I burst through the doors of my school and jogged along the side walk towards my foster parent's house. It was the last day of school and I was so lucky that I could walk home. I felt kinda bad for the kids who were stuck riding the bus home. The house was only a mile from my school and it became part of my daily routine to run home. I walked into the house and dropped my bag.
"Laura, I'm home." I called.
I walked into the kitchen and my foster mom was sitting at the counter on her laptop grading the last of her student's papers. Laura is my foster mom. She works at the local college as a Foreign language professor. I had been living with Laura for five years. My mother had died when I was very young and I never knew my father. I had been moving from foster home to foster home since I was four but none ever lasted long. Laura was different, she and I seemed to connect on a deeper level. I had been diagnosed with ADHD and minor dyslexia and I always seemed to get in trouble. But Laura never really cared what I did, she would just help me get through it.
"Hey Taylor." She got up and walked over to the fridge. "How was the last day?" She asked.
"Oh pretty good. Two girls started a huge fight in the lunch room, but I manged to stay out of it." I replied.
"Good." She replied handing me a glass of iced tea. "Were any of your friends in the fight?" She asked.
I snorted. I only had a handful of friends and none of them would ever be in a fight. I was the one who usually got in fights or in trouble. I mean I wasn't one of the bad kids in my school but the principal and I should've been on a first name basis by now.
"No they weren't." I said taking a sip of my tea.
Laura rolled her eyes. They were a weird gray color that looked like two full moons. Her blond hair was curled slightly and since she was done teaching she wasn't wearing that much make up.
I put my drink down and slid off my seat. "Alright I'll be out back if you need me." I said. Laura's back yard bordered a large part of state woods and I spent most of my time out there.
"Okay be careful and be back by five I'm grilling chicken for dinner." She replied.
I went into my room and put on a tank top an old pair of jeans over a bikini. I grabbed my iPod and ran for the door.
"Be back later!" I screamed. I rushed into the woods and as soon as I couldn't hear any noises I stopped and stood there listening and breathing. I finally came out of my trance and started walking toward my tree fort... well it wasn't really mine.
I had found it abandoned a few years ago. I managed to fix it up and make it my own. It was 30 feet in the air and had a large wrap around deck. There were four separate parts to the fort a main hub, and three smaller parts. There was no ladder instead there were a series of hand hold to grab on to climb up. The whole thing had been made out of branches and vines disguised to look like a normal tree.
I climbed up into the fort and took in the view. The fort was built in a tree that was in the center of a clearing and a few yards away was small pond fed by a river. I walked into the main part of the fort and plugged my iPod into my speakers. There were shelves built into the tree, there was also a table and a few chairs. I walked outside and checked out the other three parts that were bedrooms. Each had an initial on it an A an L and a T. I didn't know who the initial's belonged to, but I could tell the A and T were girls and the L was a boy. And A was younger than the other two.
I climbed down and walked over to the pond and stripped into my bikini. I looked at my reflection for a minute, I tied my brown hair back and took my contacts out of my light blue eyes. I dove in and let the cool water refresh my body. I swam for about an hour and decided to get dressed and head back to the fort. I climbed out and let the sun dry me off. I sat up and reached for my stuff.
Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw something moving in the woods. I looked up and a shiver ran up my spine. Three large black objects were watching me at the edge of the clearing. They were larger than black bears and had menacing red eyes. They walked closer into the clearing and I saw what they really were. Large black Mastiffs with huge fangs.
They moved closer as I slowly stood up. When I got to my feet I bolted for the tree fort. The hounds were on the other side of the pond, which gave me a good head start. I reached the tree and scrambled up the hand holds just as the hounds reached the base. I looked over the side and they began circling the tree and trying to jump up. I was trapped.
I leaned over the side watching the three huge dogs circle the tree. I ran inside and grabbed my phone off one of the shelves. I looked at the screen and cursed... no bars! I slowly walked back outside and raised my phone up trying to get a signal. Finally after what seemed like hours a bar appeared on my phone. A huge smile stretched across my face. Suddenly the tree shook and I had to grab the railing with both hands. I watched as my phone flew out of my hands and crashed onto the forest floor.
"Son of a... gahhh!!" I screamed at the top of my lungs. A freezing cold wind ripped through the trees, causing the hounds to momentarily stop. They sniffed the air and then continued to lunge at the tree making it shake with every attack. I wobbled back into the main hub and tried to find something that could help me. I didn't see anything other than my iPod and I don't think that could kill a massive, blood-thirsty dog. Another attack knocked me off my feet and put my head against the trunk. Thump!
"Wait a minute." I thought. "The trunk sounded hollow! Maybe there's an escape tunnel!"
I started tapping against the trunk, listening between the hounds attacks. I finally found a door handle! I pulled on the handle and it opened after a few hard tugs. I did not find an escape tunnel. What I found was a stash of weapons! A couple of spears, a few daggers, a sword, and a bow with a quiver full of arrows were all hanging in what seemed like a small closet.
If I survived after today I was gonna find out who A, L, and T were. I grabbed the bow and arrows thinking I could stay up high and pick them off one at a time. I also grabbed two daggers just in case. I walked calmly outside. The wind was whipping the trees and caused the temperature to drop. The hounds had stopped tackling the tree as they were probably tired. I spotted one down by the pond taking a drink.
I had only shot a bow a few times. I had been to Laura's father's house for Thanksgiving and Christmas. He was an ancient military expert and had a bunch of antique weapons that he allowed me to play with. He said I was a natural just like Laura. I remember I started laughing, Laura never struck me as the person to handle weapons. But I remember her taking a bow and shooting a dozen arrows into a large target from twenty yards away.
I notched an arrow and took aim, breathing deeply to calm my nerves. I released the bow string and saw the arrow soar through the air. It stuck in the ground a foot to the left of the monster. It jumped and looked up at me snarling. I hid behind a leafy tree limb and waited for it to turn. He turned broad side, I notched another arrow and let it fly. It impaled itself in the dogs side right where it's heart was. It let out a howl and fell over. Then it did something I didn't expect it dissolved into shadows and ceased to exist.
I leaned over the railing of the fort and tried to spot the other two. Suddenly the tree shook violently and I lost my balance. I plummeted three stories I closed my eyes waiting for the crash, it never came. I opened my eyes and found was hovering about a foot and a half off the ground. I felt a strong current of air pushing me up, I leaned forward and dropped onto the ground.
"Ow!" I yelped. I heard a growl behind me and saw the other dogs walk out from behind the tree. I pulled an arrow out of my quiver took aim.
"Okay mutts, Round two!"
They hounds started forward slowly then split up and began circling me. I tried keeping an eye on both of them but they were too far a part. I consetrated on one of then and listened for the other. Suddenly the hound in front of me lunged and I heard the other pounce behind me. I ducked and they collided behind me. I turned fired my arrow and ran for a huge boulder next to the pond. I heard a yelp and turned to see the arrow I fired stuck in one of the hounds legs. However the hound was still able to run and it started coming after me along with the other.
I scrambled up the two story rock and the hounds were soon trying to climb up. The one hound with the arrow in it's leg was having a hard time getting at me, but the other was doing a much better job. I continued firing arrows but I had a horrible angle. I had to stay a distance from the edge incase they made it up here. But from here I couldn't get a good shot. I fired five more arrows all misses. I reached back in my quiver and I only felt one arrow. I pulled it out, notched in on my bow, sat down and waited.
One of the hounds finally climbed up and snarled at me. I pulled back on my bow and let the arrow fly. The arrow hit right between it's eyes. The hound fell backwards and landed on the ground with a definate thud.
"Boom head shot." I smiled to my self.
I turned around a saw the other hound with the arrow in it's leg climb over the edge. I pulled out my daggers just as the hound lunged at me. We tumbled off the rock and started free falling. The hound's teeth were inches from my face and I couldn't bring the knives up to stab the hound. I felt a tugging in my gut and screamed. A freezing cold wind blasted the hound away from me and into the boulder.
I landed on my feet and took a fighting stance. The hound was badly wounded but still wanted to rip my throat out. I was freezing cold which didn't make sence since it was the end of June. I glanced down at my hands and saw they were blue and my knives had frost on them. The hound charged at me and I had another tugging in my gut, I pointed my knives forward and two white beams shot forward. The beams connected with the hound and the hound howled in pain. I dropped to my knees and the beams stopped. I sat there breathing heavily, I was exhausted I had never done anything like that. I looked up and saw the hound... or what I thought was the hound. Standing in it's place was a huge ice sculpture.
I got up and walked over to the ice sculpture. I could see it was the same size as the hound but made entirely out of ice. I looked down and saw an arrow sticking out of it's leg. This was the same hound that attacked me!
I had so many questions running through my head but I was too tired to think. I grabbed my stuff and started back torward home. I walked past the tree fort when another shiver went up my spine. This one more violent than the others. I turned around and I almost fainted. Standing at the other edge of the clearing was another huge Mastiff, twice as big as the others, stood there glaring at me.
The hound started walking forward. It was the size of a truck and it's teeth rivaled those of a saber-tooth tiger. I pulled out my knives but I was so exhausted I doubt injecting me with Starbuck's coffee would've helped. The hound burst forward and lunged at me. It's mouth opened ready to swallow me whole. I stood there and waited for the end.
Out of no where thunder shook the sky and a bolt of lightning blasted the hound side ways. I looked over and a girl stepped out of the woods. She wore sliver colored camouflage pants, a black Green Day t-shirt, and a silver tiara, that stood out through her spiky black hair. Her electric blue eyes zeroed in on the hound then looked at me.
"Need some help?" She asked. I nodded my head and waited as she jogged over.
"I saw what you did back there nice job." She said, punching my arm lightly.
"And you desided now was a good time to jump in!?" I half asked, half screamed.
"Hey, you seemed to be doing a good job at the time. I mean you did take out three of them." She reponded. The hound got up and started barking. "By the way, I'm Thalia." She said sticking her hand out. I shook it and a jolt went through my body giving me burst of energy.
"Taylor Argenta." I replied.
The hound charged again, Thalia pushed me back and tapped a silver bracelet on her wrist. It morphed into a shield and the hound reared up when it saw it. I didn't see why it was so scared of a shield until Thalia slung it over her back and pulled out a bow. There was a horrible figure head on the front. I recognised the head from english class... Medusa. I yelped and Thalia looked back with a conserned look on her face giving the hound the opportunity to swipe her aside. She landed a few feet away and her arrow was sent flying completely missing the hound.
The hound pounced at me. I rolled out of the way and got up with my knives at the ready. Thalia jumped up next to me and quickly pulled out her shield again. Her bow lay on the ground broken in two.
"Any ideas?" I asked.
"Can you do that thing with the ice again?" She replied. "My shield will keep it at bay, but it won't last forever."
I closed my eyes and consentrated after a few moments the tugging in my gut came back more violent than before. I looked down and my knives were once again covered in frost. I blasted the hound with two white beams just like the last one but more powerful. The hound ran forward but with every stride it slowed down. The hound was three feet from my knives before it became a solid hunk of ice. I stood there breathing for a few seconds before I blacked out and Thalia caught me.
When I woke up Thalia was still holding me. A white light was glowing over my head and I looked up just in time to see a holographic snow flake dissapear.
"So you are a demigod." Thalia said finally noticing I was awake.
"A what?" I asked trying to get up but Thalia held me down.
"Easy girl you're in no shape to move just yet. Here drink some of this." She said reaching into the back pack. She pulled out a thermos and I took a sip. The drink tasted like a perfect iced coffee but when I looked into the container the drink was a gold color. I took a few more sips and I started to feel better, I had more energy, and I wasn't tired.
"Alright that's enough Nectar for you." Thalia said taking the thermos from me. "Don't want you bursting into flames."
"What!?" I yelled spitting the rest out of my mouth.
Thalia began to laugh. "Don't worry demigods can drink a fair amount but we can't chug it like the gods do."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa." I said holding my hands up. "What do you mean by gods and demigods and that."
Thalia laughed again. "Look you know the Olympians from Greek mythology? They're still around, they're immortal and there for never die. They move to the most powerful country and will have children with mortals."
Thalia continued filling my head with information but one question kept coming back to mind. When she finished it was my turn to speak.
"So is I'm a demigod..." I began. "Then who is my father?"
A smile spread across her face. "I almost forgot." She stood up and raised her hands to the sky. "All hail Taylor Argenta, Daughter of Boreas, God of the north wind." She said in a dramatic voice.
My mouth fell open. I was stunned, more questioned flooded my mind but Thalia suddenly seemed interested in the tree fort. She walked over to the base and scrambled up the hand hold with ease.
I quickly followed and found her at one of the bed rooms. She walked in side and started looking around. She spotted me by the door and grinned.
"I see you've kept the old safe house in good shape." She said.
"This is your tree fort?" I asked, shocked.
Thalia nodded. "Back when me and my friends were on the run from monsters we made dozens of places like this all over the east coast. We left them so we could come back to the as needed. Or so other demigods, like you, could find them and use them."
"So you're T so who's A and L?" I asked.
Thalia's face had mixed emotions. "A is my friend Annabeth a daughter of Athena. And L..." She began her face darkening, "Is Luke a son of Hermes. I don't really see either of them these days."
"Why not?" I asked.
Her face brightend again and a smile spread across her face.
"I'll explain that later. We should probably go back to your house it's getting late."
I suddenly remembered that Laura would be waiting for me. I looked at my iPod and saw it was 4:50.
"Well maybe you can tell me more back at my house." I said.
We walked into Laura's yard to find her setting the picnic table for dinner. She spotted me then noticed Thalia. She had a confused look on her face but she was still smiling.
"Welcome back Taylor, who's your friend?" She asked.
"Laura this is Thalia, Thalia this is my foster mother Laura."
The two stood there staring they and seemed to be sizing each other up.
Thalia extended her hand. "Thalia Grace, Daughter of Zeus."
Laura tilted her head quizically but shrugged and shook Thalia's hand. "Laura Favorise, Daughter of Athena."
I looked at Laura shocked. She was a demigod too! That explained why she was so good with those weapons her dad had. And her father's profession probably explained Laura being a daughter of Athena.
Laura set a third plate for Thalia and we all sat down. Thalia and I explained what happened at the tree fort. Laura just sat there swirling her glass of wine in her hand. When we finished she took a sip and set her glass down.
"So I guess you'll be heading to Camp Half-Blood?" She asked.
I remember Thalia had explained to me that there was a special place demigods went where they'd be safe and that they could train. It sounded cool except that Boreas didn't have his own cabin.
"Well there is another option." Thalia said clearing her throat. Laura and I both looked at her confused. "You could always come with me and join the Hunt."
"The Hunt?" I asked.
"The Hunters of Artemis actually." She said. "We are a group of girls who travel the world with the goddess of the hunt. I became a hunter two years ago."
"Wow." I said "That is so cool."
"There's a catch though." Thalia continued. "Since Artemis is the Maiden goddess we aren't allowed to have boyfriends."
"Oh... that is a big condition." I said, I had only had a couple of boyfriends but none of them were really serious relationships.
"Well there is one up side." Thalia said.
"What that?" I said thinking nothing could entice me.
"Immortality." Thalia said dramatically.
My jaw hit the ground. "Your kidding?" I asked.
"Nope, we stay young and travel with the goddess forever." She continued. "But our immortality is conditional. If we fall in love or are killed we loose are immortality."
I didn't really here what she said. The thought of being fifteen forever, not getting old, not having to worry about a future was overwhelming to me. Then I looked at Laura she seemed to be studying me with a weak smile. I couldn't just leave her this was the closest to a real home I had ever come.
"That sounds awsome and all." I said. "But I just couldn't leave Laura."
"Taylor." Laura said taking my hand. "This is a once in a life time opportunity, and I know you don't want to pass it up."
I sat there with my mouth opened. Then I walked over and gave Laura a hug.
"Won't you miss me when I'm gone?" I asked.
"Oh don't you worry." She said. "The Fates will hopfully send me another demigod angel just like you someday."
I hugged her tighter then we went into the house and she helped me pack my things. She talked about her adventures as a demigod and when I was finally pack we walked back out side. Thalia was standing by Laura's bird bath she waved her hand through the mist and a girl's face dissappeared. When she saw I was ready she walked over to us.
"You ready?" She asked.
I took a deep breath. I was nervous but anxious I turned around gave Laura another hug and walked with Thalia into the woods ready to become a Hunter.
Thalia and I walked side-by-side for what seemed like hours. My mind started racing about what I was getting my self into. I started thinking if it was too late to turn back... considering I had no idea where I was... yeah it was too late.
I was about to ask Thalia how much futher when came into a clearing and I caught my breath. About a dozen silver tents were arranged around a camp fire that was begining to burn. A few girls were sitting around the fire laughing. Some girls were shotting bows at a dead tree making a smiley face when they had finished. I spotted a couple girls in a what looked like a serious knife fight until one girl disarmed the other and the girls watching started clapping, think I saw some money exchange hands. I looked over at a creek and saw some girls splashing each other.
"Whoa." I whispered.
"I know right." Thalia said. "Come on, you need to meet Artemis."
We walked through the encampment and I could feel heads turning and eyes glaring. But when I looked back no one was watching us.
"Hey Thalia, how many girls are here?" I asked.
Thalia smiled. "Twenty-four counting you." She said proudly.
"And they're all demigods?" I asked.
"Most, but we've got a couple dryads and a naiad." She responded.
I nodded my head and tried to figure out which girls weren't... normal. But everyone seemed like regular girls. Thalia walked over to one tent slightly bigger than the rest which is saying something because each tent was about 12ft x12ft. Thalia walked in and I reluctantly followed. I wasn't sure what Artemis was like but the idea of meeting a goddess terrified me. I walked in and I was at a loss for words.
Hanging all over the walls of the tent were dozens of animal skins. Everything from rabbit, to tiger, to snake skins. A small brazier burned in the middle of the tent but didn't seem to give off any heat. Sitting in front of it was a small girl. She looked about thirteen with long auburn hair braided over her shoulder. Lying next to her was what appeared to be a stuffed wolf until I took a step forward and it raised it's head. I let out a squeal in my throat. I had had enough of big canines trying to rip my throat out.
The girl smiled and raised her hand because I was currently trying to find my knives. Only problem was they had shattered from the extreme cold I exposed them to.
"Don't worry Próskopos is well trained and will not attack unless provoked, or if I say so." The girl said
I was puzzled until Thalia bowed to the girl. "Lady Artemis." She said.
Now I was really puzzled. This little girl was the Greek goddess of the Hunt!?
"Yes I am Artemis." She said reading my mind. "I appear as the average age of my hunters."
"Okay." I said wrapping my head around that.
"M'lady." Thalia spoke up. "This is Taylor Argenta, Daughter of Boreas." I bowed to the goddess as she looked me over with her yellow eyes.
"So you would like to join the Hunt?" Artemis asked. I nodded my head. "Thalia explained everything to you about being a Hunter?" I nodded again. "Then I see no reason why you can't join." Artimes concluded.
"Alright what do I have to do?" I asked.
Thalia sat down next to Artemis. "It's actually simple. All you have to do is say; 'I pledge myself to the Goddess Artemis. I turn my back on the company of men, Accept eternal maidenhood, And join the Hunt."
I looked at Artemis, she sat there with a small smile on her face. But I could tell there was a larger one hidden just beneath the surface.
I took a breath and repeated the oath. Suddenly I felt like someone had shot me full of caffine. I felt stronger, and my sences felt like they could rival those of a blood hound. I looked down at my hands and I could see a faint silver glow like someone had just dunked me in liquid moon light. I was also wearing a new set of silver clothing.
Artemis turned to Thalia. "Jade doesn't have a bunk mate yet and Taylor will also need a bow and a new set of knives."
"Thank you m'lady." I replied.
She smiled. "Lastly," She continued. "Each hunter has their own companion, and I think I have the perfect one for you. She snapped her fingers and there was a rustling behind me I turned around and saw a white adolesent wolf enter the tent. It bowed to the goddess then sat down at my feet and looked up at me. I reached down and stroked it's head.
"This is Naga." Artemis said. "She will be your companion hence forth."
"Thank you m'lady!" I said kneeling down to play with Naga.
Thalia got up and opened the tent. "Come on I'll introduce you to your new bunk mate."
And with that Naga and I followed Thalia out of the tent.
Thalia and I walked outside to the group of girls that were having the knife fighting contest. Thalia tapped a girl on the shoulder. The girl was about my height, with dark eyes and brown hair with red highlights.
"Jade this is Taylor." Thalia said. "Taylor meet Jade Droméas, Daughter of Hermes."
Jade gave me a smile and shook my hand. Thalia left us alone to get aquainted.
"So you just joined?" Jade asked.
"Yeah" I admitted.
"Cool" She responded. "I joined five months ago."
We continued talking and getting to know one another and Jade introduced me to the other Hunter's. It was hard to keep them all straight but since I was technically immortal I'd have forever to learn them.