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The Secret of Ivory Woods

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By MazerunningGirl

Darkness. That's the first thing I remembered before waking up in a fit of engulfing panic and complete terror. It's almost like a dream, as I jerk awake and scream, my voice shrill and cracking with undefined horror. 

Where am I?

My name is Dawn Nelson and I am a demigod. I train at Camp Jupiter, one of the only safe places for our kind, and occasionally save the world. Venus is my immortal godly mother, and I won't say I'm all to proud of that, people tend to give me grief for it. But a little magic and beauty can't hurt when your fighting for your life against blood lustful monsters. Name any other demigod who can smile and wink and monsters will stop dead in their tracks.

I'm alone in the dark with nothing but a small night light by the corner of my bed to shed shimmering light. I glance around my barrack, uneasiness seeping through my thoughts like blood in my veins. My sheets are crumpled and strewn around me in disorderly fashion, as they always are. I've been tossing every night since the first, since it started happening. This is the only time I've managed to scream myself awake, clawing free of the nightmares. 

Save them... The voice from my dreams begs in my ears. Do not let then suffer! I close my eyes, shutting them tight. My hands instinctively fly up to my ears to block out the sounds of tortured wailing, as if that would block a sound from my own brain.

I'm overwhelmed by my conscious. No- I am more than that. I am terrified. The blackness of my dream was so vivid, I almost expect to see dark clawed hands creeping through the shadows of my small room.

I lie still for a few minutes, listening to the uneven shallow breaths of my brother. He is asleep, having a nightmare. I know if I try to wake him up, I won't be able too. We have to go through this ourselves, as the goddess had told us.

Still, I watch as my hand shakes Jeremy's shoulder and then pokes his pale cheek. No response. I push down with one finger, squeezing his nostrils together.

Jeremy snorts and shakes a bit before making his eyes flutter in discomfort. His chest now rises with uneven breaths, shaky gasps come faintly from his lips. Crap. I'm frozen in fear with what this could mean for me and my family. The dishonor this incident would bring if word got out...

"Jeremy!" I risk half whispering half yelling into his ear. "Wake up!"

"Kill...you..." He murmurs then opens one eye groggily. "What?"

"You were going into another sleep coma," I say half-heartedly. "You've got to control your dreams or it's only going to get worse."

"But-"

I hold up one hand for silence. "I've seen the way you practice in classes. Tired. Drooping. People are going to start noticing that when you fall asleep you don't sleep."

"Your the one who said get information!" Jeremy snaps back, sitting up in his rumpled bed, adjusting his pillow behind him.

"Yeah but I said go about it carefully! You any spy all night and train in the day. It doesn't work like that!" I'm exasperated trying to beat this into his skull.

"I can't!" Jeremy buries his face into his pillow, trembling.

"What do you mean 'you can't?'" I ask carefully, trying to take a new approach to the conversation.

"When I got there...two Mondays ago they figured it out. They know I'm spying."

"What?" I stare at him. "Why do you keep going back?"

"I can't help it. Whenever I sleep that's where I go. And they..." he grimaces then turns and lifts his shirt so I an see his back.

I stare at the wounds with horror. Whip marks or claws possibly, all red and angry, tortured flesh.

"If you get hurt in your dreams..." I realize. "You get hurt in real life too."

Jeremy nods miserably. "I...I never want to sleep. I...I can't do it much longer."

And it dawns on me (pun intended) that this is my fault. Jeremy wouldn't be visiting Tartarus in his dreams if I hadn't pushed him too. I did this to him.

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