"C'mon, Piper! You can do it!"
I can do it. I can do it.
I raised both my arms and stretched the string as far as it could. I took one last look at my aim—the lamppost—before I closed my eyes and prayed. Lady Artemis, please help me. Don't embarrass me in front of my siblings. Especially Drew. With that, I opened my eyes again and took a deep breath and let go of the string all in three seconds. The arrow flew through the open field and passed by the lamppost. I could hear Drew and her evil minions smirk and Lacy and Mitchell sigh.
I couldn't see the arrow anymore so I faced the bowyer, smiled sheepishly and said, "These don't do me well."
I was in the middle of handing the bow without the arrow to the bowyer when I suddenly heard somebody shout across the field.
"Do your girly business elsewhere!" Leo screamed while walking towards me to hand me the arrow. The fire was not there anymore, but then I remembered that Leo could control and produce fire. He was holding it on his other palm. Leo finally handed me the bow and I looked at him.
"I don't think archery is girly. Because if you do, brother dear, I would be more than willing to tell Thalia about this," I said, winking at him.
Leo stiffened and the color of his face drained until it became pale. Leo had a huge admiration for Thalia, a demigod daughter of Zeus and a Hunter of Artemis. The last thing he wanted Thalia to do to him was to have him beaten up and offered to the next monsters they hunt. Poor boy, though. He still can't accept the fact that Thalia can't ever return his feelings.
He shook his head immediately. "Not one word."
"Deal," I said and grinned mentally.
Now, I guess you're wondering why I have to learn to shoot an arrow with a blazing bow to a lamppost. You see, I'm turning sixteen in two days. It's a tradition that I must shoot an arrow and make a torch on my sixteenth birthday. Why you ask? Believe me, I do not know as well. But I'm guessing it's because I'm growing up already. Or some kind of rite of passage to immortality. Yeah, you heard me. Immortality. We can be immortals if we have done some amazing fejujube. Like save the world and become a hero and do something outstanding. You get the point.
In some ways, I have done something amazing. I did save my neighbor (who was a satyr) from being eaten by a Cyclops last winter. I guess that counts.
Leo turned around and walked away to go build automatons with Nyssa and Jake down by the river. Drew and her evil minions started walking towards me and gave off a sinister laugh.
"How outstanding! Our little sister is having her celebration in two days and she can't even hit her aim. What a pity," Drew said, putting her hands on her hips.
"I'll tell you what a pity is. It's you and your friends," I retorted bluntly.
Drew had a furious look on her face. "If there is anything that is more pitiful than me—"
"So you do think you are pitiful?" I raised my eyebrows. She was about to say something when I put my hand up and said, "Never mind. I'm wasting time. I've got more important things to do than talk to you."
With that, I walked away with Lacy and Mitchell following right behind me and into the woods—our resting place. When we were younger, we used to call this place Swampy Joe. We called it that because the woods were indeed swampy that it should be considered a swamp. The 'Joe' came from the word that we heard in the human world while visiting. You know, Sloppy Joe. Who names their child Sloppy Joe?
I sat immediately on the floor and mud splashed to my clothes. I groaned. Not that I care about my clothes, but I was wearing a white dress (Mom's orders) and that would make me look like I pooped on my pants. I mean, dress.
Lacy and Mitchell sat down beside me. For a minute, it seemed quiet. But then Lacy started to stand up, and jump up and down a million times. I looked at her with a what-is-it-know? look.
"The way you stalled Drew was uh-mazing!" she said still jumping up and down.
"Oh that was nothing," I said, closing my eyes and imitating Drew's voice. Lacy and Mitchell laughed until I joined in too. Man, I miss the old days. Not Drew old days, but us old days.
"But then I am worried too," Mitchell said. "I'm worried that you might not be able to aim properly and embarrass yourself in front of Drew."
"Don't worry, bro. Same here," I sighed.
I was about to open my mouth to continue what I was saying when suddenly a big wave of water charged towards us, and within a second we were soaking wet. I stood up and so did Lacy and Mitchell. Even though I was drenched in water, I was kinda happy that the mud stains were gone. Now all I had to explain was why I was soaking wet.
"Who goes there?" I asked fiercely, drawing out Katoptris. It's a good thing I brought it with me.
A figure appeared and it started walking towards us. "I come in peace," the figure said, hands raised.
"Cut the crap out," a voice said behind me. I turned around and saw Annabeth covered in water too. She was wearing this graduation toga and holding a scroll on both hands.
"Annabeth!" I exclaimed, overjoyed to see her. It had been a year since I last saw her. She went to the human world to study architecture right after graduating school. She wasn't old, don't get me wrong. She was just pretty darn smart. Who graduates at fifteen?
I ran up to hug her but then I hesitated because we were both wet. Annabeth smiled and just said, "Later."
I looked back at the figure and I saw a good-looking boy of sixteen with black hair and green eyes. There was this smug look all over his face that I suddenly remembered this imbecile. It was Percy.
"Seaweed Brain," Annabeth nodded at Percy. I didn't get it. Annabeth and Percy had been dating since…I dunno, last year?
Percy ran immediately to Annabeth like some weird psycho. Seriously Percy? Seriously?
Annabeth stopped him with her hand on his chest. "We'll do that later. I have something urgent to do."
I looked at her. "What could be more important than Percy, Annabeth?"
"Your mother," she continued. I froze. Mom? "Mom?"
Annabeth nodded. "She's calling you. Meet her in the abandoned shop in…3 minutes."
I didn't have time to say bye to Lacy, Mitchell, Annabeth, and Percy. I ran immediately out of Swampy Joe and ran past by the open field, river, and whatever I passed by. I got to the city when I bumped into somebody.
"Watch where you're going!" I groaned. I immediately remembered that I was rude. "I mean, I'm sorry."
"'S cool," the guy who I bumped into said. I didn't have time to look at him because if it was Mom, being late is not an option.
I finally reached the old district and I saw the entrance of the abandoned shop. I've been in there a lot of times before. For an abandoned shop, its contents were nothing like old.
I entered and I saw Argus. I walked towards the back room when Argus put a hand in front of me to stop me.
"What is your business?"
"I'm Piper. Lady Aphrodite's daughter," I said impatiently.
Argus removed his hand and let me come in. As I entered, I saw racks of the latest clothes of Zara, Chanel, and brands I didn't know but I was sure they were expensive. I walked through the shop in what seemed like hours until I saw Mom scanning gowns from Vera Wang. As usual, she was gorgeous. She had long brown wavy hair and eyes that changed color like a kaleidoscope. She was wearing a little make-up but then she was still beautiful. Her skin was perfectly flawless and her body was neither fat nor thin. It kind of made me wonder if I really was her daughter.
"Mom," I finally said.
"Oh, Piper dear! Took you long enough!" Mom said, still looking at the racks.
I rolled my eyes. "You doknow how big this place is, right?"
"Mhm," was all Mom said. She moved to a different rack of gowns with the brand Alex Perry. She held up a gown for me to see. It was a peach dress that went way down until it touched the floor. The top of the dress was white with the same peach material designed on top of it. It was really beautiful. There where many cloths overlaying each other and it looked like a dress for graceful people.
"What do you think?" Mom asked. I nodded my head in awe.
"Anything looks good on you, Mom," I said.
Mom nodded in agreement. "I guess. But this kind of dress is for younglings and not for me."
My mouth was open wide. "Are you kidding me? You're gorgeous!" I said, gesturing my hands all over her.
Mom just sighed and mumbled something like, "She doesn't understand."
"So, Mom. Why did you call for me?" I asked still staring at the beautiful gown.
"Now that you think about it…" she trailed off. "I forgot," she said, smiling.
I was horrified. "Well, if you don't need me, I'll be going now!"
I hugged Mom and ran for the exit. It was a good thing I remembered how to get out otherwise I'd stay here till New Year's. I saw the back door and went out of the abandoned shop. You couldn't believe how relieved I was to get out of that place.
Instinctively, I reached out to check if I had forgotten Katoptris. I felt my dagger and I also felt a thick envelope. I immediately got it out of my pocket and looked at it. I opened the envelope and rolled my eyes.
Now I know why Mom called me. To send out the invitations for my birthday.
I put it back into my dress pocket without looking where I was going until I bumped into someone—again.
"You again?" he said.