The next few hours were a blur for Marija. She vaguely remembered Percy setting her in his car, a blue Prius with hooves imprinted on the hood, and Annabeth covering her up with a blanket from the trunk. She remembered giving him directions to her house. She remembered them going inside the house to get her belongings, a few family heirlooms from Slovenia, and a few other things she asked for. She remembered Percy getting on the turnpike, saying that I-80 would take them right into New York City. But she fell asleep soon after.
When she awoke it was in a soft bed, covered up to her chin with a soft, blue blanket. Nearby, she heard three voices. Percy and Annabeth were explaining what had happened to another person, a male with a gentle, yet firm voice. She didn't dare move, fearing she could be in danger.
"Chiron," Percy said, "Annabeth and I don't think her mother was mortal. If she was, the monsters wouldn't have gone that far, even if she was just in the way."
"I've never seen a monster do that to a mortal before, even the mortal parent of a demigod." Annabeth added.
The man called Chiron sighed. "Austin from the Apollo cabin is home in Oberlin visiting his mother. I will contact him and have him meet me in Cleveland, and I will investigate the death of the mother. In the mean time, we should not mention this to the girl. You said her name was Marija?"
"Yeah." Percy replied. "She said her name was Marija Vodnik."
"Marija." Chiron repeated solemnly, as if her name wasn't a good omen. "Yes, the poor girl has been through enough. I will speak with her when she awakes. In the mean time, you two should get back into the city before your absence is noticed."
She heard a screen door creaking open and slamming shut soon after. Marija felt a presence near the bed she was laying in. Daring to peak her eyes open, she looked up and saw a middle-aged man with a dark beard staring down at her. She pushed down her instinct to hide under the covers and met his eyes. He gave her a warm, reassuring smile, as if he sensed her fear.
"Marija is it?" he asked. She nodded weakly. "How much of that did you hear?"
"O-Only a little." she said, forcing herself to speak in English. Slovene was her native language, as she had been born in Ročinj, Slovenia, a small mountain village in the historical Littoral region near the border with Italy. Though they had moved to Cleveland, Ohio when she was two, Marija still remembered the language as her mother often spoke it around the house and the neighborhood. Whenever she was scared or nervous, Marija would subconsciously slip back into the familiar language of her homeland.
"Tell me, what happened in Cleveland?" Chiron inquired.
Marija sat up and stared out the window, avoiding the man's gaze. Outside, she saw what looked like strawberry fields of some sort. Nearby there was a volleyball pit and forest. Further back she could see what looked like cabins. "Moja mati is dead, yes?"
"You know the answer to that."
Tears formed at the corners of her eyes. It had all seemed like a dream when it happened. The monsters breaking in. Her mother's screams. Running past the university. The man under the overpass. Percy and Annabeth on the beach. Now, Chiron was here telling her it was all real. She wanted to scream and cry and curse the world. At only five years old everything she had ever known in the world had been ripped away from her.
Trying to hold back her tears, she looked at Chiron. To her surprise, from the waist down he was a white stallion. Normally it would have disturbed her or caused her to ask questions, but she was to tired to question it. Instead she met his eyes and asked, "Zakaj?" Why?
The centaur smiled sadly at her. "We will find out soon, child. In the mean time, let's get you settled into your new home."
Chiron left Marija alone for a few moments to get changed into a fresh set of clothes: a clean pair of jeans, new white sneakers, and an orange t-shirt that read "Camp Half-Blood" in Ancient Greek. She attempted to brush her long, brown hair, but failed miserably, which caused her to burst into frustrated tears. Her mother had always done her hair for her, and now it was just another reminder that her mother was no longer there.
Before Chiron could come back in, Marija rubbed her bloodshot sea green eyes in an attempt to hide evidence of her outburst. She didn't want anyone at her new, strange home to think she was a crybaby. She knew how the children in her neighborhood used to heckle other children they caught crying. She didn't want that to happen to her.
She pulled her sweater back on and stuffed her shoelaces into the side of her sneakers, as she didn't know how to tie her shoes yet. That was another thing her mother used to do for her. Just another reminder her mother was gone.
But she couldn't dwell on that because Chiron interrupted her thoughts by calling, "Are you ready, child?"
Standing in the shadows of the porch was a thirteen year old boy with shaggy black hair and a pale complexion. Marija vaguely registered slight Italian features on his face, similar to those of the owners of a small grocery in the Italian part of Cleveland that her mother used to take her to. He radiated an aura of death and darkness, which made her slightly weary.
"Ah, I'm afraid I have to get to archery practice." Chiron informed her when he noticed her. He then pointed to the boy in the shadows. "But Nico has offered to show you around. Marija, meet Nico di Angelo, the son of Hades. Nico, this is Marija Vodnik. Hopefully tonight she will be claimed."
And with that Chiron trotted off, leaving Nico and Marija alone. Marija gulped nervously as she approached Nico. "Zdravo."
Nico smiled softly, something she wouldn't expect from someone shrouded in shadows. "Well, welcome to Camp Half-Blood. Let me show you around."
Cleveland, Ohio was no place for Greeco-Roman gods or their children. That was fine by them though, having claimed both coasts. But they weren't the only pantheon around. Of course the Nordic gods had Boston and that area, the Egyptian had Brooklyn, the Aztec had the American Southwest, the Baltic (a nearly extinct pantheon that somehow managed to survive) had Chicago, the Native American pantheons had various places (Alaska, South and North Dakota, Oklahoma, etc.), and so on and so forth. Cleveland (and most of, if not all of, Ohio) was the territory of one of the most vast and obscure pantheons. One that covered thousands of miles, encompassing parts of Europe and Asia. One whose stories, gods, and myths were erased from history.
The Slavic Gods had a rich history, their influence reaching from the Alps to the Caucus region to the Ural Mountains and beyond. But all that was gone thanks to the wonder and glory that was Rome, and later Christianity. The Slavic Tribes, peaceful Nomadic people, were exploited for centuries. Slaves to the Greeks, slaves to the Romans. In fact, the very word "slave" comes from "Slav". Centuries of oppression and assimilation erased their cultural identity and suffering, wiping all memory of the Slavic Pantheon from history.
The Slavic Gods did not just feel slighted or angry. They were enraged. And they wanted revenge. Revenge against the Greco-Roman Pantheon. And they were going to get. The Greeks and Romans would never see it coming.
This story deals with Slavic mythology. The Slavic Pantheon is based in Northeast Ohio because of the large number of Slavs and their descendants there (especially Southern Slavs; Cleveland, Ohio has the largest population of Slovene speakers outside of Slovenia and is a sister city to Ljubljana). Ohio also has towns like Macedonia and Russia (pronounced roo-see-ah), which come from the names of Slavic countries ( there's also Athens, but that's beside the point). OSU also offers Serbo-Croatian as a foreign language. So that gives you an idea of how Slavic culture has impacted Ohio. And Ročinj (Roh-ching) is a real village in Slovenia.
Mohamed mati- My mother
I am hoping to take some Slovene classes in college this year (I'm going to one of the only universities in the country that offers Slovene), so I hope to learn a lot more. Please let me know if there are any mistakes.