Rachel's POV

"I'll read," I called out. Katie smiled at me and handed off the book. Now, let me get this straight, even though I'm oracle I can't predict the end of a book or read your palms and that junk. Just putting that out there. I straighten my shirt, this time it was from an art festival in Manhattan my dad took me too. I clear my throat and begin, "Chapter 7, My Dinner Goes Up in Smoke,"

"Word of the bathroom incident spread immediately." "Of course it did, you made a daughter of Ares gurgle toilet water!" Nico exclaimed. Clarisse glared, it would have burned holes in any normal person but Nico just shrugged it off.

"Wherever I went, campers pointed at me and murmured something about toilet water. Or maybe they were just staring at Annabeth, who was still pretty much dripping wet." "It was a mixture between the two," Travis admitted.

"She showed me a few more places: the metal shop (where kids were forging their own swords)," Hephaestus smiled a sideways smile, (or maybe it was straight and just on his face looked kinda crooked) and said gruffly," It's good to make your own sword."

"The arts-and-crafts room (where satyrs were sandblasting a giant marble statue of a goatman)," "Okay, I'm guilty of spending all my time there, when I'm not in my cave," I chuckled blushing. Apollo raised an eyebrow, "YTour cave?" I nodded.

"And the climbing wall, which actually consisted of two facing walls that shook violently, dropped boulders, sprayed lava, and clashed together if you didn't get to the top fast enough." "Quite painful, but it gets your butt moving up that rock wall," Piper grumbled, "unless you are like Jason who simply flys up!" She playful glared at her boyfriend. Thalia feigned shook," You little cheater!" She ruffled her brother's hair. Jason blushed, grinning.

"Finally we returned to the canoeing lake, where the trail led back to the cabins." "Wanted to get away from Annabeth again, did you?" Malcolm asked. His sister defended her boyfriend, "I smelled like well plumbing."

""I've got training to do," Annabeth said flatly. "Dinner's at seven-thirty. Just follow your cabin to the mess hall."

"Annabeth, I'm sorry about the toilets."" "At least he apologizes," Athena decided.

"It wasn't his fault," Poseidon shoot back. His eyes flashed a dangerous whirlwind sea of green. Like Percy's. Too much like Percy's in fact.


"It wasn't my fault." "Like father, like son," Apollo said deviously, his dangerously bright smile flashing, "I think I like your son uncle."

"She looked at me skeptically, and I realized it was my fault. I'd made water shoot out of the bathroom fixtures. I didn't understand how. But the toilets had responded to me. I had become one with the plumbing." "That is undeniably percy like," Thalia snorted, "Only he would become one with the plumbing." Her crown glowed slightly tilted on her head just so. A bit rebellious. It suited Thalia perfectly.

""You need to talk to the Oracle," Annabeth said." Conner frowned, "Um, I thought you weren't there yet Rachel."


"Not who. What." "Oh yeh, that'll clear things up for him," Piper said sarcastically.

"The Oracle. I'll ask Chiron."" Chiron studied Annabeth with interest, "You never did ask me, though I would, of course, said no, but still."

"That's exactly why I didn't ask," Annabeth admitted. "I really wanted a quest."

"I stared into the lake, wishing somebody would give me a straight answer for once." "We all wish that," the Roman dude, Frank complained.

"I wasn't expecting anybody to be looking back at me from the bottom, so my heart skipped a beat when I noticed two teenage girls sitting cross-legged at the base of the pier, about twenty feet below." Hazel frowned lightly, "I've never seen a naiad before."

"They wore blue jeans and shimmering green T-shirts, and their brown hair floated loose around their shoulders as minnows darted in and out. They smiled and waved as if I were a long-lost friend." "To Percy, they are long lost friends," Poseidon explained, "Being my only demigod son, he gets quite a lot of attention in the Atlantis Times. You know, the newspaper? Never mind."

"I didn't know what else to do. I waved back." "He's too friendly," Hera muttered, "It will come back and bite him." I sent Annabeth a glance to make sure she wasn't going to jump the goddess before I flipped the page.

""Don't encourage them," Annabeth warned. "Naiads are terrible flirts."" "Someone's jealous," Leo teased. Annabeth rolled her eyes at him but didn't deny it.

""Naiads," I repeated, feeling completely overwhelmed. "That's it. I want to go home now." Annabeth frowned. "Don't you get it, Percy? You are home. This is the only safe place on earth for kids like us."

"You mean, mentally disturbed kids?"" "Was that an insult to like all of us," Travis said, "Or was it just a random comment." He sent a sideways glance at Katie who I could tell was purposely ignoring him.

""I mean not human. Not totally human, anyway. Half-human."

"Half-human and half-what?"" Ares laughed cruelly, "That punk don't even know yet. What a weakling."

""I think you know."" "Playing with his mind, are you Annabeth," Malcolm grinned.

I didn't want to admit it, but I was afraid I did. I felt a tingling in my limbs, a sensation I sometimes felt when my mom talked about my dad." Aphrodite let out a sigh, "That's too sweet."

""God," I said. "Half-god."

Annabeth nodded. "Your father isn't dead, Percy. He's one of the Olympians."" "Mind blow," Nico whispered. His voice sounded slightly aggravated. His father was a god but not an Olympian, I realized.

""That's ... crazy."" "It is," Hermes agreed.

""Is it? What's the most common thing gods did in the old stories? They ran around falling in love with humans and having kids with them. Do you think they've changed their habits in the last few millennia?"" "Well, when you put it that way,' Hestia mumbled, "Maybe they should." She sent a meaning full glance at her three brothers, probably meaning them and their fighting, they ignored her.

""But those are just—" I almost said myths again. Then I remembered Chiron's warning that in two thousand years, I might be considered a myth." "I didn't mean to scare him like that," Chiron frowned, his face showed worry and sorrow. He was suffering from the unknowingness of Percy like the rest of us.

""But if all the kids here are half-gods—"" "Demigods, or half-bloods," Athena snapped. "If he must talk then he should at least use words that exist."

""Demigods," Annabeth said. "That's the official term. Or half-bloods."" Athena nodded at her daughter.

""Then who's your dad?"" "She's not going to like that," Grover muttered.

"Her hands tightened around the pier railing. I got the feeling I'd just trespassed on a sensitive subject." "I still don't get how you and your Dad didn't get along for so long. I just mean, he seemed totally cool the time I saw him," Thalia said. Annabeth ignored her friend.

""My dad is a professor at West Point," she said. "I haven't seen him since I was very small. He teaches American history."

"He's human."" "No duh," Dionysus said, "If she had two godly parents then, she well, she…"

""What? You assume it has to be a male god who finds a human female attractive? How sexist is that?"" "Burn," Chris ginned and bumped Clarisse on the shoulder, trying to get her to smile.

""Who's your mom, then?"

"Cabin six."" "I doubt he's going to know what that means," Katie suggested, "I don't even think he knows who all the gods are."


Annabeth straightened. "Athena. Goddess of wisdom and battle." Okay, I thought. Why not?" Malcolm narrowed his eyes, "Was that an insult?" Since he was glaring at the book, which was in my hands, he was kinda glaring at me, so I was getting slightly uncomfortable. "No I don't think so," I muttered. He smiled at me and looked away. Thank gods. He has a worse glare than Annabeth.

""And my dad?"" "What about undetermined does he not get," Demeter asked, shaking her head lightly.

""Undetermined," Annabeth said, "like I told you before. Nobody knows."" "Well, I know," Poseidon corrected.

""Except my mother. She knew."" "And Sally," Poseidon added.

"Maybe not, Percy. Gods don't always reveal their identities."

"My dad would have. He loved her."" Poseidon looked off in the distance wistfully, "I did love her. I truly did." Aphrodite squealed a bit.

"Annabeth gave me a cautious look. She didn't want to burst my bubble. "Maybe you're right. Maybe he'll send a sign. That's the only way to know for sure: your father has to send you a sign claiming you as his son. Sometimes it happens." "Only sometimes," Artemis repeated, her face was dangerous, "You go off, break your vows, have children and then you don't even have the decency to claim them!" She was furious. I had to agree with her.

""You mean sometimes it doesn't?"" "Most of the time," Hestia corrected.

"Annabeth ran her palm along the rail. "The gods are busy. They have a lot of kids and they don't always ... Well, sometimes they don't care about us, Percy." "We care about you," Apollo reassured the kids, "its just…" "They ignore us." I thought about some of the kids I'd seen in the Hermes cabin, teenagers who looked sullen and depressed, as if they were waiting for a call that would never come." A couple of the gods looked away, "I'll look through the Hermes cabin as soon as we are done reading and do what I need to do," Hephaestus grimaced, "We all should."

"I'd known kids like that at Yancy Academy, shuffled off to boarding school by rich parents who didn't have the time to deal with them. But gods should behave better." There was silence as some of the braver demigods glared at the immensely powerful immortal beings.

""So I'm stuck here," I said. "That's it? For the rest of my life?"" "If you live that long," Nico said helpfully.

""It depends," Annabeth said. "Some campers only stay the summer. If you're a child of Aphrodite or Demeter, you're probably not a real powerful force." Piper and Katie looked offended and their mothers frowned down on the daughter of Athena. "I'm sorry," Annabeth managed feebly, "But it's true."

"The monsters might ignore you, so you can get by with a few months of summer training and live in the mortal world the rest of the year." "That's a good thing," Travis said. "Yeh," Conner agreed, "I would hate to be hunted down all my life."

"But for some of us, it's too dangerous to leave. We're year-rounders. In the mortal world, we attract monsters. They sense us." "That just makes it sound totally creepy," Apollo decided.

"They come to challenge us. Most of the time, they'll ignore us until we're old enough to cause trouble—about ten or eleven years old," "Though I am sure the son of Poseidon started causing trouble as soon as he was born," Athena said, gray eyes glaring in the direction of the sea god.

"but after that, most demigods either make their way here, or they get killed off." Hazel frowned and said in a quiet voice, "That's so sad."

Hestia smiled at the daughter of Pluto, "We try and prevent it."

"A few manage to survive in the outside world and become famous. Believe me, if I told you the names, you'd know them. Some don't even realize they're demigods. But very, very few are like that." "Well of course some demigods become famous," Leo exclaimed, "I am a demigod after all and am by far the most famous person in this room. Except the gods of course. And Percy. I mean he has an entire series written after him. But still. Mr. Hot Famous over here. The ladies man."

Artemis scowled, "Boys."

"So monsters can't get in here?"" "And thank gods to that," Katie said. "You're welcome," Hermes replied.

"Annabeth shook her head. "Not unless they're intentionally stocked in the woods or specially summoned by somebody on the inside."

"Why would anybody want to summon a monster?"" Grover scowled and muttered a curse.

"Practice fights. Practical jokes."

"Practical jokes?"" "Don't get any ideas Leo," Piper warned, "Or I will personally destroy your toolbelt."

""The point is, the borders are sealed to keep mortals and monsters out. From the outside, mortals look into the valley and see nothing unusual, just a strawberry farm."" "Unless you're a clear sighted mortal," I corrected.

""So ... you're a year-rounder?"

Annabeth nodded. From under the collar of her T-shirt she pulled a leather necklace with five clay beads of different colors. It was just like Luke's, except Annabeth's also had a big gold ring strung on it, like a college ring." Athena glanced down at her daughter, "Is that…" Annabeth nodded.

""I've been here since I was seven," she said. "Every August, on the last day of summer session, you get a bead for surviving another year." "Annabeth, I am beginning to think you are suicidal. Can you talk about anything else besides death?" Thalia asked. Annabeth blushed, "I might have been a bit excited back then."

"I've been here longer than most of the counselors, and they're all in college."" "You could be in college," Tyson smiled slyly.

""Why did you come so young?"

She twisted the ring on her necklace. "None of your business."" "You can't forget to be polite, Annabeth," Chiron corrected.

""Oh." I stood there for a minute in uncomfortable silence. "So ... I could just walk out of here right now if I wanted to?"" "That would have been too easy for us to get rid of you," Clarisse complained.

""It would be suicide, but you could, with Mr. D's or Chiron's permission." "Which I would more than willing to give you. It's just one less brat to take care of," Dionysus said eagerly.

"But they wouldn't give permission until the end of the summer session unless ..."" "Oh, no. The q word." Grover had paled. "Why did you ever give him the idea Annabeth."


"You were granted a quest. But that hardly ever happens. The last time ..."" Ares leaned forward in his seat.

"Her voice trailed off. I could tell from her tone that the last time hadn't gone well." "Was it bloody?" Ares inquired. Everyone ignored him.

""Back in the sick room," I said, "When you were feeding me that stuff—"

"Ambrosia."" "I'm hungry," Apollo complained. "Be quiet," Artemis snapped back.

""Yeah. You asked me something about the summer solstice."

Annabeth's shoulders tensed. "So you do know something?"" "Isn't someone a little hungry for knowledge." Malcolm teased his sister.

""Well... no. Back at my old school, I overheard Grover and Chiron talking about it. Grover mentioned the summer solstice. He said something like we didn't have much time, because of the deadline. What did that mean?"" Hera frowned, "What does all that mean?"

"That's probably why we are reading the book mother," Hephaestus grumbled.

"She clenched her fists. "I wish I knew." "I wonder how many times I have heard you say that…." Piper questioned. "A lot," everyone answered.

"Chiron and the satyrs, they know, but they won't tell me." "The horrors," Leo gasped dramatically.

"Something is wrong in Olympus, something pretty major. Last time I was there, everything seemed so normal."" Hermes frowned, "We are never normal."

""You've been to Olympus?"" "You have?" Frank looked astonished.

""Some of us year-rounders—Luke and Clarisse and I and a few others—we took a field trip during winter solstice. That's when the gods have their big annual council."" Hades grumbled, "I got more than I bargained for coming to that meeting this year. The honor of reading 10 whole books with some halfbloods. Wonderful."

""But... how did you get there?"

"The Long Island Railroad, of course." "I don't think that's what he meant, darling," Aphrodite helped.

"You get off at Penn Station. Empire State Building, special elevator to the six hundredth floor." She looked at me like she was sure I must know this already. "You are a New Yorker, right?"" "That could be an insult, you know," Chris said. "Percy is super proud he's from New York."

""Oh, sure." As far as I knew, there were only a hundred and two floors in the Empire State Building," "He knew something for once!" Tracis cheered.

"but I decided not to point that out." "Smart move," Athena agreed, "If you want to keep any of you limbs," Poseidon added.

""Right after we visited," Annabeth continued, "the weather got weird, as if the gods had started fighting." "No surprise there," Demeter complained, "Maybe winter was actually created from your constant bickering. If you all ate more ceral, this wouldn't be this bad!"

"A couple of times since, I've overheard satyrs talking. The best I can figure out is that something important was stolen." "What?" Zeus asked, his eyes narrowing in on the group of demigods.

"And if it isn't returned by summer solstice, there's going to be trouble." "Great, a deadline," Poseidon grumbled. "We all just love those."

"When you came, I was hoping ... I mean— Athena can get along with just about anybody," Athena sat a bit straighter glaring at Ares and Posiedon, "Except for those two."

"except for Ares. And of course she's got the rivalry with Poseidon." "Oh the irony," Katie giggle quietly.

"But, I mean, aside from that, I thought we could work together. I thought you might know something." I shook my head. I wished I could help her," "You can't deny he's sweet," I smiled thinking about my friend. I felt so helpless sometimes, not being able to see what was most important.

"but I felt too hungry and tired and mentally overloaded to ask any more questions." "Poor boy," Hera muttered under her breath. I suppose she can still be nice. She is the goddess of marriage.

""I've got to get a quest," Annabeth muttered to herself. "I'm not too young." Chiron shook his head lightly, "Dear, I was just trying to protect you. Annabeth you are too stubborn."

"If they would just tell me the problem ..."" The daughter of Athena laughed bitterly, "Then I would wish I didn't know."

"I could smell barbecue smoke coming from somewhere nearby. Annabeth must've heard my stomach growl." "I think we all did," Clarisse smirked.

"She told me to go on, she'd catch me later. I left her on the pier, tracing her finger across the rail as if drawing a battle plan." "She probably was," Tyson said.

"Back at cabin eleven, everybody was talking and horsing around, waiting for dinner. For the first time, I noticed that a lot of the campers had similar features: sharp noses, upturned eyebrows, mischievous smiles." Hermes grinned, "My kids."

"They were the kind of kids that teachers would peg as troublemakers." "Definitely my kids."

"Thankfully, nobody paid much attention to me as I walked over to my spot on the floor and plopped down with my minotaur horn." "You know how hilarious it would have been if he sat on it?" Apollo was amusing himself. Artemis shook her head in disgust.

"The counselor, Luke, came over. He had the Hermes family resemblance, too. It was marred by that scar on his right cheek, but his smile was intact." Thalia's eyebrows scrunched up, "How did he get that scar?" "I'm sure it will explain," Annabeth said with a frown.

""Found you a sleeping bag," he said. "And here, I stole you some toiletries from the camp store."" Hazel's face pinched together in confusion, "Did he really steal, of is that just some 21st century thing?"

"I couldn't tell if he was kidding about the stealing part." Conner smiled devilishly, "Probably wasn't. He could crack locks by just touching them."

"But still," Hazel said.

"I said, "Thanks."" "Manners are important," Hera said.

"No prob." Luke sat next to me, pushed his back against the wall. "Tough first day?"" "Isn't everyone's first day tough," Frank muttered probably thinking back to his first day at the Roman camp.

"I don't belong here," I said. "I don't even believe in gods."" "Better start soon," I interrupted myself.

"Yeah," he said. "That's how we all started. Once you start believing in them? It doesn't get any easier."" Zeus glared at the book, "That could be considered an insult."

"The bitterness in his voice surprised me, because Luke seemed like a pretty easygoing guy." "Looks can be deceiving," Thalia said, her eyes stone cold.

"He looked like he could handle just about anything." "I am proud of him," Hermes decided.

""So your dad is Hermes?" I asked.

He pulled a switchblade out of his back pocket, and for a second I thought he was going to gut me," "That would have been too easy," Clarrise complained, "Or else I would have done it a long time ago."

"but he just scraped the mud off the sole of his sandal. "Yeah. Hermes."" Malcolm shrugged teasingly, "Not as great as Athena, but it's up there."

""The wing-footed messenger guy."" Apollo laughed out loud, "Is that really the first thing that comes to mind when a mortal thinks of you Hermes?"

""That's him. Messengers. Medicine. Travelers, merchants, thieves. Anybody who uses the roads. That's why you're here, enjoying cabin eleven's hospitality. Hermes isn't picky about who he sponsors."" "We welcome anyone, anytime, except when I'm sleeping. That's a bad time," Chris spoke for his cabin.

I figured Luke didn't mean to call me a nobody. He just had a lot on his mind. "Or did he," Travis questioned.

"You ever meet your dad?" I asked.

"Once."" "That can't be good," Tyson muttered, his one eye full of concern.

"I waited, thinking that if he wanted to tell me, he'd tell me. Apparently, he didn't. I wondered if the story had anything to do with how he got his scar." Chiron said wistfully, "It does. I regret to this day allowing that quest."

"Luke looked up and managed a smile. "Don't worry about it, Percy. The campers here, they're mostly good people." "That's reassuring," Leo teased.

"After all, we're extended family, right? We take care of each other."" "Yeh, because that's exactly what he did." Annabeth growled, her eyes stormier than ever before.

"He seemed to understand how lost I felt, and I was grateful for that, because an older guy like him—even if he was a counselor—should've steered clear of an uncool middle-schooler like me." "Percy really should stop feeling so bad for himself," Katie laughed, "It's amazing how much he grew up." Most of the other demigods who knew him, nodded in agreement.

"But Luke had welcomed me into the cabin. He'd even stolen me some toiletries, which was the nicest thing anybody had done for me all day." "That is a depressing thought," Grover muttered.

"I decided to ask him my last big question, the one that had been bothering me all afternoon." "Let me guess," Jason rolled his eyes, "is Annabeth available?"

""Clarisse, from Ares," "Uhh," Clarrise blinked in clear confusion.

"Was joking about me being 'Big Three' material. Then Annabeth ... twice, she said I might be 'the one.' She said I should talk to the Oracle." Apollo placed his thought, "By the one, does she mean, the one. From the great prophecy?" I brushed some red hair out of my face and nodded.

"What was that all about?" Luke folded his knife. "I hate prophecies."

"What do you mean?"" "That is the greatest question," Zeus said.

"His face twitched around the scar. "Let's just say I messed things up for everybody else." Nico snorted, "That's lovely."

"The last two years, ever since my trip to the Garden of the Hesperides went sour," Demeter shook her head, "The quest wasn't meant for him, I suppose."

"Chiron hasn't allowed any more quests. Annabeth's been dying to get out into the world." "Of course you were," Malcolm said sympathetically, "Who wasn't?"

"Anyone who didn't want to get eaten alive by monsters," Travis responded.

"She pestered Chiron so much he finally told her he already knew her fate. He'd had a prophecy from the Oracle. He wouldn't tell her the whole thing, but he said Annabeth wasn't destined to go on a quest yet. She had to wait until... somebody special came to the camp."" Athena narrowed her eyes, "Well, your still alive," she said gesturing to Annabeth, "SO I don't have to assume the worst."

""Somebody special?"" "Percy truly is special," Thalia admitted, "If that's a good thing I'm not sure."

""Don't worry about it, kid," Luke said. "Annabeth wants to think every new camper who comes through here is the omen she's been waiting for. Now, come on, it's dinnertime."" Apollo's stomach growled.

"The moment he said it, a horn blew in the distance. Somehow, I knew it was a conch shell, even though I'd never heard one before." Poseidon smiled, "Every one of my children knows the basics."

"Luke yelled, "Eleven, fall in!"" "Fall," Ella burst out, "Fall, the legion shall fall-" "Ella, that's enough," Hazel cut her off.

"The whole cabin, about twenty of us, filed into the commons yard. We lined up in order of seniority, so of course I was dead last." "Ah, you get used to it Perce," Nico reassured the nonpresent son of Poseidon.

"Campers came from the other cabins, too, except for the three empty cabins at the end, and cabin eight, which had looked normal in the daytime, but was now starting to glow silver as the sun went down." Artemis straightened and smiled at her lieutenant.

"We marched up the hill to the mess hall pavilion. Satyrs joined us from the meadow. Naiads emerged from the canoeing lake. A few other girls came out of the woods— and when I say out of the woods, I mean straight out of the woods." "Nymphs," Piper clarified.

"I saw one girl, about nine or ten years old, melt from the side of a maple tree and come skipping up the hill." Grover grinned, "I love it when they do that!"

"In all, there were maybe a hundred campers, a few dozen satyrs, and a dozen assorted wood nymphs and naiads." "A nice variety," Aphrodite decided.

"At the pavilion, torches blazed around the marble columns. A central fire burned in a bronze brazier the size of a bathtub. Each cabin had its own table, covered in white cloth trimmed in purple. Four of the tables were empty, but cabin eleven's was way overcrowded." "That seems a bit, uneven," Frank said.

I had to squeeze on to the edge of a bench with half my butt hanging off." "We did that on purpose, make him have less room you know?" The Stolls grinned.

"I saw Grover sitting at table twelve with Mr. D, a few satyrs, and a couple of plump blond boys who looked just like Mr. D. Chiron stood to one side, the picnic table being way too small for a centaur." "I don't mind," Chiron reassured the demigods.

"Annabeth sat at table six with a bunch of serious-looking athletic kids, all with her gray eyes and honey-blond hair." "That describes us pretty well," Malcolm admitted.

"Clarisse sat behind me at Ares's table. She'd apparently gotten over being hosed down, because she was laughing and belching right alongside her friends." Clarrise rolled her eyes, "His stupid act didn't bother me that much."

"Finally, Chiron pounded his hoof against the marble floor of the pavilion, and everybody fell silent. He raised a glass. "To the gods!"

Everybody else raised their glasses. "To the gods!"" "Why thank you," Hermes bowed.

"Wood nymphs came forward with platters of food: grapes, apples, strawberries, cheese, fresh bread, and yes, barbecue!" "Sounds delicious," Hestia praised.

"My glass was empty, but Luke said, "Speak to it. Whatever you want— nonalcoholic, of course."" :Of course," Dionysus complained.

"I said, "Cherry Coke."

The glass filled with sparkling caramel liquid." "Wait for it…" I held out the suspense.

I had an idea. " Blue Cherry Coke."" "Voila!"

"The soda turned a violent shade of cobalt." "I'm surprised he even knew that was a color," Annabeth said chuckling slightly.

"I took a cautious sip. Perfect." "Of course," NIco teased, "the world is perfect when your coke is blue."

"I drank a toast to my mother." "Have you ever done that," Hera asked her two sons, who both pretended to ignore her.

"She's not gone, I told myself. Not permanently, anyway. She's in the Underworld. And if that's a real place, then someday..." "Knock that idea out of your head kid," Hades smirked, "I have total control over those souls."

""Here you go, Percy," Luke said, handing me a platter of smoked brisket. I loaded my plate and was about to take a big bite when I noticed everybody getting up, carrying their plates toward the fire in the center of the pavilion. I wondered if they were going for dessert or something." "I wish I could eat that fast," Apollo mumbled. "And I'm still hungry."

""Come on," Luke told me.

As I got closer, I saw that everyone was taking a portion of their meal and dropping it into the fire, the ripest strawberry, the juiciest slice of beef, the warmest, most buttery roll." "I think I'm going to die from starvation."

"Luke murmured in my ear, "Burnt offerings for the gods. They like the smell."" 'We do," Ares admitted.

""You're kidding."" "Why would Ares kid," Aphrodite question, her face beautiful of course, scrutinizing whoever insulted her 3,000 year long affair.

"His look warned me not to take this lightly, but I couldn't help wondering why an immortal, all-powerful being would like the smell of burning food." "Because it smells amazing!" Poseidon said.

"Luke approached the fire, bowed his head, and tossed in a cluster of fat red grapes. "Hermes." I was next.

I wished I knew what god's name to say." I paused for a second trying to send a message, like, 'Gods come on, claim your kids!'

"Finally, I made a silent plea. Whoever you are, tell me. Please.

I scraped a big slice of brisket into the flames." The sea god smiled lightly, "I love brisket."

"When I caught a whiff of the smoke, I didn't gag." "Of course not," Demeter rolled her eyes.

"It smelled nothing like burning food. It smelled of hot chocolate and fresh-baked brownies, hamburgers on the grill and wildflowers, and a hundred other good things that shouldn't have gone well together, but did." "That is very well worded," Athena praised Percy.

"I could almost believe the gods could live off that smoke." "We could, but we choose not too," Apollo explained.

"When everybody had returned to their seats and finished eating their meals, Chiron pounded his hoof again for our attention." "It must be handy to be able to do that," Chris said enviously, "I want hooves."

Mr. D got up with a huge sigh. "Yes, I suppose I'd better say hello to all you brats." "Be polite," Zeus chastised.

"Well, hello. Our activities director, Chiron, says the next capture the flag is Friday. Cabin five presently holds the laurels."" "Of course," Athena complained. Ares cheered.

"A bunch of ugly cheering rose from the Ares table." "Yeh well the cheering from table 3 is even better, it doesn't even exist!" Clarisse snapped back.

""Personally," Mr. D continued, "I couldn't care less, but congratulations. Also, I should tell you that we have a new camper today. Peter Johnson."" "Dionysus!" Zeus roared. "Yes Zayne?" Dionysus replied innocently.

"Chiron murmured something.

"Er, Percy Jackson," Mr. D corrected. "That's right. Hurrah, and all that. Now run along to your silly campfire. Go on."" "Oh gods, your hopeless," Hera decided.

"Everybody cheered. We all headed down toward the amphitheater, where Apollo's cabin led a sing-along." "Woohoo!" Apollo cheered. "Let's sing!" No one obeyed.

"We sang camp songs about the gods and ate s'mores and joked around, and the funny thing was, I didn't feel that anyone was staring at me anymore. I felt that I was home." "So Annabeth was right, Camp Half Blood is your home," Katie smiled.

"Later in the evening, when the sparks from the campfire were curling into a starry sky, the conch horn blew again, and we all filed back to our cabins. I didn't realize how exhausted I was until I collapsed on my borrowed sleeping bag." "That was probably the busiest day in his life," Artemis said, "He is allowed to be tired."

"My fingers curled around the Minotaur's horn." "So instead of sleeping with a teddy bear he sleeps with a Minotaur horn."

"I thought about my mom, but I had good thoughts: her smile, the bedtime stories she would read me when I was a kid, the way she would tell me not to let the bedbugs bite." "Poor boy, he's only 12," Aphrodite smiled.

"When I closed my eyes, I fell asleep instantly.

That was my first day at Camp Half-Blood." "Hope you loved it," Travis winked.

"I wish I'd known how briefly I would get to enjoy my new home."

"And on that depressing note, the chapter's over. Does anyone have a question?" I asked, my eyes scanning the group of gods, demigods, Pegasus, and other. Wait Pegasus. It's black!

"Um, Blackjack," I called out uncertainly. I was responded with a neigh.

"Well, come join us then."

"I have one question, other than the black horse, Is Sally really dead?" Apollo asked, "And can I have food?"

"No, and no. Who wants to read next?"

So…. Here you go guys! Thank you all sooo much for all the reviews! And guess what! I got my own laptop so for you all that means more updates! I'm more than half way done with the next chapter so it won't be long. REVIEW!