The house of hades, p.48
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       The House of Hades, p.48

         Part #4 of The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
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Page 48

 

  Calypso stared straight through the swirling face of Gaea, all the way to the horizon.

  Yes, Gaea murmured sympathetically. The Olympians are faithless. They do not give second chances. Why do you hold out hope? You supported your father, Atlas, in his great war. You knew that the gods must be destroyed. Why do you hesitate now? I offer you a chance that Zeus would never give you.

  “Where were you these last three thousand years?” Calypso asked. “If you are so concerned with my fate, why do you visit me only now?”

  Gaea turned up her palms. The earth is slow to wake. War comes in its own time. But do not think it will pass you by on Ogygia. When I remake the world, this prison will be destroyed as well.

  “Ogygia destroyed?” Calypso shook her head, as if she couldn’t imagine those two words going together.

  You do not have to be here when that happens, Gaea promised. Join me now. Kill this boy. Spill his blood upon the earth, and help me to wake. I will free you and grant you any wish. Freedom. Revenge against the gods. Even a prize. Would you still have the demigod Percy Jackson? I will spare him for you. I will raise him from Tartarus. He will be yours to punish or to love, as you choose. Only kill this trespassing boy. Show your loyalty.

  Several scenarios went through Leo’s head—none of them good. He was positive Calypso would strangle him on the spot, or order her invisible wind servants to chop him into a Leo purée.

  Why wouldn’t she? Gaea was making her the ultimate deal—kill one annoying guy, get a handsome one free!

  Calypso thrust her hand toward Gaea in a three-fingered gesture Leo recognized from Camp Half-Blood: the Ancient Greek ward against evil. “This is not just my prison, Grandmother. It is my home. And you are the trespasser. ”

  The wind ripped Gaea’s form into nothingness, scattering the sand into the blue sky.

  Leo swallowed. “Uh, don’t take this the wrong way, but you didn’t kill me. Are you crazy?”

  Calypso’s eyes smoldered with anger, but for once Leo didn’t think the anger was aimed at him. “Your friends must need you, or else Gaea would not ask for your death. ”

  “I—uh, yeah. I guess. ”

  “Then we have work to do,” she said. “We must get you back to your ship. ”

  LEO THOUGHT HE’D BEEN BUSY BEFORE. When Calypso set her mind to something, she was a machine.

  Within a day, she’d gathered enough supplies for a weeklong voyage—food, flasks of water, herbal medicines from her garden. She wove a sail big enough for a small yacht and made enough rope for all the rigging.

  She got so much done that by the second day she asked Leo if he needed any help with his own project.

  He looked up from the circuit board that was slowly coming together. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were anxious to get rid of me. ”

  “That’s a bonus,” she admitted. She was dressed for work in a pair of jeans and a grubby white T-shirt. When he asked her about the wardrobe change, she claimed she had realized how practical these clothes were after making some for Leo.

  In the blue jeans, she didn’t look much like a goddess. Her T-shirt was covered with grass and dirt stains, like she’d just run through a swirling Gaea. Her feet were bare. Her cinnamon-toast hair was tied back, which made her almond eyes look even larger and more startling. Her hands were calloused and blistered from working with rope.

  Looking at her, Leo felt a tugging in his stomach that he couldn’t quite explain.

  “So?” she prompted.

  “So…what?”

  She nodded at the circuitry. “So can I help? How is it coming?”

  “Oh, uh, I’m good here. I guess. If I can wire this thing up to the boat, I should be able to navigate back to the world. ”

  “Now all you need is a boat. ”

  He tried to read her expression. He wasn’t sure if she was annoyed that he was still here, or wistful that she wasn’t leaving too. Then he looked at all the supplies she’d stacked up—easily enough for two people for several days.

  “What Gaea said…” He hesitated. “About you getting off this island. Would you want to try it?”

  She scowled. “What do you mean?”

  “Well…I’m not saying it would be fun having you along, always complaining and glaring at me and stuff. But I suppose I could stand it, if you wanted to try. ”

  Her expression softened just a little.

  “How noble,” she muttered. “But no, Leo. If I tried to come with you, your tiny chance of escape would be no chance at all. The gods have placed ancient magic on this island to keep me here. A hero can leave. I cannot. The most important thing is getting you free so you can stop Gaea. Not that I care what happens to you,” she added quickly. “But the world’s fate is at stake. ”

  “Why would you care about that?” he asked. “I mean, after being away from the world for so long?”

  She arched her eyebrows, as if surprised that he’d asked a sensible question. “I suppose I don’t like being told what to do—by Gaea or anyone else. As much as I hate the gods sometimes, over the past three millennia I’ve come to see that they’re better than the Titans. They’re definitely better than the giants. At least the gods kept in touch. Hermes has always been kind to me. And your father, Hephaestus, has often visited. He is a good person. ”

  Leo wasn’t sure what to make of her faraway tone. She almost sounded like she was pondering his worth, not his dad’s.

  She reached out and closed his mouth. He hadn’t realized it was hanging open.

  “Now,” Calypso said, “how can I help?”

  “Oh. ” He stared down at his project, but when he spoke, he blurted out an idea that had been forming ever since Calypso made his new clothes. “You know that flameproof cloth? You think you could make me a little bag of that fabric?”

  He described the dimensions. Calypso waved her hand impatiently. “That will only take minutes. Will it help on your quest?”

  “Yeah. It might save a life. And, um, could you chip off a little piece of crystal from your cave? I don’t need much. ”

  She frowned. “That’s an odd request. ”

  “Humor me. ”

  “All right. Consider it done. I’ll make the fireproof pouch tonight at the loom, when I’ve cleaned up. But what can I do now, while my hands are dirty?”

  She held up her calloused, grimy fingers. Leo couldn’t help thinking there was nothing hotter than a girl who didn’t mind getting her hands dirty. But of course, that was just a general comment. Didn’t apply to Calypso. Obviously.

  “Well,” he said, “you could twist some more bronze coils. But that’s kind of specialized—”

  She pushed in next to him on the bench and began to work, her hands braiding the bronze wiring faster than he could have. “Just like weaving,” she said. “This isn’t so hard. ”

  “Huh,” Leo said. “Well, if you ever get off this island and want a job, let me know. You’re not a total klutz. ”

  She smirked. “A job, eh? Making things in your forge?”

  “Nah, we could start our own shop,” Leo said, surprising himself. Starting a machine shop had always been one of his dreams, but he’d never told anyone about it. “Leo and Calypso’s Garage: Auto Repair and Mechanical Monsters. ”

  “Fresh fruits and vegetables,” Calypso offered.

  “Cider and stew,” Leo added. “We could even provide entertainment. You could sing and I could, like, randomly burst into flames. ”

  Calypso laughed—a clear, happy sound that made Leo’s heart go ka-bump.

  “See,” he said, “I’m funny. ”

  She managed to kill her smile. “You are not funny. Now, get back to work, or no cider and stew. ”

  “Yes, ma’am,” he said. They worked in silence, side by side, for the rest of the afternoon.

  Two nights later, the guidance console was finished.

  Leo and Calypso sat on the beach, near the spot where Le
o had destroyed the dining table, and they ate a picnic dinner together. The full moon turned the waves to silver. Their campfire sent orange sparks into the sky. Calypso wore a fresh white shirt and her jeans, which she’d apparently decided to live in.

  Behind them in the dunes, the supplies were carefully packed and ready to go.

  “All we need now is a boat,” Calypso said.

  Leo nodded. He tried not to linger on the word we. Calypso had made it clear she wasn’t going.

  “I can start chopping wood into boards tomorrow,” Leo said. “Few days, we’ll have enough for a small hull. ”

  “You’ve made a ship before,” Calypso remembered. “Your Argo II. ”

  Leo nodded. He thought about all those months he’d spent creating the Argo II. Somehow, making a boat to sail from Ogygia seemed like a more daunting task.

  “So how long until you sail?” Calypso’s tone was light, but she didn’t meet his eyes.

  “Uh, not sure. Another week?” For some reason, saying that made Leo feel less agitated. When he had gotten here, he couldn’t wait to leave. Now, he was glad he had a few more days. Weird.

  Calypso ran her fingers across the completed circuit board. “This took so long to make. ”

  “You can’t rush perfection. ”

  A smile tugged at the edge of her mouth. “Yes, but will it work?”

  “Getting out, no problem,” Leo said. “But to get back I’ll need Festus and—”

  “What?”

  Leo blinked. “Festus. My bronze dragon. Once I figure out how to rebuild him, I’ll—”

  “You told me about Festus,” Calypso said. “But what do you mean get back?”

  Leo grinned nervously. “Well…to get back here, duh. I’m sure I said that. ”

  “You most definitely did not. ”

  “I’m not gonna leave you here! After you helped me and everything? Of course I’m coming back. Once I rebuild Festus, he’ll be able to handle an improved guidance system. There’s this astrolabe that I, uh…” He stopped, deciding it was best not to mention that it had been built by one of Calypso’s old flames. “…that I found in Bologna. Anyway, I think with that crystal you gave me—”

  “You can’t come back,” Calypso insisted.

  Leo’s heart went clunk. “Because I’m not welcome?”

  “Because you can’t. It’s impossible. No man finds Ogygia twice. That is the rule. ”

  Leo rolled his eyes. “Yeah, well, you might’ve noticed I’m not good at following rules. I’m coming back here with my dragon, and we’ll spring you. Take you wherever you want to go. It’s only fair. ”

  “Fair…” Calypso’s voice was barely audible.

  In the firelight, her eyes looked so sad, Leo couldn’t stand it. Did she think he was lying to her just to make her feel better? He considered it a given that he would come back and free her from this island. How could he not?

 
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