Einar Kirk, born Einar Kierkegaard in Copenhagen, Denmark, moved to the United States as at a young age with his parents. He wasn't aware at the time that they were moving so that his father could escape gambling debts back in The Old Country. His father was a big gambling fan, though he rarely won, because he always bet on the longshot. This love of gambling was something Einar shared with his father, and bonded often with his daughter over.
When he was only nineteen, Einar lost his father to the addiction when new debtors came to exact their pound of flesh. His mother didn't tell him what happened, and explained that their sudden huge debt came from burial costs. Buckling under the pressure of trying to cover those “burial costs,” Einar sought the money the only way he knew how; gambling. He emptied out his own savings, bought a one-way ticket to Vegas, and wished for the best.
On his third day in the casinos, he met a beautiful young woman who asked if she could watch him play. She'd been watching him for a few hours and, she later explained, sympathized with the misfortune that had filled his life. Within moments of his acceptance, his luck shot straight up – he was hitting 21 every hand, the roulette wheel hit his number almost every turn, he even found a fifty dollar chip stuck to his shoe with chewed up bubblegum. Ecstatic with the good fortune, he called his mystery lady a good luck charm and asked her on a date.
She turned him down, saying that she had to go out of town the next morning, but invited him back to her hotel room. In the morning, before she left, she gave him her business card and insisted that he call her in a few days. He agreed. When those few days passed, he called, but the number routed to UPS.
Heartbroken, but dutiful, he returned home to Connecticut with his winnings to pay off the family debt. A few months later, he answered the door to find his mystery lady, holding a newborn child that she claimed was his. Skeptical – as all people tend to be when a one-night stand shows up four months later with “your” child” – he had several questions. The mysterious woman explained that she was Tyche, Goddess of Luck, and that the child she carried was named Felicitas. Insisting that, as long as the father and daughter were together, the family would prosper, she bid farewell and disappeared, leaving behind a colorful umbrella that Einar could not convince to open.
Einar raised his daughter much like his own father raised him, inducting her to the world of gambling and all its finer points. He realized early on that she had a natural talent for guessing correctly and, as time went on, grew to fully believe that her mother actually had been Lady Luck herself. The problem was that she won too often, and that garnered attention, so Einar had to train Zita to learn how to lose every now and then.
For the most part, Einar wasn't much for casino gambling, which he eventually learned had killed his father. He and Zita spent most of their time placing bets on sporting events, including Zita's own Middle and High School games. One of her favorites, though, was horse racing, as she'd always wanted to learn how to race a horse. It was at one of these events, at the age of 13, that she first became aware of what it meant to be a Demigod – she'd already known that she was the daughter of Tyche, having been told long ago. It was perhaps by luck that it took this long for things to come to fruition.
It was a fairly typical set-up, but one of the races was set to be a big event – it brought in riders from all over the country to compete for a big prize. It was among these riders that she saw the most terrifying horse she'd ever seen. It was the same size as the other horses, but dark, and its mane seemed to be on fire from the right angle. Its rider, she noticed, was a large, formidable man, not the usual smaller size of a jockey.
The race started and, just as the dark horse passed her in the stands, she noticed it began to falter and sniff at the air. The jockey shouted and whipped it back into pace. Once they had made the half circuit to the other size of the track, the horse abruptly changed angle and charged across the middle island, staring – it seemed – directly at Zita.
Track security was active in a moment, throwing ropes and shooting tranquilizers at the now-clearly-on-fire stallion. Its rider was shouting incoherently, at the horse for acting up and at the security for daring to mess with his horse. Didn't they know who he was? As the horse continued trying to fight its way to the stands, the jockey jumped off and started swinging madly at the security. In the confusion and panic, several people started fleeing for the exits. Einar and Zita were among them.
She didn't mention to her father that she felt that the horse was coming straight at her until several months later, after being chased off the beach by a small group of waddly fish men (Telekhines). Several similar, often-ridiculous, situations followed often the next few years, with Einar becoming increasingly concerned – both for his daughter's safety, and for his own fortune if he had to send her away. However, as they'd been escaping these attacks by sheer luck so far, he continued to place his bets on long-term survival.
That changed when, a few days after Zita's 16th birthday, Einar decided to introduce his daughter to the woman that he'd been seeing for a few months. This new woman, “Lizzy,” took one good luck at Zita and sprouted snake legs. Go figure, right? “Lizzy,” no doubt, didn't approve of Zita taunting her as she dodged her around the apartment, pointing out that there two S sounds in “Felicitas,” not sixteen. Einar attempted to help, but was way out of his depth and knocked aside with ease.
As luck would have it, dinner was on and, while fleeing through the kitchen, Zita grabbed a boiling pot of spaghetti noodles and flung it at her attacker. “Lizzy” reeled back, screaming bloody murder as the smell of her burning flesh filled the immediate area. Taking advantage of the delay, Zita decided to push her advantage. Taking note of the age-old tradition that fire = pain, she grabbed hold of the cooking oil on the counter and flung it wildly at the recovering dragon woman.
As the now-enraged snake lady made another charge, now far more hideous under the effects of the attack, Zita jumped to the side, spinning to grab onto her attacker and force her arm into the fire still lit on the stove's range. “Lizzy,” now screaming even louder as the majority of her upper-body was covered in flame, turned and ran from the house, leaving a trail of burning furniture.
Einar woke shortly thereafter to his daughter smacking his face and crying that the house was on fire. Finally conscious, but bruised badly, he jumped to his feet to lead her outside. Once she made it outside, he insisted she stay there and ran back inside.
He was still inside when the fire department arrived, finding a hysterical girl outside, obviously working herself up to running back into the house. One firefighter stayed on point to stop her if she made a break for it while the rest got to work hooking up to the hydrant.
When Einar finally emerged from the house, his clothes ashen and burned, he was coughing endlessly and clutching a colorful umbrella. He managed to hand it off to his daughter before the paramedics practically dragged him back to be placed on a gurney and hauled to the hospital. With the paramedics' blessing, Zita rode in the back with him, staring angrily between her father and the umbrella. Seriously? An umbrella?
Later that day, in a momentary gasp of consciousness, Einar pointed to the umbrella leaning against the wall of his hospital room and wheezed the words “Open it,” before prompty passing back out. Still frustrated, she dismissed the order and continued sitting over the bed, a mixture of fear and anger.
When hours had passed and she decided to get some fresh air, she finally decided to open the bloody umbrella. As expected, it openned into...an umbrella, with a folded piece of paper inside. Openning the paper, she read:
“Felicitas, darling – I've left this enchanted parasol in your father's care to be given to you when you need it. He probably won't think to give this to you before then, so if you're reading this, you've experienced your first monster attack. Please, don't wait for the second! There is a place, a camp, where you will be safe in New York, on the Long Island Sound. Look for the Delphi Strawberry Service. You'll find it – you have my natural talents. Be safe! I love you!
Yours truly, Mom
PS: Don't push the button again unless something's trying to kill you! PPS: Go now! Stop standing there!”
After a night of contemplation, Zita finally realized she couldn't risk bringing another attack to her father's hospital room, and didn't have anywhere else to go to with their house in smoldering ruins. Leaving the note in the care of a nurse who promised to give it to her father, with a small apology added by herself, she left to look for the camp.
She managed to get to the West Egg neighborhood of Long Island using the credit card her father kept filled with her gambling wins, but wasn't certain where else to go. She strolled past an antique shop named “Lucky Finds” and, lacking any other idea, put her faith in the fortune of amazing coincidence. As amazing coincidence would have it, as soon as she walked in, the store's new clerk recognized her and leapt over the counter to slam the door shut, turning the lock and flipping the sign to “CLOSED” in one fluid motion. By time Zita had a chance to look at him, he'd already enclosed her in the store. First and foremost, she noticed, the young man had freaking goat legs.
“Not again!” she screamed, spinning to run in any direction her legs would take her in.
“No, no, stop!” the goat-legged boy cried, effortlessly blocking her path again. “I'm not a monster! I'm a satyr!”
“What the hell is a satyr?” she cried, pushing the umbrella's button the first time to open the canopy.
“Half man, half goat,” he said, his eyebrows scrunching skeptically as though that should have been (and was) obvious.
“Obviously,” Zita answered, hitting the button again and hoping for the best. Immediately, the handle under her hand turned to a hard wood, and the canopy became a ruddish metal. She slid her right arm through the loops that she assumed were for her arm as she yanked the handle away from the shield, unveiling a short, thin bronze polearm.
The satyr paused, smiling admiringly. “Oh man, that's cool.”
“Get back!” she growled, jabbing the air with the blade.
Remembering that he was in a dangerous situation, he stepped back, throwing his hands up in protest. “No, no, wait, stop! You're here looking for camp, right? Right! Tyche's daughter! She sent me!”
“...My mom sent a man-goat?”
“Hey, now,” he sneered, offended.
An awkward silence followed before Zita finally remembered what was happening. “Hey, wait, why should I believe you?”
“What are your instincts telling you?” he asked, already triumphant in his tone.
She paused and thought about it. “To take the chance.”
“I'll take the chance,” she said, lowering her arms. “Uhm. How do I turn this back into an umbrella?”
“Got me,” he replied, “but let's keep it that way, anyway, just in case.”
A few hours of cautious travel later, and some strange looks from the occasional pedestrian, they finally came across the pillars holding up the sign reading “CAMP HALF-BLOOD.” The satyr led her to the entrance to The Big House before dismissing himself, cautioning her as she left that she needs to be more trusting and less prone to stabbing things.
- The name change was for security reasons, but as far as either of them know, it was just somehow US Customs did to help them "fit in" better.
- Officially, she is not related to Soren Kierkegaard, the philosopher. I just chose the name to make myself smile.
- It is meant to be implied that the jockey from the horse race was a Son of Ares.