(4) I Kinda Explain Everything
Word of the bathroom incident spread immediately. Wherever we went, campers pointed at Percy and murmured something about toilet water. Or maybe they were just staring at me, I was still pretty much dripping wet.
I showed him a few more places: the metal shop (where the Hephaestus kids were forging their own swords), the arts-and-crafts room (where satyrs were sandblasting a giant marble statue of a goat-man), and the climbing wall, which consisted of two facing walls that shook violently, dropped boulders, sprayed lava and clashed together if you didn’t get to the top fast enough.
Finally we returned to the canoeing lake, where the trail led back to the cabins.
“I’ve got training to do,” I said flatly. “Dinner’s at seven thirty. Just follow your cabin to the mess hall.”
“Annabeth, I’m sorry about the toilets.”
“It wasn’t my fault.”
I looked at him skeptically, it was his fault. He’d made water shoot out of the bathroom fixtures. The toilets had responded to him. Percy had become one with the plumbing. And his new found talent is giving me some ideas on who is father was.
“You need to talk to the Oracle,” I said.
“Not who. What. The Oracle. I’ll ask Chiron.”
Percy gazed at the lake, and then stumbled back. I looked into the lake and saw two teenage girls sitting cross-legged at the base of the pier, about five meters below. They wore blue jeans and shimmering green T-shirts, and their brown hair floated loose around their shoulders as minnows darted in and out. They smiled and waved at Percy as if they knew him.
Percy cautiously waved back.
“Don’t encourage them,” I warned him. “Naiads are terrible flirts.”
“Naiads,” he repeated. “That’s it. I want to go home now.”
I frowned. “Don’t you get it, Percy? You are home. This is the only safe place on earth for kids like us.”
“You mean, mentally disturbed kids?”
“I mean not human. Not totally human, anyway. Half-human.”
“Half-human and half-what?”
“I think you know.”
Percy hesitated, and then said, “God. Half-god.”
I nodded. “Your father isn’t dead. Percy. He’s one of the Olympians.”
“Is it? What’s the most common thing gods did in the old stories? They ran around falling in love with humans and having kids with them. Do you think they’ve changed their habits in the last few millennia?”
“But those are just –” He paused, covering up his mistake and continued, “But if all the kids here are half-gods –”
“Demigods,” I corrected. “That’s the official term. Or half-bloods.”
“Then who’s your dad?”
My hands tightened around the pier railing. I didn’t like talking about my family. There was nothing to gloat about. “My dad is a professor at West Point,” I said. “I haven’t seen him since I was very small. He teaches American history.”
“What? You assume it has to be a male god who finds a human female attractive? How sexist is that?”
“Who’s your mom, then?”
I straightened. “Athena. Goddess of wisdom and battle.”
“And my dad?”
“Undetermined,” I said, “like I told you before. Nobody knows.”
“Except my mother. She knew.”
“Maybe not, Percy. Gods don’t always reveal their identities.”
“My dad would have. He loved her.”
I gave him a cautious look. I didn’t want to burst his bubble, most of the time gods didn’t reveal who they were because mortals could go insane from knowing too much.
“Maybe you’re right. Maybe he’ll send a sign. That’s the only way to know for sure: your father has to send you a sign claiming you as his son. Sometimes it happens.”
“You mean sometimes it doesn’t?”
I ran my palm along the rail. “The gods are busy. They have a lot of kids and they don’t always... Well, sometimes they don’t care about us, Percy. They ignore us.”
Percy stayed quiet for a little bit. “So I’m stuck here. That’s it? For the rest of my life?”
“It depends,” I replied. “Some campers only stay the summer. If you’re a child of Aphrodite or Demeter, you’re probably not a real powerful force. The monsters might ignore you, so you can get by with a few months of summer training and live in the mortal world the rest of the year. But for some of us, it’s too dangerous to leave. We’re year-rounders. In the mortal world, we attract monsters. They sense us. They come to challenge us. Most of the time, they’ll ignore us until we’re old enough to cause trouble – about ten or eleven years old – but after that most demigods either make their way here, or they get killed off. A few manage to survive in the outside world and become famous. Believe me, if I told you the names, you’d know them. Some don’t even realize they’re demigods. But very, very few are like that.”
“So monsters can’t get in here?”
I shook my head. “Not unless they’re intentionally stocked in the woods or specially summoned by somebody on the inside.”
“Why would anybody want to summon a monster?”
“Practice fights. Practical jokes.”
“The point is, the borders are sealed to keep mortals and monsters out. From the outside, mortals look into the valley and see nothing unusual, just a strawberry farm.”
“So... you’re a year-rounder?”
I nodded again. From under the collar of my T-shirt I pulled a leather necklace with five clay beads of different colors. It was just like any other campers, except mine also had a big gold ring strung on it, my father’s college ring.
“I’ve been here since I was seven,” I said. “Every August, on the last day of summer session, you get a bead for surviving another year. I’ve been here longer than most of the counsellors, and they’re all in college.”
“Why did you come so young?”
I twisted my father’s ring on my necklace. “None of your business.”
“Oh.” We stood there for a minute in uncomfortable silence.
“So... I could just walk out of here right now if I wanted to?”
“It would be suicide, but you could, with Mr D’s or Chiron’s permission. But they wouldn’t give permission until the end of the summer session unless...”
“You were granted a quest. But that hardly ever happens. The last time...”
My voice trailed off. The last time hadn’t gone well, just ask Luke.
“Back in the sick room,” Percy said, “when you were feeding me that stuff –”
“Yeah. You asked me something about the summer solstice.”
I felt my shoulders tense. “So you do know something?”
“Well... no. Back at my old school, I overheard Grover and Chiron talking about it. Grover mentioned the summer solstice. He said something like we didn’t have much time, because of the deadline. What did that mean?”
I clenched my fists. “I wish I knew. Chiron and the satyrs, they know, but they won’t tell me. Something is wrong in Olympus, something pretty major. Last time I was there, everything seemed so normal.”
“You’ve been to Olympus?”
“Some of us year-rounders – Luke and Clarisse and I and a few others – we took a field trip during winter solstice. That’s when the gods have their big annual council.”
“But... how did you get there?”
“The Long Island Railroad, of course. You get off at Penn Station. Empire State Building, special elevator to the six-hundredth floor.” I looked at him, shouldn’t he know how to get to the Empire State Building? “You are a New Yorker, right?”
“Oh, sure.” I had a feeling he was tempted to point out there were only a hundred and two floors at the Empire State Building, but he stayed quiet.
“Right after we visited,” I continued, “the weather got weird, as if the gods had started fighting. A couple of times since, I’ve overheard satyrs talking. The best I can figure out is that something important was stolen. And if it isn’t returned by summer solstice, there’s going to be trouble. When you came, I was hoping... I mean – Athena can get along with just about anybody, except for Ares. And of course she’s got the rivalry with Poseidon. But, I mean, aside from that, I thought we could work together. I thought you might know something.”
He shook my head.
“I’ve got to get a quest,” I muttered to no one in particular. “I’m not too young. If they would just tell me the problem...” Percy’s stomach growling broke my train of thoughts. I told him to go on, I’d catch him later. Percy left me on the pier, tracing my finger across the rail trying to figure out how I’d get a quest.
A/N: ugh I love writing this in Annabeth’s perspective so much already! If y’all have any ideas or if anything is incorrect, PLEASE tell me! I want this to be as accurate as possible. I hope y’all enjoy this as much as I am :)