“Hurry! You don’t want to be late!”
Morgan shuffled us through the front door towards her beat up car. "Don't stop until you've found Athena. She will take care of the rest.” She closed the passenger door when I got in. "Just keep driving!" she reminded Chass.
Chasidee waved goodbye to Morgan. Kaylee and I slipped into the old car with little more than a glance at Morgan, who was frantic and panicky.
The ride was long. Chasidee drove and Kaylee simply slept through it, but I found myself restless, only taking short cat naps. Morgan's mood had rubbed off on me; I couldn't stop thinking about everything that had happened. We had left out some of the details when we were telling Morgan about Kaylee being bitten, but I had seen it all. My mind was reeling, but I finally drifted off again. I woke up right after three o'clock, but this time, we had stopped. Chass was squinting through the windshield towards a small diner. There, a tired looking woman was waiting on a small bench in front. Her deep black hair was done in an elegant bun. Her deep green eyes were sharp and inquisitive behind a pair of glasses.
On Chasidee's cue, we all got out of the car. I stretched and looked around, but there wasn't much to see; we were in the middle of nowhere.
The woman stood, her hands beginning to glow with a strange golden light. “I knew you would come looking. Morgan always knows the right direction to point you in, doesn’t she?”
Chasidee nodded. “Athena?”
The goddess of wisdom smiled at the awe in Chasidee’s eyes. “Yes, dear. Now, come with me." The golden light exploded, blinding me for a moment. When I opened my eyes again, we were standing at the base of what seemed to be a mountain.
“At the top of the mountain, there is a gate. Magic keeps it hidden from mortals. Follow it to Olympus, and meet Zeus there,” Athena smiled. “I’ll tell Zeus you’re coming.”
So I was right about it being a mountain. That didn't make it any easier to climb. Chass began explaining the geography of Greece and that we were on Mount Olympus, but Kaylee and I both phased; we had already heard it plenty of times. Chasidee sighed and shook her head, but she phased, too.
We started up the mountain, avoiding any mortals. Chass flew ahead, while Kay and I trotted behind. An hour later, we found the gate.
The entrance to Olympus was gorgeous. It was an elaborate gate that glowed golden in the sun, and aura of power and secrecy radiated off it. A beautiful river flowed swiftly alongside the entrance. As we approached the magnificent gate, a naiad rose up out of the river and danced to the gate. She had small, elfin features and a soothing smile. She was clothed in a long turquoise dress that flowed across her body and whirled around her when she turned. With a small grin, she opened the gate and gave us out first glimpse of Olympus.
It was beauty beyond words.
Naiads danced through the golden streets by the river. Dryads flitted through the trees on the river bank opposite us. The small creatures were all clothed in similar dresses. Satyrs trotted through the streets and between the beautiful houses and buildings placed along the streets. In a pavilion to the left, a monster lashed its tail, denting the shield of the young woman fighting it. The audience cheered as they fought. A temple in the east rose high, golden and stunning. Another temple rose in the west, silver and magnificent.
Alongside the golden streets that wound through the city were graceful benches, carved out of marble stone and painted with liquid silver. They sat on lush green grass, which looked softer than the whisps of pure white clouds that ducked around the tops of the temples.
At the end of the street was a huge temple, like we had seen in pictures before – pictures Morgan had shown us. Zeus, who we had met before on several occasions, sat in a throne at the entrance and beckoned us forward. We walked slowly, in awe of the dazzling city.
Zeus laughed softly at our star-struck expressions. “How do you like my home?”
“It’s amazing,” we gasped.
That doesn't even begin to describe it, I thought, my mind too overwhelmed for me to speak.
"What are we here for?" Chasidee asked, getting straight to business.
Suddenly a thought occurred in my busy, overactive mind. "Wait a minute," I interrupted, holding out my hand, "Maybe I missed something, but people normally hear when we get in a fight. I don't think anyone noticed anything at school earlier."
Zeus narrowed his eyes, not happy that I had cut him off. "We've been keeping an eye on you. Trying to keep you safe with our magic."
"Oh." I was both honored and creeped out. I really hoped that they (whoever "they" were, I thought uneasily) were "keeping an eye" on us in a safety-first, non-stalkerish kind of way. All of a sudden, I felt like someone was watching me. Creepy... I thought, my eyes darting around the temple.
"...why we're here?" Chasidee finished. I hadn't realized that she had been talking while I was busy being watched.
“Well, I’ll tell you straight out. There’s trouble. And the council has come together and unanimously decided you three are the most capable. Seek out Artemis, she can tell you more.”
We headed down the steps, searching for the goddess' temple.
"Where do we go?" Kay asked. Her small, wolfish smile made my heart spin. Just a few hours before, she had been lying on the ground, unmoving. I hadn't known if she would live. The calm confidence that had reassured me earlier was gone. A sudden rush of emotion swallowed me.
"Over there," Chasidee suggested, shooting me a look that asked if I was ok.
I nodded, swallowing hard. "I think we should check over by the gates."
After a few moments of debating, we finally agreed to look in the silver temple to the west. Well, Chass said to look there. Kay and I just assumed she was right.
The bottom half of the cylindrical temple was all columns, and a spiral staircase twirled up to the top. The floor consisted entirely of lush green grass, which a silver stag grazed on. Artemis sat in a small silver throne between two elegant trees with silver leaves and silver fruit. She had a golden laurel wreath on her head, and was dressed in a short silver dress. A bow and quiver were propped against her throne.
“Kaylee, my dear! And Aden and Chasidee as well. I suppose Zeus sent you?” Artemis prompted, her voice calm and confident.
“Yes,” Kaylee whispered softly.
Artemis sighed quietly. “I feared this. I feared Zeus would find need to alert you.”
“Alert us? What does that mean?” I demanded.
“Nothing. You can go home, I’ll explain to Zeus.”
“No, we need to know. Zeus said.” Something inside of me was telling me not to argue with a goddess, but, for some reason, I really wanted to know what Artemis wasn’t telling us.
Artemis snarled. “Forget what Zeus said. I’m telling you, ordering you rather, to leave and return home.” Her voice rose until she was yelling, and a calm voice interrupted.
“Relax. If they want to know, they can know.”
“No! Get out of here, Apollo. I don’t have time for you,” Artemis growled.
“We’re not going home. Not until we know what’s going on here,” I snarled, tensing, preparing for a fight. Chass touched my arm softly, concern in her clear green eyes.
“Go home.” Artemis’ voice was tense.
“Artemis…” Apollo sighed, raking his hands through his golden hair and leaning casually against one of the slender columns. “Always the negative one. Goddess of the moon, of the night… so depressing.”
“Get. Out. Of. My. Temple.” Artemis’ voice was hard, but Apollo, like me, couldn’t seem to stop.
“What if I just tell them?”
"Hey, 'scuse me," a voice called from behind us. Another goddess was coming up the temple steps. She had light brown hair and eyes, and was wearing a flowing, light brown shirt and denim shorts, and the cutest brown sandals. Yeah, her outfit pretty much made me jealous. "Some goddesses have, you know, work to do? And we can't sit around and listen to you argue all day. What's the deal, anyway?"
"Demeter," Chasidee gasped.
"Uh-huh." Demeter rolled her eyes. "I said, what's the deal? The shouting?"
“Artemis won’t tell us whatever it is that Zeus wants us to know,” I complained.
"Uhh, let Zeus decide," Demeter laughed, "and quit arguing so loud. It really wasn't hard to figure that out." She rolled her eyes again. "Hermes!"
A flash of blinding light erupted from the center of the temple. In its place stood an annoyed looking man with disheveled, sandy hair and a crooked grin that quickly disappeared with his arrival. “What? I’m a little busy, Demeter.”
"Tell Zeus that Artemis isn't telling the Blessed anything, and apparently Apollo thinks she should."
"And you can't walk over there and do it yourself?"
Demeter groaned. "Hermes, you're the freakin' mailman of Olympus. This is your job. Your calling in life." She threw up her arms in frustration. "Just do it, please."
“Fine,” Hermes grumbled. He shimmered and disappeared, leaving me confused. I looked at my sisters, but they were just as confused as I was.
A small, faded brown envelope suddenly appeared in front of Demeter. It floated gently to the grass, and she knelt and picked it up.
“Zeus wants you to go home. He says he can tell you later.” Demeter frowned, crumbling the letter in her hands. She tossed the paper into the air and it melted into a shower of silver dust. A snowy white dove emerged and flew straight into Apollo's waiting hands.
As soon as the bird landed, it faded back into a crumpled piece of paper. Apollo read it, shaking his head. "It's going to happen anyway, Artemis. We can't do this alone. You should've told them while you had the chance." His voice grew more and more strained and his golden eyes burned with anger.
Despite the intensity of the moment, I couldn't help but laugh to myself as the letter burst into flames in Apollo's hand. He halfheartedly tossed the charred remains towards Artemis, who had been watching him with a growing smile.
“I suppose I'll have to send you home,” she grinned. She held out her hand, which glowed with strange bright golden light. The light danced its way across the temple until it exploded around us. I shielded my eyes against the violent light, and when it faded I saw I was in my bedroom, sitting on my familiar bed.
“Chass? Kay?” I called, flipping on the light.
“Yeah?” they called in unison.
“Girls!?” I heard Morgan swing open Kaylee’s door.
“We’re right… here,” Chasidee called out in an uncertain tone. “I think, anyway. Artemis zapped us with some golden glowing orb.”
“Displacement magic,” Morgan explained. “You really are back here.”
I sighed in relief. I hadn't been too worried, but I didn't exactly trust Artemis, either. My stomach growled and I skipped downstairs, heading towards the pantry. I ripped open a bag of chips and stuffed a few into my mouth. Wondering how long we had been gone, my eyes flitted to the clock. “It’s two in the morning!” I gasped.
“It is?” Kaylee called, flying down the stairs.
“Yeah. Why don’t we get a little sleep and go to school later?” Chasidee suggested from her room.
“Whatever,” I mumbled, completely willing to skip school. I shoved a few more chips in my mouth, crumpled up the bag and threw it into the trashcan. I raced up the stairs, taking them three at a time. As soon as my head hit the pillow, a wave of exhaustion crashed into me. I pulled a blanket tighter around me and closed my eyes in surrender.
That’s when the dreams began.