Camp Thárros: A New Beginning

13 year old Athena Williams believes she is an ordinary kid with nothing special about her or her life. But one day she finds a book on Greek mythology in her basement and discovers secrets about herself and her past that she never thought possible. She embarks upon a summer trip to Camp Thárros, only to find that these hidden secrets are not quite what they were cracked up to be and that a darker and more mysterious force is at work. She must complete a wuest along with her friends and encounter things far more ferocious and dangerous than any book could begin to describe.

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12. CHAPTER 12: THE ARRIVAL

Athena had waited for massive let down, like the last time that things had gone her way. But either fate was finally on her side or the fact that Thárros had finally dawned had kept up her levels of happiness.

Eventually, Athena found herself in the car, with her luggage, Jemeanii and Hilary. The long drive to wherever Thárros was would’ve at least have been bearable with Tom there. However, he had gone with Leon and Chloe, even Ophelia had gone to wave them off. Even Timothy would’ve been nice to talk too, but Athena hadn’t spoken to him since school was out. So there she was with the only company of her mother’s silent concentration as she drove and Jemeanii’s constant pecking on the lock of the rattling silver cage.

Magnificent greenery passed their car; beautiful blooming bluebells, tall long spiking grass and glorious evergreens that stretched towards the heavens. It was all very interesting at first, but once you had been travelling past these things for over an hour it became rather irritatingly boring. Although, after 1 hour and 45 minutes they finally turned off down a forest tracked path. The gravel crumbled under the pressure of the car wheels. The trees along this road were of a darker bark and they had emerald green leaves. It was fenced around the edges, which made Athena realise that they must almost be on Camp Thárros property. Just as she had expected, they were. A medium sized road sign made out of wood, pointed right and on it were the words ‘To Camp Thárros’.

Athena wondered what lurked in the black of the forest dead ahead. As they neared a large ‘Welcome to Camp Thárros’ sign that arched over head, Hilary slowed up a bit and turned into a supposed ‘car park’. All it really was was a large field. The grass was as green as anything.

“Here we are” said Hilary opening the door of the car, Athena climbed out her own side, her attention was diverted to a swarm of kids and adults bunched around a fence and gate.

“Wow, I didn’t think it’d be so crowded”

“It always is”

“You’ve been here before?”

“Briefly” Hilary shrugged the question off “isn’t that Tom?”

The red land rover emerged through archway and parked up next to them. Out popped the entire Noble family.

“I wanna go” moaned Ophelia

“Four more years” Timon patted her on the back; Ophelia had turned seven on February the 18th.

“I don’t see why we had to come” Chloe mumbled

“It could be fun” Leon laughed “hey Athena”

“Hi” she replied, blushing; Leon was quite handsome.

As a group, they joined the torrent of people and waited a while. Until, the moment Athena had been waiting for finally came around. From some sort of speaker or megaphone came a voice.

“Attention all campers” it was female “please say your farewells and enter into the gate by age category. Once in, follow your leader through to the main headquarters on the campus, thank you.” She repeated it several times until all the kids had cleared off.

As Tom and Athena went through Tom said:

“Dad had a business meeting he was meant to attend, but he missed it!”

“It’s a Saturday”

“I know, but he had to go in and he actually told them he couldn’t make it! Just to see us off! I mean what?”

“Interesting”

“No it’s not, it’s barbaric. I swear I’m the only sane person here” Athena laughed at him.

They were separated into their various age groups and then Athena’s ‘second year/ 13 year olds’ group were led out down a forest path. Along one row of trees, behind three spindly-pine-wood trunks lay tents clumped in a large pile. Lots of them. All made from the same tatty canvas material, each one bearing the same moth-eaten scars. They weren’t all that bad though, but Athena hoped that they were certainly staying in cabins and not the mangled tents. She had no idea how they were meant to survive the unearthly rain that was almost definitely doomed to strike this summer.

Following the sheep-like crowd, she realised they had turned off to set down a different filthy mud track. Soon, all the tents had disappeared behind the most humongous magnificent oak tree she had ever seen. It was large, round and perfectly circular. Its tangling branches reached out from all possible directions.

Suddenly, Tom nudged her and instead of seeing this magnifying beauty, her eyes had become attracted to something far better: about ten wooden cabins. Every single one of them had the exact same shiny finishing. Most of them looked completely desolate. There were some mysterious water features in between each one of the cabins. Looking more closely, she could see a majestic Griffin in midflight with water trickling gently into the glimmering tiny pool below. It was in between the second and third cabin along on the right. Also on the right, between the first and second cabin along, was a gorgeous centaur shooting a bow and arrow, between the third and fourth one along, stood a tall, ugly Minotaur. She grimaced. As for the left side, between the first and second cabins flew a stone-feathered Phoenix, second and third, a new-ish looking Hippogriff bound swiftly. It was not as mossy and cracked as the others and between the third and fourth was a beautiful Pegasus.

Everyone suddenly came to a halt outside the biggest, proudest cabin that was situated at the far back of the clearing, in the middle. It also seemed to have an extension either side of it. In a large oak plaque on the bit below the roof the title ‘Camp Thárros’ was engraved. The searing sun was blazing down on it like a wonderful spotlight. A thought struck Athena all of a sudden; this Camp would be the best!

“Attention” called a mysterious voice “please will all campers form two lines of first and second timers please” it seemed to be coming from some small, muffled, cob-web filled speakers that were hanging from the main block.

“Come on, line up, line up” stressed a woman, around her 40’s, with long perfect brown hair tied back into a huge bun that was perching on the top of her proud head. Everyone started shuffling wildly.

“Tom” breathed Athena, but Tom appeared to be gone. She peered through the crowd, THUMP! She had fallen to the ground like a domino.

“Sorry” laughed a tall, pointy-nosed boy, who had glossy near-black hair in a sort of natural comb over. It was all tidy and kempt, nothing like hers or Tom’s scruffy locks.

“Welcome one and all to Camp Thárros. For most of you, you came the year prior to this one, and know our regulations that we have. But for those who don’t, we have a quick task for you, follow me.”

Athena’s line obeyed and was marched off into the main block; there wasn’t much time to observe her surroundings, so she followed the heads in front of her. Eventually, they stopped in a large room that was filled with musty armchairs and squeaking coffee tables.

“This is the teacher’s room, you won’t be spending much time in here at all, if any, but this is where we gather. If you should you need us, kindly knock. Now, my name is Aminta Kwin and I am the Griffin team leader and I also teach beliefs at the camp. I’ll leave the rest of the staff to introduce themselves.”

 A woman of around 50 stepped out from the front away from the row and she was smartly dressed in some sort of robe.

“Hello children, my name is Zenobia Ranch, I am the deputy here and also the Phoenix team leader”

The next person stepped forward, this time a man. His hair was dark brown like mud and he had a thick brow. His hair was in tight curls.

“I am Ophion Janscombe” he droned, it sounded like a voice you didn’t want to get on the wrong side of “I am the proud leader of team Minotaur and will be teaching you Greek history”

Next, a stocky old but friendly-looking man stepped forth.

“Welcome, my name is Spiros Argyle and I am the Hippogriff team leader and I also teach Kataskeví studies” he smiled

Then another man spoke, his voice was softer, but harsh. It intrigued Athena. His hair was fairly straight but a tad messy and wild; he looked much younger than the other adults, Athena estimated around 28?

“Hello, my name is Nikon Day, I teach astronomy and am also the Centaur team  leader” a few girls giggled and blushed as he spoke, presumably because of his seemingly charming good looks.

“Good morning” spoke a woman with wrinkled lips and curly blonde hair, her red lipstick glistened “I am Persis Deciber and am the team leader of Pegasus; I am a supervisor here at camp”

About half the teachers had spoke now.

“Kybele Febry” curtsied a short woman with a pursuing smile “team Hippogriff and professor of myths”

“Vasiliki Augustus” a tall, lanky, long black haired woman spoke “supervisor and I belong to team Phoenix”

“Harmonia June” a red-haired woman grinned “supervisor and team Phoenix”

“Coach Theseus Setemmer” said a tall man in P.E type attire “I teach woodland and sports and am in the team of Centaur”

“Terentious Octsly” beckoned an old, withered, hunch-backed man “ I am the caretaker and the list of rules is just outside this room, if you are unclear on them” he grinned maliciously “we can have a private chat in your spare time, Minotaur” he finished, a few people gulped.

“Stavros Noford, I teach Greek alphabet and I’m in team Pegasus” he looked as if he may have been handsome in his youth; his skin was slightly sun-kissed and his hair was dark and well-groomed.

“Priam Julie” grinned a fun-looking bald man who also had slightly tanned skin “I teach archaeology and I’m in team Griffin”

“Thank you all” piped up a man of around hid late 50’s. His hair was of a pale- greying blonde and he wore round spectacles; he looked fatherly. “I am the head of Camp Thárros and I give you all a warm welcome. Camp Thárros is a place of discovery and belonging and of course friendship, but like a friend it too can be unpredictable and unsatisfying. However, I find that if you are careful and look close enough, you will see that every cloud here has a thick silver lining” he paused and took time to smile at them all. “You may also find that Camp Thárros is not all fun and games; it will test you, whether that be you knowledge or your patience and even your courage. After all, that is what we are all about.” Athena could’ve sworn that he had just taken time to glance directly at her. “So what better way to test you than a few regular chores, along with your other fellow campers, who are currently waiting in the dining hall? We must first, however, place you in your teams” he beckoned to Ms Ranch “professor, if you will the water” Ranch brought out a basin with strange Greek engravings round the side.

“Place your hands inside and cup some water with this” Kwin said as she handed round some small glasses, a bit like shot glasses really. One by one, people filled their cups with water, yet it never seemed to run out; the stone basin was only small.

“I must also explain the teams, well professors, if all but the team leaders could go and see to the second timers” they swept out the room.

“Well, first we have Phoenix, where dwell the intelligent and quick-witted, however much like their feathered friend, they can be impatient and hate to be bored. They are usually willing to help as, to them, teaching is learning too. They are comical and humorous and love to have a ‘good laugh’. They tend to think about their actions before following through with them. They learn from their mistakes and will never make the same one twice. They are determined and are team players but can obviously work very well independently when it is wished for or desired, but they can sometimes have a habit of thinking too much about what they want and not what others want. The Phoenix represents the healers and rebirth as well as their red colour. ‘A rose among thorns’ is a saying they have acquired and their chant, if you like, is ‘the key to strength is in the heart of the mind.’”

“Next, Griffin, they are noble and try their best to do what is right and not what is selfish. Bravery beyond belief is one aspect to them, but they are mostly wise in what they do as they are generally intelligent and not one is known to be stupid. They have both mental and physical strength and are friendly and willing to give anyone a second chance. Daring is another thing that they are and this leads to them getting caught up in the moment, therefore causing them to act before they fully think upon what they do which can lead to recklessness. They are courteous, generous, never afraid to be who they want to be and don’t care of what others think of them; they stick by their friends. They tend to let go of things more easily than the average person. They are forgiving and try to see the best in almost everyone. They are open to new ideas and new people and they will always listen, even if it’s not what they want to hear. However, they can have quite a bit of a temper and can take time to get their noble head round things and see it from a rational point of view. Curiousness; they live to explore and seek to be one step ahead of everyone else. They have honour. Their representation is the fire, the burning desire in our hearts; what keeps us alive. Their colour is gold and in a manner of speaking they are ‘the light of the way’ and their chant is ‘admitting cowardice is bravery”

Athena wondered how much longer this would take.

“Of course that brings us to Centaurs, who are competitive and love a good challenge and desire to be the best at their craft. They are powerful and crave to be loved or liked by those whom they care for. They have knowledge of rare ‘inner-circle’, darker, evil things. However, they usually use this intellect for the greater good. They are huntsmen and have natural reflexes and are very instinctive. Also, their instincts are almost always correct. They adore hard work and are not put off when being placed in new situations. They are cautious and very careful about what they say and how they word it; a key tactic for manipulation. Cowardly they are not, but some have been known to place their own life before someone else’s. Some can also be judgemental and rank people in a sort of hierarchy. Their temper can control them sometimes and they are fiery because of that aspect. They are team players and leaders. They are wild at heart and all of them have a place in which they can hide away from the world. Their minds are good, but can occasionally be used for the wrong thing. They represent the wild and the power that that can enhance you with. Their colour is green and ‘seek to be best’ is a motto used and their chant is ‘to win is to know you are best.’”

“Now we have the Minotaur’s; they can be selfish and prefer to keep themselves to themselves, surprisingly, enabling them to be good at keeping secrets. Help they will, if they are pleased with you, but if not, they shall not. Like the Phoenixes, they enjoy a good laugh and enjoy telling stories that others will find humorous. Acquiring the wisdom of war means they enjoy history and learn from it, also allowing them to have strong and great tactics. They can be cunning and devious, but this only makes it easier for them to have a constant plan or strategy. They are ready for anything, but, ironically, they can be lazy. Obviously this causes them to be hypocritical. Also, they hang on to things, feelings, memories, people; they hate to let go. This causes them to have a very good memory and analysis of people. Always are they wary of what’s going on and are alert. Independency holds a strong value and they hate to admit that they need help. They are quite brave, but there are some things that they would rather run from. They are stubborn and their symbol is battle. Their colour is grey and a common motto is ‘strategy is key.’ Their chant is ‘ready for anything, but to be ready for anything you must be tactful.’”

“Now, team Pegasus. Well, they are flirtatious and appear to fall in love quite easily, perhaps that is because they are loving and affectionate. They love you for who you are. They are gossipy usually and always know the latest news. However, they are vindictive and always have a strong fiery passion for revenge. Tolerable they are, but they can get on peoples nerves. Things that they hate include being restricted and many have been known to get in trouble for it. They are very temperamental, resulting in unreasonable changes in mood which leads to them being hard to control. However, they are true to themselves and find it difficult to keep secrets. They aren’t as open to new ideas and prefer to do things their own way, with a plan and a schedule. Also, they can be hard to figure out, as there are many hidden sides to them, some of which they are unwilling to show. A bad mood with them is not good to witness. However, they are hopeful and expect the best from people and can be too optimistic sometimes. They are very honest and sensitive and usually rather heavenly and desirable as people want to be them. They are compassionate and need everything to be perfected. They are gracious but also very stubborn. The Pegasus’ represent the air and the world around us, that we might fly high and discover what cannot be discovered. Their colour is purple. A motto commonly used to describe them is ‘flatteringly hard to figure out’ and their chant is ‘being true to yourself is being true to others, and that’s how you fly above the rest.’”

“And of course, last but by no means least: Hippogriff. A team that, strictly speaking, is not technically a Greek myth, but it was more for those who perhaps belong in more than one team, creating this marvellous new team. They are loyal and can be sensitive, but in a way that they want to make others happy. They put others first and tend to be selfless and they are proud of who they are, causing some aggression and regret. They are affectionate and care for those who respect them and you must gain their trust. They are just and fair, behaving to what is morally right and equal. They aren’t afraid of working hard because it gives them something to achieve, to live for; it keeps them alive, so to speak. Also, they are faithful and suit having a few close friends. As well as this, they are peaceful when in a good mindset. They are forgiving, but will usually only give one second chance, as it makes it hard for them to trust you again. They are do-gooders and can be afraid of breaking the rules, but may push the boundaries. They’re angelic once in their natural happy place, much like the creature itself. Also, they are capable and will do whatever it takes. They are reliable and you can count on them to ‘save the day.’ They consider people’s feelings constantly, but will only act if they have good feelings about you. The Hippogriffs represent the water, that which keeps us flowing inside and their colour is blue. A common motto is ‘loyalty is just’ and their chant is ‘living is to be loyal to you, proud is to be who you are.’”

“So there we have it, the six teams, now whilst I have been talking your cups have been taking in the information, I would like you now to place your hand in your cup and mix it a tad- to stir the knowledge.”

Athena didn’t have a clue what she was doing, however she patiently obeyed. As she did place her hand in and gave it a mix, the water misted, flashed slightly and glowed golden. Then something extraordinary happened; the water was now a glimmering, thick, gold colour.

“Now drink” the head said, a few people looked at each other in confusion, but with a bit more encouragement they sipped the water. “My name is Zenon Tharrein by the way” he continued. Athena wasn’t sure if that meant much, but she persisted in gulping the drink. It tasted of fear, but bravery. It tasted of anger, and courage, and strength. Its taste was bitter- sweet, but it was the best taste she’d ever had. And if the golden colour hadn’t been enough of a giveaway, the sip had. It was from then that she knew that she belonged. She belonged to team Griffin.

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