Whit and Wisty Allgood have finally triumphed over the evil that has long overshadowed their world with their defeat of The One Who Is The One. Now they move on to their next mission: becoming members of a governing Council that will return the Overworld to a place of creativity, magic, and freedom from persecution.
But it isn't long before the city is threatened from inside and out. The adults on the Council want to control the use of magic in the city, and a fearsome Wizard King threatens war. As Wisty begins a new relationship with an intense and mysterious boy and the pressures of leading the city bear down on them, Whit and Wisty find themselves growing apart. Will they be able to come together to fight the mounting threats that could return their world to the hands of a tyrant?
James Patterson delivers what the fans have been asking for—the story of what happens next—with an epic fourth installment about the heroic teen witch and wizard that have captured our imaginations.
Book One | The First Truth: You Can't Trick the Inner Eye
IF ANYONE COULD have used a new beginning, it was Pearl Marie Neederman.
All she had known in her young life was the thunder of gunfire, the stench of death in the streets, and the bitter taste of poverty. Since they didn’t need to beg and steal anymore, Mama May had wanted her to stay closer to home, but Pearl had just laughed. She might’ve been only seven, but she knew the labyrinth of the capital’s alleys better than anyone.
Besides, the danger was over now.
She brushed her mop of black hair out of her eyes as she squinted into the pile of trash, looking for the perfect sparkle, the just-right shape. She wanted to impress everyone tonight at the fancy art show, but first she needed to find something to contribute.
“Isn’t it only for the rule makers?” she’d asked when Whit had invited her to the celebration.
“The Council. It’s different now,” he had said, smiling at her ignorance. If he were anyone else, she probably would’ve cut him for that, but the wizard held a special place in her heart. “Art Is Alive is for everyone. And the party is for all our friends.”
Pearl had turned away, a little embarrassed, but beaming with pride: she was considered a friend to the great Whit Allgood.
As she scavenged, Pearl collected bits of broken glass that sparkled in the light and scraps of metal that twisted in the craziest ways. Perfect for creating her own piece of art for the gallery. Whit had told her that with the new Council, there wasn’t going to be any garbage in the streets, but she knew that underneath a shiny new finish, there was always a layer of grime.
She was up to her arms in trash when a sudden, loud popping sound made her jump.
Pearl dropped to her knees in an instant. Silent as a shadow, she slipped behind the Dumpster among the rats, and listened. She’d been called a “gutter rat” as long as she could remember, but she never understood the insult. Rats survived, didn’t they?
There wasn’t a sound to be heard, but she saw a fizz of light coming from around the corner. Pearl stood up and let out a breath, grinning.
Had to be Razz and Eddie from down the block, who had taught Pearl to pickpocket long ago. They had seen the beautiful fireworks display this morning and had spent all day rigging up their own with fertilizer and charcoal. That explained the noise. They’d probably blown off a hand or something.
“You idiots!” Pearl yelled, walking over.
But before she could even round the corner, Pearl’s gray eyes widened with shock as a rough hand clamped over her mouth.
The men suddenly surrounding her were huge, with grizzled faces and dark clothing. They carried heavy, crude weapons—one of them even had an ax. She saw they had Razz by the collar, but Eddie was nowhere in sight.
One of the brutes started lighting the fuses on the homemade fireworks, and Razz went nuts. “Those are mine!” he yelled belligerently. As a warning, Razz’s captor dragged an edge of jagged glass across the boy’s throat, drawing a thin line of blood, but Razz clenched his teeth, refusing to scream.
The man who’d grabbed Pearl spun her around to face him, holding her off the ground, his giant hands wrapped around her throat. She was transfixed by his stare, so cold and empty. One eye was as milky as snow.
Just as she started to see spots, the man threw her into the truck like a sack of garbage. Razz came hurling in after her, and he leaped up, clawing at the door. But the bolt had already closed, and the engine was rumbling.
Pearl scrambled against the side of the truck, coughing and trying to get her breath back.
“We didn’t hear a sound,” murmured Eddie from a corner, shaking his head. “Who can sneak up on us? No one. These guys were like ghosts.”
There were other kids inside the truck, too—a mix of gutter rats and rich kids, some stunned into silence, others all-out shrieking.
“Shush! Stop being a baby!” Pearl hissed at one of the kids, then felt a little bad. “We got to figure this out.”
Think, Pearl. Think.
Her fingers fumbled inside her pockets, searching. They closed on something metal, and she exhaled. Her blade.
She was deft with the knife, good at picking locks with her tiny fingers. But there were no screws or seams, and she couldn’t find a single weak spot in the metal; it didn’t seem like anything an ordinary man had made. And no matter how she worked the blade, the hard bolt wouldn’t budge.
Pearl felt real panic rise inside her for the first time. These rough and weathered men were definitely not New Order—so who were they working for?
And where were they taking her?
There couldn’t be a new threat so soon. No way. Whit had said they were safe. He had promised.
Pearl squinted through the bars, the capital’s distant lights blurring a little in her vision. They were already on the outskirts of the City. Soon they would reach the boundary line, and she had no idea what lay beyond.
Copyright © 2013 by James Patterson
Read by Spencer Locke, Justin Long,
and Cassandra Morris