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( sixteen. )


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"WOLVES," PIPER said. "They sound close."
Jason rose and summoned his sword. Leo and Coach Hedge got to their feet too.

Piper tried, but stumbled. Georgia caught her, and placed her blankets around her shoulders so she wouldn't freeze.

She reached a hand out to Jason. "Pick me up."

Jason didn't take her hand. "Stay there, both of you," Jason told her. "We'll protect you."

She gritted her teeth. She hated feeling helpless. She didn't want anyone to protect her. "No." She hissed. "I can protect myself."

She struggled to get to her feet, but managed to stand. Georgia ignored Jason's eyes, because she didn't think she'd be able to look at him when she was at her weakest.

She drew Reaper, and the blade glowed red in the darkness.

Then, just outside the firelight at the entrance of the cave, she saw a pair of red eyes glowing in dark. Georgia tried to remain calm.

More wolves edged into the firelight—black beasts bigger than Great Danes, with ice and snow caked on their fur. Their fangs gleamed, and their glowing red eyes looked disturbingly intelligent. The wolf in front was almost as tall as a horse, his mouth stained as if he'd just made a fresh kill.

Piper pulled her dagger out of its sheath.

Then Jason stepped forward and said something in Latin.

"How do you even know Latin?" Georgia said. "You're Greek."

Jason didn't answer her.

The alpha wolf curled his lip. The fur stood up along his spine. One of his lieutenants tried to advance, but the alpha wolf snapped at his ear. Then all of the wolves backed into the dark.

"Dude, I gotta study Latin." Leo's hammer shook in his hand. "What'd you say, Jason?"

Hedge cursed. "Whatever it was, it wasn't enough. Look."

The wolves were coming back, but the alpha wolf wasn't with them. They didn't attack. They waited—at least a dozen now, in a rough semicircle just
outside the firelight, blocking the cave exit.

The coach hefted his club. "Here's the plan. I'll kill them all, and you guys escape."

"Coach, they'll rip you apart," Piper said.

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