The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus 3) - Page 7

“Well. ” Reyna set down her uneaten apple. “Octavian is right about one thing. We must gain the senate’s approval before we let any of our legionnaires go on a quest—especially one as dangerous as you’re suggesting. ”

“This whole thing smells of treachery,” Octavian grumbled. “That trireme is not a ship of peace!”

“Come aboard, man,” Leo offered. “I’ll give you a tour. You can steer the boat, and if you’re really good I’ll give you a little paper captain’s hat to wear. ”

Octavian’s nostrils flared. “How dare you—”

“It’s a good idea,” Reyna said. “Octavian, go with him. See the ship. We’ll convene a senate meeting in one hour. ”

“But…” Octavian stopped. Apparently he could tell from Reyna’s expression that further arguing would not be good for his health. “Fine. ”

Leo got up. He turned to Annabeth, and his smile changed. It happened so quickly, Annabeth thought she’d imagined it; but just for a moment someone else seemed to be standing in Leo’s place, smiling coldly with a cruel light in his eyes. Then Annabeth blinked, and Leo was just regular old Leo again, with his usual impish grin.

“Back soon,” he promised. “This is gonna be epic. ”

A horrible chill settled over her. As Leo and Octavian headed for the rope ladder, she thought about calling them back—but how could she explain that? Tell everyone she was going crazy, seeing things and feeling cold?

The wind spirits began clearing the plates.

“Uh, Reyna,” Jason said, “if you don’t mind, I’d like to show Piper around before the senate meeting. She’s never seen New Rome. ”

Reyna’s expression hardened.

Annabeth wondered how Jason could be so dense. Was it possible he really didn’t understand how much Reyna liked him? It was obvious enough to Annabeth. Asking to show his new girlfriend around Reyna’s city was rubbing salt in a wound.

“Of course,” Reyna said coldly.

Percy took Annabeth’s hand. “Yeah, me, too. I’d like to show Annabeth—”

“No,” Reyna snapped.

Percy knit his eyebrows. “Sorry?”

“I’d like a few words with Annabeth,” Reyna said. “Alone. If you don’t mind, my fellow praetor. ”

Her tone made it clear she wasn’t really asking permission.

The chill spread down Annabeth’s back. She wondered what Reyna was up to. Mayb

e the praetor didn’t like the idea of two guys who had rejected her giving their girlfriends tours of her city. Or maybe there was something she wanted to say in private. Either way, Annabeth was reluctant to be alone and unarmed with the Roman leader.

“Come, daughter of Athena. ” Reyna rose from her couch. “Walk with me. ”

Chapter 4

Annabeth wanted to hate New Rome. But as an aspiring architect, she couldn’t help admiring the terraced gardens, the fountains and temples, the winding cobblestone streets and gleaming white villas. After the Titan War last summer, she’d gotten her dream job of redesigning the palaces of Mount Olympus. Now, walking through this miniature city, she kept thinking, I should have made a dome like that. I love the way those columns lead into that courtyard. Whoever designed New Rome had clearly poured a lot of time and love into the project.

“We have the best architects and builders in the world,” Reyna said, as if reading her thoughts. “Rome always did, in the ancient times. Many demigods stay on to live here after their time in the legion. They go to our university. They settle down to raise families. Percy seemed interested in this fact. ”

Annabeth wondered what that meant. She must have scowled more fiercely than she realized, because Reyna laughed.

“You’re a warrior, all right,” the praetor said. “You’ve got fire in your eyes. ”

“Sorry. ” Annabeth tried to tone down the glare.

“Don’t be. I’m the daughter of Bellona. ”

“Roman goddess of war?”

Reyna nodded. She turned and whistled like she was hailing a cab. A moment later, two metal dogs raced toward them—automaton greyhounds, one silver and one gold. They brushed against Reyna’s legs and regarded Annabeth with glistening ruby eyes.

“My pets,” Reyna explained. “Aurum and Argentum. You don’t mind if they walk with us?”

Again, Annabeth got the feeling it wasn’t really a request. She noted that the greyhounds had teeth like steel arrowheads. Maybe weapons weren’t allowed inside the city, but Reyna’s pets could still tear her to pieces if they chose.

Reyna led her to an outdoor café, where the waiter clearly knew her. He smiled and handed her a to-go cup, then offered one to Annabeth.

“Would you like some?” Reyna asked. “They make wonderful hot chocolate. Not really a Roman drink—”

“But chocolate is universal,” Annabeth said.

“Exactly. ”

It was a warm June afternoon, but Annabeth accepted the cup with thanks. The two of them walked on, Reyna’s gold and silver dogs roaming nearby.

“In our camp,” Reyna said, “Athena is Minerva. Are you familiar with how her Roman form is different?”

Annabeth hadn’t really considered it before. She remembered the way Terminus had called Athena that goddess, as if she were scandalous. Octavian had acted like Annabeth’s very existence was an insult.

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