A couple of days after the meeting with the Council of Cloven Elders, I was leaning against the rickety wall of Cabin Eleven keeping a close and wary eye on some certain sons of Hermes.
Connor and Travis Stoll felt my gaze on them and they turned around and gave me cheeky grins, their beams turning even bigger and a sly look twinkled in their innocent –somewhat- eyes.
I really need to get a safe or at least a lock and put it in the middle of the lake, at least the Naiads would make sure to keep the klepto sons of the thief god away from my stuff. Or I would have call the president and see if I could put my stuff in the Federal Gold Vault, but I had a feeling that they would somehow still get into the vault.
"Where'd you two put my Minotaur horn?" I demanded to the twins, who merely continued to grin at me.
At my question the two brothers shot a glance at one another before looking at me with hurt looks that was as fake as a three dollar bill. "What? Us?" Connor, I assumed it was Connor, asked with hurt in his tone.
Besides him Travis looked at me with a slim raised brow, "Jordan, the mere audacity of you thinking us capable of theft it very hurtful." To out emphasis on this Travis and Connor put their hands over their hearts mournfully.
I looked over to one of their bunks, more specifically the small raised lump of sheets that had the perfect outline of a broken off appendage from a crazy bull man. The two brothers followed my gaze and Travis not so subtly sat in front of the lump.
I glared at them harder; the two merely started to whistle an innocent tune and twiddled their hands.
Before anything could happen the door to Cabin Eleven slammed open, dust going everywhere as it banged against the aged wood. Someone wearing the common orange Camp Half-Blood T-Shirt and jeans stormed in.
It took me a second to realize that it was Percy, mostly because I had never seen him so angry before. His sea green eyes were the color of the vengeful sea and his hands were trembling, I did a quick check around the cabin and made sure there were no pipes filled with sewage water. To my relief there were none.
"Perce, what's wrong?" I asked in concern, set off by his angry mood.
In response Percy shot a dark look at the Stoll brothers, who took the hint and looked the other way. Percy gestured for me to follow and I hopped off of my wrinkled sleeping bag and walked out of the Hermes Cabin and followed the child of one of the Big Three.
I found him sitting on one of the many marble benches; he was facing the giant fire that Tia often kept going, though I did not see the nice young girl. In his hands was a newspaper that was wrinkled as though it had been crushed and then opened many times. "Dude, what's wrong?" I asked as I sat down besides him.
In response he just shoved the newspaper into my hands. I looked at the newspaper that was emblazoned with New York Daily News and that it was open to the Metro. I blinked when I recognized three faces staring back at me.
One was a picture of Percy and his mother. Looking at Mrs. Jackson turned my heart heavy, knowing that she was gone. The next one shocked me as well, because it was me.
I then decided to read the article, and as I slowly got further and further ahead the angrier I got. It got so hard to read it due to my rage, whether it was my dyslexia or the fact the paper was shaking in my grip, I didn't know nor really cared.
BOY, MOTHER, AND FRIEND STILL MISSING AFTER FREAK CAR ACCIDENT
BY EILEEN SMYTHE
Sally and son Percy Jackson as well as friend Jordan Hunter are still missing one week after their mysterious disappearance. The family's badly burned '78 Camaro was discovered last Saturday on a north Long Island road with the roof ripped off and the front axle broken. The car had flipped and skidded for several before exploding. Mother and son had gone for a weekend to Montauk, but left hastily, under mysterious circumstances. The other person missing, twelve year old Jordan Hunter, was present and accompanying the Jacksons for the family vacation. Police say that he was a good friend of Percy Jackson and had meet at Yancy Academy, a boarding school that specializes in juvenile delinquents. Small traces of blood were found in the car and near the scene of the wreck, but there no other signs of the missing Jackson or Jordan Hunter. Residents in the rural area reported seeing nothing unusual around the time of the accident.
Ms. Jackson's husband, Gabe Ugliano, claims that his stepson, Percy Jackson, is a troubled child who has been kicked out of numerous boarding schools and has expressed violent tendencies in the past. The man has also made a claim that through this violent attitude is where he and the other missing boy met and became friends, stating that Jordan has shown a rather cruel personality that has upset both him and his hardworking friends.
Police would not say whether son Percy or friend Jordan is a suspect in his mother's disappearance, but have not ruled out foul play. Any attempts to interview Jordan Hunter's mother, Meredith Hunter, has been blocked by the single mother. Below are recent pictures of the missing people. Police urge anyone with information to call the following toll-free crime-stoppers hotline.
Below the article the phone number was circled in black marker. The blocky, dark numbers blazing out.
I wadded up the ball of paper and threw it into the fire; sparks and cinders rose up at the contact before greedily burning up the paper, but the words were still emblazoned in my head.
"Don't you usually recycle that? Being the nature god's kid and all that?" Percy asked still somewhat numb from reading the article.
I snorted, "Please this paper would probably poison a flower or something. I'm saving nature by not putting this trash in it."
"Who gave it to you?" I asked, still seething at the newspaper article. Police would not say whether son Percy or friend Jordan is a suspect in his mother's disappearance, but have not ruled out foul play. My hands curled into shaky fists and I could practically feel my whole body quiver.
Percy shrugged, "Found it on my doorstep." He cringed as he thought of the circled phone number; "Obviously some people don't want us here. Typical."
I sighed and leaned back, placing my hands on the cool marble that did little to quench the burning rage going through me. "So are we going to let Mr. Mysterious get to us with a stupid newspaper article that sprouts out more crap than Gabe?"
Percy's face turned darker, if that was even possible seeing he looked pretty pissed, "Don't even get me started on my dear step-dad." His hands curled into fists, "I bet it was Clarisse." He muttered, thinking of the buff daughter of Ares who completely hated their guts for humiliating her and her cabin twice.
"I don't know, Clarisse may have expressed her desire to humiliate us and stomp on us until we're nothing but juice. But Clarisse is, well Clarisse. If she wanted to do something like this she wouldn't have left that article on your doorstep and simply knock and hide. She'd have banged on the door until you opened and shoved it in your face."
"One of her brothers then?"
I shrugged, "Perce, if you want to play detective you should probably go get Annabeth. You've never even won a game of CLUE in your life, maybe leave this to our favorite daughter of wisdom."
Percy scowled at me for that well placed, and true, jab but he nodded his head. When in doubt, if we ever had trouble understanding something we just have to walk a couple cabins down and grab our little genius.
I clasped the son of the sea god on the shoulder and gave him a reassuring smile. "Don't worry about that article, and…. We'll find your mom, I promise." I swore, I knew that Mrs. Jackson wasn't dead despite the fact she had been turned into golden ash, Grover said she had been taken and to be considered taken means you have to be alive.
Percy nodded his head at that, his sea green eyes burning with determination and the small glitter of hope of his mother being all right. "I should probably get back to Cabin Three," the Big Three son finally said. But he sounded bitter and somewhat sad at the prospect of sleeping in a cabin that hadn't been lived in for decades, Percy felt ostracized even in the home of half bloods, and neither of the two preteens liked it at all.
I sighed at that, "Yeah I should probably get back to Cabin Eleven." I looked at the rundown cabin that looked on the verge of collapsing upon itself, "If we stay here any longer we'll be the dinner to the harpies."
Percy got up and walked towards Cabin Three, his head down dejectedly at the prospect of another night spent in a cabin long abandoned while I headed towards the overcrowded cabin of the Olympian Hermes.
As I laid down in my sleeping bag I felt something prod into my side sharply. I fumbled around until I found the object that had gotten into my bed and saw that it was my Minotaur horn. I glanced over to see Luke scolding his half brothers, who had the decency to look somewhat ashamed, though not much.
"Light's out everyone," Luke announced as everyone got into their bunks or sleeping bags, the son of Hermes clapped his hands and the lights went off, the only source of light coming from the moon.
That night I dreamed not a good dream, but a nightmare.
A horse and eagle were on the beach with a hurricane coming in. Lighting shook the ground while the earth quaked, but neither noble creatures seemed to notice, so caught up in their death match.
The eagle spread its mighty wings and grazed the horse's side with its razor sharp talons, the horse reared back in pain, attempting to kick the noble bird with its large hoof.
The sand was swirling around them like a tornado, but as much as I tried to move to stop the animals from killing one another, I felt as though I was being held back by chains. I couldn't move a muscle as I watched one of the horse's hooves hit the eagle in the wing, making the great predator fall to the sand with a harsh squawk.
Lighting struck the ground, the entire night sky was ablaze in light as lighting continued to rage, the inky night sky looked as though an intricate spider web of lighting had been formed. Beneath the raging sky, the ocean swarmed with divine fury.
I couldn't do anything as the ocean raged and the sky screamed, I could only stand there as the different elemental forces clashed with one another with the fury of rampaging Minotaur and the Furies put together.
A voice suddenly boomed, audible even with the furious noises of the fighting noble animals and the screeching sky and rampaging ocean. "Give it back!" A man's voice that boomed with sheer power and authority cried, the sky screamed its approval and fury at those words.
"I don't have it!" Another man's voice boomed as well, the speaker's tone was strong and wrathful, like that of the ocean that seemed to rise up at the speaker's words.
"Stop it!' I screamed out, the horse reared back its head while the eagle soared in the sky. The two noble animals suddenly charged towards one another, with each step of the horse the earth shook and quaked while with every strong beat of the eagle's wings the sky screamed and trembled. The smell of ozone and saltwater was so strong had I been there in real life I wouldn't have been able to breath, hell I probably would have been thrown by the wind as easily as a piece of dry grass against a strong wind.
The vision suddenly shifted and changed, I was no longer at a beach where the elements trembled and raged against one another, no horse or eagle were here as well. I was in a forest clearing, the night sky shining down on me. I knelt down and watched as the vision me brushed a hand through the gleaming grass and the surrounding flowers and plants. The smell of earth calmed down my beating heart but the silence was deafening.
The ground shook again, but the force was different from before. While the energy from before had been filled with rage and fury, there was a certain calmness to it, a certain divine power. But this energy felt sinister and evil, coldness crept down on me and I felt myself unable to move.
Laughter suddenly erupted from somewhere far below me, like from the core of Earth itself, and a voice so cold and sharp spoke with its words as sharp as scythes. "Come down, little hero," the voice crooned with the tone of a madman's lullaby.
Around me I watched as the various flora that had seemed to glow with life slowly but surely turn brown, the life being sucked out of the clearing. The grass fell down dead and petals from various colorful flowers now turned black. Darkness overtook the clearing; the moon was snuffed out as though it had been a candle against a strong wind. The smell of earth was replaced with the smell of death, decay, and freshly spilt blood.
"Come down!" The voice crooned again.
The dead earth suddenly crumbled and I fell through the hole without any time to react. Darkness overtook me.
"Nooooo!" I woke up with a jolt, gasping for breath. I felt my foot hit something soft and warm and a resulting cry of pain echoed in the cabin.
"Jordan!" Luke yelled over my screams, besides him Connor and Travis were kneeling by my side, Connor holding his stomach with a pained look. I must have accidently kicked him during my thrashing. The sons of Hermes grabbed a shoulder each and pushed me down so I couldn't continue to struggle.
"Calm down…" Luke said, his scar seemed to gleam evilly in the soft moonlight but he looked concerned for my wellbeing, so I ignored the ill omen.
"Dude, what happened?" Travis asked looking worried, I briefly wondered how long I had been screaming before they woke me up. Did I say anything?
"You were muttering about pits and a voice," Connor offered, still looking a bit pained from the kick in the gut.
Besides his half-brothers Luke seemingly tensed, like a cornered doe, but I paid no attention to the counselor. I struggled to sit up, Travis and Luke slowly let me off of the ground when they knew I wouldn't struggle. "Nothing…. Bad dream." I said, my face still pale and I could feel my whole form shuddering and shivering like I had taken a midnight dip in the lake.
Luke opened his mouth to say something, but then thunder boomed so loudly the earth shook. The wooden window shutters clattered and clanked against the old glass, outside the entire camp was illuminated for one bright second by lighting.
"You should go see Chiron," a boy who looked around the age of thirteen said, I briefly remembered him being a son of Hecate. His dark raven hair seemed to blend in with the darkness while his green eyes glowed so brightly they looked like neon lights.
I was ready to protest, but it fell on deaf ears as Luke grabbed me by the scruff of my orange Half-Blood T-shirt and hauled me to my feet in a single move. Man I kept forgetting how strong that guy was.
Luke guided/forced me to the entrance of Cabin Eleven. "You should listen to Jared," the sword master cautioned as he guided me towards the door. Luke opened the door and we both saw a surprising sight.
A confused Percy Jackson, obviously just out of bed due to the fact his dark hair looked like a hamster had made a nest in it, was standing outside of the door next to a very nervous Grover. Grover flinched slightly when the door opened by looked relieved, if only slightly, that I was the one who opened it.
"Something wrong?" Luke asked, his hand still wrapped around the scruff of my shirt.
Grover nervously fiddled with the edges of his T-shirt, "Mr. D wants to see you in the Big House." His doe like brown eyes glanced at Percy, "Well both of you actually," he amended weakly.
At his words I felt a little pale, I was worried. Not about me, but for Percy. He was the almighty son of Poseidon, a child of the Big Three, he was born with the ability to control water as easily as I could control nature. People treated him like he was a walking nuclear missile, like at any second he'd turn Camp Half-Blood into a giant crater.
Percy couldn't even pass sixth grade English without help, how he was capable of supposedly destroying the earth was a mystery. But people thought that it was going happened. I thought of the hellhound, a beast that had tried, and nearly succeeded, in turning Percy into dog kibble. Even gods wanted him dead.
And one said god had ordered us to come see him. Well this would be interesting.
I walked with Grover and Percy as we headed towards the Big House, the light blue paneling looked out of place against the stormy grey sky. Rain had started to fall a mile to our left, Percy asked if we needed a poncho or umbrella.
"No, it never rains here." Grover stated as though it were obvious.
I pointed at the storm, "Than why is rain coming at us?"
Grover looked nervously at the looming storm clouds, "It'll pass."
Percy and I glanced at one another, we decided to take his word for it.
We arrived at the porch of the Big House. Mr. D sat in one of the lawn chairs wearing a horrendous bright red Hawaiian shirt with neon tiger stripes. In front of him sat Chiron, who was currently shuffling cards.
"Well, well." Mr. D said without looking up. "Our little celebrities." He beckoned us forward, "Sit down. Just because ol' Barnacle-brain is your pops don't expect me to worship the ground you walk on." He said to Percy. Lighting flashed brightly while thunder shook the windows. Mr. D didn't seem overly concerned and waved off the divine warning.
"And you…" Dionysus looked at me skeptically, his purple eyes roaming my facial features, looking for something. "Hmph… You don't look too bad." He glanced down at his cards, "Least you look a bit like me, so you've been saved in the good looks department."
I blinked. "W-What?" I chocked out, wondering what the god of wine meant.
"Well that we're family of course." Mr. D laid down a card, a red three.
"Uhm, we're a big family." I pointed out seeing as the some hundred or so campers here were most likely my cousins or half cousins. That thought made me a bit nauseous. I mean, I was somehow related to Clarisse.
"Bah, I don't mean that boy." He rolled his eyes at me and glanced at Chiron who was looking at the scene with a complete poker face. "After all, you are my grandson."
I chocked at that, somehow choking on air was possible. Or maybe Mr. D was actually choking me with his godly wine powers. Percy looked ready to be sick, Grover looked ready to faint but he seemed have already heard the news.
"W-What!?" I yelped, unable to help myself. I mean, I knew that we were somewhat related through the whole godly tradition of marrying your brother or sister, but when he meant related I hoped he meant distantly. As in, barely.
"Hmm, yes, yes." Mr. D said as he ignored my choke. "Pan, your father, was my son. My only immortal son now that I think about it. Anyway," Mr. D flat out ignored me and instead turned his attention to a green Percy Jackson. "Now Peter, I want to kill you. Very much in fact." The god said offhandedly, making Percy pale while Chiron pursed his lips as he looked at his deck of cards.
Mr. D caught the look the centaur sent him and sighed wearily, "I know… See Chiron here thinks that killing you is, well how do you kids put it, not cool?" He spared a glance at Grover who energetically nodded his head, trying to do his part to prevent the murder of one son of Poseidon. "So I've decided that I'll most likely transform you into a dolphin and release you back to the sea, Free Willy style."
"Uhm, Willy was a whale," I couldn't help but correct. My, I couldn't help but shudder, grandfather gave me a look and I shuffled in my seat. "Close enough," I amended.
With a roll of his fiery purple eyes, Dionysus returned his attention to the young son of the sea god who didn't look to keen on the idea of growing flippers. "I will do this or I will give you another option, a foolish option that might just kill you anyway."
Chiron took that as his queue to fill in the blanks. "Percy, have you noticed any differences in the weather since Winter break?" he asked in his patient teacher voice.
"It's been crazy," Percy provided with a furrow in his brow as he remembered all the days New York was covered in several feet of snow, logically Yancy Academy was the only school to not get any snow days, the worry of a hurricane striking New York, an actual hurricane hitting them while in Montauk.
"And," Chiron continued, "What have been the main factors to these odd changes in the weather."
Percy glanced out the window, where the sky had started to darken and the sea looked ready to explode at a moment's notice, my eyes widened as I figured it out, Percy coming to the same realization. "Zeus and Poseidon."
"They're fighting, aren't they?" I asked quietly.
Chiron solemnly nodded his head, Mr. D just rolled his eyes. "Don't worry, grandson. Ol' Kelpbeard and my father fight all the time…" He trailed off in thought, "Now when was the last time they fought?"
"1939." Chiron told the god from behind his deck of cards. "They started a war."
I blinked, " A war as in World War II?"
"Heh, my grandson's not a complete idiot." Mr. D, ugh was I supposed to call him grandpappy D, said while he sipped his can of Diet Coke.
"Something was stolen…" Percy muttered, his eyes seemed to go blank as he spoke, as though he himself wasn't speaking but just vaguely remembering something from a dream.
Grover shot Chiron and Mr. D a terrified look, Mr. D stopped drinking his diet soda and looked at the boy suspiciously. It was so hard to take the man, god I guess, seriously when he wore a leopard skin Hawaiian shirt. He looked like a middle-aged tourist who had never stepped a foot outside of their hometown, he just looked ridiculous.
Chiron sat forward in his wheelchair, "How did you know that."
Percy blushed at the scrutiny from Mr. D and the intense look from Chiron, I just watched in confusion. "The weather since Christmas has been wired, like the sea and sky are trying to kill the other. Then Jordan and I overheard Annabeth muttering about something importing being stolen. And…" Percy trailed off uncertainly, "I've been having these dreams." He admitted.
"I knew it," Grover said.
"Hush, satyr," Chiron ordered.
"But it is his quest!" Grover's eyes were bright with excitement. "It must be!"
"Only the Oracle can determine." Chiron stroked his bristly beard with a pondering look, looking more like a philosopher than I gave him credit for. I shifted when he turned his ageless brown eyes upon me, "And what about you, son of Pan?" The famous centaur asked with those inquisitive eyes. "Have you been having dreams."
"I've been alive for millennia," Chiron stated patiently, "I know when dreams plague my campers." Chiron looked at bit embarrassed as he continued, "Not to mention your, ah, fan club reported you muttering in your sleep while they guarded you."
I just blinked at that, the chair crashed to the ground as I stood up abruptly. "I'm being stalked!?" I asked terrified before realizing with growing horror, "People are watching me sleep."
Mr. D snorted, "Well duh." The god of wine said helpfully, "You're my grandson, of course my fan club would hound after you." He tilted his head in some type of model pose and gestured towards his flushed face and sunken eyes, "Look at this face."
Chiron coughed in his hand, successfully hiding the smirk behind his deck of cards. "Er, Dionysus." The centaur started, "I believe it is more the fact that Jordan is the sole child of Pan, thus his heir and proof that he lives. So of course he would have, erhm, fans."
I banged my head against the table hard, shaking the ante, an assortment of golden coins the size of Girl Scout cookies, a gift card to the nearest 7-Eleven, some crumpled dollar bills, and… "A Pac-Man keychain," I asked dully, "Really?"
Mr. D looked offended. "Child, Pac-Man may be the one thing humans actually got right in their miserable mortal lives, well that and gladiator fighting."
"May we please get back on the subject of avoiding another Olympian war?" Chiron asked patiently, not looking up from his deck of cards.
Dionysus looked sheepish, "Ahem, yes correct." He jabbed a finger at Percy, "Now you can either choose Chiron's choice or my idea of turning you into a dolphin." Mr. D sat himself upright, his purple eyes glowing dangerously, "You are correct Paulo in assuming that something was stolen, what was stolen was none other than the lighting bolt."
Percy laughed nervously, "the what?"
"Do not take this lightly," Chiron warned the son of Poseidon. "We're not talking about some tinfoil-covered zigzag you'd see in a second grade play. We're talking about a two-foot-long bronze cylinder of high grade celestial bronze, capped on both ends with god-level explosives."
"Can you buy one on eBay?" I asked curiously, "That sounds like something way better than Clarisse's stupid spear."
Chiron shot me an annoyed look. "No, this bolt is none other than Zeus's master bolt. The symbol of his power, from which all other lightning bolts are patterned. The first weapon made by the Cyclopes for the war against the Titans, the bolt that sheered the top off Mount Etna and hurled Kronos from his throne, the master bolt, which packs enough power to make mortal hydrogen bombs look like firecrackers."
"And it's missing," I asked wide-eyed, that was not good.
"Stolen," Chiron corrected me.
"By who? Who would be crazy enough to take the master bolt, who is that insane?" I asked in shock, wondering if there were any myth that was being repeated by some famous terrifying monster.
"By him," Chiron looked at Percy.
Percy's jaw dropped, I blinked.
Chiron saw the looks of protest on our faces and held his hands up to stop the torrent of anger from spilling out of our mouths, "At least that's what Zeus thinks. During the winter solstice, at the last council of the god, Zeus and Poseidon had an argument. The usual nonsense: 'Mother Rhea always liked you best,' 'Air disasters are more spectacular than sea disasters,' et cetera. Afterward, Zeus realized his master bolt was missing, taken from the throne room under his very nose. He immediately blamed Poseidon. Now, a god cannot usurp another god's symbol of power directly – that is forbidden by the most ancient of divine laws. But Zeus believes your father convinced a human hero to take it from him."
"B-But!" Percy spluttered but Chiron shot the young hero a look before continuing.
"Zeus has good reason to be suspicious. The forges of the Cyclopes are under the ocean, which gives Poseidon some influence over the makers of his brother's lightning. Zeus believes Poseidon has taken the master bolt, and is now secretly having the Cyclopes build an arsenal of illegal copies, which might be used to topple Zeus from his throne. The only thing Zeus wasn't sure about was which hero Poseidon used to steal the bolt, now Poseidon has openly claimed you as his son. You were in New York over the winter holidays. You could have easily snuck into Olympus. Zeus believes he has found his thief."
"But Percy was at Yancy Academy during Christmas, I was there with him! I'd know if he went to Olympus and stole the King of the God's precious lightning bolt, have you ever shared a room with him? He talks in his sleep all the time!" I pointed at the sky with an accusing finger, "You're wrong lighting ass!"
"Jordan!" Grover yelled in panic, thunder boomed dangerously, lighting flashed and the smell of ozone lingered on the porch. I sat down with a huff, still glaring at the sky.
"Young hero, it would be best to not insult the Lord of the Sky." Chiron warned me. Pfft, like I was going to listen to that.
Chiron continued on his tirade of the rivalry of Zeus and Poseidon. How Poseidon had tried to take his younger brother's throne centuries prior with the whole golden net fiasco, and now the birth of Percy was the final straw.
The whole thing was stupid, in his humble opinion. Percy couldn't even still a piece of a bean from Gabe's bean dip without getting caught, how could he steal a weapon that made nuclear weapons look like fizzled out firecrackers? Chiron then said that a deadline had been declared, Zeus wants his bolt back and Poseidon wants an apology. What happens if neither of that happens?
World War Three, with additional godly powers. Chaos. Millions of innocent casualties. The Olympians, many of them having representations of the world itself, being forced to choose a side and fight amongst themselves, creating chaos the world has never seen.
"And you, Percy Jackson, would be the first to feel Zeus's wrath." Chiron said gravely, already looking as though he was preparing for the eulogy at Percy's funeral.
I timidly raised my hand. "Instead of Percy facing the full wrath of the King of the Gods zip-zap powers, how about we lock him in a room full of rubber? Lighting can't travel through rubber, problem solved." I said somewhat proudly.
Dionysus couldn't help but cackle at that, "Boy if a teeny bit of rubber can stop the full brunt of my father's lighting attacks, I would have long since traded in this suit for a rubber one. The audacity to electrocute me out of my hangovers…." Mr. D frowned at that, obviously remembering bad memories. I wanted to punch something, hell I would punch a cute puppy, screw my whole nature animal lover thing going on, Mr. D was my grandfather I deserve to punch something.
"You have been given two choices, Perseus Jackson." Chiron grimly spoke, "Either you stay and wait for the deadline and be incinerated by Zeus, a quick death."
Chiron turned even grimmer as though the next choice would be the foolish one. "Or you could retrieve Zeus's master bolt, find the thief that has blamed you, and return with the bolt in hand during the Summer Solstice."
"T-That's like in a week," I spluttered out. "And we don't even know where to look."
Chiron look at me with a raised brow, "We?"
I glared at the centaur who had once been my Latin teacher, "If you think I'm going to let Percy go by himself on this crusade by himself, you've got another thing coming." I slammed by palms on the table, the patio suddenly smelled like wild flowers from my rage –not my most intimidating of feats but still, maybe Chiron was allergic – "I'm coming too!"
Percy shot me a look of gratitude; I could tell that the poor kid was scared out of his wits. How? I was scared too, I just hid it better.
"Do you accept this quest, Perseus?" Chiron questioned sharply, his words made me realize that in a couple of seconds there would be no going back.
"I accept." And with that proclamation our fates were sealed, whether for good or bad, neither of us knew.
"Then go, son of Poseidon, to consult with the Oracle, in the attic. When you come back down, assuming you're still sane, we will talk more." Chiron said as he nodded his head at Grover to show him to the attic.
The room was silent after the footsteps and hooves clattering against the aged wood long faded, I glanced at my teacher and grandfather. "Can't I just turn him into a dolphin?" Dionysus asked aloud, "Who knows, the boy may get smarter."
"No." Chiron and I said at the same time. The god of wine huffed under his breath. Suddenly the earth shook as lighting flashed, annoyance flashed in the god's purple eyes and the Olympian stood up from his chair. "I must return to Olympus," Mr. D announced as he fished for something in his pocket. He made to step away but paused, "Ah yes, I nearly forgot." He plucked something from the ante and tossed it at me.
I caught it on reflex, glancing down I saw what the god had given me. It was the Pac-Man keychain. "Gee, thanks grandpa. That's worth twelve missed birthdays," I said sarcastically.
The god gave me a wry smile, "Look again."
A key suddenly materialized onto the chain. It looked like it had just been made, but something told me that wasn't the truth. It was made of polished bronze, faint etchings of ancient Greek inscribed in the dark metal. The faint carvings of grapevines curled through the key, the etching glinted in the sunlight. "What does it go to?"
"Your cabin, obviously." Mr. D looked at me as though I had suddenly asked something stupid. "You do need a key to enter."
I thought of the door to Cabin 11, how the door itself looked ready to implode upon itself in a blaze of moldy splinters. The idea of a lock on the door leading to Cabin Eleven, the cabin of Hermes seemed laughable.
As though reading my mind, maybe he did with his godly wine powers, the god merely said, "Oh, you wont be returning to Cabin Eleven. You've been moved."
"To where?" I asked, not really liking the idea of having the Olympian move me around like furniture, not to mention my father wasn't an Olympian thus he didn't have a cabin. "I'd rather not be homeless."
"You're moving into Cabin Twelve, I do hope the walk won't kill you," he said sarcastically. I thought of the cabins and their order… wait, twelve…. Oh Pegasus dung!
"Yep!" Dionysus said cheerfully, "You're moving in my cabin." He held up his can of coke, "Cheers, grandson." He gave a mock salute before disappearing like mist.
"Please let me become homeless!"
"Come on, I can easily just sleep in a tree, the Dryads won't mind!"
"Jordan, you are overreacting."
"Or I could just sleep in a cave, heroes did that back in Ancient Greece!"
"But we're in the twenty first century, we haven't had campers sleep in caves since 1807."
Percy sat down between the two along with Grover, both watching the conversation with interest. "What's going on?"
I turned to the son of the sea god. "I have to live with Mr. D!"
Percy made a face of utter horror, Chiron sighed wearily. "You won't live with him, Mr. D resides here in the Big House. The only inhabitants of Cabin Twelve are his twin sons, Pollux and Castor."
"Enough!" Chiron exclaimed, shutting me up immediately. The immortal turned his attention to Percy, who looked like he had suddenly aged a couple decades in the span of twelve minutes. "Well?"
"She said I would retrieve what was stolen."
Grover sat forward, chewing excitedly on a can of diet coke. "That's great!"
"What did the Oracle say exactly,"Chiron pressed. "This is important."
"Why? She said that the quest would be successful," I stated.
"Because for all we know, one of you may be coming back."
Well that's not a buzz kill, Mr. Brunner, I thought to myself. Thanks for the vote of confidence.
"She said I would go west and face a god who had turned. I would retrieve what was stolen and see it safely returned."
"I knew it," Grover said.
Chiron didn't look satisfied, "Anything else?"
Percy looked down, something flashing in his green eyes, he shot a look at Grover and then me, confusion and apprehension glowing brightly before clearing as he looked at Chiron with a gaze full of steel. "No."
I didn't like the way he said that. It was like he was withholding information, but why would he do that? Percy trusted me, right?
Even though I wanted to strangle Percy until he told me what had him spooked, we had a quest to discuss. "Who is this god?" I shot a look at our local mythology expert. "And why is he in the west?"
"I can only think of one god who resides in the west and would have a grudge bigger than Typhon." Chiron said slowly, Grover's face turned so pale it looked like a corpse.
Grover bleated nervously, "No, i-it can't be, be him."
"Hades." Chiron intoned, the second he spoke the name a chill spread into the room despite the summer heat. The shadows scattered around the room seemed to flicker and grow larger for the briefest of moments.
"Hades." I said dumbly, "As in, Lord of Death, King of the Underworld, Lord of oh-my-god-I'm-going-to-die, that Hades?"
"A Fury came after you two at Yancy, they answer to only one god. Hades, the eldest son of the Titans Kronos and Rhea. He's had a grudge against his younger brothers that have lasted millennia, perhaps he has had enough and decided to strike."
"But Hades hates all heroes," Grover said, failing to be optimistic. "All of them, so maybe it's a coincidence."
"A hellhound was sent to kill Percy as he was claimed," Chiron reminded him. "They are monsters that reside in the Fields of Punishment, Hades must have a spy here. If the Lord of the Dead is indeed responsible for the theft of the master bolt, he will no doubt try to stop your quest from being completed."
"So I have two major gods out to kill me?" Percy asked.
"Wow, you're popular Perce." I said.
Percy shot me a glare, obviously he didn't like the reminded that divine beings were after his blood, one being the King of Gods and capable of electrocuting him till he was ashes and the other being the god of Death who could… ya know, kill him.
"You must travel by land, if you dare to fly than you will merely be destroyed by Zeus. Camp will grant you passage to New York, where you should be able to find a train or bus to take you west to the entrance of the Underworld."
"Where's the entrance?"
The entrance to the land of the dead is in the city called The Angels? Sure why not, I thought to myself.
"Seeing as Jordan has decided to join you on your quest," Chiron said the word 'quest' as though saying 'stupid crusade that's going to end up with us becoming monster kibble', "You are permitted to have another camper join you on your quest."
"Grover?" Percy turned his attention to the other occupant in the room. Grover blushed so red he looked like a tomato. "We need your help." Percy thought back to when they had been talking to Grover by the docks, how he needed to complete a quest and make sure nobody died to get his searcher's license, his life's goal.
"Satyrs and underground places don't really go together…. But… you two saved my life, and Jordan… you're Lord Pan's heir, I have to protect you…. You guys are my best friends." Grover's eyes turned watery, "I'm in."
"It has been decided. You three shall go forth on your quest to the city of Los Angeles to enter the domain of the unloving to retrieve Zeus's master bolt." Chiron intoned.
"Not so fast, Chiron." A very familiar voice interjected, the air besides the disguised centaur shimmered like a mirage and Annabeth Chase suddenly appeared out of nowhere, a Yankee cap held in her hands.
"Ms. Chase," Chiron sighed, as though knowing exactly what she was thinking in that brilliant mind of hers. "Three is the Greek lucky number, a fourth cannot join them when the odds are already against them."
"Don't give me that Pegasus dung, Chiron." Annabeth said with narrowed eyes, her grey eyes seemed to glow like the storm that was approaching us. "I've been waiting for far too long for a quest, and now that one has been issued I'm coming too."
I cracked a grin at her, "Athena has a plan?"
"Let wise girl join us," Percy told Chiron, "She seems to know more about this life than us, she has experience."
I raised my hand, "I vote yes!" Grover slowly raised his hand when he saw Percy raise his own. Chiron didn't look happy at the impromptu vote but relented when he realized that even if he said no, Annabeth would probably sneak out of camp with her cap and join anyway.
"Very well," the renowned teacher of heroes said. "This afternoon, we can take you as far as the bus terminal in Manhattan. After that, you four are on your own." Lightning flashed in the sky, rain started to pour despite the magical barriers.
Despite the fact of Zeus's wrath, I couldn't help but grin at my quest mates. "Let's go kick some undead god's butt!"
Percy laughed, Annabeth grinned, and Grover bleated in alarm. We're going to be okay, I thought to myself. Because we have one another.
The quest for the Lightning Bolt had begun.