1 - My Aunts Confuse Me with PoetryIn the dream, I was in a library.
All the books were blank. Plain covers, no writing on the spines, no words on the pages. This was pretty disappointing for me - I'm an avid reader, albeit a slow one.
A few people hung around the library, but none of them were moving - they just stared at random spots on the shelves, or sat peering into a blank book. Their faces were unnaturally placid and emotionless.
It was creeping me out, so I walked away from them towards the only door I could see, which was made of wood and painted plain white. An old librarian wearing round, Harry-Potter-style spectacles was standing next to it watching me, a serene smile on her face. She looked just like a stereotypical librarian.
'Are you borrowing anything?'
The woman fixed her gaze on me, and then I noticed her eyes. Bright purple, more intense than the eyes of a normal person. Exactly like mine.
The woman laughed, and began to glow. Her pink cardigan, grey blouse and pencil skirt changed into a white chiton embroidered with letters of the Phoenician alphabet, and her scruffy grey hair became shiny and bronze-coloured. Soon, she looked no older than twenty. She also looked exactly like my mother.
Yes, my mother is a Greek goddess. Apart from the spectacles, Clio prefers to wear ancient clothing. She's the Muse of history, and being her child doesn't grant me powerful magic or super strength. I was born with a photographic memory, skill at singing and playing instruments, the ability to read foreign languages (I think that's because she introduced the Phoenician alphabet to Greece, or maybe she just likes reading in other languages) and occasional visions of past events, which aren't exactly helpful because I end up fainting whenever I have one. They used to worry my stepmother to bits.
Oh, and I also have purple eyes.
The children of Clio don't usually accomplish much in the way of monster-fighting or quests, although one of her children, Pierre de Coubertin, did start up the modern Olympics. Nike, goddess of victory, wasn't too happy with him though, because he also said that taking part was more important than winning, which goes against her win-at-all-costs philosophy. He still won a gold medal for literature, though.
'Hello again, Erasmia,' my mother said. 'You are very observant. This meeting must be short, I'm afraid. My sisters - your aunts - want to see you too, and with so many godly auras it won't be long before someone... notices us talking.'
As if on cue, the other nine Muses burst through the door.
In any picture of the Muses ever, they are all dressed more or less the same. This is largely because whenever each one wears exactly what she likes, they look ridiculous.
For example, Calliope, muse of epic poetry, was wearing full armour, but in her hand she held not a sword but a quill. Terpsichore was dressed like a ballerina, Melpomene in a gothic outfit and Urania in a dark blue dress that glittered like a starry night. They made me glad that Clio's name is so easy to pronounce. Even their mother's name was Mnemosyne.
'We have a prophecy from Apollo, and we thought that we should let you know secretly, so we made a dream for you!' Erato said. 'Well, Clio did.'
'But why are you going to tell me? Why not any of your other children?'
Clio adjusted her spectacles and pulled out a scroll. 'We believe it involves the Hunters.'
Euterpe snatched the scroll from her - 'I'm doing this part.' - and began to read it, her voice clear and melodic.
The odds shall be evened by the Proclaimer's foe
Hunters and campers divided by strife
And the truth will precede the first loss of life.'
I memorised the prophecy and swallowed. Silver arrows - that probably means the Hunters of Artemis, whom I joined a few months ago. 'Okay... thanks.'
Suddenly, the library started to shake, books falling off the shelves like in an earthquake. The people still didn't move, though. I doubted that they were real.
'Someone's disrupting the dream,' whispered Clio. The other Muses panicked and disappeared.
'I'll have to go now. You can tell Artemis about the prophecy, but please, no one else. Apollo can't find out - he's bit touchy about us passing on his prophecies to mortals without permission. Last time, he took away Terpsichore's voice. She was heartbroken.'
Clio started to fade away. I didn't even get to say goodbye before I woke up.
I was at our camp, in my tent with Third Lieutenant Rowena who, as a daughter of Zeus, is technically my aunt. I try not to think about that much.
Some of the other Hunters older are than me by centuries, but most are about the age of senior citizens, while I'm barely fifteen. All of us look like teenagers and tweens, because Hunters of Artemis can't age or get sick - we can only die in battle, which is more likely than you would think. In return for eternal youth and health, as well as enhanced strength, speed and skill at archery, we devote our lives to hunting with Artemis and remain maidens forever. Lots of different girls have joined - demigods seeking adventure, nymphs tired of being chased by satyrs, mortals who Artemis rescued from danger.
Rowena was asleep, her face covered by her hair. I didn't know what time it was, or how the other Hunters were doing. I considered putting on my night-vision glasses.
'Hello?' I whispered as loudly as I dared.
'Erasmia? Is that you?' The voice sounded like Artemis.
'I had a dream... there was a prophecy about us. "Night will face silver arrows in snow..." and do you know who the Proclaimer is?'
'Clio.' Artemis, or whoever it was, walked closer - I could hear the leaves crunching underneath their feet.
'That's how some of the ancient writers referred to her. I thought you'd know that, being her daughter.'
'There aren't really many stories about her. I don't know much that she hasn't told me herself.'
'Actually, you know what? It might mean you. Prophecies are usually hard to interpret - my brother loves making things complicated.'
Yep, I was indeed talking to Artemis, twin sister of Apollo.
Great. The enemy of either me or my mother is going to "even the odds," presumably by making whatever Night is harder for us to fight.
'Don't tell the other Hunters. Um, I'm not supposed to share it with anyone except for you. Can you keep it a secret?'
'You know what? Ap... no, I'm not going to say his name - I'll just get his attention. Anyway, he likes to share prophecies with me. They're his life's work, and he doesn't think that mortals can "appreciate" them. If I can get his permission to tell the other Hunters, then I will. Otherwise, you can trust me to keep it quiet.'
'Okay.' I rolled over in my sleeping bag.
'And Erasmia? Please don't worry yourself about it. It will probably be a while before the prophecy comes to pass. I mean, it's not even snowing yet.'
I wanted to worry. I wanted to plan ahead.
Instead, I fell asleep.