When Hunter woke up it was dark. His stomach grumbled a sign of hunger. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and sat up a little in the tree. He started to refamiliarize himself with his location in the woods. He was just about to hop down when he heard Orion barking from below. He looked around the woods in the direction that Orion was growling. He didn’t see anything so he hopped down. Staying close to the base of the tree he put a hand in Orion’s collar. He crouched down and started petting Orion in an attempt to calm him down. He had just started to stand up when he heard a much louder, growl coming from somewhere behind him. He turned around to see a bear, on its back legs, staring right at Hunter. Hunter jumped back behind Orion and drew his bow. The bow was something that he was given during his first days as a camper. Nothing special about it except for his name which he carved into it at several different point in several different languages. He notched an arrow and aimed straight at the bear’s eye. If he took the shot, the bear would be dead. Something inside him told him to not fire. Every instinct said, ‘kill the bear,’ but something small, like a voice, told him that there was another way. Hunter put down his bow and took a step forward. He slowly advanced toward the bear until he was three feet away. He stared at the bear. He held out his hand. The bear dropped to all fours and stared at the hand. Hunter stood his ground, even though in his mind he was screaming. Hunter took a step toward the bear. Then another step and pretty soon his hand was right in front of the bear’s face. The bear looked at Hunter’s hand then sniffed it. Hunter looked away. If he was going to have his hand bitten off he’d rather not want to see it happen. Suddenly, he felt a very large, very wet and very rough tongue on his hand. He looked back at his hand which was being licked by the bear. The bear stopped licking and stuck the top of its head under the palm of Hunter’s hand. Hunter thought and the started petting the bear between its ears. This feeling was amazing. He had no idea why he did what he did, but it seemed natural. Off in the distance he heard a roar and the bear perked up and ran off into the woods. Hunter stood there absorbing what seemed like forever but had only been a matter of five minutes. He turned to look at Orion who looked like he was smiling. Or if he were a person he would be smiling. Hunter picked up his things and said, “Alright, boy. Let’s go get dinner.”
When Hunter got to the dining hall, he had already dropped off Orion and his stuff, people were starting to trickle out as he entered. He grabbed a plate and got in line. He scraped the bottom of every pan and pot, the dregs of what was actually for dinner. He dropped some of it into the fire and said, “Here you go…whoever you are.” He sat down at the Hermes table on the far side as to where everyone was. He was pretty much a loner. He never really got to know anyone really well in the entire camp, save Orion or Chiron. Not that he didn’t talk to anyone else, he just never made friends. He scarfed down his meal and went back to his cabin for a little while before camp fire. He sat down on his bed and opened his book. He had just started the Peter Jorgsen & the Norsemen series. It’s about a teenager who finds out the he’s the son of a Norse god. How ridiculous. It’s a good thing that could never actually happen. After a few riveting chapters he tucked the book away and left the cabin. Outside, there was the typical hustle and bustle that occurred before every campfire. He overheard all sorts of conversations that were going on. One Hephaestus camper was talking to himself about the specific threads of a screw he needed for a grappling device he was working on. 3 Apollo campers were exchanging poems and discussing lyrics for a song one of them wrote. Two Aphrodite girls were discussing the hottest guys in the camp. I couldn’t hear every word, when they saw that I was listening they walked off, giggling. I took a seat between Kyle, the son of Demeter, and Marina, the daughter of Hephaestus. He was friendly with those two. Marina was who he got help from when he forged his many test blades. Kyle was a year younger than Hunter, but he had learned about the plants found in the wilderness at the same time. Kyle took to them much easier than Hunter did being a son of Demeter, of course. He had gotten to know the two of them pretty well. He wouldn’t say that they were ‘friends,’ but if he had to choose two other campers to spend time with it would be those two.
“About time you got here.” Kyle said jokingly.
“Oh, Kyle, your razor wit never gets old. How’s the garden coming, you old lady?”
“Great, actually. I made a kind of flower that breathes fire. How’s the hunt for the perfect sword going?”
“Yeah how did that blade we forged turn out?” Marina chimed in.
“More like you forged. It didn’t really work out.”
“This is getting a little ridiculous, Hunter. I mean you do understand that at this point there are more swords than campers at the camp, because none of them are ‘comfortable’ for you. “
“I’m just trying to find where I fit here.” Hunter muttered then studied the ground. He picked up a stick and started pushing the dirt between his legs around.
“I’m sorry, Hunter. I keep forgetting you still haven’t been claimed. It’s been 12 years though. Maybe it’s time to-“
“I will be claimed. I’m not giving up. Parents don’t just give up their children. Not forever.” Hunter was choking back tears.
“You’re right, Hunter. I’m sorry.” Marina looked ashamed.
“Dude, don’t worry about it. Capture the flag is tomorrow. Try focusing on that.” Kyle said, patting Hunter on the back.
“I had a long today. I’m gonna get some shuteye.”
“I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow.” Hunter got up and left before they could stop him. He took a walk around camp before he went to bed just to clear his thoughts. He didn’t belong anywhere. He always had place in Hermes cabin, but he would never consider himself part of the camp. He walked to Half-Blood Hill. He looked over at Peleus, the dragon guarding the fleece hanging from the tree. Peleus was watching him closely, so Hunter kept his distance. He stood there on the hill staring out to the mortal world. He realized, he could leave and that would be that. He would start a life without all of this. Without demigods and without monsters. Without swords and bows and spears. He would live a normal life. He took a few steps outside of the boundary. He stopped. He wanted to look back one last time, and then leave forever. Never coming back. Abandoning this life. He looked back. Staring at the campfire. Looking at all the cabins. Thinking about all the people he has met in his 12 years here. Remembering all of the memories he has here. With that, he hung his head, walked back to the Hermes cabin, slipped into his bunk and fell asleep.