“What would you say,” said the Queen, “if I said to you: There is a corruption at the heart of the bond of parabatai. A poison. A darkness in it that mirrors its goodness. There is a reason parabatai cannot fall in love, and it is monstrous beyond all you could imagine.” Her mouth shimmered like a poisoned apple as she smiled. “The parabatai rune was not given to you by the Angel but by men, and men are flawed. David the Silent and Jonathan Shadowhunter created the rune and the ceremony. Do you imagine that carries no consequences?”
It was true, and Emma knew it. The parabatai rune was not in the Gray Book. But neither was the Alliance rune Clary had created, and that was regarded as a universal good.
The Queen was twisting the truth to suit herself, as she always did. Her eyes, fixed on Emma’s, were shards of blue ice. “I see you do not understand,” she said. “But you will.”
Before Emma could protest, Nene took her arm. “Come,” she murmured. “While the Queen is still in a good mood.”
Emma glanced at Julian. He hadn’t moved from where he was, his back rigid, his gaze fixed firmly on the Queen. Emma knew she should say something. Protest, tell him not to listen to the Queen’s trickster words, tell him that there was no way, no matter what was at stake, that they could justify the shattering of every parabatai bond in the world.
Even if it would free them. Even if it would give Julian back to her.
She couldn’t force the words out. She walked out of the Queen’s chamber beside Nene without another word.
MANY A MARVELLOUS SHRINE
The sight of the Shadow Market sent a punch of familiarity through Kit’s chest. It was a typical Los Angeles night—the temperature had dropped as soon as the sun set, and a cool wind blew through the empty lot where the Market was, making the dozens of faerie bells that hung from the corners of white-canopied booths chime.
Ty had been full of suppressed excitement all the way there in the back of the Uber car, which he’d dealt with by pushing up the sleeve of Kit’s shirt and giving him several runes. Kit had three of them: Night Vision, Agility, and one called Talent, which Ty told him would make him more persuasive. Now they were standing at the circumference of the Market, having been dropped off in Kendall Alley. They were both dressed as mundanely as possible, in jeans, zip-front jackets, and Frye boots.
But Ty was still visibly a Shadowhunter. He held himself like one, and he walked like one and looked like one, and there were even runes visible on the delicate skin of his neck and wrists. And bruises, too—all over the sides of his hands, the kind no mundane boy would have any business getting unless he was in an illegal fight club.
It wouldn’t have mattered if he could have covered them up, though. Shadowhunters seemed to bleed their angel heritage through their pores. Kit wondered if he himself did yet.
“I don’t see any gates,” Ty said, craning his head.
“The gates are—metaphysical. Not exactly real,” Kit explained. They were walking toward the section of the Market where potions and charms were sold. A booth covered in tumbling roses in shades of red and pink and white sold love charms. One with a green-and-white awning sold luck and good fortune, and a pearly gray stand hung with curtains of lace, providing privacy, sold more dangerous items. Necromancy and death magic were both forbidden at the Market, but the rules had never been strictly enforced.
A phouka was leaning against the post of a nearby streetlamp, smoking a cigarette. Behind him, the lanes of the Market looked like small, glowing streets, enticing Kit with calls of “Come buy!” Voices clamored, jewelry clinked and rattled, spice and incense perfumed the air. Kit felt a longing mixed with anxiety—he cut a quick sideways glance toward Ty. They hadn’t entered the Market yet; was Ty thinking about how much he’d hated the London Market, how it had made him sweat and panic with too much noise, too much light, too much pressure, too much everything?
He wanted to ask Ty if he was all right, but he knew the other boy wouldn’t want it. Ty was staring at the Market, tense with curiosity. Kit turned to the phouka.
“Gatekeeper,” he said. “We request entrance to the Shadow Market.”
Ty’s gaze snapped to attention. The phouka was tall, dark, and thin, with bronze and gold strands threaded through his long hair. He wore purple trousers and no shoes. The lamppost he leaned against was between two stalls, neatly blocking the way into the Market.
“Kit Rook,” said the phouka. “What a compliment it is, to still be recognized by one who has left us to dwell among the angels.”
“He knows you,” muttered Ty.
“Everyone in the Shadow Market knows me,” said Kit, hoping Ty would be impressed.
The phouka stubbed out his cigarette. It released a sickly sweet smell of charred herbs. “Password,” he said.
“I’m not saying that,” said Kit. “You think it’s funny to try to make people say that.”