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Rated PG to PG-13 (final rating not yet determined) for future violence/etc.
WARNING. SPOILERS FOR THE VERY END OF THE LAST OLYMPIAN.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Author's Note: Started 3/1/10. First fic that contains mostly OCs. Set way mega in the future, so little to no canon character appearances. And no, no canon character kids either.
The Demigod Diaries - Seventy years ago, the new Oracle came into being. Seventy years ago, the next Great Prophecy was made. Nearly thirteen years ago, Erin Mitchell was born. But she knows nothing of the Prophecy: all she wants is to be claimed.
[A story of seven new heroes, in which the main character doesn't always save the day and isn't always the most powerful.]
Late update: 3/15/10 - Chapter one FINAL version is up; only real changes were grammatical and spelling. Much love to The One Called Demetra from FF.net for betaing and for IRL friend Meagan for doing the finishing touch edits. Chapter two is still very rough and needs feedback! Thanks!
Chapter One: All that is Gold Does Not Glitter
Chapter One: All that is Gold Does Not Glitter
Sometimes different is good. Sometimes it's bad. Sometimes it means nothing at all.
My "different" was little things. Swirling letters scrambling along the page. Vases broken in rushed, child-like excitement well past the age they should have been. Large, bird-like things with talons chasing after me.
Which, in the demigod world, isn't all that different.
So I had next to no trouble fitting in at Camp Half-Blood. In fact, it was the only place I'd ever felt accepted – except for one teeny, tiny fact.
I had yet to be claimed.
Yes, it's selfish. The gods are busy and they have all sorts of tedious, immortal duties to fulfill. But you would think after the great stories of the past – after the promises they had made – it wouldn't be nearing the middle of my second technical summer. Granted, Hermes' cabin wasn't bad. It was disorganized, even without the constant travelers. Loot littered the floor, and by 'loot' I mean things of all shapes, sizes, colors, and uses – the children of the God of Thieves tended to grab whatever they could get their hands on.
That was one thing I'd learned at camp: keep your stuff secure, preferably on you, at all times, at least until you were claimed.
My hands flew to my pockets, patting them down out of instinct; everything seemed to be there – not that I had many possessions – but after having a few of the only things I owned snatched when I first arrived I learned you could never be too careful.
With a quick sigh of relief, I moved from my position near a tree stump. I had timed the day well over the summer. The dinner conch blew. I put my shoes back on and headed off to eat.
Before I got very far, though, my alone time was interrupted by a shrill, young voice.
I whipped my head around just in time to side step. Rea was running after me at an alarming pace, and had I not moved she would have barreled me over. Again.
Rea was a good-natured girl. I mean that in the literal way; she was a daughter of Demeter, and had a green thumb to boot. I'd once tumbled into bushes this summer during capture the flag, effectively killing them as a barreling girl in full-body armor would do, but one touch from her and they sprang back as if I'd never trampled them.
"Yeah, yeah, I see you," I grumbled. Despite this, my face lightened. It was hard to stay mad at someone with so much childish innocence. "What's up?"
"Where'd you slip off to this afternoon?"
"Meditating." It was a lie. I had too much energy, even for a half-blood, to properly meditate – but I was supposed to be meditating, so it wasn't a complete lie.
Rea eyed me, seeing straight through my words, but she dropped it and picked up another long-debated topic.
"Come sit with me at dinner tonight?" Rea asked, her tone hopeful. I looked at her, arching an eyebrow.
Her face fell.
"I didn't mean it like that," I explained, hands moving in circles as I attempted to reason, "but you know we're not allowed to." Rea shrugged.
"Has anybody ever tried, though?" she asked. Before I could wrack my brain, we had arrived at the dining pavilion and she scuttled off, a dark aura hanging over her.
With as much reluctance as always, I sat down at the Hermes table. It wasn't a bad place, even if it wasn't my own – they were the friendliest kids at camp, always welcoming as long as you didn't try and stop their raids, and if you didn't feel like talking, one of them always managed to keep the conversation going. A good thing, considering the fact that I was in absolutely no mood for talking. My conversation for the night ended with a muttered offering to the gods – with only a minor mention of wanting to be claimed – until I was all alone again.
Thursday night was uneventful, as always. Exciting things happened on Fridays, which meant people attempted to get to bed at a reasonable hour. Hermes' cabin was always louder than the others, more active, but I settled into my corner bunk with ease and drowned it all out.
It was late when I woke next, as opposed to early; a glowing clock across the room informed me it was just a tad past three.
I wanted to walk.
I have no idea why; I tended to sleep well, despite the constant threat of being pick-pocketed. Camp was one of the only safe places I'd ever lived, and with everything going on it never tended to be too hard for me to slip into dreamland. Staying there was another subject, but when I woke I was rarely restless, so this sudden urge just to move was both invigorating and terrifying.
I knew the Harpies were on guard. I wasn't stupid; they always were, even though the camp hadn't had security problems in nearly seventy years, according to Chiron. But this urge – it was too much.
As quietly as possible, I removed the covers, ignoring the shoes I kept under my bunk, and slipped out the door of the cabin. The grass was trampled underfoot, dirt kicking up in wisps as I walked. I had no clue where I was going, but my feet seemed to have some idea as they carried me this way and that. The night was quiet, though not eerily silent, and I sent a quick prayer out of habit in hopes that the Harpies wouldn't get me. I'd been lucky so far, but I was well aware of just how easily they could pick up on a scent.
Eventually my brain caught up with my feet, and I realized exactly where I was heading: the dinner pavilion. It seemed an odd place – I wasn't hungry, and I had never made a point to hang out there before – but my feet tread the same path I walked day after day up to the pavilion, and before I could determine why, I had stopped right where the pillars started.
It looked totally, absolutely normal.
So why did it feel so different?
My heart nearly jumped into my throat; the blood in my veins was torn between stopping cold in fear or rushing so fast it nearly rent from my body. Willing with all my might, I turned to see who had spoken.
No one was there. I stared, into the distance at first, then up, and then all around me, but there was no sign that anyone besides me had been there. Only once I turned around did I notice any difference in the scene around me.
A doll lay on one of the farthest tables, reserved for one of the minor gods. It mimicked my appearance, right down to the scar I had above my eyebrow from a confrontation with some rocks as a child. In its hand was a small, golden goblet.
I must have taken it with me, because later that morning it lay beside me when I woke.
Chapter Two: Συναπάντημα
Chapter Two: Συναπάντημα
I pocketed the doll as I headed for breakfast the next morning; it was an odd enough object that it would be swiped before I got back, that much I was sure of.
Before I even made it to breakfast, though, I was tackled by the ever lovely Rea. She wore a crown of daisies, freshly picked and braided, in her hair, and had another wrapped around her arm.
“Omph – wha-” I was cut off as Rea placed the second crown on my head, twirling and grinning like a maniac.
“Happy birthday, silly!” She hummed as she spun, arms out like some kind of crazy human tornado. Then, all motion ceased as she looked at me very seriously. “It is your birthday, right?”
“Oh… yeah.” I wish I could have said I had forgotten all about it, but that would have been a complete lie: I had been counting down to this day for months now. It was stupid, but the most recent promised laws of the gods said that all demigods had to be claimed by age thirteen. After a disappointment last summer, I had been relying on the fact that my age deadline was coming up – my mother had to claim me… right?
“You okay?” Rea gave me a confused look and made it clear I’d been spacing; I just nodded, not in the mood for talking, and for once Rea’s chatter fell silent as we walked towards the dining pavilion.
Breakfast passed without the slightest dilemma, and I headed off to the arts and crafts shed directly after.
With care, I sat down at the pottery wheel, lump of clay smooth and kneaded. Most people tended to stray way from the traditional bowls in hopes of making something more interesting, but dishes were comfortable subject I could actually construct. I was no good at sculpting – the bird I had once attempted to create came out looking like a hunched-back bumblebee – but the bowls and plates I spun always wound up better than everyone else’s.
It was cathartic, spinning pots, the mush of wet clay under my usually hopeless fingers. The substance coated my hands, a thick layer of fast-drying goop, but I relished the feeling. It was one of the few things I could do unnaturally well.
I spent the morning concentrating so intently, the next time I properly looked up the sun was high in the sky. The pottery shed was clearing out, only a few stragglers left behind who were setting their projects someplace they wouldn’t get broken, and Daniel Stich was sending glares of “I-want-to-leave” over in my direction. As quickly as possible I packed up, wiping my hands on the bottom of my camp shirt, before heading off for a quick lunch and afternoon sword practice.
It was a class I dreaded, not so much because I was bad but because everyone else was so good. Nature hadn’t cursed me, it just hadn’t blessed me, and when ever we split up in partners – like we were doing today – I always got whooped.
“Protect your left!” Jessica Dews called; she was a camper, but a counselor as well, and had been at camp nearly as many years as I had been alive. I turned to give a nod of confirmation, but that caused her to spit more advice: “Bend your knees more, and lean forward, you’re not balanced enough. Oh, and tuck your elbows in closer to your body, Amanda is going to-”
Before I found out what Amanda was going to do, she had – her sword stuck me in my side, and had armor not been on over the neon orange shirt I would have bled.
I left practice that afternoon with a throb in my side, a frown along my lips, and a foul mood that even caused Rea to stay away.
The bright side of the day was that it was Friday, and nearing the end of the summer capture the flag was a given. Hermes’ made their usual alliances, and directly after dinner we suited up in provided gear. Lewis Bookman, head counselor of Athena’s cabin, shouted out commands and directed people this way and that, but it was all a jumble of chaos and very few people bothered to listen over the sounds of building excitement. I stationed myself in my usual back-woods area, knowing that few people passed through and it was never anyone important.
I took a spot leaning against a tree, eyes opened but not pried in worry. After a few moments I heard the snapping of twigs and the whoosh of charging campers, but their helmets indicated we were allied and they blew past quickly. The shadows cast from nearby trees were close to disappearing into the rapidly darkening night by the time someone noticeable passed.
He snuck along, the plume on his helmet the shocking crimson of the opponent team. I was about to confront, the tendons in my ankles tightening as I prepared to pounce as best as a human could, but I caught sight of the face.
It was familiar, as faces at camp often are; loose strands of dark hair were matted to the back of his neck, eyes dark and conniving. What struck me most was the speed he moved at, though he didn’t appear quite as light on his feet as I’d seen a lot of kids at camp move.
Before I could call him out on his roundabout way, though, the sound of feet came into range. His head shot up, and he spun around in a defensive move I mentally recognized being taught though I was sure I physically could not perform it.
For the first time he seemed to notice I was there, head whipping between me and the direction from which the noise was coming. As quickly as he had frozen to the spot he dashed, running backward without even looking where he was going.
A fatal mistake. He ran smack dab into a branch, the edge scratching him across the peak of his forehead and running all the way down to his left temple. The injury took him by surprise and he stumbled backwards, tripping over roots of trees until he fell. I paused, unsure, but after a moment or two of no movement I approached.
“Hey, are you… okay?” My voice sounded lame in my ears as I approached, but it didn’t matter; as soon as I saw him, I knew he hadn’t heard. I also knew something was seriously wrong.
The scratch along his forehead was foaming at the edges and turning a sickening shade of green far too rapid for comfort. The lacerations along the rest of his body were quickly following the same pattern. Before I realized what I was doing, I had kneeled down next to him and begun checking his pulse like they had instructed us in safety classes.
Suddenly I remembered. The footsteps.
“Help.” No response. “Help! I need help over here!” My voice carried much further than normal, half an octave higher in panic, but shrill enough to be heard even over the rustling of the leaves. The footsteps that had been approaching sounded closer now, much closer, and I could hear the difference in the pace – they had heard.
“Who called? What happened?” a girl asked, looking around, frantic. She spotted me and the boy, wounds still deteriorating, and she dropped her weapons, hand flying to her mouth in shock.
A group followed up behind her, two boys. Immediately one of the boys – Kyle, I remembered – rushed forward, dropping to the other side of the injured camper. He assessed the damage quickly, and even without the armband he wore I could tell he was an Apollo camper.
“Lee, head up to main camp,” Kyle commanded, voice firm. “Tell Chiron that Leo is seriously injured.” A boy in the group, Lee, took off running at a breakneck speed. Kyle turned to me, now.
“You know anything about healing?” I shook my head slightly, but he disregarded it. “Whatever. I need your help.” He took a small pouch from a pocket of his armor, pulling out quarter-sized packets of golden liquid. “Tear at the tab and spread them on the wounds. Don’t touch the injuries, though – there’s some serious poison in there.”
I followed Kyle’s instructions, spreading the ambrosia goop in the now-grayish wounds. They lightened in color a bit, then a bit more, and rapidly were going backwards through the color scale, from gray to purple to green to yellow to a thick, brownish-red that bore some resemblance to human blood.
By this time Lee was sprinting back, just coming in to sight. Chiron followed, galloping right next to him; a crowd of other campers gathered behind them, curious about the new development.
Dirt kicked up as Lee skidded to a stop, Chiron materializing a moment later. Two staff members followed with a stretcher, and I moved away out of instinct; Kyle didn’t, still dabbing liquids onto the gash along the boy’s forehead and muttering words I couldn’t understand.
“Take him to the main house. Treat him immediately.” Chiron’s voice broke the eerie situation and snapped Kyle out of his trance-like state. He backed away, allowing the two adults to tend to the boy and begin moving him back up to the main house, careful.
“The wounds were poisonous, sir.” Kyle did not meet Chiron’s studying gaze, his voice falling much weaker than it had been moments before. The centaur gave a barely discernable nod.
“I understand. This is a matter to be discussed. Please report to the main house.” Kyle nodded once, curt, and walked off, legs shaking.
I stood mere inches from where I had risen, less than a foot from where the injured camper had lay. Chiron finally seemed to recognize my presence because he turned to study me. Before I had the chance to speak or explain myself, to try and talk my way out of giving any accident reports or witness statements, his eyes changed topic. I followed his gaze.
It was focused on a doll. It lay in the dirt where I had been standing during the game prior to the chaos. Patting my back pocket, I realized it must have fallen during my rush over. With caution, Chiron approached. He reached down, and grasped it, studying its features intently. After a moment he looked up, glancing in my direction once more.
“Report to the main house at once,” he instructed, before leaving, doll still in hand.