Yellow Brick War Page 77

’’Amy!’’ Nox hissed next to me. ’’You can\ !’’ But too many people had already gotten hurt because of me. The Nome King had pulled her out of Kansas because of me. For all I knew, she was stuck in Oz now for the rest of her life, away from her baby and her family and everything she knew. I wasn\ going to watch the Nome King torture her on top of it all. There had to be another way to stop him.

’’I\m so glad you\ve decided to cooperate,’’ the Nome King said in a pleasant tone. ’’And now, you\ll just ’’

That was when Mombi hit him. Not with magic. With a branch. The old witch had crept up behind him and swung with all her might. He roared in outrage, loosening his grip on Madison\s arm for the barest instant. Glamora launched herself at Mombi, magic sparking from her fingertips. And I dove for Madison, knocking her out of the Nome King\s arms.

’’Run!’’ Mombi screamed. ’’Amy, run!’’ She raised her branch to hit the Nome King a second time but he threw a sticky net of molten silver at her that tangled in her arms and legs. Mombi stumbled as the net tightened its grip around her. Glamora pointed the wand at her and the Nome King raised his hands. They were going to kill her. I knew it. I had to stop them. Mombi looked directly at me. Her face was suffused with an eerie calm. As if she was finally at peace. ’’Go, Amy,’’ she said. And then Glamora was on her.

’’No!’’ I yelled, but Nox grabbed my arm. The Nome King was already turning toward us. My boots came to life, blazing with white light, and he threw up one hand to shield his eyes. I didn\ waste a second. I grabbed Madison\s hand, pulling her after me, and ran. ’’Take my other hand!’’ I screamed, reaching for Nox. The Nome King was right behind us. I could feel his magic moving toward us like a silver wave. But the shoes carried me faster and faster, and Madison and Nox with me. Madison was sobbing in fear. ’’Trust me!’’ I yelled to her. ’’I\ll keep you safe!’’ I had no idea if I could keep that promise but I knew I would do my best.

And then I tripped over something glinting in the grass and fell, sprawling, onto the Road of Yellow Brick. Nox tumbled next to me. Madison crashed into me from behind. The road heaved and buckled under us, tearing away from the grass with a huge ripping sound just as the Nome King reached its edge, but he was too late. The road lifted us up into the air and he dwindled to a tiny speck below us.

We were flying toward the stars. I ducked as they came rushing toward us, but just before we ran into them the road stopped and hung, hovering, in the sky. I could have sworn it wiggled a little, like an impatient puppy.

’’It\s helping us,’’ Nox said in disbelief. He climbed slowly, painfully, to his feet, and then helped me and Madison up, too.

’’Amy?’’ Madison whispered. Her cheeks were streaked with tears and her voice was shaking. ’’What what is this? What\s going on? Who was what was Assistant Principal Strachan? Where\s Dustin?’’

’’It\s kind of a long story,’’ I said. She still looked terrified but determination was creeping into her expression, too. Madison was tough as nails. She\d do just fine in Oz.

’’Why would the road help us?’’ I asked Nox.

’’I don\ know.’’ Nox reached up and flicked the nearest star, sending it spinning. Its light refracted around us like sunlight through a prism. My boots sparkled as if in answer. ’’I don\ know where it\s taking us either.’’

The road was pulsing with a strange, golden energy, stretching ahead of us until it dwindled to a point on the horizon. I took a deep breath and grabbed Nox\s hand.

’’Well,’’ I said. ’’I guess there\s only one way to find out.’’

Together, we took the first step.

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