Athena's descendants and the Jewel of Barthimiaby Callum Espley Clegg / Fantasy / Actions & Adventure / Historical Fiction
Callum Espley Clegg
Copyright 2014 by Callum Espley Clegg
The Jewel of Barthimia
(Edited and Altered)
Callum Espley Clegg
Chapter 1 -
The Last of the Twelve.
In The Clutch of Jordan’s Claws
Attracted to junk.
Taking a plunge.
The unwilling demi-god.
The dreaded beep.
Another plane journey.
The duel-headed snake.
A deadly fall.
The Sirens go off.
Sliding into a hot death.
All is revealed.
The Jewel orders a flight.
A dream team.
Make way for magic.
Exploring the cave.
Another challenge awaits.
The Last of the Twelve.
Jay looked to his right; his long, blonde hair blowing across his eyes as the wind whipped around his face.
The gravelling sound came from the trees behind him. He turned slowly, his trainers scraping at the dusty floor of the forest. He looked to the factory above the trees, the factory he always saw from his bedroom window in the quiet town of Shrewsbury.
Then he lowered his eyes.
The damp, dark leaves of the coniferous towers rustled and same sound came again,
It sounded like a lion. He could feel it now. The hot breath of the flesh eating monster, that lurked somewhere in front of him, was steaming over his face.
There was a stench to its breath like no other. It was not of rotting carcasses or blood and flesh like you’d think, but of plums, sweet plums?
Jay reached into his three quarter length pockets. He felt around and he had nothing to defend himself with. His forehead began weeping as he struggled to remain silent.
He quickly looked to the floor with his fiery brown eyes, and he spotted a large rock.
This thing was going to strike any minute. Whatever it was it was going to pounce. Jay kept his eyes on the trembling trees as he slowly reached for the rock that lay on the ground. There was not a sound in the forest, only the silent chirps of a summer morning and the faint howling of the wind as it weaved through the estate around him. He was about to grasp the rock when his foot slipped and the movement in the trees stopped.
“Uh oh,” Jay murmured.
It leapt from behind the trees and what a sight it was…
It had a head and body of a lion, the tail of a snake and an unusual goats head protruding from its stomach. The giant lion paws housed triangular shaped, black claws of death, and the lion’s mouth showed more teeth than that of a great white. The goat’s head on the other hand had barely any teeth, but mesmerizing red eyes, and the snake’s head was a venomous green, its fangs, two poisonous waterfalls, sharp as needles and as strong as diamonds.
‘Could this creature get any more frightening?’ Jay thought, his subconscious showing a relaxed approach, which wasn’t the perfect mirror image of Jay’s current emotion.
Then it did.
It glared into Jay’s eyes and it snorted, scratching at the floor as it did so. Jay slowly turned his face to the woods. Although he wasn’t looking at the monster, he could feel its glare penetrating deep into his soul.
It lifted its front legs up like a horse and slammed them onto the ground. The bang made the floor shake and Jay knew there was only one thing he could do…run!
He sprinted out of the small clearing and along the forest path he walked down on so many mornings. Unfortunately this wasn’t the same as the other mornings.
‘Well, unless being chased by some abnormal creature counts as normal, which would probably sound about right to them four weirdo’s he’d met five days ago’ Jay thought, his mind playing the cool and casual against the intensifying, petrifying and illuminative scene being played around him, that only belonged in action and sci-fi films.
His heart was pumping so hard he couldn’t control it. His mind was racing. Then suddenly he could see every detail of the forest every sound every smell. He glanced back and the creature was hot on his tail.
The sound of cracking trees could be heard as the monster hurtled through the forest. Leaping. Pouncing. Hot in pursuit.
Growls shook the air, rattling Jay’s limbs to a powerless wreck that meant he’d fall in a heap and land on a hot plate of mud and dirt and dust ready to be devoured by the monstrous creature.
But Jay ran with all the energy he could muster. Legs stretching, arms pumping, racing through the forest like an overweight gazelle.
Then Jay suddenly felt a sense of warmth in the air.
He looked to his right as he was rugby tackled at the waist by a mop heady of dirty blonde hair.
Jay got swept off his feet and landed centimeters off the ground…
There was no time to think as he face planted the floor and the sound of a roaring explosion shook the surroundings. Jay just managed to lift his head to the side to see the creature, its mouth wide and a gigantic jet of fire squirting from its engulfing abyss.
“Gustarmia,” a familiar voice shouted.
Jay pulled himself to a sitting position and looked up. The stare that returned his gaze was definitely a sight he remembered. How could he forget? It was one of those strange kids from the field that day.
“Hello, there. Nice to see you again,” the boy said, smiling and nodding. His sentence was cut short by yet another blast of fire, this time unfortunately, the beast had got his aiming just perfect as the ferocious death opened in their direction.
“MOVE!” the boy yelled, pulling Jay away and shouting yet another strange word, unfamiliar to Jay.
Thankfully this word made an invisible shield appear in front of them as the fire roared. The pearlescent colours twinkled with beauty like a protective dome around the two boys, defending them from the scorching flames.
Then Jay felt a tingling heat on his hand and he pulled his flaming limb to his sight. IT WAS ON FIRE!
“Oh, my, GOD! Ah!” Jay squealed, trying to shake the flame off his hand.
“Oh shut up. It doesn’t really hurt. It’d hurt me, but not you. I’m Jordan by the way, if you’d forgotten,” Jordan said with a smile, before jumping out from behind the transparent shield and running away from Jay.
The beast’s eyes followed him like a hawk, its serpentine tail hissing in a hypnotic dance of danger and death. Swaying to some sort of silent jazzy music and making its scaly tube of a neck wave with a weird ‘dude,-I’m-just-chilling-on-the-back-of-a-but!’ type expression.
Jay stood up from his position and watched in awe as Jordan leaped from a tree and went to strike the creature with a shining sword.
The beast got sliced by the sweep of silver, but it was merely a pin prick.
Jordan went in for a second blow. This time however, the creature was ready.
It raised its paw and slapped Jordan across his chest, sending him flying into the woods. Then it was just Jay and him; that thing. This ‘thing’ could sense Jay behind him and rolled its head as it turned to face its prey.
Jay’s terror shattered his thoughts and movement.
His bones buckled. He was going to die. It opened its terror and a steaming flare of fire exploded from its mouth.
Jay closed his eyes and raised his hands in trepidation as the burning hot orange flares scraped the forest bare and enveloped the entire scene with scorching bright darkness…And he felt nothing.
Jay opened his eyes and all he could see was bright, blinding orange. He held out his arms to block the horrible zesty light and he suddenly felt the pressure of the flames ease off.
He pushed forward with his hands and the flames extinguished in one strong push.
Jay put down his arms, his muscles seemed weak, and he looked deep into the creature’s eyes once more.
“No time to waste, must be off. See you again,” Jordan called, swooping down from the trees and picking Jay up, throwing him onto an invisible mat which Jordan landed on.
Jay fell gently into a ball on the floor of… He looked down and he felt sick. They were gliding over estates and roads and people and cars and everything. Fast. At the speed of light.
“What the hell is going on?” Jay protested with a tone that can only be described as soggy.
The creature was gone, but his fear remained for some reason, maybe the fact of being teleported across the sky was a bit of a shock, especially after being torched by an ancient monster from a dark pit Jay was only told about a few days ago.
“So do you believe you have magic now you’ve used it?” Jordan replied.
“Still digesting! You lot weren’t joking,” Jay said, astounded, his words a rush of ramble.
“There’s no denying it, mate. You’re a ring bearer and your destiny is with us. We must save the world.”
“What was that thing? Back before, that lion, goat creature.”
“Chimaera I think. We were lucky to escape. It’s only like the most terrifying thing in Greek mythology.”
“Hold on, how did you know where I was? You haven’t been?” he paused, “You’ve been following me, haven’t you?”
“Wait, wait, wait. All that stuff about the Greek Gods being real and that they’re fading, the prophecy and that thing about replacing them as well, that’s all true?”
“And about the monsters escaping that jail and taking over the world?”
“Do you say anything other than yes?”
“Surprisingly, yes,” Jordan laughed. He was stood on this floating invisible barrier that was making them fly. He was concentrating though, as if he was controlling it. A bit like something out of Aladdin? Except there was no lamp and genie who he could wish to to ask for some guidance in this magical mess he’d found himself in.
“Here now,” Jordan said.
“Here? What your kiddy camp? I’m not coming till I’ve asked all my-”
Jay was cut short as they rocketed to the ground. It was like being on one of those drop towers, except worse, because there’s nothing holding you, stopping you from plunging to your death. Jay kept his eyes closed as his feet touched ground.
“My God. This is a dream.” Jay held his head. It was pounding. All this information and this new world was too much to take in.
“Good dream or bad dream?” Jordan asked. “Oh, sorry. You were saying something?”
“I haven’t asked all my questions,” Jay said, swallowing back trying to clear the sick feeling he had in his throat.
“Ask Hollie when we get back to camp. Karomas.” he pulled out a watch and clicked it. “Gooble watch, freezes time. We used it when we first met?” Jay smiled and shook his head as the boy pocketed the watch and got ready to run.
“Follow me,” he said, sprinting down the wide pathway.
“I’m not coming!” Jay shouted.
Jordan completely ignored him, continuing his run out of sight down the path. Jay bit his lip and shuffled in his place before saying,
“I’m only coming because you’re going to take me back!”
Jay ran behind Jordan for about a minute, panting and trying to keep up with him. What was Jay doing? What had he eaten for breakfast, some sort of hallucinogenic? This day couldn’t get any weirder.
Two days ago, Jay had met four teenagers around his age at his local park, who had frozen time and tried to talk to him about joining a group of twelve destined ones, called ring bearers, who fight and defend the world from ancient monsters. He had simply shaken off the experience and abandoned them, spending the rest of the day in his bedroom confused. The memory had been truly buried; it felt so unreal it was more of a dream than actual history.
But now he’s running with one of the ‘destined ones’ to somewhere he’s never heard of that defends a magical world unknown to mortals that they live within! With a stupid ring super glued to his finger that apparently gives him the power of some Heph- guy?
This was too much! Jay was a normal kid who lived in a care home, with average grades and a boring lifestyle with no purpose. He wasn’t some magical protector of a mythological world bought back into today because some jail in the underworld has been broken and some ancient gods are growing too weak to protect the earth!
‘What a week.’ Jay thought, his run reducing to a light jog.
The track stopped at a dark, gloomy cave with stalactites dripping from the roof like icicles, making the entrance look like a large mouth, full of razor-like teeth. Stood outside the cave were three people; the same three that accompanied Jordan when Jay and the four first met.
“Hi again,” one of the girls said. She had long, curly black hair and blue eyes that seemed to wave like an ocean. “Liam and Philippa”, she added, pointing to the short lad with light hair and the girl with strawberry blonde hair and a sort of doll-like complexion.
“Oh. Eh, hi? Again,” he replied uneasily.
“Welcome to camp,” Hollie greeted.
“So this is your camp? A cave?” Jay asked.
“This is it,” Hollie announced.
“Eh, Hollie. Can I open it, please? I’ve never done it before,” questioned Liam in a small squeaky voice.
“Yeah, sure. You know what to say, don’t ya?”
At that moment the stalactites started to retreat back to the ceiling and the sound of crumbling rock suffocated the wild noises from the surrounding forest. Then the tiny stream of water along the cave floor rose over the mouth of the cave, covering the entrance like a wand when it’s dipped in a tub of fairy liquid.
Hollie immediately jumped to a protruding rock that lay in the middle of the stream. She glanced back and smiled.
“C’mon, Jay. Come through after me, ok?” Hollie instructed. “Here I go.” She leant back on her legs and leapt through the wall of water. The sheet of water seemed to engulf her. She disappeared. Out of thin air! Like magic!
‘Huh, magic. There’s that word again. Becoming very popular in my dictionary at the moment’ Jay pondered with a smile and a sigh.
“You next then, Jay.” Jay looked back at Jordan, saw his sword at his side, remembered that he’d just saved his life, and jumped onto the flat rock above the water. He wobbled around until he finally got balance.
What was he doing? He was about to jumps through a wall of magical water. An hour earlier he was eating cereal lazily in his pyjamas, dreamily contemplating the boring activities of the day ahead.
He stood there in a leaping position, but whenever he tried to go he seemed to pull himself back. His adventurous and dangerous self was being held back by reality, his precautious self. The boring one.
“Are you alright?” asked Philippa.
Jay, not wanting to show his fear and true emotion, stood up and then leapt through the portal of murky blue. The sensation was weird. It was like stepping into a vortex of blue and white, a feeling of rushing water against your ears. He emerged from a small, what looked quite shallow, pool and onto solid ground. He looked at himself, and then the small pool.
“I’m dry?” Jay asked, looking up to see Hollie in front of him who was also completely crystal crisp, not a drop of water in sight.
“Well, I don’t know the exact reason, but, eh. Watch out the rest of us will be coming soon,” Hollie said, pulling Jay away from the pool, for Jordan had just burst out of it and landed in a fighting position.
“You are such a show off,” Hollie bantered. “Can you tell everyone to meet me in the communal house tonight, I’m gonna show our new kid around.” Hollie led Jay away from the puddle and under a 20ft banner reading ‘ATHENA’S DESCENDANTS’ in a writing which seemed to move and weave within each other.
“Where exactly are we?”
“This, my friend…is your new home.” They walked under the banner and straight in front of them was a large hill, and to the left and right was open space bordered with loads of fruit-filled trees. “That’s Mouvast Mountain. It’s where we go to speak to the Gods.”
“The Gods, of course! So how many people are there here?” Jay’s words came out slurred and pointless to himself. ‘How many people are there here? What a question to start with? Try something more important, when will I get fired by the crazy creature again?’ Jay’s mind spoke to him in frustration, as it loved to do. A habit.
“Oh, there are 12, including you. They each resemble one of the twelve Olympian Gods. Like you here, have the ring of Hephaestus, who is God of the forges and fire,” Hollie said as they trotted around the left-hand side of the hill.
“So what God is your ring then?”
“Ah, mine is Poseidon the God of…”
“Sea isn’t it. I remember seeing it in a book.”
‘Smart arse! Now you’ve done the calm conversation get your but over to those trees, magic up a phone and call nine, nine, NINE!’ His thoughts faded and the calm that kept him sane took over completely. He couldn’t understand why he just suddenly felt as though everything was okay. A warming sensation soothed inside him and his shoulders relaxed from their hunched up position.
“And earthquakes yeah.”
They walked around the mountain, which was hiding a wonderful stream and a large Greek temple. There was a bridge in the middle and a waterfall at the far end.
Jay was taking in all the scenery when Hollie said, “That over there,” she was pointing to the temple, “is where we meet up and then that over there, if you can make it out”, she now moved her hand to point at a stadium, “is the games area where we play squally ball. It’s a magic game.”
“What about that bridge?” Jay asked.
“Ah you probably won’t need to use it because we use our powers to cross the stream when we need to. Anyway, we’re going over that way so as you can get to your house.”
Jay was wondering what Hollie meant by a house, did she mean a mansion, a flat, or a bunk bed. Anything would be better than sharing a room with a screaming eight year old.
They strolled along the verdant bed of grass towards the stream, then in the distance there was a rustling in the trees and a girl made of pure green grass scurried back into, what seemed to be, a tree trunk.
“What was that?” asked Jay, pointing to the trees ahead with a slightly concerned voice which somehow managed to fight the calmness and bring his reality self, back into the fight. It was a bit like a yoyo: reality, calm, reality, calm, reality…
“Oh, was it green or brown?”
“It was a tree nymph, they’re alright but can be quite annoying at times.”
“A tree nymph?” Jay pondered as they drew closer to the river. They reached the bank and Hollie took a deep breath and just walked.
“Where are you going, you can’t walk over wa…..”
Before he could finish his sentence Hollie had started walking, quite casually, over the stream. Like it was just solid ground.
“C’mon it’s safe,” she said as she reached the other end.
“How do you do that?”
“Oh my Gods. Eh, let me think. Poseidon, hmmm. Oh, wait a minute. That’s a stream and Poseidon is the God of water…?”
It took a moment to sink in, then Jay, feeling rather stupid to think that Hollie couldn’t control water seeming as she was the wearer of the ring of Poseidon, followed Hollie over the river.
It felt like you were treading on air, except much better for people with vertigo. Jay reached the other side and then quickly darted up the bank to join Hollie.
“Just, felt, weird,” Jay muttered. He looked up and he could just make out a fire through a gap in the trees.
“Whoa there’s a fire,” he screamed in a timid, low tone, pointing between the trees.
“That’s where our dorms are,” Hollie said calmly as they walked through a gap into a large field, cornered off by lines of trees which surrounded it but leaving four gaps in the middle of each side.
“What is this used for?” Jay questioned.
“This is where we train for battles,” Hollie answered as they carried on towards the fire on the other side.
‘Battles?’ Jay thought, ‘Well it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting bored here.’
“Hey, look. There’s Broudie.” A boy the same height as Jay entered the other side of the field.
“BROUDIE, THIS IS JAY. HE‘S THE NEW ONE. YOU‘LL MEET HIM TONIGHT!” Hollie shouted, her voice showing clear power and dominance.
“HI, JAY!” Broudie screamed back, before carrying on through the field, casually carrying a beautiful sword that reflected bright sunrays back at Jay. He waved his hand but Broudie seemed to have more important things to do than talk to him.
They veered towards the fire, through the trees, and Jay could make out small huts, like old wooden sheds, painted in different colours, gathered around the burning flames.
“So, who’s Broudie’s, you know?” Jay asked.
“Ares, the God of war. Great at battles. You may think he’s brutal but he’s as soft as a brush really.”
They squeezed through the trees and then straight in front was the big fire, surrounded by four logs and twelve colourfully designed huts, some even seemed to be moving.
There was a light blue one with clouds at the top which seemed to be circling the hut; a dark blue one with odd, funny-looking fish on it; a pale blue one with flying shoes on; a light red one with swords that were fighting free handed on it; a purplish one with vines covering it; a yellow one with arrows darting round the corners; a yellow-at-the-bottom-gradually-going-to-red-at-the-top one; a golden coloured one; a grey one; a green one with a horse galloping on it; a pink one with flowers on it and a dark grey one with the moon raining down from the one corner.
“These are the dorms,” Hollie announced.
“They're quite small aren’t they? I mean you can only just about stand in them.”
“Ah. Well, we’ll have to see, won’t we? C’mon this one’s yours.” Hollie pointed at the small red and yellow one and they strolled towards it.
Jay opened the door expecting to see a small ugly shed, but instead he saw a hallway lit with torches and a beautiful carved staircase. Dark wood covering the floor and yellow and red walls all around. The moment Jay stepped in there he felt as though he had been in the Artic and just got back into a soothing hot bath.
“Wow! It’s, it’s amazing,” Jay gasped as he strolled into the hallway and tilted his head around the wall to see an open plan lounge and kitchen. The sofa was hot red and there was a yellow and orange rug on the floor with a wooden table perched on top.
“Nice is it?” Hollie smirked, still stood at the door.
“Yeah,” Jay said, then he turned to see Hollie still outside. “Aren’t you gonna come in, it’s awesome.”
“I can’t, just like you can’t come into mine. It’s enchanted so only the wearer of that ring,” Hollie pointed at the ring on his finger, “can enter this place.”
“Don’t worry. You settle in and don’t come out till I come and get you. I’m sure there are plenty of gadgets you can find in here seeing as Hephaestus is the God of the forges.”
“Right I’ll come and get you in a minute. I just need to tell Amy of our arrival. See ya.” Hollie closed the door and trudged off away from the dorm.
Jay turned around and walked into the front room and then into the kitchen. The kitchen was gleaming white with dark granite cupboards which lined the walls, and a large grey fridge in the corner.
He walked over to the fridge and opened it. It was empty, nothing in there.
Then a voice spoke in a whispered tone,
“What does one want? Close the door and ponder, then you will find what you seek.”
Jay shut the fridge worriedly with a bang, and then stood staring at it. He shut his eyes and opened the fridge very slowly. He then reopened his eyes again and there, sat in the middle of the fridge, was a milk bottle with semi-skimmed written on a bright green label.
“Now that is awesome,” he said nodding at the milk and then taking it out and putting it on the table. He made himself a hot drink with a surprisingly fast-boiling kettle and a similar-acting cupboard. While sitting there, sipping his drink, he took himself back to when he got the ring.
He was at the park with Richard, his friend, when he heard the whistling noise.
He had turned around to see the four teenagers walking towards him in a brisk, uneasy walk and he had somehow ended up being blasted to the floor with a ring magically glued to his finger.
When they had reached him, Hollie had just pocketed a golden watch and the surroundings had frozen in time; Richard had paused in a running motion and many cars had stood still, motionless.
That day he felt more scared than ever, and at first he thought they were just some real good acting bullies trying to play a trick on him. Then Hollie gave her well-practiced speech:
‘Well, see, the Gods are real, the Greek Gods I mean, and they are immortal. Except they can fade, which is what is happening now. See humans are effecting the Gods’ powers like…Poseidon is the god of the seas, and nowadays we have ships and submarines which can control the seas, and the catastrophes the sea makes such as tsunamis can be predicted and the damage lessened. So Poseidon doesn’t control the sea as much anymore, which is why he is beginning to fade. But now more and more are starting to fade, and it’s our job to help them.
Now, as you can see we all have rings just like you and they were given to us by the Queen Goddess, Athena. I say queen but I mean technically that would be Hera, but you get the gist. The Oracle, a powerful woman who can see the future, gave Athena these rings. She told Athena that she must give them to Amy, one of us twelve. These rings can’t be worn by anyone; in fact, there are only twelve chosen people who can wear these rings. You are one of those twelve. Then the oracle told Athena that the rings will give the user the power of magic, and that each ring symbolises one of the twelve Olympian Gods. Before the Gods started fading they managed to create a door to close Tartarus, where the bad monsters go, so that they could not get out. But, the monsters are starting to do exactly that, they are escaping and because of all this fading malarkey, the gods are too weak to stop them. So it is our job, we must protect Olympus and the mortals of the present day. Now hopefully you will join us, I know it’s a lot to take in but this is the truth and we have all been in your shoes before so don’t worry. Now you may ask your questions.’
Hollie’s rambling speech looped over in his mind like a tape.
They had showed him how they could use magic by controlling a puddle of water and Jay had run off. He had left them there and then tried to completely blank them from his mind. How was he supposed to know if they were telling the truth? Then, a fire-breathing monster from mythology had attacked him only a few days later. Just this morning.
It was ridiculous to think that Gods living in a cloudland have always watched down on the mortal world. Even thinking of a divide between mortals and magicals was confusing. At the same time though, Jay really loved this new world he has somehow instantly slipped into. He now had a purpose in life, whether it was a dangerous one, who cares? It was something to battle for.
‘I’m so great aren’t I? Talking as if I’ve got this whole situation sorted and packed up. I haven’t really I just like to think I have. And it is partly true. I guess. I think. Well, I hope.’
After those few minutes of pondering, he made his way back to the hall and up the stairs to the landing, which was also bright yellow and red. At the top was a massive room with a hearth and a giant, king-sized bed in the corner. There seemed to be only one cupboard and then it struck Jay that he had only one set of clothes, the ones he was wearing.
He jumped across the room and pulled the doors of the closet open to see all his clothes from back at the foster home and a red jacket with ATHENA’S DESCENDANTS written on it, hung neatly on a rail.
He was just closing the wardrobe when he heard a knock on the door. ‘That was quick’, he thought. Jay went down to open the door and when he did, thinking he’d see Hollie, he saw nothing.
“Hello?” Jay called as he peered out to see if there was anyone there. “Hello?” he repeated.
Jay stepped out of the dorm into the burning warmth of the sun. He thought about what Hollie had told him ‘don’t go anywhere till I come to get you.’
‘It wouldn’t hurt would it, just to go and have a look?’ he thought.
Just then, there was a rustling in the trees and Jay turned around to see a pair of pink legs disappear through the trees.
In The Clutch of Jordan’s Claws