City of Heavenly Fire – Chapter 3: BIRDS TO THE MOUNTAIN

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Chapter 3: BIRDS TO THE MOUNTAIN

Clary set her bag down by the door and looked around. She could hear her mother and Luke moving around her, putting down their own luggage, turning on the witchlights that illuminated Amatis’s house. Clary braced herself. They still had little idea how Amatis had been taken by Sebastian. Though the place had already been examined by Council members for dangerous materials, Clary knew her brother. If the mood had taken him, he would have destroyed everything in the house, just to show that he could—turned the sofas to kindling, shattered the glass in the mirrors, blown the windows to smithereens. She heard her mother give a small exhale of relief and knew Jocelyn must have been thinking what Clary was: Whatever had happened, the house looked fine. There was nothing in it to indicate that harm had come to Amatis. Books were stacked on the coffee table, the floors were dusty but uncluttered, the photographs on the walls were straight. Clary saw with a pang that there was a recent photograph near the fireplace of her, Luke, and Jocelyn at Coney Island, arms around one another, smiling. She thought of the last time she had seen Luke’s sister, Sebastian forcing Amatis to drink from the Infernal Cup as she screamed in protest. The way the personality had faded out of her eyes after she had swallowed its contents. Clary wondered if that was what it was like to watch someone die. Not that she hadn’t seen death, too. Valentine had died in front of her. Surely she was too young to have so many ghosts. Luke had moved to look at the fireplace, and the photos hanging around it. He reached out to touch one that showed two blue-eyed children. One of them, the younger boy, was drawing, while his sister looked on, her expression fond. Luke looked exhausted. Their Portal travel had taken them to the Gard, and they had walked down through the city to Amatis’s house. Luke still winced often from the pain of the wound in his side that hadn’t quite healed, but Clary doubted that the injury was what was affecting him. The quiet in Amatis’s house, the homey rag rugs on the floor, the carefully arranged personal mementoes—everything spoke of an ordinary life interrupted in the most terrible way possible. Jocelyn moved over to put her hand on Luke’s shoulder, murmuring soothingly. He turned in the circle of her arms, putting his head against her shoulder. It was more comforting than in any way romantic, but Clary still felt as if she had stumbled on a private moment. Soundlessly she plucked up her duffel bag and made her way up the stairs. The spare room hadn’t changed. Small; the walls painted white; the windows, like portholes, circular—there was the window Jace had crawled through one night—and the same colorful quilt on the bed. She dropped her bag onto the floor near the nightstand. The nightstand, where Jace had left a letter in the morning, telling her he was going and he wasn’t coming back. She sat down on the edge of the bed, trying to shake off the web of memories. She hadn’t realized how hard it would be to be back in Idris. New York was home, normal. Idris was war and devastation. In Idris she had seen death for the first time. Her blood was humming, pounding hard in her ears. She wanted to see Jace, to see Alec and Isabelle—they would ground her, give her a sense of normalcy. She was able, very faintly, to hear her mother and Luke moving around downstairs, possibly even the clink of cups in the kitchen. She swung herself off the bed and went to the foot, where a square trunk rested. It was the trunk Amatis had brought up for her when she had been here before, telling her to go through it to find clothes. She knelt down now and opened it. The same clothes, carefully packed away between layers of paper: school uniforms, practical sweaters and jeans, more formal shirts and skirts, and beneath that a dress Clary had first thought was a wedding gown. She drew it out. Now that she was more familiar with Shadowhunters and their world, she recognized it for what it was. Mourning clothes. A white dress, simple, and a close-fitting jacket, with silver mourning runes worked into the material—and there, at the cuffs, an almost invisible design of birds. Herons. Clary laid the clothes carefully on the bed. She could see, in her mind’s eye, Amatis wearing these clothes when Stephen Herondale had died. Putting them on carefully, smoothing down the fabric, buttoning the jacket close, all to mourn a man to whom she’d no longer been married. Widow’s clothes for someone who had not been able to call herself a widow. “Clary?” It was her mother, leaning in the doorway, watching her. “What are those—Oh. ” She crossed the room, touched the fabric of the dress, and sighed. “Oh, Amatis. ” “She never did get over Stephen, did she?” asked Clary. “Sometimes people don’t. ” Jocelyn’s hand moved from the dress to Clary’s hair, tucked it back with quick motherly precision. “And Nephilim—we do tend to love very overwhelmingly. To fall in love only once, to die of grief over love—my old tutor used to say that the hearts of Nephilim were like the hearts of angels: They felt every human pain, and never healed. ” “But you did. You loved Valentine, but now you love Luke. ” “I know. ” Jocelyn’s look was faraway. “It wasn’t until I spent more time in the mundane world that I started to realize that it wasn’t how most human beings thought of love. I realized that you might have it more than once, that your heart could heal, that you could love over and over again. And I always loved Luke. I might not have known it, but I always did love him. ” Jocelyn pointed at the clothes on the bed. “You should wear the mourning jacket,” she said. “Tomorrow. ” Startled, Clary said, “To the meeting?” “Shadowhunters have died and been turned Dark,” said Jocelyn. “Every Shadowhunter lost is someone’s son, brother, sister, cousin. Nephilim are a family. A dysfunctional family, but . . . ” She touched her daughter’s face, her own expression hidden in the shadows. “Get some sleep, Clary,” she said. “Tomorrow is going to be a long day. ” After the door shut behind her mother, Clary put on her nightgown and then clambered obediently into bed. She shut her eyes and tried to sleep, but sleep wouldn’t come. Images kept bursting behind her eyelids like fireworks: angels falling from the sky; golden blood; Ithuriel in his chains, with his blinded eyes, telling her of the images of runes he had given her through her life, the visions and dreams of the future. She remembered her dreams of her brother with black wings that spilled blood, walking across a frozen lake. . . . She threw the coverlet off. She felt hot and itchy, too strung-up to sleep. After getting out of bed, she padded downstairs in search of a glass of water. The living room was half-lit, dim witchlight spilling down the corridor. Murmurs came from beyond the door. Someone was awake, and talking in the kitchen. Clary moved down the corridor warily, until soft overheard whispers began to take on shape and familiarity. She recognized her mother’s voice first, taut with distress. “But I just don’t understand how it could have been in the cupboard,” she was saying. “I haven’t seen it since—since Valentine took everything we owned, back in New York. ” Luke spoke: “Didn’t Clary say that Jonathan had it?” “Yes, but then it would have been destroyed with that foul apartment, wouldn’t it?” Jocelyn’s voice rose as Clary moved to stand in the doorway of the kitchen. “The one with all the clothes Valentine bought for me. As if I were coming back. ” Clary stood very still. Her mother and Luke were sitting at the kitchen table; her mother had her head down on one hand, and Luke was rubbing her back. Clary had told her mother everything about the apartment, about how Valentine had maintained it with all Jocelyn’s things there, determined that one day his wife would come back and live with him. Her mother had listened calmly, but clearly the story had upset her much more than Clary had realized. “He’s gone now, Jocelyn,” said Luke. “I know it might seem half-impossible. Valentine was always such a huge presence, even when he was in hiding. But he really is dead. ” “My son isn’t, though,” said Jocelyn. “You know, I used to take this box out and cry over it, every year, on his birthday? 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. ” Take it out and cry over it, Clary thought—she knew what box her mother meant. A box that was a memorial to a child that had died, though he still lived. The box had contained locks of his baby hair, photographs, and a tiny shoe. The last time Clary had seen it, it had been in her brother’s possession. Valentine must have given it to him, though she could never understand why Sebastian had kept it. He was hardly the sentimental sort. “You’re going to have to tell the Clave,” Luke said. “If it’s something that has to do with Sebastian, they’ll want to know. ” Clary felt her stomach go cold. “I wish I didn’t have to,” Jocelyn said. “I wish I could throw the whole thing into the fire. I hate that this is my fault,” she burst out. “And all I’ve ever wanted was to protect Clary. But the thing that frightens me most for her, for all of us, is someone who wouldn’t even be alive if it weren’t for me. ” Jocelyn’s voice had gone flat and bitter. “I should have killed him when he was a baby,” she said, and leaned back, away from Luke, so that Clary saw what was on the surface of the kitchen table. It was the silver box, just as she remembered it. Heavy, with a simple lid, and the initials J. C. carved into the side.

The morning sun sparkled off the new gates in front of the Gard. The old ones, Clary guessed, had been destroyed in the battle that had wrecked much of the Gard and scorched the trees along the hillside. Past the gates she could see Alicante below, shimmering water in the canals, the demon towers reaching up to where sunlight made them glitter like mica sparkling in stone. The Gard itself had been restored. Fire had not destroyed the stone walls or towers. A wall still ran around it, and the new gates were made of the hard, clear adamas that formed the demon towers. They seemed to have been hand-wrought, their lines curving in to circle around the symbol of the Council—four Cs in a square, standing for Council, Covenant, Clave, and Consul. The curvature of each C held a symbol of one of the branches of Downworlders. A crescent moon for the wolves, a spell book for the warlocks, an elf arrow for the Fair Folk, and for the vampires, a star. A star. She hadn’t been able to think of anything that symbolized vampires, herself. Blood? Fangs? But there was something simple and elegant about the star. It was bright in the darkness, a darkness that would never be illuminated, and it was lonely the way only things that could never die were lonely. Clary missed Simon with a sharp pain. She was exhausted after a night of little sleep, and her emotional resources were low. It didn’t help that she felt as if she were the center of a hundred hostile stares. There were dozens of Shadowhunters milling around the gates, most of them unfamiliar to her. Many were shooting Jocelyn and Luke covert glances; a few were coming up to greet them, while others stood back looking curious. Jocelyn seemed to be keeping her calm with a certain amount of effort. More Shadowhunters were coming up the path along the Gard Hill. With relief Clary recognized the Lightwoods—Maryse in front, with Robert beside her; Isabelle, Alec, and Jace following. They were wearing white mourning clothes. Maryse looked especially somber. Clary couldn’t help but notice that she and Robert were walking side by side but apart, not even their hands touching. Jace broke away from the group and moved over toward her. Gazes followed him as he went, though he seemed not to notice. He was famous in a strange sort of way among the Nephilim—Valentine’s son, who had not really been his son. Kidnapped by Sebastian, rescued by the blade of Heaven. Clary knew the story well, as did everyone else close to Jace, but the rumors had grown like coral, adding layers and colors of story. “. . . angel blood . . . ” “. . . special powers . . . ” “. . . heard that Valentine taught him tricks . . . ” “. . . fire in his blood . . . ” “. . . not right for Nephilim . . . ” She could hear the whispers, even as Jace moved among them. It was a bright winter day, cold but sunny, and the light picked the gold and silver threads out of his hair and made her squint as he came up to her at the gate. “Mourning clothes?” he said, touching the sleeve of her jacket. “You’re wearing them,” she pointed out. “I didn’t think you had any. ” “Amatis’s,” she said. “Listen—I have to tell you something. ” He let her draw him aside. Clary described the conversation she had overheard between her mother and Luke about the box. “It’s definitely the box I remember. It’s the one my mother had when I was growing up, and the one that was in Sebastian’s apartment when I was there. ” Jace raked a hand through the light strands of his hair. “I thought there was something,” he said. “Maryse got a message from your mother this morning. ” His gaze was inward. “Sebastian Turned Luke’s sister,” he added. “He did it on purpose, to hurt Luke and hurt your mother through Luke. He hates her. He must have come to Alicante to get Amatis, that night we fought at the Burren. He as much as told me he was going to do it, back when we were bound. He said he was going to kidnap a Shadowhunter from Alicante, just not which one. ” Clary nodded. It was always strange to hear Jace talk about the self he had been, the Jace who had been Sebastian’s friend—more than his friend, his ally. The Jace who had worn her Jace’s skin and face but had been someone else entirely. “He must have brought the box with him then, left it in her house,” Jace added. “He would have known that your family would find it one day. He would have thought of it as a message, or a signature. ” “Is that what the Clave thinks?” Clary asked. “It’s what I think,” Jace said, focusing on her. “And you know we both can read Sebastian better than they can, or ever will. They don’t understand him at all. ” “Aren’t they lucky. ” The sound of a bell echoed through the air, and the gates slid open. Clary and Jace joined the Lightwoods, Luke, and Jocelyn in the tide of Shadowhunters pouring through. They passed through the gardens outside the fortress, up a set of stairs, then through another set of doors into a long corridor that ended at the Council chamber. Jia Penhallow, in Consul robes, stood at the entrance to the chamber as Shadowhunter after Shadowhunter came through. It was built like an amphitheater: a half circle of tiered benches facing a rectangular raised dais in the front of the room. There were two lecterns on the dais, one for the Consul and one for the Inquisitor, and behind the lecterns two windows, massive rectangles, looked out over Alicante. Clary moved to sit with the Lightwoods and her mother, while Robert Lightwood broke away from them and headed down the center aisle to take up the place of the Inquisitor. On the dais, behind the lecterns, were four tall chairs, the back of each inscribed with a symbol: spell book, moon, arrow, star. The seats for the Downworlders of the Council. Luke eyed his but seated himself next to Jocelyn. This was not a full Council meeting, with Downworlder attendance. Luke wasn’t here in an official capacity. In front of the seats a table had been erected, draped with blue velvet. Atop the velvet lay something long and sharp, something that glimmered in the light from the windows. The Mortal Sword. Clary glanced around. The flood of Shadowhunters had slowed to a trickle; the room was nearly filled to its echoing roof. There had once been more entrances than through the Gard. Westminster Abbey had had one, she knew, as had the Sagrada Família and Saint Basil the Blessed, but they had been sealed when Portals were invented. She couldn’t help but wonder if some kind of magic kept the Council room from overflowing. It was as full as she had ever seen it, but there were still empty seats when Jia Penhallow stepped up onto the stage and clapped her hands sharply. “Will the Council please come to attention,” she said. Silence fell quickly; many of the Shadowhunters were straining forward. Rumors had been flying around like panicked birds, and there was an electricity in the room, the crackling current of people desperate for information. “Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Oslo, Berlin, Moscow, Los Angeles,” said Jia. “Attacked in quick succession, before the attacks could be reported. Before warnings could be given. Every Conclave in these cities has had its Shadowhunters captured and Turned. A few—pitifully few, the very old or very young—were simply killed, their bodies left for us to burn, to add to the voices of lost Shadowhunters in the Silent City. ” A voice spoke from one of the front rows. A woman with black hair, the tattooed silver design of a koi fish standing out on the dark skin of her cheek. Clary rarely saw Shadowhunters with tattoos that weren’t Marks, but it wasn’t unheard of. “You say ‘Turned,’?” she said. “But do you not mean ‘slain’?” Jia’s mouth tightened. “I do not mean ‘slain,’?” she said. “I mean ‘Turned. ’ We speak of the Endarkened, the ones Jonathan Morgenstern—or as he prefers to be known, Sebastian—Turned from their purpose as Nephilim using the Infernal Cup. Every Institute was issued reports of what happened at the Burren. The existence of the Endarkened is something we have known of now for some time, even if there were perhaps those who did not want to believe it. ” A murmur went around the room. Clary barely heard it. She was aware that Jace’s hand was around hers, but she was hearing the wind on the Burren, and seeing Shadowhunters rising from the Infernal Cup to face Sebastian, the Marks of the Gray Book already fading from their skin. . . . “Shadowhunters don’t fight Shadowhunters,” said an older man in one of the front rows. Jace murmured into her ear that he was the head of the Reykjavík Institute. “It is blasphemy. ” “It is blasphemy,” Jia agreed. “Blasphemy is Sebastian Morgenstern’s creed. His father wanted to cleanse the world of Downworlders. Sebastian wants something very different. He wants Nephilim reduced to ashes, and he wants to use Nephilim to do it. ” “Surely if he was able to turn Nephilim into—into monsters, we ought to be able to find a way to turn them back,” said Nasreen Choudhury, the head of the Mumbai Institute, regal in her rune-decorated white sari. “Surely we should not give up so easily on our own. ” “The body of one of the Endarkened was found at the Berlin site,” said Robert. “He was injured, probably left for dead. The Silent Brothers are examining him right now to see if they can glean any information that might lead to a cure. ” “Which Endarkened?” demanded the woman with the koi tattoo. “He had a name before he was Turned. A Shadowhunter name. ” “Amalric Kriegsmesser,” said Robert after a moment’s hesitation. “His family has already been told. ” The warlocks of the Spiral Labyrinth are also working on a cure. The whispered omnidirectional voice of a Silent Brother echoed in the room. Clary recognized Brother Zachariah standing with his hands folded near the dais. Beside him was Helen Blackthorn, dressed in white mourning clothes, looking anxious. “They’re warlocks,” said someone else in a dismissive tone. “Surely they won’t do any better than our own Silent Brothers. ” “Can’t Kriegsmesser be interrogated?” interrupted a tall woman with white hair. “Perhaps he knows Sebastian’s next move, or even a manner of curing his condition—” Amalric Kriegsmesser is barely conscious, and besides, he is a servant of the Infernal Cup, said Brother Zachariah. The Infernal Cup controls him completely. He has no will of his own and therefore no will to break. The woman with the koi tattoo spoke out again: “Is it true that Sebastian Morgenstern is invulnerable now? That he can’t be killed?” There was a murmur in the room. Jia spoke, raising her voice, “As I said, there were no Nephilim survivors from the first of the attacks. But the last attack was on the Institute in Los Angeles, and six survived. Six children. ” She turned. “Helen Blackthorn, if you please, bring the witnesses out. ” Clary saw Helen nod, and disappear through a side door. A moment later she returned; she was walking slowly now, and carefully, her hand on the back of a thin boy with a mop of wavy brown hair. He couldn’t have been older than twelve. Clary recognized him immediately. She had seen him in the nave of the Institute the first time she had met Helen, his wrist clamped in his older sister’s grip, his hands covered in wax where he had been playing with the tapers that decorated the interior of the cathedral. He had had an impish grin and the same blue-green eyes as his sister. Julian, Helen had called him. Her little brother. The impish grin was gone now. He looked tired and dirty and frightened. Skinny wrists stuck out of the cuffs of a white mourning jacket, the sleeves of which were too short for him. In his arms he was carrying a little boy, probably not more than three years old, with tangled brown curls; it seemed to be a family trait. The rest of the children wore similar borrowed mourning clothes. Following Julian was a girl of about ten, her hand firmly clasped in the hold of a boy the same age. The girl’s hair was dark brown, but the boy had tangled black curls that nearly obscured his face. Fraternal twins, Clary guessed. After them came a girl who might have been eight or nine, her face round and very pale between brown braids. All of the Blackthorns—for the family resemblance was striking—looked bewildered and terrified, except perhaps Helen, whose expression was a mixture of fury and grief. The misery on their faces cut at Clary’s heart. She thought of her power with runes, wishing that she could create one that would soften the blow of loss. Mourning runes existed, but only to honor the dead, in the same way that love runes existed, like wedding rings, to symbolize the bond of love. You couldn’t make someone love you with a rune, and you couldn’t assuage grief with it either. So much magic, Clary thought, and nothing to mend a broken heart. “Julian Blackthorn,” said Jia Penhallow, and her voice was gentle. “Step forward, please. ” Julian swallowed and nodded, handing the little boy he was holding to his older sister. He stepped forward, his eyes darting around the dais. He was clearly scouring the space for someone. His shoulders had just begun to slump when another figure darted out onto the stage. A girl, also about twelve, with a tangle of dark blond hair that hung down around her shoulders. She wore jeans and a T-shirt that didn’t quite fit, and her head was down, as if she couldn’t bear so many people looking at her. It was clear that she didn’t want to be there—on the stage or perhaps even in Idris—but the moment he saw her, Julian seemed to relax. The terrified look vanished from his expression as she moved to stand beside Helen, her face tucked down and away from the crowd. “Julian,” said Jia in the same gentle voice, “would you do something for us? Would you take up the Mortal Sword?” Clary sat up straight. She had held the Mortal Sword; she had felt the weight of it. The cold, like hooks in your skin, dragged the truth out of you. You couldn’t lie holding the Mortal Sword, but the truth, even a truth you wanted to tell, was agony. “They can’t,” she whispered. “He’s just a kid—” “He’s the oldest of the children who escaped the Los Angeles Institute,” Jace said under his breath. “They don’t have a choice. ” Julian nodded, his thin shoulders straight. “I’ll take it. ” Robert Lightwood passed behind the lectern then and went to the table. He took up the Sword and returned to stand in front of Julian. The contrast between them was almost funny—the big, barrel-chested man and the lanky, wild-haired boy. Julian reached a hand up and took the Sword. As his fingers closed around the hilt, he shuddered, a ripple of pain that was quickly forced down. The blond girl behind him started forward, and Clary caught a glimpse of the look on her face—pure fury—before Helen caught at her and pulled her back. Jia knelt down. It was a strange sight, the boy with the Sword, bracketed on one side by the Consul, her robes spreading out about her, and on the other by the Inquisitor. “Julian,” Jia said, and though her voice was low, it carried throughout the Council room. “Can you tell us who is on the stage here with you today?” In his clear boy’s voice Julian said, “You. The Inquisitor. My family—my sister Helen, and Tiberius and Livia, and Drusilla and Tavvy. Octavian. And my best friend, Emma Carstairs. ” “And they were all with you when the Institute was attacked?” Julian shook his head. “Not Helen,” he said. “She was here. ” “Can you tell us what you saw, Julian? Without leaving anything out?” Julian swallowed. He was pale. Clary could imagine the pain he was feeling, the weight of the Sword. “It was in the afternoon,” he said. “We were practicing in the training room. Katerina was teaching us. Mark was watching. Emma’s parents were on a routine patrol at the beach. We saw a flash of light; I thought it was lightning, or fireworks. But—it wasn’t. Katerina and Mark left us and went downstairs. They told us to stay in the training room. ” “But you didn’t,” Jia said. “We could hear the sounds of fighting. We split up—Emma went to get Drusilla and Octavian, and I went to the office with Livia and Tiberius to call the Clave. We had to sneak by the main entrance to get there. When we did, I saw him. ” “Him?” “I knew he was a Shadowhunter, but not. He was wearing a red cloak, covered in runes. ” “What runes?” “I didn’t know them, but there was something wrong with them. Not like the Gray Book runes. They gave me a sort of sick feeling to look at. And he pushed his hood back—he had white hair, so I thought he was old at first. Then I realized it was Sebastian Morgenstern. He was holding a sword. ” “Can you describe the sword?” “Silver, with a pattern of black stars on the blade and the handle. He took it out and he—” Julian’s breath skittered, and Clary could almost feel it, feel his horror at the recollection warring with the compulsion to tell it, to relive it. She was leaning forward, her hands in fists, hardly aware that her nails were digging into her palms. “He held it to my father’s throat,” Julian went on. “There were others with Sebastian. They were wearing red too—” “Shadowhunters?” Jia said. “I don’t know. ” Julian’s breath was coming short. “Some wore black cloaks. Others wore gear, but their gear was red. I’ve never seen red gear. There was a woman, with brown hair, and she was holding a cup that looked like the Mortal Cup. She made my father drink out of it. He fell down and screamed. I could hear my brother screaming too. ” “Which brother?” asked Robert Lightwood. “Mark,” said Julian. “I saw them start to move into the entryway, and Mark turned around and shouted for us to run upstairs and get out. I fell on the top step, and when I looked down, they were swarming all over him—” Julian made a gagging sound. “And my father, he was standing up, and his eyes were black too, and he started moving toward Mark like the rest of them, like he didn’t even know him—” Julian’s voice cracked, just as the blonde girl wrenched herself free of Helen’s grasp and hurtled forward, throwing herself between Julian and the Consul. “Emma!” Helen said, stepping forward, but Jia held out a hand to keep her back. Emma was white-faced and gasping. Clary thought she had never seen so much anger contained in such a small form. “Leave him alone!” Emma shouted, throwing her arms out wide, as if she could shield Julian behind her, though she was a head shorter. “You’re torturing him! Leave him alone!” “It’s okay, Emma,” Julian said, though the color was starting to come back into his face now that they were no longer questioning him. “They have to do it. ” She turned on him. “No, they don’t. I was there too. I saw what happened. Do it to me. ” She held out her hands, as if begging for the Sword to be put into them. “I’m the one who stabbed Sebastian in the heart. I’m the one who saw him not die. You should be asking me!” “No,” Julian began, and then Jia said, still gently: “Emma, we will question you, next. The Sword is painful, but not harmful—” “Stop it,” Emma said. “Just stop it. ” And she walked over to Julian, who was holding the Sword tightly. It was clear he had no intention of trying to hand it over. He was shaking his head at Emma, even as she laid her hands over his, so that both of them were holding the Sword together. “I stabbed Sebastian,” Emma said, in a voice that rang out through the room. “And he pulled the dagger out and laughed. He said, ‘It’s a shame you won’t live. Live to tell the Clave that Lilith has strengthened me beyond all measure. Perhaps Glorious could end my life. A pity for the Nephilim that they have no more favors they can ask of Heaven, and none of the puny instruments of war they forge in their Adamant Citadel can harm me now. ’?” Clary shuddered. She heard Sebastian through Emma’s words, and could almost see him, standing in front of her. Chatter had burst out among the Clave, drowning what Jace said to her next. “Are you sure you didn’t miss the heart?” Robert demanded, his dark eyebrows drawn together. It was Julian who answered. “Emma doesn’t miss,” he said, sounding as offended as if they had just insulted him. “I know where the heart is,” Emma said, stepping back from Julian and casting a look of anger—more than anger, hurt—at the Consul and the Inquisitor. “But I don’t think you do. ” Her voice rose, and she spun and ran off the dais, practically elbowing her way past Robert. She disappeared through the door from which she had come, and Clary heard her own breath rush out through her teeth—wasn’t anyone going to go after her? Julian clearly wanted to, but, trapped between the Consul and Inquisitor, carrying the weight of the Mortal Sword, he couldn’t move. Helen was looking after her with an expression of raw pain, her arms cradling the youngest boy, Tavvy. And then Clary was on her feet. Her mother reached for her, but she was already running down the sloping aisle between the rows of seats. The aisle turned into wooden steps; Clary clattered up them, past the Consul and Inquisitor, past Helen, and through the side door after Emma. She nearly knocked over Aline, who was hovering near the open door, watching what was going on in the Council room and scowling. The scowl disappeared when she saw Clary, and was replaced by a look of surprise. “What are you doing?” “The little girl,” Clary said breathlessly. “Emma. She ran back here. ” “I know. I tried to stop her, but she pulled away from me. She’s just . . . ” Aline sighed and glanced at the Council room, where Jia had begun to question Julian again. “It’s been so hard on them, Helen and the others. You know their mother died, only a few years ago. All they’ve got now is an uncle in London. ” “Does that mean they’re going to move the kids to London? You know, when this is all over,” Clary said. Aline shook her head. “Their uncle’s been offered the leadership of the Los Angeles Institute. I think the hope is that he’ll take over the job and raise the kids. I don’t think he’s agreed yet, though. He’s probably in shock. I mean, he lost his nephew, his brother—Andrew Blackthorn isn’t dead, but he might as well be. In a way, it’s worse. ” Her voice was bitter. “I know,” Clary said. “I know exactly what that’s like. ” Aline looked at her more closely. “I suppose you do know,” she said. “It’s just—Helen. I wish I could do more for her. She’s eating herself up with guilt because she was here with me and not in Los Angeles when the Institute was attacked. And she’s trying so hard, but she can’t be a mom to all those kids, and their uncle hasn’t gotten here yet, and then there’s Emma, Angel help her. She doesn’t even have a scrap of family left—” “I’d like to talk to her. To Emma. ” Aline tucked a lock of hair behind her ear; the Blackthorn ring shimmered on her right hand. “She won’t talk to anyone but Julian. ” “Let me try,” Clary urged. “Please. ” Aline looked at the determined expression on Clary’s face and sighed. “Down the hall—the first room on the left. ”

The hall curved away from the Council room. Clary could hear the voices of the Shadowhunters fading as she walked. The walls were smooth stone, lined with tapestries that depicted various glorious scenes from Shadowhunter history. The first door that appeared on her left was wooden, very plain. It was partly ajar, but she rapped quickly before opening it, so as not to surprise whoever was inside. It was a simple room, with wooden wainscoting and a jumble of chairs, hastily assembled. It felt to Clary like a hospital waiting room. It had that heavy sense in the air, of an impermanent place where people spent their anxiety and grief in unfamiliar surroundings. In the corner of the room was a chair propped against a wall, and in the chair was Emma. She looked smaller than she had from a distance. She was only wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt and on her bare arms were Marks, the Voyance rune on her left hand—so she was left-handed like Jace—which lay on the hilt of an unsheathed shortsword lying across her lap. Up close Clary could see that her hair was a pale blonde, but tangled and dirty enough that it had looked darker. From between the tangles the girl glared up at Clary defiantly. “What?” she said. “What do you want?” “Nothing,” Clary said, pushing the door shut behind her. “Just to talk to you. ” Emma’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “You want to use the Mortal Sword on me? Interrogate me?” “No. I’ve had it used on me, and it’s awful. I’m sorry they’re using it on your friend. I think they should find another way. ” “I think they should trust him,” said Emma. “Julian doesn’t lie. ” She looked at Clary challengingly, as if daring her to disagree. “Of course he doesn’t,” Clary said, and took a step into the room—she felt as if she were trying not to frighten off some kind of wild creature in the forest. “Julian’s your best friend, isn’t he?” Emma nodded. “My best friend is a boy too. His name is Simon. ” “So where is he?” Emma’s eyes flicked behind Clary, as if she expected Simon to materialize suddenly. “He’s in New York,” said Clary. “I miss him a lot. ” Emma looked as if this made enormous sense. “Julian went to New York once,” she said. “I missed him, so when he got back, I made him promise he wouldn’t go anywhere without me again. ” Clary smiled, and moved closer to Emma. “Your sword is beautiful,” she said, pointing at the blade across the girl’s lap. Emma’s expression softened fractionally. She touched the blade, which was etched with a delicate pattern of leaves and runes. The crossbar was gold, and across the blade were carved words: I am Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durendal. “It was my father’s. It’s been passed down through the Carstairs family. It’s a famous sword,” she added proudly. “It was made a long time ago. ” “?‘Of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durendal,’?” said Clary. “Those are both famous swords. You know who owns famous swords?” “Who?” “Heroes,” Clary said, kneeling down on the ground so she could look up into the girl’s face. Emma scowled. “I’m not a hero,” she said. “I didn’t do anything to save Julian’s father, or Mark. ” “I’m so sorry,” said Clary. “I know how it is to watch someone you care about go Dark. Get turned into someone else. ” But Emma was shaking her head. “Mark didn’t go Dark. He got taken away. ” Clary frowned. “Taken away?” “They didn’t want him to drink from the Cup because of his faerie blood,” said Emma, and Clary recalled Alec saying that there was a faerie ancestor in the Blackthorn family tree. As if anticipating Clary’s next question, Emma said wearily, “Only Mark and Helen have faerie blood. They had the same mother, but she left them with Mr. Blackthorn when they were small. Julian and the others had a different mom. ” “Oh,” Clary said, not wanting to press too hard, not wanting this damaged girl to think that she was just another adult who saw Emma as a source of answers for her questions and nothing else. “I know Helen. Does Mark look like her?” “Yeah—Helen and Mark have pointy ears a little, and light hair. None of the rest of the Blackthorns are blond. They all have brown hair except Ty, and no one knows why he has black hair. Livvy doesn’t have it, and she’s his twin. ” A little color and animation had come back into Emma’s face; it was clear she liked to talk about the Blackthorns. “So they didn’t want Mark to drink from the Cup?” said Clary. Privately she was surprised that Sebastian would care one way or the other. He’d never had Valentine’s obsession with Downworlders, though it wasn’t as if he liked them. “Maybe it doesn’t work if you have Downworlder blood. ” “Maybe,” said Emma. Clary reached out and put her hand over one of Emma’s. She dreaded the answer but couldn’t keep herself from asking the question. “He didn’t Turn your parents, did he?” “No—no,” Emma said, and now her voice was shaking. “They’re dead. They weren’t at the Institute; they were investigating a report of demon activity. Their bodies washed up on the beach after the attack. I could have gone with them, but I wanted to stay back at the Institute. I wanted to train with Jules. If I’d just gone with them—” “If you had, you’d be dead too,” said Clary. “How would you know?” Emma demanded, but there was something in her eyes, something that wanted to believe it. “I can see what a good Shadowhunter you are,” Clary said. “I see your Marks. I see your scars. And how you hold your sword. If you’re that good, I can only imagine they were really good too. And something that could have killed them both isn’t something you could have saved them from. ” She touched the sword lightly. “Heroes aren’t always the ones who win,” she said. “They’re the ones who lose, sometimes. But they keep fighting, they keep coming back. They don’t give up. That’s what makes them heroes. ” Emma drew in a shaky breath, just as a rapping noise sounded at the door. Clary half-turned as it opened, letting in light from the hall outside, and Jace. He caught her eye and smiled, leaning in the doorway. His hair was very dark gold, his eyes a shade lighter. Clary sometimes thought she could see the fire inside him, lighting his eyes and skin and veins, moving just under the surface. “Clary,” he said. Clary thought she heard a small squeak from behind her. Emma was clutching her sword, looking between Clary and Jace with very large eyes. “The Council’s over,” he said. “And I don’t think Jia’s any too pleased you came running back here. ” “So I’m in trouble,” Clary said. “As usual,” Jace said, but his smile took any sting out of it. “We’re all leaving. Are you ready to go?” She shook her head. “I’ll meet you at your house. You guys can fill me in on what happened at the Council then. ” He hesitated. “Get Aline or Helen to come with you,” he said finally. “The Consul’s house is just down the street from the Inquisitor’s. ” He zipped his jacket up and slipped out of the room, closing the door behind him. Clary turned back to Emma, who was still staring at her. “You know Jace Lightwood?” said Emma. “I— What?” “He’s famous,” Emma said with obvious amazement. “He’s the best Shadowhunter. The best. ” “He’s my friend,” Clary said, noting that the conversation had taken an unexpected turn. Emma gave her a superior look. “He’s your boyfriend. ” “How did you—” “I saw the way he looked at you,” said Emma, “and anyway, everyone knows Jace Lightwood has a girlfriend and she’s Clary Fairchild. Why didn’t you tell me your name?” “I guess I didn’t think you’d know it,” Clary said, reeling. “I’m not stupid,” Emma said, with an air of annoyance that had Clary straightening up quickly before she could laugh. “No, you’re not. You’re really smart,” said Clary. “And I’m glad you know who I am, because I want you to know you can come talk to me anytime. Not just about what happened at the Institute—about whatever you want. And you can talk to Jace, too. Do you need to know where to find us?” Emma shook her head. “No,” she said, her voice soft again. “I know where the Inquistor’s house is. ” “Okay. ” Clary folded her hands, mostly to keep herself from reaching out and hugging the girl. She didn’t think Emma would appreciate it. Clary turned toward the door. “If you’re Jace Lightwood’s girlfriend, you should have a better sword,” Emma said suddenly, and Clary glanced down at the blade she’d strapped on that morning, an old one she’d packed with her belongings from New York. She touched the hilt. “This one isn’t good?” Emma shook her head. “Not good at all. ” She sounded so serious that Clary smiled. “Thanks for the advice. ”

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