by Julie Kagawa
Meghan, the Iron Queen, wakes up from a nightmare. She fell asleep working at her computer. She goes to her room to wake up Ash so they can get ready to go to Elysium in Tir Na Nog. Ash, the youngest of the Winter Queen’s sons, doesn’t want to go, but agrees to it anyway. As they prepare to leave the Iron Realm, Meghan gets dizzy and passes out.
Ash is worried about Meghan, but she refuses to show weakness by not going to Elysium. The couple rides together in a carriage to Tir Na Nog and discuss Ash’s feelings about his old home. When they arrive, there are many unseelie fey around to check for their weaknesses. Meghan sends Ashe to duel with them to prove his strength, despite the addition of his soul and mortality. She continues to the throne room alone to meet with Mab and Oberon. After she is announced, the lights go out. When Mab reignites them, the Oracle is in the middle of the room. She warns Meghan that the child she carries will either unite or destroy the courts. She tells Meghan to find her so they can discuss it further.
Meghan excuses herself from Elysium. Mab has a bit of a fit over not seeing her son, but Ash arrives and agrees that they must leave. When they return home, Meghan explains that she is pregnant and reminds Ash of the prophecy about their first born child. They decide to leave right away, but don’t know where they are going. Grim appears, ready to lead the way. He tells them where to meet him and they take off from the balcony being carried by Gliders.
Starting their journey out of the Iron Realm, Meghan and Ash hear fighting. They follow the sounds to find puck being attacked by Mayan nature spirits. Meghan has Puck return the feather he stole from them, and then she explains the situation. Puck tells them that the Oracle also appeared to him to tell him that they will need his help. Grim appears.
The wyldwood clears a path for Meghan, recognizing that she is a queen. When the reach their destination, the Wishing Tree, there is a sentinel guarding it: a huge snake with heads at both ends. Ash tries to tell Meghan that she shouldn’t fight because she is pregnant, but she refuses to stand by. Ash and Puck each take an end. Meghan uses her summer and iron glamour to wrap the sentinel in the Wishing Tree’s roots. She finds a small hole in its body where she plunges the sword to pierce the heart. Candles on the tree light up. Grim has already said the worlds for the wish. They join hands and Meghan blows out a candle, knowing they will have to pay a price later.
They arrive at the Dreaming Pool together. The Oracle tells them that she can only show Meghan what she has seen. Meghan agrees and joins the Oracle in the shallow puddle. She sees her son covered in blood after he killed her brother, Ethan. The Oracle offers to take the child and raise him as her own to keep everyone safe. Meghan refuses and the Oracle attacks. Realizing that this is all happening in the dream realm, Meghan pulls in Ash and Puck for help. Just as Ash is about to kill the Oracle, she says she has more information. The Wishing Tree, taking its payment, whisks them back to the wyldwood before she can tell them. They decide to live their lives, knowing the future is uncertain. Puck and Grim take off. Meghan and Ash go home. They decide not to worry too much about the prophecy because fate isn’t set in stone and can always be changed.