Her parents, Emilía Ásladóttir, a Québécois Icelander, and Boreas met while Emilía was visiting her Québécois side of the family in Canada. Boreas approached her one night as she was walking to her hotel room. The two quickly hit it off, and one thing lead to another. The two didn’t keep up contact, as Emilía was due to leave for Iceland within the next week, but Boreas did leave Emilía with a parting gift: a silver ring with a small purple gem embedded in it. He also left behind a light purple scarf; Emilía had just assumed he'd forgotten it. Once she was back home, she discovered she was pregnant. Being rather independent and financially well-off, it wasn’t a bad surprise.
Nine months later, Mæva was born perfectly healthy. However, like any demigod, her upbringing wasn’t quite as smooth. As much as she tried to suppress them, flashes of anger would often get the best of her, and she would lash out at whoever provoked her. It was never nearly bad enough to get her expelled, but she went through elementary and middle school in an almost constant state of time-outs and detention. Mæva and her mother went through off days and on days. Whether it was with homework or trying to understanding Mæva’s offbeat behavior, Emilía would quickly become frustrated as Mæva stubbornly refused any offer of help her mother gave.
As the years went on, a rift formed between the two of them as this was repeated over and over again. Mæva became more and more detached from her mother without much care. Her mother had long ago grown tired of trying to understand her and stayed away from any personal topics. One evening, after Mæva had come home from another tiring day of school, her mother came up and said that she’d started to plan a vacation to go visit their family in Quebec. Mæva didn’t care much for her family—she had only met them once or twice—but she was excited to get to travel over to the continent. As much as she loved her little island, she didn’t get to leave it too often. She couldn’t wait to go see the big city, get a chance to practice her French, and experience something outside of Iceland.
Within the next month, the two had left for Quebec. They’d stayed at the same hotel Emilía and Boreas had met at, Emilía once again describing her father from the brief time they were together. Mæva had heard the story plenty of times, and didn’t think very much of it. In all reality, each time she heard it the only thing she felt was a pang of annoyance. She couldn’t understand how her mother could talk so fondly about a man she had never known and couldn’t believe she was still so hung up on him after fourteen years.
“You know,” her mother had said while they were bringing their luggage into the hotel room, “this ring is all I have left to remember him by,” she sighed, twisting the silver band placed on her ring finger.
“Yeah, you’ve only told me a thousand times,” Mæva mumbled into the scarf wrapped around her neck.
“I’ve been thinking,” her mother began, turning to face Mæva, “you should have this. You’re his daughter; he would want you to have it.”
Mæva bit back a comment about how she couldn’t even come close to knowing what he would want and stretched out her hand hesitantly. Neither the ring nor her father meant anything to her, and she wasn’t one for jewelry. I’ll just slip it off when she’s not looking, Mæva thought to herself as her mother placed it on her finger with a wistful expression.
Later that night, Emilía had begun another one of her monologues about Mæva’s father. “Oh, Mæva, I just know he would've loved you so much,” she exhaled, glancing out at the January snow falling quietly onto the Québécois streets.
“Yeah, because he really loved you,” Mæva spat out, instantly regretting saying anything but being too stubborn to take back the words she believed to be true.
“Excuse me, young lady, what did you just say?” Emilía snapped, the tension in the air instantly becoming palpable.
“You heard me,” Mæva grumbled, looking down at the floor.
“You do not talk to your mother like that!” Emilía snarled as her face twisted into a threatening expression.
“You know what?” Mæva said, standing up straight as she got a sudden burst of courage. “I don’t care if you’re my mother; all you do is get on my back and talk about someone you don’t even know. I’m sick of it.” She shouldered her small backpack as her mother stood gaping.
“Where do you think you’re going?!” she finally managed as Mæva opened the hotel door.
“I need to get some air,” she replied and disappeared down the hallway before her mother could react.
Outside the hotel, the streets were relatively empty due to the falling snow. The cold had never bothered Mæva; she’d assumed it was just a perk of being Icelandic. She buried her face into the purple scarf she always wore in case someone came along; she wouldn't want anyone to see her face in such an emotional state. The scarf was another relic from her father, a left-over given to her by her mother when she was just a little girl. She wouldn't admit it, but she couldn't completely not care about her dad. He was her father after all. As thin as it was, they did share a connection.
As she walked along, becoming more and more aware of what she’d said to her mother and the guilt starting to pile up, she was pulled out of her thoughts by a low growl down the alley to her right. Glancing up, she originally only saw empty air until a huge, dark shape seemed to appear out of the shadows.
A flash of panic momentarily blocking her thoughts, the shape lunged at her and she instinctively dodged it by only a few centimeters. Turning around, the shape was now in the light and she could make out its features. It appeared to a gigantic dog, with a ferocious snarl and bloodthirsty eyes. Her legs taking over, she sprinted away from the beast, not caring which direction she was running in. She could hear it’s footsteps quickly catching up, until a hand grabbed her and pulled her into the nearest alley. Not even being able to process what was happening, she passively went along as the figure dragged her down the path. Continuing to sprint, the figure in front of her began to play a tune on a small set of reed pipes. As she looked back she could see the beast beginning to become ensnared in a mass of vines shooting up from the snowy ground.
The figure turned around as the malicious barks finally disappeared. “That really was a close one, wasn’t it?” he laughed nervously, wiping a bead of sweat from his forehead.
“Uh?” was all Mæva managed to say, being thoroughly confused and out of breath.
“Oh, yeah. You’re probably pretty confused, aren’t you?” the person asked, the realization that this wasn’t a normal occurrence seeming to just dawn on him.
Mæva wanted to say and ask a million things: what had just happened, who was this strange guy, where did that thing come from? But all she managed to do was give a small nod.
“Well, um, how can I put this?” he asked himself, scratching the side of his head. “You know the Greek myths? Like the gods and stuff?” Mæva nodded again, wondering where he was going with this.
“They’re real!” he exclaimed, throwing his hands up in the air. “And you’re the daughter of one of them! Cool, huh?” he finished, looking at her expectantly.
“What are you talking about?” she answered, looking like she hadn’t understood a single word he’d said.
“You’re a demigod! That’s why the hell hound attacked you, and that’s why I’m here! To take you to Camp Half-Blood!”
“Uh? No?” she said, narrowing her eyes and scrunching her eyebrows together.
“Wait, what?” he replied, obviously not expecting that she wouldn’t want to go with him. “If you stay here, you’ll just get attacked again, and probably die,” he said bluntly. Mæva took a moment to think to herself. This guy wasn’t making much sense, but it was hard to dispute the fact that what had just attacked her was something supernatural. Something that could have come straight out of the Greek myths.
As she started to come to terms with the irrefutable facts laid out before her, a memory began to resurface from the depths of her consciousness. It was a couple of weeks after her thirteenth birthday when she began to notice something was wrong. Out of the corner of her eye, it always seemed like a presence was anchored at the edge of her vision. She was never able to make out any details, as it would disappear as soon as she turned her head.
As time went on, the problem moved to the back of her mind and was largely forgotten. That was until one ill-fated night. It had been a busy night, chock-full with multiple assignments and projects that were all due the next day (Mæva was a born procrastinator). The time must have a couple hours past midnight before she finally crawled into bed, completely burnt out.
Before she could even pull up the covers, however, she heard the window to the right of her glide open. Immediately, the house alarm went off, but it didn’t stop the intruder. The figure climbed right in through the window and stretched to the height of a fully grown woman. In the dim light, the only detail Mæva could make out was what seemed to twin snake tails where her legs should have been.
“What are you?!” Mæva yelled over the blaring alarms, pressing herself against her headboard.
“Why, little demigod,” the woman hissed, inching her way closer and closer toward the bed. “I am a Scythian dracanae. Sssurely you’ve heard of us?” Mæva was far too shocked to answer, much less rack her brain for any information on snake women. “No? That’s too bad,” she remarked, tilting her head in mock sympathy. “Don’t worry; I’ll make sure you’ll never forget usss!” With that promise, the monster struck, lunging with impeccable speed.
Mæva’s mind went blank, but, surprisingly, her body had another idea. She rolled off the bed onto the floor at the last second, and Lamia went crashing into the headboard. She hissed, her forked tongue darting in and out of her mouth as she brought a scaly hand up to her bloodied nose.
“You’ll pay for that, you little brat!” The monster struck again, and missed once again. Mæva felt as if her heart were about to explode as sweat beaded across her face. She had no idea how she had survived this long, but was glad nonetheless. But, she knew this game of hit and miss couldn’t stay in her favor for much longer.
While the dracanae recovered, Mæva scanned the room for anything she could use as a makeshift weapon. Running out of options, she blindly reached behind her and grabbed onto a cold, glass object. A vase of flowers! The blonde quickly dumped out the contents and readied herself for the next attack.
Luckily, she was just in time. The dracanae was back up, and she was angry. With lightning speed, she lunged towards Mæva’s throat. Instincts taking over, Mæva swung the vase with all her might. It hit perfectly, breaking against the monster’s head with a sickening crack.
The dracanae fell to the floor, emitting and ear-splitting scream as she writhed in pain. Before Mæva could figure out her next plan of action, a powerful knock sounded from the door.
“This is the police! Hands up!” a woman yelled as she barged into the room, flanked by two other men. Mæva froze, her mind returning to her body. The half-conscious dracanae remained on the floor and was soon overtaken by the two policemen.
“Are you okay, kid?” the policewoman said, holstering her gun. Mæva overcame her surprise and looked up at the concerned face of the woman.
“Yeah, but, who is that woman?” Mæva asked, pointing toward the dracanae.
“We aren’t sure yet. Probably just your average kidnapper. You’re lucky we got here when we did.”
“Since we do kidnappers have snakes for legs?”
“I’m sorry?” the policewoman questioned, giving her a bewildered expression.
“Look at her legs!” Mæva exclaimed, gesturing to the object in question.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. They’re just legs,” the policewoman shrugged, glancing back and forth between Mæva and the dracanae.
“How can you not see them?!”
“Look, kid,” the woman began, putting a hand on her shoulder. “You just went through something pretty traumatic. It’s perfectly normal to react this way.”
Mæva denied her claim, saying it wasn’t a result of any traumatic experience. Nonetheless, everyone refused to listen, and tried to convince her the dracanae was just a kidnapper or burglar. But, Mæva couldn’t shake off what she’d seen and heard. Still, time had passed and she’d mostly forgotten about the incident. It wasn’t until now that it finally seemed relevant. Plus, she was beginning to dread the thought of having to face her mother again, which caused a wave of recklessness to surge through her.
“Fine,” she finally said.
“Fine? Like, you’ll come with me?” he asked eagerly.
“Yeah. So, where’s this camp at?” she questioned, giving one last look towards her mother’s hotel.
“Long Island, New York. I’ve already got a train booked for us. Another good reason you’re coming with me; they don’t give out refunds,” he laughed as Mæva gave him a look that hinted she was starting to regret her decision. “So, what should I call you?” he asked.
“Mæva Em... Mæva. Just call me Mæva.”
“Mæva? Never heard that name before,” he said, offering his hand. “I’m Nikolas.” Mæva merely nodded and gave him a curt handshake.
The walk to the train station was mostly passed in silence, Nikolas trying to strike up a conversation now and then, but to no avail. Mæva’s mind was far too focused on what she was about to do, and her mind didn’t rest until the train had pulled out of the station.
“Alright,” she spoke up, mildly surprising Nikolas, “I want you to explain everything to me. What’s going on?”
“Well,” he began with a sheepish smile, “It’s a bit hard to just explain everything at once. What do you specifically want to know?”
Mæva thought for a moment before answering. “Who are you? Why did you find me?”
“I’m a protector. We’re a bunch of satyrs that go around and-”
“Satyrs?” she interrupted, motioning for an elaboration.
Nikolas smiled as if he were sharing an inside joke with her. “Never heard of ‘em? Half-human, half-goat,” he replied, pulling off his beanie to reveal a head of curly blond hair and a small pair of horns.
Mæva stared dumbstruck for a moment before regaining her composure. “Those are real?”
“Yep! Wanna touch ‘em?”
Nikolas pouted, placing his beanie back on his head. “I’ve also got some hooves, but I’ll show you some other time.” Mæva looked like she was about to jump off the train. “But anyways, as I was saying, us protectors get sent out to go look for demigods like you. If you guys are left by yourselves for too long you’ll get overrun by monsters. It’s our job to find you and bring you to Camp Halfblood so you can train and actually have a chance of not dying.”
“So I’m a child of a god? You’ve got to be kidding me.” Mæva had never thought of herself as anyone special, and certainly considering the way other people had treated her, it was unimaginable that her absent father could be divine.
“It’s the truth!” Nikolas argued, throwing his hands up. “You won’t know which one it is until you get claimed though. It usually happens within your first few days at camp.”
For the rest of the train ride the two conversed about every other topic they could come up with. After several hours, the train finally pulled into Penn Station. The duo unloaded from the train and made their way outside.
As soon as they stepped out into the crisp New York air, a look of worry flashed across Nikolas’ face. Mæva waited to see if he would say anything, but passed it off as nothing when he stayed quiet. The two walked down the crowded street searching for an empty taxi when Nikolas abruptly shoved Mæva into an alley.
“Oh no,” he muttered, constantly looking back as he pushed Mæva further away from the street.
“Hey, what the heck, man?” Mæva questioned, trying to get him to slow down.
“Shh. There’s something following us. Just keep going.” Surprised by his serious tone, Mæva silenced herself and continued down the alleyway. However, they only made it a few feet until a low growl sounded from behind. Nikolas winced and let out a curse. Mæva looked behind, only to be met with the same giant dog-looking animal that had attacked her back in Quebec. In a panic, the pair sprinted forward while the hellhound’s heavy steps could be heard gaining on them.
Nikolas pulled Mæva along, her legs thinking for her. In the twists and turns of the alley, the pair quickly found themselves facing a brick wall; it was a dead end. They whipped around, meeting the beast’s face, only meters from their own.
“Mæva,” Nikolas said, his voice a deadly whisper, “use your bow. You can defeat it; you have to.”
“Are you insane?!” Mæva said in a hushed shriek. “I don’t own a bow! I’ve never even used one before!”
“Press the jewel on your ring,” he demanded, not breaking eye contact with the hellhound.
“What does that have to do with any-”
“Just do it.” His voice was urgent. Mæva could see a bead of sweat trickling down his forehead. With a huff, she pressed the gemstone on her ring, expecting it to do nothing. To her amazement, the ring elongated itself until it turned into a beautiful white bow covering with delicate carvings. Getting over her shock, Mæva also noticed there was an extra weight on her back. Adding to her surprise, her scarf had magically become a quiver, holding at least twenty arrows.
Mæva let out a breath. How could she have not known about this until now?
“Mæva! Look out!” The demigod was jarred out of her thoughts by a rough shove from Nikolas. While she’d been distracted by her newly acquired bow, the hellhound had charged towards the two of them. Mæva cursed herself; she should have been paying attention.
Luckily, Nikolas managed to dodge the hellhound just in time, but it was now hot on his tail, just barely missing each time it lunged.
“Anytime now!” he shouted as Mæva remained frozen. “Just notch the arrow and pull! It’s easy!”
Mæva slowly grabbed an arrow from the quiver. With trembling fingers, she pulled it back. For some reason, her body wouldn’t let her release the arrow. Her body had always acted for her in every other fight-situation, why wasn’t it working now of all times?
Nikolas’ cry was what finally set her into action. The satyr shoe had fallen off as he leaped around, causing him to crash into the pavement. The hellhound readied itself to rip him to shreds. In that second, the gears in Mæva’s brain finally began to turn. She ran forward, crouching in front of Nikolas. The hellhound jumped, planning to soar over Mæva and crush Nikolas. But, as it sailed over Mæva, she released her arrow, driving it straight into the hellhound’s heart.
The beast let out a pained cry as it vanished into yellow dust, raining down on top of Nikolas. Mæva turned around in shock and was met with a laughing satyr.
“That was amazing!” he praised, standing up and dusting himself off. “I honestly thought I was dead!”
“Thanks,” Mæva deadpanned, reverting her bow back into a ring with another press of the purple gem planted above the grip. She let out a sigh of relief and felt a smile flash across her face. Maybe this kind of life was something to look forward to.
The duo made their way out of the alley and found the street they were originally on. One taxi cab ride later, they had made it to the base of Half-Blood Hill. Mæva and Nikolas trudged up the side, eager to have reached their destination.
“Finally,” Nikolas huffed, racing up to the top. “Welcome to Camp Half-Blood.”
Mæva sped up to join him. Her heart stopped at the view of the glistening white buildings scattered around the rolling green hills, the ripe strawberry fields, the dazzling blue ocean, everything. This was her home now. Surprising herself, she let out a laugh.
“I’ll race you to the bottom!” she yelled behind her, sprinting down the hill.
“Hey! No fair!"