I was in my room at Lotus, listening to an awesome song, when it appeared. "'Here's to Never Growing Up'. They
The Ghost King
have no idea." I laughed and put up my IPod. But there was something sitting on the shelf I was almost sure hadn't been there before.

"What in the..." I picked up a little plastic box. "A tape? Who has tape recorders anymore?" I shook my head, but summoned one and started the tape.

Carter here. Look, we dont have time for long introductions. I need to tell this story quickly, or we're all going to die.

Wait to start on a cheerful note.

If you didn't listen to our first recording, well... pleased to meet you:the Egyptian gods are running around loose in the modern world; a bunch of maicians called the House of Life are trying to stop them; everyone hates Sadie and me; and a big snake is about to swallow the sun and destroy the world. Ow! What was that for? Sadie just punched me. She says I'm going to scare you too much. I should back up, slow down, and start at the beggining. Fine. But personally, I think you should be scared.

I was speechless. The Egyptian gods had been banished and imprisoned since before I was born. But by the time I finished the recording, I was basically having a heart attack. I'm not going to write it all down (see the Kane Chronicles: Throne of Fire) but this basically sums it up: Desjardins and Iskandar were dead and the House of Life was tearing itself apart (which I wasn't exactly distraught about), there was a group of renegade magicians in New York lead by two part-time gods and in desperate need of magical assistance, and lastly there was an attractive godboy of death out there who's description eerily matched that of another death-related boy I knew.

I put up the tape. I thought about maybe going to help Carter and Sadie. They seemed alright.

Maybe later I decided.

I tried to flash to camp again, but then that obscure deity acted up again. Because I came up looking at a boy being attacked by pigeons.

I couldn't see him very well through all the birds, but I could guess who it was from the way he was fighting. Dark energy rolled off of him in waves, disintegrating the birds with a touch, but there must have been thousands of them. He could barely keep them at bay with his black sword. I shut my eyes tight and concentrated. I bright light shined through my eyelids. I opened my eyes and saw the evil pigeons had been incinerated. Nico stood ankle deep in ash, looking confused. He'd grown about an inch since the last time I saw him. His hair was a little longer, and he wore a silver skull ring.

"Stella?" He asked, finally noticing me.

"Hey, Nico." I said.

"Did you just do that?"


"Um, thanks, but-"

"Why am I hear? I have no idea. I started a portal spell and it just brought me here. Where is here, anyway?" I asked.

I guess he believed me, he answered, "New Orleans."

I nodded. "And, um...when?" I asked awkwardly.

"Early December, same year as the last time we met." He didn't seem to have a problem with clearing up my time frame.

"What were those things?"

Nico grimaced. "Stymphalian Birds. They just came out of no where." He looked nervously up at the sky, as if expecting another swarm of death birds. Is that what you say, swarm? Or flock, or... Oh, whatever.

"So, how did it go with your sister?"

Nico's face darkened, and I knew I'd asked a bad question. "She decided to stay in the Underworld."

I let the subject drop. "So, if you don't mind me asking, what's the story there?"

He looked, down, but said, "After we got out of Lotus, that lawyer guy sent us to a military school in Maine."

"You were in military school?"

"This was before I knew who I was." He continued his story. "A few months after that, Percy Jackson and his friends Annabeth and Thalia found us, along with the Hunters of Artemis. They were supposed to bring us both back to Camp Half-Blood, but Bianca joined the Hunters. Almost as soon as we got to Camp, they called a quest, and Percy and Bianca were both chosen to go. I asked him to protect her for me, but she died anyway. And then... well, I got really upset. I left Camp and got caught in the maze. The ghost of Minos led me through."

"You can talk to ghosts? "

"Ya" he replied like it should be the most obvious thing in the world. "Want to see something?" He asked, picking up a white plastic bag that was peppered with holes from the Stymphalian Birds, but otherwise fine.

"Uh, sure." I followed him to a graveyard. He snapped his fingers and two skeletons clawed there way out of the ground. They held shovels, and they started digging until we stood in front of a grave-sized ditch.

"Thank you. You are dismissed." The skeletons disassembled and sank into the ground. Nico emptied the contents of the plastic bag into the ditch-fast food and soda. He began chanting in ancient Greek. It took me a second to translate-a lot about the dead and memories and returning from the grave. The ditch filled to the rim with carbonated, carmel color liquid. Translucent figures began to appear around us. I couldn't blame them. I'd come back from the dead for Coke too.

The spirits rushed toward the pit, but Nico drew his sword and they cowered at the sight of it.

"One at a time." He said.

"You just summoned the dead." I said, awestruck. "That is AWESOME!"

Nico gave me a weird look, like no one had ever given that reaction to his power before. "So, wait, you have access to everyone who has ever died, ever, and you choose king Minos?"

"Who else is going to know how to navigate Daedalus's Labyrinth?"

"Um, Daedalus, Ariadne, Theseus,-"

"Daedalus was still alive, Ariadne's immortal, and I did talk to Theseus but he was no help."

"Oh." I kicked my heel back sheepishly.

For the rest of the night, we talked to dead people, talked to each other, and basically had an awesome time. After Nico dismissed the spirits, I got ready to leave. "So, I guess I'll just leave now." I began to glow orange.

"Or you could stay," Nico muttered, so quietly I barely heard him. "If you want.

I was sort of caught by surprise, but also really happy. "Sure, I'd like that."

The Half-Blood Magician, ch.16:My Mummy comes to Visit