There were two of them, a boy and a girl, probably seventeen or eighteen. The boy was red-haired, tall, and athletic-looking; Kit couldn’t see the girl’s face, just masses of blond hair, cascading to her waist. She wore a golden sword strapped across her back and walked with the kind of confidence you couldn’t fake.
They both wore gear, the tough black protective clothing that marked them out as Nephilim: part-human, part-angel, the uncontested rulers over every supernatural creature on earth. They had Institutes—like massive police stations—in nearly every big city on the planet, from Rio to Baghdad to Lahore to Los Angeles. Most Shadowhunters were born what they were, but they could make humans into Shadowhunters too if they felt like it. They’d been desperate to fill out their ranks since they’d lost so many lives in the Dark War. The word was they’d kidnap anyone under nineteen who showed any sign of being decent potential Shadowhunter material.
Anyone, in other words, who had the Sight.
“They’re heading to your dad’s booth,” Wren whispered. She was right. Kit tensed as he saw them turn down the row of stalls and head unerringly toward the sign that read JOHNNY ROOK’S.
“Get up.” Wren was on her feet, shooing Kit into a standing position. She leaned down to fold up her merch inside the cloth they’d been sitting on. Kit noticed an odd drawing on the back of her hand, a symbol like lines of water running underneath a flame. Maybe she’d been doodling on herself. “I’ve got to go.”
“Because of the Shadowhunters?” he said in surprise, standing back to allow her to pack up.
“Shh.” She hurried away, her colorful hair bouncing.
“Weird,” Kit muttered, and headed back toward his dad’s booth. He approached from the side, head down, hands in his pockets. He was pretty sure his dad would yell at him if he presented himself in front of the Shadowhunters—especially considering the rumors that they were press-ganging every mundane with the Sight under nineteen—but he couldn’t help but want to eavesdrop.
The blond girl was leaning forward, elbows on the wooden counter. “Good to see you, Rook,” she said with a winning smile.
She was pretty, Kit thought. Older than he was, and the boy she was with towered over him. And she was a Shadowhunter. So she was undateably pretty, but pretty nonetheless. Her arms were bare, and a long, pale scar ran from one elbow to her wrist. Black tattoos in the shapes of strange symbols twined up and down them, patterning her skin. One peeked from the V of her shirt. They were runes, the sorcerous Marks that gave the Shadowhunters their power. Only Shadowhunters could wear them. If you drew them on a normal person’s skin, or a Downworlder’s, they would go insane.
“And who’s this?” Johnny Rook asked, jerking his chin toward the Shadowhunter boy. “The famous parabatai?”
Kit looked at the pair with renewed interest. Everyone who knew about Nephilim knew what parabatai were. Two Shadowhunters who swore to be platonically loyal to each other forever, always to fight by each other’s sides. To live and die for each other. Jace Herondale and Clary Fairchild, the most famous Shadowhunters in the world, each had a parabatai. Even Kit knew that much.
“No,” the girl drawled, picking up a jar of greenish liquid from a stack by the cash register. It was meant to be a love potion, though Kit knew that several of the jars held water that had been dyed with food coloring. “This isn’t really Julian’s kind of place.” Her gaze flicked around the Market.
“I’m Cameron Ashdown.” The redheaded Shadowhunter stuck out a hand and Johnny, looking bemused, shook it. Kit took the opportunity to edge behind the counter. “I’m Emma’s boyfriend.”
The blond girl—Emma—winced, barely perceptibly. Cameron Ashdown might be her boyfriend now, Kit thought, but he wouldn’t lay bets on him staying that way.
“Huh,” said Johnny, taking the jar out of Emma’s hand. “So I assume you’re here to pick up what you left.” He fished what looked like a scrap of red cloth out of his pocket. Kit stared. What could possibly be interesting about a square of cotton?
Emma straightened up. She looked eager now. “Did you find out anything?”
“If you dropped it in a washing machine with a load of whites, it would definitely turn your socks pink.”
Emma took the cloth back with a frown. “I’m serious. You don’t know how many people I had to bribe to get this. It was in the Spiral Labyrinth. It’s a piece of the shirt my mom was wearing when she was killed.”
Johnny held up a hand. “I know. I was just—”
“Don’t be sarcastic. My job is being sarcastic and quippy. Your job is getting shaken down for information.”
“Or paid,” said Cameron Ashdown. “Being paid for information is also fine.”