Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase, along with the rest of the camp, huddled around the tired and heaving Thalia on Half-Blood Hill. When the sun had risen that morning, they had seen her running towards them, and they now all were crowding her, wondering why she had come. Only something extremely dire would bring Thalia, alone, without the other Hunters. Something horrible . . .
"Thalia, my dear, why have you come?" Chiron said calmly, kneeling by her side. He handed her a water bottle which she grabbed and took a deep drink, emptying it. She heaved a great sigh, and her breathing seemed to be more even and her heartbeat slowed. She was on the verge of collapse and her heart probably would've exploded if she had taken another step, and the daughter of Zeus was exhausted.
"Something terrible . . . something terrible . . ." She kept muttering to herself, shaking her head as tears streamed down her cheeks. Chiron looked up at Annabeth and Percy in a silent plea. The knelt by Thalia as he rose and pushed all the crowding campers away.
"Thalia," Annabeth whispered, "what's terrible? What has happened?"
"We . . . I . . . Oh! I don't know where to start!" She yelled, aggravated, pounding the earth.
"Start at the beginning," Percy said evenly. She looked up into his face, and they shared a strange connection in that moment: two children of the most powerful gods who shouldn't have been born. They were so much alike, despite how much the wanted to deny it.
Thalia sniffled, and wiped her nose on her sleeve. She took a deep breathe and began. "Lady Artemis, me, and the Hunters were on a hunt for Sasquatch in the heart of Canada . . ." Percy shot Annabeth a look, mouthing the word "Sasquatch", but he said nothing. ". . . when we came across a deep valley. We noticed how it seemed to shimmer and twist, like there was an illusion put on it to prevent mortals from seeing what was really there." She took a deep breathe again, pausing, then continued. "We traveled down there, despite the fact that the Bigfoot's trail didn't lead in there – and as we went deeper into the valley, buildings, cabins, and even arenas began to materialize. We didn't know what it was, although Lady Artemis was scared, and I've never seen her afraid. But we soon discovered that it was a camp . . ." Her voice trailed off, distant and quiet.
"There are many camps in Canada, my dear. It is dense woodland and the perfect spot for . . ." Chiron tried to explain, but Thalia cut him off.
"It was a camp for Half-Bloods, for demigods." She stared up into every shocked and scared face around her. "We are not alone."
All of the cabin leaders sat around the ping-pong table, including a few satyrs, naiads and nymphs. They all sat in silence, although the occasional whisper was heard, all mentioning Thalia. No one believed her except Percy and Annabeth, and perhaps Chiron, but those four couldn't influence an entire camp, let alone the Twelve Olympians.
"So if this is a camp for Half-Bloods, then how come we haven't heard of it?" Clarisse said bitterly, two Ares kids flanking her, glaring at Thalia. Everyone turned to the daughter of Zeus to hear her reply, or to see her strike Clarisse with a lightning bolt, but when she responded, her voice was small and tired.
"It isn't a camp for the children of the Greek gods, it's a camp for the children of someone – something – else . . ." She looked at Chiron, who nodded and proceeded with her explanation.
"The Olympians were from Greece, but there were others. Two other clans, to be exact. They divided up the world in the beginning of time, and have never interacted. The camp Thalia and the Hunters discovered was the camp of the children of the Asgardians, or the Norse gods," Chiron finished the last part quietly, like he didn't completely believe it himself.
"No offence Thalia, but that's impossible!" Silena, the leader of the Aphrodite cabin put in.
"Unfortunately," a dreary voice muttered from behind them all, "what this girl says is the truth." Mr. D – Dionysius – came out of the shadows and pulled up a chair. "The Elder gods – titans and other older immortals who still lived and remained in power – told us younger gods the stories of the two other clans as scary stories to keep us on Olympus when we were children. Of course, some of us didn't listen, and the rest of us were told that we would never see that one again, because they would be taken."
"But if Norse gods are one clan," Percy said, looking at Thalia, "then who is the other one?"
She exchanged another look at Chiron, who nodded his head. "Lady Artemis went back to Olympus to report what we had found, but she told the rest of us to continue hunting. So we decided to get our Lady a jackalope – she does enjoy jackalopes – because when she left she was utterly distraught, and it pained us to see her that way, and we wanted to cheer her up. So we headed to Death Valley in Nevada, and while we were there, we uncovered another shimmering valley, just like the one in Canada." She paused, looking at all the stunned faces around her. "We discovered that this also was a camp, a camp for the Egyptian gods."
All at once, yelling and talking and shouting erupted from everyone gathered. A few drew swords and aimed it at others, while some called in reinforcements incase a fight broke out.
"Silence!" Mr. D shouted, his voice reverberating off the walls over and over again. He cleared his throat, and in his usual childish voice, waved a hand towards Chiron. "Proceed."
"As Olympus is not far from the camp of their kids, nor is Asgard, home of the Norse gods, or Heliopolis, the home of the Egyptians gods, far from their children's camps. Now, there is yet no sight of them wanting to move against us, and so we remain in peace, but we are all to be extremely vigilant. And do not let word of this meeting get out; it would throw the camp into turmoil. Meeting adjourned."
"It's all true, isn't it? Everything you said?" Annabeth whispered as the walked down the sandy shores. The camp was deserted: all the demigods had retired to their cabins, most likely to tell everyone of what had happened at the meeting, despite Chiron's orders.
"Yes, it is," Thalia whispered back. "Every . . . last . . . word . . ." She paused, "Well, I didn't tell them everything." Percy and Annabeth's heads turned quickly to look at her.
"What!?" They yelled in unison.
"Oh, uh, yeah. There was something that I wanted to share with you guys, because no one else can know." She dug in her pockets and pulled out two crumpled up notes that were obviously written in haste. She handed one to each of them, careful not to rip or damage them.
"'Danger. Come quick. Bring only two. Evil is coming.'" Annabeth read aloud. Below the distress note was an address. She held the note up, "What does it mean?"
"Mine says the same thing," Percy chimed in.
"I found them in my pockets after me and the Hunters left the camps. None of the others had them, just me," Thalia explained.
"Who is it from? Are we the only ones who know about them?" Percy asked hastily. He hadn't been on a quest in a while, and adrenaline pulsed through him.
"They're from the Egyptians and Norse half-bloods, and no, nobody else knows but you two, not even Lady Artemis."
Annabeth and Percy exchanged a glance: for Thalia not to even tell Artemis meant how dangerous and important those notes were.
"So what do we do next?" Annabeth asked professionally, already planning a strategy.
"I think we should go to this address . . ." Thalia responded, pointing to the scribbled ink on the crumpled notes.
"I can be packed in five minutes," Percy said with a smile.
"Good," Thalia said, grinning, turning to look at the setting sun, "we leave at sundown."