Lightning flashed across the sky as a small figure darted down Euclid Ave. towards the overpass just past the university. The small girl let out a yelp of terror as a loud crack of thunder echoed throughout the city of Cleveland. She was terrified. It felt like the whole world was out to get her and nobody would listen.
Three hours ago she had watched in horror as some terrible creature broke into the house that she shared with her mother in the Slovene part of Cleveland. Now she was running for her life, trying to get to safety.
The lake. a voice whispered in her mind. Get to the lake, child.
"I'm scared. Želim mamica." she whimpered in response as she huddled under the bridge of the overpass.
Her mother was all she had in the world. Her father had left when she was a baby, and she didn't even know if he was alive. Now, her mother had been brutally murdered in front of her by some horrible monster. The worse part? Her mother's last word had been "Teči!" Run! It was as if her mother knew this day was coming.
She was only five years old, and now she was an orphan. She had no idea where she was, or where she was going because her mother forbade her from even wandering around their neighborhood. She was downtown Cleveland near the university and the hospital in the Italian part, an area she was unfamiliar with, and she didn't even know which direction the lake was. To top it off, she was being chased by the thing that killed her mother, and she was pretty sure this unnatural winter thunderstorm was targeting her.
"Lost, moja draga?" a man's voice asked. She glanced over her shoulder and saw a man with long, beautiful blond hair and spring green eyes. He didn't look homeless, as he was dressed in nice clothing and wore a crown made of flowers. He smelled flowers, fresh dew, and the new spring grass; everything that reminded her of the trip she and her mother took over to rural Lorain county the previous spring. Something was off about him, immediately putting her on guard. He smiled sadly, as if sensing her distrust. "My poor child, I know how scared you must be. Not one set of monsters chase you, but two. And ancient laws prevent your father from interfering; otherwise he would've come to your rescue already. No matter, I do believe he sent help."
"Kdo si?" she asked, her voice on edge.
"I can not tell you that." he replied in heavily accented Slovene. "But I can lead you to safety. There is a place for children like you. But if they will accept you, I do not know. Your brother will explain more."
"Moj brat? But I d-don't have a brother."
"There is no time to explain, child. My power is weak in the winter and your pursuers rapidly approach. I also can't guarantee you safety from this storm much longer." he replied sadly. Suddenly there was a loud crashing noise of trash cans falling over, followed by the low, guttural growling of her mother's killers.
"Foolish child. You think a god can protect you from us? A Slavic god at that?" a deep, hateful voice shouted. They would be upon her in a matter of minutes.
A look of urgency appeared in the man's eyes as he held out his hand towards her. "Now or never, moja draga. You don't have the time to mistrust me. Either you take my hand and reach safety, or you die here and doom us all."
Not seeing any other option, the girl reached out and grasped his hand. Immediately, a feeling of sunshine filled her, warming her to the core and giving her hope. Leaves and flower petals swirled around her feet, engulfing her in a mini tornado. Then the world around her faded.
The next thing the girl knew, she was standing on a beach. Huge, freezing waves beat the coast line relentlessly, as if the lake was angry at the Earth and sky. Lightning still flashed brilliantly across the sky, followed by loud, angry claps of thunder. Snow and sleet came down heavily as the wind howled. Despite the weather, she somehow knew she was safe.
"Gospod?" she asked, looking around for the man from under the overpass. He had seemingly vanished into thin air. "Where are you? Come back! I do not know where to go!"
"Are you sure he told you to come here?" a voice demanded.
The girl darted behind a large rock on the beach. The cold waves lashed against her calves, causing her to shiver but she didn't dare move from her hiding place. Peering around the rock, she saw the figure of two people walking down the beach, a teenage girl with long, wind-blown, blonde hair and a teenage boy with messy black hair. They looked like an ordinary couple walking on the beach, but no ordinary couple would be out on a stormy winter night.
"I'm sure, Annabeth." the boy replied. "Poseidon said, 'Go to Cleveland, to the beach and look for a brown-haired girl defending herself with seashells.'"
"And that's it?" Annabeth asked skeptically. "Percy, if she was here, I think we would have found her by now."
Go to them, child. the voice in her mind urged her. Go before it's too late.
Suddenly, Percy tensed, causing Annabeth to look at him quizzically. But he said nothing, pulling a ballpoint pen out of his pocket and uncapping it instead. The pen grew into to a three foot long, glowing bronze sword. Annabeth, as if sensing his mood, reached towards her waist and unsheathed an ivory sword.
That's when the girl noticed what had set the couple on edge. Standing beside her was a large, hairy man with what looked like gang tattoos. His beady eyes gazed at her hungrily. She feel over and shrieked in terror as he reached, licking his lips eagerly.
"Finally! That meddlesome spring god that he was clever sending you here, trying to put you in your father's embrace. But he only delayed your death by moments." he laughed. "Now I will eat you. It's been awhile since I've had your kind."
She let out another cry of fear as she reached around the icy water blindly. Her hands wrapped around something cold and smooth. She raised her arms and flung it at the man as she cried, "Pustite me na miru!"
A small seashell bounced uselessly off the man's head. She cried out again before flinching away and covering her face with her arms. The attack she was expecting never came. Looking up, she saw the boy named Percy standing above her with his sword at his side. The man was gone, and golden dust churned in the water around her. The girl named Annabeth appeared out of thin air next to him, a Yankees baseball cap bunched up in her hands. "Is she...?"
"I think so." Percy replied.
"Put your sword away! You're scaring her!" Annabeth knelt down next to her, a concerned look in her stormy gray eyes. "Are you okay?"
"D-Da." the girl replied as she shivered, nodding her head.
Percy scanned the horizon with his sea green eyes. "We need to get her out of here. Zeus is angry tonight, and I have a feeling my Dad sent me here because of that." He looked at her. "What's your name?"
"Marija. Ime mi je Marija Vodnik." she replied, before remembering most people don't speak Slovene and translating. "My name is Marija Vodnik."
"Marija?" he repeated. "Well, Marija, I'm Percy Jackson, and this is Annabeth Chase. We're like you, and we're going to take you someplace safe. Now let's get you someplace warm and dry."
Translations:Želim mamica- I want my mommy.Teči!- Run!moja draga- my dearKdo si?- Who are you?Moj brat- My brotherGospod- Mr./SirPustite me na miru!- Leave me alone!Da- YesIme mi je- My name is
Please let me know if you see any errors. I don't know a lot of Slovene past "zdravo," "hvala," "prosim," and "čaj."