Chapter 3: We get a Guard Puppy
Annabeth led me and Rebecca into the Athena cabin after Chiron adjourned the war council.
“Listen up everybody!” Annabeth announced to her siblings. “There’s a quest opportunity, and we need a volunteer. The prophecy calls for a daughter of Athena. Any takers?” she asked her cabin bluntly. Some shifted restlessly; others looked like they were struggling with the decision, just like at the war council with the head councillors. Finally, as I hoped, Elizabeth stood up from her stool in front of a design table.
“I’ll go with you. I can do this,” she said, directing her words at Rebecca, but her blue-grey eyes rested on me. I gave her a reassuring smile to tell her she was doing the right thing. Annabeth herself looked a little stunned.
“You sure Elizabeth? You haven’t even been here a full year yet. Are you sure you’re ready for this?” Annabeth pointed out, but Elizabeth only shrugged.
“What better way to prove myself?” she asked innocently.
The next day, I sat on the top of Half-Blood Hill, about to embark on our quest. I myself was already packed, doing so right after breakfast. I was waiting for Rebecca and Elizabeth to join me, but when I heard footsteps walking on the soft grass, it wasn’t either of them. Alyssa came up to sit down beside, and she looked distracted.
“Hey,” I said simply, and she looked down at the grass in front of her as she plucked a surprisingly green blade considering the time of year and twirled it in her fingers.
“I wish you weren’t going,” she said finally, shocking me a little. Some sort of invisible tension seemed to fill the air, and the knot in my stomach that I used to get from just being around her, which I thought I had under control, had suddenly returned.
“Alyssa, I have to go. The prophecy said so. You can’t challenge the Fates,” I told her, but she still looked at the blade of grass between her finger tips, refusing to look directly at me.
“I know, but I remember the last quest we were on, and we almost got locked away forever. And keep in mind that those were only the children of the Titans. This time, you’re looking for the real thing. There’s no telling what you’ll run into,” she told me, and I thought I could see tears glittering in her eyelashes. Before I could open my mouth to comfort her, Elizabeth and Rebecca climbed the hill, both fully prepared for the adventure ahead of us. Elizabeth saw us sitting together and stiffened ever so slightly, her face tightened a little, while Rebecca just looked a little uncomfortable and shifted restlessly on her feet.
“We’ll be alright,” I told her, and then gave her a reassuring hug as I whispered in her ear, “I’ll come back safe and sound.” She nodded as she stepped away, and then made her way back to camp after waving goodbye to the other two without saying another word.
The ride into Manhattan was rather depressing. I was more confused and puzzled than ever after my encounter with Alyssa, and Elizabeth keeping her distance from me, even though she tried to deny it, which isn’t like her. Argus the security officer dropped us off at Grand Central Station where we would make our travel arrangements. We got a taxi to take us as far as New Jersey, and then took a bus as far as Columbus, Ohio. After a run in with an empousa in Pittsburgh in the summer on my last quest, I suggested we stay on the bus so another incident like that didn’t happen again. We sat alone on the bus, waiting as the other passengers were doing their own thing outside.
“Do we even know where we’re going?” Elizabeth asked. We both looked at Rebecca, who was looking at the back of the seat in front of her, deep in thought.
“No,” she admitted. “Somewhere secluded, I would guess, but somewhere where he would still be attributed with,” she guessed.
“He’s the Titan of forethought. He could be anywhere like a school or a military base,” Elizabeth pointed out.
“Or using his forethought to win it big at a casino,” Rebecca suggested.
“Or fire,” I said, which earned me a couple of perplexed looks. “Prometheus stole fire from the gods for humans. He could be somewhere associated with fire,” I explained.
“Is there anywhere where those two things might overlap? Fire and forethought?” Rebecca asked.
“Las Vegas maybe? He could be winning it big with his forethought and it is pretty hot there,” Elizabeth suggested.
“Phoenix? It’s pretty hot there too,” Rebecca pointed out.
“What about Hawaii? It has a bunch of volcanoes,” I threw out.
“Well we can’t visit them all,” Elizabeth said. “Rebecca? Where do you think he would be?” We both watched Rebecca carefully, but she looked deep in thought. Being a daughter of Nike, she was probably weighing her options and seeing which one would lead to victory. We sat in silence for several minutes, waiting for her verdict. It was her quest after all, she should decide. The silence was only broken by the ear splitting bark of an animal.
We flew off the bus, hands on our weapons, only to be facing an oversized golden retriever.
“Um, hi?” I offered it. It looked just like any golden retriever, except it was about twice the size, the size of a motorcycle at least. It whined and rolled over onto its back, tongue hanging out.
“That is not normal,” Rebecca said rather obviously.
“Is it Greek?” I asked my two companions.
“If I’m right, than it probably is,” Elizabeth said, and we both looked at her in surprise.
“There was a giant golden retriever in Greek mythology?” I asked in disbelief.
“You better believe it. You see, when Zeus was born, Rhea had to hide Zeus from Kronos for all of those years, and in some versions of the myth, there was a golden dog that protected him. Obviously, it takes the form of a large golden retriever nowadays,” Elizabeth explained. I looked at the dog, who looked adorably ridiculous on its back, begging for me to rub his stomach.
“Do you think this was a gift from my father?” I asked the girls.
“It very well could be. That or it’s a warning,” Rebecca said. We all looked at the big dog, looking so lovable and nonviolent; it couldn’t possibly be a vicious guard dog.
“I think we should let him tag along nonetheless,” I announced.
“He’ll probably follow us anyways” Elizabeth pointed out.
“What will the mortals see?” Rebecca asked.
“Through the Mist, who knows? Probably anything but the truth,” I guessed. The Mist was a magical veil put in place by the gods so as to keep their world a secret. It could cause the mortals to see anything except what it actually was, for example, if I drew my spear, they might just see a pool stick or a baseball bat. There were some exceptions though, as some mortals could see the truth through the Mist, and those were usually the ones that attracted the attention of the gods.
“We should give him a name,” Rebecca said. I looked at the dog that was now doing some sort of yoga position while stretching or something. He reminded of one of the foster families I had been with one summer before I had been taken to Camp Half-Blood. They had had a dog on their farm for various purposes, and I really liked that dog, almost like he was my own. In that moment, I knew what we were going to name our new pet, even if he was a guardian sent from my father, he was going to be our friend.
“We’ll name him Comet.”
Comet jumped and barked when I called him that, so I assumed he liked the name. The only problem was that his bark attracted the attention of about the whole city.
“Comet, calm down!” I shouted at him, and he immediately stopped barking and sat down like a good dog, his tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth.
“Okay, so now that we have our own guard dog, what are we supposed to do with it?” Rebecca asked the question we were all probably asking ourselves. The dog kind of answered our questions by jumping up and down and running away. We looked at each other for a second until we came to the silent agreement to follow our new pet. He led us a fair distance, taking us so far away from the bus station that we probably missed our bus again. I really needed to learn to catch buses on time…
The dog led us out of city limits, as indicated by a sign that we passed. He led us into a natural area, away from any urban man-made surroundings. We walked for what seemed like an hour, maybe several, but Comet finally stopped and sat down at the crest of the hill, panting heavily as he stared down at the field below. We stumbled up to him, collapsing to the ground and gasping and retching for breath. We were like that for at least twenty minutes, until I finally crawled over beside Comet, who had lain down for now, which was fine by all of us. He raised his head and perked his ears when he realised I had come next to him.
“What is it boy?” I huffed. He shook his head and stared straight down the hill. I followed his line of sight, and to my surprise, I found him looking at some sort of camp sight. Black tents stood around the clearing, with teenagers milling about around them. Several campfires blazed in front of about every other tent where the kids kept warm and cooked meals or s’mores. At first, I didn’t realise the strange things that were going on below. First of all, everybody was wearing navy blue shirts that might have had a design on the front, but I couldn’t make it out from here. Then I noticed that most had weapons strapped to their sides, some were cleaning them or sharpening their various silver swords and daggers beside the fires. What finally clicked for me was the flag flying outside of the biggest tent, which just so happened to be the one closest to us. It was navy blue, and when it was waving in the wind, I could make out a black design on both sides. It was a black scythe with words that circled around it: Camp Othrys.
We found the demi-titans again.