Blue Lily, Lily Blue Page 32

It was difficult to tear himself away; there was a strange, hideous comfort to wearing the edges off his interior.

With effort, he recalled Cabeswater. He felt along the field of the energy in his mind. Somewhere there would be a fray or dispersion, some ailment he could cure.

There it was. Far down the ley line, the energy was fractured. If he concentrated, he could even see why: A highway had been cut into a mountain, gouging out rock and breaking the natural line of the ley. Now it sputtered unevenly as it leapt across and under the highway. If Adam could realign a few of the charged stones at the top of this mountain, it would cause a chain reaction that would eventually make the line dig underground, beneath the highway, joining the frayed ends again.

He asked, “Why do you want me to do this? Rogo aliquem aliquid.”

He didn’t really expect an answer, but he heard a babble of speech, incomprehensible but for one word: Greywaren.

Ronan, who effortlessly spoke Cabeswater’s language. Not Adam, who struggled.

But not in the Aglionby courtyard. He hadn’t struggled then. There hadn’t been a language. Just him and Cabeswater.

“Not Ronan,” Adam said. “Me. I’m the one who’s doing this for you. Tell me. Show me.”

Images barraged him. Connections darted electric. Veins. Roots. Forked lightning. Tributaries. Branches. Vines snaked around trees, herds of animals, drops of water running together.

I don’t understand.

Fingers twined together. Shoulder leaned on shoulder. Fist bumping fist. Hand dragging Adam up from the dirt.

Cabeswater rifled madly through Adam’s own memories and flashed them through his mind. It hurled images of Gansey, Ronan, Noah, and Blue so fast that Adam couldn’t keep up with all of them.

Then the grid of lightning blasted across the world, an illuminated grid of energy.

Adam still did not understand, and then he did.

There was more than one Cabeswater. Or more of whatever it was.

How many? He didn’t know. How alive was it? He didn’t know that, either. Did it think, was it an alien, did it die, was it good, was it right? He didn’t know. But he knew there was more than one, and this one stretched its fingers out as hard as it could to reach the other.

The enormity of the world grew and grew inside Adam, and he didn’t know if he could hold it. He was just a boy. Was he meant to know this?

They had transformed Henrietta already by waking this ley line and strengthening Cabeswater. What would a world look like with more forests woken all over it? Would it tear itself apart with crackling electricity and magic, or was this a pendulum swing, a result of hundreds of years of sleep?

How many kings slept?

I can’t do this. This is too big. I was not made for this.

Doubt suddenly tore blackly through him. It was a thing, this doubt, it had weight, and body, and legs —

What? Adam thought he said it out loud, but he couldn’t quite remember how doing was different than imagining. He’d wandered too far from his own body.

Again, he felt that doubtful thing reaching at him, speaking to him. It didn’t believe in his power here. It knew he was a pretender.

Adam dragged at words. Are you Cabeswater? Are you Glendower? But words seemed like the wrong medium for this place. Words were for mouths, and he didn’t have one anymore. He stretched through the world; he couldn’t seem to find his way back to the cave. He was in an ocean, sinking, darkly.

He was alone except for this thing, and he thought it hated him, or wanted him, or both. He longed to see it; seeing it would be the worst thing.

Adam flailed in the black. All directions looked the same. Something was crawling on his skin.

He was in a cavern. Crouched. The ceiling was low and the stalactites touched his back. When he reached to touch the wall, it felt real under his fingers. Or like it was real and he wasn’t.


He turned to the voice, and it was a woman he recognized but couldn’t name. He was too far from his thoughts.

Even though he was certain it had been her voice, she didn’t look at him. She was crouched in the cavern beside him, eyebrows knitted in concentration, a fist pressed to her lips. A man knelt adjacent to her, but everything about his folded-over, lanky body suggested that he wasn’t in communication with the woman. They were both motionless as they faced a door set into the stone.

Adam, go

The door told him to touch it. It described the satisfaction of the handle turning beneath his hand. It promised an understanding of the blackness inside him if he pushed it open. It pulsed in him, the hunger, the ascending desire.

He had never wanted anything so badly.

He was in front of it. He didn’t remember crossing the distance, but somehow he had. The door was dark red and carved with roots and knots and crowns. The handle was oily black.

He had come so far from his body that he couldn’t imagine how to even begin going back.

The door needs three to open


Adam crouched motionless, fingers braced against the stone, afraid and desirous.

Somewhere far away, he felt his body getting older.

Adam, go

I can’t, he thought. I’m lost.

“Adam! Adam. Adam Parrish.”

He came to in a fury of pain. His face felt wet; his hand felt wet; his veins felt too full of blood.

Noah’s voice rose. “Why did you cut him so deep!”

“I didn’t measure!” Blue said. “Adam, you jerk, say something.”

Pain made every possible response meaner than it would have been otherwise. Instead, he hissed and rocked himself upright, gripping one hand with the other. His surroundings were slowly representing themselves to him; he’d forgotten that they’d crawled in between these boulders. Noah crouched an inch away, eyes on Adam’s. Blue stood a little bit behind him.

Things were starting to come together. He was very aware of his fingers and mouth and skin and eyes and himself. He couldn’t remember ever being so glad to be Adam Parrish.

His eyes focused on the pink switchblade knife in Blue’s hand.

“You cut me?” he said.

Noah’s shoulders slumped in relief at his voice.

Adam studied his hand. A clean slice marred the back of it. It was bleeding like nobody’s business, but it didn’t hurt badly unless he moved it. The knife must’ve been very sharp.

Noah touched the edge of the wound with his freezing fingers, and Adam slapped him away. He struggled to remember everything the voice had just said, but already it was sliding out of his head like a dream.

Had there even been words? Why did he think there had been words?

“I didn’t know what else to try to get you back,” Blue admitted. “Noah said to cut you.”

He was confused by the switchblade. It seemed to represent a different side of her; a side that he had not thought existed. His brain wearied when he tried to fit it in with the rest of her. “Why did you stop me? What was I doing?”

She said “nothing” at the same time that Noah said “dying.”

“Your face went sort of empty,” she went on. “And then your eyes just … stopped. Blinking? Moving? I tried to get you back.”

“And then you stopped breathing,” Noah said. He slunk to his feet. “I told you. I told you it was a bad idea, and nobody ever listens to me. ‘Oh, we’ll be fine, Noah, you’re such a worrywart’ and next thing you know you’re in some kind of death thrall. Nobody ever says, ‘Noah, you know what you were right thanks for saving my life because being dead would suck.’ They just always —”

“Stop,” Adam interrupted. “I’m trying to remember everything that happened.”

There had been someone important — three — a door — a woman he recognized —

It was fading. Everything except for the terror.

“Next time I’ll let you die,” Blue said. “You forget, Adam, when you’re pulling your special snowflake act, where I grew up. Do you know what the phrase is for when someone helps you during a ritual or a reading? It’s thank you. You shouldn’t have brought us if you wanted to do it alone.”

He remembered this: He had been lost.

Which meant that if he had come alone, he would have been dead now.

“Sorry,” he said. “I was being sort of a dick.”

Noah replied, “We weren’t going to say it.”

“I was,” Blue said.

Then they climbed to the top of the mountain and, as the sun blasted them from above, found the stones Adam had seen in the scrying pool. It took all of their combined strength to shove the rocks just a few bare inches. Adam didn’t know how he would have managed this part without help, either. Possibly he was doing it wrong, and there was a better, more proper magician way.

He left bloody fingerprints on the rock, but there was something satisfying about that.

I was here. I exist. I’m alive, because I bleed.

He hadn’t stopped being thankful for his body. Hello, Adam Parrish’s formerly chapped hands, I’m happy to have you.

They knew the precise moment they’d solved the alignment, because Noah said, “Ah!” and stretched his fingers up to the air. For a few minutes, anyway, he was silhouetted against the livid sky, and there was no difference between him and Blue and Adam. There was nothing to say that he was anything less than fully living.

As the winds buffeted them, Noah slung a comradely arm around Blue’s shoulders and another around Adam’s and pulled them to him. They staggered back toward the trail. Blue’s arm was linked around the back of Noah, and her fingers grabbed Adam’s T-shirt so that they were one creature, a drunken six-legged animal. Adam’s hand was throbbing with the beat of his heart. Probably he was going to bleed to death on the way back down the mountain, but he was okay with that.

Suddenly, with Noah to his side and Blue next to him, three strong, Adam remembered the woman he had seen in the pool.

He knew all at once who she was.

“Blue,” he said. “I saw your mother.”


This is one of my favorite places,” Persephone said, tipping her rocking chair to and fro with her bare feet. Her hair cascaded over the arms. “It’s so homey.”

Adam perched on the edge of the rocking chair beside her. He did not much like the place, but he did not say it. She had asked him to meet her here, and she nearly never made the decision of where to meet; she left it up to him, which always felt like a test.

It was a strange old general store of the sort that had died everywhere else but was not uncommon around Henrietta. The outside usually looked like this one: a sweeping, low porch lined with rocking chairs facing the road, a rutted gravel parking lot, signs for bait and cigarettes in the windows. The inside usually held convenience store foods in brands one had never heard of, T-shirts Adam would not wear, fishing supplies, toys from another decade, and the occasional taxidermied deer head. It was a place that Adam, a hick, found to be populated by people he considered even more hickish.

Gansey would probably like it, though. It was one of those places where time seemed irrelevant, especially on an evening like this: dappled light fuzzing through leaves, starlings calling from the close-strung telephone wires, old men in old trucks driving slowly past, all of it looking like it could have happened twenty years before.

“Three,” Persephone said, “is a very strong number.”

Lessons with Persephone were an unpredictable thing. He never knew, going in, what he was going to learn. Sometimes he still hadn’t figured it, going out.

This evening he wanted to ask her about Maura, but it was hard to ask Persephone a question and get an answer when you wanted it. Usually, it worked best if you asked the question right before she was about to say the answer anyway.

“Like three sleepers?”

“Sure,” Persephone replied. “Or three knights.”

“Are there knights?”

She pointed, drawing his attention to a large crow or raven hopping slowly on the other side of the road. It was hard to say if she thought it was significant or just funny. “There were, once. Also, three Jesuses.”

This took Adam a moment. “Oh, God. You mean God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit?”

Persephone twirled a small hand. “I always forget the names. There’s a three-lady-god, too. One’s named War, I think, and another one’s a baby — I don’t know, I forget the details. The three is the important part.”

He was better at playing these games than he used to be. Better at guessing the connections. “You and Maura and Calla.”

Maybe now was the time to bring it up —

She nodded, or rocked, or both. “It’s a stable number, three. Fives and sevens are good, too, but three is the best. Things are always growing to three or shrinking to three. Best to start there. Two is a terrible number. Two is for rivalry and fighting and murder.”

“Or marriage,” Adam said, thinking.

“Same thing,” Persephone replied. “Here is three dollars. Go inside and get me a cherry cola.”

He did so, trying to think, the entire time, how to ask about using his vision to find Maura. With Persephone, it was possible that that was what they had actually been talking about the entire time.

When he returned, he said, suddenly, “This is the last time, isn’t it?”

She continued rocking, but she nodded. “I thought, at first, that you might replace one of us if something ever happened.”

It took him a long time to make the sentence make sense, and when he finally did, the surprise kept him from answering for another minute longer.


“You’re a very good listener.”

“But I’m — I’m —” He couldn’t think of how to finish the sentence. He finally said, “Leaving.”

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