Smoke on the Horizon

X. Jason

X. JASON

Jason couldn’t understand what he and Piper had said any more than the others could.

“Guys,” Annabeth said. “I know you want to believe that Leo’s…that any of this…” She looked for someone else to finish her thought.

“We all do,” Percy said, coming to her rescue.

“Does anyone have any other ideas?” Chiron said abruptly, steering the conversation back to the quest.

“It does sound like a reference to Hephaestus,” Frank said quietly. Chiron began to pace around the room, an interesting sight with his four legs, and stroked his beard as he thought.

Before he could speak again however a massive roar resounded throughout the Big House. The seven demigods reached for their weapons.

“What now,” Percy groaned.

Suddenly, the door to the old farm house burst open and Conner Stoll fell into the room, making the whole group jump.

“Jason…fire…dragon,” he panted.

“Conner, what’s going on?” Piper said, panic in her voice.

“Wasn’t me…Leo.” Conner pointed urgently toward the lake where they could just make out a glint of bronze and a plume of smoke.

They ran at full speed through the throng of confused campers that had begun to congregate around the beach. Some moved out of the group’s way and Chiron tried to corral the rest away from the scene.

“No way,” Jason breathed when he saw Festus the dragon snuggling down beneath the water. He clicked contentedly and blew a small, steamy geyser with his nose.

Really? Couldn’t you have put us down first?” Leo stumbled over Festus’s foot, drenched from their watery landing, his hair plastered to his face. He didn’t seem to notice all the campers staring awestruck at him.

Festus clicked at his master affectionately and submerged again.

“Leo?” Jason said weakly. His throat felt dry. Leo looked up and around, finally realizing the presence of almost all of Camp Half Blood.

He grinned and stepped out of the lake, shaking the water from his shoes.

“Hey! What’d we miss?”

Jason struggled for words. Even Piper seemed to be having trouble finding what to say.

“But you…you were…,” he finally managed.

“Dead? Yeah, I know, man, but that Physician’s Cure really works. Quick pit stop on the east coast and here we are!” Leo gasped and spun around, disappearing again behind Festus.

“Why does he keep crashing in water?” an angry voice sputtered.

“Ha - well we landed this time so…”

In water?

“You alright?” Leo said calmly.

“Yes.”

“Okay then.”

Leo reappeared, this time with a very tired, very angry looking girl. She was the most beautiful girl Jason had ever seen. Besides Piper of course.

Why there was a girl with back-from-the-grave-Leo at all was overshadowed by the fact that Leo had his arm around her shoulders and was doing his best to help her onto shore while she glared at the dragon basking in the water.

Jason didn’t know what to say, but he noticed that both Chiron and Percy did a double take when they saw Leo’s friend. He got the impression it wasn’t because of her good looks.

“Everyone back to their activities,” Chiron ordered, cantering around the crowd and shooing them away from Festus. “You’ll all get to see our friends later I’m sure. Away with you now.”

Campers grumbled their disappointment. Some tried to linger and catch a glimpse of the newcomer, but they were quick to leave upon Chiron’s stern gaze.

“Leo, why don’t you and your friend come up to the Big House.”

Leo nodded and followed Chiron.

The rest of the group exchanged uncertain glances and Jason led them all back up the hill.

Inside, Chiron motioned for them all to sit. “My dear, why don’t you go down the hall and clean yourself up,” he said, turning to the girl. She said nothing and followed his direction. When she was out of sight, Chiron looked to Leo. “What happened?”

While Leo told his story, the rest of the group stared at him like they still couldn’t believe he was there. He paused a few times, either for dramatics or because he was trying to remember, it was hard to tell. Part way through, the girl, Calypso, returned, even more beautiful than before now that her hair was brushed out and her face was free of mud.

She nodded politely to all of them and took a seat beside Leo. Jason noticed she’d made eye contact with all but Percy.

When Leo finished, the silence persisted.

“So, Festus brought you back to life, you flew to an imaginary island, picked up a goddess, and crash landed in Maine before showing up here.” It sounded even more ridiculous when Jason summed it up.

“Yup, sounds about right.” Leo turned to Hazel and Frank. “So what are you two still doing here? All the Romans are gone aren’t they? Or did you two finally come to terms with Greek superiority?”

“Ha - no, not quite,” Frank said, glancing at the others uncomfortably.

“What’s going on?”

“We have a prophecy,” Rachel said. “And I think we now know the answer to our question.”

“What was the question? And wasn’t the whole Prophecy thing out? Or has it been reinstated?”

“It’s not exactly from the Oracle,” Jason said. “It’s from the Sibylline books.”

“The things Ella memorized?”

Jason nodded.

“So, we have a quest is what we’re saying. Please tell me I’m wrong. I’d like so much to be wrong.”

“Unfortunately no,” Chiron said from his corner, his arms folded across his chest. “It speaks of three heroes that must stop the titans Koios and Oceanus.”

“But they can have help,” Percy said. “It says that we have to have help if we’re going to succeed.”

“We,” Leo said numbly.

“You, me, and Annabeth.”

“Right. Of course, fire, water, and wisdom. Perfect combo.”

“It refers to Poseidon, Athena, and Hephaestus in the prophecy,” Frank said. “It has to be you three.”

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