“There’s nothing there but rubble and dust,” said James.
“I know, but—”
Henry squeezed my hand. “I will take you.”
Before I could protest, the world around the three of us dissolved, and we landed in the middle of the ancient ruins. Above us, the sky was a symphony of color, a stark contrast to the devastation below.
“Are you okay?” I said, watching Henry. He was pale, and a thin sheen of sweat covered his forehead, but he nodded.
“I will live. Let us search for this clue.”
The tone of his voice made it obvious he was with James on this one—that there was no way Cronus would’ve left any sort of sign for us, but we had to try. I walked around the crumbling structure, searching for anything that looked out of place. James and I had visited the Parthenon during my first summer away from Henry, but I’d barely glanced at the details then, more enamored with the view. Now I wished I’d paid more attention.
What was I looking for? The pillars looked the same. Despite the destruction below, the council had been right: Cronus had left these ruins alone. Why?
Maybe it really was just a sign. An offer of peace if they stepped aside. But Walter had been adamant that Cronus would slaughter them all regardless of their efforts against him. Was he wrong? Or was Cronus trying to lure the others into inaction?
I kicked a bit of dirt. No way of knowing without asking, and the likelihood of Cronus telling me the whole truth was minuscule. Except—
I squinted. The floor hadn’t been made of dirt the last time I’d been here. Kneeling down, I brushed it away, revealing the worn stone underneath. My heart sank. Just debris from the tidal wave then. But that didn’t make any sense. How would that have gotten up here?
“Is there a way to clear all of this dirt out of here?” I said, and a few feet away, James waved his hand. A gentle wind swirled across the ground, revealing the floor below—along with a series of drawings etched into the stone. There was no way a human had done them. They were too intricate, too sophisticated, too impossible. The images seemed to warp the very stone, as if those things really existed within it.
“What the hell is that?” said James. He and Henry stepped back, and I rose. These hadn’t been here last time either.
On the ground, it was impossible to see them all as they stretched across the Parthenon. Instead I focused on the one nearest my feet: a drawing of fifteen thrones, all consumed by fire. Even though the lines didn’t move, it was easy to see the flicker of the flames.
My pulse raced, and I hurried over to another. A massive figure hovering over a crack in the earth as a dozen tiny figures fought it.
Cronus, escaping from the Underworld.
“It’s his version of history,” I said, stunned. “Not just history, but his plans for the future, too.”
Slowly Henry, James and I walked around the ruins, examining each picture. Some were of a time long before I was born—some before the birth of humanity—and Henry and James quietly explained them to me. But others I recognized. The drawing of a gate in Tartarus made me shiver, and I turned away. Each bar had a bloody handprint on it.
“Kate?” said Henry. “Come see this.”
I moved to his side and slid my hand in the crook of his elbow. “What’s—”
I stopped short. Below my feet, an etching of Cronus stared up at me, and he wasn’t alone. Standing beside him, holding on to him as I held on to Henry now, was a girl wearing a crown.
Not just a girl.
That girl was me.
Silence. I held my breath, waiting for Henry to say something, but he didn’t. He didn’t blink, he didn’t move, he didn’t look away from the image. He just stared, and the same black waves of power that appeared in the airport began to gather.
Terrific. There went any chance I had of stopping Henry from riding his cloud of doom back to Cronus’s island.
James sauntered over and let out a low whistle. “Nice. Cronus really captured your essence. And look at that tiara.”
I elbowed him. “It isn’t me.”
“Who else would it be? I mean, look at her—the nose is a bit off, but other than that, it’s perfect.”
“It isn’t me,” I said stubbornly, giving him a look. We both knew it was a lie, but Henry couldn’t find out about the deal I’d made. “Calliope’s been shifting her appearance, and she looked exactly like an older blond version of me. You can’t tell what color hair this girl has, but that is definitely her nose.”
James held my stare for a long moment, and finally he refocused on the picture. “You’re right,” he said. “It must be Calliope.”
I wanted to hug him for lying and smack him for doing it so badly. Instead I settled on a smile and wrapped my arm around Henry’s waist. “See? It’s Cronus and Calliope. Nothing else makes sense anyway.”
Henry exhaled, as if he’d been holding his breath this entire time. Maybe he had. “Of course,” he murmured. “My mistake.”
Henry wasn’t stupid, but I hadn’t lied—Calliope did look a lot more like me and my mother these days. With luck, that would cover my lies long enough for Henry to recover. And by then, maybe his involvement would be enough for the council to take Calliope down and recapture Cronus, after all.
I couldn’t stomach staring at that image any longer, and I drew Henry and James over to the edge of the Parthenon. Together we gazed down at the devastation once more, but this time Henry’s grip felt like steel. He wasn’t letting go for anything, and neither was I.