City of Fallen Angels – Chapter 10: 232 RIVERSIDE DRIVE

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Part Two: For Every Life

Nothing is free. Everything has to be paid for. For every profit in one thing, payment in some other thing. For every life, a death. Even your music, of which we have heard so much, that had to be paid for. Your wife was the payment for your music. Hell is now satisfied.

-Ted Hughes, “The Tigers Bones”

Chapter 10: 232 RIVERSIDE DRIVE

Simon sat in the armchair in Kyles living room and stared at the frozen image on the TV screen in the corner of the room. It had been paused on the game Kyle had been playing with Jace, and the image was one of a dank-looking underground tunnel with a heap of collapsed bodies on the ground and some very realistic-looking pools of blood. It was disturbing, but Simon didnt have either the energy or the inclination to bother to turn it off. The images that had been running through his head all night were worse.

The light streaming into the room through the windows had strengthened from watery dawn light to the pale illumination of early morning, but Simon barely noticed. He kept seeing Maureens limp body on the ground, her blond hair stained with blood. His own staggering progress out into the night, her blood singing through his veins. And then Maia lunging at Kyle, tearing into him with her claws. Kyle had lain there, not lifting a hand to defend himself. He probably would have let her kill him if Isabelle hadnt interfered, pulling Maia bodily off him and rolling her onto the pavement, holding her there until her rage dissolved into tears. Simon had tried to go to her, but Isabelle had held him off with a furious glare, her arm around the other girl, her hand up to ward him off.

“Get out of here,” shed said. “And take him with you. I dont know what he did to her, but it must have been pretty bad. ”

And it was. Simon knew that name, Jordan. It had come up before, when hed asked her how shed been turned into a werewolf. Her ex-boyfriend had done it, shed said. Hed done it with a savage and vicious attack, and hed run off afterward, leaving her to deal with the aftermath alone.

His name had been Jordan.

That was why Kyle had only one name next to his door buzzer. Because it was his last name. His full name must have been Jordan Kyle, Simon realized. Hed been stupid, unbelievably stupid, not to have figured it out before. Not that he needed another reason to hate himself right now.

Kyle-or rather, Jordan-was a werewolf; he healed fast. By the time Simon had hauled him, none too gently, to his feet and had led him back over to his car, the deep slashes in his throat and under the torn rags of his shirt had healed to crusted-over scars. Simon had taken his keys from him and driven them back to Manhattan mostly in silence, Jordan sitting almost motionless in the passenger seat, staring down at his bloody hands.

“Maureens fine,” hed said finally as they drove over the Williamsburg Bridge. “It looked worse than it was. Youre not that good at feeding off humans yet, so she hadnt lost too much blood. I put her in a cab. She doesnt remember anything. She thinks she fainted in front of you, and shes really embarrassed. ”

Simon knew he ought to thank Jordan, but he couldnt bring himself to do it. “Youre Jordan,” he said. “Maias old boyfriend. The one who turned her into a werewolf. ”

They were on Kenmare now; Simon turned north, heading up the Bowery with its flophouses and lighting stores. “Yeah,” Jordan said at last. “Kyles my last name. I started to go by it when I joined the Praetor. ”

“She wouldve killed you if Isabelle had let her. ”

“She has a perfect right to kill me if she wants to,” said Jordan, and fell silent. He didnt say anything else as Simon found parking and they trudged up the stairs to the apartment. Hed gone into his room without even taking off his bloody jacket, and slammed the door.

Simon had packed his things into his backpack and had been about to leave the apartment when hed hesitated. He wasnt sure why, even now, but instead of leaving hed dropped his bag by the door and come back to sit in this chair, where hed stayed all night.

He wished he could call Clary, but it was too early in the morning, and besides, Isabelle had said she and Jace had gone off together, and the thought of interrupting some special moment of theirs wasnt appealing. He wondered how his mother was. If she could have seen him last night, with Maureen, she would have thought he was every bit the monster shed accused him of being.

Maybe he was.

He looked up as Jordans door cracked open and Jordan emerged. He was barefoot, still in the same jeans and shirt hed been wearing yesterday. The scars on his throat had faded to red lines. He looked at Simon. His hazel eyes, normally so bright and cheerful, were darkly shadowed. “I thought you would leave,” he said.

“I was going to,” Simon said. “But then I figured I ought to give you a chance to explain. ”

“Theres nothing to explain. ” Jordan shuffled into the kitchen and dug around in a drawer until he produced a coffee filter. “Whatever Maia said about me, Im sure it was true. ”

“She said you hit her,” Simon said.

Jordan, in the kitchen, went very still. He looked down at the filter as if he were no longer quite sure what it was for.

“She said you guys went out for months and everything was great,” Simon went on. “Then you turned violent and jealous. When she called you on it, you hit her. She broke up with you, and when she was walking home one night, something attacked her and nearly killed her. And you-you took off out of town. No apology, no explanation. ”

Jordan set the filter down on the counter. “How did she get here? How did she find Luke Garroways pack?”

Simon shook his head. “She hopped a train to New York and tracked them down. Shes a survivor, Maia. She didnt let what you did to her wreck her. A lot of people would have. ”

“Is this why you stayed?” asked Jordan. “To tell me Im a bastard? Because I already know that. ”

“I stayed,” Simon said, “because of what I did last night. If Id found out about you yesterday, I would have left. But after what I did to Maureen. . . ” He chewed his lip. “I thought I had control over what happened to me and I didnt, and I hurt someone who didnt deserve it. So thats why Im staying. ”

“Because if Im not a monster, then youre not a monster. ”

“Because I want to know how to go on, now, and maybe you can tell me. ” Simon leaned forward. “Because youve been a good guy to me since I met you. Ive never seen you be mean or get angry. And then I thought about the Wolf Guard, and how you said you joined it because youd done bad things. And I thought Maia was maybe the bad thing youd done that you were trying to make up for. ”

“I was,” said Jordan. “She is. ”

Clary sat at her desk in Lukes small spare room, the scrap of cloth shed taken from the Beth Israel morgue spread out in front of her. Shed weighted it down on either side with pencils and was hovering over it, stele in hand, trying to remember the rune that had come to her in the hospital.

It was hard to concentrate. She kept thinking about Jace, about last night. Where he might have gone. Why he was so unhappy. She hadnt realized until she had seen him that he was as miserable as she was, and it tore at her heart. She wanted to call him, but had held herself back from doing so several times since shed gotten home. If he was going to tell her what the problem was, hed have to do it without being asked. She knew him well enough to know that.

She closed her eyes, and tried to force herself to picture the rune. It wasnt one shed invented, she was pretty sure. It was one that actually existed, though she wasnt sure shed seen it in the Gray Book. Its shape spoke to her less of translation than of revelation, of showing the shape of something hidden belowground, blowing the dust away from it slowly to read the inscription beneath. . . .

The stele twitched in her fingers, and she opened her eyes to find, to her surprise, that shed managed to trace a small pattern on the edge of the fabric. It looked almost like a blot, with odd bits going off every which way, and she frowned, wondering if she was losing her skill. But the fabric began to shimmer, like heat rising off hot blacktop. She stared as words unfolded across the cloth as if an invisible hand was writing them:

Property of the Church of Talto. 232 Riverside Drive.

A hum of excitement went through her. It was a clue, a real clue. And shed found it herself, without any help from anyone else.

232 Riverside Drive. That was on the Upper West Side, she thought, by Riverside Park, just across the water from New Jersey. Not that long a trip at all. The Church of Talto. Clary set the stele down with a worried frown. Whatever that was, it sounded like bad news. She scooted her chair over to Lukes old desktop computer and pulled up the Internet. She couldnt say she was surprised that typing in “Church of Talto” produced no comprehensible results. Whatever had been written there on the corner of the cloth had been in Purgatic, or Cthonian, or some other demon language.

One thing she was sure of: Whatever the Church of Talto was, it was secret, and probably bad. If it was mixed up with turning human babies into things with claws for hands, it wasnt any kind of a real religion. Clary wondered if the mother whod dumped her baby near the hospital was a member of the church, and if she knew what shed gotten herself into before her baby was born.

She felt cold all over as she reached for her phone-and paused with it in hand. She had been about to call her mother, but she couldnt call Jocelyn about this. Jocelyn had only just stopped crying and agreed to go out, with Luke, to look at rings. And while Clary thought her mother was strong enough to handle whatever the truth turned out to be, shed doubtless get in massive trouble with the Clave for having taken her investigation this far without informing them.

Luke. But Luke was with her mother. She couldnt call him.

Maryse, maybe. The mere idea of calling her seemed alien and intimidating. Plus, Clary knew-without quite wanting to admit to herself that it was a factor-that if she let the Clave take this over, shed be benched. Pushed off to the sidelines of a mystery that seemed intensely personal. Not to mention that it felt like betraying her mother to the Clave.

But to go running off on her own, not knowing what shed find. . . Well, she had training, but not that much training. And she knew she had a tendency to act first, think later. Reluctantly she pulled the phone toward her, hesitated a moment-and sent a quick text: 232 RIVERSIDE DRIVE. YOU NEED TO MEET ME THERE RIGHT AWAY. ITS IMPORTANT. She hit the send button and sat for a moment until the screen lit up with an answering buzz: OK.

With a sigh Clary set down the phone, and went to get her weapons.

“I loved Maia,” Jordan said. He was sitting on the futon now, having finally managed to make coffee, though he hadnt drunk any of it. He was just holding the mug in his hands, turning it around and around as he talked. “You have to know that, before I tell you anything else. We both came from this dismal hellhole of a town in New Jersey, and she got endless crap because her dad was black and her mom was white. She had a brother, too, who was a total psychopath. I dont know if she told you about him. Daniel. ”

“Not much,” Simon said.

“With all that, her life was pretty hellish, but she didnt let it get her down. I met her in a music store, buying old records. Vinyl, right. We got to talking, and I realized she was basically the coolest girl for miles around. Beautiful, too. And sweet. ” Jordans eyes were distant. “We went out, and it was fantastic. We were totally in love. The way you are when youre sixteen. Then I got bit. I was in a fight one night, at a club. I used to get into fights a lot. I was used to getting kicked and punched, but bitten? I thought the guy whod done it was crazy, but whatever. I went to the hospital, got stitched up, forgot about it.

“About three weeks later it started to hit. Waves of uncontrollable rage and anger. My vision would just black out, and I wouldnt know what was happening. I punched my hand through my kitchen window because a drawer was stuck shut. I was crazy jealous about Maia, convinced she was looking at other guys, convinced . . . I dont even know what I thought. I just know I snapped. I hit her. I want to say I dont remember doing it, but I do. And then she broke up with me. . . ” His voice trailed off. He took a swallow of coffee; he looked sick, Simon thought. He must not have told this story much before. Or ever. “A couple nights later I went to a party and she was there. Dancing with another guy. Kissing him like she wanted to prove to me it was over. It was a bad night for her to choose, not that she could have known that. It was the first full moon since Id been bitten. ” His knuckles were white where he gripped the cup. “The first time I ever Changed. The transformation ripped through my body and tore my bones and skin apart. I was in agony, and not just because of that. I wanted her, wanted her to come back, wanted to explain, but all I could do was howl. I took off running through the streets, and that was when I saw her, crossing the park near her house. She was going home. . . ”

“And you attacked her,” Simon said. “You bit her. ”

“Yeah. ” Jordan stared blindly into the past. “When I woke up the next morning, I knew what Id done. I tried to go to her house, to explain. I was halfway there when a big guy stepped into my path and stared me down. He knew who I was, knew everything about me. He explained he was a member of the Praetor Lupus and hed been assigned to me. He wasnt too happy that hed gotten there too late, that Id already bitten someone. He wouldnt let me go anywhere near her. He said Id just make it worse. He promised the Wolf Guard would be watching over her. He told me that since Id bitten a human already, which was strictly forbidden, the only way Id evade punishment was to join the Guard and get trained to control myself.

“I wouldnt have done it. I would have spit on him and taken whatever punishment they wanted to hand out. I hated myself that much. But when he explained that Id be able to help other people like me, maybe stop what had happened to me and Maia from happening again, it was like I saw a light in the darkness, way off in the future. Like maybe it was a chance to fix what Id done. ”

“Okay,” Simon said slowly. “But isnt it kind of a weird coincidence that you wound up assigned to me? A guy who was dating the girl you once bit and turned into a werewolf?”

“No coincidence,” Jordan said. “Your file was one of a bunch I got handed. I picked you because Maia was mentioned in the notes. A werewolf and a vampire dating. You know, its kind of a big deal. It was the first time I realized shed become a werewolf after I-after what I did. ”

“You never checked up to find out? That seems kind of-”

“I tried. The Praetor didnt want me to, but I did what I could to find out what happened to her. I knew she ran away from home, but she had a crappy home life anyway, so that didnt tell me anything. And its not like theres some national registry of werewolves where I could look her up. I just . . . hoped she hadnt Turned. ”

“So you took my assignment because of Maia?”

Jordan flushed. “I thought maybe if I met you, I could find out what happened to her. If she was okay. ”

“Thats why you told me off for two-timing her,” said Simon, thinking back. “You were being protective. ”

Jordan glared at him over the rim of the coffee cup. “Yeah, well, it was a jerk move. ”

“And youre the one who shoved the flyer for the band performance under her door. Arent you?” Simon shook his head. “So, was messing with my love life part of the assignment, or just your personal extra touch?”

“I screwed her over,” Jordan said. “I didnt want to see her screwed over by someone else. ”

“And it didnt occur to you that if she showed up at our performance shed try to rip your face off? If she hadnt been late, maybe she even would have done it while you were onstage. That would have been an exciting extra for the audience. ”

“I didnt know,” Jordan said. “I didnt realize she hated me so much. I mean, I dont hate the guy who Turned me; I kind of understand that he might not have been in control of himself. ”

“Yeah,” said Simon, “but you never loved that guy. You never had a relationship with him. Maia loved you. She thinks you bit her and then you ditched and never thought about her again. Shes going to hate you as much as she loved you once. ”

Before Jordan could reply, the doorbell rang-not the buzzer that would have sounded if someone had been downstairs, calling up, but the one that could be rung only if the visitor was standing in the hallway outside their door. The boys exchanged baffled looks. “Are you expecting someone?” Simon asked.

Jordan shook his head and put the coffee cup down. Together they went into the small entryway. Jordan gestured for Simon to stand behind him before he swung the door open.

There was no one there. Instead there was a folded piece of paper on the welcome mat, weighed down by a solid-looking hunk of rock. Jordan bent to free the paper and straightened up with a frown.

“Its for you,” he said, handing it to Simon.

Puzzled, Simon unfolded the paper. Printed across the center, in childish block letters, was the message:

SIMON LEWIS. WE HAVE YOUR GIRLFRIEND. YOU MUST COME TO 232 RIVERSIDE DRIVE TODAY. BE THERE BEFORE DARK OR WE WILL CUT HER THROAT.

“Its a joke,” Simon said, staring numbly at the paper. “It has to be. ”

Without a word Jordan grabbed Simons arm and hauled him into the living room. Letting go of him, he rooted around for the cordless phone until he found it. “Call her,” he said, slapping the phone against Simons chest. “Call Maia and make sure shes all right. ”

“But it might not be her. ” Simon stared down at the phone as the full horror of the situation buzzed around his brain like a ghoul buzzing around the outside of a house, begging to be let in. Focus, he told himself. Dont panic. “It might be Isabelle. ”

“Oh, Jesus. ” Jordan glowered at him. “Do you have any other girlfriends? Do we have to make a list of names to call?”

Simon yanked the phone away from him and turned away, punching in the number.

Maia answered on the second ring. “Hello?”

“Maia-its Simon. ”

The friendliness went out of her voice. “Oh. What do you want?”

“I just wanted to check that you were okay,” he said.

“Im fine. ” She spoke stiffly. “Its not like what was going on with us was all that serious. Im not happy, but Ill live. Youre still an ass, though. ”

“No,” Simon said. “I mean I wanted to check that you were okay. ”

“Is this about Jordan?” He could hear the tense anger when she said his name. “Right. You guys went off together, didnt you? Youre friends or something, right? Well, you can tell him to stay away from me. In fact, that goes for both of you. ”

She hung up. The dial tone buzzed down the phone like an angry bee.

Simon looked at Jordan. “Shes fine. She hates us both, but it really didnt sound like anything else was wrong. ”

“Fine,” Jordan said tightly. “Call Isabelle. ”

It took two tries before Izzy picked up; Simon was nearly in a panic by the time her voice came down the line, sounding distracted and annoyed. “Whoever this is, it had better be good. ”

Relief poured through his veins. “Isabelle. Its Simon. ”

“Oh, for Gods sake. What do you want?”

“I just wanted to make sure you were okay-”

“Oh, what, Im supposed to be devastated because youre a cheating, lying, two-timing son of a-”

“No. ” This was really starting to wear on Simons nerves. “I meant, are you all right? You havent been kidnapped or anything?”

There was a long silence. “Simon,” Isabelle said finally. “This is really, seriously, the stupidest excuse for a whiny makeup call that I have ever, ever heard. Whats wrong with you?”

“Im not sure,” Simon said, and hung up before she could hang up on him. He handed the phone to Jordan. “Shes fine too. ”

“I dont get it. ” Jordan looked bewildered. “Who makes a threat like that if its totally empty? I mean, its so easy to check and find out its a lie. ”

“They must think Im stupid,” Simon began, and then paused, a horrible thought dawning on him. He snatched the phone back from Jordan and started to dial with numb fingers.

“Who is it?” Jordan said. “Who are you calling?”

Clarys phone rang just as she turned the corner of Ninety-sixth Street onto Riverside Drive. The rain seemed to have washed away the citys usual dirt; the sun shone down from a brilliant sky onto the bright green strip of the park running alongside the river, whose water looked nearly blue today.

She dug into her bag for her phone, found it, and flipped it open. “Hello?”

Simons voice came down the line. “Oh, thank-” He broke off. “Are you all right? Youre not kidnapped or anything?”

“Kidnapped?” Clary peered up at the numbers of the buildings as she walked uptown. 220, 224. She wasnt entirely sure what she was looking for. Would it look like a church? Something else, glamoured to look like an abandoned lot? “Are you drunk or something?”

“Its a little early for that. ” The relief in his voice was plain. “No, I just-I got a weird note. Someone threatening to go after my girlfriend. ”

“Which one?”

“Har de har. ” Simon did not sound amused. “I called Maia and Isabelle already, and theyre both fine. Then I thought of you-I mean, we spend a lot of time together. Someone might get the wrong idea. But now I dont know what to think. ”

“I dunno. ” 232 Riverside Drive loomed up in front of Clary suddenly, a big square stone building with a pointed roof. It could have been a church at one point, she thought, though it didnt look much like one now.

“Maia and Isabelle found out about each other last night, by the way. It wasnt pretty,” Simon added. “You were right about the playing-with-fire bit. ”

Clary examined the facade of number 232. Most of the edifices lining the drive were expensive apartment buildings, with doormen in livery waiting inside. This one, though, had only a set of tall wooden doors with curved tops, and old-fashioned-looking metal handles instead of doorknobs. “Ooh, ouch. Sorry, Simon. Are either of them speaking to you?”

“Not really. ”

She took hold of one of the handles, and pushed. The door slid open with a soft hissing noise. Clary dropped her voice. “Maybe one of them left the note?”

“It doesnt really seem like their style,” said Simon, sounding genuinely puzzled. “Do you think Jace would have done it?”

The sound of his name was like a punch to the stomach. Clary caught her breath and said, “I really dont think hed do that, even if he was angry. ” She drew the phone away from her ear. Peering around the half-open door, she could see what looked reassuringly like the inside of a normal church-a long aisle, and flickering lights like candles. Surely it couldnt hurt just to take a peek inside. “I have to go, Simon,” she said. “Ill call you later. ”

She flipped her phone closed and stepped inside.

“You really think it was a joke?” Jordan was prowling up and down the apartment like a tiger pacing its cage at the zoo. “I dunno. It seems like a really sick sort of joke to me. ”

“I didnt say it wasnt sick. ” Simon glanced at the note; it lay on the coffee table, the block-printed letters clearly visible even at a distance. Just looking at it gave him a lurching feeling in his stomach, even though he knew it was meaningless. “Im just trying to think who might have sent it. And why. ”

“Maybe I should take the day off watching you and keep an eye on her,” said Jordan. “You know, just in case. ”

“I assume youre talking about Maia,” said Simon. “I know you mean well, but I really dont think she wants you around. In any capacity. ”

Jordans jaw tightened. “Id stay out of the way so she wouldnt see me. ”

“Wow. Youre still really into her, arent you?”

“I have a personal responsibility. ” Jordan sounded stiff. “Whatever else I feel doesnt matter. ”

“You can do what you want,” Simon said. “But I think-”

The door buzzer sounded again. The two boys exchanged a single look before both bolting down the narrow hallway to the door. Jordan got there first. He grabbed for the coatrack that stood by the door, ripped the coats off it, and flung the door wide, the rack held above his head like a javelin.

On the other side of the door was Jace. He blinked. “Is that a coatrack?”

Jordan slammed the coatrack down on the ground and sighed. “If youd been a vampire, this would have been a lot more useful. ”

“Yes,” said Jace. “Or, you know, just someone with a lot of coats. ”

Simon stuck his head around Jordan and said, “Sorry. Weve had a stressful morning. ”

“Yeah, well,” said Jace. “Its about to get more stressful. I came to bring you to the Institute, Simon. The Conclave wants to see you, and they dont like having to wait. ”

The moment the door of the Church of Talto shut behind Clary, she felt that she was in another world, the noise and bustle of New York City entirely shut out. The space inside the building was big and lofty, with high ceilings soaring above. There was a narrow aisle banked by rows of pews, and fat brown candles burned in sconces bolted along the walls. The interior seemed dimly lit to Clary, but perhaps that was just because she was used to the brightness of witchlight.

She moved along the aisle, the tread of her sneakers soft against the dusty stone. It was odd, she thought, a church with no windows at all. At the end of the aisle she reached the apse, where a set of stone steps led to a podium on which was displayed an altar. She blinked up at it, realizing what else was strange: There were no crosses in this church. Instead there was an upright stone tablet on the altar, crowned by the carved figure of an owl. The words on the tablet read:

FOR HER HOUSE INCLINETH UNTO DEATH,

AND HER PATHS UNTO THE DEAD.

NONE THAT GO UNTO HER RETURN AGAIN,

NEITHER TAKE THEY HOLD OF THE PATHS OF LIFE.

Clary blinked. She wasnt too familiar with the Bible-she certainly didnt have anything like Jaces near-perfect recall of large passages of it-but while that sounded religious, it was also an odd bit of text to feature in a church. She shivered, and drew closer to the altar, where a large closed book had been left out. One of the pages seemed to be marked; when Clary reached to open the book, she realized that what shed thought was a bookmark was a black-handled dagger carved with occult symbols. Shed seen pictures of these before in her textbooks. It was an athame, often used in demonic summoning rituals.

Her stomach went cold, but she bent to scan the marked page anyway, determined to learn something-only to discover that it was written in a cramped, stylized hand that would have been hard to decipher had the book been in English. It wasnt; it was in a sharp, spiky-looking alphabet that she was sure shed never seen before. The words were below an illustration of what Clary recognized as a summoning circle-the kind of pattern warlocks traced on the ground before they enacted spells. The circles were meant to draw down and concentrate magical power. This one, splashed across the page in green ink, looked like two concentric circles, with a square in the center of them. In the space between the circles, runes were scrawled. Clary didnt recognize them, but she could feel the language of the runes in her bones, and it made her shiver. Death and blood.

She turned the page hastily, and came on a group of illustrations that made her suck in her breath.

It was a progression of pictures that started with the image of a woman with a bird perched on her left shoulder. The bird, possibly a raven, looked sinister and cunning. In the second picture the bird was gone, and the woman was obviously pregnant. In the third image the woman was lying on an altar not unlike the one Clary was standing in front of now. A robed figure was standing in front of her, a jarringly modern-looking syringe in its hand. The syringe was full of dark red liquid. The woman clearly knew she was about to be injected with it, because she was screaming.

In the last picture the woman was sitting with a baby on her lap. The baby looked almost normal, except that its eyes were entirely black, without whites at all. The woman was looking down at her child with a look of terror.

Clary felt the hairs on the back of her neck prickle. Her mother had been right. Someone was trying to make more babies like Jonathan. In fact, they already had.

She stepped back from the altar. Every nerve in her body was screaming that there was something very wrong with this place. She didnt think she could spend another second here; better to go outside and wait there for the cavalry to arrive. She might have discovered this clue on her own, but the result was way more than she could handle on her own.

It was then that she heard the sound.

A soft susurration, like a slow tide pulling back, that seemed to come from above her. She looked up, the athame gripped firmly in her hand. And stared. All around the upstairs gallery stood rows of silent figures. They wore what looked like gray tracksuits-sneakers, dull gray sweats, and zip-up tops with hoods pulled down over their faces. They were utterly motionless, their hands on the gallery railing, staring down at her. At least, she assumed they were staring. Their faces were hidden entirely in shadow; she couldnt even tell if they were male or female.

“I . . . Im sorry,” she said. Her voice echoed loudly in the stone room. “I didnt mean to intrude, or. . . ”

There was no answer but silence. Silence like a weight. Clarys heart began to beat faster.

“Ill just go, then,” she said, swallowing hard. She stepped forward, laid the athame on the altar, and turned to leave. She caught the scent on the air then, a split second before she turned-the familiar stench of rotting garbage. Between her and the door, rising up like a wall, was a nightmarish mishmash of scaled skin, bladelike teeth, and reaching claws.

For the past seven weeks Clary had trained to face down a demon in battle, even a massive one. But now that it was actually happening, all she could do was scream.

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