The fire, p.1

The Fire, page 1

 part  #3 of  Witch & Wizard Series

 

The Fire
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The Fire


  Contents

  About the Book

  About the Author

  Also by James Patterson

  Title Page

  Dedication

  Book One: Blood Holiday

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Book Two: A Feast of Souls

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Chapter 49

  Chapter 50

  Chapter 51

  Chapter 52

  Chapter 53

  Chapter 54

  Chapter 55

  Chapter 56

  Chapter 57

  Chapter 58

  Chapter 59

  Chapter 60

  Chapter 61

  Chapter 62

  Chapter 63

  Chapter 64

  Chapter 65

  Chapter 66

  Chapter 67

  Chapter 68

  Chapter 69

  Chapter 70

  Chapter 71

  Chapter 72

  Chapter 73

  Chapter 74

  Chapter 75

  Chapter 76

  Chapter 77

  Chapter 78

  Chapter 79

  Chapter 80

  Chapter 81

  Chapter 82

  Chapter 83

  Chapter 84

  Chapter 85

  Epilogue: All That Remains

  Chapter 86

  Chapter 87

  Chapter 88

  Copyright

  About the Book

  YOU WANT A FAIRY TALE, DON’T YOU?

  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.

  YOU’RE NOT GOING TO FIND ONE HERE.

  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 formidable being. How can she and Whit possibly prepare for their imminent showdown with the ruthless villain who devastated their world – before he can become truly all-powerful?

  THERE IS NO HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

  In this stunning third instalment of the epic Witch & Wizard series, the stakes have never been higher – and the consequences will change everything.

  About the Author

  JAMES PATTERSON is one of the best-known and biggest-selling writers of all time. He is the author of two other popular series for young readers: Maximum Ride and Daniel X. This is as well as writing three of the top detective series around – the Alex Cross, Women’s Murder Club and Detective Michael Bennett novels – and many other number one bestsellers including romance novels and stand-alone thrillers. He lives in Florida with his wife and son.

  James was inspired by his son, who was a reluctant reader, to write books specifically for young readers. He has also formed a partnership with the National Literacy Trust, an independent, UK-based charity that changes lives through literacy. In 2010, James Patterson was voted Author of the Year at the Children’s Choice Book Awards in New York.

  Also by James Patterson

  Witch & Wizard series

  Witch & Wizard (with Gabrielle Charbonnet)

  Witch & Wizard: The Gift (with Ned Rust)

  Maximum Ride series

  The Angel Experiment

  School’s Out Forever

  Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports

  The Final Warning

  Max

  Fang

  Angel

  Daniel X series

  The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (with Michael Ledwidge)

  Daniel X: Watch the Skies (with Ned Rust)

  Daniel X: Demons and Druids (with Adam Sadler)

  Daniel X: Game Over (with Ned Rust)

  Illustrated novels

  Daniel X: Alien Hunter Graphic Novel (with Leopoldo Gout)

  Maximum Ride: Manga Vol. 1 (with NaRae Lee)

  Maximum Ride: Manga Vol. 2 (with NaRae Lee)

  Maximum Ride: Manga Vol. 3 (with NaRae Lee)

  Maximum Ride: Manga Vol. 4 (with NaRae Lee)

  Middle School (with Chris Tebbetts and Laura Park)

  For more information about James Patterson’s novels, visit www.jamespatterson.co.uk

  Or become a fan on Facebook

  For Jack, who started me down this long, twisted, magical road.

  You will be king one day, and you’ll be a very good king.

  —J.P.

  For Bobbie Dembowski, who taught me the magic of words, and Mark Dembowski, who cheers louder than any foolball fan. ILYIHYNDYTBPITWW!

  —J.D.

  Welcome to your worst nightmare, or maybe one you can’t even imagine. A world where everything has changed. There are no books, no movies, no music, and no free speech. Everyone under eighteen is distrusted. You and your family could be taken away and imprisoned at any time. Your very being is expendable, even unwanted.

  What world is this? Where could something like this have happened? That’s hardly the point.

  The point is that it DID happen. It’s happening to us right now. And if you don’t stop and pay attention, it could happen in your world next.

  Whit

  YOU WANT A fairy tale, don’t you? Well, I’m not sure I can give you that.

  You can find adventure here, that much is true. There’s magic, too, and murder and intrigue. And there is a man more wicked, more ruthless, than any monster or madman lurking in your grimmest childhood nightmares.

  But there are no heroes. I can’t be that for you — not anymore, not after everything that’s happened.

  It went like this.

  There was a great orator, smart and charismatic. Crowds came from every corner of the Overworld, hypnotized by his promises. They called him The One Who Is The One for a reason: he was the one who would change the world. It wasn’t until he took everything away that the people even knew what they’d had.

  First we watched our books burn, the gray tendrils of smoke choking out our protests. Then our art and our music disappeared, and the rest of our freedoms weren’t far behind. Red banners stretched up over the tallest buildings, and ash rained down with bombs. Prisons overflowed with children, and when they were released, they were no longer just kids but dead-eyed warriors trained in torture.

  It was for the greater good, The One said. The “New Order,” he called it.

  T
he Prophecies talk about two people who will alter the course of this history. A girl and a boy, a witch and a wizard. My sister and I, Wisty and Whit Allgood. It was as surprising to us as much as to anyone. Terrifying, even.

  We tried to be your heroes, tried to live up to that destiny. With our newfound powers, we offered hope. We joined the Resistance movement and infiltrated the prisons. We protested the New Order and advocated for peace.

  But after the last bombing, my sister and all of our freedom fighters were scattered like seeds in the wind, the entire Resistance crumbling. Even our parents went up in smoke. Their cries still echo in my ears.

  So I had no one left. I thought I had nothing left to give. But then came the plague. It was my last chance to make a difference. I walked into homes that smelled of death and seethed with disease. I carried bleeding children into clinics and shelters. And in one of those clinics, I found my sister working as a nurse, helping as I had, hoping as I did for a better future.

  But then Wisty got sick, too.

  Now, The One Who Is The One’s eyes, playful and cruel, look down mockingly at me from the billboards. I’d thought we could fight him. I’d thought we could win. I guess I was wrong. You see, without both Wisty and me, there is no history, no future, no hope.

  And she’s dying.

  So here we are. This is the end. This is no fairy tale, and there is no “happily ever after.” Our world does not end when you close the book. Our world is real. Too real. It sounds like children shrieking in the darkness and soldiers’ boots thundering through the streets. It smells of sewage and disease and defeat. It feels like the weight of my sister writhing in my arms.

  It tastes of blood.

  Chapter 1

  Whit

  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.

  Chapter 2

  Whit

  I’VE GOT TO get Wisty somewhere safe — like, now. We seem to have lost the club-wielding pigs behind the crowd for a few precious seconds, so I whirl around to find another alleyway … and nearly run smack into my own face. I stumble backward, chills running down my spine.

  And then I see them.

  A hundred posters, or a thousand, on every pole and window. Wisty and me.

  I whip around again, hyperventilating. I feel eyes on me everywhere. An old woman grins up at me with a mouthful of missing teeth. A couple of suits trot down the white marble steps of the Capitol building, their cigars pointed our way. There’s a little girl standing off to the side, her wide, gray eyes boring into me. She knows.

  They all know.

  Right on cue, the squad storms through the entrance to the square, their heads flicking around in search of us. And then, like something out of a horror movie, the zombie wolves start to howl.

  There’s a small, partially bombed-out stone building down a side street that I can spot from here, and it looks promising. Or at least more promising than the jaws of the half-dead mutts. I slink toward it as inconspicuously as possible and slip in through a side door.

  A gargantuan painting of The One Who Is The One greets me, his bald head and Technicolor eyes bearing down, and a sign on the wall reads: CONFESS YOUR CRIMES TO THE NEW ORDER AND YOU WILL BE SPARED. THE ONE ALREADY KNOWS ALL. There are bullet shells on the floor.

  This could be … really bad.

  But there’s no one here. We’re safe — for now.

  My shoulders and lower back muscles are screaming, so I finally slide my sister down to the floor. She looks like the image of death. I sit her up in my lap. “Come on, Wisty,” I plead, wiping her face with my shirt. “Stay with me.”

  Her red hair is matted with sweat, but her teeth are chattering. I hold her clammy hand, whisper the words of some of my surefire healing spells over her, and add every ounce of hope
I have into the mix.

  Only … nothing works.

  How can my power be bone-dry? I’m a wizard, but I can’t even save my sister. She’s my constant, my best friend. I can’t just sit here and watch her get weaker, watch her eyes puff up as the blood leaks into them, watch her float in and out of consciousness until her world finally goes dark. I can’t keep watching the people I care about most die.

  I already did that.

  Twice.

  I wince, thinking of Mom and Dad. If they’d only taught me a bit more about how to wield this power before …

  I can’t finish the thought.

  It’s not just a problem with my power, I’m sure of it. There’s something in the air here in the capital — like The One poisoned it or something — and it’s turning the New Order followers into empty, nodding pod people, and the poor, potential dissenters into writhing, moaning Blood Plague victims.

  The survival rates haven’t been high.

  “Why did you have to volunteer at that stupid plague camp and get sick, Wisty?” I whisper-shout at her through angry tears. “We’ve seen what The One can do, and if he wants every single freethinker in the ghetto to get sick, then no amount of healing spells is going to make you immune!”

  I need my sister, the often annoying know-it-all, rebel leader, greatest threat to the New Order, unexpectedly rockin’ musician, witch extraordinaire. … I can’t do this alone. No — I can’t do this without her. She was the only one I had left in the world.

  My breath catches in my throat. I’ve already been thinking of Wisty in the past tense.

  I feel everything within me explode at once. I smash my hand into the painting of The One, but it’s as if it’s made of metal, and my hand throbs in agony.

  “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” a voice says from the door. I whip around to find a young soldier seemingly dressed in his daddy’s too-big uniform, pointing a gun at me from the entrance.

  I almost laugh. This is the twerp who’s bringing us in?

  “Yeah, I kind of figured that out now, thanks,” I say, cradling my injured hand. I look behind him. No one seems to have followed him here.

 
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