of total fear. There was even a begging look in her eyes. For a second, I believed she would try to make some kind of appeal to my moral sense. However, I didn’t have a lot of morality left in my system now.

    Speechless, Sierra sat back down, and didn’t move again.

    I turned, and saw that Heather and Jordan were both watching me. Jordan was showing a hint of a grin, and Heather’s jaw muscles seemed to have conflicting emotions between what had happened to Lucian and Sierra.

    I started walking toward them, and reached him half way there. I lowered myself, and, my hands shaking now, grabbed the zipper of his jacket. Pulling down, I saw that beneath, he was still wearing his Hecate Strait shirt.

    The sight brought more tears to my eyes, but they didn’t sting like before. Instead, they actually started to relieve some of the stress. I had already accepted that my mind was simply in a state of shock, and the real pain would come later, but for now, I was going to do what I had to do.

    Thinking of Lucian’s face the first time he’d donned the shirt, I tucked the wand into an inside pocket of the jacket and zipped the shirt back up. I reached outwards towards Aether’s collapsed figure, and grabbed my spear. Looking at the spearhead, I saw that the god’s golden blood had seeped into the engraved alpha, while the rest had flown out. Tapping the center stone of the letter, the weapon shrank, becoming nothing more than an old, jagged triangle with a golden blood-stained A in the center, and a thin silver chain.

    I leaned over, until I was looking down at Lucian’s face. His last moments had him screaming silently, yet he almost looked at peace. A warm teardrop fell onto his nose, melting a few frost flakes that had collected on his cheeks.

    Lifting his head, I slipped the spearhead necklace over him, and put in on his chest. I knew it would come back to me in a few hours, but I wanted him to have it while he could.

    I turned to face Heather and Jordan, but once again found her looking behind me. Wondering what other horrific thing could be happening now, I spun my head around, and instead of seeing something terrible, it filled my heart with a strange sense of hope.

    “Ms. H?” I asked, then corrected myself. “Hecate?”

    “Yes, Alex,” she said in a calming, almost enchanting voice. She’d never said anything in this voice when she’d taught science at my school. “Hello Heather, Jordan.”

    “Hello, ma’am,” Jordan said, and stood up, helping Heather do the same.

    “Lu . . . Lucian’s—” Heather began, but Hecate raised her hand.

    “It’s all right, dear. I know what has happened.”

    Jordan wiped the snow out of his hair, leaving his eyebrows white, and stepped forward, pulling Heather along as well.

    “I don’t mean to sound rude, ma’am, but, why exactly are you hear?”

    Hecate gave a small chuckle, but looked down for a moment and saw Lucian lying on the ground, regaining her serious face.

    “Why, Jordan, I’m here to bring you three home.”

    * * *
    As soon as we appeared in Camp Half-Blood, Hecate motioned for all the surrounding campers to step aside, letting us be. Many of them started pointing and laughing, and while Heather and I were completely shocked, Jordan spoke up.

    “We’re not being returned for running away,” he said, and I realized what they all had thought was happening. They didn’t know what we’d been through. As far as anyone here knew, the quest was still ongoing and we had been caught after escaping, brought back to receive a punishment.

    “Five campers are dead, and one doesn’t have much time left.”

    That shut everyone up. Ahead of us, Chiron stepped out of the sky-blue Big House, followed by Dionysus, wearing a leopard skin bath robe and matching slippers. In his hand was a steam cup of coffee, but he looked at if as if he hated everything that coffee stood for.

    “Is this true, Hecate?” he questioned, and more campers started to appear, trying to see who was still alive, many struck with horror when they saw who was gone.

    “Yes, Chiron, it is.”

    There was a collective gasp from the whole crowd, but they were silenced when Chiron raised his hand. Even Heather seemed to straighten up when he made this gesture.

    “Then,” he said in a loud, clear voice, as if to make it so all the other demigods could hear. “We have much to discuss.”

    * * *
    It took us almost three hours to tell the whole story to Chiron, who remained mostly silent, and Dionysus, who spent most of the time in the kitchen, mumbling about stupid Half-Blood sob stories.

    When I told Chiron about what had happened with Xavier at Mt. McKinley, he paused me.

    “After the ceremony was done,” he asked, “did you ever see Evelyn?”

    “No,” I replied. “We never saw her as Chaos.”

    After a long pause, Chiron spoke.

    “Chaos has not fully risen through Evelyn, then. True, we’ve never dealt with Primordial Gods before, but no great villain ever comes back to life, and fails to make an appearance at her own fortress.”

    We finished the story, and once we were done, Chiron stood up.

    “You should know that the Olympians have officially inducted Hemera and Nyx to the council, as Mr. D has informed me.”

    “Well, with what they said about the start of war, I doubt that there was any choice,” I said.

    “Oh yeah, that was fun,” Dionysus said, entering the room with yet another full mug. “Them telling about the war. You see, Zeus and Poseidon didn’t think it was so important to tell us. So, once the other two arrived at the emergency meeting, they spilled the beans for us. Lot of chaos, if you ask me. Lots of chaos. Chaos.”

    “Thank you,” Chiron said shortly. “Thank you, Mr. D.”

    He bowed spilling the contents of the cup onto the table in between the two couches. “My pleasure.”

    Then he stepped out of the room, and Hecate, who had been standing the whole time, turned toward the empty doorway as well.

    “I think it would be best if I left now, as well,” she said, and Chiron simply nodded.

    “I agree. In fact, if you two don’t mind . . .” He looked at Jordan and Heather, “I’d like to have a word with Alex.”

    They both rose, slightly surprised, but stepped out, nodding. Jordan closed the door behind him, giving me a quick thumbs up as he left.

    “Alex,” he began, and I braced myself for what he was about to say. “I cannot deny that I am not happy with you, Heather, and Jordan running away from camp without permission. However, I understand now the way you feel. How destiny propelled you, as if all the pieces had been laid out before you, ready for you to accept fate, and give in to it. It is because of this that I feel you must be the one to know.”

    I gulped. “Know what, sir?”

    “About Chronos and Chaos. About Apollo and Artemis. None of this was meant to happen. Destiny was changed . . . by you.”

    “I’m sorry?”

    “I doubt that Chronos meant for Hemera and Nyx to join the Olympian council now. In fact, I doubt it was supposed to happen for months, at least until the winter meeting.

    “This was an act of war. You have cause Chronos to call an emergency meeting of the gods. True, Zeus was alerted to the beginning of a war previously, but it was never meant to start now.

    “You say that you understand destiny. This is most likely true—after all, Chronos, as god of the zodiac, has powers over fate. Those born as a pisces, virgo, or any other has traits given to them by birth. This is the time of Libra, of balance. Good and evil destinies are combined now, weakening and strengthening each in different ways. I believe it is solely because of this that as many of you survived as you did. It is also why Chaos was not able to regain full power and return to the living. Fate bends around you, Alex, as you bend fate yourself. Your destiny isn’t laid out. You are one of many people who’s death can come at many times. The fates cannot cut your lifeline. Only you can. The Acephali that attacked you when you first learned of the gods was not planned. It truly was by chance you met. This will happen to you many times. It will be hard to know what is of importance, and what is part of a greater plan. You must decide when something is meant to be or not. And that is why I’m asking you what it is you wish to tell me.”

    I’m not sure when he realized I had something to ask him, but I wasn’t very surprised. Everything he’d said so far had made sense, and some things were things I’d suspected myself.

    “Well, sir, I do have something.”

    I told him what I’d been thinking since Mt. McKinley. An idea I’d had that was very unconventional.

    “Alex, there has never been a male oracle before. By the laws of Apollo, there cannot even be—”

    “But Apollo’s laws don’t have meaning anymore!” I blurted out. “I’m sorry. But they don’t. You said that it was because I knew what was meant to be that you asked what I wanted.”

    “Yes, and I believe you do think this is meant for you. However, it may be simply to risky. I think I should consult with our current Oracle before any decision is made.”

    “You said that you wished she could go an have her life, right? This is the chance she needs to have that life!”

    “I will tell you when I know.”

    It was aggravating, but I knew he was right. For the meantime, I should accept that everything had been done to become the Oracle and take on my destiny. Especially since I truly did create my own destiny.

    “For now, I think it would be best to go to lunch.”

    * * *
    At lunch, Chiron told the story to the entire camp, with help from Jordan, Heather, and I. Everyone was silent, even when a cabin learned that one of their own had been killed. I stopped Chiron before he admitted that Sierra had been a traitor, and stood up myself.

    “You should all know that we did learn that Sierra was a daughter of Aphrodite. She’d known, but . . . had never realized what it was. She’d been claimed so young that . . . she hardly remembered at all.”

    It was a lie, and not a particularly good one, but people seemed to believe it anyway. Chiron, Heather, and Jordan looked confused, and Dionysus was busy scarfing down his hamburger and fries, but they didn’t speak up. I nodded at Jordan, who seemed to understand that I needed to say this, and whispered to the others not to say anything. So, I continued.

    “She did, however, say that she wanted to give a message to the people in her ‘group’, I think she called it.” I nodded again at Jordan, who seemed to be trying to hide a smile. Now he knew what I was doing. Chiron also nodded, and Heather sat there, her thoughts mostly elsewhere, but looked content enough.

    “I suppose she was a leader of some club.”

    I could see a few nervous heads turning, and I had to control myself, and not call them out as her fellow traitors.

    “She said that all she wanted you guys to do to recognize her death was to go down to the lake tonight when everyone else is gone, and just have a little moment of silence. And all of you not in her ‘group’, I know you may want to be a part of her remembrance, but it was her last request that you all let if just be her friends. I think we can all respect that.”

    There were murmurs from the campers, and I sat down at the long table in the front of the mess hall. Chiron and Jordan were smiling at me, and Heather even gave me what seemed to be a purposeful nod.

    Afterwards, Chiron finished the story, and everyone separated for their next activity. However, Chiron had excused us from any activities we didn’t want to do until we started to get over everything, so we stayed behind. Dionysus even left, probably to go take a nap at the Big House.

    “That was risky, Alex,” Chiron said, but couldn’t hide his smile.

    “And brilliant. Maybe not all of them will come, but we can at least knock out a good number of them.”

    “What exactly will happen, Chiron?” I asked.

    “Oh, I suppose they’ll be given to the custody of Mr. D. He’s not a big fan of traitors.”

    Chiron allowed us to be alone, and Jordan decided that a good swordsmanship practice session would help him get out a little stress. That left Heather and I.

    We decided to go for a walk around the lake, since no canoeing classes were taking place. At first we both pretended to be looking for a way to trap all the traitors who came later, but it didn’t take long before we just decided to sit and talk.

    We tried to avoid bringing up Lucian in our conversation, but since he’d been our best friend for years now, it was hard.

    “I don’t know if he ever told you like I did, but he really liked you, Heather.” The words didn’t cause as much hurt to me as they had before.

    “He never told me, but I knew.” She smiled. “It was kind of fun to see you two fighting over me.”

    “We never fought over you,” I insisted, and she just laughed. It was good to have a full conversation with her after she’d started going absent-minded for a while.

    “Okay.” She winked at me.

    “We didn’t!”

    “Gotcha” She winked again. “Just so you know, I don’t believe you.”

    “Yeah, I got that.” We both laughed, and I’m not going to lie, it felt really good. I should have felt guilty for experiencing any kind of joy, but I told myself over and over again that my mind wasn’t ready to process it yet.

    “I’m leaving,” she said, and I stopped laughing.

    “What?”

    “I’ll come back. At Christmas. And maybe over thanksgiving.”

    “Why are you leaving?”

    She sighed.

    “I told you before. I’m a demigod scout. I need to go out into the world and find Half-Bloods. After all, that’s how we found you.”

    That’s how they found me. They were doing their jobs. Still, there was no denying we truly did become best friends. Even if they were probably better friends. They were definitely better friends.

    “Did you ever tell him you liked him?”

    Heather didn’t say anything. She looked at me, and I chuckled.

    “It’s okay,” I insisted.

    She sighed again. “I never did.”

    We both stayed quiet for a while after that.

    “I’ll be back any time I find a new demigod.”

    “You stayed with me in Dallas for years!”

    “But I came back almost every weekend!”

    “Still.”

    “I promise you, Alex.” She grabbed my hand. “This time I’m going to come back.”

    She leaned over and gave me a quick kiss. For a second I could tell she was thinking that I’d misinterpreted that.

    Before it became too awkward, I smiled.

    “We’re good.”

    She seemed relieved. “We’re good.”

    With that, she stood up, stretched, and started toward the Hermes Cabin. I watched her go, and as I did, I realized that I didn’t know if I’d still be living in the Hermes Cabin. Somehow, I doubted it.

    * * *
    Later that night, Forrest the Satyr came to tell me that Chiron wanted to see me in the Big House. When I arrived, Mr. D was nowhere to be seen. Instead, I walked in and saw Chiron and Rachel standing, talking casually.

    Rachel looked better than the last time I’d seen her. She seemed quite full of life, and I was pretty sure I knew why.

    “Chiron?” I asked, and he replied with two simple words.

    “It’s time.”

    We stepped onto the porch, and Chiron stepped off to the side.

    “Usually, Apollo would conduct this ceremony,” he said. “But under the . . . uh . . . circumstances, I’ll be filling in for him.”

    “You’ve waited too long,” I said. “But I’m here now.”

    Seeing what we were doing, perhaps it was inappropriate for Rachel to bust out laughing.

    “Why did you say that?”

    “What?” I asked. “What was I supposed to say?”

    “Those were the exact words used when Rachel became the Oracle,” Chiron answered.

    “It’s as if you’re literally taking my place.”

    Chiron grunted. “Alex Monroe,” he began, and I had a feeling he was saying what Apollo had said long ago, to add on to what I’d said to Rachel. “You have the gift of prophecy. But it is also a cruse. Are you sure you want this?”

    I couldn’t help but succumb to the instinct telling me to nod. “It’s my destiny.”

    Even though I had the power to bend destiny, as Chiron said, those words could not have felt more true.

    “Do you accept the risks?”

    “I do.”

    “Then proceed.”

    I turned to look at Rachel, who was smiling, like this had all been some giant inside joke.

    Once again I felt some instinct feeding me the words. “I accept this role. I pledge myself to Apollo, God of Oracles. I open my eyes to the future and embrace the past. I accept the spirit of Delphi, Voice of the Gods, Speaker of Riddles, Seer of Fate.”

    I tried to stop myself from speaking of Apollo, but I couldn’t fight the voice in the back of my mind.

    Suddenly, Rachel stopped smiling, and her eyes opened wide. A strange green mist started to surround her, growing thicker and thicker, until it burst off of her skin, and drifted over towards me.

    I was terrified, and I didn’t even dare look at Chiron or the small crowd that was joining him to watch the birth of a new oracle. He was saying something to the others, but I couldn’t focus enough to lip-read.

    The green mist was upon me, and I could feel it trying to soak into my skin, and I panicked when there seemed to be resistance. For a second, I thought that Chiron had been right—I could never be the Oracle if I was a boy! What had I been thinking?

    Finally, however, the green mist completely blocked my vision, and I felt the mist starting to seep into my body. I inhaled the cloud, letting it take hold on me.

    Then, as suddenly as it had started, it stopped, and I felt my legs go limp as the cloud dissolved.

    I could hear someone yelling my name, and the voice sounded like Jordan’s. I tried to respond, but I couldn’t move my lips.

    Finally, I heard Rachel’s voice, and I was able to sit up. There was some applause and sighs of relief, and I felt to pairs of arms hoist me up off the ground. I blinked several times, and I managed to say to Jordan, “I’m okay.”

    “Alex,” he said, his voice shaking violently. “I could see you dying. Your life aura was fading away! I . . . I . . . I thought—”

    “It’s okay, Jordan,” I insisted, but immediately felt that wasn’t true. There was something happening inside me. My vision instantly went black, and I couldn’t hear anything other than my own muffled voice. I had no idea what was happening, but it stopped soon enough.

    “Alex?” Chiron asked, and Rachel laughed.

    “So that’s what I always looked like,” she said with a big grin.

    “What?” I asked, and Jordan pat me on the back.

    “You just gave your first prophecy.”

    I let that sink in for a moment.

    “I . . . I did?”

    “Yep.”

    “Well, what did I say?”

    Now he started to frown, and I knew that whatever I’d said, it wasn’t good.

    “Chiron?” I asked, looking at the horseman. He also looked very serious.

    “Chiron, what did I say?”

    He took a deep breath, then looked at me.

    “The Master of All shall rise once more,
    And the gods shall fade forevermore.
    Destruction will spread, Chaos will thrive,
    And only the enemies shall survive.
    But alas, one hero may ruin it all,
    If the closest to him is the first to fall.
    The hero shall join to avenge his friend,
    But the world shall die if the hero meets his end.”


    * * *
    That's the end of Book One! I'm going to take a short break, but in a few weeks or so, I'm going to start posting chapters from the next book in the series:
    The Fate of the Olympians - Book Two: The Lord of the Sky.
    Last edited by AlexMonroe; 29th September 2012 at 12:44 AM.

  22. #22
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    It's been one year today since I posted the first chapter of The Unknown Hero. I'm honestly very excited to finally be working on The Lord of the Sky. I hope you all enjoy it!

    Fate of the Olympians - Book Two
    The Lord of the Sky

    1
    I Get Bitten by a Vampire

    It was sad realizing that I’d never be able to appreciate the feeling of wind in my face again. Ever since I’d last seen Aether, an ancient Greek God of air with a particular grudge against me and my friends, the wonder that the sky once held had faded. Since that last meeting had involved the death of, well, a very important person, I was actually quite angry at the lifeless wind swirling around me. It also didn’t help that the late January air was almost the exact same temperature as the top of Mt. McKinley, where my father, Chronos, the true Greek God of time, had built a temple to himself, a place which happened to be where Aether and I had faced off, even though that was back in September.

    The wind, however, didn’t seem to deter Jordan, who was steering our flying chariot. Oh, I’ll get back to that. Jordan came with me and Heather, one of my other friends who I have a major crush on—and she knows, to join the group of Half-Bloods sent from Camp to rescue the gods Artemis and Apollo. Yeah, I’ll get back to all of that as well.

    Anyways, Jordan was a son of Hades. For years he’d lived in a small cabin at Camp Half-Blood, the one safe haven for us children of the gods on earth, with two evil older siblings. I mean that literally. Xavier, the eldest, had been working for Chronos, who was the one that kidnapped Apollo and Artemis. And Evelyn, the middle child that had been about 19 or so, was so devoted to Chronos and his leader, Chaos, creator of the universe, that she took on the physical form of Chaos to bring her back. Luckily, though, that meant she would never be returning, and I’d ended up killing Xavier, leaving Jordan to live the free life of a single child. He was kind of quiet, though he never turned down a conversation if I started one. He had a shiny obsidian head of hair that somehow managed to make him look dark and mysterious, even though it didn’t even grow long enough to touch his eyebrows. It was clear that he was trying to maintain a perfect balance between the “normal kid” and “son of the lord of the dead” looks, wearing long cargo pants and a dark blue jacket over a white shirt. Still, he had a gloomy aura that didn’t match his more or less upbeat personality.

    So, getting back to Artemis and Apollo now. About four and a half months ago, my father had used Chaos’s power of space and his own power of time to rip Apollo and Artemis from their bonds to the sun and the moon, taking the gods along with him, and placing them in a strange floating prison above his temple in Alaska. Jordan, Heather, and I, as well as a couple other campers, had gone to Mt. McKinley to rescue them, only for them to be completely destroyed by Chronos in a way that we didn’t fully understand. Still, they were erased from existence, leaving the two evil ancient, or primordial, gods, Hemera and Nyx, with the duties of driving the sun chariot in the day and raising the moon at night. So far, they’d even attended two olympian council meetings, the first of which on the day Apollo and Artemis were destroyed, when they’d been elected into the group as replacements. The second time had been at the biannual solstice meeting on December 21st. Dionysus, a god who had been sentenced to working at Camp Half-Blood due to . . . well, naughty behavior, told Chiron who passed on the message to us that they had each put forward the idea to replace him, as well as the gods Demeter, Hera, and Aphrodite, in the council, claiming that “They simply have no use. Truly, what could we accomplish with a drunk, a farm girl, an narcissistic housewife, and someone who spends all her time—” well, uh, having naughty behavior.

    Ever since, we at Camp Half-Blood have been preparing for a not-so-subtly implied overthrow of the Olympians. We’ve been sending satyrs and demigod scouts out across the country, as well as canada and mexico, looking for more half-bloods to increase our numbers. In fact, Heather had left after we’d returned from Alaska to go find some new recruits. And it just so happened that Jordan and I were on a trip to Detroit to collect a demigod that one of our satyrs, Ivan, had discovered. Thus, the flying chariot.

    Due to the camp’s constant need for transportation of demigods to and from Long Island, where Camp Half-Blood was located, the Athena, Hephaestus, Hecate and Hermes cabins had started combining their efforts into the production of flying chariots. The Athena campers, since their mother had invented the chariot, were in charge of production, and the Hephaestus campers were using their aptitude for metalwork to construct the vehicles, modeling them after traditional Greek chariots from the good ol’ days almost 3,000 years ago. The Hermes and Hecate campers combined their gifts of navigation and magic to help steer and levitate the chariots, especially since my friend who’d been killed last September was a son of Hecate. These chariots, about a dozen or two now finished, were given scout teams, and had been put to work just a few weeks ago. Each had it’s own name, dedicated to a great hero of Greek Mythology, like Heracles or Perseus. Right now Jordan and I were riding in the newest chariot, Bellerophon, which was both our favorite due to the fact that the immortal creature Pegasus, who had been Bellerophon’s partner in battle, had given his life to help us on our mission. And sure, since he was technically a monster he would regenerate after some time, but that could be as long as fifty or even seventy-five years. Plus, the pit where all monsters were condemned after being killed, Tartarus, was not exactly the most up-scale prison in the world. After all, I do mean pit literally.

    “Hey, Alex,” Jordan said, taking me out of the state of thought I’d been in since our departure. “How long has it been?”

    “2 hours, 12 minutes, 39 seconds,” I responded automatically. Being the son of the Greek god of time, I had an internal “body clock” that I could use as a stopwatch, clock, or even calendar. It had proved itself quite useful from time to time, especially the wake-up alarm that I could set simply by thinking of the time I needed to awaken.

    “We must be getting close.”

    I looked over the side of the horseshoe-shaped chariot, and beneath the carved image of a lyre and a snake coiled around a woman’s leg, all I could see was clouds.

    “I guess.”

    “Should we go under for a second to see?”

    “Yeah,” I said, despite the fact that it meant exposing ourselves to monsters and vengeful primordial gods. Luckily, though, mortals wouldn’t be able to see us. A strange force called the Mist would keep them from seeing the truth. Maybe they’d see a falling satellite dish, or even a weird baseball. There was no way to know what they saw.

    Yeah, it confuses me too.

    “‘Kay.”

    Jordan grabbed onto the silver reins that connected to the long celestial bronze compass needle that stuck out from the open end of the chariot, raising them up high, and dipping the nose down. It was really a clever design by the Hephaestus and Athena kids. The bronze needle always pointed in the direction that the chariot left the ground in, guiding the pilot and passengers along a straight line to their destination. At the end, a small spike came up, from which the reins sprang. Whenever the reins were pulled tightly and raised in the hands of a demigod, the chariot leaned down. When they were pulled down, the chariot soared higher.

    After a few short seconds, we dipped underneath the surface of the clouds, and were instantly soaked. The temperature didn’t exactly make the experience more pleasant, either.

    However, it took only a little while to pop out of the bottom, at which point Jordan let the reins go slack, and they would’ve fallen down, connected just to the end of the celestial bronze point, but the special, Hecatian Silver link in the middle was stopped protective magical border, acting like a hook stringing the silver reins across to the spike. If anything with magical Greek properties, including half-bloods, tried to go over the side, they’d be caught by the border around the vehicle. Luckily, the border was a foot or so away from the left and right sides of the chariot, giving riders enough room to look down over the sides.

    Jordan and I both quickly turned our heads, looking for signs of Detroit beneath us. There was definitely a large city beneath us, but I’d never seen Detroit, and as far as I new, there weren’t really any famous landmarks to check for.

    “Any idea if that’s it?” Jordan asked, confirming my thought that we probably should’ve looked up Detroit before flying across the country to find it.

    “No—” I began, when suddenly, I saw something beneath us that gave me a sense of Deja Vu before I realized I had actually seen it before. There was a large collection of buildings surrounded by trees on the curb of a busy street. The largest building, which was obviously the office building, had a large marquee of an eagle dressed in green clothing holding a sign on the elevated porch that read “Welcome back from Winter Break, Eagles!” Once, while traveling to Mt. McKinley last year, I’d had a weird dream in which I’d seen this exact school in early autumn, when it suddenly went into a blur of movement, where kids walked along the sidewalk in and out of the building hundreds of times, the letters on the marquee were no more than flashes of dark on an illuminated canvas. Leaves had fallen instantly from trees, getting covered with snow, when kids stopped coming, before it started to be melted down, likely by maintenance workers, for the kids that were coming back from Winter Break. I’d only realized that last part now, after reading the sign. The strangest thing was, I looked back down and saw nothing more than a faint image of a building that could have been the school. Could that small view of the rooftop have triggered that vision?

    “Jordan,” I said, my voice shaking from anxiety and excitement. “This is definitely where we’re supposed to be.”

    * * *
    I realize that of course, anyone who says something like that is going to be met with a very confused reaction, but all it took was a quick reminder about my hereditary connection to fate for Jordan to give me a confident nod and raise the reins, taking us lower. After all, I did remind him who was the first male to ever host the spirit of the Oracle of Delphi, due to my power to comprehend destiny.

    The turbulence we met on the way down couldn’t have been Jordan’s fault, since I was the one who’d said that we needed to land the chariot. Still, to this day he apologizes.

    It wasn’t very fun, after all. I still have the scars to prove that.

    We had gotten half of the way to the ground when I could finally start to see more of the school below us. Sure enough, the marquee said the same welcome message, which distracted me enough to somehow ignore the silhouette of a woman flying up from the building towering next to us and over the other side of the chariot. In fact, neither Jordan or I discovered her presence until she crashed down on our flying cart, sending it rolling over and over as it fell. Completely unknowing what was happening, we each just held onto the sides of the chariot, not really wanting to test to see if the protective cage we were in had a top. As we fell, I could just barely see the woman above us, barely even recoiling from the impact, over my dizziness and the fact that the chariot was spinning like a wheel now.

    Freeze! I roared in my head, after regaining my thoughts. Suddenly, everything was still. It was a skill I’d perfected relatively quickly after learning I was a demigod right after my thirteenth birthday in mid September. I’d even continued practicing it at camp, to the point where it hardly even took a noticeable effort to activate. However, as time (well, as much time as I could feel when real time was frozen) passes, it becomes substantially harder to even slow time.

    The chariot was, fortunately, right-side-up when I’d stilled time, thank gods, so I simply stood up in place and grabbed Jordan, and tied the long silver reins in a harness around his chest, arms, and legs, and curled him up into the fetal position. It was possible that he’d freak out once time was restored, realizing that he’d been tied up, but since he’d been my guinea pig when practicing, it was likely that he would understand this was my doing and trust me.

    I started the feel the familiar tugging in my gut from the strain of holding back the entire time/space continuum, and decided to work faster. There were two possible ways to go about this—I could get the chariot to break through the windows of the skyscraper to our right, which would cost a lot of money in repairs, or I could try something risky. I focused the remainder of my energy on creating a platform of air molecules slowed to the perfect speed in which they condensed, becoming a solid. Due to the energy I was putting into holding time now, I could barely make it big enough for my entire left foot. I stepped onto the platform, and exhaling loudly and exhaustedly, unfroze time.

    Jordan caught on fast and stayed still like I’d hoped he world, and I immediately created another platform of air beneath him and the chariot, causing it to land on the solidified air, leaving Jordan bouncing around inside, before he let himself loose and stood up.

    I now had the energy to make a platform big enough to support both of us, so I solidified more of the air around me, making a circle almost ten foot in diameter. I made a row of stairs leading down to Jordan and the chariot, and after barely even pointing to it, Jordan stepped on and ran up, relying on the fact that I had actually made invisible stairs there.

    I looked up and saw the woman in a nosedive shooting down at us. I made one last platform of air appear halfway between us, leading to a rewarding Thump when she crashed down on it. Stunned, she stayed still long enough to give me a chance to look at her.

    She had long, wild mahogany hair that spread out in an almost complete circular plane around her head. Her dark brown eyes rested just above her very stubby nose, her colorless lips just beneath. A long, white, and boringly rectangular chiton was wrapped around her, secured by a pale, silver thread around her waist. She was tall and thin, with a skin color that was just like an eggshell, far too white to be natural. Overall, she seemed very . . . plain. She didn’t have any defining traits, good or bad.

    That was before she snapped out of her injured trance, when she raised her head and opened her mouth wide, revealing two razor-sharp, inch long fangs on either side of her jaw.

    I should’ve been scared. I should’ve been petrified on the spot. Instead, I had a different reaction.

    “Really?” I complained, actually judging Greek Mythology a little bit. “Vampires?”

    However, that was when I did get terrified. Before Jordan could answer, the vampire woman jumped to her feet and leapt of the platform, jumping inhumanly far, and crashing through the windows of the building to our left.

    Well, at least I tried not to cause any damage to it before.

    For a second I made the fool’s mistake of thinking she’d be contained for even a brief moment or too.

    Like I said, fool’s mistake.

    The woman shot out of the building at an incredible speed, tackling Jordan and I, knocking us both over the side of our platform. I was forced to release the platforms I’d made so far in order to make another to catch us, unfortunately causing the flying chariot to go tumbling down to the ground, where it shattered loudly below us just a few seconds later. Still, I slowed the air beneath us and we landed relatively softly on the invisible floor.

    The woman’s momentum had propelled her forward even after tumbling into us, causing her to fall down the the ground, which wasn’t such a great distance any more. In fact, if we could get just a little closer . . .

    “Jordan, you know those cartoons where the guys fall out of the sky and crash through a bunch of tree branches?” I asked, panting from the stress.

    “What are you talking—”

    He didn’t get a chance to finish before I broke our platform, making us fall down, before I made my move. I slowed the air around us not quite to the point of solidifying, but enough to make it start to catch us, as if we were falling through water. After about twenty or so feet, a large bush was within jumping distance. I grabbed Jordan’s arm and rolled us both over, causing us to fall another ten feet or so into the thick foliage.

    Thankfully, we were alive and now on the ground. Not-so-thankfully, the bush turned out to be a particularly thorn-filled rosebush.

    Accumulating about six or seven dozen cuts and scratches, Jordan and I managed to struggle our way out of the bush, and looked around. The vampire women had landed somewhere to the right of us, but her exact landing site was hidden by the small forest encircling her.

    “Where’s the school?” Jordan asked innocently.

    “Where do you think?”

    I reached for the small arrowhead I kept on a thin black chain around my neck. On the front there was an iron A, a Greek Alpha, buried in the stone. Pressing on the metal letter, the chain seemingly disappeared and the arrowhead glowed brightly, flashing silver. Within a second, a long, onyx rod grew from the base, until I held a full-size spear in my hands.

    Jordan raised his weapon in a much quicker fashion. He simply reached his right hand into the empty air and not-so-simply summoned his blood red pitchfork out of pure darkness.

    “Meet you there?”

    “Sure,” Jordan said, and we both took off towards the trees, splitting up at the first fork.

    I was immediately grateful to find that the bushes on the ground were not, in fact, rosebushes as well. However, the long, slender branches of the trees smacked me in the face, arms, and legs anyway. Occasionally, an uprooted twig would catch my shoe and I’d either tumble face-first into the dirt or barely manage to catch myself and keep going.

    Okay, so maybe only the first thing happened. Four times.

    Light was just starting to appear on the other side of the forest when I made the mistake of turning to my right. Jordan had done nothing more than snap a fallen stick as he ran out ahead of me when the vampire lady jumped on me, latching onto my hands with her sickeningly long, sharp fingernails. I landed on my back, and was about to knock my head against hers when she did something that, for some reason, I didn’t see coming.

    She leaned over and bit my neck.

    Now, I’ve never been bitten by a leech, but I would imagine it would have been far preferable than this. Perhaps it was just the thought that another human being was drinking my blood that made it all the more horrifying, but it was too much. I tightened my grip on the spear and flicked my wrist, spinning the weapon around in a circle, slicing across her hand, making her jump in the air, yanking her teeth upwards, painfully pulling my neck along with her. After I was in a sitting position and my head moved forward, her fangs ripped out of my flesh, causing me to make a sickened, weak sound like Gna!

    The vampire lady shrieked, spitting my own blood down onto my face. She swiped her claws at me, making two more wounds on the left side of my neck. I leapt up off the ground and swung my spear in an arc over my head, leaving a shallow gash down the woman’s right arm. She reared back and practically howled, before gazing into my eyes with pure rage.

    “Jord—” I started to yell before stepped in on his own. A fireball shot from the end of the trees, bursting on the other side of the vampire lady. She was knocked over, and I ran towards the exit. I turned around to stand behind Jordan, and threw the spear.

    The point landed just under the woman’s left arm, enraging her all the more. She seemed to float up off the ground, grabbed the spear, and hurled it like an olympic javelin thrower at my chest.

    However, a giant wall of dirt raised up out of the soil under our feet. The spearhead cut through the sod, but was slowed enough to stop before it hit me. I locked my arms around the tip of the weapon, and pulled slowly, until I felt the vampire lady grab onto the other end. I was just about to shove the base of it back at her, when she pulled the same move on me.

    The spear came sliding through the earth, piercing my stomach just enough for the blood to come through. Jordan turned his focus from the wall of dirt to help me, and the woman knocked it down on top of us both. She grasped the spear and raised it just above his head, when someone spoke out.

    “Mommy, look! That lady’s got a spear!”

    It surprised all three of us enough to forget what was happening and look to the trail on our right. A man was pushing a stroller along that had a baby girl in a bright orange jacket, and a woman, likely the man’s husband, was holding the hand of a four or five year old boy. They all stopped moving, and the two adults looked over, as well as the little baby in the stroller, who took enough time to pull out her thumb from her mouth to giggle and say “Lotsa dirt!”

    I fully expected the parents to both shake off what their kids had said, since the Mist would protect them, but I almost saw a flicker of . . . recognition?

    Jordan had told me that rarely, a mortal would have the ability to see through the Mist. However, it wasn’t a hereditary thing. Both of the kids had seen what was happening, and if the parents could see it too, could they possibly be fellow demigods? Would they be able to help us?

    Suddenly, both of the adults’ eyes glazed over and they shook their heads.

    “No, Michael. That’s not a spear. That’s called a rake.”

    “No, that’s not a rake,” the boy said. “It’s a spear.”

    “Spear!” the baby girl agreed.

    “Are you boys alright?” the man asked us.

    For a second, I had a small glimmer of hope. Even if those people were just seeing a friendly woman with a rake and two boys that had fallen over, if we said we were in danger, they would help us.

    “No, no, we’re fine,” the vampire woman said, and Jordan and I were still basically frozen on the spot, covered in soil. She then reached out her hand and somehow fit it through my unwilling fist, pulling me up and dusting me off. “Thanks for your concern, though.”

    The man nodded, and the four of them walked away, leaving Jordan and I with a few more seconds of safety from an unwitnessed death.

    I took the opportunity. I jumped into the air, throwing the vampire lady off balance and we both tumbled onto our backs. I picked up the spear and slashed it down at her, but she grabbed the rod and flipped it out of my hand. She advanced on me, but Jordan moved in and hit her back with the pitchfork. The sharp edges of the three cones on the spokes tore three small, bloody holes on the woman’s side. However, while most of her blood was red, just a single drop of something that was as white as liquid paper fell from her wound. When the white blood hit the ground, it turned brown instantly, and the vampire lady collapsed.

    “What did you do?” I asked Jordan, panicked. “Was that some weird son-of-death-god magic?”

    “No,” Jordan said, his voice shaking. “I didn’t do anything to her.”

    She groaned, and after a tiny moment, I remembered. This person is trying to kill us!

    Suddenly, I didn’t care about what had happened to her. I watched as her skin slowly wrinkled, but ignored what seemed to be her slow death, and raised my spear.

    With a quick motion of the wrist, the vampire lady exploded into ochre dust that smelled of sulfur, and I realized why I’d been slightly hesitant to kill her.

    Somehow, I knew. She was becoming mortal. I know that legends say that vampires turned others into vampires by spread their own false blood, and I was truly terrified that it would happen to me. So, if they lost the false blood that made them vampires in the first place . . .

    She’d been turning back into her old, human self. Even though she would’ve been killed anyway, since she was now aging and had been born over two thousand years ago, I’d killed a near mortal.

    “Who was she?” I asked Jordan.

    “Lamia,” he responded. “A woman that got turned into a vampire. That’s all I know.”

    “Ah, useful.” I turned around, and approached the trail. The family was long gone, now, but I could see another couple coming down the path from the other direction. Up ahead, however, I could see just the corner of a cartoon eagle holding up a sign. The time was just past 2:30, meaning there was just about an hour left in the demigod’s school day. There was no time to delay. If we only managed to return to Camp Half-Blood (how could we even do that now without the chariot?) at dismissal, there would be hundreds of other teenagers watching, and that was definitely not a good thing.

    “Come on,” I called, waving my hand at Jordan, telling him to follow me. He returned his pitchfork to its shadowy storage place. I touched the Alpha on my spearhead, and it returned to a small triangular stone with a metal A. The chain dropped down from nowhere, and I put it around my neck, trying to avoid rubbing against my bite wounds.

    “Are you sure this is it? I mean, Ivan didn’t really say where—”

    “This is it, Jordan.” I was more sure than ever. Every once in a while since I’d learned I was a demigod, I would suddenly come across something that for whatever reason my mind knew was important, that it would play a huge role in my life, and I would just stand there gazing at it. And right now, I couldn’t take my eyes off of this sign. “This is going to change everything.”

    And with that, I stepped onto the trail and started towards the school.

    * * *

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Grovine Town, Amori Region
    Posts
    143

    Default

    First of all, congratulations on making it a whole year! I think I started reading in . . . December? Hope you make it until then!

    Okay, like I said, I've been reading for a while, and I've noticed a few things. The first few chapters were very short, plain and simply put. After about, maybe, six or seven, you started to get going, and that's when I started getting hooked. Try to expand the chapters more with dialogue, descriptions, and small storylines that don't necessarily have to do with the entire chapter, but progress the characters a little more. Like Charizardfan900 said a while back:

    Quote Originally Posted by Charizardfan900 View Post
    A bit more character development. In percy Jackson, all the characters were unique. Clarrise for example: Tough and rough on the outside, but caring and loyal on the inside. The fourth book adds so much to her character.
    I think after he said that, you did develop the characters a bit more, but they're still kind of so-so. I hope to see a bit more personality in this second book.

    Another thing: I noticed that you went back and fixed all the mistakes in the first chapter. I'm hoping you do so with the rest because I think it really helped the book get better.

    For the most part, though, I've really enjoyed this. I'm a huge Greek Mythology nerd and I'm not going to lie, I giggled quite a bit when you talked about the confusion between Kronos and Chronos. That's been a pet peeve of mine for years, so thanks for that!

    Good Luck with this next book! I'll definitely be keeping up!
        Spoiler:- FULL EMOTICON JOHTO POKEDEX:

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Camp Half-Blood
    Posts
    36

    Smile

    First of all, thanks Arceus Shadow! I'm definitely planning to last through December.

    I am working more on character development, so I hope that you'll see some more in this second chapter. I do also plan to continue going back and editing the chapters from the first book, so keep checking.

    Now for the actual chapter:

    2
    My Friends are Proven Right

    Once we’d gotten onto the front porch of the school, we realized we had a small problem. Neither Jordan or I had a cell phone, since the satellite signals were basically an open call for monsters in the area, meaning there was no way to actually tell Ivan that we were here. We didn’t know what room he’d be in, and whether that room would even be against the wall of the school or not. For a moment Jordan suggested looking through the windows of the classrooms on the outer rim, but we agreed that the likelihood of any kids seeing either of us, two battle-worn teenagers, was too high. So, we resolved to use the most reliable option there was: Lie.

    We quickly tried to fix each other’s hair and cover our injuries until we looked slightly more presentable, and pressed the buzzer for the door. When the office worker inevitably asked “Who is it?” I stepped up.

    “Allen and Jonathan Glade,” I said, trying to add just the tiniest bit of an English accent to my voice. Back at Camp, Chiron had told me that Ivan had originally lived in England before moving to New York to live at Camp Half-Blood. “We’re Ivan’s brothers.”

    “Just a second . . .” I froze. “We don’t have any record of other Glade children.”

    “We’re homeschooled,” I said quickly, before she could say anything else. “You can ask him.”

    “Alright, you two come on in, and we’ll get Ivan down here.”

    “Thank you, sir.”

    The buzzer rang and I pulled on the door handle. It swung open and I stepped into the small atrium at the entrance. Another glass wall stood parallel to where I was standing, with two doors serving as gateways to the rest of the school. Jordan closed the door behind me, and we both walked toward the square opening on the side that seemed to serve as a drive-through-like window into the school office. Behind the counter on the other side was a middle-aged man in a bright orange jumpsuit, an outfit I wouldn’t have expected a receptionist to wear. His head was bald, adding to the brightness of his general appearance. When he looked up at us, I saw thick smile lines on either side of his nose, which made him seem much friendlier than his dark brown eyes would have led me to believe.

    “We’ve sent someone to bring Ivan down,” he said, and seemed to analyze us. I realized that my dirty blonde hair and Jordan’s pitch black hair didn’t help our story about being brothers, especially since we’d likely have to be twins, based on our age.

    Luckily, he nodded it off and started typing on his computer. I didn’t know how long it would take for Ivan to come, so I decided to stand, awkwardly twiddling my thumbs while Jordan tapped his foot.

    One uncomfortable minute later, Ivan came up to the glass doors and walked through, accompanied by a girl wearing an official-looking Office Administrator badge. His eyes widened when he saw us, but he hid it for the most part. The girl nodded at us, and ran back through the glass doors.

    “Hey guys, what’s up?” he asked, which fortunately did not prove that we weren’t really his siblings. Unfortunately, it seemed that any kind of English accent he’d had was gone now, and I decided not to use fake one anymore.

    “Do you know these two?” the man behind the counter asked, clicking on his mouse five or ten times as he spoke.

    “Yeah,” Ivan answered, and somehow knew to say “They’re my brothers.”

    The man looked satisfied, and turned to Jordan and I. “How can I help you two?”

    “We needed to bring Ivan something,” Jordan said, pulling out a small ziploc bag of golden drachmas, special Greek coins used by the gods and Half-Bloods.

    “I was supposed to bring them for World History,” Ivan continued. “As a prop for my report on Ancient Greece.”

    The man nodded, and I realized that he wasn’t really paying much attention anymore.

    “Okay, well . . .” I didn’t know how we could get Ivan and the demigod out now. Sure, the man wasn’t really paying attention, but it still wouldn’t be easy to just go collect another child and have us all sneak out.

    Then I saw the man in the cloak. He was walking slowly down a hall toward us in a way that wouldn’t have seemed suspicious if he hadn’t been covered in black fabric from head to toe. However, the strangest thing was that he didn’t seem dark. In fact, it seemed like his black clothing was barely hiding a shimmering light source buried beneath. Instantly I was sure he was a Greek figure, good or bad, and I raised my hand toward my neck.

    Jordan and Ivan noticed immediately.

    “What is it?” Jordan whispered, and I turned my head in the direction of the man, who was now only a dozen or two yards away. He gasped quietly, and Ivan turned around to look at him, and he gasped louder.

    “Professor Aster!” he said, catching the attention of the man in the office window.

    “Are you boys still here?” he questioned. Then, proving that he was not in fact paying full attention, he said “Get to class, all of you.”

    Jordan looked to me, and I nodded rapidly. We all stepped toward the glass doors, passing onto the other side, where Professor Aster was standing. I still couldn’t see much of his face, but it seemed to be speckled with what seemed to be orange-gold glitter.

    “Ivan,” he said, and it was all I could do not to chuckle. His entire outfit had led me to believe that this deep-voiced man meant business, when in reality it sounded like he had inhaled quite a few helium balloons just a minute ago. “Good to see you again.”

    “And you, sir,” Ivan said, his voice actually sounding relieved, and even joyful.

    “You two,” his voice, despite its squeaky tone, was very serious. “I’ve never met either of you. Are you new students?”

    “N—No, uh, sir,” Jordan said, and it was clear he was trying not to laugh as well. “We’re Ivan’s brothers. We came to help him with a . . . project.”

    “Ah, I see.” Professor Aster raised his bulky, chocolate-brown hands to his head and pulled back the dark hood hiding his face. Beneath, I could see that the orange-gold spots were bright freckles on his otherwise shadowy skin. His eyes were unnaturally white, with disturbingly dark, black eyes. If he had eyebrows or hair, I couldn’t see them, as the canvas of his face was so shadowy. “Perhaps you’d like to stop by later,” he said to Ivan. “To catch up, once you’re done with this project.”

    “Of course,” Ivan agreed, and Professor Aster turned and left without another word, his black cloak fluttering behind him.

    “Who was that?” Jordan asked after the man was a good distance away.

    “Professor Aster,” Ivan answered, his voice back to normal. “He was me and Helen’s science teacher last year. That was how I found her.”

    “Wait, so the half-blood’s name is Helen?” I questioned, realizing that we still didn’t really know anything about this demigod.

    “Yeah, Helen Just. And on the subject of the mission, how did you guys even know what school to come to? I forgot to say in the message to Camp—”

    “Alex knew,” Jordan said. “He doesn’t really know how, but he knew. Fate demigod thing.”

    “Ah. Well then. So, Professor Aster. Last semester, there was an . . . incident. During fifth period one day, a couple of kids passed out in his class, and the nurses said that they’d inhaled too much helium. Then they discovered that the helium was coming from Professor Aster’s breath, and he was fired because of his helium addiction, which he was feeding with the helium supplies in the chemistry lab.”

    “Then why is he back?” I asked.

    “I have no idea.”

    “So when he said ‘catch up’,” Jordan began, “what exactly did he mean?”

    “Well, being a satyr, I was always his helper whenever we did environmental experiments, so I kind of became his personal assistant.”

    “Okay.” I said, wanting to get back on subject. “That’s weird, sure, but let’s talk about Helen.”

    “Right,” Ivan continued. “We’re in sixth period right now, so she should be in the Gym.”

    “Where’s that?” Jordan asked.

    “It’s on the other side of the school. Come on, I’ll show you.”

    We didn’t pass any other teachers or students in the hall along the way, luckily, until we reached the Gym. Inside, there were at least two dozen kids playing a game of soccer, and one was even dressed up like an official referee. The coach, a well-built woman, was sitting on the bleachers right next to the door we were behind, holding a clipboard and a whistle. Every once in a while, she’d write something down and scratch her scalp, always managing to get a dot of blue ink on her forehead.

    Ivan pushed open the doors relatively loudly, yet the coach didn’t show any sign that she’d heard us. We even got within just two or three feet of her before she looked up. It was clear she was confused by me and Jordan’s unfamiliar faces, but she seemed to know Ivan, which satisfied her.

    “How can I help you?” she asked, her voice actually fitting her appearance, unlike Professor Aster.

    “Could we have Helen Just?” Ivan asked innocently. “Um . . . Professor Aster wanted to see her.”

    “Professor Aster?” The coach seemed as bewildered as Jordan and I had been the first time we’d heard about the man. “What are you talking about?”

    “He’s come back for a visit today,” Ivan answered. “He wanted to catch up with all four of us.”

    The coach looked confused, and pretty reluctant, but she sighed. “Get him to sign a note and bring it to me. Then you can take her.”

    Ivan nodded, and telling me and Jordan to stay where we were, he went to find Professor Aster. Once again unsure how long it would take, we both remained standing.

    Luckily, it didn’t take very long this time. Ivan returned in just a minute or two with a pink sticky note, and handed it to the coach. She nodded and blew her whistle, making all the kids pause their game.

    “Helen,” she called, and the girl dressed as the referee turned away from the other students she’d started talking to, looking at us. She seemed confused for a second, until she spotted Ivan, and smiled.

    “Coming,” she said sweetly, and waved to her friends as she ran over. Her grin widened as she came closer, and when she reached us, she hugged Ivan and shook both me and Jordan’s hand.

    “Is it time?” she asked, and I realized that Ivan had told her what was happening. How much she knew, I wasn’t sure, but she clearly understood that whatever it was, it was exciting.

    “Yeah, it’s time,” I said. “I’m Alex.”

    “And I’m Jordan.”

    “Nice to meet you both.”

    “Come on,” Ivan said, and gestured for us to follow. “Let’s get going.”

    “Bye Coach Kemp,” she called to the woman as she ran ahead of us into the hallway.

    “Thank you,” Jordan said to the coach, and we followed Helen out the door.

    “Oh my gods,” Helen said once we’d met her in the hallway, showing that she did, in fact, know about the gods. “I can’t believe it’s finally time to go to Camp!”

    “Wait a second,” Jordan interrupted. “Ivan, how much does she know?”

    “She knows pretty much everything,” he answered.

    “You told her everything? Do you know how dangerous that is?”

    “Yeah, but—” he began, but Helen cut him off.

    “Ivan said I was a minor demigod. Not even a child of an Olympian. My aura wasn’t strong enough.”

    “You do know a lot,” I said.

    “Yeah. So, are we going? How are we getting there? Should I call my aunt and uncle first to let them know? Or do they already know?”

    “Wait a second, Helen,” Ivan stopped her. “We need to go see Professor Aster first.”

    Now Helen really came to a halt. “Professor Aster?”

    “Yeah, he’s here for a day,” Ivan answered. “And I told Coach Kemp we’d be going to see him to get you out.”

    “Okay, I guess,” she said, still confused, and seemed to realize that she was still in her referee outfit. “Oh, I need to change first. You guys wait here.”

    Her excitement seemed to have come back, and she skipped down the hallway before turning into the locker room.

    “She’s rather energetic,” Jordan noted.

    “Not normally. She’s just excited to be going to Camp. You can imagine how awesome it is to start training to be a hero.”

    “Eh,” I said, remembering how I’d felt when I’d learned about my parentage. “Being a demigod’s not really fun sometimes.”

    “Well don’t tell her that. Better for her to be looking forward to what’s coming.”

    “True,” I agreed.

    Helen came back out wearing cargo pants and a Rainbow Dash T-Shirt, as well carrying a green duffel bag.

    “Ivan told me to pack my supplies,” she explained. “Now let’s go talk to Professor Aster.”

    * * *
    Professor Aster, who had seemingly taken up temporary residence in his old classroom, greeted us at the door, welcoming us inside. The walls were covered in star charts with a few laying in front of windows, the light pouring through the small dots in the black plastic, littering the floor with spots. Many of the constellations on the charts I recognized, like Leo, Cancer, and Sagittarius, while a couple were literally alien to me. The few spots of barren wall, mostly at the front of the classroom, were kept mostly in darkness. The entire area seemed like a rectangular planetarium, and I almost didn’t want the lights to be turned on.

    Once Helen did flick the switch though, all five of us sat down, Professor Aster sitting in the teacher’s chair, and us four kids sitting in the front row of desks.

    “How’ve you been?” Ivan asked politely, but was met with a cold stare from Aster, who had now taken off his black cloak and exposed his dark gray buttoned shirt and suit pants. It couldn’t have been comfortable at all, but I was still pretty sure the dark colors were there simply to balance out whatever he was hiding.

    When he spoke, his voice, though high-pitched and squeaky, was intimidating.

    “Formalities. Why do we have them?” he questioned angrily, and rose from his desk. “I was fired for nothing more than having helium in my breath. Has anyone ever punished you for breathing, Mr. Glade? I’ve been fine personally. But not all of us. Oh no.”

    “All of us?” I asked, and immediately wished I hadn’t.

    “I don’t answer questions, Alexander.” That was bad. For as long as I could remember, the only people who actually called me Alexander were the gods, and I doubted any of them that liked me would be speaking so angrily. “Ivan’s was a matter of manners. As for other questions, I won’t answer. I’ll simply say what I need to, and if it’s not enough for you, I’m so terribly sorry.”

    I grabbed my necklace and ripped it off my neck, pressing the Alpha and summoning my spear. I stood up, and pointed the head at Aster. I could hear Helen gasping, but I didn’t turn around.

    “Go on.”

    “There’s no need for that, Alexander.”

    “Who are you?”

    “That’s a question.”

    “Fine. Tell me who you are.”

    “Interesting approach, but—” Aster stood up straight, and waved his hand, drawing something like a Japanese throwing star from thin air. “I’m afraid commands are far worse than questions.”

    He stepped toward me, and Jordan jumped up from one of the desks, along with Ivan. Helen stayed glued to her seat, watching in horrified awe.

    “Professor Aster!” Ivan yelled angrily, and pulled three seeds from his pocket, each a different shade of purple. “What are you doing?”

    Aster’s eyes flashed gold, and I saw a flicker of light coming through the holes in his buttoned shirt. I realized that I had, in fact, been correct. All his dark clothing was merely to mask something beneath. Something supernaturally bright.

    “Questions!” he roared, and his squeaky voice didn’t make him sound any less terrifying this time. He raised his throwing star, which shimmered in the sunlight coming through the star charts, and was about to throw it when Jordan headbutted him in the stomach, knocking him to the ground. Ivan ran to Helen and took her hand, pulling her out of the desk and leading her to the door.

    “Get Helen to the front of the school!” I ordered him, an escape plan barely formed in my head. Ivan nodded, and he and Helen disappeared down the hallway as the door slammed behind them.

    When I turned back to the fight, Jordan was clutching his forehead and Aster was still down on the ground. His throwing star had skid across the floor, leaving him unarmed, though I wasn’t sure what kind of power he was keeping under his dark clothes.

    “Helios?” I questioned loudly, and Aster roared.

    “Helios? I am no simple sun god!”

    He leapt up off the ground, bumping into Jordan and causing him to tumble over onto one of the front desks. I was about to throw my spear when Professor Aster exploded—literally. A wave of light shot from his body, blinding me temporarily. I couldn’t see anything for the first few seconds, and I realized that I was practically staring at the sun. If I didn’t look away, my eyes would completely burn.

    I turned around, and my vision started to return. I didn’t dare to look back at Aster to see what had happened exactly, but I could hear him screaming furiously. I saw one of the star charts catch flame, and wondered how the fire alarm hadn’t gone off already, as I was quite sure Aster was now a flaming spirit behind me.

    “How have you survived without them?” Aster asked, his voice now flickering just like a campfire, and I felt the heat of his breath fall on me, singing my the back of my neck. “Those two were the only ones to realize my role in all this.”

    Once Aster was done, and my neck was officially sunburnt, I remembered the realization he was talking about. Heather and him had been told me about the god who was likely bringing messages to Chronos and Chaos—the god who was able to spy on everything we were doing through the stars.

    “Astraeus!” I shouted, and almost instantly, the severity of Aster’s blaze lessened. The star chart fire burned itself out, and I could hear Jordan breathing over the cackle of the flames.

    Astraeus laughed. “I’m surprised you didn’t expect to meet face to face sooner or later.”

    I was surprised I hadn’t realized who he was earlier. After all, it made perfect sense. His helium breath—all stars use hydrogen to make helium. The light he’d been hiding—how else could he keep everyone he met from losing their vision as soon as they looked at him? Even the Mist couldn’t keep mortals from seeing blinding light.

    “You’ve been a spy for my father and Chaos this whole time, like they said, haven’t you?”

    “Alexander,” Astraeus said, and I finally turned back around to see that he had somehow gained a golden breastplate and chain mail legs and sleeves, which let out soft white light from his torso. Apparently he’d left Jordan alone, but I tried to hide my relief from him, so as not to draw attention to that fact. “That is a question.”

    “You have. And you can’t tell me any answers or else Chronos and Chaos will deal with you—” and, just to make it a question, “Right?”

    Astraeus simply stared at me, the light coming from the holes in his armor waving around hypnotically, something that must have come in handy when he was interrogating demigods.

    “Right?”

    “Yes. Fine. But it’s no matter. I’ve gained all the information I need.”

    “Information?” I said, completely confused. “We haven’t said anything.”

    “Oh, you have,” Astraeus said, and his light began shining blood red. “And you’re going to give us much more.”

    He lunged at me, but there was a quick swinging sound behind me and before I could turn around, something flew into Astraeus’s mouth and he tumbled to the ground.

    I twisted my head around and saw Ivan standing there like an action hero, two of the purple seeds in his left hand. I looked back at Astraeus and saw foam gushing from his nearly closed lips. I remembered something I’d learned about World War II, how the nazis had kept deadly cyanide pills on them at all times that would cause them to foam at the mouth when eaten. My stomach dropped.

    “Did you . . . were those . . .” I stuttered, but Ivan waved me off.

    “Hypno Seeds. They look deadly, but they just knock the person out for a few hours. That foam’s just the chemicals reacting with his spit.”

    “Pleasant.” I stepped over Astraeus’s unconscious body and over to Jordan, who was breathing heavily.

    “You okay man?” I asked, helping him sit up slowly.

    “Yeah . . . just . . .” he coughed for a little while. “Just a little . . . winded.”

    “Alright.” I faced Ivan once again. “Where’s Helen?”

    “She’s waiting on the front porch of the school. I told her to stay there, and with everything that just happened, I don’t think she’s going to want to move anyway.”

    I nodded, and Ivan started towards the door.

    “What’re we going to do about Aster?” Jordan asked me.

    “Astraeus,” I correct. “And as far as I can see, there’s nothing we can do. He’ll be out for a few hours, which is as long as any trap we could’ve made for him would last. I think it’s best if we just get going.”

    “Okay.” He slid of the desk and, leaning on me for support, stepped over Astraeus. Together we stumbled down the halls, lead by Ivan, who came back once we realized we needed help, and ended up passing by the same middle-aged man in the office, who simply said “Have a nice day,” as we walked out with our injuries. Helen was still sitting on one of the green benches on the porch, and after a moment, she snapped out of her stress-induced trance and we helped her up.

    “Thanks,” she said, but wasn’t very talkative after that. I remembered my first experience with a greek bad guy—the Headless Horseman or an “Acephali” as Heather had called it had ridden into my school the day after my thirteenth birthday. I could easily understand Helen’s reaction.

    “So . . . now what?” Jordan asked, and we had to explain to Ivan that our flying chariot had been destroyed in an attempt to save ourselves from Lamia.

    “Well, I have an idea,” I said, and grabbing Helen’s small green duffel bag, pointed at the forest Jordan and I had landed in. Once again, I had an unexplainable sense that the forest was where we all needed to go. Just as the oracle’s spirit had told me that this school was the place to be, it was telling me that the answer to our current problem was in those trees.

    Without elaborating on what I’d said, I started walking towards the forest, with Jordan, Ivan, and Helen trailing behind. None of us spoke, but I could tell that Jordan knew exactly why I was leading us back.

    Once we reached the opening in the trees where we’d come out before, I could see exactly what the oracle’s spirit had been drawing me to.

    In the middle of a clearing just twenty or so paces ahead of us, there was an auburn-haired girl in a long, green dress that seemed to be made of a patchwork of leaves. From the instant I saw her, I could see that she had been watching us, eagerly waiting for us to appear. After all, for the past two months, the forest at Camp had been our meeting place.

    “Laurel!” I cried, and ran towards her, wrapping my arms around her tightly. After dealing with a vampire and an aggressive god of stars, I was more than happy to see someone who not only reminded me of the safe haven that was Camp Half-Blood, but might actually be able to help us get back there.

    “Alex!” she said, and embraced me as well, her hair smelling sweet, like fresh honey.

    I’d met Laurel on the quest to Mt. McKinley last year, when she’d made a very strange introduction while I was getting changed in a Virginia grove. After she helped us out a little bit later on the quest, we’d become friends, and since my return near the end of October, she’d become one of my closer friends, due to the fact that Heather went to search for more demigods, and Jordan, being in the Hades Cabin at Camp, had a different schedule from me. So, whenever I was doing some outdoor activity, Laurel would join me. The only problem was that Laurel was a Dryad, a tree nymph, meaning that she could only be about fifty yards away from her host tree, a Mountain Laurel. She had the ability to move her tree through the soil using a powerful magical technique called Chlorokinesis, or the ability to manipulate plants with her mind.

    Actually, there were too problems. Laurel, like all Mountain Laurels, was poisonous. Sure, I think it goes without saying that I would never eat Laurel, but if I spend too much time near her tree, the pollen from the flowers could get into my system and potentially kill me. Which is why, for the most part, she tried to keep her tree away from people.

    “How did you find us?” I asked as the three others arrived.

    “Hey Laurel,” Jordan said.

    “Jordan!” she said excitedly, and gave him a hug too. She was pretty much the only nature spirit I knew who didn’t get creeped out by the children of Hades.

    “New friends!” She ran over and hugged Ivan and Helen at the same time, accidentally restricting their throats with her arms.

    When she finally stepped back, she turned back towards me.

    “The Hephaestus campers said that the chariot you guys had sent out a distress signal. They were going to send another chariot, but I volunteered to come get you guys instead!”

    Ivan opened his mouth to say something, but Laurel suddenly ran past him, dashing towards a rather blandly colored little bird, which flew away just before impact.

    “Shoot,” Laurel said, snapping her fingers. “I haven’t gotten to hug a bird in months! Stupid winter . . .”

    “Hug a bird?” Ivan questioned.

    “Laurel,” I said, and she hopped over to me with great strides, holding her arms out like Superman

    “Yes, Alex?” she said, softly nudging me with both fists when she stopped.

    “You said you came to get us? How exactly?”

    “Oh, Alex,” she chuckled, grabbing a leaf from her dress and putting it behind her right ear like half of a laurel wreath. Heh, laurel wreath. “You know I can move my tree! How else would that have gotten here?” She pointed away from the path, and I saw the tall, skinny, flowering tree that had seemed to be following me since my arrival at Camp Half-Blood.

    “I know, but how exactly—” Laurel put her finger up against my lips, darting her eyes at Ivan.

    “Let him figure it out,” she whispered, winking.

    Ivan did seem to be thinking. “Phytokinesis!”

    “Chlorokinesis,” Laurel corrected, and Ivan shrugged.

    “Still, how does that help us get—” Jordan started, but Laurel put her other finger up to his mouth.

    “Come on, Ivan,” she said, sounding overly encouraging. “You’re a nature spirit too!”

    He straightened up. “You can do that?”

    Laurel seemed to understand completely. “Of course! You could to, if you mastered the technique.”

    “Technique?” I asked through Laurel’s index finger. She nodded vigorously, and I could tell she was getting very excited.

    “Transpetalporting!” she exclaimed, and lost me completely. “I came up with that name myself!”

    “Ah,” I said, back on track. “Continue.”

    “So, basically, I move all you guys like plants!”

    “How?” Ivan asked, clearly intrigued just as much as the rest of us. Even Helen seemed to be paying attention now.

    “Well, it’s really simple, actually,” she said, and I was very sure it wouldn’t be. “I make four giant flowers that you can all fit in, and once you’re each crammed inside, I shoot you all through the soil to Camp Half-Blood. With some powerful Chlorokinesis . . .” she looked at Ivan. “It should just take about a second for the plants to transport.”

    Well, at least I was right.

    “Laurel, I don’t think that’s very safe—” Ivan started, when a leaf flew off of Laurel’s dress, landing flat on his mouth like an eyepatch for the lips.

    “It is. I practiced with over a dozen types of flowers.”

    “But those are plants,” I said, and she looked at me in her kiddingly angry way.

    “Alex,” she huffed, and I shrugged. Instantly, she retracted her hands from me and Jordan’s faces, and the leaf fell off of Ivan’s face, fluttering to the ground. She jumped gleefully, clapping quickly, and grabbed my sides.

    “You’ll go first?”

    I’d learned a long time ago that Laurel, despite her overly hyper personality, never did anything that could put her friends in danger. She’d even admitted once or twice that she didn’t think what she wanted to do would be safe enough.

    “If you really think it’ll be fine, then I’m all for it.”

    “Yay!” she said, clapping once more, and her face turned serious instantaneously. “Please keep your arms and legs inside the flower at all times.”

    Bright magenta flower petals suddenly appeared in the ground below me. I could feel something like a personal earthquake, and my gut was already telling me this may not have been the best idea.

    “Riders with weaker stomachs may experience some nausea.” Gee, really?

    The petals started to expand, enclosing me in a light purple ball. I looked out at the others and saw Jordan watching expressionless, Ivan in awe, Laurel saluting me like an army general, but Helen had the most interesting reaction. I’d seen her face when she saw Aster go berserk. That had been pure fear. But this was more. It wasn’t her fearing for someone she’d met about a half hour ago. She seemed to be personally terrified that I might get hurt.

    Without thinking, I nodded slightly and smiled at her. For the second before the petals obscured my vision completely, I could see her subtly exhale nervously, just barely relieved by my reassurance.

    As the background noise of the wind and cars faded out, I heard Laurel’s last, muffled words.

    “Enjoy the ride.”

    Then the flower moved, and I tumbled to the ground, feeling like I was not only falling, but more as if I was being pulled down into a bottomless pit by a bungee cord.

    But all I could think about was Helen.

    * * *
    Last edited by AlexMonroe; 17th December 2012 at 2:09 AM.

  25. #25
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    Helen Meets An Old Friend

    Once I arrived at Camp Half-Blood, it took me a little while to recover from my dizziness, at which point I realized for the first time just how tough the flower petals were. After a few minutes of struggling and sweating inside the giant plant, I drew my spear and began frantically jabbing the pink membrane of my pod. Upon getting out, I saw two other pods next to mine, with another one quickly sprouting up from the ground. I ripped the petals on what turned out to be Ivan’s flower, and was about to do the same for the other when it burst into flames. Just a second later, Jordan emerged from the charred, withered remains of the pod. Within a minute, the next flower had fully appeared, and Jordan and I helped cut Helen out. A ways away in the forest, I could see Laurel’s tree growing, and soon she had materialized next to all of us.

    “Interesting,” Jordan said, not wanting to elaborate.

    “Right?” Laurel responded excitedly, and giggled. “Transpetalporting!”

    “Why not transplanting?” Ivan suggested, and I couldn’t help but chuckle. Unfortunately, Laurel wasn’t so enthusiastic about the new name. She smiled softly, but I could smell just a bit more Mountain Laurel poison around her.

    Before she could say anything, however, Helen gasped.

    “This . . . this is Camp Half-Blood?”

    I turned toward her and saw that she was staring down at the big house, a sky blue building on the opposite side that served as the head “office” of the camp. It was also my current place of residence, as none of the 20 cabins arranged in a Greek Omega were dedicated to the children of Chronos. After I’d starting living at Camp Half-Blood, Chiron had turned the attic into a veritable bachelor pad. On one side of the room, hundreds of Greek spoils of war were stacked on shelves, in trophy cases, and littering the floor. On the other side, I had a twin bed and two bean bag chairs, a bookshelf filled with four or five dozen books that I’d mostly never read, and a plasma screen television on the wall with a Wii and PlayStation 3 installed. The campers originally complained about Chiron showing favoritism toward me, which was funny, since I’m pretty sure Chiron’s not a big fan of mine. After all, I had broken the #1 rule at camp on my third day, fleeing the camp without permission. However, I insisted that anyone could come to the attic whenever they pleased, as I didn’t keep anything valuable in there, and I really only used the room for sleep.

    The only reason I spent time in there during the day was when I was adjusting the master clock that had been installed next to my bed. Since I had an innate ability to tell the exact time, I was in charge of making sure no pranksters adjusted the clocks so as to get out of doing chores, or to move dinner ahead an hour. However, once or twice I’d actually been the one giving a false time, giving everyone an extra half hour or so to sleep or to shorten the wait for Capture the Flag on Fridays. Otherwise, I was out training for battle or talking with Jordan.

    “Yeah, this is it,” I said, understanding her amazement. “It’s really crazy, I know, but you’ll get used—”

    “I’ve been here before.”

    Now I was the one in amazement. In my peripheral, I could see that all my friends were dumbfounded as well.

    “You’ve . . . what?” Ivan questioned, being the one who knew Helen best. “You mean in a dream?”

    “No,” she said, her eyes still glazed in awe. “I know that building. I lived there before.”

    Now I was even more confused. Absolutely no one except me, the previous oracles, Chiron, and Mr. D had ever lived in the Big House.

    “Are you sure?” I asked, snapping out of my daze.

    “Positive.”

    For a few more moments, we all just stood there, deep in thought and confusion, staring at Helen. Finally, Jordan spoke up.

    “Well, we may as well go and find out if that’s true. Come on, guys, let’s go talk to Chiron.”

    * * *
    Laurel stayed in the woods, tired from transpetalporting us all from Detroit. Just before we left I was about to ask her why she’d been acting strangely around Ivan and Helen, but all that was left of her was a quickly diminishing cloud of pollen. As we walked across the camp, passing by the mess hall, the arena, and the cabins, I noticed that Helen didn’t seem to recognize anything other than the Big House. As far as I knew, all of the other buildings had been here for decades, if not since the founding of the camp. So how could Helen not remember them?

    When we arrived on the front porch of the building, Helen put her hand on the azure walls and softly grazed her fingers over the wood longingly. Inside, I could here someone approaching the door, and tapped Helen on the shoulder. She came back to reality and straightened up, watching as Chiron emerged from the Big House, fortunately in his wheelchair-ridden form. His wiry hair was combed back over his ears, and his scruffy little beard had recently grown wider across his face, but didn’t seem to ever grow longer. He was wearing a frayed tweed jacket, and was holding a cup of coffee in his left hand. He looked exactly like a regular middle-aged college professor, but in reality he was a six-foot tall centaur—a magical creature that was human from the waist up and horse from the waist down.

    “Mr. Brunner!” Helen shouted. Mr. Brunner?

    “Helen?” he responded, and my mouth actually dropped like a cartoon. “How wonderful to see you!”

    “Uh, Chiron?” Jordan said, just as shocked as me. “You know Helen?”

    “Of course I do,” he said, and put his coffee mug down on the windowsill. “She used to summer here all the time with her father.”

    “She did?” I asked. “When?”

    “When Helen was younger, Alexander—” Oh, he knew I hated being called Alexander. “She and her family would come spend the summer here. In fact, she was the first child to ever actually be born in the camp.”

    “I was born here?” Even Helen was surprised now.

    “Yes, and you lived here for the first few years of your life too. Your father, a son of Hephaestus, wanted to make sure you were safe as an infant whenever he had to work, so he brought you here, where he’d grown up. However, after his death when you were three, when your aunt and uncle in Detroit adopted you, you stopped coming.”

    “Wow,” Helen said. “I can’t believe it.”

    “Me either,” I said.

    “Still, however,” Chiron said, and turned to Ivan. “How much does she know?”

    “Pretty much everything,” Ivan answered, shrugging. “Except that the ‘Chiron’ that I told you about is Mr. Brun, or Broon, or—”

    “Brunner,” Helen corrected.

    “Ah yes,” Chiron said. “Mr. Brunner is a pseudonym I use whenever I introduce myself to someone who doesn’t know the truth about the Greek Myths.” He turned to Helen. “Your father didn’t want you to learn about this part of his life until you were ready. In fact, he never even let you see the arena, amphitheater, or even the cabins, worried you’d discover the truth.”

    Just then, I remember something Chiron had said before. “You said that Helen’s father was a son of Hephaestus.”

    “Yes.”

    “So is Helen not actually a child of a god, but is just descended from one?”

    “No,” he said. “Helen is both the daughter of a son of Hephaestus and Nemesis.”

    “Nemesis?” she asked, suddenly worried. “My mother is Nemesis?”

    “Yes,” Chiron responded, realizing that he’d just bluntly stated what was probably the most life-changing thing in her life, other than the fact that she was the child of any Greek God.

    “The g-goddess of revenge?”

    “Yes. Although, I think she might prefer the title ‘goddess of justice’.”

    Helen looked down at her body, probably understanding for the first time what it meant to be a demigod.

    However, I was still having trouble with what Chiron had said.

    “So a demigod had a child with another god?” I said, slightly disturbed. “Is that strange?”

    “Well, it’s not very common,” Chiron answered, “but it’s not unheard of. After all, gods don’t have DNA, so it’s not much of a big deal. In fact, I believe your friend Heather has a similar family tree, although hers is much more complicated.”

    I was about to ask about Heather when Mr. D stepped out onto the porch, scratching his potbelly through a ragged purple shirt that said Camp Jumper or something. His greasy black hair was curled back like Elvis, but much less neatly. Wrinkly bags hung under his bloodshot eyes, and his nose was bright red. He was wearing an oversized leopard-skin bathrobe and magenta slippers. As he walked, he seemed to be struggling to stay balanced. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say he had broken the anti-alcohol restriction Zeus had given him for bad behavior. He plopped down in the lawn chair on the other side of Chiron, almost instantly falling asleep. Before he could start snoring, though, he snapped back to consciousness and groaned.

    “What’s with Mr. D?” I asked Chiron, and the others around me, even Helen, gasped. Everyone else was a lot more scared of Mr. D than I was. Sure, being an immortal god, he could turn me into an earthworm or something more degrading if I angered him, but since I was a son of Chronos, that pretty much made me untouchable.

    “Mr. D seems to have come down with the Flu,” Chiron answered, bitterness in his voice. Clearly, he’d been stuck with the responsibility of taking care of Dionysus while he was sick. In fact, now that I’d thought about it, I hadn’t seen either of them outside the Big House much as of late.

    “Yeah, moron,” Mr. D said, and I wasn’t sure if he was insulting me, or if he’d gotten my last name, Monroe, wrong again. Maybe it was a mix of both. “So you can tell all your little friends to be nice to me. I won’t baby them like you.”

    So now his fear of my father was him being “protective” of me. Sure.

    “Well,” Chiron said, reviving the previous conversation. “If Helen has already been briefed about the camp, there’s really no need for her to see the orientation film. Jordan, Alex, if you two could show Helen to the Nemesis Cabin, I need to have a quick word with Ivan.”

    Jordan nodded, not wanting to annoy Mr. D with his present, and gestured for Helen to follow him. I turned around, grabbed Helen’s green duffel, and walked away, catching up to them a few seconds later.

    “So, Mr. D. He’s Dionysus, right?” Helen asked.

    “Yeah,” Jordan answered. “Just don’t call him that. Names . . . er, names have power.”

    “Okay, I guess,” she responded, sounding confused.

    “You really don’t have to be afraid of him, Helen,” I told her, trying to keep Jordan from convincing her of his “awesome power”.

    “Alex—” Jordan started, but I interrupted.

    “Even if you do get on his bad side, he’s here as a punishment, forced to keep watch over us for 50 years. He’s not going to upset Zeus any more than he has already by lashing out at demigods.”

    “I don’t know, the gods aren’t always—”

    “Jordan!” I yelled, cutting him off once again. “Stop trying to scare her! Just because Dionysus is a jerk, it doesn’t mean he can act on it!”

    After that, both of them were quiet. We each jumped over the narrow creek between the Big House and the cabins, and slowly made our way through the tall, emerald green grass (thanks to the camp’s anti-seasonal protective dome) until we were standing in the middle of the Omega-shaped array of cabins. To the left were all the cabins dedicated to the male gods, and to the right were the ones for the goddesses, except for Dionysus’s, which was put at the end of one leg since his chair on the Olympian Council had once belonged to Hestia. Right across from Dionysus’s cabin, Twelve, was Hermes’s, Eleven. Any demigod who didn’t know their godly parent stayed in the Hermes cabin, since he was the god of travelers and hospitality, until they were “claimed”. A demigod could be claimed in dozens of ways, but by far the most common occurred when a strange symbol that represented their godly parent appeared above a half-blood’s head. For children of Zeus, a lightning bolt would appear. For children of Aphrodite, it would be a dove. Last September, a strange reflection of Greek Fire had led me to believe I was a child of Hades, which is how I’d met Jordan. However, we’d learned that Helen’s mother had been Nemesis, so we all trudged on towards Cabin Sixteen. When we arrived, I gasped, and Jordan and Helen looked at me.

    “What?” Helen asked. “You’re having a bigger reaction to this place than I am.”

    “I . . . I know, it’s just . . .” I trailed off. I looked at the cabin, with it’s flowing black, misty walls that fell to the ground, and stared at the broken wheel insignia above the gaping doorway. “When I first came here, I . . . I knew this cabin was important. I’d thought I was a child of Nemesis, since I was just strangely drawn to it. One of my friends even told me that he’d thought so too.”

    They both looked at the cabin once again, realizing the strangeness of what I’d said, and so did I. Saying that the cabin was important to me? It was like I was saying that Helen’s destiny and mine were entwined like Harry Potter and Voldemort.

    “Nevermind,” I said, trying to repair some of the damage I’d done. “I’m a child of the fate god. I knew that eventually, I’d meet someone from the Nemesis cabin. After all, you are the first half-blood I’ve ever brought to camp.”

    Helen nodded, and Jordan just played with his fingers, so I decided it was as good a time as any to introduce Helen to her new home. I stepped up to the, well, hole that served as an entrance to the cabin, and walked in.

    Based on the exterior, I really wasn’t expecting to find the inside of the cabin so . . . normal. It just looked like a place where a couple of teenagers actually lived. The two bunk-beds were on either side of the room, only one bed of which had been tidied. On the floor in the middle, there seemed to be an unfinished game of cards waiting to be played, as well as a small pile of board games like Sorry and Monopoly. None of the other campers were in the cabin, even though there were no scheduled activities for the day.

    “So, this is it,” I said to Helen, who was just stepping inside as well.

    “It’s . . . cozy,” she decided, which wasn’t the type of description you’d usually give for a building seemingly made out of shadows, but it was, in fact, quite cozy on the inside.

    Jordan stepped in and took in the atmosphere of the place. However, before he could talk, another person, a girl around sixteen or seventeen, came inside too. Her hair was a shiny black color, like onyx, which blended in with the walls nicely, as well as making her blue eyes stand out more. She had a deep tan and was wearing a leather jacket that was just a bit too gray too mix with the background.

    “Uh, hello,” she said, watching us. “You’re Alex, right? The oracle.”

    “Yeah,” I answered. “Sorry about just entering like this.”

    “It’s okay, I guess,” she said, though she looked to be very suspicious of us. “Why exactly are you here?”

    Helen stepped forward. “I’m actually a daughter of Nemesis too,” she said. “My name’s Helen, and I’m your sister, I guess.”

    The girl’s eyes widened, looking less menacing now. “Oh, okay.” She reached her hand out, and Helen grabbed it. “My name’s Jenny.”

    “Helen.”

    “Nice to meet you Helen.” She let go of Helen’s hand and turned around, looking outside the door, which seemed to be letting in too much light for it to be so dankly lit. There was likely some kind of shadowy magic around the cabin. “The others are supposed to be coming back soon, so you’ll be able to meet them before dark.”

    “Okay,” Helen said, surprisingly calm despite having just learned she had more than one or two new siblings to meet.

    “Now are you sure you’re a child of Nemesis?” Jenny asked. “I mean, you’re the only one I know that doesn’t have black hair, let alone blonde.”

    Helen shrugged, which was apparently good enough for Jenny. “Chiron told me, and I figured he was enough of an authority figure for me to trust.”

    Now Jenny’s expression hardened a little. “I don’t mean to be blunt, but you really shouldn’t talk about trusting authority figures so much. Children of Nemesis are a little less . . . uh, goody-two-shoes than you.”

    Helen was surprised, and so was I. It seemed that children of Nemesis were also a bit bipolar.

    “Anyway,” Jenny said, acting cheery again. “You can take the fourth bed, beneath Seymour. You can probably guess which one that is.”

    Helen nodded, not too shocked anymore, and I wondered if she herself was a little like Jenny too, and if that would be a good thing or a bad thing.

    “I’m gonna go try and find to others to let them know there’s a new camper. Otherwise they might find you here and . . . jump to conclusions. Lots of Hermes campers have been going around stealing stuff lately.”

    She leaned down, and whispered so that no one outside the cabin could hear. “We think they’re trying to build some kind of treasure mound in the woods, where they’re selling stuff to local businessmen.”

    We all nodded, and Jenny left. Outside, the sun was getting close to setting, and my body clock told me that it was 4:39. Dinner started at 5, so Helen would probably meet with all her siblings then.

    “Up for a little tour of the camp before dinner?” I asked Helen.

    “Sure,” she replied, but Jordan shook his head. “You guys can go, but I have to get back to my cabin. You know how Megan gets whenever she’s left alone for a while.”

    I did, so I told him to go make sure everything was still in one piece. Megan was a very, very hyper seven-year-old girl who’d arrived at Camp Half-Blood around Christmas. Whenever Jordan was out of the cabin for most of the day, she’d run around the inside, occasionally smashing into the beds and causing Jordan’s things to fall to the ground. Once, she’d been experimenting with her demigod abilities and had set the entire cabin on fire. Luckily, the cabin, which was made of obsidian, had been undamaged, but the beds were scorched and had to be replaced, along with about half a dozen of Jordan’s books.

    Once Jordan had gone, Helen and I stepped out, and started towards Thalia’s Pine. In the distance, I could see Jordan running into the Hades cabin, which I didn’t take as a good sign, but for whatever reason, I didn’t want to leave, and I just smiled and shook my head.

    “What is it?” Helen asked.

    “Nothing,” I said, still smiling, and kept walking with her.

    * * *
    Last edited by AlexMonroe; 2nd January 2013 at 11:29 PM.

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