Our exit strategy wasn't looking too good. It was well after dark, and the museum was supposed to be closed.
Instead, the glass dome glowed with light. Inside, forty feet below, hundreds of people in tuxedos and evening gowns mingled and danced in a ballroom the size of an airplane hangar. An orchestra played, but with the wind howling in my ears and my teeth chattering, I couldn't hear the music.
I was freezing in my linen pajamas. Magicians are supposed to wear linen because it doesn't interfere with magic, which is probably a great tradition in the Egyptian desert, where it's hardly ever cold and rainy. In Brooklyn, in March—not so much. My sister, Sadie, didn't seem bothered by the cold.
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She was undoing the locks on the dome while humming along to something on her iPod. I mean, seriously—who brings their own tunes to a museum break-in? She was dressed in clothes like mine except she wore combat boots. Her blond hair was streaked with red highlights—very subtle for a stealth mission. With her blue eyes and her light complexion, she looked absolutely nothing like me, which we both agreed was fine. It's always nice to have the option of denying that the crazy girl next to me is my sister.
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Sadie didn't hear me until I pulled out her earbuds and repeated myself. How was I to know there'd be a wedding? I looked down and saw that Sadie was right. Some of the ladies wore peach-colored bridesmaid dresses. One of the tables had a massive tiered white cake. Two separate mobs of guests had lifted the bride and groom on chairs and were carrying them through the room while their friends swirled around them, dancing and clapping.
The whole thing looked like a head-on furniture collision waiting to happen. Khufu tapped on the glass. Even in his black clothes, it was hard for him to blend into the shadows with his golden fur, not to mention his rainbow-colored nose and rear end. Since he was a baboon, that could've meant anything from Look, there's food down there to This glass is dirty to Hey, those people are doing stupid things with chairs. Perhaps if we pretend we're a maintenance crew—" "Sure," I said. Four kids coming through with a three-ton statue.
Just going to float it up through the roof. Don't mind us. She pulled out her wand—a curved length of ivory carved with pictures of monsters—and pointed it at the base of the dome. A golden hieroglyph blazed, and the last padlock popped open. Couldn't we just come out the way we're going in—through the side window?
The statue is huge. It won't fit through the side window. Plus, the traps—" "Try again tomorrow night, then? I shook my head. She was right, of course. I hadn't given her much notice.
But, hey—my sources weren't exactly reliable. After weeks of asking for help, I'd finally gotten a tip from my buddy the falcon war god Horus, speaking in my dreams: Oh, by the way, that artifact you wanted? The one that might hold the key to saving the planet? It's been sitting down the street in the Brooklyn Museum for the last thirty years, but tomorrow it leaves for Europe, so you'd better hurry! You'll have five days to figure out how to use it, or we're all doomed. Good luck! I could've screamed at him for not telling me sooner, but it wouldn't have made any difference.
Gods only talk when they're ready, and they don't have a good sense of mortal time. I knew this because Horus had shared space in my head a few months ago. I still had some of his antisocial habits—like the occasional urge to hunt small furry rodents or challenge people to the death.
We'll figure out how to deal with the wedding party when we get that far. Maybe create a diversion. Unless you have another idea? You'd think magic would make things easier. In fact, it usually made things more complicated. There were always a million reasons why this or that spell wouldn't work in certain situations. Or there'd be other magic thwarting you—like the protective spells on this museum.
We weren't sure who had cast them. Maybe one of the museum staff was an undercover magician, which wouldn't have been uncommon. Our own dad had used his PhD in Egyptology as a cover to gain access to artifacts. Plus, the Brooklyn Museum has the largest collection of Egyptian magic scrolls in the world. That's why our uncle Amos had located his headquarters in Brooklyn.
A lot of magicians might have reasons to guard or booby-trap the museum's treasures. Whatever the case, the doors and windows had some pretty nasty curses on them. We couldn't open a magic portal into the exhibit, nor could we use our retrieval shabti—the magical clay statues that served us in our library—to bring us the artifact we needed. We'd have to get in and get out the hard way; and if we made a mistake, there was no telling what sort of curse we'd unleash: monster guardians, plagues, fires, exploding donkeys don't laugh; they're bad news.
The only exit that wasn't booby-trapped was the dome at the top of the ballroom. Apparently the museum's guardians hadn't been worried about thieves levitating artifacts out of an opening forty feet in the air. Or maybe the dome was trapped, and it was just too well hidden for us to see.
Either way, we had to try. We only had tonight to steal—sorry, borrow—the artifact. Then we had five days to figure out how to use it. I just love deadlines. I looked down at the wedding party, hoping we weren't about to ruin their special night. Open the dome when you see us coming up, yeah? The back of my neck tingled. I had a feeling this heist was not going to be lovely.
Jaz and Walt had done their work perfectly.
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They'd duct-taped four Sons of Horus statues around the edges of the window and painted hieroglyphs on the glass to counteract the curses and the mortal alarm system. As Sadie and I landed next to them, they seemed to be in the middle of a serious conversation. Jaz was holding Walt's hands.
That surprised me, but it surprised Sadie even more. She made a squeaking sound like a mouse getting stepped on.
I was there. Okay, right after New Year's, when Sadie and I sent out our djed amulet beacon to attract kids with magic potential to our headquarters, Jaz and Walt had been the first to respond. They'd been training with us for seven weeks, longer than any of the other kids, so we'd gotten to know them pretty well. Jaz was a cheerleader from Nashville. Her name was short for Jasmine, but don't ever call her that unless you want to get turned into a shrub. She was pretty in a blond cheerleader kind of way—not really my type—but you couldn't help liking her because she was nice to everyone and always ready to help.
She had a talent for healing magic, too, so she was a great person to bring along in case something went wrong, which happened with Sadie and me about ninety-nine percent of the time. Tonight she'd covered her hair in a black bandanna. Slung across her shoulder was her magician's bag, marked with the symbol of lion goddess Sekhmet. She was just telling Walt, "We'll figure it out," when Sadie and I dropped down next to them. Walt looked embarrassed. He was.
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I'm not going to describe him as hot. Book 1 of 3 in the The Kane Chronicles Series. By Rick Riordan. Share to Google Classroom. Share by Email.