The son of neptune, p.43
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       The Son of Neptune, p.43
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         Part #2 of The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
Page 43

 

  The nearest guard set down her reading tablet. “Why can’t you walk another thirty paces, Kinzie?”

  “Um, because—”

  “Ooof!” Hazel fell to her knees and tried to put on her best seasick face. “I’m feeling nauseous! Can’t…walk. Amazons . . . too . . . scary. ”

  “There you go,” Kinzie told the guards. “Now, are you going to come take the prisoner, or should I tell Queen Hylla you’re not doing your duty?”

  The nearest guard rolled her eyes and trudged over. Hazel had hoped the other two guards would come too, but she’d have to worry about that later.

  The first guard grabbed Hazel’s arm. “Fine. I’ll take custody of the prisoner. But if I were you, Kinzie, I wouldn’t worry about Hylla. She won’t be queen much longer. ”

  “We’ll see, Doris. ” Kinzie turned to leave. Hazel waited until her steps receded down the catwalk.

  The guard Doris pulled on Hazel’s arm. “Well? Come on. ”

  Hazel concentrated on the wall of jewelry next to her:forty large boxes of silver bracelets. “Not…feeling so good. ”

  “You are not throwing up on me,” Doris growled. She tried to yank Hazel to her feet, but Hazel went limp, like a kid throwing a fit in a store. Next to her, the boxes began to tremble.

  “Lulu!” Doris yelled to one of her comrades. “Help me with this lame little girl. ”

  Amazons named Doris and Lulu? Hazel thought. Okay . . .

  The second guard jogged over. Hazel figured this was her best chance. Before they could haul her to her feet, she yelled, “Ooooh!” and flattened herself against the catwalk.

  Doris started to say, “Oh, give me a—”

  The entire pallet of jewelry exploded with a sound like a thousand slot machines hitting the jackpot. A tidal wave of silver friendship bracelets poured across the catwalk, washing Doris and Lulu right over the railing.

  They would’ve fallen to their deaths, but Hazel wasn’t that mean. She summoned a few hundred bracelets, which leaped at the guards and lashed around their ankles, leaving them hanging upside down from the bottom of the catwalk, screaming like lame little girls.

  Hazel turned toward the third guard. She broke her bonds, which were about as sturdy as toilet paper. She picked up one of the fallen guards’ spears. She was terrible with spears, but she hoped the third Amazon didn’t know that.

  “Should I kill you from here?” Hazel snarled. “Or are you going to make me come over there?”

  The guard turned and ran.

  Hazel shouted over the side to Doris and Lulu. “Amazon cards! Pass them up, unless you want me to undo those friendship bracelets and let you drop!”

  Four and a half seconds later, Hazel had two Amazon cards. She raced over to the cages and swiped a card. The doors popped open.

  Frank stared at her in astonishment. “Hazel, that was…amazing. ”

  Percy nodded. “I will never wear jewelry again. ”

  “Except this. ” Hazel tossed him his necklace. “Our weapons and supplies are at the end of the catwalk. We should hurry. Pretty soon—”

  Alarms began wailing throughout the cavern.

  “Yeah,” she said, “that’ll happen. Let’s go!”

  The first part of the escape was easy. They retrieved their things with no problem, then started climbing down the ladder. Every time Amazons swarmed beneath them, demanding their surrender, Hazel made a crate of jewelry explode, burying their enemies in a Niagara Falls of gold and silver. When they got to the bottom of the ladder, they found a scene that looked like Mardi Gras Armageddon—Amazons trapped up to their necks in bead necklaces, several more upside down in a mountain of amethyst earrings, and a battle forklift buried in silver charm bracelets.

  “You, Hazel Levesque,” Frank said, “are entirely freaking incredible. ”

  She wanted to kiss him right there, but they had no time. They ran back to the throne room.

  They stumbled across one Amazon who must’ve been loyal to Hylla. As soon as she saw the escapees, she turned away like they were invisible.

  Percy started to ask, “What the—”

  “Some of them want us to escape,” Hazel said. “I’ll explain later. ”

  The second Amazon they met wasn’t so friendly. She was dressed in full armor, blocking the throne-room entrance. She spun her spear with lightning speed, but this time Percy was ready. He drew Riptide and stepped into battle. As the Amazon jabbed at him, he sidestepped, cut her spear shaft in half, and slammed the hilt of his sword against her helmet.

  The guard crumpled.

  “Mars Almighty,” Frank said. “How did you—that wasn’t any Roman technique!”

  Percy grinned. “The graecus has some moves, my friend. After you. ”

  They ran into the throne room. As promised, Hylla and her guards had cleared out. Hazel dashed over to Arion’s cage and swiped an Amazon card across the lock. Instantly the stallion burst forth, rearing in triumph.

  Percy and Frank stumbled backward.

  “Um…is that thing tame?” Frank said.

  The horse whinnied angrily.

  “I don’t think so,” Percy guessed. “He just said, ‘I will trample you to death, silly Chinese Canadian baby man. ’”

  “You speak horse?” Hazel asked.

  “‘Baby man’?” Frank spluttered.

  “Speaking to horses is a Poseidon thing,” Percy said. “Uh, I mean a Neptune thing. ”

  “Then you and Arion should get along fine,” Hazel said. “He’s a son of Neptune too. ”

  Percy turned pale. “Excuse me?”

  If they hadn’t been in such a bad situation, Percy’s expression might have made her laugh. “The point is, he’s fast. He can get us out of here. ”

  Frank did not look thrilled. “Three of us can’t fit on one horse, can we? We’ll fall off, or slow him down, or—”

  Arion whinnied again.

  “Ouch,” Percy said. “Frank, the horse says you’re a—you know, actually, I’m not going to translate that. Anyway, he says there’s a chariot in the warehouse, and he’s willing to pull it. ”

  “There!” someone yelled from the back of the throne room. A dozen Amazons charged in, followed by males in orange jumpsuits. When they saw Arion, they backed up quickly and headed for the battle forklifts.

  Hazel vaulted onto Arion’s back.

  She grinned down at her friends. “I remember seeing that chariot. Follow me, guys!”

  She galloped into the larger cavern and scattered a crowd of males. Percy knocked out an Amazon. Frank swept two more off their feet with his spear. Hazel could feel Arion straining to run. He wanted to go full speed, but he needed more room. They had to make it outside.

  Hazel bowled into a patrol of Amazons, who scattered in terror at the sight of the horse. For once, Hazel’s spatha felt exactly the right length. She swung it at everyone who came within reach. No Amazon dared challenge her.

  Percy and Frank ran after her. Finally they reached the chariot. Arion stopped by the yoke, and Percy set to work with the reins and harness.

  “You’ve done this before?” Frank asked.

  Percy didn’t need to answer. His hands flew. In no time the chariot was ready. He jumped aboard and yelled, “Frank, come on! Hazel, go!”

  A battle cry went up behind them. A full army of Amazons stormed into the warehouse. Otrera herself stood astride a battle forklift, her silver hair flowing as she swung her mounted crossbow toward the chariot. “Stop them!” she yelled.

  Hazel spurred Arion. They raced across the cavern, weaving around pallets and forklifts. An arrow whizzed past Hazel’s head. Something exploded behind her, but she didn’t look back.

  “The stairs!” Frank yelled. “No way this horse can pull a chariot up that many flights of—OH MY GODS!”

  Thankfully the stairs were wide enough for the chariot, because Arion didn’t even slow down. He shot up the steps with the chariot rattling and
groaning. Hazel glanced back a few times to make sure Frank and Percy hadn’t fallen off. Their knuckles were white on the sides of the chariot, their teeth chattering like windup Halloween skulls.

  Finally they reached the lobby. Arion crashed through the main doors into the plaza and scattered a bunch of guys in business suits.

  Hazel felt the tension in Arion’s rib cage. The fresh air was making him crazy to run, but Hazel pulled back on his reins.

  “Ella!” Hazel shouted at the sky. “Where are you? We have to leave!”

  For a horrible second, she was afraid the harpy might be too far away to hear. She might be lost, or captured by the Amazons.

  Behind them a battle forklift clattered up the stairs and roared through the lobby, a mob of Amazons behind it.

  “Surrender!” Otrera screamed.

  The forklift raised its razor-sharp tines.

  “Ella!” Hazel cried desperately.

  In a flash of red feathers, Ella landed in the chariot. “Ella is here. Amazons are pointy. Go now. ”

  “Hold on!” Hazel warned. She leaned forward and said, “Arion, run!”

  The world seemed to elongate. Sunlight bent around them. Arion shot away from the Amazons and sped through downtown Seattle. Hazel glanced back and saw a line of smoking pavement where Arion’s hooves had touched the ground. He thundered toward the docks, leaping over cars, barreling through intersections.

  Hazel screamed at the top of her lungs, but it was a scream of delight. For the first time in her life—in her two lives—she felt absolutely unstoppable. Arion reached the water and leaped straight off the docks.

  Hazel’s ears popped. She heard a roar that she later realized was a sonic boom, and Arion tore over Puget Sound, seawater turning to steam in his wake as the skyline of Seattle receded behind them.

  XXXIII Frank

  FRANK WAS RELIEVED WHEN THE WHEELS FELL OFF.

  He’d already thrown up twice from the back of the chariot, which was not fun at the speed of sound. The horse seemed to bend time and space as he ran, blurring the landscape and making Frank feel like he’d just drunk a gallon of whole milk without his lactose-intolerance medicine. Ella didn’t help matters. She kept muttering: “Seven hundred and fifty miles per hour. Eight hundred. Eight hundred and three. Fast. Very fast. ”

  The horse sped north across Puget Sound, zooming past islands and fishing boats and very surprised pods of whales. The landscape ahead began to look familiar—Crescent Beach, Boundary Bay. Frank had gone sailing here once on a school trip. They’d crossed into Canada.

  The horse rocketed onto dry land. He followed Highway 99 north, running so fast, the cars seemed to be standing still.

  Finally, just as they were getting into Vancouver, the chariot wheels began to smoke.

  “Hazel!” Frank yelled. “We’re breaking up!”

  She got the message and pulled the reins. The horse didn’t seem happy about it, but he slowed to subsonic as they zipped through the city streets. They crossed the Ironworkers bridge into North Vancouver, and the chariot started to rattle dangerously. At last Arion stopped at the top of a wooded hill. He snorted with satisfaction, as if to say, That’s how we run, fools. The smoking chariot collapsed, spilling Percy, Frank, and Ella onto the wet, mossy ground.

 
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