Chapter Thirty-Five: The Vault

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I was buried alive. That was how it felt for just a moment. My body was encased in sand. I couldn't hear a sound, and I didn't dare open my eyes or take a breath. I was buried alive, but someone was pulling me through.

I broke into open air and felt the sand cascade from my head and shoulders. I coughed and gasped for a breath. I tried to wipe my eyes, but my hands were as covered in sand as the rest of me.

A hand touched mine, to stop me rubbing more sand in my face. A soft cloth wiped at my eyelids, my lips, my brow. I opened my eyes and saw Éven smiling down at me. My smile. The one I knew. The real one. Not a vision in water or moonlight; not a reflection or a copy made of sand. The one who had kissed me once, between mirrors.

"Amazing," he said.

"Éven. What...what did you do?"

"I have done the impossible, Ben. We have done the impossible. They will never forget the wonders we have performed." He hugged me. That sweet vanilla scent filled my nostrils. I fought to remember that he was not my Éven. He never had been. He was not the man I wanted him to be. I pushed him away.

We were in a brick room about the size of a garage. The walls looked the same as the ones that surrounded the Glass Embassy, but I didn't need to see that to know where we were. Keele was right; we were in the vaults beneath Lancaster House, Horseshoe's London headquarters.

Éven offered me his hand, but I didn't take it. I pulled myself out of the sarcophagus and tried to shake the sand off my clothes.

Éven was only wearing black trousers. He was barefoot and shirtless. He was real and beautiful. I wanted so desperately for all the things I now knew about him to not be true.

"What did you do, Éven?" I asked. "What are we doing here?"

"I have performed two impossible tasks in a single moment." He was giddy with excitement. "I fled from the prison that no-one escapes. I entered the room where no fey can set foot. All this, and I held the door open long enough to drag you through. I knew you would come, Ben. I knew we could do this."

He put his hand on my arm and leaned forward to kiss me.

I turned my head and pushed him away.

"Éven, I don't know what you're saying, but I'm not part of this. I don't want to be part of this."

He was confused.

"But you are, Ben. I need you. I cannot do this without you. Come, follow me. We must move quickly."

He raced through a wide arch door. I took a moment to clear my throat and recover my breath. I pushed my fingers into the red sand, but there was no-one reaching through for me. That door was closed. There was only one other way out of this room. I followed Éven.

The arch led to a brick corridor lit by hanging globe-shaped lights. Other arches led to other rooms, and the walls above these arches were lined with deep-set alcoves. Presumably every room and every alcove was for a different fey artefact or weapon. It seemed like the worst place in the world for a thief like Éven to be.

One room contained a gnarled old walking stick in a glass cabinet. Another held a stack of cart wheels under a dust cloth. A third was lined floor to ceiling with wooden crates of seemingly empty glass bottles stopped with corks. They looked like mundane objects, but there had to be a story behind every one of them. Every room held a treasure. Every treasure told a fairy tale.

But Éven only needed one thing. There were seven holes in Dr Dee's horseshoe. That horseshoe represented the Accords that chased the fey from the islands. I didn't know why or how, but I knew Éven was working to balance the scales. Seven artefacts for seven attacks. This was number seven.

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