[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]
.But Artemis didn’t notice the woman’s stare.And she didn’t mince words.“So this outfit.This facade.This place.Explain.”“It’s Thalia.This is the place Zeus banished them to after the”—and here Apollo blushed slightly—“the engagement debacle.Athens, only it’s Athens, Georgia, in a country called the United States and in the future.I came down here to protect Thalia and her sisters from Hera’s tricks.Oh, and the Furies are here, too.”At the mention of the Furies, Artemis shivered and winced.“Exactly.So everything was going fine, well, relatively so; Thalia was even falling for me, well, Dylan, this mortal body I’m in.And then she told me she knew it was me and was ready to marry and that she’d meet me back home.I went home and was crushed when she didn’t appear.”Artemis furrowed her brow and shook her head as if to say what a fool her brother could be.“No, but it wasn’t Thalia.It was a Fury in disguise!”Artemis gasped in surprise.“I’m shocked you didn’t hear about this—it was all over Olympus, and the gossip rags were having a field day with my love life, or lack thereof.”“I’ve been hunting wild boar in Babylonia.And I manned a giant fleet of ships into Troy for the war effort—we faced three shiploads of pirates! But wait, I digress.Please continue.”“Yes, well, Thalia doesn’t know that Dylan is me, or at least I don’t think she does.Then I found out that Hera was giving her and Polly and Era one last chance before sending them to Tartarus.I had to come back here and warn the girls not to use magic because that was the rule, no magic.Only I was too late.They were off on a road trip with a mortal boy named Pocky.”Artemis raised an eyebrow.“They’re just friends.Anyway.The girls used magic, all right.I followed them, but I had no powers of my own to stop them because Zeus stripped me of my powers when I came back to earth.When I finally caught up to the girls, it was back here at their ‘home,’ and Hera had gotten to them first.I’m positive Hera has sent them to Hades.Tartarus for sure!”Now Artemis gasped loudly.“I can’t bear the thought of Thalia facing those witches on their own turf.She must be so frightened.”Artemis thought quickly in her practical way.“I don’t know quite what has happened to the girls.But I do know that Zeus and Hera are on a second honeymoon of sorts.I ran into Hermes on the moon.He said that Hera had whisked Zeus away on some god-awful Club Mediterranean vacation in quite a hurry.Perhaps she did it to distract him.But I don’t believe Zeus could save them even if he were aware.If Hera created this rule about the magic, she has the supreme right to punish them for breaking it.It’s Gods’ Laws.”“I fully understand that, really I do,” Apollo gushed.“But come now, Zeus would never let this happen.All eternity in Tartarus? Their punishment has gotten out of hand.Surely he must have the ultimate power to step in…if he knew.”“I don’t believe he does have the power, especially not beyond the twenty-four-hour limit—”“Yes!” Apollo interrupted.“That’s just it, Artemis! If there is anything I can do, I haven’t much time to do it!”Artemis considered, but only briefly.Then she spoke.“I don’t know what I can do for Thalia, but I do know I can get you out of this”—she looked around at the green lawns and quaint houses and finished—“this wretchedly boring place.Hang on.”Apollo squeezed his sister tight, and poof, they were gone.FIVEWe followed the Furies.How could we not? They had us surrounded.There were three paths leading away from the gates; we took the one on the right.Down a long maze that wound and wound around dark and dusty corners and fire pits and deep, dark holes that appeared to go nowhere…or somewhere really evil.We passed gory masks on the walls that cackled and hissed and several vats of fat and slimy slithering snakes.Everywhere we went, a ceremonious trumpet played as if to announce Their Highnesses’ presence*.“I thought there were giants in Tartarus,” I whispered to Era.“And where are all the souls of the dead?” She just glared at me with a pouty lip.You’re following us down our own secret way.You will not be seeing any others this day.Ugh, they were speaking in unison again.How annoying.What was it about this place that brought out the Furies’ most annoying qualities? Note to self: Never, ever speak in unison with Polly and Era.In fact, you will not see the others at all.There’ll be no one to talk to or answer your call.Oh, be careful to step over that puddle of blood,Or you may slip and fall and be covered in crud.But they told us this too late, after we had already put our feet down in the slippery red slime that suddenly, mysteriously appeared in front of us.I’m not sure it was really blood, but Era was thoroughly freaked out.We picked ourselves up only to slip and fall down again on top of each other.The Furies just cackled.My every muscle, my every tendon ached.My sisters and I were physically and emotionally exhausted.“Nice place you got here,” I said, trying to sound as insulting as possible.Polly kicked me.“Don’t taunt them,” she said in a whisper.Taunt all you want—it only makes us smile.Oh, look out, here comes the bile!And with that a huge rush of thick smelly gunk came flooding down from out of nowhere.It covered us from head to toe in slime.Era was crying now, hard and loud.Her wahhhs echoed against the walls.We were drenched with smelly goo.Our clothes were stuck to our skin.The Furies pressed us forward.It was difficult to walk.The slime added, easily, an extra fifteen pounds to every step.I just tried to pretend like it didn’t bother me.I couldn’t stand the idea of the Furies thinking they were getting the better of me.Bile, bile, smile, smile, hee, hee, hee, hee.We came upon a hallway with yet another three doors.The Furies were behind us, so I picked one and opened it myself, just to see.But there was nothing to see, just darkness.“Close that door, walk no more!” I slammed the door shut, not willing to get slimed again.And waited.The Furies then chanted in unison, three times: “Ugly, evil, smelly people,” and the same door opened.This time a bright light streamed out.It was hard to see, what with all the goop in our eyes.But after we’d entered, they opened wide all on their own.It was our home.We were back home, in Olympus! There was our gilded three-story-high staircase with engraved banisters.There was our vivid red carpet, six inches deep and as soft as a lamb’s coat.There were our sitting chairs covered in the finest turquoise silk and our piano made entirely of gold.And there, over the marble fireplace and behind the diamond chandelier, was the portrait of our mother, Mnemosyne.Daddy had painted it from his own memory, and while I had never forgotten it, it was as if I were seeing it for the very first time.When Hera had come into our lives, she had taken the painting down and hid it from us.Despite wanting to be strong in front of the Furies, my eyes welled up with tears.“Home! Home!” cried Era [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]