Chapter 22: RENWICK’S RUIN
FOR A LONG MOMENT AFTER LUKE FINISHED SPEAKING, THERE was silence in the room. The only sound was the faint drip of water down the stone walls. Finally, he said:
“Say something, Clary. ”
“What do you want me to say?”
He sighed. “Maybe that you understand?”
Clary could hear her blood pounding in her ears. She felt as if her life had been built on a sheet of ice as thin as paper, and now the ice was beginning to crack, threatening to plunge her into the icy darkness below. Down into the dark water, she thought, where all her mother’s secrets drifted in the currents, the forgotten remains of a shipwrecked life.
She looked up at Luke. He seemed wavering, indistinct, as if she looked through a blurred glass. “My father,” she said. “That picture my mother always kept on the mantel—”
“That wasn’t your father,” said Luke.
“Did he ever even exist?” Clary’s voice rose. “Was there ever a John Clark, or did my mother make him up too?”
“John Clark existed. But he wasn’t your father. He was the son of two of your mother’s neighbors when you lived in the East Village. He died in a car crash, just like your mother told you, but she never knew him. She had his photo because the neighbors commissioned her to paint a portrait of him in his Army uniform. She gave them the portrait but kept the photo, and pretended the man in it had been your father. I think she thought it was easier that way. After all, if she’d claimed he’d run off or disappeared, you’d have wanted to look for him. A dead man—”
“Won’t contradict your lies,” Clary finished for him bitterly. “Didn’t she think it was wrong, all those years, letting me think my father was dead, when my real father—”
Luke said nothing, letting her find the end of the sen-tence herself, letting her think the unthinkable thought on her own.
“Is Valentine. ” Her voice shook. “That’s what you’re telling me, right? That Valentine was—is—my father?”
Luke nodded, his knotted fingers the only sign of the tension he felt. “Yes. ”
“Oh, my God. ” Clary leaped to her feet, no longer able to sit still. She paced to the bars of the cell. “That’s not possible. It’s just not possible. ”
“Clary, please don’t get upset—”
“Don’t get upset? You’re telling me that my dad is a guy who’s basically an evil overlord, and you want me not to get upset?”
“He wasn’t evil to begin with,” Luke said, sounding almost apologetic.
“Oh, I beg to differ. I think he was clearly evil. All that stuff he was spouting about keeping the human race pure and the importance of untainted blood—he was like one of those creepy white power guys. And you two totally fell for it. ”
“I wasn’t the one talking about ‘slimy’ Downworlders just minutes ago,” Luke said quietly. “Or about how they couldn’t be trusted. ”
“That’s not the same thing!” Clary could hear the tears in her voice. “I had a brother,” she went on, her voice catching. “Grandparents, too. They’re dead?”
Luke nodded, looking down at his big hands, open on his knees. “They’re dead. ”
“Jonathan,” she said softly. “He would have been older than me? A year older?”
Luke said nothing.
“I always wanted a brother,” she said.
“Don’t,” he said wretchedly. “Don’t torture yourself. You can see why your mother kept all this from you, can’t you? What good would it have done you to know what you had lost before you were even born?”
“That box,” Clary said, her mind working feverishly. “With the J. C. on it. Jonathan Christopher. That was what she was always crying over, that was his lock of hair—my brother’s, not my father’s. ”
“And when you said ‘Clary isn’t Jonathan,’ you meant my brother. My mom was so overprotective of me because she’d already had one child who died. ”
Before Luke could reply, the cell door clanged open and Gretel entered. The “healing kit,” which Clary had been envisioning as a hard plastic-sided box with the Red Cross insignia on it, turned out to be a big wooden tray, stacked with folded bandages, steaming bowls of unidentified liquids, and herbs that gave off a pungent lemony odor. Gretel set the tray down beside the cot and gestured for Clary to sit down, which she did unwillingly.
“That’s a good girl,” said the wolf-woman, dipping a cloth into one of the bowls and lifting it to Clary’s face. Gently she cleaned away the dried blood. “What happened to you?” she asked disapprovingly, as if she suspected Clary of taking a cheese grater to her face.
“I was wondering that myself,” said Luke, watching the goings-on with folded arms.
“Hugo attacked me. ” Clary tried not to wince as the astringent liquid stung her wounds.
“Hugo?” Luke blinked.
“Hodge’s bird. I think it was his bird, anyway. Maybe it was Valentine’s. ”
“Hugin,” Luke said softly. “Hugin and Munin were Valentine’s pet birds. Their names mean ‘Thought’ and ‘Memory. ’”
“Well, they should mean ‘Attack’ and ‘Kill,’” said Clary. “Hugo almost tore my eyes out. ”
“That’s what he’s trained to do. ” Luke was tapping the fingers of one hand against his other arm. “Hodge must have taken him in after the Uprising. But he’d still be Valentine’s creature. ”
“Just like Hodge was,” Clary said, wincing as Gretel cleaned the long slash along her arm, which was crusted with dirt and dried blood. Then Gretel began bandaging it up neatly.
“I don’t want to talk about the past anymore,” she said fiercely. “I want to know what we’re going to do now. Now Valentine’s got my mom, Jace—and the Cup. And we’ve got nothing. ”
“I wouldn’t say we have nothing,” said Luke. “We have a powerful wolf pack. The problem is that we don’t know where Valentine is. ”
Clary shook her head. Lank strings of hair fell into her eyes, and she tossed them back impatiently. God, she was filthy. The one thing she wanted more than anything else—almost anything else—was a shower. “Doesn’t Valentine have some kind of hideout? A secret lair?”
“If he does,” said Luke, “he has kept it secret indeed. ”
Gretel released Clary, who moved her arm gingerly. The greenish ointment Gretel had smeared on the cut had minimized the pain, but the arm still felt stiff and wooden. “Wait a second,” Clary said.
“I never understand why people say that,” Luke said, to no one in particular. “I wasn’t going anywhere. ”
“Could Valentine be somewhere in New York?”
“When I saw him at the Institute, he came through a Portal. Magnus said there are only two Portals in New York. One at Dorothea’s, and one at Renwick’s. The one at Dorothea’s was destroyed, and I can’t really see him hiding out there anyway, so—”
“Renwick’s?” Luke looked baffled. “Renwick isn’t a Shadowhunter name. ”
“What if Renwick isn’t a person, though?” said Clary. “What if it’s a place? Renwick’s. Like a restaurant, or … or a hotel or something. ”
Luke’s eyes went suddenly wide. He turned to Gretel, who was advancing on him with the medical kit. “Get me a phone book,” he said.
She stopped in her tracks, holding the tray out toward him in an accusatory manner. “But, sir, your wounds—”
“Forget my wounds and get me a phone book,” he snapped. “We’re in a police station. You’d think there’d be plenty of old ones around. ”
With a look of disdainful exasperation Gretel set the tray down on the ground and marched out of the room. Luke looked at Clary over his spectacles, which had slid partway down his nose. “Good thinking. ”
She didn’t reply. There was a hard knot at the center of her stomach. She found herself trying to breathe around it. The beginning of a thought tickled at the edge of her mind, wanting to resolve itself into a full-blown realization. But she pushed it firmly down and away. She couldn’t afford to give her resources, her energy, to anything but the issue immediately at hand.
Gretel returned with damp-looking yellow pages and thrust them at Luke. He read the book standing up while the wolf-woman attacked his injured side with bandages and sticky pots of ointment. “There are seven Renwicks in the phone book,” he said finally. “No restaurants, hotels, or other locations. ” He pushed his spectacles up; they slid down again instantly. “They are not Shadowhunters,” he said, “and it seems unlikely to me that Valentine would set up headquarters in the home of a mundane or a Downworlder. Though, perhaps—”
“Do you have a phone?” Clary interrupted.
“Not on me. ” Luke, still holding the phone book, peered under it at Gretel. “Could you get the telephone?”
With a disgusted snort she tossed the wad of bloody cloths she’d been holding onto the floor, and stalked out of the room a second time. Luke set the phone book down on the table, picked up the roll of bandaging, and began winding it around the diagonal cut across his ribs. “Sorry,” he said, as Clary stared. “I know it’s disgusting. ”
“If we catch Valentine,” she asked abruptly, “can we kill him?”
Luke nearly dropped the bandages. “What?”
She fiddled with a stray thread poking out of the pocket of her jeans. “He killed my older brother. He killed my grandparents. Didn’t he?”
Luke set the bandages on the table and pulled his shirt down. “And you think killing him will what? Erase those things?”
Gretel returned before Clary could say anything to that. She wore a martyred expression and handed Luke a clunky-looking old-fashioned cell phone. Clary wondered who paid the phone bills.
Clary held her hand out. “Let me make a call. ”
Luke seemed hesitant. “Clary …”
“It’s about Renwick’s. It’ll only take a second. ”
He handed her the phone warily. She punched in the number, and half-turned away from him to give herself the illusion of privacy.
Simon picked up on the third ring. “Hello?”
“It’s me. ”
His voice climbed an octave. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine. Why? Have you heard anything from Isabelle?”
“No. What would I have heard from Isabelle? Is there something wrong? Is it Alec?”
“No,” Clary said, not wanting to lie and say that Alec was fine. “It’s not Alec. Look, I just need you to Google something for me. ”
Simon snorted. “You’re kidding. Don’t they have a computer there? You know what, don’t answer that. ” She heard the sounds of a door opening and the thump-meow as Simon’s mother’s cat was banished from his perch on the keyboard of his computer. She could picture Simon quite clearly in her head as he sat down, his fingers moving quickly over the keyboard. “What do you want me to look up?”
She told him. She could feel Luke’s worried eyes on her as she talked. It was the same way he’d looked at her when she was eleven years old and had the flu with a spiking fever. He’d brought her ice cubes to suck on and had read to her out of her favorite books, doing all the voices.
“You’re right,” Simon said, snapping her out of her reverie. “It’s a place. Or at least, it was a place. It’s abandoned now. ”
Her sweaty hand slipped on the phone, and she tightened her grip. “Tell me about it. ”
“‘The most famous of the lunatic asylums, debtor’s prisons, and hospitals built on Roosevelt Island in the 1800s,’” Simon read dutifully. “‘Renwick Smallpox Hospital was designed by architect Jacob Renwick and intended to quarantine the poorest victims of Manhattan’s uncontrollable smallpox epidemic. During the next century the hospital was abandoned to disrepair. Public access to the ruin is forbidden. ’”
“Okay, that’s enough,” said Clary, her heart pounding. “That’s got to be it. Roosevelt Island? Don’t people live there?”
“Not everyone lives in the Slope, princess,” said Simon, with a fair degree of mock sarcasm. “Anyway, do you need me to give you a ride again or something?”
“No! I’m fine, I don’t need anything. I just wanted the information. ”
“All right. ” He sounded a little hurt, Clary thought, but told herself it didn’t matter. He was safe at home, and that was what was important.
She hung up, turning to Luke. “There’s an abandoned hospital at the south end of Roosevelt Island called Renwick’s. I think Valentine’s there. ”
Luke shoved his glasses up again. “Blackwell’s Island. Of course. ”
“What do you mean, Blackwell’s? I said—”
He cut her off with a gesture. “That’s what Roosevelt Island used to be called. Blackwell’s. It was owned by an old Shadowhunter family. I should have guessed. ” He turned to Gretel. “Get Alaric. We’re going to need everyone back here as soon as possible. ” His lips were curled into a half smile that reminded Clary of the cold grin Jace wore during fights. “Tell them to ready themselves for battle. ”
They made their way up to the street via a circuitous maze of cells and corridors that eventually opened out into what had once been the lobby of a police station. The building was abandoned now, and the slanting light of late afternoon cast strange shadows over the empty desks, the padlocked cabinets pocked with black termite holes, the cracked floor tiles spelling out the motto of the NYPD: Fidelis ad Mortem.
“‘Faithful unto death,’” said Luke, following her gaze.
“Let me guess,” said Clary. “On the inside it’s an abandoned police station; from the outside, mundanes only see a condemned apartment building, or a vacant lot, or …”
“Actually it looks like a Chinese restaurant from the outside,” Luke said. “Takeout only, no table service. ”
“A Chinese restaurant?” Clary echoed in disbelief.
He shrugged. “Well, we are in Chinatown. This was the Second Precinct building once. ”
“People must think it’s weird that there’s no phone number to call for orders. ”
Luke grinned. “There is. We just don’t answer it much. Sometimes, if they’re bored, some of the cubs will deliver someone some mu shu pork. ”
“You’re kidding. ”
“Not at all. The tips come in handy. ” He pushed the front door open, letting in a stream of sunlight.
Still not sure whether he was kidding or not, Clary followed Luke across Baxter Street to where his car was parked. The inside of the pickup truck was comfortingly familiar. The faint smell of wood chips and old paper and soap, the faded pair of plush gold dice that she’d given him when she was ten because they looked like the gold dice hanging from the rearview mirror of the Millennium Falcon. The discarded gum wrappers and empty coffee cups rolling around on the floor. Clary hauled herself up into the passenger seat, settling back against the headrest with a sigh. She was more tired than she would have liked to admit.
Luke shut the door after her. “Stay right here. ”
She watched as he talked to Gretel and Alaric, who were standing on the steps of the old police station, waiting patiently. Clary amused herself by letting her eyes fade in and out of focus, watching the glamour appear and disappear. First it was an old police station, then it was a dilapidated storefront sporting a yellow awning that read JADE WOLF CHINESE CUISINE. Luke was gesturing to his second and third, pointing down the street. His pickup was the first in a line of vans, motorcycles, Jeeps, and even a wrecked-looking old school bus. The vehicles stretched in a line down the block and around the corner. A convoy of werewolves. Clary wondered how they’d begged, borrowed, stolen, or commandeered so many vehicles on such short notice. On the plus side, at least they wouldn’t all have to go on the aerial tram.
Luke accepted a white paper bag from Gretel, and with a nod, bounded back to the pickup. Folding his lanky body behind the wheel, he handed her the bag. “You’re in charge of this. ”
Clary peered at it suspiciously. “What is it? Weapons?”
Luke’s shoulders shook with soundless laughter. “Steamed bao buns, actually,” he said, pulling the truck out into the street. “And coffee. ”
Clary ripped the bag open as they headed uptown, her stomach growling furiously. She tore a bun apart, savoring the rich savory-salt taste of the pork, the chewiness of the white dough. She washed it down with a swig of black supersweet coffee, and offered a bun to Luke. “Want one?”
“Sure. ” It was almost like old times, she thought, as they swung onto Canal Street, when they had picked up bags of hot dumplings from the Golden Carriage Bakery and eaten half of them on the drive home over the Manhattan Bridge.
“So tell me about this Jace,” said Luke.
Clary nearly choked on a bun. She reached for the coffee, drowning her coughs with hot liquid. “What about him?”
“Do you have any idea what Valentine might want with him?”
Luke frowned into the setting sun. “I thought Jace was one of the Lightwood kids?”
“No. ” Clary bit into a third bun. “His last name is Wayland. His father was—”
She nodded. “And when Jace was ten years old, Valentine killed him. Michael, I mean. ”
“That sounds like something he would do,” said Luke. His tone was neutral, but there was something in his voice that made Clary look at him sideways. Did he not believe her?
“Jace saw him die,” she added, as if to bolster her claim.
“That’s awful,” said Luke. “Poor messed-up kid. ”
They were driving over the Fifty-ninth Street Bridge. Clary glanced down and saw the river turned all to gold and blood by the setting sun. She could glimpse the south end of Roosevelt Island from here, though it was just a smudge to the north. “He’s not so bad,” she said. “The Lightwoods have taken good care of him. ”
“I can imagine. They were always close with Michael,” observed Luke, swerving into the left lane. In the side mirror Clary could see the caravan of following vehicles alter its course to mimic his. “They would want to look after his son. ”
“So what happens when the moon comes up?” she asked. “Are you all going to suddenly wolf out, or what?”
Luke’s mouth twitched. “Not exactly. Only the young ones, the ones who’ve just Changed, can’t control their transformations. Most of the rest of us have learned how to, over the years. Only the moon at its fullest can force a Change on me now. ”
“So when the moon’s only partly full, you only feel a little wolfy?” Clary asked.
“You could say that. ”
“Well, you can go ahead and hang your head out the car window if you feel like it. ”
Luke laughed. “I’m a werewolf, not a golden retriever. ”
“How long have you been the clan leader?” she asked abruptly.
Luke hesitated. “About a week. ”
Clary swung around to stare at him. “A week?”
He sighed. “I knew Valentine had taken your mother,” he said without much inflection. “I knew I had little chance against him by myself and that I could expect no assistance from the Clave. It took me a day to track down the location of the nearest lycanthrope pack. ”
“You killed the clan leader so you could take his place?”
“It was the fastest way I could think of to acquire a sizeable number of allies in a short period of time,” said Luke, without any regret in his tone, though without any pride either. She remembered spying on him in his house, how she’d noticed the deep scratches on his hands and face and the way he’d winced when he moved his arm. “I had done it before. I was fairly sure I could do it again. ” He shrugged. “Your mother was gone. I knew I’d made you hate me. I had nothing to lose. ”
Clary braced her green sneakers against the dashboard. Through the cracked windshield, above the tips of her toes, the moon was rising over the bridge. “Well,” she said. “You do now. ”
The hospital at the southern end of Roosevelt Island was floodlit at night, its ghostly outlines curiously visible against the darkness of the river and the greater illumination of Manhattan. Luke and Clary fell silent as the pickup skirted the tiny island, as the paved road they were on turned to gravel and finally to packed dirt. The road followed the curve of a high chain-link fence, the top of which was strung with curlicues of razor wire like festive loops of ribbon.
When the road grew too bumpy for them to drive any farther, Luke pulled the truck to a stop and killed the lights. He looked at Clary. “Any chance if I asked you to wait here for me, you would?”
She shook her head. “It wouldn’t necessarily be any safer in the car. Who knows what Valentine’s got patrolling his perimeter?”
Luke laughed softly. “Perimeter. Listen to you. ” He swung himself out of the truck and came around to her side to help her down. She could have jumped down from the truck herself, but it was nice to have him help, the way he’d done when she was too small to climb down on her own.
Her feet hit the dry-packed dirt, sending up puffs of dust. The cars that had been following them were pulling up, one by one, forming a sort of circle around Luke’s truck. Their headlights swept across her view, lighting the chain-link fence to white-silver. Beyond the fence, the hospital itself was a ruin bathed in harsh light that pointed out its dilapidated state: the roofless walls jutting up from the uneven ground like broken teeth, the crenellated stone parapets overgrown with a green carpet of ivy. “It’s a wreck,” she heard herself say softly, a flicker of apprehension in her voice. “I don’t see how Valentine could possibly be hiding here. ”
Luke glanced past her at the hospital. “It’s a strong glamour,” he said. “Try to look past the lights. ” Alaric was walking over to them along the road, the light breeze making his denim jacket flutter open, showing the scarred chest underneath. The werewolves walking behind him looked like completely ordinary people, Clary thought. If she’d seen them all together in a group somewhere, she might have thought they knew each other somehow—there was a certain nonphysical resemblance, a bluntness to their gazes, a forcefulness to their expressions. She might have thought they were farmers, since they looked more sunburned, lean, and rawboned than your average city-dweller, or maybe she would have taken them for a biker gang. But they looked nothing like monsters.
They came together in a quick conference by Luke’s truck, like a football huddle. Clary, feeling very much on the outside, turned to look at the hospital again. This time she tried to stare around the lights, or through them, the way you could sometimes look past a thin topcoat of paint to see what was underneath. As it usually did, thinking of how she would draw it helped. The lights seemed to fade, and now she was looking across an oak-dusted lawn to an ornate Gothic Revival structure that seemed to loom up above the trees like the bulwark of a great ship. The windows of the lower floors were dark and shuttered, but light poured through the mitered arches of the third-story windows, like a line of flame burning along the ridge of a distant mountain range. A heavy stone porch faced outward, hiding the front door.
“You see it?” It was Luke, who had come up behind her with the padding grace of—well, a wolf.
She was still staring. “It looks more like a castle than a hospital. ”
Taking her by the shoulders, Luke turned her to face him. “Clary, listen to me. ” His grip was painfully tight. “I want you to stay next to me. Move when I move. Hold on to my sleeve if you have to. The others are going to stay around us, protecting us, but if you get outside the circle, they won’t be able to guard you. They’re going to move us toward the door. ” He dropped his hands from her shoulders, and when he moved, she saw the glint of something metal just inside his jacket. She hadn’t realized he was carrying a weapon, but then she remembered what Simon had said about what was in Luke’s old green duffel bag and supposed it made sense. “Do you promise you’ll do what I say?”
“I promise. ”
The fence was real, not part of the glamour. Alaric, still in front, rattled it experimentally, then raised a lazy hand. Long claws sprouted from beneath his fingernails, and he slashed at the chain-link with them, slicing the metal to ribbons. They fell in a clattering pile, like Tinkertoys.
“Go. ” He gestured the others through. They surged forward like one person, a coordinated sea of movement. Gripping Clary’s arm, Luke pushed her ahead of him, ducking to follow. They straightened up inside the fence, looking up toward the smallpox hospital, where gathered dark shapes, massed on the porch, were beginning to move down the steps.
Alaric had his head up, sniffing the wind. “The stench of death lies heavy on the air. ”
Luke’s breath left his lungs in a hissing rush. “Forsaken. ”
He shoved Clary behind him; she went, stumbling slightly on the uneven ground. The pack began to move toward her and Luke; as they neared, they dropped to all fours, lips snarling back from their lengthening fangs, limbs extending into long, furred extremities, clothes overgrown by fur. Some tiny instinctual voice in the back of Clary’s brain was screaming at her: Wolves! Run away! But she fought it and stayed where she was, though she could feel the jump and tremble of nerves in her hands.
The pack encircled them, facing outward. More wolves flanked the circle on either side. It was as if she and Luke were the center of a star. Like that, they began to move toward the front porch of the hospital. Still behind Luke, Clary didn’t even see the first of the Forsaken as they struck. She heard a wolf howl as if in pain. The howl went up and up, turning quickly into a snarl. There was a thudding sound, then a gurgling cry and a sound like ripping paper—
Clary found herself wondering if the Forsaken were edible.
She glanced up at Luke. His face was set. She could see them now, beyond the ring of wolves, the scene lit to brilliance by floodlights and the shimmering glow of Manhattan: dozens of Forsaken, their skin corpse-pale in the moonlight, seared by lesionlike runes. Their eyes were vacant as they hurled themselves at the wolves, and the wolves met them head-on, claws tearing, teeth gouging and rending. She saw one of the Forsaken warriors—a woman—fall back, throat torn out, arms still twitching. Another hacked at a wolf with one arm while the other arm lay on the ground a meter away, blood pulsing from the stump. Black blood, brackish as swamp water, ran in streams, slicking the grass so that Clary’s feet slipped out from under her. Luke caught her before she could fall. “Stay with me. ”
I’m here, she wanted to say, but no words would come out of her mouth. The group was still moving up the lawn toward the hospital, agonizingly slowly. Luke’s grip was rigid as iron. Clary couldn’t tell who was winning, if anyone. The wolves had size and speed on their side, but the Forsaken moved with a grim inevitability and were surprisingly hard to kill. She saw the big brindled wolf who was Alaric take one down by tearing its legs out from under it, then leaping for its throat. It kept moving even as he ripped it apart, its slashing ax opening up a long red cut along Alaric’s glinting coat.
Distracted, Clary hardly noticed the Forsaken that broke through the protective circle, until it loomed up in front of her, as if it had sprung up from the grass at her feet. White-eyed, with matted hair, it raised a dripping knife.
She screamed. Luke whirled, dragging her sideways, and caught the thing’s wrist, and twisted. She heard the snap of bone, and the knife fell to the grass. The Forsaken’s hand dangled limply, but it kept coming on toward them, evincing no sign of pain. Luke was shouting hoarsely for Alaric. Clary tried to reach the dagger in her belt, but Luke’s grip on her arm was too strong. Before she could shout at him to let go of her, a lick of slim silver fire hurtled between them. It was Gretel. She landed with her front paws against the Forsaken’s chest, knocking it to the ground. A fierce whine of rage rose from Gretel’s throat, but the Forsaken was stronger; it flung her aside like a rag doll and rolled to its feet.
Something lifted Clary off her feet. She shouted, but it was Alaric, half in and half out of wolf-form, his hands taloned with sharp claws. Still, they held her gently as he swung her up into his arms.
Luke was motioning at them. “Get her out of here! Get her to the doors!” he was shouting.
“Luke!” Clary twisted in Alaric’s grasp.
“Don’t look,” Alaric said in a growl.
But she did look. Long enough to see Luke start toward Gretel, a blade in his hand, but he was too late. The Forsaken seized up its knife, which had fallen into the blood-wet grass, and sank it into Gretel’s back, again and again as she clawed and struggled and finally collapsed, the light in her silvery eyes fading into darkness. With a shout Luke swung his blade at the Forsaken’s throat—
“I told you not to look,” Alaric growled, turning so that her line of sight was blocked by his looming bulk. They were racing up the steps now, the sound of his clawed feet scraping the granite like nails on a blackboard.
“Alaric,” Clary said.
“I’m sorry I threw a knife at you. ”
“Don’t be. It was a well-placed blow. ”
She tried to look past him. “Where’s Luke?”
“I’m here,” Luke said. Alaric turned. Luke was coming up the steps, sliding his sword back into its sheath, which was strapped to his side, beneath his jacket. The blade was black and sticky.
Alaric let Clary slide to the porch. She landed, turning. She couldn’t see Gretel or the Forsaken who had killed her, only a mass of heaving bodies and flashing metal. Her face was wet. She reached up with a free hand to see if she was bleeding but realized that she was crying instead. Luke looked at her curiously. “She was only a Downworlder,” he said.
Clary’s eyes burned. “Don’t say that. ”
“I see. ” He turned to Alaric. “Thank you for taking care of her. While we go on—”
“I’m going with you,” said Alaric. He had made most of the transformation to man-form, but his eyes were still wolf’s eyes, and his lips were drawn back from teeth as long as toothpicks. He flexed his long-nailed hands.
Luke’s eyes were troubled. “Alaric, no. ”
Alaric’s growling voice was flat. “You are the pack leader. I am your second now that Gretel is dead. It would not be right to let you go alone. ”
“I—” Luke looked at Clary, and then back out at the field in front of the hospital. “I need you out here, Alaric. I’m sorry. That’s an order. ”
Alaric’s eyes flashed resentfully, but he stepped aside. The hospital door was ornate heavy carved wood, patterns familiar to Clary, the roses of Idris, curling runes, rayed suns. It gave with the popping noise of a burst latch when Luke kicked at it. He pushed Clary forward as the door swung wide. “Get inside. ”
She stumbled past him, turned on the threshold. She caught a single brief glimpse of Alaric looking after them, his wolf eyes gleaming. Behind him the lawn in front of the hospital was strewn with bodies, the dirt stained with blood, black and red. When the door slammed shut behind her, cutting off her view, she was grateful.
She and Luke stood in half-lit dimness, in a stone entryway lit by a single torch. After the din of battle the silence was like a smothering cloak. Clary found herself gasping in breaths of air, air that wasn’t thick with humidity and the smell of blood.
Luke gripped her shoulder with his hand. “Are you all right?”
She wiped at her cheeks. “You shouldn’t have said that. About Gretel being just a Downworlder. I don’t think that. ”
“I’m glad to hear it. ” He reached for the torch in its metal holder. “I hated the idea of the Lightwoods turning you into a copy of them. ”
“Well, they haven’t. ”
The torch would not come away in Luke’s hand; he frowned. Digging into her pocket, Clary removed the smooth rune-stone Jace had given her for her birthday, and raised it high. Light burst between her fingers, as if she’d cracked a seed of darkness, letting out the illumination trapped inside. Luke let go of the torch.
“Witchlight?” he said.
“Jace gave it to me. ” She could feel it pulse in her hand, like the heartbeat of a tiny bird. She wondered where Jace was in this gray stone pile of rooms, if he was frightened, if he had wondered whether he’d see her again.
“It’s been years since I fought by witchlight,” Luke said, and started up the stairs. They creaked loudly under his boots. “Follow me. ”
The flaring glow of the witchlight cast their shadows, weirdly elongated, against the smooth granite walls. They paused at a stone landing that curved around in an arc. Above them she could see light. “Is this what the hospital used to look like, hundreds of years ago?” Clary whispered.
“Oh, the bones of what Renwick built are still here,” said Luke. “But I would imagine Valentine, Blackwell, and the others had the place renovated to be a bit more to their taste. Look here. ” He scraped a boot along the floor. Clary glanced down and saw a rune carved into the granite beneath their feet: a circle, in the center of which was a Latin motto: In Hoc Signo Vinces.
“What does that mean?” she asked.
“It means ‘By this sign we will conquer. ’ It was the motto of the Circle. ”
She glanced up, toward the light. “So they’re here. ”
“They’re here,” said Luke, and there was anticipation in the narrow edge of his tone. “Come. ”
They went up the winding staircase, circling under the light until it was all around them and they were standing at the entrance to a long and narrow corridor. Torches blazed along the passage. Clary closed her hand over the witchlight, and it blinked out like a doused star.
There were doors set at intervals along the corridor, all of them closed tight. She wondered if they had been wards when this had once been a hospital, or perhaps private rooms. As they moved down the corridor, Clary saw the marks of boot-prints, muddy from the grass outside, crisscrossing the passage. Someone had walked here recently.
The first door they tried swung open easily, but the room beyond was empty: only polished wood floor and stone walls, lit to eeriness by the moonlight spilling through the window. The dim roar of the battle outside filled the room, as rhythmic as the sound of the ocean. The second room was full of weapons: swords, maces, and axes. Moonlight ran like silver water over row upon row of cold unsheathed steel. Luke whistled under his breath. “Quite a collection. ”
“You think Valentine uses all these?”
“Unlikely. I suspect they’re for his army. ” Luke turned away.
The third room was a bedroom. The hangings around the four-poster bed were blue, the Persian carpet patterned in blue, black, and gray, and the furniture was painted white, like the furnishings in a child’s room. A thin and ghostly layer of dust covered it all, glinting faintly in the moonlight.
In the bed lay Jocelyn, asleep.
She was on her back, one hand thrown carelessly across her chest, her hair spread across the pillow. She wore a sort of white nightdress Clary had never seen, and she was breathing regularly and quietly. In the piercing moonlight Clary could see the flutter of her mother’s eyelids as she dreamed.
With a little scream Clary hurled herself forward—but Luke’s outflung arm caught her across the chest like a bar of iron, holding her back. “Wait,” he said, his own voice tense with effort. “We have to be careful. ”
Clary glared at him, but he was looking past her, his expression angry and pained. She followed the line of his gaze and saw what she had not wanted to see before. Silver manacles closed around Jocelyn’s wrists and feet, the ends of their chains sunk deep into the stone floor on either side of the bed. The table beside the bed was covered in a weird array of tubes and bottles, glass jars and long, wickedly tipped instruments glinting with surgical steel. A rubberized tube ran from one of the glass jars to a vein in Jocelyn’s left arm.
Clary jerked herself away from Luke’s restraining hand and lunged toward the bed, wrapping her arms around her mother’s unresponsive body. But it was like trying to hug a badly jointed doll. Jocelyn remained motionless and stiff, her slow breathing unaltered.
A week ago Clary would have cried as she had that first terrible night she had discovered her mother missing, cried and called out. But no tears came now, as she let her mother go and straightened up. There was no terror in her now, and no self-pity: only a bitter rage and a need to find the man who’d done this, the one responsible for all of it.
“Valentine,” she said.
“Of course. ” Luke was beside her, touching her mother’s face lightly, raising her eyelids. The eyes beneath were as blank as marbles. “She’s not drugged,” he said. “Some kind of spell, I expect. ”
Clary let her breath out in a tight half sob. “How do we get her out of here?”
“I can’t touch the manacles,” said Luke. “Silver. Do you have—”
“The weapons room,” Clary said, standing up. “I saw an ax there. Several. We could cut the chains—”
“Those chains are unbreakable. ” The voice that spoke from the door was low, gritty, and familiar. Clary spun and saw Blackwell. He was grinning now, wearing the same clotted-blood-colored robes as before, the hood pushed back, muddy boots visible under the hem. “Graymark,” he said. “What a nice surprise. ”
Luke stood up. “If you’re surprised, you’re an idiot,” he said. “I didn’t exactly arrive quietly. ”
Blackwell’s cheeks flushed a darker purple, but he didn’t move toward Luke. “Clan leader again, are you?” he said, and gave an unpleasant laugh. “Can’t break yourself of the habit of getting Downworlders to do your dirty work? Valentine’s troops are busy strewing pieces of them all over the lawn, and you’re up here safe with your girlfriends. ” He sneered in Clary’s direction. “That one looks a little young for you, Lucian. ”
Clary flushed angrily, her hands balling into fists, but Luke’s voice, when he replied, was polite. “I wouldn’t exactly call those troops, Blackwell,” he said. “They’re Forsaken. Tormented once-human beings. If I recall properly, the Clave looks pretty darkly on all that—torturing people, performing black magic. I can’t imagine they’ll be too pleased. ”
“Damn the Clave,” growled Blackwell. “We don’t need them and their half-breed-tolerating ways. Besides, the Forsaken won’t be Forsaken much longer. Once Valentine uses the Cup on them, they’ll be Shadowhunters as good as the rest of us—better than what the Clave is passing off as warriors these days. Downworlder-loving milksops. ” He bared his blunt teeth.
“If that is his plan for the Cup,” said Luke, “why hasn’t he done it already? What’s he waiting for?”
Blackwell’s eyebrows went up. “Didn’t you know? He’s got his—”
A silky laugh interrupted him. Pangborn had appeared at his elbow, all in black with a leather strap across his shoulder. “Enough, Blackwell,” he said. “You talk too much, as usual. ” He flashed his pointed teeth at Luke. “Interesting move, Graymark. I didn’t think you’d have the stomach for leading your newest clan on a suicide mission. ”
A muscle twitched in Luke’s cheek. “Jocelyn,” he said. “What has he done to her?”
Pangborn chuckled musically. “I thought you didn’t care. ”
“I don’t see what he wants with her now,” Luke went on, ignoring the jibe. “He’s got the Cup. She can’t be of further use. Valentine was never one for pointless murder. Murder with a point. Now, that might be a different story. ”
Pangborn shrugged indifferently. “It makes no difference to us what he does with her,” he said. “She was his wife. Perhaps he hates her. That’s a point. ”
“Let her go,” said Luke, “and we’ll leave with her, call the clan off. I’ll owe you one. ”
“No!” Clary’s furious outburst made Pangborn and Blackwell swing their stares to her. Both looked faintly incredulous, as if she were a talking cockroach. She turned to Luke. “There’s still Jace. He’s here somewhere. ”
Blackwell was chuckling. “Jace? Never heard of a Jace,” he said. “Now, I could ask Pangborn to let her out. But I’d rather not. She was always a bitch to me, Jocelyn was. Thought she was better than the rest of us, with her looks and her lineage. Just a pedigreed bitch, that’s all. She only married him so she could turn it around on us all—”
“Disappointed you didn’t get to marry him yourself, Blackwell?” was all Luke said in reply, though Clary could hear the cold rage in his voice.
Blackwell, his face purpling, took an angry step forward into the room.
And Luke, moving so swiftly that Clary almost did not see him do it, seized a scalpel from the bedside table and flung it. It flipped twice in the air and sank point-first into Blackwell’s throat, cutting off his growling retort. He gagged, eyes rolling up to the whites, and fell to his knees, hands at his throat. Scarlet liquid pulsed between his spread fingers. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but only a thin line of blood dribbled out. His hands slipped from his throat, and he crashed to the ground like a tree falling.
“Oh, dear,” said Pangborn, gazing at the fallen body of his comrade with fastidious distaste. “How unpleasant. ”
Blood from Blackwell’s cut throat was spreading across the floor in a viscous red pool. Luke, taking Clary’s shoulder, whispered something in her ear. It meant nothing. Clary was aware only of a numb buzzing in her head. She remembered another poem from English class, something about how after the first death you saw, no other deaths mattered. That poet hadn’t known what he was talking about.
Luke let her go. “The keys, Pangborn,” he said.
Pangborn nudged Blackwell with a foot, and glanced up. He looked irritable. “Or what? You’ll throw a syringe at me? There was only one blade on that table. No,” he added, reaching behind him and drawing from his shoulder a long and wicked-looking sword, “I’m afraid that if you want the keys, you’ll have to come and get them. Not because I care about Jocelyn Morgenstern one way or the other, you understand, but only because I, for one, have been looking forward to killing you … for years. ”
He drew the last word out, savoring it with a delicious exultation as he moved forward into the room. His blade flashed, a spear of lightning in the moonlight. Clary saw Luke thrust a hand out toward her—a strangely elongated hand, tipped with nails like tiny daggers—and she realized two things: that he was about to Change, and that what he had whispered in her ear was a single word.
She ran. She zigzagged around Pangborn, who barely glanced at her, skirted Blackwell’s body, and was out the door and in the corridor, heart pounding, before Luke’s transformation was complete. She didn’t glance back, but she heard a howl, long and piercing, the sound of metal on metal, and a shattering fall. Breaking glass, she thought. Perhaps they had knocked over the bedside table.
She dashed down the hall to the weapons room. Inside, she reached for a weathered steel-hafted ax. It stuck firmly to the wall, no matter how hard she yanked at it. She tried a sword, and then a featherstaff—even a small dagger—but not a single blade would come free in her hand. At last, nails torn and fingers bloodied with effort, she had to give up. There was magic in this room, and not runic magic either: something wild and strange, something dark.
She backed out of the room. There was nothing on this floor that could help her. She limped down the corridor—she was beginning to feel the ache of true exhaustion in her legs and arms—and found herself at the junction of the stairs. Up or down? Down, she recalled, had been lightless, empty. Of course, there was the witchlight in her pocket, but something in her quailed at the thought of entering those black spaces alone. Upstairs she saw the blaze of more lights, caught a flicker of something that might have been movement.
She went up. Her legs hurt, her feet hurt, everything hurt. Her cuts had been bandaged, but that didn’t stop them from stinging. Her face ached where Hugo had slashed her cheek, and her mouth tasted metallic and bitter.
She reached the last landing. It was curved gently like the bow of a ship, as silent here as it had been downstairs; no sound of the fighting outside reached her ears. Another long corridor stretched out in front of her, with the same multiple doors, but here some were open, spilling even more light out into the hallway. She went forward, and some instinct drew her to the last door on her left. Cautiously she glanced inside.
At first the room reminded her of one of the period reconstruction displays in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was as if she had stepped into the past—the paneled walls gleamed as if recently polished, as did the endlessly long dining table set with delicate china. An ornate gold-framed mirror adorned the far wall, between two oil portraits in heavy frames. Everything glittered under the torchlight: the plates on the table, heaped with food, the fluted glasses shaped like calla lilies, the linens so white they were blinding. At the end of the room were two wide windows, draped with swags of heavy velvet. Jace stood at one of the windows, so still that for a moment she imagined he was a statue, until she realized she could see the light shining on his hair. His left hand held the curtain aside, and in the dark window she saw the reflection of the dozens of candles inside the room, trapped in the glass like fireflies.
“Jace,” she said. She heard her own voice as if from a distance: astonishment, gratitude, longing so sharp it was painful. He turned, dropping the curtain, and she saw the wondering look on his face.
“Jace!” she said again, and ran toward him. He caught her as she flung herself at him. His arms wrapped tightly around her.
“Clary. ” His voice was almost unrecognizable. “Clary, what are you doing here?”
Her voice was muffled against his shirt. “I came for you. ”
“You shouldn’t have. ” His grip on her loosened suddenly; he stepped back, holding her a little away from him. “My God,” he said, touching her face. “You idiot, what a thing to do. ” His voice was angry, but the gaze that swept her face, the fingers that gently brushed her hair back, were tender. She had never seen him look like this; there was a sort of fragility about him, as if he might be not just touched but hurt, even. “Why don’t you ever think?” he whispered.
“I was thinking,” she said. “I was thinking about you. ”
He closed his eyes for a moment. “If anything had happened to you …” His hands traced the line of her arms gently, down to her wrists, as if to reassure himself that she was really there. “How did you find me?”
“Luke,” she replied. “I came with Luke. To rescue you. ”
Still holding her, he glanced from her face to the window, a slight frown curling the edge of his mouth. “So those are—you came with the wolf clan?” he asked, an odd tone in his voice.
“Luke’s,” she said. “He’s a werewolf, and—”
“I know. ” Jace cut her off. “I should have guessed—the manacles. ” He glanced toward the door. “Where is he?”
“Downstairs,” said Clary slowly. “He killed Blackwell. I came up to look for you—”
“He’s going to have to call them off,” said Jace.
She looked at him uncomprehendingly. “What?”
“Luke,” said Jace. “He’s going to have to call off his pack. There’s been a misunderstanding. ”
“What, you kidnapped yourself?” She’d meant to sound teasing, but her voice was too thin. “Come on, Jace. ”
She yanked at his wrist, but he resisted. He was looking at her intently, and she realized with a jolt what she had not noticed in her first rush of relief.
The last time she had seen him, he’d been cut and bruised, clothes stained with dirt and blood, his hair filthy with ichor and dust. Now he was dressed in a loose white shirt and dark pants, his scrubbed hair falling all around his face, pale gold and flyaway. He swept a few strands out of his eyes with a slim hand, and she saw that his heavy silver ring was back on his finger.
“Are those your clothes?” she asked, baffled. “And—you’re all bandaged up …” Her voice trailed off. “Valentine seems to be taking awfully good care of you. ”
He smiled at her with a weary affection. “If I told you the truth, you’d say I was crazy,” he said.
She felt her heart flutter hard against the inside of her chest, like a hummingbird’s rapid wing beat. “No, I wouldn’t. ”
“My father gave me these clothes,” he said.
The flutter became a rapid pounding. “Jace,” she said carefully, “your father is dead. ”
“No. ” He shook his head. She had the sense that he was holding back some enormous feeling, like horror or delight—or both. “I thought he was, but he isn’t. It’s all been a mistake. ”
She remembered what Hodge had said about Valentine and his ability to tell charming and convincing lies. “Is this something Valentine told you? Because he’s a liar, Jace. Remember what Hodge said. If he’s telling you your father is alive, it’s a lie to get you to do what he wants. ”
“I’ve seen my father,” said Jace. “I’ve talked to him. He gave me this. ” He tugged on the new, clean shirt, as if it were ineluctable proof. “My father isn’t dead. Valentine didn’t kill him. Hodge lied to me. All these years I thought he was dead, but he wasn’t. ”
Clary glanced around wildly, at the room with its shining china and guttering torches and empty, glaring mirrors. “Well, if your father’s really in this place, then where is he? Did Valentine kidnap him, too?”
Jace’s eyes were shining. The neck of his shirt was open and she could see the thin white scars that covered his collarbone, like cracks in the smooth golden skin. “My father—”
The door of the room, which Clary had shut behind her, opened with a creak, and a man walked into the room.
It was Valentine. His silvery close-cropped hair gleamed like a polished steel helmet and his mouth was hard. He wore a waist sheath on his thick belt and the hilt of a long sword protruded from the top of it. “So,” he said, resting a hand on the hilt as he spoke, “have you gathered your things? Our Forsaken can hold off the wolf-men for only so—”
Seeing Clary, he broke off midsentence. He was not the sort of man who was ever really caught off guard, but she saw the flicker of astonishment in his eyes. “What is this?” he asked, turning his glance to Jace.
But Clary was already fumbling at her waist for the dagger. She seized it by the hilt, jerking it out of its scabbard, and drew her hand back. Rage pounded behind her eyes like a drumbeat. She could kill this man. She would kill him.
Jace caught at her wrist. “No. ”
She could not contain her disbelief. “But, Jace—”
“Clary,” he said firmly. “This is my father.”