Chapter Thirty-Four: Attack of the Sun

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Alarms flooded the building and red lights drowned the corridors. Harper led us against a tide of Horseshoe agents running the other way.

"We need to invacuate to a safe place, Mr Frazer," she said. "Whatever is going on out there, it's not going to break through these walls."

"What's happening? What do the alarms mean?"

"It means an unauthorised magical event is happening on the grounds outside the Oubliette," said Harper. "It's probably Alykonides, and if he has the Dayshade he's deadly."

Hiding inside the unbreachable walls of the Oubliette sounded like a good idea, especially compared to facing down Alykonides; yet I couldn't shake Abigail and Hari's disapproval from my mind. If I was safe, I was useless. Whatever the Dayshade did, it was magic, and I was the magic-proof boy. I might be the only person who could stand up to an attack. I might be the only one who could make a difference.

"Let me go out there," I said. "Maybe I can help."

"That's not a good idea," said Harper.

"Maybe it is," said Grace. "We can go up to the roof and review the situation from there. If it looks too risky, we can go back inside."

We raced up three flights of stairs, through two thick steel doors and out onto the roof. The sky was unexpectedly pale for quarter to nine at night. There was no sun that I could see, yet it was as bright as day. An oppressive heat pricked my skin with sweat.

"All right, this is much too risky," said Grace. "Back inside."

"Is this another witch seed?" I asked. Grace grabbed my arm, but I tugged it back out of her grasp.

"It's not a seed," said Harper. "It's a localised effect, but it's not a seed." She pulled a leather pouch from her belt and rolled a set of rune stones into her other hand. She cast the stones on the warm pitch roof and collected them up and cast them again.

"Midsummer, unbottled," said Harper. "There was an old pagan site here once, called the sun gate, and he's tapping into that power. The Dayshade is Dawn magic, but he's using it to turn the night into a summer's day."

"Can he do that?"

"I doubt it. This is a magical neutron bomb. In the right hands, the Dayshade could level a city. In his hands, he's as likely to blow himself up as anyone else."

I twisted free of Grace's grip and ran to the edge of the roof. Alykonides stood at the tree line about thirty feet from the walls of the prison, wearing a pale grey suit and holding a jar that produced a fierce yellow light.

"Behold, the true king of summer," Alykonides shouted at the sky. "My ancestor brought the summer sun to winter and was scorned for his greatness. Now I stand at the sun gate to bring summer day to night, and you will bow before me."

"What do we do?" asked Grace.

"We take cover," said Harper. "The runes are clear on this one, Grace. You would need the power of a primordial to hold the sun in your hand. This idiot doesn't stand a chance."

The light in the jar shone brighter, from yellow to white. The glow was so bright that Alykonides was almost impossible to see. I heard him laugh, and then the laugh became a scream.

"Cover your eyes and turn away," said Harper. She grabbed me by the shoulders. "Do it now or you'll go blind."

I did as I was told, but even with my eyes shut and my hands over my face, even facing away and ducked down behind the rooftop wall, I saw the flash, searing into the back of my skull. A terrible, tortured, wailing cry cut through the cacophony of the blast.

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