It was hard to look back. The image was painful- police cars swarming around the hole that was closing itself up. The mortals thought it was a sinkhole, a completely natural thing. Everyone on the Argo II knew the horrifying truth.
That hole led straight to Tartarus- the deepest part of the Underworld where all the monsters and Titans went when they disintegrated. They never stayed there long; they would regenerate before coming back to their bodies to torture demigods again.
Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase had fallen through that hole. They had been holding hands when they plunged into the darkness. Annabeth’s blond hair was the last thing Jason saw of them.
Jason sat near the sails, the shadow from the sail shielding the harsh sun from his face. He was secretly trying to hide his face that was filled with anguish. He was hoping that his two friends were still alive, but his dreams usually never came true. Some birthday present this was.
Yeah, it was his birthday- his sixteenth birthday. He had almost drowned to death with Percy and Piper, and then he saw as two of his friends plunged to their deaths.
Maybe they’re alive, he thought hopefully.
The chances of survival were slim in Tartarus. Even Nico di Angelo, the son of Hades, barely survived.
The others on deck were silent, as if they were ghosts.
Coach Hedge stared at the ground, as if hoping Percy and Annabeth would suddenly appear, unharmed. He must have felt useless since he was the protector of this quest.
Piper sat across the deck, one shoulder stiff because it was sprained, the horn of the plenty in one hand, and Katoptris in the other.
Leo controlled the ship, his eyes straight ahead, his face crumpled in pain, and he kept muttering, “It’s my fault… the stupid fortune cookie.”
Hazel kept pacing on the deck, still looking like she had been strangled. She had seen the cobweb around Annabeth’s foot. And they were gone.
Frank was so anxious that he changed into different animals. He turned into an iguana, then a small dragon, and then a bear. He looked so… lost.
The newest was Nico di Angelo, who was busy sleeping in the shade of the sail a few feet away from Jason, still trying to heal after nearly dying.
After what seemed like an eternity, the Argo II hovered over the park where they had been before trying to get Annabeth, which turned out to be a horrible mistake since she was now gone, and they had the statue.
“Okay, listen here.” Coach Hedge took his cudgel and waved it at the demigods. His voice wasn’t as booming or cheerful as usual. “None of you will leave this ship. If any of you go missing, you will get hit into next week.” He pounded his cudgel on the ground. “Valdez, do you have the scrolls so we can make this ship better? We have a month, for crying out loud!” He scowled in Leo’s direction.
“I got the scrolls here,” Leo said meekly. He lifted one of the scrolls. He hadn’t really explained what the scrolls were- he just said they were important. “I’ll start right away.”
“You better.” Coach Hedge lowered his cudgel and looked around again.
As Leo ran below deck, Jason looked over at Hazel and Frank. “Do you two mind helping him? We need to get to Epirus as soon as we can.”
Hazel was a team player. She stopped pacing anxiously. Her golden eyes were like broken glass, shattered beyond repair. “I’ll go,” she said, nodding slightly. She eyed Nico, who was still sleeping soundly. “Can you watch Nico for me?”