The Battle of the Labyrinth – Chapter 15: WE STEAL SOME SLIGHTLY USED WINGS

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Chapter 15: WE STEAL SOME SLIGHTLY USED WINGS

“This way!” Rachel yelled. 

  “Why should we follow you?” Annabeth demanded. “You led us straight into that death trap!”

  “It was the way you needed to go,” Rachel said. “And so is this. Come on!”

  Annabeth didn’t look happy about it, but she ran along with the rest of us. Rachel seemed to know exactly where she was going. She whipped around corners and didn’t even hesitate at crossroads. Once she said, “Duck!” and we all crouched as a huge axe swung over our heads. Then we kept going as if nothing had happened. 

I lost track of how many turns we made. We didn’t stop to rest until we came to a room the size of a gymnasium with old marble columns holding up the roof. I stood at the doorway, listening for sounds of pursuit, but I heard nothing. Apparently we’d lost Luke and his minions in the maze. 

  Then I realized something else: Mrs. O’Leary was gone. I didn’t know when she’d disappeared. I didn’t know of she’d gotten lost or been overrun by monsters or what. My heart turned to lead. She’d saved our lives, and I hadn’t even waited to make sure she was following us. 

  Ethan collapsed on the floor. “You people are crazy. ” He pulled off his helmet. His face gleamed with sweat. 

  Annabeth gasped. “I remember you! You were one of the undetermined kids in the Hermes cabin, years ago. ”

  He glared at her. “Yeah, and you’re Annabeth. I remember. ”

  “What—what happened to your eye?”

  Ethan looked away, and I got the feeling that was one subject he would not discuss. 

  “You must be the half-blood from my dream,” I said. “The one Luke’s people cornered. It wasn’t Nico after all. ”

  “Who’s Nico?”

  “Never mind,” Annabeth said quickly. “Why were you trying to join up with the wrong side?”

  Ethan sneered. “There’s no right side. The gods never cared about us. Why shouldn’t I—”

  “Sign up with an army that makes you fight to the death for entertainment?” Annabeth said. “Gee, I wonder. ”

  Ethan struggled to his feet. “I’m not going to argue with you. Thanks for the help, but I’m out of here. ”

  “We’re going after Daedalus,” I said. “Come with us. Once we get through, you’d be welcome back at camp. ”

  “You really are crazy if you think Daedalus will help you. ”

  “He has to,” Annabeth said. “We’ll make him listen. ”

  Ethan snorted. “Yeah, well. Good luck with that. ”

  I grabbed his arm. “You’re just going to head off alone into the maze? That’s suicide. ”

  He looked at me with barely controlled anger. His eye patch was frayed around the edges and the black cloth was faded, like he’d been wearing it a long, long time. “You shouldn’t have spared me, Jackson. Mercy has no place in this war. ”

  Then he ran off into the darkness, back the way we’d come. 

  ***

  Annabeth, Rachel, and I were so exhausted we made camp right there in the huge room. I found some scrap wood and we started a fire. Shadows danced off the columns rising around us like trees. 

  “Something was wrong with Luke,” Annabeth muttered, poking at the fire with her knife. “Did you notice the way he was acting?”

  “He looked pretty pleased to me,” I said. “Like he’d spent a nice day torturing heroes. ”

  “That’s not true! There was something wrong with him. He looked…nervous. He told his monsters to spare me. He wanted to tell me something. ”

  “Probably, ‘Hi, Annabeth! Sit here with me and watch while I tear your friends apart. It’ll be fun!’”

  “You’re impossible,” Annabeth grumbled. She sheathed her dagger and looked at Rachel. “So which way now, Sacagawea?”

  Rachel didn’t respond right away. She’d become quieter since the arena. Now, whenever Annabeth made a sarcastic comment, Rachel hardly bothered to answer. She’d burned the tip of a stick in the fire and was using it to draw ash figures on the floor, images of the monsters we’d seen. With a few strokes, she caught the likeness of a dracaena perfectly. 

  “We’ll follow the path,” she said. “The brightness on the floor. ”

  “The brightness that led us straight into a trap?” Annabeth asked. 

  “Lay off her, Annabeth,” I said. “She’s doing the best she can. ”

  Annabeth stood. “The fire’s getting low. I’ll go look for some more scraps while you guys talk strategy. ” And she marched off into the shadows. 

  Rachel drew another figure with her stick—an ashy Antaeus dangling from his chains. 

  “Annabeth’s usually not like this,” I told her. “I don’t know what her problem is. ”

  Rachel raised her eyebrows. “Are you sure you don’t know?”

  “What do you mean?”

  “Boys,” she muttered. “Totally blind. ”

  “Hey, don’t you get on my case, too! Look, I’m sorry I got you involved in this. ”

  “No, you were right,” she said. “I can see the path. I can’t explain it, but it’s really clear. ” She pointed toward the other end of the room, into the darkness. “The workshop is that way. The heart of the maze. We’re very close now. I don’t know why the path led through that arena. I—I’m sorry about that. I thought you were going to die. ”

  She sounded like she was close to crying. 

  “Hey, I’m usually about to die,” I promised. “Don’t feel bad. ”

  She studied my face. “So you do this every summer? Fight monsters? Save the world? Don’t you ever get to do just, you know, normal stuff?”

  I’d never really thought about it like that. The last time I’d had something like a normal life had been…well, never. “Half-bloods get used to it, I guess. Or maybe not used to it, but…” I shifted uncomfortably. “What about you? What do you do normally?”

  Rachel shrugged. “I paint. I read a lot. ”

  Okay, I thought. So far we are scoring a zero on the similarities chart. “What about your family?”

  I could sense her mental shields going up, like this was not a safe subject. “Oh…they’re just, you know, family. ”

  “You said they wouldn’t notice if you were gone. ”

  She set down her drawing stick. “Wow, I’m really tired. I may sleep for a while, okay?”

  “Oh, sure. Sorry if…”

  But Rachel was already curling up, using her backpack as a pillow. She closed her eyes and lay very still, but I got the feeling she wasn’t really asleep. 

  A few minutes later, Annabeth came back. She tossed some more sticks on the fire. She looked at Rachel, then at me. 

  “I’ll take first watch,” she said. “You should sleep, too. ”

  “You don’t have to act like that. ”

  “Like what?”

  “Like…never mind. ” I lay down, feeling miserable. I was so tired I fell asleep as soon as my eyes closed. 

  ***

  In my dreams I heard laughter. Cold, harsh laughter, like knives being sharpened. 

  I was standing at the edge of a pit in the depths of Tartarus. Below me the darkness seethed like inky soup. 

  “So close to your own destruction, little hero,” the voice of Kronos chided. “And still you are blind. ”

  The voice was different than it had been before. It seemed almost physical now, as if it were speaking from a real body instead of…whatever he’d been in his chopped-up condition. 

  “I have much to thank you for,” Kronos said. “You have assured my rise. ”

  The shadows in the cavern became deeper and heavier. I tried to back away from the edge of the pit, but it was like swimming through oil. Time slowed down. My breathing almost stopped. 

  “A favor,” Kronos said. “The Titan lord always pays his debts. Perhaps a glimpse of the friends you abandoned…”

  The darkness rippled around me, and I was in a different cave. 

  “Hurry!” Tyson said. He came barreling into the room. Grover stumbled along behind him. There was a rumbling in the corridor they’d come from, and the head of an enormous snake burst into the cave. I mean, this thing was so big its body barely fit through the tunnel. Its scales were coppery. Its head was diamond-shaped like a rattler, and its yellow eyes glowed with hatred. When it opened its mouth, its fangs were as tall as Tyson. 

  It lashed at Grover, but Grover scampered out of the way. The snake got a mouthful of dirt. Tyson picked up a boulder and threw it at the monster, smacking it between the eyes, but the snake just recoiled and hissed. 

  “It’s going to eat you!” Grover yelled at Tyson. 

  “How do you know?”

  “It just told me! Run!”

  Tyson darted to one side, but the snake used its head like a club and knocked him off his feet. 

  “No!” Grover yelled. But before Tyson could regain his balance, the snake wrapped around him and started to squeeze. 

  Tyson strained, pushing with all his immense strength, but the snake squeezed tighter. Grover frantically hit the snake with his reed pipes, but he might as well have been banging on a stone wall. 

  The whole room shook as the snake flexed its muscles, shuddering to overcome Tyson’s strength. 

  Grover began to play with pipes, and stalactites rained down from the ceiling. The whole cave seemed about to collapse…

  ***

  I woke with Annabeth shaking my shoulder. “Percy, wake up!”

  “Tyson—Tyson’s in trouble!” I said. “We have to help him!”

  “First things first,” she said. “Earthquake!”

  Sure enough, the room was rumbling. “Rachel!” I yelled. 

  Her eyes opened instantly. She grabbed her pack, and the three of us ran. We were almost to the far tunnel when a column next to us groaned and buckled. We kept going as a hundred tons of marble crashed down behind us. 

  We made it to the corridor and turned just in time to see the other columns toppling. A cloud of white dust billowed over us, and we kept running. 

  “You know what?” Annabeth said. “I like this way after all. ”

  It wasn’t long before we saw light up ahead—like regular electric lighting. 

  “There,” Rachel said. 

  We followed her into a stainless steel hallway, like I imagined they’d have on a space station or something. Fluorescent lights glowed from the ceiling. The floor was a metal grate. 

  I was so used to being in the darkness that I had to squint. Annabeth and Rachel both looked pale in the harsh illumination. 

  “This way,” Rachel said, beginning to run. “We’re close!”

  “This is so wrong!” Annabeth said. “The workshop should be in the oldest section of the maze. This can’t—”

  She faltered, because we’d arrived at a set of metal double doors. Inscribed in the steel, at eye level, was a large blue Greek Δ. 

  “We’re here,” Rachel announced. “Daedalus’s workshop. ”

  ***

  Annabeth pressed the symbol on the doors and they hissed open. 

  “So much for ancient architecture,” I said. 

  Annabeth scowled. Together we walked inside. 

  The first thing that struck me was the daylight—blazing sun coming through giant windows. Not the kind of thing you expect in the heart of a dungeon. The workshop was like an artist’s studio, with thirty-foot ceilings and industrial lighting, polished stone floors, and workbenches along with windows. A spiral staircase led up to a second-story loft. Half a dozen easels displayed hand-drawn diagrams for buildings and machines that looked like Leonardo da Vinci sketches. Several laptop computers were scattered around on the tables. Glass jars of green oil—Greek fire—lined one shelf. There were inventions, too—weird metal machines I couldn’t make sense of. One was a bronze chair with a bunch of electrical wires attached to it, like some kind of torture device. In another corner stood a giant metal egg about the size of a man. There was a grandfather clock that appeared to be made entirely of glass, so you could see all the gears turning. And hanging on the wall were several sets of bronze and silver wings. 

“Di immortals,” Annabeth muttered. She ran to the nearest easel and looked at the sketch. “He’s a genius. Look at the curves on this building!”

  “And an artist,” Rachel said in amazement. “These wings are amazing!”

  The wings looked more advanced than the ones I’d seen in my dreams. The feathers were more tightly interwoven. Instead of wax seals, self-adhesive strips ran down the sides. 

  I kept my hand on Riptide. Apparently Daedalus was not at home, but the workshop looked like it had been recently used. The laptops were running their screen savers. A half-eaten blueberry muffin and a coffee cup sat on a workbench. 

  I walked to the window. The view outside was amazing. I recognized the Rocky Mountains in the distance. We were high up in the foothills, at least five hundred feet, and down below a valley spread out, filled with a tumbled collection of red mesas and boulders and spires of stone. It looked like some huge kid had been building a toy city with skyscraper-size blocks, and then decided to knock it over. 

  “Where are we?” I wondered. 

  “Colorado Springs,” A voice said behind us. “The Garden of the Gods. ”

  Standing on the spiral staircase above us, with his weapon drawn, was our missing sword master Quintus. 

  ***

  “You,” Annabeth said. “What have you done with Daedalus?”

  Quintus smiled faintly. “Trust me, my dear. You don’t want to meet him. ”

  “Look, Mr. Traitor,” she growled, “I didn’t fight a dragon woman and a three-bodied man and a psychotic Sphinx to see you. Now where is DAEDALUS?”

  Quintus came down the stairs, holding his sword at his side. He was dressed in jeans and boots and his counselor’s T-shirt from Camp Half-Blood, which seemed like an insult now that we knew he was a spy. I didn’t know if I could beat him in a sword fight. He was pretty good. But I figured I would have to try. 

  “You think I’m an agent of Kronos,” he said. “That I work for Luke. ”

  “Well, duh,” said Annabeth. 

  “You’re an intelligent girl,” he said. “But you’re wrong. I work only for myself. ”

  “Luke mentioned you,” I said. “Geryon knew about you, too. You’ve been to his ranch. ”

  “Of course,” he said. “I’ve been almost everywhere. Even here. ”

  He walked past me like I was no threat at all and stood by the window. “The view changes from day to day,” he mused. “It’s always some place high up. Yesterday it was from a skyscraper overlooking Manhattan. The day before that, there was a beautiful view of Lake Michigan. But it keeps coming back to the Garden of the Gods. I think the Labyrinth likes it here. A fitting name, I suppose. ”

  “You’ve been here before,” I said. 

  “Oh, yes. ”

  “That’s an illusion out there?” I asked. “A projection or something?”

  “No,” Rachel murmured. “It’s real. We’re really in Colorado. ”

  Quintus regarded her. “You have clear vision, don’t you? you remind me of another mortal girl I once knew. Another princess who came to grief. ”

  “Enough games,” I said. “What have you done with Daedalus?”

  Quintus stared at me. “My boy, you need lessons from your friend on seeing clearly. I am Daedalus. ”

  ***

  There were a lot of answers I might’ve given, from “I knew that” to “LIAR!” to “Yeah right, and I’m Zeus. ”

  The only thing I could think to say was, “But you’re not an inventor! You’re a swordsman!”

  “I am both,” Quintus said. “And an architect. And a scholar. I also play basketball pretty well for a guy who didn’t start until he was two thousand years old. A real artist must be good at many things. ”

  “That’s true,” Rachel said. “Like I can paint with my feet as well as my hands. ”

  “You see?” Quintus said. “A girl of many talents. ”

  “But you don’t even look like Daedalus,” I protested. “I saw him in a dream, and…” Suddenly a horrible thought dawned on me. 

  “Yes,” Quintus said. “You’ve finally guessed the truth. ”

  “You’re an automaton. You made yourself a new body. ”

  “Percy,” Annabeth said uneasily, “that’s not possible. That—that can’t be an automaton. ”

  Quintus chuckled. “Do you know what Quintus means, my dear?”

  “The fifth, in Latin. But—”

  “This is my fifth body. ” The swordsman held out his forearm. He pressed his elbow and part of his wrist popped open—a rectangular hatch in his skin. Underneath, bronze gears whirred. Wires glowed. 

  “That’s amazing!” Rachel said. 

  “That’s weird,” I said. 

  “You found a way to transfer your animus into a machine?” Annabeth said. “That’s…not natural. ”

  “Oh, I assure you, my dear, it’s still me. I’m still very much Daedalus. Our mother, Athena, makes sure I never forget that. ” He tugged back the collar of his shirt. At the base of his neck was the mark I’d seen before—the dark shape of a bird grafted to his skin. 

  “A murderer’s brand,” Annabeth said. 

  “For your nephew, Perdix,” I guessed. “The boy you pushed off the tower. ”

  Quintus’s face darkened. “I did not push him. I simply—”

  “Made him lose his balance,” I said. “Let him die. ”

  Quintus gazed out the windows at the purple mountains. “I regret what I did, Percy. I was angry and bitter. But I cannot take it back, and Athena never lets me forget. As Perdix died, she turned him into a small bird—a partridge. She branded the bird’s shape on my neck as a reminder. No matter what body I take, the brand appears on my skin. ”

  I looked into his eyes, and I realized he was the same man I’d seen in my dreams. His face might be totally different, but the same soul was in there— the same intelligence and all the sadness. 

  “You really are Daedalus,” I decided. “But why did you come to the camp? Why spy on us?”

  “To see if your camp was worth saving. Luke had given me one story. I preferred to come to my own conclusions. ”

  “So you have talked to Luke. ”

  “Oh, yes. Several times. He is quite persuasive. ”

  “But now you’ve seen the camp!” Annabeth persisted. “So you know we need your help. You can’t let Luke through the maze!”

  Daedalus set his sword on the workbench. “The maze is no longer mine to control, Annabeth. I created it, yes. In fact, it is tied to my life force. But I have allowed it to live and grow on its own. That is the price I paid for privacy. ”

  “Privacy from what?”

  “The gods,” he said. “And death. I have been alive for two millennia, my dear, hiding from death. ”

  “But how can you hide from Hades?” I asked. “I mean…Hades has the Furies. ”

  “They do not know everything,” he said. “Or see everything. You have encountered them, Percy. You know this is true. A clever man can hide quite a long time, and I have buried myself very deep. Only my greatest enemy has kept after me, and even him I have thwarted. ”

  “You mean Minos,” I said. 

  Daedalus nodded. “He hunts for me relentlessly. Now that he is a judge of the dead, he would like nothing better than for me to come before him so he can punish me for my crimes. After the daughters of Cocalus killed him, Minos’s ghost began torturing me in my dreams. He promised that he would hunt me down. I did the only thing I could. I retreated from the world completely. I descended into my Labyrinth. I decided this would be my ultimate accomplishment: I would cheat death. ”

  “And you did,” Annabeth marveled, “for two thousand years. ” She sounded kind of impressed, despite the horrible things Daedalus had done. 

  Just then a loud bark echoed from the corridor. I heard the ba-BUMP, ba-BUMP, ba-BUMP of huge paws, and Mrs. O’Leary bounded into the workshop. She licked my face once, then almost knocked Daedalus over with an enthusiastic leap. 

  “There is my old friend!” Daedalus said, scratching Mrs. O’Leary behind the ears. “My only companion all these long lonely years. ”

  “You let her save me,” I said. “That whistle actually worked. ”

  Daedalus nodded. “Of course it did, Percy. You have a good heart. And I knew Mrs. O’Leary liked you. I wanted to help you. Perhaps I—I felt guilty, as well. ”

  “Guilty about what?”

  “That your quest would be in vain. ”

  “What?” Annabeth said. “But you can still help us. You have to! Give us Ariadne’s string so Luke can’t get it. ”

  “Yes…the string. I told Luke that the eyes of a clear-sighted mortal are the best guide, but he did not trust me. He was so focused on the idea of a magic item. And the string works. It’s not as accurate as your mortal friend here, perhaps. But good enough. Good enough. ”

  “Where is it?” Annabeth said. 

  “With Luke,” Daedalus said sadly. “I’m sorry, my dear. But you are several hours too late. ”

  With a chill I realized why Luke had been in such a good mood in the arena. He’d already gotten the string from Daedalus. His only obstacle had been the arena master, and I’d taken care of that for him by killing Antaeus. 

  “Kronos promised me freedom,” Quintus said. “Once Hades is overthrown, he will set me over the Underworld. I will reclaim my son Icarus. I will make things right with poor young Perdix. I will see Minos’s soul cast into Tartarus, where it cannot bother me again. And I will no longer have to run from death. ”

  “That’s your brilliant idea?” Annabeth yelled. “You’re going to let Luke destroy your camp, kill hundreds of demigods, and then attack Olympus? You’re going to bring down the entire world so you can get what you want?”

  “Your cause is doomed, my dear. I saw that as soon as I began to work at your camp. There is no way you can hold back the might of Kronos. ”

  “That’s not true!” she cried. 

  “I am doing what I must, my dear. The offer was too sweet to refuse. I’m sorry. ”

  Annabeth pushed over an easel. Architectural drawing scattered across the floor. “I used to respect you. You were my hero! You—you built amazing things. You solved problems. Now…I don’t know what you are. Children of Athena are supposed to be wise, not just clever. Maybe you are just a machine. You should have died two thousand years ago. ”

  Instead of getting mad, Daedalus hung his head. “You should go warn your camp. Now that Luke has the string—”

  Suddenly Mrs. O’Leary pricked up her ears. 

  “Someone’s coming!” Rachel warned. 

  The doors of the workshop burst open, and Nico was pushed inside, his hands in chains. Then Kelli and two Laistrygonians marched in behind him, followed by the ghost of Minos. He looked almost solid now—a pale bearded king with cold eyes and tendrils of Mist coiling off his robes. 

He fixed his gaze on Daedalus. “There you are, my old friend. ”

  Daedalus’s jaw clenched. He looked at Kelli. “What is the meaning of this?”

  “Luke sends his compliments,” Kelli said. “He thought you might like to see your old employer Minos. ”

  “This was not part of our agreement,” Daedalus said. 

  “No indeed,” Kelli said. “But we already have what we want from you, and we have other agreements to honor. Minos required something else from us, in order to turn over this fine young demigod. ” She ran a finger under Nico’s chin. “He’ll be quite useful. And all Minos asked in return was your head, old man. ”

  Daedalus paled. “Treachery. ”

  “Get used to it,” Kelli said. 

  “Nico,” I said. “Are you okay?”

  He nodded morosely. “I—I’m sorry, Percy. Minos told me you were in danger. He convinced me to go back into the maze. ”

  “You were trying to help us?”

  “I was tricked,” he said. “He tricked all of us. ”

  I glared at Kelli. “Where’s Luke? Why isn’t he here?”

  The she-demon smiled like we were sharing a private joke. “Luke is…busy. He is preparing for the assault. But don’t worry. We have more friends on the way. And in the meantime, I think I’ll have a wonderful snack!” Her hands changed into claws. Her hair burst into flame and her legs turned to their true form—one donkey leg, one bronze. 

  “Percy,” Rachel whispered, “the wings. Do you think—”

  “Get them,” I said. “I’ll try to buy you some time. ”

  And with that, all Hades broke loose. Annabeth and I charged at Kelli. The giants came right at Daedalus, but Mrs. O’Leary leaped to his defense. 

  Nico got pushed to the ground and struggled with his chains while the spirit of Minos wailed, “Kill the inventor! Kill him!”

  Rachel grabbed the wings off the wall. Nobody paid her any attention. Kelli slashed at Annabeth. I tried to get to her, but the demon was quick and deadly. She turned over tables, smashed inventions, and wouldn’t let us get close. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mrs. O’Leary chomp her fangs into a giant’s arm. He wailed in pain and flung her around, trying to shake her. Daedalus grabbed for his sword, but the second giant smashed the workbench with his fist, and the sword went flying. A clay jar of Greek fire broke on the floor and began to burn, green flames spreading quickly. 

  “To me!” Minos cried. “Spirits of the dead!” He raised his ghostly hands and the air began to hum. 

  “No!” Nico cried. He was on his feet now. He’d somehow managed to remove his shackles. 

  “You do not control me, young fool,” Minos sneered. “All this time, I have been controlling you! A soul for a soul, yes. But it is not your sister who will return from the dead. It is I, as soon as I slay the inventor!”

  Spirits began to appear around Minos—shimmering forms that slowly multiplied, solidifying into Cretan soldiers. 

  “I am the son of Hades,” Nico insisted. “Be gone!”

  Minos laughed. “You have no power over me. I am the lord of spirits! The ghost king!”

  “No. ” Nico drew his sword. “I am. ”

  He stabbed his black blade into the floor, and it cleaved through the stone like butter. 

  “Never!” Minos’s form rippled. “I will not—”

  The ground rumbled. The windows cracked and shattered to pieces, letting in a blast of fresh air. A fissure opened in the stone floor of the workshop, and Minos and all his spirits were sucked into the void with a horrible wail. 

  The bad news: the fight was still going on all around us, and I let myself get distracted. Kelli pounced on me so fast I had no time to defend myself. My sword skittered away and I hit my head hard on a worktable as I fell. My eyesight went fuzzy. I couldn’t raise my arms. 

  Kelli laughed. “You will taste wonderful!”

  She bared her fangs. Then suddenly her body went rigid. Her red eyes widened. She gasped, “No…school…spirit…”

  And Annabeth took her knife out of the empousa’s back. With an awful screech, Kelli dissolved into yellow vapor. 

  Annabeth helped me up. I still felt dizzy, but we had no time to lose. Mrs. O’Leary and Daedalus were still locked in combat with the giants, and I could hear shouting in the tunnel. More monsters were coming toward the workshop. 

  “We have to help Daedalus!” I said. 

  “No time,” Rachel said. “Too many coming!”

  She’d already fitted herself with wings and was working on Nico, who looked pale and sweaty from his struggle with Minos. The wings grafted instantly to his back and arms. 

  “Now you!” she told me. 

  In seconds, Nico, Annabeth, Rachel, and I had fitted ourselves with coppery wings. Already I could feel myself being lifted by the wind coming through the window. Greek fire was burning the tables and furniture, spreading up the circular stairs. 

  “Daedalus!” I yelled. “Come on!”

  He was cut in a hundred places—but he was bleeding golden oil instead of blood. He’d found his sword and was using part of a smashed table as a shield against the giants. “I won’t leave Mrs. O’Leary!” he said. “Go!”

  There was no time to argue. Even if we stayed, I wasn’t sure we could help. 

  “None of us know how to fly!” Nico protested. 

  “Great time to find out,” I said. And together, the four of us jumped out the window into open sky. 

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