Author's note: Well, I'll be a Spartan's uncle; I got this done faster than I thought I would. 4,212 words and that's just the first chapter—aren't you proud? Eh, but enough of that; I just wanted to thank EVERYONE for characters, and even though I was going to split them up and use them for other stories; not all of my decisions are set in stone.
Okay, so the characters I used in this chapter right here are:
Jessup Doyle by Spartan-TeaParty (me), Stephanie Anderson by Starfan1245, Atlanta Hunter byDuskLightening, Kyle Anderson byNeon Templar, Zoe Hutton byartemishunter77, Katie Knapp by GoGreen216, and last; but, not least, Matthew Ross by Smartone101!I truly owe you guys, and if 'thank you's' were flowers, I'd give you guys bouquets! THANK YOU!
Whether it was the early morning, or the late afternoon, Stephanie was too exhausted to tell. She had been on her feet non-stop for atleast twelve hours; in a vain attempt to keep up with the seemingly tireless daughter of Artemis, Atlanta Hunter—whether she was truly a physical child, or a child in spirit was unknown, but given Atlanta's distain and general fusty attitude towards the goddess of the hunt, Stephanie, and most campers worth their salt, decided not to ask.
Doubling over as a pain shot through her overwrought limbs, Stephanie struggled to regain her breath. They had been tracking (or as Atlanta put it; hunting) a Minotaur for what felt like hours, and if their lack of progress is anything to go by, either the creature had gotten smarter, or they were pursuing more than one.
"Atlanta…" Stephanie wheezed just above a whisper, just as the red-haired beauty came somersaulting quietly into view, by a tall, overgrown bush.
"WHAT?" Atlanta mouthed, with an annoyed but understanding look on her face, before letting her forest green eyes scanned the landscape for their prey.
Stephanie opened her mouth to say something to the effect of 'let's go back' or 'maybe we lost it', but once she spotted that look of unshakable determination on her face, and observed the way the older woman lifted her bow, the daughter of Apollo knew that she had spotted her target. "Never mind," She whispered, before looking out from behind the tree she was posted at to see the large beast.
It was about eight or nine feet tall, with the head of a bull and the body of a weight-lifter, and if not for the fact that Stephanie had been dead tired, she would have both laughed and marveled at the fact that this one had been wearing a skirt.
"Steady… steady…" Atlanta murmured to herself, as she let the tension melt out of her shoulders, took a deep breath, aimed at the kilted creature, and pulled the arrow back until the bowstring was almost hissing.
Stephanie watched, emerald green orbs blown wide with admiration, as the redhead entered full-on stalker mode. Sure, she was no novice archer, herself; as she could probably—no, definitely—shoot an apple off of someone's' head if they didn't flinch, or psyche her out; like Connor Stoll had done that last time, when she attempted to de-apple a daughter of Aphrodite named Andromeda 'Andy', but horribly missed and almost took out one of her pretty, almond-colored eyes.
To this day, Andy flinched or hid whenever Stoll and Stephanie were in the same area with a bow and arrow, as she surmised that she wouldn't be so lucky next time around.
There was barely any time to register the piercing roar of pain echoed through the somewhat silent forest, before Atlanta was springing over the top of the hedge, and darting towards the wounded creature to slice its jugular with a dagger she had sheathed in her boot.
Letting out a breath she didn't even know she was holding; Stephanie carefully stalked over to her companion; who was now stripping the floral printed skirt off of the Minotaur, and kicked the corpse to make sure it was dead. When she was sure, like absolutely sure, the brunette hunched over to retrieve the arrow that was embedded in its chest.
It took a lot of pulling and even more wiggling, but when she finally repossessed the projectile, she grimaced at the gore that dripped off of it. "Ugh… can't it just be cotton stuffing just this once?" Wiping the crimson stained arrowhead on the neckerchief that she stashed in the pocket of her jeans, Stephanie looked over to Atlanta and sighed. "Can we go now? You've got the skirt; you can go rub it in Clarisse's face.
Rolling her eyes as the younger girl tried to rush her along, Atlanta stuffed the tacky material into her knapsack, dusted her clothes off, and started towards the bush where her weapon lay forgotten. "Yeah, I think—" She paused, before looking around suspiciously. "Stephanie, hide…!" She hollered, diving down to collect her bow, and just in time too, because another, much larger Minotaur came crashing through.
Stephanie ducked just as the creature's large, lethal claws swooped just inches away from her face. "Hey, what's the big idea!" She hollered, before cartwheeling backwards with the one hand that wasn't holding her bow.
The Minotaur roared as the agile brunette retreated from its reach, but before it could charge her; Atlanta stabbed into its back with her dagger, once, twice, thrice, before clambering clumsily up its form to lodge her weapon into its neck. The monstrous creature roared and cried out, as it tried in vain to shake the girl off.
Stephanie crouched on the ground, a safe distance away from the action, as she loaded her bow with three arrows at once. Call her crazy, but she wasn't about to sit back shooting one at a time. Pulling the string back, she closed a green eye and steadied her aim. "ATLANTA!" She warned, before releasing the arrows.
The redhead drank in the panicked shout, and knew it was her cue to go; ripping the dagger out of the Minotaur's shoulder blade, Atlanta kicked off the creature's spine and back flipped away just in time to watch the three barbs lodge themselves into the beast's neck, chest and lower abdomen.
Landing gracelessly on her feet, Atlanta panted and wiped the sweat off her brow. "Three arrows; seriously, Stephanie…?" She started to say with a breathless laugh. "Way to think outside the box."
Stephanie gave her a cheeky grin, before regaining her composure. "Let's get out of here, before more of them show up."
Zoe Hutton shook her head fiercely with immense disapproval, as she watched Kyle let himself be chatted up by a Crystal; a daughter of Aphrodite that he had had his eye on for a little while. She didn't know what he saw in that Barbie, (and in all actuality, she didn't even know what he saw in her!) but she was sure that he was going to get his heartbroken when he figured out that she, like her sisters, were nothing but tramps.
Sniffing as she crossed her arms, Zoe narrowed her piercing onyx eyes at Crystal, as the girl wrapped her arms around Kyle's mid-section. The sight of the little show that this girl was putting on was absolutely repulsive, and if Kyle didn't bring his stupid butt over here, Zoe was going to put her foot down and break this girl's neck… or, atleast, use some of that trusty Geokinesis to destroy the infamous cabin #10, once and for all.
"So, like, Kyle…" Crystal said in a sultry voice, just above a whisper, as she gently raked her perfectly manicured nails along the sleeve of his hoodie. "If you aren't doing anything tonight; my sister is going to be out—did you want to come by and just, you know, hang out for a while?"
Kyle's dreamy, midnight colored eyes flickered from the fuming daughter of Hades, and back to the impossibly pretty blonde in front of him. "Uh… well, erm…?" He croaked, stumbling over his words, as he struggled to avoid the demi-goddess' deep blue eyes; which were currently filled with annoyance.
"I asked you if you wanted to spend the night with me." Crystal growled, knitting her arched brows together to keep from flying off the handle. "Kyle, were you even listening to me? "Stamping her foot down, she watched as the early stages of a guilty expression began to etch into his features.
Though, before she could call him out on it, Kyle quickly schooled his expression, and let out a shaky sigh. "S-sure, why not?"
"Great! I'll see you at seven!" Crystal got on the tips of her toes and placed a kiss on his flushed cheek, before running along to do…well, whatever the daughters of Aphrodite do.
Kyle sighed again, but was determined not to dwell on his total opposition to the idea of being alone with Crystal in her cabin. It wasn't that he didn't like her, (he did; he really, really did) it just felt like she was using him; after all, the girls—and boys—of cabin #10 were notorious for breaking hearts, and not to mention that a certain daughter of Hades had outright forbid him from speaking to any other girls besides her.
Tossing a gloomy glance over his shoulder, Kyle had to put into effect an army's worth of willpower to keep from bristling at the death glare he was receiving from Zoe. Well, he'll be put in a meat flavored sack and thrown to the ravenous wolves that followed the Huntress' of Artemis; she was right behind him the whole time.
"Z-Zoe…" He whispered, unsure if he could trust his voice at full volume. From the day that they had first met; their fingers had brushed when they had both grabbed the same fork in the mess hall, something about this sardonic rebel had drawn him in, (not in a solely romantic way.) and the next thing he knew; he was Zoe Hutton's first and only friend at camp.
But, it wasn't like he was complaining; he had friends, lots of them, but she was special—she stood up for him whenever he got in trouble, she waited on him whenever she wasn't doing anything, and most importantly—he thought she was pretty. Yeah, so what his wild, teenage-hormones were a deciding factor in extending the olive branch…
Kyle's mouth went dry, as Zoe tucked some of her inky colored hair behind her ear and began to advance on him. And judging by the large strides she took, she was more than pissed—she was livid. The son of darkness only had a second to open his mouth—though, he wasn't about to defend himself; he never did—it was to take a deep breath before the ravenette smashed his face down into the dirt, and yelled at him.
"Gah… those tramps are getting desperate, if they're coming after you, of all people…" Zoe growled, as she tugged sharply on the silky black and gold strands of hair that tickled her fingers, so that she could lift Kyle's head out the soil below. "Look, Anderson," She started to say, as she pulled her hand out of her companions hair. "If you're going to pretend to be my friend; don't spit in my face, by hanging out with those friggin' Kewpie Dolls!"
Kyle nodded carefully, before wiping the grime from his eyelashes. "I'm sorry," He apologized despondently, as he watched as the Angel of Death wiped her hands on her black skinny jeans. It was times like this that he wished she didn't hate him, and the world, so much. "I'm sorry, Zoe." He repeated, when the ravenette waved off his last request for forgiveness.
"Whatever…" She grunted, as she stalked off; probably to be alone in her cabin, leaving Kyle kneeling on the ground with an unyielding expression.
It was campfire sing-along time with Apollo's cabin, when our four semi-divines met up.
Stephanie was dressed for bed in a worn pair of loose, pastel-colored cotton night pants, a light blue tank top, a white sweater, and a pair of 'borrowed 'slippers. "Good evening, everybody," She smiled, as she wound up her chocolate\honey hair into a messy braid. "Who's ready to sing until they puke?" When she received a mixed crop of responses, her smile widened considerably.
Zoe and Kyle stood just a few feet away from the commotion, as the former watched the fire intently with an unreadable, but all the while menacing, expression on her face. "Well, if your singing is as bad as your dad's haikus; it won't take me long to throw up." Zoe said in a snarky voice, as she rolled her eyes.
"What did you say, Hutton? I couldn't hear you over your piss poor attitude!" Matthew Ross (one of the many handsome sons of Apollo) called angrily from the other side of the bonfire.
"Oh, blow it out your ass, Ross." Zoe countered sharply, chucking small, shiny rocks into the fire. It was no secret that she and Matthew didn't get along—though, she didn't really get along with anyone at camp—but, it did grow to be a little more than a nuisance to the rest of the camp each and every time the two of them got into it.
Matthew's lips thinned into a straight line, as he snarled at Zoe's harsh words. Even though they throw jabs at each other all the time; today he just wasn't in the mood to bicker—he was out for blood. "Heh, yeah, well, Hutton; I think I've got something for you to blow—"
"ENOUGH!" Katie Knapp, a button cute camper, hissed, as she jumped to her feet. "You two are driving me crazy!" She shouted, clasping her hands over her ears. "Seriously, you two need to get over yourselves!"
Both Matthew and Zoe opened their mouths to say something, when Will Solace spoke up. "Katie is right; if you two don't let up on your constant arguing, I'm going to have the daughters of Aphrodite fix you guys up." Smirking smugly when he heard Zoe scoff loudly, the blonde took a seat around the fire. "Now that that's over; who's ready for some music?"
Admittedly, the marathon of songs that the children of Apollo had put on were not the best—okay, they were straight crappy; from old folk songs that no one understood, to renditions of modern day top #50 songs—and the campers were glad when it finally ended.
"Hey, Katie, my dad sent me some comics; you want to read them with me?" Asked a hopeful camper to the tiny brunette and to his surprise, she nodded eagerly, and the two of them disappeared to the Nemesis cabin.
As the campers slowly dispersed, Zoe took purchase around the fading fire and rubbed her chilled legs; they were out, completely unprotected from the cool caress of the night, because ravenette had opted for a pair of black shorts, a thin orange camisole, and a matching black hoodie for her sleepwear tonight. "That Ross guy is such a jackass…" She grumbled, clinching her hands in the dirt surrounding her.
"I don't think he is." Stephanie chimed in, as she cleared away the refuse and litter from their earlier gathering. "I'm sure that, somewhere, deep down inside of him, is a heart of gold." Watching the way Zoe shrugged her shoulders, and let out a forced cough to hide a rather rude comment, the brunette let her expression twist with disgust. "Of course, you wouldn't understand; seeing as you wouldn't know anything about having a heart."
"What did you say, Anderson—?" Zoe launched to her feet, ready to fight, though when she started on the other girl, she suddenly came to a halt. "Oh, wait, why am I about to engage you in a fight, and over some petty words?" Folding her arms across her chest, the ravenette looked up at the sky as if in deep thought. "Last I checked; Ross was your brother, so, why would you say anything bad about him? You're just as talentless and just as useless as he is."
It was Stephanie's turn to get offended. "Talentless? Who are you to say that we're talentless? YOU'RE ONLY TALENT IS BEING A FREAK!" And with that, the two of them began to argue. It was an endless cycle; if Zoe wasn't fighting the daughters of Aphrodite, she was fighting the children of Apollo.
While they fought, Kyle stood unfazed in the background; completely unaware of the fact that he had blown Crystal off to hang out with the insufferable daughter of Death. It wasn't until the aforementioned blonde had shown up with the biggest vein in her forehead and the ugliest scowl on her face, did Kyle remember their earlier agreement for him to visit her cabin.
"Where in the world were you, Kyle!" The blonde all but shrieked at him, as she weakly beat on his chest with her delicate fists. "You stood me up, you stood ME up." Pointing to herself as she was an all important person, Crystal continued to shout at him like a maniac; that is, until Zoe literally tackled her onto the ground and began to rough her up.
Oblivious to all the commotion that took place around her, Atlanta stared intensely at the fire, lost completely in her thoughts. Life had been, well, hectic, (to put it in layman's terms) since the war, and the whole 'losing the love of her life-thing' had happened; and it seemed to be on a path to continue its current chaotic pace, what with the sudden arrival of her 23rd birthday and all.
It practically came out of nowhere, she had been pushing herself to extremes those passed weeks when Artemis had visited her in a dream; pleading for Atlanta to accept her and her 'stupid huntresses', and that if she could look past her own stubborn, selfish ways; she could maybe, eventually join them. Of course, Atlanta had declined her mother's offer; she would never—and she repeats—never willingly join the hunt as long as she breathed air and blood coursed through her veins.
You would think that after her fated-to-never-be romance with Luke, that she would swear off of men forever; but, miraculously, she didn't…
Some campers gossiped that Atlanta wasn't over him; and that if given the chance, she would be crazy enough to travel the ends of the earth to retrieve him—maybe bring him back to Camp, and try to live happily ever after with him. While others opted for a better reason—maybe she was tougher than they thought, and that maybe she had healed enough to fall in love again? Surely, she would reject becoming a huntress, because she didn't want to give up on romance, now—if ever.
Whether it was true or not was unsure; because, like a lot of things about Atlanta's personal life, people tried not to pry too much.
Atlanta sighed, and lifted her gaze from the burnt out tinder to the squabbling campers; who were now being reprimanded by one of the many counselors. She missed the days when she and Luke got in trouble for acting out. She missed the days when she, Annabeth, Luke and Thalia would just sit around and talk about nothing.
"Hey, Atlanta…! Look alive." The daughter of Artemis heard someone call out her name, and she barely had time to look in the direction of the voice, to see what was going on.
The person who had so rudely interrupted her thoughts was a rather tiny, shaggy haired blonde boy who everyone recognized as JD—Jessup Doyle—he was a cute, cheeky; and not to mention blind, son of Hermes, who is estimated to be around twelve, to thirteen years old.
"Hey, JD, what're doing out so late?" Atlanta asked, as the young boy plopped down beside her. Usually, the blonde was cooped up in his cabin all day, (Due to his sightlessness; and his siblings fear of him doing something rash and getting himself hurt.) only coming out to eat and socialize.
"I heard them, again, Atlanta." Jessup confessed, leaning back on his hands and looking up at the sky as if he could actually count the numberless stars that danced tirelessly amongst the heavens. "They've been telling me what I'm missing out on."
Atlanta stared sadly at the blonde, as his lips tugged down in a frown. For all his life; he hadn't been able to see—not the look of joy on his mother's face when she brought him into the world, not the smiles on his new family's faces, when he had first came stumbling into the camp holding his older sister's hand…
Jessup probably didn't even know what he looked like. Just how his face felt; smooth cheeks, a button nose, smiling lips and owl-shaped eyes. She chewed the inside of her cheek when she remembered how the blonde had felt her face before; his fingers were clammy as the slid along her lightly freckles cheeks and forehead. He had the saddest look on his face when he told her that she had a pretty face—perhaps, for once, he wanted to gaze upon the beauty of persons instead of just feeling it.
Though, when she overheard Nico Di Angelo inquiring about Jessup's sight; he said he was fine with just feeling his way around the world, and that if anyone asked him that question again, he would rip his useless eyes right out of their sockets and jump rope with them from Thalia's pine tree to Fireworks Beach.
"What else are they saying?" Atlanta asked, never taking her eyes off Jessup as he stretched his arms above his head to work out the kinks in his spine. Lately, whenever she saw the young son of Hermes mucking about, he was always complaining about the 'voices' that kept him company throughout the day; it was needless to say that the voices he was referring to weren't just some imaginary friends, but the gods themselves.
What they told him, and why they were constantly contacting him, was beyond her—and most of everybody else, but Chiron jokingly insisted that it was because, unlike everyone else, Jessup was a patient listener and didn't run off to get himself killed every time they told him that something huge was about to go down.
"They say that they have a trial… You know, a challenge," Jessup offered, as he leaned back to lie out under the stars. "One that hasn't been attempted—let alone finished—in over half a century, and that they wanted me to find someone to complete it." Cocking his head to the side, the blonde crossed his legs at the ankle; taking on a totally relaxed posture.
Atlanta blinked, not sure if she heard the son of Hermes correctly. "What—why?"
"To test if the children who are chosen are pure of heart." Jessup answered matter-of-factly, as he tapped his fingers along the grass to some unknown beat. "—and I don't know why." He quickly added, to avoid anymore of Atlanta's questions.
Turning the thought over in her head, Atlanta piped up. "Do you know who they've chosen?"
Jessup nodded, before sitting up. "But, I can't tell you until tomorrow; it's getting late, and they're expecting me back." Getting to his feet, he dusted himself off, before offering the redhead a dreamy smile. "Just keep 'The Twelve Deadly Challenges of the Olympians', in mind and everything will soon be explained." Bidding her a farewell, the blonde disappeared off in the direction of—or atleast, the path he had hoped to lead to—his cabin.
Atlanta watched him go, and sighed loudly. For some reason, she had a bad feeling that because he had deliberately searched her out-despite the possibility of getting in trouble and so on and so forth-she had something to do with this challenge.
After being steered into the proper direction of his cabin, Jessup bumped into Katie; who had just exited the Nemesis cabin, and Kyle who had promised to walk her back to her own place of residence. Though, since Katie was in a rush to get to bed before the moon loomed high above their heads—signaling that it was midnight—Jessup had to rush to inform them too of the impending challenge.
"Tell no one," the boy said in a menacing tone, as the distant firelight illuminated the lens of his black sunglasses. It would have been creepy; the look on his face, if not for the fact that this was Jessup Doyle—and, thus, there was nothing creepy about him. "—but, If you must, they said it was alright to tell Zoe Hutton and Matthew Ross for me." Suddenly, a smirk broke out on his face, and he rushed off giggling to himself.
"I wonder what he's in such a good mood about!" Katie gawked, as she turned her confused gaze onto Kyle. "Twelve Deadly Challenges doesn't sound like it would be fun for anyone…!"
The son of Nyx shook his head. "It depends on who were talking about; the name alone makes it sound like Zoe would love it."
NEXT CHAPTER: Discovering the first challenge.
Stephanie took in the room with large eyes. It was amazing. From wall to wall; it was lined with the statutes of some of the prettiest beings that have ever lived. From Andromeda; the wife of Perseus, to Psyche; the wife of Eros… even Ganymede's statute stood tall and proud, crafted with stone never seen or used by any mortal.
As the group marveled at the magnificent sculptures, Kyle's eyes twitched as he caught sight of his mother's statute. She was standing completely bare, expect for a wispy looking shawl.
"Oh, well there goes something that you don't see every day."