Chapter 11

                Hunter looked around and saw Rachel Elizabeth Dare standing in the middle of the room. Chiron, Mr. D, Alex, and some other campers were all in the Big house when Hunter got there. Hunter walked in and Orion quickly trotted up next to him. Chiron turned to Alex and the other campers. “All of you will be leaving tonight. Please get yourselves ready.” Chiron watched as the Big house slowly emptied.
                “Good luck, Alex. Stay safe.” Hunter said that to Alex as she passed by. Alex nodded and walked out. “So what is it? What do you have for me?” Hunter beamed with anticipation.
                “Well, listen up. This one hit me like a ton of bricks. This is a big one.” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath then recited the prophecy.
The Ophiotaurus lies, in Olympus, safe and sound
so to kill a god a weapon must be found
The first son of the stag and Camp Half-Blood’s best
will return to their home, but first they go west
Find the eldest son of Pontus to learn where to go.
They will find peace and an advantage if they follow what he shows.
The Daimon of deceit will be laying in wait
but the heroes of name will be far too late
His former father will show them the way
to get back out into the light of day
The temple to the strategist’s greatest son is where the true enemy will be cast
But an even greater deception will be finally revealed at last.
A couple against the enemy stands
Their fates, unknown, lie in the three sisters’ hands.
                “Because you probably didn’t get all that, I’ve written it down.” Rachel Elizabeth Dare handed a Hunter a slip of paper with the prophecy written down on it. Hunter had heard and lingered on every syllable.
                “Oh thanks.” Hunter was already thinking about the quest ahead of him. “’Camp Half-Blood’s best.’ Who is that? I understand that I’m the son of the stag but who are Camp Half-Blood’s best?”
                “Well, Hunter. Part of this is up to you.  We are giving you a choice of companions, but they must be from this pool. This is a list of the best of the best of Camp Half-Blood.” Chiron handed the list to Hunter who immediately started looking through it. In every aspect of training and skill there was a list of who was the best. Everything from canoeing to controlling plants. Hunter leafed through it.
                “So I can pick any of the campers on this list? How many?”
                “We’re not going to limit you, but keep it reasonable.” Hunter thought back to the girl who he had just practiced archery with that morning.
                “What about Alex? Is she leaving?”
                “She was given a quest. She was assigned with the task of retrieving the Aulos of Athena. She cannot go with you. Any of the others on the list are open, though.” Hunter continued to look through the list in an attempt to assemble the all-star team that would accompany him on this quest. He saw Marina. He thought about how she had been there for him. He realized that this was an easy decision. He returned the list to Chiron.
                “I’ve made my choice, Chiron. I’d like Marina Goldman, Kyle Julius, and Will Monterey. I want them to accompany me on this journey.” Right then Hunter heard a bark from the corner. “Oh and of course Orion.”
                “Good choices. They will be loyal companions for your upcoming adventure. Make sure to inform them as soon as possible.” Hunter nodded.
                “So what exactly am I doing on this quest? Am I retrieving a musical instrument, too?”
                “Actually, you are calming a potential war between the gods. Hunter, for some reason the gods’ tempers are starting to near a boiling point. They are becoming untrusting of almost everyone. The effects of whatever is causing this are affecting each god differently. The…symptoms are also affecting more prominent gods more gradually. That’s why Artemis wasn’t showing many signs when she was here. No doubt she’s started to show indications of the curse or whatever it is. You’re being sent to find the source of the curse.  Your first stop it seems is San Francisco. You need to find the eldest son of Pontus, Nereus. If you defeat him, he will answer any question you have. He’ll be pretty easy to pick out from the group.”
                “San Francisco? By the time I get there all the gods could be dead. I’ll never get there in time.”
                “Well, we’ve taken care of that.” Hunter watched as a very old looking man came strolling out from a back room. He was tall and had broad shoulders. At one time, surely, he was a great example of health, but now he had razor stubble and the start of a potbelly. He was wearing a white t-shirt under some loose-fitting golden armor with dust still clinging to it.
                “The name’s Helios, kid. The best charioteer in the past 4,000 years.”
                “The sun? I’m hitching a ride to San Francisco with the former sun god?”
                “Hey! The downsizing those blasted Romans did may have cost me my job, but my chariot still works fine!”
                “Helios has, thankfully, offered to give you and the other three a ride to San Francisco. He still has a flying chariot. It’s just not the sun. Apollo is in charge of that, now.” Helios’ eyes started to glow like an ember from a fire.
                “Apollo! That…pretty boy! He’s not man enough to drive the sun! I’m twice the man He’ll ever be!” Helios, in his fuming, had tired himself and was now sitting in a chair, breathing heavily, saliva in his facial hair. Everyone in the room stood silent for a second until Chiron broke the silence.
                “So we need you to leave tomorrow morning so make sure that you, Kyle, Marina, and Will are all ready to leave, by then.” Hunter nodded and turned to leave when he heard a bark. “Oh and of course Orion.” Hunter looked back and saw Orion go from angry barking to calm rest.
                “Thank you, sir.” Hunter opened the door and Marina and Kyle almost fell down. “How long have you been listening in?” Hunter helped them up and then kept walking towards Hermes cabin.
                “Listening in? I’m offended that you would accuse me of such an insensitive and heinous act.” Kyle said hiding his eyes from Hunter.
                “I wouldn’t say that we were listening in. We were…. just walking by when we heard our names and made an extra effort to listen.” Hunter finally arrived at Hermes cabin and walked in. Will wasn’t there. Hunter thought for a second then left, heading toward the arena. “What are you looking for?” Marina asked.
                “I gotta tell Will to pack up. He’s coming with us or did you miss that part?” Hunter flashed a smile back at Kyle and Marina.
                “I heard it, Hunter.” Kyle said. Marina slapped him in the back of the head. “Marina. Seriously. It’s becoming tender back there.”
                “You two are cute, you know that? Like a married couple.” Hunter was still walking toward the arena. Marina and Kyle turned bright red. The two of them had first met 4 years ago through Hunter. It didn’t take long for the two of them to develop feelings for each other. They had both privately expressed their feelings for the other to Hunter.
                “Shut up, Hunter!” They both said, in unison. Hunter got a huge smile on his face and entered the arena. He looked around. There were some people practicing, but none of them were Will.
                “Maybe we should check the beach. I’ve seen him down there before.” Hunter shrugged and headed off towards the beach.