City of Heavenly Fire – Chapter 18: BY THE WATERS OF BABYLON

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Energy runes were all well and good, Clary thought exhaustedly as she reached the top of yet another rise of sand, but they didn’t begin to compete with a cup of coffee. She was pretty sure she could face another day of trudging, her feet sometimes slipping ankle-deep into heaps of ash, if she just had sweet caffeine pumping through her veins. . . . “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Simon said, coming up beside her. He looked drawn and tired, his thumbs hooked through the straps of his backpack. They all looked pretty drawn. Alec and Isabelle had taken watch after the incident with the heavenly fire, and had reported no demons or Dark Shadowhunters in the vicinity of their hideaway. Still, they were all jittery, and none of them had had more than a few hours of sleep. Jace seemed to be running on nerves and adrenaline, following the thread of the tracking spell on the bracelet around his wrist, sometimes forgetting to pause and wait for the others in his mad dash toward Sebastian, until they shouted or ran to catch up with him. “That a massive latte from the Mud Truck would make everything brighter just about now?” “There’s a vamp place not far from Union Square where they mix just the right amount of blood into the coffee,” Simon said. “Not too sweet, not too salty. ” Clary stopped; a dead branch, curling from the earth, had tangled itself in her bootlaces. “Remember when we talked about not sharing?” “Isabelle listens to me talk about vampire things. ” Clary drew out Heosphoros. The sword, with the new rune carved black into the blade, seemed to shimmer in her hand. She used the tip of it to pry the tough, thorny branch free. “Isabelle is your girlfriend,” she said. “She has to listen to you. ” “Is she?” Simon looked startled. Clary threw her hands up and started down the hill. The ground slanted down, pocked here and there with cracked pits, everything covered over with the endless dull sheen of dust. The air was still bitter, the sky a sallow green. She could see Alec and Isabelle standing near Jace at the foot of the hill; he was touching the bracelet on his wrist and frowning into the distance. Something glimmered at the corner of Clary’s vision, and she stopped suddenly. She squinted, trying to see what it was. The shine of something silvery in the distance, past the stone and rubble heaps of the desert. She took out her stele and drew a quick Farsighted rune onto her arm, the burn and sting of the stele’s dull tip cutting through the fog of exhaustion in her mind, sharpening her vision. “Simon!” she said as he caught up with her. “Do you see that?” He followed her gaze. “I caught a glimpse of it last night. Remember when Isabelle said I thought I’d seen a city?” “Clary!” It was Jace, looking up at them, his face a pale hollow in the ashy air. She made a beckoning gesture. “What’s going on?” She pointed again, toward what she could now see as a definite shimmer, a cluster of shapes, in the distance. “There’s something there,” she called down. “Simon thinks it’s a city—” She broke off, because Jace had already started running in the direction she’d pointed. Isabelle and Alec looked startled before bolting after him; Clary exhaled an exasperated breath and, with Simon at her side, followed. They started down the slope, which was covered in loose scree, half-running and half-sliding, letting the unmoored pebbles carry them. Not for the first time, Clary truly appreciated her gear: She could only imagine how the flying bits of gravel would have torn normal shoes and pants to shreds. She hit the bottom of the slope at a run. Jace was some distance ahead, with Alec and Isabelle just behind him, moving fast, clambering over rock cairns, hopping small rivulets of molten slag. As Clary closed in on the three of them, she saw that they were heading toward a place where the desert seemed to drop away—the edge of a plateau? A cliff? Clary sped up, scrambling over the last of the rock heaps and nearly rolling down the final one. She landed on her feet—Simon, far more graceful, just ahead of her—and saw that Jace was standing at the edge of a massive cliff that fell away before him like the edge of the Grand Canyon. Alec and Isabelle had moved to either side of him. All three were eerily silent, staring ahead in the dim bruised light. Something in Jace’s posture, the way he stood, told Clary even as she reached his side that there was something not right. Then she caught sight of his expression and mentally amended “not right” to “very wrong indeed. ” He was staring down into the valley below as if he were staring into the grave of someone he had loved. In the valley were the ruins of a city. An old, old city that had once been built around a hillside. The top of the hillside was surrounded by gray clouds and fog. Heaps of rock were all that was left of the houses, and ash had settled over the streets and the jagged ruins of buildings. Tumbled among the ruins, like discarded matchsticks, were broken pillars made of shining pale stone, incongruously beautiful in this ruined land. “Demon towers,” she whispered. Jace nodded grimly. “I don’t know how,” he said, “but somehow—this is Alicante. ” “It is a dreadful burden, to have such responsibility visited upon those so young,” said Zachariah as the door of the Council Hall closed behind Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn. Aline and Helen had gone with them, to escort them back to the house where they were staying. Both children had been nearly swaying on their feet with exhaustion by the end of their interrogation by the Council, heavy dark shadows under their eyes. There were only a few of the Council members still left in the room: Jia and Patrick, Maryse and Robert Lightwood, Kadir Safar, Diana Wrayburn, Tomas Rosales, and a scattering of Silent Brothers and heads of Institutes. Most were chattering among themselves, but Zachariah stood by Jia’s lectern, looking at her with a deep sorrow in his eyes. “They have endured much loss,” said Jia. “But we are Shadowhunters; many of us endure great loss at a young age. ” “They have Helen, and their uncle,” said Patrick, standing not far away with Robert and Maryse, both of whom looked tense and drawn. “They will be well taken care of, and Emma Carstairs, as well, clearly considers the Blackthorns as family. ” “Often those who raise us, who are our guardians, are not our blood,” said Zachariah. Jia thought she had seen a special softness in his eyes when they rested on Emma, almost a regret. But perhaps she had imagined it. “Those who love us and who we love. So it was with me. As long as she is not parted from the Blackthorns, or the boy—Julian—that is the most important thing. ” Jia distantly heard her husband reassuring the former Silent Brother, but her mind was on Helen. Down in the depths of her heart, Jia worried sometimes for her daughter, who had given her heart so completely to a girl who was part-faerie, a race known for their untrustworthiness. She knew that Patrick was not happy that Aline had chosen a girl at all rather than a boy, that he mourned—selfishly, she thought—for what he saw as the end of his branch of the Penhallows. She herself worried more that Helen Blackthorn would break her daughter’s heart. “How much credence do you give the claim of faerie betrayal?” asked Kadir. “Entire credence,” said Jia. “It explains a great deal. How the faeries were able to enter Alicante and abscond with the prisoners from the house given to the representative of the Fair Folk; how Sebastian was able to conceal troops from us at the Citadel; why he spared Mark Blackthorn—not out of fear of angering the faeries but out of respect for their alliance. Tomorrow I will confront the Faerie Queen and—” “With all due respect,” said Zachariah in his soft voice. “I don’t think you should do that. ” “Why not?” Patrick demanded. Because you have information now that the Faerie Queen does not know you have, said Brother Enoch. It is rare that that happens. In war there are advantages of power, but also advantages of knowledge. Do not squander this one. Jia hesitated. “Things may be worse than you know,” she said, and drew something from the pocket of her coat. It was a fire-message, addressed to her from the Spiral Labyrinth. She handed it to Zachariah. He seemed to freeze in place. For a moment he simply looked at it; then he brushed a finger over the paper, and she realized he was not reading it but rather tracing the signature of the writer of the letter, a signature that had clearly struck him like an arrow to the heart. Theresa Gray. “Tessa says,” he said finally, and then cleared his throat, for his voice had emerged ragged and uneven. “She says that the warlocks of the Spiral Labyrinth have examined the body of Amalric Kriegsmesser. That his heart was shriveled, his organs desiccated. She says they are sorry, but there is absolutely nothing that can be done to cure the Endarkened. Necromancy might make their bodies move again, but their souls are gone forever. ” “Only the power of the Infernal Cup keeps them alive,” said Jia, her voice throbbing with sorrow. “They are dead inside. ” “If the Infernal Cup itself could be destroyed . . . ,” Diana mused. “Then it might kill them all, yes,” said Jia. “But we do not have the Infernal Cup. Sebastian does. ” “To kill them all in one sweep, it seems wrong,” said Tomas, looking horrified. “They are Shadowhunters. ” “They are not,” said Zachariah, in a voice much less gentle than Jia had come to associate with him. She looked at him in surprise. “Sebastian counts on us thinking of them as Shadowhunters. He counts upon our hesitation, our inability to kill monsters that wear human faces. ” “On our mercy,” said Kadir. “If I were Turned, I would want to be put out of my misery,” said Zachariah. “That is mercy. That is what Edward Longford gave his parabatai, before he turned his sword on himself. That is why I paid my respects to him. ” He touched the faded rune at his throat. “Then do we ask the Spiral Labyrinth to give up?” asked Diana. “To cease searching for a cure?” “They have already given up. Did you not listen to what Tessa wrote?” said Zachariah. “A cure cannot always be found. At least, not in time. I know—that is, I have learned—that one cannot rely upon it. It cannot be our only hope. We must mourn the Endarkened as dead, and trust in what we are: Shadowhunters, warriors. We must do what we were made to do. Fight. ” “But how do we defend ourselves against Sebastian? It was bad enough when it was just the Endarkened; now we must fight the Fair Folk as well!” Tomas snapped. “And you’re just a boy—” “I am a hundred and forty-six years old,” said Zachariah. “And this is not my first unwinnable war. I believe we can turn the betrayal of the faeries into an advantage. We will require the help of the Spiral Labyrinth to do it, but if you will listen to me, I will tell you how. ” Clary, Simon, Jace, Alec, and Isabelle picked their way in silence through the eerie ruins of Alicante. For Jace had been right: It was Alicante, unmistakably so. They had passed too much that was familiar for it to be anything else. The walls around the city, now crumbled; the gates, corroded with the scars of acid rain. Cistern Square. The empty canals, filled with spongy black moss. The hill was blasted, a bare heap of rock. The marks where there had once been pathways were clearly visible like scars along the side. Clary knew that the Gard should be at the top of it, but if it still stood, it was invisible, hidden in gray fog. At last they clambered over a high mound of rubble and found themselves in Angel Square. Clary took a breath of surprise—though most of the buildings that had ringed it had fallen, the square was surprisingly unharmed, cobblestones stretching away in the yellowish light. The Hall of Accords was still standing. It wasn’t white stone, though. In the human dimension, it looked like a Greek temple, but in this world it was lacquered metal. A tall square building, if something that looked like molten gold that had been poured out of the sky could be described as a building. Massive engravings ran around the structure, like ribbon wrapping a box; the whole thing glowed dully in the orange light. “The Accords Hall. ” Isabelle stood with her whip coiled around her wrist, looking up at it. “Unbelievable. ” They started up the steps, which were gold streaked with the black of ash and corrosion. At the top of the stairs, they paused to stare at the huge double doors. They were covered with squares of hammered metal. Each one was an engraved panel showing an image. “It’s a story,” Jace said, stepping closer and touching the engravings with a black-gloved finger. Writing in an unfamiliar language scrolled along the bottom of each illustration. He glanced over at Alec. “Can you read it?” “Am I the only person who paid attention in language lessons?” Alec demanded wearily, but he stepped up to look more closely at the scrawl. “Well, first, the panels,” he said. “They’re a history. ” He pointed at the first one, which showed a group of people, barefoot and in robes, cowering as the clouds above them opened up and a clawed hand reached down toward them. “Humans lived here, or something like humans,” Alec said, pointing at the figures. “They lived in peace, and then demons came. And then—” He broke off, his hand on a panel whose image was as familiar to Clary as the back of her own hand. The Angel Raziel, rising out of Lake Lyn, the Mortal Instruments in hand. “By the Angel. ” “Literally,” said Isabelle. “How—Is that our Angel? Our lake?” “I don’t know. This says the demons came, and the Shadowhunters were created to battle them,” Alec went on, moving along the wall as the panels progressed. He jabbed his finger at the scrawl. “This word, here, it means ‘Nephilim. ’ But the Shadowhunters rejected the help of Downworlders. The warlocks and the Fair Folk joined with their infernal parents. They sided with the demons. The Nephilim were defeated, and slaughtered. In their last days they created a weapon that was meant to hold the demons off. ” He indicated a panel showing a woman holding up a sort of iron rod with a burning stone set into the end of it. “They didn’t have seraph blades; they hadn’t developed them. It doesn’t look like they had Iron Sisters or Silent Brothers, either. They had blacksmiths, and they developed some sort of weapon, something they thought might help them. The word here is ‘skeptron,’ but it doesn’t mean anything to me. Anyway, the skeptron wasn’t enough. ” He moved to the next panel, which showed destruction: the Nephilim lying dead, the woman with the iron rod crumpled on the ground, the rod itself cast aside. “The demons—they’re called asmodei here—burned away the sun and filled the sky with ash and clouds. They ripped fire from the earth and razed the cities to the ground. They killed everything that moved and breathed air. They drained the seas until everything in the water was dead too. ” “Asmodei,” echoed Clary. “I’ve heard that before. It was something Lilith said, about Sebastian. Before he was born. ‘The child born with this blood in him will exceed in power the Greater Demons of the abysses between the worlds. He will be more mighty than the asmodei. ’” “Asmodeus is one of the Greater Demons of the abysses between worlds,” said Jace, meeting Clary’s gaze. She knew he remembered Lilith’s speech as well as she did. He had shared the same vision, shown to them by the angel Ithuriel. “Like Abbadon?” Simon inquired. “He was a Greater Demon. ” “Far more powerful than that. Asmodeus is a Prince of Hell—there are nine of them. The Fati. Shadowhunters cannot hope to defeat them. They can destroy angels in combat. They can remake worlds,” said Jace. “The asmodei are Asmodeus’s children. Powerful demons. They drained this world dry and then left it for other, weaker demons to scavenge. ” Alec sounded sick. “This isn’t the Accords Hall anymore. It’s a tomb. A tomb for the life of this world. ” “But is this our world?” Isabelle’s voice rose. “Did we go forward in time? If the Queen tricked us—” “She didn’t. At least, not about where we are,” said Jace. “We didn’t go forward in time; we went sideways. This is a mirror dimension of our world. A place where history went slightly differently. ” He hooked his thumbs into his belt and glanced around. “A world with no Shadowhunters. ” “It’s like Planet of the Apes,” said Simon. “Except that was the future. ” “Yeah, well, this could be our future, if Sebastian gets what he wants,” Jace said. He tapped the panel of the woman holding up the burning skeptron, and frowned, then pushed hard on the door. It swung open with a shriek of hinges that cut the air like a knife. Clary winced. Jace drew his sword and peered cautiously through the gap in the door. There was a room beyond, filled with a grayish light. He shouldered the door open farther and slipped through the gap, gesturing for the others to wait. Isabelle, Alec, Clary, and Simon exchanged glances, and without a word spoken, went after him immediately. Alec went first, bow drawn; then Isabelle with her whip, Clary with her sword, and Simon, eyes gleaming like a cat’s in the dimness. The inside of the Accords Hall was both familiar and unfamiliar. The floor was marble, cracked and broken. In many places great black blots spread across the stone, the remnants of ancient bloodstains. The roof above, which in their Alicante was glass, was long gone, only shards remaining, like clear knives against the sky. The room itself was empty, save for a statue in the center. The place was filled with sickly yellow-gray light. Jace, standing facing the statue, whirled as they approached. “I told you to wait,” he snapped at Alec. “Don’t you ever do anything I tell you to?” “Technically you didn’t actually say anything,” Clary said. “You just gestured. ” “Gesturing counts,” Jace said. “I gesture very expressively. ” “You’re not in charge,” Alec said, lowering his bow. Some of the tension had gone out of his posture. There were clearly no demons hiding in the shadows: Nothing blocked their view of the corroded walls, and nothing but the statue remained standing in the room. “You don’t need to protect us. ” Isabelle rolled her eyes at both of them and stepped closer to the statue, craning her head back. It was the statue of a man in armor; his feet, in mail boots, rested on a golden plinth. He wore an intricate hauberk of linked stone circlets, decorated with a motif of angel wings across the chest. In his hand he carried an iron replica of a skeptron, tipped by a circular metal ornament, into which a red jewel had been set. Whoever had carved the statue had been skilled. The face was handsome, square-jawed, with a distant, clear gaze. But they had captured more than good looks: There was a certain harshness to the set of his eyes and jaw, a twist to his mouth that spoke of selfishness and cruelty. There were words written on the plinth, and though they were not in English, Clary could read them. JONATHAN SHADOWHUNTER. FIRST AND LAST OF THE NEPHILIM. “First and last,” Isabelle whispered. “This place is a tomb. ” Alec crouched down. There were more words on the plinth, under Jonathan Shadowhunter’s name. He read them out: “‘And he who overcomes, and he who keeps my deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, and I will give him the Morning Star. ’” “What’s that supposed to mean?” Simon asked. “I think Jonathan Shadowhunter got cocky,” said Alec. “I think he thought this skeptron thing would not just save them, but it would let him rule over the world. ” “?‘And I will give him the Morning Star,’?” said Clary. “That’s from the Bible. Our Bible. And ‘Morgenstern’ means ‘morning star. ’?” “?‘The morning star’ means a lot of things,” said Alec. “It can mean ‘the brightest star in the sky,’ or it can mean ‘heavenly fire,’ or it can mean ‘the fire that falls with angels when they’re cast down out of Heaven. ’ It’s also the name of Lucifer, the light-bringer, the demon of pride. ” He straightened up. “Either way, it means that thing the statue is holding is a real weapon,” said Jace. “Like in the door engravings. You said the skeptron is what they developed here, instead of seraph blades, to hold off the demons. Look at the marks on the handle. It’s been in battle. ” Isabelle tapped the pendant around her throat. “And the red stone. It looks like it’s made from the same stuff as my necklace. ” Jace nodded. “I think it is the same stone. ” Clary knew what he was going to say next before he said it. “That weapon. I want it. ” “Well, you can’t have it,” Alec said. “It’s attached to the statue. ” “It’s not. ” Jace pointed. “Look, the statue’s gripping it, but they’re actually two totally separate pieces. They carved the statue and then they put the scepter into its hands. It’s supposed to be removable. ”
“I’m not sure that’s exactly true—” Clary began, but Jace was already putting a foot up onto the plinth, preparing to climb. He had the glint in his eye she both loved and dreaded, the one that said, I do what I want, and damn the consequences. “Wait!” Simon darted to block Jace from climbing farther. “I’m sorry, but does anyone else see what’s going on here?” “Nooo,” Jace drawled. “Why don’t you tell us all about it? I mean, we’ve got nothing but time. ” Simon crossed his arms over his chest. “I’ve been in a lot of campaigns—” “Campaigns?” Isabelle echoed, bewildered. “He means Dungeons and Dragons games,” Clary explained. “Games?” Alec echoed in disbelief. “In case you haven’t noticed, this is no game. ” “That’s not the point,” Simon said. “The point is that when you’re playing D&D and your group comes across a heap of treasure, or a big sparkly gem, or a magical golden skull, you should never take it. It’s always a trap. ” He uncrossed his arms and waved them wildly. “This is a trap. ” Jace was silent. He was looking at Simon thoughtfully, as if he’d never seen him before, or at least never considered him so closely. “Come here,” he said. Simon moved toward him, his eyebrows raised. “What—oof!” Jace had dropped his sword into Simon’s hands. “Hold this for me while I climb,” Jace said, and leaped up onto the plinth. Simon’s protests were drowned out by the sound of Jace’s boots knocking against the stone as he scrambled up the statue, pulling himself up hand over hand. He reached the middle of the statue, where the carved hauberk offered footholds, and braced himself, reaching across the stone to close his hand around the handle of the skeptron. It might have been an illusion, but Clary thought she saw the statue’s smiling mouth twist into an even crueler grimace. The red stone flared up suddenly; Jace jerked back, but the room was already full of an earsplitting noise, the terrible combination of a fire alarm and a human scream, going on and on and on. “Jace!” Clary raced to the statue; he had already dropped from it to the ground, wincing at the awful noise. The light of the red stone was increasing, filling the room with a bloody illumination. “Goddamn it,” Jace shouted over the noise. “I hate it when Simon is right. ” With a glare Simon shoved Jace’s sword back at him; Jace took it, his gaze darting around warily. Alec had raised his bow again; Isabelle stood ready with her whip. Clary drew a dagger from her belt. “We’d better get out of here,” Alec called. “It could be nothing, but—” Isabelle cried out, and clapped her hand to her chest. Her pendant had begun to flash, slow steady bright pulses like a heartbeat. “Demons!” she cried, just as the sky filled with flying things. And they were things—they had heavy round bodies, like huge pale grubs, pocked with rows of suckers. They had no faces: Both ends of them terminated in massive pink circular mouths rimmed with sharks’ teeth. Rows of stubby wings lined their bodies, each wing tipped with a dagger-sharp talon. And there were a lot of them. Even Jace paled. “By the Angel—run!” They ran, but the creatures, despite their girth, were faster: They were landing all around them, with ugly wet sounds. Clary thought wildly that they sounded like giant spitballs falling from the sky. The light pouring from the skeptron had vanished the moment they’d appeared, and the room was now bathed in the ugly yellowish glow of the sky. “Clary!” Jace shouted as one of the creatures heaved itself toward her, its circular mouth open. Ropes of yellow drool hung from it. Thump. An arrow embedded itself in the roof of the demon’s mouth. The creature reared back, spitting black blood. Clary saw Alec seize another arrow, fit it, let it fly. Another demon reeled back, and then Isabelle was on it, her whip slashing back and forth, slicing it to ribbons. Simon had seized another demon and was holding it, his hands sinking into its fleshy gray body, and Jace plunged his sword into it. The demon collapsed, knocking Simon back to the floor: he landed on his backpack. Clary thought she heard a sound like breaking glass, but a moment later Simon was back up on his feet, Jace steadying him with a hand to the shoulder before they both turned back to the fight. Ice had descended over Clary: the silent coldness of battle. The demon Alec had shot was writhing, trying to spit out the arrow lodged in its mouth; she stepped over to it and plunged her dagger into its body, black blood spraying up from the wounds, soaking her gear. The room was full of the rotten-garbage stench of demons, laced through with the acid of ichor; she gagged as the demon gave a last spasm and collapsed. Alec was backing up, steadily letting arrow after arrow fly, sending the demons reeling back, wounded. As they struggled, Jace and Isabelle fell on them, slashing them to pieces with sword and whip. Clary followed their lead, leaping on another wounded demon, sawing away at the soft band of flesh under its mouth, her hand, coated in oily demon blood, slipping on the hilt of her dagger. The demon collapsed in on itself with a hiss, sending her crashing to the ground. The blade skittered out of her hand, and she threw herself after it, seized it up, and rolled to the side just as another demon lunged with an uncoiling of its powerful body. It hit the space where she’d just been lying, and curled itself around, hissing, so that Clary found herself facing two open, gaping mouths. She readied her blade to let it fly, when there was a flash of silver-gold and Isabelle’s whip came down, slicing the thing in half. It fell apart in two pieces, a jumbled mess of steaming internal organs pouring out. Even through the ice of battle, Clary was nearly sick. Demons usually died and vanished before you saw much of their insides. This one was still writhing, even in two pieces, twitching forward and back. Isabelle grimaced and raised her whip again—and the twitch turned into a sudden, violent jerk as half the monster twisted backward and sank its teeth into Isabelle’s leg. Izzy screamed, slashing down with the whip, and it released her; she fell back, her leg going out from under her. Clary leaped forward, stabbing at the other half of the demon, plunging her dagger into the creature’s back until it crumbled apart under her and she found herself kneeling in a welter of demon blood, drenched blade in her hand, gasping. There was silence. The ringing alarm had stopped, and the demons were gone. They had all been slaughtered, but there was no joy of victory. Isabelle was on the ground, her whip curled around her wrist, blood pouring from a crescent-shaped slash in her left leg. She was gasping, her eyelids fluttering. “Izzy!” Alec dropped his bow and launched himself across the bloody floor at his sister. He fell to his knees, hauling her up into his lap. He yanked the stele from her belt. “Iz, Izzy, hold on—” Jace, who had gathered up Alec’s fallen bow, looked like he was going to throw up or fall; Clary saw with dull surprise that Simon had his hand on Jace’s arm, his fingers digging in, as if he were holding Jace up. Alec tore at the slashed fabric of Isabelle’s gear, ripping her trouser leg open to the knee. Clary stifled a cry. Isabelle’s leg was ribboned: it looked like pictures of shark bites Clary had seen, blood and pulped tissue surrounding deep indents. Alec put his stele to the skin of her knee and drew an iratze, and then another an inch farther down. His shoulders were shaking, but his hand was steady. Clary wrapped her hand around Jace’s and squeezed. His was ice-cold. “Izzy,” Alec whispered as the iratzes faded and sank into her skin, leaving white remnants behind. Clary remembered Hodge, how they had drawn healing rune after healing rune on him, but his wounds had been too great: the runes had faded, and he had bled out and died despite the runes’ power. Alec looked up. The shape of his face was awkward, twisted; there was blood on his cheek: Isabelle’s, Clary thought. “Clary,” he said. “Maybe if you try—” Simon suddenly stiffened. “We need to get out of here,” he said. “I can hear wings. There’s going to be more of them. ” Isabelle was no longer gasping. The bleeding from the slash in her leg had slowed, but Clary could see, with a sinking heart, that the wounds were still there, a puffed and angry red. Alec rose, cradling his sister’s limp body in his arms, her black hair hanging down like a flag. “Go where?” he said harshly. “If we run, they’ll be on us—” Jace whirled around. “Clary—” His eyes were full of pleading. Clary’s heart broke for him. Jace, who hardly ever pleaded for anything. For Isabelle, the bravest of them all. Alec looked from the statue to Jace, to the pale face of his unconscious sister. “Someone,” he said, his voice cracking, “do something—” Clary spun on her heel and ran for the wall. She half-flung herself against it, yanking her stele free from her boot, and went for the stone. The contact of the instrument’s tip with the marble sent a shock wave up her arm, but she pressed on, her fingers vibrating as she drew. Black lines fissured out across the stone, cracking into the shape of a door; the edges of the lines began to shimmer. Behind her Clary could hear the demons: the bellow of their voices, the flap of taloned wings, their hissing calls rising to shrieks as the door blazed up with light. It was a silvery rectangle, as depthless as water but not water, framed with fiery runes. A Portal. Clary reached out with one hand, touched the surface. Every part of her mind concentrated on visualizing a single place. “Come on!” she screamed, her eyes fixed on it, not moving as Alec, carrying his sister, darted past her and disappeared into it, vanishing utterly. Simon followed him, and then Jace, catching at her free hand as he went. Clary only had a moment to turn and look behind her—a great black wing swept across her vision, a terrifying glimpse of teeth dripping poison—before the storm of the Portal took her and whirled her away into chaos. Clary slammed into the ground hard, bruising her knees. The Portal had torn her away from Jace; she rolled to her feet quickly and looked around, breathing hard—what if the Portal hadn’t worked? What if it had taken them to the wrong place? But the cave roof rose above, familiar and towering, marked with runes. There was the fire pit, the scuff marks on the floor where they had all slept the night before. Jace, rising to his feet, Alec’s bow falling from his hand, Simon— And Alec, on his knees beside Isabelle. Any satisfaction Clary felt at her success with the Portal popped like a balloon. Isabelle lay still and drained-looking, gasping shallow breaths. Jace dropped down beside Alec and touched Isabelle’s hair gently. Clary felt Simon clasp her wrist. His voice was ragged. “If you can do anything—” She moved forward as if in a dream, and knelt down on the other side of Isabelle, opposite Jace, stele slipping in her bloody fingers. She put the tip to Izzy’s wrist, remembering what she had done outside the Adamant Citadel, how she had poured herself into healing Jace. Heal, heal, heal, she prayed, and finally the stele jerked to life and the black lines began to spiral sluggishly across Izzy’s forearm. Izzy moaned and jerked in Alec’s arms. He had his head down, his face buried against his sister’s hair. “Izzy, please,” he whispered. “Not after Max. Izzy, please, stay with me. ” Isabelle gasped, her eyelids fluttering. She arched up—and then sank back as the iratze vanished from her skin. A dull pulse of blood oozed sluggishly from the wound in her leg: the blood looked tinted black. Clary’s hand tightened so hard on her stele, she felt it bend in her hand. “I can’t do it,” she whispered. “I can’t make one strong enough. ” “It’s not you; it’s the poison,” Jace said. “Demon poison. In her blood. Sometimes runes can’t help. ” “Try again,” Alec said to Clary; his eyes were dry, but with a terrible brightness. “With the iratze. Or with a new rune; you could create a rune—” Clary’s mouth was dry. Never had she wanted to create a rune more, but the stele no longer felt like an extension of her arm; it felt like a dead thing in her hand. She had never felt more helpless. Isabelle was taking rasping breaths. “Something has to help!” Simon shouted suddenly, his voice echoing off the walls. “You’re Shadowhunters; you fight demons all the time. You have to be able to do something—” “And we die all the time!” Jace shouted back at him, and then suddenly crumpled over Isabelle’s body, doubling up as if he’d been punched in the stomach. “Isabelle, God, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry—” “Move,” Simon said, and suddenly he was on his knees next to Isabelle, all of them grouped around her, and Clary was reminded of the horrible tableau in the Accords Hall when the Lightwoods had gathered around Max’s dead body, and it couldn’t be happening again, it couldn’t— “Leave her alone,” Alec snarled. “You’re not her family, vampire—” “No,” Simon said, “I’m not. ” And his fangs snapped out, sharp and white. Clary sucked in her breath as Simon raised his own wrist to his mouth and tore at it, slicing open the veins, and blood ran in rivulets down his arm. Jace’s eyes widened. He stood up and backed away; his hands were in fists, but he didn’t move to stop Simon, who held his wrist over the gash in Isabelle’s leg and let his blood run down his fingers, spattering onto her, covering her wound. “What . . . are . . . you . . . doing?” Alec ground out between his teeth, but Jace flung up a hand, his eyes on Simon. “Let him,” Jace said, almost in a whisper. “It can work, I’ve heard of it working. . . . ” Isabelle, still unconscious, arched back into her brother’s arms. Her leg was twitching. The heel of her boot dug into the ground as her ribboned skin began to knit itself back together. Simon’s blood poured in a steady stream, covering the injury, but even beneath the blood Clary could see that new, pink skin was covering the torn mess of flesh. Isabelle’s eyes opened. They were wide and dark. Her lips had been almost white, but color was starting to come back into them. She stared at Simon uncomprehendingly, and then down at her leg. The skin that had been torn and shredded looked clean and pale, only a faint half-moon of neatly spaced white scars left to show where the demon’s teeth had gone in. Simon’s blood was still dripping slowly from his fingers, though the wound in his wrist had mostly healed. He looked pale, Clary realized anxiously, much paler than usual, and his veins were standing out blackly against his skin. He lifted his wrist to his mouth, his teeth bared— “Simon, no!” Isabelle said, struggling to sit up against Alec, who was staring down at her with shocked blue eyes. Clary caught Simon’s wrist. “It’s all right,” she said. Blood stained his sleeve, his shirt, the corners of his mouth. His skin was cold under her touch, his wrist pulseless. “It’s okay—Isabelle’s okay,” she said, and drew Simon to his feet. “Let’s give them a second,” she said softly, and led him away to where he could lean against her by the wall. Jace and Alec were bending over Isabelle, their voices low and murmuring. Clary held Simon by the wrist as he slumped back against the stone, his eyes fluttering shut in exhaustion.