Chapter 3: AMATIS
BY LATE AFTERNOON LUKE AND CLARY HAD LEFT THE LAKE far behind and were pacing over seemingly endless broad, flat swatches of high grass. Here and there a gentle rise reared up into a high hill topped with black rocks. Clary was exhausted from staggering up and down the hills, one after another, her boots slipping on the damp grass as if it were greased marble. By the time they left the fields behind for a narrow dirt road, her hands were bleeding and grass-stained.
Luke stalked ahead of her with determined strides. Occasionally he would point out items of interest in a somber voice, like the world’s most depressed tour guide. “We just crossed Brocelind Plain,” he said as they climbed a rise and saw a tangled expanse of dark trees stretching away toward the west, where the sun hung low in the sky. “This is the forest. The woods used to cover most of the lowland of the country. Much of it was cut down to make way for the city—and to clear out the wolf packs and vampire nests that tended to crop up there. Brocelind Forest has always been a hiding place for Downworlders. ”
They trudged along in silence as the road curved alongside the forest for several miles before taking an abrupt turn. The trees seemed to lift away as a ridge rose above them, and Clary blinked when they turned the corner of a high hill—unless her eyes were deceiving her, there were houses down there. Small, white rows of houses, orderly as a Munchkin village. “We’re here!” she exclaimed, and darted forward, only stopping when she realized that Luke was no longer beside her.
She turned and saw him standing in the middle of the dusty road, shaking his head. “No,” he said, moving to catch up with her. “That’s not the city. ”
“Then is it a town? You said there weren’t any towns near here—”
“It’s a graveyard. It’s Alicante’s City of Bones. Did you think the City of Bones was the only resting place we had?” He sounded sad. “This is the necropolis, the place we bury those who die in Idris. You’ll see. We have to walk through it to get to Alicante. ”
Clary hadn’t been to a graveyard since the night Simon had died, and the memory gave her a bone-deep shiver as she passed along the narrow lanes that threaded among the mausoleums like white ribbon. Someone took care of this place: The marble gleamed as if freshly scrubbed, and the grass was evenly cut. There were bunches of white flowers laid here and there on the graves; she thought at first they were lilies, but they had a spicy, unfamiliar scent that made her wonder if they were native to Idris. Each tomb looked like a little house; some even had metal or wire gates, and the names of Shadowhunter families were carved over the doors. CARTWRIGHT. MERRYWEATHER. HIGHTOWER. BLACKWELL. MIDWINTER. She stopped at one: HERONDALE.
She turned to look at Luke. “That was the Inquisitor’s name. ”
“This is her family tomb. Look. ” He pointed. Beside the door were white letters cut into the gray marble. They were names. MARCUS HERONDALE. STEPHEN HERONDALE. They had both died in the same year. Much as Clary had hated the Inquisitor, she felt something twist inside her, a pity she couldn’t help. To lose your husband and your son, so close together … Three words in Latin ran under Stephen’s name: AVE ATQUE VALE.
“What does that mean?” she asked, turning to Luke.
“It means ‘Hail and farewell. ’ It’s from a poem by Catullus. At some point it became what the Nephilim say during funerals, or when someone dies in battle. Now come on—it’s better not to dwell on this stuff, Clary. ” Luke took her shoulder and moved her gently away from the tomb.
Maybe he is right, Clary thought. Maybe it is better not to think too much about death and dying right now. She kept her eyes averted as they made their way out of the necropolis. They were almost through the iron gates at the far end when she spotted a smaller mausoleum, growing like a white toadstool in the shadow of a leafy oak tree. The name above the door leaped out at her as if it had been written in lights.
“Clary—” Luke reached for her, but she was already gone. With a sigh he followed her into the tree’s shadow, where she stood transfixed, reading the names of the grandparents and great-grandparents she had never even known she had. ALOYSIUS FAIRCHILD. ADELE FAIRCHILD, B. NIGHTSHADE. GRANVILLE FAIRCHILD. And below all those names: JOCELYN MORGENSTERN, B. FAIRCHILD.
A wave of cold went over Clary. Seeing her mother’s name there was like revisiting the nightmares she had sometimes where she was at her mother’s funeral and no one would tell her what had happened or how her mother had died.
“But she’s not dead,” she said, looking up at Luke. “She’s not—”
“The Clave didn’t know that,” he told her gently.
Clary gasped. She could no longer hear Luke’s voice or see him standing in front of her. Before her rose a jagged hillside, gravestones protruding from the dirt like snapped-off bones. A black headstone loomed up in front of her, letters cut unevenly into its face: CLARISSA MORGENSTERN, B. 1991 D. 2007. Under the words was a crudely drawn child’s sketch of a skull with gaping eye sockets. Clary staggered backward with a scream.
Luke caught her by the shoulders. “Clary, what is it? What’s wrong?”
She pointed. “There—look—”
But it was gone. The grass stretched out ahead of her, green and even, the white mausoleums neat and plain in their orderly rows.
She twisted to look up at him. “I saw my own gravestone,” she said. “It said I was going to die—now—this year. ” She shuddered.
Luke looked grim. “It’s the lake water,” he said. “You’re starting to hallucinate. Come on—we haven’t got much time left. ”
Jace marched Simon upstairs and down a short hallway lined with doors; he paused only to straight-arm one of them open, a scowl on his face. “In here,” he said, half-shoving Simon through the doorway. Simon saw what looked like a library inside: rows of bookshelves, long couches, and armchairs. “We should have some privacy—”
He broke off as a figure rose nervously from one of the armchairs. It was a little boy with brown hair and glasses. He had a small, serious face, and there was a book clutched in one of his hands. Simon was familiar enough with Clary’s reading habits to recognize it as a manga volume even at a distance.
Jace frowned. “Sorry, Max. We need the room. Grown-up talk. ”
“But Izzy and Alec already kicked me out of the living room so they could have grown-up talk,” Max complained. “Where am I supposed to go?”
Jace shrugged. “Your room?” He jerked a thumb toward the door. “Time to do your duty for your country, kiddo. Scram. ”
Looking aggrieved, Max stalked past them both, his book clutched to his chest. Simon felt a twinge of sympathy—it sucked to be old enough to want to know what was going on, but so young you were always dismissed. The boy shot him a look as he went past—a scared, suspicious glance. That’s the vampire, his eyes said.
“Come on. ” Jace hustled Simon into the room, shutting and locking the door behind them. With the door closed the room was so dimly lit even Simon found it dark. It smelled like dust. Jace walked across the floor and threw open the curtains at the far end of the room, revealing a tall, single-paned picture window that gave out onto a view of the canal just outside. Water splashed against the side of the house just a few feet below them, under stone railings carved with a weather-beaten design of runes and stars.
Jace turned to Simon with a scowl. “What the hell is your problem, vampire?”
“My problem? You’re the one who practically dragged me out of there by my hair. ”
“Because you were about to tell them that Clary never canceled her plans to come to Idris. You know what would happen then? They’d contact her and arrange for her to come. And I already told you why that can’t happen. ”
Simon shook his head. “I don’t get you,” he said. “Sometimes you act like all you care about is Clary, and then you act like—”
Jace stared at him. The air was full of dancing dust motes; they made a shimmering curtain between the two boys. “Act like what?”
“You were flirting with Aline,” Simon said. “It didn’t seem like all you cared about was Clary then. ”
“That is so not your business,” Jace said. “And besides, Clary is my sister. You do know that. ”
“I was there in the faerie court too,” Simon replied. “I remember what the Seelie Queen said. The kiss that will free the girl is the kiss that she most desires. ”
“I bet you remember that. Burned into your brain, is it, vampire?”
Simon made a noise in the back of his throat that he hadn’t even realized he was capable of making. “Oh, no you don’t. I’m not having this argument. I’m not fighting over Clary with you. It’s ridiculous. ”
“Then why did you bring all this up?”
“Because,” Simon said. “If you want me to lie—not to Clary, but to all your Shadowhunter friends—if you want me to pretend that it was Clary’s own decision not to come here, and if you want me to pretend that I don’t know about her powers, or what she can really do, then you have to do something for me. ”
“Fine,” Jace said. “What is it you want?”
Simon was silent for a moment, looking past Jace at the line of stone houses fronting the sparkling canal. Past their crenellated roofs he could see the gleaming tops of the demon towers. “I want you to do whatever you need to do to convince Clary that you don’t have feelings for her. And don’t—don’t tell me you’re her brother; I already know that. Stop stringing her along when you know that whatever you two have has no future. And I’m not saying this because I want her for myself. I’m saying it because I’m her friend and I don’t want her hurt. ”
Jace looked down at his hands for a long moment without answering. They were thin hands, the fingers and knuckles scuffed with old calluses. The backs of them were laced with the thin white lines of old Marks. They were a soldier’s hands, not a teenage boy’s. “I’ve already done that,” he said. “I told her I was only interested in being her brother. ”
“Oh. ” Simon had expected Jace to fight him on this, to argue, not to just give up. A Jace who just gave up was new—and left Simon feeling almost ashamed for having asked. Clary never mentioned it to me, he wanted to say, but then why would she have? Come to think of it, she had seemed unusually quiet and withdrawn lately whenever Jace’s name had come up. “Well, that takes care of that, I guess. There’s one last thing. ”
“Oh?” Jace spoke without much apparent interest. “And what’s that?”
“What was it Valentine said when Clary drew that rune on the ship? It sounded like a foreign language. Meme something—?”
“Mene mene tekel upharsin,” Jace said with a faint smile. “You don’t recognize it? It’s from the Bible, vampire. The old one. That’s your book, isn’t it?”
“Just because I’m Jewish doesn’t mean I’ve memorized the Old Testament. ”
“It’s the Writing on the Wall. ‘God hath numbered thy kingdom, and brought it to an end; thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting. ’ It’s a portent of doom—it means the end of an empire. ”
“But what does that have to do with Valentine?”
“Not just Valentine,” said Jace. “All of us. The Clave and the Law—what Clary can do overturns everything they know to be true. No human being can create new runes, or draw the sort of runes Clary can. Only angels have that power. And since Clary can do that—well, it seems like a portent. Things are changing. The Laws are changing. The old ways may never be the right ways again. Just as the rebellion of the angels ended the world as it was—it split heaven in half and created hell—this could mean the end of the Nephilim as they currently exist. This is our war in heaven, vampire, and only one side can win it. And my father means it to be his. ”
* * *
Though the air was still cold, Clary was boiling hot in her wet clothes. Sweat ran down her face in rivulets, dampening the collar of her coat as Luke, his hand on her arm, hurried her along the road under a rapidly darkening sky. They were within sight of Alicante now. The city was in a shallow valley, bisected by a silvery river that flowed into one end of the city, seemed to vanish, and flowed again out the other. A tumble of honey-colored buildings with red slate roofs and a tangle of steeply winding dark streets backed up against the side of a steep hill. On the crown of the hill rose a dark stone edifice, pillared and soaring, with a glittering tower at each cardinal direction point: four in all. Scattered among the other buildings were the same tall, thin, glasslike towers, each one shimmering like quartz. They were like glass needles piercing the sky. The fading sunlight struck dull rainbows from their surfaces like a match striking sparks. It was a beautiful sight, and very strange.
You have never seen a city until you have seen Alicante of the glass towers.
“What was that?” Luke said, overhearing. “What did you say?”
Clary hadn’t realized she’d spoken out loud. Embarrassed, she repeated her words, and Luke looked at her in surprise. “Where did you hear that?”
“Hodge,” Clary said. “It was something Hodge said to me. ”
Luke peered at her more closely. “You’re flushed,” he said. “How are you feeling?”
Clary’s neck was aching, her whole body on fire, her mouth dry. “I’m fine,” she said. “Let’s just get there, okay?”
“Okay. ” Luke pointed; at the edge of the city, where the buildings ended, Clary could see an archway, two sides curving to a pointed top. A Shadowhunter in black gear stood watch inside the shadow of the archway. “That’s the North Gate—it’s where Downworlders can legally enter the city, provided they’ve got the paperwork. Guards are posted there night and day. Now, if we were on official business, or had permission to be here, we’d go in through it. ”
“But there aren’t any walls around the city,” Clary pointed out. “It doesn’t seem like much of a gate. ”
“The wards are invisible, but they’re there. The demon towers control them. They have for a thousand years. You’ll feel it when you pass through them. ” He glanced one more time at her flushed face, concern crinkling the corners of his eyes. “Are you ready?”
She nodded. They moved away from the gate, along the east side of the city, where buildings were more thickly clustered. With a gesture to be quiet, Luke drew her toward a narrow opening between two houses. Clary shut her eyes as they approached, almost as if she expected to be smacked in the face with an invisible wall as soon as they stepped onto the streets of Alicante. It wasn’t like that. She felt a sudden pressure, as if she were in an airplane that was dropping. Her ears popped—and then the feeling was gone, and she was standing in the alley between the buildings.
Just like an alley in New York—like every alley in the world, apparently—it smelled like cat pee.
Clary peered around the corner of one of the buildings. A larger street stretched away up the hill, lined with small shops and houses. “There’s no one around,” she observed, with some surprise.
In the fading light Luke looked gray. “There must be a meeting going on up at the Gard. It’s the only thing that could get everyone off the streets at once. ”
“But isn’t that good? There’s no one around to see us. ”
“It’s good and bad. The streets are mostly deserted, which is good. But anyone who does happen by will be much more likely to notice and remark on us. ”
“I thought you said everyone was at the Gard. ”
Luke smiled faintly. “Don’t be so literal, Clary. I meant most of the city. Children, teenagers, anyone exempted from the meeting, they won’t be there. ”
Teenagers. Clary thought of Jace, and, despite herself, her pulse leaped forward like a horse charging out of the starting gate at a race.
Luke frowned, almost as if he could read her thoughts. “As of now, I’m breaking the Law by being in Alicante without declaring myself to the Clave at the gate. If anyone recognizes me, we could be in real trouble. ” He glanced up at the narrow strip of russet sky visible between the rooftops. “We have to get off the streets. ”
“I thought we were going to your friend’s house. ”
“We are. And she’s not a friend, precisely. ”
“Just follow me. ” Luke ducked into a passage between two houses, so narrow that Clary could reach out and touch the walls of both houses with her fingers as they made their way down it and onto a cobblestoned winding street lined with shops. The buildings themselves looked like a cross between a Gothic dreamscape and a children’s fairy tale. The stone facings were carved with all manner of creatures out of myth and legend—the heads of monsters were a prominent feature, interspersed with winged horses, something that looked like a house on chicken legs, mermaids, and, of course, angels. Gargoyles jutted from every corner, their snarling faces contorted. And everywhere there were runes: splashed across doors, hidden in the design of an abstract carving, dangling from thin metal chains like wind chimes that twisted in the breeze. Runes for protection, for good luck, even for good business; staring at them all, Clary began to feel a little dizzy.
They walked in silence, keeping to the shadows. The cobblestone street was deserted, shop doors shut and barred. Clary cast furtive glances into the windows as they passed. It was strange to see a display of expensive decorated chocolates in one window and in the next an equally lavish display of deadly-looking weapons—cutlasses, maces, nail-studded cudgels, and an array of seraph blades in different sizes. “No guns,” she said. Her own voice sounded very far away.
Luke blinked at her. “What?”
“Shadowhunters,” she said. “They never seem to use guns. ”
“Runes keep gunpowder from igniting,” he said. “No one knows why. Still, Nephilim have been known to use the occasional rifle on lycanthropes. It doesn’t take a rune to kill us—just silver bullets. ” His voice was grim. Suddenly his head went up. In the dim light it was easy to imagine his ears pricking forward like a wolf’s. “Voices,” he said. “They must be finished at the Gard. ”
He took her arm and pulled her sideways off the main street. They emerged into a small square with a well at its center. A masonry bridge arched over a narrow canal just ahead of them. In the fading light the water in the canal looked almost black. Clary could hear the voices herself now, coming from the streets nearby. They were raised, angry-sounding. Clary’s dizziness increased—she felt as if the ground were tilting under her, threatening to send her sprawling. She leaned back against the wall of the alley, gasping for air.
“Clary,” Luke said. “Clary, are you all right?”
His voice sounded thick, strange. She looked at him, and the breath died in her throat. His ears had grown long and pointed, his teeth razor-sharp, his eyes a fierce yellow—
“Luke,” she whispered. “What’s happening to you?”
“Clary. ” He reached for her, his hands oddly elongated, the nails sharp and rust-colored. “Is something wrong?”
She screamed, twisting away from him. She wasn’t sure why she felt so terrified—she’d seen Luke Change before, and he’d never harmed her. But the terror was a live thing inside her, uncontrollable. Luke caught at her shoulders and she cringed away from him, away from his yellow, animal eyes, even as he hushed her, begging her to be quiet in his ordinary, human voice. “Clary, please—”
“Let me go! Let me go!”
But he didn’t. “It’s the water—you’re hallucinating—Clary, try to keep it together. ” He drew her toward the bridge, half-dragging her. She could feel tears running down her face, cooling her burning cheeks. “It’s not real. Try to hold on, please,” he said, helping her onto the bridge. She could smell the water below it, green and stale. Things moved below the surface of it. As she watched, a black tentacle emerged from the water, its spongy tip lined with needle teeth. She cringed away from the water, unable to scream, a low moaning coming from her throat.
Luke caught her as her knees buckled, swinging her up into his arms. He hadn’t carried her since she was five or six years old. “Clary,” he said, but the rest of his words melded and blurred into a nonsensical roar as they stepped down off the bridge. They raced past a series of tall, thin houses that almost reminded Clary of Brooklyn row houses—or maybe she was just hallucinating her own neighborhood? The air around them seemed to warp as they went on, the lights of the houses blazing up around them like torches, the canal shimmering with an evil phosphorescent glow. Clary’s bones felt as if they were dissolving inside her body.
“Here. ” Luke jerked to a halt in front of a tall canal house. He kicked hard at the door, shouting; it was painted a bright, almost garish, red, a single rune splashed across it in gold. The rune melted and ran as Clary stared at it, taking the shape of a hideous grinning skull. It’s not real, she told herself fiercely, stifling her scream with her fist, biting down until she tasted blood in her mouth.
The pain cleared her head momentarily. The door flew open, revealing a woman in a dark dress, her face creased with a mixture of anger and surprise. Her hair was long, a tangled gray-brown cloud escaping from two braids; her blue eyes were familiar. A witchlight rune-stone gleamed in her hand. “Who is it?” she demanded. “What do you want?”
“Amatis. ” Luke moved into the pool of witchlight, Clary in his arms. “It’s me. ”
The woman blanched and tottered, putting out a hand to brace herself against the doorway. “Lucian?” Luke tried to take a step forward, but the woman—Amatis—blocked his path. She was shaking her head so hard that her braids whipped back and forth. “How can you come here, Lucian? How dare you come here?”
“I had very little choice. ” Luke tightened his hold on Clary. She bit back a cry. Her whole body felt as if it were on fire, every nerve ending burning with pain.
“You have to go, then,” Amatis said. “If you leave immediately—”
“I’m not here for me. I’m here for the girl. She’s dying. ” As the woman stared at him, he said, “Amatis, please. She’s Jocelyn’s daughter. ”
There was a long silence, during which Amatis stood like a statue, unmoving, in the doorway. She seemed frozen, whether from surprise or horror Clary couldn’t guess. Clary clenched her fist—her palm was sticky with blood where the nails dug in—but even the pain wasn’t helping now; the world was coming apart in soft colors, like a jigsaw puzzle drifting on the surface of water. She barely heard Amatis’s voice as the older woman stepped back from the doorway and said, “Very well, Lucian. You can bring her inside. ”
By the time Simon and Jace came back into the living room, Aline had laid food out on the low table between the couches. There were bread and cheese, slices of cake, apples, and even a bottle of wine, which Max was not allowed to touch. He sat in the corner with a plate of cake, his book open on his lap. Simon sympathized with him. He felt just as alone in the laughing, chatting group as Max probably did.
He watched Aline touch Jace’s wrist with her fingers as she reached for a piece of apple, and felt himself tense. But this is what you want him to do, he told himself, and yet somehow he couldn’t get rid of the sense that Clary was being disregarded.
Jace met his eyes over Aline’s head and smiled. Somehow, even though he wasn’t a vampire, he was able to manage a smile that seemed to be all pointed teeth. Simon looked away, glancing around the room. He noticed that the music he’d heard earlier wasn’t coming from a stereo at all but from a complicated-looking mechanical contraption.
He thought about striking up a conversation with Isabelle, but she was chatting with Sebastian, whose elegant face was bent attentively to hers. Jace had laughed at Simon’s crush on Isabelle once, but Sebastian could doubtless handle her. Shadowhunters were brought up to handle anything, weren’t they? Although the look on Jace’s face when he’d said that he planned to be only Clary’s brother made Simon wonder.
“We’re out of wine,” Isabelle declared, setting the bottle down on the table with a thump. “I’m going to get some more. ” With a wink at Sebastian, she disappeared into the kitchen.
“If you don’t mind my saying so, you seem a little quiet. ” It was Sebastian, leaning over the back of Simon’s chair with a disarming smile. For someone with such dark hair, Simon thought, Sebastian’s skin was very fair, as if he didn’t go out in the sun much. “Everything all right?”
Simon shrugged. “There aren’t a lot of openings for me in the conversation. It seems to be either about Shadowhunter politics or people I’ve never heard of, or both. ”
The smile disappeared. “We can be something of a closed circle, we Nephilim. It’s the way of those who are shut out from the rest of the world. ”
“Don’t you think you shut yourselves out? You despise ordinary humans—”
“‘Despise’ is a little strong,” said Sebastian. “And do you really think the world of humans would want anything to do with us? All we are is a living reminder that whenever they comfort themselves that there are no real vampires, no real demons or monsters under the bed—they’re lying. ” He turned his head to look at Jace, who, Simon realized, had been staring at them both in silence for several minutes. “Don’t you agree?”
Jace smiled. “De ce crezi cã vã ascultam conversatia?”
Sebastian met his glance with a look of pleasant interest. “M-ai urmãrit de când ai ajuns aici,” he replied. “Nu-mi dau seama dacã nu mã placi ori dacã e?ti atât de bãnuitor cu toatã lumea. ” He got to his feet. “I appreciate the Romanian practice, but if you don’t mind, I’m going to see what’s taking Isabelle so long in the kitchen. ” He disappeared through the doorway, leaving Jace staring after him with a puzzled expression.
“What’s wrong? Does he not speak Romanian after all?” Simon asked.
“No,” said Jace. A small frown line had appeared between his eyes. “No, he speaks it all right. ”
Before Simon could ask him what he meant by that, Alec entered the room. He was frowning, just as he had been when he’d left. His gaze lingered momentarily on Simon, a look almost of confusion in his blue eyes.
Jace glanced up. “Back so soon?”
“Not for long. ” Alec reached down to pluck an apple off the table with a gloved hand. “I just came back to get—him,” he said, gesturing toward Simon with the apple. “He’s wanted at the Gard. ”
Aline looked surprised. “Really?” she said, but Jace was already rising from the couch, disentangling his hand from hers.
“Wanted for what?” he said, with a dangerous calm. “I hope you found that out before you promised to deliver him, at least. ”
“Of course I asked,” Alec snapped. “I’m not stupid. ”
“Oh, come on,” said Isabelle. She had reappeared in the doorway with Sebastian, who was holding a bottle. “Sometimes you are a bit stupid, you know. Just a bit,” she repeated as Alec shot her a murderous glare.
“They’re sending Simon back to New York,” he said. “Through the Portal. ”
“But he just got here!” Isabelle protested with a pout. “That’s no fun. ”
“It’s not supposed to be fun, Izzy. Simon coming here was an accident, so the Clave thinks the best thing is for him to go home. ”
“Great,” Simon said. “Maybe I’ll even make it back before my mother notices I’m gone. What’s the time difference between here and Manhattan?”
“You have a mother?” Aline looked amazed.
Simon chose to ignore this. “Seriously,” he said, as Alec and Jace exchanged glances. “It’s fine. All I want is to get out of this place. ”
“You’ll go with him?” Jace said to Alec. “And make sure everything’s all right?”
They were looking at each other in a way that was familiar to Simon. It was the way he and Clary sometimes looked at each other, exchanging coded glances when they didn’t want their parents to know what they were planning.
“What?” he said, looking from one to the other. “What’s wrong?”
They broke their stare; Alec glanced away, and Jace turned a bland and smiling look on Simon. “Nothing,” he said. “Everything’s fine. Congratulations, vampire—you get to go home. ”