“I shouldn’t have let them run off.”

“Grover has his own destiny, and Tyson was brave to follow him. You would know if Grover was in mortal danger, don’t you think?”

“I suppose. The empathy link. But—”

“There is something else I should tell you, Percy,” he said. “Actually two unpleasant things.”


“Chris Rodriguez, our guest…”

I remembered what I’d seen in the basement, Clarisse trying to talk to him while he babbled about the Labyrinth. “Is he dead?”

“Not yet,” Chiron said grimly. “But he’s much worse. He’s in the infirmary now, too weak to move. I had to order Clarisse back to her regular schedule, because she was at his bedside constantly. He doesn’t respond to anything. He won’t take food or drink. None of my medicines help. He has simply lost the will to live.”

I shuddered. Despite all the run-ins I’d had with Clarisse, I felt horrible for her. She’d tried so hard to help him. And now that I’d been in the Labyrinth, I could understand why it had been so easy for the ghost of Minos to drive Chris mad. If I’d been wandering around down there alone, without my friends to help, I’d never have made it out.

“I’m sorry to say,” Chiron continued, “the other news is less pleasant still. Quintus has disappeared.”

“Disappeared? How?”

“Three nights ago he slipped into the Labyrinth. Juniper watched him go. It appears you may have been right about him.”

“He’s a spy for Luke.” I told Chiron about the Triple G Ranch—how Quintus had bought his scorpions there and Geryon had been supplying Kronos’s army. “It can’t be a coincidence.”

Chiron sighed heavily. “So many betrayals. I had hoped Quintus would prove a friend. It seems my judgment was bad.”

“What about Mrs. O’Leary?” I asked.

“The hellhound is still in the arena. It won’t let anyone approach. I did not have the heart to force it into a cage…or destroy it.”

“Quintus wouldn’t just leave her.”

“As I said, Percy, we seem to have been wrong about him. Now, you should prepare yourself for the morning. You and Annabeth still have much to do.”

I left him in his wheelchair, staring sadly into the fireplace. I wondered how many times he’d sat here, waiting for heroes that never came back.


Before dinner I stopped by the sword arena. Sure enough, Mrs. O’Leary was curled up in an enormous black furry mound in the middle of the stadium, chewing halfheartedly on the head of a warrior dummy.

When she saw me, she barked and came bounding toward me. I thought I was dead meat. I just had time to say, “Whoa!” before she bowled me over and started licking my face. Now usually, being the son of Poseidon and all, I only get wet if I want to, but my powers apparently did not extend to dog saliva, because I got a pretty good bath.

“Whoa, girl!” I yelled. “Can’t breathe. Lemme up!”

Eventually I managed to get her off me. I scratched her ears and found her an extra-gigantic dog biscuit.

“Where’s your master?” I asked. Her. “How could he just leave you, huh?”

She whimpered like she wanted to know that, too. I was ready to believe Quintus was an enemy, but still I couldn’t understand why he’d leave Mrs. O’Leary behind. If there was one thing I was sure of, it was that he really cared for his megadog.

I was thinking about that and toweling the dog spit off my face when a girl’s voice said, “You’re lucky she didn’t bite your head off.”

Clarisse was standing at the other end of the arena with her sword and shield. “Came here to practice yesterday,” she grumbled. “Dog tried to chew me up.”

“She’s an intelligent dog,” I said.


She walked toward us. Mrs. O’Leary growled, but I patted her on the head and calmed her down.

“Stupid hellhound,” Clarisse said. “Not going to keep me from practicing.”

“I heard about Chris,” I said. “I’m sorry.”

Clarisse paced a circle around the arena. When she came to the nearest dummy, she attacked viciously, chopping its head off with a single blow and driving her sword through its guts. She pulled the sword out and kept walking.

“Yeah, well. Sometimes things go wrong.” Her voice was shaky. “Heroes get hurt. They…they die, and the monsters just keep coming back.”

She picked up a javelin and threw it across the arena. It nailed a dummy straight between the eyeholes of its helmet.

She had called Chris a hero, like he had never gone over to the Titan’s side. It reminded me of the way Annabeth sometimes talked about Luke. I decided not to bring that up.

“Chris was brave,” I said. “I hope he gets better.”

She glared at me as if I were her next target. Mrs. O’Leary growled.

“Do me a favor,” Clarisse told me.

“Yeah, sure.”

“If you find Daedalus, don’t trust him. Don’t ask him for help. Just kill him.”


“Because anybody who can make something like the Labyrinth, Percy? That person is evil. Plain evil.”

For a second she reminded me of Eurytion the cowherd, her much older half brother. She had the same hard look in her eyes, as if she’d been used for the past two thousand years and was getting tired of it. She sheathed her sword. “Practice time is over. From now on, it’s for real.”


That night I slept in my own bunk, and for the first time since Calypso’s Island, dreams found me.

I was in a king’s courtroom—a big white chamber with marble columns and a wooden throne. Sitting on it was a plump guy with curly red hair and a crown of laurels. At his side stood three girls who looked like his daughters. They all had his red hair and were dressed in blue robes.

The doors creaked open and a herald announced, “Minos, King of Crete!”

I tensed, but the man on the throne just smiled at his daughters. “I can’t wait to see the expression on his face.”

Minos, the royal creep himself, swept into the room. He was so tall and serious he made the other king look silly. Minos’s pointed beard had gone gray. He looked thinner than the last time I’d dreamed of him, and his sandals were splattered with mud, but the same cruel light shined in his eyes.

He bowed stiffly to the man on the throne. “King Cocalus. I understand you have solved my little riddle?”

Cocalus smiled. “Hardly little, Minos. Especially when you advertise across the world that you are willing to pay a thousand gold talents to the one who can solve it. Is the offer genuine?”

Minos clapped his hands. Two buff guards walked in, struggling with a big wooden crate. They set it at Cocalus’s feet and opened it. Stacks of gold bars glittered. It had to be worth like a gazillion dollars.

Cocalus whistled appreciatively. “You must have bankrupted your kingdom for such a reward, my friend.”

“That is not your concern.”

Cocalus shrugged. “The riddle was quite simple, really. One of my retainers solved it.”

“Father,” one of the girls warned. She looked like the oldest—a little taller than her sisters.

Cocalus ignored her. He took a spiral seashell from the folds of his robe. A silver string had been threaded through it, so it hung like a huge bead on a necklace.

Minos stepped forward and took the shell. “One of your retainers, you say? How did he thread the string without breaking the shell?”

“He used an ant, if you can believe it. Tied a silk string to the little creature and coaxed it through the shell by putting honey at the far end.”

“Ingenious man,” Minos said.

“Oh, indeed. My daughters’ tutor. They are quite fond of him.”

Minos’s eyes turned cold. “I would be careful of that.”

I wanted to warn Cocalus: Don’t trust this guy! Throw him in the dungeon with some man-eating lions or something! But the redheaded king just chuckled. “Not to worry, Minos. My daughters are wise beyond their years. Now, about my gold—”

“Yes,” Minos said. “But you see the gold is for the man who solved the riddle. And there can be only one such man. You are harboring Daedalus.”

Cocalus shifted uncomfortably on his throne. “How is that you know his name?”

“He is a thief,” Minos said. “He once worked in my court, Cocalus. He turned my own daughter against me. He helped a usurper make a fool of me in my own palace. And then he escaped justice. I have been pursuing him for ten years.”

“I knew nothing of this. But I have offered the man my protection. He has been a most useful—”

“I offer you a choice,” Minos said. “Turn over the fugitive to me, and this gold is yours. Or risk making me your enemy. You do not want Crete as your enemy.”

Cocalus paled. I thought it was stupid for him to look so scared in the middle of his own throne room. He should’ve summoned his army or something. Minos only had two guards. But Cocalus just sat there sweating on his throne.

“Father,” his oldest daughter said, “you can’t—”

“Silence, Aelia.” Cocalus twisted his beard. He looked again at the glittering gold. “This pains me, Minos. The gods do not love a man who breaks his oath of hospitality.”

“The gods do not love those who harbor criminals, either.”

Cocalus nodded. “Very well. You shall have your man in chains.”

“Father!” Aelia said again. Then she caught herself, and changed her voice to a sweeter tone. “At—at least let us feast our gust first. After his long journey, he should be treated to a hot bath, new clothes, and a decent meal. I would be honored to draw the bath myself.”

She smiled prettily at Minos, and the old king grunted. “I suppose a bath would not be amiss.” He looked at Cocalus. “I will see you at dinner, my lord. With the prisoner.”

“This way, Your Majesty,” said Aelia. She and her sisters led Minos out of the chamber.

I followed them into a bath chamber decorated with mosaic tiles. Steam filled the air. A running-water faucet poured hot water into the tub. Aelia and her sisters filled it with rose petals and something that must’ve been Ancient Greek Mr. Bubble, because soon the water was covered with multicolored foam. The girls turned aside as Minos dropped his roves and slipped into the bath.

“Ahh.” He smiled. “An excellent bath. Thank you, my dears. The journey has been long indeed.”

“You have been chasing your prey ten years, my lord?” Aelia asked, batting her eyelashes. “You must be very determined.”

“I never forget a debt.” Minos grinned. “Your father was wise to agree to my demands.”

“Oh, indeed, my lord!” Aelia said. I thought she was laying on the flattery pretty thick, but the old guy was eating it up. Aelia’s sisters trickled scented oil over the king’s head.