Not Exactly How Harry Met Sally
Artie had never been one for parties, but that was mostly due to have never been invited to one. The was always a reason, the main one being Thorn wasn't one for remembering birthdays or holidays. When he reached Camp Half Blood and Artemis claimed him, he mostly kept to himself except for politely popping into the Athena cabin with a present for Annabeth before disappearing.
But even Artie knew that there was a difference between a huge mega blowout party and an Olympian celebration, and he always choose the Olympian given the option.
The Nine Muses began to play music and the demigods realized it sounded like whatever the listener wanted to hear : the gods could listen to classical or music from the times of ancient Greece while the younger demigods could listen to rap and hip-hop. And of all of it was one the same sound track, with no arguments to change the radio station, only request to turn it up. Artie found himself bobbing his head swing jazz from the 1930's and wondering if Chiron would hear the same thing if he was there.
Dionysus walked around growing refreshment tables out of the ground with a beautiful woman on his arm, his wife Adriane. Nectar and ambrosia overflowed from golden fountains and platters of mortal food crowded the banquet tables. Golden goblets filled whatever drink the holder wanted. Artie noticed Grover totting a plate of enchiladas and tine can as he muttered over goblet which, he guessed from the smell, was filled with espresso. Percy was sipping something blue and clinked goblets with Annabeth who was also drinking something blue.
Artie snatched up a two goblets and whispered into one. "Vaca Preta."
After a second, the goblet filled with a dark liquid with a thick layer of creamy foam. The last time Artie had a Vaca Preta, Portuguese of a Black Cow, that was made the old fashioned way was during the last Carnival in Rio. It was basically a vanilla milkshake blended with more ice and coke. He took a sip and smiled, just like he remembered. He then took an ambrosia square and went to his brother who had found a seat in the corner.
Artie took the seat next to him and handed him the ambrosia and goblet. "Here. I think you can take a little bit more."
"Thanks." Jacob said after he swallowed the square. "Mmm."
"What do you usually get?" Artie asked as he took a sip from his goblet.
"Brigaderio." Jacob said. "The ones mom used to make for our birthdays."
"I miss those." Artie said. "The closest I get to those are those chocolate bonbons."
"Looks someone is popular." Jacob motioned to Percy and smiled. "I don't envy him."
Artie looked and smiled. "I see what you mean."
Aphrodite was speaking with Percy. She was batting her eyelashes at him, a skill that Artie suspected all of her daughters were born knowing how to do. Annabeth was dancing with a minor godling, eying the exchange suspiciously, while Ares looked like he wanted nothing more than blast the son of Poseidon right then and there.
"I wonder who'll win." Jacob spoke to his goblet. "Guarana Antarctica."
"If Aphrodite doesn't drop the whammy?" Artie chuckled. "Either way, not Percy."
The brother shared a loud and sincere laugh together for the first time in years.
"Feeling better?" Artie asked.
"I'm still a little sore, but I'll be fine." Jacob assured. "Don't worry about me. Just relax and enjoy the view." Jacob winked to a pair of girls who giggled and waved at the brothers as they walked by. "I know I am."
Artie did a double take. "What?"
"Oh, come on." Jacob laid an arm on Artie's back and motioned to the girls. "Ask one of them to dance."
"I, uh, um," Artie stammered.
"Allow me." Jacob stood up and smiled. "Watch and learn."
"Jacob, wait!" Artie said, but he was already gone.
Artie watched as his brother, in less than two minutes, had a girl on each arm walking back toward him. The both of them giggled and smiled at the son of Apollo and he was eating it up.
"Here he is ladies." Jacob motioned. "Hail the new king."
Artie felt his heart jump from chest to his throat. "Uh, hello."
"Hi." they said together.
"They're just dying to hear what happened on Mt. Tam." Jacob hinted.
"I hope I am not interrupting." said a voice.
Everyone turned to see Artemis, with Thalia, with a raised eyebrow. Most teenagers would die of embarrassment if their mother had shown up at a party just as they were about to talk to pretty girls, but Artie couldn't have been more grateful. The girls took the hint and politely excused themselves, making sure to bow to Artemis, and scurried off to a nearby snack table.
Artemis frowned at Jacob before speaking to Artie, "We must talk." Then she spoke to Thalia. "Would you excuse us please?"
Thalia nodded. "Yes, my lady." She motioned to the snack table. "Come on, Jacob. Let's get a drink. I think your dad said he wanted to talk to you."
Artie watched for a moment to see Jacob look back and nod once.
"Come," Artemis said gently, but firmly. "There is something you need to see."
Artie followed Artemis through the crowd and out to balcony that no seemed to notice. Artemis sat at the only table and Artie took the seat opposite her. Artie though it strange there was only a single table on the entire balcony, overlooking the whole of Manhattan and the edge of what he guessed to be Staten Island, and no one else was there enjoying the view of the Sleepless City.
"I do not want to be interrupted." Artemis said. "I am shielding us from view."
"Can I ask why?" Artie swirled his goblet.
"Do you remember how I showed your past?" Artemis asked. "Your mortal family?"
"Yes?" Artie said cautiously. "You just touched my head and I saw everything."
"I wanted to apologize for that." Artemis shifted as if she was not accustomed to admitting mistakes. "I should have considered how much of shock it would be on your mind. For that, I am sorry."
Artie blinked. He had never expected Artemis was even capable of admitting she was wrong, least of all apologize. "I don't know what to say."
"Apology accepted has worked excellently for centuries." Artemis offered.
"Apology accepted then." Artie sighed. "I'm sorry too. Back in Maine, I said a few things that I shouldn't have."
"You were angry and perhaps with just cause." Artemis said. "We were both at fault. Agreed?"
"Agreed." Artie motioned. "So what now? You hand me a tape recorder that self destructs once it plays a message and I end up suspended by wire trying to avoid a laser grid?"
"What?" Artie shrugged. "A guy can dream, can't he?"
"Do I have your permission?" Artemis held out a finger. "I do not want a repeat of last time."
"Sure," Artie smiled. "But just one thing."
"Make your finger glow and say 'ouch' " Artie grinned. "Like in ET."
Artemis frowned and jabbed her son between the eyes.
Unlike last time, Artie did not feel like images and knowledge suddenly slammed into his memory like a freight truck. He guessed it felt a lot like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. He couldn't tell if he was falling or flying as silver lights flicked while darkness swirl around him. Then, just as suddenly as it had left him, Artie felt his feet touch the ground and the darkness faded.
It took a moment for Artie to realize he was standing in the middle of clearing, deep in a thick forest at night. He looked up the night sky that were full of glittering stars and the full moon. It wasn't until he heard a voice speak that Artie noticed he wasn't alone in the clearing.
"I, Zoë Nightshade, pledge myself to the goddess Artemis." said the voice.
He was sharing the clearing with the Hunters of Artemis, though they wore silver greek chitons and cloaks instead of the modern day clothing he was used to see them in. He recognized a few, though he couldn't seem to place their names, and saw they were watching something front of them.
Artie turned to see Zoë kneeling in front of Artemis.
"I turn my back on the company of men, accept eternal maidenhood, and join the hunt." Zoë finished.
"I accept your pledge." Artemis placed a shoulder on Zoë's shoulder and she looked up. "Rise, Zoë Nightshade, as one of my sisters."
Then Artie heard Artemis's voice in his head, I am showing you a piece of my past. No one can see or hear you.
"How far back is this?" Artie asked, examining the Hunters' clothing.
This was when the gods were still in ancient Greece and Zoë had just joined the Hunt. Artie heard in his mind. Far before you or parents were born, but it does pertain to you.
"How?" Artie waved his hand in front of a blond hunter. "I have an ancestor here or something?"
"Watch and see." said Artemis.
Artie turned to see Zoë being congratulated by the rest of the Hunters. She still looked like Zoë, but the girl in front of him looked so much more happier. This was Zoë before centuries upon centuries of walking the world alongside of Artemis and seeing less than the best of the world had to offer.
Suddenly a little light, hardly bigger than firefly but significantly brighter, appeared with a familiar voice. "A happy ending I see."
In the time it took to even think of blinking, each and every Hunter had their bows in hand with an arrow nocked. Like a SWAT team, they all turned in all directions as they tried to locate the source of the voice. All except Artemis.
"Stand down everyone." Artemis ordered. "Show yourself, Hermes."
The little light grew and stretched, taking the form of a man. When the light died, Hermes was floating a foot off the ground and smiling. Artie had met the god before, and even saw him at the party, but there were slight differences. His hair was pure black and straight instead of the salt-and-pepper and curly. He had a thin goatee that was neatly trimmed while Artie remembered him being clean shaven. He still had his caduceus and winged pith helmet, but he wore a bright white chiton that ended at his knees under a matching white Chlamys and Himation instead of the uniform of a postal worker. On his feet were his signature winged sandals.
The Hunters imediantly lowered thier bows and hastily knelt, muttering apologies.
"Forgive them, Hermes." Artemis said. "As much as the forest is their home, it is not always so accommodating."
"The fault is partially my own." Hermes opened a leather satchel that hung on his hip. "Your brother, Lord Apollo, has charged me with a message." He began to rummage around in the satchel. "Oh that is right. My apologies, my lady, but the message is a figure of speech. Lord Apollo never put chisel to stone."
"Chisel to stone?" Artie asked aloud.
That is what was used to write messages at the time. Artie heard in his head. Sometimes a metal stylus on wax coated tablets. Hermes was quite happy when humans began writing on paper. As to why he insisted on not erasing the weight of several stone tablets, I do not know.
"I assume the message is quite important." said Artemis. "Otherwise he would have waited the fortnight and spoken to me at the Council of the Gods.
"Yes." Hermes nodded. "Lord Apollo request your presence at Ephesus. He claims it is of the utmost urgency."
"Thank you, Hermes. I will be there shortly. Is there more your require of me? I do not wish to keep you from your other engagements."
"No." Hermes inclined his head slightly. "I will see you again during the Council."
And with that, Hermes faded from sight.
Artemis turned to her Hunters, Zoë in particular. "We shall camp her for the night. Zoë, while I am answering my brother's summons, you are to take command of your sisters. See that everything is done properly, establish sentries, and settle any problems that might arise."
Zoë straightened and bowed. "As you command, my Lady Artemis."
Suddenly, Artie was surrounded by swirling darkness and flickering silver lights. Before Artie could even form a complaint in his mind, the swirling ceased and he stood on a bright white marble floor. He looked around saw the same white marble on columns and shrines as well as various reliefs and carvings. There were several statues, all of Artemis, with altar that were filled with everything from bits of silver to cures hides and cuts of deer and other game. Artie even caught the scent of wild herbs and incense in the air as he followed Artemis to the main altar, the one with the largest and most extravagant in the whole temple.
The statue was almost was large as the room that held it, just under twenty-five feet tall. Normally Artemis prefered the form of a young girl, but sculptors opted to depict her as a ypung woman with a stoic face and shoulder length hair waving in the wind and a short skirt. In the statue's hand was the most beautifully crafted bow, drawn back with an arrow on the string, held down towards the floor as if the statue was on the alert for an attack. At the statue's feet was doe nursing a baby fawn while a large stag stood behind her looking off to the west.
At the altar, stood two people. One was a young woman. She had large eyes the color of wild moss. Her luxurious, wavy, blond hair was adorned with silver and gold chains. She was thin as a reed, but she did not look starved. Her figure suggested she was grown woman, but just barely. Her clothes were bone with borders of alternating green and silver. She wore a peplos that fell to her ankles, with golden brooches for shoulder clasps and upper part folded down to the waist to form an apoptygma. On her feet hand made Greek leather sandals.
On her left, wearing similarly elegant clothes, was Apollo. Artie guessed once Apollo found a look he liked, he stuck with it. He still looked about eighteen with sandy blond hair, a bright cocky smile, and outdoorsy good look. Artie half expected that his chariot was parked outside, in the form of a Maserati Spyder.
"I see Hermes did not delay." Apollo smiled. "Greetings, little sister."
"We have been arguing this for centuries, brother." Artemis frowned. "Never mind that. Why such urgency?"
"Have you met my latest Oracle?" Apollo motioned to the blond girl. "Euadne, this is Lady Artemis, goddess of the Hunt."
Euadne bowed deeply. "My lady."
"A pleasure." Artemis then spoke to her brother. "Why did you summon me?"
Apollo shifted uncontrollably. "You would not believe me even if I were to swear on the Styx. You know how prophecies are never directly clear, but some of the lines are difficult to see any other way."
"What do you mean?"
"It was on my behalf, Lady Artemis." Euadne said nervously. "I had vision. A vision concerning you and your future."
"A good future, I hope?" Artemis raised an eyebrow question.
"That is for you to decide, Lady Artemis." Euadne said quickly. "I am merely the conduit the spirit of the original Oracle speaks through."
"So no shooting the messenger." Apollo joked. "She has been my Oracle for hardly a year now."
"I will keep that in mind." Artemis gestured with a hand. "Let us hear this prophecy, Euadne."
Artie had kept silent as listened intently. He was still wondering how a prophecy given to Artemis before the god left Greece, when people still used horses and films had to be invented, could have anything to do with him in the modern era with inventions that Greeks would swear on the Styx was magic.
He watched as Euadne opened her mouth and thick green smoke crept out. The green mist swirled and formed a vague image of a baby. The mist then swirled to show a small child running. As the child ran, sometimes dropping to all fours like an animal, he grew larger and gained what looked like weapons like a bow followed by a shield and spear. The boy continued running and was join by others, also gaining weapons, until he was leading a group of warriors. The image then began all over again and Artemis, more importantly Artie, heard the voice of the Oracle.
A child of the moon the world will see.
From mortal birth and death he shall come to be
Thickest of forests and wildest river shall be his home
Taught not by elders, familiars, or tome
When Olympus is in dire need
He will raise the walls of Sparta and their enemies will heed
Thrice he will enter Hades and thrice he shall rise
But love's peril in battle will be his demise.
The green mist ceased swirling and quickly receded from where it came, leaving Artemis staring dumbfounded with her mouth agape. Euadne seemed to regain herself and sank into her knees. Apollo was switching his gaze between his sister and his oracle.
"Euadne," Artemis said very slowly as if it was taking a great amount of effort to contain herself. "I think it best you leave us. I wish to speak with my brother."
"I agree." Apollo said hastily and directed Euadne. "Go now and return to Delphi. You will find a chariot waiting for you just outside of the temple. Speak of this to no one."
"I swear on the Styx." Euadne said carefully. "Lest I am given permission."
"I would not count on that occurring anytime soon." Artemis said, her eyes watching Euadne like lion watches a gazelle. "Not in your lifetime at least."
Artie watched as Euadne quickly hurried to leave the temple. Judging from the echoes of her feet on the hard marble floor, she broke into a sprint the second she was out of eye shot. He watched Artemis, the past version, with curiosity. He had never toyed with the idea that Artemis had created him because her biological clock was ticking. For one thing, she was a goddess and, ignoring her vow, did not have a window of time to have children like mortal women. Ever since he was claimed, an idea formed in the back of his head. Not an idea, more like inkling. He had no proof one way or the other and he never thought to ask, but Artie had feeling Artemis had created him for a reason, to fulfill some purpose.
"Please tell me this is some joke Aphrodite tricked you into playing on me." Artemis hissed. "If that is the reason for such insult, you've had your amusement and confess."
"Insult?" Apollo repeated. "How is — "
"Are you deaf as well as mentally deficient?!" Artemis snapped. "Did you not hear the first line of that prophecy?" Artemis spat. "A child of the moon the world will see?"
"That could mean anything, sister." Apollo said calmly.
"For example?" Artemis said impatiently.
"From mortal birth and death he shall come to be." Apollo recited. "Lady Hera chose a mortal champion to carry her will, Jason. It is not beyond reason that this child of the moon could be a mortal man whom you have chosen to aid, for some great service to you or out of pity."
That seemed to calm Artemis, somewhat. "Perhaps, but are you sure it is a man? I am patron to all maidens as you are to young boys."
"As to why, I am not sure. You correct it does not seem like you to chose a male champion, but note the wording." Apollo said thoughtfully. "He shall, his home, he will, his demise. While I am patron to them, this boy's patron shall be you."
"This cannot happen." Artemis shook her head defiantly. "For me to break my vow, a vow not even Aphrodite can compel me to break, it would be a disgrace."
A lump formed in Artie throat.
"I'm glad you are thinking of your possible son — "
"That is another thing!" Artemis squeaked. "To think I would shatter my oath, bear a child, and the child was my son rather my daughter." Artemis began to breath deeply to calm herself.
"Calm yourself, sister." Apollo said soothingly. "While I am sure we are missing a crucial detail to how this child shall come to be your, is the thought of having a son so abhorrent?"
"How can you even mused such a notion?!" Artemis demanded. "You and every male god on Olympus cannot seem to focus if there is a beautiful woman in your sight, to say nothing of mortal men." She then pointed to sky. "And that misbegotten bastard son of Poseidon, whose name I will not utter if I can help it, is the worst of them all. I shutter to think if I had not arrived in time to save the Hunters I had sent to merely fetch some provisions that he ambushed." Artemis was being to glow with anger. "If not for a wood nymph whom occupied in a tree nearby thought to warn me, he have forced me to watch, to show what he planned for me, on innocent maidens whom were barely out of childhood!"
"Perhaps we should seek out Athena." Apollo suggested. "She might be able to decipher the meaning. At the very least, she could can provide alternate interpretation and we can make provisions — "
"No!" Artemis looked scared. "No one can know of this."
"But — "
"No. One. Can. Know. Of. This." Artemis repeated carefully. "If it were to come to light, it would be the end of me. Everyone would assume that . . . that . . . that . . ."
"That misbegotten bastard of a son won in the end." Apollo sighed. "Alright. As you wish, none but Euadne and us will know of this prophecy until it comes to pass."
"Thank you." Artemis whispered.
Before Artie could begin to piece things together, darkness and silver lights swirled once more.
In the time it took to exhale, Artie found himself sitting across from Artemis again.
"Now you see." Artemis said.
"I saw alright." Artie growled and stood. "I saw I was right."
"That you didn't want me." Artie snapped.
"That was — "
"I don't even why I'm even surprised anymore. The story of my life." Artie began walking away. "You, everyone at Camp Half Blood, even Maria and Jacob didn't want me at first."
"You do not understand." Artemis said.
"Understand?" Artie threw his sunglasses and pointed to himself. "Look me in the eye and tell me you didn't do everything you could to avoid creating me."
Artemis stayed silent.
"I knew it." Artie said. "That's why you waited so long. You spent centuries fighting that prophecy." He pointed to the goddess. "How many boys did turn into jacklopes because you thought they might be me?"
"That's it!" Artemis shot up. "I've had enough. I am a goddess and I do not have to listen to this. Especially from an insolent child who will not listen."
"I won't listen?!" Artie sneered. "When did you ever listen to me? How many times did you ignore me as I prayed for help? I get the other gods would ignore me, but you? Now I know, you were just waiting to see if Thorn would actually finish the job. That way no one would ever see, or even think, that the great Artemis had broken her oath. "
"Your mother was one of my Hunters." Artemis said.
Artie wouldn't have been more shocked if Zeus himself had used his master bolt.
He closed his mouth and shook his head as if he wasn't sure he had heard correctly. "What?"
"The mortal woman who was your mother, the same one who sacrificed herself along with her husband, joined the Hunt when she was sixteen." Artemis motioned to the chair across from her. "If you can contain your anger long enough, I will you tell you."
Artie wasn't sure. "What does she have to do with your prophecy?"
"Sit and I will explain." Artemis said gently. "I promise you. She is a great part of the prophecy."
Artie sighed and trudged back to the table.
"I'm all ears." Artie motioned for Artemis to start.
"As you saw, I received that prophecy when we were at the height of our power in Greece." Artemis began. "You were right. I did fight against it for several centuries, up until we moved to America." Artemis held up a hand when Artie tried to speak. "For reasons unknown, there are mortals that can see through the Mist, you're mother was one of them."
"I met one at the Hoover Dam." Artie said. "She could see Percy's sword and my armor."
Artemis nodded. "She joined the Hunt sometime during the 1950's. From what I recall, her father was drunk that regularly beat her mother. One night he drank too much and ran the car off a bridge upon returning from a restaurant. Naturally, the authorities put her in foster care. Something occurred in one of the homes. She never said exactly, but suffice to say one of the boys had mistaken the level of thier relationship as something more than it was. She took off into the woods that were on the outskirts of town."
"She ran into you." Artie guessed.
"Yes." Artemis nodded again. "Zoë overheard crying as she returned from a hunt and discovered her trying to start a fire. She convinced your mother to accompany her back to camp. I noticed she could see through the Mist and after she explained how she came to be alone in the woods, I offered her to join the Hunt and she accepted."
"Alright." Artie asked, still not convinced. "If she joined the Hunters then how was I born?"
"I am getting to that." Artemis explained. "She was a Hunter until she met your father roughly a decade later." Artemis paused as if to recall. "Your father was one of ten children. At roughly seventeen, he saw his parents struggling to feed so many mouths. With little options, he decided to leave. One of his uncles had been an avid hunter and taught him well. So much so, he made a living wandering the woods and sold hides and meat at trading posts and sent any surplus to his family."
"So I'm guessing he just walked right into your camp and it was love at first sight?" Artie shrugged.
"You are half right." Artemis corrected. "I assume solitude took its toll on your father and found a companion in a stray coonhound. It was that very coonhound that wandered away from him in the middle of the night. Your father awoke to find him missing and tracked his companion through the wilderness. He found him late in the night as he laid curled against your mother whom had made camp for the night."
"What was she doing alone?" Artie asked.
"While I advise them against it, a Hunter will wander off every now and then." Artemis shrugged. "I assume she was tracking a deer and merely lost track of how far she had wandered. From what she told me, she must have passed their camp and dog went to investigate. Once it decided she was not a threat, it presumed to play with her."
"She must have a way with animals." Artie remarked. "Or my father wasn't really good at training a dog."
"I think it was a little of both as the dog was still a pup." Artemis continued. "Unfortunately, Zoë miscounted and reported all of the Hunters were present and we broke camp and treked north, leaving your mother behind." Artemis smiled slightly. "In a way, Zoë is responsible for your birth."
Artie found himself chuckling, "And my parents? How did my mother react when she met my father."
"She shot him in leg with an arrow." Artemis said. "The coonhound heard your father approaching and barked. On instinct, your mother fired an arrow into a bush and your father fell into sight. Regrettably, his hunting rifle went off and shot her in the leg."
Artie chuckled and muttered to himself. "Still a better love story than Twilight."
"They agreed to let bygones be bygones and shared supplies to treat thier wounds." Artemis continued. "Despite your mother's protests, and threats, he convinced her that their chances were better for survival if they traveled together. They spent the next two weeks following our trail and your mother began to question her assumptions of men. Not once did he make an advance other than to huddle close by a small fire during the cold nights. She eventually became comfortable enough with him to share her past and so did he." Artemis frowned slightly. "They hunted together, played together, fought off predators together, I suppose it was inevitable that they developed feelings for each other."
"So what happened?" Artie asked. "You kicked her out?"
"I have done that in the past when Hunter broke their pledge to me, but not her." Artemis sighed. "She did what no other had done before."
"She thanked me for everything and politely asked to leave." Artemis shook her head smiling. "She walked right into camp, your father following close behind and looking like a frighten rabbit in a wolf's den, and asked for an audience with me. She explained what had occurred and asked for my blessing to leave."
"And you let her go?"
"Yes." Artemis nodded. "It has happened before, Hunters falling in love with men, but they wished to have their cake and eat it too. Your mother knew she could either stay with her sisters and be immortal or she could grow old with your father, but she could not have both. She chose a normal mortal life with your father." Artemis almost sounded envious, but Artie knew not to say anything. "Since she had served me well and kept her vow, I released her from her pledge and wished her the best of luck." Artemis smiled fondly at Artie. "She never forgot her time and the lessons she learned. She sought to continue honoring me and began fighting against poaching of endangered species, but it was your father who thought to name their only child, you, after me."
"So that's why you were in the forest when they were being hunted." Artie realized. "You were keeping an eye on her."
"Yes." said the goddess. "I was oddly curious to how things turned out."
"Because no Hunter that left the Hunt has ever had a happy ending?"
"Because no Hunter had left the Hunt without my blessing." she corrected. "All others before her broke thier pledge and were punished for trying to deceive me. All they simple needed to do was what your mother had done, thank me for the opportunity and request permission to leave. I do not want Hunters that are not completely committed to the Hunt."
"So you were watching her," Artie frowned. "Why didn't you stop the hitman before they were killed?"
"I only stayed for a few minutes at a time." She answered. "After so much time without incident, my visits began to wane. It had been almost five years since I last saw them. It was not until that I sensed her life begin to fade that felt a disturbance."
"A disturbance?" Artie asked.
"I have a connection to all my Hunters. It seemed that, however faint, enough of that connection remained to alert me." Artemis sounded forlorn and stared at her hands. "As you know, I did not arrive in time to save them. Their souls were barely in the realm in the living and on the edge of entering Hades'." She looked up at Artie. "I fully admit to not wanting a child, even then. All that I wished to do was to honor the dying wish of one of the most remarkable Hunters that I had the privilege to know."
"When did you figure it out?" Artie asked gently. "That you fulfilled the first part of the prophecy."
"About a week later." Artemis said. "The prophecy had not even crossed my mind until I discovered that your mother had been an only child and every single one of your father's relatives were dead."
"So you gave me to Apollo." Artie continued. "To hide me.
"Yes, but little did I know that would be fulfilling the second part of the prophecy." Artemis asked. "You know which part I mean?"
"Yeah," Artie nodded. "Thickest of forests and wildest river shall be his home. Taught not by elders, familiars, or tome." Artie thought back to his time in Rio. "Most of Brazil is covered by the Amazon Rainforest. From what Annabeth told me, it's over one point seven billion acres and is part of nine countries. Most call it a jungle, but its really a forest."
"Yes." Artemis nodded. "And the river that flows through it is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest waterflow."
"And I learned the hard way to survive." Artie said.
"Yes. Only with your body and mind." Artemis nodded. "When Thorn attacked your family and I realized you were truly the child of the prophecy, I had no choice but to let it play out." She began speaking with her hands. "You must understand. I wanted nothing more to intervene, to end your suffering, but I could do nothing more than watch. At best, I was able to nudge you farther and farther north using Tobias."
Artie said nothing and neither did Artemis. Artie turned over everything he had learned, which was quite immense, and began to process. Artie wasn't sure how to proceed. All his life, before Artemis thoroughly explained everything, Artie thought teh this goddess did not care for him. She admitted to not wanting him at first, even going as far to fight a prophecy foretelling his birth for centuries, and she did nothing as he fought to survive both Thorn and the dangers of the jungle. Then he considered everything she had done. She had claimed him, an act the members of Cabin Eleven prayed for. Then, both on his quest and his journey to camp, had given him weapons only a chosen few ever saw let alone used. While Hephastus' letter said different, Artie had a feeling that Artemis had convinced him to part with several bars of moonsilver so Artie could have a one of a kind set of armor not even the Hunters could boast. She apolgized, no small feat for a god, and sought to make a peace offering by telling him the story of how his parents met. And finally, which he still had trouble wrapping his mind around, she had not only claimed he was eqaul to the heroes of old — Hercules, Daedalus, Orion, — but she made the first and only King of the Hunt second only to her.
"Please," Artemis was almost pleading. "Say something."
"Am I the only one?" Artie asked. "Am I your only child?"
"Yes." said the goddess. "You are the first and only child of Artemis. Why do you ask?"
"Because if I find out that, whether I figure it out or someone tells me, that I went through all that and everything I lost for nothing, I don't think I could ever forgive you." Artie stood from the table and extended hand. "If you can swear on the Styx that everything you told me is true, that there was nothing you could do and it was foretold in prophecy, then I willing to start clean."
Artemis stood and looked down at Artie's hand.
"Deal?" Artie asked.
Artemis did not shake his hand — she wrapped her arms around and embraced him. Artie was surprised for a moment then smiled and returned the hug. Time seemed to stand still and neither said a word, frightened of ruining the moment. But it had to be and Artie spoke.
"I'll take that as a yes." Artie looked down and asked. "But the rest of the prophecy is still nagging me. Not the Hades part but the Olympus in dire need and the walls of Sparta. And why did you nudge me north?"
"There are other half blood out there, Apollo couldn't be the only one to travel, but there was a greater chance, however still slim, you could meet other half bloods and reach camp. . " Artemis looked up at him. "As for the walls of Sparta, I do not know."
"If I remember, they mainly worshiped Ares right?" Artie sensed an answer, one that Athena had been hinting at. "While Athens worshiped Athena?"
"Yes. They wisely worshiped all gods, including me, but it was to Ares they prayed to for victory in their campaigns."
"I thought so." Artie began walking back toward the party that was still going on strong.
"What are you going to do?" Artemis called to him.
"Exactly what Marv did in Sin City when he wanted answers" Artie back to smile. "Find someone who knows more than me and ask."