A/N- Okay, just as promised. Here it goes!
Disclaimer- I own nothing.
Chris jogged back to his seat on the bench at the Hermes table and read, Frank X.
FRANK DIDN'T REMEMBER MUCH ABOUT the funeral itself. But he remembered the hours leading up to it—his grandmother coming out into the backyard to find him shooting arrows at her porcelain collection.
"Poor guy," Piper sighed.
His grandmother's house was a rambling gray stone mansion on twelve acres in North Vancouver. Her backyard ran straight into Lynn Canyon Park.
The morning was cold and drizzly, but Frank didn't feel the chill. He wore a black wool suit and a black overcoat that had once belonged to his grandfather. Frank had been startled and upset to find that they fit him fine. The clothes smelled like wet mothballs and jasmine. The fabric was itchy but warm. With his bow and quiver, he probably looked like a very dangerous butler.
The Stolls began to snicker but then stopped remembering the reason Frank was wearing the suit in the first place.
He'd loaded some of his grandmother's porcelain in a wagon and toted it into the yard, where he set up targets on old fence posts at the edge of the property. He'd been shooting so long, his fingers were starting to lose their feeling. With every arrow, he imagined he was striking down his problems.
"At least he's letting his anger out," Thalia commented. "I should know from experience-it's not good to keep everything bottled up like that."
Almost every camper, Chiron included, turned to look at Thalia in astonishment.
"What?" she said.
Chiron just shook his head. "Your time with the Hunters is teaching you well."
Thalia gave her old teacher a cheeky grin.
Snipers in Afghanistan. Smash. A teapot exploded with an arrow through the middle.
The sacrifice medal, a silver disk on a red-and-black ribbon, given for death in the line of duty, presented to Frank as if it were something important, something that made everything all right. Thwack. A teacup spun into the woods.
The officer who came to tell him: "Your mother is a hero. Captain Emily Zhang died trying to save her comrades."
Crack. A blue-and-white plate split into pieces.
His grandmother's chastisement: Men do not cry. EspeciallyZhang men. You will endure, Fai.
Rachel and Thalia, naturally being feminists since they would be single for all eternity, frowned. They didn't like to cry themselves, but it was different if you were crying over the death of a loved one. They also had a bone to pick with the line 'Men do not cry.' Everyone cries, men and women, and that was that.
No one called him Fai except his grandmother. What sort of name is Frank? She would scold. That is not a Chinese name.
I'm not Chinese, Frank thought, but he didn't dare say that. His mother had told him years ago: There is no arguing with Grandmother. It'll only make you suffer worse. She'd been right. And now Frank had no one except his grandmother.
Thud. A fourth arrow hit the fence post and stuck there, quivering.
"Fai," said his grandmother.
She was clutching a shoebox-sized mahogany chest that Frank had never seen before. With her high-collared black dress and severe bun of gray hair, she looked like a school teacher from the 1800s.
She surveyed the carnage: her porcelain in the wagon, the shards of her favorite tea sets scattered over the lawn, Frank's arrows sticking out of the ground, the trees, the fence posts, and one in the head of a smiling garden gnome.
Frank thought she would yell, or hit him with the box. He'd never done anything this bad before. He'd never felt so angry.
"She'll understand. I'm sure, she lost her daughter," Annabeth sighed.
Grandmother's face was full of bitterness and disapproval. She looked nothing like Frank's mom. He wondered how his mother had turned out to be so nice—always laughing, always gentle. Frank couldn't imagine his mom growing up with Grandmother any more than he could imagine her on the battlefield— though the two situations probably weren't that different.
At this Annabeth frowned. She had been one to think bad of her family when she really shouldn't have. She hoped Frank didn't make the same mistake she did and sort out his problems before hand.
He waited for Grandmother to explode. Maybe he'd be grounded and wouldn't have to go to the funeral. He wanted to hurt her for being so mean all the time, for letting his mother go off to war, for scolding him to get over it. All she cared about was her stupid collection.
"Stop this ridiculous behavior," Grandmother said. She didn't sound very irritated. "It is beneath you."
To Frank's astonishment, she kicked aside one of her favorites teacups.
Annabeth nodded a little, knowing this behavior was expected.
"The car will be here soon," she said. "We must talk."
Frank was dumbfounded. He looked more closely at the mahogany box. For a horrible moment, he wondered if it contained his mother's ashes, but that was impossible. Grandmother had told him there would be a military burial.
The Stolls began to lean out of their seats, and Rachel whirled around to face them faster than lightning and demanded from them, "No comment." Their expressions looked deflated as they sat back down.
Then why did Grandmother hold the box so gingerly, as if its contents grieved her?
"Come inside," she said. Without waiting to see if he would follow, she turned and marched toward the house.
In the parlor, Frank sat on a velvet sofa, surrounded by vintage family photos, porcelain vases that had been too large for his wagon, and red Chinese calligraphy banners. Frank didn't know what the calligraphy said. He'd never had much interest in learning. He didn't know most of the people in the photographs, either.
Whenever Grandmother started lecturing him about his ancestors—how they'd come over from China and prospered in the import/export business, eventually becoming one of the wealthiest Chinese families in Vancouver—well, it was boring. Frank was fourth-generation Canadian. He didn't care about China and all these musty antiques. The only Chinese characters he could recognize were his family name: Zhang. Master of bows. That was cool.
Grandmother sat next to him, her posture stiff, her hands folded over the box.
"Your mother wanted you to have this," she said with reluctance. "She kept it since you were a baby. When she went away to the war, she entrusted it to me. But now she is gone. And soon you will be going, too."
Frank's stomach fluttered. "Going? Where?"
"I am old," Grandmother said, as if that were a surprising announcement. "I have my own appointment with Death soon enough. I cannot teach you the skills you will need, and I cannot keep this burden. If something were to happen to it, I would never forgive myself. You would die."
Frank wasn't sure he'd heard her right. It sounded like she had said his life depended on that box. He wondered why he'd never seen it before. She must have kept it locked in the attic—the one room Frank was forbidden to explore. She'd always said she kept her most valuable treasures up there.
She handed the box to him. He opened the lid with trembling fingers. Inside, cushioned in velvet lining, was a terrifying, life altering, incredibly important…piece of wood.
Jason, Leo, and Piper shared a confused look together, which, considering how they were all three seated at different tables, is hard to do. But they could clearly see that the others' expression read, How could a piece of wood be so important?
Annabeth, on the other hand, didn't question the importance of this particular piece of wood. It wasn't something mythology had taught her to be familiar with, but she's seen it all and she's sure she'll see much more in her lifetime.
It looked like driftwood—hard and smooth, sculpted into a wavy shape. It was about the size of a TV remote control. The tip was charred. Frank touched the burned end. It still felt warm. The ashes left a black smudge on his finger.
"It's a stick," he said.
"Pshhhhhhhhh, yay!" the Stolls laughed. Them and their stupid moments.
He couldn't figure out why Grandmother was acting so tense and serious about it.
Her eyes glittered. "Fai, do you know of prophecies? Do you know of the gods?"
The questions made him uncomfortable. He thought about Grandmother's silly gold statues of Chinese immortals, (A/N Chinese immortals aren't silly!) her superstitions about putting furniture in certain places and avoiding unlucky numbers. (That too, sort off) Prophecies made him think of fortune cookies, which weren't even Chinese—not really—but the bullies at school teased him about stupid stuff like that: Confucius say(He's a great a teacher!) …all that garbage. Frank had never even been to China. He wanted nothing to do with it. But of course, Grandmother didn't want to hear that.
"A little, Grandmother," he said. "Not much."
"Most would have scoffed at your mother's tale," she said, "But I did not. I know of prophecies and gods. Greek, Roman, Chinese—they intertwine in our family. I did not question what she told me about your father."
"Wait ... what?"
"Your father was a god," she said plainly.
Annabeth snickered. "Way to break it to him."
Thalia guffawed. "Like you didn't tell Percy the same thing."
Annabeth stared off as the memory hit her like a thousand bricks, like everything else that had to do with Percy felt to her these days.
"I mean not human. Not totally human, anyway. Half-human."
"Half-human and half-what?"
"I think you know."
"God," Percy said. "Half-god."
Annabeth nodded. "Your father isn't dead, Percy. He's one of the Olympians."
"That's ... crazy."
Annabeth's cheeks flushed. "Something like that," she said, ducking her head.
If Grandmother had had a sense of humor, Frank would have thought she was kidding. But Grandmother never teased. Was she going senile?
"Stop gaping at me!" she snapped. "My mind is not addled. Haven't you ever wondered why your father never came back?"
"He was…" Frank faltered. Losing his mother was painful enough. He didn't want to think about his father, too. "He was in the army, like Mom. He went missing in action. In Iraq."
Will shook his head. Always some story.
"Bah. He was a god. He fell in love with your mother because she was a natural warrior. She was like me—strong, brave, good, beautiful."
Strong and brave, Frank could believe. Picturing Grandmother as good or beautiful was more difficult.
The Aphrodite and Ares (minus Piper and Clarisse) kids laughed together, which was an unusual event all in itself.
He still suspected she might be losing her marbles, but he asked, "What kind of god?"
"Roman," she said. "Beyond that, I don't know. Your mother wouldn't say, or perhaps she didn't know herself. It is no surprise a god would fall in love with her, given our family. He must have known she was of ancient blood."
"Hmmm?" Annabeth tilted her head to Chiron. He merely raised his eyebrows in response.
"Wait…we're Chinese. Why would Roman gods want to date Chinese Canadians?"
Grandmother's nostrils flared. "If you bothered to learn the family history, Fai, you might know this. China and Rome are not so different, nor as separate as you might believe. Our family is from Gansu Province, a town once called Li-Jien.
Legion, Jason though to himself.
And before that…as I said, ancient blood. The blood of princes and heroes."
Frank just stared at her.
She sighed in exasperation. "My words are wasted on this young ox! You will learn the truth when you go to camp. Perhaps your father will claim you. But for now, I must explain the firewood."
She pointed at the big stone fireplace. "Shortly after you were born, a visitor appeared at our hearth. Your mother and I sat here on the couch, just where you and I are sitting. You were a tiny thing, swaddled in a blue blanket, and she cradled you in her arms."
It sounded like a sweet memory, but Grandmother told it in a bitter tone, as if she knew, even then, that Frank would turn into a big lumbering oaf.
"A woman appeared at the fire," she continued. "She was a white woman—a gwai poh— dressed in blue silk, with a strange cloak like the skin of a goat."
"Juno," Jason said, then translated, "err-Hera."
Annabeth nodded and Chrion swished his tail.
"A goat," Frank said numbly.
Grandmother scowled. "Yes, clean your ears, Fai Zhang! I'm too old to tell every story twice! The woman with the goatskin was a goddess. I can always tell these things. She smiled at the baby—at you—and she told your mother, in perfect Mandarin, no less: 'He will close the circle. He will return your family to its roots and bring you great honor.'"
Grandmother snorted. "I do not argue with goddesses, but perhaps this one did not see the future clearly. Whatever the case, she said, 'He will go to camp and restore your reputation there. He will free Thanatos from his icy chains—'"
"Who's that?" Leo asked.
"Chris looked back down at the book. "It'll explain," he said.
"Thanatos," Grandmother said impatiently. "The Greek name for Death. Now may I continue without interruptions? The goddess said, 'The blood of Pylos is strong in this child from his mother's side.
"Pylos was one of the Argonauts on Jason's ship. The first Jason," Annabeth explained.
"I've never heard of a Roman child with a Greek bloodline like this. I wonder if he'll have the gift too…," Chiron trailed off talking to himself.
He will have the Zhang family gift,
That answers my questions, Chiron thought.
but he will also have the powers of his father.'"
Suddenly Frank's family history didn't seem so boring. He desperately wanted to ask what it all meant—powers, gifts, blood of Pylos. What was this camp, and who was his father? But he didn't want to interrupt Grandmother again. He wanted her to keep talking.
"No power comes without a price, Fai," she said. "Before the goddess disappeared, she pointed at the fire and said, 'He will be the strongest of your clan, and the greatest. But the Fates have decreed he will also be the most vulnerable. His life will burn bright and short. As soon as that piece of tinder is consumed—that stick at the edge of the fire—your son is destined to die.'"
"Oh," Chris interrupted himself. So that was the importance of the stick.
Leo let out a low whistle. "That's a suckish destiny.
Many nodded in agreement.
Frank could hardly breathe. He looked at the box in his lap, and the smudge of ash on his finger. The story sounded ridiculous, but suddenly the piece of driftwood seemed more sinister, colder and heavier.
"Yes, my thick-headed ox," Grandmother said. "That is the very stick. The goddess disappeared, and I snatched the wood from the fire immediately. We have kept it ever since."
"If it burns up, I die?"
"It is not so strange," Grandmother said. "Roman, Chinese—the destinies of men can often be predicted, and sometimes guarded against, at least for a time. The firewood is in your possession now. Keep it close. As long as it is safe, you are safe."
"That's hard to do if you're a demigod," Piper pointed out. Demigods were never safe, so she wouldn't be so sure that Frank's possessions were going to be safe either.
Frank shook his head. He wanted to protest that this was just a stupid legend. Maybe Grandmother was trying to scare him as some sort of revenge for breaking her porcelain.
But her eyes were defiant. She seemed to be challenging Frank: If you do not believe it, burn it.
"That's terrible," Lacy said. Mitchel nodded gravely beside her.
Frank closed the box. "If it's so dangerous, why not seal the wood in something that won't burn, like plastic or steel? Why not put it in a safe deposit box?"
"What would happen," Grandmother wondered, "if we coated the stick in another substance. Would you, too, suffocate? I do not know. Your mother would not take the risk. She couldn't bear to part with it, for fear something would go wrong. Banks can be robbed. Buildings can burn down. Strange things conspire when one tries to cheat fate. Your mother thought the stick was only safe in her possession, until she went to war. Then she gave it to me."
Grandmother exhaled sourly. "Emily was foolish, going to war, though I suppose I always knew it was her destiny. She hoped to meet your father again."
The campers were silent.
"I suppose it could be Ares-Mars-his father I mean…" Annabeth voiced everyone's thoughts.
"She thought…she thought he'd be in Afghanistan?"
Grandmother spread her hands, as if this was beyond her understanding. "She went. She died bravely. She thought the family gift would protect her. No doubt that's how she saved those soldiers. But the gift has never kept our family safe. It did not help my father, or his father. It did not help me. And now you have become a man. You must follow the path."
"But…what path? What's our gift—archery?"
"You and your archery! Foolish boy. Soon you will find out. Tonight, after the funeral, you must go south. Your mother said if she did not come back from combat, Lupa would send messengers. They will escort you to a place where the children of the gods can be trained for their destiny."
Frank felt as if he were being shot with arrows, his heart splitting into porcelain shards. He didn't understand most of what Grandmother said, but one thing was clear: she was kicking him out.
"You'd just let me go?" he asked. "Your last family?"
Grandmother's mouth quivered. Her eyes looked moist. Frank was shocked to realize she was near tears. She'd lost her husband years ago, then her daughter, and now she was about to send away her only grandson.
But she rose from the couch and stood tall, her posture as stiff and correct as ever.
"When you arrive at camp," she instructed, "you must speak to the praetor in private. Tell her your great-grandfather was Shen Lun. It has been many years since the San Francisco incident. Hopefully they will not kill you for what he did, but you might want to beg forgiveness for his actions."
"What did he do?" Leo asked.
Piper shrugged as a response.
"This is sounding better and better," Frank mumbled.
"The goddess said you would bring our family full circle." Grandmother's voice had no trace of sympathy. "She chose your path years ago, and it will not be easy. But now it is time for the funeral. We have obligations. Come. The car will be waiting."
The ceremony was a blur: solemn faces, the patter of rain on the graveside awning, the crack of rifles from the honor guard, the casket sinking into the earth.
That night, the wolves came. They howled on the front porch. Frank came out to meet them. He took his travel pack, his warmest clothes, his bow and his quiver. His mother's sacrifice medal was tucked in his pack. The charred stick was wrapped carefully in three layers of cloth in his coat pocket, next to his heart.
His journey south began—to the Wolf House in Sonoma, and eventually to Camp Jupiter, where he spoke to Reyna privately as Grandmother had instructed. He begged forgiveness for the great-grandfather he knew nothing about. Reyna let him join the legion. She never did tell him what his great-grandfather had done, but she obviously knew. Frank could tell it was bad.
"I judge people by their own merits," Reyna had told him.
"But do not mention the name Shen Lun to anyone else. It must remain our secret, or you'll be treated badly."
Unfortunately, Frank didn't have many merits. His first month at camp was spent knocking over rows of weapons, breaking chariots, and tripping entire cohorts as they marched. His favorite job was caring for Hannibal the elephant, but he'd managed to mess that up, too—giving Hannibal indigestion by feeding him peanuts. Who knew elephants could be peanut-intolerant?
"Wow," Grover mentioned. It was the first time he had said anything this whole chapter. There had been a serious aura in the air and all the emotions were too complex for even the Lord of the Wild to handle.
Frank figured Reyna was regretting her decision to let him join.
Every day, he woke up wondering if the stick would somehow catch fire and burn, and he would cease to exist. All of this ran through Frank's head as he walked with Hazel and Percy to the war games. He thought about the stick wrapped inside his coat pocket, and what it meant that Juno had appeared at camp. Was he about to die? He hoped not. He hadn't brought his family any honor yet—that was for sure. Maybe Apollo would claim him today and explain his powers and gifts.
"Nope," came the instant response from all the campers listening.
Once they got out of camp, the Fifth Cohort formed two lines behind their centurions, Dakota and Gwen. They marched north, skirting the edge of the city, and headed to the Field of Mars—the largest, flattest part of the valley. The grass was cropped short by all the unicorns, bulls, and homeless fauns that grazed here. The earth was pitted with explosion craters and scarred with trenches from past games. At the north end of the field stood their target. The engineers had built a stone fortress with an iron portcullis, guard towers, scorpion ballistae, water cannons, and no doubt many other nasty surprises for the defenders to use.
The Ares kids were silent for a moment. And then-
"THAT'S THE COOLEST THING I'VE EVER HEARD OF!"
"THEY USE THOSE THINGS TO PRACTICE?"
"WE HAVE TO GET ONE OF THOSE!"
"Oh my gods," Annabeth tried to get out over the noise. "A book actually broke them. "
"Heroes!" Chiron called over the noise. He stomped his hoof twice.
The Ares kids stopped shouting.
"We'll discuss the matter of our equipment later. For now, on with the book. Chris, if you will please," he gestured for Chris to keep reading.
"They did a good job today," Hazel noted. "That's bad for us."
"Wait," Percy said. "You're telling me that fortress was built today?"
Annabeth's eyes went wide. They're amazing architects.
Hazel grinned. "Legionnaires are trained to build. If we had to, we could break down the entire camp and rebuild it somewhere else. Take maybe three or four days, but we could do it."
"Wow." "Incredible." "Awesome."
"Let's not," Percy said. "So you attack a different fort every night?"
"Not every night," Frank said. "We have different training exercises. Sometimes death ball—um, which is like paintball, except with…you know, poison and acid and fire balls. Sometimes we do chariots and gladiator competitions, sometimes war games."
Hazel pointed at the fort. "Somewhere inside, the First and Second Cohorts are keeping their banners. Our job is to get inside and capture them without getting slaughtered. We do that, we win."
Percy's eyes lit up. "Like capture-the flag. I think I like capture-the-flag."
"Oh, Seaweed Brain," Annabeth half laughed, half sighed. "You have no idea."
"He usually doesn't ," Thalia remarked and they broke out laughing.
Frank laughed. "Yeah, well…it's harder than it sounds. We have to get past those scorpions and water cannons on the walls, fight through the inside of the fortress, find the banners, and defeat the guards, all while protecting our own banners and troops from capture. And our cohort is in competition with the other two attacking cohorts. We sort of work together, but not really. The cohort that captures the banners gets all the glory."
Percy stumbled, trying to keep time with the left-right marching rhythm. Frank sympathized. He'd spent his first two weeks falling down.
"Teamwork," Hazel said. "Quick thinking. Tactics. Battle skills. You'd be surprised what you can learn in the war games."
"Like who will stab you in the back," Frank said.
"Especially that," Hazel agreed.
Annabeth grimaced along with many others.
They marched to the center of the Field of Mars and formed ranks. The Third and Fourth Cohorts assembled as far as possible from the Fifth. The centurions for the attacking side gathered for a conference. In the sky above them, Reyna circled on her pegasus, Scipio, ready to play referee.
Half a dozen giant eagles flew in formation behind her—prepared for ambulance airlift duty if necessary. The only person not participating in the game was Nico Di Angelo, "Pluto's ambassador," who had climbed an observation tower about a hundred yards from the fort and would be watching with binoculars.
I still can't believe… I can't even begin to think about…, Annabeth thought with mixed feelings.
Frank propped his pilum against his shield and checked Percy's armor. Every strap was correct. Every piece of armor was properly adjusted.
"After years of fixing it for him," Annabeth snorted.
Thalia laughed and Grover chuckled with his friends.
"You did it right," he said in amazement. "Percy, you must've done war games before."
"Yup, at Camp Half-Blood!"
"I don't know. Maybe." The only thing that wasn't regulation was Percy's glowing bronze sword—not Imperial gold, and not a gladius.
The blade was leaf-shaped, and the writing on the hilt was Greek.
Looking at it made Frank uneasy. Percy frowned. "We can use real weapons, right?"
"Yeah," Frank agreed. "For sure. I've just never seen a sword like that."
"What if I hurt somebody?"
"No dessert for a week," Clarisse said in a bitterly sarcastic voice, thinking of how his first fight against the Ares cabin in capture-the-flag had turned out.
"We heal them," Frank said. "Or try to. The legion medics are pretty good with ambrosia and nectar, and unicorn draught."
"No one dies," Hazel said. "Well, not usually. And if they do—"
Frank imitated the voice of Vitellius: "They're wimps! Back in my day, we died all the time, and we liked it!"
"Woah," said Leo. "I think something's wrong with Vitellius 'cuz I'm pretty sure most people like to live."
"He's always been like that," Jason rolled his eyes. "It's awful."
"You can say that again," Piper nodded laughing in shock.
Hazel laughed. "Just stay with us, Percy. Chances are we'll get the worst duty and get eliminated early. They'll throw us at the walls first to soften up the defenses. Then the Third and Fourth Cohorts will march in and get the honors, if they can even breach the fort."
Horns blew. Dakota and Gwen walked back from the officers' conference, looking grim.
"All right, here's the plan!" Dakota took a quick swig of Kool-Aid from his travel flask. "They're throwing us at the walls first to soften up the defenses."
"Isn't that just what Hazel said?"
The whole cohort groaned.
"I know, I know," Gwen said. "But maybe this time we'll have some luck!"
Leave it to Gwen to be the optimist. Everybody liked her because she took care of her people and tried to keep their spirits up. She could even control Dakota during his hyperactive bug-juice fits. Still, the campers grumbled and complained. Nobody believed in luck for the Fifth.
"First line with Dakota," Gwen said. "Lock shields and advance in turtle formation to the main gates. Try to stay in one piece. Draw their fire. Second line—"
Gwen turned to Frank's row without much enthusiasm. "You seventeen, from Bobby over, take charge of the elephant and the scaling ladders. Try a flanking attack on the western wall. Maybe we can spread the defenders too thin. Frank, Hazel, Percy…well, just do whatever.
Annabeth looked at Thalia with her eyebrows raised.
Thalia leaned back in her seat, "Alright, this should be fun."
Annabeth put her head down on the Athena table and laughed silently, hard enough to actually send vibrations through the old wooden benches.
Show Percy the ropes. Try to keep him alive."
Annabeth let out a small squeak.
She turned back to the whole cohort. "If anybody gets over the wall first, I'll make sure you get the Mural Crown. Victory for the Fifth!"
The cohort cheered half heartedly and broke ranks.
Percy frowned. "'Do whatever?'"
"Yeah," Hazel sighed. "Big vote of confidence."
"What's the Mural Crown?" he asked.
"Military medal," Frank said. He'd been forced to memorize all the possible awards. "Big honor for the first soldier to breach an enemy fort. You'll notice nobody in the Fifth is wearing one. Usually we don't even get into the fort because we're burning or drowning or…"
He faltered, and looked at Percy. "Water cannons."
"Ahhh okay I see your strategy. Good idea," Malcom said praisingly.
"What?" Percy asked.
"The cannons on the walls," Frank said, "they draw water from the aqueduct. There's a pump system—heck, I don't know how they work, but they're under a lot of pressure. If you could control them, like you controlled the river—"
"Frank!" Hazel beamed. "That's brilliant!"
Percy didn't look so sure. "I don't know how I did that at the river. I'm not sure I can control the cannons from this far away."
"We'll get you closer." Frank pointed to the eastern wall of the fort, where the Fifth Cohort wouldn't be attacking. "That's where the defense will be weakest. They'll never take three kids seriously. I think we can sneak up pretty close before they see us."
"Sneak up how?" Percy asked.
Frank turned to Hazel. "Can you do that thing again?"
She punched him in the chest. "You said you wouldn't tell anybody!"
Immediately Frank felt terrible. He'd gotten so caught up in the idea...
Hazel muttered under her breath. "Never mind. It's fine. Percy, he's talking about the trenches. The Field of Mars is riddled with tunnels from over the years. Some are collapsed, or buried deep, but a lot of them are still passable. I'm pretty good at finding them and using them. I can even collapse them if I have to."
"That's so awesome!" Leo exclaimed like a child. "You know how many times we could use that to sneak up on our enemies and just be like 'BLERRGHH!' and they would be all 'AHHH DON'T HURT ME!' and then-"
"Can we go back to the story please?" Piper pleaded from Chris before Leo could get too in depth with his idea of a sneak attack.
"Like you did with the gorgons," Percy said, "to slow them down."
Frank nodded approvingly. "I told you Pluto was cool. He's the god of everything under the earth. Hazel can find caves, tunnels, trapdoors—"
"And it was our secret," she grumbled.
Frank felt himself blushing. "Yeah, sorry. But if we can get close—"
"And if I can knock out the water cannons…" Percy nodded, like he was warming to the idea. "What do we do then?"
Frank checked his quiver. He always stocked up on special arrows. He'd never gotten to use them before, but maybe tonight was the night. Maybe he could finally do something good enough to get Apollo's attention.
"Wrong god, kid," Will shook his head.
"The rest is up to me," he said. "Let's go."
"That's it," Chris said. He was about to ask who wanted to read the next chapter when the nymphs came out from the trees with trays of sandwiches and French fries.
Chiron noticed also and said, "We will continue at the campfire tonight, then. Enjoy your lunch." Then he proceeded to take the book from Chris and tuck it under his arm. He left to check on the Big House after taking a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from a green haired nymph.
Just before Annabeth had her first bite out of her sandwich, Grover stopped at the Athena table and asked, "If you still want to try to reach Percy, we can test out the empathy link in the Big House after lunch. Chiron gave me permission."
Annabeth visibly brightened up. "Absolutely. Can Thalia come, too? She wanted to try to get word out to Artemis about Apollo's book and the Argo II."
"Sure," Grover said. "Meet me and Jason, Piper, and Leo at the big house at one thirty. I asked them to come too. I think they should be there for this-if I can even get connected with Percy, that is considering how well Hera suppressed it."
She nodded in agreement. "Okay, Grover, that sounds like a good idea. Thanks."
"No problem. See you then," he said and when he saw Juniper his eyes lit up and he went to go join her.
A/N-Okay. I'm not going to do a chapter working on the empathy link. There are others out there focusing on that, and I just wanna focus on the campers reading Percy's story so we can fit it all in the timespan that follows with the books. So, I'll just pick up at the scene at the campfire and show their reactions to their success. Welcome. ;) See you later! Thanks for all the views and favorites!