Home > The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1)(4)

The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1)(4)
Rick Riordan

Ever since that night I’d been hiding, living under the radar, too busy surviving to grieve properly for my mom, wondering if I’d hallucinated those beasts … but I knew I hadn’t.

Now, after all this time, Uncle Randolph wanted to help me.

I gripped the little domino stone so tightly it cut into my palm. ‘You don’t know what happened to my mom. You never cared about either of us.’

Randolph lowered his cane. He leaned on it heavily and stared at the carpet. I could almost believe I’d hurt his feelings.

‘I pleaded with your mother,’ he said. ‘I wanted her to bring you here – to live where I could protect you. She refused. After she died …’ He shook his head. ‘Magnus, you have no idea how long I’ve looked for you, or how much danger you’re in.’

‘I’m fine,’ I snapped, though my heart was thumping against my ribs. ‘I’ve been taking care of myself pretty well.’

‘Perhaps, but those days are over.’ The certainty in Randolph’s voice gave me a chill. ‘You’re sixteen now, the age of manhood. You escaped them once, the night your mother died. They won’t let you escape again. This is our last chance. Let me help you, or you won’t live through the day.’

The low winter light shifted across the stained-glass transom, washing Randolph’s face in changing colours, chameleon-style.

I shouldn’t have come here. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Over and over, my mom had given me one clear message: Don’t go to Randolph. Yet here I was.

The longer I listened to him, the more terrified I got, and the more desperately I wanted to hear what he had to say.

‘I don’t need your help.’ I set the strange little domino on the desk. ‘I don’t want –’

‘I know about the wolves.’

That stopped me.

‘I know what you saw,’ he continued. ‘I know who sent the creatures. Regardless of what the police think, I know how your mother really died.’

‘How –’

‘Magnus, there’s so much I need to tell you about your parents, about your inheritance … About your father.’

An ice-cold wire threaded its way down my spine. ‘You knew my father?’

I didn’t want to give Randolph any leverage. Living on the street had taught me how dangerous leverage could be. But he had me hooked. I needed to hear this information. Judging from the appraising gleam in his eyes, he knew it.

‘Yes, Magnus. Your father’s identity, your mother’s murder, the reason she refused my help … it’s all connected.’ He gestured towards his display of Viking goodies. ‘My whole life, I’ve been working towards one goal. I’ve been trying to solve a historical mystery. Until recently, I didn’t see the whole picture. Now I do. It’s all been leading to this day, your sixteenth birthday.’

I backed up to the window, as far as I could get from Uncle Randolph. ‘Look, I don’t understand ninety per cent of what you’re saying, but if you can tell me about my dad –’

The building rattled like a volley of cannons had gone off in the distance – a rumble so low I felt it in my teeth.

‘They’ll be here soon,’ Randolph warned. ‘We’re running out of time.’

‘Who are they?’

Randolph limped forward, relying on his cane. His right knee didn’t seem to work. ‘I’m asking a lot, Magnus. You have no reason to trust me. But you need to come with me right now. I know where your birthright is.’ He pointed to the old maps on the desk. ‘Together, we can retrieve what is yours. It’s the only thing that might protect you.’

I glanced over my shoulder, out of the window. Down in the Commonwealth Mall, Hearth had disappeared. I should have done the same. Looking at Uncle Randolph, I tried to see any resemblance to my mother, anything that might inspire me to trust him. I found nothing. His imposing bulk, his intense dark eyes, his humourless face and stiff manner … he was the exact opposite of my mom.

‘My car is out back,’ he said.

‘M-maybe we should wait for Annabeth and Uncle Frederick.’

Randolph grimaced. ‘They don’t believe me. They never believed me. Out of desperation, as a last resort, I brought them to Boston to help me look for you, but now that you’re here –’

The building shook again. This time the boom felt closer and stronger. I wanted to believe it was from construction nearby, or a military ceremony, or anything easily explainable. But my gut told me otherwise. The noise sounded like the fall of a gargantuan foot – like the noise that had shaken our apartment two years ago.

‘Please, Magnus.’ Randolph’s voice quavered. ‘I lost my own family to those monsters. I lost my wife, my daughters.’

‘You – you had a family? My mom never said anything –’

‘No, she wouldn’t have. But your mother … Natalie was my only sister. I loved her. I hated to lose her. I can’t lose you, too. Come with me. Your father left something for you to find – something that will change the worlds.’

Too many questions crowded my brain. I didn’t like the crazy light in Randolph’s eyes. I didn’t like the way he said worlds, plural. And I didn’t believe he’d been trying to find me since my mom died. I had my antenna up constantly. If Randolph had been asking about me by name, one of my street friends would’ve tipped me off, like Blitz had done this morning with Annabeth and Frederick.

Something had changed – something that made Randolph decide I was worth looking for.

‘What if I just run?’ I asked. ‘Will you try to stop me?’

‘If you run, they’ll find you. They’ll kill you.’

My throat felt like it was full of cotton balls. I didn’t trust Randolph. Unfortunately, I believed he was in earnest about people trying to kill me. His voice had the ring of truth.

‘Well, then,’ I said, ‘let’s go for a ride.’

FOUR

Seriously, the Dude Cannot Drive

You’ve heard about bad Boston drivers? That’s my Uncle Randolph.

The dude gunned his BMW 528i (of course it had to be a BMW) and shot down Commonwealth Avenue, ignoring the lights, honking at other cars, weaving randomly from lane to lane.

‘You missed a pedestrian,’ I said. ‘You want to go back and hit her?’

Randolph was too distracted to answer. He kept glancing at the sky as if looking for storm clouds. He gunned the BMW through the intersection at Exeter.

‘So,’ I said, ‘where are we going?’

‘The bridge.’

That explained everything. There were, like, twenty bridges in the Boston area.

I ran my hand along the heated leather seat. It had been maybe six months since I’d ridden in a car. The last time it had been a social worker’s Toyota. Before that, a police cruiser. Both times I’d used a fake name. Both times I’d escaped, but over the past two years I’d come to equate cars with holding cells. I wasn’t sure my luck had changed any today.

I waited for Randolph to answer any of the nagging little questions I had, like, oh: Who’s my dad? Who murdered my mom? How did you lose your wife and kids? Are you presently hallucinating? Did you really have to wear that clove-scented cologne?

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