For a fleeting moment, Adam could imagine it: the brocade curtains in decaying flames, the decorated consorts screaming from beneath the harpsichord, Ronan standing among it all saying fuck Washington.

Gansey said, “Ready for the next round?”


The evening would never end.

But Adam kept watching.

He swallowed his ginger ale. He wasn’t sure it hadn’t actually been champagne, now, all along. The party had become a devil’s feast: will-o’-the-wisps caught in brass hunting lamps, impossibly bright meats presented on ivy-filagreed platters, men in black, women jeweled in green and red. The painted trees of the ceiling bent low overhead. Adam was wired and exhausted, here and somewhere else. Nothing was real but him and Gansey.

Before them was a woman who had just spoken with Gansey’s mother. Everyone who caught Gansey had either just conversed with his mother or just shook her hand or just glimpsed her moving between the dark-clad partygoers. It was an elaborate political play where his mother played a beloved but rare wraith; although everyone recalled seeing her, no one could actually locate her at the moment of recollection.

“You have,” the woman said to Gansey, “grown so much since the last time I’ve seen you. You must be nearly . . .” and at that, at the moment of guessing Gansey’s age, she hesitated. Adam knew that she had sensed that otherness to his friend: that sense that Gansey was both young and old, that he’d only just arrived, or he’d always been.

She was saved by a glance at Adam. Quickly assessing his age, she finished, “Seventeen? Eighteen?”

“Seventeen, ma’am,” Gansey said warmly. And he was, as soon as he’d said it. Of course he was seventeen, and nothing else. Something like relief passed over the woman’s face.

Adam felt the press of the candied tree branches overhead; to his right, he caught a half-image of himself in a gold-framed mirror and startled. For a moment, his reflection had seemed wrong.

It was happening. No, no, it’s not happening. Not here, not now.

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A second glance revealed a clearer image. Nothing strange. Yet.

“Did I read in the paper that you’re still looking for those crown jewels?” the woman asked Gansey.

“Oh, I’m looking for an actual king,” Gansey said, speaking loudly to be heard over the violin (there were three of them, actually; the last man had informed him that they were students from Peabody). The strings wavered as if the sound came from underwater. “A Welsh king from the fifteenth century.”

The woman laughed delightedly. She’d misheard Gansey and thought he’d made a joke. Gansey laughed, too, as if he had, and any awkwardness that might have arisen was swiftly averted.

Adam made a note of that.

And now, finally, there was Mrs. Gansey, looming at the corner of his vision like a materialized dream. Like Gansey himself, she was intrinsically beautiful in the way that only someone who has always had money can be. It seemed right that an entire party should be thrown in her honor. She was a worthy queen for the evening.

“Gloria,” Mrs. Gansey said to the woman. “I love that necklace. You of course remember my son, Dick?”

“Of course,” Gloria said. “He is so very tall. You must be off to college soon?”

Both women turned for his answer. Violins shrilled up the scale.

“Well, it—” And then, all at once, Gansey faltered. It was not quite a full stop. Just a failure to slide smoothly from moment to moment. There was only time enough for Adam to see the gap, and then Gansey said, “I’m sorry, I thought I saw someone.”

Adam caught his eye. There was a question there, unspoken. Gansey’s return gaze was complicated; no, he was not all right, but no, there was nothing Adam could do about it. Adam had a brief, ferocious joy, that they could get to Gansey as well. How he hated them.

“Oh, I do see someone. I must leave you,” Gansey said, impeccably polite. “I’m sorry. But I’ll leave you with— Mrs. Elgin, this is my friend Adam Parrish. He has interesting thoughts about travelers’ rights. Have you thought about travelers’ rights lately?”

Adam tried to remember the last time he and Gansey had spoken about travelers’ rights. He was pretty sure the entire discussion had taken place over a lukewarm pizza and had had something to do with the body scanners microwaving the brain cells of frequent flyers. But now that he’d seen Gansey at work, he knew Gansey would spool that out into a political epidemic solvable by his mother.

“I haven’t,” Gloria Elgin replied, dazzled by Gansey’s Ganseyness. “We usually take Ben’s Cessna these days. But I would like to hear about it.”

When she turned to Adam, Gansey vanished into the crowd.

For a moment, Adam said nothing. He was not Gansey, he did not dazzle, he was a pretender with a flute of false champagne in his slender hand made from dust. He looked at Mrs. Elgin. She looked back at him through her eyelashes.

With a jolt, he realized that he intimidated her. Standing there in his impervious suit with its red-knotted tie, young and straight-shouldered and clean, he had pulled off whatever strange alchemy Gansey performed. For perhaps the first time in his life, someone was looking at him and seeing power.

He tried to conjure up the magic he’d already seen Gansey do this evening. His mind swam with the noise of this glittering company, the shimmer in the bottom of his champagne glass, the knowledge that this was the future, if he speared it.

he was in a forest, whispers pursued him

Not here

He said, “Can I refill your drink first?”

Mrs. Elgin’s face melted with pleasure as she offered up her glass.

Don’t you know? Adam wondered. He, at least, could still smell diesel fuel on his hands. Don’t you know what I am?

But this flock of peacocks was too busy fooling to notice they were being fooled.

Adam couldn’t remember why he was here. He was dissolving in a hallucination of ghostly guests alongside the real ones.

Because this is Aglionby, he thought, desperately trying to ground himself. This is what happens to Aglionby in the real world. This is how you use that education you’ve worked so hard for. This is how you get out.

Suddenly, an electric buzz groaned through the room. The lights dipped and crackled. The clinking of glasses paused as the lamps swelled once more.

And then the lights went out entirely.

Was this real?

Not now

The sun had set, and the interior of the house was close and dark brown around the guests. The windows were unfocused squares of gray street light. Scents seemed strangely pronounced: lilac and carpet cleaner, cinnamon and mold. The room was full of the wordless shuffle of a stockyard.

And in that brief pause in the conversation, in that shocked silence filled with neither the hum of voices nor of electronics, a high song floated through the dark. A precise, archaic melody, sung by a chorus of women’s voices. Pure and thin, spreading from a thread of sound to a river of one. It took only a moment for Adam to realize that the words were not in English:

Rex Corvus, parate Regis Corvi.

Adam felt charged from his feet to his fingertips.

Somewhere in this darkness, Gansey was hearing this, too. Adam could sense him hearing it. These voices were true in a way that nothing else had been that day. Adam remembered all at once what it felt like to feel, to be real, to be Adam, instead of my friend, Adam Parrish, give him your card. He couldn’t believe what a huge difference there was between those two things.

The lights surged back on. Conversation collapsed back into place.

Some part of Adam was still lodged back there in the dark.

“Was that Spanish?” Gloria Elgin asked, her hand pressed to her throat. Adam could see the line of her makeup on her jaw.

“Latin,” Adam said, trying to find Gansey’s face in the crowd. His pulse still galloped. “It was Latin.”

The Raven King, make way for the Raven King.

“What a funny thing,” said Gloria Elgin.

Owen Glendower was the Raven King. There were so many stories of Glendower knowing the language of birds. So many stories of ravens whispering secrets to him.

“Probably a brown out,” Adam replied. The business cards in his pocket felt irrelevant. He was still searching for the only pair of eyes in the room that mattered. Where was Gansey? “Everyone’s air-conditioning on at the same time.”

“That’s probably true,” Gloria Elgin said, comforted.

The conversation around them muttered, Peabody kids have a funny sense of humor! I’ll have another of those shrimp things. What were you saying? What did you do when the marble was cracked?

There, across the room, was Gansey. His gaze seized Adam’s and held it. Even though the lights were back on, the voices long dissipated, Adam could still sense the power of the newly wakened ley line surging beneath him, all the way back to Henrietta. This glittering host had already moved on, but not Adam. Not Gansey. They were the only two living things in this room. They were creatures electric.

Do you see? Adam felt like shouting. This is why I made the sacrifice.

This was how he would find Glendower.


The inside of the old Camaro smelled like asphalt and desire, gasoline and dreams. Ronan sat behind the wheel, eyes on the midnight street. Streetlights fenced the asphalt, slashing reflections over the atomic orange hood. On either side of the road, the barren lots of car dealerships sprawled, eerie and silent.

He was as hungry as the night.

The color of the dash turned green-yellow-red under the traffic light above. In the cracked passenger-side mirror, Noah appeared anxious. He checked over his shoulder for cops. Ronan checked his teeth.

“Nice to see you, Noah,” he said. He could feel every pump of his heart, every surge through his veins. “Been a while.”

I did this, Ronan thought. The keys trembled against one another in the ignition. I made this happen.

Kavinsky was late, as always. Time, as he liked to say, was money, and though he had plenty of both, he enjoyed the thieving nonetheless.

“I’ve been trying,” Noah said. He added: “I don’t want to watch you die.”

Without answering, Ronan rubbed a thumb over the worn numbers on the gearshift. The engine pounded his shoes through the pedals. If anything about the Camaro had been built for comfort, those features had been worn away by forty years of use. The small of his back was sticky against the cracked vinyl seat. The clock didn’t work, but the tachometer did. The reluctant sigh of air through the vents was feeble, but the crash of the pistons was anything but. The engine was the loudest concert in the world, slowly thrashing itself to pieces under the hood. The speedometer was numbered all the way up to 140. That was insanity. The car felt dangerous, and it felt fast.

“I’ll get Gansey,” Noah threatened.

“I don’t think you can.”

“How long till Kavinsky gets here?”

“Noah,” Ronan said tenderly, placing his palm on top of Noah’s cold, seven-years-dead hand, “you’re starting to piss me off.”

Headlights sliced across the rearview mirror. Seventeen minutes after he was due, Kavinsky arrived.

In the rearview mirror, Ronan watched a white Mitsubishi slow as it pulled up. Its black mouth yawned; the gritty knife on the side was identical to Kavinsky’s previous car.

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