Chapter 17: We Get Directions From A Gas-Passing Mammal

As the train rolled on through the night, I felt my eyes begin to feel heavier and heavier. I nodded off slightly, and woke up with a twitch as my face pressed up against the cool glass of the compartment window.

"Get some sleep Sickle Boy," Christine admonished. She was sitting across from me, next to Sydney and Paul.

"We'll wake you up if anything happens." She added quickly, because I sent her a look that clearly said: But, what if we get attacked? I nodded blearily and closed my eyes, leaning back into the comfort of my seat. It wasn't even ten seconds before I was out like a light.

And, maybe sleep wasn't such a good idea after all, I thought as I awoke in yet another vision/dream.

I was surprised to find that I wasn't in the creepy void with Mr. Space-Eyeball though. Instead, I was in some kind of throne room. The first thing I noticed about the room was its size. There were exactly 12 thrones all organized in a reverse U shape. I vaguely recalled that the cabins at Camp Half Blood were arranged the same way…

OH CRAP, I thought frantically. I'M IN THE OLYMPIAN THRONE ROOM!

I managed to calm myself down and quickly ducked behind a large marble column to the side. A good thing I did too, because just as I managed to hide, two large bronze doors opened, and I watched as a figure walked through the doorway and into the throne room. I gasped.

It was Eris!

Eris strode towards the center of the room, completely oblivious to the fact that I was hiding no more than thirty feet to her right in the shadow of the column. I prayed she'd stay oblivious. When she reached the center of the room she knelt and said:

"My Lord," she said reverently, which struck me as odd. Eris: respectful?

"I have returned from my mission…" She said in a weaker voice.

Just as she finished her sentence, there was a flash like lightning and a man appeared on the largest, and center-most throne.

He was tall, imposing, and looked really buff. He had long, shoulder-length black hair with a gray-and-black neatly trimmed beard. His eyes were a brilliant electric blue, and he had a very proud face. He was wearing a dark blue pinstriped suit, which struck me as odd. But I supposed if Hermes could wear a suit, why couldn't Zeus?

That's right, you heard me correctly. I was looking at the KING OF OLYMPUS: ZEUS.

I nearly tried to make a break for it, but Zeus didn't seem to notice my presence either, because he sighed and glowered down at Eris, who quivered slightly.

"WHY DO I GET THE FEELING YOU HAVE BAD NEWS FOR ME, MY DAUGHTER?" He said in a deep, commanding voice. Eris squeaked and bowed her head in shame.

"That's," she stammered. "Because the Titan bloods defeated the Ethiopian Bull…I…I was sure they wouldn't, but…"

I watched in a kind of terrified awe as static electricity seemed to flicker across Zeus' beard, and his blue eyes narrowed.


Eris whimpered more, and I saw her glare at the floor.

"The son of Lord Hyperion," she snarled, clenching her fists in rage, "He kicked the bull into a swamp, where Oceanus' daughter trapped it! You know the bull can only be defeated by…"

"BY BEING TRAPPED IN SOME SORT OF A PIT, YES." Zeus finished with a frustrated sigh. He stroked his beard thoughtfully.


Eris clicked her tongue in distaste.

"The daughter of Lord Iapetus was the one that finished the bull with her spear once it was caught. Lord Koios' brat was the one who figured out the bull's weakness and informed the other brats, and Lord Kronos' kid…!"

Zeus' eyebrows rose in interest.

"YES," He said, leaning forward. "WHAT DID MY HALF-BROTHER DO IN THE FIGHT?"

Eris tried not to glower at the King of the Gods, but I could see the mad rage bubbling in her expression.

"He threatened me with that accursed sickle of his!" Eris bellowed. "How did that brat get his hands on such a powerful weapon?"

Zeus' eyes narrowed and he leaned back in his chair idly. His eyes roved the whole of the throne room and he grumbled.


I nearly stumbled. Was Zeus, the King of the Gods: pouting?

Eris got to her feet and crossed her arms.

"Anyway," she huffed. "The brats are on their way to Chicago to make contact with Lady Hecate for information about the location of the Titan's Blade!"

Zeus gripped the armrests of his throne so hard; they nearly splintered.


Eris nodded in agreement and cackled.

"Very true Father," she chuckled. "Do you want me to try and stop them again?"

Zeus shook his head in the negative.


Eris pouted a bit and kicked at the ground. Zeus rolled his eyes slightly.


Eris scoffed.

"Why not?" she whined. "War is my favorite!"

Zeus definitely rolled his eyes this time and glared at Eris, who paled at his stern expression.


Eris shut up quickly after that, and Zeus nodded to himself in satisfaction.


Eris nodded and vanished in a flash of gold light. Zeus sat on his throne a moment longer and then, without warning: locked eyes with me, even though I was hidden from his view behind the column. His eyes flared in outrage and he summoned a thunderbolt and tossed it in my direction, and then…!

I awoke with a start as Jacen shook me violently. I gulped and looked around frantically. I was still on the train. All of my friends were looking at me in concern. Jacen let go of me and scanned me apprehensively.

"Yo, Eddy," he said carefully. "Are you alright? You're shaking, man."

I glanced down at my hands to see them shaking slightly. I clenched my fists and they calmed down. I wiped the sweat from my forehead and looked at all of my friends seriously.

"I just had another vision," I informed them. They all tensed and looked harder at me. Christine sat forward.

"Was it about that eye-ball again?" she asked. I shook my head.

"No, it was about Zeus, listen…"

It took me a while to explain my whole vision to my friends, but when I finished, everyone was silent for a good while. Jacen gulped and turned to look at me.

"Are you sure that Zeus told Eris not to come after us again?" he asked. I nodded and he sighed in relief.

"Good. I hate that goddess. She's nuttier than squirrel poop."

I chuckled nervously and glanced out the window cautiously. I didn't want Eris to randomly reappear and declare vengeance for Jacen's cheek. Paul sighed and rubbed his forehead in agitation.

"Each time we take a step forward on this quest, it feels like the Olympians are always a few more steps ahead of us!"

Christine looked at Paul in sympathy and patted his shoulder.

"That's immortals for you though," she commiserated. Sydney nodded sagely and added:

"If Lord Zeus is really convening with the other Olympians, maybe our Olympian allies can slow him down a little bit?"

Sydney looked so hopeful, I felt bad. In my head I just couldn't see Zeus backing down from delaying us in any way he possibly could. I groaned and rested my head against my seat.

"I just wish our dads could help us somehow!" I sighed. "Or, at least give us a way to meet with them! It would be so much easier if we knew why this Titan's Blade is so important!"

Jacen nodded in agreement.

"I feel you, Eddy," Jacen commented. "So far, the only lead we have is Mr. Space-Eyeball's issue with us getting to the blade, according to your last vision! And we don't even know what that guy's deal is!"

We sat in an uncomfortable silence again for a while until Paul spoke up.

"Well," he began slowly. "We know that Lady Hecate will have some idea hopefully about the location of the Titan's Blade…Who knows? She might even tell us why our fathers are so adamant about us retrieving it!"

I glanced at Paul and nodded slowly.

"I have no clue what Zeus is going to try and throw at us next," I said with a shrug. "But, according to him, he won't kill us himself, because he doesn't want our dads to declare war on him."

Christine snorted.

"Well, that's comforting," she spat. "I'd rather get struck by a lightning bolt, than get run through by all of these monsters, and then eaten!"

Sydney gasped.

"Don't say that, Crissy!"

Christine sighed and sat back in her seat with her arms crossed.

"Sorry Syd," she apologized. "I just don't understand why Zeus is so Hades-bent on us NOT completing our quest! Can't our dads just tell him that we're not trying to overthrow him?"

Paul, who was looking out the window at the dark landscape passing by, turned and shook his head resignedly.

"The thing is Christine," Paul replied. "We don't know what we need to get the blade for…as far as we know, our fathers do want to overthrow Zeus."

Christine frowned and didn't respond. I figured she was taking in what Paul just said. I was too. What if my dad really did want to overthrow Zeus and retake his throne?

Jacen sat forward and added:

"What about the prophecy?" he asked. We all turned to look at him. Paul cocked an eyebrow.

"What about it, Jacen?" he asked. Jacen shrugged, looking at all of us in turn.

"Well," he continued. "Maybe if we try to decipher it, we can understand what's going on?"

We let that sink in for a moment. Jacen had a point. In fact, I hadn't really thought too much about our prophecy from the Oracle of Delphi since we received it. I was too busy fending off monsters and one crazy goddess. Sydney perked up.

"You know," she began. "This is the first I'm hearing of a prophecy. Can you let me in on it?"

I blinked at her. That's right! I thought. Sydney wasn't there to hear it! I looked at Paul who nodded solemnly and began to recite the prophecy word for word.

"Four shall depart upon this day, an ally to join you along the way. A mystical blade known only to some, a challenge that one hero must overcome. Upon the conclusion, a choice shall be made, a union is broken that cannot be saved. A debt will be paid, while a price is incurred. The wrath of the heavens shall surely be stirred."

Sydney asked Paul to repeat the prophecy one more time, and when he was finished, she sat in contemplation for a moment before she said:

"Well, the first part is pretty clear: 'an ally to join you along the way'. That's me, I'm guessing?"

Paul nodded. Sydney went on:

"We know that the 'mystical blade' is the Titan's Blade," she continued. "But, the next part doesn't make sense to me…"

Jacen sat forward.

"A challenge that one hero must overcome?" he asked. Sydney nodded. Jacen bobbed his head in agreement.

"Yeah, I see what you mean. That 'challenge' could be any number of things. And it doesn't help that we don't know who it's referring to."

Christine sighed and uncrossed her arms.

"That part of the prophecy doesn't concern me nearly as much as the rest does," she said darkly. "I want to know what it means about 'a union is broken that cannot be saved', and all of that."

I nodded gravely. The rest of the prophecy was pretty dark sounding. 'A debt will be paid, while a price is incurred. The sleep of the heavens shall surely be stirred.'

The sleep of the heavens shall surely be stirred?

I gasped, and everyone turned to me urgently. I looked at Jacen.

"Jacen!" I said frantically. "Remember the vision we shared at my house? That eyeball said: If I wake now…?"

Jacen's eyes widened.

"Yeah!" he replied, cottoning on. "Could that space-eyeball be who the prophecy is referring to?"

Paul's face grew deathly pale.

"You guys did say that the eyeball seemed to be waking up, but do you really think that it could be about it?"

Sydney's face showed just how LOST she was.

"Space-eyeball?" she questioned. We nodded absent-mindedly. She pouted. "WHAT ARE IN THE WORLD ARE YA'LL TALKING ABOUT?"

We apologized for confusing her and caught Sydney up to speed about the mysterious space-eyeball visions, Jacen and I had. Sydney frowned.

"I understand a little better now," she replied slowly. "And the whole thing about the eyeball being in space could explain 'the heavens' but: what is the eyeball then?"

Paul nodded in agreement.

"Sydney's got a point there," Paul said emphatically. "The place where the eyeball is could be the 'heavens' the prophecy is referring to, but we still don't know the importance of the eyeball, itself…"

Christine shivered slightly in her seat.

"Can we stop talking about that creepy eyeball," she whimpered. "It's grossing me out!"

Jacen smirked and chuckled slightly.

"You haven't had the pleasure of seeing it, Christine!"

She glared at him.

"And I HOPE I NEVER DO!" she snapped back in reply. I cleared my throat.

"Well, I've seen it TWICE!" I added. Christine's face paled and she looked like she was going to be sick. Paul interrupted:

"Look," he began, trying to get us back on track. "It doesn't matter who's seen it or not: the fact is, until we know what it has to do with the prophecy, we can't worry about it!"

"I can still be grossed out by it though." Christine muttered defiantly. Paul rolled his eyes at her and continued:

"For the moment, let's focus on finding and talking to Lady Hecate. It's our best lead right now, and honestly: the less we have to think about now, the better."

I nodded. You couldn't argue with that.

Our train arrived in Chicago around four in the morning. The conductor got back on the intercom and told everyone on board where to get their tickets refunded for the mysterious explosion and delay earlier. He also informed us that it was Tuesday, October 28th, just in case anyone needed the date. We did, and we weren't happy to hear that. That left us only three days, (technically) before the Pyanepsion Feast on the 31st.

When we exited the train, I noticed a lot of Chicago Police making inquires at frazzled passengers about the strange incident on the train earlier. Paul ushered us as fast as possible away from the train and down a long hallway towards the station exit.

Jacen crossed his arms as we walked and grumped:

"Can't we go get a refund for our tickets?" he pouted. Paul chuckled and turned to him.

"Sure Jacen," he replied sarcastically. "We can tell them that the Ethiopian Bull attacked us, and we DEMAND to compensated for the disruption of our peace-of-mind!"

We all laughed, even Jacen, at Paul's remark.

When we finally made it outside, I realized why Chicago had the nickname 'The Windy City'. It was freezing. I crossed my arms and shivered. After all, the only clothes I had on were my dirt-spattered jeans, and my camp T-shirt. Jacen seemed to be in the same boat as me, but he didn't seem bothered at all. I turned to him with a raised eyebrow.

"Jace," I said, teeth clattering. "Aren't you freezing?"

Jacen's eyebrows rose and he looked down at his attire and shrugged.

"I get the feeling that having flame powers kind of makes me naturally insulated, you know?" He replied with a cocky grin. I narrowed my eyes at him bitterly. I could stop time, but I couldn't stop the cold. Wonderful.

Christine and Sydney both seemed fine, seeing that Christine was wearing a long sleeved shirt now, and Sydney had her red hoodie. Paul was the only one who looked slightly uncomfortable by the chill in the air, but even he seemed to handle it better than I did. I decided not to complain anymore about it.

Paul's eyes scanned the street signs as we made our way down South Canal Street.

"We need to hop on a bus to get to Millennium Park," Paul informed us. Christine tilted her head in confusion.

"Why do we need to go there?" she asked. Paul scratched his head.

"Well," he began, "I figure we can ask the nature spirits if they know anything about where Lady Hecate would be…"

Christine's eyes flashed dangerously at me. I gulped and broke eye contact with her.

"I ASSUME," Christine added in a low, dangerous tone. "We're going to take advantage of Sickle Boy's status with them?"

Paul nodded. It was easy for him to do! He didn't have a bi-polar girl who wanted to gut him anytime he talked to a nature spirit!

Jacen and Sydney caught each other's eyes and snickered at my flushed expression and Christine's indignant glare at me.

We walked for at least another half mile before we finally found a bus stop on West Monroe Street. We all sat on the cold metal bench, grateful to rest our aching feet. Thankfully, we all were able to get some sleep on the train, so we were well rested but still: walking in the cold, sucked.

It was early in the morning, so we were the only people currently at the stop. We waited in silence for a while until a bus turned down the street and made its way toward us. Paul stood up and glanced at us.

"Well, that's our bus," he said. "Let's hope it'll take us to Millennium Park."

The bus was warm which was good. However, the bus smelled terrible which was bad. Jacen muttered that he was pretty sure someone must've thrown up in the seat in front of us, because we were positive that the rank smell was emanated from somewhere in front of us. Christine looked green and had her head tucked between her knees, like she was fighting off the urge to add to the rancid smell of the bus with her own contribution. Sydney was patting her on the back supportively, but even she had her hoodie scrunched up so it covered her nose. I glanced across the bus at Paul, who was trying to read his book and ignore the smell. Note, that I said trying. He had been on the same page for the last ten minutes, and I was positive that the guy wasn't even reading. Jacen turned to me and hissed:

"Why in the world would Lady Hecate want to make this city her home base?" he cried in outrage. I chuckled at him.

"Come on Jace," I said in an attempt to pacify him. "The buses in Pittsburgh aren't much better…"

It was true. The Port Authority buses back home could stink worse than anything you've ever smelt. That's why I was grateful that when I found out that I'd be transported to Winchester Thurston on a school bus. The thought of that made me feel really homesick though. I hadn't been gone from Pittsburgh for more than two days, but I couldn't help but wonder how my mom was doing. I vowed that next chance I got, I'd have to send her an Iris-Message to let her know that I was still alive and okay.

The bus ride took another twenty minutes, and as we rolled on I noticed that the city itself seemed to be waking up. It was around five in the morning, so we started to see sleepy Chicagoans making their way to work and the like. I looked at Paul who frowned at the passerby's.

"Something wrong dude?" I asked carefully. Paul sighed and turned to me.

"I just hope we can get to the park before people start to show up," he told me. "It's one thing to talk to nature spirits, but it would be really awkward to talk to one in broad daylight, with people around."

Christine lifted her head out from between her knees and looked groggily at Paul.

"Won't the Mist obscure us though?" she asked weakly. Paul scratched his head.

"It should," Paul answered. "But, I'd like to avoid curious mortals if we can."

I nodded. I felt awkward enough when I had to summon a naiad at camp to help us make an Iris-Message. I couldn't imagine how embarrassed I'd feel if I had mortals looking at me like I was crazy, or worse: calling the police to report me for something!

The bus dropped us off on South Michigan Avenue and we stopped on the sidewalk next to the park. I could see the Jay Pritzker Pavilion from above the tree line of the street. I had seen pictures, and Mr. P had told me once about a concert he attended here a few years back. I chuckled under my breath. Now that I knew Mr. P was actually Apollo, I found it hard to picture him wearing a band T-shirt and simply being a part of the crowd. He probably was in the band, for all I knew.

My thoughts about Apollo were interrupted when I heard Christine scream. I wheeled around, and was about to unleash Ananke, only to stop when I saw what the source of the scream was from.

A weasel had brushed right by Christine's legs and darted off into the cover of the shrubs of the park. I cocked an eyebrow at her and commented:

"Really, Warrior Girl?"

Christine's eyes shot daggers at me.

"It startled me!" she defended. Jacen laughed.

"I'd say it did more than startle you!"

"Shut up, Jacen!"

We all made our way down the sidewalk and into the entrance of the park. We stood underneath the crisscrossing patterns of steel beams in the Great Lawn overhead and looked around. I turned to Paul.

"Umm dude?" I began awkwardly. "I don't think we'll find any dryads out in the open like this…"

Paul crossed his arms.

"Eddy," he sighed. "Remember Maple? She came to us because you were here. She wouldn't have done that for any of us, unless we looked for her. The nature spirits of the park should be drawn to you, so we just have to wait for a bit."

I exchanged glances with the others, and hesitantly took a seat on the cool, damp grass of the lawn. It was still dark out, but on the horizon of Lake Michigan, I could see a slight sliver of pink light, signifying the approaching dawn. I watched the horizon for a while thinking of Apollo's sun chariot when I distinctly heard giggling and the soft patter of feet nearby.

I looked up and saw a group of dryads looking intently at me. They blushed when I made eye contact with them and I turned back to Paul who nodded at me as if to say: 'Well?'

I chanced a glance at Christine, and immediately wished I didn't. She looked like she wanted to rip my head off. I gulped and got to my feet slowly, brushing grass off of my jeans. Jacen gave me thumbs up and a grin, while Sydney just watched on in mild amusement.

I approached the dryad group apprehensively. They didn't try to run off or anything, but they did continue to whisper to one another and giggle. I felt so self-conscious. I was covered in dirt and grime from the battle on the train, and I probably looked like a real mess. I was bad enough dealing with girls, but a whole group of them? I was mortified.

Who I assumed to be the leader of the little cluster of tree spirits stepped forward when I was no less than three feet away from her and said:

"We are honored you have graced us with your presence, young lord." She said kindly. She had amber colored eyes, and white hair, like snow. She was clothed in a forest green chiton and was barefoot. Now that I thought about it, all of the dryads were clothed in a similar fashion.

"Uh, thanks?" I replied, feeling like a loser. Honestly, I was never going to get used to this, I was sure of that. The lead dryad giggled.

"I am Simida," she informed me. I translated the name in my head and realized that her name was 'Birch' like the tree. I looked around the lawn, and lo and behold: a large birch tree was in one of the far corners of the area.

I nodded and introduced myself.

"Hi my name's Eddy," I said. "You don't have to call me 'young lord'."

All of the dryads gasped and looked at each other in bewilderment. Simida opened her mouth to protest, but I waved her off dejectedly.

"OKAY," I conceded. "Never mind, young lord is fine, I suppose."

All of the dryads seemed to calm down considerably at that, and Simida smiled.

"What can I help you with, my lord?" she asked. I told her about our current situation. Our quest, being told to seek out Lady Hecate, and now: trying to find out where to find her. Simida and the dryads were a great audience. The gasped when I told them about the attack on the train, and they all shared a dark look when I mentioned Eris, I supposed they weren't found of the Discord Goddess either. When I finished Simida was quiet for a moment and then clapped her hands together.

"GALE!" she called out. I blinked at her. What did that mean?

"Excuse me?" I stammered. Simida glanced around me, like she was expecting something. I was about to ask her again, when I smelt something terrible from below me. I glanced down and nearly yelled out loud.

Right on my sneaker was a large weasel, which glared up at me with narrowed eyes. I couldn't figure out what it wanted! Was it going to bite me?

Simida grinned and gestured to the over-sized weasel.

"My lord, this is Gale," she informed me. I raised an eyebrow at her.

"Okay, and how does this help me?" I muttered. Gale farted and glared harder at me, growling. I laughed. Did this thing just fart? I stopped laughing as the smell reached my nostrils, and gagged. I noticed that Simida and the other dryads had backed up a few paces, so they didn't have to smell the fart.

Simida giggled and gestured to Gale again, who was now making her way up my clothes and sat on my shoulder. I was NOT happy about having a mean, fart-busting rodent on my shoulder, but I wasn't going to risk getting bitten by saying that out loud.

"Gale is a servant of Lady Hecate," Simida informed. "Just as we nature spirits serve your father and by association: you. Gale always knows the location of Lady Hecate, and she will guide you to her."

I blinked and chanced a glance at Gale who growled at me in response. I paled and turned back to Simida.

"Can't one of you show me?" I stammered. Gale farted again and I was tempted to toss her from my shoulder.

Simida giggled.

"Silly," she admonished. "Dryads cannot leave their tree's domain. It is our life force. I could do so if you were to grant me your father's blessing, but I sense that you have already granted it to another."

I blinked and nodded. I forgot that the only reason Maple was able to guide us was because my dad allowed her to leave. Simida seemed to understand my confusion because she went on to say:

"The Blessing of Kronos is a rare gift that can only be given once," she informed me. "It is a most precious gift. The maiden who received it from you is very blessed and lucky."

I smiled, thinking of Maple.

"Yeah, she was a great person." I said fondly. The dryads behind Simida giggled again, and I flushed pink, realizing that I said that out loud. Simida just chuckled.

"Nevertheless, Gale will take you to her master, my lord."

I glanced at Gale who continued glaring at me, and I glared back.

"You better not fart on me again." I grumbled. Simida and the other dryads laughed.

I thanked Simida and bid farewell to the other dryads, and made my way back to my friends, who were sitting in the middle of the lawn, waiting expectantly for me. When they noticed the giant weasel on my shoulder they all jumped. Christine screamed again, and Gale growled in irritation.

"WHAT IS THAT EDDY?" Christine wailed. Paul rubbed his face and glared at her.

"It's a weasel, Christine." He answered in an annoyed tone. Jacen's eyebrows rose and he approached Gale cautiously and examined her.

"That's a pretty big weasel," he commented. "Wonder how it got so big?"

Gale snarled and farted again. Jacen blinked, and stared in astonishment for a moment, and then…

He fell right onto the ground laughing his butt off. Sydney giggled and Christine looked offended. Paul chuckled, and I held my nose and glared at Gale, who acted like she did nothing wrong. How is this thing supposed to lead us? I thought in irritation. Gale glanced at me, and leapt off of my shoulder and began to trot off. I glanced at my friends, and Jacen, who was still on the ground, watched Gale curiously.

"Where is it going?" he asked. I sighed and helped my best friend to his feet.

"First off Jace," I said. "Gale is the weasel's name, and she's a girl."

Christine sniffed.

"What an unladylike girl," she muttered. "Girls shouldn't pass gas like that!"

Sydney rolled her eyes at Christine and said:

"Well Crissy," she laughed. "That's true, but Gale's a weasel, not a human girl!"

Christine blushed and turned away in embarrassment.

"I KNOW THAT!" She defended. We all just laughed at her, and I turned to Paul.

"Gale is actually a servant of Lady Hecate, from what the nature spirits told me," I informed him. Paul's eyes widened. "Simida, the dryad's leader told me that to get to Lady Hecate, we'd need to have Gale as a guide, because she is the only one that can find her."

Paul nodded, and he turned to look at Gale who was growling at us a few feet away in irritation, and sighed.

"Well, if she can really lead us…" he began, as we walked towards Gale.

"Let's follow the gas-passing weasel."