“If I wear it into the realm, the protection will extend to you and Emma, and Mark, too, as long as you do not go too far away from me.”
Julian leaned against the wall and sighed. “And I suppose you’re not going to consider just giving it to me, so I can wear it into Faerie? By myself?”
“Absolutely not,” Cristina said primly. “It’s a family heirloom.”
Emma could have kissed Cristina. She settled for winking at her. The corner of Cristina’s lip curled up slightly.
“Then the three of us will go,” Emma said, and Julian seemed to realize there would be no point in disagreement. He nodded at her, and there was a little of the old parabatai look in his eye, the look that said that he expected the two of them to enter into danger. Together.
“The pendant will also allow us take the moon’s road,” said Cristina. “Usually only those with faerie blood can access it.” She squared her shoulders. “Mark will not imagine that we could follow him; that is why he sent the note.”
“The moon’s road?” Julian said. “What is that, exactly?”
At that, Cristina did smile. It was an odd smile—not quite a look of happiness, and Emma expected that she was too worried for that—but there was a little bit of wonder in it, the look of someone who was getting to experience something they never thought they’d get a chance to do.
“I’ll show you,” she said.
* * *
They gathered their things swiftly. The house was dark, unusually alive with the untidy breathing of multiple sleepers. As Julian moved down the hallway, sliding the straps of his pack over his shoulders, he saw Ty asleep in front of Kit’s room, half-sitting up, his chin in his hand. A book was open beside him on the floor.
Julian paused at the door to the attic. He hesitated. He could leave a note, walk away. That would be the easier thing to do. There wasn’t much time; they had to get to Mark before he got to Faerie. It wouldn’t be cowardly. Just practical. Just—
He shoved the door open and pounded up the stairs. Arthur was where he had left him, at his desk. Moonlight streamed in, angular, through the skylight.
Arthur dropped his pen and turned to look at Julian. Gray hair framed his tired Blackthorn eyes. It was like looking at a blurred picture of Julian’s father, something that had been flawed in the development process, pulling the angles of his face out of familiar alignment.
“I have to leave for a few days,” Julian said. “If you need anything, talk to Diana. Not to anyone else. Just Diana.”
Arthur’s eyes seemed glazed. “You are—where are you going, Julian?”
Julian considered lying. He was good at lying, and it came easily to him. But for some reason, he didn’t want to.
“Mark went—back,” he said. “I’m going to get him, hopefully before he crosses over into Faerie.”
A shudder went through Arthur’s body. “You’re going after your brother in Faerie?” he said hoarsely, and Julian remembered the shreds of what he knew of his uncle’s story—that he had been trapped with Julian’s father, Andrew, in Faerie for years, that Andrew had fallen in love with a gentry woman and fathered Helen and Mark on her, but Arthur had been separated from him, locked away, tortured with enchantments.
“Yes.” Julian shifted his pack to one shoulder.
Arthur reached his hand out, as if he meant to take Julian’s, and Julian flinched back, startled. His uncle never touched him. Arthur dropped his hand. “In the republic of Rome,” he said, “there was always a servant assigned to every general who won a war. When the general rode through the streets, accepting the thanks of the grateful people, the servant’s task was to whisper in his ear, ‘Respice post te. Hominem te esse memento. Memento mori.’”