The Mirror King (Orphan Queen)

By: Jodi Meadows




THE PRINCE’S BLOOD was on my hands.

Screams from the courtyard below pounded through my ears, through my head, but I was blind to all but Tobiah’s motionless form. He was so still. So pale. His skin was like paper. The guards cut away his clothes, revealing the black bolt protruding from his gut. Blood splashed like angry ink, pooling around him.

“Tobiah.” The whisper splintered from inside me. My hands were on his face. His head rested on my knees.

“Trust Wilhelmina,” he’d told his guards. “Protect her.”

And then, “I don’t want to fight.”

“But that’s all we ever do.” My fingers curled over the contours of his cheek. His skin felt icy, but maybe it was my imagination.

Only half aware of the cacophony below, and guards shooting toward the assassin on a nearby rooftop, I bent until my cheek brushed Tobiah’s nose. I held my breath and listened for his.




It was weak, and I could almost hear the blood flooding his lungs in a crimson tide. Flecks of wetness dotted my cheek, but I didn’t move.




I’d learned a little about injuries from tutors the Ospreys had hired, and from the boys who were interested in medicine. Though I’d always been more concerned with causing damage, I knew about herbs and binding wounds and how quickly people could slip into shock—even those who hadn’t been hurt.

But with every one of Tobiah’s weak exhales, everything I’d been taught flew from my mind. Wet little puffs of knowledge, flying away with his gasps and rattles and sighs.

Except for one fact: Crown Prince Tobiah was unlikely to survive this injury.




If he didn’t get real help, he would die.

Only I could find it for him.

The world came crashing back in a rush of screams and shouting. The twang and whack of crossbows punctuated the voices.

“What is she doing?” Blood stained the guard’s hands as he pressed a cloth onto the prince’s wound. The men surrounding him looked up, toward me.

“Get the princess out of here,” James barked. He was a familiar face: the crown prince’s bodyguard and cousin, and my friend. I should be able to trust him. “Get her inside.”

“No!” I clung to the prince’s shoulders as someone grabbed around my middle, and another darted in to cushion the prince’s head as I was dragged away. “No! Don’t touch me!”

Even half standing, I could barely see the rooftop where the shooter had stood with his crossbow, and the boy made of wraith not far from him, following the last command I’d given him: pursue Patrick.

A soldier’s fingers dug into my ribs as I struggled. “No!” I elbowed him, and through a gap in the wall of men, I caught sight of the wraith boy returning: a flash of white against the blue sky and brown buildings.

“Wilhelmina!” he cried.

Guards shouted and one took my arms. “Come on!”

But I couldn’t move under the weight of their hands, because a memory stole over me, paralyzing.

Hands on my arms. And legs. And chest.

Less than a week ago, I’d been wearing black trousers and boots, rather than one of the exquisite gowns expected of a proper lady. I’d been caught, accused of being the vigilante known as Black Knife, accused of assassinating King Terrell in his sleep, and accused of impersonating a foreign duchess.

Dawn had just been brushing the sky, and the Indigo Order surrounded me. James had been there. Someone had cuffed me, and then the others came.



Reaching for places they had no right, until James called them off.

They’d claimed they were searching for weapons, but my skin still bore the yellow marks of fading bruises.

The phantom sensations that had haunted me since were real now.

I had to escape.

With a feral scream, I yanked myself away from the guard and landed hard on my knees. Pain flared, but I forgot all about it as the chaos below intensified, and an enormous white horror leapt over the edge of the balcony, knocking aside the men as though they were dolls.

The wraith boy’s body had elongated, his face stretched until his mouth was wide and gaping, and his pale eyes were oval and enormous. “Release my queen.” His voice boomed like thunder as he shrank and strode across the balcony, stepping around the fallen prince at the last moment. “Do not touch her.”

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