Percy leaped heroically from his mount and slipped in hellhound pee. He nearly slid off the statue’s brow. “What the—Mrs. O’Leary, jeez!”

The hellhound bayed in apology. Austin flew our chariot to within shouting distance. “Percy!”

The son of Poseidon frowned across at us. “All right, who unleashed the giant bronze guy? Apollo, did you do this?”

“I am offended!” I cried. “I am only indirectly responsible for this! Also, I have a plan to fix it.”

“Oh, yeah?” Percy glanced back at the destroyed dining pavilion. “How’s that going?”

With my usual levelheadedness, I stayed focused on the greater good. “If you could please just keep this Colossus from stomping the camp’s hearth, that would be helpful. I need a few more minutes to enchant this arrow.”

I held up the talking arrow by mistake, then held up the bent arrow.

Percy sighed. “Of course you do.”

Mrs. O’Leary barked in alarm. The Colossus was raising his hand to swat the trespassing tinkler.

Percy grabbed one of the crown’s sunray spikes. He sliced it off at the base, then jabbed it into the Colossus’s forehead. I doubted the Colossus could feel pain, but it staggered, apparently surprised to suddenly have grown a unicorn horn.

Percy sliced off another one. “Hey, ugly!” he called down. “You don’t need all these pointy things, do you? I’m going to take one to the beach. Mrs. O’Leary, fetch!”

Percy tossed the spike like a javelin.

The hellhound barked excitedly. She leaped off the Colossus’s head, vaporized into shadow, and reappeared on the ground, bounding after her new bronze stick.

Percy raised his eyebrows at me. “Well? Start enchanting!”

He jumped from the statue’s head to its shoulder. Then he leaped to the shaft of the rudder and slid down it like a fire pole all the way to the ground. If I had been at my usual level of godly athletic skill, I could’ve done something like that in my sleep, of course, but I had to admit Percy Jackson was moderately impressive.

“Hey, Bronze Butt!” he yelled again. “Come get me!”

The Colossus obliged, slowly turning and following Percy toward the beach.

I began to chant, invoking my old powers as the god of plagues. This time, the words came to me. I didn’t know why. Perhaps Percy’s arrival had given me new faith. Perhaps I simply didn’t think about it too much. I’ve found that thinking often interferes with doing. It’s one of those lessons that gods learn early in their careers.

I felt an itchy sensation of sickness curling from my fingers and into the projectile. I spoke of my own awesomeness and the various horrible diseases I had visited upon wicked populations in the past, because…well, I’m awesome. I could feel the magic taking hold, despite the Arrow of Dodona whispering to me like an annoying Elizabethan stagehand, SAYEST THOU: “PLAGUEY, PLAGUEY, PLAGUEY!”

Below, more demigods joined the parade to the beach. They ran ahead of the Colossus, jeering at him, throwing things, and calling him Bronze Butt. They made jokes about his new horn. They laughed at the hellhound pee trickling down his face. Normally I have zero tolerance for bullying, especially when the victim looks like me, but since the Colossus was ten stories tall and destroying their camp, I suppose the campers’ rudeness was understandable.

I finished chanting. Odious green mist now wreathed the arrow. It smelled faintly of fast-food deep fryers—a good sign that it carried some sort of horrible malady.

“I’m ready!” I told Austin. “Get me next to its ear!”

“You got it!” Austin turned to say something else, and a wisp of green fog passed under his nose. His eyes watered. His nose swelled and began to run. He scrunched up his face and sneezed so hard he collapsed. He lay on the floor of the chariot, groaning and twitching.

“My boy!” I wanted to grab his shoulders and check on him, but since I had an arrow in each hand, that was inadvisable.

FIE! TOO STRONG IS THY PLAGUE. The Dodona arrow hummed with annoyance. THY CHANTING SUCKETH.

“Oh, no, no, no,” I said. “Kayla, be careful. Don’t breathe—”

“ACHOO!” Kayla crumpled next to her brother.

“What have I done?” I wailed.

METHINKS THOU HAST BLOWN IT, said the Dodona arrow, my source of infinite wisdom. MOREO’ER, HIE! TAKEST THOU THE REINS.


You would think a god who drove a chariot on a daily basis would not need to ask such a question. In my defense, I was distraught about my children lying half-conscious at my feet. I didn’t consider that no one was driving. Without anyone at the reins, the pegasi panicked. To avoid running into the huge bronze Colossus directly in their path, they dove toward the earth.