The Sea of Monsters – Chapter 15: Nobody Gets The Fleece

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Chapter 15: Nobody Gets The Fleece

“I got Nobody!” Polyphemus gloated. 

  We crept to the cave entrance and saw the Cyclops, grinning wickedly, holding up empty air. 

  The monster shook his fist, and a baseball cap fluttered to the ground. There was Annabeth, hanging upside down by her legs. 

  “Hah!” the Cyclops said. “Nasty invisible girl! Already got feisty one for wife. Means you gotta be grilled with mango chutney!”

  Annabeth struggled, but she looked dazed. She had a nasty cut on her forehead. Her eyes were glassy. 

  “I’ll rush him,” I whispered to Clarisse. “Our ship is around the back of the island. You and Grover—”

  “No way,” they said at the same time. Clarisse had armed herself with a highly collectible rams-horn spear from the Cyclops’s cave. Grover had found a sheep’s thigh bone, which he didn’t look too happy about, but he was gripping it like a club, ready to attack. 

  “We’ll take him together,” Clarisse growled. 

  “Yeah,” Grover said. Then he blinked, like he couldn’t believe he’d just agreed with Clarisse about something. 

  “All right,” I said. “Attack plan Macedonia. ”

  They nodded. We’d all taken the same training courses at Camp Half-Blood. They knew what I was talking about. They would sneak around either side and attack the Cyclops from the flanks while I held his attention in the front. Probably what this meant was that we’d all die instead of just me, but I was grateful for the help. 

  I hefted my sword and shouted, “Hey, Ugly!”

  The giant whirled toward me. “Another one? Who are you?”

  “Put down my friend. I’m the one who insulted you. ”

  “You are Nobody?”

  “That’s right, you smelly bucket of nose drool!” It didn’t sound quite as good as Annabeth’s insults, but it was all I could think of. “I’m Nobody and I’m proud of it! Now, put her down and get over here. I want to stab your eye out again. ”

  “RAAAR!” he bellowed. 

  The good news: he dropped Annabeth. The bad news: he dropped her headfirst onto the rocks, where she lay motionless as a rag doll. 

  The other bad news: Polyphemus barreled toward me, a thousand smelly pounds of Cyclops that I would have to fight with a very small sword. 

  “For Pan!” Grover rushed in from the right. He threw his sheep bone, which bounced harmlessly off the monster’s forehead. Clarisse ran in from the left and set her spear against the ground just in time for the Cyclops to step on it. He wailed in pain, and Clarisse dove out of the way to avoid getting trampled. But the Cyclops just plucked out the shaft like a large splinter and kept advancing on me. 

  I moved in with Riptide. 

  The monster made a grab for me. I rolled aside and stabbed him in the thigh. 

  I was hoping to see him disintegrate, but this monster was much too big and powerful. 

  “Get Annabeth!” I yelled at Grover. 

  He rushed over, grabbed her invisibility cap, and picked her up while Clarisse and I tried to keep Polyphemus distracted. 

  I have to admit, Clarisse was brave. She charged the Cyclops again and again. He pounded the ground, stomped at her, grabbed at her, but she was too quick. And as soon as she made an attack, I followed up by stabbing the monster in the toe or the ankle or the hand. 

  But we couldn’t keep this up forever. Eventually we would tire or the monster would get in a lucky shot. It would only take one hit to kill us. 

  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Grover carrying Annabeth across the rope bridge. It wouldn’t have been my first choice, given the man-eating sheep on the other side, but at the moment that looked better than this side of the chasm, and it gave me an idea. 

  “Fall back!” I told Clarisse. 

  She rolled away as the Cyclops’s fist smashed the olive tree beside her. 

  We ran for the bridge, Polyphemus right behind us. He was cut up and hobbling from so many wounds, but all we’d done was slow him down and make him mad. 

  “Grind you into sheep chow!” he promised. “A thousand curses on Nobody!”

  “Faster!” I told Clarisse. 

We tore down the hill. The bridge was our only chance. Grover had just made it to the other side and was setting Annabeth down. We had to make it across, too, before the giant caught us. 

  “Grover!” I yelled. “Get Annabeth’s knife!”

  His eyes widened when he saw the Cyclops behind us, but he nodded like he understood. 

  As Clarisse and I scrambled across the bridge, Grover began sawing at the ropes. 

  The first strand went snap!

  Polyphemus bounded after us, making the bridge sway wildly. 

  The ropes were now half cut. Clarisse and I dove for solid ground, landing beside Grover. I made a wild slash with my sword and cut the remaining ropes. 

  The bridge fell away into the chasm, and the Cyclops howled … with delight, because he was standing right next to us. 

  “Failed!” he yelled gleefully. “Nobody failed!”

  Clarisse and Grover tried to charge him, but the monster swatted them aside like flies. 

  My anger swelled. I couldn’t believe I’d come this far, lost Tyson, suffered through so much, only to fail—stopped by a big stupid monster in a baby-blue tuxedo kilt. Nobody was going to swat down my friends like that! I mean … nobody, not Nobody. Ah, you know what I mean. 

  Strength coursed through my body. I raised my sword and attacked, forgetting that I was hopelessly outmatched. I jabbed the Cyclops in the belly. When he doubled over I smacked him in the nose with the hilt of my sword. I slashed and kicked and bashed until the next thing I knew, Polyphemus was sprawled on his back, dazed and groaning, and I was standing above him, the tip of my sword hovering over his eye. 

  “Uhhhhhhhh,” Polyphemus moaned. 

  “Percy!” Grover gasped. “How did you—”

  “Please, noooo!” the Cyclops moaned, pitifully staring up at me. His nose was bleeding. A tear welled in the corner of his half-blind eye. “M-m-my sheepies need me. Only trying to protect my sheep!”

  He began to sob. 

  I had won. All I had to do was stab—one quick strike. 

  “Kill him!” Clarisse yelled. “What are you waiting for?”

  The Cyclops sounded so heartbroken, just like … like Tyson. 

  “He’s a Cyclops!” Grover warned. “Don’t trust him!”

  I knew he was right. I knew Annabeth would’ve said the same thing. 

  But Polyphemus sobbed … and for the first time it sank in that he was a son of Poseidon, too. Like Tyson. Like me. How could I just kill him in cold blood?

  “We only want the Fleece,” I told the monster. “Will you agree to let us take it?”

  “No!” Clarisse shouted. “Kill him!”

  The monster sniffed. “My beautiful Fleece. Prize of my collection. Take it, cruel human. Take it and go in peace. ”

  “I’m going to step back slowly,” I told the monster. “One false move …”

  Polyphemus nodded like he understood. 

  I stepped back … and as fast as a cobra, Polyphemus smacked me to the edge of the cliff. 

  “Foolish mortal!” he bellowed, rising to his feet. “Take my Fleece? Ha! I eat you first. ”

  He opened his enormous mouth, and I knew that his rotten molars were the last things I would ever see. 

  Then something went whoosh over my head and thump!

  A rock the size of a basketball sailed into Polyphemus’s throat—a beautiful three-pointer, nothing but net. The Cyclops choked, trying to swallow the unexpected pill. He staggered backward, but there was no place to stagger. His heel slipped, the edge of the cliff crumbled, and the great Polyphemus made chicken wing motions that did nothing to help him fly as he tumbled into the chasm. 

  I turned. 

  Halfway down the path to the beach, standing completely unharmed in the midst of a flock of killer sheep, was an old friend. 

  “Bad Polyphemus,” Tyson said. “Not all Cyclopes as nice as we look. ”

  Tyson gave us the short version: Rainbow the hippocampus—who’d apparently been following us ever since the Long Island Sound, waiting for Tyson to play with him—had found Tyson sinking beneath the wreckage of the CSS Birmingham and pulled him to safety. He and Tyson had been searching the Sea of Monsters ever since, trying to find us, until Tyson caught the scent of sheep and found this island. 

  I wanted to hug the big oaf, except he was standing in the middle of killer sheep. “Tyson, thank the gods. Annabeth is hurt!”

  “You thank the gods she is hurt?” he asked, puzzled. 

  “No!” I knelt beside Annabeth and was worried sick by what I saw. The gash on her forehead was worse than I’d realized. Her hairline was sticky with blood. Her skin was pale and clammy. 

  Grover and I exchanged nervous looks. Then an idea came to me. “Tyson, the Fleece. Can you get it for me?”

  “Which one?” Tyson said, looking around at the hundreds of sheep. 

  “In the tree!” I said. “The gold one!”

  “Oh. Pretty. Yes. ”

  Tyson lumbered over, careful not to step on the sheep. If any of us had tried to approach the Fleece, we would’ve been eaten alive, but I guess Tyson smelled like Polyphemus, because the flock didn’t bother him at all. They just cuddled up to him and bleated affectionately, as though they expected to get sheep treats from the big wicker basket. Tyson reached up and lifted the Fleece off its branch. Immediately the leaves on the oak tree turned yellow. Tyson started wading back toward me, but I yelled, “No time! Throw it!”

  The gold ram skin sailed through the air like a glittering shag Frisbee. I caught it with a grunt. 

  It was heavier than I’d expected—sixty or seventy pounds of precious gold wool. 

  I spread it over Annabeth, covering everything but her face, and prayed silently to all the gods I could think of, even the ones I didn’t like. 

  Please. Please. 

  The color returned to her face. Her eyelids fluttered open. The cut on her forehead began to close. She saw Grover and said weakly, “You’re not… married?”

  Grover grinned. “No. My friends talked me out of it. ”

  “Annabeth,” I said, “just lay still. ”

  But despite our protests she sat up, and I noticed that the cut on her face was almost completely healed. She looked a lot better. In fact, she shimmered with health, as if someone had injected her with glitter. 

  Meanwhile, Tyson was starting to have trouble with the sheep. “Down!” he told them as they tried to climb him, looking for food. A few were sniffing in our direction. “No, sheepies. This way!

  Come here!”

  They heeded him, but it was obvious they were hungry, and they were starting to realize Tyson didn’t have any treats for them. They wouldn’t hold out forever with so much fresh meat nearby. 

  “We have to go,” I said. “Our ship is…” The Queen Anne’s Revenge was a very long way away. The shortest route was across the chasm, and we’d just destroyed the only bridge. The only other possibility was through the sheep. 

  “Tyson,” I called, “can you lead the flock as far away as possible?”

  “The sheep want food. ”

  “I know! They want people food! Just lead them away from the path. Give us time to get to the beach. Then join us there. ”

  Tyson looked doubtful, but he whistled. “Come, sheepies! Um, people food this way!”

  He jogged off into the meadow, the sheep in pursuit. 

  “Keep the Fleece around you,” I told Annabeth. “Just in case you’re not fully healed yet. Can you stand?”

  She tried, but her face turned pale again. “Ohh. Not fully healed. ”

  Clarisse dropped next to her and felt her chest, which made Annabeth gasp. 

  “Ribs broken,” Clarisse said. “They’re mending, but definitely broken. ”

  “How can you tell?” I asked. 

  Clarisse glared at me. “Because I’ve broken a few, runt! I’ll have to carry her. ”

  Before I could argue, Clarisse picked up Annabeth like a sack of flour and lugged her down to the beach. Grover and I followed. 

  As soon as we got to the edge of the water, I concentrated on the Queen Anne’s Revenge. I willed it to raise anchor and come to me. After a few anxious minutes, I saw the ship rounding the tip of the island. 

  “Incoming!” Tyson yelled. He was bounding down the path to join us, the sheep about fifty yards behind, bleating in frustration as their Cyclops friend ran away without feeding them. 

  “They probably won’t follow us into the water,” I told the others. “All we have to do is swim for the ship. ”

  “With Annabeth like this?” Clarisse protested. 

  “We can do it,” I insisted. I was starting to feel confident again. I was back in my home turf—

  the sea. “Once we get to the ship, we’re home free. ”

  We almost made it, too. 

  We were just wading past the entrance to the ravine, when we heard a tremendous roar and saw Polyphemus, scraped up and bruised but still very much alive, his baby-blue wedding outfit in tatters, splashing toward us with a boulder in each hand. 

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