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Shadow's Legacy

Julie Kagawa

  Shadow’s Legacy

  Julie Kagawa


  To Natashya.

  Books by Julie Kagawa

  available from Inkyard Press

  Each series listed in reading order. Novellas complement the full-length novels but do not need to be read to enjoy the series.

  The Iron Fey

  The Iron King (special edition includes the “Winter’s Passage”* novella)

  The Iron Daughter (special edition includes the “Guide to the Iron Fey”*)

  The Iron Queen (special edition includes the “Summer’s Crossing”* novella)

  The Iron Knight (special edition includes the “Iron’s Prophecy”* novella)

  The Lost Prince

  The Iron Traitor

  The Iron Warrior

  The Iron Fey: Evenfall

  Shadow’s Legacy ebook novella

  The Iron Raven

  Shadow of the Fox

  Shadow of the Fox

  Soul of the Sword

  Night of the Dragon

  The Talon Saga






  Blood of Eden

  Dawn of Eden prequel novella+

  The Immortal Rules

  The Eternity Cure

  The Forever Song

  *Also available as an ebook and in The Iron Legends anthology

  Available in the ’Til the World Ends anthology by Julie Kagawa, Ann Aguirre, and Karen Duvall


  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6


  Excerpt from The Iron Raven by Julie Kagawa

  Chapter 1

  “Are you certain you don’t wish to take a carriage to the human world, Your Majesty?”

  I gave the faery hovering in my chamber doorway a weary smile. “No, Elaith,” I told my personal attendant and snatched my cloak from its stand in the corner nearest the door. “I’ll be fine. Honestly, I’d rather walk. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the real sun.”

  The faery nodded reluctantly—the motion nearly invisible in the dimness of the room. Like all my subjects, Elaith was a Forgotten, a faery who had been unremembered for so long she had nearly faded out of existence. She was slender and wispy, with delicate dragonfly wings and long curly hair. But that’s all anyone knew of her, because, like all the Forgotten in my court, Elaith resembled a living shadow. A silhouette without color, warmth, or features, except for two glowing, yellow eyes in the blank abyss of her face. As a personal attendant, she was unrivaled in making sure I had everything I needed and keeping the household affairs running smoothly. But she wasn’t much of a conversationalist: sometimes I’d think I was discussing the events of the day with her, only to turn around and find that I’d been talking to myself for who knew how long. It wasn’t Elaith’s fault, just something I kept having to remind myself of: take your eyes off a Forgotten, and they probably won’t be there when you look back.

  “As you wish, sire. I will call the guards to accompany you.”

  “No,” I told her, making those two glowing orbs blink in surprise. “I won’t need them,” I continued. “Not where I’m going. Besides, I promised a friend that it would just be me this afternoon. No extra fey or Forgotten tagging along.”

  Elaith hesitated. Obviously, she did not think the King of the Forgotten traipsing out alone was a good idea, but she bowed her head and took a step back. “Yes, my king. If that is your desire. Please excuse me. I will return to my duties.”

  I nodded, and with another bow, Elaith turned and departed my chambers, making no noise as she slid into the hall. I swirled my cloak around my shoulders and gave myself a quick check in the mirror. Where I was going today, I had to look presentable. Though, the image staring back at me from the glass still made me want to punch that face into a thousand glittering shards. It had nothing to do with appearance, which I never put much stock in. Not long ago, I had been a faery prince, and I still looked the part. My silver-white hair and blue eyes came from my mother’s side; my athletic build and height came from my father.

  But I knew what the soul behind the face in the mirror was capable of. And what it had done—to Faery, to its family, to everyone it had cared for—still made me sick to my stomach.

  Today, they call me the Forgotten King. My real name is Keirran, son of Meghan Chase, the Iron Queen. And not long ago, I nearly destroyed the entire Nevernever.

  * * *

  As I slipped out the manor doors into the courtyard, the city of Touchstone was quiet...but it was always quiet. Being made literally of shadows, the Forgotten were a silent group, able to glide up walls and through cracks in the floor without a thought. The city reflected this.

  When I was first establishing my court, I had attempted to make it brighter, to add some color and cheeriness to the landscape, but I’d quickly realized that decision made the Forgotten uneasy. They liked the darkness, were comfortable in the gloom and shadows. And so, after a few days of my subjects slinking around like dogs with their tails between their legs, I gave in and let the darkness rule. Touchstone was now a city of mist, rock, and old Gothic buildings, where gargoyles perched on every corner and vampires would not be out of place. For my own sake, I allowed the sun to rise over Touchstone each day, even if only for a few hours. The Forgotten might be faeries of the darkness, but their king occasionally needed to feel the sunlight on his face or he would have a mental breakdown. But the rest of the time, the city existed in perpetual night.

  The manor courtyard was empty as I walked across the cobblestones, my footsteps knocking eerily in the stillness. Overhead, the full moon peered down like a glowing silver eye. I reached the center of the courtyard and paused, gazing at a pile of rubble surrounded by a fence. These ruins, only a few stones, were what allowed the city of Touchstone to remain here and not fade into nothing.

  My court existed in a place called the Between, a void that separated Faery from the human world. You could find your way into the Between from either Faery or the mortal realm, but those who stumbled through the Veil into this landscape of mist and nothingness often became lost and wandered forever. Within the Between, thoughts and emotions would sometimes manifest as physical things. Anything could erupt around an individual, even whole towns, a representation of their emotional state of mind. Those who could manipulate the Between could create nearly anything they wanted. Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on what came into being—these manifestations never lasted and would fade back into mist within hours, minutes, or seconds.

  But there was also something called an anchor, an entity that existed in both the mortal world and the Between. Anchors were exceedingly rare—lost creatures could wander the mists for centuries without stumbling upon one—but if you could find an anchor in the Between, everything created around it would become permanent.

  I gazed at the pile of stones, Touchstone’s anchor, as painful memories stirred. I was not the first to find this place. I wasn’t even the first to build a world here. I had torn down what I could and built my court on the bones of the previous owner’s domain, but I still saw echoes of her influence wherever I went. A constant reminder of my betrayal.

  I shook myself, veering from that train of thought before it consumed me. Now was not the time to dwell. I had somewhere to be, and I did not want to be late. Spinning from the anchor, I walked across the courtyard until I found a place where the Veil was
thin. Calling on my magic, I reached into the Veil and parted it like a curtain. Reality shimmered and warped around my hand, and sunlight blossomed through the crack, making me squint and turn away even though I’d been expecting it.

  Shading my eyes, I peered back and saw the real world—the human world—through the gap in the Veil. A dappled forest trail cut through the trees, winding between trunks until it was lost from sight. Glancing up at the sun, nearly directly overhead through the branches, I winced.

  It’s almost noon. Dammit, Keirran. Kenzie is going to kill you if you’re late.

  I ducked through the gap, letting the Veil swoosh shut behind me, and stepped into the sunlit mortal world, leaving Touchstone and the Between behind.

  It was pleasant, walking through the mortal realm. Things in the Between lacked authenticity, and no matter how hard I tried to make my kingdom genuine, there was always something missing. Some spark of life that would have kept it from feeling like a photograph, a snapshot of the real thing. In the Between, there was no cool breeze, no scent of roses or rustle of leaves or patter of rain, and even the fabricated sunlight lacked warmth. I stopped and closed my eyes for a moment, enjoying the feel of the sun on my skin, before continuing toward my destination. It was springtime in the mortal world, and new leaves and flowers were budding all around me. I could almost hear the plants growing.

  A flash of color beside the trail caught my eye, a patch of wildflowers in early bloom, white, yellow, and orange petals waving in the breeze. I paused again, my stomach turning painfully. I was running out of time: a very important event waited for me at the end of this path, and I could not be late. But still, I crouched down, gazing at the riot of color, feeling a prickle in the back of my throat as memories overwhelmed me. Before my betrayal, before I had gotten tangled up with the previous owner of Touchstone, there had been someone else in my life. All the atrocities I’d committed, all the lives I’d taken, and all the unforgivable things I’d done had been for her. She was gone now, and I had only myself to blame, but I didn’t want to forget. Even though it was painful, even though I had failed her many times over, she was the best thing that had ever happened to me.

  Yellow flowers had always been her favorite.

  * * *

  “I have something to show you.”

  The faery sitting at the edge of the pond turned, the sunlight catching in her auburn hair, shimmering through the strands and the wildflowers woven throughout. Large, mossy-green eyes regarded me with a mix of curiosity and alarm.

  “Keirran.” Annwyl of the Summer Court rose, casting a quick glance around the meadow. It was mostly empty, with only a few deer grazing at the edges and a dryad weaving a flower crown under a tree. “What are you doing here?” she whispered, taking a few steps toward me. “We can’t be seen together. If Titania catches you, we’ll both be punished.”

  I grinned. I wasn’t afraid of the Seelie Queen. She was like a very grumpy, hibernating bear: as long as you didn’t poke her awake or draw attention to yourself, you’d be fine. “Come with me,” I invited Annwyl, holding out a hand. “Please.”

  She hesitated. I could tell she wanted to, but her understandable fear of the queen held her back. As one of Titania’s handmaidens, she couldn’t avoid the Summer monarch for long, and Titania’s fickle temper was legendary. I wasn’t supposed to be here, either. Technically, I needed permission from one of the rulers of Summer to cross the border into Seelie territory, but Oberon wasn’t at court, and there was no way I was asking Titania. I could get in a lot of trouble for this blatant flouting of the rules, but I wasn’t worried. As an infamous prankster once told me, you’re only in trouble if you get caught.

  “It’ll be all right, Annwyl,” I said softly, giving her my most reassuring smile. “No one will see us. It won’t take long, I promise.”

  She sighed. “You’re going to be the death of me, Keirran,” she muttered but reached out and placed her hand in mine. Her long, elegant fingers curled over my own, making my stomach twist. I smiled and turned away, leading her out of the meadow and deeper into the forest.

  “Where are we going?” she asked as we made our way through the trees, following a game trail that snaked its way through the undergrowth. We made little noise. Unlike the dense, eternal gloom of the wyldwood, the forests in Seelie territory were less tangled and far more colorful. Here, the flowers were always in bloom, the trees never bare of leaves or new buds. Birds and animals roamed freely, and vegetation ran rampant, having never known the touch of Winter or the chill of a killer frost.

  I squeezed Annwyl’s hand and gave her a brief, wicked smile. “When last we met, you told me I felt cold,” I told her. “That my Winter glamour was overshadowing everything. Do you remember?”

  “That was many moons ago, Keirran.” Annwyl’s brow furrowed. “But, yes, I remember. The grass around you was coated with frost, which is generally not a good sign if you’ve ever seen Queen Mab in one of her moods.”

  I winced. My grandmother was the very powerful, very unpredictable Queen of the Unseelie and Winter Court. If you thought Titania was scary, she was nothing compared to Queen Mab. The Winter monarch was especially frightening because so often she would appear cold and undisturbed, but a surefire way to know an explosion was coming was to watch the air and ground around her. If the temperature started dropping or ice began spreading out from her feet, that was your signal to run.

  I gave Annwyl a rueful look. “Yes, well, I took your words to heart,” I told her. “I’ve been practicing my Summer magic, and I think I’ve gotten it to the point where I won’t unintentionally kill the flowers around me.”

  “Oh?” A tiny smile played across one corner of her lips. “So, my flowers aren’t going shrivel up and die every time we meet?”

  “I hope not.” I glanced back at her with a smile. “But since you’re the one I want to impress the most, I thought you might appreciate this.”

  We stepped from the trees into a small grove, and Annwyl gasped.

  Sunlight slanted through the trees, spilling over the carpet of wildflowers stretched before us. Yellow lilies, yellow tulips, and yellow poppies grew so close together it looked like the field was made of gold, interspersed with colorful patterns of stars, hearts, and swirls. Butterflies swarmed the flowers, frantic blips of color in a dazzling sea, and the air was heavy with the perfume of thousands of petals.

  I grinned at her stunned expression. “I remember you said your favorite flowers were yellow,” I said, “because they were cheerful and reminded you of the sun. I thought you might enjoy your own field of sunlight. If you’re ever feeling sad or lonely, you can remember this and know that someone wanted very much for you to be happy.”

  “Keirran.” Annwyl stepped into the meadow, her green eyes wide as she gazed around. “You did this? This is...” She shook her head in amazement. “It’s beautiful. Even for a Summer faery, this would be difficult.”

  I chuckled. “You know me. I tend not to do anything by halves, as I’m sure you’ve noticed.”

  “How long did this take you?”

  “It doesn’t matter.” I stepped close, reaching for her hand again. “It could have taken me a hundred years. Seeing your smile makes it all worth it.”

  She blushed. I smiled and leaned in, but one hand came up to rest against my chest, stopping me from coming any closer. “Keirran,” she whispered, sounding pained now. “We can’t. You know I’m fond of you, but...”

  “It’s all right.” I stepped back, disappointment and anger churning in my gut. Not at Annwyl but at the courts. At the stupid faery law that kept us apart. It made no sense that fey from opposite courts couldn’t be together romantically, but that had been the law since time immemorial, and if the fey were anything, they were sticklers for tradition.

  Of course, my own parents had broken that law, defying all the courts of Faery to be together, and it had somehow worked
out for them. I was sure I could find a way to do the same with Annwyl. I just hadn’t thought of it yet.

  Reaching down, I plucked a bright yellow flower and placed it gently in her hair, smiling to show I wasn’t angry at her. “I understand, Annwyl,” I told her. “Don’t worry about it. I didn’t come here expecting anything. I just wanted to show you something beautiful today.”

  She smiled in return, but it was wistful. Leaning in, she placed a kiss on my cheek, making all my nerve endings stand at attention. “I appreciate it, Prince Keirran,” she murmured. “And I wish...”

  I caught her hand again and squeezed it gently. “I know,” I whispered. “Me, too.”

  * * *

  I blinked, and the memories faded, leaving me crouched above a patch of wildflowers in the middle of the forest.

  Annwyl, I miss you. Wherever you are, I hope you are happy. Someday, I will redeem myself for all the evil I brought to the Nevernever. Watch me, and keep me strong.

  “You are going to be late if you continue to stand there, Forgotten King.”

  I winced. The slow, bored voice echoing from behind me could belong to only one creature in the entire Nevernever.

  “Did Kenzie send you to find me, Grimalkin?” I said as I turned around. In a patch of sunlight on the trail, a large gray cat with golden eyes glanced up from where he had been licking his paw. With a yawn, he rose and stretched, arching his plumed tail over his back.

  “Send me to fetch you like a dog? Please.” The infamous cait sith gave me a look of bored disdain before turning away. “I was simply on my way to the event and saw you standing there, gaping at flowers. I thought perhaps you had forgotten where you were going, as your kind is distracted so very easily. In case you have forgotten, the path is this way, and you do not have much time left.”

  He yawned again, scratched an ear with a hind leg, and shot me a glance over his shoulder. “The human female seems most anxious today,” he said, almost in warning. “Were I you, I would definitely not be late.”