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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Camp Half Blood- December Hoff- Christmas at Camp

December 25,
December peered out the window at the falling flakes. A skinny boy trudge through the inches of snow that had already fallen. His black hair flopped over his light blue eyes. A black blindfold was clutched tightly in one hand. His other hand hovered uncertainly in front of the door. Summer yanked the door open and nearly tackled him in a bear hug. Renoir staggered backwards from her skinny frame. The two whirled around to face December.
"December, hurry up!" said Summer, bouncing on her heels. December smiled and struggled to light the fire. Jillian twirled her streaked hair around her finger and watched December’s attempts with amusement.
"Here," she said, snitching the match box before December could resist or protest. The fire blazed to life warming the way-too crammed cabin. December sat cross-legged on the floor and watched the lights dim. A dark red curtain was opened to reveal a dark skinned girl with dreadlocks. She staggered forward with a cane. Her features were screwed up to look like an old person. December recognized her bunk buddy Ivy. She was hobbling forward with her crutch. The crowd howled with laughter at Ivy’s next line. Something distracted December from her small group of siblings. Three people entered quietly in the back. One was that irritating little huntress of Artemis. The other was another Asian named Andrew. The third was the object of December’s interest. His dark hair swept across his olive-colored skin as he gazed up intently at Ivy who was making everyone cry laughing. She bit her glossy lip and tried to focus on the play in front of her. The sweater that had been so comfortable earlier was becoming itchy and hot. Without warning, December sprang nimbly to her feet and grabbed her jacket on the way out. Her chestnut colored hair tumbled over her shoulders and scarf. In the night, her eyes looked dark blue. The snowflakes fell softly on top of her white hat. December did not hear the door softly click behind her. She turned slowly with her arms stretched out wide to catch any snowflakes. She caught sight of Dorian heading her way across the grounds to the frozen pond. His black eyes were shadowed mysteriously by his covering of swishy hair. The archway above December sprouted a sprig of mistletoe.
"What are you doing out here, Decie?" asked Dorian, comfortably stepping close to her. Her gaze wandered listlessly across the winter wonderland.
"I needed a walk," she replied, her gaze drifting almost lazily to the sprig of mistletoe. Her usual smirk was gone leaving an unfamiliar, wondering expression on her face. The moonlight lit the silver eyeliner and made her eyes glow in a bewitching manner. A small puff of air escaped Dorian as he exhaled. The white cloud disappeared in another cloud from December’s mouth.
"You don’t get cold, do you?" asked Dorian, rubbing his hands together while trying to warm them. December smiled faintly.
"No, not really," she replied, her gaze drifting back to the mistletoe. She could have sworn that she heard a chuckle from some hidden nymph.
"So I don’t have an excuse to wrap my arms around you then?" asked Dorian, a slight smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. His Greek accent overlaid his speech thickly. December’s cheeks tinged slightly pink.
"Not so much," she replied, not realizing until that moment how close they were standing. His breath was shockingly warm against her pink nose. It was funny how much they had detested each other when they first met, thought December. Now...
December quenched her giddy desire to run away and scream a high-pitched, girly shriek at the top of her lungs. Her eyelids closed just before their lips connected. A cold wind blasted her hair every which way. Her eyes opened briefly to see what all the commotion was about. Her eyes widened as she realized a cold wind had whipped around and gathered snow into a cyclone around them. The wind lowered them when Dorian pulled away. December blushed more but nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard a loud herumph from the direction of the cabin. She turned her head in surprise to see her two siblings struggling on the porch. Summer was attempting to hold back Renoir who apparently had been told that his big sister was making out with some guy. He was struggling against her skinny arms in vain. December’s laugh tinkled out in the nippy air. December turned back to him with a slight smirk playing at her lips.
"I don’t think that my family approves," she chuckled, her cold hands on his face. His dark eyes darted to the siblings and came back to her with a dangerous gleam in his eyes.
"I guess they aren’t going to be happy with me after this," responded Dorian, slipping one arm around her waist and positioning her head with the other. The hand slipped under her jaw and pressed her head towards his while he kissed her again. Renoir gave an unmanly squeak as he struggled against his thirteen year old sister who was winning the fight. The couple laughed again as they kissed under the mistletoe.

Friday, November 11, 2011

chapter nine

When Addison woke up, he heard a great deal of clinking. He opened his eyes to see all of his friends bustling about the room. Annabeth was packing and shouting orders. (Addison did not know how he slept through that.) Leo and Piper were cooking, and Mae and Jason were helping pack and cleaning up. The creepy words kept echoing in Addison’s mind, and he looked at Mae. Annabeth did not give him long to think, however, and promptly set him to work.
"Where to next?" asked Leo, cheerfully.
"I’m not sure," responded Jason.
"We might have to stop looking for Percy and go on with the quest." said Annabeth, quietly. There was a pregnant pause while everyone stopped working and just stood there.
"Stop looking for Percy?" repeated Mae, slowly. No one could believe her.
"What was your prophecy?" asked Jason, to Annabeth. Her head snapped up sharply.
"Why would you think that I had a prophecy?" demanded Annabeth. Her eyes blazed in a wild way. Jason looked a little taken back.
"Umm, because you were told not to forget your original quest," answered Jason. Annabeth’s eyes calmed down to their calculating gray.
"I can’t tell you right now," said Annabeth, focusing mainly on her backpack.
"I have an idea where we could go next," said Addison, timidly. All eyes turned towards him.
"I’ve had this dream twice now," he began. Addison recounted his dream but left out the exact wording about Mae.
"Mae, the voice told me that you knew who he was," said Addison. Mae opened and shut her mouth.
"I don’t know," she admitted, shrugging. They all looked defeated. Suddenly, Mae bent over clutching her stomach.
"Bound by Gaea’s lie
A god from on high
A star makes up his eye
His body is our sky."
Green smoke and the faint hint of the smell of snake skin poured out of her mouth. Her voice was creepily layered. Her entire body shivered, and her body went slack. As suddenly as it appeared, it left her. Mae was coughing her lungs out on the floor. Addison knelt by her side and patted her back. Mae looked up to see everyone’s horrified expressions.
"What just happened?" she asked, sounding exhausted. Annabeth gave her a quizzical look. Her expression clearly stated that she was calculating what else could the daughter of Apollo do. Mae was held up to a higher power in her eyes.
"Ouranos," said Annabeth, snapping out of her daze and ignoring Mae’s question completely.
"That’s where we’re headed next." Mae glanced around confused. She had no idea what just happened.
"Apollo has blessed her." rang in Addison’s ears.
It was sad to see everyone avoid Mae like the plague. But in their defense, it was really disturbing to see someone speaking like the Oracle.
"I thought only Rachel could do that," murmured Leo, for the hundredth time.
"Shut up!" snapped Piper, irritably.
"Guys, stop fighting," said Jason, rubbing his forehead like he was getting a headache. Piper gave him a sympathetic glance, but it hardened when she saw Leo’s goofy smile.
"Yeah, whatever, Sparky," replied Leo, turning back to face the front. Piper gritted her teeth and walked on. Addison tried to comfort Mae, but she gave him a glare. Apparently, waking up asleep on someone’s chest was not her favorite way of waking up.
"Don’t," she warned. Addison walked on with the group.
"Anyone actually know where to find Ouranos?" asked Piper. Annabeth stopped stepping on twigs and glanced up.
"No, but we have to get back to the ship," she answered. Mae shuffled behind everyone else. When Addison fell in step with her, her expression cleared a little bit.
"No one will tell me what happened." she complained. There was a faint plea in her voice.
"You, umm, kind of did that weird prophecy kind of thing where your voice gets layered, and smoke pours out of your mouth." said Addison. "You said some crappy poem about some sky guy, and Annabeth figured it out." Mae looked even more miserable.
"But I don’t want to be an oracle." she sniffled, her eyes downcast, and her voice strangely muffled. Addison looked at her in surprise. He regularly forgot that Mae was not as tough as his guy friends.
"I don’t think you will be. You might just have one or two episodes, and then you’re done." said Addison, to cheer her up. "In my dream, Ouranos told me that you had been blessed by your father. I guess he knew that you had the second sight or whatever it’s called." Mae rubbed her runny nose and smiled. She surprised Addison by throwing her arms around him and hugging him.
"Thanks," she said, in a small, muffled voice as she spoke into his t-shirt. Addison tried not to eagerly attack her but gently slipped his arms around her.
"Oi! Love birds! Let’s go!" yelled Leo, from a ways away. Addison blushed and let go. They sprinted until they had reached the group again.
They had walked back to the boat and set sail once more when Jason came up on deck.
"So how are we supposed to find Ouranos?" asked Leo, suddenly. He had been tinkering with something from his tool-belt and now put it away with an irritated shove back into his belt. Annabeth stared out at the water.
"I don’t know," she replied, leaning on a shroud. Mae un-braided her hair and put them in new braids before she answered.
"Zeus is lord of the sky, right? He would know," said Mae, looking at Jason.
"I don’t have anyway to contact him. You know all connections are severed right now." said Jason, running a hand over his closely shorn head. Piper was staring at the mast when she spoke up.
"Who would know where we can contact Ouranos?" mused Piper. Annabeth jolted as if she had just come out of a dream, and her eyes blazed with energy.
"Only the old gods," she replied, as if the answer was obvious. The others looked at her blankly.
"Gaea is bringing back only the one’s who have grudges against the gods, right? Who has a massive grudge against the gods? Especially Zeus?" she waited, but there was still no reply.
"He was a Titan, and he has been around for ages," prompted Annabeth. She was clearly disappointed in the lack of answers from the others.
"Prometheus," she said, rolling her eyes and letting out a huff.
"Where would he be?" asked Leo, already edging towards the engine room to set their course.
"On top of Caucasus Mountain," remembered Piper. Leo stopped, and a look of confusion crossed his face.
"Why are we going to see a guy who has a grudge against the gods? Wouldn’t that be kind of stupid?" asked Leo, his eyes narrowing. Annabeth rolled her eyes again. This was becoming a daily habit for her.
"He’s chained to a rock, Hammer Head," said Annabeth, in a duh kind of voice.
Mae sat in her little nook and trailed the tip of her sneaker in the water. It caused the water to ripple out behind the ship. Addison dropped beside her. Mae was still confused about the predicament, but she tried to look over that. Mae could see Addison staring at her in their reflection.
"Is there anything that you would like to talk to me about?" dared Mae, cringing at her own boldness. A mixed expression crossed his face. His mouth opened. It shut just as fast.
"Nope, anything with you?" asked Addison, biting back his original answer with some difficulty. Mae’s gaze drifted back up to the deck.
"I’m-" she began. Addison leaned forward to see her expression. Her expression was so full of despair that Addison hugged her without even thinking. She did not cry, but her body shivered like she was suffering from some sort of illness. The sun was dropping below the horizon. Mae’s head emerged from the folds of his t-shirt and smiled at him. Her blue eyes were tinged slightly orange from the light, and her hair burned his vision it was so vibrant. All at once, her freckles stood out each separately. Addison could not help himself. His lips closed on her’s, and everything blurred. He vaguely remembered taking deep breaths, but when they broke apart, he was breathing heavily. Mae’s face was filled with so much emotion, Addison knew at once he had made a mistake. Mae was gone before he even acknowledged it. He sat dejectedly on the small board that served as a seat, and his head was buried in his hands. He smashed the seat with his fist in frustration. He had been so stupid. The sun disappeared, and dusk settled in.
Mae had rushed to her hammock and thrown herself on the bed. WHY?! She screamed in her head. Too many tears had been shed. She was going to tell Addison her feeling concerning that blasted "gift" that her father had given her. He would listen. Then he had to go and make it all weird and confusing. The others, they would not understand. They looked at her strangely as she walked past. She might be a tomboy, but she still had feeling of a girl. Why did no one get that? She let out a frustrated scream in her pillow and finally had the courage to sit up. Her face burned, and her head ached. In a fit of frustration, she hurled the pillow across the room. It hit a lantern off of the shelf. The glass lantern shattered all over the floor. She was trembling so badly that she sat down heavily next to the broken bits. You have to stop, ordered Mae, to herself. She took a deep breath and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. She picked up a big piece of glass, and her reflection peered back at her. Her eyes were rimmed with dark bags from so much exercise and so little sleep. Her freckles were more prominent from all the sun, but her eyes were filled with pain. She could see a flash of memory regarding the make-out with Addison. She hated to admit it, but she really liked it. She also hated the fact that she hated not liking Addison. She balled up her fist and rubbed her eye. A shot of pain electrified through her hand as the glass cut into the skin. Mae released it with a wince. Blood dripped down the cut and stung.
Mae reached the deck the next morning with a splitting headache and a newly bandaged hand. Addison seemed to have had a rough night too. The bags under his eyes were darker than all the others. He seemed even more withdrawn than usual and steadily avoided contact with anyone’s gaze.
"Prometheus’s rock is up there," said Annabeth, pointing up to the large cliff that rose out of the water. A large bird was circling above.
"Get your weapons ready, demigods. We are going to need them." said Annabeth. The others followed her to shore and started the steep incline up the slope. Addison glanced up at the others and noticed his brother’s lack of enthusiasm. He had been completely quiet since that morning. Once you look closer, you could tell that his eyes were darker as if he had not had much sleep either. He ran a hand through his curly hair and sighed to the ground. Sweat drenched every person as they struggled up the gradually steeper slope.
"I better be toned after this quest," grumbled Mae, taking a giant step forward. The others laughed besides Leo. A sad pause followed that statement. What if they never came back from this quest? Rang through everyone’s minds. It was scary when they finally made it to the top. The massive rock mountain stretched out for miles. The teens’ legs ached, but there was still something off about Leo. He had still not said a word, and it was nearly nightfall. The kids were settling down for a rest before they struck out to see Prometheus the next day. Everyone was so exhausted that they barely found enough energy to set up their tents. Just when everyone had collapsed in their sleeping bags, there was a fierce screeching and a thunderous yell of pain. Every demigod rushed out of their tents with their weapons drawn. There was nothing out there, but the noise continued.
"It’s the eagle eating his liver," said Annabeth. The others groaned and stumbled sleepily back to their tents. Little sleep was to be had that night. A very restless night soon followed, and each of them barely got two hours of sleep. By the time they had all woken up, the screeching had stopped. Annabeth permitted them to rest for several more hours, and they were sleepily tugged out of bed around noon.
"Let’s go," said Annabeth, taking a sip of nectar. This re-energized them, and they headed warily to where Prometheus was chained.

chapter eight

Everyone waited with baited breath as a horrified expression crossed her face. Piper elbowed Leo.
"Ow!" he yelled, which was not exactly necessary. "What was that for?" he whined. Piper glared at him. Mae opened the door, and they filed out. All of them except for Annabeth. She still stood there woodenly.
"Annabeth, she's not going to remember in a few minutes," said Mae. Annabeth slowly came out of the house and followed the group.
"It’s too late to go back to the ship. We’ll have to find someplace else to rest tonight." said Mae. The other nodded and headed towards the city as dusk was slowly settling over them.
The walk to find a reasonablely priced hotel was becoming increasing futile and tiring. Mae was walking along and spotted an old lady crossing the street. Her figure was bent, and her head was covered by a shawl. Before anyone could stop her, Mae had darted across the street and helped her across. Obviously, the woman liked to smoke because her voice was incredibly raspy when she spoke.
"Thank you, dear," said the old lady. "You are too kind. May I offer you some supper? My apartment is just on the fourth floor of this building." Mae looked at the others, but their wariness was already crumbling at the prospect of eating a hot dinner. She agreed, and they were led up to the apartment by the old woman. As soon as they walked in, however, they should have realized something was amiss. Annabeth recoiled quickly when she saw the massive, ornate spider sitting on the fireplace shelf.
"I hate spiders," she whimpered, nearly hiding behind Leo. Leo looked amused that such a thing would bother her so much. He then proceeded to mess with it to try to terrify Annabeth further. Piper and Mae rolled their eyes.
"Ah, I have a particular fondness for spiders," said the old woman, slowly fixing supper. Annabeth daintily sat on the edge of the couch as if it was about to turn into a spider and eat her.
"What an interesting weaving loom," remarked Piper, spotting a massive loom that took up most of the room. The woman smiled.
"My greatest masterpiece but my teacher didn’t quite like it," said the old woman. Annabeth peered closer. Her eyes became huge.
"Your name is Ariadne, isn’t it?" guessed Annabeth. Everyone turned in surprise back at the little, old woman. There was a clang of metal as she dropped the pot she was holding.
"Ariadne got turned into a spider, though," said Leo, confused. The woman turned to face them.
"Gaea resurrected me and is slowly bringing my human form back. She alone should be worshiped." said the old woman, removing the shawl from her head.
"Eww!" squealed Mae, jumping back like all the others. The woman was indeed coming back but very slowly. She had a humanoid body, but there was thick, gray hair covering her body, and her eyes were large and completely black. Annabeth sat frozen with fear on the couch.
"Great, just what we need," said Leo, brandishing a hammer from his belt. "A talking spider." she did not make a move, however, but decided to stand in the middle of the room while the six demigods surrounded her.
"If you kill me, I’ll just keep coming back and plaguing you again," said Ariadne. Mae scowled.
"We’ll get over it," she replied, releasing an arrow. It soared right through her. She cackled and bared two pincer like fangs.
"What the-" began Mae. Annabeth turned around and broke the window. She leapt out of it yelling out behind her.
"RUN!" She yelled. The others did not need telling twice. They sprinted out the window and landed hard on the balcony below. Mae twisted around and aimed an arrow at the building across the street. She clutched her bow as it was hooked onto the rope and kicked off. It zoomed Annabeth and Mae to safety. Mae sent the bow back down the line for the others to come across. Ariadne leaned out of her window leisurely.
"5,4,3,2-" she counted, aloud. The other four made it across.
"How is she supposed to catch us?" asked Leo, as Mae cut the rope adjoining the two buildings. The old woman crawled out of the window and held out her hand. A web shot out and connected itself to the side of the building.
"Spider-man rip off!" shouted Leo, as Ariadne swung over to their building and started climbing up. The demigods ran to the other side of the top of the building. Annabeth gazed down.
"There’s no way to outrun her," said Mae, answering her thoughts. Piper turned and brandished her weapon.
"I can charm-speak her to stay in her normal form instead of going all ghostly on us. That way, we can kill her," said Piper. Annabeth looked down one more time.
"I have an idea," she said, turning to Mae with a gleam in her eye.
"Keep her busy for as long as you can," said Annabeth, while Mae shot another rope arrow. "But don’t kill her!" she called, out as she flew over the side of the building with Mae.
Leo’s hand caught fire, and he turned around with the others. Ariadne came soaring over the side. Her black eyes gleamed as she walked towards them.
"Gross," murmured Piper.
"Where’s my old pal Annabeth?" asked Ariadne. No one answered.
"Well that’s okay. I’ll just take care of you demigods while I wait," she said, advancing towards them.
"Distract her," murmured Jason, to Addison. The answer popped right into his head, and he reached for his wallet. Her eyes darted to his quick movement.
"Are you going to pay me to go away?" laughed Ariadne. Addison frowned. The golden card was pulled, and the wallet transformed into his axe. Addison did not even need to try to miss. He was so bad that he could not hit her with the axe. He was heaving by the time he had barely made Ariadne pant. Her eyes darted suspiciously at the others as if wondering why they were not fighting.
"Really? I was expecting more from you, demigods. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that you were letting this boy distr-" taunted Ariadne, but she stopped mid-sentence when the words sank in.
"You!" she snarled. She knocked Addison aside and sprinted over the side of the building. Addison, recovering himself, limped over to the others that were standing at the edge watching spider-woman use her abilities to get down at the bank where the two had disappeared. How she knew which building they went in, they could not figure out. Leo’s eyes glittered brightly when Jason congratulated Addison on a successful diversion.
"You were trying to hurt her, weren’t you?" snickered Leo. Addison shot him a look.
"Not a word to Mae," he demanded. Leo chuckled and gave him a sly look.
"You’re going to tell her, aren’t you?" sighed Addison, already knowing the answer.
"Duh," replied Leo, using the rope that Mae had left for them.
There was a large jolt as the spider woman hit the ground. Annabeth motioned the bank manager to leave.
"Get ready," she called, up to Mae. The door shattered, and Ariadne crawled through. She seemed to only have her sights on Annabeth.
"Your little friend was quite effective at keeping me busy. What I want to know is why did you need a distraction?" asked Ariadne. Annabeth stood tauntingly silent. Only Mae could see the vault door wide open behind her from her position on the rafters.
"You can’t kill me, Annabeth," sneered Ariadne, flexing her hairy fingers. "And if you do, I’ll just come back and kill your boyfriend Percy." She had struck a nerve. Annabeth still stayed silent. With a roar, Ariadne sprung towards Annabeth. Mae kicked off of the rafters where she was perched and swung towards Annabeth. She scooped her up right before Ariadne could hurt her. The spider woman hurled with such force into the vault that it shut by itself with a loud, shuddering bang. Annabeth twirled the lock. They could hear Ariadne pounding mercilessly on the inside of the door and screeching.
"Why are we locking her up in a vault?" asked Mae, while Annabeth called the manager back in. The Mist was clearly manipulating the sound of the spider lady’s screams since he did not pay any attention to it.
"Just sign here," said the manager. Annabeth nodded.
"On my 30th birthday, it can be opened." said Annabeth. The manager nodded happily and wished them a good day. They left the bank and met the rest of the group outside.
"She’ll slowly die, but not fast enough to get to any of us. By the time she dies, I hope that Percy will have released Death," said Annabeth.
"Percy’s releasing Death?" asked Mae, slightly bewildered. Annabeth looked surprised.
"I figured that’s why Percy’s headed North," said Annabeth. "It’s so obvious that Death was captured, and Percy’s gone to save him." Mae rolled her eyes.
"Not everyone is as smart as you, Annabeth," Mae said. Annabeth smiled smugly. It was awhile before they got back to Ariadne’s apartment. They decided to make spaghetti for dinner. Surprisingly, Leo was the best cook, and he was ordered to make them all dinner. Annabeth went through the house and threw all the spider-related things out the window.
"Girls get bedroom!" yelled Mae. She jerked open the door and nearly gagged at the smell. She shut the door scarred for life. She reappeared sometime later.
"We’re all sleeping in the living room." was all she said. They all looked at her queerly but did not question her.
"I know we should get some sleep, but can’t we watch a movie tonight?" asked Leo.
"A very short one," agreed Annabeth. Leo beamed and dug out a very old looking tape. They curled up sleepily on various couches and cushions. Mae’s thoughts drifted off of the movie. She could just barely see Addison out of the corner of her eye. She could not tell if he truly liked her or not. It seemed to come and go. Feeling a headache slowly creep upon her, Mae gave up and sleepily leaned her head back. Leo got up to switch the movie off. He glanced around and was startled to find everyone asleep but him. Annabeth was lying asleep on the floor. Piper was leaning on Jason asleep. Mae’s head had slid onto Addison’s shoulder, and his head rested on her’s. Both of their eyes were closed, and Mae looked absolutely tiny curled up beside Addison. A pang shot through his chest, and a flash of a small black girl rang through his memory. Leo clutched his head and scowled. He had no memory of a black girl that looked like that. So why did she look familiar? Leo curled up with a pillow and gradually fell asleep.
"You have forgotten me, young Hero," rumbled a deep voice. Addison stared into those huge, starry eyes.
"I don’t know who you are!" yelled Addison, in despair.
"Ask her. Ask the fire-headed one with the temper to match. Apollo has blessed her." rumbled the voice.
"But she won’t talk to me!" he shouted, as he felt himself slip from the dream. The voice chuckled darkly.
"She will. She will." it assured."
Addison woke up and glanced around the room. He half expected the owner of the voice to be in the room. Blinking groggily, Addison lifted his head and wondered what was on his shoulder. He could not believe his eyes. Mae was fast asleep with her head on his shoulder. Her freckled face was completely serene. Addison had the strangest urge to kiss her but refrained. That was not going to help them in any way with their current predicament. He turned his head to all the others. He remember that Piper had fallen asleep on Jason’s shoulder, but now, she had fallen with Jason over on her side and was now completely wrapped up in his embrace. Annabeth was asleep with her laptop wide open resting on her lap. Addison was willing to bet that she had fallen asleep while attempting to unscramble one of the puzzles. Leo was snuggled up with a pillow and was having a very difficult time in his dream. He kept murmuring something about Leves-something. Addison adjusted Mae’s head to his chest and leaned back. Closing his eyes, Addison was quick to fall asleep.
"You have forgotten me," rang throughout all of his dreams.

chapter seven

Mae opened the tent flap and observed the camp. Never had she seen all the camp awake at this hour. Squinting up at the sun, Mae was wondering if her clock was messed up. Thanks to her dad being god of the sun, Mae could read the time of day by the sun quite well. It was the time she thought it was. Weird. Piper and Annabeth were awakened by the loud trumpeting of the camp bugle. Piper’s hair was sticking in a hundred different directions, and Annabeth’s hair was a blond, curly Afro.
"Get ready quickly," said Mae, scooping up what small amount of luggage she had brought and stuffing it in her backpack. It was not long before each girl had gotten ready and joined the boys at the tent. Reyna was all over Jason during breakfast. Jason was completely miserable. Even the others could see it. There was a lot of snickering from the Hermes cabin. So much so that Annabeth shot the whole table such a loathsome glare that they shut up immediately. Mae was busily chatting away with everyone and seemed in the best mood. Annabeth ordered the others to eat quickly, and they soon took their leave. Samuel was very anxious for Mae to say goodbye, and she disappeared soon after breakfast. Annabeth packed the rest of their luggage and sent Addison off to find Mae. He found them in the exact same location as before. Samuel was so close to Mae that Addison wanted to hurl. He entered the clearing quickly to stop Samuel from making a move.
"Mae, time to go," said Addison. Mae nodded but look slightly preoccupied while listening to Samuel talk to her in low tones. Samuel gave Addison an irritated glance as he stooped down and kissed Mae on the cheek. Mae smiled back at Samuel as Addison grumpily dragged her away. Her cheeks were bright red as the two finally made it back to the group. Addison had a murderous look of mutiny on his face while Mae had a dazed expression splashed on her face. Annabeth hid a grin.
"Let’s go, shall we?!" snapped Addison, through gritted teeth. Annabeth nodded and waved at the Romans. Reyna kissed Jason on the lips as he attempted to de-tangle himself from her grasp. Looking slightly taken back, Jason merely looked uncomfortable as Lupa gave her parting words.
"Be careful, young Heroes," was all the she-wolf said. Jason did that ridiculous bow that he kept doing, and the group with the help of Jason made it out of the booby trapped trail off the island. The only place that Lupa had been able to tell them that Percy had headed north.
"I hate north," muttered Leo. The others looked at him strangely. The North was especially disliked by Leo because of his previous encounter with Khione and what she did to his beloved dragon. Metal dragon, mind you. It took them the rest of the day to get back to their ship. It seemed even longer when Leo was brooding about their upcoming destination, and Addison was still grumpy about Mae being kissed on the cheek by someone other than himself. Piper had not spoken a word yet, and Annabeth was scheming where Percy could have gone. Jason was lost in thought. Besides Mae-who was bouncing up in down with happiness and seemed oblivious to all the pain being suffered around her-, the party was pretty morose.
The boys were all below deck, and the girls had manned the upper deck. Mae, tired of playing Solitaire by herself, got up and looked for something to do. Addison was just coming up on deck, and Mae bounced over to him.
"Hey, Ad-" began Mae, but she was cut off by the intense waves of anger from Addison. Mae looked taken back.
"What did I do?" she demanded, as Addison gave her an irritated look. Addison grunted and walked down below deck.
"Why don’t you ask Samuel?" growled Addison. Mae heard a snort and a snicker behind her. A flash of irritation spiked her blood. She whirled around. Annabeth and Piper were trying not to show that they were amused.
"What?!" she demanded, throwing her hands up in the air. Piper hid a smile behind her hand.
"You are so clueless about boys." she replied. A line appeared between Mae’s eyebrows as she stared in confusion at Piper. Piper rolled her eyes.
"You don’t have to be the goddess of love’s daughter to realize he’s got it bad for you." said Piper, smirking and then added as if an afterthought. "I would take Addison over Samuel any day, though." Mae’s face got so red you could have fried an egg on it. Mae’s temper got the best of her.
"Well, at least, I don’t go mooning over some guy who already has a girlfriend, or like you, Annabeth, who worries whether or not Percy will remember every tender moment you two shared," snapped Mae, losing it. Her eyes blazed blue fire as she stormed off. Annabeth watched her with a calculating expression. She pushed Piper back down in her seat as Piper angrily shot up to her feet.
"She doesn’t mean it, Piper. She is just scared that you’re right," said Annabeth, watching Mae disappear in her odd nook at the back of the ship. "The only best friend she has ever had might be turning into something more. She’s too young to process it straight." Piper gave a short nod, but Mae’s words had cut below the belt.
"Yeah, okay," said Piper, not sounding entirely convinced.
It was early the next morning when everyone came up to the deck. Mae was sullenly off to one side the happiness forgotten. Addison was feeling once again depressed as he had ruined the apology that he had so taken so long to think up. It was not going unnoticed by the other that Addison was grumpy because of his failed attempts with Mae. As well as Mae, the other two girls seemed to have a bad case of the Mondays (except that today was not Monday). They, too, were in horrible moods as they stood away from the group.
"We will have to reach land soon to contact a few sources," said Annabeth, gazing out at the land. Green grass swayed invitingly. The others disappeared, and Addison and Mae were left alone.
"Mae, I was unnecessarily short with-" began Addison, but Mae cut him off.
"I don’t want your apologies. What I want is answers. Don’t come near me until I figure them out." said Mae, shortly. Addison was left completely crushed. Memories flashed through his mind. The first time he held her was after a football game when they had lost. Mae was devastated that the Volunteers would lose for the third time against Alabama. Back then, it was not weird that the two of them were so close. Another memory floated through his mind. It was in the car on the way to the movie on the day that everything changed. It was not that long ago. Only a few days, but Addison felt like it had been forever. Mae had been singing to Sara Bareilles, and Addison had dared to sing alongside her. She had teased him to embarrassment about his inability to sing. Those had been the good old times when he could shrug off the teasing taunts about he and Mae being together. Now, it was the only thing really pressing on his mind. Instead of being courageous and telling her how he felt, Addison was too afraid that he would get rejected. He might kill the friendship that they had. What was left of it anyway. Addison had a feeling that he had caused the fight amongst the girls right after he had left, but he could not figure out what it was specifically about. Suddenly, Addison had a idea. It was not a great idea. It was not even a good idea.
"Help me, Aphrodite," he murmured. He jumped up from his seat on the deck and quickly crawled down to Mae’s side on her favorite niche.
"Mae-" began Addison. Before she could tell him off for being near her, he was interrupted by a loud yell from across ship.
"All hands on deck!" yelled Leo, in his best pirate voice. Mae giggled, and the two emerged from the nook.
"Land ahoy, mates," said Leo, curling his index finger into a hook and slashing the air like he was gouging out the eyes of some unfortunate sailor. Mae could not help but chuckle again. Piper groaned and rubbed her forehead as if she was getting a headache because his cheesy jokes. Jason looked at her out of the corner of his eye and smiled faintly. Leo steered the ship as close as possible to land without touching it.
"Where to now?" asked Leo. Jason looked to Annabeth.
"I need to call in some favors," she said, grimly. Mae held Piper and Annabeth back while the boys went on ahead.
"Look, umm, I’m really sorry for-" began Mae. Piper cut her off with raising her hand.
"Don’t sweat it, Mae. What you said is true whether I like it or not. I needed to have some sense slapped into me." said Piper. Mae’s smile lit up her face, and she dove into a massive hug for the both of them.
"Well, it didn’t have to be slapped. It could have just been handed to you or-oh, never mind. Thanks." said Mae, her voice slightly muffled from talking into Annabeth’s jacket. The three females followed the boys as they swam back to shore. Their little boat that had carried them to land the previous time had been dragged under the ground as Annabeth had predicted. They all had to swim to get to shore. The traveling was slow due to Gaea, but they still managed to reach their destination. A large, white house stood before them.
"Let’s go," said Leo, striding forward confidently. The others looked at each other uneasily. Piper could feel Jason’s arm bump into her arm. Like a mind reader, Piper could tell just what he was thinking.
"Kind of looks like Midas’s place, doesn’t it?" asked Piper, in an undertone. The rest were up ahead too much to hear her. Jason gave a short nod.
"Yeah, let’s hope he doesn’t resurrect anytime soon," said Jason. Piper smiled, but she could still picture Reyna slobbering all over him in that commanding air that she had. Piper gulped. She gazed ahead at Addison and Mae. They belong together, thought Piper, whimsically. A tight knot in her stomach lessened when she was momentarily distracted by a strand of rogue hair. She reached up to tuck it away, but Jason’s hand got there faster. Piper’s mouth formed a perfect "O". Jason held her gaze for a minute with as much emotion as was in his whole body. When he removed his gaze from Piper’s, he glared down at the ground as if remembering something unpleasant. The knot returned as he seemed to drift back into his own, little world away from Piper. Far away. Piper removed her gaze and blinked back tears. She had to be strong.
Leo could not detect anything out of the ordinary with the house involving booby traps. They walked up to the front porch cautiously but more curious than anything.
"Whose house is this, Annabeth?" asked Addison. Piper glanced at the door. Something felt wrong.
"Like I said, I’m calling in some favors," said Annabeth. The door opened, and a blond woman stood in the doorway. She looked pleasant enough, but a few wrinkles suggested that she was middle aged. Annabeth swallowed and smiled forcefully.
"Ms. Castella, may we come in?" she asked. The woman slumped against the doorway, and a green mist poured out of her mouth. They all took a step back. She looked up with half crazed eyes. She looked directly at Jason.
"Hello, Luke," she said, smiling at Jason. They all looked completely repulsed.
Ms. Castella had been telling them to have some more kool-aid and cookies for awhile when Jason leaned over to Annabeth.
"What are you waiting for?" asked Jason, in an uneasy undertone as Ms. Castella grabbed his arm and told him to eat some more burned cookies. Annabeth did not say a word. Easy for her. She was not the one being forced to eat burned cookies and drink watery kool-aid while a creepy, old lady pets your hair and tells you it is going to be alright. Annabeth’s gaze was frozen in a slightly repulsed expression. She was obviously not satisfied with the mere woman. It made no sense that she would not talk to the only person that was at the house. Why had she come here at all then? A shimmering ghost appeared at the other side of the room. The guy was obviously PO’d to see Annabeth sitting in that particular living room.
"Annabeth, what are you doing?" asked Hermes. Jason knew who it was immediately. He looked just like Reyna.
"Woah," said Leo, jumping back when he saw the ghostly shape.
"I must ask for the return of a favor," said Annabeth. Hermes scowled even darker.
"So soon? There’s been less than a day since you’ve seen my daughter and delivered the package, and you’re already cashing this in?" asked Hermes, his gaze flickered over to Ms. Castella. His frown darkened still more.
"Where is Percy?" asked Annabeth. She looked grim but resolute. Hermes sighed.
"Don’t forget your original quest, Annabeth." he said, rubbing his eyes like he was not getting enough sleep. He glanced up at Annabeth to see that her expression was just the same as before. He sighed.
"He is heading to Alaska with some new friends." said Hermes. "Can I go now?" he whined. Annabeth gave a short nod and rose to leave. Hermes’s ghost vanished. The teens managed to de-tangle themselves from the Ms. Castella and head for the door.
"Why did we come here?" asked Jason.
"Seeing Hermes’s old girlfriend that he takes care of was the only way to get his attention," explained Annabeth.
"Castella," said Jason, like he was remembering something about the name.
"That was Luke’s last name, wasn’t it?" Annabeth did not respond. As soon as they reached the door, Annabeth heard a voice. It was not May Castella’s.
"To the North, beyond the gods, lies the legion’s crown. Falling from ice, the son of Neptune shall drown-" said May Castella. Annabeth’s hand froze above the doorknob. As off timed as always, Leo frowned and said:
"North? Isn’t that where Percy’s headed?" asked Leo.

chapter six

Addison was caught by all his friends and dragged back.
"Don’t," warned Jason, in Addison’s ear. The boy held the blade to her neck, and slowly a grin spread across his face. Mae clutched her leg and slowly mended it while the boy was getting cocky. Suddenly, the boy’s chuckle became a hoarse cry as a blinding light blasted him in the eye. It all happened so fast that even Lupa had trouble seeing it. Mae pressed the button to her headband, and it transformed while she kicked his legs out from under him. While he was falling, she kicked herself off of the ground and aimed down at the boy. Two were let loose and pinned him to the ground by his leather bracers. She flipped through the air and drew two arrows from her pouch. Clutching two arrows, Mae landed on top of his chest and crossed the points of the arrows along his throat. She was practically nose to nose with him. Her chest heaved with the exertion of the battle as she panted. Her braids had come loose and hung about her face in a wildfire of blazing red. Gods, thought Addison, she looks so beautiful right now. Lupa’s mouth curled into a grim smile as she watched Mae help up the ripped boy covered in sweat and dirt. Lupa gracefully soared over the railing and landed in the middle of the arena.
"Samuel, showers after you run the gauntlet," ordered Lupa. The boy’s good-looking face hardened. He mimicked Jason’s earlier bow and walked away but not before looking back at Mae and giving her a half smile. Addison watched with horror as she smiled back before turning to Lupa.
"Apparently, your team is strong," said Lupa, drily. Mae gave an uneasy nod and waited.
"Showers, then set up your tent. We eat at nightfall," said Lupa, before turning around and leaving them. Annabeth shot her a look and opened her mouth. Jason clamped a hand over her mouth.
"Shut up. Lupa is testing your patience. She knows that you have something important to ask. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here. Usually, she waits longer, but I think she is too curious to see why the gods have allowed us to find the Roman camp." said Jason. Annabeth shut her mouth and nodded while keeping her eyes trained on Lupa’s disappearing figure.
"Showers are this way," said Jason, leading the way.
Apparently, the kids at the Roman camp had a very strict schedule that everyone kept to. There were three open stalls for each gender as they walked into the showers.
"This is creepy," muttered Annabeth, to Piper and Mae.
"At the Greek camp, there are at least ten girls fighting for the stalls at one time because some idiot took too long in the showers, and now their shower time has been shortened. Here, it’s like everyone has to be on time for everything. Did you see how spotless the grounds looked? We had to have a litter patron, our’s got so bad." said Annabeth, eyeing the Romans as though they were from another planet.
"If I had Lupa as my head director, I’d stay punctual too," said Mae. The other two snickered as they climbed into the shower stalls.
"EEEHHIIAAH!" squealed Mae, shooting out of the shower stall clad in only a towel. Some of the Roman girls looked up from their dressing or finishing touches.
"What’s the matter?" asked one girl, alarmed.
"The-e-e w-w-water i-is s-s-so c-cold-d," said Mae, through chattering teeth. The girls laughed, but Piper, and Annabeth soon got a taste of the freezing water when it hit them.
"Cold showers are the only kind allowed here," explained one girl, tucking away a hair-dryer. It did not take long to set up the tents and get completely cleaned up. Apparently, the boys had gotten the cold shower treatment as well, and all three of them were shivering slightly as they all met up after showers. The kids were friendly enough, but there was an air of frostiness that seemed to block the Romans from the Greeks like a brick wall. In Lupa’s presence, smiling and laughter seem to flee while masks of indifference settled over their faces while they quietly ate. Each Greek had been placed at their respective parent’s table alongside the Romans. Try as they might, no one had seen Percy yet. Reyna had greeted Jason when he came in but that preoccupied look covered his face again. Piper paused only to stare at Reyna. The girl had blond streaked, brown hair that was tired up in a messy bun. She had a quirky, little mouth and light blue eyes. She was really pretty and willowy thin. Piper was average height and was an appropriate height for Jason. Reyna was nearly as tall as he was. Her anxious suggested that she had been more than a friend to Jason. Piper eyed her like a dog eyes a cat. Mae looked in surprise at all the Apollo table. The Greek cabin back home was a great deal bigger than the camp here. Apollo, as well as several others, was a very large cabin. Here, there were maybe five kids sitting at the sun emblazoned table. Jason’s table was empty save for his own seat, and Addison and Leo’s table only seated two others. They were both girls, and they were too busy eating things from a constructed device to notice them. The Ares cabin, Athena’s cabin, and Apollo’s cabin were very small. Of course, Hermes’s and Aphrodite’s cabins were full to bursting, but the other regulars were not. Nike must have had to least a dozen, and Eris had about the nine kids in their cabin. Demeter must have been busy in recent years because all the kids were under thirteen, and there were about eight of them. Piper sat down with her vast family. There was a clink of glass as the best piece of food was dropped into a glass bowl. The green flames licked it up, and extinguished itself. The tradition was very similar to that of Camp Half-Blood, but there was no laughter. The Greek teens quickly finished their food and waited until Lupa gave them the floor.
"Jason, tell us why you have come back with these godlings," demanded Lupa. Everyone’s eyes went to Jason.
"Annabeth can explain it better," said Jason, directing all the attention to the pretty blond at the Athena table.
"My boyfriend Percy Jackson is missing from our camp, and we have reason to believe that Jason and Percy were exchanged. Jason was at our camp, so it stands to reason that Percy has to be here, and that is why we came," said Annabeth, shortly. Her piercing gray eyes swept the room like Percy was going to pop out.
"Percy Jackson left our camp several weeks ago."said Lupa. "He went off to stop Polybotes from rising." Annabeth stood transfixed at Lupa. A look of horror was etched on her face. Piper slowly inched her way across the small mess tent and pulled her away.
"You might as well stay the night," said Lupa, getting up and leaving. As soon as she left, there was a more relaxed aura surrounding the camp. As for the Greeks, they were still trying to process what they were going to do next. Mae headed back to her tent, and the rest soon followed.
Addison lay awake for quite some time until he could not bear it any longer. He quietly exited his tent and somehow found the girls’ tent. (The girls’ tents were separated from the boys’ tents. There were technically two tents of each godly parent.) The lamp glowed warmly and cast an inviting glow inside the plain white tent. Piper was staring mournfully at her reflection in her dagger, and Annabeth was-or at least pretending to be- fast asleep. There was no sign of Mae. Before Addison could ask where Mae was, Piper jerked a finger in the direction of the woods. Addison smiled in thanks and headed towards the thick fringe that encircled the island. Even though nothing could get on the island with the thick, overgrown vegetation in the way, there was still a guard patrol. Addison managed (barely) to slip past the guard and into the woods. Following the sound of murmuring voices, Addison finally found Mae, but she was not alone. The ripped guy from the fight earlier was with her. Except for now, he had a white bandage nearly swallowing his whole right arm. A few cuts and bruises that marred his face were not there from Mae’s fight. Addison vaguely remembered Lupa saying something about running the gauntlet when he had lost. Addison crept forward to hear better. They were talking about football. Go figure. The boy was apparently impressed by her vast knowledge of the sport and kept getting closer and closer to her. At one point, he was a mere inch away from her face. One hand hesitatingly hovered near her face as if to brush away a lock of rogue hair. Addison could not bear it any longer. He stepped out from his hiding place in the trees.
"Mae, I was just looking for you," he said, to alert them of his presence. Mae looked startled as she and the boy jumped apart.
"Umm, what for?" she asked, blushing furiously.
"I-I need to talk to you alone," said Addison, quickly before he lost his nerve. Mae nodded and gave Samuel a shy smile. Addison grimaced inside and led the way back to the girls’ tent. When they reached the tent, Mae turned to Addison and stared at him expectantly. Addison’s mouth opened, but no sound came out. Mae’s eyebrows rose slightly, and a smirk graced her face. She turned around and entered her tent. The air exhaled out of Addison’s lungs, and he realized that he had been holding his breath. Feeling like a coward, Addison turned around towards the boys’ tent inwardly cursing himself for being so weak. The tent flap opened back up, and Mae appeared.
"Addy," said Mae, holding out his football jacket. "Here," she offered. Addison slowly took the jacket but did not say anything. She turned back around to go inside once more, but Addison grabbed her arm.
"Mae," he said, pausing to think of what to say. "I-I’m not good with words. I mean, like, not at all. But I am truly sorry for being such a jerk the other night. Trust me when I say that I’m really sorry for what I said and wish that I’d never said any of that." Mae’s eyes went all blurry and foggy.
"Ad," she began. Addison shook his head. Moving in closer, Addison stared down at her upturned face. Every freckle was highlighted by the faint moonlight.
"It was all my fault," he said, softly. He brushed a lock of hair away from her face.
"And I didn’t mean anything by telling you to stop being such a girl." he added. They were so close. Smiling faintly, Addison resisted the urge to kiss her and walked away. Mae watched his retreating figure slowly descending down the slope. She brushed the tear away and smiled now that she had her best friend in the whole world back. Despite what Addison felt, Mae was still under the vague impression that what they had was a really good friendship and nothing more.
As soon as Addison had left, Piper had sheathed her dagger and headed towards Mercury’s tent. Reyna obviously took great care of herself because when Piper went to look for her, her makeup table was loaded with creams and lotions.
"Reyna went off to talk to someone," said a small, Indian looking girl. Piper smiled in thanks and left the tent. She bet she knew who Reyna was talking to. It was not long before Piper found the tent of Jupiter. Sure enough, she heard voices.
"-Jason, please, remember me!" begged Reyna. There was a pause like Jason was trying to.
"Reyna, I lost my memories and just now got them back," began Jason. "I remember we had something, but there’s still something missing." Reyna was silent. Probably pouting.
"Jason, is it because you like someone else?" asked Reyna, her voice whiny. Piper’s breath froze in her chest. She peeked through the slit in the side of the tent. Reyna was extremely close to Jason.
"N–" began Jason, but stopped. "I mean-" It was strange seeing Jason at a loss for words.
"It’s that girl Piper, isn’t it?" demanded Reyna, crossing her arms across her chest. Piper could not breath. Was it possible? She wondered faintly. Hope fluttered around in her chest.
"Remember, Jason, who you picked first," she said, very determinedly. Jason nodded, and the confusion on his face seemed to disappear. Piper’s hopes plummeted as she saw Reyna make her move. Her lips pressed themselves against Jason’s as she took his less confused facial expression to mean he had picked her. Piper kept back a sob, but something made her pause. When Reyna hugged him after the kiss, Jason looked miserable and slightly sick. As soon as Reyna let go of him to look at his face, Jason mustered a smile to cover his uncomfortable position. Piper sneaked back to her tent where Mae and Annabeth were dead to the world. Crawling under the covers, Piper let a few tears fall but then steely set herself straight. She closed her eyes and miraculously fell asleep quickly. They had a long day ahead of them tomorrow.

chapter five

Leo looked like he had just gotten sucker-punched. he tapped the table with his knuckles and turned away quickly.
"I'm going to go check the engines," said Leo, disappearing below deck. Annabeth's searching gaze followed him while Piper searched Mae's face. Mae cleared her throat and disappeared down to her nook on the back of the ship. Addison was left with the rest of the group. He suddenly felt the need to be alone and left the remaining three behind him. He climbed up the mast and gazed put onto the water. He had messed up. Mae was not even looking at him. The salty breeze hit his tan face, and he spotted the shore. They had drifted through all he islands in the Sea of Monsters and now were almost at their destination.
"Annabeth!" Addison yelled, down to her. Her head snapped up.
"What?" she demanded. Addison pointed to the slowly but surely upcoming shore. She walked over to the railing and gazed out.
"The Bay area is just further along the coast," said Annabeth, pointing out some pointed rocks. The ship groaned as Leo switched gears to alter the course to the position indicated.
"Mae, Leo, report to deck in an hour," snapped Annabeth, and she disappeared down the hull. Addison crawled up to the only spot on the ship where he could see the nook where Mae sat. She was completely curled up and was staring blankly at the water. Addison heard a scraping noise behind him. He turned to see Leo crawling up beside him.
"Hey," he said, faintly.
"Why'd you pick this particular spot to sit?" asked Leo, curiously. Addison pointed down to Mae's little body. Leo's eyebrows went up.
"Why don't you just go talk to her?" asked Leo. Addison shook his head.
"I messed up," he replied. His jaw clenched when he saw Mae brush her eye as if she were crying. Leo pursed his lips, but then opened his mouth as if to crack a joke. Complete silence followed. He got up and gave Addison a little pat on the back.
"Hope it works out for you, man," said Leo, crawling down the mast. Addison gave Mae one last look and descended down after Leo.
Later that day, Addison saw their destination coming towards them.
"Jason!" he shouted. Instead of only Jason coming to the side, everyone swarmed up the deck. Everyone’s eyes grew huge as they saw it.
"We’re here," murmured Jason, faintly. Leo began shouting orders, and the racket began. The entire ship shuddered to a stop before reaching shore.
"We’ll have to take the longboat out to shore and swim back," said Annabeth. Annabeth answered their questions swirling around in their minds before they had a chance to speak them.
"If we take the ship to shore, chances are we’ll never get it out of the ground. Gaea will see to that. We’ll have to swim back because the longboat will probably disappear while we are gone," explained Annabeth. Jason gave her a pat on the shoulder.
"Glad to have you along, Annabeth," he said, and moved on. Piper bit her lip and followed Jason like a puppy. Addison half-glanced at Mae, but she was asking Leo something. He followed Annabeth, Jason, and Piper down to the boat and was shortly followed by the other two. They paddled quickly to the shore, and Annabeth secured the boat.
"Have everything?" she checked. Everyone mutely nodded and followed her up the steep incline. It was not long before they were sweaty and tired from climbing up such a steep slope. What made matters worse, however, was the constant tug of ground under their feet. Each step felt like they were running a marathon in a snowstorm.
"At least Khione isn’t blasting us with an ice storm right now," said Leo, brightly. An icy wind whistled over the mountainside chilling them. Annabeth’s teeth chattered.
"You just had to say that, didn’t you?" snapped Annabeth, crossly. Mae looked up at the sky that was steadily turning darker.
"I’m not sure that was her," said Mae. Her voice oddly stilted. Addison followed her gaze. The sky was getting blacker by the second.
"We need to find shelter soon," said Addison. Annabeth found a suitable cave, and they huddled in it while the sky let loose.
"Piss off any rain gods lately?" asked Addison, sarcastically. Mae forgot her anger long enough to glare at him. Addison took to staring at the floor instead of Mae. A constant ache filled his chest.
"There aren’t any rain gods," said Leo, suddenly. Piper screwed up her mouth in concentration.
"There’s Ouranos, the Sky god," began Piper.
"But there’s also Zeus, the god of the sky," added Jason.
"Why would either want to be trying to slow us down?" asked Annabeth. There was a pause interrupted only by the distant pitter-patter of rain.
"Let’s get some sleep," suggested Piper. She did not need charm-speak for it to sound appealing to them. Without answering, they huddled together and gradually fell asleep.
" Gaea will not sleep unless you come to see me. She does not know that I know her weakness." boomed a deep voice. Addison could not see anything. Everything was a dark blue. Two stars began to sparkle and shine brightly. Addison peered closer. They were the eyes of this great thing.
"Who are you?" demanded Addison, covering his eyes from the glare.
"You will find me, young Hero. Ask the one whom you love. Apollo has indeed blessed her." answered the deep voice, that radiated strength. There was a strangled cry from the direction of the eyes." Addison woke with a start. He sat rubbing the sleep from his eyes while trying to figure out what was missing. The noise, he realized. He peered through the darkness and saw no rain. He could not hear it either. It stopped, he realized. He got up as much as the ceiling allowed.
"Guys, we need to get up and go now," said Addison, breaking their sleep. All of the half-bloods piled out of their corner where they had been huddled and trekked out into the night. It was rough going at night and through the massive amount of mud. Mae seemed to be having a harder time than the rest. Due to her height, Mae was nearly knee-deep in the mud. Addison swallowed his pride and doubled back.
"Mae," he said, to get her attention. She looked up at him with her beautiful eyes. Addison cupped his hands together and motioned up. Her gaze froze as she battled what to do. She finally came to a conclusion and gingerly stuck a muddy Converse into his hand and climbed piggy-back style onto his back. Addison was a bit more sturdy in the mud than Mae was, and in no time at all, he had covered the distance it would have taken her several minutes to cross in two strides. With this sturdy gait, the teens reached the bottom of their last hill/ mountain in several hours. Jason wiped the sweat off his brow and examined the rocky terrain.
"Jason, do you remember where the camp is?" asked Annabeth. Hope filled her voice as she scanned the plain.
"Not at all," he answered. There was a massive amount of dead looking trees in the distance.
"How about over there?" suggested Leo, pointing to the large, dead wood.
"It’s a start," said Piper, tiredly walking towards their new destination.
Mae had long since gotten off of Addison’s back and was now walking beside him. In the darkness, it was hard to make out much about their surroundings. A long screech startled the halfbloods to the point where they all jumped about a foot in the air each. Addison glanced down to his coat sleeve that was wrinkled and drawn up because Mae’s cold fingers were digging into his arm. She flushed and let go slightly disturbed by Addison’s facial expression. The screech had made them all jumpy, and they huddled in a closer knit group more than they had before. Suddenly, the wind picked them all up and tossed them about like scattered leaves. Mae let out a shriek when she caught sight of a massive, black hole. It was the one from her dreams. She just knew it.
"Stay away from that hole!" shouted Mae, over the violent gusts of wind. Everyone grabbed the nearest dead tree and inched their way away from the hole. It was awhile before they finally collapsed completely worn out but safe from the pulling hole.
"Reminds me of Tartarus," muttered Annabeth, staring at it darkly. The other did not even respond. No one asked permission to rest. They all just rolled over and fell asleep.
"Who are you?" demanded an angry sounding voice. Everyone’s eyes flew open to the bright, harsh rays of the sun. Their weapons had been confiscated. By a small army of battle-scarred teens. Their leader held his dagger to the throat of Annabeth. Somehow he had singled Annabeth out as the deadliest threat. Smart move. Addison stared at the leader. Annabeth raked her gaze over the lot of them. Judging by their gold weapons, stiff mannerisms, and kilted armor, Annabeth guessed that they were from the Roman camp.
"You’re the Roman camp," she said. Everyone sat up. The leader squinted as if sizing her up.
"Get up," he ordered. He cast a backwards glance towards Addison.
"Release your girlfriend, dude," ordered the leader. He stared directly at Addison, and Addison was embarrassed to find that Mae had somehow fallen asleep in his arms, and his arms were still encircling her. He withdrew them quickly and scrambled to his feet. The leader’s eyes swept their faces, until his gaze landed on Jason.
"Jason!" he cried, relief washing over his face. He rushed forward and nearly tackled Jason.
‘Bobby!" cried Jason, with joy. A grin breaking over his tan, good-looking face. There was a stir as the Roman teens all broke their stiff, unhappy expression and swarmed over Jason. One girl broke rank and rushed forward. Her brown curls flying.
"Jason! I thought you were dead!" she yelled, in a boyish manner and tackled him. When she came up, her brown eyes were dancing on a very freckled face. A purple shirt covered her torso and torn jeans her legs. Piper eyed the girl as if she were sizing her up, but something relaxed in her expression.
"Gwendolyn!" he exclaimed, smiling wider. Her expression turned sour. She jammed her spear tip up against his chin.
"That’s Lynn to you, buddy-boy," she snapped, with narrowed eyes. Within a minute, she was back to her good-natured self. Piper looked confused, and Mae could not blame her.
"Where’s Hazel?" asked Jason, to Lynn. She jammed a finger behind her.
"Back at camp," she answered. She peered closely at Jason’s face like he had forgotten something. "Reyna is also back at camp," she added. Jason nodded nonchalantly, and Piper heard something in Lynn’s voice. She eyed Jason at the same time Lynn did. Neither could read his face.
"Where have you been?" asked Bobby, breaking the girl examination of Jason’s face. Greek teens melted into the pack and moved as one unit.
"I’ll tell you that when we get back to camp," said Jason, looking pleased to see his friends but a little distracted at the same time. Piper stuck to his side like a faithful puppy. The walking to the camp was somewhat difficult since they had to swim across the lake to the middle island. The brush was so thick that you could only get through one space around the entire island. They trudged through it, and Jason instinctively ducked as an arrow sped over his head.
"Booby-trapped. Duck here." said Jason, shuffling forward while crouched down. He led them through the maze of precautions set against intruders. When they finally came to a clearing, the Greeks were stunned. The Roman camp sprawled out over a broad, grassy green hill. Erect, white tents were primly set up orderly in rows. They looked decent sized, but once you got in them, they were huge. Jason was led to his tent first.
"You can stay in mine," offered Jason, but was interrupted by a growl. They all turned around quickly to see a massive wolf growling at them. Without thinking, Jason snapped his heels together and very robotic, swung his closed fist against his chest. He gave a short bow.
"Pitch your own tent, Greeks. That is, after you’ve proven yourself in the Arena. You’re only as strong as your weakest link," growled Lupa. Mae gulped. Jason looked uneasily at his friends as they followed Lupa to a dirt encirclement. A boy was busy stripping his purple t-shirt off and applying chalk to his hands on the other side.
"Mae Jordan," Lupa said. Mae took a hesitant step forward and stepped into the arena. The boy turned around with a sneer. Mae gawked at his ripped abdomen and bulging arms. Addison watched with horror as she took off her jacket and scar and handed them to Piper. Addison started forward, but Jason caught him. A silent exchange of understanding crossed between the two boys. Addison reluctantly stepped back. Lupa focused her attention on Mae and the boy. With a snarl from Lupa, the fight began. Mae’s bouncy pigtails leapt around as she nimbly avoided the guy’s rod. It was obvious that he was an Ares kid with his ferocious teammates and rough attitude. It all went downhill when his rod grew a blade. Mae’s leg was slit open upon impact. Limping, Mae could not out run him and fell with the blade at her throat.
"Mae!" shouted Addison, lunging forward.

Chapter four

Once they were past the Sirens, they unplugged their ears.
"That was fun," said Leo, dryly, taking the helm. Addison seemed to realize that he was still holding Mae. He released her and walked quickly over to Leo. Mae began to help Piper and Jason with the tying down of luggage on deck.
"Where’s Annabeth?" asked Jason, tying down a barrel. Piper looked nervously at the doorway.
"She went below deck," said Piper, covering for her. Annabeth came up from below deck. She was holding Jason’s map.
"Gather round," ordered Annabeth. You would have never guessed that she had been bawling her eyes out only minutes before.
"Here is Charybdis, and here is Scylla," said Annabeth. "We barely made it out alive last time when we attempted to go past Charybdis. Since we now have a charm-speaker and a singer, we can try Scylla," said Annabeth. Mae frowned.
"First of all, what can the singer do? And secondly, Scylla has dog heads for legs that have an infatuation with destroying things. How do you propose we stop her?" asked Mae. Annabeth eyed Mae as if she were trying to analyze her. Which would not be the first time she had done that. Appearing satisfied, Annabeth continued.
"It’s not what a singer does, it’s what you do." said Annabeth, staring at Mae. Her eyebrows drew together.
"What are you talking about?" asked Mae.
"I heard you singing earlier, Mae. Your singing is like a charm-speak in and out of itself. I could feel myself paying attention to your song instead of my mapping of our exact whereabouts," explained Annabeth, growing excited. Mae nodded miserably and stared at Piper.
"Piper, you and Mae are going to sing and charm-speak the monster as we safely pass," said Annabeth. Her eyes glowed with excitement.
"Okay," they agreed, reluctantly. Annabeth beamed and clapped her hands.
"Great, now let’s get going," she said.
"Everyone else, below deck!" she said, scooping up the map and bustling below deck.
"Are you sure you can drive this boat below deck?" called out Annabeth’s voice, from the darkness.
"Yes!" insisted Leo, rolling his eyes wearily and following Jason and Addison down. Addison turned to give Mae a smile before he disappeared. Mae turned back around to Piper. They both smiled and nervously turned to the fast approaching wall of stone.
"I’m terrified," admitted Mae. Piper merely nodded not trusting her voice.
"I’m pretty sure that my singing is not going to affect anything," muttered Mae. Piper steeled herself.
"You sing a lullaby, and I’ll send them to sleep," said Piper. Mae nodded slowly and heard a ferocious yapping before she saw the ugly brutes.
"Crap," she muttered. Before the dogs had a chance to tear the ship in half, Mae began to sing. Her voice floated almost lazily through the air and calmed the raging beasts. A soft breeze tickled the canines. Piper’s voice was calm and reassuring in the background. The dogs’ eyelids began to grow heavy and droop. All was going well until a massive female head appeared.
"Wake up!" demanded the female head. The dogs snarled to life. Annabeth must have realized what was going on. Everyone swarmed from below deck. Mae’s voice sounded a little shaky, but she still sang on. Piper continued to charm-speak the dogs, but that was the only thing keeping them from eating them immediately.
"Leo! Got any tricks up your sleeve?" demanded Annabeth, running up to the helm.
"Jason, zap Scylla’s face to make her shut up," snapped Annabeth. She and Leo ran up to the helm and began to steer them away. Jason held up his hand, and a lightening bolt rained down hit her face. Scylla shrieked, but even that was not enough to startle the dogs.
"Leo!" said Annabeth, in a frantic tone. "What plan is there to get us out of here faster?" Addison came bounding up.
"I installed Greek fire under a panel that runs underwater. If I can activate it at the right time, we can blast ourselves out of here," said Addison. Annabeth grinned.
"Just the thing we need," she said. Just when Piper and Mae could not sing/ charm-speak anymore, Addison found the lever, and a roar issued from underwater. The dogs howled and gnashed the water with their teeth in anger as they soared to safety.
"Won’t be long now," said Annabeth. There was a tinge of excitement in her voice. Piper and Jason exchanged a knowing glance. Everyone went below to get some rest.
"You’re going to fail your quest, young Hero," said a sleepy voice. Mae was running through the woods again. The darkness cast eerie, ghostly shadows that seemed to stretch on the ground for miles. Heart pounding, Mae ran towards a large gap in the ground. Do not kill him, she pleaded, in her head. There was a figure sprawled near the hole. Despite her vain efforts in sprinting to get there, the whole began to swallow him up. Do not kill, begged Mae, squeezing her eyes shut painfully recalling a memory so vivid that she collapsed. Mae could feel the sharp leaves crackle as she crawled along the crawled along the earthen floor. The coolness of the dirt did little for her nerves. A smell was mixed with the dry, musty smell of the fallen leaves. It made Mae’s insides twist painfully, and she gagged. Tears mingled with the dirt covering her face. She could not get her breath, and she felt her muscles freeze. Panic seized her throat and numbed her tongue.
"Don’t kill him!" she screamed, half sobbed. There was a dark chuckle that shook the ground."
Mae woke up drenched in sweat. Her breath came in short, raspy gasps. It took her awhile to calm down. She climbed down from her hammock and crawled up to the deck. She climbed down to the little nook where she liked to sit and stared at the ocean. Shivering slightly because of the attire of a t-shirt and loose grey sweat-pants, Mae brushed a strange of vibrant colored hair out of her face. She was not entirely sure about the idea of everyone sleeping while they were still in the Sea of Monsters, but she trusted that Leo and Addison had fixed something for that occasion. Mae gazed down at her reflection. A beautiful nymph gazed back at her, and with a flick of her fishtail, she disappeared. A faint song tugged at the tip of Mae’s tongue. The lyrics reminded of her of the girl staring back at her.
‘Look at me/ I will never pass for a perfect bride/or a perfect daughter/ can it be I’m not meant to play this part?/ now I see that if I were truly to be myself, I would break my family’s heart/ who is that girl I see staring straight back at me?/ Why is my reflection someone I don’t know?/ Somehow I cannot hide who I am, thought I’ve tried/ when will my reflection show, who I am inside?/ When will my reflection show, who I am inside?" sang Mae. Her image flickered when an unknown bug skimmed the surface causing her reflection to shudder and blur. As the last note died away with a sudden gust of wind, Mae suddenly felt very alone. She could feel the sting of tears welling up inside. She scrunched her knees up to her chest and stared moodily out into the water.
"You cold?" asked a voice, above her. Her frenched braid fell off of its sitting place on her back as she turned her head. Addison was slowly descending, and he had brought his football jacket. He sat down next to her on the narrow sitting place. He was wearing a t-shirt and sweat-pants too. Addison quietly stared at the way the moon flickered across the water smoothly. Mae was enveloped in his jacket and up against him. They were so close that Addison could feel her breathing next to him.
"Pretty dangerous place for a half-blood," said Mae, finally breaking the silence. Addison nodded in his quiet, humble way.
"I’ve missed you," said Mae, quietly. Addison turned to look at her with raised eyebrows. Mae was not the sentimental type.
"What do you mean?" asked Addison, surprised.
"You’ve been spending so much time with Leo that I’ve missed having you around," said Mae, sincerely. Something in Addison felt glad.
"Really? ‘Cause you’ve kind of disappeared as well," said Addison. Mae’s temper flared slightly.
"What do you mean?" she asked, hurt by his words.
"It’s like what you said," said Addison, frowning at Mae while wondering what she was getting upset about.
"You’ve been with Annabeth and Piper all this time, but you haven’t spent any time with me. It’s like you’ve forgotten me completely." said Addison. Something welled up in Mae. Was it anger? Hurt? Her eyes filled with tears. She forced herself to speak.
"Addison, I think you’re just jealous because I now actually have more than just one friend," snapped Mae. She hated that her tears were spilling over, and her anger was making her words shake.
"That’s not it, Mae! Don’t be such a girl about this! I am not getting jealous over the fact that you have friends. I’m just saying that you’ve neglected me is all." said Addison, who was getting angry. Mae stood up so fast that she lost her balance on the narrow board. With a splash, Mae landed in the water. Her head emerged from the water, and she gasped for air. Addison leaned over and dragged her back up to the board. Mae crawled as quickly away from Addison as possible. Sopping wet, Mae ignored Addison’s calls behind her and ran below deck. After quickly showering off and changing, Mae cried herself to sleep. Addison stared out at the water. A deep well of emotions were swelling inside his chest so hard that his chest hurt. What had he done to offend Mae? Thought Addison, bitterly to himself. A change was boiling inside him and wanted to get out. He liked Mae. It was as simple as that. He had not known until she had stormed away how much he really liked her. The way she did anything was so different than all the others. Earlier that day when he gave her the scar he had found, he had realized how beautiful she was. He found himself daydreaming about what could have happened under the moonlight if she had not taken what he had said personally. When he closed his eyes, Addison could imagine her big, blue eyes.
"Aphrodite, why?" asked Addison, aloud under the stars.
"Did you just say something about Aphrodite?" asked Piper, sleepily at the doorway. She had gone to get a glass of water and heard Addison. All of his previous anger resurfaced, and he did not respond to Piper as he brushed past her. He could not stand Piper for some reason. Charm-speak seemed to be cheating, Addison thought to himself. He crawled into bed with Piper’s last words echoing in his mind.
"Did something happen between you and Mae?" she asked. Addison wanted to scream yes in her face.
"Yes! Of course! But not the kind that you’re talking about," Addison wanted to scream.
"Because she is in the shower crying, and you look like you just got hit a train." she added. "Horrible." she clarified, as if he had not gotten her meaning. Addison just kept his grim facial expression on his face as he walked back to his room.
The morning, Addison walked up above deck. Everyone was already above deck. Addison glanced at Mae, but she avoided his gaze. She stood next to Annabeth and Piper. Addison felt like he was swallowing a rock. Piper cooly observed them. Addison absentmindedly fiddled with his necklace.
"Mae had another dream last night," said Annabeth. Addison cast a glance at Mae. She stared purposefully at the map in front of her instead of meeting his gaze. Mae, without looking up, recounted her dream.
"Being the daughter of Apollo, I believe this is a dream that foretold the future," said Annabeth, tapping the hilt of the dagger.
"Who is the "him" in her dream?" asked Addison. Annabeth looked at the three guys.
"Any of you guys," said Annabeth. Everyone looked at each other uneasily. Especially the guys.
"How exactly did this guy get out of this mess," said Leo. Annabeth hit him with her stormy gaze.
"Who said he did?" she challenged. Mae barely met Leo’s gaze before looking back down.
"I-I didn’t see how it turned out. I woke up," said Mae, trembling slightly.