Chapter 5: A PROBLEM WITH MEMORY
AFTERNOON LIGHT WOKE CLARY, A BEAM OF PALE BRIGHTNESS that laid itself directly over her face, lighting the insides of her eyelids to hot pink. She stirred restlessly and warily opened her eyes.
The fever was gone, and so was the sense that her bones were melting and breaking inside her. She sat up and glanced around with curious eyes. She was in what had to be Amatis’s spare room—it was small, white-painted, the bed covered with a brightly woven rag blanket. Lace curtains were drawn back over round windows, letting in circles of light. She sat up slowly, waiting for dizziness to wash over her. Nothing happened. She felt entirely healthy, even well rested. Getting out of bed, she looked down at herself. Someone had put her in a pair of starched white pajamas, though they were wrinkled now and too big for her; the sleeves hung down comically past her fingers.
She went to one of the circular windows and peered out. Stacked houses of old-gold stone rose up the side of a hill, and the roofs looked as if they had been shingled in bronze. This side of the house faced away from the canal, onto a narrow side garden turning brown and gold with autumn. A trellis crawled up the side of the house; a single last rose hung on it, drooping browning petals.
The doorknob rattled, and Clary climbed hastily back into bed just before Amatis entered, holding a tray in her hands. She raised her eyebrows when she saw Clary was awake, but said nothing.
“Where’s Luke?” Clary demanded, drawing the blanket close around herself for comfort.
Amatis set the tray down on the table beside the bed. There was a mug of something hot on it, and some slices of buttered bread. “You should eat something. You’ll feel better. ”
“I feel fine,” Clary said. “Where’s Luke?”
There was a high-backed chair beside the table; Amatis sat in it, folded her hands in her lap, and regarded Clary calmly. In the daylight Clary could see more clearly the lines in her face—she looked older than Clary’s mother by many years, though they couldn’t be that far apart in age. Her brown hair was stippled with gray, her eyes rimmed with dark pink, as if she had been crying. “He’s not here. ”
“Not here like he just popped around the corner to the bodega for a six-pack of Diet Coke and a box of Krispy Kremes, or not here like …”
“He left this morning, around dawn, after sitting up with you all night. As to his destination, he wasn’t specific. ” Amatis’s tone was dry, and if Clary hadn’t felt so wretched, she might have been amused to note that it made her sound much more like Luke. “When he lived here, before he left Idris, after he was … Changed … he led a wolf pack that made its home in Brocelind Forest. He said he was going back to them, but he wouldn’t say why or for how long—only that he’d be back in a few days. ”
“He just … left me here? Am I supposed to sit around and wait for him?”
“Well, he couldn’t very well take you with him, could he?” Amatis asked. “And it won’t be easy for you to get home. You broke the Law in coming here like you did, and the Clave won’t overlook that, or be generous about letting you leave. ”
“I don’t want to go home. ” Clary tried to collect herself. “I came here to … to meet someone. I have something to do. ”
“Luke told me,” said Amatis. “Let me give you a piece of advice—you’ll only find Ragnor Fell if he wants to be found. ”
“Clarissa. ” Amatis looked at her speculatively. “We’re expecting an attack by Valentine at any moment. Almost every Shadowhunter in Idris is here in the city, inside the wards. Staying in Alicante is the safest thing for you. ”
Clary sat frozen. Rationally, Amatis’s words made sense, but it didn’t do much to quiet the voice inside her screaming that she couldn’t wait. She had to find Ragnor Fell now; she had to save her mother now; she had to go now. She bit down on her panic and tried to speak casually. “Luke never told me he had a sister. ”
“No,” Amatis said. “He wouldn’t have. We weren’t—close. ”
“Luke said your last name was Herondale,” Clary said. “But that’s the Inquisitor’s last name. Isn’t it?”
“It was,” said Amatis, and her face tightened as if the words pained her. “She was my mother-in-law. ”
What was it Luke had told Clary about the Inquisitor? That she’d had a son, who’d married a woman with undesirable family connections. “You were married to Stephen Herondale?”
Amatis looked surprised. “You know his name?”
“I do—Luke told me—but I thought his wife died. I thought that’s why the Inquisitor was so—” Horrible, she wanted to say, but it seemed cruel to say it. “Bitter,” she said at last.
Amatis reached for the mug she’d brought; her hand shook a little as she lifted it. “Yes, she did die. Killed herself. That was Céline—Stephen’s second wife. I was the first. ”
“And you got divorced?”
“Something like that. ” Amatis thrust the mug at Clary. “Look, drink this. You have to put something in your stomach. ”
Distracted, Clary took the mug and swallowed a hot mouthful. The liquid inside was rich and salty—not tea, as she’d thought, but soup. “Okay,” she said. “So what happened?”
Amatis was gazing into the distance. When Luke was—when what happened to Luke happened, Valentine needed a new lieutenant. He chose Stephen—we had both recently joined the Circle. And when he chose Stephen, he decided that perhaps it wouldn’t be fitting for the wife of his closest friend and adviser to be someone whose brother was …”
“A werewolf. ”
“He used another word. ” Amatis sounded bitter. “He convinced Stephen to annul our marriage and to find himself another wife, one that Valentine had picked for him. Céline was so young—so completely obedient. ”
“That’s horrible. ”
Amatis shook her head with a brittle laugh. “It was a long time ago. Stephen was kind, I suppose—he gave me this house and moved back into the Herondale manor with his parents and Céline. I never saw him again after that. I left the Circle, of course. They wouldn’t have wanted me anymore. The only one of them who still visited me was Jocelyn. She even told me when she went to see Luke…. ” She pushed her graying hair back behind her ears. “I heard about Stephen’s death days after it had happened. And Céline—I’d hated her, but I felt sorry for her then. She cut her wrists, they say—blood everywhere—” She took a deep breath. “I saw Imogen later at Stephen’s funeral, when they put his body into the Herondale mausoleum. She didn’t even seem to recognize me. They made her the Inquisitor not long after that. The Clave felt there was no one else who would hunt down the former members of the Circle more ruthlessly than she would—and they were right. If she could have washed away her memories of Stephen in their blood, she would have. ”
Clary thought of the cold eyes of the Inquisitor, her narrow, hard stare, and tried to feel pity for her. “I think it made her crazy,” she said. “Really crazy. She was horrible to me—but mostly to Jace. It was like she wanted him dead. ”
“That makes sense,” said Amatis. “You look like your mother, and your mother brought you up, but your brother—” She cocked her head to the side. “Does your brother look as much like Valentine as you look like Jocelyn?”
“No,” Clary said. “Jace just looks like himself. ” A shiver went through her at the thought of Jace. “He’s here in Alicante,” she said, thinking out loud. “If I could see him—”
“No. ” Amatis spoke with asperity. “You can’t leave the house. Not to see anyone. And definitely not to see your brother. ”
“Not leave the house?” Clary was horrified. “You mean I’m stuck here? Like a prisoner?”
“It’s only for a day or two,” Amatis admonished her, “and besides, you’re not well. You need to recover. The lake water nearly killed you. ”
“Is one of the Lightwoods. You can’t go over there. The moment they see you, they’ll tell the Clave you’re here. And then you won’t be the only one in trouble with the Law. Luke will be too. ”
But the Lightwoods won’t betray me to the Clave. They wouldn’t do that—
The words died on her lips. There was no way she was going to be able to convince Amatis that the Lightwoods she’d known fifteen years ago no longer existed, that Robert and Maryse weren’t blindly loyal fanatics anymore. This woman might be Luke’s sister, but she was still a stranger to Clary. She was almost a stranger to Luke. He hadn’t seen her in fifteen years—had never even mentioned she existed. Clary leaned back against the pillows, feigning weariness. “You’re right,” she said. “I don’t feel well. I think I’d better sleep. ”
“Good idea. ” Amatis leaned over and plucked the empty mug out of her hand. “If you want to take a shower, the bathroom’s across the hall. And there’s a trunk of my old clothes at the foot of the bed. You look like you’re about the size I was when I was your age, so they might fit you. Unlike those pajamas,” she added, and smiled, a weak smile that Clary didn’t return. She was too busy fighting the urge to pound her fists against the mattress in frustration.
The moment the door closed behind Amatis, Clary scrambled out of bed and headed for the bathroom, hoping that standing in hot water would help clear her head. To her relief, for all their old-fashionedness, the Shadowhunters seemed to believe in modern plumbing and hot and cold running water. There was even sharply scented citrus soap to rinse the lingering smell of Lake Lyn out of her hair. By the time she emerged, wrapped in two towels, she was feeling much better.
In the bedroom she rummaged through Amatis’s trunk. Her clothes were packed away neatly between layers of crisp paper. There were what looked like school clothes—merino wool sweaters with an insignia that looked like four Cs back to back sewed over the breast pocket, pleated skirts, and button-down shirts with narrow cuffs. There was a white dress swathed in layers of tissue paper—a wedding dress, Clary thought, and laid it aside carefully. Below it was another dress, this one made of silvery silk, with slender bejeweled straps holding up its gossamer weight. Clary couldn’t imagine Amatis in it, but—This is the sort of thing my mother might have worn when she went dancing with Valentine, she couldn’t help thinking, and let the dress slide back into the trunk, its texture soft and cool against her fingers.
And then there was the Shadowhunter gear, packed away at the very bottom.
Clary drew out those clothes and spread them curiously across her lap. The first time she had seen Jace and Alec, they had been wearing their fighting gear: close-fitting tops and pants of tough, dark material. Up close she could see that the material was not stretchy but stiff, a thin leather pounded very flat until it became flexible. There was a jacket-type top that zipped up and pants that had complicated belt loops. Shadowhunter belts were big, sturdy things, meant for hanging weapons on.
She ought, of course, to put on one of the sweaters and maybe a skirt. That was what Amatis had probably meant her to do. But something about the fighting gear called to her; she had always been curious, always wondered what it would be like….
A few minutes later the towels were hanging over the bar at the foot of the bed and Clary was regarding herself in the mirror with surprise and not a little amusement. The gear fit—it was tight but not too tight, and hugged the curves of her legs and chest. In fact, it made her look as if she had curves, which was sort of novel. It couldn’t make her look formidable—she doubted anything could do that—but at least she looked taller, and her hair against the black material was extraordinarily bright. In fact—I look like my mother, Clary thought with a jolt.
And she did. Jocelyn had always had a steely core of toughness under her doll-like looks. Clary had often wondered what had happened in her mother’s past to make her the way she was—strong and unbending, stubborn and unafraid. Does your brother look as much like Valentine as you look like Jocelyn? Amatis had asked, and Clary had wanted to reply that she didn’t look at all like her mother, that her mother was beautiful and she wasn’t. But the Jocelyn that Amatis had known was the girl who’d plotted to bring down Valentine, who’d secretly forged an alliance of Nephilim and Downworlders that had broken the Circle and saved the Accords. That Jocelyn would never have agreed to stay quietly inside this house and wait while everything in her world fell apart.
Without pausing to think, Clary crossed the room and shot home the bolt on the door, locking it. Then she went to the window and pushed it open. The trellis was there, clinging to the side of the stone wall like—Like a ladder, Clary told herself. Just like a ladder—and ladders are perfectly safe.
Taking a deep breath, she crawled out onto the window ledge.
The guards came back for Simon the next morning, shaking him awake out of an already fitful sleep plagued with strange dreams. This time they didn’t blindfold him as they led him back upstairs, and he snuck a quick glance through the barred door of the cell next to his. If he’d hoped to get a look at the owner of the hoarse voice that had spoken to him the night before, he was disappointed. The only thing visible through the bars was what looked like a pile of discarded rags.
The guards hurried Simon along a series of gray corridors, quick to shake him if he looked too long in any direction. Finally they came to a halt in a richly wallpapered room. There were portraits on the walls of different men and women in Shadowhunter gear, the frames decorated with patterns of runes. Below one of the largest portraits was a red couch on which the Inquisitor was seated, holding what looked like a silver cup in his hand. He held it out to Simon. “Blood?” he inquired. “You must be hungry by now. ”
He tipped the cup toward Simon, and the view of the red liquid inside it hit him just as the smell did. His veins strained toward the blood, like strings under the control of a master puppeteer. The feeling was unpleasant, almost painful. “Is it … human?”
Aldertree chuckled. “My boy! Don’t be ridiculous. It’s deer blood. Perfectly fresh. ”
Simon said nothing. His lower lip stung where his fangs had slid from their sheaths, and he tasted his own blood in his mouth. It filled him with nausea.
Aldertree’s face screwed up like a dried plum. “Oh, dear. ” He turned to the guards. “Leave us now, gentlemen,” he said, and they turned to go. Only the Consul paused at the door, glancing back at Simon with a look of unmistakable disgust.
“No, thank you,” Simon said through the thickness in his mouth. “I don’t want the blood. ”
“Your fangs say otherwise, young Simon,” Aldertree replied genially. “Here. Take it. ” He held out the cup, and the smell of blood seemed to waft through the room like the scent of roses through a garden.
Simon’s incisors stabbed downward, fully extended now, slicing into his lip. The pain was like a slap; he moved forward, almost without volition, and grabbed the cup out of the Inquisitor’s hand. He drained it in three swallows, then, realizing what he had done, set it down on the arm of the couch. His hand was shaking. Inquisitor one, he thought. Me zero.
“I trust your night in the cells wasn’t too unpleasant? They’re not meant to be torture chambers, my boy, more along the lines of a space for enforced reflection. I find reflection absolutely centers the mind, don’t you? Essential to clear thinking. I do hope you got some thinking in. You seem like a thoughtful young man. ” The Inquisitor cocked his head to the side. “I brought that blanket down for you with my own hands, you know. I wouldn’t have wanted you to be cold. ”
“I’m a vampire,” Simon said. “We don’t get cold. ”
“Oh. ” The Inquisitor looked disappointed.
“I appreciated the Stars of David and the Seal of Solomon,” Simon added dryly. “It’s always nice to see someone taking an interest in my religion. ”
“Oh, yes, of course, of course!” Aldertree brightened. “Wonderful, aren’t they, the carvings? Absolutely charming, and of course foolproof. I’d imagine any attempt to touch the cell door would melt the skin right off your hand!” He chuckled, clearly amused by the thought. “In any case. Could you take a step backward for me, my man? Just as a favor, a pure favor, you understand. ”
Simon took a step back.
Nothing happened, but the Inquisitor’s eyes widened, the puffy skin around them looking stretched and shiny. “I see,” he breathed.
“You see what?”
“Look where you are, young Simon. Look all about you. ”
Simon glanced around—nothing had changed about the room, and it took a moment for him to realize what Aldertree meant. He was standing in a bright patch of sun that angled through a window high overhead.
Aldertree was almost squirming with excitement. “You’re standing in direct sunlight, and it’s having no effect on you at all. I almost wouldn’t have believed it—I mean, I was told, of course, but I’ve never seen anything like it before. ”
Simon said nothing. There seemed to be nothing to say.
“The question for you, of course,” Aldertree went on, “is whether you know why you’re like this. ”
“Maybe I’m just nicer than the other vampires. ” Simon was immediately sorry he’d spoken. Aldertree’s eyes narrowed, and a vein bulged at his temple like a fat worm. Clearly, he didn’t like jokes unless he was the one making them.
“Very amusing, very amusing,” he said. “Let me ask you this: Have you been a Daylighter since the moment you rose from the grave?”
“No. ” Simon spoke with care. “No. At first the sun burned me. Even just a patch of sunlight would scorch my skin. ”
“Indeed. ” Aldertree gave a vigorous nod, as if to say that that was the way things ought to be. “So when was it you first noticed that you could walk in the daylight without pain?”
“It was the morning after the big battle on Valentine’s ship—”
“During which Valentine captured you, is that correct? He had captured you and kept you prisoner on his ship, meaning to use your blood to complete the Ritual of Infernal Conversion. ”
“I guess you know everything already,” Simon said. “You hardly need me. ”
“Oh, no, not at all!” Aldertree cried, throwing up his hands. He had very small hands, Simon noticed, so small that they looked a little out of place at the ends of his plump arms. “You have so much to contribute, my dear boy! For instance, I can’t help wondering if there was something that happened on the ship, something that changed you. Is there anything you can think of?”
I drank Jace’s blood, Simon thought, half-inclined to repeat this to the Inquisitor just to be nasty—and then, with a jolt, realized, I drank Jace’s blood. Could that have been what changed him? Was it possible? And whether it was possible or not, could he tell the Inquisitor what Jace had done? Protecting Clary was one thing; protecting Jace was another. He didn’t owe Jace anything.
Except that wasn’t strictly true. Jace had offered him his blood to drink, had saved his life with it. Would another Shadowhunter have done that, for a vampire? And even if he’d only done it for Clary’s sake, did it matter? He thought of himself saying, I could have killed you. And Jace: I would have let you. There was no telling what kind of trouble Jace would get into if the Clave knew he had saved Simon’s life, and how.
“I don’t remember anything from the boat,” Simon said. “I think Valentine must have drugged me or something. ”
Aldertree’s face fell. “That’s terrible news. Terrible. I’m so sorry to hear it. ”
“I’m sorry too,” Simon said, although he wasn’t.
“So there isn’t a single thing you remember? Not one colorful detail?”
“I just remember passing out when Valentine attacked me, and then I woke up later on … on Luke’s truck, headed home. I don’t remember anything else. ”
“Oh dear, oh dear. ” Aldertree drew his cloak around him. “I see the Lightwoods seem to have become rather fond of you, but the other members of the Clave are not so … understanding. You were captured by Valentine, you emerged from this confrontation with a peculiar new power you hadn’t had before, and now you’ve found your way to the heart of Idris. You do see how it looks?”
If Simon’s heart had still been able to beat, it would have been racing. “You think I’m a spy for Valentine. ”
Aldertree looked shocked. “My boy, my boy—I trust you, of course. I trust you implicitly! But the Clave, oh, the Clave, I’m afraid they can be very suspicious. We had so hoped you’d be able to help us. You see—and I shouldn’t be telling you this, but I feel I can confide in you, dear boy—the Clave is in dreadful trouble. ”
“The Clave?” Simon felt dazed. “But what does that have to do with—”
“You see,” Aldertree went on, “the Clave is split down the middle—at war with itself, you might say, in a time of war. Mistakes were made, by the previous Inquisitor and others—perhaps it’s better not to dwell. But you see, the very authority of the Clave, of the Consul and the Inquisitor, is under question. Valentine always seems to be a step ahead of us, as if he knows our plans in advance. The Council will not listen to my advice or Malachi’s, not after what happened in New York. ”
“I thought that was the Inquisitor—”
“And Malachi was the one who appointed her. Now, of course, he had no idea she would go as mad as she did—”
“But,” Simon said, a little sourly, “there is the question of how it looks. ”
The vein bulged in Aldertree’s forehead again. “Clever,” he said. “And you’re correct. Appearances are significant, and never more than in politics. You can always sway the crowd, provided you have a good story. ” He leaned forward, his eyes locked on Simon. “Now let me tell you a story. It goes like this. The Lightwoods were once in the Circle. At some point they recanted and were granted mercy on the grounds that they stayed out of Idris, went to New York, and ran the Institute there. Their blameless record began to win them back the trust of the Clave. But all along they knew Valentine was alive. All along they were his loyal servants. They took in his son—”
“But they didn’t know—”
“Be quiet,” the Inquisitor snarled, and Simon shut his mouth. “They helped him find the Mortal Instruments and assisted him with the Ritual of Infernal Conversion. When the Inquisitor discovered what they were secretly up to, they arranged to have her killed during the battle on the ship. And now they have come here, to the heart of the Clave, to spy on our plans and reveal them to Valentine as they are made, so that he can defeat us and ultimately bend all Nephilim to his will. And they have brought you with them—you, a vampire who can withstand sunlight—to distract us from their true plans: to return the Circle to its former glory and destroy the Law. ” The Inquisitor leaned forward, his piggy eyes gleaming. “What do you think of that story, vampire?”
“I think it’s insane,” said Simon. “And it’s got more giant holes in it than Kent Avenue in Brooklyn—which, incidentally, hasn’t been resurfaced in years. I don’t know what you’re hoping to accomplish with this—”
“Hoping?” echoed Aldertree. “I don’t hope, Downworlder. I know in my heart. I know it is my sacred duty to save the Clave. ”
“With a lie?” said Simon.
“With a story,” said Aldertree. “Great politicians weave tales to inspire their people. ”
“There’s nothing inspirational about blaming the Lightwoods for everything—”
“Some must be sacrificed,” said Aldertree. His face shone with a sweaty light. “Once the Council has a common enemy, and a reason to trust the Clave again, they will come together. What is the cost of one family, weighed against all that? In fact, I doubt anything much will happen to the Lightwood children. They won’t be blamed. Well, perhaps the eldest boy. But the others—”
“You can’t do this,” Simon said. “Nobody will believe this story. ”
“People believe what they want to believe,” Aldertree said, “and the Clave wants someone to blame. I can give them that. All I need is you. ”
“Me? What does this have to do with me?”
“Confess. ” The Inquisitor’s face was scarlet with excitement now. “Confess that you’re a servant of the Lightwoods, that you’re all in league with Valentine. Confess and I’ll show you leniency. I’ll send you back to your own people. I swear to it. But I need your confession to make the Clave believe. ”
“You want me to confess to a lie,” Simon said. He knew he was just repeating what the Inquisitor had already said, but his mind was whirling; he couldn’t seem to catch hold of a single thought. The faces of the Lightwoods spun through his mind—Alec, catching his breath on the path up to the Gard; Isabelle’s dark eyes turned up to his; Max bent over a book.
And Jace. Jace was one of them as much as if he shared their Lightwood blood. The Inquisitor hadn’t said his name, but Simon knew Jace would pay along with the rest of them. And whatever he suffered, Clary would suffer. How had it happened, Simon thought, that he was bound to these people—to people who thought of him as nothing more than a Downworlder, half human at best?
He raised his eyes to the Inquisitor’s. Aldertree’s were an odd charcoal black; looking into them was like looking into darkness. “No,” Simon said. “No, I won’t do it. ”
“That blood I gave you,” Aldertree said, “is all the blood you’ll see until you give me a different answer. ” There was no kindness in his voice, not even false kindness. “You’d be surprised how thirsty you can get. ”
Simon said nothing.
“Another night in the cells, then,” the Inquisitor said, rising to his feet and reaching for a bell to summon the guards. “It’s quite peaceful down there, isn’t it? I do find that a peaceful atmosphere can help with a little problem of memory—don’t you?”
Though Clary had told herself she remembered the way she’d come with Luke the night before, this turned out not to be entirely true. Heading toward the city center seemed like the best bet for getting directions, but once she found the stone courtyard with the disused well, she couldn’t remember whether to turn left or right from it. She turned left, which plunged her into a warren of twisting streets, each one much like the next and each turn getting her more hopelessly lost than before.
Finally she emerged into a wider street lined with shops. Pedestrians hurried by on either side, none of them giving her a second glance. A few of them were also dressed in fighting gear, although most weren’t: It was cool out, and long, old-fashioned coats were the order of the day. The wind was brisk, and with a pang Clary thought of her green velvet coat, hanging up in Amatis’s spare bedroom.
Luke hadn’t been lying when he’d said that Shadowhunters had come from all over the world for the summit. Clary passed an Indian woman in a gorgeous gold sari, a pair of curved blades hanging from a chain around her waist. A tall, dark-skinned man with an angular Aztec face was gazing into a shop window full of weaponry; bracelets made of the same hard, shining material as the demon towers laddered his wrists. Farther down the street a man in a white nomadic robe consulted what looked like a street map. The sight of him gave Clary the nerve to approach a passing woman in a heavy brocade coat and ask her the way to Princewater Street. If there was ever going to be a time when the city’s inhabitants wouldn’t necessarily be suspicious of someone who didn’t seem to know where they were going, this would be it.
Her instinct was right; without a trace of hesitation the woman gave her a hurried series of directions. “And then right at the end of Oldcastle Canal, and over the stone bridge, and that’s where you’ll find Princewater. ” She gave Clary a smile. “Visiting anyone in particular?”
“The Penhallows. ”
“Oh, that’s the blue house, gold trim, backs up onto the canal. It’s a big place—you can’t miss it. ”
She was half-right. It was a big place, but Clary walked right by it before realizing her mistake and swerving back around to look at it again. It was really more indigo than blue, she thought, but then again not everyone noticed colors that way. Most people couldn’t tell the difference between lemon yellow and saffron. As if they were even close to each other! And the trim on the house wasn’t gold; it was bronze. A nice darkish bronze, as if the house had been there for many years, and it probably had. Everything in this place was so ancient—
Enough, Clary told herself. She always did this when she was nervous, let her mind wander off in all sorts of random directions. She rubbed her hands down the sides of her trousers; her palms were sweaty and damp. The material felt rough and dry against her skin, like snake scales.
She mounted the steps and took hold of the heavy door knocker. It was shaped like a pair of angel’s wings, and when she let it fall, she could hear the sound echoing like the tolling of a huge bell. A moment later the door was yanked open, and Isabelle Lightwood stood on the threshold, her eyes wide with shock.
Clary smiled weakly. “Hi, Isabelle. ”
Isabelle leaned against the doorjamb, her expression dismal. “Oh, crap. ”
Back in the cell Simon collapsed on the bed, listening to the footsteps of the guards recede as they marched away from his door. Another night. Another night down here in prison, while the Inquisitor waited for him to “remember. ” You do see how it looks? In all his worst fears, his worst nightmares, it had never occurred to Simon that anyone might think he was in league with Valentine. Valentine hated Downworlders, famously. Valentine had stabbed him and drained his blood and left him to die. Although, admittedly, the Inquisitor didn’t know that.
There was a rustle from the other side of the cell wall. “I have to admit, I wondered if you’d be coming back,” said the hoarse voice Simon remembered from the night before. “I take it you didn’t give the Inquisitor what he wants?”
“I don’t think so,” Simon said, approaching the wall. He ran his fingers over the stone as if looking for a crack in it, something he could see through, but there was nothing. “Who are you?”
“He’s a stubborn man, Aldertree,” said the voice, as if Simon hadn’t spoken. “He’ll keep trying. ”
Simon leaned against the damp wall. “Then I guess I’ll be down here for a while. ”
“I don’t suppose you’d be willing to tell me what it is he wants from you?”
“Why do you want to know?”
The chuckle that answered Simon sounded like metal scraping against stone. “I’ve been in this cell longer than you have, Daylighter, and as you can see, there’s not a lot to keep the mind occupied. Any distraction helps. ”
Simon laced his hands over his stomach. The deer blood had taken the edge off his hunger, but it hadn’t been quite enough. His body still ached with thirst. “You keep calling me that,” he said. “Daylighter. ”
“I heard the guards talking about you. A vampire who can walk around in the sunlight. No one’s ever seen anything like it before. ”
“And yet you have a word for it. Convenient. ”
“It’s a Downworlder word, not a Clave one. They have legends about creatures like you. I’m surprised you don’t know that. ”
“I haven’t exactly been a Downworlder for very long,” Simon said. “And you seem to know a lot about me. ”
“The guards like to gossip,” said the voice. “And the Lightwoods appearing through the Portal with a bleeding, dying vampire—that’s a good piece of gossip. Though I have to say I wasn’t expecting you to show up here—not until they started fixing up the cell for you. I’m surprised the Lightwoods stood for it. ”
“Why wouldn’t they?” Simon said bitterly. “I’m nothing. I’m a Downworlder. ”
“Maybe to the Consul,” said the voice. “But the Lightwoods—”
“What about them?”
There was a short pause. “Those Shadowhunters who live outside Idris—especially those who run Institutes—tend to be more tolerant. The local Clave, on the other hand, is a good deal more … hidebound. ”
“And what about you?” Simon said. “Are you a Downworlder?”
“A Downworlder?” Simon couldn’t be sure, but there was an edge of anger in the stranger’s voice, as if he resented the question. “My name is Samuel. Samuel Blackburn. I am Nephilim. Years ago I was in the Circle, with Valentine. I slaughtered Downworlders at the Uprising. I am not one of them. ”
“Oh. ” Simon swallowed. His mouth tasted of salt. The members of Valentine’s Circle had been caught and punished by the Clave, he remembered—except for those like the Lightwoods, who’d managed to make deals or accept exile in exchange for forgiveness. “Have you been down here ever since?”
“No. After the Uprising, I slipped out of Idris before I could be caught. I stayed away for years—years—until like a fool, thinking I’d been forgotten, I came back. Of course they caught me the moment I returned. The Clave has its ways of tracking its enemies. They dragged me in front of the Inquisitor, and I was interrogated for days. When they were done, they tossed me in here. ” Samuel sighed. “In French this sort of prison is called an oubliette. It means ‘a forgetting place. ’ It’s where you toss the garbage you don’t want to remember, so it can rot away without bothering you with its stench. ”
“Fine. I’m a Downworlder, so I’m garbage. But you’re not. You’re Nephilim. ”
“I’m Nephilim who was in league with Valentine. That makes me no better than you. Worse, even. I’m a turncoat. ”
“But there are plenty of other Shadowhunters who used to be Circle members—the Lightwoods and the Penhallows—”
“They all recanted. Turned their backs on Valentine. I didn’t. ”
“You didn’t? But why not?”
“Because I’m more afraid of Valentine than I am of the Clave,” said Samuel, “and if you were sensible, Daylighter, you would be too. ”
“But you’re supposed to be in New York!” Isabelle exclaimed. “Jace said you’d changed your mind about coming. He said you wanted to stay with your mother!”
“Jace lied,” Clary said flatly. “He didn’t want me here, so he lied to me about when you were leaving, and then lied to you about me changing my mind. Remember when you told me he never lies? That is so not true. ”
“He normally never does,” said Isabelle, who had gone pale. “Look, did you come here—I mean, does this have something to do with Simon?”
“With Simon? No. Simon’s safe in New York, thank God. Although he’s going to be really pissed that he never got to say good-bye to me. ” Isabelle’s blank expression was starting to annoy Clary. “Come on, Isabelle. Let me in. I need to see Jace. ”
“So … you just came here on your own? Did you have permission from the Clave? Please tell me you had permission from the Clave. ”
“Not as such—”
“You broke the Law?” Isabelle’s voice rose, and then dropped. She went on, almost in a whisper, “If Jace finds out, he’ll freak. Clary, you’ve got to go home. ”
“No. I’m supposed to be here,” Clary said, not even sure herself quite where her stubbornness was coming from. “And I need to talk to Jace. ”
“Now isn’t a good time. ” Isabelle looked around anxiously, as if hoping there was someone she could appeal to for help in removing Clary from the premises. “Please, just go back to New York. Please?”
“I thought you liked me, Izzy. ” Clary went for the guilt.
Isabelle bit her lip. She was wearing a white dress and had her hair pinned up and looked younger than she usually did. Behind her Clary could see a high-ceilinged entryway hung with antique-looking oil paintings. “I do like you. It’s just that Jace—oh my God, what are you wearing? Where did you get fighting gear?”
Clary looked down at herself. “It’s a long story. ”
“You can’t come in here like that. If Jace sees you—”
“Oh, so what if he sees me. Isabelle, I came here because of my mother—for my mother. Jace may not want me here, but he can’t make me stay home. I’m supposed to be here. My mother expected me to do this for her. You’d do it for your mother, wouldn’t you?”
“Of course I would,” Isabelle said. “But, Clary, Jace has his reasons—”
“Then I’d love to hear what they are. ” Clary ducked under Isabelle’s arm and into the entryway of the house.
“Clary!” Isabelle yelped, and darted after her, but Clary was already halfway down the hall. She saw, with the half of her mind that wasn’t concentrating on dodging Isabelle, that the house was built like Amatis’s, tall and thin, but considerably larger and more richly decorated. The hallway opened into a room with high windows that looked out over a wide canal. White boats plied the water, their sails drifting by like dandelion clocks tossed on the wind. A dark-haired boy sat on a couch by one of the windows, apparently reading a book.
“Sebastian!” Isabelle called. “Don’t let her go upstairs!”
The boy looked up, startled—and a moment later was in front of Clary, blocking her path to the stairs. Clary skidded to a halt—she’d never seen anyone move that fast before, except Jace. The boy wasn’t even out of breath; in fact, he was smiling at her.
“So this is the famous Clary. ” His smile lit up his face, and Clary felt her breath catch. For years she’d drawn her own ongoing graphic story—the tale of a king’s son who was under a curse that meant that everyone he loved would die. She’d put everything she had into dreaming up her dark, romantic, shadowy prince, and here he was, standing in front of her—the same pale skin, the same tumbling hair, and eyes so dark, the pupils seemed to meld with the iris. The same high cheekbones and deep-set, shadowed eyes fringed with long lashes. She knew she’d never set eyes on this boy before, and yet …
The boy looked puzzled. “I don’t think—have we met before?”
Speechless, Clary shook her head.
“Sebastian!” Isabelle’s hair had come out of its pins and hung down over her shoulders, and she was glaring. “Don’t be nice to her. She’s not supposed to be here. Clary, go home. ”
With an effort Clary wrenched her gaze away from Sebastian and shot a glare at Isabelle. “What, back to New York? And how am I supposed to get there?”
“How did you get here?” Sebastian inquired. “Sneaking into Alicante is quite an accomplishment. ”
“I came through a Portal,” said Clary.
“A Portal?” Isabelle looked astonished. “But there isn’t a Portal left in New York. Valentine destroyed them both—”
“I don’t owe you any explanations,” Clary said. “Not until you give me some. For one thing, where’s Jace?”
“He’s not here,” Isabelle answered, at exactly the same time that Sebastian said, “He’s upstairs. ”
Isabelle turned on him. “Sebastian! Shut up. ”
Sebastian looked perplexed. “But she’s his sister. Wouldn’t he want to see her?”
Isabelle opened her mouth and then closed it again. Clary could see that Isabelle was weighing the advisability of explaining her complicated relationship with Jace to the completely oblivious Sebastian against the advisability of springing an unpleasant surprise on Jace. Finally she threw her hands up in a gesture of despair. “Fine, Clary,” she said, with an unusual—for Isabelle—amount of anger in her voice. “Go ahead and do whatever you want, regardless of who it hurts. You always do anyway, don’t you?”
Ouch. Clary shot Isabelle a reproachful look before turning back to Sebastian, who stepped silently out of her way. She darted past him and up the stairs, vaguely aware of voices below her as Isabelle shouted at the unfortunate Sebastian. But that was Isabelle—if there was a boy around and blame that needed to be pinned on someone, Isabelle would pin it on him.
The staircase widened into a landing with a bay-windowed alcove that looked out over the city. A boy was sitting in the alcove, reading. He looked up as Clary came up the stairs, and blinked in surprise. “I know you. ”
“Hi, Max. It’s Clary—Jace’s sister. Remember?”
Max brightened. “You showed me how to read Naruto,” he said, holding out his book to her. “Look, I got another one. This one’s called—”
“Max, I can’t talk now. I promise I’ll look at your book later, but do you know where Jace is?”
Max’s face fell. “That room,” he said, and pointed to the last door down the hall. “I wanted to go in there with him, but he told me he had to do grown-up stuff. Everyone’s always telling me that. ”
“I’m sorry,” Clary said, but her mind was no longer on the conversation. It was racing ahead—what would she say to Jace when she saw him; what would he say to her? Moving down the hall to the door, she thought, It would be better to be friendly, not angry; yelling at him will just make him defensive. He has to understand that I belong here, just like he does. I don’t need to be protected like a piece of delicate china. I’m strong too—
She threw the door open. The room seemed to be a sort of library, the walls lined with books. It was brightly lit, light streaming through a tall picture window. In the middle of the room stood Jace. He wasn’t alone, though—not by a long shot. There was a dark-haired girl with him, a girl Clary had never seen before, and the two of them were locked together in a passionate embrace.