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Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. For more Free eBooks and educational material visit www. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. ISBN Visit www. She'd paced the deck of their flying warship, the Argo II, checking and double-checking the ballistae to make sure they were locked down.

She wasn't sure the Romans had a sense of humor. Too late to turn back now. The clouds broke around their hull, revealing the gold-and-green carpet of the Oakland Hills below them. Annabeth gripped one of the bronze shields that lined the starboard rail.

Her three crewmates took their places. On the stern quarterdeck, Leo rushed around like a madman, checking his gauges and wrestling levers. Most helmsmen would've been satisfied with a pilot's wheel or a tiller. Leo had also installed a keyboard, monitor, aviation controls from a Learjet, a dubstep soundboard, and motion-control sensors from a Nintendo Wii.

He could turn the ship by pulling on the throttle, fire weapons by sampling an album, or raise sails by shaking his Wii controllers really fast. Piper paced back and forth between the mainmast and the ballistae, practicing her lines.

For a child of Aphrodite, Piper tried hard to play down her beauty. Today she was dressed in tattered jeans, worn-out sneakers, and a white tank top with pink Hello Kitty designs. Maybe as a joke, though Annabeth could never be sure with Piper. Her choppy brown hair was braided down the right side with an eagle's feather. Then there was Piper's boyfriend — Jason. He stood at the bow on the raised crossbow platform, where the Romans could easily spot him.

His knuckles were white on the hilt of his golden sword. Otherwise he looked calm for a guy who was making himself a target. Over his jeans and orange Camp Half-Blood T-shirt, he'd donned a toga and a purple cloak — symbols of his old rank as praetor. With his wind-ruffled blond hair and his icy blue eyes, he looked ruggedly handsome and in control — just like a son of Jupiter should.

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He'd grown up at Camp Jupiter, so hopefully his familiar face would make the Romans hesitant to blow the ship out of the sky. Annabeth tried to hide it, but she still didn't completely trust the guy. He acted too perfect — always following the rules, always doing the honorable thing. He even looked too perfect. In the back of her mind, she had a nagging thought: What if this is a trick and he betrays us? What if we sail into Camp Jupiter, and he says, Hey, Romans! Check out these prisoners and this cool ship I brought you!

Annabeth doubted that would happen. Still, she couldn't look at him without getting a bitter taste in her mouth. He'd been part of Hera's forced "exchange program" to introduce the two camps. Her Most Annoying Majesty, Queen of Olympus, had convinced the other gods that their two sets of children — Roman and Greek — had to combine forces to save the world from the evil goddess Gaea, who was awakening from the earth, and her horrible children the giants.

Without warning, Hera had plucked up Percy Jackson, Annabeth's boyfriend, wiped his memory, and sent him to the Roman camp. In exchange, the Greeks had gotten Jason. None of that was Jason's fault; but every time Annabeth saw him, she remembered how much she missed Percy. Oh, gods. Panic welled up inside her. She forced it down. She couldn't afford to get overwhelmed. I'm a child of Athena, she told herself. I have to stick to my plan and not get distracted.

She felt it again — that familiar shiver, as if a psychotic snowman had crept up behind her and was breathing down her neck. She turned, but no one was there. Must be her nerves. Even in a world of gods and monsters, Annabeth couldn't believe a new warship would be haunted.

The Celestial bronze shields along the rail were enchanted to ward off monsters, and their onboard satyr, Coach Hedge, would have sniffed out any intruders. Annabeth wished she could pray to her mother for guidance, but that wasn't possible now. Not after last month, when she'd had that horrible encounter with her mom and gotten the worst present of her life The cold pressed closer.

She thought she heard a faint voice in the wind, laughing. Every muscle in her body tensed. Something was about to go terribly wrong. She almost ordered Leo to reverse course. Then, in the valley below, horns sounded. The Romans had spotted them. Annabeth thought she knew what to expect. Jason had described Camp Jupiter to her in great detail. Still, she had trouble believing her eyes.

A small river snaked around one side and curled toward the center like a capital letter G, emptying into a sparkling blue lake. Directly below the ship, nestled at the edge of the lake, the city of New Rome gleamed in the sunlight.

She recognized landmarks Jason had told her about — the hippodrome, the coliseum, the temples and parks, the neighborhood of Seven Hills with its winding streets, colorful villas, and flowering gardens. She saw evidence of the Romans' recent battle with an army of monsters.

The dome was cracked open on a building she guessed was the Senate House. The forum's broad plaza was pitted with craters. Some fountains and statues were in ruins.

More Romans emerged from the shops and cafes, gawking and pointing as the ship descended. About half a mile to the west, where the horns were blowing, a Roman fort stood on a hill.

It looked just like the illustrations Annabeth had seen in military history books — with a defensive trench lined with spikes, high walls, and watchtowers armed with scorpion ballistae. Inside, perfect rows of white barracks lined the main road — the Via Principalis. A column of demigods emerged from the gates, their armor and spears glinting as they hurried toward the city.

In the midst of their ranks was an actual war elephant. Annabeth wanted to land the Argo II before those troops arrived, but the ground was still several hundred feet below. She scanned the crowd, hoping to catch a glimpse of Percy. Then something behind her went BOOM! The explosion almost knocked her overboard. She whirled and found herself eye to eye with an angry statue. Apparently he had exploded into existence, right there on the deck. Sulfurous yellow smoke rolled off his shoulders.

Cinders popped around his curly hair. From the waist down, he was nothing but a square marble pedestal. From the waist up, he was a muscular human figure in a carved toga. Jason Grace. If we could — " "Ha! And put down that dagger before I slap it out of your hands! But how would you slap it? You don't have any arms. Piper yelped and dropped the dagger, which was now smoking and sparking. I know you didn't do that. Jason told me you protect the city of New Rome, right? I'm Annabeth Chase, daughter of — " "Oh, I know who you are!

You Greeks have no sense of decency. We Romans know the proper place for that goddess. This statue wasn't making it easy to be diplomatic. And what's so scandalous about — " "Right! We'd love permission to land so we can — " "Impossible! Leave my city immediately! I am slapping your face for asking such a stupid question, you ridiculous boy! Do you feel that? You got any gears in there that need loosening? I could take a look.

Another small explosion made Leo drop his screwdriver. The crowd in the forum was over a hundred strong now. Annabeth scanned the faces and She saw him. He was walking toward the ship with his arms around two other kids like they were best buddies — a stout boy with a black buzz cut, and a girl wearing a Roman cavalry helmet.

Percy looked so at ease, so happy. He wore a purple cape just like Jason's — the mark of a praetor. Annabeth's heart did a gymnastics routine.

Keep us right where we are. All ninety oars froze in place. The ship stopped sinking. That way, the ship won't be on Roman soil. Not technically. Annabeth wondered if he was scratching his chin with imaginary hands. That cold feeling was still there. It floated just behind her, and now that Terminus was no longer shouting and causing explosions, she thought she could hear the presence laughing, as if it was delighted by the bad choices she was making.

But Percy was down there. She had to reach him.

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We can talk in peace. Terminus will make sure each side obeys the rules. For now. You may climb down your ladder to New Rome, daughter of Athena. Please try not to destroy my town. Some looked tense, some nervous. Some were bandaged from their recent battle with the giants, but no one was armed. No one attacked. Entire families had gathered to see the newcomers.

Annabeth saw couples with babies, toddlers clinging to their parents' legs, even some elderly folks in a combination of Roman robes and modern clothes. Were all of them demigods? Annabeth suspected so, though she'd never seen a place like this.

At Camp Half-Blood, most demigods were teens. If they survived long enough to graduate from high school, they either stayed on as counselors or left to start lives as best they could in the mortal world.

Here, it was an entire multigenerational community. They looked to be in good spirits. Tyson waved and grinned. He was wearing an SPQR banner like a giant bib. Some part of Annabeth's mind registered how beautiful the city was — the smells from the bakeries, the gurgling fountains, the flowers blooming in the gardens. And the architecture In front of her, the demigods made way for a girl in full Roman armor and a purple cape. Dark hair tumbled across her shoulders. Her eyes were as black as obsidian.

Jason had described her well. Even without that, Annabeth would have singled her out as the leader. Medals decorated her armor. She carried herself with such confidence the other demigods backed away and averted their gaze. Annabeth recognized something else in her face, too — in the hard set of her mouth and the deliberate way she raised her chin like she was ready to accept any challenge.

Reyna was forcing a look of courage, while holding back a mixture of hopefulness and worry and fear that she couldn't show in public.

Annabeth knew that expression. She saw it every time she looked in a mirror. The two girls considered each other. Annabeth's friends fanned out on either side. The Romans murmured Jason's name, staring at him in awe. Then someone else appeared from the crowd, and Annabeth's vision tunneled. Percy smiled at her — that sarcastic, troublemaker smile that had annoyed her for years but eventually had become endearing. His sea-green eyes were as gorgeous as she remembered.

His dark hair was swept to one side, like he'd just come from a walk on the beach. He looked even better than he had six months ago — tanner and taller, leaner and more muscular.

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Annabeth was too stunned to move. She felt that if she got any closer to him, all the molecules in her body might combust. She'd secretly had a crush on him since they were twelve years old. Last summer, she'd fallen for him hard. They'd been a happy couple for four months — and then he'd disappeared. During their separation, something had happened to Annabeth's feelings.

They'd grown painfully intense — like she'd been forced to withdraw from a life-saving medication. Now she wasn't sure which was more excruciating — living with that horrible absence, or being with him again. The praetor Reyna straightened. With apparent reluctance, she turned toward Jason. And these, your friends — " Annabeth didn't mean to, but she surged forward. Percy rushed toward her at the same time. The crowd tensed. Some reached for swords that weren't there. Percy threw his arms around her.

They kissed, and for a moment nothing else mattered. An asteroid could have hit the planet and wiped out all life, and Annabeth wouldn't have cared.

Percy smelled of ocean air. His lips were salty. Seaweed Brain, she thought giddily. Percy pulled away and studied her face. He slammed into the stone pavement. Romans cried out. Some surged forward, but Reyna shouted, "Hold! Stand down! She pushed her forearm against his throat. She didn't care what the Romans thought. A white-hot lump of anger expanded in her chest — a tumor of worry and bitterness that she'd been carrying around since last autumn.

Suddenly the lump of heated emotions melted inside Annabeth. She wanted to kiss him again so badly, but she managed to restrain herself. Jason cleared his throat. It's good to be back. Or an Amazon? Two kids appeared at Percy's side, the same ones Annabeth had seen him chumming around with earlier.

The burly Asian guy with the buzz cut was about fifteen. He was cute in a sort of oversized-cuddly-panda-bear way. The girl was younger, maybe thirteen, with amber eyes and chocolate skin and long curly hair.

Her cavalry helmet was tucked under her arm. Annabeth could tell from their body language that they felt close to Percy. They stood next to him protectively, like they'd already shared many adventures.

She fought down a twinge of jealousy. Was it possible Percy and this girl The chemistry between the three of them wasn't like that. Annabeth had spent her whole life learning to read people.

It was a survival skill. If she had to guess, she'd say the big Asian guy was the girl's boyfriend, though she suspected they hadn't been together long. There was one thing she didn't understand: She kept frowning in Piper and Leo's direction, like she recognized one of them and the memory was painful.

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Meanwhile, Reyna was giving orders to her officers, " Dakota, alert the spirits in the kitchen. Tell them to prepare a welcome feast. He seemed to be the only one who didn't defer to Reyna as his superior, despite the fact that he was scrawny and pale and for some reason had three teddy bears hanging from his belt.

As augur, you should burn an offering to thank the gods for bringing Jason back to us safely. Octavian shot Percy a look of absolute loathing. Then he gave Annabeth a suspicious once-over and stalked away. Percy slipped his hand into Annabeth's.

We'll be fine. She heard that whispering laughter again, as if the presence had followed her from the ship. She looked up at the Argo II.

Its massive bronze hull glittered in the sunlight. Part of her wanted to kidnap Percy right now, climb on board, and get out of here while they still could. She couldn't shake the feeling that something was about to go terribly wrong. And there was no way she would ever risk losing Percy again. She turned to Jason, and Annabeth thought there was a hungry sort of gleam in her eyes.

Sets of couches and low tables were carted into the forum until it resembled a furniture showroom. Romans lounged in groups of ten or twenty, talking and laughing while wind spirits — aurae — swirled overhead, bringing an endless assortment of pizzas, sandwiches, chips, cold drinks, and fresh-baked cookies. Drifting through the crowd were purple ghosts — Lares — in togas and legionnaire armor.

Around the edges of the feast, satyrs no, fauns, Annabeth thought trotted from table to table, panhandling for food and spare change. In the nearby fields, the war elephant frolicked with Mrs.

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O'Leary, and children played tag around the statues of Terminus that lined the city limits. The whole scene was so familiar yet so completely alien that it gave Annabeth vertigo. All she wanted to do was be with Percy — preferably alone.

She knew she would have to wait. If their quest was going to succeed, they needed these Romans, which meant getting to know them and building some goodwill. Reyna and a few of her officers including the blond kid Octavian, freshly back from burning a teddy bear for the gods sat with Annabeth and her crew.

Percy joined them with his two new friends, Frank and Hazel. As a tornado of food platters settled onto the table, Percy leaned over and whispered, "I want to show you around New Rome. Just you and me. The place is incredible. Just you and me was exactly what she wanted. Instead, resentment swelled in her throat.

How could Percy talk so enthusiastically about this place? What about Camp Half-Blood — their camp, their home? At Camp Half-Blood, demigods got bead necklaces to commemorate years of training. Here, the Romans burned a tattoo into your flesh, as if to say: You belong to us. She swallowed back some biting comments. After introductions all around, the Romans and Annabeth's crew began exchanging stories.

Jason explained how he'd arrived at Camp Half-Blood without his memory, and how he'd gone on a quest with Piper and Leo to rescue the goddess Hera or Juno, take your pick — she was equally annoying in Greek or Roman from imprisonment at the Wolf House in northern California. If the giants had imprisoned a goddess there — " "They would've destroyed her," Piper said. Now, be quiet and let Jason finish.

Annabeth really loved Piper's charmspeak. She noticed Reyna looking back and forth between Jason and Piper, her brow creased, as if just beginning to realize the two of them were a couple. She's still half asleep, but she's the one freeing the monsters from Tartarus and raising the giants. Porphyrion, the big leader dude we fought at the Wolf House: He plans on awakening Gaea and destroying the gods by.

Pulling up their roots. We had our own encounter with Queen Dirt Face. He talked about waking up at the Wolf House with no memories except for one name — Annabeth. When she heard that, Annabeth had to try hard not to cry. Percy told them how he'd traveled to Alaska with Frank and Hazel — how they'd defeated the giant Alcyoneus, freed the death god Thanatos, and returned with the lost golden eagle standard of the Roman camp to repel an attack by the giants' army.

When Percy had finished, Jason whistled appreciatively. The rules clearly state we can only have two! So we can both tell you to shut up. Jason gave Percy a fist bump.

Even Reyna managed a smile, though her eyes were stormy. You guys look nothing alike. You did an awesome job. Annabeth kicked his shin. She hated to interrupt a budding bromance, but Reyna was right: It sounds like the Romans are aware of it too? Octavian, you have it committed to memory? In English, not Latin. To storm or fire the world must fall — " "An oath to keep with a final breath, " Annabeth continued.

Annabeth wasn't sure why she had blurted out the lines of the prophecy. She'd just felt compelled. The big kid, Frank, sat forward, staring at her in fascination, as if she'd grown a third eye. She's here in peace. Percy looked down, suddenly interested in his cheeseburger. Annabeth's face felt hot. Oh, gods Reyna had tried to make a move on Percy.

That explained the tinge of bitterness, maybe even envy, in her words. Percy had turned her down for Annabeth. At that moment, Annabeth forgave her ridiculous boyfriend for everything he'd ever done wrong. She wanted to throw her arms around him, but she commanded herself to stay cool. Foes bearing arms to the Doors of Death We have to combine forces to find those doors.

It looked like a large ruby; but before Annabeth could be sure, Hazel slipped it into the pocket of her denim shirt. He's your brother? A dozen more questions crowded into Annabeth's head, but it was already spinning like Leo's pinwheel.

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She decided to let the matter go. You were saying? I'm not sure, but I think something's happened to him. Thanatos told us we'd find both answers in Rome — like, the original Rome. That's on the way to Greece, right? She'd even been to the Underworld; but Percy's story about freeing the incarnation of death itself really creeped her out. Percy took a bite of his burger.

But as long as the Doors of Death are open, they'll just keep coming back. The point is we'll have to find the doors and close them before we can head to Greece. It's the only way we'll stand a chance of defeating the giants and making sure they stay defeated. She turned it in her fingers, studying the dark red surface.

You do realize that the ancient lands — and the Mare Nostrum — are dangerous? It's what the Ancient Romans called the Mediterranean. It's also the ancestral home of the monsters, Titans and giants As dangerous as travel is for demigods here in America, there it would be ten times worse. Her fingernails cut little crescents into the apple as she turned it. It's been off limits to Roman demigods for centuries. No hero in his right mind would go there. Besides, the Argo II is a top-of-the-line warship.

She'll get us through. She's invading dreams, appearing in weird places, summoning more and more powerful monsters. We have to stop the giants before they can wake her up fully.

She'd had her own share of nightmares lately. Jason, Piper, Leo, and me. That's four. That's seven. Without a vote in the senate? Without a proper debate? Without — " "Percy! O'Leary at his heels. On the hellhound's back sat the skinniest harpy Annabeth had ever seen — a sickly-looking girl with stringy red hair, a sackcloth dress, and red-feathered wings. Annabeth didn't know where the harpy had come from, but her heart warmed to see Tyson in his tattered flannel and denim with the backward SPQR banner across his chest.

She'd had some pretty bad experiences with Cyclopes, but Tyson was a sweetheart. He was also Percy's half brother long story , which made him almost like family. Tyson stopped by their couch and wrung his meaty hands. His big brown eye was full of concern.

He looked at Hazel, who was seated next to him. She's just a little. We need to take her away, but she will not go on the ship. She looked straight at Annabeth. There she is. Wisdom's daughter walks alone — " "Ella! Giants' bane stands gold and pale, Won through pain from a woven jail. Everyone stared at the harpy. No one spoke. Annabeth's heart was pounding. The Mark of Athena. She resisted the urge to check her pocket, but she could feel the silver coin growing warmer — the cursed gift from her mother.

Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Around them, the sounds of the feast continued, but muted and distant, as if their little cluster of couches had slipped into a quieter dimension.

Percy was the first to recover. He stood and took Tyson's arm. You and Mrs. O'Leary — " "Hold on. His eyes fixed on Ella. It sounded like — " "Ella reads a lot," Frank blurted out.

She sat cross-legged on Mrs. O'Leary's back, preening her wings. Annabeth gave Percy a curious glance. Obviously, he and Frank and Hazel were hiding something.

Just as obviously, Ella had recited a prophecy — a prophecy that concerned her. Percy's expression said, Help. Annabeth wasn't exactly sure what was going on, but she understood that Percy was on the verge of big trouble. She forced a laugh. Maybe harpies are different here, on the Roman side.

Ours have just enough intelligence to clean cabins and cook lunches. Do yours usually foretell the future? Do you consult them for your auguries? The Roman officers laughed nervously. Some sized up Ella, then looked at Octavian and snorted. The idea of a chicken lady issuing prophecies was apparently just as ridiculous to Romans as it was to Greeks. Besides, we already have a real prophecy to worry about. Why don't you take Ella and Mrs.

O'Leary and shadow-travel somewhere for a while. Is Ella okay with that? Annabeth held her breath. Reyna had an excellent poker face. She studied Ella, but Annabeth couldn't guess what she was thinking. Fine," the praetor said at last. Then he climbed on Mrs.

O'Leary's back with Ella, and the hellhound bounded out of the forum. They dove straight into a shadow on the Senate House wall and disappeared. We must gain the senate's approval before we let any of our legionnaires go on a quest — especially one as dangerous as you're suggesting. You can steer the boat, and if you're really good I'll give you a little paper captain's hat to wear.

See the ship. We'll convene a senate meeting in one hour. Apparently he could tell from Reyna's expression that further arguing would not be good for his health. He turned to Annabeth, and his smile changed. It happened so quickly, Annabeth thought she'd imagined it; but just for a moment someone else seemed to be standing in Leo's place, smiling coldly with a cruel light in his eyes. Then Annabeth blinked, and Leo was just regular old Leo again, with his usual impish grin.

As Leo and Octavian headed for the rope ladder, she thought about calling them back — but how could she explain that? Tell everyone she was going crazy, seeing things and feeling cold? The wind spirits began clearing the plates. She's never seen New Rome.

Annabeth wondered how Jason could be so dense. Was it possible he really didn't understand how much Reyna liked him? It was obvious enough to Annabeth.

Asking to show his new girlfriend around Reyna's city was rubbing salt in a wound. Percy took Annabeth's hand. I'd like to show Annabeth — " "No," Reyna snapped. Percy knit his eyebrows. If you don't mind, my fellow praetor. The chill spread down Annabeth's back. She wondered what Reyna was up to. Maybe the praetor didn't like the idea of two guys who had rejected her giving their girlfriends tours of her city.

Or maybe there was something she wanted to say in private. Either way, Annabeth was reluctant to be alone and unarmed with the Roman leader. But as an aspiring architect, she couldn't help admiring the terraced gardens, the fountains and temples, the winding cobblestone streets and gleaming white villas. After the Titan War last summer, she'd gotten her dream job of redesigning the palaces of Mount Olympus.

Now, walking through this miniature city, she kept thinking, I should have made a dome like that. I love the way those columns lead into that courtyard. Whoever designed New Rome had clearly poured a lot of time and love into the project.

Many demigods stay on to live here after their time in the legion. They go to our university. They settle down to raise families. Percy seemed interested in this fact. She must have scowled more fiercely than she realized, because Reyna laughed. I'm the daughter of Bellona. She turned and whistled like she was hailing a cab. A moment later, two metal dogs raced toward them — automaton greyhounds, one silver and one gold. They brushed against Reyna's legs and regarded Annabeth with glistening ruby eyes.

You don't mind if they walk with us? She noted that the greyhounds had teeth like steel arrowheads. Maybe weapons weren't allowed inside the city, but Reyna's pets could still tear her to pieces if they chose. Reyna led her to an outdoor cafe, where the waiter clearly knew her. He smiled and handed her a to-go cup, then offered one to Annabeth.

Not really a Roman drink — " "But chocolate is universal," Annabeth said. The two of them walked on, Reyna's gold and silver dogs roaming nearby. Are you familiar with how her Roman form is different? She remembered the way Terminus had called Athena that goddess, as if she were scandalous. Octavian had acted like Annabeth's very existence was an insult. She's the goddess of crafts and wisdom Not for Romans.

She's also a maiden goddess, like Diana You won't find any children of Minerva here. The idea that Minerva would have children — frankly, it's a little shocking to us. She didn't want to get into the details of Athena's children — how they were born straight from the mind of the goddess, just as Athena herself had sprung from the head of Zeus.

Talking about that always made Annabeth feel self-conscious, like she was some sort of freak. People usually asked her whether or not she had a belly button, since she had been born magically. Of course she had a belly button. She couldn't explain how. She didn't really want to know.

The Vestal Virgins, for instance So the idea that a maiden goddess would have children — " "Got it. No wonder the Romans had been giving her strange looks. And even if your camp had children of Minerva — "They wouldn't be like you," Reyna said. Not leaders of dangerous quests.

Not officially. The past few days, they had been looking to her for orders — even Jason, who could have pulled rank as the son of Jupiter, and Coach Hedge, who didn't take orders from anyone.

The praetor stroked his ears. We both know that, don't we? Something about Aurum's ruby eyes made her uneasy. She had heard that dogs could smell fear, even detect changes in a human's breathing and heartbeat. She didn't know if that applied to magical metal dogs, but she decided it would be better to tell the truth. A group of children spilled out of a nearby alleyway and gathered around Argentum, petting the dog and laughing, unfazed by its razor-sharp teeth.

They wound their way up the hill. The greyhounds followed, leaving the children behind. Annabeth kept glancing at Reyna's face. A vague memory started tugging at her — the way Reyna brushed her hair behind her ear, the silver ring she wore with the torch and sword design.

Percy didn't remember me. Of course you spoke mostly with my older sister Hylla, who is now queen of the Amazons. She left just this morning, before you arrived. At any rate, when we last met, I was a mere handmaiden in the house of Circe. She'd been thirteen. Percy and she had washed ashore from the Sea of Monsters. Hylla had welcomed them. She had helped Annabeth get cleaned up and given her a beautiful new dress and a complete makeover.

Then Circe had made her sales pitch: Annabeth had been tempted, maybe just a little, until she realized the place was a trap, and Percy had been turned into a rodent. That last part seemed funny afterward; but at the time, it had been terrifying. As for Reyna How did you two —?

You were brave. I'd never seen anyone refuse Circe's hospitality, much less outwit her. It's no wonder Percy cares for you. Annabeth thought it might be safer not to respond.

They reached the top of the hill, where a terrace overlooked the entire valley. Bees buzzed through honeysuckle and jasmine, which filled the afternoon air with a dizzying mix of perfumes. In the middle of the terrace stood a statue of Bacchus in a sort of ballet position, wearing nothing but a loincloth, his cheeks puffed out and lips pursed, spouting water into a fountain.

Despite her worries, Annabeth almost laughed. She knew the god in his Greek form, Dionysus — or Mr. D, as they called him back at Camp Half-Blood. Seeing their cranky old camp director immortalized in stone, wearing a diaper and spewing water from his mouth, made her feel a little better. Reyna stopped at the edge of the terrace. The view was worth the climb.

The whole city spread out below them like a 3-D mosaic. To the south, beyond the lake, a cluster of temples perched on a hill. To the north, an aqueduct marched toward the Berkeley Hills. Work crews were repairing a broken section, probably damaged in the recent battle. Annabeth turned. Tell me about yourself. Tell me about Camp Half-Blood.

Your friend Piper has sorcery in her words. I spent enough time with Circe to know charmspeak when I hear it. I can't trust what she says. And Jason. He seems distant, no longer quite Roman. Annabeth wondered if she had sounded that way, all the months she'd spent searching for Percy. At least she'd found her boyfriend. Reyna had no one. She was responsible for running an entire camp all by herself.

Annabeth could sense that Reyna wanted Jason to love her. But he had disappeared, only to come back with a new girlfriend. Meanwhile, Percy had risen to praetor, but he had rebuffed Reyna too. Now Annabeth had come to take him away. Reyna would be left alone again, shouldering a job meant for two people.

When Annabeth had arrived at Camp Jupiter, she'd been prepared to negotiate with Reyna or even fight her if needed. She hadn't been prepared to feel sorry for her.

She kept that feeling hidden. Reyna didn't strike her as someone who would appreciate pity. Instead, she told Reyna about her own life. She talked about her dad and stepmom and her two stepbrothers in San Francisco, and how she had felt like an outsider in her own family. Rick Riordan — The Lost Hero epub, 1. Rick Riordan — The Son of Neptune epub, 1.

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