All of a sudden the darkness gave way to light, lots of it. A large circular area was lit up by strings of light. Popup stores spiraled their way around to what must be a center point. “This looks cool.” Ali nodded enthusiastically. “Way too cool to belong in, Dallas.” Christian pulled her towards the closest booth. A woman with purple skin and bright green eyes was selling rings. When she saw the two approach she smiled. “What can I do for y’all today?”
Christian pointed at the rings. “I’ve been in the market for a new ring. What are these made of?” The woman clapped her hands together. “It’s so rare someone like you comes here for a ring.” Christian looked down at his store bought slacks and button up and sighed. “This was a last minute attempt at a wardrobe choice. Don’t rub it in.” The woman looked at him sympathetically and started pulling ring options.
Christian saw an onyx ring with a tiny bull skull on it. His eyes got large. “Is that ring onyx?” The woman shook her head. “It’s a bull bone carved and dyed black with demon blood. It’s for protection.” Ali snickered when she heard Demon blood. The woman glared at her. “How much is it?” The woman looked at him up and down. “It’s worth more then you can afford.” Christian looked down dejected.
Ali glared at the woman. “You must be able to strike a deal.” The woman turned to Ali and smiled. “I can offer a trade.” Christian looked at Ali. “What do we have that you want?” The woman pulled out a cloth and a needle. “I always accept blood.” Christian looked at her mortified.
“Ali, it’s fine I don’t need the ring.” Ali glared at him. It was obvious he wanted the ring. She stuck her hand out. “Fine. Prick my finger.” The woman’s smile shifted. There was something creepy about it. She was about to prick her finger when a man called out stop. He was tall, but not as tall as Christian. What stood out about him was his attire. The man looked like he stepped out of the Victorian Era.
“Augustine.” The woman said and bowed slightly. He smiled and pulled out a velvet purse. The purse was dropped on the counter and the bull ring was put in Christian’s hands. “Don’t let Lisa fool you. Blood is worth far more then that little trinket of hers.” Christian looked up at the man enthralled. Ali could see his heart leaping from his chest. She stepped in front of him.
“Thank you. My friend really wanted the ring.” The man tipped his hat and winked at Christian. “A man should do what he can for new guests to the market. Especially when they are attractive as you two.” Ali shuddered. This man was greasy. Christian on the other hand fell for it hook line and sinker. “Have you been here before?” He asked the man.
The man smiled and spread his arms wide. “I am the person who runs this establishment.” Christian’s mouth dropped open. It was like he hit the information jackpot. “So then you know all the best stands!” The man chuckled, it made his eyes look like they were squinting. She wondered if there was Asian to him.
“I do, indeed. What are you looking for?” Christian launched into an explanation of his dream wardrobe for himself and Ali. The old man patiently nodded and listened. Ali on the other hand looked around her. Everyone seemed overly aware of the man they were with. Which made Ali become super alert. She did not like all this attention or the reasons why people gain attention.
Then she noticed a little boy pick pocket a string of necklaces, as an older boy was talking to the sales woman. Ali saw the boy turn to go and she sprinted to grab his arm. He looked up at her shocked. “Return the Jewelry.” The boy looked at her in panic. The older boy turned around and grabbed her shoulder. “Let go of Jason.”
Ali stepped on his toes and elbowed him in the stomach. The boy made a sound and let go of her shoulder. Jason’s eyes got real big. “Give back the jewelry.” She reached down to take the necklaces from him. He just shook his head. She felt a hand on her should again. She turned around to see the boy. He was tall, hair as dark as midnight and smirk so annoying it screamed at Ali to punch its teeth out.
“I will give you two seconds to let go of my shoulder.” The boys anger turned into intrigue. “You are going to make me?” Ali smiled and then punched him. To her surprise he blocked it. However, to his surprise her arm ran up his like a snake, her foot sliding forward and her body easily finding the nook to throw him on his back. He hit the ground hard.
He was staring up at her in shock. “Don’t touch me.” She saw Christian and the man running towards her. She turned to Jason. “Give her back the necklaces.” The boy frowned, but threw them at the lady. He messed up her whole display and then ran away. The boy on the floor sat up, calling out to him.
He got up and glared at Ali. “Jason’s only a boy. You didn’t need to freak him out.” Ali looked at him again. This time he noticed the man was someone most people would find attractive. “Stealing is stealing. This is Texas. You don’t steal and get treated softly.” The boy glared at her. “A mundane like you should stay out of The Shadow Markets business.” Ali’s mouth dropped open. “What did you just call me?” The boy looked at her like she was dumb. “M-u-n-d-a-n-e-. Mundane. Don’t you understand? Or are all mortals just idiots.”
Ali kicked him in the shin and he howled. “Ali!” stammered Christian. She glared at him. “Don’t you dare take his side Christian.” Christian frowned. “You beat him up, Ali.” The boy grabbed Christian by the collar. “Don’t you dare say that again horse boy.” Ali’s anger rose to ten. No one touched Christian. She grabbed his arm. “Let him go.”
Augustine started to panic. “Now-now, children. Why don’t we go calm down over some ice cream.” Everyone turned to look at him and he shrugged. “Let him go.” The boy looked at her and smirked. “Or what. You mundanes can’t do anything.” That was the final straw. Ali kicked him in the stomach and he fell backwards into the stand. Augustine let out a shriek. The stand collapsed around him and she jumped. What happened next would be one of the biggest embarrassments that she could never let down.
The whole market went to a standstill as they watched her roll around the ground with the boy. He would pin her on the ground and her legs would come up and turn him over. Once on top she would keep him in a hold that he magically got out of and the loop would start again. After a few minutes Christian came in and pulled her up. She was panting and sweaty. Her braid had fallen out and her dress had dirt on it.
“Enough, Ali.” She looked up at Christian. Feelings of betrayal running through her. Before she could respond an explosion suddenly went off on the other end of the market. Ali and Christian saw four large blobs of goo screaming. Two boys jumped at them with glowing white knives. She stood transfixed. It was beautiful. Not the screaming purple blob, of course, but the way they moved. They were so graceful. It was like watching a cheetah documentary on the nature channel. The way they moved with such a quick purpose.
She felt a hand grab her wrist and pull her back towards another smaller alley. The blonde haired boy locked eyes with her and smiled. The sight of him dripping in purple goo made her shudder. Who was this boy. He quickly disappeared into the darkness, replaced by a candlelit room.
“Ali. What are you doing!” Christians voice snapped her back into reality. She saw him standing by Augustine. She didn’t like that the man’s hand was around his shoulders. Then she noticed the boy was the one who pulled her back. His long fingers still wrapped around her small wrists. She looked at him and he let go.
“Why did you pull us away.” He looked at her confused. “I thought you wouldn’t want the Shadow Hunters to see you.” Christian walked up and hugged Ali. She could feel him trembling. It must have looked odd seeing a muscular man almost twice her height bend down to hug her. She didn’t care. It was her job to calm him down.
“Look. I don’t know what Shadow Hunters are but they have nothing to do with us. We just wanted to see the shops.” The boy looked at her in shock and then at Augustine. “Augustine, I don’t think they know. ” Augustine eyes grew big with shock. His hands lit up orange and a book from the wall flew over. Christian began to fiddle with his longhorn belt buckle.
Ali however didn’t have time to worry about the mans hands suddenly glowing. What mattered was finding an exit for Christian, if needed. He read a few pages and then looked at them. “What are your last names?” Christian looked at Ali. Of course she had to make the decisions. “Blackthorn and Cornelius.” The boys eyes grew large. “Did you say Blackthorn.” The girl looked at him like he was the one really stupid. “B-l-a-c-k-t-h-o-r-n. Blackthorn. Can you understand that?” He smiled like she wasn’t just insulting him.
He looked at Augustine. “I think this is Ruth Blackthorn’s daughter.” The man walked up to her and waved his hands around her. She wanted to crack up laughing. Christian’s face when the orange light enveloped her stopped her from laughing. No time for laughing when Christian is scared.
“Whether she is Ruth’s daughter or not, she is a Shadow Hunter.” The boys eyes narrowed. “And the boy?” Augustine moved the orange light over to Christian. He panicked and Ali put his hand on him. The man’s eyes lit up. “It’s weaker but it feels like Nephilim.” The man sighed and collapsed on a cow hide covered couch. “Life’s never easy.”
Ali looked at him like he was insane. “You just pulled us into an unknown room and you think I’m gonna tell you something personal.” Augustine laughed. “You know you did cause quite a mess in my marketplace.” She shrugged. “It’s not my fault you have thieves.” Demyon turned to look at her. She could tell now he got mad about the subject of kids. “Jason was getting revenge for a bad deal. I had warned Augustine previously.”
Ali turned to look at the awkward man in a top hat. “You saw him.” Augustine was just looking at Christian. “Yea. It is of no consequence for me.” Christian smiled shyly when the man looked at him. It bothered Ali immensely. Demyon watched her and grew irritated that she cared more for the fag then his questions. He snapped his fingers and she fell on his lap. He wrapped his arms around her. “How about answering my questions now?”
Everyone stared at him in disbelief. Christian glared at him. “Let go of Ali.” Demyon smiled. “Why? By the looks of it you are more interested in Augustine.” Christian’s face turned red. “That’s not the point.” He stammered. Ali struggled to get out from his control, to no avail. “Let go of me asshole.” He laughed. “You make me very tempted to head towards a different method of questioning.” Augustine groaned. “Get a room.” He winked at the older man. “You just want me to leave you two alone in this one.”
A door opened to the left and two gentlemen strolled in. Shock on their faces. The taller of the two whistled. “Demyon finally brought a girl home.” The other one shook his head. “It’s a conspiracy.” Augustine nodded in agreement. “He stumbled on a lost Blackthorn.” Now, their faces lit up in surprise. “I don’t see any runes on her.” Said the taller one.
The shorter one leaned forward. “I think that’s Ruth’s kid.” The taller one walked forward and looked at her face. “I only saw Ruth’s kid once and through scrying water but the the eyes seem similar. ” The shorter one walked up and looked at her face. “It could be.they have Ruth’s roundness, but her eye shape wasn’t particularly unique.”
Demyon grabbed her face and turned her head to his. He saw that she was uncomfortable and he winked. That was enough. She flung her head back and hit him hard. His hands flew up to her face and she jumped up, back kicking him in the stomach. “Don’t touch me again.” The two men behind him whistled.
Demyon stood up annoyed. Holding his nose. “You insufferable Nephilim stop doing that.” She walked over to Christian and grabbed his hand. “We are going.” The two men stepped in front of her. “I am afraid you can’t go.” She glared. Demyon sighed. “We have a dilemma. Some very scary people are going to want you two. Mostly you Ali.” She turned to him. “Or you can shut your mouth and we will leave.”
Demyon stood up. “You’re telling me you aren’t curious about your mother. “ Her hand on Christian loosened. Christian looked at her sadly. “Ali maybe it’s worth staying.” She looked at her shy friend. If he was willing to risk staying then she should stay. “ My mother’s name was Eve. She was born in Germany. She met my father on a volunteer trip in France. He was working as a freelancer around the town. Whatever a Shadow Hunter is, she was not one.”
They looked at each other. “It’s a convenient story.” Demyon got up and walked over to his bookshelf. He opened up one of the books and smiled at picture. “I owe a great debt to Ruth. Every Downworlder here in Dallas does.” The other men walked over and put their hands on his shoulder. There was a weird energy between the three that made her uncomfortable. The way the taller one looked at her made her skin crawl. It was like their was a full course meal in place of where she was standing.
“It’s your job to bring her to the Institute. The Blackthorns and the Herondales have quite a stake in finding her.” Said Augustine. Demyon looked up from his book and straight at Ali. Their was so much sadness in his eyes. “You could always bring her to Amalia and Grace.” Suggested the shorter one. The taller one frowned. Ali noticed nothing moved or wrinkled on his face. She wondered if they created magical botox.
Demyon walked back towards Ali and Christian. She saw him hand her a book. The left page had a beautiful hand painted image of her mother. She was looking down at her hands. They were holding a bouquet of wheat, corn and dried brush flowers. The thorns were wrapped around her hands. Behind her was a dying forest, a shadow of man so small in the very corner of the painting. Underneath it she saw the name Evelyn Awan Blackthorn. The right page was written in a language she couldn’t read.
Not that mattered though. It was her mother in the painting. Her shiny blonde hair that no artist could replicate. Her round green-gold eyes. Most of all that feeling you get when someone shows you an image of an Angel. This was her mother. The Angel that returned way too quickly to G-d.
Ali handed the book back to Demyon. “Tell me about my mother.” He sighed and walked over to the door the two older men had just come from. “I’m just a Downworlder. Their is someone else you should meet.” He opened the door and Augustine and the two men follow him through it. She stepped forward, but Christian held her back.
“Ali, Your Dad doesn’t talk about her for a reason. Maybe… maybe something bad happened to her. Something we couldn’t fathom.” She hugged Christian. “No matter what happens, C, I will keep you safe. In order to do that I have to stay in control.” Christian, uncharacteristic to himself, squeezed her tight as if to comfort her. “That’s what I am worried about. What happens when your cap comes off.” She sighed and took his hand. “Let’s go, C.” They walked from the strange cow hide covered living room through the door.