“This is it.” Will’s mother announced as she docked the boat with skilled precision. I wanted to get off this boat more than anything in my life. Will’s newly restored relationship with his mother was taxing on my health. I wanted to grab Will and drag him as far away from the woman as I could. Instead, I watched from the dock as Will’s mother handed him our only two bags.
“Thanks mom.” Will responded. The woman smiled at him and petted his golden curls down on his head. I felt briefly jealous. She hadn’t earned the right to touch Will. Hell, I hadn’t even ran my hands through Will’s hair yet. It looked so soft, and fluffy I was saving the experience. In my eyes, she wasn’t somebody who deserved a second chance with Will. She was still just the woman who blamed her small child for all of her wrong doings.
Will waved goodbye and together we walked down the dock. I heard her shout a goodbye to me as well and I gave a half-hearted wave over my shoulder and tried to hide my scowl.
I heard Will chuckle from beside me as he linked together our chained hands and smiled at me. I felt heat rise to my face as I looked away.
“Hopefully you will get used her.” I huffed at his request in anger.
“I’ll get used to her the day you spend some quality time with my father.” Will paled immediately at the idea of spending time with my father. I smirked and he seemed to get the idea as we continued to walk down the dock and into the town.
“So where are we going to find this tree?” I asked as I bit into my lunch.
We had stopped at a local street vendor and ordered two sandwiches of smoked pork wrapped in dense bread. Will insisted we sit down at a bench and unravel our maps and other quest information. Will had immediately identified the sandwiches as a local specialty and named them something I could hardly even remember let alone pronounce. Instead, I took a large bite of my sandwich and tried not to drop any sauce onto our map. It was so good, I briefly considered going back to the vendor buying more for the road.
“Ask the locals I suppose.” Will answered as he took a small bite of his sandwich and immediately wiped his mouth the one of the many napkins he had taken from the vendor. I flushed when I remembered how I had simply taken a huge bite of my sandwich, completely forgetting my manors. Will must have thought it was incredibly gross.
I felt myself grow self conscious as I began wiping my face with my sleeve.
Will chuckled and handed me one of his napkins, which I accepted. My face was still red from embarrassment.
“It’s not a big island. If there is a godly tree anywhere around here, the locals are sure to have a story about it. We could probably ask anybody.” Will pointed out. I nodded and sat back on the bench. We had been so wrapped up in the hunt for a tree that I never stopped to appreciate all the amazing places we had been to.
San Francisco was amazing, and the festival was even more so. I remembered how Will and I had danced as if propelled by the wind itself.
I remembered our kiss…. However, it didn’t really feel like our kiss since we had been forced to do it. I glanced at Will from the corner of my eye. Wondering if he wanted to kiss me of his own free will… I wondered how it would be different when we went back to camp.
Will caught me starring and smirked before intertwining our hands once more and laying his head on my shoulder.
“It’s beautiful.” Will said nodding out toward the ocean that surrounded the island.
“If you think this is beautiful, you should see Venice.” I mumbled. I felt Will shift as he lifted his head at starred at me.
“I’d like too.” He said. I blinked and glanced down at him. His face illuminated by the high noon sun.
“You’d like too what?”
“Go to Venice.”
“Who else would I go with?”
I smiled and nodded before standing up to throw away our food garbage and bringing Will with me.
“It’s a date than I guess.” I declared and Will laughed.
“An old Myrtle tree?” The man at the bar asked. I nodded and he reached for a wet glass and started drying it absentmindedly. Will shot me a glance as he sipped on his virgin daiquiri. It made him look just like a tourist with his tan skin, blonde hair, and khaki shorts.
“Are you talking about the ghost tree up on the volcano?” the man finally responded, his Hawaiian accent was thick and powerful like a tall tree.
“Is it the only Myrtle tree on the island?” Will asked. The man chuckled.
“It’s the only unique Myrtle tree on this island. But it’s at the edge of the haunted forest. People who’ve seen it say there is a ghost that lives in the tree.”
Will and I shot each other a glance at the same time, both of us thinking the same thing. It had to be the tree. Too many things connected it to our quest.
“Can you show us the way to the forest?” I asked, suddenly very excited. This was a small island. I could go up there, banish the ghost possessing the tree, cut it down and Will and I can be headed back to camp by dusk. I had never felt such a urge to return to Camp Half-Blood.
The man shook his head and reached for another glass.
“No can do, small fry.” I felt a surge of anger at the size jab. “The forest is haunted. It has a bad vibe. My business is new and I don’t want to be on the gods bad side.” I wanted to groan. Why would Aphrodite make it so hard to get this damn tree? Why couldn’t she just swoop down here and cut it down herself? Part of me knew that there were rules that even the Gods have to follow. And if one of those rules are that only true soulmates can cut down a Godly Myrtle tree than even Aphrodite herself has to follow that.
“Do you have a map? I can circle where the tree is though and draw you a path.” Will nodded and reached into my pack and pulled out our map. The man looked at it and his brow furrowed. Will had written several side notes in ancient Greek on the side. Considering we were both dyslexic, it was the only thing we could easily read and keep a large part of the general population from learning of our quest.
However, the mist could make the map notes unreadable anyway.
The man ignored our notes and took out a red marker as he drew a line from his little bar, through town, and up the mountain side, and into a forest. He stopped at a small clearing and drew a large circle around it.
“The tree is in that clearing. You can’t miss it. It is old and wise.” He declared and Will thanked him before sliding a five dollar bill for his drink and another ten for his services.
He accepted both and bid us good luck on whatever two teenage boys wanted with an old myrtle tree.
“We’ve been walking for years.” Will complained. I rolled my eyes and pulled him up a tall rock with me. It was especially difficult navigating the forest when we were both bound together so closely.
“Try three hours. And we are getting close.” I said. In my peripheral vision, spirits fluttered in and out of sight. Whoever named this forest the haunted forest knew their stuff. This place was a breeding ground for spiritual activity. Metaphorically of course.
A rabbit nearby stepped on a twig and Will jumped into my arms.
“They’re right aren’t they?” He asked in a trembling voice. “This is a haunted forest.”
I laughed and led him further up the volcano.
“Oh yes. This place is riddled with ghosts.” Will whimpered. “But they won’t hurt us. You’re safe with me?”
Will stopped, smirked and placed his hands on my waist. I blushed brightly at his sudden bold action. I couldn’t imagine the Will Solace from a week ago showing my such sudden physical affection.
“I’m safe with you am I?” He muttered. I blushed and nodded. My eyes looking anywhere but his face. The image of my protecting Will was a favorable one.
“Do you wanna go on a date with me after this?” Will asked. He smooth demeanor suddenly gone, and instead he was blushing wildly. “I mean… We are in Hawaii… We could not get it go to waste.” My face was as red as his but I laughed.
“We are literally soulmates and you’re embarrassed about asking me on a date.” I stated.
“Well you’re embarrassed about saying yes to a date!” I could practically feel steam coming out of my ears.
“I am not! I’m embarrassed for you! Because you asked me in such a lame way.”
“It was not lame! I’m sorry I forgot my tuxedo and a dozen red roses!” Will shot back as he let go on my waist and crossed his arms in a huff. There was the old Will. I felt annoyance and a surge of affection rise up within me.
I loved the way his nose wrinkled when he was upset, and the way he would cross his arms in a childish huff. I had probably always loved it.
I opened my mouth to say something when a sudden light interrupted me.
The light was from a clearing ahead of us. Bright, and open to the sky above Hawaii.
“Will…. We’re here.” Will opened his eyes and looked out toward the clearing. I watched as a large smile spread across his face and we both began making our way toward the opening in the forest.
The myrtle tree stood almost fifteen feet tall. It’s trunk only getting about four feet off the ground before the entire think seemed to explode in color. Reaching out toward the sky with it’s pink flowers and dark wood. The same smooth, dark wood the made up Aphrodite’s staff.
“We found it!” Will exclaimed as he turned around and pulled me into a hug. I felt myself instantly melt against his body as I threw my arms around his neck. His smell enveloped me and I was filled with giddiness. We could harvest the tree, and be home. And Will and I’s relationship could finally begin.
“Who are you?” A small voice asked. Will put me down and we both turned toward the source of the voice. A small girl stood at the base of the Myrtle tree. Her dress the same color as the pink flowers, and her hair was tried up in a complex bun. Her skin was dark, like the natives of the island, and the bark of the myrtle tree.
“Are you the ghost the haunts this tree?” Will asked. I inspected the girl. A powerful aura radiated off of her small body and I watched as her skin shifted. Like bugs were crawling under her skin.
“Will… That’s no spirit.” I said taking a step back.
“I am the guardian of the tree. Leave this place, half-bloods.” She declared, her voice deepening and the sky above us darkening.
“We need this tree. We were sent by your master, Aphrodite.”
“I serve no God.” She declared. “I protect only the tree and nothing beyond it. Leave this place.” She repeated.
I pulled out my sword slowly and Will reached into his belt for his small dagger. It would be hard to fight while linked like this. But we would if we had to.
“We need that tree, lady.” I yelled at her. Around us, the temperature began to rise and the winds began to pick up. She laughed when she saw our weapons drawn and her small bare feet lifted off the grass surrounding the Myrtle tree.
“I’m not going to fight you, demi-gods.” She said, her voice booming down the volcano side. Birds flew away in a panic, and animals both big and small took off in fright.
Will sent me a frightened glance. Our instincts telling us to run.
The girl raised her hand high into the air.
“Leave this place.” She demanded.
The volcano around her began to release clouds of smoke that billowed out the sun itself in less than a minute. Soon, a illumination of red fire mixed in with the gray smoke. Surrounding us in a eerie cage. The smoke was so thick, we couldn’t even see the Myrtle tree.
“Nico…” Will began. Before he could finish, I heard a high pitched whistle above me. Like somebody blowing a dog whistle. Faint but unmistakable. Before I could think about what it could be a huge rock crashed into the ground behind us.
“Nico!” Will shouted, losing his balance and falling to the ground. I cursed and lunged for him, wrapping my arms around him tightly and closing my eyes. Thinking of the safest place we could be right now.
I used the last of my energy to shadow travel Will and I away as the sky fell around us.
Had to retype all the shit.
But my finals are over and I have three weeks of winter break. Hollah.