Hercules? No, Fantasia!
"Watch out!" Cooper shouted and the monster spun his head, his eyes setting on the older demigod. Sebastian was not sure what now.
Should he let the Minotaur get Cooper?It was really a tough decision for him. The one that broke his brother's heart was standing in front of him, absolutely defenseless. He could let the monster have him and made him by Info"> pay for what he did for his brother. All he needed was to do nothing. He could just do that…
But then he remembered a conversation he had with Julian, in the past.
It was during his years in Paris. Julian was in his final year of college and 4 years since the tragic ending of his and Cooper's relationship. They were on skype, talking about domestic things, brotherly things and most important of all, how much they missed each other. They could have carried on for a week but Julian had a project to finish and Sebastian needed to revise for his finals. Before they ended the conversation though, Sebastian asked a question, because he wanted to know, wanted to know the answer that had been troubling his heart.
"Jules? Do you ever regret meeting Cooper?"
His brother said nothing, like that question had somehow turned off his brain. After a while, he snapped out of the lingering silence and gave Sebastian a sad little smile.
"No, never ever…"
The two brothers just looked at each other as the elder Smythe flashed his little brother another sad smile.
"You did love Cooper, didn't you?"
Another moment of silence hung between the brothers.
"Yeah… I do."
It took Sebastian a while after they logged off, and realized that Julian said 'do' instead of 'did'.
Even Cooper broke his heart, after all these years, with all the unstoppable pain, sorrow and grief, Julian Smythe still loved Cooper Anderson.
His memory then brought him to the moment when Julian last talked to him before they came here.
"I appreciate how you care for me. But Sebastian, it is not okay to vent your anger and frustration to other innocents. Isaac and Loretta are responsible for this but not Blaine, not Cooper. And remember this: We are much better than those jerks outside. Don't lower yourself to the same level as them."
And he knew what he needed to do.
Sebastian leaped and ran towards the monster which let out another roar. He jumped and pushed the monster onto the ground.
"Out of the way!" Sebastian yelled at Cooper as the bull-man grabbed onto his leg and flung him through the air like a ragged doll. He banged against a tree and slumped down, the broken horn rolled away from his grip. But seconds later, he got up again, preparing to fight with the monster for one more round.
The monster bellowed and charged at him. Sebastian leaped again and landed on its back. Wasting no time, he turned and struck his sword down with both of his hands. The metallic blade came in from its back and ran through its rib cage until the tip of the sword got out from the other side. The monster let out an agony cry as he collapsed onto its knees. Its fur and skin started peeling off and turning into dust. Within 10 seconds, the entire monster disintegrated into a pile of brown dust.
No one had uttered a voice, Sebastian panted heavily as he drove his sword into the ground. His legs were shaking so violently they could not support his weight anymore. The rage that had been running freely in his veins went out and the adrenaline rush ebbed. All the injuries and fatigues caught up and Sebastian leaned heavily onto his sword for support. There's also one thing that caught up in his mind: his brother.
He saw his brother being stabbed by the horns of Minotaur before he vanished in a flash of golden light. He wasn't sure where his brother was now but with all those injuries, the chance Julian could make it was unbelievably slim. He's as good as dead. That's it. The last and only blood relative that cared for him was gone. He was truly alone. Tears welled up in Sebastian's eyes as he curled his hands tightly around the sword's hilt, mourning for his brother. Then, someone patted on his back. He turned and saw Emily's concerned and sad stormy grey eyes and her straight blonde hair. She engulfed him in a warm comforting hug as he slipped into unconsciousness.
Sebastian had been caught between waking up and passing out. He could hear people talking but their voices all seemed to be muffled, like they were talking with a thick blanket on their mouths. He could also feel that he was now placed on a bed with a soft mattress with someone gently cleaning his face and spoon-feeding him a pudding with cookies and vanilla cream flavour.
One time he managed to stay awake for 30 seconds, his out focused eyes saw a someone, a man, looking after him. He was sitting next to him, feeding him the pudding and gently scraped drips off his chin with the spoon.
"Jules?" He croaked. The figure froze and gently whispered something to his ear.
"It's okay. You're safe now, you're safe now."
Before Sebastian could say something more, he lost contact to consciousness again.
When he finally came back to the living world, he was alone. He was in a room with a nice view to the field and the sea. The wind blew in, carrying the scent of seawater and different plants. A cup of tea-like drink was placed on a table next to him. Sebastian tried to get the cup as his mouth cavity was dry like the land baking under the ferocious African sun. Easier said than done, his body was still weak.
The door opened and Emily came in with a basin of water. Seeing him awake, she smiled.
"You're awake!" She hurried to his side, put down the basin and handed him the cup of drink. Helping him to hold the glass, she gently put the straw to his lips. The first taste of the drink made his tears well up. Sebastian had been expecting the slightly bitterness of tea but what flooded his mouth tasted like a liquid version of chocolate and cream puff, the very same one that Julian made him as a reward when he got praised at school or performed well. He could almost see Julian's fond, caring smile as he drained the cup. The drink gave him a new pool of energy and all his physical pains somehow disappeared. However, the emotional pain, the guilt and sorrow didn't get away. Emily must have seen it because her face turned sad, Sebastian looked down, not willing to show any signs of weakness. He did not want pity from anyone.
"How do you feel?"
"Like I could dislocate Finn Hudson's jaw with my hand."
She didn't look like she's happy with the answer but decided to let it drop.
"How much do you remember? Do you remember me?"
"You are Emily Santia, the daughter of Athena. And…" He paused as he faced the inevitable.
"My brother… Is he…" Sebastian asked.
Emily looked mournful.
"I honestly don't know…" She whispered. "But at least you're safe, that's what he had always wanted. And this maybe something you wanted…"
She handed him an old blue box. Inside was a bull's horn, sharp as the blade. The base was rugged from a violent tearing. The tips were splattered with dried blood.
The blood of Julian Smythe.
Sebastian could hold no longer, he dropped the box as his hands started shaking uncontrollably. Tears started overflowing his eye sockets and he started sobbing. Emily engulfed him in a hug, gently rubbing his back as she cried in silent too. She had just met the brothers but she had already grown fond of them. She admired their close relationship and how much they cared for each other. Now, one of them was gone, leaving a broken young soul behind, mourning for his loss.
"What about the others?" Sebastian asked quietly when he finally calmed down. "Teddy? William? And… Cooper?"
"Teddy and William are all fine, a bit bruised but they have been through worse." Emily soothed but her expression turned sad. "Cooper… I last saw him when we reported to Chiron and Mr. D after we brought you to the camp, which was already four days ago. Then I have never seen him again… But Alice told me that he had been locking himself inside his room. No one knew what he was doing but Alice and the rest of the Aphrodite's cabin all heard him crying in the night."
Sebastian said nothing. He was still not sure what to think about the older Anderson. Emily just patted him on the shoulder.
"Are you good enough to walk?"
"I think so."
"Good. Chiron and Mr. D are waiting. I will take you there." The blonde gently helped Sebastian to get to his feet and led him out of the room and down the porch. During all this time, Sebastian held onto the horn tightly, so tight that he could feel the bone was pressing against his chest. Looking up, he could finally have a good look to the camp that his brother, Principal Carmichael, Liza and the group had been talking about.
The camp was located on the southern shore of Long Island, close to its tip because he could see the lighthouse far away, in a U-shaped valley and a fan-shaped beach extended into the Atlantic. The valley itself was surrounded by a forest on the outskirt which was gradually replaced by grassland when moved towards the shoreline and the centre of the valley. Several creeks and rivers flowed through the site and small ponds and lakes were dotted in the valley. There were also buildings in ancient Greek style, an amphitheatre, a circular arena, an open-air pavilion with all brand-new white marble as their foundations. There were more structures in the site but Sebastian could not see them clearly because Emily urged him to go on.
At the end of the porch, under a shadow of a maple tree, sat two men around a square table. None of them were speaking so Sebastian wondered if that's a good time.
"The one on the left is Mr. D, our camp director. Be polite." Emily whispered to Sebastian's ear as she nodded at a small man with short curly black hair and purple tips. He wore a white shirt, with a purple vest on the outside, a tiger-patterned blanket rested on his legs.
"And the other one is Chiron." Emily nodded at a middle-aged man but what caught Sebastian's attention was the man's lower part of the body. It was a brown horse trunk. The four strong legs were bent into a comforting angle so this Chiron could be on the same height level of Mr. D. He wore a tweed purplish red jacket with thick brown hair and beard.
"Mr. D, Chiron. Sebastian Smythe." She introduced and Chiron first turned to greet the younger Smythe with a warm smile.
"Ah… Sebastian Smythe. I have been waiting for you." His voice was filled with wisdom and mysteries.
Emily put down a chair so Sebastian could sit down. Mr. D turned to look at him with bloodshot eyes and a sleepy look. Now, that look… Sebastian felt he had seen that somewhere.
"Alright, I think I need to say this. Welcome to Camp Epineio. Blah, blah, blah."
The camp director burped and Sebastian could clearly smell his breath, like alcohol. Wait… alcohol. That's the answer.
"You're Teddy's father." Sebastian blurted out. Emily and Chiron widened their eyes.
"Ooh… So the new comer had figured me out already. Who am I then? Just so you know, no prize for the right guess."
"You're Dionysus, the God of wine." Sebastian said after racking his brain for the answer.
"Well, what do they say for this? Wall-nut?" Mr. D said tiredly while Emily turned away, trying not to laugh at the god's accent.
"It's well done." Chiron replied calmly.
"Ugh, whatever. Well done, young one."
Sebastian was still looking at Mr. D and the God frowned.
"What are you looking at?" The wine god asked impatiently.
"Well… you… you look different." Sebastian said and Emily choked on her breath.
Suddenly, the black pupils of Dionysus's eyes turned into a purplish fire. Sebastian gulped, hoping that he was not angering the first god that he met and would probably stay by his side for who knew how long.
"And what are you comparing me to, young one." Mr. D said in a threatening tone. Next to him, Sebastian could hear Emily silently muttering.
"Not the movie that begins with an H. Not the movie that begins with an H. Not the movie that begins with an H."
"Movie begins with an H?" Sebastian asked in confusion. "You mean 'Hercules' from Disney?"
Both Emily and Chiron gasped as the purplish fire in wine god's eyes flared up dramatically.
"No, that's not what I'm thinking. It's still a Disney movie, but not 'Hercules'."
Chiron and Emily let out a breath and the purplish fire dimmed down a little.
"Then what?" The god asked grumpily.
"'Fantasia', the old one, made in 1940. You were having a wild wine party with a bunch of satyrs, centaurs and unicorns until Zeus interrupted it by throwing his lightning bolts at you."
Thunders suddenly cracked, startling everyone as they looked at the sky. Dionysus just looked at Sebastian in a calculating way.
"Well, that's something new." He finally said. "95% of the new comers compared me to that stupid movie. I still don't like how they portrayed me as a fat, silly dude who couldn't even walk a straight line, but it's still much better than the H-thing."
"Well, I'm tired anyway." Mr. D yawned as he got up. "I think I'll take a nap first. Chiron, you know what to do. And you, Sean Smith. Mind your manners."
He disappeared into a room nearby and only then Emily and Chiron finally relaxed.
"For the love of the gods, that was close." Chiron said, taking a sip of his coffee.
"I think he is going to turn you into a grape vine! You gave us quite a scare." Emily said, patting on her chest.
"What's wrong with the movie 'Hercules'?" Sebastian asked.
"Let's just say all the Olympians, both major and minor, have never liked it, from the plot setting to how the gods are portrayed." The Centaur said as more thunder rumbled. "Emily, my dear, I think showing the newcomer around won't be a problem to you, I guess?"
"Good, now if you'll excuse me, I need to check on his bunk first. Cabin eleven for now. And Sebastian, make yourself home here."
Sebastian really wanted to yell, it would be impossible for him to find a 'home' anymore because his home was where his heart was, and his heart was with his brother who was gone, but he said nothing, just watching in silence as the centaur left. Emily approached him.
"You're good to go?" She asked gently.
Turned out, the place that Sebastian had been staying, or the Big House as they called, was served as their main quarter and the only building that was built in a typical camping house style instead of Ancient Greek style. It was four storeys tall with a comfortable light brown colour and white trims. Vines of plants were coiling around some of the columns, giving it a very natural aura.
The two passed the sports field which was filled with people playing different kinds of sports, some played on their own; some played with satyrs. About three quarters of the campers were roughly the same age or older than him. As they walked by, some of them noticed Sebastian and stopped what they were doing. Some were whispering and pointing at him but thankfully Emily shielded Sebastian at her best. They walked by an area filled with different kinds of fruit. According to Emily, these gardening and agricultural products were covered the expenses of the camp. In the field, a satyr was sitting on a rock, playing his flute with a relaxing tone while five beautiful girls were inspecting and picking the ripped ones. The one with long blonde hair was playing with a butterfly with her companion, who had a long shinning brown hair. The other three just shook their head fondly. Then one of them, a cheerful woman with a Chinese and Cherokee heritage saw them and she waved. Thinking that it would be rude if he didn't give any response, Sebastian waved back and started to blush as he heard the other four girls noticed him and waved at him.
"It seems you've already getting the girls' attention with your charm." Emily said in an amused tone. She chuckled as Sebastian blushed even more.
"The one that started waving at you is Linda, daughter of Demeter. The two that stood beside her are Shawna, Hecate's daughter, and Lisa, Hermes's child. The African-American with short curly black hair is Shawna and the Caucasian with brown hair is Lisa. The remaining two are Caitlin and Felicity, both are my maternal half-sisters. The blonde is Felicity and the other one is Caitlin." Emily introduced.
"Hey, Em! Who is that cutie next to you?" Felicity called from the field and Sebastian's face got even redder and he looked away. The girls started giggling as they approached them.
"Oh, look at him! He's so adorable!" Linda said.
"Look at his deep sea-green eyes, it's so beautiful, like the finest emerald." Lisa appraised.
"Aww… He's blushing! How cute!" Shawna laughed.
"Oh man…" Sebastian whispered, his face redder than a tomato.
"Oh my god! His voice is so good! I bet he is a fantastic singer." Caitlin said.
"Ladies, leave the poor young lad alone. And where's Alice? You six usually come as a group." Emily said, though she was trying not to laugh at Sebastian's situation.
"She's at her cabin, checking on Cooper." Shawna said and Sebastian stiffened. He hurriedly excused himself and walked down the path, leaving the girls confused, except Emily.
"Well, he and Cooper have some histories and from what happened a few days ago, he's not yet ready to open up his heart." Emily sighed and the girls fell silent. They had witnessed what had happened and they all felt sorry for him.
"That's okay. We'll look after him like he's our own brother." Caitlin said with the other girls nodded in agreement.
"Okay, I'll see you later then. Have fun." Emily said as she ran to follow Sebastian. She found him sitting on the shore of the camp's largest lake where the campers practiced all kinds of water sports except swimming, his eyes gazed into the far end of the horizon. He looked so lost and sad and deflated. Sighing in sympathy, she sat down next to him.
"You know, I'll always be there for you. The same goes to Teddy, William and Cooper. You're not alone." She quietly said.
"Why should you?" It sounded harsher than Sebastian intended to. "I mean, you're not related to me and you have just known me for a day."
"There shouldn't be a reason for someone to care for the others. We're not trying to replace your brother, but making you feel better is the very least thing we can do. We care about you, Sebastian. We care."
Taking a deep breath, Sebastian calmed himself down.
"Thanks." He said and they started talking, about Sebastian's interests, inevitably, they had to talk about Julian as he played an essential role in Sebastian's past. However, knowing that he was not alone really helped. Sebastian felt the pain on his shoulders lessened. They also talked about his feud with the Andersons and Cooper's part in it.
"I really want to blame him after this, after my brother… disappeared…" Sebastian whispered. "But I know it won't be fair. He couldn't control what happened back then."
"I know… Seb, I know…" Emily whispered back quietly. "So are you ready to go? We still have a lot of things to explore."
"So where do you want to go first?"
"How about we walk along the river into the woods, and then walk along the shore?" Sebastian suggested.
"That's good." Emily smiled as they crossed a bridge over the river.
Sebastian had the first glimpse of the forest when he was in the Big House, but he didn't realize how huge it was when they walked closer. It seemed the place had been untouched since the last Ice Age. The trees rose more than 100 metres, straight towards the sky. Their trunks' diameters were so large that it would take more than 20 people to encircle it. Thick vines could be seen in the higher place. The tree crowns were so thick that most of the sunlight was blocked out. The river quietly flowed beneath the lush green canopies.
"Hah… That's refreshing." Sebastian said as he took a deep breath of pristine air of the forest. He gently kicked the fallen leaves on the ground as he listened to the soft flow of river nearby. They had been like this for the past two hours.
"You really love this place."
"Yes, I love being closed to nature, especially a forest with a river and the seashore. They give me a sense of serenity. And…"
"Promise me that you won't let the others know."
"I can sing my hearts out without people picking on me."
"Oh, I see." Emily said as they stopped by a bend of river. "I kind of have guessed it. You're in the Warblers, aren't you?"
"Yes and I really love singing." A soft breeze blew by and Sebastian started humming a melody. He stopped when he remembered Emily was nearby.
"You can sing whenever you want, no one can hear you here and I'm not gonna judge." She encouraged him with a smile. Blushing slightly, Sebastian started singing.
I don't know if You can hear me
Or if You're even there.
I don't know if You will listen
To a humble prayer.
They tell me I'm just an outcast;
I shouldn't speak to You.
Still I see Your face and wonder:
Were You once an outcast too?
Sebastian started walking along the leaves-paved path, singing beautifully all the way with Emily following him behind.
God help the outcasts
Hungry from birth.
Show them the mercy
They don't find on earth.
The lost and forgotten,
They look to You still.
God help the outcasts
Or nobody will.
He leaned against a tree and continued to sing as he looked up at the sky through the openings between the trees.
I ask for nothing,
I can get by.
But I know so many
Less lucky than I.
God help the outcasts,
The poor and downtrod.
I thought we all were
The children of God.
They reached the shore where the trees got replaced by fine white sand as the Atlantic Ocean gently crashed ashore.
I don't know if there's a reason
Why some are blessed, some not.
Why the few You seem to favour,
They fear us, flee us,
Try not to see us?
God help the outcasts,
The tattered, the torn,
Seeking an answer
To why they were born.
Winds of misfortune
Have blown them about.
You made the outcasts;
Don't cast them out.
The poor and unlucky,
The weak and the odd,
I thought we all were
The children of God.
Sebastian pure voice got carried in the wind and it seemed it could reach the highest corner of heaven and reached the deepest part of the sea. Emily was really touched by his voice. For the past two and a half minutes, Sebastian had shown the world how beautiful his soul was, how much power he had.
"That's… I have never heard something beautiful like that." She whispered.
"Thanks, but please don't let the others know."
"Why? You have an awesome voice that could rival some Apollo's kids." Emily said as they walked along the shore. Staring into the water, Sebastian wanted to touch the water, he yearned for the feel of water on his skin, the way the molecules penetrated his skin via the pores. What he didn't expect was to see a group of women, mostly teenage girls, lying or sitting in the water, pointing, smiling and waving at him.
"They are the Nereids. Like the other nymphs in the camp, they are really kind and helpful and can be very good friends, just make sure you don't flirt with them." Emily smiled.
"Uh… That's not gonna happen… I'm not attracted to girls anyway." Sebastian muttered.
"Yeah, got a problem?"
"No." Emily said with a slight smile on her face. "I just wonder how many hearts will break when the girls hear this news. We don't judge you because of your sexuality so you don't need to hide who you are."
Sebastian smiled, the first real smile he had in more than 5 years. Emily then told them that this part of the forest, the southern part of it, was safe for strolling and picnic while the northern part of the forest was used for training purpose and was stocked with tamed monsters.
"How do we exactly train?" Sebastian asked as they walked back from the shore and the cheerful Nereids.
"With shields and swords, of course. Not always a sword, it could be a spear or chain or arrows or dagger or something like that. But I guess you're gonna use a sword. So what remains is the shield, I will let you pick one when we're go by the armoury. In case none of the shields suit you we can always order one from the forge nearby." Emily said as she pointed at a shop on the opposite bank of the river. A black house made of iron was sitting next to it and was emitting white smoke in the chimneys. I guess you have already known the basic. After all you have fought two monsters already."
"Yeah…" Sebastian grumbled.
"Sorry, I don't mean to mention that." Emily quickly apologized. "Anyway, the river kinds of separate the learning and training area from the living and leisure area: The east bank is living and leisure area while the west end is the learning and training area. The stables, the learning rooms, the arena, the armoury and the forge are all on the western banks while the cabins, the mess hall, the climbing wall, the amphitheatre and the sports ground are all on the east."
"And this is the mess hall." Emily said as they reached a vacant plaza, with a dozen of tables like the one Sebastian saw in Harry Potter movies, except they were all made from marble. They were arranged in a U shape with a long table sat on the end of the U. A huge fireplace was located in the centre. The entire was unsheltered, no wall, no roof.
"There's a magical veil hanging over it so we won't get drenched in case it's raining or snowing." Emily explained as they walked to a more quiet area. "And this is the living area, the toilets and showers are located in the end, see the building in grey marble? That's the one. But each cabin has its own toilets and showers, so not many people will use the public one."
The cabins were located between the river and the southern forest. Like the mess hall, they were arranged in a U shape with an enormous burning hearth in the centre. Two of the cabins were located at the base, backing against the forest, and five in a curve on either side. Each of them had their own unique building style. The only thing that all appeared on the twelve cabins were the large brass number above the double door panels and on the wall. The left was all odd numbers while the right was all even numbers. The common area was roughly the size of a football field dotted with statues, mainly Greek gods, fountains, flower beds, benches and some fish ponds. The entire place was very quiet, only the cracking of fire and chipping of birds could be heard.
"Let's take a look, shall we?" Emily said as they walked towards the houses. Sebastian then noticed someone, a girl about 12 years old was sitting on the stone-lining of the hearth, poking the burning coals with a stick and occasionally throwing some new coals to the fire. He wanted to ask Emily who the girl was but then she suddenly disappeared. Sebastian thought his eyes were playing tricks on him but he decided to drop the topic. The last time he asked the others about something like that, the result was not pleasant at all.
"Hey, you okay?" Emily called and Sebastian shook his head.
"I'm fine, just a bit zoned out."
They were now standing in front of cabin twelve which looked like a winery with a vineyard as their backyard. Grape vines were coiling around the columns and their window and door curtains and door mats were all made of tiger patterned cloth. Several oak barrels were placed at the corner. A large brass number 12 was marked on the eaves inside a wine glass surrounded by ripe purple grapes and dancing satyrs.
"Dionysus's cabin?" Sebastian asked.
"Yup. I wonder if Teddy is in there."
"No, he's not." A new voice piped up and the two turned. They saw a beautiful African-American with skin as smooth as the finest chocolate and long dark brown hair. Her light brown eyes were sparkling with self-confidence while her light pink dress was swaying gently in the breeze.
"Alice. How are you?" Emily greeted happily as the two girls hugged.
"I'm fine, thank you." The girl, Alice smiled and then noticed Sebastian's presence. "Oh, hi."
"This is Sebastian Smythe, the newest camper. Sebastian, this is Alice West."
"Uhm… Hi?" Sebastian greeted awkwardly.
"Oh he's so cute." Alice just giggled.
"She's sometimes like that, that's a trace of Aphrodite's daughters." Emily explained with a fond smile.
"So are you guys touring the cabins?" Alice asked. "I can show you my cabin, if you don't mind."
"Well… I guess it is okay…" Sebastian agreed, slightly blushing. "But just so you know, I don't swing that way."
"Aww… I wonder how many hearts will break when they hear that." Alice said and Emily just laughed.
"And I said exactly the same thing."
"But on the plus side, we can talk about cute boys together." Alice said excitedly as they walked towards cabin ten, Aphrodite's cabin.
Cabin ten was perhaps the most fanciest among the entire camp. Light sea blue walls and white sparkling marble columns with fragrant pink curtains. The walls were decorated with paintings of mirrors and red roses. Some real red roses were also placed in pots, lining up on the marble fences. On the roof, a pretty brass number 10 was placed within a white shell made of marble with a heart shape made from two swans surrounded it.
"So this is my cabin. There are a lot of hot boys in it. There must be some of your type in this school of fish. Oh by the way, they will also hit on you because you're a cutie and a hottie, so don't get surprised if they flirt with you." Alice winked as she opened the door. Immediately, an intense smell of perfume hit them, making Sebastian to frown. The walls of the common area were painted with two colours, the right was pink and the left was blue. A mini fountain was located at the back of the cabin. Two sets of fancy lockers occupied the walls next to the main door. Each one had a name painted on it. The remaining walls were decorated with famous and attractive Hollywood movie stars and singers or just some random hot men or women. Several coaches of different lengths were arranged in a way that they were facing the fountain.
"So the left side is for the boys while the right side is for the girls." Alice introduced as they stopped by the fountain. "The washing basins and showers were located at the end of the sleeping area. Don't wash your hands or any parts of your body with the fountain's water or you'll get burned. The boys cannot go to the girls' area without permission but the girls can go to the boys' area at free will. Each camper will have their own room, single bed, in-suite bathroom, a mini-common area and a mini equipped pantry. That's universal for all the cabins, the difference are-"
Sebastian yelped in surprise as someone smacked his ass. Spinning around he saw a blonde male, who looked like Matt Donovan in "The Vampire Diaries" winked at him and blew a kiss. Normally, it was Sebastian who did all those flirty works and he was totally cool with it, but now he was not in the mood to wear his flirtatious masks. Some giggles and snickers rang in the common area as some girls and a few boys gathered at the door. They were all winking or catcalling or whistling at him. Some were fanning themselves and throwing all the hints.
"Lucas!" Alice scolded. "Don't scare him!"
"Aww, come on. Alice." The blonde, Lucas, pouted. "You know he's totally my type."
"And 10 minutes ago, you told us that the one that sang with this beautiful voice outside was your dream man." A Latino who looked like Tyler Lockwood snorted as he circled his arm around the waist of another young man that looked like Jeremy Gilbert. Emily and Sebastian widened their eyes and bit on their lips. No one noticed that, except Alice. She widened her eyes as she looked at the younger Smythe. He was trying his best to tell her not to tell anyone via his eyes.
The boys and the girls then started debating what would be Sebastian's type, much to the embarrassment of the boy and the annoyance of Alice and Emily. But then, Sebastian felt someone touched his chin from behind.
"Well, well, well. Look what we have here… A newbie, a hot, cute newbie." A flirty, no, a slutty voice rang. Immediately, the boys ran back to their area and slammed the doors closed. The girls were all glaring at the new comer.
"How about we have some time, just the two of us?" A girl with blue eyes and a waist-length blond curly hair that was obviously dyed whispered within a very uncomfortable distance.
"Sloane, what are you doing here?" Alice hissed as Emily face-palmed and groaned in annoyance. "You're supposed to check on Coo-"
"Piss off, black princess." The blonde said in disdain like Alice was some dirt beneath her feet.
"Sloane!" Alice snapped. "We have all reached an agreement we will look after Cooper until he came out from his room! Today it's your turn!"
"And I said piss off!" Sloane snapped. "Why don't you wear some skin whitening so people won't bump into you during the night?"
She turned back to Sebastian and continued her flirt.
"So before I'm so rudely interrupted, what do you think about my offer? Would you have a hot night with me rather than hanging out with these losers?"
"Sloane! I'm warning you!" Alice snapped.
"Go back to Africa, will you?" Sloane screeched and Sebastian felt his anger flared up, he didn't like this Sloane. And from his observation, none of her sisters and brothers liked her too.
"Get your hands off me." He began coldly. "And apologize to Alice."
Sloane looked shocked. Did this boy just turn her down?
"I think you heard me. But since you seemed to be unable to understand this simple statement so I will explain it to you: You can chuck your little fantasy into the trash bin because it will never happen." Sebastian said calmly as he freed his hands from Sloane's grip. "Racists and I are mutually exclusive and I don't swing that way."
"Oh… So you're a fairy then." Sloane leant in again. "Well, I can turn people straight and you're gonna be one too."
She touched his arms again.
"Let go." Sebastian said in a calm but threatening tone. "And I hate homophobes to no end too."
"Come on. I can straighten-"
"I said let GO!" Sebastian finally snapped and a wave roared in his ears.
Suddenly, the water from the fountain welled up and hit Sloane straight on the face. She fell onto her butt screaming as she rubbed her face. When she lowered her hands and saw her make-up ruined, her face started to feel burnt. She snarled and lunged at Sebastian. The water from the fountain shot out and hit her again, this time it ruined her clothes. Holes started to appear on the fabric like it was not hit by water but by strong acid instead. The skin area exposed to the water started to redden and blisters started popping up like bamboo shoot after a spring rain.
"What's happening here?" A voice demanded and Sloane stopped her advance. Alice, Emily and Sebastian turned to see Cooper standing by the door of the boys' area. He looked a bit thinner and paler than Sebastian last saw him. His hair was messier and longer and his beards got longer.
"This bastard started it!" Sloane screamed. The other girls and boys were laughing at her expense silently.
"Excuse me?!" Alice shouted angrily. "It was YOU who started hitting on him, despite the fact that he had already said no! Then you went all racist and homophobic. So the responsibility is not on him, it is all on you! YOU!"
"No one asks you! You s-"
"Sloane!" Cooper scolded. "Apologize! Now!"
"Why should I-" Her sentence was cut off by a glare from both Cooper and Emily.
"Fine, sorry." She apologized reluctantly to Alice. Sebastian snorted at her insincerity. She glared at him hatefully.
"You'll be sorry!" Sloane hissed in anger. "You have just made an enemy with the wrong person."
"Look fucker, unless you want your so 'beautiful' face thoroughly rinsed with the fountain water again, shut the fuck up!" Sebastian threatened and huffing, Sloane the slut stormed back to her room.
Soon, silence took over everything again. Cooper, Sebastian, Emily and Alice looked at each other in an awkward silence until the older Anderson cleared his throat.
"Well, I guess it's settled then." He then retreated to his room.
"What's wrong with him?" Emily asked.
"Maybe we should talk about it outside." Alice said quietly and the two girls started to leave. Sebastian followed but not before he turned to look at the room where Cooper had disappeared into.
"Ever since you guys came back he had been locking himself in his room." Alice said when they left the Aphrodite cabin. "No matter how hard we tried, he just wouldn't get out of his room. We were a bit confused too, the mission was considered as a success, but when he got back, he looked like he had lost his soul somewhere on his way back and he kept on muttering 'I failed… I have failed him… I cannot save him…' all the time. Sometimes when we knocked on his door, we would still hear him repeating those sentences and occasionally, sobs."
Emily looked really sad as she knew what had caused Cooper to be like this.
"We wanted to tell Chiron about this but then he came out and told us he was fine. And that Sloane arrogantly said she would lighten him up with her body riding his- Oh excuse me for the language but that's the most fucking gruesome picture we have ever heard. We can't even imagine it…"
"She's still having a crush on him?" Emily asked in disbelief. "I thought she'd moved on when Cooper turned her down like three years ago."
"She has never moved on. Her ego is much bigger than we have originally thought." Alice said with disdain. "She kept on repeating that she could turn the gay guys straight within a brink of the eye. So far, none of gay babes have done so and even straight guys all feel disgusted by her. If I may say, she keeps bringing shame to our mom and our cabin."
The girls shook their heads.
"Speaking of which, I wonder who managed to capture Cooper's heart." Alice asked in curiosity. "I once remembered we walked into his room to play some pranks and we noticed that he had placed a photo of a cute boy on his night stand."
"How does he look like?" Emily asked quietly as she looked at Sebastian who started trembling.
"He has an athletic body build, short light sandy blonde hair and a pair of bluish-green eyes. He is like another Ganymede but what caught my attention is this man's face always seemed to carry a sense of sadness." Alice elaborated. Sebastian gasped as Emily shot him a worried look and a confused look from the African-American.
"No… no… This can't be… He can't be…" Sebastian whispered, his voice trembling.
"You know this guy?"
Sebastian took a deep breath, trying to calm his nerves.
"That person… is my brother… They were a couple when I was much younger but then it ended very badly. He didn't contact him anymore and my brother was heartbroken."
"Really? Maybe you can call him-"
"That's out of the league."
"Why not? They can settle this down. Why don't you just give Cooper a chance?"
"Because I don't even know where my brother is now! We can't!" Sebastian suddenly yelled. "None of us know where he is! My brother disappeared soon after he got stabbed by the Minotaur with its horns! Right in front of the camp door! And before that a harpy just badly injured his arms! He's fucking injured and I don't even know where he is or is he alive! I… I can't lose him… He's my last relative that cared for me… I can't lose him… I… I can't…"
Sebastian just broke down sobbing. Within seconds, Emily and Alice had engulfed him in a hug, whispering how sorry they were. It took them some time before Sebastian told them to move on.
"I swear that I have cried all the tears from the last five years." Sebastian grumbled, trying to lighten the mood as they reached cabin eight.
"No one is in there." Sebastian said as he looked at the cabin which had midnight blue walls and roof. The walls were decorated with paintings of different wild animals, mainly stags, under a forest. The columns were made of solid wood instead of marble. The number 8 was interlocking within an arrow with its string fully drawn and a bow made in a shape of a crescent moon.
"Of course no one is living in there. This cabin is for the maiden goddess Artemis." Alice explained with a roll of her eyes.
"So why will she have one? She's still a virgin so there will be no demigod child from her." Sebastian asked.
"Not so loud, Seb. You won't want the goddess to hear what you have just said. We don't want to have another Calydonian Boar." Alice slapped his arms.
"Calydonian Boar? The one that Artemis sent-"
"After Oeneus forgot to offer a sacrifice to her! You will not want to offend her! The cabin is for an honorary. She'd be mad if she didn't have one and the last time she got angry because of this, the Calydonian Boar resulted."
"Let's move on then, shall we? There's nothing interesting here." Sebastian then started walking towards cabin six.
Cabin six was like a place where a library, a laboratory and a workshop were combined together. A giant golden owl was imprinted on the door. Figures of snakes and olive trees could be seen on the white curtains. Two round shields with a snake-headed woman was sculpted onto the wall. The brass number six was put above a nest of olive branches with a very complex and abstract background.
"So this is the spring of wisdom, cabin six, for the Goddess of Wisdom, Athena, and my mother." Emily proudly introduced. She opened the door and Sebastian saw a sea of books. Stand after stand of books lined up in the cabin, not to mention those that piled around the corner or under the window. Sebastian believed that he total amount of books collected in this area could put the national library to shame.
"How do you guys manage to keep all the books inside such a small cabin?" Sebastian asked.
"The interior space could expand or contract upon the wish of occupants, the rule is also applied to all the other cabins." Emily explained. "As you can see, this is the common area and the library area. On the back side, the left door will lead to males' rooms while the right will lead to the females' rooms. The one in the middle will lead to the workshops and laboratories area as well as the storage area where we stored our designed armours."
"Okay. Uhm, is that Felicity over there?" Sebastian asked, pointing at blonde wearing a pair of glasses, sitting in front of a computer with owl decoration.
"Yes, that's her." Emily said as she and Alice smiled proudly for their sister and friend. "She's a genius in computer science. You may also find Caitlin in the laboratory area. She's a doctor. And trust me, her medical skills can sometimes rival the Apollo's children."
"Ooook… I wonder if I can borrow a few books to read." Sebastian muttered.
"You cannot take the books out of the cabin but you can read it here from 7am to 11pm."
"Sweet, I wonder if I can find classics like 'Moby-Dick'…"
Cabin four's design was like an environmentalist's dream come true. The roof of the cabin had real grass and wild flowers growing. The walls were made from virgin soil, sandy clay, glutinous rice, bamboo pieces, firs, chalk and pebbles. A mature wheat field was painted on the wall. Flowers were planted on the window and the curtains were made form bamboo. Vines coiled around the apple wood columns and a few pots of crops were placed on the fence. The brass number four was encased by the Horn of Plenty from the above and a bunch of mature wheat beneath.
"Demeter's cabin." Emily said. "The dream place for people who are keen on gardening, agriculture and anything related to botany."
"Hikaru Sulu will love this place." Sebastian muttered and the girls raised their eyebrows.
"Ooh, so you're a trekkie." Alice teased and Sebastian felt himself was going to explode from embarrassment. He hurried away from the cabin.
Cabin two was another one that had no campers. Judging from its appearance, Sebastian could guess why. This cabin was much taller than the other cabins and had this elegant and dignity aura emitting. Its walls and roof were made from snow-white marble, much whiter and purer than the one used in other buildings. The columns were slim with golden pomegranates circling them while real pomegranates crowded at the base. Its red flowers, with a few white ones, were giving out a comforting fragrant, like a child would feel within a mother's arms. Lilies, peacocks and dairy cows were painted or sculpted onto its walls. A giant peacock feather was painted onto the double door panels.
"Hera's cabin?" Sebastian asked.
"Smart." Emily said with an appraising look. "Like Artemis's cabin, it's an honorary thing. She is the goddess of marriage so no demigod's children. That would be Zeus's job. But believe it or not, Zeus doesn't dare to go flirt with other women now."
"Why? He finally decided to settle down?"
"Not really." Alice answered. "He just doesn't want to get slapped and lectured by Hera, poor Zeus."
"Lecture? I thought Hera had a habit on revenging Zeus's mistresses and their demigod children."
"That's in the past. You do realize that the ancient societies, whether it is Greek or Roman, are very sexist. For a man who cheated on his wife, the girlfriend is always the one who get blamed, even though in many cases, she has no idea that the man has already had a wife or sometimes, the man lied, or worse, raped her." Emily explained.
"Now, the society is progressing, so are the Gods. Therefore, instead of always blaming on the girlfriends and making their children's lives hell, Hera switched to teach the cheating party a lesson, regardless of the gender. And trust me, you won't want to hear Hera lecture you on being faithful to your partner for years. Zeus found this out in the hard way. She lectured him for a whole 10 years and turned him impotence during this entire time." Alice added with a smirk.
"And Zeus did stop having affairs after that, for quite some time. Seeing the efficiency of this new technique, Hera taught this new method to Amphitrite and Persephone, much to Poseidon and Hades's dismay. But to be honest, Poseidon and Hades are more faithful to their wives than Zeus did so they manage to escape from what Zeus had to endure. Hera also stops causing trouble with the children. After all, the children were innocent and every child deserves a loving family. Being the Goddess of family, she also decided to protect them. She still does not approve cheating, but she will leave the innocent parties like the children alone."
"Well… That's a bit new…" Sebastian muttered. Being impotence for 10 years? That thought made him shudder.