The villages on the dark hills were just tiny spots of light as the Essex countryside rushed by beneath us. The horse's great black wings beat against the night sky; ribbons of wind whipped alongside us, and the rushing air snatched the tears from my cheeks.
I gripped the horse's mane for fear of falling. Éven held his arms around me, and I wanted to push him away, but part of me was grateful for the reassurance of his strength.
"Put us down, Éven," I shouted. "I don't want to be here. I don't want to be part of this. Not until you tell me what you're doing."
"Keep your eyes open, Ben. You'll see soon enough." His words were loud in my ear. His breath was hot on my skin. There was excitement in his voice, the adrenaline of anticipation, as if he had so quickly forgotten the harm he had done to my brother.
I had to put Danny out of my mind as well. I had to supress my fear and anger and get to the truth, because the only way to stop him—to save him—was to know what he was planning.
"You're scaring me, Éven. Talk to me. Stop this and tell me what you're doing."
I turned my head, and there he was, his eyes, his lips, so close to mine. His smile; cruel, cold, and beautiful.
"I have unleashed the Great Falcon and set the course. I cannot bid this power to stop and start."
"Éven, London is protected against magic."
He laughed. "Yes, Ben. I know."
"We can't just fly in there. We'll be blasted out of the sky."
"Not with all the power at my command."
I didn't understand his confidence. I had heard time and again that London was the best-protected city in the country, warded against magical attacks for more than four hundred years. The Admiral seemed to think the city was secure, and either she or Éven was about to be proved wrong in spectacular fashion. And I was riding the flying horse that would settle the question.
A shiver ran through me, and Éven held me tighter.
Why couldn't this all have been different? Why couldn't we have met when we were normal, before he was the Twilight Prince, and before I was the bulletproof boy? Why couldn't we just have met and fallen in love?
"We're following the course of Samuel's ship," he shouted.
"I don't know what that means."
"The Winter King. They all arrived in ships, Ben," said Éven. "Queen Elizabeth invited the twelve courts to Somerset Place when the fey world was weakened by purges and witch hunts. The courts arrived in splendour, in the hopes that they would still seem powerful.
"Human history records none of this; but the fey remember. We made camp in the city and tried to leave a mark; most at its heart, and some at the villages beyond. The lords of marshes took to the marshes; the ladies of meadows took to the meadows.
"The hunters presented flowers from far corners at Richmond Palace and challenged mortal men to seek their origins. The river maids built a hospital for weary travellers by the Palace of Pleausance. Sedna's mystics set a great mirror on the city's highest hill, which showed glimpses of beasts in the darkest depths. The scholars of sky invited learned men to camp with them by a spring on the hills to the north. Akheel hosted a tournament at the Whitehall tiltyards, and my own queen moored her Dark Ship by the Inns of Chancery, to hold a symposium on justice.
"Each court tried to impress in its way. Above all else they made a grand entrance. The Noble Fleet."
The words hit me like an electric shock. I had only ever heard them in my father's stories. I thought the Noble Fleet was his invention.
YOU ARE READING
The Twilight PrinceFantasy
What happens when your fairy godmother and your commanding officer don't see eye to eye? Ben Frazer frets about exams, university, and finding a boyfriend, but he has a lot more to worry about when he discovers the secret world of Britain's fairies...