Chapter 13: WHERE THERE IS SORROW
CLARY WOKE GASPING OUT OF A DREAM OF BLEEDING ANGELS, her sheets twisted around her in a tight spiral. It was pitch-black and close in Amatis’s spare bedroom, like being locked in a coffin. She reached out and twitched the curtains open. Daylight poured in. She frowned and pulled them shut again.
Shadowhunters burned their dead, and ever since the demon attack, the sky to the west of the city had been stained with smoke. Looking at it out the window made Clary feel sick, so she kept the curtains closed. In the darkness of the room she closed her eyes, trying to remember her dream. There had been angels in it, and the image of the rune Ithuriel had showed her, flashing over and over against the inside of her eyelids like a blinking WALK sign. It was a simple rune, as simple as a tied knot, but no matter how hard she concentrated, she couldn’t read it, couldn’t figure out what it meant. All she knew was that it seemed somehow incomplete to her, as if whoever had created the pattern hadn’t quite finished it.
These are not the first dreams I have ever showed you, Ithuriel had said. She thought of her other dreams: of Simon with crosses burned into his hands, Jace with wings, lakes of cracking ice that shone like mirror glass. Had the angel sent her those, too?
With a sigh she sat up. The dreams might be bad, but the waking images that marched across her brain weren’t much better. Isabelle, weeping on the floor of the Hall of Accords, tugging with such force on the black hair threaded through her fingers that Clary worried she would rip it out. Maryse shrieking at Jia Penhallow that the boy they’d brought into their house had done this, their cousin, and if he was so closely allied with Valentine, what did that say about them? Alec trying to calm his mother down, asking Jace to help him, but Jace just standing there as the sun rose over Alicante and blazed down through the ceiling of the Hall. “It’s dawn,” Luke had said, looking more tired than Clary had ever seen him. “Time to bring the bodies inside. ” And he’d sent out patrols to gather up the dead Shadowhunters and lycanthropes lying in the streets and bring them to the plaza outside the Hall, the plaza Clary had crossed with Sebastian when she’d commented that the Hall looked like a church. It had seemed like a pretty place to her then, lined with flower boxes and brightly painted shops. And now it was full of corpses.
Including Max. Thinking of the little boy who’d so gravely talked about manga with her made her stomach knot. She’d promised once that she’d take him to Forbidden Planet, but that would never happen now. I would have bought him books, she thought. Whatever books he wanted. Not that it mattered.
Don’t think about it. Clary kicked her sheets back and got up. After a quick shower she changed into the jeans and sweater she’d worn the day she’d come from New York. She pressed her face to the material before she put the sweater on, hoping to catch a whiff of Brooklyn, or the smell of laundry detergent—something to remind her of home—but it had been washed and smelled like lemon soap. With another sigh she headed downstairs.
The house was empty except for Simon, sitting on the couch in the living room. The open windows behind him streamed daylight. He’d become like a cat, Clary thought, always seeking out available patches of sunlight to curl up in. No matter how much sun he got, though, his skin stayed the same ivory white.
She picked an apple out of the bowl on the table and sank down next to him, curling her legs up under her. “Did you get any sleep?”
“Some. ” He looked at her. “I ought to ask you that. You’re the one with the shadows under your eyes. More nightmares?”
She shrugged. “Same stuff. Death, destruction, bad angels. ”
“So a lot like real life, then. ”
“Yeah, but at least when I wake up, it’s over. ” She took a bite out of her apple. “Let me guess. Luke and Amatis are at the Accords Hall, having another meeting. ”
“Yeah. I think they’re having the meeting where they get together and decide what other meetings they need to have. ” Simon picked idly at the fringe edging a throw pillow. “Have you heard anything from Magnus?”
“No. ” Clary was trying not to think about the fact that it had been three days since she’d seen Magnus, and he’d sent no word at all. Or the fact that there was really nothing stopping him from taking the Book of the White and disappearing into the ether, never to be heard from again. She wondered why she’d ever thought trusting someone who wore that much eyeliner was a good idea.
She touched Simon’s wrist lightly. “And you? What about you? You’re still okay here?” She’d wanted Simon to go home the moment the battle was over—home, where it was safe. But he’d been strangely resistant. For whatever reason, he seemed to want to stay. She hoped it wasn’t because he thought he had to take care of her—she’d nearly come out and told him she didn’t need his protection—but she hadn’t, because part of her couldn’t bear to see him go. So he stayed, and Clary was secretly, guiltily glad. “You’re getting—you know—what you need?”
“You mean blood? Yeah, Maia’s still bringing me bottles every day. Don’t ask me where she gets it, though. ” The first morning Simon had been at Amatis’s house, a grinning lycanthrope had showed up on the doorstep with a live cat for him. “Blood,” he’d said, in a heavily accented voice. “For you. Fresh!” Simon had thanked the werewolf, waited for him to leave, and let the cat go, his expression faintly green.
“Well, you’re going to have to get your blood from somewhere,” Luke had said, looking amused.
“I have a pet cat,” Simon had replied. “There’s no way. ”
“I’ll tell Maia,” Luke had promised, and from then on the blood had come in discreet glass milk bottles. Clary had no idea how Maia was arranging it and, like Simon, didn’t want to ask. She hadn’t seen the werewolf girl since the night of the battle—the lycanthropes were camped somewhere in the nearby forest, with only Luke remaining in the city.
“What’s up?” Simon leaned his head back, looking at her through his lowered eyelashes. “You look like you want to ask me something. ”
There were several things Clary wanted to ask him, but she decided to go for one of the safer options. “Hodge,” she said, and hesitated. “When you were in the cell—you really didn’t know it was him?”
“I couldn’t see him. I could just hear him through the wall. We talked—a lot. ”
“And you liked him? I mean, he was nice?”
“Nice? I don’t know. Tortured, sad, intelligent, compassionate in brief flashes—yeah, I liked him. I think I sort of reminded him of himself, in a way—”
“Don’t say that!” Clary sat up straight, almost dropping her apple. “You’re nothing like Hodge was. ”
“You don’t think I’m tortured and intelligent?”
“Hodge was evil. You’re not. ” Clary spoke decidedly. “That’s all there is to it. ”
Simon sighed. “People aren’t born good or bad. Maybe they’re born with tendencies either way, but it’s the way you live your life that matters. And the people you know. Valentine was Hodge’s friend, and I don’t think Hodge really had anyone else in his life to challenge him or make him be a better person. If I’d had that life, I don’t know how I would have turned out. But I didn’t. I have my family. And I have you. ”
Clary smiled at him, but his words rang painfully in her ears. People aren’t born good or bad. She’d always thought that was true, but in the images the angel had showed her, she’d seen her mother call her own child evil, a monster. She wished she could tell Simon about it, tell him everything the angel had showed her, but she couldn’t. It would have meant telling what they’d discovered about Jace, and that she couldn’t do. It was his secret to tell, not hers. Simon had asked her once what Jace had meant when he’d spoken to Hodge, why he’d called himself a monster, but she’d only answered that it was hard to understand what Jace meant by anything at the best of times. She wasn’t sure Simon had believed her, but he hadn’t asked again.
She was saved from saying anything at all by a loud knock on the door. With a frown Clary set her apple core down on the table. “I’ll get it. ”
The open door let in a wave of cold, fresh air. Aline Penhallow stood on the front steps, wearing a dark pink silk jacket that almost matched the circles under her eyes. “I need to talk to you,” she said without preamble.
Surprised, Clary could only nod and hold the door open. “All right. Come on in. ”
“Thanks. ” Aline pushed past her brusquely and went into the living room. She froze when she saw Simon sitting on the couch, her lips parting in astonishment. “Isn’t that …”
“The vampire?” Simon grinned. The slight but inhuman acuity of his incisors was just visible against his lower lip when he grinned like that. Clary wished he wouldn’t.
Aline turned to Clary. “Can I talk to you alone?”
“No,” Clary said, and sat down on the couch next to Simon. “Anything you have to say, you can say to both of us. ”
Aline bit her lip. “Fine. Look, I have something I want to tell Alec and Jace and Isabelle, but I have no idea where to find them right now. ”
Clary sighed. “They pulled some strings and got into an empty house. The family in it left for the country. ”
Aline nodded. A lot of people had left since the attacks. Most had stayed—more than Clary would have expected—but quite a few had packed up and departed, leaving their houses standing empty.
“They’re okay, if that’s what you want to know. Look, I haven’t seen them either. Not since the battle. I could pass on a message through Luke if you want—”
“I don’t know. ” Aline was chewing her lower lip. “My parents had to tell Sebastian’s aunt in Paris what he did. She was really upset. ”
“As one would be if one’s nephew turned out to be an evil mastermind,” said Simon.
Aline shot him a dark look. “She said it was completely unlike him, that there must be some mistake. So she sent me some photos of him. ” Aline reached into her pocket and drew out several slightly bent photographs, which she handed to Clary. “Look. ”
Clary looked. The photographs showed a laughing dark-haired boy, handsome in an off-kilter sort of way, with a crooked grin and a slightly-too-big nose. He looked like the sort of boy it would be fun to hang out with. He also looked nothing at all like Sebastian. “This is your cousin?”
“That’s Sebastian Verlac. Which means—”
“That the boy who was here, who was calling himself Sebastian, is someone else entirely?” Clary riffled through the photos with increasing agitation.
“I thought—” Aline was worrying her lip again. “I thought that if the Lightwoods knew Sebastian—or whoever that boy was—wasn’t really my cousin, maybe they’d forgive me. Forgive us. ”
“I’m sure they will. ” Clary made her voice as kind as she could. “But this is bigger than that. The Clave will want to know that Sebastian wasn’t just some misguided Shadowhunter kid. Valentine sent him here deliberately as a spy. ”
“He was just so convincing,” Aline said. “He knew things only my family knows. He knew things from our childhood—”
“It kind of makes you wonder,” said Simon, “what happened to the real Sebastian. Your cousin. It sounds like he left Paris, headed to Idris, and never actually got here. So what happened to him on the way?”
Clary answered. “Valentine happened. He must have planned it all and known where Sebastian would be and how to intercept him on the way. And if he did that with Sebastian—”
“Then there may be others,” said Aline. “You should tell the Clave. Tell Lucian Graymark. ” She caught Clary’s surprised look. “People listen to him. My parents said so. ”
“Maybe you should come to the Hall with us,” Simon suggested. “Tell him yourself. ”
Aline shook her head. “I can’t face the Lightwoods. Especially Isabelle. She saved my life, and I—I just ran away. I couldn’t stop myself. I just ran. ”
“You were in shock. It’s not your fault. ”
Aline looked unconvinced. “And now her brother—” She broke off, biting her lip again. “Anyway. Look, there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you, Clary. ”
“To tell me?” Clary was baffled.
“Yes. ” Aline took a deep breath. “Look, what you walked in on, with me and Jace, it wasn’t anything. I kissed him. It was—an experiment. And it didn’t really work. ”
Clary felt herself blushing what she thought must be a truly spectacular red. Why is she telling me this? “Look, it’s okay. It’s Jace’s business, not mine. ”
“Well, you seemed pretty upset at the time. ” A small smile played around the corners of Aline’s mouth. “And I think I know why. ”
Clary swallowed against the acid taste in her mouth. “You do?”
“Look, your brother gets around. Everyone knows that; he’s dated lots of girls. You were worried that if he messed around with me, he’d get in trouble. After all, our families are—were—friends. You don’t need to worry, though. He’s not my type. ”
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard a girl say that before,” said Simon. “I thought Jace was the kind of guy who was everyone’s type. ”
“I thought so too,” Aline said slowly, “which is why I kissed him. I was trying to figure out if any guy is my type. ”
She kissed Jace, Clary thought. He didn’t kiss her. She kissed him. She met Simon’s eyes over Aline’s head. Simon was looking amused. “Well, what’d you decide?”
Aline shrugged. “Not sure yet. But, hey, at least you don’t have Jace to worry about. ”
If only. “I always have Jace to worry about. ”
The space inside the Hall of Accords had been swiftly reconfigured since the night of the battle. With the Gard gone it now served as a Council chamber, a gathering place for people looking for missing family members, and a place to learn the latest news. The central fountain was dry, and on either side of it long benches were drawn up in rows facing a raised dais at the far end of the room. While some Nephilim were seated on the benches in what looked like a Council session, in the aisles and beneath the arcades that ringed the great room dozens of other Shadowhunters were milling anxiously. The Hall no longer looked like a place where anyone would consider dancing. There was a peculiar atmosphere in the air, a mixture of tension and anticipation.
Despite the gathering of the Clave in the center, murmured conversations were everywhere. Clary caught snippets of chatter as she and Simon moved through the room: The demon towers were working again. The wards were back up, but weaker than before. The wards were back up, but stronger than before. Demons had been sighted on the hills south of the city. The country houses were abandoned, more families had left the city, and some had left the Clave altogether.
On the raised dais, surrounded by hanging maps of the city, stood the Consul, glowering like a bodyguard beside a short, plump man in gray. The plump man was gesticulating angrily as he spoke, but no one seemed to be paying any attention.
“Oh, crap, that’s the Inquisitor,” Simon muttered in Clary’s ear, pointing. “Aldertree. ”
“And there’s Luke,” Clary said, picking him out from the crowd. He stood near the dry fountain, deep in conversation with a man in heavily scuffed gear and a bandage covering the left half of his face. Clary looked around for Amatis and finally saw her, sitting silently at the end of a bench, as far away from the other Shadowhunters as she could get. She caught sight of Clary and made a startled face, beginning to rise to her feet.
Luke saw Clary, frowned, and spoke to the bandaged man in a low voice, excusing himself. He crossed the room to where Clary and Simon stood by one of the pillars, his frown deepening as he approached. “What are you doing here? You know the Clave doesn’t allow children into its meetings, and as for you—” He glared at Simon. “It’s probably not the best idea for you to show your face in front of the Inquisitor, even if there isn’t really anything he can do about it. ” A smile twitched the corner of his mouth. “Not without jeopardizing any alliance the Clave might want to have with Downworlders in the future, anyway. ”
“That’s right. ” Simon wiggled his fingers in a wave at the Inquisitor, which Aldertree ignored.
“Simon, stop it. We’re here for a reason. ” Clary thrust the photographs of Sebastian at Luke. “This is Sebastian Verlac. The real Sebastian Verlac. ”
Luke’s expression darkened. He shuffled through the photos without saying anything as Clary repeated the story Aline had told her. Simon, meanwhile, stood uneasily, glowering across the room at Aldertree, who was studiously ignoring him.
“So does the real Sebastian look much like the imposter version?” Luke asked finally.
“Not really,” Clary said. “The fake Sebastian was taller. And I think he was probably blond, because he was definitely dyeing his hair. No one has hair that black. ” And the dye came off on my fingers when I touched it, she thought, but kept the thought to herself. “Anyway, Aline wanted us to show these to you and to the Lightwoods. She thought maybe if they knew he wasn’t really related to the Penhallows, then—”
“She hasn’t told her parents about these, has she?” Luke indicated the photos.
“Not yet, I think,” Clary said. “I think she came straight to me. She wanted me to tell you. She said people listen to you. ”
“Maybe some of them do. ” Luke glanced back at the man with the bandaged face. “I was just talking to Patrick Penhallow, actually. Valentine was a good friend of his back in the day and may have kept tabs on the Penhallow family in one way or another in the years since. You said Hodge told you he had spies here. ” He handed the photos back to Clary. “Unfortunately, the Lightwoods aren’t going to be part of the Council today. This morning was Max’s funeral. They’re most likely in the cemetery. ” Seeing the look on Clary’s face, he added, “It was a very small ceremony, Clary. Just the family. ”
But I am Jace’s family, said a small, protesting voice inside her head. But there was another voice, a louder one, surprising her with its bitterness. And he told you that being around you was like bleeding to death slowly. Do you really think he needs that when he’s already at Max’s funeral?
“Then you can tell them tonight, maybe,” Clary said. “I mean—I think it’ll be good news. Whoever Sebastian really is, he isn’t related to their friends. ”
“It’d be better news if we knew where he was,” Luke muttered. “Or what other spies Valentine has here. There must have been several of them, at least, involved in taking down the wards. It could only have been done from inside the city. ”
“Hodge said Valentine had figured out how to do it,” said Simon. “He said that you need demon blood to take the wards down, but that there was no way to get demon blood into the city. Except that Valentine had figured out a way. ”
“Someone painted a rune in demon blood on the apex of one of the towers,” Luke said with a sigh, “so, clearly, Hodge was right. Unfortunately, the Clave has always trusted too much in their wards. But even the cleverest puzzle has a solution. ”
“It seems to me like the sort of clever that gets your butt kicked in gaming,” Simon said. “The second you protect your fortress with a Spell of Total Invincibility, someone comes along and figures out how to trash the place. ”
“Simon,” Clary said. “Shut up. ”
“He’s not so far off,” said Luke. “We just don’t know how they got demon blood into the city without setting the wards off in the first place. ” He shrugged. “It’s the least of our problems at the moment. The wards are back up, but we already know they’re not foolproof. Valentine could return at any moment with an even bigger force of arms, and I doubt we could fight him off. There aren’t enough Nephilim, and those who are here are utterly demoralized. ”
“But what about the Downworlders?” Clary said. “You told the Consul that the Clave had to fight with the Downworlders. ”
“I can tell Malachi and Aldertree that until I’m blue in the face, but it doesn’t mean they’ll listen,” Luke said wearily. “The only reason they’re even letting me stay here is because the Clave voted to keep me on as an adviser. And they only did that because quite a few of them had their lives saved by my pack. But that doesn’t mean they want more Downworlders in Idris—”
Amatis was on her feet, her hand over her mouth, staring toward the front of the Hall. A man stood in the doorway, framed in the glow of the sunlight outside. He was only a silhouette, until he took a step forward, into the Hall, and Clary could see his face for the first time.
For some reason the first thing Clary noticed was that he was clean-shaven. It made him look younger, more like the angry boy in the memories Ithuriel had showed her. Instead of battle dress, he wore an elegantly cut pin-striped suit and a tie. He was unarmed. He could have been any man walking down the streets of Manhattan. He could have been anyone’s father.
He didn’t look toward Clary, didn’t acknowledge her presence at all. His eyes were on Luke as he walked up the narrow aisle between the benches.
How could he come in here like this without any weapons? Clary wondered, and had her question answered a moment later: Inquisitor Aldertree made a noise like a wounded bear; tore himself away from Malachi, who was trying to hold him back; staggered down the dais steps; and hurled himself at Valentine.
He passed through Valentine’s body like a knife tearing through paper. Valentine turned to watch Aldertree with an expression of bland interest as the Inquisitor staggered, collided with a pillar, and sprawled awkwardly to the ground. The Consul, following, bent to help him to his feet—there was a look of barely concealed disgust on his face as he did it, and Clary wondered if the disgust was directed at Valentine or at Aldertree for acting like such a fool.
Another faint murmur carried around the room. The Inquisitor squeaked and struggled like a rat in a trap, Malachi holding him firmly by the arms as Valentine proceeded into the room without another glance at either of them. The Shadowhunters who had been clustered around the benches drew back, like the waves of the Red Sea parting for Moses, leaving a clear path down the center of the room. Clary shivered as he drew closer to where she stood with Luke and Simon. He’s only a Projection, she told herself. Not really here. He can’t hurt you.
Beside her Simon shuddered. Clary took his hand just as Valentine paused at the steps of the dais and turned to look directly at her. His eyes raked her once, casually, as if taking her measure; passed over Simon entirely; and came to rest on Luke.
“Lucian,” he said.
Luke returned his gaze, steady and level, saying nothing. It was the first time they had been together in the same room since Renwick’s, Clary thought, and then Luke had been half-dead from fighting and covered in blood. It was easier now to mark both the differences and the similarities between the two men: Luke in his ragged flannel and jeans, and Valentine in his beautiful and expensive-looking suit; Luke with a day’s worth of stubble and gray in his hair, and Valentine looking much as he had when he was twenty-five—only colder, somehow, and harder, as if the passing years were in the process of turning him slowly to stone.
“I hear the Clave has brought you onto the Council now,” Valentine said. “It would only be fitting for a Clave diluted by corruption and pandering to find itself infiltrated by half-breed degenerates. ” His voice was placid, even cheerful—so much so that it was hard to feel the poison in his words, or to really believe that he meant them. His gaze moved back to Clary. “Clarissa,” he said, “here with the vampire, I see. When things have settled a bit, we really must discuss your choice of pets. ”
A low growling noise came from Simon’s throat. Clary gripped his hand, hard—hard enough that there would have been a time he’d have jerked away in pain. Now he didn’t seem to feel it. “Don’t,” she whispered. “Just don’t. ”
Valentine had already turned his attention away from them. He climbed the dais steps and turned to gaze down at the crowd. “So many familiar faces,” he observed. “Patrick. Malachi. Amatis. ”
Amatis stood rigid, her eyes bright with hatred.
The Inquisitor was still struggling in Malachi’s grasp. Valentine’s gaze flicked over him, half-amused. “Even you, Aldertree. I hear you were indirectly responsible for the death of my old friend Hodge Starkweather. A pity, that. ”
Luke found his voice. “You admit it, then,” he said. “You brought the wards down. You sent the demons. ”
“I sent them,” said Valentine. “I can send more. Surely the Clave—even the Clave, stupid as they are—must have expected this? You expected it, didn’t you, Lucian?”
Luke’s eyes were gravely blue. “I did. But I know you, Valentine. So have you come to bargain, or to gloat?”
“Neither. ” Valentine regarded the silent crowd. “I have no need to bargain,” he said, and though his tone was calm, his voice carried as if amplified. “And no desire to gloat. I don’t enjoy causing the deaths of Shadowhunters; there are precious few of us already, in a world that needs us desperately. But that’s how the Clave likes it, isn’t it? It’s just another one of their nonsensical rules, the rules they use to grind ordinary Shadowhunters into the dust. I did what I did because I had to. I did what I did because it was the only way to make the Clave listen. Shadowhunters didn’t die because of me; they died because the Clave ignored me. ” He met Aldertree’s eyes across the crowd; the Inquisitor’s face was white and twitching. “So many of you here were once in my Circle,” said Valentine slowly. “I speak to you now, and to those who knew of the Circle but stood outside it. Do you remember what I predicted fifteen years ago? That unless we acted against the Accords, the city of Alicante, our own precious capital, would be overrun by slobbering, slavering crowds of half-breeds, the degenerate races trampling underfoot everything we hold dear? And just as I predicted, all that has come to pass. The Gard burned to the ground, the Portal destroyed, our streets awash with monsters. Half-human scum presuming to lead us. So, my friends, my enemies, my brothers under the Angel, I ask you—do you believe me now?” His voice rose to a shout. “DO YOU BELIEVE ME NOW?”
His gaze swept the room as if he expected an answer. There was none—only a sea of staring faces.
“Valentine. ” Luke’s voice, though soft, broke the silence. “Can’t you see what you’ve done? The Accords you dreaded so much didn’t make Downworlders equal to Nephilim. They didn’t assure half humans a spot on the Council. All the old hatreds were still in place. You should have trusted to those, but you didn’t—you couldn’t—and now you’ve given us the one thing that could possibly have united us all. ” His eyes sought Valentine’s. “A common enemy. ”
A flush passed over Valentine’s pale face. “I am not an enemy. Not of Nephilim. You are that. You’re the one trying to entice them into a hopeless fight. You think those demons you saw are all I have? They were a fraction of what I can summon. ”
“There are more of us as well,” said Luke. “More Nephilim, and more Downworlders. ”
“Downworlders,” Valentine sneered. “They will run at the first sign of true danger. Nephilim are born to be warriors, to protect this world, but the world hates your kind. There is a reason clean silver burns you, and daylight scorches the Night Children. ”
“It doesn’t scorch me,” Simon said in a hard, clear voice, despite the grip of Clary’s hand. “Here I am, standing in sunlight—”
But Valentine just laughed. “I’ve seen you choke on the name of God, vampire,” he said. “As for why you can stand in the sunlight—” He broke off and grinned. “You’re an anomaly, perhaps. A freak. But still a monster. ”
A monster. Clary thought of Valentine on the ship, of what he had said there: Your mother told me that I had turned her first child into a monster. She left me before I could do the same to her second.
Jace. The thought of his name was a sharp pain. After what Valentine did, he stands here talking about monsters—
“The only monster here,” she said, despite herself and despite her resolution to keep silent, “is you. I saw Ithuriel,” she went on when he turned to look at her in surprise. “I know everything—”
“I doubt that,” Valentine said. “If you did, you’d keep your mouth shut. For your brother’s sake, if not your own. ”
Don’t you even talk about Jace to me! Clary wanted to shout, but another voice came to cut hers off, a cool, unexpected female voice, fearless and bitter.
“And what about my brother?” Amatis moved to stand at the foot of the dais, looking up at Valentine. Luke started in surprise and shook his head at her, but she ignored him.
Valentine frowned. “What about Lucian?” Amatis’s question, Clary sensed, had unsettled him, or maybe it was just that Amatis was there, asking, confronting him. He had written her off years ago as weak, unlikely to challenge him. Valentine never liked it when people surprised him.
“You told me he wasn’t my brother anymore,” said Amatis. “You took Stephen away from me. You destroyed my family. You say you aren’t an enemy of Nephilim, but you set each of us against each other, family against family, wrecking lives without compunction. You say you hate the Clave, but you’re the one who made them what they are now—petty and paranoid. We used to trust one another, we Nephilim. You changed that. I will never forgive you for it. ” Her voice shook. “Or for making me treat Lucian as if he were no longer my brother. I won’t forgive you for that, either. Nor will I forgive myself for listening to you. ”
“Amatis—” Luke took a step forward, but his sister put up a hand to stop him. Her eyes were shining with tears, but her back was straight, her voice firm and unwavering.
“There was a time we were all willing to listen to you, Valentine,” she said. “And we all have that on our conscience. But no more. No more. That time is over. Is there anyone here who disagrees with me?”
Clary jerked her head up and looked out at the gathered Shadowhunters: They looked to her like a rough sketch of a crowd, with white blurs for faces. She saw Patrick Penhallow, his jaw set; and the Inquisitor, who was shaking like a frail tree in a high wind. And Malachi, whose dark, polished face was strangely unreadable.
No one said a word.
If Clary had expected Valentine to be angry at this lack of response from the Nephilim he had hoped to lead, she was disappointed. Other than a twitch in the muscle of his jaw, he was expressionless. As if he had expected this response. As if he had planned for it.
“Very well,” he said. “If you will not listen to reason, you will have to listen to force. I have already showed you I can take down the wards around your city. I see that you’ve put them back up, but that’s of no consequence; I can easily do it again. You will either accede to my requirements or face every demon the Mortal Sword can summon. I will tell them not to spare a single one of you, not a man, woman, or child. It’s your choice. ”
A murmur swept around the room; Luke was staring. “You would deliberately destroy your own kind, Valentine?”
“Sometimes diseased plants must be culled to preserve the whole garden,” said Valentine. “And if all are diseased …” He turned to face the horrified crowd. “It is your choice,” he went on. “I have the Mortal Cup. If I must, I will start over with a new world of Shadowhunters, created and taught by me. But I can give you this one chance. If the Clave will sign over all the powers of the Council to me and accept my unequivocal sovereignty and rule, I will stay my hand. All Shadowhunters will swear an oath of obedience and accept a permanent loyalty rune that binds them to me. These are my terms. ”
There was silence. Amatis had her hand over her mouth; the rest of the room swung before Clary’s eyes in a whirling blur. They can’t give in to him, she thought. They can’t. But what choice did they have? What choice did any of them ever have? They are trapped by Valentine, she thought dully, as surely as Jace and I are trapped by what he made us. We are all chained to him by our own blood.
It was only a moment, though it felt like an hour to Clary, before a thin voice cut through the silence—the high, spidery voice of the Inquisitor. “Sovereignty and rule?” he shrieked. “Your rule?”
“Aldertree—” The Consul moved to restrain him, but the Inquisitor was too quick. He wriggled free and darted toward the dais. He was yelping something, the same words over and over, as if he’d lost his mind entirely, his eyes rolled back practically to the whites. He thrust Amatis aside, staggering up the steps of the dais to face Valentine. “I am the Inquisitor, do you understand, the Inquisitor!” he shouted. “I am part of the Clave! The Council! I make the rules, not you! I rule, not you! I won’t let you do this, you upstart, demon-loving slime—”
With a look very close to boredom, Valentine reached out a hand, almost as if he meant to touch the Inquisitor on the shoulder. But Valentine couldn’t touch anything—he was just a Projection—and then Clary gasped as Valentine’s hand passed through the Inquisitor’s skin, bones and flesh, vanishing into his rib cage. There was a second—only a second—during which the whole Hall seemed to gape at Valentine’s left arm, buried somehow, impossibly, wrist-deep in Aldertree’s chest. Then Valentine jerked his wrist hard and suddenly to the left—a twisting motion, as if he were turning a stubbornly rusty doorknob.
The Inquisitor gave a single cry and dropped like a stone.
Valentine drew his hand back. It was slicked with blood, a scarlet glove reaching halfway to his elbow, staining the expensive wool of his suit. Lowering his bloody hand, he gazed out across the horrified crowd, his eyes coming to rest at last on Luke. He spoke slowly. “I will give you until tomorrow at midnight to consider my terms. At that time I will bring my army, in all its force, to Brocelind Plain. If I have not yet received a message of surrender from the Clave, I will march with my army here to Alicante, and this time we will leave nothing living. You have that long to consider my terms. Use the time wisely. ”
And with that, he vanished.