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"I'll asssssk you one lasssst time," the scary lady said. "Tell me where the Fleeccce issss!"

Mumbo crossed his arms. "Well, someone doesn't know how to take no for an answer. I told you, Grian ran off with it. I don't know where he is now."

"Fine, then. I'll just have to-"

"Oh, for goodness' sake, Izzy. I told you, we don't need the Fleece anymore."

Both Mumbo and the lady who talked like a snake (Mumbo inferred that her name was Izzy) turned to stare at the doorway. Mumbo was pretty sure this was the Luke guy that Grian had mentioned. Partly because his name was Luke.

Izzy seemed disappointed. "But I really wanted to torture him," she whined. "Mortalssss are ssso intriguing. His flesh would be absssolutely ssssssscrumptious."

Mumbo did not much enjoy the idea of Izzy eating his flesh. He wanted to keep his flesh. He quite liked it.

Luke rolled his eyes. "We don't need the Fleece anymore. We have no use for Grian, either. He'll have plenty on his plate. I've been in contact with the Watchers. Apparently, they didn't even need our help to find him."

He hesitated. "And you can't eat him. He's bait. He's just more motivation to get the demigods to fall for it. He's also mortal, as you said, so he'd be unaffected anyway."

Izzy hissed. "Fine."

She moved out of the room. She looked like she was walking, but Mumbo was smart enough to tell that her movements were much too smooth - almost like she was moonwalking, but not backward. Forward? If moonwalking was walking backward, and one moonwalked backward, would that be moonwalking forward?

Mumbo snapped himself as he threatened to be dumped into a crisis. He didn't want another Why Cobble Here.

But... why cobble here?

No. No, Mumbo would not zone out now. He focused back on Luke and Izzy, but they had already both left, locking the door behind them.

Of course, he knew by now that most of the people on this ship weren't human. The ones that weren't slightly off were demigods, and the rest were most likely monsters.

He only knew that because that was the only thing Annabeth would tell him.

When she was brought back from whatever they had planned for her, she was exhausted and refused to answer Mumbo's questions. She complained about being sore a lot.

When she woke up, she had immediately decided that she was the one doing the interrogating. "Okay. Mumbo, right? Before we fell off that cliff, you mentioned Grian. Where is he now?"

"Why does everyone want to know where Grian is?" Mumbo complained.

"Just answer the question. Is he back in Hermitcraft? Does he have the Fleece?"

Mumbo shrugged. "I don't think I can answer that. He went to the Nether to bring back Scar with the Fleece. Then he took too long, so I decided to find him. And apparently Xisuma's coordinates were wrong... I think he's mentioned you a couple of times. And some Percy guy. And a couple of guys named Stole."

Annabeth processed that. "So he did steal it. I knew it! I knew he was acting weird. He knows it's not going to work, right? Thalia wasn't completely dead. Just mostly dead."

Mumbo shrugged again. "Dunno." He started fidgeting with a small piston.

"You are so unhelpful."

"Can't say I haven't heard that one before."

Annabeth made a frustrated noise. "Did you at least make an escape plan?"

"Several," Mumbo said, feeling victorious because of the fact that she had expected him to make an escape plan. If she expected him to make an escape plan, that meant that she considered him an ally, at least for now. "Although I don't know if any of them will work. I don't have enough observers for one of them. And I also just don't know enough about the ship." Mumbo pushed the blueprints toward Annabeth. She looked at them as if she actually sort of understood what was going on.

"Well, first of all, we don't have any of these supplies," Annabeth said.

"I do," Mumbo said. "They didn't seem to care that much that I had them. I played dumb."

Playing dumb was not hard for Mumbo to do.

"This is called redstone, right?" Annabeth asked. "Tango and Zedaph have told me a few things. Not much. I don't know how it works."

Mumbo nodded. "It's not hard to learn. Redstone is quite simple, really. You just have to know how to use it."

"So... how do these work?"

Mumbo took the blueprints from her and picked one out, then set the rest aside. "There's only one idea I have that I'm sure will go not horribly. It involves me using a communicator to get Xisuma to teleport me back, but that wouldn't work for you. So, the surest plan would be to make you a communicator."

Annabeth furrowed her eyebrows. "But I'm not trying to go to Hermitcraft. I'm trying to go home."

"Would you rather be here?" Mumbo asked.

"No," Annabeth admitted. "But what are your other plans?"

"So, in one of them we will build a small machine to pick the lock in the door, and then lock it back up behind us so that nobody notices we've left for a while. Then, we construct another machine - this design is an adapted version of a tunnel bore - in the hallway to blast a hole through the side of the ship, and then we jump out in a dramatic exit-"

"Let's go with the first plan, actually."

Mumbo frowned. "Dang it, I was actually hoping to build something."

"In the hall? We'll get caught and killed before we can even start. You can't even see the monsters, and I don't have a weapon.

"I suppose you have a point there," Mumbo said. "But I do not happen to have an extra communicator at this point in time, so you'll have to give me a few hours to make one."

"Fine," Annabeth said. "Why are they keeping us in the same room, anyway?"

"Maybe this is the prison room." Mumbo shrugged, sitting down at the desk and starting to tinker with redstone.

"It feels too simple," Annabeth said, which sounded like a complete subject change. "Your plan, I mean. Most things in this world, it's hard because the other side will find ways to get through the gaps."

"Weird," Mumbo said. "In Hermitcraft, we just go with the most chaotic thing possible and hope it works."

Annabeth glanced at the blueprints for the machine that would have blown a nice hole in the side of the ship. "I can... see that."

A paper slid under the door.

Annabeth walked over to pick it up. "Huh?"

Mumbo looked at her. "What's it say?"

Annabeth held up the paper. It was some sort of tag that would go on a gift or something, torn and bent in places. There was writing on it, although it was too small and Mumbo was too far to see it.

Annabeth turned it over to read the writing. "Tag, you're it."


Yes. Grian's tag game from the last book has returned to haunt them.

- Indigo

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