- The Hidden Oracle
I couldn’t allow the woods to confuse me again. I would not let anyone else fall into its trap.
Kayla didn’t seem affected. I grabbed her hand to make sure we stayed together. We only had to go a few steps, but it felt like a boot camp run before we reached Sherman Yang.
“Sherman.” I grabbed his arm.
He tried to shake me off. Fortunately, he was sluggish and dazed, or I would have ended up with scars of my own. Kayla helped me turn him around.
His eyes twitched as if he were in some sort of half-conscious REM sleep. “No. Ellis. Got to find him. Miranda. My girl.”
I glanced at Kayla for explanation.
“Ellis is from the Ares cabin,” she said. “He’s one of the missing.”
“Yes, but Miranda, his girl?”
“Sherman and she started dating about a week ago.”
Sherman struggled to free himself. “Find her.”
“Miranda is right over here, my friend,” I lied. “We’ll take you there.”
He stopped fighting. His eyes rolled until only the whites were visible. “Over…here?”
“Yes, it’s me,” I said. “I’m Ellis.”
“I love you, man,” Sherman sobbed.
Still, it took all our strength to lead him out of the trees. I was reminded of the time Hephaestus and I had to wrestle the god Hypnos back to bed after he sleepwalked into Artemis’s private chambers on Mount Olympus. It’s a wonder any of us escaped without silver arrows pincushioning our posteriors.
We led Sherman to the archery range. Between one step and the next, he blinked his eyes and became his normal self. He noticed our hands on his arms and shook us off.
“What is this?” he demanded.
“You were walking into the woods,” I said.
He gave us his drill sergeant glower. “No, I wasn’t.”
Kayla reached for him, then obviously thought better about it. Archery would be difficult with broken fingers. “Sherman, you were in some kind of trance. You were muttering about Ellis and Miranda.”
Along Sherman’s cheek, his zigzag scar darkened to bronze. “I don’t remember that.”
“Although you didn’t mention the other missing camper,” I added helpfully. “Cecil?”
“Why would I mention Cecil?” Sherman growled. “I can’t stand the guy. And why should I believe you?”
“The woods had you,” I said. “The trees were pulling you in.”
Sherman studied the forest, but the trees looked normal again. The lengthening shadows and swaying green hands were gone.
“Look,” Sherman said, “I have a head injury, thanks to your annoying friend Meg. If I was acting strange, that’s why.”
Kayla frowned. “But—”
“Enough!” Sherman snapped. “If either of you mention this, I’ll make you eat your quivers. I don’t need people questioning my self-control. Besides, I’ve got the race to think about.”
He brushed past us.
“Sherman,” I called.
He turned, his fists clenched.
“The last thing you remember,” I said, “before you found yourself with us…what were you thinking about?”
For a microsecond, the dazed look passed across his face again. “About Miranda and Ellis…like you said. I was thinking…I wanted to know where they were.”
“You were asking a question, then.” A blanket of dread settled over me. “You wanted information.”
At the dining pavilion, the conch horn blew.
Sherman’s expression hardened. “Doesn’t matter. Drop it. We’ve got lunch now. Then I’m going to destroy you all in the three-legged death race.”
As threats went, I had heard worse, but Sherman made it sound intimidating enough. He marched off toward the pavilion.
Kayla turned to me. “What just happened?”
“I think I understand now,” I said. “I know why those campers went missing.”
Tied to McCaffrey
We might end up in Lima
Harley is evil
NOTE TO SELF: trying to reveal important information just before a three-legged death race is not a good idea.
No one would listen to me.
Despite last night’s grumbling and complaining, the campers were now buzzing with excitement. They spent their lunch hour frantically cleaning weapons, lacing armor straps, and whispering among one another to form secret alliances. Many tried to convince Harley, the course architect, to share hints about the best strategies.