Authors: C. R. Grey
Also by C. R. Grey
Animas, Book One: Legacy of the Claw
Text copyright Â© 2015 by Paper Lantern Lit, LLC
Illustrations copyright Â© 2015 by James Madsen
Map illustration copyright Â© 2014 by Kayley LeFaiver
Cover illustration Â© 2015 by James Madsen
Cover design by Marci Senders
All rights reserved. Published by Disney â¢ Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
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Hyperion, 125 West End Avenue, New York, New York 10023.
A true ruler sees a false one in the mirror; a false ruler sees only themselves.
The Child of War is the mirror they gaze into: the Child is both the reflection and the opposite of evil.
A WRETCHED WIND HOWLED
across the northern Dust Plains, stirring up brittle blades of dead grass. Barks and yips echoed through a gray stone compound:
the sound of ten young jackals, enclosed in a wire cage just outside.
The barking did not bother the man sitting inside the compound. He enjoyed the sounds of chaos.
The Jackal, known only to his intimates and his long-dead mother as Lawrence, sat with his broad back to the window. In front of him stretched a wooden table the length of two lions standing
nose-to-nose, littered with gears and scraps of metal. In the middle of the table, like a fresh kill, lay an enormous metal crow. Where its heart would have been was an intricate device with an
exposed button. The Jackal pressed it and listened.
The Child of War is here, at the school.â¦
A woman's voice echoed from the bird's flayed mechanical innards.
The tiger must be close by. Don't worry. Tonight the
child dies, and your throne is safe.â¦
The Jackal's snicker filled the room. So, lovely little Viviana Melore was investigating the propheciesâand like him, she would kill to keep her throne. Birds of a metal feather, he
thought, tracing his finger along a discarded copper wing on the table. He'd heard about the demise of Ms. Sucrette, howeverâand not a whisper about a white beast or a dead student. She
clearly hadn't succeeded in her task.
“I managed to kill hundreds of white tigers,” the Jackal said, laughing, “and Viviana can't even kill one!”
Most everyone in Aldermere believed that the Jackal had been executedâall the better for him, as this allowed his lackeys to gain information that would otherwise be denied him. Parliament
had spared his life, exiling him to the Dust Plains. But Parliament had now fallen, and he saw his chance to make some mischief in broad daylight. His Dust Plains agentsâthieves and thugs and
self-proclaimed “lords” of the outer territoriesâwould be more than happy to plunder the Gray City in his name, for the promise of food and a trunk of snailbacks.
He slipped into the uniform jacket that was draped over the back of his chair and surveyed himself in a small mirror hanging on the stone wall. He was not as strong as he had once been, but his
broad figure was still imposing. And the scarsâyes, the scars, those certainly helped him maintain a fearsome appearance. He fingered the soft trail of puckered skin that ran from the bridge
of his nose down to the underside of his jaw.
Viviana would be a trembling little girl in his presence, no matter how she'd trussed herself up. She'd been a small child when he'd killed her father and ordered his soldiers
to set the palace alight. Undoubtedly, she'd grown up with a grudge. But as the Jackal grinned at his own reflection he felt sure that he could easily overwhelm the seemingly impervious new
queen. After all, she feared for her throne, and killing the tiger would not help her keep hold of it.
Because I will find it first.
The thought delighted him. The legendary beast of prophecy could actually prove useful, if one was in need of a comeback.
Which the Jackal most certainly was.
AS THE RIGIMOTIVE CREAKED
into the Fairmount station, Bailey felt a surge of joy. The Midwinter break had only been six weeks, but it felt like months
since he'd awakened to his Animas. Being away from his kin had made the days at home seem long and flatânothing compared to the excitement of his first few months at school. And now
being so near to his kin, the great white tiger Taleth, again had him feeling light-headed with anticipation. He couldn't wait to see her, and to continue training with Tremelo, who would
teach him how to strengthen and utilize his newly formed bond.
Hal crouched at the rigimotive window, scanning the waiting crowd through his thick glasses. Outside, a fresh layer of snow dusted the station roof and the hedges beyond, and the gaggle of
students on the platform were dressed in cozy coats and scarves. Bailey saw his friends Tori and Phi waving, their breath floating up like mist into the air. Phi's falcon, Carin, stood on her
usual perch: the protective leather patch strapped to Phi's shoulder.
“It's the girls,” Hal said, nudging Bailey excitedly. A pain shot through Bailey's right arm and he flinched. He was still healing from the deep knife wound that ran up
his forearm, given to him in the fall by the Dominae spy Ms. Sucrette. Hal sucked in his breath.
“Ooh, sorry, Bailey,” he said. “I forgot.”
“It's okay,” said Bailey. He adjusted his sling and pulled his coat over his shoulders.
As soon as he disembarked from the rigimotive, Bailey could sense the presence of Taleth somewhere in the nearby woods. He felt relief to have the tiger so close, though he knew he'd have
to keep his Awakening a secret still. The Dominae would be looking for a white tiger and its human kin, and revealing his true Animas would put both him and Taleth directly in their sights. Just as
he'd struggled the previous semester to hide the fact that he hadn't Awakened, now he'd have to hide that he actually had.
“Bailey! Hal!” called Phi, hurrying over to them. She and Tori pushed through the throng of students and their kin. A pack of dogs, along with a couple of raccoons and badgers,
played happily in the snow as students hustled across the platform to find their trunks. Phi hugged both Bailey and Hal, taking care to avoid Bailey's injured arm. Tori stood back from them,
“We've been waiting for you,” Tori said, with an air of importance. Bailey noticed a small, triangular black face peeking out from her coat sleeveâa snake. It flashed its
beadlike yellow eyes at him and retreated. “You're supposed to see Tremelo as soon as you get here, and not talk to anybody about yourâ¦well, you know.”