“I don’t understand,” Dru said again. “What’s happening?”
Livvy pulled Dru against her and put her arms around her younger sister. They were about the same height—you’d never have been able to tell Livvy was the elder unless you knew them—but Dru clung on gratefully.
Diego and Cristina stood silently. Ty, in his chair, had taken one of his hand toys from his pocket and was almost attacking it with shaking hands, tangling and untangling. His head was bent, his hair swinging into his face.
Julian—Julian looked as if his world had caved in.
“But why?” Dru whispered. “Why did Malcolm take Tavvy? And why are all of you so upset?” “Dru, Malcolm’s the one we’ve been looking for.” It was Emma who spoke, her voice choked. “He’s
the Guardian. He’s the murderer. And he took Tavvy—”
“For Blackthorn blood,” said Julian. “The last sacrifice. Blackthorn blood to bring back a Blackthorn.” Dru fell against her sister’s shoulder, sobbing. Mark was shaking—Cristina suddenly broke away from Diego and came over to him. She took his hand and held it. Emma gripped the edge of the table. She could
no longer feel the pain in her back. She could no longer feel anything.
All she could see was Tavvy, little Tavvy, the smallest Blackthorn. Tavvy having nightmares, Tavvy in her arms as she carried him through the war-torn Institute five years ago. Tavvy covered in paint in Jules’s studio. Tavvy, who alone among them had skin that could not hold a single protection rune. Tavvy, who would not understand what was happening to him or why.
“Wait,” Dru said. “Malcolm gave me a note. He said to give it to you, Jules.” She drew away from Livvy and fumbled in her pocket, retrieving some folded paper. “He said not to read it, that it was private.”
Livvy, who had gone to stand near Ty, made a disgusted noise. Julian’s face was stark white, his eyes blazing. “Private? He wants his privacy respected?” He snatched the paper from Dru’s hand and almost ripped it open. Emma caught a glimpse of large block letters printed on the paper. Julian’s expression turned to one of confusion.
“What does it say, Jules?” asked Mark.
Julian read the words aloud. “I WILL RAISE YOU, ANNABEL LEE.”
The room exploded.
A bolt of black light burst from the letter in Julian’s hand. It shot toward the roof, smashing through the skylight with the force of a wrecking ball.
Emma covered her head as plaster and bits of glass rained down. Ty, who was directly beneath the hole in the roof, threw himself toward his sister, knocking her to the ground and covering her with his own body. The room seemed to rock back and forth; a shelf wobbled and fell, tipping toward Diego. Pulling away from Mark, Cristina shoved the shelf out of the way; it crashed to the side, missing Diego by inches. Dru shrieked, and Julian pulled her toward him, tucking her under his arm.
The black light was still shining upward. With his free hand, Julian flung the note onto the ground and slammed his foot down on it.
It crumbled into dust instantly. The black light vanished as if it had been switched off.
There was a silence. Livvy wriggled out from under her twin and stood up, reaching out to help him up after her. Livvy looked half-surprised, half-worried. “Ty, you didn’t have to do that.”
“You wanted to have someone to shield you from danger. That’s what you said.” “I know,” Livvy said. “But—”
Ty rose to his feet—and cried out. A jagged piece of glass was sticking out of the back of his calf. Blood had already started to soak the fabric around the cut.
Ty bent down and, before anyone else could move, yanked the glass out of his leg. He dropped it to the ground, where it shattered into clear, red-smeared pieces.
“Ty!” Julian started forward, but Ty shook his head. He was pulling himself into a chair, his face twisted with pain. Blood had started to pool around his sneakered foot.
“Let Livvy do it,” he said. “It would be better—”
Livvy was already swooping down on her twin with an iratze. A bit of falling glass had cut her left cheek, and blood was visible against her pale skin. She wiped it away with her sleeve as she finished the healing rune.
“Let me see the cut,” Julian said, kneeling down. Slowly, Livvy rolled up Ty’s pant leg. The cut went across the side of his calf, raw and red but no longer open—it looked like a tear that had been sewn up. Still, his leg from the cut down was smeared with blood.
“Another iratze should fix it,” said Diego. “And a blood-replacement rune.”
Julian gritted his teeth. He had never seemed bothered by Diego the way Mark was, but Emma could tell that at the moment he was barely holding himself back. “Yes,” he said. “We know. Thanks, Diego.”
Ty looked up at his brother. “I don’t know what happened.” He looked dazed. “I wasn’t expecting it—I should have been expecting it.”
“Ty, no one could have expected that,” Emma said. “I mean, Julian said some words, and boom, Hell’s tractor beam.”
“Is anyone else hurt?” Julian had efficiently slit Ty’s pant leg open, and Livvy, her face the color of old newspaper, was applying healing and blood-replacement runes to her twin. Julian looked around the room, and Emma could see him doing his mental inventory of his family: Mark all right, Livvy all right, Dru all right. . . . She saw the moment he reached where Tavvy should be and blanched. His jaw tightened. “Malcolm must have enchanted the paper to set off that signal as soon as it was read.”
“It is a signal,” Mark said. The expression on his face was troubled. “I have felt this before, in the Unseelie Court, when black enchantments were brewing. That was dark magic.”
“We should go straight to the Clave.” Julian’s face was bloodless. “Secrecy doesn’t matter, punishments don’t matter, not when Tavvy’s life is at risk. I’ll take the entire blame on myself.”
“You will not take any blame,” said Mark, “that I do not also take.” Julian didn’t answer that, just held out his hand. “Emma, my phone.”
She’d forgotten she still had it. She drew it out of her pocket slowly—and blinked. The screen was blank. “Your phone. It’s dead.”
“That’s strange,” said Julian. “I just charged it this morning.”
“You can use mine,” Cristina said, and reached into her jacket. “Here it—” She blinked. “It’s dead too.”
Ty slid from his chair. He took a step forward and winced, but only slightly. “We’ll check the computer and the landline phone.”
He and Livvy hurried from the library. The room was quiet now, except for the sound of settling debris. The floor was covered in broken glass and bits of shattered wood. It seemed that the black light had blown out the glass oculus at the top of the room.
Drusilla gasped. “Look—there’s someone at the skylight.”
Emma glanced up. The oculus had become a ring of jagged glass, open to the night sky. She saw the flash of a pale face within the circle.
Mark darted past her and raced up the curving ramp. He threw himself at the oculus—there was a thrashing blur of movement—and he tumbled back onto the ramp, his hand gripping the collar of a lean figure with dark hair. Mark was shouting; there was broken glass around them as they struggled. They rolled together down the ramp, hitting out at each other, until they fetched up on the library floor.
The dark-haired figure was a slender boy in ragged, bloody clothes; he had gone limp. Mark knelt on top of him, and as he reached for a dagger and it flashed out gold, Emma realized that the intruder was Kieran.
Mark jammed his knife up against Kieran’s throat. Kieran stiffened against the knife. “I should kill you right here,” Mark said through his teeth. “I should cut your throat.”
Dru made a small sound. To Emma’s surprise, it was Diego who reached out and laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. A small flicker of liking for him went through her.
Kieran bared his teeth—and then his throat, tipping his head back. “Go ahead,” he said. “Kill me.” “Why are you here?” Mark’s breath hitched. Julian took a step toward them, his hand at his hip, on the
hilt of a throwing knife. Emma knew he could take Kieran out at this distance. And he would, if Mark seemed in danger.
Mark was gripping his knife; his hand was steady, but his face was anguished. “Why are you here?” he said again. “Why would you come to this place where you know that you’re hated? Why do you want to make me kill you?”
“Mark,” Kieran said. He reached up, clenched his hand in Mark’s sleeve. His face was full of yearning; the hair that fell over his forehead was streaked with dark blue. “Mark, please.”
Mark shook his arm out of Kieran’s grip. “I could forgive you if it was me you whipped,” he said. “But you touched the ones I love; that I cannot forgive. You should bleed as Emma bled.”
“Don’t—Mark—” Emma was alarmed, not for Kieran—some part of her would have liked to see him bleed—but for Mark. For what hurting, even killing, Kieran would do to him.
“I came to help you,” Kieran said.
Mark gave a hollow laugh. “Your help is not wanted here.”
“I know about Malcolm Fade,” Kieran gasped. “I know he took your brother.”
Julian made a guttural noise. Mark’s hand, on the knife, went bloodless. “Let him go, Mark,” Julian said. “If he knows anything about Tavvy—we have to find out what it is. Let him go.”
“Mark,” Cristina said softly, and with a violent gesture, Mark flung himself off Kieran and stood up, backing away until he was nearly beside Julian. Julian, whose grip on his own knife looked agonizingly tight.
Slowly, painfully, Kieran rose to his feet and faced the room.
He was a far cry from the arrogant gentry warrior Emma had first seen in the Sanctuary. His shirt and loose trousers were bloodstained and torn, his face bruised. He did not cower or look frightened, but that
seemed less an act of bravery than almost one of hopelessness: Everything about him, from the way he was dressed to the way he stood to the way he looked at Mark, said that here was someone who did not care what became of him.
The door of the library burst open and Ty and Livvy spilled in. “Everything’s knocked out,” Livvy exclaimed. “All the phones, the computer, even the radios—”
She broke off, staring, as she took in the scene in front of her: Kieran facing the other occupants of the room.
Kieran gave a tiny bow. “I am Kieran of the Wild Hunt.”
“One of the faerie convoy?” Livvy looked from Mark to Julian. “One of the ones who whipped Emma?”
Ty looked at Mark, and then the others. His face was pale and cold. “Why is he still alive?” “He knows about Tavvy,” said Drusilla. “Julian, make him tell us—”
Julian flung his dagger. It flew past Kieran’s head, close enough to graze his hair, and embedded itself in the frame of the window behind him. “You will tell us now,” he said in a deadly quiet voice, “everything you know about where Octavian is, what’s going on, and how we can get him back. Or I will spill your blood on the floor of this library. I’ve spilled faerie blood before. Don’t think I won’t do it again.”
Kieran didn’t drop his eyes. “There is no need to threaten me,” he said, “though if it pleases you, do it; it makes no difference to me. I came to tell you what you want to know. That is why I am here. The black light you just saw was faerie magic. It was meant to knock out all communication, so that you could not call for help from the Clave or Conclave. So that you could not seek help or save your brother.”
“We could try to find a pay phone,” Livvy said uncertainly, “or a restaurant phone, down on the highway—”
“You will discover that phone lines have been knocked out for several miles,” said Kieran. There was urgency in his voice. “I beg you not to waste time. Fade has taken your brother, already, to the ley line convergence. It is the place where he performs his sacrifices. The place he plans to kill him. If you wish to rescue the boy, you must take up your weapons and go after him now.”
Julian threw open the door of the weapons room. “Everyone, arm yourselves. If you’re not in gear, get in gear. Diego, Cristina, there’s gear hanging on the east wall. Take it, it’ll be faster than going back to your rooms. Use any weapons you want. Kieran, you stay right there.” He pointed toward the table in the middle of the room. “Where I can see you. Don’t move or the next blade I throw at you won’t miss.”
Kieran gave him a look. A little of his visible despair seemed to have ebbed, and there was arrogance in his quick glance. “I believe it,” he said, and moved toward the table as everyone scurried around arming themselves and buckling gear on over their clothes. Not patrol gear, which was lighter, but the heavy dark gear you wore when you thought you were going to fight.
When you knew you were going to fight.
There had been some discussion of whether all of them were going to go to the convergence, or whether Dru at least should stay back at the Institute. Dru had protested vociferously, and Julian hadn’t fought it—the Institute didn’t feel safe at the moment, with the oculus smashed open. Kieran had gotten in, and who knew what else could? He wanted his family where he could see them. And there wasn’t much he could say to Dru about her age: He and Emma had fought and killed during the Dark War, and they’d been younger than she was now.
He had taken Ty aside, separately, and told him that if he wanted to stay behind from the fight because he was wounded, there was nothing shameful about that. He could lock himself in the car while they went into the convergence.
“Do you think I have nothing to contribute to a fight?” Ty had asked. “No,” Julian had said, and meant it. “But you’re hurt, and I—”
“It’s a fight. We might all get hurt.” Ty had looked directly into Julian’s eyes. He could tell that Ty was doing it for him, because he remembered that Julian had told him that people often looked directly into each other’s eyes to show that they were telling the truth. “I want to go. I want to be there to help Tavvy, and I want you to let me. It’s what I want, and that should matter.”
Ty was in the weapons room with them now. It was a cavernous space with no windows. Every spare inch of the walls was hung with swords, axes, and maces. Gear, belts, and boots were stacked in piles. There was a ceramic tile bowl full of steles, and a table covered with a long cloth held seraph blades.
Julian could sense them all around him, his friends and family. He knew Mark was at his side, toeing off his shoes and kicking his feet into boots. He knew Emma was at the counter, lining up seraph blades that had already been named and prepared, sliding some into her belt and distributing the rest. His awareness of her swung as she moved around the room like the needle on a compass.
Above all, though, he was aware of Tavvy, out there somewhere, needing him. There was a cold terror in him that threatened to pull the determination out of his bones and sap his concentration. Pushing it away to focus on what was happening here and now was one of the hardest things he’d ever done. He bitterly wished that things were different, that they had the cooperation of the Clave, that they could have gotten to Magnus and asked for a Portal.
But it was no use wishing.
“Talk,” he snapped at Kieran, pulling down a weapons belt from a shelf. “That black light, you said it was ‘faerie magic.’ Did you mean dark magic?”
Now that Mark was no longer looking directly at him, Kieran seemed bored and annoyed. He leaned against the central table, taking care not to come in contact with any of the weapons—not, his expression made clear, because they were sharp or frightening but because they were Nephilim weapons and therefore repellent.
“The question is whether it will show up on the Clave’s map,” said Ty, buckling on protective gauntlets. He was already in his gear, and the slight outline of the bandage on his calf was barely visible under the thick fabric. “The one Magnus uses to track dark magic use. Or is that blocked like the cell phones?”
“It was Unseelie magic, but not dark in nature,” said Kieran. “It will not show itself on the map. They were very sure of that.”
Julian frowned. “Who is they? In fact, how do you know so much about Malcolm?” “Because of Iarlath,” said Kieran.
Mark turned to stare. “Iarlath? What has he to do with this?”
“I thought you knew that at least,” Kieran muttered. “Iarlath and Malcolm have been in this together since the attack on the Institute five years ago.”
“They’re allies?” Mark demanded. “How long have you known?”
“Only a short time,” said Kieran. “I became suspicious when Iarlath so strongly refused to allow you to come back to Faerie. He wished you to stay here, so much so that he staged that charade of punishment with the whipping so that you would not return with us. After that I realized there was more to the plan of having you here at the Institute than finding the murderer who had taken faerie lives. It was about preventing anyone in your family from being able to go to the Clave until it was too late.”
Emma had a seraph blade in each hand and Cortana on her back; she had paused, her face stiff with shock. “Iarlath said something to me when he was—when he was whipping me,” she said. “That Shadowhunters don’t know who to trust. He meant Malcolm, didn’t he?”
“Most likely,” said Kieran. “Malcolm’s is the shadow hand that has guided the Followers, and Malcolm killed your parents five years ago.”
“Why?” Emma was rigid. Julian wanted to go to her so badly it hurt. “Why did he kill my parents?” “As I understand it?” Kieran said, and there was a tinge of pity to his voice. “It was an experiment. To
see if the spell worked.”
Emma stood speechless. Julian asked it for her, the question she couldn’t voice. “What do you mean, an experiment?”
“Years ago, Iarlath was one of the Fair Folk who allied themselves with Sebastian Morgenstern,” said Kieran. “He was also a friend to Malcolm. As you probably know, there are certain books warlocks are forbidden to own, but which can be found in some Shadowhunter libraries. Necromantic tomes and the like. One of those is the Black Volume of the Dead.”
“The one that the poem talked about,” said Dru. Though her face was still tearstained, she had put on her gear and was braiding her hair carefully back from her face. It hurt Julian’s heart, to see her like that. “‘Find the black book at any cost.’”
“There are many black books,” said Kieran. “But this was one Malcolm specifically wanted. Once the Institute was cleared of Shadowhunters and Sebastian departed, Malcolm took the opportunity to slip in and steal the book from the library. After all, when else was the Institute going to be unguarded, the door open? He took it, and he found the spell he wanted, and he saw that it required the sacrifice of Shadowhunter life. That was when your parents returned to the Institute, Emma.”
“So he killed them,” Emma said. “For a spell.” She gave a short, bitter laugh. “Did it at least work?” “It didn’t,” said Kieran. “It failed, and so he left their bodies in the ocean, knowing that the murders
would be taken to be Sebastian’s work.”
“Iarlath told you all this?” There was suspicion on Mark’s face.
“I followed Iarlath to the Unseelie Court and listened to what he said there.” Kieran tried to meet Mark’s gaze. Mark looked away. “The rest is what I demanded he tell me at knifepoint. Malcolm was to misdirect and confuse you so that you would not realize what he was doing—he used Johnny Rook for some of that. He wanted you to engage yourself in an investigation that would prove fruitless. Mark’s presence here would deter you from asking the Clave or the Silent Brothers to help you, thus protecting Malcolm’s work with the Followers, his attempts to raise his old love from the dead. When Malcolm had done what he needed to do, he would take a Blackthorn, for the death of a Blackthorn would be the last key to the enchantment.”
“But Iarlath hasn’t got the power to authorize a faerie convoy to do something on this scale,” said Mark. “He’s just a courtier, not someone who can order Gwyn around. Who gave the permission for this to happen?”
Kieran shook his dark head. “I don’t know. Iarlath did not say. It could have been the King, my father, or it could have been Gwyn—”
“Gwyn would not do that,” said Mark. “Gwyn has honor, and he is not cruel.”
“What about Malcolm?” Livvy demanded. “I thought he had honor. I thought he was our friend! He loves Tavvy—he’s played with him for hours, brought him toys. He couldn’t kill him. He couldn’t.”
“He’s responsible for the killing of a dozen people, Livvy,” said Julian. “Maybe more.”
“People are more than one thing,” said Mark, and his eyes brushed over Kieran as he spoke. “Warlocks too.”
Emma stood with her hands still on the seraph blades. Julian could feel what she felt, as he always had, as if his own heart mirrored hers—the hot curl of anger rising over a choking sense of despair and loss. More than anything he wanted to reach out to her, but he didn’t trust himself to do it in front of everyone else.
They’d be able to see right through him the moment he touched her, see his real feelings. And there was no way he could risk that now, not when his heart was being eaten alive with fear over his little brother, fear he couldn’t show in case it demoralized the rest of his siblings.
“Everyone is more than one thing,” said Kieran. “We are more than single actions we undertake, whether they be good or evil.” His eyes gleamed, silver and black, as he looked at Mark. Even in this room full of Shadowhunter things, the wildness of the Hunt and Faerie clung to Kieran like the scent of rain or leaves. It was the wildness that Julian sometimes sensed in Mark, that had faded since he’d come back to them, but showed itself still in brief flares like gunfire seen from a distance. For a moment they seemed to him two feral things, incongruous in their surroundings.
“The poem that was written on the bodies,” Cristina said. “The one that mentioned the black book. The story said it was given to Malcolm in the Unseelie Court.”
“So goes the faerie story as well,” said Kieran. “At first Malcolm was told that his love had become an Iron Sister. Later he found out that she had been murdered by her family. Walled up alive in a tomb. The knowledge drove him to seek out the King of the Unseelie Court and ask him if there was a way to raise the dead. The King gave him that rhyme. It was instructions—it is only that it took him almost a century to learn how to follow them, and to find the black book.”
“That’s why the library was destroyed in the attack,” said Emma. “So no one would notice the book was missing, if they ever looked for it. So many books were lost.”
“But why did Iarlath tell Malcolm that the Followers could kill faeries as well as humans?” said Emma. “If he was really in league with Malcolm—”
“That was something Iarlath wanted. He has many enemies in the Seelie Court. It was an expedient way for him to rid himself of some of them—Malcolm had his Followers slay them, and the murders could not be traced back to Iarlath. For a faerie to kill another of the gentry, that is a dark crime indeed.”
“Where is Annabel’s body?” asked Livvy. “Wouldn’t she be buried in Cornwall? Wouldn’t she have been walled up there—in a ‘tomb by the sounding sea’?”
“Convergences are places out of space and time,” said Kieran. “The convergence itself is neither here nor in Cornwall nor in any real space. It is a between place, like Faerie itself.”
“It can probably be entered through Cornwall as well—that would be why those plants grow outside the entrance,” said Mark.
“And what is the connection to the poem ‘Annabel Lee’?” asked Ty. “The name Annabel, the similarities of the stories—it seems more than coincidence.”
The dark-haired faerie prince only shook his head. “I only know what Iarlath told me, and what is part of faerie lore. I did not even know the name Annabel or the mundane poem.”
Mark whirled on Kieran. “Where is Iarlath now?”
Kieran’s eyes seemed to shimmer when he looked back. “We are wasting time here. We should be getting to the convergence.”
“He isn’t wrong.” Diego was completely kitted out: gear, several swords, an ax, throwing knives at his belt. He wore a black cloak over his gear, pinned at the shoulder with the pin of the Centurions—it bore the pattern of a leafless stick, and the words Primi Ordines. He made Julian feel underdressed. “We must get to the ley line convergence and stop Fade—”
Julian looked around the room, at Emma and Mark, and then at Ty and Livvy, and lastly at Dru. “I know that we have known Malcolm all our lives. But he is a murderer and liar. Warlocks are immortal, but not invulnerable. When you see him, put your blade in his heart.”
There was a silence. Emma broke it. “He killed my parents,” she said. “I’ll be the one to cut out his heart.”
Kieran’s eyebrows went up, but he said nothing.
“Jules.” It was Mark, having moved to stand at Julian’s shoulder. His hair, that Cristina had cut, was tangled; there were shadows under his eyes. But there was strength in the hand he laid on Julian’s shoulder. “Would you place a rune upon me, brother? For I fear that without them, I will be at a disadvantage in the battle.”
Julian’s hand went automatically to his stele. Then he paused. “Are you sure?”
Mark nodded. “It is time to let the nightmares go.” He pulled the neck of his shirt aside and down, baring his shoulder. “Courage,” he said, naming a rune. “And Agility.”
The others were discussing the fastest way to get to the convergence, but Julian was aware of both Emma’s and Kieran’s eyes on him as he put one hand on Mark’s back and used the other to draw two careful runes. At the first bite of the stele, Mark tensed, but relaxed immediately, letting out his breath in a soft exhale.
When Julian was done, he lowered his hands. Mark straightened up and turned to him. Though he had shed no tears, his two-colored eyes were brilliant. For a moment there was no one in the world but Julian and his brother.
“Why?” Julian said.
“For Tavvy,” Mark said, and suddenly, in the set of his mouth, in the curve of the determined line of his jaw, Julian could see his own self. “And,” Mark added, “because I am a Shadowhunter.” He looked toward Kieran, who was gazing at them as if the stele had seared his own skin. Love and hate had their own secret languages, Julian thought, and Mark and Kieran were speaking in them now. “Because I am a Shadowhunter,” he said again, his eyes full of a private challenge. “Because I am a Shadowhunter.”
Kieran pushed himself away from the table almost violently. “I have told you everything I know,” he said. “There are no other secrets.”
“So I suppose you’re leaving,” Mark said. “Thank you for your aid, Kieran. If you are returning to the Hunt, tell Gwyn that I will not be coming back. Not ever, no matter what rules they decree. I swear that I —”
“Don’t swear it,” Kieran said. “You do not know how things will change.” “Enough.” Mark began to turn away.
“I have brought my steed with me,” said Kieran. He was speaking to Mark, but everyone else was listening. “A faerie steed of the Hunt can take to the air. Roads do not slow our travel. I will ride ahead and delay what is happening at the convergence until the rest of you arrive.”
“I’ll go with him,” Mark said sharply.
Everyone looked at him in surprise. “Um,” said Emma. “You can’t knife him on the way, Mark. We may need him.”
“Pleasant as that sounds, I wasn’t planning to,” said Mark. “Two warriors are better than one.” “Good thinking,” said Cristina. She slid her two butterfly knives into her belt. Emma had finished
fastening on the last of her seraph blades.
Julian felt the familiar chill of battle’s expectation rising in his veins. “Let’s go.”
As they headed downstairs, Julian found himself beside Kieran. The hair on the back of his neck prickled. Kieran felt like strangeness, wild magic, the murderous abandonment of the Hunt. He couldn’t imagine what Mark had found to love about him.
“Your brother was wrong about you,” Kieran said as they descended the steps to the entryway.
Julian glanced around, but no one seemed to be listening to them. Emma was beside Cristina, the twins were together, and Dru was talking shyly to Diego.
“What do you mean?” he asked guardedly. He had learned well in the past to be wary of the Fair Folk, their verbal entrapments and their false implications.
“He said you were gentle,” said Kieran. “The most gentle person he knew.” He smiled, and there was a cold beauty to his face when he smiled, like the crystalline surface of frost. “You are not gentle. You have a ruthless heart.”
For several long moments Julian was silent, hearing only the sounds of their steps on the stairs. At the last step he turned.
“Remember it,” he said, and walked away.
Because I am a Shadowhunter.
Mark stood beside Kieran on the sweep of grass that led down to the bluff and then the sea. The Institute rose behind them, dark and lightless, though from here, at least, the hole in the roof was invisible.
Kieran put his fingers in his mouth and whistled, a sound achingly familiar to Mark. The sight of Kieran was still enough to make his heart ache, from the way he held himself, every line of his body speaking of his early Court training, to the way that his hair had grown too long since Mark had not been there to cut it, and the blue-dark strands fell into his eyes and tangled with his long eyelashes. Mark remembered being enchanted by the curve and sweep of those lashes. He remembered how they felt against his skin.
“Why?” Kieran said. He was standing facing a little away from Mark, his posture rigid, as if he expected to be slapped. “Why come with me?”
“Because you require watching,” said Mark. “I could trust you once. I cannot trust you now.” “That is not the truth,” said Kieran. “I know you, Mark. I know when you lie.”
Mark spun on him. He had always felt a little afraid of Kieran, he realized: of the power of his rank, of his unassailable surety in himself. That fear was gone now, and he couldn’t say if it was because of the Courage rune on his shoulder or because he no longer desperately needed Kieran to live. Wanted him, loved him—those were different questions. But he could survive, either way. He was a Shadowhunter.
“Fine,” Mark said, and he knew he should have said “very well,” but the language wasn’t in him anymore, it didn’t beat in his blood, the high speech of Faerie. “I’ll tell you why I wanted to come with you—”
There was a flash of white. Windspear cleared a small rise and bounded up to them, answering the call of her master. She whinnied when she saw Mark and nosed at his shoulder.
He stroked her neck. A hundred times she had carried him and Kieran in the Hunt, a hundred times they had shared a single mount, and ridden together, and fought together, and as Kieran climbed up onto the horse’s back the familiarity was like fishhooks under Mark’s skin.
Kieran looked down at him, every inch the prince despite his bloodstained clothes. His eyes were half-lidded crescents of silver and black. “So tell me,” he said.
Mark felt the Agility rune burn on his back as he swung himself up behind Kieran. His arms went around Kieran automatically, hands settling themselves where they had always settled, at Kieran’s belt. He felt Kieran inhale sharply.
He wanted to drop his head to Kieran’s shoulder. He wanted to put his hands over Kieran’s and lace their fingers together. He wanted to feel what he had felt living among the Hunt, that with Kieran he was safe, with Kieran he had someone who would never leave him.
But there were worse things than being left.
“Because,” Mark said, “I wished to ride with you in the Hunt one last time.” He felt Kieran flinch. Then the faerie boy leaned forward, and Mark heard him say a few words to Windspear in the Fair Speech. As the horse began to run, Mark reached back to touch the place where Julian had put the runes. He had felt a rush of panic when the stele touched his skin, and then a calm that had flowed through him, surprising him.
Maybe the runes of Heaven truly did belong on his skin. Maybe he’d been born to them after all.
He held tight to Kieran as Windspear lifted up into the sky, hooves tearing the air, and the Institute spun away below them.
When Emma and the others reached the convergence, Mark and Kieran were already there. They cantered out of the shadows on the back of a gorgeous white stallion that made Emma think of all the times in her childhood that she had wanted a horse.
The Toyota came to a stop. The sky was bare of clouds, and the moonlight was sharp and silver as a knife. It outlined Mark and Kieran, turned them into the brilliantly illuminated outlines of faerie knights.
Neither of them looked human.
The field that reached to the bluff lay deceptively peaceful under the moonlight. The wide space of sea grass and sage bushes moved with soft rustles. The granite hill rose above it all, the dark space in the wall seeming to beckon them closer.
“We killed many Mantids,” said Mark. His eyes met Emma’s. “Cleared the way.”
Kieran sat glowering, his face half-hidden by dark hair. Mark had his hands on Kieran’s belt, steadying himself. As if suddenly recollecting this, Mark let go and slid to the ground.
“We’d better go in,” Mark said, tipping his face up to Kieran’s. “You and Windspear stand guard.” “But I—” Kieran began.
“This is Blackthorn family business,” said Mark in a tone that brooked no argument. Kieran looked toward Cristina and Diego, opened his mouth as if to voice a protest, and then closed it again.
“Weapons check, everyone,” Julian said. “Then we head in.”
Everyone, even Diego, obediently checked their belts and gear. Ty fished an extra seraph blade out of the car trunk. Mark looked over Dru’s gear, reminded her again that her job was to stay behind them and to stick close to the others.
Emma unbuckled her arm guard and rolled up her sleeve. She held her arm out to Julian. He looked at her bare arm and then up at her face and nodded. “Which one?”
“Endurance,” she said. She was already marked with runes for courage and accuracy, runes for precision and healing. The Angel had never really given the Shadowhunters runes for emotional pain, though—there were no runes to mend grief or a broken heart.
The idea that her parents’ death had been a failed experiment, a pointless throwaway, hurt more than Emma could have imagined. She had thought all these years they had died for some reason, but it was no reason at all. They had simply been the only Shadowhunters available.
Julian took her arm gently, and she felt the familiar and welcome pressure of the stele against her skin. As the Mark emerged, it seemed to flow into her bloodstream, like a shaft of cool water.
Endurance. She would have to endure this, this knowledge, fight past and through it. Do it for Tavvy, she thought. For Julian. For all of them. And maybe at the end of it, she would have her revenge.
Julian lowered his hand. His eyes were wide. The Mark blazed against her skin, infused with a brightness she had never seen before, as if the edges of it were burning. She drew her sleeve down quickly, not wanting anyone else to notice.
At the edge of the bluff, Kieran’s white horse reared up against the moon. The sea crashed in the distance. Emma turned and marched toward the opening in the rock.