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Reading the Son of Neptune by april-babe16
Books » Percy Jackson and the Olympians Rated: K+, English, Hurt/Comfort & Family, P:12-22-11 U:5-29-12
920 Chapter 5: IV Percy

Annabeth took the book from Jason and began to read...

ON THE WAY OUT OF CAMP, Hazel bought him an espresso drink and a cherry muffin from Bombilo the two-headed coffee merchant.

"Why aren't you surprised?" Jason asked everyone knowing how surprised he would be if he didn't know before.

Thalia shrugged, "We have a thousand eyed security guard, the camp director is a god, and we have pegasi. Do you really expect us to be surprised?"

He didn't respond.

Percy inhaled the muffin. The coffee was great. Now, Percy thought, if he could just get a shower, a change of clothes, and some sleep, he'd be golden. Maybe even Imperial golden. He watched a bunch of kids in swimsuits and towels head into a building that had steam coming out of a row of chimneys. Laughter and watery sounds echoed from inside, like it was an indoor pool—Percy's kind of place.

"Of course it's your kind of place. You're the son of the sea god." Annabeth rolled her eyes.

"Bath house," Hazel said. "We'll get you in there before dinner, hopefully. You haven't lived until you've had a Roman bath." Percy sighed with anticipation.

"They are amazing." Jason admitted.

"I never really would've had the time to take a nice bath anyways with all the other stuff going on." Almost everyone shrugged.

As they approached the front gate, the barracks got bigger and nicer. Even the ghosts looked better—with fancier armor and shinier auras. Percy tried to decipher the banners and symbols hanging in front of the buildings.

"You guys are divided into different cabins?" he asked.

"Sort of." Hazel ducked as a kid riding a giant eagle swooped overhead.

"Someone was riding a giant eagle?" Leo asked while trying not to laugh.

"We have five cohorts of about forty kids each. Each cohort is divided into barracks of ten—like roommates, kind of."

Percy had never been great at math, but he tried to multiply.

"He really isn't." Annabeth sighed.

"You're telling me there's two hundred kids at camp?"


"And all of them are children of the gods? The gods have been busy."

Hazel laughed. "Not all of them are children of major gods. There are hundreds of minor Roman gods. Plus, a lot of the campers are legacies—second or third generation. Maybe their parents were demigods. Or their grandparents."

"Children of demigods?" Annabeth asked surprised.

Percy blinked. "Children of demigods?"

"Awwww Annie, you said the same thing as your boyfriend" Thalia teased. Athena closed her eyes and took deep breaths.

"Don't call me Annie." Annabeth hissed at her.

"Why? Does that surprise you?"

"Yes." Every single demigod replied.

Percy wasn't sure. The last few weeks he'd been so worried about surviving day to day. The idea of living long enough to be an adult and have kids of his own—that seemed like an impossible dream.

Annabeth blushed at her thoughts because right now she was thinking of maybe getting married and having kids someday. She was blushing because all of her thoughts included Percy.

"These Legos—"

"Did he say Legos?" Jason raised his eyebrows.

"Yeah." Annabeth grumbled, "Stupid seaweed brain.

"Legacies," Hazel corrected.

"They have powers like a demigod?"

"Sometimes. Sometimes not. But they can be trained. All the best Roman generals and emperors—you know, they all claimed to be descended from gods. Most of the time, they were telling the truth. The camp augur we're going to meet, Octavian, he's a legacy, descendant of Apollo. He's got the gift of prophecy, supposedly."

Everyone raised an eyebrow at this. What does she mean "supposedly."


Hazel made a sour face. "You'll see."

That didn't make Percy feel so great, if this dude Octavian had Percy's fate in his hands.

"Yeah, that doesn't make me feel great either." Sally sighed.

"So the divisions," he asked, "the cohorts, whatever—you're divided according to who your godly parent is?"

Hazel stared at him. "What a horrible idea! No, the officers decide where to assign recruits. If we were divided according to god, the cohorts would be all uneven. I'd be alone."

"It is kind of a bad idea." Annabeth admitted. "Thalia had to be alone, Percy was alone, Nico is alone, and now Jason is alone."

Percy felt a twinge of sadness, like he'd been in that situation. "Why? What's your ancestry?"

"You have been in that situation." Thalia rolled her eyes.

Before she could answer, someone behind them yelled, "Wait!"

A ghost ran toward them—an old man with a medicine-ball belly and toga so long he kept tripping on it. He caught up to them and gasped for air, his purple aura flickering around him.

"This is him?" the ghost panted. "A new recruit for the Fifth, perhaps?"

"Vitellius," Hazel said, "we're sort of in a hurry."

The ghost scowled at Percy and walked around him, inspecting him like a used car. "I don't know," he grumbled. "We need only the best for the cohort. Does he have all his teeth? Can he fight? Does he clean stables?"

"Yes, yes, and no," Percy said.

Nico raised his eyebrows, "He happens to be very good at cleaning stables." Nico remembered when he had to do that with a bunch of cows trying to eat him.

"Who are you?"

"Percy, this is Vitellius." Hazel's expression said: Just humor him. "He's one of our Lares; takes an interest in new recruits."

On a nearby porch, other ghosts snickered as Vitellius paced back and forth, tripping over his toga and hiking up his sword belt.

"Yes," Vitellius said, "back in Caesar's day—that's Julius Caesar, mind you—the Fifth Cohort was something! Twelfth Legion Fulminata, pride of Rome! But these days? Disgraceful what we've come to. Look at Hazel here, using a spatha. Ridiculous weapon for a Roman legionnaire—that's for cavalry! And you, boy—you smell like a Greek sewer.

"We do not smell like sewer." Piper glared at the book.

Haven't you had a bath?"

"I've been a little busy fighting gorgons," Percy said. "Vitellius," Hazel interrupted, "we've got to get Percy's augury before he can join. Why don't you check on Frank? He's in the armory doing inventory. You know how much he values your help." The ghost's furry purple eyebrows shot up. "Mars Almighty! They let the probation check the armor? We'll be ruined!"

He stumbled off down the street, stopping every few feet to pick up his sword or rearrange his toga.

"O-h-h-kay," Percy said.

"Sorry," Hazel said. "He's eccentric, but he's one of the oldest Lares. Been around since the legion was founded."

"He called the legion…Fulminata?" Percy said.

"'Armed with Lightning, Hazel translated. "That's our motto. The Twelfth Legion was around for the entire Roman Empire. When Rome fell, a lot of legions just disappeared. We went underground, acting on secret orders from Jupiter himself: stay alive, recruit demigods and their children, keep Rome going. We've been doing that ever since, moving around to wherever Roman influence was strongest. The last few centuries, we've been in America."

As bizarre as that sounded, Percy had no trouble believing it. In fact, it sounded familiar, like something he'd always known.

Once again everyone rolled their eyes.

"And you're in the Fifth Cohort," he guessed, "which maybe isn't the most popular?"

Hazel scowled. "Yeah. I joined up last September."

"So…just a few weeks before that guy Jason disappeared."

Percy knew he'd hit a sore spot. Hazel looked down. She was silent long enough to count every paving stone.

"Come on," she said at last. "I'll show you my favourite view."

They stopped outside the main gates. The fort was situated on the highest point in the valley, so they could see pretty much everything.

Everyone close their eyes trying to imagine it.

The road led down to the river and divided. One path led south across a bridge, up to the hill with all the temples. The other road led north into the city, a miniature version of Ancient Rome. Unlike the military camp, the city looked chaotic and colorful, with buildings crowded together at haphazard angles. Even from this far away, Percy could see people gathered in the plaza, shoppers milling around an open-air market, parents with kids playing in the parks.

"You've got families here?" he asked.

"In the city, absolutely," Hazel said. "When you're accepted into the legion, you do ten years of service. After that, you can muster out whenever you want. Most demigods go into the mortal world. But for some—well, it's pretty dangerous out there. This valley is a sanctuary. You can go to college in the city, get married, have kids, retire when you get old. It's the only safe place on earth for people like us. So yeah, a lot of veterans make their homes there, under the protection of the legion." Adult demigods. Demigods who could live without fear, get married, raise a family. Percy couldn't quite wrap his mind around that. It seemed too good to be true.

"But if this valley is attacked?"

Hazel pursed her lips. "We have defences. The borders are magical. But our strength isn't what it used to be. Lately, the monster attacks have been increasing. What you said about the gorgons not dying… we've noticed that too, with other monsters."

"That is annoying." Grover said.

"Do you know what's causing it?" Hazel looked away. Percy could tell that she was holding something back—something she wasn't supposed to say.

Don't say it Hazel, don't say it. Nico prayed in his mind.

"It's—it's complicated," she said. "My brother says Death isn't—"

Nico groaned.

"I thought she said she had no siblings." Thalia mentioned. Everyone else shrugged.

She was interrupted by an elephant.

Someone behind them shouted, "Make way!"

Hazel dragged Percy out of the road as a demigod rode past on a full-grown pachyderm covered in black Kevlar armor. The word elephant was printed on the side of his armor, which seemed a little obvious to Percy.

The elephant thundered down the road and turned north, heading toward a big open field where some fortifications were under construction.

Percy spit dust out of his mouth.

"What the—?"

"Elephant," Hazel explained.

"Yeah, I read the sign. Why do you have an elephant in a bulletproof vest?"

"War games tonight," Hazel said. "That's Hannibal. If we didn't include him, he'd get upset."

"We can't have that."

"Yeah you can't hurt the elephants feelings." Nico rolled his eyes.

Hazel laughed. It was hard to believe she'd looked so moody a moment ago. Percy wondered what she'd been about to say. She had a brother.

Yet she had claimed she'd be alone if the camp sorted her by her godly parent.

Percy couldn't figure her out. She seemed nice and easy going, mature for somebody who couldn't have been more than thirteen. But she also seemed to be hiding a deep sadness, like she felt guilty about something.

Everyone was thinking about what that might be except Nico who knew they would be better off not knowing.

Hazel pointed south across the river. Dark clouds were gathering over Temple Hill. Red flashes of lightning washed the monuments in blood-colored light. "Octavian is busy," Hazel said. "We'd better get over there."

On the way, they passed some goat-legged guys hanging out on the side of the road.

"Satyr?" Grover perked up.

"Hazel!" one of them cried.

He trotted over with a big grin on his face. He wore a faded Hawaiian shirt and nothing for pants except thick brown goat fur. His massive Afro jiggled. His eyes were hidden behind little round rainbow tinted glasses. He held a cardboard sign that read: WILL WORK SINGTALK go away for denarii.

"I'm ashamed to be a satyr." Grover scowled. This time everyone rolled their eyes at Grover instead of Percy.

"Hi, Don," Hazel said. "Sorry, we don't have time—"

"Oh, that's cool! That's cool!" Don trotted along with them. "Hey, this guy's new!" He grinned at Percy. "Do you have three denarii for the bus? Because I left my wallet at home, and I've got to get to work, and—"

"Don," Hazel chided. "Fauns don't have wallets. Or jobs. Or homes. And we don't have buses."

"They don't?" Grover asked, "Weird..."

"Right," he said cheerfully, "but do you have denarii?"

"Your name is Don the Faun?" Percy asked.

Everyone snickered.

"Yeah. So?"

"Nothing." Percy tried to keep a straight face. "Why don't fauns have jobs? Shouldn't they work for the camp?"

Don bleated. "Fauns! Work for the camp! Hilarious!"

"We like working for the camp." Grover glared at the book.

"Fauns are, um, free spirits," Hazel explained. "They hang out here because, well, it's a safe place to hang out and beg. We tolerate them, but—"

"Oh, Hazel is awesome," Don said. "She's so nice! All the other campers are like, 'Go away, Don.' But she's like, 'Please go away, Don.' I love her!"

"Yeah, you should always use your manners." Leo nodded.

The faun seemed harmless, but Percy still found him unsettling. He couldn't shake the feeling that fauns should be more than just homeless guys begging for denarii. Don looked at the ground in front of them and gasped. "Score!"

He reached for something, but Hazel screamed, "Don, no!"

She pushed him out of the way and snatched up a small shiny object. Percy caught a glimpse of it before Hazel slipped it into her pocket. He could have sworn it was a diamond.

Nico sighed, that was a close one. Everyone stared at him. He had to stop being so obvious.

"Come on, Hazel," Don complained. "I could've bought a year's worth of doughnuts with that!"

"Don, please," Hazel said. "Go away."

She sounded shaken, like she'd just saved Don from a charging bulletproof elephant.

Worse than that. Nico scowled.

The faun sighed. "Aw, I can't stay mad at you. But I swear, it's like you're good luck. Every time you walk by—"

"Good-bye, Don," Hazel said quickly.

"Let's go, Percy."

She started jogging. Percy had to sprint to catch up.

"What was that about?" Percy asked. "That diamond in the road—"

"Please," she said. "Don't ask."

They walked in uneasy silence the rest of the way to Temple Hill. A crooked stone path led past a crazy assortment of tiny altars and massive domed vaults. Statues of gods seemed to follow Percy with their eyes.

Hazel pointed out the Temple of Bellona. "Goddess of war," she said. "That's Reyna's mom." Then they passed a massive red crypt decorated with human skulls on iron spikes.

"That sounds like the Ares Cabin." Annabeth groaned.

"Please tell me we're not going in there," Percy said.

Hazel shook her head. "That's the Temple of Mars Ultor."

"Mars ... Ares, the war god?"

"That's his Greek name," Hazel said. "But, yeah, same guy. Ultor means 'the Avenger.' He's the second-most important god of Rome."

"That's so weird." Leo made a face.

Percy wasn't thrilled to hear that. For some reason, just looking at the ugly red building made him feel angry.

"Yeah because you and Ares kind of got into a fight a while ago and you don't really like each other." Annabeth explained.

"He did what?" Jason, Piper, and Leo asked.

:He fought Ares and won." Grover smirked.

While Piper, Jason, and Leo sat there open-mouthed, Ares scowled at the memory.

He pointed toward the summit. Clouds swirled over the largest temple, a round pavilion with a ring of white columns supporting a domed roof. "I'm guessing that's Zeus—uh, I mean, Jupiter's? That's where we're heading?"

"Yeah." Hazel sounded edgy. "Octavian reads auguries there—the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus."

Percy had to think about it, but the Latin words clicked into English.

"Jupiter…the best and the greatest?"


"What's Neptune's title?" Percy asked. "The coolest and most awesome?"

"Surrrre.." Thalia rolled her eyes.

"Um, not quite." Hazel gestured to a small blue building the size of a tool shed. A cobweb-covered trident was nailed above the door.

Percy peeked inside. On a small altar sat a bowl with three dried-up, moldy apples.

His heart sank. "Popular place."

"Yeah they don't really like me." Poseidon winced.

"I'm sorry, Percy," Hazel said. "It's just…Romans were always scared of the sea. They only used ships if they had to. Even in modern times, having a child of Neptune around has always been a bad omen. The last time one joined the legion …well, it was 1906, when Camp Jupiter was located across the bay in San Francisco. There was this huge earthquake—"

"You're telling me a child of Neptune caused that?"

"So they say." Hazel looked apologetic.

"Anyway…Romans fear Neptune, but they don't love him much." Percy stared at the cobwebs on the trident. Great, he thought. Even if he joined the camp, he would never be loved. His best hope was to be scary to his new campmates. Maybe if he did really well, they'd give him some moldy apples.

Sally sighed. She felt bad that her son had to go through all of that.

Still…standing at Neptune's altar, he felt something stirring inside him, like waves rippling through his veins.

He reached in his backpack and dug out the last bit of food from his trip—a stale bagel. It wasn't much, but he set it on the altar.

"Hey…uh, Dad." He felt pretty stupid talking to a bowl of fruit. "If you can hear me, help me out, okay? Give me my memory back. Tell me—tell me what to do."

His voice cracked. He hadn't meant to get emotional, but he was exhausted and scared, and he'd been lost for so long, he would've given anything for some guidance. He wanted to know something about his life for sure, without grabbing for missing memories.

Hazel put her hand on his shoulder.

"It'll be okay. You're here now. You're one of us." He felt awkward, depending on an eighth-grade girl he barely knew for comfort, but he was glad she was there.

Above them, thunder rumbled. Red lightning lit up the hill.

"Octavian's almost done," Hazel said.

"Let's go."

Compared to Neptune's tool shed, Jupiter's temple was definitely optimus and maximus. The marble floor was etched with fancy mosaics and Latin inscriptions. Sixty feet above, the domed ceiling sparkled gold. The whole temple was open to the wind.

Jason, once again, closed his eyes remembering the image.

In the centre stood a marble altar, where a kid in a toga was doing some sort of ritual in front of a massive golden statue of the big dude himself: Jupiter the sky god, dressed in a silk XXXL purple toga, holding a lightning bolt.

"It doesn't look like that," Percy muttered.

"What?" Hazel asked.

"The master bolt," Percy said.

"How does he know that?" Jason asked.

"When we were twelve Zeus thought that Percy stole the lightning bolt so me, Percy, and Grover had to go on a quest to get it." Annabeth explained.

"Oh." Jason said simply.

"What are you talking about?"

"I Percy frowned. For a second, he'd thought he remembered something. Now it was gone. "Nothing, I guess."

The kid at the altar raised his hands. More red lightning flashed in the sky, shaking the temple. Then he put his hands down, and the rumbling stopped. The clouds turned from gray to white and broke apart. A pretty impressive trick, considering the kid didn't look like much. He was tall and skinny, with straw-colored hair, oversized jeans, a baggy T-shirt, and a drooping toga. He looked like a scarecrow wearing a bed sheet.

Everyone laughed at the description except Jason who scowled. Jason didn'r remember much about Octavian but he knew that he didn't like him.

"What's he doing?" Percy murmured.

The guy in the toga turned. He had a crooked smile and a slightly crazy look in his eyes,

"Octavian." Jason glared.

like he'd just been playing an intense video game. In one hand he held a knife. In the other hand was something like a dead animal. That didn't make him look any less crazy.

"That's horrible!" Grover exclaimed.

Jason replied, "It's just a stuffed animal.

"Percy," Hazel said, "this is Octavian."

"The graecus!" Octavian announced.

"How interesting."

"Uh, hi," Percy said. "Are you killing small animals?"

"He better not be." Grover said looking scarier than usual.

Octavian looked at the fuzzy thing in his hand and laughed. "No, no. Once upon a time, yes. We used to read the will of the gods by examining animal guts—chickens, goats, that sort of thing. Nowadays, we use these."

He tossed the fuzzy thing to Percy. It was a disemboweled teddy bear. Then Percy noticed that there was a whole pile of mutilated stuffed animals at the foot of Jupiter's statue.

"Seriously?" Percy asked.

"It's better than small animals." Grover reasoned.

Octavian stepped off the dais. He was probably about eighteen, but so skinny and sickly pale, he could've passed for younger.

At first he looked harmless, but as he got closer, Percy wasn't so sure. Octavian's eyes glittered with harsh curiosity, like he might gut Percy just as easily as a teddy bear if he thought he could learn something from it.

Annabeth glared at Jason again.

Octavian narrowed his eyes. "You seem nervous."

"You remind me of someone," Percy said. "I can't remember who."Possibly my namesake, Octavian— Augustus Caesar. Everyone says I bear a remarkable resemblance."

"I think he's remembering Rachel a little bit." Annabeth smirked.

Percy didn't think that was it, but he couldn't pin down the memory. "Why did you call me 'the Greek'?"

"I saw it in the auguries." Octavian waved his knife at the pile of stuffing on the altar. "The message said: The Greek has arrived. Or possibly: The goose has cried. I'm thinking the first interpretation is correct. You seek to join the legion?"

Hazel spoke for him. She told Octavian everything that had happened since they met at the tunnel—the gorgons, the fight at the river, the appearance of Juno, their conversation with Reyna.

When she mentioned Juno, Octavian looked surprised.

"Juno," he mused. "We call her Juno Moneta. Juno the Warner. She appears in times of crisis, to counsel Rome about great threats."

He glanced at Percy, as if to say: like mysterious Greeks, for instance.


"I hear the Feast of Fortuna is this week," Percy said. "The gorgons warned there'd be an invasion on that day. Did you see that in your stuffing?"

"Sadly, no." Octavian sighed. "The will of the gods is hard to discern. And these days, my vision is even darker."

"Don't you have…I don't know," Percy said, "an oracle or something?"

"An oracle!" Octavian smiled. "What a cute idea. No, I'm afraid we're fresh out of oracles.

"Nope." Annabeth smirked.

Now, if we'd gone questing for the Sibylline books, like I recommended—"

"The Siba-what?" Percy asked.

"Books of prophecy," Hazel said, "which Octavian is obsessed with. Romans used to consult them when disasters happened. Most people believe they burned up when Rome fell."

"Some people believe that," Octavian corrected. "Unfortunately our present leadership won't authorize a quest to look for them—"

"Because Reyna isn't stupid," Hazel said.—so we have only a few remaining scraps from the books," Octavian continued.

"A few mysterious predictions, like these." He nodded to the inscriptions on the marble floor. Percy stared at the lines of words, not really expecting to understand them. He almost choked.

"That one." He pointed, translating as he read aloud: "Seven half-bloods shall answerthe call. To storm or fire the world must fall"

"Oh, so that's why you knew the prophecy." Piper realized. He nodded in response.

"Yes, yes." Octavian finished it without looking: "An oath to keep with a finalbreath and foes bear arms to the Doorsof Death."

"I—I know that one." Percy thought thunder was shaking the temple again. Then he realized his whole body was trembling. "That's important."

Octavian arched an eyebrow. "Of course it's important. We call it the Prophecy of Seven, but it's several thousand years old.

Everybody raised an eyebrow at that.

We don't know what it means. Every time someone tries to interpret it…Well, Hazel can tell you. Bad things happen."

Hazel glared at him. "Just read the augury for Percy. Can he join the legion or not?"

Percy could almost see Octavian's mind working, calculating whether or not Percy would be useful. He held out his hand for Percy's backpack. "That's a beautiful specimen. May I?"

"What specimen?" Nico asked.

Percy didn't understand what he meant, but Octavian snatched the Bargain Mart panda pillow that was sticking out of the top of his pack. It was just a silly stuffed toy, but Percy had carried it a long way. He was kind of fond of it.

Everybody laughed.

Octavian turned toward the altar and raised his knife.

"Hey!" Percy protested.

Octavian slashed open the panda's belly and poured its stuffing over the altar.

"Well that's rude." Leo remarked.

He tossed the panda carcass aside, muttered a few words over the fluff, and turned with a big smile on his face. "Good news!" he said. "Percy may join the legion. We'll assign him a cohort at evening muster. Tell Reyna that I approve."

Hazel's shoulders relaxed. "Uh…great. Come on, Percy."

"Oh, and Hazel," Octavian said. "I'm happy to welcome Percy into the legion. But when the election for praetor comes up, I hope you'll remember—"

"Jason isn't dead," Hazel snapped.

"Thanks for the faith in me Hazel." Jason sighed.

"You're the augur. You're supposed to be looking for him!"

"Oh, I am!" Octavian pointed at the pile of gutted stuffed animals. "I consult the gods every day! Alas, after eight months, I've found nothing. Of course, I'm still looking. But if Jason doesn't return by the Feast of Fortuna, we must act. We can't have a power vacuum any longer. I hope you'll support me for praetor. It would mean so much to me."

Hazel clenched her fists. "Me. Support. You?"

Octavian took off his toga, setting it and his knife on the altar. Percy noticed seven lines on Octavian's arm—seven years of camp, Percy guessed. Octavian's mark was a harp, the symbol of Apollo.

"Wow that's a long time." Annabeth said a little impressed.

"After all," Octavian told Hazel, "I might be able to help you. It would be a shame if those awful rumors about you kept circulating…or, gods forbid, if they turned out to be true."

Percy slipped his hand into his pocket and grabbed his pen. This guy was blackmailing Hazel. That was obvious. One sign from Hazel, and Percy was ready to bust out Riptide and see how Octavian liked being at the other end of a blade.

"Leave her alone." Nico growled. Annabeth was even more suspicious than before.

Hazel took a deep breath. Her knuckles were white. "I'll think about it."

"Excellent," Octavian said. "By the way, your brother is here."

Nico froze. This wasn't good at all.

Hazel stiffened. "My brother? Why?" Octavian shrugged. "Why does your brother do anything? He's waiting for you at your father's shrine. Just…ah, don't invite him to stay too long. He has a disturbing effect on the others.

I do not! Nico thought inside his head.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to keep searching for our poor lost friend, Jason. Nice to meet you, Percy."

Hazel stormed out of the pavilion, and Percy followed. He was sure he'd never been so glad to leave a temple in his life. As Hazel marched down the hill, she cursed in Latin. Percy didn't understand all of it, but he got son of a gorgon, power hungrysnake, and a few choice suggestions about where Octavian could stick his knife.

"She's good." Thalia complimented.

"Thalia you don't compliment people on their insults." Annabeth scolded. Thalia just shrugged.

"I hate that guy," she muttered in English. "If I had my way—"

"He won't really get elected praetor, will he?" Percy asked.

"I wish I could be certain. Octavian has a lot of friends, most of them bought.

The rest of the campers are afraid of him."

"Afraid of that skinny little guy?"

"Don't underestimate him. Reyna's not so bad by herself, but if Octavian shares her power…" Hazel shuddered. "Let's go see my brother. He'll want to meet you."

I don't think I will. Nico corrected.

Percy didn't argue. He wanted to meet this mysterious brother, maybe learn something about Hazel's background— who her dad was, what secret she was hiding. Percy couldn't believe she'd done anything to be guilty about. She seemed too nice. But Octavian had acted like he had some first-class dirt on her.

Hazel led Percy to a black crypt built into the side of the hill. Standing in front was a teenage boy in black jeans and an aviator jacket.

Everyone looked at Nico suspiciously.

"Hey," Hazel called. "I've brought a friend."

The boy turned. Percy had another one of those weird flashes: like this was somebody he should know.

They looked at him, again.

The kid was almost as pale as Octavian, but with dark eyes and messy black hair. He didn't look anything like Hazel. He wore a silver skull ring, a chain for a belt, and a black T-shirt with skull designs. At his side hung a pure-black sword.

Now they were glaring.

For a microsecond when he saw Percy, the boy seemed shocked—panicked even, like he'd been caught in a searchlight.

"This is Percy Jackson," Hazel said. "He's a good guy. Percy, this is my brother, the son of Pluto." The boy regained his composure and held out his hand. "Pleased to meet you," he said. "I'm Nico Di Angelo."

At that exact moment Annabeth swung her fist around to meet Nico's face without waiting for an explanation and Poseidon sprayed him with a lot of water.

"Owww, what was that for?" Nico asked.

"What do you think?" Annabeth replied as she punched him again. After she got a few good hit in Thalia and Grover pulled her off.

"Let him explain." Thalia told Annabeth.

"Nico, how did you find Camp Jupiter?" Annabeth asked still glaring.

"I went to the underworld and some ghosts were talking about it." Nico quickly responded.

"Why didn't you tell us about Camp Jupiter?" Annabeth asked.

"You guys weren't supposed to meet, and you weren't ready to meet." Nico answered.

"Why aren't you going to say something to Percy or tell us where he is?" Annabeth asked with her voice shaking.

"It's not a good idea to mess with fate." Nico said back to her quietly.

Annabeth looked away and asked, "Who's reading next?"

"I will." Nico offered cautiously.

A/N: I'm going to add three new characters to this story. Go to the poll on my profile page if you want to choose who you think should be added:)

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