Silena didn't seem to register her words.
Clarisse threw her knife on the Ping-Pong table. "All of you can fight this war without Ares. Until I get satisfaction, no one in my cabin is lifting a finger to help. Have fun dying."
The counselors were all too stunned to say anything as Clarisse stormed out of the room.
Finally Michael Yew said, "Good riddance."
"Are you kidding?" Katie Gardner protested. "This is a disaster!"
"She can't be serious," Travis said. "Can she?"
Chiron sighed. "Her pride has been wounded. She'll calm down eventually." But he didn't sound convinced.
I wanted to ask what the heck Clarisse was so mad about, but I looked at Annabeth and she mouthed the words I'll tell you later.
"Now," Chiron continued, "if you please, counselors. Percy has brought something I think you should hear. Percy—the Great Prophecy."
Annabeth handed me the parchment. It felt dry and old, and my fingers fumbled with the string. I uncurled the paper, trying not to rip it, and began to read:
"A half-blood of the eldest dogs . . ."
"Er, Percy?" Annabeth interrupted. "That's gods. Not dogs."
"Oh, right," I said. Being dyslexic is one mark of a demigod, but sometimes I really hate it. The more nervous I am, the worse my reading gets. "A half~blood of the eldest gods . . . shall reach sixteen against all odds . . ."
I hesitated, staring at the next lines. A cold feeling started in my fingers as if the paper was freezing.
"And see the world in endless sleep,
The hero's soul, cursed blade shall reap."
Suddenly Riptide seemed heavier in my pocket. A cursed blade? Chiron once told me Riptide had brought many people sorrow. Was it possible my own sword could get me killed? And how could the world fall into endless sleep, unless that meant death?
"Percy," Chiron urged. "Read the rest."
My mouth felt like it was full of sand, but I spoke the last two lines.
"A single choice shall. . . shall end his days.
Olympus to per—pursue—"
"Preserve," Annabeth said gently. "It means to save."
"I know what it means," I grumbled. "Olympus to preserve or raze."
The room was silent. Finally Connor Stoll said, "Raise is good, isn't it?"
"Not raise," Silena said. Her voice was hollow, but I was startled to hear her speak at all. "R-a-z-e means destroy."
"Obliterate," Annabeth said. "Annihilate. Turn to rubble."
"Got it." My heart felt like lead. "Thanks."
Everybody was looking at me—with concern, or pity, or maybe a little fear.
Chiron closed his eyes as if he were saying a prayer. In horse form, his head almost brushed the lights in the rec room. "You see now, Percy, why we thought it best not to tell you the whole prophecy. You've had enough on your shoulders—"
"Without realizing I was going to die in the end anyway?" I said. "Yeah, I get it."
Chiron gazed at me sadly. The guy was three thousand years old. He'd seen hundreds of heroes die. He might not like it, but he was used to it. He probably knew better than to try to reassure me.
"Percy," Annabeth said. "You know prophecies always have double meanings. It might not literally mean you die."
"Sure," I said. "A single choice shall end his days. That has tons of meanings, right?"
"Maybe we can stop it," Jake Mason offered. "The hero's soul, cursed blade shall reap. Maybe we could find this cursed blade and destroy it. Sounds like Kronos's scythe, right?"
I hadn't thought about that, but it didn't matter if the cursed blade was Riptide or Kronos's scythe. Either way, I doubted we could stop the prophecy. A blade was supposed to reap my soul. As a general rule, I preferred not to have my soul reaped.
"Perhaps we should let Percy think about these lines," Chiron said. "He needs time—"
"No." I folded up the prophecy and shoved it into my pocket. I felt defiant and angry, though I wasn't sure who I was angry with. "I don't need time. If I die, I die. I can't worry about that, right?"
Annabeth's hands were shaking a little. She wouldn't meet my eyes.
"Let's move on," I said. "We've got other problems. We've got a spy."
Michael Yew scowled. "A spy?"
I told them what had happened on the Princess Andromeda—how Kronos had known we were coming, how he'd shown me the silver scythe pendant he'd used to communicate with someone at camp.
Silena started to cry again, and Annabeth put an arm around her shoulders.
"Well," Connor Stoll said uncomfortably, "we've suspected there might a spy for years, right? Somebody kept passing information to Luke—like the location of the Golden Fleece a couple of years ago. It must be somebody who knew him well."
Maybe subconsciously, he glanced at Annabeth. She'd known Luke better than anyone, of course, but Connor looked away quickly. "Um, I mean, it could be anybody."
"Yes." Katie Gardner frowned at the Stoll brothers. She'd disliked them ever since they'd decorated the grass roof of the Demeter cabin with chocolate Easter bunnies. "Like one of Luke's siblings."
Travis and Connor both started arguing with her.
"Stop!" Silena banged the table so hard her hot chocolate spilled. "Charlie's dead and . . . and you're all arguing like little kids!" She put her head down and began to sob.
Hot chocolate trickled off the Ping-Pong table. Everybody looked ashamed.
"She's right," Pollux said at last. "Accusing each other doesn't help. We need to keep our eyes open for a silver necklace with a scythe charm. If Kronos had one, the spy probably does too."
Michael Yew grunted. "We need to find this spy before we plan our next operation. Blowing up the Princess Andromeda won't stop Kronos forever."
"No indeed," Chiron said. "In fact his next assault is already on the way."
I scowled. "You mean the 'bigger threat' Poseidon mentioned?"
He and Annabeth looked at each other like, It's time. Did I mention I hate it when they do that?
"Percy," Chiron said, "we didn't want to tell you until you returned to camp. You needed a break with your . . . mortal friends."
Annabeth blushed. It dawned on me that she knew I'd been hanging out with Rachel, and I felt guilty. Then I felt angry that I felt guilty. I was allowed to have friends outside camp, right? It wasn't like . . .
"Tell me what's happened," I said.
Chiron picked up a bronze goblet from the snack table. He tossed water onto the hot plate where we usually melted nacho cheese. Steam billowed up, making a rainbow in the fluorescent lights. Chiron fished a golden drachma out of his pouch, tossed it through the mist, and muttered, "O Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow, show us the threat."
The mist shimmered. I saw the familiar image of a smoldering volcano—Mount St. Helens. As I watched, the side of the mountain exploded. Fire, ash, and lava rolled out. A newscaster's voice was saying "—even larger than last year's eruption, and geologists warn that the mountain may not be done."
I knew all about last year's eruption. I'd caused it. But this explosion was much worse. The mountain tore itself apart, collapsing inward, and an enormous form rose out of the smoke and lava like it was emerging from a manhole. I hoped the Mist would keep the humans from seeing it clearly, because what I saw would've caused panic and riots across the entire United States.
The giant was bigger than anything I'd ever encountered. Even my demigod eyes couldn't make out its exact form through the ash and fire, but it was vaguely humanoid and so huge it could've used the Chrysler Building as a baseball bat. The mountain shook with a horrible rumbling, as if the monster were laughing.
"It's him," I said. "Typhon."
I was seriously hoping Chiron would say something good, like No, that's our huge friend Leroy! He's going to help us! But no such luck. He simply nodded. "The most horrible monster of all, the biggest single threat the gods ever faced. He has been freed from under the mountain at last. But this scene is from two days ago. Here is what is happening today."
Chiron waved his hand and the image changed. I saw a bank of storm clouds rolling across the Midwest plains. Lightning flickered. Lines of tornadoes destroyed everything in their path—ripping up houses and trailers, tossing cars around like Matchbox toys.
"Monumental floods," an announcer was saying. "Five states declared disaster areas as the freak storm system sweeps east, continuing its path of destruction." The cameras zoomed in on a column of storm bearing down on some Midwest city. I couldn't tell which one. Inside the storm I could see the giant—just small glimpses of his true form: a smoky arm, a dark clawed hand the size of a city block. His angry roar rolled across the plains like a nuclear blast. Other smaller forms darted through the clouds, circling the monster. I saw flashes of light, and I realized the giant was trying to swat them. I squinted and thought I saw a golden chariot flying into the blackness. Then some kind of huge bird—a monstrous owl—dived in to attack the giant.
"Are those . . . the gods?" I said.
"Yes, Percy," Chiron said. "They have been fighting him for days now, trying to slow him down. But Typhon is marching forward—toward New York. Toward Olympus."
I let that sink in. "How long until he gets here?"
"Unless the gods can stop him? Perhaps five days. Most of the Olympians are there . . . except your father, who has a war of his own to fight."
"But then who's guarding Olympus?"
Connor Stoll shook his head. "If Typhon gets to New York, it won't matter who's guarding Olympus."
I thought about Kronos's words on the ship: I would love to see the terror in your eyes when you realize how I will destroy Olympus.
Was this what he was talking about: an attack by Typhon? It was sure terrifying enough. But Kronos was always fooling us, misdirecting our attention. This seemed too obvious for him. And in my dream, the golden Titan had talked about several more challenges to come, as if Typhon were only the first.
"It's a trick," I said. "We have to warn the gods. Something else is going to happen."
Chiron looked at me gravely. "Something worse than Typhon? I hope not."
"We have to defend Olympus," I insisted. "Kronos has another attack planned."
"He did," Travis Stoll reminded me. "But you sunk his ship."
Everyone was looking at me. They wanted some good news. They wanted to believe that at least I'd given them a little bit of hope.
I glanced at Annabeth. I could tell we were thinking the same thing: What if the Princess Andromeda was a ploy? What if Kronos let us blow up that ship so we'd lower our guard?
But I wasn't going to say that in front of Silena. Her boyfriend had sacrificed himself for that mission.
"Maybe you're right," I said, though I didn't believe it.
I tried to imagine how things could get much worse. The gods were in the Midwest fighting a huge monster that had almost defeated them once before. Poseidon was under siege and losing a war against the sea Titan Oceanus. Kronos was still out there somewhere. Olympus was virtually undefended. The demigods of Camp Half-Blood were on our own with a spy in our midst.