The Battle of the Labyrinth
on.”
    Chris’s eyes were like a cornered rat’s—wild and desperate. “There’s no way out, Mary. No way out.”
    Then he caught a glimpse of me and made a strangled, terrified sound.
    “The son of Poseidon! He’s horrible!”
    I backed away, hoping Clarisse hadn’t seen me. I listened for her to come charging out and yell at me, but instead she just kept talking to Chris in a sad pleading voice, trying to get him to drink the nectar. Maybe she thought it was part of Chris’s hallucination, but… son of Poseidon? Chris had been looking at me, and yet why did I get the feeling he hadn’t been talking about me at all?
    And Clarisse’s tenderness—it had never even occurred to me that she might like someone; but the way she said Chris’s name…She’d known him before he changed sides. She’d known him a lot better than I realized. And now he was shivering in a dark basement, afraid to come out, and mumbling about someone named Mary. No wonder Clarisse didn’t want anything to do with the Labyrinth. What had happened to Chris in there?
    I heard a creak from above—like the attic door opening—and I ran for the front door. I needed to get out of that house.

    * * *

    “My dear,” Chiron said. “You made it.”
    Annabeth looked at me first. I couldn’t tell if she was trying to warn me, or if the look in her eyes was just plain fear. Then she focused on Quintus. “I got the prophecy. I will lead the quest to find Daedalus’s workshop.”
    Nobody cheered. I mean, we all liked Annabeth, and we wanted her to have a quest, but this one seemed insanely dangerous. After what I’d seen of Chris Rodriguez, I didn’t even want to think about Annabeth descending into that weird maze again.
    Chiron scraped a hoof on the dirt floor. “What did the prophecy say exactly, my dear? The wording is important.”
    Annabeth took a deep breath. “I, ah…well, it said, you shall delve in the darkness of the endless maze ...”
    We waited.
    “The dead, the traitor, and the lost one raise.”
    Grover perked up. “The lost one! That must mean Pan! That’s great!”
    “With the dead and the traitor,” I added. “Not so great.”
    “And?” Chiron asked. “What is the rest?”
    “You shall rise or fall by the ghost king’s hand,” Annabeth said, “the child of Athena’s final stand.”
    Everyone looked around uncomfortably. Annabeth was a daughter of Athena, and a final stand didn’t sound good.
    “Hey…we shouldn’t jump to conclusions,” Silena said. “Annabeth isn’t the only child of Athena, right?”
    “But who’s this ghost king?” Beckendorf asked.
    No one answered. I thought about the Iris-message I’d seen of Nico summoning spirits. I had a bad feeling the prophecy was connected to that.
    “Are there more lines?” Chiron asked. “The prophecy does not sound complete.”
    Annabeth hesitated. “I don’t remember exactly.”
    Chiron raised an eyebrow. Annabeth was known for her memory. She never forgot something she heard.
    Annabeth shifted on her bench. “Something about… Destroy with a hero’s final breath. ”
    “And?” Chiron asked.
    She stood. “Look, the point is, I have to go in. I’ll find the workshop and stop Luke. And…I need help.” She turned to me. “Will you come?”
    I didn’t even hesitate. “I’m in.”
    She smiled for the first time in days, and that made it all worthwhile.
    “Grover, you too? The wild god is waiting.”
    Grover seemed to forget how much he hated the underground. The line about the “lost one” had completely energized him. “I’ll pack extra recyclables for snacks!”
    “And Tyson,” Annabeth said. “I’ll need you too.”
    “Yay! Blow-things-up time!” Tyson clapped so hard he woke up Mrs. O’Leary, who was dozing in the corner.
    “Wait, Annabeth,” Chiron said. “This goes against the ancient laws. A hero is allowed only two companions.”
    “I need them all,” she insisted. “Chiron, it’s important.”
    I didn’t know

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