The Sea of Monsters – Chapter 12: We Check In To C. C. ’S Spa & Resort

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Chapter 12: We Check In To C. C. ’S Spa & Resort

I woke up in a rowboat with a makeshift sail stitched of gray uniform fabric. Annabeth sat next to me, tacking into the wind. 

  I tried to sit up and immediately felt woozy. 

  “Rest,” she said. “You’re going to need it. ”

  “Tyson … ?”

  She shook her head. “Percy, I’m really sorry. ”

  We were silent while the waves tossed us up and down. 

  “He may have survived,” she said halfheartedly. “I mean, fire can’t kill him. ”

  I nodded, but I had no reason to feel hopeful. I’d seen that explosion rip through solid iron. If Tyson had been down in the boiler room, there was no way he could’ve lived. 

  He’d given his life for us, and all I could think about were the times I’d felt embarrassed by him and had denied that the two of us were related. 

  Waves lapped at the boat. Annabeth showed me some things she’d salvaged from the wreckage—Hermes’s thermos (now empty), a Ziploc bag full of ambrosia, a couple of sailors’ shirts, and a bottle of Dr Pepper. She’d fished me out of the water and found my knapsack, bitten in half by Scylla’s teeth. Most of my stuff had floated away, but I still had Hermes’s bottle of multivitamins, and of course I had Riptide. The ballpoint pen always appeared back in my pocket no matter where I lost it. 

  We sailed for hours. Now that we were in the Sea of Monsters, the water glittered a more brilliant green, like Hydra acid. The wind smelled fresh and salty, but it carried a strange metallic scent, too—as if a thunderstorm were coming. Or something even more dangerous. I knew what direction we needed to go. I knew we were exactly one hundred thirteen nautical miles west by northwest of our destination. But that didn’t make me feel any less lost. 

  No matter which way we turned, the sun seemed to shine straight into my eyes. We took turns sipping from the Dr Pepper, shading ourselves with the sail as best we could. And we talked about my latest dream of Grover. 

  By Annabeth’s estimate, we had less than twenty-four hours to find Grover, assuming my dream was accurate, and assuming the Cyclops Polyphemus didn’t change his mind and try to marry Grover earlier. 

  “Yeah,” I said bitterly. “You can never trust a Cyclops. ”

  Annabeth stared across the water. “I’m sorry, Percy. I was wrong about Tyson, okay? I wish I could tell him that. ”

  I tried to stay mad at her, but it wasn’t easy. We’d been through a lot together. She’d saved my life plenty of times. It was stupid of me to resent her. 

  I looked down at our measly possessions—the empty wind thermos, the bottle of multivitamins. I thought about Luke’s look of rage when I’d tried to talk to him about his dad. 

  “Annabeth, what’s Chiron’s prophecy?”

  She pursed her lips. “Percy, I shouldn’t—”

  “I know Chiron promised the gods he wouldn’t tell me. But you didn’t promise, did you?”

  “Knowledge isn’t always good for you. ”

  “Your mom is the wisdom goddess!”

  “I know! But every time heroes learn the future, they try to change it, and it never works. ”

  “The gods are worried about something I’ll do when I get older,” I guessed. “Something when I turn sixteen. ”

  Annabeth twisted her Yankees cap in her hands. “Percy, I don’t know the full prophecy, but it warns about a half-blood child of the Big Three—the next one who lives to the age of sixteen. That’s the real reason Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades swore a pact after World War II not to have any more kids. The next child of the Big Three who reaches sixteen will be a dangerous weapon. ”

  “Why?”

  “Because that hero will decide the fate of Olympus. He or she will make a decision that either saves the Age of the Gods, or destroys it. ”

  I let that sink in. I don’t get seasick, but suddenly I felt ill. “That’s why Kronos didn’t kill me last summer. ”

  She nodded. “You could be very useful to him. If he can get you on his side, the gods will be in serious trouble. ”

  “But if it’s me in the prophecy—”

  “We’ll only know that if you survive three more years. That can be a long time for a half-blood. When Chiron first learned about Thalia, he assumed she was the one in the prophecy. That’s why he was so desperate to get her safely to camp. Then she went down fighting and got turned into a pine tree and none of us knew what to think. Until you came along. ”

  On our port side, a spiky green dorsal fin about fifteen feet long curled out of the water and disappeared. 

  “This kid in the prophecy … he or she couldn’t be like, a Cyclops?” I asked. “The Big Three have lots of monster children. ”

  Annabeth shook her head. “The Oracle said ‘half-blood. ’ That always means half-human, half-god. There’s really nobody alive who it could be, except you. ”

  “Then why do the gods even let me live? It would be safer to kill me. ”

  “You’re right. ”

  “Thanks a lot. ”

  “Percy, I don’t know. I guess some of the gods would like to kill you, but they’re probably afraid of offending Poseidon. Other gods … maybe they’re still watching you, trying to decide what kind of hero you’re going be. You could be a weapon for their survival, after all. The real question is … what will you do in three years? What decision will you make?”

  “Did the prophecy give any hints?”

  Annabeth hesitated. 

  Maybe she would’ve told me more, but just then a seagull swooped down out of nowhere and landed on our makeshift mast. Annabeth looked startled as the bird dropped a small cluster of leaves into her lap. 

  “Land,” she said. “There’s land nearby!”

  I sat up. Sure enough, there was a line of blue and brown in the distance. Another minute and I could make out an island with a small mountain in the center, a dazzling white collection of buildings, a beach dotted with palm trees, and a harbor filled with a strange assortment of boats. 

  The current was pulling our rowboat toward what looked like a tropical paradise. 

  “Welcome!” said the lady with the clipboard. 

  She looked like a flight attendant—blue business suit, perfect makeup, hair pulled back in a ponytail. She shook our hands as we stepped onto the dock. With the dazzling smile she gave us, you would’ve thought we’d just gotten off the Princess Andromeda rather than a banged-up rowboat. 

  Then again, our rowboat wasn’t the weirdest ship in port. Along with a bunch of pleasure yachts, there was a U. S. Navy submarine, several dugout canoes, and an old-fashioned three-masted sailing ship. There was a helipad with a “Channel Five Fort Lauderdale” helicopter on it, and a short runway with a Learjet and a propeller plane that looked like a World War II fighter. Maybe they were replicas for tourists to look at or something. 

  “Is this your first time with us?” the clipboard lady inquired. 

 Annabeth and I exchanged looks. Annabeth said, “Umm …”

  “First—time—at—spa,” the lady said as she wrote on her clipboard. “Let’s see …”

  She looked us up and down critically. “Mmm. An herbal wrap to start for the young lady. And of course, a complete makeover for the young gentleman. ”

  “A what?” I asked. 

  She was too busy jotting down notes to answer. 

  “Right!” She said with a breezy smile. “Well, I’m sure C. C. will want to speak with you personally before the luau. Come, please. ”

  Now here’s the thing. Annabeth and I were used to traps, and usually those traps looked good at first. So I expected the clipboard lady to turn into a snake or a demon, or something, any minute. But on the other hand, we’d been floating in a rowboat for most of the day. I was hot, tired, and hungry, and when this lady mentioned a luau, my stomach sat up on its hind legs and begged like a dog. 

  “I guess it couldn’t hurt,” Annabeth muttered. 

  Of course it could, but we followed the lady anyway. I kept my hands in my pockets where I’d stashed my only magic defenses—Hermes’s multivitamins and Riptide— but the farther we wandered into the resort, the more I forgot about them. 

  The place was amazing. There was white marble and blue water everywhere I looked. 

  Terraces climbed up the side of the mountain, with swimming pools on every level, connected by watersides and waterfalls and underwater tubes you could swim through. Fountains sprayed water into the air, forming impossible shapes, like flying eagles and galloping horses. 

  Tyson loved horses, and I knew he’d love those fountains. I almost turned around to see the expression on his face before I remembered: Tyson was gone. 

  “You okay?” Annabeth asked me. “You look pale. ”

  “I’m okay,” I lied. “Just … let’s keep walking. ”

  We passed all kinds of tame animals. A sea turtle napped in a stack of beach towels. A leopard stretched out asleep on the diving board. The resort guests—only young women, as far as I could see—lounged in deck chairs, drinking fruit smoothies or reading magazines while herbal gunk dried on their faces and manicurists in white uniforms did their nails. 

  As we headed up a staircase toward what looked like the main building, I heard a woman singing. Her voice drifted through the air like a lullaby. Her words were in some language other than Ancient Greek, but just as old—Minoan, maybe, or something like that. I could understand what she sang about—moonlight in the olive groves, the colors of the sunrise. And magic. Something about magic. Her voice seemed to lift me off the steps and carry me toward her. 

  We came into a big room where the whole front wall was windows. The back wall was covered in mirrors, so the room seemed to go on forever. There was a bunch of expensive-looking white furniture, and on a table in one corner was a large wire pet cage. The cage seemed out of place, but I didn’t think about it too much, because just then I saw the lady who’d been singing … and whoa. 

  She sat at a loom the size of a big screen TV, her hands weaving colored thread back and forth with amazing skill. The tapestry shimmered like it was three dimensional—a waterfall scene so real I could see the water moving and clouds drifting across a fabric sky. 

  Annabeth caught her breath. “It’s beautiful. ”

  The woman turned. She was even prettier than her fabric. Her long dark hair was braided with threads of gold. She had piercing green eyes and she wore a silky black dress with shapes that seemed to move in the fabric: animal shadows, black upon black, like deer running through a forest at night. 

  “You appreciate weaving, my dear?” the woman asked. 

  “Oh, yes, ma’am!” Annabeth said. “My mother is—”

  She stopped herself. You couldn’t just go around announcing that your mom was Athena, the goddess who invented the loom. Most people would lock you in a rubber room. 

  Our hostess just smiled. “You have good taste, my dear. I’m so glad you’ve come. My name is C. C. ”

  The animals in the corner cage started squealing. They must’ve been guinea pigs, from the sound of them. 

  We introduced ourselves to C. C. She looked me over with a twinge of disapproval, as if I’d failed some kind of test. Immediately, I felt bad. For some reason, I really wanted to please this lady. 

  “Oh, dear,” she sighed. “You do need my help. ”

  “Ma’am?” I asked. 

  C. C. called to the lady in the business suit. “Hylla, take Annabeth on a tour, will you? Show her what we have available. The clothing will need to change. And the hair, my goodness. We will do a full image consultation after I’ve spoken with this young gentleman. ”

  “But …” Annabeth’s voice sounded hurt. “What’s wrong with my hair?”

  C. C. smiled benevolently. “My dear, you are lovely. Really! But you’re not showing off yourself or your talents at all. So much wasted potential!”

  “Wasted?”

  “Well, surely you’re not happy the way you are! My goodness, there’s not a single person who is. But don’t worry. We can improve anyone here at the spa. Hylla will show you what I mean. 

  You, my dear, need to unlock your true self!”

  Annabeth’s eyes glowed with longing. I’d never seen her so much at a loss for words. “But … what about Percy?”

  “Oh, definitely,” C. C. said, giving me a sad look. “Percy requires my personal attention. He needs much more work than you. ”

  Normally if somebody had told me that, I would’ve gotten angry, but when C. C. said it, I felt sad. I’d disappointed her. I had to figure out how to do better. 

  The guinea pigs squealed like they were hungry. 

  “Well …” Annabeth said. “I suppose …”

  “Right this way, dear,” Hylla said. And Annabeth allowed herself to be led away into the waterfall-laced gardens of the spa. 

  C. C. took my arm and guided me toward the mirrored wall. “You see, Percy … to unlock your potential, you’ll need serious help. The first step is admitting that you’re not happy the way you are. ”

  I fidgeted in the front of the mirror. I hated thinking about my appearance—like the first zit that had cropped up on my nose at the beginning of the school year, or the fact that my two front teeth weren’t perfectly even, or that my hair never stayed down straight. 

  C. C. ’s voice brought all of these things to mind, as if she were passing me under a microscope. And my clothes were not cool. I knew that. 

  Who cares? Part of me thought. But standing in front of C. C. ’s mirror, it was hard to see anything good in myself. 

  “There, there,” C. C. consoled. “How about we try … this. ”

  She snapped her fingers and a sky-blue curtain rolled down over the mirror. It shimmered like the fabric on her loom. 

  “What do you see?” C. C. asked. 

  I looked at the blue cloth, not sure what she meant. “I don’t—”

  Then it changed colors. I saw myself—a reflection, but not a reflection. Shimmering there on the cloth was a cooler version of Percy Jackson—with just the right clothes, a confident smile on my face. My teeth were straight. No zits. A perfect tan. More athletic. Maybe a couple of inches taller. It was me, without the faults. 

  “Whoa,” I managed. 

  “Do you want that?” C. C. asked. “Or shall I try a different—”

  “No,” I said. “That’s … that’s amazing. Can you really—”

  “I can give you a full makeover,” C. C. promised. 

  “What’s the catch?” I said. “I have to like … eat a special diet?”

  “Oh, it’s quite easy,” C. C. said. “Plenty of fresh fruit, a mild exercise program, and of course … this. ”

  She stepped over to her wet bar and filled a glass with water. Then she ripped open a drink-mix packet and poured in some red powder. The mixture began to glow. When it faded, the drink looked just like a strawberry milk shake. 

  “One of these, substituted for a regular meal,” C. C. said. “I guarantee you’ll see results immediately. ”

  “How is that possible?”

  She laughed. “Why question it? I mean, don’t you want the perfect you right away?”

  Something nagged at the back of my mind. “Why are there no guys at this spa?”

  “Oh, but there are,” C. C. assured me. “You’ll meet them quite soon. Just try the mixture. 

  You’ll see. ”

  I looked at the blue tapestry, at the reflection of me, but not me. 

  “Now, Percy,” C. C. chided. “The hardest part of the makeover process is giving up control. 

  You have to decide: do you want to trust your judgment about what you should be, or my judgment?”

  My throat felt dry. I heard myself say, “Your judgment. ”

  C. C. smiled and handed me the glass. I lifted it to my lips. 

  It tasted just like it looked—like a strawberry milk shake. Almost immediately a warm feeling spread through my gut: pleasant at first, then painfully hot, searing, as if the mixture were coming to a boil inside of me. 

  I doubled over and dropped the cup. “What have you … what’s happening?”

  “Don’t worry, Percy,” C. C. said. “The pain will pass. Look! As I promised. Immediate results. ”

  Something was horribly wrong. 

  The curtain dropped away, and in the mirror I saw my hands shriveling, curling, growing long delicate claws. Fur sprouted on my face, under my shirt, in every uncomfortable place you can imagine. My teeth felt too heavy in my mouth. My clothes were getting too big, or C. C. was getting too tall—no, I was shrinking. 

  In one awful flash, I sank into a cavern of dark cloth. I was buried in my own shirt. I tried to run but hands grabbed me—hands as big as I was. I tried to scream for help, but all that came out of my mouth was, “Reeet, reeet, reeet!”

  The giant hands squeezed me around the middle, lifting me into the air. I struggled and kicked with legs and arms that seemed much too stubby, and then I was staring, horrified, into the enormous face of C. C. 

  “Perfect!” her voice boomed. I squirmed in alarm, but she only tightened her grip around my furry belly. “See, Percy? You’ve unlocked your true self!”

  She held me up to the mirror, and what I saw made me scream in terror, “Reeet, reeet, reeet!” There was C. C. , beautiful and smiling, holding a fluffy, bucktoothed creature with tiny claws and white and orange fur. When I twisted, so did the furry critter in the mirror. I was … I was …

  “A guinea pig,” C. C. said. “Lovely, aren’t you? Men are pigs, Percy Jackson. I used to turn them into real pigs, but they were so smelly and large and difficult to keep. Not much different than they were before, really. Guinea pigs are much more convenient! Now come, and meet the other men. ”

  “Reeet!” I protested, trying to scratch her, but C. C. squeezed me so tight I almost blacked out. 

  “None of that, little one,” she scolded, “or I’ll feed you to the owls. Go into the cage like a good little pet. Tomorrow, if you behave, you’ll be on your way. There is always a classroom in need of a new guinea pig. ”

My mind was racing as fast as my tiny little heart. I needed to get back to my clothes, which were lying in a heap on the floor. If I could do that, I could get Riptide out of my pocket and … And what? I couldn’t uncap the pen. Even if I did, I couldn’t hold the sword. 

  I squirmed helplessly as C. C. brought me over to the guinea pig cage and opened the wire door. 

  “Meet my discipline problems, Percy,” she warned. “They’ll never make good classroom pets, but they might teach you some manners. Most of them have been in this cage for three hundred years. If you don’t want to stay with them permanently, I’d suggest you—”

  Annabeth’s voice called: “Miss C. C. ?”

  C. C. cursed in Ancient Greek. She plopped me into the cage and closed the door. I squealed and clawed at the bars, but it was no good. I watched as C. C. hurriedly kicked my clothes under the loom just as Annabeth came in. 

  I almost didn’t recognize her. She was wearing a sleeveless silk dress like C. C. ’s, only white. 

  Her blond hair was newly washed and combed and braided with gold. Worst of all, she was wearing makeup, which I never thought Annabeth would be caught dead in. I mean, she looked good. Really good. I probably would’ve been tongue-tied if I could’ve said anything except reet, reet, reet. But there was also something totally wrong about it. It just wasn’t Annabeth. 

  She looked around the room and frowned. “Where’s Percy?”

  I squealed up a storm, but she didn’t seem to hear me. 

  C. C. smiled. “He’s having one of our treatments, my dear. Not to worry. You look wonderful!

  What did you think of your tour?”

  Annabeth’s eyes brightened. “Your library is amazing!”

  “Yes, indeed,” C. C. said, “The best knowledge of the past three millennia. Anything you want to study, anything you want to be, my dear. ”

  “An architect?”

  “Pah!” C. C. said. “You, my dear, have the makings of a sorceress. Like me. ”

  Annabeth took a step back. “A sorceress?”

  “Yes, my dear. ” C. C. held up her hand. A flame appeared in her palm and danced across her fingertips. “My mother is Hecate, the goddess of magic. I know a daughter of Athena when I see one. We are not so different, you and I. We both seek knowledge. We both admire greatness. 

  Neither of us needs to stand in the shadow of men. ”

  “I—I don’t understand. ”

  Again, I squealed my best, trying to get Annabeth’s attention, but she either couldn’t hear me or didn’t think the noises were important. Meanwhile, the other guinea pigs were emerging from their hutch to check me out. I didn’t think it was possible for guinea pigs to look mean, but these did. 

  There were half a dozen, with dirty fur and cracked teeth and beady red eyes. They were covered with shavings and smelled like they really had been in here for three hundred years, without getting their cage cleaned. 

  “Stay with me,” C. C. was telling Annabeth. “Study with me. You can join our staff, become a sorceress, learn to bend others to your will. You will become immortal!”

  “But—”

  “You are too intelligent, my dear,” C. C. said. “You know better than to trust that silly camp for heroes. How many great female half-blood heroes can you name?”

  “Um, Atalanta, Amelia Earhart—”

  “Bah! Men get all the glory. ” C. C. closed her fist and extinguished the magic flame. “The only way to power for women is sorcery. Medea, Calypso, now there were powerful women! And me, of course. The greatest of all. ”

  “You … C. C. … Circe!”

  “Yes, my dear. ”

  Annabeth backed up, and Circe laughed. “You need not worry. I mean you no harm. ”

  “What have you done to Percy?”

  “Only helped him realize his true form. ”

  Annabeth scanned the room. Finally she saw the cage, and me scratching at the bars, all the other guinea pigs crowding around me. Her eyes went wide. 

  “Forget him,” Circe said. “Join me and learn the ways of sorcery. ”

  “But—”

  “Your friend will be well cared for. He’ll be shipped to a wonderful new home on the mainland. The kindergartners will adore him. Meanwhile, you will be wise and powerful. You will have all you ever wanted. ”

  Annabeth was still staring at me, but she had a dreamy expression on her face. She looked the same way I had when Circe enchanted me into drinking the guinea pig milk shake. I squealed and scratched, trying to warn her to snap out of it, but I was absolutely powerless. 

  “Let me think about it,” Annabeth murmured. “Just… give me a minute alone. To say good-bye. ”

  “Of course, my dear,” Circe cooed. “One minute. Oh … and so you have absolute privacy …”

  She waved her hand and iron bars slammed down over the windows. She swept out of the room and I heard the locks on the door click shut behind her. 

  The dreamy look melted off Annabeth’s face. 

  She rushed over to my cage. “All right, which one is you?

  I squealed, but so did all the other guinea pigs. Annabeth looked desperate. She scanned the room and spotted the cuff of my jeans sticking out from under the loom. 

  Yes!

  She rushed over and rummaged through my pockets. 

  But instead of bringing out Riptide, she found the bottle of Hermes multivitamins and started struggling with the cap. 

  I wanted to scream at her that this wasn’t the time for taking supplements! She had to draw the sword!

  She popped a lemon chewable in her mouth just as the door flew open and Circe came back in, flanked by two of her business-suited attendants. 

  “Well,” Circe sighed, “how fast a minute passes. What is your answer, my dear?”

  “This,” Annabeth said, and she drew her bronze knife. 

  The sorceress stepped back, but her surprise quickly passed. She sneered. “Really, little girl, a knife against my magic? Is that wise?”

  Circe looked back at her attendants, who smiled. They raised their hands as if preparing to cast a spell. 

  Run! I wanted to tell Annabeth, but all I could make were rodent noises. The other guinea pigs squealed in terror and scuttled around the cage. I had the urge to panic and hide, too, but I had to think of something! I couldn’t stand to lose Annabeth the way I’d lost Tyson. 

  “What will Annabeth’s makeover be?” Circe mused. “Something small and ill-tempered. I know … a shrew!”

  Blue fire coiled from her fingers curling like serpents around Annabeth. 

  I watched, horror-struck, but nothing happened. Annabeth was still Annabeth, only angrier. 

  She leaped forward and stuck the point of her knife against Circe’s neck. “How about turning me into a panther instead? One that has her claws at your throat!”

  “How!” Circe yelped. 

  Annabeth held up my bottle of vitamins for the sorceress to see. 

  Circe howled in frustration. “Curse Hermes and his multivitamins! Those are such a fad! They do nothing for you. ”

  “Turn Percy back to a human or else!” Annabeth said. 

  “I can’t!”

  “Then you asked for it. ”

  Circe’s attendants stepped forward, but their mistress said, “Get back! She’s immune to magic until that cursed vitamin wears off. ”

  Annabeth dragged Circe over to the guinea pig cage, knocked the top off, and poured the rest of the vitamins inside. 

  “No!” Circe screamed. 

  I was the first to get a vitamin, but all the other guinea pigs scuttled out, too, and checked out this new food. 

  The first nibble, and I felt all fiery inside. I gnawed at the vitamin until it stopped looking so huge, and the cage got smaller, and then suddenly, bang! The cage exploded. I was sitting on the floor, a human again—somehow back in my regular clothes, thank the gods—with six other guys who all looked disoriented, blinking and shaking wood shavings out of their hair. 

  “No!” Circe screamed. “You don’t understand! Those are the worst!”

  One of the men stood up—a huge guy with a long tangled pitch-black beard and teeth the same color. He wore mismatched clothes of wool and leather, knee-length boots, and a floppy felt hat. The other men were dressed more simply—in breeches and stained white shirts. All of them were barefoot. 

  “Argggh!” bellowed the big man. “What’s the witch done t’me!”

  “No!” Circe moaned. 

  Annabeth gasped. “I recognize you! Edward Teach, son of Ares?”

  “Aye, lass,” the big man growled. “Though most call me Blackbeard! And there’s the sorceress what captured us, lads. Run her through, and then I mean to find me a big bowl of celery! Arggggh!”

  Circe screamed. She and her attendants ran from the room, chased by the pirates. 

  Annabeth sheathed her knife and glared at me. 

  “Thanks …” I faltered. “I’m really sorry—”

  Before I could figure out how to apologize for being such an idiot, she tackled me with a hug, then pulled away just as quickly. “I’m glad you’re not a guinea pig. ”

  “Me, too. ” I hoped my face wasn’t as red as it felt. 

  She undid the golden braids in her hair. 

  “Come on, Seaweed Brain,” she said. “We have to get away while Circe’s distracted. ”

  We ran down the hillside through the terraces, past screaming spa workers and pirates ransacking the resort. Blackbeard’s men broke the tiki torches for the luau, threw herbal wraps into the swimming pool, and kicked over tables of sauna towels. 

  I almost felt bad letting the unruly pirates out, but I guessed they deserved something more entertaining than the exercise wheel after being cooped up in a cage for three centuries. 

  “Which ship?” Annabeth said as we reached the docks. 

  I looked around desperately. We couldn’t very well take our rowboat. We had to get off the island fast, but what else could we use? A sub? A fighter jet? I couldn’t pilot any of those things. And then I saw it. 

  “There,” I said. 

  Annabeth blinked. “But—”

  “I can make it work. ”

  “How?”

  I couldn’t explain. I just somehow knew an old sailing vessel was the best bet for me. I grabbed Annabeth’s hand and pulled her toward the three-mast ship. Painted on its prow was the name that I would only decipher later: Queen Anne’s Revenge. 

  “Argggh!” Blackbeard yelled somewhere behind us. “Those scalawags are a-boarding me vessel! Get ‘em, lads!”

  “We’ll never get going in time!” Annabeth yelled as we climbed aboard. 

  I looked around at the hopeless maze of sail and ropes. The ship was in great condition for a three-hundred-year-old vessel, but it would still take a crew of fifty several hours to get underway. 

  We didn’t have several hours. I could see the pirates running down the stairs, waving tiki torches and sticks of celery. 

  I closed my eyes and concentrated on the waves lapping against the hull, the ocean currents, the winds all around me. Suddenly, the right word appeared in my mind. “Mizzenmast!” I yelled. 

Annabeth looked at me like I was nuts, but in the next second, the air was filled with whistling sounds of ropes being snapped taut, canvases unfurling, and wooden pulleys creaking. 

  Annabeth ducked as a cable flew over her head and wrapped itself around the bowsprit. 

  “Percy, how …”

  I didn’t have an answer, but I could feel the ship responding to me as if it were part of my body. I willed the sails to rise as easily as if I were flexing my arm. I willed the rudder to turn. 

  The Queen Anne’s Revenge lurched away from the dock, and by the time the pirates arrived at the water’s edge, we were already underway, sailing into the Sea of Monsters. 

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