Authors: Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
In the Forests of the Night
Demon in My View
Persistence of Memory
Token of Darkness
All Just Glass
Promises to Keep
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Text copyright Â© 2016 by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Cover art copyright Â© 2016 by Sammy Yuen
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.
Delacorte Press is a registered trademark and the colophon is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Atwater-Rhodes, Amelia.
Title: Bloodtraitor / Amelia Atwater-Rhodes.
Description: First Edition. | New York : Delacorte Press,  | Series: The Maeve'ra ; volume 3 | Summary: “When a mercenary from the vampires' inner circle proposes a daring plan to bring down the empire of Midnight, Malachi must feign support for his unstable sister so his prophecy can be fulfilled. He must do it for his family, for his peopleâand for their freedom”âProvided by publisher.
Identifiers: LCCN 2015023325| ISBN 978-0-385-74307-5 (hardback) | ISBN 978-0-307-98077-9 (ebook)
Subjects: | CYAC: Fantasy. | ShapeshiftingâFiction. | VampiresâFiction. | PropheciesâFiction. | Brothers and sistersâFiction. | BISAC: JUVENILE FICTION / Fantasy & Magic. | JUVENILE FICTION / Legends, Myths, Fables / General. | JUVENILE FICTION / Action & Adventure / Survival Stories.
Classification: LCC PZ7.A8925 Bk 2016 | DDC [Fic]âdc23
Cover design and interior design by Jinna Shin
is dedicated to Brittany Maresh, a dear friend of mine whose writing, perseverance, dedication, and brilliance are a constant inspiration to me. I couldn't have made it through Maeve'ra without you.
This has been a year of major changesâsome wonderful, some horrific, and some still to be decided. I've lost people I never thought I could do without, rediscovered friends I thought gone forever, and learned the incredible love a mother feels for her newborn child. For that reason,
is also dedicated to all the people who come and go in our lives:
To the stranger we speak with for a few minutes on the train, and never see again. To brothers and sisters who stand by us no matter what. To college friends we cherish for a semester and then drift from when the summer comes. To lifelong friends who are as dear to us as family. To Internet buddies and neighborhood pals.
To the people we can't stand, who irritate us, challenge us, frustrate us, and drive us to compete. To the people we admire, who inspire us, encourage us, and push us to achieve. To the cute barista we smile at without asking his or her name, the adolescent crush who broke our heart, and the love of our life. To our teachersâgood, bad, and indifferentâand our students. To our bosses, employees, customers, and clients.
Maeve'ra is dedicated to all of you.
MACHIAVELLI BELIEVED THAT
the ends justify the means.
He had many opinions, mostly about what it means to be a leader, and how to maintain peaceâand, more importantly, control. He says that it is best for a prince to be both feared and loved, but that if you cannot manage both, it is better to be feared than loved.
A ruler should not be overly generous, except when he can spend that which belongs to others. He should always keep his word, or at least always seem to. He must control his own army through cruelty, because that is the only way to keep his troops' respect, but he should never abuse his subjects so much that they revile him.
I know for a fact that Jeshickah has a copy of Machiavelli's
on a shelf in her room. I have read it dozens of times, and I see much of the Italian's philosophy reflected in the vampires' empire.
Midnight's laws are inviolate. The vampires are held to them as strongly as the shapeshifters and witches Midnight rules. A verbal agreement with one of Midnight's leaders or mercenaries is as strong as one etched in stone.
Midnight's conquered lands are allowed to keep their monarchs, their religion, and their culture, but all of those leaders are forced to adhere to Midnight's laws. These puppet kings and queens cannot guarantee their people safety or freedom without Jeshickah's blessing. Only she is powerful and generous enough to give them sovereignty over their own flesh and spirit.
Midnight's laws offer all loyal subjects the coveted title of freeblood. A freeblood man or woman cannot be claimed as a slave, nor can any of his property be seized by the vampires. A shapeshifter can only lose his freeblood status if he violates Midnight's laws, or if he is sold into Midnight by one of his own kind. In that case, it is not by the vampires' will that he loses his freedom, but through the cruelty of his own.
This is a simple way to weaken the loyalty shapeshifters have to their own kind, while avoiding the kind of contempt that Machiavelli warned would give rise to conspirators and the end of a kingdom.
In addition to this generous gift of freedom, Midnight offers beautiful things, which the Diente of the serpiente or the Tuuli Thea of the avians could never hope to match. It provides luxurious markets and maintains trade roads, supporting a global economy in exchange for “reasonable” taxesâ¦and the complete reliance on the vampires' continued goodwill.
What of those who refuse to bend to Midnight's law? Those who stand up against it, and cry out,
We do not need you!
Those who would spit in the face of any king who claimed to “protect” us by allowing the vampires to maintain their sovereignty?
We are branded exiles and traitors, forced to live outside the lines of easy answers and simple definitions of right and wrong.
Diente Julian Cobriana, king of the serpiente, sold my sister and brother into slavery to pay his taxes. I accepted a devil's deal and was able to rescue one of them. Just one.
I left my brother, Shkei, to die in a trainer's cell, not realizing that it was already too late to save anyone. The woman who returned to us looked like my sister, Misha, but she was riddled with madness, and every step she has taken since her return has led us further down a path so dark it is hard to imagine any escape.
Perhaps I have no right to complain about anyone else's clarity of mind, or lack thereof. My falcon blood has kept me teetering on the edge between sanity and utter lunacy all my life. It has infected my days and nights with visions, usually of the darkest moments in my own and others' lives, and made it a daily struggle to remain in the real world with those I still call kin. That weakness almost cost me my life, since Jeshickah saw no use for me.
A serpiente outlaw named Farrell saved my life, and taught me how to survive andâmore importantlyâhow to love. Now he is gone, just like my brother, just like my sister might as well be, and in the end I cannot help believing that it is myÂ fault.