Authors: Carolyn Hennesy
Tags: #ebook, #book
NEW YORK BERLIN LONDON
Table of Contents
A storm such as Pandy had never seen hit three days after they reached the open sea. The waves were as tall as temple pillars and the winds were shredding holes in the enormous black-and-white striped mainsail. Hard rain was pouring from the sky with the ferocity of a waterfall, and the ship had been careening, skidding, and lurching violently ever since it had passed the jagged outcropping of rock that formed the coastline of western Greece, just past the city of Methone.
Almost an hour earlier, as the first gusts of wind began to swirl about the ship, the captain insisted that his passengers go below deck immediately. Pandy and her friends, Alcie and Iole, had come up topside for a breath of fresh air only moments before. They tried to comply with the captain’s orders, but as they took their first steps from the bow toward the small set of stairs at the stern, the winds immediately shifted, slapping them back against the railings and almost blowing them into the water. For the last forty-five minutes, the hurricane had pinned all three girls and several well-seasoned sailors to the railings, the huge mast, and the cargo crates that were tied down to the deck. The black clouds made it difficult for Pandy to keep her friends in sight. She knew Alcie would be able to hold on; in fact, Alcie’s recent affliction of having two left feet had somehow made her able to negotiate her way around the ship. Instead of constantly veering off to her right as she did on land, the gentle glide of the hull over the water had miraculously straightened out Alcie’s stride and before the storm had descended, Alcie was seriously considering becoming a sailor. Now, Pandy could just make out Alcie against the mast, her hands intertwined in the sail ropes, riding out the storm like it was merely a light breeze.
Iole was a much different story, and it was only when the first bolts of lightning began striking the water all around them that Pandy saw her little friend was in serious trouble. Iole had been thrown against the railings easily with the first gust. Now her thin arms and legs were slipping through the large gaps between the railing posts. The rain, the constant spray of seawater, and the dip of the ship as it crested wave after wave was making it impossible for Iole to hang on. She couldn’t keep a grip on the railing posts; they were too thick and the wood was gummy and slimy from years of exposure to the salty sea air.
Pandy’s place on the deck was precarious enough; she was being tossed about between two large packing crates, and she could feel her shoulders and legs beginning to bruise. But she’d wrapped her arms around the ropes that held the crates to the deck and she felt that, though she was going to be black and blue, she was fairly safe. Now, however, with lightning illuminating Iole almost half overboard, Pandy knew that if she didn’t get to Iole fast, she’d be less one best friend.
Pandy freed her arms from the ropes and crept forward on her hands and knees over the slippery deck toward Alcie and the mast. Alcie’s body was turned in such a way that she didn’t yet see Iole was in trouble. Pandy screamed at the top of her lungs, pointing toward the railing. Alcie squirmed around the mast to look and shrieked, sticking one of her left feet out for Pandy to grab hold of. Pandy pulled herself over Alcie’s leg, inching her way up to a standing position, and began trying to untie the heavy rope coiled around the mast.
“What are you doing?” yelled Alcie.
“I’m gonna try to get this to Iole!” Pandy yelled back.
Suddenly a rough hand yanked the end of the rope out of her grasp and grabbed her forearm.
“That rope holds the mainsail! You could bring down the whole ship, you fool!” said one of two sailors who’d also been pinned against the mast by the winds.
“My friend is going to be killed!” Pandy screamed, pointing to the railing.
“Too bad for her,” yelled the other sailor, lightning flashing on his grimy, toothless face. “But you’re not going to wreck the
“What?” gasped Pandy, taking in a mouthful of salt water. “What did you say?”
has weathered worse than this and you stupid maidens are not going to do anything to destroy her,” snarled the first sailor, his hand still clapped around Pandy’s.
“Great Gods,” Pandy thought, “that’s it!” The name of the ship was the
and that could mean only one thing.
Hera, the Queen of Heaven, whose primary symbol was the peacock, had sent this storm. Pandy was never more sure of anything in her life. Hera had somehow seen to it that Pandy and her friends had boarded this ship, and now she was bent on sending it to the bottom of the sea. Why oh why had she not recognized the danger before they got onboard? Had she even noticed the name of the ship?
At that moment, the
fell into a deep trough in the waves and the sailor released his grasp on Pandy’s arm to brace himself against the mast. Pandy went tumbling—flying was more like it—toward Iole and the railing. She hit the railing so hard that she thought she’d cracked a rib. She was about to be tossed to the other side of the ship when she saw Iole’s hand just inches away. Instantly she grabbed on to it, and the force of the lurch and Pandy’s extra weight helped drag Iole back on board a bit. But there was nothing else to hold on to, nothing to tie them down. The packing crates were too far away. Alcie had attempted Pandy’s idea of using the mast rope, but she was now pinned by the two sailors, who kept her restrained even though she was trying to bite them.
Iole looked at Pandy, unable to speak, her eyes red from crying and salt water.
“I need a rope,” Pandy thought, now completely desperate. “All I need is a stupid
The following instant, a flash of lightning carved the face of the great goddess Athena in the air precisely in front of Pandy’s nose. Athena looked directly at Pandy and winked at her.
And then Pandy had an idea.
Only a week before, Athena had given Pandy a magic rope, one that would grow longer or shorter, thicker or thinner, depending on what was needed. All Pandy had to do was ask the rope to do something and the next moment it was done. But each time she’d used it before, the rope had actually been in her hands. Now the rope was coiled securely inside her leather carrying pouch, which was stowed in her cabin safely below deck.
There was no way she could physically get to it, not without letting go of Iole, and Pandy knew she’d never make it below deck and back in time.
But Athena had not appeared to her just to give her a wink.
“Rope . . . come to me . . . ,” Pandy began to mutter under her breath.
“Rope . . . come to me . . .
” She said the words again and again, without the faintest notion if her summoning was working.
rode up another crest, Pandy and Iole were almost vertical to the deck. Only Iole’s foot, hooked around one of the railing posts, and Pandy’s left arm, hooked around another post, kept them from falling down toward the stern of the ship.
“Rope . . . come to me . . . I need you . . . now!” Pandy said again and again.
The ship plunged down into the trough and Pandy lost her grip on Iole’s wrist as Iole, screaming, slipped halfway through the railing.
As Pandy was thrown upside down with the force of the plummet, a bolt of lightning struck close to the passageway opening. Pandy’s head jerked toward the flash and her eye caught sight of something thin and silvery on deck. The magic rope was snaking its way toward her from the passageway opening. The sailors trapped on deck didn’t even notice; they were too busy trying to save their own lives.
“Faster!” she cried. Instantly the rope was in her hands.
“Longer . . . thicker!” she yelled and the rope obeyed.
Iole screamed again. At least Pandy thought it was Iole. It might have been the giant peacock that had appeared suddenly, hovering in the air for an instant over her head, a brilliant sapphire blue and ruby red bird, screeching at the top of its voice.
Iole was almost gone, only her feet, hooked to two of the railing posts, were still visible.
“Catch Iole now!” Pandy yelled. One end of the rope flew from Pandy’s hands and disappeared overboard.
“Bring her back!” Pandy cried, not knowing if the rope could even understand more complex commands. But the next moment Iole was on deck, the rope wound about her waist and shoulders in a beautiful little harness.
“Hold us both to the railing!” Pandy said, and the rope stretched itself to be able to firmly secure both Pandy and Iole to the posts, and wrapped itself around the two girls with a series of intricate knots.