The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus 5) - Page 34

Three seconds later, a shaft of green light swept through the darkness like a spotlight, then disappeared.

‘Something’s down there,’ Percy said, ‘stirring up this storm.’ He turned and sized up Jason’s tornado. ‘Nice outfit. Can you hold it together if we go deeper?’

‘I have no idea how I’m doing this,’ Jason said.

‘Okay,’ Percy said. ‘Well, just don’t get knocked unconscious.’

‘Shut up, Jackson.’

Percy grinned. ‘Let’s see what’s down there.’

They sank so deep that Jason couldn’t see anything except Percy swimming next to him in the dim light of their gold and bronze blades.

Every so often the green searchlight shot upward. Percy swam straight towards it. Jason’s ventus crackled and roared, straining to escape. The smell of ozone made him lightheaded, but he kept his shell of air intact.

At last, the darkness lessened below them. Soft white luminous patches, like schools of jellyfish, floated before Jason’s eyes. As he approached the seafloor, he realized the patches were glowing fields of algae surrounding the ruins of a palace. Silt swirled through empty courtyards with abalone floors. Barnacle-covered Greek columns marched into the gloom. In the centre of the complex rose a citadel larger than Grand Central Station, its walls encrusted with pearls, its domed golden roof cracked open like an egg.

‘Atlantis?’ Jason asked.

‘That’s a myth,’ Percy said.

‘Uh … don’t we deal in myths?’

‘No, I mean it’s a made-up myth. Not, like, an actual true myth.’

‘So this is why Annabeth is the brains of the operation, then?’

‘Shut up, Grace.’

They floated through the broken dome and down into shadows.

‘This place seems familiar.’ Percy’s voice became edgy. ‘Almost like I’ve been here –’

The green spotlight flashed directly below them, blinding Jason.

He dropped like a stone, touching down on the smooth marble floor. When his vision cleared, he saw that they weren’t alone.

Standing before them was a twenty-foot-tall woman in a flowing green dress, cinched at the waist with a belt of abalone shells. Her skin was as luminous white as the fields of algae. Her hair swayed and glowed like jellyfish tendrils.

Her face was beautiful but unearthly – her eyes too bright, her features too delicate, her smile too cold, as if she’d been studying human smiles and hadn’t quite mastered the art.

Her hands rested on a disc of polished green metal about six feet in diameter, sitting on a bronze tripod. It reminded Jason of a steel drum he’d once seen a street performer play at the Embarcadero in San Francisco.

The woman turned the metal disc like a steering wheel. A shaft of green light shot upward, churning the water, shaking the walls of the old palace. Shards from the domed ceiling broke and tumbled down in slow motion.

‘You’re making the storm,’ Jason said.

‘Indeed I am.’ The woman’s voice was melodic – yet it had a strange resonance, as if it extended past the human range of hearing. Pressure built between Jason’s eyes. His sinuses felt like they might explode.

‘Okay, I’ll bite,’ Percy said. ‘Who are you, and what do you want?’

The woman turned towards him. ‘Why, I am your sister, Perseus Jackson. And I wanted to meet you before you die.’

XXVI

Jason

JASON SAW TWO OPTIONS: FIGHT OR TALK.

Usually, when faced with a creepy twenty-foot-tall lady with jellyfish hair, he would’ve gone with fight.

But since she called Percy brother – that made him hesitate.

‘Percy, do you know this … individual?’

Percy shook his head. ‘Doesn’t look like my mom, so I’m gonna guess we’re related on the godly side. You a daughter of Poseidon, Miss … uh … ?’

The pale lady raked her fingernails against the metal disc, making a screeching sound like a tortured whale. ‘No one knows me,’ she sighed. ‘Why would I assume my own brother would recognize me? I am Kymopoleia!’

Percy and Jason exchanged looks.

‘So …’ Percy said. ‘We’re going to call you Kym. And you’d be a, hmm, Nereid, then? Minor goddess?’

‘Minor?’

‘By which,’ Jason said quickly, ‘he means under the drinking age! Because obviously you’re so young and beautiful.’

Percy flashed him a look: Nice save.

The goddess turned her full attention to Jason. She pointed her index finger and traced his outline in the water. Jason could feel his captured air spirit rippling around him, as if it were being tickled.

‘Jason Grace,’ said the goddess. ‘Son of Jupiter.’

‘Yeah. I’m a friend of Percy’s.’

Kym’s narrowed. ‘So it’s true … these times make for strange friends and unexpected enemies. The Romans never worshipped me. To them, I was a nameless fear – a sign of Neptune’s greatest wrath. They never worshipped Kymopoleia, the goddess of violent sea storms!’

She spun her disc. Another beam of green light flashed upward, churning the water and making the ruins rumble.

‘Uh, yeah,’ Percy said. ‘The Romans aren’t big on navies. They had, like, one rowboat. Which I sank. Speaking of violent storms, you’re doing a first-rate job upstairs.’

‘Thank you,’ said Kym.

‘Thing is, our ship is caught in it, and it’s kind of being ripped apart. I’m sure you didn’t mean to –’

‘Oh, yes, I did.’

‘You did.’ Percy grimaced. ‘Well … that sucks. I don’t suppose you’d cut it out, then, if we asked nicely?’

‘No,’ the goddess agreed. ‘Even now, the ship is close to sinking. I’m rather amazed it’s held together this long. Excellent workmanship.’

Sparks flew from Jason’s arms into the tornado. He thought about Piper and the rest of the crew frantically trying to keep the ship in one piece. By coming down here, he and Percy had left the others defenceless. They had to act soon.

Besides, Jason’s air was getting stale. He wasn’t sure if it was possible to use up a ventus by inhaling it, but, if he was going to have to fight, he’d better take on Kym before he ran out of oxygen.

The thing was … fighting a goddess on her home court wouldn’t be easy. Even if they managed to take her down, there was no guarantee the storm would stop.

‘So … Kym,’ he said, ‘what could we do to make you change your mind and let our ship go?’

Kym gave him that creepy alien smile. ‘Son of Jupiter, do you know where you are?’

Jason was tempted to answer underwater. ‘You mean these ruins. An ancient palace?’

‘Indeed,’ Kym said. ‘The original palace of my father, Poseidon.’

Percy snapped his fingers, which sounded like a muffled explosion. ‘That’s why I recognized it. Dad’s new crib in the Atlantic is kind of like this.’

‘I wouldn’t know,’ Kym said. ‘I am never invited to see my parents. I can only wander the ruins of their old domains. They find my presence … disruptive.’

She spun her wheel again. The entire back wall of the building collapsed, sending a cloud of silt and algae through the chamber. Fortunately the ventus acted like a fan, blowing the debris out of Jason’s face.

‘Disruptive?’ Jason said. ‘You?’

‘My father does not welcome me in his court,’ Kym said. ‘He restricts my powers. This storm above? I haven’t had this much fun in ages, yet it is only a small taste of what I can do!’

‘A little goes a long way,’ Percy said. ‘Anyway, to Jason’s question about changing your mind –’

‘My father even married me off,’ Kym said, ‘without my permission. He gave me away like a trophy to Briares, a Hundred-Handed One, as a reward for supporting the gods in the war with Kronos aeons ago.’

Percy’s face brightened. ‘Hey, I know Briares. He’s a friend of mine! I freed him from Alcatraz.’

> ‘Yes, I know.’ Kym’s eyes glinted coldly. ‘I hate my husband. I was not at all pleased to have him back.’

‘Oh. So … is Briares around?’ Percy asked hopefully.

Kym’s laugh sounded like dolphin chatter. ‘He’s off at Mount Olympus in New York, shoring up the gods’ defences. Not that it will matter. My point, dear brother, is that Poseidon has never treated me fairly. I like to come here, to his old palace, because it pleases me to see his works in ruins. Someday soon his new palace will look like this one, and the seas will rage unchecked.’

Percy looked at Jason. ‘This is the part where she tells us she’s working for Gaia.’

‘Yeah,’ Jason said. ‘And the Earth Mother promised her a better deal once the gods are destroyed, blah, blah, blah.’ He turned to Kym. ‘You understand that Gaia won’t keep her promises, right? She’s using you, just like she’s using the giants.’

‘I am touched by your concern,’ said the goddess. ‘The Olympian gods, on the other hand, have never used me, eh?’

Percy spread his hands. ‘At least the Olympians are trying. After the last Titan war, they started paying more attention to the other gods. A lot of them have cabins now at Camp Half-Blood: Hecate, Hades, Hebe, Hypnos … uh, and probably some that don’t begin with H, too. We give them offerings at every meal, cool banners, special recognition in the end-of-summer programme –’

‘And do I get such offerings?’ Kym asked.

Tags: Rick Riordan The Heroes of Olympus Fantasy
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