The Iron Legends: Winter's Passage\Summer's Crossing\Iron's Prophecy

BOOK: The Iron Legends: Winter's Passage\Summer's Crossing\Iron's Prophecy
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Enter the world of the internationally bestselling Iron Fey
series.

Dangerous faeries. Heartbreaking romance. Thrilling action
and limitless adventure. The world of the fey has never been so powerful. This
collection includes three novellas set in the world of The Iron Fey plus the
expanded Guide to the Nevernever and exclusive information about Julie Kagawa’s
unforgettable world of Faery.

Winter’s Passage

Never make a promise to a faery. They always come to collect.
Now Meghan Chase must fulfill her promise to Prince Ash of the Winter Court and
embark upon a dangerous journey into the heart of enemy territory—while being
pursued by a relentless new foe and guarding her own foolish heart.

Summer’s Crossing

What can turn enemies into reluctant allies? A call from the
Exile Queen, Leanansidhe, ties legendary prankster Puck to his archenemy Prince
Ash on a journey that may end in betrayal and will set them both on an
irreversible path.

Iron’s Prophecy

Before she ever knew what she might become, Iron Queen Meghan
Chase was warned by the oracle that her firstborn child would bring nothing but
grief. And even as Meghan and Ash celebrate their long-awaited union, the
prophecy stirs.…

Three Iron Fey novellas for the
first time in print!

Praise for internationally bestselling author
JULIE
KAGAWA

“Julie Kagawa is one killer storyteller.”
—MTV’s
Hollywood Crush
blog

“Kagawa has done the seemingly impossible and written a vampire
book…that feels fresh in an otherwise crowded genre. Mix[ing] paranormal and
dystopian tropes to good effect, creating a world that will appeal across
audiences.”

Kirkus Reviews
on
The Immortal Rules

“Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series is the next
Twilight.


Teen.com

“This is a true quest story…one that anyone looking for great
action and inventive worldbuilding should be sure to check out.”

RT Book Reviews
on
The Iron
Knight

“Kagawa pulls her readers into a unique world of make-believe
with her fantastic storytelling, and ultimately leaves them wanting more by the
end of each book.”

Times Record News
on
The Iron Knight

“Fans of Melissa Marr—and of Kagawa—will enjoy the ride, with
Meghan’s increased agency and growing power showing the series’ maturity.
Finally more than just a love triangle.”

Kirkus
Reviews
on
The Iron Queen

“This third installment in the series is just as compelling and
complex as its predecessors, and wholly satisfying.”

Realms of Fantasy
on
The Iron Queen

“A full five stars to Julie Kagawa’s
The
Iron Daughter.
If you love action, romance and watching how
characters mature through heart-wrenching trials, you will love this story as
much as I do.”

Mundie Moms
blog


The Iron Daughter
is a book that
will keep its readers glued to the pages until the very end.”

New York Journal of Books


The Iron King
surpasses the
greater majority of dark fantasies, leaving a lot for readers to look forward
to.… The romance is well done and adds to the mood of fantasy.”

teenreads.com


The Iron King
has the…enchantment,
imagination and adventure of…
Alice in Wonderland,
Narnia a
nd
The Lord
of the Rings,
but with lots more romance.”

Justine
magazine

Books by Julie Kagawa
from Harlequin TEEN

The Iron Fey series
(in reading
order)

The Iron King
Winter’s Passage
(ebook)*
The
Iron Daughter
The Iron Queen
Summer’s Crossing
(ebook)*
The Iron
Knight
Iron’s Prophecy
(ebook)*

*Also available in print in
The Iron
Legends
anthology

The Iron Fey—Call of the Forgotten
series

The Lost Prince

and coming in 2013

The Traitor Son

The Blood of Eden series

The Immortal Rules

JULIE KAGAWA

Winter’s Passage

Chapter One

KEEPING PROMISES

In the shadows of the cave, I watched the Hunter
approach. Silhouetted black against the snow, it stalked closer, eyes a yellow
flame in the shadows, breath coiling around it like wraiths. Ice-blue light
glinted off wet teeth and a thick shaggy pelt, darker than midnight. Ash stood
between the Hunter and me, sword unsheathed, his eyes never leaving the massive
creature that had tracked us for days, and now, had finally caught up.

“Meghan Chase.” Its voice was a growl, deeper than thunder,
more primitive than the wildest forests. The ancient golden eyes were fixed
solely on me. “I’ve finally found you.”

* * *

My name is Meghan Chase.

If there are three things I’ve learned in my time among the
fey, they are this: don’t eat anything you’re offered in Faeryland, don’t go
swimming in quiet little ponds
and never, ever, make
a bargain with anyone.

Okay, sometimes, you have no choice. Sometimes, you’ve been
backed into a corner and you have to make a deal. Like when your little brother
has been kidnapped, and you have to convince a prince of the Unseelie Court to
help you rescue him instead of dragging you back to his queen. Or, you’re lost,
and you have to bribe a smart-mouthed, talking cat to guide you through the
forest. Or you need to get through a certain door, but the gatekeeper won’t let
you through without a price. The fey love their bargains, and you have to listen
to the terms
very
carefully, or you’re going to get
screwed. If you do end up in a contract with a faery, remember this: there’s no
way you can back out, not without disastrous consequences. And faeries
always
come to collect.

Which is how, forty-eight hours ago, I found myself walking
across my front yard in the middle of the night, my house growing smaller and
smaller in the background. I didn’t look back. If I looked back, I might lose my
nerve. At the edge of the woods, a dark prince and a pair of glowing, blue-eyed
steeds waited for me.

Prince Ash, third son of the Winter Court, regarded me gravely
as I approached, his silver eyes reflecting the light of the moon. Tall and
pale, with raven-black hair and the unattainable elegance of the fey, he looked
both beautiful and dangerous, and my heart beat faster in anticipation or fear,
I couldn’t tell. As I stepped into the shadows of the trees, Ash held out a
pale, long-fingered hand, and I placed my own in his.

His fingers curled over mine, and he drew me close, hands
resting lightly on my waist. I lay my head against his chest and closed my eyes,
listening to his beating heart, breathing in the frosty scent of him.

“You have to do this, don’t you?” I whispered, my fingers
clutched in the fabric of his white shirt. Ash made a soft noise that might’ve
been a sigh.

“Yes.” His voice, low and deep, was barely above a murmur. I
pulled back to look at him, seeing myself reflected in those silver eyes. When
I’d first met him, those eyes were blank and cold, like the face of a mirror.
Ash had been the enemy, once. He was the youngest son of Mab, queen of Winter
and the ancient rival of my father, Oberon, the king of the Summer Court. That’s
right. I’m half-fey—a faery princess, no less—and I didn’t even know it until
recently, when my human brother was kidnapped by faeries and taken into the
Nevernever. When I found out, I convinced my best friend, Robbie Goodfell—who
turned out to be Oberon’s servant, Puck—to take me into Faeryland to get him
back. But being a faery princess in the Nevernever proved to be extremely
dangerous. For one, the Winter Queen sent Ash to capture me, to use me as
leverage against Oberon.

That’s when I made the bargain with the Winter prince that
would change my life: help me rescue Ethan, and I’ll go with you to the Winter
Court.

So, here I was. Ethan was home safe. Ash had kept his side of
the bargain. It was my turn to uphold my end and travel with him to the court of
my father’s ancient enemies. There was only one problem.

Summer and Winter were not supposed to fall in love.

I bit my lip and held his gaze, watching his expression. Though
I had once viewed it as frozen solid, his demeanor had thawed somewhat during
our time in the Nevernever. Now, looking at him, I imagined a glassy lake: still
and calm, but only on the surface.

“How long will I have to stay there?” I asked.

He shook his head slowly, and I could feel his reluctance. “I
don’t know, Meghan. The queen doesn’t disclose her plans to me. I didn’t dare
ask why she wanted you.” He reached up and caught a strand of my pale blond
hair, running it through his fingers. “I was only supposed to bring you back,”
he murmured, and his voice dropped even lower. “I swore I would bring you
back.”

I nodded. Once a faery promises something, he’s obligated to
carry it through, which is why making a deal is so tricky. Ash couldn’t break
his vow even if he wanted to.

I understood that, but… “I want to do something before we go,”
I said, watching for his reaction. Ash raised an eyebrow, but otherwise his
expression stayed the same. I took a deep breath. “I want to see Puck.”

The Winter prince sighed. “I suppose you would,” he muttered,
releasing me and stepping back, his expression thoughtful. “And, truth be told,
I’m curious myself. I wouldn’t want Goodfellow dying before we ever resolved our
duel. That would be unfortunate.”

I winced. Puck and Ash were ancient enemies, and had already
engaged each other in several savage, life-threatening duels before I was even
in the picture. Ash had sworn to kill Puck, and Puck took great pleasure in
goading the dangerous ice prince whenever he had the chance. It was only because
I insisted they cooperate that they had agreed to an extremely shaky truce. One
that wouldn’t last long, no matter how much I intervened.

One of the horses snorted and pawed the ground, and Ash turned
to put a hand on its neck. “All right, we’ll check on him,” he said without
turning around. “But, after that I
have
to take you
to Tir Na Nog. No more delays, understand? The queen won’t be happy with me for
taking this long.”

I nodded. “Yes. Thank y— I mean…I appreciate it, Ash.”

He smiled faintly and offered a hand again, this time to help
me into the saddle. I gingerly picked up the reins and envied Ash, who swung
easily aboard the second horse like he’d done it a thousand times.

“All right,” he said in a faintly resigned voice, staring up at
the moon. “First things first. We have to find a trod to New Orleans.”

* * *

Trods are faery paths between the real world and the
Nevernever, gateways straight into Faeryland. They can be anywhere, any doorway:
an old bathroom stall, the gate to a cemetery, a child’s closet door. You can go
anywhere in the world if you know the right trod, but getting through them is
another matter, as sometimes they’re guarded by nasty creatures the fey leave
behind to discourage unwanted guests.

Nothing guarded the enormous rotting barn that sat in the
middle of the swampy bayou, so covered in moss it looked like a shaggy green
carpet was draped over the roof. Mushrooms grew from the walls in bulbous
clumps, huge spotted things that, if you looked closely enough, sheltered
several tiny winged figures beneath them. They blinked at us as we went by, huge
multifaceted eyes peering out from under the mushroom caps, and took to the air
in a flurry of iridescent wings. I jumped, but Ash and the horses ignored them
as we stepped beneath the sagging frame and everything went white.

I blinked and looked around as the world came into focus
again.

An eerie gray forest surrounded us, mist creeping over the
ground like a living thing, coiling around the horses’ legs. The trees were
massive, soaring to mind-boggling heights, interlocking branches blocking out
the sky. Everything was dark and faded, like all color had been washed out, a
forest trapped in perpetual twilight.

“The wyldwood,” I muttered, and turned to Ash. “Why are we
here? I thought we were going to New Orleans.”

“We are.” Ash pulled his horse around to look at me. “The trod
we want is about a day’s ride north. It’s the quickest way to New Orleans from
here.” He blinked and gave me an almost smile. “Or were you planning to
hitchhike?”

Before I could reply, my horse suddenly let out a terrifying
whinny and reared, slashing the air with its forelegs. I grabbed for the mane,
but it slipped through my fingers, and I tumbled backward out of the saddle,
hitting the ground behind the horse, snapping bushes underneath. Snorting in
terror, the fey steed charged off toward the trees, leaped over a fallen branch
and vanished into the mist.

Groaning, I sat up, testing my body for pain. My shoulder
throbbed where I’d landed on it, and I was shaking, but nothing seemed
broken.

Ash’s mount was also throwing a fit, squealing and tossing its
head, but the Winter prince was able to keep his seat and bring it back under
control. Swinging out of the saddle, he tied the horse’s reins to an overhead
branch and knelt beside me.

“Are you all right?” His fingers probed my arm, surprisingly
gentle. “Anything broken?”

“I don’t think so,” I muttered, rubbing my bruised shoulder.
“That lovely patch of bramble broke my fall.” Now that the adrenaline had worn
off, dozens of stinging scratches began to make themselves known. Scowling, I
glared in the direction my mount had disappeared. “You know, that’s the second
time I’ve been thrown off a faery horse. And another time one tried to eat me. I
don’t think horses like me very much.”

“No.” Abruptly serious, Ash stood, offering a hand to pull me
to my feet. “It wasn’t you. Something spooked them.” He gazed around slowly,
hand dropping to the sword at his waist. Around us, the wyldwood was still and
dark, as if the inhabitants were afraid to move.

I looked behind us, where the trunks of two trees had grown
into each other, forming an archway between. The space between the trunks, where
the trod lay, was cloaked in shadow, and it seemed to me that the shadows were
creeping closer. A cold wind hissed through the trunks, rattling branches and
tossing leaves, and I shivered.

With a frantic rushing sound a flock of tiny winged fey burst
from the trod, swirling around us in panic and spiraling into the mist. I
yelped, shielding my face, and Ash’s horse screamed again, the sound piercing
the ominous quiet. Ash took my hand and pulled me away from the trod, hurrying
back to his mount. Lifting me to sit just behind the saddle, he grabbed the
reins and climbed up in front.

“Hold on tight,” he warned, and a thrill shot through me as I
slipped my arms around his waist, feeling the hard muscles through his shirt.
Ash dug in his heels with a shout, and the horse shot forward, snapping my head
back. I squeezed Ash tightly and buried my face in his back as the faery horse
streaked through the wyldwood, leaving the trod far behind.

* * *

We stopped infrequently, and when we did, it was only to
let me and the horse rest for a few minutes. As evening fell, Ash pulled several
food items from the horse’s pack and gave them to me; bread and dried meat and
cheese, ordinary human food. Apparently, he remembered my last experiment with
eating faery food, which hadn’t turned out so well. I nibbled the dry bread,
gnawed on the jerky and hoped he wouldn’t mention the Summerpod incident and the
embarrassment that followed.

Ash didn’t eat anything. He remained wary and suspicious, and
never truly relaxed the entire journey. The horse, too, was jumpy and restless,
and it panicked at every shadow, every rustle or falling leaf. Something was
following us; I felt it every time we stopped, a dark, shadowy presence drawing
ever closer.

As we rode on through the night, the eternal twilight of the
wyldwood finally dimmed and a pale yellow moon rose into the sky. Ash and the
fey horse both had seemingly unlimited endurance, more so than me, anyway.
Riding a horse for hours and hours is not easy, and the stress of being chased
by an unknown enemy was taking its toll. I struggled to stay awake, dozing
against the prince’s back, leaning dangerously off the sides until a jolt or
sharp word from Ash snapped me upright.

I was dozing off once more, fighting to keep my eyes open, when
Ash suddenly pulled the horse to a stop and dismounted. Blinking, I looked
around dazedly, seeing nothing but trees and shadows. “Are we there yet?”

“No.” Ash glared at me in exasperation. “But you keep
threatening to fall off the horse, and I can’t keep reaching back to make sure
you’re still on.” He motioned to the front of the saddle. “We’re switching
places. Move forward.”

I eased into the saddle and Ash swung up behind me, wrapping an
arm securely around my waist, making my pulse beat faster in excitement.

“Hold on,” he murmured as the horse started forward again.
“We’re almost to the trod. Once we’re in the mortal realm, you can rest. We
should be safe there.”

“What’s following us?” I whispered, making the horse’s ears
twitch back. Ash didn’t reply for several moments.

“I don’t know,” he muttered, sounding reluctant to admit it.
“Whatever it is, it’s persistent. We’ve been keeping a pretty steady pace and
haven’t lost it yet.”


Why
is it following us? What does
it want?”

“Doesn’t matter.” Ash’s grip around my waist tightened. “If it
wants you, it’ll have to get past me first.”

My stomach prickled, and my heart did a weird little flop. In
that moment, I felt safe. My prince wouldn’t let anything happen to me. Settling
back against him, I closed my eyes and let myself drift.

I must have dozed off, for the next thing I knew Ash was
shaking me gently. “Meghan, wake up,” he murmured, his cool breath fanning my
neck. “We’re here.”

Yawning, I looked at the small glade ahead of us. Without the
cover of the trees, I could see the sky, dotted with stars. The glade was clear,
except for one massive gnarled oak in the very center. Roots snaked out over the
ground, huge thick things that prevented anything bigger than a fern to
flourish. The trunk was wide and twisted, like three or four trees had been
squashed together into one. But even with the oak’s size and dominating
presence, I could see that it was dying. Its branches drooped, or had snapped
off and were scattered about the base of the tree. Most of its broad, veined
leaves were dead and brittle; the rest were a sickly yellow-brown. The glade,
too, looked withered and sick, as if the tree was leeching life from the forest
around it.

BOOK: The Iron Legends: Winter's Passage\Summer's Crossing\Iron's Prophecy
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