They were supposed to have peace.
The Jackson Era brought four years of schemes, betrayals, danger and deaths at the hands of Olympus' most cunning enemy, Kronos, King of Titans.
Deception upon deception; in Year One, the Titan proved his prowess by almost causing a civil war between the Big Three that would have ravaged the world.
Year Two involved the poisoning of Thalia's Tree, the source of the camp's magic borders and the container for the life force of the daughter of Zeus; later that winter danger arose in the capture of Artemis, goddess of the Hunt, the rebirth of the Ophiotaurus, a creature that would give untold power to whoever sacrificed it, and the release of the Titan General Atlas.
Year Three brought forth new dangers and unexpected allies as the enemy sought an invasion route to destroy the camp. Their answer? The Labyrinth, an underground maze full of horrors and madness that stretched across the country if not the world.
Year Four had the final push of the Titan King as he rallied his forces to destroy a virtually unguarded Mount Olympus as the gods were west of the country fighting against the Storm Giant and Father of all Monsters, Typhon.
The demigods of Camp Half-Blood fought hard for their survival. They experienced loss, hate, betrayal, heartbreak, despair, love, sacrifice, even hopelessness. In the end they were victorious and Kronos' essence was scattered so thin its believed he will never form a consciousness ever again.
The Titan War was over and the heroes were rewarded. They were supposed to have peace.
As the saying goes: Out of the frying pan and into the fire.
The Heroes Era barely lasted a year, but its impact was undeniable. The Earth Mother, Gaea, and her children, the giants rose from the ashes of the Titan War and paved a path of chaos that left everyone scarred in some way, shape or form.
A lost hero, a leaderless camp, a captured Queen and a closed off Olympus. This was what greeted the campers on the winter of their victory. Three new demigods, one with power to charm others to her heart's desire, another with the ability to create fire, and the third, an amnesiac son of Zeus that no one knew existed were pushed on a quest to save the captured Queen and uncover just who or what the new threat was and where did the son of Zeus came from. This was Stage One.
Stage Two involved an assault on Camp Jupiter, the safe haven for Roman demigods. Percy Jackson, the missing hero of Stage One arrived in camp and with the assistance of a son of Mars and a daughter of Pluto, the three of them would travel to Alaska, a land so far north, the gods have no power or influence, in order to find a way of obtaining victory.
Stage Three had the meeting of Greek and Roman demigods go horribly wrong and bring forth a demigod civil war, incapacitating the gods as both sides call on them for support and guidance. If that weren't bad enough, a group of seven demigods must travel to the ancient lands in hopes of stopping the giants from awakening the earth goddess.
Stage Four was the worst; no if, and, or buts. With the two leaders of the crew in the most evil place the mythical world has to offer and the rest of the crew unable to work out their issues, this marked the darkest moments in their lives as they face not only impossible odds but also their own inner demons.
Stage Five gave them hope. With the possibility of ending civil war before Gaea woke, and uniting the gods in time for the final battle, the seven demigods gave their final push towards victory.
There is no triumph without loss, no victory without suffering, no freedom without sacrifice.
The demigods were prevented from killing each other in cold blood, the gods were no longer incapacitated and assisted the crew in defeating the giants. But they were too late, Gaea had awakened. With the power of storm and fire, the demigods managed to not only cut her off from her power source but destroy her completely as well.
The price was a harsh one to pay. A brave hero who thought himself worthless among his brethren sacrificed his life to ensured victory.
The Giant War ended. They were supposed to have peace.
They hoped for the best, but should have prepared for the worst.
An enemy no one thought possible, an ally no one knew existed, and a sin not yet repaid. A new Era was fast approaching, and not one soul suspected it.
They were supposed to have peace.
They didn't get it.
A taxi drove along an empty stretch of road as its passenger stared out the window as she neared her destination.
Camp Half-blood. Her home since she was seven years old.
"Here we are, Miss," the driver said. "Delphi Strawberry Farm."
The blonde paid the cabbie and grabbed her bags.
"You sure you want to drop off here?" The driver asked curiously as his fare stepped out. "I don't think a strawberry farm in winter will be a fun place to be."
The seventeen year old smiled, like she knew something he didn't. "Normally, you'd be right. But there's always something to keep you busy in this particular farm."
With her bags shouldered and gray eyes fixed on the giant pine that once held the spirit of her best friend, Annabeth Chase grinned as she began her climb.
Percy Jackson was sleeping peacefully until something pressed against his body.
The son of Poseidon stared groggily at the offending object until his vision cleared and he realized what woke him.
"Rachel?" Percy asked.
Rachel Elizabeth Dare, the current would be host for the still lost spirit of Delphi lied on top of Percy's bare chest, looking at him with mirth. "It's about time you woke up. You slept like a rock."
Percy sat up against the headboard and tried to rub the sleep out of his eyes. "Yeah, well, I'm still exhausted from staying up all night. What time is it?"
"It's almost lunch time. You have just enough time to get decent before the conch blows," Rachel said, standing up. "Don't make a mess okay? Unlike you, I prefer my room clean."
Percy stood and headed for the shower at the end of the cave. "Save me some food," he called back. "I'm starving."
Rachel laughed. "Considering your appetite, you'll probably eat half the pavilion."
"Only if it's blue!" Percy confirmed before closing the bathroom door.
"Come in," Chiron said.
The door opened, admitting Annabeth into Chiron's office. The trainer of Heroes sat behind his desk, working on papers.
Chiron grinned as he saw her. "Annabeth, you've finally arrived." He moved from his desk and hugged her.
"Sorry I'm late," Annabeth said as she separated from the hug. "Ares held me back because his statue was too big from his temple."
"What matters is that you're here now," Chiron dismissed. "Just in time for lunch too."
"Good, because I'm hungry. But umm, before we go... can we talk about the uhh, the sleeping arrangements?" Annabeth asked nervously.
She wasn't sure whether her idea would be accepted. Being near Percy and vice-versa was the most effective method they had for keeping the nightmares to a minimum with the other methods being fifty-fifty. Thankfully Sally and Paul welcomed her into their home and convinced her father that she would be safe and that they didn't mind having her with them.
Chiron's frown made Annabeth prepare for a rejection.
"Ordinarily, this proposal wouldn't even be up for discussion." Chiron scratched his beard. "But there's nothing ordinary about this, is there?" He smiled a little. "You may stay in Cabin Three; although I must warn you not to abuse this exception."
Annabeth beamed. "Don't worry, Chiron. We won't cause problems for you; well, at least I won't." She laughed a bit.
Chiron nodded. "Good. I would rather not have to deal with either of your parents because neither of you were careful."
Annabeth reddened. "Can I go unpack now?" She asked in an attempt to avoid further mortification.
"You can go, but don't be surprised if Percy's not there. He's been spending a lot of time with Rachel since they arrived early for winter break."
Annabeth's thoughts ran a mile a minute. If he's with Rachel and hasn't gotten into trouble, that means my plan actually worked. Annabeth had a small smile. I knew being with Rachel would be a calming influence on him.
A loud noise outside the big house grabbed both of their attention.
"What was that?" Annabeth asked as her hand moved towards where her knife would be; a reflex she still hasn't gotten over.
"Let's find out," Chiron told her.
Eating lunch was Percy's favorite activity.
Along with spending time with Annabeth, eating breakfast and dinner (separately or together, Percy didn't care as long as he could eat), spending time with Annabeth, going swimming, practicing sword fighting, and finally spending time with Annabeth.
Percy, along with Rachel, sat on the Poseidon table. The rule that campers must sit on their parent's table was still in effect for the most part, but now campers could sit at other tables as long as they were wanted at said table.
Percy watched the campers entered the pavilion. Normally on winter break there wouldn't be that many campers, but thanks to the Claiming Oath he had the gods swear to, and the fact that a decent number of Romans decided to stay rather than return to New Rome, there were almost three hundred campers total.
"Looking for someone?" Rachel said, next to him. He nodded. "Somebody I know?"
Percy turned to her and smiled. "I would so. The two of you did compete over me at one time." Rachel flicked his forehead. "Ow! What was that for?"
"Ego control," Rachel said. "I can't have Annabeth chasing me down for not keeping you in line."
"You make me sound like a misbehaving dog or something," Percy said, offended.
Rachel shrugged with a smile. "You kind of are. Only difference is that you're already housebroken."
"Thanks. I can feel the love," Percy said.
Rachel didn't respond, her attention focused on something behind Percy.
"What is it?" Percy asked. He made to turn, but Rachel held his face in place.
"Don't freak out okay," she said.
That wasn't ominous at all. Not at all.
"Are you channeling the Oracle even though you don't have her in you? Cause that was freaky."
"No," Rachel replied. "It's just that a camper is going to cover your eyes and I don't want you freaking out and ruin five months of therapy."
Percy didn't get to think on that cause just then his eyes were covered and he couldn't see anything.
Deep breaths, Percy told himself. You're in camp. Rachel's in front of me and a camper with a lemony scent is is waiting for me guess who they are.
Wait... Lemony scent?
"Annabeth?" Percy called out. He felt the camper craned his neck back before letting him see again. When the hands were gone, Percy saw his Wise Girl, seemingly upside down, smiling at him.
"Hey Seaweed Brain." She gave him a tender kiss. "Did you miss me?"
Percy smiled widely. "Of course I missed you. Isn't it obvious?"
Annabeth walked to Rachel's side before answering. "I wouldn't know; from what I hear, you've been very busy spending time with Rachel."
Percy was confused by that. "Well, yeah. You told me too, remember?" He shifted, ready to bolt if necessary. "Or was that some kind of test that I majorly failed?"
Annabeth didn't answer and Rachel was smiling like a madwoman.
Since Percy believed he was in trouble, he made to get up and run, but stopped when the girls burst out laughing.
"Gods, Percy," Annabeth said, trying to calm down. "Did you really think you were in trouble?"
Percy took the safe option, or at least he hoped it was the safe option. "Yes."
A voice called out from behind him. "Percy!"
The teen turned around to see Hazel, Frank, Nico and Will walking to his table.
"Hazel, Frank!" Percy went to the Romans and gave them a big hug.
When he pulled away, Hazel was blushing and Frank was trying to get the feeling in his arms back.
"When did you guys get here?"
Annabeth stood next to Percy. "About a few minutes ago, we can talk while we eat."
Immediately, Percy's stomach rumbled, sounding like a dying animal. The teens laughed at the embarrassed Percy.
"What?" He challenged. "I haven't eaten all day."
"In that case," Annabeth said, "let's hope they made enough for you, otherwise you'll eat the pavilion."
The sun shined high above a forest clearing. In the center lied a ten feet long mechanical bronze dragon with a boy seemingly working on it while a caramel haired girl sat near a pot over a campfire.
"How's it coming Leo?" The girl asked.
The sound of sparks and a cursing Leo told her all she needed to know.
"At this rate we'll never make it to Camp Half-Blood," She said with a sigh.
A soft chuckle drew her attention to the forest. A female figure carrying a deer step into the clearing, the girl's black combat boots made no sound as she neared the girl next to the fire.
"You hungry Calypso?" The girl asked.
"A little," Calypso responded. "We really can't thank you enough for all your help, Selene."
Selene shrugged as she began preparing the deer. "Wasn't a problem really. We were both heading in the same direction."
The girl smiled. "Although I would have preferred that you guys hadn't almost flattened me for a first meeting."
"It wasn't on purpose Ninja Queen," Leo complained as he sat next to Calypso. "We had to make an emergency landing to get away from the gryphons."
Selene narrowed her eyes at the fire user, though it was hard to tell because of her wrap-around glasses. "Must you joke about everything?"
Leo thought about it as he stirred the stew. "Not everything; just most things."
"Typical male," Selene muttered.
"How long before we can go, Leo?" Calypso asked. She didn't want Leo full of arrows. The huntress had told her she usually wasn't this patient when dealing with boys.
"I think we can leave after we eat," Leo said. "If my calculations are right, we should be able to reach Camp by tomorrow or the day after."
"Well in that case," Selene said as she served the stew, "let's eat."
In a dark cavern illuminated by a multitude of crystals, three misty figures in hooded cloaks stood at its center.
"Everything is going as planned," the figure in blue spoke. "Soon all the pieces will be in place, and vengeance will be ours."
"Perhaps," the green figure said. "But we must not allow ourselves to claim victory so soon in the game. After all, no plan survives contact with the enemy."
The third figure, cloaked in black, nodded in response to Green's words. "The gods and heroes will be surprised and outraged once the truth comes out."
Blue raised a hand and sparks ran across the fingers. "I hope these heroes give me a good fight."
A snake made of water slithered around Green's body. "If I didn't know any better, I would think you were a daughter of Ares."
Black looked around as if worried someone was listening. "Our meeting must be cut short. The monsters tracking me will reach me in ten minutes. Take care, sisters." She vanished with a black shimmer.
"Be careful," Green warned Blue. "And be patient. We can't afford any of our enemies knowing of our existence before the plan unfolds."
Blue nodded. "I know, I know. We must wait for the package to be delivered. Heh. With the Hunt heading to Camp Half-Blood, We won't have to wait long."
Both figures vanished and the crystals glow dimmed, engulfing the cave in darkness.