Chapter 13: PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS
Jace was prowling the room like a cat. The others watched him, Simon with one eyebrow cocked. “There’s no other way to get there?” Jace asked. “We can’t try to Portal?” “We’re not demons. We can Portal only within a dimension,” said Alec. “I know that, but if Clary experimented with the Portal runes—” “I won’t do it,” Clary interrupted, putting her hand protectively over the pocket where her stele rested. “I won’t put you all in danger. I Portaled myself and Luke to Idris and nearly got us killed. I’m not risking it. ” Jace was still prowling. It was what he did when he was thinking; Clary knew that but looked at him worriedly all the same. He was closing and unclosing his hands, and murmuring under his breath. Finally he stopped. “Clary,” he said. “You can make a Portal to the Seelie Court, right?” “Yes,” she said. “That I could do—I’ve been there; I remember it. But would we be safe? We haven’t been invited, and the Fair Folk don’t like incursions into their territory—” “There’s no ‘we,’?” Jace said. “None of you are coming. I’m going to do this alone. ” Alec sprang to his feet. “I knew it, I bloody knew it, and absolutely not. Not a chance. ” Jace cocked an eyebrow at him; he was outwardly calm, but Clary could see his tension in the set of his shoulders and the way he rocked forward slightly on the balls of his feet. “Since when do you say ‘bloody’?” “Since the situation bloody warrants it. ” Alec crossed his arms over his chest. “And I thought we were going to discuss telling the Clave?” “We can’t do that,” Jace said. “Not if we’re going to get to the demon realms through the Seelie Court. It’s not like half the Clave can just pour into the Court; that would seem like an act of war against the Fair Folk. ” “Whereas if it’s just five of us we can sweet-talk them into letting us through?” Isabelle raised an eyebrow. “We’ve parleyed with the Queen before,” Jace said. “You went to the Queen when I—when Sebastian had me. ” “And she tricked us into taking walkie-talkie rings she could listen in on,” Simon said. “I wouldn’t trust her further than I could throw a medium-sized elephant. ” “I didn’t say anything about trusting her. She’ll do whatever’s in her interest at the moment. We just have to make it her interest to let us have access to the road to Edom. ” “We’re still Shadowhunters,” said Alec, “still representatives of the Clave. Whatever we do in Faerie, they’ll answer for it. ” “So we’ll use tact and cleverness,” said Jace. “Look, I’d love to make the Clave deal with the Queen and her court for us. But we don’t have the time. They—Luke and Jocelyn and Magnus and Raphael—don’t have the time. Sebastian’s gearing up; he’s speeding up his plans, his bloodlust. You don’t know what he’s like when he gets like this, but I do. I do. ” He caught his breath; there was a thin sheen of sweat across his cheekbones. “Which is why I want to do this alone. Brother Zachariah said it to me: I am the heavenly fire. It’s not like we can get another Glorious. We can’t exactly summon another angel; we played that card. ” “Fine,” Clary said, “but even if you’re the only source of heavenly fire, that doesn’t mean you need to do this alone. ” “She’s right,” Alec said. “We know that heavenly fire can hurt Sebastian. But we don’t know it’s the only thing that can hurt him. ” “And it definitely doesn’t meant you’re the only one who can kill however many Endarkened Sebastian has standing around him,” Clary pointed out. “Or that you can get yourself through the Seelie Court safely on your own or, after that, through some forsaken demon realm where you have to find Sebastian—” “We can’t track him because we’re not in the same dimension,” Jace said. He held up his wrist where Sebastian’s silver bracelet glittered. “Once I’m in his world, I can track him. I’ve done it before—” “We can track him,” Clary said. “Jace, there’s more to this than just finding him; this is huge, bigger than anything we’ve done. This isn’t just about killing Sebastian; this is about the prisoners. It’s a rescue mission. It’s their lives on the line as well as ours. ” Her voice cracked. Jace had paused his prowling; he looked from one of his friends to the other, almost pleading. “I just don’t want anything to happen to you. ” “Yeah, well, none of us want anything to happen to us either,” said Simon. “But think ahead; what happens if you go and we stay? Sebastian wants Clary, wants her more than he wants you, and he can find her here in Alicante. Nothing’s stopping him from coming again except a promise that he’ll wait two days, and what are his promises worth? He could come for any of us at any time; he proved that with the Downworld representatives. We’re sitting ducks here. Better to go where he isn’t expecting or looking for us. ” “I will not hang back here in Alicante while Magnus is in danger,” said Alec, in a surprisingly cold, adult voice. “Go without me, and you disrespect our parabatai oaths, you disrespect me as a Shadowhunter, and you disrespect the fact that this is my battle too. ” Jace looked shocked. “Alec, I would never disrespect our oaths. You’re one of the best Shadowhunters I know—” “Which is why we come with you,” said Isabelle. “You need us. You need Alec and me to back you up the way we always have. You need Clary’s rune powers and Simon’s vampire strength. This isn’t just your fight. If you respect us as Shadowhunters and as your friends—all of us—then we go with you. It’s that simple. ” “I know,” Jace said, softly. “I know I need you. ” He looked over at Clary, and she heard Isabelle’s voice saying you need Clary’s rune powers and remembered the first time she had ever seen him, Alec and Isabelle on either side of him, and how she had thought he looked dangerous. It had never occurred to her that she was like him—that she was dangerous too. “Thank you,” he said, and cleared his throat. “Okay. Everyone get into gear, and pack bags. Pack for overland travel: water, what food you can grab, extra steles, blankets. And you,” he added to Simon, “you might not need food, but if you have bottled blood, bring it. There might not be anything you can . . . eat where we’re going. ” “There’s always the four of you, “Simon said, but he smiled a little, and Clary knew it was because Jace had included him among their number without a moment’s hesitation. Finally Jace had accepted that where they went, Simon went too, whether he was a Shadowhunter or not. “All right,” Alec said. “Everyone meet back here in ten minutes. Clary, get ready to create a Portal. And Jace?” “Yes?” “You’d better have a strategy for what we’re going to do when we get to the Faerie Court. Because we’re going to need it. ” The maelstrom inside the Portal was almost a relief. Clary went last through the shining doorway, after the other four had stepped through, and she let the cold darkness take her like water pulling her down and under, stealing the breath from her lungs, making her forget everything but the clamor and the falling. It was over too fast, the grip of the Portal releasing her to fall awkwardly, her backpack twisted underneath her, on the packed dirt floor of a tunnel. She caught her breath and rolled over, using a long, dangling root to pull herself upright. Alec, Isabelle, Jace, and Simon were picking themselves up around her, brushing off their clothes. It wasn’t dirt they had fallen on, she realized, but a carpet of moss. More moss spread along the smooth brown tunnel walls, but it glowed with phosphorescent light. Small glowing flowers, like electric daisies, grew in among the moss, starring the green with white. Snaky roots dangled down from the roof of the tunnel, making Clary wonder what exactly was growing aboveground. Various smaller tunnels branched off the main one, some of them too small to admit a human form. Isabelle picked a piece of moss out of her hair and frowned. “Where are we exactly?” “I aimed for just outside the throne room,” Clary said. “We’ve been here. It just always looks different. ” Jace had already moved down the main corridor. Even without the Soundless rune, he was as quiet as a cat on the soft moss. The others followed, Clary with her hand on the hilt of her sword. She was a little surprised at how short a time it had taken to become used to a weapon hovering at her side; if she reached for Heosphoros and found it not there, she thought, she would panic. “Here,” Jace said softly, motioning the rest of them to be quiet. They were in an archway, a curtain separating them from a larger room beyond. The last time Clary had been here, the curtain had been made out of living butterflies, and their struggles had made it rustle. Today it was thorns, like the thorns that surrounded Sleeping Beauty’s castle, thorns woven into one another so that they formed a dangling sheet. Clary could catch only glimpses of the room beyond—a glimmer of white and silver—but they could all hear the sound of laughing voices coming from the corridors around them. Glamour runes didn’t work on the Fair Folk; there was no way to hide from view. Jace was alert, his whole body tight. He carefully raised a dagger and parted the sheet of thorns as silently as he could. They all leaned in, staring. The room beyond was a winter fairyland, the kind Clary had rarely seen, except in visits to Luke’s farmhouse. The walls were sheets of white crystal, and the Queen reclined upon her divan, which was white crystal to match, shot through with veins of silver in the rock. The floor was covered in snow, and long icicles hung from the ceiling, each one bound around with ropes of gold-and-silver thorns. Bunches of white roses were piled around the room, scattered at the foot of the Queen’s divan, wound through her red hair like a crown. Her dress was white and silver too, as diaphanous as a sheet of ice; one could glimpse her body through it, though not clearly. Ice and roses and the Queen. The effect was blinding. She was leaning back on her couch, her head tipped up, speaking to a heavily armored faerie knight. His armor was dark brown, the color of the trunk of a tree; one of his eyes was black, the other pale blue, almost white. For a moment Clary thought he had the head of a deer tucked under his big arm, but as she looked closer, she realized that it was a helmet, decorated with antlers. “And how goes it with the Wild Hunt, Gwyn?” the Queen was asking. “The Gatherers of the Dead? I assume there were rich pickings for you at the Adamant Citadel the other night. I hear that the howls of the Nephilim tore the sky as they died. ” Clary felt the Shadowhunters around her tense. She remembered lying beside Jace in a boat in Venice and watching the Wild Hunt go by overhead; a maelstrom of shouts and battle cries, horses whose hooves gleamed scarlet, hammering across the sky. “So I have heard, my lady,” Gwyn said in a voice so hoarse, it was barely understandable. It sounded like the scrape of a blade against rough bark. “The Wild Hunt comes when the ravens of the battlefield scream for blood: We gather our riders from among the dying. But we were not at the Adamant Citadel. The war games of Nephilim and Dark Ones are too rich for our blood. The Fair Folk mix poorly with demons and angels. ” “You disappoint me, Gwyn,” said the Queen, pouting. “This is a time of power for the Fair Folk; we gain, we rise, we achieve the world. We belong on the chessboards of power, as much as Nephilim do. I had hoped for your advice. ” “Forgive me, lady,” said Gwyn. “Chess is too delicate a game for us. I cannot advise you. ” “But I gave you such a gift. ” The Queen sulked. “The Blackthorn boy. Shadowhunter and faerie blood together; it is rare. He will ride at your back, and demons will fear you. A gift from myself, and from Sebastian. ” Sebastian. She said it comfortably, familiarly. There was fondness in her voice, if the Queen of Faeries could be said to be fond. Clary could hear Jace’s breathing beside her: sharp and quick; the others were tense as well, panic chasing realization across their faces as the Queen’s words sank in. Clary felt Heosphoros grow cold in the grip of her hand. A path to the demon realms that leads through faerie lands. The earth cracking open under Sebastian’s feet. Sebastian bragging that he had allies. The Queen and Sebastian, giving the gift of a captured Nephilim child. Together. “Demons already fear me, beautiful one,” said Gwyn, and he smiled. My beautiful one. The blood in Clary’s veins was an icy river, singing down into her heart. Glancing down, she saw Simon move to cover Isabelle’s hand with his, a quick reassuring gesture; Isabelle had gone white, and looked sick, as did Alec and Jace. Simon swallowed; the gold ring on his finger glittered, and she heard Sebastian’s voice in her head: Do you really think she’d let you get your hands on something that would let you communicate with your little friends without her being able to listen in? Since I took it from you, I’ve spoken to her, she’s spoken to me—you were a fool to trust her, little sister. She likes to be on the winning side of things, the Seelie Queen. And that side will be ours, Clary. Ours. “You owe me one favor, then, Gwyn, in exchange for the boy,” said the Queen. “I know that the Wild Hunt serves its own laws, but I would request your presence at the next battle. ” Gwyn frowned. “I am not sure one boy is worth such a weighty promise. As I have said, the Hunt has small desire to involve itself in the business of Nephilim. ” “You need not fight,” said the Queen, in a voice like silk. “I would ask only your assistance with the bodies afterward. And there will be bodies. The Nephilim will pay for their crimes, Gwyn. Everyone must pay. ” Before Gwyn could reply, another figure strode into the room from the dark tunnel that curved away behind the Queen’s throne. It was Meliorn, in his white armor, his black hair in a braid down his back. His boots were encrusted with what looked like blackish tar. He frowned when he saw Gwyn. “A Hunter never brings good tidings,” he said. “Subside, Meliorn,” said the Queen. “Gwyn and I were only discussing an exchange of favors. ” Meliorn inclined his head. “I bear news, my lady, but I would have counsel with you in private. ” She turned to Gwyn. “Are we agreed?” Gwyn hesitated, then nodded, curtly, and with a glance of dislike in Meliorn’s direction, disappeared down the dark tunnel from which the faerie knight had come. The Queen slid down in her divan, her pale fingers like marble against her gown. “Very well, Meliorn. What did you wish to speak of? Is it news of the Downworld prisoners?” The Downworld prisoners. Clary heard Alec’s sharp intake of breath behind her, and Meliorn’s head whipped to the side. She saw his eyes narrow. “If I do not mistake myself,” he said, reaching for the blade at his side, “my lady, we have visitors—” Jace was already sliding his hand down his side, whispering, “Gabriel. ” The seraph blade blazed up, and Isabelle leaped to her feet, sweeping her whip forward, slicing through the curtain of thorns, which collapsed, rattling, to the ground. Jace darted past the thorns and advanced into the throne room, Gabriel blazing in his hand. Clary whipped her sword free. They poured out into the room, arranging themselves in an arc behind Jace: Alec with his bow already strung, Isabelle with her whip out and glittering, Clary with her sword, and Simon—Simon had no better weapon than his own self, but he stood and smiled at Meliorn, and his teeth glittered. The Queen drew herself upright with a hiss, quickly covered; it was the only time Clary had seen her flustered. “How dare you enter the Court unbidden?” she demanded. “This is the highest of crimes, a breaking of Covenant Law—” “How dare you speak of breaking Covenant Law!” Jace shouted, and the seraph blade burned in his hand. Clary thought Jonathan Shadowhunter must have looked like that, so many centuries ago, when he drove the demons back and saved an unknowing world from destruction. “You, who have murdered, and lied, and taken Downworlders of the Council prisoner. You have allied yourself with evil forces, and you will pay for it. ” “The Queen of the Seelie Court does not pay,” said the Queen. “Everyone pays,” Jace said, and suddenly he was standing on the divan, over the Queen, and the tip of his blade was against her throat. She flinched back, but she was pinned in place, Jace standing over her, his feet braced on the couch. “How did you do it?” he demanded. “Meliorn swore that you were on the side of the Nephilim. Faeries can’t lie. That’s why the Council trusted you—” “Meliorn is half-faerie. He can lie,” said the Queen, shooting an amused glance at Isabelle, who looked shocked. Only the Queen could look amused with a blade to her throat, Clary thought. “Sometimes the simplest answer is the correct one, Shadowhunter. ” “That’s why you wanted him on the Council,” said Clary, remembering the favor the Queen had asked of her what seemed so long ago now. “Because he can lie. ” “A betrayal long-planned. ” Jace was breathing hard. “I should cut your throat right now. ” “You would not dare,” said the Queen, unmoving; the point of the sword against her throat. “If you touch the Queen of the Seelie Court, the Fair Folk will be ranged against you for all time. ” Jace was breathing hard as he spoke, and his face was full of burning light. “Then what are you now?” he demanded. “We heard you. You spoke of Sebastian as an ally. The Adamant Citadel lies on ley lines. Ley lines are the province of the fey. You led him there, you opened the way, you let him ambush us. How are you not already ranged against us?” An ugly look crossed Meliorn’s face. “You may have heard us speaking, little Nephilim,” he said. “But if we kill you before you return to the Clave to tell your tales, none others need ever know—” The knight started forward. Alec let an arrow fly, and it plunged into Meliorn’s leg. The knight toppled backward with a cry. Alec strode forward, already notching another arrow to his bow. Meliorn was on the ground, moaning, the snow around him turning red. Alec stood over him, bow at the ready. “Tell us how to get Magnus—how to get the prisoners back,” he said. “Do it, or I’ll turn you into a pincushion. ” Meliorn spat. His white armor seemed to blend into the snow around him. “I will tell you nothing,” he said. “Torture me, kill me, I shall not betray my Queen. ” “It doesn’t matter what he says, anyway,” said Isabelle. “He can lie, remember?” Alec’s face shut. “True,” he said. “Die, then, liar. ” And he let the next arrow go. It sank into Meliorn’s chest, and the faerie knight fell back, the force of the arrow sending his body skidding back across the snow. His head hit the cave wall with a wet smack. The Queen cried out. The sound pierced Clary’s ears, snapping her out of her shock. She could hear the sound of faeries shouting, running feet in the corridors outside. “Simon!” she yelled, and he whirled around. “Come here!” She jammed Heosphoros back into her belt, seized her stele, and darted toward the main door, now denuded of its ragged curtain of thorns. Simon was at her heels. “Lift me,” she panted, and without asking, he put his hands around her waist and thrust her upward, his vampire strength nearly sending her hurtling to the roof. She grabbed on tight to the top of the archway with her free hand, and looked down. Simon was staring up at her, obviously puzzled, but his grip on her was steady. “Hold on,” she said, and began to draw. It was the opposite of the rune she’d drawn on Valentine’s boat: This was a rune for shutting and locking, for closing away all things, for hiding and safety. Black lines spread from the tip of her stele as she drew, and she heard Simon say, “Hurry up. They’re coming,” just as she finished, and drew the stele back. The ground underneath them jerked. They fell together, Clary landing on Simon—not the most comfortable landing, he was all knees and elbows—and rolling to the side as a wall of earth began to slide across the open archway, like a theater curtain being drawn. There were shadows rushing toward the door, shadows that began to take the shape of running faerie folk, and Simon jerked Clary upright just as the doorway that opened onto the corridor disappeared with a final rumble, shutting away the faeries on the other side. “By the Angel,” Isabelle said in an awed voice. Clary turned around, stele in hand. Jace was on his feet, the Seelie Queen in front of him, his sword pointed at her heart. Alec stood over Meliorn’s corpse; he was expressionless as he looked at Clary, and then at his parabatai. Behind him opened the passageway through which Meliorn had come and Gwyn had gone. “Are you going to close the back tunnel?” Simon asked Clary. She shook her head. “Meliorn had pitch on his shoes,” she said. “?‘And the streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch,’ remember? I think he came from the demon realms. I think they’re that way. ” “Jace,” Alec said. “Tell the Queen what we want, and that if she does it, we will let her live. ” The Queen laughed, a shrill sound. “Little archer boy,” she said. “I underestimated you. Sharp are the arrows of a broken heart. ” Alec’s face tightened. “You underestimated all of us; you always have. You and your arrogance. The Fair Folk are an old people, a good people. You aren’t fit to lead them. Under your rule they will all wind up like this,” he said, jerking his chin toward Meliorn’s corpse. “You are the one who killed him,” said the Queen, “not I. ” “Everyone pays,” Alec said, and his eyes on her were steady and blue and hard. “We desire the safe return of the hostages Sebastian Morgenstern has taken,” said Jace. The Queen spread her hands. “They are not in this world, nor here in Faerie, nor in any land over which I have jurisdiction. There is nothing I can do to help you rescue them, nothing at all. ” “Very well,” said Jace, and Clary had the feeling he had expected that response. “There is one other thing you can do, one thing you can show us, that will make me spare you. ” The Queen went still. “What is that, Shadowhunter?” “The road to the demon realm of Edom,” said Jace. “We want safe passage to it. We will walk it, and walk our way out of your kingdom. ” To Clary’s surprise the Queen seemed to relax. The tension bled from her posture, and a small smile tugged at the corner of her mouth—a smile that Clary did not like. “Very well. I will lead you to the road to the demon realm. ” The Queen lifted her diaphanous dress in her hands so that she could make her way down the steps that surrounded her divan. Her feet were bare, and as white as the snow. She began to make her way across the room to the dark passage that stretched away behind her throne. Alec fell into step behind Jace, and Isabelle behind him; Clary and Simon made up the rear, a strange procession. “I really, really hate to say this,” Simon said in a low voice as they went out from the throne room and into the shadowed darkness of the underground passage, “but that kind of seemed too easy. ” “That wasn’t easy,” Clary whispered back. “I know, but the Queen—she’s clever. She could have found a way out of doing this if she’d wanted to. She doesn’t have to let us go to the demon realms. ” “But she does want to,” Clary said. “She thinks we’ll die there. ” Simon shot her a sideways look. “Will we?” “I don’t know,” Clary said, and sped up her pace to catch up with the others.
The corridor wasn’t as long as Clary had thought. Its darkness had made the distance seem impossible, but they had only been walking for a half hour or so when they broke out from the shadows and into a larger, lighted space. They had been walking in silence and darkness, Clary lost in her thoughts—memories of the house she and Sebastian and Jace had shared, of the sound of the Wild Hunt roaring across the sky, of that piece of paper with the words “my beautiful one” on it. That hadn’t been romance; that had been respect. The Seelie Queen, the beautiful one. The Queen likes to be on the winning side of things, Clary, and that side will be ours, Sebastian had said to her once; even when she had reported that to the Clave, she had taken it as part of his bluster. She had believed along with the Council that the Fair Folk’s word that they were loyal was enough, that the Queen would at least wait to see which way the wind blew before she broke any alliances. She thought of the catch in Jace’s breath when he’d said a betrayal long-planned. Maybe none of them had considered it because they hadn’t been able to bear considering it: that the Queen would be so sure of Sebastian’s eventual victory that she would hide him in Faerie, where he could not be tracked. That she would help him in battle. Clary thought of the earth opening at the Adamant Citadel and taking Sebastian and the Endarkened down into it; that had been faerie magic: The Courts lay underground, after all. Why else had the Dark Shadowhunters who had attacked the Los Angeles Institute taken Mark Blackthorn? Everyone had assumed Sebastian was afraid of the vengeance of the Fair Folk, but he wasn’t. He was in league with them. He had taken Mark because he had faerie blood, and because of that blood, they thought Mark belonged to them. In all her life she had never thought so much as she had in the past six months about blood and what it meant. Nephilim blood bred true; she was a Shadowhunter. Angel blood: It made her what she was, gifted her with the power of runes. It made Jace what he was, made him strong and fast and brilliant. Morgenstern blood: She had it, and so did Sebastian, and that was why he cared about her at all. It gave her a dark heart too, or did it? Was it Sebastian’s blood—Morgenstern and demon, mixed—that made him a monster, or could he have been changed, fixed, made better, taught otherwise, as the Lightwoods had taught Jace? “Here we are,” said the Seelie Queen, and her voice was amused. “Can you guess the right road?” They stood in a massive cave, the roof lost in shadow. The walls glowed with a phosphorescent shine, and four roads branched off from where they stood: the one behind them, and three others. One was clear and broad and smooth, leading directly ahead of them. The one on the left shone with green leaves and bright flowers, and Clary thought she saw the glimmer of blue sky in the distance. Her heart longed to go that way. And the last way, the darkest, was a narrow tunnel, the entrance wound about with spiked metal, and thornbushes lining the sides. Clary thought she could see darkness and stars at the end. Alec laughed shortly. “We’re Shadowhunters,” he said. “We know the old tales. This is the Three Roads. ” At Clary’s puzzled look he said, “Faeries don’t like their secrets to get out, but sometimes human musicians have been able to encode faerie secrets into ancient ballads. There’s one called ‘Thomas the Rhymer,’ about a man who was kidnapped by the Queen of Faerie—” “Hardly kidnapped,” objected the Queen. “He came quite willingly. ” “And she took him to a place where three roads lay, and told him that one went to Heaven, and one went to Faerieland, and one went to Hell. ‘And see ye not that narrow road, so thick beset with thorns and briars? That is the path of righteousness, though after it but few inquires. ’?” Alec pointed toward the narrow tunnel. “It goes to the mundane world,” said the Queen sweetly. “Your folk find it heavenly enough there. ” “That’s how Sebastian got to the Adamant Citadel, and had warriors backing him up that the Clave couldn’t see,” said Jace in disgust. “He used this tunnel. He had warriors hanging back here in Faerie, where they couldn’t be tracked. They came through when he needed them. ” He gave the Queen a dark look. “Many Nephilim are dead because of you. ” “Mortals,” said the Queen. “They die. ” Alec ignored her. “There,” he said, pointing to the leafy tunnel. “That goes farther into Faerie. And that”—he pointed ahead—“is the road to Hell. That’s where we’re going. ” “I always heard it was paved with good intentions,” said Simon. “Place your feet upon the way and find out, Daylighter,” said the Queen. Jace twisted the tip of the blade in her back. “What will stop you from telling Sebastian we’ve come after him the moment we leave you?” The Queen made no noise of pain; only her lips thinned. She looked old in that moment, despite the youth and beauty of her face. “You ask a fine question. And even if you kill me, there are those in my Court who will speak to him of you, and he will guess your intentions, for he is clever. You cannot evade his knowing, save you kill all the Fair Folk in my Court. ” Jace paused. He held the seraph blade in his hand, the tip pressed up against the Seelie Queen’s back. Its light flared up onto his face, carving out its beauty in peaks and valleys, the sharpness of cheekbones and the angle of jaw. It caught the tips of his hair and licked them with fire, as if he were wearing a crown of burning thorns. Clary watched him, and the others did as well, silently, giving him their trust. Whatever decision he made, they would stand behind it. “Come, now,” said the Queen. “You do not have the stomach for so much killing. You were always Valentine’s gentlest child. ” Her eyes lingered a moment on Clary, gleeful. You have a dark heart in you, Valentine’s daughter. “Swear,” said Jace. “I know what promises mean to your people. I know you cannot lie. Swear you will say nothing of us to Sebastian, nor will you allow anyone in your court to do the same. ” “I swear,” said the Queen. “I swear that no one in my court by word or deed will tell him that you came here. ” Jace stepped away from the Queen, lowering his blade to his side. “I know you think you are sending us to our deaths,” he said. “But we will not die so easily. We will not lose this war. And when we are victorious, we shall make you and your people bleed for what you have done. ” The Queen’s smile left her face. They turned away from her and started down the path to Edom, silently; Clary looked over her shoulder once as they went, and saw only the outline of the Queen, motionless, watching them go, her eyes burning. The corridor curved far away into the distance, seeming as if it had been hollowed out of the rock around it by fire. As the five of them went forward, moving in total silence, the pale stone walls around them darkened, stained here and there by streaks of charcoaled blackness, as if the rock itself had burned. The smooth floor began to give way to a rockier one, grit crunching under their boot heels. The phosphorescence in the walls started to dim, and Alec drew his witchlight from his pocket and raised it overhead. As the light rayed out from between his fingers, Clary felt Simon, beside her, stiffen. “What is it?” she whispered. “Something moving. ” He jabbed a finger in the direction of the shadows ahead. “Up there. ” Clary squinted but saw nothing; Simon’s vampire eyesight was better even than a Shadowhunter’s. As quietly as she could she drew Heosphoros from her belt and paced a few steps ahead, keeping to the shadows at the sides of the tunnel. Jace and Alec were deep in conversation. Clary tapped Izzy on the shoulder and whispered to her, “There’s someone here. Or something. ” Isabelle didn’t reply, only turned to her brother and made a gesture at him—a complicated movement of fingers. Alec’s eyes showed his comprehension, and he turned immediately to Jace. Clary remembered the first time she’d seen the three of them, in Pandemonium, years of practice melding them into a unit that thought together, moved together, breathed together, fought together. She couldn’t help but wonder if, no matter what happened, no matter how dedicated a Shadowhunter she became, she would always be on the fringes— Alec swung his hand down suddenly, dousing the light. A flash and a spark, and Isabelle was gone from Clary’s side. Clary spun around, holding Heosphoros, and heard the sounds of a scuffle: a thump, and then a very human yelp of pain. “Stop!” Simon called, and light exploded all around them. It was as if a camera flash had gone off. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the new brightness. The scene filled in slowly: Jace holding his witchlight, the glow radiating around him like the light of a small sun. Alec, his bow raised and notched. Isabelle, the handle of her whip tight in one hand, the whip itself curled around the ankles of a slight figure hunched against the cave wall—a boy, with pale-blond hair that curled over his slightly pointed ears— “Oh, my God,” Clary whispered, shoving her weapon back into her belt and pressing forward. “Isabelle—stop. It’s all right,” she said, moving toward the boy. His clothes were torn and dirty, his feet bare and black with filth. His arms were bare, too, and on them were the marks of runes. Shadowhunter runes. “By the Angel. ” Izzy’s whip slithered back into her grasp. Alec’s bow fell to his side. The boy lifted his head and scowled. “You’re a Shadowhunter?” Jace said in an incredulous tone. The boy scowled again, more ferociously. There was anger in his look, but more than that, there was grief and fear. There was no doubting who he was. He had the same fine features as his sister, the same angled chin and hair like bleached wheat, curling at the tips. He was about sixteen, Clary remembered. He looked younger. “It’s Mark Blackthorn,” Clary said. “Helen’s brother. Look at his face. Look at his hand. ” For a moment, Mark looked confused. Clary touched her own ring finger, and his eyes lit with comprehension. He held out his thin right hand. On the fourth finger the family ring of the Blackthorns, with its design of intertwined thorns, glittered. “How did you get here?” Jace said. “How did you know how to find us?” “I was with the Hunters underground,” Mark said in a low voice. “I heard Gwyn talking to some of the others about how you’d shown up in the Queen’s chamber. I sneaked away from the Hunters, they weren’t paying attention to me. I was looking for you and I ended up—here. ” He gestured to the tunnel around them. “I had to talk to you. I had to know about my family. ” His face was in shadow, but Clary saw his features tighten. “The faeries told me they were all dead. Is it true?” There was a shocked silence, and Clary read the panic in Mark’s expression as his eyes darted from Isabelle’s downcast eyes, to Jace’s blank expression, to Alec’s tight posture. “It’s true,” Mark said then, “isn’t it? My family—” “Your father was Turned. But your brothers and sisters are alive,” Clary said. “They’re in Idris. They escaped. They’re fine. ” If she had expected Mark to look relieved, she was disappointed. He went white. “What?” “Julian, Helen, the others—they’re all alive. ” Clary put her hand on his shoulder; he flinched away. “They’re alive, and they’re worried about you. ” “Clary,” Jace said, a warning in his voice. Clary shot a look at him over her shoulder; surely telling Mark his siblings were alive was the most important thing? “Have you eaten anything, drunk anything since the Fair Folk took you?” Jace asked, moving to peer into Mark’s face. Mark jerked away, but not before Clary heard Jace’s sharp intake of breath. “What is it?” Isabelle demanded. “His eyes,” Jace said, raising his witchlight and shining it into Mark’s face. Mark scowled again but allowed Jace to examine him. His eyes were large, long-lashed, like Helen’s; unlike hers, his were mismatched. One was Blackthorn blue, the color of water. The other was gold, hazed through with shadows, a darker version of Jace’s own. Jace swallowed visibly. “The Wild Hunt,” he said. “You’re one of them now. ” Jace was scanning the boy with his eyes, as if Mark were a book he could read. “Put your hands out,” Jace said finally, and Mark did so. Jace caught them and turned them over, baring the other boy’s wrists. Clary felt her throat tighten. Mark was wearing only a T-shirt, and his bare forearms were striped with bloody whip marks. Clary thought of the way she had touched Mark’s shoulder and he’d flinched away. God knew what his other injuries were, under his clothes. “When did this happen?” Mark pulled his hands away. They were shaking. “Meliorn did it,” he said. “When he first took me. He said he’d stop if I ate and drank their food, so I did. I didn’t think it mattered, if my family was dead. And I thought faeries couldn’t lie. ” “Meliorn can,” said Alec grimly. “Or at least, he could. ” “When did this all happen?” Isabelle demanded. “The faeries only took you less than a week ago—” Mark shook his head. “I’ve been with the Folk for a long time,” he said. “I couldn’t say how long. ” “Time runs differently in Faerie,” Alec said. “Sometimes faster, sometimes slower. ” Mark said, “Gwyn told me I belonged to the Hunt and I couldn’t leave them unless they allowed me to go. Is that true?” “It’s true,” Jace said. Mark slumped against the cave wall. He turned his head toward Clary. “You saw them. You saw my brothers and sisters. And Emma?” “They’re all right, all of them, Emma, too,” Clary said. She wondered if it helped. He had sworn to stay in Faerie because he thought his family was dead, and the promise held, though it was based on a lie. Was it better to think you had lost everything, and to start over? Or easier to know that the people you loved were alive, even if you could never see them again? She thought of her own mother, somewhere in the world beyond the end of the tunnel. Better to know they were alive, she thought. Better for her mother and Luke to be alive and all right, and for her never to see them again, than for them to be dead. “Helen can’t take care of them. Not alone,” Mark said a little desperately. “And Jules, he’s too young. He can’t take care of Ty; he doesn’t know the things he needs. He doesn’t know how to talk to him—” He took a shuddering breath. “You should let me come with you. ” “You know you can’t,” said Jace, though he couldn’t look Mark in the face; he was staring at the ground. “If you’ve sworn fealty to the Wild Hunt, you’re one of them. ” “Take me with you,” Mark repeated. He had the stunned, bewildered look of someone who had been mortally injured but didn’t yet realize the extent of the injury. “I don’t want to be one of them. I want to be with my family—” “We’re going to Hell,” Clary said. “We couldn’t bring you with us, even if you could leave Faerie safely—” “And you can’t,” Alec said. “If you try to leave, you’ll die. ” “I’d rather die,” Mark said, and Jace’s head whipped up. His eyes were bright gold, almost too bright, as if the fire inside him were spilling out through them. “They took you because you have faerie blood, but also because you have Shadowhunter blood. They want to punish the Nephilim,” Jace said, his gaze intent. “Show them what a Shadowhunter is made of; show them you aren’t afraid. You can live through this. ” In the wavering illumination of the witchlight, Mark looked at Jace. Tears had made their tracks through the dirt on his face, but his eyes were dry. “I don’t know what to do,” he said. “What do I do?” “Find a way to warn the Nephilim,” Jace said. “We’re going into Hell, like Clary said. We might never come back. Someone has to tell the Shadowhunters the Fair Folk are not their allies. ” “The Hunters will catch me if I try to send a message. ” The boy’s eyes flashed. “They’ll kill me. ” “Not if you’re fast and smart,” said Jace. “You can do it. I know you can. ” “Jace,” Alec said, his bow at his side. “Jace, we need to let him go before the Hunt notice he’s missing. ” “Right,” Jace said, and hesitated. Clary saw him take Mark’s hand; he pressed his witchlight into the boy’s palm, where it flickered, and then resumed its steady glow. “Take this with you,” said Jace, “for it can be dark in the land under the hill, and the years very long. ” Mark stood for a moment, the rune-stone in his hand. He looked so slight in the wavering light that Clary’s heart hammered a tattoo of disbelief—surely they could help him, they were Nephilim, they didn’t leave their own behind—and then he turned and ran, away from them, on soundless bare feet. “Mark—” Clary whispered, and cut herself off; he was gone. The shadows swallowed him up, only the darting will-o’-the-wisp light of the rune-stone visible, until it too blended with the darkness. She looked up at Jace. “What did you mean, ‘the land under the hill’?” she asked. “Why did you say that?” Jace didn’t answer her; he looked stunned. She wondered if Mark, brittle and orphaned and alone, reminded him somehow of himself. “The land under the hill is Faerie,” said Alec. “An old, old name for it. He’ll be all right,” he said to Jace. “He will. ” “You gave him your witchlight,” Isabelle said. “You’ve always had that witchlight—” “Screw the witchlight,” Jace said violently, and slammed his hand against the wall of the cave; there was a brief flare of light, and he drew his arm back. The mark of his hand was burned black into the stone of the tunnel, and his palm still glowed, as if the blood in his fingers were phosphorus. He gave an odd, choked laugh. “I don’t exactly need it, anyway. ” “Jace,” Clary said, and put her hand on his arm. He didn’t move away from her, but he didn’t react, either. She dropped her voice. “You can’t save everyone,” she said. “Maybe not,” he said as the light in his hand dimmed. “But it would be nice to save someone for a change. ” “Guys,” Simon said. He’d been oddly quiet throughout the encounter with Mark, and Clary was startled to hear him speak now. “I don’t know if you can see it, but there’s something—something at the end of the tunnel. ” “A light?” Jace said, his voice edged with sarcasm. His eyes glittered. “The opposite. ” Simon moved forward, and after a hesitant moment Clary took her hand from Jace’s arm, and followed him. The tunnel went straight on ahead and then jogged slightly; at the curve she saw what Simon must have seen, and stopped dead. Darkness. The tunnel ended in a whirling vortex of darkness. Something moved in it, shaping the dark like the wind shaping clouds. She could hear it too, the purr and rumble of the dark, like the sound of jet engines. The others joined her. Together they stood in a line, watching the dark. Watching it move. A curtain of shadow, and beyond it the utter unknown. It was Alec who spoke, staring, awed, at the moving shadows. The air that blew down the corridor was stinging hot, like pepper thrown into the heart of a fire. “This,” he said, “is the craziest thing we’ve ever done. ” “What if we can’t ever come back?” Isabelle said. The ruby around her neck was pulsing, glowing like a stoplight, illuminating her face. “Then at least we’ll be together,” Clary said, and looked around at her companions. She reached out and took Jace’s hand, and Simon’s hand on the other side of her, and held them tight. “We go through together, and on the other side we stay together,” she said. “All right?” None of them answered, but Isabelle took Simon’s other hand, and Alec took Jace’s. They all stood for a moment, staring. Clary felt Jace’s hand tighten on hers, a nearly imperceptible pressure. They stepped forward, and the shadows swallowed them up. “Mirror, my mirror,” said the Queen, placing her hand upon the mirror. “Show me my Morning Star. ” The mirror hung on the wall of the Queen’s bedroom. It was surrounded by wreaths of flowers: roses from which no one had cut away the thorns. The mist inside the mirror coalesced, and Sebastian’s angular face looked out. “My beautiful one,” he said. His voice was calm and composed, though there was blood on his face and clothes. He was holding his sword, and the stars along the blade were dimmed with scarlet. “I am . . . somewhat occupied at the moment. ” “I thought you might wish to know that your sister and adoptive brother have just left this place,” said the Queen. “They found the road to Edom. They are coming to you. ” His face transformed with a wolfish grin. “And they didn’t make you promise not to tell me that they came to your court?” “They did,” said the Queen. “They said nothing about telling you of leaving. ” Sebastian laughed. “They killed one of my knights,” said the Queen. “Spilled blood before my throne. They are beyond my reach now. You know my people cannot survive in the poison lands. You will have to take my revenge for me. ” The light in his eyes changed. The Queen had always found what Sebastian felt for his sister, and Jace as well, to be something of a mystery, but then Sebastian himself was by far the greater mystery. Before he had come to make her his offer, she would never have considered a true alliance with Shadowhunters. Their peculiar sense of honor made them untrustworthy. It was Sebastian’s very lack of honor that made her trust him. The fine craft of betrayal was second nature to Fair Folk, and Sebastian was an artist of lies. “I will serve your interests in all ways, my Queen,” he said. “In a short enough while your people and mine shall hold the reins of the world, and when we do, you may have revenge on any who have ever offended you. ” She smiled at him. Blood still stained the snow in her throne room, and she still felt the jab of Jace Lightwood’s blade against her throat. It was not a real smile, but she knew enough to let her beauty do her work for her, sometimes. “I do adore you,” she said. “Yes,” said Sebastian, and his eyes flickered, their color like dark clouds. The Queen wondered idly if he thought of the two of them the way she did: lovers who, even while embracing, each held a knife to the other’s back, ready to stab and to betray. “And I do like to be adored. ” He grinned. “I am glad they are coming. Let them come. ”