"Wait up Claire!" Percy called. I rolled my eyes and kept walking. He caught up with me. "C'mon Claire. You have to go the Big House where Chiron and Mr. D will show you an orientation film and stuff." Reluctantly, I followed him. This was just wasting time. I really needed to talk to Michael.
It was late in the evening when I was able to go to the Apollo cabin. I walked in nervously. In front of crowds, I get shy. There were a lot of kids in here. Some turned to stare at me. "Lost?" a pretty blonde about my age asked. She had my same blue eyes.
"No, I'm the daughter of Apollo," I replied curtly. At the sound of my voice, a boy looked up. He had been sitting on the floor playing a card game with a friend. He was really short, had black hair, blue eyes, and looked a heck of a lot like me.
"Claire?" his voice cracked. I noticed it was deeper than the last time I'd seen him.
"Yeah," I said thickly. I stood there awkwardly. Could the rest of the kids just look away please? I was close to tears.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Mom is dead," I said and started sobbing.
"What do you mean, mom is dead?" Michael asked angrily. His nostrils flared and his eyes lit on fire.
"She was killed," I choked, trying unsuccessfully to stem the flow from my nose, "By Luke, the son of Hermes." I sniffed. "Now she's gone and I don't have f-family anym-more."
Michael's voice hardened. "I'm your brother. That's called family, Claire."
"Do you know," I cried, "that's you've been gone for two years? You never came back from camp! And its your fault now that Mom is dead! You could have p-p-protected us!" Michael wiped a tear from his own eye and steered me to an empty bunk.
"Go to sleep," he said. "You'll feel better in the morning." He turned and addressed the rest of the cabin. "And if anyone messes with my sister, they mess with me!" I mumbled something unintelligent. My words were slurred together like i was drunk, and I felt sleep sleep drop on me like a curtain closing. And then everything was black.
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I had a dreamless sleep. When I woke up, I found a map and a schedule of camp activities beside me. Since I could think of nothing better to do, I wondered off towards Zeus' fist where Apollo campers were practicing archery. I found Michael (and my----er, other siblings I guess) there also. Michael waved me over.
"Claire, I got you a bow and some arrows that you can use. The bow is made out of really fine wood from a--"
I cut him off. "Why does everyone think they need to help me? Just leave me alone, Michael!" I huffed off to stand next to the pretty blonde I had met last night.
"I'm Maria," she smiled. "And I guess I'm your sister."
"Guess so," I mumbled.
Another girl, slightly older and taller, but otherwise identical to Maria turned to look at me. "Hey, I'm Teresa. I'm also your sister," she laughed.
"How many siblings do I have?" I asked, slightly stunned.
"Seventeen," Maria stated. "I counted." She notched an arrow, aimed, and let it fly. It hit a tree on the opposite side of the river. I tried to hit the same target. The bow felt fine in my hand. I pulled the string back and watched the arrow's path. It was only about a centimeter off from where I had aimed. Smiling to myself and feeling the best I had in days, I shot again and again. Then I saw a sight that made my heart stop.
Luke was in the forest with an evil look on his face. There was another boy there. Percy. Percy took a step back. He looked scared.
"No!" I screamed. I struggled down the huge pile of rocks and ran as fast as I could toward the woods. "Nooo!"
Luke had raised his sword. I raised my bow. I shot an arrow and watched it soar. Just as it was about to hit Luke, Luke shimmered and was gone. So was Percy. It had only been the past. My arrow hit the giant pine tree instead.
"Hey, watch it," said a playful voice. It was Thalia, daughter of Zeus. "I'm still rather attached to this tree." She plucked my arrow from the tree and gave the bark. Thalia explained the whole story---how she had been turned into a tree while she protected Annabeth and Luke. I listened carefully.
"So you know Luke too?" I asked.
"Knew him," she said bitterly. "I think everyone here thought they knew him, and liked him. He was the head counselor for Hermes, was the best sword-fighter at this camp in a century, and was one of the few who ever came back from a quest alive." She paused and sighed. "And we were family. I loved him like a brother. We were on the run together for about a year. Me, Annabeth, and Luke." Her voice was not as serious anymore. "You know Annabeth," she said and laughed.
"I think we're sworn enemies," I admitted.
"Nah, you guys will be fine, I'm sure. Ananbeth doesn't like people when she first meets them, actually. When she first met me, she thought I was a monster," she looked around the forest. "What are you doing out here, anyway? I thought I heard screaming."
I blushed. "I was just walking. What were you doing?"
Thalia breathed deeply. "I like to sit here, right on the boundary line of camp. It makes me feel like a rebel. Dangerous, you know? And I look at the world outside, you know, the normal world. And sometimes I like to imagine how my life would be if I was a regular mortal." I wasn't one to ask deep questions or give advice, so I just nodded and listened.
"Claire!" a voice called through the trees. I recognized it as Michael's.
"Gotta go, Thalia," I said.
"You're a pretty cool kid, Claire. Train hard, kay?" She smiled and waved. I turned and started making my way back through the woods. At the river, I looked back. Thalia was sadly tracing her fingers along the bark of her tree.