Chapters are released singly on Mondays (and sometimes Thursdays!), in the grand tradition of serial writers like Dickens and Twain. Add yourself to my email list (bottom of page) to get them in your in-box!
That night, I tried not to overthink Bax’s reaction. On one hand, he was right. It was a lot to process. I couldn’t take it personally.
But I didn’t have the luxury of time. I couldn’t wait for Bax to decide whether or not he believed I was a Muse. I had no choice but to believe in the unbelievable, or risk losing Troy forever.
And if Bax didn’t believe me, I’d have to move forward alone.
The Sibyl’s threat rang in my ears the rest of the school day, overpowering everything else. I didn’t hear Daria’s lunchtime chatter and couldn’t recall Nyx’s pettiness on the volleyball court. As I left practice to meet Bax at the front gate, the Sibyl’s words continued to torment me.
I will send everything you love to the Underworld!
That night, my dreams were a jumble of nightmares.
Troy stood behind a wavering hologram of the words of my destiny, flanked by faceless attackers in black robes.
“Read it or they’ll kill me!” he shouted.
I squeezed my eyes tighter, waiting for Mercury to grab me, for the weight of my punishment.
The voice wasn’t as deep and gravelly as Mercury’s, but still I shivered as I opened one eye, shoulders lifted in fear.
In my room, I shoved my homework to the side and stared at the wall.
Calliope’s earrings twitched. Get Notebook 19.
My grandma’s “gift” was starting to feel like a curse. Why had I been condemned to obey the wishes of some ancient jewelry?
I don’t remember how long I stood in front of the faded vision, grasping for my mother’s soul, or how I stopped crying. Eventually, Mercury landed the bus with a bump in front of Franco’s produce stand and reversed the calming spell with a wave of his hand. The other students woke as though from a long nap and lazily gathered their things.
I looked back at the messenger of the Gods. With a humble tip of his driver’s cap, Mercury said, It is your destiny, Eden, not your burden. ..
As the bus soared in and out of clouds on its magic autopilot, Mercury gathered a ball of gold dust in his hands, just as my grandmother had done, and released it into the air.
A vision appeared between us…
My heart was still pounding as I entered the gym and expected a major backlash from Nyx. The team was in the middle of warm-ups and everyone looked up when I jogged to the back. Nyx and I made eye contact, but her ice queen glare held no hint of our locker room confrontation or of the arrow she’d barely missed. Somehow, that made me even angrier. For a split second, I wished that my arrow, gold dust or not, had pierced her heart…
Right before school let out, I stood beside my school locker, still shaking. I had five minutes to get to volleyball practice, but I felt paralyzed. The only thing I should have been worrying about was finding my brother, and even I knew it would be a longshot using coordinates scratched onto a leaf. But instead, I was wondering how to tell my dad I was the number one suspect for stealing an ancient artifact.
Students were already clustered on lunch benches in the MPR, chattering nervously. Miss DiPaola and Dr. Williams stood onstage with Principal Fitzpatrick, a couple of naval officers and Italian officials in dark suits. Captain Baxter stood at the very front, casting a stern eye over each of us as we entered.
Two tables were set up in front of the stage, supervised by two grim-faced servicemembers in khaki uniforms. On the floor in front of each table was a machine that looked like a scale, with a cord connected to a laptop. The clerks sat behind efficiently-stacked white paper, pens and ink pads.
Across the room, Shawna sat with a group of juniors from Troy’s history class. She locked her big eyes on me and mouthed, “What happened?”
The cafeteria was packed, but I couldn’t think clearly after my run-in with Nyx. Every squeaky step of her red leather shoes was an irritating reminder of her smug face. Why was she so hell-bent on making my life miserable?
Find Bax, my earrings pleaded…
By the time Monday morning rolled around, I was hardly enthusiastic about going back to school, but there was no reason to stay home. My grandmother had stayed in her room all weekend with her mysterious silence, avoiding my questions. Meanwhile, my dad was a shadow, walking around the house with his phone attached to his ear, muttering, “How can a six-foot-tall kid just vanish?”
Unable to sleep but equally unable to wake up, I tossed and turned in a purgatory of dreams. The black robes swarmed my brother and pulled Troy into the fiery pit, then Calliope and Apollo flirted without consequence, and on and on, in a maddening loop. The firefly’s taunts buzzed around my head like a soundtrack, and each dream was rounded by more restless slumber.
I closed the curtains and switched on Troy’s lamp. Several old books lay scattered across the desk, their spines flattened so they remained open, their covers overlapping. A small black notebook, a pencil wedged inside its pages, rested on the right side of the desk.
For most people, this might not even register as odd.
I peered through the back window at the entrance to the Pozzuoli amphitheater. The school bus was gone, replaced by navy blue polizia sedans, red-striped carabinieri cruisers and camouflaged Humvees. Armed military guards were positioned evenly around the property, rifles in hand. A helicopter circled overhead, casting shadows over the limbless statues and decrepit arches of the coliseum.
Cruel reality seeped in:
They’re looking for Troy.
If you want to receive Muse Warrior chapters as they’re released, add your email address below and click the button. Thank you!