Chapter no 23 – Ganymede Explodes All the Beverages

The Chalice of the Gods

School waits for no one.

That’s a famous quote from somebody, I think. And it’s true. Friday

morning came whether I wanted it to or not. I was still sore from the fight with Elisson. My brain felt like it had been turned inside out from my mom’s news. I hadn’t studied enough for my science quiz, by which I mean I hadn’t studied at all.

On top of all that, I got a PA announcement in third period telling me to report to the guidance office, and I was not in the mood to be flushed.

“Percy!” said Eudora as I walked in. She sounded suspiciously glad to see me, or maybe she was just surprised that I was still alive. “Please, sit!”

I had a plan. If she tried to flush me again, I would command the water to lift me toward the ceiling. Then I would steal her jar of Jolly Ranchers and run back to class, laughing maniacally.

“So!” She laced her fingers and beamed at me. “How is everything?” “Everything is a lot,” I said.

I told her about my mom having a baby. Eudora seemed delighted, until I explained it was a human baby, not one with Poseidon.

“Oh, I see.” She shrugged. “Well, that’s nice, too, I suppose. And your classwork?”

“Um . . .”

“And the recommendation letters?”

I brought her up to speed. I told her we would be going Monday morning to search Washington Square Park, and I emphasized that there was no need to flush me there.

“Hmm . . .” She looked at Sicky Frog as if it might want to weigh in. “And what exactly are you searching for in Washington Square Park?”

“Ganymede’s chalice,” I said. “We think it was taken by someone named Gary.”

She paled, like sand when you step on it and all the water is pushed away. “You know, it’s not too late to consider community colleges. Did I mention Ho-Ho-Kus? I have a brochure here somewhere.”

“Hold up—”

“You could get an associate’s degree in mechanical engineering—” “Eudora.”

“Or accounting—”

“New Rome University,” I said. “Remember? That’s the goal. Why are you suddenly steering me away? And please don’t tell me Gary runs a yoga class.”

She shifted in her seat. “No, no. And it’s not so much steering you away.

It’s more . . . wanting you to stay alive.”

I glared at her, doing my best to channel my dad’s Unhappy Sea God look. “I’m going to need more than that. You’re my guidance counselor, so guide me. Who is Gary?”

“You know—I just remembered—I have a thing. ”

A green whirlpool surged up around her. The curtain of water collapsed, splattering kelp across the floor, and Eudora was gone. I glanced at Sicky Frog and wondered how bad this Gary had to be to get a Nereid to flush herself out of a conversation. Sicky Frog had no answers. I grabbed a big handful of Jolly Ranchers and headed back to class.

Lunch was no better. I sat down with my bag lunch—a leftover lasagna sandwich with a leftover cupcake—and I was just starting to feel like maybe I could relax for a few minutes when I heard the ominous tinkling sound of someone filling my thermos.

“Hi, Ganymede,” I said.

He sat down across from me, his glass pitcher sweaty with condensation. The liquid inside was orange today—maybe Olympian beverage number six? He was dressed in the same chiton and sandals as before, but he looked more worn with worry. . . . Not older, exactly. Gods don’t get older. But his eyes were ichor-shot with golden veins. His face had an unhealthy sheen, as if he were about to burst into his fiery divine form and vaporize the entire student body into piles of powdered drink mix.

“Please tell me you have news,” he said.

It’s hard to tell a story and eat a lasagna sandwich at the same time. So I prioritized the sandwich. I nodded and ate, watching Ganymede get more and more agitated. I wasn’t sure how he’d take the news. If he vaporized me, I wanted to have eaten a good last meal.

“So,” I said, moving on to the cupcake, “we think the guy who stole your chalice is hanging out in Washington Square Park.”

I told him what we knew, and how we planned to find the thief. “Nectar,” Ganymede murmured. “That’s good. That could work.”

“Any idea who this Gary could be?” I asked. “You have any enemies by that name?”

He shook his head. “I have so many enemies. Some of them could be named Gary. I don’t know.”

He sounded so miserable I wanted to assure him everything would be okay, but I wasn’t sure I should promise that. If I were a god, and somebody told me my precious chalice was in Washington Square Park, I would zap down there in a cloud of righteous fury and start busting heads and turning out people’s pockets.

But as I’d been told many times before, gods simply didn’t do that sort of thing. It was against the Great Cosmic Rules in Godittude or something. Anybody could steal your divine stuff. Only a hero could get it back for you. And by hero, I mean me, the schmuck who needed recommendation letters.

Also, if Ganymede started tearing up Greenwich Village, I suppose the other gods might have noticed. Then his shame would be revealed to everyone. The video would probably go viral on GodTok or whatever they were using on Mount Olympus these days.

“It would really help,” I said, “if I could figure out why this guy would steal your chalice.”

“Why would anyone?” Ganymede said. “To become immortal? To embarrass me? To become immortal so he can embarrass me forever? I don’t know.”

He leaned across the table and grabbed my wrist, his gold rings digging into my skin. “You must retrieve the goblet soon, Percy Jackson. We’re running out of time. My drink-pouring senses are tingling. Zeus could call for a banquet at any minute!”

“Oh, yeah . . . about that.” I told him what Iris had said about the Epulum Minerva feast a week from Sunday.

Ganymede put his head down. All around us, geysers of juice, soda, and water erupted from people’s cups. Cries of “Whoa!” ricocheted around the room as my classmates leaped out of their seats to escape their suddenly possessed beverages.

Ganymede sighed. “I should probably go refill those. But listen to me, Percy Jackson. Zeus is unpredictable. He may not even wait until the Epulum Minerva feast! As soon as he gets it into his head to toast one of his guests, any time of day or night, I must be there with my chalice in hand. Otherwise . . .”

“You’re toast,” I guessed.

“Very funny,” the god grumbled. “You haven’t lived for millennia dreading the words a toast!Some of my worst nightmares . . .” His voice trailed off. “Never mind. Just don’t fail me.”

Then he got up to distribute Olympian beverage number six to all the thirsty and drink-splattered students.

That afternoon, I did something unusual. I visited the library.

Yeah, I know. I could almost hear that turntable needle scratch in your head as you tried to process that idea. If I told you I fell into Tartarus again, or got swallowed by a giant, or had to go bungee jumping in a volcano, you’d be like, Yeah, that makes sense. But Percy visiting a library? That’s way off brand.

Truth is, I have nothing against libraries. They’re nice quiet places to hang out in, and all the librarians I’ve met are cool people. It’s just that libraries are full of books. Being dyslexic, I tend to think of book as a synonym for migraine headache. Sometimes, though, books are the only place you can find information, so you have to risk the headache. This concludes my TED Talk on the importance of reading.

Anyway, I needed a place to think. I wanted to figure out what I was doing Monday morning against Gary the Goblet Ganker. I tried the library computer first, but as usual, the Internet didn’t help. I guess all the weird stuff I face is so old and bizarre nobody has bothered to make a fan wiki for Stuff that Kills Demigods. If you do find monster info online, it’s usually about how to beat it in some video game. In real life, holding while pressing left doesn’t do much.

So I hit the books.

I found five different collections of Greek mythology. I looked through all of them. I even remembered there was a thing called an index in the back.

I checked those for gods or monsters whose names might sound even a little bit like Gary.

Geryon again. Gray Sisters. I remembered learning about some Norse wolf named Garm, but I wasn’t the Mighty Thor, so I didn’t want to cross that particular Rainbow Bridge. I had enough to worry about on the Greek side.

Finally, I set the mythology books aside. I pulled out my textbooks and tried to study.

My foot wouldn’t stop shaking. My head wouldn’t stop buzzing. I felt like I was watching myself trying to study rather than actually studying.

I cared about graduating. I cared about going to New Rome with Annabeth. But I didn’t care about science or American literature or persuasive essays. And although I knew that those things were connected to my overall goal, I had trouble making myself believe it.

I couldn’t focus on my reading.

I wrote one sentence of an essay: In this persuasive essay I will persuade you . . .

Okay. Half a sentence.

I stared at my science textbook.

I thought about Gray Sisters and gray wolves and scary Garys in Washington Square Park. But the image that kept floating in my mind was Ganymede’s face when he’d talked about his nightmares. He looked like a classmate of mine in freshman year who’d gotten mugged on his way to school: eyes like empty windows, a face that had forgotten how to make expressions.

Elisson had looked like that after I made his river explode. I still felt terrible about it. Ganymede had a bigger, eternal tormentor in his life: Zeus, a guy I tried very hard never to be like. I didn’t know the full story between the two gods. As usual, the myths basically only told Zeus’s side of the story. But it was obvious that Ganymede wasn’t doing so great in the mental-health department.

I tried to imagine having my life shattered like Ganymede’s—kidnapped as a teenager and hauled up to Mount Olympus because Zeus thought I made nice eye candy, then being stuck in that situation forever. Never aging. Never growing. Never getting sick. Never healing.

I realized why I was trying so hard to find answers. I wasn’t seeing this quest as just an inconvenience anymore. I wanted to help Ganymede. If I

could’ve taken the guy to Hebe Jeebies and done ancient Greek songs on the karaoke machine with him until he was able to reverse his life and become mortal again, I would’ve done it.

Since I couldn’t, I had to get his chalice back.

At last, I gave up on the library work. I felt like a failure as I headed home, worried that Monday morning I would be totally unprepared for whatever we faced. Maybe I’d at least catch enough z’s the night before.

Turned out, I couldn’t even do that.

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