The house of hades, p.46
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       The House of Hades, p.46
 

         Part #4 of The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
Page 46

 

  Calypso stood at a washbasin, cleaning the dirt off her arms.

  She scowled at Leo, but she didn’t yell at him to leave. She seemed to be running out of energy for her anger.

  Leo cleared his throat. If he was going to get any help from this lady, he needed to be nice. “So…I get why you’re angry. You probably never want to see another demigod again. I guess that didn’t sit right when, uh, Percy left you—”

  “He was only the latest,” she growled. “Before him, it was that pirate Drake. And before him, Odysseus. They were all the same! The gods send me the greatest heroes, the ones I cannot help but…”

  “You fall in love with them,” Leo guessed. “And then they leave you. ”

  Her chin trembled. “That is my curse. I had hoped to be free of it by now, but here I am, still stuck on Ogygia after three thousand years. ”

  “Three thousand. ” Leo’s mouth felt tingly, like he’d just eaten Pop Rocks. “Uh, you look good for three thousand. ”

  “And now…the worst insult of all. The gods mock me by sending you. ”

  Anger bubbled in Leo’s stomach.

  Yeah, typical. If Jason were here, Calypso would fall all over him. She’d beg him to stay, but he’d be all noble about returning to his duties, and he’d leave Calypso brokenhearted. That magic raft would totally arrive for him.

  But Leo? He was the annoying guest she couldn’t get rid of. She’d never fall for him, because she was totally out of his league. Not that he cared. She wasn’t his type anyway. She was way too annoying, and beautiful, and—well, it didn’t matter.

  “Fine,” he said. “I’ll leave you alone. I’ll build something myself and get off this stupid island without your help. ”

  She shook her head sadly. “You don’t understand, do you? The gods are laughing at both of us. If the raft will not appear, that means they’ve closed Ogygia. You’re stuck here the same as me. You can never leave. ”

  THE FIRST FEW DAYS WERE THE WORST.

  Leo slept outside on a bed of drop cloths under the stars. It got cold at night, even on the beach in the summer, so he built fires with the remains of Calypso’s dining table. That cheered him up a little.

  During the days, he walked the circumference of the island and found nothing of interest—unless you liked beaches and endless sea in every direction. He tried to send an Iris-message in the rainbows that formed in the sea spray, but he had no luck. He didn’t have any drachmas for an offering, and apparently the goddess Iris wasn’t interested in nuts and bolts.

  He didn’t even dream, which was unusual for him—or for any demigod—so he had no idea what was going on in the outside world. Had his friends gotten rid of Khione? Were they looking for him, or had they sailed on to Epirus to complete the quest?

  He wasn’t even sure what to hope for.

  The dream he’d had back on the Argo II finally made sense to him—when the evil sorceress lady had told him to either jump off a cliff into the clouds or descend into a dark tunnel where ghostly voices whispered. That tunnel must have represented the House of Hades, which Leo would never see now. He’d taken the cliff instead—falling through the sky to this stupid island. But in the dream, Leo had been given a choice. In real life, he’d had none. Khione had simply plucked him off his ship and shot him into orbit. Totally unfair.

  The worst part of being stuck here? He was losing track of the days. He woke up one morning and couldn’t remember if he’d been on Ogygia for three nights or four.

  Calypso wasn’t much help. Leo confronted her in the garden, but she just shook her head. “Time is difficult here. ”

  Great. For all Leo knew, a century had passed in the real world, and the war with Gaea was over for better or worse. Or maybe he’d only been on Ogygia for five minutes. His whole life might pass here in the time it took his friends on the Argo II to have breakfast.

  Either way, he needed to get off this island.

  Calypso took pity on him in some ways. She sent her invisible servants to leave bowls of stew and goblets of apple cider at the edge of the garden. She even sent him a few new sets of clothes—simple, undyed cotton pants and shirts that she must have made on her loom. They fit him so well, Leo wondered how she’d gotten his measurements. Maybe she just used her generic pattern for SCRAWNY MALE.

  Anyway, he was glad to have new threads, since his old ones were pretty smelly and burned up. Usually Leo could keep his clothes from burning when he caught fire, but it took concentration. Sometimes back at camp, if he wasn’t thinking about it, he’d be working on some metal project at the hot forge, look down, and realize his clothes had burned away, except for his magic tool belt and a smoking pair of underwear. Kind of embarrassing.

  Despite the gifts, Calypso obviously didn’t want to see him. One time he poked his head inside the cave and she freaked out, yelling and throwing pots at his head.

  Yeah, she was definitely on Team Leo.

  He ended up pitching a more permanent camp near the footpath, where the beach met the hills. That way he was close enough to pick up his meals, but Calypso didn’t have to see him and go into a pot-throwing rage.

  He made himself a lean-to with sticks and canvas. He dug a campfire pit. He even managed to build himself a bench and a worktable from some driftwood and dead cedar branches. He spent hours fixing the Archimedes sphere, cleaning it and repairing its circuits. He made himself a compass, but the needle would spin all crazy no matter what he tried. Leo guessed a GPS would have been useless too. This island was designed to be off the charts, impossible to leave.

  He remembered the old bronze astrolabe he’d picked up in Bologna—the one the dwarfs told him Odysseus had made. He had a sneaking suspicion Odysseus had been thinking about this island when he constructed it, but unfortunately Leo had left it back on the ship with Buford the Wonder Table. Besides, the dwarfs had told him the astrolabe didn’t work. Something about a missing crystal…

  He walked the beach, wondering why Khione had sent him here—assuming his landing here wasn’t an accident. Why not just kill him instead? Maybe Khione wanted him to be in limbo forever. Perhaps she knew the gods were too incapacitated to pay attention to Ogygia, and so the island’s magic was broken. That could be why Calypso was still stuck here, and why the magic raft wouldn’t appear for Leo.

  Or maybe the magic of this place was working just fine. The gods punished Calypso by sending her buff courageous dudes who left as soon as she fell for them. Maybe that was the problem. Calypso would never fall for Leo. She wanted him to leave. So they were stuck in a vicious circle. If that was Khione’s plan…wow. Major-league devious.

  Then one morning he made a discovery, and things got even more complicated.

  Leo was walking in the hills, following a little brook that ran between two big cedar trees. He liked this area—it was the only place on Ogygia where he couldn’t see the sea, so he could pretend he wasn’t stuck on an island. In the shade of the trees, he almost felt like he was back at Camp Half-Blood, heading through the woods toward Bunker Nine.

  He jumped over the creek. Instead of landing on soft earth, his feet hit something much harder.

  CLANG.

  Metal.

  Excited, Leo dug through the mulch until he saw the glint of bronze.

  “Oh, man. ” He giggled like a crazy person as he excavated the scraps.

  He had no idea why the stuff was here. Hephaestus was always tossing broken parts out of his godly workshop and littering the earth with scrap metal, but what were the chances some of it would hit Ogygia?

  Leo found a handful of wires, a few bent gears, a piston that might still work, and several hammered sheets of Celestial bronze—the smallest the size of a drink coaster, the largest the size of a war shield.

  It wasn’t a lot—not compared to Bunker Nine, or even to his supplies aboard the Argo II. But it was more than sand and rocks.

  He looked up at the sunlight winking through t
he cedar branches. “Dad? If you sent this here for me—thanks. If you didn’t…well, thanks anyway. ”

  He gathered up his treasure trove and lugged it back to his campsite.

  After that, the days passed more quickly, and with a lot more noise.

  First Leo made himself a forge out of mud bricks, each one baked with his own fiery hands. He found a large rock he could use as an anvil base, and he pulled nails from his tool belt until he had enough to melt into a plate for a hammering surface.

  Once that was done, he began to recast the Celestial bronze scraps. Each day his hammer rang on bronze until his rock anvil broke, or his tongs bent, or he ran out of firewood.

  Each evening he collapsed, drenched in sweat and covered in soot; but he felt great. At least he was working, trying to solve his problem.

  The first time Calypso came to check on him, it was to complain about the noise.

  “Smoke and fire,” she said. “Clanging on metal all day long. You’re scaring away the birds!”

  “Oh, no, not the birds!” Leo grumbled.

  “What do you hope to accomplish?”

  He glanced up and almost smashed his thumb with his hammer. He’d been staring at metal and fire so long he’d forgotten how beautiful Calypso was. Annoyingly beautiful. She stood there with the sunlight in her hair, her white skirt fluttering around her legs, a basket of grapes and fresh-baked bread tucked under one arm.

  Leo tried to ignore his rumbling stomach.

  “I’m hoping to get off this island,” he said. “That is what you want, right?”

  Calypso scowled. She set the basket near his bedroll. “You haven’t eaten in two days. Take a break and eat. ”

  “Two days?” Leo hadn’t even noticed, which surprised him, since he liked food. He was even more surprised that Calypso had noticed.

  “Thanks,” he muttered. “I’ll, uh, try to hammer more quietly. ”

  “Huh. ” She sounded unimpressed.

  After that, she didn’t complain about the noise or the smoke.

  The next time she visited, Leo was putting the final touches on his first project. He didn’t see her until she spoke right behind him.

  “I brought you—”

  Leo jumped, dropping his wires. “Bronze bulls, girl! Don’t sneak up on me like that!”

  She was wearing red today—Leo’s favorite color. That was completely irrelevant. She looked really good in red. Also irrelevant.

  “I wasn’t sneaking,” she said. “I was bringing you these. ”

  She showed him the clothes that were folded over her arm: a new pair of jeans, a white T-shirt, an army fatigue jacket…wait, those were his clothes, except that they couldn’t be. His original army jacket had burned up months ago. He hadn’t been wearing it when he landed on Ogygia. But the clothes Calypso held looked exactly like the clothes he’d been wearing the first day he’d arrived at Camp Half-Blood—except these looked bigger, resized to fit him better.

  “How?” he asked.

  Calypso set the clothes at his feet and backed away as if he were a dangerous beast. “I do have a little magic, you know. You keep burning through the clothes I give you, so I thought I would weave something less flammable. ”

 
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