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.


4. 4- A Quest is Begun

4- A Quest is Begun
I took a minute to let the realization settle, the leopard head on the mantle snarled a yawn, making me jump out of my daze. 
I hastily strode from the Big House, and up to the dining Pavilion, I sat at the table alone for a while, watching the other campers play carelessly. Sunlight danced of the lake and the ocean in the distance. The air was cool and calm and I could hear the Hermes cabin laughing at some new prank they had just pulled successfully. After about a half-an-hour the dinner bell rang and campers started filing in, chatting happily, perfectly oblivious. 
Percy came after a few minutes, he first went up to Chiron and they talked in hushed serious tones for a while, nodding and gesturing with their hands. I was dying to join the conversation, but I felt like I’d feel more alone with them than on my own. 
When they finally finished discussing whatever it was, the Pavilion was full. Chiron tapped his hoof against the marble floor twice and cleared his throat. The other campers feel silent. 
“I have some exciting news,” announced Chiron, his voice calm and clear, “A new quest had been issued.”
At that murmurs spread like wildfires. 
Chiron cleared his throat again. 
“As you know Lea Reclin, Percy Jackson, and Nico Di Angelo left for a quest not but a half of a year ago. Once again Lea and Percy have been called forth to complete the gods wishes, along with the other half-blood campers you have been o a quest in the past decade. We will wish them out best as they travel to the underworld.”
Hushed whispers between the campers, most of them looked at me with pity, but I noticed multiple jealous glares. I could hear many kids from the Ares cabin say, “Why does she get another quest? Percy’s been on seven already! Why don’t you let some of us have a chance!”
With a harsh look Chiron silenced them immediately. 
I slipped away in silence into the sunset casting the same beautiful golden rays as the dusk before. 
I walked past the climbing wall, past the canoe lake, and across the sand dunes. 
The beach was completely empty, the only sound that could be heard was the waves lapping against the beach. 
For a few minutes I was happy, at peace at least. 
I hummed an Ingrid Michaelson song to myself, enjoying the warm sunlight soaking into my skin, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. The salty air flooding my lungs. All of the fun beach memories from my past flicker through my head.
I felt a hand on my shoulder, “Hey Perc,” I said, turning around, but then scrambled across the sand, screeching, “HERMES! You scared me!”
“Sorry, I did not intend to frighten you,” he said, then grinned. 
He looked younger than usual, at my request he had shortened his hair in order to stay with the times, but only after multiple objections and stating “Fashion is always changing, it’s impossible to catch up.”
He was wearing a simple white shirt with “Hermes’ Postal Service” printed in emerald green, and khaki pants with tennis shoes, he looked about thirty, maybe older, but his eyes showed the true weariness of his age. 
He and I had worked a lot together over the past few months, when there were multiple versions of me out sorting dreams, sometimes I’d deliver messages for him. He was the ones who taught me how to shift my form, I didn’t alter myself much, just angel wings and more evenly toned skin. 
“So another quest,” he said, putting his phone on silent, much to George and Martha’s objections. 
“Yeah,” I sighed, “Lucky me,” I muttered sarcastically. 
“You know you shouldn’t be so bitter, a lot of demigods would love to go on quests.”
“Then why don’t you let them, and let me have some peace,” I objected. 
“Because they aren’t as strong as you.”
“I can put people to sleep and send dream messages! Big whoop!”
“You know that’s not what I mean,” he argued calmly, “Most kids your age would crumble under the pressure, but your heart is strong and you are courageous, just like Percy.”
“Well thanks, but why does everyone compare me to Percy?” I asked.
“Because you have the same destiny as him, you are a Hero of Olympus, just like the other nine you will be traveling with.”
“Then how come I didn’t go on that fancy trip to Greece with the Seven?”
“That was not your destiny, your part to play comes later in this story.”
“But I already destroyed one Titan,” I groaned. 
“Nyx, may be an elder, but she did not have a plan, she assumed that she could take over with only her power,” He stopped but I felt like he had something more to say, I looked at him expectantly, he continued, “I fear that she was only a diversion.”
Only a diversion? But who would use such a powerful titan as a pawn? And who would she be working for, even if unknowingly? 
“I know the thought is unsettling, but it’s the most logical reason why your first quest was so easy,” explained Hermes.
“Easy?” I spat, “That’s what you consider easy? Nico got flung down the side of Mt. Shasta and I had to use so much of my powers that every human in a ten mile radius fell asleep.”
Hermes nodded grimly. 
I flopped back onto the sand and groaned dramatically.
“Just remember although I can’t interfere on quests, there always are loopholes.”
I was just about to ask what he meant, but when I turned around, he was gone. 
“Well, bye then,” I said aloud to the air.
Just then something tackled me from the side, and I got a faceful of sand. 
“Hey girlie!” said Annabeth, who was now sitting perfectly still beside me, ignoring the fact that I was snorting out sand and sea shells. 
“Percy told me were going questing,” she said with a brilliant smile, one that hadn’t left her face since Olympus in December. She was loving the fact that the Prophecy of the Seven was over and Hera was out of her life…mostly. She and I had spent a lot of time together on Olympus as she did routine checks, and we were extremely close now. She loved explaining to me all of the types of columns and how different roofs were designed for different things. I didn’t really listen, but I could tell she was excited to talk about it and her voice was pleasant so I let her rant, while I followed along silently. 
She stared at me now, her grey eyes were big and happy. She loved questing, because it reminded her of “the old days”. 
“Good to see you,” I coughed and then looked up to see Percy smiling down on us warmly, his hands in his pockets. 
“What are you doing out here all alone?” Asked Annabeth.
“Just chillin’,” I replied, leaving out the part about Hermes’ visit. 
“The other’s should be here by tomorrow, except Hazel and Frank who are at Camp Jupiter. Jason and Thalia, are in Ohio at the moment, hunting under Zeus’ commands, will be here by sunrise. Leo and Piper are already here at camp, and Clarisse was on the plane here when I called,” explained Percy. 
“We plan on meeting Hazel and Frank at Camp Jupiter near the end of the quest,” added Annabeth. 
The rest of that night is a blur, we played wave tag, but Percy had an unfair advantage because he could control the tides, and he slammed me with one. I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to be pummeled with water. Annabeth dragged me out of the ocean cursing (and laughing) at Percy. 
When we were finally exhausted we lay down on the cool sand and watched the sun’s final rays disappear over the horizon. 
When we heard angry screeching in the distance we quickly pulled our shoes on, and raced back to our cabins in order to avoid a few angry harpies. Curfew had come a bit earlier that we expected. 
Annabeth said goodnight and hugged Percy, carefully sneaking into her cabin. Percy walked me back to mine, for a few minutes we stood looking around, breathing in the cool dusk air. 
“So… the underworld, again,” he sighed.
“Yeah,” I replied quietly, “must seem like a breeze to you, since you’ve been there so many times before.”
“Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds, the first time is always the worst.”
“I know,” I muttered to myself.
Percy stared at me, question in his eyes, “Have you been there before?”
“Twice, once during the first game of Capture the Flag and I visited Nico there a month or two ago. But it’s different now, I’ve got a target on my back. I’m now the prey and that scares me.”
He put his hand on my shoulder and gave me a consoling smile. 
“And Nico, both times he was there to help me and be my guide,” I stuttered. 
“Maybe he’ll be our guide again,” suggested Percy.
“No, Percy I think he’s trapped, imprisoned,” I said, recalling my dream.
“By who?” 
“I-I don’t know, but he was definitely in the underworld, I think he’s apart of this,” I explained. 
Percy furrowed his brows and said, “Well, we’ll see in the morning, maybe the other guys know more about it.”
I hugged him and went into my cabin. 
I changed into my pajamas and set out tomorrow’s outfit and packed my bags. I had only just arrived back at Camp but now I was leaving again. 
I didn’t mind at all.
I was scared, but I was excited, I was so ready to do what I was best at. 
I flopped onto my bed and let sleep take me, and I didn’t dream. I was left to my own devices, so I sat in a forest and watched birds flit past. Anticipation and excitement finally woke me at the break of dawn. Sunlight peeked through my shutters and everything was silent.
I laced up my converse and zipped up my hoodie. 
* I decided I wouldn’t bother waking Percy yet, instead I’d take I walk. 
I traced my fingers along the freshly paint flowers on my wall. They were gorgeous, I’d have to thank Cloe and Ava a billion times the next chance I got.
I lazily ambled through the door, stomping down the three wooden steps, bouncing off the last one. I walked past every cabin stopping to stare at Artemis’ as it sat silently. She would always be my favorite, wise and kind. I kind of wanted to be a hunter, but I’m only so good with a bow and I don’t think I could give up boys, at least not till I know what having a boyfriend is like. I don’t want to live a life not knowing what love is. 
Campers were just starting to come out of their cabins, some waved to me pleasantly, some glared at me, worst of all, everyone noticed me. Not a single person didn’t stop and stare at least for a second. 
I wanted to turn invisible, I didn’t like people staring at me, whether it was out of jealousy or pity, it didn’t matter. I didn’t want them to see how unsure I was. 
Luckily, at that moment, I was ambushed. 
About eight girls and a guy came rushing out of the Aphrodite cabin shrieking and giggling. They grabbed me by my arms and dragged me through the cabin’s front door. 
I was so surprised that al I could say was, “Wha-what? Help! Stop! I- Oh Gods not make up, please get that brush away from me. No, no, no. No fake eyelashes!”
I was forced into a large poofy pink chair, in front of a Broadway lighted mirror. Two of them held me down, while the others went to work, smothering foundation on me.
“Gotta make you look pretty for the big quest!” piped one of them.
“And for Jason!” said another. 
“And Percy!” shrieked another.
They all giggled, and I caught my reflection in the mirror looking at them with disgusted horror and flawless skin. 
“Both Percy and Jason have girlfriends,” I protested, “And they’re like three years older. They are like brothers to me!” 
The girls shrugged then continued giggling and turning me into a Maybelline monster.
One took a huge powder puff and created a cloud of sparkles.  I coughed and wheezed hoping to de-glitter the inside of my lungs. All of the other campers looked fine, unaffected by the hazardous shimmer dust.
“Stop squirming,” said a blonde girl with neon pink lips, “your going to make it smudge. 
She painted my twitching eyelid with black liner, so extreme, I practically looked like Amy Winehouse. Well maybe not that bad.
I was alarmed when one of them stroke a cool liquid around my eyebrows, then pressed a paper on. 
After waiting a few seconds she ripped the paper off taking about half of my eyebrows with it. I screamed in pain. 
I’d endured many cuts and bruises but getting my eyebrows waxed was Fields of Punishment painful.
I sat for a few minutes breathing deeply, clenching my teeth. 
One of the girls began to pencil in my newly shaped brows.
Another girl coated my lips in a nice subtle pink lipstick and a sheer over gloss of bronze. 
They gave me smoky eye shadow, giving me a cool mysterious look, then plastered on huge false lashes.
With a heavenly soft brush they stroked blush onto my cheeks and defined my already strong jawline and cheekbones. 
I transformed from looking fifteen to seventeen. 
I looked like a goddess, but they were quite finished. 
The French manicured my hideous nails and curled my hair into ringlets. 
“Can it be up please?” I asked. 
The girl with the curling iron rolled her eyes, scoffing at me indignantly, but obeyed, tucking my hair into a neat ringlet ponytail with two loose even curls framing my face. 
When they were finished I didn’t look to bad, like a freakin Barbie doll, but not bad. I was just glad they hadn’t gone full pageant pink on me. 
Then they decided it was time to dress me up, this I would have none of. 
I struggled, trying to escape, messing up my perfect hair in the process. 
Somebody walked through the door, and all of the Aphrodite campers stopped when the newest arrival said, “Leave her alone guys.”
I didn’t get to see who it was fully, a slightly Indian looking girl, about seventeen, she disappeared into the crowd before I could fully recognize her. 
She clearly had authority because all of them let go, falling dead silent, I quickly headed to the door stopping to say thank you and pick up my bag.
The silence was broken by the roar of an explosion. A close explosion. I threw my bag over my shoulder and raced out the screen door. 
In the middle of the field a crater the size of a dinner table smoldered. It looked like a meteor had touched down. 
I ran up to see what it was, Leo sat in the middle of the crater rubbing his head. 
“Dude, rough landing,” he muttered. 
“What happened?” I shrieked half-amused, half-scornful. 
“Working on using my fire powers as rocket boosters,” he replied looking up at me, squinting as if he couldn’t make out my face, “Everything’s so blurry,” he said.
“Are you ready for the quest?” I asked.
“Always ready,” he replied, gesturing to his tool belt.
Just then something landed softly behind me, I turned to see Jason standing behind me casually his hands in his pockets. 
“Hey Lea,” he said, he stared at me for a second as if he was calculating why my face looked different.
“Jay!” I cried, “I haven’t seen you since Cleveland!”
I hugged him and he lifted us off the ground a little. 
He let me down, and we caught up quickly, his job as praetor was running smooth besides the daily objections from a sniveling boy named Octavian. 
Over the crest of the hill five figures emerged, their silhouettes black against the bright horizon. 
One of them raced forward and hug-tackled Jason, clearly she was his girlfriend, Piper. 
She was pretty, with perfect milk-chocolate skin, and choppy cut hair. She seemed like the type of girl I’d get along with easily. 
She saw me and smiled, “Hey, I’m Piper, you must be Lea, I’ve heard so much about you. Sorry the girls attacked you like that.”
“Same to you,” I replied and she shook my hand vigorously, “Not a problem, just please help me get these things off without taking my eyelid with it,” I said gesturing to the huge lashes.
The other people walked up all holding duffel bags. 
Percy and Annabeth stood next to each other, Percy’s arm over Annabeth’s shoulder. 
Thalia, saw me and grinned, we hugged without saying a word, she smelled like winter-mint gum.
“Hey girl,” she said.
“Hey,” I replied casually, grinning uncontrollably, the little reunion making me bubbly with joy. 
The last girl I didn’t recognize, she was tall with stringy brunette hair, pulled back in a red bandana. I could tell from her muscles and sneer she was Clarisse, the child of Ares. 
“Whatcha looking at Punk?”  she spat at me, noticing me staring. 
“Nothing,” I replied quickly, my hatred for her already developing. 
“We’re leaving in five minutes,” said Percy, cutting in. 
Piper, Thalia, Annabeth, and Clarisse all left, leaving me to hang with the guys, who had already brought there bags. Well, except for Leo, who didn’t think he needed one. I didn’t believe him at first, but then he pulled an extra shirt out of a two inch pocket and I realized the belt was magical. 
Jason and Percy chatted about being Praetor and Leo cut in with jokes every few minutes. He mentioned blowing up the Dining Hall a lot. 
I stood quietly, content with listening. Percy put his arm around me and squeezed me to his side as he bragged about how great I’m going to be at leading this quest. Jason and Leo grinned at me hopefully, in agreement with Percy. 
The girls emerged back over the hill, all carrying their bags. 
Clarisse was black with deep scarlet blood splatter pattern, which only made me more wary of her, I pressed closer against Percy’s side. 
“To the van?” asked Annabeth, looking to me for an answer. 
“To the van,” I agreed, my voice stopping short, it felt so wrong, being the one giving commands. 
“Let’s do this!” said Leo, enthusiastically, rocketing off haphazardly. He crashed into the ground tumbling forward and jumping back up. 
“Walking it is,” He said and continued forward seemingly unfazed. 
His optimism spread to me and I actually felt reassured that this quest was going to be a disaster, at least not right away. 
Boy was I wrong.

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