Part Twelve:

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Part 12:

Zoe and Charlie circled each other, waiting for the other to pounce. Over the past week, Zoe trained with Michael, Alex, Sammy and Charlie. They did archery, played Capture The Flag with the other cabins, went canoeing and roasted marshmallows over the campfire in the amphitheatre every night.

Zoe's thoughts had been puzzling inside her head to the breaking point. They were mostly consumed of Charlie, Michael and that she had one more week until she got claimed and the prophecy would begin.

But here, in the arena, as Zoe circled Charlie, her badly balanced sword gripped in her hand, she felt almost relieved to be distracted by this battle. She had taken down Sammy and Alex easily; now she just had to beat Charlie and Michael.

Charlie got sick of waiting for Zoe to attack first. He lunged at her, swiping his sword towards her left thigh, but in a heartbeat, Zoe dodged the attack and disarmed him as fast as lightning.

"I win." She smirked at Charlie.

Charlie grinned in response. They shook hands, and Zoe felt her heart flutter.

Then Charlie did something that startled her. He wrapped her in a hug, and they stood there for ten seconds, ignoring everyone else until Alex cleared her throat.

Zoe's face turned bright red. She quickly let go of Charlie and sat back down, getting ready to watch Sammy and Alex face off.

"I would've beaten you much quicker if I had a sword that was properly balanced." Zoe sighed, staring glumly at the bronze sword beside her.

"Nah, you could've beaten him bare handed!" Michael laughed, nudging her shoulder in a brotherly way.

"True." Zoe commented, giggling.

"Hey!" Charlie whined, then began watching Sammy and Alex.

Their swords were clashing in an arc of speed and bronze, but then with one swipe of a sword, Alex was unarmed and it was all over.

"Good game." She shook his hand and Michael and Zoe stood up.

They faced off, and Zoe charged first. She pelted him with ferocious attacks, giving him no chance to fight back, then finally, she flicked her sword and his one flew in the air. Zoe caught it in her left hand.

"I win." She said, tossing Michael his sword back. Then, just for good measure, kicked his legs out from beneath him. He fell onto the floor and Alex whoop-whooped, cheering and clapping.

"Girl power!" Alex cried, high-fiving Zoe.


After a quick lunch, the five of them headed off towards the fireworks beach.

Zoe dived into the water head-first. She wearing wearing the brand-new dark blue swimsuit she had been given to by an Aphrodite camper. Charlie charged in after her, and as soon as his back was turned towards her, she splashed him. But instead of a normal splash, Zoe produced a massive wave. It towered over Charlie and knocked him over.

Laughing, Alex, Sammy and Michael joined in as Charlie arose from the water, spluttering and cursing. "Hey!" He cried, as Zoe sent another wave at him.

But this time, he didn't come back up as quickly. Zoe was too busy to notice, as Alex had just started a splash war with Michael and Sammy.

"Hey, where's Charlie?" Zoe asked.

"I thought you were splashing him?" Alex asked, then went back to whacking water towards Michael who dodged easily.

Zoe's eyes scanned the beach. No sign of him. Then she looked out at the water. Something was tugging at her gut. She dived under, swimming out until the surface was a full three metres above her.

And then she spotted Charlie, lying on the bottom of the sea, unmoving.

"Charlie!" Zoe cried, diving towards him. She hauled him back up to the surface as fast as she could, then laid him on the beach. The sand crunched beneath her as she knelt over him, checking his breathing.

There was water in his lungs, she somehow knew. Concentrating, Zoe clenched her fist and brought it upwards. Sea water spewed from Charlie's mouth, and Zoe sighed in relief. Then she pressed her ear against his bare chest.

There was no heartbeat.

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