I thought about the Three Fates, and the way I'd seen my life flash by. I could avoid all that. No aging, no death, no body in the grave. I could be a teenager forever, in top condition, powerful, and immortal, serving my father. I could have power and eternal life.

Who could refuse that?

Then I looked at Annabeth again. I thought about my friends from camp: Charles Beckendorf, Michael Yew, Silena Beauregard, so many others who were now dead. I thought about Ethan Nakamura and Luke.

And I knew what to do.

"No," I said.

The Council was silent. The gods frowned at each other like they must have misheard.

"No?" Zeus said. "You are . . . turning down our generous gift?"

There was a dangerous edge to his voice, like a thunderstorm about to erupt.

"I'm honored and everything," I said. "Don't get me wrong. It's just . . . I've got a lot of life left to live. I'd hate to peak in my sophomore year."

The gods were glaring at me, but Annabeth had her hands over her mouth. Her eyes were shining. And that kind of made up for it.

"I do want a gift, though," I said. "Do you promise to grant my wish?"

Zeus thought about this. "If it is within our power."

"It is," I said. "And it's not even difficult. But I need your promise on the River Styx."

"What?" Dionysus cried. "You don't trust us?"

"Someone once told me," I said, looking at Hades, "you should always get a solemn oath."

Hades shrugged. "Guilty."

"Very well!" Zeus growled. "In the name of the Council, we swear by the River Styx to grant your reasonable request as long as it is within our power."

The other gods muttered assent. Thunder boomed, shaking the throne room. The deal was made.

"From now on, I want to you properly recognize the children of the gods," I said. "All the children . . . of all the gods."

The Olympians shifted uncomfortably.

"Percy," my father said, "what exactly do you mean?"

"Kronos couldn't have risen if it hadn't been for a lot of demigods who felt abandoned by their parents," I said. "They felt angry, resentful, and unloved, and they had a good reason."

Zeus's royal nostrils flared. "You dare accuse—"

"No more undetermined children," I said. "I want you to promise to claim your children—all your demigod children—by the time they turn thirteen. They won't be left out in the world on their own at the mercy of monsters. I want them claimed and brought to camp so they can be trained right, and survive."

"Now, wait just a moment," Apollo said, but I was on a roll.

"And the minor gods," I said. "Nemesis, Hecate, Morpheus, Janus, Hebe-—they all deserve a general amnesty and a place at Camp Half-Blood. Their children shouldn't be ignored. Calypso and the other peaceful Titan-kind should be pardoned too. And Hades—"

"Are you calling me a minor god?" Hades bellowed.

"No, my lord," I said quickly. "But your children should not be left out. They should have a cabin at camp. Nico has proven that. No unclaimed demigods will be crammed into the Hermes cabin anymore, wondering who their parents are. They'll have their own cabins, for all the gods. And no more pact of the Big Three. That didn't work anyway. You've got to stop trying to get rid of powerful demigods. We're going to train them and accept them instead. All children of the gods will be welcome and treated with respect. That is my wish."

Zeus snorted. "Is that all?"

"Percy," Poseidon said, "you ask much. You presume much."

"I hold you to your oath," I said. "All of you."

I got a lot of steely looks. Strangely, it was Athena who spoke up: "The boy is correct. We have been unwise to ignore our children. It proved a strategic weakness in this war and almost caused our destruction. Percy Jackson, I have had my doubts about you, but perhaps"—she glanced at Annabeth, and then spoke as if the words had a sour taste—"perhaps I was mistaken. I move that we accept the boy's plan."

"Humph," Zeus said. "Being told what to do by a mere child. But I suppose . . ."

"All in favor," Hermes said.

All the gods raised their hands.

"Um, thanks," I said.

I turned, but before I could leave, Poseidon called, "Honor guard!"

Immediately the Cyclopes came forward and made two lines from the thrones to the door—an aisle for me to walk through. They came to attention.

"All hail, Perseus Jackson," Tyson said. "Hero of Olympus . . . and my big brother!"




Annabeth and I were on our way out when I spotted Hermes in a side courtyard of the palace. He was staring at an Iris-message in the mist of a fountain.

I glanced at Annabeth. "I'll meet you at the elevator."

"You sure?" Then she studied my face. "Yeah, you're sure."

Hermes didn't seem to notice me approach. The Iris-message images were going so fast I could hardly understand them. Mortal newscasts from all over the country flashed by: scenes of Typhon's destruction, the wreckage our battle had left across Manhattan, the president doing a news conference, the mayor of New York, some army vehicles riding down the Avenue of the Americas.

"Amazing," Hermes murmured. He turned toward me. "Three thousand years, and I will never get over the power of the Mist . . . and mortal ignorance."

"Thanks, I guess."

"Oh, not you. Although, I suppose I should wonder, turning down immortality."

"It was the right choice."

Hermes looked at me curiously, then returned his attention to the Iris-message. "Look at them. They've already decided Typhon was a freak series of storms. Don't I wish. They haven't figured out how all the statues in Lower Manhattan got removed from their pedestals and hacked to pieces. They keep showing a shot of Susan B. Anthony strangling Frederick Douglass. But I imagine they'll even come up with a logical explanation for that."

"How bad is the city?"

Hermes shrugged. "Surprisingly, not too bad. The mortals are shaken, of course. But this is New York. I've never seen such a resilient bunch of humans. I imagine they'll be back to normal in a few weeks; and of course I'll be helping."


"I'm the messenger of the gods. It's my job to monitor what the mortals are saying, and if necessary, help them make sense of what's happened. I'll reassure them. Trust me, they'll put this down to a freak earthquake or a solar flare. Anything but the truth."

He sounded bitter. George and Martha curled around his caduceus, but they were silent, which made me think that Hermes was really really angry. I probably should've kept quiet, but I said, "I owe you an apology."

Hermes gave me a cautious look. "And why is that?"

"I thought you were a bad father," I admitted. "I thought you abandoned Luke because you knew his future and didn't do anything to stop it."

"I did know his future," Hermes said miserably.

"But you knew more than just the bad stuff—that he'd turn evil. You understood what he would do in the end. You knew he'd make the right choice. But you couldn't tell him, could you?"

Hermes stared at the fountain. "No one can tamper with fate, Percy, not even a god. If I had warned him what was to come, or tried to influence his choices, I would've made things even worse. Staying silent, staying away from him . . . that was the hardest thing I've ever done."

"You had to let him find his own path," I said, "and play his part in saving Olympus."

Hermes sighed. "I should not have gotten mad at Annabeth. When Luke visited her in San Francisco . . . well, I knew she would have a part to play in his fate. I foresaw that much. I thought perhaps she could do what I could not and save him. When she refused to go with him, I could barely contain my rage. I should have known better. I was really angry with myself."

"Annabeth did save him," I said. "Luke died a hero. He sacrificed himself to kill Kronos."

"I appreciate your words, Percy. But Kronos isn't dead. You can't kill a Titan."


"I don't know," Hermes grumbled. "None of us do. Blown to dust. Scattered to the wind. With luck, he's spread so thin that he'll never be able to form a consciousness again, much less a body. But don't mistake him for dead, Percy."

My stomach did a queasy somersault. "What about the other Titans?"

"In hiding," Hermes said. "Prometheus sent Zeus a message with a bunch of excuses for supporting Kronos. 'I was just trying to minimize the damage,' blah, blah. He'll keep his head low for a few centuries if he's smart. Krios has fled, and Mount Othrys has crumbled into ruins. Oceanus slipped back into the deep ocean when it was clear Kronos had lost. Meanwhile, my son Luke is dead. He died believing I didn't care about him. I will never forgive myself."

Hermes slashed his caduceus through the mist. The Iris-picture disappeared.

"A long time ago," I said, "you told me the hardest thing about being a god was not being able to help your children. You also told me that you couldn't give up on your family, no matter how tempting they made it."

"And now you know I'm a hypocrite?"

"No, you were right, Luke loved you. At the end, he realized his fate. I think he realized why you couldn't help him. He remembered what was important."

"Too late for him and me."

"You have other children. Honor Luke by recognizing them. All the gods can do that."

Hermes's shoulders sagged. "They'll try, Percy. Oh, we'll all try to keep our promise. And maybe for a while things will get better. But we gods have never been good at keeping oaths. You were born because of a broken promise, eh? Eventually we'll become forgetful. We always do."

"You can change."

Hermes laughed. "After three thousand years, you think the gods can change their nature?"

"Yeah," I said. "I do."

Hermes seemed surprised by that. "You think . . . Luke actually loved me? After all that happened?"

"I'm sure of it."

Hermes stared at the fountain. "I'll give you a list of my children. There's a boy in Wisconsin. Two girls in Los Angeles. A few others. Will you see that they get to camp?"

"I promise," I said. "And I won't forget."

George and Martha twirled around the caduceus. I know snakes can't smile, but they seemed to be trying.

"Percy Jackson," Hermes said, "you might just teach us a thing or two."

Another god was waiting for me on the way out of Olympus. Athena stood in the middle of the road with her arms crossed and a look on her face that made me think Uh-oh. She'd changed out of her armor, into jeans and a white blouse, but she didn't look any less warlike. Her gray eyes blazed.

"Well, Percy," she said. "You will stay mortal."

"Um, yes, ma'am."

"I would know your reasons."

"I want to be a regular guy. I want to grow up. Have, you know, a regular high school experience."