The Dark Side of the Moon
Somewhere in the forests of Pennsylvania, the Hunter's of Artemis campsite
October 7th, 7:46 p.m.
Thalia Grace, Daughter of Zeus, Lieutenant of Artemis
My name's Thalia. I'm eternally 15 years and 364 days old. And this isn't Percy Jackson's story anymore, well not right now at least.
Everyone always looks up to him. I don't even blame them: he's a great fighter and leader, he's loyal and trustworthy, and he's kind and accepting. I'm not jealous either. But it seems to me that the minor characters, or even not so minor side characters, need to have their point of view voiced. Yeah, I get everyone wants to hear it from the hero, but I know and have heard of a great deal of people that don't get the recongition they deserve.
Take the musicians on the Titantic, for example. Whenever you hear 'Titantic', most either think of the tradegy of the unsinkable ship going down or the love story. Not many look at the bravery of those mortal musicians who played until the very end. Very inspirational. Deserves some credit, no?
It's not that I'm dissing the ones that are always in the light exactly, I'm just trying to broaden the Google search, so to speak.
I think that's maybe one of the reasons I joined the Hunt. I wanted a family, I wanted out of the prophecy, I wanted to forget Luke, sure. But also, I geuss I didn't really feel like being known as the girl that was turned into a tree; Pinecone Face isn't a very flattering nickname, I'm sure you can understand. I wanted out, I wanted to get away from all the drama and chaos that came with being a demigod at Camp Half-Blood in exchange for a life as peaceful for a daughter of Zeus as I could get. I like the Hunt; it's nice to just sort of go with the flow and relax, well most days anyway. But I geuss that's the immortality coming into play. Everything seems so slowed down, it makes it so much easier to handle things.
Before Zoe Nightshade's quest, I don't think I ever would have dreamed of becoming a huntress. But something changed. I don't even know exactly what, but there was this feeling, like the Fates were willing me to follow the path of Artemis. Weird, but that's how it was. And I know why now too. It's because the prophecy was never meant to be mine. Never, in any version of reality, would I have been the child of the Big Three that would make that possibly fatal choice that Percy made three years ago. Wow. It's been three years already; it's still hard to believe Annabeth's older than me, and even little Nico di Angelo wasn't little anymore.
The world sort of exisisted away from the Hunt, still there, just not my immediate reality. It was mindblowing really.
And even when Artemis had asked me to take that oath, I never dreamed that I'd become her lieutenant, and especially not right away. There were plenty in the Hunt with far more experience than I, but no. I never asked why I had been made Lieutenant of the Hunter's of Artemis so rashly, but I did wonder. And forever I'd wonder.
As her lieutenant, I had my own tent, which I'd thought was very generous of Artemis, as we had a lot of girls in the Hunt now. What were our numbers at? 42? 43? We were our own small army of demigods, mortals, nymphs, some Titan-spawn, you name it. So it was nice to have a place here that was all my own, sort of like Zeus' Fist at camp. I know that that worthless pile of rocks wasn't really mine, but it was named after my father, so I figured it was partially mine. They were sanctuaries, the few places I could be alone.
So at nightfall, that's where I retreated. And as I pushed aside the flap of my tent, it really did feel like an escape from the duties and stresses of being lieutenant. The smell wasn't precisely home-y, but familar and comforting, particularly when I unlaced my muddy boots and tossed them aside to stink up the far corner, because that's where they were always thrown. And the air was always thicker; it was harder to breathe in this enclosed space when the rest of the time I'm out in the vast forest, though my tent was in no way small, especially when compared to the others (excluding Artemis').
It sort of resembled a first mate's quarters on a ship: not as grand as the captain's, but still better than the others. My white sheeted bed of wood was cast off into the opposite corner as my desk, which had notes, battle strategies, and a lantern ontop it. At the foot of my bed was an antique chest which held an extra change of clothes or two, a few books and my IPod, and the accessories I was premitted to wear with my hunter's uniform. Small demigod nessecities such as nectar, ambrosia, some weapons, rope and duct tape, and a pouch of golden drachma were stored in the other chest, located right next to the entrance. Then there was this huge open space in the middle which I used for private, individual training. Seeing as it was a tent, there were no windows.
I tore off my socks and threw them in the corner with my big black 'biker' boots. Huh. Big black biker boots. That's hard to say. But anyway, I was exhausted from today's completed mission. We'd been tracking some ancient monster or other for the past two weeks, and we'd finally managed to catch up to and kill it. Thank the gods they turned to dust, or we'd have had a massive cleaning job to attend to. I flopped down onto my bed and just laid there for a little while, my eyes drifting shut of their own accord. Being immortal, you'd think I wouldn't get tired. Ha! It was true I needed less sleep than a regular person, but man, when I was tired, I was already out. So I grabbed the pillow and shoved my head under it, about to fall asleep when I heard the trading of screamed insults in the next tent over. I groaned and rolled to my back. Always something to do, isn't there?
I dragged myself off my comfy bed and walked (barefoot) out into the twilit clearing in which we'd set up camp. The sky truelly was magnifacant when afternoon transitioned to evening. All the colors and blends and the moon and sun out in the sky together and the clouds spaced just right and the cool air of fall... magnifacant. It was definately my time of day, and my type of weather. I didn't have too long to spend admiring the sky, as Justina and Maggie's yelling increased volume and macilousness just then. I quickened my pace until I stood outside their tent and marched in, too irratated and cranky to bother wondering if just storming in was the best option.
It was worse than I thought, but not as bad as they got sometimes. Justina, the smaller yet faster of the two, was running in circles with something clutched tightly to her chest, something I'm geussing belonged to Maggie, who was trailing after her bunkmate doing the majority of the screaming. I trudged over to the center of the room and yelled at the top of my lungs; usually, that'd shut everyone up. But now neither of them so much as flinched. I could have walked in on stilts wearing a big puffy dress and goggles to announce I was marrying Apollo with a bullhorn; they wouldn't have noticed. So, deciding my effort would be wasted and my sleep was far superior, I backed out of their tent, rubbing my tired eyes. Zeus only knows why Artemis shipped that pair together.
On natural instinct, I surveyed the campsite. the tents were arranged in a cresent formation, Artemis' being the tip of the moon, followed by mine, then Justina and Maggie on my other side, and then Alexia and Riley, and so on. The wolves sat or stood gaurd, spread out along the invisible line that would have created the rest of the circle, some of them pacing back and forth; the wolves got restless a lot. A fire was going in the middle of the campsite, a young girl attending it, maybe eight or nine. The woods were... Wait a minute...
I walked closer to the roaring fire, studying it's flames as they slunk into the sky, higher than they should have been able to before dispersing, glowing more richly red than they should have been. Under normal circumstances, I would have overlooked this, and my eyes would have simply slid right over the girl tending the fire. But Artemis had a strick policy on hanging around outside of the tents, something about the enemy knowing exactly where you were and what you were doing. Plus, the fire was enchanted so that Artemis would just wave her hand and the fire would ignite or dispel; it didn't need to be tended.
I stood a few yards away from the girl, her long brown hair was braided down her back, which was to me. Oddly, I got the feeling I should know her... So I took an educated geuss. "Lady Hestia?"
The Dark Side of the Moon
Somewhere in the forests of Pennsylvania, the Hunter's of Artemis campsite
October 7th, 7:52 p.m.
Thalia Grace, Daughter of Zeus, Lieutenant of Artemis
Her eyes burned red with power, which would have been a tad concerning had it not been for the genuine smile she gave me over her shoulder. "Hello, Thalia Grace." She glanced around the campsite, seemingly trying to decide somthing. "Sit." I had a feeling that wasn't it.
But nonetheless, I took a place next to her at the fire side, mimicking her by crossing my legs, though I didn't fold my hands in my lap or sit perfectly straight like the goddess of the hearth beside me. I sat awkwardly, not sure what to say and trying to stifle a yawn, but Hestia appeared perfectly content to just quietly examine the fire. After a few minutes however, she noticed my discomfort. Weird, Hestia was probably the only god or goddess that had ever made me nervous... except maybe Aphrodite... she was just freaky...
She casually flicked her middle finger and thumb together; the fire responded by glowing brighter and towering another yard higher. "Hmm. The flame still glows here... So, Thalia, how are you fairing?"
"Fairing?" I inquired. "With what exactly?"
She shrugged her delicate shoulders lightly. "Anything. Everything. Life. The Hunt. Family. Friends. I'm here to talk."
I thought about that. She wanted to talk? Uh... no thanks. I wasn't very fond of the sharing and exchanging of pleasantries and information so called 'conversation.' Huh. I know big words. Who would have geussed? Though it was true that most of the exchanges I have with poeple end in violence, I knew it'd be extremely hard to get mad at Hestia. All the same, I still gulped. There was something about her that just... unnerved me. I don't know what it was or why it did so, but it made me feel like I was back in the tree. Trapped. And I most certainly did not want to talk. Honestly, I just wanted to go to sleep, no matter how early it still was.
So I surprised myself when I answered calmly, "Fine. And you, Lady Hestia?"
Her red eyes searched mine cautiously, yet she still managed a small smile. "I am well, thank you, though I'm not sure the future will be... However, I'd be better if you trusted me. I'm here to talk."
Well, I don't want to talk. Couldn't she see that? Yes, I could tell that she knew I didn't want to talk. And she was trying to make me. But nooooo. Because she was Hestia and all nice and kind and sweet and innocent she just had to disguise that by being polite. Uh-huh, yeah, no; I'm not buying it. It's hard to get mad at Hestia? Screw that. It's hard for anyone else to get mad at her. For me, it was hard not to. And here's the thing: I didn't even know why I was so mad at her. It was just this... I don't know. But unless I wanted an enemy of one of the only goddess' that were fond of mortals, I'd be damned if I couldn't keep my mouth shut.
So I oh-so-not-steathily threw the ball back into her side of the court. "You know Lady Hestia, I'm actually really tired. I'm sure you can understand if I'm not up for talking." A look into her glowing flame eyes and I lost my nerve. "You sure we, uh, can't direct the conversation to you for a bit? Like, uh, I've noticed that you actually seem to like us d-demigods. So, yeah, what's the story behind that? And who's your, er... favorite demigod?"
Ugh! What was wrong with me? I don't stutter! Thalia the freaking daughter of Zeus, Lieutenant of Artemis does not stutter... Ugh! Favorite demigod? Really?! Seriously, why was I getting so frustrated? So nervous? I was supposed to always have a comeback, think on my feet, know my moves and what I'd say. But she made me... scared. It startled me to realize that for some unknown reason I was scared of one of the nicest goddesses there was. Wow. Where's punk Thalia nowadays? I really miss her.
Hestia laughed. A real laugh that wasn't forced; it'd been a while since I'd heard a laugh like that. "My favorite? Oh my." She laughed again. "I don't think I've ever been asked that before. Most don't want to hear about me. Most want me to hear about them. You're different... or is that just because you're edgy around me? Hmm. Everyone's always on about themselves; no one has time for family anymore." She pondered for a moment. "My favorite demigod is Nico di Angelo."
That startled me; I didn't think the son of Hades was anyone's favorite anything. Well, you learn something new every day, I suppose. And, being ADHD like most demigods, I tend to just blurt out what's on my mind. So, I wasn't thinking when I didn't disguise the utter disbelief in my voice. "Why?"
And to my surprise, Hestia chuckled. And it was loud. And it went on for a long time. When she had finally calmed down enough to speak, the corners of her mouth were still turned up. "A few reasons, Thalia. He was the first to talk to me at Camp Half-Blood in many years, for one thing. He's respectful to and respected by most of the gods, whether you'd believe it or not. And..." She sighed, sadly. "I don't believe that anyone besides myself considers him their favorite in any matter. Everyone needs someone, because though we are all extended family, it is rare we all stick together and stand by each other. I'm aware he has a great friend in Percy Jackson and a few others..." She paused, tilting her head slightly. "Are you friends with Nico?" she asked out of the blue.
I yawned. "Well," I said tiredly, "I've only met him a few times, so we're probably more like aquaintences."
She nodded absently, and ended the topic with the finality of that action. "Well, Thalia, this little chat has been fun but I must be leaving now. When you are ready to talk, I will find you and you may." She stood up and unfolded her hands, gazing deep into the glowing embers of the fire. It looked as if she were about to step into the fire, when she stopped, and turned her head to look down at me over her shoulder. "I almost forgot, Lord Apollo and Lady Artemis are having..." She searched for the words. "They're having a little talk, one very different from our own, and I thought it might interest you." And with that she did walk into the fire, disappearing in it's flames.
Thank the gods she left. I was fine again now, calm and tired just as I was, no longer nervous for an unknown reason. Unknown reason... hmph. I'd figure that out later, like, tomorrow, because right now I was going to sleep and if anyone disturbed me for the next... wait a minute... What was that Hestia said about Apollo and Artemis...?
I got up and surveyed the campsite again. I couldn't hear Justina and Maggie anymore. Night was descending rather quickly now, the sun gone, but some of it's light still reflected from the west. Nothing moved; all was still. It was eerie, strange... I carefully and quietly crept towards the first and largest in the cresent moon shape of tents. I turned so my ear was pressed against it's side, listening. I could hear muted voices whispering fiercely back and forth to each other, arguing just as siblings often do.
I heard Apollo's voice ring loud, "No, let me stay here, Artemis!" He sighed, clearly exasperated. "It's my duty to protect you as your twin brother."
Artemis' calmer tone was harder to make out. "You of all people know this type of magic can't be fought. And even so, it's not your place."
"But..." His pitch dropped so low, his voice was so broken, that I wasn't sure if I had heard him correctly, "I have to."
"No, you don't. When the clock strikes midnight tonight, I'll be at my most powerful. And though I will have already been captured by then, I may be able to fight my way out. But I don't want you to help me; you're weaker this time of day. What I need is for you to tell the Council what is happening and what has happened. I need you to share the information we've discovered with them." She sighed heavily. "We shouldn't have waited this long anyway... Enlighten your Orcale as well, brother. We'll need great help."
"Artemis, I don't care! I mean, of course I'll do what you ask, the last part anyway, but you can't expect me to just sit here while your life force is being drained!"
"They're after you too, and don't forget that." Her voice was dangerous and stern. "Leave now, the connection is breaking already."
And then there was silence, so I assumed the I.M. connection had been broken.
Woah. That was some serious sh*t; I don't think I've ever heard Apollo sound so... not himself, like he was actually taking things gravely and with all of his joking manner aside. Artemis was going to be kidnapped? The gods didn't know? What was going on? Why would she keep this from me? What about the Orcale? I thought she trusted me! I'm her lieutenant; the Hunt should know. Why didn't she let Apollo help her take on this threat? What is the threat? Why didn't she...?
My thoughts were interrupted by an intensely bright light coming from inside the tent. A god or goddess' divine form? But then there was Artemis' piercing scream that said otherwise.
Without thinking for even a split sceond, I rushed inside, throwing the flap out of my way. But it was over; I must've been too late. Nothing. No Artemis. And judging by the sudden lack of light outside, if Artemis disappeared, so did the brightness of the moon.