The raven boys, p.23

The Raven Boys, page 23

 part  #1 of  The Raven Cycle Series


The Raven Boys

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Page 23


  "I know you are there," not-Neeve said, in the voice that sounded like dark places, far away from the sun. "I can smell you. "

  Something crawled very slowly up the back of Blue’s neck, on the inside of her skin. It was such a hideously real creep that she was badly tempted to slap it or scratch it.

  She wanted to go inside and pretend she had not come out, but she didn’t want to leave Neeve behind if something —

  Blue didn’t want to think it, but she did.

  She didn’t want to leave Neeve behind if something had her.

  "I am here," Blue said.

  The candle flame stretched very, very long.

  Not-Neeve asked, "What is your name?"

  It occurred to Blue that she wasn’t exactly certain that Neeve’s mouth moved when she spoke. It was hard to look at her face.

  "Neeve," Blue lied.

  "Come where I can see you. "

  There was definitely something moving in the little black pool. The water was reflecting colors that were not in the candle. They shifted and moved in a pattern completely unlike the movement of the flame.

  Blue shivered. "I am invisible. "

  "Ahhhhhhh," sighed not-Neeve.

  "Who are you?" Blue asked.

  The candle flame reached tall, tall, thin to the point of breaking. It reached not for the sky but for Blue.

  "Neeve," said not-Neeve.

  There was something crafty now, to the dark voice. Something knowing and malicious, something that made Blue want to look over her shoulder. But she couldn’t look away from that candle, because she was afraid the flame would touch her if she turned away.

  "Where are you?" Blue asked.

  "On the corpse road," not-Neeve growled.

  Blue became aware that her breath clouded in front of her. Goose bumps pricked her arms, fast and painful. In the half-light of the candle, she saw that Neeve’s breath was visible, too.

  The cloud of Neeve’s breath parted over the pool, like something physical was rising from the water to break the path of it.

  Rushing forward, Blue kicked over the empty bowl, knocked over the unlit candle, scuffed dirt in the direction of the black pool.

  The candle went out.

  There was a minute of complete blackness. There was no sound, as if the tree and the yard around it were not in Henrietta anymore. Despite the silence, Blue did not feel alone, and it was a terrible feeling.

  I am inside a bubble, she thought furiously. I am in a fortress. There is glass all around me. I can see out but nothing can get in. I am untouchable. All of the visuals that Maura had given her to protect herself from psychic attack. It felt like nothing at all against the voice that had come out of Neeve.

  But then there was nothing. Her goose bumps had disappeared as quickly as they’d come. Slowly, her eyes adjusted to the darkness — though it felt like light leeching back into the world — and she found Neeve, still kneeling by the pool of water.

  "Neeve," whispered Blue.

  For a moment, nothing happened, and then Neeve lifted her chin and her hands.

  Please be Neeve. Please be Neeve.

  Blue’s entire body was poised to run.

  Then she saw that Neeve’s eyebrows were ordered and firm over her eyes, though her hands were quivering. Blue let out a relieved sigh.

  "Blue?" Neeve asked. Her voice was quite normal. Then, with sudden understanding: "Oh. You won’t tell your mother about this, will you?"

  Blue stared at her. "I most certainly will! What was that? What were you doing?" Her heart was still going fast and she realized that she was terrified, now that she could think about it.

  Neeve took in the broken pentagram, the knocked-over candle, the overturned bowl. "I was scrying. "

  Her mild voice only infuriated Blue.

  "Scrying is what you did earlier. This was not the same thing!"

  "I was scrying into that space I saw earlier. I was hoping to make contact with someone who was in it to find out what it was. "

  Blue’s voice was not nearly as steady as she would’ve liked. "It spoke. It was not you when I came out here. "

  "Well," Neeve said, sounding a little cross, "that was your fault. You make everything stronger. I wasn’t expecting you to be here, or I would’ve …"

  She trailed off and looked at the stub of the candle, her head cocked. It wasn’t a particularly human sort of gesture, and it made Blue remember the nasty chill she had gotten before.

  "Would’ve what?" Blue demanded. She was a little cross, too, that she was somehow being blamed for whatever had just happened. "What was that? It said it was on the corpse road. Is that the same thing as a ley line?"

  "Of course," Neeve said. "Henrietta’s on a ley line. "

  That meant that Gansey was right. It also meant Blue knew exactly where the ley line ran, because she’d seen Gansey’s spirit walk along it only a few days earlier.

  "It’s why it’s easy to be a psychic here," Neeve said. "The energy is strong. "

  "Energy, like my energy?" Blue asked.

  Neeve did a complicated hand gesture before picking up the candle. She held it upside down in front of her and pinched the wick to be certain it was entirely extinguished. "Energy like your energy. Feeds things. How did you put it? Makes the conversation louder. The lightbulb brighter. Everything that needs energy to stay alive craves it, just like they crave your energy. "

  "What did you see?" Blue asked. "When you were —?"

  "Scrying," Neeve finished for her, though Blue wasn’t at all certain that was how she would’ve finished it. "There’s someone who knows your name there. And there’s someone else who is looking for this thing that you’re looking for. "

  "That I’m looking for!" Blue echoed, dismayed. There was nothing she was looking for. Unless Neeve was talking about the mysterious Glendower. She recalled that feeling of connection, of feeling tied up in this web of raven boys and sleeping kings and ley lines. Of her mother saying to stay away from them.

  "Yes, you know what it is," Neeve replied. "Ah. Everything seems so much clearer now. "

  Blue thought about that stretching, hungry candle flame, the shifting lights inside the pool of water. She felt cold somewhere very deep inside her. "You haven’t said what that was yet. In the pool. "

  Neeve looked up then, all of her supplies gathered in her arms. Her gaze was the unbreakable one that could last an eternity.

  "That’s because I have no idea," she said.

  Chapter 18

  Whelk took the liberty of going through Gansey’s locker before school the next day.

  Gansey’s locker, one of the few in use, was only a couple doors down from Whelk’s old one, and the feeling of opening it brought back a rush of memory and nostalgia. Once upon a time, this had been him — one of the wealthiest kids at Aglionby, with whichever friends he wanted, whichever Henrietta girls caught his eye, whichever classes he felt like going to. His father had no compunction about making an extra donation here or there to help Whelk pass a class he’d failed to attend for a few weeks. Whelk longed for his old car. The cops here had known his father well; they hadn’t even bothered to pull Whelk over.

  And now Gansey was a king here, and he didn’t even know how to use it.

  Thanks to Aglionby’s honor code, there were no locks on any of the lockers, allowing Whelk to open Gansey’s without any fuss. Inside, he found several dusty spiral-bound notebooks with only a few pages used in each. In case Gansey decided to come into school two hours early, Whelk left a note in the locker ("Belongings have been removed while we spray for roaches") and then retreated back to one of the unused staff bathrooms to examine his find.

  Sitting cross-legged on the pristine but dusty tile beside the sink, what he found was that Richard Gansey III was more obsessed with the ley line than he had ever been. Something about the entire research process seemed … frantic.

  What is wrong with this kid? Whelk wond
ered, and then immediately afterward felt strange that he had grown old enough to think of Gansey as a kid.

  Outside the bathroom, he heard heels clicking down the hallway. The scent of coffee drifted under the doorway; Aglionby was beginning to stir. Whelk flipped to the next notebook.

  This one was not about the ley line. It was all historical stuff about the Welsh king Owen Glendower. Whelk was not interested. He skimmed, skimmed, skimmed, thinking it was unrelated, until he realized the case Gansey was making for tying the two elements together: Glendower and the ley line. Stooge or not, Gansey knew how to sell a story.

  Whelk focused on one line.

  Whoever wakes Glendower is granted a favor (limitless?) (supernatural?) (some sources say reciprocal/what does that mean?)

  Czerny had never cared about the ultimate outcome of the ley line search. At first, Whelk hadn’t, either. The appeal had merely been the riddle of it. Then one afternoon Czerny and Whelk, standing in the middle of what seemed to be a naturally formed circle of magnetically charged stones, had experimentally pushed one of the stones out of place. The resulting sizzle of energy had knocked them both off their feet and created a faint apparition of what looked like a woman.

  The ley line was raw, uncontrollable, inexplicable energy. The stuff of legends.

  Whoever controlled the ley line would be more than rich. Whoever controlled the ley line would be something that the other Aglionby boys could only hope to aspire to.

  Czerny still hadn’t cared, not really. He was the most mild, ambitionless creature Whelk had ever seen, which was probably why Whelk liked to hang out with him so much. Czerny didn’t have a problem being no better than the other Aglionby students. He was content to trot along after Whelk. These days, when Whelk was trying to comfort himself, he told himself that Czerny was a sheep, but sometimes he slipped and remembered him as loyal instead.

  They didn’t have to be different things, did they?

  "Glendower," Whelk said out loud, trying it out. The word echoed off the bathroom walls, hollow and metallic. He wondered what Gansey — strange, desperate Gansey — was thinking he’d ask for as a favor.

  Climbing up off the bathroom floor, Whelk picked up all the notebooks. It would only take a few minutes to copy them in the staff room, and if anyone asked, he’d tell them Gansey had asked him to.


  If Whelk found him, he’d ask for what he’d wanted all along: to control the ley line.

  Chapter 19

  The following afternoon, Blue walked barefoot to the street in front of 300 Fox Way and sat on the curb to wait for Calla beneath the blue-green trees. All afternoon Neeve had been locked up in her room and Maura had been doing angel-card readings for a group of out-of-towners on a writing retreat. So Blue had taken all afternoon to contemplate what to do about finding Neeve in the backyard. And what to do involved Calla.

  She was just getting restless when Calla’s carpool pulled up at the curb.

  "Are you putting yourself out with the trash?" Calla asked as she climbed out of the vehicle, which was blue-green like everything else in the day. She wore a strangely respectable dress with dubiously funky rhinestone sandals. Making a lackadaisical hand motion at the driver, she turned to Blue as the car drove away.

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