The next morning at breakfast, Percy, Nico, Annabeth, and I had another meeting.
“So it sounds like Jay and Jarko are our best bets,” Annabeth said. “I don’t trust Tara.”
“Tara’s perfectly nice,” Nico said.
“Tara’s perfectly stupid,” Annabeth retorted. Then she blushed and looked over her shoulder. “I’m sorry, but I grade her work. She can barely count to fifty. How are we supposed to trust her with complex spells?”
“She’s got a point,” Percy said, folding a piece of bacon into his mouth. Annabeth reached down and took his last piece, and Percy looked at her as if she had committed an unforgivable crime.
“Well, we do know that Jay can do the spell,” Nico said. “Now we just have to come up with a way to get him to work with us.”
“I’m just now finishing all the chores I promised to do for him,” I groaned. “Can’t someone else make the deal this time?”
“We can all make the deal,” Annabeth said, and Percy gave her the look again.
After our science class, Annabeth, Nico, and I surrounded Jay’s desk as he put his notebook in his bag. He looked up and scowled. “What do you guys want?”
“We need your help,” I said.
Annabeth told him our plan to tell Chiron about the mortal charms and give everyone a chance to go home to their families for more of the year. Then she elaborated, bringing up her vision of uniting our world with the mortal world and learning how to work together.
“Very poetic,” Jay said dryly. “But me and my brothers have nowhere to go anyway, so I couldn’t care less about the rest of you going home.”
Nico and I looked at each other, then his face fell, and I knew that he had sensed Jay’s dad in the Underworld. “I’m so sorry, Jay. We didn’t know.”
Jay scowled. “Nosy much?”
Annabeth sighed. “I’m really sorry that you can’t go home to your dad, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get out in the mortal world and go to school or find something you really enjoy or--”
“I have found what I really enjoy,” Jay said defensively. “Magic.”
“That’s not what Malcolm told me,” Annabeth said.
Jay’s scowl deepened. “Those assignments are supposed to be confidential.”
“Those assignments stop being confidential when you make a death threat,” Annabeth said, crossing her arms. “Look, Jay. I’ve done nothing to you except attempt to get you to try on your work. You’re so intelligent, and I just wanted to help you realize your potential.”
“You’ve done nothing but patronize me,” Jay said, crossing his arms.
Annabeth sighed and looked at Nico and I for help.
“Jay, this isn’t about just you anymore,” Nico said. “You guys discovered something that could help all of us, and keeping it a secret just isn’t right.”
“I’m not the one keeping it a secret,” Jay said, “but if Jaq knew that, I wouldn’t just be facing a death threat.”
“We can protect you,” I promised.
“It’s not like I can sleep in your cabin.”
“You can sleep in the Big House,” Annabeth said. “Argus could guard your room.”
“And I could never have chores again,” Jay said. “I could leave camp whenever I wanted.”
“That’s something you’d have to talk to Chiron about, but I’m sure you guys could work something out.”
Jay picked up his bag off the desk and slung it over his shoulder. “Let me get Jarko, then we can go find Chiron.”
Annabeth smiled. “Deal.”
I sprinted as fast as I could to find Percy, who was in an Ancient Greek lesson. When I burst into the Athena cabin, he immediately got up and started following me. Then he stopped and grinned apologetically at Malcolm. “Family emergency? Gotta go.”
We made it back to Annabeth and Nico before Jay came back with Jarko.
“Fill me in,” Percy said, and Annabeth and Nico did.
“You never told me about any death threat,” Percy said, staring at Annabeth and crossing his arms.
“Is that really the most important thing right now?” she asked.
“When is someone getting a death threat not the most important thing?”
“All he said in the writing assignment was that I was so annoying that he wanted to kill me. Didn’t seem like that big of a deal. Kids say stuff like that all the time.”
Percy gestured to Nico and I. “Do they say that? Seriously, Annabeth. We’re talking about someone who is very good with weapons and knows magic. He could cast a spell on you and you wouldn’t even know.”
“I would know,” I said, probing Annabeth to make sure no spells had been put on her. “And she’s perfectly clear of spells and charms.”
Percy sighed. “You still should have told me.”
Nico tapped my arm, and I spotted Jay and Jarko coming towards us. Annabeth followed our eyes and told Percy to drop the subject.
“Ready?” I asked when Jay was close.
“As I’ll ever be,” he said.
We all headed to the Big House where, for once, Chiron was reading by the fire and not playing Pinochle with Mr. D. He looked up at us, not giving away any emotion. “Am I needed?”
“Sorry Chiron,” Percy said, “but it’s important.”
Chiron wheeled himself over to the ping pong table, and the rest of us sat down. When Nico, Annabeth, Percy, and I didn’t say anything, Jay sighed. “I guess I’m supposed to talk? But for the record, Chiron, this is all their idea. Make sure everyone knows that.”
“Okay,” Chiron said, folding his hands in his lap.
Jay continued to tell him about how Jaq had discovered the mortal charm and how Jay had managed to help Jake find a way to cast it on other people. Then he told Chiron that Jaq had sworn them to secrecy, not only about this charm, but about a lot of other magic that they had discovered, and that Jay was going to be in danger for sharing this information.
Chiron nodded and took a deep breath. “Why is Jaq so bent on keeping this information secret?”
“Lots of reasons,” Jay said, “some of which don’t make that much sense to anyone but him and Jake.”
“Those reasons being?”
Jay glanced at me. “Well, back when Mom came to teach us magic, she let Katelyn come too since she had the ability to do it. Well, that really rubbed Jaq and Jake the wrong way, I guess. They thought that the gods were extremely, um, wrong in making a half-blood like her in the first place. They just think that it’s not really fair?”
Chiron nodded and Jay continued, blushing. “Then she ended up being as good at the original magic Mom taught us as me. I’ve never heard the end of it, and since Jarko is already showing more promise than me, I don’t think I ever will. But when Mom gave Jaq the book about magic, he made us all swear that we would never tell anyone outside of our cabin about anything we learned, even if they could do magic. They just think that it should only be for children of Hecate, because she’s ignored enough as a ‘minor’ god already and people don’t see us as powerful, even though all my siblings should be considered powerful demigods.”
“And what about you?” Chiron asked.
Jay frowned and shrugged.
“James, let me tell you something,” Chiron said. “Not every child of the same god has to be the same. Your siblings may accel more in magic, but you have seen them practice swordplay.”
“So,” Annabeth said, “you know how much better you are at it than them.”
“Children of Hecate are supposed to be good at magic.”
“You’re missing the point, man,” Percy said. “You don’t see Nico here being exactly like his dad, the first son of Hades any of us… except Chiron… ever knew. He’s cool with being his own person, making his own destiny.”
“He’s not a son of Hades,” Jay said.
“Hey,” Nico said. “Just because I’m a descendent of two half-bloods doesn’t mean that I have any less godly blood than you.”
“He has just as much as you,” Annabeth confirmed. “Some of his godly blood just happens to be from Ares.”
“Which is why I’m better with more weapons than my dad,” Nico said proudly. I smiled at him. He wasn’t always so confident.
“What would you like me to do?” Chiron asked. “You all came here together for a reason.”
Jay looked at me, and I took a deep breath. “We wanted to give everyone access to the mortal charm so that, after we understand the danger the world poses to us and we can adequately defend ourselves, we can spend more time in the outside world with our mortal families.”
Chiron nodded, a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “From what I understand, you and Jay are fully capable of giving mortal charms to anyone who wants one.”
“Jark will be able to too, once he can enunciate better,” Jay said, and Jarko perked up at the mention of his name. Jay ruffled his hair. He looked back at Chiron, the smile leaving his face. “But Jaq and Jake will actually kill me… or at least seriously injure me if I -- we do that.”
Chiron frowned. “Surely your own brothers would not--”
“We swore an oath,” Jay said. “Not on the Styx or anything--” Thunder rumbled in the distance, and Jarko shoved his hands in his lap and raised his shoulders to his ears. “-- but it was serious. We have our own ways of making important oaths.”
“And the consequence for breaking the oath?” Percy asked.
“Death or exile,” Jay mumbled.
“Then make them choose exile.”
“Don’t you think I would if I could? When they know I told Katelyn about the charm, they won’t listen to me anymore.”
Chiron leaned forward. “James, you are welcome to bring your brothers here to have a mediation. I will make sure that Mr. D and I are here, and we will make sure that no harm comes to you because of your altruism.”
“As soon as you guys leave me alone with them, I’m doomed.”
“Then you should never be alone with them,” Percy said.
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