Ali slowly opened her eyes. She was in a large banquet hall. The light shining in the room was from either stained glass windows or the open veranda doors. A faint breeze tickled her skin and made the room smell like Desert Willow, Flame Acanthus and Red Yucca. The little chips in the background confirming to her that the room was besides a garden made to attract Hummingbirds.
“Are you alright?” Said a voice to her left. She turned her head to see JC. He was sitting on a cow hide stool. His face was filled with worry. Ali went to sit up and immediately, But found herself dizzy and vomiting. A bucket magically appearing below her. She felt a hand patting her back and she turned to her right. There besides her was Will. His dirty blonde hair a mess of knots. Ali pushed the bucket away from her mouth, taking deep breaths.
“Where is Christian?” She asked as soon as she was done. The two boys looked at each other and smiled in relief. “He is in the kitchen with everyone else.” The kitchen! Ali stood up quickly, pushing past Will to head towards the door. Ignoring them as she passed each little cot on the way out. When she got out of the door she gasped. It was like she was inside a large Spanish Cathedral. She felt a hand on each of her shoulders as JC and Will appeared besides her. When they saw her face they smiled.
JC moved his hand from her shoulder down to her hand and pulled her down the left hall. They passed halls of paintings and statues, large balconies and small sitting areas. When they came to a pair of large rounded doors he stopped. “The Dallas Institute is known for its kitchen, don’t faint again.” Will caught him in a headlock, and started rubbing his head. “That’s why you made us come here. Isn’t it, Glutton.”
Ali sighed and pushed open the doors. The kitchen was indeed an amazing sight. The room was as large as her entire house, half of it indoors the other half spilling out into an outdoors veranda. A large group of people scattered about a giant kitchen island and a large medieval table. Christian was the first to turn to greet her, half a mutton thigh sticking out of his mouth. “Ali! You are awake.” She nodded slowly and counted the people in the room. It always calmed down her social anxiety.
She first counted the Three Lost Boys, then the two lesbians, then the one love interest, then there was the two friends walking out from behind her and lastly there was one man standing at the kitchen island in shock. That was eight people she had to deal with. Ali could do eight. Christian hopped from his stool and ran over to her, grabbing her hands and leading her straight into the people. The strange man dropped a kitchen pan as she got closer. Christian turned to him and smiled.
“Ali, this is your uncle, Anthony Blackthorn. The head of the Dallas Institute.” She looked the man up and down. He didn’t have her mother’s blonde hair, instead it was a light brown. She could make out hints of grey in his beard. While her mother’s eyes were a startling hazel, this man had deep blue eyes with a rim of an almost white blue. Her mother was the forest to his ocean. What they did have in common was the demeanor they had. Both were reserved and confident. They knew their beauty and didn’t seek to say anything more about it.
The man walked around the counter towards her and pulled her into a hug. Ali looked at Christian in panic, but he didn’t move to help her. She felt tears on her neck and shoulder. He was crying. When he looked up at her she felt uncomfortable. No one looked at her with that much trust. “You look like your mother.” He finally said. P’or laughed. “Doesn’t act like Evelyn.” Anthony turned to P’or to glare. He was already upset with someone making a joke about her. A sign that everything was moving too fast for her.
Christian patted the free stool besides him, there was more cow hide. “Sit. Grab a plate. Your uncle made us all Shakshuka.” Ali, sat next to Christian, waiting for someone to direct her to do something else. Instead, everyone just chowed down on their food. JC and Will running around the kitchen island to grab a plate. She noticed P’or didn’t have any food, just a flask he drank from. As everyone ate, Ali could feel the wind blowing from the dry brush outside. The sun hitting their backs.
“So, Christian tells me you are still in high school?” Said Anthony, breaking the silence. Ali could see everyone peak up from their plates. Why did everything have to be emotional. It could of just been a nice quiet breakfast. Her father was just taken by a magical faerie hunter. “Christian and I are in our last year.” She replied to her plate. Whispers went around the table. Everyone seemed to have a stake in this conversation.
Her uncle nodded his head. Anthony Blackthorn seemed to be able to get lost in his thoughts easily. It reminded her of herself. The way his eyes clouded over was exactly the same as hers. “She got into Vanderbilt and Yale.” piped in Christian. The daze left her uncle’s eyes. A smile appearing on his face. “That’s a good mundane school right!” Christian laughed and nodded his head. “Two of the best.” Ali reached out for his hand, squeezing it. “Christian is being nice. He got into MIT.”
Everyone heard Augustine’s fork drop. Kazimer all of sudden falling out of his chair laughing. “He thinks your perfect, little Christian.” Augustine’s face went red. “Kazimer!” P’or bent down to pick up his short friend. Helping him dust off the Texas dirt. “You really need to stay out of people’s minds, Kaz.” Kazimer just laughed it off. “Oh please. It doesn’t take mind reading to know what Augustine is thinking.” JC gave him a high five, much too Augustine’s dismay.
Christian began fumbling with his belt buckle. All the attention unnerving him. “Are we going to just keep ignoring the bigger issue?” Ali said interrupting the jests. Everyone looked at her and frowned. Everyone except Christian and Augustine, who were thankful for the change of topic. Anthony Blackthorn taking the chance to begin and clear the dishes. Will was the first to speak up. “If your father was taken by the Wild Hunt, you’d need to go to the UnSeelie Court to bargain for him.”
JC looked at Will like he was an idiot for talking. “She can’t go without The Clave’s protection.” Demyon coughed and everyone turned around to look at him. “Technically, she could come with us as an introduction.” Anthony Blackthorn dropped the dishes in the sink, causing a few to break. Amalia Sternwood came over to check his hand for cuts. He thanked her and pulled his hand away. “No more Blackthorns getting involved with fairies. I won’t allow it.”
To Ali’s surprise it was Will Carstairs who stood up to remark. “You cannot stop a Blackthorn from getting involved with the Fae. Especially if it is to save another Blackthorn.” She watched her uncle slap him. JC moving immediately to stand in-between the two. Will having to pull him back. Kazimer stood up and pulled Ali towards the door. “You should not be involved in this. Ruth made sure to keep you out of this for a reason.” Anthony Blackthorn moved to stop Kazimer, but was blocked by P’or and Demyon.
“Her name was Evelyn Awan Blackthorn. She was not Ruth. Her husband was not a Blackthorn and he deserves what ever hell hole he got himself in.” Ali had enough. She turned around and walked out the room, leaving even Christian behind. Walking down random hallway after hallway, until she got to an outdoor garden. Hummingbirds flying all around the flowers. “There’s a bench down the way.” Said JC appearing behind her.
She followed him down a stone path towards a bench. There was a tiny angel fountain right across from it. Ali sat down next to him, wondering why he was the one to follow her out. “Do you know Will’s last name really should be Blackthorn?” She shook her head no. JC smiled sadly. “Will’s grandfather was the son of a Blackthorn and a Carstairs. However, there would be no more shadow hunters with the last name Carstairs, so he kept his mothers surname unlike his siblings.” Will was a Blackthorn too. There seemed to be a lot of us Blackthorn kids popping up.
“His family is very sensitive about Blackthorn family matters.” JC continued. Ali looked up at him. His blonde hair was shinning in the sun. She had never been a fan of blondes, but on him there could be no other color that fit him. JC Herondale was like the sun, shinning from some inner fire. “Just yesterday I was a clockmaker’s daughter. Today I have more family then a mormon.” He cracked up laughing. “And here I thought the warlocks and angels were what freaked you out.”
Ali felt her hand go to her neck. The one thing her mother left her was a small necklace. The back of it engraved in old norse the poem: Taciturn and prudent, and in war daring should a king’s children be; joyous and liberal every one should be until the hour of his death. Her father had always told her Ruth had a morbid streak. Maybe there was more to it then just morbidity. JC looked at her necklace. The small locket had the Blackthorn crest on the outside.
“Why did you follow me out here?” Ali asked him. JC sighed and looked away form her. “Mostly for Will. I don’t want him crushed by you abandoning him.” Ali smiled sadly. She didn’t think Christian would do that for her. “And the other reason?” JC pulled out a dagger from his boot. She had no idea he was even hiding one or that someone could be so wrapped up in their own reflection. “You have no idea what you just stepped into. It’s hard not to pity you.” Ali grabbed the dagger from him. Surprising him by throwing it with perfect form at a tree a few feet from them. “I am not someone who would need your pity, JC Herondale.”
Before he could say anything a laugh came from behind them. They turned around to see Will Carstairs and Demyon. JC stood up and walked over to Will. Demyon clapping him on the shoulder. “I would listen to her, JC. She has quite a temper.” He just shrugged and turned to walk away. “Don’t be too annoyed at him, Ali. Herondales are known narcissists. It makes them awkward at dealing with things that aren’t about them. No matter what you decide to do. Your family is fine with it.” Will turning to catch up JC. Demyon walked forward towards her, replacing JC at the bench.
“So what’s on the nose breaker’s mind.” Asked Demyon. Ali glared at him. Of course he would bring that up again. “Nothing that seems to concern you.” He frowned. “You know I met your mother Ruth many times when you were a baby. She even commissioned me to make that necklace you are wearing.” Ali’s hand went to her throat again. The weight of the locket a thousand times heavier then before. “Yet, you didn’t recognize me in the market.” Demyon laughed. “Your mother was also a sarcastic person. However, she had more tact about pointing out others shortcomings.” Ali waved the thought away. It didn’t matter to her.
“Your uncle isn’t a bad guy. A little elitist and racist, but not all together a bad guy. You happened to be born in a very uncertain time in Nephilim history.” That wasn’t the point. It wasn’t what she needed to hear. Who cares about their history, their traditions, their families. All Ali cared about was finding her dad. “I don’t care about any of that. I care about finding my Dad.” Demyon looked across the garden. All the humming birds were weaving in and out of native Texas brush flowers. None of them bothered by what was going on in the world around them.
“My family also kept many secrets from me as a kid. Didn’t even know what I was. At the end of it all I had to learn to accept their decisions for me, but it took a lot of painful events for me to get there. Your father asked you to not find him for a reason.” Ali cursed Christian’s name. Why would he tell them that. Was he already that enthralled with the eccentric market manager, that he couldn’t respect a friend’s privacy.
“The father I admired always said a lying tongue had bereft him of life, and all without reason of right. He abhorred liars and fakes. The very reason he was obsessed with clocks was because of how honest Time was. Him being a hypocrite does not change my respect for him.” Demyon sighed and stood up from the bench. “No one is asking you to not respect your father. G-d knows the man deserves the respect. What people are asking you to do is wait and plan it out. You aren’t in a world where rushing into things is acceptable anymore.” Ali stood up from the bench. The flowers also attracted bees and those she were a lot less found of.
“So you want me to either join a religious cult or your cult.” She said bitterly. P’or and Kazimer walked out from the path. She had been aware they had been listening in on the conversation. It was obvious this group moved together. “One is the heritage you were supposed to be born into, sister.” Said P’or. She had noticed he was not over the Norse thing. “The other saves you from a cruel fate.” Said Kazimer. He really hated the Shadow Hunter community.
Ali was stuck in-between two horrible options, but what could she do. It was obvious that the second Christian and her stepped into the market they fell down the rabbit hole. There was no coming back like Alice did. “Which is the best option?” She asked them. Grace Ravenscar stepped out from the path. Amalia Sternwood following close behind her. “Join both.” She said. Everyone’s eyebrows went up, except Demyon. He just smiled at her like he was expecting this crazy suggestion.
“It could work.” Said P’or. Kazimer said nothing. “Fine. Where do I start?” Demyon smiled and for a second Ali thought she could see a devil within him. Warning signals shot through her body. “First, you need to become a Shadowhunter.” She nodded and walked past them all, back towards the house. Time to see her uncle.