The Iron Traitor (The Iron Fey)

BOOK: The Iron Traitor (The Iron Fey)
9.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

In the real world, when you vanish into thin air for a week, people tend to notice.

After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal. Well, as “normal” as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life. Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for—his girlfriend, Kenzie. Never mind that he’s forbidden to see her again.

But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, “normal” simply isn’t to be. For Ethan’s nephew, Keirran, is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten. As Ethan’s and Keirran’s fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan’s next choice may decide the fate of them all.

Praise for internationally bestselling author Julie Kagawa and The Iron Fey series

“This many books in, Kagawa is entirely at ease in her invented world, and her ability to create strong, intriguing characters has improved noticeably since
The Iron King.
Knowledge of the previous tales is helpful but not necessary—fans will feel right at home, and new readers will have no trouble finding their way.”

Publishers Weekly
The Lost Prince

“Kagawa’s fans will enjoy this expansion of her world.”

Kirkus Reviews
The Lost Prince

“Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series is the next

“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
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
The Iron Queen

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

Realms of Fantasy
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

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.”

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


Books by Julie Kagawa available from Harlequin TEEN

The Iron Fey series
(in reading order)

The Iron King*
“Winter’s Passage” (ebook novella)**
The Iron Daughter*
The Iron Queen
“Summer’s Crossing” (ebook novella)**
The Iron Knight
“Iron’s Prophecy” (ebook novella)**
The Lost Prince
The Iron Traitor

*Also available in
The Iron Fey Volume One
**Also available in print in
The Iron Legends

Blood of Eden series
(in reading order)

The Immortal Rules
The Eternity Cure

And coming in May 2014

The Forever Song

To Guro Ron, for letting me pick his brain.
And to Nick, for letting me hit him with sticks.

Part I



My name is Ethan Chase.

Just shy of a week ago, I was dragged into Faeryland.


The first time it happened, I was four. Yeah, four years old, kidnapped by faeries and taken into the Nevernever, home of the fey. Long story short, my older sister rescued me and brought me home, but became a faery queen herself and now rules a part of the Nevernever called the Iron Realm.

Thirteen years later, despite all the precautions I took against the Fair Folk, it happened again. I found myself smack-dab in the middle of the Nevernever, and this time, I wasn’t alone. A classmate of mine, a girl named Mackenzie St. James, managed to get pulled in, as well. A lot of weird, screwed-up stuff happened in the next few days, like following a talking cat through the Nevernever, meeting my sister in the Iron Realm, sneaking
of the Iron Realm to meet up with the Queen of the Exiles and, oh yeah, discovering that my sister has a son. That’s right, I have a nephew. A nephew who is part fey, completely unknown to my parents, and who, by way of screwy faery time, is the same age as me.

There is one other important thing we discovered—the emergence of a new, deadly species of fey called the Forgotten, faeries that almost don’t exist anymore because they’ve been unremembered for so long. Faeries that have to steal the glamour from regular fey to survive, killing them in the process. But for me, the nephew thing sort of stands out. If I thought my family was weird before, it’s not even a blip on the weirdness scale now. I thought I’d seen it all. But when I got pulled into the Nevernever, the thing I never saw coming was Keirran.

When Keirran went back into the Nevernever, I knew I hadn’t seen the last of him. Still, I had no idea how entangled my life would soon become with his, and how he would be the catalyst...for the end of everything.

* * *

Sometimes I wished everyone paid less attention to me. Sometimes I even wished I had faery blood, so that when the really weird things started happening around me, people would forget they’d seen it as soon as I left. That worked for Robin Goodfellow, the most infamous faery in existence. And to a lesser extent, it even worked for my sister. But in the real world, if you’re fully human and you vanish into thin air for nearly a week, people tend to notice. If you vanish at the same time as a very rich, popular classmate, they notice even more.

Which was why, I supposed, I was back in the principal’s office the Monday after I returned from the Nevernever. Only this time, there were two policemen in the room as well, looming over my chair and looking stern. Kids passing by peered through the door’s window and gaped at me before hurrying off with their friends, whispering. Great. I already had a reputation for being a delinquent and a troublemaker; this probably wasn’t going to help.

“Do you know why we’ve brought you here, Mr. Chase?” the principal said, pursing his thin mouth. I shrugged. I’d been in this office on my first day of school and knew the principal thought I was a lost cause. No point in trying to change his mind. Besides, the two officers were far more worrisome.

“We’d like to ask you a few questions about Todd Wyndham,” one of the policemen stated, making my stomach twist. “As you may know, he disappeared last Friday, and his mother filed a missing-persons report when he didn’t return from school. According to her, the last person to speak to him before he vanished...was you.”

I swallowed. Todd Wyndham was a classmate of mine, and I knew exactly what had happened to him that night. But there was no way I was going to tell the police officers that Todd was part fey, a half-breed who had been kidnapped by the Forgotten and drained of his glamour. Problem was, draining his glamour had also robbed him of his memories, his emotions and his sense of self. By the time Kenzie and I had found him, his magic was already gone, leaving him dazed, passive and completely human.

Keeping my voice steady, I faced the officer who had spoken. “Yeah, I saw him at school that day. Everyone did. What’s the big deal?”

“The big deal,” the officer continued, frowning harder, “is that Todd Wyndham showed up at his home last week completely shell-shocked. He doesn’t remember much, but he has told us that he was kidnapped and that there were other kidnap victims. His symptoms are on par with someone who has witnessed a violent crime, and we fear the kidnapper could strike again soon. We’re hoping that you can shed some light on Todd’s condition.”

“Why me?”

The policeman narrowed his eyes. “Because on the day after Todd’s disappearance, Mrs. St. James reported her daughter missing, as well. She was last seen at a martial arts tournament, speaking to
Witnesses say that you pulled her out of the building, into the parking lot, and then you both disappeared. Care to tell me what happened, Ethan?”

My heart pounded, but I kept my cool, sticking to the script Kenzie and I had come up with. “Kenzie wanted to see New York City,” I said casually. “Her dad didn’t want her to go. But she really wanted to see it, you know...before she
” They blinked, probably not knowing if I was being serious or overly dramatic. I shrugged again. “She asked me to take her, so I did. She never said her dad didn’t know she was leaving.”

Kind of a lame excuse, but I couldn’t tell them the real reason, of course. That a bunch of murderous Forgotten had found us at the tournament, chased us into the parking lot, and I’d had to send us both into the Nevernever to escape.

The policeman’s lips thinned, and I crossed my arms. “If you don’t believe me, ask Kenzie,” I told him. “She’ll tell you the same thing.”

“We intend to do that.” They straightened and backed away, making gestures to let me know we were done here. “Go on back to class, but we’ll be watching you, Ethan. Stay out of trouble, you hear?”

Relieved, I stood and headed for the door. As I left I could feel the principal’s glare on my back. He’d probably hoped I’d be arrested and carted off to juvie; one less delinquent for him to deal with. I certainly gave off the image of the sullen, brooding troublemaker: ripped jeans, shirt turned inside out, pierced ears and defiant smirk firmly in place. But whatever. I wasn’t here to be a perfect student or win any trophies. I just wanted to get through the year without any major disasters. Any
major disasters.

I slipped out of the principal’s office with a sigh of relief. Another bullet dodged. I was an expert at lying to cover up the truth no one else could see. That the fey were out there and couldn’t seem to leave me alone. To keep the people around me safe, I’d become someone no one wanted to be around. I’d driven away potential friends, isolated myself and basically been a dick to anyone who tried to get close to me. Usually it worked. Once I made it clear that I wanted to be left alone, people did just that. No one wanted to deal with a hostile jerk.

Except one girl.

Dammit, I hope she’s okay. Where are you, Kenzie? I hope you didn’t get into trouble because of me.

I supposed we were lucky that we’d been gone only a week. In the Nevernever, time flows differently than in the real world. There are stories of those who vanished into Faeryland for a year and when they came home again, a hundred years had gone by and all they’d known before was changed. Losing one week was getting off pretty easy, but to everyone looking for us, we appeared to have vanished into thin air. With one exception, no one had seen or heard any trace of us from the time we left the tournament until the night we came home, several days later.

So Kenzie and I had had to come up with a really good excuse for when we got back.

* * *

“Are you sure?” I’d asked, gazing into her chocolate-brown eyes, seeing my worried reflection staring back at me. “That’s the story you want to give your dad when we get home? You decided to visit New York, and I agreed to drive you there?”

Kenzie had shrugged, the moonlight shining off her raven hair. Behind her, the great expanse of Central Park was a black-and-silver patchwork quilt, fading into the glimmering towers over the tree line. Her slim arms hung around my waist, her fingers tracing patterns in the small of my back, distracting me. “Can you think of anything better?”

“Not really.” I shivered as her fingers slipped under the hem of my shirt and brushed my skin. I resisted the urge to squirm and tried to focus. “But won’t he be mad that you just took off without telling him?”

The girl in my arms gave a bitter smile, not looking up. “He has no right to be,” she muttered. “He doesn’t care what I do. He never checks up on me. As long as I come back with all my fingers and toes, he won’t care where I’ve been. And if he
say something, I...I’ll tell him that I wanted to see New York City before I died. What is he going to do?”

My gut twisted for a different reason then. I didn’t answer, and Kenzie peeked up at me, apologetic. “What about you?” she asked, cocking her head. “What do you want to tell your family when we get home?”

“Don’t worry about it,” I told her. “My family has dealt with this before.”
When we lost Meghan.
“I’ll come up with something.”

She fell silent, chewing on her lip. Her soft fingers were still tracing patterns beneath my shirt, sending tremors up my spine. “Ethan?” she said finally, her voice strangely hesitant. “Um...I’m going to see you again, when we get back to the real world, right?”

“Yeah,” I whispered, knowing exactly what she meant. She wasn’t worried that I would fade from sight like one of the fey, but that I would go back to being that mean, hostile jackass who kept everyone at arm’s length. “I promise, I’m not going anywhere,” I told her, brushing a dark strand of hair from her eyes. “I’ll even do normal things like take you to dinner and go to the movies, if you want.”

Kenzie grinned. “Can I introduce you as my boyfriend?”

My stomach lurched the other way. “If you think introducing me to anyone is a good idea,” I said, shrugging. “I just hope your dad is as lenient on your boyfriends as he is on your whereabouts. You said he’s a lawyer, right?” I grimaced. “I can just see how that first meeting is going to go.”

Kenzie rose on tiptoe, her hands climbing my chest to my shoulders, and touched her lips to mine. I sucked in a breath and closed my eyes, feeling her soft mouth caress my lips, forgetting everything for a moment.

“Let me handle my dad,” she murmured when we drew back.

“Prince Ethan.” A short faery with a potato-like nose, wrinkled and stubby, padded up. The gnome was dressed in a long white coat, and one of its arms was mechanical, the fingers made of needles, tweezers, even a scalpel. “You are injured,” it stated, gesturing to the rough bandages trussed around my leg and arm where I’d been sliced open by a couple nasty faery knights. My sleeve and half my pant leg were covered in blood. “The Iron Queen has bid me to tend to your wounds. As she said, in her own words, ‘I do not want Mom and Luke freaking out the second he comes home.’ Please, sit down.”

Kenzie let me go, and, suddenly feeling my injuries, I maneuvered painfully into a seated position. “You can stitch me up all you want,” I grumbled as the gnome’s index finger became a pair of tiny scissors and began cutting away my arm wrap. “They’re still going to freak out when they see me half-drenched in blood. I see an emergency room visit in my future.”

“Not necessarily,” the gnome returned, and waved its regular arm. I felt the tingle of glamour settle over me as the blood on my shirt abruptly...vanished. Holes disappeared, tears stitched themselves together and my clothes looked perfectly normal again. Beside me, Kenzie drew in a sharp breath, even as I recoiled, not wanting any faery glamour put on me, even if it seemed harmless.

“Oh, calm down,” the gnome said, taking my arm again. “It’s an illusion, nothing more. But it will break the second you remove your clothes, so I suggest you make sure you are alone when you decide to change. As for these—” it plucked at the sleeve of my shirt “—I suggest a nice bonfire.”

* * *

When I’d gotten home that night, I’d been bracing myself for an interrogation. Thanks to my sister disappearing into Faeryland thirteen years ago, my parents were paranoid and overprotective to the
degree. If I was out five minutes past curfew, Mom would be calling my phone, demanding to know where I was, if I was all right. As I’d slipped through the front door that night, I still hadn’t known what I was going to tell them, but when I’d seen them in the living room, waiting for me, I’d realized they already knew.

It seemed they had received a visit from the Iron Queen that very night, and Meghan had told them I was safe. That I had been with her in the Nevernever and I was on my way home. She didn’t tell them the whole truth, of course; she’d left out the parts with Keirran, and the Forgotten, and how I’d almost died a few times. I’d thought Mom and Dad would want the rest of the story; even if they couldn’t see the bloodstains covering my clothes, or the stitched wounds beneath them, they’d had to know
had gone down in Faeryland. But whatever Meghan had told them seemed to be enough. Mom had just hugged the breath out of me, asked if I was all right about four dozen times and left it at that.

Truthfully, I didn’t think she wanted to know. Mom was terrified of the fey and thought that if she pretended they didn’t exist, they wouldn’t harass us. Which kind of sucked for me, because they
But, at least that night, I’d been glad I didn’t have to explain myself. It wasn’t often that I was let off the hook. I’d just hoped Kenzie’s family was as understanding.

I sighed, scrubbing my hand through my hair, worried again. I hadn’t seen her since the night she went home, back to her dad and her stepmom. I’d tried calling her over the weekend, but either her phone was still dead or it had been taken away, because my calls went straight to voice mail. Worried and restless, I’d gotten to school early this morning in the hopes of seeing her, finding out how her family had taken her abrupt disappearance, but I’d been pulled into the principal’s office before I could catch a glimpse of the girl who was very suddenly my whole world.

BOOK: The Iron Traitor (The Iron Fey)
9.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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