“I’m not a monster,” I managed.

To beat this guy, I’d have to use more than just a sword. The problem was, I didn’t want to hurt him. Despite the fact that he was trying to chop me into a Kane-flavored barbecue sandwich, I still felt bad for starting the fight.

He swung again, and I had no choice. I used my wand this time, catching his blade in the crook of ivory and channeling a burst of magic straight up his arm. The air between us flashed and crackled. Camper Boy stumbled back. Blue sparks of sorcery popped around him, as if my spell didn’t know quite what to do with him. Who was this guy?

“You said the crocodile was yours. ” Camper Boy scowled, anger blazing in his green eyes. “You lost your pet, I suppose. Maybe you’re a spirit from the Underworld, come back through the Doors of Death?”

Before I could even process that question, he thrust out his free hand. The river reversed course and swept me off my feet.

I managed to get up, but I was getting really tired of drinking swamp water. Meanwhile Camper Boy charged again, his sword raised for the kill. In desperation, I dropped my wand. I thrust my hand into my backpack, and my fingers closed around the piece of rope.

I threw it and yelled the command word “TAS!”—Bind!—just as Camper Boy’s bronze blade cut into my wrist.

My whole arm erupted in agony. My vision tunneled. Yellow spots danced before my eyes. I dropped my sword and clutched my wrist, gasping for breath, everything forgotten except the excruciating pain.

In the back of my mind, I knew Camper Boy could kill me easily. For some reason he didn’t. A wave of nausea made me double over.

I forced myself to look at the wound. There was a lot of blood, but I remembered something Jaz had told me once in the infirmary at Brooklyn House: cuts usually looked a lot worse than they were. I hoped that was true. I fished a piece of papyrus out of my pack and pressed it against the wound as a makeshift bandage.

The pain was still horrible, but the nausea became more manageable. My thoughts started to clear, and I wondered why I hadn’t been skewered yet.

Camper Boy was sitting nearby in waist-deep water, looking dejected. My magic rope had wrapped around his sword arm, then lashed his hand to the side of his head. Unable to let go of his sword, he looked like he had a single reindeer antler sprouting next to his ear. He tugged at the rope with his free hand, but of course he couldn’t make any progress.

Finally he just sighed and glared at me. “I’m really starting to hate you. ”

“Hate me?” I protested. “I’m gushing blood here! And you started all this by calling me a half-blood!”

“Oh, please. ” Camper Boy rose unsteadily, his sword antenna making him top-heavy. “You can’t be mortal. If you were, my sword would’ve passed right through you. If you’re not a spirit or a monster, you’ve got to be a half-blood. A rogue demigod from Kronos’s army, I’d guess. ”

Most of what this guy said, I didn’t understand. But one thing sank in.

“So when you said ‘half-blood’…”

He stared at me like I was an idiot. “I meant demigod. Yeah. What did you think I meant?”

I tried to process that. I’d heard the term demigod before, but it wasn’t an Egyptian concept. Maybe this guy was sensing that I was bound to Horus, that I could channel the god’s power…but why did he describe everything so strangely?

“What are you?” I demanded. “Part combat magician, part water elementalist? What nome are you with?”

The kid laughed bitterly. “Dude, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t hang out with gnomes. Satyrs, sometimes. Even Cyclopes. But not gnomes. ”

The blood loss must have been making me dizzy. His words bounced around in my head like lottery balls: Cyclopes, satyrs, demigods, Kronos. Earlier he’d mentioned Ares. That was a Greek god, not Egyptian.

I felt like the Duat was opening underneath me, threatening to pull me into the depths. Greek…not Egyptian.

An idea started forming in my mind. I didn’t like it. In fact, it scared the holy Horus out of me.

Despite all the swamp water I’d swallowed, my throat felt dry. “Look,” I said, “I’m sorry about hitting you with that fist spell. It was an accident. But the thing I don’t understand…it should have killed you. It didn’t. That doesn’t make sense. ”

“Don’t sound so disappointed,” he muttered. “But while we’re on the subject, you should be dead too. Not many people can fight me that well. And my sword should have vaporized your crocodile. ”

/> “For the last time, it’s not my crocodile. ”

“Okay, whatever. ” Camper Boy looked dubious. “The point is, I stuck that crocodile pretty good, but I just made it angry. Celestial bronze should’ve turned it to dust. ”

“Celestial bronze?”

Our conversation was cut short by a scream from the nearby subdivision—the terrified voice of a kid.

Tags: Rick Riordan Percy Jackson & Kane Chronicles Crossover Fantasy
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