Everyone waited with baited breath as a horrified expression crossed her face. Piper elbowed Leo.
"Ow!" he yelled, which was not exactly necessary. "What was that for?" he whined. Piper glared at him. Mae opened the door, and they filed out. All of them except for Annabeth. She still stood there woodenly.
"Annabeth, she's not going to remember in a few minutes," said Mae. Annabeth slowly came out of the house and followed the group.
"It’s too late to go back to the ship. We’ll have to find someplace else to rest tonight." said Mae. The other nodded and headed towards the city as dusk was slowly settling over them.
The walk to find a reasonablely priced hotel was becoming increasing futile and tiring. Mae was walking along and spotted an old lady crossing the street. Her figure was bent, and her head was covered by a shawl. Before anyone could stop her, Mae had darted across the street and helped her across. Obviously, the woman liked to smoke because her voice was incredibly raspy when she spoke.
"Thank you, dear," said the old lady. "You are too kind. May I offer you some supper? My apartment is just on the fourth floor of this building." Mae looked at the others, but their wariness was already crumbling at the prospect of eating a hot dinner. She agreed, and they were led up to the apartment by the old woman. As soon as they walked in, however, they should have realized something was amiss. Annabeth recoiled quickly when she saw the massive, ornate spider sitting on the fireplace shelf.
"I hate spiders," she whimpered, nearly hiding behind Leo. Leo looked amused that such a thing would bother her so much. He then proceeded to mess with it to try to terrify Annabeth further. Piper and Mae rolled their eyes.
"Ah, I have a particular fondness for spiders," said the old woman, slowly fixing supper. Annabeth daintily sat on the edge of the couch as if it was about to turn into a spider and eat her.
"What an interesting weaving loom," remarked Piper, spotting a massive loom that took up most of the room. The woman smiled.
"My greatest masterpiece but my teacher didn’t quite like it," said the old woman. Annabeth peered closer. Her eyes became huge.
"Your name is Ariadne, isn’t it?" guessed Annabeth. Everyone turned in surprise back at the little, old woman. There was a clang of metal as she dropped the pot she was holding.
"Ariadne got turned into a spider, though," said Leo, confused. The woman turned to face them.
"Gaea resurrected me and is slowly bringing my human form back. She alone should be worshiped." said the old woman, removing the shawl from her head.
"Eww!" squealed Mae, jumping back like all the others. The woman was indeed coming back but very slowly. She had a humanoid body, but there was thick, gray hair covering her body, and her eyes were large and completely black. Annabeth sat frozen with fear on the couch.
"Great, just what we need," said Leo, brandishing a hammer from his belt. "A talking spider." she did not make a move, however, but decided to stand in the middle of the room while the six demigods surrounded her.
"If you kill me, I’ll just keep coming back and plaguing you again," said Ariadne. Mae scowled.
"We’ll get over it," she replied, releasing an arrow. It soared right through her. She cackled and bared two pincer like fangs.
"What the-" began Mae. Annabeth turned around and broke the window. She leapt out of it yelling out behind her.
"RUN!" She yelled. The others did not need telling twice. They sprinted out the window and landed hard on the balcony below. Mae twisted around and aimed an arrow at the building across the street. She clutched her bow as it was hooked onto the rope and kicked off. It zoomed Annabeth and Mae to safety. Mae sent the bow back down the line for the others to come across. Ariadne leaned out of her window leisurely.
"5,4,3,2-" she counted, aloud. The other four made it across.
"How is she supposed to catch us?" asked Leo, as Mae cut the rope adjoining the two buildings. The old woman crawled out of the window and held out her hand. A web shot out and connected itself to the side of the building.
"Spider-man rip off!" shouted Leo, as Ariadne swung over to their building and started climbing up. The demigods ran to the other side of the top of the building. Annabeth gazed down.
"There’s no way to outrun her," said Mae, answering her thoughts. Piper turned and brandished her weapon.
"I can charm-speak her to stay in her normal form instead of going all ghostly on us. That way, we can kill her," said Piper. Annabeth looked down one more time.
"I have an idea," she said, turning to Mae with a gleam in her eye.
"Keep her busy for as long as you can," said Annabeth, while Mae shot another rope arrow. "But don’t kill her!" she called, out as she flew over the side of the building with Mae.
Leo’s hand caught fire, and he turned around with the others. Ariadne came soaring over the side. Her black eyes gleamed as she walked towards them.
"Gross," murmured Piper.
"Where’s my old pal Annabeth?" asked Ariadne. No one answered.
"Well that’s okay. I’ll just take care of you demigods while I wait," she said, advancing towards them.
"Distract her," murmured Jason, to Addison. The answer popped right into his head, and he reached for his wallet. Her eyes darted to his quick movement.
"Are you going to pay me to go away?" laughed Ariadne. Addison frowned. The golden card was pulled, and the wallet transformed into his axe. Addison did not even need to try to miss. He was so bad that he could not hit her with the axe. He was heaving by the time he had barely made Ariadne pant. Her eyes darted suspiciously at the others as if wondering why they were not fighting.
"Really? I was expecting more from you, demigods. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that you were letting this boy distr-" taunted Ariadne, but she stopped mid-sentence when the words sank in.
"You!" she snarled. She knocked Addison aside and sprinted over the side of the building. Addison, recovering himself, limped over to the others that were standing at the edge watching spider-woman use her abilities to get down at the bank where the two had disappeared. How she knew which building they went in, they could not figure out. Leo’s eyes glittered brightly when Jason congratulated Addison on a successful diversion.
"You were trying to hurt her, weren’t you?" snickered Leo. Addison shot him a look.
"Not a word to Mae," he demanded. Leo chuckled and gave him a sly look.
"You’re going to tell her, aren’t you?" sighed Addison, already knowing the answer.
"Duh," replied Leo, using the rope that Mae had left for them.
There was a large jolt as the spider woman hit the ground. Annabeth motioned the bank manager to leave.
"Get ready," she called, up to Mae. The door shattered, and Ariadne crawled through. She seemed to only have her sights on Annabeth.
"Your little friend was quite effective at keeping me busy. What I want to know is why did you need a distraction?" asked Ariadne. Annabeth stood tauntingly silent. Only Mae could see the vault door wide open behind her from her position on the rafters.
"You can’t kill me, Annabeth," sneered Ariadne, flexing her hairy fingers. "And if you do, I’ll just come back and kill your boyfriend Percy." She had struck a nerve. Annabeth still stayed silent. With a roar, Ariadne sprung towards Annabeth. Mae kicked off of the rafters where she was perched and swung towards Annabeth. She scooped her up right before Ariadne could hurt her. The spider woman hurled with such force into the vault that it shut by itself with a loud, shuddering bang. Annabeth twirled the lock. They could hear Ariadne pounding mercilessly on the inside of the door and screeching.
"Why are we locking her up in a vault?" asked Mae, while Annabeth called the manager back in. The Mist was clearly manipulating the sound of the spider lady’s screams since he did not pay any attention to it.
"Just sign here," said the manager. Annabeth nodded.
"On my 30th birthday, it can be opened." said Annabeth. The manager nodded happily and wished them a good day. They left the bank and met the rest of the group outside.
"She’ll slowly die, but not fast enough to get to any of us. By the time she dies, I hope that Percy will have released Death," said Annabeth.
"Percy’s releasing Death?" asked Mae, slightly bewildered. Annabeth looked surprised.
"I figured that’s why Percy’s headed North," said Annabeth. "It’s so obvious that Death was captured, and Percy’s gone to save him." Mae rolled her eyes.
"Not everyone is as smart as you, Annabeth," Mae said. Annabeth smiled smugly. It was awhile before they got back to Ariadne’s apartment. They decided to make spaghetti for dinner. Surprisingly, Leo was the best cook, and he was ordered to make them all dinner. Annabeth went through the house and threw all the spider-related things out the window.
"Girls get bedroom!" yelled Mae. She jerked open the door and nearly gagged at the smell. She shut the door scarred for life. She reappeared sometime later.
"We’re all sleeping in the living room." was all she said. They all looked at her queerly but did not question her.
"I know we should get some sleep, but can’t we watch a movie tonight?" asked Leo.
"A very short one," agreed Annabeth. Leo beamed and dug out a very old looking tape. They curled up sleepily on various couches and cushions. Mae’s thoughts drifted off of the movie. She could just barely see Addison out of the corner of her eye. She could not tell if he truly liked her or not. It seemed to come and go. Feeling a headache slowly creep upon her, Mae gave up and sleepily leaned her head back. Leo got up to switch the movie off. He glanced around and was startled to find everyone asleep but him. Annabeth was lying asleep on the floor. Piper was leaning on Jason asleep. Mae’s head had slid onto Addison’s shoulder, and his head rested on her’s. Both of their eyes were closed, and Mae looked absolutely tiny curled up beside Addison. A pang shot through his chest, and a flash of a small black girl rang through his memory. Leo clutched his head and scowled. He had no memory of a black girl that looked like that. So why did she look familiar? Leo curled up with a pillow and gradually fell asleep.
"You have forgotten me, young Hero," rumbled a deep voice. Addison stared into those huge, starry eyes.
"I don’t know who you are!" yelled Addison, in despair.
"Ask her. Ask the fire-headed one with the temper to match. Apollo has blessed her." rumbled the voice.
"But she won’t talk to me!" he shouted, as he felt himself slip from the dream. The voice chuckled darkly.
"She will. She will." it assured."
Addison woke up and glanced around the room. He half expected the owner of the voice to be in the room. Blinking groggily, Addison lifted his head and wondered what was on his shoulder. He could not believe his eyes. Mae was fast asleep with her head on his shoulder. Her freckled face was completely serene. Addison had the strangest urge to kiss her but refrained. That was not going to help them in any way with their current predicament. He turned his head to all the others. He remember that Piper had fallen asleep on Jason’s shoulder, but now, she had fallen with Jason over on her side and was now completely wrapped up in his embrace. Annabeth was asleep with her laptop wide open resting on her lap. Addison was willing to bet that she had fallen asleep while attempting to unscramble one of the puzzles. Leo was snuggled up with a pillow and was having a very difficult time in his dream. He kept murmuring something about Leves-something. Addison adjusted Mae’s head to his chest and leaned back. Closing his eyes, Addison was quick to fall asleep.
"You have forgotten me," rang throughout all of his dreams.