‘But it has to be connected to the other monster – the wolf and the lion heads. I got the impression they’d just come to life, too. They’d fused together and weren’t used to working as a team. They got on that train searching for something – probably this dog.’

Sadie fiddled with her silver pendant. ‘A monster with three heads: a l

ion, a wolf and a dog. All sticking out of … what was that conical thing? A shell? A torch?’

Annabeth’s head started to spin again. A torch.

She flashed on a distant memory – maybe a picture she’d seen in a book. She hadn’t considered that the monster’s cone might be something you could hold, something that belonged in a massive hand. But a torch wasn’t right …

‘It’s a sceptre,’ she realized. ‘I don’t remember which god held it, but the three-headed staff was his symbol. He was … Greek, I think, but he was also from somewhere in Egypt –’

‘Alexandria,’ Sadie guessed.

Annabeth stared at her. ‘How do you know?’

‘Well, granted, I’m not a history nut like my brother, but I have been to Alexandria. I recall something about it being the capital when the Greeks ruled Egypt. Alexander the Great, wasn’t it?’

Annabeth nodded. ‘That’s right. Alexander conquered Egypt and, after he died, his general Ptolemy took over. He wanted the Egyptians to accept him as their pharaoh, so he mashed the Egyptian gods and Greek gods together and made up new ones.’

‘Sounds messy,’ Sadie said. ‘I prefer my gods unmashed.’

‘But there was one god in particular … I can’t remember his name. The three-headed creature was at the top of his sceptre …’

‘Rather large sceptre,’ Sadie noted. ‘I don’t fancy meeting the bloke who could carry it around.’

‘Oh, gods.’ Annabeth sat up. ‘That’s it! The staff isn’t just trying to reassemble itself – it’s trying to find its master.’

Sadie scowled. ‘I’m not in favour of that at all. We need to make sure –’

The dog monster howled. The magical ropes exploded like a grenade, spraying the beach with golden shrapnel.

The blast knocked Sadie across the dunes like tumbleweed.

Annabeth slammed into the ice-cream truck. Her limbs turned to lead. All the air was forced out of her lungs.

If the dog creature had wanted to kill her, it could have, easily.

Instead, it bounded inland, disappearing in the weeds.

Annabeth instinctively grabbed for a weapon. Her fingers closed round Sadie’s curved wand. Pain made her gasp. The ivory burned like dry ice. Annabeth tried to let go, but her hand wouldn’t obey. As she watched, the wand steamed, changing form until the burn subsided and Annabeth held a Celestial bronze dagger – just like the one she’d carried for years.

She stared at the blade. Then she heard groaning from the nearby dunes.

‘Sadie!’ Annabeth staggered to her feet.

By the time she reached the magician, Sadie was sitting up, spitting sand out of her mouth. She had bits of seaweed in her hair, and her backpack was wrapped round one of her combat boots, but she looked more outraged than injured.

‘Stupid Fido!’ she snarled. ‘No dog biscuits for him!’ She frowned at Annabeth’s knife. ‘Where did you get that?’

‘Um … it’s your wand,’ Annabeth said. ‘I picked it up and … I don’t know. It just changed into the kind of dagger I usually use.’

‘Huh. Well, magic items do have a mind of their own. Keep it. I’ve got more at home. Now, which way did Fido go?’

‘Over there.’ Annabeth pointed with her new blade.

Sadie peered inland. Her eyes widened. ‘Oh … right. Towards the storm. That’s new.’

Annabeth followed her gaze. Past the subway tracks, she saw nothing except an abandoned apartment tower, fenced off and forlorn against the late afternoon sky. ‘What storm?’


Tags: Rick Riordan Percy Jackson & Kane Chronicles Crossover Fantasy
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