MUSIC AND SLOBBER
Without a doubt, that was the best dinner I'd ever had. I was used to bland school food and street vendor snacks and I'd only ever been to restaurants a few times in my life, so this was a huge change. With the ability to 'order' any food or drink I wanted by simply speaking to my plate or cup, I had a really good time. The stuff I ate, I'm not even going to say because the list is endless.
I sat at the Hermes table. Shortly after Chiron and I arrived the other kids started gathering. All in all there were about fifty kids who were staying at camp year round, most of them in the Hermes cabin. Connor and Travis sat down next to me, one on either side, and I quickly gave up trying to decide which was which. They introduced me to the rest of the cabin, among them was nine year old Mikey whom I'd met earlier that day.
We exchanged stories, I told them how I ended up at camp and vice versa. They all seemed quite surprised when I told them Chiron had a wife, some glanced at the centaur with smirks on their faces. However they were mostly interested in the monsters that had chased me. Apparently dirt zombies weren't very common. Once I was finished with my story Connor and Travis decided to retell their own tale, which made the entire table groan and say "Not again". However I was eager to listen, and that was all the enchouragement the twins needed. It was a pretty weird story, not ment for putting into writing.
All in all the Hermes people seemed to accept me as one of their own pretty quickly, and soon, after the initial awkwardness, I was able to join in on their conversations and enjoy the food.
With dinner drawing to a close, Chiron called for attention. He announced that with winter break coming, most of the demigods who attended school would be returning to camp in the following days, he also informed that if anyone wished to spend the holidays with their families, they may apply to him and transport would be arranged. Seeing as how I had no family, I was quite content with staying here. Once he was done, everybody got out of their seats and headed for the large bonfire, dragging me along.
When I asked why, a passing girl from Demeter cabin said. "Camp fire sing along."
"Sing along?" I asked, eyebrows raised, but the girl had already moved on. I wondered if 'sing along' was code for something far more sinister. But no, it literally was a sing along. Everybody gathered around the bonfire, taking seats on stools and benches, I noticed the Ares cabin was particularily miffed about the whole thing, all grumbling and sulking. Looking around I decided that most of the campers were about my age, fifteen or sixteen, but I spotted some nineteen yearolds as well, the youngest one being little Mikey at around nine. A couple Apollo kids brought out a bunch of instruments, a lyre, a harp, even a guitar, which remided me of my own guitar, alone in it's case, never to be played again, not by me at least.
The first song was rather strange, about 'old Gran' putting on her armor, pretty weird and rather childish, but everybody seemed to know it, even the Ares kids sang it, rather grudgingly. Apparently it was an often repeated song. I just hummed along as best I could. After that everyone broke out talking and the Apollo kids started playing something more sensible. I did notice however that the guitar remained untouched. Meanwhile, two girls were playing lyres, another the harp, while two older guys played the cello and violin. I listened to the melody, and couldn't help feeling it could really use some guitar. I stood up and walked up to where the musicians where sitting.
"May I?" I asked, pointing at the guitar case.
"You play?" Asked the kid playing the cello. He was looking at me, but his hands kept doing their job without a fault.
"A bit yeah." I nodded. "I do have a guitar, but I didn't really get the opportunity to pack my own stuff on my way here."
The kid shrugged. "Sure, give it a go."
I opened the case and took out the guitar, taking a minute to examine it. It was a beautiful specimen, a Gibson. Rosewood back and sides and spruce top. I realised it was the model Bob Dylan himself had used at one point. I sat down on a stool next to the other players and started to pick the strings. It needed no tuning, everything was perfect. I sat still for a moment, listening to their melody before joining in, my fingers automatically finding the perfect cords to fit their notes. It was then that for the first time since I'd woken up, I felt truly relaxed and at home. This was something I was completely comfortable with, and it reminded me of all the times I played with my music group, and the fun I used to have. Soon I was lost in the music, my eyes staring blankly into nothing, not even noticing that many heads had turned from their conversations and were now looking at me, even some of the other musicians had stopped playing, which made my guitar more audible. Soon I was the only one playing.
I can't remember what it was I played, I knew I was improvising, but I guess it was something good since most of the camp was now listening to me, the other players having stopped to listen as well. Of course, I hadn't realised everyone was staring at me, because if I did I'd probably have gotten sudden stage fright and made a wreck of myself, instead I just continued to stare into nothingness. The warmth of the fire on my back was so relaxing.
Suddenly there was a collective gasp from the crowd, the violinnist and cellist, who were nearest to me, even sat up and backed away from me. That finally jolted me out of my trance. I looked up at everyone, suddenly becoming self conscious.
"What, I wasn't that bad was I?" I asked. Then I noticed they weren't exactly looking at me, they were all staring at a spot right above my head. I glanced up, and almost fell out of my chair.
Above my head shined brightly, a holographic logo of a golden lyre, much like the ones the Apollo girls had been playing.
"What the?" I stammered, jolting out of my chair. The logo followed, it still shined right above my head, revolving ever so slightly. I was about to try and touch it when, just as suddenly as it had appeared, it vanished. I ran my hand through my hair, making sure it had not been lit on fire, then I glanced back at the crowd, who were now staring right at me.
"Um, what was that?" I asked, now gripping the guitar as if it was a shield.
"That." Said Chiron, appearing at the edge of the crowd. "Is the symbol of Apollo, you have just been claimed."
I was silent, and so was everyone else.
Chiron bent his front legs and bowed, soon followed by the other campers. "Hail to you Davy Faraday." He said solemnly. "Son of Apollo, master of music, speaker of prophecies and god of the Sun."
I was the first to wake up, at six in the morning, a full two hours before breakfast. I'd been unable to sleep for multiple reasons. Firstly, I'd been sleeping for five days straight, secondly, my head was still buzzing from all the life changing information I'd been fed, and thirdly, I was just so full of adrenaline. I finally fell asleep around three in the morning.
I got out of bed, very careful not to make any noises so as to avoid waking anybody up. I hadn't even had the sense to change into my new sleep clothes, so I didn't have to bother dressing. Instead I just picked my shoes up and slowly sneaked towards the exit barefoot. Once the doors to the cabin were closed I put them on.
The sun had only just recently risen, but it was surprisingly pleasant, not cold at all. A fresh sea breeze wafted past me as I stretched out, cracking my spine and yawning widely. Then I noticed that in the distance, outside camp borders, the ground was completely white, while the camp grounds were lush green as if it was the middle of spring. This would have been strange to me if one of the Hermes girls hadn't explained to me earlier that the camp had magical temperature regulation, so they could choose what kind of weather to have, which was pretty neat.
Taking my eyes off the distant snow, I took in the sights of the camp once again before my eyes fell upon the bonfire at the dining pavillion.
Last night, after Chiron proclaimed me son of Apollo, and after a few seconds of stunned silence, all the Apollo kids crowded me, cheering, patting my back, shaking my hand. It was quite an overwhelming feeling. Eventually, once Chiron got everyone's attention back, he wished everyone a good night and the campers dispersed. The Apollo kids, my cabin mates, led me to Cabin Seven, a building made of solid gold that shined in the daylight, definitely the flashiest building at camp. There I was introduced to my new brothers and sisters. Luckily at that time there were only nine other children of Apollo at camp, so the names and faces didn't get mixed up. Among my new siblings was Will Solace, who looked just as pleased as the others. We talked for a while but eventually they let me go to bed, and things soon settled down.
After all that attention, I decided I required some alone time, so it was a good thing I woke two hours before anyone else. I knew where I wanted to go, I'd even remembered to take my spear along. I headed for the arena.
Apart from the weapons, training dummies and automatons, the arena was almost completely empty, almost. Upon entering I was greeted by a wall of black fur, a dozen gallons of slobber and one earthshaking. "WOOF!"
Before I could react, I was laying on my back, a gigantic paw pinning me to the ground while a massive pink tongue licked me all over. Now, I reckon myself a dog person so I didn't mind getting licked, but by the gods, what was this beast?
"Stphh...Stoplth!" I spluttered, trying to push the mammoth foot of my chest. Eventually, after much writhing and kicking, the mass of fur moved. I scrambled to my knees, shaking some of the slobber off before looking at my attacker.
In front of me sat the largest creature I'd ever seen with my own two eyes, and I'd seen some pretty big grizzlies in zoos before. The dog was the size of a dumpster truck, with jet black fur, beady eyes and long shiny fangs. It hadn't tried to eat me, so I took that as a good sign.
"Nice mammoth." I called, slowly getting up to my feet. "You won't, eat me will you?" I asked.
The creature tilted it's head, as if contemplating the question. Then it barked again, which made my eardrums hurt. It got up and stomped over to the weapon racks, knocked one of them over and picked up a large, round shield in it's powerful yaws, then romped back over to me and dropped the shield at my feet.
I stared at the creature, then down at the shield, then back again. "You want what?" I muttered. "You want me to throw it, like a frisbee?"
It gave another loud. "WOOF!"
I swallowed. "Okay, sure." I bent down slowly, keeping one eye on the creature as I picked the shield up. I glanced around, looking for a good direction to thow the shield, then I gripped it's edge, spun on the spot and let go of the shield which flew across the arena. The creature barked happily and charged after it, leaving me covered in a layer of slobber and dust.
By the time I'd cleaned myself off, it was back, frisbee-shield in mouth. I took a moment to look it over, then I smiled. "You're harmless aren't you?" I asked, looking it right in the eyes. I took the shield out of it's grasp, set it at my feet and proceeded to scratch it's yaw. The creature's tongue lolled out as it started to pant, just like any dog, except the smell was a few hundred times more pungent.
"What's your name?" I asked, somehow managing to breathe. It just stared at me, black eyes sparkling. I glanced at her neck and noticed it had a collar, which looked more like a military grade belt with which they used to tie massive rocket carriers to oxen and other load carrying mammals. Off the collar hung a bone shaped name tag which said "Mrs. O'Leary."
"Mrs. O'Leary." I read. "So you're a girl." I said looking back at her, she made a soft growl in response.
"Okay." I laughed. "You want me to throw your shield again?" I asked, already picking the slime covered bronze shield again.
She jolted back to her feet as I threw the shield again and she ran. This time she caught the thing in mid air. Looking quite proud of herself, Mrs. O'Leary the mammoth dog stomped around the arena once then layed down in what looked like her usual resting spot and started to chew the shield like a dog might chew a bone.
It took me a another couple of minutes to clean myself up propperly. Once I was done, I spent a couple of minutes exploring the rest of the arena. The training dummies looked completely smashed to pieces, they'd been stabbed, slashed, cut and even shot uncountable times. The weapon racks packed an impressive arsenal of bronze weapons and shields, but nothing as cool as my own. Most of the automatons were all stashed together on one side, a few lay in peices on the floor, no doubt used as chew toys by my new slobbery friend. I considered activating one of the automatons for a moment, but then I realised I didn't know how, and even if I did I doubted I could fight it, my wound had healed almost completely thanks to the nectar, but my whole torso still felt sore. I didn't really want to risk getting stabbed again, which was a pretty sensible wish.
Instead I opted to use the practice dummies for now. I walked to the middle of the arena to get a little distance between me and the dummies, wondering if I could intentionally recreate that spear throw that had saved my life. I knew I did it, but I didn't know how, it was very much a reflex move, my body had acted of it's own accord, much like jumping away when you're electrecuted. I gripped my spear tighter in my hand, narrowing my eyes at the pathetic and extremely deadly looking dummies. I took a step back, remembering the stance I'd taken just before the throw. I lifted my right arm, my throwing arm, above my head. I wasn't really sure how I was supposed to aim but I did my best. I zeroed in on one of the dummies in the front row, took a deep breath, swung my arm and let go of the spear. I wasn't surprised. The spear barely reached my target, imbedding itself in the dirt a yard away from where it was supposed to hit.
"Okay." I said to myself, exhaling. "So that's how it's gonna go."
I guessed being in a situation of imminent death, and standing in a safe traing arena weren't the really the same. My reflexes were activated out of self preservation, and I wasn't under any threat at the moment. I sighed and went to pick up my spear.
"I guess I'll have to train." I muttered as I walked back to my spot.
I spent the next hour or so doing exactly that, practicing, not like I had anything else to do, and even though I hadn't slept very well, I had loads of energy to burn off. Throw after throw after throw I improved little, but at least I got the aim right and actually managed to hit the dummy a few times, even if the spear bounced off it's armor. I didn't mind however, I enjoyed the excercise, pausing every now and then to throw another shield for Mrs. O'Leary so she wouldn't chase after my spear. I was so focused on practicing, covered in both sweat and slobber, I didn't even notice the time passing.
Eventually, after the millionth throw, I had to take a break, my shoulder felt quite numb and my fingers were stiff from gripping the spear. I stuck it in the dirt and leaned on it for support while I steadied my breathing, whiping the sweat of my brow. Mrs. O'Leary was now chewing another automaton, I wondered if all the slime would make it short-circuit. I let a couple of minutes pass as I regained my strength before I straightened up and picked my spear up again, ready for a few more throws before going to take a shower before breakfast.
I'd just lifted my spear up, taking my throwing stance as usual, and was about to throw it when Mrs. O'Leary gave a resounding "WOOF!" and a nerve twitched at the back of my neck, someone was behind me. Suddenly my body took over and tired as I was, I was unable to stop myself. My body twisted around and instead of throwing towards the dummies, my spear flew at terminal velocity towards the arena doors. I tripped over myself due to the strange position I ended up in and fell to my knees, meanwhile I heard a surprised someone at the door shout "Whoa!" and a loud metallic clink as metal met metal and my spear flew in another direction.
Once I'd reagined my balance, I looked up. At the door, a couple yards away from me stood a guy I'd never met before, I remembered Chiron saying last night that some of the other campers would be arriving in the coming days, so I didn't find this strange. He looked about my age, wore the now common orange t-shirt, faded blue jeans and sneakers.
"What was that for?" He asked, rather miffed, I couldn't blame him.
"Yeah, um." I stammered as I got to my feet. "Sorry about that, you uh, surprised me is all, I have weird reflexes."
The kid stared at me for a moment before nodding and saying. "Nice throw." He picked my spear up and approached.
Once he was close enough I realised we were the exact same height and of similair build, him being more slimmer and more muscular, clearely he'd spent a lot of time in this arena. He had windswept black hair, longer than mine, a thinner face and sea green eyes. Then I noticed his weapon with which he'd deflected my spear without much trouble. It looked like a common celestial bronze sword, except it also had a faint glow about it.
"But lets not do that again, ok?" He asked with a grin that reminded me a little of the sly grins characteristic of the Hermes kids. "If that had been anyone else but me, this thing would have gone right through them."
I wasn't sure what he ment by that so I just said "Right." And cracked a relieved smile as he handed me back my weapon.
It looked as if he was about to say something when suddenly Mrs. O'Leary's fur impeaded my vision as she jumped on the new guy just as she'd done with me, and proceeded to lick his face enthusiastically.
"Alright, alright Mrs. O'Leary, it's good to see you too!" I heard him laugh somewhere underneath her. "Just, get off ok, be a good dog!" Mrs. O'Leary obeyed and allowed the guy to get up, now as wet as I had been when I first met her.
"Your pet I assume?" I asked, grinning.
"Yeah." He said, clearing the slime from his face. "She's an old friend."
"Your friend is a giant mammoth dog?" I lifted an eyebrow. "What kind of pet shop did you go to?"
The guy laughed, now scratching Mrs. O'Leary behind her ears. "I don't think they sell hellhounds in pet shops." He said. "I inherited Mrs. O'Leary after her previous owner died." Mrs. O'Leary whimpered sadly.
"A hellhoud, like, monster from the Underworld hellhound?" I asked, taking a cautious step back.
"Yep." He answered, unconcerned. "Mrs. O'Leary is the only good hellhound in existance, aren't you girl?"
"WOOF!" Mrs. O'Leary answered, thumping her massive tail on the ground.
"Name's Percy by the way, Percy Jackson." Said Percy, offering a hand.
"Davy Faraday." We shook. "So, you're the almighty Jackson I've heard so much about." I said. He didn't look very heroic, he looked like a pretty normal guy.
"Oh, what have you heard?" He asked.
"That you fought the ancient titans and saved Olympus, and the world." I said.
Percy nodded. "Yeah, I suppose I did do most of the heavy lifting." He made it sound like an inside joke. "But I didn't do it all on my own though." He pointed out. "Most of it, sure, but not all."
He lifted his sword and touched it's tip. Instantly the sword transformed into an ordinary ball point pen.
"Cool." I said, then just to show of, pressed the delta button on my spear, which instantlly clicked and transformed into a sword, half as long as Percy's. That sounded a little wrong.
Percy nodded and grinned. "Not bad yourself, but does yours also magically reappear in your pocket if you drop it."
"I don't know, haven't tried to loose it yet." I shrugged, than grinned. "I suppose you do it all the time then."
He pointed at me and narrowed his eyes, but his grin widened. "Nice one."
It was then I decided this Percy guy wasn't so bad, just an ordinary guy who happened to save the world.
"You know, I give sword fighting lessons here in the arena, you can come by sometime and I'd be glad to give you some pointers." He offered. "Just don't let things go to your head and think you can beat me." He said, pocketing his pen-sword with a wink.
We talked back and forth like that for a while while Mrs. O'Leary stomped around happily. Percy looked surprised when I told him she'd offered me to throw shields for her, something only Percy usually did. Eventually he asked me when I got here and I told him my story. He seemed impressed which I suppose was a good thing coming from a guy who'd killed more monsters than most of the other campers combined, and just like everybody else he was quite surprised when I told him about Chiron's wife.
"That sly horse." He said with a grin.
When I asked him. "And what's your story?" He chuckled and asked.
"Which story exactly? I have a few." Then he started to count them on his fingers. "The time I killed the Minotaur, that time Annabeth, Grover and I almost got turned to stone by the Medusa, the time I held up the sky, the time I took a dip in the river Styx then singlehandedly destroyed an entire army of Hades and stole his dress, or the time we turned the titan Hyperion into a tree."
He probably would have gone on for a while, but I stopped him. "Okay." I held my hands up in surrender. "I get it, you've got a pretty impressive résumé."
I was about to ask who Annabeth and Grover were when the arena doors creaked, and another person stepped in. This time a girl.
"There you are." She said as Percy turned to look at her. "I say we have to check if Rachel has arrived and suddenly you disappear." She reprimanded Percy. She walked over to us, and for once Mrs. O'Leary didn't jump at the new arrival, instead she just barked in greeting.
She was slightly shorter than either of us, with long blonde hair tied in a ponytail, draped over her shoulder. She had storm gray eyes, and I'd never seen gray eyes before. She was pretty, that was obvious, but not in that 'girly' way, more the 'Punch you first, kiss you later' kind of way. What was also obvious is that these two were definitely a couple, so I perished that thought immediately.
"For your information." She continued. "She hasn't arrived yet."
"Oh, good." Percy stammered. "I mean, shame, real shame." He gulped, his confidence dropping under her glare. Then he glanced at me and said. "Oh right, Annabeth, meet Davy, he's new to the camp. Davy, this is-"
"Annabeth Chase." She interrupted him, offering a hand which I shook. "Nice to meet you."
"You as well." I said, trying not to laugh as Percy did his best to regain his composure, mighty Jackson indeed. Chase, I was pretty sure I'd met a guy in Boston named Chase a while ago, during a school trip, probably a coincidence, Chase wasn't an uncommon name.
"So, you're the illegal son of Poseidon, the god of the seas." I said, smiling at Percy who looked a litte offronted at the word 'illegal'. "And you are?"
"Daughter of Athena." Annabeth answered. "Goddess of wisdom, crafts and military strategy."
I lifted my eyebrows. "Son of Poseidon and a daughter of Athena? Aren't you like, supposed to be hating eachother over that whole city sponsorship contest your parents had a few millenia ago?"
"You know Greek mythology?" Annabeth asked.
"I know history." I shrugged. "And as it turns out Greek mythology is actual part of history so, yeah I suppose I do."
"Well." Annabeth crossed her arms smirking at Percy. "I used to hate him, still do sometimes, but he is a Seaweed Brain after all, so I have to go easy on him."
"Hey!" Percy protested.
"I'd have thought your parents would be against it." I interrupted.
Percy shot Annabeth a glare then said. "Oh Athena hates me alright." He put an arm around her shoulders with a smirk. "But I suppose after I saved the world, which includes the gods, I deserved a little reward."
"Don't brag Percy." Annabeth gave him a playful push.
"Hey." He raised a finger. "Braging rights are part of the reward."
All three of us laughed and Mrs. O'Leary looked at us curiously.
"Anyway." Said Annabeth. "Who's your godly parent?"
"Apollo." I said. "Found out last night."
"Apollo?" Percy lifted an eyebrow. "Never seen an Apollo kid with red hair, most of them are blonde."
"I guess my mortal parent genes won." I smiled.
"Apollo's alright." Percy continued. "Well, as long as he doesn't sing haiku." He shuddered.
"Percy!" Annabeth punched his shoulder.
"You've met my dad?" I asked.
"Sure." He said. "We've met all the Olympians, heck, Annabeth's in charge of rebuilding Olympus."
"Which you wrecked." She retorted.
"What?" He protested. "I did no such thing, that was all Chronos' fault."
They'd probably have continued bickering like that but I stopped them.
"Okay guys." I held up my hands. "Nice talking to you, but I should get going, need to take a shower before breakfast." I gestured at my filthy t-shirt.
Percy frowned. "Good point, for some reason dog slime doesn't fall into Poseidon's sphere of influence, doesn't dry out."
Annabeth smirked. "We should get going too then, and I really need to talk to Chiron before breakfast."
"And let me guess." Percy muttered. "I'm not allowed to listen in."
Annabeth nodded as if it were obvious. "You've learned."
Before we left, Percy told Mrs. O'Leary to go for a run. In response she quite happily ran away from us, jumped, and was suddenly sucked into a shadow created by one of the collums.
"Shadow travel." Percy explained. "She can do that."
I followed Percy and Annabeth out of the arena as we headed towards the cabins.