Chapte 16: A STONE OF THE HEART
CLARY HIT THE BUTTON TO CALL SIMON BACK, BUT THE PHONE went straight to voice mail. Hot tears splashed down her cheeks and she threw her own phone at the dashboard. “Damn it, damn it—”
“We’re almost there,” Luke said. They’d gotten off the expressway and she hadn’t even noticed. They pulled up in front of Simon’s house, a wooden one-family whose front was painted a cheerful red. Clary was out of the car and running up the front walk before Luke had even yanked on the security brake. She could hear him yelling her name as she dashed up the steps and pounded frantically on the front door.
“Simon!” she shouted. “Simon!”
“Clary, enough. ” Luke caught up to her on the front porch. “The neighbors—”
“Screw the neighbors. ” She fumbled for the key ring on her belt, found the right key, and slid it into the lock. She swung the door open and stepped warily into the hallway, Luke just behind her. They peered through the first door on the left into the kitchen. Everything looked exactly as it always had, from the meticulously clean counter to the fridge magnets. There was the sink where she’d kissed Simon just a few days ago. Sunshine streamed in through the windows, filling the room with pale yellow light. Light that was capable of charring Simon away to ashes.
Simon’s room was the last one at the end of the hall. The door stood slightly open, though Clary could see nothing but darkness through the crack.
She slid her stele out of her pocket and gripped it tightly. She knew it wasn’t really a weapon, but the feel of it in her hand was calming. Inside, the room was dark, black curtains drawn across the windows, the only light coming from the digital clock on the bedside table. Luke was reaching across her to flip on the light when something—something that hissed and spit and snarled like a demon—launched itself at him out of the darkness.
Clary screamed as Luke seized her shoulders and pushed her roughly aside. She stumbled and nearly fell; when she righted herself, she turned to see an astonished-looking Luke holding a yowling, struggling white cat, its fur sticking out all over. It looked like a ball of cotton with claws.
“Yossarian!” Clary exclaimed.
Luke dropped the cat. Yossarian immediately shot between his legs and disappeared down the hall.
“Stupid cat,” Clary said.
“It’s not his fault. Cats don’t like me. ” Luke reached for the light switch and flipped it on. Clary gasped. The room was completely in order, nothing at all out of place, not even the rug askew. Even the coverlet was folded neatly on the bed.
“Is it a glamour?”
“Probably not. Probably just magic. ” Luke moved into the center of the room, looking around him thoughtfully. As he moved to pull one of the curtains aside, Clary saw something gleam in the carpet at his feet.
“Luke, wait. ” She went to where he was standing and knelt to retrieve the object. It was Simon’s silver cell phone, badly bent out of shape, the antenna snapped off. Heart pounding, she flipped the phone open. Despite the crack that ran the length of the display screen, a single text message was still visible: NOW I HAVE THEM ALL.
Clary sank down on the bed in a daze. Distantly, she felt Luke pluck the phone out of her hand. She heard him suck in his breath as he read the message.
“What does that mean? ‘Now I have them all’?” asked Clary.
Luke set Simon’s phone down on the desk and passed a hand over his face. “I’m afraid it means that now he has Simon and, we might as well face it, Maia, too. It means he has everything he needs for the Ritual of Conversion. ”
Clary stared at him. “You mean this isn’t just about getting at me—and you?”
“I’m sure Valentine regards that as a pleasant side effect. But it’s not his main goal. His main goal is to reverse the characteristics of the Soul-Sword. And for that he needs—”
“The blood of Downworlder children. But Maia and Simon aren’t children. They’re teenagers. ”
“When that spell was created, the spell to turn the Soul-Sword to darkness, the word ‘teenager’ hadn’t even been invented. In Shadowhunter society, you’re an adult when you’re eighteen. Before that, you’re a child. For Valentine’s purposes, Maia and Simon are children. He has the blood of a faerie child already, and the blood of a warlock child. All he needed was a werewolf and a vampire. ”
Clary felt as if the air had been punched out of her. “Then why didn’t we do something? Why didn’t we think of protecting them somehow?”
“So far Valentine has done what’s convenient. None of his victims were chosen for any other reason than that they were there and available. The warlock was easy to find; all Valentine had to do was hire him under the pretense of wanting a demon raised. It’s simple enough to spot faeries in the park if you know where to look. And the Hunter’s Moon is exactly where you’d go if you wanted to find a werewolf. Putting himself to this extra danger and trouble just to strike out at us when nothing’s changed—”
“Jace,” said Clary.
“What do you mean, Jace? What about him?”
“I think it’s Jace he’s trying to get back at. Jace must have done something last night on the boat, something that really pissed Valentine off. Pissed him off enough to abandon whatever plan he had before and make a new one. ”
Luke looked baffled. “What makes you think that Valentine’s change of plans had anything to do with your brother?”
“Because,” Clary said with grim certainty, “only Jace can piss someone off that much. ”
“Isabelle!” Alec pounded on his sister’s door. “Isabelle, open the door. I know you’re in there. ”
The door opened a crack. Alec tried to peer through it, but no one appeared to be on the other side. “She doesn’t want to talk to you,” said a well-known voice.
Alec glanced down and saw gray eyes glaring at him from behind a bent pair of spectacles. “Max,” he said. “Come on, little brother, let me in. ”
“I don’t want to talk to you either. ” Max started to push the door shut, but Alec, quick as a flick of Isabelle’s whip, wedged his foot into the gap.
“Don’t make me knock you over, Max. ”
“You wouldn’t. ” Max pushed back with all his might.
“No, but I might go get our parents, and I have a feeling Isabelle doesn’t want that. Do you, Izzy?” he demanded, pitching his voice loud enough for his sister, inside the room, to hear.
“Oh, for God’s sake. ” Isabelle sounded furious. “All right, Max. Let him in. ”
Max stepped away and Alec pushed his way in, letting the door swing half-shut behind him. Isabelle was kneeling in the embrasure of the window beside her bed, her gold whip coiled around her left arm. She was wearing her hunting gear, the tough black trousers and skintight shirt with their silvery, near-invisible design of runes. Her boots were buckled up to her knees and her black hair whipped in the breeze from the open window. She glared at him, reminding him for a moment of nothing more than Hugo, Hodge’s black raven.
“What the hell are you doing? Trying to get yourself killed?” he demanded, striding furiously across the room toward his sister.
Her whip snaked out, coiling around his ankles. Alec stopped dead, knowing that with a single flick of her wrist Isabelle could jerk him off his feet and land him in a trussed bundle on the hardwood floor. “Don’t come any closer to me, Alexander Lightwood,” she said in her angriest voice. “I’m not feeling very charitable toward you at the moment. ”
“How could you just turn on Jace like that? After all he’s been through? And you swore that oath to watch out for each other too—”
“Not,” he reminded her, “if it meant breaking the Law. ”
“The Law”!” Isabelle snapped in disgust. “There’s a higher law than the Clave, Alec. The law of family. Jace is your family. ”
“The law of family? I’ve never heard of that before,” Alec said, nettled. He knew he ought to be defending himself, but it was hard not to be distracted by the lifelong habit of correcting one’s younger siblings when they were wrong. “Could that be because you just made it up?”
Isabelle flicked her wrist. Alec felt his feet go out from under him and twisted to absorb the impact of falling with his hands and wrists. He landed, rolled onto his back, and looked up to see Isabelle looming over him. Max was beside her. “What should we do with him, Maxwell?” Isabelle asked. “Leave him tied up here for the parents to find?”
Alec had had enough. He whipped a blade from the sheath at his wrist, twisted, and slashed it through the whip around his ankles. The electrum wire parted with a snap and he sprang to his feet as Isabelle drew her arm back, the wire hissing around her.
A low chuckle broke the tension. “All right, all right, you’ve tortured him enough. I’m here. ”
Isabelle’s eyes flew wide. “Jace!”
“The same. ” Jace ducked into Isabelle’s room, shutting the door behind him. “No need for the two of you to fight—” He winced as Max careened into him, yelping his name. “Careful there,” he said, gently disentangling the boy. “I’m not in the best shape right now. ”
“I can see that,” Isabelle said, her eyes raking him anxiously. His wrists were bloody, his fair hair was plastered sweatily to his neck and forehead, and his face and hands were stained with dirt and ichor. “Did the Inquisitor hurt you?”
“Not too badly. ” Jace’s eyes met Alec’s across the room. “She just locked me up in the weapons gallery. Alec helped me get out. ”
The whip drooped in Isabelle’s hand like a flower. “Alec, is that true?”
“Yes. ” Alec brushed dust from the floor off his clothes with deliberate ostentation. He couldn’t resist adding: “So there. ”
“Well, you should have said. ”
“And you should have had some faith in me—”
“Enough. There’s no time for bickering,” Jace said. “Isabelle, what kind of weapons do you have in here? And bandages, any bandages?”
“Bandages?” Isabelle set her whip down and took her stele out of a drawer. “I can fix you up with an iratze—”
Jace raised his wrists. “An iratze would be good for my bruises, but it won’t help these. These are rune burns. ” They looked even worse in the bright light of Isabelle’s room—the circular scars were black and cracked in places, oozing blood and clear fluid. He lowered his hands as Isabelle paled. “And I’ll need some weapons, too, before I—”
“Bandages first. Weapons later. ” She set her stele down on top of the dresser and herded Jace into the bathroom with a basketful of ointments, gauze pads, and bandage strips. Alec watched them through the half-open door, Jace leaning against the sink as his adoptive sister sponged his wrists and wrapped them in white gauze. “Okay, now take your shirt off. ”
“I knew there was something in this for you. ” Jace slid off his jacket and drew his T-shirt over his head, wincing. His skin was pale gold, layered over hard muscle. Black ink Marks twined his slim arms. A mundane might have thought the white scars that snowflaked Jace’s skin, remnants of old runes, made him less than perfect, but Alec didn’t. They all had those scars; they were badges of honor, not flaws.
Jace, seeing Alec watching him through the half-open door, said, “Alec, can you get the phone?”
“It’s on the dresser. ” Isabelle didn’t look up. She and Jace were conversing in low tones; Alec couldn’t hear them, but suspected this was because they were trying not to scare Max.
Alec looked. “It’s not on the dresser. ”
Isabelle, tracing an iratze on Jace’s back, swore in annoyance. “Oh, hell. I left my phone in the kitchen. Crap. I don’t want to go looking for it in case the Inquisitor’s around. ”
“I’ll get it,” Max offered. “She doesn’t care about me, I’m too young. ”
“I suppose. ” Isabelle sounded reluctant. “What do you need the phone for, Alec?”
“We just need it,” Alec said impatiently. “Izzy—”
“If you’re texting Magnus to say ‘I think u r kewl,’ I’m going to kill you. ”
“Who’s Magnus?” Max inquired.
“He’s a warlock,” said Alec.
“A sexy, sexy warlock,” Isabelle told Max, ignoring Alec’s look of total fury.
“But warlocks are bad,” protested Max, looking baffled.
“Exactly,” said Isabelle.
“I don’t understand,” said Max. “But I’m going to get the phone. I’ll be right back. ”
He slipped out the door as Jace pulled his shirt and jacket back on and came back into the bedroom, where he commenced looking for weapons in the piles of Isabelle’s belongings that were strewn around the floor. Isabelle followed him, shaking her head. “What’s the plan now? Are we all leaving? The Inquisitor’s going to freak when she finds out you’re not there anymore. ”
“Not as much as she’ll freak when Valentine turns her down. ” Tersely, Jace outlined the Inquisitor’s plan. “The only problem is, he’ll never go for it. ”
“The—the only problem?” Isabelle was so furious she was almost stuttering, something she hadn’t done since she was six. “She can’t do that! She can’t just trade you away to a psychopath! You’re a member of the Clave! You’re our brother”!”
“The Inquisitor doesn’t think so. ”
“I don’t care what she thinks. She’s a hideous bitch and she has got to be stopped. ”
“Once she finds out her plan is seriously flawed, she might be able to be talked down,” Jace observed. “But I’m not sticking around to find out. I’m getting out of here. ”
“It’s not going to be easy,” Alec said. “The Inquisitor’s got this place locked up tighter than a pentagram. You know there are guards downstairs? She’s called in half the Conclave. ”
“She must think highly of me,” said Jace, tossing aside a pile of magazines.
“Maybe she’s not wrong. ” Isabelle looked at him thoughtfully. “Did you seriously jump thirty feet out of a Malachi Configuration? Did he, Alec?”
“He did,” Alec confirmed. “I’ve never seen anything like it. ”
“I’ve never seen anything like this. ” Jace lifted a ten-inch dagger from the floor. One of Isabelle’s pink brassieres was speared on the wickedly sharp tip. Isabelle snatched it off, scowling.
“That’s not the point. How did you do it? Do you know?”
“I jumped. ” Jace pulled two razor-edged spinning disks out from under the bed. They were covered in gray cat hair. He blew on them, scattering fur. “Chakhrams. Cool. Especially if I meet any demons with serious dander allergies. ”
Isabelle thwacked him with the bra. “You’re not answering me!”
“Because I don’t know, Izzy. ” Jace scrambled to his feet. “Maybe the Seelie Queen was right. Maybe I have powers I don’t even know about because I’ve never tested them. Clary certainly does. ”
Isabelle wrinkled her forehead. “She does?”
Alec’s eyes widened suddenly. “Jace—is that vampire cycle of yours still up on the roof?”
“Possibly. But it’s daylight, so it’s not much use. ”
“Besides,” Isabelle pointed out, “we can’t all fit on it. ”
Jace slid the chakhrams onto his belt, along with the ten-inch dagger. Several angel blades went into his jacket pockets. “That doesn’t matter,” he said. “You’re not coming with me. ”
Isabelle spluttered. “What do you mean, we’re not—” She broke off as Max returned, out of breath and clutching her battered pink phone. “Max, you’re a hero. ” She snatched the phone from him, shooting a glare at Jace. “I’ll get back to you in a minute. Meanwhile, who are we calling? Clary?”
“I’ll call her—” Alec began.
“No. ” Isabelle batted his hand away. “She likes me better. ” She was already dialing; she stuck her tongue out as she held the phone up to her ear. “Clary? It’s Isabelle. I—What?” The color in her face vanished as if it had been wiped away, leaving her gray and staring. “How is that possible? But why—”
“How is what possible?” Jace was at her side in two strides. “Isabelle, what’s happened? Is Clary—”
Isabelle drew the phone away from her ear, her knuckles white. “It’s Valentine. He’s taken Simon and Maia. He’s going to use them to perform the Ritual. ”
In one smooth motion, Jace reached over and plucked the phone out of Isabelle’s hand. He put it to his ear. “Drive to the Institute,” he said. “Don’t come in. Wait for me. I’ll meet you outside. ” He snapped the phone shut and handed it to Alec. “Call Magnus,” he said. “Tell him to meet us down by the waterfront in Brooklyn. He can pick the place, but it should be somewhere deserted. We’re going to need his help getting to Valentine’s ship. ”
“We?” Isabelle perked up visibly.
“Magnus, Luke, and myself,” Jace clarified. “You two are staying here and dealing with the Inquisitor for me. When Valentine doesn’t come through with his part of her deal, you’re the ones who are going to have to convince her to send all the backup the Conclave has got after Valentine. ”
“I don’t get it,” Alec said. “How do you plan to get out of here in the first place?”
Jace grinned. “Watch,” he said, and jumped up onto Isabelle’s windowsill. Isabelle cried out, but Jace was already ducking through the window opening. He balanced for a moment on the sill outside—and then he was gone.
Alec raced to the window and stared out in horror, but there was nothing to see: just the garden of the Institute far below, brown and empty, and the narrow path that led up to the front door. There were no screaming pedestrians on Ninety-sixth Street, no cars pulled over at the sight of a falling body. It was as if Jace had vanished into thin air.
The sound of water woke him. It was a heavy repetitive sound—water sloshing against something solid, over and over, as if he were lying in the bottom of a pool that was rapidly draining and refilling itself. There was the taste of metal in his mouth and the smell of metal all around. He was conscious of a nagging, persistent pain in his left hand. With a groan, Simon opened his eyes.
He was lying on a hard, bumpy metal floor painted an ugly gray-green. The walls were the same green metal. There was a single high round window in one wall, letting in only a little sunlight, but it was enough. He’d been lying with his hand in a patch of it and his fingers were red and blistered. With another groan, he rolled away from the light and sat up.
And realized he wasn’t alone in the room. Though the shadows were thick, he could see in the dark just fine. Across from him, her hands bound together and chained to a large steam pipe, was Maia. Her clothes were torn and there was a massive bruise across her left cheek. He could see where her braids had been torn away from her scalp on one side, her hair matted with blood. The moment he sat up, she stared at him and burst immediately into tears. “I thought,” she hiccupped between sobs, “that you—were dead. ”
“I am dead,” Simon said. He was staring at his hand. As he watched, the blisters fading, the pain lessening, the skin resuming its normal pallor.
“I know, but I meant—really dead. ” She swiped at her face with her bound hands. Simon tried to move toward her, but something brought him up short. A metal cuff around his ankle was attached to a thick metal chain sunk into the floor. Valentine was taking no chances.
“Don’t cry,” he said, and immediately regretted it. It wasn’t as if the situation didn’t warrant tears. “I’m fine. ”
“For now,” said Maia, rubbing her wet face against her sleeve. “That man—the one with the white hair—his name is Valentine?”
“You saw him?” Simon said. “I didn’t see anything. Just my front door blowing in and then a massive shape that came at me like a freight train. ”
“He’s the Valentine, right? The one everyone talks about. The one who started the Uprising. ”
“He’s Jace and Clary’s father,” Simon said. “That’s what I know about him. ”
“I thought his voice sounded familiar. He sounds just like Jace. ” She looked momentarily rueful. “No wonder Jace is such an ass. ”
Simon could only agree.
“So you didn’t…” Maia’s voice trailed off. She tried again. “Look, I know this sounds weird, but when Valentine came for you, did you see someone you recognized with him, someone who’s dead? Like a ghost?”
Simon shook his head, bewildered. “No. Why?”
Maia hesitated. “I saw my brother. The ghost of my brother. I think Valentine was making me hallucinate. ”
“Well, he didn’t try anything like that on me. I was on the phone with Clary. I remember dropping it when the shape came at me—” He shrugged. “That’s it. ”
“With Clary?” Maia looked almost hopeful. “Then maybe they’ll figure out where we are. Maybe they’ll come after us. ”
“Maybe,” Simon said. “Where are we, anyway?”
“On a boat. I was still conscious when he brought me onto it. It’s a big black hulking metal thing. There are no lights and there are—things everywhere. One of them jumped out at me and I started screaming. That was when he grabbed my head and banged it into the wall. I passed out for a while after that. ”
“Things? What do you mean things?”
“Demons,” she said, and shuddered. “He has all sorts of demons here. Big ones and little ones and flying ones. They do whatever he tells them. ”
“But Valentine’s a Shadowhunter. And from all I’ve heard, he hates demons. ”
“Well, they don’t appear to know that,” said Maia. “What I don’t get is what he wants with us. I know he hates Downworlders, but this seems like a lot of effort just to kill two of them. ” She had started to shiver, her jaws clicking together like the chattery-teeth toys you could buy in novelty stores. “He must want something from the Shadowhunters. Or Luke. ”
I know what he wants, Simon thought, but there was no point in telling Maia; she was upset enough already. He shrugged his jacket off. “Here,” he said, and tossed it across the room to her.
Twisting around her manacles, she managed to drape it awkwardly around her shoulders. She offered him a wan but grateful smile. “Thanks. But aren’t you cold?”
Simon shook his head. The burn on his hand was entirely gone now. “I don’t feel the cold. Not anymore. ”
She opened her mouth, then closed it again. A struggle was taking place behind her eyes. “I’m sorry. About the way I reacted to you yesterday. ” She paused, almost holding her breath. “Vampires scare me to death,” she whispered at last. “When I first came to the city, I had a pack I used to hang out with—Bat, and two other boys, Steve and Gregg. We were in the park once and we ran into some vamps sucking on blood bags under a bridge—there was a fight and I mostly remember one of the vamps just picking Gregg up, just picking him up, and ripping him in half—” Her voice rose, and she clamped a hand over her mouth. She was shaking. “In half,” she whispered. “All his insides fell out. And then they started eating. ”
Simon felt a dull pang of nausea roll over him. He was almost glad that the story made him sick to his stomach, rather than something else. Like hungry. “I wouldn’t do that,” he said. “I like werewolves. I like Luke—”
“I know you do. ” Her mouth worked. “It’s just that when I met you, you seemed so human. You reminded me what I used to be like, before. ”
“Maia,” Simon said. “You’re still human. ”
“No, I’m not. ”
“In the ways that count, you are. Just like me. ”
She tried to smile. He could tell she didn’t believe him, and he hardly blamed her. He wasn’t sure he believed himself.
The sky had turned to gunmetal, weighted with heavy clouds. In the gray light the Institute loomed up, huge as the slabbed side of a mountain. The angled slate roof shone like unpolished silver. Clary thought she had caught the movement of hooded figures in the shadows by the front door, but she wasn’t sure. It was hard to tell anything clearly when they were parked over a block away, peering through the smeared windows of Luke’s truck.
“How long has it been?” she asked, for either the fourth or fifth time, she wasn’t sure.
“Five minutes longer than the last time you asked me,” Luke said. He was leaning back in his seat, his head back, looking utterly exhausted. The stubble coating his jaw and cheek was silvery gray and there were black lines of shadow under his eyes. All those nights at the hospital, the demon attack, and now this, Clary thought, suddenly worried. She could see why he and her mother had hidden from this life for so long. She wished she could hide from it herself. “Do you want to go in?”
“No. Jace said to wait outside. ” She peered out the window again. Now she was sure there were figures in the doorway. As one of them turned, she thought she caught a flash of silvery hair—
“Look. ” Luke was sitting bolt upright, rolling his window down hastily.
Clary looked. Nothing appeared to have changed. “You mean the people in the doorway?”
“No. The guards were there before. Look on the roof. ” He pointed.
Clary pressed her face to the truck window. The slate roof of the cathedral was a riot of Gothic turrets and spires, carved angels, and arched embrasures. She was about to say irritably that she didn’t notice anything other than some crumbling gargoyles, when a flash of movement caught her eyes. Someone was up on the roof. A slim, dark figure, moving swiftly among the turrets, darting from one overhang to another, now dropping flat, to edge down the impossibly steep roof—someone with pale hair that glinted in the gunmetal light like brass—
Clary was out of the truck before she knew what she was doing, pounding down the street toward the church, Luke shouting after her. The huge edifice seemed to sway overhead, hundreds of feet high, a sheer cliff of stone. Jace was at the edge of the roof now, looking down, and Clary thought, It can’t be, he wouldn’t, he wouldn’t do this, not Jace, and then he stepped off the roof into empty air, as calmly as if he were stepping off a porch. Clary screamed out loud as he fell like a stone—
And landed lightly on his feet just in front of her. Clary stared with her mouth open as he rose up out of a shallow crouch and grinned at her. “If I made a joke about just dropping in,” he said, “would you write me off as a cliché?”
“How—how did you—how did you do that?” she whispered, feeling as if she were about to throw up. She could see Luke out of the truck, standing with his hands clasped behind his head and staring past her. She whirled around to see the two guards from the front door running toward them. One was Malik; the other was the woman with the silver hair.
“Crap. ” Jace grabbed her hand and yanked her after him. They raced toward the truck and piled in beside Luke, who gunned the engine and took off while the passenger side door was still hanging open. Jace reached across Clary and jerked it shut. The truck veered around the two Shadowhunters—Malik, Clary saw, had what looked like a flinging knife in his hand. He was aiming at one of the tires. She heard Jace swear as he fumbled in his jacket for a weapon—Malik drew his arm back, the blade shining—and the silvery-haired woman threw herself onto his back, seizing at his arm. He tried to shake her off—Clary twisted around in her seat, gasping—and then the truck hurtled around the corner and lost itself in the traffic on York Avenue, the Institute receding into the distance behind them.
Maia had fallen into a fitful doze against the steam pipe, Simon’s jacket draped around her shoulders. Simon watched the light from the porthole move across the room and tried in vain to calculate the hours. Usually he used his cell phone to tell him what time it was, but that was gone—he’d searched his pockets in vain. He must have dropped it when Valentine charged into his room.
He had bigger concerns, though. His mouth was dry and papery, his throat aching. He was thirsty in a way that was like every thirst and hunger he’d ever known blended together to form a sort of exquisite torture. And it was only going to get worse.
Blood was what he needed. He thought of the blood in the refrigerator beside his bed at home, and his veins burned like hot silver wires running just under his skin.
“Simon?” It was Maia, lifting her head groggily. Her cheek was printed with white dents where it had lain against the bumpy pipe. As he watched, the white faded into pink as the blood returned to her face.
Blood. He ran his dry tongue around his lips. “Yeah?”
“How long was I asleep?”
“Three hours. Maybe four. It’s probably afternoon by now. ”
“Oh. Thanks for keeping watch. ”
He hadn’t been. He felt vaguely ashamed as he said, “Of course. No problem. ”
“I hope you know what I mean when I say I’m sorry you’re here, but I’m glad you’re with me. ”
He felt his face crack into a smile. His dry lower lip split and he tasted blood in his mouth. His stomach groaned. “Thanks. ”
She leaned toward him, the jacket slipping from her shoulders. Her eyes were a light amber-gray that changed as she moved. “Can you reach me?” she asked, holding out her hand.
Simon reached for her. The chain that secured his ankle rattled as he stretched his hand as far as it would go. Maia smiled as their fingertips brushed—
“How touching. ” Simon jerked his hand back, staring. The voice that had spoken out of the shadows was cool, cultured, vaguely foreign in a way he couldn’t quite place. Maia dropped her hand and twisted around, the color draining from her face as she stared up at the man in the doorway. The man had come in so quietly neither one of them had heard him. “The children of Moon and Night, getting along at last. ”
“Valentine,” Maia whispered.
Simon said nothing. He couldn’t stop staring. So this was Clary and Jace’s father. With his cap of white-silver hair and burning black eyes, he didn’t look much like either one of them, though there was something of Clary in his sharp bone structure and the shape of his eyes, and something of Jace in the lounging insolence with which he moved. He was a big man, broad-shouldered with a thick frame that didn’t resemble either of his children’s. He padded into the green metal room like a cat, despite being weighted down with what looked like enough weaponry to outfit a platoon. Thick black leather straps with silver buckles crisscrossed his chest, holding a wide-hilted silver sword across his back. Another thick strap circled his waist, and through it was thrust a butcher’s array of knives, daggers, and narrow shimmering blades like enormous needles.
“Get up,” he said to Simon. “Keep your back against the wall. ”
Simon tilted his chin up. He could see Maia watching him, white-faced and scared, and felt a rush of fierce protectiveness. He would keep Valentine from hurting her if it was the last thing he did. “So you’re Clary’s father,” he said. “No offense, but I can kind of see why she hates you. ”
Valentine’s face was impassive, almost motionless. His lips barely moved as he said, “And why is that?”
“Because,” Simon said, “you’re obviously psychotic. ”
Now Valentine smiled. It was a smile that moved no part of his face other than his lips, and those twisted only slightly. Then he brought his fist up. It was clenched; Simon thought for a moment that Valentine was going to swing at him, and he flinched reflexively. But Valentine didn’t throw the punch. Instead, he opened his fingers, revealing a shimmering pile of what looked like glitter in the center of his broad palm. Turning toward Maia, he bent his head and blew the powder at her in a grotesque parody of a blown kiss. The powder settled on her like a swarm of shimmering bees.
Maia screamed. Gasping and jerking wildly, she thrashed from side to side as if she could twist away from the powder, her voice rising in a sobbing scream.
“What did you do to her?” Simon shouted, leaping to his feet. He ran at Valentine, but the leg chain jerked him back. “What did you do?”
Valentine’s thin smile widened. “Silver powder,” he said. “It burns lycanthropes. ”
Maia had stopped twitching and was curled into a fetal position on the floor, weeping quietly. Blood ran from vicious red scores along her hands and arms. Simon’s stomach lurched again and he fell back against the wall, sickened by himself, by all of it. “You bastard,” he said as Valentine idly brushed the last of the powder from his fingers. “She’s just a girl, she wasn’t going to hurt you, she’s chained up, for—”
He choked, his throat burning.
Valentine laughed. “For God’s sake?” he said. “Is that what you were going to say?”
Simon said nothing. Valentine reached over his shoulder and drew the heavy silver Sword from its sheath. Light played along its blade like water slipping down a sheer silver wall, like sunlight itself refracted. Simon’s eyes stung and he turned his face away.
“The Angel blade burns you, just as God’s name chokes you,” said Valentine, his cool voice sharp as crystal. “They say that those who die upon its point will achieve the gates of heaven. In which case, revenant, I am doing you a favor. ” He lowered the blade so that the tip touched Simon’s throat. Valentine’s eyes were the color of black water and there was nothing in them: no anger, no compassion, not even any hate. They were empty as a hollowed-out grave. “Any last words?”
Simon knew what he was supposed to say. Sh’ma Yisrael, adonai elohanu, adonai echod. Hear, oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. He tried to speak the words, but a searing pain burned his throat. “Clary,” he whispered instead.
A look of annoyance passed across Valentine’s face, as if the sound of his daughter’s name in a vampire’s mouth displeased him. With a sharp flick of his wrist, he brought the Sword level and slashed it with a single smooth gesture across Simon’s throat.