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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17. CHAPTER 17: THE LEGEND OF HOPE FOUNTAIN

“How did it go?” Ericarni asked, looking concerned. Clearly he knew what Zeus could be like.

“I’m not really sure”

“Come on, let’s meet the herd”

After a while Athena said:

“I’m not ready to be a hero Ericarni”

“Not yet”

“Then how will I be a hero”

“Some of it will come naturally, and the rest is down to how much you want it and how much you train”

“What if it doesn’t? Come naturally I mean”

“Athena, trust me, trust Zeus and trust Deménos, don’t let his suffering be for nothing; he knows he did that for you.”

“Did what?”

“We’re here”

Athena hated it when people didn’t answer her questions.

She glanced around, it was a large hilled-surrounded clearing; the hills seemed endless and the trees behind them (where Athena had just emerged from) would provide great shade. There was also another brilliant blue lake, as vast as Poseidon Lake. It was situated at the base of several hills and had rivers winding through more, like a valley. And galloping near it were five wild looking centaurs.

“Is that...?” Athena began, gazing at the centaurs from the hill.

“Yes, those are some of the members of my herd”

“Am I going to meet them?”

“Of course! I think the more we understand one another’s families, the more we can understand each other” Ericarni smiled “this way”

He took her down an awkwardly steep part of the hill, but eventually they were faced with the glittering sights of the lake as their feet touched down onto the flat grass.

“Ericarni!” one centaur called as he trotted over

“Hello Kynigós” Ericarni replied, Kynigós looked around the same age as Ericarni, although, hi hair was of a dirty sandy blond that stuck out at odd ends. His hair too was beaded and had the occasional dreadlock.

“And this must be Athena” Kynigós guessed

“Of course” Ericarni established, as the other four centaurs gathered round.

“Pleasure meeting you Athena, hero”

“I’m Ágrios” one centaur with roughed up, pale brown hair and handsome grey eyes said

“My name is Fýsi; it’s an honour, Moíra”

‘Who was Meer-ra?’ Athena thought. Fýsi had golden eyes, much like her own, and his hair was of a dark tree-bark brown. As for his beaded hair, there were strips of grass braided into it and a miniature medallion hanging from a crisp feisty dreadlock. Then two older looking centaurs (who must have been in their fifties) emerged to the front of the minor crowd.

“So this is Moíra?” one spoke, he had long greying brown hair and creases by his eyes of on his stern forehead.

“Indeed” confirmed Ericarni

“Hmm... doesn’t look like much, are you sure?”

“Yes Vélos, I am quite sure” Vélos’ eyes were of such a sharp, dark, bitter-brown, that they were very near to being black. Surprisingly, the next centaur was female; she had flowing dark hair with grey roots.

“Come now Vélos, the girl barely just found out who she really is and she is only a child, give her a chance” the woman spoke “I’m Tóxo, it’s good to finally meet you, Moíra”

Why did they keep calling her that? Suddenly, a much younger looking centaur, perhaps only a few years older than Athena herself, galloped over to the crowd.

“Whose this?” he said energetically when he reached Athena

“This is Athena Williams, the hero” Ericarni stated

“Oh, the famous hero, nice to meet you, I’m Neoláia but you can call me Neo” he grinned. Neo must’ve been about 16, he reminded Athena strongly of Leon. In fact, he had the same dark hair, but his eyes were beautifully green, like fresh cut grass.

“You too” she awkwardly added

“So this is my herd Athena, my family. Of course, we all know yours, or at least our ancestors did” Ericarni finalised

“Ericarni, a word” Vélos called, and Athena had a feeling that Ericarni had to go; it was almost like an order. From what she’d seen of Vélos he seemed like the type used to getting his own way.

“I’ll be back in a moment” he said to Athena “Kynigós will show you round” Kynigós bowed his head and Ericarni trotted off to an impatient Vélos. All of the other centaurs scattered and bowed to Athena before returning back to whatever it was that centaurs did. Athena glanced over at Kynigós.

“Come” he said, so she followed him through a narrow, battered frail-looking gate in between two towering hills, and down a swift tight valley. It opened out into a large cave entrance. Next to the cave was a log-cabin like building with a stable-type door; it was built into a hill, camouflaged with leaves, beads, feathers and a unique humming dream catcher.

“This is our oldest herd member of fifty-six years: Voithós. He will heal your wounded arm Athena” Kynigós claimed, Voithós emerged from the door and invited them in to what was clearly his home

“Welcome Kynigós” he croaked “Moíra” he added, nodding his head in her general direction. He led them into a back room where stretchers, a few strands of healing hay and beds awaited them. The entire shack had trees growing inside it, with the trunks bursting out through the roof and layering the wood in leafs for camouflage. There were leaf hangings and beaded charms over every mottled wall. Voithós needn’t ask what was wrong with Athena, he sat her on a bed and started soaking her arm in some strange clear liquid. It smelt strongly of herbs and lavender.

“This shall sooth your pain Moíra. This was a manticore scratch wasn’t it?”

“Yes” acknowledged Athena

“You’re lucky to be alive; they’re unforgiving, treacherous creatures. Perhaps that is why Diávolos inhabited their company.”

“It could’ve hurt me more than this without killing, so why didn’t it? Why didn’t it take its chance to get its own back on humans and Magikós bloods alike?”

“Moíra, even manticores can forgive, in fact it celebrated your very existence, let’s leave it there”

“How long until she is healed?” quizzed kynigos

“By the end of this week her arm should be healed, if she bathes it in water. As for the small cuts on her face, they too shall fade soon enough” the scars on her face would be nothing to the pain within. Having to do her dad proud, to not fail him, it was impossible. Voithós was now wrapping her arm up in a sling. “There” he commented “that’s all I can do for now”

“Thank you” Athena gratefully added

“I’ll be back later Voithós, but Athena needs to be shown around”

“Of course” accepted Voithós as he began to clear away the liquid that Athena’s gash had been bathed in. “Goodbye Moíra” his soft, crackled voice called from the back of the cabin, just as Kynigós closed the door behind them. Voithós’ hair was long and straggly grey. Despite all of the charms in his cabin, Athena only caught sight of two braids in his hair.

“Voithós is our healer, he has much more respect round here than our leader Vélos. Vélos is rather dictatorial”

“He seemed it” Athena muttered

“This” exclaimed Kynigós, gesturing to the cave. “Is one of the exits and entrances to the Mainland, it is most commonly used by those who dwell around the Passing in your world”

“What’s the Passing?”

“The Passing is an area of your world in which Magikós bloods inhabit alone, there is another cave entrance and exit there, identical to this one, together they create the twin passageway”

“What’s it used for?”

“Resources, deliveries, quests, general pathways, anything!”

“Do the creatures use it?”

“Those who are permitted, yes”

“Who’s permitted?”

“Us centaurs, griffins, satyrs, onocentaurs and other ‘human’ or special blood intelligent life”

“But griffins aren’t part man”

“Griffins are curious and loyal; we can trust them so they are allowed. However, we must sometimes accompany them.”

“Oh”

“Let’s continue, shall we?” they trotted back up the valley and eventually rested by the glorious shimmering lake Athena had previously spotted. “This is Lámni Mystiká”

“What?”

“It’s Greek for lake of secrets”

“What’s so secret about it?”

“Now that is the secret” It was dark now, the blue was rapidly fading and turning to black. Ericarni bounded over.

“Athena, time to go” he said

“Okay, bye Kynigós and thank you” Kynigós bowed his head. Ericarni marched Athena back up the hill and through the dank tree clearing.

“What did Vélos want?” she asked

“He doesn’t think you’re the hero”

“Why?”

“He says he needs proof, so I told him about Deménos, of course he knows how unforgiving manticores are so he didn’t believe you could’ve escaped alive. But you did! How much more proof does he need?” Ericarni sounded hysterical “anyway, we need to get back quick and safely this time, it’s seven in the evening and far too dangerous to spend the time dawdling.”

“How do you know what time it is?” Athena was impressed

“The sun’s position. Anyway, hurry and climb onto my back. Vélos would hate it, being treated like a common stallion. What he doesn’t know can’t hurt him”

Athena obeyed and almost as soon as she had clambered up onto his back, he whispered “hold tight”. Ericarni reared up, and then began to gallop at full speed through the trees, dodging and weaving when necessary. Athena clung on his back for dear life; even she had to avoid the occasional branch as they flew at her face. Eventually, he slowed to a canter and then a careful trot round in a circle before coming to a standstill.

“There we go” Ericarni said, Athena hopped down, trying not to sway. Suddenly, she was reminded of why she had only ever been horse riding once. “I expect your dinner shall be served now, your fellows will be in the food hall”

“Its okay” she stammered “I’m not hungry”

“Farewell Athena” Ericarni was about to trot off when...

“Wait! Back there, why did everyone call me mirror or something?”

“They were calling you Moíra, Meer-ra”

“Yes that, what does it mean?”

“It’s Greek for fate” he was about to go again

“Why were they calling me fate?”

“Goodbye Athena”

“Why?” she demanded, but all Ericarni said was “don’t go wandering off again” and his words were swallowed with him into the darkness of the pines. Now she had another unanswered question.

 

                                                                  ***

 

“Where were you?” stressed Tom as she arrived back to the hall. “And what happened to your arm?”

“I’ll tell you” she whispered to the four “but it’s a long story, and we’ll have to go someplace quiet”

The five of them excused themselves and took shelter in the trees. Athena launched into the story of the manticore and finding out she was the hero and meeting Zeus and Ericarni’s herd, and Deménos’ past too. By the time she was finished it was 20:00 and they had one hour before cabin time. They couldn’t quite believe it and Athena was bombarded with questions about herself that even she didn’t know the answer to.

Eventually they settled down and took off to their cabins. Emma and Athena were lying awake in bed.

“What’re you going to do?” Emma quizzed

“Whatever I have to I guess” Athena blankly answered

“How will you know what to do?”

“I’m not sure, I haven’t really thought of that, but we’ll figure it out, and Ericarni and Zeus will tell us”

“It’s a real adventure! I didn’t know they could be so real!”

“It’ll be a dangerous one”

“But it’ll be worth it, right?”

“Right” Athena agreed that was for sure.

 

                                                                       ***

 

Athena found herself (the next day) in a Greek myths classroom with Professor Kybele Febry. They were learning about the adventures of Odysseus and were told to think up their own short hero story to write for their Thursday activity.

Then it was another archaeological lesson in which they were fossilising their pencils and various other items that they would have to dig up next Monday. Seth could not laugh at Tom for the ice pack now, but he certainly made the most out of Athena’s injury. Finally, it was lunch and they settled down on a lunch patch of grass.

After that, they went to cabin 7 for Spiros Argyle’s Kataskeví studies. Once there, they began brain storming design ideas for a clay vase, pot or ornament. They were told that they would have the Thursday’s two periods of ‘pending’ to finish designing and create their sculptures, ready to be cooked for glazing on Saturday and painted next Tuesday. To finish off the day they had Greek alphabet. Professor Noford went round the class, as they were feeding back the information that they had found out about their names.

“Let’s start from the top of the register, who might that be... Ahh Damon! If you please”

“My name means to tame, to subdue, and to kill”

“Zak” “Clean innocent” “Persy” “Destroyer, soldier, hero” Athena flushed at the word hero, and Seth sniggered maliciously. “Sophia” “Wisdom” “Thera” “Lustrous” a few boys laughed. “Maria” “Their rebellion” “Eris” “Strife” “Rhachel” “Ewe” “Kosmos” “Beauty and order” he looked embarrassed. “Erastos” “Beloved” “Elektra” “Bright, shining” “Alex” “Defender of mankind” she looked proud, Seth frowned. “Hanna” “Grace or favour” “Selene” “Moon” “Timothy” “Honouring God” “Pan” “Heard man” “Theron” “Hunter” “Kass” “She who entangles men” “Liam” “Positive defender or warrior” “Robbie” “Famous” with that came the familiar girlish giggling “Melanie”

“Face only a mother could love” muttered Tom, those nearby giggled and Melanie shot them all a dirty stare.

“Black, dark” She replied “Iris” “Rainbow” “Emma”

“Here we go” Tom uttered again

“Emma means universal, full, kind and very wise” “Tom” “Great, able to overcome the toughest challenges and worthy” Seth scoffed “Mark” “Defence or of the sea” “Louk” “Light” “Simon” “Flat or snub-nosed”

“Not wrong there” laughed Persy

“Oh and yours was completely accurate” retorted Simon

“Settle down” called Noford, then he continued as Simon and Persy stared it out “Nico” “Victor of the people” “Seth” “One who dazzles” he grinned spitefully “Phil” “Friend” “Paris” “Wager” “Chara” “Joyful” “Zosime” “Likely to survive, survivor” “Athena” “Goddess of wisdom, arts and crafts and all round bravery” Seth laughed again. “And lastly, Barbara” “Foreign, strange”

“Wonderful! Now, as we can see, our names can actually define aspects of us, whether it is a good or bad aspect...” Noford’s speech continued until the end of the activity. He awarded five points to each team before dismissing them.

Wednesday came and they had astronomy with Professor Day in cabin 5. They were being taught how to read star charts and view constellations. All too soon, the subject Athena had been dreading was up: Greek history. It was in cabin 2 with Professor Janscombe, the Minotaur team leader.

As they entered the room, Athena could already feel his dislike towards her and the rest of the Griffins. The feeling was mutual. Once the hour was finally at an end and they’d eaten lunch, they went back for round two. Countless times he mocked them, causing the Minotaurs to laugh uncontrollably and Seth to sneer viciously. Eventually, they finished the day off with a Frisbee game and they each scored points for their team depending on where they came in total. The Hippogriffs got three, Minotaurs five (due to cheating), Phoenixes seven, Griffins ten, Centaurs fourteen and Pegasus’ eighteen.

Thursday brought another intriguing astronomy session, a short hero story in myths and two hours of creating Greek pots out of clay. Needless to say, Athena got more clay on herself and in her hair than on the actual sculpture.

Friday involved an entire day of team building exercises and more point scoring, and then came Saturday. First, sports and woodland in cabin 8. They did a write up of yesterday’s activities, and then it was time for Kataskeví studies again.

“What’re you going to do in your frees after lunch?” Liam asked

“I think I might go and see Ericarni again, he’s been avoiding a lot of my questions” Athena responded

“Everyone else is going to swim in the lake by the sports ground, aren’t you coming?” Robbie announced

“No thanks” So at the end of the lesson, Athena made her way to the mainland.

Ericarni was no there immediately, instead she was met by who she recognised as Fýsi.

“Ericarni’s been expecting you, come” he voiced, she obediently followed him to where the centaur’s lair was.

“Athena” Ericarni trotted over “I knew you’d come, you want more answers, I’m afraid now is not the time; something has happened. I need you to meet me at the entrance at mid-night tonight. There is someone you need to meet.”

“Why mid-night? Why not now, I’m free now?”

“You’ll see, I need you to go, Fýsi, if you would”

“Wha-why?” But Fýsi was already leading the way back.

Athena was back on Thárros turf and she ran to the lake Robbie had said about; it was a scorching hot day and she needed to cool off too. She decided not to dwell on what had just happened, she knew she’d find out Ericarni’s strange secret tonight.

“That was quick!” Robbie expressed, he, Emma, Liam and Tom had their legs in the water.

“Yeah, he sent me back; he was busy” she lied, Tom could tell.

“Well, I’m going swimming, anyone else coming in?”

They simultaneously shook their heads. Robbie shrugged and, as he was already in his swim shorts, he pulled off his shirt and jumped in. The girls nearby watched and giggled annoyingly, as he swam over to talk to Persy.

“Show off” Tom remarked

“Jealous” Emma laughed over her bulky astronomy book.

 

                                                                   ***

 

It was mid-night and Athena had snuck out of her cabin and was just emerging into the Mainland. Ericarni was patiently waiting, as he always did.

“Where are we going?” she whispered as Ericarni led her through some pines. He did not answer. Instead, he stopped and Athena heard snapping twigs as something moved closer. Suddenly, a brilliant golden-feathered head emerged from the darkness. Its hair feathers were ruffled at the back and it had feathers spilling down its front. A luminous gold. Its forelegs were bird-like and it had razor sharp talons, fit to kill. The creature’s beak was enveloped closed. As it swept closer still, Athena saw its lion-like hind quarters. Its long twisting tail swished uncertainly at its rear. Protruding from its back, a pair of gorgeous fiery wings flapped nervously. As for its eyes, they were a bemusing black, cocooned in mystery. On its right eye, a thick triangular scar came from above the lid, to just below its eye.

Its beak made a curious clicking noise.

It looked beautiful, Athena was speechless; it was as if she were in a trance. It drew her in, so daunting, so powerful, so... so beautiful. This was no beast, it was no monster, it was a source of most enchanting beauty.

“Griffin” she muttered

“Yes, one of the last in the Mainland; his pride left him behind when the Minotaurs destroyed their old home”

“So they abandoned him?” queried Athena

“No, no, nothing of the sort, he was left behind” Ericarni claimed

“Surely that means he was abandoned”

“No” Ericarni pointed out quite sternly “let me put it simply, it’s a hard circumstance to put lightly, but I shall try my best. Perhaps it would be best if I explained it from the beginning”

Surprisingly, Athena did not feel like this explanation was going to become a lecture, for the first time in her life, she felt completely interested, plus she had to respect Ericarni, a centaur!

“Many years ago the griffins and the minotaur’s had a, shall we say, disagreement. They were repulsed by each other, not in the ways that they were different, but how they could be similar. The way’s in which they were the same set them apart, here’s one of the reasons why. Thirteen years ago, when this griffin was just one year old, something unforgivable happened. It was by Diávolos’ command. Anyway, this is the legend of hope fountain...”

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