LEO WAS STILL IN SHOCK.
Everything had happened so quickly. They had secured grappling lines to the Athena Parthenos just as the floor gave way, and the final columns of webbing snapped. Jason and Frank dove down to save the others, but they’d only found Nico and Hazel hanging from the rope ladder. Percy and Annabeth were gone. The pit to Tartarus had been buried under several tons of debris. Leo pulled the Argo II out of the cavern seconds before the entire place imploded, taking the rest of the parking lot with it.
The Argo II was now parked on a hill overlooking the city. Jason, Hazel, and Frank had returned to the scene of the catastrophe, hoping to dig through the rubble and find a way to save Percy and Annabeth, but they’d come back demoralized. The cavern was simply gone. The scene was swarming with police and rescue workers. No mortals had been hurt, but the Italians would be scratching their heads for months, wondering how a massive sinkhole had opened right in the middle of a parking lot and swallowed a dozen perfectly good cars.
Dazed with grief, Leo and the others carefully loaded the Athena Parthenos into the hold, using the ship’s hydraulic winches with an assist from Frank Zhang, part-time elephant. The statue just fit, though what they were going to do with it, Leo had no idea.
Coach Hedge was too miserable to help. He kept pacing the deck with tears in his eyes, pulling at his goatee and slapping the side of his head, muttering, “I should have saved them! I should have blown up more stuff!”
Finally Leo told him to go belowdecks and secure everything for departure. He wasn’t doing any good beating himself up.
The six demigods gathered on the quarterdeck and gazed at the distant column of dust still rising from the site of the implosion.
Leo rested his hand on the Archimedes sphere, which now sat on the helm, ready to be installed. He should have been excited. It was the biggest discovery of his life—even bigger than Bunker 9. If he could decipher Archimedes’s scrolls, he could do amazing things. He hardly dared to hope, but he might even be able to build a new control disk for a certain dragon friend of his.
Still, the price had been too high.
He could almost hear Nemesis laughing. I told you we could do business, Leo Valdez.
He had opened the fortune cookie. He’d gotten the access code for the sphere and saved Frank and Hazel. But the sacrifice had been Percy and Annabeth. Leo was sure of it.
“It’s my fault,” he said miserably.
The others stared at him. Only Hazel seemed to understand. She’d been with him at the Great Salt Lake.
“No,” she insisted. “No, this is Gaea’s fault. It had nothing to do with you.”
Leo wanted to believe that, but he couldn’t. They’d started this voyage with Leo messing up, firing on New Rome. They’d ended in old Rome with Leo breaking a cookie and paying a price much worse than an eye.
“Leo, listen to me.” Hazel gripped his hand. “I won’t allow you to take the blame. I couldn’t bear that after—after Sammy…”
She choked up, but Leo knew what she meant. His bisabuelo had blamed himself for Hazel’s disappearance. Sammy had lived a good life, but he’d gone to his grave believing that he’d spent a cursed diamond and doomed the girl he loved.
Leo didn’t want to make Hazel miserable all over again, but this was different. True success requires sacrifice. Leo had chosen to break that cookie. Percy and Annabeth had fallen into Tartarus. That couldn’t be a coincidence.
Nico di Angelo shuffled over, leaning on his black sword. “Leo, they’re not dead. If they were, I could feel it.”
“How can you be sure?” Leo asked. “If that pit really led to…you know…how could you sense them so far away?”
Nico and Hazel shared a look, maybe comparing notes on their Hades/Pluto death radar. Leo shivered. Hazel had never seemed like a child of the Underworld to him, but Nico di Angelo—that guy was creepy.
“We can’t be one hundred percent sure,” Hazel admitted. “But I think Nico is right. Percy and Annabeth are still alive…at least, so far.”
Jason pounded his fist against the rail. “I should’ve been paying attention. I could have flown down and saved them.”
“Me, too,” Frank moaned. The big dude looked on the verge of tears.
Piper put her hand on Jason’s back. “It’s not your fault, either of you. You were trying to save the statue.”
“She’s right,” Nico said. “Even if the pit hadn’t been buried, you couldn’t have flown into it without being pulled down. I’m the only one who has actually been into Tartarus. It’s impossible to describe how powerful that place is. Once you get close, it sucks you in. I never stood a chance.”
Frank sniffled. “Then Percy and Annabeth don’t stand a chance either?”
Nico twisted his silver skull ring. “Percy is the most powerful demigod I’ve ever met. No offense to you guys, but it’s true. If anybody can survive, he will, especially if he’s got Annabeth at his side. They’re going to find a way through Tartarus.”
Jason turned. “To the Doors of Death, you mean. But you told us it’s guarded by Gaea’s most powerful forces. How could two demigods possibly—?”
“I don’t know,” Nico admitted. “But Percy told me to lead you guys to Epirus, to the mortal side of the doorway. He’s planning on meeting us there. If we can survive the House of Hades, fight our way through Gaea’s forces, then maybe we can work together with Percy and Annabeth and seal the Doors of Death from both sides.”
“And get Percy and Annabeth back safely?” Leo asked.
Leo didn’t like the way Nico said that, as if he wasn’t sharing all his doubts. Besides, Leo knew something about locks and doors. If the Doors of Death needed to be sealed from both sides, how could they do that unless someone stayed in the Underworld, trapped?
Nico took a deep breath. “I don’t know how they’ll manage it, but Percy and Annabeth will find a way. They’ll journey through Tartarus and find the Doors of Death. When they do, we have to be ready.”
“It won’t be easy,” Hazel said. “Gaea will throw everything she’s got at us to keep us from reaching Epirus.”
“What else is new?” Jason sighed.
Piper nodded. “We’ve got no choice. We have to seal the Doors of Death before we can stop the giants from raising Gaea. Otherwise her armies will never die. And we’ve got to hurry. The Romans are in New York. Soon, they’ll be marching on Camp Half-Blood.”
“We’ve got one month at best,” Jason added. “Ephialtes said Gaea would awaken in exactly one month.”
Leo straightened. “We can do it.”
Everyone stared at him.
“The Archimedes sphere can upgrade the ship,” he said, hoping he was right. “I’m going to study those ancient scrolls we got. There’s got to be all kinds of new weapons I can make. We’re going to hit Gaea’s armies with a whole new arsenal of hurt.”
At the prow of the ship, Festus creaked his jaw and blew fire defiantly.
Jason managed a smile. He clapped Leo on the shoulder.
“Sounds like a plan, Admiral. You want to set the course?”
They kidded him, calling him Admiral, but for once Leo accepted the title. This was his ship. He hadn’t come this far to be stopped.
They would find this House of Hades. They’d take the Doors of Death. And by the gods, if Leo had to design a grabber arm long enough to snatch Percy and Annabeth out of Tartarus, then that’s what he would do.
Nemesis wanted him to wreak vengeance on Gaea? Leo would be happy to oblige. He was going to make Gaea sorry she had ever messed with Leo Valdez.
“Yeah.” He took one last look at the cityscape of Rome, turning bloodred in the sunset. “Festus, raise the sails. We’ve got some friends to save.”
Α∪Ε alpha, theta, epsilon. In Greek it stands for of the Athenians, or the children of Athena.
Achelous a potamus, or river god
Alcyoneus the eldest of the giants born to Gaea, destined to fight Pluto
Amazons a nation of all-female warriors
Aphrodite the Greek goddess of love and beauty. She was married to Hephaestus, but she loved Ares, the god of war. Roman form: Venus
Arachne a weaver who claimed to have skills superior to Athena’s. This angered the goddess, who destroyed Arachne’s tapestry and loom. Arachne hung herself, and Athena brought her back to life as a spider.
Archimedes a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer who lived between 287 and 212 BCE and is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity
Ares the Greek god of war; the son of Zeus and Hera, and half brother to Athena. Roman form: Mars
Argo II the fantastical ship built by Leo, which can both sail and fly and has Festus’s bronze dragon head as its figurehead. The ship was named after the Argo, the vessel used by a band of Greek heroes who accompanied Jason on his quest to find the Golden Fleece.
Athena the Greek goddess of wisdom. Roman form: Minerva
Athena Parthenos a giant statue of Athena: the most famous Greek statue of all time
augury a sign of something coming, an omen; the practice of divining the future
Bacchus the Roman god of wine and revelry. Greek form: Dionysus
ballista (ballistae, pl.) a Roman missile siege weapon that launched a large projectile at a distant target (see also Scorpion ballista)
Bellona a Roman goddess of war
Camp Half-Blood the training ground for Greek demigods, located on Long Island, New York
Camp Jupiter the training ground for Roman demigods, located between the Oakland Hills and the Berkeley Hills, in California
Celestial bronze a rare metal deadly to monsters
centaur a race of creatures that is half human, half horse
centurion an officer of the Roman army
Ceres the Roman goddess of agriculture. Greek form: Demeter
charmspeak a blessing bestowed by Aphrodite on her children that enables them to persuade others with their voice
chiton a Greek garment; a sleeveless piece of linen or wool secured at the shoulders by brooches and at the waist by a belt
Chrysaor the brother of Pegasus, the son of Poseidon and Medusa; known as “the Gold Sword”
Circe a Greek sorceress. In ancient times, she turned Odysseus’s crew into swine.
Colosseum an elliptical amphitheater in the center of Rome, Italy. Capable of seating 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas.
cornucopia a large horn-shaped container overflowing with edibles or wealth in some form. The cornucopia was created when Heracles (Roman: Hercules) wrestled with the river god Achelous and wrenched off one of his horns.
Cyclops a member of a primordial race of giants (Cyclopes, pl.), each with a single eye in the middle of his or her forehead
Daedalus in Greek mythology, a skilled craftsman who created the Labyrinth on Crete in which the Minotaur (part man, part bull) was kept
Deianira Heracles’s second wife. She was of such striking beauty that both Heracles and Achelous wanted to marry her and there was a contest to win her hand. The centaur Nessus tricked her into killing Heracles by dipping his tunic in what she thought was a love potion but was actually Nessus’s poisonous blood.
Demeter the Greek goddess of agriculture, a daughter of the Titans Rhea and Kronos. Roman form: Ceres
denarius (denarii, pl.) the most common coin in the Roman currency system
Dionysus the Greek god of wine and revelry, a son of Zeus. Roman form: Bacchus
Doors of Death a well-hidden passageway that when open allows souls to travel from the Underworld to the world of mortals
drachma the silver coin of Ancient Greece
drakon gigantic serpent
eidolon possessing spirit
Ephialtes and Otis twin giants, sons of Gaea
Epirus a region presently in northwestern Greece and southern Albania
Eurystheus a grandson of Perseus, who, through the favor of Hera, inherited the kingship of Mycenae, which Zeus had intended for Heracles
faun a Roman forest god, part goat and part man. Greek form: satyr
Fortuna the Roman goddess of fortune and good luck. Greek form: Tyche
Forum The Roman Forum was the center of ancient Rome, a plaza where Romans conducted business, trials, and religious activities.
Gaea the Greek earth goddess; mother of Titans, giants, Cyclopes, and other monsters. Roman form: Terra
gladius a short sword
Gorgons three monstrous sisters who have hair of living, venomous snakes. The most famous, Medusa, had eyes that turned the beholder to stone.
greaves shin armor
Greek fire an incendiary weapon used in naval battles because it can continue burning in water
Hades the Greek god of death and riches. Roman form: Pluto
Hadrian a Roman Emperor who ruled from 117 to 138 CE. He is best known for building Hadrian’s Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he rebuilt the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma.
Hagno a nymph who is said to have brought up Zeus. On Mount Lycaeus in Arcadia there was a well sacred to and named after her.
harpy a winged female creature that snatches things
Hebe the goddess of youth; the daughter of Zeus and Hera, and married to Heracles. Roman form: Juventas
Hephaestus the Greek god of fire and crafts and of blacksmiths; the son of Zeus and Hera, and married to Aphrodite. Roman form: Vulcan
Hera the Greek goddess of marriage; Zeus’s wife and sister. Roman form: Juno
Heracles the Greek equivalent of Hercules; the son of Zeus and Alcmene; the strongest of all mortals
Hercules the Roman equivalent of Heracles; the son of Jupiter and Alcmene, who was born with great strength
hippocampi creatures that from the waist up have the body of a horse and from the waist down have silvery fish bodies, with glistening scales and rainbow tail fins. They were used to draw Poseidon’s chariot, and sea foam was created by their movement.
hippodrome a Greek stadium for horse racing and chariot racing
House of Hades an underground temple in Epirus, Greece, dedicated to the Hades and Persephone, sometimes called a necromanteion, or “oracle of death.” Ancient Greeks believed it marked one entrance to the Underworld, and pilgrims would go there to commune with the dead.
hypogeum the area under a coliseum that housed set pieces and machinery used for special effects
ichthyocentaur a fish-centaur described as having the forefeet of a horse, a human torso and head, and a fish tail. It is sometimes shown with a pair of lobster-claw horns.
Imperial gold a rare metal deadly to monsters, consecrated at the Pantheon; its existence was a closely guarded secret of the emperors
Invidia the Roman goddess of revenge. Greek form: Nemesis
Iris the Greek rainbow goddess and a messenger of the gods; the daughter of Thaumas and Electra. Roman form: Iris
Juno the Roman goddess of women, marriage, and fertility; sister and wife of Jupiter; mother of Mars. Greek form: Hera
Jupiter the Roman king of the gods; also called Jupiter Optimus Maximus (the best and the greatest). Greek form: Zeus
Juventas the Roman goddess of youth. Greek form: Hebe
Kalends of July the first day of July, which was sacred to Juno
karpoi grain spirits
Katoptris Piper’s dagger, once owned by Helen of Troy. The word means “looking glass.”
Keto the Greek goddess of sea monsters and large sea creatures, such as whales and sharks. She is the daughter of Gaea and the sister-wife of Phorcys, god of the dangers of the sea.
Khione the Greek goddess of snow; daughter of Boreas
Kronos the Greek god of agriculture, the son of Uranus and Gaea and the father of Zeus. Roman form: Saturn
Lar a house god, ancestral spirit of Rome (Lares, pl.).
Lupa the sacred Roman she-wolf that nursed the foundling twins Romulus and Remus
Marcus Agrippa a Roman statesman and general; defense minister to Octavian, and responsible for most of his military victories. He commissioned the Pantheon as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome.
Mare Nostrum Latin for Our Sea, was a Roman name for the Mediterranean Sea
Mars the Roman god of war; also called Mars Ultor. Patron of the empire; divine father of Romulus and Remus. Greek form: Ares
Minerva the Roman goddess of wisdom. Greek form: Athena
Minotaur a monster with the head of a bull on the body of a man
Mist a magic force that disguises things from mortals
Mithras Originally a Persian god of the sun, Mithras was worshipped by Roman warriors as a guardian of arms and a patron of soldiers.
Narcissus a Greek hunter who was renowned for his beauty. He was exceptionally proud and disdained those who loved him. Nemesis saw this and attracted Narcissus to a pool where he saw his reflection in the water and fell in love with it. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus died.
Nemesis the Greek goddess of revenge. Roman form: Invidia
Neptune the Roman god of the sea. Greek form: Poseidon
Nereids fifty female sea spirits; patrons of sailors and fishermen and caretakers of the sea’s bounty
Nessus a crafty centaur who tricked Deianira into killing Heracles
New Rome a community near Camp Jupiter where demigods can live together in peace, without interference from mortals or monsters
Nike the Greek goddess of strength, speed, and victory. Roman form: Victoria
nymph a female nature deity who animates nature
nymphaeum a shrine to nymphs
Pantheon a building in Rome, Italy, commissioned by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome, and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 CE
pater Latin for father; also the name of an ancient Roman god of the Underworld, later subsumed by Pluto
pauldron a piece of plate armor for the shoulder and the upper part of the arm
Pegasus In Greek mythology, a winged divine horse; sired by Poseidon, in his role as horse-god, and foaled by the Gorgon Medusa; the brother of Chrysaor
Persephone the Greek queen of the Underworld; wife of Hades; daughter of Zeus and Demeter. Roman form: Proserpine
Phorcys In Greek mythology, a primordial god of the dangers of the sea; son of Gaea; brother-husband of Keto
Piazza Navona a city square in Rome, built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, where Ancient Romans watched competitive games
Pluto the Roman god of death and riches. Greek form: Hades
Polybotes the giant son of Gaea, the Earth Mother
Pomerian Line the boundary around New Rome, and in ancient times, the city limits of Rome
Porphyrion the king of the Giants in Greek and Roman mythology
Poseidon the Greek god of the sea; son of the Titans Kronos and Rhea, and brother of Zeus and Hades. Roman form: Neptune
praetor an elected Roman magistrate and commander of the army
Proserpine Roman queen of the Underworld. Greek form: Persephone
Rhea Silvia a priestess and mother of the twins Romulus and Remus, who founded Rome
Riptide the name of Percy Jackson’s sword (Anaklusmos in Greek)
Romulus and Remus the twin sons of Mars and the priestess Rhea Silvia. They were thrown into the River Tiber by their human father, Amulius, and rescued and raised by a she-wolf. Upon reaching adulthood, they founded Rome.
Saturn the Roman god of agriculture; the son of Uranus and Gaea, and the father of Jupiter. Greek form: Kronos
satyr a Greek forest god, part goat and part man. Roman equivalent: faun
Scorpion ballista a Roman missile siege weapon that launched a large projectile at a distant target
Senatus Populusque Romanus (SPQR) meaning “The Senate and People of Rome,” refers to the government of the Roman Republic and is used as an official emblem of Rome
skolopendra a gargantuan Greek sea monster with hairy nostrils, a flat crayfish-like tail, and rows of webbed feet lining its flanks
Stymphalian birds in Greek mythology, man-eating birds with bronze beaks and sharp metallic feathers they could launch at their victims; sacred to Ares, the god of war
Sybilline Books a collection of prophecies in rhyme written in Greek. Tarquinius Superbus, a king of Rome, bought them from a prophetess named Sibyl and consulted them in times of great danger.
Tartarus husband of Gaea; spirit of the abyss; father of the giants
telkhines mysterious sea demons and smiths native to the islands of Kaos and Rhodes; children of Thalassa and Pontus; they had flippers instead of hands and dogs’ heads and were known as fish children
Terminus the Roman god of boundaries and landmarks
Terra the Roman goddess of the Earth. Greek form: Gaea
Thanatos the Greek god of death. Roman form: Letus
thyrsus Bacchus’s weapon, a staff topped by a pinecone and twined with ivy
Tiber River the third-longest river in Italy. Rome was founded on its banks. In Ancient Rome, executed criminals were thrown into the river.
Tiberius was Roman Emperor from 14 CE to 37 CE. He was one of Rome’s greatest generals, but he came to be remembered as a reclusive and somber ruler who never really wanted to be emperor.
Titans a race of powerful Greek deities, descendants of Gaia and Uranus, who ruled during the Golden Age and were overthrown by a race of younger gods, the Olympians
Trevi Fountain a fountain in the Trevi district in Rome. Standing more than eighty-five feet high and sixty-five feet wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world.
trireme an Ancient Greek or Roman warship, having three tiers of oars on each side
Tyche the Greek goddess of good luck; daughter of Hermes and Aphrodite. Roman form: Fortuna
Venus the Roman goddess of love and beauty. She was married to Vulcan, but she loved Mars, the god of war. Greek form: Aphrodite
Vestal Virgins Roman priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the hearth. The Vestals were free of the usual social obligations to marry and bear children and took a vow of chastity in order to devote themselves to the study and observance of ritual.
Via Labicana an ancient road of Italy, leading east-southeast from Rome
Via Principalis the main street in a Roman camp or fort
Victoria the Roman goddess of strength, speed, and victory. Greek form: Nike
Vulcan the Roman god of fire and crafts and of blacksmiths; the son of Jupiter and Juno, and married to Venus. Greek form: Hephaestus
Wolf House a ruined mansion, originally commissioned by Jack London near Sonoma, California, where Percy Jackson was trained as a Roman demigod by Lupa
Zeus Greek god of the sky and king of the gods. Roman form: Jupiter