Family Feud: The Beginning Of The End Of The Earth

Ava Griffin is a demigod. Basically, she is half-human,and half-greek god. She is a permanent camper at Camp Half Blood, a camp where all demigods train for the hard-and normally short-life of a demigod. When Connor Alati arrives, Ava befriends him. Connor quickly learns that Ava has many layers, some that even the campers are afraid of. When Connor recieves a prophecy that has been forbidden for years, Ava and Connor are set off on a quest to save the world. And they are not guaranteed survival. With the ghastly past, horrifying present, and impossible future, Ava and Connor discover that the world is falling apart, and the gods are to blame.

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7. Eight Lines That Basically Say We're Gonna Die

     Okay, so being a son of Poseidon did have its perks. I mean, making my own orb of swirling water that I could actually breathe in was awesome! What about having a sword that I could battle with like a gladiator? Or reading the minds of sea creatures and pegasus? Jealous, huh? Not to mention all of these things made me like the most powerful kid in camp. But you know what?

     I didn't care.

     Not even a tiny bit. Why? Because I was so mad. At Poseidon, myself, and even Ava. Poseidon is obvious, since for one he abandoned me, and secondly he let my mother die. I was mad at myself for not being able to do anything about my mother. I can't find anything about her. Hermes cabin helped me in trying to track her down, but I didn't know her name, and Social Services didn't have record of a parent bringing me in. There's no real fair reason for me to be angry with Ava, but I was. A week ago she got all buddy-buddy with Rose Sapias, another daughter of Athena. To be honest, I was a little suspicious. Rose literally came from nowhere. Of course I had seen her around camp, but she had had another group of friends. Ava told me that Rose kind of abandoned her after the first "incident" she had, but said she was sorry and wanted to be friends again. I didn't believe one word of it. And no, I wasn't jealous. Okay, maybe a little.

     The sun was rising ever so slightly over the horizon, lighting up the cabin. I was laying on my top bunk bed, staring up at the ceiling, not sleeping. The dreams were too unsettling. I don't think whoever furnished this place expected many people to live in here. There was only one bedside table amongst the two bunks, a couple of chairs in the central room, and barely any supplies. All in all, I felt like a hobo here. Other than Ava, there was no one I really considered a friend, and I have to admit, after almost a month I would have liked to become friends with one guy. 

     I glanced at my watch, the time was 7:30. I sighed. Man, my life had changed so much. One day I was just that kid from the foster home who wore the same clothes almost everyday, then the runaway refugee, now son of an actual god. Obviously I was not good at being a normal 15 year old. 

     Bored out of my mind, I decided to just daydream until 8 o'clock finally rolled around the corner. When it did, I got up, got dressed, and walked outside. Not many campers were around, the ones who were rubbed sleep from their eyes in various states of awareness. At the dining pavilion I grabbed a plate, a bagel, and sat down at the usual spot. I watched absentmindedly as other campers grabbed their food, made their offering, then sat in their spots. It was probably bad to not toss food in the golden braziers, but I wasn't in the giving mood.

     Not too much later, Ava came in view. Her long dark hair was slightly damp as it swished back in forth. Like me, she ignored the braziers, instead coming to straight to our table. I smiled, glad she was alone.

     "Hey water boy," Ava smiled brightly as she took her place in front of me, using our newly established nicknames. Ever since the arena, everyone had adapted the titles.

     "Hey, lava girl. Where's Rose?"

     "Still in the showers. You're here early."

     "Yeah." I agreed, munching on my bagel.

     Ava gave me a worried look. "Are you having those dreams again?" How did she do that? How did she know exactly what was bugging me? Oh, right, daughter of Athena. I could tell her. But I didn't.

     "No, I just got up a little earlier today."

     Not convinced one bit, she replied, "Oh, I see."

     "What about you? Any nightmares?"

     Ava bit her lip nervously. "No, I haven't had any in a while."

     I raised an eyebrow at her. "Why is that bad?"

     "I just don't like waiting for the next one."

     "Oh." We both fell into an awkward silence, eating our breakfasts quietly. Why did things have to get so serious? Why couldn't things just be relaxed and not life-or-death?

     I shouldn't have taken that time for granted.

     "Hey." Rose chirped behind Ava, setting down her plate and taking a seat next to her. Ava smiled-which I didn't copy-giving Rose an equally happy "hey". Rose looked at me, smiled briefly, then turned back to Ava.

     "Guess who I ran into near the bathrooms?"

     "Who?"

     "I ran into...," Rose paused for dramatic effect, "Noah."

     Ava shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "Yeah, so?"

     "He asked, and I quote, 'How is Ava doing?' "

     "He did?!"

     Rose nodded, smirking. "He did."

     "Well, what did you say?"

     "She's fine."

     "Just fine?"

     "Yep." Ava looked startled at this newest piece of news. 

     "Why do you think he asked that?"

     "Maybe old feelings are resurfacing..." Rose grinned widely at Ava, her grey eyes flashing.

     Ava snorted. "I'm sure that's the case."

     "Can you guys fill me in?" I finally interjected. Who was Noah? And why did Rose seem smug, and Ava shocked?

     Rose looked at me warily, then back at Ava. "You should probably tell him."

     Ava sighed, biting her lip. "It's nothing, really. Noah kinda had a crush on me before the first incident. It's just a little unsettling to hear that he's asking about me." 

     "And he's cute." Rose smirked.

     "Rose!"

     "You think so too!" I tuned out of their argument. I chewed on that. A guy liked Ava? Well, it wasn't impossible. Actually, it was very possible, lava girl or not. Ava's face was now slightly pink do to Rose's teasing. My hands clenched underneath the table.

     "...do not!"

     "Well you're curious!"

     "Puh-lease!"

     "Ahem," I cleared my throat. "You guys done yet?" Ava nodded gratefully while Rose shook her head, shaking her blonde hair.

     "Yes, we are," Ava glared pointedly at Rose. Rose held up her hands in surrender, still smiling smugly. After that we ate for a good five minutes in silence. Ava still had a tint of blush on her cheeks. Rose still seemed amused. I, on the other hand, was neither embarrassed or smug, I was irritated. Every day new questions kept coming into my mind. There was so much I was kept in the dark about I thought I was going to explode. Yes, I know, some guy asking about Ava wasn't really that big of a deal, but it just made me more curious. And I was sick of not knowing things around here. Like who Rose really was, for example. So, I decided to get some answers.

     "So," I began, interrupting the silence, "Rose, what's your story."

     Rose looked up from her food with an eyebrow raised. "What?" 

     "Well, I've known you for a week and I don't really know anything about you."

     Rose and Ava shared a look of curiosity. "Well, I lived in southern Minnesota for all of my life with my dad, three adopted brothers, and three sisters, one of which was adopted too." I widened my eyes at that. "Ya, it was crowded. Three years ago, when I was 13, a monster tried to attack me at school. Long story short, I have been here ever since. This is my third year." I nodded at Rose's story. She got a fairly decent life, a large family and home. Man, I was jealous.

    "Do you miss them?"

    Rose looked down. "Well, duh!" Ava looked at me with a hint of a smile on her face. She knew Rose and I hadn't exactly "befriended" each other. It was progress. "So, what about your story?" Rose copied, looking back up.

    I relayed the not-so-movie-worthy background history that was my life. Rose looked a tad sorry, but didn't let her pity shine through her voice.

    "You're not that different than Ava, then."

    I smiled at Ava. "Guess not." 

    Just then, the horn signaling the end of breakfast sounded. "Well," Ava said, getting up, "we better get going, Connor. See ya later, Rose."

    "Bye."

    I waved to Rose before getting up and joining Ava as she walked towards Long Island Sound. Ava looked at me with a serious face. "What do you think of Rose? Honestly." I looked at her deep grey eyes for a second.

    "She seems...cool." Ava punched me in the arm, urging me to continue. "I think it's a little weird she just showed up, but I guess we need someone to keep us sane."

    Ava laughed. "You got that right."

    "So...," I drug out the "o". "What do you think of Noah?"

    Next to me, Ava shifted and bit her lip. "What do you mean?"

    "You know exactly what I mean."

    Ava rolled her eyes at me. "I'll admit, Noah is...cute. But I don't like him and I'm positive he doesn't like me."

    "Okay." I replied, stretching out the "a".

    "Are you jealous?" Ava smirked.

    "In your dreams, lava girl." I grinned at Ava, who returned the favor.

    On the beach, Chiron waved to us happily as we came in sight. When we were face to face, Chiron smiled warmly. A laugh threatened to escape my lips from looking up closely at Chiron. Thanks to Ava, his beard was singed off, leaving a raggedy patch of hair underneath his chin. In the corner of my eye, I saw Ava barely contain giggles. Chiron was oblivious, smiling at us in welcome with his arms outstretched. 

     "I'm glad to see you two are in a good mood. So today we'll be doing the same thing. Like I have said a million times, Ava, this half of your training will be much simpler than the other. All you have to do is concentrate and control the flames in your mind."

     "Yes, because it is so easy to detain a raging curse given to you by a goddess," Ava grumbled, rolling her eyes.

     Chiron patted her on the shoulder. "That's the spirit! Now, shall we begin?" Ava nodded, cueing Chiron and I to back up down the beach, about fifty feet away. We watched intently as Ava bit her lip in concentration, then closed her eyes. In a matter of seconds, Ava's left hand was camouflaged in tame orange flames. Ava opened her eyes, staring at them intently for some time. 

     "Alright, Ava!" I whooped.

     "Connor, no!" Chiron warned.

     She looked up at me and grinned, losing eye contact with her hand. Like she had been poured in kerosene, Ava ignited everywhere, completely out of control. I heard her shriek in panic, flailing her arms.

     "Connor, now!" I obeyed Chiron's command, stretching my right hand out to the ocean by my side. I felt the familiar tug in my gut as I encircled myself in water. I inhaled deeply. I'm not quite sure how I could do that, but it was pretty awesome, huh? My legs kicked up sand as I ran full speed towards Ava, who was still screaming. I crashed into her flaming self, grabbing on to her waist, causing steam to rise all around us. My eyes wide open, I watched as Ava went back to normal, the flames completely gone, then back to panicking the second she couldn't breathe. I let the water go when I was sure they had left for good, leaving me still holding the now sopping Ava. She coughed, spitting out water.

     "You okay?"

     Ava looked up at me with her grey eyes. "Yeah, thanks."

     I sighed. "I'm an idiot. It's all my fault. I broke your concentration."

     "Don't worry about it." I kept looking at her with guilt, and her eyes looked at mine with amusement. "Can you, uh, let me go now?"

     I jerked my arms back, rubbing the back of my neck anxiously. "Sorry bout that." 

     Chiron joined us, looking not quite as amused. "It's possible for you to control without any interjections, but you must find a way to keep your concentration no matter the amount of distractions. Try it again." I backed up again with Chiron, following the ritual that had become pretty much my morning schedule for the past few weeks. Back up, watch, run, drown. Everyday. 

     Ava closed her eyes again, ignited her left hand, then just stared at it, never letting her eyes leave.

     "Connor, start yelling."

     I looked at Chiron like he was mad. "What?"

     "Start yelling. Ava has to learn how to tune out distractions."

     "Oh, so now I'm a distraction?"

     "Yes."

     "Fine. Here goes nothing." I took a deep breath, then began yelling. "Hey Ava! Over here! Hey Ava! Hey! Look over here! Oh, Ava!" The last bit I sang, kind of like an opera singer. Ava looked at me with utter confusion, which in turn broke her concentration again. She jumped as flames began to race up her arm. Somehow, Ava managed to stop their ascent at her elbow.

     She laughed. "Guys, look! I did it!" Ava jumped up and down in excitement, waving her fiery arm in the air.

     "Now, Ava!" Chiron called. "Try to maneuver the fire to just the tip of your pointer finger!"

     "Okay!" Ava bit her lip and glared at her finger for a few seconds. The fire dissipated until it rested on the tip of her finger, glowing white hot. Ava looked up and grinned. "Now what?"

     "Now, release it!" Ava did as she was told, and the small flame disappeared in a puff of smoke. "Good! Now, Connor and I are going to throw things at you, and you're going to ignite your hand and blast it to bits. Make sense?"

     "Uh, I don't know if I can do it that fast-"

     "Sure you can!" Chiron turned to me. Connor, can you go get a few of those logs of wood in that pile?" Chiron pointed behind me, where ten feet away a pile of chopped wood sat. I headed over, grabbed an armful, walked back to Chiron, and dumped them at our feet. "Thank you." Chiron bent down to pick one up, gesturing for me to do the same. When our arms were full, Chiron called back to Ava. "Okay! Here we go!"

     Chiron launched his with immense strength, closing the distance between him and Ava. Ava's eyes widened as she hopelessly tried to summon fire to her hand. The chunk of wood nearly took off her head as she ducked to avoid decapitation.

     "You have to be quicker than that!"

     "I'm trying!" Chiron gestured for me to throw mine. With all my strength, I threw the wood as far as I could, ensuing a grunt. Twenty feet away, it landed in the sand with a dull thud, yards away from its target. Ava fell over laughing. Even Chiron couldn't suppress a small chuckle form escaping his mouth.

     "Thanks, you guys."

     Chiron gave me a sympathetic pat on my shoulder. "I'll throw." I watched in silent anger as Chiron picked up log after log, tossing them in Ava's direction. Many times Ava had to dodge, narrowly missing the objects aimed right for her. The pile of wood diminished, along with the time it took for Ava ignite her hand. With just a few last throws, Ava had been able to char the wood right before it hit her.

     "Great job, Ava! I bet by tomorrow you'll be able to do it instantaneously!"

     Ava walked toward us, breathing heavily and sweating. "You think so?"

     "I'm positive." 

     Ava gave Chiron an irritated look. "You never really hit the whole "prophecy thing" on the head, you know."

     "Have a little faith, Ava Griffin! I have great faith in you two."

     I cleared my throat. "You two? What do I have to do with this?"

     Chiron and Ava shared a look. "Much more than you know." Chiron's expression changed back to cheery. "Well, you better get to your next class. See you tomorrow!"

     Chiron and Ava shared one last look before we took off up the beach. The sand made swishing sounds as our feet moved along. Ava said nothing and I didn't either, though she still looked quite amused at my lack of strength. What was so special about me?

     I relayed my thoughts to Ava. "What's so special about me?"

     Ava turned her head to look at me, mouth turned into a smile. "More than you know."

     I raised my eyebrow at her. "Ava Something Griffin, do you have a crush on the dashing Connor Matthew Alati?"

     Ava laughed. "Esmeralda."

     "What?"

     "Esmeralda, it's my middle name."

     "So your full name is-"

     "Ava Esmeralda Alati-uh Griffin. I meant Griffin!" I laughed as Ava blushed a hot pink.

     "Sure ya did. There's no use in hiding it."

     Ava's face was holding back a grin, red all the while. "Hiding what, exactly?"

     "Your uncontrollable love for me."

     "In your dreams, water boy," Ava laughed, punching my arm. We walked to Ava's cabin, the owl above the door staring holes through me. Ava walked ahead of me, then turned around. "I'm gonna take a shower, I'll see ya at lunch."

     "See ya." I turned and walked to my next class: battle training.

     I wondered what was so special about being the son of Poseidon.

 

________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

     The moon guided me like a flashlight as I walked back to my cabin. Roasting marshmallows and singing songs about demigods who died in some horrible way sure made a guy tired. People around me were turning in themselves, others coming to and from the bathrooms. A few people saw me and waved, which I returned. I had noticed that since the incident in the arena with Ava, campers have grown accustomed to me more. I didn't really have any new people to hang out with, but many people stopped and said hi or just waved. Life really was getting easier.

     The old, wooden door creaked noisily as I walked in my cabin. Floorboards made a cacophony of noises similar to that of the door as I trekked across them. I plopped down on my stiff, unused bed with a sigh. I kicked off my shoes, laid my hands behind my head, and just daydreamed. 

     I thought about a bunch of random things. One particular thought kept recurring in my mind, though. It was the thought that  something bad was about to happen. You know that feeling you get in your gut when you know something bad is going to happen? That's how I felt, but I had no reason for feeling that. Everything was going really well. I finally had friends worth caring about, Ava was probably going to master her curse tomorrow, I was the son of a flipping god, how much more could I ask for? I was so lucky to be chosen as Poseidon's son, even if I hated him with every fiber of my being.

     I soon found out that being a son of the sea god was not all it was cracked up to be.

     Sleep came quickly after that, and the last thing I saw in my mind was a flash of dark hair and grey eyes.

     Don't you hate it when you have a dream that you can't remember in the morning? Or sometimes even a nightmare? Well, this particular nightmare I wish I could forget.

     Ask Hypnos, I tried.

     My mind was plagued by visions of all sorts of things that didn't make sense. At least, at the time. I saw a solid gold castle sitting on a cloud, intimidating above a city of many lights and noises. Next, I saw a silver bow that actually spoke to me. Wanna know what it said? Save me. I saw a grave, marked with the name of someone I didn't know. The weirdest thing was when I saw three women, old and haggard obsessing over some string. One of them pulled the slightly glowing string, another was knitting it, and the last cut it with a pair of scissors. They laughed malevolently, as if they knew something the string didn't. It flashed by quickly, then the worst part came. I saw a woman standing before me, her warm brown eyes and tan skin framed by chocolatey hair. I knew instantly she was my mother. Around us was a park, with green grass and trees but no people. A fountain made a sprinkling sound in the distance. I turned my head back to my mother.

     "Connor." She smiled.

     "Mom?" I was frozen in place, too surprised to move. My mother nodded.

     "Oh, Connor I wish I could be there with you. I'm so sorry, but it was my time." She looked so sad, so...deflated. Like the physical picture of how I felt. "I wish I could have watched you grow up, ride a bike, your first day of kindergarten..." She choked on her words, tears now running freely down her face. They did on mine too. I'm blaming this on my dream self, okay? So if you want to call me a wimp, take it up with my subconscious.

     "What happened, Mom? Why did you have to die?"

     "I cannot tell you, it is not yet the proper time. But you cannot blame your father, Connor. It was not his will."

     "What do you mean it's not the proper time? And what wasn't Poseidon's will?"

     Farah Alati looked at me with eyes I wished were alive. Instead, they flickered, like a projection. I realized with a start that my mother was exactly that: a projection. She sighed. "I'm running out of energy. It will be a while before I can speak to you again, Connor, but there is something I need to tell-"

     "Wait, what do you mean you're running out of energy? Why can't you stay?"

     She walked up to me, and I stiffened. My mom reached her hand out to me and stroked my cheek. Or, tried to, anyways. Where her hand should have been, were a million pixels that had no touch. Her hand passed through me like a ghost. I took a step back, aghast. She sighed and looked down. "Connor, I know it's hard. But I'm here to tell you something you must know. Very soon, you're going to try to free me. But you can't." I gasped at her.

     "Why not? How do you know?"

     "Just listen, Connor. At the time, you will have other priorities. You cannot put me before the quest." She flickered again.

     "What quest?"

     She laughed. "So many questions, just like your father." I cringed at that. "Don't blame your father for my death. It's imperative that you put your head before your heart. Connor Matthew Alati, you must complete the quest or it will be the downfall of all of creation."

     "No pressure, right?" My mom patted me on the cheek, but I didn't feel a thing. She flickered again for almost a whole second.

     "I'm running out of time." She flickered again; her feet were completely gone now. "When you see your father tell him I...that I..." She flickered again; her arms were gone.

     "Mom, don't go!"

     "Connor, just know that..." She flickered again, so that all that was left were her eyes, floating in the air amidst the trees and grass. Her eyes gave me one last pleading look before they, too, disappeared. I kneeled on the spot, and cried. Then everything was black.

     I awoke with a start, sweat and tears covering my face. My chest rose and fell rapidly, somehow not getting enough air. What the heck was that dream about? Deep in my gut I knew that I hadn't just had a random dream, I knew it had to mean something. But what?

     I remembered a conversation I had had a while ago with Ava. She told me that many times she had woken Chiron up to talk about her dreams, though she never told me exactly what happened in them. I decided that's what I would do. I would go see Chiron. He would know what they meant, right? He could definitely figure it out.

     The solution wouldn't exactly have been my first choice.

     My legs and bare feet were unsteady as they carried me to the Big House. Not another soul went by, the only noises coming from me and crickets. The moon glowed brightly in my wake, casting an eerie glow across the camp. In the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a little girl tending to a fire, but that must have been my imagination.

     The Big House was well, big. More a mansion then a house, it rose high in the sky, it's blue walls adorned with lots of windows. You know how at like every spooky mansion, there's one window in the attic where someone or something always stares at you? The Big House had it. Except for the person staring out the window bit. Instead, there was a green light that came from some unseen thing up there; I hoped I would never meet that light.

     Connor sure likes to jinx himself, doesn't he?

     I opened the squeaky screen door, then walked on the squeaky floorboards all the way to the door that had Chiron's name on it. I knocked lightly. On the other side I heard a grunt, a mechanical noise, and wheels rolling up to the door. I took a step back as it opened, revealing Chiron in his human disguise. He sat on his wheelchair, a blanket covering the fake legs. Chiron looked weary and stiff, which is to be expected since I woke him up in the middle of the night.

     "Can I help you, Connor?" Chiron asked, rubbing his eyes.

     "Yeah, sorry about waking you up. Ava told me that she would talk to you about her nightmares, so I thought I could come to you about mine..." I looked at Chiron anxiously.

     "Why don't we go sit on the porch, and you can tell me about these nightmares." I followed the old centaur's lead outside. I sat on a brown deck chair, and looked out at the strawberry fields. I felt Chiron's eyes on me for awhile, but I didn't know where to begin. He was probably going to think I was crazy, or worse, just pass it off as an out-of-the-ordinary dream. Finally, Chiron sighed. "Well, are you going to tell me, boy?"

     I shifted to face him in my chair. "You're going to think I'm crazy..."

     "Connor, after millenia of training heroes and dealing with their problems, I have seen enough crazy to never doubt anything again. Now, tell me what you saw."

     "Okay," I took a deep breath, then I told him everything. From the gold castle, to the silver bow that wanted me to save it, to the grave, to the three women, even the part with my mom. I didn't understand a single thing I saw or heard, but Chiron tensed as if it meant the apocalypse.

     Chiron mumbled under his breath, but enough for me to hear. "What could they have to do with it? Unless they...no. That couldn't be. That's supposed to happen after I'm long gone. It's too early. But, Connor. Yes, it is time. I must wake Ava."

     "Uh, Chiron? What are you talking about?"

     Chiron looked at me. It felt as if he was looking through me, and didn't like what he saw. "It is time."

     I gave him a wary look. "Time for what? Sleep?"

     "I need to wake Ava. I'm so sorry, Connor, but it's time."

     "Time for what? Why does everyone keep talking about time?"

     Chiron ignored me as he wheeled himself off the porch, not accepting my help, by the way. When he was firmly planted on the mowed grass, I watched him transform. He threw off the blanket as his legs and wheelchair shrunk and shrunk until it was just a metal box that could fit in your palm. While the wheelchair got smaller, simultaneously Chiron got bigger. His horse legs rose from the impossible space inside the box, until centaur Chiron was completely free. I couldn't help but think his orange Camp Half-Blood shirt didn't quite match his warrior body. His tail twitched nervously.

     "Alrighty, then! Connor, go back inside and take the stairs all the way to the attic. You have a meeting with the Oracle."

     I swallowed hard. "You mean, where the green light is coming from? The creepy green light? The very creepy green light that normally in horror movies someone always dies when they go into that green light? That green light?"

     "That's the one! I'll be back before you're done, I should think. Good luck!" Chiron galloped away and out of sight. I sighed, turned around, and walked back inside. I didn't very well have a choice, did I? There was a staircase at the end of the hallway, which I assumed was my ticket upstairs. As I walked upwards to the attic, I wondered what exactly I would find. The Oracle in Greek mythology was this lady that spouted prophecies. That couldn't have been what Chiron was talking about, right?

     When I got to the top, there was nothing. I looked everywhere, but no doors in sight. Then I thought: attic. I looked straight up, and sure enough, a small trap door was set in the ceiling. There was a string hanging down, for a ladder, I assumed. I pulled, releasing a dusty ladder with not-so-stable-looking steps. Green light streamed down from above, making my body look like a much smaller version of The Hulk. 

     "Alright, Connor," I muttered under my breath. "You can do this. Just climb." I obeyed myself, climbing cautiously towards who knows what. I peeked my head up through the opening. What I saw made me want to jump back down, leave camp, take a bus to Canada, live as a hobo, and never speak again. Swallowing, I climbed all the way up despite my fear, so I could make sure I wasn't going crazy.

     In front of me, sitting on a three-legged stool, was my foster mother Margaret. Or, so I thought. A depressingly weathered woman who must've been in her fifties with vibrant red hair looked at me with bare eye sockets. I'm serious, there were no eyes, just dark holes. Around us was the green haze that coated everything, covering the floor littered with old rusting armor and other junk. The woman was dressed in a pair of jeans that were tattered and scribbled over in marker, and an orange Camp Half-Blood shirt. I approached her cautiously.

     "Umm, ma'am? Are you the Oracle?" No answer. What did I expect? That she would answer? She looked dead. I sighed. "Wrong creepy attic, I guess." I headed back over to the trap door. Truthfully, I was in no hurry to stay there. I almost reached the first step when the Oracle spoke.

     "State your name." I jumped, startled, and got back up. I walked up closer to the lady. There was no one else here, that must've been her.

     I leaned in close, scrutinizing her. "Uh, Connor?"

     "State your full name." She answered in a raspy, serpent-like voice. I jumped back. If I didn't know better I would have said she sounded annoyed.

     "Connor Matthew Alati." As if I pulled the pin out of a grenade, the lady shook, her arms flailing about. Green fog poured out of her mouth, turning into a serpent. I fell down in surprise, then scrambled backwards in panic while the green snake slithered closer to me. I crashed through shields and helmets until my back was against a wall, with nowhere to move. The snake bared its fangs at me, hissing. I was in a frozen panic, sure I was about to be killed by smoke. I could see it now: Connor Matthew Alati, 15, death to a snake made out of mist. My eyes shifted back to the redhead, who was now sitting still once more. The snake in front of me hissed again, bringing my attention back to it. It was transparent, thin enough to see through but still intimidating when it was three inches from biting your face off. "Uh, can I help you?"

     The snake hissed again, then with a voice older than even Poseidon's, it delivered my death certificate.

     Only two may answer this call,

     To battle with water and fire tall.

     The God this test to you he doth give,

     You decide whether you die or live.

     Find the gate amongst the stars,

     To discover who you truly are.

     For if you don't, the rest is none.

     Your quest begins at the sun.

     I stared at the snake for a minute. "What does that mean? What gate? What quest?" The serpent ignored me; the green mist sucked back into the Oracle's mouth like a vacuum. "What did that mean?" The Oracle fell back to its lifeless form, not another sound or movement came from it. 

     Standing up, I glared at the Oracle. Did that really just happen? I walked around the Oracle, poking it gingerly to see if it would come back to life. I must have been hallucinating, this green light must be messing with my head. There was no way a snake could come form this redhead's mouth and actually talk to me, that was just ridiculous. But I knew it had happened. Convincing Chiron and Ava that was another matter entirely. That made me remember: Chiron was going to get Ava. They're probably waiting for me.

     I walked back to the hole in the floor with the ladder. I gave one last look at the Oracle, then climbed down. 

     Somehow I knew I would be up there again.

     My legs felt like jello the entire walk downstairs. There was no way Chiron and Ava would believe me. I hardly believed it myself. I mean, really, how crazy was that? A dead ginger had a foggy green serpent spring out of her mouth and deliver me a riddle about some gate and water. Oh, and fire. Wait.

     I ran down the last of the steps as fast as possible, nearly tripping over myself. "Chiron? Ava?" I called out. When I was back on the first floor, I dashed around, looking everywhere for Chiron and Ava. "Where are they?" I muttered. 

     Breathless, I crashed through the screen door and onto the porch. There sat Ava and Chiron, sitting uncomfortably with grim expressions. Ava was pale as she bit her lip and played with her hands. Her hair was pulled up into a messy bun. Chiron looked equally anxious as he sat in his wheelchair.

     "What's going on?" I asked.

     Chiron gestured to a chair next to Ava. "You're going to want to sit for this." I obeyed him, looking worriedly at Ava. Chiron leaned forward in his wheelchair, looking intently between Ava and I. He pursed his lips, then sighed. "You may have noticed Ava and I talking about a prophecy-"

     "Whoa! Stop there, Chiron." I held my hands up. "I haven't just 'noticed' it! You guys talk about whatever it is right in front of me like I'm not even there!" Ava put a hand on my arm.

     "Connor, please. This is serious." I looked at Ava's tired face. She was tired alright, but her eyes looked so worn down I couldn't help but be a bit afraid of what all this was about.

     "Fine," I relented, looking back at Chiron. "Go on."

     Chiron rolled his eyes. "Thank you. Now, I imagine you had an interesting encounter with Miss Rachel Dare-uh, our Oracle, yes?" I nodded. "Would you recite what she said?"

     "Well, her snake tongue had quite the temper. It said something to the effect of:

     Only two may answer this call,

     To battle with water and fire tall.

     The God this test to you he doth give,

     You decide whether you die or live.

     Find the gate amongst the stars,

     To discover who you truly are.

     For if you don't, the rest is none.

     Your quest begins at the sun.

     I hadn't realized until I had finished that my voice sounded strange, older and almost layered. Like three people speaking at once. "Does that make any sense?" I asked, looking at Chiron and Ava. They both looked defeated.

     "That is our most recent Great Prophecy." Chiron explained. "For twenty years no one knew who this prophecy referred to. Until Ava showed up. The prophecy says that two will go on this quest. One with fire," He gestured to Ava," and one with-"

     "Water." I finished for him. That had convinced my suspicions that had caused me to make a mad dash down the stairs. It made sense, this prophecy was talking to Ava and I. But why?

     "Correct. When we discovered Ava's powers a few months ago, I sent her to the Oracle to see if she was the one."

     "And I was." Ava told me. "And you, Connor, are the other."

     "I got that bit."

     Ava gave me an annoyed look. "Anyways, Chiron told me about your dream. I'm not quite sure how, but I know it has something to do with our quest. Something is happening to the gods, Connor, and we don't know what. They are almost constantly fighting amongst themselves now. I mean, they already did that, but now they are influencing nature itself. We are the ones chosen by The Three Sisters to stop them. And apparently it's time. I wish they would've waited for me to finish training, though."

     "Now, Ava, you know that's not how it works," Chiron chastised. "Anyways, Connor, she's right. I believe the gods are having more than the usual family feud. Something greater is happening. And if the gods destroy each other, they will take us with them. It is up to you and Ava to stop whatever this is from escalating to that point. You will leave on the 29th."

     I did a little math in my head. "Wait, what?! That's in two days, Chiron! I'm not ready to go on a quest in two days! We know nothing about it anyways! Not a single line makes sense!" I looked back and forth between Ava and Chiron helplessly. They both looked like they had been waiting in angst for this moment for awhile.

     "Connor," Ava sighed sympathetically. "I know it's soon. But the dreams you had and the prophecy given to you tonight meant that the time for us to go is pretty much now. I wish we could have more time, but time doesn't exactly follow our schedules."

     I snorted. "Got that right." I looked back to Chiron. "So basically, Ava and I are supposed to venture off into the mortal world, find out what the gods are fighting about, and become the peacemakers?"

     "That's about it," Chiron summed up. "I'll give you and Ava two days to devise your strategy, and you will leave first thing the morning of the 29th. You can be excused from your classes and chores so you can focus on your quest." Chiron rubbed his eyes. "You should go back to bed. It's late, and you're going to want all the sleep you can get. Good night." Chiron wheeled himself back into the Big House, leaving a weary Ava and a distraught me behind.

     Ava stood up. "C'mon." She beckoned for me to get up as she walked down the porch steps. I followed suit, walking unsteadily and plain old confused. We had just spent ten minutes talking, but I felt even more confused than before. How could anyone possibly expect two fifteen-year-olds to stop gods from tearing themselves apart? I hadn't been here long enough; I hadn't had enough training. Nero, my sword, was turning out to be pretty cool. But actually fight monsters with it? Forget it. And plus, in the mortal world, monsters will smell powerful demigods like Ava and I in a second. We would never be safe. There was no way we could do this. No way.

     I must have been thinking for awhile, because Ava grabbed my hand. "I know it's scary. But we're demigods, it's what we do."

     "Being a demigod isn't really that amazing then."

     Ava sighed. "It's never amazing, but it's necessary." She continued to hold my hand until we got back to her cabin. The entire camp was in a peaceful slumber, it was hard to believe that so much violence ensued here. I let go of Ava's hand as she walked to the steps that lead to her cabin. "I'll see you at breakfast, we can get started after."

     "Sounds good," I replied sarcastically.

     "Good night, water boy."

     I smiled. "Good night, lava girl." She smiled, then headed inside. My bare feet slid across the dewy grass as I walked towards my cabin. I was just passing the ever-roaring hearth in the middle of the courtyard when someone grabbed my shoulder.

      I spun around, arms flailing at the unseen person. My hands swung harmlessly above a little girls head. I looked shocked at the child. She only reached the bottom of my ribs. The girl was wearing a brown cloak with a rope around her waist. Her hair was hidden in the hood that sat atop her head. But her eyes. Her eyes were ablaze, literally. The way Ava's do when she is being possessed. I knew then who this was.

     "Hestia," I breathed. The girl rolled her eyes, which looked pretty awesome when her eyes were glowing orbs of flame.

     "Yes, you twit. Who else is as intimidating as me?"

     "Uh, your just a kid. Not exactly intimidating."

     "I am too!" She argued, very much like a child would. "I'm just in my child form, it makes me more...unseen."

     "Sure. What do you want?"

     Hestia sighed. "As if you don't know, son of Poseidon."

     I raised my eyebrow at her. "No really, I actually don't know."

     She sighed again, crossing her arms. I had to say, she played the bratty child bit really well. "Imbecile. In two days time, you will be leaving on a quest. You have no idea what you are going to be faced with."

     "Finally, something we can agree on."

     "Anyways, there are things you don't exactly know about my daughter."

     "You mean Ava? She's a daughter of Athena. You don't have kids."

     "Foolish kid!"

     "Um, you're kind of the kid here."

     "Would you just listen, boy! On this quest you will be tried and tested unlike you ever have before. But I need you to look after Ava. She is keeping so much from you, but I fear she will break shortly."

     "What do you mean she's keeping stuff from me? Ava wouldn't lie to me."

     "Connor, Connor, Connor," Hestia tutted. "You know so little. Just, watch after her, okay? She will need you." For a second, I saw a bit of sincere worry for Ava in Hestia's eyes. Yes, I could see it despite the flames.

     "I will."

     Hestia reached up to pat my cheek. "Good boy. Now, I must be off. Do be careful of the sea monsters! They sure like to feast this time of year!" Before I could ask what that meant, Hestia disappeared in a puff of smoke.

     "Dumb gods." I muttered. 

 

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