XXXVII

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[KYRA]

MOMENTS LATER, KYRA heard more wolves baying, but the sound was different—less threatening, more like hunting dogs on the scent

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MOMENTS LATER, KYRA heard more wolves baying, but the sound was different—less threatening, more like hunting dogs on the scent. A smaller white wolf burst into the cave, followed by two more.

Hedge asked, "Kill it?"

"No!" Piper replied, "Wait."

The wolves tilted their heads and studied the campers with huge golden eyes. A heartbeat later, their masters appeared: a troop of hunters in white-and-gray winter camouflage, at least half a dozen. All of them carried bows, with quivers of glowing silver arrows on their backs.

Their faces were covered with parka hoods, but clearly, they were all girls. Kyra knew who they were. Hunters of Artemis.

One, a little taller than the rest, crouched in the firelight and snatched up the arrow that had wounded Lycaon's hand, "So close." She turned to her companions. "Phoebe, stay with me. Watch the entrance. The rest of you, follow Lycaon. We can't lose him now. I'll catch up with you." The other hunters mumbled agreement and disappeared, heading after Lycaon's pack.

The girl in white turned toward them, her face still hidden in her parka hood. "We've been following that demon's trail for over a week. Is everyone all right? No one got bit?"

Jason stood frozen, staring at the girl. Kyra realized something about her voice sounded familiar. It was hard to pin down, but the way she spoke, the way she formed her words, reminded her of Jason.

"You're her," Kyra stepped forward, "You're Thalia."

The girl tensed. Kyra was afraid she might draw her bow, but instead, she pulled down her parka hood. Her hair was spiky black, with a silver tiara across her brow. Her face had a super-healthy glow to it, as if she were a little more than human, and her eyes were brilliant blue. She was the girl from Jason's photograph, no doubt about it.

"Do I know you?" Thalia asked.

Kyra took a breath. "This might be a shock, but—"

"Thalia." Jason stepped forward, his voice trembling. "I'm Jason, your brother."

Kyra watched as the siblings stared at each other. Then Thalia rushed forward and hugged him, "My Gods! She told me you were dead!" She gripped Jason's face and seemed to be examining everything about it. "Thank Artemis, it is you. That little scar on your lip—you tried to eat a stapler when you were two!"

Leo laughed and a smile was brought to Kyra's face, "Seriously?"

Hedge nodded like he approved of Jason's taste. "Staplers —excellent source of iron."

"W-wait," Jason stammered. "Who told you I was dead? What happened?"

At the cave entrance, one of the white wolves barked. Thalia looked back at the wolf and nodded, but she kept her hands on Jason's face, like she was afraid he might vanish. "My wolf is telling me I don't have much time, and she's right. But we have to talk. Let's sit."

Kyra did better than that. She collapsed. She would've cracked her head on the cave floor if Hedge hadn't caught her.

Thalia rushed over. "What's wrong with her? Ah—never mind. I see. Hypothermia." She frowned at the satyr. "Don't you know nature healing?"

Hedge scoffed. "Why do you think she looks this good? Can't you smell the Gatorade?"

Thalia looked at Leo for the first time, and of course it was an accusatory glare, like Why did you let the goat be a doctor? As if that was Leo's fault.

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