Chapte 15: THE SERPENT’S TOOTH
“LUKE,” CLARY BEGAN, THE MOMENT THE DOOR HAD SHUT behind the Lightwoods. “What are we going to do—”
Luke had his hands pressed to either side of his head as if he were keeping it from splitting in half. “Coffee,” he declared. “I need coffee. ”
“I brought you coffee. ”
He dropped his hands and sighed. “I need more. ”
Clary followed him into the kitchen, where he helped himself to yet more coffee before sitting down at the kitchen table and running his hands distractedly through his hair. “This is bad,” he said. “Very bad. ”
“You think?” Clary couldn’t imagine drinking coffee right now. Her nerves already felt like they were stretched out as thin as wires. “What happens if they take him to Idris?”
“Trial before the Clave. They’ll probably find him guilty. Then punishment. He’s young, so they might just strip his Marks, not curse him. ”
“What does that mean?”
Luke didn’t meet her eyes. “It means they’ll take his Marks away, unmake him as a Shadowhunter, and throw him out of the Clave. He’ll be a mundane. ”
“But that would kill him. It really would. He’d rather die. ”
“Don’t you think I know that?” Luke had finished his coffee and stared morosely at the mug before setting it back down. “But that won’t make any difference to the Clave. They can’t get their hands on Valentine, so they’ll punish his son instead. ”
“What about me? I’m his daughter. ”
“But you’re not of their world. Jace is. Not that I don’t suggest you lie low for a while yourself. I wish we could head up to the farmhouse—”
“We can’t just leave Jace with them!” Clary was appalled. “I’m not going anywhere. ”
“Of course you aren’t. ” Luke waved away her protest. “I said I wish we could, not that I thought we should. There’s the question of what Imogen will do now that she knows where Valentine is, of course. We could find ourselves in the middle of a war. ”
“I don’t care if she wants to kill Valentine. She’s welcome to Valentine. I just want to get Jace back. ”
“That may not be so easy,” said Luke, “considering that in this case, he actually did what he’s accused of doing. ”
Clary was outraged. “What, you think he killed the Silent Brothers? You think—”
“No. I don’t think he killed the Silent Brothers. I think he did exactly what Imogen saw him do: He went to see his father. ”
Remembering something, Clary asked: “What did you mean when you said we’d failed him, not the other way around? You mean you don’t blame him?”
“I do and I don’t. ” Luke looked weary. “It was a stupid thing to do. Valentine isn’t to be trusted. But when the Lightwoods turned their backs on him, what did they expect him to do? He’s still just a child, he still needs parents. If they won’t have him, he’ll go looking for someone who will. ”
“I thought maybe,” said Clary, “maybe he was looking to you for that. ”
Luke looked unutterably sad. “I thought so too, Clary. I thought so too. ”
Very faintly, Maia could hear the sound of voices coming from the kitchen. They were done with all their shouting in the living room. Time to get out. She folded up the note she’d scribbled hastily, left it on Luke’s bed, and crossed the room to the window she’d spent the past twenty minutes forcing open. Cool air spilled through it—it was one of those early fall days when the sky seemed impossibly blue and distant and the air was faintly tinged with the smell of smoke.
She scooted onto the windowsill and looked down. It would have been a worrying jump for her before she’d been Changed; now she spared only a moment’s thought for her injured shoulder before leaping. She landed in a crouch on the cracked concrete of Luke’s backyard. Straightening up, she glanced back at the house, but no one threw a door open or called out to her to come back.
She fought down an errant stab of disappointment. It wasn’t as if they’d paid that much attention to her when she was in the house, she thought, scrambling up the high chain-link fence that separated Luke’s backyard from the alley, so why would they notice that she’d left it? She was clearly an afterthought, just as she’d always been. The only one of them who’d treated her as if she were of any importance was Simon.
The thought of Simon made her wince as she dropped down onto the other side of the fence and jogged up the alley to Kent Avenue. She’d said to Clary that she didn’t remember the previous night, but it wasn’t true. She remembered the look on his face when she’d recoiled from him—as if it were imprinted on the backs of her eyelids. The strangest thing was that in that moment he had still looked human to her, more human than almost anyone she’d ever known.
She crossed the street to avoid passing right in front of Luke’s house. The street was nearly deserted, Brooklyners sleeping their late Sunday-morning sleep. She headed toward the Bedford Avenue subway, her mind still on Simon. There was a hollow place in the pit of her stomach that ached when she thought of him. He was the first person she’d wanted to trust in years, and he’d made trusting him impossible.
Of course, if trusting him is impossible, then why are you on your way to see him right now? came the whisper in the back of her mind that always spoke to her in Daniel’s voice. Shut up, she told it firmly. Even if we can’t be friends, I owe him an apology at least.
Someone laughed. The sound echoed off the high factory walls on her left. Her heart contracting with sudden fear, Maia whirled around, but the street behind her was empty. There was an old woman walking her dogs along the riverside, but Maia doubted she was within shouting distance.
She sped up her pace anyway. She could outwalk most humans, she reminded herself, not to mention outrun them. Even in her present state, with her arm aching like someone had slammed a sledgehammer into her shoulder, it wasn’t as if she had anything to fear from a mugger or rapist. Two teenage boys armed with knives had tried to grab her while she was walking through Central Park one night after she’d first come to the city, and only Bat had kept her from killing them both.
So why was she so panicked?
She glanced behind her. The old woman was gone; Kent was empty. The old abandoned Domino sugar factory rose up in front of her. Seized by a sudden urge to get off the street, she ducked down the alley beside it.
She found herself in a narrow space between two buildings, full of garbage, discarded bottles, the skittering of rats. The roofs above her touched, blocking out the sun and making her feel as if she had ducked into a tunnel. The walls were brick, set with small, dirty windows, many of which had been smashed in by vandals. Through them she could see the abandoned factory floor and row after row of metal boilers, furnaces, and vats. The air smelled of burned sugar. She leaned against one of the walls, trying to still the pounding of her heart. She had almost succeeded in calming herself down when an impossibly familiar voice spoke to her out of the shadows:
She whirled around. He was standing at the entrance to the alley, his hair lit from behind, shining like a halo around his beautiful face. Dark eyes fringed with long lashes regarded her curiously. He was wearing jeans and, despite the chill in the air, a short-sleeved T-shirt. He still looked fifteen.
“Daniel,” she whispered.
He moved toward her, his steps making no sound. “It’s been a long time, little sister. ”
She wanted to run, but her legs felt like bags of water. She pressed herself back against the wall as if she could disappear into it. “But—you’re dead. ”
“And you didn’t cry at my funeral, did you, Maia? No tears for your big brother?”
“You were a monster,” she whispered. “You tried to kill me—”
“Not hard enough. ” There was something long and sharp in his hand now, something that gleamed like silver fire in the dimness. Maia wasn’t sure what it was; her vision was blurred by terror. She slid to the ground as he moved toward her, her legs no longer able to hold her up.
Daniel knelt down beside her. She could see what it was in his hand now: a snapped-off jagged edge of glass from one of the broken windows. Terror rose and broke over her like a wave, but it wasn’t fear of the weapon in her brother’s hand that was crushing her, it was the emptiness in his eyes. She could look into them and through them and see only darkness. “Do you remember,” he said, “when I told you I’d cut out your tongue before I’d let you tattle on me to Mom and Dad?”
Paralyzed with fear, she could only stare at him. Already she could feel the glass cutting into her skin, the choking taste of blood filling her mouth, and she wished she were dead, already dead, anything was better than this horror and this dread—
“Enough, Agramon. ” A man’s voice cut through the fog in her head. Not Daniel’s voice—it was soft, cultured, undeniably human. It reminded her of someone—but who?
“As you wish, Lord Valentine. ” Daniel breathed outward, a soft sigh of disappointment—and then his face began to fade and crumble. In a moment he was gone, and with him the sense of paralyzing, bone-crushing terror that had threatened to choke the life out of her. She sucked in a desperate breath.
“Good. She’s breathing. ” The man’s voice again, irritable now. “Really, Agramon. A few more seconds and she’d have been dead. ”
Maia looked up. The man—Valentine—was standing over her, very tall, dressed all in black, even the gloves on his hands and the thick-soled boots on his feet. He used the tip of a boot now to force her chin up. His voice when he spoke was cool, perfunctory. “How old are you?”
The face gazing down at hers was narrow, sharp-boned, leached of all color, his eyes black and his hair so white he looked like a photograph in negative. On the left side of his throat, just above the collar of his coat, was a spiraling Mark.
“You’re Valentine?” she whispered. “But I thought that you—”
The boot came down on her hand, sending a stab of pain shooting up her arm. She screamed.
“I asked you a question,” he said. “How old are you?”
“How old am I?” The pain in her hand, mixed with the acrid stench of garbage all around made her stomach turn. “Screw you. ”
A bar of light seemed to leap between his fingers; he slashed it down and across her face so quickly that she didn’t have time to jerk back. A hot line of pain burned its way across her cheek; she slapped a hand to her face and felt blood slick her fingers.
“Now,” Valentine said, in the same precise and cultured voice. “How old are you?”
“Fifteen. I’m fifteen. ”
She sensed, rather than saw, him smile. “Perfect. ”
Once back at the Institute, the Inquisitor herded Jace away from the Lightwoods and up the stairs to the training room. Catching sight of himself in the long mirrors that ran along the walls, he stiffened in shock. He hadn’t really looked at himself in days, and last night had been a bad one. His eyes were surrounded by black shadows, his shirt smeared with dried blood and filthy mud from the East River. His face looked hollow and drawn.
“Admiring yourself?” The Inquisitor’s voice cut through his reverie. “You won’t look so pretty when the Clave gets through with you. ”
“You do seem obsessed with my looks. ” Jace turned away from the mirror with some relief. “Could it be that all this is because you’re attracted to me?”
“Don’t be revolting. ” The Inquisitor had taken four long strips of metal from the gray pouch that hung at her waist. Angel blades. “You could be my son. ”
“Stephen. ” Jace remembered what Luke had said back at the house. “That’s what he’s called, right?”
The Inquisitor whirled on him. The blades she gripped were vibrating with her rage. “Don’t you ever say his name. ”
For a moment Jace wondered if she might really try to kill him. He said nothing as she got herself under control. Without looking at him, she pointed with one of the blades. “Stand there in the center of the room, please. ”
Jace obeyed. Though he tried not to look at the mirrors, he could see his reflection—and the Inquisitor’s—out of the corner of his eye, the mirrors reflecting back at each other until an infinite number of Inquisitors stood there, threatening an infinite number of Jaces.
He glanced down at his bound hands. His wrists and shoulders had gone from aching to a hard, stabbing pain, but he didn’t wince as the Inquisitor regarded one of the blades, named it Jophiel, and plunged it into the polished wooden floorboards at her feet. He waited, but nothing happened.
“Boom?” he said eventually. “Was something supposed to happen there?”
“Shut up. ” The Inquisitor’s tone was final. “And stay where you are. ”
Jace stayed, watching with growing curiosity as she moved to his other side, named a second blade Harahel, and proceeded to drive that one into the floorboards as well.
With the third blade—Sandalphon—he realized what she was doing. The first blade had been driven into the floor just south of him, the next to the east, and the next to the north. She was marking out the points of a compass. He struggled to remember what this might mean, came up with nothing. This was clearly Clave ritual, beyond anything he’d been taught. By the time she reached the last blade, Taharial, his palms were sweating, chafing where they rubbed against each other.
The Inquisitor straightened, looking pleased with herself. “There. ”
“There what?” Jace demanded, but she held a hand up.
“Not quite yet, Jonathan. There’s one more thing. ” She moved to the southernmost blade and knelt in front of it. With a quick movement she produced a stele and marked a single dark rune into the floor just below the knife. As she rose to her feet, a high sharp sweet chime sounded through the room, the sound of a delicate bell being struck. Light poured from the four angel blades, so blinding that Jace turned his face away, half-closing his eyes. When he turned back, a moment later, he saw that he was standing inside a cage whose walls looked as if they had been woven out of filaments of light. They were not static, but moving, like sheets of illuminated rain.
The Inquisitor was now a blurred figure behind a glowing wall. When Jace called out to her, even his voice sounded wavering and hollow, as if he were calling to her through water. “What is this? What have you done?”
Jace took an angry step forward, and then another; his shoulder brushed a glowing wall. As if he’d touched an electrified fence, the shock that pulsed through him was like a blow, knocking him off his feet. He tumbled awkwardly to the floor, unable to use his hands to break his fall.
The Inquisitor laughed again. “If you try to walk through the wall, you’ll get more than a shock. The Clave calls this particular punishment the Malachi Configuration. These walls can’t be broken as long as the seraph blades remain where they are. I wouldn’t,” she added, as Jace, kneeling, made a move toward the blade closest to him. “Touch the blades and you’ll die. ”
“But you can touch them,” he said, unable to keep the loathing out of his voice.
“I can, but I won’t. ”
“But what about food? Water?”
“All in good time, Jonathan. ”
He got to his feet. Through the blurred wall, he saw her turn as if to go.
“But my hands—” He looked down at his bound wrists. The burning metal was eating into his skin like acid. Blood welled around the fiery manacles.
“You should have thought of that before you went to see Valentine. ”
“You’re not exactly making me fear the revenge of the Council. They can’t be worse than you. ”
“Oh, you’re not going to the Council,” the Inquisitor said. There was a quiet calm in her tone that Jace did not like.
“What do you mean, I’m not going to the Council? I thought you said you were taking me to Idris tomorrow?”
“No. I’m planning to return you to your father. ”
The shock of her words almost knocked him back off his feet. “My father?”
“Your father. I’m planning to trade you to him for the Mortal Instruments. ”
Jace stared at her. “You must be joking. ”
“Not at all. It’s simpler than a trial. Of course, you’ll be banned from the Clave,” she added, as a sort of afterthought, “but I assume you expected that. ”
Jace was shaking his head. “You have the wrong guy. I hope you realize that. ”
A look of annoyance flashed across her face. “I thought we’d dispensed with your pretense of innocence, Jonathan. ”
“I didn’t mean me. I meant my father. ”
For the first time since he’d met her, she looked confused. “I don’t understand what you mean. ”
“My father won’t trade the Mortal Instruments for me. ” The words were bitter, but Jace’s tone wasn’t. It was matter-of-fact. “He’d let you kill me in front of him before he’d hand you either the Sword or the Cup. ”
The Inquisitor shook her head. “You don’t understand,” she said, and there was a puzzling trace of resentment in her voice. “Children never do. The love a parent has for a child, there is nothing else like it. No other love so consuming. No father—not even Valentine—would sacrifice his son for a hunk of metal, no matter how powerful. ”
“You don’t know my father. He’ll laugh in your face and offer you some money to mail my body back to Idris. ”
“Don’t be absurd—”
“You’re right,” Jace said. “Come to think of it, he’ll probably make you pay the shipping charges yourself. ”
“I see that you’re still your father’s son. You don’t want him to lose the Mortal Instruments—it would be a loss of power to you as well. You don’t want to live out your life as the disgraced son of a criminal, so you’ll say anything to sway my decision. But you don’t fool me. ”
“Listen. ” Jace’s heart was pounding, but he tried to speak calmly. She had to believe him. “I know you hate me. I know you think I’m a liar like my father. But I’m telling you the truth now. My father absolutely believes in what he’s doing. You think he’s evil. But he thinks he’s right. He thinks he’s doing God’s work. He won’t give that up for me. You were tracking me when I went out there, you must have heard what he said—”
“I saw you speak to him,” said the Inquisitor. “I heard nothing. ”
Jace cursed under his breath. “Look, I’ll swear any oath you want to prove I’m not lying. He’s using the Sword and the Cup to summon demons and control them. The more you waste your time with me, the more he can build up his army. By the time you realize he won’t make the trade, you’ll have no chance against him—”
The Inquisitor turned away with a noise of disgust. “I’m tired of your lies. ”
Jace caught his breath in disbelief as she turned her back on him and stalked toward the door.
“Please!” he cried.
She stopped at the door and turned to look at him. Jace could only see the angular shadows of her face, the pointed chin, and dark hollows at her temples. Her gray clothes vanished into the shadows so that she looked like a bodiless floating skull. “Don’t think,” she said, “that returning you to your father is what I want to do. It’s better than Valentine Morgenstern deserves. ”
“What does he deserve?”
“To hold the dead body of his child in his arms. To see his dead son and know that there is nothing he can do, no spell, no incantation, no bargain with hell that will bring him back—” She broke off. “He should know,” she said, in a whisper, and pushed at the door, her hands scrabbling against the wood. It shut behind her with a click, leaving Jace, his wrists burning, staring after her in confusion.
Clary hung up the phone with a frown. “No answer. ”
“Who is it you were trying to call?” Luke was on his fifth cup of coffee and Clary was starting to worry about him. Surely there was such a thing as caffeine poisoning? He didn’t seem on the verge of a fit or anything, but she surreptitiously unplugged the percolator on her way back to the table, just in case. “Simon?”
“No. I feel weird waking him up during the daytime, though he said it doesn’t bother him as long as he doesn’t have to see day light. ”
“I was calling Isabelle. I want to know what’s going on with Jace. ”
“She didn’t answer?”
“No. ” Clary’s stomach rumbled. She went to the refrigerator, removed a peach yogurt, and ate it mechanically, tasting nothing. She was halfway through the container when she remembered something. “Maia,” she said. “We should check and see if she’s okay. ” She set the yogurt down. “I’ll go. ”
“No, I’m her pack leader. She trusts me. I can calm her down if she’s upset,” Luke said. “I’ll be right back. ”
“Don’t say that,” Clary begged. “I hate it when people say that. ”
He smiled at her crookedly and ducked out into the hallway. Within a few minutes he was back, looking stunned. “She’s gone. ”
“Gone? Gone how?”
“I mean she snuck out of the house. She left this. ” He tossed a folded piece of paper onto the table. Clary picked it up and read the scrawled sentences with a frown:
Sorry about everything. Gone to make amends. Thanks for all you’ve done. Maia.
“Gone to make amends? What does that mean?”
Luke sighed. “I was hoping you would know. ”
“Are you worried?”
“Raum demons are retrievers,” Luke said. “They find people and bring them back to whoever summoned them. That demon could still be looking for her. ”
“Oh,” Clary said in a small voice. “Well, my guess would be that she means she went to see Simon. ”
Luke looked surprised. “Does she know where he lives?”
“I don’t know,” Clary admitted. “They seem kind of close in a way. She might. ” She fished into her pocket for her phone. “I’ll call him. ”
“I thought calling him made you feel weird. ”
“Not as weird as everything else that’s going on. ” She scrolled through her address book for Simon’s number. It rang three times before he picked up, sounding groggy.
“It’s me. ” She turned away from Luke as she spoke, more out of habit than from any desire to hide the conversation from him.
“You do know I’m nocturnal now,” he said with groan. She could hear him rolling over in bed. “That means I sleep all day. ”
“Are you at home?”
“Yeah, where else would I be?” His voice sharpened, sleep falling away. “What is it, Clary, what’s wrong?”
“Maia ran off. She left a note saying she might be going to your house. ”
Simon sounded puzzled. “Well, she didn’t. Or if she did, she hasn’t shown up yet. ”
“Is anyone else home but you?”
“No, my mom’s at work and Rebecca has classes. Why, you really think Maia’s going to show up here?”
“Just give us a call if she does—”
Simon cut her off. “Clary. ” His tone was urgent. “Hang on a second. I think someone’s trying to break into my house. ”
Time passed inside the prison, and Jace watched the shocking silver rain falling all around him with a detached sort of interest. His fingers had started to go numb, which he suspected was a bad sign, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. He wondered if the Lightwoods knew he was up here, or if someone entering the training room would get a nasty surprise when they found him locked up in it. But no, the Inquisitor wasn’t that sloppy. She would have told them the room was off-limits until she disposed of the prisoner in whatever manner she saw fit. He supposed he ought to be angry, even afraid, but he couldn’t bring himself to care about that either. Nothing seemed real anymore: not the Clave, not the Covenant, not the Law, not even his father.
A soft footfall alerted him to the presence of someone else in the room. He’d been lying on his back, staring at the ceiling; now he sat up, his gaze flicking around the room. He could see a dark shape just beyond the shimmering rain-curtain. It must be the Inquisitor, back to sneer at him some more. He braced himself—then saw, with a jolt, the dark hair and familiar face.
Maybe there were still some things he cared about, after all. “Alec?”
“It’s me. ” Alec knelt down on the other side of the glimmering wall. It was like looking at someone through clear water rippled with current; Jace could see Alec clearly now, but occasionally his features would seem to waver and dissolve as the fiery rain shimmered and undulated.
It was enough to make you seasick, Jace thought.
“What in the Angel’s name is this stuff?” Alec reached out to touch the wall.
“Don’t. ” Jace reached out, then drew back quickly before he made contact with the wall. “It’ll shock you, maybe kill you if you try to pass through it. ”
Alec drew his hand back with a low whistle. “The Inquisitor meant business. ”
“Of course she did. I’m a dangerous criminal. Or hadn’t you heard?” Jace heard the acid in his own tone, saw Alec flinch, and was meanly, momentarily, glad.
“She didn’t call you a criminal, exactly…”
“No, I’m just a very naughty boy. I do all sorts of bad things. I kick kittens. I make rude gestures at nuns. ”
“Don’t joke. This is serious stuff. ” Alec’s eyes were somber. “What the hell were you thinking, going to see Valentine? I mean, seriously, what was going through your head?”
A number of smart remarks occurred to Jace, but he found he didn’t want to make any of them. He was too tired. “I was thinking that he’s my father. ”
Alec looked as if he were mentally counting to ten to maintain his patience. “Jace—”
“What if it was your father? What would you do?”
“My father? My father would never do the things that Valentine—”
Jace’s head jerked up. “Your father did do those things! He was in the Circle along with my father! Your mother, too! Our parents were all the same. The only difference is that yours got caught and punished, and mine didn’t!”
Alec’s face tightened. But “The only difference?” was all he said.
Jace looked down at his hands. The burning cuffs weren’t meant to be left on so long. The skin underneath them was dotted with beads of blood.
“I just meant,” Alec said, “that I don’t see how you could want to see him, not after what’s he’s done in general, but after what he did to you. ”
Jace said nothing.
“All those years,” Alec said. “He let you think he was dead. Maybe you don’t remember what it was like when you were ten years old, but I do. Nobody who loved you could do—could do anything like that. ”
Thin lines of blood were making their way down Jace’s hands, like red string unraveling. “Valentine told me,” he said quietly, “that if I supported him against the Clave, if I did that, he’d make sure no one I cared about was hurt. Not you or Isabelle or Max. Not Clary. Not your parents. He said—”
“No one would be hurt?” Alec echoed derisively. “You mean he wouldn’t hurt them himself. Nice. ”
“I saw what he can do, Alec. The kind of demonic force he can summon. If he brings his demon army against the Clave, there will be a war. And people get hurt in wars. They die in wars. ” He hesitated. “If you had the chance to save everyone you loved—”
“But what kind of chance is it? What’s Valentine’s word even worth?”
“If he swears on the Angel that he’ll do something, he’ll do it. I know him. ”
“If you support him against the Clave. ”
“He must have been pretty pissed when you said no,” Alec observed.
Jace looked up from his bleeding wrists and stared. “What?”
“I know what you said. What makes you think I said no?”
“Well, you did. Didn’t you?”
Very slowly, Jace nodded.
“I know you,” Alec said, with supreme confidence, and stood up. “You told the Inquisitor about Valentine and his plans, didn’t you? And she didn’t care?”
“I wouldn’t say she didn’t care. More like she didn’t really believe me. She’s got a plan she thinks will take care of Valentine. The only problem is, her plan sucks. ”
Alec nodded. “You can fill me in on that later. First things first: We have to figure out how to get you out of here. ”
“What?” Disbelief made Jace feel slightly dizzy. “I thought you came down right on the side of go directly to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred dollars. ‘The Law is the Law, Isabelle. ’ What was all that you were spouting?”
Alec looked astonished. “You can’t have thought I meant that. I just wanted the Inquisitor to trust me so she wouldn’t be watching me all the time like she’s watching Izzy and Max. She knows they’re on your side. ”
“And you? Are you on my side?” Jace could hear the roughness in his own question and was almost overwhelmed by how much the answer meant to him.
“I’m with you,” Alec said, “always. Why do you even have to ask? I may respect the Law, but what the Inquisitor has been doing to you has nothing to do with the Law. I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but the hatred she has for you is personal. It has nothing to do with the Clave. ”
“I bait her,” said Jace. “I can’t help it. Vicious bureaucrats get under my skin. ”
Alec shook his head. “It’s not that either. It’s an old hate. I can feel it. ”
Jace was about to answer when the cathedral bells began to ring. This close to the roof, the sound was echoingly loud. He glanced up—he still half-expected to see Hugo flying among the wooden rafters in his slow, thoughtful circles. The raven had always liked it up there between the rafters and the arched stone ceiling. At the time Jace had thought the bird liked to dig his claws into the soft wood; now he realized the rafters had lent him an excellent vantage point for spying.
An idea began to take shape in the back of Jace’s mind, dark and formless. Out loud he said only, “Luke said something about the Inquisitor having a son named Stephen. He said she was trying to get even for him. I asked her about him and she freaked out. I think it might have something to do with why she hates me so much. ”
The bells had stopped ringing. Alec said, “Maybe. I could ask my parents, but I doubt they’d tell me. ”
“No, don’t ask them. Ask Luke. ”
“Go all the way back to Brooklyn, you mean? Look, sneaking out of here is going to be all but impossible—”
“Use Isabelle’s phone. Text Clary. Tell her to ask Luke. ”
“Okay. ” Alec paused. “Do you want me to say anything else to her for you? To Clary, I mean, not Isabelle. ”
“No,” Jace said. “I don’t have anything to say to her. ”
“Simon!” Clutching the phone, Clary whirled toward Luke. “He says someone’s trying to break into his house. ”
“Tell him to get out of there. ”
“I can’t get out of here,” Simon said tightly. “Not unless I want to catch on fire. ”
“Daylight,” she said to Luke, but she saw he’d already realized the problem and was searching for something in his pockets. Car keys. He held them up.
“Tell Simon we’re coming. Tell him to lock himself in a room until we get there. ”
“Did you hear that? Lock yourself in a room. ”
“I heard. ” Simon’s voice sounded tense; Clary could hear a soft scraping sound, then a heavy thump.
“I’m fine. I’m just piling things against the door. ”
“What kind of things?” She was out on the porch now, shivering in her thin sweater. Luke, behind her, was locking up the house.
“A desk,” Simon said with some satisfaction. “And my bed. ”
“Your bed?” Clary climbed up into the truck beside Luke, struggling one-handed with her seat belt as Luke peeled out of the driveway and rocketed down Kent. He reached over and buckled it for her. “How did you lift your bed?”
“You forget. Super vampire strength. ”
“Ask him what he’s hearing,” Luke said. They were speeding down the street, which would have been fine if the Brooklyn waterfront had been better maintained. Clary gasped every time they hit a pothole.
“What are you hearing?” she asked, catching her breath.
“I heard the front door crash in. I think someone must have kicked it open. Then Yossarian came streaking into my room and hid under the bed. That’s how I knew there was definitely someone in the house. ”
“Now I don’t hear anything. ”
“That’s good, right?” Clary turned to Luke. “He says he doesn’t hear anything now. Maybe they went away. ”
“Maybe. ” Luke sounded doubtful. They were on the expressway now, speeding toward Simon’s neighborhood. “Keep him on the phone anyway. ”
“What are you doing now, Simon?”
“Nothing. I’ve shoved everything in the room against the door. Now I’m trying to get Yossarian out from behind the heating vent. ”
“Leave him where he is. ”
“This is all going to be very hard to explain to my mom,” Simon said, and the phone went dead. There was a click and then nothing. CALL DISCONNECTED flashed on the digital display.
“No. No!”” Clary hit the redial button, her fingers trembling.
Simon picked up immediately. “Sorry. Yossarian scratched me and I dropped the phone. ”
Her throat burned with relief. “That’s fine, just as long as you’re still okay and—”
A noise like a tidal wave crashed through the phone, obliterating Simon’s voice. She yanked the phone away from her ear. The display still read CALL CONNECTED.
“Simon!” she screamed into the phone. “Simon, can you hear me?”
The crashing noise stopped. There was the sound of something shattering, and a high, unearthly yowl—Yossarian? Then the sound of something heavy striking the ground.
“Simon?” she whispered.
There was a click and then a drawling, amused voice spoke in her ear. “Clarissa,” it said. “I should have known you’d be on the other end of this phone line. ”
She squeezed her eyes shut, her stomach falling out from under her as if she were on a roller coaster that had just made its first drop. “Valentine. ”
“You mean ‘Father,’” he said, sounding genuinely annoyed. “I deplore this modern habit of calling one’s parents by their first names. ”
“What I actually want to call you is a hell of a lot more unprintable than your name,” she snapped. “Where’s Simon?”
“You mean the vampire boy? Questionable company for a Shadowhunter girl of good family, don’t you think? From now on I’ll be expecting to have a say in your choice of friends. ”
“What did you do to Simon?”
“Nothing,” said Valentine, amused. “Yet. ”
And he hung up.
By the time Alec came back into the training room, Jace was lying on the floor, envisioning lines of dancing girls in an effort to ignore the pain in his wrists. It wasn’t working.
“What are you doing?” Alec asked, kneeling down as close to the shimmering wall of the prison as he could get. Jace tried to remind himself that when Alec asked this sort of question, he really meant it, and that it was something he had once found endearing rather than annoying. He failed.
“I thought I’d lie on the floor and writhe in pain for a while,” he grunted. “It relaxes me. ”
“It does? Oh—you’re being sarcastic. That’s a good sign, probably,” Alec said. “If you can sit up, you might want to. I’m going to try to slide something through the wall. ”
Jace sat up so quickly that his head spun. “Alec, don’t—”
But Alec had already moved to push something toward him with both hands, as if he were rolling a ball to a child. A red sphere broke through the shimmering curtain and rolled to Jace, bumping gently against his knee.
“An apple. ” He picked it up with some difficulty. “How appropriate. ”
“I thought you might be hungry. ”
“I am. ” Jace took a bite of the apple; juice ran down his hands and sizzled in the blue flames that cuffed his wrists. “Did you text Clary?”
“No. Isabelle won’t let me into her room. She just throws things against the door and screams. She said if I came in she’d jump out the window. She’d do it too. ”
“I get the feeling,” Alec said, and smiled, “she hasn’t forgiven me for betraying you, as she sees it. ”
“Good girl,” said Jace with appreciation.
“I didn’t betray you, idiot. ”
“It’s the thought that counts. ”
“Good, because I brought you something else, too. I don’t know if it’ll work, but it’s worth a try. ” He slid something small and metallic through the wall. It was a silvery disk about the size of a quarter. Jace set the apple aside and picked the disk up curiously. “What’s this?”
“I got it off the desk in the library. I’ve seen my parents use it before to take off restraints. I think it’s an Unlocking rune. It’s worth trying—”
He broke off as Jace touched the disk to his wrists, holding it awkwardly between two fingers. The moment it touched the line of blue flame, the cuff flickered and vanished.
“Thanks. ” Jace rubbed his wrists, each one braceleted with a line of chafed, bleeding skin. He was starting to be able to feel his fingertips again. “It’s not a file hidden in a birthday cake, but it’ll keep my hands from falling off. ”
Alec looked at him. The wavering lines of the rain-curtain made his face look elongated, worried—or maybe he was worried. “You know, something occurred to me when I was talking to Isabelle earlier. I told her she couldn’t jump out the window—and not to try or she’d get herself killed. ”
Jace nodded. “Sound big-brotherly advice. ”
“But then I started wondering if that was true in your case—I mean, I’ve seen you do things that were practically flying. I’ve seen you fall three stories and land like a cat, jump from the ground to a roof—”
“Hearing my achievements recited is certainly gratifying, but I’m not sure what your point is, Alec. ”
“My point is that there are four walls to this prison, not five. ”
Jace stared at him. “So Hodge wasn’t lying when he said we’d actually use geometry in our daily lives. You’re right, Alec. There are four walls to this cage. Now if the Inquisitor had gone with two, I might—”
“JACE,” Alec said, losing patience. “I mean, there’s no top to the cage. Nothing between you and the ceiling. ”
Jace craned his head back. The rafters seemed to sway dizzily high above him, lost in shadow. “You’re crazy. ”
“Maybe,” Alec said. “Maybe I just know what you can do. ” He shrugged. “You could try, at least. ”
Jace looked at Alec—at his open, honest face and steady blue eyes. He is crazy, Jace thought. It was true, in the heat of fighting, he’d done some amazing things, but so had they all. Shadowhunter blood, years of training … but he couldn’t jump thirty feet straight up into the air.
How do you know you can’t, said a soft voice in his head, if you’ve never tried it?
Clary’s voice. He thought of her and her runes, of the Silent City and the handcuff popping off his wrist as if it had cracked under some enormous pressure. He and Clary shared the same blood. If Clary could do things that shouldn’t be possible…
He got to his feet, almost reluctantly, and looked around, taking slow stock of the room. He could still see the floor-length mirrors and the multitude of weapons hanging on the walls, their blades glinting dully, through the curtain of silver fire that surrounded him. He bent and retrieved the half-eaten apple off the floor, looked at it for a thoughtful moment—then cocked his arm back and threw it as hard as he could. The apple sailed through the air, hit a shimmering silver wall, and burst into a corona of molten blue flame.
Jace heard Alec gasp. So the Inquisitor hadn’t been exaggerating. If he hit one of the prison walls too hard, he’d die.
Alec was on his feet, suddenly wavering. “Jace, I don’t know—”
“Shut up, Alec. And don’t watch me. It’s not helping. ”
Whatever Alec said in response, Jace didn’t hear it. He was doing a slow pivot in place, his eyes focused on the rafters. The runes that gave him excellent long sight kicked in, the rafters coming into better focus: He could see their chipped edges, their whorls and knots, the black stains of age. But they were solid. They’d held up the Institute roof for hundreds of years. They could hold a teenage boy. He flexed his fingers, taking deep, slow, controlled breaths, just as his father had taught him. In his mind’s eye he saw himself leaping, soaring, catching hold of a rafter with ease and swinging himself up onto it. He was light, he told himself, light as an arrow, winging its way easily through the air, swift and unstoppable. It would be easy, he told himself. Easy.
“I am Valentine’s arrow,” Jace whispered. “Whether he knows it or not. ”
And he jumped.