Chapter Thirty-Eight: Night Music

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I don't know what I expected to see on the grounds of Colchester Castle, but I wasn't prepared.

Éven stood in the middle of the park with a hundred Horseshoe agents lined up around him in a half-circle, all with their weapons drawn. A night-black horse stood beside him, and Éven calmly stroked its muzzle, apparently unmoved by the trouble he was in. Powerful winds tore through the air, and a canvas of black and purple clouds hung over our heads, pulsing with a rumbling light.

We were just a moment before the storm.

Éven looked like a true prince, regal and calm amid the menace. He wore a black shirt and silver-grey waistcoat, and a long jacket embroidered with swirls of dark lace. His britches were tucked into leather boots. His skin was as silver as the moon. The shadows across his face were thick and black.

I focused my vision to see what magic was at play here, and I drew a sharp breath. The rippling light and shadow of the clouds was reflected in two vast black wings that spread out from Éven's back. He was the night's angel.

Éven looked up, and his eyes shone in the darkness like wet stones. He scanned the faces of his enemies, and it took me a second to realise that he was looking for a friend. He was looking for me. His eyes settled on mine, and sadness pulled at his features.

I was glad he didn't smile.

I feared I might forgive him if he smiled.

Operator Jhabvala addressed him through a loudhailer.

"Lord Éven of the Shade, you are under arrest for violation of the Horseshoe Accords."

Éven's expression hardened.

"I do not recognise that authority," he said.

I heard a whistle as he spoke—not in his words, but behind them, like faint music passing between the leaves of a tree. That whistling seemed to linger on the wind.

"It is time to throw those old pieces of paper away," he said. "It is time to build a new accord."

A helicopter threw a spotlight on him. Éven raised an arm to shield his face, and the wind intensified. I saw the rifles of the Horseshoe agents twitch, and Jhabvala lowered the loudhailer to whisper orders into her radio.

Éven cast his eyes hatefully across the assembled soldiers. I wondered how his beauty could be so unchanged, but his manner so different. Was there one Éven, or two? Was he both the boy I cared for and the terror they feared?

"Lord Éven, I have been authorised to use lethal force," said Operator Jhabvala. "If you do not settle this storm, if you use any further magic, if you so much as straighten a stray hair, my men will fire."

Éven smiled, and it looked so sinister on him that I found no forgiveness in it after all.

"You might as well ask the night to shed its shadow," he said. "The magic is in me. It breathes in me, as it will once again breathe through the bones of this ancient land."

"I need you to hand over the reed you stole from the vault, your lordship. Set it on the ground and step away."

Éven shook his head.

"I cannot do that."

"Éven, please."

The words came from my mouth before I knew I was saying them. I hadn't been loud, but I felt like everyone heard me. Éven raised an eyebrow and tilted his head towards me.

"I don't want them to hurt you," I said. "I don't want it to end like this."

"This is not the end, Ben. Not for us. I need you to come with me."

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