Secrets of Blackthorn Hall is a multimedia, serialized novel that is being released online for free. The first piece was released on July 10, 2021, and the rest of installments are to be released weekly from August 16, 2021 to at least September 2022.
The story takes place roughly starting in January 2014—about fifteen months after The Dark Artifices and more than a year before The Wicked Powers—and will take course over the span of a few months. It centers on the characters from The Dark Artifices but also delves into the history of those from The Last Hours and The Infernal Devices through books and old papers found in the house.
Julian and Emma are on their travel year when the Clave sends him a message—clean up Blackthorn Hall or ownership reverts back to the Clave. Amidst the clutter and disrepair they discover secrets that Blackthorn Hall has kept hidden for years... They find out something... or someone... else might be sharing the space with them. They’ll also entertain visitors like Jem, Tessa, Cristina, Mark, Kieran, Kit, Ty, Dru and more.
Emma and Julian of The Dark Artifices move temporarily to London to fix up the crumbling Blackthorn Hall... only to find that among the various objects that belonged to their ancestors, there might be a spectral presence that wishes them harm...
Dear Cristina, from Emma
I was going to try addressing this letter to Polyamorous Cottage In Faerieland, but I figured it might never be delivered. :) Ok, ok, I’m kidding. I’m sending it to the New York Institute—Clary says she’ll hold onto it for you. I know Jules and I have been popping around the globe like ping-pong balls, but we’ve finally settled here in London for at least a couple of months, so you can — and should — write me back at the London Institute — I’m not sure the place we’re staying even has an address.
(And sure, I could have just sent you a fire-message, but I have too much to tell you. Buckle up.)
So, a while ago Jules and I were in Manaus, in Brazil, studying Curupiras, when we got called into the Rio Institute. They had a message for Julian. His great-aunt — yeah, the one he was visiting when you first came to L.A. — had died. Really sad. And then, remember the beautiful house in Sussex where she lived? Well, she left that to some cousin nobody’s heard of, but she left Julian Blackthorn Hall. Which is a crumbling ruin in Chiswick (kind of a suburb of London). And then we had to come here, because of a codicil in the will (ahem, according to the dictionary, that’s “an addition or supplement that explains, modifies, or revokes a will or part of one”). Either Julian has to fix the place up, get it livable again, in five years, or he has to donate it to the Clave.
Anyway, you know how Julian is. He makes up his mind fast. We Portaled to London the next day after he got the news.
I was all set to eat scones, drink tea, and go on the Eye (all the things I didn’t get to do last time we came to London, due to being pursued by unkillable Faerie warriors.) But that was before we took a black cab from the Institute out to Chiswick and really saw the place.
From the outside it looks like a museum or an old library—you know, big marble columns, grand staircase, big metal dome on top that looks like it should have a telescope in it. (It doesn’t; I checked.) But inside it’s more like a fairytale. Not, like, something from Faerie. Or something from a kid’s movie. It’s like one of those fairytales where a crumbling palace sleeps for a thousand years. It was kind of romantic, for about five minutes. Then we spotted the first rat, nibbling on the tassel end of one of the drapes.
It’s a weird mix of interesting history, weird old art, and total ruin. There are cool portraits of old Blackthorn ancestors, mostly intact. Julian says he doesn’t recognize most of the faces. Some of them have names written on the back of the canvas or on the frame but other than “Blackthorn” none of the names mean anything to any of us. There are wooden chests full of ancient books and papers, and beautiful overgrown grounds that I’m sure were once gardens and are now England’s version of a jungle. There’s an old greenhouse and a weird little brick structure we can’t figure out. (Storage shed? Very small weapons room?) The whole place is just a mess, and most of the house isn’t habitable at all anymore. Someone built an apartment with “updates” off in one wing, probably in the sixties. (The apartment, by the way, reminds me of that vintage shop in Topanga I dragged you to. Remember?) Whoever lived in it left a closet of all kinds of vintage clothes and there’s crazy flower-patterned wallpaper and modern art everywhere. At least the apartment has electricity, running water, and heat, because the rest of the house definitely doesn’t —
I’m back now. Sorry, had to stop writing for a second. Julian was calling me. He was up in what was probably a ballroom? But anyway he took a wrong step and his foot went through the floor. (Not all the way through the floor, which is a relief. But it definitely made a hole.) The ballroom is big and dusty, but you can see how long ago it must have been beautiful, and very fancy. It has these huge French doors that open onto marble balconies, though most of the glass in the doors is gone now.
Once I freed Jules from the broken floor I figured it was my only chance to try to talk some sense into him, so I pointed out that this is a gigantic project for two people who have never fixed up a house before, and that we have a perfectly fine place to live already. And the weather is better there.
Jules, being Jules, took his time answering, really thinking about what I’d been saying. Then he said, “If you don’t want to do this, we don’t have to do it. You’re more important to me than a house. Any house.”
“It’s not that I don’t want to do it,” I said. “I just don’t even know where to start.”
Jules calmly explained that he’d been in contact with some faerie builders of some kind, hobgoblins maybe? who would be here Monday to do “a walkthrough.” Then he put his arms around me and said, “I know we can always live in the L.A. Institute. I love it there, too. But as much as any Blackthorn legacy exists, this is it. All these old papers, whatever secrets the house is hiding, they’re our family history. I want to pass it on to Dru and Ty and Tavvy. I want to give them what I never had.”
Well, what could I say to that? I get it. I have Jem as my living family history. Jules doesn’t have anything like that. And while Aline and Helen run the L.A. Institute now, they might not always, and besides, it belongs to the Clave. I get that he feels like he can’t give away a big chunk of his family’s history without giving them a choice in the matter.
I said, “All right. We’ll see what we can do. If we ever decide it’s too much, we can hold a big family meeting and everyone can vote. Keep the place or not.”
He picked me up and swung me around. Then we started kissing. I’ll be merciful and not give you the details.
So I’ve decided to consider all this An Adventure. It’s like an archeological site, and we are intrepid historians. Later I’ll see if I can convince Jules to put on a tweed coat and a pith helmet while we sort through the debris. Because whoever lived here before had a lot of stuff. It’s a big house, and every room has furniture with drawers and cabinets, and inside every drawer and every cabinet is clutter. Rusty weapons, water-damaged books, little boxes with more clutter in them, costume jewelry, portraits of random people, broken teacups…And remember, we’ll be going through it without any light but witchlights.
Anyway. I wanted to let you know what I was up to, and where we were. Our travel year was basically over anyway, so this is a sort of way of extending it and spending more time together. I’m not sad about that part. I was actually doing pretty well psyching myself up for the excavation of Blackthorn History, until this morning.
I know I said the house seemed haunted, but I was joking. Mostly. I’m not Kit; I can’t see ghosts unless they want me to see them, and so far I haven’t come across any ectoplasmic spirits with messages from The Beyond. But the place does feel odd — I keep finding myself turning around at the end of long, spiderwebby hallways, as if expecting to see something in the shadows. Or imagining I glimpse something over my shoulder in the mirror. I chalked it all up to nerves until this morning, when I came into the dining room and saw that the words “GO AWAY” were written in the dust on the floor.
I literally jumped. I was actually reaching for Cortana before I got a hold of myself. Don’t be ridiculous, I thought. That message could have been written any time. Long before we got to the house. It could have been sitting here in the dust for years, undisturbed.
I have a confession to make, though. I rubbed the GO AWAY message away with my foot. I didn’t want Julian to see it. He worries too much as it is. I didn’t want him to have that same bad moment of shock that I did, especially over something unimportant.
I feel better getting the story off my chest to you, though. Oh dear, Julian is calling for me again, I can’t wait to see what he’s put his foot through this time. I will write again soon, and in the meantime pip pip cheerio from London!
Love to you and the boys,
Dearest Magnus, from Tessa
Jem, Kit and I are so looking forward to your visit. In preparation, Kit has been attempting to teach Mina to say your name. She’s almost got it, but you may have to content yourself with being called “Agnes,” as she has trouble with the M — very trying for her as she is so advanced in her speech, just as you say Max was. You should have heard them in the kitchen this morning. “Who is coming to visit, Mina?” “Agnes!” I feel that your alter ego, Agnes, would wear sequins and be absolutely deadly at whist.
Thank you for your thoughts about the wards. I will look for labradorite at the gem store in Exeter. I tried what you suggested with the chickens—I was able to borrow a Blue Orpington from a neighbor on the last quarter moon. Since then chickens seem to be avoiding Kit, so maybe it will work on demons too? (Though can you really tell when a chicken is avoiding someone as opposed to just being a chicken?)
Jem and I are endeavoring to walk a narrow line, keeping Kit safe and hidden while also providing him with the most normal life we can. We don’t want to lock him away in a tower like a fairytale princess—he’d be miserable. And Mina would be miserable, she just adores him and rides everywhere on his back, clutching onto his shirt with her little hands. It reminds me of the way James and Lucie used to ride on Will’s shoulders. I suppose times change, but children never do.
We’re trying to allow Kit freedom wherever we can. He’s enrolled at the small school in the village, where a few of his friends know about the Shadow World and others don’t. There’s a local pack of werewolves who we’ve become friendly with, and some of their children go to school with him. I’ve begun to suspect that Kit has a girlfriend, but he’s secretive about it. (I guess that’s another thing that never changes about children—how secretive they are. I just hope he knows he can tell us anything. Especially related to demons, or in Kit’s case, the fey. A hundred and ten years later and I’m still edgy.)
He’s a puzzle, our Christopher Jonathan Herondale. About some things he’s opened up, and is willing to talk to Jem and me about them freely — his father, and what it was like growing up being able to see all sorts of peculiar things but not really understanding why. About being taught to fear Shadowhunters. About his concerns about his heritage — what it means, what kind of power he might have. I think it frustrates him, not knowing.
Other things he won’t talk about. We have asked him about Ty, as you and I discussed, but he’s like a brick wall about their friendship. Whatever happened he won’t speak of it. I think Livvy’s death hit him harder than we guessed, too. I’ve heard him call out her name in his sleep, always in this very despairing way. Sometimes he’ll say Not if you do this. Not if you do this, Ty. I feel like whatever they fought about, it must have been awful. But people can be terrible when they’re grieving; we both know that.
You can probably tell from everything I’ve said how much I — how much we — love Kit. I just love him, Magnus, like he was my own. He is my own. I’d kill anyone who wanted to hurt him, just as I would protect Mina or Jem with my life. I never thought I’d have this again, this perfect family I love so much it hurts. Strange after so many years to be so surprised by one’s own feelings — but I imagine it’s much the same for you, isn’t it? Speaking of which, I hope you and Alec and the kids are well. Please let Max know that we found his superhero cape—it was inside the piano.
I enclose a picture from your last visit here. How adorable they all are!
Julian to Mark
℅ Helen Blackthorn
Los Angeles Institute
Don’t worry about the parchment scroll yet, I’ll get to it at the end of the letter.
Hello from Chiswick! It’s pronounced like chizzick, it’s just outside central London, and it is a collapsing ruin. The house, I mean, not the neighborhood, which is cozy, a little suburban, lots of green space, quiet. You’d like it.
I should have been in touch before, I know that – and I’m sorry. We had to move fast to save this place and I knew a fire-message wouldn’t reach you. Blackthorn Hall may be a ruin, but it’s our family’s legacy, one of the very few things that we’ve inherited from Blackthorns past. I feel this sense of responsibility, a need to preserve the place for Tavvy and Dru, for Ty and
Liv — well. You know.
It was us or the Clave, and they would have knocked it down and put something else in its place. It’s easily in bad enough shape that knocking it down would be the practical move. But it’s ours, and I kind of love it. I mean, if we don’t love it, who will? It can be truly beautiful again, I believe that. You should visit when you get a chance—all of you there are invited, of course—but be warned that if you come in the next couple of months you will be put to work.
This brings me to the parchment, which is the estimate and contract from the faerie builders for the renovation work on the house. I was hoping you and Kieran could look it over for faerie trickery, both in terms of whether their rates seem reasonable, and also to make sure they don’t get Tavvy if we’re late with payment, that kind of thing. They came highly recommended—they’re brownies? I think? They look like big garden gnomes. I mean, it’s probably the pointy hats. They could take them off, of course, but I guess they like them. They must know they look like garden gnomes. Anyway, they seem trustworthy and industrious and all that. But faeries do love tricking humans. Let me know what you think.
Oh, I should explain that there is one part of the house that is in all right shape and has all the “mod cons,” as they say here. It was redone in the Sixties and, well… it is groovy. The cons are Mod as well as mod. I am not sure you will get that joke but don’t worry about it, it was pretty stupid. The thing is, I’d never thought about it, but I realized this must have been fixed up by our grandparents. The timing works out. So this must be where Dad lived, once. And Uncle Arthur. It was where they grew up. And I realized: they, too, must have been groovy.
Arthur. Must have at one point. Been really groovy.
I just want you to sit with that for a moment, the way I did. It creates a feeling I believe to have never been felt before by any human being in the world.
You should see the clothes. I mean, really. You should see them. There’s a consignment shop’s worth of vintage stuff here and none of it suits me at all. You’re welcome to it but it is almost all synthetic fabrics and would not go over in Faerie itself.
Aaand I know I’m rambling. I was trying to avoid saying this, but there’s something about this house. It reminds me of some of the nights you and I used to ramble around the Institute back home. Which I know is weird, London couldn’t be more different than the Santa Monica Mountains — I miss the wildfire tang in the air, the smell of the chaparral and sage, the coarse dirt under our feet. (Do you miss it too? I feel like it has to be very different where you are in Faerie.) But there were plenty of times, especially when we were younger, when we’d tell ghost stories out there and scare ourselves that something was watching us. Maybe something was, though I’m inclined to think now that it was something friendly. Here in this house I get the same watched feeling, like there are eyes on me, shadows I see out of the corners of my own eyes that disappear when I turn around.
Anyway, I really wish you were here. I’d bring it up with Emma, but I don’t want to freak her out. She’s started the massive job of sorting through decades of papers and journals that used to belong to the people who lived here, and I’ve started painting the ballroom. I know Emma has been in touch with Cristina, please send my love to her and to K as well!
Your loving bro,
PS: I realize now I don’t know where this letter will find you, so let me clarify that “all of you are invited” from the LA Institute, not “all of you are invited” from the Unseelie Court.
Emma to Dru
Hey, baby bat! So how’s Shadowhunter Academy? Still having a good time? How’s the roommate — Thais, isn’t that her name? How’s having a roommate? I always kinda wished I’d gotten to go to SA, although obviously the weather was better in California. But you like things dark and gloomy! Just, you know – try to get some sun sometimes, okay? While I know you love your ghostly pallor, vitamin D is a real thing.
Not that we’re getting any sun here in Chiswick, where England is being fully England with the weather. I guess it goes with the house, though. You’re going to love this place when you see it, by the way. It’s the most goth building you’ve ever seen. The whole place is full of crumbling statues and faded wallpaper with creepy stains and a LOT of these dark brambles—
Huh, I guess it makes sense there are a lot of black thorns at Blackthorn Manor. Still, they’re a huge pain to cut back. Why didn’t your ancestors go with something less pointy? This was owned by Lightwoods for years, why no light woods? We may never know.
(I always forget about the Lightwoods because I think of it as Blackthorn Manor but I found a diary of a girl who grew up here, hidden under one of the floorboards. Like way back in the 1870s. She’s just a normal Shadowhunter teenager of the time, complaining about boring history lessons and obnoxious older brothers. Normal stuff! She’s about 13 in the part I’m reading but it goes for a few years. Her name was Tatiana Lightwood, I wonder if Isabelle and Alec have heard of her?)
Anyway, Jules is working hard on de-spookying the place, but trust me, it’ll still be gothier than a ripped fishnet whenever you get to see it. It’s going to be ages before we’re done with all the hallways full of empty birdcages and decaying books. This house is big. And extremely busted.
Also … haunted. At first I think we were both in denial. It was just weird moving shadows, cold spots in places — if this was one of your mundane movies, we’d still be arguing about what was going on. But we’re Shadowhunters. We know ghosts exist. And we finally broke down and admitted to each other that there’s definitely one in this house. Somebody’s moving small objects around and playing the piano off in the distance… low, haunting bits of sweet music we can both hear. But here’s the thing — the only piano here isn’t even playable. It rotted through a long time ago.
So, we have a ghost. But they don’t seem definitely or even particularly hostile. It could just be a bitty poltergeist, or a passing unquiet spirit. I’ve just started going through papers and it’s obvious Some Stuff Went Down Here at some point, lots of weird references to demons and bindings. (Oh, I’m putting a thing aside for you, it’s a taxidermied raven covered in flowers, I think it used to be part of a really extra hat.) So the potential for unquiet spirits is definitely there. One more thing to deal with along with the need for all new drains. (What, exactly, are drains?)
Anyway, I can’t wait to see you and oh no, I spent most of the letter telling you about the house but I really do want to hear about the Academy and your roommate and teachers, like is Catarina there? What about Ragnor? Have you seen Jaime lately? Tell me everything!
PS I just found out who Tatiana Lightwood thought was the cutest boy in London. Will Herondale. Wasn’t that the guy Tessa was married to, a long time ago? Would she think this was funny? I mean, it’s kind of funny. Always a Herondale, you know?
From the diary of Tatiana Lightwood. December 27, 1873
I hate Will Herondale.
I hate Will Herondale.
I HATE Will Herondale.
How could I have ever felt anything but loathing for him, with his ridiculous name and his infernal Welsh accent and his preposterous handsome face! Ugh! The horrid monster read my old diary, OUT LOUD at the Institute Christmas party. On the stage, in the ballroom. To the entire Enclave.
Every single entry where I’d written my name as Mrs. Tatiana Herondale. Every bit where I wrote poetry about his absurdly blue eyes, how I shudder now to recall it! How I wish Elise Penhallow had never stopped playing the spinet and given him an opening to start reading OUT LOUD. I wish she was still playing the spinet now and for the rest of eternity and that Will Herondale had been utterly drowned out by the racket.
The HUMILIATION, it is not to be borne. He is a MONSTER. Gideon just stood there like a lummox. Gabriel had the decency to attempt to defend my honor and got his arm broken, which was the least he could do, really.
I suppose it is better that I have discovered Will Herondale’s TRUE NATURE and EVIL INTENT now rather than later. But oh, couldn’t I have found it out in a different way? A whispered cruel comment—an act of brutishness at someone else’s expense—but no. The whole Enclave just standing there gaping at me and whispering, whispering.
Of course Father told me in the carriage on the way home that I had disgraced us all and the good name of Lightwood, too. Gabriel sulked for the entire journey, even though the healing runes must have taken away any pain he was in, so there was no need for him to be so peevish. None of this was about him. Gideon took my hand and said, “Don’t fret, Tati. Everyone will forget about this before you know it.” I looked out the window of the carriage and ignored him. What could he possibly understand about the injury that has been dealt to me? Nothing, for he is a lunkhead.
When we arrived at Chiswick I thought about burning the diary, for I could no longer stand the sight of the thing. Will ruined it. I went up to my room and ripped the pages from the spine, then tore each page to pieces. I looked at the fire, which had plenty of hot coals, but I could not bring myself to consign the remains of the diary to the flames, whether they had disgraced our family name or not. Those pages were full of my fascinating ruminations and ideas and observations—about the London Enclave, about my father’s heroic exploits, about the precise shape of Elise Penhallow’s nose and what it revealed about her terrible character—and I found I did not want to see those words curl and vanish into ash. Instead I stuffed the mutilated pages into my green silk purse and tiptoed down the corridor. I hid them in the old mousehole behind one of my father’s paintings of demons doing peculiar things. (I don’t know why he collects them, but then I suppose I have not yet developed a taste for art.) I hurried back to my room and threw the spine and covers of the book into the fire.
I am starting over with a new diary in which I will not mention W.H. at all. Except now. This is the last time.
But I will make him pay. No matter how long I have to wait.
Emma to Diary
Dear Diary — that’s how you’re supposed to start off, right? I feel kind of silly writing this, since I never thought I’d keep a diary, but what can I say. I guess Tatiana Lightwood inspired me. I feel like I should give the diary a name though, something friendly, so I can write “Dear Clara” or “Dear Bruce” instead of Dear Diary. Bruce is growing on me, actually.
So I thought I could use this to organize my thoughts. I’ve been jotting things down in little notebooks the whole time Jules and I have been traveling. (Did you know that there are a lot of fey creatures who have been incorrectly classified as demonic by the Clave? Like Curupiras? Most of the old bestiaries direly need correcting.)
It’s actually quite odd to be standing still after rushing around the globe for nearly a year. Julian has really thrown himself into this whole restoration project. I think it appeals to his sense of care and deliberation. He loves working with his hands (and I like watching him work with his hands) and figuring out projects. In addition to everything else, he’s painting a mural in the ballroom. He won’t let me in to see it. He says it’s a surprise so I have to live in suspense, I guess!
I really hope that when this place is all fixed up it does something to de-creepify the place. I joked about it to Dru when I wrote to her but I still get that sense that things are lurking in every shadow. Even when I turn my witchlight up to its brightest, it just highlights the weird cracks in the walls and the strange stains on the plaster. I can’t explain it but I feel like a long time ago, something awful happened here. It’s in the chills up and down my spine, and in the strange way the glass in the windows fogs up for no reason, or the odd cold spot halfway up the stairs. I keep wanting to reach for Cortana, but this isn’t the kind of thing you can fight. It’s just a feeling.
And sometimes it isn’t there — I spent a perfectly normal afternoon today digging through boxes in what used to be the kitchen. We pulled a lot of them up from the cellar (which is so spidery I will plan to refer to it from now on as Spidertown. I haven’t seen this many spiders since Thule. *shudder*)
Some of the boxes have perfectly normal stuff in them. There’s some beautiful silverware and china that belonged to someone named Barbara Pangborn (must have married a Lightwood or Blackthorn.) Fancy linens and tablecloths with the Blackthorn symbol of thorns woven around the edges as a border. A big box of broken toys and china dolls marked “Grace Blackthorn.” There was a runed dagger shoved down among the broken doll heads so my guess is she was a little girl just starting training. Aw! (Though the doll heads are creepy.)
Julian came in when I was partway through unpacking, and decided to help by cleaning out the fireplace grate. He got completely covered in soot and was coughing, so I dragged him into the modern wing, pulled off his shirt, and started mopping him off. And well, he was shirtless and dirty and looking at me with those gorgeous blue-green eyes and what can I say?
I jumped him. We backed into the bedroom kissing like crazy and toppled onto the bed and got soot all over the sheets and it was worth it. (And that’s all the details you get, Bruce. Stop asking.)
I can’t believe I ever thought Jules and I were just friends. It’s almost like I loved him so much I couldn’t see all of it, how big it was. I was standing inside it, looking for that kind of love without realizing I was surrounded by it. Does that make sense, Bruce? I’m not a writer so I’m probably terrible at expressing this kind of thing! I know I often feel like I should tell Julian I love him more, but he never says anything about it, and so I try to tell him in other ways than words. The way I curl up against him when we sleep, the way I come up behind him and hug him when he’s concentrating on something (not when he’s painting, though, or there’d be splotches on all the canvases!) The way — wait a second. Is that someone knocking on the door?
[One hour later]
Bruce! You’re not going to believe it but Cristina is here! And Mark and Kieran are with her! I don’t even know how Kieran managed to get away from Faerieland — something about him making a vow to the land that he’d be here for less than three sunsets — but I’m so happy to see them! Cristina and I danced around like maniacs and hugged each other, and somehow Mark and Kieran managed to convince Julian we should go out tonight and see London. We’re all going to wear clothes from the Super Groovy Sixties closet and hit as many pubs as we can. I can’t wait, Jules and I need a break. London, here we come! Prepare yourself for Partying Shadowhunters!*
*And a faerie King.
Kieran to General Winter
Three sunsets. I told you, I have three sunsets. I will be back in just that amount of time. It is not a very long amount of time. And yet you have written to me, spent your valuable time and mine because you could not wait three sunsets to know whether I prefer velvet in midnight blue or one in more of an eggplant, I believe was your phrase.
Forgive me my temper. I am not really angry with you. I am only somewhat out of sorts this morning, after a night of merriment and whimsy on the streets of London-Town, along with my Nephilim friends. Now, obviously any faerie revel contains such dark delights as mortals can only dream, and so on. But after the previous night I must concede a grudging respect for the reveling capacities of an unexpected group: London businessmen of late middle-age. In our journeys we encountered what is known here as a “Retirement Party,” a kind of movable feast in which these businessmen traverse the city in celebration of a chosen one. In this case I knew him only as “Kraig.”
We met his Party thrice last night! The first time, at the Tongue & Grapes, we shared only a mutual acknowledgement of fellow celebrants passing in the night. The second time, at the Inn of the Shaved Werewolf, there were mutual roars of recognition from both parties, and a ceremonial exchange of beverages, as is custom. And the third time, at the Pigeon & Spoon, we were welcomed and—a great honor—inducted as honorary members of the Party, whereupon we were bestowed with festive hats and jersey-cotton smocks proclaiming the majesty of the great Kraig.
So you will understand if I am shorter of patience than I would like, this day, for I have a vile headache engendered by too much of what mortals call “shandy”, a repellent beverage with a kick like an angry kelpie. It quite left my darling Cristina asleep on a rather sticky table at the Pigeon and Spoon; Mark and I had to carry her back to the Institute. She is awake now, of course, and demanding coffee with rather more force than usual. Given that my time is short, I shall endeavor to answer your queries as well as I can.
I like the midnight blue, for the throne room. I think it sets off the creeping vines well, and also I think that you were hinting you prefer it as well. Next, I am in general agreement that the overall aesthetic of the throne rooms should move in the direction of an opulent Gothic feel, rather than its previous occupant’s preferred mood of “blasted hellscape.” Let us remind our Court that we are the Moon, as the Seelie Court is the Sun; rather than that they are Beauty, and we Tackiness.
However, I disagree about the skulls. I think they should remain. Skulls are perfectly appropriate in an opulent Gothic setting. In fact, I am hard-pressed to think of a style in which skulls would not be an improving presence. If such a style exists, it would definitely not be a good choice for the throne rooms of the Unseelie Lord, let us at least agree upon that.
Lastly, I am disturbed to hear that the Seelie Court continues to rebuff my requests for a summit of peace. You were right when you noted your suspicions earlier; they have become more secretive in this past year, even for them. We will see if our scouts manage to learn anything, although in my experience our scouts mostly seem to fall into forbidden romances with Seelie scouts and then they run off together; we lose something like four out of five that way. I suppose what I am saying is that I am not exactly holding my breath. (A charming human expression, is that not?)
You do not need to suggest to me that I contact Adaon; he is my own brother and I speak with him often. Whenever I bring up the possibility of a united court, or a meeting between myself and the Seelie Queen, he says the same thing: now is not the time for a summit that might lead to discord — now is the time to preserve the fragile peace between the two courts by leaving well enough alone. He has the Queen’s ear, so I must trust he knows what I do not. Still, you know it is not in my nature to do nothing and call it progress.
Speaking of that fragile peace, I must inquire—have your redcaps learned any more about the strange presence that has been noted in Faerie, and whether it is beneficial or antagonistic to our interests? I feel it through my connection to the Land — I am woken sometimes, feeling that presence I cannot define, knowing it is both of Faerie and not of it, and that the Land itself is afraid.
Enough of that. I trust that you can manage to keep the Court in working order for the thirty-six remaining hours I will be gone. If more color selection is necessary before my return, I trust you to go with your instincts, which have always served you well.
Until then I have the honor to remain Your Eternal Sovereign, Master of the Hob and the Domovoi, Breaker of the Broken Lands, Crown Under the Hill, Dark Star of the Evening, Friend of Kraig, and King of the Unseelie Court —
Mark to Ty
Greetings and Salutations, Tiberius.
I hope this missive finds you well at the Scholomance. For my own part, I am rather hungover. We took to the clubs of London and ended up swept away in the festivities of Kraig’s retirement party. ‘Who is Kraig?’ you may ask. That is a very good question, Tiberius. As of this morning, I have no idea.
You will be relieved to know that none of this is why I’m writing to you. It’s rather about what happened afterwards.
As you know, Julian and Emma are staying at Blackthorn Hall, attempting to get it fixed up. Emma has been going through stacks of old papers and ephemera, and Julian has been dealing with the particulars of the needed repairs. Julian also mentioned that he’s been working on a mural, though he keeps it covered with a cloth so I don’t know what it depicts. Whatever the subject matter, I am glad that he is finding time to paint.
This is my first visit to Blackthorn Hall since I was a child, and I must say that Julian and Emma have their work cut out for them. Especially because it seems to be haunted.
Yes, haunted. I woke early this morning to the sound of an exclamation. Having passed out upon the stairs for some reason, I was directly across the hall from the ballroom, where I found Julian in the throes of dismay. There was paint spilled all over the ballroom floor. Julian has been working on the mural up there, and was quite upset by the mess. I wondered whether wild animals could have been responsible—the place certainly looks like it could be harboring numerous bands of cunning raccoons *—but then I saw that there were footsteps in the paint. They looked to be old-fashioned shoes, not like any soles I’d seen before. Since the house itself contains many garments of earlier eras, we looked for matches, but found none.
I felt a sort of chill in the ballroom that reminded me of my time with the Hunt. A hint of the cold of the grave. I suppose that is why I am inclined to agree with Emma and Julian that this mess is the work of a mischievous ghost, and not a strangely-dressed housebreaking vagrant. (Emma mentioned the term ‘cosplay’ but I do not know what that means.)
Julian, being who he is, blames himself. He keeps muttering about how he shouldn’t have gone out, how it’s his responsibility to take care of the place, and so on. You know how hard he can be on himself. I hate to hear it. I’d like to get to the bottom of this—for Julian’s sake, for the restoration of the house, and for the sake of all of us, because mopping up so much paint was not enjoyable, especially with a clanging headache—and that is why I am appealing to you, Ty, for aid. You’re at the Scholomance, and as a student you have at your fingertips a vast quantity of books, family trees, and historical records. Could you look and see if there are any references to Blackthorn Hall being haunted? If we know who the ghost is, it will be much easier to dispel them—lay them to rest, I should say. I cannot imagine it is enjoyable to be a ghost.
Please reply to Julian with any information, for unfortunately Kieran, Cristina and I must depart the day after tomorrow; Kieran cannot be away from the Land too long, and Cristina and I have work to do in New York.
I must go—Kieran has come to fetch me. Cristina and Emma have prepared a cream tea in an effort to lighten the mood. Kieran assures me that the sandwiches are extremely tiny, and that he cut the crusts off himself, with great accuracy.
I love you, Tiberius. I wish you were here with us, but I know you are doing great work in the Scholomance. I am proud to be your brother.
* Julian informs me there are no raccoons in England, whatever Disney films might have indicated to the contrary. I cannot express the depth of my betrayal.
Ty to Julian and Emma
Hi Julian and Emma,
There are lots of things in this letter, so I have made them into an ordered list.
- Don’t worry. The device I’ve included is not dangerous and is in no danger of exploding. (Obviously.) (When Professor Hardcastle saw me packing it up, she suggested I tell you up front it is not a bomb. I told her that you know I would never send you anything dangerous without taking all appropriate precautions. She said yes, but it looks like a bomb.)
- I started looking through the records. Nothing so far about Blackthorn Hall being haunted. Plenty of weird stuff happened there in the past, so it’s definitely possible there are ghosts that haven’t been reported. But I’ll bet plenty of weird stuff has happened at every big old Shadowhunter manor. Are all of them haunted? Now that I think about: it’s possible.
- I’m not done with the records yet, just letting you know what I’ve found so far. I’m still looking. The library is huge, and the Cohort left it very disorganized. So finding particular documents can be a challenge. Genealogies aren’t hard to come by, but given all the intermarrying among Shadowhunter families there’s a lot of tracing up and down ancestors and cross-referencing, and yes, I know what you’re going to say, and I do like cross-referencing. But the volume is still very high. Also, Professor Loss warned me that a lot of the Shadowhunter family trees are inaccurate, and there was a period where Shadowhunter families would create fanciful family trees, like a… marriage wish list. But there’s some accurate truth beneath all this mess and I am resolved to find it.
- The only thing I’ve learned that might be helpful so far is that before the place was Blackthorn Hall, it was Lightwood House, and occupied in the mid-19th century by a Benedict Lightwood who got into some kind of legal trouble. I’m not sure what kind. His death is recorded as by “misadventure,” but that could mean anything. Oh, and there are records of demons being found on the grounds at various points but that doesn’t mean anything, sometimes demons wander onto grounds.
- You probably find this lack of information frustrating. I find it frustrating. I will be devoting myself to uncovering the history of this house in the fashion of Sherlock Holmes, although I do not have the hat with me.
- On the topic of the Scholomance, and how I am doing here. I have been putting together a curriculum, with the help of Prof. Loss, aimed in the direction of investigation and detection. So far it includes: Signs & Sigils, Alchemy (closest I will get here to forensics), Tracking, Law, and Downworld Relations (apparently this one used to be a real doozy back in the pre-Accords days, when it was called “Interrogation.” The older profs still call it that sometimes). You will see the glaring omission here. I need a course on criminology, but the term only dates to the late 1800s and that is not nearly enough time for the Scholomance to have put together a class by now. They move very slowly.
- This is maybe more like 6A. A friend suggested that I put together my own syllabus for a course on the history of non-mundane crime. That sounded good to me, so I’ve been doing that on top of my own academic work.
- The device. Since the situation sounds urgent and I don’t have much yet, Anush and I rushed to put this together for you. It’s a modified Sensor—instead of picking up demonic energies, it’s sensitive to spectral energies. At least, it’s supposed to be. The design is theoretically very sound, but I admit this is the first prototype. Normally I would want to go through a couple of revisions before I shared it with anyone, but I trust you. So I hope it works and will help you to feel better about the house. I would appreciate it if you tell me anything about it that doesn’t work, or that works differently than you expect, or functionality you’d like it to have, so we can put those changes into the next version. This is Anush and my first real invention, and it’s more like a hack for an existing tool. Anyway, the more feedback you can provide, the better.
- Will you send me a fire-message next time you’re going into London? I’d like you to pick up a couple things for me. I should have expected this, but it’s really hard to do any shopping in the Carpathian mountains.
PS. If you do find a ghost, treat it kindly. I don’t think all ghosts mind being ghosts, as long as people are nice to them.
The Very Secret Diary of Miss Tatiana Lightwood
Dear Diary, I am inconsolable. As planned, I importuned Papa to beg him for mercy. It was my last-ditch attempt to be permitted to stay home tonight rather than to attend the ball at the Institute. It was a bad plan, I recognize now. He was in his private study, and he hates to be interrupted there; when I came in he had only an unfriendly look for me, and I should have retreated right then. Lessons learned, I suppose.
The upshot is that I, quote, must, unquote, attend the ball at the Institute tonight, as—so I am told—the Name of the Lightwoods depends upon it. I told him that if Gabriel attended — as Gideon has abandoned us for Spain — this would surely be enough to show the Lightwood flag. But he only shook his head, muttered something about how “tongues would wag,” and waved me away. I suggested that I could be reported to be unable to attend due to temporary illness of a non-specified womanly nature. For that suggestion I was cast out of the study immediately, of course.
The name of the Lightwoods! What care I for the name of the Lightwoods? What good has the name of the Lightwoods ever done for me? My only purpose in life, after all, is meant to be to find a better last name to replace it with. And what a grand entrance I will make at this party towards that purpose, attending the ball on the arms of my disgusting brothers, my escorts of last resort.
Not that I will find any sympathy in this house. Gabriel seems perfectly happy to attend the ball without escorting any lady besides his sister. He does not understand, being soft of brain and even softer of heart, that the favor of our father is bestowed easily, carelessly, upon him, because he is a boy, whereas I must work ten times as hard for less than one-tenth the approval. By the Angel…Gideon abandoned the family to drink wine and sun himself in Spain, and Papa still treats him better than me. His travel year! As though it is some unbreachable commandment handed down by Raziel himself. It is tradition and tradition is happily broken for the sake of family. We need Gideon here—Papa needs Gideon here. I will never forgive him for having left us, the great lummox.
Gabriel, of course, only grows worse in the absence of his personal hero Hideous Gideon. He wishes to be taken seriously now and so he acts like Father, and it is like watching a dog try to walk on its hind legs. An embarrassment of pomposity and egomania the like of which is, I daresay, a black mark on the Lightwood name far worse than any harm I could do by staying home from a party.
I go now to dress for the ball, weighed down by the burden of my fate.
Dear Diary, I know I am not in the habit of writing more than once in a day but I had to take you up immediately upon returning from the party because a miracle has occurred. I have met a boy—no, a man, a wonderful man. His name is Rupert Blackthorn — though he is not one of the tedious Blackthorns from the Cornwall Institute. He usually lives in Leeds, but he is here visiting family friends. He is the most beautiful man ever to have lived. His hair is deep black as midnight, and his eyes are emerald orbs that gaze into one’s soul. Every girl in the Institute was watching him, hoping he would give them a dance, and he came right to me, without hesitation, and smiled at me and asked me. And I danced with him and it was glorious. Even better yet, he had no interest in anyone at the party but me. I do believe he even gave Gabriel the cut direct when Gabriel tried to start talking about himself, at one point. I am not entirely sure; it was quite loud and he might only not have heard. But I choose to believe it was a deliberate snub. From the most desirable boy in the whole detestable building.
When I wrote earlier I was the lowest of the low in this house, but now I am raised up triumphant. I danced with a beautiful dark-haired man who said my name as though it were poetry. The name of the Lightwoods indeed! Take that, Will Herondale!
Dru texts Kit
Emma to Diary
Sorry it’s been a long time since I’ve written in you. Everything’s been kind of crazy since Ty sent the Ghost Sensor. Which was incredibly helpful and nice of him, and we decided that even if it didn’t work we’d still tell him it did, but that didn’t turn out to matter. It definitely works. The minute we unpacked it, it started to make weird little crackles and beeps. It didn’t seem to be reacting to anything specific, it was more like it was reacting to the environment of the house, fussing about it like a grumpy baby.
Julian decided to use it kind of like a divining rod, following where the strongest crackles and beeps seemed to be. We spent probably an hour traipsing through the house while the sensor made whistling sounds like an angry teakettle.
Eventually the sensor led us to one of the upstairs hallways. There’s no furniture in it now, and it looks a bit forlorn, with bits of tattered curtains hanging from the windows and an empty frame on the wall. It was also pretty eerie, standing in that room with the sensor going crazy but not being able to see anything. We both looked at each other, thinking,
Is there a ghost in here with us right now?
At that moment, I remembered what I’d read in Tatiana Lightwood’s diary, how she’d hidden the pages of her old diary in the wall. I went over to the wall and tapped on it. Jules picked up on what I was doing right away and started tapping on the wall as well, and we found a spot that echoed hollowly. We both stared at it for a minute, before Julian said, “Hang on.” He went downstairs and returned with a sledgehammer. He started to swing at the wall but I stopped him. “I really think you should take your jacket off while you do this. And maybe your shirt, too.”
Obligingly, he stripped down to his undershirt. That’s my guy. I may have taken a picture.
Plaster started flying everywhere. Pretty soon Julian had smashed through the wall, revealing a dark hollow space behind it.
Julian backed off while I reached inside. I cannot tell you how many spiderwebs I touched, Bruce. It was disgusting. Finally I pulled out a bunch of old clumped together pages. I can’t help but think they are Tatiana’s old diary pages, the ones she talked about destroying, but they were so water damaged that I couldn’t be sure. I was just wondering if I should tell Julian about the diary—for some reason I haven’t mentioned it to him yet—when he reached into the hole and pulled out a hard wooden board that had been engraved with letters and numbers.
“It’s a Ouija board,” he said. “Dru wanted one for Christmas last year.”
I’ve always thought of Ouija boards as being part of human superstition. Like palmistry, not something that Shadowhunters needed to take seriously. But the sensor was going crazy, beeping these dark red pulses that reminded me of Isabelle’s necklace.
“Should we try to use it?” I asked. Julian frowned. “I don’t know. When I was looking into getting one for Dru, I found out that these things can be kind of…dangerous.”
So I’m writing this right now while I’m lying in bed. Julian is already asleep, with plaster in his hair. He looks so cute. Anyway, we decided that we’d try using the ouija board tomorrow. We’re Shadowhunters, we can deal with ghosts, right?
Goodnight, Bruce. I think I’ll read a little of Tatiana’s diary to put me to sleep. Meanwhile, enjoy the eye candy.
Julian to Magnus
So I know you told me only to get in touch for a “real emergency,” and I think you might have already left for vacation. But we’ve got some ghost trouble here at Chiswick House and we could use a little advice. Just in writing! No need to interrupt your time away! Unless, um, you think it really is an emergency.
Chiswick House is in awful shape in general, so it’s hard to know what’s a real problem and what’s just a hundred years of neglect. Other than one small area nobody’s touched the place since, it seems, the time of Tatiana Blackthorn.
We have some garden gnomes here doing the structural repairs and the big stuff, masonry and framing and so on. I mean, they’re not actually garden gnomes, I think they’re brownies, but they have the big pointy hats and the beards and everything. They’ve been moving pretty slowly, but recently Kieran was here and he had a talk with the foreman (this guy named Round Tom who is not even all that round) and since then things have sped up a lot. And there is a lot less complaining about the work conditions, and a lot less disappearing for the day if the tea runs out for more than five minutes. On the other hand, they’ve started leaving little offerings around intended for “the Un-Seel Laird,” which I gather is Kieran. Not anything Kieran would want, I don’t think. A lot of acorns and pretty rocks, mostly? And the occasional portrait of Kieran in chalk, which let me tell you, it’s a good thing they’re competent at construction because their portraiture could use some work. We’ve been keeping all the stuff in a box for him just in case.
I’m rambling, sorry. It’s just us rattling around in this giant ruin and all we want is for someone to listen to our dull stories about home renovation. But what I actually want to tell you about is the ghost.
I’m sure there are dozens of random spirits going back centuries that have some kind of faint presence in the house—Round Tom hinted as much to me—but there’s definitely some specific one that is actively haunting the place. We’ve had some poltergeist-y stuff. Mostly harmless pranks: vases overturned, drinks spilled, music faintly playing in the distance but originating from nowhere, weird hot spots, weird cold spots, doors slamming, doors closing very slowly on their own. To clarify, I do NOT mean poltergeist as in the movie Dru made me watch. No one has been sucked into evil dimensions or levitated (yet!). Still, it seems like we ought to try to get out ahead of this, so Emma and I have been trying to communicate with the presence directly. Whoever it is, they haven’t responded to us speaking to them, and it’s starting to feel silly to constantly talk in a friendly voice to nobody, like we have an imaginary friend. All that happens is the next morning someone has stacked all the gnomes’ hats into a hat tower and we have to convince the gnomes it wasn’t us.
Lest you think we haven’t tried smarter things than just yelling “Here ghostie ghostie ghostie,” Tiberius sent us a device he’s been working on, like a Sensor for ghosts. I spent some time walking the halls and eventually found a spot along some random corridor where the Sensor went crazy. I busted the wall open with a sledgehammer—somehow I feel like you would approve, although the gnomes did not—and behind the plaster, wedged between two of the beams, was a Ouija board that must go back to at least Tatiana’s time, if not before. There was no planchette, so we made our own out of scrap wood and furniture tacks. Maybe there was something bad about using that instead of something that went with the Ouija board, I don’t know how it works, but in any event, we tried the board and it went really badly.
We tried to do things officially—Emma and I waited until midnight, we got dressed up nicely, and we went down into the cellar. (There are a bunch of rooms down there that are highly spooky and look like they’ve been used for ghost-ish business in the past.) We extinguished witchlights (no electricity down there any more than it’s anywhere else), lit lots of candles. Ghosts love candles, right? We had a bolt of black silk to sit on that Emma found in a trunk somewhere, and we sat on either side of the board and both put our hands on the planchette.
The candles guttered, but most of the windows in the room are smashed, so with the usual draft from outside I’m not sure we can count that as a response.
We heard a scratching sound coming from one of the walls, and we opened up that wall in great excitement, but it turned out to be a badger. Actually, it was a mother badgers and some badger cubs, which was very cute until the mother starting trying to kill us. So we had to interrupt and go get the gnomes to help us and they relocated the badger family to a glade of some kind. (They also issued us a bill for “badger decampment.”)
This was all very disappointing. Emma said that maybe it was rude to ask for the ghost’s name before introducing ourselves.
Well, that got a reaction. As soon as I finished the last “N” the board leapt off the ground and twisted violently around. The planchette went flying and Emma went to go retrieve it from the other end of the room, but then when she came back the board went flying around in the air and, I am sorry to say, we chased it around for probably two full minutes without catching it. Eventually the ghost got bored, I guess, and the Ouija board stopped in midair and shattered into pieces, which fell to the ground. And all the candles went out. (There were sixteen pieces, if that means anything. Emma says no, I said we should mention it anyway just in case.)
So…any advice? Too much ghostly energy for an old Ouija board? Defective board in the first place? Does the ghost want to be left alone? (If so, why does it keep knocking things over?) Did we offend it? There hasn’t been anything like that since, but exploding Ouija board seemed sufficiently threatening that I wanted to get in touch. What do you think is our next step?
Again, I’m really sorry to bother you, but your help would mean a lot to me. I really want to make Blackthorn Hall a place that the Blackthorns can use again, a place that will feel like a second home for all of us. And it would be nice if people in London associated the Blackthorns with a grand manor house rather than an infamous wreck. Which is not going to happen if visitors wake up with their hair tied to the bedposts, or have their suitcases upended on the staircase. In payment, we promise you as much babysitting as you like, whenever you need. Although maybe once we’re no longer living in a collapsing death-trap.
Magnus to Alec
Before anything else, I just want to mention once again that you are by far the handsomest man I have ever met, with the most beautiful blue eyes, and what I love most about you, among so, so many other features, is that you are a man of incalculable understanding, patience, and forgiveness.
Yes, this is our vacation. Yes, you and the kids are lounging on the soft white sands of St Barths, as is good and right. Yes, I have had to dash to London on urgent business involving Blackthorns. Yes, I have been receiving your many supportive texts, accompanied by your many photos in which you look angry while holding umbrella drinks.
No, I will not be back today. You must imagine me saying this with the heaviest of sighs and the most forlorn look. I need one more day. Blackthorn Hall is haunted—which I could have told anyone who had bothered to ask, I’ve never known a more obviously haunted place in my life—and none of the little Blackthorns (who I suppose are no longer quite as little as all that) have had to deal with this kind of ghostiness before.
So again, let me commend you for your forbearance in this time of trial. That is not sarcasm, just formal! I really mean it!
Love you, Alec. See you tomorrow night. The next morning at the absolute latest -
To the Greatest Man Who Has Ever Or Will Ever Live,
It will be tomorrow morning. I was meaning to depart tonight, but it is now very, very late, and I have had no small amount of wine, and these are not the conditions by which I would feel quite safe opening a Portal. It will not do me any good to return to St Barth if I show up on top of the Gustavia Lighthouse.
So since I cannot yet sleep, but must, let me quickly fill you in.
The Blackthorns are fixing up Blackthorn Hall—fancy that—and while I understand they are now properly adults, they are still young enough to use a hundred year old Ouija board they found hidden in the walls. Didn’t have a planchette? Not a problem, we will just make one out of scrap without reference to the wood or the ley-lines or any of the— Sorry. I couldn’t help it, it’s such the Shadowhunter stereotype. Leap before you look. In fact, just leap. Leap whenever and wherever.
As it turns out (spoiler alert!) the spirit of the house—at least the restless one—means no apparent harm and is just your standard everyday “ghost looking for its missing bauble to move on” situation, as you’ll see. But I was more alarmed for it being the house in Chiswick. Many generations of Lightwoods lived in it over many years, and there always seemed a dark shadow over the place. In the mid-19th it was the home of, I’m sorry to say, a very bad Lightwood, definitely one of the worst Lightwoods, and after that, well, its fall from grace was precipitous. I cannot say from what time period this ghost might date, but given its reaction to the name “Blackthorn”, I had my worries.
Anyway, by the time I got to the house, Julian and Emma had managed to cause the Ouija board to, you know, magically shatter into a dozen pieces. I magicked it back—note for future reference, easier to magically repair something that was magically broken in the first place rather than with, say, a hammer—and produced a makeshift but actually calibrated and warded planchette. And burned their planchette in a fire. Outside.
It was quick enough at that point to contact the presence in the house, who was indistinct, probably from being alone for the past hundred-odd years. Let me tell you, Alec love, I was worried then. I was worried that this ghost was someone I knew. Someone I cared about, once. It probably isn’t—most of them would have no reason to be ghosts at all, much less ghosts stuck here—but once the thought occurred to me, I couldn’t put it aside. I tried to ask but you know how ghosts are. “I do not now know you,” it said. Great. But did you know me when you were alive? Just “I do not now know you.”
Anyway the thing was peaceful enough. We finally got around to the topic of why he is a ghost—we got enough of a spoken voice to know the voice is male, at least. He spoke aloud, and firmly. I am bound here by a silver band, he said.
Whether this silver band is a ring, a bracelet, a handcuff, the concept of “the ties that bind,” or a group of robot musicians, I have no idea. But it’s normal enough for a ghost to be bound by an object and to be looking for the thing that binds them. I honestly didn’t get a negative vibe from the guy. I’m… let’s say ninety percent sure that it’s not the aforementioned Bad Lightwood, at least. I told Julian and Emma there was no harm in their keeping an eye out for a silver band during their cleanup of the house, but not to worry themselves sick over it. This felt like wise advice at the time, although we had all had quite a bit of wine at that point.
The wine was in fact drunk continually throughout the evening, as there are some salvageable bottles from the cellar—rather amazingly, although I don’t know, maybe Shadowhunters have wine preservation runes somewhere near the back of the Gray Book. And drinking red wine while talking to a ghost just seemed, I don’t know, the right pairing? But of course now I have a splitting headache from a combination of sulfites and light necromancy. I am going to put myself to long-overdue sleep, and then tomorrow at six in the morning your time please tell le garçon I would like waiting for me a café allongé, very hot and a sidecar, very cold. I will then entertain the children for the rest of the day while you, my love, my all, take a nap and join us whenever you please.
With all my love, all my kissin’, you don’t know what you been missin’,
Emma To Bruce
I woke up this morning to find it was an improbably beautiful day with bright blue skies and those cute little white scudding clouds. “All right,” I thought. “There is no way I am spending this gorgeous day in wonderful London inside this falling-down house, scrubbing the floors and brooding about ghosts. The question: how to convince Julian that we should go out and have fun?”
I marched upstairs and found Julian drinking coffee in the kitchen. I said, “Jules. You know that thing you want me to do, that I’ve been refusing to do? If you come out and have a good time with me today in London, I’ll do it.”
A big grin spread over his face. He said, “OKAY!” In fact, he said it as he was already running out the door. I had to get him to come back for a jacket.
Bruce, we had an absolutely great time in London. We took a boat ride down the Thames. We went to a costume shop. We saw the Tower and went to Fortnum and Mason’s and had tea. Julian ate all my cucumber sandwiches because I hate them. We went on the London Eye, which is like a more spectacular version of the Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier. Demons did not attack this time, and Julian booked a whole pod so that we could snuggle and cuddle.
In the middle of the snuggling and cuddling, Julian stopped and stared into my eyes with an intense look. I could tell he had something to ask me, and for a moment I thought—well, it doesn’t matter what I thought.
“Emma,” he said, “what would you think about moving to London with me?”
I said, “What do you mean? We’re already here.”
He explained that he was thinking, if we got Blackthorn Hall all fixed up, we could live in it until Dru or Ty or Tavvy (or all three of them) grow up and want to move there. He explained that Helen and Aline were doing a great job running the LA Institute and that they don’t really need us. Besides, they’re thinking of starting a family soon so maybe they don’t want so many people running around the Institute. I said, “But I thought you liked Los Angeles, and practically everyone we know is there.” He pointed out that that wasn’t totally true. In London, we’d be closer to Ty, and pretty much the same distance from the east coast, where Dru is, and of course Mark and Cristina are in New York half the time, too. I think he could tell that I wasn’t sure what to say, because he added, “It’s really about us having a home, one that we make together. Being grown up, and having a grown up kind of life.”
I joked around, saying we were still pretty young, and he said, “I know that most people who get together when they’re teenagers break up. They get older and they change. I just want us to go through the important things together, so we change together. Does that make sense?”
I told him it did though I was pretty freaked out he even mentioned BREAKING UP as a concept. So I kissed him, which distracted us both, and when our pod came to a stop on the ground everyone cheered and whistled. The English are more lustful than I had previously suspected.
I was exhausted by the time we got home and discovered that our ghost friend had been active in our absence. In the dust on the dining room floor were written the words
FIND THE DEVIL TAVERN
Now what on earth does that mean? Though honestly, we were both kind of pleased to see the message. At least it’s a clue so that we can begin to unravel the mystery of our ghost and his silver band.
PS Bruce, I know you’re dying to find out what it was that Julian wanted me to let him do that I have been refusing to do. Remember when I said we went to a costume shop? Well, apparently Dru made Julian watch The Hunger Games with her the last time we were home, and he really really wanted to paint me like this.
The things we do for love.
Emma To Jem
I feel bad writing to you about this out of the blue, but you said it was okay to get in touch with you anytime for advice. And you always give good advice, but I can’t help feeling like beyond that, maybe you might have some familiarity here that could be helpful?
So, as you know, Julian and I have taken on the gigantic task of renovating Blackthorn Hall. AND, you probably are totally unsurprised to hear, we found a ghost. (I say this because everyone else who was around back when this house was being taken care of, are also not surprised there’s a ghost.)
Good news: ghost is not unfriendly (or at least not violent). He’s just looking for the “silver band” that binds him. Not unusual, lots of ghosts are bound to an earthly object.
Bad news: ghost can’t be identified as a specific person, so could be pretending to not be violent. Also, “silver band” could be any of a thousand things.
I suppose we can just put aside anything we find that might be what he’s looking for, but that seems pretty unlikely to work. (After all, he hasn’t found the “silver band” in the house and he’s been haunting it for however long.)
We did get one direct clue from the ghost. He likes to communicate by scrawling in dust on the floor, and his last message told us to Find the Devil Tavern. Ok. A little research turns up that it’s a Downworlder speakeasy, heavily glamoured, that’s been around for hundreds of years, in London’s Old City. (It was apparently a real tavern once, and Samuel Johnson had a drinking club there. Wild times, I gather.) Jules looked it up and apparently it’s still in operation. It’s not far from the Institute, actually, though whether that has to do with the ghost or is just a coincidence we don’t know.
Anyway, Julian and I went to check out the place. It’s a glamoured pub, of course. From the outside you pretty much just see a bank and one of those blue plaques they put on historical sites.
It was clear the mundanes walking by couldn’t see the entrance. But we could, of course. So we went in.
Inside, it’s a pretty normal pub, it turns out, though they make you go through a whole rigamarole to get in, they’re really leaning into the speakeasy thing. You actually now have to go into the mundane bank, which must think it has the weirdest clientele of any bank branch in England. You have to mention “the Devil” to the teller, who then gives you a key made of salt that opens a panel in the lift that reveals a button with little devil horns on it. Which takes you down to the pub. (The key disintegrates when you use it, obviously.) I have no idea what happens when some random mundane says, “what the devil happened to my money,” or something.
Anyway, that all sounds very complicated but in practice it was easy enough; rather than trying for some complicated password Julian only said casually, “I’m here for the Devil,” and the teller handed him the key. She barely even looked interested, she was doing a sudoku on her phone or something and just kind of handed the key over from a tray of them. Maybe Londoners just don’t blink at bizarre very old London stuff.
We came in and looked around and then eventually the barman asked if we wanted anything and we left. They obviously recognized us as Shadowhunters and were not super-pleased to see us. But in that short visit we didn’t see anything in plain view that had anything to do with a silver band, or the house in Chiswick, or the Blackthorns and Lightwoods who lived there. The place could be any ancient London pub, very old, dark wood, stained glass, and just an overwhelming crowd of drunk Downworlders. We had, it seems, interrupted a retirement party for one of their regulars, a kelpie. I know what you’re going to ask, and yes, the kelpie was in a big tub of water. His name was Pickles—I know!—and he kept yelling about how he was “starting a new life under the sea.” So of course they thought we were basically the cops come to bust up their party, and didn’t want us there. But I don’t know what we could have done even if we stayed. We’d been hoping we’d see the place and it would just spark some kind of ideas about silver bands and the like, but — no dice.
So I thought, since you and Tessa were both around in the earlier better days of Blackthorn Hall, once Lightwood House—does the Devil Tavern ring any bells for you? Can you think of any connection between this random Downworlder pub and the people who lived in the house in Chiswick? If not, no worries, but I thought I would at least ask. If you have any thoughts about the identity of our ghost, based on the Devil Tavern thing or anything else I’ve said, please get in touch and let us know! Cleaning out the house definitely includes cleaning out the ghosts, but also, you know, it feels like the right thing to do to help him out if we can.
My love to Tessa and Kit and Mina, and love from us here!
Tessa to Maryse
As one mother to another, I’m writing to you for advice. It’s been many many years since I was raising children, and when I say many years, I mean more than a century. And now I find myself in that position again. Although we have not talked frequently, I have often thought what a wonderful mother you must have been and continue to be. After all, your children have turned out so wonderfully. Isabelle is so brave, Alec such a leader, and Jace, well, I can only tell you that I know what an excellent example of a Herondale is, and he is one.
I also know that you have experienced profound loss and grief, and that you understand it.
I am writing to you about Kit. He too is a Herondale, and I believe that he will be an excellent example of one as well. But like all Herondale men (and the girls, too, believe me I know!) he is very private and secretive. On the whole Jem and I wish nothing but to respect his privacy. But when comes the time when worry requires one, as a parent, to intervene?
A few nights ago after dinner I stopped by Kit’s room to give him his phone (he is forever losing it and leaving it somewhere!), and I found that he was not there. Glancing out the window, I could see him outside, standing in our front garden. He had his back to me and appeared to be staring off into the distance, but I could tell by the way he was standing and the movements of his shoulders that he was agitated. Concerned, I followed him outside. I came up behind him quietly, not wanting to startle him. Perhaps I came too quietly. I realized immediately that he was talking to a ghost—I’ve had experiences of such things before. As is always the case in this kind of situation, I could hear only his side of the conversation.
Kit said, “If you keep trying to talk to me about this, I’m not going to be able to see you anymore.” Then he said, “Of course I believe in forgiveness. But some things are so terrible that you never want to revisit them.” There was a long pause. I thought maybe it was over. And then he said, “Don’t you understand? Everytime you bring him up, it tears another piece out of my heart.” Then he turned around, and of course saw me, standing on the path outside the house. He didn’t say anything, just gave me a sort of betrayed look and ran inside.
The next day of course he just pretended that nothing had happened. I just don’t know what to do. Should I leave him alone to work through this on his own? I always figured there must be ghosts at Cirenworth—Kit has informed me that there is a ghost dog that he plays with sometimes, a retriever I think —but I can’t imagine any of them as malicious or hurtful. And indeed it didn’t sound as though he were afraid of the ghost, but as though the ghost brought back dark memories of his past. Perhaps of his father? I just don’t know what to do. Jem thinks we should let him work it out on his own, as he is a teenager, but then I remember my first two children, when they were teenagers, how there were times when they did need my help. (I am very much hoping that Kit is not having a tempestuous affair with a ghost, as I’m not sure I could go through that again.)
It’s keeping me up nights worrying. If there’s any advice that you have, I’d love to hear it.
I’m enclosing a picture of Jace and Clary with Kit and Mina, last time they visited. They look so happy!
Jem to Emma
Thank you for writing to keep me apprised of the situation at Blackthorn Hall, and this haunting in particular. It means a great deal to me that you’re willing to share what’s going on. I’m glad we’ve moved beyond the days when you felt you had to conceal your more wild schemes from the older generation, myself included. I hope you know that you need keep no secrets from me, no matter how outlandish those schemes are. Secrets have caused you and Julian so much heartbreak in the past, I want you to know that you can tell me anything and I will not judge you.
So you say you are helping a ghost? That could be a noble pursuit, and a compassionate one, but I must urge you to be careful. Blackthorn Hall has a history that at times involved unsavory characters and sinister magic, and if a spirit truly is haunting the manor, it may not be benevolent. The fact that Magnus sensed no ill will eases my mind a great deal, but I would still urge you to think carefully about what this ghost asks of you in seeking its freedom. It may not mean you any overt harm, but that does not mean that no harm will come to you.
As for the Devil Tavern—I do indeed know it. It has been a Downworlder haunt for many centuries, and for some time, at the early part of the last century, it was something of a refuge for people Tessa and I cared about very much. I do not want to tell you too much about them — it is painful to cast our thoughts back to that time, for it is a reminder of so much that has been lost, and of those we could not save. But I also think it may not help you — it seems to me best that you go into this search without preconceptions or expectations of what you may find.
Why do I feel this? I can only say that during my many years of being a Silent Brother, I felt a great kinship for shades: for the dead and those who haunted, and for the memories that tethered them to earth. I too was tethered by memories in those times. They were what kept me human and able to return to this life I have now, that I love so much.
So I will not tell you of names, or personalities — they may not be relevant to your search at all, but you must go forward, to find that out. And that is why I will tell you this: you saw only a little of the Devil Tavern. There are a set of rather blackened stairs behind the bar, and up those stairs there is a secret room, one that was closed off decades ago. It is possible that whatever your ghost is looking for may be in there. If you wish to gain entry to the hidden room — and a warmer reception at the Devil in general — show the bartender your family rings. Say the names: Blackthorn. Carstairs. They will matter.
I hope you will keep me apprised of what you discover, and the next steps in your adventure. I wish to know, though there is some part of me that fears what you might find in that room, and what it may say about the fates of those I loved in the past. I hope that I am wrong. I hope that this tale will have a happy ending. I know this much—this ghost is lucky to have determined souls such as yourself and Julian helping it to find rest.
Church has informed me that it is, in fact, time for dinner, and naturally I must attend to his every whim. I hope that you and Julian are having a good time settling in at Blackthorn Hall, in spite of the restive ghost and the many years of neglect the place has suffered. You are correct that it does not surprise me that a ghost is there. The past haunts that place, a story of things done and things left undone. It is possible that by bringing love and warmth into that place, you will close that chapter of neglect, and open a new one, of infinite possibility.
I believe in you, Emma. When I see you, I see Carstairs past; I see bravery, and the flame of Cortana. Remember that you are of the steel and temper of those who have gone before you. I hope that I will see you again soon, and that when I do I will have the strength to tell you of some of them, of a girl with fire-bright hair, and her brother, and those who came before and after them.
Emma To Bruce
We went back to Devil Tavern today with Jem’s advice (bring family rings, show to bartender, gain access to secret room). I don’t know, the Devil Tavern seems to really like elaborate ways of getting in places? So we went in and there was some confusion because when we were there before I heard one of the customers call the bartender “Ernie,” so we asked one of the waitresses for Ernie, and she said there was no Ernie. But then, because we were Shadowhunters she thought we were there to question Ernie about something, so I figured she was just covering up for Ernie and I said, “No, it’s okay, you can tell Ernie he’s not in any trouble,” and the waitress looked even more baffled and said there was no Ernie…we went around like that a few times.
Anyway eventually the bartender comes back up from the basement or wherever he was, and he explains that he is Fred, not Ernie, but that for many many years the bartender was named Ernie, his grandfather and his great-grandfather at least were both named Ernie. So most of the vampires and faeries who have been coming since the Time of Ernies have just stubbornly refused to learn any of the newer bartenders’ names. He tried, when he was a younger man, but they just laughed and said, “That’s a good one, Ernie.” He sounded kind of sad when he said it. I guess everyone has their weird stuff they have to deal with.
We explained to Not Ernie about what Jem had told us, and we showed him our rings. He said yeah, there’s an old room that used to be used by Shadowhunters for clandestine meetings, upstairs. There are instructions left that go back a hundred years that say the room has to be maintained for the use of Shadowhunters, even though none have come around for a long time. They take it really seriously though.
He brought us the key from somewhere—one of those old skeleton key type keys you never see anymore—and we went upstairs and let ourselves in. Let me tell you, Bruce, they do not think being obligated to “maintain” the room means they are obligated to “dust” the room. Absolute nightmare for an asthmatic.
The room is still intact, though—actually, it’s more like a tiny apartment (a “bedsit,” Julian adorably called it), with a tiny bedroom off of a sitting area with a table in the middle and a rather shabby couch. It’s not like the rest of the tavern at all, it feels like you’d imagine a study room in the oldest library at the oldest college in Oxford would feel. Books everywhere, lots of big chunky carved wood, people’s initials carved into the table (note for people scratching their initials into tables: include your last initials! It makes it much easier for your descendants to figure out who you were! There could be a million people named “J!”).
There was nothing obviously ghostly, so Julian used the Sensor we got from Ty. It didn’t find much, but eventually it reacted near a particular book on one of the shelves built into the wall. We pulled it out and it seems to be a handwritten book, with a really elaborate stitched cover. It was called The Beautiful Cordelia and it’s by “L.H.” I would bet any amount of money “H” stands for Herondale. But there was nothing magical about the book. I mean, I didn’t read it yet; maybe it weaves a truly magical tale. But the Sensor didn’t react much to the book itself, there was nothing in between any of the pages, the ink wasn’t sparkly, etc.
Eventually we thought to kneel down and look into the space on the shelf where the book had come from, and sure enough, there was a little nook carved deeper into the wall. Julian and I agreed that in that nook was definitely…a ton of spiders. So we rock-paper-scissorsed for it, I lost, and stuck my hand back there. Luckily, no spiders. Instead, a surprise: an antique metal flask! Like the kind a gentleman would keep in his coat pocket. It is silver—well, at least the color is silver. It might be pewter. It is also definitely not a “band.”
BUT. The Sensor went bananas. We put the flask on the table and the Sensor next to it and it wailed like crazy. It looks like a normal flask to me, kind of blackened with time, and it’s not like when we opened it, a ghost slithered out. I don’t know. It was empty, and the Sensor didn’t react to anything else in the room. We hung out there for about half an hour even after we were done, though. The place did feel comfortable, it must have been really great in its day. I thought I might go back sometime and offer to pay Fred if he would have it dusted and cleaned. There’s probably stuff in there the London Institute would want, too. But that’s for when we’re done with Blackthorn House (and its ghost).
We couldn’t think of anything to do with the flask there at the Tavern, so we left and locked it up and returned the key. We brought the flask into the house, and Julian went to get the silver polish. When we cleaned the flask up, we saw that it had a pretty, elaborate tracery pattern of leaves and flowers on it, and was monogrammed. Not a Herondale this time. Not a Blackthorn, either. The initials were M.F.
Julian is squinting angrily at the witchlight I’m holding to write this. I guess it is pretty late. Good night, Bruce. Good night, groovy bedroom. Good night, ghost. Good night, mysterious flask.
Good night, Julian my love.
Emma to Bruce
It’s tea time. Now that Jules and I are living in England we are trying to embrace the concept of tea time, though as you already know I prefer to take my caffeine in the form of chocolate. (Unlike Cristina, who is literally addicted to coffee.) Chocolate chip cookies, brownie bars, ice cream—any form of chocolate is welcome and acceptable, and there is excellent chocolate in England. I have become addicted to Galaxy bars.
Julian is outside talking to the contractors — I can see Round Tom waving his arms around about something — so I thought I’d take a moment to fill you in on what happened since my last entry.
If you recall, we found a silver flask at the Devil Tavern that seemed to set off all Ty’s Ghost Detector alarms. It was a beautiful flask … etched with flowers and butterfly wings, and the initials MF. We brought it back to Blackthorn Hall and had a look at it in the bright light of day, where I immediately remembered where I’d seen that butterfly design before.
On the Fairchild family ring.
I know this because of Clary. (I don’t spend a lot of time staring at her jewelry, Bruce, but Shadowhunters are pretty into family symbols, generally speaking. And there was that time I borrowed her jacket in Faerie and then went to Thule and everyone thought she was dead because her ring was in the pocket…but that’s a story for another time. I’ve got enough to document in the present.) So Jules and I agreed that whoever owned this flask was likely a Fairchild whose first name began with M. Genius-level Sherlock detecting, I know.
Over a lunch of toasted cheese sandwiches we decided it would be better to do a little more diligent research rather than diving right in and asking the ghost ARE YOU A FAIRCHILD, Y/N. So we sent a fire message to Helen and Aline. There are several old Shadowhunter family histories in the LA Institute library, and we asked them to have a look for Fairchilds who had first names beginning with the letter M. I guess Helen was up early, because she got back to us pretty quickly with a short list of candidates. Medea Fairchild, Myles Fairchild, and Matthew Fairchild. It wasn’t clear from the records whether any of them are ancestors of Clary, but I am curious! (I personally hope Medea is, because that is a badass mythological name.) Anyway it didn’t take us long to nominate a candidate for Owner of the Silver Flask. (Drumroll, please, Bruce.) The candidate is….Matthew Fairchild!
We deduced this because Medea died in 1802 at the age of seventy-eight, and Myles died in 1857 at fifty-nine. So, given the timeframe we’re looking at—Jem said his friends were hanging out at the Devil Tavern during the early part of the last century—Matthew, born in 1886, was the only one who fit the bill. (There wasn’t a death date for him, apparently, which doesn’t mean he lived forever or died at birth, records from around that time tend to be spotty.)
Without further ado, we returned to the dining room to contact our mystery ghost. I swear, even though we’ve swept it multiple times, that room just seems to get dustier and dustier. I’d left some papers from the Blackthorn archives (which is a kind way of saying “from the pile of junk with occasional interesting stuff in it”) stacked on the dining table, and they were all in disarray. It made me wonder if the ghost was trying to read them in our absence.
Julian cleared his throat. “Attention, ghost,” he began.
“Maybe they don’t like being called ‘ghost’,” I hissed under my breath. “Maybe we should refer to them as ‘Deceased Person.’”
“That sounds medical,” said Julian. “Like we’re in a morgue.”
We both became dispirited about the idea of being in a morgue. After a moment’s thought, Julian said, “How about wraith or phantom?”
The curtains stirred even though the windows weren’t open. Apparently phantom was the popular choice.
“Matthew?” I said, slowly. “Matthew Fairchild?”
It’s a nice name, Matthew. I thought about Matthew Fairchild, born in 1886, and wondered what he’d been like. Wondered if all that was left of him was a breath of air stirring the curtains in our dining room.
Though the curtains weren’t stirring right now. They were utterly still.
“Are you Matthew Fairchild?” Jules asked, clearly deciding we needed to be more specific.
The curtains gave what I can only describe as an annoyed little shake. This stirred up some more dust, which made the air hazy. I heard a noise behind me and whirled around. The stack of papers on the table tipped over. Papers were being flung in all directions, by an unseen, angry hand.
“So — you’re not Matthew Fairchild?” I said, fighting the urge to sneeze. “Look, it’s fine if you aren’t — we just want to help — we’ll keep looking —”
The papers stopped flying. The room was quiet again. Hushed, even, like the inside of an Institute. I guessed our phantom friend had departed and I realized I was disappointed. I’d really been hoping we’d find an answer …
Then Julian laid his hand on my arm. And pointed. Goosebumps exploded across my skin. In the dust on the floor, an invisible finger was writing words — writing in the old-fashioned cursive that had become familiar since our arrival at Blackthorn Hall.
One by the one, the words appeared, the letters shaky and spiky, as if the ghost were agitated.
Read the diary
The imagine of Tatiana’s diary sprang into my mind. I knew, somehow, that was the diary the ghost was referring to. More words appeared:
READ THE DIARY
READ THE DIARY
READ THE DIARY
“But I have,” I said, without thinking. “I have read the diary.”
Julian turned to look at me, a blank expression of surprise spreading across his face. “Emma,” he said. “What diary?”
Julian to Mark
Mark to Julian
Kieran to Julian
To: Julian Blackthorn, Master of Blackthorn Hall
From: The Court of Unseelie
My dear Brother,
Mark has shared with me, with your permission I gather, the contents of your last letter to him as they regard Round Tom and the manor house. I have investigated what you ask, and it unfortunately falls to me to agree with yon Thomas: Blackthorn Hall is suffering under a curse.
I am sure that from your perspective, the bad news is less the fact of the house’s curse, and more the additional charges that Round Tom has added for the repairs and updates that his team is performing. It must especially vex you that these new prices do not include the breaking of the curse, but are only meant to cover the increased risks for the workers and the extra protections they will need to take.
I have already taken steps to seek a solution, but pray let me explain the situation, perhaps somewhat more cogently than R. Tom was able.
First, please know that Tom’s unwillingness to break the curse in fact is a prime example of his virtue (or, Mark has suggested, his fear of the office I hold; I choose to think it the former). The company working on Blackthorn Hall is not at all qualified to address such a complex thing as a curse. In this situation, many of the fey (though I am loath to admit it) would claim they could solve the problem, and would charge you enormously for a task they could not, in truth, accomplish. That Tom has not done so is a credit to him.
I appreciated your suggestion that the curse and the specter haunting the house could be one and the same. Unfortunately, when I communicated with Round Tom through my sources—
(Mark has interfered to admonish me for not simply saying General Winter; my apologies. Speaking plainly in written correspondence can be remarkably difficult for one used to the politics of Faerie.)
Unfortunately, after communicating with Round Tom via General Winter, I have been assured beyond a doubt that the ghost and the curse are different articles. Round Tom’s words, I believe, were to the effect that,
“Old houses always have ghosts. We don’t mind ghosts, and they do not interfere with our work. A curse, however, does, and Blackthorn Hall is cursed.”
He also made clear that it had been his impression that you already knew—that when the house’s owner shares the same name as the house, they likely already know enough of the history to be aware of a curse. Of course, he doesn’t know anything about the history of the Blackthorn family, and he should not have made such an assumption.
I pressed him to lower the price anyway, as a personal favor, and explained that the circumstances of your taking ownership were quite unexpected. I am sorry to say that he could not be moved. He produced a veritable library’s worth of treaties, bylaws, and charters to support his contention that these protections for his men were guaranteed by the Courts of Faerie, and in fact, he is correct.
I am therefore in the regretful position of suggesting that you focus your efforts on discovering and lifting the curse. While it is true that Round Tom and his crew will be unable to assist you, I know you to be a well-connected member of the Nephilim, and among your friends and companions many warlocks, Silent Brothers, and so on are to be found. I have every confidence in you and Emma; surely no curse can go long unlifted once the two of you have committed yourselves to its end. I have enclosed a brochure that might be helpful, as it is intended for those who have just discovered their dwelling-place is cursed. (Mark tells me one should never utter the words “I have enclosed a brochure” in personal correspondence, but I am not sure how else to word what I am doing. Perhaps “Lo, a pamphlet” would have been more appropriate.)
Thank you also for the delicious cake that you sent. While it does not stir the wild blood of my heart as faerie food does, it was a delicious accompaniment to a pot of strong tea, and we enjoyed it here muchly. Mark has informed me that this cake was created by a mundane, Victoria Sponge. All credit to Lady Sponge, and to you for sharing her artistry with us!
Mark and Cristina send their love. To that I attach my own, and remain etc. etc. Hail Kraig.
Emma to Bruce
It’s been a quiet couple of days, and I’ve hated every single second. After I gave Jules the diary, he retreated to the half-painted ballroom to read it. When he’d come out, he’d look thoughtful, sometimes serious, but he didn’t want to talk about what he’d read. And Bruce — neither did I. Even though I knew Jules was upset with me for not telling him about the diary, I couldn’t explain why I hadn’t. And when I tried to think about why I hadn’t, my mind just skipped over the question, like a needle over a broken groove in a record.
We talked about other things. Round Tom, the curse on the house, a letter from Ty, a letter from Luke at the Academy about some trouble Dru got into with her roommate. (I feel like this is a good sign that she likes her roommate. It’s always good to have someone to be bad with.) But there was something faraway in Julian’s eyes, something distant and unapproachable.
I missed him.
It made me think of the bad times, when Julian and I couldn’t really talk, and every time I wanted to talk to him I couldn’t say what I felt, that I loved him, that I always would love him, because it was illegal and impossible. I had to fold the real meaning of what I wanted to say into ordinary conversation, so when I’d say How are you, or Are you using the car today, I’d really mean, I love you, I love you.
I was sitting on a stool in the kitchen this afternoon, marking boxes. Some of the old stuff in the manor we’re keeping to make a permanent part of the house. Some of it is getting packed up for the kids to go through, see if there’s anything they want to keep. There’s an old clock I think Ty will like, and some tin toy soldiers for Tavvy, and lots of creepy old lace for Dru to examine. I was kind of listlessly marking the contents of each box with a pen when Julian came into the kitchen, an odd expression on his face.
“Ask me about the diary, Emma,” he said.
I started a little. He looked so strange, and a little pale (maybe that’s just lack of sun … sorry, England!) So I put my pen down and asked him how reading the diary was going.
“I don’t remember,” he said, and then closed his eyes. When he opened them again they were blazing, like someone lit a fire behind that gorgeous blue-green color I love so much. “Except I do. I remember. But my mind doesn’t want me to say so. Mark texted me,” he added, and I nodded along, like I knew what this had to do with anything. “He said the diary was probably enchanted. And of course it is. Don’t you see? There’s a slippery sort of enchantment on it, one that makes you not want to talk about it after you’ve read it, or even think about it that much.”
Of course. It made so much sense — why I never seemed to remember to tell Jules about the diary, or anyone else; why I kept it hidden under the bed instead of in plain sight on the nightstand. I exhaled a shuddery breath. “I feel so stupid —“
“No.” Jules was across the room to me in a flash. He took my face between his hands, and a shiver went up my spine. He looked so serious, so intense. Jules had to grow up so fast, and in moments like this he almost scares me with how adult he seems — not that either of us are children, and we’ve been through a lot more than most people our age, but there’s something about his presence that he can summon up sometimes, something commanding.
It’s pretty hot, actually.
“No,” he said again. He gently stroked my cheekbone with his thumb. “Emma. It was a spell. It made you not think about the diary, it literally pulled the thoughts out of your mind — I know because it’s been happening to me, too. You can’t blame yourself. You can blame me — I should have guessed what was going on. I was too busy worrying that you were keeping something from me, when I should have known better.” His voice dropped, low and raspy. “Be angry at me,” he said. “I deserve it.”
I turned my head, kissed the palm of his hand. Felt the shiver that went through him. “There’s nothing to be angry about,” I whispered. “Just … “
“Take me to bed,” I said. I blushed, too. I don’t usually say that kind of thing but I didn’t care at the moment. His eyes widened and he pulled me right off the stool, lifted me up in his arms. I wrapped my legs around his waist, grabbed the lapels of his shirt, and kissed him. He groaned and kissed me back and then he was carrying me through the house, and we were kissing like we couldn’t breathe otherwise. He kicked open the door of the bedroom and we fell on the bed together …
And that’s it, Bruce. No more details for you. Suffice it to say that it was a while later and the sun had almost set when we started talking again, at least in words of more than one syllable. We were tangled up in the paisley sheets, and Jules was leaning over me, propped on one elbow. I was dancing my fingers up and down his arm, which was hard with muscle (thank you, Shadowhunter training.)
“Well,” I said. “That was nice, but I’m not sure it totally solved our problem.”
“Nice?” Julian looked outraged. “Puppies are nice. Fuzzy pajamas are nice. Kraig’s retirement party was nice. That was …”
“Spectacular,” I said. “There, are you happy?”
“Spectacular is a start.”
He grinned. “No. It doesn’t solve the problem. The diary has a spell on it, and we shouldn’t mess with it until the spell is off. I think we should go to the Shadow Market. See if we can find someone willing to remove the enchantment.”
“You don’t want to ask Magnus?”
“We can’t keep bothering Magnus.” He sat up, which provided me with a nice view. I enjoyed it for a while while he rummaged in the drawer of his nightstand. He turned back to me, holding a gift-wrapped package. He was wearing a serious expression. “I meant to give you this for Valentine’s Day,” he said. “But I don’t want to wait. I know you said there’s nothing to be angry about, but I’m still so sorry, Emma. I trust you, entirely. There’s never been anyone I trusted more.”
He gave me the package, which was good because I thought otherwise I might cry. It had been an emotional day. The present turned out to be a gorgeously framed picture of the two of us on the London Eye; I couldn’t even figure out how he’d gotten it framed, or when.
“We look so happy,” I said, delighted.
“I always want you to be that happy,” Julian said. “I want to make you that happy. And I’ll spend my life doing it.”
Then I did cry, and he kissed me, and well, that’s all you need to know, Bruce. Maybe I’ll tell you about the Shadow Market when we go. Until then …
Julian To Magnus
Hi Magnus, it’s Julian Blackthorn. (I know, you told me just “Julian” is fine, but habits are hard to break.) You had said you wanted updates on what was happening with Blackthorn Manor, so here are some of those. More than you probably expected, actually.
First off, Hypatia Vex says hello. So that probably tells you from the start how things are going. She also says that you should contact her regarding some kind of money you owe her, but I said I didn’t want to be in the middle of any of that and only said I would mention it. (I believe she said you “welshed on a bet,” which I had to look up. (a) It doesn’t sound like something you would do, and (b) it seems offensive to the Welsh?)
We saw Hypatia because we went to the London Shadow Market, and we went to the Shadow Market because, in addition to all the other mysterious business at the house—a ghost, a curse, a lot of bad vibes overall—it turns out we also have an enchanted diary. It belonged to a Tatiana Blackthorn, née Lightwood, back in the 1870s. Emma has been reading it since we got here, but it has some kind of spell on it that prevented her from telling anyone about it. Even before we got to the Shadow Market, Emma and I both forgot about the diary a couple times each. Luckily the other one still remembered. Eventually I wrote “REMEMBER THE DIARY” in huge colorful letters on some posterboard and hung it up so we see it when we first wake up.
But that’s not a long-term solution, so we took it to the Shadow Market to find someone to disenchant the thing. Hypatia has a kind of outpost of her magic shop that she sets up in the Market, and we were relieved to find someone we knew—I wasn’t eager to hand over an ensorcelled Shadowhunter item to just anyone. As you’d probably guess, she did not seem happy to see us, but that’s kind of Hypatia’s thing. And no one is ever happy to see Shadowhunters at a Shadow Market, of course. We tried to look as casual as possible but it’s not like we can tell everyone, “Don’t worry! We’re not here to raid the place!” We did see a few stands suddenly close for the day as we approached, including one that sold a potion that was guaranteed to “put werewolf hair on your chest.” I have to wonder, is that actual werewolf hair shaved off an actual werewolf, or is it supposed to just make you look hairy like a werewolf?) I couldn’t ask because the stall was closed. You know how it is.
Anyway, for all her grousing about Shadowhunters only turning up when they needed something and so on, Hypatia was helpful enough once we explained what was going on. I think she couldn’t resist the puzzle of it. She took the diary in the back and, I guess, did some disenchanting. When she came back, she had good news and bad news. Good news: the diary was no longer enchanted. Bad news: being disenchanted triggered a failsafe spell which caused all the text to degenerate into Purgatic script. Someone really didn’t want that diary read.
Hypatia agreed to translate the diary, albeit for a significant fee (though it is a drop in the bucket compared to all the other costs of fixing the house). One thing: she said it would be kind of slow to do. Apparently the act of translating from demon scripts saps the translator’s energy and they can only do so much before they have to rest. I did not know that! (And if it turns out it’s not true, and Hypatia is only messing with us, please let me know.)
So provided Hypatia keeps her end of the deal, we should know more about the diary soon. It feels like we have all these puzzle pieces but we have no idea how to fit them together, or if we’re missing pieces, or if they’re even from the same puzzle. Is Tatiana’s diary related to the ghost? Are either of them related to the curse? Or is this house just totally piled up with bad magic?
Then on our way out of the Shadow Market there was another surprise: Ty’s ghost-modified Sensor started going crazy as soon as we left. We thought it must be something in the Market and went back in, but no, the signal stopped. We followed it out and it took us to Southwark Cathedral, which is just down the road from the Market. It still had a whole bunch of tourists visiting, so we got to do the classic Shadowhunter thing, glamour up and sneak in. The Sensor took us to the Nephilim weapons cache (in a niche under an alabaster statue of somebody-or-other) where we found…a weapon. I know, amazing, right? But this was obviously not just some generic weapon that had been left in the cache; it was beautiful and elaborate and looked like it could be worn ceremonially. It’s a curved dagger, Middle Eastern in origin (I am no expert on weapons from the region, unfortunately, and will have to check some references to get the specific kind), and there’s beautiful calligraphy all along the blade in Arabic script. (Of course, there are probably twenty common languages that use Arabic script; I don’t know which one this is.)
I’ve got some pictures and am going to write to Ty to see what he can find out about the dagger. It doesn’t seem like it goes with the flask at all, and I have no idea why it would have been left in the cathedral. The mysteries continue. This house is, uh, more of a fixer-upper than we originally thought.
Emma sends her love, and please give our love to Alec and the kiddos. Let me know if you have any thoughts and hope you’re finally getting a chance to relax a bit.
Emma To Bruce
Hey Bruce. Kind of a bizarre night. Sorry if I seem a little shaken up.
So we found—or I guess Ty’s Sensor found—this dagger in the weapons cache at Southwark Cathedral. Which is pretty random since we were just in the area because of the Shadow Market. (I guess whoever put the dagger there was probably also in the area for the Shadow Market, come to think of it.)
I write to you tonight by witchlight, sitting in the hallway outside our bedroom. Which is very creepy in itself, because basically everywhere in this house is creepy except our bedroom, at this point. (Well, some of it is not creepy because it looks like a construction site, but whatever.) I couldn’t sleep at all, and I didn’t want to keep Julian awake.
First the good news: Ty was awake, and we weren’t even home (to be fair, it takes a solid hour to go between Chiswick and Southwark) before he had texted Julian a translation of the text on the dagger. Turns out it’s Farsi. Julian read it out loud:
I wanted so much to have a gleaming dagger, that each of my ribs became a dagger.
He grinned at me. “Hot,” he said. “Reminds me of you.”
“You mean, when I was exclusively driven by thoughts of revenge?” I said.
He looked hurt. “No,” he said. “You just like a good dagger.”
“Not sure I would turn all my ribs into daggers, though,” I said. “Ribs seem important to keep inside your body.”
“One rib?” suggested Julian.
Well, maybe one rib.
We didn’t get home until after midnight, but there was no way we were going to bed without showing the dagger to the ghost. We didn’t even have to discuss it, we just immediately went to the dining room.
We’ve been wrestling with how to address our ghost. He’s often quite moody so it’s hard to know what name he prefers. Julian’s been going with “Spirit,” like Ebenezer Scrooge. You know, “Spirit, show me no more!”
Anyway, Julian said something like, “Spirit, we wish your attention. We have something to show you.” The candles all flared up in response, which was a neat trick, though it did not make things less creepy.
We put the dagger on the table and asked the ghost if it was the owner of the dagger, or at least recognized it. Which was a long shot, given that it responded so negatively to the flask. But it seemed like the place to start.
Suddenly the wind picked up and all the candle flames went sideways. Which was a surprise, because this is one of the few rooms in the house with intact windows, and it wasn’t windy outside. And the wind didn’t just gust, it continued, getting louder and softer, higher and lower in pitch. Julian and I just looked at each other. We had no idea what was happening.
After maybe a minute, the wind began to break into little bursts, and then —
Hang on, just had to take a moment. I shivered again, remembering it.
Then a voice spoke through the wind.
It was faint, and at a whisper, and it barely sounded like a human voice at all. But the wind spoke. The ghost spoke.
And it said:
We almost bolted. If Julian hadn’t been there I definitely would have bolted. And I think he would have, if I hadn’t been there. It wasn’t even the words. It was that there were words at all. The ghost was getting stronger.
I mean, remember, it just started with random poltergeist stuff, knocking things over, and then it could write in the dust. And now it could speak. Why was it getting stronger? Was our presence doing it? Was it the repairs, somehow? Did the dagger make it stronger?
And how strong would it get?
Julian got his voice back first. “Mine?” he said. “You’re saying the dagger is mine?”
And then—by the Angel, Bruce, the hair on my arms is sticking up just to write this—the wind spoke again, and it said, “CARSTAIRS.”
I couldn’t speak. Julian said, “Emma? The dagger is hers?”
The wind shifted direction. All the candle flames tilted the other way.
It spoke again.
“Home?” I said. “Home, like, our home? Los Angeles?”
“Or this home?” Julian suggested. “Maybe it needs to be taken to someplace in the house—”
The wind kicked up loudly and said, in the strongest voice it had managed so far:
The wind dropped, the candles went out, the room was bathed in darkness. The ghost had gone. I could feel its absence. The silence hurt my ears.
I have the dagger with me now. I took it to bed with me and I don’t want to let it out of my sight, for some reason. I keep turning it over and over in my hands. “Cirenworth” meant Jem, of course, so maybe it was his dagger, once upon a time. Or maybe it belonged to someone who lived there when the ghost was alive. The image of Carstairs ancestors of the past keep going through my mind. When I close my eyes, I feel like I can see whoever owned this dagger once, standing over me — protectively, even, as if they know we’re related and want to stand by me, even through the centuries.
I think Magnus is right that the ghost means well. I don’t think a malevolent ghost would be as helpful as this one is clearly trying to be. And the faeries working on the house seem totally unbothered by it, which they wouldn’t if they thought it had evil intent. Which makes me think the ghost isn’t part of the curse, but instead, maybe the ghost is trapped here by the curse.
Okay, I feel a little better after writing all that down. I think I’m going to go put the dagger someplace safe and try to get some sleep. Thanks for listening as always, Bruce. You’re a pal.
And tomorrow – we get to see Jem and Tessa and Kit and Mina, because we’re going to Cirenworth!
Hypatia to Julian and Emma
To the Blackthorn Nephilim residing at Blackthorn Manor, Chiswick
From Hypatia Vex, Fellow, Spiral Labyrinth
My greetings. Attached please find the first pages of Tatiana Blackthorn’s diary that I have translated from Purgatic. I hope you don’t mind, but I thought that Magnus Bane might shed some light on the situation that caused you to bring the diary to me, and he did, speaking of a curse upon the house. I have skipped over a number of entries related to the author’s clothes, opinions about her peers, complaints about the weather, and so on, in favor of one that I think will be of special interest (though it rather contradicts what I think of as the history of the house — Benedict Lightwood of course was hardly known to be trustworthy, or perhaps things have altered since his time. A mystery to be delved into, perhaps?)
I will be in touch soon with further translation.
Dear Diary, tonight I am in a state of rare elation. It seems that my patience and care may not be as worthless as they are usually assumed to be by the members of this family. For I believe that Father has at long last come to accept and even approve of my betrothal to Rupert! (Oh, happy day, oh darling Rupert!) More astonishing, he has communicated this not by anything so clumsy as an awkward sentimental statement, but instead by taking me into his confidence, and telling me of things that I am sure he has never shared with my brothers.
It was after supper. The Terrible Gs were off whacking at each other with swords, or some such nonsense. Father usually repairs to his study, of course, but tonight he came over to me and, out of the blue, asked me to accompany him there. I dutifully followed.
There he closed the door with care and bade me sit in one of the wing-chairs facing his desk. He settled himself in his own chair and began by telling me that the Lightwood name is a powerful and ancient one.
I replied that I knew that and, indeed, never forgot it.
He continued to say that such a name brings with it great prestige and influence, but also great enmity. The adversaries of the Lightwoods were many, he said. “And I speak not of the demons we make war on, or even of the half-demons permitted to roam the earth on our sufferance, but of those of our own race, that is, the Nephilim.” He explained that there was great envy towards us, and while it would not be expressed directly, there were those who would seek to destroy us.
I asked him who he was thinking of in particular, but he demurred. The enemies change, he said, with the times; alliances form and crumble, as the varying Shadowhunter families’ interests are altered by time and fate.
(I am recording his words as exactly as I can recall them, Diary. I admire the forceful manner by which he expresses himself, and wish to take it upon myself, since the others in my family do not.)
He went on to explain that while it is not widely known, we are well-protected here in Lightwood House, not only by the sound brick and stone, but by an enchantment that affects the house and its grounds themselves.
An enchantment! I was astonished. I knew that magic was a subject of interest to Father, and that his researches led him to minor experimentations. I had no idea that he had accomplished so much. This I expressed in, I hope, a complimentary manner. He said that it had taken him several years to make the preparations, for he did not trust anyone, even a warlock paid well for their silence, with the knowledge of the house’s protection.
The enchantment is very elaborate, as I understand, and its effects somewhat difficult to communicate. Father said that it served both to prevent other Nephilim from investigating the house, and to keep areas of the house, and possessions of the family, hidden from discovery. I asked by what means did the enchantment work, and he said that it had to do with ley-lines, the seams of magic that cross the earth, and a half-dozen objects selected and placed at locations along those ley-lines that are a matter of elaborate calculation.
I pressed him for more detail, reminding him that I shared his interest in the topic of magic, but that was all he would tell. He explained that I was as yet an unmarried girl who need not trouble herself with the ways of the world—and here I finally reach the reason for telling this story, Diary.
As he spoke of me, he gave me a look, one that at first I could not translate. But soon enough I realized: he said that I was “as yet” unmarried. By the glint in his eye I understand what he was saying: you will soon be a married woman.
And so all comes clear, in a beautiful burst of triumph!
Father accepts Rupert, and will approve our marriage—
This will cause me to gain my majority—
That will cause Father to take me further into his confidence about the nature of Lightwood House and his work in magic—
Because he understands that whatever the Law may say, I am the right and proper heir of his goals and his work—
And because he intends Rupert and I to become the masters of this Manor after him!
Though my efforts have been long and arduous, Diary, and I have feared they would never come to fruition, I sleep tonight with victory within my grasp, and only pity for my poor brothers, too vacuous and pigheaded to even understand what has happened while they beat each other with sticks in the training room.
Tatiana soon-to-be-Blackthorn Lightwood
Julian to Helen and Aline
Hi guys. We just got back from Cirenworth and seeing Jem, Tessa, Kit (and Mina, of course.) I learned a great deal about Kit, about a gun and an old Herondale named James. I have to sort my thoughts out, but in the meantime, here’s a photo of all of us at Cirenworth. You ought to go sometime. It’s a pretty cool place.
Julian to Helen and Aline
Dear Helen and Aline,
So Emma and I took the train from Paddington Station pretty early in the morning (I suppose we could have gone to the Institute and seen if they’d let us use their Portal, but it seemed like trouble and besides, it’s not our first train trip in England.)
We got off the train at Exeter, a sprawling town with a big Gothic cathedral. Tessa was waiting to pick us up in a racing-green Mini Cooper with Mina strapped into a kid’s seat in the back, wearing goggles. She reminded me of Tavvy when he was littler. Emma got in the back and played peek-a-boo with Mina, and I chatted with Tessa while we rolled through gorgeous green countryside. I hate it when people say “It looked like it does in the movies,” but it kind of did. I kept wanting to get out and paint the scenery.
We drove through a big gate, and then up a long road lined with oak and poplar trees. I thought we were in a national park of some kind — there were trails, and lots of greenery and flowers. Tessa told me the purple ones were bluebells (you’d think they’d be blue), and the yellow ones were celandine. We passed a big glass house and then we came out in front of what I swear I thought was a castle.
I think I knew Cirenworth was fancy, but I don’t think I realized how fancy. It’s this huge pile of gold-colored stone with little turrets, and windows full of leaded glass. There’s a big circular driveway in front, and we parked there in front of steps that looked like they could be outside a museum. Jem and Kit were waiting for us at the top and Mina started squealing with delight the moment she saw them. It was pretty cute.
We got a tour of the house — it turns out they only use about half of it, and the other half is closed off because it’s too much to take care of. I asked if they’d had to renovate the place and Jem said no, it had never fallen into disrepair like Blackthorn Hall. Tessa said she’d had to redecorate because it had been pretty dark “and a little moldy” when they moved in, but she said she’d redecorated before — apparently she fixed up the whole Institute a long time ago. I asked her about renovations, but she pointed out that back when she’d done the Institute, indoor plumbing had been a new thing.
Kit said they had put the internet into Cirenworth (do you “put the internet into” things? Emma says you “wire things for the internet.” I think neither is probably right) for him, because he uses it for school. I think he’s happy here. He pointed out things in all the different rooms that he liked — and there were a lot of different rooms. A big library with gold rugs, a games room with a pool table (only they call it something else), an inground swimming-pool, a bunch of offices, a music-room, a sewing-room, I mean, they probably have a room just for licking stamps and putting them on envelopes.
I realized this was the most I’d really seen of Kit since he left to go live with Tessa and Jem. I fell back to talk to him while Tessa was showing Emma the portrait gallery of Carstairs Past. He’s so much taller, almost my height now, and his voice sounds deeper. And I realized he looks older just like Ty looks older; I’d been almost thinking of him as the same age he was when I first saw him. But no, he’s growing up. Is grown up, maybe. Almost.
He said he wanted to show me something in the garden, so I followed him out through a French door. It was an overgrown spot — there were strawberry bushes, though no strawberries (not the season) and there was a cracked sundial in the middle. Kit said, without looking at me, that if it made me uncomfortable to be around him, or I didn’t want to see him, he could claim he had a headache and go to bed.
I was thrown. I asked him why I’d mind if he was there. He kicked some dirt around with his boots, and finally said, “Because — because of him.”
I didn’t say anything at first. I was a little frightened to. Kit had seemed fine inside, laughing and joking around and picking up Mina so she could climb on his shoulders. Now he reminded me more of the way he’d been when we first met him, or even the way Mark was when he came back from the Wild Hunt … Fragile.
“You mean Ty?” I said.
He nodded stiffly. “You’re his brother,” he said. “I mean, I talk to Dru, and she’s his sister, but — you were always more than just his older brother. You were like his father. I know you raised him. I guess I just meant that if you were on his side — I wouldn’t blame you.”
I said, “Ty has never indicated to me there’s a side to be on.”
Kit looked up. “He — hasn’t?”
“I know you two don’t talk,” I said. “I don’t know why. Ty’s never told me why. But he’s never blamed you, or said it was because of anything you’d done. People fight,” I added. “It happens. I wish you were friends again, because when you were, it was pretty special.” Ty was so happy. But I didn’t say that. “But either way, regardless of anything happening with you and Ty, we all went through so much together. You’ll always be one of us. Family.”
He said in a hoarse voice, “That means a lot.”
We all went and had dinner after that, and a lot of stuff got talked about — including that Tessa’s son James Herondale once had a gun that worked on demons, which Kit was pretty excited about — but this letter is getting pretty long, and I mostly wanted to tell you about Kit. I guess I didn’t realize how unhappy he was about the situation with Ty. I wonder if our whole hands-off attitude is working? I mean, I know it’s their business, but what if Ty is unhappy too? Is there something we should be doing?
Tessa to Sophie
My beloved Sophie, you will never read this. On the bottom shelf of the bookcases built into the far wall of my bedroom here in Cirenworth—Cirenworth! you say, but ah, I will explain—are my diaries, in all shapes and forms, from leatherbound quartos of heavy ivory pages to spiralbound ruled notebooks for children to use in school. There are gaps, sometimes of years, and a few that have been lost or damaged, or whose paper was never intended to last as long as I have lived. But each of them is written to someone—I never understood “Dear Diary,” as though Diary were a person I might want to know my thoughts. But you, of course, I do wish to know. And it has been many decades, Sophie, since I have started one of these diaries and addressed it to you. But today brings a fresh start in a new volume, a lovely little book of swirly Florentine paper, and so I address it to you:
Hello, Sophie Lightwood, née Collins, my first true friend in London. You have been gone so long. And yet it also seems only a moment; I turn and see your graceful figure as you hurry down the hall with a basket in your arms, or the way you smiled when you said you were allowed to speak to Will however rudely you liked (and he did deserve it at the time!) or the way you laughed with Gideon over scones.
So: Cirenworth. I live here with Jem now, you know. He is no longer a Silent Brother—well, that is not relevant to my entry today so I suggest you consult one of the earlier diaries to catch up and come back when you’re done. And we have just been visited by his cousin Emma Carstairs, and her paramour, Julian Blackthorn. (Don’t worry; the Blackthorns of his generation are quite kind and friendly!) She has been keeping a diary herself, to record their restoration of Blackthorn Hall in Chiswick, which has remained mostly unoccupied all this time and has fallen into ruin. (Well, further ruin, I suppose.) And, of course, that old pile of bricks has all kinds of magical problems that they’re having to sort out, although of course they were also eager to see us—Jem and I, and Mina and Kit.
Yes, I’m a mother again, Sophie, and that makes me miss you. How good it was to have you by my side in those early days. I remember one evening, when there was a gathering at the Institute—some sort of party, it doesn’t matter, but James was a baby and Thomas was a baby. Someone, maybe old Lysander Gladstone, was trying to engage us in conversation, and I remember we fell asleep against one another right there on the loveseat, and the babies too. When we woke up it turned out Lysander had been highly offended and Will had had to explain to him about babies and new mothers. And we both startled because the children were gone, but of course Will and Gideon had come and retrieved them and put them in the nursery, and let us nap together there.
I miss those moments with you.
Mina is only a toddler, and Jem’s daughter, and thank the Angel she has something of his temperament. It has been a long time since I had to chase a little one across the dining room floor, but she is sweet-natured and easygoing, most of the time. And we have an older son, Kit, who came to live with us after his father was killed. He is a distant relation in the Herondale line, but he does not feel distant at all. He completes our family in a way I could not have imagined, and in a way I’m sure he never expected. He is also a teenager, and he had his own life before he came to us, so between those truths he often keeps things to himself. And so—as one does with teenagers—I worry about him. He has friends—even a girlfriend, if I’m correct in my observations—and he loves Mina with a fierceness that often surprises even him. But there is a heaviness in the way he carries himself sometimes, a sadness that he won’t, or can’t, speak to us about. And maybe it is only that he’s faced so much loss so young, but I can’t help the feeling there’s something more.
I do want to tell you more about Kit, and where he came from—it’s all much more dramatic than you’re probably imagining—but it is late and I can talk to you about Kit anytime. I wish instead to digress and tell you about Julian and Emma’s visit.
They are pulling at the knots of a few mysteries regarding Blackthorn Hall—a curse on the house that dates back to guess who, Benedict Lightwood (I know, Sophie, who could have guessed). And a ghost, benign but faint and unidentified, probably trapped by the curse. There are a whole set of objects, it seems, connected to the curse, and the ghost told them to bring one of them here to Cirenworth—hence their visit, though as I say, I don’t think they minded an excuse to see Kit or Mina.
We were washing up after supper and Jem—you know how Jem is—said straightaway to them, well, let’s see these objects you found.
Julian fetched them from his bag and put them on the counter: a silver-plated whisky flask, quite tarnished, and a dagger, also quite banged up by time. Neither meant much to me at first—as you’ll know, both flasks and daggers are very common in London Shadowhunter homes, even today—but Jem recognized the weapon immediately.
He pointed at the inscription on it and read out, “I wanted so much to have a gleaming dagger, that each of my ribs became a dagger.”
Both Julian and Emma fairly goggled at him. (I also think they don’t realize that Jem does things like this precisely so people will goggle at him; he only pretends to be perfectly dramatic by nature.) “You know it?” said Julian, while at the same time Emma said, “You read Farsi?”
“I’d recognize it anywhere,” Jem said. “It belonged to my cousin, Alastair Carstairs, though it came to him from his mother’s family.”
“The ghost said to bring it here,” Emma said. “To bring it home.”
Jem picked up the flask, which turned out to have a monogram on it. “Oh my,” he said, his voice quiet, and showed me the initials.
My poor dear Matthew. He came into my mind immediately, with his laughing eyes and his bright smile. Julian said they’d already figured out it was his. But that was very strange, I pointed out, because if Benedict was responsible for the curse, he was dead almost ten years before Matthew was even born. Julian started to say it didn’t make sense to them either, and was part of the mystery still. But then there was a sudden loud clicking, which turned out to be the Sensor they had with them that their brother Ty modified for ghosts. (Ty is a whole other fascinating topic, Sophie, but he will have to wait for another day.) They—I mean Shadowhunters in general, not just Julian and Emma—are still using Henry’s demon Sensor invention all these years later!
The Sensor led us to the library. Emma seemed dubious.
“Come on,” she said to the Sensor. “I’m sure the Cirenworth library has been haunted for years.”
“Not to my knowledge,” Jem said. “Although there are houses in the English countryside where if you brought that thing inside it would howl like a police siren. Cirenworth has been well-maintained continually and the owners have always been very thorough about ghosts.”
Using a Sensor to find a ghost is not quite like using it to find a demon. You can tell you’ve found a demon because, you know—the demon is standing there. With ghosts it’s much more a game of “hotter” and “colder,” and eventually we all agreed the clicking was loudest in front of one particular shelf. We took the books down from that shelf and lay them on the table and checked them with the Sensor, and the winner was a quarto book bound in leather. Nothing on the spine, but a quite beautiful compass rose etched into the front.
We opened it, and when I saw the inside, I gasped. And I knew I would be writing this new diary of mine, to you. You would know it yourself—cramped, neat handwriting, with a strong leftward slant, and entirely in Spanish. It was your son’s journal, of course. Thomas’s. My heart! My memories raced back to you holding him, such a small child (who grew to be such a tall broad-chested man!).
Emma was looking through it. This was the first she’d heard of Thomas, perhaps (there are still Lightwoods around, never fear, but they live in New York), so of course she didn’t have the sentimental reaction Jem and I did. “The problem, of course,” she said, “is that my Spanish is terrible.”
So then Julian of course teased her a little, because Emma’s best friend Cristina is from Mexico City. Emma said that was the problem, whenever she needed to read or say anything in Spanish Cristina could just help her.
“Do we need it translated?” Julian said. “We don’t know that it has anything to do with the curse or the ghost. The flask was just a flask as far as we know, right?”
Jem was shaking his head, though. He put the flask and dagger down next to the book and gave them a look. “I don’t know if you realize it, but these three objects all come from the same era. The owners of all three were the same generation and almost the same age. They were all friends.”
And then I could see all of them in my mind—Thomas, Matthew, Alastair, but also Christopher and Cordelia and my own James and Lucie. It was all so long ago, but I could call up their faces as though it were yesterday. As I can call up yours, Sophie. I looked at Jem and I could tell he was thinking the same thing, but all he said to Julian and Emma was, “It can’t be a coincidence. But Benedict Lightwood never knew any of them, he’d been dead for years by then. Are you sure he’s the one responsible for the curse?”
Emma said they were fairly sure—that they’d been reading a diary they’d found in the house that spelled it out. Whose? Oh, Sophie, you have already guessed. Tatiana Blackthorn’s.
“She was about our age, I think,” Julian said. “Maybe a little younger. He told her about the curse and the objects.”
I think Emma saw the expression in my face and Jem’s. “Did they…” She touched the flask, the dagger, the book, one after the other. “Matthew, Alastair, Thomas, did they know Tatiana Blackthorn?”
“She knew them,” Jem said darkly.
“She hated them,” I explained. “She hated all our families—the Herondales, the Carstairs, the Fairchilds. And the other Lightwoods. She became…rather more and more unpleasant as time went on. More and more obsessed, I might say, with harming us.”
Julian had been looking into the distance. Now he suddenly turned to take in the objects on the table. “She changed the enchantment,” he said. “She replaced some of the objects. Maybe all of them.”
Clever Julian! We all knew at once it was the likely answer.
“Why, though?” said Emma. “Maybe some of the things Benedict used were lost.”
When Jem spoke, his voice was harder than I’m used to hearing it. “I don’t know how she comes across in her journal. When she was younger she was more mild. But in Tatiana’s heart was a terrible, grasping desire for power. For control. There need not have been anything wrong with Benedict’s curse, for Tatiana to have wanted to make it hers.”
He was right, my dear Sophie, and his words filled my heart with dread. Tatiana cannot hurt Julian and Emma. She is long gone. But she reaches out from the years past to bring her evil even to today. Whomever this ghost is at Blackthorn Hall, I pray, at least, that it is no one that we loved.
Dru To Kit
Helen to Julian
Thanks for your letter! We’ve never been to Cirenworth but it sounds beautiful. Funny to think of quiet, modest Jem and Tessa living in a turreted MANOR HOUSE. It sounds like Kit’s settled in well and really become part of their family, which is wonderful to hear. And we need more pictures of Mina! Never enough pictures of Mina! I will drop a line to Tessa immediately.
But mostly I wanted to say: please don’t worry yourself about Ty and Kit. You’ve got a house to renovate and fairy renovators to manage and a ghost to help and a curse to break…it’s a lot on your plate already. You know Ty, and you know he always speaks his mind. He’s made it clear he doesn’t want to talk with us about Kit. Whatever happened between them (and yes, we’re curious, of course we’re curious!) we have to respect his wishes.
Besides, you remember being a teenager. It is a time of HIGHEST DRAMA. (Uh, admittedly, your teenage years contain some specific drama that most people’s don’t, e.g. the civil war in the Clave, Malcolm, you turning into a glowing giant stomping on people.) (Yes, we know you didn’t actually stomp on anyone.) With a little more time and distance from whatever happened, I bet Ty will eventually come around and want to talk about it. We just need to give him time. And maybe Ty needs more time than most people. (For instance, it turns out he needs more time than Kit.)
Either way, please don’t worry too much. You know as well as I do that Ty is stronger than he seems. He’ll be all right.
Thanks for the picture, which Aline is going to have printed out at the drugstore so we can hang it on our well. I think we’ll put it in the kitchen—I miss our CHAOS BREAKFASTS. (Aline has come by to read this and she says that she is going to switch her primary Shadowhunter weapon and start training to fight with Chaos Breakfasts.) Here’s a photo for you in return! Tavvy has gotten deeply into Pokemon, which is very cute and also worrying. Will memorizing 700+ imaginary monsters get in the way of his learning the names of actual demon types or weapons? We worry he won’t be able to tell the difference between a glaive, a guisarme, and a bec de corbin!
Love you, love to Emma and hey, love to the ghost, ghosts need love too,
Emma to Bruce, partly Tatiana’s diary
Ah, it’s good to get back to the dank, gloomy ruin that is Cursed Blackthorn Hall. You know, I’ll almost miss the curse, when it’s gone. Just kidding! Cirenworth proves you can have an old manor house with hundreds of years of history and it can be warm and welcoming and friendly.
We got back yesterday night, and then this morning Hypatia came in with a few more translated bits of Tatiana’s diary. (Don’t worry, Bruce: you are my One True Diary. Tatiana’s diary means nothing to me, I swear, nothing!) She was a big weirdo about it as usual, of course; the translations are all on these large parchment pages that look like movie props but no, Hypatia just likes to use ancient yellowing vellums for her normal work here in the twenty-first century. Warlocks! She said something about treated pages, demon language, and so on. And she was wearing kind of a 40s burgundy dress with a matching hat and Bruce, the brim of this hat was so wide I thought the wind would carry her away. (Oh, I should have said, we were outside. Julian was on the roof with the builders, not my favorite thing, so I was watching from the front gates while I tried to cut back the briars, which grow here at like ten times the rate of anything in California despite the much worse weather. I pointed this out to one of the faeries and he looked at me and said, “Black. Thorn.” And then walked away as though he’d made a great point. But it was Lightwood House first, I yelled back, and he ignored me. Which is for the best, really.)
I’m pretty sure the briars had grown another few inches while we talked, but they would have to wait. I got Julian down from the roof and we went in to read.
It looks like Hypatia has started actually thinking about what she’s translating; instead of doing every entry, this time she had snippets from a bunch of entries put together (she dated each one). Which is a little bit of a shame because I kind of liked seeing Tatiana talk about her clothes or her brothers or whatever in between all the, you know, evil demon stuff. But I admit that evil demon stuff is what we are here for. Like the old Shadowhunter motto says, “Shadowhunters: That Evil Demon Stuff Is What We Are Here For.” But in Latin probably.
Some translated highlights for you, Bruce. I won’t include the dates, but they stretch over a matter of years. The first one is from 1878 and then most are in the 1880s, but then there’s a jump and the last one is from 1903. (Sometime before then she seems to have found a “patron” of some kind, but she doesn’t say who it is. Or why anybody would want to be the patron of such an unpleasant person…)
Father is dead and Rupert is dead. I cannot speak of what happened; when I try, the words will not come. It is the fault of the London Enclave, many of whom were present for their deaths. Not only did they not save either of the men I love most, I daresay they hastened the disaster. I shall be, at very least, registering a formal complaint with the Clave, but I have little hope of justice, of course. The corruption among the Nephilim here in London goes all the way to the roots.
I cannot believe I have been left all alone. My mother, gone. My brothers, gone. The walls of Lightwood House are my only companions, their silence a terrible reminder of how much I have lost, in such little time. Today I went from room to room, and wherever I found a mirror, I smashed it. The glass I left where it fell, a reminder that everything bright and good has been destroyed.
I have Rupert’s ring. It is all that remains of him. I know I must have felt happy, to stand beside him and recite the vows of marriage. I cannot dredge up the memory of that feeling. There is blood upon the ring. His blood. I shall never clean it.
To honor my father’s memory, I have begun going through the books in his library. Not the library the Clave knows about, of course, the one they pillaged after the incident involving his death, but the other one, Father’s sanctum, which the enchantment hides. I wish to learn what he knew. To seek power that will help me, who now has been left with nothing. I have found only one thing that causes my heart to beat in my chest: because of his violent end, far from his own home, it is not unlikely that the spirit of my Rupert may still be present here in the house. If he is here, I will find him. I will see him, and I will know that our love is more powerful than death.
I have searched and searched, performed spell after spell. I have not seen any ghost, not of Rupert, not of Father. Not even of some Lightwood relation long dead who might have been haunting the place earlier. Is it my father’s enchantment that keeps the dead from this place? Or does it only prevent my finding them? But I am the master of that enchantment now, as I am the true inheritor of the house. (If G and G attempt to take it from me, they will find there is more than an enchantment that will work against them.)
Father’s protection is fading. I can feel it, as I remain here in the house, and it becomes a part of me, as I become a part of it. Someday my son will inherit the house—the last gift that Rupert ever gave me—and I will not have Blackthorn Hall made unsafe for myself and my family. I have been reading extensively on the topic of the enchantment and I place the blame on the urn containing mother’s ashes, which fell from its location in the Lightwood tombs in the countryside and chipped terribly. It did not shatter, but since then I have felt the eyes of the world more upon me. But I believe that the objects themselves can be replaced, as long as the magic is renewed, and so instead of the urn the enchantment now inhabits Father’s mourning brooch, with its locks of Mother’s hair, and I have put it in the place of the urn. The spell has been rewoven and renewed. Father would be proud of me. He was right to make me the inheritor of all his works.
Rupert is here, I know it, though I cannot see him or hear him. Where else, indeed, could he be other than close to me, where he belonged, where he was meant to dwell before his life was cut so short by the machinations of the Enclave. Sometimes in the night I feel I can almost see him, as though he is hiding just behind a thin curtain that divides the living realm from the dead. And now I have made sure he will stay with me.
I realized that the objects of the protective enchantment on the house are things that would be important to Father, when he was master here. But now I am master here, and having studied more fully Father’s research, it was a simple matter to place his ring in a location of power. It will be part of the spell from here on, protecting the house as Rupert would have protected me.
You can see, Bruce, the way the last entry seems…different?
Vengeance. Vindication. They are close.
But the power of the house fades. At the worst time.
I appealed to my patron. He said the magic was of my own doing and that only I may repair it. But—for he is perceptive beyond any other—he saw that I had repaired it before. He asked me what objects held the enchantment and I told him: the brooch, the snake skin, and so on.
And as I spoke he only had to look at me in his knowing way, for me to understand him. The objects were of my Father’s time, and while his memory and honor will never fade from my mind, more than twenty years have passed.
I comprehended my patron at once: it was time that I replaced the foci of the enchantment with my own. Not only Rupert’s ring, but new things.
What could I use? I have been alone so long. I have lost a child and there has been no help for me. I have only one thing remaining: my vengeance. And so I will take the things of my enemies. I will take them from under their noses, from their own homes. Their sorrow, and my satisfaction in it, will be the force that keeps Blackthorn Hall safe—safe from them! It is the kind of cunning that my patron is known for, and that he loves best.
And once my protections have returned to their fullest strength, they will finally pay for their sins. They will pay in their blood.
Eesh. Makes me shiver just reading it. I guess she didn’t actually make them pay in their blood or Tessa and Jem probably would have mentioned it. (They would have been some of the blood-payers, I’m pretty sure.) So let’s summarize, Bruce: the ghost is Rupert Blackthorn, Tatiana’s husband. He died in some kind of tragedy and she blamed the families Tessa and Jem talked about—the Herondales, the Carstairs, the Lightwoods…So she stole their stuff.
So I guess we know what we need to do next.
Julian to Magnus
Mark this date down! For once I am writing to you with answers instead of questions. I know you probably felt a sinking sensation when you saw the letter is from me, and considered going into the Witness Protection Program (Warlock Protection Program?) but I’m actually only writing to give you the latest updates. And the great news is, we know a lot more than the last time I talked to you.
First: the ghost in Blackthorn Hall is Rupert Blackthorn, Tatiana’s husband. He’s stuck in the house because of the curse. As near as we can tell, his spirit was floating around Blackthorn Hall anyway, because he died here (according to Tessa and Jem, in quite violent circumstances). But then the curse was fading after Tatiana’s father’s death, since it was tied to him, and Tatiana started to have to do regular maintenance over the following years to keep it working. We have no idea if Tatiana even knew Rupert’s ghost was here in the first place, or knew that the curse was keeping him here—but it clearly did, and has been all this time. He’s observed a lot over the years, I suspect.
The curse works, it seems, by being embedded in objects that are placed on ley lines that interact at Blackthorn Hall. (This was very clever of Benedict, since the objects themselves were not at the house and thus the curse wouldn’t be detected by Shadowhunters searching here. He didn’t make provisions for faery contractors, lucky for us.) Also, because Tatiana had to keep the curse up, she periodically replaced the objects with new things she’d taken herself. And she took things belonging to Herondales, Carstairs, Lightwoods…the people she hated and their kids. Maybe she thought her hatred would make the curse stronger, maybe she just liked stealing from those people and using their possessions for her own purposes. Hard to say, but it doesn’t really matter. Find the (remaining) objects, lift the curse, free Rupert, and get back to refurbishing the house so we can live here curse-free.
ADDENDUM: It is the next morning, and I have a bit of good news. Rupert knows where one of the objects is! Or at least he has a place he wants us to go. Communication with Rupert still includes a lot of interpretation. In this case we came down to breakfast today to find a very antique envelope we had never seen before in the middle of the kitchen floor. Whatever correspondence was in it is long gone, and the writing was smudged, but we could make out the address, which is on Curzon Street in central London. Some quick fire-messages and we learned that Tessa’s son James lived in a house on Curzon Street a hundred-plus years ago. It still belongs to the Herondales, in fact, but years ago, pre-Jace, probably pre-Jace’s-dad, it was given to the National Trust. So it’s open to the public as a historic building but I guess Jace still technically owns it. So off we go, some tourists who just want to visit a historic home, hoping we find something. Tessa said as far as she knows it hasn’t been inhabited by Shadowhunters for a long time, and if there was some antique thing put there by Tatiana, it could easily have been sold or put in storage or who knows what. Rupert wouldn’t know that. There’s also the question of how much of the house is open to the public and how we might search the parts that aren’t. Emma suggests we get Kit on the phone and have him tell them that as a Herondale he gives us permission, but I’m not sure that’s how it works.
So the situation is still far from fixed, but we’ve made a bit of progress, at least. And Emma likes to point out that things could be way worse. Rupert could be a vengeful poltergeist constantly destroying things or trying to drive us out, but instead he seems to recognize that the way to get what he wants is to help us. I don’t think we can depend on him to find some piece of hundred-year-old trash that will point us to all the objects, but we have a place to go next, and we still have Tatiana’s diary and Ty’s Ghost Sensor. And I feel much better having a concrete goal.
And you may be thinking, well, okay, so what do you want from me? And the answer is, nothing at all!
Thanks again, and our love to Alec and everyone there.
Cristina to Emma
Emma To Bruce
Oh, Bruce, Bruce, Bruce. You don’t even know (because you are a diary and you never leave the house). I have spent the day among the mundanes. Not just mundanes. Tourists. All things considered, I’ll take the haunted cursed mansion, thanks.
When last I wrote we found out Ghost!Rupert thinks there’s a cursed object in this Herondale house on Curzon Street here in London. After that we have no idea, which is going to be a big problem because ley lines are, you know, lines, so objects could be anywhere along them. But one thing at a time.
It turns out the National Trust operates tours of the Curzon Street house—and I assume some Herondale in the past was smart enough to get rid of, or at least glamour the heck out of, anything too Shadowhuntery there. It’s advertised as being a recreation of a “typical Edwardian home,” which is close enough to the right time period for our purposes. So we got dressed up in mundane costumes—Jules found an excellent vintage Sex Pistols t-shirt in Arthur and Andrew Blackthorn’s Groovy Chambers of Love —and bought tickets for the 2:00 tour the next day.
What we learned from the house tour is that Edwardian décor mostly would look pretty okay in a modern house! It’s light and airy, lots of soft colors, cool patterned fabric, and so on. Oh, and we also learned the Edwardian movement missed Tatiana Blackthorn entirely, since everything about Blackthorn Hall is the very opposite of light and airy. Julian pointed out that she probably left it the way it was when her father died. Whereas I liked the feel of Curzon Street a lot, it was homey. I actually took a photo of some wallpaper and want to ask Tessa if she remembers who made it and, uh, whether they’re still in business I guess. What’s happened to us? We’re renovating a house. I feel so old.
The tour was fine, I guess, lots of detail about eras and maker’s marks and furniture. People asked ridiculous questions—one of the American couples demanded to know where the piano was and when the guide said sorry, no piano, they got angry and told her that all Edwardian homes had a piano so there must be one, and she had to kind of apologize and move on. It was awkward and I did not feel great about the people of my land.
But mostly I was tuned out of all that. The house was interesting enough. Persian carpets everywhere! An ivory chess set! A pewter-clad bathtub! Oh, there was a framed playbill from the time period that was obviously from some Downworlder nightclub, that was kind of cool. But most importantly, none of these were things enchanted by Tatiana.
I spent most of the time looking for anything that made it clear Shadowhunters lived here. The only thing I really saw was that there were a bunch of weapons used for decoration, which the tour guide noted was not appropriate to the period. Of course you and I know, Bruce, that weapons are always appropriate décor. But it’s like Julian always says, sometimes you don’t even need glamours, because mundanes don’t see what they don’t want to see. Like, the tour guide went on and on about a beautiful jadeite sculpture atop one of the mantels and said nobody knew what the shape was meant to represent. And it was obviously meant to be displaying a sword that is long gone.
It’s not long gone. I know where it went. It’s on the dressing table on the other side of the room. I can see it from where I’m writing this.
A real chill just went up my spine, thinking of that. At the house today I was thinking about the people who lived there, James Herondale and Cordelia Carstairs, but to be honest I didn’t really feel an emotional connection to them while I was there. Maybe it’s just that all the really personal stuff would have been taken out of the house before it became a museum. But also, just…I didn’t know them. Tessa and Jem did, of course, and Magnus, and heck, maybe some of the other warlocks, I don’t know. But I didn’t, and I never will.
But you know who else knew them? Cortana knew them. I wish I’d brought it with me to the house today. (But nooooo, Julian said only weapons that could be completely concealed. And what if the tour guide had turned out to be an Eidolon demon lying in wait for us? I would have faced it with a bootknife smaller than I’d use to peel an apple with. Though it would have been an Eidolon demon that knew a lot about turn of the century furniture. ANYWAY, we were there to find an object, so let me finish that story.)
We were in one of the spare bedrooms, looking at the scrollwork on the bed or whatever. The tour guide was showing off some of the objects on the bedside tables, and the Sensor went off like crazy.
The tour guide gave us an evil look. “Turn off that phone,” she said to me, and the whole tour group flounced off to another room while I pretended to be trying to find my phone in my extremely ugly waist pack. Jules grabbed the Sensor, and it led us to — a music-box on the windowsill. A very ugly music box. Well, maybe not ugly. Very overdecorated, just covered in bits and bobs and, like, way too much for a music box. There was a monkey figurine involved. It was a lot. Anyway, it was an excellent example of the mid-Victorian etc etc but also it was an object Tatiana cursed and, I guess, someone liked it enough to find it and bring it back here???
After that it was just a matter of waiting till the tour moved on, glamouring up, grabbing the music box, sneaking back out of there, and hoping nobody who worked there had the Sight. Which they didn’t. So now we have a music box to show Rupert in the morning and ask Tessa about. I hope it wasn’t hers or anything like that. I think of her as having better taste.
Okay, that’s it for now, Bruce. I’m going to go get Cortana so I can reach out and touch it from the bed. Julian always teases me when I do that but tonight it feels right. Catch you later.
Ty to Julian
Don’t be mad.
I mean, not that you should be mad. I don’t think it would make sense for you to be mad, because you always say “wish you were here,” and soon I will be there. I heard from Ragnor that you just asked him to come to Blackthorn Hall, and I talked to him, and I’m going to be coming with him to London.
There are lots of good reasons for me to come to London. For one thing, I am curious about what it is like to be in a house that is cursed. You always say that the most important thing is my schoolwork, and up-close experience with a cursed house will definitely help in that department. Which is another reason that you should not be mad.
Ragnor says he’s going to bring a ley-line map of London that he thinks can be used to discover likely locations where Tatiana put the objects that keep the curse in place. He also said he would show you how to read a ley-line map. I thought Ragnor was going to say something about how Shadowhunters ought to know these things already. I said that to him, in fact, but he said no, apparently the Spiral Labyrinth only standardized leyline mapping about fifty years ago and before that every warlock used some different method. I asked if he knew who had made the map and he said no, but maybe he would when he looked. Anyway, ley lines are also something I’ve been studying, so this will be an excellent chance for me to learn more. Another reason for you not to be mad.
I was just going to show up and surprise you but then I thought about it and I realized I wouldn’t like it very much if someone showed up and surprised me, so…I’m going to show up but warn you ahead of time. I also thought if I told you ahead of time, and you were mad, you could be mad before I get there and not after.
(I was going to bring Irene, too, but Anush said that would be more likely to make you mad than me just showing up on my own, especially since Irene eats curtains and it sounds like there are a lot of curtains on the upstairs floors. I really want you to meet Irene, though. She’s gotten big but she’s really well behaved. And I taught her to high-five! Next time I’ll bring her, when I’m not traveling with someone as grumpy as Ragnor.)
I also feel like it would be a good idea for me to check that the Ghost Sensor is working right. I want to take a look at it when I’m there. Anush and I have been working on Sensors some more, because there are a ton just lying around here. We’ve been experimenting with setting them to detect other kinds of supernatural things – we made a vampire Sensor and a werewolf Sensor, those were pretty easy. We’ve got a Fey Sensor that works on about one-third of the faeries we’ve tried it on; that one needs some improvements. I made an angel Sensor but I have no idea how I would ever test it. Anush says that so far it is functioning perfectly as it has correctly detected that there are no angels around.
Surprisingly, it’s much harder to make a Sensor detect something not supernatural. I tried to make one to detect gold and then one to detect bats. Neither of them really works. The only one that’s been a success is the lynx Sensor. As you can imagine, that one went off pretty much continuously for the three days we were testing it. We had to break it with a hammer to stop it. And by we, I mean eventually a bunch of people showed up at our room and demanded that we break it with a hammer.
That has nothing to do with why I’m coming with Ragnor to visit you, by the way! Nothing at all. I am just really looking forward to seeing you and Emma and the house, and I want to learn something about reading leyline maps. Okay, I’ll see you soon! Remember you said you wanted to see me! Don’t be mad!
Emma To Bruce
Sorry I haven’t written in you much lately. It’s been busy times around here.
Tuesday Julian and I were having breakfast — it’s been nice and sunny this last week, and the kitchen was pretty cheerful. I’ve become besotted with crumpets, and Julian is excellent at toasting them over the stove. We were having them with honey and butter when we heard a knock on the front door.
Julian jumped up. Now, about a day ago we got a message from Ty saying he was coming with Ragnor to Blackthorn Hall. He seemed really worried that Julian would be mad, but Julian wasn’t at all mad. He was nervous. He went around all day looking distracted and bumping into things, so when we went to bed at night I took his hand and wrote on his palm, the way we always used to do, tracing each letter. W-H-A-T A-R-E Y-O-U W-O-R-R-I-E-D A-B-O-U-T-?
We curled up together under the covers. He told me that he was worried because he used to be the person who took care of Ty, and now it had been more than a year and Ty had been taking care of himself. He said he used to know everything about Ty, when he got up and when he went to sleep, and what he liked to eat and do, and now he feels like he’s lost track of him somehow, like maybe it will feel like they’re strangers.
I told him he would never lose track of Ty and their relationship would always be special, it was just going to be different than it had been because Jules no longer has to take care of everyone and pretend he isn’t doing it. He doesn’t have to carry this big secret weight around, and responsibility is always a weight no matter how much you love the people you’re responsible for.
After that, he kissed me, and the rest, Bruce, is none of your business. Goodness, you like to pry.
Anyway, back to breakfast and the knock on the door. It was Ragnor, looking a sprightly shade of green, like an English meadow. He sailed right past Julian and began inspecting the drapes. Well, he was probably inspecting something magical, like the curse, but to me it looked like he was examining the curtains and the wallpaper. Maybe he’s thinking of decorating his own place. Or maybe he was just giving Julian some time alone with Ty, because Ty was still standing on the stairs, with a duffel bag over his arm, looking adorably awkward.
I wanted to run down and hug him but I hung back because I could feel in my bones that this was Ty and Jules’ moment. Jules was just standing in the doorway looking at Ty with his face all tight and then he said, “Come here,” in a rough sort of voice and Ty dropped his duffel bag and ran up the stairs and Julian hugged him so tightly I thought for sure he’d protest. But he didn’t. He just leaned into the hug. Jules rubbed his back and said, “Ty-Ty,” and I missed what happened next because I was keeping my eyes very wide open and trying not to blink. It’s the best way I know how to keep from crying.
Eventually they let go of each other, and we showed Ty and Ragnor around the first floor, which did feel a little weird, knowing that Ty had already been here two years ago with Livvy. I think we could all feel it, the sorrowful elephant in the room. Julian kept casting anxious glances at Ty, but Ty didn’t look sad, actually — more thoughtful. Eventually Julian told him he should go upstairs and pick out a bedroom. “Any room! There are lots to choose from. Whichever you want, you can decide how you want to decorate it. Anything you want to do.”
“And where will I be sleeping?” Ragnor said grumpily. “Stuffed up the chimney?”
Ty was already headed upstairs with Julian. I told Ragnor he could sleep wherever he wanted though I recommended the couch downstairs if he wanted to be Close to the Ghost. Rupert still tends to turn up most often in the dining room. Ragnor didn’t commit to this, but only wandered into the kitchen instead and started making tea. I offered him a crumpet to be hospitable and when Julian came back downstairs Ragnor was dripping honey on the counter.
“Can I see the ley-line map?” Jules asked. “Or are you too busy attracting ants?”
“No ants,” said Ragnor, around his crumpet. “Not the season.” He licked his fingers, stuck his hand into his jacket, and pulled out a huge rolled-up parchment which, first of all, he did not fit in the jacket without doing some magic, so let it never be said that Ragnor doesn’t like a dramatic gesture, even if he claims to be above that kind of thing. He unfurled it on the long dining table and weighted it down with a candlestick and some books along the edges.
It was a map of central London—it’s hard to miss the distinctive shape of the Thames snaking through the middle—but absolutely covered in lines in several different inks—red, blue, green, gold. And along the lines were astrological symbols and arrows and numbers and the occasional bit of Greek. You could barely read the street names.
“Your map of London is in Greek?” Julian said. “Also, aren’t you going to get honey on it.”
“Honey is good for parchment,” Ragnor said. “It’s a preservative. And it’s Coptic.”
“Your map of London is in Coptic?” I said.
Ragnor regarded it fondly. “It is. Believe it or not, it’s one of the most readable ley-line maps of the city I’ve found. Some of them are just impossible. This one is from the 1700s, they just wrote in Coptic to be difficult. Warlocks are like that.”
I know, I wanted to say, but I didn’t, because Ragnor was doing us a favor.
“Is your ghost afoot?” Ragnor said. He had withdrawn a large magnifying crystal and was peering through it at bits of the map.
“Not sure,” I said. “Rupert? We have a visitor who wants to meet you.”
“So he comes and goes,” Ragnor muttered, as though to himself. “Interesting.” He took a small leather notebook from his pocket and paged through it.
“Is it interesting?” Julian said. “Maybe he’s just shy around new people. Before we showed up he was alone here for fifty years or so.”
Ragnor looked up at Julian. “My boy, there are telephone calls I haven’t gotten around to returning that are that old.”
“Well, you should be a better correspondent,” Julian said, folding his arms. “Do you see anything on the map?”
Ragnor kind of hmphed and returned to the map. After a while he straightened up and said, “All right. Do you want to hear all the nitty-gritty details, or should I skip directly to conclusion?”
“Conclusion, please,” I said.
“I thought so,” Ragnor said. He sounded grumpy, for no reason I could imagine. That’s our Ragnor!
“Taking into account the different types of ley-lines and the various intersections, knots, and traces,” he said, “and assuming that the other objects are likely in central London, since all the others have been, and assuming that the objects are likely to be in locations relevant to the Shadow World…” He paused and cocked an eyebrow at us.
“With you so far,” Julian said.
“I see here and here as the most likely next search locations.” He had produced a pencil from somewhere, and he circled two spots on the map. “Here is the church of St. Mary Abchurch. And here…” He trailed off.
Julian leaned over the map where Ragnor was pointing. “Yes? It looks like just a street of townhouses in Soho.”
“Well,” said Ragnor, “once upon a time, for many years, there was an infamous Downworlder salon in one of these townhouses. The Hell Ruelle, it was called. It was a very clever name, you see, because a ruelle is a name for a kind of reception French aristocratic ladies used to hold in their bedrooms, a little like a salon, and also a ruelle is a narrow alley, such as the one this house is on.”
“Also,” I said seriously, “it rhymes.”
“Quite,” said Ragnor. “I’ve no idea what happened to it. Salons have been long out of fashion, but Downworlders do like their old-fashioned things. I’d wager it’s still a club of some kind, probably as scandalous as it was back in the day. Scandal never goes out of fashion, I’ve noticed.”
“We saw a playbill from there,” Julian told him. “It was displayed at the Herondale house on Curzon Street.”
Ragnor’s eyebrows went up. “You went to the Curzon Street house? What’s it like now?”
So Julian started telling Ragnor all about our visit there, which was fine because I wanted to go check on Ty. I had thought he might come downstairs to assist or at least observe Ragnor, but he’d apparently find someplace he liked and had remained there. Or some terrible dark magic had befallen him. But probably the first.
He was easy to find, at least—there are a lot of bedrooms but not that many, and besides, these old walls don’t do anything to block sound, and I could hear his voice in one of them. The “gray bedroom,” as Julian and I call it. It has a nice view of the duck pond.
I guess he was talking on the phone to someone; I could hear the pauses where he was listening to the other person. I thought I heard him say, “Well, I have no idea why, but it hasn’t been that long,” in reference to something, and then the door opened and he came out of the room. He immediately started at the sight of me standing in the hall. “Emma?”
“I just came up to see how you’re doing,” I said. “I think we’re going to get some takeaway in a bit. Is that the bedroom you like?”
“Yes,” he said, glancing over his shoulder at the high windows. “It’s a good room, I think.”
“Were you talking to your sister?” I said.
He didn’t say anything — he sort of went red, then white. I wondered if he’d said something I wasn’t supposed to overhear, but I couldn’t imagine what. “I wasn’t listening,” I clarified. “I just assumed it was Dru.”
“Oh!” he said. “Yes. Yes, I was talking to Dru. She …”
“Probably wants to know what the bedrooms are like,” I said, trying to put him at ease. “Dru would definitely want the gothiest one.”
“Sure.” Ty and I started downstairs. “I’m not a good judge of what’s gothy, though.”
“I think the idea is ‘as creepy as possible,’” I said, and we reached the kitchen, where Jules and Ragnor were waiting. Ty relaxed pretty quickly; it turned out all he needed was (a) some tea and (b) to talk with Ragnor about the details of the ley-line map endlessly until food arrived and finally stopped them. Bruce, I swear at one point Ragnor told a joke in Coptic and Ty laughed. They’re hardcore over there at the Scholomance. Maybe too hardcore for me. But don’t get me wrong—it was very nice to have them here. It reminded me that when this project is complete and all the Blackthorns are here and can make it their own, this house could feel warm and friendly again. It didn’t even feel that cursed as we lay in front of the fireplace playing Clue (they call it Cluedo here) until Ty was falling asleep.
Update: Sunday night. Ragnor and Ty left this afternoon. It was really great to have them here, it was good for Julian and I to have other people here in the house to talk to other than the builders. Ty and Julian spent a bunch of time roaming around the gardens, deciding which old statues are ruined in a decorative, attractive manner, and which are just ruined. We’re going to have to get some new statues when we redo the garden, which Ty was very excited about; he thinks we should have one of Holmes holding a magnifying glass, and one of Watson.
The only weird thing is that Ghost!Rupert was missing for the whole visit, and then reappeared an hour after they left. We showed him the map and what Ragnor told us, and he just said he’s sure Ragnor is right. And it turns out he did talk to Ty at some point. He said Ty is “kind to ghosts.” Maybe Ty made him a ghost sandwich or read him a ghost bedtime story or something. Ty certainly didn’t say anything about it.
So, that’s all for now! I guess we’re going to head to St Mary Abchurch tomorrow afternoon, and then depending how that goes we’ll check out this townhouse and see if there’s still a scandalous Soho club there. Though what Ragnor would consider scandalous might not be that scandalous to us. I guess we’ll find out! For all we know it’s just some guy’s house and he’ll be very confused to see us!
Good night, Bruce. It’s nice to think of what it will be like when all the Blackthorns are here and the place is full of noise and activity. It’s the first time since we started I’ve really been able to envision it, even through the curse. Meanwhile, I’m going to tuck a Polaroid of us playing Cluedo here between these pages in case you want something to look at later.
Julian to Alec
Hello from Chiswick! I’m sure Magnus has been keeping you up-to-date on the adventures we’ve been having here at Blackthorn Hall. We’ve been making progress, slow as it is, but the place still feels very far from being a house I or my family would want to live in. Except Dru, who claims she’d rather keep it cursed for the ambience (not that she’s been here yet.)
All of that is to say I suggest you thank the Angel every day that Tatiana Lightwood married a Blackthorn and this house is our problem and not yours. Anyway, you get the update this time instead of M.; you’ll see why soon.
Our search for the objects that hold the Curse of Tatiana continue! We’ve run out of objects that Rupert has any inkling about, which means we have gotten into the ley-line maps. I can hear Magnus groaning from here as you read this to him. Yes, Eighteenth-century ley-line maps, second only to ancient Babylonian star charts for their ease of reading and understanding. You can tell Magnus he can stop putting his coat on, though, because we got in touch with Ragnor Fell asked him to come from the Scholomance to help us. I suspect Ty harassed him until he agreed (though I have no proof) but he was polite enough about it. Polite for Ragnor, I mean.
The ley-lines suggested two possible locations where something important might be kept—a Downworlder gentleman’s club and a church, both in central London. We decided to start with the church, which is named St. Mary Abchurch. (Am I wrong or are British names weirdly silly sometimes? Emma immediately started calling it “St. Church von Church,” and now that’s the only way I can think of it.)
Anyway, St. Church the Churchiest is a not-huge red brick church on Abchurch Lane (funny how that works out). We took the train and then the Tube to get there, which may have been the most complex part of the day, just figuring out how to navigate the whole weird mundane system. The church was pretty quiet and empty—it was the middle of the afternoon and there were a handful of tourists, but I don’t think it’s well-known so we didn’t have to worry. We weren’t glamoured, but nobody paid any attention to us anyway. Tattoos are pretty common in London.
We walked the whole church, pretending to gaze thoughtfully at the memorials and the paintings on the inside of the dome and so on while waving the Sensor around as much as we could and waiting for it to respond.
And it was not responding. Covering the whole church didn’t take all that long; like I said, it’s not huge.
Emma pointed out that just because the church was on a ley-line in London didn’t mean Tatiana had necessarily left anything there, since there are way more ley-lines than objects we’re looking for. And she’s right—we’re assuming Tatiana didn’t break into some mundane’s house on the same ley-line and leave anything there, but I guess she might have. It would have been a very strange thing to do, but whatever else we’ve learned about Tatiana we do feel pretty confident she was a strange one.
We did get a break, though—just before we were about to leave Emma went to look at a display for visitors on the wall about the history of the church. There was a whole bit about how in the Second World War the dome of Abchurch St. Abchurch was hit by a bomb during the Blitz of London (Tessa was an nurse during the Blitz — did you know that?). Most of it was just about the dome and how it was broken and how long it took to fix and who fixed what, but at the end there was a bit about how for safekeeping a number of the church’s more valuable possessions were removed. There was an artist’s rendering of those possessions—I guess most of them didn’t end up coming back to the church—and now at last you get to find out why I’m writing to you and not Magnus!
Right at one end of the illustration was a pair of candlesticks and on the candlesticks, a very familiar symbol indeed. Flames—and not just flames, but the same flames you’ll find on that family ring of yours. And also a big script “L.”
So, any chance you or Isabelle recognize these? Did they get taken out of the church by a Lightwood, or returned to one? I know it’s a long shot but it seems like it would be too big a coincidence for a pair of Shadowhunter candlesticks to randomly be in St. Mary Abchurch. Let me know if the candlesticks ring any bells for you or Izzy and give our love to the kiddies!
Emma to Cristina
Emma to Cristina
Sorry to startle you, I just wrote “Dear Cristina” with the comma first and it seemed a little down. Thought I would try to spice it up a little. And I want to hear from you because I miss you and it’s highly annoying that you couldn’t be in New York.
Why did Nene have to pick this exact time to visit you guys? Is it because she has faerie intuition and carefully decided to keep us apart? I mean, no, probably not, she seems like a pretty good person. But still! Show up a week later, Nene! Also disappointed to hear that she didn’t spill anything about what the heck is up in the Seelie Court. I guess if she had given up the court’s secrets to Kieran — who is, technically, the King of the Unseelie Court — the Seelie Queen would consider that “bad” and Nene to be a “traitor,” but that’s nothing compared to how much we want to know what’s up.
Anyway. We’re back from New York, where the weather was much worse than in London, but whatever. We’d sent that picture of the candlesticks from the church to Alec, and he showed them to his mom, who recognized them. She said Robert had brought them along with a bunch of other inherited Lightwood stuff when they left Idris for NYC, and she had no idea what had happened to them since, but they were probably in the NY Institute somewhere. Well, we’ve got the Ghost Sensor, so we said goodbye to Rupert and headed over. (Julian wondered whether Rupert misses us when we’re gone, but it’s hard to tell if ghosts can tell the passage of time. In any case we didn’t find sad faces drawn in the dust when we came back, or anything like that.)
So we saw Jace and Clary, of course, and Alec came to help. I think he was really curious since it’s his family’s stuff. (We were hoping to see Simon and Isabelle but they were off recruiting for Shadowhunter Academy. And Magnus stayed home with the kids. He texted us a video from their apartment where he asked Max and Rafe, “Are we going to help our friends?” and they both shouted, “No!” It was cute. I mean, Max and Rafe were cute. Magnus was maybe milking it a little.)
Finding the candlesticks was…pretty easy, actually, kind of anticlimactic. They were hiding in plain sight in the church’s nave among all the other candlesticks and candelabras and other candle-related things. And the Sensor led us right to them. So maybe they weren’t removed in the Blitz but instead the Lightwoods took them back? Or maybe they were removed and then brought back and sometime after that Robert’s parents took them out of the church? We’ll probably never know, but it also probably doesn’t matter since, whatever, we have them, mystery solved.
In celebration we ordered a pizza and ate it by the light of the candlesticks. New York pizza! It is the best. It hurts to say that a little, as an LA girl, but the truth is the truth. I’d missed it so. Pizza in London is…well, best not to speak of it.
So while we were eating Jace asked Alec if there was any news from Idris, and Julian and I kind of looked at each other because there’s never news from Idris, the Cohort have all shut themselves in there and refuse to come out or let anyone in, you know the deal.
Alec revealed that they had been working on some new variation on fire-messages that would be able to get through the wards around Idris. Mostly using Clary’s power to invent new runes. They’ve been sending them for a while, trying different things, but hadn’t gotten any responses until very recently when they heard from one of my least favorite people, Manuel.
So Alec and Manuel have apparently been sending messages back and forth. Zara refuses to respond and Manuel implied that she didn’t like that he and Alec were talking. Alec thinks he might be lying and Zara might not even know. But Alec also thinks Manuel is tired of being stuck there and might be their way in, since (as we all know) Manuel cares about Manuel above everything else, certainly way more than he cares about the Cohort’s supposed mission. Like Jace said, Zara is a true believer, but Manuel is just an opportunist.
This was all super-interesting, of course, but Julian and I started to feel bad remembering that Alec is, you know, the Consul. Julian said he knew Alec had important Consul stuff to do and it was great that he had come to help find the candlesticks anyway. And then Alec said a really nice thing! He said that their New York crew had always had to work in secret, that they’d always thought of the Clave as the enemy. Well, maybe not the enemy, but not their ally. The Clave they grew up with, you know, locked Jace in the Silent City and refused to believe that Valentine was returning. They would never have thought of going to them for help. So Alec said it was really important to him as Consul to actually be there for the Shadowhunters, to be someone they could know and talk to and bring problems to, rather than hiding. And I guess we did know Alec personally before, and they are his family’s candlesticks, but still, it was nice that he thought of it as part of his Consul duties to help us out, rather than thinking of it as something taking time away from his Real Work. He said this was his Real Work, and we’d better not stop coming to him and Magnus for help.
So then after a while Clary announced that she and I needed to have some girl talk and whisked me off to Taki’s for coffee. Julian she left with Jace and Alec. When last I saw him Jace was guiding him towards the weapons room to take a look at the collection of 17th-century Spanish military swords he’d recently found in one of the church weapons caches somewhere in New York. Julian watched me leave like a puppy being taken to the vet for shots, but I think he had a good time. So he says, anyway.
Clary and I settled into a booth at Taki’s. She wanted to ask me how I was doing, and I started telling her, but she seemed distracted, and I realized that maybe she needed to talk to me about how she was doing. Which turned out to be true. She’s worried because Alec likes to believe the best of people, and he’s really optimistic about the progress they’ve made getting in touch with Manuel, but Clary thinks Zara is a manipulative psycho. On which topic we agree.
“You think it’s a trick?” I said. “Or a trap?”
She said she didn’t know. But then she kind of argued with herself and said she understood how important it was to open up Idris, that she knew the Clave couldn’t survive forever split in two like this.
I said it seemed like it was really weighing heavily on them, and she kind of sighed and gave me the big news, or rather the lack of big news, which is that she and Jace have decided they don’t want to get married until the Clave is reunited. And Simon and Isabelle feel the same way.
“It’s not like there’s any reason to rush,” she said. She was looking out the window as she said it, though, and she sounded kind of sad. “But we don’t want a wedding where all anyone is thinking about is how Idris is off-limits and the Clave is broken.”
She kept looking out the window, so I asked if she saw someone out there, and she kind of looked guilty and turned back to me. “Oh, no, I thought I saw Jace for a minute, but it wasn’t him.”
Finally we got around to how I’m doing and I got to tell her the thing I’m worried about, which you and I have talked about a little. Which is that Julian and I are fixing up this house and I guess…we’re going to move here? Like, move to London. And out of Los Angeles for good. And I haven’t really gotten to think about what that would be like. I was thinking of it as a kind of temporary thing where we would fix up the house and then go home. And it’s easy to feel that way because of all the stuff going on with the Clave.
But for Julian, this will be our new home. And I can’t blame him for wanting that. I mean, for one thing, he’s a Blackthorn and it’s Blackthorn Hall. But we grew up in Los Angeles. I’m an LA girl, all my memories of my parents are of them in Los Angeles. But then we both do have many hard memories from the LA Institute, and it would be nice to put them behind us and get a fresh start. I don’t know. Do you ever find it strange, that you live in New York now? And Faerie? Do you miss the D.F.?
Maybe it’s Idris being out of reach that makes it feel so strange. I grew up always knowing that however spread out the Shadowhunters might be we all had a home together in Idris. It held the Clave together all over the world. But what if Idris is really gone for us, Cristina?
What if it’s gone forever?
Julian to Mark
Hey, how are things? I wanted to update you on the situation here at Blackthorn Hall and find out how everything is going at Polyamorous Cottage, as Emma calls it. We think you guys should lean into that, by the way, maybe give the house a deliberate name like Polyam House or, like, Maison de Beaucoup Amours.
Sorry, I’m just teasing. You know we love you guys and we love that you’re all together. We miss you and look forward to visiting you at Booty Palace as soon as it’s feasible.
Meanwhile I’ve got a story for you—a story in which a warlock was wrong. Very, very wrong.
So as you know, we only have one more object to find of the ones Tatiana used to power the curse on Blackthorn Hall. Ragnor Fell pointed out a couple of locations intersecting ley-lines in central London that he thought would be likely places to look. One of them led us (eventually) to the Lightwood candlesticks. The other pointed to a random townhouse in an alley in Soho which Ragnor identified as the location of the “Hell Ruelle.” He said when he knew it, it was a Downworlder club of some notoriety—a “salon” where Downworlders came to discuss art and politics, gamble, drink, and watch other Downworlders dance erotically: his words, not mine. He made it sound like it was quite scandalous in his day, known for a kind of bawdy excess but also for attracting all the most prominent and intellectual Downworlders of the city. Like, halfway between an academic symposium and a burlesque club, that’s open 24 hours and serves alcohol. We could tell from Ragnor’s tone that he disapproved, but since I’ve almost never known Ragnor to approve of anything, that wasn’t a big surprise.
He also said that they weren’t fond of Shadowhunters, so we put on the clothes we thought might be most appropriate to a Soho club — Emma put on a little flowered dress and I grabbed a couple of things out of the Groovy Sixties Wardrobe, figuring they had a hipster vibe at this point — and went when we thought it would be busy, around ten on a Friday night.
Sooooooo it turns out that Ragnor’s information was somewhat out of date. The Hell Ruelle is still a club all right, and a Downworlder club, but now it’s the other kind of club. The one full of very old men in leather armchairs reading newspapers. Downworlder old men, at least. Some very white-haired werewolves, vampires dressed like it was 1840 (or they were on their way to a cosplay convention), some faeries that, speaking frankly, looked like gigantic dried fruit that had learned to read newspapers. There are little nooks and crannies that I guess must have been used for assignations and rendezvous and so on but now were mostly occupied by irate prunes complaining to equally pruny waiters that their soup wasn’t hot enough.
There is still a bar, of course. And gambling, though it seems to mostly be bridge. Poker would be a little too high-energy for this crew, I think. Anyway I have no idea what they made of us; Emma and I thought they would complain about our outfits or our being Shadowhunters but nobody paid us any attention at all. We were even walking around with the Sensor out and pointing it at things but no reaction.
The Sensor went off a few times but nowhere near any objects, just at random spots around the house, which Emma suggested were probably other ghosts not relevant to us. It certainly felt like the kind of place that would have a bunch of resident ghosts.
Finally the Sensor went off near an actual object. Unfortunately, it was a cardboard box—a little smaller than a shoebox, stuffed above some old books on one of the bookshelves, all of which, box, books, shelves, were covered in a significant amount of dust. The box looked like it had been wrapped as a gift—it was wrapped in bright gold paper and there was some ribbon tied around it—but when we opened it up it was totally empty.
We didn’t know what to do. I thought maybe the box itself was the cursed object, but I knew that was ridiculous. It must have been the thing that had been in the box. Eventually we worked up the courage to ask the bartender if we could see someone in charge, and surprisingly he just went in the back to get the guy, no questions asked. I guess there isn’t a lot of excitement there and he was happy to have something to do.
Anyway, the Hell Ruelle is run these days by a warlock named Zebulon Spoon, and his thing is that he has a cat head. Like, instead of a human head, his head is shaped like a cat’s, with the giant eyes and the whiskers and fur. He had cat ears on the top of his head but they were folded over, kind of like a dog’s. He was also wearing a jaunty brown hat with holes cut out for the ears. (“Magnus got off easy with his warlock mark” was my main takeaway.)
Anyway, he didn’t meow or anything, just narrowed his eyes at us and asked our business. He started to go into the Ruelle’s licenses and how they were all supporters of the Accords and I think there must be some history where the club refused membership to some Shadowhunters. We reassured him that we weren’t here about that but were instead doing some family history research, that we’d been led to this box but we weren’t sure what had been in it or where that thing had gotten to.
Spoon harumphed at us—he did a lot of harumphing—and said, “I do happen to know that box. I thought it had been discarded long ago. It contained a fish slice.”
“Like a knife?” Emma said.
Spoon looked affronted. “Like a fish slice,” he said to us, in a tone that suggested he thought we might be idiots.
Luckily Emma had her phone with her, and this turned out to be a bit of a language barrier between American and British language. Here, a “fish slice” means…well, a spatula.
“Someone gave a spatula as a present?” I said. “Just a spatula?”
The warlock looked more and more affronted by every question. “This fish slice was sterling silver,” he said. “It was a wedding present, long ago, from some Shadowhunters to some other Shadowhunters. It must be a hundred years or more. Here, I think there are some names on the outside, if they’re still readable.”
He was right. There was ink on the side, and it was fairly smudged with time, but we were able to make it out: “Congratulations W&T, with love from Henry and Charlotte.”
“Who were Henry and Charlotte?” Emma asked.
“No idea,” said Spoon. “This is all decades before I was born. I’m only seventy years old, you know.”
“A veritable spring chicken,” I said, and he looked pleased. Anything to keep him talking, I suppose.
“As I say, I don’t know how it made its way here,” Spoon went on. “When I came in here I found it in the Dark Magic Room.”
Obviously, we asked him what the “Dark Magic Room” was.
“You know,” he said, puzzled. “The Dark Magic Room. A lot of odds and ends are left here, you see, and most of them are just exploding with dark magic. None of the staff want anything to do with dark magic, of course. So those things are kept in the Dark Magic Room, which used to be a larder, I suppose, but it’s long been strongly warded. Occasionally someone comes looking for something they’ve left, so we keep them…safe.”
The way he looked at me I suddenly understood. It was not just a Lost and Found. They kept the dark magical artifacts safe…from Shadowhunters finding out about them and investigating.
“How often does that happen anymore?” said Emma, saying what I was thinking. The crowd in the club didn’t seem like they would bring in that kind of excitement.
“Well, the Ruelle used to be a lot different than it is today,” Spoon allowed. “We’ve done a lot of work over the years to make it a more respectable place, where Downworlders can find a little peace and quiet. That’s a rarer and rarer commodity, I’ve found, peace and quiet. Intrigue and adventure they can get in all the rest of the city, these days.”
“You were telling us about the Dark Magic Room,” I politely said. “And the fish slice.”
“Quite,” Spoon said, blinking. “As I was saying, when I came on we set a new policy for the Dark Magic Room. Anything over a hundred years old was getting binned. Or at least it wasn’t staying here. Immortal we may be, but it’s my feeling that if a vampire or a warlock doesn’t need something for a hundred years, they probably aren’t going to need it later either.” We nodded. Spoon folded his arms. “So I traded the fish slice to a phouka for a hat.”
The last sentence was so abrupt that I just said, “Pardon?”
“I traded the fish slice,” said Spoon in a reasonable tone of voice, “to a phouka. For a hat. This hat, in fact. You see it has holes for my ears to stick through.”
Emma nodded thoughtfully in a way that suggested she had no idea what to say. “Couldn’t you just have cut ear holes in a regular hat?” I said.
Of course not, Spoon explained. “That would ruin the hat,” he said. “This one was made like this. Also, as I said, I was trying to get rid of the fish slice. Frankly, just having it around was upsetting the mermaids. They were very relieved to have it out of here. Fish slicing indeed.”
“But it doesn’t actually slice fish,” Emma said. “It’s just a spatula.”
“Fish slicing indeed,” Spoon said. “Upsets them. Cuts them to the bone, in fact!” And then we had to wait about a full minute while he laughed at his own joke.
And now we get to the heart of the letter: we’re trying to track down this phouka and hoping Kieran might have a thought. A phouka who…makes hats? Maybe he likes to wave a silver spatula around? It’s a long shot, but it’s all we’ve got to go on. We don’t want to spook him, so if you do find him, you can tell him we want to commission some hats. I mean, we don’t need holes for cat ears but he does sound like he knows his stuff, hat-wise.
My love to K and C. Hope to hear from you soon.
Ty to Dru
I’m back from London, and Julian and Emma told me to tell you “hello” and also “they send their love.” But that is not the important part of the letter, which is later. But you shouldn’t skip to that part, I will explain why soon.
Blackthorn Hall is actually pretty cool. It’s big and it’s old, and lots of parts don’t work properly yet, but Emma and Jules have done a lot to make it nice. There’s lots of bedrooms. I picked out one for me, which they called the “gray bedroom,” but honestly all the bedrooms are kind of gray. They said it’s so we can paint them if we want, they’ll be our rooms and we can decorate them how we like.
You’ll have to pick out the one you want when you visit, but I found one that I bet will be your favorite. It overlooks the gardens which I think will be the last thing to get fixed up, and so will continue to look creepy for a while. There are all these broken statues with plants grown over them, like they were trying to kill the statues. Like they succeeded in killing the statues. It looks like if you went walking down there the vines would wrap around you and pull you underground. You’ll love it.
I didn’t sleep well before we traveled to London and now I think it was because I was worried. Anush says our bodies often tell us how we are feeling even when our minds aren’t conscious of it. Like feeling nauseated before an important test. You probably know what I mean.
But it was good. Especially to see Jules and Emma. I hadn’t realized how much I missed them until I saw them. I think I felt it like Anush says, like a weird pressure in my chest that went away when Jules hugged me. Maybe it’s the same for you. Or maybe you already know how much you miss them. Anyway I thought it was important to say I also miss you and it’ll be nice when we can all be in the same house together again. I think Irene will like it there too.
Ragnor’s map did actually help, so it was good he came. He found a couple of places in London to check for more of those cursed objects, so that’s one step closer to un-cursing the house. I know, it would be cool to live in a cursed house. But it wouldn’t be fair to Rupert the Ghost, since he’s trapped there because of the curse. And anyway there’s all this renovation work that the builders won’t do until the curse is lifted. And it would be good if the house’s roof didn’t leak. That might be a little too gloomy even for you.
Now we’ve talked about the bedrooms, the house, and Ragnor, so if anyone asks you can tell them those are the things we discussed. We are now at the part of the letter where I have to tell you important things but I wanted you to have information you could share in case someone asked you if you had heard from me. I mean, if someone important asks you. If someone we don’t know asks you, Anush says you can say “Make like a tree and leave,” which I don’t understand but he says will definitely work.
So, the important part. Rupert the Ghost. I wasn’t really thinking when I wrote up above that it will be nice for us to all be together. I mean, it will be, but it’s not quite that simple, at least for me. See…Rupert saw Livvy. She wasn’t hiding or anything, and she didn’t act surprised that he saw her. But I’ve spent so much time worried about other, you know, living people finding out about her. It hadn’t even occurred to me that of course there are ghosts everywhere, all over the world, and they’ll all know she’s there. The ghosts here at the Scholomance know about her, of course, but Edvard and Prudence keep to themselves and nobody really pays attention to either of them. Prudence is always in the library pretending to shelve books (or actually shelving ghost books, I can’t tell) and Edvard paces slowly through the halls and barely ever talks. Sometimes he moans, but that’s just him complaining.
Rupert and Livvy had a couple of conversations with just the two of them, I guess about ghost stuff. She says she made him promise that he wouldn’t say anything about seeing her, but ghosts can lie. So what if he says something to Emma or Julian? What if he can tell that something is weird with the way Livvy is a ghost and he mentions that?
The thing is, it’s not just Rupert. Even if he stays quiet, I already almost made Emma suspicious by talking to Livvy myself. I had to tell her I was talking to you on the phone. I know about Rupert and I know about Edvard and Prudence, but there could be ghosts anyplace I go, and if someone else is there and they start interacting with Livvy I’m going to have to explain. I got used to Edvard and Prudence ignoring her but Rupert drifted right into the bedroom and asked her who she was.
Livvy says I shouldn’t worry. She reminds me that any Shadowhunter can see ghosts who want to be seen, like Edvard and Prudence, but that it’s much harder to see a ghost who doesn’t want to be seen, and that’s most ghosts. She says Rupert wanted to be seen — first by Emma and Jules and then by Livvy and me, though only Livvy’s seen him really clearly— but if he didn’t, I’d never have known he was there. She says she’s able to hide herself from almost all people (even Jace, and he has latent ghost-seeing powers), and even able to hide herself from a lot of ghosts. And that even if they do see her, they won’t necessarily know who she is, it’s not like ghosts can just identify each other. And she says if she has to, she’ll just lie to them.
She said a lot of reassuring things. But it still gave me a cold feeling, which I think is my body telling my brain that I’m afraid. If Julian and Emma found out about Livvy, they wouldn’t just be angry. They’d feel like they had to do something, like lay her to rest. People don’t think ghosts can be happy, but Livvy is happy. She helps me with work and she tells me advice for Anush (he has a crush on Rayan’s sister Nasha) and when we’re alone we play games or I read to her. She can’t do everything but why would being all the way dead be better? Everyone calls it “rest” but no one really knows, do they?
Maybe you have ideas. Tell me if you have ideas.
Letter from Kieran
To: Julian Blackthorn of Blackthorn Hall
From: The Court of Unseelie
It always brings a smile to my face to receive correspondence from Blackthorn Hall, and this occasion is no exception. Mark has communicated to me your question, and I am pleased to answer it, although the answer may not, I am afraid, please you overmuch.
As you know, the borders of Faerie are hazy and irregular, and no man can know how vast its acres, for it flows on to the north, south, east, and west without end. And as you also know, such an expanse may contain within it unknown thousands of denizens, from the smallest sprite on its fairyfly mount, to the grandest ogre who ever
ogred down ogre street MARK. STOP IT. Ahem.
My apologies. I stepped away from the composition of this epistle for only a moment and a certain fellow of both our acquaintance has made free with my pen.
As I was saying, Faerie is exceedingly expansive and its inhabitants without number, and so it is very unlikely that I would have knowledge of a stray member of the Folk. I say this not to scold you, but only to lower your expectations, as your question is a bit like my asking you if you knew someone whose only commonality with you is that they also have lived in Los Angeles.
But as it happens, I have lowered your expectations only to make their fulfillment the more gratifying, for I do, in fact, know the phouka of which you speak!
Or rather, I know of him. His name is Socks MacPherson (though very clearly that is not his True Name, for no loving mother of any faerie sort would name a child Socks) and he has some renown in the courts as a milliner. He specializes in hats devised for those whose features may cause difficulty with a normal fit (e.g., horns, cat ears, bat ears, fox ears, hair made of snakes).
Alas, he is allegiant to the Seelie Court, as he holds a royal warrant to produce his wares for the Queen. Because of this, it would be impossible for me to seek out MacPherson for any business beyond the commissioning of a hat, and I do not need a hat, as they do not fit well over crowns.
That said, I believe I can still help you. I will send word to my brother Adaon, and ask him to invite you to the Seelie Court for a friendly meeting. There you will be able to meet with MacPherson himself. I authorize you to offer him a gift which he doubtless accept in exchange for his assistance: one favor from the Unseelie King. (Me.)
I provide this assistance from the bottom of my heart, brother Julian. But I would ask you for a small courtesy in return: that you tell me about your time in the Seelie Court, with all the detail that you think relevant or interesting. I told Mark I would be asking you this, and he became cross with me and suggested I was asking you to act as my spy. Let me be clear that I am in no way asking you to act on behalf of the Unseelie Court or to violate any confidences from your visit that you wish to keep. I would, however, ask you to pay close attention to everything you see and hear, and provide an account to me, especially anything that the Court would prefer to hide.
As always, I remain your obedient servant. Glory to Kraig.
Invitation to Faerie
Julian To Kieran
PRIVATE COMMUNIQUE: DO NOT SHARE ON PAIN OF DEATH
From: Julian Blackthorn of Blackthorn Hall
To: Kieran, King of Unseelie
Well, we’re back from the Seelie Court. Good news: we got the fish slice. Bad news: we didn’t learn very much and we raised a lot of suspicion. But I’m happy to share with you how things went in the hope that you will find it informative. I hope also that you will consider it sufficient exchange for the favor you now owe a phouka. (I am pretty sure that favor will involve asking you to buy a hat.)
We were pretty nervous about going, even with Adaon’s invite—the last time we were in Faerie, things were not great. It was all gray smoke and snow and moths and blasted areas of dead land. All of that seems to be over and done with; Faerie looks healthy again. It was autumn there, and the ground was covered in fallen leaves, all red and gold.
Anyway, we followed Adaon’s instructions and entered Faerie through an old barrow at Primrose Hill. We ended up in a forest clearing with two big wooden doors rising up out of the ground. And Adaon was there to meet us, which was nice of him.
But he did not look happy. He hurried over and explained that he had had to tell the Queen we were coming. “There isn’t much that occurs under her roof,” he said, “of which she is unaware. It is how she has maintained her power all this time, in part.”
He looked so miserable that Emma told him it was all fine and we weren’t doing anything that the Queen would disapprove of, or even care about. He just kind of shook his head. “One never knows just what her Majesty will care about. Or disapprove of. She has bid me take you both to the throne room upon your arrival, and so that is what I must do.”
Now I began to feel a bit more nervous. I reminded Adaon that he had guaranteed our safety. He said, “By the laws of hospitality, not to mention the Accords, she may not harm you or detain you, if your purpose be virtuous.” But he was shaking his head again.
“Let me guess,” I said. “The Queen has the exclusive power to decide if our purpose is virtuous or not.”
Adaon smiled thinly. “Quite.” But he brought us to the throne room.
The throne room was just as autumn-themed as the clearing. More so, really. But it wasn’t about the end of the growing season or being sad that summer was over. It was more like a harvest celebration. There were cornucopias, is what I’m saying, spilling over with gourds, apples, pears, corncobs. There were hay bales, which is kind of funny since nobody in that throne room has, I promise you, ever baled hay. There were pixies with fiery butterfly wings, circling the ceiling.
The Queen was, not surprisingly, on her throne. She wore a dress that I swear, was entirely made of glittering green scarab beetles sewed together. Her hair was like an explosion of red-gold flames around her face. She doesn’t look sickly or emaciated anymore, like she did when we last saw her, and she seemed to exude a power she’d been missing before.
There were the usual groups of faeries scattered around the room—courtiers, I guess—gossiping, tittering, sometimes just sitting around being louche. So everything seemed normal there. They barely paid attention to us, just kind of craned their necks over, realized we weren’t interesting, and got back to lounging.
I expected the Queen to immediately start insulting us, but she was actually quite cordial. Not warm. But not unfriendly, either. Of course, she did want to be complimented on the décor first. She waved her hand around at the throne room and opened with, “You choose a fair season to visit us.”
“It’s cheerier than last time,” Emma said.
“And yet you have chosen to return,” the Queen said, as though she was pleased about it, “despite the…lack of cheer at our last meeting.”
“It has been a long time since we saw our friend Adaon,” I said. “We sought the pleasure of his company.”
“Sayest thou such?” said the Queen, which I suspect is Faerie-speak for So, that’s obviously bullshit. “As you must know, it is not outside the realm of my knowledge that your brother is the consort of the Unseelie King.”
“Only one of his consorts,” Emma pointed out.
The Queen ignored her. “Surely you’ve anticipated that I would suspect you of espionage.”
“We are not here for the Unseelie King,” I said, “but rather regarding our interests in the Seelie Court. Indeed, our family is connected to the Seelie Court in several ways. As you know.”
The Queen ignored me as well. “Your best defense, it seems to me, is that you are such obvious choices for espionage, that surely Kieran Kingson [I think this was meant to be an insult to you, me or both of us] would be cleverer than to choose you as his spies.”
“That too,” Emma said.
“Well, then,” the Queen said. “Spin me a tale. What is your purpose here?”
I felt like we had nothing to lose with the truth—we really weren’t doing anything the Queen should care about. So I gave her the whole story: we inherited a house in London; the house is cursed; we want to undo the curse. I emphasized that neither the house nor the curse were fey-related at all. (I did not bring up Round Tom, as I thought it would be distracting to the main point.)
Breaking the curse requires that (among other things) we get our hands on this fish slice; we’ve learned the fish slice is or was in the possession of Socks MacPherson the phouka; we’ve come to bargain with him for it, and we arranged an invitation through Adaon because we had no way to contact MacPherson directly.
“All we need to do,” Emma said, “is barter with MacPherson for the fish slice. We can do it right here in the throne room, if he could be sent for.”
The Queen looked very interested all of a sudden. “You are willing to do the business here, and never enter the Court proper at all?”
I explained to the Queen that we strongly shared her desire for us not to have to enter the Court.
She seemed surprised, but she called over one of the courtiers and murmured to him. “The phouka will be sent for,” she said. “Prince Adaon, when the Nephilim have concluded their negotiation with him, you will escort them back outside and see them off.” Adaon bowed his assent. “And now,” she said, and her eyes flicked over to one side, “I must beg your pardon, as I see that I am needed.”
We stepped aside to let her descend the throne. I saw that a man had come in who I didn’t recognize—but he was clearly someone of importance given how differently he was dressed than anybody else there. Rather than garb appropriate to court, he was in a gray-green hooded cloak, and his face was obscured by a mask like a falcon head. His clothes were more appropriate to hunting in the woods than anything else, but they were perfectly clean. I didn’t know what to make of him—but I thought I had better pass along his description to you. You said to look for anything new or out of place, and I couldn’t help feeling like he was.
We waited around and chatted with Adaon for a couple of minutes and then Socks MacPherson showed up. We’ve met a couple phoukas before—one of them is the gatekeeper at the LA Shadow Market, as you might remember—and I had thought maybe MacPherson would turn out to be one of those, but no, totally different guy. He was wearing a huge round fur hat that his ears stuck through. It was a lot of hat.
He seemed surprised that the Queen had left us alone, and said he was sorry if we had been harassed overmuch on his account. I said she had probably meant to loom over us but had been called away unexpectedly. MacPherson shrugged and said, “She thinks everything is a move in some game of five-dimensional chess she is playing. But sometimes, someone only wants to trade me something for a kitchen tool. Speaking of which, I have the fish slice.”
He took it out of a kind of carpet bag he had brought with him, and immediately the Ghost Sensor went off like crazy and he kind of jumped away and hid behind one of the groups of courtiers. Although we could still see his hat. (And his ears twitching above the hat.) So we had to go over and explain that it was just a device that detected the cursed objects we were looking for and that the noise was good because it confirmed that the fish slice was the one we wanted. The courtiers shooed us away; they had some important luxuriating to get to that we were delaying.
Socks grumbled that of course “that miserable Spoon” gave him a cursed fish slice. “I don’t know why I took the deal,” he said. “I don’t have any use for this thing. I’m a vegetarian.”
Finally he asked what we were offering, we told him a favor from you and explained how it was we were qualified to offer such a thing. He said the offer was acceptable and we took home the fish slice.
To sum up: Socks MacPherson is protected by the Seelie Court but didn’t blink at accepting a favor from the Unseelie Court. The Queen remains suspicious, both in the sense that she suspected us and in the sense that her behavior was itself weird. The Seelie Court is definitely hiding something, given how relieved the Queen was the minute she realized we weren’t going to actually leave the throne room and enter the court to look around. I have a feeling, based on nothing really — that it’s not a something but a someone that they’re concealing—if it was an object surely they could just hide it somewhere we wouldn’t see it? But, it’s just a feeling.
So that’s it. My deepest gratitude to you, as always, for all your help. I’m sure you were anticipating more information than the above, but hopefully it will be of some use to you.
Our love to Mark and Cristina, and to you of course. And above all, glory to Kraig.
- There is a spirit attached to Tatiana's diary that is not the ghost causing disruptions. Instead, it works to prevent the reader from revealing what they've read and it can give the reader bad dreams.
- Due to the delayed release of Chain of Thorns, Cassandra Clare may extend the end date of this series.
- The series was originally intended to be a novella compilation about Julian and Emma before Cassandra Clare decided to make it focus on more characters and to include images, sound files, and the like.
- It is meant to tie The Last Hours to The Dark Artifices and The Wicked Powers and explore how they are connected.
- It may eventually be released in print or collected in a pdf, however all the multimedia additions make that difficult and so it is not planned at this time, though Cassandra is currently looking into how to do so.
- Though installments were released weekly during its yearlong run, there was a holiday break from December 20, 2021 to January 24, 2022 in which no new updates were posted.
- The trouble Dru got into with her roommate at the Shadowhunter Academy-In-Exile mentioned in the 25th installment was expanded further in Cassandra Clare's Valentine's day 2022 newsletter with a missive from Luke Garroway—that is tentatively considered canon—in which he discusses a love spell that was casted over the campus that caused a number of complications outside of being illegal.
- "SOBH will go on through September at the least, maybe longer" — Cassandra Clare on Twitter
- Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- Cassandra Clare on Instagram
- Cassandra Clare's August 2021 newsletter
- "That guy would actually be a troll demon" — Cassandra Clare on Twitter
- "A lovely cockroach demon in a dress." Cassandra Jean on Twitter
- "The spirit of the diary mostly works to prevent the person reading it from revealing what they’ve read, ands can give bad dreams." Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- Cassandra Clare's April 2022 newsletter
- "There are a ton of projects I’d like to work on — a Jules and Emma novella collection" — Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- Cassandra Clare's announcement of the project on Instagram Live
- "The idea behind this project is the different connections between The Dark Artifices, The Last Hours and The Wicked Powers." Cassandra Clare with TMI Source
- "It is a possibility in the far future." Cassandra Clare on Twitter
- "I've been thinking about how to make that happen! Stay tuned." Cassandra Clare on Twitter
- "We will take a short break and resume regular posting on January 24th, 2022." Cassandra Clare on Twitter
- "I do my best to keep the newsletter canon, but if I had to do something that contradicted a newsletter later down the road, I would." CC on Twitter
- "Yes, the letter Emma and Julian got was from Luke, about the Incident" — CC on Twitter