Chapter 7: Meanwhile, There's A Thief Among Them
"Jerome, are you paying attention?" Will Solace said. "You were doing so good with your archery. Maybe if you had several more hours of practice-"
"I'm kind of bored with this, Will. Maybe start fresh tomorrow, yeah?" Jerome gives Will his bow and arrows back and walks away.
Just one day.
It only took one day to be bored here. The only things you could do were to practice, eat, and laze around. Not much excitement around. But Jerome's theory was simple: in order for excitement, you have to do it yourself.
After walking about thirty yards, he saw it: the Apollo cabin.
The cabin itself wasn't easy on the eyes. One glance and it'd blind you. It was it's own sun. The exterior walls were a bright gold. And the best part: the door was left ajar.
Jerome snuck quietly in, careful to not have anyone see or hear him. Barely touching the door, he saw that there wasn't anyone in the room
"Hello?" Jerome whispered, just to make sure.
No one answered. Perfect.
He was told it was a big no-no for other campers to be inside another cabin other than their own. Obviously, they should've had locks in case of thieves, like him.
The room was bright. It made the exterior look like a dying light bulb compared to the interior.
The walls were a soft pink, resembling the twilight outside, but if one were to watch for a while it would change to the color of the night. The beds were set on the left side of the narrow cabin, and in front of each bed was a large trunk, with each person's name engraved in the wood. The right side had medicinal tables, a row of bows and quivers, and stacks upon stacks of sheets of paper. Jerome saw that they had a bunch of lines and dots that he couldn't figure out. The ceiling also had those same patterns that alternated every few minutes. There were different titles for each pattern; Adagietto, Hallelujah, Shake Your Booty.
As Jerome walked past the bunks, he spotted a trunk engraved with Joy's name on it. Smiling, he approached it.
He slowly opened the cedar wood lid and glanced inside.
Just some clothes, her cell phone, that stupid little bunny she carries around, photos, a notebook, Nina's locket-
Now how did Joy get her hands on Nina's special locket? Jerome didn't know much about Nina, but he knew she would never let go of it.
Doing anything good wasn't something on Jerome's list of things to do. But this was kind of more important than the list.
"Mara! Mara!" Jerome called from the cabin area. Mara could see and hear him even from across the lake.
He ran to her. She noticed that he held something with black string.
"Be quiet, Jerome," she said. "You're scaring the nymphs off. They don't enjoy yelling."
Mara could see tiny bubbles from the naiads. She was so close to getting a glimpse of them out of water, but Jerome had ever so kindly ruined it.
She sighed in frustration. "Never mind."
"Good. Now look what I found in Joy's trunk earlier," he said, opening his palm.
Mara looked at it. It was a locket in the shape of an eye. She knew it looked familiar, but she couldn't seem to remember where.
"It looks like a pretty locket, Jerome," she said.
"But you don't understand. This is Nina's locket," he said. "It's very... important. She needed this locket."
She didn't like how he stressed Nina's and needed. It was like he was trying to send her a message without directly telling her.
He sighed. She didn't get it.
"Just forget it," he said. "I'll go find Alfie. Or Patricia."
Just before he left, she stopped him. "I want to help in... whatever you're doing. Just to make sure you're not going explode anything. And if you need brains."
He shrugged. If he let Mara know about Sibuna, that would mean another life in danger. But it also meant another person that could help. Plus, they really did need a smart person in the group. He decided that he, Alfie, and Patricia should all decide together.
He found the two of them sparring in the arena. Both of them were drowning in sweat. Patricia held her borrowed sword towards Alfie, who had his in his hands, but he swished it back and forth. Their spotter, Percy, was frowning. He told Alfie to stop playing with his sword and attack first.
Alfie tried to slash at Patricia, but she skillfully deflected off and forcefully pushed his sword so it clattered to the floor. She smiled triumphantly and walked to her seat in the arena, leaving Alfie standing their, catching his breath.
"Alfie! Patricia!" Jerome called.
They looked up from their positions. He motioned for them, and the two came over to him.
"What's going on, dude?" Alfie asked, smiling.
"This better be good," Patricia says, crossing her arms.
Jerome told them the whole story; walking in the Apollo cabin, looking in Joy's trunk, up all the way to talking to Mara, who was sitting on one of the arena seats.
"-and now we're here," Jerome finished.
"So, you want to let Mara join Sibuna?" Patricia said.
"I say we let her," Alfie remarked. "She's like, the smartest person we know. If anything, she could solve any problem we find."
"No way! We're already risking our lives, Alfie. Mara doesn't need to know about this."
"You guys!" Jerome said, silencing the two. "I say we should, and that makes two 'yes' votes. So we win."
Patricia frowned. "Fine. But next time we need to make decisions, it's my turn." She walked back to the sword fighting class.
Jerome walked to Mara. He told her everything about last year, but left a few minor details. She didn't need to hear the whole story. Alfie jumped in, trying to keep his part.
"This all happened without me realizing it?" Mara said, astonished. "I can't be that blind to everything."
"Did you tell her?" Patricia asked them later after dinner. She kept her voice low, for fear of eavesdroppers.
Jerome nodded."I told her what I knew. Most of it."
Patricia calls Mara over from her siblings from the Athena cabin to where they are.
"What's up, Patricia?" Mara asked.
"Well, first; welcome to Sibuna," Patricia puts her hand over her eye. "Second, Alfie told me you guys needed to announce something, besides initiating Mara."
"Well, this will probably say it all," Jerome says, pulling out Nina's necklace. Patricia's eyes widen at the sight.
"That can't be Nina's locket, can it?"
Jerome nodded. "I found it in Joy's trunk."
"Wait, why were you going through her trunk?"
"It doesn't matter why. All that matters is there's a thief among us." Jerome turned to Mara. "What do you think we should do, daughter of the war goddess?"
Mara gave it a good thought before speaking. "We should just-"
Just as they walked, Jerome became encircled in golden light. It hurt looking at it. Mara could swear hearing a harp playing, ever so softly.
When the glowing faded, Mara dared to glance at Jerome. He wasn't shining anymore, luckily. But in his hands was a small sheet of paper, the kind you'd find in fortune cookies.
She leaned over his shoulder as he read it quietly to himself.
The princess will return to the throne,
Back in the place she calls home.
It is then you will find the thief,
And find what was hidden down beneath.