Summary: Annabeth's point of view during scenes in The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan. This chapter happens during pages 177-180, in which Annabeth's dressed up at C.C.'s Spa & Emporium, learns the truth about her host, and begins to break out of the place.
Disclaimer: Percy and the Olympians belong to Rick Riordan, Copyright 2006. Some phrases are reiterated from the original novel.
Dedication: To the 22 reviewers of the last chapter. You know who you are. I appreciate it. :D
The Grand Tour
It took less than twenty minutes for Hylla's assistants to bathe and clothe me. I now smelled of strawberries and cream, which I wasn't sure about, but they assured me was very alluring. The three of them worked quickly with my hair, drying it and braiding it with some strands of gold thread. Then, they sorted through more makeup than I'd ever seen outside of the Aphrodite cabin to find what suited "your complexion, dear," and, lastly, they exchanged my towel for a white shift and sandals that reminded me of ancient Greece.
I won't lie, I had fun. It was very relaxing, despite the pace. And the dress was made of silk. I didn't know if I'd ever worn a silk dress before.
After that, much to the distant amusement of Hylla, I asked to see the library. She was surprised that I didn't yet want to see the spa, but she complied readily.
It took a few minutes of leisurely strolling to get there, and once I stepped through the wide, open archway of an entrance, I was stunned.
"Wow…" I breathed. Really, there was no other word for it.
This library was the biggest I'd seen. The cleanest, too – it was bright and airy and not a book was out of place.
As I walked to the nearest bookcase, she followed. I ran my fingers across the leather spines. I was in the classics section, apparently, and my breath caught as I touched Homer's The Odyssey. The gold-embossed title was very old and perfectly preserved. I pulled it out and it opened almost of its own accord. I began to read the Ancient Greek…
"…sailed hence, always in much distress, till we came to the land of the lawless and inhuman Cyclopes. Now…"
My mind, under my perfectly styled hair, whirled all of a sudden, and a deep sadness settled upon me.
Tyson. Gods, Tyson. He didn't die so that I could relax at a spa. And, Grover! How could I have forgotten about him? Gods, our quest!
It's time to thank C.C. and leave, I think.
I had frozen, and Hylla must've noticed that something was wrong.
"Annabeth?" she asked politely.
I shelved the book quickly and spun to face her. "Thanks for your help, Hylla. This really is a beautiful place." Hylla looked confused. "I do have one question for C.C., though. Where did you say her office was?"
Of course, Hylla hadn't already told me where the office was, but at my request, she creased her brow and pointed. I gave her a sweet smile.
"Thanks. I'll see you, then." And I was off.
I ended up strolling there slowly. This just wasn't a place where one could walk busily without feeling odd. I checked over my shoulder to see if Hylla was following; if she was, I couldn't see her.
I wonder what Percy'll look like? Or what he'll think… I looked down at my simple dress and blushed.
Finally, I reached the building that held her office. After a few turns, I stopped near her door. I could hear faint voices inside, so I called, "Miss C.C.?"
She didn't answer, so I went on in.
Jackson wasn't in the room anymore, despite C.C.'s earlier claims that he needed her personal attention. I frowned. "Where's Percy?"
As if to offset my frown, C.C. smiled widely. "He's having one of our treatments, my dear. Not to worry. You look wonderful! What did you think of your tour?"
My thoughts returned to the library at the sound of her voice. Omitting the fact that I'd skipped the rest of the tour, I exclaimed, "Your library is amazing!"
"Yes, indeed. The best knowledge of the past three millennia. Anything you want to study, anything you want to be, my dear."
Her voice was gorgeous, but it made my stomach turn. "An architect?" I asked, some part of me bothered.
"Pah!" C.C. said. "You, my dear, have the makings of a sorceress. Like me."
The bothered part of me turned into alarm and gained strength. "A sorceress?"
"Yes, my dear." C.C. held up her hand with a flourish and flame started to dance across her fingertips. "My mother is Hecate, the goddess of magic. I know a daughter of Athena when I see one. We are not so different, you and I. We both seek knowledge. We both admire greatness. Neither of us needs to stand in the shadow of men."
My face showed fright. "I – I don't understand."
Behind her, something squeaked. Loudly. I didn't bother to look.
"Stay with me. Study with me," C.C. wheedled. It made my head spin. "You can join our staff, become a sorceress, learn to bend others to your will. You will become immortal!"
"You are too intelligent, my dear." Tyson's dead.
"You know better than to trust that silly camp for heroes." Grover needs my help.
"How many great female half-blood heroes can you name?"
Thrown off, I answered, "Um, Atalanta, Amelia Earhart–"
"Bah! Men get all the glory!" C.C. clenched her fist, smothering the flame. "The only way to power for women is sorcery. Medea, Calypso, now there were powerful women! And me, of course. The greatest of all."
"You… C.C. …" I stuttered, "Circe!"
"Yes, my dear."
I backed up slowly, and Circe laughed. "You need not worry. I mean you no harm."
Her last sentence wasn't lost on me. She turned Odysseus' crewmen into pigs because she hated men – in the Odyssey, ironically enough. Thus, she meant harm to my GPS system.
"What have you done to Percy?" I demanded.
"Only helped him realize his true form," she said smugly, condescendingly.
I scanned the room, my stomach decidedly sick. My eyes widened at the cage of guinea pigs. Guinea pigs? It was to my credit that I was filled only with worry for Percy, not with even the smallest laugh.
"Forget him," C.C. said, confirming my suspicions. "Join me and learn the ways of sorcery."
"But–" I tried again.
"Your friend will be well cared for. He'll be shipped to a wonderful new home on the mainland. The kindergartners will adore him. Meanwhile, you will be wise and powerful. You will have all you ever wanted."
I let my face fall slack. I hadn't known that I could act, but I was sure glad to discover that skill. Percy – the agitated one must be Percy, I thought – squealed louder, if that was possible.
"Let me think about it," I murmured. "Just… Give me a moment alone. To say goodbye."
"Of course, my dear. One minute. Oh…and so you'll have absolute privacy…" Circe, talking like I was a first-grader, waved her hand and iron bars slammed down over the windows. She swept out of the room and the door locked behind her with several clicks.
I was going to break Percy and I out of here, I thought to myself determinedly as I darted towards Percy's cage. Once I figured which guinea pig was him, as they were all squealing now…
"All right, which one is you?" I asked. They all kept squealing. Well, that helped, I thought. I scanned the room again and spotted Percy's jeans under… under the loom? Whatever. No time to figure it out.
Rushing over, I pulled them out and began rummaging through the pockets. What would help? Not Riptide – though that's likely what Percy would grab. I almost laughed.
I pulled out Hermes' multivitamins.
I am so getting us out of here, I thought as I jiggled the cap. And then I'm giving the idiot a big hug, just because I deserve it.
Well, I'm not making any promises about the next chapter this time, since I'll likely break them. :hangs head in shame: Hope you liked this one, though.