"Chiron," one of the campers asked, finally breaking the silence, "When she said family diminished does it mean their mortal family or could it mean campers here? I mean, we're all related, especially the half-siblings." Chiron looked grave and did not answer.
"Do we have any volunteers for the quest?" He continued. There was silence continued in the camp. No one wanted their family diminished.
"Maggie from Poseidon." Chiron called out of the crowd. She smiled and came forward confidently. Her other siblings exchanged murderous glances and rolled eyes. "Monica from Hades," Chiron continued. The Hades siblings looked a little nervous, probably because they didn't want their family to be diminished, even if it meant going to live with Dad.
"Emily from Zeus." Emily and Monica hugged. They were best friends. Maggie didn't look so thrilled anymore. Chiron thought. "Audrey from Iris." Audrey squealed with excitement. She had always thought a daughter of a minor goddess like her would never get a quest. "And Daphne." Talk stopped. Daphne? Like, me?
"Do you all except the quest?" Chiron asked.
"Yes," four replied.
"Umm, No!" was my answer. Chiron turned to face me.
"You wish to give another your place?"
"Well, sure. I mean, I'm the Oracle, and just a mortal, and I don't want to be the reason anyone's family is diminished, or whatever I said. And, I could be killed and --"
"I will not accept your resignation. I have a feeling they will be needing you."
"Needing me?" I repeated. "Why would four powerful demigods NEED me?"
"Who are the three heading east? Who will go west?" Chiron asked, ignoring my protests. Monica and Emily stuck together, a sure sign of a "package deal."
"Chiron, if I'm going, I should go west. I know the western coast like the back of my hand." Some of the campers looked at the back of their hands, just like when you announce to a crowd that they can't lick their elbow.
"Oh my gods, like that's a funny freckle. Look!" said Ellery, one of the Aphrodite girls.
"That is so a mole." Another said.
"It's a freckle for sure!"
"Eww, a wart on Ellery's hand!" A boy said.
"It is NOT a wart! It's a freckle!" cried Ellery indignantly.
"Silence!" Chiron called. "Emily and Maggie will go west. Monica, Audrey, and Daphne, you will go east."
No one looked happy about this arrangement, especially Maggie and Emily.
"Emily and I are taking pegasus," Maggie announced. Emily looked bewildered at this announcement.
"Oooh, the god of horses and the god of the sky. Perf!" Ellery said.
I had seen the pretty horses at the stables. I wanted to take one too. "I'd feel safe on a pegasus," I mused.
"You can't take a pegasus across the ocean, stupid," one of the Ares campers said.
Maggie suddenly had an idea. "Chiron, don't you think I should go east? The ocean is like, my thing. I could totally trade places with Daphne. She said she knows the west coast really well. She was born in Sacramento."
"Thank-you Maggie," Chiron said. "But I think this arrangement will work the best. You will be ready in the morning, I take it?" Wait, did he say leave in the MORNING?! We didn't even know where we were going!
That night one of the Athena kids helped me back. I backed a book of greek Mythology, (I was still learning, okay?) My Shakespeare collection, (I'm an Elizabethan Era Guru. Did I mention I like to read?) some bug repellent, (the Athena girl insisted). Some armor and a sword, (Did they really think I'd be fighting?) and some gold drachamas like Chiron has suggested. Oh yeah, I also brought extra clothes, my toothbrush, and my hair straightener. What? Don't look at me like that!
Meanwhile, Maggie and Emily were settling their pegasu. Maggie was talking to them, (I guess she can do that), and Emily was combing them out and feeding them from the palm of her hand. Audrey and Monica were packing too. As I walked back from the stables I passed the Hades Cabin and her loud voice, "I know! I wanted to be paired with Emily, right? I don't think Chiron likes me very much. And I'm stuck with Daphne and whoever that other girl is. I just want to go alone. I can shadow-travel, and we're just going to be, I don't know what we're going to do actually. Swim?" she snorted. "yeah right."