Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Battle of the Labyrinth - Chapter 19

Chapter 19

 T here were too many good-byes.
 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 amphitheater, and within
seconds the row of shrouds was engulfed in fire, sending smoke and sparks up to the stars.
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 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 Titan’s 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 godswin the day. The wordpanic 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 favored 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 satyr hurried forward with a plate
of cheese and crackers and a Diet Coke.
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 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.”
 “But, my lord,” Silenus protested. “It’s just nonsense!”
 Dionysus’s eyes flared with purple fire. “I have just learned that my son Castor is dead, Silenus. I am not
in a good mood. You would do well to humor me.”
 Silenus gulped, and waved at Grover to start again.
 When Grover was done, Mr. D nodded. “It sounds like just the sort of thing Pan would do. Grover is
right. The search is tiresome. You must start thinking for yourselves.” He turned to a satyr. “Bring me
some peeled grapes, right away!”
 “Yes, sire!” The satyr scampered off.
 “We must exile the traitor!” Silenus insisted.
 “I say no,” Dionysus countered. “That is my vote.”
 “I vote no as well,” Chiron put in.
 Silenus set his jaw stubbornly. “All in favor of the exile?”
 He and the two other old satyrs raised their hands.
 “Three to two,” Silenus said.
 “Ah, yes,” Dionysus said. “But unfortunately for you, a god’s vote counts twice. And as I voted against,
we are tied.”
 Silenus stood, indignant. “This is an outrage! The council cannot stand at an impasse.”
 “Then let it be dissolved!” Mr. D said. “I don’t care.”
 Silenus bowed stiffly, along with his two friends, and they left the grove. About twenty satyrs went with
them. The rest stood around murmuring uncomfortably.
 “Don’t worry,” Grover told them. “We don’t need the council to tell us what to do. We can figure it out
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 He told them again the words of Pan—how they must save the wild a little at a time. He started dividing
the satyrs into groups—which ones would go to the national parks, which ones would search out the last
wild places, which ones would defend the parks in the big cities.
 “Well,” Annabeth said to me, “Grover seems to be growing up.”
 Later that afternoon I found Tyson at the beach, talking to Briares. Briares was building a sand castle
with about fifty of his hands. He wasn’t really paying attention to it, but his hands had constructed a
three-story compound with fortified walls, a moat, and a drawbridge.
 Tyson was drawing a map in the sand.
 “Go left at the reef,” he told Briares. “Straight down when you see the sunken ship. Then about one mile
east, past the mermaid graveyard, you will start to see fires burning.”
 “You’re giving him directions to the forges?” I asked.
 Tyson nodded. “Briares wants to help. He will teach Cyclopes ways we have forgotten, how to make
better weapons and armor.”
 “I want to see Cyclopes,” Briares agreed. “I don’t want to be lonely anymore.”
 “I doubt you’ll be lonely down there,” I said a little wistfully, because I’d never even been in Poseidon’s
kingdom. “They’re going to keep you really busy.”
 Briares’s face morphed to a happy expression. “Busy sounds good! I only wish Tyson could go, too.”
 Tyson blushed. “I need to stay here with my brother. You will do fine, Briares. Thank you.”
 The Hundred-Handed One shook my hand about a hundred times. “We will meet again, Percy. I know
 Then he gave Tyson a big octopus hug and waded out into the ocean. We watched until his enormous
head disappeared under the waves.
 I clapped Tyson on the back. “You helped him a lot.”
 “I only talked to him.”
 “You believed in him. Without Briares, we never would’ve taken down Kampê  .”
 Tyson grinned. “He throws good rocks!”
 I laughed. “Yeah.  He throws really good rocks. Come on, big guy. Let’s have dinner.”
 It felt good to have a regular dinner at camp. Tyson sat with me at the Poseidon table. The sunset over
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Long Island Sound was beautiful. Things weren’t back to normal by a long shot, but when I went up to
the brazier and scraped part of my meal into the flames as an offering to Poseidon, I felt like I really did
have a lot to be grateful for. My friends and I were alive. The camp was safe. Kronos had suffered a
setback, at least for a while.
 The only thing that bothered me was Nico, hanging in the shadows at the edge of the pavilion. He’d
been offered a place at the Hermes table, and even at the head table with Chiron, but he had refused.
 After dinner, the campers headed toward the amphitheater, where Apollo’s cabin promised an awesome
sing-along to pick up our spirits, but Nico turned and disappeared into the woods. I decided I’d better
follow him.
 As I passed under the shadows of the trees, I realized how dark it was getting. I’d never been scared in
the forest before, though I knew there were plenty of monsters. Still, I thought about yesterday’s battle,
and I wondered if I’d ever be able to walk in those woods again without remembering the horror of so
much fighting.
 I couldn’t see Nico, but after a few minutes of walking I saw a glow up ahead. At first I thought Nico
had lit a torch. As I got closer, I realized the glow was a ghost. The shimmering form of Biancadi  Angelo
stood in the clearing, smiling at her brother. She said something to him and touched his face—or tried to.
Then her image faded.
 Nico turned and saw me, but he didn’t look mad.
 “Saying good-bye,” he said hoarsely.
 “We missed you at dinner,” I said. “You could’ve sat with me.”
 “Nico, you can’t miss every meal. If you don’t want to stay with Hermes, maybe they can make an
exception and put you in the Big House. They’ve got plenty of rooms.”
 “I’m not staying, Percy.”
 “But…you can’t just leave. It’s too dangerous out there for a lone half-blood. You need to train.”
 “I train with the dead,” he said flatly. “This camp isn’t for me. There’s a reason they didn’t put a cabin to
Hades here, Percy. He’s not welcome, any more than he is on Olympus. I don’t belong. I have to go.”
 I wanted to argue, but part of me knew he was right. I didn’t like it, but Nico would have to find his
own, dark way. I remembered in Pan’s cave, how the wild god had addressed each one of us
individually…except Nico.”
 “When will you go?” I asked.
 “Right away.I’ve got tons of questions. Like who was my mother? Who paid for Bianca and me to go to
school? Who was that lawyer guy who got us out of the Lotus Hotel? I know nothing about my past. I
need to find out.”
 “Makes sense,” I admitted. “But I hope we don’t have to be enemies.”
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 He lowered his gaze. “I’m sorry I was a brat. I should’ve listened to you about Bianca.”
 “By the way…” I fished something out of my pocket. “Tyson found this while we were cleaning the
cabin.Thought you might want it.” I held out a lead figurine of Hades—the little Mythomagic statue Nico
had abandoned when he fled camp last winter.
 Nico hesitated. “I don’t play that game anymore. It’s for kids.”
 “It’s got four thousand attack power ,” I coaxed.
 “Five thousand,” Nico corrected. “But only if your opponent attacks first.”
 I smiled. “Maybe it’s okay to still be a kid once in a while.” I tossed him the statue.
 Nico studied it in his palm for a few seconds,then  slipped it into his pocket. “Thanks.”
 I put out my hand. He shook reluctantly. His hand was as cold as ice.
 “I’ve got a lot of things to investigate,” he said. “Some of them…Well, if I learn anything useful, I’ll let
you know.”
 I wasn’t sure what he meant, but I nodded. “Keep in touch, Nico.”
 He turned and trudged off into the woods. The shadows seemed to bend toward him as he walked, like
they were reaching out for his attention.
 A voice right behind me said, “There goes a very troubled young man.”
 I turned and found Dionysus standing there, still in his black suit.
 “Walk with me,” he said.
 “Where to?”I asked suspiciously.
 “Just to the campfire,” he said. “I was beginning to feel better, so I thought I would talk with you a bit.
You always manage to annoy me.”
 “Uh, thanks.”
 We walked through the woods in silence. I noticed that Dionysus was treading on air, his polished black
shoes hovering an inch off the ground. I guess he didn’t want to get dirty.
 “We have had many betrayals,” he said. “Things are not looking good for Olympus. Yet you and
Annabeth saved this camp. I’m not sure I should thank you for that.”
 “It was a group effort.”
 He shrugged. “Regardless, I suppose it was mildly competent, what you two did. I thought you should
know—it wasn’t a total loss.”
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 We reached the amphitheater, and Dionysus pointed toward the campfire. Clarisse was sitting shoulder
to shoulder with a big Hispanic kid who was telling her a joke. It was Chris Rodriguez, the half-blood
who’d gone insane in the Labyrinth.
 I turned to Dionysus. “You cured him?”
 “Madness is my specialty. It was quite simple.”
 “But…you did something nice. Why?”
 He raised an eyebrow. “I am nice! I simply ooze niceness, Perry Johansson. Haven’t you noticed?”
 “Perhaps I felt grieved by my son’s death. Perhaps I thought this Chris boy deserved a second chance.
At any rate, it seems to have improved Clarisse’s mood.”
 “Why are you telling me this?”
 The wine god sighed. “Oh, Hades if I know. But remember, boy, that a kind act can sometimes be as
powerful as a sword. As a mortal, I was never a great fighter or athlete or poet. I only made wine. The
people in my village laughed at me. They said I would never amount to anything. Look at me now.
Sometimes small things can become very large indeed.”
 He left me alone to think about that. And as I watched Clarisse and Chris singing a stupid campfire song
together, holding hands in the darkness, where they thought nobody could see them, I had to smile.

The Battle of the Labyrinth - Chapter 20

Chapter 20

 T he rest of the summer seemed strange because it was so normal. The daily activities continued: archery,
rock climbing, Pegasus riding. We played capture the flag (though we all avoided Zeus’s Fist). We sang
at the campfire and raced chariots and played practical jokes on the other cabins. I spent a lot of time
with Tyson, playing with Mrs. O’Leary, but she would still howl at night when she got lonely for her old
master. Annabeth and I pretty much skirted around each other. I was glad to be with her, but it also kind
of hurt, and it hurt when I wasn’t with her, too.
 I wanted to talk to her about Kronos, but I couldn’t do that anymore without bringing up Luke. And that
was one subject I couldn’t raise. She would shut me out every time I tried.
 July passed, with fireworks on the beach on the Fourth. August turned so hot the strawberries started
baking in the fields. Finally, the last day of camp arrived. The standard form letter appeared on my bed
after breakfast, warning me that the cleaning harpies would devour me if I stayed past noon.
 At ten o’clock I stood on the top of Half-Blood Hill, waiting for the camp van that would take me into
the city. I’d made arrangements to leave Mrs. O’Leary at camp, where Chiron promised she’d be
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looked after. Tyson and I would take turns visiting her during the year.
 I hoped Annabeth would be riding into Manhattan with me, but she only came to see me off. She said
she’d arranged to stay at camp a little longer. She would tend to Chiron until his leg was fully recovered,
and keep studying Deadalus’s laptop, which had engrossed her for the last two months. Then she would
head back to her father’s place in San Francisco.
 “There’s a private school out there that I’ll be going to,” she said. “I’ll probably hate it, but…” she
 “Yeah, well, call me, okay?”
 “Sure,” she said half-heartedly. “I’ll keep my eyes open for…”
 There it was again. Luke  . She couldn’t even say his name without opening up a huge box of hurt and
worry and anger.
 “Annabeth,” I said. “What was the rest of the prophecy?”
 She fixed her eyes on the woods in the distance, but she didn’t say anything.
 “You shall delve in the darkness of the endless maze,” I remembered. “The dead, the traitor, and the
lost oneraise  . We raised a lot of the dead. We saved Ethan Nakamura, who turned out to be a traitor.
We raised the spirit of Pan, the lost one.”
 Annabeth shook her head like she wanted me to stop.
 “You shall rise or fall by the ghost king’s hand,”I pressed on. “That wasn’t Minos, like I’d thought. It
was Nico. By choosing to be on our side, he saved us. Andthe child of Athena’s final stand—  that was
 “ Destroy with a hero’s final breath. That makes sense now. Daedalus died to destroy the Labyrinth.
But what was the last—”
 “And lose a love to worse than death.” Annabeth had tears in her eyes. “That was the last line, Percy.
Are you happy now?”
 The sun seemed colder than it had a moment ago. “Oh,” I said. “So Luke—”
 “Percy, I didn’t know who the prophecy was talking about. I—I didn’t know if…” She faltered
helplessly. “Luke and I—for years, he was the only one who really cared about me. I thought…”
 Before she could continue, a sparkle of light appeared next to us, like someone had opened a gold
curtain in the air.
 “You have nothing to apologize for, my dear.” Standing on the hill was a tall woman in a white dress, her
dark hair braided over her shoulder.
 “Hera,” Annabeth said.
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 The goddess smiled. “You found the answers, as I knew you would. Your quest was a success.”
 “A success?” Annabeth said. “Luke is gone. Daedalus is dead. Pan is dead. How is that—”
 “Our family is safe,” Hera insisted. “Those others are better gone, my dear. I am proud of you.”
 I balled my fists. I couldn’t believe she was saying this. “You’re the one who paid Geryon to let us
through the ranch, weren’t you?”
 Hera shrugged. Her dress shimmered in rainbow colors. “I wanted to speed you on your way.”
 “But you didn’t care about Nico. You were happy to see him turned over to the Titans.”
 “Oh, please.” Hera waved her hand dismissively. “The son of Hades said it himself. No one wants him
around. He does not belong.”
 “Hephaestus was right,” I growled. “You only care about your perfect  family, not real people.”
 Her eyes turned dangerously bright. “Watch yourself, son of Poseidon. I guided you more than you
know in the maze. I was at your side when you faced Geryon.I let your arrow fly straight. I sent you to
Calypso’s island. I opened the way to the Titan’s mountain. Annabeth, my dear, surely you see how I’ve
helped. I would welcome a sacrifice for my efforts.”
 Annabeth stood still as a statue. She could’ve said thank you. She could’ve promised to throw some
barbecue on the brazier for Hera and forget the whole thing. But she clenched her jaw stubbornly. She
looked just the way she had when she’d faced the Sphinx—like she wasn’t going to accept an easy
answer, even if it got her in serious trouble. I realized that was one of the things I liked best about
 “Percy is right.” she turned her back on the goddess. “ You’re the one who doesn’t belong, Queen Hera.
So next time, thanks…but no thanks.”
 Hera’s sneer was worse than anempousa’s . Her form began to glow. “You will regret this insult,
Annabeth. You will regret this very much.”
 I averted my eyes as the goddess turned into her true divine form and disappeared in a blaze of light.
 The hilltop was peaceful again. Over at the pine tree,Peleus the dragon dozed under the Golden Fleece
as if nothing had happened.
 “I’m sorry,” Annabeth told me. “I—I should get back. I’ll keep in touch.”
 “Listen, Annabeth—” I thought about Mount St. Helens, Calypso’s Island, Luke and Rachel Elizabeth
Dare, and how suddenly everything had gotten so complicated. I wanted to tell Annabeth that I didn’t
really want to be so distant from her.
 Then Argus honked his horn down at the road, and I lost my chance.
 “You’d better get going,” Annabeth said. “Take care, Seaweed Brain.”
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 She jogged down the hill. I watched her until she reached the cabins. She didn’t look back once.
 Two days later it was my birthday. I never advertised the date, because it always fell right after camp, so
none of my camp friends could usually come, and I didn’t have that many mortal friends. Besides, getting
older didn’t seem like anything to celebrate since I’d gotten the big prophecy about me destroying or
saving the world when I turned sixteen. Now I was turning fifteen. I was running out of time.
 My mom threw me a small party at our apartment. Paul Blofis came over, but that was okay because
Chiron had manipulated the Mist to convince everyone at Goode High School that I had nothing to do
with the band room explosion. Now Paul and the other witnesses were convinced that Kelli had been a
crazy, firebomb-throwing cheerleader, while I had simply been an innocent bystander who’d panicked
and ran from the scene. I would still be allowed to start as a freshman at Goode next month. If I wanted
to keep my record of getting kicked out of school every year, I’d have to try harder.
 Tyson came to my party, too, and my mother baked two extra blue cakes just for him. While Tyson
helped my mom blow up party balloons, Paul Blofis asked me to help him in the kitchen.
 As we were pouring punch, he said, “I hear your mom signed you up for driver’s ed  this fall.”
 “Yeah. It’s cool. I can’t wait.”
 Seriously, I’d been excited about getting my license forever, but I guess my heart wasn’t in it anymore,
and Paul could tell. In a weird way he reminded me of Chiron sometimes, how he could look at your and
actually see your thoughts. I guess it was that teacher aura.
 “You’ve had a rough summer,” he said. “I’m guessing you lost someone important. And…girl trouble?”
 I stared at him. “How do you know that? Did my mom—”
 He held up his hands. “Your mom hasn’t said a thing. And I won’t pry. I just know there’s something
unusual about you, Percy. You’ve got a lot going on that I can’t figure. But I was also fifteen once, and
I’m just guessing from your expression…Well, you’ve had a rough time.”
 I nodded. I’d promised my mom I would tell Paul the truth about me, but now didn’t seem the time. Not
yet. “I lost a couple of friends at this camp I go to,” I said. “I mean, not close friends, but still—”
 “I’m sorry.”
 “Yeah. And, uh, I guess the girl stuff…”
 “Here.” Paul handed me some punch. “To your fifteenth birthday.And to a better year to come.”
 We tapped our paper cups together and drank.
 “Percy, I kind of feel bad giving you one more thing to think about,” Paul said. “But I wanted to ask you
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 “Girl stuff.”
 I frowned. “What do you mean?”
 “Your mom,” Paul said. “I’m thinking about proposing to her.”
 I almost dropped my cup. “You mean…marrying her? You and her?”
 “Well, that was the genera idea. Would that be okay with you?”
 “You’re asking my permission?”
 Paul scratched his beard. “I don’t know if it’s permission, so much, but she’s your mother. And I know
you’re going through a lot. I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t talk to you about it first, man to man.”
 “Man to man,” I repeated. It sounded strange, saying that. I thought about Paul and my mom, how she
smiled and laughed more whenever he was around, and how Paul had gone out of his way to get me into
high school. I found myself saying, “I think that’s a great idea, Paul. Go for it.”
 He smiled really wide then. “Cheers, Percy. Let’s join the party.”
 I was just getting ready to blow out the candles when the doorbell rang.
 My mom frowned. “Who could that be?”
 It was weird, because our new building had a doorman, but he hadn’t called up or anything. My mom
opened the door and gasped.
 It was my dad. He was wearing Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt and Birkenstocks, like he usually
does. His black beard was neatly trimmed and his sea-green eyes twinkled. He wore a battered cap
decorated with fishing lures. It said NEPTUNE’S LUCKY FISHING HAT.
 “Pos—” My mother stopped herself. She was blushing right to the roots of her hair. “Um, hello.”
 “Hello, Sally,” Poseidon said. “You look as beautiful as ever. May I come in?”
 My mother made a squeaking sound that might’ve been either a “Yes” or “Help.” Poseidon took it as a
yes and came in.
 Paul was looking back and forth between us, trying to read our expressions. Finally he stepped forward.
“Hi, I’m Paul Blofis.”
 Poseidon raised his eyebrows as they shook hands. “Blowfish, did you say?”
 “Ah, no. Blofis, actually.”
 “Oh, I see,” Poseidon said. “A shame.  I quite like blowfish. I am Poseidon.”
 “Poseidon? That’s an interesting name.”
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 “Yes, I like it. I’ve gone by other names, but I do prefer Poseidon.”
 “Like the god of the sea.”
 “Very much like that, yes.”
 “Well!” my mom interrupted. “Um, we’re so glad you could drop by. Paul, this is Percy’s father.”
 “Ah.” Paul nodded, though he didn’t look real pleased. “I see.”
 Poseidon smiled at me. “There you are, my boy. And Tyson, hello, son!”
 “Daddy!” Tyson bounded across the room and gave Poseidon a big hug, which almost knocked off his
fishing hat.
 Paul’s jaw dropped. He stared at my mom. “Tyson is…”
 “Not mine,” she promised. “It’s a long story.”
 “I couldn’t miss Percy’s fifteenth birthday,” Poseidon said. “Why, if this were Sparta, Percy would be a
man today!”
 “That’s true,” Paul said. “I used to teach ancient history.”
 Poseidon’s eyes twinkled. “That’s me. Ancient history. Sally, Paul, Tyson…would you mind if I
borrowed Percy for a moment?”
 He put his arm around me and steered me into the kitchen.
 Once we were alone, his smile faded.
 “Are you all right, my boy?”
 “Yeah. I’m fine. I guess.”
 “I heard stories,” Poseidon said. “But I wanted to hear it directly from you. Tell me everything.”
 So I did. It was kind of disconcerting, because Poseidon listened so intently. His eyes never left my face.
His expression didn’t change the whole time I talked. When I was done, he nodded slowly.
 “So Kronos is indeed back. It will not be long before full war is upon us.”
 “What about Luke?” I asked. “Is he really gone?”
 “I don’t know, Percy. It is most disturbing.”
 “But his body is mortal. Couldn’t you just destroy him?”
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 “Mortal, perhaps, but there is something different about Luke, my boy. I don’t know how he was
prepared to host the Titan’s soul, but he will not be easily killed. And yet, I fear he must be killed if we
are to send Kronos back to the pit. I will have to think on this. Unfortunately, I have other problems of
my own.”
 I remembered what Tyson had told me at the beginning of the summer. “The old sea gods?”
 “Indeed. The battle came first to me, Percy. In fact, I cannot stay long. Even now the ocean is at war
with itself. It is all I can do to keep hurricanes and typhoons from destroying your surface world, the
fighting is so intense.”
 “Let me come down there,” I said. “Let me help.”
 Poseidon’s eyes crinkled as he smiled. “Not yet, my boy.  I sense you will be needed here. Which reminds
me… ” He brought out a sand dollar and pressed it into my hand. “Your birthday present.  Spend it
 “Uh, spend a sand dollar?”
 “Oh, yes. In my day, you could buy quite a lot with a sand dollar. I think you will find it still buys a lot, if
used in the right situation.”
 “What situation?”
 “When the time comes,” Poseidon said, “I think you’ll know.”
 I closed my hand around the sand dollar, but something was really bothering me.
 “Dad,” I said, “when I was in the maze, I met Antaeus. He said…well, he said he was your favorite son.
He decorated his arena with skulls and—”
 “He dedicated them to me,” Poseidon supplied. “And you are wondering how someone could do
something so horrible in my name.”
 I nodded uncomfortably.
 Poseidon put his weathered hand on my shoulder. “Percy, lesser beings do many horrible things in the
name of the gods. That does not mean we gods approve. The way our sons and daughters act in our
names…well, it usually says more aboutthem  than it does about us. Andyou , Percy, are my favorite
 He smiled, and at that moment, just being in the kitchen with him was the best birthday present I ever
got. Then my mom called from the living room. “Percy? The candles are melting!”
 “You’d better go,” Poseidon said. “But, Percy, one last thing you should know. That incident at Mount
St. Helens…”
 For a second I thought he was talking about Annabeth kissing me, and I blushed, but then I realized he
was talking about something a lot bigger.
 “The eruptions are continuing,” he said. “ Typhon is stirring. It is very likely that soon, in a few months,
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perhaps a year at best, he will escape his bonds.”
 “I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t mean—”
 Poseidon raised his hand. “It is not your fault, Percy. It would’ve happened sooner or later, with Kronos
awakening the ancient monsters. But be aware, ifTyphon  stirs…it will be unlike anything you have faced
before. The first time he appeared, all the forces of Olympus were barely enough to battle him. And
when he stirs again, he will come here, to New York. He will make straight for Olympus.”
 That was just the kind of wonderful news I wanted to get on my birthday, but Poseidon patted me on
the back like everything was fine. “I should go. Enjoy your cake.”
 And just like that he turned to mist and was swept out the window on a warm ocean breeze.
 It took a little work to convince Paul that Poseidon had left via the fire escape, but since people can’t
vanish into thin air, he had no choice but to believe it.
 We ate blue cake and ice cream until we couldn’t eat anymore. Then we played a bunch of cheesy party
games like charades and Monopoly. Tyson didn’t get charades. He kept shouting out the answer he was
trying to mime, but it turned out he was really good at Monopoly. He knocked me out of the game in the
first five rounds and started bankrupting my mom and Paul. I left them playing and went into my
 I set an uneaten slice of blue cake on my dresser. Then I took off my Camp Half-Blood necklace and
laid it on the windowsill. There were three beads now, representing my three summers at camp—a
trident, the Golden Fleece, and the latest: an intricate maze, symbolizing the Battle of the Labyrinth, as the
campers had started to call it. I wondered what next year’s bead would be, if I was still around to get it. If
the camp survived until next summer.
 I looked at the phone by my bedside. I thought about calling Rachel Elizabeth Dare. My mom had asked
me if there was anyone else I wanted to have over tonight, and I’d thought about Rachel. But I didn’t
call. I don’t know why. The idea made me almost as nervous as a door into the Labyrinth.
 I patted my pockets and emptied out my stuff—Riptide, a Kleenex, my apartment key. Then I patted
my shirt pocket and felt a small lump. I hadn’t even realized it, but I was wearing the white cotton shirt
Calypso had given me onOgygia  . I brought out a little piece of cloth, unwrapped it, and found the
clipping of moonlace . It was a tiny sprig, shriveled up after two months, but I could still smell the faint
scent of the enchanted garden. It made me sad.
 I remembered Calypso’s last request of me: Plant a garden in Manhattan for me, will you?  I opened
the window and stepped onto the fire escape.
 My mom kept a planter box out there. In the spring she usually filled it with flowers, but now it was all
dirt, waiting for something new. It was a clear night. The moon was full over Eighty-second Street. I
planted the dried sprig ofmoonlace carefully in the dirt and sprinkled a little nectar on it from my camp
 Nothing happened at first.
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 Then, as I watched, a tiny silver plant sprang out of the soil—a baby moonlace , growing in the warm
summer night.
 “Nice plant,” a voice said.
 I jumped. Nicodi  Angelo was standing on the fire escape right next to me. He’d just appeared there.
 “Sorry,” he said. “Didn’t mean to startle you.”
 “That’s—that’s okay. I mean…what are you doing here?”
 He’d grown about an inch taller over the last couple of months. His hair was a shaggy black mess. He
wore a black T-shirt, black jeans , and a new silver ring shaped like a skull. His Stygian iron sword hung
at his side.
 “I’ve done some exploring,” he said. “Thought you’d like to know, Daedalus got his punishment.”
 “You saw him?”
 Nico nodded. “Minos wanted to boil him in cheese fondue for an eternity, but my father had other ideas.
Daedalus will be building overpasses and exit ramps in Asphodel for all time. It’ll help ease the traffic
congestion. Truthfully, I think the old guy is pretty happy with that. He’s still building. Still creating.  And he
gets to see his son andPerdix on the weekends.”
 “That’s good.”
 Nico tapped at his silver ring. “But that’s not the real reason I’ve come. I’ve found out some things. I
want to make you an offer.”
 “The way to beat Luke,” he said. “If I’m right, it’s the only  way you’ll stand a chance.”
 I took a deep breath. “Okay. I’m listening.”
 Nico glanced inside my room. His eyebrows furrowed. “Is that…is that blue birthday cake?”
 He sounded hungry, maybe a little wistful. I wondered if the poor kid had ever had a birthday party, or if
he’d ever even been invited to one.
 “Come inside for some cake and ice cream,” I said. “It sounds like we’ve got a lot to talk about.”

The Battle of the Labyrinth - Chapter 17

Chapter 17

 We ran until we were exhausted. Rachel steered us away from traps, but we had no destination in
mind—onlyaway from that dark mountain and the roar of Kronos.
 We stopped in a tunnel of wet white rock, like part of a natural cave. I couldn’t hear anything behind us,
but I didn’t feel any safer. I could still remember those unnatural golden eyes staring out of Luke’s face,
and the feeling that my limbs were slowly turning to stone.
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 “I can’t go any farther,” Rachel gasped, hugging her chest.
 Annabeth had been crying the entire time we’d been running. Now she collapsed and put her head
between her knees. Her sobs echoed in the tunnel. Nico and I sat next to each other. He dropped his
sword next to mine and took a shaky breath.
 “That sucked,” he said, which I thought summed things up pretty well.
 “You saved our lives,” I said.
 Nico wiped the dust off his face. “Blame the girls for dragging me along. That’s the only thing they could
agree on. We needed to help you or you’d mess things up.”
 “Nice that they trust me so much,” I shined my flashlight across the cavern. Water dripped from the
stalactites like a slow-motion rain. “Nico…you, uh, kind of gave yourself away.”
 “What do you mean?”
 “That wall of black stone? That was pretty impressive. If Kronos didn’t know who you were before, he
does now—a child of the Underworld.”
 Nico frowned. “Big deal.”
 I let it drop. I figured he was just trying to hide how scared he was, and I couldn’t blame him.
 Annabeth lifted her head. Her eyes were red from crying. “What…what was wrong with Luke? What
did they do to him?”
 I told her what I’d seen in the coffin, the way the last piece ofKronos’s spirit had entered Luke’s body
when Ethan Nakamura pledged his service.
 “No,” Annabeth said. “That can’t be true. He couldn’t—”
 “He gave himself over to Kronos,” I said. “I’m sorry, Annabeth. But Luke is gone.”
 “No!” she insisted. “You saw when Rachel hit him.”
 I nodded, looking at Rachel with respect. “You hit the Lord of the Titans in the eye with a blue plastic
 Rachel looked embarrassed. “It was the only thing I had.”
 “But you saw  ,” Annabeth insisted. “When it hit him, just for a second, he was dazed. He came back to
his senses.”
 “So maybe Kronos wasn’t completely settled in the body, or whatever,” I said. “It doesn’t mean Luke
was in control.”
 “You want  him to be evil, is that it?” Annabeth yelled. “You didn’t know him before, Percy. I did!”
 “What is it with you?” I snapped. “Why do you keep defending him?”
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 “Whoa, you two,” Rachel said. “Knock it off!”
 Annabeth turned on her. “Stay out of it, mortal girl! If it wasn’t for you…”
 Whatever she was going to say, her voice broke. She put her head down and sobbed miserably. I
wanted to comfort her, but I didn’t know how. I still felt stunned, like Kronos’s time-slow effect had
affected my brain. I just couldn’t comprehend what I’d seen. Kronos was alive. He was armed. And the
end of the world was probably close at hand.
 “We have to keep moving,” Nico said. “He’ll send monsters after us.”
 Nobody was in any shape to run, but Nico was right. I hauled myself up and helped Rachel to her feet.
 “You did good back there,” I told her.
 She managed a weak smile. “Yeah, well. I didn’t want you to die.” She blushed. “I mean…just because,
you know. You owe me too many favors.
 How am I going to collect if you die?”
 I knelt next to Annabeth. “Hey, I’m sorry. We need to move.”
 “I know,” she said. “I’m…I’m all right.”
 She was clearlynot all right. But she got to her feet, and we started straggling back through the Labyrinth
 “Back to New York,” I said. “Rachel, can you—”
 I froze. A few feet in front of us, my flashlight beam fixed on a trampled clump of red fabric lying on the
ground. It was a Rasta cap: the one Grover always wore.
 My hands shook as I picked up the cap. It looked like it had been stepped on by a huge muddy boot.
After all that I’d gone through today, I couldn’t stand the thought that something might’ve happened to
Grover, too.
 Then I noticed something else. The cave floor was mushy and wet from the water dripping off the
stalactites. There were large footprints like Tyson’s, and smaller ones—goat hooves—leading off to the
 “We have to follow them,” I said. “They went that way. It must have been recently.”
 “What about Camp Half-Blood?” Nico said. “There’s no time.”
 “We have to find them,” Annabeth insisted. “They’re our friends.”
 She picked up Grover’s smashed cap and forged ahead.
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 I followed bracing myself for the worst. The tunnel was treacherous. It sloped at weird angles and was
slimy with moisture. Half the time we were slipping and sliding rather than walking.
 Finally we got to the bottom of a slope and found ourselves in a large cave with huge stalagmite columns.
Through the center of the room ran an underground river, and Tyson was sitting by the banks, cradling
Grover in his lap. Grover’s eyes were closed. He wasn’t moving.
 “Tyson!” I yelled.
 “Percy! Come quick!”
 We ran over to him. Grover wasn’t dead, thank the gods, but his whole body trembled like he was
freezing to death.
 “What happened?” I asked.
 “So many things,” Tyson murmured. “Large snake.Large dogs.Men with swords. But then…we got
close to here. Grover was excited. He ran. Then we reached this room, and he fell. Like this.”
 “Did he say anything?” I asked.
 “He said, ‘We’re close.’ Then hit his head on rocks.”
 I knelt next to him. The only other time I’d seen Grover pass out was New
 Mexico, when he’d felt the presence of Pan.
 I shined my flashlight around the cavern. The rocks glittered. At the far end was the entrance to another
cave, flanked by gigantic columns of crystal that looked like diamonds. And beyond that entrance…
 “Grover,” I said. “Wake up.”
 “ Uhhhhhhhh.”
 Annabeth knelt next to him and splashed icy cold river water in his face.
 “ Splurg!” His eyelids fluttered. “Percy? Annabeth? Where…”
 “It’s okay,” I said. “You passed out. The presence was too much for you.”
 “I—I remember. Pan.”
 “Yeah,” I said. “Something powerful is just beyond that doorway.”
 I made quick introductions, since Tyson and Grover had never met Rachel. Tyson told Rachel she was
pretty, which made Annabeth’s nostrils flare like she was going to blow fire.
 “Anyway,” I said. “Come on, Grover. Lean on me.”
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 Annabeth and I helped him up, and together we waded across the underground river. The current was
strong. The water came up to our waists. I willed myself to stay dry, which is a handy little ability, but that
didn’t help the others, and I could still feel the cold, like wading through a snowdrift.
 “I think we’re in Carlsbad Caverns,” Annabeth said, her teeth chattering. “Maybe an unexplored
 “How do you know?”
 “Carlsbad is in New Mexico,” she said. “That would explain last winter.”
 I nodded. Grover’s swooning episode had happened when we passed through New Mexico. That’s
where he’d felt closest to the power of Pan.
 We got out of the water and kept walking. As the crystal pillars loomed larger, I started to feel the
power emanating from the next room. I’d been in the presence of gods before, but this was different. My
skin tingled with living energy. My weariness fell away, as if I’d just gotten a good night’s sleep. I could
feel myself growing stronger, like one of those plants in a time-lapse video. And the scent coming from
the cave was nothing like the dank wet underground. It smelled of trees and flowers and a warm summer
 Grover whimpered with excitement. I was too stunned to talk. Even Nico seemed speechless. We
stepped into the cave, and Rachel said, “Oh, wow.”
 The walls glittered with crystals—red, green, and blue. In the strange light, beautiful plants grew—giant
orchids, star-shaped flowers, vines bursting with orange and purple berries that crept among the crystals.
The cave floor was covered with green moss. Overhead, the ceiling was higher than a cathedral,
sparkling like a galaxy of stars. In the center of the cave stood a Roman-style bed, gilded wood shaped
like a curly U, with velvet cushions. Animals lounged around it—but they were animals that shouldn’t
have been alive. There was a dodo bird, something that looked like a cross between a wolf and a tiger, a
huge rodent like the mother of all guinea pigs, and roaming behind the bed, picking berries with its trunk,
was a wooly mammoth.
 On the bed lay an old satyr. He watched us as we approached, his eyes as blue as the sky. His curly
hair was white and so was his pointed beard. Even the goat fur on his legs was frosted with gray. His
horns were enormous— glossy brown and curved. There was no way he could’ve hidden those under a
hat the way Grover did. Around his neck hung a set of reed pipes.
 Grover fell to his knees in front of the bed. “Lord Pan!”
 The god smiled kindly, but there was sadness in his eyes. “Grover, my dear, brave satyr.  I have waited a
very long time for you.”
 “I…got lost,” Grover apologized.
 Pan laughed. It was a wonderful sound, like the first breeze of springtime, filling the whole cavern with
hope. The tiger-wolf sighed and rested his head on the god’s knee. The dodo bird pecked affectionately
at the god’s hooves, making a strange sound in the back of its bill. I could swear it was humming “It’s a
Small World.”
 Still, Pan looked tired. His whole form shimmered as if he were made of Mist.
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 I noticed my other friends were kneeling. They had awed looks on their faces. I got to my knees.
 “You have a humming dodo bird,” I said stupidly.
 The god’s eyes twinkled. “Yes, that’s Dede . My little actress.”
 Dede the dodo looked offended. She pecked at Pan’s knee and hummed something that sounded like a
funeral dirge.
 “This is the most beautiful place!” Annabeth said. “It’s better than any building ever designed.”
 “I am glad you like it, dear,” Pan said. “It is one of the last wild places. My realm above is gone, I’m
afraid. Only pockets remain. Tiny pieces of life.  This one shall stay undisturbed…for a little longer.”
 “My lord,” Grover said, “please, you must come back with me! The Elders will never believe it! They’ll
be overjoyed! You can save the wild!”
 Pan placed his hand on Grover’s head and ruffled his curly hair. “You are so young, Grover. So good
and true. I think I chose well.”
 “Chose?” Grover said. “I—I don’t understand.”
 Pan’s image flickered, momentarily turning to smoke. The giant guinea pig scuttled under the bed with a
terrified squeal. The wooly mammoth grunted nervously.Dede stuck her head under her wing. Then Pan
 “I have slept many eons,” the god said forlornly. “My dreams have been dark. I wake fitfully, and each
time my waking is shorter. Now we are near the end.”
 “What?” Grover cried. “But no! You’re right here!”
 “My dear satyr,” Pan said. “I tried to tell the world, two thousand years ago. I announced it to Lysas , a
satyr very much like you. he  lived in Ephesos , and he tried to spread the word.”
 Annabeth’s eyes widened.“The old story.  A sailor passing by the coast ofEphesos heard a voice crying
from the shore, ‘Tell them the great god Pan is dead.’”
 “But that wasn’t true!” Grover said.
 “Your kind never believed it,” Pan said. “You sweet, stubborn satyrs refused to accept my passing. And
I love you for that, but you only delayed the inevitable. You only prolonged my long, painful passing, my
dark twilight sleep. It must end.”
 “No!” Grover’s voice trembled.
 “Dear Grover,” Pan said. “You must accept the truth. Your companion, Nico, he understands.”
 Nico nodded slowly. “He’s dying. He should have died long ago. This…this is more like a memory.”
 “But gods can’t die,” Grover said.
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 “They can fade,” Pan said, “when everything they stood for is gone. When they cease to have power,
and their sacred places disappear.  The wild, my dear Grover, is so small now, so shattered, that no god
can save it. My realm is gone. That is why I need you to carry a message. You must go back to the
council. You must tell the satyrs, and the dryads, and the other spirits of nature, that the great god Panis
dead. Tell them of my passing.Because they must stop waiting for me to save them.  I cannot. The only
salvation you must make yourself. Each of you must—”
 He stopped and frowned at the dodo bird, who had started humming again.
 “ Dede, what are you doing?” Pan demanded. “Are you singingKumbaya  again?”
 Dede looked up innocently and blinked her yellow eyes.
 Pan sighed. “Everybody’s a cynic. But as I was saying, my dear Grover, each of you must take up my
 “But…no!” Grover whimpered.
 “Be strong,” Pan said. “You have found me. And now you must release me. You must carry on my
spirit. It can no longer be carried by a god. It must be taken up by all of you.”
 Pan looked straight at me with his clear blue eyes, and I realized he wasn’t just talking about satyrs. He
meant half-bloods, too, and humans.Everyone.
 “Percy Jackson,” the god said. “I know what you have seen today. I know your doubts. But I give you
this news: when the time comes, you will not be ruled by fear.”
 He turned to Annabeth. “Daughter of Athena, your time is coming. You will play a great role, though it
may not be the role you imagined.”
 Then he looked at Tyson. “Master Cyclops, do not despair. Heroes rarely live up to our expectations.
But you, Tyson—your name shall live among the Cyclopes for generations. And Miss Rachel Dare…”
 Rachel flinched when he said her name. She backed up like she was guilty of something, but Pan only
smiled. He raised his hand in a blessing.
 “I know you believe you cannot make amends,” he said. “But you are just as important as your father.”
 “I—” Rachel faltered. A tear traced her cheek.
 “I know you don’t believe this now,” Pan said. “But look for opportunities. They will come.”
 Finally he turned back toward Grover. “My dear satyr,” Pan said kindly, “will you carry my message?”
 “I—I can’t.”
 “You can,” Pan said. “You are the strongest and the bravest. Your heart is true. You have believed in
me more than anyone ever has, which is why you must bring the message, and why you must be the first
to release me.”
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 “I don’t want to.”
 “I know,” the god said. “But my name, Pan  …originally it meant rustic . Did you know that? But over
the years it has come to meanall . The spirit of the wild must pass to all of you now. You must tell each
one you meet: if you would find Pan, take up Pan’s spirit. Remake the wild, a little at a time, each in your
own corner of the world. You cannot wait for anyone else, even a god, to do that for you.”
 Grover wiped his eyes. Then slowly he stood. “I’ve spent my whole life looking for you. Now…I
release you.”
 Pan smiled. “Thank you, dear satyr. My final blessing.”
 He closed his eyes, and the god dissolved. White mist divided into wisps of energy, but this kind of
energy wasn’t scary like the blue power I’d seen from Kronos. It filled the room. A curl of smoke went
straight into my mouth, and Grover’s and the others. But I think a little more of it went into Grover. The
crystals dimmed. The animals gave us a sad look. Dede the dodo sighed. Then they all turned gray and
crumbled to dust. The vines withered. And we were alone in a dark cave, with an empty bed.
 I switched on my flashlight.
 Grover took a deep breath.
 “Are…are you okay?” I asked him.
 He looked older and sadder. He took his cap from Annabeth, brushed off the mud, and stuck it firmly
on his curly head.
 “We should go now,” he said, “and tell them. The great god Pan is dead.”

The Battle of the Labyrinth - Chapter 18

Chapter 18

 D istance was shorter in the Labyrinth. Still, by the time Rachel got us back to Times Square, I felt like
we’d pretty much run all the way from New Mexico. We climbed out of the Marriott basement and
stood on the sidewalk in the bright summer daylight, squinting at the traffic and crowds.
 I couldn’t decide which seemed less real—New York or the crystal cave where I’d watched a god die.
 I led the way into an alley, where I could get a nice echo. Then I whistled as loud as I could, five times.
 A minute later, Rachel gasped. “They’re beautiful!”
 A flock ofpegasi descended from the sky, swooping between the skyscrapers. Blackjack was in the
lead, followed by four of his white friends.
 Yo , boss! He spoke in my mind.You lived!
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 “Yeah,” I told him. “I’m lucky that way. Listen, we need a ride to campquick .”
 That’s my specialty! Oh man, you got that Cyclops with you? Yo , Guido! How’s your back holding up?
 The Pegasus Guido groaned and complained, but eventually he agreed to carry Tyson. Everybody
started saddling up—except Rachel.
 “Well,” she told me, “I guess this is it.”
 I nodded uncomfortably. We both knew she couldn’t go to camp. I glanced at Annabeth, who was
pretending to be very busy with her Pegasus.
 “Thanks, Rachel,” I said. “We couldn’t have done it without you.”
 “I wouldn’t have missed it. I mean, except for almost dying, and Pan…” Her voice faltered.
 “He said something about your father,” I remembered. “What did he mean?”
 Rachel twisted the strap on her backpack.“My dad…My dad’s job.  He’s kind of a famous
 “You mean…you’re rich  ?”
 “Well, yeah.”
 “So that’s how you got the chauffeur to help us? You just said your dad’s name and—”
 “Yes,” Rachel cut me off. “Percy…my dad’s a land developer. He flies all over the world, looking for
tracts of undeveloped land.” She took a shaky breath.“The wild.  He—he buys it up. I hate it, but he
plows it down and builds ugly subdivisions and shopping centers. And now that I’ve seen Pan…Pan’s
 “Hey, you can’t blame yourself for that.”
 “You don’t know the worst of it. I—I don’t like to talk about my family. I didn’t want you to know. I’m
sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything.”
 “No,” I said. “It’s cool. Look, Rachel, you did awesome. You led us through the maze. You were so
brave. That’s the only thing I’m going to judge you on. I don’t care what your dad does.”
 Rachel looked at me gratefully. “Well…if you ever feel like hanging out with a mortal again…you could
call me or something.”
 “Uh, yeah. Sure.”
 She knit her eyebrows. I guess I sounded unenthusiastic or something, but that’s not how I meant it. I
just wasn’t sure what to say with all my friends standing around. And I guess my feelings had gotten
pretty missed up the last couple of days.
 “I mean…I’d like that,” I said.
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 “My number’s not in the book,” she said.
 “I’ve got it.”
 “Still on your hand? No way.”
 “No. I kinda …memorized it.”
 Her smile came back slowly, but a lot happier. “See you later, Percy Jackson. Go save the world for
me, okay?”
 She walked off down Seventh Avenue and disappeared into the crowds.
 When I got back to the horses. Nico was having trouble. His Pegasus kept shying away from him,
reluctant to let him mount.
 He smells like dead people! The Pegasus complained.
 Hey now, Blackjack said. Come on, Porkpie.Lotsa demigods smell weird. It ain’t their fault.
Oh—uh, I didn’t mean you, boss.
 “Go without me!” Nico said. “I don’t want to go back to that camp anyway.”
 “Nico,” I said, “we need your help.”
 He folded his arms and scowled. Then Annabeth put her hand on his shoulder.
 “Nico,” she said. “Please.”
 Slowly, his expression softened. “All right,” he said reluctantly. “For you . but I’m not staying.”
 I raised an eyebrow at Annabeth, like, How come all of a sudden Nico listens to you? She stuck her
tongue out at me.
 At last we got everybody on a Pegasus. We shot into the air, and soon we were over the East river with
Long Island spread out before us.
 We landed in the middle of the cabin area and were immediately met by Chiron, the potbellied satyr
Silenus, and a couple of Apollo cabin archers. Chiron raised an eyebrow when he saw Nico, but if I
expected him to be surprised by our latest news about Quintus being Daedalus, or Kronos rising, I was
 “I feared as much,” Chiron said. “We must hurry. Hopefully you have slowed down the Titan lord, but
his vanguard will still be coming through. They will be anxious for blood. Most of our defenders are
already in place. Come!”
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 “Wait a moment,” Silenus demanded. “What of the search for Pan? You are almost three weeks
overdue, Grover Underwood! Your searcher’s license is revoked!”
 Grover took a deep breath. He stood up straight and looked Silenus in the eye. “Searcher’s licenses
don’t matter any more. The great god Pan is dead. He has passed on and left us his spirit.”
 “What?” Silenus’sface turned bright red. “Sacrilege and lies! Grover Underwood, I will have you exiled
for speaking thus!”
 “It’s true,” I said. “We were there when he died. All of us.”
 “Impossible! You are all liars! Nature-destroyers!”
 Chiron studied Grover’s face. “We will speak of this later.”
 “We will speak of it now!” Silenus said. “We must deal with this—”
 “Silenus,” Chiron cut in. “My camp is under attack. The matter of Pan has waited two thousand years. I
fear it will have to wait a bit longer. Assuming we are still here this evening.”
 And on that happy note, he readied his bow and galloped toward the woods, leaving us to follow as
best we could.
 It was the biggest military operation I’d ever seen at camp. Everyone was at the clearing, dressed in full
battle armor, but this time it wasn’t for capture the flag. The Hephaestus cabin had set up traps around
the entrance to the Labyrinth—razor wire, pits filled with pots of Greek fire, rows of sharpened sticks to
deflect a charge.Beckendorf was manning two catapults the size of pickup trucks, already primed and
aimed at Zeus’s Fist. The Ares cabin was on the front line, drilling in phalanx formation with Clarisse
calling orders. Apollo’s and Hermes’s cabins were scattered in the woods with bows ready. Many had
taken up positions in the trees. Even the dryads were armed with bows, and the satyrs trotted around
with wooden cudgels and shields made of rough tree bark.
 Annabeth went to join her brethren from the Athena cabin, who had set up a command tent and were
directing operations. A gray banner with an owl fluttered outside the tent. Our security chief, Argus,
stood guard at the door. Aphrodite’s children were running around straightening everybody’s armor and
offering to comb the tangles out of our horsehair plumes. Even Dionysus’s kids had found something to
do. The god himself was still nowhere to be seen, but his two blond twin sons were running around
providing all the sweaty warriors with water bottles and juice boxes.
 It looked like a pretty good setup, but Chiron muttered next to me. “It isn’t enough.”
 I thought about what I’d seen in the Labyrinth, all the monsters in Antaeus’s  stadium, and the power of
Kronos I’d felt of Mt. Tam. My heart sank. Chiron was right, but it was all we could muster. For once I
wished Dionysus was here, but even if he had been, I didn’t know if he could do anything. When it came
to war, gods were forbidden to interfere directly. Apparently, the Titans didn’t believe in restrictions like
 Over at the edge of the clearing, Grover was talking to Juniper. She held his hands while he told her our
story. Green tears formed in her eyes as he delivered the news about Pan.
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 Tyson helped the Hephaestus kids prepare the defenses. He picked up boulders and piled them next to
the catapults for firing.
 “Stay with me, Percy,” Chiron said. “When the fighting begins, I want you to wait until we know what
we’re dealing with. You must go where we most need reinforcements.”
 “I saw Kronos,” I said, still stunned by the fact. “I looked straight into his eyes. It was Luke…but it
 Chiron ran his fingers along his bowstring. “He had golden eyes, I would guess. And in his presence,
time seemed to turn to liquid.”
 I nodded. “How could he take over a mortal body?”
 “I do not know, Percy. Gods have assumed the shapes of mortals for ages, but to actually become
one…to merge the divine form with the mortal. I don’t know how this could be done without Luke’s
form turning into ashes.”
 “Kronos said his body had been prepared.”
 “I shudder to think what that means. But perhaps it will limit Kronos’s power. For a time, at least, he is
confined to a human form. It binds him together. Hopefully it also restricts him.”
 “Chiron, if he leads the attack—”
 “I do not think so, my boy. I would sense if he were drawing near. No doubt he planned to, but I
believe you inconvenienced him when you pulled down his throne room on top of him.” He looked at me
reproachfully.“You and your friend Nico, son of Hades.”
 A lump formed in my throat. “I’m sorry, Chiron. I know I should’ve told you. It’s just—”
 Chiron raised his hand. “I understand why you did it, Percy. You felt responsible. You sought to protect
him. But, my boy, if we are to survive this war, we must trust each other. We must…”
 His voice wavered. The ground underneath us was trembling.
 Everyone in the clearing stopped what they were doing. Clarisse barked a single order: “Lock shields!”
 Then the Titan lord’s army exploded from the Labyrinth.
 I mean I’d been in fights before, but this was a full-scale battle. The first thing I saw were a dozen
Laistrygonian giants erupting from the ground, yelling so loudly my ears felt like bursting. They carried
shields made from flattened cars, and clubs that were tree trunks with rusty spikes bristling at the end.
One of the giants bellowed at the Ares phalanx, smashed it sideways with his club, and the entire cabin
was thrown aside, a dozen warriors tossed to the wind like rag dolls.
 “Fire!” Beckendorfyelled. The catapults swung into action. Two boulders hurtled toward the giants. One
deflected off a car shield with hardly a dent, but the other caught a Laistrygonian in the chest, and the giant
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went down. Apollo’s archers fired a volley, dozens of arrows sticking in the thick armor of the giants like
porcupine quills. Several found chinks in armor, and some of the giants vaporized at the touch of celestial
 But just when it looked like the Laistrygonians were about to get overwhelmed, the next wave surged out
of the maze: thirty, maybe forty dracaenae in full battle armor, wielding spears and nets. They dispersed
in all directions. Some hit the traps the Hephaestus cabin had laid. One got struck on the spikes and
became an easy target for archers. Another triggered a trip wire, and pots of Greek fire exploded into
green flames, engulfing several of the snake women. But many more kept coming. Argus and Athena’s
warriors rushed forward to meet them. I saw Annabeth draw a sword and engage one of them. Nearby,
Tyson was riding a giant. Somehow he’d managed to climb onto the giant’s back and was hitting him on
the head with a bronze shield— BONG! BONG! BONG!
 Chiron calmly aimed arrow after arrow, taking down a monster with every shot. But more enemies just
kept climbing out of the maze. Finally a hellhound—not Mrs. O’Leary—leaped out of the tunnel and
barreled straight toward the satyrs.
 “GO!” Chiron yelled at me.
 I drew Riptide and charged.
 As I raced across the battlefield, I saw horrible things. An enemy half-blood was fighting with a son of
Dionysus, but it wasn’t much of a contest. The enemy stabbed him in the arm then clubbed him over the
head with the butt of his sword, and Dionysus’s son went down. Another enemy warrior shot flaming
arrows into the trees, sending our archers and dryads into a panic.
 A dozen dracaenae suddenly broke away from the main fight and slithered down the path that led
toward camp, like they knew where they were going. If they got out, they could burn down the entire
place, completely unopposed.
 The only person anywhere near was Nico di  Angelo. He stabbed a telekhine  , and his black Stygian blade
absorbed the monster’s essence, drinking its energy until there was nothing left but dust.
 “Nico!”I yelled.
 He looked where I was pointing, saw the serpent women, and immediately understood.
 He took a deep breath and held out his black sword. “Serve me,” he called.
 The earth trembled. A fissure opened in front of the dracaenae , and a dozen undead warriors crawled
from the earth—horrible corpses in military uniforms from all different time periods—U.S.
Revolutionaries, Roman centurions, Napoleonic cavalry on skeletal horses. As one, they drew their
swords and engaged thedracaenae . Nico crumpled to his knees, but I didn’t have time to make sure he
was okay.
 I closed on the hellhound, which was now pushing the satyrs back toward the woods. The beast
snapped at one satyr, who danced out of its way, but then it pounced on another who was too slow. The
satyr’s tree-bark shield cracked as he fell.
 “Hey!” I yelled.
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 The hellhound turned. It snarled at me and leaped. It would’ve clawed me to pieces, but as I fell
backward, my fingers closed around a clay jar—one of Beckendorf’s containers of Greek fire. I tossed it
into the hellhound’s maw, and the creature went up in flames. I scrambled away, breathing heavily.
 The satyr who’d gotten trampled wasn’t moving. I rushed over to check on him, but then I heard
Grover’s voice: “Percy!”
 A forest fire had started. Flames roared within ten feet of Juniper’s tree, and Juniper and Grover were
going nuts trying to save it. Grover played a rain song on his pipes. Juniper desperately tried to beat out
the flames with her green shawl, but it was only making things worse.
 I ran toward them, jumping past duels, weaving between the legs of giants. The nearest water was the
creek, half a mile away…but I had to do something. I concentrated. There was a pull in my gut, a roar in
my ears. Then a wall of water came rushing through the trees. It doused the fire, Juniper, Grover, and
pretty much everything else.
 Grover blew a spout of water. “Thanks, Percy!”
 “No problem!” I ran back toward the fight, and Grover and Juniper followed. Grover had a cudgel in his
hand and Juniper held a stick—like an old-fashioned whipping switch. She looked really angry, like she
was going to tan somebody’s backside.
 Just when it seemed like the battle had balanced out again—like we might stand a chance—an unearthly
shriek echoed out of the Labyrinth, a sound I had heard before.
 Kampêshot into the sky, her bat wings fully extended. She landed on the top of Zeus’s Fist and
surveyed the carnage. Her face was filled with evil glee. The mutant animal heads growled at her waist.
Snakes hissed and swirled around her legs. In her right hand she held a glittering ball of thread—
Ariadne’sstring—but she popped it into a lion’s mouth at her waist and drew her curved swords. The
blades glowed green with poison. Kampê  screeched in triumph, and some of the campers screamed.
Others tried to run and got trampled by hellhounds or giants.
 “ Di Immortales!” Chiron yelled. He quickly aimed an arrow, butKampê  seemed to sense his presence.
She took flight with amazing speed, and Chrion’s arrow whizzed harmlessly past her head.
 Tyson untangled himself from the giant whom he’d pummeled into unconsciousness. He ran at our lines,
shouting,“ Stand! Do not run from her! Flight!”
 But then a hellhound leaped on him, and Tyson and the hound went rolling away.
 Kampêlanded on the Athena command tent, smashing it flat. I ran after her and found Annabeth at my
side, keeping pace, her sword in her hand.
 “This might be it,” she said.
 “Could be.”
 “Nice fighting with you, Seaweed Brain.”
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 Together we leaped into the monster’s path. Kampê  hissed and sliced at us. I dodged, trying to distract
her, while Annabeth went in for a strike, but the monster seemed able to fight with both hands
independently. She blocked Annabeth’s sword, and Annabeth had to jump back to avoid the cloud of
poison. Just being near the thing was like standing in an acid fog. My eyes burned. My lungs couldn’t get
enough air. I knew we couldn’t stand our ground for more than a few seconds.
 “Come on!” I shouted. “We need help!”
 But no help came. Everyone was either down, or fighting for their lives, or too scared to move forward.
Three of Chiron’s arrows sprouted fromKampê’s chest, but she just roared louder.
 “Now!” Annabeth said.
 Together we charged, dodged the monster’s slashes, got inside her guard, and almost… almost managed
to stab Kampê  in the chest, but a huge bear’s head lashed out from the monster’s waist, and we had to
stumble backward to avoid getting bitten.
 My eyesight went black. The next thing I knew,Annnabeth and I were on the ground. The monster had
its forelegs on our chests, holding us down. Hundreds of snakes slithered right above me, hissing like
laughter.Kampê  raised her green-tinged swords, and I knew Annabeth and I were out of options.
 Then, behind me, something howled. A wall of darkness slammed into Kampê  , sending the monster
sideways. And Mrs. O’Leary was standing over us, snarling and snapping at Kampê  .
 “Good girl!” said a familiar voice. Daedalus was fighting his way out of the Labyrinth, slashing down
enemies left and right as he made his way toward us. Next to him was someone else—a familiar giant,
much taller than theLaistrygonians , with a hundred rippling arms, each holding a huge chunk of rock.
 “Briares!”Tyson cried in wonder.
 “Hail, little brother!” Briares bellowed. “Stand firm!”
 And as Mrs. O’Leary leaped out of the way, the Hundred-Handed One launched a volley of boulders at
Kampê  . The rocks seemed to enlarge as they left Briares’s hands. There were so many, it looked like
half the earth had learned to fly.
 Where Kampê  had stood a moment before was a mountain of boulders, almost as tall as Zeus’s Fist.
The only sign that the monster had ever existed were two green sword points sticking through the cracks.
 A cheer went up from the campers, but our enemies weren’t done yet. One of the dracaenae yelled, “
Ssssslaythem! Kill them all or Kronossss will flay you alive!”
 Apparently, that threat was more terrifying than we were. The giants surged forward in a last desperate
attempt. One surprised Chiron with a glancing blow to the back legs, and he stumbled and fell. Six giants
cried in glee and rushed forward.
 “No!” I screamed, but I was too far away to help.
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 Then it happened. Grover opened his mouth, and the most horrible sound I’d ever heard came out. It
was like a brass trumpet magnified a thousand times—the sound of pure fear.
 As one, the forces of Kronos dropped their weapons and ran for their lives. The giants trampled the
dracaenae trying to get into the Labyrinth first. Telekhines and hellhounds and enemy half-bloods
scrambled after them. The tunnel rumbled shut, and the battle was over. The clearing was quiet except
for the fires burning in the woods, and the cries of the wounded.
 I helped Annabeth to her feet. We ran to Chiron.
 “Are you all right?” I asked.
 He was lying on his side, trying in vain to get up. “How embarrassing,” he muttered. “I think I will be
fine. Fortunately, we do not shoot centaurs with broken… Ow ! …broken legs.
 “You need help,” Annabeth said. “I’ll get a medic from Apollo’s cabin.”
 “No,” Chiron insisted. “There are more serious injuries to attend to. Go! I am fine. But, Grover…later
we must talk about how you did that.”
 “That was amazing,” I agreed. Grover blushed. “I don’t know where it came from.” Juniper hugged him
fiercely. “I do!” Before she could say more, Tyson called, “Percy, come quick! It is Nico!”
 There was smoke curling off his black clothes. His fingers were clenched, and the grass all around his
body had turned yellow and died.
 I rolled him over as gently as I could and put my against  his chest. His heart was beating faintly. “Get
some nectar!” I yelled.
 One of the Ares campers hobbled over and handed me a canteen. I trickled some of the magic drink
into Nico’s mouth. He coughed and spluttered, but his eyelids fluttered open.
 “Nico, what happened?” I asked. “Can you talk?”
 He nodded weakly. “Never tried to summon so many before. I—I’ll be fine.”
 We helped him sit up and gave him some more nectar. He blinked at all of us, like he was trying to
remember who we were, and then he focused on someone behind me.
 “Daedalus,” he croaked.
 “Yes, my boy,” the inventor said. “I made a very bad mistake. I came to correct it.”
 Daedalus had a few scratches that were bleeding golden oil, but he looked better than most of us.
Apparently his automaton body healed itself quickly. Mrs. O’Leary loomed behind him, licking the
wounds on her master’s head soDaedalus’s hair stood up funny. Briares stood next to him, surrounded
by a group of awed campers and satyrs. He looked kind of bashful, but he was signing autographs on
armor, shields, and T-shirts.
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 “I found the Hundred-Handed One as I came through the maze,” Daedalus explained. “It seems he had
the same idea, to come help, but he was lost. And so we fell in together. We both came to make
 “ Yay!” Tyson jumped up and down. “Briares! I knew you would come!”
 “I did not know,” the Hundred-Handed One said. “But you reminded me who I am, Cyclops. You are
the hero.”
 Tyson blushed, but I patted him on the back. “I knew that a long time ago,” I said. “But, Daedalus…the
Titan army is still down there. Even without the string, they’ll be back. They’ll find a way sooner or later,
with Kronos leading them.”
 Daedalus sheathed his sword. “You are right. As long as the Labyrinth is here, your enemies can use it.
Which is why the Labyrinth cannot continue. ”
 Annabeth stared at him. “But you said the Labyrinth is tied to your life force! As long as you’re alive—”
 “Yes, my young architect,” Daedalus agreed. “When I die, the Labyrinth will die as well. And so I have
a present for you.”
 He slung a leather satchel off his back, unzipped it, and produced a sleek silver laptop computer—one
of the ones I’d seen in the workshop. On the lid was the blue symbol ?.
 “My work is here,” he said. “It’s all I managed to save from the fire. Notes on projects I never started.
Some of my favorite designs.  I couldn’t develop these over the last few millennia. I did not dare reveal
my work to the mortal world. But perhaps you will find it interesting.”
 He handed the computer to Annabeth, who stared at it like it was solid gold. “You’re giving me this? But
this is priceless! This is worth…I don’t even know how much!”
 “Small compensation for the way I have acted,” Daedalus said. “You were right, Annabeth, about
children of Athena. We should be wise, and I was not. Someday you will be a greater architect than I
ever was. Take my ideas and improve them. It is the least I can do before I pass on.”
 “Whoa,” I said. “Pass on? But you can’t just kill yourself. That’s wrong.”
 He shook his head. “Not as wrong as hiding from my crimes for two thousand years. Genius does not
excuse evil, Percy. My time has come. I must face my punishment.”
 “You won’t get a fair trial,” Annabeth said. “The spirit of Minos sits in judgment—”
 “I will take what comes,” he said. “And trust in the justice of the Underworld, such as it is. That is all we
can do, isn’t it?”
 He looked straight at Nico, andNico’s face darkened.
 “Yes,” he said.
 “Will you take my soul for ransom, then?” Daedalus asked. “You could use it to reclaim your sister.”
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 “No,” Nico said. “I will help you release your spirit. But Bianca has passed. She must stay where she
 Daedalus nodded. “Well done, son of Hades. You are becoming wise.” Then he turned toward me.
“One last favor, Percy Jackson.  I cannot leave Mrs. O’Leary alone. And she has no desire to return to
the Underworld. Will you care for her?”
 I looked at the massive black hound, who whimpered pitifully, still licking Daedalus’s hair. I was thinking
that my mom’s apartment wouldn’t allow dogs, especially dogs bigger than the apartment, but I said,
“Yeah. Of course I will.”
 “Then I am ready to see my son…and Perdix ,” he said. “I must tell them how sorry I am.”
 Annabeth had tears in her eyes.
 Daedalus turned toward Nico, who drew his sword. At first I was afraid Nico would kill the old
inventor, but he simply said, “Your time is long since come. Be released and rest.”
 A smile of relief spread across Daedalus’s face. He froze like a statue. His skin turned transparent,
revealing the bronze gears and machinery whirring inside his body. Then the statue turned to gray ash and
 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 Titan’s 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.”

The Battle of the Labyrinth - Chapter 15

Chapter 15

 “This way!” Rachel yelled.
 “Why should we follow you?” Annabeth demanded. “You led us straight into that death trap!”
 “It was the way you needed to go,” Rachel said. “And so is this. Come on!”
 Annabeth didn’t look happy about it, but she ran along with the rest of us. Rachel seemed to know
exactly where she was going. She whipped around corners and didn’t even hesitate at crossroads. Once
she said, “Duck!” and we all crouched as a huge axe swung over our heads. Then we kept going as if
nothing had happened.
 I lost track of how many turns we made. We didn’t stop to rest until we came to a room the size of a
gymnasium with old marble columns holding up the roof. I stood at the doorway, listening for sounds of
pursuit, but I heard nothing. Apparently we’d lost Luke and his minions in the maze.
 Then I realized something else: Mrs. O’Leary was gone. I didn’t know when she’d disappeared. I didn’t
know of she’d gotten lost or been overrun by monsters or what. My heart turned to lead. She’d saved
our lives, and I hadn’t even waited to make sure she was following us.
 Ethan collapsed on the floor. “You people are crazy.” He pulled off his helmet. His face gleamed with
 Annabeth gasped. “I remember you! You were one of the undetermined kids in the Hermes cabin, years
 He glared at her. “Yeah, and you’re Annabeth. I remember.”
 “What—what happened to your eye?”
 Ethan looked away, and I got the feeling that was one subject he wouldnot discuss.
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 “You must be the half-blood from my dream,” I said. “The one Luke’s people cornered. It wasn’t Nico
after all.”
 “Who’s Nico?”
 “Never mind,” Annabeth said quickly. “Why were you trying to join up with the wrong side?”
 Ethan sneered. “There’s no right side. The gods never cared about us. Why shouldn’t I—”
 “Sign up with an army that makes you fight to the death for entertainment?” Annabeth said. “Gee, I
 Ethan struggled to his feet. “I’m not going to argue with you. Thanks for the help, but I’m out of here.”
 “We’re going after Daedalus,” I said. “Come with us. Once we get through, you’d be welcome back at
 “You really are crazy if you think Daedalus will help you.”
 “He has to,” Annabeth said. “We’ll make him listen.”
 Ethan snorted. “Yeah, well. Good luck with that.”
 I grabbed his arm. “You’re just going to head off alone into the maze? That’s suicide.”
 He looked at me with barely controlled anger. His eye patch was frayed around the edges and the black
cloth was faded, like he’d been wearing it a long, long time. “You shouldn’t have spared me, Jackson.
Mercy has no place in this war.”
 Then he ran off into the darkness, back the way we’d come.
 Annabeth, Rachel, and I were so exhausted we made camp right there in the huge room. I found some
scrap wood and we started a fire. Shadows danced off the columns rising around us like trees.
 “Something was wrong with Luke,” Annabeth muttered, poking at the fire with her knife. “Did you
notice the way he was acting?”
 “He looked pretty pleased to me,” I said. “Like he’d spent a nice day torturing heroes.”
 “That’s not true! There was something wrong with him. He looked…nervous. He told his monsters to
spare me. He wanted to tell me something.”
 “Probably, ‘Hi, Annabeth! Sit here with me and watch while I tear your friends apart. It’ll be fun!’”
 “You’re impossible,” Annabeth grumbled. She sheathed her dagger and looked at Rachel.“So which
way now, Sacagawea?”
 Rachel didn’t respond right away. She’d become quieter since the arena. Now, whenever Annabeth
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made a sarcastic comment, Rachel hardly bothered to answer. She’d burned the tip of a stick in the fire
and was using it to draw ash figures on the floor, images of the monsters we’d seen. With a few strokes,
she caught the likeness of adracaena  perfectly.
 “We’ll follow the path,” she said. “The brightness on the floor.”
 “The brightness that led us straight into a trap?” Annabeth asked.
 “Lay off her, Annabeth,” I said. “She’s doing the best she can.”
 Annabeth stood. “The fire’s getting low. I’ll go look for some more scraps while you guys talk strategy.”
And she marched off into the shadows.
 Rachel drew another figure with her stick—an ashy Antaeus dangling from his chains.
 “Annabeth’s usually not like this,” I told her. “I don’t know what her problem is.”
 Rachel raised her eyebrows. “Are you sure you don’t know?”
 “What do you mean?”
 “Boys,” she muttered. “Totally blind.”
 “Hey, don’t you get on my case, too! Look, I’m sorry I got you involved in this.”
 “No, you were right,” she said. “I can see the path. I can’t explain it, but it’s really clear.” She pointed
toward the other end of the room, into the darkness. “The workshop is that way.The heart of the maze.
We’re very close now. I don’t know why the path led through that arena. I—I’m sorry about that. I
thought you were going to die.”
 She sounded like she was close to crying.
 “Hey, I’m usually about to die,” I promised. “Don’t feel bad.”
 She studied my face. “So you do this every summer? Fight monsters? Save the world? Don’t you ever
get to do just, you know, normal stuff?”
 I’d never really thought about it like that. The last time I’d had something like a normal life had
been…well, never. “Half-bloods get used to it, I guess. Or maybe not used to it, but…” I shifted
uncomfortably. “What about you? What do you do normally?”
 Rachel shrugged. “I paint. I read a lot.”
 Okay, I thought. So far we are scoring a zero on the similarities chart. “What about your family?”
 I could sense her mental shields going up, like this was not a safe subject. “Oh…they’re just, you know,
 “You said they wouldn’t notice if you were gone.”
 She set down her drawing stick. “Wow, I’m really tired. I may sleep for a while, okay?”
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 “Oh, sure.Sorry if…”
 But Rachel was already curling up, using her backpack as a pillow. She closed her eyes and lay very
still, but I got the feeling she wasn’t really asleep.
 A few minutes later, Annabeth came back. She tossed some more sticks on the fire. She looked at
Rachel, then at me.
 “I’ll take first watch,” she said. “You should sleep, too.”
 “You don’t have to act like that.”
 “Like what?”
 “Like…never mind.” I lay down, feeling miserable. I was so tired I fell asleep as soon as my eyes
 In my dreams I heard laughter. Cold, harsh laughter, like knives being sharpened.
 I was standing at the edge of a pit in the depths of Tartarus . Below me the darkness seethed like inky
 “So close to your own destruction, little hero,” the voice of Kronos chided. “And still you are blind.”
 The voice was different than it had been before. It seemed almost physical now, as if it were speaking
from a real body instead of…whatever he’d been in his chopped-up condition.
 “I have much to thank you for,” Kronos said. “You have assured my rise.”
 The shadows in the cavern became deeper and heavier. I tried to back away from the edge of the pit,
but it was like swimming through oil. Time slowed down. My breathing almost stopped.
 “A favor,” Kronos said. “The Titan lord always pays his debts. Perhaps a glimpse of the friends you
 The darkness rippled around me, and I was in a different cave.
 “Hurry!” Tyson said. He came barreling into the room. Grover stumbled along behind him. There was a
rumbling in the corridor they’d come from, and the head of an enormous snake burst into the cave. I
mean, this thing was so big its body barely fit through the tunnel. Its scales were coppery. Its head was
diamond-shaped like a rattler, and its yellow eyes glowed with hatred. When it opened its mouth, its
fangs were as tall as Tyson.
 It lashed at Grover, but Grover scampered out of the way. The snake got a mouthful of dirt. Tyson
picked up a boulder and threw it at the monster, smacking it between the eyes, but the snake just
recoiled and hissed.
 “It’s going to eat you!” Grover yelled at Tyson.
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 “How do you know?”
 “It just told me! Run!”
 Tyson darted to one side, but the snake used its head like a club and knocked him off his feet.
 “No!” Grover yelled. But before Tyson could regain his balance, the snake wrapped around him and
started to squeeze.
 Tyson strained, pushing with all his immense strength, but the snake squeezed tighter. Grover frantically
hit the snake with his reed pipes, but he might as well have been banging on a stone wall.
 The whole room shook as the snake flexed its muscles, shuddering to overcome Tyson’s strength.
 Grover began to play with pipes, and stalactites rained down from the ceiling. The whole cave seemed
about to collapse…
 I woke with Annabeth shaking my shoulder. “Percy, wake up!”
 “Tyson—Tyson’s in trouble!” I said. “We have to help him!”
 “First things first,” she said. “Earthquake!”
 Sure enough, the room was rumbling. “Rachel!” I yelled.
 Her eyes opened instantly. She grabbed her pack, and the three of us ran. We were almost to the far
tunnel when a column next to us groaned and buckled. We kept going as a hundred tons of marble
crashed down behind us.
 We made it to the corridor and turned just in time to see the other columns toppling. A cloud of white
dust billowed over us, and we kept running.
 “You know what?” Annabeth said. “I like this way after all.”
 It wasn’t long before we saw light up ahead—like regular electric lighting.
 “There,” Rachel said.
 We followed her into a stainless steel hallway, like I imagined they’d have on a space station or
something. Fluorescent lights glowed from the ceiling. The floor was a metal grate.
 I was so used to being in the darkness that I had to squint. Annabeth and Rachel both looked pale in the
harsh illumination.
 “This way,” Rachel said, beginning to run. “We’re close!”
 “This is so wrong!” Annabeth said. “The workshop should be in the oldest section of the maze. This
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 She faltered, because we’d arrived at a set of metal double doors. Inscribed in the steel, at eye level,
was a large blue Greek ?.
 “We’re here,” Rachel announced. “Daedalus’sworkshop.”
 Annabeth pressed the symbol on the doors and they hissed open.
 “So much for ancient architecture,” I said.
 Annabeth scowled. Together we walked inside.
 The first thing that struck me was the daylight—blazing sun coming through giant windows. Not the kind
of thing you expect in the heart of a dungeon. The workshop was like an artist’s studio, with thirty-foot
ceilings and industrial lighting, polished stone floors, and workbenches along with windows. A spiral
staircase led up to a second-story loft. Half a dozen easels displayed hand-drawn diagrams for buildings
and machines that looked like Leonardoda  Vinci sketches. Several laptop computers were scattered
around on the tables. Glass jars of green oil—Greek fire—lined one shelf. There were inventions,
too—weird metal machines I couldn’t make sense of. One was a bronze chair with a bunch of electrical
wires attached to it, like some kind of torture device. In another corner stood a giant metal egg about the
size of a man. There was a grandfather clock that appeared to be made entirely of glass, so you could
see all the gears turning. And hanging on the wall were several sets of bronze and silver wings.
 “ Di immortals,” Annabeth muttered. She ran to the nearest easel and looked at the sketch. “He’s a genius.
Look at the curves on this building!”
 “And an artist,” Rachel said in amazement. “These wings are amazing!”
 The wings looked more advanced than the ones I’d seen in my dreams. The feathers were more tightly
interwoven. Instead of wax seals, self-adhesive strips ran down the sides.
 I kept my hand on Riptide. Apparently Daedalus was not at home, but the workshop looked like it had
been recently used. The laptops were running their screen savers. A half-eaten blueberry muffin and a
coffee cup sat on a workbench.
 I walked to the window. The view outside was amazing. I recognized the Rocky Mountains in the
distance. We were high up in the foothills, at least five hundred feet, and down below a valley spread out,
filled with a tumbled collection of red mesas and boulders and spires of stone. It looked like some huge
kid had been building a toy city with skyscraper-size blocks, and then decided to knock it over.
 “Where are we?” I wondered.
 “Colorado Springs,” A voice said behind us. “The Garden of the Gods.”
 Standing on the spiral staircase above us, with his weapon drawn, was our missing sword master
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 “You,” Annabeth said. “What have you done with Daedalus?”
 Quintus smiled faintly. “Trust me, my dear. You don’t want to meet him.”
 “Look, Mr. Traitor,” she growled, “I didn’t fight a dragon woman and a three-bodied man and a
psychotic Sphinx to see you . Now where is DAEDALUS?”
 Quintus came down the stairs, holding his sword at his side. He was dressed in jeans and boots and his
counselor’s T-shirt from Camp Half-Blood, which seemed like an insult now that we knew he was a spy.
I didn’t know if I could beat him in a sword fight. He was pretty good. But I figured I would have to try.
 “You think I’m an agent of Kronos,” he said. “That I work for Luke.”
 “Well, duh,” said Annabeth.
 “You’re an intelligent girl,” he said. “But you’re wrong. I work only for myself.”
 “Luke mentioned you,” I said. “Geryon knew about you, too. You’ve been to his ranch.”
 “Of course,” he said. “I’ve been almost everywhere. Even here.”
 He walked past me like I was no threat at all and stood by the window. “The view changes from day to
day,” he mused. “It’s always some place high up. Yesterday it was from a skyscraper overlooking
Manhattan. The day before that, there was a beautiful view of Lake Michigan. But it keeps coming back
to the Garden of the Gods. I think the Labyrinth likes it here. A fitting name, I suppose.”
 “You’ve been here before,” I said.
 “Oh, yes.”
 “That’s an illusion out there?” I asked. “A projection or something?”
 “No,” Rachel murmured. “It’s real. We’re really in Colorado.”
 Quintus regarded her. “You have clear vision, don’t you? you remind me of another mortal girl I once
knew.Another princess who came to grief.”
 “Enough games,” I said. “What have you done with Daedalus?”
 Quintus stared at me. “My boy, you need lessons from your friend on seeing clearly. I am Daedalus.”
 There were a lot of answers I might’ve given, from “I knew that” to “LIAR!” to “Yeah right, and I’m
 The only thing I could think to say was, “But you’re not an inventor! You’re a swordsman!”
 “I am both,” Quintus said.“And an architect. And a scholar. I also play basketball pretty well for a guy
who didn’t start until he was two thousand years old. A real artist must be good at many things.”
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 “That’s true,” Rachel said.“Like I can paint with my feet as well as my hands.”
 “You see?” Quintus said. “A girl of many talents.”
 “But you don’t even look like Daedalus,” I protested. “I saw him in a dream, and…” Suddenly a
horrible thought dawned on me.
 “Yes,” Quintus said. “You’ve finally guessed the truth.”
 “You’re an automaton. You made yourself a new body.”
 “Percy,” Annabeth said uneasily, “that’s not possible.That—that can’t be an automaton.”
 Quintus chuckled. “Do you know what Quintus means, my dear?”
 “The fifth, in Latin.But—”
 “This is my fifth body.” The swordsman held out his forearm. He pressed his elbow andpart of his wrist
popped open— a rectangular hatch in his skin. Underneath, bronze gears whirred. Wires glowed.
 “That’s amazing!” Rachel said.
 “That’s weird,” I said.
 “You found a way to transfer youranimus  into a machine?” Annabeth said. “That’s…not natural.”
 “Oh, I assure you, my dear, it’s still me. I’m still very much Daedalus. Our mother, Athena, makes sure I
never forget that.” He tugged back the collar of his shirt. At the base of his neck was the mark I’d seen
before—the dark shape of a bird grafted to his skin.
 “A murderer’s brand,” Annabeth said.
 “For your nephew, Perdix ,” I guessed. “The boy you pushed off the tower.”
 Quintus’s face darkened. “I did not push him. I simply—”
 “Made him lose his balance,” I said. “Let him die.”
 Quintus gazed out the windows at the purple mountains. “I regret what I did, Percy. I was angry and
bitter. But I cannot take it back, and Athena never lets me forget. As Perdix died, she turned him into a
small bird—a partridge. She branded the bird’s shape on my neck as a reminder. No matter what body I
take, the brand appears on my skin.”
 I looked into his eyes, and I realized he was the same man I’d seen in my dreams. His face might be
totally different, but the same soul was in there— the same intelligence and all the sadness.
 “You really are Daedalus,” I decided. “But why did you come to the camp? Why spy on us?”
 “To see if your camp was worth saving. Luke had given me one story. I preferred to come to my own
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 “So you have  talked to Luke.”
 “Oh, yes. Several times. He is quite persuasive.”
 “But now you’ve seen the camp!” Annabeth persisted. “So you know we need your help. You can’t let
Luke through the maze!”
 Daedalus set his sword on the workbench. “The maze is no longer mine to control, Annabeth. I created
it, yes. In fact, it is tied to my life force. But I have allowed it to live and grow on its own. That is the
price I paid for privacy.”
 “Privacy from what?”
 “The gods,” he said. “And death. I have been alive for two millennia, my dear, hiding from death.”
 “But how can you hide from Hades?” I asked. “I mean…Hades has the Furies.”
 “They do not know everything,” he said. “Or see everything. You have encountered them, Percy. You
know this is true. A clever man can hide quite a long time, and I have buried myself very deep. Only my
greatest enemy has kept after me, and even him I have thwarted.”
 “You mean Minos,” I said.
 Daedalus nodded. “He hunts for me relentlessly. Now that he is a judge of the dead, he would like
nothing better than for me to come before him so he can punish me for my crimes. After the daughters of
Cocalus killed him,Minos’s ghost began torturing me in my dreams. He promised that he would hunt me
down. I did the only thing I could. I retreated from the world completely. I descended into my Labyrinth.
I decided this would be my ultimate accomplishment: I would cheat death.”
 “And you did,” Annabeth marveled, “for two thousand years.” She sounded kind of impressed, despite
the horrible things Daedalus had done.
 Just then a loud bark echoed from the corridor. I heard the ba-BUMP,ba  -BUMP, ba  -BUMP  of huge
paws, and Mrs. O’Leary bounded into the workshop. She licked my face once,then  almost knocked
Daedalus over with an enthusiastic leap.
 “There is my old friend!” Daedalus said, scratching Mrs. O’Leary behind the ears.“My only companion
all these long lonely years.”
 “You let her save me,” I said. “That whistle actually worked.”
 Daedalus nodded. “Of course it did, Percy. You have a good heart. And I knew Mrs. O’Leary liked
you. I wanted to help you. Perhaps I—I felt guilty, as well.”
 “Guilty about what?”
 “That your quest would be in vain.”
 “What?” Annabeth said. “But you can still help us. You have to! Give us Ariadne’s string so Luke can’t
get it.”
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 “Yes…the string. I told Luke that the eyes of a clear-sighted mortal are the best guide, but he did not
trust me. He was so focused on the idea of a magic item. And the string works. It’s not as accurate as
your mortal friend here, perhaps.But good enough.  Good enough.”
 “Where is it?” Annabeth said.
 “With Luke,” Daedalus said sadly. “I’m sorry, my dear. But you are several hours too late.”
 With a chill I realized why Luke had been in such a good mood in the arena. He’d already gotten the
string from Daedalus. His only obstacle had been the arena master, and I’d taken care of that for him by
killing Antaeus.
 “Kronos promised me freedom,” Quintus said. “Once Hades is overthrown, he will set me over the
Underworld. I will reclaim my son Icarus. I will make things right with poor youngPerdix . I will see
Minos’s soul cast intoTartarus , where it cannot bother me again. And I will no longer have to run from
 “That’s your brilliant idea?” Annabeth yelled. “You’re going to let Luke destroy your camp, kill
hundreds of demigods, and then attack Olympus? You’re going to bring down the entire world so you
can get what you want?”
 “Your cause is doomed, my dear. I saw that as soon as I began to work at your camp. There is no way
you can hold back the might of Kronos.”
 “That’s not true!” she cried.
 “I am doing what I must, my dear. The offer was too sweet to refuse. I’m sorry.”
 Annabeth pushed over an easel. Architectural drawing scattered across the floor. “I used to respect you.
You were my hero! You—you built amazing things. You solved problems. Now…I don’t know what
you are. Children of Athena are supposed to be wise  , not just clever. Maybe you are just a machine.
You should have died two thousand years ago.”
 Instead of getting mad, Daedalus hung his head. “You should go warn your camp. Now that Luke has
the string—”
 Suddenly Mrs. O’Leary pricked up her ears.
 “Someone’s coming!” Rachel warned.
 The doors of the workshop burst open, and Nico was pushed inside, his hands in chains. Then Kelli and
two Laistrygonians marched in behind him, followed by the ghost of Minos. He looked almost solid
now—a pale bearded king with cold eyes and tendrils of Mist coiling off his robes.
 He fixed his gaze on Daedalus. “There you are, my old friend.”
 Daedalus’s jaw clenched. He looked at Kelli. “What is the meaning of this?”
 “Luke sends his compliments,” Kelli said. “He thought you might like to see your old employer Minos.”
 “This was not part of our agreement,” Daedalus said.
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 “No indeed,” Kelli said. “But we already have what we want from you, and we have other agreements
to honor. Minos required something else from us, in order to turn over this fine young demigod.” She ran
a finger underNico’s chin. “He’ll be quite useful. And all Minos asked in return was your head, old man.”
 Daedalus paled. “Treachery.”
 “Get used to it,” Kelli said.
 “Nico,” I said. “Are you okay?”
 He nodded morosely. “I—I’m sorry, Percy. Minos told me you were in danger. He convinced me to go
back into the maze.”
 “You were trying to help  us?”
 “I was tricked,” he said. “He tricked all of us.”
 I glared at Kelli. “Where’s Luke? Why isn’t he here?”
 The she-demon smiled like we were sharing a private joke. “Luke is…busy. He is preparing for the
assault. But don’t worry. We have more friends on the way. And in the meantime, I think I’ll have a
wonderful snack!” Her hands changed into claws. Her hair burst into flame and her legs turned to their
true form—one donkey leg, one bronze.
 “Percy,” Rachel whispered, “the wings. Do you think—”
 “Get them,” I said. “I’ll try to buy you some time.”
 And with that, all Hades broke loose. Annabeth and I charged at Kelli. The giants came right at
Daedalus, but Mrs. O’Leary leaped to his defense.
 Nico got pushed to the ground and struggled with his chains while the spirit of Minos wailed, “Kill the
inventor! Kill him!”
 Rachel grabbed the wings off the wall. Nobody paid her any attention. Kelli slashed at Annabeth. I tried
to get to her, but the demon was quick and deadly. She turned over tables, smashed inventions, and
wouldn’t let us get close. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mrs. O’Leary chomp her fangs into a
giant’s arm. He wailed in pain and flung her around, trying to shake her. Daedalus grabbed for his sword,
but the second giant smashed the workbench with his fist, and the sword went flying. A clay jar of Greek
fire broke on the floor and began to burn, green flames spreading quickly.
 “To me!” Minos cried.“Spirits of the dead!”  He raised his ghostly hands and the air began to hum.
 “No!” Nico cried. He was on his feet now. He’d somehow managed to remove his shackles.
 “You do not control me, young fool,” Minos sneered. “All this time, I have been controlling you! A soul
for a soul, yes.  But it is not your sister who will return from the dead. It is I, as soon as I slay the
 Spirits began to appear around Minos—shimmering forms that slowly multiplied, solidifying into Cretan
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 “I am the son of Hades,” Nico insisted. “Be gone!”
 Minos laughed. “You have no power over me. I am the lord of spirits! The ghost king!”
 “No.” Nico drew his sword. “ Iam.”
 He stabbed his black blade into the floor, and it cleaved through the stone like butter.
 “Never!” Minos’sform rippled. “I will not—”
 The ground rumbled. The windows cracked and shattered to pieces, letting in a blast of fresh air. A
fissure opened in the stone floor of the workshop, and Minos and all his spirits were sucked into the void
with a horrible wail.
 The bad news: the fight was still going on all around us, and I let myself get distracted. Kelli pounced on
me so fast I had no time to defend myself. My sword skittered away and I hit my head hard on a
worktable as I fell. My eyesight went fuzzy. I couldn’t raise my arms.
 Kelli laughed. “You will taste wonderful!”
 She bared her fangs. Then suddenly her body went rigid. Her red eyes widened. She gasped,
 And Annabeth took her knife out of theempousa ’s  back. With an awful screech, Kelli dissolved into
yellow vapor.
 Annabeth helped me up. I still felt dizzy, but we had no time to lose. Mrs. O’Leary and Daedalus were
still locked in combat with the giants, and I could hear shouting in the tunnel. More monsters were coming
toward the workshop.
 “We have to help Daedalus!” I said.
 “No time,” Rachel said.“Too many coming!”
 She’d already fitted herself with wings and was working on Nico, who looked pale and sweaty from his
struggle with Minos. The wings grafted instantly to his back and arms.
 “Now you!” she told me.
 In seconds, Nico, Annabeth, Rachel, and I had fitted ourselves with coppery wings. Already I could feel
myself being lifted by the wind coming through the window. Greek fire was burning the tables and
furniture, spreading up the circular stairs.
 “Daedalus!” I yelled. “Come on!”
 He was cut in a hundred places—but he was bleeding golden oil instead of blood. He’d found his sword
and was using part of a smashed table as a shield against the giants. “I won’t leave Mrs. O’Leary!” he
said. “Go!”
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 There was no time to argue. Even if we stayed, I wasn’t sure we could help.
 “None of us know how to fly!” Nico protested.
 “Great time to find out,” I said. And together, the four of us jumped out the window into open sky.