XXVII

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[KYRA]

KYRA WOKE UP on a couch, the kind you would find in a mall

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KYRA WOKE UP on a couch, the kind you would find in a mall. Then she looked around, realizing she was in a mall, "What the-" She sat up, wincing as her head throbbed and she heard shouting in the distance. The blonde quickly grabbed her bow and arrow charms and they grew to their life-size version before running off to the find the source, knowing her friends would be there.

"Jason, Leo, listen to me!" Kyra stopped to see Jason and Leo fighting each other while Piper yelled at them "Medea is charming you. It's part of her magic. You are best friends. Don't fight each other. Fight her!"

Kyra looked beside Piper and saw another woman. She wore an elegant black dress with diamond jewelry, and she looked like a retired fashion model, around fifty years old. The woman's long dark hair swept over one shoulder, and her face was gorgeous in that surreal super-model way—thin and haughty and cold, not quite human. With their long red-painted nails, her fingers looked more like talons

She turned back to her friends and noticed that they had stopped fighting. Jason blinked. "Leo, was I just about to stab you?"

"Something about my mother ... ?" Leo frowned, then turned toward the woman, Medea. "You ... you're working for Dirt Woman. You sent her to the machine shop." He lifted his arm. "Lady, I got a three-pound hammer with your name on it."

"Bah!" Medea sneered. "I'll simply collect payment another way."

She pressed one of the mosaic tiles on the floor, and the building rumbled. Jason swung his sword at Medea, but she dissolved into smoke and reappeared at the base of the escalator.

"You're slow, hero!" She laughed. "Take your frustration out on my pets!"

Before anyone could go after her, the giant bronze sundials at either end of the fountain swung open. Two snarling gold beasts—flesh-and-blood winged dragons—crawled out from the pits below. Each was the size of a camper van, maybe not large compared to Festus, but large enough.

"So that's what's in the kennels," Leo commented meekly.

The dragons spread their wings and hissed. Kyra could feel the heat coming off their glittering skin. One turned his angry orange eyes on her.

"Don't look them in the eye!" Jason warned them "They'll paralyze you."

"Indeed!" Medea was leisurely riding the escalator up, leaning against the handrail as she watched the fun. "These two dears have been with me a long time—sun dragons, you know, gifts from my grandfather Helios. They pulled my chariot when I left Corinth, and now they will be your destruction. Ta-ta!"

The dragons lunged. Leo and Jason charged to intercept. Piper was amazed how fearlessly the boys attacked—working like a team who had trained together for years.

Medea was almost to the second floor, where she'd be able to choose from a wide assortment of deadly appliances. "Oh, no, you don't," Piper growled and took off after her.

Kyra considered going after the woman too, but she was too far away. With a sigh, Kyra lined up her arrow and aimed for the dragons. She fired her arrows quickly, trying to keep them away from the boys.

She hit another dragon, barely scratching the scales on its hide. The large lizard turned towards her and roared, "Oh no." 

The dragon swiped at her and Kyra quickly ducked before running. It chased her throughout the department store before raising its claws and pinning her to the ground and her bow scattered. Kyra screamed in pain, looking off towards the side, remembering what Jason said would happen if she looked it in the eye.

"Jason, Kyra, help!" 

Kyra looked over at her friend, seeing one of the dragons had Leo pinned to the floor. It was baring its fangs, ready to snap. Jason was all the way across the room battling the other dragon, much too far away to assist the son of Hephaestus.

The dragon above her roared, its mouth reaching down to snap at her. The blonde reached over and grabbed her golden bow, conjuring a special arrow before aiming and firing it into the dragon's mouth. "Not today!"

The dragon backed away, crying out in pain as the arrow exploded in its mouth. Kyra quickly stood and ran over to help Leo. She distracted the dragon that was on top of him long enough for him to scurry away.

The blonde turned towards Jason and called out his name, "Duck!" She fired another arrow and it exploded once it made contact with the dragons. She ran over to the son of Zeus, "Are you okay?"

He looked at her with wide eyes, "Are you?"

She was about to answer when someone screamed, "You've doomed us all!" Medea screeched. Smoke was rolling across the carpet as the stain spread, throwing sparks and setting fires in the clothing racks. "You have only seconds before this concoction consumes everything and destroys the building. There's no time—"

CRASH! The stained glass ceiling splintered in a rain of multicolored shards, and Festus the bronze dragon dropped into the department store.

Jason pulled Kyra under him, protecting her from the shards of glass. The two watched as Festus flew in, snatching up a sun dragon in each claw. Kyra smiled and appreciated just how big and strong their metal friend was.

"That's my boy!" Leo yelled.

Festus flew halfway up the atrium, then hurled the sun dragons into the pits they'd come from. Leo raced to the fountain and pressed the marble tile, closing the sundials. They shuddered as the dragons banged against them, trying to get out, but for the moment they were contained.

The whole fourth floor was on fire now. The air filled with noxious gas. Even with the roof open, Kyra could feel the heat intensifying. Leo hopped onto Festus and Jason grabbed her waist, helping her onto the dragon's back before jumping on behind her.

 The bronze dragon flapped his mighty wings, snatched the two cages with the satyr and the storm spirits in his claws, which Kyra didn't seem to notice until now, and began to ascend.

The building rumbled. Fire and the smoke curled up the walls, melting the railings, turning the air to acid. Piper jumped off the railing,  plummeting for only a second before Kyra Jason caught her, hauling her aboard the dragon.

She heard Medea screaming in rage as they soared through the broken roof and over downtown Chicago. Then the department store exploded behind them.

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