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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14. CHAPTER 14: THE SECRET OF POSEIDON LAKE

It was Sunday morning and all the second years were being divided off into groups for orienteering. Robbie had been right.

“OK” choked coach Setemmer on his apple core “Griffins, you three” he pointed at Tom Emma and Athena “and urr you” he gestured to Liam “and we’ll have Robbie too, where is he? Oi LELAND” he bellowed, Robbie jogged over.

“Yes coach?”

“You’re with them”

“OK” the coach strutted off importantly to sort out more teams “hey Athena”

“Hey” she replied

“Tom, Liam” he nodded his head, Tom tutted a sigh “and you are?”

“Emma Newton” spluttered Emma as she was taken by surprise

“Oh cool, nice meeting you Emma”

“You too” she blushed

“Attention!” called coach Setemmer “you have each been given a map, a compass, a card for check points and a pencil. With these few items, you must navigate as many different checkpoints as possible within the time limit. You may also realise that the checkpoints are each worth different amounts of points. At the end of the two hours the team with the most points, back within the time limit, shall earn themselves thirty team points. Oh, and don’t try to cheat, the staples print a different letter each, so we’ll know. There are twenty checkpoints all located on the map in twenty very different terrains, so be wary. Remember, the checkpoints could be anywhere in the camp, also note that there are teachers positioned near all of the buildings, so don’t even bother trying to cheat. POSITIONS!” Each team faced a different direction and in total there were around two or three of each individual team such as Pegasus. “On my whistle, three, two, ONE!” a shrill ear piercing whistle rang out through the air. Some Pegasus’ headed for the cabins, some Phoenixes into an open field and some Centaurs into the direction of the car park. However, Athena’s troop of Griffins charged into the forest directly ahead.

“Must we run” Emma panted

“You want to get there right?” Tom breathed

“Tom’s right” smiled Liam “I wanna prove the Minotaur’s wrong, and the Centaurs, just because they have strategic plans and natural instincts, they think they’re the icing on the cake.”

“So we’re wasting our energy on them?” said Emma

“I agree with Liam and Tom” Robbie interrupted

“But there’s really no need to” spoke Tom quickly, slowing up to a walk.

“I can’t believe you” whispered Athena in Tom’s ear “he’s really nice, give him a chance”

“He’s been bitten by the jealousy bug” smiled Emma

“No I haven’t! He’s just...”

“Just what?” questioned Athena

“Never mind” Tom retorted

“Which post are we going to first?” Liam asked

“The one with the most points” Tom replied

“That’s such a Pegasus thing to say” Robbie said

“How?”

“Well, we need to think like Minotaurs, we need a strategy”

“Fine, closest first, sorted”

“Tom” Liam moaned

“What? It’s a good plan”

“To lose with” laughed Robbie

“Well what exactly do you suggest?” Athena queried

“We go round the edge, look there’s five in here, that way we can zigzag across and get most of these, besides, the small pointed ones will be useful for quick stops on the way back”

“He’s right” sighed Emma

“Well, what are we waiting for?” sniggered Liam

They bunched up and set off for a nearby 10pt post. Once there, they punched holes in the sheet with the stapler on the post, it created the letter E. They then followed Robbie’s strategy, but after two more posts, they began to grow hungry and tired of walking.

“According to the map there’s a bench somewhere round here” Robbie was saying

“Great, I’m starving and my crisps won’t eat themselves” Tom mocked

Athena wasn’t paying attention, she was studying a hedge and the thought of the Mainland fell into her head, and then she saw a gap between a few bunches of leaves and while the four argued about what to do next, she snuck off. Distancing herself, she realised that her curiousness took over way too much. Peering through the hedge, she saw a sparkle of water. As she pulled herself through the gap, the sparkle turned into a beautiful, vast, shimmering surface. It glittered and gleamed with every breath she took. A small path led out into a large clearing of some kind of picnic area dirt-track. Wandering closer, she thought ‘how could this glorious place go unnoticed’. There was a sign by the edge of the glossy mirror of water, it read: Poseidon Lake’. There was also a tree near the right of the lake; in fact, there were trees all the way around it. Bedazzling pines. However, this tree was significant, one of its magnificent branches was so thick and so low to the ground that it would create the perfect seat.

Another significant aspect that Athena felt her feet unnaturally drag her towards was a grotty small decrepit shed. Panes hung loose and the roof was slightly caved in. Wondering if it was safe, she dithered over to the door, as if it was the wonderful golden, happy, yellow chrysanthemum she had picked in the graveyard on November first; her dads birthday.

However, this box-like shack was no pretty flower, and as far as she could tell, it had no connection with her dad. That fact did not stop her going through the creaking oil-less doorway and into the dilapidated building. She couldn’t help but think that health and safety would have something to say about this place.

Guilt rushed over her as she remembered her team. ‘Oh well’ she thought ‘they probably haven’t even noticed I’m gone’. She tiptoed in; the floor’s creak was worse than that of the doors. There was a dust-covered, scratchy rug on the floor and blindly, Athena tripped on it. With a crash, she fell to the floor and luckily, the building was still intact, but unluckily, she had hit her head on the sharp splintered wood that coated the floor. She had bruised it for sure, and yes, there it was, as she touched her hand to the gasping pain, she felt a small bit of blood. Another thing she noticed was a small opening round two separate pieces of wood; the mat had revealed a secret hatch. It beckoned to her and who was she to disappoint? Carefully, Athena opened its dusty surface and climbed through. It was risky and thoughtless, but with the Mainland in the back of her mind she prayed that it would be worth it.

 

It opened out into a small, dank passage way and at the end was a wall with some strange engravings at the long top-most part of it. Clearly it was in Greek, she stretched her hand to touch it and as she did, her elbow caught the wall. As it did so, the wall changed to some sort of rippling screen like the lapping edges of water. A different forest was revealed to Athena. A forest with some of the most luxuriant trees she had ever seen. It seemed to be filled with life, yet completely silent and motionless. It sounded crazy, but she made to go through its enchantment, without thinking about the fact that it was a wall. Now, she was somewhere else, a different place. A different world. Could she be in the Mainland? Ahead was a stretch of forest, behind her was a wall, with a strange Greek symbol on it.

 

Cautiously, she edged forwards into the forest and rested by an elaborate oak. Her heart was racing the questions that spilled out in her head: ‘where was she? Was it the Mainland?’ were just the main two that pumped round with her pulse. Then she spotted something ahead of her, perched on a spindly branch was a gorgeous, heavenly crimson bird. It had fiery feathers spilling from its noble head and its eyes were sharp with intriguing knowledge and wit. Was it a Phoenix? It certainly looked like one from where Athena was standing, except she didn’t see how that was possible.

Suddenly, it flapped its wings and rose from the tangling branch, and instead it fluttered gracefully over to her and roosted on her shoulder. It looked at her, just a simple gaze, as if mesmerised by this new-bee. Then its eyes filled with water and it cried! A tear, a single tear flowed from its brilliant black eye, and tumbled onto her bruised forehead. Athena felt a strong burning sensation that made her want to cry out in agony and then a tingling as she touched her hand to her face. As if by magic, the bird had healed her wound. Then it took off, just like that.

“You need not be afraid” a calm humming voice spoke, she turned, standing before her was a proud, glorious centaur. Athena’s eyes widened, was she dreaming? “Do not worry, you are perfectly awake, the first time is always shocking, your dad found it the same” Athena’s throat went dry and her heart rate had increased so much that she believed that it would beat right out of her chest.

“Where am I?” she breathed

“I think that is fairly obvious, Athena”

“How do you know my name? Who are you?”

“I knew your father, my name is Ericarni” Athena couldn’t breathe properly and she felt faint.

“How?” she managed to gasp

“He did much for my race, and for me, he was a Magikós blood, and you must be too”

“No” she panted “not me, I’m just a lonely, useless girl from Cornwall, I’m insignificant, I’m average, I’m normal! This isn’t real”

“I think we both know that this is of course, how you say, ‘reality’”

“This doesn’t make sense”

“I hope we can agree that it makes perfect sense Athena, you are of course aware of Charles’ book”

“Yes”

“Well, you must realise that this is evidence”

“This is a lot to process”

“I understand”

“Well I don’t”

“Athena you must know the legend of the Mainland”

“Yes, but that’s a legend

“And of course Diávolos” he continued

“Yes”

“Then you must also know that Magikós bloods usually find this place or are raised being taught about it.”

“What about Tom?” she said more to herself than Ericarni, but of course, he had answers.

“Ah yes, Thomas Noble, son of Timon and Demeter, yes, good friends of mine”

“What?”

“Oh yes, Tom and in fact your other friends Robbie Leland, Emma Newton and Liam Jackson are Magikós bloods also”

Athena didn’t understand, this couldn’t be happening, it just couldn’t be real.

“I presume this is hard for you to make sense of”

“You think”

“There is much more to tell you”

“Wait, I can’t handle it right now, I need to tell the others”

“Then tell you must, you only have one hour left of orienteering”

“Goodbye” she panted, then ran away, past Ericarni, as fast as her legs would carry her. She didn’t know whether to be scared or excited. “I’ll see you in a minute; I need to get the others”

Ericarni nodded his beaded head. His hair was in a flat quiff type style and it was messy and wild. His eyes were of a deep, ferocious emerald green and he had charms and beads braided into his unkempt mass of dark hair.

Athena sprinted back through the wall, up the passage, out of the shed and through the hedge.

“Athena!” Tom yelled “you’ve been gone for twenty minutes!”

“Sorry” she muttered

“Where were you?” queried Emma

“This is going to sound mad, but I was in the Mainland, I met a Centaur called Ericarni and he told me that all of us are Magikós bloods!”She blurted out.

They stared at her in disbelief.

“Sure” laughed Robbie

“It’s true!”

“Did you have tea with the mad hatter as well?” input Tom

“Tom I-”

“Someone caught the train to crazy town” giggled Liam

“Guys-” she distressed

“How did you get there?” Robbie began

“Through a forest but-”

“Did you take the psychopath?” Tom finished, the three boys cracked up

“Pretty little liar, huh?” Robbie giggled

I’m not lying!” she stressed

“I believe you piped up Emma

“You’ve only known her five minutes” Tom pointed out

“I’ll show you” Athena retorted. Emma gave Tom an ‘I told you so’ kind of face.

 

She thought they might object or tell her to shut up or crack another joke about her being insane, after all, she wasn’t sure if they were right about that, but like true Griffins, their curiousness overpowered them. They willingly, if a little warily, followed her through the hedge, down the hatch and to the end of the engraved passageway.

Wow, a dead end, nice touch” Tom laughed

“No look” Athena stressed

“Athena, it’s a wall” Liam said awkwardly, Athena sighed and pointed at the Greek letters above it.

“Great” said Robbie

“Give her a chance” Emma moaned, smiling encouragingly at Athena

“Watch” Athena took her hand from her pocket and gently touched the surface of the wall. It flickered with the forest and rippled like the sparkling edges of Poseidon Lake. They looked awestruck and bewildered shaking their mesmerised heads. Emma reached out a shaking palm and briefly touched it too. Gasping, she glanced from the wall to Athena then to the shocked group behind her.

“Now walk through” impatiently muttered Athena

“What? Are you crazy?” Robbie cried

“What?” breathed Emma “that’s barbaric”

“Weren’t you the one who said to give her a chance?” smiled Liam, grinning at Athena

“Well yes but-”

“There you go then”

Emma awkwardly placed herself in front of it, closed her eyes (in preparation for the pain that would not come) and walked right through, Athena followed. They both emerged in the same forest Athena had just walked. It was as if she had just arrived home from a too long break. The boys did not come yet.

“Ericarni!” Athena called, Emma was gazing round, mouth open in pure shock “Ericarni!” she repeated. Galloping briskly, Ericarni neared the two girls. Emma’s eyes were so wide that Athena thought they might pop out of her head.

“Hello once again Athena, and welcome Emma, to the Mainland”

“This can’t be real” panted Emma

“Like I said too Athena, the first time is the hardest”

“How do you...”

“Know your name? Your parents were dear to me, how are Galen and Maia?”

“Well, very well”

“Wonderful, Athena where are your other friends?”

“I’m not sure” she truthfully replied

“Shame, I thought that this may happen”

“What may happen?” Emma asked

“They are fighting I expect, ah boys these days, human boys”

“Do you know their parents?” Emma questioned again

“Like I said to Athena, I knew of Tom’s”

“What about the other’s?”Quizzed Athena

“I wasn’t as close to Leda and Sampson Leland, we spoke briefly, but Liam’s parents I have never known or seen before. Although, I believe his mother is called Dorkas and his father is Silas Stone, they are split, as I’m sure he would’ve told you”

“Oh” the girls said together “actually he didn’t” they glanced at each other. Silence occupied a small time frame.

“How come you don’t know Liam’s parents?” Athena broke the silence

“Well, Liam’s parents are not Magikós bloods and neither are any of his recent ancestors, but he must have some special blood somewhere in his family line or else he would not be of Magikós origin. Robbie, Tom and you Emma, are what is known as true bloods or lucid bloods, which simply means ‘pure blooded Magikós’ so most of your ancestors will be Magikós bloods. However, you Athena are what are known as a semi or demi blood, which means that you are half and half. Your father was pure, your mother is an average blood, which means human, or without special or magical blood is a better way of looking at it.”

“So my mum and my dad are...” Emma started

“Yes” interrupted Ericarni “they are Magikós bloods” Emma was once again mesmerised. Suddenly, the three boys came whirring through the wall.

“What the...?” Tom breathed

After another one of Ericarni’s explanations and introductions and speeches of Diávolos, they finally got out of the Mainland and back on their quest of orienteering. Not that anyone cared; they had just found out they were Magikós bloods and were on top of the lying world.

After three more posts, giving them six out of a possible twenty, they rushed back to the starting point with seconds to spare. However, not everybody was there yet; a couple of teams were late. Apparently, their team had earned 80pts, but the winning team (some Centaurs) had 200pts, 19 out of the 20 posts. After that shocking, but amusing performance, the five headed back to the dining hall.

Athena had found out a lot about the other two boys after their journey to the Mainland. Things like: Robbie was an only child and his birthday was two days before Athena’s, September 1st and other basic background knowledge. With Liam, she found out that he had a younger sister, Tabitha, his birthday was 16th of March and that he lived in Reading. Robbie lived in Leicestershire.

Athena was surprised to see that Robbie had continued to hang out with them for the rest of the day, much to Tom’s displeasure. She understood that he could attract a lot of attention from the kind of popular people that she found irritating, but as far as she could see, he was a nice guy. Although, she wasn’t sure whether he hung around because he felt like he had to, or whether he genuinely liked being with them. Even if he did cling to them, to Athena that was a good thing, if they were both Magikós bloods, they were both family. Families should stick together. 

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