A/N: So... I decided to continue on with this story because I simply refuse to not finish a story that I've published at least one chapter publicly. (There are several unfinished works in my story binder.) I just need to apologize to my Beta first. I love you, PV equals nRT. I'm so sorry for not updating when I promised I would. It just took some inspiration, which happened to be Christmas.
My Beta didn't get this or respond, so I went ahead and posted it... sorry. (I'm especially sorry if there are mistakes...)
Chapter 2: I get saved by a six-year-old.
When I finally came to consciousness, there was a cold feeling where my left eye should be.
I didn't open my eyes. I was afraid. I didn't exactly want to see my surrounding, not knowing whether I was still at the Gas Station, or somewhere entirely different. It was most likely the latter because I don't exactly remember Gas Stations having comfortable grounds like soft, cottony pillows. Second, I was deathly afraid to explore why my left eye socket felt so... empty.
"It's okay." Someone whispered. "Open your, uh, eye."
I opened my right eye, my good eye. My only eye. I tried to take in my surroundings, but everything was fuzzy, and so uneven with only one eye to look through. I knew that it was happening, what Nemesis said. An incentive. But I never thought it would be so...
All I could make out was a white wall, the color of freshly fallen snow. There were fuzzy blankets laid on my body and a wet cloth resting on my forehead. I tentatively pushed the cloth off my head, leaving my dark hair moist. I shoved the blankets to the side and attempted to sit up. My head ached and things were still blurry. I stretched my weary limbs and cracked my fingers. My eye adjusted to the bright lights and I could see that the white walls were actually curtains, hung around a square perimeter enclosing several cots. The only patient though, seemed to be me. And all in this whiteness was one rainbow-glad, pigtail wearing, little blonde girl.
"Hi there." She said, a huge smile on her freckled face. Her huge cyan eyes sparkled while light refracted off them, creating a rainbow spectrum. Her curly hair was pulled into two pigtails, ponytails, whatever they're called, on the side of her head. Her two front teeth were missing and she had quite the lisp when she asked me, "Are you okay, mithter?"
"Uh. Where am I?" I groaned, squinting in pain because of my pounding headache.
"I'm Dianna." She grinned, displaying her shipped and gaped teeth.
"Great, kid. But that's not what I asked." I sigh and shake my head, water droplets cascading off.
"Oh. Yeah." She giggled sheepishly then fixed me with those glass-like crystalline eyes. She slipped something into my right hand and stared at me, never blinking. I tore my gaze away from her and looked down at my hand. Clutched inside my grip was a black eye-patch. I almost laughed. "It wath in your pocket." Dianna explained, pointing to the jet black jacket I was wearing.
Which I found strange. I wasn't wearing a jacket when I ran away, let alone one as nice as this. I slipped it off and checked the tag. Calvin Klein? My dad would never be able to afford something so... fancy. 'Sides, I was ten? Why did I need designer clothes? The red shirt I was toting was crisp and fresh. New. The black jeans I was wearing were too expensive looking for me to ever be caught in. I glanced at my hands and found myself to be much cleaner than an orphan street rat.
"Did you do this?" I asked, turning to Dianna. She shook her head, blonde curls bouncing and walked out of the tent, pulling two curtains separate to use as an exit.
I have cared for you. Nemesis's words rang in my mind for the second time that morning. I slid off the cot I was resting on and sauntered off to the curtains Dianna had disappeared through. I held the eye-patch tight in my grasp, but didn't slip it over my permanently (or so it seemed) closed, left eye. I was about to push the curtains aside when Dianna stepped through, carrying a silver tray in her hands. She pointed to a little table in the corner that I didn't notice before with two matching chairs, all white as a sheep's wool. She sat down in one chair and nodded at the other. Following her command, I sat down across from her and spotted what was piled high on the silver platter.
"I help thick people here." She said, and I had to remind myself that with her lisp, she probably meant 'sick' not 'thick', and though I wasn't on the chubby side, her assistance was quite nice. "Help yourthelf."
Which brought me back to the tray. Dianna smirked when she caught me staring. I might have even been drooling. You'd be surprise to find how hungry losing an eye would leave you. My stomach growled in glee as I eyed what every ten-year-old boy loved to eat, and what he ordered from every restaurant, regardless of how fancy the establishment was because every eatery had such delicacies on their menu.
Chicken fingers and fries.
I was too tempted to just dig in, but I hesitated. I still wasn't sure where I was, what happened to me, or why I was here. Diana must've seen this 'cause she sighed and rolled her blue eyes. "You want thome info. Well, I found you on the thide of a thtreet near a gath thtathon. That particalur gath thtaton ith where I uthually get some candy when we're in theeth partths of Georgia. There wath a lady drethed in a lot of black." Dianna shuddered and for a moment I thought Nemesis had hurt her. Then Dianna gave me a toothy smile. "I don't like black." Which would explain her colorful getup consisting of a white tee-shirt embedded with a bedazzled rainbow and neon green shorts with hot pink, high-top Converse. "The lady thaid to take you to my healing place. Tho I did."
My eyebrows knit together in confusion, but I didn't question her hospitality. If it wasn't for her, I still might be on the side of a road near a stinky gas station infested with hobos. So instead I ate some chicken fingers, which I found strangely challenging due to my now impaired vision. It was weird how losing your eye seemed to make you misplace your mouth and left hand as well.
"Are being nice, Dianna?" A smooth voice asked. I looked up to see a beautiful blonde, with kind, warm, blue eyes. So, like any ten-year-old boy, my mouth popped open and any half-chewed chicken played victim to gravity and landed on my plate on a free fall from my gaping mouth. I wiped my greasy hands on my jeans and stared up at her. Oh man, she was out of league. I she had to be at least fifteen.
"Of courth, Tholana." Dianna huffed impatiently. The very attractive blonde, chuckled and patted Dianna's head ignoring the little girl's protests. Then, she turned to me.
"Hello, I'm Solana, not Tholana. Daughter of Apollo. I run the make-shift Apothecary here. We, my friends and I, host a migratory clinical station for wounded demigods. Dianna found you hurt, so we took you in. We're currently stationed in Clayton, Georgia." That wasn't far from my home in Atlanta. Just an hour's drive. "You've been out for a couple days, so we continued moving while you slept. We do a regular travel pattern from New York to Florida."
So they were moving north then.
"I'm sorry about your eye." Solana commented.
"Oh!" Dianna shrieked, jumping up from the chair. "The lady told me to tell you: 'Remember Ethan, an eye for an eye.' Ohh! Ith your name Ethan? I like that name! I can say it, unlike Tholana'th name."
"An eye for an eye." I mused. Well, I had given up my eye, but I surely hadn't gotten one in return. I remembered my conversation with Nemesis. I would have to get strong. "I need to train."
"There is a place, called Camp Half-Blood. It's a camp where demigods can train to fight monsters and what not. I have no ambitions for such barbaric activities though. I am content traveling and healing the wounded, as are my colleagues. But if you wish to train, Camp Half-Blood is your best bet." Solana glared at me.
"Okay." I nodded. Training in a group sounded good. Maybe someone there would be able to teach me how to fight with my blind side. "Where is it?"
"Long Island, New York." Solana chirped. I got the feeling that she really didn't like this place. "We'll be there in a month."
"A month?" I almost yelled. "I need to get there now!" I slumped back down in my chair and watched silently as Solana shrugged.
"I know how to get you there." Dianna piped up.
"Dianna, no." Solana quipped.
"But Prithm is big enough to-"
"Dianna. I. Said. NO." Solana ordered and rose from her spot leaning on of the cots. "And that's my final answer." Solana then turned an exited the room. Diaana sighed and turned to me pouting.
"What was your idea, Dianna?" I questioned, desperate to find a way to this camp.
"I can't tell you all of it. You'll have to trutht me." She fixed me with those watery eyes that seemed to burn a whole into my sole.
"Okay." I nodded.
"Exthelent." She grinned. "But firtht, we have to get your thword."
Dianna silently led me out of the room full of cots and into a completely different section of the Apothecary. There was a bunch of bustling people all rushing about, carrying medicine bottles and blankets and buckets of water. Some of them were older than Solana and some my age, but none of them as young as Dianna. She grabbed onto my hand and tugged me into the throng of moving bodies. We were pushed this way and that but Dianna continued to guide me through the crowd. I tried to pick up on the bits of conversation passing between the medics.
"Kid we found in the mountains just reached 100."
"Not good. My patient, the brunette girl, just broke her fever."
"I've got a broken leg and fractured wrist in room 3."
"That's nothing. Just got a half-blood with a nasty hydra bite. Infected too."
"Good thing we just got some more nectar and ambrosia."
These kids seemed far worse off then I did. I just had... ya know, a missing eye. At least I had no broken bones to be mended or hydra bites. But hydras? Did those even exist? Did the gods? I mean, Nemesis told me... but how could I believe that she was goddess. Those didn't exist. They just didn't. At least, that's what I tried to tell myself. But I knew that all this was true. For some inexplicable reason the myths taught in classrooms weren't myths. But I really wished they were.
"Okay, we just gotta thneak into Tholana'th offith and take your thword." Dianna whispered harshly in my ear, waking me from my trance.
"I have a sword?" I inquired, a little happier than I was just moments ago. How cool would that be, to have my own sword?
"Yeah. I found it nextht to you along with a backpack loaded with lotth of money! And even thome nectar and ambrotha. You better hope Tholana didn't take it, we've been low on thupplieth lately. Altho, there wath food and water." Dianna retorted, focused on a wall of curtains. She put her finger to her mouth and slipped inside. When I didn't follow, her head popped out and she impatiently waved me in.
I pushed the curtains aside and crept into Solana's office. The small room was full of colorful pictures, so different than the rest of the snow white Apothecary. The pictures showed many different people, all clad in the same orange shirts. In one behind a sleeping mat -which was were Solana probably slept- a younger Solana, maybe 14, was joined by a sandy-blonde haired-boy with bright and intelligent blue eyes. There was also one other girl in the picture, a blonde almost my age, maybe 9. The wisdom in her eyes shocked me, the same wisdom I saw in teachers at school, ya know, the smart ones. T hey were all in front of a towering pine tree, pressing they're bodies close to the tree. Before them was a single blue cupcake with one candle lit. Scribbled on in black icing were the words: Happy Birthday Thals.
The next pictures by those were of the boy and girl. And... then... a picture of the boy. But this time, he was grimacing. And on his eye, his left like mine, was an ugly scar, tight and pink that distorted his once good-looking (come on, I couldn't deny it. But I'm not... I'm into chicks.) The girl had grown, too, looking even wiser, and maybe even a little sadder.
"Luke." Someone said behind me. I whipped around to find Solana enter her office. I winced, but she wasn't mad. Instead she seemed almost wistful. Pensive. "His name is Luke." She joined my side and sighed. "And her name is Annabeth."
"You went to Camp Half-Blood?" I asked, reading the black print on the orange shirts. I was shocked, she always seemed hostile to the camp.
"Oh yeah. I was even head of the Apollo cabin. Top in archery and best healer in the camp." Solana frowned and crossed her slender arms. "I was on the border patrol with my best friends from the Apollo cabin and some meat-heads from the Ares cabin. We had just finished and headed off to lunch. It was raining that day, but not in camp. Never in camp.
"I had left something back in cabin, a golden drachma that I owed to Jimmy Stevens from the Athena cabin, having lost a bet with him. Never bet with an Athena kid, by the way. Anyway, as I made my way back to my cabin, I heard a scream. I paused, stuck halfway between my cabin and the dining pavilion. There was a single bow, my favorite bow, and seven heat-detecting arrows in my cabin. I could run there and then race to whomever screamed. Or I could turn around and get the whole camp. But time was ticking out and I was too sure of my skills.
"I raced to my cabin and retrieved the bow, slinging the quiver over my shoulder. I bolted out the door and raced to the sound of the scream. But when I got there, all I saw was a boy my age holding a little girl in his arms. Before them was a field of ashes, dead monsters. A girl with black hair wobbled in fatigue and fell to the ground. The boy and girl raced to their fallen friend and tried to coax her up. But she wouldn't move. I knew. I knew she was dead.
"The kids were drenched in the rain, but they didn't seem to notice. They just kept screaming the same thing over and over again. 'Get up Thalia! Get up! Come on Thals, we made it! We finally made! We're here Thals, all you gotta do is get up!' But she never did. And then lighting coursed through the clouds and struck her limp body. The girl screamed and the boy looked away. But he finally looked back, there was a little pine sampling where her body was once. That was the first time I noticed the satyr by them. One that I knew too.
"The sapling grew and grew until it formed bark and then branches. I blinked and the tree was as tall as me. Then, the tree was the tallest thing in the area, even taller than the Big House. The boy... and the girl... they entered camp with grim faces as the satyr led them while he wiped tears from his eyes. There, they spotted me. And even though I didn't know the little girl, she raced up to me and buried her head into my shirt while she cried and cried and cried. I patted her head and looked up at the boy. He said nothing and followed the satyr while the girl continued to cry.
"Later, I became close friends with the girl, Annabeth. But the boy didn't trust me. I suppose he thought that if I came sooner, that I could've stopped the black-haired girl from dieing. 'Annabeth seems to trust you. So I guess you're all right.' He told me one day. Annabeth and him, they told me tons of stories about Thalia. I guess I was their buffer for their pain. But I didn't mind. I'm a daughter of Apollo and it's my duty to heal people. 'Sides, they soon became my best friends.
"But Luke grew restless and started to challenge Chiron's authority. He demanded a quest and Hermes himself gave his son one. But, I knew it was dangerous and Luke wasn't thinking straight. Annabeth and I urged him not to go, but he did anyways. And when he returned, it was with an ugly reminder that he had failed.
"I... I grew to love Luke, and even told him so. I told him that his scar didn't matter, because he was still beautiful to me. But he told me that I would never replace Thalia. That I should just leave him and Annabeth alone, because no matter how much Annabeth loved me like a sister, I would never amount to Thalia. I would never be able to be the girl Luke loved..." Solana's bottom lip trembled and she wiped a single tear away. "So I left Camp Half-Blood and started the Apothecary."
"Don't worry about me, Ethan. Your path and mine are totally different. I know that you have to train, so please be careful when you do go." Solana looked back at Dianna who held my large backpack and the sword Nemesis had let me use to fight her. "And you're right, Dianna. Prism is ready. You know where to go, right?" Dianna nodded and handed me the backpack. I shouldered the bag and took the sheathed sword. "That sword is magic. Unsheathe it and it's your handy-dandy sword. Sheath it and it becomes a wallet. To unsheathe it, just unfold the flaps of the tri-fold wallet." Solana sighed. She handed Dianna a little backpack with unicorns and rainbows decorating it. "Your clothes are in there along with your favorite snacks and drinks. I gave you a few medicine supplies and I took out about 1/3 of your bank account and put it in there."
"When did you do that?" Dianna asked, sorting through her backpack.
"I got the money out when we were in Atlanta. Remember, I'm a daughter of Apollo, who also happens to be the god of oracles. I got your bag ready when you brought Ethan in." Dianna grinned and threw her little body at Solana. "Be safe."
"Thank you." Dianna croaked and turned to me. "Come on, Prithm is waiting."
"Okay." I nodded and turned to Solana. "Thanks for everything, Solana."
"Of course, Ethan. Just keep Dianna safe." She smiled a breath-taking grin.
"Yes. Of course."
"Prism... is... a... flying horse?" I gaped at the cocoa-brown horse with feathery wings extending from its sides. Dianna stepped onto a foot stool and slung her self onto the horse, patting its white hair.
"Acthally, he'th a pegathuth." Dianna corrected and motioned for me to join her. I hesitated and fiddled with the straps of my bag. "Come on! He'th thafe!"
"Okay. I trust you, Dianna." I gulped and slowly climbed up to the foot stool. I paused and reached into my pant pocket. I fished for the eye-patch and slowly pulled it out. I took one deep breath and slipped it on over my closed eye. "And eye for an eye." I murmured to myself and mounted the horse.
"Let'th go, Prithm!" Dianna squealed. The horse stretched its wing and thrust down hard, sending us skyward with a tight clench on my stomach.