City of Fallen Angels – Chapter 11: OUR KIND

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Chapter 11: OUR KIND

The demon lunged for Clary, and she stopped screaming abruptly and flung herself backward, over the altar-a perfect flip, and for one bizarre moment she wished Jace had been there to see it. She hit the ground in a crouch, just as something struck the altar hard, making the stone vibrate.

A howl sounded through the church. Clary scrambled to her knees and peered over the edge of the altar. The demon wasnt as big as shed first thought, but it wasnt small, either-about the size of a refrigerator, with three heads on swaying stalks. The heads were blind, with enormous gaping jaws from which ropes of greenish drool hung. The demon seemed to have smacked its leftmost head on the altar when it grabbed for her, because it was shaking the head back and forth as if trying to clear it.

Clary glanced up wildly, but the tracksuited figures were still where they had been before. None of them had moved. They seemed to be watching what was going on with a detached interest. She spun and looked behind her, but there appeared to be no exits from the church besides the door shed come through, and the demon was currently blocking her path back to it. Realizing she was wasting precious seconds, she scrambled to her feet and grabbed for the athame. She yanked it off the altar and ducked back down just as the demon came for her again. She rolled to the side as a head, swaying on a thick stalk of neck, darted over the altar, its thick black tongue flicking out, searching for her. With a scream she jammed the athame into the creatures neck once, then jerked it free, scrambling backward and out of the way.

The thing screamed, its head rearing back, black blood spraying from the wound shed made. But it wasnt a killing blow. Even as Clary watched, the wound began to heal slowly, the demons blackish green flesh knitting together like fabric being sewed up. Her heart sank. Of course. The whole reason Shadowhunters used runed weapons was that the runes prevented demons from healing.

She reached for the stele in her belt with her left hand, and yanked it free just as the demon came for her again. She leaped to the side and threw herself painfully down the stairs, rolling until she fetched up against the first row of pews. The demon turned, lumbering a bit as it moved, and made for her again. Realizing she was still clutching both the stele and the dagger-in fact, the dagger had cut her as she had rolled, and blood was quickly staining the front of her jacket-she transferred the dagger to her left hand, the stele to her right, and with a desperate swiftness, cut an enkeli rune into the athames hilt.

The other symbols on the hilt began to melt and run as the rune of angelic power took hold. Clary looked up; the demon was almost on her, its three heads reaching, their mouths gaping. Propelling herself to her feet, she drew her arm back and flung the dagger as hard as she could. To her great surprise, it struck the middle head right in the center of the skull, sinking in up to the hilt. The head thrashed as the demon screamed-Clarys heart lifted-and then the head simply dropped, hitting the ground with a sickening thud. The demon kept coming anyway, dragging the now-dead head on its limp neck after it as it moved toward Clary.

The sound of many footsteps came from above. Clary looked up. The tracksuited figures were gone, the gallery empty. The sight was not reassuring. Her heart doing a wild tango in her chest, Clary turned and ran for the front door, but the demon was faster than she was. With a grunt of effort it launched itself over her and landed in front of the doors, blocking her way out. Making a hissing noise, it moved toward her, its two living heads swaying, then rising, stretching to their full length in order to strike at her-

Something flashed through the air, a darting flame of silvery gold. The demons heads whipped around, the hissing rising to a scream, but it was too late-the silvery thing that encircled them pulled tight, and with a spray of blackish blood, its remaining two heads sheared away. Clary rolled out of the way as flying blood splattered her, searing her skin. Then she ducked her head as the headless body swayed, fell toward her-

And was gone. As it was collapsing, the demon vanished, sucked back to its home dimension. Clary raised her head cautiously. The front doors of the church were open, and in the entranceway stood Isabelle, in boots and a black dress, her electrum whip in hand. She was winding it back slowly around her wrist, glancing around the church as she did so, her dark eyebrows drawn together in a curious frown. As her gaze fell on Clary, she grinned.

“Damn, girl,” she said. “What have you gotten yourself into now?”

The touch of the vampire servants hands on Simons skin was cold and light, like the touch of icy wings. He shuddered a little as they unwound the blindfold from around his head, their withered skin rough on his, before they stepped back, bowing as they retreated.

He looked around, blinking. Moments ago, he had been standing in the sunlight on the corner of Seventy-Eighth Street and Second Avenue-enough of a distance from the Institute that he had judged it safe to use the grave-dirt to contact Camille without arousing her suspicions. Now he was in a dimly lit room, quite large, with a smooth marble floor and elegant marble pillars holding up a high ceiling. Along the left wall ran a row of glass-fronted cubicles, each with a brass-lettered plaque hanging over it that read TELLER. Another brass plaque on the wall proclaimed this to be the DOUGLAS NATIONAL BANK. Thick layers of dust padded the floor and the counters where people had once stood to write out checks or withdrawal slips, and the brass-bound lamps that hung from the ceiling were coated with verdigris.

In the center of the room was a high armchair, and in the chair sat Camille. Her silvery-blond hair was undone, and rained down over her shoulders like tinsel. Her beautiful face had been wiped clean of makeup, but her lips were still very red. In the dimness of the bank, they were almost the only color Simon could see.

“I would not normally agree to meet during sunlight hours, Daylighter,” she said. “But since it is you, I have made an exception. ”

“Thank you. ” He noticed no chair had been provided for him, so he continued awkwardly standing. If his heart still beat, he thought, it would have been pounding. When he had agreed to do this for the Conclave, he had forgotten how much Camille scared him. Maybe it was illogical-what could she really do to him?-but there it was.

“I suppose this means that you have considered my offer,” said Camille. “And that you agree to it. ”

“What makes you think I agree?” Simon said, very much hoping that she wouldnt put down the fatuousness of the question to the fact that he was stalling for time.

She looked mildly impatient. “You would hardly deliver in person the news that you had decided to refuse me. You would be afraid of my temper. ”

“Should I be afraid of your temper?”

Camille sat back in the wing-back chair, smiling. The chair was modern-looking and luxurious, unlike anything else in the abandoned bank. It must have been hauled here from somewhere else, probably by Camilles servants, who were currently standing off to each side like silent statues. “Many are,” she said. “But you have no reason to be. I am very pleased with you. Though you waited until the last moment to contact me, I sense you have made the right decision. ”

Simons phone chose that minute to begin buzzing insistently. He jumped, feeling a trickle of cold sweat going down his back, then fished it hastily out of the pocket of his jacket. “Sorry,” he said, flipping it open. “Phone. ”

Camille looked horrified. “Do not answer that. ”

Simon began lifting the phone to his ear. As he did, he managed to hit the camera button several times with his finger. “Itll just take a second. ”

“Simon. ”

He hit the send button and then quickly flipped the phone closed. “Sorry. I didnt think. ”

Camilles chest was rising and falling with rage, despite the fact that she didnt actually breathe. “I demand more respect than that from my servants,” she hissed. “You will never do that again, or-”

“Or what?” Simon said. “You cant hurt me, any more than anyone else can. And you told me I wouldnt be a servant. You told me Id be your partner. ” He paused, letting just the right note of arrogance into his voice. “Maybe I ought to reconsider my acceptance of your offer. ”

Camilles eyes darkened. “Oh, for Gods sake. Dont be a little fool. ”

“How can you say that word?” Simon demanded.

Camille raised delicate eyebrows. “Which word? Are you annoyed that I called you a fool?”

“No. Well, yes, but thats not what I meant. You said Oh, for-” He broke off, his voice cracking. He still couldnt say it. God.

“Because I do not believe in him, silly boy,” said Camille. “And you still do. ” She tilted her head to the side, regarding him the way a bird might regard a worm on the sidewalk that it was considering eating. “I think perhaps it is time for a blood oath. ”

“A . . . blood oath?” Simon wondered if hed heard right.

“I forget that your knowledge of the customs of our kind is so limited. ” Camille shook her silvery head. “I will have you sign an oath, in blood, that you are loyal to me. It will prevent you from disobeying me in the future. Consider it a sort of . . . prenuptial agreement. ” She smiled, and he saw the glint of her fangs. “Come. ” She snapped her fingers imperiously, and her minions scurried toward her, their gray heads bent. The first to reach her handed her something that looked like an old-fashioned glass pen, the kind with a whorled tip meant to catch and hold ink. “You will have to cut yourself and draw your own blood,” said Camille. “Normally I would do it myself, but the Mark prevents me. Therefore we must improvise. ”

Simon hesitated. This was bad. Very bad. He knew enough about the supernatural world to know what oaths meant to Downworlders. They were not just empty promises that could be broken. They truly bound the promiser, like virtual manacles. If he signed the oath, he really would be loyal to Camille. Possibly forever.

“Come along,” Camille said, a touch of impatience creeping into her voice. “There is no need to dawdle. ”

Swallowing, Simon took a reluctant step forward, and then another. A servant stepped in front of him, blocking his way. He was holding out a knife to Simon, a wicked-looking thing with a needle blade. Simon took it, and raised it above his wrist. Then he lowered it. “You know,” he said, “I really dont like pain very much. Or knives-”

“Do it,” Camille growled.

“There has to be some other way. ”

Camille rose from her chair, and Simon saw that her fangs were fully extended. She was truly enraged. “If you do not stop wasting my time-”

There was a soft implosion, a sound like something enormous tearing down the middle. A great shimmering panel appeared against the opposite wall. Camille turned toward it, her lips parting in shock as she saw what it was. Simon knew she recognized it, just as he did. There was only one thing it could be.

A Portal. And through it were pouring at least a dozen Shadowhunters.

“Okay,” said Isabelle, putting away the first aid kit with a brisk gesture. They were in one of the Institutes many spare rooms, meant to house visiting Clave members. Each was plainly furnished with a bed, a dresser and a wardrobe, and a small bathroom. And, of course, each one had a first aid kit, with bandages, poultices, and even spare steles included. “Youre pretty well iratzed up, but its going to take a little while for some of those bruises to fade. And these”-she ran her hand over the burn marks on Clarys forearm where the demon blood had splashed her-“probably wont go away totally till tomorrow. If you rest, theyll heal faster, though. ”

“Thats fine. Thanks, Isabelle. ” Clary looked down at her hands; there were bandages around the right one, and her shirt was still torn and bloodstained, though Izzys runes had healed the cuts beneath. She supposed she could have done the iratzes herself, but it was nice to have someone take care of her, and Izzy, while not the warmest person Clary knew, could be capable and kind when she felt like it. “And thanks for showing up and, you know, saving my life from whatever that was-”

“A Hydra demon. I told you. They have a lot of heads, but theyre pretty dumb. And you werent doing such a bad job with it before I showed up. I like what you did with the athame. Good thinking under pressure. Thats as much a part of being a Shadowhunter as learning how to punch holes in things. ” Isabelle flopped down onto the bed next to Clary and sighed. “I should probably go look up what I can find out about the Church of Talto before the Conclave gets back. Maybe itll help us figure out whats going on. The hospital stuff, the babies-” She shuddered. “I dont like it. ”

Clary had told Isabelle as much as she could about why shed been at the church, even about the demon baby at the hospital, though shed pretended she was the one whod been suspicious, and had kept her mother out of the story. Isabelle had looked sick when Clary had described the way the baby had looked exactly like a normal baby except for its open black eyes and the little claws it had instead of hands. “I think they were trying to make another baby like-like my brother. I think they experimented on some poor mundane woman,” Clary said. “But she couldnt take it when the baby was born, and she lost her mind. Its just-who would do something like that? One of Valentines followers? The ones who never got caught, maybe trying to carry on what he was doing?”

“Maybe. Or just some demon-worshipping cult. There are plenty of them. Although I cant imagine why anyone would want to make more creatures like Sebastian. ” Her voice gave a little jump of hatred when she said his name.

“His names really Jonathan-”

“Jonathan is Jaces name,” said Isabelle tightly. “I wont call that monster by the same name my brother has. Hes always going to be Sebastian to me. ”

Clary had to admit Isabelle had a point. She had a hard time thinking of him as Jonathan too. She supposed it wasnt fair to the true Sebastian, but none of them had really known him. It was easier to slap a strangers name onto Valentines vicious son than call him something that made him feel closer to her family, closer to her life.

Isabelle spoke lightly, but Clary could tell that her mind was working, ticking over various possibilities: “Anyway, Im glad you texted me when you did. I could tell from your message that something weird was going on, and frankly I was bored. Everyones off doing some secret thing with the Conclave, and I didnt want to go, because Simon was going to be there, and I hate him now. ”

“Simon is with the Conclave?” Clary was astonished. She had noticed that the Institute had seemed even more empty than usual when theyd arrived. Jace, of course, wasnt there, but she hadnt expected him to be-though she hadnt known why. “I talked to him this morning and he didnt say anything about doing something for them,” Clary added.

Isabelle shrugged. “It has something to do with vampire politics. Thats all I know. ”

“Do you think hes all right?”

Isabelle sounded exasperated. “He doesnt need you to protect him anymore, Clary. He has the Mark of Cain. He could get blown up, shot at, drowned, and stabbed and hed be just fine. ” She looked at Clary hard. “I notice you didnt ask me why I hate Simon,” she said. “I assume you knew about the two-timing thing?”

“I knew,” Clary admitted. “Im sorry. ”

Isabelle waved her confession away. “Youre his best friend. It would have been weird if you didnt know. ”

“I should have told you,” Clary said. “Its just-I never got the sense you were that serious about Simon, you know?”

Isabelle scowled. “I wasnt. Its just-I thought he would take it seriously, at least. Since I was so out of his league and everything. I guess I expected better from him than I do from other guys. ”

“Maybe,” Clary said quietly, “Simon shouldnt be dating someone who thinks theyre out of his league. ” Isabelle looked at her, and Clary felt herself flush. “Sorry. Your relationship is really none of my business. ”

Isabelle was twisting her dark hair up into a knot, something she did when she felt tense. “No, it isnt. I mean, I could ask you why you texted me to come to the church and meet you, and not Jace, but I havent. Im not stupid. I know somethings wrong between you two, passionate alley make-out sessions notwithstanding. ” She looked keenly at Clary. “Have the two of you slept together yet?”

Clary felt the blood rush into her face. “What-I mean, no, we havent, but I dont see what that has to do with anything. ”

“It doesnt,” said Isabelle, patting her knotted hair into place. “That was just prurient curiosity. Whats holding you back?”

“Isabelle-” Clary pulled up her legs, wrapped her arms around her knees, and sighed. “Nothing. We were just taking our time. Ive never-you know. ”

“Jace has,” said Isabelle. “I mean, I assume he has. I dont know for sure. But if you ever need anything. . . ” She let the sentence hang in the air.

“Need anything?”

“Protection. You know. So you can be careful,” Isabelle said. She sounded as practical as if she were talking about extra buttons. “Youd think the Angel would have been foresighted enough to give us a birth-control rune, but no dice. ”

“Of course Id be careful,” Clary spluttered, feeling her cheeks turn red. “Enough. This is awkward. ”

“This is girl talk,” said Isabelle. “You just think its awkward because youve spent your whole life with Simon as your only friend. And you cant talk to him about Jace. That would be awkward. ”

“And Jace really hasnt said anything to you? About whats bothering him?” Clary said, in a small voice. “You promise?”

“He didnt have to,” Isabelle said. “The way youve been acting, and with Jace going around looking like someone just died, its not like I wouldnt notice something was wrong. You should have come to talk to me sooner. ”

“Is he at least all right?” Clary asked very quietly.

Isabelle stood up from the bed and looked down at her. “No,” she said. “He is very much not all right. Are you?”

Clary shook her head.

“I didnt think so,” Isabelle said.

To Simons surprise, Camille, upon seeing the Shadowhunters, didnt even try to stand her ground. She screamed and ran for the door, only to freeze when she realized that it was daylight outside, and that exiting the bank would quickly incinerate her. She gasped and cowered back against a wall, her fangs bared, a low hiss coming from her throat.

Simon stepped back as the Shadowhunters of the Conclave swarmed around him, all in black like a murder of crows; he saw Jace, his face pale and set like white marble, slide a broadsword blade through one of the human servants as he passed him, as casually as a pedestrian might swat a fly. Maryse stalked ahead, her flying black hair reminding Simon of Isabelle. She dispatched the second cowering minion with a whipsaw movement of her seraph blade, and advanced on Camille, her shining blade outstretched. Jace was beside her, and another Shadowhunter-a tall man with black runes twining his forearms like vines-was on her other side.

The rest of the Shadowhunters had spread out and were canvassing the bank, sweeping it with those odd things they used-Sensors-checking every corner for demon activity. They ignored the bodies of Camilles human servants, lying motionless in their pools of drying blood. They ignored Simon as well. He might as well have been another pillar, for all the attention they paid him.

“Camille Belcourt,” said Maryse, her voice echoing off the marble walls. “You have broken the Law and are subject to the Laws punishments. Will you surrender and come with us, or will you fight?”

Camille was crying, making no attempt to cover her tears, which were tinged with blood. They streaked her white face with red lines as she choked, “Walker-and my Archer-”

Maryse looked baffled. She turned to the man on her left. “What is she saying, Kadir?”

“Her human servants,” he replied. “I believe she is mourning their deaths. ”

Maryse flipped her hand dismissively. “It is against the Law to make servants of human beings. ”

“I made them before Downworlders were subject to your accursed laws, you bitch. They have been with me two hundred years. They were like children to me. ”

Maryses hand tightened on the hilt of her blade. “What would you know of children?” she whispered. “What does your kind know of anything but destroying?”

Camilles tear-streaked face flashed for a moment with triumph. “I knew it,” she said. “Whatever else you might say, whatever lies you tell, you hate our kind. Dont you?”

Maryses face tightened. “Take her,” she said. “Bring her to the Sanctuary. ”

Jace moved swiftly to one side of Camille and took hold of her; Kadir seized her other arm. Together, they pinioned her between them.

“Camille Belcourt, you stand accused of the murder of humans,” Maryse intoned. “And of the murder of Shadowhunters. You will be taken to the Sanctuary, where you will be questioned. The sentence for the murder of Shadowhunters is death, but it is possible that if you cooperate with us, your life will be spared. Do you understand?” asked Maryse.

Camille tossed her head defiantly. “There is only one man I will answer to,” she said. “If you do not bring him to me, I will tell you nothing. You can kill me, but I will tell you nothing. ”

“Very well,” said Maryse. “What man is that?”

Camille bared her teeth. “Magnus Bane. ”

“Magnus Bane?” Maryse looked flabbergasted. “The High Warlock of Brooklyn? Why do you want to talk to him?”

“I will answer to him,” Camille said again. “Or I will answer to no one. ”

And that was that. She said not another word. As she was dragged away by Shadowhunters, Simon watched her go. He did not feel, as he had thought he would, triumphant. He felt hollow, and strangely sick to his stomach. He looked down at the bodies of the slain servants; he hadnt liked them much either, but they hadnt asked to be what they were, not really. In a way, maybe neither had Camille. But she was a monster to Nephilim anyway. And maybe not just because she had killed Shadowhunters; maybe there was no way, really, for them to think of her as anything else.

Camille had been pushed through the Portal; Jace stood on the other side of it, gesturing impatiently for Simon to follow. “Are you coming or not?” he called.

Whatever else you might say, whatever lies you tell, you hate our kind.

“Coming,” Simon said, and moved reluctantly forward.

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