Blue Lily, Lily Blue Page 39


They all stopped to watch it.

Piper’s gaze followed it all the way to the door, and to the handle, and her bubble-gum pink lips parted.

Then Artemus used his tied hands to swing the ghost light at her hands.

It careened into the gun, colliding with an unremarkable snick sound. The ghost light went dark, and they all stood in the perfect blackness of the cave.

No one moved, or if they did, they were soundless. No one except Piper knew if she was still holding the gun to Maura’s head.

There was silence except for the chitinous rattle of stones from the ceiling. The worst sound was one that came from above or around the cavern: a sort of creaking roar as rocks moved in a cavern above them. From closer by there was a groan, which Blue thought was Morris.

She felt oddly breathless, like the cave was running out of air. She knew what the feeling really was: panic.

Then everyone began to move.

It started with a shuffling sound from the direction of either Piper or Artemus or Maura, and then maybe the Gray Man, and it became so jumbled it was impossible to tell who was who. Blue snapped away her switchblade, because the odds were good that she’d stab someone she didn’t want to stab, and began feeling around the floor for the dropped flashlight. Maybe the top just needed to be screwed on again for it to work once more.

Maura’s voice suddenly said, “Don’t open that door! Don’t open it!”

Blue couldn’t even tell where the door was now. There was shuffling in every direction.

But she could also hear the third sleeper now. It was as if its collective whispers in everyone else’s head had become so loud that they spilled into the cavern itself. It didn’t tug on Blue, but it billowed through the darkness and condensed on her arms. Dripping down her fingers.

Blue thought she knew how the mirror lake had come to be now.

“Stop her!”

It was impossible to tell whose voice it was. Somewhere close by, she heard someone’s breathing getting faster.

Her fingers closed over the flashlight. Come on, come on —

Suddenly, there was a thud and a half shout.

The flashlight came on in time to illuminate Piper curled in front of the red door, clutching the back of her head.

“Come on,” Mr. Gray said. He dropped a very bloody rock to the ground. “At once.”

Rocks were showering down now, bigger than before.

“We’re getting out of here. Right now,” the Gray Man said, brisk and efficient. He turned his head to Artemus. “You. You’re bleeding. Let me see? Oh, you’re fine. Blue? You’re all right?”

Blue nodded.

“And Maura?” the Gray Man turned to her. She had an ugly scratch on her jaw and she looked studiously at the ground, arms tied behind her. He gently lifted her dirty bangs from her forehead to examine her face.

“We need to get her away from the door,” Blue said. “What about … the others?”

She meant Piper and Morris. Both of them were on the ground. Blue didn’t want to think too hard about it.

There was no kindness on Mr. Gray’s face. “Unless you have hidden reserves of strength you didn’t display on the way down, we cannot carry her and Maura, and I know which one I prefer. We need to go.”

As if to confirm, the tunnel Blue had entered by collapsed in a hail of stones and dirt.

They seized hands. With Blue and the flashlight leading the way, they climbed back into the small hole at the top of the cavern. Blue crawled up it a few yards and then waited, counting bodies as they climbed up.

One (Artemus), two (Maura), and three (the Gray Man), four —


Piper, nearly unrecognizable behind all of the dirt, appeared in the tunnel opening. She had not climbed in, but she was framed in the opening. In one shaking hand was the gun.

“You —” she said, and stopped, as if she couldn’t imagine what to say next.

“Just go!” shouted the Gray Man. “Go, Blue, fast, take the light away!”

Blue scurried up the tunnel.

Behind her, a shot exploded again. But none of the tunnel was disturbed.

“Keep going!” the Gray Man’s voice called. “It’s okay!”

Then there was half a high-pitched shout, too throaty for a scream, and an explosion of sound as the cavern collapsed behind them.

Blue wanted to stop hearing that cry. She didn’t care that it was someone who had just been trying to kill her mother. She couldn’t make herself feel like that made it better.

But she couldn’t, so she just kept climbing and leading them out of the cave.

It was dark outside when they emerged, but nothing could ever be as dark as that cavern by the red door. Nothing could ever smell as wonderful as the grass and the trees and even the asphalt of a nearby highway.

The entrance here was just a jagged hole in the side of a hill; it was impossible to tell where they were except out. Artemus woozily leaned against the hillside, touching his wound gingerly.

Blue untied her mother; Maura threw her arms around Blue’s neck and crushed her to her.

“I’m so sorry,” she said after a few minutes. “I’m so so so sorry. I’m going to buy you a car and make your bedroom bigger and all we’ll ever eat is yogurt and …”

She trailed off, and finally they released each other.

The Gray Man stood by her elbow, and when she turned, she made a face, and then she touched his stubbled cheek.

“Mr. Gray,” she said.

He just nodded. He traced one of her eyebrows with his finger in an efficient, competent, in-love kind of way, and then he looked to Blue.

She said, “Let’s go find the others.”


Adam Parrish was awake.

The opposite of awake was supposed to be asleep, but Adam had spent much of the last two years of his life being both at once, or neither. In retrospect, he wasn’t sure he had known what awake really felt like until now.

He sat in the backseat of the Camaro with Ronan and Blue, watching the D.C. streetlights go by, feeling the pulse of the ley line ebb the farther away he got from Henrietta. A week had passed since they emerged from the valley of bones, and things were returning to normal.

No, not normal.

There was no normal.

Maura was back at 300 Fox Way, but Persephone was not. The boys were back at school, but Greenmantle wasn’t. Jesse Dittley’s death dominated the newspapers. One of the articles had noted that the valley was beginning to look like a dangerous place to live: Niall Lynch, Joseph Kavinsky, Jesse Dittley, Persephone Poldma.

Everyone had been surprised to discover Persephone had a last name.

“Was it everything you expected?” Gansey asked Malory.

Malory and the Dog looked up from their boarding passes. “More. Much more. Too much. No offense meant to you and your company, Gansey, but I shall be very relieved to go back to my drowsy ley line for a while.”

Adam worked a scab off his hand; the smallest of the scratches he’d gotten from sliding down into the pit of ravens and then climbing back out. The most lasting wound was invisible but persistent: The knowledge of Persephone’s death hummed constantly through Adam like the pulse of the ley line.

She had told him that there were three sleepers. One to wake, one to not wake. One in between. The others thought that Gwenllian was the one in between, but that didn’t really make sense, because she’d never been asleep.

So he didn’t know if it was true or not, but he sort of liked to believe that the third sleeper had been him.

“You must come visit me,” Malory said. “You can see the tapestry. We will mince along the old tracks for nostalgia’s sake. The Dog would like it if Jane came as well.”

“I’d like that,” Gansey said politely. Like he would, but it wouldn’t happen. Malory probably couldn’t hear it, but Adam could. He would stay here, searching for Glendower and his favor.

The night before, Adam had restlessly started one of his old tricks to get to sleep: rehearsing the various wordings of the favor, trying to hit upon the right one, the one that wouldn’t squander the opportunity, the one that would fix everything that was wrong. Only he discovered that he couldn’t quite invest himself in the game. He didn’t so much care about asking for success; he was going to survive Aglionby, he thought, and he figured it was quite probable that he’d get a scholarship to at least one place he wanted to go. And he used to think he needed to use it to ask to be free of Cabeswater, but now it seemed like a strange thing to ask for. Like asking to be freed from Gansey or Ronan.

Then he realized the only thing he needed the favor for was to save Gansey’s life.

“Here we are,” Malory said, eyes on the airport terminal. The Dog wagged his tail for the first time. “Tell your mother good luck with her election. American politics! More dangerous than a ley line.”

“I’ll let her know,” Gansey said.

“Don’t you go into politics,” Malory said sternly as they pulled up on the curb.


He still sounded anxious to Adam, even though there was nothing inherently anxious about the conversation. It was time to find Glendower. They all knew it.

Gansey stepped on the parking brake and said, “Once I send the professor off, one of you guys can get into the front. Adam? Unless he’s sleeping.”

“No,” Adam said. “I’m awake.”


It wasn’t that Piper had been unconscious for hours. In action movies of the sort Colin had always hated and she had always loved, heroes were always knocking out henchmen instead of shooting them. It’s how you could tell they were the hero. Villains shot minions; heroes knocked them out with a punch to the head. Then, a few hours later, they came to and went about their lives. Piper had read a blog post pointing out that this wasn’t really possible, however, because if you were unconscious for longer than a minute or two, it was because you had brain damage. And the post was written by a doctor, or someone who said they used to be a doctor, or someone married to a medical professional, so Piper thought it was probably true. Truer than those action movies, anyway.

As she lay there in the cave, she thought about all the brain-damaged thugs in Hollywood, spared by dashing heroes who thought it would be kinder than killing them.

She was not really unconscious for hours, but she did stay down on the ground for hours, or days. She swam in and out of sleep. Every so often she heard another moan from in the cave. Morris, maybe, or just her own voice. Sometimes she cracked her eyes and thought that it was time to get up, probably, but then it seemed like too much work, so she stayed down.

Finally, though, she stopped hitting the cavern’s snooze button and got herself together. This was ridiculous. She sat up, head throbbing, and let her eyes adjust. She wasn’t sure exactly where the light was coming from. There was rubble and water all around her. She remembered suddenly that Colin had buggered off, leaving her to die in this cave that had been his idea in the first place. Typical. He was always off doing things for himself and pretending it was for both of them.

Suddenly, she realized where the light was coming from: a lantern, an old-fashioned kind, like a miner’s lamp. And there were hands folded together on the other side of it. Plump, pretty hands. Attached to arms. Attached to a body. It was a woman. She was looking at Piper with an unwaving and unblinking gaze.

“Are you real?” Piper asked.

The woman gave a serene nod. Piper didn’t take the nod as a guarantee of realness, though. This didn’t seem like the sort of place random women would appear.

“Are you paralyzed?” the woman asked kindly.

“No,” Piper said. Then she paused. “Yes. No.”

One of her legs was not obeying her, but that didn’t count as paralysis. She thought it was probably broken. She was starting to feel not great about the situation.

“We can fix that,” the woman said. “If we wake it up.”

They both looked at the tomb door.

“If we wake him, he will give us a favor,” the woman added. “There are three of us, but just barely. Not for long.”

She gestured vaguely in the direction of Morris’s moaning.

Piper, who was interested in her own well-being above all others, was instantly suspicious. “Why didn’t you just wake him yourself, then?”

“It would be lonely to be a queen alone,” the woman said. “It would’ve been better with three, but two will have to do. Two is less stable than three, but better than one.”

Piper was supremely disinterested in magic math. Now that she was beginning to think about it, her leg really hurt. It also was leaking. She was getting angry about everything here. “Okay, fine. Fine.”

The woman lifted the lamp and helped Piper struggle to her feet. Piper said a word that usually made her feel better, but didn’t in this case. At least she now believed the other woman was real; she was squashing Piper’s rib cage in her effort to help her stand. “Who are you, anyway?”

“My name is Neeve.”

As they hobbled to the door, Piper observed, “That’s a kind of stupid name.”

“So,” replied Neeve mildly, “is Piper.”

In the end, there was not really any ceremony. They just both put their hands on the door and pushed. It didn’t feel magical; it just felt like a chunk of wood.

The tomb was already light inside. It was a similar amount of light as the lantern Neeve had at her feet. It was, in fact, the exact same amount of light, mirrored back at them.

The two of them staggered in. There was a raised coffin, the lid already ajar.

The sleeper wasn’t human. Piper wasn’t sure why she’d expected it would be. Instead, it was small, and black, and shiny, with more legs than she’d expected. It was powerful.

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