Chapter 20: WEIGHED IN THE BALANCE
WATER STRUCK HER IN THE FACE LIKE A BLOW. CLARY WENT down, choking, into freezing darkness; her first thought was that the Portal had faded beyond repairing, and that she was stuck in the whirling black in-between place.
Her second thought was that she was already dead.
She was probably only actually unconscious for a few seconds, though it felt like the end of everything. When she came awake, it was with a shock that was like the shock of breaking through a layer of ice. She had been unconscious and now, suddenly, she wasn’t; she was lying on her back on cold, damp earth, staring up at a sky so full of stars it looked like a handful of silver pieces had been flung across its dark surface. Her mouth was full of brackish liquid; she turned her head to the side, coughed and spat and gasped until she could breathe again.
When her stomach had stopped spasming, she rolled onto her side. Her wrists were bound together with a faint band of glowing light, and her legs felt heavy and strange, prickling all over with intense pins and needles. She wondered if she’d lain on them strangely, or perhaps it was a side effect of nearly drowning. The back of her neck burned as if a wasp had stung her. With a gasp she heaved herself into a sitting position, legs stretched out awkwardly in front of her, and looked around.
She was on the shore of Lake Lyn, where the water gave way to powdery sand. A black wall of rock rose behind her, the cliffs she remembered from her time here with Luke. The sand itself was dark, glittering with silver mica. Here and there in the sand were witchlight torches, filling the air with their silvery glow, leaving a tracery of glowing lines across the surface of the water.
By the shore of the lake, a few feet away from where she sat, stood a low table made out of flat stones piled one on the other. It had clearly been assembled in haste; though the gaps between the stones were packed in with damp sand, some of the rocks were slipping away at angles. Placed on the surface of the stones was something that made Clary catch her breath—the Mortal Cup, and laid crossways atop it, the Mortal Sword, a tongue of black flame in the witchlight. Around the altar were the black lines of runes carved into the sand. She stared at them, but they were jumbled, meaningless—
A shadow cut across the sand, moving fast—the long black shadow of a man, made wavering and indistinct by the flickering light of the torches. By the time Clary raised her head, he was already standing over her.
The shock of seeing him was so enormous that it was almost no shock at all. She felt nothing as she stared up at her father, whose face hovered against the dark sky like the moon: white, austere, pitted with black eyes like meteor craters. Over his shirt were looped a number of leather straps holding a dozen or more weapons. They bristled behind him like a porcupine’s spines. He looked huge, impossibly broad, the terrifying statue of some warrior god intent on destruction.
“Clarissa,” he said. “You took quite a risk, Portaling here. You’re lucky I saw you appear in the water between one minute and the next. You were quite unconscious; if it weren’t for me, you would have drowned. ” A muscle beside his mouth moved slightly. “And I wouldn’t concern yourself overmuch with the alarm wards the Clave put up around the lake. I took those down the moment I arrived. No one knows you’re here. ”
I don’t believe you! Clary opened her mouth to fling the words in his face. There was no sound. It was like one of those nightmares where she would try to scream and scream and nothing would happen. Only a dry puff of air came from her mouth, the gasp of someone trying to scream with a cut throat.
Valentine shook his head. “Don’t bother trying to speak. I used a Rune of Silence, one of those that the Silent Brothers used, on the back of your neck. There’s a binding rune on your wrists, and another disabling your legs. I wouldn’t try to stand—your legs won’t hold you, and it’ll only cause you pain. ”
Clary glared at him, trying to bore into him with her eyes, cut him with her hatred. But he took no notice. “It could have been worse, you know. By the time I dragged you onto the bank, the lake poison had already started its work. I’ve cured you of it, by the way. Not that I expect your thanks. ” He smiled thinly. “You and I, we’ve never had a conversation, have we? Not a real conversation. You must be wondering why I never really seemed to have a father’s interest in you. I’m sorry if that hurt you. ”
Now her stare went from hateful to incredulous. How could they have a conversation when she couldn’t even speak? She tried to force the words out, but nothing came from her throat but a thin gasp.
Valentine turned back to his altar and placed his hand on the Mortal Sword. The sword gave off a black light, a sort of reverse glow, as if it were sucking the illumination from the air around it. “I didn’t know your mother was pregnant with you when she left me,” he said. He was speaking to her, Clary thought, in a way he never had before. His tone was calm, even conversational, but it wasn’t that. “I knew there was something wrong. She thought she was hiding her unhappiness. I took some blood from Ithuriel, dried it to a powder, and mixed it with her food, thinking it might cure her unhappiness. If I’d known she was pregnant, I wouldn’t have done it. I’d already resolved not to experiment again on a child of my own blood. ”
You’re lying, Clary wanted to scream at him. But she wasn’t sure he was. He still sounded strange to her. Different. Maybe it was because he was telling the truth.
“After she fled Idris, I looked for her for years,” he said. “And not just because she had the Mortal Cup. Because I loved her. I thought if I could only talk to her, I could make her see reason. I did what I did that night in a fit of rage, wanting to destroy her, destroy everything about our life together. But afterward I—” He shook his head, turning away to look out over the lake. “When I finally tracked her down, I’d heard rumors she’d had another child, a daughter. I assumed you were Lucian’s. He’d always loved her, always wanted to take her from me. I thought she must finally have given in. Have consented to have a child with a filthy Downworlder. ” His voice tightened. “When I found her in your apartment in New York, she was still barely conscious. She spat at me that I’d made a monster out of her first child, and she’d left me before I could do the same to her second. Then she went limp in my arms. All those years I’d looked for her, and that was all I had with her. Those few seconds in which she looked at me with a lifetime’s worth of hate. I realized something then. ”
He lifted Maellartach. Clary remembered how heavy even the half-turned Sword had been to hold, and saw as the blade rose that the muscles of Valentine’s arm stood out, hard and corded, like ropes snaking under the skin.
“I realized,” he said, “that the reason she left me was to protect you. Jonathan she hated, but you—she would have done anything to protect you. To protect you from me. She even lived among mundanes, which I know must have pained her. It must have hurt her never to be able to raise you with any of our traditions. You are half of what you could have been. You have your talent with runes, but it’s been squandered by your mundane upbringing. ”
He lowered the Sword. The tip of it hung, now, just by Clary’s face; she could see it out of the corner of her eye, floating at the edge of her vision like a silvery moth.
“I knew then that Jocelyn would never come back to me, because of you. You are the only thing in the world she ever loved more than she loved me. And because of you she hates me. And because of that, I hate the sight of you. ”
Clary turned her face away. If he was going to kill her, she didn’t want to see her death coming.
“Clarissa,” said Valentine. “Look at me. ”
No. She stared at the lake. Far out across the water she could see a dim red glow, like fire sunk away into ashes. She knew it was the light of the battle. Her mother was there, and Luke. Maybe it was fitting that they were together, even if she wasn’t with them.
I’ll keep my eyes on that light, she thought. I’ll keep looking at it no matter what. It’ll be the last thing I ever see.
“Clarissa,” Valentine said again. “You look just like her, do you know that? Just like Jocelyn. ”
She felt a sharp pain against her cheek. It was the blade of the Sword. He was pressing the edge of it against her skin, trying to force her to turn her head toward him.
“I’m going to raise the Angel now,” he said. “And I want you to watch as it happens. ”
There was a bitter taste in Clary’s mouth. I know why you’re so obsessed with my mother. Because she was the one thing you thought you had total control over that ever turned around and bit you. You thought you owned her and you didn’t. That’s why you want her here, right now, to witness you winning. That’s why you’ll make do with me.
The Sword bit farther into her cheek. Valentine said, “Look at me, Clary. ”
She looked. She didn’t want to, but the pain was too much—her head jerked to the side almost against her will, the blood dripping in great fat drops down her face, splattering the sand. A nauseous pain gripped her as she raised her head to look at her father.
He was gazing down at the blade of Maellartach. It, too, was stained with her blood. When he glanced back at her, there was a strange light in his eyes. “Blood is needed to complete this ceremony,” he said. “I intended to use my own, but when I saw you in the lake, I knew it was Raziel’s way of telling me to use my daughter’s instead. It’s why I cleared your blood of the lake’s taint. You are purified now—purified and ready. So thank you, Clarissa, for the use of your blood. ”
And in some way, Clary thought, he meant it, meant his gratitude. He had long ago lost the ability to distinguish between force and cooperation, between fear and willingness, between love and torture. And with that realization came a rush of numbness—what was the point of hating Valentine for being a monster when he didn’t even know he was one?
“And now,” Valentine said, “I just need a bit more,” and Clary thought, A bit more what?—just as he swung the Sword back and the starlight exploded off it, and she thought, Of course. It’s not just blood he wants, but death. The Sword had fed itself on enough blood by now; it probably had a taste for it, just like Valentine himself. Her eyes followed Maellartach’s black light as it sliced toward her—
And went flying. Knocked out of Valentine’s hand, it hurtled into the darkness. Valentine’s eyes went wide; his gaze flicked down, fastening first on his bleeding sword hand—and then he looked up and saw, at the same moment that Clary did, what had struck the Mortal Sword from his grasp.
Jace, a familiar-looking sword gripped in his left hand, stood at the edge of a rise of sand, barely a foot from Valentine. Clary could see from the older man’s expression that he hadn’t heard Jace approach any more than she had.
Clary’s heart caught at the sight of him. Dried blood crusted the side of his face, and there was a livid red mark at his throat. His eyes shone like mirrors, and in the witchlight they looked black—black as Sebastian’s. “Clary,” he said, not taking his eyes off his father. “Clary, are you all right?”
Jace! She struggled to say his name, but nothing could pass the blockage in her throat. She felt as if she were choking.
“She can’t answer you,” said Valentine. “She can’t speak. ”
Jace’s eyes flashed. “What have you done to her?” He jabbed the sword toward Valentine, who took a step back. The look on Valentine’s face was wary but not frightened. There was a calculation to his expression that Clary didn’t like. She knew she ought to feel triumphant, but she didn’t—if anything, she felt more panicked than she had a moment ago. She’d realized that Valentine was going to kill her—had accepted it—and now Jace was here, and her fear had expanded to encompass him as well. And he looked so … destroyed. His gear was ripped halfway open down one arm, and the skin beneath was crisscrossed with white lines. His shirt was torn across the front, and there was a fading iratze over his heart that had not quite managed to erase the angry red scar beneath it. Dirt stained his clothes, as if he’d been rolling around on the ground. But it was his expression that frightened her the most. It was so—bleak.
“A Rune of Quietude. She won’t be hurt by it. ” Valentine’s eyes fastened on Jace—hungrily, Clary thought, as if he were drinking in the sight of him. “I don’t suppose,” Valentine asked, “that you’ve come to join me? To be blessed by the Angel beside me?”
Jace’s expression didn’t change. His eyes were fixed on his adoptive father, and there was nothing in them—no lingering shred of affection or love or memory. There wasn’t even any hatred. Just … disdain, Clary thought. A cold disdain. “I know what you’re planning to do,” Jace said. “I know why you’re summoning the Angel. And I won’t let you do it. I’ve already sent Isabelle to warn the army—”
“Warnings will do them little good. This is not the sort of danger you can run from. ” Valentine’s gaze flicked down to Jace’s sword. “Put that down,” he began, “and we can talk—” He broke off then. “That’s not your sword. That’s a Morgenstern sword. ”
Jace smiled, a dark, sweet smile. “It was Jonathan’s. He’s dead now. ”
Valentine looked stunned. “You mean—”
“I took it from the ground where he’d dropped it,” Jace said, without emotion, “after I killed him. ”
Valentine seemed dumbfounded. “You killed Jonathan? How could you have?”
“He would have killed me,” said Jace. “I had no choice. ”
“I didn’t mean that. ” Valentine shook his head; he still looked stunned, like a boxer who’d been hit too hard in the moment before he collapsed to the mat. “I raised Jonathan—I trained him myself. There was no better warrior. ”
“Apparently,” Jace said, “there was. ”
“But—” And Valentine’s voice cracked, the first time Clary had ever heard a flaw in the smooth, unruffled facade of that voice. “But he was your brother. ”
“No. He wasn’t. ” Jace took a step forward, nudging the blade an inch closer to Valentine’s heart. “What happened to my real father? Isabelle said he died in a raid, but did he really? Did you kill him like you killed my mother?”
Valentine still looked stunned. Clary sensed that he was fighting for control—fighting against grief? Or just afraid to die? “I didn’t kill your mother. She took her own life. I cut you out of her dead body. If I hadn’t done that, you would have died along with her. ”
“But why? Why did you do it? You didn’t need a son; you had a son!” Jace looked deadly in the moonlight, Clary thought, deadly and strange, like someone she didn’t know. The hand that held the sword toward Valentine’s throat was unwavering. “Tell me the truth,” Jace said. “No more lies about how we’re the same flesh and blood. Parents lie to their children, but you—you’re not my father. And I want the truth. ”
“It wasn’t a son I needed,” Valentine said. “It was a soldier. I had thought Jonathan might be that soldier, but he had too much of the demon nature in him. He was too savage, too sudden, not subtle enough. I feared even then, when he was barely out of infancy, that he would never have the patience or the compassion to follow me, to lead the Clave in my footsteps. So I tried again with you. And with you I had the opposite trouble. You were too gentle. Too empathic. You felt others’ pain as if it were your own; you couldn’t even bear the death of your pets. Understand this, my son—I loved you for those things. But the very things I loved about you made you no use to me. ”
“So you thought I was soft and useless,” said Jace. “I suppose it will be surprising for you, then, when your soft and useless son cuts your throat. ”
“We’ve been through this. ” Valentine’s voice was steady, but Clary thought she could see the sweat gleaming at his temples, at the base of his throat. “You wouldn’t do that. You didn’t want to do it at Renwick’s, and you don’t want to do it now. ”
“You’re wrong. ” Jace spoke in a measured tone. “I have regretted not killing you every day since I let you go. My brother Max is dead because I didn’t kill you that day. Dozens, maybe hundreds, are dead because I stayed my hand. I know your plan. I know you hope to slaughter almost every Shadowhunter in Idris. And I ask myself: How many more have to die before I do what I should have done on Blackwell’s Island? No,” he said. “I don’t want to kill you. But I will. ”
“Don’t do this,” said Valentine. “Please. I don’t want to—”
“To die? No one wants to die, Father. ” The point of Jace’s sword slipped lower, and then lower until it was resting over Valentine’s heart. Jace’s face was calm, the face of an angel dispatching divine justice. “Do you have any last words?”
Blood spotted Valentine’s shirt where the tip of the blade rested, and Clary saw, in her mind’s eye, Jace at Renwick’s, his hand shaking, not wanting to hurt his father. And Valentine taunting him. Drive the blade in. Three inches—maybe four. It wasn’t like that now. Jace’s hand was steady. And Valentine looked afraid.
“Last words,” hissed Jace. “What are they?”
Valentine raised his head. His black eyes as he looked at the boy in front of him were grave. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I am so sorry. ” He stretched out a hand, as if he meant to reach out to Jace, even to touch him—his hand turned, palm up, the fingers opening—and then there was a silver flash and something flew by Clary in the darkness like a bullet shot out of a gun. She felt displaced air brush her cheek as it passed, and then Valentine had caught it out of the air, a long tongue of silver fire that flashed once in his hand as he brought it down.
It was the Mortal Sword. It left a tracery of black light on the air as Valentine drove the blade of it into Jace’s heart.
Jace’s eyes flew wide. A look of disbelieving confusion passed over his face; he glanced down at himself, where Maellartach stuck grotesquely out of his chest—it looked more bizarre than horrible, like a prop from a nightmare that made no logical sense. Valentine drew his hand back then, jerking the Sword out of Jace’s chest the way he might have jerked a dagger from its scabbard; as if it had been all that was holding him up, Jace went to his knees. His sword slid from his grasp and hit the damp earth. He looked down at it in puzzlement, as if he had no idea why he had been holding it, or why he had let it go. He opened his mouth as if to ask the question, and blood poured over his chin, staining what was left of his ragged shirt.
Everything after that seemed to Clary to happen very slowly, as if time were stretching itself out. She saw Valentine sink to the ground and pull Jace onto his lap as if Jace were still very small and could be easily held. He drew him close and rocked him, and he lowered his face and pressed it against Jace’s shoulder, and Clary thought for a moment that he might even have been crying, but when he lifted his head, Valentine’s eyes were dry. “My son,” he whispered. “My boy. ”
The terrible slowing of time stretched around Clary like a strangling rope, while Valentine held Jace and brushed his bloody hair back from his forehead. He held Jace while he died, and the light went out of his eyes, and then Valentine laid his adopted son’s body gently down on the ground, crossing his arms over his chest as if to hide the gaping, bloody wound there. “Ave—” he began, as if he meant to say the words over Jace, the Shadowhunter’s farewell, but his voice cracked, and he turned abruptly and walked back toward the altar.
Clary couldn’t move. Could barely breathe. She could hear her own heart beating, hear the scrape of her breathing in her dry throat. From the corner of her eye she could see Valentine standing by the edge of the lake, blood streaming from the blade of Maellartach and dripping into the bowl of the Mortal Cup. He was chanting words she didn’t understand. She didn’t care to try to understand. It would all be over soon, and she was almost glad. She wondered if she had enough energy to drag herself over to where Jace lay, if she could lie down beside him and wait for it to be over. She stared at him, lying motionless on the churned, bloody sand. His eyes were closed, his face still; if it weren’t for the gash across his chest, she could have told herself he was asleep.
But he wasn’t. He was a Shadowhunter; he had died in battle; he deserved the last benediction. Ave atque vale. Her lips shaped the words, though they fell from her mouth in silent puffs of air. Halfway through, she stopped, her breath catching. What should she say? Hail and farewell, Jace Wayland? That name was not truly his. He had never even really been named, she thought with agony, just given the name of a dead child because it had suited Valentine’s purposes at the time. And there was so much power in a name….
Her head whipped around, and she stared at the altar. The runes surrounding it had begun to glow. They were runes of summoning, runes of naming, and runes of binding. They were not unlike the runes that had kept Ithuriel imprisoned in the cellar beneath the Wayland manor. Now very much against her will, she thought of the way Jace had looked at her then, the blaze of faith in his eyes, his belief in her. He had always thought she was strong. He had showed it in everything he did, in every look and every touch. Simon had faith in her too, yet when he’d held her, it had been as if she were something fragile, something made of delicate glass. But Jace had held her with all the strength he had, never wondering if she could take it—he’d known she was as strong as he was.
Valentine was dipping the bloody Sword over and over in the water of the lake now, chanting low and fast. The water of the lake was rippling, as if a giant hand were stroking fingers lightly across its surface.
Clary closed her eyes. Remembering the way Jace had looked at her the night she’d freed Ithuriel, she couldn’t help but imagine the way he’d look at her now if he saw her trying to lie down to die on the sand beside him. He wouldn’t be touched, wouldn’t think it was a beautiful gesture. He’d be angry at her for giving up. He’d be so—disappointed.
Clary lowered herself so that she was lying on the ground, heaving her dead legs behind her. Slowly she crawled across the sand, pushing herself along with her knees and bound hands. The glowing band around her wrists burned and stung. Her shirt tore as she dragged herself across the ground, and the sand scraped the bare skin of her stomach. She barely felt it. It was hard work, pulling herself along like this—sweat ran down her back, between her shoulder blades. When she finally reached the circle of runes, she was panting so loudly that she was terrified Valentine would hear her.
But he didn’t even turn around. He had the Mortal Cup in one hand and the Sword in the other. As she watched, he drew his right hand back, spoke several words that sounded like Greek, and threw the Cup. It shone like a falling star as it hurtled toward the water of the lake and vanished beneath the surface with a faint splash.
The circle of runes was giving off a faint heat, like a partly banked fire. Clary had to twist and struggle to reach her hand around to the stele jammed into her belt. The pain in her wrists spiked as her fingers closed around the handle; she pulled it free with a muffled gasp of relief.
She couldn’t separate her wrists, so she gripped the stele awkwardly in both hands. She pushed herself up with her elbows, staring down at the runes. She could feel the heat of them on her face; they had begun to shimmer like witchlight. Valentine had the Mortal Sword poised, ready to throw it; he was chanting the last words of the summoning spell. With a final burst of strength Clary drove the tip of the stele into the sand, not scraping aside the runes Valentine had drawn but tracing her own pattern over them, writing a new rune over the one that symbolized his name. It was such a small rune, she thought, such a small change—nothing like her immensely powerful Alliance rune, nothing like the Mark of Cain.
But it was all she could do. Spent, Clary rolled onto her side as Valentine drew his arm back and let the Mortal Sword fly.
Maellartach hurtled end over end, a black and silver blur that joined soundlessly with the black and silver lake. A great plume went up from the place where it splashed down: a flowering of platinum water. The plume rose higher and higher, a geyser of molten silver, like rain falling upward. There was a great crashing noise, the sound of shattering ice, a glacier breaking—and then the lake seemed to blow apart, silver water exploding upward like a reverse hailstorm.
And rising with the hailstorm came the Angel. Clary was not sure what she’d expected—something like Ithuriel, but Ithuriel had been diminished by many years of captivity and torment. This was an angel in the full force of his glory. As he rose from the water, her eyes began to burn as if she were staring into the sun.
Valentine’s hands had fallen to his sides. He was gazing upward with a rapt expression, a man watching his greatest dream become reality. “Raziel,” he breathed.
The Angel continued to rise, as if the lake were sinking away, revealing a great column of marble at its center. First his head emerged from the water, streaming hair like chains of silver and gold. Then shoulders, white as stone, and then a bare torso—and Clary saw that the Angel was Marked all over with runes just as the Nephilim were, although Raziel’s runes were golden and alive, moving across his white skin like sparks flying from a fire. Somehow, at the same time, the Angel was both enormous and no bigger than a man: Clary’s eyes hurt trying to take all of him in, and yet he was all that she could see. As he rose, wings burst from his back and opened wide across the lake, and they were gold too, and feathered, and set into each feather was a single golden staring eye.
It was beautiful, and also terrifying. Clary wanted to look away, but she wouldn’t. She would watch it all. She would watch it for Jace, because he couldn’t.
It’s just like all those pictures, she thought. The Angel rising from the lake, the Sword in one hand and the Cup in the other. Both were streaming water, but Raziel was dry as a bone, his wings undampened. His feet rested, white and bare, on the surface of the lake, stirring its waters into small ripples of movement. His face, beautiful and inhuman, gazed down at Valentine.
And then he spoke.
His voice was like a cry and a shout and like music, all at once. It contained no words, yet was totally comprehensible. The force of his breath nearly knocked Valentine backward; he dug the heels of his boots into the sand, his head tilted back as if he were walking against a gale. Clary felt the wind of the Angel’s breath pass over her: It was hot like air escaping from a furnace, and smelled of strange spices.
It has been a thousand years since I was last summoned to this place, Raziel said. Jonathan Shadowhunter called on me then, and begged me to mix my blood with the blood of mortal men in a Cup and create a race of warriors who would rid this earth of demonkind. I did all that he asked and told him I would do no more. Why do you summon me now, Nephilim?
Valentine’s voice was eager. “A thousand years have passed, Glorious One, but demonkind are still here. ”
What is that to me? A thousand years for an angel pass between one blink of an eye and another.
“The Nephilim you created were a great race of men. For many years they valiantly battled to rid this plane of demon taint. But they have failed due to weakness and corruption in their ranks. I intend to return them to their former glory—”
Glory? The Angel sounded faintly curious, as if the word were strange to him. Glory belongs to God alone.
Valentine didn’t waver. “The Clave as the first Nephilim created it exists no more. They have allied themselves with Downworlders, the demon-tainted nonhumans who infest this world like fleas on the carcass of a rat. It is my intention to cleanse this world, to destroy every Downworlder along with every demon—”
Demons do not possess souls. But as for the creatures you speak of, the Children of Moon, Night, Lilith, and Faerie, all are souled. It seems that your rules as to what does and does not constitute a human being are stricter than our own. Clary could have sworn the Angel’s voice had taken on a dry tone. Do you intend to challenge heaven like that other Morning Star whose name you bear, Shadowhunter?
“Not to challenge heaven, no, Lord Raziel. To ally myself with heaven—”
In a war of your making? We are heaven, Shadowhunter. We do not fight in your mundane battles.
When Valentine spoke again, he sounded almost hurt. “Lord Raziel. Surely you would not have allowed such a thing as a ritual by which you might be summoned to exist if you did not intend to be summoned. We Nephilim are your children. We need your guidance. ”
Guidance? Now the Angel sounded amused. That hardly seems to be why you brought me here. You seek rather your own renown.
“Renown?” Valentine echoed hoarsely. “I have given everything for this cause. My wife. My children. I have not withheld my sons. I have given everything I have for this—everything. ”
The Angel simply hovered, gazing down at Valentine with his weird, inhuman eyes. His wings moved in slow, undeliberate motions, like the passage of clouds across the sky. At last he said, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son on an altar much like this one, to see who it was that Abraham loved more, Isaac or God. But no one asked you to sacrifice your son, Valentine.
Valentine glanced down at the altar at his feet, splashed with Jace’s blood, and then back up at the Angel. “If I must, I will compel this from you,” he said. “But I would rather have your willing cooperation. ”
When Jonathan Shadowhunter summoned me, said the Angel, I gave him my assistance because I could see that his dream of a world free of demons was a true one. He imagined a heaven on this earth. But you dream only of your own glory, and you do not love heaven. My brother Ithuriel can attest to that.
Valentine blanched. “But—”
Did you think that I would not know? The Angel smiled. It was the most terrible smile Clary had ever seen. It is true that the master of the circle you have drawn can compel from me a single action. But you are not that master.
Valentine stared. “My Lord Raziel—there is no one else—”
But there is, said the Angel. There is your daughter.
Valentine whirled. Clary, lying half-conscious in the sand, her wrists and arms a screaming agony, stared defiantly back. For a moment their eyes met—and he looked at her, really looked at her, and she realized it was the first time her father had ever looked her in the face and seen her. The first and only time.
“Clarissa,” he said. “What have you done?”
Clary stretched out her hand, and with her finger she wrote in the sand at his feet. She didn’t draw runes. She drew words—the words he had said to her the first time he’d seen what she could do, when she’d drawn the rune that had destroyed his ship.
MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN.
His eyes widened, just as Jace’s eyes had widened before he’d died. Valentine had gone bone white. He turned slowly to face the Angel, raising his hands in a gesture of supplication. “My Lord Raziel—”
The Angel opened his mouth and spat. Or at least that was how it seemed to Clary—that the Angel spat, and that what came from his mouth was a shooting spark of white fire, like a burning arrow. The arrow flew straight and true across the water and buried itself in Valentine’s chest. Or maybe “buried” wasn’t the word—it tore through him, like a rock through thin paper, leaving a smoking hole the size of a fist. For a moment Clary, staring up, could look through her father’s chest and see the lake and the fiery glow of the Angel beyond.
The moment passed. Like a felled tree, Valentine crashed to the ground and lay still—his mouth open in a silent cry, his blind eyes fixed forever in a last look of incredulous betrayal.
That was the justice of heaven. I trust that you are not dismayed.
Clary looked up. The Angel hovered over her, like a tower of white flame, blotting out the sky. His hands were empty; the Mortal Cup and Maellartach lay by the shore of the lake, lapped by the subsiding waves.
You can compel me to one action, Clarissa Morgenstern. What is it that you want?
Clary opened her mouth. No sound came out.
Ah, yes, the Angel said, and there was gentleness in his voice now. The rune. The many eyes in his wings blinked. Something brushed over her. It was soft, softer than silk or any other cloth, softer than a whisper or the brush of a feather. It was what she imagined clouds might feel like if they had a texture. A faint scent came with the touch—a pleasant scent, heady and sweet.
The pain vanished from her wrists. No longer bound together, her hands fell to her sides. The stinging at the back of her neck was gone too, and the heaviness from her legs. She struggled to her knees. More than anything, she wanted to crawl across the bloody sand toward the place where Jace’s body lay, crawl to him and lie down beside him and put her arms around him, even though he was gone. But the Angel’s voice compelled her; she remained where she was, staring up into his brilliant golden light.
The battle on Brocelind Plain is ending. Morgenstern’s hold over his demons vanished with his death. Already many are fleeing; the rest will soon be destroyed. There are Nephilim riding to the shores of this lake at this very moment. If you have a request, Shadowhunter, speak it now. The Angel paused. And remember that I am not a genie. Choose your desire wisely.
Clary hesitated—only for a moment, but the moment stretched out as long as any moment ever had. She could ask for anything, she thought dizzily, anything—an end to pain or world hunger or disease, or for peace on earth. But then again, perhaps these things weren’t in the power of angels to grant, or they would already have been granted. And perhaps people were supposed to find these things for themselves.
It didn’t matter, anyway. There was only one thing she could ask for, in the end, only one real choice.
She raised her eyes to the Angel’s.
“Jace,” she said.
The Angel’s expression didn’t change. She had no idea whether Raziel thought her request a good one or a bad one, or whether—she thought with a sudden burst of panic—he intended to grant it at all.
Close your eyes, Clarissa Morgenstern, the Angel said.
Clary shut her eyes. You didn’t say no to an angel, no matter what it had in mind. Her heart pounding, she sat floating in the darkness behind her eyelids, resolutely trying not to think of Jace. But his face appeared against the blank screen of her closed eyelids anyway—not smiling at her but looking sidelong, and she could see the scar at his temple, the uneven curl at the corner of his mouth, and the silver line on his throat where Simon had bitten him—all the marks and flaws and imperfections that made up the person she loved most in the world. Jace. A bright light lit her vision to scarlet, and she fell back against the sand, wondering if she was going to pass out; or maybe she was dying—but she didn’t want to die, not now that she could see Jace’s face so clearly in front of her. She could almost hear his voice, too, saying her name, the way he’d whispered it at Renwick’s, over and over again. Clary. Clary. Clary.
“Clary,” Jace said. “Open your eyes. ”
She was lying on the sand, in her torn, wet, and bloodied clothes. That was the same. What was not the same was that the Angel was gone, and with him the blinding white light that had lit the darkness to day. She was gazing up at the night sky, white stars like mirrors shining in the blackness, and leaning over her, the light in his eyes more brilliant than any of the stars, was Jace.
Her eyes drank him in, every part of him, from his tangled hair to his bloodstained, grimy face to his eyes shining through the layers of dirt; from the bruises visible through his torn sleeves to the gaping, blood-soaked tear down the front of his shirt, through which his bare skin showed—and there was no mark, no gash, to indicate where the Sword had gone in. She could see the pulse beating in his throat, and almost threw her arms around him at the sight because it meant his heart was beating and that meant—
“You’re alive,” she whispered. “Really alive. ”
With a slow wonderment he reached to touch her face. “I was in the dark,” he said softly. “There was nothing there but shadows, and I was a shadow, and I knew that I was dead, and that it was over, all of it. And then I heard your voice. I heard you say my name, and it brought me back. ”
“Not me. ” Clary’s throat tightened. “The Angel brought you back. ”
“Because you asked him to. ” Silently he traced the outline of her face with his fingers, as if reassuring himself that she was real. “You could have had anything else in the world, and you asked for me. ”
She smiled up at him. Filthy as he was, covered in blood and dirt, he was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. “But I don’t want anything else in the world. ”
At that, the light in his eyes, already bright, went to such a blaze that she could hardly bear to look at him. She thought of the Angel, and how he had burned like a thousand torches, and that Jace had in him some of that same incandescent blood, and how that burning shone through him now, through his eyes, like light through the cracks in a door.
I love you, Clary wanted to say. And, I would do it again. I would always ask for you. But those weren’t the words she said.
“You’re not my brother,” she told him, a little breathlessly, as if, having realized she hadn’t yet said them, she couldn’t get the words out of her mouth fast enough. “You know that, right?”
Very slightly, through the grime and blood, Jace grinned. “Yes,” he said. “I know that. ”