Demigods : Version 3.0 { Closed, Started }

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The last of the harpies shrieked in defeat and anger as they disappeared into the concrete horizon that was New York. Through the Veil they looked like pigeons. A lot of the city's pigeons were just that though, the gray rats of the sky. Ambrose spun around and let out a sharp whistle. Lethe tumbled out of the underbrush as the girl approached Gabriel and the dying Willow. Everything was so muted now, and time itself seemed to have stopped. The ash falling like snow was the only movement besides the Harvestchild's shaking. Ambrose looked at the sky, her thick lashes catching the monster dust. She bet the dryad would dissolve soon too...

Lethe licked Ambrose's ankle, meowing to be picked up. Ambrose picked a feather out of the kitten's mouth, placing her on her shoulder. Both bore minor scuffs from their scuffle, but neither were seriously hurt. Ambrose had scratches on her face, arms, and knees. And a few bruises. But she was alive, she guessed, and she had this guy to thank for it. Just not now. Or ever. Cause what use was a thanks by the time he calmed down. She decided to go ahead and let him have his moment. After all, she was really tired. That fight took a lot out of her. She walked over to the closest tree. It was kind of awkward to think about it being a dryad house, but she leaned against it regardless and closed her eyes. She could wait for a while.

Elizabeth jumped down into the building rolling to lessen the fall before calmly standing up.

"He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day. Smart man, he may actually be able to pull off whatever he's planning. He picked good pawns, placed them well, and knew when to retreat. Underestimating him would be a bad idea." She said as she went ahead and walked into the side room to see if there was anything of note.

"I figure you're the better one to carry our new prisoner to the van Brandon. I'm more of the transport security type. Make sure she doesn't wake up and get away. Though right now I'm more wondering if, in his haste, he left anything we can work off of."

"Yeah, you call that bastard a frickin' genius all you want," Brandon remarked to Liz. "We got our own sayin' down home. He who turns tail and runs is probably a little..." He held himself from finishing his euphemism remembering that he might be the only one in the building who would not get offended by the word he wanted to use. "Anyway, fine. I get it, I'm the mule. You look after Jess for a sec."

He walked over with a bit of a ginger limp to where Carolina's body laid. She was still bleeding out a bit from the bullet holes in her legs. "Aw hell, I ain't pickin' her up like that. She'll be stainin' up my Witten jersey." He looked around the place for something he could use as a buffer, settling on a tarp that seemed to be covering some boxes near one of the bay doors. Draping it on the concrete, he picked up Carolina with all the dignity of a wet paper towel and laid her down on the tarp. Satisfied with her position, he rolled up the unconscious daughter of Aphrodite in the tarp and slung her over his shoulder. The extra weight forced a little bit of a grimace when it settled on his wounded leg, but he pressed through it.

"All right then, I don't think we're gettin' anything more outta this place. Little bugger was set to run from tha get go, knew that by the way he got outta Dodge. Probably better off bringin' the li'l traitor outta her X-rated dreams and pumpin' her for info. Sure Chiron's gotta have somethin' in his bag o tricks to coerce her inta co-operatin'." He turned back to the second-in command, if not co-commander. "Jes, how you holdin' up, girl? Can ya make it out?"

As the wood nymph began to fade from the mortal realm, a collection of footsteps accumulated on Gabe and Ambrose's location. From the brush appeared Sister Dawn, and a cavalry of dryads that arrived far too late. All eyes fell on the Harvestchild and the passing nymph. Expressions of distraught, shock, guilt, and frustration fell upon those who looked. Dawn rushed up to Gabriel, and knelt at his side. "I'm sorry...I'm so sorry." He shook his head timidly. "Willow. Sister Dawn. I messed up." He apologized to the elder as he watched Willow fade, her physical form growing lighter to the touch. "Oh Gabriel..." Before Dawn could move in to comfort him, one of the burlier wood nymphs rushed up to him, kicking him away from the body. Red Ash's foot stomped into his chest before he could fully recover, pinning him to the ground.

"Consider this death your third strike. Willow was the sole factor keeping you here. And you squandered her. Your only chance. Your last chance." She applied pressure as she talked, the pain in his ribs intensifying exponentially. "Urk...Ash...please..." He tried to plead. "No. NO. You don't get to beg anymore. Now, you either leave us, or we kill you." Her growing aggravation was noticeably apparent through her expressions and actions as she crouched to his level. Before she could slip her hands around his neck, the Elder Sister intervened. "Ash, please. He's already hurting. Need you twist the knife further?" Easing the infuriated dryad off of the boy, Dawn did her best to help him to his feet.

"'s fine. She deserves to be angry." His augmented tree arms began to shrink and unravel as they receded back into his bag, the sword followed suit. "I get the hate. But, thank you for having me." He made one last glance in the direction of the body of the dryad that spent the last few years protecting, feeding, teaching, mothering him. "Thank you..." He silently gave his gratitude to the guardian. Then, making a passing glance in Ambrose's direction, the kids began making their way out of the park.

After finding one of the many winding roads that led back to the 72nd Street sidewalk, the two demigods crossed a few extra streets before entering the subway they once exited. They approached the turnstiles, but Gabriel didn't feel like hopping over them. He was exhausted. He was distraught. He was in numbing amounts of pain. "I'm sorry you got dragged into all this." Gabriel apologized to the Slumberchild as he slowly ducked under the metal bars, groaning all along the way.

The dryad's body disintegrated, joining the gray harpy dust. Ambrose assumed the dryads would dispose of it in some plant-y manner. Maybe using it as fertilizer for a new tree, or maybe scattering it somewhere important. Would she be reincarnated, Ambrose wondered, as a tree? Or something smaller. A bush? Even Lethe was quiet now. That silence seemed to stick to them like glue as they maneuvered the crowded streets and busy subway. What should she do? Ambrose slowly reached over and gave Gabriel an awkward pat on the back as they waited for the train. He looked pretty torn up, but then again, he kinda always managed to look like a scraggly dog. If he weren't black and blue and red, it would have looked like a normal day.

"Urgh, fucker got away. Just great, and here I wanted to beat him up for information." Looking around, Freya spotted an altar with two levers on them. "Now, this is interesting. Wonder what they do." Stepping forwards, Freya wrapped her hands around the left lever and yanked it down. Almost instantly one of the three stone doors opened with a loud grinding noise, revealing another corridor in the Labyrinth. The stone blocks continued to fall from the hole in the ceiling, however.

"Huh." Freya remarked at the door opening. "Now, the other one." She walked up to the right lever this time and yanked that down as well. More grinding of stone ensued, followed by every block in the ceiling falling into the tunnel behind her at once. They slid down the ramp and fell into the hole at the bottom. There was no sign of any others taking their place: the lever was a kill-switch.

"Booyah! Who's awesome? I'm awesome! Now lets get this guy!" She immediately started running for the open door without waiting for her two male teammates to catch up, and assuming Jia was close behind her.

Soon, an outbound train drilled into the station. Gabriel entered the metal tube, far too encased in his thoughts to acknowledge Ambrose's comfort. Only once the train departed and the two took their seats, did the Harvestchild decide to speak. "The dryads, they have a...special way of reproducing. Their tree'll make seeds, and they plant the seeds wherever they can. A young nymph is born from one or two of the many seeds, and they grow along with the saplings. Willow's tree, for some reason, never made seeds. She was barren." His head started to lower as he talked, eyes affixing to the floor.

"I guess I never thought about much. But in the short time we had, she was the closest thing I had to a actual mom. And I guess I was...her sapling." His vision started to blur, his head fell into his hands. ", man." Droplets accumulated in the corners of his eyes, and began falling upon the one square tile of floor he couldn't take his eyes off of. "I lost her. I fuckin' lost her, Ambrose. Goddammit."

Ambrose's chair was sticky... she didn't like subways, she decided. That's when the boy started talking again. About dryad reproduction. That was the risk with seeing family outside of the camp. Willow had been somewhat battle ready, and she died protecting him. What if it was Lily? Ambrose didn't think she could have protected her against harpies. The only reason she probably survived the fight was that Willow and the guy were fighting too. She took out her bottle of pills and took a couple.

Lethe jumped down off the benches after a mouse that scurried for forgotten scraps of popcorn and sweet soda.

Hopefully Gabriel wasn't too preoccupied with crying to remember their stop.

"Jess, how you holdin' up, girl? Can ya make it out?"

"I... I should be good. Only took the knife in the side," Jess answered Brandon through gritted teeth. She scooped up her own blade and sheathed it before trying to get up, one hand clamped over the injury. Even that was enough to cause a sharp hiss, but the Aphrodite counselor was standing. "Fuck, that's painful." Her shirt was already stained blood-red.

Meanwhile, the side room Elizabeth had entered was practically a war room. A map of New York City took up an entire wall, with several arrows pinned to it and rough circles drawn over certain areas. Several of the arrows converged on the Empire State Building, the Western world's closest connection to Olympus. A small open crate under a table was filled with files, three of which were also on the table. They were marked Camp Registry Copies: A-I, J-R, S-Z.

"Brandon I'm quite happy to say you are wrong. This room is very useful. Seems our distant nephew and niece were making quite the treasure trove." Elizabeth replied as she checked both the map and box for traps, making sure they were clean before lifting the box up and placing it on a nearby table. It was soon followed by the carefully rolled up map. She made sure to check the rest of the room for any hidden panels or doors and gather anything of use that may have been inside, still being extremely careful for any surprises that may have been left behind.

"Alright I think I've got everything. Mission accomplished."

"Well then I guess he's stupider than I thought," Brandon commented. "Ain't surprisin' a stuck up little bugger like that." He adjusted the weight of the body he carried over his shoulder to try and prepare for the long walk back to the van. "Let's git outta here then. Sooner I get someone to look at my leg 'n Jess'es side, the better."

The return trip to the van was uneventful: all the monsters that had been in or near the warehouse had cleared out after the raid and subsequent retreat of their leader. It wasn't long before Gabriel and Ambrose returned from their trip: the child of Demeter was quiet, not even acknowledging the rolled-up tarp in the back of the van. Sure, he was quiet before, but this time around he seemed more... sombre, was probably the right word for it.

Elizabeth ended up driving the team back to camp, where Brandon, Jess and the unconscious Carolina were immediately rushed to the infirmary. While the Aphrodite counselor only required a few sips of Olympian nectar and a pad taped over the gash in her side - purely to prevent any further bleeding - the others required more attention.

"You didn't have to put a round in both knees. One would have sufficed," the nurse on duty grumbled to herself, as she patched up the injured prisoner. "I swear, some people just don't know how to take prisoners. As for you, Mr Robertson, you'll need to refrain from any strenuous activities for a day, two at most. If you get in another fight before then, do it at range."

Over at Chiron's offices, the centaur had sat Elizabeth down with the files she'd brought from the warehouse. They were a surprisingly large repository of information: three files dedicated to notes on campers, six on tactics for units composed of a mix of demigods and monsters, and a pair that confirmed what the map suggested: an invasion plan focusing on several approaches to a raid on Olympus and the capturing of defensible positions near the Empire State Building.

"Intriguing... this page describes a monster I've never heard of," Chiron noted as he read through one of the mixed-unit folders. "It appears to be an infiltrator, possessing powers of shapeshifting and compulsion. Judging by the name, the Typhomorph, it was probably created by Typhon himself. I find it concerning that the Father of Monsters is spawning new breeds to oppose heroes."

He closed the file and set it aside, away from the others, before turning back to Elizabeth. "This invasion plan the map suggests. Did the Athenian give away any details as to when it would begin? We can have forces mobilised and ready to protect the marked locations in due course."

"Ugh. Must you be so quick to charge on ahead?" Royce grumbled as he approached the niche Dorofei was still inside. The Snowchild had an arrow in his chest. "Yeesh. Look at you. Might wanna invest in some of that ice for armour," he commented as he carefully extracted the shaft.

"Doesn't look like it went in all that far, though I could be wrong." Royce snapped the head off the arrow and pocketed it for later, then tossed the shaft aside and helped the burly demigod out of his spot. "C'mon, Ruskie Bear, we need to catch up to the others. You're good to move, right?"

Meanwhile, Freya and Jia found themselves at a four-way intersection. To the left was a corridor lined with what looked like roots... and they were moving of their own accord. To the right, a hallway of polished metal illuminated by lightbulbs in the ceiling. And straight ahead, a pair of what looked like giant feline paws loomed in the distance. Sunlight lit up the latter corridor, hinting at a large silhouette.

"Yeah, ya see those orders ya gave me right there ma'am?" Brandon replied to the nurse. "That's why she got both 'er knees taken out. Second ya start messin' wit my routine, affectin' my football playin', I don't give a shit 'bout any god damn excessive force or nothin'. She earned that double kneecappin'."

Brandon had his own patch in on the side, mirroring Jess', but he was more concerned with his slashed leg. He got off the bench and tried to stand, but the pain shot through his left leg. It wasn't as bad as when it was freshly carved with the nectar having dulled a bit of the injury, but it still stung. "Sum bitch, I didn't hurt like this after the Purdue game." He slowly walked around the infirmary testing it, but the pain was still there.

The nurse caught him moving around a bit too quickly, with the cursing tipping off the discomfort. "Mr. Robertson, what did I just say about taking it easy?"

"This is easy," he retorted. "If I was goin' hard, I wouldn't still be in here." He walked over to where Jess was recovering. "'N that bitch behind the curtain would be needin' more intensive care!" He was referring to the partitioned section of the room where Carolina still laid unconscious. Intent on putting his problems out of his mind for a brief moment, he sat down on a chair opposite the Aphrodite counsellor. "So, I guess, I'mma have to take a rain check on tonight then. Can't be givin' no half-assed performance."

"If I were to give a word, soon. He was confident and willing to leave everything behind. That means one of three things, we actually got the drop on him and he was covering, this is all a trap, or his plan is far enough in motion that he doesn't particularly care if we know because we are behind and don't fully know it yet. Being a child of Athena I'd bet on either the second or third options." Elizabeth replied to Chiron looking over the materials provided, paying special attention to the dossiers he'd compiled.

Brandon's boisterous drawling was drowned out, unheard by the Harvestchild as he found himself focusing more on his inner tribulations. The thoughts of failure and guilt taking first priorities in his hurting psyche as he laid upon one of the infirmary beds. "Why? Why couldn't I save her?" was one of the recurring queries that plagued him. He thinks back to that moment, how he froze up in that moment of vulnerability. "Why did I freeze up? I...I was right there...I could've saved her..."

The nurse began to attend to his wounds after she finished tending to the busted kneecaps of the unnamed girl that was dragged in with the party. She made a quip about repeat appearances, and something about he might be some sort of harpy magnet. Gabriel didn't reply, and diverted his gaze as she examined his person for internal injuries.

She worked fairly fast, catching the fractured rib, sealing his scratches, offering a ice pack to accommodate the black eye left by the earlier scuffle. Sips of the nectar dealt with the rib, and seconds later his breathing regained normality. He let out a heavy exhale when he could. Sitting up, what was left of his stained shirt let out a noticeable RRriiippp!, indicating the last of the of the tattered attire giving way. Casting the clothing away, he reached for his bag.

Digging past the dirt and smashed porcelain that housed his sapling, Gabe produced a spare, equally dirtied shirt. The grey article lacked sleeves, possibly ripped from a previous attack. The New York Rangers logo at the shirt's center was splotched and faded. Putting the shirt on, he quietly began to depart, eyes still low. "I don't want to see you again today, alright? Two times is enough." The nurse playfully warned to his back. The Harvestchild made no acknowledgements to the nurse, or other teammates scattered about the place as he exited the establishment.

He decided to head towards the lake as he stepped outside. It seemed the safest place to be right now. The forest would only produce more harpies. The cabin would most likely result in someone getting hit. Even from afar, the setting sun produced twinkling rays as light bounced of the water. With his eyes lowered and hands in his pockets, he began across the camp, intent on reaching his destination.

Sounds of battle rang in Dorofei's ears as he lay motionless in the cold, stone alcove. He tried to sit up and felt a searing pain in his side.

Oh, right, the arrow. Forgot about that, his mind quietly said to himself.

He tried to sit himself up, and his arm collapsed under his weight. Whoever hit him was an amazing shot; his arm was totally crippled.

After a few more minutes of distant fighting, Dorofei heard footsteps calmly walking towards him.

"Ugh. Must you be so quick to charge on ahead?" Royce grumbled.

"Heh. Blame Jia. Needed to protect her."

The demigod bent over and carefully examined the wound,

"Doesn't look like it went in all that far, though I could be wrong."

Royce snapped the head off the arrow and pocketed it for later, then tossed the shaft aside and helped the burly demigod out of his spot.

Dorofei let out a string of long swears in as many languages as he knew while the pieces of the arrow were being pulled out by Royce.

"C'mon, Ruskie Bear, we need to catch up to the others. You're good to move, right?"

The snowchild braced himself against the wall with his good hand, walked over to his Celestial Bronze rod, and quickly began to rebuild his equipment. He padded an extra layer of ice over his wound, then pulled from his back pocket a long strip of faded cloth. He wrapped his arm below the elbow, and the other end behind his neck, making a cheap brace.

Royce looked skeptically at the old bandage. "Do you really think that will hold?"

Dorofei chuckled. "It doesn't need to."

His armor began to grow around him, different than before. His bad arm was coated in layer after layer of sheets of ice, bracing itself against his body and being held in place. After a moment, what was once a crippled arm became a thick shield.

Royce was staring at Dorofei the way one stares at man who is standing in an open field during a rainstorm screaming that the gods are all bastards.

"Uhh, Dorofei? Your arm was pretty hurt. Maybe you shouldn't be trying to block with it?"

"Ice will hold." was Dorofei's only reply.

He ran to catch up with Jia and Freya. They were standing at a crossroads, deciding on the next route.

To the left was an alien mass of roots. Just looking at them made Dorofei dizzy. To the right, a brightly lit hallway with reflective walls. To the left, however, was something all too familiar to Dorofei; the cat-like claws of a powerful, ancient hunter.

"Jia, Freya, Royce. Don't move. Sphinx. Middle road."

"So, I guess, I'mma have to take a rain check on tonight then. Can't be givin' no half-assed performance."

"Aww, poor baby," Jess teased Brandon, getting up from the end of her chosen bed and moving to stand just behind the Ares counselor. She placed her hands on his shoulders and leaned down to whisper in his ear: "Sometimes waiting a little bit to get what you want makes it all the sweeter when you do." She planted a kiss on his cheek, just as another teaser, then straightened up.

"Let me know when Carolina's awake and available for questioning. I wanna be there for it," she stated before she left the infirmary. That new Demeter kid, Gabriel, seemed rather down about things. Maybe he needed someone to talk to... or maybe some other form of company. Jess spotted him cutting between the mess hall and the cabins' courtyard, presumably heading for the forest where he could hide out or something. She followed.

Said presumptions were for naught, however, as she watched the Harvestchild approach the lake bed instead. Upon reaching the water, Gabriel lowered to his knees and brought his backpack forward. He opened the bag as far as he could, to get a full look at the damage. The sapling was still relatively intact, still grasping onto the shrunken weapon bestowed upon him. "Fuck." a brief, silent recollection of how quickly his life went to shit made him curse. Beginning to pick out the shards of dusky porcelain that was once a pot, Gabe reached for the wood sword, grimacing along the way. "Piece a' shit." He spat, stabbing it into the ground beside him. Jess raised her eyebrows. Had something happened when he and the Hypnos girl had left? She approached Gabriel, alerting him to her presence with a, "Hey there," before taking a seat in the grass close by. "What's up, Gabe?" Clearly something was bothering him, but she would let him explain it if he wanted to.

The question hung in the air, Gabe hesitant to answer. The plopping sounds of smashed pot pieces being angrily thrown into the lake filled the space for a bit, until he was ready to acknowledge her. "'s dead." He replied, eyes affixed on the horizon. "Um... I'm not sure I follow. Your mother is Demeter, right?" Jess queried, shuffling a little closer to the other demigod. "You seem a bit stressed... It's okay. Take your time." He looked at her, his expression cold and blank. "Humor her. Maybe she'll go away then." he thought, before resuming his debris tossing. "Closest thing I had to a' the dryads that lived in Central Park. She died today. Protectin' me." He explained. He halted the activity, and looked into his rippling reflection. He sighed, ran a hand through his hair. "I committed a murder today." He muttered, closing his eyes. "Feelin' like I deserve the death penalty right now." He followed up with another whispered "fuck."

"Hey now, don't say that." Jess put a consoling arm around Gabe's shoulders; he didn't shrug her off. "If she died to save you, then she must have cared about you and your safety. And hey, maybe you'll see her again someday. Dryads turn into flowers or other plants when they die, but the trees that they came from will remember. Or, well, I think that's what the stories say." She gave Gabe a smile, hoping to cheer him up. "Ya think?" He's heard the similar story from elder nymphs, about the reincarnation and revitalization of dryads that've passed on. He appreciated the thought of hope coming from the Lovechild. Even if the thoughts of guilt and doubt still niggled about. " don't make it any easier to swallow. Reincarnation or not." He replied through a sigh. "It's never easy, Gabe," Jess agreed. "In the meantime, though... maybe I can provide another form of comfort." She leaned in closer to the Demeter child, resting her other hand on his chest. Their faces were inches apart for a few seconds, then the Aphrodite girl kissed him lightly on the cheek, as a hint of what she meant.

At any other time, Gabriel would've scolded her, told her to "fuck off". Even more so now, considering the current state of affairs. But, instead, a sensation of warmth seemed to hastily overtake him. His thoughts cleared up. For once, things felt alright. The expression he wore soften as he began to look into the girl who kissed him. But then something And then the warm feeling started fading, and the discouraging thoughts started to return. He blinked and diverted his gaze. "...Appreciate it, but I'm not in the mood right now." He began to peel away the grasp she had on him. "Some other time, maybe." His sights returned to the dirt-filled bookbag he owned, and he found himself back at square one.

Jess took her hands away and backed up a little bit before getting to her feet. She knew when her advances weren't welcome. "Alright. I will say, though, that you should probably talk to Rosa about what happened. It'll do you some good to let your half-siblings know about your connection to the dryads. Come on. I'll walk you over to your cabin. No sense in leaving you here on your own." She offered a hand up. "No thanks. Rather not be around them right now." He replied, still not sure he'd sit well with his half-brothers and sisters. "I'll see you around, Jess." He quickly dismissed her.

Freya gave a short chuckle as Dorofei warned them. "A Sphinx? This labyrinth has everything." Not heeding his words, she approached the Sphinx, with her hand ready on the hilt of her sword if she needed it. Once a bit closer, she called to it. "Hey! You big pussycat! You got a riddle for me or something? Ain't that how it works with you guys?"

The large paws visible from the intersection were a dead giveaway as to the sphinx's size. She towered over the four demigods, even from her seated position. At Freya's words of challenge, she stood up to her full height of fifteen feet tall. Massive wings akin to those of an eagle remained folded on the creature's back.

"Adventurers... demigods, no less. I smell the divine upon you," she began, in Ancient Greek which the four understood perfectly. "You seek challenge, then, woman of deathly descent. I shall provide. One question, one answer. Pass the test and I step aside. Fail, and die."

"Bring it on." Freya said with a wide grin on her face.

"Why should I spare your life?" Claws unsheathed, each with a honed edge rivaling that of a Hephaestan sword. The sphinx made no move to attack, however.

"Because we're here to take down the Chimera we've been sent to kill. And I intend on doing just that." Freya answered, positive it was the right answer.

"The Chimaera is no concern of mine. It is one of yours, and your fellows. You have much to learn... but you will not get the chance. You have failed." The sphinx's serene expression became one of scorned fury. She raised a paw and backhanded Freya back down the hall, releasing a feline snarl.

Freya got tossed back before landing on the ground and sliding a bit towards the others. With a grunt, she stood up, her hand not leaving her sword hilt. "Should have guessed it would be some kind of trick question. Or I just didn't know the answer. Either way, I'm taking you down and continuing with my mission!" She unsheathed her sword and charged towards the Sphinx with her sword facing down, ready for an upwards slash.

"Oh my gods," Royce gave a sigh as he raised his hammer in one hand. A stream of fire sprayed from his gauntlet as he followed Freya's lead. Couldn't have given us time to consider it?

The sphinx was not so kind a second time, however, as she aimed a slash directly at Freya's midsection. She appeared to be prioritising the Hades child over the others, given that Freya had caused her ire. However, she gave another snarl as her other front paw tasted Royce's flamethrower.

With a grin on her face, Freya disappeared into the shadows, only to reappear near the Sphinx's hind legs, slashing at and stabbing into one of them. With a moment of concentration, she summoned a skeletal warrior and sent him over to Royce to help him at the front of the beast while she worked in the back.

"Let me know when Carolina's awake and available for questioning. I wanna be there for it."

"That goes double for me," Brandon added. "I still gotta get some payback for that little trick she tried to pull on my calf muscle." He got up from his seat as Jessica headed out the door and followed a short distance behind his fellow counselor until she headed off towards the water. "Fuckin' hell, this has been one long-ass day." Brandon headed to his cabin. It was somewhat quiet for once, which was appreciated. He ducked into his private room and tossed some headphones on as he went to sleep to try and recover from the attack on his livelihood.

One last sploosh! from the lake indicated that Gabriel ran out of pot pieces to throw. He decided to recline some before reaching for his bag. Carefully, he produced the sapling, its roots still clinging onto what little dirt it could. Placing it aside for the moment, he dumped the rest of the sack's contents into the grass. His spare pair of pants, ragged plimsolls, and frayed hoodie fell out, and the rest of the soil followed suit. The Harvestchild let out a heavy sigh before turning his attention to the injured plant.

"I'll find you a new pot soon, I promise." He held her upright, her roots pointed down. "In the meantime..." He cleared a patch of dirt for the sapling, and carefully lowered it down. His free hand was held at a distance, as it helped the roots penetrate the topsoil. After a few minutes of this, the sapling was successfully planted, with Gabriel giving it a few light tugs to test it's connection. "This should hold for now." He mumbled. Going back to his clothes, he made sure to air them out some before stuffing them back into his backpack. That done, he reclined further, his head in the dry, warm grass. He exhaled another long sigh. "Guess it's just you an' me, Marcy." He said, his eyes toward the heavens. "...You're all I have left."

Ambrose didn't even need any nectar for her injuries. The nurse prescribed her an ice pack for her bruises, some aspirin, and a nap. The nap obviously being the best remedy for a Hypnos child. Their Central Park field trip had taken a lot out of her, and the only thing she was concerned about right now was getting back in her familiar bed. The downy pillows and the warm comforters...

She pushed open the infirmary door and walked out. She stretched her arms out, sharply whistling for Lethe to follow.
They saw a lot of action! We just fought off some old birdy hags
"And even that was too much action for me."
We don't do anything exciting.
"I cleaned out your litterbox the other day."
That was a week ago
"Well it must be exciting now."

The only cabin to pass before her own was the Aeolus cabin. Ambrose had to wonder if there were any requirements for a god having a cabin. A few of the bird children were chasing each other up and around in three dimensions. They're like harpies without wings
"More like human dandelion seeds. Must be nice."
Do you think they'd help me out so I could chase real birds up there?
"That's probably against their moral code or something-" One of the campers was staring at them as cat and girl stopped their conversation. Ambrose just sighed and continued walking after a brief pause to acknowledge their eavesdropper. Not like anyone else could understand Lethe. Outside of... Demeter campers, maybe, or Artemis' hunters. She had to make a note to ask one of them maybe sometime. Maybe one of Hecate's kids could make some sort of cat talking spell. Maybe Nyx. Since cats were dark and stuff.

... ... ... ... I want some strawberries... Ambrose stopped again and stared at the door to her cabin. She wasn't too tired. Yet. She turned around and went towards the fields. Close enough to nature, but with all the perks of The shortest way would be past the mess hall and along the southern edge of the lake... "Come on Lethe, I want to get some strawberries before we go back into hibernation."

Mitsuko had hung around by herself for a while. She was thinking about how things with Brandon went and wasn't happy about her being so up front. She was lost in though as she look up from her bunk noticing she had been there for hours.

"Well, I better get up and do something."

She put on her shoes, grabbed her daggers, and headed out the cabin door. She look around at the other cabins as she put her headphones on singing along to the current song. She walked past a few cabins before stopping at Brandon's cabin. Ir now was the time to apologize it would be now. She took a deep breath, and knocked then took a peak inside and saw he was asleep. Not wanting to wake him she tried to leave quietly. Then she kicked hid bed hard.


Gabriel tried his best to ignore the insistent rumbling that grew in his stomach. Laying in the grass, he made a passing remark at the lack of food he's consumed in the last few days. "I could eat. But..." While physically famished, he really didn't feel like eating. He sat up, a bit hung up on finalizing a decision. A little while longer, and his stomach decided to interject once more.

"Fuck it. I'll get a apple or something..." He grumbled and sighed his way to his feet, collecting his tattered backpack and shrunken wood sword. "Guess I better return this while i'm at it. Faulty piece a' shit." He added, deciding to make his way over to Chiron's office first.

The door was closed as he approached the cabin, and could hear the faint words of the groundskeeper along with what sounded like one the girls that accompanied him on his trip into the city. It sounded crucial, whatever it was they were talking about.

"I'll come back later, I guess." His empty stomach gurgled some more, and he decided to move on. Despite the sensation of emptiness that occupied his gullet, his train of thought stayed with the weapon he was handed earlier that day, the one that refused to respond to his thoughts and subconscious actions. "I got you to this fucking size, why can't I get you back to normal? What did I do to make you work?"

Too immersed in his increasingly frustrated thoughts, he made his way back across the lake, failing to notice the white haired young'un (and her, as usual, failing to notice him) literally crossing his path and on her way to the agriculture fields. "Whoa. Watch out, sleepyhead." He piped up, his sincere voice sounding not-at-all sincere. It was in passing, as he turned in her direction, making sure to keep ahead of her as he too continued towards the fields.

"With the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft," Comissioner Goodell announced, "the Dallas Cowboys select, Brandon Robertson, running back, from Southern Methodist University. The Browns are now on the clock."

Brandon got up from the table, his mom rising with him and giving him a big hug. He shook Coach Ogbonnaya's hand as a Cowboys hat similar to the one he had worn in his youth was thrust in his hand by an NFL staffer. He took the walk up to the podium as the cameras panned around him and TV talking heads listed off his stats to the viewing public. The Comissioner was waiting there, with the somehow still moving owner and GM Jerry Jones with him, jersey in hand. It was tough watching the Cowboys struggle to a 3-13 record, especially that loss to the Los Angeles Bills where Blake Muniz fumbled the ball three times, but it was worth it now.

Climbing up to accept this new mantle of first overall pick, the Colt shook hands with his new boss and posed for photos with Mr. Jones. The smile was going to be hard to wipe from his face. He had finally made it.

Suddenly, an earthquake! The Radio City Music Hall jumped and evaporated from view. What the hell?


Brandon awoke from his dream scenario ready to fight whatever it was that ended his rest, until the figure that stood in his blurry vision became clearer. "What the?" he asked rhetorically. "Mit'sko? The hell you doin' in 'ere?"

Mitsuko stammered, and fumbled with her hands not sure what to say. She didn't want to seem like a creep, or anything. She just had a few things she needed, and wanted to say.

"I'm umm sorry Brandon. I didn't mean to wake you. I was trying to sneek out quietly, but well, I guess my feet got caught, and... I'm talking too much. Anyway, I better let you go back to sleep. I was just in here because I had somethings to say, but that can wait." Mitsuko bit her lip not sure what to do next, but figured it was better than running out then and there.

"Nah, you best get 'em out while ya got me," Brandon said as he sat up in his bunk. It was a more painful move than he would have liked given the injuries. "I ain't gonna be sleepin' for the next hour. 'N case some other person figures they can jump me if you were able to sneak in like a mouse in the dairy barn."

He motioned for Mitsuko to take the spot at the foot of his bed. "Must be worth somethin' anyway if you're scurryin' round like this. So what's goin' on?"

Mitsuko nodded slightly, and took the seat offered to her. She took a deep breath to relax. She had spend enough time to clear her mind, and figure out what she was going to say. She turned to face him. She sat back, and crossed her legs.

"I wanted to tell you that I've been thinking about how I acted a while a go. I'm sorry. I was brash, and, well, a bit pushy. I should of taken things a hell of a lot slower. Dad never taught me things like this. God, he's just like me. I have no idea how he got mom." Mitsuko laughed some at that last thought.

She was already feeling better getting that off her chest. Now for the other part.

"Anyway, I've been thinking, if you still want to I'm ok with fooling around. I'm not expecting anything more then that. Hell, if there is to be more I'll leave that up to you. I mean this is a bit of a big step for me. I haven't really been with anyone for a while. I mean it's this is really new to me and... Shit, I'm going on again. Somethings never change." she smirked trying not to shake.

She didn't look at him, she couldn't bring herself to. She was too nervous. She just waited for him to speak.

Ambrose mumbled a half apology in the same vein as whoever's path she had crossed. They had been walking for a good 5 minutes before she realized she knew that camper.

Lethe sped up to keep pace with Gabriel, pouncing on his jeans frayed hems and on his shoelaces. Hey hey! Where ya going? Are you going to the fields? Are there dryads there you know? So can you talk to all plants? I bet they don't say a lot of smart stuff. Talking to animals is better.

Ambrose didn't bother to call her kitten by name, resorting to a short whistle not unlike a bird call.

So can you not eat vegetables? It's sick that you keep gardens and then pick them up to eat. You can hear them screaming!

"You can hear your food scream." Ambrose stayed matter-of-factly, kicking a pebble.

Surprisingly, Gabriel managed to keep his footing as the little white feline tugged at his feet. Lethe couldn't seem to keep quiet as she excitedly mewed at the Harvestchild. And even then he could barely make out some of the things she was asking. "Huh? Do I know the dryads? Can I talk to the plants?"

"Talk to 'em all you want. Most won't answer back." He mumbled a answer, traversing past the greenhouses and nurseries that led into the enclosures of agriculture.

"Talking to animals is better." "No. They really aren't." He shot a bothered look in the kitty cat's direction, but she didn't seem to notice or care. "Doesn't help that most of 'em just want to eat you in some sorta way." Lethe kept right on gabbing.

"So can you not eat vegetables?" He paused. But not because of the question.

Something nearby caught his eye, a vacant pot left unattended near a nursery of daisies and chrysanthemums. It was an ideal item, despite the overly feminine floral pattern lining the rim. It was just the right size and weight. He had to kneel to retrieve it, and Lethe brushed past his hand as he did so, mewing all along the way. It didn't really seem like she knew how the spiritual aspect of fruits and vegetables worked.

As he stood up, he spotted another goal to his objectives. Rows of trees inhabiting the east edge of the fields, just beyond the strawberries and grapes, all presenting different fruit. "Veggies don't scream. Fruits don't either." He approached one of the apple trees, one which bore the granny smith variety. He put a careful hand to its trunk. The canopy shivered just a bit, and two apples fell from above. Both landed in the grass with a muted thud. Gabe nodded to the tree in thanks before sitting, resting up against the bark. "A tree won't resent us when we receive its gifts, Sister Dawn always said."

"You can hear your food scream." The Sleepling piped up, not too far behind. "You talk to 'em too?" Gabe asked, taking a large bite out of his nearest apple.

Brandon leaned back as Mitsuko went into detail Monday morning quarterbacking their last interaction, but was pleased that the result wasn't a desire to push harder. In fact quite the opposite. He smiled as Mitsuko said the important thing, that she was open to free wheeling at this point, and that was all he needed to hear. Brandon was going to lean up and put a finger to her lips, but she stopped on her own accord. As Brandon assessed the Asian Demigod, he noticed she was still shying away from him. That'll change.

"Hey, hey it's OK girl," he told her as he sat back up in his bed. "I'm glad you're bein' the bigger person 'n all, apologizin' and stuff, but it's OK. I ain't holding nothin' 'gainst ya. Unless you want it, a course." He leaned forward, grunting a bit as his injuries made themselves known, but Brandon wanted to get a hand on Mitsuko's shoulder to emphasize his next point. "Don't you worry 'bout a thing. We kin go whatever speed you want to go at. Won't be today, not after that slut shanked my shin, can't be givin' no half-assed performance, but soon 'nough, we'll have at it. Hell, maybe Jess'll come in too, help ya out if you're a bit nervous with some things. Know she's probably keen on it. But yeah, don't sweat nothin' and we'll have some fun in the future, got me?"

Mitsuko seemed alarmed by Brandon's gruntw of pain, and put her hands up to try and keep him down, but it failed. To show she was feeling less tens she moved closer to him. It would also cut down on hiw movment.

"I'm happy it's ok, but I wish you didn't sit up, and cause pain for yourself. We can do whatever you want when you're better. If you want I can get you something, or leave you be. Hell, I'll even stay. It's up to you." said Mitsuko smiling

"We all know I don't hold a candle to an Aphro girl. I'm just a gothic Asian that kind of sucks at math." she laughed which only made her smile more. She was feeling much more relxed now.

"Look, I should tell you I'm doing this partly so I can break out of my shell. I'm tired of being shy and nervous. I want to be more confident in myself is all. Also, sex really is nice." Mitsuko was starting to crack more jokes now, a sign that she was fully comfertable.

"Well we all got stereotypes to break outta," Brandon commented regarding Mitsuko's admission about sucking at math. She did seem a lot more relaxed now. Before whenever she was around him she was all tensed up and nervous. It was a turn off. Now, she seemed cool to hang out with at the very least. Even after a romp in the bed.

"Ain't goin' to argue with nothin' ya said," he said after she finished talking. "'N if I can help ya out like that Mit'sko. I'll be more than happy to. Ya know, once I'm feelin' better." Brandon's hand left Mitsuko's shoulder and went down to her thigh, patting it. "I'll give ya a right showin'. But yeah, just need a couple days for that."

"Huh? Talk to 'em? I can talk to her." Ambrose jerked her head towards the white kitten, who stared up at the tree for a few seconds before running after the second apple that fell.
"Roar! Fruit flesh!"
"Save room for your actual food..."
"I'm a vegetable killer! Rooar!"

Ambrose watched as the guy took a girly pot. Probably for the one that broke while they were in New York. She wondered why he lugged that tree around at all. Weapon maybe? But he hadn't used it in their fight: he used that wood sword thing. Genius if you thought about it.

"Huh? Talk to 'em'?" Ambrose questioned. "Animals. If you can hear what she's saying-'ey, not for you." Gabriel interrupted himself, manipulating a group of blades to grasp at the apple still on the ground. The grass elongated, in attempts to keep the fruit out of the playful kitty's clutches. Lethe leaned onto her hind legs, using her front paws to swipe at the apple staying just out of her reach. Before he realized it, he managed to make a game out of the bout of keep-away. The peaceful playfulness of the situation made him think. And thinking about anything in this current day in time made him sigh long, heavy sighs. He looked back to Ambrose.

"...Then again, maybe you could. I don't know what god you belong to. Didn't see you, or your scythe in Cabin 4, so you ain't a Harvestkid..." He queried in a way. "Ain't nothing notable 'bout you that links you up with any of the original pantheon, either."

"Only her. She's special. I don't know why. And I'm not in cabin 4. I'm in cabin 17." She picked up her pendant and mumbled something. It began to spin, glowing softly. She paused for asecond, before finally commanding "Somnolence" in an eerie voice. The pendant chinned, and a foot radius around their feet started to glow. Then, in a blink of haziness, a small field of white and red poppies erupted. They waved slowly in directions independent of the wind. Tall, elegant, flowers that swayed back and forth in unison. Maybe the wicked witch from the stories had been a child of Hypnos as well. Even without any further spells, the poppies made the air heavy, and whispered sleep on the wind. Ambrose was used to their effects already, but it was a pleasant sensation in her mind, being almost drugged into sedation.

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