The Tower of Nero by Rick Riordan

The Tower of Nero by Rick Riordan

Author:Rick Riordan [Riordan, Rick]
Language: eng
Format: epub, azw3
Publisher: Disney Book Group
Published: 2020-10-06T00:00:00+00:00

NERO’S CELL WAS THE NICEST PLACE I’D ever been imprisoned in. I would have rated it five stars. Absolute luxury! Would die here again!

From the high ceiling hung a chandelier…a chandelier, much too far out of reach for a prisoner to grab. Crystal pendants danced in the LED lights, casting diamond-shaped reflections across the eggshell-white walls. In the back of the room sat a sink with gold fixtures and an automated toilet with a bidet, all shielded behind a privacy screen—what pampering! One of Nero’s Persian carpets covered the floor. Two plush Roman-style sofas were arranged in a V on either side of a coffee table overflowing with cheese, crackers, and fruit, plus a silver pitcher of water and two goblets, in case we prisoners wanted to toast our good luck. Only the front wall had a jailhouse look, since it was nothing but a row of thick metal bars, but even these were coated with—or perhaps made from—Imperial gold.

I spent the first twenty or thirty minutes alone in the cell. It was hard to measure time. I paced, I screamed, I demanded to see Meg. I banged a silver platter against the bars and howled into the empty corridor outside. Finally, as my fear and queasiness got the best of me, I discovered the joys of vomiting into a high-end toilet with a heated seat and multiple self-cleaning options.

I was beginning to think Luguselwa must have died. Why else was she not in the cell with me, as Nero had promised? How could she have survived the shock of double amputation when she was already so badly injured?

Just as I was convincing myself I would die alone in this cell, with no one to help me eat the cheese and crackers, a door banged open somewhere down the hall, followed by heavy footsteps and lots of grunting. Gunther and another Germanus came into view, dragging Luguselwa between them. The middle three bars of the cell entrance fell away, retracting into the floor as fast as sheathed blades. The guards pushed Lu inside, and the bars snapped closed again.

I rushed to Lu’s side. She curled on the Persian carpet, her body shivering and splattered with blood. Her leg braces had been removed. Her face was paler than the walls. Her wrists had been bandaged, but the wrappings were already soaked through. Her brow burned with fever.

“She needs a doctor!” I yelled.

Gunther leered at me. “Ain’t you a healing god?”

His friend snorted, then the two of them lumbered back down the hall.

“Erggh,” Lu muttered.

“Hold on,” I said. Then I winced, realizing that probably wasn’t a sensitive thing to say given her condition. I scrambled back to my comfy sofa and rummaged through my pack. The guards had taken my bow and quivers, including the Arrow of Dodona, but they’d left me everything that wasn’t obviously a weapon—my waterlogged ukulele and my backpack, including some med supplies Will had given me: bandages, ointments, pills, nectar, ambrosia. Could Gauls take ambrosia? Could they take aspirin? I had no time to worry about that.


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