Queen of Air and Darkness snippets
Here are snippets from QUEEN OF AIR AND DARKESS, the third and final installment in THE DARK ARTIFICES trilogy scheduled to be released on December 4, 2018, that Cassandra Clare has shared online:
“Mark knocked, and a harried-looking Simon Lewis opened the door”
Fear prickled up and down Emma’s arms like goosebumps. Since she was twelve, she had been terrified of the ocean: she had always believed her parents had died in it, dragged below the surface by Raziel knew what, choked to death on bitter seawater. The surge and crash of waves, the imagined black velvet of the ocean’s depths, had filled her nightmares.
Even when she found out her parents had been murdered on dry land by Malcolm Fade, their bodies thrown into the sea after death, the fear remained. She reached for it now, welcomed it in. She could feel it filling the empty spaces, the hollows left by grief.
She glanced back down at the sea. The surging whirlpool below, the waves slamming like dark blue walls against sheer needles of stone, looked like a painting of a maelstrom, a photograph of a hellscape taken from a safe distance.
The wind screamed in Emma’s ears like a warning. Another wave hurled itself against the cliffs, sending up an explosion of spray. Emma smiled grimly into the wind and salt, and jumped.
“I can’t do this.” Helen tried to keep her voice steady, but it was nearly impossible. She hoped the strain would be covered by the sound of the waves crashing below them, but Aline knew her too well. She could sense when Helen was upset, even when she was trying hard not to show it.
“Baby.” Aline moved closer, wrapping her arms around Helen, brushing her lips softly with her own. “You can. You can do anything.”
Helen relaxed into her wife’s arms. When she’d first met Aline she’d thought the other girl was taller than she was, but she’d realized later it was the way Aline held herself, arrow-straight. The Consul, her mother, held herself the same way, and with the same pride — not that either of them was arrogant, but the word seemed a shade closer to what Helen imagined than simple confidence. She remembered the first love note Aline had ever written her. The curves of your lips rewrite history. The world is changed because you are made of ivory and gold. Later, she’d found out it was an Oscar Wilde quote, and had said to Aline, smiling, You’ve got a lot of nerve.
Aline had looked back at her steadily. “I know. I do.”
They both had, always, and it had stood them in good stead. But this —
“This is different,” Helen said. “They don’t want me here –“
“They do want you here.”
“They barely know me,” Helen said. “That’s worse.”
Kit glanced around, wondering if the growing number of people was bothering Ty. He hated crowds. Magnus and Alec were standing with their kids near the Consul; they were with a beautiful black-haired girl with eyebrows just like Alec’s and a boy — well, he was probably in his twenties — with untidy brown hair. The boy gave Kit a considering look that seemed to say you look familiar. Several people had done the same. Kit guessed it was because he looked like Jace, if Jace had suffered a sudden and unexpected height, muscle and overall hotness reduction.
Isabelle shook her head, then bent down and unclipped a chain from one ankle. She held it out to Emma. “This is blessed iron. Poisonous to faeries. Wear it and you can pack a hell of a kick.”
“Thanks.” Emma took the chain and wrapped it twice around her wrist, fastening it tightly.
“Do I have anything iron?” Simon looked around wildly, then reached into his pocket and pulled out a small metal figure of an archer. “This is my D&D character, Lord Montgomery —”
“Oh my God,” said Isabelle.
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 for 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.”
“Say what? What’s the password?” Ty demanded.
The phouka grinned. “Wait here, Kit Rook,” he said, and melted back into the shadows of the Market.
“He’s going to get Hale,” said Kit, trying to hide the signs of his nerves.
“Can they see us?” Ty said. He was looking into the Shadow Market, where clusters of Downworlders, witches and other assorted members of the magical underworld moved among the clamor. “Out here?”
It was like standing outside a lighted room in the dark, Kit thought. And though Ty might not express it that way, Kit suspected he felt the same.
“If they can, they’d never show it,” he said.
Emma had been halfway up the stairs on the way to Cristina’s room when she had seen Mark, leaning against the wall on the landing and looking dejected. “Dru won’t let me in to talk to her,” he said. “I am worried. It is like a faerie to grieve alone, but not, I understand, like a Shadowhunter.”
Emma hesitated. She was about to say that it wasn’t unlike Dru to lock herself in her room alone, but Dru had looked more than a little upset when she’d left the kitchen. “Keep trying,” she advised. “Sometimes you have to knock for twenty minutes or so. Or you could offer to watch a horror movie with her.”
Mark looked glum. “I do not think I would enjoy a horror movie.”
“You never know,” Emma said.
He turned to head back up the stairs, and hesitated. “I am worried about you and Jules as well,” he said, more quietly. “I do not like the Inquisitor, or the idea of you being questioned by him. He reminds me of the King of Unseelie.”
Emma was startled. “He does?”
“They give me the same feeling,” Mark said. “I cannot explain it, but —“
A door opened on the landing overhead: it was Cristina’s. She stepped out, glancing down. “Emma? I wondered if you were —“
She stopped when she saw Mark, and she and Mark stared at each other in a way that made Emma feel as if she had disappeared completely.
“I didn’t mean to interrupt,” Cristina said, but she was still looking at Mark, and he was looking back as if their gazes were hopelessly tied together.
Mark had shaken himself, as if he were casting off cobwebs or dreams. “It is all right — I must go speak with Drusilla.” He had bounded up the stairs and out of sight, disappearing around the bend in the corridor.
Cristina had snapped out of it and invited Emma in, and now it was as if the moment with Mark had never happened, though Emma was itching to ask about it. “Mark will need you,” she said again, and Cristina twisted her hands in her lap.
“Mark,” she said, and paused. “I don’t know what Mark is thinking. If he is angry at me.”
“Why would he be angry at you?”
“Because of Kieran,” she said. “They did not end things well, and now Kieran is at the Scholomance, and far away, which was my doing.”
“You didn’t break him up with Kieran,” Emma protested. “If anything, you helped keep them together longer. Remember — hot faerie threesome.”
Cristina dropped her face into her hands. “Mrfuffhfhsh,” she said.
“I said,” Cristina repeated, lifting her face, “that Kieran sent me a note.”
“He did? How? When?”
“This morning. In an acorn.” Cristina passed a small piece of paper to Emma. “It isn’t very illuminating.”
Lady of Roses,
Though the Scholomance is cold, and Diego is boring, I am still grateful that you found enough value in my life to save it. You are as kind as you are beautiful. My thoughts are with you.
“Why did he send you this?” Emma handed the note back to Cristina, shaking her head. “It’s weird. He’s so weird!”
“I think he just wanted to thank me for the escape plan,” Cristina protested. “That’s all.”
“Faeries don’t like thanking people,” said Emma. “This is a romantic note.”
Cristina blushed. “It’s just the way faeries talk. It doesn’t mean anything.”
“When it comes to faeries,” Emma said darkly, “everything means something.
Faerie magic was quiet, Kit thought. There was no noise, no tumult, no flashing warlock lights. In between one breath and another, Mark, Kieran and Cristina simply disappeared.
“You hated the Shadow Market in London,” Kit said. “It really bothered you. The noises, and the crowd —“
Ty’s gaze flicked down to Kit. “I’ll wear my headphones. I’ll be all right.”
“…and I don’t know if we should go again so soon,” Kit added. “What if Helen and Aline get suspicious?”
Ty’s gaze darkened. “Julian told me once,” he said, “that when people keep coming up with reasons not do something, it’s because they don’t want to do it. Do you not want to do this?”
Ty’s voice sounded tight. The thrumming wire again, sharp with tension. Under the cotton of his shirt, his too-thin shoulders had tightened as well. The neck of his shirt was loose, the delicate line of his collarbones just visible.
Kit felt a rush of tenderness toward Ty, mixed with near-panic. In other circumstances, he thought, he would just have lied. But he couldn’t lie to Ty.
A ghost, Kit thought. Like Jessamine. He looked around wildly: surely there would be more ghosts here, their dead feet leaving no traces on the grass?
But he only saw the Blackthorns, clinging together, Emma and Cristina side by side, and Julian with Tavvy in his arms, as the smoke rose up and around them. Half-reluctantly he glanced back: the young man with the dark hair had moved to kneel beside Robert Lightwood’s pyre. He was closer to the flames than any human could have gotten, and they seemed to eddy within the outline of his body, lighting his eyes with fiery tears.
Parabatai, Kit thought, suddenly. In the slump of the young man’s shoulders, in his outstretched hands, in the longing stamped on his face, he saw Emma and Julian, he saw Alec as he spoke about Jace; he knew he was looking at the ghost of Robert Lightwood’s parabatai. He didn’t know how he knew it, but he did.
“You have changed, son of thorns,” said the Queen.
“Please. I’ve taught at Shadowhunter Academy. I —” Catarina began to cough, her shoulders shaking. Her eyes widened in alarm.
Cristina slid out of bed, alarmed. “Are you all right —?”
But Catarina had vanished. There wasn’t even a swirl of air to show where her Projection had been.
Cristina hastily threw on her clothes: jeans, an old t-shirt. She wished with all her heart that Emma was here, that they could talk about last night, that Emma could give her advice and a shoulder to cry on.
But she wasn’t. Cristina touched her necklace, whispered a quick prayer to the Angel, and headed down the hall to Mark’s room.
He’d been up as late as she was, so there was a high possibility he was still sleeping. She knocked on the door hesitantly and then harder; finally Mark threw it open, yawning and stark naked.
“Híjole!” Cristina shrieked, and pulled her t-shirt collar up over her face. “Put your pants on!”
“Sorry,” he he called, ducking behind the door. “At least you’ve already seen it all.”
The pyres were still burning as the procession turned and headed back toward the city. It was customary for the smoke to rise all night, and for families to gather in Angel Square to mourn among others.
Not that Emma thought it was likely the Blackthorns would do that. They would remain in their house, closeted in with each other: they had been too much apart all their lives to want comfort from other Shadowhunters who they barely knew.
She had trailed away from the rest of the group, too raw to want to try to talk to Julian again in front of his family. Besides, he was holding Tavvy, who was cried out and almost asleep.
“Emma,” said a voice beside her.
She turned and saw Jem Carstairs.
“They fear your influence,” said Gwyn. “They know others listen to you. You are very persuasive, Diana, and startlingly wise.”
She made a face at him. “Flatterer.”
“I am not flattering you.” He stood up. “I am afraid for you. Horace Dearborn may not be a dictator yet, but he yearns to be one. His first move will to be to eliminate all who stand against him. He will move to extinguish the brightest lights first, those who illuminate the pathway for others.”
Diana shivered. “You are cynical, Gwyn.”
“It is possible I do not always see the best in people,” he said, “as I hunt down the souls of slain warriors on the battlefield.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Are you making a joke?”
“Maybe.” He looked puzzled. “I think I might have. Was it funny?”
“That’s why I did all this,” Ty said. “I want you with me in any way you can be.”
Something struck Cristina’s back; she screamed as her feet left the ground. A harpy had sunk its claws into the back of her gear jacket and was lifting her into the air. She thought of stories about how eagles flew high into the sky with their prey and then released them, letting their bodies smash open on the earth below. The ground was already receding below her with terrifying speed.
With a scream of fear and anger, she slashed up and backward with her sword, slicing the harpy’s claws off at the joint. The demon shrieked and Cristina tumbled through the air, her sword falling out of her hand, reaching out as if she could catch on to something to slow her fall — she saw Mark’s pale, terrified face turned up toward her harpies surrounding him in a dark cloud —
Something reached out to seize her out of the sky.
She gasped as a hand caught her elbow, and she was yanked sideways to land awkwardly atop something warm and alive. A flying horse.
In the reflection of the window glass, Kit saw the bedroom door open and Ty come in. He was still wearing his mourning clothes, though he’d taken off the jacket and was just in a black long-sleeve T-shirt. And Kit knew it was too late to run, that he cared about these people now, and specifically Ty.
“I’m glad you’re here.” Ty sat down on the bed and started unlacing his shoes. “I wanted to talk to you.”
The door was still slightly open and Kit could hear voices coming from the kitchen downstairs. Helen’s, Dru’s, Emma’s, Julian’s. Diana had gone back to her own house. Apparently she lived in a weapons store or something like that. She’d gone back to get some kind of tool she thought could fish the splinters out of Julian’s bleeding hands.
Ty’s hands were fine, but he’d been wearing gloves. Kit had seen Julian’s when he’d gone to rinse them out at the sink, and they’d looked like shrapnel had blown into his palms. Emma had stood nearby looking worried, but Julian had said he didn’t want an iratze, that it would just heal the skin closed over the bits of wood. His voice had sounded so flat, Kit had barely recognized it.
“I know how this is going to sound,” Kit said, turning so his back was against the cold glass. Ty was hunched over, and Kit caught the gleam of gold at his neck. “But you’re not acting the way I expected.”
Ty kicked his boots off. “Because I climbed up the pyre?”
“No, that was kind of actually the most expected thing you did,” said Kit. “I just…”
“I did it to get this,” Ty said, and put his hand to his throat. Kit recognized the gold chain and the slim disk of metal attached to it: Livvy’s locket, the one he’d helped her put on before the Council meeting. He vividly remembered her holding her hair aside as he fastened the clasp, and the smell of her perfume. His stomach lurched.
“Livvy’s necklace,” he said. “I mean, I guess that makes sense. I just thought you would…”
“Cry?” Ty didn’t look angry, but the intensity in his gray eyes had deepened. He was still holding the pendant. “Everybody is supposed to cry. But that’s because they accept that Livvy is dead. But I don’t. I don’t accept it.”
“I’m going to get her back,” said Ty.
“Julian, remember what Dane said, that you were the kind of guy who would have a girl for a parabatai?” She knelt up on the bed, raising her chin to look him directly in the eye. “That’s what I always loved about you, even before I was in love with you. You never thought for a second about it diminishing you to have a girl as your warrior partner, you never acted as if I was anything less than your complete equal. You never for a moment made me feel like I had to be weak for you to be strong.”
“I am not a princess,” Cristina said; she was leaning over him, one of her hands braced against the blanket. Kieran’s face was close to hers, so close she could see the dark fringe of his eyelashes. “And I do not want you to go.”
Julian’s room was small, and painted an incongruously cheerful shade of blue. A white-painted four-poster bed dominated the space. Emma tugged him toward it, sitting him down gently, and went to bolt on the door.
“Why are you locking the door?” Julian raised his head. It was the first thing he’d said since they’d left Ty’s room, though he’d followed her calmly enough.
“You need some privacy, Julian,” she said. She turned toward him; God, the way he looked broke her heart. Blood freckled his skin, darkened his stiff clothes, had dried in patches on his boots. Livvy’s locket glittered in the hollow of his throat, though it had dangled against Livvy’s sternum. Emma remembered that locket: a gift from Julian to his sister when she’d turned thirteen, it had belonged to their grandmother. It had a circlet of the family thorns on the front, and Julian had added an etching to the back: a pair of crossed sabres, Livvy’s weapon.
It held a picture of Ty, Emma knew. She’d barely noticed Livvy wearing it at the Council meeting, though she knew Livvy often wore it when she was feeling nervous, the same way Emma kept tight hold of Cortana.
She wished she’d noticed Livvy more in those last moments, paid more attention to her, rather than worrying about the Cohort, about Manuel and Zara and Jessica, about Robert Lightwood and exile, about her own broken, messed-up heart. She wished she had held Livvy one more time, marveling at how tall and grown-up she was, how she had changed from the chubby toddler she recalled in her own earliest memories.
“Don’t,” Julian said, roughly.
Emma came closer to him; she couldn’t stop herself. He had to look up to meet her eyes. “Don’t do what?”
“Blame yourself,” he said. “I can feel you thinking about how you should have done something different. I can’t let those kind of thoughts in, or I’ll go to pieces.”
He was sitting on the very edge of the bed, as if he couldn’t bear the thought of lying down. Very gently, Emma touched his face, sliding the palm of her hand across his jaw. He shuddered and caught her wrist, hard.
“Emma,” he said, and for one of the first times in her life, she couldn’t read his voice — it was low and dark, rough without being angry, wanting something, but she didn’t know what.
“What can I do,” she breathed. “What can I do, I’m your parabatai, Julian, I need to help you.”
#21 Chapter Three: Nothing That is Ours
The pyres were still burning as the procession turned and headed back toward the city. It was customary for the smoke to rise all night, and for families to gather in Angel Square to mourn among others.
Not that Emma thought it was likely the Blackthorns would do that. They would remain in their house, closeted in with each other: They had been too much apart all their lives to want comfort from other Shadowhunters who they barely knew.
She had trailed away from the rest of the group, too raw to want to try to talk to Julian again in front of his family. Besides, he was holding Tavvy’s hand.
“Emma,” said a voice beside her. She turned and saw Jem Carstairs.
Jem. She was too surprised to speak. Jem had been a Silent Brother once, and though he was a Carstairs, he was a very distant relative, due to being more than a century old. He only looked about twenty-four, though, and was dressed in jeans and scuffed shoes. He wore a white sweater, which she guessed was his concession to Shadowhunter funeral whites.
Jem was no longer a Shadowhunter, though he had been one for many years, and was one of the most famous of the Carstairs family, along with his cousin Cordelia.
“Jem,” she whispered, not wanting to alert anyone else in the procession. “Thanks for coming.”
“I wished you to know how sorry I am,” he said. He looked pale and drawn, but that couldn’t be grief for Livvy, could it? He’d barely known her. “I know you loved Livia like a sister.”
“Can we talk?” she said abruptly. “Just us?”
Gwyn seated himself opposite her, large hands at his sides, his brow creased with concern. His size and bulk somehow made him seem more helpless than he would have otherwise. “I know what happened,” he said. “When death comes in great and unexpected ways, the Wild Hunt knows it. We hear the stories told by spilled blood.”
Diana didn’t know what to say — that death was unfair? That Livvy hadn’t deserved to die that way, or any way? That the broken hearts of the Blackthorns would never be the same? It all seemed trite, a hundred times said and understood already.
Instead, she said, “I think I would like it if you kissed me.”
Gwyn didn’t hesitate. He was beside her in a moment, graceful despite his bulk; he put his arms around her and she was surrounded by warmth and the smell of the forest and horses. She wrinkled her nose slightly and smiled, and he kissed her smiling mouth.
It was a gentle kiss, for all his size. The softness of his mouth contrasted with the scratch of his stubble and the hard musculature under her hands when she put them timidly on his shoulders and stroked.
It had been a long time, and she had never imagined something quite like this: moonlight and flowers and kissing in glades were for other people.
But apparently not.