When I awoke I was riding in the back of my mother's van. I sit up and feel my nose; there is a small bandage across it. I look behind myself and see my dogs sleeping in the back of the back.
"You're finally awake. Good, we're almost at the airport." Hunter is looking behind his seat and smiling. I grab his throat and drag him to the back seat. My mother; who is driving, swerves out of control and slams on the brakes to the side of the rode. I open the door and we roll out of the car and onto the sidewalk.
"What the hell is happening?" I tighten my grip on his neck and shake him violently.
"Sweetie, let him go!" My mother runs beside me and grabs one of my arms to pull me off. Hunter is clawing at my hands, trying to speak.
"What the hell happened at the school? Tell me what you know!" My mother rips one of my hands off of him but I shake her free and punch him across the face, "Explain!"
"I'm- trying-!" Hunter says between breaths.
"Let him go this instant young man!" She runs behind me and wraps her arms around mine and drags me off of him. Hunter sits up, holding his neck, coughing.
"I was about to before you forced Zoe off the road." He stands up and I'm still struggling in my mom's arms, "All I can say for now is what you did at the school; although a terrible way to do it, it was a good thing. You have a gift and we're taking you some place where you can learn to control your gifts and learn who you truly are."
"Where are you taking me?" My mom lets me go and she places a hand on my shoulder.
"We're going to Macedonia." I look up at her and she's smiling with tears rolling down her cheeks. Hunter climbs back in the passenger seat and I climb into the back of the truck and sit down next to my dogs. They lay down around my legs and look up at me. I smile and pet Salem's head. My mother starts the engine and drives back down the road to the airport.
We arrive at the airport an hour later and my dogs and I climb out the back and Hunter grabs my shoulder.
"I've hired a personal pilot so your dogs can come too. Grab your things." I look at him like he's crazy and he hands me two suitcases. I was so angry at him I didn't even see them. He hikes his bag on his shoulder and escorts my mother and I to a hanger where a small, luxury plane with five propellers is being cleaned by a single man, "Excuse me, sir? My name is Hunter Collins, we spoke over the phone?" The man slides down the ladder and cleans his hands with a rag.
"Yes, I remember you. You want a flight to Macedonia correct?"
"That is correct, my friend, his dogs, his mother and I need a plane to get us there quickly. I was told you were the man to do so." Hunter takes out a check and hands it to the pilot.
"Of course I'm the man for the job. Please, climb aboard; she's almost ready to go. The sodas and snacks are complimentary." He smiles as he gets back to cleaning and we all walk up the stairs, into the plane.
"For a small plane it sure looks nice." My mother says as she places her things in the overhead cupboard. I sit down as she puts my things away and my dogs jump up next to me. The pilot climbs inside and clears his throat.
"All luggage is to be in the cupboards above your head and all animals are to be in the kennels provided." He gestures to the back and I guide my dogs into them. Then all lay around each other and I go back to my own seat and buckle myself in, "All drinks and snacks are provided in the coolers behind you above the kennels. The weather looks clear and we should arrive in Macedonia in about seventeen hours and thirty minutes." He bows slightly and walks into the cockpit.
"I'm not so sure about this. I've never flown before." The plane roars to life and exits the hanger.
"Don't worry dude, it's said to be the safest way to travel. We'll be fine." Hunter smiles from the other side of the plane.
"Don't worry sweetie, just go to sleep and we'll be there before you know it." The plane gains speed and I look out the window.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts and prepare for takeoff." The pilot says over the intercom. I tighten my seatbelt and grip my armrests. I look over at Hunter who is reassuring me with a nod. The plane then jolts forward and gains incredible speed. I'm forced into the back of my seat and I grip my armrests to the point where I feel like they're about the break.
The plane then lifts off the ground and I shut my eyes tightly. I try to go to my happy place but all I feel is an extreme amount of pressure in my chest and my heart is beating so loud and fast I can hear it trying to burst out of my chest. I look at Hunter who is laughing and I would look back to see how my mom is doing but if I did I would probably fall out of my seat even if my seat belt is acting like a tourniquet on my waist.
A couple of minutes pass and the plane slows down and straightens out. I open my eyes and look out the window and see nothing but a clear sky and white, puffy clouds. I look to Hunter and he is doing the same, I turn around and look behind me and see my mother sleeping.
"You are free to move about the cabin." The pilot says and Hunter unbuckles his seat belt and walks towards the back. He soon comes back and sits next to me, handing me a soda.
"I see you had fun while we ascended into the sky?"
"Felt more like a never ending rollercoaster." I open my soda and take a sip, my hands still shaking, "So why are we going to Macedonia?"
"It's close to Mount Olympus. That is our true destination. Once we arrive at the airport we'll take a cab to the town closest to it. Then we walk." He takes a sip of his soda and I stare at him, "Confused? I was too when I was first flying the Macedonia."
"You expect me and my mother to climb Mount Olympus with you? That's one of the highest mountains in the world!"
"No I do not expect you or Zoe to climb. All of your answers will soon be answered."
"What do you expect we'll find once we reach top? And how are we supposed to get to the top if you don't expect us to climb? Sprout wings and fly all the way to the top?" I take another sip and he laughs.
"No, like I said, all your questions will be answered. Just sit tight and enjoy the flight."
"How is it my mom cool with all of this?"
"Stop asking questions and enjoy the flight Zhen." He takes a long sip of his soda and sighs in relief, "After you almost choked me to death I've needed a drink."
"One more question. How do you know where to go?"
"Because, I've been to where we're going." He pats my shoulder and walks back to his own seat. I look at him with a squint and finish my soda with three large gulps. I look behind and see my mother is still asleep so I decided to do the same. I lean my chair back and drift off into a deep sleep.
When I woke up it seemed it has been a few hours and when I look out the window its pitch black and the pilot was talking over the intercom again.
"And we should be landing in Macedonia in about twenty minutes so please take your seats and buckle up." I sit up and see Hunter walking from the back with two other sodas in his hand. I look behind and see my mom reading a magazine.
"You're finally up. I'd thought you'd never wake. Were you dreaming?"
"I never dream." I raise my seat and Hunter hands me another soda. "Thank you." He sits down next to me and buckles his seat belt.
"Don't mention it. So, once we land we'll get into a cab and ride all the way to Litochoro."
"Why there?" I take a sip of my soda and place it in the cup holder to my right.
"It's a town that's at the base of Mount Olympus."
"And once we're there we sprout wings and fly all the way up to a magical place where there is an old wizard who'll teach me how to use my powers." I laugh as I take another sip and Hunter nudges me with his elbow.
"Don't be such a smart ass Zhen." My mom chimes in from behind us, "There are other ways to getting to the top without wings or climbing equipment."
"Yeah, because I'm sure the mountain has a magical escalator that'll take us to the top." Hunter slaps me on the back of the head.
"This is not a joke Zhen, where we're going, it's a very beautiful place but you have to mind yourself. Reputation and the means to back it up are everything."
"Right, I'll try to do my best not to piss off the wrong people." I smirk and then the plane jolts down, "What the hell was that?" I grip my arm rests again and I slowly look out the window to see a city. Then the intercom chimes on.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are now landing, please be sure you're in your seats and your seatbelts fastened. Welcome to Macedonia!" The plane jolts down again and I shut my eyes again.
"I hate flying! If people were meant to fly we would have evolved and grow wings!" I cringe and keep my eyes closed as my mom and Hunter laugh, "It's not funny!" Then the plane tilts forward and a chilled sensation creeps up my spine and then it jolts backward as the wheels touch the ground, "Oh thank god it's almost over!" The plane then straightens out again and starts to slow down.
"Excuse me all passengers, we have landed in Macedonia. Please wait till the plane has come to a complete stop before you unbuckle your seatbelts and reclaim you luggage. Thank you for choosing me, Pilot Gram, as your pilot. Hope to see you again!"
The plane drives into another hanger and then comes to a complete stop. I instantly shoot out of my seat and run to the back.
"Are you o.k. guys?" I kneel down and open the kennel, "The plane ride is over, you can come out now." My dogs jump at me and lick my face, "Get off of me!" I laugh as I try to push them off, "I hated it too." They get off of me and I stand up, wiping my face. Hunter hands me my two suitcases and we walk off the plane. I look back and see hunter giving the pilot a check.
"Thank you, and if you ever need a ride just call me!" He hands Hunter a card and they say their goodbyes. Hunter runs up next to me and smiles.
"We're half way there. Now we have to get a cab and we're off to Litochoro!" We exit through the back of the hanger and people are buzzing around, cars and busses are driving and stopping along this long strip of road under a huge, concrete awning. Hunter waves down a taxi and it pulls up in front of us.
"Where is your destination today?"
"You have a long drive ahead of you so I hope you have a full tank of gas." Hunter says opening the trunk and putting everyone's luggage in it.
"We need a ride to Litochoro!" My mom says leaning forward so the cab driver can hear her.
"That is quite the drive, but I can take you there. But, do you have the cash for it?"
"Yes sir." He gestures to get in and my mom climbs in the passenger seat, Hunter and I climb in and my dogs laydown in between us.
"I hope they've been to the bathroom. Because if they go in my cab, that's going to be an extra two hundred dollars!" He starts the car and drives off. I lean back in my seat, finally relaxed.
"This is the way to travel. Not in a big tube thousands of feet in the air." I look down and Salem has his head on my lap. I rub his ears and he looks up at me, "Where ever we're going, will they let me keep my dogs? I honestly can't go anywhere without them." I smile as Salem pants in enjoyment.
"If they weren't allowed where we're going we wouldn't have brought them in the first place." Hunter pets Muse's head and she wags her tail, "This is the only dog that likes me"
"Don't change the subject. Why are we going to Mount Olympus? Are you expecting to find the Greek gods there or something? Why can't you just tell me?"
"Sweetie, we can't tell you because it's hard to explain. It's better that you see for yourself than to be told what is to come." My mother smiles and turns back around to continue her conversation with the driver.
"I just hate not being in the loop. Can't you tell me anything?"
"Do you remember your father at all?"
"Stop trying to change the subject and don't ever bring up my father!"
"I'm not changing the subject. This is on topic. Now answer the question." I cross my arms and lean my head back.
"I don't really remember what he looks like." I shut my eyes to try and remember, "He only held me once; when I was born. Then he left. My mom says that he got me Muse, Diablo and Salem as some sort of gift." I lift my head back up and look at him, "All I know is that he abandoned me and my mother and thought leaving me these dogs would reconcile that!" I scratch Salem and Diablo behind the ears and Diablo growls lightly.
"I think he's about to bite you."
"No, that's just how he shows affection." I smile as I rub his head more and his tail starts to wag.
"So you honestly don't remember anything about your dad?"
"I already told you what I do know! What the hell do you want from me?" Hunter cowers a little then sighs.
"I didn't mean to push you. I'm sorry man." He puts a hand on my shoulder and shakes me lightly, "All your answers will be answered soon bro. Just hang tight."
"How many times have you said that to me so far?" He laughs and leans his head back.
"You should get some sleep if you can. Once we reach Litochoro you'll be in for a shock." I smirk as he falls asleep with Muse cuddling up next to him. I look out the window to see dark clouds swirling in the sky.
"Looks like rain." I rest my chin on my hand and stare out into the country side of Greece. Salem winces and puts a paw on my leg to get my attention. I smile and rub his head, "It's just a little rain buddy. It can't hurt you." He licks my hand and rests his head back on my lap. I lean my head back and close my eyes, "Might as well get some more sleep." I take a deep breath and slowly drift back to sleep.
"Zhen, wake up!" I slowly open my eyes and then I'm shaken violently, "Zhen, we're here! Wake up!" I wave my hand to get him to stop shaking me. I sit up and rub my neck.
"How can we be there already?" I stretch and look out the window. People walking through, what looks like a market, are staring at the car, "You'd think they've seen a car before."
"They have, but this town doesn't get that many visitors." Hunter sits up and looks out the window.
"Stop right here please." My mom gets out and walks to the driver's side and takes out her wallet to pay him while Hunter and I grab our belongings.
"Thank you very much ma'am. Have good day!" The driver pulls out and drives away, leaving the six of us in this small town.
"Now, let's rent a car and get to Mount Olympus." Hunter hikes his bag up and walks down the road. My mother and I follow.
I look up and see the majesty of Mounty Olympus. Its towering structure pierces the clouds, hiding its peak. Hunter walks into a store and after a couple minutes, he exits with car keys.
"I got us a Jeep." He throws the keys to my mom and we climb into a Jeep, "Head to the absolute base of the mountain and then take the left. The entrance is on the East side."
"What entrance? Don't you think I deserve an explanation by now?" My dogs climb into the back and sit up, sticking their heads out of the side as my mom pulls out.
"We're going to a place where people like you go to train. I'm also one of those people." He smiles as if he's proud of it.
"You can make people die by yelling the word too?"
"Nothing like that, no. But we do share similar qualities that make us special." I roll my eyes and stare upward again.
"So this secret entrance, is there and escalator or elevator?"
"Something like that. You'll see once we get there, just a couple more minutes Zhen. Be patient." He leans back, kicking his legs up on the dashboard. I throw my hands up in frustration then bring them together; crossing them and pouting.
My mom drives up to the mountain then takes a small dirt road to the left. The road starts to get bumpy so I buckle my seatbelt and cling the nearest thing to my right.
"Keep going Zoe. I'll tell you when to stop." Hunter grabs onto the side of the door where the window is open and looks around, observing the side of the mountain.
"Are we there yet, the rode is getting pretty bumpy!" I look behind myself and see my dogs trying to get a foot hold in the back.
"Stop, we're here!" My mom slams on the brakes and Hunter jumps out and runs to a large rock sticking out of the ground.
"A rock, we came all this way to gain entrance to the top by a rock? Unless it's a flying rock or the rock from SpongeBob I don't think it's going anywhere dude." I grab both my suitcases and Hunters bag and walk beside him.
"This is definitely it. I reacted the same way you did when I first arrived from Texas."
"Wait, Texas? You mean from America? I thought you were from Greece like me!" I punch him in the shoulder and he grabs it in pain.
"Just shut up and let me open it up!" Hunter puts both of his hands on the boulder and whispers something in a strange language. My mother walks next to me and puts a hand on my shoulder. The ground then starts to shake and a hole appears in the center of the boulder.
"How the hell did you do that?" I back up and point at the large opening in the boulder, "That's not possible." My dogs start to bark and Hunter laughs.
"Just get inside!" He grabs my suit cases and puts them in the boulder. My mom climbs in along with Hunter, "C'mon, don't you want your questions to be answered?" He holds out his hand and I hesitantly take it. He pulls me inside and my dogs jump in after me. Then the opening closes, leaving us in the dark.
"Oh great, now we're trapped!" I start banging on the wall, "Help, we're stuck in here!" I grab my chest and start to breathe heavy, leaning on the wall where the opening once was. Then everything starts to shake and I freak out, "Oh my God we're all going to die!" I start banging on the wall again and then it opens, making me fall on my side.
"Here is your answer Zhen!" I get up and look around. We're in a large room with lit torches and there are twelve empty chairs on a large podium looking stage. I look behind me to see the boulder slowly sink into the ground.
"Where are we?" I look around and the entire room is either white or gold with podiums all around us.
"Welcome to the City of Olympus!" Hunter then bows and so does my mom. My dogs huddle around my legs, trying to protect me. I turn around and see twelve people sitting in the chairs.
"Who are you guys?" The big, tall man with white hair and a long white beard stands. He's wearing a white tunic and sandals. He grips a glowing spear and slams it into the ground.
"I am Zeus! God of gods and ruler of Olympus! And you will bow in my presence!" I back up, my dogs growling. Then a tall and skinny woman stands up and puts a hand on him. She has long red hair and her golden gown connects to her wrists.
"Calm down sweetie, he doesn't know any better!" She smiles down at me and then another woman who is shorter but muscular than the first woman with red hair and an owl that is resting on her chair stands and smiles.
"Hello my son. It's good to see you once again." I look at her confused then Hunter chimes in, walking next to me.
"Hello mom." I look at him in awe.
"That's your mom! I thought you said your mom died when she was giving birth to you!"
"That is Athena, my mother. I am a Demi-God Zhen." He smiles and closes my jaw, "Greetings fellow Olympians! I am Hunter Collins, son of the Goddess Athena! And may I present my friend!" He gestures to me and I stand there frozen. I'm still trying to let this entire situation sink in! How do I speak? What do I do? Do I run, or do I approach them and probably face my death?
"What is your name child?" Zeus demands. My name, what is my name? Oh god I'm so scared I can't even remember my name! What is my name?
"Speak up dude." Hunter whispers. I take a deep breath and approach them slowly.
"M-my name is Zhen M-Mávros." I bow slowly and Hunter smiles.
"What are you doing here Zhen Mávros?" Zeus asks in his booming voice. Hunter then jumps in to save me.
"He's here because he has proved to me that his is also a Demi-God!" I'm a Demi-God? What in the world is a Demi-God anyway? I think I learned something like this back in sixth grade but I can't remember!
"How did he prove this Hunter?" Athena asks, taking another step forward.
"Well, on the first day of school, some kids were beating on him. And then he yelled something." He looks at me, not sure what to say next. I shrug, indicating that I have absolutely no clue what is going on.
"Yes, what did he say child?" Zeus asks, in a more generous tone.
"He shouted go die. And then all the kids that were beating him dropped dead." He looks down, waiting for a response. Athena puts a hand on her chest and Zeus rubs his chin. The others start talking amongst themselves.
"I didn't actually want them to die! It just came out!" Zeus looks down at me and squints his eyes.
"A very peculiar way to prove yourself but that isn't the first time a couple of mortals died because of a Demi-God." He chuckles and gestures for the others to be silent, "Zhen Mávros, as an unknown Demi-God, you are here by sentenced to train at the school where many others like yourself go to find themselves! Know this; at this school you face difficult tasks, rigorous training and possible death. Do you accept?"
"Do I have any other choice?" I shrug, my dogs still growling around my legs.
"That's the spirit! Hunter, take him on a tour of the school!" He claps and two kids come running out, "Take Mr. Mávros' possessions and bring them to room fourteen!" The kids bow and take my things and run out. Hunter gestures to my mom.
"I'm going to miss you so much sweetie! Please be safe!" She embraces me with a hug and squeezes tightly, "Be sure to write whenever you get the chance!" She kisses my head and starts to walk away. The boulder emerges from the ground and Hunter grabs my arm, leading me out of the large room and outside.