“And the girl, Bonnie Lint? From my perspective the Crimson are really good at making people believe they’re going to live forever but they’re shit at keeping them alive.”
(I’ll miss you when I’m gone.)
The Blood King traced the back of his right hand with the tip of his finger. There were tattoos there, too, his flesh marked by a dial, like a mandala or a wheel. Ink the rust of henna. The skin looked stained, as if the ink were rubbed in instead of tattooed. There were uneven shapes in the centre of the mark; they looked like pieces of torn paper, shaded the blue of faded denim, circled by tiny letters, words too small to read, symbols I didn’t recognize. A language I didn’t know. It looked like the page of a book, or pieces of it. A pinwheel of stars fanned out. Deliberate scatter.
A second trail of stars marked his wrist, marching a path along his forearm. It was as if the whole of the sky, of heaven and earth, had marked him.
I jerked my head, squinting at him. “I am?”
“Yes. Emeric was mine to keep to safe and I did not keep him safe and now he is gone down to bone and feathers.”
Lark. Anomaly. “I thought -“
“That I would give you the satisfaction of argument?” The Blood King sighed and pushed his fingers through the dark of his hair. “It’s too late for that. Your brother is Awakening. When eyes of the Bene Elohim open, the Knock use their claws to blind them.”
House of Feather. House of Claw. “The Knock told me who they are, and they told about the Lark and she,” I pointed at Caoimhe, “told me that your pathetic fucking lunchbag is Lark. Everything Terror is, is your fault. You did this to him.”
The Blood King got quiet then, his voice barely a whisper. “There are things you do not understand Haven. His name is Min and he was Mine long before you were born and will be Mine long after you are bone and dust. You will respect that, and you will respect him or I will make your body a book of blood and etch the truth of your brother’s story on your skin and leave you lifeless.” A vein in his neck throbbed, and blood pooled in his eyes like tears. “Do I make myself clear?”
Do not trust him.
But I wasn’t crystal and I didn’t break easy. I leaned in, close and closer. “Fuck. You.”
The Blood King opened his mouth and it was all teeth.
“Haven!” Caoimhe screamed my name as the Blood King’s body flew and impacted with my own. I staggered back, the force of the blow sent me flying, airborne, I felt a rush of blood and salt and tears as my lungs seized and my cheek smashed into the floor. I couldn’t breathe. All of the air was gone.
I gasped for breath, my hand on my chest as if I could pound the air back into my lungs. Saliva filled my mouth and I spat it out, a spot of glittering wet on the dark of the floor.
I tasted blood and my neck throbbed where he’d tried to bite me.
Caoimhe stood over my body, blocking me. I felt the Blood King’s anger, hotter than the coals that burned in the fireplace. “You touch her again and you answer to me.” Her voice was cold. Flat.
The Blood King took two steps back, turned and smashed his hand against the wall. “She’s a fool, and she doesn’t understand.”
“She loves her brother.”
“And I loved our son.”
“So you did, my beautiful Teloch. You and I both and still we failed him.” Caoimhe bent down, brushing my hair from my face. “I apologize for my Teloch, his heart is broken.”
“So is mine,” I mumbled, pushing her away. “I want my monocle back.”
“Teloch,” Caoimhe said as she turned, still kneeling beside me she held out her hand. “Give it to me.”
The Blood King took the glass from his pocket, handing it to her. “The Knock will kill them both.”
Caoimhe nodded as she palmed the glass, then opened my hand and placed it on my palm. “And you are no better.” She swallowed. “He’s right, Haven. The Knock will try to kill you, but here,” she looked again the Blood King and her words faded away.
I held the monocle to my chest. “Teloch?” I wondered.
“Death,” she replied and I looked up at the Blood King and his eyes were red with tears.