The Titan's Curse pjato-3 Read online





  The Titan's Curse

  ( Percy Jackson and the Olympians - 3 )

  Rick Riordan

  When the goddess Artemis goes missing, she is believed to have been kidnapped.And now it's up to Percy and his friends to find out what happened. Who is powerful enough to kidnap a goddess? They must find Artemis before the winter solstice, when her influence on the Olympian Council could swing an important vote on the war with the titans. Not only that, but first Percy will have to solve the mystery of a rare monster that Artemis was hunting when she disappeared — a monster rumored to be so powerful it could destroy Olympus forever.

  THE TITAN'S CURSE

  Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book — 3

  Rick Riordan

  ONE

  MY RESCUE OPERATION GOES VERY WRONG

  The Friday before winter break, my mom packed me an overnight bag and a few deadly weapons and took me to a new boarding school. We picked up my friends Annabeth and Thalia on the way.

  It was an eight-hour drive from New York to Bar Harbor, Maine. Sleet and snow pounded the highway. Annabeth, Thalia, and I hadn't seen each other in months, but between the blizzard and the thought of what we were about to do, we were too nervous to talk much. Except for my mom. She talks more when she's nervous. By the time we finally got to Westover Hall, it was getting dark, and she'd told Annabeth and Thalia every embarrassing baby story there was to tell about me.

  Thalia wiped the fog off the car window and peered outside. "Oh, yeah. This'll be fun."

  Westover Hall looked like an evil knight's castle. It was all black stone, with towers and slit windows and a big set of wooden double doors. It stood on a snowy cliff overlooking this big frosty forest on one side and the gray churning ocean on the other.

  "Are you sure you don't want me to wait?" my mother asked.

  "No, thanks, Mom," I said. "I don't know how long it will take. We'll be okay."

  "But how will you get back? I'm worried, Percy."

  I hoped I wasn't blushing. It was bad enough I had to depend on my mom to drive me to my battles.

  "It's okay, Ms. Jackson." Annabeth smiled reassuringly. Her blond hair was tucked into a ski cap and her gray eyes were the same color as the ocean. "We'll keep him out of trouble."

  My mom seemed to relax a little. She thinks Annabeth is the most levelheaded demigod ever to hit eighth grade. She's sure Annabeth often keeps me from getting killed. She's right, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

  "All right, dears," my mom said. "Do you have everything you need?"

  "Yes, Ms. Jackson," Thalia said. "Thanks for the ride."

  "Extra sweaters? You have my cell phone number?"

  "Mom—"

  "Your ambrosia and nectar, Percy? And a golden drachma in case you need to contact camp?"

  "Mom, seriously! We'll be fine. Come on, guys."

  She looked a little hurt, and I was sorry about that, but I was ready to be out of that car. If my mom told one more story about how cute I looked in the bathtub when I was three years old, I was going to burrow into the snow and freeze myself to death.

  Annabeth and Thalia followed me outside. The wind blew straight through my coat like ice daggers.

  Once my mother's car was out of sight, Thalia said, "Your mom is so cool, Percy."

  "She's pretty okay," I admitted. "What about you? You ever get in touch with your mom?"

  As soon as I said it, I wished I hadn't. Thalia was great at giving evil looks, what with the punk clothes she always wears—the ripped-up army jacket, black leather pants and chain jewelry, the black eyeliner and those intense blue eyes. But the look she gave me now was a perfect evil "ten."

  "If that was any of your business, Percy—"

  "We'd better get inside," Annabeth interrupted. "Grover will be waiting."

  Thalia looked at the castle and shivered. "You're right. I wonder what he found here that made him send the distress call."

  I stared up at the dark towers of Westover Hall. "Nothing good," I guessed.

  The oak doors groaned open, and the three of us stepped into the entry hall in a swirl of snow.

  All I could say was, "Whoa."

  The place was huge. The walls were lined with battle flags and weapon displays: antique rifles, battle axes, and a bunch of other stuff. I mean, I knew Westover was a military school and all, but the decorations seemed like overkill. Literally.

  My hand went to my pocket, where I kept my lethal ballpoint pen, Riptide. I could already sense something wrong in this place. Something dangerous. Thalia was rubbing her silver bracelet, her favorite magic item. I knew we were thinking the same thing. A fight was coming.

  Annabeth started to say, "I wonder where—"

  The doors slammed shut behind us.

  "Oo-kay," I mumbled. "Guess we'll stay awhile."

  I could hear music echoing from the other end of the hall. It sounded like dance music.

  We stashed our overnight bags behind a pillar and started down the hall. We hadn't gone very far when I heard footsteps on the stone floor, and a man and woman marched out of the shadows to intercept us.

  They both had short gray hair and black military-style uniforms with red trim. The woman had a wispy mustache, and the guy was clean-shaven, which seemed kind of backward to me. They both walked stiffly, like they had broomsticks taped to their spines.

  "Well?" the woman demanded. "What are you doing here?"

  "Um…" I realized I hadn't planned for this. I'd been so focused on getting to Grover and finding out what was wrong, I hadn't considered that someone might question three kids sneaking into the school at night. We hadn't talked at all in the car about how we would get inside. I said, "Ma'am, we're just—"

  "Ha!" the man snapped, which made me jump. "Visitors are not allowed at the dance! You shall be eee-jected!"

  He had an accent—French, maybe. He pronounced his J like in Jacques, He was tall, with a hawkish face. His nostrils flared when he spoke, which made it really hard not to stare up his nose, and his eyes were two different colors—one brown, one blue—like an alley cat's.

  I figured he was about to toss us into the snow, but then Thalia stepped forward and did something very weird.

  She snapped her fingers. The sound was sharp and loud. Maybe it was just my imagination, but I felt a gust of wind ripple out from her hand, across the room. It washed over all of us, making the banners rustle on the walls.

  "Oh, but we're not visitors, sir," Thalia said. "We go to school here. You remember: I'm Thalia. And this is Annabeth and Percy. We're in the eighth grade."

  The male teacher narrowed his two-colored eyes. I didn't know what Thalia was thinking. Now we'd probably get punished for lying and thrown into the snow. But the man seemed to be hesitating.

  He looked at his colleague. "Ms. Gottschalk, do you know these students?"

  Despite the danger we were in, I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing. A teacher named Got Chalk? He had to be kidding.

  The woman blinked, like someone had just woken her up from a trance. "I… yes. I believe I do, sir." She frowned at us. "Annabeth. Thalia. Percy. What are you doing away from the gymnasium?"

  Before we could answer, I heard more footsteps, and Grover ran up, breathless. "You made it! You—"

  He stopped short when he saw the teachers. "Oh, Mrs. Gottschalk. Dr. Thorn! I, uh—"

  "What is it, Mr. Underwood?" said the man. His tone made it clear that he detested Grover. "What do you mean, they made it? These students live here."

  Grover swallowed. "Yes, sir. Of course, Dr. Thorn. I just meant, I'm so glad they made… the punch for the dance! The punch is great. And they made it!"

  Dr. Thorn glared at us. I decided one of his eyes