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The Lost Heroes

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The girl stood near the hill she was told was Half-Blood Hill. She had been told it was a strawberry farm, and could see strawberries going, but it was a sort of summer camp... Maybe they'd let her stay there. She had been feeling unusually watched lately from strange eyes, and there was something about the name 'Half-Blood Hill' she liked. She sighed, walking down the hill. Maybe they'd feed her for maybe at least a day. Then she could continue on, still with the empty feeling of sadness. She blinked as she heard something growling behind her. She turned slowly to see a big, black, evil dog. Releasing a scream as she was knocked down, she could feel the dog shaking her around like a shoe-toy and then dropping her to the ground as it started to writhe in pain.

The last thing she could see as she blacked out were boys and girls, some her age, some older, fighting at the dog. The last thing she saw was the dog attacking them as well before she was completely unconscious.

She soon woke to have the delicious taste of sweets in her mouth. She couldn't really name what sweets. It just tasted wonderful. And she felt like she was burning up. The girl feverishly frowned, trying to get up, her arms and legs aching. She looked down to see bandages all over her middle. She frowned. So the dog wasn't a dream. What else was new...

Chapter One - I Get A New Home

I didn't know where I was, or who these people were at first. All I remember is just feeling like I was screwed over now. And guess what? I was. I most certainly, definitely, and without a doubt, to put it simply: WAS SCREWED. I could hear a boy and a girl speaking to something with weird goat-legs... A half boy-half something. ...Okay then. I sat up, almost screaming in pain. ...Okay, I squeaked. So what? They looked at me and I instantly knew something was wrong. I could just see it in their faces.

"What is your name?" the weird goat-boy asked me, chewing on a can, frowning.

"And how is that any of your business?" I snapped at him, glaring. "Who ARE you people, too!?"

"Perrrcy," goat-boy bleated, "I think the prophecy is coming true too early!"

"It seems like it," the older boy murmered in thought. He was sixteen and seriously cute. I couldn't take my eyes away from his face, ignoring his little girlfriend's glares. He turned towards me, his blue eyes staring straight into mine. "Do you know where you are?"

"No," I said, glaring straight back at him. I. Was. Not. Going. To. Seriously. STARE. At. Him. Like. That. I sighed, "Am I close to somewhere called Half-Blood Hill? I heard it was supposed to be some strawberry-farm and I came to check it out."

He laughed. Not meanly, just as a good guy. He smiled at me. "No, this isn't a farm. But you are a half-blood."

"A wot?" I found myself asking.

His girlfriend rolled her eyes, tossing her blonde locks behind her, her stormy gray eyes piercing into mine. "This is Camp Half-Blood, located just behind Half-Blood Hill. It's for children of mortals and god or goddesses. You're half-mortal, half-god. Whoopie."

Okay, then. You can have him. Sheesh. I almost heard myself saying this but instead forced myself to speak something else, "Well, okay..." I realized as I glanced outside all of that clanging from metal were kids in metal-workshops and in sword fights, others on a strange rock-wall that threw down lava rocks and lava, and elsewhere there were kids practicing archery. Well, this confirmed my suspiscion. Maybe the gods WERE pleased with me... I had always believed in them, maybe now they finally realized my potential...? Or maybe not. Apollo, I silently thought, Please help me through this.

I had always been a sort of fanatic of the God Apollo. Him and his sister, Artemis, never failed to make me interested. I loved the Sun and Moon symbols, and had always secretly wished to be one of Artemis's hunters, never falling in love with boys and always staying young, hunting animals... But never did I think that was POSSIBLE. I stood up. "You can call me Serenity. Who are you?"

"I'm Annabeth," the blondie girlfriend of the cute boy glared at me, her stormy gray eyes analizing me, as if trying to decide how to kill me.

"I'm Percy Jackson," the cute boy told me, not noticing his girlfriend's hostile behavior. Maybe he should keep her on a leash.

"And I'm Grover," the goat-boy told me.

"Eh... What are you?" I asked him, frowning. I realized this was rude, but it confused me.

"I'm a satyr," He told me, frowning as well.

"Aha!" I jumped up triumphantly, ignoring the pain. The word had been a bit vague in my mind... "I KNEW I knew what it was!"

They silently stared at me before I shrugged, walking out of there. My legs weren't damaged too much, enough to walk around and have some fun. I walked towards some cabins I saw off in one side of the camp. I walked towards them, staring at them before another satyr pulled me back, snatching me out of the way of the arrows. "Woah guys! Another first-timer!"

Satyr-boy turned towards me, staring at me. "Sorry about that."

"ELLIOT!" I shouted, blatantly ignoring the three that followed me, obviously annoyed at how stupid I was acting.

"Are you defined or undefined?" he asked me.

"Say what?" I asked, staring at him.

"Have you found out your God-parent, yet?"

I shook my head, glancing up at the skies before shutting my eyes hard. Reminder to self: Sun hurts to look at directly. Please inform Apollo later.

"Err.... Elliot, I always knew your legs were jacked up, but... You're a satyr-boy, too?" He was my best friend, the only friend I had at that dreaded boarding school. It was so boring, and these weird ghost stories always seemed to come true when I was around. No one would ever talk to me, but he would.

"Yeah," he nodded, chuckling, embarrased slightly. He looked around. "I gotta go. I've got some more first-timers to speak to."

"Okaii, then. I'll see you around here," I said to him, immediately turning and marching off.

"Hey, you can't just run off like that!" Annabeth snapped at me. I instead ignored her, still walking away, towards the cabins. I wanted to know what these were. There were thirteen of them, and many others in another area.

"What are these?" I asked. "There's thirteen here, and even more back there..."

"These are our cabins. That one's for Zeus's children, that one's for Hermes's, and there's Athena's-" Percy tried to explain to me, but I ignored him and walked towards the thirteenth cabin. There, written in what looked like blood on top of the door to the black cabin was 'Hades'. I walked inside of it, and heard rock music. The River Styx. My favorite band. There were two boys there, playing video games. One of them was younger, maybe about twelve. So we were about the same age. And there was an older guy, about fifteen.

"Who are you?" the kid my age demanded, looking up at me and pausing his game. The older guy glanced at me, uninterested. "This is Serenity, one of our newest campers," Annabeth explained to them, holding my arm. Her nails were digging into my sleeve.

"Stop it. It hurts," I told her simply. She let go, but I could tell she was pissed off at me. Okay, maybe I should behave... "So where am I gonna stay? I rather like this cabin..."

"You'd have to be defined," Annabeth told me. She seemed to notice now that I was less interested in her boyfriend, and was cooling off.

"How do I get defined?" I asked. The two boys had turned back to their game after saying hi to Percy.

"Your God-parent would send a sign, or we would see your unique powers," Percy joked.

"I have powers?" I was impressed with myself, grinning. "Not probably very great, unless you're one of the big three's children," Grover told me.

"Big Three?" I echoed.

"Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades," Annabeth explained.

"I see," I murmered. "Awell~ Time to just kick back for now. Where can I stay until I get defined?" I was behaving now. That's a first.

"You can stay in the Hermes cabin," they told me.

I nodded, making a quick promise to keep my eyes on everyone in there. Hermes was the god of messengers and travelers... and also, thieves. I inwardly groaned as I walked away from them, deciding to look around in the Hermes cabin.

Chapter Two - Artemis Likes Me

It took three weeks for me to adjust, but I finally got the hang of the camp. I had made friends with both of those boys in the Hades cabin, as well. And Elliot had helped me around the first three weeks as well. The boys names from the Hades cabin were really nice names, I decided to myself. The older boy’s name was Ari, and man, was he hot. He had dark features, and I could see how he resembled a dark lord, almost. The second one was one around my age, twelve or so, and his name was Nico di Angelo. I had asked if that was Hades’ last name, but he had told me it was his mother’s last name. I had asked Ari, also, if he had a last name, but he wouldn’t tell me. Kid must really hate his past.

I had put every night into studying the Greek mythological gods as well, and spent all the rest of my free time out of the schedule I had worked up learning Mythomagic, a game that Nico liked to play in his free-time. He had given me figures of Apollo and Artemis as a little present, and showed me his favorite figure: one of Hades, his father, he had explained. His sister had ordered Percy to give it to him. It took him a while to get it, he told me, because it was the only one he hadn’t gotten, and he had gone through a lot with Percy.

I asked him about that as well, but he told me he’d explain it later. He still hasn’t gotten to that… Oh well. Right now, I was heading with Elliot to meet up with Ari and Nico at the bonfire with the Apollo cabin. Apparently, Apollo had kids, but Artemis did not. And the boys? Almost as dreamy as Apollo himself. Sure, I had always wanted to be a hunter, but it was okay to think about boys every now and then, you know.

Elliot had left me to go to a rose garden in the forest, telling me it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen… But I had the suspicion he was just going to be with his nymph girlfriend. I had never met her myself, but she lived in the roses, he had explained to me once. She was apparently his very soul mate, and I didn’t question that one bit by that dreamy look he always got when he spoke of her beautiful red eyes that always got chlorophyll green when she was sad, and how she looked beautiful even when she was upset and wilting.

I made a silent vow to meet this Rose girl and see just how beautiful she was. I didn’t feel jealous, of course, Elliot was more of a brother, but I wondered. Elliot had never gotten with the best of girls in mortal school, but I had yet another suspicion that was only for him to seem normal. Hey, kid had something funky with his legs but wasn’t too bad with the ladies. I giggled to myself with my thoughts, sitting beside Ari and Nico. I laughed and sang along until dinner.

I scraped a little bit off of my plate to give as an offering to the gods, whispering under my breath, “I give this offering to the god and goddess, Apollo and Artemis, in hopes that you can help get me claimed by my god-parent.”

As soon as my food fell into the flames, I knew it wasn’t exactly the best idea to give it to them, but hey, I was getting pretty desperate waiting for that call from my daddy I’d never met. Hell, I wasn’t even sure if my MOMMY was my real mommy, so my god-parent could’ve been either. I shivered, hoping with all of my heart that my mom wasn’t Hera. There was something about that goddess I had always disliked… I didn’t dare say that out loud, though.

As soon as the food met the flames, they got bigger. I fell over, screaming, “I DIDN’T DO IT!” It was an old habit, but this time I had a pretty-effing-good-reason.

A gigantic frickin’ hell hound leaped out of the flames, and this time I actually had to bite back the want to yell, “OH, LOOK, A PUPPY~!”

But before I could even move to try kicking at it to get away, an arrow shot through it, and the creature turned to dust. Nico and Ari both shivered, frowning, but looked up as they saw a young girl, about my age, holding her bow. She was the most beautiful girl my age I had ever seen, and I was now jealous, but I was jealous of tons of girls… Just never as much as I had been jealous of her. I wondered silently with my ADHD mind just what I would be like when I met the actual goddesses.

I stood there stupidly as the girl smiled at me, her bow disappearing. She walked towards me, other girls walking beside her.

“It’s the hunters!” a boy yelled out.

The hunters cringed, keeping their distance from any boys as the girl in the lead stopped right in front of me. It was then that it hit my mind just who this girl was. I stammered, “Are you- are you A-Artemis?”

She chuckled, smiling at me still and nodding. “Yes, Serenity, I am Artemis. I have heard your quiet prayers to me, and I thank you.”

I swear my face turned red with embarrassment as she smiled at me brightly. “W-why have- why have you c-come?”

“Because, I wish to make you into a hunter,” Artemis told me, her eyes shining brightly. She turned her head towards a girl beside her. “You can explain to her how to join, Thalia.”

Thalia nodded to Artemis, “Yes, Goddess,” she turned towards me, her electric blue eyes seeming to burst with electricity. “You need to make a simple pledge. And then you’ll be immortal- as long as you’re not killed in battle- and never fall in love.”

I nodded eagerly. Hey, if I wasn’t going to get claimed by my parent, then the hell with it! I’ll go ahead and achieve my life’s dream instead of waiting and simply happily hunt with other hunters. “What do I have to say?”

“Say, ‘I pledge myself to the Goddess Artemis. I turn my back on the company of men, accept eternal maidenhood, and join the Hunt,’ and if she accepts it, you’re in,” Thalia explained to me.

I nodded again, saying, “I pledge myself to the Goddess Artemis. I turn my back on the company of men, accept eternal maidenhood, and join the Hunt.”

“I accept,” the goddess told me, smiling again.

It all came to me in a rush. I could feel a light silvery glow just barely touching my skin, my own aura now seen. I could feel my own muscles still the same size yet also feeling stronger, I felt like I could run faster than anyone. I felt awesome, and amazed at how much brighter the world looked to an immortal. I had achieved this dream, finally.

I was now a Hunter.

Chapter Three - I Capture A Flag

I was soon with the other Hunters, ready for a game of Capture the Flag. I had only played once during the short time I had been here, but I had gotten the general idea. I just have to get the other team’s flag and we win. No big deal, the Hunters always won, anyways. Thalia herself had told me about that.

Another girl, Vivian, was with me as we silently walked through the woods beside each other, our bows drawn and ready to shoot anyone that tried to charge at us. I didn’t feel exactly comfortable with just a bow and arrow, but decided it was better than carrying nothing. I wished desperately for a sword, wondering if I would ever be able to get my hands on a decent celestial bronze sword. I had been told that it was the best type of metals to use against monsters. I was randomly reviewing facts about the gods that I had been cramming into my heads the past few weeks when we finally reached a blue flag with two guards there. Vivian and I both hid in the trees, having climbed up there less than thirty seconds ago.

I pulled back my arrow as she had done, aiming specifically at their shirts that hung out of their armor, trying to pin them to the ground. I guessed that it was part of being a Hunter that gave you awesome aiming, because as soon as I let go of the arrow it went flying like a frickin’ tiny rocket-thing. Not kidding, the thing actually almost looked like it was burning when it attached the kid’s shirt to the ground.

Vivian expertly fired arrows at the other kid, attaching him to the ground as well, shooting more arrows at the one I had hit, pinning him down a bit more as well. I ran past her and at the flag, about to grab it when I heard a voice, muttering something. I turned, staring to see a girl with orange hair and freckles holding her head, muttering something over and over again to herself, “Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,” she muttered quietly to herself. “What could that mean?”

She didn’t exactly look like a Hunter, she didn’t have our aura, and she most certainly didn’t look like a half-blood. All half-bloods that weren’t on the Hunters’ side right now were on the Camp Half-Blood side. Something told me she was a mortal…

“How is that possible?” Vivian murmured quietly to me, “She couldn’t have possibly gotten through the boundaries.”

“Doesn’t matter,” I whispered. “Let’s just go. If she’s important she’ll show up at the camp.”

Snatching the flag up, her and I ran back towards the camp with the flag. Apparently, I had done right. We won Capture the Flag for what the camp director, Mr. D, said, had to be the fifty third time. Soon, we were all huddled around the bonfire, laughing and singing again like every other night, roasting marshmallows. Except for the Hunters, who were roasting marshmallows as well without Artemis. Artemis must had gone off on some business, probably hunting something, I didn’t really pay any attention to that. But I noticed that they were huddled away from the half-blood campers, but most specifically, away from the highly infectious boys.

I giggled at the thought of boys being an infection, but it was no laughing matter to the Hunters. Then I realized that I would get to stay in the Artemis cabin from now on without worrying about any little drachmas I was able to get would be stolen by the thief-children in the Hermes cabin. I smiled, going to go sit with the other Hunters. This was my place now, I fit in. I was happy here, and happy I would stay, I was sure of it.

I watched as the girl I had seen earlier with Vivian walked near the bonfire, calling out, “Chiron? Chiron! I need you!”

The Hunters stared curiously at the girl, but the half-bloods seemed pretty neutral towards her. Percy, Grover, and Annabeth each gave the girl a little wave in greeting. She waved back as she walked past them and towards the big house, where Mr. D and Chiron both stayed at most of the time. I watched silently before turning to Percy, who happened to be the nearest half-blood camper. “Hey, Percy,” I whispered, “who’s the girl?”

“That’s Rachel Elizabeth Dare,” he whispered back. “She has the Oracle of Delphi’s spirit in her.”

“I see,” I murmured, nodding. I silently promised myself to learn the back story behind all of this crud later.

Mr. D called out lazily, “Alright, ten o’ clock. All of you, off to go prepare for bed. Lights out at eleven!”

The Hunters all walked towards the Artemis cabin, where they normally stayed when they came, and I followed them, tailing behind them, closer to the back. I silently wondered what the future held, and before I knew it I was asleep in the bunk-bed. I never knew that immortals really slept, but apparently they did.

My dreams were a bit blurry and hard to tell. I was standing in the Central Park, alone. I had had this dream before. I walked in the forest silently, my ADHD mind observing the place. It was silent, there were no birds or animals or anything, and the place had the thick scent of pollution and something that I decided to nickname ‘death’, since I really didn’t know what to call it. But it did remind me of the Underworld.

I silently continued to walk along the path, not seeing an inch of city at all before I came to an open hole. I climbed in, and before long I was in the Underworld, at the river Styx. I continued through the whole routine in a dreamy state, going on the river with Charon towards the Underworld. He had left me in front of the palace that I knew to be Hades’ palace, and I walked in, walking further and further until finally I came to a throne room. I had only a glimpse of his face and heard him saying, “Finally, you have come,” before the dream disappeared in what seemed to be a cloud of black smoke, and when it felt like I couldn’t breathe anymore, I was awake.

I sighed to myself, wondering just what that stupid dream meant. I had continued to have it for a while. It really annoyed me to not even know what my own mind was thinking… Or was it someone else’s mind…? It really confused me… I shook my head and sat up in my bed. All of the other Hunters were already at breakfast, and I was the only one left back in the cabin. I didn’t really feel too different from when I was mortal, now. I just felt like normal me. Oh well.

I walked out of the cabin after brushing my hair and teeth, walking out towards the other Hunters to see them checking through their own packs to make sure they had all had everything. I have to admit, even though I’d been here for only three weeks I was hoping we would stay longer. I said quick good-byes to Elliot, Nico, and Ari.

I turned to leave before the girl we girl we had seen yesterday, the Oracle, grabbed my hand, holding it tightly, her eyes glowing a bright green, saying a voice that seemed to be four voices speaking at once, “Three half-bloods of the seven shall answer our call,

It depends on them, victory or death to all.

A quest completed, an oath to be broken,

A part to the prophecy previously spoken.”

Then, Rachel’s eyes stopped glowing and she blinked, staring at me. I stared back. She shook her head before letting go of my hand. “What… What am I doing, again?”

Everyone had started staring at Rachel before Serenity straightened up, staring at Rachel uncertainly. “I… I think you just told me you’re sending me on a quest with… two other half-bloods…”

“…Oh…” Rachel said in a small voice. She frowned, looking around. “Maybe we should go tell Chiron.” She looked around as if looking for someone, but obviously didn’t see them among the crowd as she turned. “Come on.”

She led me away towards the Big House, and we found Chiron and Dionysus both playing cards at the table. As soon as we entered the room, Chiron looked up, nodding at us. “What brings you two here?”

“I think I just told her she’s going on a quest…” Rachel said uncertainly, her eyes flickering from one part of the room to another, as if not trusting herself to start blurting out more of the future.

I nodded. “Uhh… Yeah…”

Chiron looked thoughtful for a few moments before turning to me. “Then you should consult Rachel. Alone, of course. You may use Rachel’s room upstairs. I’m sure she can show it to you.”

I looked uncertainly at Rachel. She nodded. “Yeah. I can. Come on,” she looked at me, as if asking my name silently.

“Serenity,” I told her. “You can call me Serenity.”

Chapter Four - My Sort-of Epic Quest

I followed Rachel up the stairs and towards her room. It was filled with artwork, I noticed, as I followed her. And it wasn’t that clean, either. It was a bit messy, and she sat down at a small tea-table that had been left in her room untouched, with a chair on either side. She motioned to the other chair, “Go ahead, sit down.”

I sat down on the other chair. I looked at her for a second before asking cautiously, “What is my quest?”

Her eyes went all mystically spooky green again and she looked at me, speaking in that weird four-voices voice again. “Searching for another of the seven

in the hotel of illusion believed to be Heaven,

Trapped by the lotus, or saved by the God alone,

The fates of these three is set into the stone.”

I stared at her until her eyes stopped their creepy glowy-thing that they did as I thought of who to take with me. I could feel the answer even at that second. I knew who I needed to bring with me, it was so obvious who I needed to bring, though I didn’t know why at all. “Thank you, Rachel. I have to go find who will be coming with me…”

I stood up as she watched me, hurrying out of the room.

As soon as I was out of that house, I ran towards the Artemis cabin, opening the door as quickly as I could without slamming it open. “Vivian!” I called into there. “Come on!”

“What?” the girl looked confused, but followed me anyways as I ran to the Hades cabin. “What are we doing?”

I didn’t answer as I grabbed her wrist, pulling her into the black cabin and looking at the boy my age who sat there messing with his Mythomagic figures. “Nico, where is your brother Ari?”

“He’s eating breakfast,” Nico replied, not even looking up from his figures of the gods.

“Thanks!” I called over my shoulder as I ran from the cabin, pulling Vivian along further.

“Serenity, where are we going?!” Vivian demanded loudly, staring at me as I dragged her along with me.

“I’ll explain later!” I replied just as loudly, pulling her further until we got to the mess hall, where Ari was finishing up his breakfast.

Vivian and I sat beside the boy at the Hades table, and I told them what had happened as quickly as I could, stumbling over many of my words, having to slow myself down many times to make sure that they understood what I was saying.

As soon as I was done explaining, they stared at me. Ari asked, “If these three people are so important, then why are you telling us this?”

“Because!” I said in exasperation, “I think the three of us are the three half-bloods!”

“So…” Vivian murmured in thought, “You want us to go on this quest with you.”

“Yes!” I was happy they seemed to finally understand the urgency of this. “We need to go find another of the seven half-bloods!”

“Why do we have to go,” Vivian asked, “with a boy?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot. Us boys are highly infectious and must be avoided at all costs,” Ari said sarcastically, glaring at Vivian.

Vivian glared straight back at him. “You’ve got that right, punk. You should all be avoided.”

I rolled my eyes, “Both of you! Shut up! Now!”

They both shut up, thankfully, and I told them, “Now, we need everything that we’ll possibly need later on. Ari, what’s that healing stuff again?”

“Ambrosia and nectar,” he answered.

“Vivian, go get me some ambrosia and nectar, and pack it all into your bag,” I told her. She nodded, rolling her eyes and walking off to go find it.

I turned to Ari. “Ari, I need you to talk to the Hephaestus cabin about some celestial-bronze swords.”

He shrugged. “Sure.” He walked away, towards the cabin.

I was not okay. Not at all. To be honest, I was panicking about Rachel’s prophecy about us. I ran towards the big house to immediately inform Chiron about my quest and ask about some money because I was flat-out broke. And I was sure Vivian didn’t have any, and also pretty sure that Ari didn’t have any money to spare as well. Besides, Ari had mentioned a way of contacting people that included using a drachma, so we would probably need that later on anyways.

I opened the doors to the Big House, returning to the room that Chiron now sat in alone, messing with the cards. He looked up once I entered the room.

“Ah, hello,” he greeted me.

“Hi,” I said, sitting down across from him at the table. “Chiron, I need to go on that quest, I’ve already been up to see the oracle, and two friends will be accompanying me.”

“Are you sure you’re up for it?” he asked me, frowning in concern. “A quest is no joke.”

“I’m sure,” I insisted, “Rachel told me two entire prophecies today. I’m sure that’s pretty much out of the normal even though this place isn’t really entirely normal.”

He nodded in thought before asking me, “Serenity, what exactly did she say?”

I thought before answering. Of course I remembered it. I will never, ever forget any of the prophecies that I hear from Rachel. They creep me out too much to forget them. I took a breath and quoted her, “She said ‘Searching for another of the seven in the hotel of illusion, believed to be Heaven. Trapped by the lotus, or saved by the God alone, the fate of these three shall be forever, far and wide, known.”

I just realized how corny that prophecy sounded… Yet it still didn’t sound too great, anyways. I frowned, looking at him. “And we need some money. We’re broke in both dollars and drachmas.”

Chiron nodded before walking towards a cabinet. He rummaged through it for a moment before pulling out a small pouch. He handed it to me. I thanked him and left the Big House, pulling open the bag to check and see what was in it. Fifty bucks and twenty drachmas. Wow. Not bad.

I ran back towards the Hades table to meet up with Ari and Vivian again to find Ari holding three little golden pens and Vivian holding a sack full of what I guessed to be the ambrosia and nectar. We were doing good. “Argus should be driving us out,” Ari told me, handing me one of the pens. “One of them had gotten these from their dad’s forgery. Says he doesn’t mind if we keep ‘em.”

“Seriously?” I asked, blinking and looking at the pen. He nodded.

“Just uncap it and it turns into a pen. Told me it was sort of designed after Percy’s sword, Riptide,” Ari told me.

Vivian nodded, taking one of the golden pens and placing them in her jeans-pockets. She had the bag full of ambrosia and nectar connected to a belt she was wearing, and her long brown hair was pulled into a ponytail so she could more easily reach her quiver if needed. She held her bow in her hand, ready to shoot if needed.

I smiled as I slipped the golden pen back into my pocket as well, my bow and quiver not currently with me at the moment. See, the best part about being a Hunter is that not only do your bow and quiver automatically appear when you need them to, they also disappear when you don’t want them. It was so darn useful. I thought, then realized that if I asked around people might know just what I was supposed to do. Nico had mentioned to me once a hotel that Percy and him had heard about, The Lotus Hotel and Casino or something like that... I ran to the Poseidon cabin, hoping to find Percy. I was surprised at my luck, because there he was, cleaning out his cabin for inspections. I watched him for a moment in the open doorway before speaking up, "Hey, Percy?"

"Yeah?" he asked, turning from his cleaning to me. He must've heard me come in. No surprise for an ADHD mind.

"What's the Lotus Hotel and Casino?" I asked.

"Why do you ask that?" he replied. I could see him looking a bit cautious, wondering why I would be asking a random question like that out of the blue.

"Well, we have to go to this hotel or something believed to be Heaven and there's something like 'trapped by the lotus' or whatever so we need some help before we head out," I told him innocently. It was the truth, anyways.

He looked at me for a moment. "Were you sent on a quest?"

"Mmhmm."

"What did the Oracle tell you?" he asked. There was something about how he said it that made me think that the Oracle and this Rachel Elizabeth Dare girl were two different people.

I thought for a moment before reciting, "She said somethin' like, 'Searching for another of the seven in the hotel of illusion believed to be Heaven, Trapped by the Lotus, or saved by the God alone, the fates of these three shall be forever, far and wide, known."

"Try looking around Las Vegas," was all he said, sending me a warning look. "But be extremely careful once you reach the hotel."

I nodded and thanked him before I went outside. I turned to the Artemis cabin before nonchalantly opening the door and calling into the cabin as if it happened every day, “Thalia~! We’re going on an epic quest! See ya later if we survive!” I then closed the door before she could answer, and then we were all off, racing to the car.

I reached the car last, slipping into it just as Thalia opened the door of the Artemis cabin, staring at us, a look of anger on her face. I mouthed a ‘sorry’ to her before hopping into the car. Argus looked a bit weird with all of those eyes all over him, and I was embarrassed to be caught staring, so I forced myself to look out the window as he drove on. He was going to drop us off close to a car-rental place near the New York/New Jersey border.

Chapter Five - We Steal A Cool Car

We stood there, looking around at the different cars around the place, wondering just how the heck any of us were to afford these cars… Ari blinked, then looked at me for a moment before grinning. “Serenity, you’re about thirteen years old, right?”

I nodded. “Yeah…” I wondered just what he was thinking.

“Heheh. Then you should be able to play a lost little girl act while we sneak in and grab some keys,” Ari told me.

“I’m too old for that crap,” I retorted, glaring. But I was the youngest appearing in the group… I sighed inwardly as I realized it would be him that would win this argument if I started arguing.

“But you look just barely young enough to pass for a mature looking ten or nine year old,” Vivian agreed with Ari.

“Just shut up and grab the stupid keys,” I growled at them before rubbing at my eyes, just wondering why the heck I was gonna go through with this. I walked inside the place, sniffling as they went in the direction of the offices.

“E-excuse me, Sir?” I asked, sniffling, putting on the best helpless little girl act I could.

The guy looked at me, and I could tell something was wrong with this guy. His face was hidden by big glasses and a hat, only his nose and mouth showing. He was a very big guy, too.

“What is wrong, little girl?” He asked in a voice that made me creepily calm. I almost shuddered, but looked up at him innocently.

“I-I think I lost my mommy,” I told him, sniffling still, frowning helplessly. “C-could I use your phone? Please?’

“Of course. Just follow me to my office,” the big man told me.

I should’ve not followed the guy, but being stupid me, I did follow him anyways. He murmured comforting things to me that should have made me feel awkward, but actually made me feel like I really was taking comfort from his words. I should have been nervous about this, I should have been backing away by then, but we were soon in his office. There was only one thing separating us from Vivian and Ari, and that was the desk. Having heard us, they probably had hidden behind it.

But inside, I saw no phone. No phones whatsoever. There weren’t even any computers or anything. Just a clean little desk with a key on it. A big, old fashioned, rusty key.

I looked at the man questioningly. “Sir?"

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said soothingly, pushing me towards the inside of the office. I frowned as I realized now he was taking off his hat and glasses. I stared at the guy until they were off, staring in horror at what I saw. Instead of two eyes there, there was one single eye in the center of his face. It had a hungry kind of gaze as it stared at me, and I had a feeling it wasn’t hungry for any vegetables or tofu.

I stared, but he spoke in a strange, soothing voice before I realized it was Ari's voice. "Don't worry," he said in Ari's voice, "you'll be all right."

I couldn't resist it. All of a sudden I fell back into the chair, feeling weak yet calm and relaxed. The cyclops chuckled, moving closer to me, ready to make Serenity-styled-cyclops-food. Great. Juuuuust great.

Suddenly, I heard the sound of arrows, and an angry painful roar from Mr. One Eye. I smiled, blinking as I realized the cyclops was being shot by Vivian. Ari was making his way towards him with his sword, slashing at the ugly thing until it was finally dead. "Awesome!" I chirped, standing up and holding up my thumbs to them as one-eye disappeared into dust.

"What happened?" Ari asked, his dark eyes staring into mine.

I forced myself to meet his gaze, repeating my vow to Artemis over and over in my head, although I didn't need it. I sure did like Ari, but there was something about the love I felt for him that just could never be romantic. "He spoke in your voice, and it calmed me. I don't know why..."

Ari nodded, as if girls told him that every day. Vivian frowned but nodded, turning to me. "None of those cars had any gas in them. Ari broke into them all but none of them even worked enough for us to hotwire them."

"And the radios were all busted," Ari sighed. "Such a waste."

I nodded before turning to the desk, observing the key for a moment before picking it up and starting to search around the room. The two stared blankly at me for about a minute- which I found rather impressive for a mind diagnosed with ADHD- until Vivian finally asked, "What are you looking for, Serenity?"

"Just shut up and help me look around for something that could be opened up by a key. You know, like a lock," I simply said.

The three of us continued to look around the room, searching every corner and place. I sighed, sitting on the chair of the desk, looking at the floor before I noticed something near the leg of the table. I got off of the chair, sitting on the floor and looking at the leg of the table, running my hands across it, trailing my hands to the carpet. The square here was just barely different than the rest of the carpet, very hard to notice. I gently pried at the edges of the square until it came up, revealing a small lock. I looked at the square. It was maybe a foot on each side. I looked up. "Hey, Vivian, Ari, both of you come here and move this desk for me."

Vivian walked over to me, Ari following behind. "What are you talking about?" Vivian asked, looking at the floor. "You've already found the keyhole."

"But I want to see if there's anything else," I simply said, staring up at the two. "Now move the desk."

"Okay, okay," Ari said, grabbing onto the desk.

Vivian got on the other side, heping him to move it. I pulled the pen out of my pocket, uncapping it and turning it into a sword. I sliced at the carpet edges, making a larger area of no carpet. I simply tossed my sword to the floor, kneeling down and lifting up the carpet. I chuckled, seeing hinges. "See? It's a door." I unlocked the door before opening it and climbing in. Ari stood beside the door.

"What're you waiting for?" Vivian asked, "Go ahead."

"Ladies first," Ari said, chuckling at Vivian.

Vivian glared. "You're right, ladies first." She waited for Ari to get in.

"So are you saying you are a gentleman?" Ari laughed. Before Vivian could hit him, Ari jumped into the hole, expertly landing on his feet.

Vivian growled before getting into the small door as well. I chuckled. I could see pretty well in the dark, somehow, just something that had always been my special little talent. I could tell we were underground, and something about that thought made me feel right at home. I smiled, thinking, "Well, kids back in the dumb boarding school, how ya like me NOW? Huh? BETTER THAN ALL OF YOU NOW!"

It made me feel better to think that. I really did hate all of those dumb kids there. I looked around for a light switch before turning it on, immediately the rest of the underground cage being illuminated. I climbed back up to the entrance, snatching my pen and pocketing it. I then let myself drop back to the floor, taking a look around. There were a lot of cars under there. Ari was in a black and red sports car, a grin on his face. He obviously loved this one. "This one is awesome, and it's already got the keys in it and everything."

He gave me a pleading look. It was awesome that such a cute older boy was actually looking up to me for instructions... then again, it was me who had been sent on this quest. I shrugged, giggling. "Why not?"

He grinned, starting up the engine. "Okay, ladies, get in."

"I'm drivin'!" Vivian grinned.

"No," I said flatly. "I am." I apparently was suffering minor brain damage at that moment, because I had actually forgotten I was only thirteen. Then again... Vivian was only thirteen. Ari was the closest to driving age.

"I am driving and that is the final decision. I'm the closest to driving age, anyways," Ari said, sticking his tongue out childishly at us. "And I'm pretty sure I know how to drive at least."

"Fine. SHOTGUN!" I yelled out before Vivian could even say anything.

Vivian grumbled something under her breath before silently getting into the backseat and buckling up. I climbed into the passenger seat, chuckling as Ari drove around, looking for an exit. I blinked as something occured to me. "Hey, do either of you guys have a map?"

"Duh," Vivian sighed, pulling a map out of her pouch full of ambrosia. I took it from her without asking, she gave me an annoyed look that I ignored as I looked at the map.

"We're still in New York, right?" I asked them.

"We're in New Jersey," Ari answered, "But we're close to the border." He glanced at the map in my hands. "Where's the Lotus Hotel thing or whatever it was?"

I looked at the map and would've sweatdropped if I was an anime character. "Ahh... It's in... Las Vegas..."

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