XIII

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[KYRA]

THE BOREADS SHEATHED THEIR SWORDS and pulled smaller weapons from their belts

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THE BOREADS SHEATHED THEIR SWORDS and pulled smaller weapons from their belts. Then the Boreads switched them on, and Kyra realized they weren't weapons, they were flashlights with orange cones, like the ones traffic controller guys use on a runway. Cal and Zethes turned and swooped toward the hotel's tower.

Leo turned to his friends. "I love these guys. Follow them?"

The rest of them didn't look eager, "I guess," Jason decided. "We're here now. But I wonder why Boreas hasn't been kind to visitors."

"Pfft, he just hasn't met us." Leo whistled. "Festus, after those flashlights!"

As they got closer, Kyra worried they'd crash into the tower. The Boreads made right for the green-gabled peak and didn't slow down. Then a section of the slanted roof slid open, revealing an entrance easily wide enough for Festus. The top and bottom were lined with icicles like jagged teeth.

"This cannot be good," Jason muttered, wrapped his arms around Kyra's waist and she grabbed his hand that laid on her stomach. Leo spurred the dragon downward, and they swooped in after the Boreads.

They landed in what must have been the penthouse suite; but the place had been hit by a flash freeze. The entry hall had vaulted ceilings forty feet high, huge draped windows, and lush oriental carpets. A staircase at the back of the room led up to another equally massive hall, and more corridors branched off to the left and right. But the ice made the room's beauty a little frightening. 

When Kyra slid off the dragon, the carpet crunched under her converse. A fine layer of frost covered the furniture. The curtains didn't budge because they were frozen solid, and the ice-coated windows let in weird watery light from the sunset. Even the ceiling was furry with icicles. As for the stairs, Kyra was sure she'd slip and break her neck if she tried to climb them.

"Guys," Leo shivered from beside her, "fix the thermostat in here, and I would totally move in."

"Not me." Jason looked uneasily at the staircase, "Something feels wrong. Something up there ..."

Festus shuddered and snorted flames. Frost started to form on his scales.

"No, no, no." Zethes marched over, though how he could walk in those pointy leather shoes, Kyra had no idea. "The dragon must be deactivated. We can't have fire in here. The heat ruins my hair."

Festus growled and spun his drill-bit teeth, "'S'okay, boy." Leo turned to Zethes. "The dragon's a little touchy about the whole deactivation concept. But I've got a better solution."

"Destroy?" Cal suggested.

"No, man. You gotta stop with the destroy talk. Just wait."

"Leo," Piper said nervously, "what are you—"

"Watch and learn, beauty queen. When I was repairing Festus last night, I found all kinds of buttons. Some, you do not want to know what they do. But others ... Ah, here we go."

Leo hooked his fingers behind the dragon's left foreleg. He pulled a switch, and the dragon shuddered from head to toe. Everyone backed away as Festus folded like origami. His bronze plating stacked together. His neck and tail contracted into his body. His wings collapsed and his trunk compacted until he was a rectangular metal wedge the size of a suitcase.

Leo tried to lift it, but the thing weighed about six billion pounds. "Um ... yeah. Hold on. I think—aha."

He pushed another button. A handle flipped up on the top, and wheels clicked out on the bottom, "Ta-da!" he announced. "The world's heaviest carry-on bag!"

"That's impossible," Jason said. "Something that big couldn't—"

"Stop!" Zethes ordered. He and Cal both drew their swords and glared at Leo.

Leo raised his hands. "Okay ... what'd I do? Stay calm, guys. If it bothers you that much, I don't have to take the dragon as carry-on—"

"Who are you?" Zethes shoved the point of his sword against Leo's chest. "A child of the South Wind, spying on us?"

"What? No!" Leo said. "Son of Hephaestus. Friendly blacksmith, no harm to anyone!"

Cal growled. He put his face up to Leo's, and he definitely wasn't any prettier at point-blank, with his bruised eyes and bashed-in mouth. "Smell fire," he said. "Fire is bad."

"Oh." Leo's heart raced. "Yeah, well ... my clothes are kind of singed, and I've been working with oil, and—"

"No!" Zethes pushed Leo back at sword point. "We can smell fire, demigod. We assumed it was from the creaky dragon, but now the dragon is a suitcase. And I still smell fire ... on you."

If it hadn't been like three degrees in the penthouse, Leo would've started sweating. "Hey ... look ... I don't know—" He glanced at them desperately. "Guys, a little help?"

Jason already had his gold coin in his hand. He stepped forward, his eyes on Zethes. "Look, there's been a mistake. Leo isn't a fire guy. Tell them, Leo. Tell them you're not a fire guy."

"Um ..."

"Zethes?" Piper tried her dazzling smile again, though she looked a little too nervous and cold to pull it off. "We're all friends here. Put down your swords and let's talk."

"The girl is pretty," Zethes admitted, "and of course she cannot help being attracted to my amazingness; but sadly, I cannot romance her at this time." He poked his sword point farther into Leo's chest, and Leo could feel the frost spreading across his shirt, turning his skin numb.

"Destroy him now?" Cal asked his brother.

Zethes nodded. "Sadly, I think—"

"No," Kyra insisted, stepping forward. Her hand rested on her charm bracelet, ready to activate her bow and arrow and shoot at them,

"Leo's just a son of Hephaestus. He's no threat." Jason continued for her, pushing her behind him slightly, "Piper here is a daughter of Aphrodite. And Kyra is the daughter of Apollo. I'm the son of Zeus. We're on a peaceful ..." Jason's voice faltered because both Boreads had suddenly turned on him,

"What did you say?" Zethes demanded. "You are the son of Zeus?"

"Um ... yeah," Jason replied, "That's a good thing, right? My name is Jason."

Cal looked so surprised, he almost dropped his sword. "Can't be Jason," he stated. "Doesn't look the same."

Zethes stepped forward and squinted at Jason's face. "No, he is not our Jason. Our Jason was more stylish. Not as much as me—but stylish. Besides, our Jason died millennia ago."

"Wait," Jason paused, "Your Jason ... you mean the original Jason? The Golden Fleece guy?"

"Of course," Zethes said. "We were his crewmates aboard his ship, the Argo, in the old times, when we were mortal demigods. Then we accepted immortality to serve our father, so I could look this good for all time, and my silly brother could enjoy pizza and hockey."

"Hockey!" Cal agreed.

"But Jason—our Jason—he died a mortal death," Zethes finished, "You can't be him."

"I'm not," Jason agreed.

"So, destroy?" Cal asked. Clearly, the conversation was giving his two brain cells a serious workout.

"No," Zethes said regretfully. "If he is a son of Zeus, he could be the one we've been watching for."

"Watching for?" Leo asked. "You mean like in a good way: you'll shower him with fabulous prizes? Or watching for like in a bad way: he's in trouble?"

A girl's voice said, "That depends on my father's will."

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