Also By Rick Riordan

1m ago
2.43 MB
536 Pages

Also by Rick RiordanPercy Jacksonand theOlympians,Book One: TheLightning ThiefPercy Jacksonand theOlympians,Book Two: TheSea of MonstersPercy Jacksonand theOlympians,Book Three:The Titan’sCursePercy Jacksonand theOlympians,Book Four: TheBattle of theLabyrinthPercy Jacksonand theOlympians,

Book Five: TheLast OlympianThe KaneChronicles,Book One:The RedPyramidThe KaneChronicles,Book Two:The Throneof FireThe KaneChronicles,Book Three:TheSerpent’sShadowThe Heroesof Olympus,Book One:The LostHeroThe Heroesof Olympus,Book Two:

The Son ofNeptune

ACKNOWLEDGMENTSMany thanks to Seán Hemingway, curator of Greek andRoman antiquities at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NewYork, for helping me follow the Mark of Athena to its source.Copyright 2012 by Rick RiordanAll rights reserved. Published by Disney Hyperion Books, animprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may bereproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording,or by any information storage and retrieval system, withoutwritten permission from the publisher. For informationaddress Disney Hyperion Books, 114 Fifth Avenue, NewYork, New York 10011-5690.ISBN 978-1-4231-5516-4Visit




XLIXLLILIIGlossaryAbout the AuthorTo SpeedyStrays and wanderers are often sent bythe gods.

UNTIL SHE MET THE EXPLODING STATUE, Annabeththought she was prepared for anything.She’d paced the deck of their flying warship, the Argo II,checking and double-checking the ballistae to make sure theywere locked down. She confirmed that the white “We come inpeace” flag was flying from the mast. She reviewed the planwith the rest of the crew—and the backup plan, and the backupplan for the backup plan.Most important, she pulled aside their war-crazed chaperone,Coach Gleeson Hedge, and encouraged him to take themorning off in his cabin and watch reruns of mixed martial artschampionships. The last thing they needed as they flew amagical Greek trireme into a potentially hostile Roman campwas a middle-aged satyr in gym clothes waving a club andyelling “Die!”Everything seemed to be in order. Even that mysterious chillshe’d been feeling since the ship launched had dissipated, atleast for now.The warship descended through the clouds, but Annabethcouldn’t stop second-guessing herself. What if this was a badidea? What if the Romans panicked and attacked them onsight?The Argo II definitely did not look friendly. Two hundred feetlong, with a bronze-plated hull, mounted repeating crossbowsfore and aft, a flaming metal dragon for a figurehead, and tworotating ballistae amidships that could fire explosive boltspowerful enough to blast through concrete well, it wasn’t themost appropriate ride for a meet-and-greet with the neighbors.Annabeth had tried to give the Romans a heads-up. She’dasked Leo to send one of his special inventions—a holographicscroll—to alert their friends inside the camp. Hopefully themessage had gotten through. Leo had wanted to paint a giant

message on the bottom of the hull —WASSUP? with a smileyface—but Annabeth vetoed the idea. She wasn’t sure theRomans had a sense of humor.Too late to turn back now.The clouds broke around their hull, revealing the gold-andgreen carpet of the Oakland Hills below them. Annabethgripped one of the bronze shields that lined the starboard rail.Her three crewmates took their places.On the stern quarterdeck, Leo rushed around like a madman,checking his gauges and wrestling levers. Most helmsmenwould’ve been satisfied with a pilot’s wheel or a tiller. Leo hadalso installed a keyboard, monitor, aviation controls from aLearjet, a dubstep soundboard, and motioncontrol sensorsfrom a Nintendo Wii. He could turn the ship by pulling on thethrottle, fire weapons by sampling an album, or raise sails byshaking his Wii controllers really fast. Even by demigodstandards, Leo was seriously ADHD.Piper paced back and forth between the mainmast and theballistae, practicing her lines.“Lower your weapons,” she murmured. “We just want to talk.”Her charmspeak was so powerful, the words flowed overAnnabeth, filling her with the desire to drop her dagger andhave a nice long chat.

For a child of Aphrodite, Piper tried hard to play down herbeauty. Today she was dressed in tattered jeans, worn-outsneakers, and a white tank top with pink Hello Kitty designs.(Maybe as a joke, though Annabeth could never be sure withPiper.) Her choppy brown hair was braided down the right sidewith an eagle’s feather.Then there was Piper’s boyfriend—Jason. He stood at thebow on the raised crossbow platform, where the Romans couldeasily spot him. His knuckles were white on the hilt of hisgolden sword. Otherwise he looked calm for a guy who wasmaking himself a target. Over his jeans and orange Camp HalfBlood T-shirt, he’d donned a toga and a purple cloak—symbolsof his old rank as praetor. With his wind-ruffled blond hair andhis icy blue eyes, he looked ruggedly handsome and incontrol—just like a son of Jupiter should. He’d grown up atCamp Jupiter, so hopefully his familiar face would make theRomans hesitant to blow the ship out of the sky.Annabeth tried to hide it, but she still didn’t completely trustthe guy. He acted too perfect—always following the rules,always doing the honorable thing. He even looked too perfect.In the back of her mind, she had a nagging thought: What if thisis a trick and he betrays us? What if we sail into Camp Jupiter,and he says, Hey, Romans! Check out these prisoners and thiscool ship I brought you!Annabeth doubted that would happen. Still, she couldn’t lookat him without getting a bitter taste in her mouth. He’d been partof Hera’s forced “exchange program” to introduce the twocamps. Her Most Annoying Majesty, Queen of Olympus, hadconvinced the other gods that their two sets of children—Roman and Greek—had to combine forces to save the worldfrom the evil goddess Gaea, who was awakening from theearth, and her horrible children the giants.

Without warning, Hera had plucked up Percy Jackson,Annabeth’s boyfriend, wiped his memory, and sent him to theRoman camp. In exchange, the Greeks had gotten Jason.None of that was Jason’s fault; but every time Annabeth sawhim, she remembered how much she missed Percy.Percy who was somewhere below them right now.Oh, gods. Panic welled up inside her. She forced it down. Shecouldn’t afford to get overwhelmed.I’m a child of Athena, she told herself. I have to stick to myplan and not get distracted.She felt it again—that familiar shiver, as if a psychoticsnowman had crept up behind her and was breathing down herneck. She turned, but no one was there.Must be her nerves. Even in a world of gods and monsters,Annabeth couldn’t believe a new warship would be haunted.The Argo II was well protected. The Celestial bronze shieldsalong the rail were enchanted to ward off monsters, and theironboard satyr, Coach Hedge, would have sniffed out anyintruders.Annabeth wished she could pray to her mother for guidance,but that wasn’t possible now. Not after last month, when she’dhad that horrible encounter with her mom and gotten the worstpresent of her life. The cold pressed closer. She thought she heard a faint voicein the wind, laughing. Every muscle in her body tensed.Something was about to go terribly wrong.She almost ordered Leo to reverse course. Then, in the valleybelow, horns sounded. The Romans had spotted them.Annabeth thought she knew what to expect. Jason haddescribed Camp Jupiter to her in great detail. Still, she hadtrouble believing her eyes. Ringed by the Oakland Hills, thevalley was at least twice the size of Camp Half-Blood. A small

river snaked around one side and curled toward the center likea capital letter G, emptying into a sparkling blue lake.Directly below the ship, nestled at the edge of the lake, the cityof New Rome gleamed in the sunlight. She recognizedlandmarks Jason had told her about—the hippodrome, thecoliseum, the temples and parks, the neighborhood of SevenHills with its winding streets, colorful villas, and floweringgardens.She saw evidence of the Romans’ recent battle with an armyof monsters. The dome was cracked open on a building sheguessed was the Senate House. The forum’s broad plaza waspitted with craters. Some fountains and statues were in ruins.Dozens of kids in togas were streaming out of the SenateHouse to get a better view of the Argo II. More Romansemerged from the shops and cafés, gawking and pointing asthe ship descended.About half a mile to the west, where the horns were blowing,a Roman fort stood on a hill. It looked just like the illustrationsAnnabeth had seen in military history books—with a defensivetrench lined with spikes, high walls, and watchtowers armedwith scorpion ballistae. Inside, perfect rows of white barrackslined the main road—the Via Principalis.A column of demigods emerged from the gates, their armorand spears glinting as they hurried toward the city. In the midstof their ranks was an actual war elephant.Annabeth wanted to land the Argo II before those troopsarrived, but the ground was still several hundred feet below.She scanned the crowd, hoping to catch a glimpse of Percy.Then something behind her went BOOM!The explosion almost knocked her overboard. She whirled andfound herself eye to eye with an angry statue.

“Unacceptable!” he shrieked.Apparently he had exploded into existence, right there on thedeck. Sulfurous yellow smoke rolled off his shoulders. Cinderspopped around his curly hair. From the waist down, he wasnothing but a square marble pedestal. From the waist up, hewas a muscular human figure in a carved toga. “I will not haveweapons inside the Pomerian Line!” he announced in a fussyteacher voice. “I certainly will not have Greeks!” Jason shotAnnabeth a look that said, I’ve got this. “Terminus,” he said.“It’s me. Jason Grace.”“Oh, I remember you, Jason!” Terminus grumbled. “I thoughtyou had better sense than to consort with the enemies ofRome!”“But they’re not enemies—”“That’s right,” Piper jumped in. “We just want to talk. If wecould—”“Ha!” snapped the statue. “Don’t try that charmspeak on me,young lady. And put down that dagger before I slap it out ofyour hands!”Piper glanced at her bronze dagger, which she’d apparentlyforgotten she was holding. “Um okay. But how would you slapit? You don’t have any arms.”“Impertinence!” There was a sharp POP and a flash of yellow.Piper yelped and dropped the dagger, which was nowsmoking and sparking.“Lucky for you I’ve just been through a battle,” Terminusannounced. “If I were at full strength, I would’ve blasted thisflying monstrosity out of the sky already!”“Hold up.” Leo stepped forward, wagging his Wiicontroller. “Did you just call my ship a monstrosity? Iknow you didn’t do that.” The idea that Leo might attack

the statue with his gaming device was enough to snapAnnabeth out of her shock.“Let’s all calm down.” She raised her hands to show she hadno weapons. “I take it you’re Terminus, the god of boundaries.Jason told me you protect the city of New Rome, right? I’mAnnabeth Chase, daughter of—”“Oh, I know who you are!” The statue glared at her with itsblank white eyes. “A child of Athena, Minerva’s Greek form.Scandalous! You Greeks have no sense of decency. WeRomans know the proper place for that goddess.”Annabeth clenched her jaw. This statue wasn’t making it easyto be diplomatic. “What exactly do you mean, that goddess?And what’s so scandalous about—”“Right!” Jason interrupted. “Anyway, Terminus, we’re hereon a mission of peace. We’d love permission to land so wecan—” “Impossible!” the god squeaked. “Lay down yourweapons and surrender! Leave my city immediately!”“Which is it?” Leo asked. “Surrender, or leave?”“Both!” Terminus said. “Surrender, then leave. I am slappingyour face for asking such a stupid question, you ridiculousboy! Do you feel that?”“Wow.” Leo studied Terminus with professional interest.“You’re wound up pretty tight. You got any gears in there thatneed loosening? I could take a look.”He exchanged the Wii controller for a screwdriver from hismagic tool belt and tapped the statue’s pedestal.“Stop that!” Terminus insisted. Another small explosion madeLeo drop his screwdriver. “Weapons are not allowed on Romansoil inside the Pomerian Line.”“The what?” Piper asked.“City limits,” Jason translated.

“And this entire ship is a weapon!” Terminus said. “You cannotland!”Down in the valley, the legion reinforcements were halfway tothe city. The crowd in the forum was over a hundred strongnow. Annabeth scanned the faces and oh, gods. She sawhim. He was walking toward the ship with his arms around twoother kids like they were best buddies—a stout boy with a blackbuzz cut, and a girl wearing a Roman cavalry helmet. Percylooked so at ease, so happy. He wore a purple cape just likeJason’s —the mark of a praetor.Annabeth’s heart did a gymnastics routine.“Leo, stop the ship,” she ordered.“What?”“You heard me. Keep us right where we are.”Leo pulled out his controller and yanked it upward. All ninetyoars froze in place. The ship stopped sinking.“Terminus,” Annabeth said, “there’s no rule against hoveringover New Rome, is there?”The statue frowned. “Well, no ”“We can keep the ship aloft,” Annabeth said. “We’ll use a ropeladder to reach the forum. That way, the ship won’t be onRoman soil. Not technically.”The statue seemed to ponder this. Annabeth wondered if hewas scratching his chin with imaginary hands.“I like technicalities,” he admitted. “Still ”“All our weapons will stay aboard the ship,” Annabethpromised. “I assume the Romans—even those reinforcementsmarching toward us—will also have to honor your rules insidethe Pomerian Line if you tell them to?”“Of course!” Terminus said. “Do I look like I tolerate rulebreakers?”“Uh, Annabeth ” Leo said. “You sure this is a good idea?”

She closed her fists to keep them from shaking. That coldfeeling was still there. It floated just behind her, and now thatTerminus was no longer shouting and causing explosions, shethought she could hear the presence laughing, as if it wasdelighted by the bad choices she was making.But Percy was down there he was so close. She had toreach him.“It’ll be fine,” she said. “No one will be armed. We can talk inpeace. Terminus will make sure each side obeys the rules.”She looked at the marble statue. “Do we have an agreement?”Terminus sniffed. “I suppose. For now. You may climb downyour ladder to New Rome, daughter of Athena. Please try notto destroy my town.”

A SEA OF HASTILY ASSEMBLED demigods parted forAnnabeth as she walked through the forum. Some lookedtense, some nervous. Some were bandaged from their recentbattle with the giants, but no one was armed. No one attacked.Entire families had gathered to see the newcomers. Annabethsaw couples with babies, toddlers clinging to their parents’ legs,even some elderly folks in a combination of Roman robes andmodern clothes. Were all of them demigods? Annabethsuspected so, though she’d never seen a place like this. AtCamp Half-Blood, most demigods were teens. If they survivedlong enough to graduate from high school, they either stayedon as counselors or left to start lives as best they could in themortal world. Here, it was an entire multigenerationalcommunity.At the far end of the crowd, Annabeth spotted Tyson theCyclops and Percy’s hellhound, Mrs. O’Leary—who had beenthe first scouting party from Camp Half-Blood to reach CampJupiter. They looked to be in good spirits. Tyson waved andgrinned. He was wearing an SPQR banner like a giant bib.Some part of Annabeth’s mind registered how beautiful thecity was—the smells from the bakeries, the gurgling fountains,the flowers blooming in the gardens. And thearchitecture gods, the architecture—gilded marble columns,dazzling mosaics, monumental arches, and terraced villas.In front of her, the demigods made way for a girl in full Romanarmor and a purple cape. Dark hair tumbled across hershoulders. Her eyes were as black as obsidian.Reyna.Jason had described her well. Even without that, Annabethwould have singled her out as the leader. Medals decoratedher armor. She carried herself with such confidence the otherdemigods backed away and averted their gaze.

Annabeth recognized something else in her face, too—in thehard set of her mouth and the deliberate way she raised herchin like she was ready to accept any challenge. Reyna wasforcing a look of courage, while holding back a mixture ofhopefulness and worry and fear that she couldn’t show inpublic.Annabeth knew that expression. She saw it every time shelooked in a mirror.The two girls considered each other. Annabeth’s friendsfanned out on either side. The Romans murmured Jason’sname, staring at him in awe.Then someone else appeared from the crowd, andAnnabeth’s vision tunneled.Percy smiled at her—that sarcastic, troublemaker smile thathad annoyed her for years but eventually had becomeendearing. His sea-green eyes were as gorgeous as sheremembered. His dark hair was swept to one side, like he’d justcome from a walk on the beach. He looked even better than hehad six months ago—tanner and taller, leaner and moremuscular.Annabeth was too stunned to move. She felt that if she gotany closer to him, all the molecules in her body mightcombust. She’d secretly had a crush on him since they weretwelve years old. Last summer, she’d fallen for him hard.

They’d been a happy couple for four months—and then he’ddisappeared.During their separation, something had happened toAnnabeth’s feelings. They’d grown painfully intense—like she’dbeen forced to withdraw from a life-saving medication. Now shewasn’t sure which was more excruciating—living with thathorrible absence, or being with him again.The praetor Reyna straightened. With apparent reluctance,she turned toward Jason.“Jason Grace, my former colleague ” She spoke the wordcolleague like it was a dangerous thing. “I welcome you home.And these, your friends—”Annabeth didn’t mean to, but she surged forward. Percyrushed toward her at the same time. The crowd tensed. Somereached for swords that weren’t there.Percy threw his arms around her. They kissed, and for amoment nothing else mattered. An asteroid could have hit theplanet and wiped out all life, and Annabeth wouldn’t havecared.Percy smelled of ocean air. His lips were salty.Seaweed Brain, she thought giddily.Percy pulled away and studied her face. “Gods, I neverthought—”Annabeth grabbed his wrist and flipped him over her shoulder.He slammed into the stone pavement. Romans cried out. Somesurged forward, but Reyna shouted, “Hold! Stand down!”Annabeth put her knee on Percy’s chest. She pushed herforearm against his throat. She didn’t care what the Romansthought. A white-hot lump of anger expanded in her chest—atumor of worry and bitterness that she’d been carrying aroundsince last autumn.

“If you ever leave me again,” she said, her eyes stinging, “Iswear to all the gods—”Percy had the nerve to laugh. Suddenly the lump of heatedemotions melted inside Annabeth.“Consider me warned,” Percy said. “I missed you, too.”Annabeth rose and helped him to his feet. Shewanted to kiss him again so badly, but she managedto restrain herself. Jason cleared his throat. “So,yeah. It’s good to be back.”He introduced Reyna to Piper, who looked a little miffed thatshe hadn’t gotten to say the lines she’d been practicing, thento Leo, who grinned and flashed a peace sign.“And this is Annabeth,” Jason said. “Uh, normally she doesn’tjudo-flip people.”Reyna’s eyes sparkled. “You sure you’re not a Roman,Annabeth? Or an Amazon?”Annabeth didn’t know if that was a compliment, but she heldout her hand. “I only attack my boyfriend like that,” shepromised. “Pleased to meet you.”Reyna clasped her hand firmly. “It seems we have a lot todiscuss. Centurions!”A few of the Roman campers hustled forward—apparentlythe senior officers. Two kids appeared at Percy’s side, thesame ones Annabeth had seen him chumming around withearlier. The burly Asian guy with the buzz cut was aboutfifteen. He was cute in a sort of oversized-cuddly-pandabearway. The girl was younger, maybe thirteen, with amber eyesand chocolate skin and long curly hair. Her cavalry helmetwas tucked under her arm.Annabeth could tell from their body language that they feltclose to Percy. They stood next to him protectively, like they’dalready shared many adventures. She fought down a twinge of

jealousy. Was it possible Percy and this girl no. The chemistrybetween the three of them wasn’t like that. Annabeth had spenther whole life learning to read people. It was a survival skill. Ifshe had to guess, she’d say the big Asian guy was the girl’sboyfriend, though she suspected they hadn’t been togetherlong.There was one thing she didn’t understand: what was the girlstaring at? She kept frowning in Piper and Leo’s direction, likeshe recognized one of them and the memory was painful.Meanwhile, Reyna was giving orders to her officers. “ tell thelegion to stand down. Dakota, alert the spirits in the kitchen.Tell them to prepare a welcome feast. And, Octavian—”“You’re letting these intruders into the camp?” A tall guy withstringy blond hair elbowed his way forward. “Reyna, thesecurity risks—”“We’re not taking them to the camp, Octavian.” Reyna flashedhim a stern look. “We’ll eat here, in the forum.”“Oh, much better,” Octavian grumbled. He seemed to be theonly one who didn’t defer to Reyna as his superior, despite thefact that he was scrawny and pale and for some reason hadthree teddy bears hanging from his belt. “You want us to relaxin the shadow of their warship.”“These are our guests.” Reyna clipped off every word. “We willwelcome them, and we will talk to them. As augur, you shouldburn an offering to thank the gods for bringing Jason back tous safely.”“Good idea,” Percy put in. “Go burn your bears, Octavian.”Reyna looked like she was trying not to smile. “You have myorders. Go.”The officers dispersed. Octavian shot Percy a look of absoluteloathing. Then he gave Annabeth a suspicious once-over andstalked away.

Percy slipped his hand into Annabeth’s. “Don’t worry aboutOctavian,” he said. “Most of the Romans are good people—likeFrank and Hazel here, and Reyna. We’ll be fine.”Annabeth felt as if someone had draped a cold washclothacross her neck. She heard that whispering laughter again, asif the presence had followed her from the ship.She looked up at the Argo II. Its massive bronze hull glitteredin the sunlight. Part of her wanted to kidnap Percy right now,climb on board, and get out of here while they still could.She couldn’t shake the feeling that something was about to goterribly wrong. And there was no way she would ever risklosing Percy again.“We’ll be fine,” she repeated, trying to believe it.“Excellent,” Reyna said. She turned to Jason, and Annabeththought there was a hungry sort of gleam in her eyes. “Let’stalk, and we can have a proper reunion.”ANNABETH WISHED SHE HAD AN APPETITE, because theRomans knew how to eat.Sets of couches and low tables were carted into the forum untilit resembled a furniture showroom. Romans lounged in groupsof ten or twenty, talking and laughing while wind spirits—aurae—swirled overhead, bringing an endless assortment ofpizzas, sandwiches, chips, cold drinks, and fresh-bakedcookies. Drifting through the crowd were purple ghosts—Lares—in togas and legionnaire armor. Around the edges ofthe feast, satyrs (no, fauns, Annabeth thought) trotted fromtable to table, panhandling for food and spare change. In thenearby fields, the war elephant frolicked with Mrs. O’Leary, andchildren played tag around the statues of Terminus that linedthe city limits.The whole scene was so familiar yet so completely alien thatit gave Annabeth vertigo.

All she wanted to do was be with Percy—preferably alone.She knew she would have to wait. If their quest was going tosucceed, they needed these Romans, which meant getting toknow them and building some goodwill.Reyna and a few of her officers (including the blond kidOctavian, freshly back from burning a teddy bear for the gods)sat with Annabeth and her crew. Percy joined them with his twonew friends, Frank and Hazel.As a tornado of food platters settled onto the table, Percyleaned over and whispered, “I want to show you around NewRome. Just you and me.The place is incredible.”Annabeth should’ve felt thrilled. Just you and me was exactlywhat she wanted. Instead, resentment swelled in her throat.How could Percy talk so enthusiastically about this place?What about Camp Half-Blood—their camp, their home?She tried not to stare at the new marks on Percy’s forearm—an SPQR tattoo like Jason’s. At Camp Half-Blood, demigodsgot bead necklaces to commemorate years of training. Here,the Romans burned a tattoo into your flesh, as if to say: Youbelong to us. Permanently. She swallowed back some bitingcomments. “Okay. Sure.” “I’ve been thinking,” he saidnervously. “I had this idea—” He stopped as Reyna called atoast to friendship.After introductions all around, the Romans and Annabeth’screw began exchanging stories. Jason explained how he’darrived at Camp HalfBlood without his memory, and how he’dgone on a quest with Piper and Leo to rescue the goddess Hera(or Juno, take your pick—she was equally annoying in Greekor Roman) from imprisonment at the Wolf House in northernCalifornia.

“Impossible!” Octavian broke in. “That’s our most sacredplace. If the giants had imprisoned a goddess there—”“They would’ve destroyed her,” Piper said. “And blamed it onthe Greeks, and started a war between the camps. Now, bequiet and let Jason finish.”Octavian opened his mouth, but no sound came out.Annabeth really loved Piper’s charmspeak. She noticed Reynalooking back and forth between Jason and Piper, her browcreased, as if just beginning to realize the two of them were acouple.“So,” Jason continued, “that’s how we found out about theearth goddess Gaea. She’s still half asleep, but she’s the onefreeing the monsters from Tartarus and raising the giants.Porphyrion, the big leader dude we fought at the Wolf House:he said he was retreating to the ancient lands—Greece itself. He plans on awakening Gaea and destroying thegods by what did he call it? Pulling up their roots.”Percy nodded thoughtfully. “Gaea’s been busy over here, too.We had our own encounter with Queen Dirt Face.”Percy recounted his side of the story. He talked about wakingup at the Wolf House with no memories except for one name—Annabeth.

When she heard that, Annabeth had to try hard not to cry.Percy told them how he’d traveled to Alaska with Frank andHazel—how they’d defeated the giant Alcyoneus, freed thedeath god Thanatos, and returned with the lost golden eaglestandard of the Roman camp to repel an attack by the giants’army.When Percy had finished, Jason whistled appreciatively. “Nowonder they made you praetor.”Octavian snorted. “Which means we nowhave three praetors! The rules clearly state wecan only have two!” “On the bright side,” Percysaid, “both Jason and I outrank you, Octavian.So we can both tell you to shut up.” Octavianturned as purple as a Roman T-shirt. Jasongave Percy a fist bump.Even Reyna managed a smile, though her eyes were stormy.“We’ll have to figure out the extra praetor problemlater,” she said. “Right now we have more seriousissues to deal with.” “I’ll step aside for Jason,” Percysaid easily. “It’s no biggie.”“No biggie?” Octavian choked. “The praetorship of Rome is nobiggie?”Percy ignored him and turned to Jason. “You’reThalia Grace’s brother, huh? Wow. You guyslook nothing alike.” “Yeah, I noticed,” Jasonsaid. “Anyway, thanks for helping my campwhile I was gone. You did an awesome job.”“Back at you,” Percy said.Annabeth kicked his shin. She hated to interrupt a buddingbromance, but Reyna was right: they had serious things todiscuss. “We should talk about the Great Prophecy. It soundslike the Romans are aware of it too?”

Reyna nodded. “We call it the Prophecy ofSeven. Octavian, you have it committed tomemory?” “Of course,” he said. “But,Reyna—”“Recite it, please. In English, not Latin.”Octavian sighed. “Seven half-bloods shall answer the call. Tostorm or fire the world must fall—”“An oath to keep with a final breath,” Annabeth continued.“And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.”Everyone stared at her—except for Leo, who had constructeda pinwheel out of aluminum foil taco wrappers and was stickingit into passing wind spirits.Annabeth wasn’t sure why she had blurted out the lines of theprophecy. She’d just felt compelled.The big kid, Frank, sat forward, staring at her in fascination,as if she’d grown a third eye. “Is it true you’re a child ofMin—I mean, Athena?” “Yes,” she said, suddenly feelingdefensive. “Why is that such a surprise?” Octavian scoffed.“If you’re truly a child of the wisdom goddess—”“Enough,” Reyna snapped. “Annabeth is what she says. She’shere in peace. Besides ” She gave Annabeth a look ofgrudging respect. “Percy has spoken highly of you.”The undertones in Reyna’s voice took Annabeth a moment todecipher. Percy looked down, suddenly interested in hischeeseburger.Annabeth’s face felt hot. Oh, gods Reyna had tried to makea move on Percy. That explained the tinge of bitterness, maybeeven envy, in her words. Percy had turned her down forAnnabeth.At that moment, Annabeth forgave her ridiculous boyfriend foreverything he’d ever done wrong. She wanted to throw herarms around him, but she commanded herself to stay cool.

“Uh, thanks,” she told Reyna. “At any rate, some of theprophecy is becoming clear. Foes bearing arms to the Doors ofDeath that means Romans and Greeks. We have to combineforces to find those doors.”Hazel, the girl with the cavalry helmet and the long curly hair,picked up something next t