Zestia giggled a little when Jessica said that not everyone eats as fast as she does. She waited until Jess got back from returning the dishes and such. "Yeah, the arena. I think it helps her focus a little better on being able to summon the skeletons, since it's a place of battle. I'll meet you there, then. Just need to grab my little sis and get us both battle ready. I need to keep up my training as well, of course."
She stood up from the table and went over to Hannah. "Hey there, little sis. Jess is going to help you learn how to summon your skeleton without a bone." Hannah felt a bit anxious. She wasn't used to fight against an opponent. "I'll meet you at the arena after I'm done here." Zestia, however, wasn't going to let her. "You're done now. I can see your plate is empty and all. You can talk to them later. It's not like they'll disappear. Besides, you know it's good for you." Hannah mumbled a bit. "I'll see you guys after training, then." Her friends didn't mind that she had to be dragged off to training, although they thought that Zestia could have worded it better. They didn't say anything, though, since they didn't want to go against her skeleton followers.
Hannah made her cheeks bigger by holding air in them. "It doesn't help you to act like that. You know you need it." Zestia said with a sisterly tone. Hannah just mumbled as they walked to the Thanatos cabin to get their equipment. Once inside, they started to change. Zestia put on her black armor, putting her sheathed sword on as well like one would put a belt on and picked up her shield. Her helmet she kept under one arm. Hannah had a similar armor, although it was a rather dark red instead of black like Zestia's. She also had a sword and shield much like Zestia, but as with her armor, the shield was dark red, but the sword was black like Zestia's. Both girls were ready and headed towards the arena.
Leeroy ignored Ambrose's comments, instead shoving her again with his free hand. This time he applied a lot more force than he had originally used. With his target sprawled in a heap on the grass, the scythe too unwieldy for her to use to defend herself, he drove a foot into her gut as she lay on her side, disregarding the cry of pain the kick caused.
The brute delivered another one with equal force before Ambrose tried to curl up to protect herself. It didn't work so well, as he had a clear shot at her head, on which he promptly capitalised with a third strike, planting his foot directly into her face. Ambrose squealed as blood exploded from her nose, trying to cover her head with her arms in response. A savage grin made its way onto Leeroy's face as he put his foot on her throat and began to apply a little pressure.
He wasn't going to kill the girl, far from it. It was just to show her what it meant to go up against him or his siblings.
"Alright, see you there," Jessica answered Zestia, giving her friend a smile before she left the mess hall to grab her weapons of choice. When she walked out of the hall, she noticed the suit of armour standing near the entrance... it had been frozen to the ground by two large blocks of ice encasing the construct's feet. Evidently someone hadn't liked being woken up by the owner. An amused smile on her face, she returned to the Aphrodite cabin, quietly slipping inside.
Jess found that while many of her siblings were still sleeping, a couple of the beds were empty; their owners were probably up and about. Whoever had brought someone over for the night was still behind their privacy curtain, thankfully. She didn't want to know what some of her half-sisters got up to behind the soundproof, opaque fog... though that wasn't to say that she herself was an angel. Jess had had a few boyfriends in the past, and was by no means inexperienced.
As she took her knives from the drawer in her nightstand, a related thought occurred to her. One of her half-sisters, near the same age as Jess, had once come to her for advice about sexuality. She had told her cabin leader that she had found out she was attracted to girls more than guys. A lot more so. Jess had assured her sibling that it was perfectly okay, and the camper later went on to find herself a steady girlfriend after she began attending college.
Jessica paused by her bed, having found herself wondering how it felt to be in that position: what it was like to be with another girl. Romantically. It was probably similar to dating guys, now that she thought about it, and she had plenty of experience in that field. She wasn't about to give up on men, though, since there were plenty of eligible bachelors around the camp.
Zestia had once told Jess that she was open with her sexuality... maybe she could talk to Zestia about it, just to get an idea. Buckling her sheathed daggers onto the belt of her skirt, she left the Aphrodite cabin and headed out to the arena.
As Gary ate, he felt a pair of arms slip around him from behind, and heard a giggle before familiar lips kissed his cheek. He smiled, saying, "Good morning to you too," as Mitsuko took a seat beside him. She was sitting a little closer to him than usual; this was a welcome change in Gary's view. "Nice to see you're up and about."
"Nice to see you saved me something," the Japanese girl replied with a grin, cheekily stealing Gary's cutlery and starting on the pancakes he hadn't eaten.
"Wha-? Hey! I got those for me... Oh, fine, carry on," Gary sighed, figuring she might as well since she was here and he had already eaten one of his stacks and started on the second. He took a moment to look around the hall: there were a few less people than earlier, and he could now see more people he recognised, including some of the camp staff and Hunter at their respective tables. He turned his attention back to his girlfriend. "Is Anny up and about yet?"
"Nope. Hasn't stirred," Mitsuko answered, her attention more focused on the food than Gary's question.
It took surprisingly little time for Kate to eat her way through her small feast. Having foregone meals for the last few days, she was ravenous and ate like a starving man. She exited the mess hall a brief time after entering it, still chewing on pancake, and began to examine her armor.
"Whatsh' fuck." She glared at the ice blocks over the footpieces of her suit. Swear to God, this camp is full of jackasses... She swallowed and stomped on the ice blocks several times until they were reasonably broken up then opened the suit and stepped inside, beginning the powerup sequence. A few twists of the feet and rapping them together dealt with most of the rest of the ice. Irritating, though.
She'd need to take it back over to the forgeworks until she had an opportunity to combat test it, plus she wanted to make a further analysis of the effects of cold on it, not that she expected much. She sealed up the helmet, chuckling to herself over a private joke, then began walking across the camp towards the forge.
Halfway there though, she saw a fight going on - if you could call it that, one of the burly Ares assholes beating up one of the younger camp kids. Typical. Normally it was Kate's policy to avoid these things - she wasn't strong enough to fight them and it seemed like nobody really cared enough to help except the occasional other camp kid.
Except now you are strong.
Kate hmmed to herself for a moment and started moving in the direction. This is a bad idea this is a bad idea the armor isn't battle-tested...
Then the Ares began pressing on the other kid's throat. Kate began running. As she came into earshot, she yelled "Get off her, asshole!" At the top of her lungs, amplified by the metallic reverberation. She hoped she sounded intimidating and maybe even a little deific, but she suspected she sounded more like a scared, pissed-off kid wearing a pot on her head.
Just back off. Please just back off.
I knew today was going to be one of those days... Ambrose thought glumly. She had some preservation instincts and training, but there was really no for her to defend herself against the Ares boy. She found herself choking on her blood as she tried to breathe: her nose was bleeding quite happily and backing up her nose and mouth. Pale hands wormed under Leeroy's foot and she tried to at least keep him from totally crushing her throat. Stupid cat, waking me up, making me go outside... Her weapon was too far, right out of her reach, but she wasn't going to risk letting go of his foot just yet. Come on, think! What happened last time I sparred! As the oxygen in her head thinned she found herself thinking more clearly. She knew she wouldn't be able to completely hypnotize him, but watching her pendant for a few seconds would take the edge off of him. Now if... only I could... reach it...
The ringing in her ears effectively masked Kate's arrival. She was too focused on getting out decently alive.
It took a complete circle of the main table to properly fill Javier's plate with an second round of breakfast. Though the circle was just to fill the five minutes of wait time required to get fresh pancakes. Because when given the option, one should always go for fresh food. As he eyed the three-high stack Javier had to admit the wait was worth it. Now all he had to do was find an non-empty syrup bottle. 'Good luck to me.' he thought with a brief grin.
Javier walked carefully to a table dedicated to Hermes, noting some people he recognized and a few that he did not. There was an often an overflow problem due to people simply sitting down wherever there was room. That combined with the fluctuating size of the Hermes cabin meant that they had gained some 'unofficial' tables over the years.
"Good morning." Javier greeted Hunter as he sat down. "How is your shoulder?" he asked while quickly scanning the table for rogue syrup bottles.
Hunter had sat quietly a bit distanced off from the other awake members of the Hermes cabin while he ate. As he swallowed the last bite of the omelet Javier, the Hermes Cabin leader, sat down at the table with him. "Good morning to you as well." Hunter replied in his usual quiet tone. "Amanda said that today's the last day I'll need a sling and she'll give me an update on my limitations for the shoulder when I visit her later today. In saying so, that also means that I'll have to start my punishment today as well. I'm not exactly looking forward to what I'll find hidden away in some odd of corner." Hunter stated sheepishly at the distasteful thought of cleaning the very occupied cabin before, removed a half full bottle of syrup he was hiding in his sling and poured some onto his pancakes.
Noting Javier's current scanning of the tables Hunter slid the bottle over to him. "Sorry, I learned to hide such things from sight if you actually want any. I guess that lesson still holds true here though. What are your plans for today?" Hunter asked although , he wasn't really interested in knowing but figured it was a polite thing to do.
Alexandros finished eating and decided he may as well head to the amphitheater before he was called upon for any kind of training. He got up and began his walk to the theater, once there he sat down in the seats and looked over the stage. A small group was practicing and he decided he may as well watch. In the week he had come to be an accepted member there, especially after he had shown his power to them. Now he was almost a staple of the place.
Mitsuko had finished eating Gary's food and looked at him for more. "What? I haven't eaten since... last night." she giggled and cuddled up to him. "So how are you this morning Gary?" she asked resting her head on his shoulder. "Oh by the way what was going on with the suit of armor?"
Breakfast went quickly for Brandon. Once he had an amount of meat satisfactory for a Texas-sized breakfast, he made fast work of it, washing the whole tray of food down with a glass of OJ and some coffee in no time. He was trained to eat big early in the day in preparation for a long day on the gridiron, and he kept to his regimen at the camp. Once the last piece of bacon was consumed, he left his tray on the table and departed for the home cabin. Brandon was intent on getting some heavy workouts in today.
He made the short walk back to the cabins, but something caught his eye down by the lake. There appeared to be a growing crowd, a large metal suit was visible as well. "Ah hell, what is this now?" As he got closer he could see that idiot Leeroy down there, and he had someone on the ground. "Oh for fucks sake!" He took off in a dead sprint for the lake, arriving there with bolt-like speed before launching into a modified spear tackle. Too busy with his intimidation tactics, Leeroy didn't see the Ares head counsellor coming and Brandon crunched into him, driving his body into the rocks surrounding the lake with a thud.
Brandon got on his knees and kept Leeroy pinned to the ground. "You stupid mother-humpin' bastard Leeroy!" He looked over and saw the target, one of the younger girls, looked like one of the sleepers. "Shit, you serious? You goin' after one of them narcos from down the way! What the fuck is wrong with you! We got enough people breathin' down our necks without you goin' and curb-stompin' every random person you feel like! Now first, you know god damn well I ain't taking the fuckin' heat for you on this one, so you best be gettin' your story straight once they're asking ya questions. Second, if for some reason you're still in here after this, if I see you pullin' the same kind of shit again, I won't wait for no damn tribunal. I'll drag your sorry ass out to the woods, shoot out your kneecaps and leave ya for the dogs to find! You fuckin' hearing me Leeroy! You fuck up one more time, you're a fuckin' dead kid! Is that fuckin' understood?" Brandon was getting right in his face by the end of it. He did not need to have any talks with the head honchos over a campers behavior. He was on the receiving end during first year when he was still young and he took out an Apollo camper who was getting in his face. That lead to a talking to in the head office and then Chisako really let him have it at the cabin for dragging her into that. That's why he was taking such a stand now.
Narcos?... Ambrose spit out the red metallic stuff in her mouth, getting a lot of it on her nightie. She looked at the strange metal golem standing near her. I'm glad I didn't get hit with -that- Hopefully it was on her side.
"Di Immortales! Ambrose!" A tall, slim girl pushed through the crowd, kneeling next to her. "What the the hell happened here!" Lethe bounced out behind her, still in a relatively happy mood. She had gone back to the Hypnos cabin and retrieved Ling-Lei, one of the lighter sleepers who happened to be awake at the time.
"Ngh... Ich fine Ling-Li..." Ambrose sat up, holding her nose and coughing. Hopefully it wouldn't be broken. She noticed that a crowd of campers were standing around, some starting to run off so they wouldn't get in trouble and since the fight had pretty much stopped. The kitten, seemingly oblivious to the fact that her owner was bleeding, started demanding attention from her.
"Lith, you tuk k'nda lung get'n here..."
"Nuh-uh, you don get a treath!"
"No you're not okay! Brandon!" Ling-Lei wasn't the head of her cabin, but she was the most well-known and sociable of them. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't take that asshole and make sure he doesn't get a single ounce of sleep for a week!" Where Ambrose was more skilled at putting her victims to sleep, Ling-Lei and her twin were known for depriving it. "Fatigue starting immediately, hallucinations in 5 days, paranoia, mood swings, manic episodes, I can't even fathom what kind of trouble that'll cause in a cabin like yours."
Once Zestia and Hannah reached the arena, they had to wait for Jessica to arrive and went inside to wait, walking down to the sandy ring in the middle of it to wait there. Zestia started going over what Hannah needed to do and what she'd done before. "Now, we both know you're fairly good with a bone. And two skeleton followers isn't all that bad after, what has it been, two years?" Hannah nodded in agreement. "Yes, two years, big sis." Zestia chuckled a little when Hannah called her big sis. "Two years and two skeletons. But you still don't have the hang of summoning one without a bone. You've been practicing now for a while. It all just takes time. Maybe if you're in a situation where you really need your powers in a pinch you'll be able to summon one without, but I doubt it. You need to focus." Hannah nodded.
"Now then." Zestia took out her bone and summoned two skeleton followers of her own. "I'm not going to send them after you right now, but should you be able to summon one on your own, they'll fight it along with Jessica. I want you to start concentrating now before she comes." Hannah closed her eyes and stood still with her hands in front of her in a half circle over her stomach, focusing as she could on summoning a skeleton. It usually required a lot of mental willpower, something Zestia had gotten plenty of after her own training. Hannah had some as well, but not enough to summon a skeleton on her own. She focused as she could, but no skeleton. She would of course continue to focus. It wouldn't do to be impatient while attempting to use your power. The children of Thanatos were a bit lucky with that they only had one power to focus on, though of course there were many from the other cabins that could control their multiple powers, the ones that had multiple, with a bit of ease.
"You know what Ling?" Brandon asked rhetorically, still not letting Leeroy get off the ground. "Maybe you should just do him up the opposite! Maybe then I'd get some fuckin' stress relief if this asshole was shut down for a week! Cause I swear he does one more thing I'm running him through the got dang flagpole!"
Leeroy began to struggle and Brandon delivered a solid right to his jaw. With the sheer strength behind the punch Leeroy was knocked out cold. Satisfied, Brandon got up off the subordinate. "You fuckin' think I can watch this jackass twenty-four seven? I didn't know he was gonna be that got dang stupid to jump a girl like that! Ya'll want to get him back, ya'll can be my guest!"
"It was one of the Hephaestus kids, I think," Gary answered Mitsuko. "Always banging on about their crazy inventions... I showed them just what I thought of them waking us up. Froze the suit to the ground." A small smile crossed his face momentarily at the gesture, meant more as a warning than any real action to hinder the suit's operation.
"As to how I am this morning... I'm all right. It was certainly a nice change waking up with you beside me," Gary said quietly, giving her a quick kiss. Again a feeling of happiness flooded his thoughts; just one brush of her lips against his made him want to forget about the rest of the world. But he pulled away soon after kissing her, restraining himself: they were in a public place, not the secluded darkness of the Nyx cabin. Some people frowned on public displays of affection.
Jessica crossed the courtyard, heading straight for the arena, and spotted Zestia and another girl, presumably Hannah, descending the stone steps. Jess slowed her pace a little, wanting to observe for a little while before she joined the two of them.
Zestia appeared to be more than competent in the field of summoning: from a single bone anchor, her minions even had weapons, and showed no sign of disobedience. She had even displayed the ability to control one without an anchor. Her half-sister, however, showed much less ability in that regard as far as the Aphrodite girl could see. Jessica descended the stone steps and entered the ring, careful not to get too much sand on her skirt, and crossed to Zestia's side. She lightly poked her friend's shoulder to get her attention, drawing one of her knives with the other hand. "Hey," she said jovially, giving Zestia another smile.
Zestia turned her head towards Jessica and smiled. "Hey there." she said in a low voice. "I'm just trying to get Hannah to concentrate right now." She pointed towards the focused Hannah, who was using all the willpower she could muster to try and summon one skeleton follower. After watching her for a few more minutes, Zestia walked over to her and placed her hand on Hannah's shoulder. "That's enough for the moment. Wouldn't want steam to come from your ears from focusing too much." Both sisters giggled as Hannah opened her eyes and noticed Jessica behind Zestia. She waved towards her. "Hi there."
"Right. Since you're here, Jess." Zestia turned so she had each girl by each of her sides. "I would like it if you could give Hannah a bit of combat. Hannah, you did remember to bring your bone, didn't you?" She looked at Hannah with a kind of strict look. Hannah nodded. "Of course." Hannah fetched her own bone from a kind of outside pocket that was specifically made for the children of Thanatos to protect their bones from becoming too damaged or to prevent them from being lost. Even if another bone could be gotten and really, just about any bone would do, most Thanatos children tended to stick with only one if they possibly could.
"That's good. Summon your skeletons." Hannah did as Zestia told her and summoned her skeletons. They seemed to appear out of the ground with the appropriate sounds of a moving skeleton. They weren't as well armed or armored as Zestia's, having rusty swords and no shield. "Perhaps only one will do right now. I was thinking it'd be good for you to practice giving orders to your skeleton followers using only them in combat." Zestia said. "R-right." Hannah said with a nervous laughter and unsummoned one skeleton. It disappeared back into the ground. With one skeleton, it'd be easier for Hannah to control it than two. "I'm ready." she said. Zestia smiled and turned back to Jess. "What about you?"
"I don't do hypnosis." Ling helped Ambrose up. "I'm taking her to the infirmary. If he's lucky I'll just give him a swirlie in the Lethe fountain in our cabin." Ling, Ambrose, and Lethe the kitten turned away from the lake, walking through the middle area of the cabins.
There was silence for a while, cut only by Ambrose's sniffles and snorts. "C'mon Rosey..."
"Ah dun like dat name."
"Fine. Ambrose. What happened? I know you don't practice a lot, but you could have gotten out of that."
"Ah jus wanna go back tuh bed."
"Look, the rest of us already have a lot of practice. You're the most inexperienced of all of us... you need to practice your hypnosis more. Practice."
One moment Kate was getting ready to find out if her Corinthian Armor was as much as she hoped or if it needed 'further refinements' (Such refinements including reactive armor plating, shoulder-mounted stinger missile launchers, a wrist-mounted 7.62mm gatling gun, and an elbow-mounted automatic grenade launcher) and the next some jock in a jersey came flying out of nowhere and beat the everloving crap out of him.
"If discipline doesn't teach him a lesson, perhaps you should consider humbling him." She popped the helmet, allowing Brandon to see her properly. She stepped forward, the effect looking rather silly with her comparatively tiny head inside the huge body. "I'd bet if you asked, the Hecates would be happy to slip a potion into his food that'd weaken him for a while. Maybe make him use a wheelchair for a month or two. See how he likes being one of the ones picked on." She shrugged. Her suggestion might get a violent reaction from him - he was an Ares, and the cabins tended to look after their own.
She held out her hand, still encased in Celestial Bronze. "Kate Mulciber, Hephaestus Cabin. Thanks for coming to my rescue. This suit's not ready for combat."
Brandon knew he shouldn't have been surprised to see a girl in the giant suit of armor, but still, the sight of that head coming out of that mass of metal was a bit weird. Like seeing a gopher popping out of a giant mountain of mud.
"Weren't nothin'," he told Kate as he shook the metal-encased hand. He was careful not to squeeze it too hard. No need to send this girl back to the forge this early there. "Though I can't be havin' him wanderin' around in a wheelchair, we ain't got the ramps for it, and I ain't luggin' his ass up the steps every got dang time. Maybe I'll get one of the necros there to zombie him up for a while. Might actually get some cleanin' done." He looked over at the still unconscious Leeroy. "Hell, I'mma still probably have to drag him back to the cabin. Maybe I'll just chuck him up there, let him take another rough landing."
Jessica turned to face Hannah's skeleton, suppressing a shudder as she drew her second knife; undead fighters always scared her a little, even if she was just watching a fight. In fact, the entire deal with children of Thanatos and Hades scared her a bit: she had heard that they could communicate with the spirits of dead people from the Underworld, and that just didn't seem right.
The blade in her left hand she held backhanded, extending her arm out to parry the skeleton's sword, while she kept her other hand tucked in a little to lash out when needed. She bounced on the balls of her feet a little, looking to Zestia to start the fight. "Let's go," was all she said, turning her eyes back to the skeleton's macabre grin.
Jess realised too late that while she had been back at her cabin, she should have changed from her skirt into a pair of pants, which were considerably less likely to get in the way during a fight. Still, she couldn't always fight on her terms. Such was life, and she made do with what she had rather than wishing for the perfect scenario.
Since the fighting was over, the crowd around Brandon and Kate dissipated; people either went back to breakfast, or returned to their cabins to continue their snoozing. A quartet of hooves, moving at a fast pace by the sound of them, could be heard not too far off. Their source was soon visible: Chiron in full centaur form, wearing a quiver over a half-buttoned shirt and carrying a longbow in one hand. He was heading straight for Brandon, Kate and the unconscious Leeroy: presumably he had come from his office.
"I've just received word of a fight breaking out, something about Leeroy beating up one of the younger girls," the camp director explained. "What happened, exactly? Where is the girl now?"
The sounds of hooves was anything but music to Brandon's ears. The head honcho was coming, and he still had an unconscious idiot on the lakeside. "Shit," he quietly cursed to himself as Chiron came galloping up to him and the forge girl.
"I've just received word of a fight breaking out, something about Leeroy beating up one of the younger girls. What happened, exactly? Where is the girl now?"
"Shoot, yeah," Brandon started to explain. "The idjit over there started whalin' on one of them sleeper girls. I got here too late ta see how it started, but I put him down to stop him before he did some real damage. The rest of the sleepers came and scooped up their girl. I'm guessin' they took her back to their cabin there."
Zestia nodded, looked towards Hannah, nodded to her who nodded back. Zestia stepped back and sat down on the lowest stone steps of the arena. "Fight!" She hadn't let go of the word sooner than Hannah had the skeleton attack Jessica with a raised sword. She hadn't spoken a word, so the skeleton looked like it was acting on its own, but really, Hannah was giving it orders telepathically through the bone she held in her hand. Her training required that she be prepared to be attacked herself, so she kept a steady hand on the sheath of her sword, even if Jessica wasn't planning on attacking her.
Mitsuko giggles and nodded a faint blush running across her cheek. "I enjoyed sleeping next to you ask well dear," she said placing a hand softly in his a chill running up her back at his touch. It would take time for her to get use to being with someone again. After she joined Camp Half Blood she became even more shy then she was before.
Gary's touch was like pure happiness to her, a happiness she had never felt before and one she didn't mind feeling. "So what do you feel like doing today?" she asked still blushing.
"Nothing's broken, and I think you've gotten off pretty good compared to most kids that come in here after getting into a fight with an Ares kid." Ambrose was sitting in the infirmary with Ling-Lei, getting looked over by one of the Apollo campers who was there. "Nothing a little ambrosia won't fix... if you want it of course."
She watched as he measured out a small dose of the ambrosia, trying to keep Lethe on the floor. One time the kitten had tried to steal some, and ended up knocking it to the floor. There weren't too many things that made her worried, but her tiny companion suddenly erupting in a fireball was one of them. "'Jus a tase' wull get you kill'd!" she scolded, sticking the spoon in her mouth as quickly as she could.
A flood of memories: sitting in front of a grandfather clock and mimicking the pendulum with a pendant, waking up in a large bed with gray linen, her aunt's voice fading in and out... it was funny what a single taste could bring up. It tasted like stew to her. Beef stew, to be exact. It went down as fast as she could swallow. I just want to go to bed again. That's all. She hated thinking about her life before the camp, and sleeping was the best way she knew to avoid that.
Chiron thought over Brandon's explanation, taking a few seconds to come to a decision. "I see... This cannot go unpunished, especially since children of Hypnos don't usually stand up against the more... violent, shall we say, cabins. Have Leeroy brought to my office for questioning, and send someone to watch him and make sure he doesn't wreck the place when he wakes up. Shane should be able to cover it, since you have the rest of the cabin to consider. You should also bring someone who can quickly immobilise Leeroy, should he prove too much to handle," he added, turning to Kate. He easily recognised her without her helmet on.
"Ms. Mulciber... I could hear your armoured suit crashing through the courtyard earlier, even from my office. Perhaps it would be best if you curbed your enthusiasm in the future, so as not to cause too much of a disturbance. That is all I'll say on the matter for now. I shall see to the injured girl and make sure she's alright." The centaur gave each of Brandon and Kate a short nod before he turned and galloped off, heading for the cabins to check and see if the wounded had returned to the Hypnos cabin.
Jessica barely dodged the skeleton's first strike: Hannah had evidently been waiting for Zestia to give the word, given the younger girl's reaction speed. Her skeleton was fast, much faster than most people Jess had fought in the past... though its sword was rusted and notched, and it didn't have much to defend itself.
Always get up close to your opponent if you have the shorter weapon, Jess remembered as she parried another swing with both of her knives. While the skeleton was off-balance, she stepped closer to prevent it from using its blade to full effect. She blatantly telegraphed her attack to allow Hannah to react, and so when her knife should have met bone the skeleton simply sidestepped, delivering a quick, sharp punch to Jess's stomach as it did so.
Jessica had expected a counter-attack, given the telegraphing of her attack, but the pain of the blow still surprised her. She staggered backwards a few steps, now off-balance herself. That punch had hurt, since she wasn't wearing armour... and undead fighters didn't feel pain.
A small smile tugged at the corner of Gary's mouth as he noticed his girlfriend blushing. She was always so cute when she blushed or stammered. "Well... I do have to set a fair bit of time aside to give Hunter some more training," he answered Mitsuko, shooting a quick look over at the Hermes table. Hunter and Javier were talking about something; even with the injuries he had sustained, the younger camper was showing considerable proficiency in ice magic.
"Apart from that... well, we could spend some time alone. Or I could help out with training Anny... or maybe we could see if there are any missions available, and possibly sign up for one." There were notice boards around the camp detailing any missions the Directors needed to be completed: there was one at the Directors' offices, as well as one near each of the cabins, the armoury and the garage. Each of them was enchanted to synchronise with the others: if someone registered interest at one board, they all updated to reflect this. It was kind of like a website on the internet, only magical.
Anyone could sign up for a mission, even the newer campers if they thought they could handle it, but three people were usually chosen to go. Trios were most often composed of at least one senior camper or cabin leader who could steer the younger ones or the inexperienced in the right direction, and hold their own in a fight. Sometimes the missions were routine jobs, like stealing an Apple of the Hesperides or killing a unique monster such as the Minotaur. Others... not so much. Gary liked the idea of going on a more complex mission rather than a simple hit on a monster, but he had never done one himself.
"Yes, sir. I'm sorry, sir. It won't happen again." She shuffled her feet sheepishly, a rather comical effect given the hulking armor. As the centaur left, she muttered to herself. "That's a magnificent achievement, I've never seen anything like it. May I ask you about the particulars of it's construction, Ms. Mulciber?" She shook her head. "I pull together a marvel of magic and technology and all I get is 'You dang kid, stop disturbing my sleep!'" She trailed off, realizing that there was still someone there. "Erm. Sorry."
She started to lower the helmet back into place, turning back to Brandon before she did. "Thanks again." She started heading back to the Forgeworks to put the armor into storage until later today when she'd take it out to test it.
While there was no other available expression from the skeleton but a cold grin, Hannah winced a little when the skeleton hit Jessica's stomach. She couldn't let it get to her, though, as she kept ordering the skeleton, which followed every of them even if there were occasional slight delays. The skeleton lifted the sword up with both arms to deliver an overhead blow with it. Still off-balance, Jessica could only attempt to get out of the sword's intended path, rather than try to block the swing. The skeleton flung forwards with the sword, hitting the ground due to the strength it put into the swing. It lifted the sword from the ground and dashed towards Jessica with the sword raised in one hand. By the time the skeleton had raised its weapon, Jess had regained her footing, and she met the oncoming skeleton with her blades raised. She deflected the first blow with one of her knives and severed the skeleton's empty hand with the other. She then telegraphed her next attack in case Hannah didn't see it coming.
Hannah did see it coming and commanded the skeleton to retreat, which it did, backing away with its sword in one hand. Zestia then stood up and called to the two girls. "Stop for a moment now. Hannah, unsummon your skeleton." Hannah did so and the skeleton seemed to disappear into the sand, however it wasn't there anymore at all. "It does need some work, but good job nonetheless." Zestia said to her sister, placing a hand on her shoulder and smiling towards her. Hannah smiled back and nodded. "I do try my best." she said. "I know you do." Zestia replied, then turned to Jessica. "Are you alright? You took quite the punch back there."
"Yeah, don't mention it," Brandon said as the girl clanked off away from the unconscious body that laid on the ground. "Son of a bitch, I ain't draggin' this lump over to the damn office." Brandon picked up Leeroy's body and draped it over his shoulder, a relatively easy task with his strength. It was a short distance to the cabin, but Brandon still didn't relish the task. As he arrived at the Are cabin, he dumped Leeroy on the steps outside before heading in.
"Shane!" he called out, "Know you're in here! You gotta take that damn Leeroy off to tha head offices there! He done fucked up and you're the only one I can trust to make sure he don't do anythin' else stupid once he gets there!"
Javier nodded his thanks for the syrup before pouring a generous amount over his pancakes.
"Glad to hear you're doing better." he told Hunter. Syrup slowly slid over his pancakes before pooling at the bottom of his plate. Javier used his fork to guide the liquid sugar away from the plate's edge.
"The usual today," Javier speared a forkful of food before continuing, "Training, Greek lessons, an hour at the pool. No sparring though. Ea had something else to do." Javier frowned briefly then took a bite. 'Unless I can find a temporary partner. Maybe there's someone else available...' He just had to find the right idle camper who could match his skill. And was interested in some practice. Or he could always assist with the beginner lessons again...
"Cleaning the cabin shouldn't be too bad." Despite Hunter's lack of enthusiasm for the task Javier was somewhat glad that was the boy's assigned punishment. "Watch for traps under the beds." He slid the syrup bottle, now properly closed, back toward Hunter.
Jessica had one hand over her stomach, and she was breathing considerably harder than she had been before the fight had begun, but she was otherwise okay. "I... I'll be okay, in a while," she answered Zestia haltingly, bent over a tiny bit and trying to regulate her breathing. She looked to Hannah, giving the younger girl a smile. "That was a clever move, sucker-punching me like that. Nicely done," she complimented her opponent.
It had been a hard fight: even though Jess had the advantage in terms of weapon quality and flexibility, the skeleton must have been able to instantaneously react to Hannah's commands.
"Alright, fine..." Shane groaned as he half-climbed, half-fell out of bed. Dressed only in the pants he had been wearing, he got to his feet, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, and looked to the open door of the Ares cabin. Brandon stood there, the comatose Leeroy on the doorstep behind him.
"Aw, shit. I'm not moving that lump by myself," he mumbled as he pulled on a shirt and threaded a belt into his pants. Attaching his sword's scabbard to the belt, he headed over to the door of the cabin, ignoring his tousled hair. "I'm gonna go grab Kat. Don't wanna carry the weight on my own," he explained as he edged past Brandon, stepping over one of Leeroy's legs as he did so.
Chiron entered the infirmary, ducking under the low doorway as he did so. Being a centaur, doorways tended to be more suited for human-sized people unlike himself. He quickly spotted the most recently admitted patient, a young girl with a white kitten on her lap and two other campers sitting with her. Chiron crossed the room to stand at the foot of her bed.
The Apollo camper stood up abruptly at the sight of the camp director, giving him a short bow in greeting. "Master Chiron! I trust you heard of what happened here?"
"I heard a... rough description, shall we say, from Brandon," he answered, turning his attention to the injured girl. The Hypnos campers spent most of their time in the seclusion of their own cabin, sleeping through the days and nights: it wasn't often Chiron got to speak with them. "Tell me what happened: I'd like to hear a proper account of what took place. if, of course, you are okay with talking about it."
Hunter stopped the bottle as it slid back in front of him and left it sitting in the middle of the table. He continued to eat his pancakes in his own personal silence while thinking over Javier's last comment. People setting up traps wasn't unfamiliar to him, but considering the nature of the camp itself, had him a bit more worried about what types were set up.
After finishing his pancakes Hunter take a breath before turning back to Javier. "Thanks for the heads up. I wouldn't want to end up in the Infirmary, again, so soon." Hunter said in a mildly worried tone, before leaving the table. After putting his dishes on the counter to be cleaned he silently left the Mess Hall and returned to the Hermes Cabin.
Having had planned to go to the Infirmary after eating, but now wanting to put more time between then; Hunter decided to stop and retrieve his sword from his bunk. Not completely sure about what Amanda was going to say, Hunter wanted to be prepared in case he was cleared, and forced to take part in combat training. Although that was more of a time wasting justification, as he promptly left the cabin and took the longer path that headed to the Arts and Crafts Hall; before following it to the Infirmary.
Once he arrived Hunter was reluctant to enter. He still wasn't used to the full atmosphere of this camp, and his injury was the only thing that provided some relief from the aspects he didn't exactly like. After taking a deep breath he entered the building and silently walked through it. The sight of Chiron talking to a girl around his age with a clearly broken nose was disheartening, as he approached the back of the Infirmary in order to find Amanda.
"I'm fine." Ambrose said bluntly, cleaning the blood from her face. "Ambee!" The way Ling-Lei made up nicknames for her made her cringe. She was aware that 'Ambrose' wasn't the most feminine name out there, but the way the other camper said it made it sound like a pet name or something.
"Sorry Master Chiron. She hasn't been feeling well lately." Ling poked her in the ribs. "Come on, be nice."
"He's gonna make me practice some more. You know I hate fighting." Ambrose whispered back.
"Gods know you could use the practice." The girl cleared her throat. "Master Chiron, the Ares camper Leeroy just picked a fight with Rosey. She says he looked for an excuse to attack her." She left out the part where she had vowed vengeance on Leeroy, but Ambrose just nodded, agreeing to what Ling said.
Lethe hopped to the floor, walking around Chiron's legs. She occasionally batted at his tail, amusing herself by prancing around his hooves.
Brandon shook his head at Shane's reluctance to carry Leeroy alone. "Dang Shane? Ya lose your balls that fast you're needin' the new girl ta help ya carry that sack of shit?"
Brandon went into the private room that the counsellors were afforded in each cabin, and changed into some running gear and grab his iPod. Even in the off-season and with this God-given body, he still wanted to make sure he was in shape enough to beat anybody foolish enough to try and tackle him. He emerged to see Shane gone and Leeroy still on the floor..
"Dang it Shane if I get back from this run and Leeroy's ass ain't off my doorstep, you're goin' to be joinin' him in dreamland." He took off towards the beach, a couple laps of the stretch of the Long Island coast that belonged to the camp were usually good enough to satisfy his daily workout needs. I need this dang run. Calm me down, damn Leeroy muckin' everythin' up.
Hannah smiled back. "You did well too. I don't think I'd be able to fight much after a punch to the stomach. From a skeleton, too." She walked over to Jessica and Zestia, taking her hand off her sheathed sword. The sun did make it so that she felt like taking her armor off, but she didn't in case Zestia had more training for her to do.
Zestia sat back down on the stone steps, patting beside each side of her. "I think we should sit down for a bit while Jessica regains her strength." She didn't want her friend to get hurt more, and there wasn't much point if she got more hurt. Hannah agreed and sat down beside her sister even though she wasn't all that tired. That wasn't a surprise, though, seeing as she didn't do much besides standing and giving orders to the skeleton telepathically.
"However." Zestia said, aiming her words towards Hannah. "Even if we're taking a break, you should still work on summoning a skeleton without your bone. Hand it over to me for the moment." She reached out her hand and held it like that with an open palm. Hannah reluctantly reached for it and handed it over to Zestia, then sat up straight, closed her eyes and focused her mind. It would take her some time just to focus well enough to start trying to summon one.
Mitsuko thought for a bit then smiled. "I like the idea of selecting a mission then spending some time alone with you. I hope there's something better on there then slaying a hydra. That was a nightmare." Mitsuko sighed then decided to get some food for herself. "I'll be right back. I should get some food of my own and not steal all of it from you." she said getting up.
She picked up some bacon and eggs and decided a Belgium waffle was in order. "I think some blueberries with whip cream could be good." Mitsuko said filling up her plate before getting a glass of juice. "I love the food here." she said walking back to Gary.
"Now that I have my food you can't steal any of it. It's a rule I just made up." she said wearing her serious face.
As Zestia and Hannah practised on their own, Jessica gladly took a moment's reprieve. She sat down on one of the stone steps, and laid down on her back after a few seconds in the hope that it helped her to recover. That punch had hurt a lot... she figured it was going to leave a fist-sized bruise. A wry smile played with her mouth for a second as a part of her thought that it wasn't going to go well with her clothing.
Jess could feel the initial shock fading as she lay there, her head turned to watch Zestia and Hannah at work. She knew Thanatos's children normally needed a bone to use to summon their skeletons, but Zestia was able to do it without one on hand. It looked like a difficult process to Jessica, but it was probably easy for the Thanatos kids.
Chiron gave the kitten, Lethe, a short look of amusement before he picked her up and set her on the bed at Ambrose's feet, scratching her absent-mindedly behind the ear to try to keep her still. He then turned his attention back to the matter at hand. "I see. So it was a nigh unprovoked attack. As you know, we do not tolerate campers taking out their frustrations or pent-up energy on their fellows, no matter the victim... though in your case, Ambrose, I feel that this is more serious an offence given the age difference between you. The other members of staff will be informed, and judgement delivered before the full board of directors." A full council of the camp staff had not been held for a bullying charge in quite some time.
"However, Ambrose... once you have recovered, we need to ensure that you are able to defend yourself from people like Leeroy in the future," Chiron continued, turning to the injured girl's half-sister. "Ling-Lei, do you know much about Ambrose's training? Could she stand up to an opponent of her age?"
The door to the back of the infirmary was wide open, revealing Amanda sitting at her desk and reading a medical textbook. At the sound of footsteps behind her, she looked up from the book and turned to find Hunter walking in. She gave the young boy a casual smile as he approached.
"Ah, Hunter, good to see you. Let's have a look at that arm of yours," she said brightly as she got up. "Have there been any major changes since I last saw you? Anything unusual at all?"
Gary put on an expression of mock shock at Mitsuko's 'rule'. "Well, if you want to play it that way, Mitsuko, then I'll leave you to it. Got to take care of a few things before it gets too late in the day. Meet at the noticeboard later?" he suggested. When Mitsuko agreed he gave her a last quick peck on the cheek before getting up and leaving the mess hall. Once outside, he made his way back to the Hecate cabin. He needed a shower and a fresh set of clothes... and his staff from where he'd left it in the Nyx cabin.
After a small detour to collect his preferred weapon, Gary entered the Hecate cabin to find that many of his siblings were already up and about. A couple of guys using dice - enchanted to be immune to magical influence to prevent either person cheating - to gamble for drachmas and dollars in equal measure, looked up to find their elder sibling had returned. "Hey, big guy! So, didja nail her yet?" one of them asked.
Gary sighed to himself at this inevitability. A few of his siblings had taken to bugging him about his relationship with Mitsuko: they always wanted details about what happened between the two of them. The ice mage responded to the gambler's question with nothing but a look before he passed them by to grab a fresh set of clothes from one of his suitcases.
"Luc, Des, you know not to bug Gary for the inside scoop. What he gets up to with Mitsuko is their business, and not for you to know," the authoritative voice of Abbi Smith, the cabin leader, was the last thing Gary heard before he slipped into the bathroom at the back of the cabin and locked the door behind himself, heading for the shower soon after.
"Always an entertaining sight, am I right?" the voice of Alexandros's half-sister Lily asked jovially as the girl in question took a seat beside her younger sibling. "I'm surprised sometimes, by the talent of some of the other campers. They could make fairly good actors with the right coaching... but, of course, we'd do a better job of any role, courtesy of our father's preference of domain. Imagine a contest of some kind..." She gave a small laugh at the idea of comparing aspiring actors with the natural skill of Dionysus' children.
Hannah stayed focused while Zestia looked over her. Half an hour or so later, when Zestia was sure Hannah could use a break from concentrating, a skeleton head popped out of the sand. It made Zestia raise an eyebrow. Soon after, a whole skeleton appeared. Zestia looked around. No sign of Johnathan messing with their training again, and she knew she wasn't summoning the skeleton. That meant...
"Congratulations, Hannah!" Zestia said happily. Hannah opened her eyes and the skeleton sunk into the sand again, but not before Hannah saw it. A smile formed across her lips, and a wide one at that. "I did it! I did it!" she said excitingly. She went and hugged her older sister, who hugged her back. "That was very good, Hannah." When Hannah let go of her, Zestia reached for Hannah's bone again and handed it over to her. "Here you go. You can have it again." Hannah happily took the bone back. She was happy now that she'd been able to summon a skeleton without a bone, if only for a short while and was only there while she stayed focused.
"Your training is obviously not done, but for now, I think a bit more combat wouldn't hurt. Unless Jessica isn't feeling up to it." Zestia said as she turned towards her friend.