If you're easily scared, never shadow travel. I can stand rated R horror movies, but shadow travel is a hundred times scarier. Everything is pitch black, and it had to be like 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The cold gripped at my skin, making it tingle, and when you're traveling at around 100 mph, it makes it even more freezing.
At one point, I felt something curl around my ankle. I screamed, but no sound emitted itself from my lips. Luckily, Nico still noticed and I heard the shhllliiink of a sword being drawn, then a thwack and the sound of something fall into the abyss along with a screeeeeeeee that faded into the blackness. I saw light ahead and the next thing I knew I was on top of Nico laying on a large field. Instead of politely getting off of him, I just relaxed and caught my breath. His time wasn't that valuable and it was his fault for bring me into stupid and frightening shadow dimensions. Anyways, it just looked like I'd tackled him, which I seriously felt like doing, but shadow travel sucked all the light and energy out of my body. I just lay there, digging my elbow into his stomach, which was rock hard. This kid must do like bench presses, or something. Eventually, I heard, "Whoa, Nico. Who's that?"
Nico shoved me off of him, which I guess he could have done earlier but chose not to. Maybe he had just regained his strength from shadow travel. Nico brushed off his clothes and turned to who had spoken. "New demi-god. She's powerful."
A teenage boy a few years older than me was on the top of the hill looking at us with suspicious eyes and raised eyebrows. He had elfish features and wavy brown hair. Another boy that looked exactly like him came over the crest of the hill.
"Travis, Connor, what are you two doing up here?" asked Nico.
They grinned at each other malevolently. "Ya know. Stuff." The first one shrugged..
Nico rolled his eyes and said, "You guys better not mess with Peleus. He'll rip you to shreds."
"Peleus?" I asked.
"The dragon." He said, pointing behind me.
"Dragon?" I asked. Nico turned around and I followed his gaze. I almost passed out when I saw the thing. It had shiny metallic plated scales that shimmered different colors in the light. It must have been at least 50 feet long, because it wrapped around the trunk of a pine tree multiple times. The pine tree was huge too: it would take three people with their arms outstretched to hug the tree completely. Though, I have no idea why you would want to. I whimpered and turned back around to see what other surprises were in store. Not much, just a huge blue house, a rock climbing wall that spurted lava, and some other buildings that all were designed with Greek architecture and lots of strawberry fields. It was beautiful. There were also volleyball and basketball courts. The ocean stretched out in the distance. It faced the opposite direction than I was used to. "Where... where are we?"
"Camp Half Blood, Long Island Sound." Said Nico.
"Oh, Okay we just traveled across the country in a few seconds. That makes sense." I said sarcastically, getting to my feet.
"Well, we gotta go. You two have fun,” said the second boy. He winked, and they began to walk away, laughing to themselves.
Nico muttered, "Stoll brothers always up to something." He began to walk down the hill towards the big house. "Come on, Lea, you need to meet Chiron."
Something in my brain clicked. Chiron, I knew that name. I mentally flipped through the numerous pages of the Greek mythology picture books at home. I loved them; they had beautifully done images of each creature, hero, or god and box that described them for example:
Goddess of the hunt and chase, maidenhood, and the moon.
Daughter of Zeus and Leto, twin sister of Apollo.
Description: Able to change forms, but most commonly noted as a young maiden with black, pale brown or auburn hair. Slender, generally barefoot, wearing knee length, silver, pale blue or white tunic.
And so on and so forth. Artemis was by far my favorite Olympian. I wonder if Henry had purposely bought me every one of those books that he could find. They were short, but if they were any longer, my brain wouldn't be able to interpret them. My mind still blanked out on Chiron. He wasn't the ferryman of the dead, that was Charon.
When we got to the front of the house, Nico said, "Wait here I'll go get him." And he walked in letting the screen door slam loudly.
I didn't hear anything from inside, so I sat down on the porch steps. After a few minutes, I heard footsteps and the clop-clop-clop of hooves as if someone kept a pony in the house. When the screen door opened, I thought a seven foot tall man had stepped out, but then I saw the lower half. He was half horse, a centaur. The man smiled down at me through a scruffy brown beard. He had warm but deadly serious eyes. He did look like a man from a story book. "Hello. You must be Lea."
"You're Chiron, the trainer of heroes, the immortal and most civilized centaur. I thought you were dead." I had no idea where all the facts came from and I know great way to greet someone, saying that you thought they died.
"Well, you seem to know your mythology. That will come in handy. And why, might I ask, would you think I was dead?" He asked
"The legends stated that you died from a poison arrow and though you were a great healer you couldn't heal yourself." I said, trying to sound as smart as I could without being rude.
"Well, the legend has evolved from the truth. I am afraid that legend applies to one of my old centaur friends that I tried but failed to heal." He bowed his head in silent memorial.
"Well, um, Chiron. Should I give Lea a tour?" asked Nico, breaking the awkward silence.
"Yes, Mr. di Angelo. That would be nice. It was a pleasure to meet you, Lea." I seriously doubted that, but didn't say anything. "Dinner should be in about an hour." With that, he walked back into the house.
"He is really stressed out right now, so don't mind." Said Nico.
"Stressed about what?" I asked.
"The Great Stirring. All of the ancient forces rising. First Kronos and most of the titans, then Gaea. " He replied, his eyes sad and distant.
I stood there staring at him, I heard about the destruction in New York and Greece and wondered if that had anything to do with what he was talking about. I'd ask him later. "So, let's get started on that tour."
He showed me everything, which took at least an hour. We started out at the volleyball courts where I spiked a volleyball that hit him in the face, then ran away yelling, "Oh yeah, three pointer." Though I'm pretty sure there aren't any three pointers in volleyball, it had the same effect. Then, to Arts and crafts where we got into a sparkle fight with the Aphrodite cabin, and came out completely glitter-coated. When we shook our hair out, it looked like we had been attacked by fairies. Then, the Amphitheater where we met the Apollo cabin who was reenacting the Iliad. I got to play the role of poor defenseless Helen. Then, we went to the climbing wall, which I didn't dare climb but watched as Nico raced a satyr - and lost horribly - to the top. Then, the dunes, where I shoved him into the sand so hard that he rolled all of the way down the hill. We stumbled to the mess hall, coated in sand and glitter, my Helen's toga was ripped and Nico’s clothes were scorched, and we were laughing so hard that my cheek bones hurt.
When I looked up, I saw about 300 kids staring at us. Everyone was silent till Chiron said, "Everyone, meet our newest recruit Lea, she is undetermined."
I heard lots of murmurs. The only one I could make out was from a Hephaestus boy: "Oh, great, another Aphrodite chick." I glared at him.
Chiron continued. "I see you visited the sand dunes. You must have not been able to hear the dinner bell. You may sit down."
Nico led me over to a table with bunch of kids. The banner above it said "Minor" in ancient Greek. I whispered to Nico, "What does Minor mean?"
"This is the table for the children of the Minor gods." He replied.
"Hades isn't minor." I stated.
"Yeah, but I'm his only child so I don't like sitting at a huge table all alone, and the head table makes me feel like everyone is watching me eat." He said, then stood up and went over to the buffet table. I followed him. There wasn't much left, so I grabbed a slice of pizza and headed back. Nico came up to me and said, "Aren't you going to sacrifice some to the gods?"
I thought for a moment, then said, "Like they need it."
Thunder rumbled in the distance. I shrugged it off though I knew it wasn't a coincidence.
"True." And then he sat down next to me. I was completely enjoying my meal until I realized how dehydrated I was. I tapped Nico on the shoulder and asked, "Hey, where are the drinks?"
He grinned. "Right here." He picked up his goblet and waved it in front of my face.
"It's empty, idiot. I don't know if because you're son of Hades, but I'm pretty sure you need fluids." I said, picking up my goblet and teasingly waved it in front of his face.
"No, no, set it down. I'll show you." He placed his goblet on the table and said, "Coke." Brown bubbly liquid filled the cup as if poured from an invisible pitcher.
"That's awesome. Can it give you anything?" I asked
"Anything." He sipped his coke tauntingly.
I thought for a minute, and then remembered the time I went to a diner with Henry. That gave me the idea for the best beverage ever. "Mint-chip shake, please."
"Sugar addict." Muttered Nico.
"Shut up. You smell like death." I said. I don't know why but even though we were constantly torturing each other, we had fun with it.
"And what does death smell like?" He asked, scarfing down his pizza.
"Road kill, wilting roses, and old people." I said.
We both laughed until we realized we were the last two people at the pavilion.
"Campfire starts soon. That's probably where you'll be claimed." He said.
A shred of fear pinned my heart to my stomach. The fact that I would find out who my father was would change everything, and would determine my life at camp.
We walked leisurely over to the campfire where the flames burned purple. I didn't know how that was possible, but after seeing a demon ice cream woman, a dragon, and had a mint chip shake magically appear, I figured anything was possible. Everyone sang a campfire song I had never heard before. So, I just sat staring at the fire which blazed menacingly. The Greek columns rose to the sky that sparkled with stars. After a few songs, Chiron walked to the middle of the amphitheater and raised a hand in a gesture for silence. "Now for the claiming," he announced. "Lea, come here please."
I looked at Nico. He smiled reassuringly. I made my way through the crowds of demigods. When I had reached Chiron, everyone was completely silent. I waited for something to happen. An Aphrodite girl snickered. I glared up at her. Before I could do anything else, her eyes rolled back into her head and she fell over backwards. Everyone gasped. A boy in the third row said, "She must be a child of Hades! She killed Drew! No wonder she gets along so well with Nico!"
I didn't know what was going on. Did I kill that girl? If that boy didn't shut up he have the same fate as her. Chiron quickly clopped unto where the girl lay. He put his hand on her forehead then felt her pulse. "No. No, she is only asleep. Lea, you must be a daughter of Hypnos. I'm afraid your siblings are asleep." He said.
Hypnos, well that's not so bad. God of sleep, though that didn't really seem like me. Just then my fingertips began to glow. Was this normal? Then from the tip of my right middle finger, something began to grow. It was like a living tattoo. A green vine with no leaves weaved its way down my palm around my wrist and reached almost right underneath my elbow. From there, a beautiful pinkish-red poppy bloomed and froze. It looked like a really well done tattoo. But something was strange about the poppy's center, when the firelight grew and blazed cobalt blue, I saw that instead of having the small black seed in the center, there was a closed eye, with black eyeliner and eye shadow. I looked up at Chiron. He looked just as awestruck as everyone else. "Well, here we have a new god's offspring in our presence. One that I know the symbol but never imagined to meet a demi-god with the mark of it. Hail, Lea, daughter of Morpheus."
The whole crowd gaped and whispered. The silence was broke by a swoosh and clop-clop-clop. About 300 swords and bows were drawn. They all pointed at a beautiful winged horse, a Pegasus that had landed not but ten feet away from me. The rider was even more unexpected; Henry sat on the back of a gold hoofed Pegasus.
I stood there for a minute staring trying to interpret what I had just seen. Henry looked over at me and said, "So who's your parent?" His smile was wide and the sparkle in his eyes made him look younger.
"Morpheus." I said, trying to act as casual as possible with the fact that I was part god.
"Kind of guessed. The fact that your mom never met your dad in person hinted the fact that your dad was one of the Oneiroi, one of Hypnos' attendants or some other god or spirit of sleep." He said, getting off the Pegasus and stroking its mane. Chiron watched this whole scene skeptically.
"Oh, Chiron, this is my step-dad, Henry," I quickly said.
Chiron's eyebrows raised. "Henry Reclin?" he asked.
"It's good to see again Chiron," Henry said.
"We must talk but first I must ask. Is that the Pegasus?"
"Why, yes, it is. We became acquainted when I fell on top of him. A dragon dropped me. Long story," He explained. Pegasus shook his mane and whinnied in approval of the odd story. Henry continued. "Lea, did Nico get you here safely?"
"What does it look like? I'm not monster chow as of yet." The entire camp was watching us like a terribly intense movie. My brain was moving like a subway, fast and too dark to fully interpret much.
"Good. Where is the boy? I'd like to speak with him. Oh, and, Lea, here are your clothes." He threw me my pink zebra striped duffle bag.
Chiron looked out to the crowd and said: "Well, campers, this has been an interesting night. Will Solace and Layla Rue, will you please take Pegasus to the stable and treat him to some complimentary snacks." A pretty brunette girl and handsome blond boy stood and took Pegasus with them out of the campfire area. "The rest of you are dismissed." Kids slowly filed out, some got last glances at me and Henry. Chiron looked at me and said, "Lea, room 21, Nico take her there." I nodded in thanks.
Nico and I slowly made our way to cabin 21. We stared up at the stars; he pointed out a constellation of a girl shooting a bow, and told me the story of Zoe Nightshade. She was a hunter of Artemis who was killed by her unmerciful father. I hoped she and I wouldn't have similar fates. I asked Nico what the Hunters of Artemis were and his face darkened.
"They are the immortal huntresses of Artemis." He said, but I could tell a secret was locked behind those dazzling night black eyes. They reflected the stars as he looked up. His face was so mature and ageless, like he himself was immortal.
"Sounds like fun." I said, pondering the fact of eternally hunting monsters. Suddenly, Nico's eyes brightened with rage. He turned to me, fuming. "No, it's not fun to ditch your friends and family and everyone else you love and who love you, for people you don't even know."
At first, I was alarmed, but not scared. His temper seemed to soar at certain things. I gently placed my hand on his shoulder and said, "I would never."
He looked at me, his eyes sad, and then he crumpled to the ground. I sat down next to him. He looked over at me with red rimmed eyes; he was crying. I didn't find crying babyish; I actually thought it best to let emotions show. It's the sign of a true human being.
"My sister left me to become a hunter. While she was on a quest, she died." He said. His voice faltered.
I put my arm around him. I had never lost someone close to me and I couldn't imagine the pain of losing a sibling.
"I'm sorry I went off on you like that." He said.
"I understand." I said, and I rested my head on his shoulder. We sat there on the grass and let time tick slowly by.
He muttered, "So many regrets, so little memories of peace."
I didn't know what he meant, but I figured I'd find out soon.
My cabin was so boring. It was nothing like the other cabins that were made of stone and all prettily decorated. Mine was a simple wood shack with 21 painted over the doorway, and one bunk bed in the middle of the single room. At least it was big. Big and empty. I threw my duffel bag into the corner and flopped onto the bottom bunk. My first day at camp had been amazing. Not fun necessarily, but amazing. I had only met Nico this morning, but I felt like I could dump all my secrets and dreams on him. Friendship between us was almost involuntary. I closed my eyes and sleep took me away to worlds unseen by any other person. Except no dreams found me and the creepy lady didn't show. I was left in pleasant peace.
When I woke, light shown through the rafters like rays down from heaven. A
breeze blew in through the open window. I was sure I had closed that window before I went to bed and locked the door. The only reason why I remember this is because I got my finger jammed in the process. Which led to me yelling and cursing at the door, and at that moment, a Hermes kid was walking by. He raised an eyebrow and kept walking. He looked amused, but me screaming at my door probably wasn't the weirdest thing he'd seen that day. I didn't care about the magical borders protecting me from external monsters; the forest edge was no barrier for the monsters that lurked there. I slowly stood up, cautiously creeping to the door to take a full look around the room. There weren't many hiding places, but monsters were good at disguising themselves.
Then, I noticed a small black form on the top bunk. I quietly scrounged through the duffel bag Henry had given me. I pulled out a bronze knife, and tip-toed slowly over to the bunk-bed. Why didn't the thing kill me in my sleep? I was about to throw the knife when someone mumbled, and the body shifted and pale hand draped over the bunks edge. A skull ring was on the middle finger. Either Nico was sleeping in the upper bunk, or a creature lay up there chewing on Nico's arm. Second choice was not likely.
I stood on the edge of my bed to look at him. When I finally got bored of waiting for him to wake up - which wasn't long because of my ADHD - I took the bottom bunk mattress and placed it next to the bed. Then, I shoved Nico off the upper bunk onto the mattress. He let out a strangled scream of surprise and I heard an unnatural pop when he hit the floor. He groaned, his voice muffled because he was still face down. "What was that for?"
"Sleeping in my cabin without asking me!" I put a lot of hints on the words and my face, just to show him that he should never do it again. I continued. "How did you even get in. I locked the door?"
"Window," He grumbled.
"I shut it!" I exclaimed.
"Didn't lock it." He said, getting up and brushing the dust off his clothes.
"Creep," I said, my arms crossed.
"What made you think that: the black clothes, the smell of death, or the fact that Hades is my dad? Geez, Lea, not bad at stating the obvious, are ya?" I felt like punching him in the face though I wasn't mad at all. Indecision was just one of my wonderful qualities.
"Okay, whatever, why are you in here?" I asked.
"I went to my cabin and when I fell asleep, I had some really disturbing nightmares. So I figured, bad dreams, why not go see the demi-god of dreams. Maybe she could help, if anyone could." He nervously scratched the back of his neck and looked at his shoes.
"Yeah, the demi-god of dreams, that had discovered her powers that night, lots of experience." I said sarcastically
"Look, you're the only person here that I trust," He blurted out. Then he blushed deep scarlet. That last response shocked me so much that my next reply was purely unintentional.
"I met you yesterday," I said, awestruck.
"I don't know, never mind, it was stupid of me. Just forget it.”
He was about to storm out the door when I said, "But something between us clicked."
He looked at me, his black eyes gleaming, the tiny splatter of freckles across his nose making look like the child he really was. People thought of him as always being deadly serious, (no pun intended), but that's not what I saw in him. I silently cursed at myself for saying that; now everything would be all uncomfortable.
"So," I said. "What terribly scary and amazing thing should we do today?"
"That is entirely up to you," he said, being as gentlemanly as a fourteen year old son of Hades could be.
"I say we eat. I'm starving. Then, you can give me a personal tour of the forest so we can kick some monster butt."
"Yeah, but there is something that none of the other campers know about that I want to show you." He said, his eyes glinting malevolently