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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20. CHAPTER 20: THE PLAN

It was Friday and it was announced in the busily noisy and over-crowded food hall that up until lunch they would study Greek beliefs to conclude on the big three topic (perhaps that would be helpful to learn how to play Hades) and after that their pending was turned into a free as they’d be doing an hour of astronomy from 8-9pm studying the stars.

Making their way to professor Kwin’s classroom in cabin 4, Tom seemed quieter than usual and, as the others had gone on, Athena decided to ask what was up.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah” he tried to smile

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, I’ve just been thinking, that’s all”

“About what? You know you can’t hide anything from me Thomas”

“Well, everything’s about to change, isn’t it?”

“I did tell you” she grinned, Tom shoved her and, grinning too, they took their usual seats.

 

Eyeing them maliciously, Seth Rogue glared as they worked. Athena wasn’t sure what his problem was... or whether he knew something they didn’t, and then she remembered what he had said before. ‘The walls have ears in this place’.

“Tom” she whispered “look at Seth”

“Must I?” he groaned

“He knows, I can tell”

“Don’t be stu-”

“He does, me too” Emma interrupted, causing Tom to jump slightly, of course Seth smirked.

“Do you ever not eavesdrop?” Tom moaned, Liam glanced up too now. Sighing, Emma continued:

“I wonder how”

“The walls have ears” Liam whispered, Seth smirked once more, before continuing with his work.

“Nutter” Tom remarked, also glaring at Seth.

 

                                                                          ***

 

It was 8pm and Athena’s group were on a lanky hill under the dark summer’s sky. They were using techniques they had learnt in class to spy the shimmering stars and draw up their very own star charts.

“Could we be doing anything worse on a Friday night?” said Persy

“Greek history with Janscombe” muttered Alex

“To think I actually used to like history, at school obviously” Tom spoke.

They had been put in to groups of five and Athena was with Tom, Alex, Persy and Maria. Robbie and Emma were with Kassandra Impey, Selene Emmis and Thera Blunt, some of the girls who had become attached to Robbie. Their friend Hanna Duddario (who was with Timmy and Liam) did not look impressed and wore a complexion of purple jealousy.

“Me too” added Maria.

“I’ve always disliked it” cut in Athena “But now I hate it- with a passion”

“Just be thankful that we don’t have to do maths” Persy stated “the Greeks were crazy about that stuff”

“Touché” Athena grimaced

 

                                                                  ***

 

 

At 13:45 the next day, the five were discussing what their trip would entail, until Robbie asked:

“What do we do for fifteen minutes?”

“We wait at the gate until exactly 2pm, and then we go through”

“We have to stand in that creepy old passageway for fifteen minutes!” Stressed Tom

“Great” Liam sighed

“Robbie’s right” agreed Athena “We’ve got to do what Ericarni asks”

Grouchily, Tom followed the others down into the passageway. Much to his disgust, they waited until 13:59 in the dark arms of the dilapidated passage.

“Let’s go” Liam breathed hastily.

“Not early!” Emma retorted, placing her arm in between Liam and the entrance.

“It’s hardly early”

“Five more seconds” Emma counted down on her watch, and then, together, they poured through.

Fumbling out the other side, they were greeted by Ericarni, who stood tall and proud, awaiting them.

“Follow me” he croaked, without introduction. They obeyed warily.

“Are we going to your lair?” Emma questioned in the silence.

“Yes” was Ericarni’s blunt and only reply. He quietly led them to Voithós’ hut.

“Does Voithós mind us being here?” Athena wondered, feeling somewhat like a criminal for no apparent reason.

“Of course he does not, he wants the hero’s success as much as us.” he half-smiled “However, that means that we must respect his home, his possessions and his decision to trust us in here” Ericarni announced, this last comment directed at Tom, who swiftly replaced the ancient flask on a cupboard. Proceeding in leading them through the dream-catcher filled hut, Ericarni led them through a dusty ramshackle door, whose feeble handle shook unblinkingly as Ericarni opened its rusty incapacitated wooden entity. Creeping cautiously through, they discovered what greeted them wasn’t anything like the senile doorway they’d seen before. Okay, well it still looked old, but the kind of magnificent old, rather than the beaten up one.

There was a magnificent large high-table in the middle of the room, standing proudly, and round it were its subjects: five tall chairs that almost matched its height. A slightly cracked and black with age spattered mirror with a golden frame hung at the back of the room and next to it was a vast Greek-patterned iron candle holder that helped provide the light and glory of the flickering flames it clasped. A set of built-in double doors, with round swivelling handles were to the right of the room. They looked as if something important and majestic waited within. To the left was a musty varnished cupboard with attached matching shelving units. A few pencils, quills and ink, compasses (of both varieties) and parchment were spread upon the shelves in various glazed boxes or pots, but the rest was bare and plain, with the odd charm scattered beneath it. Athena noticed some hay strewn across random points of the floor and one bail in the corner, with a few scuff marks surrounding it. Suddenly Psychí launched himself at her and started burying his head in her chest.

“What’s he doing here?” Smiled Athena

“Well” Ericarni began “he has a nice patch of trees to the right of the hut and Voithós looks after him when you can not. But Voithós noticed that recently he’s been flying away to try and find you, so last night, he stayed here as obviously you were outside studying the stars, and we couldn’t risk him being spotted, not that it matters so much now.”

“Why wouldn’t it matter?”

“Well all of your classmates in your group are Magikós bloods as well; I thought you would know by now.”

“So that means Seth...” Tom started

“Yes” Ericarni interrupted “even master Rogue, he’s known since he was born, you see he is a lucid blood.”

“Do the others know what they are?”

“The second-timers do, I’m sure of that, but I have reason to believe that other than you five, the first-timers are still unaware.”

“Sucks to be them” Tom grinned “do Leon and Chloe know?”

“Leon and Chloe both know, Leon was greeted by Neo and I believe Tóxo found Chloe”

“Do they com often?”

“Not to my knowledge, no, well Chloe does not, however Neo has been disappearing a lot recently, so I think he has been visiting your brother Leon and the satyrs. They discovered the mainland through a passageway to the East, rather than North-East, a more common one actually... But that’s beside the point.”

“Nice of him to tell me”

“Like we told them?”

“I guess not”

“Anyway, take a seat” Ericarni suggested “I’ll be back in a moment” he disappeared off into the double-door cupboard. A strange agitated silence passed before he returned with a large rolled up map. Once he reached the table he spoke:

“This is a map of the Mainland” spreading it out to reveal what lay upon it, he continued “it shall help us on our quest to the underworld, to find Hades”

“How” questioned Emma “surely it just tells us the locations, how will we know what obstacles are there?”

“Because it doesn’t just tell us, it shows us” at the baffled look of confusion on their faces Ericarni persisted. “Look” he pointed at his lair’s location and lightly touched the parchment. At first nothing happened, but then, a tiny silver flash like a void opening up appeared, and in its place were the words Ζεύς’ Κένταυροι. “What does that mean?” Athena quizzed.

“It means Zeus’ centaurs, this lair”

“How will we read it if it’s in Greek?”

Chárti̱s English” the map somehow rewrote itself and Athena noticed, clear as day, the words ‘Zeus’ centaurs’. “The map has a trigger word so to give it a command you must first say ‘Chárti̱s’.” Emma’s question was still unanswered and she looked fairly annoyed by that. “To answer your question” now he looked at her “Chárti̱s, show us what’s in this lair” the map obeyed, and one by one lit up the hut, the twin passageway, the valley, the mountainside and their part of the lake of secrets, and also the hall of caves which Athena knew not of, yet.

“Hall of caves, what’s that?” Tom questioned.

“Its caves within caves, where our tribe of centaurs live and lay to rest” now she knew. “For obstacles, just ask it and it’ll show you. Chárti̱s, what threats lay waiting” the maps silvery glow shone brighter than a million blinding stars. “That means it is all clear.”

“How will we know when there is a threat?” quizzed Emma

“Oh you’ll know, Miss Newton, you will know.” She looked very unsatisfied with such an open ended answer. However, the others looked curiously intrigued.

“Anyway, now you know how it works, we must now work on getting you to Hades and it is not going to be easy.” They embraced the danger like true adventurers. “However, before we begin, I must ask if any of you want to leave now, then your opportunity has indeed arisen.”

“Why would we want to leave?” Tom was confused, but Athena had a feeling that somewhere, somewhere deep down, she knew.

“Because what we plan to do will be a dangerous and treacherous journey, it will not be easy and it may not even be worth it. You must go into it with an open mind and a curious heart, because where your loyalties lie can take over you.” He paused. “So are we all staying?” No one moved an inch, nor had any intention to “Good, I thought as much, let us begin because as long as your heart is in the right place, your mind will do what is right and equal.” Athena finished the last bit with him in a hoarse whisper. Andreas had always said that when she was looking for answers or had lied and needed to tell the truth. It was scary how much of him lived on in Ericarni, how little she really understood about him. She was reminded of Anna and had a quick mournful flashback of her squeaky giggling voice. Remembering where she was and who she was with, she pulled out instantly. But that didn’t stop Tom from noticing the look in her eye, no matter how much she tried to hide it.

 

                                                                         ***

 

It was Sunday and they were basking in the sun that reflected off the waters of Poseidon Lake and when it came to lunch time they ventured off to the food hall to pick up some food. Yesterday, they had planned how they would get to Hades, as the entrance was located at the outer bounds of the ocean, near a cliff on the edge of the Mainland’s surrounding seas.

As the five sat down in the food hall to eat, for once, Athena noticed Professor Kwin marching over.

“Uh-oh” breathed Robbie

“Miss Williams will you and Thomas follow me please” She turned around and expectantly marched off, hurriedly they ran after her, as the surrounding eyes watched them out of the hall. They were taken to the Greek beliefs cabin. “Sit down” she waved her hand to two chairs in front of her desk and once they were seated she bored into them. “I know what you’re doing” Athena’s heart was racing, lightening fast, but she couldn’t know, she just couldn’t.

“Ericarni told me” her heart leapt and she couldn’t help it.

“You know Ericarni?” Athena asked as Tom gasp-laughed next to her and muttered ‘brilliant’ sarcastically.

“Of course, I’m a Magikós blood, as are you two, which I’m sure you’re aware of by now.”

“I don’t believe this, I mean seriously” Tom exasperatedly laughed

“I know what you are doing and it is all very touching and heartfelt, but you need more training, all of you” she eyed Tom, sighing as she continued “I can put on a brave face when I need to, but I don’t want to see you two get hurt, or any of the others.”

“But we have to do it” she couldn’t contain herself “We’ve got to, we need to defeat Diávolos, I have to go, I’m the hero, maybe Hades will help me-” but she was cut off.

“I know”

“We need to- what?”

“I know you have to go, you all do and I shan’t be the one to deny you that just this once, and even though I might not like it, it has to happen for all our sakes. And besides, I couldn’t persuade Ericarni otherwise” so Ericarni had beat her in an argument. Athena couldn’t help but feel impressed; after all, even Janscombe couldn’t shout her down.

“What about the others, what will you tell them, the class I mean?” Tom had a good point. She hadn’t even thought of that.

“The truth” Kwin claimed “well, not the whole truth, but we’ll say that you are doing services to the Camp, we may not fool all, but the good thing about human teachers is they never give too much away” she winked. “Anyway off you go, enjoy your free time whilst it’s still there, oh and Ericarni told me to tell you to meet him at 15:45 tomorrow after archaeology, the class will be dismissed early so you can get there in time.”

With that, she led them out “And good luck, remember I’m here if you need me.” Marching off Kwin added “don’t disappoint your father, he’ll be proud of you” of course, she’d know too. That just made her feel even worse towards him, all these people she barely knew seemed to know more about him than her, and she thought she’d known it all. After all, she’d known him all her life and he’d only known her 10 short years of his... his downfall decade. Athena turned to walk the other way as her thoughts played with her.

“Athena, food hall’s the other way!” Tom called, but she barely heard him and now she was on a gravelly track through some trees, what she recognised as the way to her cabin ground. Grimacing as he chose her over food, Tom caught up with her and forced her to a stop. “Thee, what’s wrong?”

“It’s just dad, I thought I knew him, but I don’t”

“Don’t get hung up on it Thee, there’s loads about my parents I didn’t know either, but it doesn’t mean we don’t know them.”

“You don’t understand” she brushed him aside and carried on dwindling her way to her cabin ground.

“Well, I’m trying!” he walked along beside her now, struggling to follow her temperamental movements “Help me understand, please, I’ll try. What don’t I get?” He just didn’t get it, any of it. “I know your dad’s death was tragic but-” Athena couldn’t take it anymore, he needed to know, Tom needed to know the truth. So before he could continue any further she muttered:

“It wasn’t death”

“What?”

“It was murder” she spoke more clearly now as her throat began to clear, yet still taste dry and cold “IT WAS MURDER” she bellowed “MURDER AND LIES” she couldn’t help but sob “AND BROKEN TRUST” solemnly, she broke into tears and felt pathetic and weak, but had to let it out, as much as she hated crying, sometimes it just had to be done. Grabbing her, Tom hugged her tight and close.

“It’s okay” he whispered “It’s okay.” But it wasn’t.

                                                                          ***

They planned more and more until a Sunday night of the fourth week, Athena was in the Mainland by her favourite tree with Jemeanii, Psychí and Tom.

“It all feels real now, we’re leaving tomorrow, and we’re finally doing something about it.” Athena was saying.

“I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad really” laughed Tom, she snuggled into him and Psychí to her, Jemeanii was on Toms side, finally trusting him.

“Whatever happens” began Athena “I’ll always remember what you’ve done for me”

“So cheery”

“But seriously, if anything happens-”

“If anything happens, I won’t let it happen to you.” She smiled, he truly was her best friend.

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