The Titan's Curse

Cloak and Bath Towel

When the white cloaked and hooded figured that was Artie rejoined his friends, they all stopped mid conversation and gazed in both amazement and confusion. He had yet to look in mirror, but with the hood up all of Artie's face was hid behind shadow, save his lower lip and below.

"So, uh . . . new winter fashion?" guessed Grover.

"Its all the rage." asked Artie, doing his best not burst out laughing.

"Very Batman." said Thalia.

"Yeah, it really brings out your eyes." said Percy. "Or it would if you took off your sunglasses."

"I'll keep them on for now." Artie pulled the hood farther down. "From what Artemis said, I'm gonna need them."

"Plus," added Thalia. "We wouldn't the you - know - who's to see a certain family resemblance."

"But why did she give it to you?" asked Percy, low enough to avoid being heard. "I mean, if she hasn't told them yet, wouldn't she want to avoid drawing attention?"

She made it sound like a birthday present, but I think there's more to it. She can't honestly believe a cloak and a sword can buy me off. Artie thought to himself as he glanced at Artemis who was speaking with Bianca, "Your guess is a good as mine, Percy."

"And the sword?" asked Thalia.

"You mean this?" Artie drew the sword and handed it to Thalia. "She called it a Kopis."

"Its so light." Thalia said as he felt the weight. "I could swear this was a cheap plastic toy."

"That's moonsilver for ya." said Grover. Then he stole a glance at the Hunters. "Um, why are they staring at us."

Artie did not even bother looking, "They're probably wondering how I'm still able to use moonsilver."

"Why wouldn't you be able to use it?"

"There's another name for moonsilver." Artie explained. "Maidsilver. Maid, as in maiden."

"I don't get it." said Percy.

"There's a reason why everyone prefers to use bronze despite moonsilver being much lighter." Artie held up his ring. "Only a maiden can use it. Anyone who isn't, won't even be able to lift it."

"But your not a maiden." Thalia pointed out. "You're a boy."

"Your powers of observation continue to serve you well." Artie quoted V for Vendetta. "What did the word maiden used to mean back in ancient Greece, besides an unmarried girl."

"It meant . . . " Thalia's blushed. "Oh . . . I get it now."

"Maybe you can explain it?" asked Percy. "I'm still lost."

Artie whispered in Percy's ear, trying not to laugh at how bright red his cheeks had gotten. "Understand now? I can draw it in the snow for you."

"I'm good."

"Hey, Artie." said Grover. "How exactly did you get here? I mean, I know I accidentally sent you an iris message, but that was barely two days ago."

"I was luckily enough to catch a ride."

"What ride?" Percy asked.

"Yeah," said Thalia. "You caught a ride with us only a few miles away from Westover. How did you get from Miami all the way to Maine?"

Artie made sure Artemis was still occupied waiting for Apollo and reached into his pocket. "With this." Artie held out his hand and displayed a little metal figurine.

Percy glanced at it. "A toy motorcycle?"

Before Artie could answer, Tobias swooped down out of nowhere and plucked the figurine out Artie's palm. They watched as Tobias perched on Artemis's shoulder and dropped the little figurine in her palm. She switch her gaze between the piece of metal in her hand and Artie. She petted Tobias and walked over to Artie. Percy wasn't sure why a toy would upset Artemis, but he was glad she was eying Artie and not him.

Artemis held up the toy, "Where did you get this?"

Artie flashed Tobias a murderous look.

Artemis tossed the toy over her shoulder. As it fell to the ground the toy figurine began to grow and change colors. In a blink of an eye, a full size motorcycle appeared in the snow, its engine roaring to life before dying to a slight drone. Artie knew from who gave it to him that it was a 1985 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail, but it had been greatly modified. The entire thing was made to resemble the Ceryneian Hind, the sacred animal of Artemis. The head of hind formed the front of the frame, using its eyes for headlights and it's large golden antlers from the handlebars. Both sets of hooves looked as if it held the wheels, the front very far out, and were clearly made of bronze. The seat was made from pure deer hide, common deer not the Ceryneian, with a thin layer of hair still on the hide. And sitting on the seat was a helmet, made and painted so it mimicked a horse plume helmet often used by campers during Capture the Flag.

"I'll ask you again." said Artemis. "Where did you get this?"

Suddenly there was a flash of light followed by an intense heat, and unless their ears were playing tricks, they could hear lively music. Percy, Artie, Thalia, and everyone one but Artemis averted their eyes. Just as quickly, the light and heat died. They all looked and saw convertible red Maserati Spyder, sitting in a perfect circle of melted snow. The music continued to play as the driver got out of the car, danced out of car would be more precise. He looked to be about seventeen or eighteen with blonde sandy hair, a bright cocky smile, and outdoorsy good looks. He wore a pair of RayBan sunglasses, a white sleeveless T-shirt, blue jeans, and loafers.

Artemis instantly realized where Artie had acquired his two wheeled death machine, "Apollo, would you please expl — "

Apollo cut her off as he held up a hand and continued to dance, "Hold on, sis. I love this part."

Artie instantly knew what song was playing off the car's stereo system, not because he was fluent in 1960 music like his uncle, but because it was featured in one of his favorite films by Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction. He couldn't help tapping his foot to the song and neither could anyone else, save for Artemis and her Hunters.

They furnished off an apartment with a two room Roebuck sale

The coolerator was crammed with TV dinners and ginger ale,

But when Pierre found work, the little money comin' worked out well

"C'est la vie", say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

They had a hi-fi phono, boy, did they let it blast

Seven hundred little records, all rock, rhythm and jazz

But when the sun went down, the rapid tempo of the music fell

"C'est la vie", say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

Artemis grew tired of waiting and cut the music with a wave of her hand. Apollo continued dancing for half a moment when the song cut mid lyric. He looked at his sister with a slightly annoyed smile.

"You never were a fan of my boy Chuck." Apollo chuckled to himself. "What's up? You never call. You never write. I was getting worried."

Artemis sighed. "I'm fine, Apollo. Now would you please how this young underage demigod managed to acquire such a dangerous mode of transportation?"

Apollo lowered his sunglasses and gazed at Ceryneian Hind motorcycle, "If that's here, then that means he's . . ." Apollo set his gaze on the hooded demigod. He walked up to Artie and embraced him in a massive bear hug. "Artie! How's my favorite little sobrinho?"

Artie's response came out a little stuttered as Apollo shook him, "N-n-n-n-nice t-t-to s-s-see you t-to tio."

"So you did give it to him?" accused Artemis.

Apollo set Artie down. "Well, I was gonna wait till the twenty-first, but I figured it wouldn't hurt for him to have it a little early."

Artemis looked eager to be off. "I'll be mad about your ever growing idiocy later. Look, I need a favor. I have some hunting to do, alone, and I need you to take my companions to Camp Half Blood."

"Sure, sis" Apollo held up his hands in a hold everything gesture and cleared his throat. "I feel a haiku coming on."

Artie had smile as the Hunters groaned. He wasn't a fan of Apollo's poetry either, but if it made the Hunters unhappy then chances were it might be fun or entertaining for a moment or two.

Green grass breaks through snow,

Artemis pleads for my help,

I am so cool.

"That last line was only four syllables." Artemis pointed out.

Apollo cocked his head slightly, "Was it?"

"Yes. How about I am so big-headed?"

"No, no. That's six. Hmm." He then began muttering to himself as he thought.

Zoë turned to the demigods, "Lord Apollo has being going through this haiku phase ever since he visited japan. 'Tis not as bad as the time he visited Limmerick. If I had to hear one more poem that began with, There once was a goddess from Sparta —

"Any ideas, Artie?" Apollo asked with a smile.

"Uh, I am generous?" offered Artie.

"I love this kid. Nice to see my little girl is rubbing off on you." Apollo chuckled. "And now, sis. Transportation for the Hunters, you say? Good timing. I was about ready to roll."

"These demigods will also need a ride." Artemis motioned to Percy and his friends. "Some of Chiron's campers."

"No problem." he said and looked over at them. "Thalia, right? i heard all about you."

Thalia blushed. "Hi, Lord Apollo."

"Zeus's girl, yes? Makes you my half sister. Used to be a tree, didn't you? Glad you're back. I hate it when pretty girls get turned into trees. Man, I remember this one time — "

"Brother," said Artemis. "You should get going."

Apollo eyed Percy for a moment, but said. "Oh right, we'd better load up. Ride only goes one way — west, and if you miss it, you miss it."

"Cool car." said Nico

"Thanks kid."

"But how will we all fit?"

"Oh." Apollo looked at the car as if noticing the problem for the first time, "I'd hate to change out of sports car mode, but I guess . . ."

He fished out his key and hit the alarm. The car gave a high pitched, chirp-chirp, and began to glow brightly. When the light died down, the car was replace with a shuttle bus used often for school sporting events like basket and baseball games.

"Right!" he said. "Everybody in."

Zoë ordered the Hunters to being loading. She shouldered her pack and Apollo said, "Here, let me get that for you sweetheart."

Zoë recoiled at the word sweetheart, her eyes flashing murderously.

"Brother," Artemis chided. "You do not help my Hunters. You do not look at , talk to, or flirt with my Hunters. And you do not call them sweetheart."

Artie leaned in and whispered to his friends, "Its best to humor them when it comes to the whole men are 'pigs without manners' image they've worked so hard to maintain."

They all laughed quietly to themselves

Apollo spread his hands. "Sorry, I forgot. Hey sis, where you off to anyway?"

"Hunting" said Artemis. "It's none of your business."

"I'll find out. I see all. Know all."

Artemis snorted. "Just drop them off, Apollo. And no messing around.

"No, no. I never mess around."

Artemis rolled her eyes and looked to Zoë. "I will see you by winter solstice. Zoë, you are in charge of the Hunters. Do well. Do as I would do."

Zoë straightened. "Yes, my lady."

Artemis then knelt and examined the ground, much like Artie had before. When she rose, she looked troubled. "So much danger. The beast must be found." She then sprinted towards the forest, melting into the snow and shadows.

"So," Apollo turned around and grinned, jingling his car keys on his finger. "Who wants to drive?"

Artie held up a hand, "If its alright with you, I'd rather — "

"Sure, I'd join ya, but duty and all that." said Apollo.

Artie got on his motorcycle and slipped on his helmet. Percy had to admit to himself, he thought it was pretty cool that Artie had an uncle who though it was cool to give his nephew a motorcycle. Then again, Apollo never had a nephew before Artie and he wasn't sure what to do. Then another thought came to Percy, it could be that Apollo was simply trying to make up for, what Artie seemed to think, years of callous neglect on Artemis's part.

Apollo sighed and laid a hand on Percy's shoulder. "She sure is a beaut, ain't she? Took ol' Hephaestus a whole five minutes to design and build it. He called it the Ceryneian Davidson. The world's only solar powered all terrain bike."

"Solar powered?" Grover asked. "To stop pollution?"

"Well, it was so he can't drive at night." Apollo admitted. "Just because he can see in the dark doesn't mean everyone else can."

"Oh." Grover looked disappointed.

"Though I'm sure Hephaestus had that in mine too."

Artie kicked started the engine and revved it twice to warm it up, "See you back at camp."

"Remember," called out Apollo. "Hang a left when you reach Cape Cod and try avoid getting to close to any boats. Who knows what they'll see through the Mist."

"You will." said Artie with a chuckle.

Apollo smiled, "Okay, I will, but no need to end up on six o'clock news."

Artie flipped on the radio and a blast of deafening music came on. Several of the Hunters covered their ears along with the demigods, except for Thalia and Apollo who were the only fans of metal. Artie then kicked up the stand and sped off, sailing over the cliff side for a breif moment before he plummeted like a rock. Instantly the music began to fade. Still, it was loud enough to be heard as Artie fell to his death on the rocks and ocean below.

She's a ten, hellbent, I'm in heaven tonight

Six speed sex scene playin' out in my mind

One look, I'm hooked, motor runnin'

Rev'd up, my heart startin' pumpin'

Are you ready for the best damn ride of your life?

All but Apollo ran to the edge. What they saw astounded them. Artie was heading to the bottom of the cliff at increasing speed, but not like they expected him to. Not only was Artie riding at a ninety degree angle, but he was using the cliff wall as a road. All the while music continuing to blast loudly.

Gimme a hell, gimme a yeah

Stand up right now

And gimme a hell, gimme a yeah

Stand up right now,

Get ready to go, she ain't movin' slow,

She's takin' control, pushin' the pedal to the floor,

I'm beggin' for more, you better hold on tight

Then, when he was only twenty feet from bottom, Artie lifted the front of the bike and launched off the cliff. Even from their elevation they could hear Artie force the engine to max as he landed in the ocean with a massive splash. Percy was sure that Artie would sink like a rock and prepared himself to jump in after him, but Artie only briefly sank a few inches before riding off on the surface of the ocean, head due south towards New York and Long Island.

They all looked back at Apollo who looked as if he was doing his best not to burst out laughing, "I did say 'all terrain', didn't I? Come on, we're burning daylight."

One high flying thrill ride of what Apollo assured was a short drive later, but with Thalia at the wheel felt not short enough, the demigods and Hunters arrived at Camp Half Blood. Percy was surprised by what he saw since he had never seen camp during the winter. He always assume with the magical weather protection it would be warm and sunny, but a light snow had been allowed to gather on ground, covering everything from the strawberry fields to the chariot track. The cabins were also decorated with tiny flickering light, similar to Christmas lights, but were actually small balls of fire. Similar lights flickered in the woods and the Big House.

"Whoa," said Nico as he climbed off the bus. "Is that a climbing wall?"

"Yeah." said Percy.

"Why is lava pouring out of it?"

"A little extra challenge." explained Percy. "Come on, I'll introduce you to Chiron. Zoë, have you met — "

"I know Chiron." she said stiffly. "Tell him we will be in Cabin Eight. Hunters, follow me."

"I'll show you the way." said Grover.

"We know the way."

"Oh its no trouble — " Grover tripped over a canoe and came up still talking, "like my daddy goat used to say! Come on."

Zoë rolled her eyes, but Percy guessed she figured there was no getting rid of Grover. The Hunters shouldered their packs and bows and headed off towards the cabins. As they were leaving, Bianca whispered in her brother's ear. She seemed to be waiting for answer, but Nico just scowled and turned away.

"Take care sweethearts." Apollo called out to the Hunters. Then he turned to Percy and winked. "Watch out for those prophecies, Percy. And here, give this to Artie when you see him." He tossed a pair of jeans into his arms before addressing Thalia. "Later Thalia, and uh, be good."

He gave her a wicked smile which gave Percy the impression he knew something that they didn't. He revved the engine and disappeared in a flash of heat. When they looked back, the lake was steaming as a red Maserati soared over the woods. It continued to climb higher and higher and glow brighter and brighter until finally disappeared in a ray of sunshine.

"Who's Chiron?" asked Nico. "I don't have his figurine."

"Our activities director." said Percy. "He's . . . well, you'll see."

They all walked to the Big House and found Chiron playing a quiet game of cards in the parlor with Mr. D. Chiron's beard had grown shaggier for the winter. His curly had grown longer. Percy guess since he wasn't posing as a teacher, Chiron could be a little more casual than usual. He wore a fuzzy sweater with an impression of a hoof print on the front and a warm blanket over his false legs that almost hid the bottom half of his wheelchair.

Chiron smiled at them. "Percy! Thalia! Ah, this must be — "

"Nico Di Angelo," said Percy. "He and his sister are half bloods."

Chiron breathed a sigh of relief, "So you succeeded then?"

"Well . . ."

Chiron's smile melted, "What's wrong? And where is Annabeth?"

"Oh dear," said Mr. D, sounding bored. "Not another one lost."

Thalia looked at Mr. D, "Who else is — "

KER - ASH

Everyone in the room turned to the sound of glass shattering as something or someone barreled through the window. It looked to be a large deflated soccer ball, until one noticed it had limbs and a head. It was Artie wearing his cloak, and nothing else or at least that was everyone thought. It was only when he rushed to the window opposite he crashed, ignoring the piece of glass embedded in his shoulders and chest, that he wore a wet bath towel around his waist. Artie ignored the onlookers and opened the window before he slid back to other and crouching below the windowsill. He looked to everyone and held a finger to his lips.

No sooner than he did that, a Hunter peaked inside and saw the open window, "It was just a distraction! He only cut through! He's not inside!"

Several angry Hunters followed the first as they ran back to the woods, back tracking Artie's trail. Artie did not move a muscle, save for his noes that twitched when he sniffed the air to make sure his pursers were gone. He carefully pushed himself up and picked out the shards glass from his shoulder as he brought down the blinds on both windows.

He peaked through the blinds, "Afinal, i think that got them."

Chiron cleared his throat, "I see that the Hunters are here, but I think we can leave that issue aside for the moment."

"Quite." agreed Mr. D. "We have much more pressing matters. A demigod clad in a bath towel for example."

Percy tossed the jeans Apollo had given him to Artie, "Here. Apollo said to give them to you."

Artie turned his back, his cloak serving as curtain, and slipped into them. "Now, if I could sneak back and grab my quiver and a shirt, I'd be set."

"They found out?" asked Thalia. "Didn't they?"

(TEN MINUTES PREVIOUSLY)

Zoë and the rest of the Hunters were glad to be rid of that annoying satyr, Grover. Yes it required Phoebe smacking him, but Zoë wasn't sure even that would keep him away for long. As they walked, the few remaining campers stopped to stare and gawk. Zoë ignored them and the Hunters followed suit. They all walked in silence until Cabin Eight came into view. Zoë froze causing two of her sisters to bump into her.

"Why did you stop?" asked one of them.

Zoë looked up, "There is smoke coming from the chimney."

Bianca closed her eyes, "And there's music playing from inside. Jazz, I think."

"None but Hunters are permitted in cabin eight." Zoë set down her pack and readied her bow, the Hunters did the same. "Come, let us see who dares."

Without a word, the Hunters divided themselves into teams and entered the cabin silently. Zoë, Phoebe, and Bianca all waited until everyone had entered, in case the intruder should leave via window, and finally entered when a Hunter waved them in. Zoë and Bianca entered as Phoebe brought up the rear, walking backward should an ambush was sprung. Phoebe quietly closed the door and turned around. What she saw amazed her and the rest of the Hunters. It was still cabin eight, different bows and quivers from various time periods decorated the walls, along with several animal pelts and stuffed heads, but there were a few things different since their last visit. The air smelled of fresh exotic coffee and woodsmoke, courtesy of the old espresso machine sitting quietly in the corner and the roaring fire in the fireplace. Around the cabin was a three level shelf,stocked to brim with DVD's, wrapping itself around the entirety of the cabin's interior only the bottom portion breaking when it reached the top of the front door. Bianca had been correct about the music playing. The source was an old vinyl record player sitting on a night stand. The music was somewhat jazzy with an old feeling to it. Bianca could have sworn she had heard that voice somewhere before. It was clear that the singer was having a grand time singing, even it was clear he had just left for another man and Bianca imagined him charming all the women as he dwelled on it.

I guess I'll have to change my plan,

I should have realized there'd be another man.

I overlooked that point completely,

until the big affair began.

Before I knew where I was at,

I found myself upon a shelf and that was that.

I tried to reach the moon, but when I got there

All that i could get was the air.

My feet are now back upon the ground,

and i;ve lost the one girl I found.

Bianca picked up the record sleeve and saw it was a picture of a handsome man with blue eyes in a gray suit and hat, smiling with out a care in the world and a giant crowd behind. At the top was the name was Frank Sinatra, the man in picture Bianca guessed, and words A Swingin' Affair! on the bottom. She held up the sleeve to the rest of the Hunters. Zoë motioned for her to lift the needle, which she did. The second she did, a voice barked from the bathroom.

"Alright I get it, Tobias. We don't have much time before they arrive" said the voice, "I'm just about done."

Zoë motioned for everyone not to answer and aimed her bow, the rest following her lead.

"I'm starting think maybe you were right about a haircut." said intruder as he emerged from the bathroom. "I must have had to use half a bottle of shampoo to get all the blood out of my — "

Artie, with a bath towel around his waist and his neck, froze like a deer in headlights when he saw the Hunters. " . . . hair."

"Why am I not surprised?" said Zoë.

"Well, if you — " Artie stopped when an arrow flew by his head, nicking his ear, and buried itself in the wall.

"Phoebe," said Zoë. "Patience is a virtue."

Phoebe glared as Zoë who returned it, daring her to question her authority. The rest simply stared daggers at Artie who was busy trying to thinking of what say that wouldn't result in his instant death. None came to mind, so made a play for time and hopefully something that would even the odds a little.

"Well, I suppose we could just sit in this room and glare at each other until somebody drops dead," he said, his eyes glancing around his quiver. "but I have a better idea."

A Hunter with red hair, Emily he remembered her name to be, held up his quiver. "Looking for something?"

Caramba, Artie thought to himself. "Any chance we can discuss this rationally and, more importantly and i can't stress this enough, without weapons?"

An arrow split the first next to his head.

"Do thee have any last words?" asked Zoë.

An empty coffee mug caught Artie's attention and glanced at the espresso machine. "How about a cup of coffee? I was planning on having some once I got out of the shower."

Zoë eyed the espresso machine with suspicion, "Very well."

Artie carefully walked to expression machine, he grabbed his cloak and said, "Just took a hot shower, I feel cold."

"We can remedy that." said Zoë. "Hurry up with thy coffee."

Artie filled his mug with trembling fingers and sipped it, "Care to try some?"

Hostile silence and glares were his only answer.

"Are you sure?" he asked. "Its pure Brazilian. I have plenty. I keep a huge ten kilogram bag of the stuff right, HERE!"

Fast as lighting he kicked up the nearest bed, which served as the perfect impromptu shield for the Hunter's arrows. A second later, he tossed the mug over head and was rewarded with the yelps of Hunters being scalded with hot coffee. He used the distraction and ran across the cabin, diving out of the window as he thanked his luck it was open. He dissipated the force of the fall with roll and glanced back for a second. Three arrows seemed to sprout from the snow covered ground at his feet as he did. He saw three Hunters reaching more arrows when he bent down and threw snow in there faces. They dropped their bows as Artie took off north, heading and hoping to lose the world's greatest hunters in the forest, with only a cloak, his wits, and one damp bath towel.

(Presently)

Artie shook his head, "I didn't have the chance to tell them the good news."

"I will have to speak with them." said Chiron.

"Please do," said Mr. D. "and before we run out of windows."

That was when Grover trotted in, his face bruised and red from a slap. "The Hunters are moved in."

"Clearly." Chiron frowned. "Grover, why don't you take Nico and show him the orientation film."

"But . . . oh right, yes sir."

"Orientation film?" Nico asked. "Is it G or PG? 'Cause Bianca is kinda strict — "

"Its PG13." said Artie hastily as he walked to the unbroken window and peaked through the blinds.

"Cool!" exclaimed Nico.

It was then Grover noticed Artie peaking through the blinds.

He walked up to the window, "Did something happen? Why is there broken glass?"

Grover pulled down the blind when Thalia shouted, "Grover, no!"

In the blink of an eye, the blind shot up like rocket.

Artie turned and saw several Hunters switch from angry to absolutely furious when they saw him on the way back from the woods. "Grover, don't take this the wrong way, but," Artie glanced at Nico. " Às vezes você está bastardo maior idiota de merda, que eu já tive a má sorte de ter encontrado."

"What?" asked Nico. "Was that Spanish?"

"Portuguese." Artie corrected. "And what I just said was nowhere near PG13."

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