The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians 3) - Page 4

"What were you saying earlier?" I asked. "Are you having trouble at school or something?"

She pursed her lips. "It's not that. It's my dad."

"Uh-oh." I knew Annabeth had a rocky relationship with her father. "I thought it was getting better with you two. Is it your stepmom again?"

Annabeth sighed. "He decided to move. Just when I was getting settled in New York, he took this stupid new job researching for a World War I book. In San Francisco!'

She said this the same way she might say Fields of Punishment or Hades's gym shorts.

"So he wants you to move out there with him?" I asked.

"To the other side of the country," she said miserably. "And half-bloods can't live in San Francisco. He should know that."

"What? Why not?"

Annabeth rolled her eyes. Maybe she thought I was kidding. "You know. It's right there!'

"Oh," I said. I had no idea what she was talking about, but I didn't want to sound stupid. "So… you'll go back to living at camp or what?"

"It's more serious than that, Percy. I… I probably should tell you something."

Suddenly she froze. "They're gone."


I followed her gaze. The bleachers. The two half-blood kids, Bianca and Nico, were no longer there. The door next to the bleachers was wide open. Dr. Thorn was nowhere in sight.

"We have to get Thalia and Grover!" Annabeth looked around frantically. "Oh, where'd they dance off to? Come on!"

She ran through the crowd. I was about to follow when a mob of girls got in my way. I maneuvered around them to avoid getting the ribbon-and-lipstick treatment, and by the time I was free, Annabeth had disappeared. I turned a full circle, looking for her or Thalia and Grover. Instead, I saw something that chilled my blood.

About fifty feet away, lying on the gym floor, was a floppy green cap just like the one Bianca di Angelo had been wearing. Near it were a few scattered trading cards. Then I caught a glimpse of Dr. Thorn. He was hurrying out a door at the opposite end of the gym, steering the di Angelo kids by the scruffs of their necks, like kittens.

I still couldn't see Annabeth, but I knew she'd be heading the other way, looking for Thalia and Grover.

I almost ran after her, and then I thought, Wait.

I remembered what Thalia had said to me in the entry hall, looking at me all puzzled when I asked about the finger-snap trick: Hasn't Chiron shown you how to do that yet? I thought about the way Grover had turned to her, expecting her to save the day.

Not that I resented Thalia. She was cool. It wasn't her fault her dad was Zeus and she got all the attention… Still, I didn't need to run after her to solve every problem. Besides, there wasn't time. The di Angelos were in danger. They might be long gone by the time I found my friends. I knew monsters. I could handle this myself

I took Riptide out of my pocket and ran after Dr. Thorn.

The door led into a dark hallway. I heard sounds of scuffling up ahead, then a painful grunt. I uncapped Riptide.

The pen grew in my hands until I held a bronze Greek sword about three feet long with a leather-bound grip. The blade glowed faintly, casting a golden light on the rows of lockers.

I jogged down the corridor, but when I got to the other end, no one was there. I opened a door and found myself back in the main entry hall. I was completely turned around. I didn't see Dr. Thorn anywhere, but there on the opposite side of the room were the di Angelo kids. They stood frozen in horror, staring right at me.

I advanced slowly, lowering the tip of my sword. "It's okay. I'm not going to hurt you."

They didn't answer. Their eyes were full of fear. What was wrong with them? Where was Dr. Thorn? Maybe he'd sensed the presence of Riptide and retreated. Monsters hated celestial bronze weapons.

"My name's Percy," I said, trying to keep my voice level. "I'm going to take you out of here, get you somewhere safe."

Bianca's eyes widened. Her fists clenched. Only too late did I realize what her look meant. She wasn't afraid of me. She was trying to warn me.

I whirled around and something went WHI1ISH! Pain exploded in my shoulder. A force like a huge hand yanked me backward and slammed me to the wall.

I slashed with my sword but there was nothing to hit.

A cold laugh echoed through the hall.

"Yes, Perseus Jackson" Dr. Thorn said. His accent mangled the J in my last name. "I know who you are."

I tried to free my shoulder. My coat and shirt were pinned to the wall by some kind of spike—a black dagger-like projectile about a foot long. It had grazed the skin of my shoulder as it passed through my clothes, and the cut burned. I'd felt something like this before. Poison.

I forced myself to concentrate. I would not pass out.

A dark silhouette now moved toward us. Dr. Thorn stepped into the dim light. He still looked human, but his face was ghoulish. He had perfect white teeth and his brown/blue eyes reflected the light of my sword.

"Thank you for coming out of the gym," he said. "I hate middle school dances."

I tried to swing my sword again, but he was just out of reach.

WHIIIISH! A second projectile shot from somewhere behind Dr. Thorn. He didn't appear to move. It was as if someone invisible were standing behind him, throwing knives.

Next to me, Bianca yelped. The second thorn impaled itself in the stone wall, half an inch from her face.

"All three of you will come with me," Dr. Thorn said. "Quietly. Obediently. If you make a single noise, if you call out for help or try to fight, I will show you just how accurately I can throw."



I didn't know what kind of monster Dr. Thorn was, but he was fast.

Maybe I could defend myself if I could get my shield activated. All that it would take was a touch of my wrist-watch. But defending the di Angelo kids was another matter. I needed help, and there was only one way I could think to get it.

Tags: Rick Riordan Percy Jackson and the Olympians Fantasy
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