City of Ashes – Chapte 17: EAST OF EDEN

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Chapte 17: EAST OF EDEN

“HOW DID YOU DO THAT?” CLARY DEMANDED AS THE TRUCK sped uptown, Luke hunched over the wheel.

“You mean how did I get onto the roof?” Jace was leaning back against the seat, his eyes half-closed. There were white bandages tied around his wrists and flecks of dried blood at his hairline. “First I climbed out Isabelle’s window and up the wall. There are a number of ornamental gargoyles that make good handholds. Also, I’d like to note for the record that my motorcycle is no longer where I left it. I bet the Inquisitor took it on a joyride around Hoboken. ”

“I meant,” Clary said, “how did you jump off the cathedral roof and not die?”

“I don’t know. ” His arm brushed hers as he raised his hands to rub at his eyes. “How did you create that rune?”

“I don’t know either,” she whispered. “The Seelie Queen was right, wasn’t she? Valentine, he—he did things to us. ” She glanced over at Luke, who was pretending to be absorbed in turning left. “Didn’t he?”

“This isn’t the time to talk about that,” Luke said. “Jace, did you have a particular destination in mind or did you just want to get away from the Institute?”

“Valentine’s taken Maia and Simon to the boat to perform the Ritual. He’ll want to do it as soon as possible. ” Jace tugged at one of the bandages on his wrist. “I’ve got to get there and stop him. ”

“No,” Luke said sharply.

“Okay, we have to get there and stop him. ”

“Jace, I’m not having you go back to that ship. It’s too dangerous. ”

“You saw what I just did,” Jace said, incredulity rising in his voice, “and you’re worried about me?”

“I’m worried about you. ”

“There’s no time for that. After my father kills your friends, he’ll call on an army of demons you can’t even imagine. After that, he’ll be unstoppable. ”

“Then the Clave—”

“The Inquisitor won’t do anything,” Jace said. “She’s blocked the Lightwoods’ access to the Clave. She wouldn’t call for reinforcements, even when I told her what Valentine has planned. She’s obsessed with this insane plan she has. ”

“What plan?” Clary said.

Jace’s voice was bitter. “She wanted to trade me to my father for the Mortal Instruments. I told her Valentine would never go for it, but she didn’t believe me. ” He laughed, a sharp staccato laugh. “Isabelle and Alec are going to tell her what happened with Simon and Maia. I’m not too optimistic, though. She doesn’t believe me about Valentine and she’s not going to upset her precious plan just to save a couple of Downworlders. ”

“We can’t just wait to hear from them, anyway,” Clary said. “We have to get to the boat now. If you can take us to it—”

“I hate to break it to you, but we need a boat to get to another boat,” said Luke. “I’m not sure even Jace can walk on water. ”

At that moment Clary’s phone buzzed. It was a text message from Isabelle. Clary frowned. “It’s an address. Down by the waterfront. ”

Jace looked over her shoulder. “That’s where we have to go to meet Magnus. ” He read the address off to Luke, who executed an irritable U-turn and headed south. “Magnus will get us across the water,” Jace explained. “The ship is surrounded by protection wards. I got onto it before because my father wanted me to get onto it. This time he won’t. We’ll need Magnus to deal with the wardings. ”

“I don’t like this. ” Luke tapped his fingers on the steering wheel. “I think I should go and you two should stay with Magnus. ”

Jace’s eyes flashed. “No. It has to be me who goes. ”

“Why?” Clary asked.

“Because Valentine’s using a fear demon,” Jace explained. “That’s how he was able to kill the Silent Brothers. It’s what slaughtered that warlock, the werewolf in the alley outside the Hunter’s Moon, and probably what killed that fey child in the park. And it’s why the Brothers had those looks on their faces. Those terrified looks. They were literally scared to death. ”

“But the blood—”

“He drained the blood later. And in the alley he was interrupted by one of the lycanthropes. That’s why he didn’t have enough time to get the blood he needed. And that’s why he still needs Maia. ” Jace raked a hand through his hair. “No one can stand up against the fear demon. It gets in your head and destroys your mind. ”

“Agramon,” said Luke. He’d been silent, staring through the windshield. His face looked gray and pinched.

“Yeah, that’s what Valentine called it. ”

“He’s not a fear demon. He’s the fear demon. The Demon of Fear. How did Valentine get Agramon to do his bidding? Even a warlock would have trouble binding a Greater Demon, and outside the pentagram—” Luke sucked his breath in. “That’s how the warlock child died, isn’t it? Summoning Agramon?”

Jace nodded assent, and explained quickly the trick that Valentine had played on Elias. “The Mortal Cup,” he finished, “lets him control Agramon. Apparently it gives you some power over demons. Not like the Sword does, though. ”

“Now I’m even less inclined to let you go,” Luke said. “It’s a Greater Demon, Jace. It would take this city’s worth of Shadowhunters to deal with it. ”

“I know it’s a Greater Demon. But its weapon is fear. If Clary can put the Fearless rune on me, I can take it down. Or at least try. ”

“No!” Clary protested. “I don’t want your safety dependent on my stupid rune. What if it doesn’t work?”

“It worked before,” Jace said as they turned off the bridge and headed back into Brooklyn. They were rolling down narrow Van Brunt Street, between high brick factories whose boarded-up windows and padlocked doors betrayed no hint of what lay inside. In the distance, the waterfront glimmered between buildings.

“What if I mess it up this time?”

Jace turned his head toward her, and for a moment their eyes met. His were the gold of distant sunlight. “You won’t,” he said.

“Are you sure this is the address?” asked Luke, bringing the truck to a slow stop. “Magnus isn’t here. ”

Clary glanced around. They had drawn up in front of a large factory, which looked as if it had been destroyed by a terrible fire. The hollow brick and plaster walls still stood, but metal struts poked through them, bent and pitted with burns. In the distance Clary could see the financial district of lower Manhattan and the black hump of Governors Island, farther out to sea. “He’ll come,” she said. “If he told Alec he was coming, he’ll do it. ”

They got out of the truck. Though the factory stood on a street lined with similar buildings, it was quiet, even for a Sunday. There was no one else around and none of the sounds of commerce—trucks backing up, men shouting—that Clary associated with warehouse districts. Instead there was silence, a cool breeze off the river, and the cries of seabirds. Clary drew her hood up, zipped her jacket, and shivered.

Luke slammed the truck door shut and zipped his flannel jacket closed. Silently, he offered Clary a pair of his thick woolly gloves. She slid them on and wiggled her fingers. They were so big for her that it was like wearing paws. She glanced around. “Wait—where’s Jace?”

Luke pointed. Jace was kneeling down by the waterline, a dark figure whose bright hair was the only spot of color against the blue-gray sky and brown river.

“You think he wants privacy?” she asked.

“In this situation, privacy is a luxury none of us can afford. Come on. ” Luke strode off down the driveway, and Clary followed him. The factory itself backed up right onto the waterline, but there was a wide gravelly beach next to it. Shallow waves lapped at the weed-choked rocks. Logs had been placed in a rough square around a black pit where a fire had once burned. There were rusty cans and bottles strewn everywhere. Jace was standing by the edge of the water, his jacket off. As Clary watched, he threw something small and white toward the water; it hit with a splash and vanished.

“What are you doing?” she said.

Jace turned to face them, the wind whipping his fair hair across his face. “Sending a message. ”

Over his shoulder Clary thought she saw a shimmering tendril—like a living piece of seaweed—emerge from the gray river water, a bit of white caught in its grip. A moment later it vanished and she was left blinking.

“A message to who?”

Jace scowled. “No one. ” He turned away from the water and stalked across the pebbled beach to where he’d spread his jacket out. There were three long blades laid out on it. As he turned, Clary saw the sharpened metal disks threaded through his belt.

Jace stroked his fingers along the blades—they were flat and gray-white, waiting to be named. “I didn’t have a chance to get to the armory, so these are the weapons we have. I thought we might as well get as ready as we can before Magnus gets here. ” He lifted the first blade. “Abrariel. ” The seraph knife shimmered and changed color as he named it. He held it out to Luke.

“I’m all right,” Luke said, and drew his jacket aside to show the kindjal thrust through his belt.

Jace handed Abrariel to Clary, who took the weapon silently. It was warm in her hand, as if a secret life vibrated inside it.

“Camael,” Jace said to the next blade, making it shudder and glow. “Telantes,” he said to the third.

“Do you ever use Raziel’s name?” Clary asked as Jace slid the blades into his belt and shrugged his jacket back on, getting to his feet.

“Never,” Luke said. “That’s not done. ” His gaze scanned the road behind Clary, looking for Magnus. She could sense his anxiety, but before she could say anything else, her phone buzzed. She flipped it open and handed it wordlessly to Jace. He read the text message, his eyebrows lifting.

“It looks like the Inquisitor gave Valentine until sunset to decide whether he wants me or the Mortal Instruments more,” he said. “She and Maryse have been fighting for hours, so she hasn’t noticed I’m gone yet. ”

He handed Clary back her phone. Their fingers brushed and Clary jerked her hand back, despite the thick woolly glove that covered her skin. She saw a shadow pass over his features, but he said nothing to her. Instead, he turned to Luke and demanded, with surprising abruptness, “Did the Inquisitor’s son die? Is that why she’s like this?”

Luke sighed and thrust his hands into the pockets of his coat. “How did you figure that out?”

“The way she reacts when someone says his name. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen her show any human feelings. ”

Luke expelled a breath. He had pushed his glasses up and his eyes were squinted against the harsh wind off the river. “The Inquisitor is the way she is for many reasons. Stephen is only one of them. ”

“It’s weird,” Jace said. “She doesn’t seem like someone who even likes kids. ”

“Not other people’s,” said Luke. “It was different with her own. Stephen was her golden boy. In fact, he was everyone’s … everyone who knew him. He was one of those people who was good at everything, unfailingly nice without being boring, handsome without everyone hating him. Well, maybe we hated him a little. ”

“He went to school with you?” Clary said. “And my mother—and Valentine? Is that how you knew him?”

“The Herondales were in charge of running the London Institute, and Stephen went to school there. I saw him more after we all graduated, when he moved back to Alicante. And there was a time when I saw him very often indeed. ” Luke’s eyes had gone distant, the same blue-gray as the river. “After he was married. ”

“So he was in the Circle?” Clary asked.

“Not then,” Luke said. “He joined the Circle after I—well, after what happened to me. Valentine needed a new second in command and he wanted Stephen. Imogen, who was utterly loyal to the Clave, was hysterical—she begged Stephen to reconsider—but he cut her off. Wouldn’t speak to her, or his father. He was absolutely in thrall to Valentine. Went everywhere trailing after him like a shadow. ” Luke paused. “The thing is, Valentine didn’t think Stephen’s wife was suitable for him. Not for someone who was going to be second in command of the Circle. She had—undesirable family connections. ” The pain in Luke’s voice surprised Clary. Had he cared that much about these people? “Valentine forced Stephen to divorce Amatis and remarry—his second wife was a very young girl, only eighteen years old, named Céline. She, too, was utterly under Valentine’s influence, did everything he told her to, no matter how bizarre. Then Stephen was killed in a Circle raid on a vampire nest. Céline killed herself when she found out. She was eight months pregnant at the time. And Stephen’s father died, too, of heartbreak. So that was Imogen’s whole family, all gone. They couldn’t even bury her daughter-in-law and grandchild’s ashes in the Bone City, because Céline was a suicide. She was buried at a crossroads outside Alicante. Imogen survived, but—she turned to ice. When the Inquisitor was killed in the Uprising, Imogen was offered his job. She returned from London to Idris—but never, as far as I heard, spoke about Stephen again. But it does explain why she hates Valentine as much as she does. ”

“Because my father poisons everything he touches?” Jace said bitterly.

“Because your father, for all his sins, still has a son, and she doesn’t. And because she blames him for Stephen’s death. ”

“And she’s right,” said Jace. “It was his fault. ”

“Not entirely,” said Luke. “He offered Stephen a choice, and Stephen chose. Whatever else his faults were, Valentine never blackmailed or threatened anyone into joining the Circle. He wanted only willing followers. The responsibility for Stephen’s choices rests with him. ”

“Free will,” said Clary.

“There’s nothing free about it,” said Jace. “Valentine—”

“Offered you a choice, didn’t he?” Luke said. “When you went to see him. He wanted you to stay, didn’t he? Stay and join up with him?”

“Yes. ” Jace looked out across the water toward Governors Island. “He did. ” Clary could see the river reflected in his eyes; they looked steely, as if the gray water had drowned all their gold.

“And you said no,” said Luke.

Jace glared. “I wish people would stop guessing that. It’s making me feel predictable. ”

Luke turned away as if to hide a smile, and paused. “Someone’s coming. ”

Someone was indeed coming, someone very tall with black hair that blew in the wind. “Magnus,” Clary said. “But he looks … different. ”

As he drew closer, she saw that his hair, normally spiked up and glittered like a disco ball, hung cleanly past his ears like a sheet of black silk. The rainbow leather pants had been replaced by a neat, old-fashioned dark suit and a black frock coat with glimmering silver buttons. His cat’s eyes glowed amber and green. “You look surprised to see me,” he said.

Jace glanced at his watch. “We did wonder if you were coming. ”

“I said I would come, so I came. I just needed time to prepare. This isn’t some hat trick, Shadowhunter. This is going to take some serious magic. ” He turned to Luke. “How’s the arm?”

“Fine. Thank you. ” Luke was always polite.

“That’s your truck parked up by the factory, isn’t it?” Magnus pointed. “It’s awfully butch for a bookseller. ”

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Luke. “All that lugging around heavy book boxes, climbing stacks, hard-core alphabetizing…”

Magnus laughed. “Can you unlock the truck for me? I mean, I could do it myself”—he wiggled his fingers—“but that seems rude. ”

“Sure. ” Luke shrugged and they headed back toward the factory. When Clary made as if to follow them, though, Jace caught her arm. “Wait. I want to talk to you for a second. ”

Clary watched as Magnus and Luke headed for the truck. They made an odd pair, the tall warlock in a long black coat and the shorter, stockier man in jeans and flannel, but they were both Downworlders, both trapped in the same space between the mundane and the supernatural worlds.

“Clary,” Jace said. “Earth to Clary. Where are you?”

She looked back at him. The sun was setting off the water now, behind him, leaving his face in shadow and turning his hair to a halo of gold. “Sorry. ”

“It’s all right. ” He touched her face, gently, with the back of his hand. “You disappear so completely into your head sometimes,” he said. “I wish I could follow you. ”

You do, she wanted to say. You live in my head all the time. Instead, she said, “What did you want to tell me?”

He dropped his hand. “I want you to put the Fearless rune on me. Before Luke gets back. ”

“Why before he gets back?”

“Because he’s going to say it’s a bad idea. But it’s the only chance of defeating Agramon. Luke hasn’t—encountered it, he doesn’t know what it’s like. But I do. ”

She searched his face. “What was it like?”

His eyes were unreadable. “You see what you fear the most in the world. ”

“I don’t even know what that is. ”

“Trust me. You don’t want to. ” He glanced down. “Do you have your stele?”

“Yeah, I have it. ” She pulled the woolly glove off her right hand and fished for the stele. Her hand was shaking a little as she drew it out. “Where do you want the Mark?”

“The closer it is to the heart, the more effective. ” He turned his back on her hand and drew off his jacket, dropping it on the ground. He shrugged his T-shirt up, baring his back. “On the shoulder blade would be good. ”

Clary placed a hand on his shoulder to steady herself. His skin there was a paler gold than the skin of his hands and face, and smooth where it was not scarred. She traced the tip of the stele along the blade of his shoulder and felt him wince, his muscles tightening. “Don’t press so hard—”

“Sorry. ” She eased up, letting the rune flow from her mind, down through her arm, into the stele. The black line it left behind looked like charring, a line of ash. “There. You’re finished. ”

He turned around, shrugging his shirt back on. “Thanks. ” The sun was burning down beyond the horizon now, flooding the sky with blood and roses, turning the edge of the river to liquid gold, softening the ugliness of the urban waste all around them. “What about you?”

“What about me what?”

He took a step closer. “Push your sleeves up. I’ll Mark you. ”

“Oh. Right. ” She did as he asked, pushing up her sleeves, holding her bare arms out to him.

The sting of the stele on her skin was like the light touch of a needle’s tip, scraping without puncturing. She watched the black lines appear with a sort of fascination. The Mark she’d gotten in her dream was still visible, faded only a little around the edges.

“‘And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a Mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. ’”

Clary turned around, pulling her sleeves down. Magnus stood watching them, his black coat seeming to float around him in the wind off the river. A small smile played around his mouth.

“You can quote the Bible?” asked Jace, bending to retrieve his jacket.

“I was born in a deeply religious century, my boy,” said Magnus. “I always thought Cain’s might have been the first recorded Mark. It certainly protected him. ”

“But he was hardly one of the angels,” said Clary. “Didn’t he kill his brother?”

“Aren’t we planning to kill our father?” said Jace.

“That’s different,” said Clary, but didn’t get a chance to elaborate on how it was different, because at that moment, Luke’s truck pulled up onto the beach, spraying gravel from its tires. Luke leaned out the window.

“Okay,” he said to Magnus. “Here we go. Get in. ”

“Are we going to drive to the boat?” Clary said, bewildered. “I thought…”

“What boat?” Magnus cackled, as he swung himself up into the cab next to Luke. He jerked a thumb behind him. “You two, get into the back. ”

Jace climbed up into the back of the truck and leaned down to help Clary up after him. As she settled herself against the spare tire, she saw that a black pentagram inside a circle had been painted onto the metal floor of the truck bed. The arms of the pentagram were decorated with wildly curlicuing symbols. They weren’t quite the runes she was familiar with—there was something about looking at them that was like trying to understand a person speaking a language that was close to, but not quite, English.

Luke leaned out the window and looked back at them. “You know I don’t like this,” he said, the wind muffling his voice. “Clary, you’re going to stay in the truck with Magnus. Jace and I will go up onto the ship. You understand?”

Clary nodded and huddled into a corner of the truck bed. Jace sat beside her, bracing his feet. “This is going to be interesting. ”

“What—” Clary began, but the truck started up again, tires roaring against gravel, drowning her words. It lurched forward into the shallow water at the edge of the river. Clary was flung against the cab’s back window as the truck moved forward into the river—was Luke planning to drown them all? She twisted around and saw that the cab was full of dizzying blue columns of light, snaking and twisting. The truck seemed to bump over something bulky, as if it had driven over a log. Then they were moving smoothly forward, almost gliding.

Clary hauled herself to her knees and looked over the side of the truck, already fairly sure what she would see.

They were moving—no, driving—atop the dark water, the bottom of the truck’s tires just brushing the river’s surface, spreading tiny ripples outward along with the occasional shower of Magnus-created blue sparks. Everything was suddenly very quiet, except for the faint roar of the motor and the call of the seabirds overhead. Clary stared across the truck bed at Jace, who was grinning. “Now this is really going to impress Valentine. ”

“I don’t know,” Clary said. “Other crack teams get bat boomerangs and wall-crawling powers; we get the Aquatruck. ”

“If you don’t like it, Nephilim,” came Magnus’s voice, faintly, from the truck cab, “you’re welcome to see if you can walk on the water. ”

“I think we should go in,” said Isabelle, her ear pressed to the library door. She beckoned for Alec to come closer. “Can you hear anything?”

Alec leaned in beside his sister, careful not to drop the phone he was holding. Magnus said he’d call if he had news or if anything happened. So far, he hadn’t. “No. ”

“Exactly. They’ve stopped yelling at each other. ” Isabelle’s dark eyes gleamed. “They’re waiting for Valentine now. ”

Alec moved away from the door and strode partway down the hall to the nearest window. The sky outside was the color of charcoal half-sunk into ruby ashes. “It’s sunset. ”

Isabelle reached for the door handle. “Let’s go. ”

“Isabelle, wait—”

“I don’t want her to be able to lie to us about what Valentine says,” Isabelle said. “Or what happens. Besides, I want to see him. Jace’s father. Don’t you?”

Alec moved back to the library door. “Yes, but this isn’t a good idea because—”

Isabelle pushed down on the handle of the library door. It swung wide open. With a half-amused glance over her shoulder at him, she ducked inside; swearing under his breath, Alec followed her.

His mother and the Inquisitor stood at opposite ends of the huge desk, like boxers facing each other across a ring. Maryse’s cheeks were bright red, her hair straggling around her face. Isabelle shot Alec a look, as if to say, Maybe we shouldn’t have come in here. Mom looks mad.

On the other hand, if Maryse looked angry, the Inquisitor looked positively demented. She whirled around as the library door opened, her mouth twisted into an ugly shape. “What are you two doing here?” she shouted.

“Imogen,” said Maryse.

“Maryse!” The Inquisitor’s voice rose. “I’ve had about enough of you and your delinquent children—”

“Imogen,” Maryse said again. There was something in her voice—an urgency—that made even the Inquisitor turn and look.

The air just by the freestanding brass globe was shimmering like water. A shape began to coalesce out of it, like black paint being stroked over white canvas, evolving into the figure of a man with broad, planklike shoulders. The image was wavering, too much for Alec to see more than that the man was tall, with a shock of close-cropped salt-white hair.

“Valentine. ” The Inquisitor looked caught off guard, Alec thought, though surely she must have been expecting him.

The air by the globe was shimmering more violently now. Isabelle gasped as a man stepped out of the wavering air, as if he were coming up through layers of water. Jace’s father was a formidable man, over six feet tall with a wide chest and hard, thick arms corded with ropy muscles. His face was almost triangular, sharpening to a hard, pointed chin. He might have been considered handsome, Alec thought, but he was startlingly unlike Jace, lacking anything of his son’s pale-gold looks. The hilt of a sword was visible just over his left shoulder—the Mortal Sword. It wasn’t as if he needed to be armed, since he wasn’t corporeally present, so he must have worn it to annoy the Inquisitor. Not that she needed to be more annoyed than she was.

“Imogen,” Valentine said, his dark eyes grazing the Inquisitor with a look of satisfied amusement. That’s Jace all over, that look, Alec thought. “And Maryse, my Maryse—it has been a long time. ”

Maryse, swallowing hard, said with some difficulty, “I’m not your Maryse, Valentine. ”

“And these must be your children,” Valentine went on as if she hadn’t spoken. His eyes came to rest on Isabelle and Alec. A faint shiver went through Alec, as if something had plucked at his nerves. Jace’s father’s words were perfectly ordinary, even polite, but there was something in his blank and predatory gaze that made Alec want to step in front of his sister and block her from Valentine’s view. “They look just like you. ”

“Leave my children out of this, Valentine,” Maryse said, clearly struggling to keep her voice steady.

“Well, that hardly seems fair,” Valentine said, “considering you haven’t left my child out of this. ” He turned to the Inquisitor. “I got your message. Surely that’s not the best you can do?”

She hadn’t moved; now she blinked slowly, like a lizard. “I hope the terms of my offer were perfectly clear. ”

“My son in return for the Mortal Instruments. That was it, correct? Otherwise you’ll kill him. ”

“Kill him?” Isabelle echoed. “MOM!”

“Isabelle,” Maryse said tightly. “Shut up. ”

The Inquisitor shot Isabelle and Alec a venomous glare between her slitted eyelids. “You have the terms correct, Morgenstern. ”

“Then my answer is no. ”

“No?” The Inquisitor looked as if she’d taken a step forward on solid ground and it had collapsed under her feet. “You can’t bluff me, Valentine. I will do exactly as I threatened. ”

“Oh, I have no doubt in you, Imogen. You have always been a woman of single-minded and ruthless focus. I recognize these qualities in you because I possess them myself. ”

“I am nothing like you. I follow the Law—”

“Even when it instructs you to kill a boy still in his teens just to punish his father? This is not about the Law, Imogen, it is that you hate and blame me for the death of your son and this is your manner of recompensing me. It will make no difference. I will not give up the Mortal Instruments, not even for Jonathan. ”

The Inquisitor simply stared at him. “But he’s your son,” she said. “Your child. ”

“Children make their own choices,” said Valentine. “That’s something you never understood. I offered Jonathan safety if he stayed with me; he spurned it and returned to you, and you’ll exact your revenge on him as I told him you would. You are nothing, Imogen,” he finished, “if not predictable. ”

The Inquisitor didn’t seem to notice the insult. “The Clave will insist on his death, should you not give me the Mortal Instruments,” she said, like someone caught in a bad dream. “I won’t be able to stop them. ”

“I’m aware of that,” said Valentine. “But there is nothing I can do. I offered him a chance. He didn’t take it. ”

“Bastard!” Isabelle shouted suddenly, and made as if to run forward; Alec grabbed her arm and dragged her backward, holding her there. “He’s a dickhead,” she hissed, then raised her voice, shouting at Valentine: “You’re a—”

“Isabelle!” Alec covered his sister’s mouth with his hand as Valentine spared them both a single, amused glance.

“You … offered him…” The Inquisitor was starting to remind Alec of a robot whose circuits were shorting out. “And he turned you down?” She shook her head. “But he’s your spy—your weapon—”

“Is that what you thought?” he said, with apparently genuine surprise. “I am hardly interested in spying out the secrets of the Clave. I’m only interested in its destruction, and to achieve that end I have far more powerful weapons in my arsenal than a boy. ”

“But—”

“Believe what you like,” Valentine said with a shrug. “You are nothing, Imogen Herondale. The figurehead of a regime whose power is soon to be shattered, its rule ended. There is nothing you have to offer me that I could possibly want. ”

“Valentine!” The Inquisitor threw herself forward, as if she could stop him, catch at him, but her hands only went through him as if through water. With a look of supreme disgust, he stepped back and vanished.

The sky was licked with the last tongues of a fading fire, the water had turned to iron. Clary drew her jacket closer around her body and shivered.

“Are you cold?” Jace had been standing at the back of the truck bed, looking down at the wake the car left behind it: two white lines of foam cutting the water. Now he came and slid down beside her, his back against the rear window of the cab. The window itself was almost entirely fogged up with bluish smoke.

“Aren’t you?”

“No. ” He shook his head and slid his jacket off, handing it across to her. She put it on, reveling in the softness of the leather. It was too big in that comforting way. “You’re going to stay in the truck like Luke told you to, right?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“Not in the literal sense, no. ”

She slid her glove off and reached out her hand to him. He took it, gripping it tightly. She looked down at their interlaced fingers, hers so small, squared-off at the tips, his long and thin. “You’ll find Simon for me,” she said. “I know you will. ”

“Clary. ” She could see the water all around them mirrored in his eyes. “He may be—I mean, it may be—”

“No. ” Her tone left no room for doubt. “He’ll be all right. He has to be. ”

Jace exhaled. His irises rippled with dark blue water—like tears, Clary thought, but they weren’t tears, only reflections. “There’s something I want to ask you,” he said. “I was afraid to ask before. But now I’m not afraid of anything. ” His hand moved to cup her cheek, his palm warm against her cold skin, and she found that her own fear was gone, as if he could pass the power of the Fearless rune to her through his touch. Her chin went up, her lips parting in expectation—his mouth brushed hers lightly, so lightly it felt like the brush of a feather, the memory of a kiss—and then he pulled back, his eyes widening; she saw the black wall in them, rising up to blot out the incredulous gold: the shadow of the ship.

Jace let go of her with an exclamation and scrambled to his feet. Clary got up awkwardly, Jace’s heavy jacket throwing her off balance. Blue sparks were flying from the windows of the cab, and in their light she could see that the side of the ship was corrugated black metal, that there was a thin ladder crawling down one side, and that an iron railing ran around the top. What looked like big, awkwardly shaped birds were perched on the railing. Waves of cold seemed to roll off the boat like freezing air off an iceberg. When Jace called out to her, his breath came out in white puffs, his words lost in the sudden engine roar of the big ship.

She frowned at him. “What? What did you say?”

He grabbed for her, sliding a hand up under her jacket, his fingertips grazing her bare skin. She yelped in surprise. He yanked the seraph blade he’d give her earlier from her belt and pressed it into her hand. “I said”—and he let her go—“to get Abrariel out, because they’re coming. ”

“Who are coming?”

“The demons. ” He pointed up. At first Clary saw nothing. Then she noticed the huge, awkward birds she’d seen before. They were dropping off the railing one by one, falling like stones down the side of the boat—then leveling out and heading straight for the truck where it floated on top of the waves. As they got closer, she saw that they weren’t birds at all, but ugly flying things like pterodactyls, with wide, leathery wings and bony triangular heads. Their mouths were full of serrated shark teeth, row on row of them, and their claws glinted like straight razors.

Jace scrambled up onto the roof of the cab, Telantes blazing in his hand. As the first of the flying things reached them, he flung the blade. It struck the demon, slicing off the top of its skull the way you might slice the top off an egg. With a high windy screech, the thing toppled sideways, wings spasming. When it struck the ocean, the water boiled.

The second demon hit the hood of the truck, its claws raking long furrows in the metal. It flung itself against the windshield, spiderwebbing the glass. Clary shouted for Luke, but another one of them dive-bombed her, hurtling down from the steel sky like an arrow. She yanked the sleeve of Jace’s jacket up, flinging her arm out to show the defensive rune. The demon skreeked as the other one had, wings flapping backward—but it had already come too close, within her reach. She saw that it had no eyes, only indentations on each side of its skull, as she smashed Abrariel into its chest. It burst apart, leaving a wisp of black smoke behind.

“Well done,” said Jace. He had jumped down from the truck cab to dispatch another one of the screeching flying things. He had a dagger out now, its hilt slicked with black blood.

“What are these things?’ Clary panted, swinging Abrariel in a wide arc that slashed across the chest of a flying demon. It cawed and swiped at her with a wing. This close, she could see that the wings ended in blade-sharp ridges of bone. This one caught the sleeve of Jace’s jacket and tore it across.

“My jacket,” said Jace in a rage, and stabbed down at the thing as it rose, piercing its back. It shrieked and disappeared. “I loved that jacket. ”

Clary stared at him, then spun around as the rending screech of metal assailed her ears. Two of the flying demons had their claws in the top of the truck cab, ripping it off the frame. The air was filled with the screech of tearing metal. Luke was down on the hood of the truck, slashing at the creatures with his kindjal. One toppled off the side of the truck, vanishing before it hit the water. The other burst into the air, the cab roof clutched in its claws, skreeking triumphantly, and winged back toward the boat.

For the moment the sky was clear. Clary raced up and peered down into the cab. Magnus was slumped down in his seat, his face gray. It was too dark for her to see if he was wounded. “Magnus!” she shouted. “Are you hurt?”

“No. ” He struggled to sit upright, then fell back against the seat. “I’m just—drained. The protection spells on the ship are strong. Stripping them, keeping them off, is—difficult. ” His voice faded. “But if I don’t do it, anyone who sets foot on that ship, other than Valentine, will die. ”

“Maybe you should come with us,” said Luke.

“I can’t work on the wards if I’m on the ship itself. I have to do it from here. That’s the way it works. ” Magnus’s grin looked painful. “Besides, I’m no good in a fight. My talents lie elsewhere. ”

Clary, still hanging down into the cab, began, “But what if we need—”

“Clary!” Luke shouted, but it was too late. None of them had seen the flying creature clinging motionless to the side of the truck. It launched itself upward now, winging sideways, claws sinking deep into the back of Clary’s jacket, a blur of shadowy wings and reeking, jagged teeth. With a howling screech of triumph, it took off into the air, Clary dangling helplessly from its claws.

“Clary!” Luke shouted again, and raced to the edge of the truck’s hood and stopped there, staring hopelessly upward at the dwindling winged shape with its slackly hanging burden.

“It won’t kill her,” said Jace, joining him on the hood. “It’s retrieving her for Valentine. ”

There was something about his tone that sent a chill through Luke’s blood. He turned to stare at the boy next to him. “But—”

He didn’t finish. Jace had already dived from the truck, in a single smooth movement. He splashed down in the filthy river water and struck out toward the boat, his strong kicks churning the water to froth.

Luke turned back to Magnus, whose pale face was just visible through the cracked windshield, a white smudge against the darkness. Luke held a hand up, thought he saw Magnus nod in response.

Sheathing his kindjal at his side, he dived into the river after Jace.

Alec released his hold on Isabelle, half-expecting her to start screaming the moment he took his hand off her mouth. She didn’t. She stood beside him and stared as the Inquisitor stood, swaying slightly, her face a chalky gray-white.

“Imogen,” Maryse said. There was no feeling in her voice, not even any anger.

The Inquisitor didn’t seem to hear her. Her expression didn’t change as she sank bonelessly into Hodge’s old chair. “My God,” she said, staring down at the desk. “What have I done?”

Maryse glanced over at Isabelle. “Get your father. ”

Isabelle, looking as frightened as Alec had ever seen her, nodded and slipped out of the room.

Maryse crossed the room to the Inquisitor and looked down at her. “What have you done, Imogen?” she said. “You’ve handed victory to Valentine. That’s what you’ve done. ”

“No,” the Inquisitor breathed.

“You knew exactly what Valentine was planning when you locked Jace up. You refused to allow the Clave to become involved because it would have interfered with your plan. You wanted to make Valentine suffer as he had made you suffer; to show him you had the power to kill his son the way he killed yours. You wanted to humble him. ”

“Yes…”

“But Valentine will not be humbled,” said Maryse. “I could have told you that. You never had a hold over him. He only pretended to consider your offer to make absolutely certain that we would have no time to call for reinforcements from Idris. And now it’s too late. ”

The Inquisitor looked up wildly. Her hair had come loose from its knot and hung in lank strips around her face. It was the most human Alec had seen her look, but he got no pleasure out of it. His mother’s words chilled him: too late. “No, Maryse,” she said. “We can still—”

“Still what?” Maryse’s voice cracked. “Call on the Clave? We don’t have the days, the hours, it would take them to get here. If we’re going to face Valentine—and God knows we have no choice—”

“We’re going to have to do it now,” interrupted a deep voice. Behind Alec, glowering darkly, was Robert Lightwood.

Alec stared at his father. It had been years since he’d seen him in hunting gear; his time had been taken up with administrative tasks, with running the Conclave and dealing with Downworlder issues. Something about seeing his father in his heavy, dark armored clothes, his broadsword strapped across his back, reminded Alec of being a child again, when his father had been the biggest, strongest and most terrifying man he could imagine. And he was still terrifying. He hadn’t seen his father since he’d embarrassed himself at Luke’s. He tried to catch his eye now, but Robert was looking at Maryse. “The Conclave stands ready,” Robert said. “The boats are waiting at the dock. ”

The Inquisitor’s hands fluttered around her face. “It’s no good,” she said. “There aren’t enough of us—we can’t possibly—”

Robert ignored her. Instead, he looked at Maryse. “We should go very soon,” he said, and in his tone there was the respect that had been lacking when he had addressed the Inquisitor.

“But the Clave,” the Inquisitor began. “They should be informed. ”

Maryse shoved the phone on the desk toward the Inquisitor, hard. “You tell them. Tell them what you’ve done. It’s your job, after all. ”

The Inquisitor said nothing, just stared at the phone, one hand over her mouth.

Before Alec could start to feel sorry for her, the door opened again and Isabelle came in, in her Shadowhunter gear, with her long silver-gold whip in one hand and a wooden-bladed naginata in the other. She frowned at her brother. “Go get ready,” she said. “We’re sailing for Valentine’s ship right away. ”

Alec couldn’t help it; the corner of his mouth twitched upward. Isabelle was always so determined. “Is that for me?” he asked, indicating the naginata.

Isabelle jerked it away from him. “Get your own!”

Some things never change. Alec headed toward the door, but was stopped by a hand on his shoulder. He looked up in surprise.

It was his father. He was looking down at Alec, and though he wasn’t smiling, there was a look of pride on his lined and tired face. “If you’re in need of a blade, Alexander, my guisarme is in the entryway. If you’d like to use it. ”

Alec swallowed and nodded, but before he could thank his father, Isabelle spoke from behind him:

“Here you go, Mom,” she said. Alec turned and saw his sister in the process of handing the naginata to his mother, who took it and spun it expertly in her grasp.

“Thank you, Isabelle,” Maryse said, and with a movement as swift as any of her daughter’s, she lowered the blade so that it pointed directly at the Inquisitor’s heart.

Imogen Herondale looked up at Maryse with the blank, shattered eyes of a ruined statue. “Are you going to kill me, Maryse?”

Maryse hissed through her teeth. “Not even close,” she said. “We need every Shadowhunter in the city, and right now, that includes you. Get up, Imogen, and get yourself ready for battle. From now on, the orders around here are going to come from me. ” She smiled grimly. “And the first thing you’re going to do is free my son from that accursed Malachi Configuration. ”

She looked magnificent as she spoke, Alec thought with pride, a true Shadowhunter warrior, every line of her blazing with righteous fury.

He hated to spoil the moment—but they were going to find out Jace was gone on their own soon enough. Better that someone cushioned the shock.

He cleared his throat. “Actually,” he said, “there’s something you should probably know…”

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