When you were younger, you resigned yourself to having no special talents or qualities. You were a scrawny little thing with trembling goat legs and ridiculous little devil's horns. You looked so strange and scared even for a satyr that the little woodland creatures picked on you, and really, what sort of respectable follower of Pan would allow himself to be bullied by a bunny?
All of the dryads and naiads found that hazing you was an amusing way to pass time. The dryads would giggle and throw berries, twigs, or pinecones at you, and some would snag burrs on your fur. The water nymphs were the worst. Being the target of dryads you could handle. The worst a tree nymph could do was through a really big pinecone at you.
Their watery counterparts took bullying to a different level for you. The naiads knew how hard it was to swim with hooves, and they thought it was absolutely hilarious to see you struggle for breath and kick helplessly. As soon as you had completely exhausted yourself, the less malevolent naiads would drag you back onto dry land. You could never stop yourself from crying though, and that only encouraged them.
When Chiron found out about your little swimming lessons, he was furious with the naiads. You don't know exactly what he said to them because you were a little busy with trying to breathe, but whatever he told them, it was scary. They never bothered you again. But you could never get over your fear of water.
The campers weren't very nice to you either. Sure, they wouldn't go so far as to throw anything at you or almost drown you, but you could tell they didn't really like you. They thought you were small, annoying, and stupid. No one ever said it to your face, but you didn't need them to. Because despite your lack of magical talent and usefulness, you were still technically a satyr and therefore, could read emotions easily.
Campers disliked you for reasons you couldn't even help.
You wished you could be more like Gleeson. Granted he had few violent tendencies and yelled more than necessary, but he was what a good satyr should be like. Gleeson Hedge was big and strong and a really, really good protector.
But you were just Grover Underwood. The only beneficial thing you did was fetch Diet Coke for the camp's resident wine god. But even that was unnecessary, Mr. D could just snap his fingers and a nice, cold can of soda would appear. And that was much better than the fizzy, lukewarm drink you'd offer.
You supposed he wanted to give you the task as a pity job or because he liked to pick on you too. Either way, there really wasn't much of a difference.
You were tired of being picked on and disliked and pitied. You wanted to be the greatest satyr ever, but you weren't sure if anything could make you great. Much less the greatest.
There was only one thing big enough that could maybe make a pitiful creature like you a hero of the wild. And that was finding the lost god.
You weren't as naïve as all the other satyrs who listened to inspirational speeches and decided individually that they would be the one to find Pan. That they were the one destined for greatness. No, you knew that you would most likely die a horrible and humiliating death in the process, and you probably wouldn't even come close to finding him. But all of your family were searchers, the very least you could do was continue the family tradition and give it your best effort to find the god of the wild.
One of these days, you'd walk passed the camp's border patrol with a searcher's license, but for now you'd have to make do with a flimsy permission slip to seek out half-bloods rather than gods. You foolishly thought it'd be simple.
You followed your instincts and your nose. You went through old, rundown houses, junk yards, the woods, and were chased by Cyclopes until, finally, you found your carrot. Three demigods of different celestial descent staying at a house in Connecticut.
You had thought you'd find a child of Demeter or Aphrodite, someone monsters didn't care to hunt.
You were absolutely horrified when you found a daughter of Zeus with a scent to strong monsters were sure to smell her from a mile away. And, just your luck, her leg was wounded already.
You knew about the Great Prophecy and what a daughter of Zeus could mean, so you led them back to Camp Half-Blood. Or at least you tried.
If a satyr were to make one wrong turn, the odds of getting his demigod to Camp Half-Blood were still in his favor. You took three, and you already had horrible luck.
Thalia, who was probably the most important demigod of this generation and (most likely) the child of the prophecy, died under your protection. Sure, she turned into an impressive tree which kept the camp safe but that didn't mean you didn't utterly fail. You were too ashamed to show your face that you hid in a cave for days.
They didn't want to give you a second chance. Hades, you knew you didn't deserve one, but Chiron insisted that they give you another shot. You don't know why he ever bothered, you'd just get your half-blood killed in some painful way like Thalia was. And really, you're just afraid of letting everyone down again. And like always.
You want to decline when the Council signs yet another permission slip. But Chiron is standing there with his warm, brown eyes, smiling encouragingly at you, and you know your only option is to accept.
You mutely pack your reed pipes, empty soda cans, and spare pair of fake feet and pray to any god who'll bother to listen to you for help and guidance. But you think that they're all too busy to grant silly little prayers like safe passage for their children anyways.
Chiron sees you off on Half-Blood Hill and looks you in the eye. "If you ever need my help, child, don't be afraid to Iris-message me."
Hearing him say that sounds funny. It's like a parent telling his son to Facebook him if he gets lonely. Or maybe a grandma asking her grandkids to shoot her a text sometime, but you don't mind. He only wants to help you, to give you a chance to not completely blow your assignment this time. You wonder if it's because he actually cares about you, or he already regrets sticking his neck out for you and can't afford another failure.
You taste bile as you walk away.
You fumble with your drachma stutter the words "O Iris, goddess of the Rainbow, please accept my offering. Show me Chiron at Camp Half-Blood...please?"
Your little, DIY rainbow ripples and you're suddenly face to face with the centaur. He sips his coffee and raises an eyebrow at you. "Yes, my boy?"
You run a hand through your curly hair. "I've found s-someone, sir," you say uncomfortably.
The trainer of heroes smiles warmly at you. "Excellent work, Grover. Now, first thing's first, you must contact the half-blood's parent and discover if they know the truth about the gods or not. If they do, then - "
As good as it feels to be praised by Chiron, that isn't why you called. "He smells, sir," you blurt.
"Strange, sir," you add eagerly. You blush when the old centaur stares at you blankly, trying to understand what the Hades you're trying to tell him. You try again. "His scent is different for a demigod."
His eyes widen in understanding and he clasps his hands together. This changes everything. "Is he alone?"
"This one is." Thank the gods.
"Has he noticed anything strange? Has he seen through the Mist? Any dreams?"
"Not as far as I can tell," you admit.
"How old? Seven? Eight?"
Your fake feet shuffle a little. "Twelve, sir." And you pray he believes you despite how unlikely it is that a child of one of the Big Three would still be alive and unaware of anything strange at the age of twelve.
Chiron's lips press into a thin line. "You said his scent was strange. But is it strong for a demigod?"
Your stomach drops and your shoulders are already drooping with defeat. "No, sir," you say quietly.
Brown eyes close and you can tell that Chiron is doing his best to not look exasperated. You swallow to try to dislodge the lump in your throat. "My boy - "
"I know he's not a normal demigod," you snap, then flush at your own impertinence. You throw it all to Tartarus and continue anyways. "His scent's being smothered...somehow. But his aura's powerful. You have to believe me, sir. I wouldn't ask you for help if I wasn't a hundred percent sure that he was something special."
You both stare at each other until his eyes soften and he shakes his head. "In all my years...Grover Underwood, you are something."
You're not sure what he means by that, but Chiron shows up at Yancy Academy next morning.
He thinks that Percy Jackson smells funny too.
You failed, of course. You like to think that it wasn't completely your fault, that if your half-blood had waited for you like he'd promised, you would have made it to camp without a hitch. But you never should have left him in the first place so, really, the blame goes full circle and always lands on you.
Yes, your half-blood made it to camp, but he lost his mother in the process. And he had to face the Minotaur unaided and untrained. Percy still had yet to wake up.
No wonder the council said your assignment was unsuccessful.
You sit in the corner and quietly watch one of your half-bloods, Annabeth, feed your newest one. It's not normal for satyrs to bond with campers, but you wonder when she became so mature and fierce and smart (not that she wasn't before). Annabeth was probably her mother's crown jewel. You give yourself a little pat on the back for finding her at least.
When she notices you (practically instantly), the corners of her lips lift up in a reassuring smile. "You did good, Grover. Don't beat yourself up over it." You wonder if she can read emotions too.
You feel queasy when Percy is claimed. Not that it's a bad thing, you're really happy for him. It means that you were able to find a demigod that could, quite possibly, be the half-blood of the prophecy. But you were hoping that he would be another child of Zeus, not Poseidon.
Partially because of your past experience with water, but mostly because of the small fact that the lord of the sky is going to assume that Percy's the thief. You feel like stomping around, waving your reed pipes in the air, and telling Zeus that he's a crazy idiot for ever thinking that. But you don't.
Partially because you were the one that got his daughter killed in the first place, but mostly because the god generally doesn't like to be called idiotic or crazy. Especially not by a goat.
You feel very queasy when Percy is forced into a quest. Not that you doubt his skills, no. He proved he was a natural when he killed the Fury, but you can't help but be a little worried because he's just so new.
You almost collapse when Annabeth volunteers to accompany him. And you think, no, not my half-bloods. Because, as good as Percy is with a sword and as clever and experienced Annabeth is, this quest is doomed to fail.
You feel like fainting when he asks you to be the third member of his party. You want to say no, that quests aren't for you and basket weaving is, but you steel yourself. You look at your half-bloods, old and new, and accept. You protected them then, you'll protect them again. Who says that a satyr's job as a protector ends once their half-bloods set foot into camp?
Miraculously, you return. All of you. Annabeth, check. Percy, check. And you, check. You find yourself doing the head count over and over again even though they're obviously fine if not for being a little exhausted.
Your hands are shaking when your given your license. At last. Seeking out half-bloods is done, you've succeeded (surprisingly) at tracking them down and following your instincts. The training wheels are off, now it's time for the real search to begin. The search for Pan, the god of the wild.
After thanking the council over and over again, you run to tell Percy and Annabeth the news. You're shocked to see a slightly pink aura coming off of your girl half-blood.
She grins at you. "That's great, Grover. You deserve it."
"Yeah, man," Percy adds. "Congrats!"
You don't miss the way Annabeth leans a little into your best friend. Later, you place bets with the Aphrodite and Hermes cabins on when Percy and Annabeth get together, no interference allowed.
Cabin 10 bets three years. Eleven guesses two. You think about your quest and how well they worked together. You give them four years.
The council isn't sure why you want to search for half-bloods again instead of the lost god. Being a searcher was every satyr's dream job. You don't really know why your putting Pan on hold either.
It could be because of your scare with the sea of monsters and Polyphemus, but you'd rather not say that out loud. No satyr ever quit his job as a searcher just after one run in with a monster. Well, it was a really big monster. Nevertheless, the baffled elders sign a third permission slip. You avoid the satyrs, nymphs, and Annabeth so she can't ask you questions you don't know the answer to.
But Thalia catches you. Yes, Thalia, the daughter of Zeus and pine tree of Camp-Halfblood, brought back to life by the Golden Fleece, courtesy of Percy and Annabeth (and you suppose Clarisse and Tyson). You smile a little at how all of your half-bloods just keep saving one another. It makes your job as their protector remarkably easy.
Electric blue eyes bore into yours. Your bossiest half-blood crosses her arms. "Spill, Grover. You loved being a searcher, why are you quitting now?"
You shrug a little helplessly. "I'm not quitting... Just taking a leave of absence. I'll get back to the searching for Pan eventually, I just..." You shrug again.
Thalia sighs and picks an orange leaf out of your hair. "Well...wherever you're going, good luck. I-M me if you need help. Annabeth, Seaweed Brain, and I will be there."
As you sling your duffel bag over your shoulder and walk passed her tree, you wonder if Percy even likes being called Seaweed Brain by the daughter of Zeus.
Weeks later, you find two siblings that smell like something died. The di Angelos radiate something powerful and dark. You sense it, and so does Dr. Thorn. You call for back up. But this time, it's your half-bloods you Iris-message. They're all at Westover Hall in record time, and you think that maybe your two new half-bloods will be all right.
They get out unharmed. And one of your oldest ones falls off a cliff. Bianca shows her gratitude by becoming a Hunter. You know it's cruel thought, but you wonder if the di Angelos were worth losing Annabeth.
You regret ever thinking that a week later when Nico proves to be a son of Hades and runs away. And also when Bianca sacrifices herself for you and your half-bloods. The other Hunter dies for her mistress and your friends too.
Luke's another body to add to the count. Granted he was a traitor, but you can't help but feel responsible for him even now.
You manage to get Annabeth back though... And Thalia accepts the job as lieutenant of Artemis to stall the prophecy (but deep down you know it's also because of Luke). In the end, you don't know who you've lost, saved, kept, and worse, who's left you.
But despite your bitterness, you can't help but marvel over the fact the daughters of the Big Three always die sacrificing themselves and how the sons always lose someone they cherish. You prepare yourself if you ever find another possible child of the Big Three.
Next year, after the battle is over, word will get out that Nico is a son of Hades and that the search for Pan is over because the god no longer lives. People will shrink back in fear your half-blood, and the satyrs will bleat denials and call you things you could never repeat.
You will feel a crushing weight on your chest and your shoulders will droop. Pan is dead, and you must be the one to spread the word to spirits and creatures of the wild that won't be willing to listen. Nico di Angelo's celestial parentage has been revealed to all, and he will be a pariah where he used to be accepted. Where all demigods were supposed to be accepted.
But then Chiron will place his hand on your shoulder and give you look that'll show nothing less than pride. "My boy, I think we've discovered your talent."
You'll stare at him blankly because as far as you can tell, you still aren't special. Or a hero of satyrs like you had hoped to be after you found Pan. "Really? Because I feel like a failure right now, sir."
The corners of his eyes will crinkle. "You have found all the children of the Big Three, Grover. Thalia, Percy, young Nico, and though her death was unfortunate, Bianca. You followed your instincts and each time they led you to a powerful demigod. It would seem that they've also led you to the great Pan."
You'll know you've been spending too much time with Percy when you almost laugh at the "great Pan" bit. But instead you'll smile at Chiron and look across the post battlefield where almost all of your half-bloods are.
Percy will be laughing at something Nico said, and Annabeth, though looking a little green and blue from her aura, will roll her eyes and lean a little into your best friend like she did years ago.
Thalia won't be part of the scene. But you'll know that, somewhere, your first half-blood is running around with an eternal maidens' club, hunting down monsters, recruiting girls, and living an immortal life of adventure.
You'll look into the water for the first time in ages and see a tall satyr with wise eyes looking back at you. And for the first time in a long while, you'll be genuinely content.
(Just wait 'til Percy's sixteenth birthday. You'll be lord of the Wild, and you'll be filthy rich from your bet with Cabins 10 and 11.)
Like it? Hate it? Tell me what you think. Even a smiley face will make my day.