This is probably the quickest update I ever did. Don't get used to it though-but I'll try my best on the next chapter.
Thanks to all who reviewed!
Chapter 7: First Impressions
When I woke up, the first thing I noticed was the warmth.
It was supposed to be the middle of winter, so I must be inside a building. But inside of what, I wasn't so sure. I moved my hands slowly, trying to feel the area around me, and all I got were sheets, soft bed sheets. I slightly opened my drowsy eyes, and a piercing light met my gaze. When it subsided, I made a grunt, which triggered a response from the other occupant in the room.
"You're finally awake." A voice. It sounded familiar. Where did I hear it before?
"You scared me there for a moment, man-" Was that Grover? "You'd been asleep for the past three days." I snapped my eyes open at that, and turned my attention to the satyr. I must have had a bewildered look on my face when Grover's expression became one of concern.
"Hey, are you alright?" Grover asked. I stared at him for a few moments before I finally found my own voice.
"I was…asleep for 3 days?" I repeated.
"Yeah, but that's really nothing to worry about. Some of the people here could take up to 5 days or even a week in order to heal from those wounds."
Grover nodded. "You had deep bruises all over, not to mention some nasty cuts. The side of your head was bleeding when we arrived to get you, so we thought you had a concussion or something since it turned out to be a minor cut."
I processed what he said albeit slowly. I never thought that my injuries were actually that serious. I looked away from Grover and looked down at my bandaged arms, and from what I could feel, the upper part of my chest and back was also bandaged. I raised a hand to my forehead: sure enough, layered bindings were also wrapped around it. No wonder Grover was so worried. I probably looked like a mess.
"But it doesn't hurt." Grover only smiled.
"Of course not, we made sure to feed you ambrosia and nectar, food of the gods. It speeds up the healing process."
"Then can I leave?" I asked hopefully.
"I guess you could, but I don't recommend it. It's best if you remain in bed to rest up."
"Oh." I looked down at my lap. It's been 3 days since that incident. I guessed Artemis did have a heart. To actually call for Grover, and probably Chiron too, and didn't leave me in the woods.
"Don't you have any questions?" Grover asked a bit curiously. I looked up at him.
"Not really," I replied. "I kind of figured out we were at this camp. You're not using your handicap equipment, and judging from all these beds here," I looked towards the side slightly, "I'm probably in a hospital or something, right?" I glanced at him for confirmation.
"I think," Grover grinned, "that you, could be a child of Athena." I nearly snorted at that comment, "Most newcomers always ask that first question 'What is this place?' or 'Where am I?' but you…you managed to figure it out just by looking around."
"It's nothing," I mumbled, not used to compliments. "I'm sure anyone will notice if they pay enough attention." I pulled the covers away, and slid my feet over the edge. I tried standing, but I was a bit shaky, and would have lost my balance if Grover hadn't given me a hand.
"Careful there," he said, placing a hand on my shoulder to steady me. "You sure you want to get out now?"
"I like being outdoors." I answered, before I tried walking normally to the exit. By the time I got outside, I was on a wooden porch. There were many deck chairs by the side, and the view! There were lush green fields filled with the scent of fresh strawberries. The sun was shining high up in the sky, and if I looked closely, there were horses, and they were flying! It felt so nice out, that for a moment I thought I slept through all of winter and spring instead of just 3 days.
"Beautiful." I whispered in awe.
Grover had walked up behind me, and with a hand, he motioned me to follow him.
"Where are you leading me?" I asked, while staring at the Greek architecture and glistening lakes that were behind what appeared to be a farmhouse. There were kids of all ages. Some of them as young as 6 years old, others looked like they were in their late teens. The only similarity I saw in all of them was the orange T-shirts-labeled 'Camp Half-Blood'. For someone who didn't hang out with many people, I was easily overwhelmed. I wondered if I regretted coming out here so early.
"You're going to meet Chiron and the camp director, Mr. D. Chiron you already met, as for Mr. D…" Grover seemed to tremble at the mere mention of him. "Try to be on your best behavior." He didn't say anything else after that.
We finally reached them at the end of the porch. Chiron was sitting directly across some short chubby guy that I assumed was Mr. D. They were in the middle of a card game, and it was obvious that Chiron was winning big time. Chiron looked up at us as we approached.
"Seth," Chiron greeted warmly, "I see you are healing nicely."
"It's great to see you again, Chiron." I replied. I seated myself in one of the empty chairs at the table. Grover remained standing. I looked away from Chiron briefly, and glanced across the table at the short pudgy man known as Mr. D, who still hasn't bothered to look up from his cards. He had an intoxicating stench around him, the type of stench that could only be found around bars.
"Seth, I would like you to meet Mr. D. He is the camp's head director." I nodded. Grover had already informed me. I looked at him, but he still paid me no heed.
"Mr. D?" Chiron prodded him. That was when Mr. D finally snapped his attention away from the game.
"Huh?" Mr. D said, and then he finally noticed me. "Oh." I continued to look at him, and my stare probably started to get on his nerves when he snapped. "Well? What do you want? You want me to say 'hello'? Alright then," he looked at me face on, "hello." He quickly turned away from me as if I wasn't even worth a second of his time.
"Mr. D." Chiron said more seriously.
"Oh alright." Mr. D said annoyed. "Welcome to Camp Half-Blood, and yada yada yada. Don't expect me to be all that nice, Sam Hudson."
"It's Seth Hunter." I said, growing irritated.
"Whatever. Shouldn't you still be in bed? Look at you, what a mess. Grover!" Grover suddenly snapped into attention. "You should know better than to allow foolish demigods up and running when they only just recovered."
"I-I a-apologize, Mr. D." Grover said nervously. His hands were wrapped around an empty coke can, making crunchy noises as he spoke.
Mr. D only scoffed in response, and turned to study me under his scrutinizing gaze. I knew that Grover told me beforehand to be on my best behavior, but that was getting rather difficult with each passing second. The only thing that kept me from cursing this fat potbelly out was his aura. It was nearly identical to that of Artemis, and if that meant anything, then this rude guy could actually be a god. That was enough to keep my mouth shut, lest my offending words got me incinerated.
What a great first day.
I turned my attention away from the irritating midget to Chiron.
"So what am I supposed to do now?" I asked.
"Well, isn't that obvious?" Mr. D said obnoxiously. "You should go see that orientation film, but seeing as how you already know everything that would be unnecessary. Grover, why don't you make yourself useful and show the new brat around? Make him feel welcomed and all that nonsense."
"Of course Mr. D! Right away, sir!" Grover said immediately, tugging my arm away from the centaur and godly midget. "Come on, Seth." I went along with Grover as I narrowed my eyes at the retreating forms behind me.
"I wanted to strangle him," I muttered under my breath. Grover looked at me with a shocked countenance.
"Please don't say that," Grover said, "I know Mr. D…can be irritating at times, but it's best that you don't get on his bad side."
"Then why is he even here? He obviously hates his job."
"His father forced him to take this position. He offended him a while back when Mr. D fell for a wood nymph that was off-limits."
"A wood nymph?" I said surprisingly. "Just for a wood nymph?"
Grover shrugged. "He was warned the first time, but he paid no heed to it, and now this is his punishment, along with no access to alcohol of any sort."
"Alcohol…" I stated, while thinking back to the Greek myths that I tried hard on reading. "Mr. D's father…he isn't by any chance Zeus, is he?" The sky seemed to darken when I said his name. Grover looked up at the sky, worried.
"It's best that you avoid stating their names," he warned. "As for your question, yes, his father is the lord of the sky."
"I see." So now I knew Mr. D's true identity. I sure was glad I didn't try to curse him. "Hey Grover, I was wondering, how did I get here exactly?"
"I carried you," he answered. Seeing my shocked expression, he continued, "Chiron got an Iris message saying how you needed our help. So Chiron and I got there as fast as we could. When we arrived, you were unconscious, and the girl that had given us the message told us that you needed medical help as soon as possible. You were carried on my back some parts of the way, until I got us a taxi. Chiron caught up with us later. Then, I dragged you up the hill, passed Thalia's Pine tree, and that's it." I was stunned to say the least.
"T-thank you." I managed, scratching the back of my head awkwardly.
"It's nothing. After all, it's my job." Grover said with a smile. "In fact, I should be thanking you. Not for getting injured mind you, but for allowing me to get my searcher's license."
"It is every satyr's dream to look for the lost god, Pan. You heard of him, right?" I nodded. "For the last millennium, he has gone missing. The council has all but given up on him, but I hope to be the first to successfully bring him back."
"Whoa," I exclaimed. "The first? Are you saying there were others, and none of them ever came back?"
"Yeah," Grover said, "but I can't just give up because no one else succeeded so far. It's my dream."
"So you're saying, that in order to get this license- you need to bring a demigod to camp?"
Grover nodded, with a smile on his face. "That's basically it. You were my second chance, Seth. The first time I tried…well, let's just say I failed terribly. My second time, however, I made the council look past that by bringing you here. At first, I thought my second chance would be Percy. Turns out it wasn't." He looked so happy, that I couldn't help but smile along.
"Congrats." I said. I gave him a pat on the back.
We reached a clearing: 12 different types of cabins stood in its place. There were two large ones in the middle, with 10 cabins surrounding them in the shaped of a U. There was also a young girl tending a fire set in front of the two large cabins.
"The twelve Olympians?" I guessed. Grover nodded.
All of the cabins had their own type of style. Cabin 1 was enormous, with large bronze pillars that scattered the light into different reflected angles, as if lightning was slashed upon it. Cabin 2 was slightly smaller, with peacock feathers designed all over the front. We continued on, each of them getting weirder than the last. Cabin 3 had seashells and coral for walls, like the whole thing belonged under the sea. There was another that shined so bright that it hurt my eyes just from staring at it. There was one other cabin that caught my attention, and I knew automatically which one it belonged to.
Cabin Number 8. Artemis' Cabin.
It was…beautiful. The whole cabin was practically made of pure silver. It was of average size, and had thin decorated pillars, with the sign of the stag as its emblem. It may not be as grandiose as some others, but it had a soft, elegant feel to it. The cabin looked pretty dull right now during the day, but I could only imagine how magnificent it would look when the moon appeared tonight.
Grover caught my staring at Cabin 8, and I quickly broke away the urge of touching or even looking at the silver cabin. Last thing I needed was for people to assume I was some illegitimate child from a goddess that shunned guys.
As if I didn't have enough problems.
"So, whose cabin is this?" I asked, hoping to change the topic before it started.
It worked. Grover quickly gave me a thorough explanation of how it belonged to Artemis, how she even had a whole girl scout group notably called 'The Hunters of Artemis'. He also gave a brief history of their origins, and how the current lieutenant, Zoë Nightshade, was second in command.
Met them, saw them, and didn't like them a bit.
Then, he went on to talk about why some of the Cabins were empty. Artemis, of course, was a virgin, so no kids (If only he knew, I thought bitterly). Hera was the goddess of marriage, so she had no kids other than Ares, Hephaestus, and Hebe. He also talked about a 'Big Three Pact' that occurred after the World Wars, but I didn't pay much attention to that since it didn't involve me. It was only until he mentioned Thalia, daughter of Zeus, did my interest perk up.
"So she got turned into a pine tree?" I asked, interested.
Grover nodded, his eyes looking downcast. "She tried to protect two of her friends, who eventually made it across the border. Hades was furious when he found out that Zeus had broken the pact, so he sent the worst monsters after Thalia. She was eventually overwhelmed, and as she lay dying, her father took pity on her, and preserved her as a tree." He looked towards the pine tree that was at the edge of the border. "That is why that tree is known as Thalia's."
I didn't say anything to that, but I was already admiring this Thalia, even though we had and would never meet. She protected those who were close to her at the cost of her life. If only I could have done half as much that night.
"Come on Seth," Grover urged. "Let's get you introduced to Cabin 11."
Cabin 11 was, by far the most messed up out of the 12.
It was practically a zoo in here, all the bunk beds in the patched up cabin were already taken, and it was overcrowded. In fact, there were probably more sleeping bags than actual beds in this place. I quickly dodged to the left as an incoming plate crashed into the wall behind me. There was laughter and a couple of shouts going on simultaneously, and some of the kids were even jumping from one bunk bed to the other, while doing somersaults.
This place…was the embodiment of true chaos.
I looked at Grover with a look that clearly indicated 'Are- you- freaking- serious?!'. Grover only looked back at me sheepishly. This place was dense and suffocating. I think I preferred sleeping on the rooftop if it meant getting my own space. A tall sandy haired guy made his way towards Grover and I. He looked to be around 17 to 18, with a good athletic build. He looked like your average teen model. That is, if it wasn't for the long scar that ran across the edge of his face.
"Hey," he called, his eyes fixed on me. "You must be new here." I nodded, suddenly feeling out of place. "So, is he a regular or undetermined?" Since I didn't know what he was talking about, he must have been speaking to Grover.
"Undetermined," was all he said, and I couldn't help but notice the look of disappointment that etched across the guy's face. When he caught my gaze, he threw me a friendly grin.
"Well, I know it isn't much, but welcome to Hermes Cabin! I'm Luke Castellan, the head counselor of Cabin 11." he said warmly, and then he walked away, motioning me to follow him. Grover gave a smile of encouragement.
"Go on," he said. "If you need me or anything…"
"It's fine." I said, and I went to follow after Luke. I didn't know how I could keep up with him, having to step over sleeping bags and other things in the way, and he was walking at a moderate pace. I supposed years of practice were the solution.
When he finally stopped, I noticed the sleeping bag on the floor, still rolled up and unclaimed.
"Here," Luke called out, throwing me an orange shirt, "take it. It's now yours, along with the sleeping bag."
"Oh, thanks," I said as I settled down.
"It's no problem," Luke replied as he helped me unwrap the bag. "So what's your name?"
"Seth…" I pulled the orange shirt over my dirtied one. "Seth Hunter."
"It's nice meeting you, Seth," he smiled. "How do you like camp so far?"
"Um, I'm not quite sure yet actually," I said honestly. "I haven't seen all of camp, and you're the first person I met besides Grover, Chiron, and Mr. D."
"I see," Luke said, while thinking, "then how about I show you around?" I widened my eyes in surprise, taken off guard by his offer. "You probably haven't seen the armory yet, or the arena and archery range-!"
"Archery range?" I interrupted.
Luke raised an eyebrow. "You like archery?"
I mentally slapped myself. Fool! If you don't want people to find out about your parentage, you don't give away obvious hints! I smiled uneasily to cover up the mental battle I was having.
"It's nothing," I said calmly, "I always wanted to try out the sport." Luke still didn't look convinced, "So what's the armory for? Do I get my own weapon?" Luke still looked at me funny before answering me.
"You will eventually," he said finally. "But if you're really that enthusiastic about archery…" He stood up. "How about we head there first?"
There were many people out at the archery range. Some of them were practicing, others watched. By the time we came up on the platform, a boy with sun colored hair and tanned skin had just released his arrow, and it hit nearly dead center. His friends cheered at the side. I admit that was a good shot, but as I examined more closely where the arrow was embedded, I noticed it was slightly to the left. That was when I couldn't help but think:
I could do better than that.
"Hey Will!" Luke called out. The boy who had made the shot turned around, and smiled when he noticed who was calling him. "You mind if we use the target practice for today?"
"I don't mind," Will said as he walked up to us. He was pretty tall, easily towering over my average height. "I never saw you as the archery type, Luke."
"Oh, it's not me that's using the practice," Luke motioned me to come over. "Seth Hunter, this is Will Solace, son of Apollo."
Apollo, god of the sun, music, archery, prophecy, and healing. I recalled. This is his son? He sure looks like it.
"Hi," I said, feeling self-conscious. "I'm the one that wants to use it. I hope I'm not…intruding."
"Not at all," Will said, then he frowned when he noticed the bindings on my head. "You okay? Your head…"
"Oh this? Don't worry about it. I think it healed a while ago." Will only shrugged in response.
"If you say so." He handed me a bow and arrow. "Give it your best shot."
They positioned the targets according to distance. The closest target was at five feet, with the next target moved another 5 feet back. Will managed that shot on the second to last target, around 45 feet from where he was standing. I was adjusting my bow towards the first target. Everyone else had ceased what they were doing when they noticed the new kid was up.
The bow that I had was sturdy, and slightly heavier than the one I used before. I took a moment to position the arrow, and then I released it.
It hit dead center.
Will whistled in astonishment. "Good shot. Have you taken archery lessons before?" I shook my head.
"No…I don't think so." Will said, a grin starting to appear on his face. He positioned the next target at 10 feet. "Try this one."
I released the arrow, and again it hit dead center. The crowd that had started to gather became filled with whispers and excitement as Will positioned the target at 15 feet, and again I made a perfect shot. This continued on as I reached 20, 25, all the way to 40. By the time I reached 45 feet, I took longer than I did the others. The target was getting smaller and smaller as it got farther away. I had to squint my eyes in order to even see the center point, but I wanted to beat Will's score. So once I got my bow at a decent angle, I released it with all I had. Once it hit, someone had to go up and check it in order to see how precise it was. A girl volunteered to check, and after examining it, her face had a look of astonishment.
"I-it's perfect!" she called out. Everyone cheered. Some people probably didn't even believe that a beginner could have such luck. Trust me, I didn't either.
I looked towards Will, suddenly afraid that he was angry at me for beating his score, but when I looked, he only had a huge grin on his face. Luke was also looking very proud of me, boasting to everyone else how I was in his cabin. The last target was already being set out, and the clamor began to cease.
This is it, I thought eagerly, the last one.
I concentrated, steadying my bow like always. But just when I was about to release it, the sun came out from behind the clouds, momentarily blinding me with its light. I lost a clear view of my shot when I released the arrow. So instead of the 'perfect shot', the arrow landed somewhere else entirely: it soared right over the target, and was heading to where two girls were sitting under a tree. I cried out in warning, and thankfully, the blonde-haired girl noticed, and quickly moved out of the way.
The arrow had struck the roots of the tree, where moments ago, it could have been one of the girls' legs. The two girls, realizing that the danger had passed, turned around and glared in my direction. The two then got up, the blonde bent down and pulled the arrow out roughly, and stomped her way towards me. Her expression clearly showed that she was pissed.
Everyone was strangely quiet as the blonde and I faced each other. From up close though, I realized the girl was pretty. Curly blonde hair, a good figure, and stormy grey eyes that had an edge of danger to them. She stared at me without blinking, like she was trying to analyze how to beat me up.
"I believe this is yours?" she replied icily as she held the arrow out to me and placed it in my hand.
"Oh come on, Annabeth," Luke called out as he walked up towards us, "he's new here. He meant no harm." Her expression seemed to soften by a small degree. "You're probably scaring the poor kid."
She looked at me silently, narrowing her eyes ever so slightly, and then she sighed.
"Fine. Just make sure it doesn't happen again." Then, Annabeth turned away to join her friend. "Let's go, Silena." The other girl gave me a brief glare before following after her.
When they were both out of earshot, everyone else had crowded around. Some patted me on the back, while others showered me with compliments. Others were curious as to why I messed up so badly on that last shot. When I said it was because the sun was in my eyes, they took it as a joke and laughed. My face must be red with embarrassment.
"You must be another son of Apollo!" Will declared. "There's no other explanation! You're a born archer."
"Yeah, that's probably it." I said sheepishly. If only they knew it was the other twin.
"Apollo tends to claim his kids quickly," he said cheerfully. "You'll probably be moved to the Apollo cabin by the end of the week."
My face deadened. "C-Claimed? What do you mean by 'Claimed'?"
"Oh? You haven't heard about that?" Will sounded surprised. "It's when your godly parent claims their children officially. That's how it is around here. Do you think we knew beforehand who our parents were automatically?"
"Oh…yeah, that makes sense." I replied quietly. Another guy walked out towards Luke and me, and judging from his appearance, he was most likely another son of Apollo.
"You know what Luke?" he said. "I think I'm ready to take up your offer." He gave me an amused glance, and said jokingly, "only because we don't want this kid as our enemy." Luke looked delighted.
"You won't regret your decision, Lee." Luke said with assurance. The two shook hands on it, like they were sealing a pact.
"What are they talking about Will?" I asked.
He grinned. "They're talking about the game we're having in a few days."
He nodded. "Have you perhaps, ever heard of Capture the Flag?"