|The Olympus Reformatory Institute
Author: nightfuries PM
Welcome to the Olympus Reformatory Institute for unruly young demigods, nymphs, and other divine beings. Among their newest recruits is Autolycus, son of Hermes and prince of thieves. But the ORI will have more to worry about when a Titan escapes from Tartarus to steal one of the gods' most powerful objects. So, to fix the problem, what's a thief to do but steal it first? On hiatusRated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 5 - Words: 10,344 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 07-28-12 - Published: 11-04-11 - id: 2967317
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
What's this? Another chapter? I know, they're so hard to recognise because they're so rare :)
Okay, I'm extremely, extremely sorry for the incomprehensibly long wait for this chapter. Life's been waaaaay too busy, on top of the fact that I've finally finalised the plot for this story, hints of which are given in the new, upgraded story summary, since fictionpress has allowed us to write longer summaries! Yay! Again, I apologise a ton for the long wait! Hopefully that'll be slightly made up for in the fact that this chapter is more than twice as long as most. I think I'll be writing longer chapters from now on, since I've gotten into that habit and such. Anyways, enjoy and I promise the next update won't take as long! I forgot how much fun this story is to write :)
As I watched, the old oak door began to creak open ominously, as though hoping to send fear shooting through the hearts of students, most of which would be cowering in their boots at the prospect of meeting the infamous Charon, ferryman of the dead. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Hestia glancing at me, but I just smirked; I wasn't exactly your run-of-the-mill student. Unlike most, I'd actually met Charon before; my dad's one of the only people allowed to pass through the Underworld without any trouble (he has a part time job helping bring the dead souls to the Underworld. Plus I hear Hades has a monthly magazine subscription he likes to get) and sometimes, back before I was deemed old enough to stay on my own, he'd take me along. Though I never actually got to enter the place; no, it was always "Stay on the boat with Charon, Autolycus." It was like he expected me to go through the Underworld and wreak havoc; which I totally wouldn't. Honest. Trust me, if the dead had anything to steal, I'd already have tried to steal it.
"Oi, Hestia, what's the meaning of this! Eight times in one day already! I'm not just here to take your rule-breakers to the Underworld, you know! I have a day job!"
Ah, yes, a voice I know well; Charon.
The door finally opened fully and in hobbled the master ferryman of the Underworld, wearing his usually peeved expression. Charon was old, not just in age like Hestia, but in looks too; his grey, scraggly beard reached halfway down his stomach, while the untidy mass of hair on his head was shoved under a reddish-brown hat, which was the same colour has his overlong coat. Strapped to his back was the shortened version of a ferryman's pole and a fishing rod.
"I'm sorry Charon, but you know everyone's always a bit more . . . unruly when the new students come," Hestia said, with a glance at me.
"That time of year already, eh? Well then I . . ." He stopped short as he turned to me and finally realised who the supposed "rule-breaker" he was supposed to be ferrying to the Underworld was. "You again!"
"Hey Charon," I said, giving him my best, most innocent smile and a wave.
Hestia raised an eyebrow. "You know each other?"
"Know each other? I used to have to babysit this kid while his dad went on delivery runs to Hades."
"It wasn't babysitting," I muttered indignantly, but Charon didn't seem to hear, continuing to ramble on about the various troubles I'd put him through; seems they stuck fresh in his mind.
"He once stole my fishing rod! And tried to fish with it! What, I ask you, what kind of fish do you think you're going to find in the Styx?"
Hestia gives me a look and I shrug. "What? Come on, I was like, six at the time."
"And he's just gotten worse since then," Charon declares, glaring at me. "Do I really have to take him across?"
"Yes," Hestia said, and by her tone of voice I got the feeling that Charon asked this question daily, whether he had a history with the troublemaker or not. "We do have a deal, Charon."
Well, that sounded interesting. I perked my head up, curious to hear more, but Charon just narrowed his eyes at Hestia, muttering some most likely unflattering things under his breath before reaching out and grabbing my arm. "Fine. But I have a schedule to keep you know. No more calls tonight!"
The corners of Hestia's mouth twitched upwards. "I can't promise that."
"Bah, teach your students better!" Charon said, dragging me out of the office and slamming the door behind him, though not before I saw a bigger smile creep onto the headmistress's face as she turned to go back to her work. "Now, you," Charon continued, shaking me out of my thoughts. "Never travelled by fish hook, have you?"
"Didn't think so." Charon shook his head, grumbling some more as he opened his coat, revealing a row of fish hooks all lined up, each with its own label. I caught sight of Good Food Restaurant, Rod Repair Store and Foot Massage Place before Charon took the current hook off of his rod, sliding it into the spot labelled Annoying School and slipped another out of his coat to attach, one simply labelled Boat. "Hold on tight, don't throw up," Charon ordered, one hand gripping my arm tightly while the other readied the fishing rod. "And no sarcastic remarks," he added, just as I opened my mouth to mention how stupid we looked. I was positive that at any moment, a group of students were going to walk this way and see me holding onto a crazy old man's arm while he looked ready to go fishing. In a hallway.
My reputation was so ruined.
I groaned as Charon cast the line, watching it fly through the air down the hall and expecting it to hook on one of the other artefacts that decorated the area (seriously, it was like the designers of this building were asking for someone to come along and break things). But my exasperated look quickly disappeared to make way for one of surprise as the hook vanished into thin air, still trailing some of the line behind it. Charon noticed my astonishment and barked out a laugh. "Like I said, hold on." Then he yanked back the fishing rod.
It wasn't clear if he was pulling us toward the rift in the air or the rift towards us, but seconds later it felt as though we were flying as amazing speeds, the world zipping past us in blurs of colours and sounds. A few shocked curses left my mouth, making Charon laugh and I looked up to see him watching the fishing line. With all of the movement going on around us, I could barely focus on the thin cord, but ahead I could just barely make out the image of a boat, the rod's hook stuck firmly into the wooden rail.
And, all of a sudden, the noise and colours ceased and we were once again standing still, this time on the familiar ferry, with nothing but an extreme sense of vertigo to remind me of the trip we'd just taken. Even as I thought about it, the feeling travelled to my stomach, making it churn with the contents of my earlier lunch.
"Try not to pollute the Styx," Charon said as I rested my head on the rail of the ferry, trying to clear my head and keep myself from throwing up. "You might kill the non-existent fish."
At least you know what it's for now, I told myself; my curiosity as to the function of Charon's fishing rod had driven me crazy when I was younger. And now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I'd rather not have found out. "Where'd you get that thing?"
"Perk of working for Hades," Charon said, stroking it lovingly before strapping it back to his back. "You didn't think I'd bother walking all the way to those secret entrances your dad uses, did you?"
Makes sense, I guess; still, doesn't make the result any more pleasant. I lay my head back on the rail just as Charon jumps onto a platform at the front of the boat shouting, "Alright everyone, excuse the delay, we're moving out to the Underworld now! Please keep all arms, legs and any other protruding limbs inside the ferry at all times! Hades is not responsible for any injuries sustained on your journey!" Charon let out a laugh. "Ah, who am I kidding? You're all dead! You can't get hurt!"
Yep; he's crazy.
He snorted one more time before turning back to the water, taking out his ferryman's pole as he did so. It lengthened immediately, growing until it was long enough to dip into the water and as Charon pulled back in one, fluid stroke, the boat lurched forwards and we were off.
I glanced around the ferry, taking in some of the changes; Charon must have renovated it or something, because it looked almost twice the size from when I'd last seen it. And still the place was completely packed with the spirits of the dead, who were all whispering or crying amongst themselves. Usually the case with newcomers; most don't enjoy accepting the fact that they're gone. I could also see a few pointing jealous fingers in my direction, most likely owing to the fact that I was still alive. Yeah, yeah, dead resenting the living; what else was new?
Turning away from the muttering ghosts, I looked out towards the edges of the Styx, where the towering palace of Hades could be seen, looming high over the rest of the Underworld. And despite myself, I could feel a small seed of excitement blooming in me; I'd never actually set foot anywhere in the Underworld before. I mean, I'd tried numerous times, but despite Charon's old age he had a sharp eye that didn't allow anything, including toddler-me, to sneak past him. Speaking of Charon, I thought, looking towards the old ferryman, what was that about a deal with the headmistress?
"So," I said, avoiding a few of the dead as I walked up to him at the bow of the ferry. "What's going on between you and Hestia?"
He frowned at me, pausing slightly in his efforts to ferry the boat across. "Well, I take the rule-breakers to their punishment in the Underworld. And I get a bit of satisfaction out of doing it," he added, giving me a toothy grin.
"She mentioned something about a deal?"
The smile disappeared immediately, to be replaced by an all-too-familiar glare. "That's none of your business."
"That's just an excuse for me to go find out by myself," I said in a sing-song voice, grinning innocently as his glare hardened.
"Fine. My sister goes to the ORI. Younger sister," he adds sharply as I raise an eyebrow at the thought of an equally ancient, equally crabby version of Charon attending school with the rest of the trouble-making demigods. "Much younger. I work for Hestia and so her tuition's free."
"You have to pay tuition?" I pause at the idea; Dad must have been paying mine. Seems like a huge waste to me. "Why don't you just take her out of there?"
"There's worse correction facilities to be sent. Much worse."
"There's more of these places? Come on, how many "unruly young divine beings" are there?"
"A lot, considering you all walk around like you own Olympus."
"I-" But I was interrupted as the ferry lurched again, throwing me off balance and causing the dead to stop murmuring and look towards the bow. "Well, we're here!"Charon shouted, opening a small part of the railing and attaching a long, wooden plank, the end of which just touched on what one might call the "beaches" of the Underworld. "Everybody off, this is a one way trip!"
The dead glanced at the plank, most of them looking decidedly unhappy to have reached the Underworld, but after a few more orders/threats from Charon, they slowly began to file off of the ferry. "You too," Charon said, narrowing his eyes at me.
"Really? You're just going to let me wander around the Underworld by myself?" Any other time I'd be absolutely thrilled, but an essential part of my escape plan from the institute was getting powerful allies on my side, and the Eurus kid counted as one of them.
Charon laughed again. "Don't kid yourself, there's a guide down there to take you to the other trouble-makers. She should be along any minute. Until then, try not to fall into Tartarus."
"Great advice," I say sarcastically, starting to disembark. But something still felt . . . off. Anyone who's known me long enough would never leave me unattended in a place like the Underworld (though of course, I couldn't possibly hazard a guess as to why). Charon had certainly never let me out of his sight when he'd had to watch me before (and just for the record, it wasn't babysitting). So what was he playing at now?
Ah; that's what.
I tensed as the cacophonous bark blasted through my ears, turning just in time to see a gigantic, three-headed dog bounding towards me, mouth foaming and eyes crazed. Correction: this was the gigantic, three-headed dog. Cerberus.
I backed away quickly, hands up as though I actually thought I could defend myself against the enormous canine; if there was ever a time when I needed my invisibility helmet, it was now. Then again, even that might not have helped; Cerberus has not just one, but three large, fully-functioning noses, and with the way they were all stuck in my direction now, nostrils flaring at what I could only assume to be my scent, I could guess that this was how the monster knew to find me. Wait . . . this thing isn't . . . it wasn't . . . my guide, was it? Please, not even Charon would be that crazy. Besides, he'd said she. And unless Cerberus was female (which I really hoped wasn't true), my guide was off somewhere else not caring about the fact that I was two seconds away from getting my head chomped off.
"No! Cerberus, bad! What did I say about running off?" At first, I got the weirdest idea that it was one of the dog's three heads talking; Charon had left with his ferry and the dead had gone off, presumably towards the Hall of Judgement, so there was no one else around. But then I saw the girl running after the beast, fading in and out of view as she shouted orders and waved her arms, trying to get the attention of the massive dog. She's a ghost, I realised, but at the moment it didn't really seem to matter; I had bigger, smellier and slobberier things to worry about. And I'd better act fast, because Cerberus was merely two bounding leaps in front of me, opening his jaw wide to receive what I'm sure he thought would be a wonderful dinner of live meat-
"CERBERUS! HEEL!" I looked over at the girl, distracted from my escape plans by the sheer force of her yell; and it seemed that Cerberus was also. He stopped mid-leap, front paws out in front as he fell and skidded the rest of the way over to me, kicking up quite a bit of dust which all blew over onto yours truly. And let me tell you, getting grey, grimy dirt from the land of the dead in your mouth is not something you ever want to have to deal with.
Cerberus whined as the girl neared, looking at me out of the corner of his eye and drooling as though he'd still love to have me for dinner, but whoever this ghost was she seemed to have some level of control over him. "I told you to calm down. Sorry," she said, turning to me and watching as I attempted to rub the dust out of my eyes. "After having eight members of the living down here already, well, he's gotten pretty excited."
After finally managing to spit out as much of the dust as I can from my mouth, I gave it a go at trying to respond. "Who are you?"
She smiled and outstretched her hand. "Iva."
I raised an eyebrow, looking from it to her face, which was going in between being solid and transparent. "How is that . . .?"
"Right, sorry. Habit." She moved her hand away from me and started using it to pat Cerberus; apparently ghosts could touch the guardian of the Underworld. "And you are?"
"Autolycus," I answered, brushing off my pants and trying to seem cool and casual, like nearly getting killed by Hades' pet was something I did everyday; in reality though, I probably just looked like some sort of giant dust bunny. "Do you always hang out with giant, three-headed dogs?"
"It's my job," Iva said, turning away from the Styx and motioning for me to follow as she began walking back up the hill Cerberus had come tearing down moments ago. "I walk him for Lord Hades."
I stared at her. "What?"
"You know, it still surprises me that you people still get surprised," Iva said, blowing a strand of ghostly white hair out of her face. "Birds need to fly, fish need to swim, dogs need to walk. Even the three-headed ones. But I also work for Charon and Lady Hestia ushering the rule-breakers over to the part of Asphodel Fields reserved for ORI students." She looked at me. "You're new here, right?"
Her question caught me off-guard, shaking me out of my thoughts as I wondered what it was exactly that ghosts worked for. "Yeah, just got here this afternoon."
"Thought so. You look like someone who gets into a lot of trouble. Which means you're going to be down here a lot." She sighed and looked over at Cerberus, who was currently growling at me. "I better teach him to like you."
I grinned. "No need. I'm getting out of the institute."
"Trust me, I've heard that a million times and it always ends up being code for 'I'm going to be down here a lot.'"
"People have tried getting out before?"
"Most likely. I mean, it's not like the place is new or anything." Iva stopped and looked around. We'd come to a spot near the beginning of the Fields of Asphodel where seven others were hanging out, and judging by the un-transparent quality of their bodies, they were the other rule-breakers from school. Actually, might not hurt to talk to all of them, I thought, watching them talk amongst themselves or just lie on the dead grass and stare at nothing. A few of them looked like demigods, and who knew? One of them might have some sort of power that could be used in my escape plan. "Well, see you around," Iva said, waving to a few people who I guessed were regular troublemakers and therefore those she knew well.
"Probably not," I said back.
She raised an eyebrow, smiling. "Yeah, we'll see."
With that, she began walking back to Hades' palace, leaving Cerberus to follow behind her after one last growl in my direction. I watched them go for a second, then turned back to the small crowd of students. We'll see. We sure would. And so would the "headmistress," the Furies, and my dad. No one kept me in reform school.
But first, there was a reason I had for getting in trouble in the first place. And look, there he was now.
My soon-to-be partner in crime Eurus was lying down near the back of the group, unenthusiastically levitating a small pebble with his powers. I headed over to him, ignoring the one or two curious gazes of the others as I walked by. "Hey," I said, finally reaching him.
I guess he hadn't been expecting some random stranger to just walk up to him because he jumped, and so did the pebble, coasting through the air on a burst of wind until it hit me right in the forehead. I groaned, one hand reaching up to the spot where it hit as Eurus hurriedly sat up. "Sorry," he said quickly. "But it technically was your fault for walking over here."
"How was it my fault?" I grumbled, sitting down on the grass beside him and still rubbing the spot with my hand.
Eurus glanced at me. "You're new, aren't you?"
"Yeah, just got here this afternoon."
"Huh." He lay back down in the grass, resuming his little levitation game with the pebble (I'd scooted a little further away from him at this point). "Closest anyone's ever come to beating my record for fastest detention earned.
I hadn't really thought about it, but I guess I did manage to get into trouble pretty quickly. And had I had a chance to think more about it, I'm sure I would have come to the proud conclusion that I must have broken some sort of record; sounds like the kind of thing I'd do. So it bothered me slightly that Eurus had apparently already gotten punished quicker. "When did you get yours?"
"'Bout five minutes after I walked into the building."
I stared at him, eyebrow raised in disbelief. "What did you do?"
Eurus sighed. "I was just being me. Bad luck; as usual."
"Bad luck?" A small memory flashed before my eyes, of Dad telling me about the anemoi; the four minor gods of the winds. He'd just mentioned them in passing, something about the east wind messing up his delivery route, because it was bad luck. So that was . . .? "Wait, you're a god? Can they even send you here? Why don't you just leave?"
He sighed again, letting the pebble drop into the grass. "Just a minor one. And I'm pretty young compared to the others. Besides, after all the trouble with Zeus, I was lucky they only sent me here."
"What happened with Zeus?"
Eurus's face darkened. "I'd really rather not talk about it."
"Oh. Um, okay."
There was an awkward pause for a second, before Eurus resumed his little flying pebble game once more and I sat and thought about the conversation. Obviously part of me was curious as to this whole "Zeus" business, but I could figure that out easily enough (if anyone ever wants news in Olympus, my dad's your man). The bigger problem was my now not-so-brilliant looking plan of escape from the ORI. I mean, so far I'd managed to get on the wrong side of a Fury, find my way to the Headmistress's office and get sent to the Underworld, not to mention the fact that the only people I met who could potentially help me with my strategy was a history-obsessed muse, a dog-walking ghost and the god of the east wind, who apparently brought nothing but bad luck.
What was I going to do now?
Yeah, took me a while to find a good name for that little ghost girl. Ironically Iva means "life" in ancient Greek :)