It’s kinda weird how fate works. I was almost oblivious to the fact the fate of the world was in my hands for a long time.
And then, the Titan king showed up and demanded me to give myself up to him. It was something I thought I heard many times before – on an old movie or something like that.
I was taken from Cronus sooner than the Titan king expected, and placed me under the watchful eyes of the Olympians and their mortal champions.
But, during that first day in New Olympia, I had no idea what was going on.
I’d finally opened up to Jay about what Cronus showed me. I shouldn’t have been able to guess it, but I guess he was expecting it.
“Is that all?” Jay said incredulously. “I was seriously expecting you overdramatize it.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Exaggerating the situation wouldn’t help,” I replied. “Besides that, you act like you’ve seen similar things.”
Jay rubbed the back of his neck. “Similar. Not quite exact. During last school year, I kinda had a wild imagination when it came to playing chess.”
“More like a recurring nightmare. Huge chess board. Different personalities of both me and Cronus. I’m given a minute to think before he starts to play dirty. My bishop turns into Theresa. Tells me it ultimately comes down between me and him, that everyone else that follows me is only pawns. By that point, I wake up in a cold sweat.”
“I see it now. I can’t say I blame you. Something like that would give me a hard time sleeping.”
“Considering it keeps coming to me, I hardly sleep at all.”
“And how are you not tired? Please, riddle me that.”
Jay smiled wearily. “Oh, I’m dead tired. Sometimes, I can hardly remember even going to school by the time I get back here.”
“Zero nights of decent sleep?”
“Sadly. It bothers me a lot. Even at Camp Half-Blood, I didn’t get a good night’s sleep.”
I was astounded. “You’ve been to Camp Half-Blood?”
Jay shrugged, his lazy grin gone. “The few days after the whole war in New York. I know what happened. Annabeth and Percy told me.”
“Annabeth Chase? Percy Jackson?”
“You’re acting like it’s such a big deal.”
“They’re my friends! You talking to them is a huge deal.”
“They became my friends over the summer. Percy, especially. I guess he’s never seen mortals can fight the god of time.”
“How long have you been fighting Cronus, by the way?”
“Since the end of two thousand nine? I’ve been in this war since I was fourteen, anyway.”
“That’s a little young, don’t ya think?”
“Look at my little sister. She’s only thirteen. I hardly think fourteen is too young. As a matter of fact, no prophecy cares how old you are. It just drafts you into it.”
“Percy was twelve when he got his prophecy. He’s sixteen, and the most recent prophecy–”
“The Great Prophecy, I know. The whole war in Manhattan was all over that prophecy.”
“And your prophecy was kinda said a little late by Rachel Dare. You kinda fulfilled it, right?”
“Like I said, the last time I saw Cronus was at the end of June. Apparently it’s fulfilled, but Ares says Cronus is still out there.”
“That I believe. So, there’s a newer prophecy out there that I’m somehow involved with?”
“We’re looking for someone. I figured if Cronus starts narrowing down to someone, we would step in.
“When hanging out with Percy over the summer, he mentioned you were a little odd. According to him, no other mortal provided to be such a target to monsters.”
“Frick, during the war in New York, I saw monsters all the time. I just acted like I didn’t see them.”
Jay shook his head. “I’m guessing that was to be expected of you.”
“Next to believing you’re a part of fiction, yeah.”
The conversation lulled into silence. I could hear laughter downstairs from Herry. I thought back to those white dots where his jugular vein was. I often wondered what bit him to make scars like those during that first day, but, then again, I thought I knew what attacked him deep down.
We walked by a mirror, and I paused in front of it. Jay laughed.
“Y’know, I didn’t think you were vain enough to look at your reflection,” Jay said.
“Couldn’t resist. Everyone’s gotta look in the mirror at some point, right?” I replied, looking at my reflection. I swear I looked paler than usual, along with being a lot chiller than I really was.
I looked like one of those freaks Stephanie Meyer calls vamps. Some days I wondered how the hell a fanged fiend of the night could wind up a person with glitter spilled all over them.
“I think I hear gears working in that head of yours. What’s on your mind?” Jay noted.
“It’s the freaks that glitter they call vamps. I think I look like one,” I answered, seriously hoping I didn’t start sparkling in the sun.
“They’re a part of fiction, remember?” Jay reminded.
“Like you were supposed to be,” I muttered.
“The closest things you’re going to find out there to those damn fairies are empousai,” Jay continued, with no regard to my comment.
I groaned. “Let me guess: Percy told you about the whole Labyrinth quest?”
“Yeah. You know what empousai are, right?”
“Handmaids of Hecate. The stuff Count Dracula was based on. Sybaris is their queen. Crap like that.” I laughed. “You’re sick of all these Twihearts, too?”
“Puh-lease. Theresa and Atlanta are both into it. Theresa’s pulling for Edward, meanwhile Atlanta’s rooting for Jacob. I can’t wait for this to end. Harry Potter was way better than all this.”
“No doubt. I could actually sit through a whole viewing of one of the movies. In the case of Twilight: Not a fucking chance. Bella’s a Mary-Sue, and Edward is emo. Jacob is the only one still sensible about it.”
“And here we go with the use of foul language. How is it when you start on a subject you hate, you drop the f-bomb?”
“One of those things you’ll learn to like. Trust me, you’ll know I hate a subject due to language.”
“Besides that, I noticed scars on Herry’s neck, right where the jugular is. You wouldn’t mind telling me about it, would you?”
“About Sybaris: we kinda met her. Herry fell head over heels for her human form.”
“Let me guess: By the time night fell, poor Herry experienced the wrath of the vampire queen?”
“Exactly. Now when Halloween comes by, the others seriously are considering arming me and Neil with holy water, stakes, garlic, and stuff like that. There’s been a rumor circling the dorm since then: that Herry likes his steaks medium rare and his incisors are still longer than normal.”
“Really? Why? Besides that, that’s a little cruel to say about Herry, even if it is true.”
“Neil killed off Sybaris’s minions. Since my xiphos is silver, I turned the vamp queen to dust. And you’re right: that is a little mean.”
“Now you’re a vampire slayer?”
“I guess. I just used instinct. Hera was in danger. I wasn’t about to let the queen of the gods fade that easily.”
I stared at him. “You know Hera?”
Jay gave me that lazy grin. “Yeah. I thought you’d figure that part out by now.”
“You said you were going to explain how you and your friends here are all chums with the Olympian gods?”
“Oh, that. It was either Zeus or Hera that tasked the gods with mentoring and protecting us. Someone thought it just wasn’t right having us fight Cronus with not a single piece of advice.”
“How does is explain the whole freaking advanced weapons training with Ares?”
“Ares coordinates our physical training with Artemis. Archie and Atlanta are their favorites: they get to play with the new toys.” Jay sounded bitter as he talked about it.
“And you? How did you get to be Hera’s favorite?”
“If you really did grow up with Greek myths as a kid, you would know.”
“It’s because Hera liked Jason, she automatically likes you?”
“It appears so. Apparently, I have a good heart – a perfect trait for the leader of a team of mortal heroes.”
“Judging from what you’re saying, I’d say you’re an overachiever.”
“When you’re trying to please the queen of the gods, yeah. You kinda have to be.”
“So, anyway, I know I’m supposed to be staying in the dorm somewhere. What about my education?”
“Of course, no one mentions that. You’ll be going to school with us.”
“Like walking to school? No news to me, pal.”
“A lot of us bike. A little later, I might take you out to show you where it is.”
“Obviously not far from here. That much I know.”
“Observant. I like you.”
“Is it because I’m observant or what?”
“You’re witty, and have a hideous personality when the sun rises. I have a feeling you’re capable of taking care of yourself when it comes down to it.”
“That’s right.” I smiled proudly. “You kinda know a lot about me just by glancing at me.”
We’d stopped walking again. I was leaning against a hardwood door. Jay was looking at me with a reserved intensity, like he wanted to kiss me, but was scared to.
“You’re cool,” he finally said, ending the previous conversation. “I think you’ll like this whole prophecy thing once you get the hang of it.”
“And about where I’m supposed to be staying? Which door is it?” I questioned.
“You’re leaning on it,” he hinted.
At that, I found the doorknob.
I turned it.
And, Lord, I was flabbergasted.