Chapter 9

                It was the next morning, when Hunter was woken up by the sound of loud banging. It took him a minute to recognize that the sound was someone knocking on the door to the cabin. It also took him another minute to remember that he was the only one who could answer the door. Hunter rolled out of bed. He wiped his face off of the dried tears and drool from earlier.  As he walked to the door in the same clothes he wore yesterday he heard his stomach grumble. He went to bed without getting dinner. He opened the door and squinted as the morning sun shown in his face. There stood a very tired looking Will. “Let’s go to breakfast.” Hunter closed the door, changed clothes, and came back out without saying a word. He walked with Will to the dining pavilion, completely silent. It was until they were at the table with their food when Will, finally said, “Hunter, I’m sorry about the things I said yesterday. You’re completely right. I forgot how long you’ve been here. And I forgot how long you went without a parent.” Hunter looked at Will. His face looked sincere enough.
                “I’m sorry, too, man. I know what it’s like to get your hopes up and then have them be shattered with another loose end or another false lead. I shouldn’t have said those things to you. It was uncalled for and harsh. We don’t have to hug now, do we?”
                “We could just shake hands.” Will’s face lightened up as he extended his hand. Hunter grabbed it and they shook hands. They both went back to eating.
                “Hey so did you look at the belt buckle at all? Anything special about it?”
                “It just seems to be a bronze belt buckle with a golden horseshoe on it. There’s nothing special about it. Nothing that I’ve found at least. Here take a look.” Will stood up and took off the belt buckle and handed it to Hunter.
                “So you decided to wear it?” Hunter took the belt buckle.
                “Well, the note said to wear it. And after what you said last night I thought about it and decided that it wouldn’t hurt.” Hunter examined the buckle. Will was right. It was just a bronze belt buckle with a gold horseshoe on it. The strangest thing about it was that it was made of bronze and gold. Other than that it was just a belt buckle.
                “There’s got to be something about it. I mean Hermes only delivers stuff from the gods, so that’s gotta be something from them. I’m sure it’ll come together. The note said it. Your time will come.” Hunter gave Will a hopeful smile and returned to his meal. He finished his meal and walked out. He walked back to his new cabin to grab his bow. When he got there and couldn’t find it he facepalmed when he remembered it was on his wrist. He grabbed his quiver of arrows and headed out to the arena. He arrived to the arena, summoned his bow and loaded an arrow. He faced a dummy and aimed. He took a deep breath and released. The arrow went zooming a little to the left. His old bow had a tendency to curve his arrows. Hunter felt the weight of his silver bow. It was light and solid. It seemed that all of the small imperfections from the creation of this bow were fixed when it was reborn as the bow he held in his hand. “Kate. I’ll call you Kate.” He said to the bow. He loaded another arrow, aimed at the dummy again. He aimed straight for the dummy’s head and fired. The arrow embedded itself into the dummy right in the middle of the head. Hunter smiled. ‘Thanks, Kate’ He thought to himself.
                “Nice shot.” Hunter turned to see a medium height girl, about the same age as Hunter. She had a bow on her shoulder and a quiver of arrows on her back. “Let’s see it again.” Hunter shrugged and aimed. “Stop!” Hunter looked at his new acquaintance.
                “I’m sorry, do I know you?” He asked.
                “The name’s Alexandra Marks. You can call me Alex. Do you mind?” She said as she unshouldered her bow. Hunter didn’t mind her taking a few practice shots, but he was not expecting what she did next.
                “No, not at all.” Hunter shrugged and watched as she walked over to Hunter and started tapping with one end of her bow in a dozen different places, in an attempt to ‘correct’ Hunter’s posture. Hunter stopped her in the middle of her correction. “I’m sorry, but I’ve been practicing archery, I found out recently, since the day I was born. I don’t think my posture needs ‘correction.’”
                “Oh? You willing to put that to the test.” Hunter watched as a smile spread across Alex’s face. She opened up a worn out book and after a few minutes held her hand up and smiled at it. “You’re going to hit this.” Hunter looked quizzically at her.
                “I’m going to fire an arrow at your hand? Are you sure?”
                “No! Of course not! You’re going to aim for what I’m holding in my hand. It’s an invisible disc.”
                “Okay…I’m always looking for a challenge, but I can’t do the impossible.”
                “Picture it,” she said, her voice smooth. “Small, circular, flat and very fast. You'll train your eye to see it. Once thrown it has its own path. Eventually it'll latch onto something.” She smirked as she loosened her grip on the disc. “You need to hit it before it latches. So, you up for it?” Hunter tried to picture his target. A smooth disc wooshing through the air. He tightened his grip on his silver bow.
                “I’m ready.” He watched as Alex’s arm snapped upward. Hunter tried to follow it and saw a short glint of light. He fired straight at it and watched as his arrow went soaring over the Arena wall. ‘Crap!’ he thought to himself. Alex tried to hide her smile
                “Alright now. Would you like to accept some help and learn how to correctly hit the targets.” Hunter had always hated making mistakes, especially when he was unclaimed. Now he felt like he was letting Artemis down.
                “I’m always ready to improve.”
                “Good.” Alex walked over and spent 15 minutes correcting Hunter’s posture again. “Alright now here take this.” She held out one of the invisible discs. After a couple tries Hunter finally got a tight grasp. “’Know thy enemy’ you know? Feel it, touch it, memorize everything about it. Words from my mom, Athena, herself.” Hunter felt the disc. It was very smooth and surprisingly light.
                “Okay, so now I shoot it?” Hunter asked.
                “No first you wait while I fix your posture again!” Alex poked him into correctness again. “Alright, now I’ll show you how it’s done.” She loaded an arrow and took her stance. “It’s set on slow. Throw it.” Hunter waited, and then threw the disc up into the air and looked up in an attempt to see what she sees. He saw the glint of light, he had seen earlier. Hunter watched as Alex’s arrow hit its mark. The disc burst into a ball of light, shimmered, and then disappeared. “Alright now it’s your turn.” Hunter gritted his teeth and took the correct posture.
                “Ready.” He gripped his bow and waited for his target was released.
                “It’s set on slow. Be ready.” Alex snapped her arm upward, releasing the disc. Hunter waited for the glint of light he had seen before and, this time, adjusted for it. His arrow flew straight and collided with his target, which burst into a ball of light and disappeared. Hunter gave a radiant smile. “Good job. Are you ready for multiple targets?” Alex said with a smirk. The two of them took turns throwing and shooting and after a few times Hunter was able to do multiple targets on fast difficulty. He was just finishing a set of 4 when he heard a voice that didn’t belong to Alex.
                “Nice shot. Just as I had expected from my star pupil.” Hunter turned around and saw Chiron trotting towards him.
                “Thanks. I learned from the best.” Hunter said. He turned Kate back into his watch. “Chiron…I don’t even know where to begin.”
                “Well, then I will.” He turned to Alex. “If you would excuse us, miss Marks…” Alex got the message and excused herself.
“Thanks for the help, Alex.” Hunter said. “I’ll see you around camp.”
“Anytime, Hunter. See you around.” She walked out of the arena. Chiron turned back to Hunter.
“Congratulations on your acceptance into the Hunters. How do you like your new cabin?”
                “It’s fine. But I-“ Hunter was trying to word the question to which he really wanted the answer.
                “And how is your new bow working out?” Chiron was dodging the question.
                “I like it, but Chiron-“
                “Do you feel all recovered from your fight with the chimera?
                “Yeah I’m fine. Chiron I-
                “And what of-“ Hunter interrupted.
                “CHIRON! Slow down and let me think. I’ve always been able to talk to you. Heck, you practically raised me.” Hunter sorted through his thoughts. “Did you know?”
                “Hunter, there were thousands of times I wanted to tell you. I wanted you to tell you so bad. Artemis may seem like flowers to you, but she would kill me in a heartbeat. It took thousands of years for her to trust me enough to let her Hunters be left in the camp. Do you have any idea the power she has if she gets angry? A friend of mine once tracked mud into one of her temples. She turned him into a jackalope. A jackalope!”
“Why is she so nice to me, then? I’m a man and I’ve known her for a shorter time than you have.”
“Hunter when you were a child she took care of you because you were a child. The Hunters that trained you came to trust you. She sent you away and wiped your memory for a reason. She saw something in you that she hadn’t seen in a long time, but she wanted to give it time to see it come to fruition.” Hunter thought back to his conversation with Artemis. Nothing came to mind.
“What was it? What did she see in me that came to fruition now?” Chiron got a soft look in his eyes.
“Hunter, you remind her of Orion.”