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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8. CHAPTER 8: JEMEANII

That night Athena had another strange dream. This time she was sat in a room and a bird tapped on her window, a large white bird was there. It whispered to her in her mind and she knew that it would take her where she wanted to go. So she jumped out of the window and the next thing she knew she was soaring over mountains in the claws of this animal. Then, all too soon, a dark figure, her dad, a car and a scream whooshed through her mind. Then she woke up with a start and sat up in her bed. She glanced over at her window- no bird. Athena wiped sweat from her forehead. In reality it was Tom’s birthday but she wouldn’t see him until later at his party along with Tilly Letton and Timothy Greenfield. Her covers were making her hot so she threw them back and it came to her attention that it was ten o’ clock in the morning; she had been in bed for longer than usual. Hilary would be downstairs which reminded her that she had left Tom’s presents downstairs as she hadn’t left her room properly since last night’s episode; even her dinner, a sandwich, had been deposited in her room whilst she went to the toilet. Her mother was being pathetic and childish; thank goodness she would get a proper meal at Toms tonight. In two hours time she would be round her best friend’s house with two other friends and Tom’s crazy family. She got dressed and ate breakfast. As she came back upstairs, she noticed Tom’s present bag with everything in to one side of her door. Entering her room, she scooped it up and closed her door behind her. She spread everything out on her bed and to her surprise; she found a small gift with a card on top that read ‘from Hilary’. She had no idea what it was but that didn’t matter. Setting it aside, Athena cut of a strip of wrapping paper and began to wrap the presents all in the same piece of paper, except the ring which she placed in the small box she had bought.

After that, she moved on to the card. First, she searched her room for an appropriate photo. She found a group of some recent pictures from the summer holidays when they went down to Perrenporth beach. There were 20 photos of them and 5 of the shimmering sea and towering cliffs. Finding one, which they were pulling a silly face in, she cut around the edges of the memorabilia and pasted it into the ‘insert photo here’ part of the card. On the inside she wrote:

Dear Tom

You are the best friend I’ve ever had and I’m so lucky to have a “partner in crime” like you. I couldn’t have wished for anyone better to share my childhood with.

Happy Birthday and have a great day

Love from Athena xxx

P.S I can’t wait for Thárros; I’ll find a way there!’

‘That would do’ she thought. It would have to; it was 11:30- half an hour and Tom’s party began. She put everything in a carrier bag, even her mum’s gift, but not the ring box. There was only 30 minutes for her to pack her night bag and find her sleeping bag, which was somewhere in the basement. She remembered moving it when she cleared out the basement on Saturday.

First she packed a spare set of clothes, her wash bag with all the essentials, some random films and the book. She placed it all in one corner; now to look for her sleeping bag. Quickly and quietly, she ran down to the basement; it took her a while but eventually she found it.

As she came back up the stairs, she glanced at the clock; it was five minutes until twelve o’ clock. Clearly, she had been searching in the basement for longer than she had originally thought. Hurling herself up the stairs, she panicked; she was meant to be there earlier than everyone else. Hurriedly, she shoved the box into the front pocket of her bag and pulled her converse out from her wardrobe. Then she sprinted down the stairs, everything in arm and when she got to the door she pulled on her shoes, loosely tied them up and double-checked that she had everything. Without saying goodbye, Athena hauled her rucksack on to her back, grabbed Tom’s present bag and with her remaining hand, grasped for her sleeping bag too.

Out of the door she went and steadily, she set off at a speed-walking pace towards the very end of the lane, where Tom’s house was situated. Once she had arrived she rang the doorbell and, almost immediately, Tom answered it.

“What took you so long?” he said

“Nice to see you too” she replied, stepping through the door. Handing him his present, she continued “happy birthday”

“Thanks Thee” he kissed her cheek. Athena blushed slightly and then followed Tom into the lounge where Tilly Letton was in deep conversation with Chloe Noble and Timmy Greenfield was happily playing with Joey.

“Hi Athena” chirped Timothy

“Hey Timmy”

“Hello” mused Chloe and Tilly. Joey barked and vigorously wagged his tail. Athena perched on the floor next to Timmy who was rapidly stroking the excitable dog. Tom went off to get Christmas presents.

“How’re you?” Athena asked Timmy

“Not bad, you?”

“I’ve been better” she admitted, accepting the tray of ginger bread that Timon passed to them.

“How come?”

“Long story”

“Oh”

“Basically, my mum won’t let me go to a summer camp” it humoured her slightly that what she said was true but far from accurate.

“Mine neither, well not the one I want to go to”

“Why not?”

“She wants me to go to Camp Thárros”

“Really?”

“Oh yeah, history doesn’t interest me much though”

“You should go! Tom is and I want to, but mum’s not letting me at the moment, I’ll find a way though”

“Hmm, I’ll ask her”

“You should”

“I was just afraid that I wouldn’t know anyone, and I’m not very good at making friends”

“Nonsense” although Athena could actually agree with him on that so she persisted “besides, Tom will be there and so will I”

“What if we’re not in the same team though? They stay in cabins together, spend activities together; I don’t know if I can handle that kind of separation!”

“Timmy, it’ll be fine” at that moment, Tom returned with two parcels, one for Timothy and one for Tilly.

“Happy Christmas” he announced

“Thank you” Timmy replied as he took the gift off Tom. He un-wrapped his presents to reveal a box of home-made Christmas biscuits and the Tower Warriors Xmas annual. Tower Warriors was a video game that Tom and Timothy played.

“Wow thanks! You’re great at buying presents Tom”

“Cheers” he remarked, although his mum eyed him knowingly from the doorway.

“Here you go Tilly” Tom threw her present to her and she threw one back, so did Timmy. Tilly un-wrapped her present which was a box of homemade ginger bread and the ultimate dance and song book.

“Thank you very much Tom” she smiled

“No problem” he grinned back. Two presents came at Athena and she un-wrapped them. From Timmy she received a snow-globe and a ‘make your own ginger bread men’ set. Tom and Tilly had the same, but with different snow globes. From Tilly she got mittens, a beanie hat and a warm woollen scarf.

“Thank you both” grinned Athena. They looked expectantly at her and she remembered that she had put her presents for them under Tom’s Christmas tree a while back, for safe keeping. She grabbed them and handed them out, including Tom’s. Timmy received a ‘Tower Warriors’ cheat code book and a box of toffees and Tilly got a jewellery stand and a box of Christmas fudge. When she glanced at Tom, a grin crept over his face.

“Your present can wait ‘till later” he whispered, she snatched her gift to him back and said:

“Then so can yours”

“Lunch is served!” called Demeter. Everyone scrambled to the table in a frantic mess.

The meal was to be eaten in the dining room that followed under an archway from the kitchen. Everybody sat down; all of Tom’s family were there, along with everyone else.

The snacks on the table ranged from crisps, popcorn, cakes, chocolate and biscuits to pork pies, sausage rolls, meat slices, cheese straws, various salads and a selection of homemade Christmas cookies.

“Tuck in” declared Timon, not that anyone needed telling. Leon reached for the meats and Ophelia started piling her plate with cheese and crackers. Athena herself had a little bit of everything; she was starving and it was 12:30.

Not much conversation went on over the lunch period, other than mildly amusing small talk between two or three individuals about what they were doing over the Christmas break. Once everyone had finally become full and were done eating, Demmy cleared the table for birthday cake. After a cheerful chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’, they ate some cake whilst Demmy and Timon took it in turns to take pictures of the group. Then, for the big final shot, she set the camera on timer so everyone was included. By the time that had all happened it was 2:55 and Tilly had to go. As they were waving her out of the door, she and Timmy exchanged Christmas gifts too.

When they were back inside the house Demmy had an armful of boxes.

“Party games!” she said enthusiastically.

“No mum, please, I’m 13 now” Tom went red with embarrassment.

“I think it’s a great idea” laughed Chloe

“Well then, you won’t mind joining in” Demmy mocked

“Actually I...” but after Demmy’s sharp glare, Chloe sunk into her chair and endured it.

Athena thought a game at this age at a party was a tad lame but after a game of twister that consisted of six people, it actually turned out quite humorously fun. After a couple of rounds of that, they played scrabble, which sounds boring but when on teams it too turned out to be enjoyable. The teams had been Demmy and Ophelia, Timon and Chloe, Leon and Athena and Tom and Timmy. Eventually it was five o’ clock and Timmy wished everyone a merry Christmas before departing from Tom’s house.

“And then there were two” mumbled Athena

“We can still have fun” Tom giggled

“I know”

“Come on” Tom led her out into the garden; it was cold, but that didn’t stop them. They clambered up on to Tom’s trampoline and began to bounce, laugh and make jokes. Eventually, Ophelia came out to see what was going on and then joined in, as did Leon. The trampoline was quite large and everyone had plenty of room.

At around half six, they all left the ice-cold garden and trudged back to the house. Leon crashed out on the sofa, disturbing an annoyed Chloe who was busy with her homework and Ophelia ran into the kitchen where she started playing with the drink coasters. Demmy was busying herself with cleaning up and Timon was occasionally passing her a cloth as they spoke.

“Thee, up here” called Tom as he ran up the steep staircase “I’ll show you what I got for my birthday”

“Okay”

As they entered Tom’s room, Athena noticed a stack of various gifts of an assortment of shapes. Tom talked her through what he had received: the latest Tower Warriors games and cheats, a new iPod case, a book on history (from his grandparents), a rather large selection of chocolates, a new hoodie and a t-shirt that Tilly had bought him as well as a complete guide of upcoming video games from Timmy.

“So, where’s your present?” Tom grinned, glancing expectantly at Athena. She pulled it out of her bag

“Here” she said

Tom gave a vacant expression at the peculiar shape as the poster was rolled up and the bracelets stuck out at an odd angle halfway down. He ripped open the packaging- carefree.

“Arr sweet!” he exclaimed, pulling the bracelets over his smooth hand. “These are real good Thee” Athena shrugged, blushing slightly in the thought of what to say. Next, Tom pulled the plastic packaging off the poster and unrolled it. “Awesome” he whispered. He glanced down at the wrappings again, as if to look for something he may not have noticed the first time.

“Open the card” Athena murmured, realising this. She hoped that the £10.00 might make up for her feeble gifts. Tom did as he was told and pulled out the blue card.

“Haha, couldn’t you have got a better picture of me?” he laughed

“Hey!”

“Kidding Thee, it’s great” he opened it up and read it, the £10.00 note fell out “sweet, more money, thank you”

“There’s another present from my mum” Athena stated

“Oh cool” Tom ripped open that package too. It was a large bar of chocolate and some rare games vouchers. “Tell her thanks”

“I will... if she ever speaks to me again” Athena said. Tom gave her a sympathetic look.

“She will” Tom opened her mum’s card and read it aloud “dear Tom have an amazing birthday, you deserve it! I hope you get everything you want and don’t eat too much cake! Love from Hilary P.S Keep out of trouble”

“That last bit’s aimed at me” Athena guessed

“In my card?”

“She knew I’d read it, or hear it”

“Maybe it means about Thárros”

“I hope not; she knows I’m planning something”

“Then she’s wrong”

“For now”

“No more schemes Thee”

“But I need to go”

“Then find a way that won’t get you in trouble”. Silence.

“Sorry about the presents by the way”

“Don’t be, I love them”

“No you don’t”

“Yes, I do”

“I just wanted them to mean something”

“And they do because they’re from you, my best friend”

“You sound like mum”

“Ha!”

“Anyway, I have another gift”

“Really?”

“Yeah, it’s still a pathetic excuse for a gift, but there’s a reason” Athena pulled out the box

“Thee, you shouldn’t have; of course I’ll marry you” joked Tom. Athena just laughed half-heartedly before opening the box.

“Okay, I was just joking, but now you’re scaring me”

“It’s a mood ring”

“Oh, makes sense” Tom mocked sarcastically

“It’s to show that no matter how we are feeling, we’ll always stay friends. No matter how angry we get, or whatever arguments we have, or even if we’re sad. It’s just to show that we’ll be there for each other, forever.”

“That’s sweet”

“But...”

“No buts. I’ll wear it, just for you” Tom took the ring and slid it on his right index finger, Athena did the same. “Thanks for a great birthday Thee, and for being a great friend” Tom kissed her cheek and hugged her.

“You too” she giggled

“Let’s get some food, I’m hungry”

“No surprise there” with that, they went downstairs. After each one of them had grabbed a plate of snacks, they ran back up to Tom’s room. As they opened the door, a chill breeze struck them and no wonder; Tom’s windows were both as wide open as an eagles wings during flight.

“The wind’s not that strong, I bet Leon did it to make a point” Tom said with a tone of anger.

“Leon’s downstairs, so is Chloe and Ophelia for that matter, and your parents are in the kitchen” but before Tom had a chance to reply, the white speck that Athena had previously thought was a cloud, seemed to be getting nearer. Before they knew it, a magnificent white bird, with impressive pure plumage, flew through the window and flapped gracefully around the room.

“What the-” yelled a bemused Tom.

“What is it?” called Athena

“A bird”

“Well yeah, but it’s larger than most round here”

“Shoo you over-grown seagull!” but the bird remained calm as it perched on the windowsill “is this some kind of joke?”

“Look at its leg!” cried Athena. Tom glanced down at its claw; there was a piece of parchment attached to the bird’s ankle. He reached out to grab it but the bird snapped at his fingers.

“Ow! Alright, alright!” Athena thought she’d try as the bird looked her directly in the eye. The bird’s eyes flashed gold in the light, yet the sun had gone. The bird’s eyes were much like her own, before they faded back to an impervious black.  Cautiously, she reached for the parchment, the bird didn’t snap, not once. It willingly let her untie the knot.

“What does it say?” Tom asked with an air of intrigue. Athena kept her back to him as she read:
“Dear Miss Athena Williams,

Jemeanii here is a Caladrius bird, or as it is known in Greek, a Dhalion bird. He was first taken under-wing by Mr Charles Williams, your great, great grandfather. He was meant to be a gift for you, but instead he was owned by your father. Jemeanii is unlike any other bird; he will only come when you call him and he will respond only to your commands. He is a most loyal friend and it is about time that he got returned to his rightful owner.”

Athena turned to face Tom; he looked as stunned as she felt.

“Whose it from?” gulped Tom

“It’s not signed”

“This is a joke”

“Who else would know about Charles and the book?”

“I don’t know”

“Exactly, let’s see if he works”

“What?”

“If he answers to me only” she felt stupid doing it but she had to know if it were true. First she sounded out the letters in her head: Je-mean-ee. “Jemeanii” the bird glanced at her and tilted its tranquil feathered head “go wait at home, my home, our home, but don’t let Hilary see you”

The bird stared at her for a moment. Then, just as she began to lose hope, the bird bowed its head slightly, its golden eyes burning. Jemeanii took off majestically out of the window and headed in the direction of Athena’s house, without another word.

“What just happened” Tom panted

“I’ve no idea” admitted Athena “but I’m going to find out”

She didn’t know what troubled her more; the fact that she had no idea what was going on, or the fact that the bird in her dream was Jemeanii. 

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