Home > The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1)(2)

The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1)(2)
Rick Riordan

Annabeth. Which meant the sandy-haired man was … Uncle Frederick?

I flashed back to the last family Thanksgiving we’d shared: Annabeth and me hiding in the library at Uncle Randolph’s town house, playing with dominoes while the adults yelled at each other downstairs.

You’re lucky you live with your momma. Annabeth stacked another domino on her miniature building. It was amazingly good, with columns in front like a temple. I’m going to run away.

I had no doubt she meant it. I was in awe of her confidence.

Then Uncle Frederick appeared in the doorway. His fists were clenched. His grim expression was at odds with the smiling reindeer on his sweater. Annabeth, we’re leaving.

Annabeth looked at me. Her grey eyes were a little too fierce for a first-grader’s. Be safe, Magnus.

With a flick of her finger, she knocked over her domino temple.

That was the last time I’d seen her.

Afterwards, my mom had been adamant: We’re staying away from your uncles. Especially Randolph. I won’t give him what he wants. Ever.

She wouldn’t explain what Randolph wanted, or what she and Frederick and Randolph had argued about.

You have to trust me, Magnus. Being around them … it’s too dangerous.

I trusted my mom. Even after her death, I hadn’t had any contact with my relatives.

Now, suddenly, they were looking for me.

Randolph lived in town, but, as far as I knew, Frederick and Annabeth still lived in Virginia. Yet here they were, passing out flyers with my name and photo on them. Where had they even got a photo of me?

My head buzzed so badly that I missed some of their conversation.

‘– to find Magnus,’ Uncle Frederick was saying. He checked his smartphone. ‘Randolph is at the city shelter in the South End. He says no luck. We should try the youth shelter across the park.’

‘How do we even know Magnus is alive?’ Annabeth asked miserably. ‘Missing for two years? He could be frozen in a ditch somewhere!’

Part of me was tempted to jump out of my hiding place and shout, TA-DA!

Even though it had been ten years since I’d seen Annabeth, I didn’t like seeing her distressed. But after so long on the streets I’d learned the hard way: you never walk into a situation until you understand what’s going on.

‘Randolph is sure Magnus is alive,’ said Uncle Frederick. ‘He’s somewhere in Boston. If his life is truly in danger …’

They set off towards Charles Street, their voices carried away by the wind.

I was shivering now, but it wasn’t from the cold. I wanted to run after Frederick, tackle him and demand to hear what was going on. How did Randolph know I was still in town? Why were they looking for me? How was my life in danger now more than on any other day?

But I didn’t follow them.

I remembered the last thing my mom ever told me. I’d been reluctant to use the fire escape, reluctant to leave her, but she’d gripped my arms and made me look at her. Magnus, run. Hide. Don’t trust anyone. I’ll find you. Whatever you do, don’t go to Randolph for help.

Then, before I’d made it out of the window, the door of our apartment had burst into splinters. Two pairs of glowing blue eyes had emerged from the darkness …

I shook off the memory and watched Uncle Frederick and Annabeth walk away, veering east towards the Common.

Uncle Randolph … For some reason, he’d contacted Frederick and Annabeth. He’d got them to Boston. All this time, Frederick and Annabeth hadn’t known that my mom was dead and I was missing. It seemed impossible, but, if it were true, why would Randolph tell them about it now?

Without confronting him directly, I could think of only one way to get answers. His town house was in Back Bay, an easy walk from here. According to Frederick, Randolph wasn’t home. He was somewhere in the South End, looking for me.

Since nothing started a day better than a little breaking and entering, I decided to pay his place a visit.

TWO

The Man with the Metal Bra

The family mansion sucked.

Oh, sure, you wouldn’t think so. You’d see the massive six-storey brownstone with gargoyles on the corners of the roof, stained-glass transom windows, marble front steps and all the other blah, blah, blah, rich-people-live-here details, and you’d wonder why I’m sleeping on the streets.

Two words: Uncle Randolph.

It was his house. As the oldest son, he’d inherited it from my grandparents, who died before I was born. I never knew much about the family soap opera, but there was a lot of bad blood between the three kids: Randolph, Frederick and my mom. After the Great Thanksgiving Schism, we never visited the ancestral homestead again. Our apartment was, like, half a mile away, but Randolph might as well have lived on Mars.

My mom only mentioned him if we happened to be driving past the brownstone. Then she would point it out the way you might point out a dangerous cliff. See? There it is. Avoid it.

After I started living on the streets, I would sometimes walk by at night. I’d peer in the windows and see glowing display cases of antique swords and axes, creepy helmets with face masks staring at me from the walls, statues silhouetted in the upstairs windows like petrified ghosts.

Several times I considered breaking in to poke around, but I’d never been tempted to knock on the door. Please, Uncle Randolph, I know you hated my mother and haven’t seen me in ten years; I know you care more about your rusty old collectibles than you do about your family, but may I live in your fine house and eat your leftover crusts of bread?

No thanks. I’d rather be on the street, eating day-old falafel from the food court.

Still … I figured it would be simple enough to break in, look around and see if I could find answers about what was going on. While I was there, maybe I could grab some stuff to pawn.

Sorry if that offends your sense of right and wrong.

Oh, wait. No, I’m not.

I don’t steal from just anybody. I choose obnoxious jerks who have too much already. If you’re driving a new BMW and you park it in a disabled spot without a permit, then, yeah, I’ve got no problem jimmying your window and taking some change from your cupholder. If you’re coming out of Barneys with your bag of silk handkerchiefs, so busy talking on your phone and pushing people out of your way that you’re not paying attention, I am there for you, ready to pickpocket your wallet. If you can afford five thousand dollars to blow your nose, you can afford to buy me dinner.

I am judge, jury and thief. And, as far as obnoxious jerks went, I figured I couldn’t do better than Uncle Randolph.

The house fronted Commonwealth Avenue. I headed around back to the poetically named Public Alley 429. Randolph’s parking spot was empty. Stairs led down to the basement entrance. If there was a security system, I couldn’t spot it. The door was a simple latch lock without even a deadbolt. Come on, Randolph. At least make it a challenge.

Two minutes later I was inside.

In the kitchen, I helped myself to some sliced turkey, crackers and milk from the carton. No falafel. Dammit. Now I was really in the mood for some, but I found a chocolate bar and stuffed it in my coat pocket for later. (Chocolate must be savoured, not rushed.) Then I headed upstairs into a mausoleum of mahogany furniture, oriental rugs, oil paintings, marble-tiled floors and crystal chandeliers … It was just embarrassing. Who lives like this?

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