III

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[KYRA]

EVERYTHING BROKE INTO CHAOS, with dozens of people asking questions until Annabeth raised her arms

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EVERYTHING BROKE INTO CHAOS, with dozens of people asking questions until Annabeth raised her arms. "Hold it!" she said. "How can he be the son of Zeus? The Big Three ... their pact not to have mortal kids ... how could we not have known about him sooner?"

Chiron didn't answer, but Kyra had the feeling he knew. And the truth was not good.

"The important thing," Rachel changed the subject, "is that Jason's here now. He has a quest to fulfill, which means he will need his own prophecy."

The redhead closed her eyes and swooned. Kayla and Cecil rushed forward and caught her while Alice ran to the side of the amphitheater and grabbed a bronze three-legged stool. They eased Rachel onto the stool in front of the ruined hearth. Without the fire, the night was dark, but the green mist started swirling around Rachel's feet. When she opened her eyes, they were glowing. Emerald smoke issued from her mouth. The voice that came out was raspy and ancient—the sound a snake would make if it could talk;

"Child of lightning, beware the earth, The giants' revenge the eight shall birth, The forge and dove shall break the cage, And death unleash through Hera's rage shall be contained by the child of healing and plague."

On the last word, Rachel collapsed, but her helpers were waiting to catch her. They carried her away from the hearth and laid her in the corner to rest.

"Is that normal?" Piper asked and everyone turned towards her, "I mean... does she spew green smoke a lot?"

"Gods, you're dense!" Drew sneered. "She just issued a prophecy—Jason's prophecy to save Hera! Why don't you just—"

"Drew," Annabeth snapped, shutting the Aphrodite girl up, "Piper asked a fair question. Something about that prophecy definitely isn't normal. If breaking Hera's cage unleashes her rage and causes a bunch of death ... why would we free her? It might be a trap, or—or maybe Hera will turn on her rescuers. She's never been kind to heroes."

Jason rose. "I don't have much choice. Hera took my memory. I need it back. Besides, we can't just not help the queen of the heavens if she's in trouble."

Nyssa stood once again, "Maybe. But you should listen to Annabeth. Hera can be vengeful. She threw her own son—our dad—down a mountain just because he was ugly."

"Real ugly," snickered Valentina.

"Shut up!" Nyssa growled at the girl. "Anyway, we've also got to think —why beware the earth? And what's the giants' revenge? What are we dealing with here that's powerful enough to kidnap the queen of the heavens?"

No one answered, but Kyra noticed Annabeth and Chiron having a silent exchange. Annabeth took a deep breath. "It's Jason's quest," she announced, "so it's Jason's choice. Obviously, he's the child of lightning. According to tradition, he may choose any two companions."

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