Authors: Hilary Wagner
THE NIGHTSHADE CHRONICLES
The White Assassin
BOOK I OF THE NIGHTSHADE CHRONICLES
Holiday House / New York
Text copyright © 2010 by Hilary Wagner
Illustrations copyright © 2010 by Omar Rayyan
All Rights Reserved
HOLIDAY HOUSE is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
ISBN 978-0-8234-2450-4 (ebook)w
ISBN 978-0-8234-2686-7 (ebook)r
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Wagner, Hilary.
Nightshade City / Hilary Wagner.—1st ed.
Summary: Eleven years after the cruel Killdeer took over the Catacombs far beneath the human’s Trillium City, Juniper Belancourt, assisted by Vincent and Victor Nightshade, leads a maverick band of rats to escape and establish their own city.
ISBN 978-0-8234-2285-2 (hardcover)
[1. Fantasy. 2. Rats—Fiction.] I. Title.
ISBN 978-0-8234-2387-3 (paperback)
To my husband,
HIS BOOK IS FOR MY
husband, Eric, the man who dared me to write this story! He put up with my craziness and found his way through the early drafts, giving brilliant insight along with unwavering love and support. There would be no
This book was inspired by my son, Vincent—my smart, funny, and strong-minded boy, who is the essence of Vincent Nightshade, and by his sister, Nomi, my clever little girl, who was with me the entire time I wrote
born the week the novel was finished.
I am forever grateful to Marietta Zacker and Nancy Gallt. Marietta and Nancy stood behind this book and were absolutely vital in making it happen. From day one, Marietta has championed my writing; she has been nothing short of an inspiration. I could not ask for a better agent or friend and do not know what I’d do without her to keep me sane!
Many, many thanks go to everyone at Holiday House. Julie Amper, my extraordinary editor, did unqualified wonders with the book, not to mention that she taught me a great deal. I know I’m a better writer for it, and I can only hope to work with her in the future.
Last, but by no means least, this book is for Craig Virden. He called me on a Tuesday, forever changing my life. He took a chance on my book, and he took a chance on me. Without a doubt, a small part of his spirit dwells within the corridors of
burning brightly for one and all to see.
like the dead, his infant son curled next to him, murmuring peacefully. The boy’s miniature tail and feet were snugly tucked under Juniper’s dense winter fur. The fire smoldered softly, infusing the room with a warm caramel glow, the ideal setting for a midday nap. Juniper had earned his rest. The battle was over, and for the first time in a long time, life underground was calm.
A noise interrupted Juniper’s sleep—a dull scraping against the planking of his chamber door. “Who is it?” he called out. Juniper sluggishly looked up from the rocking chair, hoping that the anonymous knocker would go away and that his much-needed nap could continue. He listened for a reply; no answer. It appeared that the stranger at the door had given up. Letting his muscles once again relax, Juniper settled back into his slumber, his substantial arm cradling the tiny boy.
A low, raspy voice whispered, “Juniper. Juniper, wake up.”
Juniper half opened his eye and for a second time looked towards the door, now a bit bothered. “Whoever is there, please come back tomorrow. I’ll be more than happy to talk to you first thing in the morning. I promise you will have my undivided attention.” He waited for a response; again no answer. The stranger had gone. “Thank the Saints,” Juniper said. The room was silent, apart from the baby, who squeaked softly as Juniper shifted in the chair and once again drifted off.
“Juniper!” railed the voice, jolting him from his tranquil state. Juniper bolted from his chair, and plucking up his son, he reached into the fire pit for the hot poker, but it had vanished. He looked frantically for a weapon, quickly grabbing a knife off the table. Trying to follow the voice, he blindly swung the dull blade into the shadows.
There was a crash. Juniper jerked around. His leather satchel had been ripped from its hook and had fallen to the hard dirt floor, its contents sprawled everywhere. Unable to see in the hidden corners, he spun wildly in a confused circle. He hollered angrily into the dark. “Come out! Come out and face me, coward! I
why you’ve come!”
Finding a match, Juniper swiftly lit the wall torches, illuminating all things unseen, and still clutching his sleeping boy, he scoured the room.
No one was there.