"Bianca, come with me. I would like to speak with you," Artemis requested as she turned back to where Zoe and the other hunters were setting up camp.
"What about me?" Nico asked.
Artemis looked him up and down. "Perhaps you and Perseus would like to help Hiccup set up the kennels for the hunting dogs." She pointed into the forest. "You will find it over there." Nico immediately brightened and started running in the direction the goddess pointed. He seemed so excited, I almost felt bad for dragging him into this. Still, the least I could do was follow the kid, and Artemis was right. I couldn't do anything for Annabeth right now. I could help Nico, though.
We walked into the woods, looking for the hunter named Hiccup. It was kind of a weird name, but then again, a lot of Greek stuff had weird names. Finally, we saw a pile of tent fabric and some wooden support beams. Nico looked up at me. "Where's Hiccup?"
I was going to shrug, but a blast of wind shook us and the trees. Quickly, I grabbed the back of Nico's shirt and dove for cover under some nearby scrub. He might have complained earlier, but I think the encounter with Dr. Thorn still had him a little jittery. Hey, it had been his first encounter with a monster. Don't judge. From our spot under the bushes, I looked up, and my eyes almost popped out of my head.
It was a dragon. A big winged, scaly flyer, longer than most small cars, was coming in for a landing. It was black all over, with four legs and two huge, powerful wings pumping the air. Finally, it landed in the dirt by the pile, and I noticed two things. Firstly, it had a bundle of fabric and more support rods in its front legs, which it put down on top of the pile already there. Secondly, someone was riding it.
Before I could stop him, Nico shot out from the brush, talking fast and loud. "Is that a dragon? That's so cool! What kind of attack power does it have? How come it's not in my game? Are you Hiccup? Is that your real name? Why is that your real name?" The figure quickly dismounted and put a hand out to stop Nico from getting any closer. Then the other hand removed the full face helmet and I got another shock to add to my growing list. Hiccup was a dude. A dude in a girls-only camp.
The new guy grinned at Nico. "Yes, he's a dragon. He's got a lot of firepower, and some other stuff. He's not in your game because he's not well known. And yes, I'm Hiccup, but it's a nickname I got from Lady Artemis. My real name is Hank." The dragon behind him did something that sounded like laughter, and the guy smacked him on the side of the head. "Yeah, that's a real big help, bud." He turned back to us and asked, "Want to help set up the kennels?"
Nico nodded like his he was a bobble-head and raced forward. I said something really intelligent like, "Uh…" But Hiccup didn't seem to mind he just looked at me and gestured toward the pile again.
I walked toward the pile and grabbed one of the poles. "So," I asked, "how'd you end up with the hunters?"
He looked at me, looked at the pole, and said, "Can you put that down and grab one of the bigger ones with a Y-shape on top? They're the support beams." I did as he asked, and thought he was dodging my question until he said, "I've always been able to see non-humans. Toothless here hung out in my dad's backyard. We became friends when I was a kid, and he sort of acted as my gateway into this world. Now, put the flat end of the pole in the ground and hold it straight up."
I did as he asked. He planted his pole, threw one of the lighter ones in between with the ends resting in each bigger poles' Y. "When I found out that Artemis was the goddess of wild things, I started praying to her, to thank her for Toothless. That's when she noticed me." He brushed his bangs out of his face and grabbed the largest piece of fabric. That, he draped over the three poles and checked to make sure it was even on both sides.
I went around the tent so I could ask him more. Now that I wasn't in total shock, I noticed the guy was probably a good ten years older than me and was covered in a mismatch of leather armor, buckles, and patches of scale that looked like they'd come from his dragon. "I though Lady Artemis hates men," I said as he took a small mallet out of a loop on his belt and started pounding something that looked like a wooden U into the ground.
He looked up at me again, and this time, he was grinning. "Lady Artemis doesn't like men who think being male makes you better, especially if a man mistreats a woman or an animal. But she can get along with them occasionally. I mean, she gets along with her brother most of the time, and he's not the most modest guy."
I blinked. "You've met Apollo?"
He shrugged and went to the other side of the tent to hammer in his weird tent stakes. "He sort of hangs around me when he comes to visit. I think he thinks I'm secretly a girl or something and is trying to find me out." He smirked. "Artemis did not like it when she saw him trying to flirt with me."
The tent was mostly set up now, but I still had more questions. "Then how do the rest of the hunters treat you? Don't they all hate men too?"
Nico poked his head up from where he'd been bugging Toothless, which I assumed was the dragon's name. "What do you mean, Percy? Do all these girls hate me?"
Hiccup laughed. "No, you're too young for that. None of them probably hate you, since you're still a kid. And me, well, they all know I'm devoted to their lady, so most put up with me as long as I don't get too close. It's enough that I get to study all the different animals we encounter." He looked at the finished tent. "We should probably get back to Lady Artemis now. Toothless, stay here." The dragon nodded and we headed back into the center of the now fully assembled camp.
This story was born from two AMVs that had the same music for the different series, and from the fact that Rick's books miss an important characteristic of the Greek myths. There are a lot of stories of a regular mortal having a great devotion to one god, getting that god's attention, and receiving something wonderful for their devotion. So I thought, what if Hiccup was a clear-sighted mortal who had a great devotion to the goddess of wildlife? And this was born.
Review and tell me what you think!