Hey guys!

This one-shot is in response to the Nature Challenge in the forum Camp Jupiter - War Games!

There is some cursing and a spooky (hopefully?) story here so you've been warned.

Also, I didn't have the time to edit before publishing but I'll get to it as soon as possible.

Please remember to fav, follow and review! Cheers for reading!

Name: Kate.

Cohort/Team: Third/Offense.

Prompt: 5. Spooky campfire stories.

Word count: 2604.


"Deep Into The Woods."

Until nightfall, everything had been going relatively okay.

Sure, Annabeth was slightly terrified at the idea of encountering any spiders but really, Percy had sworn he would kill them before Annabeth even noticed them and honestly, when had he lied to her?

So, when Percy suggested they all went camping to celebrate their graduation from high school, Annabeth had only needed a little coaxing before agreeing.

Really, Percy's idea had actually been good at the time. The drive towards the Camping in Montauk had been filled with laughter and silly arguments as Leo wouldn't stop singing Taylor Swift' songs, Nico and Piper argued over who had eaten less Doritos and therefore, deserved to have the few remaining by the bottom of the bag. Percy, Jason and Frank argued over which was the best snack for a campfire while Annabeth watched on with a mix of exasperation and amusement.

By the front of the van, Reyna and Hazel were in complete silence. Reyna because she was the driver so it was taking all of her concentration to focus on the road and ignore the petty children she was fool enough to call her friends. Hazel because she was completely entranced by the nature around her as the sun basked them all in golden light and the merry spirits of being on vacation made her even more cheerful than normal.

But anyways, despite all petty arguments and behaviors, they managed to arrive. The sun was high in the sky, the clouds were nonexistent and they were presented with the promise of a day spent at the beach with their friends.

Annabeth climbed down from the van and took a deep breath, the first breath of fresh air she'd taken in a couple of hours.

Then, she glanced at Percy and a smile spread across her lips.

Sometimes, sometimes her Seaweed Brain was right.

By nightfall, Annabeth was exhausted.

She hadn't realized it before but it was quite tiring, spending the whole day at the beach. Sure, she'd had fun but between swimming with Percy, pulling pranks on Leo with the help of Jason and Nico, and playing volleyball as the sun beat down on them, it was no wonder that Annabeth felt ready to sleep for an year by the time the group sat around the unlit campfire.

Still, she didn't want to sleep. She wanted to soak into the peaceful, happy environment she was in. She wanted to rejoice in the feeling of Percy's shoulder pressed right against hers. She wanted to record Nico's, Piper's and Reyna's laughter as Jason failed to start a fire. She wanted to commit Leo's smirk as he started the fire seamlessly to memory. Twenty years later, she wanted to remember Hazel and Frank cuddled up to each other, lost in their small world.

Around her, the scene was one fit for the most wonderful of evenings with her friends. The crackling sound from the fire was the only one that broke the comfortable, peaceful silence around them. Distantly, Annabeth could hear mumbles from other families or groups of friends who were also getting ready to spend the evening before turning in.

Though the smell of the green forest had been overpowering until then, it had now been defeated by the soothing smell from the fireplace as the logs were slowly consumed. That and the smell of the barbecue Leo was working on had Annabeth leaning her head against Percy's shoulder and smiling blissfully as she felt his lips kissing her forehead.

Annabeth couldn't help but wish she was an artist, so she could record that wonderful moment for the future. After all, it was a moment that just couldn't get better.

"Hey, what do you say about telling spooky stories?"

It could only get worse.

"You and your damn stories," Piper snapped at Jason, who only smirked in retaliation. "Why the need to scare us?"

"What is a campfire without the spooky stories?" Leo argued, nodding when Jason clasped his shoulder in gratefulness. "Live a little, Pipes."

"Being scared is living, Valdez?" Annabeth quipped in, her gray eyes flashing dangerously as they settled on her friend.

Leo smiled mischievously. "I'm friends with you, aren't I?"

"Okay!" Percy intervened loudly before Annabeth could chase her idiotic elf of a friend. "Leo, please stop messing with my girlfriend. One day she'll kill and you will only have yourself to blame."

"I'd pay good money to see that," Nico mumbled as he buried his hands in the pockets of his black jacket.

"So would I," Hazel nodded at her brother before shrugging innocently as Leo glared at her.

Frank, always the peacemaker, cleared his throat. "Shall we take a vote?"

One by one, everyone agreed to the activity, although some were more reluctant than others. At last, Jason nodded excitedly before taking off his glasses to clean them. "Okay, who goes first?"

"I have a story."

Everyone turned to Reyna, who was staring at the fire, ignorant to everyone's stares. She was wearing a simple black t-shirt and a purple pair of shorts but her presence was intimidating regardless of what she wore. Her long braid fell down her back and her dark eyes made her look like a warrior queen, even as a cloud of mosquitoes swarmed past her.

Annabeth didn't have to look around her to know they were all completely terrified.

"Um," Jason began weakly. "Are you sure?"

"Hey, you started this." Piper taunted her boyfriend with a small smirk, her skin paler as she nervously glanced at Reyna. "Now deal with it."

"Whoever is less scared with the story gets to ride shotgun when we go back," Nico suggested, his gaze amused as it flickered between the group. "Deal?"

"Damn it," Frank cursed under his breath. "I'm doomed to be squished in the back seat."

That comment managed to elicit nervous laughter from the group, the tension momentarily dissolved as Frank blushed beet-red and buried his face in Hazel's shoulder.

Reyna, however, didn't laugh. She remained still, her eyes flickering through the dark forest behind Annabeth and Percy and slowly, the others followed her gaze, eerie silence falling amongst the group.

Annabeth could feel her heart hammering nervously in her chest and, though she couldn't risk looking scared if she wanted to win the bet, she still felt free to glare with passionate anger at Jason.

Damn him and his stupid ideas.

"I've been thinking about this story ever since we arrived here, as it happened in a forest similar to this one, a long time ago." Reyna's voice was soft as she recounted the story. Her eyes were fixed on the fire before her, yet lost, as if her sight was stuck in another reality.

Reyna had always been the sort of person who didn't need to speak up in order to be heard; her presence alone was enough to get the attention of the others. That night wasn't the exception, for her friends listened with a mixture of enrapture and horrifying tension.

"A long time ago, a family lived deep into the woods. So much time has passed that their names have been forgotten, and even their physical description have been surrendered into oblivion. Still, their story hasn't, for some stories are so important that not even time represents a worthy opponent." Reyna continued, clearly lost in her own little world and ignorant to her friends' fear.

Annabeth closed her eyes, soaking in Reyna's tale, for it was told in a mesmerizing way in spite of the terror it was causing her.

"The family was poor, and depended on what the father was able to hunt in order to survive." Reyna's voice had dropped into a whisper but by then, not even Leo had the nerve to interrupt the tale. Slowly, Reyna's soft voice had changed the environment surrounding the group of friends so at last, it had gone from cheerful to nerve-wracking. "And though they were fine during summer and spring, things were more difficult by the time winter came. The father always tried to keep some of what he hunted freezing until the winter but it always became rotten before the crudeness of winter truly affected them and one winter, when it had been weeks since the father was last able to get his family food, his one and only daughter became ill."

"Oh no," Hazel whispered, her eyes wide with apprehension as she covered her mouth with her hands in panic of having cut the story.

Reyna was ignorant to Hazel's whisper, and so were the others as they stared at the intimidating girl. "The father tried everything to make her better but there was nothing to be done. His daughter needed food, food that he couldn't provide for her. As his daughter's life slipped away right before his very eyes, he became more and more resolved and, at last, when it looked as the daughter was not going to survive the night, he lit the biggest fire he could with what little wood he had left, and disappeared into the night."

"Where-," Leo's voice cracked so after clearing his throat, he tried again. "Where did he go?"

Annabeth opened her eyes at that, in time to see her friends leaning forwards with hesitation, as if they were desperate to hear the rest of the story...yet it was the last thing they wanted to do.

"He went to see a witch who was rumoured to be living in the forest, even deeper to where he and his daughter were." Reyna replied, though it didn't seem as if she'd heard Leo. Her eyes were now studying the forest, almost as if she expected someone to come running from them at any moment. "He fought through the snow and the freezing of the unforgiving air and at last, he managed to get to the wooden cabin. The witch answered his call, and invited him in."

Everyone held an expectant breath, their eyes wide as they prepared themselves to hear what happened next.

"The father demanded to be granted a spell with which he could save his daughter," Reyna told, her hands performing wide motions, as if she was imagining the witch performing the spell asked by the father. "The witch warned him that magic always comes with a prize but the father wouldn't hear about it. He wanted to save his daughter, and save his daughter he would. So, she performed the spell."

"What happened next?" Nico was the one who asked now, trying to adopt a nonchalant expression as Annabeth looked at him. Annabeth wasn't fooled, though. She knew Nico wasn't sitting so straight and tense because it was good for his posture.

"When the father woke up the next day, the first thing he noticed was that he was wearing a white shirt and pants, so white that he fought the snow had made those clothes for him." Reyna lowered her voice even more, but she was still perfectly heard. "The next thing he noticed was that he was outside his cabin, laying on the bright snow with the sun right above his face. There were no signs of the witch so the father ran towards his cabin, intending to check on his daughter but as he reached for the handle, he couldn't touch it."

Reyna paused, almost as if gathering her thoughts but no one dared to pressure her to continue. Looking around her, Annabeth was sure no one could even try, for they seemed to be holding a collective breath.

Besides her, Percy wrapped an arm around her and nervously looked behind him towards the forest. If she hadn't been so scared, Annabeth would have laughed.

She couldn't even think about the bet, though. All she wanted was to know what happened with the father and his daughter.

"The father's desperation grew as he tried to open the door to no avail. He imagined his daughter inside, weakened and famished, and the urge to see her became so big, so strong that at last, it seemed as if a fire had been lit inside of him, a fire that gave him the strength to do even the impossible," Reyna suddenly began speaking louder, as if the tension of the story was forcing her to speak more passionately. "He didn't realize how until much later but in the split of a moment, he found himself inside an empty cabin. There were no signs of the witch and his daughter...all of her belongings had been cleared, almost as if she had never lived there."

"You see, the witch said there would be a price," Reyna carried on before her friends could even register the weight of her story. "And a price there was. By saving his daughter's life, the father sacrificed his so, while the father died, the witch took the daughter with plans of making her her apprentice. They disappeared into the snow before the father's ghost - summoned through the love he had for his daughter - woke up from his long sleep. Some say that the ghost of the father wanders through the woods, in search of his long lost daughter and that those who get a glimpse of his white clothes are never the same."

It took them a second to understand the story was over and, as if they'd woken up from a long dream, the group of friends looked at each other nervously.

"Dude, that was downright terrifying," Nico finally quipped in with a proud smirk. "There's a reason why we are best friends."

Besides Annabeth, Percy cleared his throat before smiling at Annabeth, then at the others. "What do we do now?"

The group laughed, the tension dissipating gradually, though their eyes remained away from the woods around them.

A week later, their belongings were all stuffed in the van and they were ready to go back home.

Minus Reyna, the group stood in a line as they stared at the van with critical eyes.

"So, who won the bet?" Jason asked just as Reyna walked past him and opened the door to the front seat of the van, therefore claiming shotgun. "What do you think you are doing?"

"Oh please, we all know I'm the only one who wasn't scared," Reyna declared from her seat, raising her eyebrows in defiance as she looked at all of her friends in turns. "Well? Is anybody bold enough to challenge me?"

For a long moment, everyone looked at her with pursed lips before Percy sighed. He kissed Annabeth's temple before walking to the driver's seat. "I'm the best driver after Reyna."

"Okay, new rule." Leo paused to grunt as Nico threw a rolled-up sleeping bag at his head. Then, he glared at Reyna, who had stretched comfortably on her seat and was scrolling through her ipod. "We are never again letting Reyna tell a story. Are we clear?"

"Do you actually think I wasn't about to do my best to get the best seat in order to avoid seating with you heathens?" Reyna called in return, turning to smirk at Leo as he struggled to form a coherent thought. "Really, Leo, I thought you were smarter than that."

"I don't know whether to hate you or to feel attracted by you," Leo managed to retaliate at last, cackling when Piper and Hazel hit him across the back of his head.

"Either way, I don't care." Reyna smiled smugly before glancing at the rest. "I do feel gracious enough to be the DJ of this trip. What do you guys want me to put?"

"Taylor Swift?" Piper suggested weakly.