|The Lost Heroes
Author: Amusingly Hyper PM
What if Reyna had gotten taken from Camp Jupiter instead of Jason? An adventure that involves evil witches, wind dudes, charmspeaking best friends, and fighting off the advances of a certain Leo Valdez.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor/Adventure - Reyna & Leo V. - Chapters: 2 - Words: 15,219 - Reviews: 20 - Favs: 16 - Follows: 27 - Updated: 04-06-12 - Published: 03-04-12 - id: 7895067
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Muse: Hello people reading this update at the very moment.
Hyper: Hello random stalkers.
Muse: I'll just start with the disclaimer: We don't own this series of demigods fighting weird mythological beasts. Richard Riordan does.
Hyper: At least until we manage to convince him to sell us the rights so we can write lots of Leyna into HoO before the world ends this December!
Muse: That is an inside joke, just to let you know. So yeah, go read what we co-wrote down there.
Hyper: Although, honestly it was mostly Muse writing it. I just spaced out...bad work ethic? :S
Muse: I forced her to help though. Now start reading young readers.
After that surreal morning of storm spirits, goat gym coaches, and best friends that are good with knives, Piper should have been freaking out. But all she could feel was dread. It's starting, she thought. Just like the dream said it would.
She was standing towards the back of the chariot, behind everybody while that bald guy, Butch, handled the reins, the scary blond, Annabeth, adjusted a bronze compass, and Leo and Reyna looked out around them wonderingly. The sky was clouded over with storm clouds that Piper couldn't help but stare at nervously. The chariot lurched and bumped as they traveled towards the east.
There were no seat belts and the back of the chariot was wide open. She wondered if someone fell out, then they could be saved before they dropped to the ground. She noticed Reyna look uncomfortable as they moved further from the Grand Canyon.
Meanwhile, Leo was being a dork, as always. He choked on a pegasus feather that got lodged in his mouth, but when he spit it out he was still grinning. "This is so cool, guys!" he said.
"Not really," Piper heard Reyna mutter. Her friend was definitely acting weird ever since this morning. The two had been friends since the first day of school, but now it seemed like she didn't even know Reyna anymore. She needed to have a serious talk with Reyna about this when the chariot lands.
"So," Piper changed the subject, "where are we going anyway? You said a camp, right?"
"A safe place," Annabeth answered absentmindedly. "The only safe place for people like us. Camp Half-Blood."
"Half-Blood?" Piper tensed. She hated that word. She had been called one too many times being half-Cherokee and half-white and it was never a compliment. "Is that some sort of joke?"
Reyna turned to her. "She's talking about demigods," she spoke up. "Half-god and half-mortal, like Heracles."
Annabeth raises an eyebrow at Reyna. "You seem to know an awful lot. But yes, demigods. My mom is Athena, goddess of wisdom. Butch is the son of Iris, the rainbow goddess."
Leo hid his laugh with a sort of strangled cough. "Your mom is the goddess of rainbows?"
"Got a problem with that?" Butch said while narrowing his eyes at Leo. Leo held up his hands.
"Not at all. I like rainbows. Rainbows are badass."
"Butch is our best equestrian," Annabeth explained. "He gets along great with the pegasi."
"Rainbows and ponies? Cool," Leo muttered sarcastically.
"I will toss you off this chariot, kid," Butch warned.
Piper cut into their conversation. "You mean you think that you're... and we're demigods?"
Lightning crackled in the distance, making the chariot shudder. "Is one of the wheels on fire?" Reyna asked loudly over the sharp winds. Piper stepped back. Sure enough, the wheel was burning, white hot fire lapping up the side of the chariot and engulfing it in flames. She glanced back again and saw some of the dark clouds behind them change form into storm spirits except these looked more like horses than angels.
She began to say, "What are they-"
"Anemoi come in different shapes," Annabeth explain. "Sometimes human, sometimes stallions, depending on how chaotic they are. Hang on. This is going to be rough."
Butch cracked the reins and sent the pegasi racing away from the dark clouds. The burst of speed caused the chariot to blur. Piper's stomach churned violently. Her vision clouded, and when it came back, they were in a different place from early. She blinked past spots in her eyes to get a closer look.
A gray colored ocean stretched out to the left. Dozens of snow-covered hills, roads, forests spread out to the right. Right below the chariot was a lush green valley that seemed isolated from the fields of snow surrounding it and cut off in the north by water. Piper could see a cluster of buildings that resembled ancient Greek temples, along with a big blue mansion, some ball courts, a sparkling lake, and climbing wall that seemed to be spewing fire. Right as Piper was trying to force her mind to understand what it was seeing, the wheels abruptly fell off of the chariot and they began to fall out of the sky.
Annabeth and Butch scrambled to keep control of the reins and level out the chariot. The pegasi tried to help the two demigods keep on the flight path, but they must have been too exhausted from the sudden burst of speed and started to droop downwards.
"The lake!" Annabeth screamed at Butch. "Aim for the lake!"
With a dull sensation of horror, Piper recalled something her dad had once told her in passing; something like how hitting water from as high up as they looked to be right now being as bad as hitting concrete.
And then, all of her thoughts were silenced by a deafening BOOM.
The most terrifying shock was from the ice cold water. Her mind was disoriented to the point where she couldn't tell which way was up.
She could barely process one last thought before she saw two faces appear in the green murk- girls with long black hair and yellowish eyes. They grinned at her and lifted her by her shoulders out of the lake. They tossed her, none-too-gently, onto the banks of the shore, where Piper instantly was assailed by a group of campers drying her with a bronze blow dryer. Apparently, people falling into the lake was a common occurrence around here.
There were at least twenty campers milling around- the youngest around eight and the oldest college aged, eighteen or nineteen- all in bright orange T-shirts like Annabeth's. Piper turned around and saw the two girls who saved her. Their dark hair curled on the surface of the lake. They waved like, toodle-oo, and sank back down into the depths. A second later the chariot wreckage appeared from the lake creating a wet crunch noise.
"Annabeth!" A blonde guy with a bow and quiver on his back complained while pushing through the crowd. "I said you could borrow the chariot, not destroy it!"
Annabeth flinched. "Sorry, Will," she sighed. "I promise, I'll get it fixed."
For a few moments, Will just scowled at the remnants of his broken chariot, but then he seemed to realize that Piper, Reyna, and Leo were standing there, as well. "These are the ones? They're way older than thirteen," he observed. "Have they been claimed yet?"
"Claimed?" Leo asked.
Before Annabeth could speak, Will cut in, "Any sign of Percy?"
"No," the older girl admitted. The campers muttered. Piper still had no clue who this Percy guy was, but his disappearance seemed to make the whole camp uneasy.
Another girl stepped forward. She was practically an Asian Barbie- tall, dark hair in ringlets, plenty of expensive jewelry, and perfect makeup. Somehow she made jeans and an orange shirt look like something a supermodel would wear. She glanced at Leo, gave a quick scan of Reyna, and then curled her lip at Piper like she were a week-old burrito pulled out from a Dumpster. Instantly, Piper recognized this girl's type. She was just like all of the other girls Piper had had to deal at the Wilderness School, and every other stupid school her dad had forced her to go to. Piper didn't even have to wonder if they would be enemies - she already knew, as she watched the smirk form on the other girl's face.
"Well," Asian Barbie said, "I hope they were worth all the trouble."
Leo snorted. "Gee, thanks. What are we, your new play things or something?"
"How about before you judge us, you tell us where we are and how long we have to be here for?" Reyna added, looking around as if planning an escape route in her head if she probably wouldn't like any of the answers to her questions.
Piper had some of the same questions, but a wave of anxiety washed over her. Worth the trouble. If only they knew what that really meant to her considering her dream...
"Reyna," Annabeth addressed the other girl, interrupting Piper's train of thought, "I promise you that we'll answer your questions in good time. And Drew-" Annabeth threw a frown at Asian Barbie- "All demigods are worth saving. But I admit, the trip didn't accomplish what I had hoped it would."
"Hey," Piper cut in sharply. "We didn't ask to be brought here."
Drew sniffed. "And nobody wants you here, hon. Does your hair always look like a dead badger? Or is it always that limp and disgusting?"
Piper snarled and took a step forward, ready to beat Drew to a pulp, but Annabeth said, "Piper, stop."
Piper did, not because of Drew, but because she didn't want to be on Annabeth's bad side. She had seen an example about just how nasty the older girl could be when irritated.
"We need to make the new arrivals feel welcome," Annabeth said, with a pointed look in Drew's direction. "We'll assign them each a guide, give them a tour around camp. Hopefully by the campfire, they'll be claimed."
"Anybody care to tell me what claimed means?" Piper asked impatiently.
Suddenly, there was a collective gasp. The campers backed away. Piper thought at first she did something wrong. Then she saw the red waves of light on their faces making it look like someone lit a torch. She turned and her jaw dropped.
Floating over Leo's head was a blazing hologram of a fiery red hammer.
"That," Annabeth said, "is what claiming is."
"What did I do?" Leo stumbled backwards and almost fell in the lake. Then his eyes glanced up and he emitted a high-pitched yelp. "Is my hair on fire?" He tried to duck away, but the symbol followed him, bobbing and weaving so it looked like he was trying to write something with the flames on his head.
"This can't be good," Butch muttered, "The curse-"
"Shut up, Butch," Annabeth said. "Leo, calm down, you've just been claimed by-"
"A god," Reyna interrupted. "That's the symbol of... Vulcan, right?"
All eyes turned to fall on her.
"Reyna...how do you know that?" Annabeth asked cautiously.
Reyna didn't answer her. She just looked at Leo.
"Vulcan?" Leo demanded. "I don't even LIKE Star Trek. What are you talking about, Rey?"
"Vulcan is the Roman god of blacksmiths and fire," Reyna responded.
"Hephaestus," Annabeth corrected absentmindedly. "His Greek name is Hephaestus."
The hammer disappeared, but Leo kept swatting at the air like he was afraid it would follow him. "The god of what? Who?"
Annabeth sighed and turned to the guy with the bow. "Will, would you take Leo on the camp tour? Show him his bunkmates in Cabin Nine?"
"What is Cabin Nine?" Leo demanded. "And I am not a freaking Vulcan!"
"Come on, Mr. Spock, I'll explain on the way." Will put a hand on his shoulder and steered him towards the cabin area.
Annabeth turned her attention back to Reyna, who shifted uncomfortably under the blonde's piercing gray gaze. She studied her like she was a complex blueprint. Piper felt sympathy a bit of sympathy for Reyna; she knew what it was like to be considered a weirdo among weird people. Finally, Annabeth said, "Hold out your arm." Before Reyna could act, Annabeth snatched her arm away, exposing her forearm.
Piper saw what Annabeth was looking at and her eyes widened. Reyna had taken her windbreaker off after the dip in the lake, leaving her arms bare. On the inside of her arm was a tattoo. Piper had never noticed Reyna having a tattoo before. The tattoo couldn't have just suddenly appeared on her arm, but it was darkly etched on her skin: four straight lines like a barcode, with a sword and torch crossed over each other and the letters SPQR.
"I've never seen marks like these before," Annabeth commented. "Where did you get them?"
Reyna yanked her arm away from Annabeth. "I have already said this more than I want to today, but I don't know."
The other campers forged forward, trying to catch a glimpse at Reyna's tattoo. The marks seemed to bother them a lot - as if it were a declaration of war. They were soon met by a glare from Reyna, causing them to back off.
"They look burned into your skin," Annabeth observed.
"They were," Reyna said. Then she winced, as if her head ached. "I mean...I think so. I don't remember."
The other campers held their breaths and stared at Annabeth. It seemed like she was their leader, and all eyes were on her to give the verdict of what to do with Reyna.
"She needs to go see Chiron," Annabeth announced after the silence. She looked through the crowd. "Mitchell, would you take her to the Big House?" she asked a boy standing behind Drew. He stepped forward eagerly and looked at Reyna with a goofy smile on his face.
Reyna gave him a confused look. "What is wrong with you?"
"Nothing," Mitchell chirped. "Just excited to show a new kid around camp, is all!"
"Sure, that's all," a girl smirked from behind him. He rolled his eyes in reply.
Piper looked at him. She wondered what Leo would say if he knew about this Mitchell guy.
"So, are you taking me to this 'Big House' or what?" Reyna asked. He nodded quickly and, reaching out, grabbed her wrist and began dragging her away.
The crowd began to separate into different parts of the camp, leaving only Annabeth and Piper.
"Who's Chiron and why does Reyna have to see him?" Piper asked. "Is she in trouble?"
Annabeth hesitated for a moment before saying finally, "That's a good question, Piper. Come on, I'll give you a tour. We need to talk."
Piper soon realized Annabeth's heart wasn't really into giving the tour. She talked about all this amazing stuff the camp offered — magic archery, pegasus riding, the lava wall , fighting monsters — but she showed no excitement, as if her mind were elsewhere. She pointed out the open-air dining pavilion that overlooked Long Island Sound. (Yes, Long Island, New York; they'd traveled that far on the chariot.) Annabeth explained how Camp Half-Blood was mostly a summer camp, but some kids stayed here year-round, and they'd added so many campers it was always crowded now, even in winter.
Piper wondered who ran this camp, how it came to be, and who knew that she and her friends belonged here. She wondered if she would have to stay here full time, or if she would be any good at the activities. Could you flunk out of monster hunting? A million questions ran through her mind as they walked through the camp, but given how tense Annabeth seemed, she didn't ask them.
As they climbed up a hill on the edge of camp, Piper got an amazing view of the valley- the beautiful beach, a big stretch of woods, the creek, the canoe lake, the whole layout of Camp Half-Blood almost. Down below, she noticed that the cabins made a big Greek omega, with a big loop around the central green and two wings sticking out. Piper counted about twenty or more cabins. One was golden, another silver, and one with barb wire surrounding it, with a cabin covered in grass on the roof. Each one seemed to have its own special features.
It seemed so unreal to think that around this place was snowy fields and hills.
"This valley is protected from mortal eyes," Annabeth explained. "The weather is controlled too so that's why the snow can't enter in here. The cabins down there each represent a Greek god- where each of their children live."
"You're saying my mom was a goddess?"
Annabeth nodded. "You seem to be taking this awfully calmly."
Piper couldn't tell her why. She couldn't admit that coming to this camp just confirmed all the suspicions she had about her mom, why there were no pictures of her mother in the house, why Dad would never tell her much about how they met and why she left. But mostly, it meant that her dream was starting to become more of a reality. Soon they will find you, demigod, that voice rumbled. When they do, follow my orders. Cooperate, and your father lives.
Piper noticed her hands trembling. She clenched them into fists and took a shaky breath. "I guess after this morning, it's kind of easier to believe. Who's my mom?"
"We should know soon," Annabeth said. "You're what- fifteen? The gods made a deal to claim their children when they're thirteen."
"They made a promise last summer... it's a long story, but they had to swear that they would no longer ignore their demigod children, to claim them by the time they turned thirteen. Sometimes it takes longer to get claimed, but you saw how Leo was claimed so fast. Should happen for you soon. Tonight at the campfire, I bet we'll know who it is."
Piper wondered if she'd have a big flaming hammer over her head, or with her luck, something even more embarrassing. A flaming wombat, maybe. Whoever her mother was, Piper had no reason to think she'd be proud to claim a kleptomaniac daughter with massive problems. "Why thirteen?"
"The older you get, the more vulnerable to monsters you are," Annabeth elaborated, "and around thirteen is when it is the worst. That's why we send protectors into schools all over the country to find you guys before the monsters do."
"You mean like Coach Hedge?" Piper's stomach twisted.
Annabeth nodded. "He's, I mean, he was a satyr: half man, half goat. Satyrs work for the camp and help find half-bloods to take to camp once the time is right."
Piper had no trouble believing Coach Hedge was half goat. She'd seen the guy eat. She'd never liked the coach much, but she couldn't believe he had sacrificed his life just to save them. "What happened to him?" she asked. "When we went up into the clouds, did he...I mean, is he...is he gone for good?"
"Hard to say." Annabeth bit her lip. "Storm spirits... difficult to battle. Even with our best weapons, Celestial bronze, you still need to catch them off guard if you want to kill them."
"Reyna's knife turned them to dust," Piper recalled.
"She was lucky, then. If you hit a monster just right, you can dissolve them and send their essence straight back to Tartarus."
"Tartarus?" Piper was getting sick of people using words she couldn't understand.
"It's basically a huge abyss in the Underworld, where the worst monsters come from. Kind of like a bottomless pit of evil. Anyway, once monsters die, they can re-form again months, even years later in time. But since this storm spirit, Dylan, got away, I doubt he'll keep Hedge alive for long. Hedge was a protector, he knew the risks. Satyrs don't have mortal souls, so he'll probably be reincarnated as a tree or something."
Piper tried to imagine Coach Hedge as an angry clump of pansies, making her feel even guiltier about him being taken. She gazed down at the camp. Hedge died to get her here. Her mom's cabin was down there, which meant she also had brothers and sisters, more people she had to betray.
Do what we tell you," the voice urged. Or the consequences will be painful. Very painful. Piper tucked her hands tightly under her arms to stop the shaking.
"It'll be okay, Piper," Annabeth assured. "You have friends here. We know what you have been through. We all have been through some pretty weird stuff in our lives."
I doubt that, Piper thought. "I've been kicked out of five different schools around the West Coast in the past five years," Piper said. "Dad's running out of places to stick me."
"Only five?" Piper looked up to check if Annabeth was teasing, but she didn't appear to be. "Piper, we've all been labeled troublemakers. I ran away from home when I was seven."
"Seriously?" Piper asked in disbelief.
"Oh, yeah. Most of us are diagnosed with attention deficit disorder or dyslexia, or both-"
"Leo's ADHD," Piper said.
"Exactly. That's because our brains are hardwired for battle. Restless, impulsive- we don't fit in with other kids. You should hear about how much trouble Percy-" Her face darkened. "Anyway, demigods get a bad rep at schools. How'd you get in trouble?"
Usually when somebody asked that question, she would pick a fight or change the subject, or distract them. But since Annabeth had helped her around, for some reason she decided to tell the truth.
"I steal stuff," Piper admitted. "I mean not, like, really steal, but-"
"Is your family poor?"
Piper laughed bitterly. "Not even close. I just did it for... the attention I guess. My dad was only around for when I got in trouble."
"I can relate." Annabeth looked at her again curiously. "Wait, you said you didn't really steal? What do you mean?"
"Well," Piper paused. She doubted for a minute that Annabeth would believe her. Then again, she was driving a chariot of pegasi not too long ago. "Nobody believes me. Not teachers, the police, or even the people I stole from: they get embarrassed and denied what happened. But the truth is I don't steal. I ask people for things and they just give me them. I once even got a BMV convertible. I just asked if I could take it for a spin and the dealer was like, 'Sure. Go ahead.' Later, I guess he realized what he did and called the cops on me." Piper waited for Annabeth to accuse her of lying just like everyone else did. When she looked up, she saw Annabeth nodding.
"Interesting. If your dad were the god, I would say you were a daughter of Hermes, god of thieves. He can be pretty convincing. But your dad is mortal..."
"Very mortal," Piper agreed.
Annabeth shook her head, apparently puzzled. "I'm not sure then. Hopefully your mom will claim you tonight."
Piper almost hoped it wouldn't happen. Would her mom know about her dream? What she was asked to do? Did Olympian gods blast their kids with lightning for being evil? Annabeth was studying her. Piper decided she was going to have to be careful about what she said from now on. Annabeth was no idiot. If anyone could figure out her secret, Annabeth could.
"Come on," Annabeth said once she finished her analyzing. "There's something I need to check on."
They hiked a little further up the hill until they reached a cave at the top. Bones and old swords littered the ground around it. Torches were lit in the entranceway that was covered with a dark red velvet curtain embroidered by snakes. It looked like the set up for a twisted puppet show. "What's in there?" Piper asked.
Annabeth poked her head through the curtain for a brief second. She sighed and closed the curtains. "Nothing right now, but a friend's place. I have been expecting her for a few days, but so far there has been no sign of her."
"Your friend lives in a cave?" What next was Annabeth going to tell her?
Annabeth cracked a weak smile. "Actually, she lives in a luxury condo in Queens, and a dorm at a Connecticut boarding school. But when she's here at camp, she lives here. She's our oracle, tells the future, and I was hoping she would help-"
"Find Percy?" Piper guessed.
Annabeth frowned deeply. She sat down on a rock, looking like she just had all the energy she had sucked out of her. Piper felt awful for bringing it up and seeing the other girl's expression forced her to jerk her head away. Her eyes drifted to the crest of the hill, where a single pine tree dominated the skyline. Something was glittering from its lowest branch-a fuzzy golden bath mat.
Wait, no...not a bath mat...It was a sheep's fleece.
Okay, Piper thought. Greek camp, replica of the Golden Fleece. She was sure she would soon see a model of the Trojan Horse lying around. Then she noticed something at the base of the tree. At first she thought it was a bunch of purple cables, but when she looked closer, she saw a snake like creature with glowing yellow eyes, clawed feet, and smoking nostrils.
"Is that a- a d-dragon?" Piper stammered. "Is that really the Golden Fleece?"
Annabeth nodded, though it was clear she wasn't actually paying much attention. She shoulders slumped and she rubbed her temples, taking a shaky breath. "Sorry. A little tired."
"You look ready to pass out," Piper said. "How long have been searching for your boyfriend?"
"Three days, six hours, and about twelve minutes."
Piper was shocked she could keep track of all the time. "And you've got no idea what happened to him?"
Annabeth shook her head miserably. "No, and nobody else does. We were so excited to get off for winter break early. It was going to be so great. Then after the campfire, he kissed me goodnight, and then the next morning, he just disappeared without a trace. We searched the whole camp. We contacted his mom. We tried everything to contact him but there still has been no sign of him."
Piper gave her a sympathetic look. But then she realized her dream happened on the same night Percy was gone. "How long were you guys together?"
"Since August eighteenth," Annabeth said, "his birthday."
Piper blinked. "That's the same day that Leo and I met Reyna."
Annabeth sighed. "Piper, maybe you should sit down." She scooted over on her rock.
Piper's eyes widened. "Look, I know Reyna said she just appeared on the bus this morning, but it's not true. It can't possibly be. She's been my best friend for four months."
"Piper," Annabeth said. "It's the Mist."
"M-i-s-t. It's the magical veil that separates the mortal world from the magic world. Mortal minds can't process strange stuff like gods and monsters, so the Mist bends their view of reality. For example, mortals would see the dragon as a giant pile of cables. It makes mortals able to understand it in a way they know."
Piper gulped. "But Leo and I aren't regular mortals, we're demigods, remember? You said so."
"Even demigods can be affected by the Mist. I've seen it many times. Monsters use it to infiltrate schools and make people believe they were actually there. That they are human. The Mist can change memories and even create memories-"
"But Reyna isn't a monster," Piper protested. "She's a normal human or demigod, and she's the only real friend I have had in a long time. My memories are real. I remember Leo dragging Reyna along with us to light Coach Hedge's pants on fire, and the meteor shower on the roof..." Piper continued to ramble on about all the semester she spent at the Wilderness School. She talked about how Reyna didn't care about what other people thought about Piper and Leo, how they shared a dorm room, she even put up with Leo's corny jokes and flirting. Reyna had been the one person who accepted her for her, not for her past. All that couldn't be fake, could it?
Annabeth pursed her lips. "Okay Piper, I have to admit your memory is a lot sharper than most others' but if you know her so well-"
"I do know her," Piper shouted.
"Then where is she from?"
Piper's mind went blank. "I don't remember..."
"Did you notice her tattoo before? Who are her parents? Does she even have a family? What about friends or her last school?"
"I, um, I..."
"Piper, what is Reyna's last name?"
Piper didn't know. "So, me and Leo really don't know Reyna, and Reyna doesn't know who she is either?" Piper felt like crying. Her best friend turned out to be someone she probably never even met before the bus ride to the Grand Canyon. She sniffed. She felt like an idiot for letting the Mist trick her. This was just too much.
Why did everything good have to turn out to be a lie? Did everything that was good in her stupid, miserable life have to be taken away? First her dad, now one of her only real friends.
Yes, the voice had said. Yes, unless you do exactly as we say.
"Calm down Piper, we'll figure it out," Annabeth reassured. "I know it seems like too much, but soon you'll have siblings and other friends to help cope."
Unlikely, Piper thought, if the dream comes true. But she couldn't admit that to her.
"I just can't believe all this is really happening to me and my friends. This morning, I thought we were just normal problem kids, but now... Why can't Reyna remember anything?"
"Those are good questions," Annabeth sighed. "We'll figure it out. Reyna's here now. Who knows? Maybe you and she can still be friends."
"I hope so." Piper really did, though she doubted Reyna wanted a traitor best friend. She had to either betray her friends, Or lose everything, the voice said. Piper gazed down at the cabins below. A new home, new friends, just more people to disappoint and betray. More people who would look at her with horror and resent once they found out what she had done- or, what she was going to do.
"You ready to go down there?" Annabeth asked.
"Yeah," Piper lied.
They walked down to the central green where a group of guys were playing basketball. They were all incredible shots, never missing a basket. "Whoa."
"Campers from Apollo's cabin," Annabeth clarified. "They have really good aim. A bunch of showoffs really with missile objects like basketballs and arrows."
Piper didn't reply, just nodding and looking around more. She saw a small group of kids near the central fire pit going at it with each other with swords. "Those are real blades," she noted, "and they are fighting with them. Isn't that dangerous?"
"Excuse the pun, but that's sort of the point," Annabeth replied. "My cabin is over there, Cabin Six." She gestured to a gray building with an owl carved over the door. Through the open doorways, Piper could see various bookshelves, display cases, and one of those computerized SMART boards that you could draw on. Two girls were looking at a map projected on it.
"Speaking of blades, I have something else to show you." Annabeth ushered Piper behind the cabin to a big metal shed.
"Gardening tools?" Piper looked at the shed warily. "Why would you need gardening tools?"
Annabeth stayed silent and unlocked the shed. Piper soon found out that there were no gardening tools in the shed, but a deadly collection of weapons from swords, to spears, to clubs like Coach Hedge's. "Definitely not gardening tools," she muttered.
Annabeth walked right in and Piper followed close behind. Annabeth inspected the various selections of sharp implements and finally pulled out a crossbow. She handed it to Piper.
"Um..." Piper looked down at it. "How does it work? And why are we weapon shopping?"
"Every demigod needs a weapon," Annabeth explained. "For self-defense and training."
"How did you even get all these?" Piper saw a variety of swords, knives, and even a shotgun. Annabeth shrugged.
"We've amassed them over a period of time," she said evasively.
Piper put down the crossbow and started poking through a rack of swords when something caught her eye. "What is that?" She pointed. "Another knife?"
Annabeth nodded and carefully tugged on the handle. She presented it to Piper, who hesitantly took it from her. She weighed it in her hand, turning it over to look at all angles of it. The sheath was worn black leather, bound in bronze. The polished wood handle fit her hand perfectly. When she took off the sheath, she found it to be a triangular blade that was eighteen inches long- longer than Reyna's. Its surface looked finely polished to the point where her reflection was visible. It made her look older, more mature, and less scared.
"I like it," Piper said. "What type of knife is this?"
"It's a parazonium, a ceremonial blade. It was carried by high-ranking Greek soldiers. It was a symbol of power and wealth. Its name is Katoptris; it belonged to Helen of Troy."
"Wait, the Helen of Troy? From ancient Greece?" Piper eyed the blade again. "And you just have stuff from that time period lying around in this shed?"
"Pretty much." Annabeth grinned a bit.
"What does 'Katoptris' even mean?"
"It means 'looking glass'," Annabeth translated. "Which was appropriate considering that's what Helen mainly used it for."
Piper looked into the blade again. Her reflection changed to an image of purple flames and her father in chains. A grotesque face was next to the bonfire and Piper swore she heard the same laugh as in her dream. She dropped the dagger, face turning pale.
"Piper? Are you okay?" She felt Annabeth's hand on her shoulder.
"Yeah. I'm fine. It's just overwhelming, all this." She picked the knife back up with her tremulous fingers.
Annabeth nodded sympathetically. "I understand."
She still shook a bit. "But, I'd like to keep the knife. If that's okay," she added. Annabeth nodded again.
"Sure," Annabeth said, "but you turned really pale there."
"I'm fine," Piper assured. "Is there a phone around I can um, call my dad with?"
Annabeth's intense gray eyes seemed to cut through her mind, trying to read Piper's thoughts. "We aren't allowed to have phones," she said. "When most demigods use phones, it acts as a sort of signal that attracts monsters. But... I have one." She carefully slipped it out of her pocket like there was a hidden camera around in the shed. Actually, considering all the weird stuff around, didn't seem so unlikely to be possible. "Kind of against the rules, but it can be our little secret. Just try to make it quick."
Piper took it gratefully. "I promise." She took the phone and stepped away from Annabeth. She called her dad's private line, her hands still shaking a bit. It went straight to voicemail. She probably should have known it would happen for the times she tried to call at the Wilderness School. The school only let them have one phone call a day, and calling every evening got her nowhere.
Reluctantly, she dialed the number of her father's office. "Mr. McLean's office," the voice on the other end said quickly, the one of her dad's personal assistant.
"Jane," Piper said through gritted teeth. "Where's my dad at?"
Jane fell silent, probably trying to figure out how to hang up without being too rude. "Piper, I thought you weren't allowed to call from school?"
"Maybe I'm not at school," Piper challenged. "Maybe I ran away to live in the forest with all the woodland creatures."
Jane scoffed. "Sure you did. Well, I'll let him know you called."
"Where is he?"
"Out," the assistant said curtly.
"Out where? Or maybe you don't know." Piper lowered her voice to not draw any unwanted attention. "Why haven't you called the police yet? He could be in serious trouble."
"Piper. We are not going to turn this into some media frenzy. This isn't an out of the ordinary thing. He takes off occasionally. I'm sure he will be back soon."
"But you don't know that." Piper wanted to scream at the woman. "Just please-"
"Goodbye Piper," Jane cut off. "Enjoy school." Piper heard the phone being slammed down, making the line dead. She cursed and went to give Annabeth her phone back.
"Everything alright?" Annabeth peered at the other girl. Piper didn't answer, afraid she might almost cry again. Annabeth looked at the phone display. "McLean? Sounds familiar..."
"Common name," Piper said quickly.
Annabeth looked unconvinced, but she dropped the subject. "Okay. Are you hungry?"
"Not really. Can we continue the tour or are we done?"
"The rest of the cabins," Annabeth said reluctantly. She gestured for Piper to follow her as she started walking towards the cluster of buildings that Piper had seen earlier. Piper thought all the cabins were pretty cool, but none of them seemed like the one she belonged in. No burning signs appeared over her head.
Cabin Eight was silver-colored and glowed like moonlight. "Artemis?" Piper guessed.
Annabeth nodded. "You seem to know more about Greek Mythology then most new campers."
Piper bit her lip. "Well, my dad, he and I used to read them together when he was working on a project." She looked at Annabeth before lamely adding, "He's an artist who does stuff with like, mythology and Cherokee history."
"An artist," Annabeth repeated.
"Yeah..." That wasn't technically a lie. Acting is an art, right?
"Anyways," Annabeth continued, "Artemis is goddess of the moon and hunting. She has no children because she's an eternal maiden."
"Oh." Piper was kind of bummed that she couldn't be a child of Artemis. Artemis had always been one of her favorite goddesses to read about.
"Well there are the Hunters of Artemis. Her hunting companions who occasionally stop by camp and live here. They're a band of immortal teenage girls who go around hunting monsters and stuff."
Piper half-smiled. "Sounds cool. They get to be immortal?"
"Pretty much- aside from dying in combat or breaking their vows- they get immortality. Although, they do have to swear off boys and dating for eternity."
"Oh..." Piper said. "Never mind."
Annabeth laughed. Maybe Annabeth wasn't as scary as she seemed on the ride to camp. She might even be a good friend. Stop thinking like that, Piper reminded herself. Soon no one will want to be your friend.
They passed the next cabin, Cabin Ten. It looked like a Barbie doll house with lace curtains, a pink door, and bright flowers in the windows. The smell of perfume coming from inside almost made Piper gag. "Gah, is this where supermodels go to die?"
Annabeth smirked. "Pretty close, but Aphrodite's cabin. Goddess of beauty and love. Drew is the head counselor."
Piper rolled her eyes. "I'm not surprised."
"They aren't all bad. The last head counselor was great."
"What happened to her?" Piper asked innocently.
Annabeth's expression darkened. "Let's keep moving."
They went through the line of cabins. One by one Piper made a mental list of who might be her mother. Demeter, the plant goddess? No; Piper was a notorious plant murderer. Athena? Maybe. Hecate was cool. But it didn't matter because she would just end up as the unwanted child again.
"We started with the twelve Olympian gods," Annabeth explained. "Then we started adding on cabins for the gods who didn't have thrones on Olympus."
"What are the two big cabins on the end?" Piper pointed.
Annabeth frowned. "Zeus and Hera's cabins. The king and queen of the gods." Piper followed Annabeth towards the cabins, but Annabeth didn't seem like she wanted to talk about them. The Zeus cabin reminded Piper of a bank, marble white with big columns out the front and polished bronze doors emblazoned with lightning bolts. Hera's cabin was smaller but done in the same style, except her cabin's doors had peacock feather designs that shimmered in different colors. Unlike the rest of the cabins, these two seemed silent and closed, like no one lived there for years.
"Are they empty?" Piper asked.
Annabeth nodded. "Zeus went a long time without having demigods, mostly. He, Poseidon, and Hades, the Big Three, took a vow not to have demigod children because of a prophecy- long story. Their kids are really powerful and dangerous. For the last seventy years, they tried to avoid having kids."
"Tried to avoid?"
"They um... cheated the vow sometimes. I've got a friend Thalia who is the daughter of Zeus. My boyfriend Percy is the son of Poseidon. And a son of Hades- Nico- shows up occasionally. Other than that, there are no other children of the Big Three that we know of."
"And Hera?" Piper looked at the peacock embroidered doors.
"The goddess of marriage." Annabeth sounded like she was trying not to curse. "She doesn't have any kids. This cabin is just honorary."
Piper studied Annabeth's expression. It looked like she was physically forcing herself to keep a somewhat calm composure. "You don't like her."
"We have a long history," Annabeth admitted, turning away from the cabin. "I thought we'd made peace with what happened in the past, but when Percy disappeared... I got this strange vision in my dreams from her, telling me to go to where you three were."
"You thought Percy would be there," Piper stated.
"I would rather not talk about it. I've got nothing good to say about Hera right now."
Piper looked at the base of the doors. "Who comes in here then?"
"No one. It's just an honorary cabin, like I said. No one goes in it."
"Someone does." Piper gestured to a footprint on the dusty threshold. She stepped closer to the doors and swung them open.
Annabeth stepped back. "Piper, we aren't supposed to-"
"We have to see who it is, right? Besides, you said that demigods are known troublemakers." Piper walked in to the nearly empty cabin. It felt as cold as a freezer, with a circle of white pillars around the central statue of the goddess. The statue was ten feet tall and seated on a throne with flowing golden robes. Piper had always thought that Greek statues were white with blank eyes, but this one looked actually human but larger. It's piercing eyes seemed to follow Piper.
At the goddess's feet, a fire burned brightly in a bronze brazier- the only source of light in the whole cabin. Piper wondered who tended it if nobody ever went in. A stone hawk sat on Hera's shoulder, and in her hand was a staff topped with a lotus flower. The goddess's hair was done in dark plaits. She was smiling, but her eyes looked cold and calculating, as if she were saying: Mother knows best. Cross me and you will be severely punished. The cabin seemed like a tomb.
No, this was definitely not her mother. She hadn't come here because of a good connection, but really because she sensed there was something here that went with the horrible ultimatum she was given. Her eyes scanned around the cabin trying to find what that exactly was. They landed on a new figure, making Piper freeze.
The figure was behind the statue at an altar in the back. The figure was covered in a black shawl, making only her hands visible. Whoever it was seemed to be chanting some sort of spell or prayer.
Annabeth peeked out from behind Piper making her jump in surprise. She had barely remembered Annabeth was still around. "Rachel?" Annabeth gasped.
The figure turned, dropping the shawl. It was a girl older than Piper with a mane of curly red hair and a freckled face that didn't go with the seriousness of the shawl. She looked like a totally normal teen in a green blouse and marker-covered jeans. Despite the cold floor, she was barefoot.
"Hey, Annabeth!" She ran to give Annabeth a hug. "I'm so sorry! I came as fast as I could." They talked for a few minutes about Annabeth's new boyfriend and how there was no news until finally Annabeth noticed Piper standing uncomfortably next to them.
"Sorry, I'm being rude," Annabeth said. "Rachel, this is Piper, one of the demigods we rescued today. Piper, this is Rachel, my friend who lives in the cave you saw earlier."
Rachel smiled. "Yup. I'm the oracle, teller of prophecies."
"So you can tell the future?" Piper raised an eyebrow.
"More like it mugs me from time to time," Rachel said. "The oracle's spirit kind of hijacks my body and speaks important things no one understands. But yeah, I can sort of tell the future."
Piper awkwardly shifted from foot to foot. "Oh... cool."
Rachel laughed. "Don't worry. Everyone finds it a bit creepy, even me. But usually I'm harmless."
"Are you a demigod too?"
"Nope," Rachel said. "Just mortal."
"Then what are you doing here?" Piper waved her hand around.
Rachel's smile faded. She glanced between Annabeth and Piper. "Just a hunch. Something about this cabin is linked to Percy's disappearance. I've learned to follow my hunches, especially since the gods went silent last month."
"What do you mean by went silent?" Piper asked.
Rachel frowned. "Haven't you told her, Annabeth?"
Annabeth turned to Piper. "I was about to talk to her about it before she came in here. For the last month...while it's normal for gods to not talk to their kids, we can get messages from them now and then, some of us can even go to Olympus. I spent practically a whole semester at the Empire State Building."
"The entrance to Olympus these days." Annabeth let that sink in before continuing.
"Annabeth was helping redesign Olympus after it was damaged in the Titan War. She's an amazing architect. You should see the salad bar," Rachel added to help explain.
"Anyways," Annabeth continued, "the gods fell silent a month ago. The entrance to Olympus was closed, nobody could get in. Nobody knows why. It's like the gods sealed themselves away. Even my mother won't answer my prayers and, our camp director Dionysus was called back."
"Your camp director was the god of wine?" Piper asked.
"Long story. But that's it really. Demigods still get claimed, but there're no messages from the gods. It's like something bad has happened- really bad. Then Percy disappeared."
"And Reyna showed up on our field trip with no memory," Piper supplied.
"Who's Reyna?" Rachel asked.
"My... friend," Piper said hesitantly.
"Right," Annabeth said. "The first communication from a god in a month, and it's Hera, the least helpful goddess, and she contacts me through my dreams, her least favorite demigod. She tells me I'll find out what happened to Percy if I go to the Grand Canyon skywalk and look for a girl with a purple shirt. But all I found was Reyna, Piper, and the other kid there, Leo. It doesn't make sense."
"Something definitely bad is happening," Rachel agreed. Piper wondered if Rachel could help make sense of her dream. Maybe if she told them about it, they could figure out what to do.
"Um, actually can I-" Before she could continue, Rachel's body stiffened. Her eyes began to glow with a greenish light and she clamped onto Piper's shoulders tightly.
Free me, she said. But it wasn't Rachel's voice. It sounded like an older woman, speaking from somewhere far away, down a long, echoing pipe. Free me, Piper McLean, or the earth shall swallow us. It must be by the solstice.
Piper felt the room spin. Annabeth tried to pry Piper free from Rachel to no avail. Green smoke whirled around them, and Piper was starting to think she was dreaming. The statue in front of them seemed to rise from its throne. Its eyes bore into Piper's.
The statue's mouth opened, its breath like horribly thick perfume. It spoke in the same echoing voice: Our enemies stir. The fiery one is only the first. Bow to his will, and their king shall rise, dooming us all. FREE ME!
Piper wobbled. Her head throbbed as her surroundings went black.
Muse: Yes, Piper has issues. All of the teens we write fanfiction about have issues.
Hyper: And poor Leonardo will be having the worst of them next chapter *cue gleeful yet scary face*
Muse: Mwah-ha-ha. I can't wait for the next installment. Hopefully this time, Hyper will not be spacey.
Hyper: I can assure you that I will not be; Leo is so much more fun to write about than Piper.
Muse: Ciao for now and please leave some comments in a review if you want.
Hyper: What she said! Buh-bye, now.