Part of The Unforgiven Series.
Today I set out for my quest. I stood in front of the Big House with Chiron, my brother Michael, two of my friends Natalie and Kassi from Athena, and my half-sister and best friend Maria.
"Holy Zeus!" cried Chiron. "Today is the exact day that Luke set out for his quest, five years ago." Natalie hummed the Twilight Zone theme song. "And what else I remember," Chiron continued, "The day you came to camp was exactly one year after Luke left camp. The very day." Kassi whistled.
"He left the last day of camp?" I asked.
"Yes," mused Chiron. "A timed departure I must say!"
"Claire, are you sure you can do this alone?" Natalie asked.
"Yeah," Kassi echoed. "Luke barely escaped with his life, and he was you know...Luke."
"The best sword-fighter here in a century," I sighed. "I know."
"Just be careful!" Maria cried urgently. I nodded.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ I sat with Maria and Michael for lunch. I knew I would need my strength up, but I just wasn't hungry. After lunch, I waved good-bye to the people who had gathered at the base of the hill. I walked alone into the woods, which seemed much more menacing than ever before. I tried not to seem down as I thought of all my worries. Like surviving for example. All my friends had to worry about was Mr. D and cabin inspections.
"Claire, wait up!" someone called. I turned. It was Austin, one of my half-brothers. He was holding something bulky. "Here, this was delivered for you."
"What is it?" I asked excitedly.
"A gift," he replied. "A gift from lord Hermes."
"What's wrong?" he asked.
I found myself telling him the truth, which sounded pretty stupid coming out of my mouth. "I have a bad case of de ja vu," I answered lamely.
"Oh, um, okay," he said nervously. I could tell he thought I was nuts.
I edged away. "Well, I'll be going now," I said awkwardly.
"Oh! Yeah. Well, good-bye...sis."
"Bye," I said loftily. I crossed the green, lush, grass of camp. I thought sadly that this may be the last time I would smell the magic of the Golden Fleece, at least for a while. Out of habit, or whether some predestined action by the Fates, I traced my fingers on the bark of Thalia's tree. With a sudden longing for the outside world, I stepped over the border line for the first time in a year.
I stood there for about two seconds. Then I jumped back over the invisible line. "C'mon Claire, don't be such a wuss," I told myself. Slowly and deliberately, I stepped back out of camp. I unsheathed Sunblade. The blade shimmered in my hand. It seemed to glow. Now, here I was, a lonely girl in New York. That seems fairly normal. But I was also a demigod on a dangerous quest.
I bent down and replaced my white nike tennis shoes with the red converse with wings, my gift from Hermes, Luke's dad. It was time to try these puppies out.
"Maia!" I cried. The word had leapt to my lips. Of course I had already known what to say. My feet levitated a couple inches from the ground. I willed myself to go higher, and then farther. Soon I was traveling over Long Island beaches at a pretty fast pace. I felt reckless and on top of the world. I felt free and at peace, like I hadn't felt in a long time.
When I was tired and hungry, I settled down for the night in a patch of woods. I don't know where I was. I think I was still in New York. I took off my backpack and found an orange inside. The orange peel matched the shade of the setting sun.
I set up camp which consisted of my sleeping back inside a tent from Maria. The tent she said was a gift from Aphrodite, but she refused to tell me how she got it. The tent had an easy-bake oven, a sink, and a closet stuffed with beautiful clothes. Feeling stiff and tired, I lied down, yawned, and fell into a deep sleep.
In my dream, Kronos laughed at me. Somehow, I knew his terrible voice, as if I had heard it before. Weak little hero he taunted. I tossed and turned in my sleeping bag. Even after I was awake, I couldn't get his voice out of my head. Against my will, my eyes fluttered closed again. Suddenly, every limb of my body was free, and I was falling so fast that I couldn't breathe. There seemed to be no bottom of the pit in which I was falling. I screamed and flailed, and tried to stop the horrible free-falling. And then there was dark