Before she returned to the apartment, Theoria made a quick stop. Before her lay the strawberry fields of Camp Half-Blood in all of their glory. A lone satyr was making his way through them, charming the plants with his reed pipes. She wasn't an expert on crops, but it looked like harvest time was nearing.
Her knowledge of the camp was not as great as she would have liked. Her mother's description of the camp had been brief, and much of what she knew came from her own… ranged observations. Those had promptly ended a few months back when Thalia's tree had been poisoned.
Thalia's tree was quite important to the camp. It had previously been a daughter of Zeus, who had been transformed by her father moments before her death. It powered the wards and border for Camp Half-Blood, and marked the spot where campers traditionally entered.
She stood next to the tree in question, which had a glittering sheepskin draped high in its boughs. That was probably the Golden Fleece, which had been retrieved by Clarisse La Rue. Theoria's duplicate on Olympus couldn't help but overhear Ares bragging about the actions of his daughter. The war god wouldn't shut up about it.
The tree seemed to be doing much better than when she had last seen it. The leaves looked healthy, the limbs were thick, and the border felt strong. There was a sort of pervading emptiness though, and she briefly wondered what that might mean. Perhaps Thalia's spirit had finally moved on to the Underworld?
She heard two voices approaching, and swiveled her ears to better listen in.
"As I've told you, ever since Thalia's tree was healed and the border restored, border patrol is a boring and useless task. You just march in a large circle around the camp."
"But Travis told me about the pizza delivery guy! Can't mortals sometimes get through?" Asked a familiar voice.
A sigh. "Yes, every decade or so a really lost mortal shows up on the beach or something, but that isn't likely to ever happen while you're on the job. The most I've ever found when the border was strong was a monster that got themselves stuck halfway through the wards."
"I'm pretty good at finding things. I bet I'll find the coolest thing ever while on border patrol!"
"Calm down kid. If you use that much enthusiasm on something boring like border patrol you won't have anything left for the really fun parts of camp. You're going to be a hot commodity in capture the flag."
A ghost of a smile came across her face. She couldn't pass up this opportunity. She marched around the tree to face the approaching campers.
Hector, covered in bits and pieces of ill-fitting armor and toting a sword half his own height began to hobble his way over. His companion was a much larger kid in a well-kept set of battle armor, who stared at her in shock.
She felt small arms circle around her, and she raised a wing to pat the boy on the head.
"So… what're you doing here?"
She chose her words carefully. "I would like to speak with the camp's director."
Hector pouted. "What do you want to speak with that old- erm, I mean what do you want to see Mr. D for?"
"Be careful what you call him." She warned.
"Yeah, yeah, everyone keeps saying that. I don't see what the big deal is, all he does is drink diet coke all day and play cards with Chiron. Can't you just come by to say hi to me or something?"
"Your mother took a rather dim view of our association together."
That was putting it mildly. Her sister Hecate had wanted her son to remain safely at Camp Half-Blood, believing he was too young. Theoria was of the opinion that if her nephew wanted to leave to save his father, he had the right to make the attempt (with proper supervision of course). Hecate had responded with a wordless scream of frustration, and made it clear she didn't want Theoria purposely interfering with Hector's life ever again.
Theoria wondered if her sister had learned about Clifford, the big black hellhound yet.
Fortunately, Hecate's emphatic request that Theoria stay away from Hector was just that, a request. Theoria had already thought up several ways to get around it. One way was for her to go to Camp Half-Blood for totally unrelated reasons and the demigod just happen to be there at the same time. Other loopholes were if she were to visit his mortal sister or his mortal father.
"Eh, I've only seen her once anyways, and that was when she was talking with dad. You're much cooler and actually showed up."
She gave him another pat on the head, then trotted down towards the camp below. Hector followed along behind her as she headed towards the large house between her and the strawberry fields. Theoria ignored the few startled campers they passed on the way.
On the porch of the house was a pudgy man, wearing a spotted Hawaiian shirt and sitting in a rocking chair. He didn't even open his eyes as they approached, but did speak up. "You're interrupting my siesta. What do you want?"
Hector opened his mouth and words immediately began to spill out. "So I was on border patrol with Sherman, and he was all like 'blah blah, border patrol is boring, stop being so happy, blah blah'."
The man before him snorted. "Sounds about right."
"I was like 'I bet I'll find something cool one day while on border patrol', and he said 'no, you won't'. And then we got to Thalia's tree, although I don't think that's a good name for it. Shouldn't we call it Thalia's ex-tree now? The tree that used to be Thalia? The ex-Thalia tree? Anyways, we got to the tree that once had Thalia in it, like a pea in a pod, and we came across Rainbow here. Sherman was all like 'wow, border patrol is the most exciting thing ever, I should have believed you!' and Rainbow was like 'I need to speak with Mr. D'."
The man still didn't open his eyes. "Fine. What does the newbie want? Newbie is what the kids are calling new people, right Hutchins boy?"
An angry expression came across Hector's face. "Don't call her that!"
Fear shot through Theoria, and she took a half-step closer to the boy. Just in case.
The man continued to rock back and forth in the chair. "I'll call her whatever I want to. She's almost as young as Pac-Man, so she's a newbie. Now why is she here?"
"Like I said, she said she wanted to speak to you."
"Well get it over with. You're wasting my highly valuable time."
She bowed low to the ground. "Lord Dionysus, I would like to request an audience with the Oracle."
Dionysus cracked open an eye, and looked at her. A chill crept down her body, and her senses screamed at her. Hades might have been more powerful, but Dionysus could break her in ways she could never heal from.
He studied her for a moment. Theoria fought to keep perfectly still, ignoring her instincts that screamed at her to back away, to flee, to do anything other than stand here before this man.
Dionysus snorted, then closed his eye. "What do I care? Just know that if you break my brother's toy, he'll be very angry."
She passed all sorts of objects throughout the attic. The collected trophies of demigods from the past few centuries were piled up throughout the room. She even passed the Sword of Damocles, tossed next to a pair of fuzzy dice.
One might think that just tossing them here would be quite irresponsible. Many of these items could be quite dangerous, and it's not like the same man who stole Zeus's Master Bolt hadn't worked at this very camp as the consular of the Hermes Cabin.
One would be wrong to think that. These artifacts were protected by the most powerful woman of ancient Greece. The spirit of the Oracle of Delphi.
In the corner of the room, the mummy that housed the Oracle sat in a chair. Light from the window illuminated her tie-dye t-shirt, but her head was shrouded in darkness. Theoria bowed before the Oracle, as one had to always be careful when dealing with prophecies.
"Can you tell me how I can find the pirate Stede Bonnet."
Nothing happened. She waited a few minutes, but it was clear that if the mummy had any answer for her, she wasn't sharing.
Theoria frowned. Glancing left and right, she crept closer to the mummy.
She double checked that she and the Oracle were alone in the attic before whispering. "Can you tell me how to avoid the coming darkness? Is there any way I can change the future?"
Nothing happened. The Oracle's face remained in the shadows.
She snorted. Of course the Oracle wouldn't help her. She turned around to leave and found herself muzzle to knee with a man reclining in a chair with a lyre.
"Sorry about that, there's been some technical difficulties with the Oracle the last couple of decades. Well, difficulties in appearance, at least, I can attest that the prophesying abilities of the Oracle are working just fine."
"Lord Apollo." She said with another bow.
"None of that." He said, waving his arms as if to chase away her words. "Just call me Apollo." He then picked up his lyre and took in a deep breath.
Oh no. He was about to start a haiku. Rather than give him the opportunity to start, she quickly interrupted him. It might have been rude, but if there was anything that Olympus laughed about more than her it was Apollo's terrible haikus.
"Is there anything you can tell me about how to change my future?"
His eyes darkened, and his grip on the lyre grew tight. "The young are foolish, and rarely listen to their elders. If you've caught a glimpse of the future, you are best off not fighting it. The more you strive to stop the future, the more you have a hand in creating it."
What did he know of this? He was Apollo, the slayer of the mighty Python! Someone with his level of power could easily destroy all but the strongest of foes. He didn't have to worry like she did. He didn't have to work with nearly as much uncertainty.
She almost asked him what he could possibly know, but decided not to. He was the god of prophecies after all. But when was the last time that he had been weak when compared to his foes? What would he do if faced with what she was?
"I'll take that under advisement." She said with a bow, then turned to leave. She got the feeling that Apollo didn't believe her, but he didn't move to stop her either.
She exited the attic. She passed by Chiron in the hallway, whose eyes widened comically. She gave him a wave with a wing, but kept trotting. She needed to be elsewhere.
On the outside, Dionysus was seemingly asleep in his chair. Hector joined her as she trotted past him.
"So how'd it go?"
She couldn't find any reason to lie. "Poorly."
"Oh, sorry to hear that. Is there anything I can help with?"
She shook her head. "Not unless you own a boat or a pirate detector."
She took off, heading back to Doris's apartment.
Three hours later, she realized she'd made a wrong turn at Albuquerque.
I wanted to have Apollo hit on Rainbow (as he hits on basically anything female… and most things male), but I couldn't come up with a shitty haiku for him to say. So I had her stop him in his tracks.