logo
Share this:

Page 9


“Aw, Tyson,” I’d say. “It’s not that simple.”

But there was no explaining it to him. He was in heaven. And me … as much as I liked the big guy, I couldn’t help feeling embarrassed. Ashamed. There, I said it.

My father, the all-powerful Poseidon, had gotten moony-eyed for some nature spirit, and Tyson had been the result. I mean, I’d read the myths about Cyclopes. I even remembered that they were often Poseidon’s children. But I’d never really processed that this made them my … family.

Until I had Tyson living with me in the next bunk.

And then there were the comments from the other campers. Suddenly, I wasn’t Percy Jackson, the cool guy who’d retrieved Zeus’s lightning bolt last summer. Now I was Percy Jackson, the poor schmuck with the ugly monster for a brother.

“He’s not my real brother!” I protested whenever Tyson wasn’t around. “He’s more like a half-brother on the monstrous side of the family. Like … a half-brother twice removed, or something.”

Nobody bought it.

I admit—I was angry at my dad. I felt like being his son was now a joke.

Annabeth tried to make me feel better. She suggested we team up for the chariot race to take our minds off our problems. Don’t get me wrong—we both hated Tantalus and we were worried sick about camp—but we didn’t know what to do about it. Until we could come up with some brilliant plan to save Thalia’s tree, we figured we might as well go along with the races. After all, Annabeth’s mom, Athena, had invented the chariot, and my dad had created horses. Together we would own that track.

One morning Annabeth and I were sitting by the canoe lake sketching chariot designs when some jokers from Aphrodite’s cabin walked by and asked me if I needed to borrow some eyeliner for my eye … “Oh sorry, eyes.”

As they walked away laughing, Annabeth grumbled, “Just ignore them, Percy. It isn’t your fault you have a monster for a brother.”

“He’s not my brother!” I snapped. “And he’s not a monster, either!”

Annabeth raised her eyebrows. “Hey, don’t get mad at me! And technically, he is a monster.”

“Well you gave him permission to enter the camp.”

“Because it was the only way to save your life! I mean … I’m sorry, Percy, I didn’t expect Poseidon to claim him. Cyclopes are the most deceitful, treacherous—”

“He is not! What have you got against Cyclopes, any-way?

Annabeth’s ears turned pink. I got the feeling there was something she wasn’t telling me—

something bad.

“Just forget it,” she said. “Now, the axle for this chariot—”

“You’re treating him like he’s this horrible thing,” I said. “He saved my life.”

Annabeth threw down her pencil and stood. “Then maybe you should design a chariot with him. ”

“Maybe I should.”

“Fine!”

“Fine!”

She stormed off and left me feeling even worse than before.

The next couple of days, I tried to keep my mind off my problems.

Silena Beauregard, one of the nicer girls from Aphrodite’s cabin, gave me my first riding lesson on a pegasus. She explained that there was only one immortal winged horse named Pegasus, who still wandered free somewhere in the skies, but over the eons he’d sired a lot of children, none quite so fast or heroic, but all named after the first and greatest.

Being the son of the sea god, I never liked going into the air. My dad had this rivalry with Zeus, so I tried to stay out of the lord of the sky’s domain as much as possible. But riding a winged horse felt different. It didn’t make me nearly as nervous as being in an airplane. Maybe that was because my dad had created horses out of sea foam, so the pegasi were sort of … neutral territory.

I could understand their thoughts. I wasn’t surprised when my pegasus went galloping over the treetops or chased a flock of seagulls into a cloud.

The problem was that Tyson wanted to ride the “chicken ponies,” too, but the pegasi got skittish whenever he approached. I told them telepathically that Tyson wouldn’t hurt them, but they didn’t seem to believe me. That made Tyson cry.

The only person at camp who had no problem with Tyson was Beckendorf from the Hephaestus cabin. The blacksmith god had always worked with Cyclopes in his forges, so Beckendorf took Tyson down to the armory to teach him metalworking. He said he’d have Tyson crafting magic items like a master in no time.

After lunch, I worked out in the arena with Apollo’s cabin. Swordplay had always been my strength. People said I was better at it than any camper in the last hundred years, except maybe Luke. People always compared me to Luke.

I thrashed the Apollo guys easily. I should’ve been testing myself against the Ares and Athena cabins, since they had the best sword fighters, but I didn’t get along with Clarisse and her siblings, and after my argument with Annabeth, I just didn’t want to see her.

I went to archery class, even though I was terrible at it, and it wasn’t the same without Chiron teaching. In arts and crafts, I started a marble bust of Poseidon, but it started looking like Sylvester Stallone, so I ditched it. I scaled the climbing wall in full lava-and-earthquake mode. And in the evenings, I did border patrol. Even though Tantalus had insisted we forget trying to protect the camp, some of the campers had quietly kept it up, working out a schedule during our free times.

I sat at the top of Half-Blood Hill and watched the dryads come and go, singing to the dying pine tree. Satyrs brought their reed pipes and played nature magic songs, and for a while the pine needles seemed to get fuller. The flowers on the hill smelled a little sweeter and the grass looked greener. But as soon as the music stopped, the sickness crept back into the air. The whole hill seemed to be infected, dying from the poison that had sunk into the tree’s roots. The longer I sat there, the angrier I got.

Luke had done this. I remembered his sly smile, the dragon-claw scar across his face. He’d pretended to be my friend, and the whole time he’d been Kronos’s number-one servant.

I opened the palm of my hand. The scar Luke had given me last summer was fading, but I could still see it—a white asterisk-shaped wound where his pit scorpion had stung me.

I thought about what Luke had told me right before he’d tried to kill me: Good-bye, Percy.

There is a new Golden Age coming. You won’t be part of it.

At night, I had more dreams of Grover. Sometimes, I just heard snatches of his voice. Once, I heard him say: It’s here. Another time: He likes sheep.

I thought about telling Annabeth about my dreams, but I would’ve felt stupid. I mean, He likes sheep? She would’ve thought I was crazy.

The night before the race, Tyson and I finished our chariot. It was wicked cool. Tyson had made the metal parts in the armory’s forges. I’d sanded the wood and put the carriage together. It was blue and white, with wave designs on the sides and a trident painted on the front. After all that work, it seemed only fair that Tyson would ride shotgun with me, though I knew the horses wouldn’t like it, and Tyson’s extra weight would slow us down.

As we were turning in for bed, Tyson said, “You are mad?”

I realized I’d been scowling. “Nah. I’m not mad.”

He lay down in his bunk and was quiet in the dark. His body was way too long for his bed.

When he pulled up the covers, his feet stuck out the bottom. “I am a monster.”

“Don’t say that.”

“It is okay. I will be a good monster. Then you will not have to be mad.”

I didn’t know what to say. I stared at the ceiling and felt like I was dying slowly, right along with Thalia’s tree.

“It’s just… I never had a half-brother before.” I tried to keep my voice from cracking. “It’s really different for me. And I’m worried about the camp. And another friend of mine, Grover … he might be in trouble. I keep feeling like I should be doing something to help, but I don’t know what.”

Tyson said nothing.

“I’m sorry,” I told him. “It’s not your fault. I’m mad at Poseidon. I feel like he’s trying to embarrass me, like he’s trying to compare us or something, and I don’t understand why.”

I heard a deep rumbling sound. Tyson was snoring.

I sighed. “Good night, big guy.”

And I closed my eyes, too.

In my dream, Grover was wearing a wedding dress.

It didn’t fit him very well. The gown was too long and the hem was caked with dried mud. The neckline kept falling off his shoulders. A tattered veil covered his face.

He was standing in a dank cave, lit only by torches. There was a cot in one corner and an old-fashioned loom in the other, a length of white cloth half woven on the frame. And he was staring right at me, like I was a TV program he’d been waiting for. “Thank the gods!” he yelped. “Can you hear me?”

My dream-self was slow to respond. I was still looking around, taking in the stalactite ceiling, the stench of sheep and goats, the growling and grumbling and bleating sounds that seemed to echo from behind a refrigerator-sized boulder, which was blocking the room’s only exit, as if there were a much larger cavern beyond it.

“Percy?” Grover said. “Please, I don’t have the strength to project any better. You have to hear me!”

“I hear you,” I said. “Grover, what’s going on?”

From behind the boulder, a monstrous voice yelled, “Honeypie! Are you done yet?”

Grover flinched. He called out in falsetto, “Not quite, dearest! A few more days!”

“Bah! Hasn’t it been two weeks yet?”

“N-no, dearest. Just five days. That leaves twelve more to go.”

The monster was silent, maybe trying to do the math. He must’ve been worse at arithmetic than I was, because he said, “All right, but hurry! I want to SEEEEE under that veil, heh-heh-heh.”

Grover turned back to me. “You have to help me! No time! I’m stuck in this cave. On an island in the sea.”

”Where?”

“I don’t know exactly! I went to Florida and turned left.”

“What? How did you—”

“It’s a trap!” Grover said. “It’s the reason no satyr has ever returned from this quest. He’s a shepherd, Percy! And he has it. Its nature magic is so powerful it smells just like the great god Pan!

The satyrs come here thinking they’ve found Pan, and they get trapped and eaten by Polyphemus!”

“Poly-who?”

“The Cyclops!” Grover said, exasperated. “I almost got away. I made it all the way to St. Augustine.”

“But he followed you,” I said, remembering my first dream. “And trapped you in a bridal boutique.”

“That’s right,” Grover said. “My first empathy link must’ve worked then. Look, this bridal dress is the only thing keeping me alive. He thinks I smell good, but I told him it was just goat-scented perfume. Thank goodness he can’t see very well. His eye is still half blind from the last time somebody poked it out. But soon he’ll realize what I am. He’s only giving me two weeks to finish the bridal train, and he’s getting impatient!”

Leave a comment

We will not publish your email address. Required fields are marked*