Dazed and locked in the monster's grip, Percy tried to shake the dizziness and confusion from his head. He remembered...the battle on the Field of Mars, in Camp Jupiter. He and Polybotes were fighting, and he had been close to victory. Then something had gone terribly wrong – Percy didn't know what exactly, he had been too busy fighting and trying to stay alive – but Hazel and Frank were taken as captives by the giant's army. Not just the giant's army, but by Gaea herself. He remembered seeing them pinned to the ground, tendrils of mud wrapping around their bodies like prying arms.
Polybotes' blade came flashing down, and Percy met it with Riptide. The water from the aqueducts had revitalized him, and he felt new strength and power surging through him. Percy freed Riptide from the giant's sword and brought it around. Leaping up, Percy stabbed deep into Polybotes' chest. The giant fell to his knees with a scream, dropping his sword.
Then he heard a shout: "Percy!"
It was Reyna, who was staring in horror at Hazel and Frank. Strings of mud had shot up and disarmed the two demigods, before wrapping around their ankles and wrists. They fell to the ground, about to be buried and drowned in the mud. The other campers backed away, in fear of being ensnared by the ground as well.
Polybotes had then offered him a choice. To save himself or to save his friends? The choice had been easy. Percy hadn't hesitated – he rescued his friends. The price for Hazel and Frank's lives was to be a captive himself of Polybotes. The giant had struck him hard on the head after he had rescued his friends, and the last thing Percy remembered seeing was the panic and fear stricken faces of the Romans.
The giant stumbled painfully back to his feet. Wincing, he glared at Percy. "Well, Jackson? Your friends will be swallowed in seconds if you continue to fight me. If you so much as lift a finger, Hazel Levesque and Frank Zhang will die. Put down your sword, and they will be free. Then you will become my prisoner."
Hazel was screaming through mouthfuls of mud. "No, Percy!"
Frank was staring at him, shaking his head.
Their messages were clear, but Percy looked away. He dropped Riptide onto the grass. "Let them go."
Polybotes smirked. "Gaea was right. Your loyalty to your friends is too strong – and it has cost you your life." He stepped forward, and Percy gazed at the faces of his friends one last time as pain exploded in his head and everything went dark.
Now, Percy looked around and tried to find his bearings. Like Polybotes had promised, they were close to the ocean. But this time, the ocean did not fill him with power like it usually did – instead, it was replaced with dread. Polybotes was born to oppose Poseidon. In the water, he would impossible to fight and defeat. Percy recalled his words: Every day the water will heal you, and every day I will bring you closer to death.