The beginning. Well, I suppose that could be anywhere, couldn’t it? Every day is the beginning of something. But I guess the beginning of me would be my mother being born.
My mum was born to Apollo and Jean-Louise Ros in 1954 in Austria. She lived a fairly normal life as a demigod, surviving through to adulthood merely through good luck, she says. She still has visible scars on her back from a hellhound attack and winces every time she bumps them.
On the New Year's Eve of 1973-74, my mum embarked on the long journey to Australia to backpack around and see another side of the world. It was here, on Sydney’s Bondi Beach, that she met my father. My mother had been swimming and (having never swam before) began drowning. I know, she’s a smart one. Anyways, as she was drowning she swore she saw sharks circling her. An unspecified period of time later, she awoke on the beach, a ruggedly handsome man staring into her eyes. He was checking to see if she was ok, but my mother being who she is, she reached up and slapped him across his face, thinking he was trying to make a pass at her.
The relationship progressed from there I guess. Mum never told me this part of the story, how I was conceived. I think I prefer it that way, I don’t really want to know what my mum and dad got up to in the bedroom. So, in the spring of 1974, I was born. Mum had of course, as a demigod, recognised my father as a god and asked him exactly who he was. Seeing no point in lying, Palaemon confessed his identity. Satisfied, my mother asked for a name that I could take, not wanting to use her surname. Palaemon thought for a bit, and then whispered in my mother’s ear. He then smiled and disappeared, and that was the last time my mum saw him.
That day, the day of my birth, was near perfect. But then the next day the whole world came crumbling down. In a routine check-up I was found to have bone marrow issues and would need a transplant donor. My mum couldn’t handle the news, knowing a weak demigod would never survive, and prayed night and day to her dad, Apollo.
I guess he heard my mum’s prayers, because the next thing I knew was I felt great, and the doctors called me “the miracle baby”. Mum was overjoyed. Apollo had strengthened my bones to more than that of the average demigod, making them harder to break. He cleared away my bone marrow issues with a sweep of his hand and gave me stronger muscles to be grown into. Happy, my mother left the hospital with me, only three days old. I was a picture of my mother, blonde hair and doe-like dark green eyes. She named me Frankie Hale, the name Palaemon had given her.
So for the first few days of my life, I was a pain. Always crying and moody, my mum became extremely fed up with me and took me to a carnival to get me to go to sleep from sensory overload. While she was there, a fortune teller’s van caught my mother’s eye. Knowing it would probably be a load of crap, she bought a ticket for it anyway, for shiggles. Once inside, she sat herself down with me on her lap and waited for the fortune teller to arrive.
What she didn’t expect was for the fortune teller to be another demigod. A daughter of Hecate, to be exact. They recognised each other as demigods straight away, and the fortune teller recognised me as one also. Her eyes widened as she whispered, “Run. War is coming. Terrible things. Run. RUN!!”
Well, my mother did, and was scared witless. We returned to our little shack and she prayed to all the gods to help her and her child (yay, me!) escape the war. All the Gods were confused; they had no idea what she was taking about, thinking she had gone mad. Apollo, in his embarrassment pleaded with Zeus to preserve her until whatever war had passed. Zeus, begrudgingly, agreed, mainly to make my mum shut up as all her constant praying and talking to the gods was annoying the s*** out of him.
And so my mother and I were preserved until the conclusion of the Titan War, the first war to pass after the fortune teller’s prediction. When we were returned to society, my mother saw all the change that had happened on the coast and rushed us to live in a country town, where changes would be minimal.
So I, a daughter of a sea god, grew up never visiting the sea. I only ever saw it on TV, and felt a longing connection to it, but I never acted on it. I grew up on a farm, herding the sheep and cows on my horse and taking them down for The Royal Easter Show. Still, I didn't see the ocean.
I grew into my powers around the age of 12, my mother protecting me when monsters came knocking. I had no idea that I had powers, but my mother saw change and kept it hidden from me. When I asked her why she would come home with scratches on her face she told me she was chasing away the monsters that lived under my bed. I’d roll my eyes and go back to drawing or whatever I was doing, and she would sneak behind me with her hands behind her back to hide her weapons. When I was in fights and was suspended from school for breaking a boy’s nose I left my mother no choice but to home school me. I was 13. Still, I hadn't seen the ocean.
At the age of fourteen I was chased by a hellhound around our farm. It must have been a dumb one, or a mentally impaired one, because I was up on a horse and it still decided I was easy prey. Whenever it shadow travelled it would miss, meters from my horse. I simply rode around the farm on my horse, scared witless I might add, until my mother appeared and burnt that sucker, chopping its remains to pieces with a sword. Now, I can’t say my reaction was that good. I fell off my horse in surprise and landed in a cow pat. Smooth. But from that moment on, my mother never lied to me about my heritage, and trained me in using a sword. She even gave me hers to use, she said it had been in the family forever since my great-great-great grandfather, a son of Hecate, had died. She wanted to take me to this camp place, Camp Half-Blood she said, but we didn't have anywhere near enough money to get to New York. In the meantime, my mum trained me. Needless to say, I was crap with a sword. I just couldn’t swing it right. A little disappointed, my mother let me rifle through her weapons chest (I thought it held spare blankets, but no). I found a bow and was decent at that, but a rusty bronze crossbow became my weapon of choice. I drew myself up some practice targets and mum helped me shoot with ease, perfecting my aim. I still hadn’t seen the ocean, but the longing in me had been replaced by the need to fight and survive.
At the age of fifteen, I experienced my first proper monster attack. I had been in the bush surrounding our farm when a harpy lunged from the trees onto me. I was a liiiittle bit unprepared and only had on me my mother’s sword, which was useless to me (yeah, the sharp object was useless, my mind’s screwed up). Either way, I tried punching the harpy first. The fistfuls of feathers I pulled from its wings only made it angrier. Knowing I was running out of time to distract the harpy before it got bored and killed me, I drew the sword, swinging it grandly above my head and running towards the harpy. At the least, it was shocked. It squawked and flew away a couple of metres, so I took my advantage and ran as fast as I could back to my house. Safely on the back porch, I slid my crossbow out from the bench and fired three celestial bronze bolts into it heart, killing it.
I told my mum everything that night of course, I thought she might notice the pile of golden dust on our back porch. She nodded and slowly took in the whole thing with a grim expression on her face. The next day, instead of appearing at our regular 2’o’clock training sessions on our paddocks, my mother was nowhere to be found. Worried, I went inside and watched television to keep my mind off things. On the channel the TV switched onto was a docco about sharks. Intrigued, I stared wide-eyed at the screen, my mind so completely focused on the sharks I didn’t notice my mum return home and cast a worried glance in my direction, or notice as she set down a new steel crossbow with 50 CB bolts.
Everything after that was a blur. I tuned sixteen, my mother became more and more secretive, and I became more and more intrigued with the sharks on TV. Before I knew it, we were on a plane to New York (I still hadn’t visited the ocean) and I couldn’t sit at the window seat for fear of me seeing too much of the ocean or something. We arrived in New York and Mum led me (blindfolded, I may add) to god knows where. She kept telling me that where we were going was somewhere safe and that the people at Camp Half-Blood would understand. I thought she was talking crazy, but as soon as she took the blindfold off I saw an archway and trees and braziers and a lake beyond that and a forest. And beyond that, in the distance, was the ocean.