Mrs O’Leary howled. I patted her head, trying to comfort her as best I could. The earth rumbled – an earthquake that could probably be felt in every major city across the country – as the ancient Labyrinth collapsed. Somewhere, I hoped, the remains of the Titans’ strike force had been buried.
I looked around at the carnage in the clearing, and the weary faces of my friends.
‘Come on,’ I told them. ‘We have work to do.’
19 The Council Gets Cloven
There were too many goodbyes.
That night was the first time I actually saw camp burial shrouds used on bodies, and it was not something I wanted to see again.
Among the dead, Lee Fletcher from the Apollo cabin had been downed by a giant’s club. He was wrapped in a golden shroud without any decoration. The son of Dionysus who’d gone down fighting an enemy half-blood was wrapped in a deep purple shroud, embroidered with grapevines. His name was Castor. I was ashamed that I’d seen him around camp for three years and never even bothered to learn his name. He’d been seventeen years old. His twin brother, Pollux, tried to say a few words, but he choked up and just took the torch. He lit the funeral pyre in the middle of the amphitheatre, and within seconds the row of shrouds was engulfed in fire, sending smoke and sparks up to the stars.
We spent the next day treating the wounded, which was almost everybody. The satyrs and dryads worked to repair the damage to the woods.
At noon, the Council of Cloven Elders held an emergency meeting in their sacred grove. The three senior satyrs were there, along with Chiron, who was in wheelchair form. His broken horse leg was still mending, so he would be confined to the chair for a few months, until the leg was strong enough to take his weight. The grove was filled with satyrs and dryads and naiads up from the water – hundreds of them, anxious to hear what would happen. Juniper, Annabeth and I stood by Grover’s side.
Silenus wanted to exile Grover immediately, but Chiron persuaded him to at least hear evidence first, so we told everyone what had happened in the crystal cavern, and what Pan had said. Then several eyewitnesses from the battle described the weird sound Grover had made, which drove the Titans’ army back underground.
‘It was panic,’ insisted Juniper. ‘Grover summoned the power of the wild god.’
‘Panic?’ I asked.
‘Percy,’ Chiron explained, ‘during the first war of the gods and the Titans, Lord Pan let forth a horrible cry that scared away the enemy armies. It is – it was his greatest power – a massive wave of fear that helped the gods win the day. The word panic is named after Pan, you see. And Grover used that power, calling it forth from within himself.’
‘Preposterous!’ Silenus bellowed. ‘Sacrilege! Perhaps the wild god favoured us with a blessing. Or perhaps Grover’s music was so awful it scared the enemy away!’
‘That wasn’t it, sir,’ Grover said. He sounded a lot calmer than I would have if I’d been insulted like that. ‘He let his spirit pass into all of us. We must act. Each of us must work to renew the wild, to protect what’s left of it. We must spread the word. Pan is dead. There is no one but us.’
‘After two thousand years of searching, this is what you would have us believe?’ Silenus cried. ‘Never! We must continue the search. Exile the traitor!’
Some of the older satyrs muttered assent.
‘A vote!’ Silenus demanded. ‘Who would believe this ridiculous young satyr, anyway?’
‘I would,’ said a familiar voice.
Everyone turned. Striding into the grove was Dionysus. He wore a formal black suit, so I almost didn’t recognize him, a deep purple tie and violet dress shirt, his curly dark hair carefully combed. His eyes were bloodshot as usual, and his pudgy face was flushed, but he looked like he was suffering from grief more than wine-withdrawal.
The satyrs all stood respectfully and bowed as he approached. Dionysus waved his hand, and a new chair grew out of the ground next to Silenus’s – a throne made of grapevines.
Dionysus sat down and crossed his legs. He snapped his fingers and a satyr hurried forward with a plate of cheese and crackers and a Diet Coke.
The god of wine looked around at the assembled crowd. ‘Miss me?’
The satyrs fell over themselves nodding and bowing. ‘Oh, yes, very much, sire!’
‘Well, I did not miss this place!’ Dionysus snapped. ‘I bear bad news, my friends. Evil news. The minor gods are changing sides. Morpheus has gone over to the enemy. Hecate, Janus and Nemesis, as well. Zeus knows how many more.’
Thunder rumbled in the distance.
‘Strike that,’ Dionysus said. ‘Even Zeus doesn’t know. Now, I want to hear Grover’s story. Again, from the top.’