Over the remainder of the day, training, getting to know one another and settling into camp was done in earnest. Still, it was only the first day of camp, and much more would be done by the end of the summer.
One Week Later:
As with most summer days, the morning's sun was bright, chasing away the shadows of the midnight hours. Demigods that got up with the dawn and sparrows were few and far between, however, and a fair few had chosen to sleep in.
Gary was one of the late sleepers. Over the past week he had started training Hunter in the use of ice magic. They had started out with the simple matter of forming and maintaining ice crystals: Hunter had struggled at first, but Gary had carefully guided him into it, showing him how to first maintain one lump of ice, but later moving on to two or three at a time. He was showing definite signs of progress, even after only a few days of training and while recovering from his injuries; sometimes Gary had wondered just how powerful the younger boy would become.
That morning, however, he had other concerns. Specifically, Mitsuko. The two of them had spent a fair bit more time together than they had in previous years; the obvious reason was that they had finally gotten together and become an item. Thanks to the Aphrodite cabin, almost everyone in the camp knew about them now, in some way; if there were three things that travelled fast around Camp Half-Blood, they were chariots, arrows (or bullets, for those of the appropriate age) and gossip.
Gary and Mitsuko had had a couple of discussions over meals and while spending time alone. They had agreed that they would take chances with some parts of their relationship, and be more cautious about others. It seemed like a logical decision to make, given their romantic histories; Mitsuko, too, had only had one significant other before she had started going out with Gary.
The son of Hecate was happy with being in a new relationship, and just being with Mitsuko in general. Just thinking about her or being near her gave him a warm, comfortable feeling inside. And her intelligence complimented the beauty Gary saw in her; she held her own in the discussions they shared, only occasionally stumbling over an awkward moment.
The couple had agreed to conduct an experiment together: the simple act of sharing a bed for the night. Though, of course, both had agreed that there should be nothing sexual about it; it was more to get used to the presence of one another than anything. They had chosen to spend the night in the Nyx cabin, after confirming with Anny that it was okay: Gary hadn't wanted to try to sleep in the same room as his half-siblings, since one was a mind-reader and the rest would stare at the couple; 'uncomfortable' wouldn't begin to describe it.
Gary had woken that morning to find Mitsuko's arms around him, her head resting on his shoulder and her body pressed up against his while she slept. Not for the first time, he took in the scent of his girlfriend's usual cherry-blossom perfume; faint traces still lingered on her. Careful not to wake her, he extracted his left arm from the pressing confines of Mitsuko's body and his side, and put the arm around her, working his fingers into her hair. In response, the Japanese girl let out a small "Mmm," in her sleep and cuddled a little closer to him.
Taking a few seconds to savour the moment, Gary simply lay there under the covers, permitting a small sigh of contentment to escape him. That morning, he was in his own little paradise, and there was very little right now that would jar him out of it.
Jessica, however, woke up alone, curled up in a ball under her sheets. There had been a few times when one or two of her half-sisters had brought someone over; each time Jess had thanked the gods for the combination of magic and technology that the Hephaestus campers had once helped them to set up. There was a switch in each nightstand to generate a thick floor-to-ceiling curtain of magical fog around the respective bed; it was perfect for privacy and soundproofing, as the specific enchantments placed on the switches prevented anyone from seeing or hearing anything that took place behind the curtain.
Jess straightened herself out under the covers, poking her head out from under them to find sunlight streaming in from the many windows, and a patch of grey where another bed should have been. Seeing that she was the only one awake this early, she got up, careful not to startle anyone with a loud noise, collected a change of clothes from one of the four suitcases under her bed - Aphrodite girls tended to collect large amounts of clothing - and headed for the bathroom at the back of the cabin where she took a shower.
After dressing and checking that she looked her usual best in one of the few mirrors that hadn't been affected by condensation in the air, Jess returned to the cabin to find that one or two of her siblings were stirring and rolling over. Setting her scarf, which she always kept separate from the rest of her clothing, about her shoulders, Jess straightened out her hair and let it cascade down her back to about her waist; she chose to retain its natural auburn colour rather than become a blonde or brunette, or go to an extreme such as purple or neon-green. Besides, the colour complemented her outfit, which was a simple matter of a blouse, a skirt and sandals.
Satisfied with her appearance - having checked it in one of the many mirrors around the cabin - Jessica chose to grab breakfast before the rest of the cabin was awake enough to contemplate following suit. She made her way to the dining hall at a slow pace, taking in the sights of the camp at the early hour of around 7:00 AM.
During the last six or so days, she had begun to go through the standard routines of swordplay and archery that she encouraged among her siblings. Jess believed that her mother could exemplify love and beauty in more ways than simple appearance: there was also the idea of showing devotion to one's chosen profession or craft. In her case, it was combat; Jess had a touch of the fighter in her where others had the more artistic talents like singing, painting or writing. She reflected on these thoughts as she walked, thinking that maybe it was time to try something new, something one of her siblings could do better than she could.
Things were slowly getting back to normal for Brandon at camp. Of course, being head counselor this year, it was a little easier than before. Leeroy had to do most of the things around the cabin anyway, as punishment for his defeat. Brandon made sure to rub salt in the wounds at every opportunity. It was becoming one of his favorite pastimes.
Kat seemed to be settling in well, at least for a girl. She was slowly getting the hang of the daily exercises. The fighting was fierce for the Ares kin, and that was the way Brandon liked it. They had to be ready for anything in battle, and be sure not to give up until their opponent was ground into dust. He wanted that instilled in each and every last one of his brothers...and sister.
It was another early rise for Brandon. He was used to getting up this early, thanks to two-a-day practices and helping his mom out back home. No one else in the cabin was awake, so he decided to grab a quick power breakfast in preparation for another day of fighting. He slipped into some jeans and his Austin #19 jersey and headed down to the mess hall for some chow.
Zestia put her covers over herself. She wasn't too fond of the sun in the morning. Didn't suit her. But she knew she had to be up. She grabbed her snake ring, put it on her right index finger and started to get dressed. It seemed that her brother, Johnathan Martiniere, was already out, while her sister, Hannah Branford, was being a little sleepyhead. "Wakey, wakey. It's time for more training." Zestia tried to wake Hannah up, with little luck. Zestia got dressed in her usual black attire, deciding to leave the zipper for her sweater open.
The inside, and outside, of the cabin showed that this was the Thanatos cabin. A few upside down torches hung on the walls all around both inside and outside, with a few paintings of butterflies inside the cabin that previous children, along with the three that were in camp now, had done over the years. The butterflies were painted white to contrast the only other color on the cabin which covered it, black. They liked that, of course, the children of Thanatos. They thought it suited them, and the butterflies looked nice inside. There were only a few butterfly paintings on each wall. Outside above the front door of the cabin hung two ceremonial swords. One of them was made of Celestial Bronze, the other of Stygian Iron, with the Stygian one crossing over the Celestial one.
"Hannah, wake up. We may be the children of Death, but that doesn't mean you should take a long sleep." Hannah finally opened her eyes. "Aww, but Zestia..." She said in a sleepy voice and yawned. "No buts, young missy. Doesn't matter that you're only a year younger than me, you still need your breakfast and training. You still haven't been able to properly call a skeleton follower without a bone. Get up, then we're heading to the mess hall."
Hannah was a head shorter than Zestia, red headed and her hair didn't reach far, just above her shoulders. Her eyes were kinda dark blue, and her skin was as white as Zestia's. While Zestia wore mostly, if not entirely, black, Hannah preferred a little brighter colors, but not too bright. Wearing blue jeanes and a green t-shirt, along with a green open sweater, much like Zestia's sweater, Hannah left with Zestia to the mess hall.
Today was a beautiful day. A fair number of people were already heading to the mess hall, and once the two Thanatos girls got there, they saw a few people heading out of it, having finished eating. They walked inside and went in line for food.
"... ... ... ...meow..." A single noise broke through the thick silence that was present in the Hypnos cabin. "... meow!..." Several groans rose up from the dark beds, and the bulks under the blankets moved. A girl stood up, her hair messed up by the long sleep. Ling-Lei was Ying-Hui's younger twin, and technically Ambrose's half-sister. She was a surprisingly light sleeper, and it was usually her who woke Ambrose up when Lethe was complaining.
"Ambrose... ... AMBROSE! Hey wake up!"
Ambrose pushed her cabinmate's face away, pulling her covers back over her head. Her dreams slowly vanished nonetheless, and she felt the damp heat sticking to her skin. With a grunt she sat up, bright blue eyes meeting her own. "Aw... Lethe..." she groaned again, getting up out of bed and stretching. The white cat seemed content that it's owner was up, starting to quiet down and simply purr.
The rest of the cabin slowly drifted off to sleep as she fed the cat. They were fine with it as long as it didn't wake them up often. "Lethe, what did I tell you about talking so loud?" Even Ling-Lei had fallen back asleep, curled up on her bed. "Lei... dammit Lei... wake up..." Guess I'm not going back to sleep for now... She sighed and let her friend sleep. Ambrose felt for the pendant hanging over her chest, her eyes adjusting to the rays of light that crept into the windows. Lethe walked over to her and rubbed against her legs.
"What day is it?"
She couldn't quite remember the last time she was awake, and realized that the day didn't help her gauge how long she had really been asleep. Ambrose went to the bathroom and climbed onto the sink, looking at what she was wearing. Plain white pajamas huh? She tried to comb her hair out a little with her fingers, but decided not to. Not like I'll be out long anyway.
Before she went out the door she stopped at the closet. I better bring this in case Chiron decides I need to be slaughtered while I'm up. A long scythe emerged in her hands, the light reflecting off of it casting odd shadows on Ambrose's face.
The sunlight blinded her as soon as she stepped out, and she yelled, scaring Lethe. "Damn! Why did I come out here!? The sun... it buuuurns..." she groaned melodramatically.
"Alright, this time for sure." Kate grinned as she finished the connections, seating the actuator within the leg joint of the Corinthian Armor. She closed the panel, then screwed it back on and bolted it, the seam of screw and bolt nearly invisible if you didn't know what to look for. She stepped back and looked at her masterpiece. Even if it didn't work, it was still a work of art, a seven foot, three inch tall goliath of bronze, looking like it could be Achilles himself returned to the world of men. She grinned at the the thought. Her father would have been proud of this work even if it weren't functional.
And this creation was extremely functional.
"Alright...here's goes nothing." She cracked the armor open, then turned around and stepped into it, sliding her arms into their sockets. Once her limbs were in place, she twisted and the chestpiece clicked back together, then she raised her arms slowly, the actuators not yet online, and brought the helmet down, plunging her into darkness. If this didn't work, she was going to be in trouble, with only a screwdriver to pry the helmet off.
Then again, it wouldn't be the first time that had happened. Maybe I should think about having someone watch me during my tests...then again, they'd figure out it was an armor and not a carving before I was ready.
"Corinthian: Initiate powerup."
With a hum, the great machine took it's first breath. The power core came online, beginning to supply the life-giving electricity to the shell, actuators and muscle fibers loosening and coming online. From the exterior, the armor seemed to burn, wreathed in a nimbus of pale fire, and the face slits glowed a bright white. The darkness suddenly gave way to light and she could see.
She raised her arms, as easily as if she was unarmored. She took a step, as easily as if she was unburdened. She breathed, she saw. Her and the armor were one.
"Wooooooooooooohoo!" She raised her fist into the air and jumped, coming down with a colossal weight that left a small but noticeable dent in the floor of the forgeworks. "Oops." She glanced around sheepishly, then looked to the sky. Dawn again. Damn, another night of sleep missed. Given her accomplishment, she couldn't find it within herself to really care too much. Bah, time enough for sleep when I'm dead.
"It's done, though. It's done! I did it! Hahahaha!"
She took off at a run towards the mess hall for food, not bothering to remove the armor or even the helmet. To anyone looking at the path between forgeworks and mess hall, they'd see a colossal armored warrior moving at a jog across the expanse, occasionally letting out a whoop or a peal of laughter.
Alexandros awoke and got out of bed, he kept his normal form this time instead of opting to look like somebody else. For the past week or so he had enjoyed his time at camp until they had started combat training. He was notorious at this point for being found in the strawberry fields practicing controlling the vines or at the stage doing any number of monologues when he should have been at the arena learning how to fight with his Stiletto knife or at the range practicing with his hand crossbow. He wasn't much of a fan of the fighting, but he knew it was something that had to be done so he didn't complain when he was inevitably found.
Though right now he was more concerned about getting food than the inevitable training that would occur. He got ready before walking out of the cabin and over to the main mess hall. He grabbed a tray before going down the line and picking the foods he wanted to eat. After piling many items on the tray he picked a table and sat down to eat.
Hunter had woken up early. Partly because he had to wake up early for years in order to have a shot at first choice of food and partly because he rolled over in his bed, placing his shoulder on a bit of an awkward angle that sent a sharp pain through it. It took Hunter a minute to untangle himself from his sheets before he was able to sit up at the side of his bed and look at the clock hanging in the room; it read 6:30. Leaning down Hunter pulled his luggage from under his bed and pulled out some socks, underwear, white shorts with vertical pin stripes, and a solid white t-shirt.
Hunter stood up and walked the short distance to the bathroom at the back of the cabin. He kept as quietly as possible so he didn't wake up any of the other cabin members on the walk over. This effort was almost botched as he hit the door with his arm when he passed it; barely getting his foot in the way to stop it before it slammed closed. Breathing a sigh of relief, he quietly finished closing the door and grabbed his towel off the rack inside the door and tossed it beside the shower. Hunter turned on the shower and switched his more comfortable cotton sling, with a water proof sling for the shower.
Testing the water with his hand, Hunter found it at a warm enough temperature and stripped down before entering. As the warm water hit him Hunter expected a string from the wounds from the week earlier. However for the last couple days it didn't come because the wounds were already healed. The idea was still a bit shocking to him of how cuts, that would have taken at least a week or two too scar over where he lived before, were gone with no scars in a few days pass.
As he showered, Hunter started to reminiscence of the past week's events. After being woken up some time after he started his nap Hunter was informed that he had to go see Chiron. Upon seeing him Hunter was caught off guard by his acceptance for entering the forest after being told not to. The punishment of clean up duty in the Hermes cabin for three days after his shoulder healed enough that his sling was no longer needed was more than expected. That much wasn't bad though. He could have easily lived with that but what happened next was a much larger problem with Hunter.
News that Hunter had gone into the forest and killed a hellhound before getting injured and rescued by Gary started to spread. Being the only new person at the camp that was covered in bandages and with a sling it wasn't hard for people to figure out that he was the one from the stories. The problem grew greater because not only was Hunter not being left alone like he preferred by he was often berated by questions. The only thing Hunter could do was run away for the best of his abilities. The story itself even started to contort into tales that no longer resembled the actual story.
Stories of how Hunter killed all the hellhounds himself appeared. Those led into stories about how he entered the forest and killed all the hellhounds to avenge the other camper who was killed. On the opposite end the side of Gary saving him seemed to stretch as well. Hunter overheard the gossiping of how Gary killed off an extremely large number of hellhounds in order to save a helpless new camper appeared, with changes to the species attacking Hunter turning into bigger and harder to kill monsters. A tale crossing over with how Gary and Mitsuko got together because of his heroic efforts was heard near the end. Luckily for Hunter and probably Gary the whole thing boiled over when three demigods, from the cabins of Demeter, Athena, and Apollo respectively, killed one of the Erinyes and completely took over the gossip section of the camp.
Some things were getting better for Hunter though. He'd gained ten pounds over the past week stuffing his face from the overwhelming amount of food available. It didn't really matter what the food was, and even a paranoid voice in the back of his head saying it could be poisoned or other such nonsense didn't slow him down. Learning how to use his ice magic had started too. Hunter had learned how to create ice using the air's natural moisture as a base. His current progress was limited to just making a few golf ball size pieces of ice at once, but it was still progress.
Hunter came out of his train of through as several pieces of ice pelted his back. He had lost concentration and turned the water coming at him from the shower to ice before it made contact with his back. Although it hurt slightly it was a good thing to bring him back to reality and he promptly washed himself off and got dressed and ready.
Hanging his towel up and sliding his pajamas under his bunk Hunter checked the time, 6:50. Knowing that most of the early risers for training were already there and had likely finished eating, Hunter wanted to get his food before a line up from the next bunch of campers to wake up produced. Making good time with a fast pace it only took Hunter a few minutes to get there and grab an already made omelet and a stack of pancakes before sitting down at the Hermes table.
A series of annoyingly loud banging sounds tore Kat from her slumber. With an irritated growl she tried covering her ears with her pillow, but to no avail. Even muffled, the crashing sounds pounded her eardrums. She rolled out of bed, angrily stomping over to the door and throwing it open to see what was making all that damn noise. What she saw made her rub her eyes a bit in disbelief. A giant armored...thing was frolicking down the path to the mess hall shrieking and laughing like a madman - or woman. The voice sounded distinctly feminine.
Kat's sleep-depraved mind suddenly recalled that this must've been that chick she'd been hearing about all the past week. The one who was building something big in the Forge. Huh. The angry words at the tip of her tongue quickly retreated. She would give that girl a piece of her mind, but not when she was wearing gods-knew-how-many tons of armor. With a frustrated sigh she slammed the cabin door shut. Since sleep was out of the question now, she decided to take a shower.
Afterwards, Kat dressed herself for the day and stepped out of the cabin, wearing a grey tank top, jeans, and her boots. With nothing better to do, she headed towards the mess hall for breakfast.
The same crashing noises that had woken up Kat could be heard in the Nyx cabin a few buildings away... and likely every other cabin. Being the only one awake in the cabin of night, Gary carefully shifted himself out of Mitsuko's embrace and got up to look through a window.
Someone was running through the central courtyard in a full suit of armour, laughing her head off like an insane scientist who had just completed their greatest work of depravity. At the sight of it, Gary lowered his head to the windowsill and let the two collide with a muted thunk. "Holy Hephaestus... what have your children done now..." he groaned quietly. "You would think people would have the decency to let other sleep in." His comment was logical enough: only the children of the God of Fire and the Forge would have managed to accumulate enough Celestial Bronze for such a device.
Gary's musings to himself were interrupted by a half-asleep voice close by. "Huh? Wha's goin' on?" He turned from the window to find Mitsuko sitting up in bed, brushing her hair out of her face. She was surprisingly incoherent as a result of being woken up by the loud noises that were being produced by... whoever it was, inside that armour. Gary quickly returned to the bed, taking a seat on the edge.
"Everything's fine, we're not under attack, nothing to worry about. Just one of the Hephaestus kids making a fuss over whatever it is they've built now," he answered in a soothing voice. "You can go back to sleep if you want."
Mitsuko made a noise that sounded like a cross between a 'hmph' and a 'meh', and promptly flopped back down to lie on her back, eyes closed. Gary watched her for a few moments, a smile creeping onto his face.
"What in the name of - Di immortales!" Jessica shrieked as the rampaging... thing stormed past her. A bizarre hybrid of bronze and other metals, it seemed humanoid at first, but clearly larger, with various bits and pieces attached to it. Jess could only watch, mouth partially agape, as it continued to run, laughing as it went.
Soon enough Jess snapped out of her state, and continued on her way to breakfast. "Dearest Mother, please remind your husband to tell his children about not building insanely large and definitely lethal contraptions," she said quietly as she walked, getting a quick prayer in before her morning meal.
"Oh, honey, believe me, I've tried," a familiar, melodic voice responded in her head. "You know how he gets about his children and their projects." Jessica was used to hearing a voice in her head that wasn't her own, especially since the voice belonged to a divine entity who could be anywhere at any time. Hearing a response to her prayers was nothing unusual to her.
"Have you seen what one of them has done now? Seriously. That thing was easily taller than anyone here, and don't think I don't remember the armoured chariot that was practically a tank. We don't need another hole in the amphitheatre wall... please," Jess pleaded.
"Alright, I'll talk to him. But you owe me," Aphrodite warned.
Ambrose opened her eyes to see what Lethe was so incensed about, only to notice what she could only describe as a giant metal golem stomping through the camp. Noticing that there was no particular alarm in the air, and that it wasn't crushing demigods beneath its feet, she took her kitten in her arms.
"Just pretend this is a bad dream..."
Never in her recent memory did Ambrose think that being awake would be stranger than being asleep. Nonetheless she headed towards where all the other people seemed to be going, alternating between shielding her eyes from the sun and walking with her eyes closed altogether. The only reason she knew she was in the mess hall was because of the smell. Lethe squirmed in her arms, trying to get to some food.
"Ow, ow... *sigh*... okay we'll get something to eat..." she grumbled, picking up whatever was closest.
Mid-whoop, Kate looked around, noticing several people pouring out of cabins or around the mess hall staring at her with fear or irritation in their eyes. She stopped her sprint and shifted her feet sheepishly, then activated the powerdown sequence. The armor split open and she stepped out of it. She glanced around at the numerous people staring.
"Erm...sorry, everybody! Just got a little overexcited."
She turned and quickly headed into the mess hall to collect her food - various fruit, pancakes, eggs, bacon, toast, steak, and a huge mug of coffee, to which she added a considerable amount of sugar and cream.
Belatedly, she glanced at her loaded plate. "Wow, I'm hungry." She sat down at her usual place, an isolated corner, and reached into her pocket to withdraw the schematics for the armor that she had dubbed Corinthian. Some of the response time had been sluggish, she'd need to figure out what the problem was there. Probably wasn't a structural problem, more likely to be a problem with the coding...
'Two fifteen...one thirty...forty seconds? That sounds like wind assistance...' There was a sudden loud creaking sound as the step ladder Javier was standing on began to tilt to one side. He shifted his weight until he was centered again before resuming his review. After his morning run it was customary for Javier to check the records of The Board. It wasn't a requirement but it helped his competitive half-siblings to have accurate records. Those same guys had a habit of calling out their latest times before going to sleep. Javier's memory wasn't good enough to remember them all. So in one hand he held a dry erase marker and in the other he had the printed records of the previous day.
When he was finished with his updates Javier stowed the supplies and re-secured his water bottle and gloves to his shorts. There were still a few snoring lumps in their beds but- Javier checked his watch- it was only seven o' clock. He still had a few hours before his scheduled practice session. 'Time for food.' With a final glance around the cabin Javier shouldered open the door, heading toward the cafeteria.
Once Jessica heard the owner of the armour apologise for "getting a little overexcited", as she put it, the daughter of Aphrodite calmed down considerably and resumed her casual walk towards the mess hall for breakfast. Doubtless someone on the board of directors would have something to say about use of that powered suit; hopefully it would be confined to the arena in peacetime, and occasionally the forges where it would undergo repair.
Jess slipped into the mess hall after a few other half-asleep campers shuffled through the doors. One such person, no more than fifteen years old, had a white cat in her arms. Or, at least, the cat was in one arm. A long scythe was in the other hand, dragged behind the girl as she walked. Jessica smiled at the kitten while she fell in line for breakfast; cats were adorable when they were little.
"Come on, sunshine... it's a beautiful day out," Gary insisted, lightly poking Mitsuko to properly wake her up again. In the aftermath of the armoured Hephaestus camper rampaging through the courtyard, she had shown signs of falling asleep again. Gary was now trying to wake her up for breakfast. Surprisingly, Anny had managed to sleep through the whole episode.
"Nnnn... don' wanna. Gimme a while," the Japanese girl complained, roughly shoving Gary's hand away and burying her head in the covers.
"Alright, suit yourself. Guess I'll get something without you then." With that comment Gary found the pants he had worn the day before - he was still wearing the same shirt, and would change after breakfast and a shower - pulled them on and left the Nyx cabin, pausing only to take his staff, which he had brought over just to be on the safe side.
The Hecate cabin was next door to that of Nyx, so Gary elected to drop off his weapon just inside the door. Now unarmed, he began a barefoot walk to the mess hall, occasionally shielding his eyes from the bright sun of the morning. It would only get brighter, unless someone felt like summoning a raincloud or two, or bringing some hail down. Both of which would be weird in this season.
Lethe stared at Jessica, meowing to Ambrose occasionally. Finally the kitten jumped off, padding over to sit near the Aphrodite girl's feet.
"Mrow? Prrr... prrr..."
She rubbed against her legs insistently, begging for some food. Ambrose didn't seem to notice her kitten wander off, putting her dishes away. Hopefully I can get back to the room without much notice... The scythe swung over her shoulder and she tried to quickly walk out of the cafeteria. Fighting was low on her list of things to do, which staying outside for extended periods of time seemed to do. Ah, the sun is out, the sky is blue... the perfect day to be in my nice cool bed. Then she noticed Lethe was gone.
"Lethe! Cat where are you?"
There were a lot more people in the mess hall now, and Ambrose had to groan. It wouldn't be easy to find a small white kitten in the crowd, but she had to start somewhere.
Zestia and Hannah separated after getting something to eat. Hannah went off to the other friends she had, while Zestia headed for a somewhat empty table. She started eating a bit when she noticed Jessica. "Hey Jess! Come over here once you've got something edible!" She waved to Jessica so she'd notice where the voice was coming from, then turned back to her plate. She was going over in her head the plans for today. She knew that there was some training with Hannah and she also had exercise and a bit of rest-time. She'd think about it more after eating.
Jessica was about to step forward and take a small plate for herself when she felt something brush against her ankles. The kitten had somehow gotten separated from its owner, and was now purring and mewing up at her as it rubbed against her legs.
"Hey, kitty," she said quietly, carefully picking up the cat in her arms to read the tag on its collar:
Lethe. As soon as she caught sight of the food on the tables, Lethe writhed and squirmed in Jess's arms, mewing insistently about something, probably food... and then she extended tiny little claws, which scratched and dug into the skin of Jessica's unprotected forearms.
"Owww... naughty cat," she scolded, setting Lethe back down on the floor and assessing the damage. Thankfully the kitten had only drawn blood from a couple of spots. Lethe mewed once at her and walked off, presumably to bother someone else for food. Hopefully the owner would find him or her sooner rather than later, rather than letting it run off. Jess made a note to put up a small notice on the general news board if she found Lethe alone again. As she rejoined the breakfast line, she heard a familiar voice call out to her.
"Hey Jess! Come over here once you've got something edible!"
The voice belonged to a friend of hers: Zestia Scarlet, daughter of Thanatos. She and Jessica had been friends for a couple of years, and they hung out a fair bit of the time. Eager to join her friend at her table - and completely ignoring the usual guideline that all the campers from each cabin sat around the same table - Jess loaded up a plate with some toast and a cheese omelette before taking a seat opposite Zestia.
"Morning, Zestia," she said brightly as she began to dig in. "How's it going? Any plans for the day?"
Zestia couldn't answer right away because she had a piece of toast in her mouth. She washed it down with orange juice and got it all down. "Just some training and exercise. Hannah still needs to learn how to summon a skeleton without a bone, and you know how good I am at that." She kinda liked to brag about her ability, even though Jessica should know by now how good she was at it. "Besides that, there's not much else. Maybe stay out of the sun. Doesn't do me well to be for too long outside."
She had herself a piece of egg she had on her plate along with some bacon. "What about you? Got anything planned?" She caught side of the scratch marks on Jessica's forearms. "Did something happen?"
Alexandros was sitting down and finishing up his food when a small cat jumped up on his lap and gave him the sad doe eyes. He knew the kitten was begging for food, and that it probably would get fed anyway, but he picked up some of the breakfast meats still on his plate and began feeding them to the cat. The kitten purred a bit as it was fed while Alexandros instead took this as an opportunity to test the other power the rings had. He pulled out a piece of one of the vines vine he had kept on him and focused on getting it to wind around his arm and bear fruit.
The vine began to curl around his arm, producing small but ripe strawberries from the vine.
I'm glad I didn't get the wine grapes by accident. Would rather test that when nobody cares if I actually make some wine with them. Then I can actually have a decent breakfast. he thought as he continued to give the cat meat from his plate while he ate the strawberries being grown, ready to be picked and eaten, into his other hand.
Lethe accepted the food happily, being the little piglet she was, but started to take interest in the vines Alexandros was growing. She sat back and jumped up onto his lap, starting to try and grab at the vines, batting at some of the strawberries. The white kitten churned and wiggled and bolted around his lap, playing with her little pointy bits out.
Ambrose let off a neutral sigh when she found Lethe viciously attacking the vines on Alexandros' arm. A really, REALLY neutral sigh. "Leeethe... I've been looking for you. Aunty Lily would be kinda mad if I lost you again..."
"Yeah, I guess growing vines are kinda more fun to play with than a chain... and I fed you earlier. It's not like I was starving you..."
"Prrr prrr prrr prrr..."
"We've been through this, no he can't take you home with him... why would you say that?"
There was a hint of some hurt in her voice, but she said the line like a bad actor in a play. After a few more minutes of arguing with the cat she turned to the guy whose lap she was prowling.
"I'm sorry, I guess. Lethe likes to go crazy when we leave the cabin. I don't think she likes being shut inside all the time..."
Alexandros let out a laugh as the cat played with the vines on his arm, letting some of them drape down for the kitten.
"It's fine really, I happen to be a fan of animals. Well I'm a fan of a lot of things honestly, animals just happen to be one of them. Besides, I can't blame the thing for not liking being inside all day and getting excited once given the chance to go outside."
"Bad kitten." Ambrose yawned. Lethe seemed more interested in playing with the strawberry vines than listening to her at the moment, so Ambrose just stood there awkwardly. "So... what other stuff are you a fan of..." She stared at him for a bit, trying to remember what cabins grew vines. Lady Demeter maybe? But then again he doesn't have that 'homey' look. "What are you, a harvest kid?" It came out a little more aggressive than she wanted it to be, and she frowned. Was that rude? The fact that the times she got out of her cabin were few and far between meant that she didn't have very many friends outside of the Hypnos children, and very few of them held grudges because of social faux pas, so she assumed she came off a little rash.
"I'm a son of Dionysus. As for other things I like, well acting is one thing. Others include simply talking or interacting with others and generally anything rather fun. I'll basically try anything at least once so I have found many things I find fun." Alexandros replied easily. He had met many people and some of them just had a hard time socializing, so he was used to people who appeared a bit rash or mean when they didn't mean it. He had also learned to tell who meant to be mean and who didn't.
He caused the vines to bounce a bit by moving his arm as he spoke.
"So what about you? Who's child are you and what do you enjoy?"
Ambrose found that she had zoned out after 'Dionysus'. Have I been awake that long already? She hoped that she hadn't snoozed off at least, trying to concentrate on her kittens renewed efforts to climb Alexandros' arm. "I'm... cabin 17..." she murmured. "I like to stay in bed all day and sleep." Lethe hissed at her. "Oh, yes, I love you too." she frowned, poking the kitten in the side. Now that she thought about it, she didn't really have any hobbies, or interests. Neither did most of her cabinmates. Huh... what have I been doing all this time...
"What, these? They were caused by a kitten I met in here earlier," Jessica explained before taking another bite. "He, or she, I can't tell which, had been a cute ball of fur until the claws came out. Nothing to worry about." She thought over the other question Zestia had asked: it was pretty much the same thing Jess had posed to her friend but in different words. The daughter of Aphrodite couldn't think of anything off of the top of her head to do: maybe it would be one of those days that she and her cabin did very little, she thought. Many of her siblings didn't do much without incentive.
But it was her role as cabin leader to get things done, including classes and training and such... Jess decided to see how the early morning went, and if anything came up, or she remembered that the cabin needed something, she would get her siblings moving.
"To answer your other question, no, I don't think there's anything specific that I or Cabin Twelve needs to do," she answered. "Maybe we'll just take the day off," she added with a small smile.
Gary paused outside the mess hall to look at the suit of armour that had been left so carelessly outside, almost as if it had been parked by its owner. It was such a bizarre creation to him: why would someone build something that practically made them a walking tank? It looked like it was armed as well: Gary's eyes picked out what looked like a crossbow built into one arm.
The thought of playing a little trick on the owner as payback for interrupting his morning with Mitsuko stole into his mind. Just locking it in place, nothing the owner couldn't deal with given enough time and patience. With that in mind, he cautiously looked around to see if anyone was around who would see what it is he was about to do.
No-one was in sight. Perfect. With a small hand gesture and a muttered word in Ancient Greek - the word for 'cold' - Gary shot two small spheres of ice at the construct's feet. They exploded simultaneously on contact with the metal, expanding and solidifying to trap the suit's feet in thick blocks of ice rooted to the ground. Another quick spell ensured the frozen water wouldn't melt in the summer sun.
With that out of the way, Gary hurried into the entrance hall to get some breakfast. A quick survey of the hall before stepping up to the benches revealed the presence of Jessica with a friend whose name he didn't remember, as well as a few others he recognised, Hunter among them. Hunger getting to him, Gary chose a couple of stacks of pancakes and practically drowned them in maple syrup before taking a seat at the Hecate table. One can never have enough syrup, he thought as he dug in.
"Well that's certainly a way to spend the day. So who are you a child of?" Alexandros asked, having the vines jiggle to continue to distract the kitten from digging into his arm. He picked a strawberry from his hand and place it in his mouth.
"I'm in Cabin 17. Hypnos." Absentmindedly she pulled out her pendant, swinging it haphazardly around her fingers. "Not really a notable cabin hmm... I don't think we've done anything notable." In tournaments they tended to be the first ones out, either because they lost quickly or didn't show up at all. "I'm Ambrose... but it's not like I'll see you again likely. I don't leave the cabin too much."
"Aah, I see. Well, if you want, you could maybe help me with training Hannah? She could use an opponent when she attempts to summon a skeleton follower on her own without a bone, just to see how good it'll be. I don't expect anything spectacular, but we'll see." Zestia finished the last of her breakfast and returned Jessica's smile with one of her own. She took her bone out of her pocket and swung it a little before putting it back in her pocket.
"Well I could always visit your cabin. Then again judging by the name you all probably sleep a bit, at least I know where to go if I need quiet." Alexandros said with a chuckle as he placed the kitten on the ground.
"Yeah, whatever..." she sighed. "Come on Lethe, let's go." The kitten jumped and climbed up her sleeve, coming to a rest on her shoulders.
"Purr, purr, purrr~" She left without another word, walking out of the mess hall.
For a second she was back in the warm sun of California, lazing around on the warm sand. There were no strange things stalking her from the shadows, no mean teachers smacking her hands with rulers, and no danger. She was free to sleep as much as she wanted in her aunt's home, with no worries at all. Her aunt understood her. She made an effort. Aunty Lily... I miss you... She wasn't bitter at all towards her real mother, but she did wish that Liliana was her mother.
She walked back to her cabin, but for the first time the gray walls offered no solace. The fact that she had beds full of half brothers and sisters just like her in there did not comfort her. Before she knew it she was at the other end of the cabins, facing the lake. It sparkled in the sun, and just beyond it, emerald leaves flickered in the slow wind. "Lethe... I miss home."
"Alright, sounds like a plan. I'll grab my knives after breakfast so we can get started whenever you want," Jessica answered before noticing that Zestia had brought one of her bones with her. The bones and the skeletons that children of Thanatos and Hades could summon always scared Jess a little. The thought that Zestia could be willingly carrying around parts of a dead human being spooked her even more: who knew who that bone had belonged to in life?
She declined to comment on the bone's presence, however, preferring to concentrate her attention on her food. If she was going to get some fighting done that day, she needed all the energy she could get. Jess always prepared for a fight as if it were for real, even if she knew it was just a practice match.
The humiliated Leeroy, still smarting from his defeat a week ago at Kat's hands, was roaming the camp fully armed. No monsters had shown their ugly faces in the woods, which he had entered to look for something to kill, and no-one had wanted to fight in the past few days. Simply put, the guy was pissed, and it was obvious to anyone that he needed a way to vent this frustration.
Not wanting to return to the Ares cabin just yet, he continued to wander, passing between the cabins and the lake. A little kid, easily much younger than himself, was standing near the lakeside, a tiny cat on her shoulder and the shaft of a scythe in one hand. The brute's mind jumped to a simple conclusion, and he acted on it: Leeroy stuck out a hand and roughly shoved Ambrose as he passed her, though he wasn't sadistic enough to throw her into the water. Just push her over and make the cat panic.
"Watch it," he snapped as he kept going, not bothering to acknowledge the fact that the two had been a fair distance apart when he pushed her, or to help Ambrose up.
Ambrose wasn't really paying attention to her surroundings or her balance, and fell on her butt after a bit of half effort staggering. Lethe jumped off and onto the ground, hissing at the Ares son before licking her fur. "I didn't do anything..." she stated simply, staring at the tall, muscled, and armored kid in front of her. "There was a lot of room here. I'm not even on a path... how did you run into me?" She cocked her head for a second before pushing herself up and picking up her scythe, dusting off her white pajamas.
Now that she got a look at the guy, he looked a little rough, to put it nicely. Scarred, unkept, messy, smelly... "You should take a bath... you smell..."
Zestia sat there, watching over the mess hall while Jessica was still eating. There wasn't much noteworthy. People were coming in to eat, people were eating, people were done eating and left after putting the trays, dishes and appropriate utensils in their places. Although, there seemed to be some bickering at one of the tables, it wasn't a particularly loud one or a messy one. Zestia sometimes noticed those, but they usually got solved after a while, so she wouldn't need to interfere unless it got ugly, which this bickering didn't seem to be becoming.
She yawned, placing her hand over her mouth as she did. "Whenever you're ready, Jess." she said with a smile.
"What did you just say to me?" Leeroy snarled, stopping to glare at Ambrose. One hand automatically went to the hilt of his sheathed sword, curling around the handgrip. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't hospitalise you for a month, brat," he continued as he took a couple of steps closer, drawing his weapon as he did so.
"No-one insults an Ares camper and gets away with it," the brute added, the glare in his eyes taking on a hint of menace. There was no-one else around to hear anything: he lowered the point of his blade to Ambrose's forearm. One 'slip' of his hand could easily cut her, and Leeroy liked the idea of taking out even a small portion of his anger on the younger camper.
"Alright, alright... not everyone eats as fast as you do," Jessica answered Zestia, finishing the last of her breakfast. It wasn't bad this time around: a little more salt and pepper could have gone into it, though. The flavours weren't as strong without them, even with the hints the cheese brought with it.
"I'll just grab that for you," she added as she got up, collecting Zestia's plate and cutlery in addition to her own. Jess crossed the hall to one of the benches, where the campers who had already finished eating had placed their dishes, and added both hers and Zestia's to the small stacks. She returned to the Thanatos table, giving her friend another smile as she did so.
"Okay, so I'll just grab my knives and we'll get started. Whereabouts did you want to practice? The arena?" she asked.
She backed up a little. Damn. Just... *sigh*. "Oh... so you're one of the Ares kids... I guess it makes sense then." She gripped the handle of her scythe, but knew she wasn't fast enough to do anything if he decided to attack her. "Are you dense? I wasn't trying to insult you..." I need to pay more attention in sparring. "But I bet you're just going to hospitalize me anyway aren't you... Lethe."
The kitten seemed to know what to do, happily running away. Ambrose twisted the chain that held her pendant. There was no way he would hold still long enough for her to complete the ritual. Dear Father... please don't let me die here... she groaned.