The Titan's Curse

By Artie Gallezi

Adventure

Speak Of The Devil

A week before winter break, Percy's mother packed him an over night bag ad a few deadly weapons and took him to a new boarding school. She made a slight detour to pick up his close friends, Thalia and Annabeth. Together, with Percy's mother driving, made the eight hour drive to Bay Harbor, Maine. With every mile farther and farther north, sleet and snow pounded their car and the road without mercy. This not only made the road slick and dangerous, but combined with the reason for the journey no one said word. Except for Ms. Jackson, she tended to talk whenever she was nervous. So much so, that Percy was actually considering jumping out of a moving car during heavy blizzard to save himself from dying of embarrassment. Thalia and Annabeth only heard every other word or so, but couldn't help giggling every now and then.

"I never knew you could get diaper rash without wearing diapers." Thalia smiled, trying to hold back a laugh.

Annabeth giggled. "Something new everyday. Eh, Percy?"

Percy buried his head in his hands. "Uhhh."

"Its a lot more common than you think." Ms. Jackson said matter of factly. "And it can be confused easily with poison ivy. I learned that when Percy managed to crawl into a whole bush of — "

"MOM!" Percy shouted. "THE ROAD!"

She responded like most people would, and slammed on the brakes. However the mixture of snow and sleet made the road slick and slippery, so it was not surprising that the car began to slide and spin. Percy caught of glimpse of something gray and furry in the car's headlight, but lost it as the car's spin picked up speed. The car spun with so much force, Percy was sure that if he or anyone else had not been wearing their seat belts, they would have been thrown head over heels out a window. The car only rotated once, but continued sliding several yards. Luckily, the car had lost enough momentum that when it neared a large pine tree, the upraised roots prevented it from slamming into the tree and potentially harm both the car and its occupants.

"Is everyone alright?" Percy asked.

"Uh . . . I think so." grunted Annabeth.

Ms. Jackson rubbed her forehead "I've been through worse. Just give me a minute."

Thalia rubbed her shoulder where the seat belt had dug in. As she did, she gazed out the window, "We might not have a minute. Look!"

Annabeth and Percy adjusted to get a better view. The faint glow of the car's headlights was limited by the blizzard, but there was no doubt. Several creatures were lurking just out of the reach of the headlights. They began to creep closer and the demigods were only somewhat relived. These were not monsters, though that didn't make them any less dangerous. As they creeped closer, the car's occupants saw more and more of the creatures. They all had long bushy tails that were tipped with tufts of black fur. Their coat were a mix of gray and brown with buffy facial markings and undersides that looked grizzled to the dirt that clung to it. They might have been mistaken for German Shepherds, but these were far to large. Even the smallest one had a body that was four feet long with a two foot long tail. They continued to creep closer and closer to car, their combined growling sounding like a group of motorcycle engines revving. Percy, Thalia, and Annabeth all saw that they were mad as the first few came into clear view, sharp canines bared that they allowed them to rip through their victims like paper.

"Are those . . ." Ms. Jackson's voiced trailed off.

"Wolves." Thalia answered.

"Gray wolves to be exact." added Annabeth. "A full pack by the looks of it."

"And they looked pretty steamed." Percy remarked.

"Well, we did nearly hit them with a car." said Thalia.

"But it was an accident." Ms. Jackson defended.

"We know that, but they don't." Annabeth looked out at the pack surrounding the car. "As far they know, we just attacked them and they're responding in kind."

"Ms. Jackson, start the car." Thalia ordered. "Get us out of here."

Percy watched as his mother turned the ignition with trembling fingers. The engine roared to life, causing the wolves closest to the car to jump back and snarl. Ms. Jackson floored the accelerator only to have the car lurch forward a few inches before falling back. The car was stuck in the snow and the wolves were beginning to approach again, although more slowly this time.

"What's wrong?" Percy asked.

"The car's stuck." said Ms. Jackson. "We should be able to get it moving if we all got and pushed, but . . ."

"Forget this." Thalia undid her seat belt and reached to open the door.

"Are you crazy?" Annabeth demanded. "There's got to be two dozen of them out there."

"You'll be eaten alive." Percy told her.

Thalia tapped her bracelet. "I'm just gonna scare 'em off. Once they're gone, we can get the car out of the snow."

"But — " Annabeth began to say

Her words were lost as Thalia slammed the car door behind her. Thalia took out a mace canister from her pocket and pushed the top of it. Instantly a six foot spear sprang from it and she gripped it tightly. She locked eyes with the wolves and reached to tap her bracelet and release her shield, Aegis.

"I wouldn't do that." said a calm voice behind her. "They're scared enough as it is."

Quick as she could, Thalia whipped around and saw the owner of the voice. He looked to be about sixteen with scrawny build that made him look taller than he was. He wore a pair of gray jeans that tucked into a pair large snow boots. He wore a dark tanned leather jacket over a black sweater. His hands were protected by handmade leather gloves with the fingers missing to allow the use of one's fingers. On his head was a coonskin cap, caked with snow and ice from the blizzard. Thalia could not make out the stranger's face since he was wearing a black ski mask like a bank robber and sunglasses to conceal his eyes.

Thalia hefted her spear. "Who are you?"

The stranger casually leaned a against a tree. "Who? Who is but the form following the function of what and what I am is a man in a mask. "

Thalia rolled her eyes, "I'm not blind. I can see that."

The stranger smiled. "Of course you can. I'm not questioning your powers of observation; I'm merely remarking upon the paradox of asking a masked man who he is. "

Thalia cocked her head. "Paradox?"

The stranger rubbed his chin as he thought, "But on this most auspicious of nights, permit me then, in lieu of the more commonplace sobriquet, to suggest the character of this dramatic persona."

Thalia tightened her grip on her spear. "Look buddy. Either to tell me who you are or you and your stupid sunglasses at night can take hike with your puppies."

"Very well." The stranger opened his arms dramatically like an actor on the stage. "Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished." He held up a finger and turned it into a fist as he spoke. "However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. "

"What are you talking about?" Thalia demanded.

The stranger held up two fingers, forming a 'V'. "A vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous." Then the stranger giggled and removed his cap as he bowed. "Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it's my very good honor to meet you and you may call me — "

"Artie!" shouted Annabeth. "Stop quoting V for Vendetta and call off the dogs!"

Thalia turned to see Annabeth and Percy step out of the car. Percy tightly clutched Riptide and Annabeth her knife. Several wolves snapped their jaws at the weapons and growled angrily at the demigods.

"Oh, yeah." said the stranger as he pulled off the ski mask. "Sorry about that." Artie snapped his fingers.

The wolves stopped growling and obediently sat down. Some of the younger ones trotted up to the demigods and sniffed thier legs. Several arranged themselves and formed a rough perimeter, in case something should attack. The rest simply watched Artie, should he make more commands.

"De todos os lugares a serem . . . " Artie rubbed his face. "Why did it have to be this far north? I'm not built for this weather."

Thalia adjusted her grip on her spear. "Someone wanna explain what in the name of Hades is going on here?"

"That's right you two haven't exactly met." said Annabeth, walking up to Thalia. "Artie, this is Thalia. Thalia, this is Artie."

"So this is famous daughter of Zeus." Artie extended a hand. "Prazer em conhecê-lo."

"You too, I think." Thalia collapsed her spear and shook Artie's hand. "So you're name is Artie. Short for Arthur?"

Artie shook his head. "Short for Artemis."

Thalia's eyes grew wide. "As in the Artemis? The goddess of the hunt?"

"Just the name, though I prefer just Artie."

"Well just Artie." said Percy. "Thanks to your new pets, we're stuck."

Ms. Jackson stepped out of the car, "Percy? Is it safe to — "

She yelped as wolf snapped at her and growled as it bared its teeth.

"Hey!" Artie shouted and leveled a finger. "Keep that up and she's gonna have a new coat."

The wolf pined as it backed up and joined the rest of the pack.

"Sorry about that." Artie apologized. "They aren't exactly trained."

"Do you think they could help us move the car?" Annabeth asked. "Like Percy said, we're stuck."

Artie whistled to the wolves, "You heard the lady."

Together, with several wolves, the demigods pushed the car out of the snow as Ms. Jackson floored the accelerator. It took a lot of pushing and shoving, but they eventually got the car back on the road. Ms. Jackson insisted that Artie ride with them. Artie dismissed the wolf pack after thanking them for their help and squeezed in the back with Thalia and Annabeth, grateful to get out of the cold.

Artie shook the snow of his long hair, "I don't get it. What's so fun about snow? I mean, who actually likes losing all feeling in their face?"

"Its not that bad." said Thalia. "I've seen colder."

"Artie isn't really used to cold." Annabeth explained.

Artie rubbed his hands together. "We didn't exactly ski back in Rio."

"Rio? You mean Rio De Janerio?" Thalia wondered. "Brazil's capital?"

"Technically the capital is Brasilia." Artie began digging around inside his jacket. "Rio is like the New York City of Brazil. Everyone knows about New York City, but the capital is Albany."

"What exactly are doing here?" Ms. Jackson asked. "I thought you were in Miami. With your girlfriend if I remember."

Artie pulled out a bag of cookies. "Grover called me."

Annabeth looked confused. "Grover asked you to come this far north?"

Artie shook his head, "No. He just wanted some advice. Most winter survival stuff. Edible plants, how to make fire using wet wood, finding shelter during a blizzard. That sort of thing. I figured I should come and help, in case he ran into trouble."

"No offense, but what could you tell him that he couldn't find out in a book or something." Thalia asked.

Artie seemed not take offense as he opened a bag of cookies, "If there's two things I know, its movies and survival. And I don't think Grover would have wasted a drachma to discuss the later half of Steven Spielberg's career."

"Get used to the movie references, Thalia." said Percy. "Artie seen enough movies that nothing he says is ever original."

"I try not to boast." Artie bit down on a cookie. "Cookie?"

Thalia took one, "Thanks."

Artie held out the bag, "Annabeth?"

"Those aren't cookies." said Annabeth. "They're cat biscuits."

Thalia paused, a questionable cookie an inch from her mouth. "What?"

Artie paused and looked at the bag, "You mean these aren't fish flavored cookies?"

"Look at the bag." Annabeth pointed at the bag.

Artie popped one his mouth. "I swear this dyslexia is a huge pain in the neck."

"There's a cartoon cat eating fish on the front." Percy pointed out.

"Well, coco puffs has a bird." Artie reached for another. "and yet I don't see people stuffing their bird feeders with the stuff."

"He's got a point there." said Percy.

"He's also still eating them." Thalia noticed.

Artie crumpled the now empty bag, "Seems kinda pointless to stop after I've eaten most of them on the way here. Plus I like fish."

An hour later they reached Westover Hall. Artie was surprised how much it looked like an evil knight's castle. It was made of all black stone, with towers and slit windows. All was missing was a huge stone wall and moat to keep possible marauding armies at bay. It sat on a snowy cliff side with a thick forest one side and the gray churning ocean on the other.

"Percy, are you sure you don't want me to wait?" Ms. Jackson asked, sounding concerned.

"No thanks, Mom." Percy assured. "We don't know how long we'll take."

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

"It's okay Ms. Jackson." assured Annabeth. "We'll keep him out of trouble."

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

"I could use a space heater." Artie said rubbing his hands together.

Thalia rolled her eyes at Artie. "Yes, Ms. Jackson. Thanks for the ride."

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

"Mom — "

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

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

Once out of sight of the car, Thalia said. "Your mom is so cool, Percy."

"She's pretty okay." Percy admitted. "What about you? You ever got in touch with your mom?"

Percy flinched at the look Thalia gave him. She was already adept in giving evil looks. And when combined with the puck clothes she always wore — the ripped up army jacket, black leather pants and chain jewelry, the black eye liner, and those intense blue eyes — the look she gave Percy would have been an 'Ten' easy.

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

"Shh!" hissed Artie.

"No!" Thalia protested. "He needs to — "

"Shh!" Artie hissed again. "Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make."

"Dracula, right?" Percy asked, rolling his eyes.

"The 1931 version." Artie answered. "Its faint with all this wind, but I definitely hear wolves."

"Friends of yours?" Annabeth offered.

"No, these sound different." Artie tilted his head. "More refined and in synch."

"What are they saying?" Annabeth asked.

Thalia looked confused "You can understand ani — "

"Shh!"

"If you shush me one more time I'll — "

"Shh!" hissed Percy.

Thalia shot him a look.

"You said if he did." he argued. "You didn't say anything about me."

Artie did his best to ignore them and hear over the wind. He closed his eyes and strained his ears. "It sound like a warning. I think they're saying, Beware . . . all those who hunt . . . the mistress and her pack . . . seek prey."

"Whats that supposed to mean?" Thalia asked.

"No idea." Artie answered.

"Could it mean Lycaon?" offered Annabeth. "The forest seems the perfect place for a pack of werewolves."

"We're about to enter what could be Dracula's castle and now there's a pack of werewolves." Percy sighed. "Should I call Frankenstein? I'd hate to leave the big guy out."

"No. I don't think they mean that. Lycaon is a man. Unless I heard wrong, they're warning against a woman." Artie chuckled. "And Frankenstein was the scientist, the monster was never given an actual name."

"I'll be sure to right that down." said Percy.

Artie looked out into the forest. "Best I stay out here. In case this mistress decides to drop by."

"That might be a good idea." Annabeth adjusted her coat. "In case we walk into a trap."

"Are you sure?" Thalia asked, looking somewhat concerned. "I mean, you have weapons right?"

A long bow sprung from the silver ring on his left ring finger. "You could say that."

"I guess I don't have to tell you that if you see this mistress or whatever, don't just jump in." Annabeth warned. "Try not to make things difficult."

"Well more than they already are." Percy added.

"I don't make things difficult." Artie assured. "That's the way they get, all by themselves."

"Lethal Weapon?" Thalia guessed.

Artie simply smiled and walked to the forest. They all watched as he was joined by Tobias, who dove from the sky and settled on Artie's shoulder. It was seconds later they lost Artie in the shadows of the forest, no doubt finding a good ambush spot high in the tree's thick foliage.

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

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

Percy looked up at the dark towers of Westover Hall. "Nothing good I bet."

Despite the bone chilling cold, Artie's mind was a million miles away. Truth be told, if Grover hadn't accidentally sent him an iris message instead of the real Artemis, he would looked for any excuse to go tramping through the wilderness. Upon returning from Circe's Isle, Artie had found himself unable to control himself emotionally and physically. He was beginning to think it was a mistake not to stay at Camp Half Blood year round. Within the first month of returning to Miami to live with Appolonia and her family, he had two examples that he was right. He had thrown a student that Appolonia was tutoring in Spanish out the kitchen window for trying to kiss her. He sent a purse snatcher to the emergency room when he made the mistake of picking Appolonia for a target as they walked along the beach. It wasn't the fact he did all these things that bothered, it was the fact he didn't feel the least bit guilty. In his mind, the kid that tried to kiss Appolonia knew that she was with him and still tried something, maybe that didn't warrant being thrown through a glass window but he refused to admit he was wrong when he knew he wasn't. The same with purse snatcher. He could have easily caught up with him and take the purse back and let the police handle it. But instead he caught him, broke his arm in three place when he tried to fight him off, and slammed him hard on the unforgiving concrete that gave him a major concussion and a couple broken ribs.

Appolonia grew evermore concerned with each incident and tried everything she could to help him curve his instincts. After two months of searching, only two things seemed to have an effect. A mixture of meditation and large amounts of food. Together they had noticed Artie was more himself after he had a full stomach. The problem was the huge amounts required to do so. He had to step up his weekly hunting trips into everglades, often making multiple trips in and out to bring his kills home. Appolonia had also suggested, annoyingly insisted he preferred to think, that he take up meditation. He found it surprisingly helpful and easy to do. He made a habit every night, or after any large meal, to sit on the tree stump in the backyard and simply empty his mind. Appolonia had taken out several medical journals on the subject and learned that meditation was used to increase calmness and physical relaxation, but more importantly for him, to improve psychological balance. That last part was crucial for Artie. The more controlled and relaxed he was, purse snatchers everywhere would sleep easier.

All this went through Artie's mind as he munched on the last of his rations, A piece of venison jerky the size of a t-rex steak and a thermos of luke warm coffee he kept at his belt. He found something stuck in his throat, and it wasn't the jerky. He had lied to his friends when he said he knew nothing of the mistress and her pack. He had learned she went by many names and mistress was simply what predatory animal called her. Her pack were simply the name the wolves gave to her followers. He tried to put it out of his mind as adjusted himself on a bough of the tree he was perched on so he wouldn't fall off. He crossed his legs and closed his eyes. He took deep calming breaths, the cold air stinging his lungs, and cleared his mind. Despite his best efforts, his mind kept coming back to the mistress and what that possibly meant for him and his friends, should she show herself to them.

He still remembered the day he first heard that name.

(ARTIE : AGE EIGHT - NEARLY EIGHT YEARS PREVIOUSLY )

He had been running for hours, half blinded by tears and the jungle's thick foliage. He didn't know which way he was running or even cared. All he wanted, was to put as much distance between him and Rio. He made no attempt to cover his tracks in the wet mud or payed attention to the noise he was making crashing through plants and snapping branches in his wake. It was near midnight, the moon and stars provided the only light, when a storm began to awake. The chilling rain only made it more difficult to see and combined with the thunder and lightning of the storm, panic once gain over took him. He looked back to see if IT had found him. He was so busy looking behind, searching for anything that indicate he was being pursued, an upraised root of a tree caught his foot and sent him splashing into the mud. He pushed himself up, coughing and spitting out that covered most of his front, on thick log. Then the log started move, or began to slither to be more exact. He heard a slight hiss and turned, finding himself face to face with a local of the jungle. This native had a tube like body that was eight feet long and several inches thick. Artie guessed it be an anaconda, but it was simply a full grown boa constrictor, not that made it any less dangerous. The boa opened its mouth revealing massive jaws lined with small, hooked teeth for grabbing and holding prey, and struck. He fell back, tripping over the boa's long body. He crawled backwards on his rear end as it closed in. The boa reared back as he felt something long and club like under his hand. He closed his eyes and swung the branch as hard he could. He felt it make contact and opened his eyes to see the boa shaking its head. He continue backing up till he came against a tree. He saw the boa was rearing back again to strike. He felt the boa connect with tree below him as he made a mad and desperate scramble to higher ground. He looked down to see the boa locked eyes with him and slither away. He watched it disappear into the forest and breathed a sigh of relief. That was when he felt something wrapping around his wrist. He looked up and saw a jaraca, a venomous viper native to southern Brazil. It hissed at him, brandishing its long need like fangs. Instinctively, he threw himself back to get away and forgetting he was ten feet off the ground. He plummeted and landed with a hard crash, the wet mud doing nearly nothing to cushion his landing.

He just laid where he landed, the storm beginning to swell, and cried.

He wanted to be back in his bed. He wanted to be safe. He wanted to be warm. But most of all, he wanted his mother. He knew he was being punished, and his family had paid for it. But he didn't know what exactly was being punished for. He was just an eight year old child. He hadn't killed anyone or anything. He didn't treat anyone badly or bullied anyone. The most he was guilty of was sneaking into the movie theater with his brother when they didn't have the money to properly buy tickets. His sobbing was interrupted by a loud splash by his head. He rolled the side and got to his feet. It was a small backpack. It was such a bright shade of silver, it almost seemed to glow in lack of light. He saw that it had a note pinned to it. With trembling fingers he snatched and unfolded the note. On it, written in bright silvery ink, were three simple words.

FOLLOW THE BIRD

A screech caused him to look north. Perched on a branch overlooking a mouth of a cave, was a hawk. Unless he was seeing things, the hawk seemed to be motioning for him to pick up th pack. He folded the note and carefully picked up the pack. The hawk screeched again, now motioning for him to enter the cave. He wasn't sure if he should obey or not, but it was the only option he had unless he wanted to stay out in the rain. He entered the cave, slowly should something be waiting for him. With each step the cave grew darker and darker. He wasn't sure what the hawk wanted him to do, then a thought came to him. He swung the pack dug through it until he felt something long tube like. He turned on the flashlight and looked around. It looked like what it was, a cave. There were patched of moss on parts of walls and water dripped from the stalactites overhead onto little patches of mushrooms. He swung the flashlight and saw a pair of jaguar cubs watching him with curiosity. The flashlight trembled in his hands. He knew enough that if these were the cubs, then thier mother couldn't be that far. He turned to leave when he froze like a statue.

No more than four inches from his face, was a full grown female jaguar. And judging by the growling and snarling, it was not happy to see him.

He screamed as it pounced, missing by hairsbreadth when he leaped forward. He scrambled to his feet as looked back at the jaguar snarling and readied itself to punce again. He bolted for the mouth of the cave, he could easily be killed by something else out in the jungle, but with an angered mother jaguar on your tail, best to take things one at a time as they came. He was five feet from the mouth when he was yanked back, the jaguar had caught his pack.

He slipped through the straps and kept running, screaming at the top of his lungs. "Ajuda! Ajuda! Alguém! Qualquer! Por — "

The cries for help were forced back in his mouth when he felt a giant weight slam him hard against the ground. He could feel razor sharp claws piercing both his shirt and skin. He could also hear deep growling and snarling a foot above his head. He struggled to breath, both from the weight on his back and the fact he was about to be eaten. He began to sob and whimper,pleading for help of any kind, when he felt its warm moist breath on the nape of his neck and the its teeth tickle the side of his head.

"Pare!" ordered a voice, or at least it seemed like voice. To Artie's ear it sounded like the screech of a hawk, but it sounded like voice in his head.

Artie, out of the corner of his eye, saw it was the hawk that lead him to the cave. Then something even stranger than a hawk talking happened, the jaguar began to speak. Again to his ear, it just sounded like growling and snarling, but he heard words in his head.

"This is my prey, bird." said the jaguar in perfect Portuguese.

"That boy is under the protection of the Mistress." the hawk told her, also in perfect Portuguese. "He is not to be harmed."

"You lie!" snarled the jaguar. "Her protection is only meant for her followers. This mancub is male."

"She has plans for this one." said the hawk. "Do you dare challenge her orders?"

The jaguar considered it for a moment, but said, "No. None may challenge her and her kind."

"Then release him."

The jaguar took her weight and flipped Artie over like rag doll. Instantly he began crawling back until his back hit the wall of the cave. Artie watched as the jaguar made its way to him, but rather than eat and kill him, she simply licked him and sniffed him. He wasn't sure what was happening, but knew enough he was being spared.

"You can understand me?" asked the giant cat.

Unable to form words, Artie nodded.

"Then you're not to leave this cave." she ordered. "Am I understood?"

"B-b-b-but — "

She bared her teeth and growled. "Am. I. Understood?"

He nodded again.

"Good." she huffed. "I must hunt. My cubs need to eat, especially now and I have another mouth to feed."

Artie watched her leave a disappear into the jungle, the sun just beginning to rise over the horizon , just as the storm began to cease. The hawk hopped forward until it was at his feet. Artie wasn't sure how, but this bird had saved his life.

"W-w-w-who are you?" he asked his savoir.

"The Mistress appointed me as your watcher." said the bird.

"Watcher?" he asked.

"Yes, I am to aid and guide where I can."

"Can you guide me home?"

"You are home."

"Here?"

"This has always been your home."

"Its not safe for me here. You saw what happened, whats to stop that from happening again? I belong with people. With my fam — " He stopped himself. "I don't belong here."

"It is far safer here for you than it is back in your old home. That creature that attacked you and your family will not give up in his pursuit for you."

"Why? What did I do?"

"Only the Mistress knows for certain. Since you can not go back, you are left with two choices. Either learn the ways of wild and survive or give up and wait for it to find and kill you."

"And you're here to teach me?"

"Yes, as well as her Mistress's other subjects."

"You keep saying that, Mistress. Who is she?"

"She the Hunter of all hunters. All her subjects, from the smallest rabbit to the mightiest bear, understand and obey her will as long they live in her domain."

"Can I see her?"

"If she deems it necessary or the will strikes her. Until then, you must wait."

"Well, since we're gonna be stuck together here for a while, can you tell me your name?"

"I am known to your kind as the Red Tailed Hawk. Other than that, I have no name."

"You mind If I call you Tobias?"

"Why Tobias?"

Artie shrugged, "I saw a hawk with the same name in a movie once."

Tobias seemed to smile, "Very well. Now I suggest you search that bag the Mistress saw fit to grant you. There should be some tools your kind tend to — "

Artie was jerked out of his trance as Tobias pinched him with his beak. Artie saw were Tobias was pointing. Four figures had passed under his tree and were walking deeper and deeper into the forest. He sniffed the air and immediately found Percy's scent, but not Annabeth's or Thalia's. What he found instead was two different scents. The first belonged to the figures next to Percy, a mixture of fear and rotting meat. The second . . .

He knew this scent . . . it belonged to . . .

Claws sprouted from Artie's hands, "Fale do diabo."

Tobias chirped a warning.

Artie shot him a look, "Not today, Tobias. I've waited too long. Screw the armor."

With that, he followed Percy and his captor. Silently leaping from tree to tree, he savored the suspense as he waited and bided his time until the perfect time to strike. One way or another, he would have his revenge.

A/N - I have certain chapters, like this one for example, already written which should explain why this update seems early. This means that time between updates will be a little off, instead of my usual one at the end of the week. Its mostly due to me jumping the gun a little and writing Titan's Curse during my 'breaks'. So basically, one certain chapter you could be waiting the usual week or only a day or two.

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