Percy figured it was only a matter of time. Three weeks without any problems? Excluding the little scuffle between an angry Roman named Taylor and one of the Stolls over how a certain gladius had ended up in the camp store, that is, that was a record.
So the stern look on Rachel’s face when she saw them approaching wasn’t what surprised him.
What surprised him was that Rachel Elizabeth Dare was here. In Camp Half Blood. In Long Island.
Just two weeks ago she had left for Camp Jupiter, on the other side of the country, with the Roman demigods. What did she do, turn around halfway? Percy had a feeling it wasn’t because she forgot her toothbrush.
Annabeth, Percy, Nico, and Jason trudged up the steps of the porch as Rachel turned and walked into the Big House in front of them.
Piper was already inside with Chiron, along with Hazel and Frank who must have accompanied Rachel back. They looked deep in conversation but they all looked up when the four entered.
Piper stood and went to stand beside Jason, concern spread on her face.
“Do you know what’s going on?” she asked, looking around at all of them. No one answered, Jason, Nico, and Percy shaking their heads simultaneously.
Annabeth stiffened beside Percy and dropped his hand, turning toward Rachel who was looking distractedly out the window out over the camp.
“Rachel, do you want to repeat what you told Chiron and me?” The oracle turned slowly and focused on the group. She still had a faraway look in her eyes, and her voice was soft as she began to speak.
“Something is happening,” she said. “Something…something bad.”
Percy had the urge to say something like, Well we’ve never faced anything like that before, but he stopped himself. There was something in the way Rachel was staring, not truly at them, like she couldn’t believe what she was seeing, and it made him nervous.
“With the gift of Prophecy still not present, we’ve been working with what we have of the Sibylline books, or what Ella has of them that is. We obviously haven’t had much time, but we worked all the way back to New Rome and managed to get a little insight.”
There was silence and Chiron motioned for Rachel to continue.
“It isn’t much, but it has been enough to make us believe that there is something coming, and coming soon.”
“How soon is ‘soon’ exactly?” Percy said. “Like, maybe we’ll be able to graduate high school first?”
“I don’t know, but I don’t think that long. Sorry, Percy.”
He shrugged. “Hey, no problem. That’s fine. I didn’t think I would stand a chance in Calculus anyway.”
Annabeth elbowed him. “Keep going, Rachel.”
“Anyway, so like I said, we really don’t know much. But there have been the dreams too.”
At this everyone took pause. Rachel was a mortal. She didn’t get dreams, at least not like demigods did. If Rachel had dreams, they would be prophetic - only the gift of Prophecy was currently out of commission.
“What kind of dreams, Rachel?” Chiron said calmly.
“It’s always the same - I am surrounded by water, I see land and I swim towards it, but I never make it. Something pulls me down and I can’t breath. There are lights at the bottom of the…the ocean or whatever, and I am drawn to them. It’s really dark and it suddenly becomes this kind of city, like some of the ancient ruins. There’s what used to be a palace, a temple, and it looks like I’m alone. This man appears, there’s a flash of light. He doesn’t seem to notice me. There’s this voice that echoes across the palace, loud, almost like an explosion. And then I wake up.”
“And what does it say?” Chiron spoke as if he already knew the answer.
“All of humanity shall sink to the depths and all of Olympus shall be consumed.”
The whole group stared at Rachel as if she’d just told them she was actually a five-headed dragon named Clyde.
“So, same old story? Some crazy is threatening the imminent doom of humanity and the gods?” Percy suggested.
“How do we know it’s even a prophecy though?” Jason said, though he didn’t sound convinced.
“We don’t really,” Rachel said. “It’s more like a feeling, not exactly like the oracle showing me things, but…I don’t know. I can’t explain. But one thing is clear. Something is about to happen.”
“You said you’d figured out some of the Sibylline books,” Piper remembered.
Rachel nodded. “Yeah, at least we think we have. We don’t know if the lines are in order, or even complete, but it’s something at least :
The seas will shroud an ancient dark,
All but one shall hit his mark.
A conquered foe shall rise again,
A veil of light the world shall shed.
The ocean’s wisdom shall be forged,
A forgotten goddess in death reborn.
Three shall follow a watery trail,
Without help, they are destined to fail.”
“Sounds pretty complete to me,” Nico said quietly. The others motioned their agreement.
“The first line is pretty self-explanatory I think,” Annabeth said. “Whatever is trying to rise is coming out of the sea, and then the end, three heroes are meant to go on the quest to stop it.”
“But the whole without help piece makes it seem like others are supposed to join them,” Percy pointed out. “Three may actually complete the quest, but unless other people go, the whole thing will fail.”
Chiron bobbed his head up and down slowly, deep in thought. “It is certainly clear that Percy must be one of the three.”
“Just because it’s about water? I mean, I’m all for the obvious but that seems a little too easy, don’t you think?” Percy said. He was not looking forward to going on any more quests, especially if he was the meant to be the main man, and the whole water thing surprisingly enough, was not appealing to him either.
Normally, he’d be excited at the prospect of lots of water. It meant he’d be strong in a battle and able to do his part. But in this case, if Annabeth was right, their enemy would be just as comfortable and probably even more powerful. The presence of water would simply make it all the more dangerous.
“I think he’s right, Percy,” Annabeth said. “A conquered foe, well that could mean anything but…” She glanced at Chiron and they held a silent conversation.
“What? You think you know what it means, don’t you?”
“I’m not sure. No, I don’t know. Never mind.”
Percy was going to press her for it, she obviously had some idea of what the prophecy was saying, but Jason cut in.
“Okay, but what does the a forgotten goddess in death reborn part mean? How can you be reborn in death?”
“Maybe it’s talking about the underworld,” Nico piped up. “Dying and finding life in Elysium or something? Or reincarnation, maybe.”
“But a goddess? Could that even happen?”
Nico shrugged. “That’s a point, I don’t know.”
“Well we have at least some time to think this through.” Chiron leaned back in his chair and stretched. He had dark bags under his eyes like he hadn’t slept well in a long time. Now that Percy thought about it, the centaur probably hadn’t since the battle with Gaea. He’d taken charge of almost every aspect of cleanup, helping with the wounded as well as the damages to the camp itself. “Let’s all sleep on it and resume this tomorrow.”
The group agreed and began to file out of the Big House.
Chiron motioned for Percy to stay. When Annabeth turned back with him, he said, “No, my dear, I’d like to speak to Mr. Jackson alone please.” She looked at him in confusion but didn’t question her old mentor. She smiled at Percy and headed out the door.
“Sit down, Percy.”
“What is it?”
“Well I’m sure I don’t know,” Chiron said with a smile. “What’s on your mind?”
Percy didn’t know what to say. There was something he’d been itching to talk about, but he hadn’t yet had the chance. Now that one was staring him in the face and demanding he fess up, he drew a blank.
“Nothing,” he said, though from the look on Chiron’s face he knew he wasn’t getting away with the lie. He sighed. “I’m not sure. I just…maybe I’m just tired. I haven’t slept well recently.”
“And what of dreams? You seemed tense when we spoke of an enemy from the sea. I’d have expected you to jump at that opportunity.”
You and me both, Percy thought. “Annabeth knows who the enemy is, doesn’t she?”
Chiron sighed. “I believe she has an idea, though she’s too worried to admit that she’s probably right.”
“And what does she think?”
“I would rather not say at present,” Chiron said helpfully. “I’d like to postpone that conversation for when we know both who will be going on the quest and what the other pieces mean. I did simply want to make sure you were alright.”
“I’m fine,” Percy said curtly.
“Yes, well now why don’t you get to your cabin and relax. I’ve certainly kept you long enough. Oh and Percy,” he said as Percy rose from the chair and moved to the door.
“Don’t dismiss your dreams, Percy. Do not attempt to evade them, for they will only find you again in the most inopportune of times.”
Percy nodded and returned to cabin three where he had every intention of evading his dreams best he could despite what Chiron advised.