I walked with Nico and Percy to the big house we stopped on the way to get changed out of our soaking clothes. When we reached the house I took a moment to take in the enormity of it. Percy gazed up at it longingly. He looked sad but pleased.
"So Percy, I thought you were at camp Jupiter?" asked Nico.
"Yeah I was. But you know how things work. I got a bad feeling in my gut, and I jumped into the lake, and when I reached the surface I was here," Percy explained as he stepped into the house.
I browsed my mental library for a Camp Jupiter, no results. Percy kept walking deeper into the house.
"What's camp Jupiter?" I asked as I sipped at the coke Percy gave me when we entered the house. We sat in the living room with a living leopard head (I didn't ask), a big leather couch, bunch of creepy masks on the walls, and the place looked as if nobody tried weed management for fifty years because it was overgrown with vines. I noticed coming in that most of the pictures in the house were of Percy and some blonde chick.
"Camp Jupiter, is the camp where the Roman demigods go," Explained Percy. His timing was perfect, I had just taken a large gulp of coke, I felt it shoot up my nasal passage and I nearly choked. My throat and nose burned. The coke had suddenly lost its appeal and I set it on the coffee table.
"What?" I gasped at him.
"Yeah, I thought Nico would've told you already," He glared pointedly at Nico. Nico Shrugged, Percy continued "We just recently found out about it, I woke up with no socks and no memory and well the story about it is pretty long, never mind."
"Well okay then," I remarked, "I'll just pretend like that's normal. So there are roman demigods too?"
I eyed my coke can, wondering if I dared to take another sip.
"Yeah, the gods can exist in two different forms at once, roman or Greek." Explained Percy.
I took the risk and took another swig of Coke.
"I have a half-sister named Hazel, a daughter of Pluto." Said Nico and once again I felt the soda rush up in my nose.
"Nice timing," I choked.
Percy chuckled quietly to himself, "Sorry but that was great, nice one Nico."
"What, oh yeah, sorry Lea. I should've told you earlier," mumbled Nico looking down embarrassed for me.
"Awww, I think it's coming out my nose," I said as the burning sensation flood downward. I sniffed and wiped my nose with my purple hoodie's sleeve as my nose twitched angrily.
At this Percy, who couldn't hold it in any longer, burst out laughing. I joined in with him, but Nico just stared at us confused.
At that moment Henry walked in "Hey guys, what's up?"
"Were explaining to Lea what camp Jupiter is." Said Percy
"We came to see Chiron," said Nico.
"I sang to a Kraken." I said joining in casually.
"Really Lea, nice job. Joe doesn't always go right back to sleep. One time we had to have the Hermes cabin steal all of the Animal Rescue Center's tranquilizer, there was wild raccoons everywhere for the next few weeks. So who swam past the buoy?"
I silently raised my hand.
"Don't sweat it, you didn't know. Anyways, Joe is very territorial. One toe past the line, he's awake and ready." Said Henry.
"Joe the Kraken?" asked Percy.
"Well, okay, not the weirdest thing I've ever heard," stated Percy, "Hey, how come when we canoe past that invisible border, he doesn't wake up?"
"Because he can't smell you." Replied Henry, hanging his bow up on the wall.
"Aren't Kraken's Norse not Greek? That's what we came here to ask." Nico finally joined into the conversation.
"Perception," Said Henry, "Percy, you know how Apollo and Artemis inherited Selene's and Helios' reign over the moon and sun."
"Well that's because of what the majority of mortals chose to worship them for and you could walk out onto any city street and ask where the kraken comes from in mythology. Almost all mortals would say it was Greek. Do you see where I'm getting?"
"So if something is strongly perceived for what it's not, it suddenly becomes that?" I asked.
"Well, they just kind of morph. It only works with mythology. You can't look at a pancake and tell everyone it's a waffle, and if they believe you, it won't magically change into a waffle."
"Shame, that would be cool." Said Percy.
"Yeah, but then all the waffle irons would go to waste." I said.
"Who knows it could be catastrophic to the breakfast industry." I joked.
Once again Percy cracked up and just watching him I started laughing too. Henry chuckled and sighed "teenagers." As he walked into a back room.
Nico didn't laugh at all he just sat glaring at Percy.
"So I hear that the other campers have scheduled activities, do we?" I asked, thinking about what classes I might be good at.
"Yeah, kind of," said Percy, "I have a schedule but it's not enforced, and it's only in the afternoon. I usually teach my own classes. Except for Chiron's class at three."
"What does Chiron teach?"
"Mortal studies is what we call it."
"That sounds weird. What is it?" I asked.
"It's basic stuff like math, science, history. So that I can say I have full high school diploma. Chiron's a licensed teacher you know." Replied Percy as we walked back out of the big house, Nico trailed behind us, not saying a word.
"Maybe he or Henry can do the same for me." I said hopefully, as we jostled our way through a herd of Aphrodite girls who shrieked "Percy!" and glared at me as we walked by.
A bell sounded in the distance. Percy turned to me smiled giddily "Lunch time."
We raced each other to the pavilion but Nico just waked behind. I won but only because I shoved Percy before he could start gaining speed, he fell and I whipped him.
We were the first one's there and we loped over to the buffet table our legs burning with amino acid. There was sandwiches of all kinds unfortunately they were all cold sandwiches, no melts or Panini's which was a shame cause I love Panini's.
I steered clear of the PB&J's because I'm allergic to peanut butter. Not seriously allergic, just a piercing headache in my temples that last for around five hours, not too painful just seriously annoying, it also stops me from concentrating, sleeping, and basically enjoying myself, so I went for a roast beef and cheddar on sourdough with salt and pepper organic potato chips.
It was delicious, but you see the thing about me is I get really hungry then when I eat the hunger subsides after about two bites. I've got the stomach the size of a walnut so I get full really quickly, and then twenty minutes later I'm hungry again. It's like eating Chinese food. This results in me snacking a lot. But Percy on the other hand sat next to me, and I swear the kids like a breathing black hole. He ate like five sandwiches in two minutes. He'd just shove them in his mouth whole then swallow, not even bothering to chew. While on the other hand Nico just nibbled at this only sandwich beside me.
As my mouth began to dry, realized I didn't ask for a drink, I didn't want another milkshake, I'd save that for dinner. I thought for a moment then it came to me.
"Auburn water." I said.
"What?" asked Percy his mouth completely full with his sixth sandwich. Half of it spray on me the other half fell out of his mouth.
"Awww," he said looking down at the half eaten sandwich, then he spotted me with the rest of it all over my face. He gulped down what he had left in his mouth, which wasn't much "Sorry."
I wiped off the bits of turkey and Swiss cheese, "Auburn is a town I used to live in central California. We had to move because of my mom's job. It's my favorite place I've ever lived, I had a bunch of friends. Plus, the water tasted amazing there, even the tap. We used to buy the big packs of Arrowhead water bottles, and pour out the original water, just to use it for the bottles for Auburn water."
"Oh, cool," Said Percy though he couldn't seem any less interested. "You finished?"
"Yeah, let's go," I said standing up and watching my plate magically disappear.
"What's the sched.?" I asked.
"Today's Wednesday and my schedule’s different during the school year so Archery which I usually skip, but we can try that today, then sword fighting, then mythology study, free time, than mortal studies, Dinner, then something special which I'll tell you later, then to bed, so that's it." He said, looking up as he tried to remember offhand.
"So archery? Awesome, I'm pretty good, I went to this one camp two summers ago when I lived in auburn with my two best friends, it was called Camp Augusta, I'm guessing it was named after Augustus Caesar, but anyways an Olympic archer taught me a few tricks."
"Cool. Let's go," Said Percy leading me to the archery range which was in between the armory and the arena, half tucked into the woods. There were ten regular targets and two moving targets.
Percy handed me a small long bow with arrows of dark cherry wood and pinkish feathers. I looked up at him and smiled "Perfect."
Nico just hung out behind us, it was weird for him to be so quiet but I figured that's just how he was around Percy.
I looked at the middle target and stood thirty feet away, I remembered where I was to aim, the bottom right on the ground underneath the target. I slipped on some leather archery gloves. Closed one eye, pulled back the string, took one deep breath, and released. A bull's-eye. I was even better than I remembered. All I had to do is visualize myself. But every detail had to be there every leaf and cloud, but if I could see myself doing it I could.
"Wow," breathed Percy.
I drew another arrow and let it fly. But before I let it go I pictured it hitting the other arrow so perfectly the it split the first arrow down the middle and when I released the scene replayed in reality.
"Oh my gods Lea, you're amazing if you hadn't already been claimed I would guessed you were Apollo! How do you do it?" Percy blurted.
I explained to him my method, he shrugged and said "It's worth a try."
He grabbed an even bigger bow than mine. As he drew back I corrected his elbow. Then I heard the sharp ‘puunct’ of an arrow hitting a target and piercing the paper. He was only three rings away from the middle.
"Wow, that works fantastically. That's the first time I've ever hit a target. Well except for this one time I hit one of the moving target but I was aiming for one ten feet away from it, so it doesn't really count."
"That takes skill." I teased.
For the next hour we Percy got continually better and I got 28 consecutive bulls-eyes until Percy sneezed and it broke my concentration. I jumped and the air flew strait up like in Clout Archery, it disappeared into the trees, good luck finding that one.
We heard a chime in the distance, "That's the next activity bell. We have sword fighting in the arena, so it won't be a long walk."
We marched to the arena which looked like a depilated version of the Coliseum. As we entered I gazed up at the high faded marble walls. I was too busy looking at them to notice the black mass coming towards us. When I looked ahead all I could see was flashing white fangs and gleaming eyes the size of large tea cups. A hellhound. I remembered it from my books, and I was charging straight at Percy.
"No!" I yelled. I side stepped in front of Percy, I didn't have a weapon on me to defend myself or him, but my instincts kicked in before I could protest. I raised my hand right in front of the beast's face. I didn't know exactly how that would help but I knew it would. My fingertips glowed pink and the hound began to run slower and slower as if the ground was turning to molasses and latching onto its feet. Eventually it keeled over completely and lay on the ground motionless. Then a loud snore issued from where the thing's head was tucked.
Percy turned to me wide eyes "I think you just put my dog to sleep."
"W-was that thing yours?" I stuttered.
"Yeah, that's Mrs. O'Leary. My pet hell-hound" He said.
"Why aren't you tired?" he asked looking at me as if I'd just been lit on fire.
"When I use my powers it takes a ton of my energy and afterwards I'm exhausted. You look fine."
I thought for a moment, "Actually, I feel much less tired now, as if I gained energy not lost any."
"That's it!" Percy exclaimed, "You have the ability to take other people's energy away from them, that's why they fall asleep! You steal their energy!"
"Okay, that's nice to know, so sword fighting. Isn't that your thing?" I asked Percy.
"Yeah, but I'll go easy."
"So what sword should I use?" I asked looking around for a spare, there were none.
"Hmmm, I would say use Nico's but only a child of the big three can use stygian iron."
"Then you use his, and I'll use yours." I said.
Percy looked hesitant, "Fine." He pulled a crummy looking ballpoint pen out of his jeans pocket and handed it to me.
I raised an eyebrow.
"Take off the cap," he said smiling mischievously.
I slowly slid of the black cap, and as I did gleaming bronze began to form. Before I could react a glowing sword was in my hand. "Sweet."
Nico unsheathed his sword and handed it to Percy, not saying a thing.
"Okay, when I say go, come at me. We'll just see how you do. Kay?"
"It's on." Percy sword felt balanced in my hand, a bit short but the perfect weight. I hoped sword training at Camp Augusta would come in handy here even if we only used foam swords.
I looked at Percy, he smiled as if to taunt me, but I could see something else in his eyes. He was putting on an act. He was…. Uncomfortable. He didn't want to attack me. He didn't like the feel of Nico's sword. He was…. Scared of me.
"On your mark, get ready, get set-"
I didn't let him finish. I grabbed his arm and swung underneath his legs. Thank the gods for those years of volleyball and softball. I slid through the dust, the world around me in slow motion. Like in those awesome Kung Fu movies I used my momentum to slide into a crouch and flung myself up to my feet. I was behind Percy now, he was o surprised all he did was look back at me with a moment of panic. Then I flung on to him, piggy back riding him, whipped his own sword up to his throat. He stopped struggling. "Game over," I said and let go.
Nico stared at me his mouth wide open in shock.
Percy turned around his arms up in surrender, "Dang Lea, you're a beast."
"Up for a second round?"
"Yeah. And this time I won't go easy."
"You mean this time you'll actually move."
He lunged at me drawing Nico's sword forward. The world oozed back into slow motion. My body took over my mind and I jumped using the moving sword like a staircase, jumping up and over Percy. He didn't see it coming for the second time and I put the sword back at his neck.
"I win. Again." I said smoothly.
He turned to face me "Yeah but now I know your strategy."
He lunged, I faked a dive to his right then drew back. He made a swing towards where I was about to go. But I deflected. He swung at my feet I jumped over his blade. He swung right for my neck, I arched my back and watched as the lethal black blade flew over my face. We jabbed, parried, and feinted, he was quick but I was flexible. He knocked my sword of out my hand, and it skidded through the dust. Rage and instincts took over, and I hook punched him right in the right jaw. Something clicked and he dropped his sword and staggered backwards. He looked at me too surprised for words. Clicked his jaw back into its rightful position, "That was awesome!" he exclaimed breaking out into a grin.
"I didn't mean to," I said.
His jaw line began to turn purple, but luckily he didn't swell.
"You're the best sword fighter I've ever met and I've met a lot of great sword fighters, even the god Ares himself."
"I'm not that good am I?" I asked, surprised.
"Yeah how do you do that?" he asked. Dropping Nico's sword on the ground like the dead fish. Nico scowled and picked it up, "Don't tell me you've also done sword training for the past five years too."
"Actually yeah, I went to this place called Camp Augusta, it's in California, they had basic camp stuff like horse riding, archery, and candle-making, but they also had huge rope courses, ninja training, sword fighting and quidditch. Henry took me there every summer since I was seven. It inspired me to get into swordplay, fencing mostly. I've done a few tournaments over the past couple years. Looking back I think Henry may have been training me for the demigod life with me even knowing."
"That's sounds awesome, I wish I had gotten in some practice in advance," replied Percy, "It must be some natural talent.'
" I was always different from the others, instinctually better, but I still sucked pretty bad at the beginning," I replied, looking at my toes, not wanting to sound like I was bragging. It was true though, I started off horrible but I liked it so I kept trying.
"Hmm?" asked Percy, wondering what I meant by instinctually better.
I thought for a minute, "I see things in slow motion."
"That's because your ADHD."
"And you know those heat sensors that show, where it's hot and cold?"
"Yeah, the ones that make everything blue green and orange."
"I see like that except for instead of heat, It's you weaknesses and strong spots, but it's not nearly so dramatic, but they just seem to glow differently."
"Okay, that's new," admitted Percy.
"Another round?" I asked. "I'll go easy on you."
Percy grabbed Nico's sword out of Nico's hands.
"You're going down." And we went into combat.
I won twenty eight more times.
The bell chimed again, Percy turned to me and said "Now for a bit of a break, Mythology."
We sat on the porch of the big house and read books that were written in ancient Greek, we read the classics like Pandora's box, which Percy corrected to Pandora's Pythos, and the tale of Perseus. Then we began the Iliad which by the second chapter had Percy twitching with impatience. I had to translate half the page. So it was informational but boring enough to put me to sleep for weeks.
When the bell finally chimed, we sighed and let the books fall out of our hands and to the ground.
"thanks the gods, that's over, I don't think I could've stood another minute reading about what Helen's wedding dress looked like," I said, "what now?"
"Free time," said Percy putting the books back on their shelves.
"I've been wanting to hear you say that for the past three hours."
"What should we do?" Percy asked.
"Absolutely nothing," I said.
"I know the perfect place."
Percy led the way out of the house and past the dining pavilion. Looking out over the ocean, next to a single oak tree, was a wind tattered old picnic table. There were names, creatures, and hearts carved into every inch of the wood. Percy and Nico sat on either sides of me. Percy sighed long and deep.
"I love it here," he said.
"I'm beginning to."
"I'm going to have to go back to Camp Jupiter tomorrow, they need me."
"Way to be humble," I mocked.
"I'm a praetor there." He explained.
"I don't know what that is."
"There are two main leaders at Camp Jupiter, me and Reyna, we run the camp and all its activities."
"Ohh, sounds fun," I said sarcastically.
"I don't like choosing sides, Roman or Greek, but I like it better here. It just feels more like home. It's a good thing Jason takes over for me as praetor during the summer, or else I'd go through withdrawals."
"Who's Jason?" I asked.
"A friend, he's a son of Zeus, a praetor before I came to Camp Jupiter."
"Sounds like a cool guy."
"Yeah, he is."
I felt the sudden need to change the subject, seeing that the conversation wasn't going anywhere but Percy's long life story and after mythology class, I don't think I could listen to any more stories about monsters and heroes.
"Do our lives ever go back to normal?" I asked lying down my arms behind my head.
"No, there's always something going on," Said Percy, he leaned back on the table too.
"I guess, you never get bored," He agreed sighing.
"That's just what I need," I replied.
"Demi-gods can die you know. I've been in many near death experiences even had the world counting on me."
"I know we can die, it's not a video game. Perhaps that's why I'm so good at being a demi-god. Because if I'm bad I know the consequences. I've already had a few near death experiences but I'm sure that's nothing compared to you."
"My whole life is a near death experience."
"Who's that girl?" I asked.
"The one that there's all the pictures of with you in the Big House."
"She's my girlfriend."
"She seems like a snob."
Percy chuckled lightly, "She can be."
Thunder rumbled in the distance.
"Athena telling me to keep my mouth shut," He said, "You'll meet Annabeth this summer probably right now she's at her dad's on San Francisco. She's a lot cooler than I'm making her sound. It's weird, in ways you remind me of her though you're almost exact opposites."
"Thank the gods," I stated.
"Hey, that my girlfriend you're talking about."
We laid on the table in silence and watched the clouds drift through the sky till the bell chimed."
"Mortal studies time," said Percy.
"Yeah. Math, Science and History! Oh boy," I said sarcastically.
"Yeah but it'll let us save up our energy. We have Capture the Flag tonight, against Ares, Athena, Aphrodite, and Apollo. Oh, and you're on my team."