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Witch & Wizard: The Fire

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

Chapter 4

Whit

"PEARL MARIE NEEDERMAN," she huffs, making no effort to shake hands. "My place isn't far."

Against my better judgment, I follow the kid out behind the building and duck into an alley roped off with a sign that reads: QUARANTINE ZONE. Still, dragging my dying sister back through the N.O. squaddie-packed capital square doesn't exactly seem like a better option.

Pearl Marie is small but lightning quick, even though she's lugging a large bag. With Wisty in my arms, I have trouble keeping up as the little girl slips under fences and around street carts, Holiday antlers bobbing.

There are no people in the street except for Blood Plague sufferers, and more than one suspicious face slams a door and draws the blinds as we pass. Maybe I'd take it as an insult if I weren't still dripping with Wisty's vomit.

After less than half a mile the police are on our trail again, smashing their clubs through abandoned food stands and hurling insults at our backs. But the plague victims are constantly underfoot—and crave vengeance. I turn to see a herd of the sick descend on a couple of soldiers, the men's howls muffled as they're pulled down into a pit.

Pigeons scare up as fear-stricken shrieks echo down the alley, and soon we no longer hear the crush of boots on pavement. Many of the policemen are turning back.

Or are now infected.

The maze of turns is dizzying, and Wisty's getting heavier and heavier. But even with the cops off our tail for the moment, Pearl jets along, seemingly running in circles, like a greyhound that just can't stop chasing a rabbit.

Just as I'm about to protest and ditch this kid, she wheels around and says, "Here." What she's pointing at looks like a demolished pile of rubble.

"Um, I hate to break it to you, Pearl Marie, but it kind of looks like the New Order bomb strikes got to your home first."

The kid sighs like I've totally disappointed her. "You're not really a wizard, are you? It's over here, stupid."

I follow her and maneuver Wisty through the narrow side entrance into a one-room, dismal basement apartment. I have to duck to get through the doorway. There's almost no light, and it smells of mothballs and disinfectant.

Pearl Marie lowers her sack and motions to our surroundings. "You can just drop the witch anywhere, really," she says, like my sister is a coat or a pair of shoes.

"Where is...everyone else?" I note the scraps of blankets and bedding covering the floor. It's clear that a lot of people have been living here for a while.

Pearl laughs ruefully. "Oh, they're all out doing things that are actually important. You know—scavenging for necessities, things to save our family, not whispering hocus-pocus or waving their fingers around like lightning is gonna zap out of 'em."

I narrow my eyes. I realize I'm not in top form at the moment, but who is this girl? "Look, we can leave right now—"

"No, stay." Her face softens. "Everyone will be home soon. And I have something to show you—what I've been collecting all day. They gave me the biggest job of anyone." She beams.

I'm expecting food or blankets or beans she might've lifted from the purse of some New Order drone to buy medi-salves or to bribe soldiers with. But Pearl opens the sack so reverently that for a second I think it must be something really important—even more than money, like a baby or a puppy or something. It's...

Holiday decorations? Make that broken Holiday decorations.

Of course. Now the snow globe makes sense. And the antlers.

"Aren't they...beautiful?" Pearl whispers in awe. I nod. I have to admit they kind of are beautiful, all shimmering shattered glass and colorful broken lights.

Still, I'm getting antsy. The decorations are nice and all, but this kid is a piece of work. My sister is dying here. Wisty's tossing on the floor, ripping at the blankets in anguish, and Pearl keeps staring intently at the broken lights as if they hold secret powers. Finally she notices my agitation and sets the sack aside carefully. Then she fishes out some moldy-looking rags and wets them from one of the buckets set up to catch ceiling leaks.

Pearl puts a compress on my sister's forehead. It's all I can do to keep it together when Wisty moans, "Mama. Just let me die. Please. Just let me die."

"Oh, you will," whispers Pearl Marie. "You will."

Copyright © 2011 by James Patterson

Read by Elijah Wood and Spencer Locke

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