The house of hades, p.45
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       The House of Hades, p.45
 

         Part #4 of The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
Page 45

 

  “Uh…” Leo noticed that she’d just picked three gods to blame, and one of them was his dad. He didn’t figure that was a good sign. “I doubt they’re listening. You know, the whole split personality thing—”

  “Show yourself!” the girl yelled at the sky, completely ignoring Leo. “It’s not bad enough I am exiled? It’s not bad enough you take away the few good heroes I’m allowed to meet? You think it’s funny to send me this—this charbroiled runt of a boy to ruin my tranquility? This is NOT FUNNY! Take him back!”

  “Hey, Sunshine,” Leo said. “I’m right here, you know. ”

  She growled like a cornered animal. “Do not call me Sunshine! Get out of that hole and come with me now so I can get you off my island!”

  “Well, since you asked so nicely…”

  Leo didn’t know what the crazy girl was so worked up about, but he didn’t really care. If she could help him leave this island, that was totally fine by him. He clutched his charred sphere and climbed out of the crater. When he reached the top, the girl was already marching down the shoreline. He jogged to catch up.

  She gestured in disgust at the burning wreckage. “This was a pristine beach! Look at it now. ”

  “Yeah, my bad,” Leo muttered. “I should’ve crashed on one of the other islands. Oh, wait—there aren’t any!”

  She snarled and kept walking along the edge of the water. Leo caught a whiff of cinnamon—maybe her perfume? Not that he cared. Her hair swayed down her back in a mesmerizing kind of way, which of course he didn’t care about either.

  He scanned the sea. Just like he’d seen during his fall, there were no landmasses or ships all the way to the horizon. Looking inland, he saw grassy hills dotted with trees. A footpath wound through a grove of cedars. Leo wondered where it led: probably to the girl’s secret lair, where she roasted her enemies so she could eat them at her dining table on the beach.

  He was so busy thinking about that, he didn’t notice when the girl stopped. He ran into her.

  “Gah!” She turned and grabbed his arms to keep from falling in the surf. Her hands were strong, as though she worked with them for a living. Back at camp, the girls in the Hephaestus cabin had had strong hands like that, but she didn’t look like a Hephaestus kid.

  She glared at him, her dark almond eyes only a few inches from his. Her cinnamon smell reminded him of his abuela’s apartment. Man, he hadn’t thought about that place in years.

  The girl pushed him away. “All right. This spot is good. Now tell me you want to leave. ”

  “What?” Leo’s brain was still kind of muddled from the crash landing. He wasn’t sure he had heard her right.

  “Do you want to leave?” she demanded. “Surely you’ve got somewhere to go!”

  “Uh…yeah. My friends are in trouble. I need to get back to my ship and—”

  “Fine,” she snapped. “Just say, I want to leave Ogygia. ”

  “Uh, okay. ” Leo wasn’t sure why, but her tone kind of hurt…which was stupid, since he didn’t care what this girl thought. “I want to leave—whatever you said. ”

  “Oh-gee-gee-ah. ” The girl pronounced it slowly, as if Leo were five years old.

  “I want to leave Oh-gee-gee-ah,” he said.

  She exhaled, clearly relieved. “Good. In a moment, a magical raft will appear. It will take you wherever you want to go. ”

  “Who are you?”

  She looked like she was about to answer but stopped herself. “It doesn’t matter. You’ll be gone soon. You’re obviously a mistake. ”

  That was harsh, Leo thought.

  He’d spent enough time thinking he was a mistake—as a demigod, on this quest, in life in general. He didn’t need a random crazy goddess reinforcing the idea.

  He remembered a Greek legend about a girl on an island. … Maybe one of his friends had mentioned it? It didn’t matter. As long as she let him leave.

  “Any moment now…” The girl stared out at the water.

  No magical raft appeared.

  “Maybe it got stuck in traffic,” Leo said.

  “This is wrong. ” She glared at the sky. “This is completely wrong!”

  “So…plan B?” Leo asked. “You got a phone, or—”

  “Agh!” The girl turned and stormed inland. When she got to the footpath, she sprinted into the grove of trees and disappeared.

  “Okay,” Leo said. “Or you could just run away. ”

  From his tool belt pouches he pulled some rope and a snap hook, then fastened the Archimedes sphere to his belt.

  He looked out to sea. Still no magic raft.

  He could stand here and wait, but he was hungry, thirsty, and tired. He was banged up pretty bad from his fall.

  He didn’t want to follow that crazy girl, no matter how good she smelled.

  On the other hand, he had no place else to go. The girl had a dining table, so she probably had food. And she seemed to find Leo’s presence annoying.

  “Annoying her is a plus,” he decided.

  He followed her into the hills.

  “HOLY HEPHAESTUS,” LEO SAID.

  The path opened into the nicest garden Leo had ever seen. Not that he had spent a lot of time in gardens, but dang. On the left was an orchard and a vineyard—peach trees with red-golden fruit that smelled awesome in the warm sun, carefully pruned vines bursting with grapes, bowers of flowering jasmine, and a bunch of other plants Leo couldn’t name.

  On the right were neat beds of vegetables and herbs, arranged like spokes around a big sparkling fountain where bronze satyrs spewed water into a central bowl.

  At the back of the garden, where the footpath ended, a cave opened in the side of a grassy hill. Compared to Bunker Nine back at camp, the entrance was tiny, but it was impressive in its own way. On either side, crystalline rock had been carved into glittering Grecian columns. The tops were fitted with a bronze rod that held silky white curtains.

  Leo’s nose was assaulted by good smells—cedar, juniper, jasmine, peaches, and fresh herbs. The aroma from the cave really caught his attention—like beef stew cooking.

  He started toward the entrance. Seriously, how could he not? He stopped when he noticed the girl. She was kneeling in her vegetable garden, her back to Leo. She muttered to herself as she dug furiously with a trowel.

  Leo approached her from one side so she could see him. He didn’t feel like surprising her when she was armed with a sharp gardening implement.

  She kept cursing in Ancient Greek and stabbing at the dirt. She had flecks of soil all over her arms, her face, and her white dress, but she didn’t seem to care.

  Leo could appreciate that. She looked better with a little mud—less like a beauty queen and more like an actual get-your-hands-dirty kind of person.

  “I think you’ve punished that dirt enough,” he offered.

  She scowled at him, her eyes red and watery. “Just go away. ”

  “You’re crying,” he said, which was stupidly obvious; but seeing her that way took the wind out of his helicopter blades, so to speak. It was hard to stay mad at someone who was crying.

  “None of your business,” she muttered. “It’s a big island. Just…find your own place. Leave me alone. ” She waved vaguely toward the south. “Go that way, maybe. ”

  “So, no magic raft,” Leo said. “No other way off the island?”

  “Apparently not!”

  “What am I supposed to do, then? Sit in the sand dunes until I die?”

  “That would be fine. …” The girl threw down her trowel and cursed at the sky. “Except I suppose he can’t die here, can he? Zeus! This is not funny!”

  Can’t die here?

  “Hold up. ” Leo’s head spun like a crankshaft. He couldn’t quite translate what this girl was saying—like when he heard Spaniards or South Americans speaking Spanish. Yeah, he could understand it, sort of; but it sounded so different, it was almost another language.

  “I’m go
ing to need some more information here,” he said. “You don’t want me in your face, that’s cool. I don’t want to be here either. But I’m not going to go die in a corner. I have to get off this island. There’s got to be a way. Every problem has a fix. ”

  She laughed bitterly. “You haven’t lived very long, if you still believe that. ”

  The way she said it sent a shiver up his back. She looked the same age as him, but he wondered how old she really was.

  “You said something about a curse,” he prompted.

  She flexed her fingers, like she was practicing her throat-strangling technique. “Yes. I cannot leave Ogygia. My father, Atlas, fought against the gods, and I supported him. ”

  “Atlas,” Leo said. “As in the Titan Atlas?”

  The girl rolled her eyes. “Yes, you impossible little…” Whatever she was going to say, she bit it back. “I was imprisoned here, where I could cause the Olympians no trouble. About a year ago, after the Second Titan War, the gods vowed to forgive their enemies and offer amnesty. Supposedly Percy made them promise—”

  “Percy,” Leo said. “Percy Jackson?”

  She squeezed her eyes shut. A tear trickled down her cheek.

  Oh, Leo thought.

  “Percy came here,” he said.

  She dug her fingers into the soil. “I—I thought I would be released. I dared to hope…but I am still here. ”

  Leo remembered now. The story was supposed to be a secret, but of course that meant it had spread like wildfire across the camp. Percy had told Annabeth. Months later, when Percy had gone missing, Annabeth told Piper. Piper told Jason…

  Percy had talked about visiting this island. He had met a goddess who’d gotten a major crush on him and wanted him to stay, but eventually she let him go.

  “You’re that lady,” Leo said. “The one who was named after Caribbean music. ”

  Her eyes glinted murderously. “Caribbean music. ”

  “Yeah. Reggae?” Leo shook his head. “Merengue? Hold on, I’ll get it. ”

  He snapped his fingers. “Calypso! But Percy said you were awesome. He said you were all sweet and helpful, not, um…”

  She shot to her feet. “Yes?”

  “Uh, nothing,” Leo said.

  “Would you be sweet,” she demanded, “if the gods forgot their promise to let you go? Would you be sweet if they laughed at you by sending another hero, but a hero who looked like—like you?”

  “Is that a trick question?”

  “Di Immortales!” She turned and marched into her cave.

  “Hey!” Leo ran after her.

  When he got inside, he lost his train of thought. The walls were made from multicolored chunks of crystal. White curtains divided the cave into different rooms with comfy pillows and woven rugs and platters of fresh fruit. He spotted a harp in one corner, a loom in another, and a big cooking pot where the stew was bubbling, filling the cavern with luscious smells.

  The strangest thing? The chores were doing themselves. Towels floated through the air, folding and stacking into neat piles. Spoons washed themselves in a copper sink. The scene reminded Leo of the invisible wind spirits that had served him lunch at Camp Jupiter.

 
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