The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus Book 4)

BOOK: The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus Book 4)
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RICK RIORDAN

PUFFIN

Contents
 

I: Hazel

 

II: Hazel

 

III: Hazel

 

IV: Hazel

 

V: Annabeth

 

VI: Annabeth

 

VII: Annabeth

 

VIII: Annabeth

 

IX: Leo

 

X: Leo

 

XI: Leo

 

XII: Leo

 

XIII: Percy

 

XIV: Percy

 

XV: Percy

 

XVI: Percy

 

XVII: Frank

 

XVIII: Frank

 

XIX: Frank

 

XX: Frank

 

XXI: Annabeth

 

XXII: Annabeth

 

XXIII: Annabeth

 

XXIV: Annabeth

 

XXV: Hazel

 

XXVI: Hazel

 

XXVII: Hazel

 

XXVIII: Hazel

 

XXIX: Percy

 

XXX: Percy

 

XXXI: Percy

 

XXXII: Percy

 

XXXIII: Jason

 

XXXIV: Jason

 

XXXV: Jason

 

XXXVI: Jason

 

XXXVII: Annabeth

 

XXXVIII: Annabeth

 

XXXIX: Annabeth

 

XL: Annabeth

 

XLI: Piper

 

XLII: Piper

 

XLIII: Piper

 

XLIV: Piper

 

XLV: Percy

 

XLVI: Percy

 

XLVII: Percy

 

XLVIII: Percy

 

XLIX: Leo

 

L: Leo

 

LI: Leo

 

LII: Leo

 

LIII: Annabeth

 

LIV: Annabeth

 

LV: Annabeth

 

LVI: Annabeth

 

LVII: Jason

 

LVIII: Jason

 

LIX: Jason

 

LX: Jason

 

LXI: Percy

 

LXII: Percy

 

LXIII: Percy

 

LXIV: Percy

 

LXV: Frank

 

LXVI: Frank

 

LXVII: Frank

 

LXVIII: Frank

 

LXIX: Annabeth

 

LXX: Annabeth

 

LXXI: Annabeth

 

LXXII: Annabeth

 

LXXIII: Hazel

 

LXXIV: Hazel

 

LXXV: Hazel

 

LXXVI: Hazel

 

LXXVII: Percy

 

LXXVIII: Percy

 
Books by Rick Riordan
 

The Percy Jackson series:

PERCY JACKSON AND THE LIGHTNING THIEF

PERCY JACKSON AND THE SEA OF MONSTERS

PERCY JACKSON AND THE TITAN’S CURSE

PERCY JACKSON AND THE BATTLE OF THE LABYRINTH

PERCY JACKSON AND THE LAST OLYMPIAN

PERCY JACKSON: THE DEMIGOD FILES

For more about Percy Jackson, try:

PERCY JACKSON: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

The Heroes of Olympus series:

THE LOST HERO

THE SON OF NEPTUNE

THE MARK OF ATHENA

THE HOUSE OF HADES

HEROES OF OLYMPUS: THE DEMIGOD DIARIES

The Kane Chronicles series:

THE RED PYRAMID

THE THRONE OF FIRE

THE SERPENT’S SHADOW

For more about the Kane Chronicles, try:

THE KANE CHRONICLES: SURVIVAL GUIDE

A Carter Kane / Percy Jackson Adventure ebook:

THE SON OF SOBEK

www.rickriordanmythmaster.co.uk

To my wonderful readers:
Sorry about that last cliff-hanger.
Well, no, not really. HAHAHAHA.
But, seriously, I love you guys.

HAZEL
 

D
URING THE THIRD ATTACK
, Hazel almost ate a boulder. She was peering into the fog, wondering how it could be so difficult to fly across one stupid mountain range, when the ship’s alarm bells sounded.

‘Hard to port!’ Nico yelled from the foremast of the flying ship.

Back at the helm, Leo yanked the wheel. The
Argo II
veered left, its aerial oars slashing through the clouds like rows of knives.

Hazel made the mistake of looking over the rail. A dark spherical shape hurtled towards her. She thought,
Why is the moon coming at us?
Then she yelped and hit the deck. The huge rock passed so close overhead it blew her hair out of her face.

CRACK!

The foremast collapsed – sail, spars and Nico all crashing to the deck. The boulder, roughly the size of a pickup truck,
tumbled off into the fog like it had important business elsewhere.

‘Nico!’ Hazel scrambled over to him as Leo brought the ship level.

‘I’m fine,’ Nico muttered, kicking folds of canvas off his legs.

She helped him up, and they stumbled to the bow. Hazel peeked over more carefully this time. The clouds parted just long enough to reveal the top of the mountain below them: a spearhead of black rock jutting from mossy green slopes. Standing at the summit was a mountain god – one of the
numina montanum
, Jason had called them. Or
ourae
, in Greek. Whatever you called them, they were nasty.

Like the others they had faced, this one wore a simple white tunic over skin as rough and dark as basalt. He was about twenty feet tall and extremely muscular, with a flowing white beard, scraggly hair and a wild look in his eyes, like a crazy hermit. He bellowed something Hazel didn’t understand, but it obviously wasn’t welcoming. With his bare hands, he prised another chunk of rock from his mountain and began shaping it into a ball.

The scene disappeared in the fog, but when the mountain god bellowed again other
numina
answered in the distance, their voices echoing through the valleys.

‘Stupid rock gods!’ Leo yelled from the helm. ‘That’s the
third
time I’ve had to replace that mast! You think they grow on trees?’

Nico frowned. ‘Masts
are
from trees.’

‘That’s not the point!’ Leo snatched up one of his controls, rigged from a Nintendo Wii stick, and spun it in a circle. A few feet away, a trapdoor opened in the deck. A
Celestial bronze
cannon rose. Hazel just had time to cover her ears before it discharged into the sky, spraying a dozen metal spheres that trailed green fire. The spheres grew spikes in midair, like helicopter blades, and hurtled away into the fog.

A moment later, a series of explosions crackled across the mountains, followed by the outraged roars of mountain gods.

‘Ha!’ Leo yelled.

Unfortunately, Hazel guessed, judging from their last two encounters, Leo’s newest weapon had only annoyed the
numina
.

Another boulder whistled through the air off to their starboard side.

Nico yelled, ‘Get us out of here!’

Leo muttered some unflattering comments about
numina
, but he turned the wheel. The engines hummed. Magical rigging lashed itself tight, and the ship tacked to port. The
Argo II
picked up speed, retreating north-west, as they’d been doing for the past two days.

Hazel didn’t relax until they were out of the mountains. The fog cleared. Below them, morning sunlight illuminated the Italian countryside – rolling green hills and golden fields not too different from those in northern California. Hazel could almost imagine she was sailing home to Camp Jupiter.

The thought weighed on her chest. Camp Jupiter had only been her home for nine months, since Nico had brought her
back from the Underworld. But she missed it more than her birthplace of New Orleans, and
definitely
more than Alaska, where she’d died back in 1942.

She missed her bunk in the Fifth
Cohort
barracks
. She missed dinners in the mess hall, with wind spirits whisking platters through the air and
legionnaires
joking about the war games. She wanted to wander the streets of
New Rome
, holding hands with Frank Zhang. She wanted to experience just being a regular girl for once, with an actual sweet, caring boyfriend.

Most of all, she wanted to feel safe. She was tired of being scared and worried all the time.

She stood on the quarterdeck as Nico picked mast splinters out of his arms and Leo punched buttons on the ship’s console.

‘Well,
that
was sucktastic,’ Leo said. ‘Should I wake the others?’

Hazel was tempted to say yes, but the other crew members had taken the night shift and had earned their rest. They were exhausted from defending the ship. Every few hours, it seemed, some Roman monster had decided the
Argo II
looked like a tasty treat.

A few weeks ago, Hazel wouldn’t have believed that anyone could sleep through a
numina
attack, but now she imagined her friends were still snoring away belowdecks. Whenever
she
got a chance to crash, she slept like a coma patient.

‘They need rest,’ she said. ‘We’ll have to figure out another way on our own.’

‘Huh.’ Leo scowled at his monitor. In his tattered work shirt and grease-splattered jeans, he looked like he’d just lost a wrestling match with a locomotive.

Ever since their friends Percy and Annabeth had fallen into
Tartarus
, Leo had been working almost non-stop. He’d been acting angrier and even more driven than usual.

Hazel worried about him. But part of her was relieved by the change. Whenever Leo smiled and joked, he looked
too
much like Sammy, his great-grandfather … Hazel’s first boyfriend, back in 1942.

Ugh, why did her life have to be so complicated?

‘Another way,’ Leo muttered. ‘Do you see one?’

On his monitor glowed a map of Italy. The Apennine Mountains ran down the middle of the boot-shaped country. A green dot for the
Argo II
blinked on the western side of the range, a few hundred miles north of Rome. Their path should have been simple. They needed to get to a place called
Epirus
in Greece and find an old temple called the
House of Hades
(or
Pluto
, as the Romans called him; or as Hazel liked to think of him: the World’s Worst Absent Father).

To reach Epirus, all they had to do was go straight east – over the Apennines and across the Adriatic Sea. But it hadn’t worked out that way. Each time they tried to cross the spine of Italy, the mountain gods attacked.

For the past two days they’d skirted north, hoping to find a safe pass, with no luck. The
numina montanum
were sons of
Gaia
, Hazel’s least favourite goddess. That made them
very
determined enemies. The
Argo II
couldn’t fly high enough to
avoid their attacks and, even with all its defences, the ship couldn’t make it across the range without being smashed to pieces.

‘It’s our fault,’ Hazel said. ‘Nico’s and mine. The
numina
can sense us.’

She glanced at her half-brother. Since they’d rescued him from the giants, he’d started to regain his strength, but he was still painfully thin. His black shirt and jeans hung off his skeletal frame. Long dark hair framed his sunken eyes. His olive complexion had turned a sickly greenish white, like the colour of tree sap.

In human years, he was barely fourteen, just a year older than Hazel, but that didn’t tell the whole story. Like Hazel, Nico di Angelo was a demigod from another era. He radiated a kind of
old
energy – a melancholy that came from knowing he didn’t belong in the modern world.

Hazel hadn’t known him very long, but she understood, even shared, his sadness. The children of Hades (Pluto – whichever) rarely had happy lives. And, judging from what Nico had told her the night before, their biggest challenge was yet to come when they reached the House of Hades – a challenge he’d implored her to keep secret from the others.

Nico gripped the hilt of his
Stygian iron
sword. ‘Earth spirits don’t like children of the Underworld. That’s true. We get under their skin –
literally
. But I think the
numina
could sense this ship anyway. We’re carrying the
Athena
Parthenos. That thing is like a magical beacon.’

Hazel shivered, thinking of the massive statue that took up most of the hold. They’d sacrificed so much saving it from
the cavern under Rome, but they had no idea what to do with it. So far the only thing it seemed to be good for was alerting more monsters to their presence.

Leo traced his finger down the map of Italy. ‘So crossing the mountains is out. Thing is they go a long way in either direction.’

‘We could go by sea,’ Hazel suggested. ‘Sail around the southern tip of Italy.’

‘That’s a long way,’ Nico said. ‘Plus, we don’t have …’ His voice cracked. ‘You know … our sea expert, Percy.’

The name hung in the air like an impending storm.

Percy Jackson, son of
Poseidon
 … probably the demigod Hazel admired most. He’d saved her life so many times on their quest to Alaska, but when he had needed Hazel’s help in Rome she’d failed him. She’d watched, powerless, as he and Annabeth had plunged into that pit.

Hazel took a deep breath. Percy and Annabeth were still alive. She knew that in her heart. She could
still
help them if she could get to the House of Hades, if she could survive the challenge Nico had warned her about …

‘What about continuing north?’ she asked. ‘There
has
to be a break in the mountains, or something.’

Leo fiddled with the bronze
Archimedes
sphere that he’d installed on the console – his newest and most dangerous toy. Every time Hazel looked at the thing, her mouth went dry. She worried that Leo would turn the wrong combination on the sphere and accidentally eject them all from the deck, or blow up the ship, or turn the
Argo II
into a giant toaster.

Fortunately, they got lucky. The sphere grew a camera lens and projected a 3-D image of the Apennine Mountains above the console.

‘I dunno.’ Leo examined the hologram. ‘I don’t see any good passes to the north. But I like that idea better than backtracking south. I’m done with Rome.’

No one argued with that. Rome had not been a good experience.

‘Whatever we do,’ Nico said, ‘we have to hurry. Every day that Annabeth and Percy are in Tartarus …’

He didn’t need to finish. They had to hope Percy and Annabeth could survive long enough to find the Tartarus side of the
Doors of Death
. Then, assuming the
Argo II
could reach the House of Hades, they
might
be able to open the Doors on the mortal side, save their friends and seal the entrance, stopping Gaia’s forces from being reincarnated in the mortal world over and over.

Yes … nothing could go wrong with
that
plan.

Nico scowled at the Italian countryside below them. ‘Maybe we
should
wake the others. This decision affects us all.’

‘No,’ Hazel said. ‘We can find a solution.’

She wasn’t sure why she felt so strongly about it, but since leaving Rome the crew had started to lose its cohesion. They’d been learning to work as a team. Then
bam
 … their two most important members had fallen into Tartarus. Percy had been their backbone. He’d given them confidence as they sailed across the Atlantic and into the Mediterranean. As for Annabeth – she’d been the de facto leader of the quest. She’d
recovered the
Athena Parthenos
single-handedly. She was the smartest of the seven, the one with the answers.

If Hazel woke up the rest of the crew every time they had a problem, they’d just start arguing again, feeling more and more hopeless.

She had to make Percy and Annabeth proud of her. She had to take the initiative. She couldn’t believe her only role in this quest would be what Nico had warned her about – removing the obstacle waiting for them in the House of Hades. She pushed the thought aside.

‘We need some creative thinking,’ she said. ‘Another way to cross those mountains, or a way to hide ourselves from the
numina
.’

Nico sighed. ‘If I was on my own, I could
shadow-travel
. But that won’t work for an entire ship. And, honestly, I’m not sure I have the strength to even transport
myself
any more.’

‘I could maybe rig some kind of camouflage,’ Leo said, ‘like a smoke screen to hide us in the clouds.’ He didn’t sound very enthusiastic.

Hazel stared down at the rolling farmland, thinking about what lay beneath it – the realm of her father, lord of the Underworld. She’d only met Pluto once, and she hadn’t even realized who he was. She certainly had never expected help from him – not when she was alive the first time, not during her time as a spirit in the Underworld, not since Nico had brought her back to the world of the living.

Her dad’s servant
Thanatos
, god of death, had suggested that Pluto might be doing Hazel a favour by ignoring her.
After all, she wasn’t supposed to be alive. If Pluto took notice of her, he might have to return her to the land of the dead.

Which meant calling on Pluto would be a very bad idea. And yet …

Please, Dad
,
she found herself praying.
I
have
to find a way to your temple in Greece – the House of Hades. If you’re down there, show me what to do.

At the edge of the horizon, a flicker of movement caught her eye – something small and beige racing across the fields at incredible speed, leaving a vapour trail like a plane’s.

Hazel couldn’t believe it. She didn’t dare hope, but it
had
to be … ‘
Arion
.’

‘What?’ Nico asked.

Leo let out a happy whoop as the dust cloud got closer. ‘It’s her horse, man! You missed that whole part. We haven’t seen him since Kansas!’

BOOK: The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus Book 4)
8.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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