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"YES! I WAS TOLD THERE WAS AN ORACLE in Omaha." The king shrugged. "Apparently I was mistaken. But this is a rather nice house, isn't it? Lit—it's short for Lityerses, by the way—horrible name, but his mother insisted—Lit has plenty of wide-open space to practice his swordplay. He has quite a reputation for that. They called him the Reaper of Men back in the old days."

"Oh." Piper tried to sound enthusiastic. "How nice."

Lit's smile was more of a cruel sneer. Jason was now one hundred percent sure he didn't like this guy, and he was starting to regret sending Hedge outside.

"So," Jason changed the subject, "All this gold—"

The king's eyes lit up. "Are you here for gold, my boy? Please, take a brochure!"

Jason looked at the brochures on the coffee table. The title said GOLD: Invest for Eternity. "Um, you sell gold?"

"No, no," the king corrected, "I make it. In uncertain times like these, gold is the wisest investment, don't you think? Governments fall. The dead rise. Giants attack Olympus. But gold retains its value!"

Leo frowned. "I've seen that commercial."

"Oh, don't be fooled by cheap imitators!" the King said, "I assure you, I can beat any price for a serious investor. I can make a wide assortment of gold items at a moment's notice."

"But ..." Piper shook her head in confusion. "Your Majesty, you gave up the golden touch, didn't you?"

The king looked astonished. "Gave it up?"

"Yes," Piper continued, "You got it from some God—"

"Dionysus," the King agreed. "I'd rescued one of his satyrs, and in return, the god granted me one wish. I chose the golden touch."

"But you accidentally turned your own daughter to gold," Piper remembered. "And you realized how greedy you'd been. So you repented."

"Repented!" King Midas looked at Lit incredulously. "You see, son? You're away for a few thousand years, and the story gets twisted all around. My dear girl, did those stories ever say I'd lost my magic touch?"

"Well, I guess not. They just said you learned how to reverse it with running water, and you brought your daughter back to life."

"That's all true. Sometimes I still have to reverse my touch. There's no running water in the house because I don't want accidents"—he gestured to his statues—"but we chose to live next to a river just in case. Occasionally, I'll forget and pat Lit on the back—"

Lit retreated a few steps. "I hate that."

"I told you I was sorry, son. At any rate, gold is wonderful. Why would I give it up?"

GOLDEN DAYS |JASON GRACE| {1}Where stories live. Discover now