Chapter 19: PENIEL
MAIA WAS SILENT MOST OF THE WAY TO THE FOREST, KEEPING her head down and glancing from side to side only occasionally, her nose wrinkled in concentration. Simon wondered if she was smelling their way, and he decided that although that might be a little weird, it certainly counted as a useful talent. He also found that he didn’t have to hurry to keep up with her, no matter how fast she moved. Even when they reached the beaten-down path that led into the forest and Maia started to run—swiftly, quietly, and staying low to the ground—he had no trouble matching her pace. It was one thing about being a vampire that he could honestly say he enjoyed.
It was over too soon; the woods thickened and they were running among the trees, over scuffed, thick-rooted ground dense with fallen leaves. The branches overhead made lacelike patterns against the starlit sky. They emerged from the trees in a clearing strewn with large boulders that gleamed like square white teeth. There were heaped piles of leaves here and there, as if someone had been over the place with a gigantic rake.
“Raphael!” Maia had cupped her hands around her mouth and was calling out in a voice loud enough to startle the birds out of the treetops high overhead. “Raphael, show yourself!”
Silence. Then the shadows rustled; there was a soft pattering sound, like rain hitting a tin roof. The piled leaves on the ground blew up into the air in tiny cyclones. Simon heard Maia cough; she had her hands up, as if to brush the leaves away from her face, her eyes.
As suddenly as the wind had come up, it settled. Raphael stood there, only a few feet from Simon. Surrounding him was a group of vampires, pale and still as trees in the moonlight. Their expressions were cold, stripped down to a bare hostility. He recognized some of them from the Hotel Dumort: the petite Lily and the blond Jacob, his eyes as narrow as knives. But just as many of them he had never seen before.
Raphael stepped forward. His skin was sallow, his eyes ringed with black shadow, but he smiled when he saw Simon.
“Daylighter,” he breathed. “You came. ”
“I came,” Simon said. “I’m here, so—it’s done. ”
“It’s far from done, Daylighter. ” Raphael looked toward Maia. “Lycanthrope,” he said. “Return to your pack leader and thank him for changing his mind. Tell him that the Night Children will fight beside his people on Brocelind Plain. ”
Maia’s face was tight. “Luke didn’t change—”
Simon interrupted her hastily. “It’s fine, Maia. Go. ”
Her eyes were luminous and sad. “Simon, think,” she said. “You don’t have to do this. ”
“Yes, I do. ” His tone was firm. “Maia, thank you so much for bringing me here. Now go. ”
He dropped his voice. “If you don’t go, they’ll kill us both, and all this will have been for nothing. Go. Please. ”
She nodded and turned away, Changing as she turned, so that one moment she was a slight human girl, her bead-tied braids bouncing on her shoulders, and the next she had hit the ground running on all fours, a swift and silent wolf. She darted from the clearing and vanished into the shadows.
Simon turned back to the vampires—and almost shouted out loud; Raphael was standing directly in front of him, inches away. Up close his skin bore the telltale dark traceries of hunger. Simon thought of that night in the Hotel Dumort—faces appearing out of shadow, fleeting laughter, the smell of blood—and shivered.
Raphael reached out to Simon and took hold of his shoulders, the grip of his deceptively slight hands like iron. “Turn your head,” he said, “and look at the stars; it will be easier that way. ”
“So you are going to kill me,” Simon said. To his surprise he didn’t feel afraid, or even particularly agitated; everything seemed to have slowed down to a perfect clarity. He was simultaneously aware of every leaf on the branches above him, every tiny pebble on the ground, every pair of eyes that rested on him.
“What did you think?” Raphael said—a little sadly, Simon thought. “It’s not personal, I assure you. It’s as I said before—you are too dangerous to be allowed to continue as you are. If I had known what you’d become—”
“You’d never have let me crawl out of that grave. I know,” said Simon.
Raphael met his eyes. “Everyone does what they must to survive. In that way even we are just like humans. ” His needle teeth slid from their sheaths like delicate razors. “Hold still,” he said. “This will be quick. ” He leaned forward.
“Wait,” Simon said, and when Raphael drew back with a scowl, he said it again, with more force: “Wait. There’s something I have to show you. ”
Raphael made a low hissing sound. “You had better be doing more than trying to delay me, Daylighter. ”
“I am. There’s something I thought you should see. ” Simon reached up and brushed the hair back from his forehead. It felt like a foolish, even theatrical, gesture, but as he did it, he saw Clary’s desperate white face as she stared up at him, the stele in her hand, and thought, Well, for her sake, at least I’ve tried.
The effect on Raphael was both startling and instantaneous. He jerked back as if Simon had brandished a crucifix at him, his eyes widening. “Daylighter,” he spat, “who did this to you?”
Simon only stared. He wasn’t sure what reaction he’d expected, but it hadn’t been this one.
“Clary,” Raphael said, answering his own inquiry, “of course. Only a power like hers would allow this—a vampire, Marked, and with a Mark like that one—”
“A Mark like what?” said Jacob, the slender blond boy standing just behind Raphael. The rest of the vampires were staring as well, with expressions that mingled confusion and a growing fear. Anything that frightened Raphael, Simon thought, was sure to frighten them, too.
“This Mark,” Raphael said, still looking only at Simon, “is not one of those from the Gray Book. It is an even older Mark than that. One of the ancients, drawn by the Maker’s own hand. ” He made as if to touch Simon’s forehead but didn’t seem quite able to bring himself to do it; his hand hovered for a moment, then fell to his side. “Such Marks are mentioned, but I have never seen one. And this one …”
Simon said, “‘Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a Mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. ’ You can try to kill me, Raphael. But I wouldn’t advise it. ”
“The Mark of Cain?” Jacob said in disbelief. “This Mark on you is the Mark of Cain?”
“Kill him,” said a redheaded female vampire who stood close to Jacob. She spoke with a heavy accent—Russian, Simon thought, though he wasn’t sure. “Kill him anyway. ”
Raphael’s expression was a mix of fury and disbelief. “I will not,” he said. “Any harm done to him will rebound upon the doer sevenfold. That is the nature of the Mark. Of course, if any of you would like to be the one to take that risk, by all means, be my guest. ”
No one spoke or moved.
“I thought not,” said Raphael. His eyes raked Simon. “Like the evil queen in the fairy tale, Lucian Graymark has sent me a poisoned apple. I suppose he hoped I would harm you, and reap the punishment that would follow. ”
“No,” Simon said hastily. “No—Luke didn’t even know what I’d done. His gesture was made in good faith. You have to honor it. ”
“And so you chose this?” For the first time there was something other than contempt, Simon thought, in the way Raphael was looking at him. “This is no simple protection spell, Daylighter. Do you know what Cain’s punishment was?” He spoke softly, as if sharing a secret with Simon. “‘And now thou art cursed from the earth. A fugitive and a wanderer shalt thou be. ’”
“Then,” Simon said, “I’ll wander, if that’s what it comes to. I’ll do what I have to do. ”
“All this,” said Raphael, “all this for Nephilim. ”
“Not just for Nephilim,” said Simon. “I’m doing this for you, too. Even if you don’t want it. ” He raised his voice so that the silent vampires surrounding them could hear him. “You were worried that if other vampires knew what had happened to me, they’d think Shadowhunter blood could let them walk in the daylight too. But that’s not why I have this power. It was something Valentine did. An experiment. He caused this, not Jace. And it isn’t replicable. It won’t ever happen again. ”
“I imagine he is telling the truth,” said Jacob, to Simon’s surprise. “I’ve certainly known one or two of the Night Children who’ve had a taste of Shadowhunter in the past. None of them developed a fondness for sunlight. ”
“It was one thing to refuse to help the Shadowhunters before,” said Simon, turning back to Raphael, “but now, now that they’ve sent me to you—” He let the rest of the sentence hang in the air, unfinished.
“Don’t try to blackmail me, Daylighter,” said Raphael. “Once the Night Children have made a bargain, they honor it, no matter how badly they are dealt with. ” He smiled slightly, needle teeth gleaming in the dark. “There is just one thing,” he said. “One last act I require from you to prove that indeed you acted here in good faith. ” The stress he put on the last two words was weighted with cold.
“What’s that?” Simon asked.
“We will not be the only vampires to fight in Lucian Graymark’s battle,” Raphael said. “So will you. ”
Jace opened his eyes on a silver whirlpool. His mouth was filled with bitter liquid. He coughed, wondering for a moment if he was drowning—but if so, it was on dry land. He was sitting upright with his back against a stalagmite, and his hands were bound behind him. He coughed again and salt filled his mouth. He wasn’t drowning, he realized, just choking on blood.
“Awake, little brother?” Sebastian knelt in front of him, a length of rope in his hands, his grin like an unsheathed knife. “Good. I was afraid for a moment that I’d killed you a bit too early. ”
Jace turned his head to the side and spat a mouthful of blood onto the ground. His head felt as if a balloon were being inflated inside it, pressing against the interior of his skull. The silvery whirling above his head slowed and stilled to the bright pattern of stars visible through the hole in the cave roof. “Waiting for a special occasion to kill me? Christmas is coming. ”
Sebastian gave Jace a thoughtful look. “You have a smart mouth. You didn’t learn that from Valentine. What did you learn from him? It doesn’t seem to me that he taught you much about fighting, either. ” He leaned closer. “You know what he gave me for my ninth birthday? A lesson. He taught me that there’s a place on a man’s back where, if you sink a blade in, you can pierce his heart and sever his spine, all at once. What did you get for your ninth birthday, little angel boy? A cookie?”
Ninth birthday? Jace swallowed hard. “So tell me, what hole was he keeping you in while I was growing up? Because I don’t remember seeing you around the manor. ”
“I grew up in this valley. ” Sebastian jerked his chin toward the cave exit. “I don’t remember seeing you around here either, come to think of it. Although I knew about you. I bet you didn’t know about me. ”
Jace shook his head. “Valentine wasn’t much given to bragging about you. I can’t imagine why. ”
Sebastian’s eyes flashed. It was easy to see, now, the resemblance to Valentine: the same unusual combination of silver-white hair and black eyes, the same fine bones that in another, less strongly molded face would have looked delicate. “I knew all about you,” he said. “But you don’t know anything, do you?” Sebastian got to his feet. “I wanted you alive to watch this, little brother,” he said. “So watch, and watch carefully. ” With a movement so fast it was almost invisible, he drew the sword from its sheath at his waist. It had a silver hilt, and like the Mortal Sword it glowed with a dull dark light. A pattern of stars was etched into the surface of the black blade; it caught the true starlight as Sebastian turned the blade, and burned like fire.
Jace held his breath. He wondered if Sebastian merely meant to kill him; but no, Sebastian would have killed him already, while he was unconscious, if that were his intention. Jace watched as Sebastian moved toward the center of the chamber, the sword held lightly in his hand, though it looked to be quite heavy. His mind was whirling. How could Valentine have another son? Who was his mother? Someone else in the Circle? Was he older or younger than Jace?
Sebastian had reached the huge red-tinged stalagmite in the center of the room. It seemed to pulse as he approached, and the smoke inside it swirled faster. Sebastian half-closed his eyes and lifted the blade. He said something—a word in a harsh-sounding demon language—and brought the sword across, hard and fast, in a slicing arc.
The top of the stalagmite sheared away. Inside, it was hollow as a test tube, filled with a mass of black and red smoke, which swirled upward like gas escaping a punctured balloon. There was a roar—less a sound than a sort of explosive pressure. Jace felt his ears pop. It was suddenly hard to breathe. He wanted to claw at the neck of his shirt, but he couldn’t move his hands: They were tied too tightly behind him.
Sebastian was half-hidden behind the pouring column of red and black. It was coiling, swirling upward—“Watch!” he cried, his face glowing. His eyes were alight, his white hair whipping on the rising wind, and Jace wondered if his father had looked like that when he was young: terrible and yet somehow fascinating. “Watch and behold Valentine’s army!”
His voice was drowned out then by the sound. It was a sound like the tide crashing up the shore, the breaking of an enormous wave, carrying massive detritus with it, the smashed bones of whole cities, the onrush of a great and evil power. A huge column of twisting, rushing, flapping blackness poured from the smashed stalagmite, funneling up through the air, pouring toward—and through—the torn gap in the cavern roof. Demons. They rose shrieking, howling, and snarling, a boiling mass of claws and talons and teeth and burning eyes. Jace recalled standing on the deck of Valentine’s ship as the sky and earth and sea all around turned to nightmare; this was worse. It was as if the earth had torn open and hell had poured through. The demons carried a stench like a thousand rotting corpses. Jace’s hands twisted against each other, twisted until the ropes cut into his wrists and they bled. A sour taste rose in his mouth, and he choked helplessly on blood and bile as the last of the demons rose and vanished overhead, a dark flood of horror, blotting out the stars.
Jace thought he might have passed out for a minute or two. Certainly there was a period of blackness during which the shrieking and howling overhead faded and he seemed to hang in space, pinned between the earth and the sky, feeling a sense of detachment that was somehow … peaceful.
It was over too soon. Suddenly he was slammed back into his body, his wrists in agony, his shoulders straining backward, the stench of demon so heavy in the air that he turned his head aside and retched helplessly onto the ground. He heard a dry chuckle and looked up, swallowing hard against the acid in his throat. Sebastian knelt over him, his legs straddling Jace’s, his eyes shining. “It’s all right, little brother,” he said. “They’re gone. ”
Jace’s eyes were streaming, his throat scraped raw. His voice came out a croak. “He said midnight. Valentine said to open the gate at midnight. It can’t be midnight yet. ”
“I always figure it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission in these sorts of situations. ” Sebastian glanced up at the now empty sky. “It should take them five minutes to reach Brocelind Plain from here, quite a bit less time than it will Father to reach the lake. I want to see some Nephilim blood spilled. I want them to writhe and die on the ground. They deserve shame before they get oblivion. ”
“Do you really think that the Nephilim have so little chance against demons? It’s not as if they’re unprepared—”
Sebastian dismissed him with a flick of his wrist. “I thought you were listening to us. Didn’t you understand the plan? Don’t you know what my father’s going to do?”
Jace said nothing.
“It was good of you,” said Sebastian, “to lead me to Hodge that night. If he hadn’t revealed that the Mirror we sought was Lake Lyn, I’m not sure this night would have been possible. Because anyone who bears the first two Mortal Instruments and stands before the Mortal Glass can summon the Angel Raziel out of it, just as Jonathan Shadowhunter did a thousand years ago. And once you’ve summoned the Angel, you can demand of him one thing. One task. One … favor. ”
“A favor?” Jace felt cold all over. “And Valentine is going to demand the defeat of the Shadowhunters at Brocelind?”
Sebastian stood up. “That would be a waste,” he said. “No. He’s going to demand that all Shadowhunters who have not drunk from the Mortal Cup—all those who are not his followers—be stripped of their powers. They will no longer be Nephilim. And as such, bearing the Marks they do …” He smiled. “They will become Forsaken, easy prey for the demons, and those Downworlders who have not fled will be quickly eradicated. ”
Jace’s ears were ringing with a harsh, tinny sound. He felt dizzy. “Even Valentine,” he said, “even Valentine would never do that—”
“Please,” said Sebastian. “Do you really think my father won’t go through with what he’s planned?”
“Our father,” Jace said.
Sebastian glanced down at him. His hair was a white halo; he looked like the sort of bad angel who might have followed Lucifer out of heaven. “Pardon me,” he said, with some amusement. “Are you praying?”
“No. I said our father. I meant Valentine. Not your father. Ours. ”
For a moment Sebastian was expressionless; then his mouth quirked up at the corner, and he grinned. “Little angel boy,” he said. “You’re a fool, aren’t you—just like my father always said. ”
“Why do you keep calling me that?” Jace demanded. “Why are you blathering about angels—”
“God,” said Sebastian, “you don’t know anything, do you? Did my father ever say a word to you that wasn’t a lie?”
Jace shook his head. He’d been pulling at the ropes binding his wrists, but every time he jerked at them, they seemed to get tighter. He could feel the pounding of his pulse in each of his fingers. “How do you know he wasn’t lying to you?”
“Because I am his blood. I am just like him. When he’s gone, I’ll rule the Clave after him. ”
“I wouldn’t brag about being just like him if I were you. ”
“There’s that, too. ” Sebastian’s voice was emotionless. “I don’t pretend to be anything other than I am. I don’t behave as if I’m horrified that my father does what he needs to do to save his people, even if they don’t want—or, if you ask me, deserve—saving. Who would you rather have for a son, a boy who’s proud that you’re his father or one who cowers from you in shame and fear?”
“I’m not afraid of Valentine,” said Jace.
“You shouldn’t be,” said Sebastian. “You should be afraid of me. ”
There was something in his voice that made Jace abandon his struggle against the bindings and look up. Sebastian was still holding his blackly gleaming sword. It was a dark, beautiful thing, Jace thought, even when Sebastian lowered the point of it so that it rested above Jace’s collarbone, just nicking his Adam’s apple.
Jace struggled to keep his voice steady. “So now what? You’re going to kill me while I’m tied up? Does the thought of fighting me scare you that much?”
Nothing, not a flicker of emotion, passed across Sebastian’s pale face. “You,” he said, “are not a threat to me. You’re a pest. An annoyance. ”
“Then why won’t you untie my hands?”
Sebastian, utterly still, stared at him. He looked like a statue, Jace thought, like the statue of some long-dead prince—someone who’d died young and spoiled. And that was the difference between Sebastian and Valentine; though they shared the same cold marble looks, Sebastian had an air about him of something ruined—something eaten away from the inside.
“I’m not a fool,” Sebastian said, “and you can’t bait me. I left you alive only long enough so that you could see the demons. When you die now, and return to your angel ancestors, you can tell them there is no place for them in this world anymore. They’ve failed the Clave, and the Clave no longer needs them. We have Valentine now. ”
“You’re killing me because you want me to give a message to God for you?” Jace shook his head, the point of the blade scraping across his throat. “You’re crazier than I thought. ”
Sebastian just smiled and pushed the blade in slightly deeper; when Jace swallowed, he could feel the point of it denting his windpipe. “If you have any real prayers, little brother, say them now. ”
“I don’t have any prayers,” said Jace. “I have a message, though. For our father. Will you give it to him?”
“Of course,” Sebastian said smoothly, but there was something in the way he said it, a flicker of hesitation before he spoke, that confirmed what Jace was already thinking.
“You’re lying,” he said. “You won’t give him the message, because you’re not going to tell him what you’ve done. He never asked you to kill me, and he won’t be happy when he finds out. ”
“Nonsense. You’re nothing to him. ”
“You think he’ll never know what happened to me if you kill me now, here. You can tell him I died in the battle, or he’ll just assume that’s what happened. But you’re wrong if you think he won’t know. Valentine always knows. ”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Sebastian said, but his face had tightened.
Jace kept talking, pressing home his advantage. “You can’t hide what you’re doing, though. There’s a witness. ”
“A witness?” Sebastian looked almost surprised, which Jace counted as something of a victory. “What are you talking about?”
“The raven,” Jace said. “He’s been watching from the shadows. He’ll tell Valentine everything. ”
“Hugin?” Sebastian’s gaze snapped up, and though the raven was nowhere to be seen, Sebastian’s face when he glanced back down at Jace was full of doubt.
“If Valentine knows you murdered me while I was tied up and helpless, he’ll be disgusted with you,” Jace said, and he heard his own voice drop into his father’s cadences, the way Valentine spoke when he wanted something: soft and persuasive. “He’ll call you a coward. He’ll never forgive you. ”
Sebastian said nothing. He was staring down at Jace, his lips twitching, and hatred boiled behind his eyes like poison.
“Untie me,” Jace said softly. “Untie me and fight me. It’s the only way. ”
Sebastian’s lip twitched again, hard, and this time Jace thought he had gone too far. Sebastian drew the sword back and raised it, and the moonlight burst off it in a thousand silver shards, silver as the stars, silver as the color of his hair. He bared his teeth—and the sword’s whistling breath cut the night air with a scream as he brought it down in a whirling arc.
Clary sat on the steps of the dais in the Hall of Accords, holding the stele in her hands. She had never felt quite so alone. The Hall was utterly, totally empty. Clary had looked everywhere for Isabelle once the fighters had all passed through the Portal, but she hadn’t been able to find her. Aline had told her that Isabelle was probably back at the Penhallows’ house, where Aline and a few other teenagers were meant to be looking after at least a dozen children under fighting age. She’d tried to get Clary to go there with her, but Clary had declined. If she couldn’t find Isabelle, she’d rather be alone than with near strangers. Or so she’d thought. But sitting here, she found the silence and the emptiness becoming more and more oppressive. Still, she hadn’t moved. She was trying as hard as she could not to think of Jace, not to think of Simon, not to think of her mother or Luke or Alec—and the only way not to think, she had found, was to remain motionless and to stare at a single square of marble on the floor instead, counting the cracks in it, over and over.
There were six. One, two, three. Four, five, six. She finished the count and started again, from the beginning. One—
The sky overhead exploded.
Or at least that was what it sounded like. Clary threw her head back and stared upward, through the clear roof of the Hall. The sky had been dark a moment ago; now it was a roiling mass of flame and blackness, shot through with an ugly orange light. Things moved against that light—hideous things she didn’t want to see, things that made her grateful to the darkness for obscuring her view. The occasional glimpse was bad enough.
The transparent skylight overhead rippled and bent as the demon host passed, as if it were being warped by tremendous heat. At last there was a sound like a gunshot, and a huge crack appeared in the glass, spiderwebbing out into countless fissures. Clary ducked, covering her head with her hands, as glass rained down around her like tears.
They were almost to the battlefield when the sound came, ripping the night in half. One moment the woods were as silent as they were dark. The next moment the sky was lit with a hellish orange glow. Simon staggered and nearly fell; he caught at a tree trunk to steady himself and looked up, barely able to believe what he was seeing. All around him the other vampires were staring up at the sky, their white faces like night-blooming flowers, lifting to catch the moonlight as nightmare after nightmare streaked across the sky.
“You keep passing out on me,” Sebastian said. “It’s extremely tedious. ”
Jace opened his eyes. Pain lanced through his head. He put his hand up to touch the side of his face—and realized his hands were no longer tied behind him. A length of rope trailed from his wrist. His hand came away from his face black—blood, dark in the moonlight.
He stared around him. They were no longer in the cavern: He was lying on soft dirt and grass on the valley floor, not far from the stone house. He could hear the sound of the water in the creek, clearly close by. Knotted tree branches overhead blocked some of the moonlight, but it was still fairly bright.
“Get up,” Sebastian said. “You have five seconds before I kill you where you are. ”
Jace stood as slowly as he thought he could get away with. He was still a little dizzy. Fighting for balance, he dug the heels of his boots into the soft dirt, trying to give himself some stability. “Why did you bring me out here?”
“Two reasons,” Sebastian said. “One, I enjoyed knocking you out. Two, it would be bad for either of us to get blood on the floor of that cavern. Trust me. And I intend to spill plenty of your blood. ”
Jace felt at his belt, and his heart sank. Either he’d dropped most of his weapons while Sebastian was dragging him through the tunnels, or, more likely, Sebastian had thrown them away. All he had left was a dagger. It was a short blade—too short, no match for the sword.
“Not much of a weapon, that. ” Sebastian grinned, white in the moon-dazzled darkness.
“I can’t fight with this,” Jace said, trying to sound as quavering and nervous as he could.
“What a shame. ” Sebastian came closer to Jace, grinning. He was holding his sword loosely, theatrically unconcerned, the tips of his fingers beating a light rhythm on the hilt. If there was ever going to be an opening for him, Jace thought, this was probably it. He swung his arm back and punched Sebastian as hard as he could in the face.
Bone crunched under his knuckles. The blow sent Sebastian sprawling. He skidded backward in the dirt, the sword flying from his grip. Jace caught it up as he darted forward, and a second later was standing over Sebastian, blade in hand.
Sebastian’s nose was bleeding, the blood a scarlet streak across his face. He reached up and pulled his collar aside, baring his pale throat. “So go ahead,” he said. “Kill me already. ”
Jace hesitated. He didn’t want to hesitate, but there it was: an annoying reluctance to kill anyone lying helpless on the ground in front of him. Jace remembered Valentine taunting him, back at Renwick’s, daring his son to kill him, and Jace hadn’t been able to do it. But Sebastian was a murderer. He’d killed Max and Hodge.
He raised the sword.
And Sebastian erupted off the ground, faster than the eye could follow. He seemed to fly into the air, performing an elegant backflip and landing gracefully on the grass barely a foot away. As he did, he kicked out, striking Jace’s hand. The kick sent the sword spinning out of Jace’s grasp. Sebastian caught it out of the air, laughing, and slashed out with the blade, whipping it toward Jace’s heart. Jace leaped backward and the blade split the air just in front of him, slicing his shirt open down the front. There was a stinging pain and Jace felt blood welling from a shallow slice across his chest.
Sebastian chuckled, advancing toward Jace, who backed up, fumbling his insufficient dagger out of his belt as he went. He looked around, desperately hoping there was something else he could use as a weapon—a long stick, anything. There was nothing around him but the grass, the river running by, and the trees above, spreading their thick branches overhead like a green net. Suddenly he remembered the Malachi Configuration the Inquisitor had trapped him in. Sebastian wasn’t the only one who could jump.
Sebastian slashed the sword toward him again, but Jace had already leaped—straight up into the air. The lowest tree branch was about twenty feet high; he caught at it, swinging himself up and over. Kneeling on the branch, he saw Sebastian, on the ground, spin around and look up. Jace flung the dagger and heard Sebastian shout. Breathless, he straightened up—
And Sebastian was suddenly on the branch beside him. His pale face was flushed angrily, his sword arm streaming blood. He had dropped the sword, evidently, in the grass, though that merely made them even, Jace thought, since his dagger was gone as well. He saw with some satisfaction that for the first time Sebastian looked angry—angry and surprised, as if a pet he’d thought was tame had bitten him.
“That was fun,” Sebastian said. “But now it’s over. ”
He flung himself at Jace, catching him around the waist, knocking him off the branch. They fell twenty feet through the air clutched together, tearing at each other—and hit the ground hard, hard enough that Jace saw stars behind his eyes. He grabbed for Sebastian’s injured arm and dug his fingers in; Sebastian yelled and backhanded Jace across the face. Jace’s mouth filled with salty blood; he gagged on it as they rolled through the dirt together, slamming punches into each other. He felt a sudden shock of icy cold; they’d rolled down the slight incline into the river and were lying half in, half out of the water. Sebastian gasped, and Jace took the opportunity to grab for the other boy’s throat and close his hands around it, squeezing. Sebastian choked, seizing Jace’s right wrist in his hand and jerking it backward, hard enough to snap the bones. Jace heard himself scream as if from a distance, and Sebastian pressed the advantage, twisting the broken wrist mercilessly until Jace let go of him and fell back in the cold, watery mud, his arm a howl of agony.
Half-kneeling on Jace’s chest, one knee digging hard into his ribs, Sebastian grinned down at him. His eyes shone out white and black from a mask of dirt and blood. Something glittered in his right hand. Jace’s dagger. He must have picked it up from the ground. Its point rested directly over Jace’s heart.
“And we find ourselves exactly where we were five minutes ago,” Sebastian said. “You’ve had your chance, Wayland. Any last words?”
Jace stared up at him, his mouth streaming blood, his eyes stinging with sweat, and felt only a sense of total and empty exhaustion. Was this really how he was going to die? “Wayland?” he said. “You know that’s not my name. ”
“You have as much of a claim to it as you have to the name of Morgenstern,” said Sebastian. He bent forward, leaning his weight onto the dagger. Its tip pierced Jace’s skin, sending a hot stab of pain through his body. Sebastian’s face was inches away, his voice a hissing whisper. “Did you really think you were Valentine’s son? Did you really think a whining, pathetic thing like yourself was worthy of being a Morgenstern, of being my brother?” He tossed his white hair back: It was lank with sweat and creek water. “You’re a changeling,” he said. “My father butchered a corpse to get you and make you one of his experiments. He tried to raise you as his own son, but you were too weak to be any good to him. You couldn’t be a warrior. You were nothing. Useless. So he palmed you off on the Lightwoods and hoped you might be of some use to him later, as a decoy. Or as bait. He never loved you. ”
Jace blinked his burning eyes. “Then you …”
“I am Valentine’s son. Jonathan Christopher Morgenstern. You never had any right to that name. You’re a ghost. A pretender. ” His eyes were black and glinting, like the carapaces of dead insects, and suddenly Jace heard his mother’s voice, as if in a dream—but she wasn’t his mother—saying, Jonathan’s not a baby anymore. He isn’t even human; he’s a monster.
“You’re the one,” Jace choked. “The one with the demon blood. Not me. ”
“That’s right. ” The dagger slid another millimeter into Jace’s flesh. Sebastian was still grinning, but it was a rictus, like a skull’s. “You’re the angel boy. I had to hear all about you. You with your pretty angel face and your pretty manners and your delicate, delicate feelings. You couldn’t even watch a bird die without crying. No wonder Valentine was ashamed of you. ”
“No. ” Jace forgot the blood in his mouth, forgot the pain. “You’re the one he’s ashamed of. You think he wouldn’t take you with him to the lake because he needed you to stay here and open the gate at midnight? Like he didn’t know you wouldn’t be able to wait. He didn’t take you with him because he’s ashamed to stand up in front of the Angel and show him what he’s done. Show him the thing he made. Show him you. ” Jace gazed up at Sebastian—he could feel a terrible, triumphant pity blazing in his own eyes. “He knows there’s nothing human in you. Maybe he loves you, but he hates you too—”
“Shut up!” Sebastian pushed down on the dagger, twisting the hilt. Jace arched backward with a scream, and agony burst like lightning behind his eyes. I’m going to die, he thought. I’m dying. This is it. He wondered if his heart had already been pierced. He couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. He knew now what it must be like for a butterfly pinned to a board. He tried to speak, tried to say a name, but nothing came out of his mouth but more blood.
And yet Sebastian seemed to read his eyes. “Clary. I’d almost forgotten. You’re in love with her, aren’t you? The shame of your nasty incestuous impulses must nearly have killed you. Too bad you didn’t know she’s not really your sister. You could have spent the rest of your life with her, if only you weren’t so stupid. ” He bent down, pushing the knife in harder, its edge scraping bone. He spoke in Jace’s ear, a voice as soft as a whisper. “She loved you, too,” he said. “Keep that in mind while you die. ”
Darkness flooded in from the edges of Jace’s vision, like dye spilling onto a photograph, blotting out the image. Suddenly there was no pain at all. He felt nothing, not even Sebastian’s weight on him, as if he were floating. Sebastian’s face drifted over him, white against the darkness, the dagger raised in his hand. Something bright gold glittered at Sebastian’s wrist, as if he were wearing a bracelet. But it wasn’t a bracelet, because it was moving. Sebastian looked toward his hand, surprised, as the dagger fell from his loosened grasp and struck the mud with an audible sound.
Then the hand itself, separated from his wrist, thumped to the ground beside it.
Jace stared wonderingly as Sebastian’s severed hand bounced and came to rest against a pair of high black boots. The boots were attached to a pair of delicate legs, rising to a slender torso and a familiar face capped with a waterfall of black hair. Jace raised his eyes and saw Isabelle, her whip soaked with blood, her eyes fastened on Sebastian, who was staring at the bloody stump of his wrist with openmouthed amazement.
Isabelle smiled grimly. “That was for Max, you bastard. ”
“Bitch,” Sebastian hissed—and sprang to his feet as Isabelle’s whip came slashing at him again with incredible speed. He ducked sideways and was gone. There was a rustle—he must have vanished into the trees, Jace thought, though it hurt too much to turn his head and look.
“Jace!” Isabelle knelt down over him, her stele shining in her left hand. Her eyes were bright with tears; he must seem pretty bad, Jace realized, for Isabelle to look like that.
“Isabelle,” he tried to say. He wanted to tell her to go, to run, that no matter how spectacular and brave and talented she was—and she was all those things—she was no match for Sebastian. And there was no way that Sebastian was going to let a little thing like getting his hand sliced off stop him. But all that came out of Jace’s mouth was a sort of gurgling noise.
“Don’t talk. ” He felt the tip of her stele burn against the skin of his chest. “You’ll be fine. ” Isabelle smiled down at him tremulously. “You’re probably wondering what the hell I’m doing here,” she said. “I don’t know how much you know—I don’t know what Sebastian’s told you—but you’re not Valentine’s son. ” The iratze was close to finished; already Jace could feel the pain fading. He nodded slightly, trying to tell her: I know. “Anyway, I wasn’t going to come looking for you after you ran off, because you said in your note not to, and I got that. But there was no way I was going to let you die thinking you have demon blood, or without telling you that there’s nothing wrong with you, though honestly, how you could have thought anything so stupid in the first place—” Isabelle’s hand jerked, and she froze, not wanting to spoil the rune. “And you needed to know that Clary’s not your sister,” she said, more gently. “Because—because you just did. So I got Magnus to help me track you. I used that little wooden soldier you gave to Max. I don’t think Magnus would have done it normally, but let’s just say he was in an unusually good mood, and I may have told him Alec wanted him to do it—although that wasn’t strictly true, but it’ll be a while before he finds that out. And once I knew where you were, well, he’d already set up that Portal, and I’m very good at sneaking—”
Isabelle screamed. Jace tried to reach for her, but she was beyond his grasp, being lifted, flung to the side. Her whip fell from her hand. She scrambled to her knees, but Sebastian was already in front of her. His eyes blazed with rage, and there was a bloody cloth tied around the stump of his wrist. Isabelle darted for her whip, but Sebastian moved faster. He spun and kicked out at her, hard. His booted foot connected with her rib cage. Jace almost thought he could hear Isabelle’s ribs crack as she flew backward, landing awkwardly on her side. He heard her cry out—Isabelle, who never cried out in pain—as Sebastian kicked her again and then caught up her whip, brandishing it in his hand.
Jace rolled onto his side. The almost finished iratze had helped, but the pain in his chest was still bad, and he knew, in a detached sort of way, that the fact that he was coughing up blood probably meant that he had a punctured lung. He wasn’t sure how long that gave him. Minutes, probably. He scrabbled for the dagger where Sebastian had dropped it, next to the grisly remains of his hand. Jace staggered to his feet. The smell of blood was everywhere. He thought of Magnus’s vision, the world turned to blood, and his slippery hand tightened on the hilt of the dagger.
He took a step forward. Then another. Every step felt like he was dragging his feet through cement. Isabelle was screaming curses at Sebastian, who was laughing as he brought the whip down across her body. Her screams drew Jace forward like a fish caught on a hook, but they grew fainter as he moved. The world was spinning around him like a carnival ride.
One more step, Jace told himself. One more. Sebastian had his back to him; he was concentrating on Isabelle. He probably thought Jace was already dead. And he nearly was. One step, he told himself, but he couldn’t do it, couldn’t move, couldn’t bring himself to drag his feet one more step forward. Blackness was rushing in at the edges of his vision—a more profound blackness than the darkness of sleep. A blackness that would erase everything he had ever seen and bring him a rest that would be absolute. Peaceful. He thought, suddenly, of Clary—Clary as he had last seen her, asleep, with her hair spread across the pillow and her cheek on her hand. He had thought then that he had never seen anything so peaceful in his life, but of course she had only been sleeping, like anyone else might sleep. It hadn’t been her peace that had surprised him, but his own. The peace he felt at being with her was like nothing he had ever known before.
Pain jarred up his spine, and he realized with surprise that somehow, without any volition of his own, his legs had moved him forward that last crucial step. Sebastian had his arm back, the whip shining in his hand; Isabelle lay on the grass, a crumpled heap, no longer screaming—no longer moving at all. “You little Lightwood bitch,” Sebastian was saying. “I should have smashed your face in with that hammer when I had the chance—”
And Jace brought his hand up, with the dagger in it, and sank the blade into Sebastian’s back.
Sebastian staggered forward, the whip falling out of his hand. He turned slowly and looked at Jace, and Jace thought, with a distant horror, that maybe Sebastian really wasn’t human, that he was unkillable after all. Sebastian’s face was blank, the hostility gone from it, and the dark fire from his eyes. He no longer looked like Valentine, though. He looked—scared.
He opened his mouth, as if he meant to say something to Jace, but his knees were already buckling. He crashed to the ground, the force of his fall sending him sliding down the incline and into the river. He came to rest on his back, his eyes staring sightlessly up at the sky; the water flowed around him, carrying dark threads of his blood downstream on the current.
He taught me that there’s a place on a man’s back where, if you sink a blade in, you can pierce his heart and sever his spine, all at once, Sebastian had said. I guess we got the same birthday present that year, big brother, Jace thought. Didn’t we?
“Jace!” It was Isabelle, her face bloody, struggling into a sitting position. “Jace!”
He tried to turn toward her, tried to say something, but his words were gone. He slid to his knees. A heavy weight was pressing on his shoulders, and the earth was calling him: down, down, down. He was barely aware of Isabelle crying his name as the darkness carried him away.
Simon was a veteran of countless battles. That is, if you counted battles engaged in while playing Dungeons and Dragons. His friend Eric was the military history buff and he was the one who usually organized the war part of the games, which involved dozens of tiny figurines moving in straight lines across a flat landscape drawn on butcher paper.
That was the way he’d always thought of battles—or the way they were in movies, with two groups of people advancing at each other across a flat expanse of land. Straight lines and orderly progression.
This was nothing like that.
This was chaos, a melee of shouting and movement, and the landscape wasn’t flat but a mass of mud and blood churned into a thick, unstable paste. Simon had imagined that the Night Children would walk to the battlefield and be greeted by someone in charge; he imagined he’d see the battle from a distance first and be able to watch as the two sides clashed against each other. But there was no greeting, and there were no sides. The battle loomed up out of the darkness as if he’d wandered by accident from a deserted side street into a riot in the middle of Times Square—suddenly there were crowds surging around him, hands grabbing him, shoving him out of the way, and the vampires were scattering, diving into the battle without even a glance back for him.
And there were demons—demons everywhere, and he’d never imagined the kind of sounds they’d make, the screaming and hooting and grunting, and what was worse, the sounds of tearing and shredding and hungry satisfaction. Simon wished he could turn his vampire hearing off, but he couldn’t, and the sounds were like knives piercing his eardrums.
He stumbled over a body lying half in and half out of the mud, turned to see if help was needed, and saw that the Shadowhunter at his feet was gone from the shoulders up. White bone gleamed against the dark earth, and despite Simon’s vampire nature, he felt nauseated. I must be the only vampire in the world sickened by the sight of blood, he thought, and then something struck him hard from behind and he went over, skidding down a slope of mud into a pit.
Simon’s wasn’t the only body down there. He rolled onto his back just as the demon loomed up over him. It looked like the image of Death from a medieval woodcut—an animated skeleton, a bloodied hatchet clutched in one bony hand. He threw himself to the side as the blade thumped down, inches from his face. The skeleton made a disappointed hissing noise and hoisted the hatchet again—
And was struck from the side by a club of knotted wood. The skeleton burst apart like a piñata filled with bones. They rattled into pieces with a sound like castanets clacking before vanishing into the darkness.
A Shadowhunter stood over Simon. It was no one he’d ever seen before. A tall man, bearded and blood-splattered, who ran a grimy hand across his forehead as he stared down at Simon, leaving a dark streak behind. “You all right?”
Stunned, Simon nodded and began scrambling to his feet. “Thanks. ”
The stranger leaned down, offering a hand to help Simon up. Simon accepted—and went flying up out of the pit. He landed on his feet at the edge, his feet skidding on the wet mud. The stranger offered a sheepish grin. “Sorry. Downworlder strength—my partner’s a werewolf. I’m not used to it. ” He peered at Simon’s face. “You’re a vampire, aren’t you?”
“How did you know?”
The man grinned. It was a tired sort of grin, but there was nothing unfriendly about it. “Your fangs. They come out when you’re fighting. I know because—” He broke off. Simon could have filled in the rest for him: I know because I’ve killed my fair share of vampires. “Anyway. Thanks. For fighting with us. ”
“I—” Simon was about to say that he hadn’t exactly fought yet. Or contributed anything, really. He turned to say it, and got exactly one word out of his mouth before something impossibly huge and clawed and ragged-winged swept down out of the sky and dug its talons into the Shadowhunter’s back.
The man didn’t even cry out. His head went back, as if he were looking up in surprise, wondering what had hold of him—and then he was gone, whipping up into the empty black sky in a whir of teeth and wings. His club thumped to the ground at Simon’s feet.
Simon didn’t move. The whole thing, from the moment he’d fallen into the pit, had taken less than a minute. He turned numbly, staring around him at the blades whirling through the darkness, at the slashing talons of demons, at the points of illumination that raced here and there through the darkness like fireflies darting through foliage—and then he realized what they were. The gleaming lights of seraph blades.
He couldn’t see the Lightwoods, or the Penhallows, or Luke, or anyone else he might recognize. He wasn’t a Shadowhunter. And yet that man had thanked him, thanked him for fighting. What he’d told Clary was true—this was his battle too, and he was needed here. Not human Simon, who was gentle and geeky and hated the sight of blood, but vampire Simon, a creature he barely even knew.
A true vampire knows he is dead, Raphael had said. But Simon didn’t feel dead. He’d never felt more alive. He turned as another demon loomed up in front of him: this one a lizard-thing, scaled, with rodent teeth. It swept down on Simon with its black claws extended.
Simon leaped. He struck the massive side of the thing and clung, his nails digging in, the scales giving way under his grip. The Mark on his forehead throbbed as he sank his fangs into the demon’s neck.
It tasted awful.
When the glass stopped falling, there was a hole in the ceiling, several feet wide, as if a meteor had crashed through it. Cold air blew in through the gap. Shivering, Clary got to her feet, brushing glass dust from her clothes.
The witchlight that had lit the Hall had been doused: It was gloomy inside now, thick with shadows and dust. The faint illumination of the fading Portal in the square was just visible, glowing through the open front doors.
It was probably no longer safe to stay in here, Clary thought. She should go to the Penhallows’ and join Aline. She was partway across the Hall when footsteps sounded on the marble floor. Heart pounding, she turned and saw Malachi, a long, spidery shadow in the half-light, striding toward the dais. But what was he still doing here? Shouldn’t he be with the rest of the Shadowhunters on the battlefield?
As he drew closer to the dais, she noticed something that made her put her hand to her mouth, stifling a cry of surprise. There was a hunched dark shape perched on Malachi’s shoulder. A bird. A raven, to be exact.
Clary ducked to crouch behind a pillar as Malachi climbed the dais steps. There was something unmistakably furtive in the way he glanced from side to side. Apparently satisfied that he was unobserved, he drew something small and glittering from his pocket and slipped it onto his finger. A ring? He reached to twist it, and Clary remembered Hodge in the library at the Institute, taking the ring from Jace’s hand …
The air in front of Malachi shimmered faintly, as if with heat. A voice spoke from it, a familiar voice, cool and cultured, now touched with just the faintest annoyance.
“What is it, Malachi? I’m in no mood for small talk right now. ”
“My Lord Valentine,” said Malachi. His usual hostility had been replaced with a slimy obsequiousness. “Hugin visited me not a moment ago, bringing news. I assumed you had already reached the Mirror, and therefore he sought me out instead. I thought you might want to know. ”
Valentine’s tone was sharp. “Very well. What news?”
“It’s your son, Lord. Your other son. Hugin tracked him to the valley of the cave. He may even have followed you through the tunnels to the lake. ”
Clary clutched the pillar with whitened fingers. They were talking about Jace.
Valentine grunted. “Did he meet his brother there?”
“Hugin says that he left the two of them fighting. ”
Clary felt her stomach turn over. Jace, fighting Sebastian? She thought of the way Sebastian had lifted Jace at the Gard and flung him, as if he weighed nothing. A wave of panic surged over her, so intense that for a moment her ears buzzed. By the time the room swam back into focus, she had missed whatever Valentine had said to Malachi in return.
“It is the ones old enough to be Marked but not old enough to fight that concern me,” Malachi was saying now. “They didn’t vote in the Council’s decision. It seems unfair to punish them in the same way that those who are fighting must be punished. ”
“I did consider that. ” Valentine’s voice was a bass rumble. “Because teenagers are more lightly Marked, it takes them longer to become Forsaken. Several days, at least. I believe it may well be reversible. ”
“While those of us who have drunk from the Mortal Cup will remain entirely unaffected?”
“I’m busy, Malachi,” said Valentine. “I’ve told you that you’ll be safe. I am trusting my own life to this process. Have some faith. ”
Malachi bowed his head. “I have great faith, my lord. I have kept it for many years, in silence, serving you always. ”
“And you will be rewarded,” said Valentine.
Malachi looked up. “My lord—”
But the air had stopped shimmering. Valentine was gone. Malachi frowned, then marched down the dais steps and toward the front doors. Clary shrank back against the pillar, hoping desperately that he wouldn’t see her. Her heart was pounding. What had all that been about? What was all this about Forsaken? The answer glimmered at the corner of her mind, but it seemed too horrible to contemplate. Even Valentine wouldn’t—
Something flew at her face then, whirling and dark. She barely had time to throw her arms up to cover her eyes when something slashed along the back of her hands. She heard a fierce caw, and wings beat against her upraised wrists.
“Hugin! Enough!” It was Malachi’s sharp voice. “Hugin!” There was another caw and a thump, then silence. Clary lowered her arms and saw the raven lying motionless at the Consul’s feet—stunned or dead, she couldn’t tell. With a snarl Malachi kicked the raven savagely out of his way and strode toward Clary, glowering. He caught hold of her by a bleeding wrist and hauled her to her feet. “Stupid girl,” he said. “How long have you been there listening?”
“Long enough to know that you’re one of the Circle,” she spat, twisting her wrist in his grasp, but he held firm. “You’re on Valentine’s side. ”
“There is only one side. ” His voice came out in a hiss. “The Clave is foolish, misguided, pandering to half men and monsters. All I want is to make it pure, to return it to its former glory. A goal you’d think every Shadowhunter would approve of, but no—they listen to fools and demon lovers like you and Lucian Graymark. And now you’ve sent the flower of the Nephilim to die in this ridiculous battle—an empty gesture that will accomplish nothing. Valentine has already begun the ritual; soon the Angel will rise, and the Nephilim will become Forsaken. All those save the few under Valentine’s protection—”
“That’s murder! He’s murdering Shadowhunters!”
“Not murder,” said the Consul. His voice rang with a fanatic’s passion. “Cleansing. Valentine will make a new world of Shadowhunters, a world purged of weakness and corruption. ”
“Weakness and corruption aren’t in the world,” Clary snapped. “They’re in people. And they always will be. The world just needs good people to balance them out. And you’re planning to kill them all. ”
He looked at her for a moment with honest surprise, as if he was astonished at the force in her tone. “Fine words from a girl who would betray her own father. ” Malachi jerked her toward him, yanking brutally on her bleeding wrist. “Perhaps we should see just how much Valentine would mind if I taught you—”
But Clary never found out what he wanted to teach her. A dark shape shot between them—wings outspread and claws extended.
The raven caught Malachi with the tip of a talon, raking a bloody groove across his face. With a cry the Consul let go of Clary and threw up his arms, but Hugo had circled back and was slashing at him viciously with beak and claws. Malachi staggered backward, arms flailing, until he struck the edge of a bench, hard. It fell over with a crash; unbalanced, he sprawled after it with a strangled cry—quickly cut off.
Clary raced to where Malachi lay crumpled on the marble floor, a circle of blood already pooling around him. He had landed on a pile of glass from the broken ceiling, and one of the jagged chunks had pierced his throat. Hugo was still hovering in the air, circling Malachi’s body. He gave a triumphant caw as Clary stared at him—apparently he hadn’t appreciated the Consul’s kicks and blows. Malachi should have known better than to attack one of Valentine’s creatures, Clary thought sourly. The bird was no more forgiving than his master.
But there was no time to think about Malachi now. Alec had said that there were wards up around the lake, and that if anyone Portaled there, an alarm would go off. Valentine was probably already at the Mirror—there was no time to waste. Backing slowly away from the raven, Clary turned and dashed toward the front doors of the Hall and the glimmer of the Portal beyond.