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After that, I stayed at Lotus for a while. When I decided to try Camp Half-Blood again, it was the mid-2000s real time.

Alright, take me to Camp Half-Blood this time.

I appeared standing under the biggest pine tree I had ever seen. I mean seriously, it made the White House christmas tree look like a sapling. But the valley I was looking out over was even more impressive. An enormous blue farm house headed the most random assortment of buildings I'd ever seen. Two white columned classic Greek buildings sat at the top of the inverted U shape. To the direct left from closest to farthest:

A low gray building studded with seashells,

A red building with crossed spears above the door,

A solid gold building that reflected so much sunlight it was painful to look at,

A building with smokestacks like a miniature factory,

And an average old, weathered summercamp cabin.

Then to the direct right from closest to farthest:

A chartruse cabin surrounded by a flower garden,

A silvery cabin with a metal owl above the door,

A cabin that glowed silver in the dusk,

A hot pink building with roses growing in a window box,

And a purple building with with grapevines growing around it.

In the center of the buildings was a bright orange Hearth, and tending the flames, an old friend.

"Hestia!"

I flashed over and tackled the goddess in a hug, which might have been considered inapropriate by some, but I really didn't care.

"Stella." She stepped back and smiled at me. She was in the form of a girl my age.

"You've come at a wonderful time. The Hunters are here."

My mouth fell open. "The Hunters of Artemis? "

"Are there any other Hunters?"

I smiled. "Where are they?"

"Cabin 8" she pointed to the cabin that was glowing silver. I ran over and knocked. The door was opened by a stern looking girl of about 14 with a vaguely Middle-eastern complection, a silver circlet braided into her dark hair, and a regal expression, so she looked like an Arabian princess. "Yes?"she asked.

"Hey, I'm Stella."

The girl raised her eyebrows. "The same Stella that-" I showed her my knife.

She smiled. "Our goddess has spoken highly of thee.Come in."

I entered the cabin. There were a dozen bunk beds , a weapons rack filled with silver bows, arrows, and hunting knives, and a door I guessed led to a private bathroom or a closet or something. The lights were silvery-yellow orbs dotted around the ceiling that glowed like the Moon. 11 beds were occupied making 12 Hunters including the girl who opened the door.

"I am Zoe Nightshade, the First Lieutenant of Artemis." The girl said. "This is Stella"

I waved awkwardly. The Hunters smiled at me. Before we could continue a conversation, a conch horn blew in the distance.

"That's dinner. Would you like to eat with us?" Zoe asked. "Sure." The truth was, I hadn't eaten anywhere except for Lotus for the past 80 years. Not that I was complaining. Lotus had a never ending selection of delicious food, and it never got old. Nothing at Lotus ever got old.

We went out to the dining pavilion. It was open-air, no roof, walls, nothing. 13 tables, were scattered among Greek columns. One table was slightly larger than the rest, and in the very center of the pavilion. The Hunters went over to a table slightly farther from the others than usual. We sat down and I watched the other cabins file in. A group of well dressed, atractive teenagers gave us dirty looks as they walked by. "Aphrodite cabin." Said Anna, the girl sitting next to me. "Bunch of stuck-up, lovesick egomaniacs."

Next came a cabin with a ton of people, headed by a 17-year-old boy with messy blond hair. "Hermes cabin. All of the children of minor gods and undetermined kids get stuck there." Anna told me.

The next cabin was a half dozen demigods that I could tell were Athenakids just from their stormy gray eyes. Then I looked more closely at the girl leading them, and just about fell out of my seat. It was the daughter of Athena from my prophecy vision. Younger, definitly, about 6 years younger, but definitely her. "Who-who's that?!?"

Zoe followed my line of vision and sighed. "Annabeth Chase. She was close to joining us a few years ago, but she and her companion, Thalia, stayed behind for a ' 'boy' '" She said 'boy' the same way someone else would say 'garbage'. I looked more closely at Annabeth, to make sure that it definitely was her. I noticed she was wearing a bead necklace, and so was every other camper. "What's with the necklaces?"

"One bead for every summer at camp." Said the girl sitting across from me, Gabby, I think. Annabeth had three beads. So did Luke.

"Campers!" yelled a centaur at the central table. And yes, I said centaur.

"I would like to formally welcome the Hunters of Artemis to camp!"the centaur announced. There were some half-hearted applause. The centaur continued,

"Tonight, we shall hold a game of Capture the Flag to promote goodwill between the Campers and Hunters." This got a much better reaction. "Let us bless this meal and eat!"

Dryads melted out of the trees and and started handing out plates of barbecue and pizza. When everyone got there food, they lined up at a sacrificial brazier and threw some of the food into the fire.I went up and muttered "For Hestia, and Artemis." The smoke coming up from the brazier didn't smell normal. It smelled like fast food, and sweets, and flowers, and a bunch of other stuff you wouldn't expect to go well together, but did. Not that I had any problem with the smell of smoke. I've been told I smell like smoke, and I don't care. But anyway, I went back to table and started eating. The pizza was great. The Hunters and I talked and laughed all throughout dinner. They were awesome. After dinner, everyone started putting on armor. "So you're going up against the whole camp? There's only a dozen of you." Zoe smiled. "We have won 54 times in a row."

"Seriously?"

"Mm-Hmm." Anna replied. I guess she'd been listening to our conversaition.

"How?"

"You shall see.You will be playing with us? "

"Of course." I'd never actually played capture the flag before, but the name was pretty self explanatory.

Zoe nodded. "No magically moving up to the flag and taking it. We would not want the game over too quickly. "

"To the woods! "The centaur yelled. We all headed off towards the woods.



The Half-Blood Magician, ch. 10: We Capture a Flag

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