Chiron gestured toward the couches. “Please sit.”

Meg moved on from Pac-Man (having given the game twenty seconds of her time) and began literally climbing the wall. Dormant grapevines festooned the dining area—no doubt the work of my old friend Dionysus. Meg scaled one of the thicker trunks, trying to reach the Gorgon-hair chandelier.

“Ah, Meg,” I said, “perhaps you should watch the orientation film while Chiron and I talk?”

“I know plenty,” she said. “I talked to the campers while you were passed out. ‘Safe place for modern demigods.’ Blah, blah, blah.”

“Oh, but the film is very good,” I urged. “I shot it on a tight budget in the 1950s, but some of the camera work was revolutionary. You should really—”

The grapevine peeled away from the wall. Meg crashed to the floor. She popped up completely unscathed, then spotted a platter of cookies on the sideboard. “Are those free?”

“Yes, child,” Chiron said. “Bring the tea as well, would you?”

So we were stuck with Meg, who draped her legs over the couch’s armrest, chomped on cookies, and threw crumbs at Seymour’s snoring head whenever Chiron wasn’t looking.

Chiron poured me a cup of Darjeeling. “I’m sorry Mr. D is not here to welcome you.”

“Mr. Dee?” Meg asked.

“Dionysus,” I explained. “The god of wine. Also the director of this camp.”

Chiron handed me my tea. “After the battle with Gaea, I thought Mr. D might return to camp, but he never did. I hope he’s all right.”

The old centaur looked at me expectantly, but I had nothing to share. The last six months were a complete void; I had no idea what the other Olympians might be up to.

“I don’t know anything,” I admitted. I hadn’t said those words very often in the last four millennia. They tasted bad. I sipped my tea, but that was no less bitter. “I’m a bit behind on the news. I was hoping you could fill me in.”

Chiron did a poor job hiding his disappointment. “I see….”

I realized he had been hoping for help and guidance—the exact same things I needed from him. As a god, I was used to lesser beings relying on me—praying for this and pleading for that. But now that I was mortal, being relied upon was a little terrifying.

“So what is your crisis?” I asked. “You have the same look Cassandra had in Troy, or Jim Bowie at the Alamo—as if you’re under siege.”

Chiron did not dispute the comparison. He cupped his hands around his tea.

“You know that during the war with Gaea, the Oracle of Delphi stopped receiving prophecies. In fact, all known methods of divining the future suddenly failed.”

“Because the original cave of Delphi was retaken,” I said with a sigh, trying not to feel picked on.

Meg bounced a chocolate chip off Seymour the leopard’s nose. “Oracle of Delphi. Percy mentioned that.”

“Percy Jackson?” Chiron sat up. “Percy was with you?”

“For a time.” I recounted our battle in the peach orchard and Percy’s return to New York. “He said he would drive out this weekend if he could.”

Chiron looked disheartened, as if my company alone wasn’t good enough. Can you imagine?

“At any rate,” he continued, “we hoped that once the war was over, the Oracle might start working again. When it did not…Rachel became concerned.”

“Who’s Rachel?” Meg asked.

“Rachel Dare,” I said. “The Oracle.”

“Thought the Oracle was a place.”

“It is.”

“Then Rachel is a place, and she stopped working?”

Had I still been a god, I would have turned her into a blue-belly lizard and released her into the wilderness never to be seen again. The thought soothed me.

“The original Delphi was a place in Greece,” I told her. “A cavern filled with volcanic fumes, where people would come to receive guidance from my priestess, the Pythia.”

“Pythia.” Meg giggled. “That’s a funny word.”

“Yes. Ha-ha. So the Oracle is both a place and a person. When the Greek gods relocated to America back in…what was it, Chiron, 1860?”

Chiron seesawed his hand. “More or less.”

“I brought the Oracle here to continue speaking prophecies on my behalf. The power has passed down from priestess to priestess over the years. Rachel Dare is the present Oracle.”

From the cookie platter, Meg plucked the only Oreo, which I had been hoping to have myself. “Mm-kay. Is it too late to watch that movie?”