They all had excuses for not being there, and after Ella had lost her arm the day Cronus escaped from the Underworld, I didn’t blame her for not wanting to be part of it either. But what about Theo? What about Xander? The council without Calliope had argued and been at odds, but no one had flat-out abandoned their position.
Walter stood and cleared his throat. He looked older somehow, despite his agelessness. His shoulders slumped underneath the burden of everything that had happened, and beside him, Phillip, usually so gruff and impermeable, didn’t look much better. “Brother and sisters, sons and daughters...”
Daughters? Only Irene was his daughter. Sofia and my mother were his sisters. Unless he meant me, too.
No. It was a slip of the tongue, nothing more. Because if he did mean me, too, then why hadn’t anyone ever—
“It saddens me greatly to report that Athens has fallen.”
All my questions about my father flew out of my head. Athens had fallen? Irene sobbed, and Sofia hugged her, rubbing her back and murmuring words of comfort I couldn’t make out. Bewildered, I looked from them to Walter. How could Athens fall? This wasn’t ancient Greece—what did that even mean?
“How?” said my mother. “Why? We have no army there. No soldiers to threaten Cronus’s hold over the Aegean Sea. Why would he attack unprovoked?”
It wasn’t unprovoked, though. Cronus had promised no one would die as long as I stayed by his side, and now I’d abandoned him. My hands began to tremble, and I shoved them between my knees. Across the circle, Walter’s eyes met mine. He knew.
“We cannot pretend to understand how Cronus thinks,” he said, and a rush of guilt-laced gratitude overwhelmed me. He wasn’t going to tell.
“As for how he attacked,” said Phillip, rising to stand beside his brother, “he used my domain. It was a calculated attack with Athens pinpointed specifically—no other area was touched. However, the damage he did...”
Irene cried even harder, and Phillip raised his voice so we could all hear him.
“The tidal wave washed nearly everything away.”
My body went cold, and the golden room spun around me until I couldn’t stand it any longer. “Did—did anyone die?” I whispered.
Walter said nothing for a moment, and I thought I saw a spark of compassion pass over his face. “Yes. Nearly a million people lost their lives.”
Something twisted inside me, sharp and unforgiving, and if I could have thrown up, I would have. Nearly a million people were dead because of me, because I’d lied to Cronus. I’d known there would be consequences, yet I’d done it anyway.
No, I hadn’t known it would be anything like this. This wasn’t war between two equal opponents; this was a massacre of people who didn’t even know that gods and Titans were real.
“A purely symbolic attack then,” said Dylan, his brow furrowed. A three-dimensional map of Greece appeared in the center of the circle, complete with mountains, islands and seas, all to scale and colored exactly like they would be if this were an aerial shot. For all I knew, it was.
The map zoomed toward Athens until the damage was visible. During my first summer away from Henry, James and I had visited Greece, and we’d spent weeks in the city. My memories of paved streets, kind people and the modern nestled alongside the ancient might as well have been a dream.