City of Heavenly Fire – Chapter 23: JUDAS KISS

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Chapter 23: JUDAS KISS

The doors of the Hall exploded inward with a blast of splinters; shards of marble and wood flew like shattered bone. Emma stared numbly as red-clad warriors began to spill into the Hall, followed by faeries in green and white and silver. And after them came the Nephilim: Shadowhunters in black gear, desperate to protect their children. A wave of guards raced to meet the Endarkened at the door, and were cut down. Emma watched them fall in what felt like slow motion. She knew she had risen to her feet, and so had Julian, thrusting Tavvy into Livia’s arms; they both moved to block the younger Blackthorns, as hopeless as Emma knew the gesture was. This is how it ends, she thought. They had run from Sebastian’s warriors in Los Angeles, had fled to the Penhallows’, and from the Penhallows to the Hall, and now they were trapped like rats and they would die here and they might as well never have run at all. She reached for Cortana, thinking of her father, of what he would have said if she gave up. Carstairs didn’t give up. They suffered and survived, or they died on their feet. At least if she died, she thought, she’d see her parents again. At least she’d have that. The Endarkened surged into the room, parting the desperately fighting Shadowhunters like blades parting a field of wheat, driving toward the center of the Hall. They seemed a murderous blur, but Emma’s vision sharpened suddenly as one of them moved out of the crowd, directly toward the Blackthorns. It was Julian’s father. His time as a servant of Sebastian’s had not been good to him. His skin looked dull and gray, his face welted with bloody cuts, but he was striding forward purposefully, his eyes on his children. Emma froze. Julian, beside her, had caught sight of his father; he seemed mesmerized, as if by a snake. He had seen his father forced to drink from the Internal Cup, Emma realized, but he hadn’t seen him after, hadn’t seen him raise a blade to his own son, or laugh about the idea of his son’s death, or force Katerina to her knees to be tortured and Turned. . . . “Jules,” she said. “Jules, that isn’t your father—” His eyes widened. “Emma, look out—” She whirled, and screamed. A faerie warrior was looming above her, decked in silver armor; his hair was not hair at all, but a ropy tangle of thorned branches. Half his face was burned and bubbling where he must have been sprayed with iron powder or rock salt. One of his eyes was rolling, white and blinded, but the other fixed on Emma with murderous intent. Emma saw Diana Wrayburn, her dark hair whirling as she spun toward them, her mouth open to cry a warning. Diana moved toward Emma and the faerie, but there was no way she was going to make it in time. The faerie raised his bronze sword with a savage snarl— Emma lunged forward, sinking Cortana into his chest. His blood was like green water. It sprayed out over her hand as she let go of her sword in shock; he fell like a tree, striking the marble floor of the Hall with a heavy clang. She sprang forward, reaching for the hilt of Cortana, and heard Julian cry out: “Ty!” She whipped around. Amid the chaos of the Hall, she could see the small space in which the Blackthorns stood. Andrew Blackthorn stopped in front of his children, an odd little smile on his face, and reached out a hand. And Ty—Ty, of all of them, the least trusting, the least sentimental—was moving forward, his eyes fixed on his father, his own hand outstretched. “Dad?” he said. “Ty?” Livia reached for her twin, but her hand closed on air. “Ty, don’t—” “Don’t listen to her,” said Andrew Blackthorn, and if there had been any doubt that he was no longer the man who had been Julian’s father, it was gone when Emma heard his voice. There was no kindness in it, only ice, and the savage edge of a cruel glee. “Come here, my boy, my Tiberius . . . ” Ty took another step forward, and Julian pulled the shortsword from his belt and threw it. It sang through the air, straight and true, and Emma remembered, with a bizarre clarity, that last day in the Institute, and Katerina showing them how to throw a blade as direct and graceful as a line of poetry. How to throw a blade so that it never missed its mark. The blade whipped past Tiberius and sank into Andrew Blackthorn’s chest. The man’s eyes flew open in shock, his gray hand fumbling for the hilt protruding from his rib cage—and then he fell, crumpling to the ground. His blood smeared across the marble floor as Tiberius gave a cry, whirling to lash out at his brother, pounding his fists against Julian’s chest. “No,” Ty panted. “Why did you do that, Jules? I hate you, I hate you—” Julian hardly seemed to feel it. He was staring at the place where his father had fallen; the other Endarkened were already moving forward, trampling the body of their fallen comrade. Diana Wrayburn stood a distance away: She had begun to move toward the children and then stopped, her eyes full of sorrow. Hands came up and caught at the back of Tiberius’s shirt, pulling him away from Julian. It was Livvy, her face set. “Ty. ” Her arms went around her twin, pinning his fists to his sides. “Tiberius, stop it right now. ” Ty stopped, and sagged against his sister; slight as she was, she supported his weight. “Ty,” she said again, softly. “He had to. Don’t you understand? He had to. ” Julian stepped back, his face as white as paper, stepped back and back until he hit one of the stone pillars and slid down it, crumpling, his shoulders shaking with silent gasps. My sister. My queen. Clary sat rigid on the ivory and gold throne. She felt like a child in an adult’s chair: the thing had been built for someone massive, and her feet dangled above the top step. Her hands gripped the arms of the throne, but her fingers didn’t come close to reaching the carved handrests—though, since each was shaped like a skull, she had no desire to touch them anyway. Sebastian was pacing inside his protective circle of runes; every once in a while he would pause to look up at her and smile the sort of uninhibited, gleeful smile she associated with the Sebastian from her vision, the boy with guiltless green eyes. He drew a long, sharp dagger from his belt as she watched, and ran the blade along the inside of his palm. His head fell back, his eyes half-closing as he stretched his hand out; blood ran down his fingers and splattered onto the runes. Each began to glow with a dawning spark as the blood struck it. Clary pressed herself against the solid back of the throne. The runes were not Gray Book runes; they were alien and strange. The door to the room opened, and Amatis strode in, followed by two moving lines of Endarkened warriors. Their faces were blank as they silently ranged themselves along the walls of the room, but Amatis looked worried. Her gaze skipped past Jace, motionless on the floor beside the body of the dead demon, to focus on her master. “Lord Sebastian,” she said. “Your mother is not in her cell. ” Sebastian frowned and tightened his bleeding hand into a fist. All around him the runes were burning fiercely now, with a cold ice-blue flame. “Vexing,” he said. “The others must have let her out. ” Clary felt a surge of hope mixed with terror; she forced herself to remain silent, but saw Amatis’s eyes flick toward her. She didn’t seem surprised to see Clary on the throne: on the contrary, her lips curved into a smirk. “Would you like me to set the rest of the army to searching for them?” she said to Sebastian. “There’s no need. ” He glanced up toward Clary and smiled; there was a sudden explosive shattering sound, and the window behind her, the one that had looked out on Alicante, splintered into a spiderweb of mazed lines. “The borders are closing,” Sebastian said. “I will bring them to me. ” “The walls are closing in,” Magnus said. Alec tried to pull Magnus farther upright; the warlock slumped heavily against him, his head almost on Alec’s shoulder. Alec had absolutely no idea where they were going—he had lost track of the twisting corridors what felt like ages ago, but he had no desire to communicate that to Magnus. Magnus seemed to be doing badly enough as it was—his breathing ragged and shallow, his heartbeat rapid. And now this. “Everything’s fine,” Alec soothed, his arm sliding around Magnus’s waist. “We just have to make it to—” “Alec,” Magnus said again, his voice surprisingly firm. “I am not hallucinating. The walls are moving. ” Alec stared—and felt a flutter of panic. The corridor was heavy with dusty air; the walls seemed to shimmer and tremble. The floor warped as the walls began to slide toward each other, the corridor narrowing from one end like a trash compactor slamming closed. Magnus slipped and hit one of the buckling walls with a hiss of pain. Panicked, Alec seized his arm and pulled Magnus toward him. “Sebastian,” Magnus gasped as Alec began to drag him down the hall, away from the collapsing stone. “He’s doing this. ” Alec managed an incredulous look. “How would that even be possible? He doesn’t control everything!” “He could—if he sealed the borders between the dimensions. ” Magnus took a rattling breath as he pushed himself into a run. “He could control this whole world. ” Isabelle shrieked as the ground opened up behind her; she threw herself forward just in time to avoid toppling into the chasm that was splitting the corridor apart. “Isabelle!” Simon shouted, and reached to catch her by the shoulders. He forgot, sometimes, the strength that his vampire blood flooded through his body. He wrenched Isabelle up with such force that they both toppled backward and Izzy landed on top of him. Under other circumstances, he might have enjoyed it, but not with the stone keep shuddering itself apart around them. Isabelle sprang to her feet, pulling him up after. They had lost Luke and Jocelyn back in one of the other corridors as a wall had split apart, shedding mortarless rocks like scales. Everything since then had been a mad dash, dodging splintering wood and falling stones, and now chasms opening up in the ground. Simon was fighting despair—he couldn’t help but feel that this was the end; the fortress would fall apart around them, and they would die and be buried here. “Don’t,” Isabelle said, breathless. Her dark hair was full of dust, her face bloody where flying rock had cut her skin. “Don’t what?” The ground heaved, and Simon half-ducked, half-fell forward into another corridor. He couldn’t rid himself of the thought that somehow the fortress was herding them. There seemed a purpose to its dissolution, as if it were directing them somehow. . . . “Don’t give up,” she gasped, flinging herself against a set of doors as the corridor behind them began to crumble; the doors swung open, and she and Simon tumbled into the next room. Isabelle sucked in a gasp, quickly cut off as the doors slammed behind them, shutting away the explosive noise of the keep. For a moment Simon simply thanked God that the ground under his feet was steady and the walls weren’t moving. Then he registered where he was, and his relief vanished. They were in an enormous room, semicircular in shape, with a raised platform at the curved end half cast in shadow. The walls were lined with Endarkened warriors in red gear, like a row of scarlet teeth. The room stank like pitch and fire, sulfur and the unmistakable taint of demon blood. The body of a bloated demon lay sprawled against one wall, and near it was another body. Simon felt his mouth go dry. Jace. Within a circle of glowing runes etched on the floor stood Sebastian. He grinned as Isabelle gave a cry, ran to Jace, and dropped down by his side. She put her fingers to his throat; Simon saw her shoulders relax. “He’s alive,” Sebastian said, sounding bored. “Queen’s orders. ” Isabelle looked up. Some of the strands of her dark hair were stuck to her face with blood. She looked fierce, and beautiful. “The Seelie Queen? When has she ever cared about Jace?” Sebastian laughed. He seemed to be in an enormously good mood. “Not the Seelie Queen,” he said. “The queen of this realm. You may know her. ” With a flourish he gestured toward the platform at the far end of the room, and Simon felt his unbeating heart contract. He had barely glanced at the dais when he had come into the room. He saw now that on it were two thrones, of ivory bone and melted gold, and on the right-hand throne sat Clary. Her red hair was incredibly vivid against the white and gold, like a banner of fire. Her face was pale and still, expressionless. Simon took an involuntary step forward—and was immediately blocked by a dozen Endarkened warriors, Amatis at their center. She carried a massive spear and wore an expression of frightening venom. “Stop where you are, vampire,” she said. “You will not approach the lady of this realm. ” Simon staggered back; he could see Isabelle staring incredulously from Clary, to Sebastian, to him. “Clary!” he called; she didn’t flinch or move, but Sebastian’s face darkened like a thunderstorm. “You will not say my sister’s name,” he hissed. “You thought she belonged to you; she belongs to me now, and I will not share. ” “You’re insane,” Simon said. “And you’re dead,” Sebastian said. “Does any of it matter now?” His eyes raked up and down Simon. “Dear sister,” he said, pitching his voice loudly enough for the whole room to hear it. “Are you absolutely sure you want to keep this one intact?” Before she could answer, the entryway to the room burst open and Magnus and Alec spilled in, followed by Luke and Jocelyn. The doors slammed behind them, and Sebastian clapped his hands together. One hand was bloody, and a drop of blood fell at his feet, and sizzled where it hit the glowing runes, like water sizzling on a hot skillet. “Now everyone’s here,” he declared, his voice delighted. “It’s a party!”

In Clary’s life she had seen many things that were wonderful and beautiful, and many things that were terrible. But none were as terrible as the look on her mother’s face as Jocelyn stared at her daughter, seated on the throne beside Sebastian’s. “Mom,” Clary breathed, so softly that no one could hear her. They were all staring at her—Magnus and Alec, Luke and her mother, Simon and Isabelle, who had moved to hold Jace in her lap, her dark hair falling down over him like the fringe of a shawl. It was every bit as bad as Clary had imagined it would be. Worse. She had expected shock and horror; she hadn’t thought of hurt and betrayal. Her mother staggered back; Luke’s arms went around her, to hold her up, but his gaze was on Clary, and he looked as if he were staring at a stranger. “Welcome, citizens of Edom,” said Sebastian, his lips curling up like a bow being drawn. “Welcome to your new world. ” And he stepped free of the burning circle that held him. Luke’s hand went to his belt; Isabelle began to rise, but it was Alec who moved fastest: one hand to his bow and the other to the quiver at his back, the arrow nocked and flying before Clary could shape the cry for him to stop. The arrow flew straight toward Sebastian and buried itself in his chest. He staggered back from the force of it, and Clary heard a gasp ripple down the line of Dark Shadowhunters. A moment later Sebastian regained his balance and, with a look of annoyance, pulled the arrow from his chest. It was stained with blood. “Fool,” he said. “You can’t hurt me; nothing under Heaven can. ” He flung the arrow at Alec’s feet. “Did you think you were an exception?” Alec’s eyes flicked toward Jace; it was minute, but Sebastian caught the glance, and grinned. “Ah, yes,” he said. “Your hero with the heavenly fire. But it’s gone, isn’t it? Spent on rage in the desert at a demon of my sending. ” He snapped his fingers, and a spark of ice blue shot from them, rising like a mist. For a moment Clary’s view of Jace and Isabelle was obscured; a moment later she heard a cough and gasp, and Isabelle’s arms were sliding away from Jace as he sat up, then rose to his feet. Behind Clary the window was still splintering, slowly; she could hear the grind of the glass. Through the now-crazed glass spilled a lacelike quilting of light and shadow. “Welcome back, brother,” said Sebastian equably, as Jace stared around him with a face that was rapidly draining of color as he took in the room full of warriors, his friends standing horrified around him, and lastly: Clary, on her throne. “Would you like to try to kill me? You have plenty of weapons there. If you feel like you’d like to try slaying me with the heavenly fire, now is your chance. ” He opened his arms wide. “I won’t fight back. ” Jace stood facing Sebastian. They were the same height, almost the same build, though Sebastian was thinner, more wiry. Jace was filthy and bloodstained, his gear torn, his hair tangled. Sebastian was elegant in red; even his bloody hand seemed intentional. Sebastian’s wrists were bare; around Jace’s left wrist, a silver circlet gleamed. “You’re wearing my bracelet,” Sebastian observed. “‘If I cannot reach Heaven, I will raise Hell. ’ Apt, don’t you think?” “Jace,” Isabelle hissed. “Jace, do it. Stab him. Go on—” But Jace was shaking his head. His hand had been at his weapons belt; slowly he lowered it to his side. Isabelle gave a cry of despair; the look on Alec’s face was just as bleak, though he stayed silent. Sebastian lowered his arms to his sides and held out his hand. “I believe that it’s time you returned my bracelet, brother. Time you rendered unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Give me back my possessions, including my sister. Do you renounce her to my keeping?” “No!” It wasn’t Jace; it was Jocelyn. She pulled away from Luke and launched herself forward, hands reaching out for Sebastian. “You hate me—so kill me. Torture me. Do what you want to me, but leave Clary alone!” Sebastian rolled his eyes. “I am torturing you. ” “She’s just a girl,” Jocelyn panted. “My child, my daughter—” Sebastian’s hand shot out and gripped Jocelyn’s jaw, half-lifting her off the floor. “I was your child,” he said. “Lilith gave me a realm; you gave me your curse. You are no kind of mother, and you will stay away from my sister. You are alive on her sufferance. You all are. Do you understand?” He let go of Jocelyn; she staggered back, the bloody print of his hand marked on her face. Luke caught her. “You all are alive because Clarissa wants you alive. There is no other reason. ” “You told her you wouldn’t kill us if she ascended that throne,” Jace said, unclasping the silver bracelet from around his wrist. His voice was without inflection. He hadn’t met Clary’s eyes. “Didn’t you?” “Not exactly,” said Sebastian. “I offered her something much more . . . substantial than that. ” “The world,” Magnus said. He appeared to be upright through sheer force of will. His voice sounded like gravel tearing his throat. “You’re sealing the borders between our world and this one, aren’t you? That’s what this rune circle is for, not just protection. So you could work your spell. That’s what you’ve been doing. If you close the gateway, you are no longer splitting your powers between two worlds. All your force will be concentrated here. With all your power concentrated in this dimension, you will be well-nigh invincible here. ” “If he seals the borders, how will he get back to our world?” Isabelle demanded. She had risen to her feet; her whip gleamed on her wrist, but she made no move to use it. “He won’t,” said Magnus. “None of us will. The gates between the worlds will close forever, and we will be trapped here. ” “Trapped,” Sebastian mused. “Such an ugly word. You’ll be . . . guests. ” He grinned. “Trapped guests. ” “That’s what you offered her,” Magnus said, raising his eyes to Clary. “You told her if she would agree to rule beside you here, you would close the borders and leave our world in peace. Rule in Edom, save the world. Right?” “You’re very perceptive,” Sebastian said after a brief pause. “It’s annoying. ” “Clary, no!” Jocelyn cried; Luke tugged her back, but she was paying attention to nothing but her daughter. “Don’t do this—” “I have to,” Clary said, speaking for the first time. Her voice caught and carried, incredibly loud in the stone room. Suddenly everyone was looking at her. Everyone but Jace. He was staring down at the bracelet held between his fingers. She straightened. “I have to. Don’t you understand? If I don’t, he’ll kill everyone in our world. Destroy everything. Millions, billions of people. He’ll turn our world to this. ” She gestured toward the window that looked out onto the burned plains of Edom. “It’s worth it. It has to be. I’ll learn to love him. He won’t hurt me. I believe it. ” “You think you can change him, temper him, make him better, because you’re the only thing he cares about,” Jocelyn said. “I know Morgenstern men. It doesn’t work. You’ll regret—” “You never held the life of a whole world in your hand, Mom,” said Clary, with infinite tenderness and infinite sorrow. “There’s only so much advice you can give me. ” She looked at Sebastian. “I choose what he chooses. The gift he gave me. I accept it. ” She saw Jace swallow. He dropped the bracelet into Sebastian’s open palm. “Clary is yours,” he said, and stepped back. Sebastian snapped his fingers. “You heard her,” he said. “All of you. Kneel to your queen. ” No! Clary thought, but she forced herself into stillness, silence. She watched as the Endarkened began to kneel, one by one, their heads bowed; the last to kneel was Amatis, and she did not bow her head. Luke was staring at his sister, his face flayed open. It was the first time he had seen her like this, Clary realized, though he had been told of it. Amatis turned and looked over her shoulder at the Shadowhunters. Her gaze caught on her brother’s for just a moment; her lip curled. It was a vicious look. “Do it,” she said. “Kneel, or I will kill you. ” Magnus knelt first. Clary would never have guessed that. Magnus was so proud, but then it was a pride that transcended the emptiness of gestures. She doubted it would shame him to kneel when it meant nothing to him. He went down on his knees, gracefully, and Alec followed him down; then Isabelle, then Simon, then Luke, drawing Clary’s mother down beside him. And lastly Jace, his blond head bowed, went to his knees, and Clary heard the window behind her shatter into pieces. It sounded like her breaking heart. Glass rained down; behind it was bare stone. There was no longer any window that led to Alicante. “It is done. The paths between the worlds are closed. ” Sebastian wasn’t smiling, but he looked—incandescent. As if he were blazing. The circle of runes on the floor was shimmering with blue fire. He ran toward the platform, took the steps two at a time, and reached up to catch Clary’s hands; she let him draw her down from the throne, until she stood in front of him. He was still holding her. His hands felt like bracelets of fire around her wrists. “You accept it,” he said. “You accept your choice?” “I accept it,” she said, forcing herself to look at him with absolute directness. “I do. ” “Then kiss me,” he said. “Kiss me like you love me. ” Her stomach tightened. She had been expecting this, but it was like expecting a blow to the face: Nothing could prepare you. Her face searched his; in some other world, some other time, some other brother was smiling across the grass at her, eyes as green as springtime. She tried to smile. “In front of everyone? I don’t think—” “We have to show them,” he said, and his face was as immovable as an angel pronouncing a sentencing. “That we are unified. Prove yourself, Clarissa. ” She leaned toward him; he shivered. “Please,” she said. “Put your arms around me. ” She caught a flash of something in his eyes—vulnerability, surprise at being asked—before his arms came up around her. He drew her close; she laid one hand on his shoulder. Her other hand slid to her waist, where Heosphoros rested with its scabbard tucked into the belt of her gear. Her fingers curled around the back of his neck. His eyes were wide; she could see his heartbeat, pulsing in his throat. “Now, Clary,” he said, and she leaned up, touching her lips to his face. She felt him shudder against her as she whispered, her lips moving against his cheek. “Hail, master,” she said, and saw his eyes widen, just as she pulled Heosphoros free and brought it up in a bright arc, the blade slamming through his rib cage, the tip positioned to pierce his heart. Sebastian gasped, and spasmed in her arms; he staggered back, the hilt of the blade protruding from his chest. His eyes were wide, and for a moment she saw the shock of betrayal in them, shock and pain, and it actually hurt; it hurt somewhere down deep in a place she thought she had buried long ago, a place that mourned the brother he might have been. “Clary,” he gasped, starting to straighten, and now the look of betrayal in his eyes was fading, and she saw the beginning spark of rage. It hadn’t worked, she thought in terror; it hadn’t worked, and even if the borders between the worlds were sealed now, he would take it out on her, on her friends, her family, on Jace. “You know better,” he said, reaching down to grasp the hilt of the sword in his hand. “I can’t be hurt, not by any weapon under Heaven—” He gasped, and broke off. His hands had closed around the hilt, just above the wound in his chest. There was no blood, but there was a flash of red, a spark—fire. The wound was beginning to burn. “What—is—this?” he demanded through clenched teeth. “‘And I will give him the Morning Star,’” Clary said. “It’s not a weapon that was made under Heaven. It is Heaven’s fire. ” With a scream he pulled the sword free. He gave the hilt, with its hammered pattern of stars, one incredulous look before he blazed up like a seraph blade. Clary staggered back, tripped over the edge of the steps to the throne, and threw one arm partly over her face. He was burning, burning like the pillar of fire that went before the Israelites. She could still see Sebastian within the flames, but they were around him, consuming him in their white light, turning him to an outline of dark char within a flame so bright, it seared her eyes. Clary looked away, burying her face in her arm. Her mind raced back through that night when she had come to Jace through the flames, and kissed him and told him to trust her. And he had, even when she had knelt down in front of him and driven the point of Heosphoros into the ground. All around it she had drawn the same rune over and over with her stele—the rune she had once seen, it felt like so long ago now, on a rooftop in Manhattan: the winged hilt of an angel’s sword. A gift from Ithuriel, she guessed, who had given her so many gifts. The image had rested in her mind until she’d needed it. The rune for shaping Heaven’s fire. That night on the demon plain, the blaze all around them had evaporated, drawn into the blade of Heosphoros, until the metal had burned and glowed and sung when she’d touched it, the sound of angelic choruses. The fire had left behind only a wide circle of sand fused into glass, a substance that had glowed like the surface of the lake she had so often dreamed about, the frozen lake where Jace and Sebastian had battled to the death in her nightmares. This weapon could kill Sebastian, she had said. Jace had been more dubious, careful. He had tried to take it from her, but the light had died in it when he’d touched it. It reacted only to her, the one who had created it. She had agreed that they had to be cautious, in case it didn’t work. It seemed the height of hubris to imagine she had trapped holy fire in a weapon, the way that fire had been trapped in the blade of Glorious. . . . But the Angel gave you this gift to create, Jace had said. And do we not have his blood in our veins? Whatever the blade had sung with, it was gone now, gone into her brother. Clary could hear Sebastian screaming, and over that, the cries of the Endarkened. A burning wind blew past her, carrying with it the tang of ancient deserts, of a place where miracles were common and the divine was manifest in fire. The noise stopped as suddenly as it had started. The dais shook under Clary as a weight collapsed onto it. She looked up and saw that the fire was gone, though the ground was scarred and both thrones looked blackened, the gold on them no longer bright but charred and burned and melted. Sebastian lay a few feet away from her, on his back. There was a great blackened hole across the front of his chest. He turned his head toward her, his face taut and white with pain, and her heart contracted. His eyes were green. The strength in her legs gave out. She collapsed to the dais on her knees. “You,” he whispered, and she stared at him in horrified fascination, unable to look away from what she had wrought. His face was utterly without color, like paper stretched over bone. She didn’t dare to look down at his chest, where his jacket had fallen away; she could see the stain of blackness across his shirt, like a spill of acid. “You put . . . the heavenly fire . . . into the blade of the sword,” he said. “It was . . . cleverly done. ” “It was a rune, that’s all,” she said, kneeling over him, her eyes searching his. He looked different, not just his eyes but the whole shape of his face, his jawline softer, his mouth without its cruel twist. “Sebastian . . . ” “No. I’m not him. I’m—Jonathan,” he whispered. “I’m Jonathan. ” “Go to Sebastian!” It was Amatis, rising, with all the Endarkened behind her. There was grief on her face, and rage. “Kill the girl!” Jonathan struggled to sit upright. “No!” he shouted hoarsely. “Get back!” The Dark Shadowhunters, who had begun to surge forward, froze in confusion. Then, pushing between them, came Jocelyn; she shoved by Amatis without a look and dashed up the steps to the dais. She moved toward Sebastian—Jonathan—and then froze, standing over him, staring down with a look of amazement, mixed with a terrible horror. “Mother?” Jonathan said. He was staring, almost as if he couldn’t quite focus his eyes on her. He began to cough. Blood ran from his mouth. His breath rattled in his lungs. I dream sometimes, of a boy with green eyes, a boy who was never poisoned with demon blood, a boy who could laugh and love and be human, and that is the boy I wept over, but that boy never existed. Jocelyn’s face hardened, as if she were steeling herself to do something. She knelt down by Jonathan’s head and drew him up into her lap. Clary stared; she didn’t think she could have done it. Could have brought herself to touch him like that. But then her mother had always blamed herself for Jonathan’s existence. There was something in her determined expression that said that she had seen him into the world, and she would see him out. The moment he was propped up, Jonathan’s breathing eased. There was bloody foam on his lips. “I am sorry,” he said with a gasp. “I am so . . . ” His eyes tracked to Clary. “I know there is nothing I could do or say now that would allow me to die with even a shred of grace,” he said. “And I would hardly blame you if you cut my throat. But I am . . . I regret. I’m . . . sorry. ” Clary was speechless. What could she say? It’s all right? But it wasn’t all right. Nothing he had done was all right, not in the world, not to her. There were things you could not forgive. And yet he had not done them, not exactly. This person, the boy her mother was holding as if he were her penance, was not Sebastian, who had tormented and murdered and wrought destruction. She remembered what Luke had said to her, what felt like years ago: The Amatis that is serving Sebastian is no more my sister than the Jace who served Sebastian was the boy you loved. No more my sister than Sebastian is the son your mother ought to have had. “Don’t,” he said, and half-closed his eyes. “I see you trying to puzzle it out, my sister. Whether I ought to be forgiven the way Luke would forgive his sister if the Infernal Cup released her now. But you see, she was his sister once. She was human once. I—” And he coughed, more blood appearing on his lips. “I never existed at all. Heavenly fire burns away that which is evil. Jace survived Glorious because he is good. There was enough of him left to live. But I was born to be all corruption. There is not enough left of me to survive. You see the ghost of someone who could have been, that is all. ” Jocelyn was crying, tears falling silently down her face as she sat very still. Her back was straight. “I must tell you,” he whispered. “When I die—the Endarkened will rush at you. I won’t be able to hold them back. ” His gaze flicked to Clary. “Where’s Jace?” “I’m here,” Jace said. And he was, already up on the dais, his expression hard and puzzled and sad. Clary met his eyes. She knew how hard it must have been for him to play along with her, to let Sebastian think he had her, to let Clary risk herself at the last. And she knew how this must be for him, Jace who had wanted revenge so badly, to look at Jonathan and realize that the part of Sebastian that could have been—should have been—punished was gone. Here was another person, someone else entirely, someone who had never been given a chance to live, and now never would. “Take my sword,” said Jonathan, his breath coming in gasps, indicating Phaesphoros, which had fallen some feet away. “Cut—cut it open. ” “Cut what open?” Jocelyn said in puzzlement, but Jace was already moving, bending to seize Phaesphoros, flipping himself down from the dais. He strode across the room, past the huddled Dark Shadowhunters, past the ring of runes, to where the Behemoth demon lay dead in its ichor. “What is he doing?” Clary asked, though as Jace raised the sword and sliced cleanly down into the demon’s body, it seemed obvious. “How did he know . . . ” “He—knows me,” Jonathan breathed. A tide of stinking demon guts poured across the floor; Jace’s expression twisted with disgust—and then surprise, and then realization. He bent down and, with his bare hand, picked up something lumpy, glistening with ichor—he held it up, and Clary recognized the Infernal Cup. She looked over at Jonathan. His eyes were rolling back, shudders racking his body. “T-tell him,” he stuttered. “Tell him to throw it into the ring of runes. ” Clary lifted her head. “Throw it into the circle!” she cried to Jace, and Amatis whipped around. “No!” she cried. “If the Cup is ruined, so shall we all be!” She spun toward the dais. “Lord Sebastian! Do not let your army be destroyed! We are loyal!” Jace looked at Luke. Luke was gazing at his sister with an expression of ultimate sadness, a sadness as profound as death. Luke had lost his sister forever, and Clary had only just gotten back her brother, the brother who had been gone from her all her life, and still it was death on both sides. Jonathan, half-supported against Jocelyn’s shoulder, looked at Amatis; his green eyes were like lights. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I should never have made you. ” And he turned his face away. Luke nodded, once, at Jace, and Jace flung the Cup as hard as he could into the circle of runes. It struck the ground and shattered into pieces. Amatis gasped, and put her hand to her chest. For a moment—just a moment—she stared at Luke with a look of recognition in her eyes: a look of recognition, even love. “Amatis,” he whispered. Her body slumped to the ground. The other Endarkened followed, one by one, collapsing where they stood, until the room was full of corpses. Luke turned away, too much pain in his eyes for Clary to be able to bear to look at him. She heard a cry—distant and harsh—and wondered for a moment if it was Luke, or even one of the others, horrified to see so many Nephilim fall, but the cry rose and rose and became a great shrieking howl that rattled the glass and swirled the dust outside the window that looked out on Edom. The sky turned a red the color of blood, and the cry went on, fading now, a gasping exhalation of sorrow as if the universe were weeping. “Lilith,” Jonathan whispered. “She weeps for her dead children, the children of her blood. She weeps for them and for me. ”Emma pulled Cortana free of the body of the dead faerie warrior, heedless of the blood that slicked her hands. Her only thought was to get to Julian—she had seen the terrible look on his face as he’d slid to the ground, and if Julian was broken, then the whole world was broken and nothing would be right again. The crowd was spinning around her; she barely saw them as she pushed through the melee toward the Blackthorns. Dru was huddled against the pillar beside Jules, her body curled protectively around Tavvy; Livia was still holding Ty by the wrist, but now she was staring past him, her mouth open. And Jules—Jules was still slumped against the pillar, but he had begun to raise his head, and as Emma realized that he was staring, she turned to see what he was looking at. All around the room the Endarkened had begun to crumple. They fell like toppling chess pieces, silent and without crying out. They fell locked in battle with Nephilim, and their faerie brethren turned to stare as one by one the Endarkened warriors’ bodies dropped to the floor. A harsh shout of victory rose from a few Shadowhunter throats, but Emma barely heard it. She stumbled toward Julian and went down on her knees beside him; he looked at her, his blue-green eyes wretched. “Em,” he said hoarsely. “I thought that faerie was going to kill you. I thought—” “I’m fine,” she whispered. “Are you?” He shook his head. “I killed him,” he said. “I killed my father. ” “That wasn’t your father. ” Her throat was too dry to speak anymore; instead she reached out and drew on the back of his hand. Not a word, but a sigil: the rune for bravery, and after it, a lopsided heart. He shook his head as if to say, No, no, I don’t deserve that, but she drew it again, and then leaned into him, even covered in blood as she was, and put her head on his shoulder. The faeries were fleeing the Hall, abandoning their weapons as they went. More and more Nephilim were flooding into the Hall from the square outside. Emma saw Helen heading toward them, Aline beside her, and for the first time since they had left the Penhallows’, Emma let herself believe that they might survive. “They’re dead,” Clary said, looking around the room in wonder at the remains of Sebastian’s army. “They’re all dead. ” Jonathan gave a half-choking laugh. “‘Some good I mean to do, despite of my own nature,’” he murmured, and Clary recognized the quote from English class. King Lear. The most tragic of all the tragedies. “That was something. The Dark Ones are gone. ” Clary leaned over him, urgency in her voice. “Jonathan,” she said. “Please. Tell us how to open the border. How to go home. There must be some way. ” “There’s—there’s no way,” Jonathan whispered. “I shattered the gateway. The path to the Seelie Court is closed; all paths are. It’s—it’s impossible. ” His chest heaved. “I’m sorry. ” Clary said nothing. She could taste only bitterness in her mouth. She had risked herself, had saved the world, but everyone she loved would die. For a moment her heart swelled with hatred. “Good,” Jonathan said, his eyes on her face. “Hate me. Rejoice when I die. The last thing I would want now would be to bring you more grief. ” Clary looked at her mother; Jocelyn was still and upright, her tears falling silently. Clary took a deep breath. She remembered a square in Paris, facing Sebastian across a small table, him saying: Do you think you can forgive me? I mean, do you think forgiveness is possible for someone like me? What would have happened if Valentine had brought you up along with me? Would you have loved me? “I don’t hate you,” she said finally. “I hate Sebastian. I don’t know you. ” Jonathan’s eyes fluttered closed. “I dreamed of a green place once,” he whispered. “A manor house and a little girl with red hair, and preparations for a wedding. If there are other worlds, then maybe there is one where I was a good brother and a good son. ” Maybe, Clary thought, and ached for that world for a moment, for her mother, and for herself. She was aware of Luke standing by the dais, watching them; aware that there were tears on Luke’s face. Jace, the Lightwoods, and Magnus were standing well back, and Alec had his hand in Isabelle’s. All around them lay the dead bodies of Endarkened warriors. “I didn’t think you could dream,” said Clary, and she took a deep breath. “Valentine filled your veins with poison, and then he raised you to hate; you never had a choice. But the sword burned away all that. Maybe this is who you really are. ” He took a ragged, impossible breath. “That would be a beautiful lie to believe,” he said, and, incredibly, the ghost of a smile, bitter and sweet, passed over his face. “The fire of Glorious burned away the demon’s blood. All my life it has scorched my veins and cut at my heart like blades, and weighed me down like lead—all my life, and I never knew it. I never knew the difference. I’ve never felt so . . . light,” he said softly, and then he smiled, and closed his eyes, and died. Clary rose slowly to her feet. She looked down. Her mother was kneeling, holding Jonathan’s body sprawled across her lap. “Mom,” Clary whispered, but Jocelyn didn’t look up. A moment later someone brushed by Clary: It was Luke. He gave her hand a squeeze, and then knelt down by Jocelyn, his hand gentle on her shoulder. Clary turned away; she couldn’t bear it anymore. The sadness felt like a crushing weight. She heard Jonathan’s voice in her head as she descended the stairs: I’ve never felt so light. She moved forward through the corpses and ichor on the floor, numb and heavy with the knowledge of her failure. After everything she had done, there was still no way to save them. They were waiting for her: Jace and Simon and Isabelle, and Alec and Magnus. Magnus looked ill and pale and very, very tired. “Sebastian’s dead,” she said, and they all looked at her, with their tired, dirty faces, as if they were too exhausted and drained to feel anything at the news, even relief. Jace stepped forward and took her hands, lifted them and kissed them quickly; she closed her eyes, feeling as if just a fraction of warmth and light had been returned to her. “Warrior hands,” he said quietly, and let her go. She stared down at her fingers, trying to see what he saw. Her hands were just her hands, small and callused, stained with dirt and blood. “Jace was telling us,” said Simon. “What you did, with the Morgenstern sword. That you were faking Sebastian out the whole time. ” “Not there at the end,” she said. “Not when he turned back into Jonathan. ” “I wish you’d told us,” Isabelle said. “About your plan. ” “I’m sorry,” Clary whispered. “I was afraid it wouldn’t work. That you’d just be disappointed. I thought it was better—not to hope too much. ” “Hope is all that keeps us going sometimes, biscuit,” said Magnus, though he didn’t sound resentful. “I needed him to believe it,” Clary said. “So I needed you to believe it too. He had to see your reactions and think he’d won. ” “Jace knew,” Alec said, looking up at her; he didn’t sound angry either, just dazed. “And I never looked at her from the time she got up onto the throne to the time she stabbed that bastard in the heart,” Jace said. “I couldn’t. Handing over that bracelet to him, I—” He broke off. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have called him a bastard. Sebastian was, but Jonathan isn’t, wasn’t, the same person—and your mother—” “It is like she lost a child twice,” said Magnus. “I can think of few worse things. ” “How about being trapped in a demon realm with no way to get out?” Isabelle said. “Clary, we need to get back to Idris. I hate to ask, but did Seb—did Jonathan say anything about how to unseal the borders?” Clary swallowed. “He said it wasn’t possible. That they’re closed forever. ” “So we’re trapped here,” Isabelle said, her dark eyes shocked. “Forever? That can’t be. There must be a spell—Magnus—” “He wasn’t lying,” Magnus said. “There’s no way for us to reopen the paths from here to Idris. ” There was an awful silence. Then Alec, whose gaze had been resting on Magnus, said, “No way for us?” “That’s what I said,” Magnus replied. “There’s no way to open the borders. ” “No,” said Alec, and there was a dangerous note in his voice. “You said there was no way for us to do it, meaning there might be someone who could. ” Magnus drew away from Alec and looked around at them all. His expression was unguarded, stripped of its usual distance, and he looked both very young and very, very old. His face was a young man’s face, but his eyes had seen centuries pass, and never had Clary been more aware of it. “There are worse things than death,” Magnus said. “Maybe you should let us be the judge of that,” said Alec, and Magnus scrubbed a despairing hand across his face and said, “Dear God. Alexander, I have gone my whole life without ever taking recourse to this path, save once, when I learned my lesson. It is not a lesson I want the rest of you to learn. ” “But you’re alive,” said Clary. “You lived through the lesson. ” Magnus smiled an awful smile. “It wouldn’t be much of a lesson if I hadn’t,” he said. “But I was duly warned. Playing dice with my own life is one thing; playing with all of yours—” “We’ll die here anyway,” said Jace. “It’s a rigged game. Let us take our chances. ” “I agree,” Isabelle said, and the others chimed in their agreement as well. Magnus looked toward the dais, where Luke and Jocelyn still knelt, and sighed. “Majority vote,” he said. “Did you know there’s an old Downworlder saying about mad dogs and Nephilim never heeding a warning?” “Magnus—” Alec began, but Magnus only shook his head and drew himself weakly to his feet. He still wore the rags of the clothes he must have put on for that long-ago dinner at the Fair Folk’s refuge in Idris: the incongruous shreds of a suit jacket and tie. Rings sparkled on his fingers as he brought his hands together, as if in prayer, and closed his eyes. “My father,” he said, and Clary heard Alec suck in his breath with a gasp. “My father, who art in Hell, unhallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in Edom as it is in Hell. Forgive not my sins, for in that fire of fires there shall be neither loving kindness, nor compassion, nor redemption. My father, who makes war in high places and low, come to me now; I call you as your son, and incur upon myself the responsibility of your summoning. ” Magnus opened his eyes. He was expressionless. Five shocked faces looked back at him. “By the Angel—” Alec started. “No,” said a voice just beyond their huddled group. “Definitely not by your Angel. ” Clary stared. At first she saw nothing, just a shifting patch of shadow, and then a figure evolved out of the darkness. A tall man, as pale as bone, in a pure white suit; silver cuff links gleamed at his wrists, carved in the shape of flies. His face was a human face, pale skin pulled tight over bone, cheekbones sharp as blades. He didn’t have hair so much as a sparkling coronet of barbed wires. His eyes were gold-green, and slit-pupilled like a cat’s. “Father,” said Magnus, and the word was an exhalation of sorrow. “You came. ” The man smiled. His front teeth were sharp, pointed like feline teeth. “My son,” he said. “It has been a long time since you called on me. I was beginning to despair that you ever would again. ” “I hadn’t planned to,” Magnus said dryly. “I called on you once, to determine that you were my father. That once was enough. ” “You wound me,” said the man, and he turned his pointed-tooth smile on the others. “I am Asmodeus,” he said. “One of the Nine Princes of Hell. You may know my name. ” Alec made a short sound, quickly muffled. “I was a seraphim once, one of the angels indeed,” continued Asmodeus, looking pleased with himself. “Part of an innumerable company. Then came the war, and we fell like stars from Heaven. I followed the Light-Bringer down, the Morning Star, for I was one of his chief advisers, and when he fell, I fell with him. He raised me up in Hell and made me one of the nine rulers. In case you were wondering, it is preferable to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven—I’ve done both. ” “You’re—Magnus’s father?” said Alec in a strangled voice. He turned to Magnus. “When you held the witchlight in the subway tunnel, it flared up in colors—is that because of him?” He pointed at Asmodeus. “Yes,” Magnus said. He looked very tired. “I warned you, Alexander, that this was something you would not like. ” “I don’t see what the fuss is about. I have been the father of many warlocks,” said Asmodeus. “Magnus has made me the most proud. ” “Who are the others?” Isabelle asked, her dark eyes suspicious. “What he’s not saying is that they’re mostly dead,” Magnus said. He met his father’s eyes briefly and then looked away, as if he couldn’t stand prolonged eye contact. His thin, sensitive mouth was set in a hard line. “He’s also not telling you that all princes of Hell have a realm they rule; this is his. ” “Since this place—Edom—is your realm,” Jace said, “then you’re responsible for—for what happened here?” “It is my realm, though I am rarely here,” said Asmodeus with a martyred sigh. “Used to be an exciting place. The Nephilim of this realm put up quite the fight. When they invented the skeptron, I rather thought they might win out at the last moment, but the Jonathan Shadowhunter of this world was a divider, not a uniter, and in the end they destroyed themselves. Everyone does, you know. We demons get the blame, but we only open the door. It is humanity who steps through it. ” “Don’t excuse yourself,” Magnus snapped. “You as much as murdered my mother—” “She was a willing little piece, I assure you,” said Asmodeus, and Magnus flushed red across his cheekbones. Clary felt a dull pang of shock that it was actually possible to do that to Magnus, to hurt him with barbs about his family. It had been so long, and he was so collected. But then, perhaps your parents could always hurt you, no matter how old you were. “Let’s cut to the business part of this,” said Magnus. “You can open a door, correct? Send us through to Idris, back to our world?” “Would you like a demonstration?” Asmodeus asked, flicking his fingers toward the dais, where Luke was on his feet, looking toward them. Jocelyn seemed about to rise, too. Clary could see the expression of concern on both their faces—just before they winked out of existence. There was a shimmer of air and they both vanished, taking Jonathan’s body with them. Just as they vanished, for a moment, Clary glimpsed the inside of the Accords Hall, the mermaid fountain and the marble floor, and then it was gone, like a tear in the universe sewing itself back up again. A cry broke from Clary’s throat. “Mom!” “I sent them back to your world,” said Asmodeus. “Now you know. ” He examined his nails. Clary was panting, half with panic, half with rage. “How dare you—” “Well, it’s what you wanted, isn’t it?” said Asmodeus. “There, you got the first two for free. The rest, well, it’ll cost you. ” He sighed at the looks on the faces around him. “I’m a demon,” he said pointedly. “Really, what do they teach Nephilim these days?” “I know what you want,” Magnus said in a strained voice. “And you can have it. But you must swear on the Morning Star to send all my friends back to Idris, all of them, and never to bother them again. They will owe you nothing. ” Alec stepped forward. “Stop,” he said. “No—Magnus, what do you mean, what he wants? Why are you talking like you’re not coming back to Idris with us?” “There is a time,” said Asmodeus, “when we must all return to live in the houses of our fathers. Now is Magnus’s time. ” “‘In my father’s house are many mansions,’” Jace whispered; he looked very pale, and as if he might throw up. “Magnus. He can’t mean—he doesn’t want to take you back with him? Back to—” “To Hell? Not precisely,” Asmodeus said. “As Magnus said, Edom is my realm. I shared it with Lilith. Then her brat took it over and laid waste to the grounds, destroyed my keep—it’s in slivers out there. And you murdered half the populace with the skeptron. ” The last was addressed to Jace, rather petulantly. “It takes great energy to fuel a realm. We draw from the power of what we have left behind, the great city of Pandemonium, the fire we fell into, but there is a time when life must fuel us. And immortal life is the best of all. ” The numb heaviness weighing Clary’s limbs vanished as she snapped to attention, moving in front of Magnus. She nearly collided with the others. They had all moved just as she had, to block the warlock from his demon father, even Simon. “You want to take his life?” Clary asked. “That’s just cruel and stupid, even if you’re a demon. How could you want to kill your own child—” Asmodeus laughed. “Delightful,” he said. “Look at them, Magnus, these children who love you and want to protect you! Who would ever have thought it! When you are buried, I will make sure they inscribe it on your tomb: Magnus Bane, beloved of Nephilim. ” “You won’t touch him,” Alec said, his voice like iron. “Maybe you’ve forgotten what it is we do, us Nephilim, but we kill demons. Even princes of Hell. ” “Oh, I know well what you do; my kinsman Abbadon you slew, and our princess Lilith you scattered to the winds of the void, though she will return. She always has a place in Edom. That is why I allowed her son to set himself up here, though I admit I did not realize what a mess he’d make. ” Asmodeus rolled his eyes; Clary suppressed a shudder. Around the gold-green pupils the sclerae of his eyes were as black as oil. “I do not plan to kill Magnus. That would be messy and silly, and besides I could have had his death arranged at any time. It is his life freely given I want, for the life of an immortal has power, great power, and it will help me fuel my kingdom. ” “But he’s your son,” Isabelle protested. “And he will remain with me,” said Asmodeus with a grin. “In spirit, you might say. ” Alec whirled on Magnus, who stood with his hands in his pockets, scowling. “He wants to take your immortality?” “Exactly,” Magnus said. “But—you’d survive? Just not be immortal anymore?” Alec looked wretched, and Clary couldn’t help feeling awful for him. After the reason Alec and Magnus had broken up, Alec certainly didn’t want or need to be reminded that he had once wanted Magnus’s immortality taken away. “My immortality would be gone,” Magnus said. “All the years of my life would come on me at once. I would be unlikely to survive it. Almost four hundred years is quite a lot to take, even if you moisturize regularly. ” “You can’t,” Alec said, and there was a plea in his voice. “He said ‘a life given willingly. ’ Say no. ” Magnus raised his head and looked up and over at Alec; it was a look that made Clary flush and glance away. There was so much love in it, mixed with exasperation and pride and despair. It was an unguarded look, and it felt wrong to see it. “I can’t say no, Alexander,” he said. “If I do, we all remain here; we’ll die anyway. We’ll starve, our ashes turned to dust to plague the demons of the realm. ” “Fine,” Alec said. “There isn’t any one of us who would give up your life to save ours. ” Magnus glanced around at the faces of his companions, dirty and exhausted and brutalized and despairing, and Clary saw the look on Magnus’s face change as he realized that Alec was right. None of them would give up his life to save theirs, even all of theirs. “I’ve lived a long time,” Magnus said. “So many years, and no, it doesn’t feel like enough. I won’t lie and say it does. I want to live on—partly because of you, Alec. I have never wanted to live so much as I have these past few months, with you. ” Alec looked stricken. “We’ll die together,” he said. “Let me stay at least, with you. ” “You have to go back. You have to go back to the world. ” “I don’t want the world. I want you,” Alec said, and Magnus closed his eyes, as if the words almost hurt. Asmodeus watched as they spoke, avidly, almost hungrily, and Clary remembered that demons fed on human emotions—fear and joy and love and pain. Most of all, pain. “You can’t stay with me,” Magnus said after a pause. “There will be no me; the demon will take my life force, and my body will crumble away. Four hundred years, remember. ” “?‘The demon,’?” Asmodeus said, and sniffed. “You could say my name, at least, while you’re boring me. ” Clary resolved then and there that she might hate Asmodeus more than any other demon she had ever met. “Get on with it, my boy,” Asmodeus added. “I haven’t got all eternity to wait—and neither have you, anymore. ” “I have to save you, Alec,” Magnus said. “You and everyone you love; it’s a small price to pay, isn’t it, in the end, for all of that?” “Not everyone I love,” Alec whispered, and Clary felt tears pressing behind her eyes. She had tried, tried so hard, to be the one who paid the price. It was not fair that Magnus should pay it; Magnus, who had the least part in the story of Nephilim and angels and demons and vengeance, compared to any of the rest of them; Magnus, who was only a part of it all because he loved Alec. “No,” Alec said. Through her tears Clary could see them clinging to each other; there was tenderness even in the curve of Magnus’s fingers around Alec’s shoulder as he bent to kiss him. It was a kiss of desperation and clutching more than passion; Magnus held on tightly enough for his fingers to bite into Alec’s arms, but in the end he stepped away, and turned toward his father. “All right,” Magnus said, and Clary could tell he was bracing himself, nerving himself up as if he were about to throw his body onto a pyre. “All right, take me. I give you my life. I am—” Simon—Simon, who had been silent till that moment; Simon, who Clary had almost forgotten was there—stepped forward. “I am willing. ” Asmodeus’s eyebrows shot up. “What was that?” Isabelle seemed to catch on before anyone else. She paled and said, “No, Simon, no!” but Simon went on, his back straight, his chin lifted. “I also have an immortal life,” he said. “Magnus isn’t the only one. Take mine; take my immortality. ” “Ahhhh,” breathed Asmodeus, his eyes suddenly shining. “Azazel told me of you. A vampire is not interesting, but a Daylighter! You carry the power of the world’s sun in your veins. Sunlight and eternal life, that is a power indeed. ” “Yes,” Simon said. “If you’ll take my immortality instead of Magnus’s, then I give it to you. I am—” “Simon!” Clary said, but it was already too late. “I am willing,” he finished, and with a glance around at the rest of the group, he set his jaw, with a look that said, I’ve said it. It’s done. “God, Simon, no,” said Magnus, in a voice of terrible sadness, and he closed his eyes. “I’m only seventeen,” Simon said. “If he takes my immortality, I’ll live out my life—I won’t die here. I never wanted immortality, I never wanted to be a vampire, I never wanted any of it. ” “You won’t live out your life!” There were tears in Isabelle’s eyes. “If Asmodeus takes your immortality, then you’ll be a corpse, Simon. You’re undead. ” Asmodeus made a rude noise. “You’re a very stupid girl,” he said. “I am a Prince of Hell. I can break down the walls between worlds. I can build worlds and destroy them. You think I can’t reverse the transformation that Turns a human to a vampire? You think I can’t make his heart beat again? Child’s play. ” “But why would you do that?” Clary said, bewildered. “Why would you make it so that he lived? You’re a demon. You don’t care—” “I don’t care. But I want,” said Asmodeus. “There is one more thing I want from you. One more item to sweeten the deal. ” He grinned, and his teeth glimmered like sharp crystals. “What?” Magnus’s voice shook. “What is it you want?” “His memories,” said Asmodeus. “Azazel took a memory from each of us, as payment for a favor,” Alec said. “What is it with you demons and memories?” “Human memories, freely given, are like food to us,” said Asmodeus. “Demons live on the cries and agony of the damned in torment. Imagine then, how nice a change of pace a feast of happy memories is. Mixed together, they are delicious, the sour and the sweet. ” He looked around, his cat’s eyes glittering. “And I can already tell there will be many happy memories to take, little vampire, for you are much loved, are you not?” Simon looked strained. He said, “But if you take my memories, who will I be? I don’t—” “Well,” said Asmodeus. “I could take every memory you have and leave you a drooling idiot, I suppose, but really, who wants the memories of a baby? Dull, dull. The question is, what would be the most fun? Memories are delicious, but so is pain. What would cause the most pain to your friends, here? What would remind them to fear the power and the wit of demons?” He clasped his hands behind his back. Each of the buttons of his white suit was carved in the shape of a fly. “I promised my immortality,” Simon said. “Not my memories. You said ‘freely given’—” “God in Hell, the banality,” said Asmodeus, and he moved, as swift as a lick of flame, to seize Simon by the forearm. Isabelle darted forward, as if to catch hold of Simon, and then flinched back with a gasp. A red welt had appeared across her cheek. She put her hand to it, looking shocked. “Leave her alone,” Simon snapped, and wrenched his arm out of the demon’s grip. “Downworlder,” the demon breathed, and touched his long, spidery fingers to Simon’s cheek. “You must have had a heart that beat so strong in you, when it still beat. ” “Let him go,” Jace said, drawing his sword. “He is ours, not yours; the Nephilim protect what belongs to us—” “No!” Simon said. He was shivering all over, but his back was straight. “Jace, don’t. This is the only way. ” “Indeed it is,” said Asmodeus. “For none of you can fight a Prince of Hell in his place of power; not even you, Jace Herondale, child of angels, or you, Clarissa Fairchild, with your tricks and runes. ” He moved his fingers, slightly; Jace’s sword clattered to the ground, and Jace jerked his hand back, grimacing in pain as if he’d been burned. Asmodeus spared him only a glance before raising his hand again. “There is the gateway. Look. ” He gestured toward the wall, which shimmered and came clear. Through it Clary could see the hazy outlines of the Hall of Accords. There were the bodies of the Endarkened, lying on the ground in heaps of scarlet, and there were the Shadowhunters, running, stumbling, hugging, embracing one another—victory after the battle. And there were her mother and Luke, looking around in bewilderment. They were still in the same position they had been in on the dais: Luke standing, Jocelyn kneeling with her son’s body in her arms. Other Shadowhunters were only just beginning to glance toward them, surprised, as if they had appeared out of nowhere—which they had. “There is everything you want,” said Asmodeus, as the gateway flickered and went dark. “And in return I shall take the Daylighter’s immortality, and along with it, his memories of the Shadow World—all his memories of all of you, of all he has learned, of all he has been. That is my desire. ” Simon’s eyes widened; Clary felt her heart give a terrible lurch. Magnus looked as if someone had stabbed him. “There it is,” he whispered. “The trick at the heart of the game. There always is one, with demons. ” Isabelle looked incredulous. “Are you saying you want him to forget us?” “Everything about you, and that he ever knew you,” said Asmodeus. “I offer you this in exchange. He will live. He will have the life of an ordinary mundane. He will have his family back; his mother, his sister. Friends, school, all the trappings of a normal human life. ” Clary looked at Simon desperately. He was shaking, clenching and unclenching his hands. He said nothing. “Absolutely not,” said Jace. “Fine. Then you’ll all die here. You really don’t have much leverage, little Shadowhunter. What are memories when weighed against such a great cost of life?” “You’re talking about who Simon is,” said Clary. “You’re talking about taking him away from us forever. ” “Yes. Isn’t it delightful?” Asmodeus smiled. “This is ridiculous,” said Isabelle. “Say you do take his memories. What’s to stop us from tracking him down and telling him about the Shadow World? Introducing him to magic? We did it before, we can do it again. ” “Before, he knew you, knew and trusted Clary,” said Asmodeus. “Now he will know none of you. You will all be strangers to him, and why should he listen to mad strangers? Besides, you know Covenant Law as well as I do. You will be breaking it, telling him about the Shadow World for no reason at all, endangering his life. There were special circumstances before. Now there will not be. The Clave will strip all your runes if you try it. ” “Speaking of the Clave,” said Jace. “They’re not going to be too pleased if you toss a mundane back out into a life where everyone he knows thinks he’s a vampire. All Simon’s friends know! His family knows! His sister, his mother. They’ll tell him, even if we don’t. ” “I see. ” Asmodeus looked displeased. “That does complicate things. Perhaps I should take Magnus’s immortality after all—” “No,” Simon said. He looked shocked, sick on his feet, but his voice was determined. Asmodeus looked at him with covetous eyes. “Simon, shut up,” Magnus said desperately. “Take me instead, Father—” “I want the Daylighter,” said Asmodeus. “Magnus, Magnus. You’ve never quite understood what it is to be a demon, have you? To feed on pain? But what is pain? Physical torment, that’s so dull; any garden-variety demon can do that. To be an artist of pain, to create agony, to blacken the soul, to turn pure motives to filth, and love to lust and then to hate, to turn a source of joy to a source of torture, that is what we exist for!” His voice rang out. “I shall go forth into the mundane world. I will strip the memories of those close to the Daylighter. They will remember him only as mortal. They will not remember Clary at all. ” “No!” Clary shouted, and Asmodeus threw his head back and laughed, a dazzling laugh that made her remember that once he had been an angel. “You can’t take our memories,” said Isabelle furiously. “We’re Nephilim. It would be tantamount to an attack. The Clave—” “Your memories you may keep,” said Asmodeus. “Nothing about your remembering Simon will get me in trouble with the Clave, and besides, it will torment you, which only doubles my pleasure. ” He grinned. “I shall rip a hole through the heart of your world, and when you feel it, you will think on me and remember me. Remember!” Asmodeus pulled Simon close, his hand sliding up to press against Simon’s chest, as if he could reach through his rib cage into his heart. “We begin here. Are you ready, Daylighter?” “Stop!” Isabelle stepped forward, her whip in hand, her eyes burning. “We know your name, demon. Do you think I am afraid to slay even a Prince of Hell? I would hang your head on my wall like a trophy, and if you dare touch Simon, I will hunt you down. I will spend my life hunting you—” Alec wrapped his arms around his sister, and held her tightly. “Isabelle,” he said quietly. “No. ” “What do you mean, no?” Clary demanded. “We can’t let this happen—Jace—” “This is Simon’s choice. ” Jace stood stock-still; he was ashy pale but unmoving. His eyes were locked on Simon’s. “We have to honor it. ” Simon looked back at Jace, and inclined his head. His gaze was moving slowly over all of them, flicking from Magnus to Alec, to Jace, to Isabelle, where it stopped and rested, and was so full of broken possibilities that Clary felt her own heart break. And then his gaze moved to Clary, and she felt the rest of her shatter. There was so much in his expression, so many years of so much love, so many whispered secrets and promises and shared dreams. She saw him reach down, and then something bright arced through the air toward her. She reached up and caught it, reflexively. It was the golden ring Clary had given him. Her hand tightened around it, feeling the bite of metal against her palm, welcoming the pain. “Enough,” said Asmodeus. “I hate good-byes. ” And he tightened his grip on Simon. Simon gasped, his eyes flying wide open; his hand went to his chest. “My heart—” he gasped, and Clary knew, knew from the look on his face, that it had started beating again. She blinked against her tears as a white mist exploded up around them. She heard Simon cry out in pain; her own feet moved without volition and she ran forward, only to be hurled back as if she had struck an invisible wall. Someone caught her—Jace, she thought. There were arms around her, even as the mist circled Simon and the demon like a small tornado, half-blocking them from view. Shapes began to appear in the mist as it thickened. Clary saw herself and Simon as children, holding hands, crossing a street in Brooklyn; she had barrettes in her hair and Simon was adorably rumpled, his glasses sliding off his nose. There they were again, throwing snowballs in Prospect Park; and at Luke’s farmhouse, tanned from summer, hanging upside down from tree branches. She saw them in Java Jones, listening to Eric’s terrible poetry, and on the back of a flying motorcycle as it crashed into a parking lot, with Jace there, looking at them, his eyes squinted against the sun. And there was Simon with Isabelle, his hands curved around her face, kissing her, and she could see Isabelle as Simon saw her: fragile and strong, and so, so beautiful. And there was Valentine’s ship, Simon kneeling on Jace, blood on his mouth and shirt, and blood at Jace’s throat, and there was the cell in Idris, and Hodge’s weathered face, and Simon and Clary again, Clary etching the Mark of Cain onto his forehead. Maureen, and her blood on the floor, and her little pink hat, and the rooftop in Manhattan where Lilith had raised Sebastian, and Clary was passing him a gold ring across a table, and an Angel was rising out of a lake before him, and he was kissing Isabelle . . . All Simon’s memories, his memories of magic, his memories of all of them, being drawn out and spun into a skein. It shimmered, as white-gold as daylight. There was a sound all around them, like a gathering storm, but Clary barely heard it. She reached her hands out, beseeching, though she didn’t know who she was begging. “Please—” She felt Jace’s arms tighten around her, and then the edge of the storm caught her. She was lifted up, whirled away. She saw the stone room recede into the distance at a terrible speed, and the storm took her cries for Simon and turned them into a sound like the ragged tearing of wind. Jace’s hands were torn from her shoulders. She was alone in the chaos, and for a moment she thought Asmodeus had lied to them after all, that there was no gateway, and that they would float in this nothingness forever until they died. And then the ground came up, fast. She saw the floor of the Accords Hall, hard marble veined with gold, before she hit it. The collision was hard, rattling her teeth; she rolled automatically, as she’d been taught, and came to a stop at the side of the mermaid fountain in the center of the room. She sat up and looked around. The room was full of utterly silent, staring faces, but they didn’t matter. She wasn’t looking for strangers. She saw Jace first; he had landed in a crouch, poised to fight. She saw his shoulders relax as he looked around, realizing where they were, that they were in Idris, and the war was over. And there was Alec; he had his hand still in Magnus’s. Magnus looked sick and exhausted, but he was alive. And there was Isabelle. She had come through the closest to Clary, only a foot or so away. She was already on her feet, her gaze scanning the room, once, twice, a desperate third time. They were all there, all of them, all except one. She looked down at Clary; her eyes were shining with tears. “Simon’s not here,” she said. “He’s really gone. ” The silence that had held the assembly of Shadowhunters in its grip seemed to break like a wave: Suddenly there were Nephilim running toward them. Clary saw her mother and Luke, Robert and Maryse, Aline and Helen, even Emma Carstairs, moving to surround them, to embrace them and heal them and help them. Clary knew they meant well, that they were running to the rescue, but she felt no relief. Her hand tightening on the gold ring in her palm, she curled up against the floor and finally allowed herself to cry.