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Last Sacrifice

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

Rose is currently in prison for killing Queen Tatiana, even though we all know she didn't do it. Her father, Abe the Zmey, visits her with some... bad news. What could be worse than being imprisoned for a murder you didn't commit? Finding out that the date for the trial is going to be pushed up, meaning you have less time to find out who framed you. Oh, and you know, you have to find that out while you're IN PRISON. Not good. Not good at all. Abe gives Rose some reading material, The Count of Monte Cristo, haha, and some magazines and leaves. While he was there, he seemed to be scoping out the cell, so we can all keep our hopes up for a spectacular prison break. Rose looks over the note from Queen Tatiana she was given by Ambrose shortly before being locked up. It mentions the existence of an illegitimate Dragomir child, someone who, if found, could give Rose's best friend, Princess Vasilisa Dragomir, her rightful place on the Moroi Council. Too bad Rose is IN PRISON and can't locate this person. If she could, she probably wouldn't even be in this predicament in the first place. There's only one thing she can do to find out any information and she hates doing it. Rose has to let her mental guard down and talk to ghosts.

Or, one ghost in particular: Queen Tatiana. Rose summons her and, after a bit, she appears. Like when Rose used to see Ghost Mason, Ghost Tatiana doesn't say or do much, but when asked if she really wrote the Illegitimate Dragomir note, she nods. So it's true then. Too bad Rose can't do anything about it. She checks in on Lissa using their spirit bond and finds her shopping for funeral dresses with a drunken Adrian. He's practically always drunk these days as he uses alcohol to self-medicate his spirit use and subsequent depression. He's also pretty upset because, even though Rose and Dimitri are no longer together and now he and Rose are, Dimitri still rushed to Rose's side and fought when she was arrested. Probably not a good sign that he "doesn't love her or anyone anymore." Christian and his aunt Tasha arrive then. Tasha talks about Dimitri not getting into too much trouble for fighting the guards during that arrest. Some people still think he's Strigoi since the idea of returning a Strigoi back to life has, until Lissa actually did it, been pretty much unheard of. Tasha's going to make sure he's okay though. Rose, thinking of Dimitri, falls asleep after that.

But she's startled awake when there's a flare in the bond! It was like after Lissa brought Dimitri back. The bond was bright and powerful, then quickly dulled, barely there at all. It kind of seems Lissa is hiding something from Rose, but what? And why? Oh well, there's nothing she can do about it. The next day is Queen Tatiana's funeral, so Rose watches it through Lissa's eyes. It still feels like she's hiding something, but seriously, what could it possibly be? Rose follows along as Lissa gets ready and arrives at the funeral procession. Daniella, Adrian's mom, asks if Lissa has seen her son and, yeah, she has. Leaving a party drunker than ever the night before. Looks like he won't be attending today's services. That's not good at all. Lissa then meets up with Christian, which makes her glow with happiness since they recently got back together, but since the Ozera family is no one's favorite on account of Christian's parents becoming Strigoi, Christian isn't allowed to walk with the processional like Lissa is. She walks along, and Rose notices a lot of people staring at her. Most are in awe of her Strigoi healing abilities. As the procession approaches its end, huge statues in the court explode!

Rose leaves Lissa's mind, only to check in briefly to make sure she's okay. Eddie, Mikhail, Adrian and Dimitri arrive at her cell and break her out. Ahh... So THIS is what Lissa was hiding from her. Good one, Liss. Adrian uses his spirit abilities to keep attention off of them and they escape to a parking garage where they're met by Abe who has a car ready for them to escape. He's also the one responsible for the explosions because of course he is. Only Dimitri and Rose are leaving Court though. It makes the most sense for Dimitri, the former Strigoi, and his underage lover, to break out of prison together, keeping Eddie, Mikhail and Adrian safe. This is not so good since Rose is still kind of in love with Dimitri even though they're no longer together and she's definitely in a relationship with Adrian that she wants to come back to. Rose tells Dimitri she doesn't want his help, but Lissa asked him to keep her safe, so that's what he's going to do, whether he wants to or not. Burn...

They drive away but are followed. They drive into a mall parking lot, abandon their car and split up with plans to meet again shortly and escape again in a different car, which they do, with only a little bit of fighting their pursuers taking place along the way. They are on the road again before you know it and driving to another location with another car for them to take off in. This one is given to them by Sydney, the Alchemist Rose met in Russia on her hunt for Strigoi Dimitri. Even though the Alchemists don't care for vampires, living or dead, or even dhampirs, Sydney is here to help, so maybe she doesn't hate Rose too terribly much.

Sydney gives them clothes and supplies and together, the three of them escape to a small, backwater town and to a motel. Sydney rents two rooms using fake names and leaves Dimitri and Rose to stay by herself, probably wanting to avoid sharing a room with evil creatures of the night. Well, this is going to be awkward. The plan now is to wait indefinitely for Lissa and the others back at Court to clear Rose's name. That's a terrible plan! Rose can't sit in a room with Dimitri with nothing to do, so she tries to escape. He throws her down on the bed and, in an effort to shock him long enough to get him to loosen his grip, she kisses him. But he kisses her back! Then, she punches him. That works! She takes off out of the motel and into the woods.

While she's traipsing through the woods, Rose enters Lissa's mind. She's being interrogated about Rose and Dimitri's escape. She covers up the Dimitri-is-still-a-strigoi-and-that's-why-he-escaped thing by telling the guardians that he and Rose were involved. She pretends she doesn't even know who Rose is anymore. She can't believe that she'd kill the Queen! Her interrogation is over and then she's talking to Abe about what's going to happen next, the burial and election of a new monarch, when Rose is tackled out of Lissa's mind by Dimitri. She realizes that going back to Court to try to solve Tatiana's murder is futile. Plus, Abe, Lissa, Christian, Adrian and Tasha are working on that. There is something she can do though, find the Illegitimate Dragomir. She tells Dimitri and Sydney about that and they set off for a new hiding place to do some research.

While they're driving, Rose checks in on Lissa again and finds her and Christian with Adrian in his living room. A man comes by looking for Adrian's mother. She had apparently promised to pay this guy, Joe the Janitor, to say he saw Adrian the night of Tatiana's murder. Lissa compels him to talk. He really did see Adrian and Rose, so why is he getting paid? Because he's going to lie about the time, he doesn't remember that. But, this guy is also being paid by a mysterious, non-descript stranger with something weird about his hand to say that he did not see Rose there at all. Adrian, Lissa and Christian decide to leave to talk to Mikhail. Back in her own mind, Rose realizes that the car has stopped. She, Dimitri and Sydney have to travel on foot now to make it to a hidden location full of Moroi, Dhampirs and humans.

These are the Keepers, those who kept the old way of life, like no electricity, and, you know, living in a culty commune. They are pleased when they find out that Rose is accused of killing Tatiana, the Tainted Queen, tainted because she lives in the modern vampire world. These guys are... very hillbilly... but they agree to let Sydney, Rose and Dimitri hide out for a few days. Apparently the Alchemists bring them supplies on occasion, so they know that Sydney is a trustworthy person. They are an intermingled group, as in some Moroi and humans are married, or dhampirs with dhampirs, or any other mixing of races, which is weird and astounding to Rose and Dimitri, and of course disgusting to Sydney. That night, as she drifts off to sleep, Rose falls into a spirit dream. Thinking she's going to see Adrian, she gets excited, but he is not the spirit user she finds. It's Robert Dorou. And with him is his brother, Victor Dashkov.

Victor and Rose talk about her escape from Court and the Queen's murder and how he knew about it almost as soon as it happened and he knows that she's not responsible. Rose tells him that she is now looking for the Illegitimate Dragomir and explains all that to him, which he didn't know about. He suggests, to give her more time to find the other Dragomir and to give Lissa and Adrian time to find out who killed Tatiana, that Rose convince Lissa to put her name in the running for Queen. There is no law against her putting her name in with no other familial support, but she does have to be nominated by three different people. The law will allow her to run, but it will not allow her to become Queen. She does need family for that, but at least her running will muck everything up, giving them time to search.

After the Victor dream, Rose falls into another spirit dream, this time with Adrian. She's so excited to see him! After they catch up, Rose tells Adrian something that earns her more time in her quests, but whether that is the Illegitimate Dragomir or Lissa running for Queen isn't said. The dream ends and she, Sydney and Dimitri leave the Keepers for a while to go to town so Sydney can use her laptop and get much needed coffee. While Sydney researches the Alchemist files about information on the Dragomirs, Rose and Dimitri go to the tiny library and look at travel books since they probably won't be able to go anywhere out of hiding for the foreseeable future. They have a friendly connection and it's nice, but then it's time to go see what Sydney has found. She discovered a bank account with Jane Doe as the account holder, but there was a next of kin contact as well. Sonya Karp.

Well, that's a lost cause. Or is it? Mikhail, Sonya's boyfriend, has been searching for her since she turned Strigoi with no luck, but Dimitri, who had risen high in the Strigoi ranks while he was one of them, has an idea. He borrows Sydney's phone and calls a Strigoi contact. Pretending to still be Strigoi himself, he demands the contact find Sonya. They go back to The Keepers compound after that, Dimitri feeling shaken at having to fake being Strigoi again, but hopefully that will get them started on their search. Rose is taken to a cave by one of the strapping young commune members, Joshua, and offered a marriage proposal, yikes, but she turns it down. She joins Sydney and Dimitri at a campfire, and then the strapping young boy's sister, Angeline, fights Rose to see if she's worthy of marrying her brother and of course she is, and she beats Angeline up, but marriage?! That's not happening. Yiiiiiiiiikes.

Sydney and Dimitri laugh about the proposal fight, Dimitri telling Rose she shouldn't have led Joshua on. But did she really, or are they just in a backwoods redneck commune where nobody knows any better? Sheesh. After that's all cleared up, Dimitri needs to leave the compound for signal to call his Strigoi contact, and Sydney goes too, so while they're gone, Rose checks in on Lissa. She, Christian and Adrian are interrogating Ambrose, Queen Tatiana's lover, to see what he knows about her murder, or to see if he is responsible. He thinks Tatiana's murder was political not romantic, because she was for Moroi fighting, which not many approved of or even knew about. She used the age law to keep the rest of the dhampirs, those that don't fight, like, say Ambrose, safe, because some of the others on the council were pushing to have all dhampirs fight. It's not pretty, and the age law making dhampirs graduate and begin guarding at 16 wasn't great, but it's better than it could have been.

Rose comes back to herself when Sydney and Dimitri return. He has a lead on a Strigoi who knows where to find Sonya, so they leave The Keepers. Angeline wants to come with them, though. Even though Angeline could become a great guardian with enough training and even though she reminds Rose of Jill, the young Moroi chomping at the bit to fight, Rose tells her she can't come along. On the long car ride to find Dimitri's contact, Rose checks in with Lissa again. This time, she, Christian and Adrian are at the nomination ceremony for the new monarch. Each candidate must have three nominations. Royals from several families we know are nominated, including the Zelskis, the Badicas and the Ozeras and, of course, the Dragomirs. Wait, really? Yes. Tasha nominates Lissa, it's seconded by Christian and completed by Adrian. Then chaos ensues, just like Victor Dashkov said it would. Lissa isn't happy that she'll have to jump through royal hoops and take tests for a position she can't even win, but she does it, knowing that it will give everyone time to clear Rose's name.

Rose, Dimitri and Sydney arrive in the city where Dimitri's Sonya contact is and they set up an ambush because of course a Strigoi is not going to take kindly to being tricked by a dhampir. Dimitri hides in the shadows of an alley and Rose hides on a nearby roof. Sydney has to pretend to be Dimitri's human servant, but once she lures the contact out, she goes to hide in the car. Dimitri and Rose take out the cronies and find out that Sonya is in hiding in a small town called Paris, Kentucky, and then they kill the contact. Dimitri struggles with violent tendencies when killing the Strigoi and that struggle turns to despair. Rose is there to help him come back to himself, but it takes a while.

When she goes to sleep later, Rose has more spirit dreams, first with Victor and Robert in which Victor tells Rose they're coming to meet them and then with Adrian, who fills Rose in on Lissa's queen nomination and in which he worries that he's going crazy because he doesn't have anyone to help him draw away the darkness like Lissa does. Rose says she will always be there to help. The next day, Rose, Dimitri and Sydney find Sonya's house. Rose can tell it belongs to her former teacher because there are lots of spirit grown flowers there and when Ms. Karp was her teacher, she loved flowers. Now Rose realizes she was using her spirit magic to grow them. Rose and Dimitri break in, followed shortly by Sydney, and they tie Sonya up in chains. Their interrogation as to who the Dragomir child is doesn't go well, and after a bit, Rose checks on Lissa who was dropped off in the wilderness for her first monarch test which involves following a map to find clues and items she'll need to survive in the sun on her own.

When Rose comes back from checking on Lissa (which took hours, but she was successful in her first trial, so yay!), Victor and Robert have arrived. After a scuffle, Robert restores Sonya just like Lissa restored Dimitri. It's an amazing sight that Rose gets to watch this time instead of witnessing it almost first hand like when Dimitri was restored. Sydney is in awe and didn't really believe that it was possible even though she knows Dimitri was restored. Now that she's seen it, she believes. As Dimitri soothes Sonya, Rose checks in with Lissa back at Court.

When she arrives back after her trial, there are lots of bystanders, royal and not, who are proud of her for passing the first test. Lissa decides to take the trials seriously now because this isn't a joke or a stall for time for those Moroi from all over the world and right here in court that are cheering for her. Christian asks if she actually wants to be queen, Tasha thinks she'd be great, but no. She really just needs to treat this importantly like everyone else. Adrian comes by with an idea on how to find more information about who the queen was sleeping with and who might have been jealous enough to kill her. They go to a bar and talk to a guy who reveals that he was involved with Tatiana, but that Ambrose was too and if anyone would kill the Queen it would be him or one of the other women he's being paid to sleep with. Like Daniella Ivashkov. EEP! They leave the bar after that, Christian and Lissa hoping that Adrian's mom isn't responsible.

When Dimitri finally leaves Sonya's side, Rose, Victor and Robert try to convince her to talk about the Illegitimate Dragomir, but she made a promise that she wouldn't. Dimitri wanted everyone to leave Sonya alone for awhile to deal with her unStrigoiing, but they really can't wait forever. Rose asks her about Eric Dragomir's child, but Sonya lies, saying she doesn't know what Rose is talking about, but then Robert calls her out and compels her to tell the truth which causes a huge spirit battle. Rose calls for Dimitri and they are eventually able to stop the fight. Dimitri is angry with Rose, but she's feeling a little amorously about him after they had to fight to stop the spirit battle. Ugh! She shouldn't feel that way, but she can't really help it. Now that everyone is calmed down, Sydney convinces Sonya to lead them to where the Dragomir is without actually telling them anything, so she's not technically breaking her promise. Probably convinced that finding this person really is important, Sonya agrees.

Another long car ride means another check in with Lissa. Everyone piles into the car together and Dimitri follows Sonya's vague directions while Rose checks out. Lissa is taken in the middle of the vampiric night to her next test. A really old Moroi lady makes her drink from a cup charged with all five elements which makes her see all her greatest fears. First, Lissa sees herself at Rose's funeral. She died protecting her. Then Christian leaves her, afraid to take on the responsibilities of being with a Dragomir, so now she's all alone. Next, she's embarrassed and publicly humiliated in a council meeting. Finally she's cutting herself again because her spirit magic is too much and her doctors want to lock her up in Tarasov prison, but Rose, alive again in this scenario, offers to take her darkness away which will cause her to kill herself. Lissa won't let her do that, so she agrees to be locked away. Then she wakes up. She has passed her test. When she leaves the room, there is an even bigger crowd of royals and non-royals alike cheering for her and the return of the dragon.

After leaving Lissa, Rose is visited in a dream by Adrian. She accidentally lets slip that she's with Sonya Karp who is no longer a Strigoi and changed back by Robert Dorou, which means that she's also with Victor Dashkov. She was supposed to be in hiding! Adrian asks where she is and what she's doing, but she can't answer and the dream ends. Shortly after that, they arrive at the end of Sonya's journey. Rose, Sydney and Sonya go to the door of a cute and tidy house and are met by... Jill. Oh man. Jill is Lissa's half sister! Rose really should have realized it before. They have the same jade green eyes, which are pretty much only passed through the Dragomir line.

Before we can talk about that, though, there are a couple of other things we have to deal with first. One, Rose is a wanted criminal who allegedly killed Queen Tatiana. Two, Sonya isn't a Strigoi anymore, but how?! After a bit, Emily, Jill's mom and Sonya's cousin, is convinced that Rose probably isn't responsible for the regicide and that Sonya is no longer a bloodthirsty monster. Jill believes it all immediately because she trusts Rose and she heard about Lissa restoring Dimitri, and so she must have helped Sonya, too! No? Was it Adrian then? No? It doesn't matter who it was, Cousin Sonya is back!

Emily hasn't told Jill who her father is, only that he left them. She's happily married now to a loving husband who is an excellent stepfather to Jill. She never wanted to tell Jill who her real father was because all the royals and everyone at court are terrible people. Well, too bad because Jill needs to go to Court now to help Lissa take control of the Dragomir line. Rose tries to convince Emily that Lissa can change everything if she only has a family quorum for the council and now she can! Emily thinks that everyone at court is terrible and it's probably for the best that the Dragomir line has all but died out. Jill disagrees and wants to help Lissa and Rose and then Sonya helps convince Emily that now that Jill knows who she is, she's going to go to Court whether mom likes it or not. Eventually they all agree to go together and offer to let Rose, Sydney and Sonya stay the night. Oh but... They have some friends in the car… Sonya and Robert use spirit compulsion to conceal both Robert and Victor's identities and they all come into the house. Emily, the consummate host, calls in a feeder and prepares dinner. While the Moroi are feeding, Rose checks on Lissa.

Lissa, Christian, Adrian and Eddie are on their way to see Ambrose who has important information about Tatiana. He found an ominous, unsigned note in her safe that is vaguely threatening about her believing in spirit, supporting Lissa, letting Moroi train to fight, and not forcing all dhampirs to become guardians. They leave after that and encounter a Moroi none of them know who tries to stab Lissa. Luckily Eddie was there, but the Moroi is very strong even though his hand is weird and, in the end, Eddie has to stake him. Other guardians rush in then and come for Eddie, but then Dimitri is there, calling Rose back to herself. They have an intimate moment after Rose tells him what she saw with Lissa and how she desperately wants to go back to protect her, and how she accidently let slip to Adrian that they're not where they said they were and they're with Robert and Victor, but that he'll keep their secret. Dimitri says Adrian is a good man and asks if Rose loves him. After some thought, she says she does, which makes Dimitri falter. He tells her she's so beautiful it hurts him and that things are changing as he heals from being Strigoi. Before any more can come from that, Sydney accidentally interrupts and they begin to plan how they're going to get back into Court, but then, guardians raid the house!

Well shit. The guardians are swarming the house. Sydney creates a diversion allowing Rose and Dimitri to jump out the window, but they're not in the clear yet. And now, Rose has hurt her ankle. There are guardians everywhere and they're shooting, but Rose and Dimitri are able to fight enough off and sneak into a house. They steal the car parked in the garage and nonchalantly drive out of the neighborhood. Somehow, they made it. Dimitri stops at a super store and buys food, first aid supplies and a tent, and they end up camping for the night. Dimitri carefully tends to Rose's ankle, causing a stirring of feelings, and they worry about what's going to happen next. Is Emily going to take Jill to court and tell the truth about her heritage? Was it Victor and Robert who turned them in? Where are they now? Is Sonya okay or is she in former-strigoi custody? Rose finds out the answer to some of those questions when Sonya visits her in a spirit dream. But they are not the answers anyone wants to hear. Sonya was able to escape by compelling the guardians not to see her, but Victor Dashkov and Robert got away. And they took Jill. But they weren't the ones who called the guardians. That was Emily's husband. Ughhhhhhhhhh.

The dream doesn't end there, but it gets a little less terrible. Sonya can find Jill in her dreams if Robert and Victor will ever let her sleep, so that's good, and Rose has told her where they are hiding so she can meet back up with them. Then Rose asks her about something that happened earlier on their drive to Emily's house. Sonya knew that Rose was in a spirit dream because of her aura, but was surprised when Rose told her that she was with Adrian, her boyfriend. Rose now asks why. Sonya tells her that her aura had a loving glow when she was with Adrian, but it's nothing compared to her aura when she's with Dimitri. And his is the same when he's with her. Sonya doesn't believe in soulmates, but she does believe in auras mirroring each other. Rose doesn't deny that she still has feelings for Dimitri, but says that it's over between them since Dimitri was restored. He told her he wants nothing to do with her. Ahh, well... Dimitri also told Sonya some things... Like not giving up on the love and beauty in your life and to not let guilt and regret make her make the same mistakes he did in his recovery...

Rose checks in on Lissa after leaving Sonya's dream. She, Christian, Adrian and Eddie are being interrogated by Hans, the head Court guardian, after Eddie killed the Moroi who tried to kill Lissa. None of them know who the Moroi is, but then Lissa remembers Joe the Janitor and bribe-receiver mentioning a non-descript guy with a weird hand and, you know what? That's this guy. Lissa suggests the guardians find Joe the Janitor and talk to him. After this, Hans tells them that Rose was spotted kidnapping some girl named Jill and then brings in Sydney and two other Alchemists. All of Rose's friends are shocked to hear about Jill and to learn that Rose isn't in hiding like she said she was. Adrian doesn't let on that he knows anything.

Hans asks Sydney about Rose and she tells very convincing lies and half-truths about why she was with Rose but gives no details about Jill, or the fact that Victor and Robert were there. Hans doesn't truly believe her, but the other Alchemists insist on leaving. One, a guy named Ian, sees the picture of the non-descript Moroi guy and recognizes him, but Lissa can't get anything out of him before they leave. Abe arrives then to escort Lissa to her next monarch trial and to find out what's going on with Sydney. She was supposedly working for him but apparently she had other ideas and he needs to find out what they are. Lissa goes in for her test, which is just a simple question: What must a queen possess in order to truly rule her people?

Rose leaves Lissa after that to find that Dimitri has curled his way into her lap. Oh dear. Rose gives in and strokes his hair, waking him up. Just as they're about to kiss, he gets up, saying he can't do it. Rose knows he's able to love again and she tells him so, but then Sonya arrives and the tension breaks. Sonya compellingly stole a car and came to tell them she knows where Jill is. She heals Rose's ankle and then they drive to the motel Jill described and wait for the kidnappers to make their move. When they do, it's bad. Rose goes after Victor who tells her that if he controls Jill, then he controls Lissa and the Dragomir line. This makes Rose snap. The darkness in her takes over and, though he tries to use his earth magic to stop her, Rose beats Victor to death. Sonya finally gets her to stop beating the corpse, but now it's like Rose's mind is broken. She's rambling and clearly in shock. Robert arrives then and tries to call Victor's spirit back, but then Dimitri knocks him out. Sonya asks Rose to look for Victor's spirit, but it's gone. Then Sonya takes a silver necklace from Jill, makes it into a healing charm, and gives it to Rose. It will help now, but for how long?

They go to a hotel to rest with plans for Sonya to take Jill to Court. Rose checks in on Lissa who is with her friends and one of the guardians who taught Lissa how to stake pillows. The other guardian she trained with was working for the Queen, training reluctant Moroi how to fight, but he died the night Dimitri was restored. Lissa asks for a list of the Moroi he was training. Lissa is almost sure she knows who killed the Queen and with this list, she'll be closer to figuring it out. For now, she has to worry about the trial and how there are many non-royals and royals, too, who think she should be the next Queen.

Rose comes back to herself and she and Dimitri are together. He tries to make her forgive herself for killing Victor because it wasn't her fault. She tries to make him forgive himself for killing people when he was Strigoi. It wasn't his fault. He confesses it was Rose that made him realize he could be himself again and begin to forgive himself. He loves her. And she loves him and so they have sex. She'll deal with Adrian when they get back. She loves him, too, but only as a friend she realizes because he's still becoming the man he's meant to be. Rose gives Dimitri an ultimatum though. Before they can be together and have the life they deserve, he has to fully forgive himself. She falls asleep wrapped in Dimitri's embrace and into an Adrian dream.

Well, this is pretty gross. Rose feels badly about sleeping with Dimitri and then being with Adrian in this dream. He can see that her aura is radiant, which he comments on, but only because he's surprised she can be so glowing when lots of terrible things are happening. They decide that someone has to talk to Alchemist Ian about the mangle hand man. Adrian says there's no way because only guardians are allowed to visit the Alchemists and they're all busy with the election. Rose tells him to get Mikhail to meet her at a place near where the Alchemists are staying and then he will talk to Ian. The dream ends after that plan is put into place. Dimitri is still asleep and they still have time before they need to leave, so Rose checks on Lissa.

She's on her way to complete her trial with Christian, Tasha and Janine escorting her. Lissa still doesn't know the answer to her riddle, but stops thinking about that when she receives the list of the Moroi who were being trained to fight. Tasha is shocked to learn of this list and the many important names on it because she thought the Queen didn't want Moroi to fight. The list includes people who are running for the crown. And Daniella Ivashkov. No time to think about that. She's almost late for her trial, which she learns is being given by the last queen. She thought the old lady who administered her fear test and gave her her riddle was just that, some old lady, but no. This is Ekaterina Zeklos, the Queen before Tatiana. Holy shit. Well, no time to think about that either. She has her trial and passes. The answer to the riddle is nothing. A queen has to have nothing because she gives everything to her people. Success! Now, all that's left is for her to give a speech the next day and then voting begins. But she can't even be Queen! Dimitri rouses Rose, telling her that they have to leave, but first, she needs Sonya to make her a charm and they have to stop in the town where the Alchemists are. Then, she reveals that Daniella killed Tatiana and they're going to get proof. Daniella, who was being forced to fight by Tatiana, who was also sleeping with Ambrose and was therefore jealous of Tatiana, who didn't like Tatiana's interest in spirit use because of Adrian and who wouldn't mind at all if Rose was locked away or dead has to be the one who killed the Queen.

Lissa's speech goes really well and there are tons of Moroi of all kinds there to witness it. The other two speeches are okay, but Lissa's was compelling, not spiritually but actually, and made promises that she could keep if she were allowed to become Queen. Promises of working together, royals, non-royals and dhampirs, to fight the Strigoi who are easily killing them because there's so much in-fighting amongst them all. Those who want to fight will be able to and those who don't want to don't have to. It's really amazing and simple. But unfortunately, since she has no family, she's not allowed to go any farther in the election, and she can't vote either because only the council votes and again, she has no family. So… She's dismissed. And then the chaos erupts. There's no way the council will be able to vote now because of it. Just like they planned.

Rose, Dimitri, Jill and Sonya arrive at the meeting place. Rose is upset to find that Adrian has come with Mikhail, but that's not important right now. What is important is that Mikhail and Sonya are back together. Neither of them knew the other would be at this meeting and their reunion is heartwarming. When it's over, they get ready to go see the Alchemists, just Mikhail and a spirit-concealed Rose. Adrian talks to Jill to see how she's mixed up in all this and Rose and Dimitri are off to the side. Dimitri tells Rose to be careful and kisses the top of her head just as Adrian comes over and his heart shatters, but it's time to go. Rose and Mikhail get in to see Sydney and Ian with literally no trouble at all. When they ask Ian about the mangle hand man, he says he doesn't know him, but recognizes him as a Moroi who accompanied a female Moroi to one of the Alchemist facilities. He doesn't know who the woman was either, but when he describes her, it's not who Rose thought it would be.

They leave the Alchemists and meet back up with Adrian, Dimitri, Jill and Sonya and explain what they learned. Now, all that's left to do is take Jill to Court and tell them who killed Tatiana. With what Ian said and the information they had previously about Daniella, it really seemed like the two were working together, or if not together, separately but for the same cause. Oh well, they'll worry about that later. Adrian disguises Dimitri with his own kind of spirit magic and they all, minus Sonya, go to Court. With their disguises in place, with Mikhail being a trusted guardian and with Adrian being, well, Adrian, they make it to the council meeting just fine. Abe and Janine appear and offer to help once they realize that they'll be helping their daughter. They go up to the microphone and introduce Jill as a member of the Dragomir family. Another eruption of chaos and disbelief happens, of course, but surprisingly, Daniella backs up their claim. Rose realizes this was what Daniella was doing when they thought she was murdering the Queen. She was finding evidence of Jill's existence, which she knew about because she helped cover it up in the first place, to delegitimize the Dragomir name and the reappearance of spirit magic. After it's decided that a simple DNA test will prove who Jill is, the only thing left to learn is... Who is this person telling them all this? Rose removes her charm and announces herself. And that Tasha Ozera killed Tatiana.

No one takes this well. Tasha says that she knew all along that Rose was innocent and that it must have been her paid Moroi guard, James, the mangle hand man, who did it. He even tried to kill Lissa but then was killed by Eddie. But, Dimitri says that wasn't part of Tasha's plan. Eddie wasn't supposed to be there and no one was supposed to get hurt that night. Just scared. Lissa was supposed to be attacked to garner sympathy so more people would love her and want her to be Queen. Rose adds that with Lissa as Queen with Tasha behind her, everything that Tasha wants for Moroi would come to pass. When Dimitri said what he said, Rose looked at Tasha through Lissa's eyes and saw her aura flare with love and heartbreak at hearing Dimitri accuse her of murder. And that's the last piece of the puzzle. Why Rose was set up. Because Tasha is in love with Dimitri, has been all along, and with Rose out of the way, they could be together. Sheesh. The guardians nearby begin to move in on Tasha, but she won't go without a fight. She grabs a gun from a guardian and grabs the closest Moroi hostage she can, Mia Rinalde. Oh, but Mia is a fighter, too. Lissa begins to freak out and decides to compel Tasha to go quietly into custody. She steps toward her. Rose knows Lissa's going to try to get Tasha's attention so she moves, too. And then Tasha shoots. And Rose goes down.

She wakes up in a huge fluffy bed with stitches and bandages on her chest. Dimitri is not far away. He tells her that she went into surgery and has been out for a few days. Lissa didn't heal her. Adrian didn't heal her. She healed herself. Or, is still currently healing herself. Dimitri also tells her that after Tasha shot her, it was pretty obvious that she killed the Queen, so the both of them are no longer fugitives and their guardian status has been restored. She is now Lissa's guardian and he is Christian's. It seems their fairy tale life together can actually happen now. They kiss but are interrupted by Lissa who has come for a visit. Dimitri leaves them but promises to return. Lissa reveals that she is now Queen. But why didn't Rose realize that already? Because their bond is broken. Rose probably died a little when she was shot and fought her way back on her own, breaking the bond and spirit's need to bind her to life. Wow. It's so weird to not have that sense of Lissa anymore, but they'll get through it together. Lissa is kind of pissed that she's Queen now because of Rose's harebrained scheme. But we all know that Lissa will be a good Queen. Now, she has a favor to ask of Rose. To go with her to ask Jill to be part of her coronation ceremony. Things are weird between the new sisters, but they will get better eventually.

When Rose gets back to her room, Adrian is there. She hasn't seen him since she was shot, but now it's finally time for them to talk about the end of their relationship. Adrian asks if Rose and Dimitri had anything going on before they left Court, but even though they didn't, it doesn't make anything better. Rose tells Adrian that she's not the one for him, that they don't match. She loves him but only as a friend now and someday he'll find the right person. It's all shitty breakup lines and nothing she says makes anything better. He says he loved her, but he wasn't the only one who was hurt by all her escapades. What about Eddie whose life as a guardian is tarnished by what Rose got him into? What about Jill who was ripped out of her normal life and who is now royalty? What about Lissa who is now Queen?! There are a lot of victims in Rose's wake. And that, she says, is why they're not meant for each other. Because he sees himself as a victim and she will always fight for herself and for others. Yikes. He leaves then and she's not sure she'll ever see him again.

Rose wakes up the next day in Dimitri's arms, the only place she wants to be. But too soon, it's time for the coronation. While waiting for things to begin, Rose talks to her parents. Both Abe and Janine are proud of their daughter for all she's accomplished. Breaking out of Court, finding out about the Illegitimate Dragomir and then finding her, solving Queen Tatiana's murder, helping her friend become Queen, and breaking back into Court. Then Dimitri joins them and Abe goes into overprotective father mode, saying he has a lot of questions for Dimitri. Janine has a few questions of her own as well, but now, it's time for Lissa to be crowned. There's a huge processional and then Lissa goes to the throne, is made to swear by former queen Ekaterina to uphold all her vows as Queen and then is crowned by Jill. Lissa smiles out at her subjects, but has a special smile for Christian and especially for Rose. It's weird for Rose to be her own person now and not be bonded to Lissa, but she knows that, with her best friend as Queen and Dimitri by her side, everything will be fine.

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