Now, you might be asking yourself How come he's not loosing his mind over all this? Well, to be perfectly honest, I thought I was slowly loosing my mind, and I was panicking, internally. But I thought that if I was going mad, there was nothing I could do about it, so best just play along.
Once again I repeat, Camp Half-Blood was a pretty cool place. Will showed me the climbing wall up close, still wasn't a fan. He introduced me to a bunch of Aphrodite kids, mostly girls, who looked at me as if I was fresh meat brought in for slaughter, I was glad when we moved on. He led me past one of the cabins where I met a couple of Hephaestus kids who looked friendly enough, covered in soot and oil stains, they were instantly reckognisable as children of the god of blacksmiths and fire. They all shook my hand and welcomed me to the Camp, but at the same they seemed a little preoccupied, their eyes revealing a twinge of sadness in them.
"It's because of Beckendorf." Will explained once we'd moved on, as if reading my mind.
"Beckawho?" I asked.
"Counselor of Hephaestus cabin, he died in the battle against Kronos." Will said sadly. "He was a good guy, even the Ares cabin respected him, best smith in the camp." He sighed. "The other Hephaestus kids haven't been the same ever since."
I didn't say anything, which was my way of showing respect for dead people I never knew.
"Brace yourself." Will said warningly. "You're about to meet the spawn Ares."
He sounded like he didn't really want to do this, very encouraging.
Outside the cabin slash armory were only two kids, a girl and a boy. The girl, with short blonde hair and chizzled on scowl was standing cross armed talking to the younger looking boy, who was a head shorter than her and looked quite terrified. She seemed to be reprimanding him for something.
"Clarisse!" Will called, sounding reluctant. The girl Clarisse turned.
"What?" She scowled at Will. For a girl, she was quite muscular and bulky, and wore a full set of greek armor, a bronze spear slung across her back. She definitely looked like a daughter of the war god.
"Are you harrassing little children again?" Will asked. He seemed unfazed by her glare. Judging by his sarcastic tone of voice, I guessed these two were often at each others throats. "Go on Mike, get back to your cabin." The little boy gave Will a grateful look before bolting further down the path.
"You're lukcy kid!" Clarisse shouted after him. "But if I catch you trying to steal stuff from my cabin again, I'll pullverise you!" She returned her glare on Will. "What do you want?" Then her eyes landed on me. "Oh, the newbie is awake." She rolled her eyes and pushed past Will, I took a cautious step backward.
"I'd offer my hand but I get the feeling you'd rather break it than shake it." I said, lifting an eyebrow, just to show that I wasn't intimidated, not entirely. Oh, you think it's funny being intimidated by a girl? Trust me, at Camp Half-Blood you'll learn fast, girls are dangerous, especially when wielding sharp objects.
Clarisse glared at me. "Whatch it newbie." She said. "You're lucky you're injured and I don't fight invalids, otherwise I'd introduce your face with the floor." She kicked a bit of dirt for effect.
Usually when people threaten me, it's an empty threat so I can snap back with a burning comment, but I got the feeling this time the threat was real. Clarisse looked like she could konck out Arnold Schwartzeneger.
"Noted." I said, griping my spear tighter.
She glanced at it. "Nice spear, where'd you get it?"
Naturally, as a child of the war god, she'd be interested in weapons. "Spoil of war." I said simply.
She grunted. "Well, we'll see if you can use it in the arena." Then she looked back at Will, who had a surprised look on his face, probably because he had expected Clarisse to pullverise me the moment she layed her eyes on me. "You're still here?" She asked him.
Will pursed his lips. "Come on." He said, and we moved on.
"She's um, interesting." I said, once we were out of earshot.
Will rolled his eyes. "Pray you're not a child of Ares." He said. "They're your usual bully type kids, just imagine an entire cabin of them."
I didn't want to imagine. I'd had enough experience with bullies in my primary school days. I was one of those kids who usually happened to hang out with the kids that suffered from bullying, so I got involved a lot.
"I'd best not pray to Ares himself for that." I said.
Next up was Dionysus cabin. Unfortunately it was completely empty. When I asked why, Will explained.
"Oh Mr. D has only one child, he had two but, the war happened." He said with a sad tone in his voice. "Mr. D isn't a fan of demigods, he hates pretty much all of us and the feeling is mutual in most cases. It's been like that for millenia, ever since a bunch of demigods wronged his wife, Ariadne."
I remembered reading the book Ariadne for school, pretty boring, who knew it would ever be of any use. "Why do you call him Mr. D?" I asked.
Will shrugged. "It's easier to call him that, he's camp director so we see him all the time unlike the other Olympians who kinda pup up now and then, and when they do it's usually bad news."
"A god is camp director?" I lifted an eyebrow.
"Well until recently he was." Will said. "We don't know why but a couple of weeks ago he just disappeared, according to Chiron he was summoned back to Olympus by Zeus."
I let that sink in. So the god of wine, hater of demigods was part time director of a demigod summer camp, that must be nice.
The next cabin was Hermes cabin. More kids stayed in this cabin than any other I'd seen so far.
"Hermes cabin used to be full to bursting." Will explained. "The god Hermes was happy to take in any undetermined kids, since he is the god of travellers, among other things such as thieves and messangers." He said. "Ever since the war ended, most of them got claimed by their real godly parents and moved. Despite that Hermes cabin still packs the biggest number of demigods."
"I assume I'll be staying here then?" I asked, trying to get a glance inside through the open door.
Will nodded. "Unless you're claimed by the end of the day you'll stay here until your parent claims you."
I was just in the middle of wondering if Hermes could possibly be my godly parent when Will called. "Hey, Connor, Travis!" A moment later two guys my age poked their heads out.
Okay so, first, the normal stuff. I was pretty sure they were identical twins, almost the same height, same messy brown hair, same eyes, and identical sly grins. They both wore orange t-shirts and faded blue jeans.
Now the weird stuff. For some reason, one of them was covered in shaving foam and tooth paste, the other had hair loops in his hair and an eyepatch on his left eye.
"Sup Solace!" Called the one with the eyepatch.
"Who's the new guy?" Asked the other one.
Will glanced at me like Don't ask. "Guys." He said. "This is Davy, your potential new cabin mate."
Two identical evil smiles appeared on the twins' faces. What had Will said? God of thieves? My free hand immediately went to my pocket, even though it was empty.
"Cool." Said eyepatch. He approached me and offered his hand. "I'm Connor, counselor to Hermes cabin, this is my bro Travis." He said as shaving foam Travis shook my hand as well.
"Dude." Said Travis. "That spear of yours, totally wicked, pierced through a training automaton like cheese."
"Wait." I said. "How do you, what automaton?"
"Oh, don't worry." Said Travis, I was worried. "We um, borrowed your spear while you were asleep, not like you needed it. But it's cool, we put it back, that is the real one, I think."
"Real reassuring guys." I frowned. "You guys have automatons? Like, actual bronze robot dudes?" I asked.
Travis nodded. "We use them for training in the arena, much more of a challenge than a practise dummy, and less dangerous than a demigod. Plus the Hephaestos cabin can repair them in no time so we can bash them up again and again."
I glanced at my spear, wodering how I'd cope if I was faced by a bunch of automatons. "So where is the arena?" I asked.
"Just behind the cabins, near the forest next to the armory." Will said. "The forest is where we play capture the flag, it's filled with all sorts of monsters for demigods to hunt."
"Can't wait." I said, I wasn't sure if I meant it or was just being sarcastic.
"Anyways." Will said. "We'll leave you guys to your um, thing." He looked the brothers up and down.
"See you at dinner Faraday!" I shook their hands again and we moved on.
As we walked, Will stopping to point something out every now and then, I kept thinking who my father might be. I didn't have much to go on. I didn't know my mom because she travelled a lot. Hermes was the god of travellers, then again, he's also the god of thieves and that's not really my thing. I loved music, Apollo is the god of music, but then everybody loves music. We'll see tonight, I thought. I just hoped I wouldn't have a Darth Vader slash Luke moment when I found out.
Will was about to lead me towards the arena when I noticed the two big cabins ahead. These looked like actual temples. "Zeus and Hera?" I guessed.
Will nodded. "King and queen of Olympus, but their cabins are empty."
"Why?" I asked.
"Well Hera is the godess of marrige." Will said. "Unlike her husband she doesn't break her vows of marriage. And until recently, Zeus was one of three gods who wasn't supposed to have children. Decades ago Zeus and Poseidon forced Hades to make a pact not to have children because they were too powerful and caused too much trouble, like the Second World War for example."
For some reason the World War thing didn't surprise me. "Supposed?" I asked, the words hadn't escaped my notice.
Will smirked. "Weirdly enough Hades ended up the only one not to break the pact, he didn't have any new children. Meanwhile, Zeus had Thalia, who is now a Hunter of Artemis, and Percy is a son of Poseidon."
"Didn't have any new children?" I asked.
"As I said Hades didn't break the pact, but he's a smart god and even though he respects every deal, he'll eventually find a way to get around it somehow." Will said. "Before he agreed to the pact, he his his only two kids away in a magic hotel called the Lotus Cassino in Las Vegas. It's a weird place that acts as a time capsule, once you go in, it's almost impossible to get out, and if you do get out you'll probably find yourself a few decades in the future."
I shuddered. "I think I preffer the TARDIS."
Will chuckled. "Anyway, Hades put his two kids, Nico and Bianca in there, but they eventually got out a few years ago. So while Hades technically never broke the pact...as I said, he always finds a loop hole."
"Hades, god of the dead, lawyer in his spare time." I said, shaking my head. I tried to imagine how weird it would be to unwillingly find yourself in a different time period, with no going back. I decided then I'd never visit Las Vegas.
It took another half hour for for Will to show me the rest of camp. He showed me the arena, a wide circle surrounded by greek collums, filled with training dummies and yes, bronze automatons, currently inert, some of them strewn in bits across the floor. We passed next to the pegassus stables, and I had a slight panick attack when I almost got trampled by a girl riding a pure white pegassus as they came in for a landing. Will told me about pegassi and areal combat, which I'd soon be practising, I wasn't looking forward to that, I don't to well with heights. Then he led me by the strawberry fields where I met a whole bunch of satyrs who were playing their pan pipes, working some sort of nature magic to make the plants grow faster.
Finally, when we'd made a full circle, Will stopped just a couple yards away from the Big House and said. "Right, you should go see Chiron now, he'll want to speak to you."
"What about you?" I asked.
"I gotta get back to Apollo cabin, it's almost dinner time anyway, I'll see you there." And with that, he was gone.
I watched him go for a minute. The moment he was out of sight, instead of moving on, my legs turned to jellow and I collapsed on the floor. I crossed my legs and put my face in my hands. I'd managed to force myself to keep my cool during the tour but now that I was alone, I could afford a moment of absolute breakdown before attempting to get up again. I sat there for at least fifteen minutes, staring blankly at the floor while all the new information of the earthshattering variety kept bouncing around in my head. If my sanity was to be trusted, I'd just woken up in a summer camp for the children of all powerful immortal ancient gods, and apparently, my dad was one of those gods. My dad was an ancient Greek god and my mom doesn't bother to be a mother, I wasn't sure which was worse. A small part of me, that little kid that lives inside everyone, though Awesome, my dad is a god! But in reality, I wasn't so sure if I sould be jumping around in happiness. I knew the old myths, gods were usually bad news, and old demigod heroes never, if rarely had a happy ending. Another part of my brain though Wait, if Greek gods are real, are all the other ones real too? Egyptian, Norse, Aztec? But I quickly surpressed that thought, my brain was already short circuiting. I rubbed my face with my hands, trying to organise my thoughts. Usually I'm an optimistic person and I always have a way of looking at things positively, I was sure being a demigod couldn't be that bad. Sure, I'd almost died just a few days ago, but the important thing was I survived to tell the tale. And all the people I'd met so far at this camp, they didn't seem half bad, except maybe Clarisse but I never let myself be intimidated by bullies, even if they are perfectly capable of kicking my butt. I imagined living here at camp, training to survive future monster attacks. Then I compared it to my life so far. Sixteen years old, technically an orphan, lived most of my life in orphanages, attending school without the slightest idea of a plan for my future. Up till then I though I was happy with my lot in life, but looking back, I realised just how absolutley bored I'd been, what a boring existance I'd been living. Sure, I was an average student, I was good at history but I sucked at most other subjects, maths and science in particular, I wasn't a problematic child and got along well with most of my teachers, I'd made a few friends on the way too. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised I didn't want to go back to that life, which was basically just a constant circle of sleep, eat, school day in and day out. I picked up my spear which I'd dropped on the floor and examined it more closely. It was a pretty wicked weapon. A bronze spear tip the length of my forearm was connected to a shaft of the same metal, but it was surprisingly light. I ran my fingers the length of the spear, then I noticed a slight indentation in the middle, like a thumbprint, with the Greek letter delta, shaped like a triangle. Curious, I pressed my thumb into it. Instantly the whole weapon shuddered. I dropped it back on the floor and watched in amazment as the spear began to collapse in on itself. With a series of clicks the long shaft of the spear transformed into a much shorter grip, the blade stayed the same. Instead of a spear, I now had a short sword. I gripped the handle and couldn't help grinning when I felt it fit perfectly. I decided not to think about how this was possible because it wasn't the weirdest thing I'd seen today. I found the same button and pressed it with my index finger. Nothing happened. Then I tried with my thumb and immediately the sword shifted back into spear form. This time I didn't let go but let the thing expand in my hand. Really, it was worth being a demigod just for stuff like this. And I managed to kill a monster with this. I thought. It was then and there that I decided Hey, this whole demigod thing, I suppose I can live with it. I stood up on firmer legs, still marvelling at my weapon. Now, I'm not the violent type, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to killing more evil monsters with it.
"Chiron." I said to myself, and with a much more confidence in my step, I made was towards the Big House.
When I entered the living room, Chiron was already there, still in his wheelchair, his hands clasped together, staring into the blazing fireplace. I knocked on the door frame before stepping inside.
Chiron turned to see me. "Ah, there you are, I trust William has introduced you to our camp?" He asked.
"Yeah." I said. "It's a, pretty interesting place."
Chiron chuckled, turning his wheelchair around to face me. "I am glad you like it, you'll be spending your summers here training." He said. "If, you wish of course."
I raised an eyebrow. "I can say no?"
"Of course." Chiron nodded. "Though you'd probably be singing you death warrant by doing so." He gestured for me to sit down.
"Yeah, well." I said with a slight smile. "I've decided to stay." I sat down. "I'm still having trouble grasping this, well all of this." I gestured around the room. "But I know it's true, I'm pretty sure I'm not insane, not even my imagination could think up something this wild." I laughed at myself. "No use crying about it, just move on." My life's motto.
Chiron nodded, looking impressed. "I'm glad you think so, usually it takes a lot longer for new campers to adapt to their new reality, in some cases they refuse to." He said sadly.
"Why?" I asked, for the millionth time that day.
Chiron shrugged. "There have been a few cases, years ago, where the new demigods came from very strict religious familes. Imagine suddenly having your whole life of worshipping one god shattered with the news that there are more than one and that they have little to do with the Bible. Some simply refuse to believe it, they leave and, well, they don't last long." He frowned.
I knitted my eyebrows. "So, is there a God?" I asked. "Like capital G God, or Allah or whatever?"
Chiron raised his hands in surrender. "You ask big questions." He said. "But as old as I am even I can't answer that one."
I noticed Chiron shift uncomfortably in his seat as he glanced up at the ceiling. I decided to drop the subject.
"Anyways." I said. "I don't think I've thanked you, for saving my life, so yeah, thanks."
Chiron nodded, looking relieved at the change of subject. "Every demigod's life is worth saving, but you'll have to learn to protect yourself now." He said firmly. He was silent for a moment before saying. "Those things that attacked you, describe them for me again."
"Well." I though back to that night on the hill. "As I said, they were all wearing black Greek armor, had spears, some had shields, and they all had black bandannas on their heads."
Chiron scratched his beard. "I am not quite sure what this means, but I know of the soldiers you describe."
"Who are they?" I leaned forward in my seat.
"In the ancient times they were known as the Myrmidons." Chiron said. "They were legendary mortal heroes commanded by Achilles himself. Their black armor and the bandannas were their, trademarks you could say."
"Myrmidons." I repeaded the word. "But, weren't they good guys, afterall, they worked for Achilles, one of the most famous Greek heroes."
Chiron frowned. "True, the Myrmidons were once upon a time, great warriors. They followed Achilles and Achilles alone. But, after Achilles died during the siege of Troy-" A sad spark glinted in Chiron's eyes at these words. "-the Myrmidons were left masterless. They might have entered the service of another great hero, but Odysseus went missing after Troy and Ajax died shortly after the war." He sighed. "Eventually the once proud Myrmidons became nothing more than payed mercenaries, working for the highest bidder. They turned from honorable soldiers to feared brigands."
I was silent, staring at Chiron. I found it difficult to imagine myself in his shoes, or hooves. An immortal trainer of demigods, he'd trained all the great heroes of the ancient times, but they all died eventually, despite his efforts. I felt sorry for the old centaur. He's been training demigods for thousands of years, and he's seen each and every one of them die. For the first time I realised what a lonely existance immortality can actually be, seeing all your friends and family pass away, while you linger on forever. Maybe being immortal wasn't as cool as it seemed.
At last I said. "These Myrmidons, aren't they supposed to be like, in the Underworld or something?"
Chiron's face darkened. "They should yes, but..." He hesitated. "Strange things have been happening recently, I've heard tell of angry spirits escaping the Underworld before, but now." He frowned. "It's as if the Underworld has had a massive jailbreak."
"The Underworld had a jailbreak, great." I muttered.
"It is uncommon for so many spirits to escape Hades all at once, and why they'd come after you, I do not know." Chiron murmured, playing with his beard again.
"Yeah, I'm pretty curious about that too." I said. "If these guys are all ancient super heroes, why would they zero in on me? They seemed pretty determined to kill me." I emphasised the point by pressing the palm of my hand to the wound in my abdomen.
Chiron shook his head. "I cannot say, but this is not the first strange occurance I've heard of these past few weeks." His face cleared, and he forced a smile. "But that is my concern, what's important is that you are alive and recovering." He said. "Soon, you'll start your training, you'll have to learn how to use that weapon of yours." He nodded to the spear I'd leaned on the armrest of my chair. "This attack of the Myrmidons will not be the last of them, eventually, once you're ready, I think a quest will be in order."
"A quest?" I asked nervously.
Chiron nodded. "I will explain further once you're ready to lead one."
"Lead, a quest?" I backed into my chair slightly. "Hold on. I'm not, the leader type, and anyways, who would I lead?"
The old centaur smiled. "Oh it will be up to you to choose who can come along with you, before that day, you'll have plenty of time to make new friends."
"New friends." I said to myself. I'd already met a whole bunch of people. Will and the Stoll twins seemed like good people. "I suppose."
"Good." Chiron patted my soulder. "Now come, it's almost dinner time, wouldn't want you to miss your first dinner at camp."
I helped push him out of the house. Once we got to the front porch, he stopped, pressed a button on his wheelchair and the blanket covered legs suddenly retracted inside the chair, followed by a series of clicks. Then Chiron started to move. His lower body, where his legs should be, started to elongate into, yep he definitely was centaur. Somehow, someway, Chiron's entire white horse body was able to fit in a magic chamber connected to the wheelchair.
"Your wheelchair is a TARDIS." I said, looking amazed.
Chiron smiled, strecthing himself out, free of confinment, his long while tail swishing from one side to the other. "I've never heard that comparison before, but I suppose you could say that." Once he was done stretching out, he extended his arm towards me. "Up you get son, the others will be there in a minute, best not be late."
I grabbed his arm and hopped onto his back just as I'd done with Chariclo, wrapping my arms around his waist. I'd ridden horses before on a school trip, but centaurs were a different matter, and not just because they had a human body stuck to their front. Chiron jumped off the porch and galloped towards the dining pavillion.