Emma and Julian have been walking for some hours when Emma realized they were being followed. It had actually been a pretty pleasant walk, along a tramped path in the woods. Julian was easy enough to talk to when she tried not to think about how he felt about her or how he felt. They avoided the topics of Livvy and the parabatai curse and talked instead about the Clave and what it’s next plan might be and how Zara might figure into them. Julian walked ahead holding a map. consulting it when enough light rayed down from the trees to make it readable.
“We could reach the Unseelie Court by tomorrow,” he said, pausing in the middle of the clearing. “Depending how much we’re willing to travel at night.”
Emma stopped in her tracks.”We’re being followed.” she said.
Julian stopped as well and turned to her, holding the map. “You’re sure?”
His voice was quiet. Emma strained an ear, a tiny breakage of branches behind them, the thump of a footfall. She nodded, “I’m sure.”
There was no doubt in Julian’s eyes, Emma felt a faint gratification that even in his current state Julian trusted her skills implicitly.
“We can’t run.” he said. He was right, the trail was too rocky.
“Come on,” Emma grabbed Julian’s hand and a moment later they were skinning up the tallest of the oak trees in the clearing. Emma found the fork of a branch and sold into it, Julian swung up across from her. They clung to the tree trunk and looked down.
Footfalls were getting closer. Hoofbeats, Emma realized and then a kelpie, dark green with a mane of shimmering seaweed rose into the clearing, a rider on it’s back.
Emma sucked in her breath, the rider was a man wearing shadowhunter gear. She leaned down to see more. Not a man, a boy. Thin and narrow faced with shots of black hair.
“Dane Larkspear on a kelpie,” Julian muttered. “What is this? If I see Zara come riding on the Loch Ness Monster we’re going home.”
The kelpie had stopped dead in the middle of the clearing, it was rolling it’s eyes, deep black with no whites. Closer up it looked less like a horse even thought it had a mane and tail and four legs more like a frightening creature thing. Something that never meant to be out of water.
“Hurry up,” Dane jerked on the kelpie’s bridle and and a memory flickered in the back of Emma’s mind, something about bridling a kelpie forced it to obey you. “We need to find Emma and Julian before nightfall.”
The kelpie spoke, Emma jolted. “I do not know those creatures, master. I do not know what they look like.”
“It doesn’t matter, pick up their trail.” Dean smacked the kelpie across the shoulder. “Okay I’ll describe them for you, Julian’s the kind of guy who would have a girl as a parabatai, get it?”
“No.” Said the kelpie.
“He spends all his time chasing little kids around, he had like a million children. It’s really creepy.”
“In my culture it is men who bear children.” Said the kelpie.
“That’s disgusting,” said Dane. “Now pay attention. Emma, she’s the kind of girl that’d be hot if she ever shut up.”
“I will kill him,” Emma said. “I will kill him while talking the whole time.”
“I don’t really understand human attitudes towards beauty,” said the kelpie. “I like seaweed on a woman.”
“Shut up,” Dane jerked the bridle and the kelpie exposed it’s needle-like teeth in a hiss. “We need to find them before the sun goes down.” His smile was ugly. “Once I get back with the black book Zara will give me anything I want. Maybe one of Julian Blackthorn’s sisters.”
Emma was out of the tree so fast, the world was a blur of green leaves and red rage. She landed on Dane Larkspear and knocked him out of his saddle forcing an ‘oof’ of pain out of him when they hit the ground together. She punched him in the stomach and he doubled up while she sprang to her feet, she grabbed her sword. She would have been worried if Julian wouldn’t have followed her but he was already on the ground, yanking off the kelpie’s bridle.
“My lord,” the kelpie bowed it’s forelegs to Julian. Dane was coughing and gagging, rolling on the ground in pain. “Thank you for freeing me.”
“Don’t mention it,” Julian said.
The kelpie straightened. “May you find fortune and good luck in many children.
“Thanks.” Julian tossed the bridle aside and the kelpie dashed into the forest.
Emma stood over Dane with her sword pointed at his throat, laying flat on the ground he glared at her. “What are you doing Larkspear, we were sent to get the black book, not you.”
“Sure, you were sent to get it,” he turned his dead and spat blood. “And then I was supposed to get it from you. That’s what I was sent to do.”
“And we weren’t supposed to notice you following us? You sounded like an elephant, a sexist elephant. You’re a terrible Shadowhunter.“ Said Emma.
"No one asked you.”
“Be quiet. And did the Inquisitor seriously tell you that if you got the book from us you could have Dru? She’s thirteen!”
Dane just stared at her. “What?” Emma’s voice dripped sarcasm, “Am I talking too much?”
Emma suddenly realized Dane wasn’t staring at her but behind her, Julian had come up quietly and was standing with his longsword in his hand looking at Dane with a frightening coldness.
“You know,” he said. “That if you ever touch Dru, I’ll kill you.”
Dane pushed himself up on his elbows. “You’ll be dead by then.”