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From Percy Jackson: Camp Half-Blood Confidential: Your Real Guide to the Demigod Training Camp, Page 2

Rick Riordan

  The first Camp Half-Blood was modest—just an open-air arena for combat practice, a courtyard for meetings and dining, and a large stone building with sleeping quarters. The building made an impression on at least one camper, who exclaimed, “Now that’s a big house!” when she saw it. The name stuck, and forever after our headquarters has been called the Big House.

  The demigods lived together in the Big House at first, but with more campers coming each year, space became tight. Fights broke out. Demigods, it seemed, inherited rivalries as well as gifts from their godly parents. To keep the peace, I divided them into family groups and told them to design and build cabins that honored their godly parents. Thankfully, the bickering died down to a quiet roar after that.

  As Apollo had once turned over teaching duties to me, I turned over some of the training to experienced campers. I meant for them to pass along their knowledge of fighting and survival skills. And they did, but they also passed along family feuds, closely guarded secrets, and hazing traditions. When the Hephaestus cabin almost burned down the dryads’ forest during a late-night game of truth or dare (“Dare: blow up this amphora”), I asked Argus the Hundred-Eyed to join our staff as security guard.

  At the time, Argus was recovering from a near-death experience. On Hera’s orders, Hermes had brained him with a rock while Argus was guarding a white heifer—who was actually Io, Zeus’s latest, er, lady friend. Hera saved Argus by turning him into a peacock. He eventually morphed back into his original form and jumped at the chance to come to Camp Half-Blood. Good thing he did, too, for without him, we might not have detected the first major threat to our existence: a monstrous horde that almost wiped Camp Half-Blood off the map.

  “Whole bunch coming,” Argus reported late one night. “Nasty ones.” (Even back then, he didn’t waste words. Having an eye in the middle of your tongue makes talking uncomfortable, not to mention eating hot soup.)

  We’d had random monster attacks before. We’d always fended them off. But this attack was different. It was an organized effort—I never discovered who organized it, though I have my suspicions—and it was huge.

  Hundreds of monsters—nasty ones indeed—swarmed the camp from every corner. I sounded the conch horn to raise the alarm, grabbed my bow and quiver, and galloped into the courtyard. “This is not a drill, people!” I cried. Demigods surged out of their cabins to face the greatest challenge of their young lives. Win, and Camp Half-Blood would endure. Lose, and the camp, along with countless lives, would be lost forever.

  Fighting raged through the night. The demigods battled bravely and with skill, destroying monsters with swords, spears, arrows, and other weapons. But we were far outnumbered. I feared Camp Half-Blood was doomed.

  Then, just as rosy-fingered dawn peeked over the horizon, a new battle cry sounded in the distance. Former campers who had learned of our desperate plight now came charging to our aid. As one, we attacked our enemies with renewed vigor. We cut down one monster after another until their dusty remains blanketed the ground. Those we didn’t send to Tartarus fled back into the wilds.

  I had never been prouder of my campers, old and new. Nor had I ever been more ashamed of myself.

  You see, I knew that so many demigods living in one place was like an all-you-can-kill buffet for monsters. Yet I had convinced myself that our campers needed no other protection than the skills we taught them. My pride had nearly been our destruction, but I learned my lesson. I immediately sent an Iris-message to Olympus asking for help. The gods heard our plea. The next day, a magical border settled over and around the grounds—a barrier that would both conceal the camp from unfriendly eyes and repel future attacks.

  The camp has changed locations over the millennia, always grounding itself near the seat of Olympus as the gods move from one dominant nation to another. Thousands of demigods have called Camp Half-Blood home since that long-ago battle. You might know some of their names: Arthur. Merlin. Guinevere. Charlemagne. Joan of Arc. Napoleon. George Washington. Harriet Tubman. Madame Curie. Frank Lloyd Wright. Amelia Earhart. And many more demigods, still living, who have asked that I not reveal their identities. New names are added to the list each summer, and more still will join the ranks in the centuries ahead.

  That is my hope, at least. For the demigods of the past, present, and future are more than just campers to me. They make my immortal life worth living. They are my tribe.

  SCENE: A background choir of demigod a cappella singers stands on stage. They’re dressed in classic 1950s doo-wop attire—black suits, white shirts, skinny ties. Apollo, similarly attired except that his tie is gold, takes center stage. He faces the singers and strums a chord on his lyre. He points to the boys.

  BOYS [singing]: Doooooooooo!

  [Apollo points to the girls]

  GIRLS [harmonizing]: Waaaaaaaaaaa!

  [Apollo points to himself]

  APOLLO [spit-singing]: Ppppppppp!

  [Apollo waves his arm]

  ALL: Dooo-waaapppp!

  APOLLO: Ladies and gentlemen…the Lyre Choir!


  BOYS and GIRLS [singing soft background harmony with a slow beat]: Doo-da-doo, waa, waa. Doo-da-doo, waa, waa. [continues]

  APOLLO [crooning to the beat]: Marble may be marble-lous,

  And wood might be good.

  Stone’s a sturdy choice

  For this half-blood neighborhood.

  But for my children’s cabin,

  I demand something more divine.

  So give me precious metal,

  [background harmony swells]

  And make it GOLD every time!

  ALL: Gold, gold, gold, gold—there’s nothing quite so bright!

  Gold, gold, gold, gold—it reflects Apollo’s might!

  [Apollo cuts off background singers]

  APOLLO [crooning solo]: Silver suits my sister

  But unattended, it can tarnish.

  Roofs of thatch are fine, I guess,

  But why not add some varnish?

  [background harmony resumes softly]

  Vines of wine are creepy,

  And abalone smells of fish.

  [background harmony grows louder]

  Red’s too strong a color,

  And gray is boring-ish.

  [background harmony grows louder still]

  That’s why my children’s cabin

  Is made of something more divine.

  I’m worth that precious metal—

  [background harmony swells]

  So make it GOLD every time!

  [Cheers and applause]

  ALL: Gold, gold, gold, gold…

  Talk about curb appeal! Tastefully decorated inside and out, these charming units are big on comfort and totally unique in style—one might even say each has its own personality! Of course, location is key, and you couldn’t ask for a better spot than this. The twenty cabins are within easy walking distance of all camp amenities as well as training and recreational facilities. Don’t see a unit dedicated to your particular godly parent? No worries! Once you’re claimed, one can be built to suit. In the meantime, pull up a bunk in Cabin Eleven and stay awhile!

  WARNING! The divine cabins area is an active construction site, so please watch out for exposed nails, exploding blocks, and cracks that could plummet you to the Underworld.

  For generations, Camp Half-Blood had only twelve cabins—one for each major Olympian deity. The odd-numbered cabins were dedicated to the Olympic gods, the even ones to the Olympic goddesses—except for Cabin Twelve, which Dionysus took over when Hestia gave him her seat on the Council of Olympus, but that’s another story. Anyway, after the Titan War, my kindhearted boyfriend, Percy, made the Olympians promise that all demigods, not just the kids of the major twelve, would have cabins of their own.

  Which is just like Percy: doing something impulsive and compassionate, and making my life difficult in the process. See, I’m the camp’s resident architect, which meant that the task of designing all those new cabins fell to me.

  Don’t get me wrong. I supported Percy’s plan one hundred percent. But after building units thirteen through sixteen—Hades, Iris, Hypnos, and Nemesis—the cabin area started to look cramped. I met with Chiron to discuss the problem.

  “Space,” I told him, “could be an issue.”

  “Any ideas?” Chiron asked.

  I brainstormed aloud: “We build upward, combine new cabins into one tall complex. Demigods associated with the earth on lower levels, with the sky on top.”

  Chiron shook his head. “Intriguing idea, but experience has shown me that demigods from different families don’t cohabitate well.”

  “Okay, scratch that.” I pointed at the nearby forest. “What about tree houses? Enclosed platforms, elevated walkways, ladders, rope swings—”

  Chiron cut me off. “The dryads wouldn’t go for it. And imagine what would happen if a demigod took to sleepwalking.”


  “Only one available, and Apollo has claimed it for his Oracle.”


  “Sleepwalking again, plus the naiads would nix it. Also, we need the lake for trireme practice.”

  I cast around for inspiration. My eyes fixed on Hestia, who was tending her hearth in the center of the commons. You’d think a major Olympian goddess would attract a lot of notice sitting in the middle of camp, but Hestia came and went without any fanfare, usually in the shape of a young girl in plain brown robes. I hadn’t noticed her, because she was so small and low profile.

  Small and low profile.

  An idea hit me like a Zeus-thrown thunderbolt.

  “I’ll get back to you tomorrow,” I told Chiron.

  The old centaur chuckled. “I know that look. You have an idea.”

  “Yeah,” I admitted. In fact, my brain was buzzing. “But I want to work out some details before I share it with you. See you at breakfast.”

  That night I worked into the wee hours, pausing only to…well, to wee. In the morning I had my blueprints ready, but I still needed more time.

  At breakfast, I broke the news to Chiron. “I want to set up a construction site in the southern woods.”

  He furrowed his bushy eyebrows. “You’re not thinking of building the cabins there, are you? As I said, the dryads won’t—”

  “I just need a secluded work area,” I said. “I won’t build anything big or permanent in that space. Trust me on this, okay?”

  Chiron stroked his beard. “Well, you’ve never let me down before. And I do owe you for designing those centaur-size bathrooms for the Big House. Very well, Annabeth. You have my permission.”

  The next days were a feverish blur of measuring, sawing, and hammering. By week’s end, I’d completed a full-scale model of my design, premounted on a wheeled platform for easy moving. I bribed my pegasus friends Blackjack and Porkpie with some donuts, and they agreed to haul my creation out of the woods and into the commons.

  A few campers wandered over to see what I’d built. “It’s supercute!” gushed Lacy from the Aphrodite cabin. “But what is it?”

  “A portable storage shed,” Clarisse La Rue guessed, eyeing the wheels. “Or a covered chariot. No, wait. It’s a rapid-deployment outhouse.”

  “None of the above,” I replied, slightly offended. “I call it a tiny house. Check it out!”

  I threw open the door and invited them in, a few at a time. The main sitting room was compact but perfectly livable. Two built-in cushioned benches along the walls doubled as beds. I lifted the cushions. “And see? There’s storage underneath the beds for your clothes, armor, weapons. It’s even long enough for that electric spear of yours, Clarisse.”


  Clarisse sounded unimpressed, but that didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. I pointed to the narrow staircase against the back wall. “Upstairs is a loft with two more twin beds. Or it could be used as a game room, meeting area, whatever. I made the ceiling extra high so headroom isn’t an issue. Under the stairs is more built-in storage. But the best part is over here.”

  I squeezed past them and rolled open a narrow pocket door in the corner. “Ta-da!”

  “So it is an outhouse,” Clarisse said.

  “It’s a private bathroom,” I corrected. “Whoever lives here never has to use the common facilities again.” I smirked at her, remembering the drenching Percy had once given her by blowing up the camp toilets. “You of all people should appreciate that.”

  Clarisse reddened. “I’m coming down with claustrophobia.” She shoved past me and out the door.

  I turned to Lacy. “You see the potential here, right? Microhouses are the future. This is cutting-edge architecture!”

  She looked at the whitewashed walls, taupe cushions, and unadorned windows. “Well, it’s kind of…boring inside.”

  “It’s only the model,” I said defensively. “Whoever lives here can decorate it however—”

  A tap on the door interrupted me. Chiron poked his head in and frowned. “I would come in for a tour, but, ah, I fear there is no room.”

  “Good luck,” Lacy whispered to me. Then she slipped past Chiron and hurried away.

  I got out of the way so Chiron could come in and clop around the tiny house. It was large enough to accommodate him, but just barely. The entire walk-through took him about three steps.

  When he emerged again, he looked deep in thought.

  “It’s only the model,” I told him.

  “Hmm?” He focused on me as if trying to process my words. Then he exhaled with relief. “Oh, a model. I see. In that case…yes, this might work.” He scanned the cabin area as if calculating the acreage. “We’ll need about four, don’t you think? Please proceed with construction.”

  Designing and building one tiny house had been fun. Constructing four? I was over the moon. “I won’t let you down, Chiron!”

  Two weeks later, I let him down.

  I had been working overtime to modify my original design. I widened the doorways for better access. I got some magical paint from the Hephaestus cabin so the exterior color of each new minibuilding could be changed with just a touch, making each one unique. I applied everything I knew about extra-dimensional construction to create impossibly deep storage containers, a larger shower in the bathroom, and built-in furniture that could be moved, collapsed, or reshaped as desired. With a snap of your fingers, you could turn the living area into a bedroom, or a gym, or a dining room, or a military command center that even Clarisse would be proud of. I added a dozen preprogrammed interior-decorating schemes so Lacy could never accuse the space of being boring. When I finally rolled out the new cabins and proudly presented them to Chiron, I expected him to be pleased. Instead, he looked puzzled.

  “Um…is this it?”

  I frowned. “You asked for four, right?”

  “Four cabins. Not four models.”

  My spirits deflated like a bunch of month-old party balloons.

  “Oh, dear,” Chiron murmured when he saw my face. “That model you showed me—that was the full-size cabin, wasn’t it?”

  I nodded. “That was the whole point, wasn’t it? Saving space? I—I thought smaller buildings…”

  He kindly laid his hand on my shoulder. “Annabeth, your work is exemplary. But as lovely as these units are, I fear that the children of, ah, lesser deities—for lack of a better term—will not appreciate accommodations so much smaller than the other cabins.”

  The flaw in my concept was so obvious, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t considered it. The whole point of Percy’s plan was so our new recruits—and their godly parents—would feel included at camp—equal, not lesser. But they wouldn’t see my tiny houses as fun minimalist living spaces. They’d see them as yet another snub from the more powerful deities and their kids. I was so embarrassed, I wanted to crawl under a rock.

  “I’ll get Harley to blow up the tiny houses,” I mumbled. “He’ll like that.” I turned to go, but Chiron stopped me.

  “Wait a moment.” He studied the uni
ts. “These have wheels.”

  “Yeah. I mean, they don’t have to have wheels, but I thought—”

  “Perhaps I was too hasty,” Chiron said. “Let me try something.”

  He put his shoulder to the closest minicabin and pushed it toward the next one in line. Having the strength of a stallion, Chiron had no trouble moving the tiny houses around. A few more shoves and he had arranged the four units so they were back-to-back, two on either side. The slanted rooftops joined into one centerline peak. In short, the tiny houses looked as if they’d been designed to fit together as a single structure that was about the same size as the older cabins.

  “You know,” Chiron said, “I think this might work quite nicely for our newest pair of demigods.” He called across the commons, “Holly! Laurel!”

  Identical twin girls who had been arguing on the steps of Hermes cabin raced over, each trying to push the other out of the way so she could be first.

  “What’s up?” asked the one on the left.

  “Contest?” the one on the right asked eagerly. “World war?”

  “Something even more exciting,” Chiron promised. “Annabeth, I’d like you to meet Laurel and Holly Victor, recently claimed daughters of Nike, the goddess of victory. Laurel, Holly, this is Annabeth Chase, the most gifted architect at camp. She redesigned the palaces of Mount Olympus!”

  The twins’ eyes widened in amazement. I felt a little self-conscious with Chiron praising me. I was, in fact, the only architect at camp. But that bit about redesigning Mount Olympus—that was true. It was the centerpiece of my college-admissions portfolio.

  “What you see in front of you,” Chiron continued, “is Annabeth’s latest triumph: completely customizable, modular cabins.”

  Laurel edged toward the nearest tiny house. She peeked inside the door. “It’s small.”