(written by Niccolò, Emily, Elena, Elias and Margherita)
“All exchange students, please report to bus platform 5 for pickup, last call” reads the sign at track 3 of Wilhelmshaven central station. There is no way I am going to make it in time. As I get to the platform I can see that the bus is pulling away so I start running and yelling “Stop! Stop! Please, stop!”. The bus stops and I get on. Everyone is staring at me. The whole ride takes half an hour and in that time I see a beautiful city: the shiny blue sea, Kaiser Wilhelm Brücke, the blossoming trees and Wattenmeerhaus museum. Then I get to my destination, my host family. They’re very nice people, a family of 5: the father Michael, a tall bald man, is waiting for me outside. Inside three children are waiting for me: the youngest, Stella, is jumping around all excited to see me. The only boy, Carl, is sitting down and looks identical to the girl, Duff, that is sitting next to him. They both have blonde hair and ice blue eyes. The fiancée of the father, Charlotte von Lindberg, pretends to mind her own business, but I can see that she observs me carefully. Carl takes my luggage and puts it upstairs and Duff shows me around the house. It is a two-story, five bedroom, two bathroom house with a great view of the Nordsee Bay. I will share a bedroom with Duff during the next four weeks. Then she takes me out to the garden. It is full of roses and tulips. The next day she takes me to school, Neues Gymnasium Wilhelmshaven. I am introduced to the principal and my teachers. I start an hour late, at 9, after I’ve met everyone. The school building is made of bright red bricks. When I go to my classroom, I have to pass a door. It’s an arch. The top of the arch presents decorations of beautiful flowers…
Zeus, a municipality worker in the financial office of Wilhelmshaven, decides to go jogging. A difficult time seems to be in store for the Olympian gods and after all he himself is the chief of the gods - or at least he used to be the chief when he was younger and fitter. He is heading to the Jade Weser Port, because usually there is noone in the early morning. He puts on his new jogging shoes and starts running. Panting heavily he reaches dock 5 when suddenly in front of him Aphrodite appears. She isn’t dressed in typical clothes but rather in a sporty track suit.
“Hey daughter!” he says surprised
“Hello daddy, I need your help with something.”
“Sure.” When his daughter Aphrodite talks to him, she usually wants something.
“There’s a dryad trapped in a coat of arms in Aurich and I want her to be able to go back home. Her name is Ennéa and she is needed in Portogruaro because Poseidon wants to destroy the sacred wood.”
Also this is no news to him. His brothers Poseidon and Hades always want to destroy something which was beautiful and in the posession of other deities.
"What can I do to help?"
"I've already done almost everything. Silvia, a young girl from Portogruaro, who is important for the rescue of the sacred wood, wanted to become an exchange student in Germany ever since she learned German in middle school. So I rigged the selections and made her come here to Wilhelmshaven to stay in my daughter’s family. It's absolutely necessary that Duff and Silvia work together. The only problem is that they will never get back on time! And I also have a feeling that they’ll need to be protected. Can you do that, daddy?”
“Sure. I’ll be waiting for them and I’ll get them there on time and safely.”
After this Zeus goes back to his office and awaits Silvia and Duff’s arrival.
I have a good time in Wilhelmshaven and rapidly become close friends with Duff. We do lots of things together during those first few days and have lots of fun.
Then, one day, Duff’s parents leave with Stella to go to the movies and leave me, Duff and Carl at home. We are playing Uno when suddenly, out of the blue, a huge gust of wind comes and blows all the cards away. Then there is a bright shine and standing in front of us is a woman dressed in Greek clothes. Duff recognizes that it is her mother, Aphrodite.
“You three must help Ennea, a dryad from Silvia's home town in her quest to get back home. But to do this you must do two other things: You girls have to take Pan’s flute which Audrey already has found and a pearl necklace and bring it to Portogruaro. Here is the necklace." She puts it in Duff's hand and gently places my hand over Duff's. "But don't let anyone see the necklace. That's very important! And don't take public transport. The matter is top secret. Nobody must keep track of you! If you need help, go to uncle Joop."
"Uncle Joop works in the financial office here in Wilhelmshaven", Duff explains to me. "I have known him for ages. He has always been like a grandfather to Stella, Carl and me. But, mom..."
"Yes, darling?", her mother says.
"You are a goddess - although I was very astonished to learn this. So, why aren't you doing these things yourself?"
"I can't, Audrey. It works only, when a descendant of Aphrodite - that's you - and of Artemis' family - that's Silvia - work together. And Silvia will be so kind to work together with you, won't she?"
She looks at me and I nod taken by surprise.
She beams at me."You and Audrey will be a wonderful team. But there is another task for you, Carl, because you are the brain of the family. You inherited this from your father, I suppose. You have to go to Aurich and fetch the dryad and bring her to Portogruaro. But make sure you take another way than the girls. You musn't be seen together in this mission."
"Mom, what..." Carl starts.
"No time for long explanations. The dryad can't leave Aurich unless you have something that is connected with both her and Portogruaro. For this you must go where..." She casts a glance at a small piece of paper and reads: "... the Truth has served where people lost their lives.The lie of the Truth is smaller than when the sea has carried her. The lie sails in the holy place, where Elisabeth meets Christ and is replaced by him."
"Mom, how..." Carls starts again.
"Here, you can read the oracle yourself. I got the paper from uncle Joop." She gives the crumbled, weather beaten paper to him. "You must hurry because the dryad can leave the coat of arms only at new moon and she has only four hours to leave this region. Otherwise after four hours she will be trapped again. And remember the many times when uncle Joop and I read the fairy tale of the Frog Prince to Audrey and you!”
And then she blows kisses at Carl and Duff, smiles at me and vanishs into thin air.
Immediately Silvia turns to Duff and confronts her for not telling the truth. She tells Silvia that she is indeed Aphrodite’s daughter and that she didn’t tell her just to protect her. So Silvia also reveals her origins, she tells Duff she is a descendant of Artemis’s and that her family has been in conflict with Aphrodite for many years. You could see it in her eyes that Silvia wants to leave but she can’t because she has promised Aphrodite that she will help.