City of Bones – Chapter 8: WEAPON OF CHOICE

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SHE WAS TOO SURPRISED TO SCREAM. THE SENSATION OF falling was the worst part; her heart flew up into her throat and her stomach turned to water. She flung her hands out, trying to catch at something, anything, that might slow her descent.

Her hands closed on branches. Leaves tore off in her grip. She thumped to the ground, hard, her hip and shoulder striking packed earth. She rolled over, sucking the air back into her lungs. She was just beginning to sit up when someone landed on top of her.

She was knocked backward. A forehead banged against hers, her knees banging against someone else’s. Tangled up in arms and legs, Clary coughed hair—not her own—out of her mouth and tried to struggle out from under the weight that felt like it was crushing her flat.

“Ouch,” Jace said in her ear, his tone indignant. “You elbowed me. ”

“Well, you landed on me. ”

He levered himself up on his arms and looked down at her placidly. Clary could see blue sky above his head, a bit of tree branch, and the corner of a gray clapboard house. “Well, you didn’t leave me much choice, did you?” he asked. “Not after you decided to leap merrily through that Portal like you were jumping the F train. You’re just lucky it didn’t dump us out in the East River. ”

“You didn’t have to come after me. ”

“Yes, I did,” he said. “You’re far too inexperienced to protect yourself in a hostile situation without me. ”

“That’s sweet. Maybe I’ll forgive you. ”

“Forgive me? For what?”

“For telling me to shut up. ”

His eyes narrowed. “I did not … Well, I did, but you were—”

“Never mind. ” Her arm, pinned under her back, was beginning to cramp. Rolling to the side to free it, she saw the brown grass of a dead lawn, a chain-link fence, and more of the gray clapboard house, now distressingly familiar.

She froze. “I know where we are. ”

Jace stopped spluttering. “What?”

“This is Luke’s house. ” She sat up, pitching Jace to the side. He rolled gracefully to his feet and held out a hand to help her up. She ignored him and scrambled upright, shaking out her numb arm.

They stood in front of a small gray row house, nestled among the other row houses that lined the Williamsburg waterfront. A breeze blew off the East River, setting a small sign swinging over the brick front steps. Clary watched Jace as he read the block-lettered words aloud: “GARROWAY BOOKS. FINE USED, NEW, AND OUT OF PRINT. CLOSED SATURDAYS. ” He glanced at the dark front door, its knob wound with a heavy padlock. A few days’ worth of mail lay on the doormat, untouched. He glanced at Clary. “He lives in a bookstore?”

“He lives behind the store. ” Clary glanced up and down the empty street, which was bordered on one end by the arched span of the Williamsburg Bridge, and by a deserted sugar factory on the other. Across the sluggishly moving river the sun was setting behind the skyscrapers of lower Manhattan, outlining them in gold. “Jace, how did we get here?”

“Through the Portal,” Jace said, examining the padlock. “It takes you to whatever place you’re thinking of. ”

“But I wasn’t thinking of here,” Clary objected. “I wasn’t thinking of anywhere. ”

“You must have been. ” He dropped the subject, seeming uninterested. “So, since we’re here anyway …”


“What do you want to do?”

“Leave, I guess,” Clary said bitterly. “Luke told me not to come here. ”

Jace shook his head. “And you just accept that?”

Clary hugged her arms around herself. Despite the fading heat of the day, she felt cold. “Do I have a choice?”

“We always have choices,” Jace said. “If I were you, I’d be pretty curious about Luke right now. Do you have keys to the house?”

Clary shook her head. “No, but sometimes he leaves the back door unlocked. ” She pointed to the narrow alley between Luke’s row house and the next. Plastic trash cans were propped in a neat row beside stacks of folded newspapers and a plastic tub of empty soda bottles. At least Luke was still a responsible recycler.

“You sure he isn’t home?” Jace asked.

She glanced at the empty curb. “Well, his truck’s gone, the store’s closed, and all the lights are off. I’d say probably not. ”

“Then lead the way. ”

The narrow aisle between the row houses ended in a high chain-link fence. It surrounded Luke’s small back garden, where the only plants flourishing seemed to be the weeds that had sprung up through the paving stones, cracking them into powdery shards.

“Up and over,” Jace said, jamming the toe of a boot into a gap in the fence. He began to climb. The fence rattled so loudly that Clary glanced around nervously, but there were no lights on in the neighbors’ house. Jace cleared the top of the fence and sprang down the other side, landing in the bushes to the accompaniment of an earsplitting yowl.

For a moment Clary thought he must have landed on a stray cat. She heard Jace shout in surprise as he fell backward. A dark shadow—much too big to be feline—exploded out of the shrubbery and streaked across the yard, keeping low. Rolling to his feet, Jace darted after it, looking murderous.

Clary started to climb. As she threw her leg over the top of the fence, Isabelle’s jeans caught on a twist of wire and tore up the side. She dropped to the ground, shoes scuffing the soft dirt, just as Jace cried out in triumph. “Got him!” Clary turned to see Jace sitting on top of the prone intruder, whose arms were up over his head. Jace grabbed for his wrist. “Come on, let’s see your face—”

“Get the hell off me, you pretentious asshole,” the intruder snarled, shoving at Jace. He struggled halfway into a sitting position, his battered glasses knocked askew.

Clary stopped dead in her tracks. “Simon?”

“Oh, God,” said Jace, sounding resigned. “And here I’d actually hoped I’d got hold of something interesting. ”

“But what were you doing hiding in Luke’s bushes?” Clary asked, brushing leaves out of Simon’s hair. He suffered her ministrations with glaring bad grace. Somehow when she’d pictured her reunion with Simon, when all this was over, he’d been in a better mood. “That’s the part I don’t get. ”

“All right, that’s enough. I can fix my own hair, Fray,” Simon said, jerking away from her touch. They were sitting on the steps of Luke’s back porch. Jace had propped himself on the porch railing and was assiduously pretending to ignore them, while using the stele to file the edges of his fingernails. Clary wondered if the Clave would approve.

“I mean, did Luke know you were there?” she asked.

“Of course he didn’t know I was there,” Simon said irritably. “I’ve never asked him, but I’m sure he has a fairly stringent policy about random teenagers lurking in his shrubbery. ”

“You’re not random; he knows you. ” She wanted to reach out and touch his cheek, still bleeding slightly where a branch had scratched it. “The main thing is that you’re all right. ”

“That I’m all right?” Simon laughed, a sharp, unhappy sound. “Clary, do you have any idea what I’ve been through this past couple of days? The last time I saw you, you were running out of Java Jones like a bat out of hell, and then you just … disappeared. You never picked up your cell—then your home phone was disconnected—then Luke told me you were off staying with some relatives upstate when I know you don’t have any other relatives. I thought I’d done something to piss you off. ”

“What could you possibly have done?” Clary reached for his hand, but he pulled it back without looking at her.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Something. ”

Jace, still occupied with the stele, chuckled low under his breath.

“You’re my best friend,” Clary said. “I wasn’t mad at you.”

“Yeah, well, you clearly also couldn’t be bothered to call me and tell me you were shacking up with some dyed-blond wannabe goth you probably met at Pandemonium,” Simon pointed out sourly. “After I spent the past three days wondering if you were dead. ”

“I was not shacking up,” Clary said, glad of the darkness as the blood rushed to her face.

“And my hair is naturally blond,” said Jace. “Just for the record. ”

“So what have you been doing these past three days, then?” Simon said, his eyes dark with suspicion. “Do you really have a great-aunt Matilda who contracted avian flu and needed to be nursed back to health?”

“Did Luke actually say that?”

“No. He just said you had gone to visit a sick relative, and that your phone probably just didn’t work out in the country. Not that I believed him. After he shooed me off his front porch, I went around the side of the house and looked in the back window. Watched him packing up a green duffel bag like he was going away for the weekend. That was when I decided to stick around and keep an eye on things. ”

“Why? Because he was packing a bag?”

“He was packing it full of weapons,” Simon said, scrubbing at the blood on his cheek with the sleeve of his T-shirt. “Knives, a couple daggers, even a sword. Funny thing is, some of the weapons looked like they were glowing. ” He looked from Clary to Jace, and back again. His tone was edged as sharply as one of Luke’s knives. “Now, are you going to say I was imagining it?”

“No,” Clary said. “I’m not going to say that. ” She glanced at Jace. The last light of sunset struck gold sparks from his eyes. She said, “I’m going to tell him the truth. ”

“I know. ”

“Are you going to try to stop me?”

He looked down at the stele in his hand. “My oath to the Covenant binds me,” he said. “No such oath binds you. ”

She turned back to Simon, taking a deep breath. “All right,” she said. “Here’s what you have to know. ”

The sun had slipped entirely past the horizon, and the porch was in darkness by the time Clary stopped speaking. Simon had listened to her lengthy explanation with a nearly impassive expression, only wincing a little when she got to the part about the Ravener demon. When she was done speaking, she cleared her dry throat, suddenly dying for a glass of water. “So,” she said, “any questions?”

Simon held up his hand. “Oh, I’ve got questions. Several. ”

Clary exhaled warily. “Okay, shoot. ”

He pointed at Jace. “Now, he’s a—what do you call people like him again?”

“He’s a Shadowhunter,” Clary said.

“A demon hunter,” Jace clarified. “I kill demons. It’s not that complicated, really. ”

Simon looked at Clary again. “For real?” His eyes were narrowed, as if he half-expected her to tell him that none of it was true and Jace was actually a dangerous escaped lunatic she’d decided to befriend on humanitarian grounds.

“For real. ”

There was an intent look on Simon’s face. “And there are vampires, too? Werewolves, warlocks, all that stuff?”

Clary gnawed her lower lip. “So I hear. ”

“And you kill them, too?” Simon asked, directing the question to Jace, who had put the stele back in his pocket and was examining his flawless nails for defects.

“Only when they’ve been naughty. ”

For a moment Simon merely sat and stared down at his feet. Clary wondered if burdening him with this kind of information had been the wrong thing to do. He had a stronger practical streak than almost anyone else she knew; he might hate knowing something like this, something for which there was no logical explanation. She leaned forward anxiously, just as Simon lifted his head. “That is so awesome,” he said.

Jace looked as startled as Clary felt. “Awesome?”

Simon nodded enthusiastically enough to make the dark curls bounce on his forehead. “Totally. It’s like Dungeons and Dragons, but real. ”

Jace was looking at Simon as if he were some bizarre species of insect. “It’s like what?”

“It’s a game,” Clary explained. She felt vaguely embarrassed. “People pretend to be wizards and elves, and they kill monsters and stuff. ”

Jace looked stupefied.

Simon grinned. “You’ve never heard of Dungeons and Dragons?”

“I’ve heard of dungeons,” Jace said. “Also dragons. Although they’re mostly extinct. ”

Simon looked disappointed. “You’ve never killed a dragon?”

“He’s probably never met a six-foot-tall hot elf-woman in a fur bikini, either,” Clary said irritably. “Lay off, Simon. ”

“Real elves are about eight inches tall,” Jace pointed out. “Also, they bite. ”

“But vampires are hot, right?” Simon said. “I mean, some of the vampires are babes, aren’t they?”

Clary worried for a moment that Jace might lunge across the porch and throttle Simon senseless. Instead, he considered the question. “Some of them, maybe. ”

“Awesome,” Simon repeated. Clary decided she had preferred it when they were fighting.

Jace slid off the porch railing. “So are we going to search the house, or not?”

Simon scrambled to his feet. “I’m game. What are we looking for?”

“We?” said Jace, with a sinister delicacy. “I don’t remember inviting you along. ”

“Jace,” Clary said angrily.

The left corner of his mouth curled up. “Just joking. ” He stepped aside to leave her a clear path to the door. “Shall we?”

Clary fumbled for the doorknob in the dark. It opened, triggering the porch light, which illuminated the entryway. The door that led into the bookstore was closed; Clary jiggled the knob. “It’s locked. ”

“Allow me, mundanes,” said Jace, setting her gently aside. He took his stele out of his pocket and put it to the door. Simon watched him with some resentment. No amount of vampire babes, Clary suspected, was ever going to make him like Jace.

“He’s a piece of work, isn’t he?” Simon muttered. “How do you stand him?”

“He saved my life. ”

Simon glanced at her quickly. “How—”

With a click the door swung open. “Here we go,” said Jace, sliding his stele back into his pocket. Clary saw the Mark on the door—just over his head—fade as they passed through it. The back door opened onto a small storage room, the bare walls peeling paint. Cardboard boxes were stacked everywhere, their contents identified with marker scrawls: FICTION, POETRY, COOKING, LOCAL INTEREST, ROMANCE.

“The apartment’s through there. ” Clary headed toward the door she’d indicated, at the far end of the room.

Jace caught her arm. “Wait. ”

She looked at him nervously. “Is something wrong?”

“I don’t know. ” He edged between two narrow stacks of boxes, and whistled. “Clary, you might want to come over here and see this. ”

She glanced around. It was dim in the storage room, the only illumination the porch light shining through the window. “It’s so dark—”

Light flared up, bathing the room in a brilliant glow. Simon turned his head aside, blinking. “Ouch. ”

Jace chuckled. He was standing on top of a sealed box, his hand raised. Something glowed in his palm, the light escaping through his cupped fingers. “Witchlight,” he said.

Simon muttered something under his breath. Clary was already clambering through the boxes, pushing a way to Jace. He was standing behind a teetering pile of mysteries, the witchlight casting an eerie glow over his face. “Look at that,” he said, indicating a space higher up on the wall.

At first she thought he was pointing at what looked like a pair of ornamental sconces. As her eyes adjusted, she realized they were actually loops of metal attached to short chains, the ends of which were sunk into the wall. “Are those—”

“Manacles,” said Simon, picking his way through the boxes. “That’s, ah …”

“Don’t say ‘kinky. ’” Clary shot him a warning look. “This is Luke we’re talking about. ”

Jace reached up to run his hand along the inside of one of the metal loops. When he lowered it, his fingers were dusted with red-brown powder. “Blood. And look. ” He pointed to the wall right around where the chains were sunk in; the plaster seemed to bulge outward. “Someone tried to yank these things out of the wall. Tried pretty hard, from the looks of it. ”

Clary’s heart had begun to beat hard inside her chest. “Do you think Luke is all right?”

Jace lowered the witchlight. “I think we’d better find out. ”

The door to the apartment was unlocked. It led into Luke’s living room. Despite the hundreds of books in the store itself, there were hundreds more in the apartment. Bookshelves rose to the ceiling, the volumes on them “double-parked,” one row blocking another. Most were poetry and fiction, with plenty of fantasy and mystery thrown in. Clary remembered plowing through the entirety of The Chronicles of Prydain here, curled up in Luke’s window seat as the sun went down over the East River.

“I think he’s still around,” called Simon, standing in the doorway of Luke’s small kitchenette. “The percolator’s on and there’s coffee here. Still hot. ”

Clary peered around the kitchen door. Dishes were stacked in the sink. Luke’s jackets were hung neatly on hooks inside the coat closet. She walked down the hallway and opened the door of his small bedroom. It looked the same as ever, the bed with its gray coverlet and flat pillows unmade, the top of the bureau covered in loose change. She turned away. Some part of her had been absolutely certain that when they walked in they’d find the place torn to pieces, and Luke tied up, injured or worse. Now she didn’t know what to think.

Numbly she crossed the hall to the little guest bedroom where she’d so often stayed when her mother was out of town on business. They’d stay up late watching old horror movies on the flickering black-and-white TV. She even kept a backpack full of extra things here so she didn’t have to lug her stuff back and forth from home.

Kneeling down, she tugged it out from under the bed by its olive-green strap. It was covered with buttons, most of which Simon had given her. GAMERS DO IT BETTER. OTAKU WENCH. STILL NOT KING. Inside were some folded clothes, a few spare pairs of underwear, a hairbrush, even shampoo. Thank God, she thought, and kicked the bedroom door closed. Quickly she changed, stripping off Isabelle’s too-big—and now grass-stained and sweaty—clothes, and pulling on a pair of her own sandblasted cords, soft as worn paper, and a blue tank top with a design of Chinese characters across the front. She tossed Isabelle’s clothes into her backpack, yanked the cord shut, and left the bedroom, the pack bouncing familiarly between her shoulder blades. It was nice to have something of her own again.

She found Jace in Luke’s book-lined office, examining a green duffel bag that lay unzipped across the desk. It was, as Simon had said, full of weapons—sheathed knives, a coiled whip, and something that looked like a razor-edged metal disk.

“It’s a chakram,” said Jace, looking up as Clary came into the room. “A Sikh weapon. You whirl it around your index finger before releasing it. They’re rare and hard to use. Strange that Luke would have one. They used to be Hodge’s weapon of choice, back in the day. Or so he tells me. ”

“Luke collects stuff. Art objects. You know,” Clary said, indicating the shelf behind the desk, which was lined with bronze Indian and Russian idols. Her favorite was a statuette of the Indian goddess of destruction, Kali, brandishing a sword and a severed head as she danced with her head thrown back and her eyes slitted closed. To the side of the desk was an antique Chinese screen, carved out of glowing rosewood. “Pretty things. ”

Jace moved the chakram aside gingerly. A handful of clothes spilled out of the untied end of Luke’s duffel bag, as if they had been an afterthought. “I think this is yours, by the way. ”

He drew out a rectangular object hidden among the clothes: a wooden-framed photograph with a long vertical crack along the glass. The crack threw a network of spidery lines across the smiling faces of Clary, Luke, and her mother. “That is mine,” Clary said, taking it out of his hand.

“It’s cracked,” Jace observed.

“I know. I did that—I smashed it. When I threw it at the Ravener demon. ” She looked at him, seeing the dawning realization on his face. “That means Luke’s been back to the apartment since the attack. Maybe even today—”

“He must have been the last person to come through the Portal,” said Jace. “That’s why it took us here. You weren’t thinking of anything, so it sent us to the last place it had been. ”

“Nice of Dorothea to tell us he was there,” said Clary.

“He probably paid her off to be quiet. Either that or she trusts him more than she trusts us. Which means he might not be—”

“Guys!” It was Simon, dashing into the office in a panic. “Someone’s coming. ”

Clary dropped the photo. “Is it Luke?”

Simon peered back down the hall, then nodded. “It is. But he’s not by himself—there are two men with him. ”

“Men?” Jace crossed the room in a few strides, peered through the door, and spat a curse under his breath. “Warlocks. ”

Clary stared. “Warlocks? But—”

Shaking his head, Jace backed away from the door. “Is there some other way out of here? A back door?”

Clary shook her head. The sound of footsteps in the hallway was audible now, striking pangs of fear into her chest.

Jace looked around desperately. His eyes came to rest on the rosewood screen. “Get behind that,” he said, pointing. “Now. ”

Clary dropped the fractured photo on the desk and slipped behind the screen, pulling Simon after her. Jace was right behind them, his stele in his hand. He had barely concealed himself when Clary heard the door swing wide open, the sound of people walking into Luke’s office—then voices. Three men speaking. She looked nervously at Simon, who was very pale, and then at Jace, who had raised the stele in his hand and was moving the tip lightly, in a sort of square shape, across the back of the screen. As Clary stared, the square went clear, like a pane of glass. She heard Simon suck in his breath—a tiny sound, barely audible—and Jace shook his head at them both, mouthing words: They can’t see us through it, but we can see them.

Biting her lip, Clary moved to the edge of the square and peered through it, conscious of Simon breathing down her neck. She could see the room beyond perfectly: the bookshelves, the desk with the duffel bag thrown across it—and Luke, ragged-looking and slightly stooped, his glasses pushed up to the top of his head, standing near the door. It was frightening even though she knew he couldn’t see her, that the window Jace had made was like the glass in a police station interrogation room: strictly one-way.

Luke turned, looking back through the doorway. “Yes, feel free to look around,” he said, his tone heavily weighted with sarcasm. “Nice of you to show such an interest. ”

A low chuckle sounded from the corner of the office. With an impatient flick of the wrist, Jace tapped the frame of his “window,” and it opened out wider, showing more of the room. There were two men there with Luke, both in long reddish robes, their hoods pushed back. One was thin, with an elegant gray mustache and pointed beard. When he smiled, he showed blindingly white teeth. The other was burly, thickset as a wrestler, with close-cropped reddish hair. His skin was dark purple and looked shiny over the cheekbones, as if it had been stretched too tight.

“Those are warlocks?” Clary whispered softly.

Jace didn’t answer. He had gone rigid all over, stiff as a bar of iron. He’s afraid I’ll make a run for it, try to get to Luke, Clary thought. She wished she could reassure him that she wouldn’t. There was something about those two men, in their thick cloaks the color of arterial blood, that was terrifying.

“Consider this a friendly follow-up, Graymark,” said the man with the gray mustache. His smile showed teeth so sharp they looked as if they’d been filed to cannibal points.

“There’s nothing friendly about you, Pangborn. ” Luke sat down on the edge of his desk, angling his body so it blocked the men’s view of his duffel bag and its contents. Now that he was closer, Clary could see that his face and hands were badly bruised, his fingers scraped and bloody. A long cut along his neck disappeared down into his collar. What on earth happened to him?

“Blackwell, don’t touch that—it’s valuable,” Luke said sternly.

The big redheaded man, who had picked up the statue of Kali from the top of the bookcase, ran his beefy fingers over it consideringly. “Nice,” he said.

“Ah,” said Pangborn, taking the statue from his companion. “She who was created to battle a demon who could not be killed by any god or man. ‘Oh, Kali, my mother full of bliss! Enchantress of the almighty Shiva, in thy delirious joy thou dancest, clapping thy hands together. Thou art the Mover of all that moves, and we are but thy helpless toys. ’”

“Very nice,” said Luke. “I didn’t know you were a student of the Indian myths. ”

“All the myths are true,” said Pangborn, and Clary felt a small shiver go up her spine. “Or have you forgotten even that?”

“I forget nothing,” said Luke. Though he looked relaxed, Clary could see tension in the lines of his shoulders and mouth. “I suppose Valentine sent you?”

“He did,” said Pangborn. “He thought you might have changed your mind. ”

“There’s nothing to change my mind about. I already told you I don’t know anything. Nice cloaks, by the way. ”

“Thanks,” said Blackwell with a sly grin. “Skinned them off a couple of dead warlocks. ”

“Those are official Accord robes, aren’t they?” Luke asked. “Are they from the Uprising?”

Pangborn chuckled softly. “Spoils of battle. ”

“Aren’t you afraid someone might mistake you for the real thing?”

“Not,” said Blackwell, “once they got up close. ”

Pangborn fondled the edge of his robe. “Do you remember the Uprising, Lucian?” he said softly. “That was a great and terrible day. Do you remember how we trained together for the battle?”

Luke’s face twisted. “The past is the past. I don’t know what to tell you gentlemen. I can’t help you now. I don’t know anything. ”

“‘Anything’ is such a general word, so unspecific,” said Pangborn, sounding melancholy. “Surely someone who owns so many books must know something. ”

“If you want to know where to find a jog-toed swallow in springtime, I could direct you to the correct reference title. But if you want to know where the Mortal Cup has disappeared to …”

“‘Disappeared’ might not be quite the correct word,” purred Pangborn. “Hidden, more like. Hidden by Jocelyn. ”

“That may be,” said Luke. “So hasn’t she told you where it is yet?”

“She has not yet regained consciousness,” said Pangborn, carving the air with a long-fingered hand. “Valentine is disappointed. He was looking forward to their reunion. ”

“I’m sure she didn’t reciprocate the sentiment,” muttered Luke.

Pangborn cackled. “Jealous, Graymark? Perhaps you no longer feel about her the way you used to. ”

A trembling had started in Clary’s fingers, so pronounced that she knitted her hands together tightly to try to stop them from shaking. Jocelyn? Can they be talking about my mother?

“I never felt any way about her, particularly,” said Luke. “Two Shadowhunters, exiled from their own kind, you can see why we might have banded together. But I’m not going to try to interfere with Valentine’s plans for her, if that’s what he’s worried about. ”

“I wouldn’t say he was worried,” said Pangborn. “More curious. We all wondered if you were still alive. Still recognizably human. ”

Luke arched his eyebrows. “And?”

“You seem well enough,” said Pangborn grudgingly. He set the Kali statuette down on the shelf. “There was a child, wasn’t there? A girl. ”

Luke looked taken aback. “What?”

“Don’t play dumb,” said Blackwell in his snarl of a voice. “We know the bitch had a daughter. They found photos of her in the apartment, a bedroom—”

“I thought you were asking about children of mine,” Luke interrupted smoothly. “Yes, Jocelyn had a daughter. Clarissa. I assume she’s run off. Did Valentine send you to find her?”

“Not us,” said Pangborn. “But he is looking. ”

“We could search this place,” added Blackwell.

“I wouldn’t advise it,” said Luke, and slid off the desk. There was a certain cold menace to his look as he stared down at the two men, though his expression hadn’t changed. “What makes you think she’s still alive? I thought Valentine sent Raveners to scour the place. Enough Ravener poison, and most people will crumble away to ashes, leave no trace behind. ”

“There was a dead Ravener,” said Pangborn. “It made Valentine suspicious. ”

“Everything makes Valentine suspicious,” said Luke. “Maybe Jocelyn killed it. She was certainly capable. ”

Blackwell grunted. “Maybe. ”

Luke shrugged. “Look, I’ve got no idea where the girl is, but for what it’s worth, I’d guess she’s dead. She’d have turned up by now otherwise. Anyway, she’s not much of a danger. She’s fifteen years old, she’s never heard of Valentine, and she doesn’t believe in demons. ”

Pangborn chuckled. “A fortunate child. ”

“Not anymore,” said Luke.

Blackwell raised his eyebrows. “You sound angry, Lucian. ”

“I’m not angry, I’m exasperated. I’m not planning on interfering with Valentine’s plans, do you understand that? I’m not a fool. ”

“Really?” said Blackwell. “It’s nice to see that you’ve developed a healthy respect for your own skin over the years, Lucian. You weren’t always so pragmatic. ”

“You do know,” said Pangborn, his tone conversational, “that we’d trade her, Jocelyn, for the Cup? Safely delivered, right to your door. That’s a promise from Valentine himself. ”

“I know,” said Luke. “I’m not interested. I don’t know where your precious Cup is, and I don’t want to get involved in your politics. I hate Valentine,” he added, “but I respect him. I know he’ll mow down everyone in his path. I intend to be out of his way when it happens. He’s a monster—a killing machine. ”

“Look who’s talking,” snarled Blackwell.

“I take it these are your preparations for removing yourself from Valentine’s path?” said Pangborn, pointing a long finger at the half-concealed duffel bag on the desk. “Getting out of town, Lucian?”

Luke nodded slowly. “Going to the country. I plan to lie low for a while. ”

“We could stop you,” said Blackwell. “Make you stay. ”

Luke smiled. It transformed his face. Suddenly he was no longer the kind, scholarly man who’d pushed Clary on the swings at the park and taught her how to ride a tricycle. Suddenly there was something feral behind his eyes, something vicious and cold. “You could try. ”

Pangborn glanced at Blackwell, who shook his head once, slowly. Pangborn turned back to Luke. “You’ll notify us if you experience any sudden memory resurgence?”

Luke was still smiling. “You’ll be first on my list to call. ”

Pangborn nodded shortly. “I suppose we’ll take our leave. The Angel guard you, Lucian. ”

“The Angel does not guard those like me,” said Luke. He picked the duffel bag up off the desk and knotted the top. “On your way, gentlemen?”

Lifting their hoods to cover their faces again, the two men left the room, followed a moment later by Luke. He paused at the door, glancing around as if he wondered if he’d forgotten something. Then he shut it carefully behind him.

Clary stayed where she was, frozen, hearing the front door swing shut and the distant jingle of chain and keys as Luke refastened the padlock. She kept seeing the look on Luke’s face, over and over, as he said he wasn’t interested in what happened to her mother.

She felt a hand on her shoulder. “Clary?” It was Simon, his voice hesitant, almost gentle. “Are you okay?”

She shook her head, mutely. She felt far from okay. In fact, she felt like she’d never be okay again.

“Of course she isn’t. ” It was Jace, his voice sharp and cold as ice shards. He took hold of the screen and moved it aside sharply. “At least now we know who would send a demon after your mother. Those men think she has the Mortal Cup. ”

Clary felt her lips thin into a straight line. “That’s totally ridiculous and impossible. ”

“Maybe,” said Jace, leaning against Luke’s desk. He fixed her with eyes as opaque as smoked glass. “Have you ever seen those men before?”

“No. ” She shook her head. “Never. ”

“Lucian seemed to know them. To be friendly with them. ”

“I wouldn’t say friendly,” said Simon. “I’d say they were suppressing their hostility. ”

“They didn’t kill him outright,” said Jace. “They think he knows more than he’s telling. ”

“Maybe,” said Clary, “or maybe they’re just reluctant to kill another Shadowhunter. ”

Jace laughed, a harsh, almost vicious noise that raised the hairs up on Clary’s arms. “I doubt that. ”

She looked at him hard. “What makes you so sure? Do you know them?”

The laughter had gone from his voice entirely when he replied. “Do I know them?” he echoed. “You might say that. Those are the men who murdered my father.”

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