City of Heavenly Fire – Chapter 15: BRIMSTONE AND SALT

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“Please don’t rip my hand off,” Magnus said. “I like that hand. I need that hand. ” “Hmph,” said Raphael, who was kneeling beside him, his hands on the chain that ran between the manacle on Magnus’s right hand and the adamas loop sunk deep into the floor. “I am only trying to help. ” He jerked, hard, on the chain, and Magnus yelped in pain and glared. Raphael had thin, boyish hands, but that was deceptive: He had a vampire’s strength, and he was currently bending its power to the purpose of yanking Magnus’s chains out by the roots. The cell they were in was circular. The floor was made of granite flagstones, overlapping. Stone benches ran around the inside of the walls. There was no discernible door, though there were narrow windows—as narrow as arrow slits. There was no glass in them, and it was possible to see from their depth that the walls were at least a foot thick. Magnus had woken up in this room, a circle of red-geared Dark Shadowhunters standing around him, affixing his chains to the floor. Before the door had clanged shut behind them, he’d seen Sebastian standing in the corridor outside, grinning in at him like a death’s-head. Now Luke stood at one of the windows, staring out. None of them had been given a change of clothes, and he still wore the suit trousers and shirt he’d worn to dinner in Alicante. The front of his shirt was splashed with rusty stains. Magnus had to keep reminding himself it was wine. Luke looked haggard, his hair rumpled, one of the lenses of his glasses cracked. “Do you see anything?” Magnus asked now, as Raphael moved to his other side to see if the left-hand chain would be any easier to remove. Magnus was the only one chained. By the time he’d woken up, Luke and Raphael had already been awake, Raphael lounging against one of the benches while Luke called out for Jocelyn until he was hoarse. “No,” Luke said shortly. Raphael raised an eyebrow at Magnus. He looked tousled and young, teeth digging into his lower lip as his knuckles whitened around the chain links. They were long enough to allow Magnus to sit up, but not to stand. “Just fog. Gray-yellow fog. Maybe mountains in the distance. It’s hard to tell. ” “Do you think we’re still in Idris?” Raphael asked. “No,” Magnus said shortly. “We’re not in Idris. I can feel it in my blood. ” Luke looked at him. “Where are we?” Magnus could feel the burn in his blood, the beginning of fever. It prickled along his nerves, drying his mouth, making his throat ache. “We’re in Edom,” he said. “A demon dimension. ” Raphael dropped the chain and swore in Spanish. “I cannot free you,” he said, clearly frustrated. “Why have Sebastian’s servants chained only you and not either of us?” “Because Magnus needs his hands to do magic,” said Luke. Raphael looked at Magnus, surprised. Magnus wiggled his eyebrows. “Didn’t know that, vampire?” he said. “I would have thought you would have figured it out by now; you’ve been alive long enough. ” “Perhaps. ” Raphael sat back on his heels. “But I have never had much business with warlocks. ” Magnus gave him a look, a look that said: We both know that isn’t true. Raphael looked away. “Too bad,” Magnus said. “If Sebastian had done his research, he would have known I can’t do magic in this realm. There’s no need for this. ” He rattled his chains like Marley’s ghost. “So this is where Sebastian’s been hiding all this time,” Luke said. “This is why we couldn’t track him. This is his base of operations. ” “Or,” said Raphael, “this is just some place he has abandoned us to die and rot. ” “He wouldn’t bother,” Luke said. “If he wanted us dead, we’d be dead, the three of us. He’s got some larger plan. He always does. I just don’t know why—” He broke off, looking down at his hands, and Magnus remembered him suddenly much younger, flyaway hair and worried looks and his heart on his sleeve. “He won’t hurt her,” Magnus said. “Jocelyn, I mean. ” “He might,” Raphael said. “He is very crazy. ” “Why wouldn’t he hurt her?” Luke sounded as if he were holding in a fear that threatened to explode. “Because she’s his mother? It doesn’t work that way. Sebastian doesn’t work that way. ” “Not because she’s his mother,” Magnus said. “Because she’s Clary’s mother. She’s leverage. And he won’t give that up easily. ” They had been walking for what seemed like hours now, and Clary was exhausted. The uneven ground made the walking harder. None of the hills were very high, but they were pathless, and covered in shale and jagged rock. Sometimes there were plains of sticky, tarry pitch to cross, and their feet sank in almost to the ankles, dragging down their steps. They paused to put on runes for sure-footedness and strength, and to drink water. It was a dry place, all smoke and ashes, with the occasional bright river of molten rock sludging through the burned land. Their faces were already smeared with dirt and ash, their gear powdered with it. “Ration the water,” Alec warned, capping his plastic bottle. They had paused in the shadow of a small mountain. Its jagged top snarled up into peaks and crenellations that made it resemble a crown. “We don’t know how long we’ll be traveling. ” Jace touched the bracelet on his wrist, and then his tracking rune. He frowned at the traced pattern on the back of his hand. “The runes we just put on,” he said. “Someone show me one. ” Isabelle made an impatient noise, then thrust out her wrist, where Alec had inked a speed rune earlier. She blinked down at it. “It’s fading,” she said, a sudden uncertainty in her voice. “My tracking rune as well, and the others,” said Jace, glancing over his skin. “I think runes fade more quickly here. We’re going to have to be careful about using them. Check to make sure when they need to be applied again. ” “Our Speed runes are fading,” Isabelle said, sounding frustrated. “That could be the difference between two days of walking and three. Sebastian could be doing anything to the prisoners. ” Alec winced. “He won’t,” Jace said. “They’re his insurance that the Clave will turn us over to him. He won’t do anything to them unless he’s sure that won’t happen. ” “We could walk all night,” Isabelle said. “We could use Wakefulness runes. Keep applying them. ” Jace glanced around. Dirt was smudged under his eyes, and across his cheeks and forehead where he’d rubbed the palm of his hand. The sky had deepened from yellow to dark orange, smeared with roiling black clouds. Clary guessed that meant that nightfall was near. She wondered if days and nights were the same in this place, or if the hours were different, the rotations of this planet subtly misaligned. “When Wakefulness runes fade, you crash,” Jace said. “Then we’ll be facing Sebastian basically hungover—not a good idea. ” Alec followed Jace’s gaze around the deadly landscape. “Then we’re going to have to find a place to rest. Sleep. Aren’t we?” Clary didn’t hear whatever Jace said next. She’d already moved away from the conversation, clambering up the steep side of a ridge of rock. The effort made her cough; the air was foul, thick with smoke and ash, but she didn’t feel like staying for an argument. She was exhausted, her head was pounding, and she kept seeing her mother, over and over, in her head. Her mother and Luke, standing on a balcony together, hand in hand, looking down at her fondly. She dragged herself up to the top of the rise and paused there. It sloped down steeply on the other side, ending in a plateau of gray rock that stretched to the horizon, piled here and there with heaps of slag and shale. The sun had lowered in the sky, though it was still the same burned orange color. “What are you looking at?” said a voice at her elbow; she started, and turned to find Simon there. He wasn’t quite as grimy as the rest of them—dirt never seemed to stick to vampires—but his hair was full of dust. She pointed to dark holes where they pocked the side of the nearby hill like gunshot wounds. “Those are cave entrances, I think,” she said. “Kind of looks like something out of World of Warcraft, doesn’t it?” he said, gesturing around them at the blasted landscape, the ash-torn sky. “Only, you can’t just turn it off to get away. ” “I haven’t been able to turn it off for a long time. ” Clary could see Jace and the other Lightwoods a distance away, still arguing. “Are you all right?” Simon asked. “I haven’t had a chance to talk to you since everything happened with your mother, and Luke—” “No,” Clary said. “I’m not all right. But I have to keep going. If I keep going, I can not think about it. ” “I’m sorry. ” Simon put his hands into his pockets, his head down. His brown hair blew across his forehead, across the place where the Mark of Cain had been. “Are you kidding? I’m the one who’s sorry. For everything. The fact that you got turned into a vampire, the Mark of Cain—” “That protected me,” Simon protested. “That was a miracle. It was something only you could do. ” “That’s what I’m afraid of,” Clary whispered. “What?” “That I don’t have any more miracles in me,” she said, and pressed her lips together as the others joined them, Jace looking curiously from Simon to Clary as if wondering what they had been talking about. Isabelle gazed out over the plain, at the acres of bleakness ahead, the view choked with dust. “Did you see something?” “What about those caves?” Simon asked, gesturing toward the dark entrances tunneling into the mountainside. “They’re shelter—” “Good idea,” Jace said. “We’re in a demon dimension, God knows what lives here, and you want to crawl into a narrow dark hole and—” “All right,” Simon interrupted. “It was just a suggestion. You don’t need to get pissed off—” Jace, who was clearly in a mood, gave him a cold look. “That wasn’t me pissed off, vampire—” A dark piece of cloud detached itself from the sky and darted suddenly downward, faster than any of them could follow. Clary caught a single horrible glimpse of wings and teeth and dozens of red eyes, and then Jace was rising up into the air, caught in the clawed grip of an airborne demon. Isabelle screamed. Clary’s hand went to her belt, but the demon had already shot back up into the sky, a whirl of leathery wings, emitting a high-pitched squeal of victory. Jace made no noise at all; Clary could see his boots dangling, motionless. Was he dead? Her vision went white. Clary whirled on Alec, who already had his bow out, an arrow notched and ready. “Shoot it!” she screamed. He spun like a dancer, scanning the sky. “I can’t get a clear shot; it’s too dark—I could hit Jace—” Isabelle’s whip uncoiled from her hand, a glimmering wire, reaching up, up, impossibly up. Its shimmering light illuminated the clouded sky, and Clary heard the demon scream again, this time a shrill cry of pain. The creature was spinning through the air, tumbling over and over, Jace caught in its grip. Its claws were sunk deep into his back—or was he clinging to it? Clary thought she saw the gleam of a seraph blade, or it might only have been the shimmer of Izzy’s whip as it reached up, and then fell back to earth in a brightening coil. Alec swore, and let an arrow fly. It shot upward, piercing the darkness; a second later a heaving dark mass plummeted to earth and hit the ground with a whump that sent up a cloud of powdery ash. They all stared. Splayed, the demon was large, almost the size of a horse, with a dark green, turtle-like body; limp, leathery wings; six centipede-like clawed appendages; and a long stem of a neck that ended in a circle of eyes and jagged, uneven teeth. The shaft of Alec’s arrow protruded from its side. Jace was kneeling on its back, a seraph blade in his hand. He plunged it down into the back of the creature’s neck viciously, over and over, sending up small geysers of black ichor that sprayed his clothes and face. The demon gave a squealing gurgle and slumped, its multiple red eyes going blank and lightless. Jace slid from its back, breathing hard. The seraph blade had already begun to warp and twist with ichor; he tossed it to the side and looked levelly at the small group of his friends, all staring at him with expressions of astonishment. “That,” he said, “was me pissed off. ” Alec made a sound halfway between a groan and an expletive, and lowered his bow. His black hair was stuck to his forehead with sweat. “You don’t all have to look so worried,” Jace said. “I was doing fine. ” Clary, light-headed with relief, gasped. “Fine? If your definition of ‘fine’ suddenly includes becoming a snack for a flying death turtle, then we are going to have to have words, Jace Lightwood—” “It didn’t vanish,” Simon interrupted, looking as stunned as the rest of them. “The demon. It didn’t vanish when you killed it. ” “No, it didn’t,” Isabelle said. “Which means its home dimension is here. ” Her head was craned back, and she was studying the sky. Clary could see the gleam of a newly applied Farsighted rune on her neck. “And apparently these demons can go out in the daylight. Probably because the sun here is almost burnt out. We need to get out of this area. ” Simon coughed loudly. “What were you all saying about taking shelter in the caves being a bad idea?” “Actually, that was just Jace,” said Alec. “Seems like a fine idea to me. ” Jace glared at them both, and scrubbed a hand across his face, succeeding in smearing the black ichor across his cheek. “Let’s check the caves out. We’ll find a small one, scout it thoroughly before we rest. I’ll take first watch. ” Alec nodded and started to move toward the nearest cave entrance. The rest of them followed; Clary fell into step beside Jace. He was silent, lost in thought; under the heavy cloud cover, his hair glinted a dull gold, and she could see the massive rips in the back of his gear jacket where the demon’s claws had taken hold. The corner of his mouth quirked up suddenly. “What?” Clary demanded. “Is something funny?” “?‘Flying death turtle’?” he said. “Only you. ” “?‘Only me’? Is that good or bad?” she asked as they reached the cave entrance, looming up before them like an open, dark mouth. Even in the shadows his smile was quicksilver. “It’s perfect. ”

They made it only a few feet into the tunnel before they found the way blocked with a metal gate. Alec cursed, looking back over his shoulder. The cave entrance was just behind them, and through it Clary could see orange sky and dark, circling shapes. “No—this is good,” Jace said, stepping closer to the gate. “Look. Runes. ” Runes were indeed worked into the curves of the metal: some familiar, some Clary didn’t know. Still, they spoke to her of protection, of the fending off of demonic forces, a whisper in the back of her head. “They’re protection runes,” she said. “Protection against demons. ” “Good,” said Simon, casting another anxious glance back over his shoulder. “Because the demons are coming—fast. ” Jace shot a glance behind them, then seized the gate and yanked at it. The lock burst, shedding flakes of rust. He pulled again, harder, and the gate swung open; Jace’s hands were shimmering with suppressed light, and the metal where he had touched it looked blackened. He ducked into the darkness beyond, and the others followed, Isabelle reaching for her witchlight. Simon came after, then Alec last, reaching out to slam the gate shut behind them. Clary took a moment to add a locking rune, just to be sure. Izzy’s witchlight flared up, illuminating the fact that they were standing in a tunnel that snaked forward into darkness. The walls were smooth, marbled gneiss, carved over and over again with runes of protection, holiness, and defense. The floor was sanded stone, easy to walk on. The air grew clearer as they made their way deeper into the mountain, the taint of fog and demons slowly receding until Clary was breathing more easily than she had since they had come to this realm. They emerged at last into a large circular space, clearly crafted by human hands. It looked like the inside of a cathedral dome: round, with a massive ceiling arching overhead. There was a fire pit in the center of the room, long gone cold. White stone gems had been set into the ceiling. They glowed softly, filling the room with dim illumination. Isabelle lowered her witchlight, letting it blink off in her hand. “I think this was a place to hide,” Alec said in a hushed voice. “Some sort of last barricade where whoever lived here once would be safe from the demons. ” “Whoever lived here once knew rune magic,” Clary said. “I don’t recognize them all, but I can feel what they mean. They’re holy runes, like Raziel’s. ” Jace slung his pack off his shoulders and let it slide to the ground. “We’re sleeping here tonight. ” Alec looked dubious. “Are you sure that’s safe?” “We’ll scout the tunnels,” Jace said. “Clary, come with me. Isabelle, Simon, take the east corridor. ” He frowned. “Well, we’re going to call it the east corridor. Here’s hoping this is still accurate in the demon realms. ” He tapped the compass rune on his forearm, which was one of the first Marks most Shadowhunters received. Isabelle dropped her pack, took out two seraph blades, and slid them into holsters on her back. “Fine. ” “I’ll go with you,” Alec said, looking at Isabelle and Simon with suspicious eyes. “If you must,” said Isabelle with exaggerated indifference. “I should warn you we’ll be making out in the dark. Big, sloppy make-outage. ” Simon looked startled. “We are—” he began, but Isabelle stomped on his toe, and he quieted. “?‘Make-outage’?” said Clary. “Is that a word?” Alec looked ill. “I suppose I could stay here. ” Jace grinned and tossed him a stele. “Make a fire,” he said. “Cook us a pie or something. This demon-hunting is hungry work. ” Alec drove the stele into the sand of the pit and began drawing the rune for fire. He appeared to be muttering something about how Jace wouldn’t like it if he woke up in the morning with all of his hair shaved off. Jace grinned at Clary. Under the ichor and blood, it was a ghost of his old, impish grin, but good enough. She took out Heosphoros. Simon and Isabelle had already disappeared down the east-facing tunnel; she and Jace turned the other way, which sloped slightly downward. As they fell into step, Clary heard Alec yell from behind them, “And your eyebrows, too!” Dryly, Jace chuckled. Maia wasn’t sure what she’d thought being pack leader would be like, but it hadn’t been this. She was sitting on the big desk in the lobby of the Second Precinct building, Bat in the swivel chair behind her, patiently explaining various aspects of wolf pack administration: how they communicated with the remaining members of the Praetor Lupus in England, how messages were sent back and forth from Idris, even how they managed orders placed at the Jade Wolf restaurant. They both looked up when the doors burst open and a blue-skinned warlock woman in nurse’s scrubs stalked into the room, followed by a tall man in a sweeping black coat. “Catarina Loss,” Bat said, by way of introduction. “Our new pack leader, Maia Roberts—” Catarina waved him away. She was very blue, almost a sapphire color, and had glossy white hair piled into a bun. Her scrubs had trucks on them. “This is Malcolm Fade,” she said, gesturing to the tall man beside her. “High Warlock of Los Angeles. ” Malcolm Fade inclined his head. He had angular features, hair the color of paper, and his eyes were purple. Really purple, a color no human eyes ever were. He was attractive, Maia thought, if you liked that sort of thing. “Magnus Bane is missing!” he announced, as if it were the title of a picture book. “And so is Luke,” said Catarina grimly. “Missing?” Maia echoed. “What do you mean, missing?” “Well, not missing exactly. Kidnapped,” said Malcolm, and Maia dropped the pen she was holding. “Who knows where they could be?” He sounded as if the whole thing was rather exciting and he was sad not to be a greater part of it. “Is Sebastian Morgenstern responsible?” Maia asked Caterina. “Sebastian captured all the Downworld representatives. Meliorn, Magnus, Raphael, and Luke. And Jocelyn, too. He’s holding them, he says, unless the Clave agrees to give him Clary and Jace. ” “And if they don’t?” asked Leila. Catarina’s dramatic entrance had brought the pack out, and they were filing into the room, draping themselves over the stairwell, and huddling up to the desk in the curious manner of lycanthropes. “Then he’ll kill the representatives,” said Maia. “Right?” “The Clave must know that if they let him do that, then Downworlders will rebel,” Bat said. “It would be tantamount to declaring that the lives of four Downworlders are worth less than the safety of two Shadowhunters. ” Not just two Shadowhunters, Maia thought. Jace was difficult and prickly, and Clary had been reserved at first, but they had fought for her and with her; they had saved her life and she had saved theirs. “Handing Jace and Clary over would be murdering them,” Maia said. “And with no real guarantee that we’d get Luke back. Sebastian lies. ” Catarina’s eyes flashed. “If the Clave doesn’t at least make a gesture toward getting Magnus and the others back, they won’t just lose the Downworlders on their Council. They’ll lose the Accords. ” Maia was quiet for a moment; she was conscious of all the eyes on her. The other wolves watching for her reaction. For their leader’s reaction. She straightened. “What is the word from the warlocks? What are they doing? What about the Fair Folk and the Night’s Children?” “Most of the Downworlders don’t know,” said Malcolm. “I happen to have an informant. I shared the news with Catarina because of Magnus. I thought she ought to know. I mean, this sort of thing doesn’t happen every day. Kidnapping! Ransoms! Love, sundered by tragedy!” “Shut up, Malcolm,” said Catarina. “This is why no one ever takes you seriously. ” She turned to Maia. “Look. Most of Downworld knows that the Shadowhunters packed up and went to Idris, of course; they don’t know why, though. They’re waiting for news from their representatives, which of course hasn’t come. ” “But that situation can’t hold,” said Maia. “Downworld will find out. ” “Oh, they’ll find out,” said Malcolm, looking as if he were trying hard to be serious. “But you know Shadowhunters; they keep themselves to themselves. Everyone knows about Sebastian Morgenstern, of course, and the Dark Nephilim, but the attacks on the Institutes have been kept fairly quiet. ” “They have the warlocks of the Spiral Labyrinth working on a cure for the effects of the Infernal Cup, but even they don’t know how urgent the situation is, or what’s been happening in Idris,” Catarina said. “I fear the Shadowhunters will wipe themselves out with their own secrecy. ” She looked even bluer than before; her color seemed to change with her mood. “So why come here to us, to me?” Maia asked. “Because Sebastian already brought his message to you through his attack on the Praetor,” Catarina replied. “And we know you’re close with the Shadowhunters—the Inquisitor’s children and Sebastian’s own sister, for instance. You know as much as we do, maybe more, about what’s going on. ” “I don’t know that much,” Maia admitted. “The wards around Idris have been making it hard for messages to get through. ” “We can help with that,” said Catarina. “Can’t we, Malcolm?” “Hmm?” Malcolm was idly wandering around the station, stopping to stare at things Maia thought of as everyday—a banister railing, a cracked tile in the wall, a pane of window glass—as if they were revelatory. The pack watched him in puzzlement. Catarina sighed. “Don’t mind him,” she said to Maia in an undertone. “He’s quite powerful, but something happened to him at the beginning of last century, and he’s never been quite right since. He’s pretty harmless. ” “Help? Of course we can help,” Malcolm said, turning around to face them. “You need to get a message through? There’s always carrier kittens. ” “You mean pigeons,” said Bat. “Carrier pigeons. ” Malcolm shook his head. “Carrier kittens. They’re so cute, no one can deny them. Fix your mouse problem, too. ” “We don’t have a mouse problem,” said Maia. “We have a megalomaniac problem. ” She looked at Catarina. “Sebastian’s determined to drive wedges between Downworlders and Shadowhunters. Kidnapping the representatives, attacking the Praetor, he won’t stop there. All of Downworld will know soon enough what’s going on. The question is, where will they stand?” “We will stand bravely with you!” Malcolm announced. Catarina looked darkly at him, and he quailed. “Well, we will stand bravely near you. Or at least within earshot. ” Maia gave him a hard look. “So no guarantees, basically?” Malcolm shrugged. “Warlocks are independent. And hard to get hold of. Like cats, but with fewer tails. Well, there are some tails. I don’t have one myself—” “Malcolm,” said Catarina. “The thing is,” Maia said, “either the Shadowhunters win or Sebastian does, and if he does, he’ll come for us, for all Downworlders. All he wants is to turn this world into a wasteland of ashes and bone. None of us will survive. ” Malcolm looked faintly alarmed, though not anywhere near as alarmed, Maia thought, as he ought to. His overwhelming aspect was one of innocent, childlike glee; he had none of Magnus’s wise mischief. She wondered how old he was. “I don’t think we can get into Idris to fight beside them, like we did before,” Maia went on. “But we can try to get the word out. Reach other Downworlders before Sebastian does. He’ll try to recruit them; we have to make them understand what joining up with him will mean. ” “The destruction of this world,” said Bat. “There are High Warlocks in various cities; they’ll probably consider the issue. But we’re loners, like Malcolm said,” replied Catarina. “The Fair Folk are unlikely to talk to any of us; they never do—” “And who cares what the vampires do?” snapped Leila. “They turn on their own, anyway. ” “No,” said Maia after a moment. “No, they can be loyal. We need to meet with them. It’s high time the leaders of the New York pack and vampire clan formed an alliance. ” A shocked murmur ran around the room. Werewolves and vampires didn’t parley unless brought together by a larger outside force, like the Clave. She reached her hand out to Bat. “Pen and paper,” she said, and he gave it to her. She scrawled a quick note, tore off a sheet of paper, and handed it to one of the younger wolf pups. “Take this to Lily at the Dumort,” she said. “Tell her I want to meet with Maureen Brown. She can pick a neutral location; we’ll approve it before the meeting. Tell them it should be as soon as possible. The lives of both our representative and theirs might depend on it. ” “I want to be mad at you,” Clary said. They were making their way down the snaking tunnel; Jace was holding her witchlight, its illumination guiding them. She was reminded of the first time he had pressed one of the smooth carved stones into her hand. Every Shadowhunter should have their own witchlight rune-stone. “Oh?” Jace said, casting a wary glance at her. The ground under their feet was polished smooth, and the walls of the corridor curved inward gracefully. Every few feet a new rune was carved into the stone. “What for?” “Risking your life,” she said. “Except you didn’t, really. You were just standing there and the demon grabbed you. Admittedly, you were being obnoxious to Simon. ” “If a demon grabbed me every time I was obnoxious to Simon, I’d have died the day you met me. ” “I just . . . ” She shook her head. Her vision was blurring with exhaustion, and her chest ached with longing for her mother, for Luke. For home. “I don’t know how I got here. ” “I could probably retrace our steps,” Jace said. “Straight through the faerie corridor, left at the decimated village, right at the blasted plain of the damned, sharp U-turn at the heap of dead demon—” “You know what I mean. I don’t know how I got here. My life was ordinary. I was ordinary—” “You’ve never been ordinary,” Jace said, his voice very quiet. Clary wondered if she’d ever stop being dizzied by his sudden transformations from humor to seriousness and back again. “I wanted to be. I wanted to have a normal life. ” She glanced down at herself, dusty boots and stained gear, her weapons glittering at her belt. “Go to art school. ” “Marry Simon? Have six kids?” There was a slight edge to Jace’s voice now. The corridor made a sharp right turn, and he disappeared around it. Clary quickened her step to catch up with him— And gasped. They had come out of the tunnel into an enormous cavern, half-filled with an underground lake. The cavern stretched out into the shadows. It was beautiful, the first beautiful thing Clary had seen since they’d entered the demon realm. The roof of the cave was folded stone, formed by years of trickling water, and it glowed with the intense blue shimmer of bioluminescent moss. The water below was just as blue, a deep glowing twilight, with pillars of quartz jutting up here and there like rods of crystal. The path opened out into a shallow beach of fine, very powdery sand, nearly as soft as ash, that led down to the water. Jace moved down the beach and crouched by the water, thrusting his hands into it. Clary came up behind him, her boots sending up puffs of sand, and knelt down as he splashed water over his face and neck, scrubbing at the stains of black ichor. “Be careful—” She caught at his arm. “The water could be poisonous. ” He shook his head. “It’s not. Look under the surface. ” The lake was clear, glassine. The bottom was smooth stone, carved all over with runes that emitted a faint glow. They were runes that spoke of purity, healing, and protection. “I’m sorry,” Jace said, snapping her out of her reverie. His hair was wet, plastered to the sharp curves of his cheekbones and temples. “I shouldn’t have said that about Simon. ” Clary put her hands into the water. Small ripples spread from the movement of her fingers. “You have to know I wouldn’t wish for a different life,” she said. “This life brought me you. ” She cupped her hands, bringing the water to her mouth. It was cold and sweet, reviving her flagging energy. He gave her one of his real smiles, not just a quirk of the mouth. “Hopefully not just me. ” Clary searched for words. “This life is real,” she said. “The other life was a lie. A dream. It’s just that . . . ” “You haven’t really been drawing,” he said. “Not since you started training. Not seriously. ” “No,” she said quietly, because it was true. “I wonder sometimes,” he said. “My father—Valentine, I mean—loved music. He taught me to play. Bach, Chopin, Ravel. And I remember once asking why the composers were all mundanes. There were no Shadowhunters who had written music. And he said that in their souls, mundanes have a creative spark, but our souls hold a warrior spark, and both sparks can’t exist in the same place, any more than a flame can divide itself. ” “So you think the Shadowhunter in me . . . is driving out the artist in me?” Clary said. “But my mother painted—I mean, paints. ” She bit back the pain of having thought of Jocelyn in the past tense, even briefly. “Valentine said that was what Heaven had given to mundanes, artistry and the gift of creation,” said Jace. “That was what made them worth protecting. I don’t know if there was any truth to any of that,” he added. “But if people have a spark in them, then yours burns the brightest I know. You can fight and draw. And you will. ” Impulsively Clary leaned in to kiss him. His lips were cool. He tasted like sweet water and like Jace, and she would have leaned farther into the kiss, but a sharp zap, like static electricity, passed between them; she sat back, her lips stinging. “Ouch,” she said ruefully. Jace looked wretched. She reached out to touch his damp hair. “Earlier, with the gate. I saw your hands spark. The heavenly fire—” “I don’t have it under control here, not like I did at home,” Jace said. “There’s something about this world. It feels like it’s pushing the fire closer to the surface. ” He looked down at his hands, from which the glow was fading. “I think we both need to be careful. This place is going to affect us more than it does the others. Higher concentration of angel blood. ” “So we’ll be careful. You can control it. Remember the exercises Jordan did with you—” “Jordan’s dead. ” His voice was tight as he stood up, brushing sand from his clothes. He held out a hand to help her up from the ground. “Come on,” he said. “Let’s get back to Alec before he decides Isabelle and Simon are having sex off in the caves and starts freaking out. ” “You know everyone thinks we’re off having sex,” said Simon. “They’re probably freaking out. ” “Hmph,” Isabelle said. The glow of her witchlight bounced off the runed walls of the cave. “As if we’d have sex in a cave surrounded by hordes of demons. This is reality, Simon, not your fevered imagination. ” “There was a time in my life when the idea that I might have sex one day seemed more likely than being surrounded by hordes of demons, I’ll have you know,” he said, maneuvering around a pile of tumbled rocks. The whole place reminded him of a trip to the Luray Caverns in Virginia that he’d taken with his mother and Rebecca in middle school. He could see the glitter of mica in the rocks with his vampire sight; he didn’t need Isabelle’s witchlight to guide him, but he imagined she did, so said nothing about it. Isabelle muttered something; he wasn’t sure what, but he had a feeling it wasn’t complimentary. “Izzy,” he said. “Is there a reason you’re so angry with me?” Her next words came out on a sighing rush that sounded like “youerensupposedbhere. ” Even with his amplified hearing, he could make no sense of it. “What?” She swung around on him. “You weren’t supposed to be here!” she said, her voice bouncing off the tunnel walls. “When we left you in New York, it was so you would be safe—” “I don’t want to be safe,” he said. “I want to be with you. ” “You want to be with Clary. ” Simon paused. They were facing each other across the tunnel, both of them still now, Isabelle’s hands in fists. “Is that what this is about? Clary?” She was silent. “I don’t love Clary that way,” he said. “She was my first love, my first crush. But what I feel about you is totally different—” He held up a hand as she started to shake her head. “Hear me out, Isabelle,” he said. “If you’re asking me to choose between you and my best friend, then yes, I won’t choose. Because no one who loved me would force to me make such a pointless choice; it would be like I asked you to choose between me and Alec. Does it bother me seeing Jace and Clary together? No, not at all. In their own incredibly weird way they’re great for each other. They belong together. I don’t belong with Clary, not like that. I belong with you. ” “Do you mean that?” She was flushed, color high up in her cheeks. He nodded. “Come here,” she said, and he let her pull him toward her, until he was flush up against her, the rigidity of the cave wall behind them forcing her to curve her body against his. He felt her hand slide up under the back of his T-shirt, her warm fingers bumping gently over the knobs of his spine. Her breath stirred his hair, and his body stirred too, just from being this close to her. “Isabelle, I love—” She slapped his arm, but it wasn’t an angry slap. “Not now. ” He nuzzled down into her neck, into the sweet smell of her skin and blood. “Then when?” She suddenly jerked back, leaving him feeling the unpleasant sensation of having had a bandage ripped away with no ceremony. “Did you hear that?” He was about to shake his head, when he did hear it—what sounded like a rustle and a cry, coming from the part of the tunnel they hadn’t explored yet. Isabelle took off at a run, her witchlight bouncing wildly off the walls, and Simon, cursing the fact that Shadowhunters were Shadowhunters above all else, followed her. The tunnel had only one more curve before it ended in the remains of a shattered metal gate. Beyond what was left of the gate, a plateau of stone that sloped down to a blasted landscape. The plateau was rough, shingled with rock and heaps of weathered stone. Where it met the sand below, the desert started up again, dotted here and there with black, twisted trees. Some of the clouds had cleared, and Isabelle, looking up, made a little gasping noise. “Look at the moon,” she said. Simon looked—and started. It wasn’t so much a moon as moons, as if the moon itself had been cracked apart into three pieces. They floated, jagged-edged, like shark’s teeth scattered in the sky. Each gave off a dull glow, and in the broken moonlight Simon’s vampire vision picked out the circling movements of creatures. Some seemed like the flying thing that had seized Jace earlier; others had a distinctly more insectile look. All were hideous. He swallowed. “What can you see?” Isabelle asked, knowing that even a Farsighted rune wouldn’t give her better vision than Simon’s, especially here, where runes faded so quickly. “There are demons out there. A lot. Mostly airborne. ” Isabelle’s tone was grim. “So they can come out during the day, but they’re more active at night. ” “Yeah. ” Simon strained his eyes. “There’s more. There’s a stone plateau that goes for a distance, and then it drops off and there’s something behind it, something shimmering. ” “A lake, maybe?” “Maybe,” Simon said. “It almost looks like—” “Like what?” “Like a city,” he said reluctantly. “Like a demon city. ” “Oh. ” He saw the implications hit Isabelle, and for a moment she paled; then, being Izzy, she straightened up and nodded, turning away, away from the wrecked and shattered ruins of a world. “We’d better get back and tell the others. ”

Stars carved out of granite hung from the ceiling on silver chains. Jocelyn lay on the stone pallet that served as a bed and stared up at them. She’d already shouted herself hoarse, clawed at the door—thick, made out of oak with steel hinges and bolts—until her hands were bloody, searched her things for a stele, and slammed her fist against the wall so hard she had bruises down her forearm. Nothing had happened. She’d hardly expected it. If Sebastian was anything like his father—and Jocelyn expected that he was a great deal like his father—then he was nothing if not thorough. Thorough, and creative. She’d found the pieces of her stele in a heap in one of the corners, shattered and unusable. She still wore the same clothes she’d been wearing at Meliorn’s parody of a dinner party, but her shoes had been taken. Her hair had been shorn to just below her shoulders, the ends ragged, as if it had been cut with a blunt razor. Small, colorful cruelties that spoke of an awful, patient nature. Like Valentine, Sebastian could wait to get what he wanted, but he would make the waiting hurt. The door rattled and opened. Jocelyn leaped to her feet, but Sebastian was already in the room, the door shut securely behind him with the snick of a lock. He grinned at her. “Finally awake, Mother?” “I’ve been awake,” she said. She placed one foot carefully behind the other, giving herself balance and leverage. He snorted. “Don’t bother,” he said. “I’ve no intention of attacking you. ” She said nothing, just watched him as he paced closer. The light that flooded through the narrow windows was bright enough to reflect off his pale white hair, to illuminate the planes of his face. She could see little of herself there. He was all Valentine. Valentine’s face, his black eyes, the gestures of a dancer or an assassin. Only his frame, tall and slender, was hers. “Your werewolf is safe,” he said. “For now. ” Jocelyn resolutely ignored the quick skip of her heart. Show nothing on your face. Emotion was weakness—that had been Valentine’s lesson. “And Clary,” he said. “Clary is also safe. If you care, of course. ” He paced around her, a slow, considering circle. “I never could be quite sure. After all, a mother heartless enough to abandon one of her children—” “You weren’t my child,” she blurted, and then closed her mouth sharply. Don’t give in to him, she thought. Don’t show weakness. Don’t give him what he wants. “And yet you kept the box,” he said. “You know what box I mean. I left it in the kitchen at Amatis’s for you; a little gift, something to remind you of me. How did you feel when you found it?” He smiled, and there was nothing in his smile of Valentine, either. Valentine had been human; he had been a human monster. Sebastian was something else again. “I know you took it out every year and wept over it,” he said. “Why did you do that?” She said nothing, and he reached over his shoulder to tap the hilt of the Morgenstern blade, strapped to his back. “I suggest you answer me,” he said. “I would have no compunction about cutting off your fingers, one by one, and using them to fringe a very small rug. ” She swallowed. “I cried over the box because my child was stolen from me. ” “A child you never cared about. ” “That isn’t true,” she said. “Before you were born, I loved you, the idea of you. I loved you when I felt your heartbeat inside me. Then you were born and you were—” “A monster?” “Your soul was dead,” she said. “I could see it in your eyes when I looked at you. ” She crossed her arms over her chest, repressing the impulse to shiver. “Why am I here?” His eyes glittered. “You tell me, since you know me so well, Mother. ” “Meliorn drugged us,” she said. “I would guess from his actions that the Fair Folk are your allies. That they have been for some time. That they believe you will win the Shadowhunter war, and they wish to be on the winning side; besides, they have resented Nephilim for longer and more strongly than any other Downworlders. They have helped you attack the Institutes; they have swelled your ranks while you have recruited new Shadowhunters with the Infernal Cup. In the end, when you have grown powerful enough, you will betray and destroy them, for you despise them at heart. ” There was a long pause, while she looked at him levelly. “Am I right?” She saw the pulse jump in his throat as he exhaled, and knew she had been. “When did you guess all that?” he said through his teeth. “I didn’t guess. I know you. I knew your father, and you are like him, in your nurture if not your nature. ” He was still staring at her, his eyes fathomless and black. “If you hadn’t thought I was dead,” he said, “if you’d known I lived, would you have looked for me? Would you have kept me?” “I would have,” she said. “I would have tried to raise you, to teach you the right things, to change you. I do blame myself for what you are. I always have. ” “You would have raised me?” He blinked, almost sleepily. “You would have raised me, hating me as you did?” She nodded. “Do you think I would have been different, then? More like her?” It took her a moment before she realized. “Clary,” she said. “You mean Clary. ” The name of her daughter hurt to say; she missed Clary fiercely, and at the same time was terrified for her. Sebastian loved her, she thought; if he loved anyone, he loved his sister, and if there was anyone who knew how deadly it was to be loved by someone like Sebastian, it was Jocelyn. “We’ll never know,” she said finally. “Valentine took that away from us. ” “You should have loved me,” he said, and now he sounded petulant. “I’m your son. You should love me now, no matter what I’m like, whether I’m like her or not—” “Really?” Jocelyn cut him off midbreath. “Do you love me? Just because I’m your mother?” “You’re not my mother,” he said, with a curl of his lip. “Come. Watch this. Let me show you what my real mother has given me the power to do. ” He took a stele from his belt. It sent a jolt through Jocelyn—she forgot, sometimes, that he was a Shadowhunter and could use the tools of a Shadowhunter. With the stele he drew on the stone wall of the room. Runes, a design she recognized. Something all Shadowhunters knew how to do. The stone began to turn transparent, and Jocelyn braced herself to see what was beyond the walls. Instead she saw the Consul’s room at the Gard in Alicante. Jia sat behind her enormous desk covered in stacks of files. She looked exhausted, her black hair liberally sprinkled with strands of white. She had a file open on the desk before her. Jocelyn could see grainy photographs of a beach: sand, blue-gray sky. “Jia Penhallow,” Sebastian said. Jia’s head jerked up. She rose to her feet, the file sliding to the floor in a mess of paper. “Who is it? Who’s there?” “You don’t recognize me?” Sebastian said, a smirk in his voice. Jia stared desperately ahead of her. It was obvious that whatever she was looking at, the image wasn’t clear. “Sebastian,” she breathed. “But it hasn’t been two days yet. ” Jocelyn pushed past him. “Jia,” she said. “Jia, don’t listen to anything he says. He’s a liar—” “It’s too soon,” Jia said, as if Jocelyn hadn’t spoken, and Jocelyn realized, to her horror, that Jia couldn’t see or hear her. It was as if she weren’t there. “I may not have an answer for you, Sebastian. ” “Oh, I think you do,” Sebastian said. “Don’t you?” Jia straightened her shoulders. “If you insist,” she said icily. “The Clave has discussed your request. We will not deliver to you either Jace Lightwood or Clarissa Fairchild—” “Clarissa Morgenstern,” Sebastian said, a muscle in his cheek twitching. “She is my sister. ” “I call her by the name she prefers, as I call you,” said Jia. “We will not make a bargain in our blood with you. Not because we think it is more valuable than Downworlder blood. Not because we do not want our prisoners back. But because we cannot condone your tactics of fear. ” “As if I sought your approval,” Sebastian sneered. “You do understand what this means? I could send you Luke Garroway’s head on a stick. ” Jocelyn felt as if someone had punched her in the stomach. “You could,” Jia said. “But if you harm any of the prisoners, it will be war to the death. And we believe you have as much to fear from a war with us as we do from a war with you. ” “You believe incorrectly,” Sebastian said. “And I think, if you look, you will discover that it hardly matters that you’ve decided not to deliver Jace and Clary to me, all neatly wrapped up like an early Christmas present. ” “What do you mean?” Jia’s voice sharpened. “Oh, it would have been convenient if you had decided to deliver them,” said Sebastian. “Less trouble for me. Less trouble for all of us. But it’s too late now, you see—they’re already gone. ” He twirled his stele, and the window he had opened to the world of Alicante closed on Jia’s astonished face. The wall was a smooth blank canvas of stone once again. “Well,” he said, slipping the stele into his weapons belt. “That was amusing, don’t you think?” Jocelyn swallowed against a dry throat. “If Jace and Clary aren’t in Alicante, where are they? Where are they, Sebastian?” He stared at her for a moment, and then laughed: a laugh as pure and cold as ice water. He was still laughing when he went to the door and walked out of it, letting it lock shut behind him.

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