The Little Mermaid and the Narcoleptic
For a few seconds I was falling, but I'd barely realised before my bare feet smacked into cold hard stone. I opened my eyes, seeing that I'd just silently landed in a huge, square room, glittering with age. The walls and floor around me were dusted with centuries and isolation, masking the full brilliance of the mason's marble work. The precious stones, embedded on the walls and various Godly statues, cried out faintly; and at the centre of the room was a massive, black, engraved, altar.
Behind this, stood three fashionable hipsters (bountiful in the non-coconut sense).
As my instinct finally kicked in, I sidestepped behind the nearest thickset pillar - hoping the single burning brasier above their heads wouldn't give me away. Deploying my hopeless ninja impression, I peeped out from behind the pillar. Gauging by their fashionably pale hair, matching dresses of green, blue and purple (and the fact that they were dry, yet dripping water) I guessed that they were Naids.
All three of them were pouring over what looked like a scrap of brown paper, the youngest (and apparent leader of the three) tapping it thoughtfully with long purple nails - barely listening while the other two addressed her from either side. I caught the scratchy voices of the other two beside her, as they echoed around the large room.
"But we've checked everywhere sister-" started the green one, but the purple Naid's cool laugh and her deeper, velvet voice cut her off,
"My dear Doris; it doesn't matter where we've looked. We might have already passed it by. And there is little chance of finding what Hades hid away, without knowing what form it takes before hand." The purple nymph smiled for a sour second, then shook her head defiantly, "no, we must wait for them to find it - it's only a matter of time...you have both been sending tasters to both the messenger and the sleeper, haven't you?"
'Doris' nodded proudly, sharing a quick glance of relief with the blue Naid. The purple one's mouth curved upwards, her head readjusting, as she settled her piercing plum coloured eyes on me.
My heart leapt into my throat and I threw myself back against the stone pillar, my heart pounding but out of sight, waiting for bare-footed pacing to get closer.
But before any of the Naids could make a move, the floor beneath my feet suddenly turned to water. And I fell through an icy blackness, leaving the technicolor water women behind me. The only thing I could make out though the darkness was the tiny square marble tile, fitting itself back into what was now the ceiling, as I fell through nothing, with the wind whipping past my pajamas.
My stomach lurched painfully as I felt myself being flung back into my sleepy body. And as the blackness spun out of my head, I recognised that I was back lying on my hard mattress; my heart pounding viciously, and my surroundings blurring into the morning.
Familiarity hit me, as my ears tuned back into the blaring punk music, and forced myself to blink back into the world of my cabin mates - who were in the process of going through the morning motions (meaning a whole lot of lumping dark make-up, amulets, and black clothing over their heads).
With a few deep breaths I forced my heart to slow down and, after a bloody mental battle, I convinced myself to get up and dressed for breakfast.
I put on a pair of shorts, and my camp half blood t-shirt; sliding my old string bag over my head and securing my purple cloak around my neck (which hid the bag from view). Tucking myself out of the way, sitting cross legged on my messy bottom bunk, I quickly checked that no one had nicked anything out of my bag while I slept - but no one paid me any attention anyway (possibly out of respect to dear old Mumsy).
Hecate (apparently) wanted her kids to do nothing but work hard - all while she spent her days around graveyards, crossroads, or catching the odd roller coaster around the underworld. Everyone else in my cabin seemed to be proud of this; which was obvious from the whole walking dead trend they all seemed to be following (and all the levels of 'black magic' they spent their days studying - to raise a dead shrew and/or play tricks on the mortals using the mist). They're a lovely lot (if you're blind, deaf, and in-able to feel any emotion/sensation).
Me? Well… I wasn't like that, to put simply.
I was the only one in the Hecate cabin, who actually wore their orange camp-half blood t-shirt (and owned no black clothes). I was also the weirdo that made their cape purple, instead of black; because, although it was compulsory for Hecate kids to wear a cape, I wasn't fond of Mother's OTT obsession with dark, bleak, and down right depressing colour schemes.
In fact, I'm a bit of a hippy; and the flower-power-spirit runs in- no gallops through most of my Dad's side of the family.
But it wasn't just the life styles of my cabin mates, that I wasn't that fond of; the whole concept of Hecate's powers just felt wrong for me. Her main talent was necromancy. I think it's probably why she made a beeline for my Dad (who, while leading many save the valley protests, is one of these 'hotlines to heaven' for ghosts and their relatives). But I've just never been interested in anything like that; not now, not ever - I prefer stuff that is still breathing.
That said, I'm not exactly a social butterfly; never mind the fact I am the socially awkward penguin (Godling addition), everyone tends to stray away from the Hecate kids - mostly because Hades and Hecate are too chummy, but also because my siblings look like the spawn of the devil (having a seriously bad hair day).
That said, I still had one friend, and that was Catie. Sure (being a child of Hebe) it's almost impossible to hate her, but she's one of the only ones who I trust with my secret 'weirdness'.
And by 'weirdness' I don't mean liking ketchup sandwiches - I mean commanding the fifth regiment of duracell bunnies. Think about that for a second. Yeah. You heard me.
Now I know, that you know, that powers over the natural world isn't that unusual for a demigod; but being a child of shadows, mists plus all things dark and ugly, having flowers spring up behind you when you walk isn't that normal (for anyone who's not Demeter's kid, anyway). It's like being the ultimate hippy; as in the literal queen of queen bees. Don't ask me where its from, not even Chiron can (or will) tell me.
But, like anyone with a scrap of brain power, I try to keep it on the down low - so that only Chiron and Catie know. Cause, as I'm told, only kids of the almighty trio are meant to be blessed with my level of awesomeness; and, trust me, there isn't anyone on the planet that has less of right to magical powers then the 15 year old (non-violent) demigod. Someone like...oh I don't know…me? [please use this time to appropriately facepalm at the logic of three crazy grannies knitting the socks of fate].
In summary; I be the commander of mother nature, wearing a (purple) cape, and am apparently pretty powerful. Here comes the down side.
Every animal and branch of foliage, on camp grounds, takes it upon itself to await my command when I come within 5 ft of it - meaning we had to have a little chat, so they'll only come when they're called (instead of stalking me around campus)...but we all know how unpredictable dandelions can be. Plus, when you're in the situation of someone trying to be dramatic, and lop your head of with a sword, it kinda kills the atmosphere if all you can hear is the trees holding an intellectual debate.
Fast forwards to the outside world, and my pathetic acting skills come into play. For example, when the multiple bands of AristoCats are wondering the school halls, I have to pretend that I'm a cat person when they make a bee-line for me.
And what's annoying is that, although I'm fluent in tree, I only get a one way conversation with the animal kingdom. So, while I can order them around, I can't ask any of the animals why they put their lives on hold to find me during algebra - and the trees are too philosophical to give me a straight answer (that a simple minded, ignorant demigod can understand).
"Breakfast, s'go!" Shouted Lou Ellen (turning off the music). I looked up as our cabin leader tugged on the door, stalking out into the morning with her cloak flying behind her. I raked my green converse from under my bunk, shoving them on my feet as everyone filed out with their cloaks in tow. Loosely tying the laces of my shoes, I bolted after my cabin mates; making an effort to repress my 'butter-fingers' trait, so I didn't trip over my cloak and then chock/get a mouthful of dewy dirt.
I jumped the three steps outside, catching up with everyone in a few paces, and took my place (as the newest cabin member) at the rear of the line of Hecate kids. I sighed with relief, but looking back at the cabin over my shoulder I saw the door still hung open over the steps - something that doesn't please my surprisingly OCD siblings.
Swallowing my panic I pushed against the thin air (as discreetly as possible) willing a breeze to swing into the door. Thankfully, the wind was feeling rather kind, as it sealed itself back against the wooden frame with an audible click; and the magical writing, engraved on every scrap of grey brickwork, flashed a bright blue - house speak for 'I AM LOCKED' (as if by magic).
I turned back around, smiling (glad no one had noticed my hippy magic); but no sooner had I refocused on the black cloak in front of me, someone shoved into my shoulder from behind.
I stumbled, almost kick starting a game of magical-human dominos, but just about regained my balance in time to catch a smirk on the renowned (antisocial) black haired Nike boy, who was strutting as arrogantly as ever, towards breakfast.
I scowled heavily as he turned away, and just as my internal rant drew breath I spotted some Demeter kids 20ft away - and opportunity waved at me from a fluffy little golden cloud. With a tug in my stomach I flicked my wrist (keeping it at my side to be discreet), and concentrated on the Nike boy's feet.
Two gnarled tree roots answered me, cutting through the grass in seconds; one hugging his ankle tightly, yanking it back, while the other smacked him hard across the backside, which the tree obviously thought of all by itself…
With a comical squeal he face planted, the tree roots gleefully recoiling back beneath the grass.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is one of many examples, one might use, when persuading those you love to give a tree a hug (every now and again) - because the trees will come for yo' ass...
Leaving the Nike boy to his badly-contained tantrum, I smugly followed my siblings to breakfast...
After everyone was seated, and Chiron had said a quick how-de-do-de/praise be to all our Godly parents, we all dug in. And, as usual, I hadn't even stabbed a triangle of pancake before the infamous (unusually good looking) Hypnos boy, skidding through the door way.
Everyone spared him a quick glance, the Aphrodite table swooning as his cheeks coloured bashfully but other then that, no one paid him much more attention (as it was a pretty much everyday occurrence). Leaving me to continue plowing through my plate of glorified sugar, sat patiently in front of me...
I blinked heavily, the daylight screwing with the colours of my surroundings. I heaved a steady groan. Gingerly lifting my face, out of the plate of dead breakfast, I picked a few baked beans off my eyebrows and grabbed a clump of napkins - noticing, without much surprise, that I was alone in the mess hall. I scrubbed my face ruggedly, getting the worst of my breakfast off, then got to my feet - trudging my way to the showers.
Baked bean boy - what a life...
It wasn't one I'd pick if I had the choice, and being half god wasn't the problem. The fact that my Mum fell asleep randomly, and then went on to meet the God of sleep was more troubling. And it wasn't Hypnos' trademark that I minded (hell, sleeping all day like my cabin mates would've been annoying but bearable); the bit that got on my nerves was that I got Mum's narcoleptic trait of falling asleep on the spot - meaning I collapse, with three seconds warning, can't be woken, and can't get to sleep any other way.
I'll admit; it's a good excuse for missing P.E, and/or a way out of getting yelled at for missing homework deadlines - but it's not quite so cool when your:
a)50ft in the air on the back of a (very fat and stupid) pegasi
b)Fighting in a very dangerous battle - usually with a monster that doesn't understand it isn't supposed to kill you.
c)Trying to be sit down and have a serious conversation, but end up head butting the table (and activating my 'Godly-powers' of snoring as loud as the average elephant).
All of which I've done, none of which have been fun.
Sure, it's hilarious to everyone else, but it has other people think that I'm not worth the effort to hang around; because I'm constantly drained of energy, and I can't tell when my lights are gonna turn out. So I'm not that reliable.
All in all, I'm a anxious, sleep deprived wall flower - talk about a full CV...
I forced myself out of the shower, half an hour after I'd switched the water on, for no other reason then being 3 minutes away from becoming a raisin.
The Hypnos cabin has never had much of a timetable, seeing as it's only me that ever awake to do anything, so I was always left to do whatever I wanting. Training was a good way to pass the time, and let off some steam, and for the last year I'd been looking into archery - because it was my worst weapon, and I had a lot of practice time on my hands.
With that in mind, I headed for the training arena, hoping I could get into the store room (without being noticed and/or stopped); but as I opened the door, I heard the clatter of swords on shields echoing through a small crack in the door to the practice area. Pausing for a second to peep through the crack I saw Jay (the puffed up Nike boy) and Eric (son of Nemesis) dancing around with metal in their hands. They were both aiming for the heart, head or throat, just like they always did, in as friendly of a way as two teenagers with a hatred for each other (and swords in their hands) could possibly do so.
Nothing new, I assure you.
Knowing that they would probably be at it till beyond nightfall, I left them to it and strode towards the equipment room; retrieving my bow and arrows from their hiding place, behind a bitter old shield in the corner...
After an hour of shooting at targets my fingers were sore, and my patience with the squealing Aphrodite girls was at absolute zero; apparently, according to a few gossipy nymphs, I'm good looking (so most of the Aphrodite kids have tried to tail my every move at some point). It's a great boost for self esteem and all, but they can turn into really creepy stalkers - however charming and pretty they all seem to be, I do not want to be carried off somewhere if/when I suddenly switch to snooze mode.
Not wanting to to strike up a conversation I ditched the girls ninja style - not bothering to make any friends through small talk because, usually, when I open my mouth all I end up doing to embarrassing myself (seeing as I don't really talk to anyone).
When I was sure they'd all gone, I rolled out from under the bush, and began skirting the lake for my little hiding place.…
Still twirling my bow between my fingers, I watched the stars wink into existence; lying on a large, square boulder and hidden from view, only by a larger outcrop of rock. I'd found my hiding place back in the first days of camp; seeing a small sapling growing from a boulder, and realising that no one else cared to look in its direction.
Funnily enough, not only was a tree the symbol of my Dad, but it also had an engraving of a tree on its surface - so I'm guessing I'm not the first Hypnos demigod to investigate, using the pathway of submerged stepping stones, that led back to shore.
Everything was peaceful and quiet now; the night broken only by the occasional splash of a few water nymphs by the far shore, and the wind in the trees. I had a feeling that everyone back at camp had been in bed for around an hour, and hoped I was going the same way as I yawned silently.
"Simon, son of Hypnos...I needth a moment of your time." I sat up, my head whipping around for the ripples of a whisper (belonging to what sounded like Shakespeare's great-great-grandaughter). But no such descendant was keeping herself afloat at the foot of my rock. Infact it was Disney's Arial, clinging to a ridge at the waterline of my larger boulder, and fixing me with an anxious expression.
"I, Eurynome, bear a message for thou young hero..." trying to ignore the failure of Old English she used, I leaned a little closer as she spoke a little faster, "I have travelled far tides, by instruction of the Earth shaker, to bring tidings of the foreseen."
She paused for a second, seeming to let all that sink in (or, more accurately, giving me time to translate it all into modern english), but before I could get any further then she was doing her rounds at Poseidon's postal service, she hurried on,
"I must inform you thusly, of your role in the days to come. You and seven others must rise from the ashes or all is lost." I raised my eyebrows, 300% sure she'd got the wrong demigod; no one is ever just chosen to play a role cast by the Gods - you've either got to be well connected with family, or just amazingly talented at everything.
"What...me?" I asked, making her glance around cautiously (as if she felt wondering eyes) hesitating as she whispered even quieter,
"Ye must listen with haste, and harken my words to thy heart. With Hecate's misunderstood, Nike's arrogance, Nemesis' balance, Hebe's leader, Tyche's luck and Iris's foresight, you must travel to the land once sunk beneath.
Henceforth find your girl in black, teach, and be taught - listen well or all might be lost.
I give you permission to enter the land further beyond, as does the Earth shaker to Hecate's child, but you must collect one of these from each who sunk it firstly, in order for each of you to enter-" I pulled myself closer to her, interrupting in a whisper shout,
"Wait, what?!" but she disregarded my words and said in a hurried tone,
"Look for the signs, Iris shall tell you where. Look to your leader, Hecate will guide you but only with guidance, do not denote her presence. Look for safety, Nike will protect even the hated, but only if he is at peace. Look for confidence, Nemesis knows how to play a game, have faith. Look to surprise, Tyche has to later bestow it, and will guide when blizzards blind you. Look for a friend, Hebe shall help provide a lock for a lost key, and knows more then is obvious to thine eye.
You must move quickly. As the sun rises 10 days from now, it shall be too late." She reached up a hand expectantly, pulling my forearm towards her, and pushing something solid into my hand (closing the fingers over it as she slipped a little deeper into the water).
She starting to paddle away, "may Tyche find your worthy of truth, like all others left to pass at each trail." I reached out a hand,
"Hey! WAIT! I NEED TO WRITE THAT ALL DOWN!" And from 20 ft away I thought I saw her smile knowingly at me, her gentle voice making ripples over the water as I thought I heard her whisper,
"You are you for a reason. Use it well hero." I raised my voice now,
"What's that even supposed to mean?!" But Eurynome the mermaid smiled and sunk beneath the glassy lake.
I was half tempted to jump in after her, but logic told me I would never find her - not in this lake, not in my lifetime, because Gods never do anything the easy way. Resigned to my gloomy boulder, I pried opened the fingers she'd closed around something.
I found two pouches in my hand, with their openings tied taught with a string, long enough to hang around someone's neck. On the outside they were identical in every way, except for the imprinted symbol on one face of the square shaped pouch.
One was the symbol of Hecate (with two crossed torches), and one was the symbol of Hypnos (a tree).
Out common sense I didn't try to open up the Hecate one (with my luck I'd get towed to the underworld for a surprise party), but I did pull the Hypnos one open, and emptied its contents into my hand. Three things fell into my palm;
1) what looked like a blue (chocolate-candy-covered) Smartie
2) a metal imprint of the the tree on the front of the pouch
3) a stone, somewhere between sapphire and turquoise, which surface almost rippled in the moonlight.
A metal weight sunk in my stomach.
So lets get this straight. One crazy, medieval speaking, fishy Disney princess, just swims on up to me, spews a possible prophesy, gives me some candy, a broach, and a gemstone for good luck, then swims off into the night never to be seen again. And I'm meant to be important in preventing something, with the help of only this pouch and six other outcasts - that must supposedly rise from the ashes.
There has got to be a better chance or everyone drowning in smarties (that have fallen from the sky) then me lending a helpful hand in saving the world.
What an idiot little mermaid...
I sprinted for the big house not long after logic kicked in - hoping that Chiron could assure me I was hallucinating. I arrived breathless, clutching the pouches in one hand and leaning on the well lit porch, and pounding the door with the other.
No one answered.
My stomach started feeling uncomfortably warm and I pounded the door harder, hearing footsteps from behind it as sleep clawed its way over shoulders.
My vision started to see-saw and I struggled to hang onto consciousness, needing to stay awake and warn Chiron.
As someone opened the door I managed to get out,
"The little mermaid just…" before the world went blank, and I crumpled to the floor in front of who I thought might be Argus - the two mysterious pouches still held tightly, in one hand...