The Serpents Shadow Read online





  Also by Rick Riordan

  Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book One:

  The Lightning Thief

  Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book Two:

  The Sea of Monsters

  Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book Three:

  The Titan’s Curse

  Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book Four:

  The Battle of the Labyrinth

  Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book Five:

  The Last Olympian

  _______________

  The Kane Chronicles, Book One:

  The Red Pyramid

  The Kane Chronicles, Book Two:

  The Throne of Fire

  _______________

  The Heroes of Olympus, Book One:

  The Lost Hero

  The Heroes of Olympus, Book Two:

  The Son of Neptune

  Text copyright © 2012 by Rick Riordan

  Hieroglyph art by Michelle Gengaro-Kokmen

  All rights reserved. Published by Disney • Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information, address Disney • Hyperion Books, 114 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10011-5690.

  ISBN 978-1-4231-6327-5

  Visit www.disneyhyperionbooks.com

  To three great editors who shaped my writing career: Kate Miciak, Jennifer Besser, and Stephanie Lurie—the magicians who have brought my words to life

  Table of Contents

  Warning

  1. We Crash and Burn a Party

  2. I Have a Word with Chaos

  3. We Win a Box Full of Nothing

  4. I Consult the Pigeon of War

  5. A Dance with Death

  6. Amos Plays with Action Figures

  7. I Get Strangled by an Old Friend

  8. My Sister, The Flowerpot

  9. Zia Breaks Up a Lava Fight

  10. “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” Goes Horribly Wrong

  11. Don't Worry, Be Hapi

  12. Bulls with Freaking Laser Beams

  13. A Friendly Game of Hide-and-Seek (with Bonus Points for Painful Death!)

  14. Fun with Split Personalities

  15. I Become a Purple Chimpanzee

  16. Sadie Rides Shotgun (Worst. Idea. Ever.)

  17. Brooklyn House Goes to War

  18. Death Boy to the Rescue

  19. Welcome to the Fun House of Evil

  20. I Take a Chair

  21. The Gods Are Sorted; My Feelings Are Not

  22. The Last Waltz (for Now)

  GLOSSARY

  EGYPTIAN GODS AND GODDESSES MENTIONED IN THE SERPENT’S SHADOW

  WARNING

  This is a transcript of an audio recording. Twice before, Carter and Sadie Kane have sent me such recordings, which I transcribed as The Red Pyramid and The Throne of Fire. While I’m honored by the Kanes’ continued trust, I must advise you that this third account is their most troubling yet. The tape arrived at my home in a charred box perforated with claw and teeth marks that my local zoologist could not identify. Had it not been for the protective hieroglyphs on the exterior, I doubt the box would have survived its journey. Read on, and you will understand why.

  S A D I E

  1. We Crash and Burn a Party

  SADIE KANE HERE.

  If you’re listening to this, congratulations! You survived Doomsday.

  I’d like to apologize straightaway for any inconvenience the end of the world may have caused you. The earthquakes, rebellions, riots, tornadoes, floods, tsunamis, and of course the giant snake who swallowed the sun—I’m afraid most of that was our fault. Carter and I decided we should at least explain how it happened.

  This will probably be our last recording. By the time you’ve heard our story, the reason for that will be obvious.

  Our problems started in Dallas, when the fire-breathing sheep destroyed the King Tut exhibit.

  That night the Texas magicians were hosting a party in the sculpture garden across the street from the Dallas Museum of Art. The men wore tuxedos and cowboy boots. The women wore evening dresses and hairdos like explosions of candy floss.

  (Carter says it’s called cotton candy in America. I don’t care. I was raised in London, so you’ll just have to keep up and learn the proper way of saying things.)

  A band played old-timey country music on the pavilion. Strings of fairy lights glimmered in the trees. Magicians did occasionally pop out of secret doors in the sculptures or summon sparks of fire to burn away pesky mosquitoes, but otherwise it seemed like quite a normal party.

  The leader of the Fifty-first Nome, JD Grissom, was chatting with his guests and enjoying a plate of beef tacos when we pulled him away for an emergency meeting. I felt bad about that, but there wasn’t much choice, considering the danger he was in.

  “An attack?” He frowned. “The Tut exhibit has been open for a month now. If Apophis was going to strike, wouldn’t he have done it already?”

  JD was tall and stout, with a rugged, weathered face, feathery red hair, and hands as rough as bark. He looked about forty, but it’s hard to tell with magicians. He might have been four hundred. He wore a black suit with a bolo tie and a large silver Lone Star belt buckle, like a Wild West marshal.

  “Let’s talk on the way,” Carter said. He started leading us toward the opposite side of the garden.

  I must admit my brother acted remarkably confident.

  He was still a monumental dork, of course. His nappy brown hair had a chunk missing on the left side where his griffin had given him a “love bite,” and you could tell from the nicks on his face that he hadn’t quite mastered the art of shaving. But since his fifteenth birthday he’d shot up in height and put on muscle from hours of combat training. He looked poised and mature in his black linen clothes, especially with that khopesh sword at his side. I could almost imagine him as a leader of men without laughing hysterically.

  [Why are you glaring at me, Carter? That was quite a generous description.]

  Carter maneuvered around the buffet table, grabbing a handful of tortilla chips. “Apophis has a pattern,” he told JD. “The other attacks all happened on the night of the new moon, when darkness is greatest. Believe me, he’ll hit your museum tonight. And he’ll hit it hard.”

  JD Grissom squeezed around a cluster of magicians drinking champagne. “These other attacks…” he said. “You mean Chicago and Mexico City?”

  “And Toronto,” Carter said. “And…a few others.”

  I knew he didn’t want to say more. The attacks we’d witnessed over the summer had left us both with nightmares.

  True, full-out Armageddon hadn’t come yet. It had been six months since the Chaos snake Apophis had escaped from his Underworld prison, but he still hadn’t launched a large-scale invasion of the mortal world as we’d expected. For some reason, the serpent was biding his time, settling for smaller attacks on nomes that seemed secure and happy.

  Like this one, I thought.

  As we passed the pavilion, the band finished their song. A pretty blond woman with a fiddle waved her bow at JD.

  “Come on, sweetie!” she called. “We need you on steel guitar!”

  He forced a smile. “Soon, hon. I’ll be back.”

  We walked on. JD turned to us. “My wife, Anne.”

  “Is she also a magician?” I asked.

  He nodded, his expression turning dark. “These attacks. Why are you so sure Apophis will strike here?”

  Carter’s mouth was full of tortilla chips, so his response was, “Mhm-hmm.”

  “He’s