Part of The Unforgiven Series .
It's been almost a year since I've come to camp. Nothing real dramatic has happened since that first terrible week, and I haven't died yet, so I feel like I've accomplished something. There are a couple things worth noting of my year:
A dragon named Peleus now guards the Golden Fleece. It doesn't allow me to come near or sit on the border line of camp.
The Hunters of Artemis came to camp during the winter. We lost a game of Capture the Flag to them, and they injured some campers, but I thought they were pretty cool.
Percy, Grover, Thalia, and some hunters went on a quest to save Annabeth and the goddess Artemis, who were both kidnapped. I remember the day they came back as clearly as I remember my own name. It was a beautiful day, no wind, but just a bit of crystal-white snow on the ground.
"Thalia!" I cried. One of my favorite people was coming over the hill. All the campers ran to her.
"Where is everyone else?" Chiron asked gravely. "Percy, Grover, and Zoe?"
"The quest was a success," Thalia answered. She sounded different, like she had some new authority. She also seemed older, but looked younger, and more...I don't know how to describe it. Well rested? Relaxed? At peace? "Zoe is in the stars now, but our lady Artemis and the camper Annabeth have been saved. I," she cleared her throat, "Am the new lieutenant for the Hunters of Artemis."
The hill got quiet. I broke the silence. "I wish to join as well!"
Thalia laughed, and she looked more like her old self. "Not yet, Claire. You're so young. You don't know what you want yet."
"I'm ten," I answered. "And I am ready to serve Artemis!" I exclaimed earnestly. I looked at Chiron expectantly. He said nothing.
"I will have to leave soon," Thalia answered. "I will go to my sisters." She sprinted off towards Cabin 8. I ran after her.
"Wait, Thalia!" I cried.
She stopped and turned. "Please," I gasped.
Thalia considered. She twisted a fringe of her black t-shirt in her fingers. "I'll come back," she promised.
"Soon," I commanded.
"In about a year's time. And if you still wish to join..."
"You'll let me." I answered. "Don't forget, Thalia."
She smiled. "I won't Claire. Fight some monsters for me?"
I grimaced. "Don't play it up. You'll be fighting more than I will." I waved, and walked to the Big House......
Also that year, Clarisse was sent on a top-secret mission. She returned with some crazy, unclaimed demigod.
Percy, Annabeth, Grover, and Percy's cyclops brother Tyson went through the Labyrinth as a quest. They needed to find Ariadne's magic string before Luke could. All year, we'd been preparing for battle.
I was woken from my daydream by a conch horn that blew in the distance. I was sitting on my bunk in my cabin. Our cabin dressed in armor as quickly as we could and raced to the dinner pavilion. We'd been on-call for weeks.
"Get ready," Chiron announced. "We may have less than an hour." Everybody scrambled to talk strategy for the last time, or to sharpen their swords. Michael held me back.
"Claire," he said uncomfortably. "I don't know how to tell you this, but I don't want you to fight."
"What?" I gasped.
"Claire, just stay in the cabin. Please?" Michael begged.
"What? No! I need to fight!" I exclaimed, outraged.
"No," Michael replied. "You're too young."
"No I'm not! I'm eleven!" I protested. That was very mature for a demigod. "You and me have more god blood here than anyone else, Michael." I insisted. "Maybe we're not as powerful as the kids of the Big Three, but still. Come on! I've trained so hard for this!"
"No," Michael said firmly.
"I won't be in the front line!" I said earnestly. "I'll be an archer from the woods or throw javelins from the forest! I'll stay out of trouble."
Michael snorted. "Yeah right." His face turned serious. "Stay here for me, Claire. For mom."
"But I'm ready." I paused for drama. "I'm going to fight, and you can't stop me."
Well apparently, he could stop me.
I was forced to stay in the cabin with Maria, who was too scared to fight. Well actually, she was terrified, stressed out, and balling her eyes out under her bed. We listened to horrible clashes, clangs, screams, yells......The fight seemed hours.....
"Let me tell you how proud I am of all of you who defended our camp," Chiron announced. "But we must not congratulate ourselves too heartily, for more danger is in our midst. And now, most importantly, we must honor those great heroes that died today."
The funeral pyre was lit as we sat around, crying, and singing. The camp was filled with tears. My oldest brother Lee has been killed by one of Kronos' giants. My friend Leanne from Demeter had also gone down fighting. I was angry. I wanted revenge. I could have been out there, could've stopped this. It was the worst night of camp ever.
Soon it was the last day of camp. Everyone was still sad, but coping. Michael had been elected as senior counselor for Apollo.
I was not happy. For Michael yes. For me? Not really. Percy, Annabeth, and Grover had retold their whole story of the quest. The part that troubled me was how Luke's body had been laying in the cabin and possessed by Kronos. What dark magic was at work?
My vision was cloudy. I couldn't see anyone's past no matter how hard I tried. I could concentrate until I was blue in the face. Nothing.
"It's just trama," Maria suggested when I told her. "But you should be fine. I mean, seeing the past isn't normal anyway." That didn't exactly help.
I marched up to Chiron. "Claire," she said surprised.
"I need a quest. My vision is blurred, and I know it has something to do with Luke," I said.
"Claire, you're very young to be on a quest," Chiron warned.
"I've been at camp for a year and a half. I've trained hard. And I know there's something important that I have to do." I took a deep breath. "I need to find out how Luke's body was prepared. It might be the only way to beat Kronos."
Chiron nodded seriously. "And how do you plan on doing this?"
The answer sprang to my lips immediately. "I will retrace Luke's steps. I'll start with the Garden of the Hespirides."
"You may consult the Oracle and bring two companions," Chiron instructed me.
I smiled because I knew he trusted me. "No companions," I said. "I have to do this on my own, just like Luke did."
Chiron shook his head. "That is far too dangerous. I would never allow it."
I shrugged. "I'll go consult the Oracle." I flounced off.
Let me tell you, the attic of the Big House is a creepy place. That's where the Oracle
lives, um, is. I say it that way because its a mummy. A dead mummy. (Is there any other kind?)
I'd only heard of the Oracle before, and its not a popular conversation topic. Now I knew why. I stared at the Mummy. Then green smoke came from the mouth and eyes of the thing, and it engulfed the entire room. I saw in my mind a beautiful garden. Four young maidens were standing at the gate. They all had glossy black hair and dark eyes. The first one looked at me and spoke.
"The Garden of the Sunset you will penetrate."
The second one turned to me.
"You will bear a mark once you leave through the gate."
The third sister stared blankly ahead at me, as if indifferent, or as if she were pretending I wasn't there.
"You shall be lucky enough to return from the quest."
The fourth and last sister spoke with sympathy in her voice as she delivered the last line.
"And realize your journey was only a test."
The Mist shimmered and disappeared. Slowly, I opened the trapdoor and descended the ladder.
"Well?" Chiron asked urgently. "What did the Oracle say?"
I repeated my prophecy to him. He stroked his beard and said nothing.
"It's settled then," I said. "I'll get packing."
"WHAT?" Michael shouted.
"I'm going on a quest," I repeated.
"Let me come," he insisted.
"No. It's my quest, and I'm going alone." I drew myself up to my full height, which wasn't much.
"What? That's suicide," Michael snorted.
"My prophecy says I'll return alive," I told him.
"Prophecies always mean something else. They have double meanings."
"How many meanings does, You shall be lucky enough to return from the quest have Michael?" I demanded.
"Fine. You win," he admitted.
"I do?" I asked surprised. This was so unlike him.
"For now," he mused. I punched hims playfully on the shoulder.
"Thanks," I said. "Do you wanna help me pack?"