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.’
‘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 to 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?’
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 centre, a dazzling white collection of buildings, a beach dotted with palm trees and a harbour filled with a strange assortment of boats.
The current was pulling our rowboat towards 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 got off the Princess Andromeda rather than a bashed-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 enquired.
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 defences – Hermes’s multivitamins and Riptide – but the further 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 waterslides 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 deckchairs, 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 towards 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 colours of the sunrise. And magic. Something about magic. Her voice seemed to lift me off the steps and carry me towards her.