Chiron calmly aimed arrow after arrow, taking down a monster with every shot. But more enemies just kept climbing out of the maze. Finally a hellhound – not Mrs O’Leary – leaped out of the tunnel and barrelled straight towards the satyrs.
‘GO!’ Chiron yelled to me.
I drew Riptide and charged.
As I raced across the battlefield, I saw horrible things. An enemy half-blood was fighting with a son of Dionysus, but it wasn’t much of a contest. The enemy stabbed him in the arm then clubbed him over the head with the butt of his sword, and Dionysus’s son went down. Another enemy warrior shot flaming arrows into the trees, sending our archers and dryads into a panic.
A dozen dracaenae suddenly broke away from the main fight and slithered down the path that led towards camp, like they knew where they were going. If they got out, they could burn down the entire place, completely unopposed.
The only person anywhere near was Nico di Angelo. He stabbed a telkhine, and his black Stygian blade absorbed the monster’s essence, drinking its energy until there was nothing left but dust.
‘Nico!’ I yelled.
He looked where I was pointing, saw the serpent women, and immediately understood.
He took a deep breath and held out his black sword. ‘Serve me,’ he called.
The earth trembled. A fissure opened in front of the dracaenae and a dozen undead warriors crawled from the earth – horrible corpses in military uniforms from all different time periods – US Revolutionaries, Roman centurions, Napoleonic cavalry on skeletal horses. As one, they drew their swords and engaged the dracaenae. Nico crumpled to his knees, but I didn’t have time to make sure he was okay.
I closed on the hellhound, which was now pushing the satyrs back towards the woods. The beast snapped at one satyr, who danced out of its way, but then it pounced on another who was too slow. The satyr’s tree-bark shield cracked as he fell.
‘Hey!’ I yelled.
The hellhound turned. It snarled at me and leaped. It would’ve clawed me to pieces, but as I fell backwards my fingers closed around a clay jar – one of Beckendorf’s containers of Greek fire. I tossed it into the hellhound’s maw, and the creature went up in flames. I scrambled away, breathing heavily.
The satyr who’d been trampled wasn’t moving. I rushed over to check on him, but then I heard Grover’s voice: ‘Percy!’
A forest fire had started. Flames roared within three metres of Juniper’s tree, and Juniper and Grover were going nuts trying to save it. Grover played a rain song on his pipes. Juniper desperately tried to beat out the flames with her green shawl, but it was only making things worse.
I ran towards them, jumping past duels, weaving between the legs of giants. The nearest water was the creek, half a kilometre away… but I had to do something. I concentrated. There was a pull in my gut, a roar in my ears. Then a wall of water came rushing through the trees. It doused the fire, Juniper, Grover and pretty much everything else.
Grover blew a spout of water. ‘Thanks, Percy!’
‘No problem!’ I ran back towards the fight, and Grover and Juniper followed. Grover had a cudgel in his hand and Juniper held a stick – like an old-fashioned whipping switch. She looked really angry, like she was going to tan somebody’s backside.
Just when it seemed like the battle had balanced out again – like we might stand a chance – an unearthly shriek echoed out of the Labyrinth, a sound I had heard before.
Kampê shot into the sky, her bat wings fully extended. She landed on the top of Zeus’s Fist and surveyed the carnage. Her face was filled with evil glee. The mutant animal heads growled at her waist. Snakes hissed and swirled around her legs. In her right hand she held a glittering ball of thread – Ariadne’s string – but she popped it into a lion’s mouth at her waist and drew her curved swords. The blades glowed green with poison. Kampê screeched in triumph, and some of the campers screamed. Others tried to run and got trampled by hellhounds or giants.
‘Di immortahs!’ Chiron yelled. He quickly aimed an arrow, but Kampê seemed to sense his presence. She took flight with amazing speed, and Chiron’s arrow whizzed harmlessly past her head.
Tyson untangled himself from the giant whom he’d pummelled into unconsciousness. He ran at our lines, shouting, ‘Stand! Do not run from her! Fight!’
But then a hellhound leaped on him, and Tyson and the hound went rolling away.
Kampê landed on the Athena command tent, smashing it flat. I ran after her and found Annabeth at my side, keeping pace, her sword in her hand.
‘This might be it,’ she said.