THERE WAS NO AMOUNT OF MAGIC, CLARY THOUGHT AS SHE and Luke circled the block for the third time, that could create new parking spaces on a New York City street. There was nowhere for the truck to pull in, and half the street was double-parked. Finally Luke pulled up at a hydrant and shifted the pickup into neutral with a sigh. “Go on,” he said. “Let them know you’re here. I’ll bring your suitcase. ”
Clary nodded, but hesitated before reaching for the door handle. Her stomach was tight with anxiety, and she wished, not for the first time, that Luke were going with her. “I always thought that the first time I went overseas, I’d have a passport with me at least. ”
Luke didn’t smile. “I know you’re nervous,” he said. “But it’ll be all right. The Lightwoods will take good care of you. ”
I’ve only told you that a million times, Clary thought. She patted Luke’s shoulder lightly before jumping down from the truck. “See you in a few. ”
She made her way down the cracked stone path, the sound of traffic fading as she neared the church doors. It took her several moments to peel the glamour off the Institute this time. It felt as if another layer of disguise had been added to the old cathedral, like a new coat of paint. Scraping it off with her mind felt hard, even painful. Finally it was gone and she could see the church as it was. The high wooden doors gleamed as if they’d just been polished.
There was a strange smell in the air, like ozone and burning. With a frown she put her hand to the knob. I am Clary Morgenstern, one of the Nephilim, and I ask entrance to the Institute—
The door swung open. Clary stepped inside. She looked around, blinking, trying to identify what it was that felt somehow different about the cathedral’s interior.
She realized it as the door swung shut behind her, trapping her in a blackness relieved only by the dim glow of the rose window far overhead. She had never been inside the entrance to the Institute when there had not been dozens of flames lit in the elaborate candelabras lining the aisle between the pews.
She took her witchlight stone out of her pocket and held it up. Light blazed from it, sending shining spokes of illumination flaring out between her fingers. It lit the dusty corners of the cathedral’s interior as she made her way to the elevator near the bare altar and jabbed impatiently at the call button.
Nothing happened. After half a minute she pressed the button again—and again. She laid her ear against the elevator door and listened. Not a sound. The Institute had gone dark and silent, like a mechanical doll whose clockwork heart had run down.
Her heart pounding now, Clary hurried back down the aisle and pushed the heavy doors open. She stood on the front steps of the church, glancing about frantically. The sky was darkening to cobalt overhead, and the air smelled even more strongly of burning. Had there been a fire? Had the Shadowhunters evacuated? But the place looked untouched….
“It wasn’t a fire. ” The voice was soft, velvety and familiar. A tall figure materialized out of the shadows, hair sticking up in a corona of ungainly spikes. He wore a black silk suit over a shimmering emerald green shirt, and brightly jeweled rings on his narrow fingers. There were fancy boots involved as well, and a good deal of glitter.
“Magnus?” Clary whispered.
“I know what you were thinking,” Magnus said. “But there was no fire. That smell is hellmist—it’s a sort of enchanted demonic smoke. It mutes the effects of certain kinds of magic. ”
“Demonic mist? Then there was—”
“An attack on the Institute. Yes. Earlier this afternoon. Forsaken—probably a few dozen of them. ”
“Jace,” Clary whispered. “The Lightwoods—”
“The hellsmoke muted my ability to fight the Forsaken effectively. Theirs, too. I had to send them through the Portal into Idris. ”
“But none of them were hurt?”
“Madeleine,” said Magnus. “Madeleine was killed. I’m sorry, Clary. ”
Clary sank down onto the steps. She hadn’t known the older woman well, but Madeleine had been a tenuous connection to her mother—her real mother, the tough, fighting Shadowhunter that Clary had never known.
“Clary?” Luke was coming up the path through the gathering dark. He had Clary’s suitcase in one hand. “What’s going on?”
Clary sat hugging her knees while Magnus explained. Underneath her pain for Madeleine she was full of a guilty relief. Jace was all right. The Lightwoods were all right. She said it over and over to herself, silently. Jace is all right.
“The Forsaken,” Luke said. “They were all killed?”
“Not all of them. ” Magnus shook his head. “After I sent the Lightwoods through the Portal, the Forsaken dispersed; they didn’t seem interested in me. By the time I shut the Portal, they were all gone. ”
Clary raised her head. “The Portal’s closed? But—you can still send me to Idris, right?” she asked. “I mean, I can go through the Portal and join the Lightwoods there, can’t I?”
Luke and Magnus exchanged a look. Luke set the suitcase down by his feet.
“Magnus?” Clary’s voice rose, shrill in her own ears. “I have to go. ”
“The Portal is closed, Clary—”
“Then open another one!”
“It’s not that easy,” the warlock said. “The Clave guards any magical entry into Alicante very carefully. Their capital is a holy place to them—it’s like their Vatican, their Forbidden City. No Downworlders can come there without permission, and no mundanes. ”
“But I’m a Shadowhunter!”
“Only barely,” said Magnus. “Besides, the towers prevent direct Portaling to the city. To open a Portal that went through to Alicante, I’d have to have them standing by on the other side expecting you. If I tried to send you through on my own, it would be in direct contravention of the Law, and I’m not willing to risk that for you, biscuit, no matter how much I might like you personally. ”
Clary looked from Magnus’s regretful face to Luke’s wary one. “But I need to get to Idris,” she said. “I need to help my mother. There must be some other way to get there, some way that doesn’t involve a Portal. ”
“The nearest airport is a country over,” Luke said. “If we could get across the border—and that’s a big ‘if’—there would be a long and dangerous overland journey after that, through all sorts of Downworlder territory. It could take us days to get there. ”
Clary’s eyes were burning. I will not cry, she told herself. I will not.
“Clary. ” Luke’s voice was gentle. “We’ll get in touch with the Lightwoods. We’ll make sure they have all the information they need to get the antidote for Jocelyn. They can contact Fell—”
But Clary was on her feet, shaking her head. “It has to be me,” she said. “Madeleine said Fell wouldn’t talk to anyone else. ”
“Fell? Ragnor Fell?” Magnus echoed. “I can try to get a message to him. Let him know to expect Jace. ”
Some of the worry cleared from Luke’s face. “Clary, do you hear that? With Magnus’s help—”
But Clary didn’t want to hear any more about Magnus’s help. She didn’t want to hear anything. She had thought she was going to save her mother, and now there was going to be nothing for her to do but sit by her mother’s bedside, hold her limp hand, and hope someone else, somewhere else, would be able to do what she couldn’t.
She scrambled down the steps, pushing past Luke when he tried to reach out for her. “I just need to be alone for a second. ”
“Clary—” She heard Luke call out to her, but she pulled away from him, darting around the side of the cathedral. She found herself following the stone path where it forked, making her way toward the small garden on the Institute’s east side, toward the smell of char and ashes—and a thick, sharp smell under that. The smell of demonic magic. There was mist in the garden still, scattered bits of it like trails of cloud caught here and there on the edge of a rosebush or hiding under a stone. She could see where the earth had been churned up earlier by the fighting—and there was a dark red stain there, by one of the stone benches, that she didn’t want to look at long.
Clary turned her head away. And paused. There, against the wall of the cathedral, were the unmistakable marks of rune magic, glowing a hot, fading blue against the gray stone. They formed a squarish outline, like the outline of light around a half-open door….
Something inside her seemed to twist. She remembered other symbols, shining dangerously against the smooth metal hull of a ship. She remembered the shudder the ship had given as it had wrenched itself apart, the black water of the East River pouring in. They’re just runes, she thought. Symbols. I can draw them. If my mother can trap the essence of the Mortal Cup inside a piece of paper, then I can make a Portal.
She found her feet carrying her to the cathedral wall, her hand reaching into her pocket for her stele. Willing her hand not to shake, she set the tip of the stele to the stone.
She squeezed her eyelids shut and, against the darkness behind them, began to draw with her mind in curving lines of light. Lines that spoke to her of doorways, of being carried on whirling air, of travel and faraway places. The lines came together in a rune as graceful as a bird in flight. She didn’t know if it was a rune that had existed before or one she had invented, but it existed now as if it always had.
She began to draw, the marks leaping out from the stele’s tip in charcoaled black lines. The stone sizzled, filling her nose with the acidic smell of burning. Hot blue light grew against her closed eyelids. She felt heat on her face, as if she stood in front of a fire. With a gasp she lowered her hand, opening her eyes.
The rune she had drawn was a dark flower blossoming on the stone wall. As she watched, the lines of it seemed to melt and change, flowing gently down, unfurling, reshaping themselves. Within moments the shape of the rune had changed. It was now the outline of a glowing doorway, several feet taller than Clary herself.
She couldn’t tear her eyes from the doorway. It shone with the same dark light as the Portal behind the curtain at Madame Dorothea’s. She reached out for it—
And recoiled. To use a Portal, she remembered with a sinking feeling, you had to imagine where you wanted to go, where you wanted the Portal to take you. But she had never been to Idris. It had been described to her, of course. A place of green valleys, of dark woods and bright water, of lakes and mountains, and Alicante, the city of glass towers. She could imagine what it might look like, but imagination wasn’t enough, not with this magic. If only …
She took a sudden sharp breath. But she had seen Idris. She’d seen it in a dream, and she knew, without knowing how she knew, that it had been a true dream. After all, what had Jace said to her in the dream about Simon? That he couldn’t stay because This place is for the living? And not long after that, Simon had died….
She cast her memory back to the dream. She had been dancing in a ballroom in Alicante. The walls had been gold and white, with a clear, diamondlike roof overhead. There had been a fountain—a silver dish with a mermaid statue at the center—and lights strung in the trees outside the windows, and Clary had been wearing green velvet, just as she was now.
As if she were still in the dream, she reached for the Portal. A bright light spread under the touch of her fingers, a door opening onto a lighted place beyond. She found herself staring into a whirling golden maelstrom that slowly began to coalesce into discernible shapes—she thought she could see the outline of mountains, a piece of sky—
“Clary!” It was Luke, racing up the path, his face a mask of anger and dismay. Behind him strode Magnus, his cat eyes shining like metal in the hot Portal light that bathed the garden. “Clary, stop! The wards are dangerous! You’ll get yourself killed!”
But there was no stopping now. Beyond the Portal the golden light was growing. She thought of the gold walls of the Hall in her dream, the golden light refracting off the cut glass everywhere. Luke was wrong; he didn’t understand her gift, how it worked—what did wards matter when you could create your own reality just by drawing it? “I have to go,” she cried, moving forward, her fingertips outstretched. “Luke, I’m sorry—”
She stepped forward—and with a last, swift leap, he was at her side, catching at her wrist, just as the Portal seemed to explode all around them. Like a tornado snatching a tree up by the roots, the force yanked them both off their feet. Clary caught a last glimpse of the cars and buildings of Manhattan spinning away from her, vanishing as a whiplash-hard current of wind caught her, sending her hurtling, her wrist still in Luke’s iron grip, into a whirling golden chaos.
Simon awoke to the rhythmic slap of water. He sat up, sudden terror freezing his chest—the last time he’d woken up to the sound of waves, he’d been a prisoner on Valentine’s ship, and the soft liquid noise brought him back to that terrible time with an immediacy that was like a dash of ice water in the face.
But no—a quick look around told him that he was somewhere else entirely. For one thing, he was lying under soft blankets on a comfortable wooden bed in a small, clean room whose walls were painted a pale blue. Dark curtains were drawn over the window, but the faint light around their edges was enough for his vampire’s eyes to see clearly. There was a bright rug on the floor and a mirrored cupboard on one wall.
There was also an armchair pulled up to the side of the bed. Simon sat up, the blankets falling away, and realized two things: one, that he was still wearing the same jeans and T-shirt he’d been wearing when he’d headed to the Institute to meet Jace; and two, that the person in the chair was dozing, her head propped on her hand, her long black hair spilling down like a fringed shawl.
“Isabelle?” Simon said.
Her head popped up like a startled jack-in-the-box’s, her eyes flying open. “Oooh! You’re awake!” She sat up straight, flicking her hair back. “Jace’ll be so relieved. We were almost totally sure you were going to die. ”
“Die?” Simon echoed. He felt dizzy and a little sick. “From what?” He glanced around the room, blinking. “Am I in the Institute?” he asked, and realized the moment the words were out of his mouth that that, of course, was impossible. “I mean—where are we?”
An uneasy flicker passed across Isabelle’s face. “Well … you mean, you don’t remember what happened in the garden?” She tugged nervously at the crochet trim that bordered the chair’s upholstery. “The Forsaken attacked us. There were a lot of them, and the hellmist made it hard to fight them. Magnus opened up the Portal, and we were all running into it when I saw you coming toward us. You tripped over—over Madeleine. And there was a Forsaken just behind you; you must not have seen it, but Jace did. He tried to get to you, but it was too late. The Forsaken stuck its knife into you. You bled—a lot. And Jace killed the Forsaken and picked you up and dragged you through the Portal with him,” she finished, speaking so rapidly that her words blurred together and Simon had to strain to catch them. “And we were already on the other side, and let me tell you, everyone was pretty surprised when Jace came through with you bleeding all over him. The Consul wasn’t at all pleased. ”
Simon’s mouth was dry. “The Forsaken stuck its knife into me?” It seemed impossible. But then, he had healed before, after Valentine had cut his throat. Still, he at least ought to remember. Shaking his head, he looked down at himself. “Where?”
“I’ll show you. ” Much to his surprise, a moment later Isabelle was seated on the bed beside him, her cool hands on his midriff. She pushed his T-shirt up, baring a strip of pale stomach, bisected by a thin red line. It was barely a scar. “Here,” she said, her fingers gliding over it. “Is there any pain?”
“N-no. ” The first time Simon had ever seen Isabelle, he’d found her so striking, so alight with life and vitality and energy, he’d thought he’d finally found a girl who burned bright enough to blot out the image of Clary that always seemed to be printed on the inside of his eyelids. It was right around the time she’d gotten him turned into a rat at Magnus Bane’s loft party that he’d realized maybe Isabelle burned a little too bright for an ordinary guy like him. “It doesn’t hurt. ”
“But my eyes do,” said a coolly amused voice from the doorway. Jace. He had come in so quietly that even Simon hadn’t heard him; closing the door behind him, he grinned as Isabelle pulled Simon’s shirt down. “Molesting the vampire while he’s too weak to fight back, Iz?” he asked. “I’m pretty sure that violates at least one of the Accords. ”
“I’m just showing him where he got stabbed,” Isabelle protested, but she scooted back to her chair with a certain amount of haste. “What’s going on downstairs?” she asked. “Is everyone still freaking out?”
The smile left Jace’s face. “Maryse has gone up to the Gard with Patrick,” he said. “The Clave’s in session and Malachi thought it would be better if she … explained … in person. ”
Malachi. Patrick. Gard. The unfamiliar names whirled through Simon’s head. “Explained what?”
Isabelle and Jace exchanged a look. “Explained you,” Jace said finally. “Explained why we brought a vampire with us to Alicante, which is, by the way, expressly against the Law. ”
“To Alicante? We’re in Alicante?” A wave of blank panic washed over Simon, quickly replaced by a pain that shot through his midsection. He doubled over, gasping.
“Simon!” Isabelle reached out her hand, alarm in her dark eyes. “Are you all right?”
“Go away, Isabelle. ” Simon, his hands fisted against his stomach, looked up at Jace, pleading in his voice. “Make her go. ”
Isabelle recoiled, a hurt look on her face. “Fine. I’ll go. You don’t have to tell me twice. ” She flounced to her feet and out of the room, banging the door behind her.
Jace turned to Simon, his amber eyes expressionless. “What’s going on? I thought you were healing. ”
Simon threw up a hand to ward the other boy off. A metallic taste burned in the back of his throat. “It’s not Isabelle,” he ground out. “I’m not hurt—I’m just … hungry. ” He felt his cheeks burn. “I lost blood, so—I need to replace it. ”
“Of course,” Jace said, in the tone of someone who’s just been enlightened by an interesting, if not particularly necessary, scientific fact. The faint concern left his expression, to be replaced by something that looked to Simon like amused contempt. It struck a chord of fury inside him, and if he hadn’t been so debilitated by pain, he would have flung himself off the bed and onto the other boy in a rage. As it was, all he could do was gasp, “Screw you, Wayland. ”
“Wayland, is it?” The amused look didn’t leave Jace’s face, but his hands went to his throat and began to unzip his jacket.
“No!” Simon shrank back on the bed. “I don’t care how hungry I am. I’m not … drinking your blood … again. ”
Jace’s mouth twisted. “Like I’d let you. ” He reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and drew out a glass flask. It was half-full of a thin red-brown liquid. “I thought you might need this,” he said. “I squeezed the juice out of a few pounds of raw meat in the kitchen. It was the best I could do. ”
Simon took the flask from Jace with hands that were shaking so badly that the other boy had to unscrew the top for him. The liquid inside was foul—too thin and salty to be proper blood, and with that faint unpleasant taste that Simon knew meant the meat had been a few days old.
“Ugh,” he said, after a few swallows. “Dead blood. ”
Jace’s eyebrows went up. “Isn’t all blood dead?”
“The longer the animal whose blood I’m drinking has been dead, the worse the blood tastes,” Simon explained. “Fresh is better. ”
“But you’ve never drunk fresh blood. Have you?”
Simon raised his own eyebrows in response.
“Well, aside from mine, of course,” Jace said. “And I’m sure my blood is fantastic. ”
Simon set the empty flask down on the arm of the chair by the bed. “There’s something very wrong with you,” he said. “Mentally, I mean. ” His mouth still tasted of spoiled blood, but the pain was gone. He felt better, stronger, as if the blood were a medicine that worked instantly, a drug he had to have to live. He wondered if this was what it was like for heroin addicts. “So I’m in Idris. ”
“Alicante, to be specific,” said Jace. “The capital city. The only city, really. ” He went to the window and drew back the curtains. “The Penhallows didn’t really believe us,” he said. “That the sun wouldn’t bother you. They put these blackout curtains up. But you should look. ”
Rising from the bed, Simon joined Jace at the window. And stared.
A few years ago his mother had taken him and his sister on a trip to Tuscany—a week of heavy, unfamiliar pasta dishes, unsalted bread, hardy brown countryside, and his mother speeding down narrow, twisting roads, barely avoiding crashing their Fiat into the beautiful old buildings they’d ostensibly come to see. He remembered stopping on a hillside just opposite a town called San Gimignano, a collection of rust-colored buildings dotted here and there with high towers whose tops soared upward as if reaching for the sky. If what he was looking at now reminded him of anything, it was that; but it was also so alien that it was genuinely unlike anything he’d ever seen before.
He was looking out of an upper window in what must have been a fairly tall house. If he glanced up, he could see stone eaves and sky beyond. Across the way was another house, not quite as tall as this one, and between them ran a narrow, dark canal, crossed here and there by bridges—the source of the water he’d heard before. The house seemed to be built partway up a hill—below it honey-colored stone houses, clustered along narrow streets, fell away to the edge of a green circle: woods, surrounded by hills that were very far away; from here they resembled long green and brown strips dotted with bursts of autumn colors. Behind the hills rose jagged mountains frosted with snow.
But none of that was what was strange; what was strange was that here and there in the city, placed seemingly at random, rose soaring towers crowned with spires of reflective whitish-silvery material. They seemed to pierce the sky like shining daggers, and Simon realized where he had seen that material before: in the hard, glasslike weapons the Shadowhunters carried, the ones they called seraph blades.
“Those are the demon towers,” Jace said, in response to Simon’s unasked question. “They control the wards that protect the city. Because of them, no demon can enter Alicante. ”
The air that came in through the window was cold and clean, the sort of air you never breathed in New York City: It tasted of nothing, not dirt or smoke or metal or other people. Just air. Simon took a deep, unnecessary breath of it before he turned to look at Jace; some human habits died hard. “Tell me,” he said, “that bringing me here was an accident. Tell me this wasn’t somehow all part of you wanting to stop Clary from coming with you. ”
Jace didn’t look at him, but his chest rose and fell once, quickly, in a sort of suppressed gasp. “That’s right,” he said. “I created a bunch of Forsaken warriors, had them attack the Institute and kill Madeleine and nearly kill the rest of us, just so that I could keep Clary at home. And lo and behold, my diabolical plan is working. ”
“Well, it is working,” Simon said quietly. “Isn’t it?”
“Listen, vampire,” Jace said. “Keeping Clary from Idris was the plan. Bringing you here was not the plan. I brought you through the Portal because if I’d left you behind, bleeding and unconscious, the Forsaken would have killed you. ”
“You could have stayed behind with me—”
“They would have killed us both. I couldn’t even tell how many of them there were, not with the hellmist. Even I can’t fight off a hundred Forsaken. ”
“And yet,” Simon said, “I bet it pains you to admit that. ”
“You’re an ass,” Jace said, without inflection, “even for a Downworlder. I saved your life and I broke the Law to do it. Not for the first time, I might add. You could show a little gratitude. ”
“Gratitude?” Simon felt his fingers curl in against his palms. “If you hadn’t dragged me to the Institute, I wouldn’t be here. I never agreed to this. ”
“You did,” said Jace, “when you said you’d do anything for Clary. This is anything. ”
Before Simon could snap back an angry retort, there was a knock on the door. “Hello?” Isabelle called from the other side. “Simon, is your diva moment over? I need to talk to Jace. ”
“Come in, Izzy. ” Jace didn’t take his eyes off Simon; there was an electric anger in his gaze, and a sort of challenge that made Simon long to hit him with something heavy. Like a pickup truck.
Isabelle entered the room in a swirl of black hair and tiered silvery skirts. The ivory corset top she wore left her arms and shoulders, twined with inky runes, bare. Simon supposed it was a nice change of pace for her to be able to show her Marks off in a place where no one would think them out of the ordinary.
“Alec’s going up to the Gard,” Isabelle said without preamble. “He wants to talk to you about Simon before he leaves. Can you come downstairs?”
“Sure. ” Jace headed for the door; halfway there, he realized Simon was following him and turned with a glower. “You stay here. ”
“No,” Simon said. “If you’re going to be discussing me, I want to be there for it. ”
For a moment it looked as if Jace’s icy calm was about to snap; he flushed and opened his mouth, his eyes flashing. Just as quickly, the anger vanished, tamped down by an obvious act of will. He gritted his teeth and smiled. “Fine,” he said. “Come on downstairs, vampire. You can meet the whole happy family. ”
The first time Clary had gone through a Portal, there had been a sense of flying, of weightless tumbling. This time it was like being thrust into the heart of a tornado. Howling winds tore at her, ripped her hand from Luke’s and the scream from her mouth. She fell whirling through the heart of a black and gold maelstrom.
Something flat and hard and silvery like the surface of a mirror rose up in front of her. She plunged toward it, shrieking, throwing her hands up to cover her face. She struck the surface and broke through, into a world of brutal cold and gasping suffocation. She was sinking through a thick blue darkness, trying to breathe, but she couldn’t draw air into her lungs, only more of the freezing coldness—
Suddenly she was seized by the back of her coat and hauled upward. She kicked feebly but was too weak to break the hold on her. It drew her up, and the indigo darkness around her turned to pale blue and then to gold as she broke the surface of the water—it was water—and sucked in a gasp of air. Or tried to. Instead she choked and gagged, black spots dotting her vision. She was being dragged through the water, fast, weeds catching and tugging at her legs and arms—she twisted around in the grip that held her and caught a terrifying glimpse of something, not quite wolf and not quite human, ears as pointed as daggers and lips drawn back from sharp white teeth. She tried to scream, but only water came up.
A moment later she was out of the water and being flung onto damp hard-packed earth. There were hands on her shoulders, slamming her facedown against the ground. The hands struck her back, over and over, until her chest spasmed and she coughed up a bitter stream of water.
She was still choking when the hands rolled her onto her back. She was looking up at Luke, a black shadow against a high blue sky touched with white clouds. The gentleness she was used to seeing in his expression was gone; he was no longer wolflike, but he looked furious. He hauled her into a sitting position, shaking her hard, over and over, until she gasped and struck out at him weakly. “Luke! Stop it! You’re hurting me—”
His hands left her shoulders. He grabbed her chin in one hand instead, forcing her head up, his eyes searching her face. “The water,” he said. “Did you cough up all the water?”
“I think so,” she whispered. Her voice came faintly from her swollen throat.
“Where’s your stele?” he demanded, and when she hesitated, his voice sharpened. “Clary. Your stele. Find it. ”
She pulled away from his grasp and rummaged in her wet pockets, her heart sinking as her fingers scrabbled against nothing but damp material. She turned a miserable face up to Luke. “I think I must have dropped it in the lake. ” She sniffled. “My … my mother’s stele …”
“Jesus, Clary. ” Luke stood up, clasping his hands distractedly behind his head. He was soaking wet too, water running off his jeans and heavy flannel coat in thick rivulets. The spectacles he usually wore halfway down his nose were gone. He looked down at her somberly. “You’re all right,” he said. It wasn’t really a question. “I mean, right now. You feel all right?”
She nodded. “Luke, what’s wrong? Why do we need my stele?”
Luke said nothing. He was looking around as if hoping to glean some assistance from their surroundings. Clary followed his gaze. They were on the wide dirt bank of a good-size lake. The water was pale blue, sparked here and there with reflected sunlight. She wondered if it was the source of the gold light she’d seen through the half-open Portal. There was nothing sinister about the lake now that she was next to it instead of in it. It was surrounded by green hills dotted with trees just beginning to turn russet and gold. Beyond the hills rose high mountains, their peaks capped in snow.
Clary shivered. “Luke, when we were in the water—did you go part wolf? I thought I saw—”
“My wolf self can swim better than my human self,” Luke said shortly. “And it’s stronger. I had to drag you through the water, and you weren’t offering much help. ”
“I know,” she said. “I’m sorry. You weren’t—you weren’t supposed to come with me. ”
“If I hadn’t, you’d be dead now,” he pointed out. “Magnus told you, Clary. You can’t use a Portal to get into the Glass City unless you have someone waiting for you on the other side. ”
“He said it was against the Law. He didn’t say if I tried to get there I’d bounce off. ”
“He told you there are wards up around the city that prevent Portaling into it. It’s not his fault you decided to play around with magic you just barely understand. Just because you have power doesn’t mean you know how to use it. ” He scowled.
“I’m sorry,” Clary said in a small voice. “It’s just—where are we now?”
“Lake Lyn,” said Luke. “I think the Portal took us as close to the city as it could and then dumped us. We’re on the outskirts of Alicante. ” He looked around, shaking his head half in amazement and half in weariness. “You did it, Clary. We’re in Idris. ”
“Idris?” Clary said, and stood staring stupidly out across the lake. It twinkled back at her, blue and undisturbed. “But—you said we were on the outskirts of Alicante. I don’t see the city anywhere. ”
“We’re miles away. ” Luke pointed. “You see those hills in the distance? We have to cross over those; the city is on the other side. If we had a car, we could get there in an hour, but we’re going to have to walk, which will probably take all afternoon. ” He squinted up at the sky. “We’d better get going. ”
Clary looked down at herself in dismay. The prospect of a daylong hike in soaking wet clothes did not appeal. “Isn’t there anything else … ?”
“Anything else we can do?” Luke said, and there was a sudden sharp edge of anger to his voice. “Do you have any suggestions, Clary, since you’re the one who brought us here?” He pointed away from the lake. “That way lie mountains. Passable on foot only in high summer. We’d freeze to death on the peaks. ” He turned, stabbed his finger in another direction. “That way lie miles of woods. They run all the way to the border. They’re uninhabited, at least by human beings. Past Alicante there’s farmland and country houses. Maybe we could get out of Idris, but we’d still have to pass through the city. A city, I may add, where Downworlders like myself are hardly welcome. ”
Clary looked at him with her mouth open. “Luke, I didn’t know—”
“Of course you didn’t know. You don’t know anything about Idris. You don’t even care about Idris. You were just upset about being left behind, like a child, and you had a tantrum. And now we’re here. Lost and freezing and—” He broke off, his face tight. “Come on. Let’s start walking. ”
Clary followed Luke along the edge of Lake Lyn in a miserable silence. As they walked, the sun dried her hair and skin, but the velvet coat held water like a sponge. It hung on her like a lead curtain as she tripped hastily over rocks and mud, trying to keep up with Luke’s long-legged stride. She made a few further attempts at conversation, but Luke remained stubbornly silent. She’d never done anything so bad before that an apology hadn’t softened Luke’s anger. This time, it seemed, was different.
The cliffs rose higher around the lake as they progressed, pocked with spots of darkness, like splashes of black paint. As Clary looked more closely, she realized they were caves in the rock. Some looked like they went very deep, twisting away into darkness. She imagined bats and creepy-crawling things hiding in the blackness, and shivered.
At last a narrow path cutting through the cliffs led them to a wide road lined with crushed stones. The lake curved away behind them, indigo in the late afternoon sunlight. The road cut through a flat grassy plain that rose to rolling hills in the distance. Clary’s heart sank; the city was nowhere in sight.
Luke was staring toward the hills with a look of intense dismay on his face. “We’re farther than I thought. It’s been such a long time…. ”
“Maybe if we found a bigger road,” Clary suggested, “we could hitchhike, or get a ride to the city, or—”
“Clary. There are no cars in Idris. ” Seeing her shocked expression, Luke laughed without much amusement. “The wards foul up the machinery. Most technology doesn’t work here—mobile phones, computers, the like. Alicante itself is lit—and powered—mostly by witchlight. ”
“Oh,” Clary said in a small voice. “Well—about how far from the city are we?”
“Far enough. ” Without looking at her, Luke raked both his hands back through his short hair. “There’s something I’d better tell you. ”
Clary tensed. All she’d wanted before was for Luke to talk to her; now she didn’t want it anymore. “It’s all right—”
“Did you notice,” Luke said, “that there weren’t any boats on Lake Lyn—no docks—nothing that might suggest the lake is used in any way by the people of Idris?”
“I just thought that was because it was so remote. ”
“It’s not that remote. A few hours from Alicante on foot. The fact is, the lake—” Luke broke off and sighed. “Did you ever notice the pattern on the library floor at the Institute in New York?”
Clary blinked. “I did, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. ”
“It was an angel rising out of a lake, holding a cup and a sword. It’s a repeating motif in Nephilim decorations. The legend is that the Angel Raziel rose out of Lake Lyn when he first appeared to Jonathan Shadowhunter, the first of the Nephilim, and gave him the Mortal Instruments. Ever since then the lake has been—”
“Sacred?” Clary suggested.
“Cursed,” Luke said. “The water of the lake is in some way poisonous to Shadowhunters. It won’t hurt Downworlders—the Fair Folk call it the Mirror of Dreams, and they drink its water because they claim it gives them true visions. But for a Shadowhunter to drink the water is very dangerous. It causes hallucinations, fever—it can drive a person to madness. ”
Clary felt cold all over. “That’s why you tried to make me spit the water out. ”
Luke nodded. “And why I wanted you to find your stele. With a healing rune, we could stave off the water’s effects. Without it, we need to get you to Alicante as quickly as possible. There are medicines, herbs, that will help, and I know someone who will almost certainly have them. ”
“Not the Lightwoods. ” Luke’s voice was firm. “Someone else. Someone I know. ”
He shook his head. “Let’s just pray this person hasn’t moved away in the last fifteen years. ”
“But I thought you said it was against the Law for Downworlders to come into Alicante without permission. ”
His answering smile was a reminder of the Luke who had caught her when she’d fallen off the jungle gym as a child, the Luke who had always protected her. “Some laws were meant to be broken. ”
The Penhallows’ house reminded Simon of the Institute—it had that same sense of belonging somehow to another era. The halls and stairways were narrow, made of stone and dark wood, and the windows were tall and thin, giving out onto views of the city. There was a distinctly Asian feel to the decorations: a shoji screen stood on the first-floor landing, and there were lacquer-flowered tall Chinese vases on the windowsills. There were also a number of silk-screen prints on the walls, showing what must have been scenes from Shadowhunter mythology, but with an Eastern feel to them—warlords wielding glowing seraph blades were prominently featured, alongside colorful dragonlike creatures and slithering, pop-eyed demons.
“Mrs. Penhallow—Jia—used to run the Beijing Institute. She splits her time between here and the Forbidden City,” Isabelle said as Simon paused to examine a print. “And the Penhallows are an old family. Wealthy. ”
“I can tell,” Simon muttered, looking up at the chandeliers, dripping cut-glass crystals like teardrops.
Jace, on the step behind them, grunted. “Move it along. We’re not taking a historical tour here. ”
Simon weighed a rude retort and decided it wasn’t worth bothering. He took the rest of the stairs at a rapid pace; they opened out at the bottom into a large room. It was an odd mixture of the old and the new: A glass picture window looked out onto the canal, and there was music playing from a stereo that Simon couldn’t see. But there was no television, no stack of DVDs or CDs, the sort of detritus Simon associated with modern living rooms. Instead there were a number of overstuffed couches grouped around a large fireplace, in which flames were crackling.
Alec stood by the fireplace, in dark Shadowhunter gear, drawing on a pair of gloves. He looked up as Simon entered the room and scowled his habitual scowl, but said nothing.
Seated on the couches were two teenagers Simon had never seen before, a boy and a girl. The girl looked as if she was partly Asian, with delicate, almond-shaped eyes, glossy dark hair pulled back from her face, and a mischievous expression. Her delicate chin narrowed into a point like a cat’s. She wasn’t exactly pretty, but she was very striking.
The black-haired boy beside her was more than striking. He was probably Jace’s height, but seemed taller, even sitting down; he was slender and muscular, with a pale, elegant, restless face, all cheekbones and dark eyes. There was something strangely familiar about him, as if Simon had met him before.
The girl spoke first. “Is that the vampire?” She looked Simon up and down as if she were taking his measurements. “I’ve never really been this close to a vampire before—not one I wasn’t planning to kill, at least. ” She cocked her head to the side. “He’s cute, for a Downworlder. ”
“You’ll have to forgive her; she has the face of an angel and the manners of a Moloch demon,” said the boy with a smile, getting to his feet. He held his hand out to Simon. “I’m Sebastian. Sebastian Verlac. And this is my cousin, Aline Penhallow. Aline—”
“I don’t shake hands with Downworlders,” Aline said, shrinking back against the couch cushions. “They don’t have souls, you know. Vampires. ”
Sebastian’s smile disappeared. “Aline—”
“It’s true. That’s why they can’t see themselves in mirrors, or go in the sun. ”
Very deliberately, Simon stepped backward, into the patch of sunlight in front of the window. He felt the sun hot on his back, his hair. His shadow was cast, long and dark, across the floor, almost reaching Jace’s feet.
Aline took a sharp breath but said nothing. It was Sebastian who spoke, looking at Simon with curious black eyes. “So it’s true. The Lightwoods said, but I didn’t think—”
“That we were telling the truth?” Jace said, speaking for the first time since they’d come downstairs. “We wouldn’t lie about something like this. Simon’s … unique. ”
“I kissed him once,” Isabelle said, to no one in particular.
Aline’s eyebrows shot up. “They really do let you do whatever you want in New York, don’t they?” she said, sounding half-horrified and half-envious. “The last time I saw you, Izzy, you wouldn’t even have considered—”
“The last time we all saw each other, Izzy was eight,” Alec said. “Things change. Now, Mom had to leave here in a hurry, so someone has to take her notes and records up to the Gard for her. I’m the only one who’s eighteen, so I’m the only one who can go while the Clave’s in session. ”
“We know,” Isabelle said, flopping down onto a couch. “You’ve already told us that, like, five times. ”
Alec, who was looking important, ignored this. “Jace, you brought the vampire here, so you’re in charge of him. Don’t let him go outside. ”
The vampire, Simon thought. It wasn’t like Alec didn’t know his name. He’d saved Alec’s life once. Now he was “the vampire. ” Even for Alec, who was prone to the occasional fit of inexplicable sullenness, this was obnoxious. Maybe it had something to do with being in Idris. Maybe Alec felt a greater need to assert his Shadowhunterness here.
“That’s what you brought me down here to tell me? Don’t let the vampire go outside? I wouldn’t have done that anyway. ” Jace slid onto the couch beside Aline, who looked pleased. “You’d better hurry up to the Gard and back. God knows what depravity we might get up to here without your guidance. ”
Alec gazed at Jace with calm superiority. “Try to hold it together. I’ll be back in half an hour. ” He vanished through an archway that led to a long corridor; somewhere in the distance, a door clicked shut.
“You shouldn’t bait him,” Isabelle said, shooting Jace a severe look. “They did leave him in charge. ”
Aline, Simon couldn’t help but notice, was sitting very close to Jace, their shoulders touching, even though there was plenty of room around them on the couch. “Did you ever think that in a past life Alec was an old woman with ninety cats who was always yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off her lawn? Because I do,” Jace said, and Aline giggled. “Just because he’s the only one who can go to the Gard—”
“What’s the Gard?” Simon asked, tired of having no idea what anyone was talking about.
Jace looked at him. His expression was cool, unfriendly; his hand was atop Aline’s where it rested on her thigh. “Sit down,” he said, jerking his head toward an armchair. “Or did you plan to hover in the corner like a bat?”
Great. Bat jokes. Simon settled himself uncomfortably in the chair.
“The Gard is the official meeting place of the Clave,” Sebastian said, apparently taking pity on Simon. “It’s where the Law is made, and where the Consul and Inquisitor reside. Only adult Shadowhunters are allowed onto its grounds when the Clave is in session. ”
“In session?” Simon asked, remembering what Jace had said earlier, upstairs. “You mean—not because of me?”
Sebastian laughed. “No. Because of Valentine and the Mortal Instruments. That’s why everyone’s here. To discuss what Valentine’s going to do next. ”
Jace said nothing, but at the sound of Valentine’s name, his face tightened.
“Well, he’ll go after the Mirror,” Simon said. “The third of the Mortal Instruments, right? Is it here in Idris? Is that why everyone’s here?”
There was a short silence before Isabelle answered. “The thing about the Mirror is that no one knows where it is. In fact, no one knows what it is. ”
“It’s a mirror,” Simon said. “You know—reflective, glass. I’m just assuming. ”
“What Isabelle means,” said Sebastian kindly, “is that nobody knows anything about the Mirror. There are multiple mentions of it in Shadowhunter histories, but no specifics about where it is, what it looks like, or, most important, what it does. ”
“We assume Valentine wants it,” said Isabelle, “but that doesn’t help much, since no one’s got a clue where it is. The Silent Brothers might have had an idea, but Valentine killed them all. There won’t be more for at least a little while. ”
“All of them?” Simon demanded in surprise. “I thought he only killed the ones in New York. ”
“The Bone City isn’t really in New York,” Isabelle said. “It’s like—remember the entrance to the Seelie Court, in Central Park? Just because the entrance is there doesn’t mean the Court itself is under the park. It’s the same with the Bone City. There are various entrances, but the City itself—” Isabelle broke off as Aline shushed her with a quick gesture. Simon looked from her face to Jace’s to Sebastian’s. They all had the same guarded expression, as if they’d just realized what they’d been doing: Telling Nephilim secrets to a Downworlder. A vampire. Not the enemy, precisely, but certainly someone who couldn’t be trusted.
Aline was the first one to break the silence. Fixing her pretty, dark gaze on Simon, she said, “So—what’s it like, being a vampire?”
“Aline!” Isabelle looked appalled. “You can’t just go around asking people what it’s like to be a vampire. ”
“I don’t see why,” Aline said. “He hasn’t been a vampire that long, has he? So he must remember what it was like being a person. ” She turned back to Simon. “Does blood still taste like blood to you? Or does it taste like something else now, like orange juice or something? Because I would think the taste of blood would—”
“It tastes like chicken,” Simon said, just to shut her up.
“Really?” Aline looked astonished.
“He’s making fun of you, Aline,” said Sebastian, “as well he should. I apologize for my cousin again, Simon. Those of us who were brought up outside Idris tend to have a little more familiarity with Downworlders. ”
“But weren’t you brought up in Idris?” Isabelle asked. “I thought your parents—”
“Isabelle,” Jace interrupted, but it was already too late; Sebastian’s expression darkened.
“My parents are dead,” he said. “A demon nest near Calais—it’s all right; it was a long time ago. ” He waved away Isabelle’s protestation of sympathy. “My aunt—my father’s sister—brought me up at the Institute in Paris. ”
“So you speak French?” Isabelle sighed. “I wish I spoke another language. But Hodge never thought we needed to learn anything but ancient Greek and Latin, and nobody speaks those. ”
“I also speak Russian and Italian. And some Romanian,” Sebastian said with a modest smile. “I could teach you some phrases—”
“Romanian? That’s impressive,” said Jace. “Not many people speak it. ”
“Do you?” Sebastian asked with interest.
“Not really,” Jace said with a smile so disarming Simon knew he was lying. “My Romanian is pretty much limited to useful phrases like, ‘Are these snakes poisonous?’ and ‘But you look much too young to be a police officer. ’”
Sebastian didn’t smile. There was something about his expression, Simon thought. It was mild—everything about him was calm—but Simon had the sense that the mildness hid something beneath it that belied his outward tranquility. “I do like traveling,” he said, his eyes on Jace. “But it’s good to be back, isn’t it?”
Jace paused in the act of playing with Aline’s fingers. “What do you mean?”
“Just that there’s nowhere else quite like Idris, however much we Nephilim might make homes for ourselves elsewhere. Don’t you agree?”
“Why are you asking me?” Jace’s look was icy.
Sebastian shrugged. “Well, you lived here as a child, didn’t you? And it’s been years since you’ve been back. Or did I get that wrong?”
“You didn’t get it wrong,” Isabelle said impatiently. “Jace likes to pretend that everyone isn’t talking about him, even when he knows they are. ”
“They certainly are. ” Though Jace was glaring at him, Sebastian seemed unruffled. Simon felt a sort of half-reluctant liking for the dark-haired Shadowhunter boy. It was rare to find someone who didn’t react to Jace’s taunts. “These days in Idris it’s all anyone talks about. You, the Mortal Instruments, your father, your sister—”
“Clarissa was supposed to come with you, wasn’t she?” Aline said. “I was looking forward to meeting her. What happened?”
Though Jace’s expression didn’t change, he drew his hand back from Aline’s, curling it into a fist. “She didn’t want to leave New York. Her mother’s ill in the hospital. ”
He never says our mother, Simon thought. It’s always her mother.
“It’s weird,” Isabelle said. “I really thought she wanted to come. ”
“She did,” said Simon. “In fact—”
Jace was on his feet, so fast that Simon didn’t even see him move. “Come to think of it, I have something I need to discuss with Simon. In private. ” He jerked his head toward the double doors at the far end of the room, his eyes glittering a challenge. “Come on, vampire,” he said, in a tone that left Simon with the distinct feeling that a refusal would probably end in some kind of violence. “Let’s talk. ”