“I’m here,” Mark said, placing the sword he’d been holding back in the rack. The full moon was high, and white light filtered through the windows. The moon traced a path like a road across the sea from where it kissed the horizon to the edge of the beach.
Jace hadn’t said anything yet; he was watching Mark with hooded golden eyes, like a hawk’s. Mark couldn’t help but remember Clary and Jace as they had been when he’d met them just after the Hunt had taken him. He’d been hiding in the tunnels near the Seelie Court when they’d come walking toward him, and his heart had ached and broken to see them. Shadowhunters, striding through the dangers of Faerie, heads held high. They were not lost; they were not running. They were not afraid.
He had wondered if he would have that pride again, that lack of fear. Even as Jace had pressed a witchlight into his hand, even as he had said, Show them what a Shadowhunter is made of, show them that you aren’t afraid, Mark had been sick with fear.
Not for himself. For his family. How would they fare in a world at war, without him to protect them?
Surprisingly well, had been the answer. They hadn’t needed him after all. They’d had Jules.
Jace seated himself on a windowsill. He was bigger than he had been the first time Mark had met him, of course. Taller, broader shouldered, though still graceful. Rumor had it that even the Seelie Queen had been impressed by his looks and manner, and faerie gentry were rarely impressed by humans. Even Shadowhunters.
Though sometimes they were. Mark supposed his own existence was proof of that. His mother, the Lady Nerissa of the Seelie Court, had loved his Shadowhunter father.
“Julian doesn’t want the Centurions here,” said Jace. “Does he?”
Mark looked at them both with suspicion. “I wouldn’t know.”
“Mark won’t tell us his brother’s secrets, Jace,” said Clary. “Would you tell Alec’s?”
The window behind Jace rose high and clear, so clear Mark sometimes imagined he could fly out of it. “Maybe if it was for his own good,” Jace said.
Clary made an inelegant doubtful noise. “Mark,” she said. “We need your help. We have some questions about Faerie and the Courts—their actual physical layout—and there don’t seem to be any answers—not from the Spiral Labyrinth, not from the Scholomance.”
“And honestly,” Jace said, “we don’t want to look too much like we’re investigating, because this mission is secret.”
“Your mission is to Faerie?” Mark guessed.
They both nodded.
Mark was astonished. Shadowhunters had never been comfortable in the actual Lands of Faerie, and since the Cold Peace they’d avoided them like poison. “Why?” He turned quickly from the claymore. “Is this some kind of revenge mission? Because Iarlath and some of the others cooperated with Malcolm? Or—because of what happened to Emma?”
Emma still sometimes needed help with the last of her bandages. Every time Mark looked at the red lines crossing her skin, he felt guilt and sickness. They were like a web of bloody threads that kept him bound to the deception they were both perpetrating.
Clary’s eyes were kind. “We’re not planning to hurt anyone,” she said. “There’s no revenge going on here. This is strictly about information.”
“You think I’m worried about Kieran,” realized Mark. The name lodged in his throat like a piece of snapped-off bone. He had loved Kieran, and Kieran had betrayed him and gone back to the Hunt, and whenever Mark thought about him, it felt as if he were bleeding from someplace inside. “I am not,” he said, “worried about Kieran.”
“Then you wouldn’t mind if we talked to him,” said Jace.