Riddle Me This Lass
Previously on Percy Jackson & The Olympians : The Sea Of Monsters . . .
Thalia's tree, the magical border of Camp Half-Blood, has been poisoned. This has broken down the barriers that keep out monsters from entering Camp Half-Blood. Chiron has been blamed for the poisoning. The only thing able to rid the tree of its poison is the Golden Fleece, which is located on the island of Polyphemus, in the Sea of Monsters, also known by mortals as the Bermuda Triangle. However, Clarisse is given the quest to go to the Sea of Monsters to find the Golden Fleece.
So Percy, Annabeth, and Tyson sneak off to start their own quest, not just for the Golden Fleece, but for their friend Grover Underwood, who is trapped in Polyphemus' cave.
Currently they have managed to board the Princess Andromeda, which is a staging point for Luke and his forces . . .
Despite being mortal danger, Percy could help being impressed by beauty of the room. It had huge curved windows that offered a wonderful view of the ship's stern and the blue green ocean in the distance. A Persian rug, probably hand made, matched the two plush sofas and the canopy bed in the corner. The canopy bed frame was a perfect match of the table which was piled high with roast beef sandwiches, bottles of soda, and stacks of pizza boxes. The only thing that felt off was the golden sarcophagus that had intrucite engravings that depicted burning cities and warriors dying horrible deaths. He did his best to ignore it, but it kept drawing his attention. So much so he had ignored everything Luke and Annabeth said.
"I didn't dishonor her!" Luke snapped. "The gods dishonored her, Annabeth! If Thalia were alive, she'd be on my side."
"Liar!" Annabeth snapped back.
"If you knew what was coming, You'd understand - - -"
"I understand you want to destroy the camp!" she yelled. "You're insane!"
Suddenly the doors flew open as voice said in a thick irish brogue. "And just what's wrong with that?"
Agrius and Oreius leveled their javelins at the new intruder before rolling their eyes and returning them to Percy, Annabeth, and Tyson. Luke grew an annoyed look on his face as he saw it was him. He might be valuable, but there were times when Luke wished he hadn't allowed him on the ship. Luke made a reluctant gesture for him to he walked up Percy, Annabeth, and Tyson got a good look of him. He looked to be fifteen or sixteen, though with an apparent lack of muscle he could've passed for younger.
His skin was pale white, almost as if he avoided the sun. The only thing on his face were a pair of cheap sunglasses and freckles spread around his nose. He had long dark red hair tied into a pony tail which matched his thin goatee. His clothes were similar to Luke's, though not as villainous. He wore a similar button down shirt and wore jeans and boots instead of khakis and loafers. As he walked past, Percy saw a similar tooth necklace around his neck with delicate silver ring strung along with it. Percy knew whom that necklace and ring belonged to. It was the same person Apollonia said had disappeared over three days ago and whom she couldn't get an Iris message to.
"That necklace!" Percy exclaimed. "And that ring! Those are Artie's!"
The newcomer jabbed a thumb behind him to Percy and asked Luke, "Who's this? 'Nother group of knackers hoping fer a handout? If so, it's gonna be a real kick in the bollocks fer them."
"No, Arnold." said Luke impatiently. "This is Percy and Annabeth."
"Yer mean tha chinslers that returned tha master bolt last year?" asked Arnold.
"Unfortunately." sneered Luke.
Arnold gave Percy and Annabeth a quick once over, though he seemed to focus on Percy. "Gotta say, He don't look like much."
"And just who are you?" demanded Annabeth.
Arnold turned his attention to Annabeth, but spoke to Luke. "This wouldn't be tha bleedin' deadly Annabeth I've heard so much about?" Then smiled a wry smile. "I hope yer plan on droppin' yer bird for this new chick? Otherwise yer more of a chancer than I first t'aut."
Percy cocked his head. "What now?"
Annabeth stared daggers at Arnold. "I asked who are you?"
Arnold look disappointed as if Annabeth had missed something. "Let's see just how smart yer really are lass." Arnold scratched his chin as he thought. "I can be cracked and I can be made. I can be told and I can be played."
"I'm lost." said Percy.
" 'Bout as sharp as a beach ball." Arnold commented.
"Arnold here has a thing for riddles." Luke explained distastefully.
"Me da used to say life is full of unanswered questions, But I prefer to think of them as riddles." He turned to Annabeth. "Solve it lass and I'll give yer me name."
Annabeth frowned as she thought about it. "A joke."
"Bang on!" Arnold exclaimed giving Annabeth a slow clap.
Percy turned to Annabeth. "Wanna explain that to me?"
Annabeth rolled her eyes, but said. "You can crack a joke which also means to make a joke. You can tell a joke and play a joke on someone." Annabeth turned to Arnold. "You got your answer. So give me your name."
Arnold made a theatrical bow, "The name's Arnold Benedict. Though yer can call me Arnie, all the ladies do."
Annabeth's eyes grew wide as if the name meant something to her, but Percy was concern where Arnold had acquired necklace. Namely the tooth and ring hanging on it. "Where'd you get necklace Arnie?"
Arnold looked down and held it up for everyone to see. "This little bauble? Some dodgy bloke was snooping around. Bathering on to hisself about sending word to some camp up north. Well, lets just say we went fer a swim and he didn't come back."
Percy balled his fist and gritted his teeth, "What do you mean he didn't come back?"
"Do I need to spell it fer ya boyo?" Arnold demanded. "From what Luke here has told me about 'im, I think he'd be happy. He's finally sleeping wit the fishes."
Annabeth narrowed her eyes as if trying to see past Arnie's smug grin. Even as Luke began speaking again, her eyes did not leave Irish punk who sat on the couch and ate a sandwich off the platter with his feet propped on the table.
Luke eyed Tyson with obvious distaste. "So its true, Poseidon really did claim him." Luke smiled at Percy's surprised face. "Yeah, I know about that. I also know about your plan to find the Fleece. What were those numbers again . . . 30, 31, 75, 12? You see I still have friends at camp that keep me posted."
"Spies, you mean." Percy corrected.
"How many insults from your father can you stand?" Luke demanded. "You think he cares for you anymore than he does for this monster?" Luke just chuckled at Tyson's growling. "The gods are so using you Percy. Do you know whats in store for you when you reach your sixteenth birthday? Has Chiron even told you the prophecy?"
"I know all I need to know." Percy managed. "Like who my enemies are."
"Then you're a fool."
"I'll say." added Arnold. "Reminds me of a flick I saw just last night. 'I was laughing me cacks off when he said 'Only two things are infinite. The universe and human stupidity, and I'm not so sure about the universe.' "
Tyson smashed the nearest chair to splinters. "Percy is not a fool!"
Before Percy could stop him, Tyson charged Luke. He raised his fist to deliver an overhead blow that would have left holes in the hull of the ship, but the bear twins intercepted him. They each caught an arm and push him back. Tyson stumbled and the whole room shook with force as he slipped on the carpet.
"Too bad Cyclops." Luke said. "Looks like my grizzly friends are more than a match for your strength. Maybe I should let them - - -"
Percy cut in, "Luke! Listen to me. Your father sent us."
Arnold winced at Luke's face at the mention of his father, "Not yer best move mate."
Luke managed four words, "Don't - even - mention - him."
Percy continued, "He told us to get on this ship. I thought it was for a ride, but it was for you. He said he won't give up on you, no matter how angry you are."
"ANGRY?" Luke roared. "GIVE UP ON ME?"
"Boy just don't know when to quit." Arnold whispered to himself as he shook his head.
"He abandoned me Percy." Luke snapped. "I want Olympus destroyed brick by brick. You can tell Hermes it will happen too. Every time a half blood joins us HE - - -"
"Whoa! Back it up there boyo." Arnold cut in as he leapt to his feet.
Luke wheeled to face him. "WHAT!"
Arnold raised an eyebrow as if he was just seeing how Luke could go off the rails. "Ye need to calm down, before yer regret it."
Now it was Luke turn to raise an eyebrow, "is that a threat Arnold? You're not having second thoughts are you?"
Arnold kept a straight face, but his tone was cold and calm. "Let me give yer a shillin' s worth of free advice, never give an Irishman a good cause fer revenge. Me point was, unless yer off your nut, ye don't want these tossers knowing every little detail of tha plan."
Luke seemed to calm down and eyed Annabeth out of the corner of his vision. "Alright . . . good point." Luke turned to Oreius. "It's time to feed the drakon. Take these fools below and show them how it's done."
Oreius grinned stupidly, "Hehe Hehe."
Agrius began to complain. "Let me go too. My brother is worthless. That cyclops is - - -"
"Oh I wouldn't worry 'bout 'im" pointed out Arnold as took a fire axe hanging next to a fire extinguisher. "Any problems and . . . " he spun the axe in hands. "Well, 'ere's Johnny!"
Luke seemed reluctant, but nodded. "Fine. Don't fail me you two. Make sure you stay in the hold and see the drakon is properly feed."
Arnold rested the axe on his shoulder, "Was plannin' on it anyway. After Dublin took that row from Manchester laying down on the pitch yesterday, I need something ta get me mind off it."
Oreius prodded the stowaways with his javelin and herded them out of the stateroom, followed by Arnold who kept the fire axe at the ready. As they walked with Oreius 's javelin poking him the back, Percy thought back to what Luke had said. The bears twins were only a match for Tyson's strength if they were together, but Luke had only ordered Oreius to guard them. Percy was busy thinking of how much time they had before they reached an elevator and were taken below deck, when Arnold struck up a conversation.
"Oy Oreius." he called.
"Yeah?" asked Oreius sounding rather annoyed.
"Riddle me this," Arnold began. "What did the bear say when the hunter put him ta sleep?"
Oreius scratched his chin with his free hand, "Um . . . don't know. What?"
"Let's find out!"
Quick as lighting, Arnold swung the axe to his left as hard as he could. Since the axe was made of common steel, it would not destroy Oreius. It would however knock him unconscious with a loud crunch. Oreius did not even have time to groan in pain as he collapsed like sack of potatoes. Percy quickly scrambled for the javelin and Tyson the axe as Arnold busied himself dragging Oreius into a broom closet and bracing it with a chair. The second Arnold turned around, Percy held the javelin to his throat and Tyson hefted the axe overhead.
Annabeth quickly jumped in front of him. "Stop!"
Percy looked confused. "But he - - - "
"Is helping you escape?" offered Arnold. "How rude of me."
"He's not who you think he is." said Annabeth. "He's - - -"
"Look I'd love to sit here and discuss the paradox of identity." Arnold motioned to the broom closet. "But little bear in there is gonna be waking up soon with craving for half bloods. And I'd like to be as far as I can be."
"Can you lead us to the lifeboats?" asked Annabeth.
"More than happy too. " said Arnold. "Once your entourage backs off."
Percy and Tyson lowered their weapons and motioned for Arnold to led the way. They made it down a few corridors without incident when an alarm began blaring. Instantly they could here the sound of monsters and half blood running and yelling, trying to find out what was going on. Percy and the rest decided to give up on sneaking their way to the life boats and starting running. As they ran, Arnold seemed to stay ahead with almost no effort, in fact it seemed as he was holding back. Percy noticed, only for a second discovery to come to mind.
Arnold had dropped his accent the second Oreius was out cold.
At the end of the corridor was a lifeboat. Unfortunately it was guarded by a half blood in full body armor. Before Percy could draw Riptide and charge, Arnold pulled ahead and slid into his feet. Arnold succeeded in sending the half blood to the ground, but he succeeded also in slamming his head against the bottom rung of the railing before tumbling below into the sea with a distant splash. The noise also achived in aquiring the attention of the rest of the ship. Percy, Annabeth and Tyson quickly hopped into the lifeboat.
"Hold on!" yelled Percy as a volley of arrows just passed overhead. Percy cut the ropes and sent thier lifeboat into a free fall towards the ocean.
The second thier boat landed with a giant splash, Percy yelled, "Thermos!"
Annabeth looked at him like he was crazy. "What?"
Tyson instantly understood and began digging around his yellow duffel bag. "I got it."
While Tyson searched for the thermos, Annabeth looked around frantically as if searching for something. Her eyes grew wide. "Hold on!" Annabeth dived into the ocean.
Before Percy could so much as think of jumping in after her, she came up with Arnold out cold and watery blood running down his head. Percy helped haul Arnold aboard and then pulled Annabeth up. A volley of arrows and javelins sailed just over their heads. Percy looked up and saw several dozen giants and half blood ready for another volley. Tyson quickly handed Percy the thermos who gave the cap a quarter turn. Instantly they were propelled forward so hard they bounced twice like a skipping stone before they began to speed away like speedboat. Within second the Princess Andromeda was nothing but a speck on the horizon before it dipped below the ocean.
Once he felt they were relatively safe, Percy glanced back at Arnold. What he shocked him so much, he nearly dropped the thermos. Arnold's pale skin was beginning to run and drip onto the floor of the boat, leaving deep tan skin behind. It took a moment for Percy to realize Arnold was wearing make-up that was made to make him appear pale. He also saw that the blood dripping from his head, wasn't blood. The red liquid dripping from Arnold's hair was red hair dye. Percy was sure because Arnold's hair was becoming blacker and darker as the ocean mist drenched his head. It was only when Annabeth removed Arnold's sunglasses that Percy finally recognized Arnold.
"What was HE doing on that cruise ship?" Percy asked Annabeth. "Don't tell me he was helping Luke."
Annabeth shook her head. "I don't think so. He did help us escape, but we need to ask him when we get to land."
Tyson looked at the unconscious half blood laying next to Annabeth. "You know him?"
Percy looked again and this time he was sure. "Yeah big guy. That's Artie, son of Artemis. He used to be our friend."
"Used to be?"
Annabeth nodded. "We'll know for sure when he wakes up."