Выбрать главу

Sadie got up and kissed Amos on the forehead. “Leave it to us, Uncle. I’ve got a plan.”

“That,” I said, “sounds like very bad news.”

Amos managed a smile. He squeezed Sadie’s hand, then got up and ruffled my hair as he headed inside.

I took another bite of my pancakes and wondered why-on such a great morning-I still felt sad, and a little incomplete. I suppose with so many things suddenly getting better, the things that were still missing hurt even worse.

Sadie picked at her scrambled eggs. “I suppose it would be selfish to ask for more.”

I stared at her, and I realized we were thinking the same thing. When the gods had said a gift…Well, you can hope for things, but as Sadie said, I guess you can’t get greedy.

“It’s going to be hard to travel if we need to go recruiting,” I said cautiously. “Two unaccompanied minors.”

Sadie nodded. “No Amos. No responsible adult. I don’t think Khufu counts.”

And that’s when the gods completed their gift.

A voice from the doorway said, “Sounds like you have a job opening.”

I turned and felt a thousand pounds of grief drop from my shoulders. Leaning against the door in a leopard-spotted jumpsuit was a dark-haired lady with golden eyes and two very large knives.

“Bast!” Sadie cried.

The cat goddess gave us a playful smile, as if she had all kinds of trouble in mind. “Someone call for a chaperone?”

A few days later, Sadie had a long phone conversation with Gran and Grandpa Faust in London. They didn’t ask to talk to me, and I didn’t listen in. When Sadie came back down to the Great Room, she had a faraway look in her eyes. I was afraid-very afraid-that she was missing London.

“Well?” I asked reluctantly.

“I told them we were all right,” she said. “They told me the police have stopped bothering them about the explosion at the British Museum. Apparently the Rosetta Stone turned up unharmed.”

“Like magic,” I said.

Sadie smirked. “The police decided it might’ve been a gas explosion, some sort of accident. Dad’s off the hook, as are we. I could go home to London, they said. Spring term starts in a few weeks. My mates Liz and Emma have been asking about me.”

The only sound was the crackle of fire in the hearth. The Great Room suddenly seemed bigger to me, emptier.

At last I said, “What did you tell them?”

Sadie raised an eyebrow. “God, you’re thick sometimes. What do you think?”

“Oh.” My mouth felt like sandpaper. “I guess it’ll be good to see your friends and get back your old room, and-”

Sadie punched my arm. “Carter! I told them I couldn’t very well go home, because I already was home. This is where I belong. Thanks to the Duat, I can see my friends whenever I want. And besides, you’d be lost without me.”

I must’ve grinned like a fool, because Sadie told me to wipe the silly look off my face-but she sounded pleased about it. I suppose she knew she was right, for once. I would’ve been lost without her. [And no, Sadie, I can’t believe I just said that either.]

Just when things were settling down to a nice safe routine, Sadie and I embarked on our new mission. Our destination was a school that Sadie had seen in a dream. I won’t tell you which school, but Bast drove us a long way to get there. We recorded this tape along the way. Several times the forces of chaos tried to stop us. Several times we heard rumors that our enemies were starting to hunt down other descendants of the pharaohs, trying to thwart our plans.

We got to the school the day before the spring term started. The hallways were empty, and it was easy to slip inside. Sadie and I picked a locker at random, and she told me to set the combination. I summoned some magic and mixed around the numbers: 13/32/33. Hey, why mess with a good formula?

Sadie said a spell and the locker began to glow. Then she put the package inside and closed the door.

“Are you sure about this?” I asked.

She nodded. “The locker is partially in the Duat. It’ll store the amulet until the right person opens it.”

“But if the djed falls into the wrong hands-”

“It won’t,” she promised. “The blood of the pharaohs is strong. The right kids will find the amulet. If they figure out how to use it, their powers should awaken. We have to trust that the gods will guide them to Brooklyn.”

“We won’t know how to train them,” I argued. “No one has studied the path of the gods for two thousand years.”

“We’ll figure it out,” Sadie said. “We have to.”

“Unless Apophis gets us first,” I said. “Or Desjardins and the House of Life. Or unless Set breaks his word. Or a thousand other things go wrong.”

“Yes,” Sadie said with a smile. “Be fun, eh?”

We locked the locker and walked away.

Now we’re back at the Twenty-first Nome in Brooklyn.

We’re going to send out this tape to a few carefully chosen people and see if it gets published. Sadie believes in fate. If the story falls into your hands, there’s probably a reason. Look for the djed. It won’t take much to awaken your power. Then the trick is learning to use that power without dying.

As I said at the beginning: the whole story hasn’t happened yet. Our parents promised to see us again, so I know we’ll have to go back to the Land of the Dead eventually, which I think is fine with Sadie, as long as Anubis is there.

Zia is out there somewhere-the real Zia. I intend to find her.

Most of all, chaos is rising. Apophis is gaining strength. Which means we have to gain strength too-gods and men, united like in olden times. It’s the only way the world won’t be destroyed.

So the Kane family has a lot of work to do. And so do you.

Maybe you’ll want to follow the path of Horus or Isis, Thoth or Anubis, or even Bast. I don’t know. But whatever you decide, the House of Life needs new blood if we’re going to survive.

So this is Carter and Sadie Kane signing off.

Come to Brooklyn. We’ll be waiting.


Much of this story is based on fact, which makes me think that either the two narrators, Sadie and Carter, did a great deal of research…or they are telling the truth.

The House of Life did exist, and was an important part of Egyptian society for several millennia. Whether or not it still exists today-that is something I cannot answer. But it is undeniable that Egyptian magicians were famed throughout the ancient world, and many of the spells they could supposedly cast are exactly as described in this story.

The way the narrators portray Egyptian magic is also supported by archaeological evidence. Shabti, curved wands, and magicians’ boxes have survived, and can be viewed in many museums. All of the artifacts and monuments Sadie and Carter mention actually exist-with the possible exception of the red pyramid. There is a “Red Pyramid” at Giza, but it is only called that because the original white casing stones were stripped away, revealing the pink granite blocks underneath. In fact the pyramid’s owner, Senefru, would be horrified to learn his pyramid is now red, the color of Set. As for the magical red pyramid mentioned in the story, we can only hope that it has been destroyed.

Should further recordings fall into my hands, I will relay the information. Until then, we can only hope that Carter and Sadie are wrong in their predictions about the rise of chaos…

Rick Riordan