Chapter 1: Prologue
~3rd person POV~
Above the skyline of Manhattan, the Empire State Building stood in magnificence. A secret lies on its whole structure, obscured from the eyes and consciousness of mortals. Its elevator served as the gateway to the building's 600th floor. Impossible, right? For it has no 600th floor. But again, mortals don't see and know things that really existed in this world. Things that the mortal minds could only consider unreal. For if they do, these will drive them to insanity.
On this building's impossible floor, a magnificent and glorious palace stood. Olympus. A palace bigger and grander than any architecture known in history. Indeed, no architecture can be compared to this palace. But what is surprising is not the palace itself, but the beings that dwell in it. Gods. Powerful and immortal gods and goddesses of both the Greek and the Roman mythology. Beings of no imagination. But of reality. Gods who helped shaped the mortal civilization. Gods who brought life and death to the mortal history. Gods who still existed out of mortal consciousness.
In the palace's throne room, stood the 12 thrones of the 12 major gods. The Olympian gods.
Zeus, king of the gods and god of the sky, thunder and justice.
Hera, queen of the gods and goddess of marriage, motherhood, and women.
Poseidon, god of the sea and earthquake and father of horses.
Demeter, goddess of agriculture.
Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty.
Apollo, god of the sun, healing, music, poetry, prophecy, archery, and truth.
Ares, god of war.
Artemis, goddess of hunt, maiden hood, and moon.
Athena, goddess of wisdom and strategic battling.
Hephaestus, the smith god and god of of fire.
Hermes, the messenger god and god of commerce, speed, thieves, and trade.
And Dionysus, god of wine.
Other than them are the other two major gods, who do not have their thrones standing in the throne room.
Hades, god of the dead, Underworld, and riches beneath the earth.
And Hestia, goddess of hearth and home.
They are lords of their own domain and power. Masters of the weaker gods, the minor gods.
Tonight is not your typical Olympus night. The stars above shone in their brightest state. Joyful music and singing can be heard all over Olympus. The savory smell of food wafted in the air. Gods and goddesses in their best attire laughed and talked wholeheartedly as they thronged in the palace courts. Seated on the thrones are the Olympian gods, best dressed among all and glowing in power. They watched and joined in merry, boasting about their prowess. Demigods gathered around, exchanging stories about their quests, making their godly parents lift their heads in pride. Satyrs and centaurs crowded the banquet table, drinking wine in pleasure and showing off to the nymphs. Laughter and music filled the air.
Finally, Zeus raised his hand and everyone silenced as their attention fixed on him. Music paused and those who are crowding the banquet table stopped eating. He looked at Hera who nodded with a smile and he stood up. Everyone waited patiently for the king of the gods.
"Welcome, ladies and gentlemen! We, the Olympians, thanked all who those are with us tonight. Those who are here with us to celebrate this joyful night. Tonight! Is no ordinary night. A night that only happens once. A night that will never be repeated once again. A night that will only remain as a glorious memory in our minds once Apollo raised the sun to its peak. Tonight! Let the stars shine their brightest. Tonight! Let the Muses sing their most glorious songs and fill the whole world with its melodies. Tonight! Let us celebrate endlessly! For I present you the newest Olympian, my daughter, Ariacalyssa."
Loud applauds rang as Hera stood up, a baby goddess in her arms. The applause died and the music and laughter continued. Hera placed the young goddess in a crib before her and Zeus' throne and everyone gathered around, offering their gifts and complimenting the young goddess. Zeus and Hera smiled appreciatively. The feast continued in high spirits. No sign of evil. Nor fear or loss. Or even fate that is worse than death. Or it is just what they thought.
The wind swirled as Hermes appeared before Hera. He bowed down. Hera regarded him and he stood straight. A grim expression on his face. He leaned to her ear and whispered, "The Fates wanted a word to you."
She straightened. The Fates wanted to see me? Why? Especially in a feast?
Hermes gave her a meaningful look. I'm sorry but I don't know why. But they wanted you now.
Hera nodded and Hermes returned to his throne. She touched her husband's hand and Zeus looked at her and nodded. Hera disappeared in a flash of bright light and appeared in the Fates' lair.
The room was round and dark, with only torches giving off dim light. The walls are carved with scenes of birth, life, and death. Each scenes moved, showing every beings' destiny. Their beginning and their death. In the middle, sat three old women. They are covered in black with only their faces shown. On their sandaled feet, balls of threads and crocheting needles scattered around. On their hands are a line of socks, growing longer every minute.
Then, one of the old women picked up a pair of scissors inside a woven basket beside her then with a dark smile, she cut the line with a slow SNIP SNAP. A horrible shriek rang and was drown in the shadows.
Another soul on its way to Hades' realm. Hera thought as the Fates started to make another line of socks. She walked and came face to face with the Fates. They stopped weaving and time seemed to stop inside the room.
"Ah, our guest had already arrived. Queen Hera, Your Highness, we're pleased you answered our call."
Hera crossed her arms and fixed her dark eyes to them. The room lit up with her glowing aura. "Why have you summoned me especially in a feast so special? Did my husband, Zeus, do something foolish again? Another woman? Or perhaps, another child that isn't mine?"
"Worry not, Your Highness. Zeus hasn't done anything stupid yet, after he gave that last mortal woman he fell to two children. A Greek and a Roman. Yes, an unacceptable insult, isn't?"
Hera glowered at them. Her aura getting brighter and hotter in anger. "What do you want?!" She asked through gritted teeth.
The Fates smiled in amusement. "Ah, we called you not because of your husband, but because of your child."
Hera's anger slowly faded. Her aura returning to its normal state. "My child?"
"Yes, your child. The one who has this feast dedicated to. The young innocent goddess of yours."
Hera straightened defensively."Ariacalyssa? What's with her? Tell me!" She demanded.
"Queen Hera. Demanding as always. Fine then, if you seek answer then answer you shall find." The Fates reached out a hand each before them and the carvings on the wall peeled off the walls and floated toward the Fates as they glowed in gold. Above their hands, the carvings dissolved into a ball of golden haze.
"Your child, Ariacalyssa, is a dangerous threat to her own father, Zeus. She possessed power, a power no being has ever witness. Power that could defeat the ancients beings, the Primordials. Power that could overthrow her own father in less than a blink. Power that could bring down the proudest beings on their knees."
Dread ran down Hera's spine despite hearing those things. Despite hearing how powerful her daughter is. Despite the pride filling up her chest."But, Zeus is her father. Her flesh and blood. She wouldn't want to overthrow her own father, doesn't she? And even though she possess such great power, she wouldn't want to use it in evil deeds, right?"
The Fates shook their heads together. "But, ah, Queen Hera, you are forgetting something. This world is divided into two factions: the good and the evil. Even among the gods, there are evil. Your words made it clear enough. You couldn't be sure what will your daughter will be. A good one or an evil one. You will not know just by looking at her. Not until she grew up. But we wouldn't want to wait that long, don't we?"
Hera shook her head in disbelief. "You're telling me my daughter will grew up just to overthrow her own father?! To go against her own family?! NO! I don't believe you! That can't be!"
"No, indeed. The destiny of immortals cannot be fully defined. It is endless and sometimes a cycle that repeats itself once again in a certain time. Indeed, it is NOT her destiny to overthrow her own father. But she can be used as a tool. A tool against him. She's still young and innocent. Vulnerable to evil. She must be protected until she is ready to protect herself. She must be isolated from all immortality."
Hera gasped. Her anger started to build up again."What?! No! I will not agree to this! My own daughter? Away from me? This is worse than Zeus having two children from that mortal woman! No! I won't let this! NEVER!" Her aura threatening to dissolve the Fates.
"You cannot protect her, Hera. Not even in a year. We have forseen that. You cannot change that no matter how hard you tried. But you can delay it. For the sake of your family. For the sake of your own daughter. There is only one way. A way that will make it possible for her to stand up against what is coming. If that comes, she'll be ready no matter what. This is her own battle not yours. But you can interfere as much as possible. If you don't do this, this will be the end. For now, the choice is yours. Time is threatening to pass."
Hera looked down. "But...If I agreed, where will she be brought to? Who will take care of her? I fear things that will happen to her...if I'm not by her side."
"She will be brought to the safest place possible. Away from all immortality. In the mortal world."
Hera gasped. "In the mortal world?!"
"Yes, in the mortal world. She must live as a mortal, or if possible as a half-blood. In that way, her growth will come up faster than immortals do, shortening the time we need to wait for her to be prepared. Another, this will limit up her powers. Thus, lessening the chance of danger."
"My daughter? A mortal? That couldn't be. How could she return to what she really is? More importantly, who would protect her if danger comes?"
The Fates smiled reassuringly. "We will. Every being fears us. She will be safest than you will ever expect. And her godly self? Until the right time comes."
Hera breathed deep. Even though a thorn was pulled out of her chest, she still feel dread running in her veins. "Very well. I trust my daughter to you. But please, let me visit her. Spend time with her. Even in a disguise of a relative of hers."
The Fates nodded. "Very well then. But you must swear to the River Styx not to tell this to you husband."
Hera furrowed her eyebrows. "Why not?"
"We cannot tell you. But we can sense danger if Zeus will know about this."
Hera sighed. "Very well then. I swear to the River Styx not to tell about this to my husband, Zeus."
The Fates nodded. "It is settled then. We will take your daughter when the first rays of the sun shone through the earth. You must return to the feast for you have gone too long. Until the next time, Queen Hera."
The golden ball of haze dissipated and the carvings returned to the wall. Time started to flow normally again as the Fates returned to weaving their line of socks. Hera disappeared and appeared in a flash of bright light beside her husband. Zeus asked her where she has been and Hera lied, telling him that she just settled some things. Zeus nodded and turned his attention to his fair daughter. Hera caught Hermes' eyes who gave her a concerned look but nodded in agreement. I won't tell anyone, I swear to the River Styx. Hera smiled gratefully and turned her attention to the feast. But her thoughts were on her daughter's departure.
The feast continued until past midnight. By the time the second hour of the day came, the feast ended and the guests left not before they gave their last words to the Olympians. Silence took over Olympus as the god of sleep, sent everyone to sleep. But the effect of the god's power faded to soon on Hera as time struck the fifth hour of the day. The time when Apollo will ride his chariot and fly to the sky to raise the sun. The time when her daughter will be taken away.
Hera sneaked out of their bedroom, careful not to wake her husband. In her arms, the young goddess slept peacefully. Hera walked through the halls as quietly as possible, wiping her tears as she glanced lovingly at her daughter. She walked out from the palace's gates and toward the elevators. There, the Fates stood, waiting. With a heavy heart and tears flowing down from her dark eyes, she kissed her daughter goodbye and handed her to the Fates. The Fates disappeared in the shadows and Hera returned to the palace.
As the sun shined to its fullest, a loud agonized scream rang from the palace followed by a series of cries and angry commands. Clouds as dark as the night blocked the sun and furious lightnings and roaring thunder filled the sky. Olympians in battle armors and weapons rode through the skies in their chariots as they searched for the lost Olympian.
Chapter 2: The Beginning of the End. Or Was It the Other Way Around?
~Christine Galliardo's POV~
Today is the last day of school. The day before summer vacation. Every students here in school were anxious to end the school day and go to wherever they planned. Even me and my friends were anxious to call the day off and do what we had planned for summer.
"Oh my god! Why is time so slow in school? I want to start our summer vacation! I can't stand another 'Students, please complete your requirements before you go home'." Trisha complained.
Trisha Ledger was my friend since we're grade schoolers. She is slightly smaller than me with blond hair that is always arranged fashionably and baby blue eyes that can make boys drool.
"Yeah, you're right. If I hear those words once again, my mind will go into a blowing frenzy." Clarisse agreed.
Clarisse La Rue is another friend of mine whom I just met a few months. She is the tallest among us three and the most athletic one. She is the captain of the volleyball team and also a good player in soccer. She is also good in martial arts. She has shoulder-length light brown hair and intimidating brown eyes which she uses to scare her opponents. She always has a volley ball with her in case, someone would dare to challenge her or try to bully us. Of course, no one would dare to do that if they don't want to go to school the next day with a black eye.
"Girls, relax! There is only three hours left before the day ends. Surely, we will not die to wait that long and besides, Physical Education is next. Why don't we enjoy it?"
Trisha looked at me, her perfect eyebrows furrowed."Seriously, Christine? You're not anxious to end this boring day and start summer? Did the teachers hypnotized you? Or your classmates? Did they ordered you to gather their requirements in Math and pass it for them? Tell me."
I closed my locker and stared at her."Of course not! I volunteered, okay? They didn't hypnotized me or something. And besides, I'm excited for summer as you are, guys. It's just that...we are just a year or two before college. So, I think it's just right for us to, you know...enjoy it."
Clarisse placed a hand on my shoulder."Aw, come on Christine. Don't get too worried about college. We know we will not be going to the same university but we still have communication. You don't need to be worried and all. We're the best of friends. Nothing could change that."
I sighed. "Yeah, you're right. There's nothing to be worried about. It's just that I'm feeling fidgety these last few weeks . Don't know why but I guess it's just stress."
Trisha crossed her arms and glared. "Yup, certainly stress. You've been down to studying this whole school year. I mean seriously? How can you survive that? I can't stand an hour or two staring at books. Why don't we go to a spa this summer? To remove those stress lines, huh? You're starting to look like a grandma, Christine."
I scowled at her. Trisha giggled.
"Okay, girls. Stop the teasing. We will go to a spa this summer, alright. But first, why don't we bring those requirements first and try not to collapse while waiting this day to end, huh?" Clarisse suggested.
"Alright. But please, shut your mouth, Trisha. It's growing bigger every time you smile. You're starting to look like a big-mouthed barbie doll to me, Trisha."
I laughed and picked up a box on the floor filled with my classmates' requirements."Let's go, Trisha. Stop frowning there. I know I got you good." Clarisse and I laughed.
"Ha. Ha. Ha. Very funny." Trisha said and we walked through the hallway.
That afternoon, I went home alone. My house is just a walking distance from Goode High School, my school. Clarisse and the other sports players stayed in school to help the P.E. teachers clear the gym. Trisha was fetched by her father on his way to an important meeting. I have no problem going home alone unless during the night. The air is dry and sticky. The setting sun still give a hot ray of light even in the afternoon. Students still milled in the front of the academy, laughing and chatting. Loud horns from the passing vehicles rang. I passed houses and shops, stopping for a moment as some friend called and waved at me. My house is a two-story building with blue walls and a yellow roof. I inserted my duplicate key and the door opened with a CREAK! I heard an old voice as soon as I entered the house.
"Christine, is that you dear?"
"Yes, it's me." I trudged toward the kitchen and found the triplet who are doing needlework. I placed my bag on the counter and kissed each to the cheek. "Good afternoon, Grandma Lin, Grandma Min, and Grandma Qin." They nodded.
"Woof!" A brown and white shi tzu ran toward me. I picked him up and he licked me on the cheek. I giggled. "Good Afternoon to you also, Markus." He leaped down from my arms and I rummaged inside the refrigerator.
"School year had ended, eh? Looks like it's time for a break from school again, dear." Grandma Min smiled as her withered hands hovered delicately on the embroidered socks. I pulled out a box of apple juice from the refrigerator and poured some in a glass. Markus busied himself pulling a piece of beef steak out of the refrigerator.
"Uh, huh. I had completed my requirements for this school year so I guess there is nothing to busy myself to this summer."
"Any plans with your friends, Trisha and what's the name of the other one? Charisse?" Grandma Lin asked. I closed the door of the refrigerator and sat across them. Markus is at my feet, attacking the steak.
"It's Clarisse, Grandma Lin. We had plans though. Tomorrow, we'll go to the mall." I said. Grandma Lin nodded as her hand moved gracefully between stitches. I tilted my head as I watched them worked. They always sew socks. I don't know why but I never saw them sew other garments other than a line of socks. Whenever they are done, they cut it into half and start to sew a new one. I asked them once but they told me too much curiosity is dangerous. They always worked in a perfect rhythm which I envied pretty much. I admit that I'm not that good in sewing. I always prick my finger or entangle the threads whenever I tried to sew. Such irony from a girl who lived with a triplet who is pretty good in sewing. I would have stare at them as they sew when Grandma Qin spoke up.
"Your Aunt Beryl visited three hours ago." My head craned up to check if I heard right. Aunt Beryl is the only relative I've known in my whole life. I was just adopted by the triplet when they found me on their doorstep. I came to know Aunt Beryl when she came to our house to find her missing niece. I never met her husband nor my cousins. They never tried to visit. Aunt Beryl told me that her husband and her children are quite busy these past years. That's why she spend a day every month to visit me which I always awaited. I hate to pass her visiting day. Which I did today.
"What did she said?" I asked as I tried to mask out my disappointment.
"She's asking how are you been lately. She's expecting to see you but then she remembered you're in school." Grandma Min said.
"Why didn't she waited for me to arrive home?" I asked. Grandma Qin gave me a sympathetic look but said none.
"Your Aunt Beryl had ah, an emergency call from work. That's why she wasn't able to wait for you which she usually does." Grandma Min said. I scowled. Damn that emergency call! I want to smack her boss to the face. Just a day of visit! Why can't her boss wait? Grandma Qin gave me an amused smile.
"Don't be selfish, dear. Your aunt has her own life. Her own family. Her own work. She must attend her work to support her family." Grandma Qin said.
I placed my head on my hands."Yes, I know but...I really wanted to see her. She's...she's the only family I have by biological means. I know you know what I mean." I gave them a desperate look.
They nodded."We understand, Christine dear. But, she's not only the family you have. You have us. Even we're not related by blood." Grandma Lin said. I smiled and nodded.
"Well then, get upstairs and change. We will prepare dinner."
I nodded appreciatively. Even though they are old, they are still definitely strong. Other than sewing, they are also good in cooking. I stood up and picked up my bag and trudged upstairs, Markus at my heels.
That night, I had the worst nightmare in history.
I was in a huge room. I was a baby, lying inside a crib. Then, a face appeared above. It was blurry but it's definitely woman. She is glowing and I could feel her power emanating inside the room. My mom. It seemed impossible but I know she is her, despite the fact she's glowing and all. She's saying something which I couldn't quite figure out. Danger. Power. My father. Camp. Evil.
The scene shifted and I was back to normal. The normal, 16 year old-teenage me. I was in a place I don't recognize. The sky is abnormally red. The ground is snaked with purple and red lines that looked like veins. I heard a distant but terrifying laugh. The hairs on my neck rose up. Then, a monstrous figure appeared before me. It has purple skin, packed with muscles. Its fingernails glistened like razor-sharp talons. It wore an armor with faces of despairing creatures who seemed trying to get out. But most hideous part is its face. His face is all but a swirling dark whirlpool. So strong I felt like I'm being pulled into the vortex of darkness. Hair-raising screams from its armor rang in my ears. I tried to take a step back but my body was frozen in place. The figure spoke up, possibly smiling darkly if it had a face but just like the first one it was fuzzy like static. Much fuzzier than the one before. But I managed to catch a word. Revenge. Then darkness issued around me, tearing my skin apart like a hungry predator.
I woke up shaky and sweaty. My throat ached from screaming. Markus is dozing off beside me, perhaps dreaming about beef steak. I brushed my hand on his fur as he sleep. I pulled myself together as I catch my breath. After that, I didn't get the chance to sleep that night.
Chapter 3: My Best Friend Kills Some Vampire Donkeys
That morning, Clarisse and Trisha fetched me at home. Clarisse is wearing faded jeans and a red t-shirt. Her combat boots matched her outfit perfectly, making her looked more intimidating than ever. She didn't have her ball with her. Instead, she has around her waist a leather belt with a satchel that looked suspiciously a scabbard. A handle of what looked like a knife or perhaps a dagger stuck out from the satchel but I just ignored it.
Trisha is wearing a pink and red knee-length dress. Her brown sandals and gold heart necklace completed her outfit making her looked like she's ready to hit the catwalk.
I wore an electric blue t-shirt, same in color as my eyes, and jeans. I chose to wear my galaxy converse, and the gold charm bracelet with an eagle and a peacock dangling from it which was given to me by Aunt Beryl a year ago. I kissed the triplet goodbye and we rode Trisha's car toward the mall.
The mall was pretty packed with people today. Summer sales and numerous new movies are on today. We watched a movie first before we scanned the shops. We dropped occasionally to restaurants for breaks. Hours passed easily as we spent the rest of the day in the game zone, challenging each another to play this and that. We've collected quite a number of tickets which we used to exchange for prizes. We picked stuffed animals which we gave to each another. Clarisse gave Trisha a cute white stuffed cat. Trisha gave me a pink stuffed bunny with a sky blue ribbon and a carrot which I gave the name, Carrot. In my turn, I gave Clarisse a pink stuffed pig whose eyes were the same color as hers.
Before we went home, Trisha pulled us to the comfort room to fix ourselves. Not before long, a group of five girls, dressed to kill in a fashion sense, entered the comfort room. I've noticed Clarisse tensed up. She kept glancing at the group as if waiting for them to lunge to us. She looked like she wanted to leave as soon as possible. I couldn't blame her. I'm feeling quite unqueasy since those girls entered the comfort room. The hairs on my neck kept standing up and my senses told me danger. My instincts kept screaming RUN! But how can they be dangerous? Why I'm feeling fidgety when I don't know who they are and they don't know me? Even though they know me, which I doubt, why would they hurt us? My thoughts were shattered when I felt a tight squeeze on my arm.
Clarisse whispered at me even though her eyes were still on the group of girls."Let's go. Now." Her voice is tight. It is not a suggestion. It's more of a command. I fixed my eyes on her and nodded. I tapped Trisha on the shoulder and mouthed the words. Let's go. Thankfully, she didn't asked why. She must be feeling the same because her eyes kept glancing at them. We were about to leave when one of the girls spoke up.
"I can smell half-bloods." Her voice came up with a hiss just like a snake. She focused her hating eyes on us. My heart thumped loudly in my chest. Her friends' eyes are also now on us and they are starting to walk toward us. I expected them to sneer at us or something that flirty girls usually do but instead one of them leaped toward us. There was a flash of bronze as the girl bursted into a shower of gold dust. Before us, stood Clarisse. A bronze dagger on her hand. The other girls hissed angrily and stepped back, their eyes fixed in pure hatred at Clarisse.
"A daughter of the war god!" One of them hissed.
Clarisse pointed her dagger toward them and fixed her intimidating eyes on them. "Don't dare step any closer, demons. Or I will send you to Tartarus the hard way." She warned. At that, their form shifted. Their skin turned pale as the corpse' and their hair turned into flames. Their nails grew into talons and fangs appeared at their teeth. One of their feet turned into a donkey's leg while the other one turned into a metal prosthetic leg. They gnashed their teeth as they watched carefully at the glinting bronze dagger. I covered my mouth with my hands to stifle a scream. Trisha gasped in horror as she held tightly on my arm.
One of the demons shuffled forward, eyeing the dagger."A daughter of Ares and a daughter of Aphrodite." She glanced at Trisha and back to the dagger. "How lucky we are." She licked her lips as if savoring the idea of killing us.
"You cannot touch any of us, punk. Not even a tip of your rotting nail. She will arrive at camp safe, no matter what." Clarisse said.
"Brave words, daughter of the war god but nothing is safe in this world. Not even that rotting place you call camp." She sneered.
"Better watch your words, punk." Clarisse growled.
"Wow. I'm afraid. Bohohoho. I wanna hide under my blanky." She sneered. "You amuse me, daughter of the war god but I'm pretty disappointed you're a girl. Perhaps, we could waste our time seeing you die with that daughter of the love goddess and watch that mortal run and scream in terror."
Clarisse glared at her. Her knuckles white as she held the dagger tightly."Don't touch her, you stupid donkey." Clarisse growled.
The metal donkey vampire girl hissed in fury."You'll pay for that, half-blood!" She lunged toward Clarisse. She clawed on Clarisse but she managed to dodge. Clarisse swiped her dagger but the girl was fast and manage to avoid the impending death. The other metal donkey vampire girls started to advance toward Clarisse. They lunged, clawed, and hissed. Clarisse dodged and slashed. Her dagger flashed every time light strikes it. Gold dust showered as the girls disintegrated. Four of them were gone, turned into piles of gold dust.
My hand searched beside me, hoping to get a grip of Trisha's arm. But my hand found none, just an empty space in the air. That's when I realized Trisha was no longer holding my arm. The hairs on my arm stood up. My eyes scanned hastily in the room. My mind raced. Where's the fifth one? I heard a muffled sound beside me. I turned and stumbled backward. The last metal donkey vampire girl had Trisha, one clawed hand on her mouth and one by her neck. Clarisse started toward her but the vampire spoke up.
"Try it, daughter of Ares. Or I will end her life here." the girl hissed.
Clarisse glared at her."Let her go, punk." Clarisse voice was dangerous just like her glinting bronze dagger.
"Not a chance, half-blood. I'll have her as a little torture prize. Try to follow us or I will not have a second thought of killing her." She hissed. Clarisse glowered at her but she stayed in place. The vampire girl unlocked the door behind her with one clawed hand still on Trisha's neck. Trisha tried screamed but only a muffled sound came out. She was clearly trying to scream HELP ME! but none of us can move or she will be dead. Once the door was wide open, the vampire ran away with Trisha struggling and screaming. Clarisse was clearly on the verge of chasing them but I gripped her hand, stopping her.
I stood up shakily, my breath heavy with terror. "W-What are those?! Why did they wanted to kill you?! Why did they called you half-bloods?! W-Who and what are you?!" Thousands of questions flooded my mind. My voice is shaky but desperate.
Clarisse looked astonished. She returned my grip."Y-You can see them?!" She asked. Her breath heavy and sweat covered her body.
My grip tighten."Of course I can see them! They're not human! They're vampires of some sort! I don't know! But one of them kidnapped Trisha! Tell me what's happening! What are you?! Who are you?! What are half-bloods?! Tell me everything!" My voice came out much more desperate and angry than I supposed to.
Clarisse shook her head, clearly mystified."You...you aren't not suppose to see their true form." She said.
"What?! What do you mean?! Their true form?! What's with that?! Tell me!"
Clarisse gripped my shoulders."Christine, can you see my dagger?" She asked.
"Of course I do!" I answered through gritted teeth. I don't see the sense of asking that when that vampire had ran far with Trisha. I resisted the urge to smack Clarisse for such stupid question.
Clarisse shook her head."The Mist...you can see through it. Though you're a mortal." I couldn't clearly make sense out of Clarisse's words. I wanted to scream at her to stop those nonsense things but my voice won't work. "You must go home." She said finally. I gaped at her.
"Go home and leave Trisha with that metal donkey vampire?! Are you crazy?!" I shouted.
Clarisse gripped my shoulders tighter. She fixed her eyes on mine."Listen, Christine. The situation is beyond your control. I can help Trisha. You can't. Go home and rest. Forget about this. If you can't, someone will come to your house and help you out. Everything will be fine."
I wanted to protest but Clarisse pushed me out of the comfort room. My feet thundered as I ran. I pushed through crowds of people, ignoring their complaints. My mind was fuzzy and my breath heavy. I felt cold even though I'm covered in sweat. My heart thumped loudly against my chest. I didn't stop running until I reached the exit. My breath didn't returned to normal until the cab arrived at my house. My heart didn't stop thumping until the police came into our house. I'm still shaking as I told them what had happened. They promised they would find Trisha, rescue her, and have the one who took her arrested. After the police left and after a sip of Grandma Lin's tea, my body relaxed and fell asleep. Though my mind was still replaying what had happened again and again even in my dreams.
The lights went on and I felt a nugde in the middle of the night. I woke up, my eyes heavy because of crying before I fell asleep. Beside my bed, the triplet stood. I sat up and tried to focus to them. My mind still clouded. Grandma Min placed a hand on my forehead and instantly my mind cleared and awake.
"Grandma Min...what...why are you here? Is there a problem?" I asked.
Grandma Min held my hand."You must go now. Go to a place where you'll be safe." Grandma Min said. I looked at her. Her eyes show no signs of any emotion.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"The mortal world no longer provide you enough protection. Nor the Mist from the true horrors of the world. It's time for you to go to a place where you'll be safe. Where you will belong. Where you will be trained to be ready to face any danger. You must go to camp. Now."
I gaped at her. Are they driving me out? I was about to protest when Grandma Qin spoke up, her voice showed impatience.
"We must go now. Chronos will not spare us any more minute of talking."
"Yes, indeed. We must go now. Her things were already packed and downstairs. The cab is waiting. We must not waste another a minute." Grandma Lin nodded. Grandma Min fixed her eyes on mine. Her message is clear. Let's go. I didn't protested. I stood up and followed them downstairs. I didn't mind changing. What's the use? If they are driving me out, why need to be neat and clean? I wished Aunt Beryl is here. I needed someone to comfort me. The weight of Trisha's loss was still on my shoulders. I'm too tired, too weak, too helpless to act up. I wanted to sleep. Forget about all of these. Never to wake up. I don't want to cry. I want to mourn. To scream how unfair my life had been. Everything I had was now gone. Gone like the passing wind. My parents had abandoned me when I was young and now, those who took me in and cared for me will abandon me too.
The trip was quick. The roads were almost clear tonight. There were only a few vehicles riding on the road. The city was alive as it always been. We left the city and headed to Long Island. We stopped by a hill. On top of it was a big pine tree. Near it, stood a forty feet tall statue of some goddess. The air is hot but I felt cold as I stepped out of the cab. The triplet stepped out after me and paid the cab driver. We waited until the cab was far away.
"Pass that hill is a camp. A camp where you will begin a new life. Where you will belong. They will train you to fight. Teach you to survive. The world you've known has never claimed you as part of it. In that camp, they will introduce you to the world that was hidden behind mortal consciousness. A world that existed but never known by mortals. A world that will welcome you as part of it." Grandma Min said.
I looked at the hill. A chill went up my spine. A chill of excitement and nervousness. A chill I never felt."Tell me." I said, my eyes still fixed at the hill. "What am I? Is the camp you're telling is the same as what Clarisse had said back when those metal donkey vampire girls attacked us? Am I...a half-blood like them? Aren't gods were just works of imagination? The ones you always tell me stories about?"
"No, dear Christine. Gods were real. All of them. Even monsters. "Tell me, were those vampire you saw were real or not?"
"They're...they're seemed just a horrible nightmare but..." I thought for a moment. Are they're real or not? Am I just seeing things? Am I starting to get out of sanity? I shook my head. No, they're real. I saw them. I saw them fought Clarisse. I saw one of them took Trisha. No, it's definitely not a nightmare. "They're real. Flesh and blood." I answered finally. "But what am I? Am I really a half-blood?" I asked.
"Yes. You're a half-blood. A demigod. Half-mortal. Half-god. Your parents didn't actually abandoned you. Your mother was a goddess while your father ah, unfortunately, no news about him." Grandma Lin said. My heart leaped inside my chest. My mother didn't abandoned me. She's somewhere across that hill. Perhaps, waiting for me to leave the world I've known behind and join the world she was living in. I'll get to see her. To hug her. To talk to her. I felt a surge of energy flow inside me. I want to run across that hill. Now. But I restrained myself. I turned toward the triplet. I breathed deeply.
"How...how about you?" I asked, a hint of worry in my voice. Grandma Qin laughed softly.
"How about us?" She smiled at me. "We will be fine. Fine as we can be. We are part of both worlds. There's nothing to worry about us. But you, our dear Christine. Have many things yet to discover. Choices to make. Your true fate starts here. Now or never. We are always close to each another. Ah, very, very close. Sooner or later, we will meet each another again. But for now, focus on your new life. Whenever you make decisions, be reminded of us. We will one of your guidance." I resisted the urge to cry. Instead, I hugged them. Short quick hugs. They smiled and nodded.
"Take this with you." Grandma Min handed me a sword with a scabbard. The locket and chape of the scabbard were made of bronze, with scenes of battle carved on the metal. A leather belt was attached to it with rectangular bronze locks on both ends. I drew out the sword. It is about 60-65 cm long, from the pommel to the point. It is made of bronze, same metal as the scabbard and Clarisse's dagger. The grip of the sword was made of leather. The cross guard was a bronze bar with images of a peacock and an eagle on either side. The pommel was a round flat bronze with an omega symbol on both sides. The sword is beautiful in its own dangerous way and glows in the darkness. It fits perfectly on my hand and feels comfortable to hold, like it is made only for me. Both the sword and the scabbard are unbelievable light to carry.
"Your mother had the smith god crafted that sword especially for you. That sword is made of a special and powerful kind of metal, Celestial Bronze, used to craft weapons since ancient times. These weapons were used to kill monsters, to send them back to Tartarus and they can injure gods but cannot kill them." Grandma Min explained.
I looked at the sword in awe, turning it side to side. I thanked them and placed the sword back to its sheath. I round the belt on my waist and locked it.
"Go across the hill and there you will find the camp. But before you can take a step on its protection, you must first pass a test. If you passed accordingly and survive, seek the Seven. They can help you. Your fate starts here and you, only you Christine, can dictate it." Grandma Lin said.
I nodded. I swung my bag over my shoulder and looked at the hill. A new place. A place where I can start a new life. A place where I will feel like I belonged. I looked back but the triplet were gone. I smiled and nodded to the stars above. This is my new home. A new home with a new family. I will finally meet my mother. With that, I ran toward the hill with no delay.
Chapter 4: I Don't Think I Will Ever Have Enough Drakons
~Percy Jackson's POV~
Everyone was preparing for bed when the bell rang and a roar from a dragon echoed throughout the camp. All campers rushed out from their cabins in armors and weapons and shields at hand. I uncapped Riptide and joined the others. Even with Gaea defeated, there are still monster attacks in camp. Well, what demigods are for without monsters? I spotted Annabeth and jogged toward her side.
"Another monster attack, huh? That's the eighth this day. Seriously? Don't monsters ever think of having a break from their 'kill those disgusting demigods' plan ?" I asked.
"You are really are my Seaweed Brain, aren't you? Percy, did any of the monsters you had met at least thought of not killing you?" She asked.
I shrugged. "No. At least, they thought of keeping me alive for torture instead of killing me right away." I answered.
We continued to run toward the hill. The Ares cabin on the lead. Chiron's hoofsteps thundered nearby but I couldn't see him in the crowd though he's a lot taller than us. Another roar came from the dragon, Peleus, followed by a series of different roars as we neared the pine tree. A thought immediately occurred in me. Drakons. I ran faster. Annabeth at my heels. I heard voices calling my name and Annabeth which I'm pretty sure were Jason, Piper, and Leo. Hazel and Frank at their heels. Annabeth and I slowed a bit, giving them a chance to catch up with us.
"Sup? Another monster attack? " Leo grinned. His clothes and hair were filled with grease. He obviously came running out from Bunker 9 after the bell rang.
"Yeah. And I guess this one is a tough one. I swear those roars were from drakons." I said.
Leo whistled. "Drakons. Fun. You know, I would rather stick to hellhounds than those poison-spitting reptiles." Leo said.
"There's nothing to worry about, Leo. The Ares cabin is with us. They are the best drakonslayers around. Right, Annabeth?" Piper asked.
"Yes. We got a huge advantage against those drakons especially with Clarisse around." Annabeth agreed.
"Hey! How about me? Am I not a great drakonslayer? " I asked.
Jason patted me on the back. "Don't worry, dude. You're a great drakonslayer." Jason said. I grinned. "If only you managed to kill at least one which is as far as I know, you haven't." They laughed.
I scowled at them. Annabeth gripped my arm and smiled, though she was trying hard to stop herself from laughing."At least, you're my Seaweed Brain." She said and that fixed my mood.
We reached the pine tree. There were no drakons at sight. Only poison and claw marks on trees and on the grass. Nymphs scattered around, complaining angrily about their burned bushes or their clawed tree trunks. Grover and the other satyrs tried to calm down and help the nymphs. We jogged toward them, careful not to add to the problems of the nymphs.
"G-man! What happened? " I asked.
Grover ran toward me, his expression grim."Perrrccccyyy! This is terrible! Drakons! Three of them! They appeared from nowhere! It happened all of a sudden that we weren't able to do anything!" Grover said.
"Percy!" Annabeth called out. I turned to her. She is kneeling beside Peleus, one hand on his head. The dragon looked quite anxious. His head kept on moving toward one side to another. He snapped his mouth as smoke came out. A low growl issued from his throat. He gave out a roar. Annabeth stood up, clearly unhappy. "The drakons were still here somewhere." Annabeth said finally. I gripped Riptide tighter and turned back to Grover.
"Grover! Where did the drakons went?" I asked.
"They went west." Grover pointed. "But there is something I don't understand, Percy. The drakons were clearly not into attacking the camp. They seemed to be chasing something...or someone." We looked to each another then to Chiron. He galloped forward, his expression grim.
"Is it a half-blood, Grover?" He asked. Grover shook his head dejectedly.
"I'm sorry, Chiron but I wasn't able to know. We panicked because of the sudden attack. But if it is indeed a half-blood, I have the feeling this is a powerful one to be chased by drakons." Grover said. The campers started murmuring as soon as they heard him. Another child of one of the Big Three? The hairs on my arms stood up. Oh no, this calls for trouble. And believe me, I've been in many as a son of Poseidon. I glanced at Annabeth who gave me a knowing look. Chiron stomped his hoof and everyone silenced.
"This is a dire situation. The camp maybe safe but one of your fellow half-blood is not. We must plan up as quick as possible. And act up as soon as possible." He said. Annabeth and her siblings did a quick talk. Then, she spoke up.
"The Athena cabin suggests the camp be separated into two groups. Both will be lead by the Ares cabin. First group will be composed of Clarisse and at least five of her siblings. The other Ares kids will be in the second group. Half of each cabin will join both groups. Jason will be with the second group and serves as your navigator in the sky. Percy and I will be with the first. Grover, please come with us. We will need you as our navigator. If one of the groups find the drakons or our fellow demigod, send a signal to the other group as soon as possible. Tonight is full moon and we are lucky enough that Artemis is in the mood to lit our paths but we must still be alert at all costs. We all don't want casualties tonight nor in any day." Annabeth finished and everyone agreed in the plan.
The camp immediately separated into two groups and moved out toward the west of the hill. The air was hot and sticky. Sweat formed down on my face and arms in just a few minutes. The forest was unusually quiet. Only the clanging of someone's armor or shield could be heard. We ventured the forest carefully and quietly. Our eyes looked back and forth. Once in a while, we turned around to see any danger at every side. Twice, I caught the sight of Jason flying in the sky. Sometimes, we catch figures from some campers of the other group, searching in the shadows. We roamed the forest for ten minutes but no sign nor roar of a drakon was heard. Not even a figure of someone running for their life. We stopped for a moment to rest. We shared food and water and talked quietly. I hate to think of bad things that may happen to the half-blood we're searching for but I simply couldn't avoid it.What if the drakons found him/her and had her dead? What if he/she managed to survive but was now dying slowly and painfully due to the injuries she received? What if she is still running for her life, expecting help from us but we just let her hopes up and failed her? My grip on Riptide tighten that my knuckles turned white. What am I thinking? I cursed myself for thinking negatively. No. Nothing bad will happen to that demigod. We will find him/her. We will save him/her. He/She will survive. I stood up. No more negative thinking. Demigod life is very dangerous but there is still the hope of surviving. We, the Seven, proved that. We had gone through many dangers because of those stupid prophecies. And here we are, alive and well. So, why not that demigod?
I walked toward Annabeth and Grover who were talking about the drakon attack when I spotted something very small and golden at the corner of my eye. Monster dust. I hurried toward them.
"Annabeth!" I called out. She and Grover stopped talking and looked at me.
"What is it, Percy?" She asked. I looked down.
"Monster dust." I answered. She followed my gaze. Sure enough, long patches of golden dust scattered around. She kneeled and checked the dust.
"This is just one drakon, disintegrated a few minutes ago. There are three of them, right? We're on the right track. The other two were not far from here and possibly, the demigod too." She stood up. "We need to continue moving." She ran toward Clarisse. Clarisse signaled everyone and we're in the move again. Not for long, a roar from a drakon echoed throughout the forest. We hurried along, following the source of the sound. We emerged into a clearing and so does the other group. Jason, Piper, and Leo jogged toward us. Clarisse joined also joined us.
"We found one drakon...but it was already disintegrated to dust when we found it." Jason reported.
"So do we. I guess someone managed to kill it a few minutes before we found it." I said.
"There are three drakons, right? If two were already disintegrated, then where is the third one?" As if to answer Piper's question, a roar of a drakon sounded nearby.
We combined into one group and readied our weapons and shields. A roar rang again followed by cracking of what seemed to be trees. The ground shook as another roar rang. The drakon was getting closer. And it seemed that this one was very angry and impatient. After what it seemed to be forever, the drakon emerged into the clearing. Its green and purple scaly body longer than two buses. Its huge clawed feet shredded the ground. Its mouth filled with razor sharp teeth and foamy with poison. Its tail slashed furiously from side-to-side, hitting and splitting trees into half. It roared, almost breaking my eardrums into pieces. It studied us with its reptilian eyes and we waited for it to attack. But instead, it did the opposite. It simply gave another roar and turned away. What the Hades?! A snobby drakon?! Snobby monsters like that existed?! We stood there dumbfounded. We looked at each other but then suddenly, Clarisse threw a javelin at the drakon which bounced off aimlessly. She seemed clearly unimpressed by the drakon's snob act.
"Come back here, you stupid lizard! Don't tell me you're a coward?! Face me, punk!" Clarisse shouted. I resisted the urge to tackle her down and hang her upside down. I could swear we're going to be dead meats by the way the drakon looked at us.
We scattered around as the drakon lunged toward us. Its eyes full of hate and its mouth foamy with more poison. The grass sizzled and died as the poison dripped down to it. Its tail slashed furiously, scattering us more and breaking trees instantly into half. We ducked as the drakon spat poison. We attacked, our weapons unable to injure the drakon. Not even a scratch. Arrows in Greek fire flew but bounced off as soon as it touched the skin of the drakon. Clarisse and the Ares cabin shouted battle cries as they lunged toward the drakon but were thrown back by the its tail. Jason called for lightning but managed only a little damage. Piper tried to charmspeak the drakon but it's no use with all the shouting and roaring. Our attempts did nothing but to anger the drakon more. The battle continued but we only succeeded on tiring ourselves. Soon, we were huddled into one huge group of exhausted demigods. Our shields locked at front, weapons heavy at hand. We stumbled backward as a very furious drakon cornered us, its mouth foamy with poison. I began to imagine what the next generation of demigods will think of my very heroic death.
Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon. He saved Olympus many times in his lifetime. He retrieved the master bolt of Zeus. He defeated the Titan, Kronos. He had an awesome girl friend by the name of Annabeth Chase who was a daughter of Athena. He was once promoted as praetor of New Rome in a few hours. He fell and survived in Tartarus after trying to save his girlfriend. He was one of the Seven who thwarted Gaea. But he died after melting into a pool of Percy mixed with drakon poison spit.
What the Hades?! Why didn't he just died on saving the world?! What a heroic death! How damn stupid was he!
Yup. They will definitely remember my heroic death than my heroic deeds. Pretty embarrassing, I know. But at least, I'll die knowing that I died for Annabeth and for Camp Half-Blood. In that way for sure, I'll go to Elysium and be given the chance to return to the mortal world. At least, that will help me welcome death the most welcoming I can.
For a moment, I thought I'm really going to die. Then, something miraculous happened. I got a second to imagine the Fates up there in Olympus laughing hysterically at me. Who told you you're going to die now, son of the seafood god? You're not yet finished on entertaining us, fool! And for the first time, I was thankful to the Fates for letting me live and not die in such stupid way (even though I'm trying hard to ignore their annoying laughter in my head).
The drakon was ready to melt us into a disgusting demigod goo when a voice of a girl shouted nearby.
"Hey, lizard brain! Am I not the one you're pretty anxious to kill?"
The drakon stopped and turned its head toward the nearest tree. We followed its gaze. On one of tree's branches, stood a girl. And for a moment, I thought I came face-to-face with the queen of the gods again.
Chapter 5: Schools Have Entrance Exams. Why Not Camps?
~Christine Galliardo's POV~
The pine tree was just a few more steps ahead. The moon was quite full and bright tonight that I could see my path clear enough. I was already covered in sweat and the hot sticky air didn't do me any favor but I didn't bothered to stop. I fixed my hair into a ponytail as I ran up the hill which at least, cooled me up even for a bit. I could already see the base of the tree and the thing that was curled around it. As I went closer, I noticed that it wasn't a thing but a being, a creature.Wait. Is that a dragon? Sure enough, it was long and huge. Very long. Pretty huge. Its copper scales glinted against the moonlight and smoke issued out from its big snout. Its claws bigger than my arm and sharpened like knives. Its tail longer than a school bus. Its huge wings were tucked at the side of its body. I slowed down as I approached the pine tree. The dragon was asleep but I didn't want to take the risk of waking it up and getting eaten or burned alive. Instead, I stopped for a moment to catch my breath. I scanned my surroundings. On one of the tree's branches, a golden wool of some sort hang just above the dragon's head. A few feet away from me stood the magnificent statue. Ahead, I saw a flicker of light. I dared to take a few steps toward the tree and my mouth dropped open. A gasp of amazement escaped my mouth.
Just below the hill is a huge camp. The camp was separated with crook that extends from a lake. At the right side of the camp stood a sky blue house trimmed with white. Above it was a volleyball court. An amphitheater and a climbing wall stood far above. At the left, strawberry fields stretched out at the front of the house. Near it was a stable, an armory, and an arena. Far above, cabin in different styles formed a huge omega symbol around a big campfire. Not far from it was a dining pavilion with no walls nor roof. From my spot, a forest at the west and a beach at the north lay near the camp. The camp was simple but undoubtedly astonishing. My heart seemed to leap out of my chest by only the sight of it. Excitement flooded my mind. My feet urged me to run toward it. But my senses held me back. My instincts began screaming at me DANGER! And for a moment, I stood there completely frustrated. What? Why? Then, a terrifying roar brought me back to reality.
I turned just in time to see a disgusting pool of poison spit flying toward me. My initial response, DUCK! I threw myself at the side and landed a few feet near the dragon. My eyes flew at the side and my heart stopped in horror. Not far away from the pine tree were three dragon-like creatures. But these ones were completely different from the one beside me. They were much longer and bigger than a dragon. They were wingless. Their scales glinted in a menacing green and purple shade. Their mouth were foamy with poison. Their horrible reptilian eyes fixed on me with pure hate. They gave a deafening roar and lunged toward me. I hastily stood up and ran west down the hill. I heard the snapping of trees and the roaring behind me.
I ran right, separating one of them from the chase. I looked back and managed to duck my head down as a pool of poison traveled toward me. I began yelling angrily in my mind. What the hell?! Seriously?! This is the test you want me to take?! This is not a damn test! This is madness! I ducked toward a tree as another deadly amazing cannon of poison flew toward me. Fortunately, I lost the other one, leaving one at my heels. I ducked again toward another tree and stumbled into some bushes. I hid silently, crouching as low as I can. I don't know if the creatures could sense my presence or something but I wouldn't risk to know it .The ground shook beneath me. A roar rang nearby. The unbearable stench of poison wafted in the air. My heart again loudly against my chest and my hand crawled toward the hilt of my sword. I looked at it. Yeah, right. As if I knew how to use a sword. Nevertheless, I drew my sword and crawled silently behind the bushes. Another roar rang in my ears, nearer this time. I crawled faster this time but curse my clumsiness! My hand landed on a dry twig and it broke into half with a loud CRUNCH! I rolled aside as a ball of poison flew toward me. I looked beside me and watched as the bushes melted into a disgusting green goo. My stomach turned upside down but I managed to stand up and avoid the monster's tail. The monster lunged toward me. I managed to run toward the side but the monster's plated skin scraped my arm. I gritted my teeth in pain but stood up steady as I can. I tried to stab it with my sword but failed. It swept its tail at me, scraping my skin and shredding my clothes. I slammed hard toward a tree. I howled in pain. I stood up and almost fell down on my knees. My breath heavy and my wounds bleeding. My head began to turn cloudy due to exhaustion, pain, and fear.
The creature fixed its eyes on me and roared. I knew myself I'm going to scream and try to flee but instead I stood there steady and unfazed and returned the glare. The monster lunged at me and instead of running to the side, I run forward. The monster and I were only a few inches apart when I vaulted through air, my sword raised. I just found myself above the monster, my sword struck down on its throat. I laughed in a menacing and hysterical manner which I admitted scared the wits out of me. I began to notice the energy surging inside me. Exhaustion and pain no longer burdened my body. My mind was cleared and my senses sharpened. The fear inside me was gone and replaced by profound courage. It was like...I'm a different person, born to fight and survive. I pulled out my sword and the monster disintegrated into golden dust just like the vampire girls Clarisse killed. Clarisse. She's in here somewhere. I must find her. I must know what happened to Trisha. I must pass this damn test and find her. No matter what. I gripped my sword tighter and bound deeper into the forest.
In just a few minutes, I found the second monster. Instead of sneaking and attacking it, I faced it. The monster lunged at me, spitting poison and slashing its tail. I dodged its attacks and ran toward a tree. Using its trunk as a propeller, I somersaulted toward the creature and drove my sword down its head. It fell down and disintegrated into a huge pile of golden dust. I head out in search for the last monster. The last one was pretty easy to find since I can hear it roar almost every five minutes. Unlike the first two monsters, this one was much bigger and aggressive. It shot poison and slashed trees as if to say, Wherever you hide, half-blood, I will find you. These damn trees were no hiding place for you, stupid demigod. Well, sorry to break it you, lizard brain, but trees were my hiding place. My advantage against you. I sneaked behind the trees as I followed the creature. I kept my distance far enough so that it will not sense my presence and near enough so that I could keep track of it.
Soon enough, the monster stopped. I peeked from behind the tree to know why. Its head turned from side-to-side as it sniffed the air. Even with my far distance, I could hear the low growl from its throat and feel the vibrations below my feet. I lowered myself on my knees, keeping an eye out on the creature. I placed a hand on the ground, the other still holding my sword. As I wait, I started to notice the vibration under my hand. I closed my eyes and deafened my ears. I could still feel vibrations from the growl of the monster but I focused on the other vibration. At first, I wasn't able to identify what it was but when I did, the monster roared and ran. I hauled myself up and ran after the vibration hasn't quite processed completely in my mind but I know where the monster was headed to. Footsteps. People. Not for long, the monster stopped as we stepped into a clearing. I quickly hid myself behind a tree and tried to catch my breath as quietly as I can manage. I heard a shuffling of footsteps and I peeked to see what was happening. All I can see was the drakon's scaly back. I sheathed my sword and began climbing the tree quietly. I heard the monster roared and I almost toppled over because of surprise. I steadied myself using the tree trunk and climbed a little more. I had myself balanced on a tree branch when I heard the stomping of the monster's clawed feet. I heard something bounced off and an angry voice that almost stopped my breathing.
"Come back here, you stupid lizard! Don't tell me you're a coward?! Face me, punk!"
I stopped. My breathing suddenly shallow. That voice...could it be? I looked down and from the crowd of armored teenagers, I saw her. Light brown hair. Intimidating brown eyes. Athletic stature. Clarisse La Rue. My nails dug deeper unto the tree trunk. She's here. I felt a rush of relief and anger welling up inside me. Finally, my search was over. But a voice at the back of my mind said, Not yet. The test isn't over yet. The monster turned to them and roared, its eyes full of hatred. It lunged toward the group, scattering them. It slashed its tail and spat poison. The demigods dodged and attacked but their weapons were useless against the monster's hard skin. The battle continued but the half-bloods only succeeded on tiring themselves. Their weapons made no injury on the monster. Soon enough, they were huddled in a huge group of tired demigods, shields locked at front and weapons raised heavily on hand. The monster advanced toward them, ready to melt them down into a huge puddle of demigod goo. I drew my sword, the energy inside me greater than ever. This is my test, not theirs. I must finish this. All by myself. I readied myself and shouted.
"Hey, lizard brain! Am I not the one you're pretty anxious to kill?"
The monster turned toward me and so did the demigods. The monster roared and slashed its tail toward the tree. I jumped off and rolled on the ground, stopping on my one knee and leg. I looked beside me to find a tree broken in half. Seriously? Can it not just slammed itself toward the tree? Don't it have any idea how many trees it had just slashed into half? I ran to the side as the creature spat poison on me. It roared and lunged toward me. I whirled my sword around my hand and stabbed it to the monster as I moved aside from it. Its plated skin almost scraped me but I managed to moved a reasonable distance. The monster stomped angrily as the long wound on its body bled. It slammed its tail and I dodged. I slashed my sword on its tail, cutting it from its body and disintegrating into fine dust. It roared angrily and ran toward me. I ran toward it, sword at the side. We passed each another, a sound of something slicing rang into my ears. I slowed down as I got passed it and lowered my sword. I heard a loud THUD! and a burst of something disintegrating. I looked over my shoulder and saw a huge pile of gold dust.
"Well, that settled it." I said. I sheathed my sword and brushed the dirt off my clothes. I picked up my bag and slung it over my shoulder. Then, a familiar voice called me.
"C-Christine...?" I stopped. The voice seemed to hang on the air. I slowly turned and saw Clarisse at the front of group. Her expression full of surprise and disbelief. I felt my hand moved toward the hilt of my sword. My guard went up. I fixed my eyes to hers.
"Clarisse..." I said. I was surprised of the sharp edge within my voice. But what is more surprising is when I drew my sword and lunged toward Clarisse. It happened so fast that I only found myself pinning Clarisse on the ground, my sword on her throat. I heard the surprised shuffling of footsteps and metal clanking around me. But I had all of my attention on Clarisse.
"Where is Trisha?!" I growled, my voice sharp and dangerous. Clarisse tried to struggle but was too surprised to break free.
"C-Christine! I-I will explain!" She choked. I pushed my sword nearer to her, the blade glinted dangerously as if it was picking up my emotions.
"Then, explain! NOW!" I demanded. Shouts and the sound of weapons drawn and shields locked surrounded me. I tried to ignore it but failed when an authoritative voice called out.
Chapter 6: Welcome to Camp Half-Blood: A Place Where Things Get Weird
"What's the meaning of this?!"
I looked at the source of the voice. My jaw dropped as soon as I laid my eyes on the speaker. From the tip of his hair to his waist, he is man of about 30 to 40 years. From the waist to the very tip of his toenail no...not toenail, it's hoof, he is a horse. No kidding! He is a human-horse hybrid! My eyes moved up and down, trying to register what they are seeing. My mind raced. The triplet always recounted the tales about the Greeks to me ever since I was a child. They always tell me that someday, the stories they kept retelling will help me. And I definitely need them...NOW! My mind worked double time. What do you call those humans that are half-horses? Centers. Canters. Ah! Centaurs! Wait...a CENTAUR?! My eyes looked at him from top to hoof, unable to register what I am seeing. I let go off Clarisse and stood up, clearly confused.
"Oh no no no no!" I said. " I think I'm getting crazy. First, the vampire girls. Then, this demigod business. Then, those reptiles monsters. Then, this? A half-human, half-horse? A centaur? Who are you, people? Are you even real?!" I might sound insane or ridiculous even though I already have my answers, but I was TOTALLY having a hard time processing everything. I need assurance alright. I want to be sure I'm not going crazy, or dreaming, or even hit my head with everything I am seeing. Cut me some slack, okay?
"If you can see us, Miss-whoever-you-are, in a way that is quite ummm...insane? Weird? Whatever you want to call it. Then, I assure you that you're not getting crazy. You're perfectly normal. Normal in a uhhh... in a godly way."
I looked at the speaker and gasped in shock. He is a Caucasian wispy bearded guy who is a bit shorter than me. He has brown curly hair and brown eyes. Out of his crumple of curly hair, small horns stuck out. He wore a orange shirt beneath his armor and a reed pipe hung at a cord around his neck. From the waist up he is human just like the centaur guy, but waist down, he has hairy goat legs. I stared at him, unable to speak.
"If you're wondering what I am, I'm a satyr. And please, stop the 'I think I'm really getting crazy' craze 'cause I'm telling you AGAIN you're NOT getting crazy. You're perfectly absolutely normal IN a godly manner." He said.
I pulled my jaw up and calmed myself. My hand gripped tightly on the hilt of my sword."Alright. Alright. I'll stop. Just...just help me clear things out. Who are you people? And where...where is this camp of half-bloods? I was kinda lost when I was chased by those dragon-looking monsters." I asked.
The centaur guy walked toward me, his eyes studying me."I'm Chiron, the activities director and this is Grover." He nodded in the direction of the satyr boy. "And these people around you-" He swept his hand around. "Are half-bloods most commonly known as demigods, children of gods and humans." He then, focused his eyes on me. "And just over this hill is the camp you're seeking for. Camp Half-Blood, the camp of half-bloods."
I swallowed, feeling happy and nervous at the same time. So...I'm really here. Finally...the place. The place where I really belong to.
"Wait Chiron!" All eyes flew toward Clarisse. She looked at me with disturbed eyes. "She isn't a demigod. She's there with me when I encountered the empousai. She was able to see through the Mist but the empousai didn't attacked her and just regarded her as an ordinary human." Everyone looked at me with confusion, murmuring at each another.
"But if that's the case, then why did the drakons chased her around?" One of the demigods asked. He was a tall and handsome guy the same age I was. He has jet black hair and bright sea green eyes. He is very fit, muscular, and lean and has a tattoo of a trident and SPQR on his arm.
"It's because of the Mist. The Mist is very strong around her, obscuring her demigod presence completely from monsters and us. Well, I supposed it was strong before. Now, it's fading slowly." A dark-skinned girl with shoulder length curly cinnamon hair and gold eyes answered. Just like the guy before, she has a SPQR tattoo but instead of a trident, a glyph was tattooed on her arm.
"Hazel's right. Though, the Mist still clung on her strongly. I wonder why the Mist is very thick on her." Grover said. He looked at me as if I was an interesting specimen.
"Answers will come the next days. I supposed we had enough questions for one night. And, I guessed our newcomer is quite exhausted. Connor, Travis," A twin of trouble-looking guys looked up. "Please, prepare a place in Cabin #11 for our newcomer to stay in, well, until she was claimed." The twin boys nodded and ran off toward the camp. "Everyone, please return to your cabins. It's already past 11:00 pm. Anyone who would lag behind, well, be sure not to end up into harpy dinner." A series of disappointed groans and mutterings as the campers departed, leaving Chiron and Grover with me. I gave Chiron a puzzled look.
"Harpies?" I asked.
"It's too late for a orientation. Tomorrow will do. Come, let us go to your cabin. You had quite a night."
I followed Chiron and Grover out of the woods and down to the hill toward the camp. They led me past a number of cabins, each have a unique exterior and numbering on its own and toward the front of the oldest and most worn-out-looking cabin. Its dull brown paint is chipping off and a caduceus hung above the door. A number 11 hung above the door and a caduceus on the door itself. We stopped on the porch.
"This is Cabin #11. This cabin was built in honor of Hermes, the messenger god. All newcomers who aren't yet claimed like you stay here since Hermes is also the god of travelers. Until your godly parent claimed you, you will stay here with the Hermes kids. But, don't worry, claiming does not take long. Well, it takes long many years ago but that's another story. Anyway, claiming happens the moment a demigod arrived in camp or during the bonfire. In case, well...I guess, it's just a guess mind you, you will be claimed tomorrow or if your godly parent's in the mood, tonight."
"Tonight?" I repeated.
"Yeah. Any moment now. We just need to wait." A few minutes passed and nothing happened. We just stood there like complete idiots.
"Ummm...How long should we wait here?" I asked.
"Honestly, I have no idea. Claiming happens anytime. And, as far as I know, there's no such thing as godly traffic."
"Well, we just need to wait for the gods to be in the mood and all. And while we're doing that, we need to let the night pass. So, you'll be staying in this cabin til' you're claimed. In case you were claimed within the night, just go out and scream OH MY ZEUS! MY GODLY PARENT CLAIMED ME! I AM A CHILD OF INSERT GOD'S NAME HERE! DIRECTOR CHIRON DUDE! WHERE'S MY CABIN? ASDFGHJKL. Like that. Got it?"
"Good. Now I'm off. Remember just scream if your godly parent claimed you, alright?"
"That's a good girl. Bye for now. Good night!" He began walking away but stopped and turned."Oh yeah. Hermes is also the god of thieves. Keep an eye on your belongings especially your wallet. Ciao!"
I watched him walked away and disappear at sight. I turned to the door. Dear me. I watched one of my friends fought donkey vampire girls. I learned I'm a daughter of a Greek goddess. I was chased by those what did they call them? Drakons? And now, I'm going to spend the night in the cabin of the children of the god of thieves. Right...I really am crazed. I guess I need to call a mental institution as soon as possible. For all I know, I'll be seeing flying pigs and the ground and sky in switched positions. But for now, I need to get used to this. Get claimed and know who are my real parents and (I hope) live a normal life which absolutely impossible now.
I was about to knock when the door opened and arms yanked me inside as music blare and lights blinded me.
Chapter 7: The Wise and the Seaweed. The Wise Seaweed?
I rubbed my temples as I stepped out of the cabin. These Hermes kids sure know how to party hard. I wonder how the entire camp didn't hear the loud music nor see the blinding lights from the cabin last night. Guess they work some magic or something in their cabin so that no one outside would hear or see them partying. I looked back inside the cabin. It was a huge mess. It was as if a huge tornado swept all over the place. Food wrappers, pillows, and blankets scattered everywhere. Some party decorations hung loosely from the ceiling and the walls while some were torn into pieces. Most of the campers were sleeping on the floor. A few were on their bunks but I doubt they were any better than those on the floor. It was either only half their body is on the bed or they were a centimeter away from falling to the floor or to a camper sleeping on the floor.
I remembered a girl knocking at the cabin door early in the morning. I was the only one who was able to wake up because all of the Hermes kids slept like they were in a coma. It took me minutes to cross the sea of sleeping campers and move a couple of campers sleeping on the floor beside the door before I managed to pry open the door. I was greeted with curly golden blonde hair and a pair of unnerving stormy gray eyes. She reminded me of some strict Math teacher I had way back then. She looked at me like she was studying a peculiar specimen or solving a physics problem. It sent quite a shiver on my spine and instantly I felt self-conscious. I wanted to slam the door close and find a mirror to see if my hair was like it was struck with lightning or I had something undesirable on my face. Luckily, the messy cabin caught her attention and gave me a second to breathe and calm myself.
"Hermes kids...I wonder if I should ask Chiron for a surprise cabin inspection." She turned back to me."I hope their messiness don't rub on you, hoping you're not a child of Hermes too."
I shrugged. "Don't worry. I wasn't raised like that. They don't like the house to be dirty even a bit. They will kill me if they spotted even the tiniest of bread crumb in the kitchen."
She nodded. "That's good to hear. Anyway...here." She handed a pile of orange Camp Half-Blood t-shirts. "Wear them. It will be like your camp uniform. It will help the other campers know which camp are you from especially now that the Romans are here to visit."
"Romans?" I asked.
"Roman demigods. There are two kinds of demigods. The Greeks and the Romans. This is because the gods have two aspects: Greek and Roman. Like Zeus, the king of gods. His Greek aspect is Zeus. His Roman, Jupiter. Hera is Juno. Poseidon is Neptune. Hades, Pluto and so on. Anyway, you can differentiate the two groups with their camp shirts. The Greek demigods wear orange camp shirts saying Camp Half-Blood while the Romans wear purple shirts saying Camp Jupiter. That's their camp anyway."
"Oh yeah. Chiron, the activities director is requesting you to see him at the Big House. It's just over there beside the strawberry fields. Guess you'll going to have your orientation."
"Ummm...okay. Thanks." I smiled. She nodded and walked off without a word.
As soon as she went out of sight, I let my tense body relax and wait to steady my breathing. Damn. I felt I was melting and evaporating out of sight. That girl was very unnerving especially those eyes of hers. Who was she anyway? I hauled myself up and went back to the cabin to take bath.
Argh! Remembering that girl made my head ache more. I looked around. Most of the camp was still asleep. Only a handful were out and milling around. I looked off the distance and saw the Big House. I adjusted my sword belt and walked toward the Big House.
As I got closer, I saw the familiar half-human, half-horse activities director on the porch of the Big House. I gave a hesitant smile as I approached him. I looked up at him and wondered Is he rideable? He coughed at his fist and spoke up.
"As always, we will start with a brief introduction about each another. I know you already know but again, I'm Chiron, the activities director of Camp Half-Blood. And you are, young lady?"
"Christine Galliardo ummm...Sir Chiron."
"Chiron will do." I nodded."Christine, as activities director, I welcome you to Camp Half-Blood. Here, you will learn the ways of the famous and powerful heroes in the olden times and be trained to be one. There are lots to be learned but first, let's start with the basics. And that is, knowing the camp. Come. I will introduce you to your guide." He trotted off and I followed close at the side.
Honestly, horses kick hard though I never experienced getting kicked by a horse. Of course, I DON'T want to experience that especially with a hybrid one. That's why I'm trying to keep a close and safe distance possible. We walked toward the cabins. Chiron called out the same girl who knocked to the Hermes cabin earlier in the morning. She walked toward us with a guy with jet black hair and sea green eyes who seemed familiar. Perhaps I've seen him somewhere.
"Annabeth, this is Christine. Christine, Annabeth. I hope you already got acquainted earlier in the morning. She is the counselor of the Athena cabin. She will be your guide. And of course, Christine meet Percy. He is the counselor of the Poseidon cabin."
"Hi. Nice to meet you." Annabeth said and we shook hands. The same goes with Percy.
"Now, Annabeth, I'm handing the responsibility in looking after Christine to you. Teach her all necessary things she needed to learn about camp, alright?"
"Understood, Chiron." Annabeth said.
Chiron nodded. "If you have any question, don't hesitate to ask Annabeth. She's highly reliable." I nodded. "Now, if you will excuse me, I have to prepare for my class. I will leave you for now." He trotted away.
"Looks like you got a job to do, Wise Girl. Want me to help?"Percy asked
"And end us up in canoeing all day? Nah. Just play with Jason. Besides, this will not be a tough job. Don't worry."
"There's never a tough job for you, Annabeth. Well, except for that quest under Rome to retrieve the Athena Parthenos a few months ago. You were almost got by-who was that spider lady again? Acne?"
"Arachne." Annabeth rolled her eyes.
"Acne. Arachne. But the point is you really hate spiders and-"
"Percy, I'm going to drown you if you don't shut your mouth." Annabeth glared.
Percy raised his hands. "Hey. I'm a Poseidon kid. I can't drown."
"Right. Then, I will just ask Frank to turn into a giant eagle and carry you in the air.
"Whoa! Whoa! Stop there!" Percy made a time out sign. "You know I can't stay in the air. You know that Zeus will zap me into a crispy Percy if I try to enter his domain."
"So, just do me a favor and play with Jason. I can handle this."
"But-" Annabeth cut him off with a kiss. Percy stood there dumbfounded after Annabeth broke the kiss. "Now, go, Seaweed Brain. I will see you at breakfast." Annabeth turned him around and pushed him gently. Percy walked off like in a trance.
Annabeth turned her attention to me."Sorry for that." She apologized.
"It's alright. But I'm worried about him." I pointed at Percy. "Will he be alright?" I asked.
Annabeth waved her hand dismissively. "Don't worry. He will come back to his senses soon. Sometimes, it's really hard to stop him talking. Besides, we haven't yet started the tour. Let's start so that we'll finished right in time for breakfast. Come."
We started walking and Annabeth started her tour guiding.
Chapter 8: Cabin #2: The Cabin of the Most Notorious Goddess
Our tour ended at the pavilion. Annabeth gave me my schedule before meeting up with Percy. I sat down with the Hermes kids and watched the scene around me. The pavilion is bustling with hyperactive kids. Especially the Hermes table. Some of the tables have only a few campers occupying them just like the Poseidon table wherein Percy is the only occupant. I also took notice of the Zeus and the Hades table where there were only one to two occupants in them. I remembered what Annabeth had said a while ago, that the children of the Big Three: Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades are a whole lot powerful than other demigods. Which, I will definitely not doubt at all. When I met Percy, he seemed to be the kind of guy that doesn't take things very seriously. But every time one would looked at his eyes, you could see raging waves hidden behind the calm ripples of the ocean. I haven't known the guy at the Hades table, but sure, he gives me the creeps. He looked like some kind of ghoul or something unlike his Roman sister. I believe in ghosts but absolutely I don't fancy to meet one. But if I have to choose, I guess I will just pick messing with a ghost than a child of Hades especially if it's that guy. The guy at the Zeus table, sure, he is handsome expecting from the son of the king of the gods but not my type. He has blonde hair and electric blue eyes. He was wearing glasses with frames of Imperial gold. He got an aura of authority around him but that doesn't seem to affect his friendliness with the other campers.
That lot made me remember something Grandma Lin said. Seek the Seven. They can help you. I tapped my fingers on the table. The Seven. Who are they? Are they the most powerful demigods here at camp? How can they help? What are they going to help me for? I sighed. I still have many things to settle. But first things first, I need to learn everything I need to learn in this camp. Learn everything needed to survive. Learn everything to be powerful. And then, I will seek the Seven, find Trisha and know who really am I. Admittedly, I'm not satisfied knowing that I'm a demigod. There's something missing. A huge missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle. And I know that arriving in this camp is just a small step to the answers to my questions.
After eating, we left a small portion of our breakfast and threw it to a bronze brazier. As I placed my food, I prayed that my godly mother would finally have time and recognize me as her own. I'm getting a bit distressed that she haven't still claimed me ever since I arrived at camp. Just be a mother to me even for a moment and recognize me as your own. I prayed. But of course, I can't afford to be emo all day. I needed to attend all my classes. If I want to save Trisha, I need to get stronger and smarter than I am now. The sooner, the better. And besides, attending camp classes might give me a hint who is my mother. Well, I hope Grandma Lin was right. For all I know, I might be a daughter of a god not a goddess. I left the dining pavilion and went to my first class.
I slumped down on the stairs of the porch of the Hermes cabin. I felt exhausted from all the activities I've just gone through. I discovered that I'm good at archery but not as good as the Apollo kids. I'm realized I'm fond of flying which was some kind of strange because I always had fear of heights when I was a child. I also learned that I understand dragon language. I sort of accidentally discovered it when I landed on Half-Blood hill while riding on a pegasus. We landed next to Peleus who looked up at me as smoke came out from his snout.
First time riding a pegasus, eh? You're not bad but not as good as that son of the sea god.
I gaped at him."You can talk?!"
Peleus snorted. Yeah. Dragon language, yes. You demigods can't understand at any way possi-wait?! You understood me?!
I shrugged. "Yeah. I guess. It's that unusual?"
Peleus widened his eyes. No kidding, girl?! You can really understand me?!
The pegasus I'm riding whinnied impatiently as if saying Boy, does she have repeat her answer to your question? Are you deaf? Come on now. I wanna go back to the stables. I'm hungry.
"Uh...yeah...sure. Bye, Peleus." We flew back to the stables.
As far I'm concerned, there is no god of dragons but I'm pretty sure gods can understand every being in the universe. I haven't told anyone yet that accident with Peleus. I don't think they would believe me. Plus, I've been busy with my camp activities.
I still have one activity left which is sword and shield practice. I wondered who will teach me. Annabeth said that it will either one from the Ares cabin or Percy. I haven't seen Percy's sword skills yet but I guess it won't matter who will teach me. Both sides seemed to be good at battling one way or another. I stood up and stretched a bit. Though I'm tired, I can't stand doing nothing at all. I decided to have a little stroll around camp.
As I walked around, some campers smiled and greeted me. I had a brief conversation with a few. Once or twice, I almost got caught between friendly cabin wars which consists of paint bombs, rotten tomatoes, and other things I wouldn't like to know. I wished that they remember that there will be a surprise cabin inspection tonight because if any of the Hermes kids asked me to help clean the cabin a minute before the inspection well...Let's just say they will just be able to see me AFTER the inspection.
I stopped at my tracks when I approached Cabins #1 and #2. Instantly, I felt the same fluttery sensation I had when I passed the two cabins during the camp tour. I honestly don't know why I'm having that sensation in my stomach every time I went near the two cabins but if I had to guess, I supposed it's just because they were the rulers of the gods and that it is natural to feel a bit uneasy whenever one is near something related to them. I haven't seen the inside of other cabins other than the Hermes cabin. I don't also think that trespassing in other cabins is allowed without permission. But, being a natural curious, sometimes troublesome girl, I guess I will never follow that even though it is a rule. I skipped the Zeus cabin because the blonde Jupiter kid went in before I could move a muscle. Having no other choice, I walked and stood in front the door of the Hera cabin.
The cabin is a formal-looking building made of marble with slim columns garlanded with pomegranates and flowers. It was built in a similar structure with Cabin # 1 but more graceful. The walls and the door were carved with images of peacocks, the sacred bird of Hera. It has an elegant atmosphere around it befitting the queen of the gods. I pushed the door open and gazed at the interior of the building. It was built in a semblance of a temple. A huge statue of the goddess was erected on the center of the cabin. Below the statue is a fire are no furniture due to the fact that the goddess was the goddess of marriage and she never had an affair with any mortals. Despite the fact no one had lived in here, the cabin is clean and sparkly.
I looked up toward the statue. The goddess was shown in ancient Greek clothing and held a staff topped with lotus, her sacred flower. A peacock was sitting on her shoulder. Despite the fact it is elegant and regal, it has a cold intimidating air around it. Well, one could assure, it was because Hera was an impatient and jealous goddess. She was known to make children not her own but were sired by Zeus to suffer and live miserable lives. It made me wondered about that Jupiter guy. I wondered if Queen Hera had already made him miserable. I hope I don't end up being a daughter of Zeus, in case, Grandma Lin was wrong which of my parents was the godly one. I sighed and approached the statue.
Strange enough. This statue of Hera made me think of Aunt both have the same regal and beautiful appearance but they differ in charisma. Aunt Beryl has a kind and approachable aura which was the complete opposite of Hera. If Hera's intimidating as a statue, I wonder how it would if it is the real goddess. I shivered. I don't want to think about it. And I definitely don't want to meet the goddess.
But, then...why I'm even here? Annabeth said the cabins serve as a show of honor and respect to the gods. It serve as shrines or temples thus, having a strong and direct connection to the gods. I stared at the tall statue. Hera...the queen of gods and the goddess of marriage, motherhood and women...the glue that binds all families. If Annabeth's right and that the cabins truly have strong and direct connections to the gods, then perhaps, even with the tiniest bit of hope, I could call upon the goddess and ask her to help me know who is my godly parent. I breathed deep and clasped my hands. Please...hear me Queen Hera.
"It is hard but this must be done for her and for Olympus."
I stared at the child in front of me. My child. I sighed sadly.
"A mother will sacrifice everything, do everything, for her child's sake. Even it meansto leave and forbid herself to communicate with her child." I said.
"What do you plan to do now, Your Majesty?" One of the Fates asked.
"Despite the fact how much I wanted to speak to her, how I longed to embrace her, how I wished for her to recognize me as her mother...to know that I love her...I simply cannot claim her. Not now. Not on any day after this. I cannot risk to have my husband's rage on her. No! I cannot! I cannot allow that! We have to wait. Wait for the right opportunity. She have to yet grow strong. We have to wait for her powers to resurface and then..."
"You claim her as your own and Zeus', yes, and prepare her to fight by the gods' side." The Fates nodded.
"Yes...but for now, we have to wait." I looked at my daughter. "She have to wait. Please, my daughter, prepare and grow strong and then...we can be together once again as a family."
Chapter 9: The Dove, the Eagle, and the Fire: The Unlikely Trio
~Piper McLean's POV~
I saw the new girl went in Cabin #2. I called Jason out from his cabin who doesn't seemed to be enthusiastic about going in the cabin. I couldn't blame him though, we had gone a lot of near-death situations because of the goddess. But nevertheless, I got intrigued about the new girl. She had just arrived to camp but already proven herself to be a tough demigod by slaying three drakons in one night. And now, she went in the cabin of the queen of the gods, which was one of the least visited and the most empty cabin in the camp. I got curious why she went in there that's why I asked (more of charmspeak) Jason to come with me and of course, to know her. We walked toward the neighboring cabin.
"Why do we have to go inside when we can just wait for her to come out?" Jason grumbled.
I looked at him. "Come on now, Sparky. Don't be like that. Don't you want to meet her? I'm sure you are as curious as I am." I said.
"Yeah, yeah. But I really don't fancy going in the cabin of the goddess who almost got both camps slaughter each another, you know."
I smiled. "Sure, I don't fancy either but that was months ago. Everything was settled down between the two camps. And plus, Gaea's gone now. There's nothing to worry about now."
Jason shrugged. "Sure. But if I were you, I won't try to provoke the Fates."
I patted his head. "You worry too much, Sparky. If I had provoked the Fates...well, let's just hope we're not the ones in the limelight again."
"Right. Let's hope so. I don't want to go to the House of Hades nor disguise as a smelly old man again." Jason said.
I laughed. I grabbed his arm and pulled him as we ran toward the cabin. We stopped at the doorway and peered inside. The girl was standing in front of the fire pit at the feet of the statue of the goddess. I nudged Jason and approached the girl.
The girl turned around. I almost jumped. It was the first time I came to study the girl's appearance closely. She's taller than me and has a slim and athletic body frame. She has a long liquorice black hair that looked like waves cascading down her shoulders. Her face was beautiful and regal but slightly intimidating which I wished I was just hallucinating seemed to resemble the queen of the gods. Her eyes, which shocked me even more, we're electric blue similar to Jason's and his sister, Thalia. I glanced at Jason, who seemed to be winded too. Looking at it, one could easily swear that this girl could undoubtedly pass as a daughter of Zeus. Now, I know why Annabeth seemed to be anxious giving a tour to this girl earlier in the morning. I looked at the girl and forced a smile.
"Sorry. Did we disturbed you?" I asked.
The girl smiled, dispersing the intimidating aura around her. Strangely, I instantly eased down. "Not really. I was about to leave when you called out."
"Ah, I see. Oh, yeah. My name is Piper. This is Jason."
"Nice to meet you. I'm Christine."
We shook hands.
"What were you doing here anyway, Christine? Not always does a camper visits this cabin." I asked.
"Well, to be honest, I was asking Queen Hera to help me out. She's the goddess of marriage and motherhood, right? So, I hoped she will at least encourage my mother to claim me soon." She said.
"Your mother?" Jason asked.
She shrugged. "Yeah. At least, that's what the people who took care of me said."
"Ah, we see."
"Yo! Piper! Jason! Watcha doing in here?" I quickly recognized the scrawny figure by the door. Leo walked towards us with Calypso at his side.
"Hey, Leo. Hi, Calypso. Looks like the lovebirds were it again, huh?" Jason smirked. I giggled and the two blushed red as tomatoes.
"Hey, Hey! Don't be like that, man. I'm not messing with your love-dovey so don't mess with ours. It's not a crime going all sweetie sweet when you're a couple, right Sunshine?"
"Valdez. You're dead." Calypso glared. Jason and I laughed.
"Come on, Sunshine. Don't be like that. We're going all lovey-dovey just a moment ago be-"
Leo frantically raised his hands. "Alright. Alright. I'm gonna zip my mouth. But really-"
"I'm really gonna kill you. Here and now."
"Hey! Hey! We got a companion. It's the new girl, huh?" Leo pushed between Jason and I in an obvious attempt to save his dear life. "Hello! I'm Leo. The hottest and the most handsome guy that ever existed in-HOLY HEPHAESTUS! WHAT IS THE QUEEN OF THE GODS DOING IN HERE?!"
Jason tapped Leo's shoulder. "Calm down, man. She's isn't Juno er...Hera. She just well...sort of looked like her."
Jason covered his ears. "Dude, do you have to shout?! I mean, we're just inches apart! Ouch...my eardrums."
"Are you guys serious? She does really looked like her. Or in worst case scenario, she might be her."
"Leo." I said.
"Oh no! Don't tell me Potty Face is back and I need to kill myself again with another explosion? "
"Leo." Calypso called.
"No way! That won't happen again. You need to kill me first before I do that again. But don't do that without promising Calypso to follow me to the Underworld, alright?"
"LEO!" The three of us shouted.
I placed my hands on his shoulder to assure him."Look, Leo. There's nothing to panic about. I mean-come on! Gaea's already gone for months now. This girl...her name's by the way is Christine wasn't Hera. She just looked like her, alright? I'm pretty sure Her Majesty's not going to try to resort into something very risky again."
"Pipes. Again. Don't provoke the Fates." Jason said.
"Right. Sorry. What I mean is nothing major will happen again. The rift between the two camps was already fixed. The problem between the Olympians and the minor gods was in progress of settlement. And the issue having you dead again, that's something we won't let happen again. Ever. And plus, I don't think Calypso will be happy being a spirit so calm down, alright? Calm down."
"Yeah...yeah. I'm calm. The calmest of the calm." Leo nodded.
"Good." I smiled.
Jason whistled. "Pipes. I really can't still get over how powerful your charmspeak had become."
I smirked. "Yeah...and it's pretty useful keeping you guys from getting wild and crazy."
"That's reminds me of one occasion..."
"Yeah. You and Percy almost killing each another. I still remember it vividly." I placed one hand on his arm.
Jason nodded. "If it weren't because of you...well..."
"Right. You two would already be decaying this time around."
"Sheesh. The two of you...go to some place private." Leo said.
"Says you." Jason said.
"Ummm...if all of you will not mind." Christine interrupted. "I will go now and have my sword practice."
"Oh! So sorry! We didn't mean to keep you here for long. " I apologized.
She gave a small smile. "No. No. It's alright. I just...I don't want to rude and all."
"It's not your fault. If it will be okay for you, I will come with you to your sword practice. I can handle swords. Maybe...I could teach you something and maybe you can teach me too, you know."
"I don't mind." She said.
"Really? Yay!" I turned to the others. "Guys, see you later at dinner."
"Bye, Pipes! Bye, Christine!"
I grabbed hold of Christine's hand. "Let's go."
We ran out and away from the cabin, leaving the others.
Chapter 10: Beware of the Child of Aphrodite
~Christine Galliardo's POV~
Piper and I raced past the cabins and campers without stopping to catch a breath.
"I heard that the sword practice will be held at the arena this afternoon. It will be a sparring session for the two camps. The best swordsmen will be there like Percy and Hazel. Oh, yeah. Hazel's my friend too. I will introduce her to you. She's a Roman demigod. A daughter of Pluto. Oh, Percy's a friend too. But I guess, you got already acquainted to him, right?" Piper said.
"Yeah. Just this morning with that Athena girl named Annabeth." I replied.
"Annabeth's a good friend though if you just met her, you will find her a kind of unnerving. But as time goes by, you will find her a kind and supportive person."
"You know what? When you arrived here, when everyone learned that you slayed three drakons all by yourself in one night, the whole camp went into a buzz. Everyone's talking about you. They're thinking you're a child of one of the Big Three like Percy, Jason and Hazel. Slaying drakons is the specialty of Ares cabin. But you're not as wild as them. So, it's a big chance you're not one of them, more of one of the Big Three's. Say, you have another powers like controlling water or summoning lighting? Or perhaps, calling spirits?" Piper asked curiously.
I frowned. I don't have any except speaking dragon language. But I don't want to tell anyone about it yet, not that I don't trust Piper or anyone in camp. It's just that I just arrived and I don't know everyone well enough. And honestly, I don't trust myself. Not until I know who is my godly parent and who am I really, I can't lay my trust on anyone yet. Or even let them trust me in any terms.
"I...I don't know." I just replied.
We stopped running. Piper turned to me. "It's that so?"
I nodded grimly. Piper tightened her hold on my hand and smiled.
"That's alright. A demigod will not discover his powers by just arriving in camp. It takes time and I guess, a bit of will. But if you discovered some power of yours, don't hesitate to ask for help in improving it, alright?"
"Anyway, the arena's not far. Let's go." She pulled me and we went running again.
The arena was jam packed with campers from both camps. All were focused on watching the demigods in the middle of the arena exchange blows with their swords. Piper and I moved slowly through the crowd as we search for any available viewing spot. The seats were already occupied and a huge number of campers were standing just to watch the swordplay. A loud roar exploded from the audience and I caught a glance of the demigods at the middle. It was a three vs. one match. Three Ares kids were fighting against a demigod whose jet black hair and sea green eyes I easily recognized: Percy Jackson. The Ares kids tried to attack him at three corners which Percy managed to adapt quickly. They were swift but Percy's swifter. Percy stayed a defensive stance as the three attacked him all together. Soon, he found an open and broke through them. He went offensive and quickly defeated them in no time. The crowd went wild as Percy was announced as the winner.
"Percy's great at swords, don't you agree?" Piper asked.
"Yeah. Honestly, this is the first time I saw him fight but wow...I'm speechless." I said.
Piper laughed. "That's almost my reaction when I first saw him fight. But what do you expect from a guy who was the child of Poseidon and saved the world and the gods many times?"
I stared at her at disbelief. No way! Percy's that powerful?!
"Piper!" A voice called out. We turned to see two Roman demigods running toward us.
Piper greeted them with a smile."Hi, Hazel! Hi, Frank! What's up?"
"We're fine. Just enjoying the sword practice." One of the Romans said. He is a tall and handsome Asian-Canadian guy with black military-cut hair and brown eyes. He is lean but muscular. He is wearing a an eagle medal on his purple camp shirts. A bag was strapped on his back which I immediately find odd. He looked over Piper's shoulder and met my eyes. I flinched and looked down. "Hey, Piper. Who's the girl behind you?" He asked.
Piper smiled. She moved a little and gestured. "Guys, this is Christine. Christine, Frank and Hazel."
"Nice to meet you, Christine." Frank said.
"Nice to meet you too." I smiled.
"You seemed familiar..." Hazel looked at me, thinking."Wait a minute...are you, perhaps, the girl that just arrived last night? The one who killed the drakons?"
I gave a small smile. "Afraid I am."
She gaped. She took my hands. "You're that girl! It's very, very, nice to meet you. You know what, everyone's talking about you like crazy. They wanted to meet and know you more."
"Really? I'm very flattered. But, I guess there are demigods here that are a whole lot better than me."
"Sure, there are." Piper said, nodding at Percy. "But, slaying drakons before arriving camp...that's a different story."
"Yeah. Piper's right." Frank agreed. "You know, Percy slayed the Minotaur before arriving here at Camp Half-Blood. But if you compare it to slaying drakons, well...drakons are extremely hard to kill than the Minotaur. No doubt."
I just shrugged, anxious to change the subject. I'm not a limelight person like Trisha. I'm not used to all the attention nor do I feel comfortable. I prefer to be at the back of the crowd, doing my own business without any eyes trained on me. Despite that, I often have the urge to step up and lead whenever there's no one leading or I don't agree with the leader. But, often I shun it, not because I'm afraid to commit mistakes and be blamed for it but because I don't want to put others in dangers because of me.
A loud roar of approval rose from the spectators as Percy knocked another pair of Ares kids below.
"That's his 11th win out of 0 losses. Looks like he's aiming to break his current record." Frank noted.
"What's his current record again?" Hazel asked.
"36 wins out of 1 loss." Frank answered. "That one loss was because of Annabeth, right?"
"Yeah. Caught Percy off guard with a kiss. That totally set the whole camp wild for a week." Piper said.
"I don't think wild is the right word. After all, this is a camp swarming with ADHD kids who have immortal war freak parents." Hazel said.
"But I'm lactose-intolerant. Not attention deficient." Frank exclaimed.
"But you have an immortal war freak parent. An immortal war freak dad who is the god of war." Hazel said.
"Right. Thanks for reminding." Frank mumbled.
Another roar of approval. Percy defeated another bunch of Ares kids who limped back to their siblings. Percy reunited with Annabeth and Grover at the sides of the stage below. Connor and Travis, the twin counselors of Hermes cabin, stepped forward. The crowd calmed a bit and focused on them.
"That was spectacular!"
"Now. Who of you people is brave enough-"
"To challenge our undefeated champion?"
The crowd grew completely silent. Everyone looked at each other, waiting for anyone to respond.
"Come on now, people. Don't tell me you're afraid getting your asses-"
"Kicked out? Hahahahaha!"
"Why DON'T you go and challenge him?!" A camper shouted.
"Why don't you?"
"Don't tell us you're afraid to get your asses kicked out?" The crowd complained.
"One trouble point for Connor and Travis." I said.
"I wouldn't be surprised. After all, they're troublemakers." Piper said.
"Yeah. But still...them fighting Percy? I wouldn't think twice of the outcome." Frank said.
"That's a bit too harsh, Frank." Hazel noted.
"Hey!" Frank raised his hands. "I'm just being honest."
The commotion continued. Connor and Travis seemed to be deciding whether it's high time to run or not.
Percy stepped up and called everyone's attention. "Whoa! Whoa! Time out, everyone." The commotion stopped and everyone looked at him. "This is just a sparring session. No need to get too warmed up. We're here to test our skills and have fun. And besides, Connor and Travis are our hosts. They're exempted." Connor and Travis looked like they're going to cry in joy any minute now. "They will have their turn on the next session, don't worry everyone."
The crown cheered in approval. The twins' mouths fell open and stared at Percy in disbelief.
"Right then! Anyone who wanted to volunteer? " Percy asked.
"Hey, how about you Christine?" Piper suddenly asked.
I looked at her, a bit startled. "Huh?"
"Why don't you try?"
"Try what?" She inclined her head to the stage below.
"Me?" I pointed at myself. Piper nodded. I looked at Percy and back to Piper. I gave her a tight smile and shook my head. "I think I'll pass."
"Why not? You're great at fighting. Last night, the drakons."
"Piper's right." Frank placed a hand on my shoulder. "You're great at fighting. That's evident last night. And besides, this is just a sparring session, just like what Percy said. We're just here to test our skills and have fun. Nothing will be loss. Well, you might lose some limb if you don't think your tactics-OUCH!" Apparently, Piper hit his side with her elbow.
"Frank!" Piper hissed.
"Owww! Sorry! I'm just trying to warn her!"
"Don't mind Frank." Hazel gave me a tight smile. "It's hard being a son of a war god . But seriously Christine, I agree with Frank and Piper here. You should try out your fighting skills. If you want, we can ask Percy to at least go easy on you."
"Please, Christine! Even once!" Piper pleaded. There something in her voice, something powerful urging me to do her bidding. I felt very lightheaded that I didn't realized what I'm saying until I already said it.
"Alright. Fine. I'll do it." I said. I felt like I'm in a trance. Conscious of what I'm doing but cannot control it in my own free will. I tried to keep my cool when the fog in my mind cleared up but deep in my mind, I was screaming, WHAT THE HADES HAD HAPPENED TO ME?! WHY DID I AGREED SUDDENLY?!
I gave Piper a tight smile. She smiled happily and called everyone's attention.
"HEY EVERYONE! WE GOT A CHALLENGER HERE!" All eyes turned and looked at us. The campers whispered at each another, asking who among the four of us will challenge Percy. Percy looked at us but his eyes were focused on me as if he already knew who he will be clashing swords with. Piper nudged at me, encouraging me to speak up. I gripped the hilt of my sword. Sweat covered the back of my neck. My heart thumped twice faster than normal. There's no use of backing out now. You had committed yourself and be committed you must be. I raised my hand.
"Me. I want to challenge him...well if it's okay with him." I said. Percy smiled like he won a contest of guessing who among us is going to challenge him. "No problem with me. Come on down." Percy waved us over to come down. The crowd grew wild. Piper held my hand and pulled me down the stairs. Hazel and Frank followed us down to the stage.
~Percy Jackson's POV~
I watched them trudged down the stairs. All eyes were following them but were only focused on Christine. I've seen much last night but I admit I'm pretty intrigued how good she can be in battle.Well, everyone is intrigued. The crowd cheered, encouraging Christine to go on.
Finally, they reached the last of the stairs. The crowd grew wilder. I walked up to them, followed by Annabeth and Grover.
"Hey, guys. 'Sup?" I greeted.
"We're alive and kicking as always." Frank said.
"Where's Leo and Jason?" I asked.
"I left Jason with Leo and Calypso. I hoped he doesn't feel out of place with the lovebirds." Piper answered.
"Nah. Bro Jason won't feel that. But I'm sure he wished you let him come with you. He would appreciate to pull out some sword moves and electrocute people who were foolish to challenge him." I said.
"I'm sure he would. Anyway, your challenger." Piper nodded at Christine.
"Right." I smiled. "Glad you volunteered, Christine. Honestly, the camp was wondering how good you can be in fighting."
She gave me a sideways smile. "To be honest, I was confused on why I volunteered in the first place. I kind of I don't know...fell in a trance. Crazy, wasn't? "
We all turned to Piper. "You didn't use charmspeak on her, didn't you Piper?" Annabeth asked. Piper just gave a naughty smile.
"Charmspeak?" I asked curiously.
"Piper can explain that to you later. For now, let's fight." I said.
"Are there any rules?" She asked.
"Well, the only rule is don't kill anyone. But since this is a sword practice, another rule is implemented. The use of godly powers are limited. 98% of the battle should be focused on the use of swords."
"Good. Now, shall we?" She nodded.
Piper placed her hand on Christine's shoulder."Good luck, Christine." She nodded.
Piper and the others moved to the sides. The crowd roared in excitement. We walked away from each other and gave each another smiles of encouragement. She drew her sword and I uncapped Riptide. Connor and Travis walked between us.
"The fight between Percy Jackson and Christine Galliardo is about to be commenced!"
"WAIT!" The crowd stopped and everyone began searching for the source of the voice. Clarisse walked forward. Everyone stared at her.
"I will engage her in combat." She said. No emotion could be found on her face. The four of us looked at each other.
"Uh...hi Clarisse." Connor said. A hint of nervousness in his voice. "It's good to know you want to fight Christine but-"
"Percy's first. So, you kinda need to wait your turn."
"I will fight her first even if I need to kick some Hermes or Poseidon kid to engage her." Her voice was icy cold. She stared at Christine with hard eyes. I looked at Christine. She was looking at Clarisse with the same intent. The temperature seemed to drop drastically. I could feel tension building between them. Connor and Travis looked at me as if saying, HELP! I shrugged and looked over at my friends. They looked at me as if saying, Your choice. Right. Thanks a lot guys.
I moved forward and spoke. "Well, if Christine will be okay with fighting you first, then it will okay with me too."
Everyone waited for a response. They stared at each other for a moment before Christine broke the connection and spoke up.
"No problem with me." She said. I nodded. She smiled as if saying, Sorry Percy. But I need this. I smiled back to assure it's okay with me. I bade good luck and walked to my friends at the sides.
"You did her a good thing." Annabeth said.
"I did?" I asked, a bit confused.
"Yeah. If you will just look closely," Annabeth motioned to them. "they badly need this. I don't think talking will work between them, that's why they need to fight. They need this to fully settle things."
I looked at the two of them. "Yeah. I guess you're right. But I do hope, this WILL really settle things between them."
"Don't worry, Percy. It will. Mind betting for it?"
I smiled. "Me doing my homeworks all by myself for half a year for a three stupid dares?"
Annabeth smiled. "You know your thing, Seaweed Brain. Deal."
Chapter 11: When Best Friends Fight...
~Piper McLean's POV~
I watched Christine and Clarisse glared coldly at each other before walking away from each other. The tension keep growing between the two that I could swear affected the temperature drastically. Despite the sun shining high above the clear blue sky, the temperature in the arena seemed to be of that a snow storm. The whole arena was quiet. Everyone is breathing in the same rhythm, waiting for the fight to start. Connor and Travis hesitantly walked between them. I could swear I could see the drops of sweat trickling down their faces.
"The fight between Clarisse La Rue and Christine Galliardo is about to be commenced!" Connor finally announced.
"This will be a good fight." Annabeth said.
"Yeah. I wished Jason and Leo were here. They will miss a lot." Percy said.
"Fighters ready!" Travis shouted.
Christine adjusted her hold on her sword. Its sharp, bronze blade glinted against the afternoon sun. Clarisse drew her sword. A Celestial Bronze sword formerly owned by one of her deceased siblings. Both focused at each other with a strong intent which I wished I was wrong, to kill. All held their breaths, waiting for the signal.
Connor and Travis looked at each other and finally with a perfect timing they seemed to practice for years shouted the long awaited...
Connor and Travis ran as fast as they could to the sides. Within a split second, the two bronze swords clashed, sending of sparks like a metal being welded. The two girls jumped back and ran toward each another again. Each trying to outpower each another. Clarisse went out for Christine's side but Christine blocked it with the flat of her sword. Christine slashed but Clarisse dodge it. The crowd went wild. Each and everyone cheering for their chosen side.
"Knock the Hades out of her!"
"Send her crying back to her mommy!"
"Spill the blood! Spill the blood!"
The fight went on. Blows and blocks were exchanged. Neither of them planned to let their guard down. Both moved in a speed almost similar to lightning. No sign of weariness can be found in any spot of their bodies. Every move were executed in right timings. The thrill spread like wildfire within the crowd. I watched them completely submerged in awe. This is better than any duel I've seen. Even my friends seemed to agree. They were completely fixated in the battle.
"Who do you think will win?" Hazel asked.
"Clarisse." Frank said.
"What? Because she's your half-sister in the Greek side? " Percy asked.
"No." Frank said. "Because she's one of the best demigods here in Camp Half-Blood. And she's against a new arrival."
"Aren't you updated?" Annabeth asked. "She killed three drakons one night-"
"Clarisse killed a drakon back then, didn't she? And that drakon can only be killed by an Ares kid."
"Yeah, but Christine's better." Annabeth glared at Frank. "She killed three drakons singlehandedly in one night WITHOUT some god's blessing."
Frank raised his hands. "Right. I surrender. But my bet's still on Clarisse."
"Mine's on Christine. How about you Percy?"
"Clarisse." Percy answered.
"What?!" Annabeth glared at Percy.
"Hey!" Percy raised his hands as if to protect himself. "I'm just being honest. I knew Clarisse longer than Christine that's why."
"My bet's on Christine." Hazel said. Frank looked a bit startled but didn't say anything.
"Heard that?" Annabeth turned to me and asked. "How about you, Piper?"
I looked at the two fighting campers before answering. "Christine will win, that's for sure."
"Heard that, boys?"
"Hey, hey. We're not the ones on the middle of the stage, alright. No need to fight over who will win. Let's just watch and see for ourselves."
"Percy's right. Let's just watch and wait." Hazel said.
A loud roar erupted from the audience. Christine seemed to have overpowered Clarisse and closed in to stab her. But before her sword could even move an inch closer to Clarisse, Clarisse managed to recollect herself and with Christine unguarded, slashed at her.
~Christine Galliardo's POV~
Pain flared up at my side. Warm fluid seeped out of the side of my body. I lifted my hand and saw blood. I clutched at my side as I lay down on the dusty ground. My vision turned blurry. I could faintly see the outline of my sword a few feet away from me. I couldn't hear anything but the blood rushing in my ears.
Damn! Why did I let myself unguarded?! Why I didn't see Clarisse's movement?! I scolded myself for being careless.Why did I agree on this in first place?!Strength began leaving my body, being replaced by pain. I bit back a scream. Part of me wanted to curl up and wait until I lose consciousness or even die.
"Christine..." A faint voice. Am I hearing voices? Am I dying?
"Christine." The voice again. A bit louder this time. Is it...Mom?
"Christine!" Louder and clearer this time. No. This...This voice...it sounds familiar. I opened my eyes. The world is like an abstract painting. Colors seemed to overlap. I couldn't make even the faintest outline of anything.
"Christine!" Much urgent this time. Against the overlapping colors, an outline came into focus. A girl. Same age. Orange camp t-shirt. Kaleidoscopic eyes. "CHRISTINE!" Urgent and somewhat commanding. Her voice gave my mind a jolt. Piper. The fog began to clear up. Everything came into a sharper focus. Sounds began filling my head. The arena. The campers. Piper and the others. The wild roars and cheers. My sword a few feet away from me. My sword. Everything came back to me in a flash flood.
"Why are you here? You shouldn't be here." A voice.
"How come I didn't noticed you're a demigod like me? We've been together for months now." This...voice. Clarisse.
"No. This could be just be a mistake, right? This couldn't be happening." She sounded confused. Angry. Frustrated. But why?
"This place is dangerous. You shouldn't be here. You MUST not be here. You must return to the mortal world. You're safer there. You're much safer there." Safer? What do you mean?
I turned my head a bit. Clarisse loomed over me. Her hands were raised. Something glistened against the afternoon light. No. I rolled on the ground just in time to avoid her sword. I stood up, ignoring the stupid pain searing at my side, and ran up to my sword. I grabbed it and looked at Clarisse. She looked quite startled. I took advantage of her surprise and went in for a quick attack. I hit the pommel of my sword to her stomach and slashed at her left leg. She stumbled backwards. Blood poured from the deep wound on her leg. The crowd roared. She quickly recovered from her surprise and barely stood up. Before she could even make a move, I went in for an attack. She blocked it with her sword. I quickly attacked again. She barely managed to block my attack.
She's stronger than me, yes. But I'm faster than her.
Our swords clashed again. Sparks flew out. We couldn't go on like this, attacking and blocking only. This must end now. I will win. I twisted my wrist, placing the side of my sword against the flat of Clarisse's sword. I pushed it out of her hand and her sword went flying, landing a few meters behind Clarisse. I took the opportunity and hit her at the side of her head with the pommel of my sword. She fell down on her side with soft thump.
~Annabeth Chase's POV~
The arena was dead quiet. We watched as Clarisse fell down to the dusty ground, unconscious. The world is all but a stopped breathing. It took a moment before everything was registered. She won. Christine won. Clarisse lost. The whole arena went wild. Cheers and screams of congratulations. We followed Piper as she ran up to Christine. Some of the spectators and even some Ares kids ran toward us, congratulating Christine. Clarisse's siblings rushed to her and helped in carrying Clarisse to the infirmary.
"You did it, Christine! You won!" Piper said.
"That was so amazing! We thought you were done for when Clarisse got you." Hazel said.
"Ummm...thanks...I...I thought so too..." Christine seemed to be a bit speechless. She haven't yet completely registered that she won.
I turned to Frank, a big smile plastered on my face."Told you."
Frank seemed a bit embarrassed. "She barely won."
"At least, she won." I said.
Hazel giggled. Frank turned his face away to hide his embarrassment. The joyful cheers continued until a scream cut through like a sharp knife. I turned around. Everyone were gathered around Christine but I couldn't see her nor Piper or even Percy. Hazel, Frank, and I wove through the crowd and saw Christine lying down on the dusty ground, barely conscious. Piper and Percy kneeling down beside her. Piper held Christine's head on her lap. Red fluid blotted the side of her shirt, flowing down to the ground.
"Frank, call the infirmary quick!" I ordered. Frank immediately turned into a falcon and flew away.
"We can't wait for them here. Let's move it. Piper, use your charmspeak. Keep her conscious until help arrives." Piper nodded and started whispering to Christine.
"Percy, help me carry her." I took her shoulder while Percy took hold of the other. Together, we lifted her up and began walking. Piper stayed close behind, keeping her conscious until we saw a falcon flying and a group of Apollo kids coming toward us.
Chapter 12: Still Fighting Even Though Injured
~Christine Galliardo's POV~
White flooded my vision. I blinked a few times until colors began blotting the white canvas of my vision. Above me, the ceiling was painted baby blue against the white walls. Light-colored curtains covered the windows. Rows of beds and fabric partitions filled the room. I rolled at my side, which I immediately regretted doing so. Pain seared at my side. I tried biting back a scream but failed to do so. I moved back to my original position. My head ached and I felt dizzy. I closed my eyes and slowly calmed myself. Footsteps thundered on the other side of the walls. I opened my eyes. The door opened and a blonde girl, a few years younger than me, bursted inside. She walked over and looked at my wound. She went out and return with a tray. She laid it on the table beside my bed and helped me sit up. She took a glass filled with some kind of liquid from the tray and made me drink. It tasted oddly like the homemade brownies Aunt Beryl makes for me every time she came for a visit. Instantly, the pain subsided and strength returned to my body. She cleaned my wound and changed the bandages before leaving the room.
I gave the room a quick look again. It seemed that I am in an infirmary. Some of the beds were occupied by other demigods. I caught glimpses of broken bones and bandaged wounds. Some seemed to be sick. I looked at my bandaged side, wondering how I ended here. Then, everything came back flooding to me. The arena. The fight with Clarisse. Piper's voice. The wild cheers when I won. I won...won...won.
I covered my mouth with my hand to muffle a scream. I won. I won against Clarisse. Oh. My. Zeus. I won. I WON! I closed my eyes and waited for me to calm down. I opened my eyes. I didn't scream but a huge smile remained plastered on my face. Damn. I won. I survived. I laid my head against the headboard, relishing my victory. Then, I remembered. Clarisse. I looked around. I remembered that her siblings brought her here in the infirmary after I wounded her leg and knocked her unconscious. As for me, about how I got here, well, it's still a bit fuzzy. But I do remember Annabeth and Percy carrying me here. Piper whispering behind me, keeping me barely conscious. A falcon flying ahead and a group of kids rushing toward us. Then, darkness. I guess I finally lost consciousness back then. I kept looking around but found no Clarisse. Where is she? Is she out already? I was about to give up when a voice spoke past the partition behind me.
"Finding me?" I can recognize that voice anywhere, anytime. I turned to the partition but didn't moved it.
"No." I answered straightforwardly.
"How about you? Are you finding me?"
"No." She answered.
"You're lying." I said.
"Then, we both lied."
"We really do know when one of us is lying."
"Yeah. Stupid lie detecting sense."
I smiled."Did you made that up?"
"Yeah. As far as I'm concerned, no one had discovered a sense related to knowing when one is lying or not."
"You're listening in class."
"I'm not. Listening to class is nerd stuff. Athena punks do that. They're nerds, after all. Knowing the five senses is basic stuff. Everyone knows about that. Except monsters. All they know was to roar and kill demigods. Nothing else."
"Correction. Not all monsters spend their lives roaring and killing demigods."
"Yeah? Like what kind of monsters?"
"Like Peleus. He's guarding the Golden Fleece, right? Plus, he's not into killing demigods. Well, perhaps killing those who were planning to steal the Fleece, yes."
" I wouldn't disagree on that. You're always the most reasonable one among the three of us."
I grinned."You know what? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard in my 16 years of existence!"
"What?" I could swear she's smiling. "That's true! Ask Trisha. I'll bet my life that she will say the same thing." The smile disappeared on my face. The atmosphere turned gloomy.
"Yeah...I guess she would."
"Sorry...I just...well...I miss her..."
"Me too." I looked down on my hand as I fingered my gold charm bracelet. "I want to find her as soon as possible. I want to save her. Sorry for directing my anger to you, Clarisse. I'm...I'm just frustrated at the way things are now. Trisha was kidnappped and I'm clueless what was happening around me. Within me. I hated being clueless. It's driving me insane!" I blinked back tears and stared at the white walls of the infirmary.
"I'm sorry too, Christine. I kept the truth from you. It wasn't easy being a demigod. Our lives are always in danger. There was never a safe haven for a demigod. Even here in camp. Monsters always follow us. And if that was bad enough, mortals often get caught in the middle of wars without them knowing it. It's pretty hard. I was just trying to keep you from danger's way."
"But that's impossible now, isn't? Turned out I'm a demigod too just like you and Trisha." I imagined Clarisse nodding her head.
"But it's a bit reassuring to know you're good at fighting."
I smiled. "Yeah. I totally kicked your butt in arena."
"Stupid Christine! You barely remained conscious when I got you!"
I laughed."Yeah? But you didn't."
"What the Hades?! You hit me on the head! Of course I will lose consciousness! "
"At least, I won."
"Heh. Beginner's luck."
"What?! You're just saying I just got lucky? Want a rematch?"
"Bring it on!" Then, we both winced in pain. It seemed we got too warmed up that we forgot that we're injured.
"I guess it will have to wait 'till we got better."
"No disagreement here."
Silence. I stared at the baby blue ceiling while listening to the groaning and cussing of some demigods in the infirmary as they accidentally moved their injured body parts.
"I just wanted to ask about what you said in the arena. The one about me being safer in the mortal world."
Silence. I continued staring at the ceiling, waiting for Clarisse to respond. But it seemed that she isn't going to speak up.
"Sorry for asking that out of the blue. I'm just , well, anyone would be concerned when someone said that to them, you know."
We hadn't talked much after that. I stayed for two days in the infirmary before insisting to the Apollo kids that I'm feeling a whole lot better, which was a lie, of course. The wound improved only a little since I got it and if I move too much, it will start to bleed and feel like it was stung by thousand of bees and poured with endless alcohol. Because of this, I need to be extra careful or else the Apollo kids will surely drag me back to the infirmary. I didn't insisted in leaving the infirmary earlier than I was supposed without any reason. First, I hate being bedridden. I don't want to lie down on my back, staring at the ceiling longer than what my hyperactive body and mind can take. Second, I hate feeling pathetic. I hate being pathetic, especially when people give me looks of pity like I was the last of my own species and I'm about to die. Lastly, my godly mother. She hasn't claimed me yet and it's already a few days past the day she was supposed toclaim me. I'm getting pretty worried that she might have abandoned me but Piper said that Percy made the gods promised that they will claim their children as soon as they arrived to camp. Still, I couldn't stop feeling that something is about to happen, something huge, and this is perhaps the reason of my mother's delay.
Chapter 13: Best Friends at the End (Yet Still Wanting to Kill One Another)
It's already two weeks since I arrived at Camp Half-Blood. Training continued until it's just a usual thing for me. My wound was a whole lot better than the past days but I still need to be careful. I always hang out with Piper and her friends during free time. I met a lot of other demigods like Nico di Angelo, the half-brother of Hazel in the Greek side and the counselor of Hades cabin, Rachel Dare, the camp's oracle, and Reyna Ramírez-Arellano, a praetor of Camp Jupiter together with Frank. I came to learn a lot about the world now hardly grasped by mortals, truths hidden behind crumbling pages of history. It is quite unbelievable how fragmented everything I learned in the mortal society, that almost everything that happened in the past and present was stirred by a world that was thought fictional by humans. But I can't blame them, everything changes. We were, after all, like the grains of sand on a beach and the waves are change. The grains of sand never return to the exact positions it was before the waves lapped the shore. Same to us. It is either we let change mold us or we bend change to our will. It all depends on our decisions. Every decision leads to different possibilities and it is in our own will to choose and follow the possibility we desire.
I've been around Camp Half-Blood for almost two weeks but to be honest, I'm starting to feel out of place. New demigods arrive to camp every single day and within a few hours, they were already claimed. But me, who had arrived two weeks earlier than them, hadn't made any progress. Perhaps, I do have more progress than them in training and discovering godly abilities but still...I felt incomplete. Part of a demigod's identity is his/her godly parent, other than their incredible capabilities and mortal parents. To be honest, I couldn't make a great deal about finding who is my mortal parent. It's odd, honestly, when it is a part of a demigods' s identity. Perhaps, I'm telling myself that once I found out who my godly parent is, I could ask her help to find him. Or perhaps, I'm preparing for the worst, that he might have abandoned me or perhaps he was long gone in this world. Honestly, I wouldn't know. I will never know if I don't find out who is my immortal origin. But as days passed by, I began to wonder. Am I unfit to be my mother's daughter, that's why she hasn't yet claimed me?
It was supposed to be another usual demigod night for me when Clarisse came charging in the Hermes cabin and told me, "Get up. We need to talk." My cabin mates were pretty surprised when Clarisse went in without knocking. Connor almost fell off his bed and Travis hid beneath his covers. The usual noise of the cabin was replaced with nervous silence. My cabin mates looked back and forth at us, as if preparing to run out of the cabin if a fight broke out. I glanced at the other campers and sighed. I went out and followed Clarisse, not before getting my sword and readying myself in case a fight broke out between us.
The air was neither cold nor hot. We moved quietly through the camp, hiding within the shadows every time a patrol harpy passed by. Honestly, I'm not a rule breaker. I always follow rules because of two reasons: One, it is the right thing to do. Two, I want to avoid trouble. Finding trouble is Clarisse's job. Making it worse or better is Trisha's. Rescuing them when it turned worse (which is usually the result of Trisha's interference), that's my job. Unlike the two, I had a way of fixing things but if I was the one who found trouble, well...let's just say it always end up into a long-term business. Though I'm not a rule breaker. I admit I'm not truly committed to it. I had a few rare instances of rule breaking and one of these is tonight.
We sneaked passed the pavilion and toward the beach. The moon is full tonight and stars twinkle at varying magnitude. The waves lapped gently against the shore, carrying bits of sand glittering silver under the moonlight. I savored the moment of tranquility, thinking back at the time when I was six. I remembered playing by the shore of a certain beach. Back then, I was running back and forth to the shore, pretending to race against the waves as Grandma Min teasing me that no matter how fast I ran, the waves created by Poseidon will still win. I remembered complaining and childishly declaring I will win. I raced against the waves again and again, which in the end resulted into a very tired body and a long deep slumber.
I looked at Clarisse at the corner of my eye. She was looking at the seemingly endless blanket of water, her eyes a lighter shade of brown under the moonlight.
"You're good at charging into other cabins and telling someone to get their asses off and follow you, but you suck in starting a conversation. What did I do this time for you to delay my sleep and persuade me to break a rule for the second time?"
Clarisse sighed but didn't looked at me. Her eyes still transfixed to the sea like a trance. "To be frank, I asked you to come with me to tell you we haven't found Trisha yet."
I let out a deep breath. "Don't you have a lead? Or even a trace, a clue to her whereabouts?"
"Afraid we don't."
I just stared at the sea. It's all I can do from shouting at her.
"We're still trying to find her, scouting possible hiding places. We also asked for help from the Romans. Though, it would be easier to locate her with the Oracle. But sadly, Apollo's not responding, so we need to do it in our own without any insight." Clarisse breathed deeply. "Let's just hope she's in the gods' protection while we're still trying to find her whereabouts."
My hands closed into tight fists. The feeling of being clueless has wrapped around me like an icy cold blanket . I hate it. I tried calming myself before speaking. "Can I be of any help, Clarisse?"
"Continue training." She answered. "Become stronger. So that if Chiron asked you to join the search party, I wouldn't need to save your butt every single time.
"Swordplay, Clarisse." I reminded.
She looked to me. "You just got lucky, that's all."
I turned to her but she spoke before I could, trying to mimic my voice. "Oh really? Want a rematch?"
I glared at her as she laughed. "You're annoying."
"Annyongly cool." She smirked. I just rolled my eyes.
A cool breeze blew as silence took over. I closed my eyes, letting the wind touch my face and through my long hair.
Clarisse broke the silence."You know, Christine."
I opened my eyes and looked at her.
"There's another reason why I asked you to come with me." She looked at me.
I gave her a go-on-look.
She looked up at the night sky."Remember the time when we were in the infirmary? When you asked why I told you that you would be safer in the mortal world?"
A sudden jolt went up my spine. My heart began beating faster because of something I couldn't fathom. Excitement? Fear? Anxiety? I don't know. I wished I know. Damn. I hate this feeling of being clueless. Being clueless about every single thing. Worst, about myself. I stared at Clarisse, eager for another word.
"The night when Trisha was kidnapped, I had a dream. I saw you walking through a dead field. You found Trisha but before you could reach her, the ground opened up and swallowed you. Then, I heard a terrible laughter. Before I could find where it came from, I found you and Trisha sprawled on the ground." Her hands clenched into tight fists. "Dead."
The word hung heavy in the air. The tranquil view and feel of the beach turned grim. My hands shook and my voice got stuck in my throat. I felt suffocated. There's air around me but I couldn't get it in my lungs. I tried speaking normally but it came out as a raspy whisper.
"It's just a dream, right? It won't happen."
Clarisse shook her head. "Demigod dreams are different from mortal dreams. Mortal dreams are created from fragments of memories and experiences of humans. While on the other hand, demigod dreams are more like a live stream tv. It contains either the past, the present or even the future. They aren't just memories, Christine. They are events that had happened, are happening or will happen. They are useful as they are dangerous. And they really happened in reality."
"That's why you said that." I said, my voice barely a whisper. "You saw me dead...you saw us dead."
"I'm sorry, Christine. I...I should have told you earlier."
I shook my head. "And what? Persuade me to go back to the mortal world and try living a normal life? No...there's no point of going back, Clarisse. You said it yourself. Demigod dreams are glimpses of the past, the present, or the future. If your dream will happen in the future, it will happen. We can't do anything about it."
"But perhaps you might be able to escape it."
"Escape? You mean run away from it?"
"No. Escape. Change it. Delay it. It's a possibility, you know."
"So what if I managed to escape it? How about Trisha? Can she too? No, Clarisse. I can't leave her like that. Even if I managed to cheat death, it will follow me in form of bloodthirsty monsters. I'm a demigod just like you Clarisse. You said so yourself that our lives are always in danger. That there was never a safe haven for a demigod. "
Clarisse didn't speak. I took her hands, pressing my thumbs gently between her knuckles. Slowly, her hands unclenched.
"You said that there's a possibility to change it. Perhaps, it's true. Perhaps, not. But all I know, running away won't do it any good. The better option is to face it. Perhaps, in that way, I might change it. Perhaps, we might save Trisha and the two of us will survive. That's a possibility, you know."
Clarisse nodded. "Not a possibility but an option. After all, we promised to graduate high school together and enjoy the summer before cramming our heads for college."
I laughed. "We promised a lot of things."
"Yeah...wonder if we can fulfill all of them before my skin gets all wrinkly."
I tapped her on the shoulder. "Don't worry, Grandma. We'll fulfill it all before any of us starts to smell like chicken soup. Just help me out here in camp and we'll start by rescuing the princess from those vampires alright?"
"They're called empousa, Christine."
"Thanks a lot, Einstein. That will help in my demigod survival. You know, you're starting to sound like the Athena kids." I managed to draw my sword and block when Clarisse tried to hit me with her electric spear, Maimer (Lamer is what the other campers called it behind her back but I just decided to let them be. I've been hearing stories that the original Maimer was replaced because it was destroyed once or twice already).
"Did I annoy you?" I smirked.
"Christine. I will really kill you." Clarisse said through gritted teeth.
I gave her a taunting smile. "Is that your worst threat? I don't feel any fear in any fiber of my being."
"CHRISTINE!" I laughed. We exchanged blows and blocks as I continued to teased her. We parried until our bodies collapsed on the sand. We stayed there, relishing the moment of peace, before going back to our cabins.
Chapter 14: Flying (and Talking) with Pegasi
Note: I don't own PJO nor HOO. Characters that appeared on this story but not on the books are my own.
"You're doing great, Christine! Keep it up." Piper said as she rode Guido, Reyna's pegasus. Beside them, Blackjack and I soared through the sky above Camp Half-Blood. From above, I could see the whole always-lively camp including Long Island Sound. I saw Leo and Calypso emerging from the armory, all sooty but sweet. Annabeth talking to Chiron on the porch of the Big House. Percy, apparently, picking a fight with Clarisse for the fifth time today. Jason, together with Hazel and Frank, watching us fly above the camp. Hazel hushing Frank who was shouting, "As you guys fly, I'll practice archery. See if I can take down an enemy riding a pegasus in case we got attacked." Jason laughed, telling that him if that enemy was ever Piper, he would be forced to put down his weapons and turned into a giant goldfish. We flew loops in the sky and passed through crowds of demigods who shouted complaints. I closed my eyes, feeling the strong neck muscles of Blackjack around my arms and the strong wind against my face. I never felt so comfortable than flying through the sky. It's strange though because when I was a kid, I was afraid of heights. I remembered Grandma Qin trying to have me cross a high bridge during a school trip. She managed to have me cross it by telling me that if I fall, Zeus, the king of the gods, will surely catch me.
We flew a few more rounds before landing back to the stables and reuniting with Jason, Hazel, and Frank. Frank still complaining about not being able to practice his shooting-down-enemies-riding-pegasus-skill. Piper told him that if he ever practiced that with us, she would force him to turn into a chicken and practice her Frank chicken soup with him. We laughed as Frank turned red and tried to avoid becoming a cute bulldog. We separated ways as the three went to the pavilion for lunch and Piper and I escorted Guido and Blackjack back inside the stables.
I felt a tap on my shoulder as I poured water into Blackjack's water trough. I looked over and saw Piper standing behind me.
"Good job riding Blackjack without falling off. He tends to be a bit hyper like his owner." Piper said.
I smiled, running my hand against Blackjack's shiny black coat."Yeah. But I'm glad that Percy allowed me to ride Blackjack."
Piper shrugged. "To be honest, I feel much comfortable riding Festus. Maybe because I'm got used to riding him since my first quest with Jason and Leo. Oh, well. Let's hurry to the pavilion. I'm hungry."
"You go on ahead. I'll follow. I'll just fill up Blackjack's trough full."
"Alright. Don't forget. Sword practice at two o' clock and Capture the Flag at six o' clock. Meeting place at Cabin #1. Okay?"
I rolled my eyes. "Yes, mom."
Piper laughed. "Just see you there."
I smiled in amusement. "I won't get lost, don't worry." I walked up to her and turned her around. "Now, go to the pavilion and eat. I could hear your stomach complaining. " I pushed her out of the stables and sent her walking.
"It's not!" She shouted over her shoulder. I laughed and disappeared back inside the stables.
Almost took forever. A voice grumbled. I poured another bucket of water into trough.
You're exaggerating, Blackjack. A different voice exclaimed. It just took a few minutes. A few minutes are nowhere near to forever. And besides, it's fun having Piper around.
Whatever, Guido. I still wasted some precious minutes waiting to talk to Christine here.
Guido nickered, obviously annoyed. You talked with her the whole flying practice. You never stopped bragging to Christine how awesome you are the whole session.
Blackjack spread out his magnificent black wings. Because that's true. And you know now that.
Whatever. At least I'm more awesome than you. This sets off the bomb. Blackjack began trotting toward Guido.
I stood up and rushed to block Blackjack's path. "Whoa! Hold it! Time out!" I said. "No fighting while I'm still here or when your owners are not here." I looked at Blackjack. "And will you please fold your wings, Blackjack? You're just gonna shed feathers if you don't fold it back. Who knows that pegasi can have featherfall?"
Blackjack looked at me, horrified. He frantically folded his wings.
I smiled. "Good boy." I walked off and picked the bucket beside Blackjack's water trough. "But of course, that was just a bluff."
Guido's laughter sounded in my ears.
After a wave of choice words, Blackjack trotted toward me. "So...how's our not-a-Poseidon-kid-but-can-talk-to-pegasi Christine?"
I turned and brushed my hand on his head.I sighed. "That's the fifth time you asked me, Blackjack. I'm fine, alright. I'm feeling good that I can easily stop you two from having a fight and getting myself scolded by your owners."
Blackjack nickered. At least, we're not hard to stop from fighting. Unlike you and that Ares girl.
Ooooohhh. Burn. Guido nickered.
I glared at the pure black pegasus."Careful, Blackjack. You wouldn't want me sending Clarisse charging here with a sword and a soap to wash your mouth, wouldn't you?"
Of course. I was just joking, you know. Blackjack said, his hooves shifting nervously on the floor.
Anyway. Guido interrupted. Are you sure you're not a Poseidon kid, Christine? I'm pretty sure that those who can understand us pegasi other than the gods are the children of Lord Poseidon. Are you sure you're not a half-sister of Percy?
"If I were then, Poseidon should have claimed me two weeks ago. But he didn't. And, I can't control water like Percy. Conclusion, I'm not a Poseidon kid."
But still, it's strange, isn't? You can talk to us yet you're not a child of Lord Poseidon. Don't you have any other godly abilities other than being able to understand us?
I looked outside, to the huge tree where Peleus guards the Golden Fleece. "I have but..." I shook my head. "I should go now. Piper will be worried if I don't appear at the pavilion anytime soon." I dropped the bucket at one corner of the stables and began walking toward the door.
Wait, Christine! Guido called up. You said you have other godly are those?
I stopped at my tracks. "It's...it's nothing."
Cut the girl some slack, Guido. Blackjack interrupted. Let her have her lunch. She must be tired from all the training this morning. Ask her some other time.
I looked over my shoulder and caught the eye of Blackjack.
Go on now, Christine. Eat something. See you at tomorrow's flying practice.
I smiled and mouthed the word thank you. I turned and continued walking.
Don't forget to tell me tomorrow how you whooped your opponents' heads in tonight's Capture the Flag, okay? Blackjack called out.
"Don't worry. I won't forget." I shouted back and broke into a run.
I watched her ran toward the pavilion. She had grown fast due to her isolation from immortality. The Fates had done a great job raising her and so did the Mist, in hiding her blood and restraining her powers. But not for long. Her powers are greater than the Fates or even the gods of the ancient. By now, her true blood is slowly resurfacing and her powers little by little, manifesting.
Danger is approaching. We all know it. She could feel it. Every being that exists, whether it's immortal or not, has begun feeling it. The gods are getting uneasy and the fate lies on one clueless demigod, a child of a jealous yet powerful queen. Yet, Olympus hasn't started its rally. We couldn't go on like this. Acting like there is nothing huge brewing and when it's already late, that's the time we'll do our move.
No. A lot is at stake here. More than the last war. I shouldn't know about this yet I do. If her mother, my half-brother, nor the Fates will reveal the truth before it's too late, I will. If the gods will not take a step in this coming war, I will. Even it means risking my father's anger again then, so be it.
Chapter 15: I Spy...
~Christine Galliardo's POV~
I've been feeling uneasy since I left the stables. It felt like someone was watching me but whenever I looked around, there's no one I could suspect. I've lost count of how many times I looked behind me. I must have looked pretty jumpy today that I also forgotten how many times I was surprised by some noise or almost stabbed someone. Despite that, I tried to focus on my training though the uneasines affects my performance badly. I need to practice hard especially that we are against Clarisse's team in Capture the Flag.
"Focus Christine!" Hazel said as I barely blocked her spatha.
I already received about five shallow cuts in today's sword practice. One from Piper, three from Percy, and one from Hazel. Hazel jumped back and charged, scoring another cut. I gritted my teeth and scolded myself for my sluggishness. The uneasiness has made my mind slow and the wounds weren't helping. One more cut and my temper would explode. Hazel went in for an attack and I dodged her. I blocked her spatha and forcefully swiped, sending her spatha flying. I placed the tip of my sword to Hazel's neck, ending the practice duel and claiming victory. I retrieved Hazel's weapon and gave it back to her. The others ran up to us and Piper handed me water and a piece of ambrosia for my wounds. We all sat down on the arena's dusty floor and talked about our strategy for Capture the Flag.
"I received a very bad news." Annabeth said. "The Hunters of Artemis will be coming this late afternoon. Chiron said that they will be joining the other team."
Percy groaned. "You're kidding, right? This is bad. Very bad."
"What's so bad with fighting against the Hunters in Capture the Flag?" I asked.
"Let's just say they've won fifty-six times in a row. The goddess Artemis is with them. She had blessed them with improved abilities." Annabeth answered.
"And to put salt into the wound, we're going against Jason's sister." Percy added, nodding toward Jason's direction.
"Not the kind of reunion I've got in mind." Jason muttered.
Jason's sister. Thaila Grace. Piper once told me that about Jason's sister. She said Thalia is a Greek demigod despite being Jason's sister who was a Roman. She also told me that Thaila joined the Hunters of Artemis to escape a prophecy five years ago. Now, thinking about. I wonder what Thaila looked like. Piper said that other than being children of Zeus, the only thing that the two have in common were their eyes. Electric blue...similar to mine. Other than that, nothing else. That puts me suddenly on the edge. My head began to throb. I began feeling the fluttery sensation in my stomach every time I passed by Cabins #1 and #2. Addition to that, the uneasiness strengthens. I looked behind me and found no one but rows of stone seats rising up until it reached the arena ceiling. I pushed the uneasiness down and tried to focus to our discussion.
"-may looked impossible to beat them." Piper was saying. "But we have to try."
"Piper's right. We must think of a good strategy to win and not to mention, backup strategies in case the first one fails." Frank said.
"Alright then." Annabeth stood up. "Me, Frank, and Piper will meet up with Reyna and think of good strategies for Capture the Flag. Jason and Piper, find Leo and tell him to create something that will help us during the game. Maybe some traps, I guess. Percy, Christine, and Hazel. Will you do the honors of spying on the other team? Any information gathered could help a lot."
"Leave it to us, Annabeth." Hazel said.
"Don't forget to spy on the Hunters when they arrive. And Percy." Annabeth turned her attention to Percy who seemed more interested on the dusty ground than the discussion. "Don't mess up."
"Come on, Wise Girl. When did I ever mess up?" Percy complained.
"Many times already. You're good at finding trouble, bro." Jason said.
"You're the one to talk, bro." Percy shot back
"Alright." Piper interrupted. "Enough with the fighting. We've got only a few hours before Capture the Flag. Let's all get started if we don't want to get shesh kebab by the Hunters later. Let's go."
We stood up and separated ways. Annabeth, Frank, and Piper to the strawberry fields where they built their standard field camp to meet up with Reyna. Jason and Piper to Bunker Nine where Leo was spending his time building mechanical trinkets (with Calypso). Me, Percy, and Hazel to the Ares cabin where the other team discusses their strategies for the game later.
If we have any hope in winning the game, it will be on the information the three of us will be getting. If we fail on this one, well, best we hope we will win by luck alone.
~Hazel Levesque's POV~
After I controlled the Mist to alter our appearances, we proceeded to Ares cabin. We made our way around as I located the land mines hidden around their cabin. The cabin was jam packed with demigods from different cabins. They surrounded a very old rectangular table filled with maps and weapons at the middle of the cabin. Clarisse stood behind it, surrounded by her half-siblings as she spoke (and stabbed the maps with a bronze knife).
"-corner them at this spot." Clarisse was saying. "The Hunters will overwhelm those in this part of the woods while we ambush the other here.
A hand rose up from sea of orange and purple. "Who will guard our flag?"
"We contacted the Hunters through Iris message earlier today. We agreed that me and Thalia will guard the Flag as the others engage with the other team."
Percy scooted closer to us. "Not a good combination. We're dead meats."
"Then, we'll have a small team who will scout the area for the opponents' flag. Other than that, we'll have decoys to lure the enemies' attention so the scouts will be able to move smoothly."
Percy grunted. "Bet that she didn't think of that."
Christine leaned a bit. "Let's move a bit closer so we can have a good look of their maps."
We moved a little closer to Clarisse and looked over the maps. We listened to the discussion for a few more minutes then, we silently exited the cabin. Our disguises faded away as walked fast toward the Roman standard camp at the strawberry fields.
"We're in a bad situation judging from your expression." I said.
"Not just bad. Very bad. Can you believe it? Clarisse has a plan. A PLAN! Who knows she can think? But I'm willing to bet a hundred drachma that she got that from who-knows-who." Percy replied.
"Who?" I asked.
"That's the point! We don't know but they do."
"I don't get you...but if that's the case, we should have stayed a little longer, you know. But then again, if we stayed a little longer, you might have already jumped on Clarisse and blow our cover." I shook my head. "Annabeth would totally go berserk at you, if that happened."
Percy raised his hands. "Look. If that happened, it was only because I'm protecting my dignity."
"Sounds more like it was because you lose your control."
"A part of it, I guess. You can't blame me, though. Anyone would snap if they heard someone say, 'Leave Jackson to me. I'll crush that punk off and hang him upside-down for everyone to see'." Percy smirked. "Well, it's hard to expect but I'm afraid it will be the opposite."
I rolled my eyes. "Annabeth wouldn't let you. If she would even let you, I'm afraid it would end up into a face-off between Clarisse and Christine." I looked behind my shoulder. "Right, Christine?"
No answer. I stopped on my tracks and looked around. No Christine. "Huh? Where's Christine?"
Percy too had stopped walking. "She's with us the whole time, isn't she?"
"Was she with us when we left Cabin #5?"
Percy stared at me and shrugged. The next thing I knew, we were running back to the Ares cabin.
~Christine Galliardo's POV ~
Knowing that the Hunters are on the opponent's side is already bad. Learning that the enemies have a well-polished plan, well, that totally dropped the bomb on us. As the three of us looked over at the maps laid down on the old table, I caught a glimpse of blonde hair and blue eyes somewhere in the sea of orange and purple. I furrowed my eyebrows. Is that Jason? I broke from my group and walked through the crowd, trying to reach the son of Jupiter. I ended up outside the cabin and saw a blonde boy standing by the side of the cabin, hidden between a few trees.
I walked toward him and called."Jason! Hey! Aren't you going to Leo with Piper? What are you doing here?" He turned to my direction and I stopped on my tracks.
He smiled. "We finally meet, Christine Galliardo."
Chapter 16: ...Awesome Apollo!
He looked like Jason. He could have been his brother on the mortal and godly sides. His blonde hair. Those electric blue eyes. All of it were like almost exact copies of Jason's. But what differentiate him from Jason was the way he smile (not to mention Jason's scars). Friendly but haunting. My head throbbed a bit. The way he smiled was like he already knew me a long time ago.
"We finally meet, Christine Galliardo."
A sense of familiarity washed over me. A memory I didn't know I have resurfaced. A blond boy with electric blue eyes leaning over an elaborate golden crib. The sound of a stringed instrument. A lyre, maybe. A voice. A beautiful voice singing. The memory was blurry but the voice and the sound of the instrument were clear as glass. I looked at the boy. My hand landed on the hilt of my sword. My disguise melt off. My voice came out sharper than I intended it to be.
"Who are you?"
He looked quite amused. "My, my...what aura of hostility. Surely, we can afford to relax a bit, can't we? After all, we don't want to draw unwanted attention."
I glared at him. "Answer my question."
"You're just like your mother." He mused."Powerful and wise. Yet if not very jealous, impatient."He shook his head. "I can't blame you though. They isolated you from your true origin when you're still a baby. After all, that's the only reason why you would not recognize one of your step brothers."
I took a step back. My mother. My true origin. One of my step brothers. I couldn't take all of it. My mind went blank for a moment, unable to process what I'm hearing. The throbbing grew painful. My hand gripped my sword tightly. My mother. My true origin. One of my step brothers.
Who are you?
What do you mean?
I wanted to ask those questions. But instead, my hand drew my sword and placed the tip of the blade on the boy's neck. His amusement turned into surprise, shock even. I glared at him.
"Answer my question. Don't bore me with these nonsense." My voice was hard, laced with cold.
His surprise quickly returned to amusement. He chuckled. "Temper, sister. Just like what I mentioned earlier, we don't want to draw unwanted attention." He held my gaze. "How about a haiku to make you ease a bit, hmmm?"
He coughed, as if adjusting his voice.
The wind blows softly,
L ower your sword and let's talk,
I am so awesome."
He grinned at me. "Now, do you feel rela-"
I pressed my sword deeper to his neck. "Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed by your haiku. If you want me to ease down and lower my sword, then answer my question."
"You got a temper issue, sister." He huffed. "But if you insist to know who I am then, I will be glad to oblige. But first, close your eyes."
I glared at him."What for?"
"Just do it." He said.
"I don't trust you." I said, straightforwardly.
He placed his hand over his chest for a dramatic effect. "I'm hurt, sis. Very hurt. I just simply want to protect your beautiful eyes . I don't want you to become blind, you know."
He held up a hand. "Let's just do this. I will swear to the River Styx, I won't run away in exchange that you will swear that you will lower your sword and try not to scar my handsome face."
I minutely shook my head. This guy's impossible. I looked at his eyes and remembered the memory that resurfaced earlier. I sighed in defeat. "Alright. I accept. But then, you will answer some questions afterwards. Try lying or el-"
He waved his hand dismissively. "Lie? Me? Afraid I cannot. It's not in my nature to lie, sis."
I frowned. "You know, you're impossible."
He grinned. "How impossible? Impossibly handsome? Impossibly cool? Oh...you think I'm an epitome of impossibility. Hmm...maybe I should attach that as one of my titles. What do-"
"Why don't we proceed to our deal?"
"Oh yeah. Sorry about that. Anyway, let's proceed." He coughed, adjusting his voice. "I swear to River Styx that I won't run away the moment I revealed to her my true identity." He looked at me, expectantly.
I breathed. "I swear to the River Styx that I will lower my sword and try not to scar this guy's face." After saying that, I lowered my sword but I didn't sheath it back to its scabbard. I looked at him. "Now tell who you are?"
He nodded. "Very well. But, let's go somewhere out of sight."
He snapped his fingers and honey-colored light enveloped me and flooded my vision. When the light faded, I saw myself standing on the fireworks beach. The sun was just above the horizon and rushing waters lapped the sand beneath my shoes. As I ponder how in the world I got here, a voice shattered my thoughts.
"What a marvelous view! But of course, it couldn't be more marvelous than I am."
I looked behind me. The boy was sitting on the grass, separating the beach's golden sand and the camp. He unnerves me alright but nothing could unnerve me other than what I'm seeing now. He's still the same seventeen-year old guy with blonde hair and blue eyes. But instead of a Camp Half-Blood t-shirt, he was wearing a golden Greek robe. He became taller and more muscular and bronzed just like a Baywatch lifeguard. His hair grew longer and tied back in man-bun. He wore a golden laurel wreath on his head and a beautiful golden bow and a quiver of magical golden arrows slung over his shoulder. His eyes were still blue but it shone like the sun. He was surrounded with a flickering aura of honey-colored light.
I gaped at him, blinked a few times to see if I'm dreaming. I hate to admit it but he was extremely handsome. He could have been the epitome of handsomeness. I tried to speak but it came out as a croak.
"W-Who are you really are?"
"Me?" He smiled, sporting his blinding white teeth. "I am Apollo. Son of Zeus and Leto. Twin brother of Artemis. I am the god of the sun, healing, music, poetry, prophecy, archery, and truth. And..." He looked at me with a grin that almost reached up to his ears. "I am the god of impossibility. Of course, credits to you, sister." He winked.
I am a bit too stupefied to react rudely to his new stupid title. I discreetly pinched my arm to make sure I'm not dreaming. Apollo...a god had appeared to me? I looked around to see if there's any Hecate kids nearby who might be creating this illusion. None. Just me and Apollo. Is this for real?
"Let me guess. You're thinking that this might be a dream or I'm just a mere illusion." He said. "Afraid it's not like that, Christine. I'm for real! Where can you find such handsome guy like me?"He gestured dramatically."Tell me and I'll bombard him with various plagues."
I'm still shocked with the fact Apollo appeared to me but I tried to recollect myself back. I coughed before speaking. "Ummm...so you're Apollo."
He nodded. "Oh yes! The coolest guy you'll ever find."
I ignored the urge to say, Coolest seemed to be a bit redundant to use as a description for a god concerning the sun.
"So...why me?" I asked.
"Why you?" He looked at me, puzzled.
"Why did you chose to appear to me? There are lots of other demigods out there so, why me? What's your purpose? What do you want with me?"
"Charming. Straightforward just like her parents." He mused. "Anyway, you're right about me. I do have a purpose to personally talk to you." He stood up and walked toward me. His glow was blinding but I managed to look at him. "Let's start with some basic things." His voice slowly turned serious. "Do you know why you're here? In this camp?" He spread his hands, emphasizing his question.
I stared at him, uncertain with his tone. "Because I'm a demigod."
He nodded. "Yes, yes. Indeed, you're a demigod. For now."
For now? I was about to ask about it when he spoke.
"Other than that hmmm?"
"To train, of course."
"Yes. To train, to become heroes, champions of Olympus." He nodded. "Other than that? Well...other than saving your kidnapped Aphrodite friend. What's her name again? Ah yes, Trisha Ledger. That poor girl." He shook his head. His voice laced with empathy.
I looked at him, completely stunned. "H-how did you know? Do...do you know where she is?"
He smiled, both amused at emphatic. "Yes, I do. I'm the god of prophecy, remember? I can see the future. I have already known she will be kidnappped even before it has happened." He met my gaze. "And I know where she is now, if she's alive or not, her condition, and many other things you're bound to ask. But I'm afraid, I cannot speak about it no matter how hard you try or how terribly you threatened me. But if you wished to know more, then you must find it yourself."
My jaw tightened. Apollo knows where Trisha is. Until now did I realized that my hands were tightly clenched. I forced myself to calm down and unclenched my hands. Apollo wouldn't answer my questions. But still, I need to at least find if Trisha's well.
"Please, Apollo. Tell me...at least tell me if she's well. If she's..." Alive. The word stuck at my throat. I couldn't get it out. Afraid of the answer that will come out of Apollo's mouth. Despite my cut sentence, Apollo clearly understood it.
"Well...I'm not supposed to share anything but I guess it will not greatly affect her situation if I would answer your question." He smiled, warm and comforting as the rays of the sun bathing your skin after a long cold winter. "She's alive. She is indeed in a dire situation but her mother, the goddess Aphrodite, continue to look after her. No need to worry too much. But of course, she will still need some saving."
Tears began to form in my eyes. I blinked a few times in an effort to hide them. Trisha's alive. Clarisse would be happy to hear this . My tensed body began to relax to the point I almost buckled to my knees. I could have jumped again and again in front of Apollo when I remembered his question. What is the other reason why I'm here other than being a demigod, to train, and save Trisha? I looked at Apollo. He's looking at me expectantly, as if he knew I remembered his question a while ago. I looked down, hesitant to answer.
"My mom..." I muttered, my voice barely audible. "The other reason why I'm here is to find out who are my parents. Particularly, my godly parent. My mother." I looked up and met his gaze. "You know who is my mother, do you Apollo? You compared me to her for already a few times."
"Yes. I do know her."
"But you would not tell me."
He shook his head. "Afraid I won't. Not without a condition."
I stared at him. Half-uncertain. Half-eager. "What condition?"
"As eager as her mother." He chuckled, lightening the mood. "My condition is pretty simple, sis. You just need to prove to me that you're worth my time and help then, I will gladly be of your assistance. You just need to defeat the other team in tonight's Capture the Flag. Nothing to fret about, isn't? But unfortunately," His eyes glinted with mischief. "You're against my little sister Artemis' followers. Those sweethearts were nothing like those you fought in any of the two camps. They're far more skilled, far smarter, and far more deceiving. They could win this game all by themselves. I assume you already heard about their incredulous winning streak? Will not an easy win for your team tonight."
He chuckled. He looked at me. "I could see the determination in your eyes. I will not make this hard for you, Christine. You don't need to win this game. All I want to see if you can stand up against Thaila Grace, the lieutenant of my little sister. Sister of Jason . Then, I will tell you what you need to know and do." He began to fade. "Good luck, sister. I will be watching you from my throne in Olympus." He disappeared in a shower of golden light, leaving his words lingering in my mind.
Chapter 17: I Lost to A Former Tree
The sun had set a couple of hours ago. The sky transitioned into a canvas of black, blue, and purple, dotted with stars shining like lighted diamonds of different sizes. The moon loomed high above in its full silvery glory, casting a soft ethereal glow over the camp. The view could have been exhilarating if only I wasn't focused much in preparing for a bloody game. The camp was bustling with activity (which was always). Demigods went in and out of their cabins, bringing weapons and armors from the armory. Campers hustled around in full armor and different kinds of weapons on hand. The Hunters in their white shirt, silver jackets, silver camo pants, and black combats boots, swarmed the silver Artemis cabin. Silver bows and quivers of silver arrows were slung over their shoulders. Some have a pair of hunting knives on their hands, apparently showing them off to scare male campers.
I saw Clarisse approached their group and talked to a Hunter. I did a quick look at the girl. She has short, spiky, black hair and electric blue eyes. She wore a silver bracelet on her wrist and a silver circlet on her head. As soon as Clarisse left, Jason walked up to the girl and exchanged some words. Despite Jason being a boy, the girl seemed to be at ease talking to him. Could she be Thalia Grace? I remembered what Apollo said a few hours ago. 'I will not make this hard for you, Christine. You don't need to win this game. All I want to see if you can stand up against Thaila Grace, the lieutenant of my little sister. Sister of Jason . Then, I will tell you what you need to know and do.' So much for not making this hard for me. He said it as if I wasn't going to face a daughter of Zeus, the king of the gods, and the lieutenant of Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. I looked at the girl for a moment longer before joining my allies as the camp horn sounded, signaling the start of the game.
Twigs and dried leaves crunched beneath my black combat shoes. Our flag stood a good meters away behind me, concealed behind thick shrubbery and trunks of tall trees. Despite the dense plantation, I could see glimpses of Celestial Bronze and Imperial gold weapons on the hands of the flag guards. Our team agreed to have Annabeth and Reyna guard the Flag while Frank, Hazel, and Jason sneak into the enemy territory to scout for their flag. Half of the remaining team will serve as decoys while the other half will engage those who enter our territory.
After my conversation with Apollo, I met up with Annabeth (not before being blasted with a series of 'Where have you been?' and 'Are you alright? Did they caught you?' from Percy and Hazel) and requested to be placed on the decoy team. At first, she seemed reluctant to change my assigned group (which was the defending team) but after a series of persuasion, I managed to get her to place me in the decoy team. Of course, I didn't told her my real motive but I got a feeling she knew that I was keeping something. Before Jason flew to find the Flag, I asked him about her sister. This confirmed my suspicion. The girl with a silver circlet is indeed Thalia Grace. Fortunately, Jason didn't asked me why I asked him about his sister. If he did, well, my response would either be lying or avoiding it.
I glanced back and caught Annabeth's attention. I gave a quick message with my free hand, Your weapons. She nodded and signaled Reyna, who was hiding on one of the branches of a nearby tree. They hid deeper in the shadows. I made sure that they were well hidden before moving on.
I quietly crossed the creek, stepping on stones rather than splashing across the water. I walked through the enemy territory, listening to the softest sounds and looking at every sides. I made use of the darkness around me as much as possible. Once in a while, I caught a glimpse of Jason flying before disappearing into the dense trees. Sometimes, I would stumble upon a wolf, a bear, a falcon, or even a snake. I would look into its eyes and recognize Frank (not before I almost cut him into half). He would nod and run away. After that, I just trudged off, silently searching for my target. Thalia Grace.
After a half an hour of sneaking and defeating a couple of enemies, I stumbled into the other team's flag. Instead of walking toward it, I hid behind a nearby tree and peered. The red flag stood there, swaying with the breeze. I spotted no guards but I knew better. I got a strong suspicion that Thalia and Clarisse were hiding nearby, waiting to ambush whoever foolish enough to approach their flag. I decided to signal my teammates but traveling back to our territory would take long. Fortunately, I caught a glimpse of a wolf nearby. I easily recognized the wolf from my encounter with it earlier. I silently moved a bit, positioning my sword to catch some light from the moon. I slowly moved my sword toward Frank's direction, careful not to blind him. He noticed the light and looked at my direction. I lowered my sword and motioned behind me. He saw the other team's flag and nodded then, went off to tell the others.
I peered. If I'm going to fight against Thalia then, I need to have Clarisse distracted. I can't wait for the others to arrive here. I looked down and picked some stones. I threw one at my right. I peered. Nothing. I counted 20 in my head before throwing another to the opposite direction. Nothing. This time, I picked up a dried twig. I readied myself to run as quietly as possible. After 15 seconds, I snapped the twig into half, making a loud crunching sound then, run sneakily behind a tree and few feet away. I waited. Nothing. I waited again. A careful thud. Someone must have jumped down from a tree. Then, soft footsteps.I lowered myself, hiding behind bushes and peered. A dark figure was looking around carefully. In the light of an electrical spear, I saw a pair of intimidating brown eyes. BINGO! It's Clarisse! I smirked triumphantly. Finally made one of you come out. I reached into a satchel roped around my waist and pulled out a small bronze sphere (a whole lot smaller than the Archimedes sphere Leo usually trinket with). It was given to me by Leo when we gathered around the woods before the start of the game. He told me that the sphere will turn into a huge net when the button on one side was pushed. If it weren't for Apollo's visit, I wouldn't find a good reason to use it. I peered at Clarisse again, making sure she's within earshot then stepped on another dried twig. The crunching sound caught Clarisse's attention. I waited for her to be near enough before pressing on the button and counting 5 in my head. I threw the sphere at her. There was a series of clicks before I heard a heavy thud and a full blast of choice words. I stepped out of my hiding place and approached Clarisse, who was struggling inside the Celestial Bronze net.
I smiled mischievously."Hello sweetheart. How's the net?"
She stared at me, completely shocked. "C-Christine?!"
"The one and only." I grinned.
She growled."Get me out of here or else-"
"Sorry honey. I can't. Not until we won." I gave a smirk and walked past her.
"CHRISTINE! GET BACK HERE OR ELSE YOU'RE DEAD! HEY! LET ME GO NOW! CHRISTI-"
"Told you I'll let you out after we won." I called back then to myself, I whispered. "And after I defeated Thalia."
I walked toward the flag, alert of even the smallest of movement and softest of noise. Before I could get nearer, a silver arrow whizzed toward me. I barely have time to avoid it. Up. I looked up and caught a glint of silver. A figure jumped down in front of me and met my eyes. Electric blue against electric blue. Thalia stood before me, the nocked silver arrow pointing to my heart. I adjusted my sword in my hand. I gave a polite smile and received the same. Strange, she could have been my sister with those same electric blue eyes and black hair (of course, not in the length. Mine's longer).
"You're Thalia Grace, am I right? Glad to meet you." I said.
"You must be Christine. I've been hearing a lot about you since we arrived this afternoon." She replied. Her eyes boring through me like she was trying to read what I will do next.
I gave a small shrug. "Apparently, I'm no big deal. And besides, that was a couple of weeks ago."
"Really?" She sneered. "A girl who had slain three drakons the moment she arrived at camp and captured a flag guard all by herself, a no big deal?" She chuckled. "Afraid you're bluffing."
I smiled with no humor. "Maybe. Who knows? But one thing is for sure, we'll have that flag behind you." With that, I swiftly slashed with my sword. She avoided it but lose hold of her silver bow. She managed to summon a hunting knife to block my sword. We parried, sword against knife. I sliced forward as she barely backed off, cutting a thin line on her cheek. Trickles of blood flowed out. She wiped it off and narrowed her eyes. "You're pretty good."
I gave a complementing smile. "You too."
We surged forward. Bronze weapons clashing, glinting in moonlight. Until now did I realized that I was subconsciously analyzing her every movement as I fight. The shift of her eyes. Her breathing. Her footsteps. The tension on every muscle. Every information from the smallest to biggest poured into my mind. She's looking at the right. A feint. Her arm is going to move to the left. Her right leg. She's going to kick with it. She's going for my... The rush of information surprised me. Thalia took advantage of my moment of hesitation and sliced at my arm. Pain flared up my sword arm. Thalia surged forward and I barely blocked her knife. Anger and frustration began building up inside me, unabling me to think clearly. Before I could realize it, she had summoned another hunting knife and stabbed at my side. Faint electricity ran through my body. I backed away but before I could blink, Thalia surged forward. Sparks flew off her and the force of her attack knocked me off my feet. She pinned me down with her boot and placed her knife below my chin. The cold blade sent a shiver down my spine. She tightly seized my sword hand with her hand, forcing me to drop my sword. If it weren't for her silvery aura and silver clothes, she could have been a dark figure under the moon. Her electric blue eyes bore down on me, amazed and bewildered at the same time. A small amused smile drew from her lips.
"Checkmate." The word bore me down heavily. I lost. I can't believe it. I can't accept it. I was defeated. The consequences were already laid out. I gritted my teeth. I silently cursed myself. I lost. I lost. I lost. I lost. The words played in my mind again and again. Played as the sound of a horn sounded nearby. Played as Thalia let go off me and helped me on my feet. Played as I ran with the others back to the camp. Played as our team was announced as the winner. Played as my team members celebrated and the opposing team glared at us. Played throughout the camp sing along. Played nonstop in my sleep and my dreams.
The consequences were already laid out.
And I will suffer through all these consequences.
Chapter 18: I'm Starting to Hate the Hunters of Artemis
I ate little during breakfast the next day, completely anxious to leave and be alone. I left my camp activities as fast as I arrived, avoiding all possible encounters with my friends. I intended to stroll in the woods during my free times and vent up my frustration on killing monsters. I'm not the kind who always let others know my ups and downs. Sometimes, confessing it makes it only worse, that's why I just choose to be alone and release my frustrations with the ease that no one is worrying about me. Just like what I'm doing now.
A shower of monster dust bursted around me as I sliced a giant scorpion's tail off its body and jumped on its back and stabbed it. I hunched on my knees in the effort to steady my breathing and calm my 'ADHD' nerves. My wounded side flared in pain. I waited a bit for the pain to lessen. That's the 7th. I straightened and stretched a bit. I was about to find another monster to vent up another wave of frustration when I heard a faint whistle.
I instantly recognized the sound from last night and went off to find the source. I stopped a few meters away from a clearing and hid behind a tree. I peered. The Hunters of Artemis were gathered around the clearing, their silver outfits a bit too shiny under the sunlight. They seemed to be taking a rest from hunting here in the woods. Most of them were sitting on the grass, chatting and occasionally, polishing their knives, bows and arrows. Some were practicing with their bows, using the nearby trees as targets. Others, with their hunting knives. I looked at their group. Their lieutenant's not there. I rubbed the small scar on my arm which had healed last night (thank you ambrosia). At that instant, I remembered why I'm here in the first place and was about to turn around and walk off when the hairs on my neck rose up. I instantly knew it before a cold metal pressed against my skin and a voice, both commanding and amused, spoke up.
"Keep your sword if you don't want a knife stuck deep on the back of your neck."
I exhaled. I instantly recognized the voice. "Thalia Grace." I said without turning nor lowering my sword. I hid the annoyance in my voice. "Nice of you to greet others with a knife on the back of their neck."
The cold metal left my skin. I sheathed my sword and turned with my hands raised in a surrendering gestures. Our eyes met. Then, I looked at the knife on her hand. "I would appreciate it if you would keep that knife of yours." I said casually.
Thalia chuckled. "You know what. I like you. Straightforward and honest." She sheathed the knife back to her belt.
"Straightforward, yes. Honest, I'm not so sure." I said.
She grinned. "You're really are honest." Then, looked at her fellow Hunters. "What are you doing here? Spying for the next Capture the Flag?"
I shook my head. "Not really. I'm just training a bit (while venting up my frustration of losing to you through killing monsters, of course I didn't told her that.) when I heard some noise and found your friends there." I gestured to her fellow Hunters, then jokingly added. "I went here to get stronger so that the next time we cross paths in another game, I would definitely kick your butt."
She smiled. "Well, let's hope we do run into each other in another game. But I'm already telling you, you won't win against me."
"I wouldn't be so sure if I were you." I said.
She shrugged."Are you going back now to the camp?"
"Nope. Honestly, I'm thinking of staying here for another hour or so."
"Nice." She smiled then, glanced over her fellow Hunters. "While you're here, come with me and I'll introduce you to my friends." Before I could respond, she took my arm and pulled me to the clearing. As soon as the Hunters noticed us, Thalia greeted them and introduced me. We exchanged greetings and I was bombarded with a series of sarcastic threats and praises about last night. I both snapped threats and thanks back to them. We talked for a bit before one of them challenged me to a little fight, which I immediately accepted and won. Three more asked which I also won. I sat down on a fallen trunk and one of them gave me a loaf of bread and a glass of nectar. I eased myself as the nectar slowly healed the small wounds I got earlier and lessened the pain from my wounded side. As I rested, Thalia walked to where I'm sitting and sat down beside me.
"You know what? You're really good. No camper can easily handle a Hunter in an one-on-one fight. Well...other than some demigods I know." Thalia said.
I shrugged. "Maybe I was just lucky." I teased.
Thalia made a face. "You call that lucky? You can't fool me. Luck is different from talent. You got talent."
"All demigods had talent in battling." I teased. "After all, all of the gods were sort of war freaks."
Thalia chuckled. "No disagreement here. But you've got a point. I guessed what makes you different from others was your experiences in battling."
"Maybe you're right." I moved the glass in small circles, watching the liquid swirl and slosh inside. "But it had been just two and half weeks since I arrived here."
"YOU JUST CAME HERE?!" Thalia asked, completely surprised of what she heard. I was a bit taken aback about her unexpected surprise. To be honest, I had expected she already knew about that. But boy was I wrong.
"You...you didn't know?"
"WE DIDN'T KNOW!" She gestured around. "No one told us. Not even Jason, Annabeth, Percy or that female Roman praetor."
"Well...that's quite of a surprise." I looked down. Apparently, the other Hunters had heard us and were staring at me. My face might looked pretty flushed right now. "I thought you would know."
"Who's your godly parent?" Thalia asked, suddenly.
"H-Huh? My godly parent?"
"Yeah. By the looks of it, you might be a daughter of Ares. You're pretty skilled at battling. Or maybe, an Athena kid. Though you don't show it, your eyes show the same serious and analyzing look just like the other Athena kids."
I had the urge to roll my eyes at that but then, I remembered what happened last night. The rush of information in my mind. I inwardly shook my head. As far I'm concerned, the children of Athena don't have the ability to understand dragons nor pegasi. Me being a Poseidon kid is out of the question, being unable to control water just like Percy and my mom being the godly one. Another was being a legacy and also a daughter of a goddess at the same time. Though I highly doubt that. I fingered at my golden charm bracelet, briefly looking at the dangling golden peacock and eagle and remembering Aunt Beryl. I wonder what she's doing today. Did she already know that the three grandmas had sent me to a camp? Despite the thoughts passing through my mind, I listened to Thalia.
"Or you might be my half-sibling. A daughter of Zeus. If we based on your appearance."
My fingers stopped. My eyes transfixed on the golden eagle. A daughter of Zeus. The idea sounded ridiculous but something nagged at me at the back of my mind. The same electric blue eyes as Jason's and Thalia's. The love for flying. I shook my head at the idea.
"That's impossible." I said. My voice sounded foreign. I smiled, masking the surprise and hesitation in my voice. "Apparently, I can't fly nor summon lightning. Plus, appearance can't accurately point one to his/her origin."
Thalia thought for a moment. "Well...you've got a point. But I guess there's no problem with that. After all, you're already claimed."
I looked at the empty glass. "No...My godly parent hasn't claimed me yet."
"That's ridiculous! A newcomer must be claimed within no more than a day since they arrived at camp. The gods promised to the River Styx."
"But sadly, my godly parent did not." I smiled bitterly and looked away. I watched in silence as the Hunters packed their things and prepared for another hunt. I stood up and spoke without looking at Thalia. "I guess I should get going now. You're friends seemed to be eager to go hunting again. Thanks for everything." Before I could take a step, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked behind me.
"I will help you. After staying here in Camp Half-Blood, I will have a word with Lady Artemis. I'm sure she won't mind helping you."
"Thank you." I smiled.
Thalia nodded then, a mischievous smile drew from her lips. "But in return, you'll join us in hunting this afternoon." I followed her eyes to her fellow Hunters. They waved, grinning. Uh oh.
Chapter 19: I Almost Got Killed Twice by Two Amazon Goddesses
I looked down to the woods of Camp Half-Blood as I drive in the sky with my awesome red Maserati car (a.k.a The Sun Chariot). I watched as Christine finished off the giant snake sporting some silver arrows on its body. Man, my sister's one great beautiful warrior (just like me, but of course, I'm better). But it was quite disappointing that she lose to that acrophobic Grace girl. Not that I expected her to win, being turned into a demigod and all. I can only think that it was pretty hard for her to be gutted out of her real identity and not being claimed by her godly parent as a demigod. Speaking of her godly parent, I remembered my encounter with Her Majesty just after my conversation with Christine yesterday.
I was walking through the majestic hallways of Olympus when I crossed paths with Her Majesty.
I stopped walking and gave a bow."Yes, my Queen?" I already knew what she was going to say even before she say it. After all, she have been watching over her daughter ever since the day they were separated.
"What are you plotting?" She asked, her voice hard and laced with cold. "You cannot lie to me, Apollo. Tell me what you want from my daughter."
"I don't need anything from Ariacalyssa." I said. I met her glaring brown eyes. "What I need is a starting step to secure the better fate of the world."
Hera summoned her staff and pointed it to me. "You know very well how dangerous the situation she's in. You can't just waltzed in and destroy what protection I had for her. Unless you want to get punished once again." She withdrew her staff and glared at me. "Stay away from my daughter, Apollo. Because if you don't, I wouldn't think twice of throwing you to Chaos." She held her gaze for a moment before walking off.
"No protection can protect her from what was bound to happen, Your Majesty. The paths where her destiny will branch out have already been laid out. For now, there are only two paths, which will be decided by you: Claim your daughter or let her be what she's now. Your decision will not just affect your daughter but also the world. You know which one is the right thing to do. But if you insist on this, then, I will not stop until you choose what is right. Even if the consequence was being thrown to Chaos." I disappeared in a flash of light before a beam of light from Hera's staff reaches me.
I looked at my sister who was watching Christine ran with her Hunters. After the meeting earlier, Artemis dragged me out of the throne room and forced me to tell her what I was up to, after she noticed me missing yesterday afternoon and caught a glimpse of my argument with Hera. I have no choice but to confess (Artemis is scary when angry) and now here she was, sitting shotgun in my car.
"Is it really alright to let her be open like this ? She could be in more danger than she would be in Olympus."
"Come on now, lil' sis. She's not that weak. Look at her, she could totally fend off for herself."
" Again, Apollo, we're twins. Stop calling me little sister. And to be honest, appearing to her as a god seemed to convey a message that says, 'I am Apollo. Be honored that a god as awesome as I am appeared before you. Now let's talk about your destiny, lowly mortal'. I mean, how self-centered you can be, brother? "
"But it's true!" I protested. "Being me awesome and all, of course."
Artemis rolled her eyes and ran a finger on the length of her silver bow. "That's what always put you into trouble. You're easily flattered. You think shallowly about your actions."
"If that's the case, then, helping me means that you also think shallowly of your actions?" I asked, grinning.
Artemis shook her head. "Absolutely not." She looked at me, her silver eyes flashed with irritation. "I can't understand how you could fool around in a situation like this."
I stared down on the steering wheel. "Of course, you won't." I said bitterly. "After all, you weren't the one who could see all these terrible prophecies way ahead before the others would know." Plus, you're not the one whom Father think of a trouble child. I wanted to say that but I just kept my mouth shut. But it seems Artemis knew what I was thinking. She squeezed my hand gently.
"You're wrong. Among all Father's children, you are the most powerful. Father entrusted you with more powers than we have. He trusted you just like how he trusts you now ."
Before she could say more, I spoke up without looking at her. I need to change the topic. We have enough arguments for more than a millennium.
"The tremors...can you still feel them?"
Artemis let go off my hand and fumbled with her bow. Her fingers trembled a bit as it pluck the string."Yes, I can still feel them." Her voice barely a whisper. "And it's getting worse. Everyone's getting uneasy especially that they can't trace back where it came from."
"But we do. The gods do." I said.
"Barely." Artemis said. "It's not Gaea, that we are sure. If it's HIM...Father called up for Uncle Hades but he hasn't got anything from him. He didn't even appeared in the meeting earlier. So...all we got was a blind suspicion." Artemis looked at my eyes. "But you...you know what or who is it, right? Your anxiousness during the meeting...we are right, aren't we? It's him, isn't?"
I stared ahead but my hands trembled on the steering wheel. "Yes, it's him."
Artemis looked back at the window. "Then, if that's the case, we must make our move as soon as possible. We couldn't afford to commit the same mistake we did months ago."
I sweep my hand over the Iris message."THAT CURSED APOLLO! He is really trying my patience! I will make sure he will suffer a hundred times worse than the prisoners in Tartarus! I gripped the staff tightly, my knuckles turning white.
"There were already too many gods who knew my secret. The Fates. Hermes. Iris. Apollo. And now, Artemis. She wouldn't have been a problem if she weren't joining his brother's foolishness!" I paced back and forth. "I must stop them immediately before it's too late."
I raised my staff, ready to summon a monster when a voice interrupted.
"I'm afraid that won't work, my Queen."
I lowered my staff and saw Hermes standing by the doorway. He coughed a bit and bowed. I glared at him, prompting him to explain. "What do you mean, god of thieves?" I sneered.
He shifted a bit. "Apollo and Artemis. They may be different on most things despite being twins, but when they made up their minds on the same thing, they won't stop until they get it. Even if you stop them now, they will find a way one way or another. You can't hold them off for a long time. And besides..." He glanced at my staff. "I think Apollo is right. You should claim Aria-I mean, Christine as soon as possible."
I angrily slammed my staff on the floor. Hermes flinched as my aura darkened. "YOU AGREE WITH THAT FOOLISH APOLLO?! Don't you know what is the price for claiming my daughter?! If every being knew about my daughter, it will throw us into chaos! If Zeus finds out, he will-"
"He will hunt down your daughter." Hermes said, nodding in understanding. "Unless he learned that Christine is Ariacalyssa, the long-lost Olympian. But you can't tell him. You swore to the River Styx."
"Yes..." I said as I stood stiffly. "I can't. The Fates told me so. It will be dangerous for her if her father will know. But what else could I do? I've done everything I could and now, those wretched twins are going to destroy everything."
Hermes stood forward. The two snakes on his caduceus flicked their tongues to their master. "Because they're right. They know what they're doing is right. And you know it, yet you don't want to acknowledge it. You know very well the consequences on both sides. But...would you stick on the safer side that will soon reach a dead end? Or would you rather choose a risky one that may end for a better future?"He held my gaze and turned toward the door. "The choice is yours, Your Majesty. Whatever will it be, may you remember that it is of your own choosing when it finally reaches its conclusion." He walked out, leaving me staring at the scenery outside the open balcony.
Chapter 20: Who Let The Hellhounds Out?
~Christine Galliardo's POV ~
A silver arrow whizzed over my head and embedded itself on the head of a giant snake posed for an attack. The snake disintegrated into a pile of golden dust before the wind blew it away. I sighed. How long am I staying with them? I glanced at Thalia who gave me a teasing smile. Until dusk, she seemed to say. I clenched my teeth. Clarisse would kill me if I don't attend sword training this afternoon. Especially after I trapped her last night in a Celestial Bronze net. I turned my head as another arrow whizzed past my head and embedded itself on the body of another snake. I swiftly moved forward and gave a last blow using my sword. The snake exploded into a shower of monster dust. I brushed off the dust on my clothes and followed the Hunters close behind.
The forest was peaceful except for some occasional roars from monsters. Dried leaves and twigs crunched beneath heavy combat boots. I looked up and blinked. Is the sun getting bigger? As I ponder on that thought, I caught a sudden movement among the Hunters. Thalia was no longer in front of me but instead at the front of the Hunters. A screeching cry erupted from the front. I covered my ears. I caught a glimpse of a black stinger above. A giant scorpion. When the cry ceased, I ran past some disoriented Hunters and leaped up, slicing the stinger. Another painful cry. Two Celestial Bronze knives flashed against the sunlight before embedding itself on the head of the scorpion. I ran back to the group as a rain of silver arrows pinned down the scorpion on the ground. I looked away from the gooey mess as the scorpion turned to golden ashes. We walked off like nothing happened.
"Such impressive reflexes you got there, Christine." Thalia said as she hit me on the back. "Not to mention your agility and speed. Did you undergo training before coming to camp?"
"No, I didn't. I started training when I arrived to camp. Why do you ask?" I asked. "And is it necessary to hit me on the back?"
Thalia gave a small smile. "I just noticed that the way you battle was like of a higly-skilled and experienced fighter like Percy and Jason. Though all demigods were born with innate battle abilities, it will still take time to hone it. But you," She inclined her head to me. "You fight like you've been fighting ever since you were born." She shrugged as if saying, Do you get what I'm saying? "And I guess hitting someone on the back is not that necessary at all. I just kind of do it."
I laughed at that. A few Hunters who overhead our conversation snickered. Thalia rolled her eyes and went to the front to avoid more teasing attention from the back. We stopped laughing and continued looking for monsters. I looked up at the sky to distract me a bit. The sun still bigger than it was before.
Involuntarily, I fingered the hanging peacock and eagle on my charm bracelet. A habit I began developing ever since I arrived at camp. Wonder if mom's watching me from somewhere? I looked in front of me. The Hunters...Some of them were demigods. I could only hint that they were claimed by their godly parents before they pledged loyalty to Artemis. That very moment, I realized that I was harboring bitterness to my mother. She didn't claimed me. Perhaps, because I was not enough for her or because...She didn't want me as her daughter. I stopped abruptly, my knuckles white as I gripped my sword tightly. I steadied my breathing. I blinked to prevent the tears from coming. Not here. Not in front of them. I forced myself to focus on walking but the thoughts lingered strongly, pulling me into a void of negativity.
A cry of pain snapped me out of my thoughts, pulling me up back to the real world. The Hunters had scattered, thrown into chaos by sudden panic. An inhuman growl made my hairs rose up on my neck. A terrible stench of rotting flesh and fear spread in the air. The stench of death. My heart beat tripled and my senses fired up. Shouts and whistling of arrows filled my ears. A black figure moved swiftly at front. I ran up quickly as possible as the other Hunters followed closed behind me. The stench grew stronger and I stopped abruptly. My skin crawled at the sight of the monster. A black mastiff the size of a rhino with red glowing eyes. A hellhound. It pounced, nearly shredding a Hunter into pieces. A flash of silver from the right as Thalia leaped and struck her spear on the hellhound's back. Electricity arced around Thalia toward the spear. The hellhound convulsed wildly and fell. We gathered around as the hellhound turned into dust.
"What...what the hell was that? What in Hades a hellhound doing here in Camp Half-Blood?" A Hunter asked.
We all looked down on what the hellhound used to be.
"We must go back to the camp immediately and report this to Chiron. The woods maybe swarming with monsters but a hellhound is not a usual sight in this area. Let's-" A growl stopped Thalia.
We compressed into a tight circle, on guard on any sides. The Hunters inside the circle nocked arrows and those outside summoned their hunting knives. Thalia brandished her spear and her silver bracelet turned into a shield, an exact copy of the Aegis. Another growl coming from the right and another from the left. I tightened my grip on my sword. Loud crunches of snapping twigs and leaves mixed with a series of growls and a strong stench of death. Hellhounds. They're everywhere. Soon, the monsters appeared between the trees. All the size of a rhino and color of black. There are about nine of them, all coming from different directions. Why this many? Thalia brandished her shield and a few scampered out of the shield's direction but didn't leave. The hellhounds circled us, showing their huge sharp canine fangs.
"Don't scatter! If you do, it will be easier for them to shred us to pieces!" Thalia commanded.
My skin crawled. I looked and saw a hellhound looking at me. Its red glowing eyes boring on me. It pounced to my direction. I ducked, avoiding its huge sharp paws. The group scattered in surprise. The other hellhounds began attacking. Thalia shouted an order as she struck down a hellhound. We tried to drive off the other hellhounds as we slowly gathered. A silver arrow flew over my head and killed another hellhound. The same hellhound who charged at me before ran toward me. I went out of its way and sliced my sword to its side. A guttural cry escaped its throat and leaped to me with angry eyes. I lowered myself and pierced my sword on its belly. It dissolved above me in a shower of gold. A scream sent shivers down my spine. I looked around and saw a Hunter lying on the ground, her side bleeding. A hellhound approached her, posed for a kill. The sky darkened and a lightning bolt struck the hellhound. I ran up to the wounded Hunter and carefully hauled her up to her feet. A few Hunters covered us as we retreated to the circle. I laid her down as a girl ran up to us and tended her.
"Keep your ground!" Thalia shouted.
I stiffened as I noticed something unusual. The inner Hunters had their arrows nocked but no one is firing. I stood up and peered between the heads. The hellhounds weren't attacking but just circling around our group...as if finding something or someone. A hellhound looked at me. Its eyes glowing with hunger for blood. It pounced at my direction but met the sharp point of a silver arrow. The remaining hellhounds began gathering to where the slain hellhound was. The group followed the hellhounds with their weapons. My body tensed and I quickly lowered myself as another hellhound looked at me. Those monsters...they're looking for someone...for me. A sudden movement at my direction as the Hunters fend off another hellhound. I glanced at the wounded girl beside me. They aren't interested of the Hunters. I moved through the group and emerged behind Thalia. I gripped her arm.
"Thalia." I whispered, loud enough for her to hear.
She glanced at me, letting her know she hears me.
"These hellhounds...they're not here to kill anybody on sight. They're here to kill a specific person." I said.
Thalia looked at me with confusion. "What do you mean?"
"It's hard to explain but I'm sure they're not here to kill the Hunters nor anybody currently in camp."
Thalia met my gaze."Then, who?" Her eyes widened in realization. "Wait, are you-"
I held her gaze."Neither a Hunter nor someone in camp." I nodded. "Yes, they're here for me."
Chapter 21: Please Don't Tell Me She's My Mother
~Thalia Grace's POV~
"Bring the others back to the camp. I will lead the hellhounds away from you." Christine said.
I grabbed her arm."Are you crazy?! Those hellhounds would kill you! How can you be sure they're after you?"
"I just do." She replied. "And yes, maybe I'm crazy."
Before I could say more, she broke out of the circle and called out to the Underworld beasts. The hellhounds turned to her and she took off, the monsters right behind her. I cursed under my breath. What in Olympus is she thinking?! I called up the attention of the others.
"Go back to camp immediately. Report to Chiron and send help. I will go after Christine."
The Hunters nodded in understanding and ran off the opposite direction. My spear collapsed on my hand and my Aegis turned back into a bracelet. I picked up my bow and nocked three arrows. I ran off in pursuit.
Christine and the remaining hellhounds were out of sight but with the help of my tracking senses and the noises far ahead of me, I was able to trace them. There were four hellhounds left out of nine (or ten, if the first one was included) but one demigod alone wouldn't survive fighting them. The monsters born from the earth or the sky were nothing compared to the monsters originating from the Underworld. They're more vicious and cunning. Their thirst for blood is greater. They would pursue their target to the ends of earth. The hellhounds are the predators. Christine is their prey. They wouldn't stop until blood flows to the ground and life is gone from her eyes. A loud bark echoed. I ran faster toward the direction of the sound. I stopped at a glade. I managed to catch up with them. Christine was surrounded with the hellhounds. Her arm was bleeding but her stance was without pain nor exhaustion. A pile of monster dust lay a few feet away. She must have killed one of them. A hellhound pounced and I fired my arrows, throwing the hellhound beneath a tree. Christine looked at me.
"Hey! You're still alive! I thought I would find you already in bloody pieces." I said.
Christine grinned at me. "Apparently, not. Guess I'm too tough for these guys, eh."
"Don't be too confident, darling. Those dogs aren't little cute puppies."
"Right. But if I were you, I will focus on staying alive than insulting other people."
A hellhound approached me, growling. It barked and leaped toward me. No time to nock an arrow. I dropped my bow and pulled my knives out from my belt. I leaped backwards a few feet away from the landing point of the hellhound. It charged toward me and I slashed, creating a deep gash on the face of the monster. It snarled, visibly angry and leaped again toward me, its claws on sight. I slide out of its way toward the direction it came from. Before it could turn to me, I ran up and jumped on its back. It thrashed around, trying to throw me off. I grabbed on its skin to keep my balance and with one hand, I struck a knife on the back of its neck. A terrible cry of pain escaped its throat. It collapsed before disintegrating. I stood up and watched Christine killed another hellhound. I grinned. This girl's good. I walked toward her and hit her at the back.
"Nice kill, Christine!"
"Again?" Christine groaned, rubbing her back. "Can't you praise someone without hitting him or her on the back?"
I chuckled. "Just making sure you're not a ghost. You might got killed when I wasn't looking."
She rolled her eyes and sheathed her sword. "It's a miracle, alright, but one of them got my arm." She winced as I touched her arm gently to inspect it.
"Let's go back to camp and have Chiron fix that. Hellhounds got no poison but they sure can inflict fatal wounds. You might die because of blood loss."
"Gee, that's comforting." She said, sarcasm lacing her voice.
"Just saying the truth." I said. I took out a cloth and tied it securely around her wound. "That would at least lessen the bleeding until we get back to camp."
"Thanks." She said.
I inclined my head in acknowledgement. I sheathed my knives and retrieved my bow. I offered my arm to support her. "Let's go back now. The others-"
Before I could finish my sentence, Christine grabbed the bow from my hand and an arrow from my quiver and fired it behind me. I felt a heavy thud and looked behind me. The last hellhound! Oh so stupid! There were four of them chasing Christine! How could I forget?! The hellhound stood up, despite the fact of an arrow sticking from its neck. This one was bigger than the others. Its red glowing eyes fixed behind me. Christine. I remembered what Christine said earlier. Why do they want to kill Christine?
Before I could take my knives from my belt, the monster ran toward us and pounced. I flung forward as a force pushed me from behind. I blinked, my arms suddenly aching from the sudden fall. I looked and saw Christine fighting. I tried to stand up but it seemed my arms failed to support my body. I watched as Christine leaped away but was caught at the side with one of the monster's claws. She rolled to the ground, red fluid wetting the side of her camp shirt. The hellhound slowly approached her, eyes ready for the kill. I called her name but helpless to do anything. Christine tried to move but her body remained pinned on the ground. She looked up weakly and met the monster's eyes. It snarled, showing its sharp teeth. I shouted to her to stand up to no avail. Christine looked at the hellhound's eyes, seemingly in a trance. I tried to stand up, finally being able to move. Before I could even close a few feet, the hellhound pounced toward Christine.
A sudden blur of movement from the sky. Colors of brown, black and beige shot from the sky and surrounded the hellhound. Screeching cries and howls filled my ears as feathers danced in the air. I blinked. Hawks had flew down and starting attacking the hellhound. Their sharp talons slicing on the skin of the hellhound. The hellhound howled, thrashing to get rid off the hawks. I looked at Christine and my eyes widened in shock. She was already standing, one hand pressing on her wounded side, the other holding my bow. Her expression was of exhaustion and pain. But what surprised me wasn't the way she looked, but what was sitting on her shoulder.
A ghostly figure of a peacock sat on her shoulder, its magnificent colors shimmering and dancing with the light. Christine's usual electric blue eyes, now danced with other colors like a kaleidoscope. The shimmering peacock looked at my direction, as if regarding me, before flying away and disappearing in the light. Christine looked at my direction (her eyes no longer a hypnotic kaleidoscope) and shouted, snapping me out of my surprise. I pulled out my knives and threw it to the hellhound. It went past the hawks and embedded itself on the hellhound's head. The hawks flew away as the hellhound fell and diminished into golden dust.
I tried to catch my breath, calming myself from the sudden adrenaline. I didn't put my knives back immediately on my belt. I had enough carelessness for one day. I turned and looked at Christine. Her back was arced down, one hand on her side and the other holding on her thigh to support her. My bow on the ground beside her feet. She met my eyes, probably confused on my expression.
"You..." My voice hoarse. "You're a daughter of Hera."
Chapter 22: The Power of Donuts
~Christine Galliardo's POV~
I groaned in pain as I shifted on my temporary bunk bed in my new cabin. The wounds from the hellhound attack four days ago were still hurting but the bleeding had lessened. I blinked as I waited for my eyes to adjust to the dim light of the cabin. I sat up and studied my surroundings, still not used to my new cabin. To be honest, it really looked like more of a temple than a cabin. It's way too formal and elegant than the other cabins. But what do you expect? After all, it's a cabin made to honor the queen of the gods, my mother, Queen Hera. I stood up and walked in front of my mother's statue. The fire in the fire pit shrank, adjusting for me not to feel hot. I stared at her statue, asking the same questions in my mind ever since I was claimed, Why claim me just now? Why me? Why you? Why in all of the goddesses, you? My mother? I shook my head, feeling stupid looking at a statue while asking questions in my mind. I fixed my bed and prepared myself for the day.
As soon as I opened the door, I saw Argus standing by one of the cabin's marble column. The hundred-blue eyed blond surfer-like guy has been waiting outside for me every morning ever since the news about me, being a daughter of Hera, spread all over camp. I tried to tell him to stop, partly because it would affect his job as the camp security and partly, because I'm not used having someone following me around like a loyal pet. But whenever I told him to stop, he would just incline his head and stared at me. I guess that's his way of telling me, he won't. I closed the door behind me and greeted him. He gave a small bow which made my cheeks hot. I turned around and walked briskly, not wanting Argus to see my expression.
As always, the camp was a flurry of activities, especially now that the Romans will return to Camp Jupiter tomorrow. To be honest, I was glad that the camp was busy, simply because no one would pay too much unwanted attention to me. I walked through the crowd, Argus close behind. I ducked as an arrow sailed overhead as the Apollo kids compete in archery with some Hunters. I quickly moved aside as Mrs. O'Leary came barreling through the crowd with Riptide in her mouth. Percy was running after her, calling out to return his sword. Screams and cussings erupted from the crowd. Some almost got hauled with the sudden racket. I chuckled as I watched the idiotic master and his sword-wielding pet ran toward the fields. So cute! Though Percy looked stupid getting his sword stolen by his own dog. I turned and continued walking as the campers returned to what they were doing before.
I went to the pavilion to grab a quick bite before proceeding to the beach. The sun was high but the wind was cool. I sat under the shade of a nearby tree as Argus settled down on the grass not far away. Though I felt uneasy having someone following me around, I was quite amazed on Argus' loyalty to my mother even to the point of appointing himself to be my bodyguard (though I didn't ask for one in the first place). Though I don't want to admit it, I really need some company especially now that the other campers seemed to avoid me ever since the news spread. I can't blame Thalia for telling Chiron what happened. She must have been in shock as I am back then. I laid my back on the tree trunk and closed my eyes, remembering what happened four days ago.
I remembered lying on the ground and meeting the monster's eyes. I heard Thalia shouting but her voice seemed far away. An unrecognizable background noise. The world began to spin, colors melting into each other until there's only white. A white of nothingness. A voice, warm as the fire in the fireplace during winter and sweet as honey, spoke up. A familiar voice.
"My dearest Christine. Finally, the time has come. I am your mother, Queen Hera of Olympus. Though you may not see me, my voice shall be your guide. You're my daughter. You're powerful. Command the creatures of the earth, the sky, and the sea and they shall respond to you with all obedience. Use your power to succeed, to protect yourself and others. We may not see each other for the next days to come but be at peace that I'm at your side. I'll continue watching over you as I hold on the future I chose for my family, for you."
Colors swirled back into place. My ears rang, my head in a complete daze. I reached out through the forest and to its depths. I reached out to sky and to the hawks flying in air, sharing my will. They responded to me in clarity, "We shall answer to you, Milady." A cloud of black, brown, and beige felt down from the sky and surrounded the hellhound. Thalia watched as the hellhound thrashed around, trying to escape the sharp talons of the hawks. I stood up and looked over to Thalia, who was now looking at me, pale-faced. I shouted at her to kill the hellhound and Thalia snapped back to reality. She threw her knives, killing the last hellhound. I doubled over, dropping her bow. I grasped my side, pain and exhaustion finally settling in. I looked at Thalia whose expression was of disbelief and shock. The words escaped her lips before we noticed that help had arrived.
"You're..." Her voice was hoarse. "You're a daughter of Hera."
Gasps and murmurs erupted behind Thalia. She turned around and saw Chiron, some campers including my friends, and a few Hunters, standing, looking at us with faces of shock. Chiron met my eyes. I looked away. We returned to camp immediately and Chiron told the Apollo kids to tend the wounded Hunters. He steered us both toward the Big House to tend our wounds himself and tell him what happened earlier.
I opened my eyes and drew a sharp breath. Four days. Four days since I was claimed. Three weeks since my life made a turning point. Too much had happened within those three weeks and I got a hunch, there will be more. I sheathed my sword and ran a finger on its newly polished blade. A rush of wind blew behind me as wings flapped. A voice spoke up.
Are you planning to get yourself injured again? Because if you do, I would gladly help.
I looked around and smiled at the presence of the black pegasus. Blackjack walked toward me and I placed a hand on his head.
"Good morning, Blackjack. Haven't seen you for four days. How are you doing?"
Blackjack neighed. How am I doing?! Shouldn't I be the one asking that?! I heard the news! You're getting suicidal, Christine! How many wounds have you got since coming here in camp?
I shrugged. "Honestly, I don't know. Why would anyone count how many wounds they get in their entire life?"
Blackjack stomped his hoof. That's the point! If you get another wound, I'm pretty sure you're up in committing suicide. But if you like, I could drown you right now on the sea. That would be faster that way.
"That would be good." I said, staring at the sea. "Especially with things happening right now."
Blackjack sat down beside me, his eyes showing sympathy. I heard from Boss that you're a daughter of the queen of the gods. Quite shocking, that is. Especially that, that jealous goddess never had children with mortals.
I ran a hand through his mane. "Yeah. So troublesome."
Well, Boss and some of his friends especially his blonde girlfriend had never been in good terms with your mother. Supposedly, she sort of organize everything during the last Great Prophecy. Not that she wants to have war, you know.
I nodded but the gears on my mind started turning wildly. The last Great Prophecy. I heard it from one of the Hermes kids. It was also called the Prophecy of Seven. The Seven.Percy. Annabeth. Piper. Jason. Leo. Hazel. And Frank. I remembered what Grandma Lin said. Seek the Seven. They will help you. I wonder how could they help me at all, especially that most my problems don't concern them. They even don't know Trisha.
I sighed. "The others...they're so lucky, aren't they?" I said. "They're not children of gods and goddesses that never had mortal children for more than a millennium."
Blackjack shifted. I closed my eyes. I'm telling Blackjack about my problems way too much, which I shouldn't be doing.
I opened my eyes and tried to sound cheerful."Hey Blackjack. You like donuts, don't you? Want me to buy you some?"
Blackjack stood up in excitement. No kidding? Buy me! Please! I want donuts! DONUTS! I want a dozen! No! I want two dozens! No! No! Make it three dozens!
I laughed and stood up, patting his head. "I will buy you three dozens if you will keep it down, alright?"
Blackjack stopped neighing and galloping around. I looked behind me. Good. Seems the sleeping potion that one of the Hecate kids gave me a while back worked. It's good that it just needed to be inhaled, not to be swallowed. I pocketed the empty vial and hopped on Blackjack's back.
"This is the first I will break out of camp. Let's try not to get seen, alright?" I said.
"Alright. Let's go."
Donuts! Here I come! Blackjack spread his wings and we soared away from Camp Half-Blood.
Chapter 23: Why Can I See The Moon During The Day? Oh, Wait. That's Artemis.
Manhattan is busy as always. Blackjack veered past around tall buildings and landed in an empty alley. I told him to meet me here in a while after I go buy the donuts I promised. Blackjack flew away and I walked out to a busy street. I wore a thin jacket to hide my camp t-shirt and left my sword with Blackjack, though I kept a Celestial Bronze knife inside my jacket for defense in case, a monster attacked. The nearest donut shop was just walking distance from the alley and few blocks away from my house. I entered the shop and bought three dozens of donuts just like what Blackjack requested. As I waited at the counter, I spotted my English teacher, Mr. Paul Blofis (When I first heard his surname, I though it was blowfish until he corrected us) with a beautiful woman with long brown hair with streaks of gray and blue sparkling eyes. I paid for the donuts and walked past Mr. Blofis. He noticed me and called out. I turned and approached them, greeting in the process. The woman greeted me and introduced herself as Mr. Blofis' wife, Sally Jackson. Percy's mother.
"-an intelligent student." Mr. Blofis is saying. "Not only in academics but also in sports. She also has the skill of a leader. I heard you aced the Science test, Christine. Well done!"
"Thank you, Mr. Blofis." I said. "Though it's quite embarrassing to talk about it."
He laughed. "Quite a meek girl you are. But won't you mind to look after my son at school? His name is Percy and he attends Goode High School too. He's at the same grade as you are, though, you've got different classroom assignments. His girlfriend helps him with his school work though they attend different schools. I think it would be a lot better to have someone nearby tutoring him if his girlfriend's busy."
"I don't mind, Mr. Blofis." I said. "To be honest, I think it was a great idea. I usually have a lot of free time in my hands."
"Thank you, Christine." Mrs. Jackson said. "You're such a kind girl."
"Percy's always at camp during summer. You might just be able to meet him in the first day of school. I'll introduce him to you by then."
"I don't think that would be necessary, Mr. Blofis." I replied.
"Oh? Is that so?" He looked at me, confused. "Anyway, thank you again Christine and sorry again for disturbing you even though you're in a hurry."
I waved it off. "Not at all, Mr. Blofis. I'm just here to buy donuts for a friend. Beisdes, I would like to also thank you for the conversation. It helped me a lot especially now that I got a lot going in my head. Anyway, gotta get going. Thanks you again Mr. Blofis and Mrs. Jackson. Good bye!"
I walked toward the door and grasped the handle. Before I pushed the glass door open, I called out to them. "Oh yeah, I also went to the same camp as Percy's. He's a great fighter and leader at camp." I smiled and pushed open the door, leaving them staring at me at disbelief.
I walked in a busy street, past high-rise buildings and apartments. I pushed my way through crowds of people rushing from opposite directions. I walked past the alley where Blackjack and I were going to meet up and turned to a different alley a few blocks away. I made my way just like I always do when I went home late from school and emerged to another street, slightly calmer than the first one. Across the street was a two-story house with blue walls and a yellow roof, my house or should I say, my former home. I crossed the street and jumped over the low wooden fence painted in white. The old wooden gate had stuck again even though how many times we put grease on the hinges. I walked on the rocky path and glanced at the lawn, now sporting thick yet glossy green grass. Patches of different kinds of flowers decorated the perimeter of the fence, their fragrances blooming in the air. I walked in the porch and pulled out the duplicate key I still have with me. I opened the door and a nostalgia welcomed me. The cool yet warm air. The fading scent of lavender and honeysuckle. The warm rays of the sun peeking through the windows. The house was miraculously clean and organized even though it was untouched for more than three weeks. The furniture were covered in white cloth and some were wrapped in plastic. As I looked over the kitchen, a voice spoke and reflexively placed my hand in my jacket but didn't pulled out my knife.
"Such cozy house...full of warm and happy memories..." I instinctively seized up the speaker. A beautiful young girl, about twelve or thirteen, with auburn hair gathered back in a ponytail, cold and bright eyes as silvery yellow as the winter moon. She was wearing black leggings and a silver tunic. A silver bow and a quiver of silver arrows were slung over her shoulders. She looked at me and regarded me with a warm smile.
"You're Christine Galliardo. The very first mortal daughter of Queen Hera."She inclined her head, emphasizing her words.
"Who are you?" I asked, my hand still on the hilt of my knife.
"My name is Artemis, d aughter of Leto and Zeus. Twin brother of Apollo. Goddess of the hunt, the moon, maiden hood and chastity. Protectress of the wilderness. "
I studied her. "I've met Apollo. Ummm...you two don't look like twins."
"Good point." She said. "If you have a twin, what would you want to look like?"
"Anything except my twin." I answered.
She nodded in agreement. I pulled out my hand and relaxed. I watched her as she looked around the house. She looked at the pictures hanging on the wall. Pictures of me and the three who looked after me ever since they found me on their doorstep. She took a particular interest on a picture when I was a baby.
"How does it feel being a daughter of the queen of Olympus? " She asked.
I fingered my charm bracelet. "Nerve-wracking." I answered. "Especially that my mother was a goddess who never had any mortal children for ages."
"No arguments here." She said. "Even though I'm an immortal being." She moved toward another set of pictures placed above the old fireplace. "It took your mother too long to claim you. After all, this is a very sensitive case."
I shrugged. "I guess so."
She met my eyes, giving me a sudden feeling of dread. "There's a shocking news circulating around Olympus, though I'm doubtful that it had already reached the camps. Your mother, Queen Hera, fled Olympus the moment she claimed you."
"She fled?" I asked, surprised.
"Yes, apparently, she feared her husband's wrath. After all, it's not Her Majesty' nature to have mortal children unlike him." She said. "But I could only guess that she feared for your welfare more than hers." Her eyes hardened. "Christine, you must make your escape as soon as possible. I fear that Father will come after you."
"W-Wait! What are you saying? W-Why would Lord Zeus come after me?" My voice trembled in shock.
"You very well know the answer to your question. It would best to leave tomorrow at dawn and tell no one. I fear it will only place others in grave danger."
"But where will I go? Is there a place I would be safe?"
"A place safe from the gods is a place not safe for demigods. No...I'm afraid, you will not find such place safe from Father. Unless, a god will take you in, possibly equal to Father's power. Either Uncle Hades or Uncle Poseidon, but I'm afraid the chances are too low." She looked at me apologetically.
I placed my head on face, completely frustrated. Why is this happening to me? Mom...why? My hand clenched into a tight fist, my knuckles turning white.
"You have such a terrible fate, Christine." She said. "I could only fear that more miseries will come your way. But if I could help at the very least, I would." She walked toward me and held my hand. She placed a golden string on my palm. "This is a string from my brother's lyre. He asked me to give this to you. This string is imbued with a piece of his power. Give this to the Oracle. I know you're pretty aware that the Oracle hasn't spoke out any prophecy since the last war but with this string, the Oracle will be able to announce the prophecy Apollo will speak through her. Father has forbidden him to let out any prophecy but he is willing to risk for this time. This can only be used once so remember, the prophecy that will be told by the Oracle should only between you, Apollo, and the Oracle. Understood?"
"Good." She said, seemingly relieved. Her eyes glanced at my bracelet for a moment. "Your bracelet...it's made of Imperial Gold."
"Huh?" I lifted up my wrist and inspected the bracelet. I shrugged. "Is that so? I couldn't tell."
I unhooked the bracelet and gave it to her. She pressed a sharp part of one of the pendants on her hand and produced a trickle of golden ichor. I stared at disbelief.
"It is Imperial Gold. No doubt." Artemis said.
"But that's impossible! It was given to me by Aunt Beryl. She's mortal."
"Could be a coincidence." Artemis said. "Or could it be she's a god in disguise?"
"Are you saying that she...?"
"As far I'm concerned, no godly parent wouldn't visit his or her mortal child even once. Be it in their godly form or a mortal one. I guess your mother visits you here once in a while. Queen Hera sometimes disappear in Olympus at times."
"No way..." That's all I could say but in my mind, Why didn't she told me it was her? How could she not tell her own daughter? In all these years she's been that near to me, how could she not tell? I shook my head. Too many revelations for one day. I looked at Artemis who was inspecting my bracelet.
"I couldn't help you much after this." She said. "If Father would find out, me and my brother would be forced to flee to our birthplace. So...if you wouldn't mind, I would like to make some alterations on your bracelet." She looked at me, examining my reaction. How could I say no if she wants to help? If my life's in such great danger, I need to get all help I could possibly find.
"It's alright if it will be helpful." I said.
"I'm sure it will be." She smiled. The bracelet disappeared from her hand. "It may take some time but be assured that I will send it over to you as soon it is finished."
"Understood." I nodded. "But, if anything comes up, could you please give it to someone I trusts?"
She looked at me subtle confusion. "What do you mean?"
I simply smiled. "Just a feeling."
She studied me before speaking. "Very well." Artemis looked at the sunlight passing through the windows down to the floor. "You've been away from camp for hours now. Argus will soon awaken and your pegasus friend was already waiting for you. You must return as soon as possible."
I nodded. "Thank you Lady Artemis for everything."
"You're welcome, Christine. Please remember to be careful especially now, with things already in chaos."
"I will. Please excuse me." I gave a bow and went out of the house. I glanced inside. Artemis was no longer there. I locked the door and rushed toward our meeting place. I need to go back to camp immediately. I need to talk to Rachel. I need to prepare for everything and anything. There's no time to lose.
Chapter 24: My First Ever Killer Prophecy
~Rachel Elizabeth Dare's POV~
I was watching Percy and Jason crossed swords, together with Piper and Annabeth, when Christine ran up to me. She told me she needed to talk to me and pulled me away with no more than a glance to Piper and Annabeth. We stopped by Cabin #2. She pushed the door open and ushered me inside. I hesitated. I asked her what she really need to talk with me. She looked at me, completely frustrated, before answering that it is very important, especially to the Oracle. A jolt went up my spine when she said the word Oracle. She looked at me for a second before entering. I thought of escaping but my curiosity and responsibility got the best of me. I followed her inside, closing the door behind me.
The cabin was unusually lit and warm. Despite that, a cold shiver ran up my spine. I had enough bad experiences in this cabin for a lifetime. I stared up at the statue, silently going through my book of choice words.
"I spoke with Apollo five days ago."
My head snapped into her direction. "You spoke with Apollo?!" I asked, surprised. "What did he tell you?" I asked, eagerly. The god hadn't sent any prophecy since the last Great Prophecy. Hearing that the god had a conversation with Christine made me quite excited to know more. Especially now, that Chiron had sent a search party to find a certain Aphrodite kid that was kidnapped by an empousai.
Christine sat down on her bunk bed, seemingly tired. "Nothing worth telling." She said. "Other than that, I also spoke with Artemis."
"What did they tell you?" I shifted. I could feel something is coming up. Two gods and one demigod. Top to that, the twin gods, Apollo and Artemis. Something's really up. I watched the fire flicker. The room suddenly dim and cold as if anticipating our conversation.
"Apollo wants you to prophesy. He's risking Zeus' wrath for this one."
"After that, they will flee to back to their birthplace in order to escape the king of the gods."
"Something big is coming up, isn't? With the way you say things?"
She nodded. She stood up and faced me. "Rachel, this is very important. I want you to promise, that the prophecy you will speak will just between the two of us and Apollo."
I stared at her. "W-What? Why? I can't do that! The camp must know! Especially Chiron! I can't possibly hide something im-"
"Rachel!" She held my arm. Her voice urgent and her eyes desperate. "Please, Rachel. Please. I beg you. This prophecy is very important to me. This may be the only way I could save someone important to me. So please, Rachel. I'm begging you."
I bit my lip. "This something not to be taken lightly, you know."
"If...If it is what Apollo wishes for then, I will. I swear to the River Styx to keep the prophecy between the two of us and Apollo." I shouldn't have agreed to keep it. But if the prophecy concerns the welfare of the world, I couldn't just stand by and wait until it's too late.
Christine smiled, visibly relieved. "Thank you, Rachel."
I shrugged. "I can't leave anyone or the world in danger, can't I?"
She smiled and out from her pocket, she pulled out a golden string. "This," She showed it to me, "is a string from Apollo's lyre. It is imbued with a piece of the god's power. Through this, you will be able to prophesy but it can only be used once." She handed me the string. The string lies on my hand like a powerful yet fragile treasure.
"Alright. Let's do this." I inhaled, closed my eyes, and called for the Spirit of the Oracle. Another heartbeat and everything became a sudden blur.
~Christine Galliardo's POV~
I settled the unconscious Rachel on my bed. My head ached. The prophecy still echoes in my mind, the same way I heard it, the time it was told.
Child of sixteen years wait,
Bearer of an ancient's hate.
Death in an illusion's wake,
The fall on the hands of a dove 's sake.
What does that even mean? I simply couldn't make sense out of it nor could I find something useful for the journey ahead. I sank down beside the bed, head leaning on the side. I need to calm down first and prepare for my quest. Only when I'm on the way should I try to decipher the prophecy. I closed my eyes, waiting for Rachel to wake up.
The sky was still dark when I woke up. I slipped in a red shirt, a gray hoodie with inside pockets filled with some Celestial knifes and some bronze spheres made by Leo that were not used in the Capture the Flag, faded jeans with another small batch of nasty spheres, drachmas and some mortal money, and my galaxy converse. I slung my backpack full of important supplies: a big thermos of nectar, three Zip locks of ambrosia bars, food, water, etc. My sword belt securely attached around my waist. I opened the door quietly and took a peek, making sure no one's around, before closing the door and dashing sneakily toward the hill. As I stood away beside Thalia's tree and Peleus, I watched the dozing Camp Half-Blood below me. I touched my wrist then, remembered that I don't have my charm bracelet. I bit my lip. I turned and walked toward the road. I threw a drachma which into the ground, calling "Stêthi, Ô hárma diabolês!" ("Stop, Chariot of Damnation!"). The smoky cab of the Gray sisters appeared and before I could change my mind, I slipped into the back of the cab and (if my dream last night isn't wrong) went for the DOA Recording Studios, Los Angeles, California.
Chapter 25: Is That Really Charon? That's Quite Unexpected
Am I dead?
That's the first thing that popped in my mind, though I'm pretty sure I'm asleep in my cabin in Camp Half-Blood. Darkness surrounded me like cold, wicked blanket. My body felt light like I was submerged underwater. I felt blind and naked. Helpless in everything that is to come. Then, light flashed above, blinding me.
I blinked. I found myself floating in the air. Blue, blue skies stretched on all four directions. Below, vast waters sparkled against the harsh daylight. Day? Maybe this is the past? Or the future? I looked down. Just below me, an island stood. Or so I thought. The view zoomed in. Imagine standing still on a particular spot. Nothing happened. Then, suddenly, things moved toward you in lightning speed like you're a magnet or something. The things didn't mess their original arrangement, just move toward you so suddenly. I found myself floating just above an amphitheater carved on a hillside. It was deserted but I could feel some sort of force in the island itself. It was running from the very bottom of the island underwater, flowing through the roots of every plants and trees, even pulsing to the very bit of stone of the amphitheater. A sacred place.
I wanted to land, know more about the island but a distant rumbling of thunder surprised me. I looked around, there's no storm clouds present in the vicinity above but the sky opened up like it was being forcefully ripped apart by two giant hands. The blue sky like a curtain, revealed a hole with walls of storm clouds. Lightnings flashed above and the thunderous vibrations shook the island. From the chaotic hole, came two chariots. One silver. One gold. Both in a frenzied rush, determined to escape the storm. The chariots landed not far from me and I caught sight of the twin gods. Lightning arched above and a voice roared, "APOLLO! ARTEMIS! WHERE IS HERA?!" before the colors melted into black.
This time, I am standing on the ground, no longer floating midair. All around me was darkness but unlike before, it wasn't total darkness, I wasn't floating, and I wasn't alone. Pale, smokey figures surrounded me, all moving in no particular direction. Then, a ghostly hand grabbed my arm. Though not possible, pain tore my skin as the ghastly fingers dug deeper in my skin. I turned and where the eyes and mouth should be, empty hollow sockets greeted me.
A raspy voice. A disembodied one. A chorus of dead voices from the ghosts around me melded into one through the ghost in front of me. "We will show you the one you're seeking!" Then, all at once, the ghosts lunged toward me.
Another scene. This time, I was floating again but not alone. The ghost that spoke was with me, still holding my arm.
"Below." It said.
I looked down. My eyes went wide in horror. Below me was a gaping hole bigger than the sink hole in Guatemala and seemingly continues to grow. I watched as a part of the earth breaks and drops down to the black chasm.
"W-What in the world is that?!" I asked. I breathed, taking in large amounts of air. The world began to spin as the air thinned. I found myself gripping the ghost's wrist. I could feel a wicked force trying to pull me in. The force is too powerful that the air seemed to thin and the space altered like a ripples of oil on water.
I wanted to run. I wanted to escape this vicious force. But the ghost pointed down to one side of the hole. "Look! Look closer!"
I tried to swallow down my fear and focused on where the ghost is pointing. Not far from the very edge, a huge cage made of Celestial Bronze with a stand was fixed on the side of the hole. I strained to see more. I caught figures inside the cage but I focused more on a certain person. A girl of my age with blond hair and baby blue eyes. Trisha! I tried to fly toward her but the ghost held me back. I tried to free myself from its grip but to no avail.
"Let me go! I need to save Trisha!" I thrashed but soon, the scene faded and my eyes snapped open to the dim light of my cabin.
I lazily traced a line on the dusty window of the taxi. Soft sunlight shone on me but I cared not. I watched blankly at the cars already rushing past in an early morning. Opposite the noisy street, silence took superiority inside the taxi. I delved in its soundless domain to recollect my thoughts and go over my plans.
Soon, the taxi stopped in front of the studios.
I was about to go out when one of the Gray sisters, namely Wasp, spoke up. "You sure going down? You, little demigod, should be careful. Heard that Hades hadn't shown his face to Olympus for months. Smells trouble, if you ask me."
I smiled. "I'll be fine. Thanks for the ride."
With that, I tipped them a few drachmas before going out and closing the car door behind me. The taxi melted down to the concrete and disappeared. I walked up to the main gate but stopped short when I saw a hanging sign by the door. CLOSED. I ran up and tried the handle. It's locked! Shouldn't be the Underworld open at all times? I remembered what one of the Gray sisters told me.I knocked and pulled the handle several times to no avail. I leaned on the glass door, shielding my eyes to get a good view inside. The lobby is empty. Well, empty of any living beings. Against, the sunlight, the ghosts were absolutely invisible, but with a small shade, I could see the faint outlines of different heights and widths. Now what? I couldn't just go breaking the glass door to enter! I inhaled, resting my head on my clenched hand.
A hiss and I instantly went for the hilt of my sword. I turned around and saw green snakes slithering toward my direction. Apparently, these snakes weren't ordinary snakes. They have collars with white spikes around their necks. Basilisks. Good timing as always. One basilisk opened its mouth and spewed fire to my direction. I ducked and looked back. Behind me, a portion of the door blackened. I slashed in front of me as a basilisk came sailing toward my face. As I fight, I counted them off my head. 1...3...5...about 8 of them! I jumped back, narrowly missing the poisonous touch of one. It struck the glass door before landing on the ground. The glass steamed as it melted because of the poison, creating a hole big enough for me to fit in. I took it as a advantage. I dragged the sword down, slicing the one who had hit the door into two and rushed toward the hole.
I slipped in hurriedly, almost passing through a ghost and threw a bronze sphere. It morphed into a net, covering a couple of them, and sent off electric shocks. Ooohh! That's nasty! If I come back (in one piece, I hope), I would treat Leo an all-you-can-eat buffet as thanks for his amazing gadgets. There still three of them. Easy peasy! Or so I thought. As I was about to charge to the remaining basilisks, the glass door suddenly erupted into a shower of fragments. Screams rang in my eyes and I felt something caught my arm. I turned and saw a long cut. A few feet behind me, a feather was stuck on the ground. I looked up and saw a flock of pigeon-like monsters with sharp Celestial Bronze beaks. Oh crap! Stymphalian birds!
A distant ping. The elevators opened, revealing a man. He looked with wide eyes and was about to say something when the birds started to attack. I jumped over the reception counter as feathers shot down like gray rain. Fire erupted over my head, setting half the counter burning. I looked around and saw the man unharmed but still in shock of the message and the monster's in the lobby. I counted three before running out of my hiding place toward the elevator. I punched on the elevator buttons and threw a couple of bronze spheres to keep the monsters at bay. As soon as the steel doors opened, I slipped, dragging the man with me, and slapped down the close button. A few hard bangs vibrated all over the elevator before everything turned quiet. I punched some buttons before I sunk down, trying to catch my breath.
I looked at the man and he looked back at me. I stood up, sizing him up. He is tall, elegant, and handsome. He has chocolate-colored skin and bleached-blond hair shaved in military style. He wears tortoise-shell shades and a silk Italian suit that matched his hair. A black rose was pinned to his lapel under a silver name tag. Charon.
"So you are Charon. The ferry man of the Underworld." I said carefully.
"So what if am I Charon, godling?"
"Please, Mr. Charon. I need a ride to the Underworld. My friend is down the-"
Charon raised a hand and shook his head. "You're not dead. The living is not allowed in the Underworld. Plus, the Underworld for the moment is not in order than usual."
"Not in order than usual? What do you mean?" I asked.
"It's none of concerns, godling. Now, I will return you above and deal with those monsters."
Right...I expected this one. I dropped my bag on the steel floor and rummaged inside. I pulled out a small pouch filled with golden drachmas. "Will you bring me to the Underworld if I pay you?" I asked, holding out the pouch.
"No." He answered.
I shrugged and pulled out another one."How about another one? Will that be enough?"
He stared at the two pouches of drachmas. With lightning speed, he grabbed the pouches from my hands."Godling, do you know what dangers await you in the Underworld? Are you well prepared?" He asked, his eyes glinted darkly.
"Yes." I nodded.
"Be sure, because it will much worse than you expect."
"Is that why the sign by door says it's closed?" I asked.
A tight yet dark smile. "Find it out for yourself, demigod." Then, the elevator melted into a wooden barge and a black caped hood replaced Charon's Italian suit. Soon, we were sailing on the murky waters of the River Styx.
~Leo Valdez's POV~
THE WORLD IS FALLING APART!
Well, that's what looked like in camp. Why? 'Cuz Christine's gone missing! We didn't find out until breakfast. She didn't show up that's why Clarisse went to her cabin (she got no choice because the others don't want to enter Her Majesty's horror cabin and no, I'm not scared, it's just the fact that she put us all in danger a few months ago, that's all) and found it empty. I mean, empty of the living mortal. No, no, there's no ghost but I got the shivers whenever I think that the goddess is INSIDE the cabin.
Anyway, that set off the bomb and Clarisse charged immediately to Chiron, demanding a search party. Of course, Chiron's not the reckless type. He told Clarisse to calm down and asked some campers to look for anything suspicious in the cabin. They found that Christine's things were no longer there, giving us the clue that she might have left, WHICH, made Clarisse wilder (she's absolutely scary, I thought she might kill Chiron any minute). Chiron asked if anyone of us knew anything or even saw Christine leave. No one spoke up. But I swear I saw the Oracle girl a bit jumpy than usual since the news spread. Annabeth seemed to notice it too and I got a feeling she will try to talk Rachel about it soon. So far, Chiron had ordered a separate search party for Christine, led by yours truly Clarisse. The other one, apparently, for Clarisse and Christine's kidnapped friend.
What the world is going, I don't know, but yesterday, I overheard something between Chiron and Mr. D, something about a disturbance going on Olympus and the increased monster count and faster return of defeated monsters in the mortal world (again). Of course, I didn't stand by (which I think was a wrong decision in my part). After a good curse, I ran toward my friends to tell them the terrible but juicy gossip I heard but got backtracked by an explosion by the armory. I haven't still told them yet but with the sudden disappearance of Christine, I guess now is a good (and bad) time to tell them.
Chapter 26: Schist! Another Oath to Styx?
This chapter is originally dedicated to -Hera-MarriageRings from Wattpad for her nonstop support!
~Annabeth Chase's POV~
"I-I'm really sorry, Annabeth b-but I can't tell you anything. I-I swore to the River Styx." Rachel stammered.
We're at the porch of the Big House. After the meeting about Christine's sudden disappearance, I pulled Rachel here. I noticed her fidgety disposition earlier that's why I decided to interrogate her.
I brought my face to my hand. Frustration started to build up inside me. This is the problem with making an oath to the River Styx. When you're at a pinch, you can't do or say anything covered in your oath unless you want to get severely punished. I inhaled, meeting her eyes once again. "Rachel...you and I both know that there two missing demigods. One who was kidnapped by an empousai. The other left camp just this day. Unlike us demigods, you don't get attacked by monsters often. I know you made can oath to the River Styx. I understand that. But what are you keeping? Is it the reason why she left? Just give a general idea. I don't think you will be breaking your oath that way."
Rachel looked down. Silence overpowered us.
I sighed. No use. I raised my arms in a surrendering gesture. "Alright. I guess that's it." I said. "Look Rachel. I'm sorry. I really do. If you can't, then you can't. I can't force you one way or another. But please, next time, don't make an oath, especially on things vital like this, okay?"
Silence. After a few seconds, I decided to leave.
"It's a prophecy..." She spoke, her voice barely a whisper.
"It's a prophecy." She repeated, a bit louder this time. The world seemed to tilt.
"What? A...a prophecy?"
A gasp escaped my lips. "But you haven't prophesied for months now! Isn't Apollo punished?! How could you prophesy now?!"
She rummaged her pocket and pulled out a golden string. "Christine gave me this. It was given to her by Artemis under Apollo's wish. It was also under Apollo that I swore to the River Styx. Thus gave me insight of the prophecy. But, it's useless now. It can only be used once."
I walked back and forth. My mind racing. A PROPHECY! Rachel had prophesied and made an oath never to tell what the prophecy is. If we know what's the prophecy then, we could find Christine! But how...
My eyes widened. Of course! That's it! I turned to Rachel. "Rachel, the Sibylline books!"
"If you can't tell us about the prophecy then maybe, maybe, Ella could!"
She smiled. "That's a great idea, Annabeth!"
I grinned. "Yes. Hoping that Ella didn't make an oath to the River Styx, we might know about the prophecy."
A cough. We both looked and saw Jason standing nearby. His blonde hair disheveled and he was breathing hard like he just gone from running. There's urgency in his voice."Sorry for the interruption, ladies, but I think whatever you're talking about needs to wait. Annabeth, emergency meeting at Cabin #3. All cabin head counselors were called immediately. There's an Iris message from Camp Jupiter. We got Frank and Hazel on the line."
He looked at us. A moment of desperation passed through his face. "It's trouble. Something big is brewing."
~Christine Galliardo's POV~
That is the first word that came in my mind the moment the Underworld unfolded before my eyes. It was quiet except for the rhythmic splashing of a wooden paddle. Not like what I'm used to in camp. But there's something eerie with this silence. I peeled my eyes of the various objects, the broken dreams of the dead, floating on the River Styx. I felt cold. There's a faint tingle in my ears since we went down to the Underworld. I braced myself as we reached the end of our journey. I jumped out of the wooden barge and casted a quick look at the path ahead me. Not far away, a black net stood. Apparitions floated around it aimlessly. Something's wrong. They seemed to be I don't know...Chaotic? Confused? And where's Cerberus? Isn't he was supposed to be guarding the gates of the Underworld? I almost jumped when Charon spoke up. He haven't say anything during the boat trip.
"Be careful, godling. But I don't think that matter, isn't? You will just be another aimless ghost like them especially now that Olympus is against you, daughter of Hera." He smiled darkly.
A shiver ran down my spine. I gripped the hilt of my sword. I'm scared. I admit it. But I'm already tired of it. I'm tired of having someone telling me what to do and what to say. I'm tired of people scaring me, forcing me to hide. Including this god in front of me.
I met his eyes. I replied, my voice surprisingly calm and steady. "Let them kill me for all that it was worth. Summon monsters or call for Zeus. I don't care. I'm not going down without a fight. But remember this," I glared at him.
"Don't you ever dare lay a finger on my mother if you don't want to cease existing in this world." I turned and walked on to my path.
~Piper McLean's POV~
The cabin's door slammed open and in came Annabeth, with Jason right at her heels. She gave me brief look and I nodded toward the direction of the fountain. A shimmery image floated, rippling with a spectrum of colors.
"Is everybody already here?" I asked. I looked around the faces of the cabin head counselors. Chiron is also here, tucked in his wheelchair. Clarisse is sharpening a knife in a rash manner, visibly irritated to be here. Percy was glaring at the fountain, muttering some unintelligible words. Apparently, he had a bad experience with his dad's fountain. I heard that he cleaved it in a half because of a horrible Iris message about Nico though Tyson repaired it when he visited a month ago.
We're complete. Jason gave an okay sign. Everyone turned to the fountain.
"Frank, Hazel, you guys still there?" I called out.
Familiar faces came into view. "Yeah." Frank answered. Behind him, Hazel smiled, regarding us.
Leo piped in, his hand flying around something he's been making since the morning. "Wassup bro? Long time no see."
"Leo." I said, casting him a look. "A few weeks is not that long, you know."
"C'mon, Beauty Queen. A few weeks is that LONG. We got a lot of a hell of events that happened. We found out that Christine's a daughter of you-know-who. You-know-who fled from Olympus. Christine disappeared out of the blue. Monsters were rapidly reforming again. We got trouble up in Olympus. We-"
Annabeth raised a hand."Wait! What? Monsters rapidly reforming? Trouble up in Olympus? What do you mean?"
Leo covered his mouth, dropping his whatever he's working on. He glanced at Chiron. An Uh-oh. I shouldn't have said that expression that I knew too well was written all over his face. We all looked at Leo then, to Chiron.
"Chiron." It was Annabeth. "Do you know what Leo is saying?"
Chiron sighed. "Yes." He met us all in the eyes. "Olympus has turned chaotic according to Mr. D. I know all of you know that Queen Hera has fled Olympus."
"Again." Leo groaned.
"But it's not just Queen Hera. Apollo and Artemis also escaped from Olympus."
A ripple of gasps. "Oh no! Not Delos again!" It was Leo.
From the shimmery image, I heard Hazel said. "You're overacting again, Leo."
"The gods are being divided again. Some gods are defecting from Olympus. Apollo and Artemis were said to be one of them. The reason was unknown. But there's a suspicion that the gods that had defected were working under someone."
"Did Mr. D tell anything about this person?" Will asked.
"Well, it was rather a blind suspicion." Chiron answered. "There had been reports of quicker reformation of monsters. If we're going to use it as a lead then, it would be Tartarus."
Uneasiness settled over us. I caught a flash of fear in the eyes of Percy. Something I'm not used to about him. Annabeth's fingers trembled. She clenched them into fists in an effort to stop them from shaking. I will take it from them, coming from two people who came from Tartarus back months ago. Tartarus is not the kind of god you want to meet. I shivered. The cabin suddenly felt cold.
"It is also what we want to ask you guys about." Frank said, breaking the silence. "Reports from some who just came back from a quest were going to Reyna and I. Monsters were reforming faster than usual, very similar back when we were trying to thwart Gaea. We thought Gaea somehow managed to come back that's why we contacted you."
"Nico." Hazel spoke up. "You're getting what I'm feeling, don't you?"
Nico looked at the image of his sister. His eyes were tired. He seemed paler than usual. "Yeah. I do."
"Which is?" Butch asked.
We all waited patiently. Hazel looked at Chiron."Mr. Chiron. Did Mr.D told you anything about our father being unable to attend meetings?" She asked.
Chiron thought for a moment. "Yes. He did mention something like that. He said that Hades hadn't been appearing in Olympian meetings for some time now."
Hazel nodded. "Yes. Nico and I were feeling some tremors from the ground for some time now. We got a feeling that something bad is happening down in the Underworld. What else could be the reason why our father won't attend meetings?"
"Hazel." It was Nico. "It was just a suspicion."
"But you said that most doors to the Underworld were closed. That's why you can't get in to check dad. Even you can't shadow travel to get there because you said that something is opposing your power."
"Yes. I did said but...we can't assume that much, you know."
A few moments of silence. A lot of revelations dropped down to us like a bomb. It was hard to take in.
Annabeth spoke up, breaking the silence."Say, Frank, Hazel. Did Ella mentioned anything about a new prophecy?"
We all stared at her.
Frank scratched his head. "Uh...apparently not. She did tell some prophecy at times but those had already came to a pass. We're still trying hard to have her say any future prophecy but with her muttering some history or even some random numbers, I don't think we'll get that far. Why do you asked?"
"You've heard about Christine's disappearance, don't you?"
They both nodded.
"Apparently, Rachel knew something that only exists between her, Apollo, and Christine until now. It might be the reason why Christine left camp. According to Rachel, it was a prophecy. But she can't tell me about it because she made an oath to the River Styx."
We all looked at Annabeth with wide eyes. Clarisse seemed to be readying herself to make Rachel spill the beans.
"A prophecy?! But that's impossible! Apollo's been-"
Annabeth raised a hand, cutting off Connor. "I know but it's a long story. We have to leave that out for the moment. My point is that Rachel can't tell us the prophecy because she's tied to an oath. But with the help of the Sibylline books, if Ella could tell us about it, then we will be able to track down Christine and find the root of the chaos in Olympus. Can you guys do it? Try to have Ella tell us about this new prophecy?"
Frank and Hazel looked at each then, nodded at Annabeth. "Yeah."
"The sooner, the better." Annabeth turned to Chiron. "While we're waiting, would it do us good to continue the search party in a blind direction?"
"It would be fine." Chiron replied. "We might as well find her before we know about the prophecy."
"Let's keep in touch in daily basis starting now." I said."We need a continuous transmission of information between the camps this time around. We need to keep each other updated."
Frank nodded. "I will have Reyna know about our conversation."
"I think it would be good to contact the Hunters and the Amazons as soon as possible." Hazel said.
"Alright. We'll contact Thalia." Annabeth said, glancing at Jason who nodded. "If you Reyna could, have her talk to the Amazons too."
"We'll talk with you again later. If anything comes up, call immediately." Percy said.
"So do you." Frank said.
"Man, you're talking to a guy who was the son of Poseidon. Sure, I could call you anytime. Just need a little light and a drachma. No problem. But don't expect me to call from this fountain or else I might find myself slicing it into the size of bread crumbs."
"Yeah...but don't try doing it either using water from a toilet bowl."
The shimmery image disappeared, leaving only a fountain filled with golden drachmas. We all stayed there deep in our thoughts.
Chapter 27: Cerberus Can Be Adorable. Vengeful Goddesses Cannot
~Leo Valdez's POV~
Remember when I said the world's falling apart? This time it's getting sucked in by an enormous black hole into a void of terror and rage of a rampaging Ares girl. Yep. You got it right folks. Clarisse officially lost it. Guess I owe you guys a good explanation. Let the hottest guy in the world retold you the story of how the world turned upside down and insane. This how it all started...
A few hours later after the meeting in Percy's cabin, a flock of giant eagles landed down by the strawberry fields in front of the Big House. Riding them were Reyna, Frank, Hazel, and a few more familiar Roman faces. Ella was also with them, apparently, perched on Percy's one-eyed half-sibling, Tyson, who came running from the hill. Campers ran up to them as soon as they landed. Jason, Piper, and I met up with them and led them to the Big House where all head counselors were called up to the recreational room immediately as soon as Chiron noticed their arrival. We settled ourselves around the ping pong table as we waited to start. Frank and Reyna was speaking to Chiron. Hazel sat beside Ella. She was trying to calm down the anxious red harpy who was pretty scared of Clarisse's death glare for Percy. Percy glared back, who I can only guess trying to think of ways to skewer Clarisse. Back then, they were fighting by the campfire when the Romans landed. Chiron and the two praetors spoke in hushed whispers before turning back toward us. Rachel sat next to Annabeth, busily scribbling on her all snapped into attention as Reyna spoke.
"I received the account of your conversation earlier. I already contacted my sister. She said that the Amazons had also noticed the trouble up in Olympus. They are willing to help. They will be providing equipments and forces as soon as everything starts to worsen. I will be keeping a constant communication with them." Reyna looked over to Jason. "I heard you're going to contact the Hunters as well?"
Jason nodded. "Yeah. Annabeth and I sent them an Iris message earlier. They will be helping too but it seemed that they're having a hard time mobilizing because Artemis had fled Olympus."
"Again. Apollo and that Loose Cannon of a queen." I grumbled.
"Leo." Piper chided. "Would you at least reserved those things for later?"
"Sure, Beauty Queen, if I could control my tongue."
Will piped in."How about the prophecy? Did Ella told you about it?" He motioned to the red harpy.
Rachel turned sharply, eager to get out of her ordeal. Clarisse broke her glare and looked expectantly to the two praetors.
Frank nodded. "Yeah. She spilled it out as soon as we asked her. It goes like this:
Child of sixteen years wait,
Bearer of an ancient's hate.
Death in an illusion's wake,
The fall on the hands of a dove's sake."
I raised my hands. "Alright, anyone who have an idea about the prophecy? Because I'm pretty sure I don't have any."
"Child of sixteen years wait...isn't it a bit similar to the Great Prophecy in the Battle of Manhattan?" Katie asked.
Chiron nodded."Yes. It's similar to the second line of the Great Prophecy, foretelling that a child of the Big Three will reach sixteen."
We looked at Percy, who flinched in surprise.
"Why are you looking at me? I'm already seventeen!" Percy said.
"Well, to whom was the Great Prophecy been told for?" Annabeth asked.
"But why sixteen? What's with the wait?" Piper asked.
"Christine's sixteen years old." Connor said.
We all turned to him.
"Are you saying Christine's the one in the Prophecy?!" Clarisse pounded the ping pong table, her rage bubbling up in the surface.
Connor gulped, his hand gripped his twin brother's arm. "I-I didn't say that and besides, t-there's a lot of us who are sixteen years old."
"Clarisse calm down."
Man, I always forgot how powerful Piper's charmspeak. I felt my body relaxed. Clarisse sat down on a stool and glared at us. I flinched when she looked at me. Help me!
"We can't be sure about that, you know." Annabeth said. "The first line might be about Christine but the other lines might be for someone else.s
"Bearer of an ancient's hate...? Who's stupid enough to bear anyone's hate?" Percy asked.
A cough. "Ask Kronos or even Gaea. They might know who bears their hate." Travis said.
The seven of us glared at him. He gulped.
Jason turned to Chiron. "So what's with the ancient part? If it were a god, then, there's a lot of them."
"True." Chiron nodded. "But when one say the ancients, it would be beings much older than three gods or even the Titans. The primordial gods, the Protogenoi."
"You mean like Gaea and Ouranos?" Katie asked, bewildered.
"I'm afraid, yes." Chiron said.
"No way!" I groaned. "Don't tell I need to blow myself up again?"
"Obviously not, Leo." Piper said. "Even if it comes to that again, we will not let you."
The other five nodded in agreement. "Never." They said in unison.
"Guys, that's creepy."
"But which protogenos?" Reyna asked. "And why would they hate someone?"
"Oh no!" Percy gasped. "Don't tell me it's Akhlys?! Or Tartarus?! Or even Nyx?! Annabeth, remember when we raid her mansion in Tartarus?"
"Get a hold of yourself, Percy! We didn't raid her house. We just passed through." Annabeth said.
"Well, you tricked her and even if we just passed through, we didn't asked much of a permission so, it's trespassing."
"Well, sorry for trying to keep us alive and trying to have us reach the Doors of Death."
"Oooohhh...love quarrel." I said.
"It's not!" They both shouted.
"Man...it really is creepy." I muttered.
A moment of awkward silence.
Frank coughed. "Well, then...the third line."
"Death in an illusion's wake." Will said. "Nico?"
The pale guy shook his head. "No...I'm afraid I don't have any idea."
"Could it be related to your father, Nico? Or the Underworld?" Lou asked.
"I wouldn't be so sure but perhaps."
"Nico, do you think it have to do something to Thanatos?" Hazel asked.
"Not so sure."
"Argh! Does anyone have any idea about this annoying prophecy?!" I rambled.
"Why don't you stop ranting there and contribute anything to the discussion?" Butch said.
"Watch it big guy or I'm gonna tie you down above Chaos." Or so I think. The guy's big even if his mother is the goddess of rainbow.
"I'll try to contact father tonight and see if everything is alright. I will also take a look into the Underworld."
"How about the illusion part? Do you think it refers to the Mist? To Hecate?" Hazel asked.
"I think it's possible." Lou answered. "But whatever illusion it is, I have no idea."
"Thanatos and Hecate...that would be a stranger duo." Percy remarked.
"Anyway, the fourth line. It said 'The fall on the hands of a dove's sake.' It could be referring to Aphrodite since one of her sacred animals is the dove." Reyna said.
"But what's with the fall? Why would Aphrodite want anyone to go down?" Frank asked.
"Where there is war, there is love." Piper said. "Do you think this prophecy is foretelling another great war?"
We turned to Piper.
"Wow...Piper. I never thought about that. All I was thinking today is how I could install some new features to Festus and spend time with Calypso after that." I said.
"Curse this!" Clarisse pounded the table. We all jumped in surprise. "I'm not going to sit here all day and hear you babble about some prophecy that we will never figure out!"
Before she could stand up, Will grabbed her wrist."Clarisse, listen-"
"No! You listen to me! One of best friends was kidnapped and the other was out there charging right straight to Death's Door without any particular reason! I'm not going to listen to anyone of you begging to me stay! I'm out of here!" She stood up abruptly that the stool toppled over. She was about to marched out of the room when Rachel spoke.
"No..." Rachel mumbled as if in a daze. "There's a particular reason why Christine left."
Our attention shifted to her. Clarisse turned so fast I thought her body would twist into half.
"I remember her saying that she wants to save someone important to her." Rachel looked at Clarisse, her eyes glinted darkly. "Could it be your best friend that was kidnapped? The Aphrodite girl?"
~Christine Galliardo's POV~
The place is eerie. Stupid me, eerie is a common description especially for the land of the dead. I should say it is pretty much chaotic. No Cerberus guarding the gates. Ghosts flitting around like some lost sheep. The empty Judgement Pavillion, no sign of any judge whatsoever. It is pretty much quiet. I expected to hear screams or some chilling sound by now but it was the completely opposite. But I knew better and it quite gave me a good ol' point. It was a whimper, so pitiful I could swear my heart would break into pieces. It wasn't far, just a few feet from the pavilion. I crept closer and that's when I heard the laughing. I peeked through the folds of the tent and caught the sight of those hideous creatures that night. The half-metal, half-donkey vampires, empousai. There were only three of them, fewer than that night. Just beside their donkey and metal legs, sprawled on the ground and collared with Celestial Bronze tied to a dead tree is the largest dog I ever seen. Except it wasn't the kind of dog you will see everyday. It has three heads and almost transparent, like a ghost. I watched as one of the empousai stomped its prosthetic leg on the middle head of Cerberus.
"Such an obedient doggie. You could be very much of a pet after Lord Tartarus destroyed your precious master." It sneered.
Another pitiful whimper escaped the poor hellhound. My heartbeat quickened. That voice. I know that voice...
"Say," The empousa from her left spoke up. "What does Lord Tartarus want to that half-blood anyway? She's been around for weeks now despite the fact, we got that stinking god of the Underworld in the cage."
The empousa on the right answered. "Well, I overheard that apparently, Lord Tartarus needs that Aphrodite girl to lure someone to him."
An eyebrow raised. "And who that might be?"
"Might be those high and mighty Olympian gods."
The empousa in the middle waved off dramatically. "Who cares? He ordered us to get that demigod and we did. Well, I DID. You girls got kicked out by that stupid Ares kid, remember?"
The empousa on the right rolled her eyes. "You barely did."
"At least, I did. Now, hush you two and let's see if we could make our pet dog do some tricks."
No doubt about it. It's that monster. The one who kidnapped Trisha. I crouched down a bit and caught Cerberus' eyes. I felt my heart broke into a thousand pieces. I need to save him. From my hoodie, I slipped out some knives. I stood up, made my aim, and threw. The knives glinted against the eerie light of the Underworld before it found its target. One embedded itself on the back of the right empousai, straight into its heart. The other went on the head of the left one. They both fell forward, screamed in pain, and disintegrated into fine golden dust. The middle empousai noticed and dodged the last knife. Before it could find me, I took off, sword ready, and stabbed it straight to its chest. She looked at me with wide, bewildered eyes, recognition flashed on her face.
She croaked. "You...you're..."
I dared an eye contact. "Yes. That's me. The girl from that night. It's good you remembered because I will have you remember never ever try to cross me again."
A cut-off scream before she disintegrated. I looked at the dust at my feet, kicking them off before I approached Cerberus. The hellhound watched as I cut off the Celestial Bronze and loosen it around from its neck. It jumped at me, licking at me as his tail wagged happily. I sat up, giggling.
"Alright. Alright. I get it. You're happy. Just stop licking me or you might accidentally eat me up. I don't taste good you know." I stood up, wiped myself with a towel from my backpack, and patted Cerberus on the head, his tail still wagging like crazy. I slung my backpack over and looked over at the hellhound.
"Say, Cerberus, have you seen a female demigod with blond hair and baby blue eyes?A bit smaller than me?" I gestured, hoping the hellhound will get what I'm saying. Fortunately, he did. He barked, running back and forth, pointing ahead. I have to give the dog his due. He's quite more intelligent than I expected. I sprinted after him, following him the best I can.
Soon, I caught sight of a tall building made of black obsidian. I concluded it has to be Hades' palace. A few feet from the palace, Cerberus slowed down, seemingly hesitating. I stopped, panting. My heart hammering in my chest. I propped myself against a dead tree and took a huge gulp of water. The tingling in my ears had turned into a buzzing, like bees who made their home in my ears. I watched as the hellhound moved around uneasily. His three pairs of ears all pricked up and his eyes alert and attentive. I inhaled. I could sense what the hellhound is sensing, heard what he's hearing. Inhuman noises and varying footsteps. An occasional clatter of some sort of metal and the smell of awakening terror. I motioned for Cerberus to come, to be silent. We sneaked closer to the palace and pressed against the wall. From there, I could see what the commotion was about. Monsters. Hundreds no, thousands of them swarming some sort of bird cage made from Celestial Bronze. Movement inside the cage. Figures shifted inside. I caught a glimpse of a man inside, wearing black Ancient Greek robes. By his feet, a girl sitting with her legs folded close to her. Her long blonde hair messy unlike what I'm used to about it and a pair of baby blue eyes, scarred with fear and despair. I inhaled sharply.
"My, my, what do have here?"
I spun around but found no one, still, the voice is there.
A chuckle. "It seemed Tartarus' plan finally came into fruition. My young demigod, you don't have any idea how your life and will no longer belongs to you."
"Who are you? Show yourself." My voice was quiet yet firm. I looked around, drinking on all the details around me.
I looked up. Sitting on the edge of the palace roof was a lady clad in black. She wore a black motorcycle jacket over a red shirt, black ripped jeans, black fingerless gloves and black boots. Her hair was the color of blood, rippling down her shoulders like waves. Her eyes were pools of black and mischief. From that distance, I could see the silver earrings shaped like rings decorating her ears. Three on each ear. Cerberus growled at the lady.
"My name is Até. Goddess of mischief, delusion, ruin, and folly. A minor goddess for you, high and mighty clueless demigods." She chuckled. "But I think you're smarter than the others. How interesting."
"What do you want?" I asked, trying to sound casual but making sure to keep my guard up.
"Oh? Shouldn't it be what you want? You're going to save that child of Aphrodite, don't you? Go ahead. I'm not stopping you. But, how will you stop them? One step closer and you will either end dead from those lowly beings' hands or from Tartarus'. What are you gonna do?"
I gazed at eyes, watching everything unfolds in those black pools. My reflection. Cerberus. Everything. I lowered my sword.
"You're not Tartarus' nor my ally. Not even an enemy." I said finally.
She raised an eyebrow but I caught a hint of losing guard. "Oh? What made you say that?"
"There's no such thing as neutrality. " I said, ignoring her question. Where did I get that, I wouldn't know. I just sort of interpreted what I saw in her eyes. The buzzing in my ears grew louder yet I couldn't pinpoint where it came from. I kept my gaze to the goddess. "Whether you like it or not, you will be affected by the clash between the two sides. If I were you, I would spill the beans."
She stared at me, the air around her seemed to ripple. Her aura darkened."You know very much that I could kill you now, especially that you are a daughter of that jealous so-called queen. Do you know how helping her cost me my place in Olympus? Zeus had banished me! Threw me out of Olympus! All for helping out that devious and deceitful goddess!"
I dug in my mind, looking for anything that is related. All the stories the three grandmas and the stories I learned from camp. Soon, everything clicked into place. Até. I remembered the story wherein she agreed in mom's proposal and tricked Zeus into swearing an oath. Mom used the opportunity to delay Hercules' birth and caused the premature birth of Eurystheus. Because of this, Zeus became angry that he himself threw Até out of Olympus and banished her for eternity. Since then, she wandered among mortals, causing them trouble.
"You're angry to my mother because she used you..."
"Angry doesn't sum it all! I despise her! I want her to experience everything I suffered ten times worse! You, her daughter, is the perfect tool for my revenge!"
I should have been angry at her. I should have already attacked her. But fighting against a goddess who have a grudge against your mother when hundreds of thousands of monsters stood nearby around a huge growing pit that leads to Tartarus is never a good idea. Plus, I'm pretty sure that Até will not attack me that easily. She's in between two sides. I knew it.
"So, you plan to carry out your revenge by having me killed through Tartarus' plan?"
She smiled darkly.
"Oh, not just that, demigod. I will make sure Zeus will suffer too. I will watch Tartarus destroy him. Every trace of the gods' legacy will be erased in this world. A new world will be reborn. A world I could torment every being without restraint!" Her laughter echoed, as empty and hollow as the ghosts in Asphodel.
I hardened my gaze. My hand clutched the sword tight. "You said he will erase the gods' legacy? How about you? How could you be sure he won't destroy you?"
She raised her hands. "We had a deal! He had recognized me as an ally! I stirred trouble in all beings, spreading the fear of Tartarus! The gods and their legacy will fall! I don't need your puny shrine! I'm not as shallow as those desperate minor gods!"
"That coming from a goddess who is desperate to get revenge," I shook my head. "You're no different from them."
I might have already died with the way Até glared at me. She had jumped down from the roof and landed down in front of me. Cerberus scooted closer to me, rubbing his three muzzles in my free hand. I didn't flinch at her close proximity.
"But what makes them better than you is that they had gotten past of their grudge to the Olympians. Yes, they do deserve to be honored the moment they existed in this world. But they got more than that. They got the right to be remembered, to remain existing, to be of service with each other. If Tartarus destroys the world, what will happen to you? You will be destroyed too, no doubt about it. Gods continue existing because mortals keep on remembering them. Unlike gods, Tartarus and his kind can exist without mortals. There's no point destroying the Olympians if you yourself will get destroyed in the process."
I looked at my sword. "Honestly, I could have attacked you already after insulting my mother. But I saw through you, you're neither an enemy nor an ally. You won't attack easily despite your grudge to my mother, that's why I took the risk of talking to you."
Atè's emotionless eyes bore down to me, coldly calculating my existence. "I was wondering what the primordial of the pit wants from you..." She glanced at the huge hole. "Very well. You got me. Despite my grudge to your mother, I myself know the better way of things. Tell me something I don't know."
I grinned. "Something you don't know? I'm thinking of offering something to you in exchange of your assistance." I said, nodding toward the monsters. "Perhaps, helping you get your place back in Olympus."
She sniffed. "Zeus is hunting you down, half-blood. I don't think that would work out especially with how things are now."
I smiled my best smile. "I will cross the bridge when I get to it. For now, saving my friend is the top priority. But I assure you, I will fulfill my promise."
She nodded."Very well then. We have a deal. But..." Her gaze shifted to the monsters. "I don't think you'll need me on that."
My eyebrows furrowed. "What do you mean?"
"I could offer you a better assistance. But for that...you only need a good distraction, and you already have that distraction." She gestured to Cerberus. "His master was among the captives. The god of the Underworld, Hades."
The image of the man in black Ancient Greek robes passed in my mind. I glanced at Cerberus, rubbing my hand on his heads.
"I will give you a bit of power enough to cut easier through the cage bars."
"That will do." I looked at Cerberus, meeting his eyes. "Hey, buddy. Your master's there, isn't?" A whimper. "I know, I know. You want to save him, that's why I'm going to ask you to help. Can you drive those monsters away while I save them?" Quite the intelligent dog he is, instead of barking, he licked me on the hand. Maybe his silent way of saying yes.
I whispered a thank you and turned to Até. She nodded. I pulled out a knife and adjusted my sword. There's no turning back now.
Chapter 28: When All Hades Breaks Loose...
Note: I don't own PJO nor HOO. All credits goes to Rick Riordan for these two wonderful series.
~Hazel Levesque's POV~
Before Clarisse could move a step out of the room, the ground suddenly shook. It was so sudden and violent that we toppled to the ground. Some of the wall ornaments fell out of place and things made of glass shattered upon impact to the ground. Screams of panic echoed from outside. We gathered our bearings, carefully standing one by one.
"What in Hades happened?" Travis asked, his eyes wild in shock.
"Shut up, Travis. Isn't obvious? An earthquake happened just a minute ago, and please stop using my father's name in vain or else I will send an army of undead soldiers after you." Nico said.
"Okay, people." Leo piped in."Which of you is stupid enough to make Percy's dad angry?"
"Leo...it wasn't Poseidon." I said.
Leo's eyes widened. "Don't tell me Percy did it?!"
"Bro, if it's Clarisse, I would. But no, I didn't do it."
"What did you say Jackson?!"
"Stop playing Sherlock Holmes, Leo." Piper said. She turned to Nico and me. "I supposed it wasn't any of you?"
I shook my head.
Nico stared down, seemingly thinking deep. "No. I don't think it's dad. That quake...it's different." He turned to me. "Do you?"
"No. Just like what I'm saying earlier, it wasn't Poseidon nor any of the three of us." I gestured to Percy who was muttering something about Mount Saint Helens. "Not even dad."
"Then, who? Gaea?" Jason asked.
"No..." Nico was about to say something when the door slammed opened. Leaning on the doorway was the son of Bacchus, Dakota.
"The ground...outside..." He huffed.
We all looked at each other and rushed outside, following Dakota. We stopped abruptly and stared wide-eyed at what lays before us. A huge and very long fissure had opened up from the ground starting from the edge of the dining pavilion up to the middle of the strawberry fields.
I looked to Nico who looked back at me. A simple message passed through between us, unspoken yet clear. Tartarus.
I watched in grim silence as the other Olympian gods argue. All hell has finally broke loose. On my hand, my caduceus turned into a phone and snapped a photo of Ares smirking at the chaos in front of him. I rolled my eyes at his amusement. What else could expect from the god of war? He may have been waiting for them to smack each others' heads.
"...getting out of hand!" Demeter is saying. "If this continues, the agricultural production would be affected!"
"Well, that would be good!" Ares laughed. "There would be less cereals! And do you know what that means? We will not be forced to eat cereals every single day!"
I added a caption saying "A simple-minded buffoon." to the picture and posted it in my Facebook. Soon, a like from Athena popped out together with a comment saying, "No doubt about it."
"This is not a laughing matter, Ares!" Demeter wailed. "It would affect the nutrition of everyone! We will become physically unfit!"
"What does it have to do with our REAL problem?!" Dionysus asked, slurping his Diet Coke.
"SILENCE!" Father's voice boomed.
We all settled down. Ares still smirking like crazy. Athena rolled her eyes in disgust. I glanced at four empty thrones.
I silently typed on my phone, "How are you bro?", and sent it to Apollo. Thunder rolled, shaking the whole palace. No good. Father's in his worst mood. My phone turned back to normal. I slumped on my throne.
"Father," Athena chided, taking the spot to prevent further unwanted comments. "The point is that we can't let our guard down this time. Hermes here," She gestured to me. "Had confirmed that it was truly Tartarus that we are against with. Unlike Gaea, he resolve into a direct attack, not through a layered plan. It is evident in Uncle Hades' absence. Tartarus had taken control over the Underworld. A few more days and he will reach the surface and stir great disaster. We can't let that happen."
"He IS already stirring trouble on the surface! He almost broke Camp Half-Blood into half!" Aphrodite exclaimed. "My poor dear little children...they might be already scared now."
"Brother," Poseidon said. "We must suppress Tartarus while he is still in the Underworld. We can't allow him to go on any further."
Father looked to all of us. His eyebrows furrowed into deep thought. "Very well. We will stop Tartarus as soon as possible. We cannot risk another war. Athena, formulate a plan as soon as possible. The others, try to destroy his forces, no matter how fast they reform."
"Hahahaha! This is life!" Ares laughed.
"Hermes," I turned to him in full attention. "Continue updating us about Tartarus and also," His eyes darken. "Report to me if you found anything about Hera and her mortal daughter. She has finally crossed the line. I won't be merciless this time." With that, he flashed out of the throne room, leaving us looking at each other. One by one, the other gods left. I remained seated on my throne, watching Hestia's hearth.
Martha leaned on my ear. "You got a message from Apollo. Seems he got through without getting found out."
My caduceus turned back into a phone and I read the text. "We're fugitives, that's how we are! But yeah, we're alright. Lil' sis a bit worried about her Hunters. Typical. Anyway, do the exiles a favor and deliver something for you-know-who. Make dad doesn't found out. Got any news about Her Majesty?"
I leaned on my chair. I typed my reply. "Very well. Send it through Iris. And yes, I have news. News that Father wanted but I will never tell." I pressed send and went to visit the goddess Iris.
~Christine Galliardo's POV~
It was pretty amazing how easily those monsters fell to our decoy. Até had casted something us to prevent any one from overhearing our conversation earlier. Cerberus came bounding to the monsters and tore down a few. Soon, the monsters were playing chase with him, leading them away from me and giving me time to free the captives. I approached the Celestial Bronze cage cautiously. I looked up. The cage was about five feet about my head.
"Trisha! Trisha! Can you hear me?" I called out.
The cage swung slightly. A slim frame appeared by the polished bars of the cage. She looked down. Her eyes widened in joy.
"Christine? Is that you, Christine? Oh gods! It's really you!"
"Yeah. It's really me. I'm glad you're safe. Wait for a moment. I will free you from that cage." From around my shoulder, I unwound the Celestial Bronze chains that bounded Cerberus which I retrieved earlier. I threw it up and Trisha caught it. She wounded it around two bars, securing them tightly. I climbed up and balance myself on the ledge of the cage floor, grasping on the bars. With that, I finally got a good look inside. Besides Trisha, there were others locked up in the cage. The man in black Ancient Greek clothing whom I presumed to be Hades stood surrounded with other men clothed in the same fashion though different in color. Some were bearded, some with long hair.
"Are they...the judges of the dead?" I asked quietly as I could.
"Yeah. They were already here before I came. They looked unnerving at first, but if you spend a little a time, they're quite kind. That guy is William Shakespeare, by the way." She pointed to one of the judges.
I looked at her in disbelief. "No way!"
"Yes way!" She grinned.
I leaned closer. "Think I can get an autograph?"
"Absolutely. But," She pointed at the bars. "Bars first?"
I looked at the bars. "Yeah. Back to business. Trisha, step back a bit."
She obliged. I freed my hand and unsheathed my sword. I rested my forehead on the flat. I closed my eyes and prayed to the goddess. Até, I need your power. I struck the upper part of one bar. The blade dug deeper through the metal. I sawed at the bar which the blade easily got through. After that, I sawed the lower part of the bar and within seconds the severed bar fell to the ground with a thud. I did the same with the other bars until I cut a rectangular hole big enough for an adult to pass through. I ushered the them outside and Trisha tackled me with a tight hug.
"Waaaahhhh! Christine! I was scared! I'm glad you saved us!" She cried.
I patted her on the back. "I'm glad you're safe. Clarisse and I were worried sick about you."
She let go."Clarisse? How is she? Where is she?"
I smiled. Trisha can be a worrier too."She's fine though she's a bit more reckless than usual. She's at camp."
"Camp?" She asked, puzzled
"Yeah. Camp Half-Blood. A camp for demigods like us." I answered.
"Daughter of Hera." I turned to the direction of the voice. It was Hades. His features reminded me of Nico but not Hazel which seemed a bit strange. I shivered at the thought."You are an enemy in the eyes of my brother, Zeus."
I stepped back involuntarily.
"But," He looked at me. "You have saved me and my subordinates. I shall repay you richly."
I breathed in relief.
"But alas! As you can see, the protogenoi Tartarus had taken over my dominion. My powers have no match against him."
"Lord Hades." I stepped forward. "Please tell me what is really happening. How did this happen. Why he locked you up. What Tartarus wants from my friend." What he wants from me. That's what I really I want to say. I already knew what he needs from Trisha. He wanted to lure someone to him. And that someone is me. Até told me that but even she, doesn't know what Tartarus wants from me.
"Tartarus." His voice was hard. He glanced at the huge gaping hole. "Wants to avenge his wife, Gaea. You have heard about the recent Giant War, I hope?"
I nodded. "Yes. Gaea plotted to overthrow the gods at their roots but she was stopped through the unity of seven demigods from the two camps."
"Yes. That ended the conflict between the Greeks and the Romans. But unfortunately, the defeat of Gaea angered Tartarus. He wants to avenge her. Unlike Gaea, it seems he was plotting to directly destroy the gods." He gestured around. "Just like how you could see now."
"You're the nearest, that's why."
Trisha gripped my arm. "Christine...let's get out of here. I don't want to stay any longer."
But before I could speak, the ground shook violently. A large fissure opened up between Hades and me, separating us. The ground surrounding the hole collapsed, bringing with it the Celestial Bronze cage. We fell to our knees.
"Trisha! Hold close!" I shouted over the rumbling. Her grip tightened around my arm. Soon, the shaking ceased. Dust swirled in the air. The hole got a whole lot bigger than before. It was only then that I realized my heart was hammering in my chest. I must have dropped my sword somewhere during the earthquake. I slowly stood up, supporting Trisha who wax still shaken. My head is spinning but I managed to make my surroundings out. The buzzing turned into a painful static, louder than before.
"Is it over?" Trisha whispered.
A respond came before I could speak. A laughter so wicked that I recognized in my dream.
"Over? Such a wishful thinking, little demigod." Rising above the hole was a person I hoped never to appear in my dreams again. A person I never wanted to meet in person. Tartarus.
The dark whirlpool in his face intensified. I could swear he might have been looking at me and smiling darkly as he spoke. "I'm afraid it's just about to start."
Chapter 29: Tartarus: The Grumpy Old Troll (Or God)
My mind and body had separate reactions as Tartarus floated above the hole. My mind was screaming to run, to get away as soon as possible but my body was frozen in place, like its time was chained down into this absolute moment. I couldn't speak, my throat suddenly dry. My chest started to close up, making it hard to breath. I stood there in shock, encased in fear I couldn't comprehend. I have experienced what Percy had experienced when they encountered Tartarus. A great clawing fear, tearing at your limbs, making you feel hopeless.
This is the end.
There is no hope.
Everything you value will be lost for eternity.
My mouth tasted like metal. I must have bitten my tongue. My head was blurry. The static seemed far away now.
"We finally meet, my young Christine." He hovered toward my direction. I couldn't move. "It took quite some time to have you come here. I've been waiting for you."
"Waiting...for me...?" I croaked. My voice doesn't sound my own.
"Yes. The last piece I need to victory. You, my dear Christine, will be my tool to the fall of the gods."
"Your destiny. The absolute key to the destruction of the gods. The door to a new age. Isn't what you want deep inside? After all what that wretched Zeus have done to you in the past?"
"W-What are you talking about?"
He chuckled. "Of course. You don't remember. But I will let you remember. I will awaken that anger, that hate, that had been sleeping within you." He reached out a taloned purple hand. I want to move but I couldn't. Before he could touch me, a strong force pushed him back. I unfreeze. Everything came into clarity. The static grew louder. Not far by the other edge of the fissure was Hades, his arm outstretched before him.
"Half-Bloods!" He called out. "Run! I shall push him back to give you time! Hurry!"
With a quick jerk, I dashed, pulling Trisha with me. Tartarus roared in anger. The ground shook violently. We struggled to keep running. I dared to look behind me. Not far away, Hades was forcing Tartarus away from us. His face of dark whirlpool swirled furiously as he tried to pursue us. Cracks snaked toward us, scarring the terrain. The shaking intensified. Trisha tumbled over. I grabbed her hand, pulling her up. All around us, the surroundings was out of focus. My head is spinning and aching. The static grew fainter as we scrambled away from the hole. A shout of pain made me stop and turn.
"Lord Hades!" I screamed. Tartarus had Hades by his neck. His minions tried to free him but Tartarus swatted them away like some kind of children's toy. One word formed from his lips. Run.
"Christine! Let's go!" Trisha tugged at me but I didn't budged. I should run. I should escape. Away from this nightmare. Instead, I pushed Trisha, forcing her away from an emerging fissure.
"CHRISTINE!" She shrieked.
"Trisha! Listen to me!" She jerked up, standing carefully. "Do you trust me?"
"What in the world are you saying?! Now's not the time, Christine!"
"Just answer me! Do you trust me?!"
She bit her lip and nodded hesitantly.
"Okay. Listen. Continue running until you arrived by the shore. There's a man on a boat. Give him this." I threw her a pouch of drachmas which she barely caught. "He will bring you to the surface. If the information I got wasn't wrong, there will be a group of teenagers wearing purple and orange t-shirts on their way here. Join them and find Clarisse. Tell her," I smiled half-heartedly. "That if she didn't take good care of you, I will skin her myself if I come back."
Trisha looked stricken. "If?!"
"I will come back, alright." I'm a liar."Now, go on! We don't have much time!"
Trisha looked to back and forth to me and the road ahead. She tried to speak, tears threatening to fall from her eyes. I know what she wanted to say, Be careful. Please come back safe and sound. She bit her lip, forced herself to turn away, and dashed toward the shore. Please let Até's information be right. I forced myself to move and struggled back toward the hole.
~Percy Jackson's POV~
I haven't known such long and powerful earthquake before. The ground continue shaking as we make our way toward the DOA Recording Studios. We were forced to run because it's quite hard to drive when the world is shaking uncontrollably. Here and there, people ran, searching for the safest possible place. A huge traffic had formed on the roads. Glass windows shattered from buildings, sending showers of dangerous debris. Jason sent out a gust of wind to blow away shattered glass that was threatening to impale us on the head. I pulled Annabeth to me as a huge gaping crack opened up on the ground. High above, Festus blew fire to a horde of monsters approaching us. I called out to Blackjack who came to my aid immediately. Annabeth and I climbed up and flew below Festus. Far ahead, Arion and Hazel sped away. Frank, in peregrine falcon form, flew just beside Leo and Calypso. Giant eagles and pegasus flocked the sky, picking up demigods. A ventus in a form of a stallion appeared and picked up Jason and Piper.
"What's the deal with this earthquake?!" Leo shouted.
"Don't ask me! I'm not a Hades kid!" I shouted back.
"But you're a son of the god of-"
"Leo!" Calypso scolded. "Not now! This is a serious thing!"
"Hazel and Nico told us that they think it was Tartarus who was causing these earthquakes." Annabeth said.
"That's what they think." Piper said as they flew beside us. "That's why Nico decided to try to go the Underworld earlier. He wanted to be sure. Other than, to check if Christine's there."
"But what if they were wrong about Tartarus?" Frank landed down on Festus' back and turned back into human form.
"What if they were right?" Jason shot back.
"Then, we're all doomed." Annabeth said.
~Christine Galliardo's POV~
As soon as I entered a good throwing distance, I threw a Celestial Bronze knife at Tartarus. The knife struck his wrist and he dropped the god of the Underworld. He roared in anger and turned to me. I stopped dead on my tracks.
"ENOUGH! NO MORE FOOLING AROUND!" A great shock wave knocked us off and Tartarus flew toward me, his hand outstretched. I couldn't move. My head was spinning and aching. I must've hit my head when I fell. Creatures fluttered around him, stopping him and clawing at him. Furies. I caught a glint not far behind Tartarus. My sword. I scrambled on my feet and make run toward it. I know it's impossible to fully kill a god, much more of a primordial one. If I have any hope, that is to destroy Tartarus' physical form which is impossible since the underground is his domain. I will need to lure him on surface and destroy his physical form away from his element. Absolutely not the earth since Gaea is his wife and earth is connected to the ground below. Water or the sky will do. But that's an impossible task for now. All I need was to distract him or weaken him to make our escape.
I slide down to avoid the wings of one Fury and grabbed my sword. Tartarus swatted the Furies away and turned to us. Before I could dodged, a shock wave hit me and sent me flying toward the edge of the hole. My chest hurts in the impact, making it hard for me to breathe. My body is sore and frozen. Black dots blotted my vision. My head dangled precariously above the void. Miraculously, I still have my sword. I groaned, tried to focus. Before I could move another muscle, Tartarus was already hovering above me. With one hand, he clutched at my neck. I choked and clawed at his purple skin.
"You are hard to deal with, Christine, but with the past as your shadow, you will be tame as a faithful dog!" He pressed a hand on my forehead and eyes and all I last heard was my screaming.
My eyes can see nothing. Darkness covered every inch of my surroundings. But, that doesn't mean there is nothing. There's definitely something. Sounds. Voices. Feelings. Clear as the present.
A feeling of emptiness clung to me then, something emerged from that emptiness, warmth. The sounds of numerous wars and peace after them. A repeating pattern of joy and despair. From the background, a sound began to grow louder. It was subtle at first but soon took over all the others. Shouts. Anger. Greed. Hate. Then, pain struck me. Excruciating endless pain. Then, silence. Dead and cold.
Something jarred me back to reality. The oppresive pressure lifted up and the sounds faded away, replaced by a boy's voice. A voice I seldom hear but recognized.
"Christine! Wake up! Come on!"
I shot up awake, heaving and sweaty. My heart hammered down on my chest. I realized I was shaking. My vision came into focus.
"Nico...?" My voice came out as a frightened whisper.
He helped me up. "No time. We have to get out of here." He wrapped my arm around his shoulder and wrapped his other hand on my waist. I limped as we walked away. My body drained out of energy. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Hades fending out Tartarus away from us together with his subordinates. My vision swam.
"Nico...Tartarus..." I whispered hoarsely.
"He almost got you but I came. I managed to push him back away from you. You were screaming in pain. The others will be coming shortly. I also came upon a girl earlier. She said she's your best friend. She's already at the surface, told her to wait for the others."
"Tartarus...he wants me...he needs me to avenge Gaea..."
"Not going to happen. Besides, what would you have that Tartarus needs to carry out his revenge?"
Memories. I wanted to say. Memories I didn't know I have. But I began slip away. It was only then that I realized that the ground was no longer shaking and the static had turned into a soft, warm hum. I tried to grab at it. To hold on it and understand it.
" In order to defeat the enemy, you must know your enemy as you know yourself."
It was a familiar voice though I couldn't trace where I heard it. It wasn't mother's nor any of my friends'. I opened my eyes. Know your enemy like you know yourself.
"Nico. Promise me something." He looked at me and waited eagerly. His eyes widened in shock.
"What?! What are you saying?! There's no-"
"Promise me!" I said, locking my eyes on him, urging him.
"You can't!" He exclaimed.
"But I must!" I argued. "Promise me, alright?"
He looked torn but he let go off me, making sure I could stand now on my own. "Alright."
I smiled. "Please take care of Trisha for me and also if you could, make sure Clarisse won't do anything reckless."
"The first, I could manage. The second, I'm not sure."
I laughed. "I wasn't expecting you could."
I smiled sadly. "I will. Summon me some undead if you could? I will need some."
He nodded and summoned a dozen of dead soldiers from some war years ago. I gave him a final look of gratitude and walked away, toward the enemy.
I might not defeat you but I will give them time.
I might fall.
But I assure you, they will rise up and be the ones to destroy you.
Chapter 30: I'm Dead. Literally.
~Hazel Levesque's POV~
Arion and I arrived to the recording studios earlier than the others. I imagined the bizzare collection of armed teenagers, giant eagles, and pegasi in front of the studios. The Mist might be working double time already, concealing us from the mortal world on our way here. But what I didn't imagined was the shattered glass doors of the infrastructure and the girl sitting in front of them, her head on knees, sobbing. I didn't approached her immediately instead, I willed the Mist to uncover if she was a monster. It was negative. A demigod? I summoned a chunk of gold and gave it to Arion. I told him to wait for me and approached the girl.
The girl looked up and finally gave me a good look at her. She was about sixteen years of age. A bit smaller than Christine. Her long blonde hair was loose and messy. Her fair skin covered in dirt and scratches. Her baby blue eyes puffy and red from crying.
"What...what happened to you?" I asked.
She gazed out to my T-shirt."A purple t-shirt...a-are you with the guy in orange?" She asked warily.
"A guy in orange? Do you mean Nico?"
She nodded hesitantly. "My best friend's came to save me. She's still down in the Underworld. The guy went down to get her." She bit her lip. She grabbed my hand. "P-Please save her! I beg you!"
Best friend? I remembered what Rachel said back in the recreational room. Everything began to clicked into place. All our suspicions confirmed. A loud collective flapping of wings and a strong gust of wind.
I turned. The others had finally arrived and were climbing down their respective rides.
"Medic!" I called out. "I need a medic here quick!" Some Apollo kids led by Will rushed toward us, holding some first aid kits. They quickly tended the girl, ushering her to drink some nectar and eat some ambrosia. My friends approached us together with Chiron.
"What happened?" Frank asked.
"I found her as soon as we arrived here. She told me that a friend of hers went down to the Underworld to save her. She also saw Nico went down too."
"How about the Doors?" Leo pointed out. "Must be quite a riot to have it shattered like that."
"I don't know. I haven't asked her yet about it."
"About the girl. What's her name?" Jason asked.
"Trisha...?" From behind us, Clarisse rushed forward. Her eyes widened in disbelief and surprise. "Oh gods of Olympus! It's you!" She tackled the girl with a hug. The Apollo kids scrambled away at the sudden affectionate assault.
"Clarisse! I'm glad to see you!" She cried.
"Shut up! I'm more than glad to see you safe!" Clarisse said. She let go and studied the girl. "What happened to you? You looked like a huge mess after lunch time."
The girl wrinkled her nose. "Shut up! It's not my fault. I got locked up in a huge case for weeks. Christine came only earlier to save me."
"Christine?!" Clarisse gasped. "Where is she?!"
The girl looked down on her bruised hands sadly. "She's still down there. We got separated. The guy in orange- Nico -went down to get her."
Clarisse ran a furious hand on her hair. She stood up and paced back and forth. "What in Hades is she thinking?! The Underworld is dangerous! She should be smarter than that! Argh!"
"Clarisse...I'm sorry...it's my fault." The girl sobbed. "If...if If fought back then...maybe..."
"Quit that! It's not your fault! It's mine! I should have brought you sooner to camp! I-I should have kept a careful eye at Christine! What kind of friend am I? Dammit!" Clarisse kicked the nearest first aid kit, scattering its contents all around.
"Clarisse." Chiron said, his voice calm and reserved. "Blaming yourself won't do anyone any good. We must prepare our descent to the Underworld. Gather everyone. Do everything as planned."
Clarisse swore under her breath but didn't dare to argue. She demanded a group to keep keen guard of Trisha which Chiron obliged, knowing full well that such a huge group of demigods in one place could mean great danger from monster attacks. Soon, the giant eagles and pegasi soared away toward a more comfortable place until we summon them again. Arion left eagerly but not before getting another meal of gold. We readied ourselves and trudged inside the studios, passed the shattered glass toward the Underworld.
~Christine Galliardo's POV~
The undead surged forward under Nico's command, taking Tartarus' attention away from Hades. Nico rushed to his father's aid. I charged forward, scoring a deep wound to protogenoi which healed quickly as it appeared. He roared and grabbed an undead by one hand. He threw it to its kind like a bowling ball. He reached out one hand and a force pushed me back. I dug my feet on the ground, arms in front of my face.
"Submit to me, the First, and the world will be renewed and bow down once again to your glory!"
Dust and small rocks swirled past me. Trees bent down against the impact, branches breaking and flying away. A sharp stone scraped my forearm.
"It is an easy choice, Christine! Everything what your heart desires will be yours! Revenge will finally feed that longing hatred in you!"
The sounds and feelings from the vision pulsed in my veins, making me hesitate. I lose my balance and struck my back against a tree. Pain seared in my spine. I sank to my knees, heaving in pain. The wind-like force died down. Tartarus loomed before me.
"We will destroy the gods! We will renew the world! A world where everyone trembles in fear before us! It is your destiny!"
The hit made my mind blurry but the horror of the vision continue to pulsed in me, trying to consume me. Is that really my destiny? To destroy the gods' legacy? To create a world of fear? A voice, the same voice as before, chuckled in my mind from the distant humming in my head.
"Oh? You're giving up now? The First I know don't give up easily. Do you really think that's your destiny? Will you let that no-face mold your path? Or will you be the one to mold it?"
"Who are you?" I asked in my mind.
"Gee. You're troublesome, you know. Reckless even. That's why the goddess of delusion came for you. Thousands of years and you haven't changed a bit. Come on! Get up! Don't just kneel there like some idiot! Tartarus almost got your head."
I imagined it smirking like crazy. "That's what we are for, since the beginning of time..." The voice faded away and I was knocked back to reality. It was only that I realized I was already back on my feet. My backpack was nowhere to be found and my sword was thrown away a few meters away from me, but I didn't bother to retrieve it. I just looked at Tartarus, tasting the metallic taste of blood from a cut at the side of my lip. I'm wounded, bruised, and exhausted. My clothes were only dirty and ripped. My hair was messy and loose. My patience had reached it limit.
This person in front of me...this so-called protogenos of the pit...he had ordered to kidnap Trisha and locked her up in a cage together with the inhabitants of the Underworld. He tricked others with false promises to make others follow him. He endangered my friends and tried to mess up with my head. This guy...HE HAVE TO GO!
Power surged around me. Tartarus was knocked back. Wind swirled around me, forming a wall between me and Tartarus. It ripped through the trees, scattered the earth, destroying everything that touches it. I was barely aware of lightning sparks crawling through my skin. Out of the corner of my eye, Nico was staring at me in shock. Words tried to form from his lips but failed. Tartarus tried to get pass the wall but it only shredded his skin. He stepped back. I charged forward.
Do you know the feeling that between you and your enemy, you're the only who can kick the other's butt? And you're fighting like a martial artist when you never learned to be one and you're equipped with shocking electricity? That's what was happening. Tartarus roared and charged at me. I kicked him in the chest. The impact was supposed to sent me flying back to the ground but instead, I remained in the air, flying above him. I pushed him back with a strong gust of wind. He countered it with the same wind-like force he used earlier. With one hand outstretched to my side, I summoned the sword back into my hand. Electricity crackled, fusing with the metal. I surged forward, slicing my sword to his arms as he tried to block it. I touched his skin, willed the electricity to transfer to my enemy. He jumped back and growled at me.
"WRETCHED MORTAL! YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT POWER YOU HOLD! IF YOU REFUSE TO JOIN ME, THEN I WILL MAKE SURE THE GODS WILL NEVER HAVE YOU BY THEIR SIDE!"
The ground below me shook. Deep and wide fissures began to snake their way from the hole throughout the Underworld. A wall of the palace collapsed, destroying the Persephone's garden. Trees fell. Nico and the others scrambled for balance. A chunk of rock levitated and threw itself to me. I willed the wind to threw it back. Tartarus appeared before me, one hand outstretched for the kill. I pushed myself away from him. A shout of panic. I turned and saw Nico clinging to the edge of a wide fissure.
"NICO!" I screamed.
Tartarus took this as an opening and grabbed me by my neck. I clawed at him. The wind around me started to die down. I gasped for air.
"DIE FOOLISH MORTAL! DIE WITH THE GODS YOU CONSIDER YOUR ALLIES!" His grip tightened.
With difficulty, I grabbed his arm. Using the last fading bit of my strength, I let electricity ran through my fingertips to his skin. He jerked away and lose grip of me. I began to fall from the sky. Black dots blotted my vision. I blinked hard and realized I was going to fall toward the hole. I tried to summon wind but failed. The power surging in my veins had faded. I threw one arm and grabbed the edge of the hole. My arm screamed in pain. My sword spiraled down to the chasm. I tightened my grip. Fragments of earth crumbled under my fingertips. I struggled to keep my grip. Somewhere above me, a voice called out. A hand reached out and gripped my hand. A face loomed above me.
"Christine!" He struggled to pull me up but something seemed to weigh me down. I realized that Tartarus was no longer present in the vicinity. I looked down. I could feel something pulling me down.
"Nico! Let go!" I said.
"No! Not again! Not like the last time! I won't!"
"We have no choice! You have to let go! Tartarus wants me! He wants me dead! I won't let you get killed because of me!"
"So am I!"
"NO!" He protested.
I looked down. A wispy purple hand had materialized around my ankle, pulling me down.
"Nico! You promised, right? Do it! If I could delay Tartarus even for a few seconds, you and the others could escape!"
"What will happen to you?! You will die!"
I smiled sadly. "At least, it won't be in vain, wouldn't it? You guys will get Tartarus for me, right?"
Nico shook his head in frustration."No no no! You can't! The others they will be-"
I blinked, forcing away the incoming tears. "I know but..." I looked up to him. "You will take care of them in my place. You promised. Especially my two stupid best friends."
"DO IT NICO! FOR THE WHOLE WORLD'S SAKE!" I insisted.
He bit his lip. He tightened his grip for a last farewell and let go. The ground crumbled under my hand and the purple wisps encased around me as I fell. I gazed at the fading light above.
The three grandmas...
My friends at camp...
I guess this is where I will end...
I fell down toward Death's doorstep, who has been waiting for my arrival.
Chapter 31: Epilogue
This will be the final chapter for the first book. Thank you for your support! Please be free to leave reviews. Don't forget to check out and follow/fave my other stories too.
~3rd person POV~
The sky was dark, lightning arching above. A cold wind passed by, chilling the demigods huddled on the stone seats of the amphitheater. Drizzling rain watered the flames from a burning funeral shroud. The shroud of the one and only know mortal daughter of Hera. Before it stood the pale figure of the son of Hades, carrying out the burial rites for the honored dead. A shriek of grief escaped a new arrival. An Ares girl held her tight, keeping her from collapsing in hysteria. All demigods bowed their heads in respect and silence, watching the dancing flames and smoke from the shroud. The ceremony ended and rain poured more heavily before. Demigods ran toward their cabins for shelter. They knew, that the bad weather wasn't grieving with them. It was a sign of anger for betrayal or perhaps joy from the king above. A complete opposite of the mood of the funeral.
Thunder and lightning rolled by, so loud and so powerful, it made their teeth chatter and their voices scream. The son of Hades looked out from the cabin's door, watching the others scrambled toward their cabins. A hand touched his shoulder and he closed the door. He sat down beside his Roman half-sister.
"Are you feeling fine, Hazel?" He asked worriedly.
Hazel didn't answer, just looked down her palms. "She died a heroic death. Did it to save her best friend. Did it for all of us." She said quietly.
"Yeah." Nico said. He stared at the bed opposite. He remember what she had first asked her. Tell them that I'm dead. He tried to argue but the daughter of Hera had insisted. She must have known that it will be her last.
"The fall on the hands of a dove's sake...she died to save her friend, an Aphrodite kid."
Hazel placed her face on her hands and sobbed.
Nico pulled her close into a hug. He was not an affectionate type but her sister needed it more than he do. "Don't worry. Her death won't be in vain. We will grant her last wish. We will defeat Tartarus no matter what. We will avenge her."