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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27. CHAPTER 27: THE SECRET OF THE LAKE OF SECRETS

Their screams were ruining their voices. Despite falling through the undiscovered depths of the cave Athena somehow knew, deep down, that they’d be safe. Sure enough after seconds in the whirring darkness they were catapulted into what she only knew as some kind of water. Luckily, each one of them landed about a metre away from the next in a kind of messy circle. Resurfacing, Athena gasped for air as the water choked her lungs.

“Is everyone okay?” Emma coughed. The familiar voices of the other four rang out in spluttered ‘yes’’ until Emma was satisfied.

“Where are we?” choked Liam.

“In some kind of river” spattered Tom

“I gathered that much”

“I don’t know” Athena truthfully said, trying to keep her head above the water. “Let’s get a better look” They swam breathlessly to the side and one by one helped each other out. In awe, they were silently stood gazing into the rapidly flowing river and Athena was sure that she recognised it, but the hilly surroundings seemed new.

“I know which river this is!” declared Emma

“You do? Oh how surprising” Tom mocked sarcastically

“It’s a river that runs off from the Lake of Secrets, the Sacred River”

“That means we can’t be far from Ericarni’s lair” Athena speculated.

“Actually, far from it” Emma corrected “the Sacred River runs through the Mainland...so to put it simply-”

“We could be anywhere” Robbie finished

“Yes, I’m afraid so”

“So we’re not in the Puzzle Room” Liam guessed

“Nope, the Portal Key alters surroundings to form a portal through either dark or light, depending on where you are, so there’s no telling when it’s a portal or when it’s danger. It’s just one of its many mysteries.”

“So the sword must be near here” Athena announced

“I assume so; my guess is in the lake.”

“Isn’t that a tad obvious?”

“That’s why we’ll split up again”

“I’m going in the river”

“Athena”

“We have to split up, remember?”

Emma couldn’t argue this time, nor could she the last.

“Liam, go with her” Emma ordered

“Sure” he shrugged

“I’ll take Robbie and Tom to search the surrounding area; it could be anywhere so keep your eyes peeled.”

Everyone split off and Athena and Liam plunged into the icy depths of the river. The river itself wasn’t too deep so they had enough time to hold their breath and look at the same time. However, no matter how far they swam along or rummaged in the wrath of reeds, no glinting sword could be found. Discouraged and cold, the two gave up secretly and hauled themselves out.

“I don’t get it!” said a frustrated Liam “we landed in the lake, it should be there!”

“Well it’s not, we’ll look again later”

“Sorry to shout...I just... want to get back to camp”

“You didn’t have to come”

“But I wanted to! I promise I did, I just miss feeling at home that’s all. Don’t get me wrong, I love helping and we’re friends, but it’s just hard...I just”

“I know exactly what you mean. Home always seems so far away, even when it’s close.”

“I just never feel cut out for this kind of thing, like I’m not brave enough”

“Don’t be stupid, of course you are”

“I don’t think I am, do you remember on our first day when we were put into our teams and we had that cup?”

“Yeah”

“Well, before mine went gold it went blue, for Hippogriff.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, I guess no one in my family’s brave anyway”

“Don’t say that, I don’t believe that”

“It’s true; my dad’s evil and a coward, so is my mum. I don’t even know how I’m a Magikós blood, no one else in my recent family is.”

“How is your dad evil?”

“He cheated on mum for most of their marriage and with loads of different women and even when she knew he still straight up denied it-even when we all knew. He lied to her, he made her think she was crazy and, before long, she became depressed. And now she takes it out on us, not purposefully, but, me and my sister, we get upset sometimes because of it.”

“I’m so sorry. Do you ever see your dad?”

“Ha, no, and I couldn’t even if I wanted to; he’s a drunk. I haven’t seen him in years; social services won’t let me near him, nor will mum.”

“Oh” she didn’t know what else to say. He’d had a tough life too, a lot worse than hers.

“I’m sorry if I’m overwhelming you. I just hate him, you know? He doesn’t deserve to be alive, not like your dad.”

“At least he lives with the guilt”

“As if he even feels guilty” Liam sighed “you aren’t going to tell the others all of this are you? I don’t like people knowing, I don’t know why I even told you”

“Of course not, you can trust me”

“Thanks. We’re quite similar; I think that’s why I was drawn to you and Tom because he’s been with you through all these horrible things. I guess a part of me hoped he’d do the same because he’s been used to it and of course the fact that bad things have happened to you, so you both understand. I’m sorry; I just needed to tell someone here”

“I guess we are, do the people back home know?”

“I did have a best friend back there that knew everything, but he moved to France two years ago with his family. Other than that, my school friends that I’m not really as close to just know he cheated.”

“Did he ever hurt you, your dad I mean?”

“He tried. He hit me when I was really young if I was badly behaved, but not hard. As I grew older he couldn’t risk it.”

“What about your sister?”

“Oh god no, I always protected her, she’s nine so...”

“And your mum?”

“There’s not a lot I could do for her. When he used to be drunk he’d get aggressive and stuff, but he’d never physically hit her really badly. That’s why I’m sure a part of him did love her, but she loathed him after a while. He just wasn’t the man she fell for.”

“And I thought I had it bad”

“Well I’m okay now; it’s just mum that gets a little upset sometimes. I don’t know how I could’ve coped if she died and Tabitha did too. I mean I’d have to go into care for a start. But you were close with your dad and I’ve never been close with either of my parents. I’ve always been more of a friend over family kind of guy. Both are important though. More to the point, you do have it bad, I did.”

“Well we’ve all got each other to look out for us now: me, you, Emma, Tom, Robbie, Ericarni, Kwin, need I go on?”

“No”

“See the point is we’re never alone as long, as we’ve got the people who care about us.” They smiled at each other.

“We can’t find it anywhere” stressed Emma, emerging out of nowhere.

“We’ve looked all around” Tom told them “nothing”

“Any luck?” grinned Robbie

“No” they droned

“Oh well, we need rest so we’ll look in the morning” decided Emma

They each took a pill and dried out by the fire in a cave where they rested up, bed-less and blanket-less for the night.

 

Outside it was thundering and the monstrous sound echoed round the cave that they snoozed in. The night came over blacker than black and as morning dawned, even its bright boldness could only subside it to grey. Athena woke up in the morning to the charcoaled grey sky and the sound of Emma and Robbie’s voices. From what she could see, Liam was just listening and as for Tom, he lay mumbling away to himself next to her. Finally she got up and went to join the other three.

“Hello Athena” Emma greeted her cheerfully “good sleep?”

“Alright, what’s the time?”

“4 o’ clock in the afternoon, but we didn’t turn in until 4 in the morning”

“I’ve been asleep for twelve hours?”

“Well yes, but you’ve been busy and I expect the storm kept you up” the rain still drizzled outside the cave.

“Morning” said Tom, materialising from the cave.

“Morning” scoffed Emma “did you hear the thunder last night?”

“There was thunder?”

“Yes! And for the record it’s gone 4 o’ clock in the afternoon”

They waited round for another hour, discussing where it could possibly be, before venturing out on another trek around the rampaging river. After another hopeless hour or so of that, the unsuccessfully tramped back to the river where they were first dropped into. Once back there, Athena spotted something on the glittering water’s edge as they came round a hilled corner.

“I can’t believe it!” Emma stressed, but Athena wasn’t paying any attention; her eyes were hooked on the silver shiny sparkle on the water’s edge.

“No” she muttered to herself in disbelief as she wandered over to it with an absent mind.

“Athena?” came Robbie’s voice. Once again she was transfixed. They couldn’t have missed it...was it the sword? Slowly, she bent down and her hand gently lapped in with the teal river. Then she felt it: the cold metal of the Secret Swords hilt. Carefully, she pulled it out, delicately holding it as if it were a trophy. The water latched on to it, like it didn’t want to let go and it sparkled down the blade beautifully.

“No way” murmured Tom

“But we can’t have missed it” cried Emma

“Looks like we did” Liam said coolly

“Athena, can I see it?” she passed it to Emma, relieved that the weighty thing was out of her palm, yet feeling somewhat empty without it. “Goodness” she gasped

“What?” Athena quizzed

“It’s one of the three swords of Poseidon, see this?” she pointed to wave like symbol on the hilt. “All three were engraved with them and given separate names. They were created for Poseidon as a gift centuries ago, but after a few days each of them mysteriously vanished and reappeared somewhere obscure. None of the swords stay around for very long. The three each have special hidden powers: the Sword of Justice is the sword of a warrior, a hero; it sets right any wrong doing to the foretold. The Sword of Bereavement settles sorrow, death and brings emotion to the foretold. And of course the third, the Sword of Secrets, who’s mystifying and strong powers still remain undiscovered. It is also said that, despite each of the swords answering to Poseidon, they are so magically developed that they each have a foretold companion. However, each tested companion has not survived with it so I don’t know why Hades reckons he has a chance.”

“Is it a prophecy thing?”

“Yes, they call the three companions ‘the armoured trio’, except nobody actually knows who they are.”

“Strange, do we have to take it to Hades?”

“I’m not sure, if the Soulless come back though we can give it to them.”

Athena wandered back to where the sword had lay waiting on the water’s edge. It had reflected in there so beautifully. Something else caught her eye: something with a turquoise tinge, and it wasn’t the river. She reached in to pull it out and there in her hand was a palm-sized piece of pottery. It was aquamarine and ridged with rusts of dark brown in the grooves. Athena would recognise it anywhere; it was exactly the same sandy piece of clay pot that her father’s ashes rested in. But it couldn’t be here, she had seen them lower it into the grave over three years ago. Unless an exact replica had been made to commemorate him here too, it just wasn’t possible. The Mainland was as much his home as Perrenporth was so it made sense to immortalise him here.

“What’s that Thee?” asked Tom as she wiped her eyes

“A piece of pottery, the same as my dad’s vase-pot” she replied. Tom crouched next to her.

“It can’t be”

“It is”

Tom rolled it through his own fingers before handing it back.

“How?”

“I don’t know” the other three stood by solemnly, no doubt pitying her. Oh how she hated the empty pity, what good ever came from it? None that’s what. And it didn’t ever make her feel any better about it. Nothing could. “But I do know that he would’ve wanted his ashes here too.” She felt like an idiot saying it, but there was only truth in her words. Although, now she finally knew what was so secret about the Lake of Secrets, and it felt good. Even if it was just one of millions, even if it was one only she would figure out. Suddenly, Emma’s attention was diverted from Athena’s reminiscence back to the sword in her hand.

“Athena” fretted Emma “something’s happening” Athena stood up and took the sword off a willing Emma. Surely enough, the sword seemed to be glowing in a pale light around the hilt. Quickly, it spread to the doubled blade and grew ever brighter. Then the glow flared so fast and so furious that the handle burnt on her flesh, but for some reason she could not let go. The brightness grew ever so vast and now it was engulfing her like a sunset. Suddenly, Athena was gone into what could only be described as swallowed into some kind of portal. The others were left open-mouthed, staring at what was now an empty patch of grass; even the sword had gone.

Meanwhile, Athena was regurgitated on to a floor, the sword clashed and rattled as she smacked down. Scrambling to her feet, she tried to make out her surroundings, but it was fairly difficult as she was on a large overpowering hill and it was pelting down with icy bullets of raindrops. The rain was so thick and heavy that her dry clothes were sodden once again. She tottered forwards, her vision weary and blurred. The floor was dewy, rain-covered grass and as far as she could see, the hill was the tallest for miles around. She teetered slowly forwards and saw a ruin of some ancient Greek building. Several of the off-white and greying columns had collapsed or crumbled. However, the roof had only slightly caved in, but the steps leading up to it let it shine in its once magnificent glory.

 Her eyes were still blurred from her rough landing, but out of the mist she could see a figure walking slowly towards her. It shallowly stopped at the top of the stairs, as if descending them were beneath it. Then her eyes re-focused.

“Hello Athena” it droned hungrily “oh how I’ve waited so long...” ‘Who was it? No...It couldn’t be, could it?’ she thought. “For this moment” he finished.

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