They emerged on the other side into the heart of the Market. Light flared all around them, blotting out the stars overhead. Even the moon seemed a pale shell.
Julian was still gripping Kit’s arm, but Kit was making no move to run. He was looking around with a wistfulness that made him look young—sometimes it was hard for Julian to remember that Kit was the same age as Ty. His blue eyes—clear and sky-colored, without the green tinge that characterized the Blackthorns’ eyes—moved around the Market, taking it in.
Rows of booths were lit with torches whose fires blazed gold, blue, and poison green. Trellises of flowers richer and sweeter-smelling than white oleander or jacaranda blossoms cascaded down the sides of stalls. Beautiful faerie girls and boys danced to the music of reeds and pipes. Everywhere were voices clamoring for them to come buy, come buy. Weapons were on display, and jewelry, and vials of potions and powders.
“This way,” said Kit, pulling his arm out of Julian’s grip.
Julian followed. He could feel eyes on them, wondered if it was because Kit had been right: He looked like a cop, or the supernatural version, anyway. He was a Shadowhunter, had always been a Shadowhunter. You couldn’t shed your nature.
They had reached one of the Market’s edges, where the light was dimmer, and it was possible to see the white lines painted on the asphalt under them that revealed this place’s daytime job as a parking lot.
Kit moved toward the closest booth, where a faerie woman sat in front of a sign that advertised fortune-telling and love potions. She looked up with a beaming smile as he approached.
“Kit!” she exclaimed. She wore a scrap of a white dress that set off her pale blue skin, and her pointed ears poked through lavender hair. Thin chains of gold and silver dangled around her neck and dripped from her wrists. She glared at Julian. “What is he doing here?”
“The Nephilim is all right, Hyacinth,” Kit said. “I’ll vouch for him. He just wants to buy something.”
“Doesn’t everyone,” she murmured. She cast Julian a sly look. “You’re a pretty one,” she said. “Your eyes are almost the same color as me.”
Julian moved closer to the booth. It was at times like this he wished he was any good at flirting. He wasn’t. He had never in his life felt a flicker of desire for any girl who wasn’t Emma, so it was something he’d never learned to do.
“I’m seeking a potion to cure madness in a Shadowhunter,” he said. “Or at least to stop the symptoms for a while.”
“What kind of madness?”
“He was tormented in the Courts,” Julian said bluntly. “His mind was broken by the hallucinations and potions they forced on him.”
“A Shadowhunter with faerie-caused madness? Oh my,” she said, and there was skepticism in her tone. Julian began to explain about Uncle Arthur, without using his name: his situation and his condition. The fact that his lucid periods came and went. The fact that sometimes his moods made him bleak and cruel. That he recognized his family only part of the time. He described the potion Malcolm had made for Arthur, back when they trusted Malcolm and thought he was their friend.
Not that he mentioned Malcolm by name.
The faerie woman shook her head when he was done. “You should ask a warlock,” she said. “They will deal with Shadowhunters. I will not. I have no desire to run afoul of the Courts or the Clave.”
“No one needs to know about it,” said Julian. “I’ll pay you well.”
“Child.” There was an edge of pity in her voice. “You think you can keep secrets from all of Downworld? You think the Market hasn’t been buzzing with the news of the fall of the Guardian and the death of Johnny Rook? The fact that we now no longer have a High Warlock? The disappearance of Anselm Nightshade—though he was a terrible man—” She shook her head. “You should never have come here,” she said. “It’s not safe for either of you.”
Kit looked bewildered. “You mean him,” he said, indicating Julian with a tilt of his head. “It’s not safe for him.”
“Not for you, either, baby boy,” said a gravelly voice behind them.
They both turned. A short man stood in front of them. He was pale, with a flat, sickly cast to his skin. He wore a three-piece gray wool suit, which must have been boiling in the warm weather. His hair and beard were dark and neatly clipped.
“Barnabas,” said Kit, blinking. Julian noticed Hyacinth shrinking slightly in her booth. A small crowd had gathered behind Barnabas.
The short man stepped forward. “Barnabas Hale,” he said, holding out a hand. The moment his fingers closed around Julian’s, Julian felt his muscles tighten. Only Ty’s affinity for lizards and snakes, and the fact that Julian had had to carry them out of the Institute and dump them back in the grass more than once, kept him from pulling his hand away.
Barnabas’s skin wasn’t pale: It was a mesh of overlapping whitish scales. His eyes were yellow, and they looked with amusement on Julian, as if expecting him to jerk his hand away. The scales against Julian’s skin were like smooth, cold pebbles; they weren’t slimy, but they felt as if they ought to be. Julian held the grip for several long moments before lowering his arm.
“You’re a warlock,” he said.
“Never claimed anything different,” said Barnabas. “And you’re a Shadowhunter.”
Julian sighed and pulled his sleeve back into place. “I suppose there wasn’t much point in trying to disguise it.”
“None at all,” said Barnabas. “Most of us can recognize a Nephilim on sight, and besides, young Mr. Rook has been the talk of the town.” He turned his slit-pupilled eyes on Kit. “Sorry to hear about your father.”
Kit acknowledged this with a slight nod. “Barnabas owns the Shadow Market. At least, he owns the land the Market’s on, and he collects the rent for the stalls.”
“That’s true,” said Barnabas. “So you’ll understand I’m serious when I ask you both to leave.”
“We’re not causing any trouble,” said Julian. “We came here to do business.”
“Nephilim don’t ‘do business’ at Shadow Markets,” said Barnabas.
“I think you’ll find they do,” said Julian. “A friend of mine bought some arrows here not that long ago. They turned out to be poisoned. Any ideas about that?”
Barnabas jabbed a squat finger at him. “That’s what I mean,” he said. “You can’t turn it off, even if you want to, this thinking you get to ask the questions and make the rules.”
“They do make the rules,” said Kit.
“Kit,” said Julian out of the side of his mouth. “Not helping.”
“A friend of mine disappeared the other day,” said Barnabas. “Malcolm Fade. Any ideas about that?”
There was a low buzz in the crowd behind him. Julian opened and closed his hands at his sides. If he’d been here alone, he wouldn’t have been worried—he could have gotten himself out of the crowd easily enough, and back to the car. But with Kit to protect, it would be harder.
“See?” Barnabas demanded. “For every secret you think you know, we know another. I know what happened to Malcolm.”
“Do you know what he did?” Julian asked, carefully controlling his voice. Malcolm had been a murderer, a mass murderer. He’d killed Downworlders as well as mundanes. Surely the Blackthorns couldn’t be blamed for his death. “Do you know why it happened?”
“I see only another Downworlder, dead at the hands of Nephilim. And Anselm Nightshade, too, imprisoned for a bit of simple magic. What next?” He spat on the ground at his feet. “There might have been a time I tolerated Shadowhunters in the Market. Was willing to take their money. But that time is over.” The warlock’s gaze skittered to Kit. “Go,” he said. “And take your Nephilim friend with you.”
“He’s not my friend,” said Kit. “And I’m not like them, I’m like you—”
Barnabas was shaking his head. Hyacinth watched, her blue hands steepled under her chin, her eyes wide.
“A dark time is coming for Shadowhunters,” said Barnabas. “A terrible time. Their power will be crushed, their might thrown down into the dirt, and their blood will run like water through the riverbeds of the world.”