Upon crossing through the barrier from the platform they couldn't spot Chiron. They frowned as they saw that instead of Chiron were two of the elder campers. The magical demigods shared worried looks.
'Where's Chiron?' Cat asked looking angry.
'There's trouble at the camp,' explained Colin sharply.
'What kind of trouble?' demanded Harry.
'Thalia's tree has been poisoned,' he snapped black-grey eyes glowing softly.
The demigods apart from ever dreamer Luna paled knowing what that meant. The wards of the camp were tied to that tree. Poisoning the tree would mean the wards would be weak due to the number of demigods in that camp every monster in a thousand miles would have scented them out and be at the wards trying and succeeding in breaking through the wards. They had to get there quick to help.
At least Harry could stop any Underworldian denizens from attacking the Camp. Then Eve could feed some of her own strength into the weakening magical wards. It would at least delay them from falling but if Thalia's tree had been poisoned it would only be a matter of time before the wards fell.
The only way to truly save the Camp was to save Thalia's tree. Harry racked is brain for the answer but no knowledge of healing came to him. Obviously it couldn't be done by the Children of Dementer or it would have been done already so what?
'Right Colin, we're going to Shadow Travel of Morty to Camp,' Harry said.
Colin as a child of Thanatos was one of the most understanding people in the Camp. Harry had been there first despite the fact that Colin was eighteen but the older boy hadn't arrived until he was thirteen and a half when Harry was eight and had been at Camp for a year. Harry had helped Colin with his own Shadow Travel.
'Good luck,' Colin said nodding at Harry. 'We'll be back as soon as we can.'
Eve, Cat and Luna followed Harry down a backstreet outside the station where Eve cancelled Dumbledore's shrinking spell on Morty. Morty stood there looking like a bulldozer. Of course, no mortal (unless they were clear sighted) would see anything but a normal dog.
However, as it was the end of Hogwarts term there would be multiple witches and wizards milling about who would not react well to a huge hellhound. British wizards hated dark creatures which hellhounds were. Hogwarts may be aware that Harry had a hellhound but the general public did not and Harry would have preferred to keep it that way.
Eve and Cat clambered on the hellhound without grace that Harry and Luna had. Harry and Luna, however, were going to ease the hellhound's luggage by Shadow Travelling themselves and the non-death demigods' luggage so Morty only had to carry Eve and Cat. Harry had Cat's trunk and Luna had Eve's.
Harry ordered Morty back to camp where they appeared in the middle of a battle. Harry stared in horror as he realised that Camp Half-Blood was being attacked. Camp Half Blood was supposed to be a place of safety and security for demigods the world over!
No longer, Harry realised looking around what was once there beautiful Camp. Harry remembered originally come here at the age of seven to gain safety and protection from the monsters that sought to end his life. Now he couldn't imagine other seven year old's in his and Annabeth's position doing the same.
Harry could see huge bronze Colchis bulls circling the camp far too close to the borders. Harry knew with the wards so weakened that the power and might of the stupid bulls would be easily a match for the wards. Harry gulped as he drew his sword.
Harry could see the children of Ares and the other campers were doing their best to hold them off luckily they were wearing Medea's sunscreen or so Harry thought as they hadn't yet been burnt to a crisp which they would have otherwise. Harry began summoning the dead to help them although they couldn't get close to the Colchis bulls without burning to the crisp the undead warriors were exactly that – undead – so be burnt well dead wouldn't harm them any. It was all Harry could so as he couldn't approach the bulls directly or he would be burnt alive because he unlike his fellow campers weren't wearing Medea's sunscreen.
Harry heard yelps and realised belatedly that the other campers probably thought that the undead were attacking the camp which wasn't exactly unfair as it had happened in the past. Look at what had happened to Thalia because Harry's father had wanted revenge on Zeus! Only Harry would have thought that after the Basilisk things would have been revealed.
Harry could practically feel the surprise of the other campers as the dead turned on the bulls instead. Okay they were set on fire but they were already dead so it did them very little if any harm but they were a distraction which allowed the demigods to regroup and some from Apollo's cabin to gather the injured. Harry looked around hoping against hope that no one had died but knowing without having to look that some were dead.
He could feel it.
Then out of the corner of his eye Harry saw Percy Jackson, Annabeth and a Cyclops of all things making their way out of the Chariot of Damnation. Annabeth began taunting one of the bull's which had reduced Harry's soldiers to ash and cinder. Before she turned invisible completely confusing the monster.
Harry and Luna leaped up on the hellhound acting to keep a hold of him whilst Eve and Cat had jumped off to join the battle. Harry was glad that he had Luna to hold him stable because the amount of necromancy and shadow travel he had performed today was quickly exhausting him but he wasn't about to leave the other demigod's on their own just because he was feeling a little sleepy. Luna behind him was directing the forces he was summoning.
Both Eve and Cat had their wands out and were cursing any bull that got close enough to them with everything they had. Eve was doing most of the work whilst Cat had her back keeping anything from attacking her. Harry turned away from then satisfied they were safe well as safe as you could be in the middle of a battle.
The battle was too fast paced (or Harry too tired) for Harry to catch much of what happened as he directed his warriors but finally there were only the two bulls left. One that Clarissa La Rue daughter of Ares and her forces were facing head off and the other that had just lost interest in Annabeth lumbering towards the daughter of Ares. Harry put the last of his strength into raising more dead to attack the bull just as Percy yelled out to warn Clarisse causing Clarisse to lose concentration and be crashed into.
Clarisse went flying and the bull breathed fire causing the heroes and the undead soldiers to be scattered and go on fire respectively. Clarisse was understandably not happy with the son of Poseidon as he pulled her out of the way of the bull. Harry doubted he would have been much happier with Percy in Clarisse's position.
As Harry's soldiers distracted one of the bulls Clarisse was able to impale the bull whilst the Cyclops impaled the other one. Somewhere in the fray Percy had ended up with a sprained ankle. Harry collapsed onto Morty as the injured border patrol limped back to camp to be replaced by the next lot who were distinctly nervous looking.
Harry blinked blearily as he came back to consciousness with all the suddenness of a heart attack. Harry looked around unsurprised to find he had ended up in the sickbay. Harry groaned in a very manly, not at all pitifully considering he was here out of exhaustion whilst his fellow demigods were here after being burnt by the Colchis bulls.
Cat and Eve on either side of him looking incredibly concerned about the son of Hades. Luna, on the other hand, at the end of his bed was looking completely calm. Harry knew this was because she could see his healthy life force or he thought that was the reason at least.
Luna had never revealed exactly how much she had inherited from her grandmother, Melinoe the goddess of ghosts. Harry had often wondered but the dreamy daughter of Athena had never revealed that to Harry. Harry wondered if she just liked being mysterious or was scared of what people's reactions would be.
Harry could see the other injured campers as he raised his head up with another groan as his head began to thud. Eve and Cat hurriedly checked if he was okay when they realised that he was up. Harry was quick to reassure them that he was just tired with a headache caused by overexertion.
'You might want to get rid of your soldiers,' Eve said.
Harry could hear the amusement in the brunette's voice now that she was reassured that Harry was completely fine although Harry didn't miss that she had handed Harry a bottle of nectar before speaking. Harry rolled his eyes at his overprotective friends as he took a sip of nectar pleased when his pounding headache vanished. Harry then pushed it back into Eve's hand before he took too much.
'It's scaring the campers,' agreed Cat with a laugh.
'Cat,' Eve rolled her eyes then frowned at Harry. 'You shouldn't have exhausted yourself like that it could have killed you!'
'I know,' Harry said quietly. 'I was just trying to save as many lives as possible.'
'You did,' Cat agreed.
'You're just lucky Luna was here to keep control of your dead when you went for a nap,' Eve added.
'Thanks,' Harry said to Luna.
Harry knew that Luna was unable to summon the dead to the land of the living but if they were already present she could command them almost as well as Harry as long as Harry or Hades hadn't ordered them to do something else. Harry's powers trumped Luna's every time. Harry was just glad that there was someone else present who could help when Harry was incapable of doing so.
'Tell me they haven't tried to attack them,' Harry snorted.
'A few,' Eve agreed. 'They stopped when Clarisse ordered them to.'
'My father has always had deal with Ares,' Harry agreed.
'He has?' asked Eve asked.
'Yeah, Ares gains the servitude of those fallen in war for a hundred years,' Harry explained.
'Do you think she has any experience with the undead?' asked Cat.
'No,' Harry said, 'she'll know but with the lack of quests she'll not have got first-hand experience of the undead soldiers. Where are they by the way?'
Cat snorted, 'patrolling the borders.'
'The Daughter of War asked for my help,' Luna smiled.
Harry nodded, 'I'll deal with them-'
'But first we have to see Chiron,' Eve said seriously.
'Why?' demanded Harry.
Harry could see the pain in Cat's eyes. Harry gulped all kind of worst case scenarios going through Harry's head at what could have happened to Chiron. Chiron had been granted immortality for as long as he needed so he couldn't be dead so surely nothing could be wrong with the centaur that had practically raised him and Cat but Harry was going through the injuries the centaur could have received from the attack.
'What's wrong?' demanded Harry.
'Clarisse said that Chiron is leaving,' Eve explained calmly.
Eve had only half lived at Camp as a child. Originally she had lived with her father and when he was on a mission for the aurors she lived with her grandmother. Then when Eve was eight years old both she and her grandmother were attacked by a Cyclops which killed her grandmother.
After that no other family member wanted to look after the young demigod and Ralph didn't trust any of them to look after her properly. It was the reason that Ralph managed to coordinate things with Chiron so that Eve was able to stay in Camp whenever he was away. This was the reason she did not have the close relationship with Chiron that Cat and Harry did because she already had a father.
'What! Why?!' demanded Harry angrily.
'Someone had to take the credit for the fading of the Daughter of Lightening,' Luna said.
'But Chiron would never do anything like that,' Harry said angrily. 'Surely the Lord of the Sky must know that!'
Harry still despite his anger and fury refused to use the King of the Gods name. Harry may have been furious but he wasn't suicidal. Harry knew that Zeus hated him enough without showing the Sky God any disrespect even if he deserved it.
'They won't care,' Eve said quietly. 'They need to punish someone even just for appearance sakes.'
'Then we have to prove that it wasn't him,' Cat said stubbornly.
Harry jumped out of bed running through the harried demigods. Harry could see the difference in camp from last year all too clearly and it made him sick. This wasn't home, the one place they were safe anymore.
This was a battlefield.
The older and long term campers patrolled the borders. Children of Ares prepared for the expected attacks. The children of Athena and Ares stockpiled weapons. Children of Athena and Hermes could be seen strategizing over old maps and plans.
'How long has it been like this?' whispered Harry.
None of the friends had anything to say to this as none of them had been here in the last few months. How long had Camp been like this? Why hadn't they been called back? They could have helped, couldn't they?
Harry and Cat had grown up in Camp Half Blood since they were about seven years old. Eve had been left at Camp Half Blood whenever her father was on a mission out of the country which was often considering how high up he was. And now the Camp they knew and loved was being destroyed.
'Come on,' Harry said impatiently.
Harry didn't want to dwell on what had been and what was now. There had to be some way to save Camp Half Blood. Harry prayed to his father for guidance. At this point Harry would have been ready to pray to Zeus if it had helped any.
On the way to the Big House Harry literally ran into Percy. Annabeth looked as upset as Harry and Cat were for the same reason. Annabeth had been rejected by her completely human father, stepmother and stepbrothers leading her fleeing to Camp Half Blood where she had found her father figure in Chiron as well.
Harry was a little awkward with the daughter of Athena but Annabeth greeted Harry with a hug needing it as much as her raven haired friend needed it. Harry realised at this that the news of his parenthood hadn't reached the ears of those who had not spent the whole year here. Otherwise Annabeth at least would have reacted far more negatively due to the fact that Harry's father had murdered her best friend which was something Harry could understand perfectly.
'Did you hear?' Harry demanded.
'About Chiron,' Eve clarified.
'We heard,' Percy said looking angry, 'that Chiron got fired. Why-?'
'The Sky Lord needs punishment for the fading of the Daughter of Lightening,' Luna said.
'But it's not Chiron's fault,' Annabeth said desperately.
'Do you really think that matters to Zeus?' Percy said bitterly.
Lightening crashed behind them causing Harry and Annabeth to jump apart as Harry's pale face was illuminated. Harry glanced upwards warily wondering why the other son of one of the eldest gods was so careless. Didn't he understand that the odds and the gods were against them for simply existing you didn't want to give the gods anymore reason to want you dead than the broken vow?
'Percy,' hissed Annabeth.
'Names have power,' sung Luna.
'Especially you,' Harry added.
Eve was about to open her mouth but Harry shot the brunette a Death glare shutting the brunette up. Harry knew that as much as he wasn't looking forward to it Harry would have to inform his friend of his parenthood before she found out from someone else but he wasn't looking forward to it. They had to talk to Chiron first and then Harry would have to try and work up the courage to tell his friend the truth.
'Later,' Harry mouthed to Eve. 'Come on,' Harry said to Annabeth and Percy. 'We have to get to the Big House. There has to be something we can do to prove Chiron's innocence!' Harry said eyes flashing Avada Kedavra green.
The others followed Harry with Percy just behind him. Harry knew that the son of Poseidon hated being told what to do because the sea bowed to no one. It made it very awkward with Harry and Percy both being natural leaders.
It didn't help that they were children of the Big Three who were by nature leaders. It was the same when any demigods of two of the Big Three came together. It was only when children of all three gods could any sort of balance be achieved between the demigods.
On the way to the Big House Harry could see how much Camp Half Blood had changed. The Cyclops, however, didn't seem to notice the demigods depressed mood as he questioned Percy – his half-brother – on everything. Harry could tell that the Cyclops was young by the way he was acting; probably just a child, an orphan on the streets which was the only reason Harry wasn't more annoyed with the incessant questioning of the young Cyclops.
They arrived at the Big House to find Chiron in his apartment listening to 1960s lounge music. Harry had always wondered why a thousand year old centaur's favourite music was 1960s lounge music but never had the courage to ask the centaur. Harry had just accepted it as one of Chiron's eccentricities.
Harry's eyes zeroed on Chiron packing his saddlebags. Harry's heart sank. Harry had hoped that Eve, Cat and Luna had gotten it wrong. It was only when Harry saw the saddlebags did it sink in that Chiron was really going!
'Pony!' the Cyclops cried out joyfully.
'Centaur,' Luna said clearly.
'Cen-tor,' repeated the Cyclops in stunted syllables.
Chiron still looked affronted at being called a pony and Cat's sniggers but looked calmer as he inspected the new demigod who had appeared before him. As he was doing so the Mark of Athena flashed above Luna's head. Chiron smiled at Luna.
'Daughter of Athena,' Chiron said. 'I'm sure Annabeth will be able to show you to Cabin Six.'
'Of course, Chiron,' Annabeth said automatically. 'Chiron what's happening? You're not … leaving?' Annabeth finished as a whisper.
Chiron gave Annabeth a sad smile, 'hello child.'
'It's true,' Annabeth said distraught.
'Percy, haven't you grown over the year. Harry, how are you after the Drakon?' asked Chiron giving Harry a piercing look.
'Better,' Harry said.
'Good,' Chiron said. 'It wasn't your fault.'
'Cat, I hope your classmates are treating you alright,' Chiron said. 'Eve, are you going to be staying over the summer?'
'I don't know,' Eve said, 'everything's changed.'
'Clarisse said that you were…' Annabeth said.
'Fired,' Chiron smiled sadly. 'Ah well someone had to take the blame,' Chiron said calmly. 'Lord Zeus was most upset The Tree he'd created from the spirit of his daughter, poisoned. Mr D had to punish someone.'
Harry had never liked Mr D but never before had he hated him like he did now. Harry saw his friends shudder as he lost control of his Death Aura. Chiron was seemingly the only one not affected by the pre-teen.
'Harry,' Chiron said calmly. 'I know you're angry but you have to calm down. Now I want you two to listen to me,' Chiron said urgently. 'You're very existence threatens the gods.'
'What?' began Percy.
'There's more to us than the broken vow, isn't there?' asked Harry.
'Wait you're a child of the Big Three too?' asked Percy.
Harry nodded looking at Annabeth nervously. Harry wasn't as close to Annabeth as he was to Cat and Eve because he was terrified of what she would say if she ever found out Hades being Harry's father but she was still one of his best friends. Now it was likely that she would hated him.
'Annabeth,' Harry said, 'please don't hate me.'
'I won't,' Annabeth said confused.
'Hades is my father,' Harry spoke quickly.
'Oh,' Annabeth said.
Annabeth didn't say anything but Harry could tell that she was unhappy. Harry didn't want to hear her rejection so turned back to Chiron and the matter on hand. The true reason that the gods didn't want children of the Big Three present.
'Why don't the gods want children of the Big Three to exist?' Harry demanded.
'Harry,' Chiron said with a sigh. 'I can't say the gods have forbidden me from informing you.'
'There was a prophecy,' Percy said quietly. 'I don't know what it is. No one will tell me,' he glared at Chiron.
'Percy,' Chiron sighed. 'You know I can't. Now I want you girls to look after them,' Chiron said. 'Swear it on the River Styx.'
'I swear it on the river Styx,' Luna said without prompting.
'I swear it on the river Styx,' Eve repeated.
'I swear it on the river Styx,' Annabeth said with a bit of a stutter.
'I swear it on the river Styx,' finished Cat.
'Thank you,' Chiron said.
'What's going to happen to you?' asked Annabeth.
'I'll go and visit my wild kinsmen in the Everglades,' Chiron grimaced a little.
'Isn't there anything we can do?' Annabeth said desperately.
'It's you children I worry about,' Chiron said. 'I fear that the tree only has a few weeks of life left.'
Harry didn't like the sound of that. If Thalia's tree were to die it would cause the wards of the valley to fall. If they fell then the Monsters already gathered around the borders would get in. It would be nothing but slaughter!
'We have to save the tree,' Harry said.
'What's the poison?' asked Eve.
'The poison used on Thalia's pine is something from the Underworld. Some venom even I have never seen,' Chiron said.
'I cou-' began Harry.
'It must have come from a monster quite deep in the pits of Tartarus,' continued Chiron.
'Oh,' Harry said.
Harry had been about to suggest talking to his father. Hades might not care one iota that what was left of the daughter of Zeus was dying but she would if he was threatened as he would be by the fall of the Camp Half Blood. Then Chiron had to end that thought by saying that it was from Tartarus.
Tartarus was beyond even Hades' control. If people thought that the Underworld was bad then it was nothing – nothing – compared to Tartarus. Not even the Lord of the Dead would know the venoms from there.
'Harry,' Cat said desperately. 'Can your father do anything?'
'Not when it's from Tartarus,' Harry said. 'The entrance to Tartarus may be in the Underworld but make no mistake my father has no power in Tartarus. Only the Tartarus has power there.'
'Oh,' Cat sighed.
'So there's no way to heal Thalia's Tree?' Annabeth said softly.
'No unless…' Chiron trailed off.
'Unless what?' demanded Annabeth.
'It's a foolish thought,' Chiron said.
'The Camp's dying,' Harry said. 'Even if it's a fool's errand it's better than doing nothing and letting Camp Half Blood die!'
Chiron sighed, 'there is only one source strong enough to reverse the poison and it was lost centuries ago.'
Harry had a really bad feeling about this. Things that were lost centuries ago didn't tend to be easily accessible. Either no one knew where it was or it was somewhere dangerous or an undefeated monster had a hold of it but at this point Harry was willing to do anything to save his home.
'Percy you must promise me that you will not act rashly,' Chiron said, 'and Harry ignore anyone who rejects you now your parentage is known.'
'What source?' Harry repeated.
Chiron shook his head, 'I want you both to stay here. It would be preferable if you had not come at all but you are now so train hard.'
'Until we are invaded by monsters,' Harry said bitterly.
'I know,' Chiron said, 'but you must not let yourself be baited into hasty action. This could be a trap of the Titan Lord. Remember last summer! He could have easily taken both your lives!'
That was when the conch horn sounded. Chiron banished them away for dinner. The last thing Harry saw of his mentor and second father was Chiron clopping out of his apartment. The six demigods stared at him tears in their eyes.
Will Harry go on the quest?
What will the rest of Camp think of the son of Hades?
Will Harry's friends go on the quest?