City of Ashes – Chapte 13: A HOST OF REBEL ANGELS

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Chapte13: A HOST OF REBEL ANGELS

THERE ARE THREE DISTINCT SECTIONS TO RAVEL’S GASPARD de la Nuit; Jace had played his way through the first when he got up from the piano, went into the kitchen, picked up Luke’s phone, and made a single call. Then he went back to the piano and the Gaspard.

He was halfway through the third section when he saw a light sweep across Luke’s front lawn. It cut off a moment later, plunging the view from the front window into darkness, but Jace was already on his feet and reaching for his jacket.

He closed Luke’s front door behind him soundlessly and loped down the front steps two at a time. On the lawn by the footpath was a motorcycle, the engine still rumbling. It had a weirdly organic look to it: Pipes like ropy veins wound up and over the chassis, and the single headlight, now dim, resembled a gleaming eye. In a way, it looked as alive as the boy who was leaning against the cycle, looking at Jace curiously. He was wearing a brown leather jacket and his dark hair curled down to the collar of it and fell over his narrowed eyes. He was grinning, exposing pointed white teeth. Of course, Jace thought, neither the boy nor the motorcycle was really alive; they both ran on demon energies, fed by the night.

“Raphael,” Jace said, by way of greeting.

“You see,” Raphael said, “I have brought it, as you asked me to. ”

“I see that. ”

“Though, I might add, I have been very curious as to why you should want such a thing as a demonic motorcycle. They are not exactly Covenant, for one thing, and for another, it is rumored you already have one. ”

“I do have one,” Jace admitted, circling the cycle so as to examine it from all angles. “But it’s on the roof of the Institute, and I can’t get to it right now. ”

Raphael chuckled softly. “It seems we’re both unwelcome at the Institute. ”

“You bloodsuckers still on the Most Wanted list?”

Raphael leaned to the side and spit, delicately, onto the ground. “They accuse us of murders,” he said angrily. “The death of the were-creature, the faerie, even the warlock, though I have told them we do not drink warlock blood. It is bitter and can work strange changes in those who consume it. ”

“You told Maryse this?”

“Maryse. ” Raphael’s eyes glittered. “I could not speak with her if I wanted to. All decisions are made through the Inquisitor now, all inquiries and requests routed through her. It is a bad situation, friend, a bad situation. ”

“You’re telling me,” said Jace. “And we’re not friends. I agreed not to tell the Clave what happened with Simon because I needed your help. Not because I like you. ”

Raphael grinned, his teeth flashing white in the dark. “You like me. ” He tilted his head to the side. “It is odd,” he reflected. “I would have thought you would seem different now that you are in disgrace with the Clave. No longer their favored son. I thought some of that arrogance might have been beaten out of you. But you are just the same. ”

“I believe in consistency,” Jace said. “Are you going to let me have the bike, or not?”

“I take it that means you’re not going to give me a ride home?” Raphael moved gracefully away from the motorcycle; as he moved, Jace caught the bright glint of the gold chain around his throat.

“Nope. ” Jace climbed onto the bike. “But you can sleep in the cellar under the house if you’re worried about sunrise. ”

“Mmm. ” Raphael seemed thoughtful; he was a few inches shorter than Jace, and though he looked younger physically, his eyes were much older. “So are we even for Simon now, Shadowhunter?”

Jace gunned the bike, turning it toward the river. “We’ll never be even, bloodsucker, but at least this is a start. ”

Jace hadn’t ridden a cycle since the weather had changed, and he was caught short by the icy wind that arced off the river, piercing his thin jacket and the denim of his jeans with dozens of ice-tipped needles of cold. Jace shivered, glad that at least he had worn leather gloves to protect his hands.

The world seemed leached of color. The river was the color of steel, the sky gray as a dove, the horizon a thick black painted line in the distance. Lights winked and glittered along the spans of the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges. The air tasted of snow, though winter was months away.

The last time he’d flown over the river, Clary had been with him, her arms around him and her small hands bunched in the material of his jacket. He hadn’t been cold then. He banked the cycle viciously and felt it lurch sideways; he thought he saw his own shadow flung against the water, tilted crazily to the side. As he righted himself, he saw it: a ship with black metal sides, unmarked and almost lightless, its prow a narrow blade scything the water ahead. It reminded him of a shark, lean and quick and deadly.

He braked and drifted carefully downward, soundless, a leaf caught in a tide. He didn’t feel as if he were falling, more as if the ship were lifting itself to meet him, buoyed on a rising current. The wheels of the cycle touched down onto the deck and he glided slowly to a stop. There was no need to cut the engine; he swung his legs off the cycle and its rumble subsided to a growl, then a purr, then silence. When he glanced back at it, it looked a little as if it were glowering at him, like an unhappy dog after being told to stay.

He grinned at it. “I’ll be back for you,” he said. “I’ve got to check out this boat first. ”

There was a lot to check out. He was standing on a wide deck, the water to his left. Everything was painted black: the deck, the metal guardrail that encircled it; even the windows in the long, narrow cabin were blacked out. The boat was bigger than he’d expected it to be: probably the length of a football field, maybe more. It wasn’t like any ship he’d ever seen before: too big to be a yacht, too small to be a naval vessel, and he’d never seen a ship where everything was painted black. Jace wondered where his father had gotten it.

Leaving the bike, he started a slow circuit around the deck. The clouds had cleared and the stars shone down, impossibly bright. He could see the city illuminated on both sides of him as if he stood in an empty narrow-walled passage made of light. His boots echoed hollowly against the deck. He wondered suddenly if Valentine was even here. Jace had rarely been anywhere that seemed so thoroughly deserted.

He paused for a moment at the bow of the boat, looking out over the river that sliced between Manhattan and Long Island like a scar. The water was churned to gray peaks, lashed with silver along their tops, and a strong and steady wind was blowing, the kind of wind that blew only across water. He stretched his arms out and let the wind take his jacket and blow it back like wings, whip his hair across his face, sting his eyes to tears.

There had been a lake by the manor house in Idris. His father had taught him to sail on it, taught him the language of wind and water, of buoyancy and air. All men should know how to sail, he had said. It was one of the few times he’d ever spoken like that, saying all men and not all Shadowhunters. It was a brief reminder that whatever else Jace might be, he was still part of the human race.

Turning away from the bow with his eyes stinging, Jace saw a door set into the wall of the cabin between two blacked-out windows. Crossing the deck quickly, he tried the handle; it was locked. With his stele, he carved a quick set of Opening runes into the metal and the door swung open, the hinges shrieking in protest and shedding red flakes of rust. Jace ducked under the low doorway and found himself in a dimly lit metal stairwell. The air smelled of rust and disuse. He took another step forward and the door shut behind him with an echoing metallic slam, plunging him into darkness.

He swore, feeling for the witchlight rune-stone in his pocket. His gloves felt suddenly clunky, his fingers stiff with cold. He was colder inside than he had been out on the deck. The air was like ice. He drew his hand out of his pocket, shivering, and not just from the temperature. The hair along the back of his neck was prickling, his every nerve screaming. Something was wrong.

He raised the rune-stone and it flared into light, making his eyes water even more. Through the blur he saw the slender figure of a girl standing in front of him, her hands clasped across her chest, her hair a splash of red color against the black metal all around them.

His hand shook, scattering leaping darts of witchlight as if a host of fireflies had risen out of the darkness below. “Clary?”

She stared at him, white-faced, her lips trembling. Questions died in his throat—what was she doing here? How had she gotten to the ship? A spasm of terror gripped him, worse than any fear he’d ever felt for himself. Something was wrong with her, with Clary. He took a step forward, just as she moved her hands away from her chest and held them out to him. They were sticky with blood. Blood covered the front of her white dress like a scarlet bib.

He caught her with one arm as she sagged forward. He nearly dropped the witchlight as her weight fell against him. He could feel the beat of her heart, the brush of her soft hair against his chin, so familiar. The scent of her was different, though. That scent he associated with Clary, a mix of floral soap and clean cotton, was gone; he smelled only blood and metal. Her head tilted back, her eyes rolling up to the whites. The wild beating of her heart was slowing—stopping—

“No!” He shook her, hard enough that her head rolled against his arm. “Clary! Wake up!” He shook her again, and this time her lashes fluttered; he felt his relief like a sudden cold sweat, and then her eyes were open, but they were no longer green; they were an opaque and glowing white, white and blinding as headlights on a dark road, white as the clamoring noise inside his own mind. I’ve seen those eyes before, he thought, and then darkness surged up over him like a wave, bringing silence with it.

There were holes punched into the darkness, glimmering dots of light against shadow. Jace closed his eyes, trying to calm his own breathing. There was a coppery taste in his mouth, like blood, and he could tell that he was lying on a cold metal surface and that the chill was seeping through his clothes and into his skin. He counted backward from one hundred inside his head until his breathing slowed. Then he opened his eyes again.

The darkness was still there, but it had resolved itself into familiar night sky punctuated by stars. He was on the deck of the ship, flat on his back in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, which loomed at the ship’s bow like a gray mountain of metal and stone. He groaned and lifted himself onto his elbows—then froze as he became aware of another shadow, this one recognizably human, leaning over him. “That was a nasty knock to the head you got,” said the voice that haunted his nightmares. “How do you feel?”

Jace sat up and immediately regretted it as his stomach lurched. If he’d eaten anything in the past ten hours, he was fairly sure he would have thrown it up. As it was, the sour taste of bile flooded his mouth. “I feel like hell. ”

Valentine smiled. He was sitting on a stack of empty, flattened boxes, wearing a neat gray suit and tie, as if he were seated behind the elegant mahogany desk at the Wayland manor house in Idris. “I have another obvious question for you. How did you find me?”

“I tortured it out of your Raum demon,” said Jace. “You’re the one who taught me where they keep their hearts. I threatened it and it told me—well, they’re not very bright, but it managed to tell me it had come from a ship on the river. I looked up and saw the shadow of your boat on the water. It told me you’d summoned it too, but I already knew that. ”

“I see. ” Valentine seemed to be hiding a smile. “Next time you should at least tell me you’re coming before you drop by. It would save you a nasty run-in with my guards. ”

“Guards?” Jace propped himself against the cold metal railing and took in deep breaths of clean, cold air. “You mean demons, don’t you? You used the Sword to summon them. ”

“I don’t deny that,” Valentine said. “Lucian’s beasts shattered my army of Forsaken, and I had neither time nor inclination to create more. Now that I have the Mortal Sword, I no longer need them. I have others. ”

Jace thought of Clary, bloody and dying in his arms. He put a hand to his forehead. It was cool where the metal railing had touched it. “That thing in the stairwell,” he said. “It wasn’t Clary, was it?”

“Clary?” Valentine sounded mildly surprised. “Is that what you saw?”

“Why wouldn’t it be what I saw?” Jace struggled to keep his voice flat, nonchalant. He wasn’t unfamiliar or uncomfortable with secrets—either his own or other people’s—but his feelings for Clary were something he had told himself he could bear only if he did not look at them too closely.

But this was Valentine. He looked at everything closely, studying it, analyzing in what way it could be turned to his advantage. In that way he reminded Jace of the Queen of the Seelie Court: cool, menacing, calculating.

“What you encountered in the stairwell,” Valentine said, “was Agramon—the Demon of Fear. Agramon takes the form of whatever most terrifies you. When it is done feeding on your terror, it kills you, presuming you are still alive at that point. Most men—and women—die of fear before that. You are to be congratulated for holding out as long as you did. ”

“Agramon?” Jace was astonished. “That’s a Greater Demon. Where did you get hold of that?”

“I paid a young and hubristic warlock to summon it for me. He thought that if the demon remained inside his pentagram, he could control it. Unfortunately for him, his greatest fear was that a demon he summoned would break the wards of the pentagram and attack him, and that’s exactly what happened when Agramon came through. ”

“So that’s how he died,” Jace said.

“How who died?”

“The warlock,” Jace said. “His name was Elias. He was sixteen. But you knew that, didn’t you? The Ritual of Infernal Conversion—”

Valentine laughed. “You have been busy, haven’t you? So you know why I sent those demons to Lucian’s house, don’t you?”

“You wanted Maia,” said Jace. “Because she’s a werewolf child. You need her blood. ”

“I sent the Drevak demons to spy out what there was to see at Lucian’s and report back to me,” Valentine said. “Lucian killed one of them, but when the other reported the presence of a young lycanthrope—”

“You sent the Raum demons to take her. ” Jace felt suddenly very tired. “Because Luke is fond of her and you wanted to hurt him if you could. ” He paused, and then said, in a measured tone: “Which is pretty low, even for you. ”

For a moment a spark of anger lit Valentine’s eyes; then he threw his head back and roared with mirth. “I admire your stubbornness. It’s so much like mine. ” He got to his feet then and held a hand out for Jace to take. “Come. Walk around the deck with me. There’s something I want to show you. ”

Jace wanted to spurn the offered hand, but wasn’t sure, considering the pain in his head, that he could make it to his feet unaided. Besides, it was probably better not to anger his father so soon; whatever Valentine might say about prizing Jace’s rebelliousness, he had never had much patience with disobedient behavior.

Valentine’s hand was cool and dry, his grip oddly reassuring. When Jace was on his feet, Valentine released his hold and drew a stele out of his pocket. “Let me take those injuries away,” he said, reaching out for his son.

Jace drew away—after a second’s hesitation that Valentine would surely have noticed. “I don’t want your help. ”

Valentine put the stele away. “As you like. ” He began to walk, and Jace, after a moment, followed him, jogging to catch up. He knew his father well enough to know he would never turn around to see if Jace had pursued him, but would just expect that he had and begin talking accordingly.

He was right. By the time Jace reached his father’s side, Valentine had already started speaking. He had his hands loosely clasped behind his back and moved with an easy, careless grace, unusual in a big, broad-shouldered man. He leaned forward as he walked, almost as if he were striding into a heavy wind.

“… if I recall correctly,” Valentine was saying, “you are in fact familiar with Milton’s Paradise Lost?”

“You only made me read it ten or fifteen times,” said Jace. “It’s better to reign in hell than serve in heaven, etcetera, and so on. ”

“Non serviam,” said Valentine. “‘I will not serve. ’ It’s what Lucifer had inscribed upon his banner when he rode with his host of rebel angels against a corrupt authority. ”

“What’s your point? That you’re on the devil’s side?”

“Some say Milton was on the devil’s side himself. His Satan is certainly a more interesting figure than his God. ” They had nearly reached the front of the ship. He stopped and leaned against the guardrail.

Jace joined him there. They had passed the bridges of the East River and were heading out into the open water between Staten Island and Manhattan. The lights of the downtown financial district shimmered like witchlight on the water. The sky was powdered with diamond dust and the river hid its secrets under a slick black sheet, broken here and there with a silvery flash that could have been a fish’s tail—or a mermaid’s. My city, Jace thought, experimentally, but the words still brought to mind Alicante and its crystal towers, not the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

After a moment Valentine said, “Why are you here, Jonathan? I wondered after I saw you in the Bone City if your hatred for me was implacable. I had nearly given up on you. ”

His tone was level, as it almost always was, but there was something in it—not vulnerability but at least a sort of genuine curiosity, as if he had realized that Jace was capable of surprising him.

Jace looked out at the water. “The Queen of the Seelie Court wanted me to ask you a question,” he said. “She told me to ask you what blood runs in my veins. ”

Surprise passed over Valentine’s face like a hand smoothing away all expression. “You spoke with the Queen?”

Jace said nothing.

“It is the way of the Folk. Everything they say has more than one meaning. Tell her, if she asks again, that the blood of the Angel runs in your veins. ”

“And in every Shadowhunter’s veins,” said Jace, disappointed. He’d hoped for a better answer. “You wouldn’t lie to the Queen of the Seelie Court, would you?”

Valentine’s tone was short. “No. And you wouldn’t come here just to ask me that ridiculous question. Why are you really here, Jonathan?”

“I had to talk to someone. ” He wasn’t as good at controlling his voice as his father was; he could hear the pain in it, like a bleeding wound just under the surface. “The Lightwoods—I’m nothing but trouble for them. Luke must hate me by now. The Inquisitor wants me dead. I did something to hurt Alec and I’m not even sure what. ”

“And your sister?” Valentine said. “What about Clarissa?”

Why do you have to ruin everything? “She’s not too pleased with me either. ” He hesitated. “I remembered what you said at the Bone City. That you never got a chance to tell me the truth. I don’t trust you,” he added. “I want you to know that. But I thought I’d give you the chance to tell me why. ”

“You have to ask me more than why, Jonathan. ” There was a note in his father’s voice that startled Jace—a fierce humility that seemed to temper Valentine’s pride, as steel might be tempered by fire. “There are so many whys. ”

“Why did you kill the Silent Brothers? Why did you take the Mortal Sword? What are you planning? Why wasn’t the Mortal Cup enough for you?” Jace caught himself before he could ask any more questions. Why did you leave me a second time? Why did you tell me I wasn’t your son anymore, then come back for me anyway?

“You know what I want. The Clave is hopelessly corrupt and must be destroyed and built again. Idris must be freed from the influence of the degenerate races, and Earth made proof against the demonic threat. ”

“Yeah, about that demonic threat. ” Jace glanced around, as if he half-expected to see the black shadow of Agramon hulking toward him. “I thought you hated demons. Now you use them like servants. The Ravener, the Drevak demons, Agramon—they’re your employees. Guards, butler—personal chef, for all I know. ”

Valentine tapped his fingers on the railing. “I’m no friend to demons,” he said. “I am Nephilim, no matter how much I might think the Covenant is useless and the Law fraudulent. A man doesn’t have to agree with his government to be a patriot, does he? It takes a true patriot to dissent, to say he loves his country more than he cares for his own place in the social order. I’ve been vilified for my choice, forced into hiding, banished from Idris. But I am—I will always be—Nephilim. I can’t change the blood in my veins if I wished to—and I don’t. ”

I do. Jace thought of Clary. He glanced down at the dark water again, knowing it wasn’t true. To give up the hunt, the kill, the knowledge of one’s own soaring speed and sure abilities: It was impossible. He was a warrior. He could be nothing else.

“Do you?” Valentine asked. Jace looked away quickly, wondering if his father could read his face. It had been just the two of them alone for so many years. He’d known his father’s face better than his own, once. Valentine was the one person from whom he felt he could never hide what he was feeling. Or the first person, at least. Sometimes he felt as if Clary could look right through him as if he were glass.

“No,” he said. “I don’t. ”

“You’re a Shadowhunter forever?”

“I am,” Jace said, “in the end, what you made me. ”

“Good,” said Valentine. “That’s what I wanted to hear. ” He leaned back against the railing, looking up at the night sky. There was gray in his silvery white hair; Jace had never noticed it before. “This is a war,” Valentine said. “The only question is, what side will you fight on?”

“I thought we were all on the same side. I thought it was us against the demon worlds. ”

“If only it could be. Don’t you understand that if I felt that the Clave had the best interests of this world at heart, if I thought they were doing the best job they possibly could—by the Angel, why would I fight them? What reason would I have?”

Power, Jace thought, but he said nothing. He was no longer sure what to say, much less what to believe.

“If the Clave goes on as they are,” Valentine said, “the demons will see their weakness and attack, and the Clave, distracted by their endless courting of the degenerate races, will be in no condition to fight them off. The demons will attack and they will destroy and there will be nothing left. ”

The degenerate races. The words carried an uncomfortable familiarity; they recalled Jace’s childhood to him, in a way that was not entirely unpleasant. When he thought of his father and of Idris, it was always the same blurred memory of hot sunshine burning down on the green lawns in front of their country house, and of a big, dark, broad-shouldered figure leaning down to lift him off the grass and carry him inside. He must have been very young then, and he had never forgotten it, not the way the grass had smelled—green and bright and newly cut—or the way the sun had turned his father’s hair to a white halo, nor the feeling of being carried. Of being safe.

“Luke,” Jace said, with some difficulty. “Luke isn’t a degenerate—”

“Lucian is different. He was a Shadowhunter once. ” Valentine’s tone was flat and final. “This isn’t about specific Downworlders, Jonathan. This is about the survival of every living creature in this world. The Angel chose the Nephilim for a reason. We are the best of this world, and we are meant to save it. We are the closest thing that exists in this world to gods—and we must use that power to save this world from destruction, whatever the cost to us. ”

Jace leaned his elbows on the railing. It was cold here: The icy wind cut through his clothes, and the tips of his fingers were numb. But in his mind, he saw green hills and blue water and the honey-colored stones of the Wayland manor house.

“In the old tale,” he said, “Satan said to Adam and Eve ‘You shall be as gods’ when he tempted them into sin. And they were cast out of the garden because of it. ”

There was a pause before Valentine laughed. He said, “See, that’s what I need you for, Jonathan. You keep me from the sin of pride. ”

“There are all sorts of sins. ” Jace straightened up and turned to face his father. “You didn’t answer my question about the demons, Father. How can you justify summoning them, associating with them? Do you plan to send them against the Clave?”

“Of course I do,” said Valentine, without hesitation, without a moment’s pause to consider whether it might be wise to reveal his plans to someone who might share them with his enemies. Nothing could have shaken Jace more than to realize how sure his father was of success. “The Clave won’t yield to reason, only to force. I tried to build an army of Forsaken; with the Cup, I could create an army of new Shadowhunters, but that will take years. I don’t have years. We, the human race, don’t have years. With the Sword I can call to me an obedient army of demons. They will serve me as tools, do whatever I demand. They will have no choice. And when I am done with them, I will command them to destroy themselves, and they will do it. ” His voice was emotionless.

Jace was gripping the railing so hard that his fingers had begun to ache. “You can’t slaughter every Shadowhunter who opposes you. That’s murder. ”

“I won’t have to. When the Clave sees the power arrayed against them, they’ll surrender. They’re not suicidal. And there are those among them who support me. ” There was no arrogance in Valentine’s voice, only a calm certainty. “They will step forward when the time comes. ”

“I think you’re underestimating the Clave. ” Jace tried to make his voice steady. “I don’t think you understand how much they hate you. ”

“Hate is nothing when weighed against survival. ” Valentine’s hand went to his belt, where the hilt of the Sword gleamed dully. “But don’t take my word for it. I told you there was something I wanted to show you. Here it is. ”

He drew the Sword from its sheath and held it out to Jace. Jace had seen Maellartach before in the Bone City, hanging on the wall in the pavilion of the Speaking Stars. And he had seen the hilt of it protruding from Valentine’s shoulder sheath, but he’d never really examined it up close. The Angel’s Sword. It was a dark, heavy silver, glimmering with a dull sheen. Light seemed to move over and through it, as if it were made of water. In its hilt bloomed a fiery rose of light.

Jace spoke through his dry mouth. “Very nice. ”

“I want you to hold it. ” Valentine presented the Sword to his son, the way he’d always taught him, hilt first. The Sword seemed to shimmer blackly in the starlight.

Jace hesitated. “I don’t…”

“Take it. ” Valentine pressed it into his hand.

The moment Jace’s fingers closed around the grip, a spear of light shot up the hilt of the Sword and down the core of it into the blade. He looked quickly to his father, but Valentine was expressionless.

A dark pain spread up Jace’s arm and through his chest. It wasn’t that the Sword was heavy; it wasn’t. It was that it seemed to want to pull him downward, to drag him through the ship, through the green ocean water, through the fragile crust of the earth itself. Jace felt as if the breath were being torn out of his lungs. He flung his head up and looked around—

And saw that the night had changed. A glimmering net of thin gold wires had been flung across the sky, and the stars shone down through it, bright as nail heads hammered into the darkness. Jace saw the curve of the world as it slipped away from him, and for a moment was struck by the beauty of it all. Then the night sky seemed to crack open like a glass and pouring through the shards came a horde of dark shapes, humped and twisted, gnarled and faceless, howling out a soundless scream that seared the inside of his mind. Icy wind burned him as six-legged horses hurtled past, their hooves striking bloody sparks from the deck of the ship. The things that rode them were indescribable. Overhead eyeless, leathery-winged creatures circled, screeching and dripping a venomous green slime.

Jace bent over the railing, retching uncontrollably, the Sword still gripped in his hand. Below him the water churned with demons like a poisonous stew. He saw spiny creatures with bloody saucerlike eyes struggling as they were dragged under by boiling masses of slippery black tentacles. A mermaid caught in the grip of a ten-legged water spider screamed hopelessly as it sank its fangs into her thrashing tail, its red eyes glittering like beads of blood.

The Sword fell from Jace’s hand and clattered to the deck. Abruptly the sound and spectacle were gone and the night was silent. He hung tightly to the railing, staring down at the sea below in disbelief. It was empty, its surface ruffled only by wind.

“What was that?” Jace whispered. His throat felt rough, as if it had been scraped with sandpaper. He looked wildly at his father, who had bent to retrieve the Soul-Sword from the deck where Jace had dropped it. “Are those the demons you’ve already called?”

“No. ” Valentine slid Maellartach into its sheath. “Those are the demons that have been drawn to the edges of this world by the Sword. I brought my ship to this place because the wards are thin here. What you saw is my army, waiting on the other side of the wards—waiting for me to call them to my side. ” His eyes were grave. “Do you still think the Clave won’t capitulate?”

Jace closed his eyes and said, “Not all of them—not the Lightwoods—”

“You could convince them. If you stand with me, I swear no harm will come to them. ”

The darkness behind Jace’s eyes began to turn red. He had been imagining the ashes of Valentine’s old house, the blackened bones of the grandparents he’d never met. Now he saw other faces. Alec’s. Isabelle’s. Max’s. Clary’s.

“I’ve done so much to hurt them already,” he whispered. “Nothing else must happen to any of them. Nothing. ”

“Of course. I understand. ” And Jace realized, to his astonishment, that Valentine did understand, that somehow he saw what no one else seemed to be able to understand. “You think it is your fault, all the harm that has befallen your friends, your family. ”

“It is my fault. ”

“You’re right. It is. ” At that, Jace looked up in absolute astonishment. Surprise at being agreed with battled with horror and relief in equal measures.

“Is it?”

“The harm is not deliberate, of course. But you are like me. We poison and destroy everything we love. There is a reason for that. ”

“What reason?”

Valentine glanced up at the sky. “We are meant for a higher purpose, you and I. The distractions of the world are just that, distractions. If we allow ourselves to be turned aside from our course by them, we are duly punished. ”

“And our punishment is visited on everyone we care about? That seems a little hard on them. ”

“Fate is never fair. You are caught in a current much stronger than you are, Jonathan; struggle against it and you’ll drown not just yourself but those who try to save you. Swim with it, and you’ll survive. ”

“Clary—”

“No harm will come to your sister if you join with me. I will go to the ends of the earth to protect her. I will bring her to Idris, where nothing can happen to her. I promise you that. ”

“Alec. Isabelle. Max—”

“The Lightwood children, also, will have my protection. ”

Jace said softly, “Luke—”

Valentine hesitated, then said, “All your friends will be protected. Why can’t you believe me, Jonathan? This is the only way that you can save them. I swear it. ”

Jace couldn’t speak. He shut his eyes again. Inside him the cold of fall battled with the memory of summer.

“Have you made your decision?” Valentine said; Jace couldn’t see him, but he could hear the finality in the question. He even sounded eager.

Jace opened his eyes. The starlight was a white burst against his irises; for a moment he could see nothing else. He said, “Yes, Father. I’ve made my decision. ”

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