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In this dark, action-packed fourth book in the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series, Amy Gumm travels from Oz to the twisted land of Ev, where she fights to free Oz from evil once and for all.
My name is Amy Gumm. You might remember me as the other girl from Kansas. When a tornado swept me away to the magical land of Oz, I was given a mission: Dorothy must die. That’s right, everyone’s favorite Wicked-Witch-slayer had let the magic of Oz corrupt her. She turned evil. So I killed her.
But just when we thought it was safe to start rebuilding the damaged land of Oz, we were betrayed. Now I’m following the Road of Yellow Brick as it helps me escape toward the mysterious land of Ev, where the Nome King rules a bleak and angry world. And what I’m about to find is shocking: My original mission may not have been successful.
I thought my job was over, but it’s only just beginning. And it’s up to me to foil Dorothy’s plans for revenge—and finally save the land I’ve come to love.
Quelle surprise, bitches! I’m not dead!
Believe me, I’m just as shocked as you are. When the Emerald Palace started crumbling around me and that god-awful Amy Gumm left me to die, I thought I was a goner.
There I was, inches from death, abandoned by Amy and her dimwit boy toy—after everything I’ve done for Oz! These kinds of situations really lead you to face your own mortality, do you know what I mean? Some people say their entire life flashes before their eyes. At the moment the palace fell, I totally expected to die. And I wasn’t happy about it, but I’ve led an exciting and productive life and accomplished a lot. People would definitely remember me after I passed. I had to be content with that.
A huge chunk of the cavern crashed down right next to my head. I closed my eyes and prepared to say good-bye—and then the floor fell out beneath me and I tumbled into the arms of the handsomest man I’d ever seen, just like that.
That was how I met my current fiancé, the Nome King (so romantic, don’t you think! I couldn’t have staged it better myself) although of course I had no idea at that exact moment who he was or how on earth he’d gotten there—in the nick of time, too—or that shortly I’d be planning our wedding. Or that I’d also be working on thwarting an extremely diabolical plot against poor little moi.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to my rescue.
He gently laid me on a silver sleigh pulled by some of his soldiers. They were all clad in identical black uniforms, and discs of light were embedded in their foreheads. This light lit our way down the tunnel. I couldn’t help but wonder if they’d been born that way, or if the Nome King had someone like Scare come up with clever inventions. Instead of running on snow, the sleigh moved across stone, just as smoothly. It was piled high with red velvet blankets and pillows.
My rescuer got into the sleigh next to me and poured some water out of a silver flask onto a soft cloth, dabbing the dust and blood from my face with a featherlight touch. There must have been something special in that water because I felt almost instantly better. His servants took off running, and good thing they did—behind us, the tunnel began to collapse. But luckily his soldiers were as fast as they were strong, and soon we left the destruction behind.
Once we were clear of the palace and farther into the dark tunnel, I looked down and inspected myself. It was worse than I thought—my dress was ruined. I felt every slash in the gingham like a wound to my heart. I also had bruises and cuts. I called on my magic to repair the damage but felt only a faint flicker in response. I must still be too weak from the collapse of the palace. I would have to try again later.
I turned my attention to my rescuer. “Who are you?” I asked. Even then I had my suspicions about the identity of my knight in shining bald armor who had whisked me out of danger.
“I am the King of Ev,” he told me solemnly. “I had a premonition you might be in danger, dearest Dorothy. I’ve been digging under the Deadly Desert for years”—I kept mum, but between you and me, he was not supposed to be doing that—“trying to reach Oz on a mission of peace.”
I raised one eyebrow. Even in my weakened state, I knew the Nome King did not exactly have a reputation as the world’s greatest pacifist. But it was like he could read the thought before it even finished crossing my mind.
“I know in the past I haven’t always been a perfect ruler,” he said quickly. “But things are desperate in Ev, Dorothy, and only Oz can help us. For years, my people have been starving. The earth is barren. The citizens are poor and without hope.”
Not my problem, I thought.
“You’re poor?” I blurted.
“My land is poor in some ways, but rich in others,” he replied cryptically.
I cocked my head to the side. I was not a fan of riddles, even though every witch and even the Wizard himself (when he was alive) spouted them on a regular basis, but he had just saved my life, so I kept listening.
He reached into his pocket and then held out his closed fist. When he opened it, it was filled with rubies. Red, like my shoes. I reached for them, but he closed his hand with a chuckle.
He hung his head humbly. “I’ve made mistakes, Dorothy, and I regret them every day. But I’m reaching out now to try and make amends for the sake of my people.”
Who among us hasn’t done things she might regret at some point in her life? You might find this hard to believe, but even I wonder sometimes if I always did the best thing for Oz. I, for one, should not have been so kind. I should have killed Ozma and Amy Gumm when I had the chance. If I had just been less merciful, then Tin, Scare, and the Lion might still be alive. My beautiful palace would not have landed on top of me.
It’s a natural consequence of being a ruler, of course—you’re just responsible for so much. It’s impossible to be everything that everyone expects of you. And if sometimes you overreact because of stress or something like that, you know the whole world is watching and judging, even though you’re only trying your best.
Where I come from, in Kansas, trying your best is all you can do. But in Oz people expected me to be perfect. I immediately understood what the Nome King was saying. He needed someone who’d been there. Who knew how he felt. Only another ruler could sympathize with what he was going through.
“I understand exactly what you mean, Nome King,” I said, covering his hand with my own. His skin was cool and smooth as stone.
I don’t think I’m imagining things when I say I felt a spark at that very first touch. In all my life I’d never met a man who was my equal. Of course, Tin had been in love with me for ages, but that was just creepy.
It’s next to impossible to resist my charms—I’m the prettiest girl in Oz, even battered by a ceiling and covered in dust. So I wasn’t surprised to recognize his attraction.
But I was intrigued.
The Nome King clasped his hands together and closed his eyes. I watched curiously as he opened his hands and was delighted to see that he’d turned the small pile of rubies into a delicate bracelet of tiny ruby flowers winding around one another. I inhaled deeply as he slipped it on my wrist.
As his servants carried us forward, the Nome King opened a satchel beautifully crafted out of leather and steel filigree. He offered me a bunch of sunberries and I graciously accepted them, delicately placing each berry inside my ruby-red lips and allowing the bright, flavorful juice to wash the dryness out of my mouth. He watched me eat but took nothing himself. When I was refreshed, he spoke again.
“It goes without saying that you’re the true ruler of Oz, Dorothy. Not Ozma,” he said. “The people of Oz know it in their hearts.”
“I’m so glad you think so,” I purred.
I didn’t let my anger show, but I was furious with that stupid, awful fairy Ozma. Her and her stupid fairy magic. Always spoiling my fun! Thinking she knew best. Thinking she was the queen of all things magical. If she hadn’t meddled and tried to stop me from learning magic, Auntie Em and Uncle Henry would still be . . .
I pushed the thought aside and blinked hard to will the image away. The tornado that carried the house was mine, but I had been aiming for Ozma. She provoked me. She cost me my only family. And Amy Gumm had cost me my makeshift one.
The Nome King cleared his throat, reminding me that I needed to answer him.
“I’m sure Ozma will do just fine,” I said coolly.
“Oh, I’m sure,” he agreed with a smile. “But you did better, and you know it. Oz needs you, Dorothy. You have a duty to fulfill. You have a destiny.”
I liked the sound of that. I didn’t trust him as far as I could throw him, but he certainly knew the way to my heart.
“You really think so?”
“I know it.” He took my hand, looking deep into my eyes with his silver gaze, and my heart began to race. He was so handsome, so powerful. I’d heard stories of his magic. His strength.
I felt something. Something almost as warm and glowy as when my magic coursed through me. It wasn’t his looks. It wasn’t even the gorgeous bracelet that now rested on my wrist (although that didn’t hurt). It was that there was no fear in his eyes when he looked at me. And he was also Wicked. Perhaps more Wicked than all the Wicked Witches combined. And don’t tell anyone, that was a little hot, too.
“I’ve seen it, Dorothy,” he said in a low, urgent voice. “It’s why I came to rescue you. You must return to the throne in order for your country to be whole. It would be my honor to help you.”
Well, I wasn’t expecting that. I tried not to let my surprise show. “And in return?” I asked sharply, although I already knew the answer.
“Perhaps a modest exchange between our kingdoms,” he suggested.
I looked down at my hands—one of which was still in his.
My manicure had been absolutely ruined by the collapse of the Emerald Palace. My knuckles were bruised and scraped raw. I was exhausted. But I wasn’t stupid.
I knew he meant much more than a modest exchange. He meant that if he helped me take control of Oz again, I’d be in debt to Ev—more specifically, to him—forever. But I’d been around the block a few times by that point. Handsome and magical he might be, but the Nome King should have known better than to underestimate me.
“Do you really think Oz needs me so badly?” I asked coyly, as if dazzled by his praise. (See into the future? Please. Even Glinda can’t do that.)
“I’ve foreseen it,” he intoned solemnly. His voice did send a tiny thrill through me. Even if it wasn’t true, it sounded divine.
“I never wanted power,” I said, dropping my eyes modestly and looking up at him through my lashes. “I only wanted to do what was right for Oz.”
“And that’s why you were born to be its leader,” he said, bringing my hand to his chest and holding it there.
He didn’t seem to have a heartbeat, but we all have our little quirks.
I pretended to think about it. “Glinda will be a problem,” I said, as if this had just occurred to me.
“Glinda will come around,” he said lightly. “She knows what’s best for Oz, just as you do.”
I wasn’t so sure about that. Glinda had been an absolute pain in my ass lately—and attacking the Order without me? As if she was the one in charge?
But I reassured myself with the thought that Glinda could hardly rule Oz herself—she was a witch, not a queen—and once I was returned to the throne, I’d see that she was punished for her disobedience. For the good of Oz. The Nome King and I would go over that later.
“Where are you taking me?”
“To Ev, where you can be safe,” he said.
I thought about this.
I might be a bitch, but I’m not an idiot. There was something else going on here, something big. The Nome King was not rescuing me out of some altruistic desire to see me sitting once more on the throne of Oz. And Oz might be rich where Ev was poor, but that wasn’t the only reason he’d rescued me.
No, he was up to something. And I was willing to bet it was something that was going to benefit him, not me.
However, I was alive. And more or less in one piece.
And surrounded by his henchmen, being carried—if not by force, certainly potentially by force—to a country I didn’t stand a chance of escaping without help or magic. In short, I wasn’t in much of a position to argue with him.
“I’ve always wanted to see Ev,” I lied politely. “You certainly went to an awful lot of trouble to rescue me, and I haven’t properly thanked you at all.” I ate another handful of sunberries, too hungry to remember to chomp on them seductively. Oops.
“It’s really nothing at all,” the Nome King said. There was a glint of menace in his eye. But there was something else. He was attracted to me, too. I smiled back at him radiantly.
Until I knew exactly what his game was, I’d play. I needed to know what the stakes were before I made any bets. And I needed to gather my energy.
The Nome King was either a very dangerous friend—or a very interesting enemy.
“I can’t wait until we’ve arrived,” I said. “But now, you must forgive me . . . I have to rest.”
“Of course,” he said. The glint in his eye was gone and he was every bit the solicitous host again. If he’d wanted to harm me—right then, anyway—I doubted he’d go to all the trouble of rescuing me just to murder me in his magic sleigh on the way back to Ev, so I let my eyelids drift closed.
The last thing I heard before I sank into a merciful, much-needed sleep was the Nome King humming some strange, old tune under his breath, and the soft hiss of the runners as we flew forward over the stone.