The son of neptune, p.64
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       The Son of Neptune, p.64

         Part #2 of The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
 
Page 64

 

  “He’s right,” Gwen said from the second row. “I, for one, trust Percy’s word. Greek or not, he restored the honor of the legion. You saw him on the battlefield last night. Would anyone here say he is not a true hero of Rome?”

  Nobody argued. A few nodded in agreement.

  Reyna stood. Percy watched her anxiously. Her opinion could change everything—for better or worse.

  “You claim this is a combined quest,” she said. “You claim Juno intends for us to work with this—this other group, Camp

  Half-Blood. Yet the Greeks have been our enemies for eons.

  They are known for their deceptions. ”

  “Maybe so,” Percy said. “But enemies can become friends. A week ago, would you have thought Romans and Amazons would be fighting side by side?”

  Queen Hylla laughed. “He’s got a point. ”

  “The demigods of Camp Half-Blood have already been working with Camp Jupiter,” Percy said. “We just didn’t realize it. During the Titan War last summer, while you were attacking Mount Othrys, we were defending Mount Olympus in Manhattan. I fought Kronos myself. ”

  Reyna backed up, almost tripping over her toga. “You… what?”

  “I know it’s hard to believe,” Percy said. “But I think I’ve earned your trust. I’m on your side. Hazel and Frank—I’m sure they’re meant to go with me on this quest. The other four are on their way from Camp Half-Blood right now. One of them is Jason Grace, your old praetor. ”

  “Oh, come on!” Octavian shouted. “He’s making things up, now. ”

  Reyna frowned. “It is a lot to believe. Jason is coming back with a bunch of Greek demigods? You say they’re going to appear in the sky in a heavily armed warship, but we shouldn’t be worried. ”

  “Yes. ” Percy looked over the rows of nervous, doubtful spectators. “Just let them land. Hear them out. Jason will backup everything I’m telling you. I swear it on my life. ”

  “On your life?” Octavian looked meaningfully at the senate. “We will remember that, if this turns out to be a trick. ”

  Right on cue, a messenger rushed into the Senate House, gasping as if he’d run all the way from camp. “Praetors! I’m sorry to interrupt, but our scouts report—”

  “Ship!” Tyson said happily, pointing at the hole in the ceiling. “Yay!

  Sure enough, a Greek warship appeared out of the clouds, about a half a mile away, descending toward the Senate House. As it got closer, Percy could see bronze shields glinting along the sides, billowing sails, and a familiar-looking figurehead shaped like a metal dragon. On the tallest mast, a big white flag of truce snapped in the wind.

  The Argo II. It was the most incredible ship he’d ever seen.

  “Praetors!” the messenger cried. “What are your orders?”

  Octavian shot to his feet. “You need to ask?” His face was red with rage. He was strangling his teddy bear. “The omens are horrible! This is a trick, a deception. Beware Greeks bearing gifts!”

  He jabbed a finger at Percy. “His friends are attacking in a warship. He has led them here. We must attack!”

  “No,” Percy said firmly. “You all raised me as praetor for a reason. I will fight to defend this camp with my life. But these aren’t enemies. I say we stand ready, but do not attack. Let them land. Let them speak. If it is a trick, then I will fight with you, as I did last night. But it is not a trick. ”

  All eyes turned toward Reyna.

  She studied the approaching warship. Her expression hardened. If she vetoed Percy’s orders…well, he didn’t know what would happen. Chaos and confusion, at the very least.

  Most likely, the Romans would follow her lead. She’d been their leader much longer than Percy.

  “Hold your fire,” Reyna said. “But have the legion stand ready. Percy Jackson is your duly chosen praetor. We will trus this word—unless we are given clear reason not to. Senators, let us adjourn to the forum and meet our…new friends. ”

  The senators stampeded out of the auditorium—whether from excitement or panic, Percy wasn’t sure. Tyson ran after them, yelling, “Yay! Yay!” with Ella fluttering around his head.

  Octavian gave Percy a disgusted look, then threw down his teddy bear and followed the crowd.

  Reyna stood at Percy’s shoulder.

  “I support you, Percy,” she said. “I trust your judgment. But for all our sakes, I hope we can keep the peace between our campers and your Greek friends. ”

  “We will,” he promised. “You’ll see. ”

  She glanced up at the warship. Her expression turned a little wistful. “You say Jason is aboard…I hope that’s true.

  I’ve missed him. ”

  She marched outside, leaving Percy alone with Hazel and Frank.

  “They’re coming down right in the forum,” Frank said nervously. “Terminus is going to have a heart attack. ”

  “Percy,” Hazel said, “you swore on your life. Romans take that seriously. If anything goes wrong, even by accident, Octavian is going to kill you. You know that, right?”

  Percy smiled. He knew the stakes were high. He knew this day could go horribly wrong. But he also knew that Annabeth was on that ship. If things went right, this would be the best day of his life.

  He threw one arm around Hazel and one arm around Frank.

  “Come on,” he said. “Let me introduce you to my other family. ”

 
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