Camp Half-Blood: Part 1
I was really starting to hate my dreams. This one was short, but it still confused and worried me all the same. I was in that cave again, the one where the entrance to Tartarus was in the underworld. The air was as cold as it ever was and the same evil presence, Kronos, that I always felt was tugging at me, trying to drag me into the pit like he always was. This time though, I wasn’t the only person that was there.
At the edge of the pit stood Hades, his garment moving as the souls it was weaved from stirred. Hades stood and stared down into the pit, the way that I used to, but he didn’t look perplexed or scared. Actually he appeared to be smiling. He was saying something, but I wasn’t able to hear him or Kronos who I assumed was speaking to him as well.
The whole scene was strange in a million different ways. Why in the world would Hades be talking to Kronos? If he knew that Kronos was stirring, shouldn’t he be trying to stop him? I guess that he might not be strong enough to do anything about it, but why wouldn’t he have told me about Kronos when we first met? Unless he was on the titan Lord’s side and that was what he wanted to use me for. But that couldn’t be right. Even Hades wasn’t that evil.
As I watched the god speak to an empty room, no words coming from his mouth, and began to wonder what he was doing, the dream faded away and I found myself stirring awake. I was lying in a bed in a room that I had never seen before. Well, actually I had seen it once before in my dreams. It was the same room that I had seen Sarena lying in when she was unconscious. That meant that I was in Camp Half-Blood, the Big House. I was safe.
I sat up and looked about the room. It looked the same as it had when I was there in my dream, aside from the card table that was nowhere to be found. Sitting in a chair at my bedside was Sarah, her head hanging down and her eyes closed. She had a glass of golden liquid, which I guessed to be nectar, the liquid equivalent of ambrosia, that she was holding in her lap.
“Wakey wakey sleepy head,” Someone said. I looked toward the sound of the voice and saw Justin leaning against the wall on the opposite side of my bed. “It’s about time,” he said as I looked at him, “You were out for a while.”
A smile crossed my face. “Well that’ll happen sometimes,” I said, “Killing a dragon isn’t the easiest thing in the world.”
“Yeah, live it up,” Justin said with a laugh, “I doubt that you’ll ever pull something like that off again.”
The two of us laughed. I pulled myself to the side of the bed and sat there. “What happened,” I asked, “After I passed out I mean.”
Justin wore a smile as he spoke. “You’ll just love this,” he said, “After you passed out, the group of demigods that saved us helped me and Sarah pull ourselves together. So a few of them help carry you over the hill, we followed them, and get this, the moment we passed that tree up there, the camp just appears from out of nowhere, this house, a bunch of cabins, and a ton of other stuff that we never saw while standing up there and then it just pops into existence.”
“How,” I asked.
Justin shrugged. “The camp is protected by magical barriers,” he said, “Hidden by the mist, if you know it’s here you can see it, otherwise it just looks like a big empty field, or a strawberry farm according to Annabeth.”
“Amazing,” I said, “So if we had decided to run instead of fight…”
“We would’ve avoided a lot of trouble.”
I let that idea sink in for a moment as I thought back to what happened before I passed out. “What happened to Annabeth,” I asked as I recalled her calling for someone to help me.
“Oh yeah,” Justin said, “She left us with you, after getting the glass of nectar that Sarah has. After she came back, she said she needed to talk to someone and that we should get her after you woke up. Actually, I guess should go and find her now.”
Before I could say anything, Justin was out the door and I was alone. Well, except for Sleeping Beauty in the chair next to the bed, who stirred awake as Justin slammed the door on his way out. Sarah’s eyes fluttered open and she rubbed the sleep out of them. She looked up at me and her expression turned to joy.
“Someone looks like they had a well-deserved nap,” I said moving to the opposite edge of the bed so I was facing her.
Sarah jumped forward and threw her arms around me, spilling the glass of nectar as she did. “Hirius,” she yelled, “I’m so glad you’re okay, I thought for sure that was the end of you!”
“I’m fine,” I said as she pulled away and sat down again, “And I wasn’t that bad really.”
“Not that bad,” Sarah asked, “Did you see your injuries?”
I shook my head. As I looked down at myself, I realized what Sarah was talking about. A thick layer of bandages had been wrapped around my upper body. There didn’t appear to be any wound left, but the bandages were soaked in blood. I also noticed then that my arm was wrapped in a cast, despite the fact that I didn’t feel any pain from it. Each of my legs had also been wrapped in bandages, all of which were soaked in blood despite the wound being gone now.
“Woah,” I said, “That bull must have hit me harder than I thought.”
Sarah shook her head at me. “It was more than just the Minotaur,” she said, “You took hits from nearly half of that army, how didn’t you notice?”
I thought for a moment. “Adrenaline,” I said like it was a question.
Sarah looked at me in bewilderment. “Hirius,” she said, “It takes more than just adrenaline to make someone ignore pain like that. What were you thinking when you charged in without us?”
I looked away from Sarah and out of one of the Big House’s windows. I remembered how I felt when I saw the Minotaur at the head of the army. I recalled how angry I was and how I wanted nothing more than to snap that monster’s neck and watch him turn to dust. That feeling was enough to make me ignore any injury that I might have procured while I was fighting.
“It’s a long story,” I said turning to Sarah again.
She looked at me with wonder, waiting for me to tell her. I didn’t want to talk about it though. I didn’t want to tell her about how my mother died and force myself to relive that memory again. I didn’t want to remember the time when my only family was torn away from me. Sarah wasn’t going to let me get away without explaining myself though. I was glad that Justin came back when he did.
“Woah, what happened here,” Justin asked as he entered the room, “That glass must have really pissed you off.”
Sarah and I looked over at him, both of us confused. Then Sarah seemed to remember something as she looked at the floor. The glass she had been holding had shattered to pieces when she threw herself at me. Sharp chunks of glass were scattered on the floor by her feet and the nectar had formed a pool that was beginning to make its way to the nightstand nearby.
“Oh my gods,” Sarah said, “I should clean that up.”
She stood up and grabbed a roll of paper towels from the nightstand next to her and then retrieved a broom and dustpan from a closet on the other side of the room. She went to work cleaning up her mess and, as she did so, two more people entered the house. One was the girl, Annabeth, that I had seen just before I passed out. The other was a half man, half horse creature, a centaur, that I had seen in more than one of my dreams. I remembered his name was Chiron. I expected to see the god Dionysus come in after them, but he wasn’t there.
“Good,” Chiron said as his eyes fell upon me, “Our new friend is awake. Tell me, how are you feeling?”
“I’ve been better,” I said pulling at the bandage around my chest, “Can someone get these bandages off?”
I had been playing with them ever since I had noticed they were there and they were starting to get annoying. Annabeth pulled a pair of scissors from the drawer of the nightstand and started cutting the bandages off of my body and legs. She remained silent the whole time she was helping me. I thought it was kind of strange. She appeared to be trying to avoid any eye contact with me like the simple fact that I existed was reason enough for her to hate me. She wouldn’t have been the first to think that way.
“We have a lot to talk about Hirius,” Chiron said as Annabeth helped me remove the last of my bandages, “Your friends have informed us as much as they could, but I would like to hear what you have to say.”
I looked at Sarah, who was finishing with sweeping the broken glass off of the floor. She wouldn’t meet my gaze. Neither would Justin, who was staring out of the window. Annabeth refused to look at me either. Things were starting to make sense to me now. Chiron and Annabeth already knew that I was a son of Hades.
“We didn’t tell them,” Sarah said like she knew what I was thinking, “They figured it out on their own.”
“Indeed, your friends refused to tell us who your godly parent was,” Chiron said, “And they had good reason to hide it from us I suppose, but they couldn’t hide this.”
Chiron held up a sword. My breath fell short when I realized that I was looking at my blade, Heartstopper. The stygian iron glowed in the light of the sun now freshly risen in the sky. I looked away from Chiron as he held the sword. A sudden fear came over me as Chiron continued to stare at me. I could tell by the way that Annabeth was treating me that no one here would be quick to trust a son of Hades. Some of them might even turn hostile on me.
“Only children of Hades can wield a blade of stygian iron,” Chiron said.
I concentrated and quickly used my shadow powers to pull my sword back into my hands. Chiron didn’t seem bothered at all by the action. Actually, it kind of looked like he expected it. Annabeth wasn’t as nonchalant though. The moment my sword appeared in my hand, she drew a dagger that I hadn’t seen on her before. The scene quickly turned sour. Sarah dropped the broom and drew her own dagger. Justin drew his as well, kind of strange since his go to weapon was usually his bow. The two of them watched Annabeth closely, but I kept my eyes on Chiron without moving.
“There’s no need for that,” Chiron said pulling Annabeth back, “We’re not going to hurt any of you, we just want to talk.”
Sarah, Justin, and Annabeth slowly sheathed their weapons, but they never took their eyes off of each other. I kept Heartstopper with me. No matter what Chiron said, no matter how sincere his words sounded, I knew that it might be a mistake to trust him, or anyone else, right away. Especially if they were all as jumpy as Annabeth was.
“Now then,” Chiron said, “Why don’t you two get settled in? We need to speak with Hirius.”
“You really think that we’re going to leave him alone after that,” Sarah said.
I looked over at her. “It’s alright,” I said, “I’ll be okay.” She looked like she wanted to protest, and so did Justin, but they were willing to trust my word.
“Very good,” Chiron started, “Justin, you should find Apollo cabin at the archery range. Sarah, I think Silena Beuregard is in Aphrodite cabin now, you should speak with her.”
The two of them gave me another look, clearly unwilling to leave me alone with a demigod and a centaur that might try to kill me, but they left the house without any complaint. After they were gone, Annabeth finished cleaning the glass from the ground and put the broom and dustpan back in the closet. Chiron was watching me the whole time like he was expecting me to attack them at any moment.
“A son of Hades,” Chiron said, “This was unexpected, I didn’t think the oath would be broken again so soon.”
“Of course it was Hades,” Annabeth said in a harsh tone, “He can’t be trusted.”
Chiron gave her a look, a clear warning to watch what she said. “Perhaps not,” Chiron said, “But it is now so.”
“So you guys don’t trust Hades either,” I commented, “Guess that’s one thing we have in common.”
The two of them stood silently. I got to my feet, Heartstopper still in my grip, and used my shadow powers to break my cast off, no longer feeling the need to hide my powers. After seeing a display of what I could do, Annabeth looked even more afraid of me. I tried to meet Chiron’s gaze, but it was hard when he was twice my size. Despite how confident he looked, I could see that the centaur had been stricken with a bit of fear after seeing my powers in use.
“Hirius,” Chiron said, “We do not wish to be your enemies. Perhaps you might want to tell us how you came to be here.”
I looked away from them and out of the window. I thought back on everything that had happened up until that time. I took a deep breath and told them my story. I didn’t say anything about my dreams, the ones about Kronos at least, because I was afraid that talking about the titan lord would make them trust me even less. I did mention what I knew about the prophecy since I was sure that they already knew about it.
“So you have heard of the great prophecy,” Chiron said, “That saves the time to explain it.”
“He’s probably a threat to us,” Annabeth said, “I don’t think we should trust him.”
“And who are you to judge me,” I asked.
Annabeth gave me a hard look and I thought for sure that she would try to attack me, but Chiron held her back. “That’s enough,” he said, “I won’t have the two of you starting a fight.”
Annabeth and I continued to stare at each other. I tightened my grip on my sword and prepared to defend myself if it came to that. This girl was no better than anyone else that had ever judged me. Just because I was a son of Hades didn’t give her the right to say that I couldn’t be trusted. It didn’t matter if my father was the god of death. That didn’t mean that I was evil.
Annabeth backed off after a moment. “Alright,” she said, “But I hope you know what you’re doing Chiron.”
“I’m sure that I do,” Chiron said, “Now if you could be so kind as to show our new guest around.”
“What,” the two of us said in unison.
“No complaints,” he said, and with that he left the two of us alone, grumbling something about having to speak to someone he called Mr. D on his way out.
After Chiron left, Annabeth and I looked at each other. It was clear that she was irritated with the fact that she was the one that had to show me around. I can’t say that I was very happy about it either. I guessed that anyone at the camp would have a problem with me, being a son of Hades, but since I had watched this girl pull a weapon on me I considered her the worst choice to be my tour guide.
After a moment, Annabeth pointed at my sword. “If I have to do this,” she said, “Could you at least put your sword away.”
I looked down at Heartstopper. I wasn’t at all comfortable with being unarmed while she showed me the camp, especially since she had that dagger, but I thought it best not to argue with her. After all, I was going to have to put up with her for most of the day. I concentrated on the shadows and willed my blade to disappear, sending it back to its original resting place in Manhattan.
After my sword was gone, Annabeth looked at me in amazement. It was clear she had never seen a demigod like me. Or maybe she had and she was wondering how I could be a child of the elder gods as well. Chiron had said something about the oath of the big three being broken again. I was starting to wonder who the other demigod might have been and who their father was. I was also starting to wonder what could have happened to that other demigod.
After her surprise passed, Annabeth turned and left the Big House. I followed her, after standing silently for a moment. Annabeth showed me around the camp and told me about what the campers did there. The place was designed to be a safe haven for demigods, a place where they could be safe from monsters and where they could gain the skills they needed to stay alive in the outside world. It was protected by magical barriers that kept any monsters out and even hid the camp from them.
As we passed by groups of campers that were engaged in various activities, I saw a lot of them giving me strange looks. It was clear that news of my presence and who I was had spread fast. Every one of the campers looked like they wanted to kill me, or for me to at least leave and never come back. Either way, it was clear that I wasn’t going to be able to fit in here.
“That forest over there,” Annabeth said as we passed it, “We play capture the flag on Friday nights, that’s tonight if you didn’t know, so you and your friends will be joining in.”
I kept silent as Annabeth talked about how capture the flag worked at Camp Half-Blood and about how the forest was stocked with monsters. The camp sounded like fun, all of the not dangerous parts about it at least, but I didn’t really care about any of it. As far as I could tell, I wasn’t going to be staying there long. Not with the way that others were treating me.
“Annabeth,” I said while we walked. She didn’t answer me, but I went on anyway. “Why do you hate me?”
She stopped cold and I did the same. For a long time, Annabeth remained silent as she stared at the ground. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I know I shouldn’t judge you based on the fact that you’re Hades’ son, but we’re generally taught not to trust the god of the underworld…or his children.”
“I guess I can’t blame you,” I said, “Hades isn’t the nicest guy in the world.”
Annabeth looked up at me for the first time since we had left the Big House. “You’ve met him,” she asked.
“Yeah,” I said, “Multiple times in my dreams, only once in person. Either way, it’s not like he’s father of the year material.”
Annabeth let out a laugh. “For all the talk about how terrible he is,” she said, “Hades might be a better parent than Athena.” She stopped and turned away from me. “I’ve never met Athena before.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” I said, “I’m pretty sure that Hades just wants to use me to destroy Olympus or something.”
Annabeth kept her eyes on the ground as she answered. “Yeah,” she said, “That sounds more like him.”
She moved on with the tour after that. She still seemed a bit uncomfortable with me, but she was easing up fast. I think she was finally realizing that I was the same as any other demigod really, maybe I was more powerful, but I was just like any other camper otherwise. At least she seemed to be starting to trust me now.
We circled the rest of the camp, ending up back at the front of the Big House. It had taken up most of the day, especially since we had gotten to talking when the two of us got down to the beach. Annabeth was a pretty girl, when she wasn’t looking like she wanted to kill me of course. Her long blond hair and storm gray eyes were typical of any child of Athena, but she made them look good. She was tan, like she spent a lot of time on the beach. She looked like what I expected a typical girl from California to look like. She was smart too, but I expected that since she was a daughter of Athena. Overall, I could see myself being friends with her, as long as she was okay with the fact that I was a son of the god of death.
“Up on Half-Blood Hill,” Annabeth was explaining when we got back to the Big House, “That pine tree is what keeps the magical barriers up.”
I looked up at the tree and thought back to last night. I remembered how I had felt a presence inside of that tree when I touched it. I was beginning to wonder what the story behind the tree was. My curiosity only peaked when I noticed how sad Annabeth looked while she talked about it. Maybe I could figure something out if I asked her.
“How’s it keep the barriers up,” I asked, “I mean, it’s just a tree isn’t it?”
Annabeth wouldn’t answer right away. “It happened a long time ago, when I got to camp,” Annabeth explained, “Me, my friend Luke, our satyr guide Grover, and another friend of ours arrived here, but a whole army’s worth of monsters was on our trail.”
“Guess that happens a lot,” I said. Annabeth smiled for a moment.
“We weren’t going to make it,” she said, “But our friend, she was Zeus’ daughter, she faced the monsters alone so we could make it to camp.” Annabeth stopped and took a deep breath before continuing. “Before she died, Zeus turned her into that pine tree and the barrier was created so the rest of the camp could be safe.”
A tear ran down her cheek. I didn’t know anything about her friend, but it was clear that she was very important to her. “What was her name,” I asked.
Annabeth remained quiet for a time. “Thalia Grace.”
My eyes widened at the mention of the name. My memory wasn’t all that good, but that was one name that I could never forget. Thalia Grace was the girl that showed up in the alleyway when I was twelve and convinced me that I needed to go and find Emily. If I hadn’t met her when I did, I would’ve never left New York. Heck, I would have probably died back then if I hadn’t met her.
“No way,” I said, “I can’t believe that happened to her.”
Annabeth looked at me with a surprised look on her face. “You knew Thalia?”
I nodded. “I met her once,” I said, “She was the one that convinced me to go looking for my sister. That was three years ago.”
“Three years,” Annabeth said like it was a question, “That’s impossible.”
I looked back at her. “What do you mean?”
“I was seven when I got to Camp Half-Blood,” she said, “That was five years ago.”
I turned away from Annabeth and looked up at the pine tree on the crest of the hill. It was hard to tell from where I was, but I could swear I saw a girl standing next to the pine, the same girl I had met when I was twelve. The sun was directly behind her, setting now, and she almost appeared to be transparent like she was some kind of ghost. Maybe she was a ghost. Or maybe I was going crazy. Either way, Annabeth didn’t seem to see her standing there.
“Hirius,” Annabeth said.
I shook myself out of the trance I was in. “Huh,” I said, “Oh.” I looked at Annabeth again, her expression full of wonder. “That must have been someone else then,” I said.
Annabeth kept looking at me quizzically. I turned away from her and looked at the crest of Half-Blood Hill again. If anyone was actually there before, they were gone now. The girl that I saw on the hill and the girl that I met three years ago were definitely the same person, but how could I be seeing her if she had been turned into a tree? I was used to seeing dead people, but Thalia wasn’t dead, not technically anyway, so how had I seen and talked to her back then?
“Hirius,” Annabeth said again bringing back to reality for the second time, “Hey.”
“I’m alright,” I said turning to her again, “Just seeing things I think.”
Annabeth looked at me for a long time without a word. “If you say so,” she said, “We should head to the mess hall now though, it’s dinner time.”
After she said it, I heard a horn sound in the distance. Annabeth and I started walking towards the cabins. Before it was out of sight, I looked back at the pine tree on top of Half-Blood Hill. I saw that girl standing there again looking down at me now. I couldn’t tell from where I was, but I was sure that she was smiling at me.