Whit and Wisty Allgood have sacrificed everything to lead the resistance against the merciless totalitarian regime that governs their world. Its supreme leader, The One Who Is The One, has banned everything they hold dear: books, music, art, and imagination. But the growing strength of the siblings' magic hasn't been enough to stop the One's evil rampage, and now he's executed the only family they had left.
Wisty knows that the time has finally come for her to face The One. But her fight and her fire only channel more power to this already invincible being. How can she and Whit possibly prepare for their imminent showdown with the ruthless villain that devastated their world-before he can truly become all-powerful?
In this stunning third installment of the epic Witch & Wizard series, the stakes have never been higher—and the consequences will change everything.
Book One | Blood Holiday
MY LUNGS ARE bursting, and if she dies, I'll die.
We're tearing through the cramped, dank streets of the capital, running for our lives from the New Order police and their trained wolves. My calves are burning, my shoulders ache, and my mind is numb from all that's happened.
There is no more freedom. So there is no escape.
I stumble through this strange, awful world we have inherited, past a mass of the sick who are shuddering from more than just the cold. A man collapses at my feet, and I have to wrestle my arm away from a woman holding a baby and pointing at me, shrieking, "The One has judged! He has judged you!"
And then there's the blood. Mothers scratch at open pustules, and children cough into rags stained red. Half the poor in this city are dying from the Blood Plague.
And my sister is one of them.
Wisty's even paler than usual, and her slight frame is curled over my back, her thin arms wrapped around my neck. She's in agony; her breath comes in gasps. She's murmuring about Mom and Dad, and it's ripping my heart right out of my chest.
The street pulses with waves of vacant-eyed citizens scurrying to work. A guy in a suit shoulders me to the curb, and an old man who seems to recognize me slurs something about "dark arts" under his breath and hurls a glob of spit at my cheek. Everyone has been brainwashed or brutalized into conformity. I can hear the shrieks from the abused populace as the goons hammer through them just a block behind.
They're gaining on us.
I can picture the wolves straining against their chains, foam building on their jagged teeth as they yank our pursuers forward. All missing fur and rotting flesh, they're Satan's guard dogs come to life. Something tells me that if—or when—the New Order police catch us, those animals aren't exactly going to go easy.
There's got to be an open door or a shop to slip into, but all I can see are the imposing, blaringly red banners of propaganda plastering every building. We are literally surrounded by the New Order.
Now they're right on us. The cop in the lead is a little zealot who looks like a ferret. His face is beet red under an official hat with the N.O. insignia on it. He's screaming my name and wielding a metal baton that looks like it would feel really awesome smashing across my shins.
Or through my skull.
No. I will not go out like this. We have the power. I think of Mom and Dad, of their faces as the smoke streaked toward them. We will avenge them. I feel a rush of rebel inspiration as lines of a banned poem thunder in my head along with the soldiers' boots.
"Rise like Lions after slumber / In unvanquishable number." I put my head down, hike up Wisty, and surge forward through the plague-ridden crowds. I won't give up.
"Shake your chains to earth like dew." I break away from the crowd, seeing an opening at the end of the street. "Which in sleep had fallen on you—/Ye are many—they are few." We used to be many, when the Resistance was thriving. Their faces flash before me: Janine, emmet, Sasha, Jamilla. And Margo. Poor Margo. Our friends are long gone.
Now it's just me.
I burst through the mouth of the alley into a huge square. A mob of people gathers, looking around expectantly. Then a dozen fifty-foot-tall high-definition screens light up, surrounding us and broadcasting the latest New Order news feed. With everyone distracted, it's the perfect time to find a way out of this death trap. But I can't tear my eyes away from this particular broadcast.
It's a replay of footage from my parents' public execution.
My head swims as Mom and Dad look down from all around us, trying to be brave as they face the hateful crowd. And as I watch the people I love most in the world go up in smoke for the second time, I hear Wisty's hysterical, delirious ramblings.
"No!" She flails in my arms, trying to reach out for them just like she did that day. "Help them, Whit!" she shrieks. "We've got to help them!"
She thinks she is watching our parents' actual execution again.
Before I can soothe my sister, she's hacking, and I feel something hot and wet oozing down my neck and shoulders. I gag back my own bile, but the most horrific part of all is that the mess dripping down my sides is full of blood.
She hasn't got much time left.
Copyright © 2011 by James Patterson
Read by Elijah Wood and Spencer Locke