Hostile Waters

I was walking the green fields of Camp Half-Blood, avoiding the sleeping Peleus curled around his tree, and enjoying the sun. Mom had been cool, giving me a brand new sword, housed in its plain sheath, and a set of armor that was sitting in my cabin. She tried to get me to replace my shield, but I was adamant about that. No way I'd lose my friend's shield. Richard had suffered enough in the Titan War to last a lifetime. I wasn't about to dishonor him by putting down his shield.

It was top-of-the-line, Richard's masterpiece. He was a Son of Hephaestus, so that was saying something. I hefted it, the weight familiar and welcome. On it was emblazoned a flaming set of scales. For Nemesis's balance, and for Hephaestus's fire. I was a son of the Goddess of Balance. I was by the canoe lake when I saw the Naiads. I waved to them, and one popped out of the water and landed on the shore, eyeing me coldly.

"Another one of the Titan's traitors." She said with contempt. She then flashed me a rather sharp-toothed smile. "I don't suppose that you have the summer registration form, traitor? It would be a shame if you didn't. The consequences could be... rather harsh." I never said which side of the war Richard and I were on. Many campers had hostility for us, to say the least. I shook my head, saying, "No." as simply as I could. She smiled delightedly and clapped, as she fell backwards into the water, drifting to the bottom. I... was she joking? It was the last day of camp for the summer, but some of the campers were staying for the year. Couldn't I stay too?

I wandered the grounds, most eyeing me coldly as the sun dropped behind the hills. Then some warmer gazes were turned on me. But not more friendly ones.

Demented Chickens

No sooner did the sun set, then some odd fat ladies shuffled around, asking for registration forms from all of those present. I panicked for a second, but then figured that one of the ladies could help me. When one came around, the first thing I noticed was the feathers. I tried not to look, but her arms were wings. Harpies were always annoying in Cronus's war. I ignored my growing apprehension, and before she asked, I told her, "I don't have a sheet. Can you tell me where to get one?"

She was silent, just like everyone in earshot, before she shrieked with a screeching, piercing voice that caused me to grab my ears in pain, hitting myself on the head with the edge of my shield. Genius.

"I've got one! I found dinner!" A flock of Harpies almost instantly appeared overhead, shrieking and clucking like demented chickens. The campers around me parted, and one girl yelled, "Run!", pushing me towards the woods. I stumbled forwards, and the demigods parted before me, letting me run. I made it to the lake, and heard the Naiads laughing. The weight of the shield comforted me, but I wasn't stupid enought to take out my sword mid-sprint. That's almost as bad as running with scissors. With an explosive on them. And the scissors are the trigger.

I made through the woods to the creek, startling two dryads, leaping over a scorpion, and interrupting one make-out session between a Satyr and a tree that I hoped was a Dryad. I stood panting, and tried to ready myself for the Harpies. My sword was in my hand, and my shield was held loosely. I shook my head, waiting for the monsters.

It didn't take long for the first of the Flight of Fatties found her way to the clearing, gasping as she struggled to stay above the treetops, failing the struggle a few times. She shrieked the whole time, and shrieked even louder when she spotted me. She dive-bombed me, and I scrambled out of-the way. She hit the ground at a good fifty mph, spraying yellow dust everywhere as her soul went to Tartarus. One down, forty-nine to go.

The Other Forty Nine

It was actually only forty-six more. There were forty-seven in all, so there were forty-six left. I say this because I want to know how many I get before they got me. I was able to block a few strikes from their claws, as I slashed back, trying to fight my way to a tree. If I had one at my back, they couldn't get behind me. I suffered a few scratches, one big punch to the ribs that I'm sure was accidental, and a gash on my fore-head that would likely scar. A permanent reminder to get my damn slip in on time.

I'd gotten three more on the way to the tree, spraying dust and feathers on the others. The Harpies treated this like a competition rather then a hunt. They hit each other, trying to get to me just as much or more as they actually hit me. I did manage to make it to the tree as I held the three-foot shield in front of me. The shield failed its last master, Richard, but Nemesis was balance. It would succeed where it failed last. I bashed the Harpies with my shield, stabbed them with my sword, slashed until I couldn't slash anymore. Then I kept slashing.

I managed to get their numbers down to ten, which was good and bad for me. Good in that most were gone now. Bad in the way that they were almost few enough not to have to fight each other to get at me. When the circle was smaller, I would have no way to stop them all. I fought on, killing three more in quick succession. Then a tree killed me.

A Tree (Almost) Kills Me

I didn't know that the tree I was against was a Dryad's tree. Honest. But I knew when I accidentally hit the roots on the follow through of an unsuccesful slash. I knew when she appeared in a poof of green smoke in a gossamer dress, twigs in her hair, and hopped around, saying "Ouch" over and over loudly enough to drown out the Harpies. And I knew she was a Dryad when she stamped her hurt foot, yelled "Ouch" again, and pushed me into the 10 Harpies. I flailed about, dropping my sword, but managed to strike a few of the Harpies. Eventually, about five figured out teamwork fast enough to bring me into the air. One had each arm and leg, and one was holding me by my torso. I was facing the sky, so I couldn't very well know how high up I was. They brought me back to the main camp, screeching and hooting, and the one that had my left arm slipped, and when she let go, the ones on my chest and other arm let go. The Harpies that weren't carrying me scolded the others, saying "Nobody likes flat meat." I could now see that I was high enough to die at this height. Nobody liked to be flat meat either.

Three of the Harpies that had yet to do anything grabbed me and flew me the rest of the way to wherever we were headed. Just as I was worried that they'd all die of exhaustion, they dropped me into a pit, that opened up into a large system of caves. As I tried to gather my wits, the Harpies came immediately, tying me up with some old rope. One started heating water by putting a few drops of lava in it. I tried to stay calm. If they were to eat me, the scales would balance eventually. They'd go through the same pain as me. It's how things go.

But that didn't mean I'd give up. One Harpy was sharpening knives, and leaving them a little too close to me. I reached for one with my tied hands, and managed to just touch it when one of the Harpies squawked at me, grabbed my hand with a feathered, winged one, and bit me. A few fingers came off. I screamed, and pulled my hand back to look at the bleeding stumps on my left hand. She took two knuckles on my pointer and middle fingers. But some sharp bones were sticking out. I felt tears traveling down my face from the pain while I started sawing with the jagged bones. I got through them, but waited. The one that bit me was going last, and it would be slow. So I waited for her to leave, to ask Chiron for some seasoning. I smiled, and grabbed the closest knife in my right hand. I started slashing and stabbing at the Harpies, who were hurt, but unfazed otherwise. The knife was steel, not bronze.

I didn't care. I cut the rope binding my ankles easily and ran into the nearest cave that I could. I kept running until I found an opening back into the woods. I ran past a startled kid opening some hanger doors in a mountain and through the woods, cursing at the Dryad's tree as I passed it. I was out of breath, stopped by the tree long enough to sling my shield on my mutilated arm, grab my sword and put it in the sheath, (still not running with swords) and ran to the Big House.

The Deal

I made it to the main room, and saw a Harpy, the one that took my fingers, talking to Chiron. I whistled loudly, fingers in my mouth to make the noise, and grabbed my sword from its sheath. The Harpy squawked and hid behind Charon. I advanced, planning to shove the centaur if need be, despite the fact that I probably couldn't move him if wanted to. He put a hand out and made a calming gesture to me, (it didn't work), and asked me what the problem was. I showed him my fingers. He nodded, and asked the Harpy why she ate my fingers. She aid that I didn't have that gods cursed slip of paper.

"No one told me!" I shouted angrily. "No one gave me one!" She ignored me and said that the rules let her eat any campers that don't have their slips. I shook my head. "Great! Let's just kill the demigods that this camp is here to protect. Makes sense." Chiron told us both to settle down, like someone would to their two-year-old.

"What about a trade? You understand trades, being a son of Nemesis?" He asked. I nodded, and offered my terms.

"They stop trying to eat me, and I only kill her." I said, pointing at the Harpy behind him. She shrieked her counter offer of giving me fifty drachmas to eat my left arm. I simply took a step towards her angrily, and bared my shield at her when she showed her talons. I shook my head. Mother wouldn't be happy with any of these deals.

"Final offer." I said. "I cut off a few of your fingers, and we're even." She was about to squawk a no, when I focused on her. It was a fair deal. That means anyone on either side should accept it. "Fine." she said shakily, waddling up to me and offering her hand, buried in feathers to me. I cut two of her fingers off, quickly, and stepped back as they fell and turned into a golden sand. "Now," I said, "If there are no others set on eating me, I'm going to bed."

I walked out of the Big House, exhausted from the day, the fighting, the near-death, the deal making, and the finger losing. I went to the off side of the porch, entered the door to medical, and swigged some nectar. I then tried to walk home, when I saw a Hellhound, with its black skin and ivory fangs, burst into the cabin area of the Camp.

"Seriously, mom? Really?" I yelled, the Hellhound hearing me, and zeroing in. I sighed. No rest for the recently wounded.