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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9. CHAPTER 9: THE RESTING

“Who would send that thing?” Tom breathed

“I have a theory” said Athena “but it’s crazy”

“Oh no”

“And you’re not gonna like it” Athena who had been rummaging in her bag and finally pulled out the book.

“Do you remember what I said on the phone? ‘What if the myth’s not a myth?’ Well, this might just prove it”

“You’re crazy”

“Just... hear me out”
“Fine”

“Well first, what would this” she held up the book “be doing in my basement if...”

“According to the dude who sent the bird, he’s your great, great grandfather so it’s an heirloom or something” Tom interrupted

“Mum didn’t know about the hollow under the stairs though, did she? And I’ll bet dad did”

“So...”

“Shhh!”  

“Sorry”

“As soon as I read about Thárros I just had a feeling I belonged, like I knew of it, like I’d heard it before, then there’s all this stuff about mythical creatures and Gods and the big three, then of course there’s The Mainland. Gregworth sent me away, he’s never done that, then there’s this Diávolos and of course mum and your mum and Timmy’s mum too! Your mum is getting Leon and Chloe to go as well! But Hilary doesn’t want me to go. Do you see where I’m going?”

“No” replied Tom. Athena sighed heavily, with exasperation.

“Well, just think, Greg practically admitted that The Mainland exists, and then the next day a great big bird that was apparently meant to be a gift for me from Charles just happens to show up in your room”

“So?”

“Birds don’t live for four generations, and maybe he’s been alive longer than that!”

“This doesn’t make any sense” Athena raised an eyebrow, as if to say ‘the myth’ “But it can’t be true, it just... can’t”

“Says who?”

“Says science, says logic, and says sanity!”

“Why would he lie?”

“Thee, I don’t know”

“It’s the only explanation that makes some kind of sense”

“You can’t actually be telling me that you believe in this rubbish?”

“I don’t know what to believe anymore”

“Besides, if it was destiny then you would’ve been called to Thárros sooner”

Athena thought for a while then said “unless...” ‘That’s it!’ she thought “unless mum knew about the hollow after all, unless she planted it there to be kept hidden because she didn’t want me to go!”

“You can tell when your mum lies, she’s terrible”

“You’d be surprised”

“No, even Hilary wouldn’t have lied to you your entire life, that’s not who she is. What ever it is that you see in her at this moment, is because she’s preventing you from going to Thárros” Athena knew that Tom was right.

“I still think it could be true, The Mainland I mean”

“Whatever”

“I’ll prove it” she said “you’ll see” Tom just sighed.

 

                                                                ***

 

The next day Athena was lying on the lounge floor with Tom, reading the book.

“Here” said Athena “Magikós bloods”

“Magikós bloods are a form that has God or Titan or Demi-God blood in them. They are descendants and can pass through to The Mainland, they are special, and if they focus they can achieve great things: heal wounds, cast spells, gain control of an element; they can do great things. The best thing about them is that they can fight and overcome the toughest most fearsome and overwhelming battles. They are unimaginably strong and gifted. I am glad to be one of these blessed beings.”

Athena faded out as she realised what everything she had just read meant. Charles was a Magikós blood; did that mean her dad was too?

She tried arguing it out with Tom, but he was determined to believe that it was all legend. However, Athena, being stubborn herself, was tied to the idea that it could all be real. She knew it wasn’t logical, but it made sense to her. The main reason she believed was because, above all, she hoped that it would be true; it would be an escape route from tedious everyday life. Her dad always used to say ‘if you believe in something enough, then there’s no reason why it can’t be true’ and Athena lived by it.

On the walk home from Tom’s, she noticed that people had Christmas lights up and it reminded her that it was her family’s tradition to decorate the tree on Christmas Eve. It was one of the only traditions of her dad that Hilary kept. Perhaps she thought not doing it would betray him.

Auntie Doris would be there now, ‘great’ she thought. Auntie Doris had never had kids, but she was lonely at Christmas as she had never married either, something about having to live up to her name. Athena never quite understood what she meant. The only she came over was because none of the other family members on Hilary’s side would have her. She was old and forgetful about things that had happened five minutes ago but could easily and happily remember Athena’s wrong doings from five years ago. She got on rather well with Greg’s wife Grettle. No surprises. They were always complaining about how Athena looked and how scruffy she was. Athena had always got along better with the male gender. So it was good luck that Jemeanii too was male. Girls could be so cruel. Oh how she wished she could find one like herself who wasn’t involved with fashion and how she looked; someone who cared about the important things.

Athena crept in through the back door, hoping to be able to avoid Auntie Doris for a few more precious moments. Cautiously, she tiptoed up the stairs, quiet as a mouse until CREEK! Uh-oh, she had trodden on the squeaky step that she had spent her entire childhood learning to skip over.

“Athena?” she wasn’t sure if it was Hilary or Doris so she just leapt over the last few steps and ran to her room. She threw everything on her bed and slammed the door shut behind her. In two minutes time, maybe less, one of the two women would barge through her door frame. Rapidly, Athena brushed her matted hair until it frizzed out awkwardly. She pulled it into a pony-tail and trotted off down stairs.

“Ahh Athena, pleasure seeing you again dear” grimaced Doris. Submissively, Athena laughed awkwardly back and endured the strained hug.

“How was Tom’s?” asked Hilary with the same air of false interest she had had when asking about the presents.

“Good yeah, great in fact” she replied “better than here” she added under her breath

“Well, shall we get the decorations up?” Hilary continued

“You go ahead love” suggested Doris “I think I might go and see if Grettle’s home; it’d be nice to catch up with her.”

“Oh alright, we’ll see you in a bit” Auntie Doris left the home and hobbled off down the road; she needed the exercise.

“The boxes of decorations are there” Hilary pointed to a stack of boxes behind the sofa. “I’ll leave you to do the lounge”

“Okay” Athena nodded and then watched her mum leave the room before she stalked over to the boxes and began to decorate the lunge with festive gold’s and silvers. There was tinsel round the mirror above the steaming mantelpiece and there were metallic reindeers balanced on the cupboards and shelving units.

As for the tree, Athena draped round a load of silver beads on its perky, prickly branches and then began hanging up silver baubles and gold ones too. Briskly walking into the room, Hilary helped out. It was traditional that they hung up pictures of Andreas and Anna. Andreas started the picture-hanging tradition when Anna died, and Hilary and Athena had continued it when he died too.

She reached into the box and took a moment to caress the photo’s slick, metallic, golden frame. Then Athena took out the two miniature pictures and clutched the thin string in her palm. She held them to her heart, closed her eyes, and stayed silent for a moment. After that, she passed her dad’s picture to Hilary and took Anna’s for her own.

Then, together, they hung the pictures.

Athena only just realised that her mother’s eyes were red and blotchy, and that got Athena thinking. Doris wouldn’t really mind being alone for Christmas, surely; she spent the rest of the year alone and she must’ve had at least one friend up in Devon that she could go to. That meant that she was invited, not for her own loneliness, but for Hilary’s. All the other family members had plans, so she couldn’t invite them. A further thought occurred to her. Was Doris even on Hilary’s side of the family? She had assumed so because of a few personality similarities, but she had never actually asked.

“Mum?”

“Yes?”

“Is Auntie Doris your relative?”

“Oh goodness no. She was your dad’s auntie, why do you ask?”

“I just wondered why you invite her over every year”

“Because she gets lonely, you know that”

“But do I? She seems perfectly fine all year round, why would Christmas make a difference?” she knew that she was stepping on thin ice.

“Christmas is a time for families to come together and celebrate; everyone needs family at Christmas.”

“But she’s dad’s families worry, not yours”

“Don’t forget, we are married, that makes us her family too”

“I suppose” It suddenly made sense. Auntie Doris must be one of the only remaining people on her dad’s side, so her mum must bring her here because she reminds her of dad, and that way some other pure Williams’ blood will be in the house. A sudden surge of pride washed over her, but then it faded once again, like everything else seemed to.

 

It was now 6 pm and completely black outside; Doris still wasn’t back at home either, not that anyone was complaining. It was about time that they carried out the resting. The resting was what Hilary called the miniature ceremony in which they lit two tea lights for Andreas and Anna and then also lit two Chinese lanterns that they prayed over, before releasing them up, to be swallowed by the never-ending sky. There, they would join the stars, twinkling and bright-burning.

Hilary pulled out two silver tea lights from a small packet on the coffee table. She handed one to Athena.

“May you rest in peace, Andreas, a wonderful husband”

“And an even better dad” added Athena as Hilary lit it and passed it to Athena. Carefully, she placed it on the warm mantelpiece shelf.

“And Anna” Hilary spoke up “rest well my sweetheart, beautiful girl, wonderful daughter”

“And an amazing sister” Athena had nothing else to say; Hilary had covered all the good things already.

“Shall we light the lanterns before Doris gets back?” Hilary suggested.

“Good idea” they swept out the room and into the garden. The white glare of the fairy lights glistened in the chill breeze of the brisk winters evening. It gave off ghostly glow that was just enough light to be able to see the illuminated garden in its grand tranquillity. Athena let out a small sigh of delight. It looked stunning, you’d have to be blind to deny it and, even then, it gave off a beautifying atmosphere. The lanterns would only add a small amount of glory to the already electrifying nature.

Warily, Hilary lit the two paper lanterns. Then, Athena sprinkled a frosting of ash from the burnt out coals in the lounge into the flame. It quivered and cast flickering shadows about the soundless garden. The pair stood still and Hilary closed her eyes, muttering slightly. Athena gazed at her for a moment, wondering what it’d be like to have a proper family, complete with beloved mischievous pet. She too closed her eyes. It felt odd, not being able to see, only feeling the chilling breeze of the winter wind, and only smelling the ever-glowing ember of the flame in the lanterns, and only hearing hushed mumbles of prayer and thoughts from her mother, and only tasting a bitter guilt at the fact that she was not praying like her mother. Opening her eyes, she glanced round the garden; it was eerie- darkness was a fickle friend.

Her mum’s prayers seemed to be drawing to a close so Athena muttered the only thing she could think of, with now closed eyes.

“Keep them safe” Together they reawakened their sight and caught each other’s gaze. Hilary smiled, tears spilling down her cheeks in silent mourning. Hilary then bowed her head and they threw up the lanterns into the beckoning sky. Athena felt Hilary’s arm creep around her shoulder, tears glistening on her pale cheeks. Athena’s eyes began to fill too. ‘I will not cry. I won’t’ she thought. But the same thought occurred every year, and did that stop her? No. Once again, they caught each other’s eye and seeing the tears on her remaining daughter’s face, Hilary tightened her grip and together they watched the lanterns rise higher and out of sight.

 

At 7pm Doris finally arrived back from the Handsan’s home and she was chewing their ears off with all the latest gossip from Grettle’s bingo.

“And then Mildred said, ‘well why didn’t you tell him?’ Can you believe the cheek of that? Mind you, I’ve always said to Grettle that she should watch out for that one; she never listens”

“More sherry?” Hilary asked patiently

“Oh yeas dear, it is Christmas after all. I suppose another one can’t hurt”

“She’ll go on all night if you keep her drinking that” whispered Athena

“Trust me, it’ll knock her out eventually, one of the good uses for alcohol” Hilary whispered back

“Anyway, when Gertrude found out she wasn’t happy at all, won’t even hand Mildred the stamper in bingo. I wouldn’t either- not that you’d catch me involved in such nonsense, I’ve said time and time again, gambling will do you no favours. It’ll leave you pocket-less and desperate” Doris piped up “of course Andreas...” then, as if by magic, Doris fell asleep mid-sentence.

“Is she...” Athena began

“Yep” nodded Hilary “told you” the two had a silent giggle, until Athena remembered that she was meant to be mad at her.

“I’m tired. I’m going to bed”

“Okay, but help me take Doris upstairs, will you?”

Athena nodded briefly before taking Doris’ legs as Hilary took her arms and together, they carried her rounded body upstairs and into bed.

“Night love” said Hilary, closing Doris’s door and kissing Athena’s damp forehead.

“Night” mumbled Athena. She swayed to her own room and closed her own door before settling into bed.

The light was off but Athena could feel the book’s rough, hardened spine under her pillow. Oh well, it was better in here than listening to more gossip about Mildred and Gertrude, even if it meant not being able to read about Thárros. However, it’d be better to have Tom here by her side; where a best friend should be. Hilary said Christmas was a time for family and, after her, Tom was the closest to family she had got. How lovely it would be to have a friend with her now. She closed her eyes and allowed the darkness to slur her vision.

Suddenly, through the black mist that was nightfall, something tapped on her window. She sat up abruptly and straight. Her first thought was that it must be Tom, no one else would come this late at night, but it was in fact someone very different. Glancing towards the window she saw Jemeanii, his large swan-like frame obscuring some of the inky star-filled sky.

He tapped again.

“Okay! Okay!” yell-whispered Athena. She slid open the window, enduring the cold breeze that flew in along with Jemeanii. His pure, snowy plumage shone brilliantly in the desolate black of the room. Either Jemeanii’s powerful glow illuminated the room slightly or, the long winter’s day had had an effect on her brain in the timely night. “I didn’t call you” she whispered, stroking his head. He glanced at her, cocking his feathered face “did I?” his eyes flashed gold again. “Who sent you? Why are you here, eh?” she tickled his spine “if you really belonged to Charles, you must be ancient, Jemeanii. And I thought Doris was old. How can you even be real? I must be losing my mind.”

Jemeanii tilted his head as if it was obvious.

“No, like Tom said Jemeanii, it can’t be real. It just can’t” Jemeanii fluttered over to the dresser and perched there. He nestled his head under his wing and was still.

Despite what Athena had said to Jemeanii, and despite the fact he couldn’t reply, she still believed that the myth may not be a myth at all. And she toyed with that thought all the way into the sleepless, restless and reckless land that was dreams.

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