Eleanor turns out to be a little… different than I imagined… scratch that, NO ONE could’ve imagined someone like this!
Imagine tour guides: the boring, annoying kind with bad clothes who make you want to kill yourself when they try to be funny… now imagine the EXACT opposite… Voilà! The most colorful demigod in history standing right in front of me!
After hearing the horrible news of gods and monsters and the fact that Golluma was a goddess (Fine, call her Limos all you want… She will always be Golluma to me) I expected everything to be dark, mysterious, scary… Eleanor sure did not belong in that imaginary world of mine.
As soon as Chiron guides me out of the house and shuts the door behind me, I’m greeted by her.
And “her” is a girl my age, slightly taller, with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. Her light brown hair cut in a way that in the front it reached her shoulders but ended slightly lower than where her neck started in the back, with some blue, green, pink and yellow highlights on each side. Her shiny twinkling eyes are the color of honey, matching her hair. Her clothes look like a rainbow had puked on them (in a good way of course, though even I’m not sure if there is a good way for that in the first place) wearing jean shorts, striped purple leggings, uggs, a rainbow fingerless glove on one hand and a red wristband on the other, an orange T-shirt with a “Camp Half-Blood” logo on it that apparently was the camp’s official uniform and for some not-so-odd-compared-to-the-rest-of-her-uniform-reason a yellow smiley face badge pinned to her shirt.
Compared to her my black hair, black eyes, normal skin, blue T-shirt, ripped jeans and worn-out converses look pretty plain.
Eleanor however seems to be one of those people who’s nice to you no matter what you look like since she chooses to greet me with a big hug.
“Hey! Welcome to Camp Half-Blood! I’m Eleanor and guessing you’re Robin, right? I’ll be your guide to camp today, showing you all the cabins and stuff!” she says, with a loud laugh.
“Uh… yeah, okay…” I say laughing, a little confused… why am I laughing? First Greek gods, then an ancient centaur with an obsession with Pac Man and now a supposedly demigod who looks like a rainbow elf and makes you laugh like a maniac… this place is weird…
“Come on!” Eleanor says as she pulls me towards a huge field of strawberry bushes.
As we reach it, she says, “This is our strawberry field, the best in the whole east of America. Camp’s income comes from selling them”
I breathe in the sweet smell of strawberries baking under the sun, the nice wind flowing through the bushes, the sound of bees… As much as I want to hate this place I have to admit it’s pretty hard to stay grumpy.
I still haven’t finished that thought when Eleanor starts pulling me again, we pass a “forge” where several buff kids were working on swords, spears, a mini submarine and for some reason an electric duster (“The Hephaestus kids main fortress, I suggest you not go there if you like to keep your fingers” she said laughing, though it was impossible to see if she was serious or not… judging from the Hephaestus kids muscle size I decided not to take chances) then a Pegasus stable (the pegasi took turns searching us head to toe for sugar cubes), an arena (“duels, challenges and funerals…”) and finally her favorite place: the cabins.
Lots of cabins, at least twenty, sorted in way shaping an O around a large fireplace, apparently each for a different god.
Eleanor walks me around them all, standing in front of each and giving useful tips… I mostly nod and smile as if I completely understand whatever she says, trying not to show how I can’t tell the difference Tyche and a Viking.
“Is this your cabin?” I ask as we reach a rainbow colored cabin, all it needed were a few My Little Pony stickers to look like my preschool notebook.
“No… why does everybody think that?” she says, her smile faltering for the first time as her arms fall at her sides.
I just stare, from her highlighted hair to her rainbow fingerless glove to her weird and out of place uggs… had she looked at herself in the mirror lately?
“Oh… no reason… just your luck I guess…” I say trying not to laugh, she notices this and starts laughing thus making me laugh.
“Oh oh oh, okay… I know I’m a little weird but… oh Gods of Olympus…” she says, wiping away a tear.
I find myself clutching my own stomach while bending over, which surprises me. I’ve laughed less than this on subjects WAY funnier…
“Never mind… Come on” she says as she pulls me towards the other cabins.
I’m fascinated by all the contrast between the cabins: to your left you see a mini military facility complete with wires, sandbags and something like a grenade launcher and on your right an oversized doll house complete with yellow pastel curtains and flowerpots and the reeking smell of perfume. Two cabins one completely gold, another one silver. Everything was in contrast… everyth…
For some reason I’m not quite aware of I stop in front of a cabin, looks rather nice actually… made from shiny dark wood with the shadows of different sports (track, diving, tennis, rugby, etc) painted on the surface and a gold Olympics Rings logo above it’s entrance and the tiny statue of a winged woman on it’s roof…
As I look on to the cabin, I feel a churning in my gut and a twirling in my brain… something’s familiar, REAL familiar about this cabin.
Eleanor has noticed my sudden halt and is now standing next to me, looking at the cabin.
“Whose cabin is this?” I ask.
“Nike, goddess of victory… think she’s your godly parent?” she asks.
I shake my head, “No, my dad’s a god but… something’s familiar, my instincts tell me I have a connection… I know that sounds stupi…”
She puts an arm around my should and says “Stupid? Honey when you’re a demigod stupidity becomes an everyday thing! Once you learn you’re a demigod your instincts NEVR go wrong! If you sense a connection then there’s definitely something there!” she says with kind big smile… I like her more by the second.
We finally move on to the next cabins, going further and further near the lake. At one point the cabins stop leading to empty grounds for a while then reaching two really small cabins.
“That one over there is mine” she says pointing to the cabin on the left that looks like a really small circus tent with a huge yellow smiley face on its door…
I look at her a little puzzles, she as if reading my thoughts says, “Eleanor Zeta, daughter of Gelos, god of laughter, at your service ma’am” with a bow.
Gelos? I’m sure I’d heard about Zeus, Poseidon, Aphrodite and even Hades sometime but Gelos? Never…
“I don’t blame you for not knowing him… even those who are experts on the Olympians don’t know him.” She says.
“Whose is that one?” I say trying to change the subject… I guess it’s a bummer to find out that your dad is an actual GOD then finding out that no one knows about him. I point to the other one on the right that’s surface looks like those pictures that psychologists show you that are a horse, tank and Hannibal Lecter at the same time to find out what goes on in your mind.
“Noah’s” she says.
“You have a god named Noah?! Wasn’t he a patriarch?” I say.
Eleanor seems to understand something really stupid which causes her to laugh… making me laugh too.
After a whole minute of laughing she finally manages to regain control.
“No… Noah is a demigod… son of… son of Sophrosyne,” she says tying to stop her laughing.
“Sulfur-o what?” I ask… seriously? And I thought Poseidon was a weird name.
Eleanor laughs even harder… I know you think it’s annoying when people laugh too much, I think so too… but somehow it seemed natural and even kind of pleasant on Eleanor… well, being the demigod of laughter I guess it’s all you can expect.
“Sophrosyne… suh-fros-uh-nee” says a new voice from behind me.
I turn around and see a rather tall boy, side swept brown hair and the brightest, calmest and most blue eyes I’ve ever seen… and no, I’m not a lovesick fool; those are the only things that do describing his eyes justice. He looks way more normal than Eleanor, wearing the same orange Camp Half-Blood T-shirt (gladly with no smiley face badges), khaki shorts and flip flops, carrying a bunch of very sharp looking weapons and looking a little tired.
“Hey I’m Noah, son of the goddess of self-control and restraint. Seeing your confusion I’m sure you’ve never heard of her, then again no one knows her anyway… so nice to meet you!” he says, his expression not changing even a millisecond. Okay…
“Just got back from the arena; a bunch of Hermes kids had decided that it was “funny” to steal from the forge… well, it’s funny as long as you’re not the one who has to calm the Hephaestus kids” he says to Eleanor “speaking of weapons, you need to get yours polished… I TOLD you it was a bad idea to use your sword to climb Zeus’s fist.”
“Zeus’s fist?! You climb the ACTUAL Zeus’s fist?!” I say surprised… honesty, they climb someone’s fist?!
“It’s a cliff in the woods” Eleanor says while pointing to a gathering of dark trees on the far end of the camp “but that’s not important… we forgot to get you a weapon!” she says slapping herself on the forehead and taking my hand to yet again pull me across the camp.
“Just hurry, dinner’s in 10 minutes.” Says Noah as he walks towards his cabin.
“What was his problem?” I ask when I’m sure he’s out of earshot.
“Problem? What problem?” she says absently as she pulls me towards a small gardening shack.
“You know… the whole “Nobody knows and nobody cares and everybody hates me and Blah Blah Blah” thing… what was that all about?”
She looks at me for a few seconds, apparently deciding what to say.
“It’s complicated… Camp Half-Blood isn’t all nice and heavenly… Stereotypes flow in mythology, you saw the contrast between the cabins and demigods are pretty much like their parents and the gods are ALWAYS fighting… do the math” she says as we reach the gardening shack.
Okay, this was NOT a gardening shack… unless the gardening business revolutionized in the 24 hours I was snoozing. The room was filled with ALL kinds of weapons: swords from every size, knives of every size, riffles in every size, whips… well, you get the point.
Eleanor walks to the middle of the shack and raises her arms, saying “TADA! Which one do you want?” as if we’d come to pick a T-shirt.
I just stare at her.
“Fine… how about this?” she says while handing me a really fancy sword. The handle is way too hard, the blade is way too long and the jewels (yes, actual jewels) fail to make a good impression… No.
Then she hands me a spear. Its wood is too bendable. Its way too heavy and I have no idea how this thing is actually going to do any damage… No.
Then she hands me a riffle. Its… No.
She keeps handing me weapons and I keep saying no… no… no… no.
“Okay how about we forget it?” I say, finally frustrated.
“No way, as a demigod you NEED a weapon as much as you need duct tape.” She says, searching through an old chest.
“You’re kidding right?”
She chooses not to answer.
I roll my eyes, scanning the room again… I’ve tried all these weapons yet none of them struck me as “mine”… wait, MINE?!
“Bronze knife on the top shelf on the right”
“Huh?” I ask Eleanor who’s still searching in that chest.
“What?” she says turning around.
“What did you say?” I ask.
“I didn’t say anything.”
“You just…” I stop myself… the voice definitely hadn’t been hers, it had been smooth, calm and feminine… nothing like her excited shriek of a battle cry… battle cry?! I’M ALREADY THINKING LIKE A DEMIGOD! Help me…
Okay, enough freaking out… Maybe having a creepy voice inside your head is normal… thinking so I decide to do as the voice had told me; something was again really familiar about it.
Since there are no ladders in the shack I have to climb it the old fashioned way by hanging on to the shelves and using them as footholds… which isn’t probably the wisest choice in this case but since I’m sure I’m no child of Athena, what do I have to lose?... just a finger or two…
I climb the shelves as the voice had told me and surely I see a knife… a long dust covered knife with… nothing; that’s all the knife is.
I frown as I take its handle and jump down. I grip it tightly and it fits perfectly in my hand, the leather on the handle holding on with a few strings tightly wrapped around it and the blade around 12 inches long. I spin it around a couple times slashing through the air. I feel surprisingly comfortable holding it, not worrying about how I could impale myself just by holding it.
“How about this one?” I ask.
Eleanor raises her head from inside the chest, a little dust covering her hair. She frowns at the blade saying, “Where did you find that? Haven’t seen it before.”
“It was on the top shelf.”
She looks at the blade for a second then shrugs. “You can take it if you want, looks like no one’s touched it for years.”
I look at the blade expecting to hear that voice again but nothing came. I was probably imagining things.
“Use this sheath and strap it to your waist… sorry, it was the best one.” says Eleanor as she hands me a sheath looking almost as old as the knife.
“It’s okay, I’m not picky” I respond.
“Yeah, that’s probably why you’re nice to me” she says while looking at the ground.
“Nothing… it’s just that it will all probably change once you’re claimed”
“What do you mean?”
She looks up, her eyes kind of sad and gives me a sad smile.
“Remember how mine and Noah’s cabin are a little distant from the others?”
“Well, we’re not so popular here. Our parents are way too minor even by normal standards…”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
She shrugs, “Ask them.”
Anger builds up inside me. Why? How could anybody be so stupid to be mean to Eleanor? I don’t care about Noah but Eleanor has been nice to me since the second she saw me. The only nice person I’ve met in this freaking place.
“Well, they’re just a bunch of idiots who don’t deserve you. I don’t care if my dad would be the freaking god of backstabbing jerks, you’d still be the first person I’d turn to as my friend.” I say, giving her a reassuring smile.
She smiles back and starts laughing. “Come on! We’ll miss dinner!” and starts pulling me out the door.
Despite the huge crack on the floor, having to sit with the loud Hermes kids and having to throw my delicious pizza into the fire for some god I don’t even know dinner turns out to be rather pleasant.
Skipping the parts where I munch my dinner, we jump to the sing along.
I’m walking behind the Hermes kids when I spot Eleanor on the far end, waving to me, sitting under a smiley face banner. A little on her left sits Noah, looking blankly at the fire.
I make my way to Eleanor as I hear a voice behind me say, “Oh, I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
I turn around to see a girl with milk chocolate skin, blue eyes and surprisingly clean and long brown hair wearing a Camp Half-Blood T-shirt-turned-tank-top and jean shorts. She smiles, flashing her perfect teeth at me.
“Seeing you’re new, I know it as my duty as the Aphrodite cabin head councilor to advice you on beginning your social life. Don’t hang out with THEM.” She says, pointing to where Eleanor and Noah are sitting. Eleanor seems sad and Noah is frowning at Barbie girl here... I guess I’ll get along with that boy just fine.
“And what’s so wrong with them?” I ask. She seemed just like the kind of people who I hate.
Her eyes glisten with joy as if I’d asked her favorite question to answer.
“They’re mistakes; they’re not even supposed to be alive… their parents are SO minor they don’t have the right to have children… honestly, who calls them gods?” she says, asking the crowd of girls behind her. They all giggle in response. I want to throw up.
“You know what? Maybe the world is better off without YOU. Eleanor is worth 20 of you ALL combined… scratch that, you and your unbearable GODLY parents along you. You little piece of…” I start to say, balling my fists trying hard not to punch her.
I would’ve kept on, told her what a pathetic scumbag she is... if she and her adoring audience hadn’t gasped and taken a step back as if I’d grown horns. Then I realize it’s not only them but the whole camp… staring at me in awe.
“What?” I ask, then I look up to see whether a holographic sign had appeared above me to show my godly parent… nothing.
“WHAT?” I ask again. I look at Eleanor; she’s something in between awe and happy surprise. Then I Look at a very amused Noah. He points to my feet then to my back.
Surely I look at my feet and see… a black river… A BLACK BOLING RIVER?! I panic and turn my head to look over my shoulder and see… holographic wings… angel wings glowing grey.
“WHAT’S HAPPENING?!” I demand.
“Uh… you’re being claimed…” says Eleanor, clearly smiling now.
I sigh in relief. “Why are you making such a fuss about it then? Isn’t that what you all go through? You all get claimed.”
“Not like this… never before…” Noah says, grinning at me then at the whole camp.
“What do you mean?” I ask. Never before?
“Means that you’re another mistake, just like them.” Says another voice from somewhere in the crowd.
Before anyone or I can respond, the campfire blows up.
The warm blazing fire that was there just seconds ago is gone. Replaced by three hag like shapes, ten feet tall. Three old ladies standing with their back to each other holding something that looked like yarn and a knit sock… I know it doesn’t seem terrifying but seeing it there in action really makes you rethink about accepting your grandma’s Christmas sweaters…
Then all three at once begin to chant, their voices ancient and hollow.
“An age of minors has begun
The first to aid shall act as one
Follow the path of a righteous king
The fame and glory they will bring
The name of heroes will not fade
Unless the wrong decision’s made
Eleven days is all we lend
Succeed or watch the gold age end”
And with that, they’re gone. Revealing an angry looking Centaur that was standing behind there all the time.
“All hail Robin Ashton, daughter of Zelus, god of eager rivalry, envy and zeal.” With a slight bow, then immediately standing up with a fire in his eyes. Gesturing to me, Noah and Eleanor.
“You three come with me… NOW.”