The Trial of the Rivers

All is going well for Lea as she finishes her time as a god, but when Nico goes mysteriously missing things take a turn for the worse. No longer welcome at camp, and with new power on the rise, Lea is doubting her decisions to stay mortal. Then when news from the gods comes, saying that Lord Hades has been overthrown, Lea and some other experienced demi-gods must travel west to take back the underworld.

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2. 2- A Mermaid Gives Me Life Advice

2- A Mermaid Gives Me Life Advice
Henry came and picked me up in the new Camp van. We chatted casually about my experiences as a goddess and I contemplated telling him about my strange dream. I ended up deciding against it, it was probably just my subconscious trying to tell me something. 
Being in the van reminded me of the first day of my quest, almost six months ago, Nico, Percy and I eating French toast in the backseat. Thinking about it made my chest hurt, I missed those days, where I got to travel across the U.S.  with my two best buds, fighting monsters as we went. 
We arrived at Camp within the hour and I quickly unloaded my bags and ran up the crest of the hill. Percy would be finishing his time as praetor for the year soon, and he’d be arriving at Camp in a week. I looked out over the strawberry fields, the sun was now fully risen and campers were starting to head to the dining pavilion for breakfast. Everything looked so serene, exactly how it should be. Three Pegasus riders circled above the sand dunes, the rock wall was spurting lava, and some Ares kids were chasing down a Hermes guy who had stolen the Volleyball and run off with it. 
I threw my duffel bag over my shoulder and raced down the hill. I slide-tackled the Hermes guy, receiving many cheers from the Ares cabin, and then took the Volleyball and sprinted off. Soon the Ares kids were on my tail but I was faster than them. Unfortunately my bags were weighing me down. I nearly ran into an auburn haired girl and I instinctually shoved the volleyball into her hands, then kept running. I didn’t look back but judging by the Ares cabin’s angry threats and cursing I’m guessing she had taken off with it. A fearsome game of keep-away had just begun. 
I took a minute to catch my breath and then continued off to my cabin. It was already unlocked and I instinctually stepped in and chucked my bags into the back left corner, so that they landed in a heap. 
There were already two people in the cabin, and the taller one yelped and failed to get out of the way of my pink projectile duffel bag. What she was holding, which looked like black coffee in a red solo cup, spilled all over the floor. When I examined it closer it looked more like Drakon blood; thick and shiny black. 
“Oh Lea,” I cried the girl, ”So glad you’re back! I thought you were gonna get here tomorrow, oh well, sorry about your floor.”
She stepped forwards and hugged me, and it was only then that I realized who it was, Cloe, she had grown an inch or two, and she’d tanned a lot, going from snow white skin to beautifully pale, she’d gained a few light freckles, and she looked so much older. Which made me think, how old was she really? Probably sixteen or seventeen. 
She smiled at me and I noticed Ava standing in the back corner of the room, she was also holding a red-solo-cup. She hadn’t changed at all, she had the same choppy red-brown hair, and impish face, she was a 4’11 stick of dynamite in disguise. She smiled a greeting then glanced at he wall. 
I followed her gaze and gasped, the entire cabin was painted, the walls had beautiful pink and red poppies painted on them.
I noticed only half of the flowers had beautifully done black calligraphic outlines.
“Sorry, were not quite finished, we’re still doing the lineart,” said Cloe. 
So that’s what the red solo cups were filled with, paint, and I had thought it was drakon blood. I guess I was still in a mythological mindset. 
“Wow, guys, it’s beautiful, thank you so much,” I replied, gazing around the room. 
Cloe grinned and began ushering me out of the room, “Now you need to get out while we finish up, go, go, go,” And she shoved me out the door. 
For a while I stood on my porch deciding where to go next, then hopped down my steps and briskly walked into the forest. 
It’d been almost three weeks since I’d last talked to Nico, and I really missed the sound of his voice. He was the only one, besides Percy, that understood why I had turned down immortality. 
I had mentally walked this path hundreds of times, I knew every twist and turn, the route engrained in my mind since the day when Nico dragged me here the first time. 
I came upon the small clearing within minutes, the spongy brown soil squishing beneath my converse. I walked up to the large oak and ran my fingers down the trunk, something about it was different, it seemed older; the bark was peeling and it seemed grey and withered. Like it had aged three hundred years in two months.
The indent where there had once been the notch, was curling in on itself, enveloping the hand sized natural button, the entrance had been sealed off. 
So much for that plan. 
Maybe Nico had sealed it off so that no monsters could escape up into Camp, it was probably a good idea. 
I decided to go get some breakfast, and then played a few rounds of volleyball with some Apollo boys, and then practiced sword fighting with the Hermes cabin. 
Travis and Connor battled me at the same time, and let’s just say; Connor needs a new helmet and Travis needs a new nose. I was a bit rough with the hilt of my sword. 
It was five o’clock, when we finally got Travis’s nose to stop bleeding. I felt a bit guilty but he was smiling and laughing so much, I didn’t think it was first time getting a broken nose. 
“Ha, I hope your on our team tonight, you’re a brutal little dame,” laughed Connor, trying to pop the immense dent out of his helmet. 
“Capture the Flag in tonight? Sweet. I wonder whose team I’ll be on.” I replied, pressing the button on my sword so that it converted back into a necklace. 
“The bigger worry is whose team you’re not on, because they should know to run and hide,” joked Travis. 
“Haha, I’m not that good,” I replied, latching on my necklace. 
Travis and Connor gave each other sideways glances. 
“I’ll see you later tonight I guess,” I said, and headed out of the arena. 
I had two hours to kill before dinner so I Decided to swing by the armory, just to see if Ava was there. 
I took my time getting there stopping to say hi to familiar people, most of them smiled and chatted lightly, but I could see in their eyes they had something else on their minds, a question eating at their subconscious. 
I was tempted to use my powers and read their emotions. Then I remembered, I didn’t have that power anymore. Instead, I would just smile and casually walk away. 
The armory loomed before me, chugging out smoke and heat radiating from it. 
I stepped inside, the heat and hit me first, and then the noise, the constant clanging of metal and whirring of gears. 
At one of the work tables a guy in a welding mask and a scorched camp t-shirt stood, welding a small trinket. I watched him for a while as he carefully shaped the metal. After a few minutes he turned off the blow torch, and the glowing metal cooled. 
It’s only then that he seems to notice me, and he lifts up his mask revealing his face. 
He grins at me, eyes wide, “Lea!” 
“Hey, Jake, whatcha doing?” I ask walking forward to see his latest project. 
He picks up the trinket in his gloved hand, showing me a extremely detailed fairy charm. 
“It’s gorgeous,” I gasped. 
He deep tan skin seemed to get redder at the cheeks, and he looked at it bashfully, “It’s for Victoria, she’s going through a fairy phase.”
“I’m sure she’ll love it,” I said, examining the intricate silver figure.
“Jake,” called someone from deeper in the armory. 
“Yeah,” he yelled back. 
A girl emerged through the smoke she wore welding goggles and I could see half of her extremely toned stomach through a large burn-hole in the front of her shirt, “Ten minutes until dinner, we better start packing up shop.”
“Okay,” he replied and then went to flipping a bunch or switches and unplugging different wires. 
The girl smiled and nodded at me, I couldn’t see her eyes but I could tell by her warm auburn hair it was the girl I’d given the volleyball to earlier. The then disappeared back into the darkness of the back room. 
“See you later Jake,” I said to his back as he crouched underneath the table fiddling with some wires, and left the armory.
* I headed down to the lake, one of my favorite places, second to the picnic table. 
For a while I stood on the dock looking out over the glimmering water. A few naiads drifted around the depths, paying no mind to me.
I was turning around to go up to the pavilion early but something caught my eye as I turning. A glimmer, not like a reflection, it was too silver. I tried to look closer, there was definitely something there, small and distant but brilliant. As if it caught every ray of sunlight, even from the bottom of the lake, and enhanced the shine, projecting it. 
Something drew me to the object, it could have been a old tin can or an earring someone dropped whilst canoeing, but whatever it was, it’s mystery entrance me. 
I checked my clothes, camp shirt and white (well, they were white…once) shorts and my hot pink converse. I quickly unlaced my shoes kicking them off and then dove into the water. 
It felt amazing the cool. Clear water, rushing over my skin, washing away the dirt and grime. 
I swam towards the shine, but the father I swam the more distant I realized it was. 
Then I realized how deep I was and how little breath I had left. 
I wasn’t close enough to the bottom to kick off nor was I close enough to the surface to make it there without choking. For a few seconds, I panicked. Drowning in the lake would be a really pathetic death for a demi-god. 
Time slowed down for a second, there was no way out.
Just as I exhaled my last bit of oxygen I looked up. 
The sun shone brilliantly through the water, illuminating the green around me. Tiny fish swam past curiously. I wanted them to help, they could breathe but I couldn’t, an irrational jealousy overtook me. They swam past, regarding me how I would regard a starving pigeon on the street. Stupid fish. 
Was this my final thought, hating a fish for being a fish. 
Great. 
Very heroic. 
I closed my eyes, I had a few second then I would need to breath. The chest ached, I breathed in, water entered my lungs and it hurt like nothing I’ve ever known. 
It was a peaceful pain. 
The worst kind. 
Looking up at the surface, through the water vision going blurry, something masked my vision. 
Then suddenly I was breathing again. 
There was some sort of cloth wrapped around my face, over my mouth and nose. 
I could breathe.
I could breathe.
I could breathe.
Oxygen had never tasted better. 
I felt at the cloth with my fingers, somehow I knew this was what was letting me breathe. I was a sash of some sorts, made of a weightless material. It was deep green and semitransparent. A face appeared in front of me, she smiled, her brilliant green eyes staring into mine. I jumped, bubbles rushing out of my nose. She giggled lightly. Then took hold of my hand with hers and pulled me through the water. A naiad. Limnade to be specific. A protector of maidens. 
She didn’t say a word, but she pulled me closer to the little silver trinket. 
After a few minutes we had reached the bottom of the lake, at least a hundred feet of water was above but the pressure didn’t seem to affect me. My feet hit the bottom , the silt flew up in little whirls around my bare toes, squishing softly. 
I was about to look at the naiad, to ask why she brought me here, but she had disappeared. So had the shawl. Luckily I still had a few minutes of breath. 
The silver object gleamed just before me. Resting half buried in the muck. I quickly reached forward and picked it up. 
It was a ring. 
Beautiful polished silver, more shiny than anything I’ve ever seen. It was a simple band, but there was something inscripted into the side. I didn’t bother looking now. I stuffed it into my pocket and looked up. 
Someone, or I should say something, was looking back. A huge bloodshot eye stared down at me, the pupil as tall as me. 
Timothy.
Timothy the kraken.
Well, crap.
He didn’t look particularly angry, but I couldn’t really tell. Before I could move a tentacle curled around me. Squeezing me like a giant corset. Next thing I knew I was being lifted out of the water. I broke the surface coughing, and was roughly plopped onto the shore. Soaking, dripping wet. Both outside and in. 
Timothy’s tentacle retreated back into the water.
I vomited lake water, then sniffled, looking around me. 
A group of ten demigods stood, mouths and eyes wide open. 
This was probably the first time they’d seen a girl be dropped onto the grass by a gigantic tentacle. 
I stood up, watching them as they stared at me. Wiped my nose, then walked casually back to my cabin. 
There was still a half-hour till Capture the Flag. 
I changed into dry clothes, jeans, pink tank top, purple hoodie, my sual and whipped my head around like a dog. Drying my hair in the only way I ever have, lazily. I don’t think I’ve ever touched a hair-drier. 
I pulled the ring from my short’s pocket.
It looked like the one from Lord of the Rings, except silver. 
The writing read:Δώρο του Ποσειδώνα
It was Greek, but my head hurt too much from the water for me to read it. 
I set it on my bedside table and redid my ponytail, then walked outside. 
After a few minutes of wandering, the gong rang and I headed up to the pavilion. 
A lot of kids were already there chatting excitedly about the CtF game.  
I went to the buffet and got a chicken bacon delite mini pizza then sat down at the minors table. By the time all of the campers had arrived, the sun was low in the sky. I waited for one of my friends to come and sit next to me, but Cloe and Ava had there own tables and I spotted Maria on the other end of the table with a bunch of new Hecate friends. I was okay with sitting alone, I’m not really a big fan of having people watch me eat, but I was still lonely. My chest ached thinking about Nico and Percy, I couldn’t wait to see them. 
Every few minutes I would notice someone staring at me as I sat alone, when a smiled at then they just gave me a wary half-smile back. 
I finished dinner early, and headed back to my cabin to get prepped. 
Ava and Cloe had finished painting, and it smelled like tempera. The walls looked amazing; simple and elegant. I took a minute to fully appreciate it, and made a note of what I should say when thanking them. 
I went over to my bags and pulled out my Capture the Flag outfit, a purple hoodie, my armor, leather fingerless gloves, my messenger bag and forks. I pulled the hoodie over my tank top, and cinched on my gloves, After pulling my armor over my head and lacing up my combat boots, I was ready. I sat on my bed for a minute , listening to the sound of the forest. The conch horn sounded in the distance, I  slung my messenger bag over my shoulder and pushed open my small screen door. 
Twilight hung over camp, making everything gold and violet tinted. 
I headed to the clearing at the forest’s edge where the blue team usually meets, a large group of demi-gods were gathered there. A few of them were shouting, it seemed like there was an argument going on. 
I walked up cautiously not wanting to get caught in the middle of it. 
Travis and Connor were going head on with three Ares kids with red plumed helmet’s. 
One of the Ares kids began shouting, “You can’t have her on your team! She’s a god! That’s not fair! Even you can see that!” 
“She was a god! She’s not anymore!” Argued Travis. 
“So what?! She’s still super powerful! She could probably snap her fingers and put us all to sleep! You heard what she did to Nyx! And that was a titan!”
I suddenly became very aware of myself, and tried to sink as well as I could into the shadows. Unfortunately, when I tried to hide, that’s when people started noticing me.
All at once all eyes turned to me, I fidgeted with my messenger bag’s strap.
“You can’t have her, it’s too much of an advantage,” growled the tallest Ares girl. 
“Well, you can’t have her either,” spat Connor. 
“Well, than I guess she can’t play.”
Travis looked at me with pitiful eyes, “sorry,” he mouthed. 
I forced a grudging smile, “It’s okay I get it. You guys have fun.”
I turned and strode as confidently as I could out of the clearing and didn’t look back.
I walked out a across the familiar fields, which suddenly seemed very foreign. 
I ambled to the canoe lake and sat on the edge of the dock, skimming the soles of my boots along the water. 
I wished Percy was there, he’d probably put his arm around me and say something like, “Their loss.”
Suddenly my nose began to run and tears started streaming from my eyes.
This was not the camp I remembered. I remembered being accepted, and having endless friends and never being alone. 
I’d never felt so lonely in my life. 
I buried my face in my hands and let myself sob. 
I do this to myself all the time; I get my hopes up and when reality isn’t quite there, disappointment floods my eyes. 
I flicked the tears off my hands into the lake. 
Seconds later droplets of water sprayed my face. 
I looked up, “Percy?”
“Nah, sorry love,” replied a voice from by my feet.
I looked into the water to see an unexpected but familiar face. 
“Mea!” I sighed happily.
“Hey girlie, what’s the matter? I can’t have you contaminating my precious fresh water anymore with those salty tears!” She said, her smile so radiant it was contagious. 
I laughed through the tears, “What are you doing here?”
“Turns out Lake Erie wasn’t the place for me,” she replied, she looked away as if there was something she didn’t want to say, “a bit over-populated.”
I was curious what she meant, but I didn’t pry. 
“Anyways,” she continued, “It’s nice here, small, but the water is fresh and the naiads are nice so it’ll make a good home-sweet-home. And another plus is that the boys here are really nice,” She glanced over at the shore line an Apollo boy holding a blue plumed helmet, stood on the lake edge staring at her, she grinned a American sweetheart  smile and twirled her fingers and tilted here head in the perfect, “Hey there,” way. 
The boy froze, blushed a furious red, and then power walked away with his eyes locked on his shoes. 
She and I exchanged looks, and then both laughed, “I think you’ve got some secret admirers,” I joked. 
“Always,” she said mischievously, and then winked. 
“Oh, did you loose a ring? I found one earlier, simple silver.”
“No,” she replied. 
“Hmm okay, if anyone says they've lost one, tell them I found it.”
The sun sparkled off the lake, making the water look like liquid gold, and trust me, I know I’m talking about. Mea and I stayed in silence for a few minutes, watching the sun sink below the sand dunes. 
“I think I’m going to go to bed,” I sighed, standing up.
“Alright, I hope to see again soon,” she replied, then she looked me straight in the eyes, “Tomorrow will be better, it always will, remember that,” and then with a flick of her tail she dove beneath the surface, disappearing in a flash of metallic teal.
I strolled back to the cabins feeling better, I watched from afar as the blue team ran whooping and cheering out of the forest, the blue flag in Will Solace’s hand. 
I walked past Zeus’ and Hera’s cabin, but I stopped before Poseidon’s. 
Carefully, I pushed open the front door, inside it smelled like the pacific coast, like the beaches in Monterey my mom used to take me too. 
Even though most of the cabin was grey, it felt the opposite of dismal, a fountain gurgled in the corner, an abalone carousel hung from the ceiling, the bunk bed frames seemed to be made from sea rock, even with little living mussels and starfish on them.
I sat on the lower bunk, curling the soft baby blue cotton sheets in my fingers. 
I don’t remember lying down or falling asleep, or even dreaming but I woke up to sunrise and somebody else was in the room.

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