City of Ashes – Chapte 19: DIES IRAE

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Chapte 19: DIES IRAE

“YOU’RE WRONG,” CLARY SAID, BUT HER VOICE HELD NO conviction. “You don’t know anything about me or Jace. You’re just trying to—”

“To what? I’m trying to reach you, Clarissa. To make you understand. ” There was no feeling in Valentine’s voice that Clary could detect beyond a faint amusement.

“You’re laughing at us. You think you can use me to hurt Jace, so you’re laughing at us. You’re not even angry anymore,” she added. “A real father would be angry. ”

“I am a real father. The same blood that runs in my veins runs in yours. ”

“You’re not my father. Luke is,” said Clary, almost wearily. “We’ve been over this. ”

“You only look to Luke as your father because of his relationship with your mother—”

“Their relationship?” Clary laughed out loud. “Luke and my mother are friends. ”

For a moment she was sure she saw a look of surprise pass over his face. But “Is that so,” was all he said. And then, “You really think he endured all this—Lucian, I mean—this life of silence and hiding and running, this devotion to the protection of a secret even he didn’t fully understand, just for friendship? You know very little about people, Clary, at your age, and less about men. ”

“You can make all the innuendoes about Luke you want. It won’t make any difference. You’re wrong about him, just like you’re wrong about Jace. You have to give everyone ugly motives for everything they do, because ugly motives are all you understand. ”

“Is that what it would be if he loved your mother? Ugly?” said Valentine. “What’s so ugly about love, Clarissa? Or is it that you sense, deep down, that your precious Lucian is neither truly human nor truly capable of feelings as we would understand them—”

“Luke’s as human as I am,” Clary flung at him. “You’re just a bigot. ”

“Oh, no,” Valentine said. “I’m anything but that. ” He moved a little closer to her, and she stepped in front of the Sword, blocking it from his view. “You think of me that way because you look at me and at what I do through the lens of your mundane understanding of the world. Mundane humans create distinctions between themselves, distinctions that seem ridiculous to any Shadowhunter. Their distinctions are based on race, religion, national identity, any of a dozen minor and irrelevant markers. To mundanes these seem logical, for though mundanes cannot see, understand, or acknowledge the demon worlds, still somewhere buried in their ancient memories, they know that there are those that walk this earth that are other. That do not belong, that mean only harm and destruction. Since the demon threat is invisible to mundanes, they must assign the threat to others of their own kind. They place the face of their enemy onto the face of their neighbor, and thus are generations of misery assured. ” He took another step toward her, and Clary instinctively moved backward; she was pressed up against the footlocker now. “I’m not like that,” he went on. “I can see the truth of it. Mundanes see as through a glass, darkly, but Shadowhunters—we see face-to-face. We know the truth of evil, and know that while it walks among us, it is not of us. What does not belong to our world must not be allowed to take root here, to grow like a poisonous flower and extinguish all life. ”

Clary had meant to go for the Sword and then for Valentine, but his words shook her. His voice was so soft, so persuasive, and it wasn’t as if she thought demons should be allowed to stay on earth, to drain it away to ashes as they’d drained away so many other worlds… It almost made sense, what he said, but—

“Luke isn’t a demon,” she said.

“It seems to me, Clarissa,” said Valentine, “that you’ve had very little experience of what a demon is and what it is not. You have met a few Downworlders who seemed to you to be kind enough, and it is through the lens of their kindness that you view the world. Demons, to you, are hideous creatures that leap out from the shadows to rend and attack. And there are such creatures. But there are also demons of deep subtlety and secrecy, demons who walk among humans unrecognized and unhindered. Yet I have seen them do such dreadful things that their more bestial colleagues seem gentle in comparison. There was a demon in London that I once knew, who posed as a very powerful financier. He was never alone, so it was difficult for me to get close enough to kill him, though I knew what he was. He would have his servants bring him animals and young children—anything that was small and helpless—”

“Stop. ” Clary put her hands up to her ears. “I don’t want to hear this. ”

But Valentine’s voice droned on, inexorable, muffled but not inaudible. “He would eat them slowly, over the course of many days. He had his tricks, his ways of keeping them alive through the worst imaginable tortures. If you can imagine a child trying to crawl to you with half its body torn away—”

“Stop!” Clary tore her hands away from her ears. “That’s enough, enough!”

“Demons feed on death and pain and madness,” Valentine said. “When I kill, it is because I must. You grew up in a falsely beautiful paradise surrounded by fragile glass walls, my daughter. Your mother created the world she wanted to live in and she brought you up in it, but she never told you it was an illusion. And all the time the demons waited with their weapons of blood and terror to smash the glass and pull you free of the lie. ”

“You smashed the walls,” Clary whispered. “You dragged me into all this. No one but you. ”

“And the glass that cut you, the pain you felt, the blood? Do you blame me for that as well? I was not the one who put you into the prison. ”

“Stop it. Just stop talking. ” Clary’s head was ringing. She wanted to scream at him, You kidnapped my mother, you did this, it’s your fault! But she had begun to see what Luke had meant when he’d said you couldn’t argue with Valentine. Somehow he’d made it impossible for her to disagree with him without feeling as if she were standing up for demons who bit children in half. She wondered how Jace had stood it all those years, living in the shadow of that demanding, overwhelming personality. She began to see where Jace’s arrogance came from, his arrogance and his carefully controlled emotions.

The edge of the locker behind her was biting into the back of her legs. She could feel the cold coming off the Sword, making the hair on the back of her neck prickle. “What is it you want from me?” she asked Valentine.

“What makes you think I want anything from you?”

“You wouldn’t be talking to me otherwise. You’d have whacked me on the head and be waiting around for—for whatever the next step is after this. ”

“The next step,” said Valentine, “is for your Shadowhunter friends to track you down and for me to tell them that if they want to retrieve you alive, they’ll trade the werewolf girl for you. I still need her blood. ”

“They’ll never trade Maia for me!”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” said Valentine. “They know the value of a Downworlder as compared to that of a Shadowhunter child. They’ll make the trade. The Clave requires it. ”

“The Clave? You mean—that’s part of the Law?”

“Codified into its very being,” said Valentine. “Now do you see? We are not so very different, the Clave and I, or Jonathan and I, or even you and I, Clarissa. We merely have a small disagreement as to method. ” He smiled, and stepped forward to close the space between them.

Moving more quickly than she would have thought she could, Clary reached behind her and snatched up the Soul-Sword. It was as heavy as she’d thought it would be, so heavy she nearly overbalanced. Putting out a hand to steady herself, she lifted it, pointing the blade directly at Valentine.

Jace’s fall ended abruptly when he struck a hard metal surface with enough force to rattle his teeth. He coughed, tasting blood in his mouth, and staggered painfully to his feet.

He was standing on a bare metal catwalk painted a dull green. The inside of the ship was hollow, a great echoing chamber of metal with dark outward-curving walls. Looking up, Jace could see a tiny patch of starry sky through the smoking hole in the hull far above.

The belly of the ship was a maze of catwalks and ladders that seemed to lead nowhere, twisting in on each other like the guts of a giant snake. It was freezing cold. Jace could see his breath puffing out in white clouds when he exhaled. There was very little light. He squinted into the shadows, then reached into his pocket to retrieve his witchlight rune-stone.

Its white glow lit the dimness. The catwalk was long, with a ladder at the far end leading down to a lower level. As Jace moved toward it, something glinted at his feet.

He bent down. It was a stele. He couldn’t help but stare around him, as if half-expecting someone to materialize out of the shadows; how the hell had a Shadowhunter stele gotten down here? He picked it up carefully. All steles had a sort of aura to them, a ghostly imprint of their owner’s personality. This one sent a shot of painful recognition through him. Clary.

A sudden, soft laugh broke the silence. Jace spun around, shoving the stele through his belt. In the glare of the witchlight, Jace could see a dark figure standing at the end of the catwalk. The face was hidden in shadow.

“Who’s there?” he called.

There was no answer, only a sense that someone was laughing at him. Jace’s hand went automatically to his belt, but he had dropped the seraph blade when he fell. He was out of weapons.

But what had his father always taught him? Used correctly, almost anything could be a weapon. He moved slowly toward the figure, his eyes taking in the various details around him—a strut he could catch hold of and swing from, kicking out with his feet; an exposed bit of broken metal he could throw an opponent against, puncturing their spine. All these thoughts went through his head in a split second, the single split second before the figure at the end of the catwalk turned, his white hair shining in the witchlight, and Jace recognized him.

Jace stopped dead in his tracks. “Father? Is that you?”

The first thing Alec was aware of was freezing cold. The second was that he couldn’t breathe. He tried to suck in air and his body spasmed. He sat upright, expelling dirty river water from his lungs in a bitter flood that made him gag and choke.

Finally he could breathe, though his lungs felt like they were on fire. Gasping, he looked around. He was sitting on a corrugated metal platform—no, it was the back of a truck. A pickup truck, floating in the middle of the river. His hair and clothes were streaming cold water. And Magnus Bane was sitting opposite him, regarding him with amber cat’s eyes that glowed in the dark.

His teeth began to chatter. “What—what happened?”

“You tried to drink the East River,” Magnus said, and Alec saw, as if for the first time, that Magnus’s clothes were soaking wet too, sticking to his body like a dark second skin. “I pulled you out. ”

Alec’s head was pounding. He felt at his belt for his stele, but it was gone. He tried to think back—the ship, overrun with demons; Isabelle falling and Jace catching her; blood, everywhere underfoot, the demon attacking—

“Isabelle! She was climbing down when I fell—”

“She’s fine. She made it to a boat. I saw her. ” Magnus reached out to touch Alec’s head. “You, on the other hand, might have a concussion. ”

“I need to get back to the battle. ” Alec pushed his hand away. “You’re a warlock. Can’t you, I don’t know, fly me back to the boat or something? And fix my concussion while you’re at it?”

Magnus, his hand still outstretched, sank back against the side of the truck bed. In the starlight his eyes were chips of green and gold, hard and flat as jewels.

“Sorry,” Alec said, realizing how he had sounded, though he still felt that Magnus ought to see that getting to the ship was the most important thing. “I know you don’t have to help us out—it’s a favor—”

“Stop. I don’t do you favors, Alec. I do things for you because—well, why do you think I do them?”

Something rose up in Alec’s throat, cutting off his response. It was always like this when he was with Magnus. It was as if there were a bubble of pain or regret that lived inside his heart, and when he wanted to say something, anything, that seemed meaningful or true, it rose up and choked off his words. “I need to get back to the ship,” he said, finally.

Magnus sounded too tired to even be angry. “I would help you,” he said. “But I can’t. Stripping the protection wards off the ship was bad enough—it’s a strong, strong enchantment, demon-based—but when you fell, I had to put a fast spell on the truck so it wouldn’t sink when I lost consciousness. And I will lose consciousness, Alec. It’s just a matter of time. ” He passed a hand across his eyes. “I didn’t want you to drown,” he said. “The enchantment should hold enough for you to get the truck back to land. ”

“I—didn’t realize. ” Alec looked at Magnus, who was three hundred years old but had always looked timeless, as if he had stopped getting older around the age of nineteen. Now there were sharp lines cut into the skin around his eyes and mouth. His hair hung lankly over his forehead, and the slump in his shoulders was not his usual careless posture but true exhaustion.

Alec put his hands out. They were pale in the moonlight, wrinkled from water and dotted with dozens of silver scars. Magnus looked down at them, and then back at Alec, confusion darkening his gaze.

“Take my hands,” Alec said. “And take my strength too. Whatever of it you can use to—to keep yourself going. ”

Magnus didn’t move. “I thought you had to get back to the ship. ”

“I have to fight,” said Alec. “But that’s what you’re doing, isn’t it? You’re part of the fight just as much as the Shadowhunters on the ship—and I know you can take some of my strength, I’ve heard of warlocks doing that—so I’m offering. Take it. It’s yours. ”

* * *

Valentine smiled. He was wearing his black armor, and gauntlet gloves that shone like the carapaces of black insects. “My son. ”

“Don’t call me that,” Jace said, and then, feeling a tremor begin in his hands, “Where’s Clary?”

Valentine was still smiling. “She defied me,” he said. “I had to teach her a lesson. ”

“What have you done to her?”

“Nothing. ” Valentine came closer to Jace, close enough to touch him if he had chosen to extend his hand. He didn’t. “Nothing she won’t recover from. ”

Jace closed his hand into a fist so his father wouldn’t see it shaking. “I want to see her. ”

“Really? With all this going on?” Valentine glanced up, as if he could see through the hull of the ship to the carnage on deck. “I would have thought you’d want to be fighting with the rest of your Shadowhunter friends. Pity their efforts are for nothing. ”

“You don’t know that. ”

“I do know it. For every one of them, I can summon a thousand demons. Even the best Nephilim can’t hold out against those odds. As in the case,” Valentine added, “of poor Imogen. ”

“How do you—”

“I see everything that happens on my ship. ” Valentine’s eyes narrowed. “You do know it’s your fault she died, don’t you?”

Jace sucked in a breath. He could feel his heart pounding as if it wanted to tear its way out of his chest.

“If it weren’t for you, none of them would have come to the ship. They thought they were rescuing you, you know. If it had just been about the two Downworlders, they wouldn’t have bothered. ”

Jace had almost forgotten. “Simon and Maia—”

“Oh, they’re dead. Both of them. ” Valentine’s tone was casual, even soft. “How many have to die, Jace, before you see the truth?”

Jace’s head felt as if it were full of swirling smoke. His shoulder burned with pain. “We’ve had this conversation. You’re wrong, Father. You might be right about demons, you might even be right about the Clave, but this is not the way—”

“I meant,” said Valentine, “when will you see that you’re just like me?”

Despite the cold, Jace had begun to sweat. “What?”

“You and I, we’re alike,” said Valentine. “As you said to me before, you are what I made you to be, and I made you as a copy of myself. You have my arrogance. You have my courage. And you have that quality that causes others to give their lives for you without question. ”

Something hammered at the back of Jace’s mind. Something he ought to know, or had forgotten—his shoulder burned—“I don’t want people giving their lives for me,” he cried.

“No. You do. You like knowing that Alec and Isabelle would die for you. That your sister would. The Inquisitor did die for you, didn’t she, Jonathan? And you stood by and let her—”

“No!”

“You’re just like me—it isn’t surprising, is it? We’re father and son, why shouldn’t we be alike?”

“No!” Jace’s hand shot out and seized the twisted metal strut. It came off in his hand with an explosive snap, its broken edge jagged and wickedly sharp. “I am not like you!” he cried, and drove the strut directly into his father’s chest.

Valentine’s mouth opened. He staggered back, the end of the strut protruding from his chest. For a moment Jace could only stare, thinking, I was wrong—it’s really him—and then Valentine seemed to collapse in on himself, his body crumbling away like sand. The air was full of the smell of burning as Valentine’s body turned to ash that blew away on the cold air.

Jace put a hand to his shoulder. The skin where the Fearless rune had burned itself away felt hot to the touch. A great sense of weakness overwhelmed him. “Agramon,” he whispered, and fell to his knees on the catwalk.

It was only a few moments that he knelt on the ground as his hammering pulse slowed, but to Jace it felt like forever. When he finally stood up, his legs were stiff with cold. His fingertips were blue. The air still stank of something burned, though there was no sign of Agramon.

Still gripping the piece of metal strut, Jace made for the ladder at the end of the catwalk. The effort of clambering down one-handed cleared his head. He dropped from the last rung to find himself on a second narrow catwalk that ran along the side of a vast metal chamber. There were dozens of other catwalks laddering the walls and a variety of pipes and machinery. Banging sounds came from inside the pipes, and every once in a while one of the pipes would give off a blast of what looked like steam, though the air remained bitterly cold.

Quite a place you’ve got for yourself here, Father, Jace thought. The bare industrial interior of the ship didn’t fit with the Valentine he knew, who was particular about the type of cut crystal his decanters were made out of. Jace glanced around. It was a labyrinth down here; there was no way to know which direction he should go. He turned to climb down the next ladder and noticed a dark red smear on the metal floor.

Blood. He scraped the toe of his boot through it. It was still damp, slightly tacky. Fresh blood. His pulse quickened. Partway down the catwalk, he saw another spot of red, and then another a farther distance away, like a trail of bread crumbs in a fairy tale.

Jace followed the blood, his boots echoing loudly on the metal catwalk. The pattern of the blood splatters was peculiar, not as if there had been a fight, but more as if someone had been carried, bleeding, along the catwalk—

He reached a door. It was made of black metal, silvered here and there with dents and chips. There was a bloody handprint around the knob. Gripping the jagged strut more tightly, Jace pushed the door open.

A wave of even colder air hit him and he sucked in a breath. The room was empty except for a metal pipe that ran along one wall, and what looked like a heap of sacking in the corner. A little light came in through a porthole high up in the wall. As Jace stepped gingerly forward, the light from the porthole fell on the heap in the corner and he realized that it wasn’t a pile of trash after all, but a body.

Jace’s heart started to bang like an unlocked door in a windstorm.

The metal floor was sticky with blood. His boots pulled away from it with an ugly suctioning sound as he crossed the room and bent down beside the crumpled figure in the corner. A boy, dark-haired and dressed in jeans and a blood-soaked blue T-shirt.

Jace took the body by the shoulder and heaved. It flipped over, limp and boneless, brown eyes staring sightlessly upward. Jace’s breath caught in his throat. It was Simon. He was white as paper. There was an ugly gash at the base of his throat, and both wrists had been slashed, leaving gaping, ragged-edged wounds.

Jace sank to his knees, still holding Simon’s shoulder. He thought hopelessly of Clary, of her pain when she found out, of the way she’d crushed his hands in hers, so much strength in those small fingers. Find Simon. I know you will.

And he had. But it was too late.

When Jace was ten, his father had explained to him all the ways to kill vampires. Stake them. Cut their heads off and set them to burning like eerie jack-o’-lanterns. Let the sun scorch them to ashes. Or drain their blood. They needed blood to live, they ran on it, like cars ran on gasoline. Looking at the ragged wound in Simon’s throat, it wasn’t hard to see what Valentine had done.

Jace reached out to close Simon’s staring eyes. If Clary had to see him dead, better she not see him like this. He moved his hand down to the collar of Simon’s shirt, meaning to tug it up, to cover the gash.

Simon moved. His eyelids twitched and opened, his eyes rolled back to the whites. He gurgled then, a faint sound, lips curling back, showing the points of vampire fangs. The breath rattled in his slashed throat.

Nausea rose in the back of Jace’s throat, his hand tightening on Simon’s collar. He wasn’t dead. But God, the pain, it must be incredible. He couldn’t heal, couldn’t regenerate, not without—

Not without blood. Jace let go of Simon’s shirt and dragged his right sleeve up with his teeth. Using the jagged tip of the broken strut, he slashed a deep cut lengthwise down his wrist. Blood gushed to the surface of the skin. He dropped the strut; it hit the metal floor with a clang. He could smell his own blood in the air, sharp and coppery.

He looked down at Simon, who hadn’t moved. The blood was running down Jace’s hand now, his wrist stinging. He held it out over Simon’s face, letting the blood drip down his fingers, spill onto Simon’s mouth. There was no reaction. Simon wasn’t moving. Jace moved closer; he was kneeling over Simon now, his breath making white puffs in the icy air. He leaned down, pressed his bleeding wrist against Simon’s mouth. “Drink my blood, idiot,” he whispered. “Drink it. ”

For a moment nothing happened. Then Simon’s eyes fluttered shut. Jace felt a sharp sting in his wrist, a sort of pull, a hard pressure—and Simon’s right hand flew up and clamped onto Jace’s arm, just above the elbow. Simon’s back arched off the floor, the pressure on Jace’s wrist increasing as Simon’s fangs sank deeper. Pain shot up Jace’s arm. “Okay,” Jace said. “Okay, enough. ”

Simon’s eyes opened. The whites were gone, the dark brown irises focused on Jace. There was color in his cheeks, a hectic flush like a fever. His lips were slightly parted, the white fangs stained with blood.

“Simon?” Jace said.

Simon rose up. He moved with incredible speed, knocking Jace sideways and rolling on top of him. Jace’s head hit the metal floor, his ears ringing as Simon’s teeth sank into his neck. He tried to twist away, but the other boy’s arms were like iron bars, pinning him to the ground, fingers digging into his shoulders.

But Simon wasn’t hurting him—not really—the pain that had started out sharp faded to a sort of dull burn, pleasant the way the burn of the stele was sometimes pleasant. A drowsy sense of peace stole through Jace’s veins and he felt his muscles relax; the hands that had been trying to push Simon away a moment ago now pressed him closer. He could feel the beat of his own heart, feel it slowing, its hammering fading to a softer echo. A shimmering darkness crept in at the corners of his vision, beautiful and strange. Jace closed his eyes—

Pain lanced through his neck. He gasped and his eyes flew open; Simon was sitting up on him, staring down with wide eyes, his hand across his own mouth. Simon’s wounds were gone, though fresh blood stained the front of his shirt.

Jace could feel the pain of his bruised shoulders again, the slash across his wrist, his punctured throat. He could no longer hear his heart beating, but knew it was slamming away inside his chest.

Simon took his hand away from his mouth. The fangs were gone. “I could have killed you,” he said. There was a sort of pleading in his voice.

“I would have let you,” said Jace.

Simon stared down at him, then made a noise in the back of his throat. He rolled off Jace and hit the floor on his knees, hugging his elbows. Jace could see the dark tracery of Simon’s veins through the pale skin of his throat, branching blue and purple lines. Veins full of blood.

My blood. Jace sat up. He fumbled for his stele. Dragging it across his arm felt like hauling a lead pipe across a football field. His head throbbed. When he finished the iratze, he leaned his head back against the wall behind him, breathing hard, the pain leaving him as the healing rune took effect. My blood in his veins.

“I’m sorry,” Simon said. “I’m so sorry. ”

The healing rune was having its effect. Jace’s head started to clear and the banging in his chest slowed. He got to his feet, carefully, expecting a wave of dizziness, but he felt only a little weak and tired. Simon was still on his knees, staring down at his hands. Jace reached down and grabbed the back of his shirt, hauling him to his feet. “Don’t apologize,” he said, letting Simon go. “Just get moving. Valentine has Clary and we haven’t got much time. ”

The second her fingers closed around the hilt of Maellartach, a searing blast of cold shot up Clary’s arm. Valentine watched with an expression of mild interest as she gasped with pain, her fingers going numb. She clutched desperately at the Sword, but it slipped from her grasp and clattered to the ground at her feet.

She barely saw Valentine move. A moment later he was standing in front of her with the Sword in his grasp. Clary’s hand was stinging. She glanced down and saw that a red, burning weal was rising along her palm.

“Did you really think,” Valentine said, a tinge of disgust coloring his voice, “that I’d let you near a weapon I thought you could use?” He shook his head. “You didn’t understand a word I said, did you? It appears that of my two children, only one seems capable of understanding the truth. ”

Clary closed her injured hand into a fist, almost welcoming the pain. “If you mean Jace, he hates you too. ”

Valentine swung the Sword up, bringing the tip of it level with Clary’s collarbone. “That is enough,” he said, “out of you. ”

The tip of the Sword was sharp; when she breathed, it pricked her throat, and a trickle of blood threaded its way down her chest. The Sword’s touch seemed to spill cold through her veins, sending sizzling ice particles through her arms and legs, numbing her hands.

“Ruined by your upbringing,” Valentine said. “Your mother was always a stubborn woman. It was one of the things I loved about her in the beginning. I thought she would stand by her ideals. ”

It was strange, Clary thought with a detached sort of horror, that when she had seen her father before at Renwick’s, his considerable personal charisma had been on display for Jace’s benefit. Now he wasn’t bothering, and without the surface patina of charm, he seemed—empty. Like a hollow statue, eyes cut out to show only darkness inside.

“Tell me, Clarissa—did your mother ever talk about me?”

“She told me my father was dead. ” Don’t say anything else, she warned herself, but she was sure he could read the rest of the words in her eyes. And I wish she had been telling the truth.

“And she never told you you were different? Special?”

Clary swallowed, and the tip of the blade cut a little deeper. More blood trickled down her chest. “She never told me I was a Shadowhunter. ”

“Do you know why,” Valentine said, looking down the length of the Sword at her, “your mother left me?”

Tears burned the back of Clary’s throat. She made a choking noise. “You mean there was only one reason?”

“She told me,” he went on, as if Clary hadn’t spoken, “that I had turned her first child into a monster. She left me before I could do the same to her second. You. But she was too late. ”

The cold at her throat, in her limbs, was so intense that she was beyond shivering. It was as if the Sword was turning her to ice. “She’d never say that,” Clary whispered. “Jace isn’t a monster. Neither am I. ”

“I wasn’t talking about—”

The trapdoor over their heads slammed open and two shadowy figures dropped from the hole, landing just behind Valentine. The first, Clary saw with a bright shock of relief, was Jace, falling through the air like an arrow shot from a bow, sure of its target. He hit the floor with an assured lightness. He was clutching a bloodstained steel strut in one hand, its end broken off to a wicked point.

The second figure landed beside Jace with the same lightness if not the same grace. Clary saw the outline of a slender boy with dark hair and thought, Alec. It was only when he straightened and she recognized the familiar face that she realized who it was.

She forgot the Sword, the cold, the pain in her throat, forgot everything. “Simon!”

Simon looked across the room at her. Their eyes met for just a moment and Clary hoped he could read in her face her full and overwhelming relief. The tears that had been threatening came, and spilled down her face. She didn’t move to wipe them away.

Valentine turned his head to look behind him, and his mouth sagged in the first expression of honest surprise Clary had ever seen on his face. He whirled to face Jace and Simon.

The moment the point of the Sword left Clary’s throat, the ice drained from her, taking all her strength with it. She sank to her knees, shivering uncontrollably. When she raised her hands to wipe the tears away from her face, she saw that the tips of her fingers were white with the beginnings of frostbite.

Jace stared at her in horror, then at his father. “What did you do to her?”

“Nothing,” Valentine said, regaining control of himself. “Yet. ”

To Clary’s surprise, Jace paled, as if his father’s words had shocked him.

“I’m the one who should be asking you what you’ve done, Jonathan,” Valentine said, and though he spoke to Jace, his eyes were on Simon. “Why is it still alive? Revenants can regenerate, but not with such little blood in them. ”

“You mean me?” Simon demanded. Clary stared. Simon sounded different. He didn’t sound like a kid smarting off to an adult; he sounded like someone who felt like he could face Valentine Morgenstern on equal footing. Like someone who deserved to face him on equal footing. “Oh, that’s right, you left me for dead. Well, dead-er. ”

“Shut up. ” Jace shot a glare at Simon; his eyes were very dark. “Let me answer this. ” He turned to his father. “I let Simon drink my blood,” he said. “So he wouldn’t die. ”

Valentine’s already severe face settled into harder lines, as if the bones were pushing out through the skin. “You willingly let a vampire drink your blood?”

Jace seemed to hesitate for a moment—he glanced over at Simon, who was staring fixedly at Valentine with a look of intense hatred. Then he said, carefully, “Yes. ”

“You have no idea what you’ve done, Jonathan,” said Valentine in a terrible voice. “No idea. ”

“I saved a life,” said Jace. “One you tried to take. I know that much. ”

“Not a human life,” said Valentine. “You resurrected a monster that will only kill to feed again. His kind are always hungry—”

“I’m hungry right now,” Simon said, and smiled to reveal that his fang teeth had slid from their sheaths. They glittered white and pointed against his lower lip. “I wouldn’t mind a little more blood. Of course your blood would probably choke me, you poisonous piece of—”

Valentine laughed. “I’d like to see you try it, revenant,” he said. “When the Soul-Sword cuts you, you will burn as you die. ”

Clary saw Jace’s eyes go to the Sword, and then to her. There was an unspoken question in them. Quickly, she said, “The Sword isn’t turned. Not quite. He didn’t get Maia’s blood, so he didn’t finish the ceremony—”

Valentine turned toward her, Sword in hand, and she saw him smile. The Sword seemed to flick in his grasp, and then something hit her—it was like being knocked over by a wave, thrown down and then lifted against your will and tossed through the air. She rolled across the floor, helpless to stop herself, until she struck the bulkhead with bruising force. She crumpled at the base of it, gasping with breathlessness and pain.

Simon started toward her at a run. Valentine swung the Soul-Sword and a sheet of sheer, blazing fire rose up, sending him stumbling backward with its surging heat.

Clary struggled to raise herself onto her elbows. Her mouth was full of blood. The world swayed around her and she wondered how hard she’d hit her head and if she was going to pass out. She willed herself to stay conscious.

The fire had receded, but Simon was still crouched on the floor, looking dazed. Valentine glanced briefly at him, and then at Jace. “If you kill the revenant now,” he said, “you can still undo what you’ve done. ”

“No,” Jace whispered.

“Just take the weapon you hold in your hand and drive it through his heart. ” Valentine’s voice was soft. “One simple motion. Nothing you haven’t done before. ”

Jace met his father’s stare with a level gaze. “I saw Agramon,” he said. “It had your face. ”

“You met with Agramon alone?” The Soul-Sword glittered as Valentine moved toward his son. “And you lived?”

“I killed it. ”

“You killed the Demon of Fear, but you won’t kill a single vampire, not even at my order?”

Jace stood watching Valentine without expression. “He’s a vampire, that’s true,” he said. “But his name is Simon. ”

Valentine stopped in front of Jace, the Soul-Sword in his hand, burning with a harsh black light. Clary wondered for a terrified moment if Valentine meant to stab Jace where he stood, and if Jace meant to let him. “I take it, then,” Valentine said, “that you haven’t changed your mind? What you told me when you came to me before, that was your final word, or do you regret having disobeyed me?”

Jace shook his head slowly. One hand still clutched the broken strut, but his other hand—his right—was at his waist, drawing something from his belt. His eyes, though, never left Valentine’s, and Clary wasn’t sure Valentine saw what he was doing. She hoped not.

“Yes,” Jace said, “I regret having disobeyed you. ”

No! Clary thought, but her heart sank. Was he giving up, did he think it was the only way to save her and Simon?

Valentine’s face softened. “Jonathan—”

“Especially,” Jace said, “since I plan to do it again. Right now. ” His hand moved, quick as a flash of light, and something hurtled through the air toward Clary. It fell a few inches from her, hitting the metal with a clang and rolling. Her eyes widened.

It was her mother’s stele.

Valentine began to laugh. “A stele? Jace, is this some sort of joke? Or have you finally—”

Clary didn’t hear the rest of what he said; she heaved herself up, gasping as pain lanced through her head. Her eyes watered, her vision blurred; she reached out a shaking hand for the stele—and as her fingers touched it, she heard a voice, as clear inside her head as if her mother stood beside her. Take the stele, Clary. Use it. You know what to do.

Her fingers closed spasmodically around it. She sat up, ignoring the wave of pain that went through her head and down her spine. She was a Shadowhunter, and pain was something you lived with. Dimly, she could hear Valentine call her name, hear his footsteps, coming nearer—and she flung herself at the bulkhead, thrusting the stele forward with such force that when its tip touched the metal, she thought she heard the sizzle of something burning.

She began to draw. As always happened when she drew, the world fell away and there was only herself and the stele and the metal she drew on. She remembered standing outside Jace’s cell whispering to herself, Open, open, open, and knew that she had drawn on all her strength to create the rune that had broken Jace’s bonds. And she knew that the strength she had put into that rune was not a tenth, not a hundredth, of the strength she was putting into this. Her hands burned and she cried out as she dragged the stele down the metal wall, leaving a thick black line like char behind it. Open.

All her frustration, all her disappointment, all her rage went through her fingers and into the stele and into the rune. Open. All her love, all her relief at seeing Simon alive, all her hope that they still might survive. Open!

Her hand, still holding the stele, dropped to her lap. For a moment there was utter silence as all of them—Jace, Valentine, even Simon—stared along with her at the rune that burned on the ship’s bulkhead.

It was Simon who spoke, turning to Jace. “What does it say?”

But it was Valentine who answered, not taking his eyes from the wall. There was a look on his face—not at all the look Clary had expected, a look that mixed triumph and horror, despair and delight. “It says,” he said, “Mene mene tekel upharsin. ”

Clary staggered to her feet. “That’s not what it says,” she whispered. “It says open. ”

Valentine met her eyes with his own. “Clary—”

The scream of metal drowned out his words. The wall Clary had drawn on, a wall made of sheets of solid steel, warped and shuddered. Rivets tore free of their housings and jets of water sprayed into the room.

She could hear Valentine calling, but his voice was drowned out by the deafening sounds of metal being wrenched from metal as every nail, every screw, and every rivet that held together the enormous ship began tearing free from its moorings.

She tried to run toward Jace and Simon, but fell to her knees as another surge of water came through the widening hole in the wall. This time the wave knocked her down, icy water drawing her under. Somewhere Jace was calling her name, his voice loud and desperate over the screaming of the ship. She shouted his name only once before she was sucked out the jagged hole in the bulkhead and into the river.

She spun and kicked in the black water. Terror gripped her, terror of the blind darkness and of the depths of the river, the millions of tons of water all around her, pressing in on her, choking out the air in her lungs. She couldn’t tell which way was up or which direction to swim. She could no longer hold her breath. She sucked in a lungful of filthy water, her chest bursting with the pain, stars exploding behind her eyes. In her ears the sound of rushing water was replaced by a high, sweet, impossible singing. I’m dying, she thought in wonder. A pair of pale hands reached out of the black water and drew her close. Long hair drifted around her. Mom, Clary thought, but before she could clearly see her mother’s face, the darkness closed her eyes.

* * *

Clary came back to consciousness with voices all around her and lights shining in her eyes. She was flat on her back on the corrugated steel of Luke’s truck bed. The gray-black sky swam overhead. She could smell river water all around her, mixed with the smell of smoke and blood. White faces hovered over her like balloons on strings. They swam into focus as she blinked her eyes.

Luke. And Simon. They were both looking down at her with expressions of anxious concern. For a moment she thought Luke’s hair had gone white; then, blinking, she realized it was full of ashes. In fact, so was the air—it tasted of ashes—and their clothes and skin were streaked with blackish grime.

She coughed, tasting ash in her mouth. “Where’s Jace?”

“He’s…” Simon’s eyes went to Luke, and Clary felt her heart contract.

“He’s all right, isn’t he?” she demanded. She struggled to sit up and a hard pain shot through her head. “Where is he? Where is he?”

“I’m here. ” Jace appeared at the edge of her vision, his face in shadow. He knelt down next to her. “I’m sorry. I should have been here when you woke up. It’s just…”

His voice cracked.

“It’s just what?” She stared at him; backlit by starlight, his hair was more silver than gold, his eyes bleached of color. His skin was streaked with black and gray.

“He thought you were dead too,” Luke said, and stood up abruptly. He was staring out at the river, at something Clary couldn’t see. The sky was full of swirls of black and scarlet smoke, as if it were on fire.

“Dead too? Who else—?” She broke off as a nauseating pain gripped her. Jace saw her expression and reached into his pocket, bringing out his stele.

“Hold still, Clary. ” There was a burning pain in her forearm, and then her head began to clear. She sat up and saw that she was sitting on a wet plank shoved up against the back of the truck cab. The bed was full of several inches of sloshing water, mixed with swirls of the ash that was sifting down from the sky in a fine black rain.

She glanced at the place where Jace had drawn a healing Mark on the inside of her arm. Her weakness was already receding, as if he’d shot a jolt of strength into her veins.

He traced the line of the iratze he’d drawn on her arm with his fingers before he drew back. His hand felt as cold and wet as her skin did. The rest of him was wet too; his hair damp and his soaked clothes sticking to his body.

There was an acrid taste in her mouth, as if she’d licked the bottom of an ashtray. “What happened? Was there a fire?”

Jace glanced toward Luke, who was staring out at the heaving black-gray river. The water was dotted here and there with small boats, but there was no sign of Valentine’s ship. “Yes,” he said. “Valentine’s ship burned down to the waterline. There’s nothing left. ”

“Where is everyone?” Clary moved her gaze to Simon, who was the only one of them who was dry. There was a faint greenish cast to his already pale skin, as if he were sick or feverish. “Where are Isabelle and Alec?”

“They’re on one of the other Shadowhunter boats. They’re fine. ”

“And Magnus?” She twisted around to look into the truck cab, but it was empty.

“He was needed to tend to some of the more badly wounded Shadowhunters,” said Luke.

“But everyone’s all right? Alec, Isabelle, Maia—they are all right, aren’t they?” Clary’s voice sounded small and thin in her own ears.

“Isabelle was injured,” said Luke. “So was Robert Lightwood. He’ll be needing a good amount of time to heal. Many of the other Shadowhunters, including Malik and Imogen, are dead. This was a very hard battle, Clary, and it didn’t go well for us. Valentine is gone. So is the Sword. The Conclave is in tatters. I don’t know—”

He broke off. Clary stared at him. There was something in his voice that frightened her. “I’m sorry,” she said. “This was my fault. If I hadn’t—”

“If you hadn’t done what you did, Valentine would have killed everyone on the ship,” said Jace fiercely. “You’re the only thing that kept this from being a massacre. ”

Clary stared at him. “You mean what I did with the rune?”

“You tore that ship to fragments,” Luke said. “Every bolt, every rivet, anything that might have held it together, just snapped apart. The whole thing shuddered into pieces. The oil tanks came apart too. Most of us barely had time to jump into the water before it all started to burn. What you did—no one’s ever seen anything like it. ”

“Oh,” Clary said in a small voice. “Was anyone—did I hurt anyone?”

“Quite a few of the demons drowned when the ship sank,” said Jace. “But none of the Shadowhunters were hurt, no. ”

“Because they can swim?”

“Because they were rescued. Nixies pulled us all out of the water. ”

Clary thought of the hands in the water, the impossible sweet singing that had surrounded her. So it hadn’t been her mother after all. “You mean water faeries?”

“The Queen of the Seelie Court came through, in her way,” said Jace. “She did promise us what aid was in her power. ”

“But how did she…” How did she know? Clary was going to say, but she thought of the Queen’s wise and cunning eyes, and of Jace throwing that bit of white paper into the water by the beach in Red Hook, and decided not to ask.

“The Shadowhunter boats are starting to move,” said Simon, looking out at the river. “I guess they’ve picked up everyone they could. ”

“Right. ” Luke squared his shoulders. “Time to get going. ” He moved slowly toward the truck cab—he was limping, though he seemed otherwise mostly uninjured.

Luke swung himself into the driver’s seat, and in a moment the truck’s engine was roiling again. They took off, skimming the water, the drops splashed up by the wheels catching the gray-silver of the lightening sky.

“This is so weird,” said Simon. “I keep expecting the truck to start sinking. ”

“I can’t believe you just went through what we went through and you think this is weird,” said Jace, but there was no malice in his tone and no annoyance. He sounded only very, very tired.

“What will happen to the Lightwoods?” Clary asked. “After everything that’s happened—the Clave—”

Jace shrugged. “The Clave works in mysterious ways. I don’t know what they’ll do. They’ll be very interested in you, though. And in what you can do. ”

Simon made a noise. Clary thought at first that it was a noise of protest, but when she looked closely at him, she saw he was greener than ever. “What’s wrong, Simon?”

“It’s the river,” he said. “Running water isn’t good for vampires. It’s pure, and—we’re not. ”

“The East River’s hardly pure,” said Clary, but she reached out and touched his arm gently anyway. He smiled at her. “Didn’t you fall into the water when the ship came apart?”

“No. There was a piece of metal floating in the water and Jace tossed me onto it. I stayed out of the river. ”

Clary looked over her shoulder at Jace. She could see him a little more clearly now; the darkness was fading. “Thank you,” she said. “Do you think…”

He raised his eyebrows. “Do I think what?”

“That Valentine might have drowned?”

“Never believe the bad guy is dead until you see a body,” said Simon. “That just leads to unhappiness and surprise ambushes. ”

“You’re not wrong,” said Jace. “My guess is he isn’t dead. Otherwise we would have found the Mortal Instruments. ”

“Can the Clave go on without them? Whether Valentine’s alive or not?” Clary wondered.

“The Clave always goes on,” said Jace. “That’s all it knows how to do. ” He turned his face toward the eastern horizon. “The sun’s coming up. ”

Simon went rigid. Clary stared at him in surprise for a moment, and then in shocked horror. She whirled to follow Jace’s gaze. He was right—the eastern horizon was a blood-red stain spreading out from a golden disc. Clary could see the first edge of the sun staining the water around them unearthly hues of green and scarlet and gold.

“No!” she whispered.

Jace looked at her in surprise, and then at Simon, who sat motionless, staring at the rising sun like a trapped mouse staring at a cat. Jace got quickly to his feet and walked over to the truck cab. He spoke in a low voice. Clary saw Luke turn to look at her and Simon, and then back at Jace. He shook his head.

The truck lurched forward. Luke must have pressed his foot to the gas. Clary grabbed for the side of the truck bed to steady herself. Up front, Jace was shouting at Luke that there had to be some way to make the damn thing go faster, but Clary knew they’d never outrun the dawn.

“There must be something,” she said to Simon. She couldn’t believe that in less than five minutes she’d gone from incredulous relief to incredulous horror. “We could cover you, maybe, with our clothes—”

Simon was still staring at the sun, white-faced. “A pile of rags won’t work,” he said. “Raphael explained—it takes walls to protect us from sunlight. It’ll burn through cloth. ”

“But there must be something—”

“Clary. ” She could see him clearly now, in the gray predawn light, his eyes huge and dark in his white face. He held out his hands to her. “Come here. ”

She fell against him, trying to cover as much of his body as she could with her own. She knew it was useless. When the sun touched him, he’d fall away to ashes.

They sat for a moment in perfect stillness, arms wrapped around each other. Clary could feel the rise and fall of his chest—habit, she reminded herself, not necessity. He might not breathe, but he could still die.

“I won’t let you die,” she said.

“I don’t think you get a choice. ” She felt him smile. “I didn’t think I’d get to see the sun again,” he said. “I guess I was wrong. ”

“Simon—”

Jace shouted something. Clary looked up. The sky was flooded with rose-colored light, like dye poured into clear water. Simon tensed under her. “I love you,” he said. “I have never loved anyone else but you. ”

Gold threads shot through the rosy sky like the gold veining in expensive marble. The water around them blazed with light and Simon went rigid, his head falling back, his open eyes filling with gold as if molten liquid were rising inside of him. Black lines appeared on his skin like cracks in a shattered statue.

“Simon!” Clary screamed. She reached for him but felt herself hauled suddenly backward; it was Jace, his hands gripping her shoulders. She tried to pull away but he held her tightly; he was saying something in her ear, over and over, and only after a few moments did she even begin to understand him.

“Clary, look. Look. ”

“No!” Her hands flew to her face. She could taste the brackish water from the bottom of the truck bed on her palms. It was salty, like tears. “I don’t want to look. I don’t want to—”

“Clary. ” Jace’s hands were at her wrists, pulling her hands away from her face. The dawn light stung her eyes. “Look. ”

She looked. And heard her own breath whistle harshly in her lungs as she gasped. Simon was sitting up at the back of the truck, in a patch of sunlight, openmouthed and staring down at himself. The sun danced on the water behind him and the edges of his hair glinted like gold. He had not burned away to ash, but sat unscorched in the sunlight, and the pale skin of his face and arms and hands was entirely unmarked.

Outside the Institute, night was falling. The faint red of sunset glowed in through the windows of Jace’s bedroom as he stared at the pile of his belongings on the bed. The pile was much smaller than he thought it would be. Seven whole years of life in this place, and this was all he had to show for it: half a duffel bag’s worth of clothes, a small stack of books, and a few weapons.

He had debated whether he should bring the few things he’d saved from the manor house in Idris with him when he left tonight. Magnus had given him back his father’s silver ring, which he no longer felt comfortable wearing. He had hung it on a loop of chain around his throat. In the end, he had decided to take everything: There was no point leaving anything of himself behind in this place.

He was packing the duffel with clothes when a knock sounded at the door. He went to it, expecting Alec or Isabelle.

It was Maryse. She wore a severe black dress and her hair was pulled back sharply from her face. She looked older than he remembered her. Two deep lines ran from the corners of her mouth to her jaw. Only her eyes had any color. “Jace,” she said. “Can I come in?”

“You can do what you like,” he said, returning to the bed. “It’s your house. ” He grabbed up a handful of shirts and stuffed them into the duffel bag with possibly unnecessary force.

“Actually, it’s the Clave’s house,” said Maryse. “We’re only its guardians. ”

Jace shoved books into the bag. “Whatever. ”

“What are you doing?” If Jace hadn’t known better, he would have thought her voice wavered slightly.

“I’m packing,” he said. “It’s what people generally do when they’re moving out. ”

She blanched. “Don’t leave,” she said. “If you want to stay—”

“I don’t want to stay. I don’t belong here. ”

“Where will you go?”

“Luke’s,” he said, and saw her flinch. “For a while. After that, I don’t know. Maybe to Idris. ”

“Is that where you think you belong?” There was an aching sadness in her voice.

Jace stopped packing for a moment and stared down at his bag. “I don’t know where I belong. ”

“With your family. ” Maryse took a tentative step forward. “With us. ”

“You threw me out. ” Jace heard the harshness in his own voice, and tried to soften it. “I’m sorry,” he said, turning to look at her. “About everything that’s happened. But you didn’t want me before, and I can’t imagine you want me now. Robert’s going to be sick awhile; you’ll be needing to take care of him. I’ll just be in the way. ”

“In the way?” She sounded incredulous. “Robert wants to see you, Jace—”

“I doubt that. ”

“What about Alec? Isabelle, Max—they need you. If you don’t believe me that I want you here—and I couldn’t blame you if you didn’t—you must know that they do. We’ve been through a bad time, Jace. Don’t hurt them more than they’re already hurt. ”

“That’s not fair. ”

“I don’t blame you if you hate me. ” Her voice was wavering. Jace swung around to stare at her in surprise. “But what I did—even throwing you out—treating you as I did, it was to protect you. And because I was afraid. ”

“Afraid of me?”

She nodded.

“Well, that makes me feel much better. ”

Maryse took a deep breath. “I thought you would break my heart like Valentine did,” she said. “You were the first thing I loved, you see, after him, that wasn’t my own blood. The first living creature. And you were just a child—”

“You thought I was someone else. ”

“No. I’ve always known just who you are. Ever since the first time I saw you getting off the ship from Idris, when you were ten years old—you walked into my heart, just as my own children did when they were born. ” She shook her head. “You can’t understand. You’ve never been a parent. You never love anything like you love your children. And nothing can make you angrier. ”

“I did notice the angry part,” Jace said, after a pause.

“I don’t expect you to forgive me,” Maryse said. “But if you’d stay for Isabelle and Alec and Max, I’d be so grateful—”

It was the wrong thing to say. “I don’t want your gratitude,” Jace said, and turned back to the duffel bag. There was nothing left to put in it. He tugged at the zipper.

“A la claire fontaine,” Maryse said, “m’en allent promener. ”

He turned to look at her. “What?”

“Il y a longtemps que je t’aime. Jamais je ne t’oublierai—it’s the old French ballad I used to sing to Alec and Isabelle. The one you asked me about. ”

There was very little light in the room now, and in the dimness Maryse looked to him almost as she had when he was ten years old, as if she had not changed at all in the past seven years. She looked severe and worried, anxious—and hopeful. She looked like the only mother he’d ever known.

“You were wrong that I never sang it to you,” she said. “It’s just that you never heard me. ”

Jace said nothing, but he reached out and yanked the zipper open on the duffel bag, letting his belongings spill out onto the bed.

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